The Pickwick Papers
Part 15 out of 20
On the floor of the room, a man in a broad-skirted green coat,
with corduroy knee-smalls and gray cotton stockings, was
performing the most popular steps of a hornpipe, with a slang
and burlesque caricature of grace and lightness, which, combined
with the very appropriate character of his costume, was inexpressibly
absurd. Another man, evidently very drunk, who had
probably been tumbled into bed by his companions, was sitting
up between the sheets, warbling as much as he could recollect of
a comic song, with the most intensely sentimental feeling and
expression; while a third, seated on one of the bedsteads, was
applauding both performers with the air of a profound connoisseur,
and encouraging them by such ebullitions of feeling as had
already roused Mr. Pickwick from his sleep.
This last man was an admirable specimen of a class of gentry
which never can be seen in full perfection but in such places--
they may be met with, in an imperfect state, occasionally about
stable-yards and Public-houses; but they never attain their full
bloom except in these hot-beds, which would almost seem to be
considerately provided by the legislature for the sole purpose of
He was a tall fellow, with an olive complexion, long dark hair,
and very thick bushy whiskers meeting under his chin. He wore
no neckerchief, as he had been playing rackets all day, and his
Open shirt collar displayed their full luxuriance. On his head he
wore one of the common eighteenpenny French skull-caps, with a
gaudy tassel dangling therefrom, very happily in keeping with a
common fustian coat. His legs, which, being long, were afflicted
with weakness, graced a pair of Oxford-mixture trousers, made
to show the full symmetry of those limbs. Being somewhat
negligently braced, however, and, moreover, but imperfectly
buttoned, they fell in a series of not the most graceful folds over
a pair of shoes sufficiently down at heel to display a pair of very
soiled white stockings. There was a rakish, vagabond smartness,
and a kind of boastful rascality, about the whole man, that was
worth a mine of gold.
This figure was the first to perceive that Mr. Pickwick was
looking on; upon which he winked to the Zephyr, and entreated
him, with mock gravity, not to wake the gentleman.
'Why, bless the gentleman's honest heart and soul!' said the
Zephyr, turning round and affecting the extremity of surprise;
'the gentleman is awake. Hem, Shakespeare! How do you do,
Sir? How is Mary and Sarah, sir? and the dear old lady at home,
Sir? Will you have the kindness to put my compliments into the
first little parcel you're sending that way, sir, and say that I
would have sent 'em before, only I was afraid they might be
broken in the wagon, sir?'
'Don't overwhelm the gentlemen with ordinary civilities when
you see he's anxious to have something to drink,' said the
gentleman with the whiskers, with a jocose air. 'Why don't you
ask the gentleman what he'll take?'
'Dear me, I quite forgot,' replied the other. 'What will you
take, sir? Will you take port wine, sir, or sherry wine, sir? I can
recommend the ale, sir; or perhaps you'd like to taste the porter,
sir? Allow me to have the felicity of hanging up your nightcap, Sir.'
With this, the speaker snatched that article of dress from Mr.
Pickwick's head, and fixed it in a twinkling on that of the drunken
man, who, firmly impressed with the belief that he was delighting
a numerous assembly, continued to hammer away at the comic
song in the most melancholy strains imaginable.
Taking a man's nightcap from his brow by violent means, and
adjusting it on the head of an unknown gentleman, of dirty
exterior, however ingenious a witticism in itself, is unquestionably
one of those which come under the denomination of practical
jokes. Viewing the matter precisely in this light, Mr. Pickwick,
without the slightest intimation of his purpose, sprang vigorously
out of bed, struck the Zephyr so smart a blow in the chest as to
deprive him of a considerable portion of the commodity which
sometimes bears his name, and then, recapturing his nightcap,
boldly placed himself in an attitude of defence.
'Now,' said Mr. Pickwick, gasping no less from excitement
than from the expenditure of so much energy, 'come on--both of
you--both of you!' With this liberal invitation the worthy
gentleman communicated a revolving motion to his clenched
fists, by way of appalling his antagonists with a display of science.
It might have been Mr. Pickwick's very unexpected gallantry,
or it might have been the complicated manner in which he had
got himself out of bed, and fallen all in a mass upon the hornpipe
man, that touched his adversaries. Touched they were; for,
instead of then and there making an attempt to commit man-
slaughter, as Mr. Pickwick implicitly believed they would have
done, they paused, stared at each other a short time, and finally
'Well, you're a trump, and I like you all the better for it,' said
the Zephyr. 'Now jump into bed again, or you'll catch the
rheumatics. No malice, I hope?' said the man, extending a hand
the size of the yellow clump of fingers which sometimes swings
over a glover's door.
'Certainly not,' said Mr. Pickwick, with great alacrity; for,
now that the excitement was over, he began to feel rather cool
about the legs.
'Allow me the H-onour,' said the gentleman with the whiskers,
presenting his dexter hand, and aspirating the h.
'With much pleasure, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick; and having
executed a very long and solemn shake, he got into bed again.
'My name is Smangle, sir,' said the man with the whiskers.
'Oh,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Mine is Mivins,' said the man in the stockings.
'I am delighted to hear it, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Hem,' coughed Mr. Smangle.
'Did you speak, sir?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'No, I did not, sir,' said Mr. Smangle.
All this was very genteel and pleasant; and, to make matters
still more comfortable, Mr. Smangle assured Mr. Pickwick a
great many more times that he entertained a very high respect for
the feelings of a gentleman; which sentiment, indeed, did him
infinite credit, as he could be in no wise supposed to understand them.
'Are you going through the court, sir?' inquired Mr. Smangle.
'Through the what?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Through the court--Portugal Street--the Court for Relief
of-- You know.'
'Oh, no,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'No, I am not.'
'Going out, perhaps?' suggested Mr. Mivins.
'I fear not,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'I refuse to pay some
damages, and am here in consequence.'
'Ah,' said Mr. Smangle, 'paper has been my ruin.'
'A stationer, I presume, Sir?' said Mr. Pickwick innocently.
'Stationer! No, no; confound and curse me! Not so low as that.
No trade. When I say paper, I mean bills.'
'Oh, you use the word in that sense. I see,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Damme! A gentleman must expect reverses,' said Smangle.
'What of that? Here am I in the Fleet Prison. Well; good. What
then? I'm none the worse for that, am I?'
'Not a bit,' replied Mr. Mivins. And he was quite right; for, so
far from Mr. Smangle being any the worse for it, he was something
the better, inasmuch as to qualify himself for the place, he
had attained gratuitous possession of certain articles of jewellery,
which, long before that, had found their way to the pawnbroker's.
'Well; but come,' said Mr. Smangle; 'this is dry work. Let's
rinse our mouths with a drop of burnt sherry; the last-comer shall
stand it, Mivins shall fetch it, and I'll help to drink it. That's a
fair and gentlemanlike division of labour, anyhow. Curse me!'
Unwilling to hazard another quarrel, Mr. Pickwick gladly
assented to the proposition, and consigned the money to Mr.
Mivins, who, as it was nearly eleven o'clock, lost no time in
repairing to the coffee-room on his errand.
'I say,' whispered Smangle, the moment his friend had left the
room; 'what did you give him?'
'Half a sovereign,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'He's a devilish pleasant gentlemanly dog,' said Mr. Smangle;--
'infernal pleasant. I don't know anybody more so; but--'
Here Mr. Smangle stopped short, and shook his head dubiously.
'You don't think there is any probability of his appropriating
the money to his own use?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Oh, no! Mind, I don't say that; I expressly say that he's a
devilish gentlemanly fellow,' said Mr. Smangle. 'But I think,
perhaps, if somebody went down, just to see that he didn't dip
his beak into the jug by accident, or make some confounded
mistake in losing the money as he came upstairs, it would be as
well. Here, you sir, just run downstairs, and look after that
gentleman, will you?'
This request was addressed to a little timid-looking, nervous
man, whose appearance bespoke great poverty, and who had
been crouching on his bedstead all this while, apparently
stupefied by the novelty of his situation.
'You know where the coffee-room is,' said Smangle; 'just run
down, and tell that gentleman you've come to help him up with
the jug. Or--stop--I'll tell you what--I'll tell you how we'll do
him,' said Smangle, with a cunning look.
'How?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Send down word that he's to spend the change in cigars.
Capital thought. Run and tell him that; d'ye hear? They shan't
be wasted,' continued Smangle, turning to Mr. Pickwick. 'I'LL
This manoeuvring was so exceedingly ingenious and, withal,
performed with such immovable composure and coolness, that
Mr. Pickwick would have had no wish to disturb it, even if he had
had the power. In a short time Mr. Mivins returned, bearing the
sherry, which Mr. Smangle dispensed in two little cracked mugs;
considerately remarking, with reference to himself, that a
gentleman must not be particular under such circumstances, and
that, for his part, he was not too proud to drink out of the jug.
In which, to show his sincerity, he forthwith pledged the company
in a draught which half emptied it.
An excellent understanding having been by these means
promoted, Mr. Smangle proceeded to entertain his hearers with
a relation of divers romantic adventures in which he had been
from time to time engaged, involving various interesting anecdotes
of a thoroughbred horse, and a magnificent Jewess, both of
surpassing beauty, and much coveted by the nobility and gentry
of these kingdoms.
Long before these elegant extracts from the biography of a
gentleman were concluded, Mr. Mivins had betaken himself to
bed, and had set in snoring for the night, leaving the timid
stranger and Mr. Pickwick to the full benefit of Mr. Smangle's
Nor were the two last-named gentlemen as much edified as
they might have been by the moving passages narrated. Mr.
Pickwick had been in a state of slumber for some time, when he
had a faint perception of the drunken man bursting out afresh
with the comic song, and receiving from Mr. Smangle a gentle
intimation, through the medium of the water-jug, that his
audience was not musically disposed. Mr. Pickwick then once
again dropped off to sleep, with a confused consciousness that
Mr. Smangle was still engaged in relating a long story, the chief
point of which appeared to be that, on some occasion particularly
stated and set forth, he had 'done' a bill and a gentleman at the
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
When Mr. Pickwick opened his eyes next morning, the first object
upon which they rested was Samuel Weller, seated upon a small
black portmanteau, intently regarding, apparently in a condition
of profound abstraction, the stately figure of the dashing Mr.
