Wednesday, November 7, 2007



1. The Pickwickians
2. The first Day's Journey, and the first Evening's
Adventures; with their Consequences
3. A new Acquaintance--The Stroller's Tale--A
disagreeable Interruption, and an unpleasant
4. A Field Day and Bivouac--More new Friends--An
Invitation to the Country
5. A short one--Showing, among other Matters, how
Mr. Pickwick undertook to drive, and Mr. Winkle
to ride, and how they both did it
6. An old-fashioned Card-party--The Clergyman's
verses--The Story of the Convict's Return
7. How Mr. Winkle, instead of shooting at the Pigeon
and killing the Crow, shot at the Crow and
wounded the Pigeon; how the Dingley Dell
Cricket Club played All-Muggleton, and how All-
Muggleton dined at the Dingley Dell Expense;
with other interesting and instructive Matters
8. Strongly illustrative of the Position, that the
Course of True Love is not a Railway
9. A Discovery and a Chase
10. Clearing up all Doubts (if any existed) of the
Disinterestedness of Mr. A. Jingle's Character
11. Involving another Journey, and an Antiquarian
Discovery; Recording Mr. Pickwick's Determination
to be present at an Election; and containing
a Manuscript of the old Clergyman's
12. Descriptive of a very important Proceeding on
the Part of Mr. Pickwick; no less an Epoch in his
Life, than in this History
13. Some Account of Eatanswill; of the State of
Parties therein; and of the Election of a Member
to serve in Parliament for that ancient, loyal,
and patriotic Borough
14. Comprising a brief Description of the Company
at the Peacock assembled; and a Tale told by a
15. In which is given a faithful Portraiture of two
distinguished Persons; and an accurate Description
of a public Breakfast in their House and Grounds:
which public Breakfast leads to the Recognition
of an old Acquaintance, and the Commencement of
another Chapter
16. Too full of Adventure to be briefly described
17. Showing that an Attack of Rheumatism, in some
Cases, acts as a Quickener to inventive Genius
18. Briefly illustrative of two Points; first, the
Power of Hysterics, and, secondly, the Force of
19. A pleasant Day with an unpleasant Termination
20. Showing how Dodson and Fogg were Men of
Business, and their Clerks Men of pleasure; and
how an affecting Interview took place between
Mr. Weller and his long-lost Parent; showing also
what Choice Spirits assembled at the Magpie and
Stump, and what a Capital Chapter the next one
will be
21. In which the old Man launches forth into his
favourite Theme, and relates a Story about a
queer Client
22. Mr. Pickwick journeys to Ipswich and meets with
a romantic Adventure with a middle-aged Lady
in yellow Curl-papers
23. In which Mr. Samuel Weller begins to devote his
Energies to the Return Match between himself
and Mr. Trotter
24. Wherein Mr. Peter Magnus grows jealous, and the
middle-aged Lady apprehensive, which brings the
Pickwickians within the Grasp of the Law
25. Showing, among a Variety of pleasant Matters,
how majestic and impartial Mr. Nupkins was; and
how Mr. Weller returned Mr. Job Trotter's
Shuttlecock as heavily as it came--With another
Matter, which will be found in its Place
26. Which contains a brief Account of the Progress
of the Action of Bardell against Pickwick
27. Samuel Weller makes a Pilgrimage to Dorking,
and beholds his Mother-in-law
28. A good-humoured Christmas Chapter, containing
an Account of a Wedding, and some other Sports
beside: which although in their Way even as good
Customs as Marriage itself, are not quite so
religiously kept up, in these degenerate Times
29. The Story of the Goblins who stole a Sexton
30. How the Pickwickians made and cultivated the
Acquaintance of a Couple of nice young Men
belonging to one of the liberal Professions; how
they disported themselves on the Ice; and how
their Visit came to a Conclusion
31. Which is all about the Law, and sundry Great
Authorities learned therein
32. Describes, far more fully than the Court Newsman
ever did, a Bachelor's Party, given by Mr.
Bob Sawyer at his Lodgings in the Borough
33. Mr. Weller the elder delivers some Critical Sentiments
respecting Literary Composition; and,
assisted by his Son Samuel, pays a small Instalment
of Retaliation to the Account of the Reverend
Gentleman with the Red Nose
34. Is wholly devoted to a full and faithful Report
of the memorable Trial of Bardell against Pickwick
35. In which Mr. Pickwick thinks he had better go to
Bath; and goes accordingly
36. The chief Features of which will be found to be
an authentic Version of the Legend of Prince
Bladud, and a most extraordinary Calamity that
befell Mr. Winkle
37. Honourably accounts for Mr. Weller's Absence,
by describing a Soiree to which he was invited
and went; also relates how he was intrusted by
Mr. Pickwick with a Private Mission of Delicacy
and Importance
38. How Mr. Winkle, when he stepped out of the
Frying-pan, walked gently and comfortably into
the Fire
39. Mr. Samuel Weller, being intrusted with a Mission
of Love, proceeds to execute it; with what Success
will hereinafter appear
40. Introduces Mr. Pickwick to a new and not uninteresting
Scene in the great Drama of Life
41. Whatt befell Mr. Pickwick when he got into the
Fleet; what Prisoners he saw there; and how he
passed the Night
42. Illustrative, like the preceding one, of the old
Proverb, that Adversity brings a Man acquainted
with strange Bedfellows--Likewise containing Mr.
Pickwick's extraordinary and startling Announcement
to Mr. Samuel Weller
43. Showing how Mr. Samuel Weller got into Difficulties
44. Treats of divers little Matters which occurred
in the Fleet, and of Mr. Winkle's mysterious
Behaviour; and shows how the poor Chancery
Prisoner obtained his Release at last
45. Descriptive of an affecting Interview between Mr.
Samuel Weller and a Family Party. Mr. Pickwick
makes a Tour of the diminutive World he
inhabits, and resolves to mix with it, in Future,
as little as possible
46. Records a touching Act of delicate Feeling not
unmixed with Pleasantry, achieved and performed
by Messrs. Dodson and Fogg
47. Is chiefly devoted to Matters of Business,
and the temporal Advantage of Dodson and Fogg--
Mr. Winkle reappears under extraordinary
Circumstances--Mr. Pickwick's Benevolence proves
stronger than his Obstinacy
48. Relates how Mr. Pickwick, with the Assistance
of Samuel Weller, essayed to soften the Heart
of Mr. Benjamin Allen, and to mollify the Wrath
of Mr. Robert Sawyer
49. Containing the Story of the Bagman's Uncle
50. How Mr. Pickwick sped upon his Mission, and how
he was reinforced in the Outset by a most
unexpected Auxiliary
51. In which Mr. Pickwick encounters an old
Acquaintance--To which fortunate Circumstance
the Reader is mainly indebted for Matter of
thrilling Interest herein set down, concerning
two great Public Men of Might and Power
52. Involving a serious Change in the Weller Family,
and the untimely Downfall of Mr. Stiggins
53. Comprising the final Exit of Mr. Jingle and Job
Trotter, with a great Morning of business in
Gray's Inn Square--Concluding with a Double
Knock at Mr. Perker's Door
54. Containing some Particulars relative to the
Double Knock, and other Matters: among which
certain interesting Disclosures relative to Mr.
Snodgrass and a Young Lady are by no Means
irrelevant to this History
55. Mr. Solomon Pell, assisted by a Select Committee
of Coachmen, arranges the affairs of the elder
Mr. Weller
56. An important Conference takes place between
Mr. Pickwick and Samuel Weller, at which his
Parent assists--An old Gentleman in a snuffcoloured
Suit arrives unexpectedly
57. In which the Pickwick Club is finally dissolved,
and everything concluded to the Satisfaction
of Everybody
The first ray of light which illumines the gloom, and converts
into a dazzling brilliancy that obscurity in which the earlier
history of the public career of the immortal Pickwick would
appear to be involved, is derived from the perusal of the following
entry in the Transactions of the Pickwick Club, which the editor
of these papers feels the highest pleasure in laying before his
readers, as a proof of the careful attention, indefatigable assiduity,
and nice discrimination, with which his search among the multifarious
documents confided to him has been conducted.
'May 12, 1827. Joseph Smiggers, Esq., P.V.P.M.P.C. [Perpetual
Vice-President--Member Pickwick Club], presiding. The following
resolutions unanimously agreed to:--
'That this Association has heard read, with feelings of unmingled
satisfaction, and unqualified approval, the paper communicated by Samuel
Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C. [General Chairman--Member Pickwick Club],
entitled "Speculations on the Source of the Hampstead Ponds, with some
Observations on the Theory of Tittlebats;" and that this Association
does hereby return its warmest thanks to the said Samuel
Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C., for the same.
'That while this Association is deeply sensible of the advantages
which must accrue to the cause of science, from the production
to which they have just adverted--no less than from the unwearied
researches of Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C., in Hornsey,
Highgate, Brixton, and Camberwell--they cannot but entertain
a lively sense of the inestimable benefits which must inevitably
result from carrying the speculations of that learned man into a
wider field, from extending his travels, and, consequently,
enlarging his sphere of observation, to the advancement of
knowledge, and the diffusion of learning.
'That, with the view just mentioned, this Association has taken
into its serious consideration a proposal, emanating from the
aforesaid, Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C., and three other
Pickwickians hereinafter named, for forming a new branch of
United Pickwickians, under the title of The Corresponding
Society of the Pickwick Club.
'That the said proposal has received the sanction and approval
of this Association.
'That the Corresponding Society of the Pickwick Club is
therefore hereby constituted; and that Samuel Pickwick, Esq.,
G.C.M.P.C., Tracy Tupman, Esq., M.P.C., Augustus Snodgrass,
Esq., M.P.C., and Nathaniel Winkle, Esq., M.P.C., are hereby
nominated and appointed members of the same; and that they
be requested to forward, from time to time, authenticated
accounts of their journeys and investigations, of their observations
of character and manners, and of the whole of their
adventures, together with all tales and papers to which local
scenery or associations may give rise, to the Pickwick Club,
stationed in London.
'That this Association cordially recognises the principle of
every member of the Corresponding Society defraying his own
travelling expenses; and that it sees no objection whatever to the
members of the said society pursuing their inquiries for any
length of time they please, upon the same terms.
'That the members of the aforesaid Corresponding Society be,
and are hereby informed, that their proposal to pay the postage
of their letters, and the carriage of their parcels, has been
deliberated upon by this Association: that this Association
considers such proposal worthy of the great minds from which it
emanated, and that it hereby signifies its perfect acquiescence
A casual observer, adds the secretary, to whose notes we are
indebted for the following account--a casual observer might
possibly have remarked nothing extraordinary in the bald head,
and circular spectacles, which were intently turned towards his
(the secretary's) face, during the reading of the above resolutions:
to those who knew that the gigantic brain of Pickwick was
working beneath that forehead, and that the beaming eyes of
Pickwick were twinkling behind those glasses, the sight was
indeed an interesting one. There sat the man who had traced to
their source the mighty ponds of Hampstead, and agitated the
scientific world with his Theory of Tittlebats, as calm and
unmoved as the deep waters of the one on a frosty day, or as a
solitary specimen of the other in the inmost recesses of an earthen
jar. And how much more interesting did the spectacle become,
when, starting into full life and animation, as a simultaneous call
for 'Pickwick' burst from his followers, that illustrious man
slowly mounted into the Windsor chair, on which he had been
previously seated, and addressed the club himself had founded.
What a study for an artist did that exciting scene present! The
eloquent Pickwick, with one hand gracefully concealed behind
his coat tails, and the other waving in air to assist his glowing
declamation; his elevated position revealing those tights and
gaiters, which, had they clothed an ordinary man, might have
passed without observation, but which, when Pickwick clothed
them--if we may use the expression--inspired involuntary awe
and respect; surrounded by the men who had volunteered to
share the perils of his travels, and who were destined to participate
in the glories of his discoveries. On his right sat Mr. Tracy
Tupman--the too susceptible Tupman, who to the wisdom and
experience of maturer years superadded the enthusiasm and
ardour of a boy in the most interesting and pardonable of human
weaknesses--love. Time and feeding had expanded that once
romantic form; the black silk waistcoat had become more and
more developed; inch by inch had the gold watch-chain beneath
it disappeared from within the range of Tupman's vision; and
gradually had the capacious chin encroached upon the borders of
the white cravat: but the soul of Tupman had known no change
--admiration of the fair sex was still its ruling passion. On the
left of his great leader sat the poetic Snodgrass, and near him
again the sporting Winkle; the former poetically enveloped in a
mysterious blue cloak with a canine-skin collar, and the latter
communicating additional lustre to a new green shooting-coat,
plaid neckerchief, and closely-fitted drabs.
Mr. Pickwick's oration upon this occasion, together with the
debate thereon, is entered on the Transactions of the Club. Both
bear a strong affinity to the discussions of other celebrated
bodies; and, as it is always interesting to trace a resemblance
between the proceedings of great men, we transfer the entry to
these pages.
'Mr. Pickwick observed (says the secretary) that fame was dear
to the heart of every man. Poetic fame was dear to the heart of
his friend Snodgrass; the fame of conquest was equally dear to
his friend Tupman; and the desire of earning fame in the sports
of the field, the air, and the water was uppermost in the breast of
his friend Winkle. He (Mr. Pickwick) would not deny that he was
influenced by human passions and human feelings (cheers)--
possibly by human weaknesses (loud cries of "No"); but this he
would say, that if ever the fire of self-importance broke out in his
bosom, the desire to benefit the human race in preference
effectually quenched it. The praise of mankind was his swing;
philanthropy was his insurance office. (Vehement cheering.) He
had felt some pride--he acknowledged it freely, and let his
enemies make the most of it--he had felt some pride when he
presented his Tittlebatian Theory to the world; it might be
celebrated or it might not. (A cry of "It is," and great cheering.)
He would take the assertion of that honourable Pickwickian
whose voice he had just heard--it was celebrated; but if the fame
of that treatise were to extend to the farthest confines of the
known world, the pride with which he should reflect on the
authorship of that production would be as nothing compared
with the pride with which he looked around him, on this, the
proudest moment of his existence. (Cheers.) He was a humble
individual. ("No, no.") Still he could not but feel that they had
selected him for a service of great honour, and of some danger.
Travelling was in a troubled state, and the minds of coachmen
were unsettled. Let them look abroad and contemplate the scenes
which were enacting around them. Stage-coaches were upsetting
in all directions, horses were bolting, boats were overturning, and
boilers were bursting. (Cheers--a voice "No.") No! (Cheers.)
Let that honourable Pickwickian who cried "No" so loudly
come forward and deny it, if he could. (Cheers.) Who was it that
cried "No"? (Enthusiastic cheering.) Was it some vain and
disappointed man--he would not say haberdasher (loud cheers)
--who, jealous of the praise which had been--perhaps undeservedly--
bestowed on his (Mr. Pickwick's) researches, and smarting under
the censure which had been heaped upon his own feeble attempts at
rivalry, now took this vile and calumnious mode of---
'Mr. BLOTTON (of Aldgate) rose to order. Did the honourable
Pickwickian allude to him? (Cries of "Order," "Chair," "Yes,"
"No," "Go on," "Leave off," etc.)
'Mr. PICKWICK would not put up to be put down by clamour.
He had alluded to the honourable gentleman. (Great excitement.)
'Mr. BLOTTON would only say then, that he repelled the hon.
gent.'s false and scurrilous accusation, with profound contempt.
(Great cheering.) The hon. gent. was a humbug. (Immense confusion,
and loud cries of "Chair," and "Order.")
'Mr. A. SNODGRASS rose to order. He threw himself upon the
chair. (Hear.) He wished to know whether this disgraceful
contest between two members of that club should be allowed to
continue. (Hear, hear.)
'The CHAIRMAN was quite sure the hon. Pickwickian would
withdraw the expression he had just made use of.
'Mr. BLOTTON, with all possible respect for the chair, was quite
sure he would not.
'The CHAIRMAN felt it his imperative duty to demand of the
honourable gentleman, whether he had used the expression which
had just escaped him in a common sense.
'Mr. BLOTTON had no hesitation in saying that he had not--he
had used the word in its Pickwickian sense. (Hear, hear.) He was
bound to acknowledge that, personally, he entertained the
highest regard and esteem for the honourable gentleman; he had
merely considered him a humbug in a Pickwickian point of view.
(Hear, hear.)
'Mr. PICKWICK felt much gratified by the fair, candid, and full
explanation of his honourable friend. He begged it to be at once
understood, that his own observations had been merely intended
to bear a Pickwickian construction. (Cheers.)'
Here the entry terminates, as we have no doubt the debate did
also, after arriving at such a highly satisfactory and intelligible
point. We have no official statement of the facts which the reader
will find recorded in the next chapter, but they have been carefully
collated from letters and other MS. authorities, so unquestionably
genuine as to justify their narration in a connected form.
That punctual servant of all work, the sun, had just risen, and
begun to strike a light on the morning of the thirteenth of May,
one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, when Mr. Samuel
Pickwick burst like another sun from his slumbers, threw open his
chamber window, and looked out upon the world beneath. Goswell
Street was at his feet, Goswell Street was on his right hand--as
far as the eye could reach, Goswell Street extended on his left;
and the opposite side of Goswell Street was over the way. 'Such,'
thought Mr. Pickwick, 'are the narrow views of those philosophers
who, content with examining the things that lie before them, look
not to the truths which are hidden beyond. As well might I be
content to gaze on Goswell Street for ever, without one effort to
penetrate to the hidden countries which on every side surround
it.' And having given vent to this beautiful reflection, Mr.
Pickwick proceeded to put himself into his clothes, and his
clothes into his portmanteau. Great men are seldom over
scrupulous in the arrangement of their attire; the operation of
shaving, dressing, and coffee-imbibing was soon performed; and, in
another hour, Mr. Pickwick, with his portmanteau in his hand, his
telescope in his greatcoat pocket, and his note-book in his
waistcoat, ready for the reception of any discoveries worthy of
being noted down, had arrived at the coach-stand in
St. Martin's-le-Grand.
'Cab!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Here you are, sir,' shouted a strange specimen of the human
race, in a sackcloth coat, and apron of the same, who, with a brass
label and number round his neck, looked as if he were catalogued
in some collection of rarities. This was the waterman. 'Here you
are, sir. Now, then, fust cab!' And the first cab having been
fetched from the public-house, where he had been smoking his
first pipe, Mr. Pickwick and his portmanteau were thrown into
the vehicle.
'Golden Cross,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Only a bob's vorth, Tommy,' cried the driver sulkily, for the
information of his friend the waterman, as the cab drove off.
'How old is that horse, my friend?' inquired Mr. Pickwick,
rubbing his nose with the shilling he had reserved for the fare.
'Forty-two,' replied the driver, eyeing him askant.
'What!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, laying his hand upon his
note-book. The driver reiterated his former statement. Mr.
Pickwick looked very hard at the man's face, but his features
were immovable, so he noted down the fact forthwith.
'And how long do you keep him out at a time?'inquired Mr.
Pickwick, searching for further information.
'Two or three veeks,' replied the man.
'Weeks!' said Mr. Pickwick in astonishment, and out came the
note-book again.
'He lives at Pentonwil when he's at home,' observed the driver
coolly, 'but we seldom takes him home, on account of his weakness.'
'On account of his weakness!' reiterated the perplexed Mr. Pickwick.
'He always falls down when he's took out o' the cab,' continued
the driver, 'but when he's in it, we bears him up werry
tight, and takes him in werry short, so as he can't werry well fall
down; and we've got a pair o' precious large wheels on, so ven he
does move, they run after him, and he must go on--he can't
help it.'
Mr. Pickwick entered every word of this statement in his notebook,
with the view of communicating it to the club, as a singular
instance of the tenacity of life in horses under trying circumstances.
The entry was scarcely completed when they reached the
Golden Cross. Down jumped the driver, and out got Mr. Pickwick.
Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and Mr. Winkle, who had
been anxiously waiting the arrival of their illustrious leader,
crowded to welcome him.
'Here's your fare,' said Mr. Pickwick, holding out the shilling
to the driver.
What was the learned man's astonishment, when that unaccountable
person flung the money on the pavement, and
requested in figurative terms to be allowed the pleasure of fighting
him (Mr. Pickwick) for the amount!
'You are mad,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'Or drunk,' said Mr. Winkle.
'Or both,' said Mr. Tupman.
'Come on!' said the cab-driver, sparring away like clockwork.
'Come on--all four on you.'
'Here's a lark!' shouted half a dozen hackney coachmen. 'Go
to vork, Sam!--and they crowded with great glee round the
'What's the row, Sam?' inquired one gentleman in black calico sleeves.
'Row!' replied the cabman, 'what did he want my number for?'
'I didn't want your number,' said the astonished Mr. Pickwick.
'What did you take it for, then?' inquired the cabman.
'I didn't take it,' said Mr. Pickwick indignantly.
'Would anybody believe,' continued the cab-driver, appealing
to the crowd, 'would anybody believe as an informer'ud go about
in a man's cab, not only takin' down his number, but ev'ry word
he says into the bargain' (a light flashed upon Mr. Pickwick--it
was the note-book).
'Did he though?' inquired another cabman.
'Yes, did he,' replied the first; 'and then arter aggerawatin' me
to assault him, gets three witnesses here to prove it. But I'll give it
him, if I've six months for it. Come on!' and the cabman dashed
his hat upon the ground, with a reckless disregard of his own
private property, and knocked Mr. Pickwick's spectacles off, and
followed up the attack with a blow on Mr. Pickwick's nose, and
another on Mr. Pickwick's chest, and a third in Mr. Snodgrass's
eye, and a fourth, by way of variety, in Mr. Tupman's waistcoat,
and then danced into the road, and then back again to the pavement,
and finally dashed the whole temporary supply of breath
out of Mr. Winkle's body; and all in half a dozen seconds.
'Where's an officer?' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'Put 'em under the pump,' suggested a hot-pieman.
'You shall smart for this,' gasped Mr. Pickwick.
'Informers!' shouted the crowd.
'Come on,' cried the cabman, who had been sparring without
cessation the whole time.
The mob hitherto had been passive spectators of the scene, but
as the intelligence of the Pickwickians being informers was spread
among them, they began to canvass with considerable vivacity
the propriety of enforcing the heated pastry-vendor's proposition:
and there is no saying what acts of personal aggression they
might have committed, had not the affray been unexpectedly
terminated by the interposition of a new-comer.
'What's the fun?' said a rather tall, thin, young man, in a green
coat, emerging suddenly from the coach-yard.
'informers!' shouted the crowd again.
'We are not,' roared Mr. Pickwick, in a tone which, to any
dispassionate listener, carried conviction with it.
'Ain't you, though--ain't you?' said the young man, appealing
to Mr. Pickwick, and making his way through the crowd by the
infallible process of elbowing the countenances of its component members.
That learned man in a few hurried words explained the real
state of the case.
'Come along, then,' said he of the green coat, lugging Mr.
Pickwick after him by main force, and talking the whole way.
Here, No. 924, take your fare, and take yourself off--respectable
gentleman--know him well--none of your nonsense--this way,
sir--where's your friends?--all a mistake, I see--never mind--
accidents will happen--best regulated families--never say die--
down upon your luck--Pull him UP--Put that in his pipe--like
the flavour--damned rascals.' And with a lengthened string of
similar broken sentences, delivered with extraordinary volubility,
the stranger led the way to the traveller's waiting-room, whither
he was closely followed by Mr. Pickwick and his disciples.
'Here, waiter!' shouted the stranger, ringing the bell with
tremendous violence, 'glasses round--brandy-and-water, hot and
strong, and sweet, and plenty,--eye damaged, Sir? Waiter! raw
beef-steak for the gentleman's eye--nothing like raw beef-steak
for a bruise, sir; cold lamp-post very good, but lamp-post
inconvenient--damned odd standing in the open street half an
hour, with your eye against a lamp-post--eh,--very good--
ha! ha!' And the stranger, without stopping to take breath,
swallowed at a draught full half a pint of the reeking brandy-andwater,
and flung himself into a chair with as much ease as if
nothing uncommon had occurred.
While his three companions were busily engaged in proffering
their thanks to their new acquaintance, Mr. Pickwick had leisure
to examine his costume and appearance.
He was about the middle height, but the thinness of his body,
and the length of his legs, gave him the appearance of being
much taller. The green coat had been a smart dress garment in the
days of swallow-tails, but had evidently in those times adorned
a much shorter man than the stranger, for the soiled and faded
sleeves scarcely reached to his wrists. It was buttoned closely up
to his chin, at the imminent hazard of splitting the back; and an
old stock, without a vestige of shirt collar, ornamented his neck.
His scanty black trousers displayed here and there those shiny
patches which bespeak long service, and were strapped very
tightly over a pair of patched and mended shoes, as if to conceal
the dirty white stockings, which were nevertheless distinctly
visible. His long, black hair escaped in negligent waves from
beneath each side of his old pinched-up hat; and glimpses of his
bare wrists might be observed between the tops of his gloves and
the cuffs of his coat sleeves. His face was thin and haggard; but
an indescribable air of jaunty impudence and perfect selfpossession
pervaded the whole man.
Such was the individual on whom Mr. Pickwick gazed through
his spectacles (which he had fortunately recovered), and to whom
he proceeded, when his friends had exhausted themselves, to
return in chosen terms his warmest thanks for his recent assistance.
'Never mind,' said the stranger, cutting the address very short,
'said enough--no more; smart chap that cabman--handled
his fives well; but if I'd been your friend in the green jemmy--
damn me--punch his head,--'cod I would,--pig's whisper--
pieman too,--no gammon.'
This coherent speech was interrupted by the entrance of the
Rochester coachman, to announce that 'the Commodore' was on
the point of starting.
'Commodore!' said the stranger, starting up, 'my coach--
place booked,--one outside--leave you to pay for the brandyand-
water,--want change for a five,--bad silver--Brummagem
buttons--won't do--no go--eh?' and he shook his head most knowingly.
Now it so happened that Mr. Pickwick and his three
companions had resolved to make Rochester their first halting-place
too; and having intimated to their new-found acquaintance that
they were journeying to the same city, they agreed to occupy the
seat at the back of the coach, where they could all sit together.
'Up with you,' said the stranger, assisting Mr. Pickwick on to
the roof with so much precipitation as to impair the gravity of
that gentleman's deportment very materially.
'Any luggage, Sir?' inquired the coachman.
'Who--I? Brown paper parcel here, that's all--other luggage
gone by water--packing-cases, nailed up--big as houses--
heavy, heavy, damned heavy,' replied the stranger, as he forced
into his pocket as much as he could of the brown paper parcel,
which presented most suspicious indications of containing one
shirt and a handkerchief.
'Heads, heads--take care of your heads!' cried the loquacious
stranger, as they came out under the low archway, which in those
days formed the entrance to the coach-yard. 'Terrible place--
dangerous work--other day--five children--mother--tall lady,
eating sandwiches--forgot the arch--crash--knock--children
look round--mother's head off--sandwich in her hand--no
mouth to put it in--head of a family off--shocking, shocking!
Looking at Whitehall, sir?--fine place--little window--somebody
else's head off there, eh, sir?--he didn't keep a sharp
look-out enough either--eh, Sir, eh?'
'I am ruminating,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'on the strange
mutability of human affairs.'
'Ah! I see--in at the palace door one day, out at the window
the next. Philosopher, Sir?'
'An observer of human nature, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Ah, so am I. Most people are when they've little to do and less
to get. Poet, Sir?'
'My friend Mr. Snodgrass has a strong poetic turn,' said
Mr. Pickwick.
'So have I,' said the stranger. 'Epic poem--ten thousand lines
--revolution of July--composed it on the spot--Mars by day,
Apollo by night--bang the field-piece, twang the lyre.'
'You were present at that glorious scene, sir?' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'Present! think I was;* fired a musket--fired with an idea--
rushed into wine shop--wrote it down--back again--whiz, bang
--another idea--wine shop again--pen and ink--back again--
cut and slash--noble time, Sir. Sportsman, sir ?'abruptly turning
to Mr. Winkle.
[* A remarkable instance of the prophetic force of Mr.
Jingle's imagination; this dialogue occurring in the year
1827, and the Revolution in 1830.
'A little, Sir,' replied that gentleman.
'Fine pursuit, sir--fine pursuit.--Dogs, Sir?'
'Not just now,' said Mr. Winkle.
'Ah! you should keep dogs--fine animals--sagacious creatures
--dog of my own once--pointer--surprising instinct--out
shooting one day--entering inclosure--whistled--dog stopped--
whistled again--Ponto--no go; stock still--called him--Ponto,
Ponto--wouldn't move--dog transfixed--staring at a board--
looked up, saw an inscription--"Gamekeeper has orders to shoot
all dogs found in this inclosure"--wouldn't pass it--wonderful
dog--valuable dog that--very.'
'Singular circumstance that,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Will you
allow me to make a note of it?'
'Certainly, Sir, certainly--hundred more anecdotes of the same
animal.--Fine girl, Sir' (to Mr. Tracy Tupman, who had been
bestowing sundry anti-Pickwickian glances on a young lady by
the roadside).
'Very!' said Mr. Tupman.
'English girls not so fine as Spanish--noble creatures--jet hair
--black eyes--lovely forms--sweet creatures--beautiful.'
'You have been in Spain, sir?' said Mr. Tracy Tupman.
'Lived there--ages.'
'Many conquests, sir?' inquired Mr. Tupman.
'Conquests! Thousands. Don Bolaro Fizzgig--grandee--only
daughter--Donna Christina--splendid creature--loved me to
distraction--jealous father--high-souled daughter--handsome
Englishman--Donna Christina in despair--prussic acid--
stomach pump in my portmanteau--operation performed--old
Bolaro in ecstasies--consent to our union--join hands and floods
of tears--romantic story--very.'
'Is the lady in England now, sir?' inquired Mr. Tupman, on
whom the description of her charms had produced a powerful impression.
'Dead, sir--dead,' said the stranger, applying to his right eye
the brief remnant of a very old cambric handkerchief. 'Never
recovered the stomach pump--undermined constitution--fell a victim.'
'And her father?' inquired the poetic Snodgrass.
'Remorse and misery,' replied the stranger. 'Sudden
disappearance--talk of the whole city--search made everywhere
without success--public fountain in the great square suddenly
ceased playing--weeks elapsed--still a stoppage--workmen
employed to clean it--water drawn off--father-in-law discovered
sticking head first in the main pipe, with a full confession in his
right boot--took him out, and the fountain played away again,
as well as ever.'
'Will you allow me to note that little romance down, Sir?' said
Mr. Snodgrass, deeply affected.
'Certainly, Sir, certainly--fifty more if you like to hear 'em--
strange life mine--rather curious history--not extraordinary,
but singular.'
In this strain, with an occasional glass of ale, by way of
parenthesis, when the coach changed horses, did the stranger
proceed, until they reached Rochester bridge, by which time the
note-books, both of Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Snodgrass, were
completely filled with selections from his adventures.
'Magnificent ruin!' said Mr. Augustus Snodgrass, with all the
poetic fervour that distinguished him, when they came in sight of
the fine old castle.
'What a sight for an antiquarian!' were the very words which
fell from Mr. Pickwick's mouth, as he applied his telescope to his eye.
'Ah! fine place,' said the stranger, 'glorious pile--frowning
walls--tottering arches--dark nooks--crumbling staircases--old
cathedral too--earthy smell--pilgrims' feet wore away the old
steps--little Saxon doors--confessionals like money-takers'
boxes at theatres--queer customers those monks--popes, and
lord treasurers, and all sorts of old fellows, with great red faces,
and broken noses, turning up every day--buff jerkins too--
match-locks--sarcophagus--fine place--old legends too--strange
stories: capital;' and the stranger continued to soliloquise until
they reached the Bull Inn, in the High Street, where the coach stopped.
'Do you remain here, Sir?' inquired Mr. Nathaniel Winkle.
'Here--not I--but you'd better--good house--nice beds--
Wright's next house, dear--very dear--half-a-crown in the bill if
you look at the waiter--charge you more if you dine at a friend's
than they would if you dined in the coffee-room--rum fellows--very.'
Mr. Winkle turned to Mr. Pickwick, and murmured a few
words; a whisper passed from Mr. Pickwick to Mr. Snodgrass,
from Mr. Snodgrass to Mr. Tupman, and nods of assent were
exchanged. Mr. Pickwick addressed the stranger.
'You rendered us a very important service this morning, sir,'
said he, 'will you allow us to offer a slight mark of our gratitude
by begging the favour of your company at dinner?'
'Great pleasure--not presume to dictate, but broiled fowl and
mushrooms--capital thing! What time?'
'Let me see,' replied Mr. Pickwick, referring to his watch, 'it is
now nearly three. Shall we say five?'
'Suit me excellently,' said the stranger, 'five precisely--till then--care of
yourselves;' and lifting the pinched-up hat a few inches
from his head, and carelessly replacing it very much on one side,
the stranger, with half the brown paper parcel sticking out of his
pocket, walked briskly up the yard, and turned into the High Street.
'Evidently a traveller in many countries, and a close observer of
men and things,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'I should like to see his poem,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'I should like to have seen that dog,' said Mr. Winkle.
Mr. Tupman said nothing; but he thought of Donna Christina,
the stomach pump, and the fountain; and his eyes filled with tears.
A private sitting-room having been engaged, bedrooms
inspected, and dinner ordered, the party walked out to view the
city and adjoining neighbourhood.
We do not find, from a careful perusal of Mr. Pickwick's notes
of the four towns, Stroud, Rochester, Chatham, and Brompton,
that his impressions of their appearance differ in any material
point from those of other travellers who have gone over the same
ground. His general description is easily abridged.
'The principal productions of these towns,' says Mr. Pickwick,
'appear to be soldiers, sailors, Jews, chalk, shrimps, officers, and
dockyard men. The commodities chiefly exposed for sale in the
public streets are marine stores, hard-bake, apples, flat-fish, and
oysters. The streets present a lively and animated appearance,
occasioned chiefly by the conviviality of the military. It is truly
delightful to a philanthropic mind to see these gallant men
staggering along under the influence of an overflow both of
animal and ardent spirits; more especially when we remember
that the following them about, and jesting with them, affords a
cheap and innocent amusement for the boy population. Nothing,'
adds Mr. Pickwick, 'can exceed their good-humour. It was
but the day before my arrival that one of them had been most
grossly insulted in the house of a publican. The barmaid
had positively refused to draw him any more liquor; in return
for which he had (merely in playfulness) drawn his bayonet,
and wounded the girl in the shoulder. And yet this fine fellow
was the very first to go down to the house next morning and
express his readiness to overlook the matter, and forget what
had occurred!
'The consumption of tobacco in these towns,' continues Mr.
Pickwick, 'must be very great, and the smell which pervades the
streets must be exceedingly delicious to those who are extremely
fond of smoking. A superficial traveller might object to the dirt,
which is their leading characteristic; but to those who view it as
an indication of traffic and commercial prosperity, it is
truly gratifying.'
Punctual to five o'clock came the stranger, and shortly afterwards
the dinner. He had divested himself of his brown paper
parcel, but had made no alteration in his attire, and was, if
possible, more loquacious than ever.
'What's that?' he inquired, as the waiter removed one of the covers.
'Soles, Sir.'
'Soles--ah!--capital fish--all come from London-stagecoach
proprietors get up political dinners--carriage of soles--
dozens of baskets--cunning fellows. Glass of wine, Sir.'
'With pleasure,' said Mr. Pickwick; and the stranger took
wine, first with him, and then with Mr. Snodgrass, and then with
Mr. Tupman, and then with Mr. Winkle, and then with the
whole party together, almost as rapidly as he talked.
'Devil of a mess on the staircase, waiter,' said the stranger.
'Forms going up--carpenters coming down--lamps, glasses,
harps. What's going forward?'
'Ball, Sir,' said the waiter.
'Assembly, eh?'
'No, Sir, not assembly, Sir. Ball for the benefit of a charity, Sir.'
'Many fine women in this town, do you know, Sir?' inquired
Mr. Tupman, with great interest.
'Splendid--capital. Kent, sir--everybody knows Kent--
apples, cherries, hops, and women. Glass of wine, Sir!'
'With great pleasure,' replied Mr. Tupman. The stranger filled,
and emptied.
'I should very much like to go,' said Mr. Tupman, resuming
the subject of the ball, 'very much.'
'Tickets at the bar, Sir,' interposed the waiter; 'half-a-guinea
each, Sir.'
Mr. Tupman again expressed an earnest wish to be present at
the festivity; but meeting with no response in the darkened eye of
Mr. Snodgrass, or the abstracted gaze of Mr. Pickwick, he
applied himself with great interest to the port wine and dessert,
which had just been placed on the table. The waiter withdrew,
and the party were left to enjoy the cosy couple of hours
succeeding dinner.
'Beg your pardon, sir,' said the stranger, 'bottle stands--pass
it round--way of the sun--through the button-hole--no heeltaps,'
and he emptied his glass, which he had filled about two
minutes before, and poured out another, with the air of a man
who was used to it.
The wine was passed, and a fresh supply ordered. The visitor
talked, the Pickwickians listened. Mr. Tupman felt every moment
more disposed for the ball. Mr. Pickwick's countenance glowed
with an expression of universal philanthropy, and Mr. Winkle
and Mr. Snodgrass fell fast asleep.
'They're beginning upstairs,' said the stranger--'hear the
company--fiddles tuning--now the harp--there they go.' The
various sounds which found their way downstairs announced the
commencement of the first quadrille.
'How I should like to go,' said Mr. Tupman again.
'So should I,' said the stranger--'confounded luggage,--heavy
smacks--nothing to go in--odd, ain't it?'
Now general benevolence was one of the leading features of the
Pickwickian theory, and no one was more remarkable for the
zealous manner in which he observed so noble a principle than
Mr. Tracy Tupman. The number of instances recorded on the
Transactions of the Society, in which that excellent man referred
objects of charity to the houses of other members for left-off
garments or pecuniary relief is almost incredible.
'I should be very happy to lend you a change of apparel for the
purpose,' said Mr. Tracy Tupman, 'but you are rather slim, and
I am--'
'Rather fat--grown-up Bacchus--cut the leaves--dismounted
from the tub, and adopted kersey, eh?--not double distilled, but
double milled--ha! ha! pass the wine.'
Whether Mr. Tupman was somewhat indignant at the peremptory
tone in which he was desired to pass the wine which the
stranger passed so quickly away, or whether he felt very properly
scandalised at an influential member of the Pickwick Club being
ignominiously compared to a dismounted Bacchus, is a fact not
yet completely ascertained. He passed the wine, coughed twice,
and looked at the stranger for several seconds with a stern intensity;
as that individual, however, appeared perfectly collected,
and quite calm under his searching glance, he gradually relaxed,
and reverted to the subject of the ball.
'I was about to observe, Sir,' he said, 'that though my apparel
would be too large, a suit of my friend Mr. Winkle's would,
perhaps, fit you better.'
The stranger took Mr. Winkle's measure with his eye, and that
feature glistened with satisfaction as he said, 'Just the thing.'
Mr. Tupman looked round him. The wine, which had exerted
its somniferous influence over Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle,
had stolen upon the senses of Mr. Pickwick. That gentleman had
gradually passed through the various stages which precede the
lethargy produced by dinner, and its consequences. He had
undergone the ordinary transitions from the height of conviviality
to the depth of misery, and from the depth of misery to the height
of conviviality. Like a gas-lamp in the street, with the wind in the
pipe, he had exhibited for a moment an unnatural brilliancy, then
sank so low as to be scarcely discernible; after a short interval, he
had burst out again, to enlighten for a moment; then flickered
with an uncertain, staggering sort of light, and then gone out
altogether. His head was sunk upon his bosom, and perpetual
snoring, with a partial choke occasionally, were the only audible
indications of the great man's presence.
The temptation to be present at the ball, and to form his first
impressions of the beauty of the Kentish ladies, was strong upon
Mr. Tupman. The temptation to take the stranger with him was
equally great. He was wholly unacquainted with the place and its
inhabitants, and the stranger seemed to possess as great a
knowledge of both as if he had lived there from his infancy.
Mr. Winkle was asleep, and Mr. Tupman had had sufficient
experience in such matters to know that the moment he awoke he
would, in the ordinary course of nature, roll heavily to bed. He
was undecided. 'Fill your glass, and pass the wine,' said the
indefatigable visitor.
Mr. Tupman did as he was requested; and the additional
stimulus of the last glass settled his determination.
'Winkle's bedroom is inside mine,' said Mr. Tupman; 'I
couldn't make him understand what I wanted, if I woke him now,
but I know he has a dress-suit in a carpet bag; and supposing you
wore it to the ball, and took it off when we returned, I could
replace it without troubling him at all about the matter.'
'Capital,' said the stranger, 'famous plan--damned odd
situation--fourteen coats in the packing-cases, and obliged to
wear another man's--very good notion, that--very.'
'We must purchase our tickets,' said Mr. Tupman.
'Not worth while splitting a guinea,' said the stranger, 'toss
who shall pay for both--I call; you spin--first time--woman--
woman--bewitching woman,' and down came the sovereign with
the dragon (called by courtesy a woman) uppermost.
Mr. Tupman rang the bell, purchased the tickets, and ordered
chamber candlesticks. In another quarter of an hour the stranger
was completely arrayed in a full suit of Mr. Nathaniel Winkle's.
'It's a new coat,' said Mr. Tupman, as the stranger surveyed
himself with great complacency in a cheval glass; 'the first that's
been made with our club button,' and he called his companions'
attention to the large gilt button which displayed a bust of Mr.
Pickwick in the centre, and the letters 'P. C.' on either side.
'"P. C."' said the stranger--'queer set out--old fellow's
likeness, and "P. C."--What does "P. C." stand for--Peculiar
Coat, eh?'
Mr. Tupman, with rising indignation and great importance,
explained the mystic device.
'Rather short in the waist, ain't it?' said the stranger, screwing
himself round to catch a glimpse in the glass of the waist buttons,
which were half-way up his back. 'Like a general postman's coat
--queer coats those--made by contract--no measuring--
mysterious dispensations of Providence--all the short men get
long coats--all the long men short ones.' Running on in this way,
Mr. Tupman's new companion adjusted his dress, or rather the
dress of Mr. Winkle; and, accompanied by Mr. Tupman,
ascended the staircase leading to the ballroom.
'What names, sir?' said the man at the door. Mr. Tracy
Tupman was stepping forward to announce his own titles, when
the stranger prevented him.
'No names at all;' and then he whispered Mr. Tupman,
'names won't do--not known--very good names in their way,
but not great ones--capital names for a small party, but won't
make an impression in public assemblies--incog. the thing--
gentlemen from London--distinguished foreigners--anything.'
The door was thrown open, and Mr. Tracy Tupman and the
stranger entered the ballroom.
It was a long room, with crimson-covered benches, and wax
candles in glass chandeliers. The musicians were securely confined
in an elevated den, and quadrilles were being systematically
got through by two or three sets of dancers. Two card-tables were
made up in the adjoining card-room, and two pair of old ladies,
and a corresponding number of stout gentlemen, were executing
whist therein.
The finale concluded, the dancers promenaded the room, and
Mr. Tupman and his companion stationed themselves in a corner
to observe the company.
'Charming women,' said Mr. Tupman.
'Wait a minute,' said the stranger, 'fun presently--nobs not
come yet--queer place--dockyard people of upper rank don't
know dockyard people of lower rank--dockyard people of lower
rank don't know small gentry--small gentry don't know
tradespeople--commissioner don't know anybody.'
'Who's that little boy with the light hair and pink eyes, in a
fancy dress?'inquired Mr. Tupman.
'Hush, pray--pink eyes--fancy dress--little boy--nonsense--
ensign 97th--Honourable Wilmot Snipe--great family--Snipes--very.'
'Sir Thomas Clubber, Lady Clubber, and the Misses Clubber!'
shouted the man at the door in a stentorian voice. A great
sensation was created throughout the room by the entrance of a
tall gentleman in a blue coat and bright buttons, a large lady in
blue satin, and two young ladies, on a similar scale, in fashionablymade
dresses of the same hue.
'Commissioner--head of the yard--great man--remarkably
great man,' whispered the stranger in Mr. Tupman's ear, as the
charitable committee ushered Sir Thomas Clubber and family to
the top of the room. The Honourable Wilmot Snipe, and other
distinguished gentlemen crowded to render homage to the Misses
Clubber; and Sir Thomas Clubber stood bolt upright, and looked
majestically over his black kerchief at the assembled company.
'Mr. Smithie, Mrs. Smithie, and the Misses Smithie,' was the
next announcement.
'What's Mr. Smithie?' inquired Mr. Tracy Tupman.
'Something in the yard,' replied the stranger. Mr. Smithie
bowed deferentially to Sir Thomas Clubber; and Sir Thomas
Clubber acknowledged the salute with conscious condescension.
Lady Clubber took a telescopic view of Mrs. Smithie and family
through her eye-glass and Mrs. Smithie stared in her turn at
Mrs. Somebody-else, whose husband was not in the dockyard
at all.
'Colonel Bulder, Mrs. Colonel Bulder, and Miss Bulder,' were
the next arrivals.
'Head of the garrison,' said the stranger, in reply to Mr. Tupman's
inquiring look.
Miss Bulder was warmly welcomed by the Misses Clubber; the
greeting between Mrs. Colonel Bulder and Lady Clubber was of
the most affectionate description; Colonel Bulder and Sir Thomas
Clubber exchanged snuff-boxes, and looked very much like a pair
of Alexander Selkirks--'Monarchs of all they surveyed.'
While the aristocracy of the place--the Bulders, and Clubbers,
and Snipes--were thus preserving their dignity at the upper end
of the room, the other classes of society were imitating their
example in other parts of it. The less aristocratic officers of the
97th devoted themselves to the families of the less important
functionaries from the dockyard. The solicitors' wives, and the
wine-merchant's wife, headed another grade (the brewer's wife
visited the Bulders); and Mrs. Tomlinson, the post-office keeper,
seemed by mutual consent to have been chosen the leader of the
trade party.
One of the most popular personages, in his own circle, present,
was a little fat man, with a ring of upright black hair round his
head, and an extensive bald plain on the top of it--Doctor
Slammer, surgeon to the 97th. The doctor took snuff with
everybody, chatted with everybody, laughed, danced, made jokes,
played whist, did everything, and was everywhere. To these
pursuits, multifarious as they were, the little doctor added a
more important one than any--he was indefatigable in paying
the most unremitting and devoted attention to a little old widow,
whose rich dress and profusion of ornament bespoke her a most
desirable addition to a limited income.
Upon the doctor, and the widow, the eyes of both Mr. Tupman
and his companion had been fixed for some time, when the
stranger broke silence.
'Lots of money--old girl--pompous doctor--not a bad idea--
good fun,' were the intelligible sentences which issued from his
lips. Mr. Tupman looked inquisitively in his face.
'I'll dance with the widow,' said the stranger.
'Who is she?' inquired Mr. Tupman.
'Don't know--never saw her in all my life--cut out the doctor
--here goes.' And the stranger forthwith crossed the room; and,
leaning against a mantel-piece, commenced gazing with an air of
respectful and melancholy admiration on the fat countenance of
the little old lady. Mr. Tupman looked on, in mute astonishment.
The stranger progressed rapidly; the little doctor danced with
another lady; the widow dropped her fan; the stranger picked it
up, and presented it--a smile--a bow--a curtsey--a few words
of conversation. The stranger walked boldly up to, and returned
with, the master of the ceremonies; a little introductory pantomime;
and the stranger and Mrs. Budger took their places in a quadrille.
The surprise of Mr. Tupman at this summary proceeding, great
as it was, was immeasurably exceeded by the astonishment of the
doctor. The stranger was young, and the widow was flattered.
The doctor's attentions were unheeded by the widow; and the
doctor's indignation was wholly lost on his imperturbable rival.
Doctor Slammer was paralysed. He, Doctor Slammer, of the
97th, to be extinguished in a moment, by a man whom nobody
had ever seen before, and whom nobody knew even now! Doctor
Slammer--Doctor Slammer of the 97th rejected! Impossible! It
could not be! Yes, it was; there they were. What! introducing his
friend! Could he believe his eyes! He looked again, and was
under the painful necessity of admitting the veracity of his optics;
Mrs. Budger was dancing with Mr. Tracy Tupman; there was no
mistaking the fact. There was the widow before him, bouncing
bodily here and there, with unwonted vigour; and Mr. Tracy
Tupman hopping about, with a face expressive of the most
intense solemnity, dancing (as a good many people do) as if a
quadrille were not a thing to be laughed at, but a severe trial to
the feelings, which it requires inflexible resolution to encounter.
Silently and patiently did the doctor bear all this, and all the
handings of negus, and watching for glasses, and darting for
biscuits, and coquetting, that ensued; but, a few seconds after the
stranger had disappeared to lead Mrs. Budger to her carriage, he
darted swiftly from the room with every particle of his hithertobottled-
up indignation effervescing, from all parts of his countenance,
in a perspiration of passion.
The stranger was returning, and Mr. Tupman was beside him.
He spoke in a low tone, and laughed. The little doctor thirsted
for his life. He was exulting. He had triumphed.
'Sir!' said the doctor, in an awful voice, producing a card, and
retiring into an angle of the passage, 'my name is Slammer,
Doctor Slammer, sir--97th Regiment--Chatham Barracks--my
card, Sir, my card.' He would have added more, but his indignation
choked him.
'Ah!' replied the stranger coolly, 'Slammer--much obliged--
polite attention--not ill now, Slammer--but when I am--knock
you up.'
'You--you're a shuffler, sir,' gasped the furious doctor, 'a
poltroon--a coward--a liar--a--a--will nothing induce you to
give me your card, sir!'
'Oh! I see,' said the stranger, half aside, 'negus too strong here
--liberal landlord--very foolish--very--lemonade much better
--hot rooms--elderly gentlemen--suffer for it in the morning--
cruel--cruel;' and he moved on a step or two.
'You are stopping in this house, Sir,' said the indignant little
man; 'you are intoxicated now, Sir; you shall hear from me in the
morning, sir. I shall find you out, sir; I shall find you out.'
'Rather you found me out than found me at home,' replied the
unmoved stranger.
Doctor Slammer looked unutterable ferocity, as he fixed his
hat on his head with an indignant knock; and the stranger and
Mr. Tupman ascended to the bedroom of the latter to restore the
borrowed plumage to the unconscious Winkle.
That gentleman was fast asleep; the restoration was soon made.
The stranger was extremely jocose; and Mr. Tracy Tupman,
being quite bewildered with wine, negus, lights, and ladies,
thought the whole affair was an exquisite joke. His new friend
departed; and, after experiencing some slight difficulty in finding
the orifice in his nightcap, originally intended for the reception of
his head, and finally overturning his candlestick in his struggles to
put it on, Mr. Tracy Tupman managed to get into bed by a series
of complicated evolutions, and shortly afterwards sank into repose.
Seven o'clock had hardly ceased striking on the following
morning, when Mr. Pickwick's comprehensive mind was aroused
from the state of unconsciousness, in which slumber had plunged
it, by a loud knocking at his chamber door.
'Who's there?' said Mr. Pickwick, starting up in bed.
'Boots, sir.'
'What do you want?'
'Please, sir, can you tell me which gentleman of your party
wears a bright blue dress-coat, with a gilt button with "P. C."
on it?'
'It's been given out to brush,' thought Mr. Pickwick, 'and the
man has forgotten whom it belongs to.' 'Mr. Winkle,'he called
out, 'next room but two, on the right hand.'
'Thank'ee, sir,' said the Boots, and away he went.
'What's the matter?' cried Mr. Tupman, as a loud knocking at
his door roused hint from his oblivious repose.
'Can I speak to Mr. Winkle, sir?' replied Boots from the outside.
'Winkle--Winkle!' shouted Mr. Tupman, calling into the
inner room.
'Hollo!' replied a faint voice from within the bed-clothes.
'You're wanted--some one at the door;' and, having exerted
himself to articulate thus much, Mr. Tracy Tupman turned
round and fell fast asleep again.
'Wanted!' said Mr. Winkle, hastily jumping out of bed, and
putting on a few articles of clothing; 'wanted! at this distance
from town--who on earth can want me?'
'Gentleman in the coffee-room, sir,' replied the Boots, as
Mr. Winkle opened the door and confronted him; 'gentleman
says he'll not detain you a moment, Sir, but he can take no denial.'
'Very odd!' said Mr. Winkle; 'I'll be down directly.'
He hurriedly wrapped himself in a travelling-shawl and
dressing-gown, and proceeded downstairs. An old woman and a
couple of waiters were cleaning the coffee-room, and an officer in
undress uniform was looking out of the window. He turned
round as Mr. Winkle entered, and made a stiff inclination of the
head. Having ordered the attendants to retire, and closed the
door very carefully, he said, 'Mr. Winkle, I presume?'
'My name is Winkle, sir.'
'You will not be surprised, sir, when I inform you that I have
called here this morning on behalf of my friend, Doctor Slammer,
of the 97th.'
'Doctor Slammer!' said Mr. Winkle.
'Doctor Slammer. He begged me to express his opinion that
your conduct of last evening was of a description which no
gentleman could endure; and' (he added) 'which no one gentleman
would pursue towards another.'
Mr. Winkle's astonishment was too real, and too evident, to
escape the observation of Doctor Slammer's friend; he therefore
proceeded--'My friend, Doctor Slammer, requested me to add,
that he was firmly persuaded you were intoxicated during a
portion of the evening, and possibly unconscious of the extent of
the insult you were guilty of. He commissioned me to say, that
should this be pleaded as an excuse for your behaviour, he will
consent to accept a written apology, to be penned by you, from
my dictation.'
'A written apology!' repeated Mr. Winkle, in the most
emphatic tone of amazement possible.
'Of course you know the alternative,' replied the visitor coolly.
'Were you intrusted with this message to me by name?'
inquired Mr. Winkle, whose intellects were hopelessly confused
by this extraordinary conversation.
'I was not present myself,' replied the visitor, 'and in consequence
of your firm refusal to give your card to Doctor Slammer,
I was desired by that gentleman to identify the wearer of a very
uncommon coat--a bright blue dress-coat, with a gilt button
displaying a bust, and the letters "P. C."'
Mr. Winkle actually staggered with astonishment as he heard
his own costume thus minutely described. Doctor Slammer's
friend proceeded:--'From the inquiries I made at the bar, just
now, I was convinced that the owner of the coat in question
arrived here, with three gentlemen, yesterday afternoon. I
immediately sent up to the gentleman who was described as
appearing the head of the party, and he at once referred me to you.'
If the principal tower of Rochester Castle had suddenly walked
from its foundation, and stationed itself opposite the coffee-room
window, Mr. Winkle's surprise would have been as nothing
compared with the profound astonishment with which he had
heard this address. His first impression was that his coat had been
stolen. 'Will you allow me to detain you one moment?' said he.
'Certainly,' replied the unwelcome visitor.
Mr. Winkle ran hastily upstairs, and with a trembling hand
opened the bag. There was the coat in its usual place, but
exhibiting, on a close inspection, evident tokens of having been
worn on the preceding night.
'It must be so,' said Mr. Winkle, letting the coat fall from his
hands. 'I took too much wine after dinner, and have a very vague
recollection of walking about the streets, and smoking a cigar
afterwards. The fact is, I was very drunk;--I must have changed
my coat--gone somewhere--and insulted somebody--I have no
doubt of it; and this message is the terrible consequence.' Saying
which, Mr. Winkle retraced his steps in the direction of the
coffee-room, with the gloomy and dreadful resolve of accepting
the challenge of the warlike Doctor Slammer, and abiding by the
worst consequences that might ensue.
To this determination Mr. Winkle was urged by a variety of
considerations, the first of which was his reputation with the
club. He had always been looked up to as a high authority on all
matters of amusement and dexterity, whether offensive, defensive,
or inoffensive; and if, on this very first occasion of being put
to the test, he shrunk back from the trial, beneath his leader's eye,
his name and standing were lost for ever. Besides, he remembered
to have heard it frequently surmised by the uninitiated in such
matters that by an understood arrangement between the seconds,
the pistols were seldom loaded with ball; and, furthermore, he
reflected that if he applied to Mr. Snodgrass to act as his second,
and depicted the danger in glowing terms, that gentleman might
possibly communicate the intelligence to Mr. Pickwick, who
would certainly lose no time in transmitting it to the local
authorities, and thus prevent the killing or maiming of his follower.
Such were his thoughts when he returned to the coffee-room,
and intimated his intention of accepting the doctor's challenge.
'Will you refer me to a friend, to arrange the time and place of
meeting?' said the officer.
'Quite unnecessary,' replied Mr. Winkle; 'name them to me,
and I can procure the attendance of a friend afterwards.'
'Shall we say--sunset this evening?' inquired the officer, in a
careless tone.
'Very good,' replied Mr. Winkle, thinking in his heart it was
very bad.
'You know Fort Pitt?'
'Yes; I saw it yesterday.'
'If you will take the trouble to turn into the field which borders
the trench, take the foot-path to the left when you arrive at an
angle of the fortification, and keep straight on, till you see me, I
will precede you to a secluded place, where the affair can be
conducted without fear of interruption.'
'Fear of interruption!' thought Mr. Winkle.
'Nothing more to arrange, I think,' said the officer.
'I am not aware of anything more,' replied Mr. Winkle.
'Good-morning;' and the officer whistled a lively air as he
strode away.
That morning's breakfast passed heavily off. Mr. Tupman was
not in a condition to rise, after the unwonted dissipation of the
previous night; Mr. Snodgrass appeared to labour under a
poetical depression of spirits; and even Mr. Pickwick evinced an
unusual attachment to silence and soda-water. Mr. Winkle
eagerly watched his opportunity: it was not long wanting. Mr.
Snodgrass proposed a visit to the castle, and as Mr. Winkle was
the only other member of the party disposed to walk, they went
out together.
'Snodgrass,' said Mr. Winkle, when they had turned out of the
public street. 'Snodgrass, my dear fellow, can I rely upon your
secrecy?' As he said this, he most devoutly and earnestly hoped
he could not.
'You can,' replied Mr. Snodgrass. 'Hear me swear--'
'No, no,' interrupted Winkle, terrified at the idea of his
companion's unconsciously pledging himself not to give information;
'don't swear, don't swear; it's quite unnecessary.'
Mr. Snodgrass dropped the hand which he had, in the spirit of
poesy, raised towards the clouds as he made the above appeal,
and assumed an attitude of attention.
'I want your assistance, my dear fellow, in an affair of
honour,' said Mr. Winkle.
'You shall have it,' replied Mr. Snodgrass, clasping his friend's hand.
'With a doctor--Doctor Slammer, of the 97th,' said Mr.
Winkle, wishing to make the matter appear as solemn as possible;
'an affair with an officer, seconded by another officer, at sunset
this evening, in a lonely field beyond Fort Pitt.'
'I will attend you,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
He was astonished, but by no means dismayed. It is extraordinary
how cool any party but the principal can be in such cases. Mr. Winkle
had forgotten this. He had judged of his friend's feelings by his own.
'The consequences may be dreadful,' said Mr. Winkle.
'I hope not,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'The doctor, I believe, is a very good shot,' said Mr. Winkle.
'Most of these military men are,' observed Mr. Snodgrass
calmly; 'but so are you, ain't you?'
Mr. Winkle replied in the affirmative; and perceiving that he
had not alarmed his companion sufficiently, changed his ground.
'Snodgrass,' he said, in a voice tremulous with emotion, 'if I
fall, you will find in a packet which I shall place in your hands a
note for my-- for my father.'
This attack was a failure also. Mr. Snodgrass was affected, but
he undertook the delivery of the note as readily as if he had been
a twopenny postman.
'If I fall,' said Mr. Winkle, 'or if the doctor falls, you, my dear
friend, will be tried as an accessory before the fact. Shall I
involve my friend in transportation--possibly for life!'
Mr. Snodgrass winced a little at this, but his heroism was
invincible. 'In the cause of friendship,' he fervently exclaimed, 'I
would brave all dangers.'
How Mr. Winkle cursed his companion's devoted friendship
internally, as they walked silently along, side by side, for some
minutes, each immersed in his own meditations! The morning
was wearing away; he grew desperate.
'Snodgrass,' he said, stopping suddenly, 'do not let me be
balked in this matter--do not give information to the local
authorities--do not obtain the assistance of several peace
officers, to take either me or Doctor Slammer, of the 97th
Regiment, at present quartered in Chatham Barracks, into
custody, and thus prevent this duel!--I say, do not.'
Mr. Snodgrass seized his friend's hand warmly, as he
enthusiastically replied, 'Not for worlds!'
A thrill passed over Mr. Winkle's frame as the conviction that
he had nothing to hope from his friend's fears, and that he was
destined to become an animated target, rushed forcibly upon him.
The state of the case having been formally explained to Mr.
Snodgrass, and a case of satisfactory pistols, with the satisfactory
accompaniments of powder, ball, and caps, having been hired
from a manufacturer in Rochester, the two friends returned to
their inn; Mr. Winkle to ruminate on the approaching struggle,
and Mr. Snodgrass to arrange the weapons of war, and put them
into proper order for immediate use.
it was a dull and heavy evening when they again sallied forth
on their awkward errand. Mr. Winkle was muffled up in a huge
cloak to escape observation, and Mr. Snodgrass bore under his
the instruments of destruction.
'Have you got everything?' said Mr. Winkle, in an agitated tone.
'Everything,' replied Mr. Snodgrass; 'plenty of ammunition, in
case the shots don't take effect. There's a quarter of a pound of
powder in the case, and I have got two newspapers in my pocket
for the loadings.'
These were instances of friendship for which any man might
reasonably feel most grateful. The presumption is, that the
gratitude of Mr. Winkle was too powerful for utterance, as he
said nothing, but continued to walk on--rather slowly.
'We are in excellent time,' said Mr. Snodgrass, as they climbed
the fence of the first field;'the sun is just going down.' Mr. Winkle
looked up at the declining orb and painfully thought of the
probability of his 'going down' himself, before long.
'There's the officer,' exclaimed Mr. Winkle, after a few minutes walking.
'Where?' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'There--the gentleman in the blue cloak.' Mr. Snodgrass
looked in the direction indicated by the forefinger of his friend,
and observed a figure, muffled up, as he had described. The
officer evinced his consciousness of their presence by slightly
beckoning with his hand; and the two friends followed him at a
little distance, as he walked away.
The evening grew more dull every moment, and a melancholy
wind sounded through the deserted fields, like a distant giant
whistling for his house-dog. The sadness of the scene imparted a
sombre tinge to the feelings of Mr. Winkle. He started as they
passed the angle of the trench--it looked like a colossal grave.
The officer turned suddenly from the path, and after climbing a
paling, and scaling a hedge, entered a secluded field. Two gentlemen
were waiting in it; one was a little, fat man, with black hair;
and the other--a portly personage in a braided surtout--was
sitting with perfect equanimity on a camp-stool.
'The other party, and a surgeon, I suppose,' said Mr. Snodgrass;
'take a drop of brandy.' Mr. Winkle seized the wicker
bottle which his friend proffered, and took a lengthened pull at
the exhilarating liquid.
'My friend, Sir, Mr. Snodgrass,' said Mr. Winkle, as the officer
approached. Doctor Slammer's friend bowed, and produced a
case similar to that which Mr. Snodgrass carried.
'We have nothing further to say, Sir, I think,' he coldly remarked,
as he opened the case; 'an apology has been resolutely declined.'
'Nothing, Sir,' said Mr. Snodgrass, who began to feel rather
uncomfortable himself.
'Will you step forward?' said the officer.
'Certainly,' replied Mr. Snodgrass. The ground was measured,
and preliminaries arranged.
'You will find these better than your own,' said the opposite
second, producing his pistols. 'You saw me load them. Do you
object to use them?'
'Certainly not,' replied Mr. Snodgrass. The offer relieved him
from considerable embarrassment, for his previous notions of
loading a pistol were rather vague and undefined.
'We may place our men, then, I think,' observed the officer,
with as much indifference as if the principals were chess-men, and
the seconds players.
'I think we may,' replied Mr. Snodgrass; who would have
assented to any proposition, because he knew nothing about the
matter. The officer crossed to Doctor Slammer, and Mr. Snodgrass
went up to Mr. Winkle.
'It's all ready,' said he, offering the pistol. 'Give me your cloak.'
'You have got the packet, my dear fellow,' said poor Winkle.
'All right,' said Mr. Snodgrass. 'Be steady, and wing him.'
It occurred to Mr. Winkle that this advice was very like that
which bystanders invariably give to the smallest boy in a street
fight, namely, 'Go in, and win'--an admirable thing to recommend,
if you only know how to do it. He took off his cloak,
however, in silence--it always took a long time to undo that cloak
--and accepted the pistol. The seconds retired, the gentleman on
the camp-stool did the same, and the belligerents approached
each other.
Mr. Winkle was always remarkable for extreme humanity. It is
conjectured that his unwillingness to hurt a fellow-creature
intentionally was the cause of his shutting his eyes when he
arrived at the fatal spot; and that the circumstance of his eyes
being closed, prevented his observing the very extraordinary and
unaccountable demeanour of Doctor Slammer. That gentleman
started, stared, retreated, rubbed his eyes, stared again, and,
finally, shouted, 'Stop, stop!'
'What's all this?' said Doctor Slammer, as his friend and Mr.
Snodgrass came running up; 'that's not the man.'
'Not the man!' said Doctor Slammer's second.
'Not the man!' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'Not the man!' said the gentleman with the camp-stool in his hand.
'Certainly not,' replied the little doctor. 'That's not the person
who insulted me last night.'
'Very extraordinary!' exclaimed the officer.
'Very,' said the gentleman with the camp-stool. 'The only
question is, whether the gentleman, being on the ground, must
not be considered, as a matter of form, to be the individual who
insulted our friend, Doctor Slammer, yesterday evening, whether
he is really that individual or not;' and having delivered this
suggestion, with a very sage and mysterious air, the man with the
camp-stool took a large pinch of snuff, and looked profoundly
round, with the air of an authority in such matters.
Now Mr. Winkle had opened his eyes, and his ears too, when
he heard his adversary call out for a cessation of hostilities; and
perceiving by what he had afterwards said that there was, beyond
all question, some mistake in the matter, he at once foresaw the
increase of reputation he should inevitably acquire by concealing
the real motive of his coming out; he therefore stepped boldly
forward, and said--
'I am not the person. I know it.'
'Then, that,' said the man with the camp-stool, 'is an affront
to Doctor Slammer, and a sufficient reason for proceeding immediately.'
'Pray be quiet, Payne,' said the doctor's second. 'Why did you
not communicate this fact to me this morning, Sir?'
'To be sure--to be sure,' said the man with the camp-stool
'I entreat you to be quiet, Payne,' said the other. 'May I repeat
my question, Sir?'
'Because, Sir,' replied Mr. Winkle, who had had time to
deliberate upon his answer, 'because, Sir, you described an
intoxicated and ungentlemanly person as wearing a coat which I
have the honour, not only to wear but to have invented--the
proposed uniform, Sir, of the Pickwick Club in London. The
honour of that uniform I feel bound to maintain, and I therefore,
without inquiry, accepted the challenge which you offered me.'
'My dear Sir,' said the good-humoured little doctor advancing
with extended hand, 'I honour your gallantry. Permit me to say,
Sir, that I highly admire your conduct, and extremely regret
having caused you the inconvenience of this meeting, to no purpose.'
'I beg you won't mention it, Sir,' said Mr. Winkle.
'I shall feel proud of your acquaintance, Sir,' said the little doctor.
'It will afford me the greatest pleasure to know you, sir,' replied
Mr. Winkle. Thereupon the doctor and Mr. Winkle shook
hands, and then Mr. Winkle and Lieutenant Tappleton (the
doctor's second), and then Mr. Winkle and the man with the
camp-stool, and, finally, Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass--the
last-named gentleman in an excess of admiration at the noble
conduct of his heroic friend.
'I think we may adjourn,' said Lieutenant Tappleton.
'Certainly,' added the doctor.
'Unless,' interposed the man with the camp-stool, 'unless Mr.
Winkle feels himself aggrieved by the challenge; in which case, I
submit, he has a right to satisfaction.'
Mr. Winkle, with great self-denial, expressed himself quite
satisfied already.
'Or possibly,' said the man with the camp-stool, 'the gentleman's
second may feel himself affronted with some observations
which fell from me at an early period of this meeting; if so, I shall
be happy to give him satisfaction immediately.'
Mr. Snodgrass hastily professed himself very much obliged
with the handsome offer of the gentleman who had spoken last,
which he was only induced to decline by his entire contentment
with the whole proceedings. The two seconds adjusted the cases,
and the whole party left the ground in a much more lively
manner than they had proceeded to it.
'Do you remain long here?' inquired Doctor Slammer of
Mr. Winkle, as they walked on most amicably together.
'I think we shall leave here the day after to-morrow,' was the reply.
'I trust I shall have the pleasure of seeing you and your friend
at my rooms, and of spending a pleasant evening with you, after
this awkward mistake,' said the little doctor; 'are you
disengaged this evening?'
'We have some friends here,' replied Mr. Winkle, 'and I should
not like to leave them to-night. Perhaps you and your friend will
join us at the Bull.'
'With great pleasure,' said the little doctor; 'will ten o'clock be
too late to look in for half an hour?'
'Oh dear, no,' said Mr. Winkle. 'I shall be most happy to
introduce you to my friends, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman.'
'It will give me great pleasure, I am sure,' replied Doctor
Slammer, little suspecting who Mr. Tupman was.
'You will be sure to come?' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'Oh, certainly.'
By this time they had reached the road. Cordial farewells were
exchanged, and the party separated. Doctor Slammer and his
friends repaired to the barracks, and Mr. Winkle, accompanied by
Mr. Snodgrass, returned to their inn.
Mr. Pickwick had felt some apprehensions in consequence of the
unusual absence of his two friends, which their mysterious
behaviour during the whole morning had by no means tended to
diminish. It was, therefore, with more than ordinary pleasure
that he rose to greet them when they again entered; and with more
than ordinary interest that he inquired what had occurred to
detain them from his society. In reply to his questions on this
point, Mr. Snodgrass was about to offer an historical account of
the circumstances just now detailed, when he was suddenly checked
by observing that there were present, not only Mr. Tupman and
their stage-coach companion of the preceding day, but another
stranger of equally singular appearance. It was a careworn-looking
man, whose sallow face, and deeply-sunken eyes, were rendered
still more striking than Nature had made them, by the straight
black hair which hung in matted disorder half-way down his face.
His eyes were almost unnaturally bright and piercing; his
cheek-bones were high and prominent; and his jaws were so long and
lank, that an observer would have supposed that he was drawing the
flesh of his face in, for a moment, by some contraction of the
muscles, if his half-opened mouth and immovable expression had not
announced that it was his ordinary appearance. Round his neck he
wore a green shawl, with the large ends straggling over his chest,
and making their appearance occasionally beneath the worn
button-holes of his old waistcoat. His upper garment was a long
black surtout; and below it he wore wide drab trousers, and large
boots, running rapidly to seed.
It was on this uncouth-looking person that Mr. Winkle's eye
rested, and it was towards him that Mr. Pickwick extended his
hand when he said, 'A friend of our friend's here. We discovered
this morning that our friend was connected with the theatre in
this place, though he is not desirous to have it generally known,
and this gentleman is a member of the same profession. He was
about to favour us with a little anecdote connected with it, when
you entered.'
'Lots of anecdote,' said the green-coated stranger of the day
before, advancing to Mr. Winkle and speaking in a low and
confidential tone. 'Rum fellow--does the heavy business--no
actor--strange man--all sorts of miseries--Dismal Jemmy, we
call him on the circuit.' Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass politely
welcomed the gentleman, elegantly designated as 'Dismal
Jemmy'; and calling for brandy-and-water, in imitation of the
remainder of the company, seated themselves at the table.
'Now sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'will you oblige us by proceeding
with what you were going to relate?'
The dismal individual took a dirty roll of paper from his
pocket, and turning to Mr. Snodgrass, who had just taken out
his note-book, said in a hollow voice, perfectly in keeping with his
outward man--'Are you the poet?'
'I--I do a little in that way,' replied Mr. Snodgrass, rather
taken aback by the abruptness of the question.
'Ah! poetry makes life what light and music do the stage--
strip the one of the false embellishments, and the other of its
illusions, and what is there real in either to live or care for?'
'Very true, Sir,' replied Mr. Snodgrass.
'To be before the footlights,' continued the dismal man, 'is like
sitting at a grand court show, and admiring the silken dresses of
the gaudy throng; to be behind them is to be the people who
make that finery, uncared for and unknown, and left to sink or
swim, to starve or live, as fortune wills it.'
'Certainly,' said Mr. Snodgrass: for the sunken eye of the
dismal man rested on him, and he felt it necessary to say something.
'Go on, Jemmy,' said the Spanish traveller, 'like black-eyed
Susan--all in the Downs--no croaking--speak out--look lively.'
'Will you make another glass before you begin, Sir ?' said Mr. Pickwick.
The dismal man took the hint, and having mixed a glass of
brandy-and-water, and slowly swallowed half of it, opened the
roll of paper and proceeded, partly to read, and partly to relate,
the following incident, which we find recorded on the Transactions
of the Club as 'The Stroller's Tale.'
'There is nothing of the marvellous in what I am going to relate,'
said the dismal man; 'there is nothing even uncommon in it.
Want and sickness are too common in many stations of life to
deserve more notice than is usually bestowed on the most
ordinary vicissitudes of human nature. I have thrown these few
notes together, because the subject of them was well known to me
for many years. I traced his progress downwards, step by step,
until at last he reached that excess of destitution from which he
never rose again.
'The man of whom I speak was a low pantomime actor; and,
like many people of his class, an habitual drunkard. in his better
days, before he had become enfeebled by dissipation and
emaciated by disease, he had been in the receipt of a good salary,
which, if he had been careful and prudent, he might have continued
to receive for some years--not many; because these men
either die early, or by unnaturally taxing their bodily energies,
lose, prematurely, those physical powers on which alone they can
depend for subsistence. His besetting sin gained so fast upon him,
however, that it was found impossible to employ him in the
situations in which he really was useful to the theatre. The
public-house had a fascination for him which he could not resist.
Neglected disease and hopeless poverty were as certain to be his
portion as death itself, if he persevered in the same course; yet he
did persevere, and the result may be guessed. He could obtain no
engagement, and he wanted bread.
'Everybody who is at all acquainted with theatrical matters
knows what a host of shabby, poverty-stricken men hang about
the stage of a large establishment--not regularly engaged actors,
but ballet people, procession men, tumblers, and so forth, who
are taken on during the run of a pantomime, or an Easter piece,
and are then discharged, until the production of some heavy
spectacle occasions a new demand for their services. To this
mode of life the man was compelled to resort; and taking the
chair every night, at some low theatrical house, at once put him
in possession of a few more shillings weekly, and enabled him to
gratify his old propensity. Even this resource shortly failed him;
his irregularities were too great to admit of his earning the
wretched pittance he might thus have procured, and he was
actually reduced to a state bordering on starvation, only procuring
a trifle occasionally by borrowing it of some old companion,
or by obtaining an appearance at one or other of the commonest
of the minor theatres; and when he did earn anything it was
spent in the old way.
'About this time, and when he had been existing for upwards
of a year no one knew how, I had a short engagement at one of
the theatres on the Surrey side of the water, and here I saw this
man, whom I had lost sight of for some time; for I had been
travelling in the provinces, and he had been skulking in the lanes
and alleys of London. I was dressed to leave the house, and was
crossing the stage on my way out, when he tapped me on the
shoulder. Never shall I forget the repulsive sight that met my eye
when I turned round. He was dressed for the pantomimes in all
the absurdity of a clown's costume. The spectral figures in the
Dance of Death, the most frightful shapes that the ablest painter
ever portrayed on canvas, never presented an appearance half so
ghastly. His bloated body and shrunken legs--their deformity
enhanced a hundredfold by the fantastic dress--the glassy eyes,
contrasting fearfully with the thick white paint with which the
face was besmeared; the grotesquely-ornamented head, trembling
with paralysis, and the long skinny hands, rubbed with white
chalk--all gave him a hideous and unnatural appearance, of
which no description could convey an adequate idea, and which,
to this day, I shudder to think of. His voice was hollow and
tremulous as he took me aside, and in broken words recounted a
long catalogue of sickness and privations, terminating as usual
with an urgent request for the loan of a trifling sum of money. I
put a few shillings in his hand, and as I turned away I heard the
roar of laughter which followed his first tumble on the stage.
'A few nights afterwards, a boy put a dirty scrap of paper in
my hand, on which were scrawled a few words in pencil,
intimating that the man was dangerously ill, and begging me, after
the performance, to see him at his lodgings in some street--I
forget the name of it now--at no great distance from the theatre.
I promised to comply, as soon as I could get away; and after the
curtain fell, sallied forth on my melancholy errand.
'It was late, for I had been playing in the last piece; and, as it
was a benefit night, the performances had been protracted to an
unusual length. It was a dark, cold night, with a chill, damp wind,
which blew the rain heavily against the windows and housefronts.
Pools of water had collected in the narrow and littlefrequented
streets, and as many of the thinly-scattered oil-lamps
had been blown out by the violence of the wind, the walk was not
only a comfortless, but most uncertain one. I had fortunately
taken the right course, however, and succeeded, after a little
difficulty, in finding the house to which I had been directed--a
coal-shed, with one Storey above it, in the back room of which
lay the object of my search.
'A wretched-looking woman, the man's wife, met me on the
stairs, and, telling me that he had just fallen into a kind of doze,
led me softly in, and placed a chair for me at the bedside. The sick
man was lying with his face turned towards the wall; and as he
took no heed of my presence, I had leisure to observe the place in
which I found myself.
'He was lying on an old bedstead, which turned up during the
day. The tattered remains of a checked curtain were drawn round
the bed's head, to exclude the wind, which, however, made its
way into the comfortless room through the numerous chinks in
the door, and blew it to and fro every instant. There was a low
cinder fire in a rusty, unfixed grate; and an old three-cornered
stained table, with some medicine bottles, a broken glass, and a
few other domestic articles, was drawn out before it. A little child
was sleeping on a temporary bed which had been made for it on
the floor, and the woman sat on a chair by its side. There were
a couple of shelves, with a few plates and cups and saucers; and
a pair of stage shoes and a couple of foils hung beneath them.
With the exception of little heaps of rags and bundles which had
been carelessly thrown into the corners of the room, these were
the only things in the apartment.
'I had had time to note these little particulars, and to mark the
heavy breathing and feverish startings of the sick man, before he
was aware of my presence. In the restless attempts to procure
some easy resting-place for his head, he tossed his hand out of the
bed, and it fell on mine. He started up, and stared eagerly in my face.
'"Mr. Hutley, John," said his wife; "Mr. Hutley, that you sent
for to-night, you know."
'"Ah!" said the invalid, passing his hand across his forehead;
"Hutley--Hutley--let me see." He seemed endeavouring to
collect his thoughts for a few seconds, and then grasping me
tightly by the wrist said, "Don't leave me--don't leave me, old
fellow. She'll murder me; I know she will."
'"Has he been long so?" said I, addressing his weeping wife.
'"Since yesterday night," she replied. "John, John, don't you
know me?"
