The Pickwick Papers
Part 4 out of 20
destination on the soles--'Lady's shoes and private sittin'-
room! I suppose she didn't come in the vagin.'
'She came in early this morning,' cried the girl, who was still
leaning over the railing of the gallery, 'with a gentleman in a
hackney-coach, and it's him as wants his boots, and you'd better
do 'em, that's all about it.'
'Vy didn't you say so before,' said Sam, with great indignation,
singling out the boots in question from the heap before him. 'For
all I know'd he was one o' the regular threepennies. Private room!
and a lady too! If he's anything of a gen'l'm'n, he's vurth a
shillin' a day, let alone the arrands.'
Stimulated by this inspiring reflection, Mr. Samuel brushed
away with such hearty good-will, that in a few minutes the boots
and shoes, with a polish which would have struck envy to the soul
of the amiable Mr. Warren (for they used Day & Martin at the
White Hart), had arrived at the door of number five.
'Come in,' said a man's voice, in reply to Sam's rap at the door.
Sam made his best bow, and stepped into the presence of a
lady and gentleman seated at breakfast. Having officiously
deposited the gentleman's boots right and left at his feet, and
the lady's shoes right and left at hers, he backed towards the door.
'Boots,' said the gentleman.
'Sir,' said Sam, closing the door, and keeping his hand on the
knob of the lock.
'Do you know--what's a-name--Doctors' Commons?'
'Where is it?'
'Paul's Churchyard, Sir; low archway on the carriage side,
bookseller's at one corner, hot-el on the other, and two porters
in the middle as touts for licences.'
'Touts for licences!' said the gentleman.
'Touts for licences,' replied Sam. 'Two coves in vhite aprons--
touches their hats ven you walk in--"Licence, Sir, licence?"
Queer sort, them, and their mas'rs, too, sir--Old Bailey Proctors
--and no mistake.'
'What do they do?' inquired the gentleman.
'Do! You, Sir! That ain't the worst on it, neither. They puts
things into old gen'l'm'n's heads as they never dreamed of. My
father, Sir, wos a coachman. A widower he wos, and fat enough
for anything--uncommon fat, to be sure. His missus dies, and
leaves him four hundred pound. Down he goes to the Commons,
to see the lawyer and draw the blunt--very smart--top boots on
--nosegay in his button-hole--broad-brimmed tile--green shawl
--quite the gen'l'm'n. Goes through the archvay, thinking how
he should inwest the money--up comes the touter, touches his
hat--"Licence, Sir, licence?"--"What's that?" says my father.--
"Licence, Sir," says he.--"What licence?" says my father.--
"Marriage licence," says the touter.--"Dash my veskit," says my
father, "I never thought o' that."--"I think you wants one, Sir,"
says the touter. My father pulls up, and thinks a bit--"No," says
he, "damme, I'm too old, b'sides, I'm a many sizes too large,"
says he.--"Not a bit on it, Sir," says the touter.--"Think not?"
says my father.--"I'm sure not," says he; "we married a gen'l'm'n
twice your size, last Monday."--"Did you, though?" said my
father.--"To be sure, we did," says the touter, "you're a babby
to him--this way, sir--this way!"--and sure enough my father
walks arter him, like a tame monkey behind a horgan, into a little
back office, vere a teller sat among dirty papers, and tin boxes,
making believe he was busy. "Pray take a seat, vile I makes out
the affidavit, Sir," says the lawyer.--"Thank'ee, Sir," says my
father, and down he sat, and stared with all his eyes, and his
mouth vide open, at the names on the boxes. "What's your name,
Sir," says the lawyer.--"Tony Weller," says my father.--"Parish?"
says the lawyer. "Belle Savage," says my father; for he stopped
there wen he drove up, and he know'd nothing about parishes, he
didn't.--"And what's the lady's name?" says the lawyer. My
father was struck all of a heap. "Blessed if I know," says he.--
"Not know!" says the lawyer.--"No more nor you do," says my
father; "can't I put that in arterwards?"--"Impossible!" says
the lawyer.--"Wery well," says my father, after he'd thought a
moment, "put down Mrs. Clarke."--"What Clarke?" says the
lawyer, dipping his pen in the ink.--"Susan Clarke, Markis o'
Granby, Dorking," says my father; "she'll have me, if I ask. I
des-say--I never said nothing to her, but she'll have me, I know."
