Background.

Oliver Twist
  • I never gave yet, for any job of work where there wasn’t valuable consideration to be gained” is a quotation from Oliver Twist (Chapter 45).

Context.

Quotation said by the character Fagin, who is talking to Noah Claypole. Morris Bolter is also present. Fagin has offered to pay Claypole to follow someone (Nacy). The ever-greedy Fagin appears to gloat about how much he is prepared to pay Claypole as he has other motives behind the secret work.

Fagin is suspicious of Nancy after she tries to leave her lover, Bill Sikes, late at night. Believing she has a lover Fagin plans to watch her in order to discover the identity of her new romance, with the intention of blackmailing Nancy once he knows the secret.In Chapter 45 of Fagin asks Noah Claypole to follow a woman (not revealing it is Nancy). He offers to pay him one pound.This quotation reflects that he is prepared to pay Claypole on the belief that he will earn higher returns (from blackmailing).

Nancy
Nancy, portrayed in an illustration by George Cruikshank.

Character Profile: Fagin.

A career criminal who prefers to employ others to commit his crimes, Fagin exploits homeless children, offering them accomodation whilst training them to become pickpockets and perform other criminal activities in return. He lives with his gang of thieves in the notorious rookery of Saffron Hill. Charles Dickens named the character after Bob Fagin, a friend who worked with him at Warren’s Blacking Factory when he was just 12. Fagin is frequently referred to as “the Jew”, a term has been the subject of much debate over antisemitism, during Dickens’ lifetime and in modern times. The name Fagin has subsequently become a byword to describe adults who use children for illegal activities.

Source.

Taken from the following passage in Chapter 45 of Oliver Twist:

Fagin affected to laugh very heartily; and Mr. Bolter having had his laugh out, took a series of large bites, which finished his first hunk of bread and butter, and assisted himself to a second.

‘I want you, Bolter,’ said Fagin, leaning over the table, ‘to do a piece of work for me, my dear, that needs great care and caution.’

‘I say,’ rejoined Bolter, ‘don’t yer go shoving me into danger, or sending me any more o’ yer police-offices. That don’t suit me, that don’t; and so I tell yer.’

‘That’s not the smallest danger in it—not the very smallest,’ said the Jew; ‘it’s only to dodge a woman.’

‘An old woman?’ demanded Mr. Bolter.

‘A young one,’ replied Fagin.

‘I can do that pretty well, I know,’ said Bolter. ‘I was a regular cunning sneak when I was at school. What am I to dodge her for? Not to—’

‘Not to do anything, but to tell me where she goes, who she sees, and, if possible, what she says; to remember the street, if it is a street, or the house, if it is a house; and to bring me back all the information you can.’

‘What’ll yer give me?’ asked Noah, setting down his cup, and looking his employer, eagerly, in the face.

‘If you do it well, a pound, my dear. One pound,’ said Fagin, wishing to interest him in the scent as much as possible. ‘And that’s what I never gave yet, for any job of work where there wasn’t valuable consideration to be gained.’

‘Who is she?’ inquired Noah.

‘One of us.’

‘Oh Lor!’ cried Noah, curling up his nose. ‘Yer doubtful of her, are yer?’

‘She has found out some new friends, my dear, and I must know who they are,’ replied Fagin.

‘I see,’ said Noah. ‘Just to have the pleasure of knowing them, if they’re respectable people, eh? Ha! ha! ha! I’m your man.’

‘I knew you would be,’ cried Fagin, elated by the success of his proposal.

‘Of course, of course,’ replied Noah. ‘Where is she? Where am I to wait for her? Where am I to go?’

‘All that, my dear, you shall hear from me. I’ll point her out at the proper time,’ said Fagin. ‘You keep ready, and leave the rest to me.’

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I never gave yet, for any job of work where there wasn’t valuable consideration to be gained.
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