'"Don't let her come near me," said the man, with a shudder,
as she stooped over him. "Drive her away; I can't bear her near
me." He stared wildly at her, with a look of deadly apprehension,
and then whispered in my ear, "I beat her, Jem; I beat her
yesterday, and many times before. I have starved her and the boy
too; and now I am weak and helpless, Jem, she'll murder me for
it; I know she will. If you'd seen her cry, as I have, you'd know it
too. Keep her off." He relaxed his grasp, and sank back exhausted
on the pillow.
'I knew but too well what all this meant. If I could have
entertained any doubt of it, for an instant, one glance at the
woman's pale face and wasted form would have sufficiently
explained the real state of the case. "You had better stand aside,"
said I to the poor creature. "You can do him no good. Perhaps he
will be calmer, if he does not see you." She retired out of the
man's sight. He opened his eyes after a few seconds, and looked
anxiously round.
'"Is she gone?" he eagerly inquired.
'"Yes--yes," said I; "she shall not hurt you."
'"I'll tell you what, Jem," said the man, in a low voice, "she
does hurt me. There's something in her eyes wakes such a dreadful
fear in my heart, that it drives me mad. All last night, her large,
staring eyes and pale face were close to mine; wherever I turned,
they turned; and whenever I started up from my sleep, she was at
the bedside looking at me." He drew me closer to him, as he said
in a deep alarmed whisper, "Jem, she must be an evil spirit--a
devil! Hush! I know she is. If she had been a woman she would
have died long ago. No woman could have borne what she has."
'I sickened at the thought of the long course of cruelty and
neglect which must have occurred to produce such an impression
on such a man. I could say nothing in reply; for who could offer
hope, or consolation, to the abject being before me?
'I sat there for upwards of two hours, during which time he
tossed about, murmuring exclamations of pain or impatience,
restlessly throwing his arms here and there, and turning
constantly from side to side. At length he fell into that state of partial
unconsciousness, in which the mind wanders uneasily from scene
to scene, and from place to place, without the control of reason,
but still without being able to divest itself of an indescribable
sense of present suffering. Finding from his incoherent wanderings
that this was the case, and knowing that in all probability the
fever would not grow immediately worse, I left him, promising
his miserable wife that I would repeat my visit next evening, and,
if necessary, sit up with the patient during the night.
'I kept my promise. The last four-and-twenty hours had
produced a frightful alteration. The eyes, though deeply sunk
and heavy, shone with a lustre frightful to behold. The lips were
parched, and cracked in many places; the hard, dry skin glowed
with a burning heat; and there was an almost unearthly air of
wild anxiety in the man's face, indicating even more strongly the
ravages of the disease. The fever was at its height.
'I took the seat I had occupied the night before, and there I sat
for hours, listening to sounds which must strike deep to the heart
of the most callous among human beings--the awful ravings of a
dying man. From what I had heard of the medical attendant's
opinion, I knew there was no hope for him: I was sitting by his
death-bed. I saw the wasted limbs--which a few hours before
had been distorted for the amusement of a boisterous gallery,
writhing under the tortures of a burning fever--I heard the
clown's shrill laugh, blending with the low murmurings of the
dying man.
'It is a touching thing to hear the mind reverting to the
ordinary occupations and pursuits of health, when the body lies
before you weak and helpless; but when those occupations are of
a character the most strongly opposed to anything we associate
with grave and solemn ideas, the impression produced is
infinitely more powerful. The theatre and the public-house were the
chief themes of the wretched man's wanderings. It was evening,
he fancied; he had a part to play that night; it was late, and he
must leave home instantly. Why did they hold him, and prevent
his going?--he should lose the money--he must go. No! they
would not let him. He hid his face in his burning hands, and
feebly bemoaned his own weakness, and the cruelty of his
persecutors. A short pause, and he shouted out a few doggerel
rhymes--the last he had ever learned. He rose in bed, drew up
his withered limbs, and rolled about in uncouth positions; he was
acting--he was at the theatre. A minute's silence, and he murmured
the burden of some roaring song. He had reached the old
house at last--how hot the room was. He had been ill, very ill,
but he was well now, and happy. Fill up his glass. Who was that,
that dashed it from his lips? It was the same persecutor that had
followed him before. He fell back upon his pillow and moaned
aloud. A short period of oblivion, and he was wandering through
a tedious maze of low-arched rooms--so low, sometimes, that he
must creep upon his hands and knees to make his way along; it
was close and dark, and every way he turned, some obstacle
impeded his progress. There were insects, too, hideous crawling
things, with eyes that stared upon him, and filled the very air
around, glistening horribly amidst the thick darkness of the place.
The walls and ceiling were alive with reptiles--the vault expanded
to an enormous size--frightful figures flitted to and fro--and the
faces of men he knew, rendered hideous by gibing and mouthing,
peered out from among them; they were searing him with
heated irons, and binding his head with cords till the blood
started; and he struggled madly for life.
'At the close of one of these paroxysms, when I had with great
difficulty held him down in his bed, he sank into what appeared
to be a slumber. Overpowered with watching and exertion, I had
closed my eyes for a few minutes, when I felt a violent clutch on
my shoulder. I awoke instantly. He had raised himself up, so as to
seat himself in bed--a dreadful change had come over his face,
but consciousness had returned, for he evidently knew me. The
child, who had been long since disturbed by his ravings, rose
from its little bed, and ran towards its father, screaming with
fright--the mother hastily caught it in her arms, lest he should
injure it in the violence of his insanity; but, terrified by the
alteration of his features, stood transfixed by the bedside. He
grasped my shoulder convulsively, and, striking his breast with
the other hand, made a desperate attempt to articulate. It was
unavailing; he extended his arm towards them, and made another
violent effort. There was a rattling noise in the throat--a glare of
the eye--a short stifled groan--and he fell back--dead!'
It would afford us the highest gratification to be enabled to
record Mr. Pickwick's opinion of the foregoing anecdote. We
have little doubt that we should have been enabled to present it
to our readers, but for a most unfortunate occurrence.
Mr. Pickwick had replaced on the table the glass which, during
the last few sentences of the tale, he had retained in his hand;
and had just made up his mind to speak--indeed, we have the
authority of Mr. Snodgrass's note-book for stating, that he had
actually opened his mouth--when the waiter entered the room,
and said--
'Some gentlemen, Sir.'
It has been conjectured that Mr. Pickwick was on the point of
delivering some remarks which would have enlightened the
world, if not the Thames, when he was thus interrupted; for he
gazed sternly on the waiter's countenance, and then looked round
on the company generally, as if seeking for information relative
to the new-comers.
'Oh!' said Mr. Winkle, rising, 'some friends of mine--show
them in. Very pleasant fellows,' added Mr. Winkle, after the
waiter had retired--'officers of the 97th, whose acquaintance I
made rather oddly this morning. You will like them very much.'
Mr. Pickwick's equanimity was at once restored. The waiter
returned, and ushered three gentlemen into the room.
'Lieutenant Tappleton,' said Mr. Winkle, 'Lieutenant Tappleton,
Mr. Pickwick--Doctor Payne, Mr. Pickwick--Mr. Snodgrass
you have seen before, my friend Mr. Tupman, Doctor
Payne--Doctor Slammer, Mr. Pickwick--Mr. Tupman, Doctor
Here Mr. Winkle suddenly paused; for strong emotion was
visible on the countenance both of Mr. Tupman and the doctor.
'I have met THIS gentleman before,' said the Doctor, with
marked emphasis.
'Indeed!' said Mr. Winkle.
'And--and that person, too, if I am not mistaken,' said the
doctor, bestowing a scrutinising glance on the green-coated
stranger. 'I think I gave that person a very pressing invitation last
night, which he thought proper to decline.' Saying which the
doctor scowled magnanimously on the stranger, and whispered
his friend Lieutenant Tappleton.
'You don't say so,' said that gentleman, at the conclusion of
the whisper.
'I do, indeed,' replied Doctor Slammer.
'You are bound to kick him on the spot,' murmured the
owner of the camp-stool, with great importance.
'Do be quiet, Payne,' interposed the lieutenant. 'Will you
allow me to ask you, sir,' he said, addressing Mr. Pickwick, who
was considerably mystified by this very unpolite by-play--'will
you allow me to ask you, Sir, whether that person belongs to your party?'
'No, Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'he is a guest of ours.'
'He is a member of your club, or I am mistaken?' said the
lieutenant inquiringly.
'Certainly not,' responded Mr. Pickwick.
'And never wears your club-button?' said the lieutenant.
'No--never!' replied the astonished Mr. Pickwick.
Lieutenant Tappleton turned round to his friend Doctor
Slammer, with a scarcely perceptible shrug of the shoulder, as if
implying some doubt of the accuracy of his recollection. The little
doctor looked wrathful, but confounded; and Mr. Payne gazed
with a ferocious aspect on the beaming countenance of the
unconscious Pickwick.
'Sir,' said the doctor, suddenly addressing Mr. Tupman, in a
tone which made that gentleman start as perceptibly as if a pin
had been cunningly inserted in the calf of his leg, 'you were at the
ball here last night!'
Mr. Tupman gasped a faint affirmative, looking very hard at
Mr. Pickwick all the while.
'That person was your companion,' said the doctor, pointing
to the still unmoved stranger.
Mr. Tupman admitted the fact.
'Now, sir,' said the doctor to the stranger, 'I ask you once
again, in the presence of these gentlemen, whether you choose to
give me your card, and to receive the treatment of a gentleman;
or whether you impose upon me the necessity of personally
chastising you on the spot?'
'Stay, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I really cannot allow this matter
to go any further without some explanation. Tupman, recount the
Mr. Tupman, thus solemnly adjured, stated the case in a few
words; touched slightly on the borrowing of the coat; expatiated
largely on its having been done 'after dinner'; wound up with a
little penitence on his own account; and left the stranger to clear
himself as best he could.
He was apparently about to proceed to do so, when Lieutenant
Tappleton, who had been eyeing him with great curiosity, said
with considerable scorn, 'Haven't I seen you at the theatre, Sir?'
'Certainly,' replied the unabashed stranger.
'He is a strolling actor!' said the lieutenant contemptuously,
turning to Doctor Slammer.--'He acts in the piece that the
officers of the 52nd get up at the Rochester Theatre to-morrow
night. You cannot proceed in this affair, Slammer--impossible!'
'Quite!' said the dignified Payne.
'Sorry to have placed you in this disagreeable situation,' said
Lieutenant Tappleton, addressing Mr. Pickwick; 'allow me to
suggest, that the best way of avoiding a recurrence of such scenes
in future will be to be more select in the choice of your companions.
Good-evening, Sir!' and the lieutenant bounced out of the room.
'And allow me to say, Sir,' said the irascible Doctor Payne,
'that if I had been Tappleton, or if I had been Slammer, I would
have pulled your nose, Sir, and the nose of every man in this
company. I would, sir--every man. Payne is my name, sir--
Doctor Payne of the 43rd. Good-evening, Sir.' Having concluded
this speech, and uttered the last three words in a loud key, he
stalked majestically after his friend, closely followed by Doctor
Slammer, who said nothing, but contented himself by withering
the company with a look.
Rising rage and extreme bewilderment had swelled the noble
breast of Mr. Pickwick, almost to the bursting of his waistcoat,
during the delivery of the above defiance. He stood transfixed to
the spot, gazing on vacancy. The closing of the door recalled him
to himself. He rushed forward with fury in his looks, and fire in
his eye. His hand was upon the lock of the door; in another
instant it would have been on the throat of Doctor Payne of the
43rd, had not Mr. Snodgrass seized his revered leader by the coat
tail, and dragged him backwards.
'Restrain him,' cried Mr. Snodgrass; 'Winkle, Tupman--he
must not peril his distinguished life in such a cause as this.'
'Let me go,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Hold him tight,' shouted Mr. Snodgrass; and by the united
efforts of the whole company, Mr. Pickwick was forced into an arm-chair.
'Leave him alone,' said the green-coated stranger; 'brandyand-
water--jolly old gentleman--lots of pluck--swallow this--
ah!--capital stuff.' Having previously tested the virtues of a
bumper, which had been mixed by the dismal man, the stranger
applied the glass to Mr. Pickwick's mouth; and the remainder of
its contents rapidly disappeared.
There was a short pause; the brandy-and-water had done its
work; the amiable countenance of Mr. Pickwick was fast
recovering its customary expression.
'They are not worth your notice,' said the dismal man.
'You are right, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'they are not. I am
ashamed to have been betrayed into this warmth of feeling. Draw
your chair up to the table, Sir.'
The dismal man readily complied; a circle was again formed
round the table, and harmony once more prevailed. Some
lingering irritability appeared to find a resting-place in Mr.
Winkle's bosom, occasioned possibly by the temporary abstraction
of his coat--though it is scarcely reasonable to suppose that
so slight a circumstance can have excited even a passing feeling of
anger in a Pickwickian's breast. With this exception, their goodhumour
was completely restored; and the evening concluded
with the conviviality with which it had begun.
Many authors entertain, not only a foolish, but a really dishonest
objection to acknowledge the sources whence they derive much
valuable information. We have no such feeling. We are merely
endeavouring to discharge, in an upright manner, the responsible
duties of our editorial functions; and whatever ambition we might
have felt under other circumstances to lay claim to the authorship
of these adventures, a regard for truth forbids us to do more
than claim the merit of their judicious arrangement and impartial
narration. The Pickwick papers are our New River Head; and we may
be compared to the New River Company. The labours of others have
raised for us an immense reservoir of important facts. We merely
lay them on, and communicate them, in a clear and gentle stream,
through the medium of these pages, to a world thirsting for
Pickwickian knowledge.
Acting in this spirit, and resolutely proceeding on our
determination to avow our obligations to the authorities we have
consulted, we frankly say, that to the note-book of Mr. Snodgrass
are we indebted for the particulars recorded in this and the
succeeding chapter--particulars which, now that we have disburdened
our consciences, we shall proceed to detail without further comment.
The whole population of Rochester and the adjoining towns
rose from their beds at an early hour of the following morning,
in a state of the utmost bustle and excitement. A grand
review was to take place upon the lines. The manoeuvres of half
a dozen regiments were to be inspected by the eagle eye of
the commander-in-chief; temporary fortifications had been
erected, the citadel was to be attacked and taken, and a mine was
to be sprung.
Mr. Pickwick was, as our readers may have gathered from the
slight extract we gave from his description of Chatham, an
enthusiastic admirer of the army. Nothing could have been more
delightful to him--nothing could have harmonised so well with
the peculiar feeling of each of his companions--as this sight.
Accordingly they were soon afoot, and walking in the direction
of the scene of action, towards which crowds of people were
already pouring from a variety of quarters.
The appearance of everything on the lines denoted that the
approaching ceremony was one of the utmost grandeur and
importance. There were sentries posted to keep the ground for
the troops, and servants on the batteries keeping places for the
ladies, and sergeants running to and fro, with vellum-covered
books under their arms, and Colonel Bulder, in full military
uniform, on horseback, galloping first to one place and then to
another, and backing his horse among the people, and prancing,
and curvetting, and shouting in a most alarming manner, and
making himself very hoarse in the voice, and very red in the face,
without any assignable cause or reason whatever. Officers were
running backwards and forwards, first communicating with
Colonel Bulder, and then ordering the sergeants, and then
running away altogether; and even the very privates themselves
looked from behind their glazed stocks with an air of mysterious
solemnity, which sufficiently bespoke the special nature of the occasion.
Mr. Pickwick and his three companions stationed themselves
in the front of the crowd, and patiently awaited the commencement
of the proceedings. The throng was increasing every
moment; and the efforts they were compelled to make, to retain
the position they had gained, sufficiently occupied their attention
during the two hours that ensued. At one time there was a sudden
pressure from behind, and then Mr. Pickwick was jerked forward
for several yards, with a degree of speed and elasticity highly
inconsistent with the general gravity of his demeanour; at
another moment there was a request to 'keep back' from the
front, and then the butt-end of a musket was either dropped
upon Mr. Pickwick's toe, to remind him of the demand, or
thrust into his chest, to insure its being complied with. Then some
facetious gentlemen on the left, after pressing sideways in a body,
and squeezing Mr. Snodgrass into the very last extreme of human
torture, would request to know 'vere he vos a shovin' to'; and
when Mr. Winkle had done expressing his excessive indignation
at witnessing this unprovoked assault, some person behind
would knock his hat over his eyes, and beg the favour of his
putting his head in his pocket. These, and other practical
witticisms, coupled with the unaccountable absence of Mr.
Tupman (who had suddenly disappeared, and was nowhere to be
found), rendered their situation upon the whole rather more
uncomfortable than pleasing or desirable.
At length that low roar of many voices ran through the crowd
which usually announces the arrival of whatever they have been
waiting for. All eyes were turned in the direction of the sally-port.
A few moments of eager expectation, and colours were seen
fluttering gaily in the air, arms glistened brightly in the sun,
column after column poured on to the plain. The troops halted
and formed; the word of command rang through the line; there
was a general clash of muskets as arms were presented; and the
commander-in-chief, attended by Colonel Bulder and numerous
officers, cantered to the front. The military bands struck up
altogether; the horses stood upon two legs each, cantered backwards,
and whisked their tails about in all directions; the dogs
barked, the mob screamed, the troops recovered, and nothing
was to be seen on either side, as far as the eye could reach, but a
long perspective of red coats and white trousers, fixed and motionless.
Mr. Pickwick had been so fully occupied in falling about, and
disentangling himself, miraculously, from between the legs of
horses, that he had not enjoyed sufficient leisure to observe the
scene before him, until it assumed the appearance we have just
described. When he was at last enabled to stand firmly on his legs,
his gratification and delight were unbounded.
'Can anything be finer or more delightful?' he inquired of
Mr. Winkle.
'Nothing,' replied that gentleman, who had had a short man
standing on each of his feet for the quarter of an hour
immediately preceding.
'It is indeed a noble and a brilliant sight,' said Mr. Snodgrass,
in whose bosom a blaze of poetry was rapidly bursting forth, 'to
see the gallant defenders of their country drawn up in brilliant
array before its peaceful citizens; their faces beaming--not with
warlike ferocity, but with civilised gentleness; their eyes flashing
--not with the rude fire of rapine or revenge, but with the soft
light of humanity and intelligence.'
Mr. Pickwick fully entered into the spirit of this eulogium, but
he could not exactly re-echo its terms; for the soft light of
intelligence burned rather feebly in the eyes of the warriors,
inasmuch as the command 'eyes front' had been given, and all
the spectator saw before him was several thousand pair of optics,
staring straight forward, wholly divested of any expression whatever.
'We are in a capital situation now,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking
round him. The crowd had gradually dispersed in their
immediate vicinity, and they were nearly alone.
'Capital!' echoed both Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle.
'What are they doing now?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, adjusting
his spectacles.
'I--I--rather think,' said Mr. Winkle, changing colour--'I
rather think they're going to fire.'
'Nonsense,' said Mr. Pickwick hastily.
'I--I--really think they are,' urged Mr. Snodgrass, somewhat
'Impossible,' replied Mr. Pickwick. He had hardly uttered the
word, when the whole half-dozen regiments levelled their muskets
as if they had but one common object, and that object the
Pickwickians, and burst forth with the most awful and tremendous
discharge that ever shook the earth to its centres, or an
elderly gentleman off his.
It was in this trying situation, exposed to a galling fire of blank
cartridges, and harassed by the operations of the military, a fresh
body of whom had begun to fall in on the opposite side, that
Mr. Pickwick displayed that perfect coolness and self-possession,
which are the indispensable accompaniments of a great mind. He
seized Mr. Winkle by the arm, and placing himself between that
gentleman and Mr. Snodgrass, earnestly besought them to
remember that beyond the possibility of being rendered deaf by
the noise, there was no immediate danger to be apprehended
from the firing.
'But--but--suppose some of the men should happen to have
ball cartridges by mistake,' remonstrated Mr. Winkle, pallid at
the supposition he was himself conjuring up. 'I heard something
whistle through the air now--so sharp; close to my ear.'
'We had better throw ourselves on our faces, hadn't we?' said
Mr. Snodgrass.
'No, no--it's over now,' said Mr. Pickwick. His lip might
quiver, and his cheek might blanch, but no expression of fear or
concern escaped the lips of that immortal man.
Mr. Pickwick was right--the firing ceased; but he had scarcely
time to congratulate himself on the accuracy of his opinion, when
a quick movement was visible in the line; the hoarse shout of the
word of command ran along it, and before either of the party
could form a guess at the meaning of this new manoeuvre, the
whole of the half-dozen regiments, with fixed bayonets, charged
at double-quick time down upon the very spot on which Mr.
Pickwick and his friends were stationed.
Man is but mortal; and there is a point beyond which human
courage cannot extend. Mr. Pickwick gazed through his spectacles
for an instant on the advancing mass, and then fairly turned his
back and--we will not say fled; firstly, because it is an ignoble
term, and, secondly, because Mr. Pickwick's figure was by no
means adapted for that mode of retreat--he trotted away, at as
quick a rate as his legs would convey him; so quickly, indeed,
that he did not perceive the awkwardness of his situation, to the
full extent, until too late.
The opposite troops, whose falling-in had perplexed Mr.
Pickwick a few seconds before, were drawn up to repel the mimic
attack of the sham besiegers of the citadel; and the consequence
was that Mr. Pickwick and his two companions found themselves
suddenly inclosed between two lines of great length, the one
advancing at a rapid pace, and the other firmly waiting the
collision in hostile array.
'Hoi!' shouted the officers of the advancing line.
'Get out of the way!' cried the officers of the stationary one.
'Where are we to go to?' screamed the agitated Pickwickians.
'Hoi--hoi--hoi!' was the only reply. There was a moment of
intense bewilderment, a heavy tramp of footsteps, a violent
concussion, a smothered laugh; the half-dozen regiments were
half a thousand yards off, and the soles of Mr. Pickwick's boots
were elevated in air.
Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle had each performed a
compulsory somerset with remarkable agility, when the first object
that met the eyes of the latter as he sat on the ground, staunching
with a yellow silk handkerchief the stream of life which issued
from his nose, was his venerated leader at some distance off,
running after his own hat, which was gambolling playfully away
in perspective.
There are very few moments in a man's existence when he
experiences so much ludicrous distress, or meets with so little
charitable commiseration, as when he is in pursuit of his own hat.
A vast deal of coolness, and a peculiar degree of judgment, are
requisite in catching a hat. A man must not be precipitate, or he
runs over it; he must not rush into the opposite extreme, or he
loses it altogether. The best way is to keep gently up with the
object of pursuit, to be wary and cautious, to watch your opportunity
well, get gradually before it, then make a rapid dive, seize it
by the crown, and stick it firmly on your head; smiling pleasantly
all the time, as if you thought it as good a joke as anybody else.
There was a fine gentle wind, and Mr. Pickwick's hat rolled
sportively before it. The wind puffed, and Mr. Pickwick puffed,
and the hat rolled over and over as merrily as a lively porpoise
in a strong tide: and on it might have rolled, far beyond
Mr. Pickwick's reach, had not its course been providentially
stopped, just as that gentleman was on the point of resigning it
to its fate.
Mr. Pickwick, we say, was completely exhausted, and about to
give up the chase, when the hat was blown with some violence
against the wheel of a carriage, which was drawn up in a line with
half a dozen other vehicles on the spot to which his steps had been
directed. Mr. Pickwick, perceiving his advantage, darted briskly
forward, secured his property, planted it on his head, and paused
to take breath. He had not been stationary half a minute, when
he heard his own name eagerly pronounced by a voice, which he
at once recognised as Mr. Tupman's, and, looking upwards, he
beheld a sight which filled him with surprise and pleasure.
in an open barouche, the horses of which had been taken out,
the better to accommodate it to the crowded place, stood a stout
old gentleman, in a blue coat and bright buttons, corduroy
breeches and top-boots, two young ladies in scarfs and feathers, a
young gentleman apparently enamoured of one of the young
ladies in scarfs and feathers, a lady of doubtful age, probably the
aunt of the aforesaid, and Mr. Tupman, as easy and unconcerned
as if he had belonged to the family from the first moments of his
infancy. Fastened up behind the barouche was a hamper of
spacious dimensions--one of those hampers which always
awakens in a contemplative mind associations connected with
cold fowls, tongues, and bottles of wine--and on the box sat a
fat and red-faced boy, in a state of somnolency, whom no
speculative observer could have regarded for an instant without
setting down as the official dispenser of the contents of the
before-mentioned hamper, when the proper time for their
consumption should arrive.
Mr. Pickwick had bestowed a hasty glance on these interesting
objects, when he was again greeted by his faithful disciple.
'Pickwick--Pickwick,' said Mr. Tupman; 'come up here. Make haste.'
'Come along, Sir. Pray, come up,' said the stout gentleman.
'Joe!--damn that boy, he's gone to sleep again.--Joe, let down
the steps.' The fat boy rolled slowly off the box, let down the
steps, and held the carriage door invitingly open. Mr. Snodgrass
and Mr. Winkle came up at the moment.
'Room for you all, gentlemen,' said the stout man. 'Two inside,
and one out. Joe, make room for one of these gentlemen on the
box. Now, Sir, come along;' and the stout gentleman extended
his arm, and pulled first Mr. Pickwick, and then Mr. Snodgrass,
into the barouche by main force. Mr. Winkle mounted to the
box, the fat boy waddled to the same perch, and fell fast asleep
'Well, gentlemen,' said the stout man, 'very glad to see you.
Know you very well, gentlemen, though you mayn't remember
me. I spent some ev'nin's at your club last winter--picked up my
friend Mr. Tupman here this morning, and very glad I was to see
him. Well, Sir, and how are you? You do look uncommon well,
to be sure.'
Mr. Pickwick acknowledged the compliment, and cordially
shook hands with the stout gentleman in the top-boots.
'Well, and how are you, sir?' said the stout gentleman,
addressing Mr. Snodgrass with paternal anxiety. 'Charming, eh?
Well, that's right--that's right. And how are you, sir (to Mr.
Winkle)? Well, I am glad to hear you say you are well; very glad
I am, to be sure. My daughters, gentlemen--my gals these are;
and that's my sister, Miss Rachael Wardle. She's a Miss, she is;
and yet she ain't a Miss--eh, Sir, eh?' And the stout gentleman
playfully inserted his elbow between the ribs of Mr. Pickwick, and
laughed very heartily.
'Lor, brother!' said Miss Wardle, with a deprecating smile.
'True, true,' said the stout gentleman; 'no one can deny it.
Gentlemen, I beg your pardon; this is my friend Mr. Trundle.
And now you all know each other, let's be comfortable and
happy, and see what's going forward; that's what I say.' So the
stout gentleman put on his spectacles, and Mr. Pickwick pulled
out his glass, and everybody stood up in the carriage, and looked
over somebody else's shoulder at the evolutions of the military.
Astounding evolutions they were, one rank firing over the
heads of another rank, and then running away; and then the
other rank firing over the heads of another rank, and running
away in their turn; and then forming squares, with officers in the
centre; and then descending the trench on one side with scalingladders,
and ascending it on the other again by the same means;
and knocking down barricades of baskets, and behaving in the
most gallant manner possible. Then there was such a ramming
down of the contents of enormous guns on the battery, with
instruments like magnified mops; such a preparation before they
were let off, and such an awful noise when they did go, that the
air resounded with the screams of ladies. The young Misses
Wardle were so frightened, that Mr. Trundle was actually obliged
to hold one of them up in the carriage, while Mr. Snodgrass
supported the other; and Mr. Wardle's sister suffered under such
a dreadful state of nervous alarm, that Mr. Tupman found it
indispensably necessary to put his arm round her waist, to keep
her up at all. Everybody was excited, except the fat boy, and he
slept as soundly as if the roaring of cannon were his ordinary lullaby.
'Joe, Joe!' said the stout gentleman, when the citadel was
taken, and the besiegers and besieged sat down to dinner. 'Damn
that boy, he's gone to sleep again. Be good enough to pinch him,
sir--in the leg, if you please; nothing else wakes him--thank you.
Undo the hamper, Joe.'
The fat boy, who had been effectually roused by the
compression of a portion of his leg between the finger and thumb of
Mr. Winkle, rolled off the box once again, and proceeded to
unpack the hamper with more expedition than could have been
expected from his previous inactivity.
'Now we must sit close,' said the stout gentleman. After a
great many jokes about squeezing the ladies' sleeves, and a vast
quantity of blushing at sundry jocose proposals, that the ladies
should sit in the gentlemen's laps, the whole party were stowed
down in the barouche; and the stout gentleman proceeded to
hand the things from the fat boy (who had mounted up behind
for the purpose) into the carriage.
'Now, Joe, knives and forks.' The knives and forks were
handed in, and the ladies and gentlemen inside, and Mr. Winkle
on the box, were each furnished with those useful instruments.
'Plates, Joe, plates.' A similar process employed in the
distribution of the crockery.
'Now, Joe, the fowls. Damn that boy; he's gone to sleep again.
Joe! Joe!' (Sundry taps on the head with a stick, and the fat boy,
with some difficulty, roused from his lethargy.) 'Come, hand in
the eatables.'
There was something in the sound of the last word which
roused the unctuous boy. He jumped up, and the leaden eyes
which twinkled behind his mountainous cheeks leered horribly
upon the food as he unpacked it from the basket.
'Now make haste,' said Mr. Wardle; for the fat boy was
hanging fondly over a capon, which he seemed wholly unable to
part with. The boy sighed deeply, and, bestowing an ardent gaze
upon its plumpness, unwillingly consigned it to his master.
'That's right--look sharp. Now the tongue--now the pigeon
pie. Take care of that veal and ham--mind the lobsters--take the
salad out of the cloth--give me the dressing.' Such were the
hurried orders which issued from the lips of Mr. Wardle, as he
handed in the different articles described, and placed dishes in
everybody's hands, and on everybody's knees, in endless number.
'Now ain't this capital?' inquired that jolly personage, when
the work of destruction had commenced.
'Capital!' said Mr. Winkle, who was carving a fowl on the box.
'Glass of wine?'
'With the greatest pleasure.'
'You'd better have a bottle to yourself up there, hadn't you?'
'You're very good.'
'Yes, Sir.' (He wasn't asleep this time, having just succeeded in
abstracting a veal patty.)
'Bottle of wine to the gentleman on the box. Glad to see you, Sir.'
'Thank'ee.' Mr. Winkle emptied his glass, and placed the bottle
on the coach-box, by his side.
'Will you permit me to have the pleasure, Sir?' said Mr. Trundle
to Mr. Winkle.
'With great pleasure,' replied Mr. Winkle to Mr. Trundle,
and then the two gentlemen took wine, after which they took a
glass of wine round, ladies and all.
'How dear Emily is flirting with the strange gentleman,'
whispered the spinster aunt, with true spinster-aunt-like envy, to
her brother, Mr. Wardle.
'Oh! I don't know,' said the jolly old gentleman; 'all very
natural, I dare say--nothing unusual. Mr. Pickwick, some wine,
Sir?' Mr. Pickwick, who had been deeply investigating the
interior of the pigeon-pie, readily assented.
'Emily, my dear,' said the spinster aunt, with a patronising air,
'don't talk so loud, love.'
'Lor, aunt!'
'Aunt and the little old gentleman want to have it all to
themselves, I think,' whispered Miss Isabella Wardle to her sister
Emily. The young ladies laughed very heartily, and the old one
tried to look amiable, but couldn't manage it.
'Young girls have such spirits,' said Miss Wardle to Mr. Tupman,
with an air of gentle commiseration, as if animal spirits
were contraband, and their possession without a permit a high
crime and misdemeanour.
'Oh, they have,' replied Mr. Tupman, not exactly making the
sort of reply that was expected from him. 'It's quite delightful.'
'Hem!' said Miss Wardle, rather dubiously.
'Will you permit me?' said Mr. Tupman, in his blandest
manner, touching the enchanting Rachael's wrist with one hand,
and gently elevating the bottle with the other. 'Will you permit me?'
'Oh, sir!' Mr. Tupman looked most impressive; and Rachael
expressed her fear that more guns were going off, in which case,
of course, she should have required support again.
'Do you think my dear nieces pretty?' whispered their
affectionate aunt to Mr. Tupman.
'I should, if their aunt wasn't here,' replied the ready
Pickwickian, with a passionate glance.
'Oh, you naughty man--but really, if their complexions were a
little better, don't you think they would be nice-looking girls--
by candlelight?'
'Yes; I think they would,' said Mr. Tupman, with an air
of indifference.
'Oh, you quiz--I know what you were going to say.'
'What?' inquired Mr. Tupman, who had not precisely made
up his mind to say anything at all.
'You were going to say that Isabel stoops--I know you were--
you men are such observers. Well, so she does; it can't be denied;
and, certainly, if there is one thing more than another that makes
a girl look ugly it is stooping. I often tell her that when she gets a
little older she'll be quite frightful. Well, you are a quiz!'
Mr. Tupman had no objection to earning the reputation at so
cheap a rate: so he looked very knowing, and smiled mysteriously.
'What a sarcastic smile,' said the admiring Rachael; 'I declare
I'm quite afraid of you.'
'Afraid of me!'
'Oh, you can't disguise anything from me--I know what that
smile means very well.'
'What?' said Mr. Tupman, who had not the slightest notion himself.
'You mean,' said the amiable aunt, sinking her voice still
lower--'you mean, that you don't think Isabella's stooping is as
bad as Emily's boldness. Well, she is bold! You cannot think how
wretched it makes me sometimes--I'm sure I cry about it for
hours together--my dear brother is SO good, and so unsuspicious,
that he never sees it; if he did, I'm quite certain it would break
his heart. I wish I could think it was only manner--I hope it may
be--' (Here the affectionate relative heaved a deep sigh, and
shook her head despondingly).
'I'm sure aunt's talking about us,' whispered Miss Emily
Wardle to her sister--'I'm quite certain of it--she looks so malicious.'
'Is she?' replied Isabella.--'Hem! aunt, dear!'
'Yes, my dear love!'
'I'm SO afraid you'll catch cold, aunt--have a silk handkerchief
to tie round your dear old head--you really should take care of
yourself--consider your age!'
However well deserved this piece of retaliation might have
been, it was as vindictive a one as could well have been resorted
to. There is no guessing in what form of reply the aunt's indignation
would have vented itself, had not Mr. Wardle unconsciously changed
the subject, by calling emphatically for Joe.
'Damn that boy,' said the old gentleman, 'he's gone to sleep again.'
'Very extraordinary boy, that,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'does he
always sleep in this way?'
'Sleep!' said the old gentleman, 'he's always asleep. Goes on
errands fast asleep, and snores as he waits at table.'
'How very odd!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Ah! odd indeed,' returned the old gentleman; 'I'm proud of
that boy--wouldn't part with him on any account--he's a
natural curiosity! Here, Joe--Joe--take these things away, and
open another bottle--d'ye hear?'
The fat boy rose, opened his eyes, swallowed the huge piece of
pie he had been in the act of masticating when he last fell asleep,
and slowly obeyed his master's orders--gloating languidly over
the remains of the feast, as he removed the plates, and deposited
them in the hamper. The fresh bottle was produced, and speedily
emptied: the hamper was made fast in its old place--the fat
boy once more mounted the box--the spectacles and pocketglass
were again adjusted--and the evolutions of the military
recommenced. There was a great fizzing and banging of
guns, and starting of ladies--and then a Mine was sprung, to
the gratification of everybody--and when the mine had gone
off, the military and the company followed its example, and
went off too.
'Now, mind,' said the old gentleman, as he shook hands with
Mr. Pickwick at the conclusion of a conversation which had been
carried on at intervals, during the conclusion of the proceedings,
"we shall see you all to-morrow.'
'Most certainly,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'You have got the address?'
'Manor Farm, Dingley Dell,' said Mr. Pickwick, consulting his
'That's it,' said the old gentleman. 'I don't let you off, mind,
under a week; and undertake that you shall see everything worth
seeing. If you've come down for a country life, come to me, and
I'll give you plenty of it. Joe--damn that boy, he's gone to sleep
again--Joe, help Tom put in the horses.'
The horses were put in--the driver mounted--the fat
boy clambered up by his side--farewells were exchanged--
and the carriage rattled off. As the Pickwickians turned round
to take a last glimpse of it, the setting sun cast a rich glow on
the faces of their entertainers, and fell upon the form of the
fat boy. His head was sunk upon his bosom; and he slumbered again.
Bright and pleasant was the sky, balmy the air, and beautiful
the appearance of every object around, as Mr. Pickwick leaned
over the balustrades of Rochester Bridge, contemplating nature,
and waiting for breakfast. The scene was indeed one which might
well have charmed a far less reflective mind, than that to which
it was presented.
On the left of the spectator lay the ruined wall, broken in many
places, and in some, overhanging the narrow beach below in rude
and heavy masses. Huge knots of seaweed hung upon the jagged
and pointed stones, trembling in every breath of wind; and the
green ivy clung mournfully round the dark and ruined battlements.
Behind it rose the ancient castle, its towers roofless, and
its massive walls crumbling away, but telling us proudly of its old
might and strength, as when, seven hundred years ago, it rang
with the clash of arms, or resounded with the noise of feasting
and revelry. On either side, the banks of the Medway, covered
with cornfields and pastures, with here and there a windmill, or a
distant church, stretched away as far as the eye could see,
presenting a rich and varied landscape, rendered more beautiful
by the changing shadows which passed swiftly across it as the
thin and half-formed clouds skimmed away in the light of the
morning sun. The river, reflecting the clear blue of the sky,
glistened and sparkled as it flowed noiselessly on; and the oars of
the fishermen dipped into the water with a clear and liquid sound,
as their heavy but picturesque boats glided slowly down the stream.
Mr. Pickwick was roused from the agreeable reverie into which
he had been led by the objects before him, by a deep sigh, and a
touch on his shoulder. He turned round: and the dismal man was
at his side.
'Contemplating the scene?' inquired the dismal man.
'I was,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'And congratulating yourself on being up so soon?'
Mr. Pickwick nodded assent.
'Ah! people need to rise early, to see the sun in all his splendour,
for his brightness seldom lasts the day through. The
morning of day and the morning of life are but too much alike.'
'You speak truly, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'How common the saying,' continued the dismal man, '"The
morning's too fine to last." How well might it be applied to our
everyday existence. God! what would I forfeit to have the days of
my childhood restored, or to be able to forget them for ever!'
'You have seen much trouble, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick compassionately.
'I have,' said the dismal man hurriedly; 'I have. More than
those who see me now would believe possible.' He paused for an
instant, and then said abruptly--
'Did it ever strike you, on such a morning as this, that drowning
would be happiness and peace?'
'God bless me, no!' replied Mr. Pickwick, edging a little from
the balustrade, as the possibility of the dismal man's tipping him
over, by way of experiment, occurred to him rather forcibly.
'I have thought so, often,' said the dismal man, without
noticing the action. 'The calm, cool water seems to me to murmur
an invitation to repose and rest. A bound, a splash, a brief
struggle; there is an eddy for an instant, it gradually subsides into
a gentle ripple; the waters have closed above your head, and the
world has closed upon your miseries and misfortunes for ever.'
The sunken eye of the dismal man flashed brightly as he spoke,
but the momentary excitement quickly subsided; and he turned
calmly away, as he said--
'There--enough of that. I wish to see you on another subject.
You invited me to read that paper, the night before last, and
listened attentively while I did so.'
'I did,' replied Mr. Pickwick; 'and I certainly thought--'
'I asked for no opinion,' said the dismal man, interrupting him,
'and I want none. You are travelling for amusement and instruction.
Suppose I forward you a curious manuscript--observe, not
curious because wild or improbable, but curious as a leaf from
the romance of real life--would you communicate it to the club,
of which you have spoken so frequently?'
'Certainly,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'if you wished it; and it
would be entered on their transactions.'
'You shall have it,' replied the dismal man. 'Your address;'
and, Mr. Pickwick having communicated their probable route, the
dismal man carefully noted it down in a greasy pocket-book,
and, resisting Mr. Pickwick's pressing invitation to breakfast,
left that gentleman at his inn, and walked slowly away.
Mr. Pickwick found that his three companions had risen, and
were waiting his arrival to commence breakfast, which was ready
laid in tempting display. They sat down to the meal; and broiled
ham, eggs, tea, coffee and sundries, began to disappear with a
rapidity which at once bore testimony to the excellence of the
fare, and the appetites of its consumers.
'Now, about Manor Farm,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'How shall we go ?'
'We had better consult the waiter, perhaps,' said Mr. Tupman;
and the waiter was summoned accordingly.
'Dingley Dell, gentlemen--fifteen miles, gentlemen--cross
road--post-chaise, sir?'
'Post-chaise won't hold more than two,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'True, sir--beg your pardon, sir.--Very nice four-wheel chaise,
sir--seat for two behind--one in front for the gentleman that
drives--oh! beg your pardon, sir--that'll only hold three.'
'What's to be done?' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'Perhaps one of the gentlemen would like to ride, sir?' suggested
the waiter, looking towards Mr. Winkle; 'very good
saddle-horses, sir--any of Mr. Wardle's men coming to Rochester,
bring 'em back, Sir.'
'The very thing,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Winkle, will you go on
horseback ?'
Now Mr. Winkle did entertain considerable misgivings in the
very lowest recesses of his own heart, relative to his equestrian
skill; but, as he would not have them even suspected, on any
account, he at once replied with great hardihood, 'Certainly. I
should enjoy it of all things.'
Mr. Winkle had rushed upon his fate; there was no resource.
'Let them be at the door by eleven,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Very well, sir,' replied the waiter.
The waiter retired; the breakfast concluded; and the travellers
ascended to their respective bedrooms, to prepare a change of
clothing, to take with them on their approaching expedition.
Mr. Pickwick had made his preliminary arrangements, and
was looking over the coffee-room blinds at the passengers
in the street, when the waiter entered, and announced that
the chaise was ready--an announcement which the vehicle itself
confirmed, by forthwith appearing before the coffee-room blinds
It was a curious little green box on four wheels, with a low
place like a wine-bin for two behind, and an elevated perch for
one in front, drawn by an immense brown horse, displaying
great symmetry of bone. An hostler stood near, holding by the
bridle another immense horse--apparently a near relative of the
animal in the chaise--ready saddled for Mr. Winkle.
'Bless my soul!' said Mr. Pickwick, as they stood upon the
pavement while the coats were being put in. 'Bless my soul! who's
to drive? I never thought of that.'
'Oh! you, of course,' said Mr. Tupman.
'Of course,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'I!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.
'Not the slightest fear, Sir,' interposed the hostler. 'Warrant
him quiet, Sir; a hinfant in arms might drive him.'
'He don't shy, does he?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Shy, sir?-he wouldn't shy if he was to meet a vagin-load of
monkeys with their tails burned off.'
The last recommendation was indisputable. Mr. Tupman and
Mr. Snodgrass got into the bin; Mr. Pickwick ascended to his
perch, and deposited his feet on a floor-clothed shelf, erected
beneath it for that purpose.
'Now, shiny Villiam,' said the hostler to the deputy hostler,
'give the gen'lm'n the ribbons.' 'Shiny Villiam'--so called,
probably, from his sleek hair and oily countenance--placed the
reins in Mr. Pickwick's left hand; and the upper hostler thrust a
whip into his right.
'Wo-o!' cried Mr. Pickwick, as the tall quadruped evinced a
decided inclination to back into the coffee-room window.
'Wo-o!' echoed Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass, from the bin.
'Only his playfulness, gen'lm'n,' said the head hostler
encouragingly; 'jist kitch hold on him, Villiam.' The deputy
restrained the animal's impetuosity, and the principal ran to
assist Mr. Winkle in mounting.
'T'other side, sir, if you please.'
'Blowed if the gen'lm'n worn't a-gettin' up on the wrong side,'
whispered a grinning post-boy to the inexpressibly gratified waiter.
Mr. Winkle, thus instructed, climbed into his saddle, with
about as much difficulty as he would have experienced in getting
up the side of a first-rate man-of-war.
'All right?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, with an inward presentiment
that it was all wrong.
'All right,' replied Mr. Winkle faintly.
'Let 'em go,' cried the hostler.--'Hold him in, sir;' and away
went the chaise, and the saddle-horse, with Mr. Pickwick on the
box of the one, and Mr. Winkle on the back of the other, to the
delight and gratification of the whole inn-yard.
'What makes him go sideways?' said Mr. Snodgrass in the bin,
to Mr. Winkle in the saddle.
'I can't imagine,' replied Mr. Winkle. His horse was drifting
up the street in the most mysterious manner--side first, with
his head towards one side of the way, and his tail towards the other.
Mr. Pickwick had no leisure to observe either this or any other
particular, the whole of his faculties being concentrated in the
management of the animal attached to the chaise, who displayed
various peculiarities, highly interesting to a bystander, but by no
means equally amusing to any one seated behind him. Besides
constantly jerking his head up, in a very unpleasant and uncomfortable
manner, and tugging at the reins to an extent which
rendered it a matter of great difficulty for Mr. Pickwick to hold
them, he had a singular propensity for darting suddenly every
now and then to the side of the road, then stopping short, and
then rushing forward for some minutes, at a speed which it was
wholly impossible to control.
'What CAN he mean by this?' said Mr. Snodgrass, when the
horse had executed this manoeuvre for the twentieth time.
'I don't know,' replied Mr. Tupman; 'it looks very like shying,
don't it?' Mr. Snodgrass was about to reply, when he was interrupted
by a shout from Mr. Pickwick.
'Woo!' said that gentleman; 'I have dropped my whip.'
'Winkle,' said Mr. Snodgrass, as the equestrian came trotting
up on the tall horse, with his hat over his ears, and shaking all
over, as if he would shake to pieces, with the violence of the
exercise, 'pick up the whip, there's a good fellow.' Mr. Winkle
pulled at the bridle of the tall horse till he was black in the face;
and having at length succeeded in stopping him, dismounted,
handed the whip to Mr. Pickwick, and grasping the reins,
prepared to remount.
Now whether the tall horse, in the natural playfulness of his
disposition, was desirous of having a little innocent recreation
with Mr. Winkle, or whether it occurred to him that he could
perform the journey as much to his own satisfaction without a
rider as with one, are points upon which, of course, we can
arrive at no definite and distinct conclusion. By whatever motives
the animal was actuated, certain it is that Mr. Winkle had no
sooner touched the reins, than he slipped them over his head, and
darted backwards to their full length.
'Poor fellow,' said Mr. Winkle soothingly--'poor fellow--
good old horse.' The 'poor fellow' was proof against flattery; the
more Mr. Winkle tried to get nearer him, the more he sidled
away; and, notwithstanding all kinds of coaxing and wheedling,
there were Mr. Winkle and the horse going round and round each
other for ten minutes, at the end of which time each was at
precisely the same distance from the other as when they first
commenced--an unsatisfactory sort of thing under any circumstances,
but particularly so in a lonely road, where no assistance
can be procured.
'What am I to do?' shouted Mr. Winkle, after the dodging had
been prolonged for a considerable time. 'What am I to do? I
can't get on him.'
'You had better lead him till we come to a turnpike,' replied
Mr. Pickwick from the chaise.
'But he won't come!' roared Mr. Winkle. 'Do come and hold him.'
Mr. Pickwick was the very personation of kindness and
humanity: he threw the reins on the horse's back, and having
descended from his seat, carefully drew the chaise into the hedge,
lest anything should come along the road, and stepped back to
the assistance of his distressed companion, leaving Mr. Tupman
and Mr. Snodgrass in the vehicle.
The horse no sooner beheld Mr. Pickwick advancing towards
him with the chaise whip in his hand, than he exchanged the
rotary motion in which he had previously indulged, for a retrograde
movement of so very determined a character, that it at once
drew Mr. Winkle, who was still at the end of the bridle, at a
rather quicker rate than fast walking, in the direction from which
they had just come. Mr. Pickwick ran to his assistance, but the
faster Mr. Pickwick ran forward, the faster the horse ran backward.
There was a great scraping of feet, and kicking up of
the dust; and at last Mr. Winkle, his arms being nearly pulled
out of their sockets, fairly let go his hold. The horse paused,
stared, shook his head, turned round, and quietly trotted
home to Rochester, leaving Mr. Winkle and Mr. Pickwick
gazing on each other with countenances of blank dismay. A
rattling noise at a little distance attracted their attention. They
looked up.
'Bless my soul!' exclaimed the agonised Mr. Pickwick; 'there's
the other horse running away!'
It was but too true. The animal was startled by the noise, and
the reins were on his back. The results may be guessed. He tore
off with the four-wheeled chaise behind him, and Mr. Tupman
and Mr. Snodgrass in the four-wheeled chaise. The heat was a
short one. Mr. Tupman threw himself into the hedge, Mr. Snodgrass
followed his example, the horse dashed the four--wheeled
chaise against a wooden bridge, separated the wheels from the
body, and the bin from the perch; and finally stood stock still to
gaze upon the ruin he had made.
The first care of the two unspilt friends was to extricate their
unfortunate companions from their bed of quickset--a process
which gave them the unspeakable satisfaction of discovering that
they had sustained no injury, beyond sundry rents in their
garments, and various lacerations from the brambles. The next
thing to be done was to unharness the horse. This complicated
process having been effected, the party walked slowly forward,
leading the horse among them, and abandoning the chaise to its fate.
An hour's walk brought the travellers to a little road-side
public-house, with two elm-trees, a horse trough, and a signpost,
in front; one or two deformed hay-ricks behind, a kitchen garden
at the side, and rotten sheds and mouldering outhouses jumbled
in strange confusion all about it. A red-headed man was working
in the garden; and to him Mr. Pickwick called lustily, 'Hollo there!'
The red-headed man raised his body, shaded his eyes with his hand,
and stared, long and coolly, at Mr. Pickwick and his companions.
'Hollo there!' repeated Mr. Pickwick.
'Hollo!' was the red-headed man's reply.
'How far is it to Dingley Dell?'
'Better er seven mile.'
'Is it a good road?'
'No, 'tain't.' Having uttered this brief reply, and apparently
satisfied himself with another scrutiny, the red-headed man
resumed his work.
'We want to put this horse up here,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'I
suppose we can, can't we?'
'Want to put that ere horse up, do ee?' repeated the redheaded
man, leaning on his spade.
'Of course,' replied Mr. Pickwick, who had by this time
advanced, horse in hand, to the garden rails.
'Missus'--roared the man with the red head, emerging from
the garden, and looking very hard at the horse--'missus!'
A tall, bony woman--straight all the way down--in a coarse,
blue pelisse, with the waist an inch or two below her arm-pits,
responded to the call.
'Can we put this horse up here, my good woman?' said Mr.
Tupman, advancing, and speaking in his most seductive tones.
The woman looked very hard at the whole party; and the redheaded
man whispered something in her ear.
'No,' replied the woman, after a little consideration, 'I'm
afeerd on it.'
'Afraid!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, 'what's the woman afraid of ?'
'It got us in trouble last time,' said the woman, turning into the
house; 'I woan't have nothin' to say to 'un.'
'Most extraordinary thing I have ever met with in my life,' said
the astonished Mr. Pickwick.
'I--I--really believe,' whispered Mr. Winkle, as his friends
gathered round him, 'that they think we have come by this horse
in some dishonest manner.'
'What!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, in a storm of indignation.
Mr. Winkle modestly repeated his suggestion.
'Hollo, you fellow,' said the angry Mr. Pickwick,'do you think
we stole the horse?'
'I'm sure ye did,' replied the red-headed man, with a grin which
agitated his countenance from one auricular organ to the other.
Saying which he turned into the house and banged the door after him.
'It's like a dream,' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, 'a hideous dream.
The idea of a man's walking about all day with a dreadful horse
that he can't get rid of!' The depressed Pickwickians turned
moodily away, with the tall quadruped, for which they all felt the
most unmitigated disgust, following slowly at their heels.
It was late in the afternoon when the four friends and their
four-footed companion turned into the lane leading to Manor
Farm; and even when they were so near their place of destination,
the pleasure they would otherwise have experienced was materially
damped as they reflected on the singularity of their appearance,
and the absurdity of their situation. Torn clothes, lacerated faces,
dusty shoes, exhausted looks, and, above all, the horse. Oh, how
Mr. Pickwick cursed that horse: he had eyed the noble animal
from time to time with looks expressive of hatred and revenge;
more than once he had calculated the probable amount of the
expense he would incur by cutting his throat; and now the
temptation to destroy him, or to cast him loose upon the world,
rushed upon his mind with tenfold force. He was roused from a
meditation on these dire imaginings by the sudden appearance of
two figures at a turn of the lane. It was Mr. Wardle, and his
faithful attendant, the fat boy.
'Why, where have you been ?' said the hospitable old gentleman;
'I've been waiting for you all day. Well, you DO look tired. What!
Scratches! Not hurt, I hope--eh? Well, I AM glad to hear that--
very. So you've been spilt, eh? Never mind. Common accident in
these parts. Joe--he's asleep again!--Joe, take that horse from
the gentlemen, and lead it into the stable.'
The fat boy sauntered heavily behind them with the animal;
and the old gentleman, condoling with his guests in homely
phrase on so much of the day's adventures as they thought proper
to communicate, led the way to the kitchen.
'We'll have you put to rights here,' said the old gentleman, 'and
then I'll introduce you to the people in the parlour. Emma, bring
out the cherry brandy; now, Jane, a needle and thread here;
towels and water, Mary. Come, girls, bustle about.'
Three or four buxom girls speedily dispersed in search of the
different articles in requisition, while a couple of large-headed,
circular-visaged males rose from their seats in the chimneycorner
(for although it was a May evening their attachment to the
wood fire appeared as cordial as if it were Christmas), and dived
into some obscure recesses, from which they speedily produced a
bottle of blacking, and some half-dozen brushes.
'Bustle!' said the old gentleman again, but the admonition was
quite unnecessary, for one of the girls poured out the cherry
brandy, and another brought in the towels, and one of the men
suddenly seizing Mr. Pickwick by the leg, at imminent hazard of
throwing him off his balance, brushed away at his boot till his
corns were red-hot; while the other shampooed Mr. Winkle with
a heavy clothes-brush, indulging, during the operation, in that
hissing sound which hostlers are wont to produce when engaged
in rubbing down a horse.
Mr. Snodgrass, having concluded his ablutions, took a survey
of the room, while standing with his back to the fire, sipping his
cherry brandy with heartfelt satisfaction. He describes it as a
large apartment, with a red brick floor and a capacious chimney;
the ceiling garnished with hams, sides of bacon, and ropes of
onions. The walls were decorated with several hunting-whips,
two or three bridles, a saddle, and an old rusty blunderbuss, with
an inscription below it, intimating that it was 'Loaded'--as it had
been, on the same authority, for half a century at least. An old
eight-day clock, of solemn and sedate demeanour, ticked gravely
in one corner; and a silver watch, of equal antiquity, dangled
from one of the many hooks which ornamented the dresser.
'Ready?' said the old gentleman inquiringly, when his guests
had been washed, mended, brushed, and brandied.
'Quite,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Come along, then;' and the party having traversed several
dark passages, and being joined by Mr. Tupman, who had
lingered behind to snatch a kiss from Emma, for which he had
been duly rewarded with sundry pushings and scratchings,
arrived at the parlour door.
'Welcome,' said their hospitable host, throwing it open and
stepping forward to announce them, 'welcome, gentlemen, to
Manor Farm.'
Several guests who were assembled in the old parlour rose to
greet Mr. Pickwick and his friends upon their entrance; and during
the performance of the ceremony of introduction, with all due
formalities, Mr. Pickwick had leisure to observe the appearance,
and speculate upon the characters and pursuits, of the persons by
whom he was surrounded--a habit in which he, in common with many
other great men, delighted to indulge.
A very old lady, in a lofty cap and faded silk gown--no less a
personage than Mr. Wardle's mother--occupied the post of
honour on the right-hand corner of the chimney-piece; and
various certificates of her having been brought up in the way she
should go when young, and of her not having departed from it
when old, ornamented the walls, in the form of samplers of
ancient date, worsted landscapes of equal antiquity, and crimson
silk tea-kettle holders of a more modern period. The aunt, the two
young ladies, and Mr. Wardle, each vying with the other in
paying zealous and unremitting attentions to the old lady,
crowded round her easy-chair, one holding her ear-trumpet,
another an orange, and a third a smelling-bottle, while a fourth
was busily engaged in patting and punching the pillows which
were arranged for her support. On the opposite side sat a baldheaded
old gentleman, with a good-humoured, benevolent face--
the clergyman of Dingley Dell; and next him sat his wife, a stout,
blooming old lady, who looked as if she were well skilled, not
only in the art and mystery of manufacturing home-made
cordials greatly to other people's satisfaction, but of tasting them
occasionally very much to her own. A little hard-headed,
Ripstone pippin-faced man, was conversing with a fat old
gentleman in one corner; and two or three more old gentlemen,
and two or three more old ladies, sat bolt upright and motionless
on their chairs, staring very hard at Mr. Pickwick and his
'Mr. Pickwick, mother,' said Mr. Wardle, at the very top of
his voice.
'Ah!' said the old lady, shaking her head; 'I can't hear you.'
'Mr. Pickwick, grandma!' screamed both the young ladies together.
'Ah!' exclaimed the old lady. 'Well, it don't much matter. He
don't care for an old 'ooman like me, I dare say.'
'I assure you, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, grasping the old
lady's hand, and speaking so loud that the exertion imparted a
crimson hue to his benevolent countenance--'I assure you,
ma'am, that nothing delights me more than to see a lady of your
time of life heading so fine a family, and looking so young and well.'
'Ah!' said the old lady, after a short pause: 'it's all very fine, I
dare say; but I can't hear him.'
'Grandma's rather put out now,' said Miss Isabella Wardle, in
a low tone; 'but she'll talk to you presently.'
Mr. Pickwick nodded his readiness to humour the infirmities
of age, and entered into a general conversation with the other
members of the circle.
'Delightful situation this,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Delightful!' echoed Messrs. Snodgrass, Tupman, and Winkle.
'Well, I think it is,' said Mr. Wardle.
'There ain't a better spot o' ground in all Kent, sir,' said the
hard-headed man with the pippin--face; 'there ain't indeed, sir--
I'm sure there ain't, Sir.' The hard-headed man looked triumphantly
round, as if he had been very much contradicted by somebody,
but had got the better of him at last.
'There ain't a better spot o' ground in all Kent,' said the
hard-headed man again, after a pause.
''Cept Mullins's Meadows,' observed the fat man solemnly.
'Mullins's Meadows!' ejaculated the other, with profound contempt.
'Ah, Mullins's Meadows,' repeated the fat man.
'Reg'lar good land that,' interposed another fat man.
'And so it is, sure-ly,' said a third fat man.
'Everybody knows that,' said the corpulent host.
The hard-headed man looked dubiously round, but finding
himself in a minority, assumed a compassionate air and said no more.
'What are they talking about?' inquired the old lady of one of
her granddaughters, in a very audible voice; for, like many deaf
people, she never seemed to calculate on the possibility of other
persons hearing what she said herself.
'About the land, grandma.'
'What about the land?--Nothing the matter, is there?'
'No, no. Mr. Miller was saying our land was better than
Mullins's Meadows.'
'How should he know anything about it?'inquired the old lady
indignantly. 'Miller's a conceited coxcomb, and you may tell him
I said so.' Saying which, the old lady, quite unconscious that she
had spoken above a whisper, drew herself up, and looked
carving-knives at the hard-headed delinquent.
'Come, come,' said the bustling host, with a natural anxiety to
change the conversation, 'what say you to a rubber, Mr. Pickwick?'
'I should like it of all things,' replied that gentleman; 'but pray
don't make up one on my account.'
'Oh, I assure you, mother's very fond of a rubber,' said Mr.
Wardle; 'ain't you, mother?'
The old lady, who was much less deaf on this subject than on
any other, replied in the affirmative.
'Joe, Joe!' said the gentleman; 'Joe--damn that--oh, here he
is; put out the card--tables.'
The lethargic youth contrived without any additional rousing
to set out two card-tables; the one for Pope Joan, and the other
for whist. The whist-players were Mr. Pickwick and the old lady,
Mr. Miller and the fat gentleman. The round game comprised the
rest of the company.
The rubber was conducted with all that gravity of deportment
and sedateness of demeanour which befit the pursuit entitled
'whist'--a solemn observance, to which, as it appears to us, the
title of 'game' has been very irreverently and ignominiously
applied. The round-game table, on the other hand, was so
boisterously merry as materially to interrupt the contemplations
of Mr. Miller, who, not being quite so much absorbed as he
ought to have been, contrived to commit various high crimes and
misdemeanours, which excited the wrath of the fat gentleman to
a very great extent, and called forth the good-humour of the old
lady in a proportionate degree.
'There!' said the criminal Miller triumphantly, as he took up
the odd trick at the conclusion of a hand; 'that could not have
been played better, I flatter myself; impossible to have made
another trick!'
'Miller ought to have trumped the diamond, oughtn't he, Sir?'
said the old lady.
Mr. Pickwick nodded assent.
'Ought I, though?' said the unfortunate, with a doubtful appeal
to his partner.
'You ought, Sir,' said the fat gentleman, in an awful voice.
'Very sorry,' said the crestfallen Miller.
'Much use that,' growled the fat gentleman.
'Two by honours--makes us eight,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Another hand. 'Can you one?' inquired the old lady.
'I can,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'Double, single, and the rub.'
'Never was such luck,' said Mr. Miller.
'Never was such cards,' said the fat gentleman.
A solemn silence; Mr. Pickwick humorous, the old lady serious,
the fat gentleman captious, and Mr. Miller timorous.
'Another double,' said the old lady, triumphantly making a
memorandum of the circumstance, by placing one sixpence and a
battered halfpenny under the candlestick.
'A double, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Quite aware of the fact, Sir,' replied the fat gentleman sharply.
Another game, with a similar result, was followed by a revoke
from the unlucky Miller; on which the fat gentleman burst into a
state of high personal excitement which lasted until the
conclusion of the game, when he retired into a corner, and remained
perfectly mute for one hour and twenty-seven minutes; at the end
of which time he emerged from his retirement, and offered
Mr. Pickwick a pinch of snuff with the air of a man who had
made up his mind to a Christian forgiveness of injuries sustained.
The old lady's hearing decidedly improved and the unlucky
Miller felt as much out of his element as a dolphin in a sentry-box.
Meanwhile the round game proceeded right merrily. Isabella
Wardle and Mr. Trundle 'went partners,' and Emily Wardle and
Mr. Snodgrass did the same; and even Mr. Tupman and the
spinster aunt established a joint-stock company of fish and
flattery. Old Mr. Wardle was in the very height of his jollity; and
he was so funny in his management of the board, and the old
ladies were so sharp after their winnings, that the whole table was
in a perpetual roar of merriment and laughter. There was one old
lady who always had about half a dozen cards to pay for, at
which everybody laughed, regularly every round; and when the
old lady looked cross at having to pay, they laughed louder than
ever; on which the old lady's face gradually brightened up, till at
last she laughed louder than any of them, Then, when the spinster
aunt got 'matrimony,' the young ladies laughed afresh, and the
Spinster aunt seemed disposed to be pettish; till, feeling Mr.
Tupman squeezing her hand under the table, she brightened up
too, and looked rather knowing, as if matrimony in reality were
not quite so far off as some people thought for; whereupon
everybody laughed again, and especially old Mr. Wardle, who
enjoyed a joke as much as the youngest. As to Mr. Snodgrass, he
did nothing but whisper poetical sentiments into his partner's
ear, which made one old gentleman facetiously sly, about
partnerships at cards and partnerships for life, and caused the
aforesaid old gentleman to make some remarks thereupon,
accompanied with divers winks and chuckles, which made the
company very merry and the old gentleman's wife especially so.
And Mr. Winkle came out with jokes which are very well known
in town, but are not all known in the country; and as everybody
laughed at them very heartily, and said they were very capital,
Mr. Winkle was in a state of great honour and glory. And the
benevolent clergyman looked pleasantly on; for the happy faces
which surrounded the table made the good old man feel happy
too; and though the merriment was rather boisterous, still it
came from the heart and not from the lips; and this is the right
sort of merriment, after all.
The evening glided swiftly away, in these cheerful recreations;
and when the substantial though homely supper had been
despatched, and the little party formed a social circle round the
fire, Mr. Pickwick thought he had never felt so happy in his life,
and at no time so much disposed to enjoy, and make the most of,
the passing moment.
'Now this,' said the hospitable host, who was sitting in great
state next the old lady's arm-chair, with her hand fast clasped in
his--'this is just what I like--the happiest moments of my life
have been passed at this old fireside; and I am so attached to it,
that I keep up a blazing fire here every evening, until it actually
grows too hot to bear it. Why, my poor old mother, here, used
to sit before this fireplace upon that little stool when she was a
girl; didn't you, mother?'
The tear which starts unbidden to the eye when the recollection
of old times and the happiness of many years ago is suddenly
recalled, stole down the old lady's face as she shook her head with
a melancholy smile.
'You must excuse my talking about this old place, Mr. Pickwick,'
resumed the host, after a short pause, 'for I love it dearly,
and know no other--the old houses and fields seem like living
friends to me; and so does our little church with the ivy, about
which, by the bye, our excellent friend there made a song when
he first came amongst us. Mr. Snodgrass, have you anything in
your glass?'
'Plenty, thank you,' replied that gentleman, whose poetic
curiosity had been greatly excited by the last observation of his
entertainer. 'I beg your pardon, but you were talking about the
song of the Ivy.'
'You must ask our friend opposite about that,' said the host
knowingly, indicating the clergyman by a nod of his head.
'May I say that I should like to hear you repeat it, sir?' said
Mr. Snodgrass.
'Why, really,' replied the clergyman, 'it's a very slight affair;
and the only excuse I have for having ever perpetrated it is, that
I was a young man at the time. Such as it is, however, you shall
hear it, if you wish.'
A murmur of curiosity was of course the reply; and the old
gentleman proceeded to recite, with the aid of sundry promptings
from his wife, the lines in question. 'I call them,' said he,
Oh, a dainty plant is the Ivy green,
That creepeth o'er ruins old!
Of right choice food are his meals, I ween,
In his cell so lone and cold.
The wall must be crumbled, the stone decayed,
To pleasure his dainty whim;
And the mouldering dust that years have made,
Is a merry meal for him.
Creeping where no life is seen,
A rare old plant is the Ivy green.
Fast he stealeth on, though he wears no wings,
And a staunch old heart has he.
How closely he twineth, how tight he clings
To his friend the huge Oak Tree!
And slily he traileth along the ground,
And his leaves he gently waves,
As he joyously hugs and crawleth round
The rich mould of dead men's graves.
Creeping where grim death has been,
A rare old plant is the Ivy green.
Whole ages have fled and their works decayed,
And nations have scattered been;
But the stout old Ivy shall never fade,
From its hale and hearty green.
The brave old plant in its lonely days,
Shall fatten upon the past;
For the stateliest building man can raise,
Is the Ivy's food at last.
Creeping on where time has been,
A rare old plant is the Ivy green.
While the old gentleman repeated these lines a second time, to
enable Mr. Snodgrass to note them down, Mr. Pickwick perused
the lineaments of his face with an expression of great interest.
The old gentleman having concluded his dictation, and Mr.
Snodgrass having returned his note-book to his pocket, Mr.
Pickwick said--
'Excuse me, sir, for making the remark on so short an
acquaintance; but a gentleman like yourself cannot fail, I should
think, to have observed many scenes and incidents worth
recording, in the course of your experience as a minister of the
'I have witnessed some certainly,' replied the old gentleman,
'but the incidents and characters have been of a homely and
ordinary nature, my sphere of action being so very limited.'
'You did make some notes, I think, about John Edmunds, did
you not?' inquired Mr. Wardle, who appeared very desirous to
draw his friend out, for the edification of his new visitors.
The old gentleman slightly nodded his head in token of assent,
and was proceeding to change the subject, when Mr. Pickwick
'I beg your pardon, sir, but pray, if I may venture to inquire,
who was John Edmunds?'
'The very thing I was about to ask,' said Mr. Snodgrass eagerly.
'You are fairly in for it,' said the jolly host. 'You must satisfy
the curiosity of these gentlemen, sooner or later; so you had
better take advantage of this favourable opportunity, and do so
at once.'
The old gentleman smiled good-humouredly as he drew his
chair forward--the remainder of the party drew their chairs
closer together, especially Mr. Tupman and the spinster aunt,
who were possibly rather hard of hearing; and the old lady's
ear-trumpet having been duly adjusted, and Mr. Miller (who had
fallen asleep during the recital of the verses) roused from his
slumbers by an admonitory pinch, administered beneath the
table by his ex-partner the solemn fat man, the old gentleman,
without further preface, commenced the following tale, to which
we have taken the liberty of prefixing the title of
'When I first settled in this village,' said the old gentleman,
'which is now just five-and-twenty years ago, the most notorious
person among my parishioners was a man of the name of
Edmunds, who leased a small farm near this spot. He was a
morose, savage-hearted, bad man; idle and dissolute in his
habits; cruel and ferocious in his disposition. Beyond the few
lazy and reckless vagabonds with whom he sauntered away his
time in the fields, or sotted in the ale-house, he had not a single
friend or acquaintance; no one cared to speak to the man whom
many feared, and every one detested--and Edmunds was
shunned by all.
'This man had a wife and one son, who, when I first came here,
was about twelve years old. Of the acuteness of that woman's
sufferings, of the gentle and enduring manner in which she bore
them, of the agony of solicitude with which she reared that boy,
no one can form an adequate conception. Heaven forgive me the
supposition, if it be an uncharitable one, but I do firmly and in
my soul believe, that the man systematically tried for many years
to break her heart; but she bore it all for her child's sake, and,
however strange it may seem to many, for his father's too; for
brute as he was, and cruelly as he had treated her, she had loved
him once; and the recollection of what he had been to her,
awakened feelings of forbearance and meekness under suffering
in her bosom, to which all God's creatures, but women, are strangers.
'They were poor--they could not be otherwise when the man
pursued such courses; but the woman's unceasing and
unwearied exertions, early and late, morning, noon, and night, kept
them above actual want. These exertions were but ill repaid.
People who passed the spot in the evening--sometimes at a late
hour of the night--reported that they had heard the moans and
sobs of a woman in distress, and the sound of blows; and more
than once, when it was past midnight, the boy knocked softly at
the door of a neighbour's house, whither he had been sent, to
escape the drunken fury of his unnatural father.
'During the whole of this time, and when the poor creature
often bore about her marks of ill-usage and violence which she
could not wholly conceal, she was a constant attendant at our
little church. Regularly every Sunday, morning and afternoon, she
occupied the same seat with the boy at her side; and though they
were both poorly dressed--much more so than many of their
neighbours who were in a lower station--they were always neat
and clean. Every one had a friendly nod and a kind word for
"poor Mrs. Edmunds"; and sometimes, when she stopped to
exchange a few words with a neighbour at the conclusion of the
service in the little row of elm-trees which leads to the church
porch, or lingered behind to gaze with a mother's pride and
fondness upon her healthy boy, as he sported before her with
some little companions, her careworn face would lighten up with
an expression of heartfelt gratitude; and she would look, if not
cheerful and happy, at least tranquil and contented.
'Five or six years passed away; the boy had become a robust
and well-grown youth. The time that had strengthened the child's
slight frame and knit his weak limbs into the strength of manhood
had bowed his mother's form, and enfeebled her steps;
but the arm that should have supported her was no longer locked
in hers; the face that should have cheered her, no more looked
upon her own. She occupied her old seat, but there was a vacant
one beside her. The Bible was kept as carefully as ever, the places
were found and folded down as they used to be: but there was no
one to read it with her; and the tears fell thick and fast upon the
book, and blotted the words from her eyes. Neighbours were as
kind as they were wont to be of old, but she shunned their
greetings with averted head. There was no lingering among the
old elm-trees now-no cheering anticipations of happiness yet in
store. The desolate woman drew her bonnet closer over her face,
and walked hurriedly away.
'Shall I tell you that the young man, who, looking back to the
earliest of his childhood's days to which memory and consciousness
extended, and carrying his recollection down to that moment,
could remember nothing which was not in some way connected
with a long series of voluntary privations suffered by his mother
for his sake, with ill-usage, and insult, and violence, and all
endured for him--shall I tell you, that he, with a reckless
disregard for her breaking heart, and a sullen, wilful forgetfulness of
all she had done and borne for him, had linked himself with
depraved and abandoned men, and was madly pursuing a
headlong career, which must bring death to him, and shame to
her? Alas for human nature! You have anticipated it long since.
'The measure of the unhappy woman's misery and misfortune
was about to be completed. Numerous offences had been
committed in the neighbourhood; the perpetrators remained
undiscovered, and their boldness increased. A robbery of a daring
and aggravated nature occasioned a vigilance of pursuit, and a
strictness of search, they had not calculated on. Young Edmunds
was suspected, with three companions. He was apprehended--
committed--tried--condemned--to die.
'The wild and piercing shriek from a woman's voice, which
resounded through the court when the solemn sentence was
pronounced, rings in my ears at this moment. That cry struck a
terror to the culprit's heart, which trial, condemnation--the
approach of death itself, had failed to awaken. The lips which
had been compressed in dogged sullenness throughout, quivered
and parted involuntarily; the face turned ashy pale as the cold
perspiration broke forth from every pore; the sturdy limbs of the
felon trembled, and he staggered in the dock.
'In the first transports of her mental anguish, the suffering
mother threw herself on her knees at my feet, and fervently
sought the Almighty Being who had hitherto supported her in
all her troubles to release her from a world of woe and misery,
and to spare the life of her only child. A burst of grief, and a
violent struggle, such as I hope I may never have to witness
again, succeeded. I knew that her heart was breaking from
that hour; but I never once heard complaint or murmur escape
her lips.
'It was a piteous spectacle to see that woman in the prison-yard
from day to day, eagerly and fervently attempting, by affection
and entreaty, to soften the hard heart of her obdurate son. It was
in vain. He remained moody, obstinate, and unmoved. Not even
the unlooked-for commutation of his sentence to transportation
for fourteen years, softened for an instant the sullen hardihood
of his demeanour.
'But the spirit of resignation and endurance that had so long
upheld her, was unable to contend against bodily weakness and
infirmity. She fell sick. She dragged her tottering limbs from the
bed to visit her son once more, but her strength failed her, and
she sank powerless on the ground.
'And now the boasted coldness and indifference of the young
man were tested indeed; and the retribution that fell heavily upon
him nearly drove him mad. A day passed away and his mother
was not there; another flew by, and she came not near him; a
third evening arrived, and yet he had not seen her--, and in fourand-
twenty hours he was to be separated from her, perhaps for
ever. Oh! how the long-forgotten thoughts of former days rushed
upon his mind, as he almost ran up and down the narrow yard--
as if intelligence would arrive the sooner for his hurrying--and
how bitterly a sense of his helplessness and desolation rushed
upon him, when he heard the truth! His mother, the only parent
he had ever known, lay ill--it might be, dying--within one mile
of the ground he stood on; were he free and unfettered, a few
minutes would place him by her side. He rushed to the gate, and
grasping the iron rails with the energy of desperation, shook it
till it rang again, and threw himself against the thick wall as if to
force a passage through the stone; but the strong building
mocked his feeble efforts, and he beat his hands together and
wept like a child.
'I bore the mother's forgiveness and blessing to her son in
prison; and I carried the solemn assurance of repentance, and his
fervent supplication for pardon, to her sick-bed. I heard, with
pity and compassion, the repentant man devise a thousand little
plans for her comfort and support when he returned; but I knew
that many months before he could reach his place of destination,
his mother would be no longer of this world.
'He was removed by night. A few weeks afterwards the poor
woman's soul took its flight, I confidently hope, and solemnly
believe, to a place of eternal happiness and rest. I performed the
burial service over her remains. She lies in our little churchyard.
There is no stone at her grave's head. Her sorrows were known to
man; her virtues to God.
'it had been arranged previously to the convict's departure,
that he should write to his mother as soon as he could obtain
permission, and that the letter should be addressed to me. The
father had positively refused to see his son from the moment of
his apprehension; and it was a matter of indifference to him
whether he lived or died. Many years passed over without any
intelligence of him; and when more than half his term of
transportation had expired, and I had received no letter, I concluded
him to be dead, as, indeed, I almost hoped he might be.
'Edmunds, however, had been sent a considerable distance up
the country on his arrival at the settlement; and to this circumstance,
perhaps, may be attributed the fact, that though several
letters were despatched, none of them ever reached my hands.
He remained in the same place during the whole fourteen years.
At the expiration of the term, steadily adhering to his old
resolution and the pledge he gave his mother, he made his way
back to England amidst innumerable difficulties, and returned,
on foot, to his native place.
'On a fine Sunday evening, in the month of August, John
Edmunds set foot in the village he had left with shame and
disgrace seventeen years before. His nearest way lay through the
churchyard. The man's heart swelled as he crossed the stile. The
tall old elms, through whose branches the declining sun cast here
and there a rich ray of light upon the shady part, awakened the
associations of his earliest days. He pictured himself as he was
then, clinging to his mother's hand, and walking peacefully to
church. He remembered how he used to look up into her pale
face; and how her eyes would sometimes fill with tears as she
gazed upon his features--tears which fell hot upon his forehead
as she stooped to kiss him, and made him weep too, although he
little knew then what bitter tears hers were. He thought how
often he had run merrily down that path with some childish
playfellow, looking back, ever and again, to catch his mother's
smile, or hear her gentle voice; and then a veil seemed lifted from
his memory, and words of kindness unrequited, and warnings
despised, and promises broken, thronged upon his recollection
till his heart failed him, and he could bear it no longer.
'He entered the church. The evening service was concluded and
the congregation had dispersed, but it was not yet closed. His
steps echoed through the low building with a hollow sound, and
he almost feared to be alone, it was so still and quiet. He looked
round him. Nothing was changed. The place seemed smaller than
it used to be; but there were the old monuments on which he had
gazed with childish awe a thousand times; the little pulpit with
its faded cushion; the Communion table before which he had so
often repeated the Commandments he had reverenced as a child,
and forgotten as a man. He approached the old seat; it looked
cold and desolate. The cushion had been removed, and the Bible
was not there. Perhaps his mother now occupied a poorer seat, or
possibly she had grown infirm and could not reach the church
alone. He dared not think of what he feared. A cold feeling crept
over him, and he trembled violently as he turned away.
'An old man entered the porch just as he reached it. Edmunds
started back, for he knew him well; many a time he had watched
him digging graves in the churchyard. What would he say to the
returned convict?
'The old man raised his eyes to the stranger's face, bade him
"good-evening," and walked slowly on. He had forgotten him.
'He walked down the hill, and through the village. The weather
was warm, and the people were sitting at their doors, or strolling
in their little gardens as he passed, enjoying the serenity of the
evening, and their rest from labour. Many a look was turned
towards him, and many a doubtful glance he cast on either side
to see whether any knew and shunned him. There were strange
faces in almost every house; in some he recognised the burly form
of some old schoolfellow--a boy when he last saw him--surrounded
by a troop of merry children; in others he saw, seated in
an easy-chair at a cottage door, a feeble and infirm old man,
whom he only remembered as a hale and hearty labourer; but
they had all forgotten him, and he passed on unknown.