The licence was made out, and she DID have him, and what's more
she's got him now; and I never had any of the four hundred
pound, worse luck. Beg your pardon, sir,' said Sam, when he had
concluded, 'but wen I gets on this here grievance, I runs on like a
new barrow with the wheel greased.' Having said which, and
having paused for an instant to see whether he was wanted for
anything more, Sam left the room.
'Half-past nine--just the time--off at once;' said the gentleman,
whom we need hardly introduce as Mr. Jingle.
'Time--for what?' said the spinster aunt coquettishly.
'Licence, dearest of angels--give notice at the church--call you
mine, to-morrow'--said Mr. Jingle, and he squeezed the spinster
'The licence!' said Rachael, blushing.
'The licence,' repeated Mr. Jingle--
'In hurry, post-haste for a licence,
In hurry, ding dong I come back.'
'How you run on,' said Rachael.
'Run on--nothing to the hours, days, weeks, months, years,
when we're united--run on--they'll fly on--bolt--mizzle--
steam-engine--thousand-horse power--nothing to it.'
'Can't--can't we be married before to-morrow morning?'
'Impossible--can't be--notice at the church--leave the licence
to-day--ceremony come off to-morrow.'
'I am so terrified, lest my brother should discover us!' said Rachael.
'Discover--nonsense--too much shaken by the break-down--
besides--extreme caution--gave up the post-chaise--walked on
--took a hackney-coach--came to the Borough--last place in the
world that he'd look in--ha! ha!--capital notion that--very.'
'Don't be long,' said the spinster affectionately, as Mr. Jingle
stuck the pinched-up hat on his head.
'Long away from you?--Cruel charmer;' and Mr. Jingle
skipped playfully up to the spinster aunt, imprinted a chaste kiss
upon her lips, and danced out of the room.
'Dear man!' said the spinster, as the door closed after him.
'Rum old girl,' said Mr. Jingle, as he walked down the passage.
It is painful to reflect upon the perfidy of our species; and we
will not, therefore, pursue the thread of Mr. Jingle's meditations,
as he wended his way to Doctors' Commons. It will be sufficient
for our purpose to relate, that escaping the snares of the dragons
in white aprons, who guard the entrance to that enchanted
region, he reached the vicar-general's office in safety and having
procured a highly flattering address on parchment, from the
Archbishop of Canterbury, to his 'trusty and well-beloved Alfred
Jingle and Rachael Wardle, greeting,' he carefully deposited the
mystic document in his pocket, and retraced his steps in triumph
to the Borough.
He was yet on his way to the White Hart, when two plump
gentleman and one thin one entered the yard, and looked round
in search of some authorised person of whom they could make a
few inquiries. Mr. Samuel Weller happened to be at that moment
engaged in burnishing a pair of painted tops, the personal
property of a farmer who was refreshing himself with a slight
lunch of two or three pounds of cold beef and a pot or two of
porter, after the fatigues of the Borough market; and to him the
thin gentleman straightway advanced.
'My friend,' said the thin gentleman.
'You're one o' the adwice gratis order,' thought Sam, 'or you
wouldn't be so wery fond o' me all at once.' But he only said--
'My friend,' said the thin gentleman, with a conciliatory hem--
'have you got many people stopping here now? Pretty busy. Eh?'
Sam stole a look at the inquirer. He was a little high-dried
man, with a dark squeezed-up face, and small, restless, black
eyes, that kept winking and twinkling on each side of his little
inquisitive nose, as if they were playing a perpetual game of
peep-bo with that feature. He was dressed all in black, with boots
as shiny as his eyes, a low white neckcloth, and a clean shirt with
a frill to it. A gold watch-chain, and seals, depended from his fob.