Smangle; while Mr. Smangle himself, who was already partially
dressed, was seated on his bedstead, occupied in the desperately
hopeless attempt of staring Mr. Weller out of countenance. We
say desperately hopeless, because Sam, with a comprehensive gaze
which took in Mr. Smangle's cap, feet, head, face, legs, and
whiskers, all at the same time, continued to look steadily on,
with every demonstration of lively satisfaction, but with no
more regard to Mr. Smangle's personal sentiments on the subject
than he would have displayed had he been inspecting a wooden
statue, or a straw-embowelled Guy Fawkes.
'Well; will you know me again?' said Mr. Smangle, with a frown.
'I'd svear to you anyveres, Sir,' replied Sam cheerfully.
'Don't be impertinent to a gentleman, Sir,' said Mr. Smangle.
'Not on no account,' replied Sam. 'if you'll tell me wen he
wakes, I'll be upon the wery best extra-super behaviour!' This
observation, having a remote tendency to imply that Mr.
Smangle was no gentleman, kindled his ire.
'Mivins!' said Mr. Smangle, with a passionate air.
'What's the office?' replied that gentleman from his couch.
'Who the devil is this fellow?'
''Gad,' said Mr. Mivins, looking lazily out from under the
bed-clothes, 'I ought to ask YOU that. Hasn't he any business here?'
'No,' replied Mr. Smangle.
'Then knock him downstairs, and tell him not to presume to
get up till I come and kick him,' rejoined Mr. Mivins; with this
prompt advice that excellent gentleman again betook himself to slumber.
The conversation exhibiting these unequivocal symptoms of
verging on the personal, Mr. Pickwick deemed it a fit point at
which to interpose.
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Sir,' rejoined that gentleman.
'Has anything new occurred since last night?'
'Nothin' partickler, sir,' replied Sam, glancing at Mr. Smangle's
whiskers; 'the late prewailance of a close and confined atmosphere
has been rayther favourable to the growth of veeds, of an
alarmin' and sangvinary natur; but vith that 'ere exception
things is quiet enough.'
'I shall get up,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'give me some clean things.'
Whatever hostile intentions Mr. Smangle might have entertained,
his thoughts were speedily diverted by the unpacking
of the portmanteau; the contents of which appeared to impress
him at once with a most favourable opinion, not only of Mr.
Pickwick, but of Sam also, who, he took an early opportunity
of declaring in a tone of voice loud enough for that eccentric
personage to overhear, was a regular thoroughbred original,
and consequently the very man after his own heart. As
to Mr. Pickwick, the affection he conceived for him knew no limits.
'Now is there anything I can do for you, my dear Sir?' said Smangle.
'Nothing that I am aware of, I am obliged to you,' replied
'No linen that you want sent to the washerwoman's? I know a
delightful washerwoman outside, that comes for my things twice
a week; and, by Jove!--how devilish lucky!--this is the day she
calls. Shall I put any of those little things up with mine? Don't
say anything about the trouble. Confound and curse it! if one
gentleman under a cloud is not to put himself a little out of the
way to assist another gentleman in the same condition, what's
Thus spake Mr. Smangle, edging himself meanwhile as near as
possible to the portmanteau, and beaming forth looks of the
most fervent and disinterested friendship.
'There's nothing you want to give out for the man to brush,
my dear creature, is there?' resumed Smangle.
'Nothin' whatever, my fine feller,' rejoined Sam, taking the
reply into his own mouth. 'P'raps if vun of us wos to brush,
without troubling the man, it 'ud be more agreeable for all
parties, as the schoolmaster said when the young gentleman
objected to being flogged by the butler.'
'And there's nothing I can send in my little box to the washer-
woman's, is there?' said Smangle, turning from Sam to Mr.
Pickwick, with an air of some discomfiture.
'Nothin' whatever, Sir,' retorted Sam; 'I'm afeered the little
box must be chock full o' your own as it is.'
This speech was accompanied with such a very expressive look
at that particular portion of Mr. Smangle's attire, by the appearance
of which the skill of laundresses in getting up gentlemen's
linen is generally tested, that he was fain to turn upon his heel,
and, for the present at any rate, to give up all design on Mr.
Pickwick's purse and wardrobe. He accordingly retired in
dudgeon to the racket-ground, where he made a light and whole-
some breakfast on a couple of the cigars which had been purchased
on the previous night.
Mr. Mivins, who was no smoker, and whose account for small
articles of chandlery had also reached down to the bottom of the
slate, and been 'carried over' to the other side, remained in bed,
and, in his own words, 'took it out in sleep.'
After breakfasting in a small closet attached to the coffee-
room, which bore the imposing title of the Snuggery, the temporary
inmate of which, in consideration of a small additional
charge, had the unspeakable advantage of overhearing all the
conversation in the coffee-room aforesaid; and, after despatching
Mr. Weller on some necessary errands, Mr. Pickwick repaired to
the lodge, to consult Mr. Roker concerning his future accommodation.
'Accommodation, eh?' said that gentleman, consulting a large
book. 'Plenty of that, Mr. Pickwick. Your chummage ticket will
be on twenty-seven, in the third.'
'Oh,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'My what, did you say?'
'Your chummage ticket,' replied Mr. Roker; 'you're up to
'Not quite,' replied Mr. Pickwick, with a smile.
'Why,' said Mr. Roker, 'it's as plain as Salisbury. You'll have
a chummage ticket upon twenty-seven in the third, and them as
is in the room will be your chums.'
'Are there many of them?' inquired Mr. Pickwick dubiously.
'Three,' replied Mr. Roker.
Mr. Pickwick coughed.
'One of 'em's a parson,' said Mr. Roker, filling up a little piece
of paper as he spoke; 'another's a butcher.'
'Eh?' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.
'A butcher,' repeated Mr. Roker, giving the nib of his pen a
tap on the desk to cure it of a disinclination to mark. 'What a
thorough-paced goer he used to be sure-ly! You remember Tom
Martin, Neddy?' said Roker, appealing to another man in the
lodge, who was paring the mud off his shoes with a five-and-
'I should think so,' replied the party addressed, with a strong
emphasis on the personal pronoun.
'Bless my dear eyes!' said Mr. Roker, shaking his head slowly
from side to side, and gazing abstractedly out of the grated
windows before him, as if he were fondly recalling some peaceful
scene of his early youth; 'it seems but yesterday that he whopped
the coal-heaver down Fox-under-the-Hill by the wharf there.
I think I can see him now, a-coming up the Strand between
the two street-keepers, a little sobered by the bruising, with
a patch o' winegar and brown paper over his right eyelid, and
that 'ere lovely bulldog, as pinned the little boy arterwards,
a-following at his heels. What a rum thing time is, ain't it, Neddy?'
The gentleman to whom these observations were addressed,
who appeared of a taciturn and thoughtful cast, merely echoed
the inquiry; Mr. Roker, shaking off the poetical and gloomy
train of thought into which he had been betrayed, descended to
the common business of life, and resumed his pen.
'Do you know what the third gentlemen is?' inquired Mr.
Pickwick, not very much gratified by this description of his
'What is that Simpson, Neddy?' said Mr. Roker, turning to his
'What Simpson?' said Neddy.
'Why, him in twenty-seven in the third, that this gentleman's
going to be chummed on.'
'Oh, him!' replied Neddy; 'he's nothing exactly. He WAS a
horse chaunter: he's a leg now.'
'Ah, so I thought,' rejoined Mr. Roker, closing the book, and
placing the small piece of paper in Mr. Pickwick's hands. 'That's
the ticket, sir.'
Very much perplexed by this summary disposition of this
person, Mr. Pickwick walked back into the prison, revolving in
his mind what he had better do. Convinced, however, that before
he took any other steps it would be advisable to see, and hold
personal converse with, the three gentlemen with whom it was
proposed to quarter him, he made the best of his way to the third flight.
After groping about in the gallery for some time, attempting in
the dim light to decipher the numbers on the different doors, he
at length appealed to a pot-boy, who happened to be pursuing
his morning occupation of gleaning for pewter.
'Which is twenty-seven, my good fellow?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Five doors farther on,' replied the pot-boy. 'There's the
likeness of a man being hung, and smoking the while, chalked
outside the door.'
Guided by this direction, Mr. Pickwick proceeded slowly along
the gallery until he encountered the 'portrait of a gentleman,'
above described, upon whose countenance he tapped, with the
knuckle of his forefinger--gently at first, and then audibly. After
repeating this process several times without effect, he ventured to
open the door and peep in.
There was only one man in the room, and he was leaning out
of window as far as he could without overbalancing himself,
endeavouring, with great perseverance, to spit upon the crown
of the hat of a personal friend on the parade below. As neither
speaking, coughing, sneezing, knocking, nor any other ordinary
mode of attracting attention, made this person aware of the
presence of a visitor, Mr. Pickwick, after some delay, stepped up
to the window, and pulled him gently by the coat tail. The
individual brought in his head and shoulders with great swiftness,
and surveying Mr. Pickwick from head to foot, demanded in a
surly tone what the--something beginning with a capital H--he wanted.
'I believe,' said Mr. Pickwick, consulting his ticket--'I believe
this is twenty-seven in the third?'
'Well?' replied the gentleman.
'I have come here in consequence of receiving this bit of
paper,' rejoined Mr. Pickwick.
'Hand it over,' said the gentleman.
Mr. Pickwick complied.
'I think Roker might have chummed you somewhere else,' said
Mr. Simpson (for it was the leg), after a very discontented sort of
Mr. Pickwick thought so also; but, under all the circumstances,
he considered it a matter of sound policy to be silent.