'The last soft light of the setting sun had fallen on the earth,
casting a rich glow on the yellow corn sheaves, and lengthening
the shadows of the orchard trees, as he stood before the old house
--the home of his infancy--to which his heart had yearned with
an intensity of affection not to be described, through long and
weary years of captivity and sorrow. The paling was low, though
he well remembered the time that it had seemed a high wall to
him; and he looked over into the old garden. There were more
seeds and gayer flowers than there used to be, but there were the
old trees still--the very tree under which he had lain a thousand
times when tired of playing in the sun, and felt the soft, mild sleep
of happy boyhood steal gently upon him. There were voices
within the house. He listened, but they fell strangely upon his ear;
he knew them not. They were merry too; and he well knew that
his poor old mother could not be cheerful, and he away. The door
opened, and a group of little children bounded out, shouting and
romping. The father, with a little boy in his arms, appeared at the
door, and they crowded round him, clapping their tiny hands,
and dragging him out, to join their joyous sports. The convict
thought on the many times he had shrunk from his father's sight
in that very place. He remembered how often he had buried his
trembling head beneath the bedclothes, and heard the harsh word,
and the hard stripe, and his mother's wailing; and though the
man sobbed aloud with agony of mind as he left the spot, his fist
was clenched, and his teeth were set, in a fierce and deadly passion.
'And such was the return to which he had looked through the
weary perspective of many years, and for which he had undergone
so much suffering! No face of welcome, no look of forgiveness,
no house to receive, no hand to help him--and this too in the old
village. What was his loneliness in the wild, thick woods, where
man was never seen, to this!
'He felt that in the distant land of his bondage and infamy, he
had thought of his native place as it was when he left it; and not
as it would be when he returned. The sad reality struck coldly at
his heart, and his spirit sank within him. He had not courage to
make inquiries, or to present himself to the only person who was
likely to receive him with kindness and compassion. He walked
slowly on; and shunning the roadside like a guilty man, turned
into a meadow he well remembered; and covering his face with
his hands, threw himself upon the grass.
'He had not observed that a man was lying on the bank beside
him; his garments rustled as he turned round to steal a look at
the new-comer; and Edmunds raised his head.
'The man had moved into a sitting posture. His body was much
bent, and his face was wrinkled and yellow. His dress denoted
him an inmate of the workhouse: he had the appearance of being
very old, but it looked more the effect of dissipation or disease,
than the length of years. He was staring hard at the stranger, and
though his eyes were lustreless and heavy at first, they appeared
to glow with an unnatural and alarmed expression after they had
been fixed upon him for a short time, until they seemed to be
starting from their sockets. Edmunds gradually raised himself to
his knees, and looked more and more earnestly on the old man's
face. They gazed upon each other in silence.
'The old man was ghastly pale. He shuddered and tottered to
his feet. Edmunds sprang to his. He stepped back a pace or two.
Edmunds advanced.
'"Let me hear you speak," said the convict, in a thick, broken voice.
'"Stand off!" cried the old man, with a dreadful oath. The
convict drew closer to him.
'"Stand off!" shrieked the old man. Furious with terror, he
raised his stick, and struck Edmunds a heavy blow across the face.
'"Father--devil!" murmured the convict between his set
teeth. He rushed wildly forward, and clenched the old man by
the throat--but he was his father; and his arm fell powerless by
his side.
'The old man uttered a loud yell which rang through the
lonely fields like the howl of an evil spirit. His face turned black,
the gore rushed from his mouth and nose, and dyed the grass a
deep, dark red, as he staggered and fell. He had ruptured a
blood-vessel, and he was a dead man before his son could raise him.
'In that corner of the churchyard,' said the old gentleman, after
a silence of a few moments, 'in that corner of the churchyard of
which I have before spoken, there lies buried a man who was in
my employment for three years after this event, and who was
truly contrite, penitent, and humbled, if ever man was. No one
save myself knew in that man's lifetime who he was, or whence he
came--it was John Edmunds, the returned convict.'
The fatiguing adventures of the day or the somniferous influence
of the clergyman's tale operated so strongly on the drowsy
tendencies of Mr. Pickwick, that in less than five minutes
after he had been shown to his comfortable bedroom he fell
into a sound and dreamless sleep, from which he was only awakened
by the morning sun darting his bright beams reproachfully into the
apartment. Mr. Pickwick was no sluggard, and he sprang like an
ardent warrior from his tent-bedstead.
'Pleasant, pleasant country,' sighed the enthusiastic gentleman,
as he opened his lattice window. 'Who could live to gaze from
day to day on bricks and slates who had once felt the influence of
a scene like this? Who could continue to exist where there are no
cows but the cows on the chimney-pots; nothing redolent of Pan
but pan-tiles; no crop but stone crop? Who could bear to drag
out a life in such a spot? Who, I ask, could endure it?' and,
having cross-examined solitude after the most approved precedents,
at considerable length, Mr. Pickwick thrust his head out
of the lattice and looked around him.
The rich, sweet smell of the hay-ricks rose to his chamber
window; the hundred perfumes of the little flower-garden
beneath scented the air around; the deep-green meadows shone
in the morning dew that glistened on every leaf as it trembled
in the gentle air; and the birds sang as if every sparkling drop
were to them a fountain of inspiration. Mr. Pickwick fell into an
enchanting and delicious reverie.
'Hollo!' was the sound that roused him.
He looked to the right, but he saw nobody; his eyes wandered
to the left, and pierced the prospect; he stared into the sky, but he
wasn't wanted there; and then he did what a common mind
would have done at once--looked into the garden, and there saw
Mr. Wardle.
'How are you?' said the good-humoured individual, out of
breath with his own anticipations of pleasure.'Beautiful morning,
ain't it? Glad to see you up so early. Make haste down, and
come out. I'll wait for you here.'
Mr. Pickwick needed no second invitation. Ten minutes
sufficed for the completion of his toilet, and at the expiration of
that time he was by the old gentleman's side.
'Hollo!' said Mr. Pickwick in his turn, seeing that his
companion was armed with a gun, and that another lay ready on the
grass; 'what's going forward?'
'Why, your friend and I,' replied the host, 'are going out rookshooting
before breakfast. He's a very good shot, ain't he?'
'I've heard him say he's a capital one,' replied Mr. Pickwick,
'but I never saw him aim at anything.'
'Well,' said the host, 'I wish he'd come. Joe--Joe!'
The fat boy, who under the exciting influence of the morning
did not appear to be more than three parts and a fraction asleep,
emerged from the house.
'Go up, and call the gentleman, and tell him he'll find me and
Mr. Pickwick in the rookery. Show the gentleman the way there;
d'ye hear?'
The boy departed to execute his commission; and the host,
carrying both guns like a second Robinson Crusoe, led the way
from the garden.
'This is the place,' said the old gentleman, pausing after a few
minutes walking, in an avenue of trees. The information was
unnecessary; for the incessant cawing of the unconscious rooks
sufficiently indicated their whereabouts.
The old gentleman laid one gun on the ground, and loaded the other.
'Here they are,' said Mr. Pickwick; and, as he spoke, the
forms of Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and Mr. Winkle appeared
in the distance. The fat boy, not being quite certain which
gentleman he was directed to call, had with peculiar sagacity, and
to prevent the possibility of any mistake, called them all.
'Come along,' shouted the old gentleman, addressing Mr.
Winkle; 'a keen hand like you ought to have been up long ago,
even to such poor work as this.'
Mr. Winkle responded with a forced smile, and took up the
spare gun with an expression of countenance which a metaphysical
rook, impressed with a foreboding of his approaching
death by violence, may be supposed to assume. It might have
been keenness, but it looked remarkably like misery.
The old gentleman nodded; and two ragged boys who had
been marshalled to the spot under the direction of the infant
Lambert, forthwith commenced climbing up two of the trees.
'What are these lads for?' inquired Mr. Pickwick abruptly. He
was rather alarmed; for he was not quite certain but that the
distress of the agricultural interest, about which he had often
heard a great deal, might have compelled the small boys attached
to the soil to earn a precarious and hazardous subsistence by
making marks of themselves for inexperienced sportsmen.
'Only to start the game,' replied Mr. Wardle, laughing.
'To what?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Why, in plain English, to frighten the rooks.'
'Oh, is that all?'
'You are satisfied?'
'Very well. Shall I begin?'
'If you please,' said Mr. Winkle, glad of any respite.
'Stand aside, then. Now for it.'
The boy shouted, and shook a branch with a nest on it. Half a
dozen young rooks in violent conversation, flew out to ask what
the matter was. The old gentleman fired by way of reply. Down
fell one bird, and off flew the others.
'Take him up, Joe,' said the old gentleman.
There was a smile upon the youth's face as he advanced.
Indistinct visions of rook-pie floated through his imagination.
He laughed as he retired with the bird--it was a plump one.
'Now, Mr. Winkle,' said the host, reloading his own gun.
'Fire away.'
Mr. Winkle advanced, and levelled his gun. Mr. Pickwick and
his friends cowered involuntarily to escape damage from the
heavy fall of rooks, which they felt quite certain would be
occasioned by the devastating barrel of their friend. There was a
solemn pause--a shout--a flapping of wings--a faint click.
'Hollo!' said the old gentleman.
'Won't it go?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Missed fire,' said Mr. Winkle, who was very pale--probably
from disappointment.
'Odd,' said the old gentleman, taking the gun. 'Never knew one
of them miss fire before. Why, I don't see anything of the cap.'
'Bless my soul!' said Mr. Winkle, 'I declare I forgot the cap!'
The slight omission was rectified. Mr. Pickwick crouched
again. Mr. Winkle stepped forward with an air of determination
and resolution; and Mr. Tupman looked out from behind a tree.
The boy shouted; four birds flew out. Mr. Winkle fired. There
was a scream as of an individual--not a rook--in corporal
anguish. Mr. Tupman had saved the lives of innumerable
unoffending birds by receiving a portion of the charge in his left arm.
To describe the confusion that ensued would be impossible.
To tell how Mr. Pickwick in the first transports of emotion called
Mr. Winkle 'Wretch!' how Mr. Tupman lay prostrate on the
ground; and how Mr. Winkle knelt horror-stricken beside him;
how Mr. Tupman called distractedly upon some feminine
Christian name, and then opened first one eye, and then the
other, and then fell back and shut them both--all this would be
as difficult to describe in detail, as it would be to depict the
gradual recovering of the unfortunate individual, the binding up
of his arm with pocket-handkerchiefs, and the conveying him
back by slow degrees supported by the arms of his anxious friends.
They drew near the house. The ladies were at the garden gate,
waiting for their arrival and their breakfast. The spinster aunt
appeared; she smiled, and beckoned them to walk quicker. 'Twas
evident she knew not of the disaster. Poor thing! there are times
when ignorance is bliss indeed.
They approached nearer.
'Why, what is the matter with the little old gentleman?' said
Isabella Wardle. The spinster aunt heeded not the remark; she
thought it applied to Mr. Pickwick. In her eyes Tracy Tupman
was a youth; she viewed his years through a diminishing glass.
'Don't be frightened,' called out the old host, fearful of
alarming his daughters. The little party had crowded so
completely round Mr. Tupman, that they could not yet clearly
discern the nature of the accident.
'Don't be frightened,' said the host.
'What's the matter?' screamed the ladies.
'Mr. Tupman has met with a little accident; that's all.'
The spinster aunt uttered a piercing scream, burst into an
hysteric laugh, and fell backwards in the arms of her nieces.
'Throw some cold water over her,' said the old gentleman.
'No, no,' murmured the spinster aunt; 'I am better now.
Bella, Emily--a surgeon! Is he wounded?--Is he dead?--Is
he-- Ha, ha, ha!' Here the spinster aunt burst into fit number
two, of hysteric laughter interspersed with screams.
'Calm yourself,' said Mr. Tupman, affected almost to tears by
this expression of sympathy with his sufferings. 'Dear, dear
madam, calm yourself.'
'It is his voice!' exclaimed the spinster aunt; and strong
symptoms of fit number three developed themselves forthwith.
'Do not agitate yourself, I entreat you, dearest madam,' said
Mr. Tupman soothingly. 'I am very little hurt, I assure you.'
'Then you are not dead!' ejaculated the hysterical lady. 'Oh,
say you are not dead!'
'Don't be a fool, Rachael,' interposed Mr. Wardle, rather
more roughly than was consistent with the poetic nature of the
scene. 'What the devil's the use of his saying he isn't dead?'
'No, no, I am not,' said Mr. Tupman. 'I require no assistance
but yours. Let me lean on your arm.' He added, in a whisper,
'Oh, Miss Rachael!' The agitated female advanced, and offered
her arm. They turned into the breakfast parlour. Mr. Tracy
Tupman gently pressed her hand to his lips, and sank upon the sofa.
'Are you faint?' inquired the anxious Rachael.
'No,' said Mr. Tupman. 'It is nothing. I shall be better
presently.' He closed his eyes.
'He sleeps,' murmured the spinster aunt. (His organs of vision
had been closed nearly twenty seconds.) 'Dear--dear--Mr. Tupman!'
Mr. Tupman jumped up--'Oh, say those words again!' he exclaimed.
The lady started. 'Surely you did not hear them!' she
said bashfully.
'Oh, yes, I did!' replied Mr. Tupman; 'repeat them. If you
would have me recover, repeat them.'
'Hush!' said the lady. 'My brother.'
Mr. Tracy Tupman resumed his former position; and Mr.
Wardle, accompanied by a surgeon, entered the room.
The arm was examined, the wound dressed, and pronounced
to be a very slight one; and the minds of the company having
been thus satisfied, they proceeded to satisfy their appetites with
countenances to which an expression of cheerfulness was again
restored. Mr. Pickwick alone was silent and reserved. Doubt and
distrust were exhibited in his countenance. His confidence in
Mr. Winkle had been shaken--greatly shaken--by the proceedings
of the morning.
'Are you a cricketer?' inquired Mr. Wardle of the marksman.
At any other time, Mr. Winkle would have replied in the
affirmative. He felt the delicacy of his situation, and modestly
replied, 'No.'
'Are you, sir?' inquired Mr. Snodgrass.
'I was once upon a time,' replied the host; 'but I have given it
up now. I subscribe to the club here, but I don't play.'
'The grand match is played to-day, I believe,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'It is,' replied the host. 'Of course you would like to see it.'
'I, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'am delighted to view any sports
which may be safely indulged in, and in which the impotent
effects of unskilful people do not endanger human life.' Mr.
Pickwick paused, and looked steadily on Mr. Winkle, who
quailed beneath his leader's searching glance. The great man
withdrew his eyes after a few minutes, and added: 'Shall we be
justified in leaving our wounded friend to the care of the ladies?'
'You cannot leave me in better hands,' said Mr. Tupman.
'Quite impossible,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
It was therefore settled that Mr. Tupman should be left at
home in charge of the females; and that the remainder of the
guests, under the guidance of Mr. Wardle, should proceed to the
spot where was to be held that trial of skill, which had roused all
Muggleton from its torpor, and inoculated Dingley Dell with a
fever of excitement.
As their walk, which was not above two miles long, lay
through shady lanes and sequestered footpaths, and as their
conversation turned upon the delightful scenery by which they
were on every side surrounded, Mr. Pickwick was almost
inclined to regret the expedition they had used, when he found
himself in the main street of the town of Muggleton.
Everybody whose genius has a topographical bent knows
perfectly well that Muggleton is a corporate town, with a mayor,
burgesses, and freemen; and anybody who has consulted the
addresses of the mayor to the freemen, or the freemen to the
mayor, or both to the corporation, or all three to Parliament, will
learn from thence what they ought to have known before, that
Muggleton is an ancient and loyal borough, mingling a zealous
advocacy of Christian principles with a devoted attachment to
commercial rights; in demonstration whereof, the mayor,
corporation, and other inhabitants, have presented at divers
times, no fewer than one thousand four hundred and twenty
petitions against the continuance of negro slavery abroad, and
an equal number against any interference with the factory system
at home; sixty-eight in favour of the sale of livings in the Church,
and eighty-six for abolishing Sunday trading in the street.
Mr. Pickwick stood in the principal street of this illustrious
town, and gazed with an air of curiosity, not unmixed with
interest, on the objects around him. There was an open square
for the market-place; and in the centre of it, a large inn with a
sign-post in front, displaying an object very common in art, but
rarely met with in nature--to wit, a blue lion, with three bow legs
in the air, balancing himself on the extreme point of the centre
claw of his fourth foot. There were, within sight, an auctioneer's
and fire-agency office, a corn-factor's, a linen-draper's, a
saddler's, a distiller's, a grocer's, and a shoe-shop--the lastmentioned
warehouse being also appropriated to the diffusion of
hats, bonnets, wearing apparel, cotton umbrellas, and useful
knowledge. There was a red brick house with a small paved
courtyard in front, which anybody might have known belonged
to the attorney; and there was, moreover, another red brick
house with Venetian blinds, and a large brass door-plate with a
very legible announcement that it belonged to the surgeon. A few
boys were making their way to the cricket-field; and two or three
shopkeepers who were standing at their doors looked as if they
should like to be making their way to the same spot, as indeed to
all appearance they might have done, without losing any great
amount of custom thereby. Mr. Pickwick having paused to make
these observations, to be noted down at a more convenient
period, hastened to rejoin his friends, who had turned out
of the main street, and were already within sight of the field
of battle.
The wickets were pitched, and so were a couple of marquees
for the rest and refreshment of the contending parties. The game
had not yet commenced. Two or three Dingley Dellers, and All-
Muggletonians, were amusing themselves with a majestic air by
throwing the ball carelessly from hand to hand; and several other
gentlemen dressed like them, in straw hats, flannel jackets, and
white trousers--a costume in which they looked very much like
amateur stone-masons--were sprinkled about the tents, towards
one of which Mr. Wardle conducted the party.
Several dozen of 'How-are-you's?' hailed the old gentleman's
arrival; and a general raising of the straw hats, and bending
forward of the flannel jackets, followed his introduction of his
guests as gentlemen from London, who were extremely anxious
to witness the proceedings of the day, with which, he had no
doubt, they would be greatly delighted.
'You had better step into the marquee, I think, Sir,' said one
very stout gentleman, whose body and legs looked like half a
gigantic roll of flannel, elevated on a couple of inflated pillow-cases.
'You'll find it much pleasanter, Sir,' urged another stout
gentleman, who strongly resembled the other half of the roll of
flannel aforesaid.
'You're very good,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'This way,' said the first speaker; 'they notch in here--it's the
best place in the whole field;' and the cricketer, panting on before,
preceded them to the tent.
'Capital game--smart sport--fine exercise--very,' were the
words which fell upon Mr. Pickwick's ear as he entered the tent;
and the first object that met his eyes was his green-coated friend
of the Rochester coach, holding forth, to the no small delight and
edification of a select circle of the chosen of All-Muggleton. His
dress was slightly improved, and he wore boots; but there was no
mistaking him.
The stranger recognised his friends immediately; and, darting
forward and seizing Mr. Pickwick by the hand, dragged him to a
seat with his usual impetuosity, talking all the while as if the
whole of the arrangements were under his especial patronage
and direction.
'This way--this way--capital fun--lots of beer--hogsheads;
rounds of beef--bullocks; mustard--cart-loads; glorious day--
down with you--make yourself at home--glad to see you--
Mr. Pickwick sat down as he was bid, and Mr. Winkle and
Mr. Snodgrass also complied with the directions of their
mysterious friend. Mr. Wardle looked on in silent wonder.
'Mr. Wardle--a friend of mine,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Friend of yours!--My dear sir, how are you?--Friend of my
friend's--give me your hand, sir'--and the stranger grasped
Mr. Wardle's hand with all the fervour of a close intimacy of
many years, and then stepped back a pace or two as if to take a
full survey of his face and figure, and then shook hands with him
again, if possible, more warmly than before.
'Well; and how came you here?' said Mr. Pickwick, with a
smile in which benevolence struggled with surprise.
'Come,' replied the stranger--'stopping at Crown--Crown at
Muggleton--met a party--flannel jackets--white trousers--
anchovy sandwiches--devilled kidney--splendid fellows--glorious.'
Mr. Pickwick was sufficiently versed in the stranger's system of
stenography to infer from this rapid and disjointed communication
that he had, somehow or other, contracted an acquaintance
with the All-Muggletons, which he had converted, by a process
peculiar to himself, into that extent of good-fellowship on which
a general invitation may be easily founded. His curiosity was
therefore satisfied, and putting on his spectacles he prepared
himself to watch the play which was just commencing.
All-Muggleton had the first innings; and the interest became
intense when Mr. Dumkins and Mr. Podder, two of the most
renowned members of that most distinguished club, walked, bat
in hand, to their respective wickets. Mr. Luffey, the highest
ornament of Dingley Dell, was pitched to bowl against the
redoubtable Dumkins, and Mr. Struggles was selected to do the
same kind office for the hitherto unconquered Podder. Several
players were stationed, to 'look out,' in different parts of the
field, and each fixed himself into the proper attitude by placing
one hand on each knee, and stooping very much as if he were
'making a back' for some beginner at leap-frog. All the regular
players do this sort of thing;--indeed it is generally supposed that
it is quite impossible to look out properly in any other position.
The umpires were stationed behind the wickets; the scorers
were prepared to notch the runs; a breathless silence ensued.
Mr. Luffey retired a few paces behind the wicket of the passive
Podder, and applied the ball to his right eye for several seconds.
Dumkins confidently awaited its coming with his eyes fixed on the
motions of Luffey.
'Play!' suddenly cried the bowler. The ball flew from his hand
straight and swift towards the centre stump of the wicket. The
wary Dumkins was on the alert: it fell upon the tip of the bat, and
bounded far away over the heads of the scouts, who had just
stooped low enough to let it fly over them.
'Run--run--another.--Now, then throw her up--up with her--stop
there--another--no--yes--no--throw her up, throw her
up!'--Such were the shouts which followed the stroke; and at the
conclusion of which All-Muggleton had scored two. Nor was
Podder behindhand in earning laurels wherewith to garnish
himself and Muggleton. He blocked the doubtful balls, missed the
bad ones, took the good ones, and sent them flying to all parts of
the field. The scouts were hot and tired; the bowlers were
changed and bowled till their arms ached; but Dumkins and
Podder remained unconquered. Did an elderly gentleman essay
to stop the progress of the ball, it rolled between his legs or
slipped between his fingers. Did a slim gentleman try to catch it,
it struck him on the nose, and bounded pleasantly off with
redoubled violence, while the slim gentleman's eyes filled with
water, and his form writhed with anguish. Was it thrown straight
up to the wicket, Dumkins had reached it before the ball. In
short, when Dumkins was caught out, and Podder stumped out,
All-Muggleton had notched some fifty-four, while the score of
the Dingley Dellers was as blank as their faces. The advantage
was too great to be recovered. In vain did the eager Luffey, and
the enthusiastic Struggles, do all that skill and experience could
suggest, to regain the ground Dingley Dell had lost in the contest
--it was of no avail; and in an early period of the winning game
Dingley Dell gave in, and allowed the superior prowess of All-Muggleton.
The stranger, meanwhile, had been eating, drinking, and
talking, without cessation. At every good stroke he expressed his
satisfaction and approval of the player in a most condescending
and patronising manner, which could not fail to have been
highly gratifying to the party concerned; while at every bad
attempt at a catch, and every failure to stop the ball, he launched
his personal displeasure at the head of the devoted individual in
such denunciations as--'Ah, ah!--stupid'--'Now, butterfingers'--'
Muff'--'Humbug'--and so forth--ejaculations which
seemed to establish him in the opinion of all around, as a most
excellent and undeniable judge of the whole art and mystery of
the noble game of cricket.
'Capital game--well played--some strokes admirable,' said the
stranger, as both sides crowded into the tent, at the conclusion of
the game.
'You have played it, sir?' inquired Mr. Wardle, who had been
much amused by his loquacity.
'Played it! Think I have--thousands of times--not here--West
Indies--exciting thing--hot work--very.'
'It must be rather a warm pursuit in such a climate,' observed
Mr. Pickwick.
'Warm!--red hot--scorching--glowing. Played a match once--single wicket--friend the
colonel--Sir Thomas Blazo--who
should get the greatest number of runs.--Won the toss--first
innings--seven o'clock A.m.--six natives to look out--went in;
kept in--heat intense--natives all fainted--taken away--fresh
half-dozen ordered--fainted also--Blazo bowling--supported by
two natives--couldn't bowl me out--fainted too--cleared away
the colonel--wouldn't give in--faithful attendant--Quanko
Samba--last man left--sun so hot, bat in blisters, ball scorched
brown--five hundred and seventy runs--rather exhausted--
Quanko mustered up last remaining strength--bowled me out--
had a bath, and went out to dinner.'
'And what became of what's-his-name, Sir?' inquired an
old gentleman.
'No--the other gentleman.'
'Quanko Samba?'
'Yes, sir.'
'Poor Quanko--never recovered it--bowled on, on my account
--bowled off, on his own--died, sir.' Here the stranger buried his
countenance in a brown jug, but whether to hide his emotion or
imbibe its contents, we cannot distinctly affirm. We only know
that he paused suddenly, drew a long and deep breath, and
looked anxiously on, as two of the principal members of the
Dingley Dell club approached Mr. Pickwick, and said--
'We are about to partake of a plain dinner at the Blue Lion,
Sir; we hope you and your friends will join us.'
'Of course,' said Mr. Wardle, 'among our friends we include
Mr.--;' and he looked towards the stranger.
'Jingle,' said that versatile gentleman, taking the hint at once.
'Jingle--Alfred Jingle, Esq., of No Hall, Nowhere.'
'I shall be very happy, I am sure,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'So shall I,' said Mr. Alfred Jingle, drawing one arm through
Mr. Pickwick's, and another through Mr. Wardle's, as he
whispered confidentially in the ear of the former gentleman:--
'Devilish good dinner--cold, but capital--peeped into the
room this morning--fowls and pies, and all that sort of thing--
pleasant fellows these--well behaved, too--very.'
There being no further preliminaries to arrange, the company
straggled into the town in little knots of twos and threes; and
within a quarter of an hour were all seated in the great room of
the Blue Lion Inn, Muggleton--Mr. Dumkins acting as chairman,
and Mr. Luffey officiating as vice.
There was a vast deal of talking and rattling of knives and
forks, and plates; a great running about of three ponderousheaded
waiters, and a rapid disappearance of the substantial
viands on the table; to each and every of which item of confusion,
the facetious Mr. Jingle lent the aid of half-a-dozen ordinary men
at least. When everybody had eaten as much as possible, the cloth
was removed, bottles, glasses, and dessert were placed on the
table; and the waiters withdrew to 'clear away,'or in other words,
to appropriate to their own private use and emolument whatever
remnants of the eatables and drinkables they could contrive to
lay their hands on.
Amidst the general hum of mirth and conversation that ensued,
there was a little man with a puffy Say-nothing-to-me,-or-I'llcontradict-
you sort of countenance, who remained very quiet;
occasionally looking round him when the conversation slackened,
as if he contemplated putting in something very weighty; and
now and then bursting into a short cough of inexpressible
grandeur. At length, during a moment of comparative silence, the
little man called out in a very loud, solemn voice,--
'Mr. Luffey!'
Everybody was hushed into a profound stillness as the individual
addressed, replied--
'I wish to address a few words to you, Sir, if you will entreat the
gentlemen to fill their glasses.'
Mr. Jingle uttered a patronising 'Hear, hear,' which was
responded to by the remainder of the company; and the glasses
having been filled, the vice-president assumed an air of wisdom
in a state of profound attention; and said--
'Mr. Staple.'
'Sir,' said the little man, rising, 'I wish to address what I have
to say to you and not to our worthy chairman, because our
worthy chairman is in some measure--I may say in a great degree
--the subject of what I have to say, or I may say to--to--'
'State,' suggested Mr. Jingle.
'Yes, to state,' said the little man, 'I thank my honourable
friend, if he will allow me to call him so (four hears and one
certainly from Mr. Jingle), for the suggestion. Sir, I am a Deller
--a Dingley Deller (cheers). I cannot lay claim to the honour of
forming an item in the population of Muggleton; nor, Sir, I will
frankly admit, do I covet that honour: and I will tell you why, Sir
(hear); to Muggleton I will readily concede all these honours and
distinctions to which it can fairly lay claim--they are too numerous
and too well known to require aid or recapitulation from me.
But, sir, while we remember that Muggleton has given birth to a
Dumkins and a Podder, let us never forget that Dingley Dell can
boast a Luffey and a Struggles. (Vociferous cheering.) Let me not
be considered as wishing to detract from the merits of the former
gentlemen. Sir, I envy them the luxury of their own feelings on
this occasion. (Cheers.) Every gentleman who hears me, is
probably acquainted with the reply made by an individual, who
--to use an ordinary figure of speech--"hung out" in a tub, to
the emperor Alexander:--"if I were not Diogenes," said he, "I
would be Alexander." I can well imagine these gentlemen to say,
"If I were not Dumkins I would be Luffey; if I were not Podder
I would be Struggles." (Enthusiasm.) But, gentlemen of Muggleton,
is it in cricket alone that your fellow-townsmen stand pre-eminent?
Have you never heard of Dumkins and determination?
Have you never been taught to associate Podder with property?
(Great applause.) Have you never, when struggling for your
rights, your liberties, and your privileges, been reduced, if only
for an instant, to misgiving and despair? And when you have
been thus depressed, has not the name of Dumkins laid afresh
within your breast the fire which had just gone out; and has not a
word from that man lighted it again as brightly as if it had never
expired? (Great cheering.) Gentlemen, I beg to surround with a
rich halo of enthusiastic cheering the united names of "Dumkins
and Podder."'
Here the little man ceased, and here the company commenced
a raising of voices, and thumping of tables, which lasted with
little intermission during the remainder of the evening. Other
toasts were drunk. Mr. Luffey and Mr. Struggles, Mr. Pickwick
and Mr. Jingle, were, each in his turn, the subject of unqualified
eulogium; and each in due course returned thanks for the honour.
Enthusiastic as we are in the noble cause to which we have
devoted ourselves, we should have felt a sensation of pride which
we cannot express, and a consciousness of having done something
to merit immortality of which we are now deprived, could we
have laid the faintest outline on these addresses before our ardent
readers. Mr. Snodgrass, as usual, took a great mass of notes,
which would no doubt have afforded most useful and valuable
information, had not the burning eloquence of the words or the
feverish influence of the wine made that gentleman's hand so
extremely unsteady, as to render his writing nearly unintelligible,
and his style wholly so. By dint of patient investigation, we have
been enabled to trace some characters bearing a faint resemblance
to the names of the speakers; and we can only discern an entry of
a song (supposed to have been sung by Mr. Jingle), in which the
words 'bowl' 'sparkling' 'ruby' 'bright' and 'wine' are frequently
repeated at short intervals. We fancy, too, that we can discern at
the very end of the notes, some indistinct reference to 'broiled
bones'; and then the words 'cold' 'without' occur: but as any
hypothesis we could found upon them must necessarily rest upon
mere conjecture, we are not disposed to indulge in any of the
speculations to which they may give rise.
We will therefore return to Mr. Tupman; merely adding that
within some few minutes before twelve o'clock that night, the
convocation of worthies of Dingley Dell and Muggleton were
heard to sing, with great feeling and emphasis, the beautiful and
pathetic national air of
'We won't go home till morning,
We won't go home till morning,
We won't go home till morning,
Till daylight doth appear.'
The quiet seclusion of Dingley Dell, the presence of so many
of the gentler sex, and the solicitude and anxiety they evinced
in his behalf, were all favourable to the growth and development
of those softer feelings which nature had implanted deep in the
bosom of Mr. Tracy Tupman, and which now appeared destined to
centre in one lovely object. The young ladies were pretty,
their manners winning, their dispositions unexceptionable; but
there was a dignity in the air, a touch-me-not-ishness in the
walk, a majesty in the eye, of the spinster aunt, to which, at their
time of life, they could lay no claim, which distinguished her
from any female on whom Mr. Tupman had ever gazed. That there
was something kindred in their nature, something congenial in
their souls, something mysteriously sympathetic in their bosoms,
was evident. Her name was the first that rose to Mr. Tupman's
lips as he lay wounded on the grass; and her hysteric laughter
was the first sound that fell upon his ear when he was supported
to the house. But had her agitation arisen from an amiable and
feminine sensibility which would have been equally irrepressible
in any case; or had it been called forth by a more ardent and
passionate feeling, which he, of all men living, could alone
awaken? These were the doubts which racked his brain as he lay
extended on the sofa; these were the doubts which he determined
should be at once and for ever resolved.
it was evening. Isabella and Emily had strolled out with
Mr. Trundle; the deaf old lady had fallen asleep in her chair; the
snoring of the fat boy, penetrated in a low and monotonous
sound from the distant kitchen; the buxom servants were
lounging at the side door, enjoying the pleasantness of the hour,
and the delights of a flirtation, on first principles, with certain
unwieldy animals attached to the farm; and there sat the interesting
pair, uncared for by all, caring for none, and dreaming only
of themselves; there they sat, in short, like a pair of carefullyfolded
kid gloves--bound up in each other.
'I have forgotten my flowers,' said the spinster aunt.
'Water them now,' said Mr. Tupman, in accents of persuasion.
'You will take cold in the evening air,' urged the spinster aunt
'No, no,' said Mr. Tupman, rising; 'it will do me good. Let me
accompany you.'
The lady paused to adjust the sling in which the left arm of the
youth was placed, and taking his right arm led him to the garden.
There was a bower at the farther end, with honeysuckle,
jessamine, and creeping plants--one of those sweet retreats
which humane men erect for the accommodation of spiders.
The spinster aunt took up a large watering-pot which lay in
one corner, and was about to leave the arbour. Mr. Tupman
detained her, and drew her to a seat beside him.
'Miss Wardle!' said he.
The spinster aunt trembled, till some pebbles which had
accidentally found their way into the large watering-pot shook
like an infant's rattle.
'Miss Wardle,' said Mr. Tupman, 'you are an angel.'
'Mr. Tupman!' exclaimed Rachael, blushing as red as the
watering-pot itself.
'Nay,' said the eloquent Pickwickian--'I know it but too well.'
'All women are angels, they say,' murmured the lady playfully.
'Then what can you be; or to what, without presumption, can
I compare you?' replied Mr. Tupman. 'Where was the woman
ever seen who resembled you? Where else could I hope to find so
rare a combination of excellence and beauty? Where else could
I seek to-- Oh!' Here Mr. Tupman paused, and pressed the
hand which clasped the handle of the happy watering-pot.
The lady turned aside her head. 'Men are such deceivers,' she
softly whispered.
'They are, they are,' ejaculated Mr. Tupman; 'but not all men.
There lives at least one being who can never change--one being
who would be content to devote his whole existence to your
happiness--who lives but in your eyes--who breathes but in your
smiles--who bears the heavy burden of life itself only for you.'
'Could such an individual be found--' said the lady.
'But he CAN be found,' said the ardent Mr. Tupman, interposing.
'He IS found. He is here, Miss Wardle.' And ere the lady
was aware of his intention, Mr. Tupman had sunk upon his knees
at her feet.
'Mr. Tupman, rise,' said Rachael.
'Never!' was the valorous reply. 'Oh, Rachael!' He seized her
passive hand, and the watering-pot fell to the ground as he
pressed it to his lips.--'Oh, Rachael! say you love me.'
'Mr. Tupman,' said the spinster aunt, with averted head, 'I
can hardly speak the words; but--but--you are not wholly
indifferent to me.'
Mr. Tupman no sooner heard this avowal, than he proceeded
to do what his enthusiastic emotions prompted, and what, for
aught we know (for we are but little acquainted with such
matters), people so circumstanced always do. He jumped up, and,
throwing his arm round the neck of the spinster aunt, imprinted
upon her lips numerous kisses, which after a due show of
struggling and resistance, she received so passively, that there is
no telling how many more Mr. Tupman might have bestowed, if
the lady had not given a very unaffected start, and exclaimed in
an affrighted tone--
'Mr. Tupman, we are observed!--we are discovered!'
Mr. Tupman looked round. There was the fat boy, perfectly
motionless, with his large circular eyes staring into the arbour, but
without the slightest expression on his face that the most expert
physiognomist could have referred to astonishment, curiosity, or
any other known passion that agitates the human breast. Mr.
Tupman gazed on the fat boy, and the fat boy stared at him; and
the longer Mr. Tupman observed the utter vacancy of the fat
boy's countenance, the more convinced he became that he either
did not know, or did not understand, anything that had been
going forward. Under this impression, he said with great firmness--
'What do you want here, Sir?'
'Supper's ready, sir,' was the prompt reply.
'Have you just come here, sir?' inquired Mr. Tupman, with a
piercing look.
'Just,' replied the fat boy.
Mr. Tupman looked at him very hard again; but there was not
a wink in his eye, or a curve in his face.
Mr. Tupman took the arm of the spinster aunt, and walked
towards the house; the fat boy followed behind.
'He knows nothing of what has happened,'he whispered.
'Nothing,' said the spinster aunt.
There was a sound behind them, as of an imperfectly suppressed
chuckle. Mr. Tupman turned sharply round. No; it could not
have been the fat boy; there was not a gleam of mirth, or anything
but feeding in his whole visage.
'He must have been fast asleep,' whispered Mr. Tupman.
'I have not the least doubt of it,' replied the spinster aunt.
They both laughed heartily.
Mr, Tupman was wrong. The fat boy, for once, had not been
fast asleep. He was awake--wide awake--to what had been going forward.
The supper passed off without any attempt at a general
conversation. The old lady had gone to bed; Isabella Wardle
devoted herself exclusively to Mr. Trundle; the spinster's attentions
were reserved for Mr. Tupman; and Emily's thoughts
appeared to be engrossed by some distant object--possibly they
were with the absent Snodgrass.
Eleven--twelve--one o'clock had struck, and the gentlemen
had not arrived. Consternation sat on every face. Could they
have been waylaid and robbed? Should they send men and
lanterns in every direction by which they could be supposed
likely to have travelled home? or should they-- Hark! there
they were. What could have made them so late? A strange voice,
too! To whom could it belong? They rushed into the kitchen,
whither the truants had repaired, and at once obtained rather
more than a glimmering of the real state of the case.
Mr. Pickwick, with his hands in his pockets and his hat
cocked completely over his left eye, was leaning against the
dresser, shaking his head from side to side, and producing a
constant succession of the blandest and most benevolent smiles
without being moved thereunto by any discernible cause or
pretence whatsoever; old Mr. Wardle, with a highly-inflamed
countenance, was grasping the hand of a strange gentleman
muttering protestations of eternal friendship; Mr. Winkle,
supporting himself by the eight-day clock, was feebly invoking
destruction upon the head of any member of the family who
should suggest the propriety of his retiring for the night; and
Mr. Snodgrass had sunk into a chair, with an expression of the
most abject and hopeless misery that the human mind can
imagine, portrayed in every lineament of his expressive face.
'is anything the matter?' inquired the three ladies.
'Nothing the matter,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'We--we're--all
right.--I say, Wardle, we're all right, ain't we?'
'I should think so,' replied the jolly host.--'My dears, here's my
friend Mr. Jingle--Mr. Pickwick's friend, Mr. Jingle, come 'pon
--little visit.'
'Is anything the matter with Mr. Snodgrass, Sir?' inquired
Emily, with great anxiety.
'Nothing the matter, ma'am,' replied the stranger. 'Cricket
dinner--glorious party--capital songs--old port--claret--good
--very good--wine, ma'am--wine.'
'It wasn't the wine,' murmured Mr. Snodgrass, in a broken
voice. 'It was the salmon.' (Somehow or other, it never is the
wine, in these cases.)
'Hadn't they better go to bed, ma'am?' inquired Emma. 'Two
of the boys will carry the gentlemen upstairs.'
'I won't go to bed,' said Mr. Winkle firmly.
'No living boy shall carry me,' said Mr. Pickwick stoutly; and
he went on smiling as before.
'Hurrah!' gasped Mr. Winkle faintly.
'Hurrah!' echoed Mr. Pickwick, taking off his hat and dashing
it on the floor, and insanely casting his spectacles into the middle
of the kitchen. At this humorous feat he laughed outright.
'Let's--have--'nother--bottle,'cried Mr. Winkle, commencing
in a very loud key, and ending in a very faint one. His head
dropped upon his breast; and, muttering his invincible determination
not to go to his bed, and a sanguinary regret that he had
not 'done for old Tupman' in the morning, he fell fast asleep; in
which condition he was borne to his apartment by two young
giants under the personal superintendence of the fat boy, to
whose protecting care Mr. Snodgrass shortly afterwards confided
his own person, Mr. Pickwick accepted the proffered arm of
Mr. Tupman and quietly disappeared, smiling more than ever;
and Mr. Wardle, after taking as affectionate a leave of the whole
family as if he were ordered for immediate execution, consigned
to Mr. Trundle the honour of conveying him upstairs, and
retired, with a very futile attempt to look impressively solemn
and dignified.
'What a shocking scene!' said the spinster aunt.
'Dis-gusting!' ejaculated both the young ladies.
'Dreadful--dreadful!' said Jingle, looking very grave: he was
about a bottle and a half ahead of any of his companions.
'Horrid spectacle--very!'
'What a nice man!' whispered the spinster aunt to Mr. Tupman.
'Good-looking, too!' whispered Emily Wardle.
'Oh, decidedly,' observed the spinster aunt.
Mr. Tupman thought of the widow at Rochester, and his mind
was troubled. The succeeding half-hour's conversation was not
of a nature to calm his perturbed spirit. The new visitor was very
talkative, and the number of his anecdotes was only to be
exceeded by the extent of his politeness. Mr. Tupman felt that as
Jingle's popularity increased, he (Tupman) retired further into the
shade. His laughter was forced--his merriment feigned; and
when at last he laid his aching temples between the sheets, he
thought, with horrid delight, on the satisfaction it would afford
him to have Jingle's head at that moment between the feather bed
and the mattress.
The indefatigable stranger rose betimes next morning, and,
although his companions remained in bed overpowered with the
dissipation of the previous night, exerted himself most successfully
to promote the hilarity of the breakfast-table. So successful
were his efforts, that even the deaf old lady insisted on having one
or two of his best jokes retailed through the trumpet; and even
she condescended to observe to the spinster aunt, that 'He'
(meaning Jingle) 'was an impudent young fellow:' a sentiment in
which all her relations then and there present thoroughly
It was the old lady's habit on the fine summer mornings to
repair to the arbour in which Mr. Tupman had already signalised
himself, in form and manner following: first, the fat boy fetched
from a peg behind the old lady's bedroom door, a close black
satin bonnet, a warm cotton shawl, and a thick stick with a
capacious handle; and the old lady, having put on the bonnet and
shawl at her leisure, would lean one hand on the stick and the
other on the fat boy's shoulder, and walk leisurely to the arbour,
where the fat boy would leave her to enjoy the fresh air for the
space of half an hour; at the expiration of which time he would
return and reconduct her to the house.
The old lady was very precise and very particular; and as this
ceremony had been observed for three successive summers
without the slightest deviation from the accustomed form,
she was not a little surprised on this particular morning to see
the fat boy, instead of leaving the arbour, walk a few paces out
of it, look carefully round him in every direction, and return
towards her with great stealth and an air of the most profound mystery.
The old lady was timorous--most old ladies are--and her first
impression was that the bloated lad was about to do her some
grievous bodily harm with the view of possessing himself of her
loose coin. She would have cried for assistance, but age and
infirmity had long ago deprived her of the power of screaming;
she, therefore, watched his motions with feelings of intense horror
which were in no degree diminished by his coming close up to her,
and shouting in her ear in an agitated, and as it seemed to her, a
threatening tone--
Now it so happened that Mr. Jingle was walking in the garden
close to the arbour at that moment. He too heard the shouts of
'Missus,' and stopped to hear more. There were three reasons for
his doing so. In the first place, he was idle and curious; secondly,
he was by no means scrupulous; thirdly, and lastly, he was
concealed from view by some flowering shrubs. So there he
stood, and there he listened.
'Missus!' shouted the fat boy.
'Well, Joe,' said the trembling old lady. 'I'm sure I have been
a good mistress to you, Joe. You have invariably been treated
very kindly. You have never had too much to do; and you have
always had enough to eat.'
This last was an appeal to the fat boy's most sensitive feelings.
He seemed touched, as he replied emphatically--
'I knows I has.'
'Then what can you want to do now?' said the old lady,
gaining courage.
'I wants to make your flesh creep,' replied the boy.
This sounded like a very bloodthirsty mode of showing one's
gratitude; and as the old lady did not precisely understand the
process by which such a result was to be attained, all her former
horrors returned.
'What do you think I see in this very arbour last night?'
inquired the boy.
'Bless us! What?' exclaimed the old lady, alarmed at the
solemn manner of the corpulent youth.
'The strange gentleman--him as had his arm hurt--a-kissin'
and huggin'--'
'Who, Joe? None of the servants, I hope.'
'Worser than that,' roared the fat boy, in the old lady's ear.
'Not one of my grandda'aters?'
'Worser than that.'
'Worse than that, Joe!' said the old lady, who had thought this
the extreme limit of human atrocity. 'Who was it, Joe? I insist
upon knowing.'
The fat boy looked cautiously round, and having concluded
his survey, shouted in the old lady's ear--
'Miss Rachael.'
'What!' said the old lady, in a shrill tone. 'Speak louder.'
'Miss Rachael,' roared the fat boy.
'My da'ater!'
The train of nods which the fat boy gave by way of assent,
communicated a blanc-mange like motion to his fat cheeks.
'And she suffered him!' exclaimed the old lady.
A grin stole over the fat boy's features as he said--
'I see her a-kissin' of him agin.'
If Mr. Jingle, from his place of concealment, could have
beheld the expression which the old lady's face assumed at this
communication, the probability is that a sudden burst of
laughter would have betrayed his close vicinity to the summerhouse.
He listened attentively. Fragments of angry sentences such
as, 'Without my permission!'--'At her time of life'--'Miserable
old 'ooman like me'--'Might have waited till I was dead,' and so
forth, reached his ears; and then he heard the heels of the fat
boy's boots crunching the gravel, as he retired and left the old
lady alone.
It was a remarkable coincidence perhaps, but it was nevertheless
a fact, that Mr. Jingle within five minutes of his arrival at Manor
Farm on the preceding night, had inwardly resolved to lay siege
to the heart of the spinster aunt, without delay. He had observation
enough to see, that his off-hand manner was by no means
disagreeable to the fair object of his attack; and he had more
than a strong suspicion that she possessed that most desirable of
all requisites, a small independence. The imperative necessity of
ousting his rival by some means or other, flashed quickly upon
him, and he immediately resolved to adopt certain proceedings
tending to that end and object, without a moment's delay.
Fielding tells us that man is fire, and woman tow, and the Prince
of Darkness sets a light to 'em. Mr. Jingle knew that young men,
to spinster aunts, are as lighted gas to gunpowder, and he
determined to essay the effect of an explosion without loss of time.
Full of reflections upon this important decision, he crept from
his place of concealment, and, under cover of the shrubs before
mentioned, approached the house. Fortune seemed determined to
favour his design. Mr. Tupman and the rest of the gentlemen left
the garden by the side gate just as he obtained a view of it; and
the young ladies, he knew, had walked out alone, soon after
breakfast. The coast was clear.
The breakfast-parlour door was partially open. He peeped in.
The spinster aunt was knitting. He coughed; she looked up and
smiled. Hesitation formed no part of Mr. Alfred Jingle's
character. He laid his finger on his lips mysteriously, walked in,
and closed the door.
'Miss Wardle,' said Mr. Jingle, with affected earnestness,
'forgive intrusion--short acquaintance--no time for ceremony--
all discovered.'
'Sir!' said the spinster aunt, rather astonished by the unexpected
apparition and somewhat doubtful of Mr. Jingle's sanity.
'Hush!' said Mr. Jingle, in a stage-whisper--'Large boy--
dumpling face--round eyes--rascal!' Here he shook his head
expressively, and the spinster aunt trembled with agitation.
'I presume you allude to Joseph, Sir?' said the lady, making an
effort to appear composed.
'Yes, ma'am--damn that Joe!--treacherous dog, Joe--told the
old lady--old lady furious--wild--raving--arbour--Tupman--
kissing and hugging--all that sort of thing--eh, ma'am--eh?'
'Mr. Jingle,' said the spinster aunt, 'if you come here, Sir, to
insult me--'
'Not at all--by no means,' replied the unabashed Mr. Jingle--
'overheard the tale--came to warn you of your danger--tender
my services--prevent the hubbub. Never mind--think it an
insult--leave the room'--and he turned, as if to carry the threat
into execution.
'What SHALL I do!' said the poor spinster, bursting into tears.
'My brother will be furious.'
'Of course he will,' said Mr. Jingle pausing--'outrageous.'
'Oh, Mr. Jingle, what CAN I say!' exclaimed the spinster aunt, in
another flood of despair.
'Say he dreamt it,' replied Mr. Jingle coolly.
A ray of comfort darted across the mind of the spinster aunt at
this suggestion. Mr. Jingle perceived it, and followed up his advantage.
'Pooh, pooh!--nothing more easy--blackguard boy--lovely
woman--fat boy horsewhipped--you believed--end of the
matter--all comfortable.'
Whether the probability of escaping from the consequences of
this ill-timed discovery was delightful to the spinster's feelings, or
whether the hearing herself described as a 'lovely woman'
softened the asperity of her grief, we know not. She blushed
slightly, and cast a grateful look on Mr. Jingle.
That insinuating gentleman sighed deeply, fixed his eyes on the
spinster aunt's face for a couple of minutes, started melodramatically,
and suddenly withdrew them.
'You seem unhappy, Mr. Jingle,' said the lady, in a plaintive
voice. 'May I show my gratitude for your kind interference,
by inquiring into the cause, with a view, if possible, to its removal?'
'Ha!' exclaimed Mr. Jingle, with another start--'removal!
remove my unhappiness, and your love bestowed upon a man
who is insensible to the blessing--who even now contemplates a
design upon the affections of the niece of the creature who--but
no; he is my friend; I will not expose his vices. Miss Wardle--
farewell!' At the conclusion of this address, the most consecutive
he was ever known to utter, Mr. Jingle applied to his eyes the
remnant of a handkerchief before noticed, and turned towards
the door.
'Stay, Mr. Jingle!' said the spinster aunt emphatically. 'You
have made an allusion to Mr. Tupman--explain it.'
'Never!' exclaimed Jingle, with a professional (i.e., theatrical)
air. 'Never!' and, by way of showing that he had no desire to be
questioned further, he drew a chair close to that of the spinster
aunt and sat down.
'Mr. Jingle,' said the aunt, 'I entreat--I implore you, if there
is any dreadful mystery connected with Mr. Tupman, reveal it.'
'Can I,' said Mr. Jingle, fixing his eyes on the aunt's face--
'can I see--lovely creature--sacrificed at the shrine--
heartless avarice!' He appeared to be struggling with various
conflicting emotions for a few seconds, and then said in a low voice--
'Tupman only wants your money.'
'The wretch!' exclaimed the spinster, with energetic indignation.
(Mr. Jingle's doubts were resolved. She HAD money.)
'More than that,' said Jingle--'loves another.'
'Another!' ejaculated the spinster. 'Who?'
'Short girl--black eyes--niece Emily.'
There was a pause.
Now, if there was one individual in the whole world, of whom
the spinster aunt entertained a mortal and deep-rooted jealousy,
it was this identical niece. The colour rushed over her face and
neck, and she tossed her head in silence with an air of ineffable
contempt. At last, biting her thin lips, and bridling up, she said--
'It can't be. I won't believe it.'
'Watch 'em,' said Jingle.
'I will,' said the aunt.
'Watch his looks.'
'I will.'
'His whispers.'
'I will.'
'He'll sit next her at table.'
'Let him.'
'He'll flatter her.'
'Let him.'
'He'll pay her every possible attention.'
'Let him.'
'And he'll cut you.'
'Cut ME!' screamed the spinster aunt. 'HE cut ME; will he!' and
she trembled with rage and disappointment.
'You will convince yourself?' said Jingle.
'I will.'
'You'll show your spirit?'
'I will.'
'You'll not have him afterwards?'
'You'll take somebody else?'
'You shall.'
Mr. Jingle fell on his knees, remained thereupon for five
minutes thereafter; and rose the accepted lover of the spinster
aunt--conditionally upon Mr. Tupman's perjury being made
clear and manifest.
The burden of proof lay with Mr. Alfred Jingle; and he
produced his evidence that very day at dinner. The spinster aunt
could hardly believe her eyes. Mr. Tracy Tupman was established
at Emily's side, ogling, whispering, and smiling, in opposition to
Mr. Snodgrass. Not a word, not a look, not a glance, did he
bestow upon his heart's pride of the evening before.
'Damn that boy!' thought old Mr. Wardle to himself.--He had
heard the story from his mother. 'Damn that boy! He must have
been asleep. It's all imagination.'
'Traitor!' thought the spinster aunt. 'Dear Mr. Jingle was not
deceiving me. Ugh! how I hate the wretch!'
The following conversation may serve to explain to our readers
this apparently unaccountable alteration of deportment on the
part of Mr. Tracy Tupman.
The time was evening; the scene the garden. There were two
figures walking in a side path; one was rather short and stout;
the other tall and slim. They were Mr. Tupman and Mr. Jingle.
The stout figure commenced the dialogue.
'How did I do it?' he inquired.
'Splendid--capital--couldn't act better myself--you must
repeat the part to-morrow--every evening till further notice.'
'Does Rachael still wish it?'
'Of course--she don't like it--but must be done--avert
suspicion--afraid of her brother--says there's no help for it--
only a few days more--when old folks blinded--crown your happiness.'
'Any message?'
'Love--best love--kindest regards--unalterable affection.
Can I say anything for you?'
'My dear fellow,' replied the unsuspicious Mr. Tupman,
fervently grasping his 'friend's' hand--'carry my best love--say
how hard I find it to dissemble--say anything that's kind: but add
how sensible I am of the necessity of the suggestion she made to
me, through you, this morning. Say I applaud her wisdom and
admire her discretion.'
'I will. Anything more?'
'Nothing, only add how ardently I long for the time when I
may call her mine, and all dissimulation may be unnecessary.'
'Certainly, certainly. Anything more?'
'Oh, my friend!' said poor Mr. Tupman, again grasping the
hand of his companion, 'receive my warmest thanks for your
disinterested kindness; and forgive me if I have ever, even in
thought, done you the injustice of supposing that you could stand
in my way. My dear friend, can I ever repay you?'
'Don't talk of it,' replied Mr. Jingle. He stopped short, as if
suddenly recollecting something, and said--'By the bye--can't
spare ten pounds, can you?--very particular purpose--pay you
in three days.'
'I dare say I can,' replied Mr. Tupman, in the fulness of his
heart. 'Three days, you say?'
'Only three days--all over then--no more difficulties.'
Mr. Tupman counted the money into his companion's hand,
and he dropped it piece by piece into his pocket, as they walked
towards the house.
'Be careful,' said Mr. Jingle--'not a look.'
'Not a wink,' said Mr. Tupman.
'Not a syllable.'
'Not a whisper.'
'All your attentions to the niece--rather rude, than otherwise,
to the aunt--only way of deceiving the old ones.'
'I'll take care,' said Mr. Tupman aloud.
'And I'LL take care,' said Mr. Jingle internally; and they
entered the house.
The scene of that afternoon was repeated that evening, and on
the three afternoons and evenings next ensuing. On the fourth,
the host was in high spirits, for he had satisfied himself that there
was no ground for the charge against Mr. Tupman. So was Mr.
Tupman, for Mr. Jingle had told him that his affair would soon
be brought to a crisis. So was Mr. Pickwick, for he was seldom
otherwise. So was not Mr. Snodgrass, for he had grown jealous
of Mr. Tupman. So was the old lady, for she had been winning
at whist. So were Mr. Jingle and Miss Wardle, for reasons of
sufficient importance in this eventful history to be narrated in
another chapter.
The supper was ready laid, the chairs were drawn round the
table, bottles, jugs, and glasses were arranged upon the
sideboard, and everything betokened the approach of the most
convivial period in the whole four-and-twenty hours.
'Where's Rachael?' said Mr. Wardle.
'Ay, and Jingle?' added Mr. Pickwick.
'Dear me,' said the host, 'I wonder I haven't missed him before.
Why, I don't think I've heard his voice for two hours at least.
Emily, my dear, ring the bell.'
The bell was rung, and the fat boy appeared.
'Where's Miss Rachael?' He couldn't say.
'Where's Mr. Jingle, then?' He didn't know.
Everybody looked surprised. It was late--past eleven o'clock.
Mr. Tupman laughed in his sleeve. They were loitering somewhere,
talking about him. Ha, ha! capital notion that--funny.
'Never mind,' said Wardle, after a short pause. 'They'll turn up
presently, I dare say. I never wait supper for anybody.'
'Excellent rule, that,' said Mr. Pickwick--'admirable.'
'Pray, sit down,' said the host.
'Certainly' said Mr. Pickwick; and down they sat.
There was a gigantic round of cold beef on the table, and
Mr. Pickwick was supplied with a plentiful portion of it. He had
raised his fork to his lips, and was on the very point of opening
his mouth for the reception of a piece of beef, when the hum of
many voices suddenly arose in the kitchen. He paused, and laid
down his fork. Mr. Wardle paused too, and insensibly released
his hold of the carving-knife, which remained inserted
in the beef. He looked at Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Pickwick looked
at him.
Heavy footsteps were heard in the passage; the parlour door
was suddenly burst open; and the man who had cleaned Mr.
Pickwick's boots on his first arrival, rushed into the room,
followed by the fat boy and all the domestics.
'What the devil's the meaning of this?' exclaimed the host.
'The kitchen chimney ain't a-fire, is it, Emma?' inquired the
old lady.
'Lor, grandma! No,' screamed both the young ladies.
'What's the matter?' roared the master of the house.
The man gasped for breath, and faintly ejaculated--
'They ha' gone, mas'r!--gone right clean off, Sir!' (At this
juncture Mr. Tupman was observed to lay down his knife and
fork, and to turn very pale.)
'Who's gone?' said Mr. Wardle fiercely.
'Mus'r Jingle and Miss Rachael, in a po'-chay, from Blue Lion,
Muggleton. I was there; but I couldn't stop 'em; so I run off to
tell 'ee.'
'I paid his expenses!' said Mr. Tupman, jumping up frantically.
'He's got ten pounds of mine!--stop him!--he's swindled me!--
I won't bear it!--I'll have justice, Pickwick!--I won't stand it!'
and with sundry incoherent exclamations of the like nature, the
unhappy gentleman spun round and round the apartment, in a
transport of frenzy.
'Lord preserve us!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, eyeing the
extraordinary gestures of his friend with terrified surprise. 'He's
gone mad! What shall we do?'
'Do!' said the stout old host, who regarded only the last words
of the sentence. 'Put the horse in the gig! I'll get a chaise at the
Lion, and follow 'em instantly. Where?'--he exclaimed, as the
man ran out to execute the commission--'where's that villain, Joe?'
'Here I am! but I hain't a willin,' replied a voice. It was the
fat boy's.
'Let me get at him, Pickwick,' cried Wardle, as he rushed at the
ill-starred youth. 'He was bribed by that scoundrel, Jingle, to put
me on a wrong scent, by telling a cock-and-bull story of my
sister and your friend Tupman!' (Here Mr. Tupman sank into a
chair.) 'Let me get at him!'
'Don't let him!' screamed all the women, above whose
exclamations the blubbering of the fat boy was distinctly audible.
'I won't be held!' cried the old man. 'Mr. Winkle, take your
hands off. Mr. Pickwick, let me go, sir!'
It was a beautiful sight, in that moment of turmoil and confusion,
to behold the placid and philosophical expression of
Mr. Pickwick's face, albeit somewhat flushed with exertion, as he
stood with his arms firmly clasped round the extensive waist of
their corpulent host, thus restraining the impetuosity of his
passion, while the fat boy was scratched, and pulled, and pushed
from the room by all the females congregated therein. He had no
sooner released his hold, than the man entered to announce that
the gig was ready.
'Don't let him go alone!' screamed the females. 'He'll kill
'I'll go with him,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'You're a good fellow, Pickwick,' said the host, grasping his
hand. 'Emma, give Mr. Pickwick a shawl to tie round his neck--
make haste. Look after your grandmother, girls; she has fainted
away. Now then, are you ready?'
Mr. Pickwick's mouth and chin having been hastily enveloped
in a large shawl, his hat having been put on his head, and his
greatcoat thrown over his arm, he replied in the affirmative.
They jumped into the gig. 'Give her her head, Tom,' cried the
host; and away they went, down the narrow lanes; jolting in and
out of the cart-ruts, and bumping up against the hedges on either
side, as if they would go to pieces every moment.
'How much are they ahead?' shouted Wardle, as they drove up
to the door of the Blue Lion, round which a little crowd had
collected, late as it was.
'Not above three-quarters of an hour,' was everybody's reply.
'Chaise-and-four directly!--out with 'em! Put up the gig
'Now, boys!' cried the landlord--'chaise-and-four out--make
haste--look alive there!'
Away ran the hostlers and the boys. The lanterns glimmered,
as the men ran to and fro; the horses' hoofs clattered on the
uneven paving of the yard; the chaise rumbled as it was drawn out
of the coach-house; and all was noise and bustle.
'Now then!--is that chaise coming out to-night?' cried Wardle.
'Coming down the yard now, Sir,' replied the hostler.
Out came the chaise--in went the horses--on sprang the boys
--in got the travellers.
'Mind--the seven-mile stage in less than half an hour!'
shouted Wardle.
'Off with you!'
The boys applied whip and spur, the waiters shouted, the
hostlers cheered, and away they went, fast and furiously.
'Pretty situation,' thought Mr. Pickwick, when he had had a
moment's time for reflection. 'Pretty situation for the general
chairman of the Pickwick Club. Damp chaise--strange horses--
fifteen miles an hour--and twelve o'clock at night!'
For the first three or four miles, not a word was spoken by
either of the gentlemen, each being too much immersed in his own
reflections to address any observations to his companion. When
they had gone over that much ground, however, and the horses
getting thoroughly warmed began to do their work in really
good style, Mr. Pickwick became too much exhilarated with the
rapidity of the motion, to remain any longer perfectly mute.
'We're sure to catch them, I think,' said he.
'Hope so,' replied his companion.
'Fine night,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking up at the moon, which
was shining brightly.
'So much the worse,' returned Wardle; 'for they'll have had all
the advantage of the moonlight to get the start of us, and we shall
lose it. It will have gone down in another hour.'
'It will be rather unpleasant going at this rate in the dark,
won't it?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'I dare say it will,' replied his friend dryly.
Mr. Pickwick's temporary excitement began to sober down a
little, as he reflected upon the inconveniences and dangers of
the expedition in which he had so thoughtlessly embarked.
He was roused by a loud shouting of the post-boy on the leader.
'Yo-yo-yo-yo-yoe!' went the first boy.
'Yo-yo-yo-yoe!' went the second.
'Yo-yo-yo-yoe!' chimed in old Wardle himself, most
lustily, with his head and half his body out of the coach window.
'Yo-yo-yo-yoe!' shouted Mr. Pickwick, taking up the
burden of the cry, though he had not the slightest notion of its
meaning or object. And amidst the yo-yoing of the whole four,
the chaise stopped.
'What's the matter?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'There's a gate here,' replied old Wardle. 'We shall hear something
of the fugitives.'
After a lapse of five minutes, consumed in incessant knocking
and shouting, an old man in his shirt and trousers emerged from
the turnpike-house, and opened the gate.
'How long is it since a post-chaise went through here?'
inquired Mr. Wardle.
'How long?'
'Why, I don't rightly know. It worn't a long time ago, nor it
worn't a short time ago--just between the two, perhaps.'
'Has any chaise been by at all?'
'Oh, yes, there's been a Shay by.'
'How long ago, my friend,' interposed Mr. Pickwick; 'an hour?'
'Ah, I dare say it might be,' replied the man.
'Or two hours?' inquired the post--boy on the wheeler.
'Well, I shouldn't wonder if it was,' returned the old man
'Drive on, boys,' cried the testy old gentleman; 'don't waste
any more time with that old idiot!'
'Idiot!' exclaimed the old man with a grin, as he stood in the
middle of the road with the gate half-closed, watching the chaise
which rapidly diminished in the increasing distance. 'No--not
much o' that either; you've lost ten minutes here, and gone away
as wise as you came, arter all. If every man on the line as has a
guinea give him, earns it half as well, you won't catch t'other shay
this side Mich'lmas, old short-and-fat.' And with another
prolonged grin, the old man closed the gate, re-entered his house,
and bolted the door after him.
Meanwhile the chaise proceeded, without any slackening of
pace, towards the conclusion of the stage. The moon, as Wardle
had foretold, was rapidly on the wane; large tiers of dark, heavy
clouds, which had been gradually overspreading the sky for some
time past, now formed one black mass overhead; and large drops
of rain which pattered every now and then against the windows
of the chaise, seemed to warn the travellers of the rapid approach
of a stormy night. The wind, too, which was directly against them,
swept in furious gusts down the narrow road, and howled
dismally through the trees which skirted the pathway. Mr. Pickwick
drew his coat closer about him, coiled himself more snugly
up into the corner of the chaise, and fell into a sound sleep, from
which he was only awakened by the stopping of the vehicle,
the sound of the hostler's bell, and a loud cry of 'Horses on
But here another delay occurred. The boys were sleeping with
such mysterious soundness, that it took five minutes a-piece to
wake them. The hostler had somehow or other mislaid the key of
the stable, and even when that was found, two sleepy helpers put
the wrong harness on the wrong horses, and the whole process of
harnessing had to be gone through afresh. Had Mr. Pickwick been
alone, these multiplied obstacles would have completely put an end to
the pursuit at once, but old Wardle was not to be so easily daunted;
and he laid about him with such hearty good-will, cuffing this man,
and pushing that; strapping a buckle here, and taking in a link
there, that the chaise was ready in a much shorter time than could
reasonably have been expected, under so many difficulties.
They resumed their journey; and certainly the prospect before
them was by no means encouraging. The stage was fifteen miles
long, the night was dark, the wind high, and the rain pouring in
torrents. It was impossible to make any great way against such
obstacles united; it was hard upon one o'clock already; and
nearly two hours were consumed in getting to the end of the
stage. Here, however, an object presented itself, which rekindled
their hopes, and reanimated their drooping spirits.
'When did this chaise come in?' cried old Wardle, leaping out
of his own vehicle, and pointing to one covered with wet mud,
which was standing in the yard.
'Not a quarter of an hour ago, sir,' replied the hostler, to whom
the question was addressed.
'Lady and gentleman?' inquired Wardle, almost breathless
with impatience.
'Yes, sir.'
'Tall gentleman--dress-coat--long legs--thin body?'
'Yes, sir.'
'Elderly lady--thin face--rather skinny--eh?'
'Yes, sir.'
'By heavens, it's the couple, Pickwick,' exclaimed the old
'Would have been here before,' said the hostler, 'but they broke
a trace.'
''Tis them!' said Wardle, 'it is, by Jove! Chaise-and-four
instantly! We shall catch them yet before they reach the next
stage. A guinea a-piece, boys-be alive there--bustle about--
there's good fellows.'
And with such admonitions as these, the old gentleman ran up
and down the yard, and bustled to and fro, in a state of excitement
which communicated itself to Mr. Pickwick also; and
under the influence of which, that gentleman got himself into
complicated entanglements with harness, and mixed up with
horses and wheels of chaises, in the most surprising manner,
firmly believing that by so doing he was materially forwarding the
preparations for their resuming their journey.
'Jump in--jump in!' cried old Wardle, climbing into the
chaise, pulling up the steps, and slamming the door after him.
'Come along! Make haste!' And before Mr. Pickwick knew
precisely what he was about, he felt himself forced in at the other
door, by one pull from the old gentleman and one push from the
hostler; and off they were again.
'Ah! we are moving now,' said the old gentleman exultingly.
They were indeed, as was sufficiently testified to Mr. Pickwick, by
his constant collision either with the hard wood-work of the
chaise, or the body of his companion.
'Hold up!' said the stout old Mr. Wardle, as Mr. Pickwick
dived head foremost into his capacious waistcoat.
'I never did feel such a jolting in my life,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Never mind,' replied his companion, 'it will soon be over.
Steady, steady.'
Mr. Pickwick planted himself into his own corner, as firmly as
he could; and on whirled the chaise faster than ever.
They had travelled in this way about three miles, when Mr.
Wardle, who had been looking out of the Window for two or
three minutes, suddenly drew in his face, covered with splashes,
and exclaimed in breathless eagerness--
'Here they are!'
Mr. Pickwick thrust his head out of his window. Yes: there
was a chaise-and-four, a short distance before them, dashing
along at full gallop.
'Go on, go on,' almost shrieked the old gentleman. 'Two
guineas a-piece, boys--don't let 'em gain on us--keep it up--
keep it up.'
The horses in the first chaise started on at their utmost speed;
and those in Mr. Wardle's galloped furiously behind them.
'I see his head,' exclaimed the choleric old man; 'damme, I see
his head.'
'So do I' said Mr. Pickwick; 'that's he.'
Mr. Pickwick was not mistaken. The countenance of Mr. Jingle,
completely coated with mud thrown up by the wheels, was plainly
discernible at the window of his chaise; and the motion of his arm,
which was waving violently towards the postillions, denoted that
he was encouraging them to increased exertion.
The interest was intense. Fields, trees, and hedges, seemed to
rush past them with the velocity of a whirlwind, so rapid was the
pace at which they tore along. They were close by the side of the
first chaise. Jingle's voice could be plainly heard, even above the
din of the wheels, urging on the boys. Old Mr. Wardle foamed
with rage and excitement. He roared out scoundrels and villains
by the dozen, clenched his fist and shook it expressively at the
object of his indignation; but Mr. Jingle only answered with a
contemptuous smile, and replied to his menaces by a shout of
triumph, as his horses, answering the increased application of whip
and spur, broke into a faster gallop, and left the pursuers behind.
Mr. Pickwick had just drawn in his head, and Mr. Wardle,
exhausted with shouting, had done the same, when a tremendous
jolt threw them forward against the front of the vehicle. There was
a sudden bump--a loud crash--away rolled a wheel, and over
went the chaise.
After a very few seconds of bewilderment and confusion, in
which nothing but the plunging of horses, and breaking of glass
could be made out, Mr. Pickwick felt himself violently pulled out
from among the ruins of the chaise; and as soon as he had gained
his feet, extricated his head from the skirts of his greatcoat,
which materially impeded the usefulness of his spectacles, the full
disaster of the case met his view.
Old Mr. Wardle without a hat, and his clothes torn in several
places, stood by his side, and the fragments of the chaise lay
scattered at their feet. The post-boys, who had succeeded in
cutting the traces, were standing, disfigured with mud and disordered
by hard riding, by the horses' heads. About a hundred
yards in advance was the other chaise, which had pulled up on
hearing the crash. The postillions, each with a broad grin
convulsing his countenance, were viewing the adverse party from
their saddles, and Mr. Jingle was contemplating the wreck from
the coach window, with evident satisfaction. The day was just
breaking, and the whole scene was rendered perfectly visible by
the grey light of the morning.
'Hollo!' shouted the shameless Jingle, 'anybody damaged?--
elderly gentlemen--no light weights--dangerous work--very.'
'You're a rascal,' roared Wardle.
'Ha! ha!' replied Jingle; and then he added, with a knowing
wink, and a jerk of the thumb towards the interior of the chaise--
'I say--she's very well--desires her compliments--begs you won't
trouble yourself--love to TUPPY--won't you get up behind?--
drive on, boys.'
The postillions resumed their proper attitudes, and away
rattled the chaise, Mr. Jingle fluttering in derision a white
handkerchief from the coach window.
Nothing in the whole adventure, not even the upset, had
disturbed the calm and equable current of Mr. Pickwick's
temper. The villainy, however, which could first borrow money
of his faithful follower, and then abbreviate his name to 'Tuppy,'
was more than he could patiently bear. He drew his breath hard,
and coloured up to the very tips of his spectacles, as he said,
slowly and emphatically--
'If ever I meet that man again, I'll--'
'Yes, yes,' interrupted Wardle, 'that's all very well; but while we
stand talking here, they'll get their licence, and be married in London.'
Mr. Pickwick paused, bottled up his vengeance, and corked it down.
'How far is it to the next stage?' inquired Mr. Wardle, of one
of the boys.
'Six mile, ain't it, Tom?'
'Rayther better.'
'Rayther better nor six mile, Sir.'
'Can't be helped,' said Wardle, 'we must walk it, Pickwick.'
'No help for it,' replied that truly great man.
So sending forward one of the boys on horseback, to procure
a fresh chaise and horses, and leaving the other behind to take
care of the broken one, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Wardle set
manfully forward on the walk, first tying their shawls round their
necks, and slouching down their hats to escape as much as
possible from the deluge of rain, which after a slight cessation
had again begun to pour heavily down.
There are in London several old inns, once the headquarters
of celebrated coaches in the days when coaches performed
their journeys in a graver and more solemn manner than
they do in these times; but which have now degenerated into little
more than the abiding and booking-places of country wagons. The
reader would look in vain for any of these ancient hostelries,
among the Golden Crosses and Bull and Mouths, which rear
their stately fronts in the improved streets of London. If he
would light upon any of these old places, he must direct his steps
to the obscurer quarters of the town, and there in some secluded
nooks he will find several, still standing with a kind of gloomy
sturdiness, amidst the modern innovations which surround them.
In the Borough especially, there still remain some half-dozen
old inns, which have preserved their external features unchanged,
and which have escaped alike the rage for public improvement and
the encroachments of private speculation. Great, rambling queer
old places they are, with galleries, and passages, and staircases,
wide enough and antiquated enough to furnish materials for a hundred
ghost stories, supposing we should ever be reduced to the lamentable
necessity of inventing any, and that the world should exist long
enough to exhaust the innumerable veracious legends connected with
old London Bridge, and its adjacent neighbourhood on the Surrey side.
It was in the yard of one of these inns--of no less celebrated a
one than the White Hart--that a man was busily employed in
brushing the dirt off a pair of boots, early on the morning
succeeding the events narrated in the last chapter. He was
habited in a coarse, striped waistcoat, with black calico sleeves,
and blue glass buttons; drab breeches and leggings. A bright red
handkerchief was wound in a very loose and unstudied style
round his neck, and an old white hat was carelessly thrown on
one side of his head. There were two rows of boots before him,
one cleaned and the other dirty, and at every addition he made
to the clean row, he paused from his work, and contemplated its
results with evident satisfaction.
The yard presented none of that bustle and activity which are
the usual characteristics of a large coach inn. Three or four
lumbering wagons, each with a pile of goods beneath its ample
canopy, about the height of the second-floor window of an
ordinary house, were stowed away beneath a lofty roof which
extended over one end of the yard; and another, which was
probably to commence its journey that morning, was drawn out
into the open space. A double tier of bedroom galleries, with old
Clumsy balustrades, ran round two sides of the straggling area,
and a double row of bells to correspond, sheltered from the
weather by a little sloping roof, hung over the door leading to the
bar and coffee-room. Two or three gigs and chaise-carts were
wheeled up under different little sheds and pent-houses; and the
occasional heavy tread of a cart-horse, or rattling of a chain at
the farther end of the yard, announced to anybody who cared
about the matter, that the stable lay in that direction. When
we add that a few boys in smock-frocks were lying asleep on
heavy packages, wool-packs, and other articles that were
scattered about on heaps of straw, we have described as fully
as need be the general appearance of the yard of the White
Hart Inn, High Street, Borough, on the particular morning in question.
A loud ringing of one of the bells was followed by the appearance
of a smart chambermaid in the upper sleeping gallery, who,
after tapping at one of the doors, and receiving a request from
within, called over the balustrades--
'Hollo,' replied the man with the white hat.
'Number twenty-two wants his boots.'
'Ask number twenty-two, vether he'll have 'em now, or vait
till he gets 'em,' was the reply.
'Come, don't be a fool, Sam,' said the girl coaxingly, 'the
gentleman wants his boots directly.'
'Well, you ARE a nice young 'ooman for a musical party, you
are,' said the boot-cleaner. 'Look at these here boots--eleven
pair o' boots; and one shoe as belongs to number six, with the
wooden leg. The eleven boots is to be called at half-past eight and
the shoe at nine. Who's number twenty-two, that's to put all the
others out? No, no; reg'lar rotation, as Jack Ketch said, ven he
tied the men up. Sorry to keep you a-waitin', Sir, but I'll attend
to you directly.'
Saying which, the man in the white hat set to work upon a
top-boot with increased assiduity.
There was another loud ring; and the bustling old landlady of
the White Hart made her appearance in the opposite gallery.
'Sam,' cried the landlady, 'where's that lazy, idle-- why, Sam--
oh, there you are; why don't you answer?'
'Vouldn't be gen-teel to answer, till you'd done talking,'
replied Sam gruffly.
'Here, clean these shoes for number seventeen directly, and
take 'em to private sitting-room, number five, first floor.'
The landlady flung a pair of lady's shoes into the yard, and
bustled away.
'Number five,' said Sam, as he picked up the shoes, and taking
a piece of chalk from his pocket, made a memorandum of their
destination on the soles--'Lady's shoes and private sittin'-
room! I suppose she didn't come in the vagin.'
'She came in early this morning,' cried the girl, who was still
leaning over the railing of the gallery, 'with a gentleman in a
hackney-coach, and it's him as wants his boots, and you'd better
do 'em, that's all about it.'
'Vy didn't you say so before,' said Sam, with great indignation,
singling out the boots in question from the heap before him. 'For
all I know'd he was one o' the regular threepennies. Private room!
and a lady too! If he's anything of a gen'l'm'n, he's vurth a
shillin' a day, let alone the arrands.'
Stimulated by this inspiring reflection, Mr. Samuel brushed
away with such hearty good-will, that in a few minutes the boots
and shoes, with a polish which would have struck envy to the soul
of the amiable Mr. Warren (for they used Day & Martin at the
White Hart), had arrived at the door of number five.
'Come in,' said a man's voice, in reply to Sam's rap at the door.
Sam made his best bow, and stepped into the presence of a
lady and gentleman seated at breakfast. Having officiously
deposited the gentleman's boots right and left at his feet, and
the lady's shoes right and left at hers, he backed towards the door.
'Boots,' said the gentleman.
'Sir,' said Sam, closing the door, and keeping his hand on the
knob of the lock.
'Do you know--what's a-name--Doctors' Commons?'
'Yes, Sir.'
'Where is it?'
'Paul's Churchyard, Sir; low archway on the carriage side,
bookseller's at one corner, hot-el on the other, and two porters
in the middle as touts for licences.'
'Touts for licences!' said the gentleman.
'Touts for licences,' replied Sam. 'Two coves in vhite aprons--
touches their hats ven you walk in--"Licence, Sir, licence?"
Queer sort, them, and their mas'rs, too, sir--Old Bailey Proctors
--and no mistake.'
'What do they do?' inquired the gentleman.
