The Pickwick Papers
Part 11 out of 20
'I really think you had better,' said Allen.
'Thank you,' replied Mr. Winkle; 'I'd rather not.'
'What do YOU think, Mr. Pickwick?' inquired Bob Sawyer.
Mr. Pickwick was excited and indignant. He beckoned to
Mr. Weller, and said in a stern voice, 'Take his skates off.'
'No; but really I had scarcely begun,' remonstrated Mr. Winkle.
'Take his skates off,' repeated Mr. Pickwick firmly.
The command was not to be resisted. Mr. Winkle allowed
Sam to obey it, in silence.
'Lift him up,' said Mr. Pickwick. Sam assisted him to rise.
Mr. Pickwick retired a few paces apart from the bystanders;
and, beckoning his friend to approach, fixed a searching look
upon him, and uttered in a low, but distinct and emphatic tone,
these remarkable words--
'You're a humbug, sir.'
'A what?' said Mr. Winkle, starting.
'A humbug, Sir. I will speak plainer, if you wish it. An
With those words, Mr. Pickwick turned slowly on his heel, and
rejoined his friends.
While Mr. Pickwick was delivering himself of the sentiment
just recorded, Mr. Weller and the fat boy, having by their joint
endeavours cut out a slide, were exercising themselves thereupon,
in a very masterly and brilliant manner. Sam Weller, in particular,
was displaying that beautiful feat of fancy-sliding which is
currently denominated 'knocking at the cobbler's door,' and
which is achieved by skimming over the ice on one foot, and
occasionally giving a postman's knock upon it with the other. It
was a good long slide, and there was something in the motion
which Mr. Pickwick, who was very cold with standing still,
could not help envying.
'It looks a nice warm exercise that, doesn't it?' he inquired of
Wardle, when that gentleman was thoroughly out of breath, by
reason of the indefatigable manner in which he had converted his
legs into a pair of compasses, and drawn complicated problems
on the ice.
'Ah, it does, indeed,' replied Wardle. 'Do you slide?'
'I used to do so, on the gutters, when I was a boy,' replied
'Try it now,' said Wardle.
'Oh, do, please, Mr. Pickwick!' cried all the ladies.
'I should be very happy to afford you any amusement,' replied
Mr. Pickwick, 'but I haven't done such a thing these thirty years.'
'Pooh! pooh! Nonsense!' said Wardle, dragging off his skates
with the impetuosity which characterised all his proceedings.
'Here; I'll keep you company; come along!' And away went the
good-tempered old fellow down the slide, with a rapidity which
came very close upon Mr. Weller, and beat the fat boy all to nothing.
Mr. Pickwick paused, considered, pulled off his gloves and put
them in his hat; took two or three short runs, baulked himself as
often, and at last took another run, and went slowly and gravely
down the slide, with his feet about a yard and a quarter apart,
amidst the gratified shouts of all the spectators.
'Keep the pot a-bilin', Sir!' said Sam; and down went Wardle
again, and then Mr. Pickwick, and then Sam, and then Mr.
Winkle, and then Mr. Bob Sawyer, and then the fat boy, and
then Mr. Snodgrass, following closely upon each other's heels,
and running after each other with as much eagerness as if their
future prospects in life depended on their expedition.
It was the most intensely interesting thing, to observe the
manner in which Mr. Pickwick performed his share in the
ceremony; to watch the torture of anxiety with which he viewed
the person behind, gaining upon him at the imminent hazard of
tripping him up; to see him gradually expend the painful force
he had put on at first, and turn slowly round on the slide, with his
face towards the point from which he had started; to contemplate
the playful smile which mantled on his face when he had accomplished
the distance, and the eagerness with which he turned
round when he had done so, and ran after his predecessor, his
black gaiters tripping pleasantly through the snow, and his eyes
beaming cheerfulness and gladness through his spectacles. And
when he was knocked down (which happened upon the average
every third round), it was the most invigorating sight that can
possibly be imagined, to behold him gather up his hat, gloves,
and handkerchief, with a glowing countenance, and resume his
station in the rank, with an ardour and enthusiasm that nothing
The sport was at its height, the sliding was at the quickest, the
laughter was at the loudest, when a sharp smart crack was heard.
There was a quick rush towards the bank, a wild scream from the
ladies, and a shout from Mr. Tupman. A large mass of ice
disappeared; the water bubbled up over it; Mr. Pickwick's hat,
gloves, and handkerchief were floating on the surface; and this
was all of Mr. Pickwick that anybody could see.
Dismay and anguish were depicted on every countenance; the
males turned pale, and the females fainted; Mr. Snodgrass and
Mr. Winkle grasped each other by the hand, and gazed at the
spot where their leader had gone down, with frenzied eagerness;
while Mr. Tupman, by way of rendering the promptest assistance,
and at the same time conveying to any persons who might be
within hearing, the clearest possible notion of the catastrophe,
ran off across the country at his utmost speed, screaming 'Fire!'
with all his might.
It was at this moment, when old Wardle and Sam Weller were
approaching the hole with cautious steps, and Mr. Benjamin
Allen was holding a hurried consultation with Mr. Bob Sawyer
on the advisability of bleeding the company generally, as an
improving little bit of professional practice--it was at this very
moment, that a face, head, and shoulders, emerged from beneath the
water, and disclosed the features and spectacles of Mr. Pickwick.
'Keep yourself up for an instant--for only one instant!'
bawled Mr. Snodgrass.
'Yes, do; let me implore you--for my sake!' roared Mr.
Winkle, deeply affected. The adjuration was rather unnecessary;
the probability being, that if Mr. Pickwick had declined to keep
himself up for anybody else's sake, it would have occurred to him
that he might as well do so, for his own.
'Do you feel the bottom there, old fellow?' said Wardle.
'Yes, certainly,' replied Mr. Pickwick, wringing the water from
his head and face, and gasping for breath. 'I fell upon my back.
I couldn't get on my feet at first.'
The clay upon so much of Mr. Pickwick's coat as was yet
visible, bore testimony to the accuracy of this statement; and as
the fears of the spectators were still further relieved by the fat
boy's suddenly recollecting that the water was nowhere more than
five feet deep, prodigies of valour were performed to get him out.
After a vast quantity of splashing, and cracking, and struggling,
Mr. Pickwick was at length fairly extricated from his unpleasant
position, and once more stood on dry land.
'Oh, he'll catch his death of cold,' said Emily.
'Dear old thing!' said Arabella. 'Let me wrap this shawl round
you, Mr. Pickwick.'
'Ah, that's the best thing you can do,' said Wardle; 'and when
you've got it on, run home as fast as your legs can carry you, and
jump into bed directly.'
A dozen shawls were offered on the instant. Three or four of
the thickest having been selected, Mr. Pickwick was wrapped up,
and started off, under the guidance of Mr. Weller; presenting the
singular phenomenon of an elderly gentleman, dripping wet, and
without a hat, with his arms bound down to his sides, skimming
over the ground, without any clearly-defined purpose, at the rate
of six good English miles an hour.
But Mr. Pickwick cared not for appearances in such an
extreme case, and urged on by Sam Weller, he kept at the very
top of his speed until he reached the door of Manor Farm, where
Mr. Tupman had arrived some five minutes before, and had
frightened the old lady into palpitations of the heart by
impressing her with the unalterable conviction that the kitchen
chimney was on fire--a calamity which always presented itself in
glowing colours to the old lady's mind, when anybody about her
evinced the smallest agitation.
Mr. Pickwick paused not an instant until he was snug in bed.
Sam Weller lighted a blazing fire in the room, and took up his
dinner; a bowl of punch was carried up afterwards, and a grand
carouse held in honour of his safety. Old Wardle would not hear
of his rising, so they made the bed the chair, and Mr. Pickwick
presided. A second and a third bowl were ordered in; and when
Mr. Pickwick awoke next morning, there was not a symptom of
rheumatism about him; which proves, as Mr. Bob Sawyer very
justly observed, that there is nothing like hot punch in such cases;
and that if ever hot punch did fail to act as a preventive, it was
merely because the patient fell into the vulgar error of not taking
enough of it.
The jovial party broke up next morning. Breakings-up are
capital things in our school-days, but in after life they are painful
enough. Death, self-interest, and fortune's changes, are every day
breaking up many a happy group, and scattering them far and
wide; and the boys and girls never come back again. We do not
mean to say that it was exactly the case in this particular instance;
all we wish to inform the reader is, that the different members of
the party dispersed to their several homes; that Mr. Pickwick and
his friends once more took their seats on the top of the Muggleton
coach; and that Arabella Allen repaired to her place of destination,
wherever it might have been--we dare say Mr. Winkle
knew, but we confess we don't--under the care and guardianship
of her brother Benjamin, and his most intimate and particular
friend, Mr. Bob Sawyer.
Before they separated, however, that gentleman and Mr.
Benjamin Allen drew Mr. Pickwick aside with an air of some
mystery; and Mr. Bob Sawyer, thrusting his forefinger between
two of Mr. Pickwick's ribs, and thereby displaying his native
drollery, and his knowledge of the anatomy of the human frame,
at one and the same time, inquired--
'I say, old boy, where do you hang out?'
Mr. Pickwick replied that he was at present suspended at the
George and Vulture.
'I wish you'd come and see me,' said Bob Sawyer.
'Nothing would give me greater pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'There's my lodgings,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer, producing a card.
'Lant Street, Borough; it's near Guy's, and handy for me, you
know. Little distance after you've passed St. George's Church--
turns out of the High Street on the right hand side the way.'
'I shall find it,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Come on Thursday fortnight, and bring the other chaps with
you,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer; 'I'm going to have a few medical
fellows that night.'
Mr. Pickwick expressed the pleasure it would afford him to
meet the medical fellows; and after Mr. Bob Sawyer had
informed him that he meant to be very cosy, and that his friend
Ben was to be one of the party, they shook hands and separated.
We feel that in this place we lay ourself open to the inquiry
whether Mr. Winkle was whispering, during this brief conversation,
to Arabella Allen; and if so, what he said; and furthermore,
whether Mr. Snodgrass was conversing apart with Emily Wardle;
and if so, what HE said. To this, we reply, that whatever they
might have said to the ladies, they said nothing at all to Mr.
Pickwick or Mr. Tupman for eight-and-twenty miles, and that
they sighed very often, refused ale and brandy, and looked
gloomy. If our observant lady readers can deduce any satisfactory
inferences from these facts, we beg them by all means to do so.