Mr. Simpson mused for a few moments after this, and then,
thrusting his head out of the window, gave a shrill whistle, and
pronounced some word aloud, several times. What the word was,
Mr. Pickwick could not distinguish; but he rather inferred that
it must be some nickname which distinguished Mr. Martin, from
the fact of a great number of gentlemen on the ground below,
immediately proceeding to cry 'Butcher!' in imitation of the tone
in which that useful class of society are wont, diurnally, to make
their presence known at area railings.
Subsequent occurrences confirmed the accuracy of Mr. Pickwick's
impression; for, in a few seconds, a gentleman, prematurely
broad for his years, clothed in a professional blue jean frock and
top-boots with circular toes, entered the room nearly out of
breath, closely followed by another gentleman in very shabby
black, and a sealskin cap. The latter gentleman, who fastened his
coat all the way up to his chin by means of a pin and a button
alternately, had a very coarse red face, and looked like a drunken
chaplain; which, indeed, he was.
These two gentlemen having by turns perused Mr. Pickwick's
billet, the one expressed his opinion that it was 'a rig,' and the
other his conviction that it was 'a go.' Having recorded their
feelings in these very intelligible terms, they looked at Mr.
Pickwick and each other in awkward silence.
'It's an aggravating thing, just as we got the beds so snug,' said
the chaplain, looking at three dirty mattresses, each rolled up in
a blanket; which occupied one corner of the room during the day,
and formed a kind of slab, on which were placed an old cracked
basin, ewer, and soap-dish, of common yellow earthenware, with
a blue flower--'very aggravating.'
Mr. Martin expressed the same opinion in rather stronger
terms; Mr. Simpson, after having let a variety of expletive
adjectives loose upon society without any substantive to accompany
them, tucked up his sleeves, and began to wash the greens
While this was going on, Mr. Pickwick had been eyeing the
room, which was filthily dirty, and smelt intolerably close. There
was no vestige of either carpet, curtain, or blind. There was not
even a closet in it. Unquestionably there were but few things to
put away, if there had been one; but, however few in number, or
small in individual amount, still, remnants of loaves and pieces
of cheese, and damp towels, and scrags of meat, and articles of
wearing apparel, and mutilated crockery, and bellows without
nozzles, and toasting-forks without prongs, do present somewhat
of an uncomfortable appearance when they are scattered about
the floor of a small apartment, which is the common sitting and
sleeping room of three idle men.
'I suppose this can be managed somehow,' said the butcher,
after a pretty long silence. 'What will you take to go out?'
'I beg your pardon,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'What did you say?
I hardly understand you.'
'What will you take to be paid out?' said the butcher. 'The
regular chummage is two-and-six. Will you take three bob?'
'And a bender,' suggested the clerical gentleman.
'Well, I don't mind that; it's only twopence a piece more,' said
Mr. Martin. 'What do you say, now? We'll pay you out for
three-and-sixpence a week. Come!'
'And stand a gallon of beer down,' chimed in Mr. Simpson.
'And drink it on the spot,' said the chaplain. 'Now!'
'I really am so wholly ignorant of the rules of this place,'
returned Mr. Pickwick, 'that I do not yet comprehend you. Can
I live anywhere else? I thought I could not.'
At this inquiry Mr. Martin looked, with a countenance of
excessive surprise, at his two friends, and then each gentleman
pointed with his right thumb over his left shoulder. This action
imperfectly described in words by the very feeble term of 'over
the left,' when performed by any number of ladies or gentlemen
who are accustomed to act in unison, has a very graceful and airy
effect; its expression is one of light and playful sarcasm.
'CAN you!' repeated Mr. Martin, with a smile of pity.
'Well, if I knew as little of life as that, I'd eat my hat and
swallow the buckle whole,' said the clerical gentleman.
'So would I,' added the sporting one solemnly.
After this introductory preface, the three chums informed Mr.
Pickwick, in a breath, that money was, in the Fleet, just what
money was out of it; that it would instantly procure him almost
anything he desired; and that, supposing he had it, and had no
objection to spend it, if he only signified his wish to have a room
to himself, he might take possession of one, furnished and fitted
to boot, in half an hour's time.
With this the parties separated, very much to their common
satisfaction; Mr. Pickwick once more retracing his steps to the
lodge, and the three companions adjourning to the coffee-room,
there to spend the five shillings which the clerical gentleman had,
with admirable prudence and foresight, borrowed of him for the purpose.
'I knowed it!' said Mr. Roker, with a chuckle, when Mr.
Pickwick stated the object with which he had returned. 'Didn't I
say so, Neddy?'
The philosophical owner of the universal penknife growled an
'I knowed you'd want a room for yourself, bless you!' said
Mr. Roker. 'Let me see. You'll want some furniture. You'll hire
that of me, I suppose? That's the reg'lar thing.'
'With great pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'There's a capital room up in the coffee-room flight, that
belongs to a Chancery prisoner,' said Mr. Roker. 'It'll stand you
in a pound a week. I suppose you don't mind that?'
'Not at all,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Just step there with me,' said Roker, taking up his hat with
great alacrity; 'the matter's settled in five minutes. Lord! why
didn't you say at first that you was willing to come down handsome?'
The matter was soon arranged, as the turnkey had foretold.
The Chancery prisoner had been there long enough to have lost
his friends, fortune, home, and happiness, and to have acquired
the right of having a room to himself. As he laboured, however,
under the inconvenience of often wanting a morsel of bread, he
eagerly listened to Mr. Pickwick's proposal to rent the apartment,
and readily covenanted and agreed to yield him up the sole and
undisturbed possession thereof, in consideration of the weekly
payment of twenty shillings; from which fund he furthermore
contracted to pay out any person or persons that might be
chummed upon it.
As they struck the bargain, Mr. Pickwick surveyed him with a
painful interest. He was a tall, gaunt, cadaverous man, in an old
greatcoat and slippers, with sunken cheeks, and a restless, eager
eye. His lips were bloodless, and his bones sharp and thin. God
help him! the iron teeth of confinement and privation had been
slowly filing him down for twenty years.
'And where will you live meanwhile, Sir?' said Mr. Pickwick,
as he laid the amount of the first week's rent, in advance, on the
The man gathered up the money with a trembling hand, and
replied that he didn't know yet; he must go and see where he
could move his bed to.
'I am afraid, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, laying his hand gently and
compassionately on his arm--'I am afraid you will have to live in
some noisy, crowded place. Now, pray, consider this room your
own when you want quiet, or when any of your friends come to
'Friends!' interposed the man, in a voice which rattled in his
throat. 'if I lay dead at the bottom of the deepest mine in the
world; tight screwed down and soldered in my coffin; rotting in
the dark and filthy ditch that drags its slime along, beneath the
foundations of this prison; I could not be more forgotten or
unheeded than I am here. I am a dead man; dead to society,
without the pity they bestow on those whose souls have passed to
judgment. Friends to see me! My God! I have sunk, from the
prime of life into old age, in this place, and there is not one to
raise his hand above my bed when I lie dead upon it, and say,
"It is a blessing he is gone!"'
The excitement, which had cast an unwonted light over the
man's face, while he spoke, subsided as he concluded; and
pressing his withered hands together in a hasty and disordered
manner, he shuffled from the room.
'Rides rather rusty,' said Mr. Roker, with a smile. 'Ah! they're
like the elephants. They feel it now and then, and it makes 'em wild!'
Having made this deeply-sympathising remark, Mr. Roker
entered upon his arrangements with such expedition, that in a
short time the room was furnished with a carpet, six chairs, a
table, a sofa bedstead, a tea-kettle, and various small articles, on
hire, at the very reasonable rate of seven-and-twenty shillings and
sixpence per week.
'Now, is there anything more we can do for you?' inquired
Mr. Roker, looking round with great satisfaction, and gaily
chinking the first week's hire in his closed fist.
'Why, yes,' said Mr. Pickwick, who had been musing deeply
for some time. 'Are there any people here who run on errands,
and so forth?'
'Outside, do you mean?' inquired Mr. Roker.
'Yes. I mean who are able to go outside. Not prisoners.'
'Yes, there is,' said Roker. 'There's an unfortunate devil, who
has got a friend on the poor side, that's glad to do anything of
that sort. He's been running odd jobs, and that, for the last two
months. Shall I send him?'
'If you please,' rejoined Mr. Pickwick. 'Stay; no. The poor
side, you say? I should like to see it. I'll go to him myself.'
The poor side of a debtor's prison is, as its name imports, that
in which the most miserable and abject class of debtors are
confined. A prisoner having declared upon the poor side, pays
neither rent nor chummage. His fees, upon entering and leaving
the jail, are reduced in amount, and he becomes entitled to a share
of some small quantities of food: to provide which, a few
charitable persons have, from time to time, left trifling legacies in
their wills. Most of our readers will remember, that, until within a
very few years past, there was a kind of iron cage in the wall of
the Fleet Prison, within which was posted some man of hungry
looks, who, from time to time, rattled a money-box, and
exclaimed in a mournful voice, 'Pray, remember the poor debtors;
pray remember the poor debtors.' The receipts of this box, when
there were any, were divided among the poor prisoners; and the
men on the poor side relieved each other in this degrading office.
Although this custom has been abolished, and the cage is now
boarded up, the miserable and destitute condition of these
unhappy persons remains the same. We no longer suffer them to
appeal at the prison gates to the charity and compassion of the
passersby; but we still leave unblotted the leaves of our statute
book, for the reverence and admiration of succeeding ages, the
just and wholesome law which declares that the sturdy felon shall
be fed and clothed, and that the penniless debtor shall be left to
die of starvation and nakedness. This is no fiction. Not a week
passes over our head, but, in every one of our prisons for debt,
some of these men must inevitably expire in the slow agonies of
want, if they were not relieved by their fellow-prisoners.
Turning these things in his mind, as he mounted the narrow
staircase at the foot of which Roker had left him, Mr. Pickwick
gradually worked himself to the boiling-over point; and so
excited was he with his reflections on this subject, that he had
burst into the room to which he had been directed, before he had
any distinct recollection, either of the place in which he was, or of
the object of his visit.