'Do! You, Sir! That ain't the worst on it, neither. They puts
things into old gen'l'm'n's heads as they never dreamed of. My
father, Sir, wos a coachman. A widower he wos, and fat enough
for anything--uncommon fat, to be sure. His missus dies, and
leaves him four hundred pound. Down he goes to the Commons,
to see the lawyer and draw the blunt--very smart--top boots on
--nosegay in his button-hole--broad-brimmed tile--green shawl
--quite the gen'l'm'n. Goes through the archvay, thinking how
he should inwest the money--up comes the touter, touches his
hat--"Licence, Sir, licence?"--"What's that?" says my father.--
"Licence, Sir," says he.--"What licence?" says my father.--
"Marriage licence," says the touter.--"Dash my veskit," says my
father, "I never thought o' that."--"I think you wants one, Sir,"
says the touter. My father pulls up, and thinks a bit--"No," says
he, "damme, I'm too old, b'sides, I'm a many sizes too large,"
says he.--"Not a bit on it, Sir," says the touter.--"Think not?"
says my father.--"I'm sure not," says he; "we married a gen'l'm'n
twice your size, last Monday."--"Did you, though?" said my
father.--"To be sure, we did," says the touter, "you're a babby
to him--this way, sir--this way!"--and sure enough my father
walks arter him, like a tame monkey behind a horgan, into a little
back office, vere a teller sat among dirty papers, and tin boxes,
making believe he was busy. "Pray take a seat, vile I makes out
the affidavit, Sir," says the lawyer.--"Thank'ee, Sir," says my
father, and down he sat, and stared with all his eyes, and his
mouth vide open, at the names on the boxes. "What's your name,
Sir," says the lawyer.--"Tony Weller," says my father.--"Parish?"
says the lawyer. "Belle Savage," says my father; for he stopped
there wen he drove up, and he know'd nothing about parishes, he
didn't.--"And what's the lady's name?" says the lawyer. My
father was struck all of a heap. "Blessed if I know," says he.--
"Not know!" says the lawyer.--"No more nor you do," says my
father; "can't I put that in arterwards?"--"Impossible!" says
the lawyer.--"Wery well," says my father, after he'd thought a
moment, "put down Mrs. Clarke."--"What Clarke?" says the
lawyer, dipping his pen in the ink.--"Susan Clarke, Markis o'
Granby, Dorking," says my father; "she'll have me, if I ask. I
des-say--I never said nothing to her, but she'll have me, I know."
The licence was made out, and she DID have him, and what's more
she's got him now; and I never had any of the four hundred
pound, worse luck. Beg your pardon, sir,' said Sam, when he had
concluded, 'but wen I gets on this here grievance, I runs on like a
new barrow with the wheel greased.' Having said which, and
having paused for an instant to see whether he was wanted for
anything more, Sam left the room.
'Half-past nine--just the time--off at once;' said the gentleman,
whom we need hardly introduce as Mr. Jingle.
'Time--for what?' said the spinster aunt coquettishly.
'Licence, dearest of angels--give notice at the church--call you
mine, to-morrow'--said Mr. Jingle, and he squeezed the spinster
aunt's hand.
'The licence!' said Rachael, blushing.
'The licence,' repeated Mr. Jingle--
'In hurry, post-haste for a licence,
In hurry, ding dong I come back.'
'How you run on,' said Rachael.
'Run on--nothing to the hours, days, weeks, months, years,
when we're united--run on--they'll fly on--bolt--mizzle--
steam-engine--thousand-horse power--nothing to it.'
'Can't--can't we be married before to-morrow morning?'
inquired Rachael.
'Impossible--can't be--notice at the church--leave the licence
to-day--ceremony come off to-morrow.'
'I am so terrified, lest my brother should discover us!' said Rachael.
'Discover--nonsense--too much shaken by the break-down--
besides--extreme caution--gave up the post-chaise--walked on
--took a hackney-coach--came to the Borough--last place in the
world that he'd look in--ha! ha!--capital notion that--very.'
'Don't be long,' said the spinster affectionately, as Mr. Jingle
stuck the pinched-up hat on his head.
'Long away from you?--Cruel charmer;' and Mr. Jingle
skipped playfully up to the spinster aunt, imprinted a chaste kiss
upon her lips, and danced out of the room.
'Dear man!' said the spinster, as the door closed after him.
'Rum old girl,' said Mr. Jingle, as he walked down the passage.
It is painful to reflect upon the perfidy of our species; and we
will not, therefore, pursue the thread of Mr. Jingle's meditations,
as he wended his way to Doctors' Commons. It will be sufficient
for our purpose to relate, that escaping the snares of the dragons
in white aprons, who guard the entrance to that enchanted
region, he reached the vicar-general's office in safety and having
procured a highly flattering address on parchment, from the
Archbishop of Canterbury, to his 'trusty and well-beloved Alfred
Jingle and Rachael Wardle, greeting,' he carefully deposited the
mystic document in his pocket, and retraced his steps in triumph
to the Borough.
He was yet on his way to the White Hart, when two plump
gentleman and one thin one entered the yard, and looked round
in search of some authorised person of whom they could make a
few inquiries. Mr. Samuel Weller happened to be at that moment
engaged in burnishing a pair of painted tops, the personal
property of a farmer who was refreshing himself with a slight
lunch of two or three pounds of cold beef and a pot or two of
porter, after the fatigues of the Borough market; and to him the
thin gentleman straightway advanced.
'My friend,' said the thin gentleman.
'You're one o' the adwice gratis order,' thought Sam, 'or you
wouldn't be so wery fond o' me all at once.' But he only said--
'Well, Sir.'
'My friend,' said the thin gentleman, with a conciliatory hem--
'have you got many people stopping here now? Pretty busy. Eh?'
Sam stole a look at the inquirer. He was a little high-dried
man, with a dark squeezed-up face, and small, restless, black
eyes, that kept winking and twinkling on each side of his little
inquisitive nose, as if they were playing a perpetual game of
peep-bo with that feature. He was dressed all in black, with boots
as shiny as his eyes, a low white neckcloth, and a clean shirt with
a frill to it. A gold watch-chain, and seals, depended from his fob.
He carried his black kid gloves IN his hands, and not ON them;
and as he spoke, thrust his wrists beneath his coat tails, with the
air of a man who was in the habit of propounding some regular posers.
'Pretty busy, eh?' said the little man.
'Oh, wery well, Sir,' replied Sam, 'we shan't be bankrupts, and
we shan't make our fort'ns. We eats our biled mutton without
capers, and don't care for horse-radish ven ve can get beef.'
'Ah,' said the little man, 'you're a wag, ain't you?'
'My eldest brother was troubled with that complaint,' said
Sam; 'it may be catching--I used to sleep with him.'
'This is a curious old house of yours,' said the little man,
looking round him.
'If you'd sent word you was a-coming, we'd ha' had it repaired;'
replied the imperturbable Sam.
The little man seemed rather baffled by these several repulses,
and a short consultation took place between him and the two
plump gentlemen. At its conclusion, the little man took a pinch
of snuff from an oblong silver box, and was apparently on the
point of renewing the conversation, when one of the plump
gentlemen, who in addition to a benevolent countenance,
possessed a pair of spectacles, and a pair of black gaiters,
'The fact of the matter is,' said the benevolent gentleman, 'that
my friend here (pointing to the other plump gentleman) will give
you half a guinea, if you'll answer one or two--'
'Now, my dear sir--my dear Sir,' said the little man, 'pray,
allow me--my dear Sir, the very first principle to be observed in
these cases, is this: if you place the matter in the hands of a
professional man, you must in no way interfere in the progress of
the business; you must repose implicit confidence in him. Really,
Mr.--' He turned to the other plump gentleman, and said, 'I
forget your friend's name.'
'Pickwick,' said Mr. Wardle, for it was no other than that jolly
'Ah, Pickwick--really Mr. Pickwick, my dear Sir, excuse me--
I shall be happy to receive any private suggestions of yours, as
AMICUS CURIAE, but you must see the impropriety of your interfering
with my conduct in this case, with such an AD CAPTANDUM argument as the
offer of half a guinea. Really, my dear Sir, really;' and the little
man took an argumentative pinch of snuff, and looked very profound.
'My only wish, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'was to bring this very
unpleasant matter to as speedy a close as possible.'
'Quite right--quite right,' said the little man.
'With which view,' continued Mr. Pickwick, 'I made use of the
argument which my experience of men has taught me is the most
likely to succeed in any case.'
'Ay, ay,' said the little man, 'very good, very good, indeed; but
you should have suggested it to me. My dear sir, I'm quite certain
you cannot be ignorant of the extent of confidence which must be
placed in professional men. If any authority can be necessary on
such a point, my dear sir, let me refer you to the well-known case
in Barnwell and--'
'Never mind George Barnwell,' interrupted Sam, who had
remained a wondering listener during this short colloquy;
'everybody knows what sort of a case his was, tho' it's always
been my opinion, mind you, that the young 'ooman deserved
scragging a precious sight more than he did. Hows'ever, that's
neither here nor there. You want me to accept of half a guinea.
Wery well, I'm agreeable: I can't say no fairer than that, can I,
sir?' (Mr. Pickwick smiled.) Then the next question is, what the
devil do you want with me, as the man said, wen he see the ghost?'
'We want to know--' said Mr. Wardle.
'Now, my dear sir--my dear sir,' interposed the busy little man.
Mr. Wardle shrugged his shoulders, and was silent.
'We want to know,' said the little man solemnly; 'and we ask
the question of you, in order that we may not awaken apprehensions
inside--we want to know who you've got in this house at present?'
'Who there is in the house!' said Sam, in whose mind the
inmates were always represented by that particular article of their
costume, which came under his immediate superintendence.
'There's a vooden leg in number six; there's a pair of Hessians in
thirteen; there's two pair of halves in the commercial; there's
these here painted tops in the snuggery inside the bar; and five
more tops in the coffee-room.'
'Nothing more?' said the little man.
'Stop a bit,' replied Sam, suddenly recollecting himself. 'Yes;
there's a pair of Vellingtons a good deal worn, and a pair o'
lady's shoes, in number five.'
'What sort of shoes?' hastily inquired Wardle, who, together
with Mr. Pickwick, had been lost in bewilderment at the singular
catalogue of visitors.
'Country make,' replied Sam.
'Any maker's name?'
'Where of?'
'It is them,' exclaimed Wardle. 'By heavens, we've found them.'
'Hush!' said Sam. 'The Vellingtons has gone to Doctors' Commons.'
'No,' said the little man.
'Yes, for a licence.'
'We're in time,' exclaimed Wardle. 'Show us the room; not a
moment is to be lost.'
'Pray, my dear sir--pray,' said the little man; 'caution,
caution.' He drew from his pocket a red silk purse, and looked
very hard at Sam as he drew out a sovereign.
Sam grinned expressively.
'Show us into the room at once, without announcing us,' said
the little man, 'and it's yours.'
Sam threw the painted tops into a corner, and led the way
through a dark passage, and up a wide staircase. He paused at
the end of a second passage, and held out his hand.
'Here it is,' whispered the attorney, as he deposited the money
on the hand of their guide.
The man stepped forward for a few paces, followed by the two
friends and their legal adviser. He stopped at a door.
'Is this the room?' murmured the little gentleman.
Sam nodded assent.
Old Wardle opened the door; and the whole three walked into
the room just as Mr. Jingle, who had that moment returned, had
produced the licence to the spinster aunt.
The spinster uttered a loud shriek, and throwing herself into a
chair, covered her face with her hands. Mr. Jingle crumpled up
the licence, and thrust it into his coat pocket. The unwelcome
visitors advanced into the middle of the room.
'You--you are a nice rascal, arn't you?' exclaimed Wardle,
breathless with passion.
'My dear Sir, my dear sir,' said the little man, laying his hat on
the table, 'pray, consider--pray. Defamation of character: action
for damages. Calm yourself, my dear sir, pray--'
'How dare you drag my sister from my house?' said the old man.
Ay--ay--very good,' said the little gentleman, 'you may ask
that. How dare you, sir?--eh, sir?'
'Who the devil are you?' inquired Mr. Jingle, in so fierce a
tone, that the little gentleman involuntarily fell back a step or two.
'Who is he, you scoundrel,' interposed Wardle. 'He's my
lawyer, Mr. Perker, of Gray's Inn. Perker, I'll have this fellow
prosecuted--indicted--I'll--I'll--I'll ruin him. And you,' continued
Mr. Wardle, turning abruptly round to his sister--'you,
Rachael, at a time of life when you ought to know better, what
do you mean by running away with a vagabond, disgracing your
family, and making yourself miserable? Get on your bonnet and
come back. Call a hackney-coach there, directly, and bring this
lady's bill, d'ye hear--d'ye hear?'
'Cert'nly, Sir,' replied Sam, who had answered Wardle's
violent ringing of the bell with a degree of celerity which must
have appeared marvellous to anybody who didn't know that his
eye had been applied to the outside of the keyhole during the
whole interview.
'Get on your bonnet,' repeated Wardle.
'Do nothing of the kind,' said Jingle. 'Leave the room, Sir--
no business here--lady's free to act as she pleases--more than
'More than one-and-twenty!' ejaculated Wardle contemptuously.
'More than one-and-forty!'
'I ain't,' said the spinster aunt, her indignation getting the
better of her determination to faint.
'You are,' replied Wardle; 'you're fifty if you're an hour.'
Here the spinster aunt uttered a loud shriek, and became senseless.
'A glass of water,' said the humane Mr. Pickwick, summoning
the landlady.
'A glass of water!' said the passionate Wardle. 'Bring a
bucket, and throw it all over her; it'll do her good, and she
richly deserves it.'
'Ugh, you brute!' ejaculated the kind-hearted landlady. 'Poor
dear.' And with sundry ejaculations of 'Come now, there's a dear
--drink a little of this--it'll do you good--don't give way so--
there's a love,' etc. etc., the landlady, assisted by a chambermaid,
proceeded to vinegar the forehead, beat the hands, titillate the
nose, and unlace the stays of the spinster aunt, and to administer
such other restoratives as are usually applied by compassionate
females to ladies who are endeavouring to ferment themselves
into hysterics.
'Coach is ready, Sir,' said Sam, appearing at the door.
'Come along,' cried Wardle. 'I'll carry her downstairs.'
At this proposition, the hysterics came on with redoubled violence.
The landlady was about to enter a very violent protest against
this proceeding, and had already given vent to an indignant
inquiry whether Mr. Wardle considered himself a lord of the
creation, when Mr. Jingle interposed--
'Boots,' said he, 'get me an officer.'
'Stay, stay,' said little Mr. Perker. 'Consider, Sir, consider.'
'I'll not consider,' replied Jingle. 'She's her own mistress--see
who dares to take her away--unless she wishes it.'
'I WON'T be taken away,' murmured the spinster aunt. 'I DON'T
wish it.' (Here there was a frightful relapse.)
'My dear Sir,' said the little man, in a low tone, taking Mr.
Wardle and Mr. Pickwick apart--'my dear Sir, we're in a very
awkward situation. It's a distressing case--very; I never knew
one more so; but really, my dear sir, really we have no power to
control this lady's actions. I warned you before we came, my dear
sir, that there was nothing to look to but a compromise.'
There was a short pause.
'What kind of compromise would you recommend?' inquired
Mr. Pickwick.
'Why, my dear Sir, our friend's in an unpleasant position--very
much so. We must be content to suffer some pecuniary loss.'
'I'll suffer any, rather than submit to this disgrace, and let her,
fool as she is, be made miserable for life,' said Wardle.
'I rather think it can be done,' said the bustling little man.
'Mr. Jingle, will you step with us into the next room for a
Mr. Jingle assented, and the quartette walked into an empty apartment.
'Now, sir,' said the little man, as he carefully closed the door,
'is there no way of accommodating this matter--step this way,
sir, for a moment--into this window, Sir, where we can be alone
--there, sir, there, pray sit down, sir. Now, my dear Sir, between
you and I, we know very well, my dear Sir, that you have run off
with this lady for the sake of her money. Don't frown, Sir, don't
frown; I say, between you and I, WE know it. We are both men of
the world, and WE know very well that our friends here, are not--eh?'
Mr. Jingle's face gradually relaxed; and something distantly
resembling a wink quivered for an instant in his left eye.
'Very good, very good,' said the little man, observing the
impression he had made. 'Now, the fact is, that beyond a few
hundreds, the lady has little or nothing till the death of her
mother--fine old lady, my dear Sir.'
'OLD,' said Mr. Jingle briefly but emphatically.
'Why, yes,' said the attorney, with a slight cough. 'You are
right, my dear Sir, she is rather old. She comes of an old family
though, my dear Sir; old in every sense of the word. The founder
of that family came into Kent when Julius Caesar invaded
Britain;--only one member of it, since, who hasn't lived to eighty-five,
and he was beheaded by one of the Henrys. The old lady
is not seventy-three now, my dear Sir.' The little man paused, and
took a pinch of snuff.
'Well,' cried Mr. Jingle.
'Well, my dear sir--you don't take snuff!--ah! so much the
better--expensive habit--well, my dear Sir, you're a fine young
man, man of the world--able to push your fortune, if you had
capital, eh?'
'Well,' said Mr. Jingle again.
'Do you comprehend me?'
'Not quite.'
'Don't you think--now, my dear Sir, I put it to you don't you
think--that fifty pounds and liberty would be better than Miss
Wardle and expectation?'
'Won't do--not half enough!' said Mr. Jingle, rising.
'Nay, nay, my dear Sir,' remonstrated the little attorney,
seizing him by the button. 'Good round sum--a man like you
could treble it in no time--great deal to be done with fifty pounds,
my dear Sir.'
'More to be done with a hundred and fifty,' replied Mr. Jingle coolly.
'Well, my dear Sir, we won't waste time in splitting straws,'
resumed the little man, 'say--say--seventy.'
'Won't do,' said Mr. Jingle.
'Don't go away, my dear sir--pray don't hurry,' said the little
man. 'Eighty; come: I'll write you a cheque at once.'
'Won't do,' said Mr. Jingle.
'Well, my dear Sir, well,' said the little man, still detaining him;
'just tell me what WILL do.'
'Expensive affair,' said Mr. Jingle. 'Money out of pocket--
posting, nine pounds; licence, three--that's twelve--compensation,
a hundred--hundred and twelve--breach of honour--and
loss of the lady--'
'Yes, my dear Sir, yes,' said the little man, with a knowing look,
'never mind the last two items. That's a hundred and twelve--say
a hundred--come.'
'And twenty,' said Mr. Jingle.
'Come, come, I'll write you a cheque,' said the little man; and
down he sat at the table for that purpose.
'I'll make it payable the day after to-morrow,' said the little
man, with a look towards Mr. Wardle; 'and we can get the lady
away, meanwhile.' Mr. Wardle sullenly nodded assent.
'A hundred,' said the little man.
'And twenty,' said Mr. Jingle.
'My dear Sir,' remonstrated the little man.
'Give it him,' interposed Mr. Wardle, 'and let him go.'
The cheque was written by the little gentleman, and pocketed
by Mr. Jingle.
'Now, leave this house instantly!' said Wardle, starting up.
'My dear Sir,' urged the little man.
'And mind,' said Mr. Wardle, 'that nothing should have
induced me to make this compromise--not even a regard for my
family--if I had not known that the moment you got any money
in that pocket of yours, you'd go to the devil faster, if possible,
than you would without it--'
'My dear sir,' urged the little man again.
'Be quiet, Perker,' resumed Wardle. 'Leave the room, Sir.'
'Off directly,' said the unabashed Jingle. 'Bye bye, Pickwick.'
If any dispassionate spectator could have beheld the countenance
of the illustrious man, whose name forms the leading
feature of the title of this work, during the latter part of this
conversation, he would have been almost induced to wonder that
the indignant fire which flashed from his eyes did not melt the
glasses of his spectacles--so majestic was his wrath. His nostrils
dilated, and his fists clenched involuntarily, as he heard himself
addressed by the villain. But he restrained himself again--he did
not pulverise him.
'Here,' continued the hardened traitor, tossing the licence at
Mr. Pickwick's feet; 'get the name altered--take home the lady
--do for Tuppy.'
Mr. Pickwick was a philosopher, but philosophers are only
men in armour, after all. The shaft had reached him, penetrated
through his philosophical harness, to his very heart. In the frenzy
of his rage, he hurled the inkstand madly forward, and followed
it up himself. But Mr. Jingle had disappeared, and he found
himself caught in the arms of Sam.
'Hollo,' said that eccentric functionary, 'furniter's cheap
where you come from, Sir. Self-acting ink, that 'ere; it's wrote
your mark upon the wall, old gen'l'm'n. Hold still, Sir; wot's the
use o' runnin' arter a man as has made his lucky, and got to
t'other end of the Borough by this time?'
Mr. Pickwick's mind, like those of all truly great men, was open
to conviction. He was a quick and powerful reasoner; and
a moment's reflection sufficed to remind him of the impotency
of his rage. It subsided as quickly as it had been roused.
He panted for breath, and looked benignantly round upon his
Shall we tell the lamentations that ensued when Miss Wardle
found herself deserted by the faithless Jingle? Shall we extract
Mr. Pickwick's masterly description of that heartrending scene?
His note-book, blotted with the tears of sympathising humanity,
lies open before us; one word, and it is in the printer's hands.
But, no! we will be resolute! We will not wring the public
bosom, with the delineation of such suffering!
Slowly and sadly did the two friends and the deserted lady
return next day in the Muggleton heavy coach. Dimly and
darkly had the sombre shadows of a summer's night fallen upon
all around, when they again reached Dingley Dell, and stood
within the entrance to Manor Farm.
A night of quiet and repose in the profound silence of Dingley
Dell, and an hour's breathing of its fresh and fragrant air
on the ensuing morning, completely recovered Mr. Pickwick
from the effects of his late fatigue of body and anxiety of mind.
That illustrious man had been separated from his friends and
fol lowers for two whole days; and it was with a degree of pleasure
and delight, which no common imagination can adequately
conceive, that he stepped forward to greet Mr. Winkle and Mr.
Snodgrass, as he encountered those gentlemen on his return from
his early walk. The pleasure was mutual; for who could ever gaze
on Mr. Pickwick's beaming face without experiencing the
sensation? But still a cloud seemed to hang over his companions
which that great man could not but be sensible of, and was wholly
at a loss to account for. There was a mysterious air about them
both, as unusual as it was alarming.
'And how,' said Mr. Pickwick, when he had grasped his
followers by the hand, and exchanged warm salutations of
welcome--'how is Tupman?'
Mr. Winkle, to whom the question was more peculiarly
addressed, made no reply. He turned away his head, and appeared
absorbed in melancholy reflection.
'Snodgrass,' said Mr. Pickwick earnestly, 'how is our friend--
he is not ill?'
'No,' replied Mr. Snodgrass; and a tear trembled on his
sentimental eyelid, like a rain-drop on a window-frame-'no; he
is not ill.'
Mr. Pickwick stopped, and gazed on each of his friends in turn.
'Winkle--Snodgrass,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'what does this
mean? Where is our friend? What has happened? Speak--I
conjure, I entreat--nay, I command you, speak.'
There was a solemnity--a dignity--in Mr. Pickwick's manner,
not to be withstood.
'He is gone,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'Gone!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick. 'Gone!'
'Gone,' repeated Mr. Snodgrass.
'Where!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick.
'We can only guess, from that communication,' replied Mr.
Snodgrass, taking a letter from his pocket, and placing it in his
friend's hand. 'Yesterday morning, when a letter was received
from Mr. Wardle, stating that you would be home with his sister
at night, the melancholy which had hung over our friend during
the whole of the previous day, was observed to increase. He
shortly afterwards disappeared: he was missing during the whole
day, and in the evening this letter was brought by the hostler
from the Crown, at Muggleton. It had been left in his charge in
the morning, with a strict injunction that it should not be
delivered until night.'
Mr. Pickwick opened the epistle. It was in his friend's handwriting,
and these were its contents:--
'MY DEAR PICKWICK,--YOU, my dear friend, are placed far
beyond the reach of many mortal frailties and weaknesses which
ordinary people cannot overcome. You do not know what it
is, at one blow, to be deserted by a lovely and fascinating
creature, and to fall a victim to the artifices of a villain, who had
the grin of cunning beneath the mask of friendship. I hope you
never may.
'Any letter addressed to me at the Leather Bottle, Cobham,
Kent, will be forwarded--supposing I still exist. I hasten from
the sight of that world, which has become odious to me. Should
I hasten from it altogether, pity--forgive me. Life, my dear
Pickwick, has become insupportable to me. The spirit which
burns within us, is a porter's knot, on which to rest the heavy
load of worldly cares and troubles; and when that spirit fails us,
the burden is too heavy to be borne. We sink beneath it. You
may tell Rachael--Ah, that name!--
'We must leave this place directly,' said Mr. Pickwick, as he
refolded the note. 'It would not have been decent for us to
remain here, under any circumstances, after what has happened;
and now we are bound to follow in search of our friend.' And
so saying, he led the way to the house.
His intention was rapidly communicated. The entreaties to
remain were pressing, but Mr. Pickwick was inflexible. Business,
he said, required his immediate attendance.
The old clergyman was present.
'You are not really going?' said he, taking Mr. Pickwick aside.
Mr. Pickwick reiterated his former determination.
'Then here,' said the old gentleman, 'is a little manuscript,
which I had hoped to have the pleasure of reading to you myself.
I found it on the death of a friend of mine--a medical man,
engaged in our county lunatic asylum--among a variety of
papers, which I had the option of destroying or preserving, as I
thought proper. I can hardly believe that the manuscript is
genuine, though it certainly is not in my friend's hand. However,
whether it be the genuine production of a maniac, or founded
upon the ravings of some unhappy being (which I think more
probable), read it, and judge for yourself.'
Mr. Pickwick received the manuscript, and parted from the
benevolent old gentleman with many expressions of good-will
and esteem.
It was a more difficult task to take leave of the inmates of
Manor Farm, from whom they had received so much hospitality
and kindness. Mr. Pickwick kissed the young ladies--we were
going to say, as if they were his own daughters, only, as he might
possibly have infused a little more warmth into the salutation, the
comparison would not be quite appropriate--hugged the old lady
with filial cordiality; and patted the rosy cheeks of the female
servants in a most patriarchal manner, as he slipped into the
hands of each some more substantial expression of his approval.
The exchange of cordialities with their fine old host and Mr.
Trundle was even more hearty and prolonged; and it was not
until Mr. Snodgrass had been several times called for, and at last
emerged from a dark passage followed soon after by Emily
(whose bright eyes looked unusually dim), that the three friends
were enabled to tear themselves from their friendly entertainers.
Many a backward look they gave at the farm, as they walked
slowly away; and many a kiss did Mr. Snodgrass waft in the air,
in acknowledgment of something very like a lady's handkerchief,
which was waved from one of the upper windows, until a turn of
the lane hid the old house from their sight.
At Muggleton they procured a conveyance to Rochester. By
the time they reached the last-named place, the violence of their
grief had sufficiently abated to admit of their making a very
excellent early dinner; and having procured the necessary information
relative to the road, the three friends set forward again in
the afternoon to walk to Cobham.
A delightful walk it was; for it was a pleasant afternoon in
June, and their way lay through a deep and shady wood, cooled
by the light wind which gently rustled the thick foliage, and
enlivened by the songs of the birds that perched upon the boughs.
The ivy and the moss crept in thick clusters over the old trees,
and the soft green turf overspread the ground like a silken
mat. They emerged upon an open park, with an ancient hall,
displaying the quaint and picturesque architecture of Elizabeth's
time. Long vistas of stately oaks and elm trees appeared on
every side; large herds of deer were cropping the fresh grass;
and occasionally a startled hare scoured along the ground,
with the speed of the shadows thrown by the light clouds
which swept across a sunny landscape like a passing breath of summer.
'If this,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking about him--'if this were
the place to which all who are troubled with our friend's complaint
came, I fancy their old attachment to this world would very
soon return.'
'I think so too,' said Mr. Winkle.
'And really,' added Mr. Pickwick, after half an hour's walking
had brought them to the village, 'really, for a misanthrope's
choice, this is one of the prettiest and most desirable places of
residence I ever met with.'
In this opinion also, both Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass
expressed their concurrence; and having been directed to the
Leather Bottle, a clean and commodious village ale-house, the
three travellers entered, and at once inquired for a gentleman of
the name of Tupman.
'Show the gentlemen into the parlour, Tom,' said the landlady.
A stout country lad opened a door at the end of the passage,
and the three friends entered a long, low-roofed room, furnished
with a large number of high-backed leather-cushioned chairs, of
fantastic shapes, and embellished with a great variety of old
portraits and roughly-coloured prints of some antiquity. At the
upper end of the room was a table, with a white cloth upon it,
well covered with a roast fowl, bacon, ale, and et ceteras; and at
the table sat Mr. Tupman, looking as unlike a man who had
taken his leave of the world, as possible.
On the entrance of his friends, that gentleman laid down his
knife and fork, and with a mournful air advanced to meet them.
'I did not expect to see you here,' he said, as he grasped Mr.
Pickwick's hand. 'It's very kind.'
'Ah!' said Mr. Pickwick, sitting down, and wiping from his
forehead the perspiration which the walk had engendered. 'Finish
your dinner, and walk out with me. I wish to speak to you alone.'
Mr. Tupman did as he was desired; and Mr. Pickwick having refreshed
himself with a copious draught of ale, waited his friend's leisure.
The dinner was quickly despatched, and they walked out together.
For half an hour, their forms might have been seen pacing the
churchyard to and fro, while Mr. Pickwick was engaged in
combating his companion's resolution. Any repetition of his
arguments would be useless; for what language could convey to
them that energy and force which their great originator's manner
communicated? Whether Mr. Tupman was already tired of
retirement, or whether he was wholly unable to resist the eloquent
appeal which was made to him, matters not, he did NOT resist it
at last.
'It mattered little to him,' he said, 'where he dragged out the
miserable remainder of his days; and since his friend laid so
much stress upon his humble companionship, he was willing to
share his adventures.'
Mr. Pickwick smiled; they shook hands, and walked back to
rejoin their companions.
It was at this moment that Mr. Pickwick made that immortal
discovery, which has been the pride and boast of his friends, and
the envy of every antiquarian in this or any other country. They
had passed the door of their inn, and walked a little way down
the village, before they recollected the precise spot in which it
stood. As they turned back, Mr. Pickwick's eye fell upon a small
broken stone, partially buried in the ground, in front of a cottage
door. He paused.
'This is very strange,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'What is strange?' inquired Mr. Tupman, staring eagerly at
every object near him, but the right one. 'God bless me, what's
the matter?'
This last was an ejaculation of irrepressible astonishment,
occasioned by seeing Mr. Pickwick, in his enthusiasm for
discovery, fall on his knees before the little stone, and commence
wiping the dust off it with his pocket-handkerchief.
'There is an inscription here,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Is it possible?' said Mr. Tupman.
'I can discern,'continued Mr. Pickwick, rubbing away with all
his might, and gazing intently through his spectacles--'I can
discern a cross, and a 13, and then a T. This is important,'
continued Mr. Pickwick, starting up. 'This is some very old
inscription, existing perhaps long before the ancient alms-houses
in this place. It must not be lost.'
He tapped at the cottage door. A labouring man opened it.
'Do you know how this stone came here, my friend?' inquired
the benevolent Mr. Pickwick.
'No, I doan't, Sir,' replied the man civilly. 'It was here long
afore I was born, or any on us.'
Mr. Pickwick glanced triumphantly at his companion.
'You--you--are not particularly attached to it, I dare say,'
said Mr. Pickwick, trembling with anxiety. 'You wouldn't mind
selling it, now?'
'Ah! but who'd buy it?' inquired the man, with an expression
of face which he probably meant to be very cunning.
'I'll give you ten shillings for it, at once,' said Mr. Pickwick,
'if you would take it up for me.'
The astonishment of the village may be easily imagined, when
(the little stone having been raised with one wrench of a spade)
Mr. Pickwick, by dint of great personal exertion, bore it with his
own hands to the inn, and after having carefully washed it,
deposited it on the table.
The exultation and joy of the Pickwickians knew no bounds,
when their patience and assiduity, their washing and scraping,
were crowned with success. The stone was uneven and broken,
and the letters were straggling and irregular, but the following
fragment of an inscription was clearly to be deciphered:--
[cross] B I L S T
u m
S. M.
Mr. Pickwick's eyes sparkled with delight, as he sat and
gloated over the treasure he had discovered. He had attained one
of the greatest objects of his ambition. In a county known to
abound in the remains of the early ages; in a village in which
there still existed some memorials of the olden time, he--he, the
chairman of the Pickwick Club--had discovered a strange and
curious inscription of unquestionable antiquity, which had
wholly escaped the observation of the many learned men who had
preceded him. He could hardly trust the evidence of his senses.
'This--this,' said he, 'determines me. We return to town to-morrow.'
'To-morrow!' exclaimed his admiring followers.
'To-morrow,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'This treasure must be at once
deposited where it can be thoroughly investigated and properly
understood. I have another reason for this step. In a few days,
an election is to take place for the borough of Eatanswill, at
which Mr. Perker, a gentleman whom I lately met, is the agent of
one of the candidates. We will behold, and minutely examine, a
scene so interesting to every Englishman.'
'We will,' was the animated cry of three voices.
Mr. Pickwick looked round him. The attachment and fervour
of his followers lighted up a glow of enthusiasm within him. He
was their leader, and he felt it.
'Let us celebrate this happy meeting with a convivial glass,' said
he. This proposition, like the other, was received with unanimous
applause. Having himself deposited the important stone in a small
deal box, purchased from the landlady for the purpose, he
placed himself in an arm-chair, at the head of the table; and the
evening was devoted to festivity and conversation.
It was past eleven o'clock--a late hour for the little village of
Cobham--when Mr. Pickwick retired to the bedroom which had
been prepared for his reception. He threw open the lattice
window, and setting his light upon the table, fell into a train of
meditation on the hurried events of the two preceding days.
The hour and the place were both favourable to contemplation;
Mr. Pickwick was roused by the church clock striking
twelve. The first stroke of the hour sounded solemnly in his ear,
but when the bell ceased the stillness seemed insupportable--he
almost felt as if he had lost a companion. He was nervous and
excited; and hastily undressing himself and placing his light in
the chimney, got into bed.
Every one has experienced that disagreeable state of mind, in
which a sensation of bodily weariness in vain contends against an
inability to sleep. It was Mr. Pickwick's condition at this
moment: he tossed first on one side and then on the other; and
perseveringly closed his eyes as if to coax himself to slumber. It
was of no use. Whether it was the unwonted exertion he had
undergone, or the heat, or the brandy-and-water, or the strange
bed--whatever it was, his thoughts kept reverting very
uncomfortably to the grim pictures downstairs, and the old stories
to which they had given rise in the course of the evening. After
half an hour's tumbling about, he came to the unsatisfactory
conclusion, that it was of no use trying to sleep; so he got up and
partially dressed himself. Anything, he thought, was better than
lying there fancying all kinds of horrors. He looked out of the
window--it was very dark. He walked about the room--it was
very lonely.
He had taken a few turns from the door to the window, and
from the window to the door, when the clergyman's manuscript
for the first time entered his head. It was a good thought. if it
failed to interest him, it might send him to sleep. He took it from
his coat pocket, and drawing a small table towards his bedside,
trimmed the light, put on his spectacles, and composed himself
to read. It was a strange handwriting, and the paper was much
soiled and blotted. The title gave him a sudden start, too; and he
could not avoid casting a wistful glance round the room.
Reflecting on the absurdity of giving way to such feelings,
however, he trimmed the light again, and read as follows:--
'Yes!--a madman's! How that word would have struck to my
heart, many years ago! How it would have roused the terror that
used to come upon me sometimes, sending the blood hissing and
tingling through my veins, till the cold dew of fear stood in large
drops upon my skin, and my knees knocked together with
fright! I like it now though. It's a fine name. Show me the
monarch whose angry frown was ever feared like the glare of a
madman's eye--whose cord and axe were ever half so sure as
a madman's gripe. Ho! ho! It's a grand thing to be mad! to be
peeped at like a wild lion through the iron bars--to gnash one's
teeth and howl, through the long still night, to the merry ring of
a heavy chain and to roll and twine among the straw, transported
with such brave music. Hurrah for the madhouse! Oh, it's
a rare place!
'I remember days when I was afraid of being mad; when I used
to start from my sleep, and fall upon my knees, and pray to be
spared from the curse of my race; when I rushed from the sight of
merriment or happiness, to hide myself in some lonely place, and
spend the weary hours in watching the progress of the fever that
was to consume my brain. I knew that madness was mixed up
with my very blood, and the marrow of my bones! that one
generation had passed away without the pestilence appearing
among them, and that I was the first in whom it would revive. I
knew it must be so: that so it always had been, and so it ever
would be: and when I cowered in some obscure corner of a
crowded room, and saw men whisper, and point, and turn their
eyes towards me, I knew they were telling each other of the
doomed madman; and I slunk away again to mope in solitude.
'I did this for years; long, long years they were. The nights here
are long sometimes--very long; but they are nothing to the
restless nights, and dreadful dreams I had at that time. It makes
me cold to remember them. Large dusky forms with sly and
jeering faces crouched in the corners of the room, and bent over
my bed at night, tempting me to madness. They told me in low
whispers, that the floor of the old house in which my father died,
was stained with his own blood, shed by his own hand in raging
madness. I drove my fingers into my ears, but they screamed into
my head till the room rang with it, that in one generation before
him the madness slumbered, but that his grandfather had lived
for years with his hands fettered to the ground, to prevent his
tearing himself to pieces. I knew they told the truth--I knew it
well. I had found it out years before, though they had tried to
keep it from me. Ha! ha! I was too cunning for them, madman
as they thought me.
'At last it came upon me, and I wondered how I could ever
have feared it. I could go into the world now, and laugh and
shout with the best among them. I knew I was mad, but they did
not even suspect it. How I used to hug myself with delight, when
I thought of the fine trick I was playing them after their old
pointing and leering, when I was not mad, but only dreading that
I might one day become so! And how I used to laugh for joy,
when I was alone, and thought how well I kept my secret, and
how quickly my kind friends would have fallen from me, if they
had known the truth. I could have screamed with ecstasy when I
dined alone with some fine roaring fellow, to think how pale he
would have turned, and how fast he would have run, if he had
known that the dear friend who sat close to him, sharpening a
bright, glittering knife, was a madman with all the power, and
half the will, to plunge it in his heart. Oh, it was a merry life!
'Riches became mine, wealth poured in upon me, and I rioted
in pleasures enhanced a thousandfold to me by the consciousness
of my well-kept secret. I inherited an estate. The law--the eagleeyed
law itself--had been deceived, and had handed over disputed
thousands to a madman's hands. Where was the wit of the sharpsighted
men of sound mind? Where the dexterity of the lawyers,
eager to discover a flaw? The madman's cunning had overreached
them all.
'I had money. How I was courted! I spent it profusely. How I
was praised! How those three proud, overbearing brothers
humbled themselves before me! The old, white-headed father,
too--such deference--such respect--such devoted friendship--
he worshipped me! The old man had a daughter, and the young
men a sister; and all the five were poor. I was rich; and when I
married the girl, I saw a smile of triumph play upon the faces of
her needy relatives, as they thought of their well-planned scheme,
and their fine prize. It was for me to smile. To smile! To laugh
outright, and tear my hair, and roll upon the ground with shrieks
of merriment. They little thought they had married her to a madman.
'Stay. If they had known it, would they have saved her? A
sister's happiness against her husband's gold. The lightest feather
I blow into the air, against the gay chain that ornaments my body!
'In one thing I was deceived with all my cunning. If I had not
been mad--for though we madmen are sharp-witted enough, we
get bewildered sometimes--I should have known that the girl
would rather have been placed, stiff and cold in a dull leaden
coffin, than borne an envied bride to my rich, glittering house. I
should have known that her heart was with the dark-eyed boy
whose name I once heard her breathe in her troubled sleep; and
that she had been sacrificed to me, to relieve the poverty of the
old, white-headed man and the haughty brothers.
'I don't remember forms or faces now, but I know the girl was
beautiful. I know she was; for in the bright moonlight nights,
when I start up from my sleep, and all is quiet about me, I see,
standing still and motionless in one corner of this cell, a slight
and wasted figure with long black hair, which, streaming down
her back, stirs with no earthly wind, and eyes that fix their gaze
on me, and never wink or close. Hush! the blood chills at my
heart as I write it down--that form is HERS; the face is very pale,
and the eyes are glassy bright; but I know them well. That figure
never moves; it never frowns and mouths as others do, that fill
this place sometimes; but it is much more dreadful to me, even
than the spirits that tempted me many years ago--it comes fresh
from the grave; and is so very death-like.
'For nearly a year I saw that face grow paler; for nearly a year
I saw the tears steal down the mournful cheeks, and never knew
the cause. I found it out at last though. They could not keep it
from me long. She had never liked me; I had never thought she
did: she despised my wealth, and hated the splendour in which
she lived; but I had not expected that. She loved another. This I
had never thought of. Strange feelings came over me, and
thoughts, forced upon me by some secret power, whirled round
and round my brain. I did not hate her, though I hated the boy
she still wept for. I pitied--yes, I pitied--the wretched life to
which her cold and selfish relations had doomed her. I knew that
she could not live long; but the thought that before her death she
might give birth to some ill-fated being, destined to hand down
madness to its offspring, determined me. I resolved to kill her.
'For many weeks I thought of poison, and then of drowning,
and then of fire. A fine sight, the grand house in flames, and the
madman's wife smouldering away to cinders. Think of the jest of
a large reward, too, and of some sane man swinging in the wind
for a deed he never did, and all through a madman's cunning!
I thought often of this, but I gave it up at last. Oh! the pleasure
of stropping the razor day after day, feeling the sharp edge, and
thinking of the gash one stroke of its thin, bright edge would make!
'At last the old spirits who had been with me so often before
whispered in my ear that the time was come, and thrust the open
razor into my hand. I grasped it firmly, rose softly from the bed,
and leaned over my sleeping wife. Her face was buried in her
hands. I withdrew them softly, and they fell listlessly on her
bosom. She had been weeping; for the traces of the tears were
still wet upon her cheek. Her face was calm and placid; and even
as I looked upon it, a tranquil smile lighted up her pale features.
I laid my hand softly on her shoulder. She started--it was only a
passing dream. I leaned forward again. She screamed, and woke.
'One motion of my hand, and she would never again have
uttered cry or sound. But I was startled, and drew back. Her eyes
were fixed on mine. I knew not how it was, but they cowed and
frightened me; and I quailed beneath them. She rose from the bed,
still gazing fixedly and steadily on me. I trembled; the razor was
in my hand, but I could not move. She made towards the door.
As she neared it, she turned, and withdrew her eyes from my face.
The spell was broken. I bounded forward, and clutched her by
the arm. Uttering shriek upon shriek, she sank upon the ground.
'Now I could have killed her without a struggle; but the house
was alarmed. I heard the tread of footsteps on the stairs. I
replaced the razor in its usual drawer, unfastened the door, and
called loudly for assistance.
'They came, and raised her, and placed her on the bed. She lay bereft
of animation for hours; and when life, look, and speech returned,
her senses had deserted her, and she raved wildly and furiously.
'Doctors were called in--great men who rolled up to my door
in easy carriages, with fine horses and gaudy servants. They were
at her bedside for weeks. They had a great meeting and consulted
together in low and solemn voices in another room. One, the
cleverest and most celebrated among them, took me aside, and
bidding me prepare for the worst, told me--me, the madman!--
that my wife was mad. He stood close beside me at an open
window, his eyes looking in my face, and his hand laid upon my
arm. With one effort, I could have hurled him into the street
beneath. It would have been rare sport to have done it; but my
secret was at stake, and I let him go. A few days after, they told
me I must place her under some restraint: I must provide a
keeper for her. I! I went into the open fields where none could
hear me, and laughed till the air resounded with my shouts!
'She died next day. The white-headed old man followed her to
the grave, and the proud brothers dropped a tear over the
insensible corpse of her whose sufferings they had regarded in her
lifetime with muscles of iron. All this was food for my secret
mirth, and I laughed behind the white handkerchief which I held
up to my face, as we rode home, till the tears Came into my eyes.
'But though I had carried my object and killed her, I was
restless and disturbed, and I felt that before long my secret must
be known. I could not hide the wild mirth and joy which boiled
within me, and made me when I was alone, at home, jump up and
beat my hands together, and dance round and round, and roar
aloud. When I went out, and saw the busy crowds hurrying
about the streets; or to the theatre, and heard the sound of
music, and beheld the people dancing, I felt such glee, that I
could have rushed among them, and torn them to pieces limb
from limb, and howled in transport. But I ground my teeth, and
struck my feet upon the floor, and drove my sharp nails into my
hands. I kept it down; and no one knew I was a madman yet.
'I remember--though it's one of the last things I can remember:
for now I mix up realities with my dreams, and having so much
to do, and being always hurried here, have no time to separate
the two, from some strange confusion in which they get involved
--I remember how I let it out at last. Ha! ha! I think I see their
frightened looks now, and feel the ease with which I flung them
from me, and dashed my clenched fist into their white faces, and
then flew like the wind, and left them screaming and shouting
far behind. The strength of a giant comes upon me when I think
of it. There--see how this iron bar bends beneath my furious
wrench. I could snap it like a twig, only there are long galleries
here with many doors--I don't think I could find my way along
them; and even if I could, I know there are iron gates below
which they keep locked and barred. They know what a clever
madman I have been, and they are proud to have me here, to show.
'Let me see: yes, I had been out. It was late at night when I
reached home, and found the proudest of the three proud
brothers waiting to see me--urgent business he said: I recollect
it well. I hated that man with all a madman's hate. Many and
many a time had my fingers longed to tear him. They told me he
was there. I ran swiftly upstairs. He had a word to say to me. I
dismissed the servants. It was late, and we were alone together--
for the first time.
'I kept my eyes carefully from him at first, for I knew what he
little thought--and I gloried in the knowledge--that the light of
madness gleamed from them like fire. We sat in silence for a few
minutes. He spoke at last. My recent dissipation, and strange
remarks, made so soon after his sister's death, were an insult to
her memory. Coupling together many circumstances which had
at first escaped his observation, he thought I had not treated her
well. He wished to know whether he was right in inferring that I
meant to cast a reproach upon her memory, and a disrespect upon her
family. It was due to the uniform he wore, to demand this explanation.
'This man had a commission in the army--a commission,
purchased with my money, and his sister's misery! This was the
man who had been foremost in the plot to ensnare me, and grasp
my wealth. This was the man who had been the main instrument
in forcing his sister to wed me; well knowing that her heart was
given to that puling boy. Due to his uniform! The livery of his
degradation! I turned my eyes upon him--I could not help it--
but I spoke not a word.
'I saw the sudden change that came upon him beneath my
gaze. He was a bold man, but the colour faded from his face, and
he drew back his chair. I dragged mine nearer to him; and I
laughed--I was very merry then--I saw him shudder. I felt the
madness rising within me. He was afraid of me.
'"You were very fond of your sister when she was alive," I
'He looked uneasily round him, and I saw his hand grasp the
back of his chair; but he said nothing.
'"You villain," said I, "I found you out: I discovered your
hellish plots against me; I know her heart was fixed on some one
else before you compelled her to marry me. I know it--I know it."
'He jumped suddenly from his chair, brandished it aloft, and
bid me stand back--for I took care to be getting closer to him all
the time I spoke.
'I screamed rather than talked, for I felt tumultuous passions
eddying through my veins, and the old spirits whispering and
taunting me to tear his heart out.
'"Damn you," said I, starting up, and rushing upon him; "I
killed her. I am a madman. Down with you. Blood, blood! I will
have it!"
'I turned aside with one blow the chair he hurled at me in his
terror, and closed with him; and with a heavy crash we rolled
upon the floor together.
'It was a fine struggle that; for he was a tall, strong man,
fighting for his life; and I, a powerful madman, thirsting to
destroy him. I knew no strength could equal mine, and I was
right. Right again, though a madman! His struggles grew fainter.
I knelt upon his chest, and clasped his brawny throat firmly with
both hands. His face grew purple; his eyes were starting from his
head, and with protruded tongue, he seemed to mock me. I
squeezed the tighter.
'The door was suddenly burst open with a loud noise, and a
crowd of people rushed forward, crying aloud to each other to
secure the madman.
'My secret was out; and my only struggle now was for liberty
and freedom. I gained my feet before a hand was on me, threw
myself among my assailants, and cleared my way with my strong
arm, as if I bore a hatchet in my hand, and hewed them down
before me. I gained the door, dropped over the banisters, and in
an instant was in the street.
'Straight and swift I ran, and no one dared to stop me. I heard
the noise of the feet behind, and redoubled my speed. It grew
fainter and fainter in the distance, and at length died away
altogether; but on I bounded, through marsh and rivulet, over
fence and wall, with a wild shout which was taken up by the
strange beings that flocked around me on every side, and swelled
the sound, till it pierced the air. I was borne upon the arms of
demons who swept along upon the wind, and bore down bank
and hedge before them, and spun me round and round with a
rustle and a speed that made my head swim, until at last they
threw me from them with a violent shock, and I fell heavily upon
the earth. When I woke I found myself here--here in this gray
cell, where the sunlight seldom comes, and the moon steals in, in
rays which only serve to show the dark shadows about me, and that
silent figure in its old corner. When I lie awake, I can sometimes
hear strange shrieks and cries from distant parts of this
large place. What they are, I know not; but they neither come
from that pale form, nor does it regard them. For from the first
shades of dusk till the earliest light of morning, it still stands
motionless in the same place, listening to the music of my iron
chain, and watching my gambols on my straw bed.'
At the end of the manuscript was written, in another hand, this
[The unhappy man whose ravings are recorded above, was a
melancholy instance of the baneful results of energies
misdirected in early life, and excesses prolonged until their
consequences could never be repaired. The thoughtless riot,
dissipation, and debauchery of his younger days produced fever and
delirium. The first effects of the latter was the strange delusion,
founded upon a well-known medical theory, strongly contended
for by some, and as strongly contested by others, that an
hereditary madness existed in his family. This produced a settled
gloom, which in time developed a morbid insanity, and finally
terminated in raving madness. There is every reason to believe
that the events he detailed, though distorted in the description
by his diseased imagination, really happened. It is only matter of
wonder to those who were acquainted with the vices of his early
career, that his passions, when no longer controlled by reason,
did not lead him to the commission of still more frightful deeds.]
Mr. Pickwick's candle was just expiring in the socket, as he
concluded the perusal of the old clergyman's manuscript; and
when the light went suddenly out, without any previous flicker
by way of warning, it communicated a very considerable start to
his excited frame. Hastily throwing off such articles of clothing as
he had put on when he rose from his uneasy bed, and casting a
fearful glance around, he once more scrambled hastily between
the sheets, and soon fell fast asleep.
The sun was shining brilliantly into his chamber, when he
awoke, and the morning was far advanced. The gloom which had
oppressed him on the previous night had disappeared with the
dark shadows which shrouded the landscape, and his thoughts
and feelings were as light and gay as the morning itself. After a
hearty breakfast, the four gentlemen sallied forth to walk to
Gravesend, followed by a man bearing the stone in its deal box.
They reached the town about one o'clock (their luggage they had
directed to be forwarded to the city, from Rochester), and being
fortunate enough to secure places on the outside of a coach,
arrived in London in sound health and spirits, on that same afternoon.
The next three or four days were occupied with the preparations
which were necessary for their journey to the borough of
Eatanswill. As any references to that most important undertaking
demands a separate chapter, we may devote the few lines
which remain at the close of this, to narrate, with great brevity,
the history of the antiquarian discovery.
It appears from the Transactions of the Club, then, that Mr.
Pickwick lectured upon the discovery at a General Club Meeting,
convened on the night succeeding their return, and entered into a
variety of ingenious and erudite speculations on the meaning of
the inscription. It also appears that a skilful artist executed a
faithful delineation of the curiosity, which was engraven on
stone, and presented to the Royal Antiquarian Society, and other
learned bodies: that heart-burnings and jealousies without
number were created by rival controversies which were penned
upon the subject; and that Mr. Pickwick himself wrote a
pamphlet, containing ninety-six pages of very small print, and
twenty-seven different readings of the inscription: that three old
gentlemen cut off their eldest sons with a shilling a-piece for
presuming to doubt the antiquity of the fragment; and that one
enthusiastic individual cut himself off prematurely, in despair at
being unable to fathom its meaning: that Mr. Pickwick was
elected an honorary member of seventeen native and foreign
societies, for making the discovery: that none of the seventeen
could make anything of it; but that all the seventeen agreed it
was very extraordinary.
Mr. Blotton, indeed--and the name will be doomed to the
undying contempt of those who cultivate the mysterious and the
sublime--Mr. Blotton, we say, with the doubt and cavilling
peculiar to vulgar minds, presumed to state a view of the case, as
degrading as ridiculous. Mr. Blotton, with a mean desire to
tarnish the lustre of the immortal name of Pickwick, actually
undertook a journey to Cobham in person, and on his return,
sarcastically observed in an oration at the club, that he had seen
the man from whom the stone was purchased; that the man
presumed the stone to be ancient, but solemnly denied the
antiquity of the inscription--inasmuch as he represented it to
have been rudely carved by himself in an idle mood, and to
display letters intended to bear neither more or less than the
simple construction of--'BILL STUMPS, HIS MARK'; and
that Mr. Stumps, being little in the habit of original composition,
and more accustomed to be guided by the sound of words than
by the strict rules of orthography, had omitted the concluding
'L' of his Christian name.
The Pickwick Club (as might have been expected from so
enlightened an institution) received this statement with the contempt
it deserved, expelled the presumptuous and ill-conditioned
Blotton from the society, and voted Mr. Pickwick a pair of gold
spectacles, in token of their confidence and approbation: in
return for which, Mr. Pickwick caused a portrait of himself to
be painted, and hung up in the club room.
Mr. Blotton was ejected but not conquered. He also wrote a
pamphlet, addressed to the seventeen learned societies, native
and foreign, containing a repetition of the statement he had
already made, and rather more than half intimating his opinion
that the seventeen learned societies were so many 'humbugs.'
Hereupon, the virtuous indignation of the seventeen learned
societies being roused, several fresh pamphlets appeared; the
foreign learned societies corresponded with the native learned
societies; the native learned societies translated the pamphlets of
the foreign learned societies into English; the foreign learned
societies translated the pamphlets of the native learned societies
into all sorts of languages; and thus commenced that celebrated
scientific discussion so well known to all men, as the Pickwick
But this base attempt to injure Mr. Pickwick recoiled upon the
head of its calumnious author. The seventeen learned societies
unanimously voted the presumptuous Blotton an ignorant
meddler, and forthwith set to work upon more treatises than
ever. And to this day the stone remains, an illegible monument
of Mr. Pickwick's greatness, and a lasting trophy to the littleness
of his enemies.
Mr. Pickwick's apartments in Goswell Street, although on a
limited scale, were not only of a very neat and comfortable
description, but peculiarly adapted for the residence of a man
of his genius and observation. His sitting-room was the first-floor
front, his bedroom the second-floor front; and thus, whether he were
sitting at his desk in his parlour, or standing before the dressingglass
in his dormitory, he had an equal opportunity of contemplating
human nature in all the numerous phases it exhibits, in that not
more populous than popular thoroughfare. His landlady, Mrs. Bardell--
the relict and sole executrix of a deceased custom-house officer--was
a comely woman of bustling manners and agreeable appearance, with a
natural genius for cooking, improved by study and long practice, into
an exquisite talent. There were no children, no servants, no fowls.
The only other inmates of the house were a large man and a
small boy; the first a lodger, the second a production of Mrs.
Bardell's. The large man was always home precisely at ten
o'clock at night, at which hour he regularly condensed himself
into the limits of a dwarfish French bedstead in the back parlour;
and the infantine sports and gymnastic exercises of Master
Bardell were exclusively confined to the neighbouring pavements
and gutters. Cleanliness and quiet reigned throughout the house;
and in it Mr. Pickwick's will was law.
To any one acquainted with these points of the domestic
economy of the establishment, and conversant with the admirable
regulation of Mr. Pickwick's mind, his appearance and behaviour
on the morning previous to that which had been fixed upon for
the journey to Eatanswill would have been most mysterious and
unaccountable. He paced the room to and fro with hurried steps,
popped his head out of the window at intervals of about three
minutes each, constantly referred to his watch, and exhibited
many other manifestations of impatience very unusual with him.
It was evident that something of great importance was in
contemplation, but what that something was, not even Mrs. Bardell
had been enabled to discover.
'Mrs. Bardell,' said Mr. Pickwick, at last, as that amiable
female approached the termination of a prolonged dusting of the
'Sir,' said Mrs. Bardell.
'Your little boy is a very long time gone.'
'Why it's a good long way to the Borough, sir,' remonstrated
Mrs. Bardell.
'Ah,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'very true; so it is.'
Mr. Pickwick relapsed into silence, and Mrs. Bardell resumed
her dusting.
'Mrs. Bardell,' said Mr. Pickwick, at the expiration of a few minutes.
'Sir,' said Mrs. Bardell again.
'Do you think it a much greater expense to keep two people,
than to keep one?'
'La, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Bardell, colouring up to the very
border of her cap, as she fancied she observed a species of
matrimonial twinkle in the eyes of her lodger; 'La, Mr. Pickwick,
what a question!'
'Well, but do you?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'That depends,' said Mrs. Bardell, approaching the duster very
near to Mr. Pickwick's elbow which was planted on the table.
'that depends a good deal upon the person, you know, Mr.
Pickwick; and whether it's a saving and careful person, sir.'
'That's very true,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'but the person I have in
my eye (here he looked very hard at Mrs. Bardell) I think
possesses these qualities; and has, moreover, a considerable
knowledge of the world, and a great deal of sharpness, Mrs.
Bardell, which may be of material use to me.'
'La, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Bardell, the crimson rising to her
cap-border again.
'I do,' said Mr. Pickwick, growing energetic, as was his wont
in speaking of a subject which interested him--'I do, indeed; and
to tell you the truth, Mrs. Bardell, I have made up my mind.'
'Dear me, sir,'exclaimed Mrs. Bardell.
'You'll think it very strange now,' said the amiable Mr.
Pickwick, with a good-humoured glance at his companion, 'that
I never consulted you about this matter, and never even mentioned
it, till I sent your little boy out this morning--eh?'
Mrs. Bardell could only reply by a look. She had long worshipped
Mr. Pickwick at a distance, but here she was, all at once,
raised to a pinnacle to which her wildest and most extravagant
hopes had never dared to aspire. Mr. Pickwick was going to
propose--a deliberate plan, too--sent her little boy to the
Borough, to get him out of the way--how thoughtful--how considerate!
'Well,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'what do you think?'
'Oh, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Bardell, trembling with agitation,
'you're very kind, sir.'
'It'll save you a good deal of trouble, won't it?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Oh, I never thought anything of the trouble, sir,' replied
Mrs. Bardell; 'and, of course, I should take more trouble to
please you then, than ever; but it is so kind of you, Mr. Pickwick,
to have so much consideration for my loneliness.'
'Ah, to be sure,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'I never thought of that.
When I am in town, you'll always have somebody to sit with you.
To be sure, so you will.'
'I am sure I ought to be a very happy woman,' said Mrs. Bardell.
'And your little boy--' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Bless his heart!' interposed Mrs. Bardell, with a maternal sob.
'He, too, will have a companion,' resumed Mr. Pickwick, 'a
lively one, who'll teach him, I'll be bound, more tricks in a week
than he would ever learn in a year.' And Mr. Pickwick smiled placidly.
'Oh, you dear--' said Mrs. Bardell.
Mr. Pickwick started.
'Oh, you kind, good, playful dear,' said Mrs. Bardell; and
without more ado, she rose from her chair, and flung her arms
round Mr. Pickwick's neck, with a cataract of tears and a chorus
of sobs.
'Bless my soul,' cried the astonished Mr. Pickwick; 'Mrs.
Bardell, my good woman--dear me, what a situation--pray
consider.--Mrs. Bardell, don't--if anybody should come--'
'Oh, let them come,' exclaimed Mrs. Bardell frantically; 'I'll
never leave you --dear, kind, good soul;' and, with these words,
Mrs. Bardell clung the tighter.
'Mercy upon me,' said Mr. Pickwick, struggling violently, 'I
hear somebody coming up the stairs. Don't, don't, there's a good
creature, don't.' But entreaty and remonstrance were alike
unavailing; for Mrs. Bardell had fainted in Mr. Pickwick's arms;
and before he could gain time to deposit her on a chair, Master
Bardell entered the room, ushering in Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle,
and Mr. Snodgrass.
Mr. Pickwick was struck motionless and speechless. He stood
with his lovely burden in his arms, gazing vacantly on the
countenances of his friends, without the slightest attempt at
recognition or explanation. They, in their turn, stared at him;
and Master Bardell, in his turn, stared at everybody.
The astonishment of the Pickwickians was so absorbing, and
the perplexity of Mr. Pickwick was so extreme, that they might
have remained in exactly the same relative situations until the
suspended animation of the lady was restored, had it not been for
a most beautiful and touching expression of filial affection on the
part of her youthful son. Clad in a tight suit of corduroy,
spangled with brass buttons of a very considerable size, he at first
stood at the door astounded and uncertain; but by degrees, the
impression that his mother must have suffered some personal
damage pervaded his partially developed mind, and considering
Mr. Pickwick as the aggressor, he set up an appalling and semiearthly
kind of howling, and butting forward with his head,
commenced assailing that immortal gentleman about the back
and legs, with such blows and pinches as the strength of his arm,
and the violence of his excitement, allowed.
'Take this little villain away,' said the agonised Mr. Pickwick,
'he's mad.'
'What is the matter?' said the three tongue-tied Pickwickians.
'I don't know,' replied Mr. Pickwick pettishly. 'Take away the
boy.' (Here Mr. Winkle carried the interesting boy, screaming
and struggling, to the farther end of the apartment.) 'Now help
me, lead this woman downstairs.'
'Oh, I am better now,' said Mrs. Bardell faintly.
'Let me lead you downstairs,' said the ever-gallant Mr. Tupman.
'Thank you, sir--thank you;' exclaimed Mrs. Bardell hysterically.
And downstairs she was led accordingly, accompanied by
her affectionate son.
'I cannot conceive,' said Mr. Pickwick when his friend
returned--'I cannot conceive what has been the matter with that
woman. I had merely announced to her my intention of keeping
a man-servant, when she fell into the extraordinary paroxysm in
which you found her. Very extraordinary thing.'
'Very,' said his three friends.
'Placed me in such an extremely awkward situation,'
continued Mr. Pickwick.
'Very,' was the reply of his followers, as they coughed slightly,
and looked dubiously at each other.
This behaviour was not lost upon Mr. Pickwick. He remarked
their incredulity. They evidently suspected him.
'There is a man in the passage now,' said Mr. Tupman.
'It's the man I spoke to you about,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'I sent
for him to the Borough this morning. Have the goodness to call
him up, Snodgrass.'
Mr. Snodgrass did as he was desired; and Mr. Samuel Weller
forthwith presented himself.
'Oh--you remember me, I suppose?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'I should think so,' replied Sam, with a patronising wink.
'Queer start that 'ere, but he was one too many for you, warn't
he? Up to snuff and a pinch or two over--eh?'
'Never mind that matter now,' said Mr. Pickwick hastily;
'I want to speak to you about something else. Sit down.'
'Thank'ee, sir,' said Sam. And down he sat without further
bidding, having previously deposited his old white hat on the
landing outside the door. ''Tain't a wery good 'un to look at,'
said Sam, 'but it's an astonishin' 'un to wear; and afore the brim
went, it was a wery handsome tile. Hows'ever it's lighter without
it, that's one thing, and every hole lets in some air, that's another
--wentilation gossamer I calls it.' On the delivery of this sentiment,
Mr. Weller smiled agreeably upon the assembled Pickwickians.
'Now with regard to the matter on which I, with the concurrence
of these gentlemen, sent for you,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'That's the pint, sir,' interposed Sam; 'out vith it, as the father
said to his child, when he swallowed a farden.'
'We want to know, in the first place,' said Mr. Pickwick,
'whether you have any reason to be discontented with your present
'Afore I answers that 'ere question, gen'l'm'n,' replied Mr.
Weller, 'I should like to know, in the first place, whether you're
a-goin' to purwide me with a better?'
A sunbeam of placid benevolence played on Mr. Pickwick's
features as he said, 'I have half made up my mind to engage you
'Have you, though?' said Sam.
Mr. Pickwick nodded in the affirmative.
'Wages?' inquired Sam.
'Twelve pounds a year,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Two suits.'
'To attend upon me; and travel about with me and these
gentlemen here.'
'Take the bill down,' said Sam emphatically. 'I'm let to a
single gentleman, and the terms is agreed upon.'
'You accept the situation?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Cert'nly,' replied Sam. 'If the clothes fits me half as well as
the place, they'll do.'
'You can get a character of course?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Ask the landlady o' the White Hart about that, Sir,' replied Sam.
'Can you come this evening?'
'I'll get into the clothes this minute, if they're here,' said Sam,
with great alacrity.
'Call at eight this evening,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'and if the
inquiries are satisfactory, they shall be provided.'
With the single exception of one amiable indiscretion, in
which an assistant housemaid had equally participated, the
history of Mr. Weller's conduct was so very blameless, that Mr.
Pickwick felt fully justified in closing the engagement that very
evening. With the promptness and energy which characterised
not only the public proceedings, but all the private actions of this
extraordinary man, he at once led his new attendant to one of
those convenient emporiums where gentlemen's new and secondhand
clothes are provided, and the troublesome and inconvenient
formality of measurement dispensed with; and before night had
closed in, Mr. Weller was furnished with a grey coat with the
P. C. button, a black hat with a cockade to it, a pink striped
waistcoat, light breeches and gaiters, and a variety of other
necessaries, too numerous to recapitulate.
'Well,' said that suddenly-transformed individual, as he took
his seat on the outside of the Eatanswill coach next morning; 'I
wonder whether I'm meant to be a footman, or a groom, or a
gamekeeper, or a seedsman. I looks like a sort of compo of every
one on 'em. Never mind; there's a change of air, plenty to see,
and little to do; and all this suits my complaint uncommon; so
long life to the Pickvicks, says I!'
We will frankly acknowledge that, up to the period of our being
first immersed in the voluminous papers of the Pickwick Club, we
had never heard of Eatanswill; we will with equal candour admit that
we have in vain searched for proof of the actual existence of such
a place at the present day. Knowing the deep reliance to be placed
on every note and statement of Mr. Pickwick's, and not presuming to
set up our recollection against the recorded declarations of that great
man, we have consulted every authority, bearing upon the subject, to
which we could possibly refer. We have traced every name in
schedules A and B, without meeting with that of Eatanswill; we
have minutely examined every corner of the pocket county maps
issued for the benefit of society by our distinguished publishers,
and the same result has attended our investigation. We are
therefore led to believe that Mr. Pickwick, with that anxious
desire to abstain from giving offence to any, and with those delicate
feelings for which all who knew him well know he was so
eminently remarkable, purposely substituted a fictitious designation,
for the real name of the place in which his observations
were made. We are confirmed in this belief by a little circumstance,
apparently slight and trivial in itself, but when considered
in this point of view, not undeserving of notice. In Mr. Pickwick's
note-book, we can just trace an entry of the fact, that the
places of himself and followers were booked by the Norwich
coach; but this entry was afterwards lined through, as if for the
purpose of concealing even the direction in which the borough
is situated. We will not, therefore, hazard a guess upon the
subject, but will at once proceed with this history, content with
the materials which its characters have provided for us.
It appears, then, that the Eatanswill people, like the people of
many other small towns, considered themselves of the utmost
and most mighty importance, and that every man in Eatanswill,
conscious of the weight that attached to his example, felt himself
bound to unite, heart and soul, with one of the two great parties
that divided the town--the Blues and the Buffs. Now the Blues
lost no opportunity of opposing the Buffs, and the Buffs lost no
opportunity of opposing the Blues; and the consequence was,
that whenever the Buffs and Blues met together at public meeting,
town-hall, fair, or market, disputes and high words arose
between them. With these dissensions it is almost superfluous to
say that everything in Eatanswill was made a party question. If
the Buffs proposed to new skylight the market-place, the Blues
got up public meetings, and denounced the proceeding; if the
Blues proposed the erection of an additional pump in the High
Street, the Buffs rose as one man and stood aghast at the enormity.
There were Blue shops and Buff shops, Blue inns and Buff
inns--there was a Blue aisle and a Buff aisle in the very church itself.
Of course it was essentially and indispensably necessary that
each of these powerful parties should have its chosen organ and
representative: and, accordingly, there were two newspapers in
the town--the Eatanswill GAZETTE and the Eatanswill INDEPENDENT;
the former advocating Blue principles, and the latter conducted
on grounds decidedly Buff. Fine newspapers they were. Such
leading articles, and such spirited attacks!--'Our worthless
contemporary, the GAZETTE'--'That disgraceful and dastardly journal,
the INDEPENDENT'--'That false and scurrilous print, the INDEPENDENT'--
'That vile and slanderous calumniator, the GAZETTE;' these,
and other spirit-stirring denunciations, were strewn plentifully
over the columns of each, in every number, and excited feelings
of the most intense delight and indignation in the bosoms of the
Mr. Pickwick, with his usual foresight and sagacity, had chosen
a peculiarly desirable moment for his visit to the borough. Never
was such a contest known. The Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of
Slumkey Hall, was the Blue candidate; and Horatio Fizkin,
Esq., of Fizkin Lodge, near Eatanswill, had been prevailed upon
by his friends to stand forward on the Buff interest. The GAZETTE
warned the electors of Eatanswill that the eyes not only of
England, but of the whole civilised world, were upon them; and
the INDEPENDENT imperatively demanded to know, whether the
constituency of Eatanswill were the grand fellows they had always
taken them for, or base and servile tools, undeserving alike of
the name of Englishmen and the blessings of freedom. Never had
such a commotion agitated the town before.
It was late in the evening when Mr. Pickwick and his
companions, assisted by Sam, dismounted from the roof of the
Eatanswill coach. Large blue silk flags were flying from the
windows of the Town Arms Inn, and bills were posted in every
sash, intimating, in gigantic letters, that the Honourable Samuel
Slumkey's committee sat there daily. A crowd of idlers were
assembled in the road, looking at a hoarse man in the balcony,
who was apparently talking himself very red in the face in Mr.
Slumkey's behalf; but the force and point of whose arguments
were somewhat impaired by the perpetual beating of four large
drums which Mr. Fizkin's committee had stationed at the street
corner. There was a busy little man beside him, though, who
took off his hat at intervals and motioned to the people to cheer,
which they regularly did, most enthusiastically; and as the redfaced
gentleman went on talking till he was redder in the face
than ever, it seemed to answer his purpose quite as well as if
anybody had heard him.
The Pickwickians had no sooner dismounted than they were
surrounded by a branch mob of the honest and independent, who
forthwith set up three deafening cheers, which being responded
to by the main body (for it's not at all necessary for a crowd to
know what they are cheering about), swelled into a tremendous
roar of triumph, which stopped even the red-faced man in the balcony.
'Hurrah!' shouted the mob, in conclusion.
'One cheer more,' screamed the little fugleman in the balcony,
and out shouted the mob again, as if lungs were cast-iron, with
steel works.
'Slumkey for ever!' roared the honest and independent.
'Slumkey for ever!' echoed Mr. Pickwick, taking off his hat.
'No Fizkin!' roared the crowd.
'Certainly not!' shouted Mr. Pickwick.
'Hurrah!' And then there was another roaring, like that of a
whole menagerie when the elephant has rung the bell for the
cold meat.
'Who is Slumkey?'whispered Mr. Tupman.
'I don't know,' replied Mr. Pickwick, in the same tone. 'Hush.
Don't ask any questions. It's always best on these occasions to
do what the mob do.'
'But suppose there are two mobs?' suggested Mr. Snodgrass.
'Shout with the largest,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
Volumes could not have said more.
They entered the house, the crowd opening right and left to let
them pass, and cheering vociferously. The first object of
consideration was to secure quarters for the night.
'Can we have beds here?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, summoning
the waiter.
'Don't know, Sir,' replied the man; 'afraid we're full, sir--I'll
inquire, Sir.' Away he went for that purpose, and presently
returned, to ask whether the gentleman were 'Blue.'
As neither Mr. Pickwick nor his companions took any vital
interest in the cause of either candidate, the question was
rather a difficult one to answer. In this dilemma Mr. Pickwick
bethought himself of his new friend, Mr. Perker.
'Do you know a gentleman of the name of Perker?' inquired
Mr. Pickwick.
'Certainly, Sir; Honourable Mr. Samuel Slumkey's agent.'
'He is Blue, I think?'
'Oh, yes, Sir.'
'Then WE are Blue,' said Mr. Pickwick; but observing that the
man looked rather doubtful at this accommodating announcement,
he gave him his card, and desired him to present it to
Mr. Perker forthwith, if he should happen to be in the house.
The waiter retired; and reappearing almost immediately with a
request that Mr. Pickwick would follow him, led the way to a
large room on the first floor, where, seated at a long table
covered with books and papers, was Mr. Perker.
'Ah--ah, my dear Sir,' said the little man, advancing to meet
him; 'very happy to see you, my dear Sir, very. Pray sit down.
So you have carried your intention into effect. You have come
down here to see an election--eh?'
Mr. Pickwick replied in the affirmative.
'Spirited contest, my dear sir,' said the little man.
'I'm delighted to hear it,' said Mr. Pickwick, rubbing his
hands. 'I like to see sturdy patriotism, on whatever side it is
called forth--and so it's a spirited contest?'
'Oh, yes,' said the little man, 'very much so indeed. We have
opened all the public-houses in the place, and left our adversary
nothing but the beer-shops-masterly stroke of policy that, my
dear Sir, eh?' The little man smiled complacently, and took a
large pinch of snuff.
'And what are the probabilities as to the result of the contest?'
inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Why, doubtful, my dear Sir; rather doubtful as yet,' replied
the little man. 'Fizkin's people have got three-and-thirty voters
in the lock-up coach-house at the White Hart.'
'In the coach-house!' said Mr. Pickwick, considerably astonished
by this second stroke of policy.
'They keep 'em locked up there till they want 'em,' resumed
the little man. 'The effect of that is, you see, to prevent our
getting at them; and even if we could, it would be of no use, for
they keep them very drunk on purpose. Smart fellow Fizkin's
agent--very smart fellow indeed.'
Mr. Pickwick stared, but said nothing.
'We are pretty confident, though,' said Mr. Perker, sinking
his voice almost to a whisper. 'We had a little tea-party here, last
night--five-and-forty women, my dear sir--and gave every one
of 'em a green parasol when she went away.'
'A parasol!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Fact, my dear Sir, fact. Five-and-forty green parasols, at seven
and sixpence a-piece. All women like finery--extraordinary the
effect of those parasols. Secured all their husbands, and half their
brothers--beats stockings, and flannel, and all that sort of thing
hollow. My idea, my dear Sir, entirely. Hail, rain, or sunshine,
you can't walk half a dozen yards up the street, without
encountering half a dozen green parasols.'
Here the little man indulged in a convulsion of mirth, which
was only checked by the entrance of a third party.
This was a tall, thin man, with a sandy-coloured head inclined
to baldness, and a face in which solemn importance was blended
with a look of unfathomable profundity. He was dressed in a
long brown surtout, with a black cloth waistcoat, and drab
trousers. A double eyeglass dangled at his waistcoat; and on his
head he wore a very low-crowned hat with a broad brim.
The new-comer was introduced to Mr. Pickwick as Mr. Pott,
the editor of the Eatanswill GAZETTE. After a few preliminary
remarks, Mr. Pott turned round to Mr. Pickwick, and said with
'This contest excites great interest in the metropolis, sir?'
'I believe it does,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'To which I have reason to know,' said Pott, looking towards
Mr. Perker for corroboration--'to which I have reason to know
that my article of last Saturday in some degree contributed.'
'Not the least doubt of it,' said the little man.
'The press is a mighty engine, sir,' said Pott.
Mr. Pickwick yielded his fullest assent to the proposition.
'But I trust, sir,' said Pott, 'that I have never abused the
enormous power I wield. I trust, sir, that I have never pointed the
noble instrument which is placed in my hands, against the sacred
bosom of private life, or the tender breast of individual reputation;
I trust, sir, that I have devoted my energies to--to endeavours--
humble they may be, humble I know they are--to
instil those principles of--which--are--'
Here the editor of the Eatanswill GAZETTE, appearing to ramble,
Mr. Pickwick came to his relief, and said--
'And what, Sir,' said Pott--'what, Sir, let me ask you as an
impartial man, is the state of the public mind in London, with
reference to my contest with the INDEPENDENT?'
'Greatly excited, no doubt,' interposed Mr. Perker, with a
look of slyness which was very likely accidental.
'The contest,' said Pott, 'shall be prolonged so long as I have
health and strength, and that portion of talent with which I am
gifted. From that contest, Sir, although it may unsettle men's
minds and excite their feelings, and render them incapable for
the discharge of the everyday duties of ordinary life; from that
contest, sir, I will never shrink, till I have set my heel upon the
Eatanswill INDEPENDENT. I wish the people of London, and the
people of this country to know, sir, that they may rely upon me
--that I will not desert them, that I am resolved to stand by them,
Sir, to the last.'
'Your conduct is most noble, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick; and he
grasped the hand of the magnanimous Pott.
'You are, sir, I perceive, a man of sense and talent,' said Mr.
Pott, almost breathless with the vehemence of his patriotic
declaration. 'I am most happy, sir, to make the acquaintance of
such a man.'
'And I,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'feel deeply honoured by this
expression of your opinion. Allow me, sir, to introduce you to
my fellow-travellers, the other corresponding members of the
club I am proud to have founded.'
'I shall be delighted,' said Mr. Pott.
Mr. Pickwick withdrew, and returning with his friends,
presented them in due form to the editor of the Eatanswill GAZETTE.
'Now, my dear Pott,' said little Mr. Perker, 'the question is,
what are we to do with our friends here?'
'We can stop in this house, I suppose,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Not a spare bed in the house, my dear sir--not a single bed.'
'Extremely awkward,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Very,' said his fellow-voyagers.
'I have an idea upon this subject,' said Mr. Pott, 'which I
think may be very successfully adopted. They have two beds at
the Peacock, and I can boldly say, on behalf of Mrs. Pott, that
she will be delighted to accommodate Mr. Pickwick and any
one of his friends, if the other two gentlemen and their servant
do not object to shifting, as they best can, at the Peacock.'
After repeated pressings on the part of Mr. Pott, and repeated
protestations on that of Mr. Pickwick that he could not think of
incommoding or troubling his amiable wife, it was decided that
it was the only feasible arrangement that could be made. So it
WAS made; and after dinner together at the Town Arms, the
friends separated, Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass repairing to
the Peacock, and Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Winkle proceeding to
the mansion of Mr. Pott; it having been previously arranged
that they should all reassemble at the Town Arms in the morning,
and accompany the Honourable Samuel Slumkey's procession to
the place of nomination.
Mr. Pott's domestic circle was limited to himself and his
wife. All men whom mighty genius has raised to a proud eminence
in the world, have usually some little weakness which
appears the more conspicuous from the contrast it presents to
their general character. If Mr. Pott had a weakness, it was,
perhaps, that he was rather too submissive to the somewhat
contemptuous control and sway of his wife. We do not feel
justified in laying any particular stress upon the fact, because
on the present occasion all Mrs. Pott's most winning ways
were brought into requisition to receive the two gentlemen.
'My dear,' said Mr. Pott, 'Mr. Pickwick--Mr. Pickwick of London.'
Mrs. Pott received Mr. Pickwick's paternal grasp of the hand
with enchanting sweetness; and Mr. Winkle, who had not been
announced at all, sidled and bowed, unnoticed, in an obscure corner.
'P. my dear'--said Mrs. Pott.
'My life,' said Mr. Pott.
'Pray introduce the other gentleman.'
'I beg a thousand pardons,' said Mr. Pott. 'Permit me, Mrs.
Pott, Mr.--'
'Winkle,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Winkle,' echoed Mr. Pott; and the ceremony of introduction
was complete.