WHICH IS ALL ABOUT THE LAW, AND SUNDRY GREAT
AUTHORITIES LEARNED THEREIN
Scattered about, in various holes and corners of the Temple,
are certain dark and dirty chambers, in and out of which,
all the morning in vacation, and half the evening too in
term time, there may be seen constantly hurrying with bundles of
papers under their arms, and protruding from their pockets, an
almost uninterrupted succession of lawyers' clerks. There are
several grades of lawyers' clerks. There is the articled clerk, who
has paid a premium, and is an attorney in perspective, who runs a
tailor's bill, receives invitations to parties, knows a family in
Gower Street, and another in Tavistock Square; who goes out
of town every long vacation to see his father, who keeps live
horses innumerable; and who is, in short, the very aristocrat of
clerks. There is the salaried clerk--out of door, or in door, as
the case may be--who devotes the major part of his thirty shillings
a week to his Personal pleasure and adornments, repairs half-price
to the Adelphi Theatre at least three times a week, dissipates
majestically at the cider cellars afterwards, and is a dirty caricature
of the fashion which expired six months ago. There is the middle-
aged copying clerk, with a large family, who is always shabby,
and often drunk. And there are the office lads in their first
surtouts, who feel a befitting contempt for boys at day-schools,
club as they go home at night, for saveloys and porter, and think
there's nothing like 'life.' There are varieties of the genus, too
numerous to recapitulate, but however numerous they may be,
they are all to be seen, at certain regulated business hours,
hurrying to and from the places we have just mentioned.
These sequestered nooks are the public offices of the legal
profession, where writs are issued, judgments signed, declarations
filed, and numerous other ingenious machines put in motion for
the torture and torment of His Majesty's liege subjects, and the
comfort and emolument of the practitioners of the law. They are,
for the most part, low-roofed, mouldy rooms, where innumerable
rolls of parchment, which have been perspiring in secret for the
last century, send forth an agreeable odour, which is mingled by
day with the scent of the dry-rot, and by night with the various
exhalations which arise from damp cloaks, festering umbrellas,
and the coarsest tallow candles.
About half-past seven o'clock in the evening, some ten days or
a fortnight after Mr. Pickwick and his friends returned to London,
there hurried into one of these offices, an individual in a brown
coat and brass buttons, whose long hair was scrupulously
twisted round the rim of his napless hat, and whose soiled drab
trousers were so tightly strapped over his Blucher boots, that his
knees threatened every moment to start from their concealment.
He produced from his coat pockets a long and narrow strip of
parchment, on which the presiding functionary impressed an
illegible black stamp. He then drew forth four scraps of paper, of
similar dimensions, each containing a printed copy of the strip
of parchment with blanks for a name; and having filled up the
blanks, put all the five documents in his pocket, and hurried away.
The man in the brown coat, with the cabalistic documents in
his pocket, was no other than our old acquaintance Mr. Jackson,
of the house of Dodson & Fogg, Freeman's Court, Cornhill.
Instead of returning to the office whence he came, however, he
bent his steps direct to Sun Court, and walking straight into the
George and Vulture, demanded to know whether one Mr. Pickwick
'Call Mr. Pickwick's servant, Tom,' said the barmaid of the
George and Vulture.
'Don't trouble yourself,' said Mr. Jackson. 'I've come on
business. If you'll show me Mr. Pickwick's room I'll step up myself.'
'What name, Sir?' said the waiter.
'Jackson,' replied the clerk.
The waiter stepped upstairs to announce Mr. Jackson; but
Mr. Jackson saved him the trouble by following close at his heels,
and walking into the apartment before he could articulate a syllable.
Mr. Pickwick had, that day, invited his three friends to dinner;
they were all seated round the fire, drinking their wine, when
Mr. Jackson presented himself, as above described.
'How de do, sir?' said Mr. Jackson, nodding to Mr. Pickwick.
That gentleman bowed, and looked somewhat surprised, for
the physiognomy of Mr. Jackson dwelt not in his recollection.
'I have called from Dodson and Fogg's,' said Mr. Jackson, in
an explanatory tone.
Mr. Pickwick roused at the name. 'I refer you to my attorney,
Sir; Mr. Perker, of Gray's Inn,' said he. 'Waiter, show this
'Beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick,' said Jackson, deliberately
depositing his hat on the floor, and drawing from his pocket the
strip of parchment. 'But personal service, by clerk or agent, in
these cases, you know, Mr. Pickwick--nothing like caution, sir,
in all legal forms--eh?'
Here Mr. Jackson cast his eye on the parchment; and, resting
his hands on the table, and looking round with a winning and
persuasive smile, said, 'Now, come; don't let's have no words
about such a little matter as this. Which of you gentlemen's
At this inquiry, Mr. Snodgrass gave such a very undisguised
and palpable start, that no further reply was needed.
'Ah! I thought so,' said Mr. Jackson, more affably than before.
'I've a little something to trouble you with, Sir.'
'Me!'exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass.
'It's only a subpoena in Bardell and Pickwick on behalf of the
plaintiff,' replied Jackson, singling out one of the slips of paper,
and producing a shilling from his waistcoat pocket. 'It'll come
on, in the settens after Term: fourteenth of Febooary, we expect;
we've marked it a special jury cause, and it's only ten down the
paper. That's yours, Mr. Snodgrass.' As Jackson said this, he
presented the parchment before the eyes of Mr. Snodgrass, and
slipped the paper and the shilling into his hand.
Mr. Tupman had witnessed this process in silent astonishment,
when Jackson, turning sharply upon him, said--
'I think I ain't mistaken when I say your name's Tupman,
Mr. Tupman looked at Mr. Pickwick; but, perceiving no
encouragement in that gentleman's widely-opened eyes to deny
his name, said--
'Yes, my name is Tupman, Sir.'
'And that other gentleman's Mr. Winkle, I think?' said Jackson.
Mr. Winkle faltered out a reply in the affirmative; and both
gentlemen were forthwith invested with a slip of paper, and a
shilling each, by the dexterous Mr. Jackson.
'Now,' said Jackson, 'I'm afraid you'll think me rather
troublesome, but I want somebody else, if it ain't inconvenient.
I have Samuel Weller's name here, Mr. Pickwick.'
'Send my servant here, waiter,' said Mr. Pickwick. The waiter
retired, considerably astonished, and Mr. Pickwick motioned
Jackson to a seat.
There was a painful pause, which was at length broken by the
'I suppose, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, his indignation rising while he
spoke--'I suppose, Sir, that it is the intention of your employers
to seek to criminate me upon the testimony of my own friends?'
Mr. Jackson struck his forefinger several times against the left
side of his nose, to intimate that he was not there to disclose the
secrets of the prison house, and playfully rejoined--
'Not knowin', can't say.'
'For what other reason, Sir,' pursued Mr. Pickwick, 'are these
subpoenas served upon them, if not for this?'
'Very good plant, Mr. Pickwick,' replied Jackson, slowly
shaking his head. 'But it won't do. No harm in trying, but there's
little to be got out of me.'
Here Mr. Jackson smiled once more upon the company, and,
applying his left thumb to the tip of his nose, worked a visionary
coffee-mill with his right hand, thereby performing a very
graceful piece of pantomime (then much in vogue, but now,
unhappily, almost obsolete) which was familiarly denominated
'taking a grinder.'
'No, no, Mr. Pickwick,' said Jackson, in conclusion; 'Perker's
people must guess what we've served these subpoenas for. If they
can't, they must wait till the action comes on, and then they'll
Mr. Pickwick bestowed a look of excessive disgust on his
unwelcome visitor, and would probably have hurled some
tremendous anathema at the heads of Messrs. Dodson & Fogg,
had not Sam's entrance at the instant interrupted him.
'Samuel Weller?' said Mr. Jackson, inquiringly.
'Vun o' the truest things as you've said for many a long year,'
replied Sam, in a most composed manner.
'Here's a subpoena for you, Mr. Weller,' said Jackson.
'What's that in English?' inquired Sam.
'Here's the original,' said Jackson, declining the required
'Which?' said Sam.
'This,' replied Jackson, shaking the parchment.
'Oh, that's the 'rig'nal, is it?' said Sam. 'Well, I'm wery glad
I've seen the 'rig'nal, 'cos it's a gratifyin' sort o' thing, and eases
vun's mind so much.'
'And here's the shilling,' said Jackson. 'It's from Dodson and Fogg's.'
'And it's uncommon handsome o' Dodson and Fogg, as knows
so little of me, to come down vith a present,' said Sam. 'I feel it
as a wery high compliment, sir; it's a wery honorable thing to
them, as they knows how to reward merit werever they meets it.
Besides which, it's affectin' to one's feelin's.'
As Mr. Weller said this, he inflicted a little friction on his right
eyelid, with the sleeve of his coat, after the most approved
manner of actors when they are in domestic pathetics.
Mr. Jackson seemed rather puzzled by Sam's proceedings; but,
as he had served the subpoenas, and had nothing more to say, he
made a feint of putting on the one glove which he usually carried
in his hand, for the sake of appearances; and returned to the
office to report progress.
Mr. Pickwick slept little that night; his memory had received
a very disagreeable refresher on the subject of Mrs. Bardell's
action. He breakfasted betimes next morning, and, desiring Sam
to accompany him, set forth towards Gray's Inn Square.
'Sam!' said Mr. Pickwick, looking round, when they got to the
end of Cheapside.
'Sir?' said Sam, stepping up to his master.
'Up Newgate Street.'
Mr. Pickwick did not turn round immediately, but looked
vacantly in Sam's face for a few seconds, and heaved a deep sigh.
'What's the matter, sir?' inquired Sam.
'This action, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'is expected to come on,
on the fourteenth of next month.'
'Remarkable coincidence that 'ere, sir,' replied Sam.
'Why remarkable, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Walentine's day, sir,' responded Sam; 'reg'lar good day for a
breach o' promise trial.'
Mr. Weller's smile awakened no gleam of mirth in his master's
countenance. Mr. Pickwick turned abruptly round, and led the
way in silence.
They had walked some distance, Mr. Pickwick trotting on
before, plunged in profound meditation, and Sam following
behind, with a countenance expressive of the most enviable and
easy defiance of everything and everybody, when the latter, who
was always especially anxious to impart to his master any
exclusive information he possessed, quickened his pace until he
was close at Mr. Pickwick's heels; and, pointing up at a house
they were passing, said--
'Wery nice pork-shop that 'ere, sir.'