He carried his black kid gloves IN his hands, and not ON them;
and as he spoke, thrust his wrists beneath his coat tails, with the
air of a man who was in the habit of propounding some regular posers.
'Pretty busy, eh?' said the little man.
'Oh, wery well, Sir,' replied Sam, 'we shan't be bankrupts, and
we shan't make our fort'ns. We eats our biled mutton without
capers, and don't care for horse-radish ven ve can get beef.'
'Ah,' said the little man, 'you're a wag, ain't you?'
'My eldest brother was troubled with that complaint,' said
Sam; 'it may be catching--I used to sleep with him.'
'This is a curious old house of yours,' said the little man,
looking round him.
'If you'd sent word you was a-coming, we'd ha' had it repaired;'
replied the imperturbable Sam.
The little man seemed rather baffled by these several repulses,
and a short consultation took place between him and the two
plump gentlemen. At its conclusion, the little man took a pinch
of snuff from an oblong silver box, and was apparently on the
point of renewing the conversation, when one of the plump
gentlemen, who in addition to a benevolent countenance,
possessed a pair of spectacles, and a pair of black gaiters,
'The fact of the matter is,' said the benevolent gentleman, 'that
my friend here (pointing to the other plump gentleman) will give
you half a guinea, if you'll answer one or two--'
'Now, my dear sir--my dear Sir,' said the little man, 'pray,
allow me--my dear Sir, the very first principle to be observed in
these cases, is this: if you place the matter in the hands of a
professional man, you must in no way interfere in the progress of
the business; you must repose implicit confidence in him. Really,
Mr.--' He turned to the other plump gentleman, and said, 'I
forget your friend's name.'
'Pickwick,' said Mr. Wardle, for it was no other than that jolly
'Ah, Pickwick--really Mr. Pickwick, my dear Sir, excuse me--
I shall be happy to receive any private suggestions of yours, as
AMICUS CURIAE, but you must see the impropriety of your interfering
with my conduct in this case, with such an AD CAPTANDUM argument as the
offer of half a guinea. Really, my dear Sir, really;' and the little
man took an argumentative pinch of snuff, and looked very profound.
'My only wish, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'was to bring this very
unpleasant matter to as speedy a close as possible.'
'Quite right--quite right,' said the little man.
'With which view,' continued Mr. Pickwick, 'I made use of the
argument which my experience of men has taught me is the most
likely to succeed in any case.'
'Ay, ay,' said the little man, 'very good, very good, indeed; but
you should have suggested it to me. My dear sir, I'm quite certain
you cannot be ignorant of the extent of confidence which must be
placed in professional men. If any authority can be necessary on
such a point, my dear sir, let me refer you to the well-known case
in Barnwell and--'
'Never mind George Barnwell,' interrupted Sam, who had
remained a wondering listener during this short colloquy;
'everybody knows what sort of a case his was, tho' it's always
been my opinion, mind you, that the young 'ooman deserved
scragging a precious sight more than he did. Hows'ever, that's
neither here nor there. You want me to accept of half a guinea.
Wery well, I'm agreeable: I can't say no fairer than that, can I,
sir?' (Mr. Pickwick smiled.) Then the next question is, what the
devil do you want with me, as the man said, wen he see the ghost?'
'We want to know--' said Mr. Wardle.
'Now, my dear sir--my dear sir,' interposed the busy little man.
Mr. Wardle shrugged his shoulders, and was silent.
'We want to know,' said the little man solemnly; 'and we ask
the question of you, in order that we may not awaken apprehensions
inside--we want to know who you've got in this house at present?'
'Who there is in the house!' said Sam, in whose mind the
inmates were always represented by that particular article of their
costume, which came under his immediate superintendence.