'We owe you many apologies, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'for
disturbing your domestic arrangements at so short a notice.'
'I beg you won't mention it, sir,' replied the feminine Pott,
with vivacity. 'It is a high treat to me, I assure you, to see any
new faces; living as I do, from day to day, and week to week, in
this dull place, and seeing nobody.'
'Nobody, my dear!' exclaimed Mr. Pott archly.
'Nobody but you,' retorted Mrs. Pott, with asperity.
'You see, Mr. Pickwick,' said the host in explanation of his
wife's lament, 'that we are in some measure cut off from many
enjoyments and pleasures of which we might otherwise partake.
My public station, as editor of the Eatanswill GAZETTE, the
position which that paper holds in the country, my constant
immersion in the vortex of politics--'
'P. my dear--' interposed Mrs. Pott.
'My life--' said the editor.
'I wish, my dear, you would endeavour to find some topic of
conversation in which these gentlemen might take some rational
'But, my love,' said Mr. Pott, with great humility, 'Mr.
Pickwick does take an interest in it.'
'It's well for him if he can,' said Mrs. Pott emphatically; 'I
am wearied out of my life with your politics, and quarrels with
the INDEPENDENT, and nonsense. I am quite astonished, P., at your
making such an exhibition of your absurdity.'
'But, my dear--' said Mr. Pott.
'Oh, nonsense, don't talk to me,' said Mrs. Pott. 'Do you play
ecarte, Sir?'
'I shall be very happy to learn under your tuition,' replied
Mr. Winkle.
'Well, then, draw that little table into this window, and let me
get out of hearing of those prosy politics.'
'Jane,' said Mr. Pott, to the servant who brought in candles,
'go down into the office, and bring me up the file of the GAZETTE
for eighteen hundred and twenty-six. I'll read you,' added the
editor, turning to Mr. Pickwick--'I'll just read you a few of the
leaders I wrote at that time upon the Buff job of appointing a new
tollman to the turnpike here; I rather think they'll amuse you.'
'I should like to hear them very much indeed,' said Mr. Pickwick.
Up came the file, and down sat the editor, with Mr. Pickwick
at his side.
We have in vain pored over the leaves of Mr. Pickwick's
note-book, in the hope of meeting with a general summary of
these beautiful compositions. We have every reason to believe
that he was perfectly enraptured with the vigour and freshness of
the style; indeed Mr. Winkle has recorded the fact that his eyes
were closed, as if with excess of pleasure, during the whole time
of their perusal.
The announcement of supper put a stop both to the game of
ecarte, and the recapitulation of the beauties of the Eatanswill
GAZETTE. Mrs. Pott was in the highest spirits and the most
agreeable humour. Mr. Winkle had already made considerable
progress in her good opinion, and she did not hesitate to inform
him, confidentially, that Mr. Pickwick was 'a delightful old dear.'
These terms convey a familiarity of expression, in which few of
those who were intimately acquainted with that colossal-minded
man, would have presumed to indulge. We have preserved them,
nevertheless, as affording at once a touching and a convincing
proof of the estimation in which he was held by every class of
society, and the case with which he made his way to their hearts
and feelings.
It was a late hour of the night--long after Mr. Tupman and
Mr. Snodgrass had fallen asleep in the inmost recesses of the
Peacock--when the two friends retired to rest. Slumber soon fell
upon the senses of Mr. Winkle, but his feelings had been excited,
and his admiration roused; and for many hours after sleep had
rendered him insensible to earthly objects, the face and figure of
the agreeable Mrs. Pott presented themselves again and again
to his wandering imagination.
The noise and bustle which ushered in the morning were
sufficient to dispel from the mind of the most romantic visionary
in existence, any associations but those which were immediately
connected with the rapidly-approaching election. The beating of
drums, the blowing of horns and trumpets, the shouting of men,
and tramping of horses, echoed and re--echoed through the streets
from the earliest dawn of day; and an occasional fight between
the light skirmishers of either party at once enlivened the
preparations, and agreeably diversified their character.
'Well, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, as his valet appeared at his
bedroom door, just as he was concluding his toilet; 'all alive
to-day, I suppose?'
'Reg'lar game, sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'our people's a-collecting
down at the Town Arms, and they're a-hollering themselves
hoarse already.'
'Ah,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'do they seem devoted to their party, Sam?'
'Never see such dewotion in my life, Sir.'
'Energetic, eh?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Uncommon,' replied Sam; 'I never see men eat and drink so
much afore. I wonder they ain't afeer'd o' bustin'.'
'That's the mistaken kindness of the gentry here,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Wery likely,' replied Sam briefly.
'Fine, fresh, hearty fellows they seem,' said Mr. Pickwick,
glancing from the window.
'Wery fresh,' replied Sam; 'me and the two waiters at the
Peacock has been a-pumpin' over the independent woters as
supped there last night.'
'Pumping over independent voters!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes,' said his attendant, 'every man slept vere he fell down;
we dragged 'em out, one by one, this mornin', and put 'em under
the pump, and they're in reg'lar fine order now. Shillin' a head
the committee paid for that 'ere job.'
'Can such things be!' exclaimed the astonished Mr. Pickwick.
'Lord bless your heart, sir,' said Sam, 'why where was you half
baptised?--that's nothin', that ain't.'
'Nothing?'said Mr. Pickwick.
'Nothin' at all, Sir,' replied his attendant. 'The night afore the
last day o' the last election here, the opposite party bribed the
barmaid at the Town Arms, to hocus the brandy-and-water of
fourteen unpolled electors as was a-stoppin' in the house.'
'What do you mean by "hocussing" brandy-and-water?'
inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Puttin' laud'num in it,' replied Sam. 'Blessed if she didn't
send 'em all to sleep till twelve hours arter the election was over.
They took one man up to the booth, in a truck, fast asleep, by
way of experiment, but it was no go--they wouldn't poll him; so
they brought him back, and put him to bed again.'
'Strange practices, these,' said Mr. Pickwick; half speaking to
himself and half addressing Sam.
'Not half so strange as a miraculous circumstance as happened
to my own father, at an election time, in this wery place, Sir,'
replied Sam.
'What was that?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Why, he drove a coach down here once,' said Sam; ''lection
time came on, and he was engaged by vun party to bring down
woters from London. Night afore he was going to drive up,
committee on t' other side sends for him quietly, and away he
goes vith the messenger, who shows him in;--large room--lots of
gen'l'm'n--heaps of papers, pens and ink, and all that 'ere. "Ah,
Mr. Weller," says the gen'l'm'n in the chair, "glad to see you, sir;
how are you?"--"Wery well, thank 'ee, Sir," says my father; "I
hope you're pretty middlin," says he.--"Pretty well, thank'ee, Sir,"
says the gen'l'm'n; "sit down, Mr. Weller--pray sit down, sir."
So my father sits down, and he and the gen'l'm'n looks wery
hard at each other. "You don't remember me?" said the
gen'l'm'n.--"Can't say I do," says my father.--"Oh, I know
you," says the gen'l'm'n: "know'd you when you was a boy,"
says he.--"Well, I don't remember you," says my father.--
"That's wery odd," says the gen'l'm'n."--"Wery," says my
father.--"You must have a bad mem'ry, Mr. Weller," says the
gen'l'm'n.--"Well, it is a wery bad 'un," says my father.--"I
thought so," says the gen'l'm'n. So then they pours him out a
glass of wine, and gammons him about his driving, and gets him
into a reg'lar good humour, and at last shoves a twenty-pound
note into his hand. "It's a wery bad road between this and
London," says the gen'l'm'n.--"Here and there it is a heavy
road," says my father.--" 'Specially near the canal, I think,"
says the gen'l'm'n.--"Nasty bit that 'ere," says my father.--
"Well, Mr. Weller," says the gen'l'm'n, "you're a wery good
whip, and can do what you like with your horses, we know.
We're all wery fond o' you, Mr. Weller, so in case you should have
an accident when you're bringing these here woters down, and
should tip 'em over into the canal vithout hurtin' of 'em, this is
for yourself," says he.--"Gen'l'm'n, you're wery kind," says my
father, "and I'll drink your health in another glass of wine," says
he; vich he did, and then buttons up the money, and bows
himself out. You wouldn't believe, sir,' continued Sam, with a
look of inexpressible impudence at his master, 'that on the wery
day as he came down with them woters, his coach WAS upset on
that 'ere wery spot, and ev'ry man on 'em was turned into the canal.'
'And got out again?' inquired Mr. Pickwick hastily.
'Why,' replied Sam very slowly, 'I rather think one old
gen'l'm'n was missin'; I know his hat was found, but I ain't
quite certain whether his head was in it or not. But what I look
at is the hex-traordinary and wonderful coincidence, that arter
what that gen'l'm'n said, my father's coach should be upset in
that wery place, and on that wery day!'
'it is, no doubt, a very extraordinary circumstance indeed,'
said Mr. Pickwick. 'But brush my hat, Sam, for I hear Mr. Winkle
calling me to breakfast.'
With these words Mr. Pickwick descended to the parlour,
where he found breakfast laid, and the family already assembled.
The meal was hastily despatched; each of the gentlemen's hats
was decorated with an enormous blue favour, made up by the
fair hands of Mrs. Pott herself; and as Mr. Winkle had undertaken
to escort that lady to a house-top, in the immediate
vicinity of the hustings, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Pott repaired
alone to the Town Arms, from the back window of which, one of
Mr. Slumkey's committee was addressing six small boys and one
girl, whom he dignified, at every second sentence, with the
imposing title of 'Men of Eatanswill,' whereat the six small boys
aforesaid cheered prodigiously.
The stable-yard exhibited unequivocal symptoms of the glory
and strength of the Eatanswill Blues. There was a regular army
of blue flags, some with one handle, and some with two,
exhibiting appropriate devices, in golden characters four feet high,
and stout in proportion. There was a grand band of trumpets,
bassoons, and drums, marshalled four abreast, and earning their
money, if ever men did, especially the drum-beaters, who were
very muscular. There were bodies of constables with blue staves,
twenty committee-men with blue scarfs, and a mob of voters
with blue cockades. There were electors on horseback and
electors afoot. There was an open carriage-and-four, for the
Honourable Samuel Slumkey; and there were four carriage-andpair,
for his friends and supporters; and the flags were rustling,
and the band was playing, and the constables were swearing, and
the twenty committee-men were squabbling, and the mob were
shouting, and the horses were backing, and the post-boys
perspiring; and everybody, and everything, then and there
assembled, was for the special use, behoof, honour, and renown,
of the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, one of the
candidates for the representation of the borough of Eatanswill,
in the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Loud and long were the cheers, and mighty was the rustling of
one of the blue flags, with 'Liberty of the Press' inscribed thereon,
when the sandy head of Mr. Pott was discerned in one of the
windows, by the mob beneath; and tremendous was the
enthusiasm when the Honourable Samuel Slumkey himself, in
top-boots, and a blue neckerchief, advanced and seized the hand
of the said Pott, and melodramatically testified by gestures
to the crowd, his ineffaceable obligations to the Eatanswill GAZETTE.
'Is everything ready?' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey
to Mr. Perker.
'Everything, my dear Sir,' was the little man's reply.
'Nothing has been omitted, I hope?' said the Honourable
Samuel Slumkey.
'Nothing has been left undone, my dear sir--nothing whatever.
There are twenty washed men at the street door for you to shake
hands with; and six children in arms that you're to pat on the
head, and inquire the age of; be particular about the children,
my dear sir--it has always a great effect, that sort of thing.'
'I'll take care,' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey.
'And, perhaps, my dear Sir,' said the cautious little man,
'perhaps if you could--I don't mean to say it's indispensable--
but if you could manage to kiss one of 'em, it would produce a
very great impression on the crowd.'
'Wouldn't it have as good an effect if the proposer or seconder
did that?' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey.
'Why, I am afraid it wouldn't,' replied the agent; 'if it were
done by yourself, my dear Sir, I think it would make you very popular.'
'Very well,' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, with a
resigned air, 'then it must be done. That's all.'
'Arrange the procession,' cried the twenty committee-men.
Amidst the cheers of the assembled throng, the band, and the
constables, and the committee-men, and the voters, and the
horsemen, and the carriages, took their places--each of the twohorse
vehicles being closely packed with as many gentlemen as
could manage to stand upright in it; and that assigned to Mr.
Perker, containing Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass,
and about half a dozen of the committee besides.
There was a moment of awful suspense as the procession
waited for the Honourable Samuel Slumkey to step into his
carriage. Suddenly the crowd set up a great cheering.
'He has come out,' said little Mr. Perker, greatly excited; the
more so as their position did not enable them to see what was
going forward.
Another cheer, much louder.
'He has shaken hands with the men,' cried the little agent.
Another cheer, far more vehement.
'He has patted the babies on the head,' said Mr. Perker,
trembling with anxiety.
A roar of applause that rent the air.
'He has kissed one of 'em!' exclaimed the delighted little man.
A second roar.
'He has kissed another,' gasped the excited manager.
A third roar.
'He's kissing 'em all!' screamed the enthusiastic little gentleman,
and hailed by the deafening shouts of the multitude, the
procession moved on.
How or by what means it became mixed up with the other
procession, and how it was ever extricated from the confusion
consequent thereupon, is more than we can undertake to describe,
inasmuch as Mr. Pickwick's hat was knocked over his eyes, nose,
and mouth, by one poke of a Buff flag-staff, very early in the
proceedings. He describes himself as being surrounded on every
side, when he could catch a glimpse of the scene, by angry and
ferocious countenances, by a vast cloud of dust, and by a dense
crowd of combatants. He represents himself as being forced
from the carriage by some unseen power, and being personally
engaged in a pugilistic encounter; but with whom, or how, or
why, he is wholly unable to state. He then felt himself forced up
some wooden steps by the persons from behind; and on removing
his hat, found himself surrounded by his friends, in the very
front of the left hand side of the hustings. The right was reserved
for the Buff party, and the centre for the mayor and his officers;
one of whom--the fat crier of Eatanswill--was ringing an
enormous bell, by way of commanding silence, while Mr.
Horatio Fizkin, and the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, with their
hands upon their hearts, were bowing with the utmost affability
to the troubled sea of heads that inundated the open space in
front; and from whence arose a storm of groans, and shouts,
and yells, and hootings, that would have done honour to an earthquake.
'There's Winkle,' said Mr. Tupman, pulling his friend by the sleeve.
'Where!' said Mr. Pickwick, putting on his spectacles, which
he had fortunately kept in his pocket hitherto.
'There,' said Mr. Tupman, 'on the top of that house.' And
there, sure enough, in the leaden gutter of a tiled roof, were
Mr. Winkle and Mrs. Pott, comfortably seated in a couple of
chairs, waving their handkerchiefs in token of recognition--a
compliment which Mr. Pickwick returned by kissing his hand to
the lady.
The proceedings had not yet commenced; and as an inactive
crowd is generally disposed to be jocose, this very innocent
action was sufficient to awaken their facetiousness.
'Oh, you wicked old rascal,' cried one voice, 'looking arter the
girls, are you?'
'Oh, you wenerable sinner,' cried another.
'Putting on his spectacles to look at a married 'ooman!' said a
'I see him a-winkin' at her, with his wicked old eye,' shouted a
'Look arter your wife, Pott,' bellowed a fifth--and then there
was a roar of laughter.
As these taunts were accompanied with invidious comparisons
between Mr. Pickwick and an aged ram, and several witticisms of
the like nature; and as they moreover rather tended to convey
reflections upon the honour of an innocent lady, Mr. Pickwick's
indignation was excessive; but as silence was proclaimed at the
moment, he contented himself by scorching the mob with a look
of pity for their misguided minds, at which they laughed more
boisterously than ever.
'Silence!' roared the mayor's attendants.
'Whiffin, proclaim silence,' said the mayor, with an air of
pomp befitting his lofty station. In obedience to this command the
crier performed another concerto on the bell, whereupon a
gentleman in the crowd called out 'Muffins'; which occasioned
another laugh.
'Gentlemen,' said the mayor, at as loud a pitch as he could
possibly force his voice to--'gentlemen. Brother electors of the
borough of Eatanswill. We are met here to-day for the purpose
of choosing a representative in the room of our late--'
Here the mayor was interrupted by a voice in the crowd.
'Suc-cess to the mayor!' cried the voice, 'and may he never
desert the nail and sarspan business, as he got his money by.'
This allusion to the professional pursuits of the orator was
received with a storm of delight, which, with a bell-accompaniment,
rendered the remainder of his speech inaudible, with the
exception of the concluding sentence, in which he thanked the
meeting for the patient attention with which they heard him
throughout--an expression of gratitude which elicited another
burst of mirth, of about a quarter of an hour's duration.
Next, a tall, thin gentleman, in a very stiff white neckerchief,
after being repeatedly desired by the crowd to 'send a boy home,
to ask whether he hadn't left his voice under the pillow,' begged to
nominate a fit and proper person to represent them in Parliament.
And when he said it was Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin
Lodge, near Eatanswill, the Fizkinites applauded, and the
Slumkeyites groaned, so long, and so loudly, that both he and
the seconder might have sung comic songs in lieu of speaking,
without anybody's being a bit the wiser.
The friends of Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, having had their
innings, a little choleric, pink-faced man stood forward to
propose another fit and proper person to represent the electors of
Eatanswill in Parliament; and very swimmingly the pink-faced
gentleman would have got on, if he had not been rather too
choleric to entertain a sufficient perception of the fun of the
crowd. But after a very few sentences of figurative eloquence, the
pink-faced gentleman got from denouncing those who interrupted
him in the mob, to exchanging defiances with the gentlemen
on the hustings; whereupon arose an uproar which reduced
him to the necessity of expressing his feelings by serious pantomime,
which he did, and then left the stage to his seconder, who
delivered a written speech of half an hour's length, and wouldn't
be stopped, because he had sent it all to the Eatanswill GAZETTE,
and the Eatanswill GAZETTE had already printed it, every word.
Then Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, near Eatanswill,
presented himself for the purpose of addressing the electors;
which he no sooner did, than the band employed by the Honourable
Samuel Slumkey, commenced performing with a power to
which their strength in the morning was a trifle; in return for
which, the Buff crowd belaboured the heads and shoulders of the
Blue crowd; on which the Blue crowd endeavoured to dispossess
themselves of their very unpleasant neighbours the Buff crowd;
and a scene of struggling, and pushing, and fighting, succeeded,
to which we can no more do justice than the mayor could,
although he issued imperative orders to twelve constables to
seize the ringleaders, who might amount in number to two
hundred and fifty, or thereabouts. At all these encounters,
Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, and his friends, waxed
fierce and furious; until at last Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin
Lodge, begged to ask his opponent, the Honourable Samuel
Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, whether that band played by his
consent; which question the Honourable Samuel Slumkey
declining to answer, Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge,
shook his fist in the countenance of the Honourable Samuel
Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall; upon which the Honourable Samuel
Slumkey, his blood being up, defied Horatio Fizkin, Esquire,
to mortal combat. At this violation of all known rules and
precedents of order, the mayor commanded another fantasia on
the bell, and declared that he would bring before himself, both
Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, and the Honourable
Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, and bind them over to keep
the peace. Upon this terrific denunciation, the supporters of the
two candidates interfered, and after the friends of each party had
quarrelled in pairs, for three-quarters of an hour, Horatio
Fizkin, Esquire, touched his hat to the Honourable Samuel
Slumkey; the Honourable Samuel Slumkey touched his to
Horatio Fizkin, Esquire; the band was stopped; the crowd were
partially quieted; and Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, was permitted
to proceed.
The speeches of the two candidates, though differing in every
other respect, afforded a beautiful tribute to the merit and high
worth of the electors of Eatanswill. Both expressed their opinion
that a more independent, a more enlightened, a more publicspirited,
a more noble-minded, a more disinterested set of men
than those who had promised to vote for him, never existed on
earth; each darkly hinted his suspicions that the electors in the
opposite interest had certain swinish and besotted infirmities
which rendered them unfit for the exercise of the important
duties they were called upon to discharge. Fizkin expressed his
readiness to do anything he was wanted: Slumkey, his determination
to do nothing that was asked of him. Both said that the
trade, the manufactures, the commerce, the prosperity of
Eatanswill, would ever be dearer to their hearts than any earthly
object; and each had it in his power to state, with the utmost
confidence, that he was the man who would eventually be returned.
There was a show of hands; the mayor decided in favour of the
Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall. Horatio Fizkin,
Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, demanded a poll, and a poll was fixed
accordingly. Then a vote of thanks was moved to the mayor for
his able conduct in the chair; and the mayor, devoutly wishing
that he had had a chair to display his able conduct in (for he had
been standing during the whole proceedings), returned thanks.
The processions reformed, the carriages rolled slowly through
the crowd, and its members screeched and shouted after them as
their feelings or caprice dictated.
During the whole time of the polling, the town was in a
perpetual fever of excitement. Everything was conducted on the
most liberal and delightful scale. Excisable articles were remarkably
cheap at all the public-houses; and spring vans paraded the
streets for the accommodation of voters who were seized with
any temporary dizziness in the head--an epidemic which prevailed
among the electors, during the contest, to a most alarming
extent, and under the influence of which they might frequently
be seen lying on the pavements in a state of utter insensibility. A
small body of electors remained unpolled on the very last day.
They were calculating and reflecting persons, who had not yet
been convinced by the arguments of either party, although they
had frequent conferences with each. One hour before the close
of the poll, Mr. Perker solicited the honour of a private interview
with these intelligent, these noble, these patriotic men. it was
granted. His arguments were brief but satisfactory. They went in
a body to the poll; and when they returned, the Honourable
Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, was returned also.
It is pleasant to turn from contemplating the strife and
turmoil of political existence, to the peaceful repose of
private life. Although in reality no great partisan of either side,
Mr. Pickwick was sufficiently fired with Mr. Pott's enthusiasm,
to apply his whole time and attention to the proceedings, of
which the last chapter affords a description compiled from his
own memoranda. Nor while he was thus occupied was Mr.
Winkle idle, his whole time being devoted to pleasant walks and
short country excursions with Mrs. Pott, who never failed, when
such an opportunity presented itself, to seek some relief from the
tedious monotony she so constantly complained of. The two
gentlemen being thus completely domesticated in the editor's
house, Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass were in a great measure
cast upon their own resources. Taking but little interest in public
affairs, they beguiled their time chiefly with such amusements as
the Peacock afforded, which were limited to a bagatelle-board in
the first floor, and a sequestered skittle-ground in the back yard.
In the science and nicety of both these recreations, which are far
more abstruse than ordinary men suppose, they were gradually
initiated by Mr. Weller, who possessed a perfect knowledge of
such pastimes. Thus, notwithstanding that they were in a great
measure deprived of the comfort and advantage of Mr. Pickwick's
society, they were still enabled to beguile the time, and to
prevent its hanging heavily on their hands.
It was in the evening, however, that the Peacock presented
attractions which enabled the two friends to resist even the
invitations of the gifted, though prosy, Pott. It was in the evening
that the 'commercial room' was filled with a social circle, whose
characters and manners it was the delight of Mr. Tupman to
observe; whose sayings and doings it was the habit of Mr.
Snodgrass to note down.
Most people know what sort of places commercial rooms
usually are. That of the Peacock differed in no material respect
from the generality of such apartments; that is to say, it was a
large, bare-looking room, the furniture of which had no doubt
been better when it was newer, with a spacious table in the centre,
and a variety of smaller dittos in the corners; an extensive
assortment of variously shaped chairs, and an old Turkey carpet,
bearing about the same relative proportion to the size of the
room, as a lady's pocket-handkerchief might to the floor of a
watch-box. The walls were garnished with one or two large
maps; and several weather-beaten rough greatcoats, with
complicated capes, dangled from a long row of pegs in one
corner. The mantel-shelf was ornamented with a wooden inkstand,
containing one stump of a pen and half a wafer; a roadbook
and directory; a county history minus the cover; and the
mortal remains of a trout in a glass coffin. The atmosphere was
redolent of tobacco-smoke, the fumes of which had communicated
a rather dingy hue to the whole room, and more especially
to the dusty red curtains which shaded the windows. On the
sideboard a variety of miscellaneous articles were huddled
together, the most conspicuous of which were some very cloudy
fish-sauce cruets, a couple of driving-boxes, two or three whips,
and as many travelling shawls, a tray of knives and forks, and
the mustard.
Here it was that Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass were seated
on the evening after the conclusion of the election, with several
other temporary inmates of the house, smoking and drinking.
'Well, gents,' said a stout, hale personage of about forty, with
only one eye--a very bright black eye, which twinkled with a
roguish expression of fun and good-humour, 'our noble selves,
gents. I always propose that toast to the company, and drink
Mary to myself. Eh, Mary!'
'Get along with you, you wretch,' said the hand-maiden,
obviously not ill-pleased with the compliment, however.
'Don't go away, Mary,' said the black-eyed man.
'Let me alone, imperence,' said the young lady.
'Never mind,' said the one-eyed man, calling after the girl as
she left the room. 'I'll step out by and by, Mary. Keep your
spirits up, dear.' Here he went through the not very difficult
process of winking upon the company with his solitary eye, to
the enthusiastic delight of an elderly personage with a dirty face
and a clay pipe.
'Rum creeters is women,' said the dirty-faced man, after a pause.
'Ah! no mistake about that,' said a very red-faced man,
behind a cigar.
After this little bit of philosophy there was another pause.
'There's rummer things than women in this world though,
mind you,' said the man with the black eye, slowly filling a large
Dutch pipe, with a most capacious bowl.
'Are you married?' inquired the dirty-faced man.
'Can't say I am.'
'I thought not.' Here the dirty-faced man fell into ecstasies of
mirth at his own retort, in which he was joined by a man of
bland voice and placid countenance, who always made it a point
to agree with everybody.
'Women, after all, gentlemen,' said the enthusiastic Mr.
Snodgrass, 'are the great props and comforts of our existence.'
'So they are,' said the placid gentleman.
'When they're in a good humour,' interposed the dirty-faced man.
'And that's very true,' said the placid one.
'I repudiate that qualification,' said Mr. Snodgrass, whose
thoughts were fast reverting to Emily Wardle. 'I repudiate it
with disdain--with indignation. Show me the man who says
anything against women, as women, and I boldly declare he is
not a man.' And Mr. Snodgrass took his cigar from his mouth,
and struck the table violently with his clenched fist.
'That's good sound argument,' said the placid man.
'Containing a position which I deny,' interrupted he of the
dirty countenance.
'And there's certainly a very great deal of truth in what you
observe too, Sir,' said the placid gentleman.
'Your health, Sir,' said the bagman with the lonely eye,
bestowing an approving nod on Mr. Snodgrass.
Mr. Snodgrass acknowledged the compliment.
'I always like to hear a good argument,'continued the bagman,
'a sharp one, like this: it's very improving; but this little argument
about women brought to my mind a story I have heard an
old uncle of mine tell, the recollection of which, just now, made
me say there were rummer things than women to be met with, sometimes.'
'I should like to hear that same story,' said the red-faced man
with the cigar.
'Should you?' was the only reply of the bagman, who
continued to smoke with great vehemence.
'So should I,' said Mr. Tupman, speaking for the first time.
He was always anxious to increase his stock of experience.
'Should YOU? Well then, I'll tell it. No, I won't. I know you
won't believe it,' said the man with the roguish eye, making that
organ look more roguish than ever.
'If you say it's true, of course I shall,' said Mr. Tupman.
'Well, upon that understanding I'll tell you,' replied the
traveller. 'Did you ever hear of the great commercial house of
Bilson & Slum? But it doesn't matter though, whether you did or
not, because they retired from business long since. It's eighty
years ago, since the circumstance happened to a traveller for
that house, but he was a particular friend of my uncle's; and
my uncle told the story to me. It's a queer name; but he used to
call it
and he used to tell it, something in this way.
'One winter's evening, about five o'clock, just as it began to
grow dusk, a man in a gig might have been seen urging his tired
horse along the road which leads across Marlborough Downs, in
the direction of Bristol. I say he might have been seen, and I have
no doubt he would have been, if anybody but a blind man had
happened to pass that way; but the weather was so bad, and the
night so cold and wet, that nothing was out but the water, and
so the traveller jogged along in the middle of the road, lonesome
and dreary enough. If any bagman of that day could have caught
sight of the little neck-or-nothing sort of gig, with a claycoloured
body and red wheels, and the vixenish, ill tempered,
fast-going bay mare, that looked like a cross between a butcher's
horse and a twopenny post-office pony, he would have known at
once, that this traveller could have been no other than Tom
Smart, of the great house of Bilson and Slum, Cateaton Street,
City. However, as there was no bagman to look on, nobody
knew anything at all about the matter; and so Tom Smart and
his clay-coloured gig with the red wheels, and the vixenish mare
with the fast pace, went on together, keeping the secret among
them, and nobody was a bit the wiser.
'There are many pleasanter places even in this dreary world,
than Marlborough Downs when it blows hard; and if you throw
in beside, a gloomy winter's evening, a miry and sloppy road, and
a pelting fall of heavy rain, and try the effect, by way of experiment,
in your own proper person, you will experience the full
force of this observation.
'The wind blew--not up the road or down it, though that's
bad enough, but sheer across it, sending the rain slanting down
like the lines they used to rule in the copy-books at school, to
make the boys slope well. For a moment it would die away, and
the traveller would begin to delude himself into the belief that,
exhausted with its previous fury, it had quietly laid itself down
to rest, when, whoo! he could hear it growling and whistling in
the distance, and on it would come rushing over the hill-tops, and
sweeping along the plain, gathering sound and strength as it
drew nearer, until it dashed with a heavy gust against horse and
man, driving the sharp rain into their ears, and its cold damp
breath into their very bones; and past them it would scour, far,
far away, with a stunning roar, as if in ridicule of their weakness,
and triumphant in the consciousness of its own strength and power.
'The bay mare splashed away, through the mud and water,
with drooping ears; now and then tossing her head as if to
express her disgust at this very ungentlemanly behaviour of the
elements, but keeping a good pace notwithstanding, until a gust
of wind, more furious than any that had yet assailed them,
caused her to stop suddenly and plant her four feet firmly against
the ground, to prevent her being blown over. It's a special mercy
that she did this, for if she HAD been blown over, the vixenish
mare was so light, and the gig was so light, and Tom Smart such
a light weight into the bargain, that they must infallibly have all
gone rolling over and over together, until they reached the
confines of earth, or until the wind fell; and in either case the
probability is, that neither the vixenish mare, nor the claycoloured
gig with the red wheels, nor Tom Smart, would ever
have been fit for service again.
'"Well, damn my straps and whiskers," says Tom Smart
(Tom sometimes had an unpleasant knack of swearing)--
"damn my straps and whiskers," says Tom, "if this ain't
pleasant, blow me!"
'You'll very likely ask me why, as Tom Smart had been pretty
well blown already, he expressed this wish to be submitted to the
same process again. I can't say--all I know is, that Tom Smart
said so--or at least he always told my uncle he said so, and it's
just the same thing.
"'Blow me," says Tom Smart; and the mare neighed as if she
were precisely of the same opinion.
"'Cheer up, old girl," said Tom, patting the bay mare on the
neck with the end of his whip. "It won't do pushing on, such a
night as this; the first house we come to we'll put up at, so the
faster you go the sooner it's over. Soho, old girl--gently--gently."
'Whether the vixenish mare was sufficiently well acquainted
with the tones of Tom's voice to comprehend his meaning, or
whether she found it colder standing still than moving on, of
course I can't say. But I can say that Tom had no sooner finished
speaking, than she pricked up her ears, and started forward at a
speed which made the clay-coloured gig rattle until you would
have supposed every one of the red spokes were going to fly out
on the turf of Marlborough Downs; and even Tom, whip as he
was, couldn't stop or check her pace, until she drew up of her
own accord, before a roadside inn on the right-hand side of the
way, about half a quarter of a mile from the end of the Downs.
'Tom cast a hasty glance at the upper part of the house as he
threw the reins to the hostler, and stuck the whip in the box. It
was a strange old place, built of a kind of shingle, inlaid, as it
were, with cross-beams, with gabled-topped windows projecting
completely over the pathway, and a low door with a dark porch,
and a couple of steep steps leading down into the house, instead
of the modern fashion of half a dozen shallow ones leading up to
it. It was a comfortable-looking place though, for there was a
strong, cheerful light in the bar window, which shed a bright ray
across the road, and even lighted up the hedge on the other side;
and there was a red flickering light in the opposite window, one
moment but faintly discernible, and the next gleaming strongly
through the drawn curtains, which intimated that a rousing fire
was blazing within. Marking these little evidences with the eye of
an experienced traveller, Tom dismounted with as much agility
as his half-frozen limbs would permit, and entered the house.
'In less than five minutes' time, Tom was ensconced in the
room opposite the bar--the very room where he had imagined
the fire blazing--before a substantial, matter-of-fact, roaring
fire, composed of something short of a bushel of coals, and wood
enough to make half a dozen decent gooseberry bushes, piled
half-way up the chimney, and roaring and crackling with a
sound that of itself would have warmed the heart of any reasonable
man. This was comfortable, but this was not all; for a
smartly-dressed girl, with a bright eye and a neat ankle, was
laying a very clean white cloth on the table; and as Tom sat with
his slippered feet on the fender, and his back to the open door, he
saw a charming prospect of the bar reflected in the glass over the
chimney-piece, with delightful rows of green bottles and gold
labels, together with jars of pickles and preserves, and cheeses
and boiled hams, and rounds of beef, arranged on shelves in the
most tempting and delicious array. Well, this was comfortable
too; but even this was not all--for in the bar, seated at tea at the
nicest possible little table, drawn close up before the brightest
possible little fire, was a buxom widow of somewhere about
eight-and-forty or thereabouts, with a face as comfortable as the
bar, who was evidently the landlady of the house, and the
supreme ruler over all these agreeable possessions. There was
only one drawback to the beauty of the whole picture, and that
was a tall man--a very tall man--in a brown coat and bright
basket buttons, and black whiskers and wavy black hair, who
was seated at tea with the widow, and who it required no great
penetration to discover was in a fair way of persuading her to be
a widow no longer, but to confer upon him the privilege of
sitting down in that bar, for and during the whole remainder of
the term of his natural life.
'Tom Smart was by no means of an irritable or envious
disposition, but somehow or other the tall man with the brown
coat and the bright basket buttons did rouse what little gall he
had in his composition, and did make him feel extremely indignant,
the more especially as he could now and then observe, from
his seat before the glass, certain little affectionate familiarities
passing between the tall man and the widow, which sufficiently
denoted that the tall man was as high in favour as he was in size.
Tom was fond of hot punch--I may venture to say he was VERY
fond of hot punch--and after he had seen the vixenish mare well
fed and well littered down, and had eaten every bit of the nice
little hot dinner which the widow tossed up for him with her
own hands, he just ordered a tumbler of it by way of experiment.
Now, if there was one thing in the whole range of domestic art,
which the widow could manufacture better than another, it was
this identical article; and the first tumbler was adapted to Tom
Smart's taste with such peculiar nicety, that he ordered a second
with the least possible delay. Hot punch is a pleasant thing,
gentlemen--an extremely pleasant thing under any circumstances
--but in that snug old parlour, before the roaring fire, with the
wind blowing outside till every timber in the old house creaked
again, Tom Smart found it perfectly delightful. He ordered
another tumbler, and then another--I am not quite certain
whether he didn't order another after that--but the more he
drank of the hot punch, the more he thought of the tall man.
'"Confound his impudence!" said Tom to himself, "what
business has he in that snug bar? Such an ugly villain too!" said
Tom. "If the widow had any taste, she might surely pick up some
better fellow than that." Here Tom's eye wandered from the glass
on the chimney-piece to the glass on the table; and as he felt
himself becoming gradually sentimental, he emptied the fourth
tumbler of punch and ordered a fifth.
'Tom Smart, gentlemen, had always been very much attached
to the public line. It had been long his ambition to stand in a bar
of his own, in a green coat, knee-cords, and tops. He had a great
notion of taking the chair at convivial dinners, and he had often
thought how well he could preside in a room of his own in the
talking way, and what a capital example he could set to his
customers in the drinking department. All these things passed
rapidly through Tom's mind as he sat drinking the hot punch by
the roaring fire, and he felt very justly and properly indignant
that the tall man should be in a fair way of keeping such an
excellent house, while he, Tom Smart, was as far off from it as
ever. So, after deliberating over the two last tumblers, whether he
hadn't a perfect right to pick a quarrel with the tall man for
having contrived to get into the good graces of the buxom widow,
Tom Smart at last arrived at the satisfactory conclusion that he
was a very ill-used and persecuted individual, and had better go
to bed.
'Up a wide and ancient staircase the smart girl preceded Tom,
shading the chamber candle with her hand, to protect it from the
currents of air which in such a rambling old place might have
found plenty of room to disport themselves in, without blowing
the candle out, but which did blow it out nevertheless--thus
affording Tom's enemies an opportunity of asserting that it was
he, and not the wind, who extinguished the candle, and that
while he pretended to be blowing it alight again, he was in fact
kissing the girl. Be this as it may, another light was obtained, and
Tom was conducted through a maze of rooms, and a labyrinth
of passages, to the apartment which had been prepared for his
reception, where the girl bade him good-night and left him alone.
'It was a good large room with big closets, and a bed which
might have served for a whole boarding-school, to say nothing of
a couple of oaken presses that would have held the baggage of a
small army; but what struck Tom's fancy most was a strange,
grim-looking, high backed chair, carved in the most fantastic
manner, with a flowered damask cushion, and the round knobs
at the bottom of the legs carefully tied up in red cloth, as if it
had got the gout in its toes. Of any other queer chair, Tom would
only have thought it was a queer chair, and there would have
been an end of the matter; but there was something about this
particular chair, and yet he couldn't tell what it was, so odd and
so unlike any other piece of furniture he had ever seen, that it
seemed to fascinate him. He sat down before the fire, and stared
at the old chair for half an hour.--Damn the chair, it was such
a strange old thing, he couldn't take his eyes off it.
"'Well," said Tom, slowly undressing himself, and staring at
the old chair all the while, which stood with a mysterious aspect
by the bedside, "I never saw such a rum concern as that in my
days. Very odd," said Tom, who had got rather sage with the hot
punch--'very odd." Tom shook his head with an air of profound
wisdom, and looked at the chair again. He couldn't make
anything of it though, so he got into bed, covered himself up
warm, and fell asleep.
'In about half an hour, Tom woke up with a start, from a
confused dream of tall men and tumblers of punch; and the first
object that presented itself to his waking imagination was the
queer chair.
'"I won't look at it any more," said Tom to himself, and he
squeezed his eyelids together, and tried to persuade himself he
was going to sleep again. No use; nothing but queer chairs
danced before his eyes, kicking up their legs, jumping over each
other's backs, and playing all kinds of antics.
"'I may as well see one real chair, as two or three complete
sets of false ones," said Tom, bringing out his head from under
the bedclothes. There it was, plainly discernible by the light of
the fire, looking as provoking as ever.
'Tom gazed at the chair; and, suddenly as he looked at it, a
most extraordinary change seemed to come over it. The carving
of the back gradually assumed the lineaments and expression of
an old, shrivelled human face; the damask cushion became an
antique, flapped waistcoat; the round knobs grew into a couple
of feet, encased in red cloth slippers; and the whole chair looked
like a very ugly old man, of the previous century, with his arms
akimbo. Tom sat up in bed, and rubbed his eyes to dispel the
illusion. No. The chair was an ugly old gentleman; and what
was more, he was winking at Tom Smart.
'Tom was naturally a headlong, careless sort of dog, and he
had had five tumblers of hot punch into the bargain; so, although
he was a little startled at first, he began to grow rather indignant
when he saw the old gentleman winking and leering at him with
such an impudent air. At length he resolved that he wouldn't
stand it; and as the old face still kept winking away as fast as
ever, Tom said, in a very angry tone--
'"What the devil are you winking at me for?"
'"Because I like it, Tom Smart," said the chair; or the old
gentleman, whichever you like to call him. He stopped winking
though, when Tom spoke, and began grinning like a
superannuated monkey.
'"How do you know my name, old nut-cracker face?"
inquired Tom Smart, rather staggered; though he pretended to
carry it off so well.
'"Come, come, Tom," said the old gentleman, "that's not the
way to address solid Spanish mahogany. Damme, you couldn't
treat me with less respect if I was veneered." When the old
gentleman said this, he looked so fierce that Tom began to
grow frightened.
'"I didn't mean to treat you with any disrespect, Sir," said
Tom, in a much humbler tone than he had spoken in at first.
'"Well, well," said the old fellow, "perhaps not--perhaps
not. Tom--"
'"I know everything about you, Tom; everything. You're
very poor, Tom."
'"I certainly am," said Tom Smart. "But how came you to
know that?"
'"Never mind that," said the old gentleman; "you're much
too fond of punch, Tom."
'Tom Smart was just on the point of protesting that he hadn't
tasted a drop since his last birthday, but when his eye encountered
that of the old gentleman he looked so knowing that Tom
blushed, and was silent.
'"Tom," said the old gentleman, "the widow's a fine woman--
remarkably fine woman--eh, Tom?" Here the old fellow
screwed up his eyes, cocked up one of his wasted little legs, and
looked altogether so unpleasantly amorous, that Tom was quite
disgusted with the levity of his behaviour--at his time of life, too!
'"I am her guardian, Tom," said the old gentleman.
'"Are you?" inquired Tom Smart.
'"I knew her mother, Tom," said the old fellow: "and her
grandmother. She was very fond of me--made me this waistcoat, Tom."
'"Did she?" said Tom Smart.
'"And these shoes," said the old fellow, lifting up one of the
red cloth mufflers; "but don't mention it, Tom. I shouldn't like to
have it known that she was so much attached to me. It might
occasion some unpleasantness in the family." When the old
rascal said this, he looked so extremely impertinent, that, as
Tom Smart afterwards declared, he could have sat upon him
without remorse.
'"I have been a great favourite among the women in my time,
Tom," said the profligate old debauchee; "hundreds of fine
women have sat in my lap for hours together. What do you think
of that, you dog, eh!" The old gentleman was proceeding to
recount some other exploits of his youth, when he was seized
with such a violent fit of creaking that he was unable to proceed.
'"Just serves you right, old boy," thought Tom Smart; but he
didn't say anything.
'"Ah!" said the old fellow, "I am a good deal troubled with
this now. I am getting old, Tom, and have lost nearly all my rails.
I have had an operation performed, too--a small piece let into
my back--and I found it a severe trial, Tom."
'"I dare say you did, Sir," said Tom Smart.
'"However," said the old gentleman, "that's not the point.
Tom! I want you to marry the widow."
'"Me, Sir!" said Tom.
'"You," said the old gentleman.
'"Bless your reverend locks," said Tom (he had a few scattered
horse-hairs left)--"bless your reverend locks, she wouldn't have
me." And Tom sighed involuntarily, as he thought of the bar.
'"Wouldn't she?" said the old gentleman firmly.
'"No, no," said Tom; "there's somebody else in the wind. A
tall man--a confoundedly tall man--with black whiskers."
'"Tom," said the old gentleman; "she will never have him."
'"Won't she?" said Tom. "If you stood in the bar, old
gentleman, you'd tell another story."
'"Pooh, pooh," said the old gentleman. "I know all about that. "
'"About what?" said Tom.
'"The kissing behind the door, and all that sort of thing,
Tom," said the old gentleman. And here he gave another
impudent look, which made Tom very wroth, because as you all
know, gentlemen, to hear an old fellow, who ought to know
better, talking about these things, is very unpleasant--nothing
more so.
'"I know all about that, Tom," said the old gentleman. "I
have seen it done very often in my time, Tom, between more
people than I should like to mention to you; but it never came to
anything after all."
'"You must have seen some queer things," said Tom, with an
inquisitive look.
'"You may say that, Tom," replied the old fellow, with a very
complicated wink. "I am the last of my family, Tom," said the
old gentleman, with a melancholy sigh.
'"Was it a large one?" inquired Tom Smart.
'"There were twelve of us, Tom," said the old gentleman;
"fine, straight-backed, handsome fellows as you'd wish to see.
None of your modern abortions--all with arms, and with a
degree of polish, though I say it that should not, which it would
have done your heart good to behold."
'"And what's become of the others, Sir?" asked Tom Smart--
'The old gentleman applied his elbow to his eye as he replied,
"Gone, Tom, gone. We had hard service, Tom, and they hadn't
all my constitution. They got rheumatic about the legs and arms,
and went into kitchens and other hospitals; and one of 'em, with
long service and hard usage, positively lost his senses--he got
so crazy that he was obliged to be burnt. Shocking thing that, Tom."
'"Dreadful!" said Tom Smart.
'The old fellow paused for a few minutes, apparently struggling
with his feelings of emotion, and then said--
'"However, Tom, I am wandering from the point. This tall
man, Tom, is a rascally adventurer. The moment he married the
widow, he would sell off all the furniture, and run away. What
would be the consequence? She would be deserted and reduced
to ruin, and I should catch my death of cold in some broker's shop."
'"Yes, but--"
'"Don't interrupt me," said the old gentleman. "Of you, Tom,
I entertain a very different opinion; for I well know that if you
once settled yourself in a public-house, you would never leave it,
as long as there was anything to drink within its walls."
'"I am very much obliged to you for your good opinion, Sir,"
said Tom Smart.
'"Therefore," resumed the old gentleman, in a dictatorial
tone, "you shall have her, and he shall not."
'"What is to prevent it?" said Tom Smart eagerly.
'"This disclosure," replied the old gentleman; "he is already married."
'"How can I prove it?" said Tom, starting half out of bed.
'The old gentleman untucked his arm from his side, and having
pointed to one of the oaken presses, immediately replaced it, in
its old position.
'"He little thinks," said the old gentleman, "that in the righthand
pocket of a pair of trousers in that press, he has left a letter,
entreating him to return to his disconsolate wife, with six--mark
me, Tom--six babes, and all of them small ones."
'As the old gentleman solemnly uttered these words, his
features grew less and less distinct, and his figure more shadowy.
A film came over Tom Smart's eyes. The old man seemed
gradually blending into the chair, the damask waistcoat to
resolve into a cushion, the red slippers to shrink into little red
cloth bags. The light faded gently away, and Tom Smart fell
back on his pillow, and dropped asleep.
'Morning aroused Tom from the lethargic slumber, into
which he had fallen on the disappearance of the old man. He sat
up in bed, and for some minutes vainly endeavoured to recall the
events of the preceding night. Suddenly they rushed upon him.
He looked at the chair; it was a fantastic and grim-looking piece
of furniture, certainly, but it must have been a remarkably
ingenious and lively imagination, that could have discovered any
resemblance between it and an old man.
'"How are you, old boy?" said Tom. He was bolder in the
daylight--most men are.
'The chair remained motionless, and spoke not a word.
'"Miserable morning," said Tom. No. The chair would not be
drawn into conversation.
'"Which press did you point to?--you can tell me that," said
Tom. Devil a word, gentlemen, the chair would say.
'"It's not much trouble to open it, anyhow," said Tom,
getting out of bed very deliberately. He walked up to one of the
presses. The key was in the lock; he turned it, and opened the
door. There was a pair of trousers there. He put his hand into the
pocket, and drew forth the identical letter the old gentleman
had described!
'"Queer sort of thing, this," said Tom Smart, looking first at
the chair and then at the press, and then at the letter, and then at
the chair again. "Very queer," said Tom. But, as there was
nothing in either, to lessen the queerness, he thought he might as
well dress himself, and settle the tall man's business at once--
just to put him out of his misery.
'Tom surveyed the rooms he passed through, on his way
downstairs, with the scrutinising eye of a landlord; thinking it
not impossible, that before long, they and their contents would
be his property. The tall man was standing in the snug little
bar, with his hands behind him, quite at home. He grinned
vacantly at Tom. A casual observer might have supposed he did
it, only to show his white teeth; but Tom Smart thought that a
consciousness of triumph was passing through the place where
the tall man's mind would have been, if he had had any. Tom
laughed in his face; and summoned the landlady.
'"Good-morning ma'am," said Tom Smart, closing the door
of the little parlour as the widow entered.
'"Good-morning, Sir," said the widow. "What will you take
for breakfast, sir?"
'Tom was thinking how he should open the case, so he made
no answer.
'"There's a very nice ham," said the widow, "and a beautiful
cold larded fowl. Shall I send 'em in, Sir?"
'These words roused Tom from his reflections. His admiration
of the widow increased as she spoke. Thoughtful creature!
Comfortable provider!
'"Who is that gentleman in the bar, ma'am?" inquired Tom.
'"His name is Jinkins, Sir," said the widow, slightly blushing.
'"He's a tall man," said Tom.
'"He is a very fine man, Sir," replied the widow, "and a very
nice gentleman."
'"Ah!" said Tom.
'"Is there anything more you want, Sir?" inquired the widow,
rather puzzled by Tom's manner.
'"Why, yes," said Tom. "My dear ma'am, will you have the
kindness to sit down for one moment?"
'The widow looked much amazed, but she sat down, and Tom
sat down too, close beside her. I don't know how it happened,
gentlemen--indeed my uncle used to tell me that Tom Smart said
he didn't know how it happened either--but somehow or other
the palm of Tom's hand fell upon the back of the widow's hand,
and remained there while he spoke.
'"My dear ma'am," said Tom Smart--he had always a great
notion of committing the amiable--"my dear ma'am, you
deserve a very excellent husband--you do indeed."
'"Lor, Sir!" said the widow--as well she might; Tom's mode
of commencing the conversation being rather unusual, not to
say startling; the fact of his never having set eyes upon her
before the previous night being taken into consideration. "Lor, Sir!"
'"I scorn to flatter, my dear ma'am," said Tom Smart. "You
deserve a very admirable husband, and whoever he is, he'll be a
very lucky man." As Tom said this, his eye involuntarily wandered
from the widow's face to the comfort around him.
'The widow looked more puzzled than ever, and made an effort
to rise. Tom gently pressed her hand, as if to detain her, and she
kept her seat. Widows, gentlemen, are not usually timorous, as
my uncle used to say.
'"I am sure I am very much obliged to you, Sir, for your good
opinion," said the buxom landlady, half laughing; "and if ever I
marry again--"
'"IF," said Tom Smart, looking very shrewdly out of the righthand
corner of his left eye. "IF--"
"'Well," said the widow, laughing outright this time, "WHEN
I do, I hope I shall have as good a husband as you describe."
'"Jinkins, to wit," said Tom.
'"Lor, sir!" exclaimed the widow.
'"Oh, don't tell me," said Tom, "I know him."
'"I am sure nobody who knows him, knows anything bad of
him," said the widow, bridling up at the mysterious air with
which Tom had spoken.
'"Hem!" said Tom Smart.
'The widow began to think it was high time to cry, so she took
out her handkerchief, and inquired whether Tom wished to
insult her, whether he thought it like a gentleman to take away
the character of another gentleman behind his back, why, if he
had got anything to say, he didn't say it to the man, like a man,
instead of terrifying a poor weak woman in that way; and
so forth.
'"I'll say it to him fast enough," said Tom, "only I want you
to hear it first."
'"What is it?" inquired the widow, looking intently in Tom's
'"I'll astonish you," said Tom, putting his hand in his pocket.
'"If it is, that he wants money," said the widow, "I know that
already, and you needn't trouble yourself."
'"Pooh, nonsense, that's nothing," said Tom Smart, "I want
money. 'Tain't that."
'"Oh, dear, what can it be?" exclaimed the poor widow.
'"Don't be frightened," said Tom Smart. He slowly drew
forth the letter, and unfolded it. "You won't scream?" said Tom
'"No, no," replied the widow; "let me see it."
'"You won't go fainting away, or any of that nonsense?"
said Tom.
'"No, no," returned the widow hastily.
'"And don't run out, and blow him up," said Tom; "because
I'll do all that for you. You had better not exert yourself."
'"Well, well," said the widow, "let me see it."
'"I will," replied Tom Smart; and, with these words, he placed
the letter in the widow's hand.
'Gentlemen, I have heard my uncle say, that Tom Smart said
the widow's lamentations when she heard the disclosure would
have pierced a heart of stone. Tom was certainly very tenderhearted,
but they pierced his, to the very core. The widow rocked
herself to and fro, and wrung her hands.
'"Oh, the deception and villainy of the man!" said the widow.
'"Frightful, my dear ma'am; but compose yourself," said
Tom Smart.
'"Oh, I can't compose myself," shrieked the widow. "I shall
never find anyone else I can love so much!"
'"Oh, yes you will, my dear soul," said Tom Smart, letting fall
a shower of the largest-sized tears, in pity for the widow's
misfortunes. Tom Smart, in the energy of his compassion, had
put his arm round the widow's waist; and the widow, in a passion
of grief, had clasped Tom's hand. She looked up in Tom's face,
and smiled through her tears. Tom looked down in hers, and
smiled through his.
'I never could find out, gentlemen, whether Tom did or did not
kiss the widow at that particular moment. He used to tell my
uncle he didn't, but I have my doubts about it. Between ourselves,
gentlemen, I rather think he did.
'At all events, Tom kicked the very tall man out at the front
door half an hour later, and married the widow a month after.
And he used to drive about the country, with the clay-coloured
gig with the red wheels, and the vixenish mare with the fast pace,
till he gave up business many years afterwards, and went to
France with his wife; and then the old house was pulled down.'
'Will you allow me to ask you,' said the inquisitive old gentleman,
'what became of the chair?'
'Why,' replied the one-eyed bagman, 'it was observed to creak
very much on the day of the wedding; but Tom Smart couldn't
say for certain whether it was with pleasure or bodily infirmity.
He rather thought it was the latter, though, for it never spoke
'Everybody believed the story, didn't they?' said the dirtyfaced
man, refilling his pipe.
'Except Tom's enemies,' replied the bagman. 'Some of 'em
said Tom invented it altogether; and others said he was drunk
and fancied it, and got hold of the wrong trousers by mistake
before he went to bed. But nobody ever minded what THEY said.'
'Tom Smart said it was all true?'
'Every word.'
'And your uncle?'
'Every letter.'
'They must have been very nice men, both of 'em,' said the
dirty-faced man.
'Yes, they were,' replied the bagman; 'very nice men indeed!'
Mr. Pickwick's conscience had been somewhat reproaching him for
his recent neglect of his friends at the Peacock; and he was just
on the point of walking forth in quest of them, on the third morning
after the election had terminated, when his faithful valet put into
his hand a card, on which was engraved the following inscription:--
Mrs. Leo Hunter
'Person's a-waitin',' said Sam, epigrammatically.
'Does the person want me, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'He wants you partickler; and no one else 'll do, as the devil's
private secretary said ven he fetched avay Doctor Faustus,'
replied Mr. Weller.
'HE. Is it a gentleman?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'A wery good imitation o' one, if it ain't,' replied Mr. Weller.
'But this is a lady's card,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Given me by a gen'l'm'n, howsoever,' replied Sam, 'and he's
a-waitin' in the drawing-room--said he'd rather wait all day,
than not see you.'
Mr. Pickwick, on hearing this determination, descended to the
drawing-room, where sat a grave man, who started up on his
entrance, and said, with an air of profound respect:--
'Mr. Pickwick, I presume?'
'The same.'
'Allow me, Sir, the honour of grasping your hand. Permit me,
Sir, to shake it,' said the grave man.
'Certainly,' said Mr. Pickwick.
The stranger shook the extended hand, and then continued--
'We have heard of your fame, sir. The noise of your antiquarian
discussion has reached the ears of Mrs. Leo Hunter--
my wife, sir; I am Mr. Leo Hunter'--the stranger paused, as if he
expected that Mr. Pickwick would be overcome by the disclosure;
but seeing that he remained perfectly calm, proceeded--
'My wife, sir--Mrs. Leo Hunter--is proud to number among
her acquaintance all those who have rendered themselves celebrated
by their works and talents. Permit me, sir, to place in a conspicuous
part of the list the name of Mr. Pickwick, and his brother-members of
the club that derives its name from him.'
'I shall be extremely happy to make the acquaintance of such
a lady, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'You SHALL make it, sir,' said the grave man. 'To-morrow
morning, sir, we give a public breakfast--a FETE CHAMPETRE--to a
great number of those who have rendered themselves celebrated
by their works and talents. Permit Mrs. Leo Hunter, Sir, to have
the gratification of seeing you at the Den.'
'With great pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Mrs. Leo Hunter has many of these breakfasts, Sir,' resumed
the new acquaintance--'"feasts of reason," sir, "and flows of
soul," as somebody who wrote a sonnet to Mrs. Leo Hunter on
her breakfasts, feelingly and originally observed.'
'Was HE celebrated for his works and talents?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'He was Sir,' replied the grave man, 'all Mrs. Leo Hunter's
acquaintances are; it is her ambition, sir, to have no other
'It is a very noble ambition,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'When I inform Mrs. Leo Hunter, that that remark fell from
your lips, sir, she will indeed be proud,' said the grave man. 'You
have a gentleman in your train, who has produced some beautiful
little poems, I think, sir.'
'My friend Mr. Snodgrass has a great taste for poetry,' replied
Mr. Pickwick.
'So has Mrs. Leo Hunter, Sir. She dotes on poetry, sir. She
adores it; I may say that her whole soul and mind are wound up,
and entwined with it. She has produced some delightful pieces,
herself, sir. You may have met with her "Ode to an Expiring
Frog," sir.'
'I don't think I have,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'You astonish me, Sir,' said Mr. Leo Hunter. 'It created an
immense sensation. It was signed with an "L" and eight stars, and
appeared originally in a lady's magazine. It commenced--
'"Can I view thee panting, lying
On thy stomach, without sighing;
Can I unmoved see thee dying
On a log
Expiring frog!"'
'Beautiful!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Fine,' said Mr. Leo Hunter; 'so simple.'
'Very,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'The next verse is still more touching. Shall I repeat it?'
'If you please,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'It runs thus,' said the grave man, still more gravely.
'"Say, have fiends in shape of boys,
With wild halloo, and brutal noise,
Hunted thee from marshy joys,
With a dog,
Expiring frog!"'
'Finely expressed,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'All point, Sir,' said Mr. Leo Hunter; 'but you shall hear
Mrs. Leo Hunter repeat it. She can do justice to it, Sir. She will
repeat it, in character, Sir, to-morrow morning.'
'In character!'
'As Minerva. But I forgot--it's a fancy-dress DEJEUNE.'
'Dear me,' said Mr. Pickwick, glancing at his own figure--'I
can't possibly--'
'Can't, sir; can't!' exclaimed Mr. Leo Hunter. 'Solomon
Lucas, the Jew in the High Street, has thousands of fancydresses.
Consider, Sir, how many appropriate characters are open
for your selection. Plato, Zeno, Epicurus, Pythagoras--all
founders of clubs.'
'I know that,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'but as I cannot put myself
in competition with those great men, I cannot presume to wear
their dresses.'
The grave man considered deeply, for a few seconds, and then said--
'On reflection, Sir, I don't know whether it would not afford
Mrs. Leo Hunter greater pleasure, if her guests saw a gentleman
of your celebrity in his own costume, rather than in an assumed
one. I may venture to promise an exception in your case, sir--
yes, I am quite certain that, on behalf of Mrs. Leo Hunter, I may
venture to do so.'
'In that case,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I shall have great pleasure
in coming.'
'But I waste your time, Sir,' said the grave man, as if suddenly
recollecting himself. 'I know its value, sir. I will not detain you.
I may tell Mrs. Leo Hunter, then, that she may confidently
expect you and your distinguished friends? Good-morning,
Sir, I am proud to have beheld so eminent a personage--not a
step sir; not a word.' And without giving Mr. Pickwick time to
offer remonstrance or denial, Mr. Leo Hunter stalked gravely away.
Mr. Pickwick took up his hat, and repaired to the Peacock,
but Mr. Winkle had conveyed the intelligence of the fancy-ball
there, before him.
'Mrs. Pott's going,' were the first words with which he saluted
his leader.
'Is she?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'As Apollo,' replied Winkle. 'Only Pott objects to the tunic.'
'He is right. He is quite right,' said Mr. Pickwick emphatically.
'Yes; so she's going to wear a white satin gown with gold spangles.'
'They'll hardly know what she's meant for; will they?' inquired
Mr. Snodgrass.
'Of course they will,' replied Mr. Winkle indignantly. 'They'll
see her lyre, won't they?'
'True; I forgot that,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'I shall go as a bandit,'interposed Mr. Tupman.
'What!' said Mr. Pickwick, with a sudden start.
'As a bandit,' repeated Mr. Tupman, mildly.
'You don't mean to say,' said Mr. Pickwick, gazing with
solemn sternness at his friend--'you don't mean to say, Mr.
Tupman, that it is your intention to put yourself into a green
velvet jacket, with a two-inch tail?'
'Such IS my intention, Sir,' replied Mr. Tupman warmly. 'And
why not, sir?'
'Because, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, considerably excited--
'because you are too old, Sir.'
'Too old!' exclaimed Mr. Tupman.
'And if any further ground of objection be wanting,' continued
Mr. Pickwick, 'you are too fat, sir.'
'Sir,' said Mr. Tupman, his face suffused with a crimson glow,
'this is an insult.'
'Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, in the same tone, 'it is not half the
insult to you, that your appearance in my presence in a green
velvet jacket, with a two-inch tail, would be to me.'
'Sir,' said Mr. Tupman, 'you're a fellow.'
'Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'you're another!'
Mr. Tupman advanced a step or two, and glared at Mr.
Pickwick. Mr. Pickwick returned the glare, concentrated into a
focus by means of his spectacles, and breathed a bold defiance.
Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle looked on, petrified at beholding
such a scene between two such men.
'Sir,' said Mr. Tupman, after a short pause, speaking in a low,
deep voice, 'you have called me old.'
'I have,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'And fat.'
'I reiterate the charge.'
'And a fellow.'
'So you are!'
There was a fearful pause.
'My attachment to your person, sir,' said Mr. Tupman,
speaking in a voice tremulous with emotion, and tucking up his
wristbands meanwhile, 'is great--very great--but upon that
person, I must take summary vengeance.'
'Come on, Sir!' replied Mr. Pickwick. Stimulated by the
exciting nature of the dialogue, the heroic man actually threw
himself into a paralytic attitude, confidently supposed by the two
bystanders to have been intended as a posture of defence.
'What!' exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass, suddenly recovering the
power of speech, of which intense astonishment had previously
bereft him, and rushing between the two, at the imminent hazard
of receiving an application on the temple from each--'what!
Mr. Pickwick, with the eyes of the world upon you! Mr. Tupman!
who, in common with us all, derives a lustre from his
undying name! For shame, gentlemen; for shame.'
The unwonted lines which momentary passion had ruled in
Mr. Pickwick's clear and open brow, gradually melted away, as
his young friend spoke, like the marks of a black-lead pencil
beneath the softening influence of india-rubber. His countenance
had resumed its usual benign expression, ere he concluded.
'I have been hasty,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'very hasty. Tupman;
your hand.'
The dark shadow passed from Mr. Tupman's face, as he
warmly grasped the hand of his friend.
'I have been hasty, too,' said he.
'No, no,' interrupted Mr. Pickwick, 'the fault was mine. You
will wear the green velvet jacket?'
'No, no,' replied Mr. Tupman.
'To oblige me, you will,' resumed Mr. Pickwick.
'Well, well, I will,' said Mr. Tupman.
It was accordingly settled that Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and
Mr. Snodgrass, should all wear fancy-dresses. Thus Mr. Pickwick
was led by the very warmth of his own good feelings to give his
consent to a proceeding from which his better judgment would
have recoiled--a more striking illustration of his amiable
character could hardly have been conceived, even if the events
recorded in these pages had been wholly imaginary.
Mr. Leo Hunter had not exaggerated the resources of Mr.
Solomon Lucas. His wardrobe was extensive--very extensive--
not strictly classical perhaps, not quite new, nor did it contain
any one garment made precisely after the fashion of any age or
time, but everything was more or less spangled; and what can be
prettier than spangles! It may be objected that they are not
adapted to the daylight, but everybody knows that they would
glitter if there were lamps; and nothing can be clearer than that
if people give fancy-balls in the day-time, and the dresses do not
show quite as well as they would by night, the fault lies solely
with the people who give the fancy-balls, and is in no wise
chargeable on the spangles. Such was the convincing reasoning
of Mr. Solomon Lucas; and influenced by such arguments did
Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass engage
to array themselves in costumes which his taste and experience
induced him to recommend as admirably suited to the occasion.
A carriage was hired from the Town Arms, for the accommodation
of the Pickwickians, and a chariot was ordered from
the same repository, for the purpose of conveying Mr. and Mrs.
Pott to Mrs. Leo Hunter's grounds, which Mr. Pott, as a delicate
acknowledgment of having received an invitation, had already
confidently predicted in the Eatanswill GAZETTE 'would present a
scene of varied and delicious enchantment--a bewildering
coruscation of beauty and talent--a lavish and prodigal display
of hospitality--above all, a degree of splendour softened by the
most exquisite taste; and adornment refined with perfect
harmony and the chastest good keeping--compared with
which, the fabled gorgeousness of Eastern fairyland itself would
appear to be clothed in as many dark and murky colours, as
must be the mind of the splenetic and unmanly being who could
presume to taint with the venom of his envy, the preparations
made by the virtuous and highly distinguished lady at whose
shrine this humble tribute of admiration was offered.' This
last was a piece of biting sarcasm against the INDEPENDENT,
who, in consequence of not having been invited at all, had
been, through four numbers, affecting to sneer at the whole
affair, in his very largest type, with all the adjectives in
capital letters.
The morning came: it was a pleasant sight to behold Mr.
Tupman in full brigand's costume, with a very tight jacket,
sitting like a pincushion over his back and shoulders, the upper
portion of his legs incased in the velvet shorts, and the lower part
thereof swathed in the complicated bandages to which all
brigands are peculiarly attached. It was pleasing to see his open
and ingenuous countenance, well mustachioed and corked,
looking out from an open shirt collar; and to contemplate the
sugar-loaf hat, decorated with ribbons of all colours, which he
was compelled to carry on his knee, inasmuch as no known
conveyance with a top to it, would admit of any man's carrying
it between his head and the roof. Equally humorous and agreeable
was the appearance of Mr. Snodgrass in blue satin trunks
and cloak, white silk tights and shoes, and Grecian helmet, which
everybody knows (and if they do not, Mr. Solomon Lucas did)
to have been the regular, authentic, everyday costume of a
troubadour, from the earliest ages down to the time of their
final disappearance from the face of the earth. All this was
pleasant, but this was as nothing compared with the shouting
of the populace when the carriage drew up, behind Mr. Pott's chariot,
which chariot itself drew up at Mr. Pott's door, which door itself
opened, and displayed the great Pott accoutred as a Russian officer
of justice, with a tremendous knout in his hand--tastefully typical of
the stern and mighty power of the Eatanswill GAZETTE, and the fearful
lashings it bestowed on public offenders.
'Bravo!' shouted Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass from the
passage, when they beheld the walking allegory.
'Bravo!' Mr. Pickwick was heard to exclaim, from the passage.
'Hoo-roar Pott!' shouted the populace. Amid these salutations,
Mr. Pott, smiling with that kind of bland dignity which
sufficiently testified that he felt his power, and knew how to
exert it, got into the chariot.
Then there emerged from the house, Mrs. Pott, who would
have looked very like Apollo if she hadn't had a gown on,
conducted by Mr. Winkle, who, in his light-red coat could not
possibly have been mistaken for anything but a sportsman, if he
had not borne an equal resemblance to a general postman. Last
of all came Mr. Pickwick, whom the boys applauded as loud as
anybody, probably under the impression that his tights and
gaiters were some remnants of the dark ages; and then the two
vehicles proceeded towards Mrs. Leo Hunter's; Mr. Weller
(who was to assist in waiting) being stationed on the box of that
in which his master was seated.
Every one of the men, women, boys, girls, and babies, who
were assembled to see the visitors in their fancy-dresses, screamed
with delight and ecstasy, when Mr. Pickwick, with the brigand
on one arm, and the troubadour on the other, walked solemnly
up the entrance. Never were such shouts heard as those which
greeted Mr. Tupman's efforts to fix the sugar-loaf hat on his
head, by way of entering the garden in style.
The preparations were on the most delightful scale; fully
realising the prophetic Pott's anticipations about the gorgeousness
of Eastern fairyland, and at once affording a sufficient
contradiction to the malignant statements of the reptile INDEPENDENT.
The grounds were more than an acre and a quarter in
extent, and they were filled with people! Never was such a blaze
of beauty, and fashion, and literature. There was the young lady
who 'did' the poetry in the Eatanswill GAZETTE, in the garb of a
sultana, leaning upon the arm of the young gentleman who 'did'
the review department, and who was appropriately habited in a
field-marshal's uniform--the boots excepted. There were hosts of
these geniuses, and any reasonable person would have thought it
honour enough to meet them. But more than these, there were
half a dozen lions from London--authors, real authors, who had
written whole books, and printed them afterwards--and here
you might see 'em, walking about, like ordinary men, smiling,
and talking--aye, and talking pretty considerable nonsense too,
no doubt with the benign intention of rendering themselves
intelligible to the common people about them. Moreover, there
was a band of music in pasteboard caps; four something-ean
singers in the costume of their country, and a dozen hired
waiters in the costume of THEIR country--and very dirty costume
too. And above all, there was Mrs. Leo Hunter in the character
of Minerva, receiving the company, and overflowing with pride
and gratification at the notion of having called such distinguished
individuals together.
'Mr. Pickwick, ma'am,' said a servant, as that gentleman
approached the presiding goddess, with his hat in his hand, and
the brigand and troubadour on either arm.
'What! Where!' exclaimed Mrs. Leo Hunter, starting up, in
an affected rapture of surprise.
'Here,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Is it possible that I have really the gratification of beholding
Mr. Pickwick himself!' ejaculated Mrs. Leo Hunter.
'No other, ma'am,' replied Mr. Pickwick, bowing very low.
'Permit me to introduce my friends--Mr. Tupman--Mr. Winkle
--Mr. Snodgrass--to the authoress of "The Expiring Frog."'
Very few people but those who have tried it, know what a
difficult process it is to bow in green velvet smalls, and a tight
jacket, and high-crowned hat; or in blue satin trunks and white
silks, or knee-cords and top-boots that were never made for
the wearer, and have been fixed upon him without the
remotest reference to the comparative dimensions of himself and
the suit. Never were such distortions as Mr. Tupman's frame
underwent in his efforts to appear easy and graceful--never
was such ingenious posturing, as his fancy-dressed friends exhibited.
'Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter, 'I must make you
promise not to stir from my side the whole day. There are
hundreds of people here, that I must positively introduce you to.'
'You are very kind, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'In the first place, here are my little girls; I had almost
forgotten them,' said Minerva, carelessly pointing towards a couple
of full-grown young ladies, of whom one might be about twenty,
and the other a year or two older, and who were dressed in
very juvenile costumes--whether to make them look young,
or their mamma younger, Mr. Pickwick does not distinctly
inform us.
'They are very beautiful,' said Mr. Pickwick, as the juveniles
turned away, after being presented.
'They are very like their mamma, Sir,' said Mr. Pott, majestically.
'Oh, you naughty man,' exclaimed Mrs. Leo Hunter, playfully
tapping the editor's arm with her fan (Minerva with a fan!).
'Why now, my dear Mrs. Hunter,' said Mr. Pott, who was
trumpeter in ordinary at the Den, 'you know that when your
picture was in the exhibition of the Royal Academy, last year,
everybody inquired whether it was intended for you, or your
youngest daughter; for you were so much alike that there was no
telling the difference between you.'
'Well, and if they did, why need you repeat it, before strangers?'
said Mrs. Leo Hunter, bestowing another tap on the slumbering
lion of the Eatanswill GAZETTE.
'Count, count,' screamed Mrs. Leo Hunter to a well-whiskered
individual in a foreign uniform, who was passing by.
'Ah! you want me?' said the count, turning back.
'I want to introduce two very clever people to each other,' said
Mrs. Leo Hunter. 'Mr. Pickwick, I have great pleasure in
introducing you to Count Smorltork.' She added in a hurried
whisper to Mr. Pickwick--'The famous foreigner--gathering
materials for his great work on England--hem!--Count Smorltork,
Mr. Pickwick.'
Mr. Pickwick saluted the count with all the reverence due to so
great a man, and the count drew forth a set of tablets.
'What you say, Mrs. Hunt?' inquired the count, smiling
graciously on the gratified Mrs. Leo Hunter, 'Pig Vig or Big
Vig--what you call--lawyer--eh? I see--that is it. Big Vig'--
and the count was proceeding to enter Mr. Pickwick in his
tablets, as a gentleman of the long robe, who derived his name
from the profession to which he belonged, when Mrs. Leo
Hunter interposed.
'No, no, count,' said the lady, 'Pick-wick.'
'Ah, ah, I see,' replied the count. 'Peek--christian name;
Weeks--surname; good, ver good. Peek Weeks. How you do, Weeks?'
'Quite well, I thank you,' replied Mr. Pickwick, with all his
usual affability. 'Have you been long in England?'
'Long--ver long time--fortnight--more.'
'Do you stay here long?'
'One week.'
'You will have enough to do,' said Mr. Pickwick smiling, 'to
gather all the materials you want in that time.'
'Eh, they are gathered,' said the count.
'Indeed!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'They are here,' added the count, tapping his forehead
significantly. 'Large book at home--full of notes--music,
picture, science, potry, poltic; all tings.'
'The word politics, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'comprises in
itself, a difficult study of no inconsiderable magnitude.'
'Ah!' said the count, drawing out the tablets again, 'ver good
--fine words to begin a chapter. Chapter forty-seven. Poltics.
The word poltic surprises by himself--' And down went Mr.
Pickwick's remark, in Count Smorltork's tablets, with such
variations and additions as the count's exuberant fancy suggested,
or his imperfect knowledge of the language occasioned.
'Count,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter.
'Mrs. Hunt,' replied the count.
'This is Mr. Snodgrass, a friend of Mr. Pickwick's, and a poet.'
'Stop,' exclaimed the count, bringing out the tablets once
more. 'Head, potry--chapter, literary friends--name, Snowgrass;
ver good. Introduced to Snowgrass--great poet, friend of Peek
Weeks--by Mrs. Hunt, which wrote other sweet poem--what is
that name?--Fog--Perspiring Fog--ver good--ver good
indeed.' And the count put up his tablets, and with sundry bows
and acknowledgments walked away, thoroughly satisfied that he
had made the most important and valuable additions to his stock
of information.
'Wonderful man, Count Smorltork,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter.
'Sound philosopher,' said Mr. Pott.
'Clear-headed, strong-minded person,' added Mr. Snodgrass.
A chorus of bystanders took up the shout of Count Smorltork's
praise, shook their heads sagely, and unanimously cried, 'Very!'
As the enthusiasm in Count Smorltork's favour ran very high,
his praises might have been sung until the end of the festivities,
if the four something-ean singers had not ranged themselves in
front of a small apple-tree, to look picturesque, and commenced
singing their national songs, which appeared by no means
difficult of execution, inasmuch as the grand secret seemed to be,
that three of the something-ean singers should grunt, while the
fourth howled. This interesting performance having concluded
amidst the loud plaudits of the whole company, a boy forthwith
proceeded to entangle himself with the rails of a chair, and to
jump over it, and crawl under it, and fall down with it, and do
everything but sit upon it, and then to make a cravat of his legs,
and tie them round his neck, and then to illustrate the ease with
which a human being can be made to look like a magnified toad
--all which feats yielded high delight and satisfaction to the
assembled spectators. After which, the voice of Mrs. Pott was
heard to chirp faintly forth, something which courtesy interpreted
into a song, which was all very classical, and strictly in
character, because Apollo was himself a composer, and
composers can very seldom sing their own music or anybody else's,
either. This was succeeded by Mrs. Leo Hunter's recitation of her
far-famed 'Ode to an Expiring Frog,' which was encored once,
and would have been encored twice, if the major part of the
guests, who thought it was high time to get something to eat, had
not said that it was perfectly shameful to take advantage of
Mrs. Hunter's good nature. So although Mrs. Leo Hunter
professed her perfect willingness to recite the ode again, her kind
and considerate friends wouldn't hear of it on any account; and
the refreshment room being thrown open, all the people who had
ever been there before, scrambled in with all possible despatch--
Mrs. Leo Hunter's usual course of proceedings being, to issue
cards for a hundred, and breakfast for fifty, or in other words to
feed only the very particular lions, and let the smaller animals
take care of themselves.
'Where is Mr. Pott?' said Mrs. Leo Hunter, as she placed the
aforesaid lions around her.
'Here I am,' said the editor, from the remotest end of the
room; far beyond all hope of food, unless something was done
for him by the hostess.
'Won't you come up here?'
'Oh, pray don't mind him,' said Mrs. Pott, in the most
obliging voice--'you give yourself a great deal of unnecessary
trouble, Mrs. Hunter. You'll do very well there, won't you--dear?'
'Certainly--love,' replied the unhappy Pott, with a grim smile.
Alas for the knout! The nervous arm that wielded it, with such a
gigantic force on public characters, was paralysed beneath the
glance of the imperious Mrs. Pott.
Mrs. Leo Hunter looked round her in triumph. Count Smorltork
was busily engaged in taking notes of the contents of the
dishes; Mr. Tupman was doing the honours of the lobster salad
to several lionesses, with a degree of grace which no brigand ever
exhibited before; Mr. Snodgrass having cut out the young gentleman
who cut up the books for the Eatanswill GAZETTE, was
engaged in an impassioned argument with the young lady who
did the poetry; and Mr. Pickwick was making himself universally
agreeable. Nothing seemed wanting to render the select circle
complete, when Mr. Leo Hunter--whose department on these
occasions, was to stand about in doorways, and talk to the less
important people--suddenly called out--
'My dear; here's Mr. Charles Fitz-Marshall.'
'Oh dear,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter, 'how anxiously I have been
expecting him. Pray make room, to let Mr. Fitz-Marshall pass.
Tell Mr. Fitz-Marshall, my dear, to come up to me directly, to
be scolded for coming so late.'
'Coming, my dear ma'am,' cried a voice, 'as quick as I can--
crowds of people--full room--hard work--very.'
Mr. Pickwick's knife and fork fell from his hand. He stared
across the table at Mr. Tupman, who had dropped his knife and
fork, and was looking as if he were about to sink into the ground
without further notice.
'Ah!' cried the voice, as its owner pushed his way among the
last five-and-twenty Turks, officers, cavaliers, and Charles the
Seconds, that remained between him and the table, 'regular
mangle--Baker's patent--not a crease in my coat, after all this
squeezing--might have "got up my linen" as I came along--
ha! ha! not a bad idea, that--queer thing to have it mangled
when it's upon one, though--trying process--very.'
With these broken words, a young man dressed as a naval
officer made his way up to the table, and presented to the
astonished Pickwickians the identical form and features of Mr.
Alfred Jingle.
The offender had barely time to take Mrs. Leo Hunter's
proffered hand, when his eyes encountered the indignant orbs of
Mr. Pickwick.
'Hollo!' said Jingle. 'Quite forgot--no directions to postillion
--give 'em at once--back in a minute.'
'The servant, or Mr. Hunter will do it in a moment, Mr.
Fitz-Marshall,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter.
'No, no--I'll do it--shan't be long--back in no time,' replied
Jingle. With these words he disappeared among the crowd.
'Will you allow me to ask you, ma'am,' said the excited Mr.