'Yes, it seems so,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Celebrated sassage factory,' said Sam.
'Is it?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Is it!' reiterated Sam, with some indignation; 'I should rayther
think it was. Why, sir, bless your innocent eyebrows, that's where
the mysterious disappearance of a 'spectable tradesman took
place four years ago.'
'You don't mean to say he was burked, Sam?' said Mr.
Pickwick, looking hastily round.
'No, I don't indeed, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, 'I wish I did; far
worse than that. He was the master o' that 'ere shop, sir, and the
inwentor o' the patent-never-leavin'-off sassage steam-ingin, as
'ud swaller up a pavin' stone if you put it too near, and grind it
into sassages as easy as if it was a tender young babby. Wery
proud o' that machine he was, as it was nat'ral he should be, and
he'd stand down in the celler a-lookin' at it wen it was in full
play, till he got quite melancholy with joy. A wery happy man
he'd ha' been, Sir, in the procession o' that 'ere ingin and two
more lovely hinfants besides, if it hadn't been for his wife, who
was a most owdacious wixin. She was always a-follerin' him
about, and dinnin' in his ears, till at last he couldn't stand it no
longer. "I'll tell you what it is, my dear," he says one day; "if you
persewere in this here sort of amusement," he says, "I'm
blessed if I don't go away to 'Merriker; and that's all about it."
"You're a idle willin," says she, "and I wish the 'Merrikins joy of
their bargain." Arter which she keeps on abusin' of him for half
an hour, and then runs into the little parlour behind the shop,
sets to a-screamin', says he'll be the death on her, and falls in a
fit, which lasts for three good hours--one o' them fits wich is all
screamin' and kickin'. Well, next mornin', the husband was
missin'. He hadn't taken nothin' from the till--hadn't even put
on his greatcoat--so it was quite clear he warn't gone to 'Merriker.
Didn't come back next day; didn't come back next week; missis
had bills printed, sayin' that, if he'd come back, he should be
forgiven everythin' (which was very liberal, seein' that he hadn't
done nothin' at all); the canals was dragged, and for two months
arterwards, wenever a body turned up, it was carried, as a reg'lar
thing, straight off to the sassage shop. Hows'ever, none on 'em
answered; so they gave out that he'd run away, and she kep' on
the bis'ness. One Saturday night, a little, thin, old gen'l'm'n
comes into the shop in a great passion and says, "Are you the
missis o' this here shop?" "Yes, I am," says she. "Well, ma'am,"
says he, "then I've just looked in to say that me and my family
ain't a-goin' to be choked for nothin'; and more than that,
ma'am," he says, "you'll allow me to observe that as you don't
use the primest parts of the meat in the manafacter o' sassages,
I'd think you'd find beef come nearly as cheap as buttons." "As
buttons, Sir!" says she. "Buttons, ma'am," says the little, old
gentleman, unfolding a bit of paper, and showin' twenty or
thirty halves o' buttons. "Nice seasonin' for sassages, is trousers'
buttons, ma'am." "They're my husband's buttons!" says the
widder beginnin' to faint, "What!" screams the little old
gen'l'm'n, turnin' wery pale. "I see it all," says the widder; "in a
fit of temporary insanity he rashly converted hisself into
sassages!" And so he had, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, looking steadily
into Mr. Pickwick's horror-stricken countenance, 'or else he'd
been draw'd into the ingin; but however that might ha' been, the
little, old gen'l'm'n, who had been remarkably partial to sassages
all his life, rushed out o' the shop in a wild state, and was never
heerd on arterwards!'
The relation of this affecting incident of private life brought
master and man to Mr. Perker's chambers. Lowten, holding the
door half open, was in conversation with a rustily-clad, miserable-
looking man, in boots without toes and gloves without fingers.
There were traces of privation and suffering--almost of despair
--in his lank and care-worn countenance; he felt his poverty, for
he shrank to the dark side of the staircase as Mr. Pickwick approached.
'It's very unfortunate,' said the stranger, with a sigh.
'Very,' said Lowten, scribbling his name on the doorpost with
his pen, and rubbing it out again with the feather. 'Will you
leave a message for him?'
'When do you think he'll be back?' inquired the stranger.
'Quite uncertain,' replied Lowten, winking at Mr. Pickwick, as
the stranger cast his eyes towards the ground.
'You don't think it would be of any use my waiting for him?'
said the stranger, looking wistfully into the office.
'Oh, no, I'm sure it wouldn't,' replied the clerk, moving a little
more into the centre of the doorway. 'He's certain not to be back
this week, and it's a chance whether he will be next; for when
Perker once gets out of town, he's never in a hurry to come back again.'
'Out of town!' said Mr. Pickwick; 'dear me, how unfortunate!'
'Don't go away, Mr. Pickwick,' said Lowten, 'I've got a letter
for you.' The stranger, seeming to hesitate, once more looked
towards the ground, and the clerk winked slyly at Mr. PickwiCK,
as if to intimate that some exquisite piece of humour was going
forward, though what it was Mr. Pickwick could not for the life
of him divine.
'Step in, Mr. Pickwick,' said Lowten. 'Well, will you leave a
message, Mr. Watty, or will you call again?'
'Ask him to be so kind as to leave out word what has been done
in my business,' said the man; 'for God's sake don't neglect it,
'No, no; I won't forget it,' replied the clerk. 'Walk in, Mr.
Pickwick. Good-morning, Mr. Watty; it's a fine day for walking,
isn't it?' Seeing that the stranger still lingered, he beckoned Sam
Weller to follow his master in, and shut the door in his face.
'There never was such a pestering bankrupt as that since the
world began, I do believe!' said Lowten, throwing down his pen
with the air of an injured man. 'His affairs haven't been in
Chancery quite four years yet, and I'm d--d if he don't come
worrying here twice a week. Step this way, Mr. Pickwick. Perker
IS in, and he'll see you, I know. Devilish cold,' he added pettishly,
'standing at that door, wasting one's time with such seedy
vagabonds!' Having very vehemently stirred a particularly large
fire with a particularly small poker, the clerk led the way to his
principal's private room, and announced Mr. Pickwick.
'Ah, my dear Sir,' said little Mr. Perker, bustling up from his
chair. 'Well, my dear sir, and what's the news about your matter,
eh? Anything more about our friends in Freeman's Court?
They've not been sleeping, I know that. Ah, they're very smart
fellows; very smart, indeed.'
As the little man concluded, he took an emphatic pinch of
snuff, as a tribute to the smartness of Messrs. Dodson and Fogg.
'They are great scoundrels,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Aye, aye,' said the little man; 'that's a matter of opinion, you
know, and we won't dispute about terms; because of course you
can't be expected to view these subjects with a professional eye.
Well, we've done everything that's necessary. I have retained
'Is he a good man?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Good man!' replied Perker; 'bless your heart and soul, my
dear Sir, Serjeant Snubbin is at the very top of his profession.
Gets treble the business of any man in court--engaged in every
case. You needn't mention it abroad; but we say--we of the
profession--that Serjeant Snubbin leads the court by the nose.'
The little man took another pinch of snuff as he made this
communication, and nodded mysteriously to Mr. Pickwick.
'They have subpoenaed my three friends,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Ah! of course they would,' replied Perker. 'Important
witnesses; saw you in a delicate situation.'
'But she fainted of her own accord,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'She
threw herself into my arms.'
'Very likely, my dear Sir,' replied Perker; 'very likely and very
natural. Nothing more so, my dear Sir, nothing. But who's to
'They have subpoenaed my servant, too,' said Mr. Pickwick,
quitting the other point; for there Mr. Perker's question had
somewhat staggered him.
'Sam?' said Perker.
Mr. Pickwick replied in the affirmative.
'Of course, my dear Sir; of course. I knew they would. I could
have told you that, a month ago. You know, my dear Sir, if you
WILL take the management of your affairs into your own hands
after entrusting them to your solicitor, you must also take the
consequences.' Here Mr. Perker drew himself up with conscious
dignity, and brushed some stray grains of snuff from his shirt frill.
'And what do they want him to prove?' asked Mr. Pickwick,
after two or three minutes' silence.
'That you sent him up to the plaintiff 's to make some offer of
a compromise, I suppose,' replied Perker. 'It don't matter much,
though; I don't think many counsel could get a great deal out
'I don't think they could,' said Mr. Pickwick, smiling, despite
his vexation, at the idea of Sam's appearance as a witness. 'What
course do we pursue?'
'We have only one to adopt, my dear Sir,' replied Perker;
'cross-examine the witnesses; trust to Snubbin's eloquence;
throw dust in the eyes of the judge; throw ourselves on the jury.'
'And suppose the verdict is against me?' said Mr. Pickwick.
Mr. Perker smiled, took a very long pinch of snuff, stirred the
fire, shrugged his shoulders, and remained expressively silent.
'You mean that in that case I must pay the damages?' said
Mr. Pickwick, who had watched this telegraphic answer with
Perker gave the fire another very unnecessary poke, and said,
'I am afraid so.'
'Then I beg to announce to you my unalterable determination
to pay no damages whatever,' said Mr. Pickwick, most
emphatically. 'None, Perker. Not a pound, not a penny of my
money, shall find its way into the pockets of Dodson and Fogg.
That is my deliberate and irrevocable determination.' Mr. Pickwick
gave a heavy blow on the table before him, in confirmation
of the irrevocability of his intention.
'Very well, my dear Sir, very well,' said Perker. 'You know best,
'Of course,' replied Mr. Pickwick hastily. 'Where does Serjeant
'In Lincoln's Inn Old Square,' replied Perker.
'I should like to see him,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'See Serjeant Snubbin, my dear Sir!' rejoined Perker, in utter
amazement. 'Pooh, pooh, my dear Sir, impossible. See Serjeant
Snubbin! Bless you, my dear Sir, such a thing was never heard of,
without a consultation fee being previously paid, and a consultation
fixed. It couldn't be done, my dear Sir; it couldn't be done.'
Mr. Pickwick, however, had made up his mind not only that
it could be done, but that it should be done; and the consequence
was, that within ten minutes after he had received the assurance
that the thing was impossible, he was conducted by his solicitor
into the outer office of the great Serjeant Snubbin himself.