The general aspect of the room recalled him to himself at once;
but he had no sooner cast his eye on the figure of a man who was
brooding over the dusty fire, than, letting his hat fall on the floor,
he stood perfectly fixed and immovable with astonishment.
Yes; in tattered garments, and without a coat; his common
calico shirt, yellow and in rags; his hair hanging over his face;
his features changed with suffering, and pinched with famine--
there sat Mr. Alfred Jingle; his head resting on his hands, his eyes
fixed upon the fire, and his whole appearance denoting misery
Near him, leaning listlessly against the wall, stood a strong-
built countryman, flicking with a worn-out hunting-whip the
top-boot that adorned his right foot; his left being thrust into an
old slipper. Horses, dogs, and drink had brought him there,
pell-mell. There was a rusty spur on the solitary boot, which he
occasionally jerked into the empty air, at the same time giving
the boot a smart blow, and muttering some of the sounds by
which a sportsman encourages his horse. He was riding, in
imagination, some desperate steeplechase at that moment. Poor
wretch! He never rode a match on the swiftest animal in his costly
stud, with half the speed at which he had torn along the course
that ended in the Fleet.
On the opposite side of the room an old man was seated on a
small wooden box, with his eyes riveted on the floor, and his face
settled into an expression of the deepest and most hopeless
despair. A young girl--his little grand-daughter--was hanging
about him, endeavouring, with a thousand childish devices, to
engage his attention; but the old man neither saw nor heard her.
The voice that had been music to him, and the eyes that had been
light, fell coldly on his senses. His limbs were shaking with
disease, and the palsy had fastened on his mind.
There were two or three other men in the room, congregated in
a little knot, and noiselessly talking among themselves. There was
a lean and haggard woman, too--a prisoner's wife--who was
watering, with great solicitude, the wretched stump of a dried-up,
withered plant, which, it was plain to see, could never send forth
a green leaf again--too true an emblem, perhaps, of the office
she had come there to discharge.
Such were the objects which presented themselves to Mr.
Pickwick's view, as he looked round him in amazement. The
noise of some one stumbling hastily into the room, roused him.
Turning his eyes towards the door, they encountered the new-
comer; and in him, through his rags and dirt, he recognised the
familiar features of Mr. Job Trotter.
'Mr. Pickwick!' exclaimed Job aloud.
'Eh?' said Jingle, starting from his seat. 'Mr --! So it is--
queer place--strange things--serves me right--very.' Mr. Jingle
thrust his hands into the place where his trousers pockets used to
be, and, dropping his chin upon his breast, sank back into his chair.
Mr. Pickwick was affected; the two men looked so very miserable.
The sharp, involuntary glance Jingle had cast at a small
piece of raw loin of mutton, which Job had brought in with him,
said more of their reduced state than two hours' explanation
could have done. Mr. Pickwick looked mildly at Jingle, and said--
'I should like to speak to you in private. Will you step out for
'Certainly,' said Jingle, rising hastily. 'Can't step far--no
danger of overwalking yourself here--spike park--grounds
pretty--romantic, but not extensive--open for public inspection
--family always in town--housekeeper desperately careful--very.'
'You have forgotten your coat,' said Mr. Pickwick, as they
walked out to the staircase, and closed the door after them.
'Eh?' said Jingle. 'Spout--dear relation--uncle Tom--
couldn't help it--must eat, you know. Wants of nature--and all that.'
'What do you mean?'
'Gone, my dear sir--last coat--can't help it. Lived on a pair of
boots--whole fortnight. Silk umbrella--ivory handle--week--
fact--honour--ask Job--knows it.'
'Lived for three weeks upon a pair of boots, and a silk umbrella
with an ivory handle!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, who had only
heard of such things in shipwrecks or read of them in Constable's
'True,' said Jingle, nodding his head. 'Pawnbroker's shop--
duplicates here--small sums--mere nothing--all rascals.'
'Oh,' said Mr. Pickwick, much relieved by this explanation; 'I
understand you. You have pawned your wardrobe.'
'Everything--Job's too--all shirts gone--never mind--saves
washing. Nothing soon--lie in bed--starve--die--inquest--little
bone-house--poor prisoner--common necessaries--hush it up--
gentlemen of the jury--warden's tradesmen--keep it snug--
natural death--coroner's order--workhouse funeral--serve him
right--all over--drop the curtain.'
Jingle delivered this singular summary of his prospects in life,
with his accustomed volubility, and with various twitches of the
countenance to counterfeit smiles. Mr. Pickwick easily perceived
that his recklessness was assumed, and looking him full, but not
unkindly, in the face, saw that his eyes were moist with tears.
'Good fellow,' said Jingle, pressing his hand, and turning his
head away. 'Ungrateful dog--boyish to cry--can't help it--bad
fever--weak--ill--hungry. Deserved it all--but suffered much--very.'
Wholly unable to keep up appearances any longer, and
perhaps rendered worse by the effort he had made, the dejected
stroller sat down on the stairs, and, covering his face with his
hands, sobbed like a child.
'Come, come,' said Mr. Pickwick, with considerable emotion,
'we will see what can be done, when I know all about the matter.
Here, Job; where is that fellow?'
'Here, sir,' replied Job, presenting himself on the staircase. We
have described him, by the bye, as having deeply-sunken eyes, in
the best of times. In his present state of want and distress, he
looked as if those features had gone out of town altogether.
'Here, sir,' cried Job.
'Come here, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, trying to look stern, with
four large tears running down his waistcoat. 'Take that, sir.'
Take what? In the ordinary acceptation of such language, it
should have been a blow. As the world runs, it ought to have
been a sound, hearty cuff; for Mr. Pickwick had been duped,
deceived, and wronged by the destitute outcast who was now
wholly in his power. Must we tell the truth? It was something
from Mr. Pickwick's waistcoat pocket, which chinked as it was
given into Job's hand, and the giving of which, somehow or other
imparted a sparkle to the eye, and a swelling to the heart, of our
excellent old friend, as he hurried away.
Sam had returned when Mr. Pickwick reached his own room,
and was inspecting the arrangements that had been made for his
comfort, with a kind of grim satisfaction which was very pleasant
to look upon. Having a decided objection to his master's being
there at all, Mr. Weller appeared to consider it a high moral duty
not to appear too much pleased with anything that was done,
said, suggested, or proposed.
'Well, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Well, sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
'Pretty comfortable now, eh, Sam?'
'Pretty vell, sir,' responded Sam, looking round him in a
'Have you seen Mr. Tupman and our other friends?'
'Yes, I HAVE seen 'em, sir, and they're a-comin' to-morrow, and
wos wery much surprised to hear they warn't to come to-day,'
'You have brought the things I wanted?'
Mr. Weller in reply pointed to various packages which he had
arranged, as neatly as he could, in a corner of the room.
'Very well, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, after a little hesitation;
'listen to what I am going to say, Sam.'
'Cert'nly, Sir,' rejoined Mr. Weller; 'fire away, Sir.'
'I have felt from the first, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, with much
solemnity, 'that this is not the place to bring a young man to.'
'Nor an old 'un neither, Sir,' observed Mr. Weller.
'You're quite right, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'but old men
may come here through their own heedlessness and unsuspicion,
and young men may be brought here by the selfishness of those
they serve. It is better for those young men, in every point of
view, that they should not remain here. Do you understand me, Sam?'
'Vy no, Sir, I do NOT,' replied Mr. Weller doggedly.
'Try, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Vell, sir,' rejoined Sam, after a short pause, 'I think I see your
drift; and if I do see your drift, it's my 'pinion that you're a-
comin' it a great deal too strong, as the mail-coachman said to
the snowstorm, ven it overtook him.'
'I see you comprehend me, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Independently
of my wish that you should not be idling about a place
like this, for years to come, I feel that for a debtor in the Fleet to
be attended by his manservant is a monstrous absurdity. Sam,'
said Mr. Pickwick, 'for a time you must leave me.'
'Oh, for a time, eh, sir?'rejoined Mr. Weller. rather sarcastically.
'Yes, for the time that I remain here,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Your wages I shall continue to pay. Any one of my three friends
will be happy to take you, were it only out of respect to me. And
if I ever do leave this place, Sam,' added Mr. Pickwick, with
assumed cheerfulness--'if I do, I pledge you my word that you
shall return to me instantly.'
'Now I'll tell you wot it is, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, in a grave and
solemn voice. 'This here sort o' thing won't do at all, so don't
let's hear no more about it.'
'I am serious, and resolved, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'You air, air you, sir?' inquired Mr. Weller firmly. 'Wery good,
Sir; then so am I.'
Thus speaking, Mr. Weller fixed his hat on his head with great
precision, and abruptly left the room.
'Sam!' cried Mr. Pickwick, calling after him, 'Sam! Here!'
But the long gallery ceased to re-echo the sound of footsteps.
Sam Weller was gone.
SHOWING HOW Mr. SAMUEL WELLER GOT INTO DIFFICULTIES
In a lofty room, ill-lighted and worse ventilated, situated in
Portugal Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, there sit nearly the
whole year round, one, two, three, or four gentlemen in wigs,
as the case may be, with little writing-desks before them,
constructed after the fashion of those used by the judges of the land,
barring the French polish. There is a box of barristers on their
right hand; there is an enclosure of insolvent debtors on their left;
and there is an inclined plane of most especially dirty faces in
their front. These gentlemen are the Commissioners of the
Insolvent Court, and the place in which they sit, is the Insolvent
It is, and has been, time out of mind, the remarkable fate of
this court to be, somehow or other, held and understood, by the
general consent of all the destitute shabby-genteel people in
London, as their common resort, and place of daily refuge. It is
always full. The steams of beer and spirits perpetually ascend to
the ceiling, and, being condensed by the heat, roll down the walls
like rain; there are more old suits of clothes in it at one time,
than will be offered for sale in all Houndsditch in a twelvemonth;
more unwashed skins and grizzly beards than all the pumps and
shaving-shops between Tyburn and Whitechapel could render
decent, between sunrise and sunset.