Pickwick, rising from his seat, 'who that young man is, and
where he resides?'
'He is a gentleman of fortune, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Leo
Hunter, 'to whom I very much want to introduce you. The count
will be delighted with him.'
'Yes, yes,' said Mr. Pickwick hastily. 'His residence--'
'Is at present at the Angel at Bury.'
'At Bury?'
'At Bury St. Edmunds, not many miles from here. But dear
me, Mr. Pickwick, you are not going to leave us; surely Mr.
Pickwick you cannot think of going so soon?'
But long before Mrs. Leo Hunter had finished speaking, Mr.
Pickwick had plunged through the throng, and reached the
garden, whither he was shortly afterwards joined by Mr. Tupman,
who had followed his friend closely.
'It's of no use,' said Mr. Tupman. 'He has gone.'
'I know it,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and I will follow him.'
'Follow him! Where?' inquired Mr. Tupman.
'To the Angel at Bury,' replied Mr. Pickwick, speaking very
quickly. 'How do we know whom he is deceiving there? He
deceived a worthy man once, and we were the innocent cause. He
shall not do it again, if I can help it; I'll expose him! Sam!
Where's my servant?'
'Here you are, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, emerging from a
sequestered spot, where he had been engaged in discussing a
bottle of Madeira, which he had abstracted from the breakfasttable
an hour or two before. 'Here's your servant, Sir. Proud o'
the title, as the living skellinton said, ven they show'd him.'
'Follow me instantly,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Tupman, if I stay at
Bury, you can join me there, when I write. Till then, good-bye!'
Remonstrances were useless. Mr. Pickwick was roused, and his
mind was made up. Mr. Tupman returned to his companions;
and in another hour had drowned all present recollection of Mr.
Alfred Jingle, or Mr. Charles Fitz-Marshall, in an exhilarating
quadrille and a bottle of champagne. By that time, Mr. Pickwick
and Sam Weller, perched on the outside of a stage-coach, were
every succeeding minute placing a less and less distance between
themselves and the good old town of Bury St. Edmunds.
There is no month in the whole year in which nature wears a more
beautiful appearance than in the month of August. Spring has many
beauties, and May is a fresh and blooming month, but the charms
of this time of year are enhanced by their contrast with the
winter season. August has no such advantage. It comes when we
remember nothing but clear skies, green fields, and sweet-smelling
flowers--when the recollection of snow, and ice, and bleak winds,
has faded from our minds as completely as they have disappeared
from the earth--and yet what a pleasant time it is! Orchards and
cornfields ring with the hum of labour; trees bend beneath the
thick clusters of rich fruit which bow their branches to the
ground; and the corn, piled in graceful sheaves, or waving in
every light breath that sweeps above it, as if it wooed the
sickle, tinges the landscape with a golden hue. A mellow softness
appears to hang over the whole earth; the influence of the season
seems to extend itself to the very wagon, whose slow motion across
the well-reaped field is perceptible only to the eye, but strikes
with no harsh sound upon the ear.
As the coach rolls swiftly past the fields and orchards which
skirt the road, groups of women and children, piling the fruit in
sieves, or gathering the scattered ears of corn, pause for an
instant from their labour, and shading the sun-burned face with
a still browner hand, gaze upon the passengers with curious eyes,
while some stout urchin, too small to work, but too mischievous
to be left at home, scrambles over the side of the basket in which
he has been deposited for security, and kicks and screams with
delight. The reaper stops in his work, and stands with folded
arms, looking at the vehicle as it whirls past; and the rough carthorses
bestow a sleepy glance upon the smart coach team, which
says as plainly as a horse's glance can, 'It's all very fine to look
at, but slow going, over a heavy field, is better than warm work
like that, upon a dusty road, after all.' You cast a look behind
you, as you turn a corner of the road. The women and children
have resumed their labour; the reaper once more stoops to his
work; the cart-horses have moved on; and all are again in motion.
The influence of a scene like this, was not lost upon the wellregulated
mind of Mr. Pickwick. Intent upon the resolution he
had formed, of exposing the real character of the nefarious
Jingle, in any quarter in which he might be pursuing his fraudulent
designs, he sat at first taciturn and contemplative, brooding
over the means by which his purpose could be best attained. By
degrees his attention grew more and more attracted by the
objects around him; and at last he derived as much enjoyment
from the ride, as if it had been undertaken for the pleasantest
reason in the world.
'Delightful prospect, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Beats the chimbley-pots, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller, touching
his hat.
'I suppose you have hardly seen anything but chimney-pots
and bricks and mortar all your life, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, smiling.
'I worn't always a boots, sir,' said Mr. Weller, with a shake of
the head. 'I wos a vaginer's boy, once.'
'When was that?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'When I wos first pitched neck and crop into the world, to play
at leap-frog with its troubles,' replied Sam. 'I wos a carrier's boy
at startin'; then a vaginer's, then a helper, then a boots. Now I'm
a gen'l'm'n's servant. I shall be a gen'l'm'n myself one of these
days, perhaps, with a pipe in my mouth, and a summer-house in
the back-garden. Who knows? I shouldn't be surprised for one.'
'You are quite a philosopher, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'It runs in the family, I b'lieve, sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'My
father's wery much in that line now. If my mother-in-law blows
him up, he whistles. She flies in a passion, and breaks his pipe;
he steps out, and gets another. Then she screams wery loud, and
falls into 'sterics; and he smokes wery comfortably till she comes
to agin. That's philosophy, Sir, ain't it?'
'A very good substitute for it, at all events,' replied Mr.
Pickwick, laughing. 'It must have been of great service to you, in
the course of your rambling life, Sam.'
'Service, sir,' exclaimed Sam. 'You may say that. Arter I run
away from the carrier, and afore I took up with the vaginer, I had
unfurnished lodgin's for a fortnight.'
'Unfurnished lodgings?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes--the dry arches of Waterloo Bridge. Fine sleeping-place
--vithin ten minutes' walk of all the public offices--only if there is
any objection to it, it is that the sitivation's rayther too airy. I see
some queer sights there.'
'Ah, I suppose you did,' said Mr. Pickwick, with an air of
considerable interest.
'Sights, sir,' resumed Mr. Weller, 'as 'ud penetrate your
benevolent heart, and come out on the other side. You don't see
the reg'lar wagrants there; trust 'em, they knows better than that.
Young beggars, male and female, as hasn't made a rise in their
profession, takes up their quarters there sometimes; but it's
generally the worn-out, starving, houseless creeturs as roll
themselves in the dark corners o' them lonesome places--poor
creeturs as ain't up to the twopenny rope.'
'And pray, Sam, what is the twopenny rope?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'The twopenny rope, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, 'is just a cheap
lodgin' house, where the beds is twopence a night.'
'What do they call a bed a rope for?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Bless your innocence, sir, that ain't it,' replied Sam. 'Ven the
lady and gen'l'm'n as keeps the hot-el first begun business, they
used to make the beds on the floor; but this wouldn't do at no
price, 'cos instead o' taking a moderate twopenn'orth o' sleep,
the lodgers used to lie there half the day. So now they has two
ropes, 'bout six foot apart, and three from the floor, which goes
right down the room; and the beds are made of slips of coarse
sacking, stretched across 'em.'
'Well,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Well,' said Mr. Weller, 'the adwantage o' the plan's hobvious.
At six o'clock every mornin' they let's go the ropes at one end,
and down falls the lodgers. Consequence is, that being thoroughly
waked, they get up wery quietly, and walk away! Beg your
pardon, sir,' said Sam, suddenly breaking off in his loquacious
discourse. 'Is this Bury St. Edmunds?'
'It is,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
The coach rattled through the well-paved streets of a handsome
little town, of thriving and cleanly appearance, and stopped
before a large inn situated in a wide open street, nearly facing the
old abbey.
'And this,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking up. 'Is the Angel! We
alight here, Sam. But some caution is necessary. Order a private
room, and do not mention my name. You understand.'
'Right as a trivet, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, with a wink of
intelligence; and having dragged Mr. Pickwick's portmanteau
from the hind boot, into which it had been hastily thrown when
they joined the coach at Eatanswill, Mr. Weller disappeared on
his errand. A private room was speedily engaged; and into it
Mr. Pickwick was ushered without delay.
'Now, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'the first thing to be done is
'Order dinner, Sir,' interposed Mr. Weller. 'It's wery late, sir."
'Ah, so it is,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking at his watch. 'You are
right, Sam.'
'And if I might adwise, Sir,' added Mr. Weller, 'I'd just have a
good night's rest arterwards, and not begin inquiring arter this
here deep 'un till the mornin'. There's nothin' so refreshen' as
sleep, sir, as the servant girl said afore she drank the egg-cupful
of laudanum.'
'I think you are right, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'But I must
first ascertain that he is in the house, and not likely to go away.'
'Leave that to me, Sir,' said Sam. 'Let me order you a snug
little dinner, and make my inquiries below while it's a-getting
ready; I could worm ev'ry secret out O' the boots's heart, in five
minutes, Sir.'
'Do so,' said Mr. Pickwick; and Mr. Weller at once retired.
In half an hour, Mr. Pickwick was seated at a very satisfactory
dinner; and in three-quarters Mr. Weller returned with the
intelligence that Mr. Charles Fitz-Marshall had ordered his
private room to be retained for him, until further notice. He was
going to spend the evening at some private house in the neighbourhood,
had ordered the boots to sit up until his return, and
had taken his servant with him.
'Now, sir,' argued Mr. Weller, when he had concluded his
report, 'if I can get a talk with this here servant in the mornin',
he'll tell me all his master's concerns.'
'How do you know that?' interposed Mr. Pickwick.
'Bless your heart, sir, servants always do,' replied Mr. Weller.
'Oh, ah, I forgot that,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Well.'
'Then you can arrange what's best to be done, sir, and we can
act accordingly.'
As it appeared that this was the best arrangement that could
be made, it was finally agreed upon. Mr. Weller, by his master's
permission, retired to spend the evening in his own way; and was
shortly afterwards elected, by the unanimous voice of the
assembled company, into the taproom chair, in which honourable
post he acquitted himself so much to the satisfaction of the
gentlemen-frequenters, that their roars of laughter and approbation
penetrated to Mr. Pickwick's bedroom, and shortened the
term of his natural rest by at least three hours.
Early on the ensuing morning, Mr. Weller was dispelling all
the feverish remains of the previous evening's conviviality,
through the instrumentality of a halfpenny shower-bath (having
induced a young gentleman attached to the stable department, by
the offer of that coin, to pump over his head and face, until he
was perfectly restored), when he was attracted by the appearance
of a young fellow in mulberry-coloured livery, who was sitting on
a bench in the yard, reading what appeared to be a hymn-book,
with an air of deep abstraction, but who occasionally stole a
glance at the individual under the pump, as if he took some
interest in his proceedings, nevertheless.
'You're a rum 'un to look at, you are!' thought Mr. Weller, the
first time his eyes encountered the glance of the stranger in the
mulberry suit, who had a large, sallow, ugly face, very sunken
eyes, and a gigantic head, from which depended a quantity of
lank black hair. 'You're a rum 'un!' thought Mr. Weller; and
thinking this, he went on washing himself, and thought no more
about him.
Still the man kept glancing from his hymn-book to Sam, and
from Sam to his hymn-book, as if he wanted to open a conversation.
So at last, Sam, by way of giving him an opportunity, said
with a familiar nod--
'How are you, governor?'
'I am happy to say, I am pretty well, Sir,' said the man,
speaking with great deliberation, and closing the book. 'I hope
you are the same, Sir?'
'Why, if I felt less like a walking brandy-bottle I shouldn't be
quite so staggery this mornin',' replied Sam. 'Are you stoppin' in
this house, old 'un?'
The mulberry man replied in the affirmative.
'How was it you worn't one of us, last night?' inquired Sam,
scrubbing his face with the towel. 'You seem one of the jolly sort
--looks as conwivial as a live trout in a lime basket,' added Mr.
Weller, in an undertone.
'I was out last night with my master,' replied the stranger.
'What's his name?' inquired Mr. Weller, colouring up very red
with sudden excitement, and the friction of the towel combined.
'Fitz-Marshall,' said the mulberry man.
'Give us your hand,' said Mr. Weller, advancing; 'I should like
to know you. I like your appearance, old fellow.'
'Well, that is very strange,' said the mulberry man, with great
simplicity of manner. 'I like yours so much, that I wanted to
speak to you, from the very first moment I saw you under the pump.'
'Did you though?'
'Upon my word. Now, isn't that curious?'
'Wery sing'ler,' said Sam, inwardly congratulating himself
upon the softness of the stranger. 'What's your name, my patriarch?'
'And a wery good name it is; only one I know that ain't got a
nickname to it. What's the other name?'
'Trotter,' said the stranger. 'What is yours?'
Sam bore in mind his master's caution, and replied--
'My name's Walker; my master's name's Wilkins. Will you
take a drop o' somethin' this mornin', Mr. Trotter?'
Mr. Trotter acquiesced in this agreeable proposal; and having
deposited his book in his coat pocket, accompanied Mr. Weller
to the tap, where they were soon occupied in discussing an
exhilarating compound, formed by mixing together, in a pewter
vessel, certain quantities of British Hollands and the fragrant
essence of the clove.
'And what sort of a place have you got?' inquired Sam, as he
filled his companion's glass, for the second time.
'Bad,' said Job, smacking his lips, 'very bad.'
'You don't mean that?' said Sam.
'I do, indeed. Worse than that, my master's going to be married.'
'Yes; and worse than that, too, he's going to run away with an
immense rich heiress, from boarding-school.'
'What a dragon!' said Sam, refilling his companion's glass.
'It's some boarding-school in this town, I suppose, ain't it?'
Now, although this question was put in the most careless tone
imaginable, Mr. Job Trotter plainly showed by gestures that he
perceived his new friend's anxiety to draw forth an answer to it.
He emptied his glass, looked mysteriously at his companion,
winked both of his small eyes, one after the other, and finally
made a motion with his arm, as if he were working an imaginary
pump-handle; thereby intimating that he (Mr. Trotter) considered
himself as undergoing the process of being pumped by Mr.
Samuel Weller.
'No, no,' said Mr. Trotter, in conclusion, 'that's not to be told
to everybody. That is a secret--a great secret, Mr. Walker.'
As the mulberry man said this, he turned his glass upside
down, by way of reminding his companion that he had nothing
left wherewith to slake his thirst. Sam observed the hint; and
feeling the delicate manner in which it was conveyed, ordered the
pewter vessel to be refilled, whereat the small eyes of the mulberry
man glistened.
'And so it's a secret?' said Sam.
'I should rather suspect it was,' said the mulberry man,
sipping his liquor, with a complacent face.
'i suppose your mas'r's wery rich?' said Sam.
Mr. Trotter smiled, and holding his glass in his left hand, gave
four distinct slaps on the pockets of his mulberry indescribables
with his right, as if to intimate that his master might have done
the same without alarming anybody much by the chinking of coin.
'Ah,' said Sam, 'that's the game, is it?'
The mulberry man nodded significantly.
'Well, and don't you think, old feller,' remonstrated Mr.
Weller, 'that if you let your master take in this here young lady,
you're a precious rascal?'
'I know that,' said Job Trotter, turning upon his companion a
countenance of deep contrition, and groaning slightly, 'I know
that, and that's what it is that preys upon my mind. But what am
I to do?'
'Do!' said Sam; 'di-wulge to the missis, and give up your master.'
'Who'd believe me?' replied Job Trotter. 'The young lady's
considered the very picture of innocence and discretion. She'd
deny it, and so would my master. Who'd believe me? I should lose
my place, and get indicted for a conspiracy, or some such thing;
that's all I should take by my motion.'
'There's somethin' in that,' said Sam, ruminating; 'there's
somethin' in that.'
'If I knew any respectable gentleman who would take the
matter up,' continued Mr. Trotter. 'I might have some hope of
preventing the elopement; but there's the same difficulty, Mr.
Walker, just the same. I know no gentleman in this strange place;
and ten to one if I did, whether he would believe my story.'
'Come this way,' said Sam, suddenly jumping up, and grasping
the mulberry man by the arm. 'My mas'r's the man you want, I
see.' And after a slight resistance on the part of Job Trotter, Sam
led his newly-found friend to the apartment of Mr. Pickwick, to
whom he presented him, together with a brief summary of the
dialogue we have just repeated.
'I am very sorry to betray my master, sir,' said Job Trotter,
applying to his eyes a pink checked pocket-handkerchief about
six inches square.
'The feeling does you a great deal of honour,' replied Mr.
Pickwick; 'but it is your duty, nevertheless.'
'I know it is my duty, Sir,' replied Job, with great emotion.
'We should all try to discharge our duty, Sir, and I humbly
endeavour to discharge mine, Sir; but it is a hard trial to betray a
master, Sir, whose clothes you wear, and whose bread you eat,
even though he is a scoundrel, Sir.'
'You are a very good fellow,' said Mr. Pickwick, much
affected; 'an honest fellow.'
'Come, come,' interposed Sam, who had witnessed Mr.
Trotter's tears with considerable impatience, 'blow this 'ere
water-cart bis'ness. It won't do no good, this won't.'
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick reproachfully. 'I am sorry to find
that you have so little respect for this young man's feelings.'
'His feelin's is all wery well, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'and as
they're so wery fine, and it's a pity he should lose 'em, I think
he'd better keep 'em in his own buzzum, than let 'em ewaporate
in hot water, 'specially as they do no good. Tears never yet
wound up a clock, or worked a steam ingin'. The next time you
go out to a smoking party, young fellow, fill your pipe with that
'ere reflection; and for the present just put that bit of pink
gingham into your pocket. 'Tain't so handsome that you need
keep waving it about, as if you was a tight-rope dancer.'
'My man is in the right,' said Mr. Pickwick, accosting Job,
'although his mode of expressing his opinion is somewhat
homely, and occasionally incomprehensible.'
'He is, sir, very right,' said Mr. Trotter, 'and I will give way
no longer.'
'Very well,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Now, where is this
'It is a large, old, red brick house, just outside the town, Sir,'
replied Job Trotter.
'And when,' said Mr. Pickwick--'when is this villainous design
to be carried into execution--when is this elopement to
take place?'
'To-night, Sir,' replied Job.
'To-night!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.
'This very night, sir,' replied Job Trotter. 'That is what alarms
me so much.'
'Instant measures must be taken,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I will see
the lady who keeps the establishment immediately.'
'I beg your pardon, Sir,' said Job, 'but that course of proceeding
will never do.'
'Why not?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'My master, sir, is a very artful man.'
'I know he is,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'And he has so wound himself round the old lady's heart, Sir,'
resumed Job, 'that she would believe nothing to his prejudice, if
you went down on your bare knees, and swore it; especially as
you have no proof but the word of a servant, who, for anything
she knows (and my master would be sure to say so), was discharged
for some fault, and does this in revenge.'
'What had better be done, then?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Nothing but taking him in the very act of eloping, will
convince the old lady, sir,' replied Job.
'All them old cats WILL run their heads agin milestones,'
observed Mr. Weller, in a parenthesis.
'But this taking him in the very act of elopement, would be a
very difficult thing to accomplish, I fear,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'I don't know, sir,' said Mr. Trotter, after a few moments'
reflection. 'I think it might be very easily done.'
'How?' was Mr. Pickwick's inquiry.
'Why,' replied Mr. Trotter, 'my master and I, being in the
confidence of the two servants, will be secreted in the kitchen at
ten o'clock. When the family have retired to rest, we shall come
out of the kitchen, and the young lady out of her bedroom. A
post-chaise will be waiting, and away we go.'
'Well?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Well, sir, I have been thinking that if you were in waiting in
the garden behind, alone--'
'Alone,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Why alone?'
'I thought it very natural,' replied Job, 'that the old lady
wouldn't like such an unpleasant discovery to be made before
more persons than can possibly be helped. The young lady, too,
sir--consider her feelings.'
'You are very right,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'The consideration
evinces your delicacy of feeling. Go on; you are very right.'
'Well, sir, I have been thinking that if you were waiting in the
back garden alone, and I was to let you in, at the door which
opens into it, from the end of the passage, at exactly half-past
eleven o'clock, you would be just in the very moment of time to
assist me in frustrating the designs of this bad man, by whom I
have been unfortunately ensnared.' Here Mr. Trotter sighed deeply.
'Don't distress yourself on that account,' said Mr. Pickwick;
'if he had one grain of the delicacy of feeling which distinguishes
you, humble as your station is, I should have some hopes of him.'
Job Trotter bowed low; and in spite of Mr. Weller's previous
remonstrance, the tears again rose to his eyes.
'I never see such a feller,' said Sam, 'Blessed if I don't think
he's got a main in his head as is always turned on.'
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, with great severity, 'hold
your tongue.'
'Wery well, sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
'I don't like this plan,' said Mr. Pickwick, after deep meditation.
'Why cannot I communicate with the young lady's friends?'
'Because they live one hundred miles from here, sir,' responded
Job Trotter.
'That's a clincher,' said Mr. Weller, aside.
'Then this garden,' resumed Mr. Pickwick. 'How am I to get
into it?'
'The wall is very low, sir, and your servant will give you a
leg up.'
'My servant will give me a leg up,' repeated Mr. Pickwick
mechanically. 'You will be sure to be near this door that you
speak of?'
'You cannot mistake it, Sir; it's the only one that opens into
the garden. Tap at it when you hear the clock strike, and I will
open it instantly.'
'I don't like the plan,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'but as I see no
other, and as the happiness of this young lady's whole life is at
stake, I adopt it. I shall be sure to be there.'
Thus, for the second time, did Mr. Pickwick's innate goodfeeling
involve him in an enterprise from which he would most
willingly have stood aloof.
'What is the name of the house?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Westgate House, Sir. You turn a little to the right when you
get to the end of the town; it stands by itself, some little distance
off the high road, with the name on a brass plate on the gate.'
'I know it,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I observed it once before, when
I was in this town. You may depend upon me.'
Mr. Trotter made another bow, and turned to depart, when
Mr. Pickwick thrust a guinea into his hand.
'You're a fine fellow,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and I admire your
goodness of heart. No thanks. Remember--eleven o'clock.'
'There is no fear of my forgetting it, sir,' replied Job Trotter.
With these words he left the room, followed by Sam.
'I say,' said the latter, 'not a bad notion that 'ere crying. I'd
cry like a rain-water spout in a shower on such good terms.
How do you do it?'
'It comes from the heart, Mr. Walker,' replied Job solemnly.
'Good-morning, sir.'
'You're a soft customer, you are; we've got it all out o' you,
anyhow,' thought Mr. Weller, as Job walked away.
We cannot state the precise nature of the thoughts which
passed through Mr. Trotter's mind, because we don't know what
they were.
The day wore on, evening came, and at a little before ten
o'clock Sam Weller reported that Mr. Jingle and Job had gone
out together, that their luggage was packed up, and that they had
ordered a chaise. The plot was evidently in execution, as Mr.
Trotter had foretold.
Half-past ten o'clock arrived, and it was time for Mr. Pickwick
to issue forth on his delicate errand. Resisting Sam's tender of his
greatcoat, in order that he might have no encumbrance in scaling
the wall, he set forth, followed by his attendant.
There was a bright moon, but it was behind the clouds. it was
a fine dry night, but it was most uncommonly dark. Paths,
hedges, fields, houses, and trees, were enveloped in one deep
shade. The atmosphere was hot and sultry, the summer lightning
quivered faintly on the verge of the horizon, and was the only
sight that varied the dull gloom in which everything was wrapped
--sound there was none, except the distant barking of some
restless house-dog.
They found the house, read the brass plate, walked round the
wall, and stopped at that portion of it which divided them from
the bottom of the garden.
'You will return to the inn, Sam, when you have assisted me
over,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Wery well, Sir.'
'And you will sit up, till I return.'
'Cert'nly, Sir.'
'Take hold of my leg; and, when I say "Over," raise me gently.'
'All right, sir.'
Having settled these preliminaries, Mr. Pickwick grasped the
top of the wall, and gave the word 'Over,' which was literally
obeyed. Whether his body partook in some degree of the elasticity
of his mind, or whether Mr. Weller's notions of a gentle push
were of a somewhat rougher description than Mr. Pickwick's, the
immediate effect of his assistance was to jerk that immortal
gentleman completely over the wall on to the bed beneath,
where, after crushing three gooseberry-bushes and a rose-tree, he
finally alighted at full length.
'You ha'n't hurt yourself, I hope, Sir?' said Sam, in a loud
whisper, as soon as he had recovered from the surprise consequent
upon the mysterious disappearance of his master.
'I have not hurt MYSELF, Sam, certainly,' replied Mr. Pickwick,
from the other side of the wall, 'but I rather think that YOU have
hurt me.'
'I hope not, Sir,' said Sam.
'Never mind,' said Mr. Pickwick, rising, 'it's nothing but a few
scratches. Go away, or we shall be overheard.'
'Good-bye, Sir.'
With stealthy steps Sam Weller departed, leaving Mr. Pickwick
alone in the garden.
Lights occasionally appeared in the different windows of the
house, or glanced from the staircases, as if the inmates were
retiring to rest. Not caring to go too near the door, until the
appointed time, Mr. Pickwick crouched into an angle of the wall,
and awaited its arrival.
It was a situation which might well have depressed the spirits
of many a man. Mr. Pickwick, however, felt neither depression
nor misgiving. He knew that his purpose was in the main a good
one, and he placed implicit reliance on the high-minded Job. it
was dull, certainly; not to say dreary; but a contemplative man
can always employ himself in meditation. Mr. Pickwick had
meditated himself into a doze, when he was roused by the chimes
of the neighbouring church ringing out the hour--half-past eleven.
'That's the time,' thought Mr. Pickwick, getting cautiously on
his feet. He looked up at the house. The lights had disappeared,
and the shutters were closed--all in bed, no doubt. He walked
on tiptoe to the door, and gave a gentle tap. Two or three
minutes passing without any reply, he gave another tap rather
louder, and then another rather louder than that.
At length the sound of feet was audible upon the stairs, and
then the light of a candle shone through the keyhole of the door.
There was a good deal of unchaining and unbolting, and the door
was slowly opened.
Now the door opened outwards; and as the door opened wider
and wider, Mr. Pickwick receded behind it, more and more. What
was his astonishment when he just peeped out, by way of caution,
to see that the person who had opened it was--not Job Trotter,
but a servant-girl with a candle in her hand! Mr. Pickwick drew
in his head again, with the swiftness displayed by that admirable
melodramatic performer, Punch, when he lies in wait for the
flat-headed comedian with the tin box of music.
'It must have been the cat, Sarah,' said the girl, addressing
herself to some one in the house. 'Puss, puss, puss,--tit, tit, tit.'
But no animal being decoyed by these blandishments, the girl
slowly closed the door, and re-fastened it; leaving Mr. Pickwick
drawn up straight against the wall.
'This is very curious,' thought Mr. Pickwick. 'They are sitting
up beyond their usual hour, I suppose. Extremely unfortunate,
that they should have chosen this night, of all others, for such a
purpose--exceedingly.' And with these thoughts, Mr. Pickwick
cautiously retired to the angle of the wall in which he had been
before ensconced; waiting until such time as he might deem it
safe to repeat the signal.
He had not been here five minutes, when a vivid flash
of lightning was followed by a loud peal of thunder that
crashed and rolled away in the distance with a terrific noise--
then came another flash of lightning, brighter than the other,
and a second peal of thunder louder than the first; and then
down came the rain, with a force and fury that swept everything
before it.
Mr. Pickwick was perfectly aware that a tree is a very dangerous
neighbour in a thunderstorm. He had a tree on his right, a
tree on his left, a third before him, and a fourth behind. If he
remained where he was, he might fall the victim of an accident;
if he showed himself in the centre of the garden, he might be
consigned to a constable. Once or twice he tried to scale the wall,
but having no other legs this time, than those with which Nature
had furnished him, the only effect of his struggles was to inflict a
variety of very unpleasant gratings on his knees and shins, and to
throw him into a state of the most profuse perspiration.
'What a dreadful situation,' said Mr. Pickwick, pausing to
wipe his brow after this exercise. He looked up at the house--all
was dark. They must be gone to bed now. He would try the
signal again.
He walked on tiptoe across the moist gravel, and tapped at the
door. He held his breath, and listened at the key-hole. No reply:
very odd. Another knock. He listened again. There was a low
whispering inside, and then a voice cried--
'Who's there?'
'That's not Job,' thought Mr. Pickwick, hastily drawing himself
straight up against the wall again. 'It's a woman.'
He had scarcely had time to form this conclusion, when a
window above stairs was thrown up, and three or four female
voices repeated the query--'Who's there?'
Mr. Pickwick dared not move hand or foot. It was clear that
the whole establishment was roused. He made up his mind to
remain where he was, until the alarm had subsided; and then by
a supernatural effort, to get over the wall, or perish in
the attempt.
Like all Mr. Pickwick's determinations, this was the best that
could be made under the circumstances; but, unfortunately, it
was founded upon the assumption that they would not venture
to open the door again. What was his discomfiture, when he
heard the chain and bolts withdrawn, and saw the door slowly
opening, wider and wider! He retreated into the corner, step by
step; but do what he would, the interposition of his own person,
prevented its being opened to its utmost width.
'Who's there?' screamed a numerous chorus of treble voices
from the staircase inside, consisting of the spinster lady of the
establishment, three teachers, five female servants, and thirty
boarders, all half-dressed and in a forest of curl-papers.
Of course Mr. Pickwick didn't say who was there: and then the
burden of the chorus changed into--'Lor! I am so frightened.'
'Cook,' said the lady abbess, who took care to be on the top
stair, the very last of the group--'cook, why don't you go a little
way into the garden?'
'Please, ma'am, I don't like,' responded the cook.
'Lor, what a stupid thing that cook is!' said the thirty boarders.
'Cook,' said the lady abbess, with great dignity; 'don't
answer me, if you please. I insist upon your looking into the
garden immediately.'
Here the cook began to cry, and the housemaid said it was 'a
shame!' for which partisanship she received a month's warning
on the spot.
'Do you hear, cook?' said the lady abbess, stamping her
foot impatiently.
'Don't you hear your missis, cook?' said the three teachers.
'What an impudent thing that cook is!' said the thirty boarders.
The unfortunate cook, thus strongly urged, advanced a step or
two, and holding her candle just where it prevented her from
seeing at all, declared there was nothing there, and it must have
been the wind. The door was just going to be closed in consequence,
when an inquisitive boarder, who had been peeping
between the hinges, set up a fearful screaming, which called back
the cook and housemaid, and all the more adventurous, in no time.
'What is the matter with Miss Smithers?' said the lady abbess,
as the aforesaid Miss Smithers proceeded to go into hysterics of
four young lady power.
'Lor, Miss Smithers, dear,' said the other nine-and-twenty
'Oh, the man--the man--behind the door!' screamed Miss Smithers.
The lady abbess no sooner heard this appalling cry, than she
retreated to her own bedroom, double-locked the door, and
fainted away comfortably. The boarders, and the teachers, and
the servants, fell back upon the stairs, and upon each other; and
never was such a screaming, and fainting, and struggling beheld.
In the midst of the tumult, Mr. Pickwick emerged from his
concealment, and presented himself amongst them.
'Ladies--dear ladies,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Oh. he says we're dear,' cried the oldest and ugliest teacher.
'Oh, the wretch!'
'Ladies,' roared Mr. Pickwick, rendered desperate by the
danger of his situation. 'Hear me. I am no robber. I want the lady
of the house.'
'Oh, what a ferocious monster!' screamed another teacher.
'He wants Miss Tomkins.'
Here there was a general scream.
'Ring the alarm bell, somebody!' cried a dozen voices.
'Don't--don't,' shouted Mr. Pickwick. 'Look at me. Do I look
like a robber! My dear ladies--you may bind me hand and leg,
or lock me up in a closet, if you like. Only hear what I have got
to say--only hear me.'
'How did you come in our garden?' faltered the housemaid.
'Call the lady of the house, and I'll tell her everything,' said
Mr. Pickwick, exerting his lungs to the utmost pitch. 'Call her--
only be quiet, and call her, and you shall hear everything .'
It might have been Mr. Pickwick's appearance, or it might have
been his manner, or it might have been the temptation--
irresistible to a female mind--of hearing something at present
enveloped in mystery, that reduced the more reasonable portion
of the establishment (some four individuals) to a state of
comparative quiet. By them it was proposed, as a test of Mr.
Pickwick's sincerity, that he should immediately submit to personal
restraint; and that gentleman having consented to hold a
conference with Miss Tomkins, from the interior of a closet in
which the day boarders hung their bonnets and sandwich-bags,
he at once stepped into it, of his own accord, and was securely
locked in. This revived the others; and Miss Tomkins having
been brought to, and brought down, the conference began.
'What did you do in my garden, man?' said Miss Tomkins, in
a faint voice.
'I came to warn you that one of your young ladies was going to
elope to-night,' replied Mr. Pickwick, from the interior of the closet.
'Elope!' exclaimed Miss Tomkins, the three teachers, the
thirty boarders, and the five servants. 'Who with?'
'Your friend, Mr. Charles Fitz-Marshall.'
'MY friend! I don't know any such person.'
'Well, Mr. Jingle, then.'
'I never heard the name in my life.'
'Then, I have been deceived, and deluded,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'I have been the victim of a conspiracy--a foul and base conspiracy.
Send to the Angel, my dear ma'am, if you don't believe me.
Send to the Angel for Mr. Pickwick's manservant, I implore
you, ma'am.'
'He must be respectable--he keeps a manservant,' said Miss
Tomkins to the writing and ciphering governess.
'It's my opinion, Miss Tomkins,' said the writing and ciphering
governess, 'that his manservant keeps him, I think he's a madman,
Miss Tomkins, and the other's his keeper.'
'I think you are very right, Miss Gwynn,' responded Miss
Tomkins. 'Let two of the servants repair to the Angel, and let the
others remain here, to protect us.'
So two of the servants were despatched to the Angel in search
of Mr. Samuel Weller; and the remaining three stopped behind
to protect Miss Tomkins, and the three teachers, and the thirty
boarders. And Mr. Pickwick sat down in the closet, beneath a
grove of sandwich-bags, and awaited the return of the messengers,
with all the philosophy and fortitude he could summon to his aid.
An hour and a half elapsed before they came back, and when
they did come, Mr. Pickwick recognised, in addition to the voice
of Mr. Samuel Weller, two other voices, the tones of which
struck familiarly on his ear; but whose they were, he could not for
the life of him call to mind.
A very brief conversation ensued. The door was unlocked.
Mr. Pickwick stepped out of the closet, and found himself in the
presence of the whole establishment of Westgate House, Mr
Samuel Weller, and--old Wardle, and his destined son-in-law,
Mr. Trundle!
'My dear friend,' said Mr. Pickwick, running forward and
grasping Wardle's hand, 'my dear friend, pray, for Heaven's sake,
explain to this lady the unfortunate and dreadful situation in
which I am placed. You must have heard it from my servant;
say, at all events, my dear fellow, that I am neither a robber nor
a madman.'
'I have said so, my dear friend. I have said so already,' replied
Mr. Wardle, shaking the right hand of his friend, while Mr.
Trundle shook the left.
'And whoever says, or has said, he is,' interposed Mr. Weller,
stepping forward, 'says that which is not the truth, but so far
from it, on the contrary, quite the rewerse. And if there's any
number o' men on these here premises as has said so, I shall be
wery happy to give 'em all a wery convincing proof o' their being
mistaken, in this here wery room, if these wery respectable ladies
'll have the goodness to retire, and order 'em up, one at a time.'
Having delivered this defiance with great volubility, Mr. Weller
struck his open palm emphatically with his clenched fist, and
winked pleasantly on Miss Tomkins, the intensity of whose
horror at his supposing it within the bounds of possibility that
there could be any men on the premises of Westgate House
Establishment for Young Ladies, it is impossible to describe.
Mr. Pickwick's explanation having already been partially made,
was soon concluded. But neither in the course of his walk home
with his friends, nor afterwards when seated before a blazing
fire at the supper he so much needed, could a single observation
be drawn from him. He seemed bewildered and amazed. Once,
and only once, he turned round to Mr. Wardle, and said--
'How did you come here?'
'Trundle and I came down here, for some good shooting on
the first,' replied Wardle. 'We arrived to-night, and were
astonished to hear from your servant that you were here too.
But I am glad you are,' said the old fellow, slapping him on
the back--'I am glad you are. We shall have a jovial party
on the first, and we'll give Winkle another chance--eh, old
Mr. Pickwick made no reply, he did not even ask after his
friends at Dingley Dell, and shortly afterwards retired for the
night, desiring Sam to fetch his candle when he rung.
The bell did ring in due course, and Mr. Weller presented himself.
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking out from under the bed-clothes.
'Sir,' said Mr. Weller.
Mr. Pickwick paused, and Mr. Weller snuffed the candle.
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick again, as if with a desperate effort.
'Sir,' said Mr. Weller, once more.
'Where is that Trotter?'
'Job, sir?'
'Gone, sir.'
'With his master, I suppose?'
'Friend or master, or whatever he is, he's gone with him,'
replied Mr. Weller. 'There's a pair on 'em, sir.'
'Jingle suspected my design, and set that fellow on you, with
this story, I suppose?' said Mr. Pickwick, half choking.
'Just that, sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
'It was all false, of course?'
'All, sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'Reg'lar do, sir; artful dodge.'
'I don't think he'll escape us quite so easily the next time, Sam!'
said Mr. Pickwick.
'I don't think he will, Sir.'
'Whenever I meet that Jingle again, wherever it is,' said Mr.
Pickwick, raising himself in bed, and indenting his pillow with a
tremendous blow, 'I'll inflict personal chastisement on him, in
addition to the exposure he so richly merits. I will, or my name
is not Pickwick.'
'And venever I catches hold o' that there melan-cholly chap
with the black hair,' said Sam, 'if I don't bring some real water
into his eyes, for once in a way, my name ain't Weller. Goodnight,
The constitution of Mr. Pickwick, though able to sustain a very
considerable amount of exertion and fatigue, was not proof against
such a combination of attacks as he had undergone on the memorable
night, recorded in the last chapter. The process of being washed
in the night air, and rough-dried in a closet, is as dangerous as
it is peculiar. Mr. Pickwick was laid up with an attack of rheumatism.
But although the bodily powers of the great man were thus
impaired, his mental energies retained their pristine vigour. His
spirits were elastic; his good-humour was restored. Even the
vexation consequent upon his recent adventure had vanished
from his mind; and he could join in the hearty laughter, which
any allusion to it excited in Mr. Wardle, without anger and
without embarrassment. Nay, more. During the two days Mr.
Pickwick was confined to bed, Sam was his constant attendant.
On the first, he endeavoured to amuse his master by anecdote
and conversation; on the second, Mr. Pickwick demanded his
writing-desk, and pen and ink, and was deeply engaged during
the whole day. On the third, being able to sit up in his bedchamber,
he despatched his valet with a message to Mr. Wardle and Mr. Trundle,
intimating that if they would take their wine there, that evening,
they would greatly oblige him. The invitation was most willingly
accepted; and when they were seated over
their wine, Mr. Pickwick, with sundry blushes, produced the
following little tale, as having been 'edited' by himself, during his
recent indisposition, from his notes of Mr. Weller's
unsophisticated recital.
'Once upon a time, in a very small country town, at a considerable
distance from London, there lived a little man named Nathaniel
Pipkin, who was the parish clerk of the little town, and lived in a
little house in the little High Street, within ten minutes' walk
from the little church; and who was to be found every day, from
nine till four, teaching a little learning to the little boys. Nathaniel
Pipkin was a harmless, inoffensive, good-natured being, with a
turned-up nose, and rather turned-in legs, a cast in his eye, and a
halt in his gait; and he divided his time between the church and
his school, verily believing that there existed not, on the face of
the earth, so clever a man as the curate, so imposing an apartment
as the vestry-room, or so well-ordered a seminary as his own.
Once, and only once, in his life, Nathaniel Pipkin had seen a
bishop--a real bishop, with his arms in lawn sleeves, and his
head in a wig. He had seen him walk, and heard him talk, at a
confirmation, on which momentous occasion Nathaniel Pipkin
was so overcome with reverence and awe, when the aforesaid
bishop laid his hand on his head, that he fainted right clean
away, and was borne out of church in the arms of the beadle.
'This was a great event, a tremendous era, in Nathaniel
Pipkin's life, and it was the only one that had ever occurred to
ruffle the smooth current of his quiet existence, when happening
one fine afternoon, in a fit of mental abstraction, to raise his eyes
from the slate on which he was devising some tremendous
problem in compound addition for an offending urchin to solve,
they suddenly rested on the blooming countenance of Maria
Lobbs, the only daughter of old Lobbs, the great saddler over the
way. Now, the eyes of Mr. Pipkin had rested on the pretty face
of Maria Lobbs many a time and oft before, at church and elsewhere;
but the eyes of Maria Lobbs had never looked so bright,
the cheeks of Maria Lobbs had never looked so ruddy, as upon
this particular occasion. No wonder then, that Nathaniel Pipkin
was unable to take his eyes from the countenance of Miss Lobbs;
no wonder that Miss Lobbs, finding herself stared at by a young
man, withdrew her head from the window out of which she had
been peeping, and shut the casement and pulled down the blind;
no wonder that Nathaniel Pipkin, immediately thereafter, fell
upon the young urchin who had previously offended, and cuffed
and knocked him about to his heart's content. All this was very
natural, and there's nothing at all to wonder at about it.
'It IS matter of wonder, though, that anyone of Mr. Nathaniel
Pipkin's retiring disposition, nervous temperament, and most
particularly diminutive income, should from this day forth, have
dared to aspire to the hand and heart of the only daughter of the
fiery old Lobbs--of old Lobbs, the great saddler, who could have
bought up the whole village at one stroke of his pen, and never
felt the outlay--old Lobbs, who was well known to have heaps of
money, invested in the bank at the nearest market town--who
was reported to have countless and inexhaustible treasures
hoarded up in the little iron safe with the big keyhole, over the
chimney-piece in the back parlour--and who, it was well known,
on festive occasions garnished his board with a real silver teapot,
cream-ewer, and sugar-basin, which he was wont, in the pride of
his heart, to boast should be his daughter's property when she
found a man to her mind. I repeat it, to be matter of profound
astonishment and intense wonder, that Nathaniel Pipkin should
have had the temerity to cast his eyes in this direction. But love is
blind; and Nathaniel had a cast in his eye; and perhaps these two
circumstances, taken together, prevented his seeing the matter in
its proper light.
'Now, if old Lobbs had entertained the most remote or distant
idea of the state of the affections of Nathaniel Pipkin, he would
just have razed the school-room to the ground, or exterminated
its master from the surface of the earth, or committed some other
outrage and atrocity of an equally ferocious and violent description;
for he was a terrible old fellow, was Lobbs, when his pride
was injured, or his blood was up. Swear! Such trains of oaths
would come rolling and pealing over the way, sometimes, when
he was denouncing the idleness of the bony apprentice with the
thin legs, that Nathaniel Pipkin would shake in his shoes with
horror, and the hair of the pupils' heads would stand on end
with fright.
'Well! Day after day, when school was over, and the pupils
gone, did Nathaniel Pipkin sit himself down at the front window,
and, while he feigned to be reading a book, throw sidelong glances
over the way in search of the bright eyes of Maria Lobbs; and he
hadn't sat there many days, before the bright eyes appeared at an
upper window, apparently deeply engaged in reading too. This
was delightful, and gladdening to the heart of Nathaniel Pipkin.
It was something to sit there for hours together, and look upon
that pretty face when the eyes were cast down; but when Maria
Lobbs began to raise her eyes from her book, and dart their rays
in the direction of Nathaniel Pipkin, his delight and admiration
were perfectly boundless. At last, one day when he knew old
Lobbs was out, Nathaniel Pipkin had the temerity to kiss his hand
to Maria Lobbs; and Maria Lobbs, instead of shutting the
window, and pulling down the blind, kissed HERS to him, and
smiled. Upon which Nathaniel Pipkin determined, that, come
what might, he would develop the state of his feelings, without
further delay.
'A prettier foot, a gayer heart, a more dimpled face, or a
smarter form, never bounded so lightly over the earth they
graced, as did those of Maria Lobbs, the old saddler's daughter.
There was a roguish twinkle in her sparkling eyes, that would
have made its way to far less susceptible bosoms than that of
Nathaniel Pipkin; and there was such a joyous sound in her
merry laugh, that the sternest misanthrope must have smiled to
hear it. Even old Lobbs himself, in the very height of his ferocity,
couldn't resist the coaxing of his pretty daughter; and when she,
and her cousin Kate--an arch, impudent-looking, bewitching
little person--made a dead set upon the old man together, as, to
say the truth, they very often did, he could have refused them
nothing, even had they asked for a portion of the countless and
inexhaustible treasures, which were hidden from the light, in the
iron safe.
'Nathaniel Pipkin's heart beat high within him, when he saw
this enticing little couple some hundred yards before him one
summer's evening, in the very field in which he had many a time
strolled about till night-time, and pondered on the beauty of
Maria Lobbs. But though he had often thought then, how briskly
he would walk up to Maria Lobbs and tell her of his passion if he
could only meet her, he felt, now that she was unexpectedly
before him, all the blood in his body mounting to his face,
manifestly to the great detriment of his legs, which, deprived of
their usual portion, trembled beneath him. When they stopped to
gather a hedge flower, or listen to a bird, Nathaniel Pipkin
stopped too, and pretended to be absorbed in meditation, as
indeed he really was; for he was thinking what on earth he should
ever do, when they turned back, as they inevitably must in time,
and meet him face to face. But though he was afraid to make up
to them, he couldn't bear to lose sight of them; so when they
walked faster he walked faster, when they lingered he lingered,
and when they stopped he stopped; and so they might have gone
on, until the darkness prevented them, if Kate had not looked
slyly back, and encouragingly beckoned Nathaniel to advance.
There was something in Kate's manner that was not to be
resisted, and so Nathaniel Pipkin complied with the invitation;
and after a great deal of blushing on his part, and immoderate
laughter on that of the wicked little cousin, Nathaniel Pipkin
went down on his knees on the dewy grass, and declared his
resolution to remain there for ever, unless he were permitted to
rise the accepted lover of Maria Lobbs. Upon this, the merry
laughter of Miss Lobbs rang through the calm evening air--
without seeming to disturb it, though; it had such a pleasant
sound--and the wicked little cousin laughed more immoderately
than before, and Nathaniel Pipkin blushed deeper than ever. At
length, Maria Lobbs being more strenuously urged by the loveworn
little man, turned away her head, and whispered her cousin
to say, or at all events Kate did say, that she felt much honoured
by Mr. Pipkin's addresses; that her hand and heart were at her
father's disposal; but that nobody could be insensible to Mr.
Pipkin's merits. As all this was said with much gravity, and as
Nathaniel Pipkin walked home with Maria Lobbs, and struggled
for a kiss at parting, he went to bed a happy man, and dreamed
all night long, of softening old Lobbs, opening the strong box,
and marrying Maria.
The next day, Nathaniel Pipkin saw old Lobbs go out upon
his old gray pony, and after a great many signs at the window
from the wicked little cousin, the object and meaning of which he
could by no means understand, the bony apprentice with the thin
legs came over to say that his master wasn't coming home all
night, and that the ladies expected Mr. Pipkin to tea, at six
o'clock precisely. How the lessons were got through that day,
neither Nathaniel Pipkin nor his pupils knew any more than you
do; but they were got through somehow, and, after the boys had
gone, Nathaniel Pipkin took till full six o'clock to dress himself
to his satisfaction. Not that it took long to select the garments he
should wear, inasmuch as he had no choice about the matter;
but the putting of them on to the best advantage, and the touching
of them up previously, was a task of no inconsiderable difficulty
or importance.
'There was a very snug little party, consisting of Maria Lobbs
and her cousin Kate, and three or four romping, good-humoured,
rosy-cheeked girls. Nathaniel Pipkin had ocular demonstration of
the fact, that the rumours of old Lobbs's treasures were not
exaggerated. There were the real solid silver teapot, cream-ewer,
and sugar-basin, on the table, and real silver spoons to stir the
tea with, and real china cups to drink it out of, and plates of the
same, to hold the cakes and toast in. The only eye-sore in the
whole place was another cousin of Maria Lobbs's, and a brother
of Kate, whom Maria Lobbs called "Henry," and who seemed
to keep Maria Lobbs all to himself, up in one corner of the table.
It's a delightful thing to see affection in families, but it may be
carried rather too far, and Nathaniel Pipkin could not help
thinking that Maria Lobbs must be very particularly fond of her
relations, if she paid as much attention to all of them as to this
individual cousin. After tea, too, when the wicked little cousin
proposed a game at blind man's buff, it somehow or other
happened that Nathaniel Pipkin was nearly always blind, and
whenever he laid his hand upon the male cousin, he was sure to
find that Maria Lobbs was not far off. And though the wicked
little cousin and the other girls pinched him, and pulled his hair,
and pushed chairs in his way, and all sorts of things, Maria Lobbs
never seemed to come near him at all; and once--once--Nathaniel
Pipkin could have sworn he heard the sound of a kiss,
followed by a faint remonstrance from Maria Lobbs, and a halfsuppressed
laugh from her female friends. All this was odd--
very odd--and there is no saying what Nathaniel Pipkin might
or might not have done, in consequence, if his thoughts had not
been suddenly directed into a new channel.
'The circumstance which directed his thoughts into a new
channel was a loud knocking at the street door, and the person
who made this loud knocking at the street door was no other
than old Lobbs himself, who had unexpectedly returned, and
was hammering away, like a coffin-maker; for he wanted his
supper. The alarming intelligence was no sooner communicated
by the bony apprentice with the thin legs, than the girls tripped
upstairs to Maria Lobbs's bedroom, and the male cousin and
Nathaniel Pipkin were thrust into a couple of closets in the
sitting-room, for want of any better places of concealment; and
when Maria Lobbs and the wicked little cousin had stowed them
away, and put the room to rights, they opened the street door to
old Lobbs, who had never left off knocking since he first began.
'Now it did unfortunately happen that old Lobbs being very
hungry was monstrous cross. Nathaniel Pipkin could hear him
growling away like an old mastiff with a sore throat; and whenever
the unfortunate apprentice with the thin legs came into the
room, so surely did old Lobbs commence swearing at him in a
most Saracenic and ferocious manner, though apparently with
no other end or object than that of easing his bosom by the
discharge of a few superfluous oaths. At length some supper,
which had been warming up, was placed on the table, and then
old Lobbs fell to, in regular style; and having made clear work of
it in no time, kissed his daughter, and demanded his pipe.
'Nature had placed Nathaniel Pipkin's knees in very close
juxtaposition, but when he heard old Lobbs demand his pipe,
they knocked together, as if they were going to reduce each other
to powder; for, depending from a couple of hooks, in the very
closet in which he stood, was a large, brown-stemmed, silverbowled
pipe, which pipe he himself had seen in the mouth of old
Lobbs, regularly every afternoon and evening, for the last five
years. The two girls went downstairs for the pipe, and upstairs for
the pipe, and everywhere but where they knew the pipe was, and
old Lobbs stormed away meanwhile, in the most wonderful
manner. At last he thought of the closet, and walked up to it. It
was of no use a little man like Nathaniel Pipkin pulling the
door inwards, when a great strong fellow like old Lobbs was
pulling it outwards. Old Lobbs gave it one tug, and open it flew,
disclosing Nathaniel Pipkin standing bolt upright inside, and
shaking with apprehension from head to foot. Bless us! what an
appalling look old Lobbs gave him, as he dragged him out by the
collar, and held him at arm's length.
'"Why, what the devil do you want here?" said old Lobbs, in
a fearful voice.
'Nathaniel Pipkin could make no reply, so old Lobbs shook
him backwards and forwards, for two or three minutes, by way
of arranging his ideas for him.
'"What do you want here?" roared Lobbs; "I suppose you
have come after my daughter, now!"
'Old Lobbs merely said this as a sneer: for he did not believe
that mortal presumption could have carried Nathaniel Pipkin so
far. What was his indignation, when that poor man replied--
'"Yes, I did, Mr. Lobbs, I did come after your daughter. I
love her, Mr. Lobbs."
'"Why, you snivelling, wry-faced, puny villain," gasped old
Lobbs, paralysed by the atrocious confession; "what do you
mean by that? Say this to my face! Damme, I'll throttle you!"
'It is by no means improbable that old Lobbs would have
carried his threat into execution, in the excess of his rage, if his
arm had not been stayed by a very unexpected apparition: to wit,
the male cousin, who, stepping out of his closet, and walking up
to old Lobbs, said--
'"I cannot allow this harmless person, Sir, who has been asked
here, in some girlish frolic, to take upon himself, in a very noble
manner, the fault (if fault it is) which I am guilty of, and am
ready to avow. I love your daughter, sir; and I came here for the
purpose of meeting her."
'Old Lobbs opened his eyes very wide at this, but not wider
than Nathaniel Pipkin.
'"You did?" said Lobbs, at last finding breath to speak.
'"I did."
'"And I forbade you this house, long ago."
'"You did, or I should not have been here, clandestinely,
'I am sorry to record it of old Lobbs, but I think he would
have struck the cousin, if his pretty daughter, with her bright eyes
swimming in tears, had not clung to his arm.
'"Don't stop him, Maria," said the young man; "if he has the
will to strike me, let him. I would not hurt a hair of his gray head,
for the riches of the world."
'The old man cast down his eyes at this reproof, and they met
those of his daughter. I have hinted once or twice before, that
they were very bright eyes, and, though they were tearful now,
their influence was by no means lessened. Old Lobbs turned
his head away, as if to avoid being persuaded by them,
when, as fortune would have it, he encountered the face of
the wicked little cousin, who, half afraid for her brother, and
half laughing at Nathaniel Pipkin, presented as bewitching an
expression of countenance, with a touch of slyness in it, too, as
any man, old or young, need look upon. She drew her arm coaxingly
through the old man's, and whispered something in his
ear; and do what he would, old Lobbs couldn't help breaking
out into a smile, while a tear stole down his cheek at the same time.
'Five minutes after this, the girls were brought down from the
bedroom with a great deal of giggling and modesty; and while
the young people were making themselves perfectly happy, old
Lobbs got down the pipe, and smoked it; and it was a remarkable
circumstance about that particular pipe of tobacco, that it was
the most soothing and delightful one he ever smoked.
'Nathaniel Pipkin thought it best to keep his own counsel, and
by so doing gradually rose into high favour with old Lobbs. who
taught him to smoke in time; and they used to sit out in the
garden on the fine evenings, for many years afterwards, smoking
and drinking in great state. He soon recovered the effects of his
attachment, for we find his name in the parish register, as a
witness to the marriage of Maria Lobbs to her cousin; and it also
appears, by reference to other documents, that on the night of the
wedding he was incarcerated in the village cage, for having, in a
state of extreme intoxication, committed sundry excesses in the
streets, in all of which he was aided and abetted by the bony
apprentice with the thin legs.'
For two days after the DEJEUNE at Mrs. Hunter's, the Pickwickians
remained at Eatanswill, anxiously awaiting the arrival of some
intelligence from their revered leader. Mr. Tupman and Mr.
Snodgrass were once again left to their own means of amusement;
for Mr. Winkle, in compliance with a most pressing invitation,
continued to reside at Mr. Pott's house, and to devote his time
to the companionship of his amiable lady. Nor was the occasional
society of Mr. Pott himself wanting to complete their felicity.
Deeply immersed in the intensity of his speculations for the
public weal and the destruction of the INDEPENDENT, it was not the
habit of that great man to descend from his mental pinnacle to
the humble level of ordinary minds. On this occasion, however,
and as if expressly in compliment to any follower of Mr.
Pickwick's, he unbent, relaxed, stepped down from his pedestal,
and walked upon the ground, benignly adapting his remarks to the
comprehension of the herd, and seeming in outward form, if not in
spirit, to be one of them.
Such having been the demeanour of this celebrated public
character towards Mr. Winkle, it will be readily imagined that
considerable surprise was depicted on the countenance of the
latter gentleman, when, as he was sitting alone in the breakfastroom,
the door was hastily thrown open, and as hastily closed,
on the entrance of Mr. Pott, who, stalking majestically towards
him, and thrusting aside his proffered hand, ground his teeth, as
if to put a sharper edge on what he was about to utter, and
exclaimed, in a saw-like voice--
'Sir!' exclaimed Mr. Winkle, starting from his chair.
'Serpent, Sir,' repeated Mr. Pott, raising his voice, and then
suddenly depressing it: 'I said, serpent, sir--make the most of it.'
When you have parted with a man at two o'clock in the
morning, on terms of the utmost good-fellowship, and he meets
you again, at half-past nine, and greets you as a serpent, it is not
unreasonable to conclude that something of an unpleasant
nature has occurred meanwhile. So Mr. Winkle thought. He
returned Mr. Pott's gaze of stone, and in compliance with that
gentleman's request, proceeded to make the most he could of the
'serpent.' The most, however, was nothing at all; so, after a
profound silence of some minutes' duration, he said,--
'Serpent, Sir! Serpent, Mr. Pott! What can you mean, Sir?--
this is pleasantry.'
'Pleasantry, sir!' exclaimed Pott, with a motion of the hand,
indicative of a strong desire to hurl the Britannia metal teapot at
the head of the visitor. 'Pleasantry, sir!--But--no, I will be calm;
I will be calm, Sir;' in proof of his calmness, Mr. Pott flung
himself into a chair, and foamed at the mouth.
'My dear sir,' interposed Mr. Winkle.
'DEAR Sir!' replied Pott. 'How dare you address me, as dear Sir,
Sir? How dare you look me in the face and do it, sir?'
'Well, Sir, if you come to that,' responded Mr. Winkle, 'how
dare you look me in the face, and call me a serpent, sir?'
'Because you are one,' replied Mr. Pott.
'Prove it, Sir,' said Mr. Winkle warmly. 'Prove it.'
A malignant scowl passed over the profound face of the editor,
as he drew from his pocket the INDEPENDENT of that morning; and
laying his finger on a particular paragraph, threw the journal
across the table to Mr. Winkle.
That gentleman took it up, and read as follows:--
'Our obscure and filthy contemporary, in some disgusting
observations on the recent election for this borough, has presumed
to violate the hallowed sanctity of private life, and to refer,
in a manner not to be misunderstood, to the personal affairs of
our late candidate--aye, and notwithstanding his base defeat, we
will add, our future member, Mr. Fizkin. What does our dastardly
contemporary mean? What would the ruffian say, if we, setting
at naught, like him, the decencies of social intercourse, were to
raise the curtain which happily conceals His private life from
general ridicule, not to say from general execration? What, if we
were even to point out, and comment on, facts and circumstances,
which are publicly notorious, and beheld by every one but our
mole-eyed contemporary--what if we were to print the following
effusion, which we received while we were writing the commencement
of this article, from a talented fellow-townsman and
'"Oh Pott! if you'd known
How false she'd have grown,
When you heard the marriage bells tinkle;
You'd have done then, I vow,
What you cannot help now,
And handed her over to W*****"'
'What,' said Mr. Pott solemnly--'what rhymes to "tinkle,"
'What rhymes to tinkle?' said Mrs. Pott, whose entrance at the
moment forestalled the reply. 'What rhymes to tinkle? Why,
Winkle, I should conceive.' Saying this, Mrs. Pott smiled sweetly
on the disturbed Pickwickian, and extended her hand towards
him. The agitated young man would have accepted it, in his
confusion, had not Pott indignantly interposed.
'Back, ma'am--back!' said the editor. 'Take his hand before
my very face!'
'Mr. P.!' said his astonished lady.
'Wretched woman, look here,' exclaimed the husband. 'Look
here, ma'am--"Lines to a Brass Pot." "Brass Pot"; that's me,
ma'am. "False SHE'D have grown"; that's you, ma'am--you.'
With this ebullition of rage, which was not unaccompanied with
something like a tremble, at the expression of his wife's face,
Mr. Pott dashed the current number of the Eatanswill INDEPENDENT
at her feet.
'Upon my word, Sir,' said the astonished Mrs. Pott, stooping
to pick up the paper. 'Upon my word, Sir!'
Mr. Pott winced beneath the contemptuous gaze of his wife.
He had made a desperate struggle to screw up his courage, but it
was fast coming unscrewed again.
There appears nothing very tremendous in this little sentence,
'Upon my word, sir,' when it comes to be read; but the tone of
voice in which it was delivered, and the look that accompanied it,
both seeming to bear reference to some revenge to be thereafter
visited upon the head of Pott, produced their effect upon him.
The most unskilful observer could have detected in his troubled
countenance, a readiness to resign his Wellington boots to any
efficient substitute who would have consented to stand in them
at that moment.
Mrs. Pott read the paragraph, uttered a loud shriek, and
threw herself at full length on the hearth-rug, screaming, and
tapping it with the heels of her shoes, in a manner which could
leave no doubt of the propriety of her feelings on the occasion.
'My dear,' said the terrified Pott, 'I didn't say I believed it;--I--'
but the unfortunate man's voice was drowned in the
screaming of his partner.
'Mrs. Pott, let me entreat you, my dear ma'am, to compose
yourself,' said Mr. Winkle; but the shrieks and tappings were
louder, and more frequent than ever.
'My dear,' said Mr. Pott, 'I'm very sorry. If you won't consider
your own health, consider me, my dear. We shall have a crowd
round the house.' But the more strenuously Mr. Pott entreated,
the more vehemently the screams poured forth.
Very fortunately, however, attached to Mrs. Pott's person was
a bodyguard of one, a young lady whose ostensible employment
was to preside over her toilet, but who rendered herself useful in
a variety of ways, and in none more so than in the particular
department of constantly aiding and abetting her mistress in
every wish and inclination opposed to the desires of the unhappy
Pott. The screams reached this young lady's ears in due course,
and brought her into the room with a speed which threatened to
derange, materially, the very exquisite arrangement of her cap
and ringlets.
'Oh, my dear, dear mistress!' exclaimed the bodyguard,
kneeling frantically by the side of the prostrate Mrs. Pott. 'Oh,
my dear mistress, what is the matter?'
'Your master--your brutal master,' murmured the patient.
Pott was evidently giving way.
'It's a shame,' said the bodyguard reproachfully. 'I know he'll
be the death on you, ma'am. Poor dear thing!'
He gave way more. The opposite party followed up the attack.
'Oh, don't leave me--don't leave me, Goodwin,' murmured
Mrs. Pott, clutching at the wrist of the said Goodwin with an
hysteric jerk. 'You're the only person that's kind to me, Goodwin.'
At this affecting appeal, Goodwin got up a little domestic
tragedy of her own, and shed tears copiously.
'Never, ma'am--never,' said Goodwin.'Oh, sir, you should be
careful--you should indeed; you don't know what harm you may
do missis; you'll be sorry for it one day, I know--I've always
said so.'
The unlucky Pott looked timidly on, but said nothing.
'Goodwin,' said Mrs. Pott, in a soft voice.
'Ma'am,' said Goodwin.
'If you only knew how I have loved that man--'
'Don't distress yourself by recollecting it, ma'am,' said the bodyguard.
Pott looked very frightened. It was time to finish him.
'And now,' sobbed Mrs. Pott, 'now, after all, to be treated in
this way; to be reproached and insulted in the presence of a
third party, and that party almost a stranger. But I will not
submit to it! Goodwin,' continued Mrs. Pott, raising herself in
the arms of her attendant, 'my brother, the lieutenant, shall
interfere. I'll be separated, Goodwin!'
'It would certainly serve him right, ma'am,' said Goodwin.
Whatever thoughts the threat of a separation might have
awakened in Mr. Pott's mind, he forbore to give utterance to
them, and contented himself by saying, with great humility:--
'My dear, will you hear me?'
A fresh train of sobs was the only reply, as Mrs. Pott grew
more hysterical, requested to be informed why she was ever born,
and required sundry other pieces of information of a similar description.
'My dear,' remonstrated Mr. Pott, 'do not give way to these
sensitive feelings. I never believed that the paragraph had any
foundation, my dear--impossible. I was only angry, my dear--I
may say outrageous--with the INDEPENDENT people for daring to
insert it; that's all.' Mr. Pott cast an imploring look at the
innocent cause of the mischief, as if to entreat him to say nothing
about the serpent.
'And what steps, sir, do you mean to take to obtain redress?'
inquired Mr. Winkle, gaining courage as he saw Pott losing it.
'Oh, Goodwin,' observed Mrs. Pott, 'does he mean to horsewhip
the editor of the INDEPENDENT--does he, Goodwin?'
'Hush, hush, ma'am; pray keep yourself quiet,' replied the
bodyguard. 'I dare say he will, if you wish it, ma'am.'
'Certainly,' said Pott, as his wife evinced decided symptoms of
going off again. 'Of course I shall.'
'When, Goodwin--when?' said Mrs. Pott, still undecided
about the going off.
'Immediately, of course,' said Mr. Pott; 'before the day is out.'
'Oh, Goodwin,' resumed Mrs. Pott, 'it's the only way of
meeting the slander, and setting me right with the world.'
'Certainly, ma'am,' replied Goodwin. 'No man as is a man,
ma'am, could refuse to do it.'
So, as the hysterics were still hovering about, Mr. Pott said
once more that he would do it; but Mrs. Pott was so overcome at
the bare idea of having ever been suspected, that she was half a
dozen times on the very verge of a relapse, and most unquestionably
would have gone off, had it not been for the indefatigable
efforts of the assiduous Goodwin, and repeated entreaties for
pardon from the conquered Pott; and finally, when that unhappy
individual had been frightened and snubbed down to his proper
level, Mrs. Pott recovered, and they went to breakfast.
'You will not allow this base newspaper slander to shorten
your stay here, Mr. Winkle?' said Mrs. Pott, smiling through the
traces of her tears.
'I hope not,' said Mr. Pott, actuated, as he spoke, by a wish
that his visitor would choke himself with the morsel of dry toast
which he was raising to his lips at the moment, and so terminate
his stay effectually.
'I hope not.'
'You are very good,' said Mr. Winkle; 'but a letter has been
received from Mr. Pickwick--so I learn by a note from Mr.
Tupman, which was brought up to my bedroom door, this
morning--in which he requests us to join him at Bury to-day;
and we are to leave by the coach at noon.'
'But you will come back?' said Mrs. Pott.
'Oh, certainly,' replied Mr. Winkle.
'You are quite sure?' said Mrs. Pott, stealing a tender look at
her visitor.
'Quite,' responded Mr. Winkle.
The breakfast passed off in silence, for each of the party was
brooding over his, or her, own personal grievances. Mrs. Pott
was regretting the loss of a beau; Mr. Pott his rash pledge to
horsewhip the INDEPENDENT; Mr. Winkle his having innocently
placed himself in so awkward a situation. Noon approached, and
after many adieux and promises to return, he tore himself away.
'If he ever comes back, I'll poison him,' thought Mr. Pott, as
he turned into the little back office where he prepared his thunderbolts.
'If I ever do come back, and mix myself up with these people
again,'thought Mr. Winkle, as he wended his way to the Peacock,
'I shall deserve to be horsewhipped myself--that's all.'
His friends were ready, the coach was nearly so, and in half an
hour they were proceeding on their journey, along the road over
which Mr. Pickwick and Sam had so recently travelled, and of
which, as we have already said something, we do not feel called
upon to extract Mr. Snodgrass's poetical and beautiful description.
Mr. Weller was standing at the door of the Angel, ready to
receive them, and by that gentleman they were ushered to the
apartment of Mr. Pickwick, where, to the no small surprise of
Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass, and the no small embarrassment
of Mr. Tupman, they found old Wardle and Trundle.
'How are you?' said the old man, grasping Mr. Tupman's
hand. 'Don't hang back, or look sentimental about it; it can't be
helped, old fellow. For her sake, I wish you'd had her; for your
own, I'm very glad you have not. A young fellow like you will do
better one of these days, eh?' With this conclusion, Wardle
slapped Mr. Tupman on the back, and laughed heartily.
'Well, and how are you, my fine fellows?' said the old gentleman,
shaking hands with Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass at the
same time. 'I have just been telling Pickwick that we must have
you all down at Christmas. We're going to have a wedding--a
real wedding this time.'
'A wedding!' exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass, turning very pale.
'Yes, a wedding. But don't be frightened,' said the goodhumoured
old man; 'it's only Trundle there, and Bella.'
'Oh, is that all?' said Mr. Snodgrass, relieved from a painful
doubt which had fallen heavily on his breast. 'Give you joy, Sir.
How is Joe?'
'Very well,' replied the old gentleman. 'Sleepy as ever.'
'And your mother, and the clergyman, and all of 'em?'
'Quite well.'
'Where,' said Mr. Tupman, with an effort--'where is--SHE,
Sir?' and he turned away his head, and covered his eyes with his hand.
'SHE!' said the old gentleman, with a knowing shake of the
head. 'Do you mean my single relative--eh?'
Mr. Tupman, by a nod, intimated that his question applied to
the disappointed Rachael.
'Oh, she's gone away,' said the old gentleman. 'She's living at
a relation's, far enough off. She couldn't bear to see the girls, so I
let her go. But come! Here's the dinner. You must be hungry
after your ride. I am, without any ride at all; so let us fall to.'
Ample justice was done to the meal; and when they were
seated round the table, after it had been disposed of, Mr. Pickwick,
to the intense horror and indignation of his followers,
related the adventure he had undergone, and the success which
had attended the base artifices of the diabolical Jingle.
'And the attack of rheumatism which I caught in that garden,'
said Mr. Pickwick, in conclusion, 'renders me lame at this
'I, too, have had something of an adventure,' said Mr. Winkle,
with a smile; and, at the request of Mr. Pickwick, he detailed the
malicious libel of the Eatanswill INDEPENDENT, and the consequent
excitement of their friend, the editor.
Mr. Pickwick's brow darkened during the recital. His friends
observed it, and, when Mr. Winkle had concluded, maintained a
profound silence. Mr. Pickwick struck the table emphatically
with his clenched fist, and spoke as follows:--
'Is it not a wonderful circumstance,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'that
we seem destined to enter no man's house without involving him
in some degree of trouble? Does it not, I ask, bespeak the
indiscretion, or, worse than that, the blackness of heart--that I
should say so!--of my followers, that, beneath whatever roof
they locate, they disturb the peace of mind and happiness of
some confiding female? Is it not, I say--'
Mr. Pickwick would in all probability have gone on for some
time, had not the entrance of Sam, with a letter, caused him to
break off in his eloquent discourse. He passed his handkerchief
across his forehead, took off his spectacles, wiped them, and put
them on again; and his voice had recovered its wonted softness of
tone when he said--
'What have you there, Sam?'
'Called at the post-office just now, and found this here letter,
as has laid there for two days,' replied Mr. Weller. 'It's sealed
vith a vafer, and directed in round hand.'
'I don't know this hand,' said Mr. Pickwick, opening the
letter. 'Mercy on us! what's this? It must be a jest; it--it--can't
be true.'
'What's the matter?' was the general inquiry.
'Nobody dead, is there?' said Wardle, alarmed at the horror in
Mr. Pickwick's countenance.
Mr. Pickwick made no reply, but, pushing the letter across the
table, and desiring Mr. Tupman to read it aloud, fell back in his
chair with a look of vacant astonishment quite alarming to
Mr. Tupman, with a trembling voice, read the letter, of which
the following is a copy:--
Freeman's Court, Cornhill,
August 28th, 1827.
Bardell against Pickwick.
Having been instructed by Mrs. Martha Bardell to commence
an action against you for a breach of promise of marriage, for which
the plaintiff lays her damages at fifteen hundred pounds, we beg to
inform you that a writ has been issued against you in this suit in the
Court of Common Pleas; and request to know, by return of post, the
name of your attorney in London, who will accept service thereof.
We are, Sir,
Your obedient servants,
Dodson & Fogg.
Mr. Samuel Pickwick.
There was something so impressive in the mute astonishment
with which each man regarded his neighbour, and every man
regarded Mr. Pickwick, that all seemed afraid to speak. The
silence was at length broken by Mr. Tupman.
'Dodson and Fogg,' he repeated mechanically.
'Bardell and Pickwick,' said Mr. Snodgrass, musing.
'Peace of mind and happiness of confiding females,' murmured
Mr. Winkle, with an air of abstraction.
'It's a conspiracy,' said Mr. Pickwick, at length recovering the
power of speech; 'a base conspiracy between these two grasping
attorneys, Dodson and Fogg. Mrs. Bardell would never do it;--
she hasn't the heart to do it;--she hasn't the case to do it.
'Of her heart,' said Wardle, with a smile, 'you should certainly
be the best judge. I don't wish to discourage you, but I should
certainly say that, of her case, Dodson and Fogg are far better
judges than any of us can be.'
'It's a vile attempt to extort money,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'I hope it is,' said Wardle, with a short, dry cough.
'Who ever heard me address her in any way but that in which
a lodger would address his landlady?' continued Mr. Pickwick,
with great vehemence. 'Who ever saw me with her? Not even my
friends here--'
'Except on one occasion,' said Mr. Tupman.
Mr. Pickwick changed colour.
'Ah,' said Mr. Wardle. 'Well, that's important. There was
nothing suspicious then, I suppose?'
Mr. Tupman glanced timidly at his leader. 'Why,' said he,
'there was nothing suspicious; but--I don't know how it
happened, mind--she certainly was reclining in his arms.'
'Gracious powers!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, as the recollection
of the scene in question struck forcibly upon him; 'what a
dreadful instance of the force of circumstances! So she was--so
she was.'
'And our friend was soothing her anguish,' said Mr. Winkle,
rather maliciously.
'So I was,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I don't deny it. So I was.'
'Hollo!' said Wardle; 'for a case in which there's nothing suspicious,
this looks rather queer--eh, Pickwick? Ah, sly dog--sly
dog!' and he laughed till the glasses on the sideboard rang again.
'What a dreadful conjunction of appearances!' exclaimed
Mr. Pickwick, resting his chin upon his hands. 'Winkle--
Tupman--I beg your pardon for the observations I made
just now. We are all the victims of circumstances, and I the
greatest.' With this apology Mr. Pickwick buried his head in his
hands, and ruminated; while Wardle measured out a regular
circle of nods and winks, addressed to the other members of
the company.
'I'll have it explained, though,' said Mr. Pickwick, raising his
head and hammering the table. 'I'll see this Dodson and Fogg!
I'll go to London to-morrow.'
'Not to-morrow,' said Wardle; 'you're too lame.'
'Well, then, next day.'
'Next day is the first of September, and you're pledged to ride
out with us, as far as Sir Geoffrey Manning's grounds at all
events, and to meet us at lunch, if you don't take the field.'
'Well, then, the day after,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'Thursday.--Sam!'
'Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
'Take two places outside to London, on Thursday morning,
for yourself and me.'
'Wery well, Sir.'
Mr. Weller left the room, and departed slowly on his errand,
with his hands in his pocket and his eyes fixed on the ground.
'Rum feller, the hemperor,' said Mr. Weller, as he walked
slowly up the street. 'Think o' his makin' up to that 'ere Mrs.
Bardell--vith a little boy, too! Always the vay vith these here old
'uns howsoever, as is such steady goers to look at. I didn't think
he'd ha' done it, though--I didn't think he'd ha' done it!'
Moralising in this strain, Mr. Samuel Weller bent his steps
towards the booking-office.
The birds, who, happily for their own peace of mind and personal
comfort, were in blissful ignorance of the preparations which had
been making to astonish them, on the first of September, hailed
it, no doubt, as one of the pleasantest mornings they had seen
that season. Many a young partridge who strutted complacently
among the stubble, with all the finicking coxcombry of youth, and
many an older one who watched his levity out of his little round
eye, with the contemptuous air of a bird of wisdom and experience,
alike unconscious of their approaching doom, basked in the fresh
morning air with lively and blithesome feelings, and a few hours
afterwards were laid low upon the earth. But we grow affecting:
let us proceed.
In plain commonplace matter-of-fact, then, it was a fine
morning--so fine that you would scarcely have believed that the
few months of an English summer had yet flown by. Hedges,
fields, and trees, hill and moorland, presented to the eye their
ever-varying shades of deep rich green; scarce a leaf had
fallen, scarce a sprinkle of yellow mingled with the hues of
summer, warned you that autumn had begun. The sky was
cloudless; the sun shone out bright and warm; the songs of birds,
the hum of myriads of summer insects, filled the air; and the
cottage gardens, crowded with flowers of every rich and beautiful
tint, sparkled, in the heavy dew, like beds of glittering jewels.
Everything bore the stamp of summer, and none of its beautiful
colour had yet faded from the die.
Such was the morning, when an open carriage, in which were
three Pickwickians (Mr. Snodgrass having preferred to remain at
home), Mr. Wardle, and Mr. Trundle, with Sam Weller on the
box beside the driver, pulled up by a gate at the roadside, before
which stood a tall, raw-boned gamekeeper, and a half-booted,
leather-legginged boy, each bearing a bag of capacious dimensions,
and accompanied by a brace of pointers.
'I say,' whispered Mr. Winkle to Wardle, as the man let down
the steps, 'they don't suppose we're going to kill game enough to
fill those bags, do they?'
'Fill them!' exclaimed old Wardle. 'Bless you, yes! You shall
fill one, and I the other; and when we've done with them, the
pockets of our shooting-jackets will hold as much more.'
Mr. Winkle dismounted without saying anything in reply to
this observation; but he thought within himself, that if the party
remained in the open air, till he had filled one of the bags, they
stood a considerable chance of catching colds in their heads.
'Hi, Juno, lass-hi, old girl; down, Daph, down,' said Wardle,
caressing the dogs. 'Sir Geoffrey still in Scotland, of course, Martin?'
The tall gamekeeper replied in the affirmative, and looked with
some surprise from Mr. Winkle, who was holding his gun as if he
wished his coat pocket to save him the trouble of pulling the
trigger, to Mr. Tupman, who was holding his as if he was afraid
of it--as there is no earthly reason to doubt he really was.
'My friends are not much in the way of this sort of thing yet,
Martin,' said Wardle, noticing the look. 'Live and learn, you
know. They'll be good shots one of these days. I beg my friend
Winkle's pardon, though; he has had some practice.'
Mr. Winkle smiled feebly over his blue neckerchief in
acknowledgment of the compliment, and got himself so mysteriously
entangled with his gun, in his modest confusion, that if the piece
had been loaded, he must inevitably have shot himself dead upon
the spot.
'You mustn't handle your piece in that 'ere way, when you
come to have the charge in it, Sir,' said the tall gamekeeper
gruffly; 'or I'm damned if you won't make cold meat of some
on us.'
Mr. Winkle, thus admonished, abruptly altered his position,
and in so doing, contrived to bring the barrel into pretty smart
contact with Mr. Weller's head.
'Hollo!' said Sam, picking up his hat, which had been knocked
off, and rubbing his temple. 'Hollo, sir! if you comes it this vay,
you'll fill one o' them bags, and something to spare, at one fire.'
Here the leather-legginged boy laughed very heartily, and then
tried to look as if it was somebody else, whereat Mr. Winkle
frowned majestically.
'Where did you tell the boy to meet us with the snack, Martin?'
inquired Wardle.
'Side of One-tree Hill, at twelve o'clock, Sir.'
'That's not Sir Geoffrey's land, is it?'
'No, Sir; but it's close by it. It's Captain Boldwig's land; but
there'll be nobody to interrupt us, and there's a fine bit of
turf there.'
'Very well,' said old Wardle. 'Now the sooner we're off the
better. Will you join us at twelve, then, Pickwick?'