It was an uncarpeted room of tolerable dimensions, with a
large writing-table drawn up near the fire, the baize top of which
had long since lost all claim to its original hue of green, and had
gradually grown gray with dust and age, except where all traces
of its natural colour were obliterated by ink-stains. Upon the
table were numerous little bundles of papers tied with red tape;
and behind it, sat an elderly clerk, whose sleek appearance and
heavy gold watch-chain presented imposing indications of the
extensive and lucrative practice of Mr. Serjeant Snubbin.
'Is the Serjeant in his room, Mr. Mallard?' inquired Perker,
offering his box with all imaginable courtesy.
'Yes, he is,' was the reply, 'but he's very busy. Look here; not
an opinion given yet, on any one of these cases; and an expedition
fee paid with all of 'em.' The clerk smiled as he said this, and
inhaled the pinch of snuff with a zest which seemed to be compounded
of a fondness for snuff and a relish for fees.
'Something like practice that,' said Perker.
'Yes,' said the barrister's clerk, producing his own box, and
offering it with the greatest cordiality; 'and the best of it is, that
as nobody alive except myself can read the serjeant's writing,
they are obliged to wait for the opinions, when he has given
them, till I have copied 'em, ha-ha-ha!'
'Which makes good for we know who, besides the serjeant,
and draws a little more out of the clients, eh?' said Perker; 'ha,
ha, ha!' At this the serjeant's clerk laughed again--not a noisy
boisterous laugh, but a silent, internal chuckle, which Mr. Pickwick
disliked to hear. When a man bleeds inwardly, it is a dangerous
thing for himself; but when he laughs inwardly, it bodes no
good to other people.
'You haven't made me out that little list of the fees that I'm in
your debt, have you?' said Perker.
'No, I have not,' replied the clerk.
'I wish you would,' said Perker. 'Let me have them, and I'll
send you a cheque. But I suppose you're too busy pocketing the
ready money, to think of the debtors, eh? ha, ha, ha!' This sally
seemed to tickle the clerk amazingly, and he once more enjoyed
a little quiet laugh to himself.
'But, Mr. Mallard, my dear friend,' said Perker, suddenly
recovering his gravity, and drawing the great man's great man
into a Corner, by the lappel of his coat; 'you must persuade the
Serjeant to see me, and my client here.'
'Come, come,' said the clerk, 'that's not bad either. See the
Serjeant! come, that's too absurd.' Notwithstanding the absurdity
of the proposal, however, the clerk allowed himself to be
gently drawn beyond the hearing of Mr. Pickwick; and after a
short conversation conducted in whispers, walked softly down a
little dark passage, and disappeared into the legal luminary's
sanctum, whence he shortly returned on tiptoe, and informed
Mr. Perker and Mr. Pickwick that the Serjeant had been prevailed
upon, in violation of all established rules and customs, to admit
them at once.
Mr. Serjeant Snubbins was a lantern-faced, sallow-complexioned
man, of about five-and-forty, or--as the novels say--
he might be fifty. He had that dull-looking, boiled eye which is
often to be seen in the heads of people who have applied themselves
during many years to a weary and laborious course of
study; and which would have been sufficient, without the additional
eyeglass which dangled from a broad black riband round
his neck, to warn a stranger that he was very near-sighted. His
hair was thin and weak, which was partly attributable to his
having never devoted much time to its arrangement, and partly to
his having worn for five-and-twenty years the forensic wig which
hung on a block beside him. The marks of hairpowder on his
coat-collar, and the ill-washed and worse tied white neckerchief
round his throat, showed that he had not found leisure since he
left the court to make any alteration in his dress; while the
slovenly style of the remainder of his costume warranted the
inference that his personal appearance would not have been very
much improved if he had. Books of practice, heaps of papers,
and opened letters, were scattered over the table, without any
attempt at order or arrangement; the furniture of the room was
old and rickety; the doors of the book-case were rotting in their
hinges; the dust flew out from the carpet in little clouds at every
step; the blinds were yellow with age and dirt; the state of
everything in the room showed, with a clearness not to be
mistaken, that Mr. Serjeant Snubbin was far too much occupied
with his professional pursuits to take any great heed or regard of
his personal comforts.
The Serjeant was writing when his clients entered; he bowed
abstractedly when Mr. Pickwick was introduced by his solicitor;
and then, motioning them to a seat, put his pen carefully in the
inkstand, nursed his left leg, and waited to be spoken to.
'Mr. Pickwick is the defendant in Bardell and Pickwick,
Serjeant Snubbin,' said Perker.
'I am retained in that, am I?' said the Serjeant.
'You are, Sir,' replied Perker.
The Serjeant nodded his head, and waited for something else.
'Mr. Pickwick was anxious to call upon you, Serjeant
Snubbin,' said Perker, 'to state to you, before you entered upon
the case, that he denies there being any ground or pretence
whatever for the action against him; and that unless he came into
court with clean hands, and without the most conscientious
conviction that he was right in resisting the plaintiff's demand,
he would not be there at all. I believe I state your views correctly;
do I not, my dear Sir?' said the little man, turning to Mr. Pickwick.
'Quite so,' replied that gentleman.
Mr. Serjeant Snubbin unfolded his glasses, raised them to his
eyes; and, after looking at Mr. Pickwick for a few seconds with
great curiosity, turned to Mr. Perker, and said, smiling slightly
as he spoke--
'Has Mr. Pickwick a strong case?'
The attorney shrugged his shoulders.
'Do you propose calling witnesses?'
The smile on the Serjeant's countenance became more defined;
he rocked his leg with increased violence; and, throwing himself
back in his easy-chair, coughed dubiously.
These tokens of the Serjeant's presentiments on the subject,
slight as they were, were not lost on Mr. Pickwick. He settled the
spectacles, through which he had attentively regarded such
demonstrations of the barrister's feelings as he had permitted
himself to exhibit, more firmly on his nose; and said with great
energy, and in utter disregard of all Mr. Perker's admonitory
winkings and frownings--
'My wishing to wait upon you, for such a purpose as this, Sir,
appears, I have no doubt, to a gentleman who sees so much of
these matters as you must necessarily do, a very extraordinary
The Serjeant tried to look gravely at the fire, but the smile
came back again.
'Gentlemen of your profession, Sir,' continued Mr. Pickwick,
'see the worst side of human nature. All its disputes, all its ill-will
and bad blood, rise up before you. You know from your
experience of juries (I mean no disparagement to you, or them) how
much depends upon effect; and you are apt to attribute to others,
a desire to use, for purposes of deception and Self-interest, the
very instruments which you, in pure honesty and honour of
purpose, and with a laudable desire to do your utmost for your
client, know the temper and worth of so well, from constantly
employing them yourselves. I really believe that to this circumstance
may be attributed the vulgar but very general notion of
your being, as a body, suspicious, distrustful, and over-cautious.
Conscious as I am, sir, of the disadvantage of making such a
declaration to you, under such circumstances, I have come here,
because I wish you distinctly to understand, as my friend
Mr. Perker has said, that I am innocent of the falsehood laid to
my charge; and although I am very well aware of the inestimable
value of your assistance, Sir, I must beg to add, that unless you
sincerely believe this, I would rather be deprived of the aid of
your talents than have the advantage of them.'
Long before the close of this address, which we are bound to
say was of a very prosy character for Mr. Pickwick, the Serjeant
had relapsed into a state of abstraction. After some minutes,
however, during which he had reassumed his pen, he appeared to
be again aware of the presence of his clients; raising his head
from the paper, he said, rather snappishly--
'Who is with me in this case?'
'Mr. Phunky, Serjeant Snubbin,' replied the attorney.
'Phunky--Phunky,' said the Serjeant, 'I never heard the name
before. He must be a very young man.'
'Yes, he is a very young man,' replied the attorney. 'He was
only called the other day. Let me see--he has not been at the Bar
eight years yet.'
'Ah, I thought not,' said the Serjeant, in that sort of pitying
tone in which ordinary folks would speak of a very helpless little
child. 'Mr. Mallard, send round to Mr.--Mr.--' 'Phunky's--
Holborn Court, Gray's Inn,' interposed Perker. (Holborn Court,
by the bye, is South Square now.) 'Mr. Phunky, and say I should
be glad if he'd step here, a moment.'
Mr. Mallard departed to execute his commission; and Serjeant
Snubbin relapsed into abstraction until Mr. Phunky himself was
Although an infant barrister, he was a full-grown man. He had
a very nervous manner, and a painful hesitation in his speech; it
did not appear to be a natural defect, but seemed rather the
result of timidity, arising from the consciousness of being 'kept
down' by want of means, or interest, or connection, or impudence,
as the case might be. He was overawed by the Serjeant, and
profoundly courteous to the attorney.
'I have not had the pleasure of seeing you before, Mr. Phunky,'
said Serjeant Snubbin, with haughty condescension.
Mr. Phunky bowed. He HAD had the pleasure of seeing the
Serjeant, and of envying him too, with all a poor man's envy, for
eight years and a quarter.
'You are with me in this case, I understand?' said the Serjeant.
If Mr. Phunky had been a rich man, he would have instantly
sent for his clerk to remind him; if he had been a wise one, he
would have applied his forefinger to his forehead, and
endeavoured to recollect, whether, in the multiplicity of his
engagements, he had undertaken this one or not; but as he was neither
rich nor wise (in this sense, at all events) he turned red, and bowed.
'Have you read the papers, Mr. Phunky?' inquired the Serjeant.
Here again, Mr. Phunky should have professed to have
forgotten all about the merits of the case; but as he had read such
papers as had been laid before him in the course of the action, and
had thought of nothing else, waking or sleeping, throughout the
two months during which he had been retained as Mr. Serjeant
Snubbin's junior, he turned a deeper red and bowed again.
'This is Mr. Pickwick,' said the Serjeant, waving his pen in the
direction in which that gentleman was standing.
Mr. Phunky bowed to Mr. Pickwick, with a reverence which a
first client must ever awaken; and again inclined his head towards
'Perhaps you will take Mr. Pickwick away,' said the Serjeant,
'and--and--and--hear anything Mr. Pickwick may wish to
communicate. We shall have a consultation, of course.' With
that hint that he had been interrupted quite long enough, Mr.