It must not be supposed that any of these people have the least
shadow of business in, or the remotest connection with, the place
they so indefatigably attend. If they had, it would be no matter of
surprise, and the singularity of the thing would cease. Some of
them sleep during the greater part of the sitting; others carry
small portable dinners wrapped in pocket-handkerchiefs or
sticking out of their worn-out pockets, and munch and listen
with equal relish; but no one among them was ever known to have
the slightest personal interest in any case that was ever brought
forward. Whatever they do, there they sit from the first moment
to the last. When it is heavy, rainy weather, they all come in, wet
through; and at such times the vapours of the court are like those
of a fungus-pit.
A casual visitor might suppose this place to be a temple
dedicated to the Genius of Seediness. There is not a messenger or
process-server attached to it, who wears a coat that was made for
him; not a tolerably fresh, or wholesome-looking man in the
whole establishment, except a little white-headed apple-faced
tipstaff, and even he, like an ill-conditioned cherry preserved in
brandy, seems to have artificially dried and withered up into a
state of preservation to which he can lay no natural claim. The
very barristers' wigs are ill-powdered, and their curls lack crispness.
But the attorneys, who sit at a large bare table below the
commissioners, are, after all, the greatest curiosities. The professional
establishment of the more opulent of these gentlemen, consists of
a blue bag and a boy; generally a youth of the Jewish persuasion.
They have no fixed offices, their legal business being transacted
in the parlours of public-houses, or the yards of prisons, whither
they repair in crowds, and canvass for customers after the manner
of omnibus cads. They are of a greasy and mildewed appearance;
and if they can be said to have any vices at all, perhaps drinking
and cheating are the most conspicuous among them. Their
residences are usually on the outskirts of 'the Rules,' chiefly
lying within a circle of one mile from the obelisk in St. George's
Fields. Their looks are not prepossessing, and their manners
Mr. Solomon Pell, one of this learned body, was a fat, flabby,
pale man, in a surtout which looked green one minute, and
brown the next, with a velvet collar of the same chameleon tints.
His forehead was narrow, his face wide, his head large, and his
nose all on one side, as if Nature, indignant with the propensities
she observed in him in his birth, had given it an angry tweak
which it had never recovered. Being short-necked and asthmatic,
however, he respired principally through this feature; so, perhaps,
what it wanted in ornament, it made up in usefulness.
'I'm sure to bring him through it,' said Mr. Pell.
'Are you, though?' replied the person to whom the assurance
'Certain sure,' replied Pell; 'but if he'd gone to any irregular
practitioner, mind you, I wouldn't have answered for the consequences.'
'Ah!' said the other, with open mouth.
'No, that I wouldn't,' said Mr. Pell; and he pursed up his lips,
frowned, and shook his head mysteriously.
Now, the place where this discourse occurred was the public-
house just opposite to the Insolvent Court; and the person with
whom it was held was no other than the elder Mr. Weller, who
had come there, to comfort and console a friend, whose petition
to be discharged under the act, was to be that day heard, and whose
attorney he was at that moment consulting.
'And vere is George?' inquired the old gentleman.
Mr. Pell jerked his head in the direction of a back parlour,
whither Mr. Weller at once repairing, was immediately greeted
in the warmest and most flattering manner by some half-dozen
of his professional brethren, in token of their gratification at his
arrival. The insolvent gentleman, who had contracted a speculative
but imprudent passion for horsing long stages, which had
led to his present embarrassments, looked extremely well, and
was soothing the excitement of his feelings with shrimps and porter.
The salutation between Mr. Weller and his friends was strictly
confined to the freemasonry of the craft; consisting of a jerking
round of the right wrist, and a tossing of the little finger into the
air at the same time. We once knew two famous coachmen (they
are dead now, poor fellows) who were twins, and between whom
an unaffected and devoted attachment existed. They passed
each other on the Dover road, every day, for twenty-four years,
never exchanging any other greeting than this; and yet, when
one died, the other pined away, and soon afterwards followed him!
'Vell, George,' said Mr. Weller senior, taking off his upper
coat, and seating himself with his accustomed gravity. 'How is it?
All right behind, and full inside?'
'All right, old feller,' replied the embarrassed gentleman.
'Is the gray mare made over to anybody?' inquired Mr. Weller
anxiously. George nodded in the affirmative.
'Vell, that's all right,' said Mr. Weller. 'Coach taken care on, also?'
'Con-signed in a safe quarter,' replied George, wringing the
heads off half a dozen shrimps, and swallowing them without any
'Wery good, wery good,' said Mr. Weller. 'Alvays see to the
drag ven you go downhill. Is the vay-bill all clear and straight
'The schedule, sir,' said Pell, guessing at Mr. Weller's meaning,
'the schedule is as plain and satisfactory as pen and ink can
Mr. Weller nodded in a manner which bespoke his inward
approval of these arrangements; and then, turning to Mr. Pell,
said, pointing to his friend George--
'Ven do you take his cloths off?'
'Why,' replied Mr. Pell, 'he stands third on the opposed list,
and I should think it would be his turn in about half an hour. I
told my clerk to come over and tell us when there was a chance.'
Mr. Weller surveyed the attorney from head to foot with great
admiration, and said emphatically--
'And what'll you take, sir?'
'Why, really,' replied Mr. Pell, 'you're very-- Upon my
word and honour, I'm not in the habit of-- It's so very early
in the morning, that, actually, I am almost-- Well, you may
bring me threepenn'orth of rum, my dear.'
The officiating damsel, who had anticipated the order before it
was given, set the glass of spirits before Pell, and retired.
'Gentlemen,' said Mr. Pell, looking round upon the company,
'success to your friend! I don't like to boast, gentlemen; it's not
my way; but I can't help saying, that, if your friend hadn't been
fortunate enough to fall into hands that-- But I won't say
what I was going to say. Gentlemen, my service to you.' Having
emptied the glass in a twinkling, Mr. Pell smacked his lips, and
looked complacently round on the assembled coachmen, who
evidently regarded him as a species of divinity.
'Let me see,' said the legal authority. 'What was I a-saying,
'I think you was remarkin' as you wouldn't have no objection
to another o' the same, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, with grave facetiousness.
'Ha, ha!' laughed Mr. Pell. 'Not bad, not bad. A professional
man, too! At this time of the morning, it would be rather too
good a-- Well, I don't know, my dear--you may do that
again, if you please. Hem!'
This last sound was a solemn and dignified cough, in which
Mr. Pell, observing an indecent tendency to mirth in some of his
auditors, considered it due to himself to indulge.
'The late Lord Chancellor, gentlemen, was very fond of me,'
said Mr. Pell.
'And wery creditable in him, too,' interposed Mr. Weller.
'Hear, hear,' assented Mr. Pell's client. 'Why shouldn't he be?
'Ah! Why, indeed!' said a very red-faced man, who had said
nothing yet, and who looked extremely unlikely to say anything
more. 'Why shouldn't he?'
A murmur of assent ran through the company.
'I remember, gentlemen,' said Mr. Pell, 'dining with him on one
occasion; there was only us two, but everything as splendid as if
twenty people had been expected--the great seal on a dumb-
waiter at his right hand, and a man in a bag-wig and suit of
armour guarding the mace with a drawn sword and silk stockings
--which is perpetually done, gentlemen, night and day; when he
said, "Pell," he said, "no false delicacy, Pell. You're a man of
talent; you can get anybody through the Insolvent Court, Pell;
and your country should be proud of you." Those were his very
words. "My Lord," I said, "you flatter me."--"Pell," he said,
"if I do, I'm damned."'
'Did he say that?' inquired Mr. Weller.
'He did,' replied Pell.
'Vell, then,' said Mr. Weller, 'I say Parliament ought to ha'
took it up; and if he'd been a poor man, they would ha' done it.'
'But, my dear friend,' argued Mr. Pell, 'it was in confidence.'
'In what?' said Mr. Weller.
'Oh! wery good,' replied Mr. Weller, after a little reflection.
'If he damned hisself in confidence, o' course that was another thing.'
'Of course it was,' said Mr. Pell. 'The distinction's obvious, you
'Alters the case entirely,' said Mr. Weller. 'Go on, Sir.'
'No, I will not go on, Sir,' said Mr. Pell, in a low and serious
tone. 'You have reminded me, Sir, that this conversation was
private--private and confidential, gentlemen. Gentlemen, I am a
professional man. It may be that I am a good deal looked up to,
in my profession--it may be that I am not. Most people know. I
say nothing. Observations have already been made, in this room,
injurious to the reputation of my noble friend. You will excuse
me, gentlemen; I was imprudent. I feel that I have no right to
mention this matter without his concurrence. Thank you, Sir;
thank you.' Thus delivering himself, Mr. Pell thrust his hands
into his pockets, and, frowning grimly around, rattled three halfpence
with terrible determination.
This virtuous resolution had scarcely been formed, when the
boy and the blue bag, who were inseparable companions, rushed
violently into the room, and said (at least the boy did, for the
blue bag took no part in the announcement) that the case was
coming on directly. The intelligence was no sooner received than
the whole party hurried across the street, and began to fight their
way into court--a preparatory ceremony, which has been
calculated to occupy, in ordinary cases, from twenty-five minutes
Mr. Weller, being stout, cast himself at once into the crowd,
with the desperate hope of ultimately turning up in some place
which would suit him. His success was not quite equal to his
expectations; for having neglected to take his hat off, it was
knocked over his eyes by some unseen person, upon whose toes
he had alighted with considerable force. Apparently this
individual regretted his impetuosity immediately afterwards, for,
muttering an indistinct exclamation of surprise, he dragged the
old man out into the hall, and, after a violent struggle, released
his head and face.
'Samivel!' exclaimed Mr. Weller, when he was thus enabled to
behold his rescuer.
'You're a dutiful and affectionate little boy, you are, ain't
you,' said Mr. Weller, 'to come a-bonnetin' your father in his
'How should I know who you wos?' responded the son. 'Do
you s'pose I wos to tell you by the weight o' your foot?'
