After reading the final volume of Humphry Clinker, I thought the coupling up of most characters showed a forward movement or change for them that completely eluded Matthew Bramble. While I find it a stretch to say all of the characters were changed by the end of the story (for example, Lydia is no less attached to physical objects), I think most of them were at least in a different place either in their lives or in their way of thinking (Tabitha’s fear of dying alone is resolved through her marriage to Lt. Lismahago). Matthew Bramble, however, has completed an extended journey, witnessed new things, like London, and met many different people (including a long, lost son!) but by the end of the novel, his desires and opinions have not been altered. On top of that, his gout has not been cured, which was the reason for the trip in the first place. In Matthew’s final letter to his Doctor, he explains that Jery and others are journeying back through Bath and London, to which he writes, “—For my part, I have no intention to take that route.—It must be something very extraordinary that will induce me to revisit either Bath or London.” I found it interesting that by the end of a story where almost every other character leaves with something (or someone) they did not have before, Matthew Bramble wants nothing more than what he had before the trip, mainly to be back at Brambleton Hall and to cure his gout.
I think that Matthew Bramble misses his sense of security and power that he and Tabitha alone have in Brambleton Hall, where he not only owns his house and property, but also owns the workers on it, who in London presented a threat to his way of life. Through his description of London, I felt that he first and most obviously was disgusted by the lower class’ feeling of equality (or at least their attempt at doing and purchasing upper-class things). But secondly, I got the feeling through his tone that he also felt superior to fellow upper-class individuals, because they lived in the city of filth, where they were cramped next to the lower-class. This realization made me consider that perhaps Matthew Bramble is quick to turn around and go home by the end of the novel because he was frightened by the lack of separation and extreme distinguishing of classes that he had become so accustomed to.