Serjeant Snubbin, who had been gradually growing more and
more abstracted, applied his glass to his eyes for an instant,
bowed slightly round, and was once more deeply immersed in the
case before him, which arose out of an interminable lawsuit,
originating in the act of an individual, deceased a century or so
ago, who had stopped up a pathway leading from some place
which nobody ever came from, to some other place which
nobody ever went to.
Mr. Phunky would not hear of passing through any door until
Mr. Pickwick and his solicitor had passed through before him, so
it was some time before they got into the Square; and when they
did reach it, they walked up and down, and held a long conference,
the result of which was, that it was a very difficult matter
to say how the verdict would go; that nobody could presume to
calculate on the issue of an action; that it was very lucky they had
prevented the other party from getting Serjeant Snubbin; and
other topics of doubt and consolation, common in such a position
Mr. Weller was then roused by his master from a sweet sleep of
an hour's duration; and, bidding adieu to Lowten, they returned
to the city.
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
There is a repose about Lant Street, in the Borough, which
sheds a gentle melancholy upon the soul. There are always a
good many houses to let in the street: it is a by-street too,
and its dulness is soothing. A house in Lant Street would
not come within the denomination of a first-rate residence,
in the strict acceptation of the term; but it is a most desirable
spot nevertheless. If a man wished to abstract himself from the
world--to remove himself from within the reach of temptation--
to place himself beyond the possibility of any inducement to look
out of the window--we should recommend him by all means go
to Lant Street.
In this happy retreat are colonised a few clear-starchers, a
sprinkling of journeymen bookbinders, one or two prison agents
for the Insolvent Court, several small housekeepers who are
employed in the Docks, a handful of mantua-makers, and a
seasoning of jobbing tailors. The majority of the inhabitants
either direct their energies to the letting of furnished apartments,
or devote themselves to the healthful and invigorating pursuit of
mangling. The chief features in the still life of the street are
green shutters, lodging-bills, brass door-plates, and bell-handles;
the principal specimens of animated nature, the pot-boy, the
muffin youth, and the baked-potato man. The population is
migratory, usually disappearing on the verge of quarter-day, and
generally by night. His Majesty's revenues are seldom collected
in this happy valley; the rents are dubious; and the water
communication is very frequently cut off.
Mr. Bob Sawyer embellished one side of the fire, in his first-
floor front, early on the evening for which he had invited Mr.
Pickwick, and Mr. Ben Allen the other. The preparations for the
reception of visitors appeared to be completed. The umbrellas in
the passage had been heaped into the little corner outside the
back-parlour door; the bonnet and shawl of the landlady's
servant had been removed from the bannisters; there were not
more than two pairs of pattens on the street-door mat; and a
kitchen candle, with a very long snuff, burned cheerfully on the
ledge of the staircase window. Mr. Bob Sawyer had himself
purchased the spirits at a wine vaults in High Street, and had
returned home preceding the bearer thereof, to preclude the
possibility of their delivery at the wrong house. The punch was
ready-made in a red pan in the bedroom; a little table, covered
with a green baize cloth, had been borrowed from the parlour,
to play at cards on; and the glasses of the establishment, together
with those which had been borrowed for the occasion from the
public-house, were all drawn up in a tray, which was deposited
on the landing outside the door.
Notwithstanding the highly satisfactory nature of all these
arrangements, there was a cloud on the countenance of Mr. Bob
Sawyer, as he sat by the fireside. There was a sympathising
expression, too, in the features of Mr. Ben Allen, as he gazed
intently on the coals, and a tone of melancholy in his voice, as he
said, after a long silence--
'Well, it is unlucky she should have taken it in her head to turn
sour, just on this occasion. She might at least have waited
'That's her malevolence--that's her malevolence,' returned
Mr. Bob Sawyer vehemently. 'She says that if I can afford to give
a party I ought to be able to pay her confounded "little bill."'
'How long has it been running?' inquired Mr. Ben Allen. A
bill, by the bye, is the most extraordinary locomotive engine that
the genius of man ever produced. It would keep on running
during the longest lifetime, without ever once stopping of its
'Only a quarter, and a month or so,' replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.
Ben Allen coughed hopelessly, and directed a searching look
between the two top bars of the stove.
'It'll be a deuced unpleasant thing if she takes it into her head
to let out, when those fellows are here, won't it?' said Mr. Ben
Allen at length.
'Horrible,' replied Bob Sawyer, 'horrible.'
A low tap was heard at the room door. Mr. Bob Sawyer
looked expressively at his friend, and bade the tapper come in;
whereupon a dirty, slipshod girl in black cotton stockings, who
might have passed for the neglected daughter of a superannuated
dustman in very reduced circumstances, thrust in her head, and said--
'Please, Mister Sawyer, Missis Raddle wants to speak to you.'
Before Mr. Bob Sawyer could return any answer, the girl
suddenly disappeared with a jerk, as if somebody had given her
a violent pull behind; this mysterious exit was no sooner
accomplished, than there was another tap at the door--a smart,
pointed tap, which seemed to say, 'Here I am, and in I'm coming.'
Mr, Bob Sawyer glanced at his friend with a look of abject
apprehension, and once more cried, 'Come in.'
The permission was not at all necessary, for, before Mr. Bob
Sawyer had uttered the words, a little, fierce woman bounced
into the room, all in a tremble with passion, and pale with rage.
'Now, Mr. Sawyer,' said the little, fierce woman, trying to
appear very calm, 'if you'll have the kindness to settle that little
bill of mine I'll thank you, because I've got my rent to pay this
afternoon, and my landlord's a-waiting below now.' Here the
little woman rubbed her hands, and looked steadily over Mr. Bob
Sawyer's head, at the wall behind him.
'I am very sorry to put you to any inconvenience, Mrs. Raddle,'
said Bob Sawyer deferentially, 'but--'
'Oh, it isn't any inconvenience,' replied the little woman, with
a shrill titter. 'I didn't want it particular before to-day; leastways,
as it has to go to my landlord directly, it was as well for you to
keep it as me. You promised me this afternoon, Mr. Sawyer, and
every gentleman as has ever lived here, has kept his word, Sir,
as of course anybody as calls himself a gentleman does.'
Mrs. Raddle tossed her head, bit her lips, rubbed her hands
harder, and looked at the wall more steadily than ever. It was
plain to see, as Mr. Bob Sawyer remarked in a style of Eastern
allegory on a subsequent occasion, that she was 'getting the
'I am very sorry, Mrs. Raddle,' said Bob Sawyer, with all
imaginable humility, 'but the fact is, that I have been disappointed
in the City to-day.'--Extraordinary place that City. An astonishing
number of men always ARE getting disappointed there.
'Well, Mr. Sawyer,' said Mrs. Raddle, planting herself firmly
on a purple cauliflower in the Kidderminster carpet, 'and what's
that to me, Sir?'
'I--I--have no doubt, Mrs. Raddle,' said Bob Sawyer, blinking
this last question, 'that before the middle of next week we shall
be able to set ourselves quite square, and go on, on a better
This was all Mrs. Raddle wanted. She had bustled up to
the apartment of the unlucky Bob Sawyer, so bent upon going
into a passion, that, in all probability, payment would have
rather disappointed her than otherwise. She was in excellent
order for a little relaxation of the kind, having just exchanged
a few introductory compliments with Mr. R. in the front kitchen.
'Do you suppose, Mr. Sawyer,' said Mrs. Raddle, elevating her
voice for the information of the neighbours--'do you suppose
that I'm a-going day after day to let a fellar occupy my lodgings
as never thinks of paying his rent, nor even the very money laid
out for the fresh butter and lump sugar that's bought for his
breakfast, and the very milk that's took in, at the street door?
Do you suppose a hard-working and industrious woman as has
lived in this street for twenty year (ten year over the way, and
nine year and three-quarters in this very house) has nothing else
to do but to work herself to death after a parcel of lazy idle
fellars, that are always smoking and drinking, and lounging,
when they ought to be glad to turn their hands to anything that
would help 'em to pay their bills? Do you--'
'My good soul,' interposed Mr. Benjamin Allen soothingly.
'Have the goodness to keep your observashuns to yourself, Sir,
I beg,' said Mrs. Raddle, suddenly arresting the rapid torrent of
her speech, and addressing the third party with impressive slowness
and solemnity. 'I am not aweer, Sir, that you have any right
to address your conversation to me. I don't think I let these
apartments to you, Sir.'
'No, you certainly did not,' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.
'Very good, Sir,' responded Mrs. Raddle, with lofty politeness.
'Then p'raps, Sir, you'll confine yourself to breaking the arms and
legs of the poor people in the hospitals, and keep yourself TO
yourself, Sir, or there may be some persons here as will make
'But you are such an unreasonable woman,' remonstrated
Mr. Benjamin Allen.
'I beg your parding, young man,' said Mrs. Raddle, in a cold
perspiration of anger. 'But will you have the goodness just to call
me that again, sir?'
'I didn't make use of the word in any invidious sense, ma'am,'
replied Mr. Benjamin Allen, growing somewhat uneasy on his
'I beg your parding, young man,' demanded Mrs. Raddle, in a
louder and more imperative tone. 'But who do you call a woman?
Did you make that remark to me, sir?'
'Why, bless my heart!' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.
'Did you apply that name to me, I ask of you, sir?' interrupted
Mrs. Raddle, with intense fierceness, throwing the door wide open.
'Why, of course I did,' replied Mr. Benjamin Allen.
'Yes, of course you did,' said Mrs. Raddle, backing gradually
to the door, and raising her voice to its loudest pitch, for the
special behoof of Mr. Raddle in the kitchen. 'Yes, of course you
did! And everybody knows that they may safely insult me in my
own 'ouse while my husband sits sleeping downstairs, and taking
no more notice than if I was a dog in the streets. He ought to be
ashamed of himself (here Mrs. Raddle sobbed) to allow his wife
to be treated in this way by a parcel of young cutters and carvers
of live people's bodies, that disgraces the lodgings (another sob),
and leaving her exposed to all manner of abuse; a base, faint-
hearted, timorous wretch, that's afraid to come upstairs, and
face the ruffinly creatures--that's afraid--that's afraid to come!'
Mrs. Raddle paused to listen whether the repetition of the taunt
had roused her better half; and finding that it had not been
successful, proceeded to descend the stairs with sobs innumerable;
when there came a loud double knock at the street door;
whereupon she burst into an hysterical fit of weeping, accompanied
with dismal moans, which was prolonged until the knock
had been repeated six times, when, in an uncontrollable burst of
mental agony, she threw down all the umbrellas, and disappeared
into the back parlour, closing the door after her with an awful crash.