Mr. Pickwick was particularly desirous to view the sport, the
more especially as he was rather anxious in respect of Mr.
Winkle's life and limbs. On so inviting a morning, too, it was
very tantalising to turn back, and leave his friends to enjoy
themselves. It was, therefore, with a very rueful air that he
'Why, I suppose I must.'
'Ain't the gentleman a shot, Sir?' inquired the long gamekeeper.
'No,' replied Wardle; 'and he's lame besides.'
'I should very much like to go,' said Mr. Pickwick--'very
There was a short pause of commiseration.
'There's a barrow t'other side the hedge,' said the boy. 'If the
gentleman's servant would wheel along the paths, he could keep
nigh us, and we could lift it over the stiles, and that.'
'The wery thing,' said Mr. Weller, who was a party interested,
inasmuch as he ardently longed to see the sport. 'The wery
thing. Well said, Smallcheek; I'll have it out in a minute.'
But here a difficulty arose. The long gamekeeper resolutely
protested against the introduction into a shooting party, of a
gentleman in a barrow, as a gross violation of all established
rules and precedents.
It was a great objection, but not an insurmountable one. The
gamekeeper having been coaxed and feed, and having, moreover,
eased his mind by 'punching' the head of the inventive youth who
had first suggested the use of the machine, Mr. Pickwick was
placed in it, and off the party set; Wardle and the long gamekeeper
leading the way, and Mr. Pickwick in the barrow, propelled by
Sam, bringing up the rear.
'Stop, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, when they had got half across
the first field.
'What's the matter now?' said Wardle.
'I won't suffer this barrow to be moved another step,' said
Mr. Pickwick, resolutely, 'unless Winkle carries that gun of his in
a different manner.'
'How AM I to carry it?' said the wretched Winkle.
'Carry it with the muzzle to the ground,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'It's so unsportsmanlike,' reasoned Winkle.
'I don't care whether it's unsportsmanlike or not,' replied
Mr. Pickwick; 'I am not going to be shot in a wheel-barrow, for
the sake of appearances, to please anybody.'
'I know the gentleman'll put that 'ere charge into somebody
afore he's done,' growled the long man.
'Well, well--I don't mind,' said poor Winkle, turning his gunstock
'Anythin' for a quiet life,' said Mr. Weller; and on they went again.
'Stop!' said Mr. Pickwick, after they had gone a few yards farther.
'What now?' said Wardle.
'That gun of Tupman's is not safe: I know it isn't,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Eh? What! not safe?' said Mr. Tupman, in a tone of great alarm.
'Not as you are carrying it,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I am very
sorry to make any further objection, but I cannot consent to go
on, unless you carry it as Winkle does his.'
'I think you had better, sir,' said the long gamekeeper, 'or
you're quite as likely to lodge the charge in yourself as in
anything else.'
Mr. Tupman, with the most obliging haste, placed his piece in
the position required, and the party moved on again; the two
amateurs marching with reversed arms, like a couple of privates
at a royal funeral.
The dogs suddenly came to a dead stop, and the party advancing
stealthily a single pace, stopped too.
'What's the matter with the dogs' legs?' whispered Mr.
Winkle. 'How queer they're standing.'
'Hush, can't you?' replied Wardle softly. 'Don't you see,
they're making a point?'
'Making a point!' said Mr. Winkle, staring about him, as if he
expected to discover some particular beauty in the landscape,
which the sagacious animals were calling special attention to.
'Making a point! What are they pointing at?'
'Keep your eyes open,' said Wardle, not heeding the question
in the excitement of the moment. 'Now then.'
There was a sharp whirring noise, that made Mr. Winkle start
back as if he had been shot himself. Bang, bang, went a couple of
guns--the smoke swept quickly away over the field, and curled
into the air.
'Where are they!' said Mr. Winkle, in a state of the highest
excitement, turning round and round in all directions. 'Where are
they? Tell me when to fire. Where are they--where are they?'
'Where are they!' said Wardle, taking up a brace of birds
which the dogs had deposited at his feet. 'Why, here they are.'
'No, no; I mean the others,' said the bewildered Winkle.
'Far enough off, by this time,' replied Wardle, coolly reloading
his gun.
'We shall very likely be up with another covey in five minutes,'
said the long gamekeeper. 'If the gentleman begins to fire now,
perhaps he'll just get the shot out of the barrel by the time they rise.'
'Ha! ha! ha!' roared Mr. Weller.
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, compassionating his follower's
confusion and embarrassment.
'Don't laugh.'
'Certainly not, Sir.' So, by way of indemnification, Mr. Weller
contorted his features from behind the wheel-barrow, for the
exclusive amusement of the boy with the leggings, who thereupon
burst into a boisterous laugh, and was summarily cuffed by the
long gamekeeper, who wanted a pretext for turning round, to hide
his own merriment.
'Bravo, old fellow!' said Wardle to Mr. Tupman; 'you fired
that time, at all events.'
'Oh, yes,' replied Mr. Tupman, with conscious pride. 'I let it off.'
'Well done. You'll hit something next time, if you look sharp.
Very easy, ain't it?'
'Yes, it's very easy,' said Mr. Tupman. 'How it hurts one's
shoulder, though. It nearly knocked me backwards. I had no idea
these small firearms kicked so.'
'Ah,' said the old gentleman, smiling, 'you'll get used to it in
time. Now then--all ready--all right with the barrow there?'
'All right, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
'Come along, then.'
'Hold hard, Sir,' said Sam, raising the barrow.
'Aye, aye,' replied Mr. Pickwick; and on they went, as briskly
as need be.
'Keep that barrow back now,' cried Wardle, when it had been
hoisted over a stile into another field, and Mr. Pickwick had been
deposited in it once more.
'All right, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, pausing.
'Now, Winkle,' said the old gentleman, 'follow me softly, and
don't be too late this time.'
'Never fear,' said Mr. Winkle. 'Are they pointing?'
'No, no; not now. Quietly now, quietly.' On they crept, and
very quietly they would have advanced, if Mr. Winkle, in the
performance of some very intricate evolutions with his gun, had not
accidentally fired, at the most critical moment, over the boy's
head, exactly in the very spot where the tall man's brain would
have been, had he been there instead.
'Why, what on earth did you do that for?' said old Wardle, as
the birds flew unharmed away.
'I never saw such a gun in my life,' replied poor Mr. Winkle,
looking at the lock, as if that would do any good. 'It goes off of
its own accord. It WILL do it.'
'Will do it!' echoed Wardle, with something of irritation in his
manner. 'I wish it would kill something of its own accord.'
'It'll do that afore long, Sir,' observed the tall man, in a low,
prophetic voice.
'What do you mean by that observation, Sir?' inquired Mr.
Winkle, angrily.
'Never mind, Sir, never mind,' replied the long gamekeeper;
'I've no family myself, sir; and this here boy's mother will get
something handsome from Sir Geoffrey, if he's killed on his land.
Load again, Sir, load again.'
'Take away his gun,' cried Mr. Pickwick from the barrow,
horror-stricken at the long man's dark insinuations. 'Take away
his gun, do you hear, somebody?'
Nobody, however, volunteered to obey the command; and
Mr. Winkle, after darting a rebellious glance at Mr. Pickwick,
reloaded his gun, and proceeded onwards with the rest.
We are bound, on the authority of Mr. Pickwick, to state, that
Mr. Tupman's mode of proceeding evinced far more of prudence
and deliberation, than that adopted by Mr. Winkle. Still, this by
no means detracts from the great authority of the latter gentleman,
on all matters connected with the field; because, as Mr.
Pickwick beautifully observes, it has somehow or other happened,
from time immemorial, that many of the best and ablest philosophers,
who have been perfect lights of science in matters of theory,
have been wholly unable to reduce them to practice.
Mr. Tupman's process, like many of our most sublime discoveries,
was extremely simple. With the quickness and penetration of a
man of genius, he had at once observed that the two great points to
be attained were--first, to discharge his piece
without injury to himself, and, secondly, to do so, without
danger to the bystanders--obviously, the best thing to do, after
surmounting the difficulty of firing at all, was to shut his eyes
firmly, and fire into the air.
On one occasion, after performing this feat, Mr. Tupman, on
opening his eyes, beheld a plump partridge in the act of falling,
wounded, to the ground. He was on the point of congratulating
Mr. Wardle on his invariable success, when that gentleman
advanced towards him, and grasped him warmly by the hand.
'Tupman,' said the old gentleman, 'you singled out that
particular bird?'
'No,' said Mr. Tupman--'no.'
'You did,' said Wardle. 'I saw you do it--I observed you pick
him out--I noticed you, as you raised your piece to take aim; and
I will say this, that the best shot in existence could not have done
it more beautifully. You are an older hand at this than I thought
you, Tupman; you have been out before.'
It was in vain for Mr. Tupman to protest, with a smile of selfdenial,
that he never had. The very smile was taken as evidence to
the contrary; and from that time forth his reputation was
established. It is not the only reputation that has been acquired
as easily, nor are such fortunate circumstances confined to
Meanwhile, Mr. Winkle flashed, and blazed, and smoked
away, without producing any material results worthy of being
noted down; sometimes expending his charge in mid-air, and at
others sending it skimming along so near the surface of the
ground as to place the lives of the two dogs on a rather uncertain
and precarious tenure. As a display of fancy-shooting, it was
extremely varied and curious; as an exhibition of firing with any
precise object, it was, upon the whole, perhaps a failure. It is an
established axiom, that 'every bullet has its billet.' If it apply in
an equal degree to shot, those of Mr. Winkle were unfortunate
foundlings, deprived of their natural rights, cast loose upon the
world, and billeted nowhere.
'Well,' said Wardle, walking up to the side of the barrow, and
wiping the streams of perspiration from his jolly red face;
'smoking day, isn't it?'
'It is, indeed,' replied Mr. Pickwick. The sun is tremendously
hot, even to me. I don't know how you must feel it.'
'Why,' said the old gentleman, 'pretty hot. It's past twelve,
though. You see that green hill there?'
'That's the place where we are to lunch; and, by Jove, there's
the boy with the basket, punctual as clockwork!'
'So he is,' said Mr. Pickwick, brightening up. 'Good boy, that.
I'll give him a shilling, presently. Now, then, Sam, wheel away.'
'Hold on, sir,' said Mr. Weller, invigorated with the prospect of
refreshments. 'Out of the vay, young leathers. If you walley my
precious life don't upset me, as the gen'l'm'n said to the driver
when they was a-carryin' him to Tyburn.' And quickening his
pace to a sharp run, Mr. Weller wheeled his master nimbly to the
green hill, shot him dexterously out by the very side of the basket,
and proceeded to unpack it with the utmost despatch.
'Weal pie,' said Mr. Weller, soliloquising, as he arranged the
eatables on the grass. 'Wery good thing is weal pie, when you
know the lady as made it, and is quite sure it ain't kittens; and
arter all though, where's the odds, when they're so like weal that
the wery piemen themselves don't know the difference?'
'Don't they, Sam?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Not they, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, touching his hat. 'I lodged
in the same house vith a pieman once, sir, and a wery nice man
he was--reg'lar clever chap, too--make pies out o' anything, he
could. "What a number o' cats you keep, Mr. Brooks," says I,
when I'd got intimate with him. "Ah," says he, "I do--a good
many," says he, "You must be wery fond o' cats," says I. "Other
people is," says he, a-winkin' at me; "they ain't in season till the
winter though," says he. "Not in season!" says I. "No," says he,
"fruits is in, cats is out." "Why, what do you mean?" says I.
"Mean!" says he. "That I'll never be a party to the combination
o' the butchers, to keep up the price o' meat," says he. "Mr.
Weller," says he, a-squeezing my hand wery hard, and vispering
in my ear--"don't mention this here agin--but it's the seasonin'
as does it. They're all made o' them noble animals," says he,
a-pointin' to a wery nice little tabby kitten, "and I seasons 'em
for beefsteak, weal or kidney, 'cording to the demand. And more
than that," says he, "I can make a weal a beef-steak, or a beefsteak
a kidney, or any one on 'em a mutton, at a minute's notice,
just as the market changes, and appetites wary!"'
'He must have been a very ingenious young man, that, Sam,'
said Mr. Pickwick, with a slight shudder.
'Just was, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, continuing his occupation of
emptying the basket, 'and the pies was beautiful. Tongue--, well
that's a wery good thing when it ain't a woman's. Bread--
knuckle o' ham, reg'lar picter--cold beef in slices, wery good.
What's in them stone jars, young touch-and-go?'
'Beer in this one,' replied the boy, taking from his shoulder a
couple of large stone bottles, fastened together by a leathern
strap--'cold punch in t'other.'
'And a wery good notion of a lunch it is, take it altogether,'
said Mr. Weller, surveying his arrangement of the repast with
great satisfaction. 'Now, gen'l'm'n, "fall on," as the English said
to the French when they fixed bagginets.'
It needed no second invitation to induce the party to yield full
justice to the meal; and as little pressing did it require to induce
Mr. Weller, the long gamekeeper, and the two boys, to station
themselves on the grass, at a little distance, and do good execution
upon a decent proportion of the viands. An old oak afforded a
pleasant shelter to the group, and a rich prospect of arable and
meadow land, intersected with luxuriant hedges, and richly
ornamented with wood, lay spread out before them.
'This is delightful--thoroughly delightful!' said Mr. Pickwick;
the skin of whose expressive countenance was rapidly peeling off,
with exposure to the sun.
'So it is--so it is, old fellow,' replied Wardle. 'Come; a
glass of punch!'
'With great pleasure,' said Mr. Pickwick; the satisfaction of
whose countenance, after drinking it, bore testimony to the
sincerity of the reply.
'Good,' said Mr. Pickwick, smacking his lips. 'Very good. I'll
take another. Cool; very cool. Come, gentlemen,' continued
Mr. Pickwick, still retaining his hold upon the jar, 'a toast. Our
friends at Dingley Dell.'
The toast was drunk with loud acclamations.
'I'll tell you what I shall do, to get up my shooting again,' said
Mr. Winkle, who was eating bread and ham with a pocket-knife.
'I'll put a stuffed partridge on the top of a post, and practise at it,
beginning at a short distance, and lengthening it by degrees. I
understand it's capital practice.'
'I know a gen'l'man, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, 'as did that, and
begun at two yards; but he never tried it on agin; for he blowed
the bird right clean away at the first fire, and nobody ever seed a
feather on him arterwards.'
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
'Have the goodness to reserve your anecdotes till they are
called for.'
'Cert'nly, sir.'
Here Mr. Weller winked the eye which was not concealed by
the beer-can he was raising to his lips, with such exquisite
facetiousness, that the two boys went into spontaneous convulsions,
and even the long man condescended to smile.
'Well, that certainly is most capital cold punch,' said Mr.
Pickwick, looking earnestly at the stone bottle; 'and the day is
extremely warm, and-- Tupman, my dear friend, a glass of punch?'
'With the greatest delight,' replied Mr. Tupman; and having
drank that glass, Mr. Pickwick took another, just to see whether
there was any orange peel in the punch, because orange peel
always disagreed with him; and finding that there was not, Mr.
Pickwick took another glass to the health of their absent friend,
and then felt himself imperatively called upon to propose another
in honour of the punch-compounder, unknown.
This constant succession of glasses produced considerable
effect upon Mr. Pickwick; his countenance beamed with the most
sunny smiles, laughter played around his lips, and good-humoured
merriment twinkled in his eye. Yielding by degrees to the influence
of the exciting liquid, rendered more so by the heat, Mr. Pickwick
expressed a strong desire to recollect a song which he had heard in
his infancy, and the attempt proving abortive, sought to stimulate
his memory with more glasses of punch, which appeared to have quite
a contrary effect; for, from forgetting the words of the song, he began
to forget how to articulate any words at all; and finally, after rising
to his legs to address the company in an eloquent speech, he fell into
the barrow, and fast asleep, simultaneously.
The basket having been repacked, and it being found perfectly
impossible to awaken Mr. Pickwick from his torpor, some
discussion took place whether it would be better for Mr. Weller to
wheel his master back again, or to leave him where he was, until
they should all be ready to return. The latter course was at
length decided on; and as the further expedition was not to
exceed an hour's duration, and as Mr. Weller begged very hard
to be one of the party, it was determined to leave Mr. Pickwick
asleep in the barrow, and to call for him on their return. So
away they went, leaving Mr. Pickwick snoring most comfortably
in the shade.
That Mr. Pickwick would have continued to snore in the shade
until his friends came back, or, in default thereof, until the shades
of evening had fallen on the landscape, there appears no reasonable
cause to doubt; always supposing that he had been suffered
to remain there in peace. But he was NOT suffered to remain there
in peace. And this was what prevented him.
Captain Boldwig was a little fierce man in a stiff black neckerchief
and blue surtout, who, when he did condescend to walk
about his property, did it in company with a thick rattan stick
with a brass ferrule, and a gardener and sub-gardener with meek
faces, to whom (the gardeners, not the stick) Captain Boldwig
gave his orders with all due grandeur and ferocity; for Captain
Boldwig's wife's sister had married a marquis, and the captain's
house was a villa, and his land 'grounds,' and it was all very high,
and mighty, and great.
Mr. Pickwick had not been asleep half an hour when little
Captain Boldwig, followed by the two gardeners, came striding
along as fast as his size and importance would let him; and when
he came near the oak tree, Captain Boldwig paused and drew a
long breath, and looked at the prospect as if he thought the
prospect ought to be highly gratified at having him to take notice
of it; and then he struck the ground emphatically with his stick,
and summoned the head-gardener.
'Hunt,' said Captain Boldwig.
'Yes, Sir,' said the gardener.
'Roll this place to-morrow morning--do you hear, Hunt?'
'Yes, Sir.'
'And take care that you keep this place in good order--do you
hear, Hunt?'
'Yes, Sir.'
'And remind me to have a board done about trespassers, and
spring guns, and all that sort of thing, to keep the common
people out. Do you hear, Hunt; do you hear?'
'I'll not forget it, Sir.'
'I beg your pardon, Sir,' said the other man, advancing, with
his hand to his hat.
'Well, Wilkins, what's the matter with you?' said Captain Boldwig.
'I beg your pardon, sir--but I think there have been trespassers
here to-day.'
'Ha!' said the captain, scowling around him.
'Yes, sir--they have been dining here, I think, sir.'
'Why, damn their audacity, so they have,' said Captain
Boldwig, as the crumbs and fragments that were strewn upon the
grass met his eye. 'They have actually been devouring their food
here. I wish I had the vagabonds here!' said the captain, clenching
the thick stick.
'I wish I had the vagabonds here,' said the captain wrathfully.
'Beg your pardon, sir,' said Wilkins, 'but--'
'But what? Eh?' roared the captain; and following the timid
glance of Wilkins, his eyes encountered the wheel-barrow and
Mr. Pickwick.
'Who are you, you rascal?' said the captain, administering
several pokes to Mr. Pickwick's body with the thick stick.
'What's your name?'
'Cold punch,' murmured Mr. Pickwick, as he sank to sleep again.
'What?' demanded Captain Boldwig.
No reply.
'What did he say his name was?' asked the captain.
'Punch, I think, sir,' replied Wilkins.
'That's his impudence--that's his confounded impudence,' said
Captain Boldwig. 'He's only feigning to be asleep now,' said the
captain, in a high passion. 'He's drunk; he's a drunken plebeian.
Wheel him away, Wilkins, wheel him away directly.'
'Where shall I wheel him to, sir?' inquired Wilkins, with
great timidity.
'Wheel him to the devil,' replied Captain Boldwig.
'Very well, sir,' said Wilkins.
'Stay,' said the captain.
Wilkins stopped accordingly.
'Wheel him,' said the captain--'wheel him to the pound; and
let us see whether he calls himself Punch when he comes to
himself. He shall not bully me--he shall not bully me. Wheel him away.'
Away Mr. Pickwick was wheeled in compliance with this
imperious mandate; and the great Captain Boldwig, swelling
with indignation, proceeded on his walk.
Inexpressible was the astonishment of the little party when
they returned, to find that Mr. Pickwick had disappeared, and
taken the wheel-barrow with him. It was the most mysterious and
unaccountable thing that was ever heard of For a lame man to
have got upon his legs without any previous notice, and walked
off, would have been most extraordinary; but when it came to his
wheeling a heavy barrow before him, by way of amusement, it
grew positively miraculous. They searched every nook and
corner round, together and separately; they shouted, whistled,
laughed, called--and all with the same result. Mr. Pickwick was
not to be found. After some hours of fruitless search, they
arrived at the unwelcome conclusion that they must go home
without him.
Meanwhile Mr. Pickwick had been wheeled to the pound, and
safely deposited therein, fast asleep in the wheel-barrow, to the
immeasurable delight and satisfaction not only of all the boys in
the village, but three-fourths of the whole population, who had
gathered round, in expectation of his waking. If their most
intense gratification had been awakened by seeing him wheeled
in, how many hundredfold was their joy increased when, after a
few indistinct cries of 'Sam!' he sat up in the barrow, and gazed
with indescribable astonishment on the faces before him.
A general shout was of course the signal of his having woke up;
and his involuntary inquiry of 'What's the matter?' occasioned
another, louder than the first, if possible.
'Here's a game!' roared the populace.
'Where am I?' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.
'In the pound,' replied the mob.
'How came I here? What was I doing? Where was I brought from?'
'Boldwig! Captain Boldwig!' was the only reply.
'Let me out,' cried Mr. Pickwick. 'Where's my servant?
Where are my friends?'
'You ain't got no friends. Hurrah!' Then there came a turnip,
then a potato, and then an egg; with a few other little tokens of
the playful disposition of the many-headed.
How long this scene might have lasted, or how much Mr.
Pickwick might have suffered, no one can tell, had not a carriage,
which was driving swiftly by, suddenly pulled up, from whence
there descended old Wardle and Sam Weller, the former of
whom, in far less time than it takes to write it, if not to read it,
had made his way to Mr. Pickwick's side, and placed him in the
vehicle, just as the latter had concluded the third and last round
of a single combat with the town-beadle.
'Run to the justice's!' cried a dozen voices.
'Ah, run avay,' said Mr. Weller, jumping up on the box. 'Give
my compliments--Mr. Veller's compliments--to the justice, and
tell him I've spiled his beadle, and that, if he'll swear in a new 'un,
I'll come back again to-morrow and spile him. Drive on, old feller.'
'I'll give directions for the commencement of an action for false
imprisonment against this Captain Boldwig, directly I get to
London,' said Mr. Pickwick, as soon as the carriage turned out of
the town.
'We were trespassing, it seems,' said Wardle.
'I don't care,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I'll bring the action.'
'No, you won't,' said Wardle.
'I will, by--' But as there was a humorous expression in
Wardle's face, Mr. Pickwick checked himself, and said, 'Why
'Because,' said old Wardle, half-bursting with laughter,
'because they might turn on some of us, and say we had taken too
much cold punch.'
Do what he would, a smile would come into Mr. Pickwick's
face; the smile extended into a laugh; the laugh into a roar; the
roar became general. So, to keep up their good-humour, they
stopped at the first roadside tavern they came to, and ordered a
glass of brandy-and-water all round, with a magnum of extra
strength for Mr. Samuel Weller.
In the ground-floor front of a dingy house, at the very farthest end
of Freeman's Court, Cornhill, sat the four clerks of Messrs. Dodson
& Fogg, two of his Majesty's attorneys of the courts of King's Bench
and Common Pleas at Westminster, and solicitors of the High Court of
Chancery--the aforesaid clerks catching as favourable glimpses of
heaven's light and heaven's sun, in the course of their daily
labours, as a man might hope to do, were he placed at the bottom
of a reasonably deep well; and without the opportunity of perceiving
the stars in the day-time, which the latter secluded situation affords.
The clerks' office of Messrs. Dodson & Fogg was a dark,
mouldy, earthy-smelling room, with a high wainscotted partition
to screen the clerks from the vulgar gaze, a couple of old wooden
chairs, a very loud-ticking clock, an almanac, an umbrella-stand,
a row of hat-pegs, and a few shelves, on which were deposited
several ticketed bundles of dirty papers, some old deal boxes with
paper labels, and sundry decayed stone ink bottles of various
shapes and sizes. There was a glass door leading into the passage
which formed the entrance to the court, and on the outer side of
this glass door, Mr. Pickwick, closely followed by Sam Weller,
presented himself on the Friday morning succeeding the occurrence
of which a faithful narration is given in the last chapter.
'Come in, can't you!' cried a voice from behind the partition,
in reply to Mr. Pickwick's gentle tap at the door. And Mr.
Pickwick and Sam entered accordingly.
'Mr. Dodson or Mr. Fogg at home, sir?' inquired Mr. Pickwick,
gently, advancing, hat in hand, towards the partition.
'Mr. Dodson ain't at home, and Mr. Fogg's particularly
engaged,' replied the voice; and at the same time the head to
which the voice belonged, with a pen behind its ear, looked over
the partition, and at Mr. Pickwick.
it was a ragged head, the sandy hair of which, scrupulously
parted on one side, and flattened down with pomatum, was
twisted into little semi-circular tails round a flat face ornamented
with a pair of small eyes, and garnished with a very dirty shirt
collar, and a rusty black stock.
'Mr. Dodson ain't at home, and Mr. Fogg's particularly
engaged,' said the man to whom the head belonged.
'When will Mr. Dodson be back, sir?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Can't say.'
'Will it be long before Mr. Fogg is disengaged, Sir?'
'Don't know.'
Here the man proceeded to mend his pen with great deliberation,
while another clerk, who was mixing a Seidlitz powder,
under cover of the lid of his desk, laughed approvingly.
'I think I'll wait,' said Mr. Pickwick. There was no reply; so
Mr. Pickwick sat down unbidden, and listened to the loud ticking
of the clock and the murmured conversation of the clerks.
'That was a game, wasn't it?' said one of the gentlemen, in a
brown coat and brass buttons, inky drabs, and bluchers, at the
conclusion of some inaudible relation of his previous evening's
'Devilish good--devilish good,' said the Seidlitz-powder man.
'Tom Cummins was in the chair,' said the man with the brown
coat. 'It was half-past four when I got to Somers Town, and then
I was so uncommon lushy, that I couldn't find the place where the
latch-key went in, and was obliged to knock up the old 'ooman.
I say, I wonder what old Fogg 'ud say, if he knew it. I should get
the sack, I s'pose--eh?'
At this humorous notion, all the clerks laughed in concert.
'There was such a game with Fogg here, this mornin',' said the
man in the brown coat, 'while Jack was upstairs sorting the
papers, and you two were gone to the stamp-office. Fogg was
down here, opening the letters when that chap as we issued the
writ against at Camberwell, you know, came in--what's his
name again?'
'Ramsey,' said the clerk who had spoken to Mr. Pickwick.
'Ah, Ramsey--a precious seedy-looking customer. "Well, sir,"
says old Fogg, looking at him very fierce--you know his way--
"well, Sir, have you come to settle?" "Yes, I have, sir," said
Ramsey, putting his hand in his pocket, and bringing out the
money, "the debt's two pound ten, and the costs three pound
five, and here it is, Sir;" and he sighed like bricks, as he lugged out
the money, done up in a bit of blotting-paper. Old Fogg looked
first at the money, and then at him, and then he coughed in his
rum way, so that I knew something was coming. "You don't
know there's a declaration filed, which increases the costs
materially, I suppose," said Fogg. "You don't say that, sir,"
said Ramsey, starting back; "the time was only out last night,
Sir." "I do say it, though," said Fogg, "my clerk's just gone to
file it. Hasn't Mr. Jackson gone to file that declaration in
Bullman and Ramsey, Mr. Wicks?" Of course I said yes, and
then Fogg coughed again, and looked at Ramsey. "My God!"
said Ramsey; "and here have I nearly driven myself mad, scraping
this money together, and all to no purpose." "None at all," said
Fogg coolly; "so you had better go back and scrape some more
together, and bring it here in time." "I can't get it, by God!" said
Ramsey, striking the desk with his fist. "Don't bully me, sir,"
said Fogg, getting into a passion on purpose. "I am not bullying
you, sir," said Ramsey. "You are," said Fogg; "get out, sir; get
out of this office, Sir, and come back, Sir, when you know how to
behave yourself." Well, Ramsey tried to speak, but Fogg wouldn't
let him, so he put the money in his pocket, and sneaked out. The
door was scarcely shut, when old Fogg turned round to me, with
a sweet smile on his face, and drew the declaration out of his coat
pocket. "Here, Wicks," says Fogg, "take a cab, and go down to
the Temple as quick as you can, and file that. The costs are quite
safe, for he's a steady man with a large family, at a salary of
five-and-twenty shillings a week, and if he gives us a warrant of
attorney, as he must in the end, I know his employers will see it
paid; so we may as well get all we can get out of him, Mr. Wicks;
it's a Christian act to do it, Mr. Wicks, for with his large family
and small income, he'll be all the better for a good lesson against
getting into debt--won't he, Mr. Wicks, won't he?"--and he
smiled so good-naturedly as he went away, that it was delightful
to see him. He is a capital man of business,' said Wicks, in a tone
of the deepest admiration, 'capital, isn't he?'
The other three cordially subscribed to this opinion, and the
anecdote afforded the most unlimited satisfaction.
'Nice men these here, Sir,' whispered Mr. Weller to his master;
'wery nice notion of fun they has, Sir.'
Mr. Pickwick nodded assent, and coughed to attract the
attention of the young gentlemen behind the partition, who,
having now relaxed their minds by a little conversation among
themselves, condescended to take some notice of the stranger.
'I wonder whether Fogg's disengaged now?' said Jackson.
'I'll see,' said Wicks, dismounting leisurely from his stool.
'What name shall I tell Mr. Fogg?'
'Pickwick,' replied the illustrious subject of these memoirs.
Mr. Jackson departed upstairs on his errand, and immediately
returned with a message that Mr. Fogg would see Mr. Pickwick
in five minutes; and having delivered it, returned again to his desk.
'What did he say his name was?' whispered Wicks.
'Pickwick,' replied Jackson; 'it's the defendant in Bardell
and Pickwick.'
A sudden scraping of feet, mingled with the sound of suppressed
laughter, was heard from behind the partition.
'They're a-twiggin' of you, Sir,' whispered Mr. Weller.
'Twigging of me, Sam!' replied Mr. Pickwick; 'what do you
mean by twigging me?'
Mr. Weller replied by pointing with his thumb over his
shoulder, and Mr. Pickwick, on looking up, became sensible of
the pleasing fact, that all the four clerks, with countenances
expressive of the utmost amusement, and with their heads thrust
over the wooden screen, were minutely inspecting the figure and
general appearance of the supposed trifler with female hearts, and
disturber of female happiness. On his looking up, the row of heads
suddenly disappeared, and the sound of pens travelling at a
furious rate over paper, immediately succeeded.
A sudden ring at the bell which hung in the office, summoned
Mr. Jackson to the apartment of Fogg, from whence he came
back to say that he (Fogg) was ready to see Mr. Pickwick if he
would step upstairs.
Upstairs Mr. Pickwick did step accordingly, leaving Sam
Weller below. The room door of the one-pair back, bore
inscribed in legible characters the imposing words, 'Mr. Fogg'; and,
having tapped thereat, and been desired to come in, Jackson
ushered Mr. Pickwick into the presence.
'Is Mr. Dodson in?' inquired Mr. Fogg.
'Just come in, Sir,' replied Jackson.
'Ask him to step here.'
'Yes, sir.' Exit Jackson.
'Take a seat, sir,' said Fogg; 'there is the paper, sir; my partner
will be here directly, and we can converse about this matter, sir.'
Mr. Pickwick took a seat and the paper, but, instead of
reading the latter, peeped over the top of it, and took a survey of
the man of business, who was an elderly, pimply-faced, vegetablediet
sort of man, in a black coat, dark mixture trousers, and
small black gaiters; a kind of being who seemed to be an essential
part of the desk at which he was writing, and to have as much
thought or feeling.
After a few minutes' silence, Mr. Dodson, a plump, portly,
stern-looking man, with a loud voice, appeared; and the
conversation commenced.
'This is Mr. Pickwick,' said Fogg.
'Ah! You are the defendant, Sir, in Bardell and Pickwick?'
said Dodson.
'I am, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Well, sir,' said Dodson, 'and what do you propose?'
'Ah!' said Fogg, thrusting his hands into his trousers' pockets,
and throwing himself back in his chair, 'what do you propose,
Mr Pickwick?'
'Hush, Fogg,' said Dodson, 'let me hear what Mr. Pickwick has
to say.'
'I came, gentlemen,' said Mr. Pickwick, gazing placidly on the
two partners, 'I came here, gentlemen, to express the surprise with
which I received your letter of the other day, and to inquire what
grounds of action you can have against me.'
'Grounds of--' Fogg had ejaculated this much, when he was
stopped by Dodson.
'Mr. Fogg,' said Dodson, 'I am going to speak.'
'I beg your pardon, Mr. Dodson,' said Fogg.
'For the grounds of action, sir,' continued Dodson, with moral
elevation in his air, 'you will consult your own conscience and
your own feelings. We, Sir, we, are guided entirely by the statement
of our client. That statement, Sir, may be true, or it may be
false; it may be credible, or it may be incredible; but, if it be true,
and if it be credible, I do not hesitate to say, Sir, that our grounds
of action, Sir, are strong, and not to be shaken. You may be an
unfortunate man, Sir, or you may be a designing one; but if I were
called upon, as a juryman upon my oath, Sir, to express an
opinion of your conduct, Sir, I do not hesitate to assert that I
should have but one opinion about it.' Here Dodson drew himself
up, with an air of offended virtue, and looked at Fogg,
who thrust his hands farther in his pockets, and nodding
his head sagely, said, in a tone of the fullest concurrence,
'Most certainly.'
'Well, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, with considerable pain depicted
in his countenance, 'you will permit me to assure you that I am a
most unfortunate man, so far as this case is concerned.'
'I hope you are, Sir,' replied Dodson; 'I trust you may be, Sir.
If you are really innocent of what is laid to your charge, you are
more unfortunate than I had believed any man could possibly be.
What do you say, Mr. Fogg?'
'I say precisely what you say,' replied Fogg, with a smile
of incredulity.
'The writ, Sir, which commences the action,' continued
Dodson, 'was issued regularly. Mr. Fogg, where is the PRAECIPE book?'
'Here it is,' said Fogg, handing over a square book, with a
parchment cover.
'Here is the entry,' resumed Dodson. '"Middlesex, Capias
Dodson & Fogg for the plaintiff, Aug. 28, 1827." All regular, Sir;
perfectly.' Dodson coughed and looked at Fogg, who said
'Perfectly,' also. And then they both looked at Mr. Pickwick.
'I am to understand, then,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'that it really is
your intention to proceed with this action?'
'Understand, sir!--that you certainly may,' replied Dodson,
with something as near a smile as his importance would allow.
'And that the damages are actually laid at fifteen hundred pounds?'
said Mr. Pickwick.
'To which understanding you may add my assurance, that if
we could have prevailed upon our client, they would have been
laid at treble the amount, sir,' replied Dodson.
'I believe Mrs. Bardell specially said, however,' observed Fogg,
glancing at Dodson, 'that she would not compromise for a
farthing less.'
'Unquestionably,' replied Dodson sternly. For the action was
only just begun; and it wouldn't have done to let Mr. Pickwick
compromise it then, even if he had been so disposed.
'As you offer no terms, sir,' said Dodson, displaying a slip of
parchment in his right hand, and affectionately pressing a paper
copy of it, on Mr. Pickwick with his left, 'I had better serve you
with a copy of this writ, sir. Here is the original, sir.'
'Very well, gentlemen, very well,' said Mr. Pickwick, rising in
person and wrath at the same time; 'you shall hear from my
solicitor, gentlemen.'
'We shall be very happy to do so,' said Fogg, rubbing his hands.
'Very,' said Dodson, opening the door.
'And before I go, gentlemen,' said the excited Mr. Pickwick,
turning round on the landing, 'permit me to say, that of all the
disgraceful and rascally proceedings--'
'Stay, sir, stay,' interposed Dodson, with great politeness.
'Mr. Jackson! Mr. Wicks!'
'Sir,' said the two clerks, appearing at the bottom of the stairs.
'I merely want you to hear what this gentleman says,' replied
Dodson. 'Pray, go on, sir--disgraceful and rascally proceedings,
I think you said?'
'I did,' said Mr. Pickwick, thoroughly roused. 'I said, Sir, that
of all the disgraceful and rascally proceedings that ever were
attempted, this is the most so. I repeat it, sir.'
'You hear that, Mr. Wicks,' said Dodson.
'You won't forget these expressions, Mr. Jackson?' said Fogg.
'Perhaps you would like to call us swindlers, sir,' said Dodson.
'Pray do, Sir, if you feel disposed; now pray do, Sir.'
'I do,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'You ARE swindlers.'
'Very good,' said Dodson. 'You can hear down there, I hope,
Mr. Wicks?'
'Oh, yes, Sir,' said Wicks.
'You had better come up a step or two higher, if you can't,'
added Mr. Fogg. 'Go on, Sir; do go on. You had better call us
thieves, Sir; or perhaps You would like to assault one Of US. Pray
do it, Sir, if you would; we will not make the smallest resistance.
Pray do it, Sir.'
As Fogg put himself very temptingly within the reach of Mr.
Pickwick's clenched fist, there is little doubt that that gentleman
would have complied with his earnest entreaty, but for the
interposition of Sam, who, hearing the dispute, emerged from the
office, mounted the stairs, and seized his master by the arm.
'You just come away,' said Mr. Weller. 'Battledore and
shuttlecock's a wery good game, vhen you ain't the shuttlecock
and two lawyers the battledores, in which case it gets too excitin'
to be pleasant. Come avay, Sir. If you want to ease your mind by
blowing up somebody, come out into the court and blow up me;
but it's rayther too expensive work to be carried on here.'
And without the slightest ceremony, Mr. Weller hauled his
master down the stairs, and down the court, and having safely
deposited him in Cornhill, fell behind, prepared to follow
whithersoever he should lead.
Mr. Pickwick walked on abstractedly, crossed opposite the
Mansion House, and bent his steps up Cheapside. Sam began to
wonder where they were going, when his master turned round,
and said--
'Sam, I will go immediately to Mr. Perker's.'
'That's just exactly the wery place vere you ought to have gone
last night, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
'I think it is, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'I KNOW it is,' said Mr. Weller.
'Well, well, Sam,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'we will go there at
once; but first, as I have been rather ruffled, I should like a glass
of brandy-and-water warm, Sam. Where can I have it, Sam?'
Mr. Weller's knowledge of London was extensive and peculiar.
He replied, without the slightest consideration--
'Second court on the right hand side--last house but vun on
the same side the vay--take the box as stands in the first fireplace,
'cos there ain't no leg in the middle o' the table, which all the
others has, and it's wery inconvenient.'
Mr. Pickwick observed his valet's directions implicitly, and
bidding Sam follow him, entered the tavern he had pointed out,
where the hot brandy-and-water was speedily placed before him;
while Mr. Weller, seated at a respectful distance, though at the
same table with his master, was accommodated with a pint of porter.
The room was one of a very homely description, and was
apparently under the especial patronage of stage-coachmen; for
several gentleman, who had all the appearance of belonging to
that learned profession, were drinking and smoking in the
different boxes. Among the number was one stout, red-faced,
elderly man, in particular, seated in an opposite box, who
attracted Mr. Pickwick's attention. The stout man was smoking
with great vehemence, but between every half-dozen puffs, he
took his pipe from his mouth, and looked first at Mr. Weller and
then at Mr. Pickwick. Then, he would bury in a quart pot, as
much of his countenance as the dimensions of the quart pot
admitted of its receiving, and take another look at Sam and
Mr. Pickwick. Then he would take another half-dozen puffs with
an air of profound meditation and look at them again. At last the
stout man, putting up his legs on the seat, and leaning his back
against the wall, began to puff at his pipe without leaving off at
all, and to stare through the smoke at the new-comers, as if he
had made up his mind to see the most he could of them.
At first the evolutions of the stout man had escaped Mr.
Weller's observation, but by degrees, as he saw Mr. Pickwick's
eyes every now and then turning towards him, he began to gaze
in the same direction, at the same time shading his eyes with his
hand, as if he partially recognised the object before him, and
wished to make quite sure of its identity. His doubts were
speedily dispelled, however; for the stout man having blown a
thick cloud from his pipe, a hoarse voice, like some strange effort
of ventriloquism, emerged from beneath the capacious shawls
which muffled his throat and chest, and slowly uttered these
sounds--'Wy, Sammy!'
'Who's that, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Why, I wouldn't ha' believed it, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller, with
astonished eyes. 'It's the old 'un.'
'Old one,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'What old one?'
'My father, sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'How are you, my ancient?'
And with this beautiful ebullition of filial affection, Mr. Weller
made room on the seat beside him, for the stout man, who
advanced pipe in mouth and pot in hand, to greet him.
'Wy, Sammy,' said the father, 'I ha'n't seen you, for two year
and better.'
'Nor more you have, old codger,' replied the son. 'How's
'Wy, I'll tell you what, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, senior, with
much solemnity in his manner; 'there never was a nicer woman
as a widder, than that 'ere second wentur o' mine--a sweet
creetur she was, Sammy; all I can say on her now, is, that as she
was such an uncommon pleasant widder, it's a great pity she ever
changed her condition. She don't act as a vife, Sammy.'
'Don't she, though?' inquired Mr. Weller, junior.
The elder Mr. Weller shook his head, as he replied with a sigh,
'I've done it once too often, Sammy; I've done it once too often.
Take example by your father, my boy, and be wery careful o'
widders all your life, 'specially if they've kept a public-house,
Sammy.' Having delivered this parental advice with great pathos,
Mr. Weller, senior, refilled his pipe from a tin box he carried in
his pocket; and, lighting his fresh pipe from the ashes of the old
One, commenced smoking at a great rate.
'Beg your pardon, sir,' he said, renewing the subject, and
addressing Mr. Pickwick, after a considerable pause, 'nothin'
personal, I hope, sir; I hope you ha'n't got a widder, sir.'
'Not I,' replied Mr. Pickwick, laughing; and while Mr. Pickwick
laughed, Sam Weller informed his parent in a whisper, of
the relation in which he stood towards that gentleman.
'Beg your pardon, sir,' said Mr. Weller, senior, taking off his
hat, 'I hope you've no fault to find with Sammy, Sir?'
'None whatever,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Wery glad to hear it, sir,' replied the old man; 'I took a good
deal o' pains with his eddication, sir; let him run in the streets
when he was wery young, and shift for hisself. It's the only way
to make a boy sharp, sir.'
'Rather a dangerous process, I should imagine,' said Mr.
Pickwick, with a smile.
'And not a wery sure one, neither,' added Mr. Weller; 'I got
reg'larly done the other day.'
'No!' said his father.
'I did,' said the son; and he proceeded to relate, in as few
words as possible, how he had fallen a ready dupe to the stratagems
of Job Trotter.
Mr. Weller, senior, listened to the tale with the most profound
attention, and, at its termination, said--
'Worn't one o' these chaps slim and tall, with long hair, and
the gift o' the gab wery gallopin'?'
Mr. Pickwick did not quite understand the last item of description,
but, comprehending the first, said 'Yes,' at a venture.
'T' other's a black-haired chap in mulberry livery, with a wery
large head?'
'Yes, yes, he is,' said Mr. Pickwick and Sam, with great earnestness.
'Then I know where they are, and that's all about it,' said
Mr. Weller; 'they're at Ipswich, safe enough, them two.'
'No!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Fact,' said Mr. Weller, 'and I'll tell you how I know it. I work
an Ipswich coach now and then for a friend o' mine. I worked
down the wery day arter the night as you caught the rheumatic,
and at the Black Boy at Chelmsford--the wery place they'd
come to--I took 'em up, right through to Ipswich, where the
man-servant--him in the mulberries--told me they was a-goin'
to put up for a long time.'
'I'll follow him,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'we may as well see
Ipswich as any other place. I'll follow him.'
'You're quite certain it was them, governor?' inquired Mr.
Weller, junior.
'Quite, Sammy, quite,' replied his father, 'for their appearance
is wery sing'ler; besides that 'ere, I wondered to see the gen'l'm'n
so formiliar with his servant; and, more than that, as they sat in
the front, right behind the box, I heerd 'em laughing and saying
how they'd done old Fireworks.'
'Old who?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Old Fireworks, Sir; by which, I've no doubt, they meant you, Sir.'
There is nothing positively vile or atrocious in the appellation
of 'old Fireworks,' but still it is by no means a respectful or
flattering designation. The recollection of all the wrongs he had
sustained at Jingle's hands, had crowded on Mr. Pickwick's
mind, the moment Mr. Weller began to speak; it wanted but a
feather to turn the scale, and 'old Fireworks' did it.
'I'll follow him,' said Mr. Pickwick, with an emphatic blow on
the table.
'I shall work down to Ipswich the day arter to-morrow, Sir,'
said Mr. Weller the elder, 'from the Bull in Whitechapel; and if
you really mean to go, you'd better go with me.'
'So we had,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'very true; I can write to Bury,
and tell them to meet me at Ipswich. We will go with you. But
don't hurry away, Mr. Weller; won't you take anything?'
'You're wery good, Sir,' replied Mr. W., stopping short;--
'perhaps a small glass of brandy to drink your health, and success
to Sammy, Sir, wouldn't be amiss.'
'Certainly not,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'A glass of brandy
here!' The brandy was brought; and Mr. Weller, after pulling his
hair to Mr. Pickwick, and nodding to Sam, jerked it down his
capacious throat as if it had been a small thimbleful.
'Well done, father,' said Sam, 'take care, old fellow, or you'll
have a touch of your old complaint, the gout.'
'I've found a sov'rin' cure for that, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller,
setting down the glass.
'A sovereign cure for the gout,' said Mr. Pickwick, hastily
producing his note-book--'what is it?'
'The gout, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller, 'the gout is a complaint as
arises from too much ease and comfort. If ever you're attacked
with the gout, sir, jist you marry a widder as has got a good loud
woice, with a decent notion of usin' it, and you'll never have the
gout agin. It's a capital prescription, sir. I takes it reg'lar, and I
can warrant it to drive away any illness as is caused by too much
jollity.' Having imparted this valuable secret, Mr. Weller drained
his glass once more, produced a laboured wink, sighed deeply,
and slowly retired.
'Well, what do you think of what your father says, Sam?'
inquired Mr. Pickwick, with a smile.
'Think, Sir!' replied Mr. Weller; 'why, I think he's the wictim
o' connubiality, as Blue Beard's domestic chaplain said, vith a
tear of pity, ven he buried him.'
There was no replying to this very apposite conclusion, and,
therefore, Mr. Pickwick, after settling the reckoning, resumed his
walk to Gray's Inn. By the time he reached its secluded groves,
however, eight o'clock had struck, and the unbroken stream of
gentlemen in muddy high-lows, soiled white hats, and rusty
apparel, who were pouring towards the different avenues of
egress, warned him that the majority of the offices had closed for
that day.
After climbing two pairs of steep and dirty stairs, he found his
anticipations were realised. Mr. Perker's 'outer door' was closed;
and the dead silence which followed Mr. Weller's repeated kicks
thereat, announced that the officials had retired from business for
the night.
'This is pleasant, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'I shouldn't lose
an hour in seeing him; I shall not be able to get one wink
of sleep to-night, I know, unless I have the satisfaction of
reflecting that I have confided this matter to a professional man.'
'Here's an old 'ooman comin' upstairs, sir,' replied Mr. Weller;
'p'raps she knows where we can find somebody. Hollo, old lady,
vere's Mr. Perker's people?'
'Mr. Perker's people,' said a thin, miserable-looking old
woman, stopping to recover breath after the ascent of the
staircase--'Mr. Perker's people's gone, and I'm a-goin' to
do the office out.'
'Are you Mr. Perker's servant?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'I am Mr. Perker's laundress,' replied the woman.
'Ah,' said Mr. Pickwick, half aside to Sam, 'it's a curious
circumstance, Sam, that they call the old women in these inns,
laundresses. I wonder what's that for?'
''Cos they has a mortal awersion to washing anythin', I
suppose, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
'I shouldn't wonder,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking at the old
woman, whose appearance, as well as the condition of the office,
which she had by this time opened, indicated a rooted antipathy
to the application of soap and water; 'do you know where I can
find Mr. Perker, my good woman?'
'No, I don't,' replied the old woman gruffly; 'he's out o' town now.'
'That's unfortunate,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'where's his clerk?
Do you know?'
'Yes, I know where he is, but he won't thank me for telling
you,' replied the laundress.
'I have very particular business with him,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Won't it do in the morning?' said the woman.
'Not so well,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Well,' said the old woman, 'if it was anything very particular,
I was to say where he was, so I suppose there's no harm in
telling. If you just go to the Magpie and Stump, and ask at the
bar for Mr. Lowten, they'll show you in to him, and he's Mr.
Perker's clerk.'
With this direction, and having been furthermore informed
that the hostelry in question was situated in a court, happy in the
double advantage of being in the vicinity of Clare Market, and
closely approximating to the back of New Inn, Mr. Pickwick and
Sam descended the rickety staircase in safety, and issued forth in
quest of the Magpie and Stump.
This favoured tavern, sacred to the evening orgies of Mr.
Lowten and his companions, was what ordinary people would
designate a public-house. That the landlord was a man of moneymaking
turn was sufficiently testified by the fact of a small bulkhead
beneath the tap-room window, in size and shape not unlike
a sedan-chair, being underlet to a mender of shoes: and that he
was a being of a philanthropic mind was evident from the
protection he afforded to a pieman, who vended his delicacies
without fear of interruption, on the very door-step. In the lower
windows, which were decorated with curtains of a saffron hue,
dangled two or three printed cards, bearing reference to Devonshire
cider and Dantzic spruce, while a large blackboard,
announcing in white letters to an enlightened public, that there
were 500,000 barrels of double stout in the cellars of the establishment,
left the mind in a state of not unpleasing doubt and
uncertainty as to the precise direction in the bowels of the earth, in
which this mighty cavern might be supposed to extend. When we
add that the weather-beaten signboard bore the half-obliterated
semblance of a magpie intently eyeing a crooked streak of brown
paint, which the neighbours had been taught from infancy to
consider as the 'stump,' we have said all that need be said of the
exterior of the edifice.
On Mr. Pickwick's presenting himself at the bar, an elderly
female emerged from behind the screen therein, and presented
herself before him.
'Is Mr. Lowten here, ma'am?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes, he is, Sir,' replied the landlady. 'Here, Charley, show the
gentleman in to Mr. Lowten.'
'The gen'l'm'n can't go in just now,' said a shambling pot-boy,
with a red head, 'cos' Mr. Lowten's a-singin' a comic song, and
he'll put him out. He'll be done directly, Sir.'
The red-headed pot-boy had scarcely finished speaking,
when a most unanimous hammering of tables, and jingling of
glasses, announced that the song had that instant terminated;
and Mr. Pickwick, after desiring Sam to solace himself in
the tap, suffered himself to be conducted into the presence of Mr.
At the announcement of 'A gentleman to speak to you, Sir,' a
puffy-faced young man, who filled the chair at the head of the
table, looked with some surprise in the direction from whence
the voice proceeded; and the surprise seemed to be by no means
diminished, when his eyes rested on an individual whom he had
never seen before.
'I beg your pardon, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and I am very
sorry to disturb the other gentlemen, too, but I come on very
particular business; and if you will suffer me to detain you at this
end of the room for five minutes, I shall be very much obliged to you.'
The puffy-faced young man rose, and drawing a chair close to
Mr. Pickwick in an obscure corner of the room, listened attentively
to his tale of woe.
'Ah,'he said, when Mr. Pickwick had concluded, 'Dodson and
Fogg--sharp practice theirs--capital men of business, Dodson
and Fogg, sir.'
Mr. Pickwick admitted the sharp practice of Dodson and
Fogg, and Lowten resumed.
'Perker ain't in town, and he won't be, neither, before the end
of next week; but if you want the action defended, and will leave
the copy with me, I can do all that's needful till he comes back.'
'That's exactly what I came here for,' said Mr. Pickwick,
handing over the document. 'If anything particular occurs, you
can write to me at the post-office, Ipswich.'
'That's all right,' replied Mr. Perker's clerk; and then seeing
Mr. Pickwick's eye wandering curiously towards the table, he
added, 'will you join us, for half an hour or so? We are capital
company here to-night. There's Samkin and Green's managingclerk,
and Smithers and Price's chancery, and Pimkin and
Thomas's out o' doors--sings a capital song, he does--and Jack
Bamber, and ever so many more. You're come out of the country,
I suppose. Would you like to join us?'
Mr. Pickwick could not resist so tempting an opportunity of
studying human nature. He suffered himself to be led to the table,
where, after having been introduced to the company in due form,
he was accommodated with a seat near the chairman and called
for a glass of his favourite beverage.
A profound silence, quite contrary to Mr. Pickwick's expectation,
'You don't find this sort of thing disagreeable, I hope, sir?'
said his right hand neighbour, a gentleman in a checked shirt and
Mosaic studs, with a cigar in his mouth.
'Not in the least,' replied Mr. Pickwick; 'I like it very much,
although I am no smoker myself.'
'I should be very sorry to say I wasn't,' interposed another
gentleman on the opposite side of the table. 'It's board and
lodgings to me, is smoke.'
Mr. Pickwick glanced at the speaker, and thought that if it
were washing too, it would be all the better.
Here there was another pause. Mr. Pickwick was a stranger,
and his coming had evidently cast a damp upon the party.
'Mr. Grundy's going to oblige the company with a song,' said
the chairman.
'No, he ain't,' said Mr. Grundy.
'Why not?' said the chairman.
'Because he can't,' said Mr. Grundy.
'You had better say he won't,' replied the chairman.
'Well, then, he won't,' retorted Mr. Grundy. Mr. Grundy's
positive refusal to gratify the company occasioned another silence.
'Won't anybody enliven us?' said the chairman, despondingly.
'Why don't you enliven us yourself, Mr. Chairman?' said a
young man with a whisker, a squint, and an open shirt collar
(dirty), from the bottom of the table.
'Hear! hear!' said the smoking gentleman, in the Mosaic jewellery.
'Because I only know one song, and I have sung it already, and
it's a fine of "glasses round" to sing the same song twice in a
night,' replied the chairman.
This was an unanswerable reply, and silence prevailed again.
'I have been to-night, gentlemen,' said Mr. Pickwick, hoping
to start a subject which all the company could take a part in
discussing, 'I have been to-night, in a place which you all know
very well, doubtless, but which I have not been in for some years,
and know very little of; I mean Gray's Inn, gentlemen. Curious
little nooks in a great place, like London, these old inns are.'
'By Jove!' said the chairman, whispering across the table to
Mr. Pickwick, 'you have hit upon something that one of us, at
least, would talk upon for ever. You'll draw old Jack Bamber out;
he was never heard to talk about anything else but the inns, and
he has lived alone in them till he's half crazy.'
The individual to whom Lowten alluded, was a little, yellow,
high-shouldered man, whose countenance, from his habit of
stooping forward when silent, Mr. Pickwick had not observed
before. He wondered, though, when the old man raised his
shrivelled face, and bent his gray eye upon him, with a keen
inquiring look, that such remarkable features could have escaped
his attention for a moment. There was a fixed grim smile
perpetually on his countenance; he leaned his chin on a long, skinny
hand, with nails of extraordinary length; and as he inclined his
head to one side, and looked keenly out from beneath his ragged
gray eyebrows, there was a strange, wild slyness in his leer, quite
repulsive to behold.
This was the figure that now started forward, and burst into an
animated torrent of words. As this chapter has been a long one,
however, and as the old man was a remarkable personage, it will
be more respectful to him, and more convenient to us, to let him
speak for himself in a fresh one.
Aha!' said the old man, a brief description of whose manner and
appearance concluded the last chapter, 'aha! who was talking about the inns?'
'I was, Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick--'I was observing what
singular old places they are.'
'YOU!' said the old man contemptuously. 'What do YOU know
of the time when young men shut themselves up in those lonely
rooms, and read and read, hour after hour, and night after night,
till their reason wandered beneath their midnight studies; till
their mental powers were exhausted; till morning's light brought
no freshness or health to them; and they sank beneath the
unnatural devotion of their youthful energies to their dry old
books? Coming down to a later time, and a very different day,
what do YOU know of the gradual sinking beneath consumption,
or the quick wasting of fever--the grand results of "life"
and dissipation--which men have undergone in these same
rooms? How many vain pleaders for mercy, do you think,
have turned away heart-sick from the lawyer's office, to find
a resting-place in the Thames, or a refuge in the jail? They
are no ordinary houses, those. There is not a panel in the old
wainscotting, but what, if it were endowed with the powers of
speech and memory, could start from the wall, and tell its tale of
horror--the romance of life, Sir, the romance of life! Commonplace
as they may seem now, I tell you they are strange old
places, and I would rather hear many a legend with a terrificsounding
name, than the true history of one old set of chambers.'
There was something so odd in the old man's sudden energy,
and the subject which had called it forth, that Mr. Pickwick was
prepared with no observation in reply; and the old man checking
his impetuosity, and resuming the leer, which had disappeared
during his previous excitement, said--
'Look at them in another light--their most common-place and
least romantic. What fine places of slow torture they are! Think
of the needy man who has spent his all, beggared himself, and
pinched his friends, to enter the profession, which is destined
never to yield him a morsel of bread. The waiting--the hope--
the disappointment--the fear--the misery--the poverty--the
blight on his hopes, and end to his career--the suicide perhaps, or
the shabby, slipshod drunkard. Am I not right about them?'
And the old man rubbed his hands, and leered as if in delight at
having found another point of view in which to place his
favourite subject.
Mr. Pickwick eyed the old man with great curiosity, and the
remainder of the company smiled, and looked on in silence.
'Talk of your German universities,' said the little old man.
'Pooh, pooh! there's romance enough at home without going
half a mile for it; only people never think of it.'
'I never thought of the romance of this particular subject
before, certainly,' said Mr. Pickwick, laughing.
'To be sure you didn't,' said the little old man; 'of course not.
As a friend of mine used to say to me, "What is there in chambers
in particular?" "Queer old places," said I. "Not at all," said he.
"Lonely," said I. "Not a bit of it," said he. He died one morning
of apoplexy, as he was going to open his outer door. Fell with his
head in his own letter-box, and there he lay for eighteen months.
Everybody thought he'd gone out of town.'
'And how was he found out at last?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'The benchers determined to have his door broken open, as he
hadn't paid any rent for two years. So they did. Forced the lock;
and a very dusty skeleton in a blue coat, black knee-shorts, and
silks, fell forward in the arms of the porter who opened the door.
Queer, that. Rather, perhaps; rather, eh?'The little old man put
his head more on one side, and rubbed his hands with unspeakable glee.
'I know another case,' said the little old man, when his chuckles
had in some degree subsided. 'It occurred in Clifford's Inn.
Tenant of a top set--bad character--shut himself up in his
bedroom closet, and took a dose of arsenic. The steward thought
he had run away: opened the door, and put a bill up. Another
man came, took the chambers, furnished them, and went to live
there. Somehow or other he couldn't sleep--always restless and
uncomfortable. "Odd," says he. "I'll make the other room my
bedchamber, and this my sitting-room." He made the change, and
slept very well at night, but suddenly found that, somehow, he
couldn't read in the evening: he got nervous and uncomfortable,
and used to be always snuffing his candles and staring about him.
"I can't make this out," said he, when he came home from the
play one night, and was drinking a glass of cold grog, with his
back to the wall, in order that he mightn't be able to fancy there
was any one behind him--"I can't make it out," said he; and
just then his eyes rested on the little closet that had been always
locked up, and a shudder ran through his whole frame from top
to toe. "I have felt this strange feeling before," said he, "I cannot
help thinking there's something wrong about that closet." He
made a strong effort, plucked up his courage, shivered the lock
with a blow or two of the poker, opened the door, and there, sure
enough, standing bolt upright in the corner, was the last tenant,
with a little bottle clasped firmly in his hand, and his face--well!'
As the little old man concluded, he looked round on the attentive
faces of his wondering auditory with a smile of grim delight.
'What strange things these are you tell us of, Sir,' said Mr.
Pickwick, minutely scanning the old man's countenance, by the
aid of his glasses.
'Strange!' said the little old man. 'Nonsense; you think them
strange, because you know nothing about it. They are funny, but
not uncommon.'
'Funny!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick involuntarily.
'Yes, funny, are they not?' replied the little old man, with a
diabolical leer; and then, without pausing for an answer, he
'I knew another man--let me see--forty years ago now--who
took an old, damp, rotten set of chambers, in one of the most
ancient inns, that had been shut up and empty for years and
years before. There were lots of old women's stories about the
place, and it certainly was very far from being a cheerful one;
but he was poor, and the rooms were cheap, and that would have
been quite a sufficient reason for him, if they had been ten times
worse than they really were. He was obliged to take some
mouldering fixtures that were on the place, and, among the rest,
was a great lumbering wooden press for papers, with large glass
doors, and a green curtain inside; a pretty useless thing for him,
for he had no papers to put in it; and as to his clothes, he carried
them about with him, and that wasn't very hard work, either.
Well, he had moved in all his furniture--it wasn't quite a truckfull--
and had sprinkled it about the room, so as to make the four
chairs look as much like a dozen as possible, and was sitting down
before the fire at night, drinking the first glass of two gallons of
whisky he had ordered on credit, wondering whether it would ever
be paid for, and if so, in how many years' time, when his eyes
encountered the glass doors of the wooden press. "Ah," says he,
"if I hadn't been obliged to take that ugly article at the old
broker's valuation, I might have got something comfortable for
the money. I'll tell you what it is, old fellow," he said, speaking
aloud to the press, having nothing else to speak to, "if it wouldn't
cost more to break up your old carcass, than it would ever be
worth afterward, I'd have a fire out of you in less than no time."
He had hardly spoken the words, when a sound resembling a
faint groan, appeared to issue from the interior of the case. It
startled him at first, but thinking, on a moment's reflection, that
it must be some young fellow in the next chamber, who had been
dining out, he put his feet on the fender, and raised the poker to
stir the fire. At that moment, the sound was repeated; and one of
the glass doors slowly opening, disclosed a pale and emaciated
figure in soiled and worn apparel, standing erect in the press. The
figure was tall and thin, and the countenance expressive of care
and anxiety; but there was something in the hue of the skin, and
gaunt and unearthly appearance of the whole form, which no
being of this world was ever seen to wear. "Who are you?" said
the new tenant, turning very pale; poising the poker in his hand,
however, and taking a very decent aim at the countenance of the
figure. "Who are you?" "Don't throw that poker at me," replied
the form; "if you hurled it with ever so sure an aim, it would
pass through me, without resistance, and expend its force on the
wood behind. I am a spirit." "And pray, what do you want
here?" faltered the tenant. "In this room," replied the apparition,
"my worldly ruin was worked, and I and my children beggared.
In this press, the papers in a long, long suit, which accumulated
for years, were deposited. In this room, when I had died of grief,
and long-deferred hope, two wily harpies divided the wealth for
which I had contested during a wretched existence, and of which,
at last, not one farthing was left for my unhappy descendants. I
terrified them from the spot, and since that day have prowled by
night--the only period at which I can revisit the earth--about the
scenes of my long-protracted misery. This apartment is mine:
leave it to me." "If you insist upon making your appearance
here," said the tenant, who had had time to collect his presence of
mind during this prosy statement of the ghost's, "I shall give up
possession with the greatest pleasure; but I should like to ask you
one question, if you will allow me." "Say on," said the apparition
sternly. "Well," said the tenant, "I don't apply the observation
personally to you, because it is equally applicable to most of the
ghosts I ever heard of; but it does appear to me somewhat
inconsistent, that when you have an opportunity of visiting the
fairest spots of earth--for I suppose space is nothing to you--
you should always return exactly to the very places where you
have been most miserable." "Egad, that's very true; I never
thought of that before," said the ghost. "You see, Sir," pursued
the tenant, "this is a very uncomfortable room. From the
appearance of that press, I should be disposed to say that it is not
wholly free from bugs; and I really think you might find much
more comfortable quarters: to say nothing of the climate of
London, which is extremely disagreeable." "You are very right,
Sir," said the ghost politely, "it never struck me till now; I'll try
change of air directly"--and, in fact, he began to vanish as he
spoke; his legs, indeed, had quite disappeared. "And if, Sir," said
the tenant, calling after him, "if you WOULD have the goodness to
suggest to the other ladies and gentlemen who are now engaged
in haunting old empty houses, that they might be much more
comfortable elsewhere, you will confer a very great benefit on
society." "I will," replied the ghost; "we must be dull fellows--
very dull fellows, indeed; I can't imagine how we can have been
so stupid." With these words, the spirit disappeared; and what is
rather remarkable,' added the old man, with a shrewd look round
the table, 'he never came back again.'
'That ain't bad, if it's true,' said the man in the Mosaic studs,
lighting a fresh cigar.
'IF!' exclaimed the old man, with a look of excessive contempt.
'I suppose,' he added, turning to Lowten, 'he'll say next, that my
story about the queer client we had, when I was in an attorney's
office, is not true either--I shouldn't wonder.'
'I shan't venture to say anything at all about it, seeing that I
never heard the story,' observed the owner of the Mosaic decorations.
'I wish you would repeat it, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Ah, do,' said Lowten, 'nobody has heard it but me, and I have
nearly forgotten it.'
The old man looked round the table, and leered more horribly
than ever, as if in triumph, at the attention which was depicted in
every face. Then rubbing his chin with his hand, and looking up
to the ceiling as if to recall the circumstances to his memory, he
began as follows:--
'It matters little,' said the old man, 'where, or how, I picked up
this brief history. If I were to relate it in the order in which it
reached me, I should commence in the middle, and when I had
arrived at the conclusion, go back for a beginning. It is enough
for me to say that some of its circumstances passed before my
own eyes; for the remainder I know them to have happened, and
there are some persons yet living, who will remember them but
too well.
'In the Borough High Street, near St. George's Church, and on
the same side of the way, stands, as most people know, the
smallest of our debtors' prisons, the Marshalsea. Although in
later times it has been a very different place from the sink of filth
and dirt it once was, even its improved condition holds out but
little temptation to the extravagant, or consolation to the
improvident. The condemned felon has as good a yard for air and
exercise in Newgate, as the insolvent debtor in the Marshalsea
Prison. [Better. But this is past, in a better age, and the prison
exists no longer.]
'It may be my fancy, or it may be that I cannot separate the
place from the old recollections associated with it, but this part of
London I cannot bear. The street is broad, the shops are spacious,
the noise of passing vehicles, the footsteps of a perpetual stream
of people--all the busy sounds of traffic, resound in it from morn
to midnight; but the streets around are mean and close; poverty
and debauchery lie festering in the crowded alleys; want and
misfortune are pent up in the narrow prison; an air of gloom and
dreariness seems, in my eyes at least, to hang about the scene,
and to impart to it a squalid and sickly hue.
'Many eyes, that have long since been closed in the grave, have
looked round upon that scene lightly enough, when entering the
gate of the old Marshalsea Prison for the first time; for despair
seldom comes with the first severe shock of misfortune. A man
has confidence in untried friends, he remembers the many offers
of service so freely made by his boon companions when he wanted
them not; he has hope--the hope of happy inexperience--and
however he may bend beneath the first shock, it springs up in his
bosom, and flourishes there for a brief space, until it droops
beneath the blight of disappointment and neglect. How soon
have those same eyes, deeply sunken in the head, glared from
faces wasted with famine, and sallow from confinement, in days
when it was no figure of speech to say that debtors rotted
in prison, with no hope of release, and no prospect of liberty!
The atrocity in its full extent no longer exists, but there is enough
of it left to give rise to occurrences that make the heart bleed.
'Twenty years ago, that pavement was worn with the footsteps
of a mother and child, who, day by day, so surely as the morning
came, presented themselves at the prison gate; often after a night
of restless misery and anxious thoughts, were they there, a full
hour too soon, and then the young mother turning meekly away,
would lead the child to the old bridge, and raising him in her
arms to show him the glistening water, tinted with the light of the
morning's sun, and stirring with all the bustling preparations for
business and pleasure that the river presented at that early hour,
endeavour to interest his thoughts in the objects before him. But
she would quickly set him down, and hiding her face in her shawl,
give vent to the tears that blinded her; for no expression of
interest or amusement lighted up his thin and sickly face. His
recollections were few enough, but they were all of one kind--all
connected with the poverty and misery of his parents. Hour after
hour had he sat on his mother's knee, and with childish sympathy
watched the tears that stole down her face, and then crept quietly
away into some dark corner, and sobbed himself to sleep. The
hard realities of the world, with many of its worst privations--
hunger and thirst, and cold and want--had all come home to
him, from the first dawnings of reason; and though the form of
childhood was there, its light heart, its merry laugh, and sparkling
eyes were wanting.
'The father and mother looked on upon this, and upon each
other, with thoughts of agony they dared not breathe in words.
The healthy, strong-made man, who could have borne almost any
fatigue of active exertion, was wasting beneath the close confinement
and unhealthy atmosphere of a crowded prison. The slight and delicate
woman was sinking beneath the combined effects of bodily and mental
illness. The child's young heart was breaking.
'Winter came, and with it weeks of cold and heavy rain. The
poor girl had removed to a wretched apartment close to the spot
of her husband's imprisonment; and though the change had been
rendered necessary by their increasing poverty, she was happier
now, for she was nearer him. For two months, she and her little
companion watched the opening of the gate as usual. One day
she failed to come, for the first time. Another morning arrived,
and she came alone. The child was dead.
'They little know, who coldly talk of the poor man's bereavements,
as a happy release from pain to the departed, and a
merciful relief from expense to the survivor--they little know, I
say, what the agony of those bereavements is. A silent look of
affection and regard when all other eyes are turned coldly away
--the consciousness that we possess the sympathy and affection
of one being when all others have deserted us--is a hold, a stay,
a comfort, in the deepest affliction, which no wealth could
purchase, or power bestow. The child had sat at his parents' feet
for hours together, with his little hands patiently folded in each
other, and his thin wan face raised towards them. They had seen
him pine away, from day to day; and though his brief existence
had been a joyless one, and he was now removed to that peace
and rest which, child as he was, he had never known in this
world, they were his parents, and his loss sank deep into their souls.
'It was plain to those who looked upon the mother's altered
face, that death must soon close the scene of her adversity and
trial. Her husband's fellow-prisoners shrank from obtruding on
his grief and misery, and left to himself alone, the small room he
had previously occupied in common with two companions. She
shared it with him; and lingering on without pain, but without
hope, her life ebbed slowly away.
'She had fainted one evening in her husband's arms, and he
had borne her to the open window, to revive her with the air,
when the light of the moon falling full upon her face, showed him
a change upon her features, which made him stagger beneath
her weight, like a helpless infant.
'"Set me down, George," she said faintly. He did so, and
seating himself beside her, covered his face with his hands, and
burst into tears.
'"It is very hard to leave you, George," she said; "but it is
God's will, and you must bear it for my sake. Oh! how I thank
Him for having taken our boy! He is happy, and in heaven now.
What would he have done here, without his mother!"
'"You shall not die, Mary, you shall not die;" said the
husband, starting up. He paced hurriedly to and fro, striking his
head with his clenched fists; then reseating himself beside her,
and supporting her in his arms, added more calmly, "Rouse
yourself, my dear girl. Pray, pray do. You will revive yet."
'"Never again, George; never again," said the dying woman.
"Let them lay me by my poor boy now, but promise me, that if
ever you leave this dreadful place, and should grow rich, you will
have us removed to some quiet country churchyard, a long, long
way off--very far from here--where we can rest in peace. Dear
George, promise me you will."
'"I do, I do," said the man, throwing himself passionately on
his knees before her. "Speak to me, Mary, another word; one
look--but one!"
'He ceased to speak: for the arm that clasped his neck grew
stiff and heavy. A deep sigh escaped from the wasted form before
him; the lips moved, and a smile played upon the face; but the
lips were pallid, and the smile faded into a rigid and ghastly
stare. He was alone in the world.
'That night, in the silence and desolation of his miserable
room, the wretched man knelt down by the dead body of his
wife, and called on God to witness a terrible oath, that from that
hour, he devoted himself to revenge her death and that of his
child; that thenceforth to the last moment of his life, his whole
energies should be directed to this one object; that his revenge
should be protracted and terrible; that his hatred should be
undying and inextinguishable; and should hunt its object through
the world.
'The deepest despair, and passion scarcely human, had made
such fierce ravages on his face and form, in that one night, that
his companions in misfortune shrank affrighted from him as he
passed by. His eyes were bloodshot and heavy, his face a deadly
white, and his body bent as if with age. He had bitten his under
lip nearly through in the violence of his mental suffering, and the
blood which had flowed from the wound had trickled down his
chin, and stained his shirt and neckerchief. No tear, or sound of
complaint escaped him; but the unsettled look, and disordered
haste with which he paced up and down the yard, denoted the
fever which was burning within.
'It was necessary that his wife's body should be removed from
the prison, without delay. He received the communication with
perfect calmness, and acquiesced in its propriety. Nearly all the
inmates of the prison had assembled to witness its removal; they
fell back on either side when the widower appeared; he walked
hurriedly forward, and stationed himself, alone, in a little railed
area close to the lodge gate, from whence the crowd, with an
instinctive feeling of delicacy, had retired. The rude coffin was
borne slowly forward on men's shoulders. A dead silence pervaded
the throng, broken only by the audible lamentations of the
women, and the shuffling steps of the bearers on the stone pavement.
They reached the spot where the bereaved husband stood:
and stopped. He laid his hand upon the coffin, and mechanically
adjusting the pall with which it was covered, motioned them
onward. The turnkeys in the prison lobby took off their hats as it
passed through, and in another moment the heavy gate closed
behind it. He looked vacantly upon the crowd, and fell heavily to
the ground.
'Although for many weeks after this, he was watched, night
and day, in the wildest ravings of fever, neither the consciousness
of his loss, nor the recollection of the vow he had made, ever left
him for a moment. Scenes changed before his eyes, place succeeded
place, and event followed event, in all the hurry of
delirium; but they were all connected in some way with the great
object of his mind. He was sailing over a boundless expanse of
sea, with a blood-red sky above, and the angry waters, lashed
into fury beneath, boiling and eddying up, on every side. There
was another vessel before them, toiling and labouring in the
howling storm; her canvas fluttering in ribbons from the mast,
and her deck thronged with figures who were lashed to the sides,
over which huge waves every instant burst, sweeping away some
devoted creatures into the foaming sea. Onward they bore,
amidst the roaring mass of water, with a speed and force which
nothing could resist; and striking the stem of the foremost
vessel, crushed her beneath their keel. From the huge whirlpool
which the sinking wreck occasioned, arose a shriek so loud and
shrill--the death-cry of a hundred drowning creatures, blended
into one fierce yell--that it rung far above the war-cry of the
elements, and echoed, and re-echoed till it seemed to pierce air,
sky, and ocean. But what was that--that old gray head that rose
above the water's surface, and with looks of agony, and screams
for aid, buffeted with the waves! One look, and he had sprung
from the vessel's side, and with vigorous strokes was swimming
towards it. He reached it; he was close upon it. They were HIS
features. The old man saw him coming, and vainly strove to
elude his grasp. But he clasped him tight, and dragged him beneath
the water. Down, down with him, fifty fathoms down; his
struggles grew fainter and fainter, until they wholly ceased. He
was dead; he had killed him, and had kept his oath.
'He was traversing the scorching sands of a mighty desert,
barefoot and alone. The sand choked and blinded him; its fine
thin grains entered the very pores of his skin, and irritated him
almost to madness. Gigantic masses of the same material, carried
forward by the wind, and shone through by the burning sun,
stalked in the distance like pillars of living fire. The bones of
men, who had perished in the dreary waste, lay scattered at his
feet; a fearful light fell on everything around; so far as the eye could
reach, nothing but objects of dread and horror presented themselves.
Vainly striving to utter a cry of terror, with his tongue
cleaving to his mouth, he rushed madly forward. Armed with
supernatural strength, he waded through the sand, until,
exhausted with fatigue and thirst, he fell senseless on the earth.
What fragrant coolness revived him; what gushing sound was
that? Water! It was indeed a well; and the clear fresh stream was
running at his feet. He drank deeply of it, and throwing his
aching limbs upon the bank, sank into a delicious trance. The
sound of approaching footsteps roused him. An old gray-headed
man tottered forward to slake his burning thirst. It was HE again!
Fe wound his arms round the old man's body, and held him back.
He struggled, and shrieked for water--for but one drop of water
to save his life! But he held the old man firmly, and watched his
agonies with greedy eyes; and when his lifeless head fell forward
on his bosom, he rolled the corpse from him with his feet.
'When the fever left him, and consciousness returned, he
awoke to find himself rich and free, to hear that the parent who
would have let him die in jail--WOULD! who HAD let those who
were far dearer to him than his own existence die of want, and
sickness of heart that medicine cannot cure--had been found
dead in his bed of down. He had had all the heart to leave his son
a beggar, but proud even of his health and strength, had put off
the act till it was too late, and now might gnash his teeth in the
other world, at the thought of the wealth his remissness had left
him. He awoke to this, and he awoke to more. To recollect the
purpose for which he lived, and to remember that his enemy was
his wife's own father--the man who had cast him into prison,
and who, when his daughter and her child sued at his feet for
mercy, had spurned them from his door. Oh, how he cursed the
weakness that prevented him from being up, and active, in his
scheme of vengeance!
'He caused himself to be carried from the scene of his loss and
misery, and conveyed to a quiet residence on the sea-coast; not
in the hope of recovering his peace of mind or happiness, for
both were fled for ever; but to restore his prostrate energies, and
meditate on his darling object. And here, some evil spirit cast in
his way the opportunity for his first, most horrible revenge.
'It was summer-time; and wrapped in his gloomy thoughts, he
would issue from his solitary lodgings early in the evening, and
wandering along a narrow path beneath the cliffs, to a wild and
lonely spot that had struck his fancy in his ramblings, seat himself
on some fallen fragment of the rock, and burying his face in his
hands, remain there for hours--sometimes until night had completely
closed in, and the long shadows of the frowning cliffs
above his head cast a thick, black darkness on every object near him.
'He was seated here, one calm evening, in his old position, now
and then raising his head to watch the flight of a sea-gull, or
carry his eye along the glorious crimson path, which, commencing
in the middle of the ocean, seemed to lead to its very verge where
the sun was setting, when the profound stillness of the spot was
broken by a loud cry for help; he listened, doubtful of his having
heard aright, when the cry was repeated with even greater
vehemence than before, and, starting to his feet, he hastened in
the direction whence it proceeded.
'The tale told itself at once: some scattered garments lay on
the beach; a human head was just visible above the waves at a
little distance from the shore; and an old man, wringing his
hands in agony, was running to and fro, shrieking for assistance.
The invalid, whose strength was now sufficiently restored, threw
off his coat, and rushed towards the sea, with the intention of
plunging in, and dragging the drowning man ashore.
'"Hasten here, Sir, in God's name; help, help, sir, for the love
of Heaven. He is my son, Sir, my only son!" said the old man
frantically, as he advanced to meet him. "My only son, Sir, and
he is dying before his father's eyes!"
'At the first word the old man uttered, the stranger checked
himself in his career, and, folding his arms, stood perfectly motionless.
'"Great God!" exclaimed the old man, recoiling, "Heyling!"