'Vell, that's wery true, Sammy,' replied Mr. Weller, mollified
at once; 'but wot are you a-doin' on here? Your gov'nor can't
do no good here, Sammy. They won't pass that werdick, they
won't pass it, Sammy.' And Mr. Weller shook his head with
'Wot a perwerse old file it is!' exclaimed Sam. 'always a-goin'
on about werdicks and alleybis and that. Who said anything
about the werdick?'
Mr. Weller made no reply, but once more shook his head most learnedly.
'Leave off rattlin' that 'ere nob o' yourn, if you don't want it
to come off the springs altogether,' said Sam impatiently, 'and
behave reasonable. I vent all the vay down to the Markis o'
Granby, arter you, last night.'
'Did you see the Marchioness o' Granby, Sammy?' inquired
Mr. Weller, with a sigh.
'Yes, I did,' replied Sam.
'How wos the dear creetur a-lookin'?'
'Wery queer,' said Sam. 'I think she's a-injurin' herself
gradivally vith too much o' that 'ere pine-apple rum, and other
strong medicines of the same natur.'
'You don't mean that, Sammy?' said the senior earnestly.
'I do, indeed,' replied the junior. Mr. Weller seized his son's
hand, clasped it, and let it fall. There was an expression on his
countenance in doing so--not of dismay or apprehension, but
partaking more of the sweet and gentle character of hope. A
gleam of resignation, and even of cheerfulness, passed over his
face too, as he slowly said, 'I ain't quite certain, Sammy; I
wouldn't like to say I wos altogether positive, in case of any
subsekent disappointment, but I rayther think, my boy, I rayther
think, that the shepherd's got the liver complaint!'
'Does he look bad?' inquired Sam.
'He's uncommon pale,' replied his father, ''cept about the
nose, which is redder than ever. His appetite is wery so-so, but he
Some thoughts of the rum appeared to obtrude themselves on
Mr. Weller's mind, as he said this; for he looked gloomy and
thoughtful; but he very shortly recovered, as was testified by a
perfect alphabet of winks, in which he was only wont to indulge
when particularly pleased.
'Vell, now,' said Sam, 'about my affair. Just open them ears o'
yourn, and don't say nothin' till I've done.' With this preface,
Sam related, as succinctly as he could, the last memorable
conversation he had had with Mr. Pickwick.
'Stop there by himself, poor creetur!' exclaimed the elder
Mr. Weller, 'without nobody to take his part! It can't be done,
Samivel, it can't be done.'
'O' course it can't,' asserted Sam: 'I know'd that, afore I came.'
'Why, they'll eat him up alive, Sammy,'exclaimed Mr. Weller.
Sam nodded his concurrence in the opinion.
'He goes in rayther raw, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller metaphorically,
'and he'll come out, done so ex-ceedin' brown, that his most
formiliar friends won't know him. Roast pigeon's nothin' to it, Sammy.'
Again Sam Weller nodded.
'It oughtn't to be, Samivel,' said Mr. Weller gravely.
'It mustn't be,' said Sam.
'Cert'nly not,' said Mr. Weller.
'Vell now,' said Sam, 'you've been a-prophecyin' away, wery
fine, like a red-faced Nixon, as the sixpenny books gives picters on.'
'Who wos he, Sammy?' inquired Mr. Weller.
'Never mind who he was,' retorted Sam; 'he warn't a coachman;
that's enough for you.'
'I know'd a ostler o' that name,' said Mr. Weller, musing.
'It warn't him,' said Sam. 'This here gen'l'm'n was a prophet.'
'Wot's a prophet?' inquired Mr. Weller, looking sternly on his son.
'Wy, a man as tells what's a-goin' to happen,' replied Sam.
'I wish I'd know'd him, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller. 'P'raps he
might ha' throw'd a small light on that 'ere liver complaint as we
wos a-speakin' on, just now. Hows'ever, if he's dead, and ain't
left the bisness to nobody, there's an end on it. Go on, Sammy,'
said Mr. Weller, with a sigh.
'Well,' said Sam, 'you've been a-prophecyin' avay about wot'll
happen to the gov'ner if he's left alone. Don't you see any way o'
takin' care on him?'
'No, I don't, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, with a reflective visage.
'No vay at all?' inquired Sam.
'No vay,' said Mr. Weller, 'unless'--and a gleam of intelligence
lighted up his countenance as he sank his voice to a whisper, and
applied his mouth to the ear of his offspring--'unless it is getting
him out in a turn-up bedstead, unbeknown to the turnkeys,
Sammy, or dressin' him up like a old 'ooman vith a green
Sam Weller received both of these suggestions with unexpected
contempt, and again propounded his question.
'No,' said the old gentleman; 'if he von't let you stop there, I
see no vay at all. It's no thoroughfare, Sammy, no thoroughfare.'
'Well, then, I'll tell you wot it is,' said Sam, 'I'll trouble you
for the loan of five-and-twenty pound.'
'Wot good'll that do?' inquired Mr. Weller.
'Never mind,' replied Sam. 'P'raps you may ask for it five
minits arterwards; p'raps I may say I von't pay, and cut up
rough. You von't think o' arrestin' your own son for the money,
and sendin' him off to the Fleet, will you, you unnat'ral wagabone?'
At this reply of Sam's, the father and son exchanged a
complete code of telegraph nods and gestures, after which, the elder
Mr. Weller sat himself down on a stone step and laughed till he
'Wot a old image it is!' exclaimed Sam, indignant at this loss
of time. 'What are you a-settin' down there for, con-wertin' your
face into a street-door knocker, wen there's so much to be done.
Where's the money?'
'In the boot, Sammy, in the boot,' replied Mr. Weller,
composing his features. 'Hold my hat, Sammy.'
Having divested himself of this encumbrance, Mr. Weller gave
his body a sudden wrench to one side, and by a dexterous twist,
contrived to get his right hand into a most capacious pocket,
from whence, after a great deal of panting and exertion, he
extricated a pocket-book of the large octavo size, fastened by a
huge leathern strap. From this ledger he drew forth a couple of
whiplashes, three or four buckles, a little sample-bag of corn,
and, finally, a small roll of very dirty bank-notes, from which he
selected the required amount, which he handed over to Sam.
'And now, Sammy,' said the old gentleman, when the whip-
lashes, and the buckles, and the samples, had been all put back,
and the book once more deposited at the bottom of the same
pocket, 'now, Sammy, I know a gen'l'm'n here, as'll do the rest
o' the bisness for us, in no time--a limb o' the law, Sammy, as
has got brains like the frogs, dispersed all over his body, and
reachin' to the wery tips of his fingers; a friend of the Lord
Chancellorship's, Sammy, who'd only have to tell him what he
wanted, and he'd lock you up for life, if that wos all.'
'I say,' said Sam, 'none o' that.'
'None o' wot?' inquired Mr. Weller.
'Wy, none o' them unconstitootional ways o' doin' it,' retorted
Sam. 'The have-his-carcass, next to the perpetual motion, is vun
of the blessedest things as wos ever made. I've read that 'ere in
the newspapers wery of'en.'
'Well, wot's that got to do vith it?' inquired Mr. Weller.
'Just this here,' said Sam, 'that I'll patronise the inwention,
and go in, that vay. No visperin's to the Chancellorship--I don't
like the notion. It mayn't be altogether safe, vith reference to
gettin' out agin.'
Deferring to his son's feeling upon this point, Mr. Weller at
once sought the erudite Solomon Pell, and acquainted him with
his desire to issue a writ, instantly, for the SUM of twenty-five
pounds, and costs of process; to be executed without delay upon
the body of one Samuel Weller; the charges thereby incurred, to
be paid in advance to Solomon Pell.
The attorney was in high glee, for the embarrassed coach-
horser was ordered to be discharged forthwith. He highly
approved of Sam's attachment to his master; declared that it
strongly reminded him of his own feelings of devotion to his
friend, the Chancellor; and at once led the elder Mr. Weller
down to the Temple, to swear the affidavit of debt, which the
boy, with the assistance of the blue bag, had drawn up on the spot.
Meanwhile, Sam, having been formally introduced to the
whitewashed gentleman and his friends, as the offspring of Mr.
Weller, of the Belle Savage, was treated with marked distinction,
and invited to regale himself with them in honour of the occasion
--an invitation which he was by no means backward in accepting.
The mirth of gentlemen of this class is of a grave and quiet
character, usually; but the present instance was one of peculiar
festivity, and they relaxed in proportion. After some rather
tumultuous toasting of the Chief Commissioner and Mr. Solomon
Pell, who had that day displayed such transcendent abilities, a
mottled-faced gentleman in a blue shawl proposed that somebody
should sing a song. The obvious suggestion was, that the mottled-
faced gentleman, being anxious for a song, should sing it himself;
but this the mottled-faced gentleman sturdily, and somewhat
offensively, declined to do. Upon which, as is not unusual in such
cases, a rather angry colloquy ensued.
'Gentlemen,' said the coach-horser, 'rather than disturb the
harmony of this delightful occasion, perhaps Mr. Samuel Weller
will oblige the company.'
'Raly, gentlemen,' said Sam, 'I'm not wery much in the habit
o' singin' without the instrument; but anythin' for a quiet life, as
the man said wen he took the sitivation at the lighthouse.'
With this prelude, Mr. Samuel Weller burst at once into the
following wild and beautiful legend, which, under the impression
that it is not generally known, we take the liberty of quoting. We
would beg to call particular attention to the monosyllable at the
end of the second and fourth lines, which not only enables the
singer to take breath at those points, but greatly assists the metre.
Bold Turpin vunce, on Hounslow Heath,
His bold mare Bess bestrode-er;
Ven there he see'd the Bishop's coach
A-coming along the road-er.
So he gallops close to the 'orse's legs,
And he claps his head vithin;
And the Bishop says, 'Sure as eggs is eggs,
This here's the bold Turpin!'
And the Bishop says, 'Sure as eggs is eggs,
This here's the bold Turpin!'
Says Turpin, 'You shall eat your words,
With a sarse of leaden bul-let;'
So he puts a pistol to his mouth,
And he fires it down his gul-let.