'Does Mr. Sawyer live here?' said Mr. Pickwick, when the door
'Yes,' said the girl, 'first floor. It's the door straight afore you,
when you gets to the top of the stairs.' Having given this instruction,
the handmaid, who had been brought up among the
aboriginal inhabitants of Southwark, disappeared, with the
candle in her hand, down the kitchen stairs, perfectly satisfied
that she had done everything that could possibly be required of
her under the circumstances.
Mr. Snodgrass, who entered last, secured the street door, after
several ineffectual efforts, by putting up the chain; and the
friends stumbled upstairs, where they were received by Mr. Bob
Sawyer, who had been afraid to go down, lest he should be
waylaid by Mrs. Raddle.
'How are you?' said the discomfited student. 'Glad to see you
--take care of the glasses.' This caution was addressed to Mr.
Pickwick, who had put his hat in the tray.
'Dear me,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I beg your pardon.'
'Don't mention it, don't mention it,' said Bob Sawyer. 'I'm
rather confined for room here, but you must put up with all that,
when you come to see a young bachelor. Walk in. You've seen
this gentleman before, I think?' Mr. Pickwick shook hands with
Mr. Benjamin Allen, and his friends followed his example. They
had scarcely taken their seats when there was another double knock.
'I hope that's Jack Hopkins!' said Mr. Bob Sawyer. 'Hush.
Yes, it is. Come up, Jack; come up.'
A heavy footstep was heard upon the stairs, and Jack Hopkins
presented himself. He wore a black velvet waistcoat, with
thunder-and-lightning buttons; and a blue striped shirt, with a
white false collar.
'You're late, Jack?' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.
'Been detained at Bartholomew's,' replied Hopkins.
'No, nothing particular. Rather a good accident brought into
the casualty ward.'
'What was that, sir?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Only a man fallen out of a four pair of stairs' window; but it's
a very fair case indeed.'
'Do you mean that the patient is in a fair way to recover?'
inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'No,' replied Mr. Hopkins carelessly. 'No, I should rather say
he wouldn't. There must be a splendid operation, though,
to-morrow--magnificent sight if Slasher does it.'
'You consider Mr. Slasher a good operator?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Best alive,' replied Hopkins. 'Took a boy's leg out of the
socket last week--boy ate five apples and a gingerbread cake--
exactly two minutes after it was all over, boy said he wouldn't lie
there to be made game of, and he'd tell his mother if they didn't begin.'
'Dear me!' said Mr. Pickwick, astonished.
'Pooh! That's nothing, that ain't,' said Jack Hopkins. 'Is it, Bob?'
'Nothing at all,' replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.
'By the bye, Bob,' said Hopkins, with a scarcely perceptible
glance at Mr. Pickwick's attentive face, 'we had a curious
accident last night. A child was brought in, who had swallowed a
'Swallowed what, Sir?' interrupted Mr. Pickwick.
'A necklace,' replied Jack Hopkins. 'Not all at once, you know,
that would be too much--you couldn't swallow that, if the child
did--eh, Mr. Pickwick? ha, ha!' Mr. Hopkins appeared highly
gratified with his own pleasantry, and continued--'No, the way
was this. Child's parents were poor people who lived in a court.
Child's eldest sister bought a necklace--common necklace, made
of large black wooden beads. Child being fond of toys, cribbed
the necklace, hid it, played with it, cut the string, and swallowed
a bead. Child thought it capital fun, went back next day, and
swallowed another bead.'
'Bless my heart,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'what a dreadful thing! I
beg your pardon, Sir. Go on.'
'Next day, child swallowed two beads; the day after that, he
treated himself to three, and so on, till in a week's time he had
got through the necklace--five-and-twenty beads in all. The
sister, who was an industrious girl, and seldom treated herself to
a bit of finery, cried her eyes out, at the loss of the necklace;
looked high and low for it; but, I needn't say, didn't find it. A
few days afterwards, the family were at dinner--baked shoulder
of mutton, and potatoes under it--the child, who wasn't hungry,
was playing about the room, when suddenly there was heard a
devil of a noise, like a small hailstorm. "Don't do that, my boy,"
said the father. "I ain't a-doin' nothing," said the child. "Well,
don't do it again," said the father. There was a short silence, and
then the noise began again, worse than ever. "If you don't mind
what I say, my boy," said the father, "you'll find yourself in bed,
in something less than a pig's whisper." He gave the child a
shake to make him obedient, and such a rattling ensued as
nobody ever heard before. "Why, damme, it's IN the child!" said
the father, "he's got the croup in the wrong place!" "No, I
haven't, father," said the child, beginning to cry, "it's the necklace;
I swallowed it, father."--The father caught the child up,
and ran with him to the hospital; the beads in the boy's stomach
rattling all the way with the jolting; and the people looking up in
the air, and down in the cellars, to see where the unusual sound
came from. He's in the hospital now,' said Jack Hopkins, 'and he
makes such a devil of a noise when he walks about, that they're
obliged to muffle him in a watchman's coat, for fear he should
wake the patients.'
'That's the most extraordinary case I ever heard of,' said
Mr. Pickwick, with an emphatic blow on the table.
'Oh, that's nothing,' said Jack Hopkins. 'Is it, Bob?'
'Certainly not,' replied Bob Sawyer.
'Very singular things occur in our profession, I can assure you,
Sir,' said Hopkins.
'So I should be disposed to imagine,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
Another knock at the door announced a large-headed young
man in a black wig, who brought with him a scorbutic youth in a
long stock. The next comer was a gentleman in a shirt emblazoned
with pink anchors, who was closely followed by a pale youth with
a plated watchguard. The arrival of a prim personage in clean
linen and cloth boots rendered the party complete. The little
table with the green baize cover was wheeled out; the first
instalment of punch was brought in, in a white jug; and the
succeeding three hours were devoted to VINGT-ET-UN at sixpence a
dozen, which was only once interrupted by a slight dispute
between the scorbutic youth and the gentleman with the pink
anchors; in the course of which, the scorbutic youth intimated a
burning desire to pull the nose of the gentleman with the emblems
of hope; in reply to which, that individual expressed his decided
unwillingness to accept of any 'sauce' on gratuitous terms, either
from the irascible young gentleman with the scorbutic countenance,
or any other person who was ornamented with a head.
When the last 'natural' had been declared, and the profit and
loss account of fish and sixpences adjusted, to the satisfaction of
all parties, Mr. Bob Sawyer rang for supper, and the visitors
squeezed themselves into corners while it was getting ready.
it was not so easily got ready as some people may imagine.
First of all, it was necessary to awaken the girl, who had fallen
asleep with her face on the kitchen table; this took a little time,
and, even when she did answer the bell, another quarter of an
hour was consumed in fruitless endeavours to impart to her a
faint and distant glimmering of reason. The man to whom the
order for the oysters had been sent, had not been told to open
them; it is a very difficult thing to open an oyster with a limp
knife and a two-pronged fork; and very little was done in this
way. Very little of the beef was done either; and the ham (which
was also from the German-sausage shop round the corner) was
in a similar predicament. However, there was plenty of porter in
a tin can; and the cheese went a great way, for it was very strong.
So upon the whole, perhaps, the supper was quite as good as such
matters usually are.
After supper, another jug of punch was put upon the table,
together with a paper of cigars, and a couple of bottles of spirits.
Then there was an awful pause; and this awful pause was
occasioned by a very common occurrence in this sort of place,
but a very embarrassing one notwithstanding.
The fact is, the girl was washing the glasses. The establishment
boasted four: we do not record the circumstance as at all
derogatory to Mrs. Raddle, for there never was a lodging-house
yet, that was not short of glasses. The landlady's glasses were
little, thin, blown-glass tumblers, and those which had been
borrowed from the public-house were great, dropsical, bloated
articles, each supported on a huge gouty leg. This would have
been in itself sufficient to have possessed the company with the
real state of affairs; but the young woman of all work had
prevented the possibility of any misconception arising in the
mind of any gentleman upon the subject, by forcibly dragging
every man's glass away, long before he had finished his beer, and
audibly stating, despite the winks and interruptions of Mr. Bob
Sawyer, that it was to be conveyed downstairs, and washed forthwith.
It is a very ill wind that blows nobody any good. The prim
man in the cloth boots, who had been unsuccessfully attempting
to make a joke during the whole time the round game lasted,
saw his opportunity, and availed himself of it. The instant the
glasses disappeared, he commenced a long story about a great
public character, whose name he had forgotten, making a particularly
happy reply to another eminent and illustrious individual
whom he had never been able to identify. He enlarged at some
length and with great minuteness upon divers collateral circumstances,
distantly connected with the anecdote in hand, but for
the life of him he couldn't recollect at that precise moment what
the anecdote was, although he had been in the habit of telling the
story with great applause for the last ten years.
'Dear me,' said the prim man in the cloth boots, 'it is a very
'I am sorry you have forgotten it,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer,
glancing eagerly at the door, as he thought he heard the noise of
glasses jingling; 'very sorry.'
'So am I,' responded the prim man, 'because I know it would
have afforded so much amusement. Never mind; I dare say I
shall manage to recollect it, in the course of half an hour or so.'
The prim man arrived at this point just as the glasses came
back, when Mr. Bob Sawyer, who had been absorbed in attention
during the whole time, said he should very much like to hear the
end of it, for, so far as it went, it was, without exception, the very
best story he had ever heard.
The sight of the tumblers restored Bob Sawyer to a degree of
equanimity which he had not possessed since his interview with his
landlady. His face brightened up, and he began to feel quite convivial.
'Now, Betsy,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer, with great suavity, and
dispersing, at the same time, the tumultuous little mob of glasses
the girl had collected in the centre of the table--'now, Betsy, the
warm water; be brisk, there's a good girl.'
'You can't have no warm water,' replied Betsy.
'No warm water!' exclaimed Mr. Bob Sawyer.
'No,' said the girl, with a shake of the head which expressed a
more decided negative than the most copious language could
have conveyed. 'Missis Raddle said you warn't to have none.'
The surprise depicted on the countenances of his guests
imparted new courage to the host.
'Bring up the warm water instantly--instantly!' said Mr. Bob
Sawyer, with desperate sternness.
'No. I can't,' replied the girl; 'Missis Raddle raked out the
kitchen fire afore she went to bed, and locked up the kittle.'