'The stranger smiled, and was silent.
'"Heyling!" said the old man wildly; "my boy, Heyling, my
dear boy, look, look!" Gasping for breath, the miserable father
pointed to the spot where the young man was struggling for life.
'"Hark!" said the old man. "He cries once more. He is alive
yet. Heyling, save him, save him!"
'The stranger smiled again, and remained immovable as a statue.
'"I have wronged you," shrieked the old man, falling on his
knees, and clasping his hands together. "Be revenged; take my all,
my life; cast me into the water at your feet, and, if human nature
can repress a struggle, I will die, without stirring hand or foot.
Do it, Heyling, do it, but save my boy; he is so young, Heyling,
so young to die!"
'"Listen," said the stranger, grasping the old man fiercely by
the wrist; "I will have life for life, and here is ONE. MY child died,
before his father's eyes, a far more agonising and painful death
than that young slanderer of his sister's worth is meeting while I
speak. You laughed--laughed in your daughter's face, where
death had already set his hand--at our sufferings, then. What
think you of them now! See there, see there!"
'As the stranger spoke, he pointed to the sea. A faint cry died
away upon its surface; the last powerful struggle of the dying
man agitated the rippling waves for a few seconds; and the spot
where he had gone down into his early grave, was undistinguishable
from the surrounding water.
'Three years had elapsed, when a gentleman alighted from a
private carriage at the door of a London attorney, then well
known as a man of no great nicety in his professional dealings,
and requested a private interview on business of importance.
Although evidently not past the prime of life, his face was pale,
haggard, and dejected; and it did not require the acute perception
of the man of business, to discern at a glance, that disease or
suffering had done more to work a change in his appearance,
than the mere hand of time could have accomplished in twice the
period of his whole life.
'"I wish you to undertake some legal business for me," said
the stranger.
'The attorney bowed obsequiously, and glanced at a large
packet which the gentleman carried in his hand. His visitor
observed the look, and proceeded.
'"It is no common business," said he; "nor have these papers
reached my hands without long trouble and great expense."
'The attorney cast a still more anxious look at the packet; and
his visitor, untying the string that bound it, disclosed a quantity
of promissory notes, with copies of deeds, and other documents.
'"Upon these papers," said the client, "the man whose name
they bear, has raised, as you will see, large sums of money, for
years past. There was a tacit understanding between him and the
men into whose hands they originally went--and from whom I
have by degrees purchased the whole, for treble and quadruple
their nominal value--that these loans should be from time to
time renewed, until a given period had elapsed. Such an
understanding is nowhere expressed. He has sustained many losses of
late; and these obligations accumulating upon him at once,
would crush him to the earth."
'"The whole amount is many thousands of pounds," said the
attorney, looking over the papers.
'"It is," said the client.
'"What are we to do?" inquired the man of business.
'"Do!" replied the client, with sudden vehemence. "Put every
engine of the law in force, every trick that ingenuity can devise
and rascality execute; fair means and foul; the open oppression
of the law, aided by all the craft of its most ingenious practitioners.
I would have him die a harassing and lingering death. Ruin
him, seize and sell his lands and goods, drive him from house and
home, and drag him forth a beggar in his old age, to die in a
common jail."
'"But the costs, my dear Sir, the costs of all this," reasoned the
attorney, when he had recovered from his momentary surprise.
"If the defendant be a man of straw, who is to pay the costs, Sir?"
'"Name any sum," said the stranger, his hand trembling
so violently with excitement, that he could scarcely hold the
pen he seized as he spoke--"any sum, and it is yours. Don't be
afraid to name it, man. I shall not think it dear, if you gain
my object."
'The attorney named a large sum, at hazard, as the advance he
should require to secure himself against the possibility of loss;
but more with the view of ascertaining how far his client was
really disposed to go, than with any idea that he would comply
with the demand. The stranger wrote a cheque upon his banker,
for the whole amount, and left him.
'The draft was duly honoured, and the attorney, finding that
his strange client might be safely relied upon, commenced his
work in earnest. For more than two years afterwards, Mr.
Heyling would sit whole days together, in the office, poring over
the papers as they accumulated, and reading again and again, his
eyes gleaming with joy, the letters of remonstrance, the prayers
for a little delay, the representations of the certain ruin in which
the opposite party must be involved, which poured in, as suit after
suit, and process after process, was commenced. To all applications
for a brief indulgence, there was but one reply--the money
must be paid. Land, house, furniture, each in its turn, was taken
under some one of the numerous executions which were issued;
and the old man himself would have been immured in prison had
he not escaped the vigilance of the officers, and fled.
'The implacable animosity of Heyling, so far from being satiated
by the success of his persecution, increased a hundredfold with
the ruin he inflicted. On being informed of the old man's flight,
his fury was unbounded. He gnashed his teeth with rage, tore the
hair from his head, and assailed with horrid imprecations the
men who had been intrusted with the writ. He was only restored
to comparative calmness by repeated assurances of the certainty
of discovering the fugitive. Agents were sent in quest of him, in
all directions; every stratagem that could be invented was
resorted to, for the purpose of discovering his place of retreat;
but it was all in vain. Half a year had passed over, and he was
still undiscovered.
'At length late one night, Heyling, of whom nothing had been
seen for many weeks before, appeared at his attorney's private
residence, and sent up word that a gentleman wished to see him
instantly. Before the attorney, who had recognised his voice from
above stairs, could order the servant to admit him, he had rushed
up the staircase, and entered the drawing-room pale and breathless.
Having closed the door, to prevent being overheard, he sank
into a chair, and said, in a low voice--
'"Hush! I have found him at last."
'"No!" said the attorney. "Well done, my dear sir, well done."
'"He lies concealed in a wretched lodging in Camden Town,"
said Heyling. "Perhaps it is as well we DID lose sight of him, for he
has been living alone there, in the most abject misery, all the
time, and he is poor--very poor."
'"Very good," said the attorney. "You will have the caption
made to-morrow, of course?"
'"Yes," replied Heyling. "Stay! No! The next day. You are
surprised at my wishing to postpone it," he added, with a ghastly
smile; "but I had forgotten. The next day is an anniversary in his
life: let it be done then."
'"Very good," said the attorney. "Will you write down
instructions for the officer?"
'"No; let him meet me here, at eight in the evening, and I will
accompany him myself."
'They met on the appointed night, and, hiring a hackneycoach,
directed the driver to stop at that corner of the old
Pancras Road, at which stands the parish workhouse. By the
time they alighted there, it was quite dark; and, proceeding by
the dead wall in front of the Veterinary Hospital, they entered a
small by-street, which is, or was at that time, called Little College
Street, and which, whatever it may be now, was in those days a
desolate place enough, surrounded by little else than fields and ditches.
'Having drawn the travelling-cap he had on half over his face,
and muffled himself in his cloak, Heyling stopped before the
meanest-looking house in the street, and knocked gently at the
door. It was at once opened by a woman, who dropped a curtsey
of recognition, and Heyling, whispering the officer to remain
below, crept gently upstairs, and, opening the door of the front
room, entered at once.
'The object of his search and his unrelenting animosity, now a
decrepit old man, was seated at a bare deal table, on which stood
a miserable candle. He started on the entrance of the stranger,
and rose feebly to his feet.
'"What now, what now?" said the old man. "What fresh
misery is this? What do you want here?"
'"A word with YOU," replied Heyling. As he spoke, he seated
himself at the other end of the table, and, throwing off his cloak
and cap, disclosed his features.
'The old man seemed instantly deprived of speech. He fell
backward in his chair, and, clasping his hands together, gazed on
the apparition with a mingled look of abhorrence and fear.
'"This day six years," said Heyling, "I claimed the life you
owed me for my child's. Beside the lifeless form of your daughter,
old man, I swore to live a life of revenge. I have never swerved
from my purpose for a moment's space; but if I had, one thought
of her uncomplaining, suffering look, as she drooped away, or of
the starving face of our innocent child, would have nerved me to
my task. My first act of requital you well remember: this is my
'The old man shivered, and his hands dropped powerless by
his side.
'"I leave England to-morrow," said Heyling, after a moment's
pause. "To-night I consign you to the living death to which you
devoted her--a hopeless prison--"
'He raised his eyes to the old man's countenance, and paused.
He lifted the light to his face, set it gently down, and left the
'"You had better see to the old man," he said to the woman, as
he opened the door, and motioned the officer to follow him into
the street. "I think he is ill." The woman closed the door, ran
hastily upstairs, and found him lifeless.
'Beneath a plain gravestone, in one of the most peaceful and
secluded churchyards in Kent, where wild flowers mingle with
the grass, and the soft landscape around forms the fairest spot in
the garden of England, lie the bones of the young mother and her
gentle child. But the ashes of the father do not mingle with theirs;
nor, from that night forward, did the attorney ever gain the
remotest clue to the subsequent history of his queer client.'
As the old man concluded his tale, he advanced to a peg in one
corner, and taking down his hat and coat, put them on with
great deliberation; and, without saying another word, walked
slowly away. As the gentleman with the Mosaic studs had fallen
asleep, and the major part of the company were deeply occupied
in the humorous process of dropping melted tallow-grease into
his brandy-and-water, Mr. Pickwick departed unnoticed, and
having settled his own score, and that of Mr. Weller, issued forth,
in company with that gentleman, from beneath the portal of the
Magpie and Stump.
'That 'ere your governor's luggage, Sammy?' inquired Mr. Weller of
his affectionate son, as he entered the yard of the Bull Inn,
Whitechapel, with a travelling-bag and a small portmanteau.
'You might ha' made a worser guess than that, old feller,'
replied Mr. Weller the younger, setting down his burden in the
yard, and sitting himself down upon it afterwards. 'The governor
hisself'll be down here presently.'
'He's a-cabbin' it, I suppose?' said the father.
'Yes, he's a havin' two mile o' danger at eight-pence,' responded
the son. 'How's mother-in-law this mornin'?'
'Queer, Sammy, queer,' replied the elder Mr. Weller, with
impressive gravity. 'She's been gettin' rayther in the Methodistical
order lately, Sammy; and she is uncommon pious, to be sure.
She's too good a creetur for me, Sammy. I feel I don't deserve her.'
'Ah,' said Mr. Samuel. 'that's wery self-denyin' o' you.'
'Wery,' replied his parent, with a sigh. 'She's got hold o' some
inwention for grown-up people being born again, Sammy--the
new birth, I think they calls it. I should wery much like to see that
system in haction, Sammy. I should wery much like to see your
mother-in-law born again. Wouldn't I put her out to nurse!'
'What do you think them women does t'other day,' continued
Mr. Weller, after a short pause, during which he had significantly
struck the side of his nose with his forefinger some half-dozen
times. 'What do you think they does, t'other day, Sammy?'
'Don't know,' replied Sam, 'what?'
'Goes and gets up a grand tea drinkin' for a feller they calls
their shepherd,' said Mr. Weller. 'I was a-standing starin' in at
the pictur shop down at our place, when I sees a little bill about
it; "tickets half-a-crown. All applications to be made to the
committee. Secretary, Mrs. Weller"; and when I got home there
was the committee a-sittin' in our back parlour. Fourteen women;
I wish you could ha' heard 'em, Sammy. There they was,
a-passin' resolutions, and wotin' supplies, and all sorts o' games.
Well, what with your mother-in-law a-worrying me to go, and
what with my looking for'ard to seein' some queer starts if I did,
I put my name down for a ticket; at six o'clock on the Friday
evenin' I dresses myself out wery smart, and off I goes with the
old 'ooman, and up we walks into a fust-floor where there was
tea-things for thirty, and a whole lot o' women as begins
whisperin' to one another, and lookin' at me, as if they'd never
seen a rayther stout gen'l'm'n of eight-and-fifty afore. By and by,
there comes a great bustle downstairs, and a lanky chap with a
red nose and a white neckcloth rushes up, and sings out, "Here's
the shepherd a-coming to wisit his faithful flock;" and in comes
a fat chap in black, vith a great white face, a-smilin' avay like
clockwork. Such goin's on, Sammy! "The kiss of peace," says the
shepherd; and then he kissed the women all round, and ven he'd
done, the man vith the red nose began. I was just a-thinkin'
whether I hadn't better begin too--'specially as there was a wery
nice lady a-sittin' next me--ven in comes the tea, and your
mother-in-law, as had been makin' the kettle bile downstairs. At
it they went, tooth and nail. Such a precious loud hymn, Sammy,
while the tea was a brewing; such a grace, such eatin' and
drinkin'! I wish you could ha' seen the shepherd walkin' into the
ham and muffins. I never see such a chap to eat and drink--
never. The red-nosed man warn't by no means the sort of person
you'd like to grub by contract, but he was nothin' to the shepherd.
Well; arter the tea was over, they sang another hymn, and
then the shepherd began to preach: and wery well he did it,
considerin' how heavy them muffins must have lied on his chest.
Presently he pulls up, all of a sudden, and hollers out, "Where is
the sinner; where is the mis'rable sinner?" Upon which, all the
women looked at me, and began to groan as if they was a-dying.
I thought it was rather sing'ler, but howsoever, I says nothing.
Presently he pulls up again, and lookin' wery hard at me, says,
"Where is the sinner; where is the mis'rable sinner?" and all the
women groans again, ten times louder than afore. I got rather
savage at this, so I takes a step or two for'ard and says, "My
friend," says I, "did you apply that 'ere obserwation to me?"
'Stead of beggin' my pardon as any gen'l'm'n would ha' done,
he got more abusive than ever:--called me a wessel, Sammy--a
wessel of wrath--and all sorts o' names. So my blood being
reg'larly up, I first gave him two or three for himself, and then
two or three more to hand over to the man with the red nose,
and walked off. I wish you could ha' heard how the women
screamed, Sammy, ven they picked up the shepherd from underneath
the table--Hollo! here's the governor, the size of life.'
As Mr. Weller spoke, Mr. Pickwick dismounted from a cab,
and entered the yard.
'Fine mornin', Sir,' said Mr. Weller, senior.
'Beautiful indeed,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Beautiful indeed,' echoes a red-haired man with an inquisitive
nose and green spectacles, who had unpacked himself from a cab
at the same moment as Mr. Pickwick. 'Going to Ipswich, Sir?'
'I am,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Extraordinary coincidence. So am I.'
Mr. Pickwick bowed.
'Going outside?' said the red-haired man.
Mr. Pickwick bowed again.
'Bless my soul, how remarkable--I am going outside, too,' said
the red-haired man; 'we are positively going together.' And the
red-haired man, who was an important-looking, sharp-nosed,
mysterious-spoken personage, with a bird-like habit of giving his
head a jerk every time he said anything, smiled as if he had made
one of the strangest discoveries that ever fell to the lot of
human wisdom.
'I am happy in the prospect of your company, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Ah,' said the new-comer, 'it's a good thing for both of us,
isn't it? Company, you see--company--is--is--it's a very
different thing from solitude--ain't it?'
'There's no denying that 'ere,' said Mr. Weller, joining in the
conversation, with an affable smile. 'That's what I call a selfevident
proposition, as the dog's-meat man said, when the
housemaid told him he warn't a gentleman.'
'Ah,' said the red-haired man, surveying Mr. Weller from head
to foot with a supercilious look. 'Friend of yours, sir?'
'Not exactly a friend,' replied Mr. Pickwick, in a low tone.
'The fact is, he is my servant, but I allow him to take a good many
liberties; for, between ourselves, I flatter myself he is an original,
and I am rather proud of him.'
'Ah,' said the red-haired man, 'that, you see, is a matter of
taste. I am not fond of anything original; I don't like it; don't see
the necessity for it. What's your name, sir?'
'Here is my card, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, much amused by
the abruptness of the question, and the singular manner of the stranger.
'Ah,' said the red-haired man, placing the card in his pocketbook,
'Pickwick; very good. I like to know a man's name, it
saves so much trouble. That's my card, sir. Magnus, you will
perceive, sir--Magnus is my name. It's rather a good name, I
think, sir.'
'A very good name, indeed,' said Mr. Pickwick, wholly unable
to repress a smile.
'Yes, I think it is,' resumed Mr. Magnus. 'There's a good
name before it, too, you will observe. Permit me, sir--if you hold
the card a little slanting, this way, you catch the light upon the
up-stroke. There--Peter Magnus--sounds well, I think, sir.'
'Very,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Curious circumstance about those initials, sir,' said Mr.
Magnus. 'You will observe--P.M.--post meridian. In hasty
notes to intimate acquaintance, I sometimes sign myself "Afternoon."
It amuses my friends very much, Mr. Pickwick.'
'It is calculated to afford them the highest gratification, I
should conceive,' said Mr. Pickwick, rather envying the ease with
which Mr. Magnus's friends were entertained.
'Now, gen'l'm'n,' said the hostler, 'coach is ready, if you please.'
'Is all my luggage in?' inquired Mr. Magnus.
'All right, sir.'
'Is the red bag in?'
'All right, Sir.'
'And the striped bag?'
'Fore boot, Sir.'
'And the brown-paper parcel?'
'Under the seat, Sir.'
'And the leather hat-box?'
'They're all in, Sir.'
'Now, will you get up?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Excuse me,' replied Magnus, standing on the wheel. 'Excuse
me, Mr. Pickwick. I cannot consent to get up, in this state of
uncertainty. I am quite satisfied from that man's manner, that the
leather hat-box is not in.'
The solemn protestations of the hostler being wholly
unavailing, the leather hat-box was obliged to be raked up from the
lowest depth of the boot, to satisfy him that it had been safely
packed; and after he had been assured on this head, he felt a
solemn presentiment, first, that the red bag was mislaid, and
next that the striped bag had been stolen, and then that the
brown-paper parcel 'had come untied.' At length when he had
received ocular demonstration of the groundless nature of each
and every of these suspicions, he consented to climb up to the
roof of the coach, observing that now he had taken everything
off his mind, he felt quite comfortable and happy.
'You're given to nervousness, ain't you, Sir?' inquired Mr.
Weller, senior, eyeing the stranger askance, as he mounted to his place.
'Yes; I always am rather about these little matters,' said the
stranger, 'but I am all right now--quite right.'
'Well, that's a blessin', said Mr. Weller. 'Sammy, help your
master up to the box; t'other leg, Sir, that's it; give us your hand,
Sir. Up with you. You was a lighter weight when you was a boy, sir.'
'True enough, that, Mr. Weller,' said the breathless Mr.
Pickwick good-humouredly, as he took his seat on the box beside him.
'Jump up in front, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller. 'Now Villam, run
'em out. Take care o' the archvay, gen'l'm'n. "Heads," as the
pieman says. That'll do, Villam. Let 'em alone.' And away went
the coach up Whitechapel, to the admiration of the whole
population of that pretty densely populated quarter.
'Not a wery nice neighbourhood, this, Sir,' said Sam, with a
touch of the hat, which always preceded his entering into
conversation with his master.
'It is not indeed, Sam,' replied Mr. Pickwick, surveying the
crowded and filthy street through which they were passing.
'It's a wery remarkable circumstance, Sir,' said Sam, 'that
poverty and oysters always seem to go together.'
'I don't understand you, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'What I mean, sir,' said Sam, 'is, that the poorer a place is, the
greater call there seems to be for oysters. Look here, sir; here's
a oyster-stall to every half-dozen houses. The street's lined vith
'em. Blessed if I don't think that ven a man's wery poor,
he rushes out of his lodgings, and eats oysters in reg'lar desperation.'
'To be sure he does,' said Mr. Weller, senior; 'and it's just the
same vith pickled salmon!'
'Those are two very remarkable facts, which never occurred to
me before,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'The very first place we stop at,
I'll make a note of them.'
By this time they had reached the turnpike at Mile End; a
profound silence prevailed until they had got two or three miles
farther on, when Mr. Weller, senior, turning suddenly to Mr.
Pickwick, said--
'Wery queer life is a pike-keeper's, sir.'
'A what?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'A pike-keeper.'
'What do you mean by a pike-keeper?' inquired Mr. Peter Magnus.
'The old 'un means a turnpike-keeper, gen'l'm'n,' observed
Mr. Samuel Weller, in explanation.
'Oh,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I see. Yes; very curious life.
Very uncomfortable.'
'They're all on 'em men as has met vith some disappointment
in life,' said Mr. Weller, senior.
'Ay, ay,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes. Consequence of vich, they retires from the world, and
shuts themselves up in pikes; partly with the view of being
solitary, and partly to rewenge themselves on mankind by takin' tolls.'
'Dear me,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I never knew that before.'
'Fact, Sir,' said Mr. Weller; 'if they was gen'l'm'n, you'd
call 'em misanthropes, but as it is, they only takes to pike-keepin'.'
With such conversation, possessing the inestimable charm of
blending amusement with instruction, did Mr. Weller beguile the
tediousness of the journey, during the greater part of the day.
Topics of conversation were never wanting, for even when any
pause occurred in Mr. Weller's loquacity, it was abundantly
supplied by the desire evinced by Mr. Magnus to make himself
acquainted with the whole of the personal history of his fellowtravellers,
and his loudly-expressed anxiety at every stage,
respecting the safety and well-being of the two bags, the leather
hat-box, and the brown-paper parcel.
In the main street of Ipswich, on the left-hand side of the way,
a short distance after you have passed through the open space
fronting the Town Hall, stands an inn known far and wide by the
appellation of the Great White Horse, rendered the more
conspicuous by a stone statue of some rampacious animal with
flowing mane and tail, distantly resembling an insane cart-horse,
which is elevated above the principal door. The Great White
Horse is famous in the neighbourhood, in the same degree as a
prize ox, or a county-paper-chronicled turnip, or unwieldy pig--
for its enormous size. Never was such labyrinths of uncarpeted
passages, such clusters of mouldy, ill-lighted rooms, such huge
numbers of small dens for eating or sleeping in, beneath any one
roof, as are collected together between the four walls of the
Great White Horse at Ipswich.
It was at the door of this overgrown tavern that the London
coach stopped, at the same hour every evening; and it was from
this same London coach that Mr. Pickwick, Sam Weller, and
Mr. Peter Magnus dismounted, on the particular evening to
which this chapter of our history bears reference.
'Do you stop here, sir?' inquired Mr. Peter Magnus, when the
striped bag, and the red bag, and the brown-paper parcel, and the
leather hat-box, had all been deposited in the passage. 'Do you
stop here, sir?'
'I do,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Dear me,' said Mr. Magnus, 'I never knew anything like these
extraordinary coincidences. Why, I stop here too. I hope we
dine together?'
'With pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'I am not quite certain
whether I have any friends here or not, though. Is there any
gentleman of the name of Tupman here, waiter?'
A corpulent man, with a fortnight's napkin under his arm, and
coeval stockings on his legs, slowly desisted from his occupation
of staring down the street, on this question being put to him by
Mr. Pickwick; and, after minutely inspecting that gentleman's
appearance, from the crown of his hat to the lowest button of his
gaiters, replied emphatically--
'Nor any gentleman of the name of Snodgrass?' inquired
Mr. Pickwick.
'Nor Winkle?'
'My friends have not arrived to-day, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'We will dine alone, then. Show us a private room, waiter.'
On this request being preferred, the corpulent man
condescended to order the boots to bring in the gentlemen's luggage;
and preceding them down a long, dark passage, ushered them
into a large, badly-furnished apartment, with a dirty grate, in
which a small fire was making a wretched attempt to be cheerful,
but was fast sinking beneath the dispiriting influence of the place.
After the lapse of an hour, a bit of fish and a steak was served up
to the travellers, and when the dinner was cleared away, Mr.
Pickwick and Mr. Peter Magnus drew their chairs up to the fire,
and having ordered a bottle of the worst possible port wine, at
the highest possible price, for the good of the house, drank
brandy-and-water for their own.
Mr. Peter Magnus was naturally of a very communicative
disposition, and the brandy-and-water operated with wonderful
effect in warming into life the deepest hidden secrets of his
bosom. After sundry accounts of himself, his family, his connections,
his friends, his jokes, his business, and his brothers (most
talkative men have a great deal to say about their brothers),
Mr. Peter Magnus took a view of Mr. Pickwick through his
coloured spectacles for several minutes, and then said, with an
air of modesty--
'And what do you think--what DO you think, Mr. Pickwick--I
have come down here for?'
'Upon my word,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'it is wholly impossible
for me to guess; on business, perhaps.'
'Partly right, Sir,' replied Mr. Peter Magnus, 'but partly wrong
at the same time; try again, Mr. Pickwick.'
'Really,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I must throw myself on your
mercy, to tell me or not, as you may think best; for I should never
guess, if I were to try all night.'
'Why, then, he-he-he!' said Mr. Peter Magnus, with a
bashful titter, 'what should you think, Mr. Pickwick, if I had
come down here to make a proposal, Sir, eh? He, he, he!'
'Think! That you are very likely to succeed,' replied Mr.
Pickwick, with one of his beaming smiles.
'Ah!' said Mr. Magnus. 'But do you really think so, Mr.
Pickwick? Do you, though?'
'Certainly,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'No; but you're joking, though.'
'I am not, indeed.'
'Why, then,' said Mr. Magnus, 'to let you into a little secret, I
think so too. I don't mind telling you, Mr. Pickwick, although
I'm dreadful jealous by nature--horrid--that the lady is in this
house.' Here Mr. Magnus took off his spectacles, on purpose to
wink, and then put them on again.
'That's what you were running out of the room for, before
dinner, then, so often,' said Mr. Pickwick archly.
'Hush! Yes, you're right, that was it; not such a fool as to see
her, though.'
'No; wouldn't do, you know, after having just come off a
journey. Wait till to-morrow, sir; double the chance then. Mr.
Pickwick, Sir, there is a suit of clothes in that bag, and a hat in
that box, which, I expect, in the effect they will produce, will be
invaluable to me, sir.'
'Indeed!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes; you must have observed my anxiety about them to-day.
I do not believe that such another suit of clothes, and such a hat,
could be bought for money, Mr. Pickwick.'
Mr. Pickwick congratulated the fortunate owner of the
irresistible garments on their acquisition; and Mr. Peter Magnus
remained a few moments apparently absorbed in contemplation.
'She's a fine creature,' said Mr. Magnus.
'Is she?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Very,' said Mr. Magnus. 'very. She lives about twenty miles
from here, Mr. Pickwick. I heard she would be here to-night and
all to-morrow forenoon, and came down to seize the opportunity.
I think an inn is a good sort of a place to propose to a single
woman in, Mr. Pickwick. She is more likely to feel the loneliness
of her situation in travelling, perhaps, than she would be at home.
What do you think, Mr. Pickwick?'
'I think it is very probable,' replied that gentleman.
'I beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mr. Peter Magnus,
'but I am naturally rather curious; what may you have come
down here for?'
'On a far less pleasant errand, Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, the
colour mounting to his face at the recollection. 'I have come
down here, Sir, to expose the treachery and falsehood of an
individual, upon whose truth and honour I placed implicit reliance.'
'Dear me,' said Mr. Peter Magnus, 'that's very unpleasant. It is
a lady, I presume? Eh? ah! Sly, Mr. Pickwick, sly. Well, Mr.
Pickwick, sir, I wouldn't probe your feelings for the world.
Painful subjects, these, sir, very painful. Don't mind me, Mr.
Pickwick, if you wish to give vent to your feelings. I know what
it is to be jilted, Sir; I have endured that sort of thing three or
four times.'
'I am much obliged to you, for your condolence on what you
presume to be my melancholy case,' said Mr. Pickwick, winding
up his watch, and laying it on the table, 'but--'
'No, no,' said Mr. Peter Magnus, 'not a word more; it's a
painful subject. I see, I see. What's the time, Mr. Pickwick?'
'Past twelve.'
'Dear me, it's time to go to bed. It will never do, sitting here. I
shall be pale to-morrow, Mr. Pickwick.'
At the bare notion of such a calamity, Mr. Peter Magnus rang
the bell for the chambermaid; and the striped bag, the red bag,
the leathern hat-box, and the brown-paper parcel, having been
conveyed to his bedroom, he retired in company with a japanned
candlestick, to one side of the house, while Mr. Pickwick, and
another japanned candlestick, were conducted through a multitude
of tortuous windings, to another.
'This is your room, sir,' said the chambermaid.
'Very well,' replied Mr. Pickwick, looking round him. It was a
tolerably large double-bedded room, with a fire; upon the whole,
a more comfortable-looking apartment than Mr. Pickwick's
short experience of the accommodations of the Great White
Horse had led him to expect.
'Nobody sleeps in the other bed, of course,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Oh, no, Sir.'
'Very good. Tell my servant to bring me up some hot water at
half-past eight in the morning, and that I shall not want him any
more to-night.'
'Yes, Sir,' and bidding Mr. Pickwick good-night, the chambermaid
retired, and left him alone.
Mr. Pickwick sat himself down in a chair before the fire, and
fell into a train of rambling meditations. First he thought of his
friends, and wondered when they would join him; then his mind
reverted to Mrs. Martha Bardell; and from that lady it wandered,
by a natural process, to the dingy counting-house of Dodson &
Fogg. From Dodson & Fogg's it flew off at a tangent, to the very
centre of the history of the queer client; and then it came back to
the Great White Horse at Ipswich, with sufficient clearness to
convince Mr. Pickwick that he was falling asleep. So he roused
himself, and began to undress, when he recollected he had left his
watch on the table downstairs.
Now this watch was a special favourite with Mr. Pickwick,
having been carried about, beneath the shadow of his waistcoat,
for a greater number of years than we feel called upon to state at
present. The possibility of going to sleep, unless it were ticking
gently beneath his pillow, or in the watch-pocket over his head,
had never entered Mr. Pickwick's brain. So as it was pretty late
now, and he was unwilling to ring his bell at that hour of the
night, he slipped on his coat, of which he had just divested
himself, and taking the japanned candlestick in his hand, walked
quietly downstairs.
The more stairs Mr. Pickwick went down, the more stairs
there seemed to be to descend, and again and again, when Mr.
Pickwick got into some narrow passage, and began to congratulate
himself on having gained the ground-floor, did another flight
of stairs appear before his astonished eyes. At last he reached a
stone hall, which he remembered to have seen when he entered
the house. Passage after passage did he explore; room after room
did he peep into; at length, as he was on the point of giving up the
search in despair, he opened the door of the identical room in
which he had spent the evening, and beheld his missing property
on the table.
Mr. Pickwick seized the watch in triumph, and proceeded to
retrace his steps to his bedchamber. If his progress downward had
been attended with difficulties and uncertainty, his journey back
was infinitely more perplexing. Rows of doors, garnished with
boots of every shape, make, and size, branched off in every
possible direction. A dozen times did he softly turn the handle of
some bedroom door which resembled his own, when a gruff cry
from within of 'Who the devil's that?' or 'What do you want
here?' caused him to steal away, on tiptoe, with a perfectly
marvellous celerity. He was reduced to the verge of despair, when
an open door attracted his attention. He peeped in. Right at last!
There were the two beds, whose situation he perfectly remembered,
and the fire still burning. His candle, not a long one when he
first received it, had flickered away in the drafts of air through
which he had passed and sank into the socket as he closed the
door after him. 'No matter,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I can undress
myself just as well by the light of the fire.'
The bedsteads stood one on each side of the door; and on the
inner side of each was a little path, terminating in a rushbottomed
chair, just wide enough to admit of a person's getting
into or out of bed, on that side, if he or she thought proper.
Having carefully drawn the curtains of his bed on the outside,
Mr. Pickwick sat down on the rush-bottomed chair, and leisurely
divested himself of his shoes and gaiters. He then took off and
folded up his coat, waistcoat, and neckcloth, and slowly drawing
on his tasselled nightcap, secured it firmly on his head, by tying
beneath his chin the strings which he always had attached to that
article of dress. It was at this moment that the absurdity of his
recent bewilderment struck upon his mind. Throwing himself
back in the rush-bottomed chair, Mr. Pickwick laughed to
himself so heartily, that it would have been quite delightful to
any man of well-constituted mind to have watched the smiles
that expanded his amiable features as they shone forth from
beneath the nightcap.
'It is the best idea,' said Mr. Pickwick to himself, smiling till he
almost cracked the nightcap strings--'it is the best idea, my
losing myself in this place, and wandering about these staircases,
that I ever heard of. Droll, droll, very droll.' Here Mr. Pickwick
smiled again, a broader smile than before, and was about to
continue the process of undressing, in the best possible humour,
when he was suddenly stopped by a most unexpected interruption:
to wit, the entrance into the room of some person with a
candle, who, after locking the door, advanced to the dressingtable,
and set down the light upon it.
The smile that played on Mr. Pickwick's features was
instantaneously lost in a look of the most unbounded and wonderstricken
surprise. The person, whoever it was, had come in so
suddenly and with so little noise, that Mr. Pickwick had had no
time to call out, or oppose their entrance. Who could it be? A
robber? Some evil-minded person who had seen him come
upstairs with a handsome watch in his hand, perhaps. What was
he to do?
The only way in which Mr. Pickwick could catch a glimpse of
his mysterious visitor with the least danger of being seen himself,
was by creeping on to the bed, and peeping out from between the
curtains on the opposite side. To this manoeuvre he accordingly
resorted. Keeping the curtains carefully closed with his hand, so
that nothing more of him could be seen than his face and nightcap,
and putting on his spectacles, he mustered up courage and
looked out.
Mr. Pickwick almost fainted with horror and dismay. Standing
before the dressing-glass was a middle-aged lady, in yellow curlpapers,
busily engaged in brushing what ladies call their 'backhair.'
However the unconscious middle-aged lady came into that
room, it was quite clear that she contemplated remaining there
for the night; for she had brought a rushlight and shade with her,
which, with praiseworthy precaution against fire, she had
stationed in a basin on the floor, where it was glimmering away,
like a gigantic lighthouse in a particularly small piece of water.
'Bless my soul!' thought Mr. Pickwick, 'what a dreadful thing!'
'Hem!' said the lady; and in went Mr. Pickwick's head with
automaton-like rapidity.
'I never met with anything so awful as this,' thought poor
Mr. Pickwick, the cold perspiration starting in drops upon his
nightcap. 'Never. This is fearful.'
It was quite impossible to resist the urgent desire to see what
was going forward. So out went Mr. Pickwick's head again. The
prospect was worse than before. The middle-aged lady had
finished arranging her hair; had carefully enveloped it in a muslin
nightcap with a small plaited border; and was gazing pensively
on the fire.
'This matter is growing alarming,' reasoned Mr. Pickwick with
himself. 'I can't allow things to go on in this way. By the selfpossession
of that lady, it is clear to me that I must have come
into the wrong room. If I call out she'll alarm the house; but if I
remain here the consequences will be still more frightful.'
Mr. Pickwick, it is quite unnecessary to say, was one of the
most modest and delicate-minded of mortals. The very idea of
exhibiting his nightcap to a lady overpowered him, but he had
tied those confounded strings in a knot, and, do what he would,
he couldn't get it off. The disclosure must be made. There was
only one other way of doing it. He shrunk behind the curtains,
and called out very loudly--
That the lady started at this unexpected sound was evident, by
her falling up against the rushlight shade; that she persuaded
herself it must have been the effect of imagination was equally
clear, for when Mr. Pickwick, under the impression that she had
fainted away stone-dead with fright, ventured to peep out again,
she was gazing pensively on the fire as before.
'Most extraordinary female this,' thought Mr. Pickwick,
popping in again. 'Ha-hum!'
These last sounds, so like those in which, as legends inform us,
the ferocious giant Blunderbore was in the habit of expressing his
opinion that it was time to lay the cloth, were too distinctly
audible to be again mistaken for the workings of fancy.
'Gracious Heaven!' said the middle-aged lady, 'what's that?'
'It's-- it's--only a gentleman, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, from
behind the curtains.
'A gentleman!' said the lady, with a terrific scream.
'It's all over!' thought Mr. Pickwick.
'A strange man!' shrieked the lady. Another instant and the
house would be alarmed. Her garments rustled as she rushed
towards the door.
'Ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, thrusting out his head. in the
extremity of his desperation, 'ma'am!'
Now, although Mr. Pickwick was not actuated by any definite
object in putting out his head, it was instantaneously productive
of a good effect. The lady, as we have already stated, was near the
door. She must pass it, to reach the staircase, and she would most
undoubtedly have done so by this time, had not the sudden
apparition of Mr. Pickwick's nightcap driven her back into the
remotest corner of the apartment, where she stood staring wildly
at Mr. Pickwick, while Mr. Pickwick in his turn stared wildly
at her.
'Wretch,' said the lady, covering her eyes with her hands,
'what do you want here?'
'Nothing, ma'am; nothing whatever, ma'am,' said Mr.
Pickwick earnestly.
'Nothing!' said the lady, looking up.
'Nothing, ma'am, upon my honour,' said Mr. Pickwick,
nodding his head so energetically, that the tassel of his nightcap
danced again. 'I am almost ready to sink, ma'am, beneath the
confusion of addressing a lady in my nightcap (here the lady
hastily snatched off hers), but I can't get it off, ma'am (here Mr.
Pickwick gave it a tremendous tug, in proof of the statement). It
is evident to me, ma'am, now, that I have mistaken this bedroom
for my own. I had not been here five minutes, ma'am, when you
suddenly entered it.'
'If this improbable story be really true, Sir,' said the lady,
sobbing violently, 'you will leave it instantly.'
'I will, ma'am, with the greatest pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Instantly, sir,' said the lady.
'Certainly, ma'am,' interposed Mr. Pickwick, very quickly.
'Certainly, ma'am. I--I--am very sorry, ma'am,' said Mr.
Pickwick, making his appearance at the bottom of the bed, 'to
have been the innocent occasion of this alarm and emotion;
deeply sorry, ma'am.'
The lady pointed to the door. One excellent quality of Mr.
Pickwick's character was beautifully displayed at this moment,
under the most trying circumstances. Although he had hastily
Put on his hat over his nightcap, after the manner of the old
patrol; although he carried his shoes and gaiters in his hand, and
his coat and waistcoat over his arm; nothing could subdue his
native politeness.
'I am exceedingly sorry, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, bowing
very low.
'If you are, Sir, you will at once leave the room,' said the lady.
'Immediately, ma'am; this instant, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick,
opening the door, and dropping both his shoes with a crash in so doing.
'I trust, ma'am,' resumed Mr. Pickwick, gathering up his shoes,
and turning round to bow again--'I trust, ma'am, that my
unblemished character, and the devoted respect I entertain for your
sex, will plead as some slight excuse for this--' But before Mr.
Pickwick could conclude the sentence, the lady had thrust him
into the passage, and locked and bolted the door behind him.
Whatever grounds of self-congratulation Mr. Pickwick might
have for having escaped so quietly from his late awkward
situation, his present position was by no means enviable. He was
alone, in an open passage, in a strange house in the middle of the
night, half dressed; it was not to be supposed that he could find
his way in perfect darkness to a room which he had been wholly
unable to discover with a light, and if he made the slightest noise
in his fruitless attempts to do so, he stood every chance of being
shot at, and perhaps killed, by some wakeful traveller. He had no
resource but to remain where he was until daylight appeared. So
after groping his way a few paces down the passage, and, to his
infinite alarm, stumbling over several pairs of boots in so doing,
Mr. Pickwick crouched into a little recess in the wall, to wait for
morning, as philosophically as he might.
He was not destined, however, to undergo this additional trial
of patience; for he had not been long ensconced in his present
concealment when, to his unspeakable horror, a man, bearing a
light, appeared at the end of the passage. His horror was suddenly
converted into joy, however, when he recognised the form of his
faithful attendant. It was indeed Mr. Samuel Weller, who after
sitting up thus late, in conversation with the boots, who was
sitting up for the mail, was now about to retire to rest.
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, suddenly appearing before him,
'where's my bedroom?'
Mr. Weller stared at his master with the most emphatic
surprise; and it was not until the question had been repeated
three several times, that he turned round, and led the way to the
long-sought apartment.
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, as he got into bed, 'I have made one
of the most extraordinary mistakes to-night, that ever were
heard of.'
'Wery likely, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller drily.
'But of this I am determined, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'that if
I were to stop in this house for six months, I would never trust
myself about it, alone, again.'
'That's the wery prudentest resolution as you could come to,
Sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'You rayther want somebody to look
arter you, Sir, when your judgment goes out a wisitin'.'
'What do you mean by that, Sam?' said Mr. Pickwick. He
raised himself in bed, and extended his hand, as if he were about
to say something more; but suddenly checking himself, turned
round, and bade his valet 'Good-night.'
'Good-night, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller. He paused when he got
outside the door--shook his head--walked on--stopped--
snuffed the candle--shook his head again--and finally proceeded
slowly to his chamber, apparently buried in the profoundest meditation.
In a small room in the vicinity of the stableyard, betimes in the
morning, which was ushered in by Mr. Pickwick's adventure with the
middle--aged lady in the yellow curl-papers, sat Mr. Weller, senior,
preparing himself for his journey to London. He was sitting in an
excellent attitude for having his portrait taken; and here it is.
It is very possible that at some earlier period of his career,
Mr. Weller's profile might have presented a bold and determined
outline. His face, however, had expanded under the influence of
good living, and a disposition remarkable for resignation; and its
bold, fleshy curves had so far extended beyond the limits originally
assigned them, that unless you took a full view of his countenance
in front, it was difficult to distinguish more than the extreme tip
of a very rubicund nose. His chin, from the same cause, had
acquired the grave and imposing form which is generally
described by prefixing the word 'double' to that expressive
feature; and his complexion exhibited that peculiarly mottled
combination of colours which is only to be seen in gentlemen of
his profession, and in underdone roast beef. Round his neck he
wore a crimson travelling-shawl, which merged into his chin by
such imperceptible gradations, that it was difficult to distinguish
the folds of the one, from the folds of the other. Over this, he
mounted a long waistcoat of a broad pink-striped pattern, and
over that again, a wide-skirted green coat, ornamented with large
brass buttons, whereof the two which garnished the waist, were
so far apart, that no man had ever beheld them both at the same
time. His hair, which was short, sleek, and black, was just visible
beneath the capacious brim of a low-crowned brown hat. His legs
were encased in knee-cord breeches, and painted top-boots; and a
copper watch-chain, terminating in one seal, and a key of the
same material, dangled loosely from his capacious waistband.
We have said that Mr. Weller was engaged in preparing for his
journey to London--he was taking sustenance, in fact. On the
table before him, stood a pot of ale, a cold round of beef, and a
very respectable-looking loaf, to each of which he distributed his
favours in turn, with the most rigid impartiality. He had just cut
a mighty slice from the latter, when the footsteps of somebody
entering the room, caused him to raise his head; and he beheld
his son.
'Mornin', Sammy!' said the father.
The son walked up to the pot of ale, and nodding significantly
to his parent, took a long draught by way of reply.
'Wery good power o' suction, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller the
elder, looking into the pot, when his first-born had set it down
half empty. 'You'd ha' made an uncommon fine oyster, Sammy,
if you'd been born in that station o' life.'
'Yes, I des-say, I should ha' managed to pick up a respectable
livin',' replied Sam applying himself to the cold beef, with
considerable vigour.
'I'm wery sorry, Sammy,' said the elder Mr. Weller, shaking
up the ale, by describing small circles with the pot, preparatory
to drinking. 'I'm wery sorry, Sammy, to hear from your lips, as
you let yourself be gammoned by that 'ere mulberry man. I
always thought, up to three days ago, that the names of Veller
and gammon could never come into contract, Sammy, never.'
'Always exceptin' the case of a widder, of course,' said Sam.
'Widders, Sammy,' replied Mr. Weller, slightly changing
colour. 'Widders are 'ceptions to ev'ry rule. I have heerd how
many ordinary women one widder's equal to in pint o' comin'
over you. I think it's five-and-twenty, but I don't rightly know
vether it ain't more.'
'Well; that's pretty well,' said Sam.
'Besides,' continued Mr. Weller, not noticing the interruption,
'that's a wery different thing. You know what the counsel said,
Sammy, as defended the gen'l'm'n as beat his wife with the poker,
venever he got jolly. "And arter all, my Lord," says he, "it's a
amiable weakness." So I says respectin' widders, Sammy, and so
you'll say, ven you gets as old as me.'
'I ought to ha' know'd better, I know,' said Sam.
'Ought to ha' know'd better!' repeated Mr. Weller, striking the
table with his fist. 'Ought to ha' know'd better! why, I know a
young 'un as hasn't had half nor quarter your eddication--as
hasn't slept about the markets, no, not six months--who'd ha'
scorned to be let in, in such a vay; scorned it, Sammy.' In the
excitement of feeling produced by this agonising reflection, Mr.
Weller rang the bell, and ordered an additional pint of ale.
'Well, it's no use talking about it now,' said Sam. 'It's over,
and can't be helped, and that's one consolation, as they always
says in Turkey, ven they cuts the wrong man's head off. It's my
innings now, gov'nor, and as soon as I catches hold o' this 'ere
Trotter, I'll have a good 'un.'
'I hope you will, Sammy. I hope you will,' returned Mr. Weller.
'Here's your health, Sammy, and may you speedily vipe off the
disgrace as you've inflicted on the family name.' In honour of
this toast Mr. Weller imbibed at a draught, at least two-thirds of
a newly-arrived pint, and handed it over to his son, to dispose of
the remainder, which he instantaneously did.
'And now, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, consulting a large doublefaced
silver watch that hung at the end of the copper chain.
'Now it's time I was up at the office to get my vay-bill and see the
coach loaded; for coaches, Sammy, is like guns--they requires
to be loaded with wery great care, afore they go off.'
At this parental and professional joke, Mr. Weller, junior,
smiled a filial smile. His revered parent continued in a solemn tone--
'I'm a-goin' to leave you, Samivel, my boy, and there's no
telling ven I shall see you again. Your mother-in-law may ha'
been too much for me, or a thousand things may have happened
by the time you next hears any news o' the celebrated Mr. Veller
o' the Bell Savage. The family name depends wery much upon
you, Samivel, and I hope you'll do wot's right by it. Upon all
little pints o' breedin', I know I may trust you as vell as if it was
my own self. So I've only this here one little bit of adwice to give
you. If ever you gets to up'ards o' fifty, and feels disposed to go
a-marryin' anybody--no matter who--jist you shut yourself up
in your own room, if you've got one, and pison yourself off hand.
Hangin's wulgar, so don't you have nothin' to say to that. Pison
yourself, Samivel, my boy, pison yourself, and you'll be glad on
it arterwards.' With these affecting words, Mr. Weller looked
steadfastly on his son, and turning slowly upon his heel,
disappeared from his sight.
In the contemplative mood which these words had awakened,
Mr. Samuel Weller walked forth from the Great White Horse
when his father had left him; and bending his steps towards St.
Clement's Church, endeavoured to dissipate his melancholy, by
strolling among its ancient precincts. He had loitered about, for
some time, when he found himself in a retired spot--a kind of
courtyard of venerable appearance--which he discovered had no
other outlet than the turning by which he had entered. He was
about retracing his steps, when he was suddenly transfixed to the
spot by a sudden appearance; and the mode and manner of this
appearance, we now proceed to relate.
Mr. Samuel Weller had been staring up at the old brick houses
now and then, in his deep abstraction, bestowing a wink upon
some healthy-looking servant girl as she drew up a blind, or
threw open a bedroom window, when the green gate of a garden
at the bottom of the yard opened, and a man having emerged
therefrom, closed the green gate very carefully after him, and
walked briskly towards the very spot where Mr. Weller was standing.
Now, taking this, as an isolated fact, unaccompanied by any
attendant circumstances, there was nothing very extraordinary in
it; because in many parts of the world men do come out of
gardens, close green gates after them, and even walk briskly
away, without attracting any particular share of public observation.
It is clear, therefore, that there must have been something in
the man, or in his manner, or both, to attract Mr. Weller's
particular notice. Whether there was, or not, we must leave the
reader to determine, when we have faithfully recorded the
behaviour of the individual in question.
When the man had shut the green gate after him, he walked,
as we have said twice already, with a brisk pace up the courtyard;
but he no sooner caught sight of Mr. Weller than he faltered, and
stopped, as if uncertain, for the moment, what course to adopt.
As the green gate was closed behind him, and there was no other
outlet but the one in front, however, he was not long in perceiving
that he must pass Mr. Samuel Weller to get away. He therefore
resumed his brisk pace, and advanced, staring straight before
him. The most extraordinary thing about the man was, that he
was contorting his face into the most fearful and astonishing
grimaces that ever were beheld. Nature's handiwork never was
disguised with such extraordinary artificial carving, as the man
had overlaid his countenance with in one moment.
'Well!' said Mr. Weller to himself, as the man approached.
'This is wery odd. I could ha' swore it was him.'
Up came the man, and his face became more frightfully
distorted than ever, as he drew nearer.
'I could take my oath to that 'ere black hair and mulberry suit,'
said Mr. Weller; 'only I never see such a face as that afore.'
As Mr. Weller said this, the man's features assumed an
unearthly twinge, perfectly hideous. He was obliged to pass very
near Sam, however, and the scrutinising glance of that gentleman
enabled him to detect, under all these appalling twists of feature,
something too like the small eyes of Mr. Job Trotter to be
easily mistaken.
'Hollo, you Sir!' shouted Sam fiercely.
The stranger stopped.
'Hollo!' repeated Sam, still more gruffly.
The man with the horrible face looked, with the greatest
surprise, up the court, and down the court, and in at the windows
of the houses--everywhere but at Sam Weller--and took another
step forward, when he was brought to again by another shout.
'Hollo, you sir!' said Sam, for the third time.
There was no pretending to mistake where the voice came
from now, so the stranger, having no other resource, at last
looked Sam Weller full in the face.
'It won't do, Job Trotter,' said Sam. 'Come! None o' that 'ere
nonsense. You ain't so wery 'andsome that you can afford to
throw avay many o' your good looks. Bring them 'ere eyes o'
yourn back into their proper places, or I'll knock 'em out of
your head. D'ye hear?'
As Mr. Weller appeared fully disposed to act up to the spirit of
this address, Mr. Trotter gradually allowed his face to resume its
natural expression; and then giving a start of joy, exclaimed,
'What do I see? Mr. Walker!'
'Ah,' replied Sam. 'You're wery glad to see me, ain't you?'
'Glad!' exclaimed Job Trotter; 'oh, Mr. Walker, if you had but
known how I have looked forward to this meeting! It is too
much, Mr. Walker; I cannot bear it, indeed I cannot.' And with
these words, Mr. Trotter burst into a regular inundation of tears,
and, flinging his arms around those of Mr. Weller, embraced him
closely, in an ecstasy of joy.
'Get off!' cried Sam, indignant at this process, and vainly
endeavouring to extricate himself from the grasp of his
enthusiastic acquaintance. 'Get off, I tell you. What are you crying
over me for, you portable engine?'
'Because I am so glad to see you,' replied Job Trotter, gradually
releasing Mr. Weller, as the first symptoms of his pugnacity
disappeared. 'Oh, Mr. Walker, this is too much.'
'Too much!' echoed Sam, 'I think it is too much--rayther!
Now, what have you got to say to me, eh?'
Mr. Trotter made no reply; for the little pink pocket-handkerchief
was in full force.
'What have you got to say to me, afore I knock your head off?'
repeated Mr. Weller, in a threatening manner.
'Eh!' said Mr. Trotter, with a look of virtuous surprise.
'What have you got to say to me?'
'I, Mr. Walker!'
'Don't call me Valker; my name's Veller; you know that vell
enough. What have you got to say to me?'
'Bless you, Mr. Walker--Weller, I mean--a great many things,
if you will come away somewhere, where we can talk comfortably.
If you knew how I have looked for you, Mr. Weller--'
'Wery hard, indeed, I s'pose?' said Sam drily.
'Very, very, Sir,' replied Mr. Trotter, without moving a muscle
of his face. 'But shake hands, Mr. Weller.'
Sam eyed his companion for a few seconds, and then, as if
actuated by a sudden impulse, complied with his request.
'How,' said Job Trotter, as they walked away, 'how is your
dear, good master? Oh, he is a worthy gentleman, Mr. Weller!
I hope he didn't catch cold, that dreadful night, Sir.'
There was a momentary look of deep slyness in Job Trotter's
eye, as he said this, which ran a thrill through Mr. Weller's
clenched fist, as he burned with a desire to make a demonstration
on his ribs. Sam constrained himself, however, and replied that
his master was extremely well.
'Oh, I am so glad,' replied Mr. Trotter; 'is he here?'
'Is yourn?' asked Sam, by way of reply.
'Oh, yes, he is here, and I grieve to say, Mr. Weller, he is going
on worse than ever.'
'Ah, ah!' said Sam.
'Oh, shocking--terrible!'
'At a boarding-school?' said Sam.
'No, not at a boarding-school,' replied Job Trotter, with the
same sly look which Sam had noticed before; 'not at a
'At the house with the green gate?' said Sam, eyeing his
companion closely.
'No, no--oh, not there,' replied Job, with a quickness very
unusual to him, 'not there.'
'What was you a-doin' there?' asked Sam, with a sharp glance.
'Got inside the gate by accident, perhaps?'
'Why, Mr. Weller,' replied Job, 'I don't mind telling you my
little secrets, because, you know, we took such a fancy for each
other when we first met. You recollect how pleasant we were
that morning?'
'Oh, yes,' said Sam, impatiently. 'I remember. Well?'
'Well,' replied Job, speaking with great precision, and in the
low tone of a man who communicates an important secret; 'in
that house with the green gate, Mr. Weller, they keep a good
many servants.'
'So I should think, from the look on it,' interposed Sam.
'Yes,' continued Mr. Trotter, 'and one of them is a cook, who
has saved up a little money, Mr. Weller, and is desirous, if she
can establish herself in life, to open a little shop in the chandlery
way, you see.'
'Yes, Mr. Weller. Well, Sir, I met her at a chapel that I go to; a
very neat little chapel in this town, Mr. Weller, where they sing
the number four collection of hymns, which I generally carry
about with me, in a little book, which you may perhaps have seen
in my hand--and I got a little intimate with her, Mr. Weller, and
from that, an acquaintance sprung up between us, and I may
venture to say, Mr. Weller, that I am to be the chandler.'
'Ah, and a wery amiable chandler you'll make,' replied Sam,
eyeing Job with a side look of intense dislike.
'The great advantage of this, Mr. Weller,' continued Job, his
eyes filling with tears as he spoke, 'will be, that I shall be able to
leave my present disgraceful service with that bad man, and to
devote myself to a better and more virtuous life; more like the
way in which I was brought up, Mr. Weller.'
'You must ha' been wery nicely brought up,' said Sam.
'Oh, very, Mr. Weller, very,' replied Job. At the recollection
of the purity of his youthful days, Mr. Trotter pulled forth the
pink handkerchief, and wept copiously.
'You must ha' been an uncommon nice boy, to go to school
vith,' said Sam.
'I was, sir,' replied Job, heaving a deep sigh; 'I was the idol of
the place.'
'Ah,' said Sam, 'I don't wonder at it. What a comfort you
must ha' been to your blessed mother.'
At these words, Mr. Job Trotter inserted an end of the pink
handkerchief into the corner of each eye, one after the other, and
began to weep copiously.
'Wot's the matter with the man,' said Sam, indignantly.
'Chelsea water-works is nothin' to you. What are you melting
vith now? The consciousness o' willainy?'
'I cannot keep my feelings down, Mr. Weller,' said Job, after a
short pause. 'To think that my master should have suspected the
conversation I had with yours, and so dragged me away in a
post-chaise, and after persuading the sweet young lady to say she
knew nothing of him, and bribing the school-mistress to do the
same, deserted her for a better speculation! Oh! Mr. Weller, it
makes me shudder.'
'Oh, that was the vay, was it?' said Mr. Weller.
'To be sure it was,' replied Job.
'Vell,' said Sam, as they had now arrived near the hotel, 'I vant
to have a little bit o' talk with you, Job; so if you're not partickler
engaged, I should like to see you at the Great White Horse tonight,
somewheres about eight o'clock.'
'I shall be sure to come,' said Job.
'Yes, you'd better,' replied Sam, with a very meaning look, 'or
else I shall perhaps be askin' arter you, at the other side of the
green gate, and then I might cut you out, you know.'
'I shall be sure to be with you, sir,' said Mr. Trotter;
and wringing Sam's hand with the utmost fervour, he walked away.
'Take care, Job Trotter, take care,' said Sam, looking after
him, 'or I shall be one too many for you this time. I shall,
indeed.' Having uttered this soliloquy, and looked after Job till
he was to be seen no more, Mr. Weller made the best of his way
to his master's bedroom.
'It's all in training, Sir,' said Sam.
'What's in training, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'I've found 'em out, Sir,' said Sam.
'Found out who?'
'That 'ere queer customer, and the melan-cholly chap with the
black hair.'
'Impossible, Sam!' said Mr. Pickwick, with the greatest energy.
'Where are they, Sam: where are they?'
'Hush, hush!' replied Mr. Weller; and as he assisted Mr.
Pickwick to dress, he detailed the plan of action on which he
proposed to enter.
'But when is this to be done, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'All in good time, Sir,' replied Sam.
Whether it was done in good time, or not, will be seen hereafter.
When Mr. Pickwick descended to the room in which he and Mr. Peter
Magnus had spent the preceding evening, he found that gentleman with
the major part of the contents of the two bags, the leathern hat-box,
and the brown-paper parcel, displaying to all possible advantage
on his person, while he himself was pacing up and down the room in
a state of the utmost excitement and agitation.
'Good-morning, Sir,' said Mr. Peter Magnus. 'What do you
think of this, Sir?'
'Very effective indeed,' replied Mr. Pickwick, surveying the
garments of Mr. Peter Magnus with a good-natured smile.
'Yes, I think it'll do,' said Mr. Magnus. 'Mr. Pickwick, Sir, I
have sent up my card.'
'Have you?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'And the waiter brought back word, that she would see me at
eleven--at eleven, Sir; it only wants a quarter now.'
'Very near the time,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes, it is rather near,' replied Mr. Magnus, 'rather too near to
be pleasant--eh! Mr. Pickwick, sir?'
'Confidence is a great thing in these cases,' observed Mr. Pickwick.
'I believe it is, Sir,' said Mr. Peter Magnus. 'I am very confident,
Sir. Really, Mr. Pickwick, I do not see why a man should
feel any fear in such a case as this, sir. What is it, Sir? There's
nothing to be ashamed of; it's a matter of mutual accommodation,
nothing more. Husband on one side, wife on the other. That's
my view of the matter, Mr. Pickwick.'
'It is a very philosophical one,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'But
breakfast is waiting, Mr. Magnus. Come.'
Down they sat to breakfast, but it was evident, notwithstanding
the boasting of Mr. Peter Magnus, that he laboured
under a very considerable degree of nervousness, of which loss of
appetite, a propensity to upset the tea-things, a spectral attempt
at drollery, and an irresistible inclination to look at the clock,
every other second, were among the principal symptoms.
'He-he-he,'tittered Mr. Magnus, affecting cheerfulness, and
gasping with agitation. 'It only wants two minutes, Mr. Pickwick.
Am I pale, Sir?'
'Not very,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
There was a brief pause.
'I beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick; but have you ever done this
sort of thing in your time?' said Mr. Magnus.
'You mean proposing?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Never,' said Mr. Pickwick, with great energy, 'never.'
'You have no idea, then, how it's best to begin?' said Mr. Magnus.
'Why,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I may have formed some ideas
upon the subject, but, as I have never submitted them to the test
of experience, I should be sorry if you were induced to regulate
your proceedings by them.'
'I should feel very much obliged to you, for any advice, Sir,'
said Mr. Magnus, taking another look at the clock, the hand of
which was verging on the five minutes past.
'Well, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, with the profound solemnity
with which that great man could, when he pleased, render his
remarks so deeply impressive. 'I should commence, sir, with a
tribute to the lady's beauty and excellent qualities; from them,
Sir, I should diverge to my own unworthiness.'
'Very good,' said Mr. Magnus.
'Unworthiness for HER only, mind, sir,' resumed Mr. Pickwick;
'for to show that I was not wholly unworthy, sir, I should take a
brief review of my past life, and present condition. I should argue,
by analogy, that to anybody else, I must be a very desirable
object. I should then expatiate on the warmth of my love, and
the depth of my devotion. Perhaps I might then be tempted to
seize her hand.'
'Yes, I see,' said Mr. Magnus; 'that would be a very great point.'
'I should then, Sir,' continued Mr. Pickwick, growing warmer
as the subject presented itself in more glowing colours before
him--'I should then, Sir, come to the plain and simple question,
"Will you have me?" I think I am justified in assuming that
upon this, she would turn away her head.'
'You think that may be taken for granted?' said Mr. Magnus;
'because, if she did not do that at the right place, it would
be embarrassing.'
'I think she would,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Upon this, sir, I
should squeeze her hand, and I think--I think, Mr. Magnus--
that after I had done that, supposing there was no refusal, I
should gently draw away the handkerchief, which my slight
knowledge of human nature leads me to suppose the lady would
be applying to her eyes at the moment, and steal a respectful kiss.
I think I should kiss her, Mr. Magnus; and at this particular
point, I am decidedly of opinion that if the lady were going to
take me at all, she would murmur into my ears a bashful acceptance.'
Mr. Magnus started; gazed on Mr. Pickwick's intelligent face,
for a short time in silence; and then (the dial pointing to the ten
minutes past) shook him warmly by the hand, and rushed
desperately from the room.
Mr. Pickwick had taken a few strides to and fro; and the small
hand of the clock following the latter part of his example, had
arrived at the figure which indicates the half-hour, when the door
suddenly opened. He turned round to meet Mr. Peter Magnus,
and encountered, in his stead, the joyous face of Mr. Tupman,
the serene countenance of Mr. Winkle, and the intellectual
lineaments of Mr. Snodgrass. As Mr. Pickwick greeted them,
Mr. Peter Magnus tripped into the room.
'My friends, the gentleman I was speaking of--Mr. Magnus,'
said Mr. Pickwick.
'Your servant, gentlemen,' said Mr. Magnus, evidently in a
high state of excitement; 'Mr. Pickwick, allow me to speak to you
one moment, sir.'
As he said this, Mr. Magnus harnessed his forefinger to Mr.
Pickwick's buttonhole, and, drawing him to a window recess, said--
'Congratulate me, Mr. Pickwick; I followed your advice to the
very letter.'
'And it was all correct, was it?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'It was, Sir. Could not possibly have been better,' replied Mr.
Magnus. 'Mr. Pickwick, she is mine.'
'I congratulate you, with all my heart,' replied Mr. Pickwick,
warmly shaking his new friend by the hand.
'You must see her. Sir,' said Mr. Magnus; 'this way, if you
please. Excuse us for one instant, gentlemen.' Hurrying on in
this way, Mr. Peter Magnus drew Mr. Pickwick from the room.
He paused at the next door in the passage, and tapped gently thereat.
'Come in,' said a female voice. And in they went.
'Miss Witherfield,' said Mr. Magnus, 'allow me to introduce
my very particular friend, Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Pickwick, I beg to
make you known to Miss Witherfield.'
The lady was at the upper end of the room. As Mr. Pickwick
bowed, he took his spectacles from his waistcoat pocket, and put
them on; a process which he had no sooner gone through, than,
uttering an exclamation of surprise, Mr. Pickwick retreated
several paces, and the lady, with a half-suppressed scream, hid
her face in her hands, and dropped into a chair; whereupon
Mr. Peter Magnus was stricken motionless on the spot, and gazed
from one to the other, with a countenance expressive of the
extremities of horror and surprise.
This certainly was, to all appearance, very unaccountable
behaviour; but the fact is, that Mr. Pickwick no sooner put on
his spectacles, than he at once recognised in the future Mrs.
Magnus the lady into whose room he had so unwarrantably
intruded on the previous night; and the spectacles had no sooner
crossed Mr. Pickwick's nose, than the lady at once identified the
countenance which she had seen surrounded by all the horrors of
a nightcap. So the lady screamed, and Mr. Pickwick started.
'Mr. Pickwick!' exclaimed Mr. Magnus, lost in astonishment,
'what is the meaning of this, Sir? What is the meaning of it, Sir?'
added Mr. Magnus, in a threatening, and a louder tone.
'Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, somewhat indignant at the very sudden
manner in which Mr. Peter Magnus had conjugated himself into
the imperative mood, 'I decline answering that question.'
'You decline it, Sir?' said Mr. Magnus.
'I do, Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick; 'I object to say anything
which may compromise that lady, or awaken unpleasant recollections
in her breast, without her consent and permission.'
'Miss Witherfield,' said Mr. Peter Magnus, 'do you know this person?'
'Know him!' repeated the middle-aged lady, hesitating.
'Yes, know him, ma'am; I said know him,' replied Mr.
Magnus, with ferocity.
'I have seen him,' replied the middle-aged lady.
'Where?' inquired Mr. Magnus, 'where?'
'That,' said the middle-aged lady, rising from her seat, and
averting her head--'that I would not reveal for worlds.'
'I understand you, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and respect
your delicacy; it shall never be revealed by ME depend upon it.'
'Upon my word, ma'am,' said Mr. Magnus, 'considering the
situation in which I am placed with regard to yourself, you carry
this matter off with tolerable coolness--tolerable coolness, ma'am.'
'Cruel Mr. Magnus!' said the middle-aged lady; here she wept
very copiously indeed.
'Address your observations to me, sir,' interposed Mr. Pickwick;
'I alone am to blame, if anybody be.'
'Oh! you alone are to blame, are you, sir?' said Mr. Magnus;
'I--I--see through this, sir. You repent of your determination
now, do you?'
'My determination!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Your determination, Sir. Oh! don't stare at me, Sir,' said
Mr. Magnus; 'I recollect your words last night, Sir. You came
down here, sir, to expose the treachery and falsehood of an
individual on whose truth and honour you had placed implicit
reliance--eh?' Here Mr. Peter Magnus indulged in a prolonged
sneer; and taking off his green spectacles--which he probably
found superfluous in his fit of jealousy--rolled his little eyes
about, in a manner frightful to behold.
'Eh?' said Mr. Magnus; and then he repeated the sneer with
increased effect. 'But you shall answer it, Sir.'
'Answer what?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Never mind, sir,' replied Mr. Magnus, striding up and down
the room. 'Never mind.'
There must be something very comprehensive in this phrase of
'Never mind,' for we do not recollect to have ever witnessed a
quarrel in the street, at a theatre, public room, or elsewhere, in
which it has not been the standard reply to all belligerent inquiries.
'Do you call yourself a gentleman, sir?'--'Never mind, sir.' 'Did
I offer to say anything to the young woman, sir?'--'Never mind,
sir.' 'Do you want your head knocked up against that wall, sir?'
--'Never mind, sir.' It is observable, too, that there would appear
to be some hidden taunt in this universal 'Never mind,' which
rouses more indignation in the bosom of the individual addressed,
than the most lavish abuse could possibly awaken.
We do not mean to assert that the application of this brevity
to himself, struck exactly that indignation to Mr. Pickwick's
soul, which it would infallibly have roused in a vulgar breast.
We merely record the fact that Mr. Pickwick opened the room
door, and abruptly called out, 'Tupman, come here!'
Mr. Tupman immediately presented himself, with a look of
very considerable surprise.
'Tupman,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'a secret of some delicacy, in
which that lady is concerned, is the cause of a difference which
has just arisen between this gentleman and myself. When I assure
him, in your presence, that it has no relation to himself, and is
not in any way connected with his affairs, I need hardly beg you
to take notice that if he continue to dispute it, he expresses a
doubt of my veracity, which I shall consider extremely insulting.'
As Mr. Pickwick said this, he looked encyclopedias at Mr. Peter
Mr. Pickwick's upright and honourable bearing, coupled with
that force and energy of speech which so eminently distinguished
him, would have carried conviction to any reasonable mind; but,
unfortunately, at that particular moment, the mind of Mr. Peter
Magnus was in anything but reasonable order. Consequently,
instead of receiving Mr. Pickwick's explanation as he ought to
have done, he forthwith proceeded to work himself into a redhot,
scorching, consuming passion, and to talk about what was
due to his own feelings, and all that sort of thing; adding force to
his declamation by striding to and fro, and pulling his hair--
amusements which he would vary occasionally, by shaking his
fist in Mr. Pickwick's philanthropic countenance.
Mr. Pickwick, in his turn, conscious of his own innocence and
rectitude, and irritated by having unfortunately involved the
middle-aged lady in such an unpleasant affair, was not so quietly
disposed as was his wont. The consequence was, that words ran
high, and voices higher; and at length Mr. Magnus told Mr.
Pickwick he should hear from him; to which Mr. Pickwick
replied, with laudable politeness, that the sooner he heard from
him the better; whereupon the middle-aged lady rushed in
terror from the room, out of which Mr. Tupman dragged Mr.
Pickwick, leaving Mr. Peter Magnus to himself and meditation.
If the middle-aged lady had mingled much with the busy world,
or had profited at all by the manners and customs of those who
make the laws and set the fashions, she would have known that
this sort of ferocity is the most harmless thing in nature; but as
she had lived for the most part in the country, and never read the
parliamentary debates, she was little versed in these particular
refinements of civilised life. Accordingly, when she had gained
her bedchamber, bolted herself in, and began to meditate on the
scene she had just witnessed, the most terrific pictures of slaughter
and destruction presented themselves to her imagination; among
which, a full-length portrait of Mr. Peter Magnus borne home
by four men, with the embellishment of a whole barrelful of
bullets in his left side, was among the very least. The more the
middle-aged lady meditated, the more terrified she became; and
at length she determined to repair to the house of the principal
magistrate of the town, and request him to secure the persons of
Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman without delay.
To this decision the middle-aged lady was impelled by a variety
of considerations, the chief of which was the incontestable proof
it would afford of her devotion to Mr. Peter Magnus, and her
anxiety for his safety. She was too well acquainted with his
jealous temperament to venture the slightest allusion to the real
cause of her agitation on beholding Mr. Pickwick; and she
trusted to her own influence and power of persuasion with the
little man, to quell his boisterous jealousy, supposing that Mr.
Pickwick were removed, and no fresh quarrel could arise. Filled
with these reflections, the middle-aged lady arrayed herself in her
bonnet and shawl, and repaired to the mayor's dwelling straightway.
Now George Nupkins, Esquire, the principal magistrate
aforesaid, was as grand a personage as the fastest walker would
find out, between sunrise and sunset, on the twenty-first of June,
which being, according to the almanacs, the longest day in the
whole year, would naturally afford him the longest period for his
search. On this particular morning, Mr. Nupkins was in a state
of the utmost excitement and irritation, for there had been a
rebellion in the town; all the day-scholars at the largest dayschool
had conspired to break the windows of an obnoxious
apple-seller, and had hooted the beadle and pelted the
constabulary--an elderly gentleman in top-boots, who had been
called out to repress the tumult, and who had been a peaceofficer,
man and boy, for half a century at least. And Mr. Nupkins
was sitting in his easy-chair, frowning with majesty, and boiling
with rage, when a lady was announced on pressing, private, and
particular business. Mr. Nupkins looked calmly terrible, and
commanded that the lady should be shown in; which command,
like all the mandates of emperors, and magistrates, and other
great potentates of the earth, was forthwith obeyed; and Miss
Witherfield, interestingly agitated, was ushered in accordingly.
'Muzzle!' said the magistrate.
Muzzle was an undersized footman, with a long body and
short legs.
'Yes, your Worship.'
'Place a chair, and leave the room.'
'Yes, your Worship.'
'Now, ma'am, will you state your business?' said the magistrate.
'It is of a very painful kind, Sir,' said Miss Witherfield.
'Very likely, ma'am,' said the magistrate. 'Compose your
feelings, ma'am.' Here Mr. Nupkins looked benignant. 'And
then tell me what legal business brings you here, ma'am.' Here
the magistrate triumphed over the man; and he looked stern again.
'It is very distressing to me, Sir, to give this information,' said
Miss Witherfield, 'but I fear a duel is going to be fought here.'
'Here, ma'am?' said the magistrate. 'Where, ma'am?'
'In Ipswich.'
'In Ipswich, ma'am! A duel in Ipswich!' said the magistrate,
perfectly aghast at the notion. 'Impossible, ma'am; nothing of the
kind can be contemplated in this town, I am persuaded. Bless
my soul, ma'am, are you aware of the activity of our local
magistracy? Do you happen to have heard, ma'am, that I
rushed into a prize-ring on the fourth of May last, attended by
only sixty special constables; and, at the hazard of falling a
sacrifice to the angry passions of an infuriated multitude,
prohibited a pugilistic contest between the Middlesex Dumpling and
the Suffolk Bantam? A duel in Ipswich, ma'am? I don't think--
I do not think,' said the magistrate, reasoning with himself, 'that
any two men can have had the hardihood to plan such a breach
of the peace, in this town.'
'My information is, unfortunately, but too correct,' said the
middle-aged lady; 'I was present at the quarrel.'
'It's a most extraordinary thing,' said the astounded magistrate.
'Yes, your Worship.'
'Send Mr. Jinks here, directly! Instantly.'
'Yes, your Worship.'
Muzzle retired; and a pale, sharp-nosed, half-fed, shabbilyclad
clerk, of middle age, entered the room.
'Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate. 'Mr. Jinks.'
'Sir,' said Mr. Jinks.
'This lady, Mr. Jinks, has come here, to give information of an
intended duel in this town.'
Mr. Jinks, not knowing exactly what to do, smiled a
dependent's smile.
'What are you laughing at, Mr. Jinks?' said the magistrate.
Mr. Jinks looked serious instantly.
'Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate, 'you're a fool.'
Mr. Jinks looked humbly at the great man, and bit the top of
his pen.
'You may see something very comical in this information, Sir--
but I can tell you this, Mr. Jinks, that you have very little to
laugh at,' said the magistrate.
The hungry-looking Jinks sighed, as if he were quite aware of
the fact of his having very little indeed to be merry about; and,
being ordered to take the lady's information, shambled to a seat,
and proceeded to write it down.
'This man, Pickwick, is the principal, I understand?' said the
magistrate, when the statement was finished.
'He is,' said the middle-aged lady.
'And the other rioter--what's his name, Mr. Jinks?'
'Tupman, Sir.'
'Tupman is the second?'
'The other principal, you say, has absconded, ma'am?'
'Yes,' replied Miss Witherfield, with a short cough.
'Very well,' said the magistrate. 'These are two cut-throats from
London, who have come down here to destroy his Majesty's
population, thinking that at this distance from the capital, the
arm of the law is weak and paralysed. They shall be made an
example of. Draw up the warrants, Mr. Jinks. Muzzle!'
'Yes, your Worship.'
'Is Grummer downstairs?'
'Yes, your Worship.'
'Send him up.'
The obsequious Muzzle retired, and presently returned,
introducing the elderly gentleman in the top-boots, who was
chiefly remarkable for a bottle-nose, a hoarse voice, a snuffcoloured
surtout, and a wandering eye.
'Grummer,' said the magistrate.
'Your Wash-up.'
'Is the town quiet now?'
'Pretty well, your Wash-up,' replied Grummer. 'Pop'lar feeling
has in a measure subsided, consekens o' the boys having
dispersed to cricket.'
'Nothing but vigorous measures will do in these times,
Grummer,' said the magistrate, in a determined manner. 'if the
authority of the king's officers is set at naught, we must have the
riot act read. If the civil power cannot protect these windows,
Grummer, the military must protect the civil power, and the
windows too. I believe that is a maxim of the constitution,
Mr. Jinks?'
'Certainly, sir,' said Jinks.
'Very good,' said the magistrate, signing the warrants.
'Grummer, you will bring these persons before me, this afternoon.
You will find them at the Great White Horse. You recollect the
case of the Middlesex Dumpling and the Suffolk Bantam, Grummer?'
Mr. Grummer intimated, by a retrospective shake of the head,
that he should never forget it--as indeed it was not likely he
would, so long as it continued to be cited daily.
'This is even more unconstitutional,' said the magistrate; 'this
is even a greater breach of the peace, and a grosser infringement
of his Majesty's prerogative. I believe duelling is one of his
Majesty's most undoubted prerogatives, Mr. Jinks?'
'Expressly stipulated in Magna Charta, sir,' said Mr. Jinks.
'One of the brightest jewels in the British crown, wrung from
his Majesty by the barons, I believe, Mr. Jinks?' said the
'Just so, Sir,' replied Mr. Jinks.
'Very well,' said the magistrate, drawing himself up proudly,
'it shall not be violated in this portion of his dominions. Grummer,
procure assistance, and execute these warrants with as little
delay as possible. Muzzle!'
'Yes, your Worship.'
'Show the lady out.'
Miss Witherfield retired, deeply impressed with the magistrate's
learning and research; Mr. Nupkins retired to lunch;
Mr. Jinks retired within himself--that being the only retirement
he had, except the sofa-bedstead in the small parlour which was
occupied by his landlady's family in the daytime--and Mr.
Grummer retired, to wipe out, by his mode of discharging his
present commission, the insult which had been fastened upon
himself, and the other representative of his Majesty--the beadle
--in the course of the morning.
While these resolute and determined preparations for the
conservation of the king's peace were pending, Mr. Pickwick and
his friends, wholly unconscious of the mighty events in progress,
had sat quietly down to dinner; and very talkative and
companionable they all were. Mr. Pickwick was in the very act of
relating his adventure of the preceding night, to the great amusement
of his followers, Mr. Tupman especially, when the door
opened, and a somewhat forbidding countenance peeped into the
room. The eyes in the forbidding countenance looked very
earnestly at Mr. Pickwick, for several seconds, and were to all
appearance satisfied with their investigation; for the body to
which the forbidding countenance belonged, slowly brought
itself into the apartment, and presented the form of an elderly
individual in top-boots--not to keep the reader any longer
in suspense, in short, the eyes were the wandering eyes of
Mr. Grummer, and the body was the body of the same gentleman.
Mr. Grummer's mode of proceeding was professional, but
peculiar. His first act was to bolt the door on the inside; his
second, to polish his head and countenance very carefully with a
cotton handkerchief; his third, to place his hat, with the cotton
handkerchief in it, on the nearest chair; and his fourth, to
produce from the breast-pocket of his coat a short truncheon,
surmounted by a brazen crown, with which he beckoned to
Mr. Pickwick with a grave and ghost-like air.
Mr. Snodgrass was the first to break the astonished silence.
He looked steadily at Mr. Grummer for a brief space, and then
said emphatically, 'This is a private room, Sir. A private room.'
Mr. Grummer shook his head, and replied, 'No room's private
to his Majesty when the street door's once passed. That's law.
Some people maintains that an Englishman's house is his castle.
That's gammon.'
The Pickwickians gazed on each other with wondering eyes.
'Which is Mr. Tupman?' inquired Mr. Grummer. He had an
intuitive perception of Mr. Pickwick; he knew him at once.
'My name's Tupman,' said that gentleman.
'My name's Law,' said Mr. Grummer.
'What?' said Mr. Tupman.
'Law,' replied Mr. Grummer--'Law, civil power, and exekative;
them's my titles; here's my authority. Blank Tupman, blank
Pickwick--against the peace of our sufferin' lord the king--
stattit in the case made and purwided--and all regular. I apprehend
you Pickwick! Tupman--the aforesaid.'
'What do you mean by this insolence?' said Mr. Tupman,
starting up; 'leave the room!'
'Hollo,' said Mr. Grummer, retreating very expeditiously to
the door, and opening it an inch or two, 'Dubbley.'
'Well,' said a deep voice from the passage.
'Come for'ard, Dubbley.'
At the word of command, a dirty-faced man, something over
six feet high, and stout in proportion, squeezed himself through

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