The coachman he not likin' the job,
Set off at full gal-lop,
But Dick put a couple of balls in his nob,
And perwailed on him to stop.
But Dick put a couple of balls in his nob,
And perwailed on him to stop.
'I maintain that that 'ere song's personal to the cloth,' said the
mottled-faced gentleman, interrupting it at this point. 'I demand
the name o' that coachman.'
'Nobody know'd,' replied Sam. 'He hadn't got his card in his pocket.'
'I object to the introduction o' politics,' said the mottled-
faced gentleman. 'I submit that, in the present company, that
'ere song's political; and, wot's much the same, that it ain't true.
I say that that coachman did not run away; but that he died
game--game as pheasants; and I won't hear nothin' said to
As the mottled-faced gentleman spoke with great energy and
determination, and as the opinions of the company seemed
divided on the subject, it threatened to give rise to fresh altercation,
when Mr. Weller and Mr. Pell most opportunely arrived.
'All right, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller.
'The officer will be here at four o'clock,' said Mr. Pell. 'I
suppose you won't run away meanwhile, eh? Ha! ha!'
'P'raps my cruel pa 'ull relent afore then,' replied Sam, with a
'Not I,' said the elder Mr. Weller.
'Do,' said Sam.
'Not on no account,' replied the inexorable creditor.
'I'll give bills for the amount, at sixpence a month,' said Sam.
'I won't take 'em,' said Mr. Weller.
'Ha, ha, ha! very good, very good,' said Mr. Solomon
Pell, who was making out his little bill of costs; 'a very
amusing incident indeed! Benjamin, copy that.' And Mr.
Pell smiled again, as he called Mr. Weller's attention to the amount.
'Thank you, thank you,' said the professional gentleman,
taking up another of the greasy notes as Mr. Weller took it from
the pocket-book. 'Three ten and one ten is five. Much obliged to
you, Mr. Weller. Your son is a most deserving young man, very
much so indeed, Sir. It's a very pleasant trait in a young man's
character, very much so,' added Mr. Pell, smiling smoothly
round, as he buttoned up the money.
'Wot a game it is!' said the elder Mr. Weller, with a chuckle.
'A reg'lar prodigy son!'
'Prodigal--prodigal son, Sir,' suggested Mr. Pell, mildly.
'Never mind, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, with dignity. 'I know wot's
o'clock, Sir. Wen I don't, I'll ask you, Sir.'
By the time the officer arrived, Sam had made himself so
extremely popular, that the congregated gentlemen determined to
see him to prison in a body. So off they set; the plaintiff and
defendant walking arm in arm, the officer in front, and eight stout
coachmen bringing up the rear. At Serjeant's Inn Coffee-house
the whole party halted to refresh, and, the legal arrangements
being completed, the procession moved on again.
Some little commotion was occasioned in Fleet Street, by the
pleasantry of the eight gentlemen in the flank, who persevered in
walking four abreast; it was also found necessary to leave the
mottled-faced gentleman behind, to fight a ticket-porter, it being
arranged that his friends should call for him as they came back.
Nothing but these little incidents occurred on the way. When they
reached the gate of the Fleet, the cavalcade, taking the time from
the plaintiff, gave three tremendous cheers for the defendant, and,
after having shaken hands all round, left him.
Sam, having been formally delivered into the warder's custody,
to the intense astonishment of Roker, and to the evident emotion
of even the phlegmatic Neddy, passed at once into the prison,
walked straight to his master's room, and knocked at the door.
'Come in,' said Mr. Pickwick.
Sam appeared, pulled off his hat, and smiled.
'Ah, Sam, my good lad!' said Mr. Pickwick, evidently delighted
to see his humble friend again; 'I had no intention of hurting your
feelings yesterday, my faithful fellow, by what I said. Put down
your hat, Sam, and let me explain my meaning, a little more at length.'
'Won't presently do, sir?' inquired Sam.
'Certainly,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'but why not now?'
'I'd rayther not now, sir,' rejoined Sam.
'Why?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
''Cause--' said Sam, hesitating.
'Because of what?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, alarmed at his
follower's manner. 'Speak out, Sam.'
''Cause,' rejoined Sam--''cause I've got a little bisness as I
want to do.'
'What business?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, surprised at Sam's
'Nothin' partickler, Sir,' replied Sam.
'Oh, if it's nothing particular,' said Mr. Pickwick, with a
smile, 'you can speak with me first.'
'I think I'd better see arter it at once,' said Sam, still hesitating.
Mr. Pickwick looked amazed, but said nothing.
'The fact is--' said Sam, stopping short.
'Well!' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Speak out, Sam.'
'Why, the fact is,' said Sam, with a desperate effort, 'perhaps
I'd better see arter my bed afore I do anythin' else.'
'YOUR BED!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, in astonishment.
'Yes, my bed, Sir,' replied Sam, 'I'm a prisoner. I was arrested
this here wery arternoon for debt.'
'You arrested for debt!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, sinking into
'Yes, for debt, Sir,' replied Sam. 'And the man as puts me in,
'ull never let me out till you go yourself.'
'Bless my heart and soul!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick. 'What do
'Wot I say, Sir,' rejoined Sam. 'If it's forty years to come, I shall
be a prisoner, and I'm very glad on it; and if it had been Newgate,
it would ha' been just the same. Now the murder's out, and,
damme, there's an end on it!'
With these words, which he repeated with great emphasis and
violence, Sam Weller dashed his hat upon the ground, in a most
unusual state of excitement; and then, folding his arms, looked
firmly and fixedly in his master's face.
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
Mr. Pickwick felt a great deal too much touched by the warmth of
Sam's attachment, to be able to exhibit any manifestation of
anger or displeasure at the precipitate course he had adopted, in
voluntarily consigning himself to a debtor's prison for an
indefinite period. The only point on which he persevered in
demanding an explanation, was, the name of Sam's detaining
creditor; but this Mr. Weller as perseveringly withheld.
'It ain't o' no use, sir,' said Sam, again and again; 'he's a
malicious, bad-disposed, vorldly-minded, spiteful, windictive creetur,
with a hard heart as there ain't no soft'nin', as the wirtuous clergyman
remarked of the old gen'l'm'n with the dropsy, ven he said, that
upon the whole he thought he'd rayther leave his property to his
vife than build a chapel vith it.'
'But consider, Sam,' Mr. Pickwick remonstrated, 'the sum is so
small that it can very easily be paid; and having made up My
mind that you shall stop with me, you should recollect how much
more useful you would be, if you could go outside the walls.'
'Wery much obliged to you, sir,' replied Mr. Weller gravely;
'but I'd rayther not.'
'Rather not do what, Sam?'
'Wy, I'd rayther not let myself down to ask a favour o' this
here unremorseful enemy.'
'But it is no favour asking him to take his money, Sam,'
reasoned Mr. Pickwick.
'Beg your pardon, sir,' rejoined Sam, 'but it 'ud be a wery
great favour to pay it, and he don't deserve none; that's where
it is, sir.'
Here Mr. Pickwick, rubbing his nose with an air of some
vexation, Mr. Weller thought it prudent to change the theme of
'I takes my determination on principle, Sir,' remarked Sam,
'and you takes yours on the same ground; wich puts me in mind
o' the man as killed his-self on principle, wich o' course you've
heerd on, Sir.' Mr. Weller paused when he arrived at this point,
and cast a comical look at his master out of the corners of his eyes.
'There is no "of course" in the case, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick,
gradually breaking into a smile, in spite of the uneasiness which
Sam's obstinacy had given him. 'The fame of the gentleman in
question, never reached my ears.'
'No, sir!' exclaimed Mr. Weller. 'You astonish me, Sir; he wos
a clerk in a gov'ment office, sir.'
'Was he?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes, he wos, Sir,' rejoined Mr. Weller; 'and a wery pleasant
gen'l'm'n too--one o' the precise and tidy sort, as puts their feet
in little India-rubber fire-buckets wen it's wet weather, and never
has no other bosom friends but hare-skins; he saved up his
money on principle, wore a clean shirt ev'ry day on principle;
never spoke to none of his relations on principle, 'fear they
shou'd want to borrow money of him; and wos altogether, in
fact, an uncommon agreeable character. He had his hair cut on
principle vunce a fortnight, and contracted for his clothes on the
economic principle--three suits a year, and send back the old
uns. Being a wery reg'lar gen'l'm'n, he din'd ev'ry day at the
same place, where it was one-and-nine to cut off the joint, and a
wery good one-and-nine's worth he used to cut, as the landlord
often said, with the tears a-tricklin' down his face, let alone the
way he used to poke the fire in the vinter time, which wos a dead
loss o' four-pence ha'penny a day, to say nothin' at all o' the
aggrawation o' seein' him do it. So uncommon grand with it
too! "POST arter the next gen'l'm'n," he sings out ev'ry day ven
he comes in. "See arter the TIMES, Thomas; let me look at the
MORNIN' HERALD, when it's out o' hand; don't forget to bespeak
the CHRONICLE; and just bring the 'TIZER, vill you:" and then he'd
set vith his eyes fixed on the clock, and rush out, just a quarter
of a minit 'fore the time to waylay the boy as wos a-comin' in
with the evenin' paper, which he'd read with sich intense interest
and persewerance as worked the other customers up to the wery
confines o' desperation and insanity, 'specially one i-rascible old
gen'l'm'n as the vaiter wos always obliged to keep a sharp eye
on, at sich times, fear he should be tempted to commit some rash
act with the carving-knife. Vell, Sir, here he'd stop, occupyin' the
best place for three hours, and never takin' nothin' arter his
dinner, but sleep, and then he'd go away to a coffee-house a few
streets off, and have a small pot o' coffee and four crumpets,
arter wich he'd walk home to Kensington and go to bed. One
night he wos took very ill; sends for a doctor; doctor comes in a
green fly, with a kind o' Robinson Crusoe set o' steps, as he
could let down wen he got out, and pull up arter him wen he
got in, to perwent the necessity o' the coachman's gettin' down,
and thereby undeceivin' the public by lettin' 'em see that it wos
only a livery coat as he'd got on, and not the trousers to match.