'Oh, never mind; never mind. Pray don't disturb yourself
about such a trifle,' said Mr. Pickwick, observing the conflict of
Bob Sawyer's passions, as depicted in his countenance, 'cold
water will do very well.'
'Oh, admirably,' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.
'My landlady is subject to some slight attacks of mental
derangement,' remarked Bob Sawyer, with a ghastly smile; 'I fear
I must give her warning.'
'No, don't,' said Ben Allen.
'I fear I must,' said Bob, with heroic firmness. 'I'll pay her
what I owe her, and give her warning to-morrow morning.' Poor
fellow! how devoutly he wished he could!
Mr. Bob Sawyer's heart-sickening attempts to rally under this
last blow, communicated a dispiriting influence to the company,
the greater part of whom, with the view of raising their spirits,
attached themselves with extra cordiality to the cold brandy-and-
water, the first perceptible effects of which were displayed in a
renewal of hostilities between the scorbutic youth and the
gentleman in the shirt. The belligerents vented their feelings of
mutual contempt, for some time, in a variety of frownings and
snortings, until at last the scorbutic youth felt it necessary to
come to a more explicit understanding on the matter; when the
following clear understanding took place.
'Sawyer,' said the scorbutic youth, in a loud voice.
'Well, Noddy,' replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.
'I should be very sorry, Sawyer,' said Mr. Noddy, 'to create
any unpleasantness at any friend's table, and much less at yours,
Sawyer--very; but I must take this opportunity of informing
Mr. Gunter that he is no gentleman.'
'And I should be very sorry, Sawyer, to create any disturbance
in the street in which you reside,' said Mr. Gunter, 'but I'm
afraid I shall be under the necessity of alarming the neighbours by
throwing the person who has just spoken, out o' window.'
'What do you mean by that, sir?' inquired Mr. Noddy.
'What I say, Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.
'I should like to see you do it, Sir,' said Mr. Noddy.
'You shall FEEL me do it in half a minute, Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.
'I request that you'll favour me with your card, Sir,' said
'I'll do nothing of the kind, Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.
'Why not, Sir?' inquired Mr. Noddy.
'Because you'll stick it up over your chimney-piece, and delude
your visitors into the false belief that a gentleman has been to
see you, Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.
'Sir, a friend of mine shall wait on you in the morning,' said
'Sir, I'm very much obliged to you for the caution, and I'll
leave particular directions with the servant to lock up the spoons,'
replied Mr. Gunter.
At this point the remainder of the guests interposed, and
remonstrated with both parties on the impropriety of their
conduct; on which Mr. Noddy begged to state that his father was
quite as respectable as Mr. Gunter's father; to which Mr. Gunter
replied that his father was to the full as respectable as Mr. Noddy's
father, and that his father's son was as good a man as Mr. Noddy,
any day in the week. As this announcement seemed the prelude
to a recommencement of the dispute, there was another interference
on the part of the company; and a vast quantity of
talking and clamouring ensued, in the course of which Mr. Noddy
gradually allowed his feelings to overpower him, and professed
that he had ever entertained a devoted personal attachment
towards Mr. Gunter. To this Mr. Gunter replied that, upon the
whole, he rather preferred Mr. Noddy to his own brother; on
hearing which admission, Mr. Noddy magnanimously rose from
his seat, and proffered his hand to Mr. Gunter. Mr. Gunter
grasped it with affecting fervour; and everybody said that the
whole dispute had been conducted in a manner which was highly
honourable to both parties concerned.
'Now,' said Jack Hopkins, 'just to set us going again, Bob, I
don't mind singing a song.' And Hopkins, incited thereto by
tumultuous applause, plunged himself at once into 'The King,
God bless him,' which he sang as loud as he could, to a novel air,
compounded of the 'Bay of Biscay,' and 'A Frog he would.'
The chorus was the essence of the song; and, as each gentleman
sang it to the tune he knew best, the effect was very striking indeed.
It was at the end of the chorus to the first verse, that Mr.
Pickwick held up his hand in a listening attitude, and said, as
soon as silence was restored--
'Hush! I beg your pardon. I thought I heard somebody calling
A profound silence immediately ensued; and Mr. Bob Sawyer
was observed to turn pale.
'I think I hear it now,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Have the goodness
to open the door.'
The door was no sooner opened than all doubt on the subject
'Mr. Sawyer! Mr. Sawyer!' screamed a voice from the two-pair landing.
'It's my landlady,' said Bob Sawyer, looking round him with
great dismay. 'Yes, Mrs. Raddle.'
'What do you mean by this, Mr. Sawyer?' replied the voice,
with great shrillness and rapidity of utterance. 'Ain't it enough
to be swindled out of one's rent, and money lent out of pocket
besides, and abused and insulted by your friends that dares to
call themselves men, without having the house turned out of the
window, and noise enough made to bring the fire-engines here,
at two o'clock in the morning?--Turn them wretches away.'
'You ought to be ashamed of yourselves,' said the voice of
Mr. Raddle, which appeared to proceed from beneath some
'Ashamed of themselves!' said Mrs. Raddle. 'Why don't you
go down and knock 'em every one downstairs? You would if
you was a man.'
'I should if I was a dozen men, my dear,' replied Mr. Raddle
pacifically, 'but they have the advantage of me in numbers, my dear.'
'Ugh, you coward!' replied Mrs. Raddle, with supreme contempt.
'DO you mean to turn them wretches out, or not, Mr. Sawyer?'
'They're going, Mrs. Raddle, they're going,' said the miserable
Bob. 'I am afraid you'd better go,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer to his
friends. 'I thought you were making too much noise.'
'It's a very unfortunate thing,' said the prim man. 'Just as we
were getting so comfortable too!' The prim man was just
beginning to have a dawning recollection of the story he had forgotten.
'It's hardly to be borne,' said the prim man, looking round.
'Hardly to be borne, is it?'
'Not to be endured,' replied Jack Hopkins; 'let's have the
other verse, Bob. Come, here goes!'
'No, no, Jack, don't,' interposed Bob Sawyer; 'it's a capital
song, but I am afraid we had better not have the other verse.
They are very violent people, the people of the house.'
'Shall I step upstairs, and pitch into the landlord?' inquired
Hopkins, 'or keep on ringing the bell, or go and groan on the
staircase? You may command me, Bob.'
'I am very much indebted to you for your friendship and good-
nature, Hopkins,' said the wretched Mr. Bob Sawyer, 'but I
think the best plan to avoid any further dispute is for us to
break up at once.'
'Now, Mr. Sawyer,' screamed the shrill voice of Mrs. Raddle,
'are them brutes going?'
'They're only looking for their hats, Mrs. Raddle,' said Bob;
'they are going directly.'
'Going!' said Mrs. Raddle, thrusting her nightcap over the
banisters just as Mr. Pickwick, followed by Mr. Tupman,
emerged from the sitting-room. 'Going! what did they ever
'My dear ma'am,' remonstrated Mr. Pickwick, looking up.
'Get along with you, old wretch!' replied Mrs. Raddle, hastily
withdrawing the nightcap. 'Old enough to be his grandfather,
you willin! You're worse than any of 'em.'
Mr. Pickwick found it in vain to protest his innocence, so
hurried downstairs into the street, whither he was closely
followed by Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass.
Mr. Ben Allen, who was dismally depressed with spirits and
agitation, accompanied them as far as London Bridge, and in the
course of the walk confided to Mr. Winkle, as an especially
eligible person to intrust the secret to, that he was resolved to
cut the throat of any gentleman, except Mr. Bob Sawyer, who
should aspire to the affections of his sister Arabella. Having
expressed his determination to perform this painful duty of a
brother with proper firmness, he burst into tears, knocked his hat
over his eyes, and, making the best of his way back, knocked
double knocks at the door of the Borough Market office,
and took short naps on the steps alternately, until daybreak,
under the firm impression that he lived there, and had forgotten
The visitors having all departed, in compliance with the rather
pressing request of Mrs. Raddle, the luckless Mr. Bob Sawyer
was left alone, to meditate on the probable events of to-morrow,
and the pleasures of the evening.
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
The morning of the thirteenth of February, which the readers of
this authentic narrative know, as well as we do, to have been the day
immediately preceding that which was appointed for the trial of
Mrs. Bardell's action, was a busy time for Mr. Samuel Weller, who
was perpetually engaged in travelling from the George and Vulture to
Mr. Perker's chambers and back again, from and between the hours
of nine o'clock in the morning and two in the afternoon, both
inclusive. Not that there was anything whatever to be done, for the
consultation had taken place, and the course of proceeding to be
adopted, had been finally determined on; but Mr. Pickwick being in
a most extreme state of excitement, persevered in constantly
sending small notes to his attorney, merely containing the inquiry,
'Dear Perker. Is all going on well?' to which Mr. Perker
invariably forwarded the reply, 'Dear Pickwick. As well as
possible'; the fact being, as we have already hinted, that there
was nothing whatever to go on, either well or ill, until the
sitting of the court on the following morning.
But people who go voluntarily to law, or are taken forcibly
there, for the first time, may be allowed to labour under some
temporary irritation and anxiety; and Sam, with a due allowance
for the frailties of human nature, obeyed all his master's behests
with that imperturbable good-humour and unruffable composure
which formed one of his most striking and amiable characteristics.
Sam had solaced himself with a most agreeable little dinner,
and was waiting at the bar for the glass of warm mixture in which
Mr. Pickwick had requested him to drown the fatigues of his
morning's walks, when a young boy of about three feet high, or
thereabouts, in a hairy cap and fustian overalls, whose garb
bespoke a laudable ambition to attain in time the elevation of
an hostler, entered the passage of the George and Vulture, and
looked first up the stairs, and then along the passage, and then
into the bar, as if in search of somebody to whom he bore a
commission; whereupon the barmaid, conceiving it not
improbable that the said commission might be directed to the tea or
table spoons of the establishment, accosted the boy with--
'Now, young man, what do you want?'
'Is there anybody here, named Sam?' inquired the youth, in a
loud voice of treble quality.
'What's the t'other name?' said Sam Weller, looking round.
'How should I know?' briskly replied the young gentleman
below the hairy cap.
'You're a sharp boy, you are,' said Mr. Weller; 'only I
wouldn't show that wery fine edge too much, if I was you, in case
anybody took it off. What do you mean by comin' to a hot-el,
and asking arter Sam, vith as much politeness as a vild Indian?'