"Wot's the matter?" says the doctor. "Wery ill," says the patient.
"Wot have you been a-eatin' on?" says the doctor. "Roast
weal," says the patient. "Wot's the last thing you dewoured?"
says the doctor. "Crumpets," says the patient. "That's it!" says
the doctor. "I'll send you a box of pills directly, and don't you
never take no more of 'em," he says. "No more o' wot?" says
the patient--"pills?" "No; crumpets," says the doctor. "Wy?"
says the patient, starting up in bed; "I've eat four crumpets,
ev'ry night for fifteen year, on principle." "Well, then, you'd
better leave 'em off, on principle," says the doctor. "Crumpets is
NOT wholesome, Sir," says the doctor, wery fierce. "But they're
so cheap," says the patient, comin' down a little, "and so wery
fillin' at the price." "They'd be dear to you, at any price; dear if
you wos paid to eat 'em," says the doctor. "Four crumpets a
night," he says, "vill do your business in six months!" The patient
looks him full in the face, and turns it over in his mind for a long
time, and at last he says, "Are you sure o' that 'ere, Sir?" "I'll
stake my professional reputation on it," says the doctor. "How
many crumpets, at a sittin', do you think 'ud kill me off at once?"
says the patient. "I don't know," says the doctor. "Do you think
half-a-crown's wurth 'ud do it?" says the patient. "I think it
might," says the doctor. "Three shillins' wurth 'ud be sure to do
it, I s'pose?" says the patient. "Certainly," says the doctor.
"Wery good," says the patient; "good-night." Next mornin' he
gets up, has a fire lit, orders in three shillins' wurth o' crumpets,
toasts 'em all, eats 'em all, and blows his brains out.'
'What did he do that for?' inquired Mr. Pickwick abruptly; for
he was considerably startled by this tragical termination of
'Wot did he do it for, Sir?' reiterated Sam. 'Wy, in support of
his great principle that crumpets wos wholesome, and to show
that he wouldn't be put out of his way for nobody!'
With such like shiftings and changings of the discourse, did
Mr. Weller meet his master's questioning on the night of his
taking up his residence in the Fleet. Finding all gentle remonstrance
useless, Mr. Pickwick at length yielded a reluctant consent
to his taking lodgings by the week, of a bald-headed cobbler, who
rented a small slip room in one of the upper galleries. To this
humble apartment Mr. Weller moved a mattress and bedding,
which he hired of Mr. Roker; and, by the time he lay down upon
it at night, was as much at home as if he had been bred in the
prison, and his whole family had vegetated therein for three generations.
'Do you always smoke arter you goes to bed, old cock?'
inquired Mr. Weller of his landlord, when they had both retired
for the night.
'Yes, I does, young bantam,' replied the cobbler.
'Will you allow me to in-quire wy you make up your bed
under that 'ere deal table?' said Sam.
''Cause I was always used to a four-poster afore I came here,
and I find the legs of the table answer just as well,' replied
'You're a character, sir,' said Sam.
'I haven't got anything of the kind belonging to me,' rejoined
the cobbler, shaking his head; 'and if you want to meet with a
good one, I'm afraid you'll find some difficulty in suiting yourself
at this register office.'
The above short dialogue took place as Mr. Weller lay
extended on his mattress at one end of the room, and the cobbler
on his, at the other; the apartment being illumined by the light
of a rush-candle, and the cobbler's pipe, which was glowing
below the table, like a red-hot coal. The conversation, brief as it
was, predisposed Mr. Weller strongly in his landlord's favour;
and, raising himself on his elbow, he took a more lengthened
survey of his appearance than he had yet had either time or
inclination to make.
He was a sallow man--all cobblers are; and had a strong
bristly beard--all cobblers have. His face was a queer, good-
tempered, crooked-featured piece of workmanship, ornamented
with a couple of eyes that must have worn a very joyous
expression at one time, for they sparkled yet. The man was sixty,
by years, and Heaven knows how old by imprisonment, so that
his having any look approaching to mirth or contentment, was
singular enough. He was a little man, and, being half doubled up
as he lay in bed, looked about as long as he ought to have been
without his legs. He had a great red pipe in his mouth, and was
smoking, and staring at the rush-light, in a state of enviable
'Have you been here long?' inquired Sam, breaking the silence
which had lasted for some time.
'Twelve year,' replied the cobbler, biting the end of his pipe as
'Contempt?' inquired Sam.
The cobbler nodded.
'Well, then,' said Sam, with some sternness, 'wot do you
persevere in bein' obstinit for, vastin' your precious life away, in
this here magnified pound? Wy don't you give in, and tell the
Chancellorship that you're wery sorry for makin' his court
contemptible, and you won't do so no more?'
The cobbler put his pipe in the corner of his mouth, while he smiled,
and then brought it back to its old place again; but said nothing.
'Wy don't you?' said Sam, urging his question strenuously.
'Ah,' said the cobbler, 'you don't quite understand these
matters. What do you suppose ruined me, now?'
'Wy,' said Sam, trimming the rush-light, 'I s'pose the beginnin'
wos, that you got into debt, eh?'
'Never owed a farden,' said the cobbler; 'try again.'
'Well, perhaps,' said Sam, 'you bought houses, wich is delicate
English for goin' mad; or took to buildin', wich is a medical
term for bein' incurable.'
The cobbler shook his head and said, 'Try again.'
'You didn't go to law, I hope?' said Sam suspiciously.
'Never in my life,' replied the cobbler. 'The fact is, I was ruined
by having money left me.'
'Come, come,' said Sam, 'that von't do. I wish some rich
enemy 'ud try to vork my destruction in that 'ere vay. I'd let him.'
'Oh, I dare say you don't believe it,' said the cobbler, quietly
smoking his pipe. 'I wouldn't if I was you; but it's true for
'How wos it?' inquired Sam, half induced to believe the fact
already, by the look the cobbler gave him.
'Just this,' replied the cobbler; 'an old gentleman that I
worked for, down in the country, and a humble relation of whose
I married--she's dead, God bless her, and thank Him for it!--
was seized with a fit and went off.'
'Where?' inquired Sam, who was growing sleepy after the
numerous events of the day.
'How should I know where he went?' said the cobbler, speaking
through his nose in an intense enjoyment of his pipe. 'He went
'Oh, that indeed,' said Sam. 'Well?'
'Well,' said the cobbler, 'he left five thousand pound behind him.'
'And wery gen-teel in him so to do,' said Sam.
'One of which,' continued the cobbler, 'he left to me, 'cause I
married his relation, you see.'
'Wery good,' murmured Sam.
'And being surrounded by a great number of nieces and
nevys, as was always quarrelling and fighting among themselves
for the property, he makes me his executor, and leaves the rest to
me in trust, to divide it among 'em as the will prowided.'
'Wot do you mean by leavin' it on trust?' inquired Sam, waking
up a little. 'If it ain't ready-money, were's the use on it?'
'It's a law term, that's all,' said the cobbler.
'I don't think that,' said Sam, shaking his head. 'There's wery
little trust at that shop. Hows'ever, go on.'
'Well,' said the cobbler, 'when I was going to take out a
probate of the will, the nieces and nevys, who was desperately
disappointed at not getting all the money, enters a caveat
'What's that?' inquired Sam.
'A legal instrument, which is as much as to say, it's no go,'
replied the cobbler.
'I see,' said Sam, 'a sort of brother-in-law o' the have-his-
'But,' continued the cobbler, 'finding that they couldn't agree
among themselves, and consequently couldn't get up a case
against the will, they withdrew the caveat, and I paid all the
legacies. I'd hardly done it, when one nevy brings an action to set
the will aside. The case comes on, some months afterwards, afore
a deaf old gentleman, in a back room somewhere down by Paul's
Churchyard; and arter four counsels had taken a day a-piece to
bother him regularly, he takes a week or two to consider, and
read the evidence in six volumes, and then gives his judgment
that how the testator was not quite right in his head, and I must
pay all the money back again, and all the costs. I appealed; the
case come on before three or four very sleepy gentlemen, who had
heard it all before in the other court, where they're lawyers
without work; the only difference being, that, there, they're
called doctors, and in the other place delegates, if you understand
that; and they very dutifully confirmed the decision of the old
gentleman below. After that, we went into Chancery, where we
are still, and where I shall always be. My lawyers have had all my
thousand pound long ago; and what between the estate, as they
call it, and the costs, I'm here for ten thousand, and shall stop
here, till I die, mending shoes. Some gentlemen have talked of
bringing it before Parliament, and I dare say would have done it,
only they hadn't time to come to me, and I hadn't power to go
to them, and they got tired of my long letters, and dropped the
business. And this is God's truth, without one word of suppression
or exaggeration, as fifty people, both in this place and out
of it, very well know.'
The cobbler paused to ascertain what effect his story had
produced on Sam; but finding that he had dropped asleep, knocked
the ashes out of his pipe, sighed, put it down, drew the bed-
clothes over his head, and went to sleep, too.
Mr. Pickwick was sitting at breakfast, alone, next morning
(Sam being busily engaged in the cobbler's room, polishing his
master's shoes and brushing the black gaiters) when there came a
knock at the door, which, before Mr. Pickwick could cry 'Come
in!' was followed by the appearance of a head of hair
and a cotton-velvet cap, both of which articles of dress he
had no difficulty in recognising as the personal property of
'How are you?' said that worthy, accompanying the inquiry
with a score or two of nods; 'I say--do you expect anybody this
morning? Three men--devilish gentlemanly fellows--have been
asking after you downstairs, and knocking at every door on the
hall flight; for which they've been most infernally blown up by
the collegians that had the trouble of opening 'em.'
'Dear me! How very foolish of them,' said Mr. Pickwick,
rising. 'Yes; I have no doubt they are some friends whom I
rather expected to see, yesterday.'
'Friends of yours!' exclaimed Smangle, seizing Mr. Pickwick
by the hand. 'Say no more. Curse me, they're friends of mine
from this minute, and friends of Mivins's, too. Infernal pleasant,
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