''Cos an old gen'l'm'n told me to,' replied the boy.
'What old gen'l'm'n?' inquired Sam, with deep disdain.
'Him as drives a Ipswich coach, and uses our parlour,' rejoined
the boy. 'He told me yesterday mornin' to come to the George
and Wultur this arternoon, and ask for Sam.'
'It's my father, my dear,' said Mr. Weller, turning with an
explanatory air to the young lady in the bar; 'blessed if I think
he hardly knows wot my other name is. Well, young brockiley
sprout, wot then?'
'Why then,' said the boy, 'you was to come to him at six
o'clock to our 'ouse, 'cos he wants to see you--Blue Boar,
Leaden'all Markit. Shall I say you're comin'?'
'You may wenture on that 'ere statement, Sir,' replied Sam.
And thus empowered, the young gentleman walked away,
awakening all the echoes in George Yard as he did so, with
several chaste and extremely correct imitations of a drover's
whistle, delivered in a tone of peculiar richness and volume.
Mr. Weller having obtained leave of absence from Mr. Pickwick,
who, in his then state of excitement and worry, was by no
means displeased at being left alone, set forth, long before the
appointed hour, and having plenty of time at his disposal,
sauntered down as far as the Mansion House, where he paused
and contemplated, with a face of great calmness and philosophy,
the numerous cads and drivers of short stages who assemble near
that famous place of resort, to the great terror and confusion of
the old-lady population of these realms. Having loitered here, for
half an hour or so, Mr. Weller turned, and began wending his
way towards Leadenhall Market, through a variety of by-streets
and courts. As he was sauntering away his spare time, and
stopped to look at almost every object that met his gaze, it is by
no means surprising that Mr. Weller should have paused before
a small stationer's and print-seller's window; but without further
explanation it does appear surprising that his eyes should have
no sooner rested on certain pictures which were exposed for sale
therein, than he gave a sudden start, smote his right leg with
great vehemence, and exclaimed, with energy, 'if it hadn't been
for this, I should ha' forgot all about it, till it was too late!'
The particular picture on which Sam Weller's eyes were fixed,
as he said this, was a highly-coloured representation of a couple
of human hearts skewered together with an arrow, cooking
before a cheerful fire, while a male and female cannibal in
modern attire, the gentleman being clad in a blue coat and white
trousers, and the lady in a deep red pelisse with a parasol of the
same, were approaching the meal with hungry eyes, up a serpentine
gravel path leading thereunto. A decidedly indelicate young
gentleman, in a pair of wings and nothing else, was depicted as
superintending the cooking; a representation of the spire of the
church in Langham Place, London, appeared in the distance;
and the whole formed a 'valentine,' of which, as a written
inscription in the window testified, there was a large assortment
within, which the shopkeeper pledged himself to dispose of, to his
countrymen generally, at the reduced rate of one-and-sixpence each.
'I should ha' forgot it; I should certainly ha' forgot it!' said
Sam; so saying, he at once stepped into the stationer's shop, and
requested to be served with a sheet of the best gilt-edged letter-
paper, and a hard-nibbed pen which could be warranted not to
splutter. These articles having been promptly supplied, he
walked on direct towards Leadenhall Market at a good round
pace, very different from his recent lingering one. Looking round
him, he there beheld a signboard on which the painter's art had
delineated something remotely resembling a cerulean elephant
with an aquiline nose in lieu of trunk. Rightly conjecturing that
this was the Blue Boar himself, he stepped into the house, and
inquired concerning his parent.
'He won't be here this three-quarters of an hour or more,' said
the young lady who superintended the domestic arrangements of
the Blue Boar.
'Wery good, my dear,' replied Sam. 'Let me have nine-
penn'oth o' brandy-and-water luke, and the inkstand, will you, miss?'
The brandy-and-water luke, and the inkstand, having been
carried into the little parlour, and the young lady having carefully
flattened down the coals to prevent their blazing, and carried
away the poker to preclude the possibility of the fire being stirred,
without the full privity and concurrence of the Blue Boar being
first had and obtained, Sam Weller sat himself down in a box
near the stove, and pulled out the sheet of gilt-edged letter-paper,
and the hard-nibbed pen. Then looking carefully at the pen to
see that there were no hairs in it, and dusting down the table, so
that there might be no crumbs of bread under the paper, Sam
tucked up the cuffs of his coat, squared his elbows, and composed
himself to write.
To ladies and gentlemen who are not in the habit of devoting
themselves practically to the science of penmanship, writing a
letter is no very easy task; it being always considered necessary
in such cases for the writer to recline his head on his left arm, so
as to place his eyes as nearly as possible on a level with the paper,
and, while glancing sideways at the letters he is constructing, to
form with his tongue imaginary characters to correspond. These
motions, although unquestionably of the greatest assistance to
original composition, retard in some degree the progress of the
writer; and Sam had unconsciously been a full hour and a half
writing words in small text, smearing out wrong letters with his
little finger, and putting in new ones which required going over
very often to render them visible through the old blots, when he
was roused by the opening of the door and the entrance of his parent.
'Vell, Sammy,' said the father.
'Vell, my Prooshan Blue,' responded the son, laying down his
pen. 'What's the last bulletin about mother-in-law?'
'Mrs. Veller passed a very good night, but is uncommon
perwerse, and unpleasant this mornin'. Signed upon oath, Tony
Veller, Esquire. That's the last vun as was issued, Sammy,'
replied Mr. Weller, untying his shawl.
'No better yet?' inquired Sam.
'All the symptoms aggerawated,' replied Mr. Weller, shaking
his head. 'But wot's that, you're a-doin' of? Pursuit of knowledge
under difficulties, Sammy?'
'I've done now,' said Sam, with slight embarrassment; 'I've
'So I see,' replied Mr. Weller. 'Not to any young 'ooman, I
'Why, it's no use a-sayin' it ain't,' replied Sam; 'it's a walentine.'
'A what!' exclaimed Mr. Weller, apparently horror-stricken
by the word.
'A walentine,' replied Sam.
'Samivel, Samivel,' said Mr. Weller, in reproachful accents, 'I
didn't think you'd ha' done it. Arter the warnin' you've had o'
your father's wicious propensities; arter all I've said to you upon
this here wery subject; arter actiwally seein' and bein' in the
company o' your own mother-in-law, vich I should ha' thought
wos a moral lesson as no man could never ha' forgotten to his
dyin' day! I didn't think you'd ha' done it, Sammy, I didn't
think you'd ha' done it!' These reflections were too much for the
good old man. He raised Sam's tumbler to his lips and drank off
'Wot's the matter now?' said Sam.
'Nev'r mind, Sammy,' replied Mr. Weller, 'it'll be a wery
agonisin' trial to me at my time of life, but I'm pretty tough, that's
vun consolation, as the wery old turkey remarked wen the
farmer said he wos afeerd he should be obliged to kill him for the
'Wot'll be a trial?' inquired Sam.
'To see you married, Sammy--to see you a dilluded wictim,
and thinkin' in your innocence that it's all wery capital,' replied
Mr. Weller. 'It's a dreadful trial to a father's feelin's, that 'ere,
'Nonsense,' said Sam. 'I ain't a-goin' to get married, don't you
fret yourself about that; I know you're a judge of these things.
Order in your pipe and I'll read you the letter. There!'
We cannot distinctly say whether it was the prospect of the
pipe, or the consolatory reflection that a fatal disposition to get
married ran in the family, and couldn't be helped, which calmed
Mr. Weller's feelings, and caused his grief to subside. We should
be rather disposed to say that the result was attained by combining
the two sources of consolation, for he repeated the second
in a low tone, very frequently; ringing the bell meanwhile, to
order in the first. He then divested himself of his upper coat; and
lighting the pipe and placing himself in front of the fire with his
back towards it, so that he could feel its full heat, and recline
against the mantel-piece at the same time, turned towards Sam,
and, with a countenance greatly mollified by the softening
influence of tobacco, requested him to 'fire away.'
Sam dipped his pen into the ink to be ready for any corrections,
and began with a very theatrical air--
'Stop,' said Mr. Weller, ringing the bell. 'A double glass o' the
inwariable, my dear.'
'Very well, Sir,' replied the girl; who with great quickness
appeared, vanished, returned, and disappeared.
'They seem to know your ways here,' observed Sam.
'Yes,' replied his father, 'I've been here before, in my time.
Go on, Sammy.'
'"Lovely creetur,"' repeated Sam.
''Tain't in poetry, is it?' interposed his father.
'No, no,' replied Sam.
'Wery glad to hear it,' said Mr. Weller. 'Poetry's unnat'ral; no
man ever talked poetry 'cept a beadle on boxin'-day, or Warren's
blackin', or Rowland's oil, or some of them low fellows; never
you let yourself down to talk poetry, my boy. Begin agin, Sammy.'
Mr. Weller resumed his pipe with critical solemnity, and Sam
once more commenced, and read as follows:
'"Lovely creetur I feel myself a damned--"'
'That ain't proper,' said Mr. Weller, taking his pipe from his mouth.
'No; it ain't "damned,"' observed Sam, holding the letter up
to the light, 'it's "shamed," there's a blot there--"I feel myself
'Wery good,' said Mr. Weller. 'Go on.'
'"Feel myself ashamed, and completely cir--' I forget what
this here word is,' said Sam, scratching his head with the pen,
in vain attempts to remember.
'Why don't you look at it, then?' inquired Mr. Weller.
'So I am a-lookin' at it,' replied Sam, 'but there's another blot.
Here's a "c," and a "i," and a "d."'
'Circumwented, p'raps,' suggested Mr. Weller.
'No, it ain't that,' said Sam, '"circumscribed"; that's it.'
'That ain't as good a word as "circumwented," Sammy,' said
Mr. Weller gravely.
'Think not?' said Sam.
'Nothin' like it,' replied his father.
'But don't you think it means more?' inquired Sam.
'Vell p'raps it's a more tenderer word,' said Mr. Weller, after
a few moments' reflection. 'Go on, Sammy.'
'"Feel myself ashamed and completely circumscribed in a-
dressin' of you, for you are a nice gal and nothin' but it."'
'That's a wery pretty sentiment,' said the elder Mr. Weller,
removing his pipe to make way for the remark.
'Yes, I think it is rayther good,' observed Sam, highly flattered.
Back to Full Books