'There's a vooden leg in number six; there's a pair of Hessians in
thirteen; there's two pair of halves in the commercial; there's
these here painted tops in the snuggery inside the bar; and five
more tops in the coffee-room.'
'Nothing more?' said the little man.
'Stop a bit,' replied Sam, suddenly recollecting himself. 'Yes;
there's a pair of Vellingtons a good deal worn, and a pair o'
lady's shoes, in number five.'
'What sort of shoes?' hastily inquired Wardle, who, together
with Mr. Pickwick, had been lost in bewilderment at the singular
catalogue of visitors.
'Country make,' replied Sam.
'Any maker's name?'
'It is them,' exclaimed Wardle. 'By heavens, we've found them.'
'Hush!' said Sam. 'The Vellingtons has gone to Doctors' Commons.'
'No,' said the little man.
'Yes, for a licence.'
'We're in time,' exclaimed Wardle. 'Show us the room; not a
moment is to be lost.'
'Pray, my dear sir--pray,' said the little man; 'caution,
caution.' He drew from his pocket a red silk purse, and looked
very hard at Sam as he drew out a sovereign.
Sam grinned expressively.
'Show us into the room at once, without announcing us,' said
the little man, 'and it's yours.'
Sam threw the painted tops into a corner, and led the way
through a dark passage, and up a wide staircase. He paused at
the end of a second passage, and held out his hand.
'Here it is,' whispered the attorney, as he deposited the money
on the hand of their guide.
The man stepped forward for a few paces, followed by the two
friends and their legal adviser. He stopped at a door.
'Is this the room?' murmured the little gentleman.
Sam nodded assent.
Old Wardle opened the door; and the whole three walked into
the room just as Mr. Jingle, who had that moment returned, had
produced the licence to the spinster aunt.
The spinster uttered a loud shriek, and throwing herself into a
chair, covered her face with her hands. Mr. Jingle crumpled up
the licence, and thrust it into his coat pocket. The unwelcome
visitors advanced into the middle of the room.
'You--you are a nice rascal, arn't you?' exclaimed Wardle,
breathless with passion.
'My dear Sir, my dear sir,' said the little man, laying his hat on
the table, 'pray, consider--pray. Defamation of character: action
for damages. Calm yourself, my dear sir, pray--'
'How dare you drag my sister from my house?' said the old man.
Ay--ay--very good,' said the little gentleman, 'you may ask
that. How dare you, sir?--eh, sir?'
'Who the devil are you?' inquired Mr. Jingle, in so fierce a
tone, that the little gentleman involuntarily fell back a step or two.
'Who is he, you scoundrel,' interposed Wardle. 'He's my
lawyer, Mr. Perker, of Gray's Inn. Perker, I'll have this fellow
prosecuted--indicted--I'll--I'll--I'll ruin him. And you,' continued
Mr. Wardle, turning abruptly round to his sister--'you,
Rachael, at a time of life when you ought to know better, what
do you mean by running away with a vagabond, disgracing your
family, and making yourself miserable? Get on your bonnet and
come back. Call a hackney-coach there, directly, and bring this
lady's bill, d'ye hear--d'ye hear?'
'Cert'nly, Sir,' replied Sam, who had answered Wardle's
violent ringing of the bell with a degree of celerity which must
have appeared marvellous to anybody who didn't know that his
eye had been applied to the outside of the keyhole during the
'Get on your bonnet,' repeated Wardle.
'Do nothing of the kind,' said Jingle. 'Leave the room, Sir--
no business here--lady's free to act as she pleases--more than
'More than one-and-twenty!' ejaculated Wardle contemptuously.
'More than one-and-forty!'
'I ain't,' said the spinster aunt, her indignation getting the
better of her determination to faint.
'You are,' replied Wardle; 'you're fifty if you're an hour.'
Here the spinster aunt uttered a loud shriek, and became senseless.
'A glass of water,' said the humane Mr. Pickwick, summoning
'A glass of water!' said the passionate Wardle. 'Bring a
bucket, and throw it all over her; it'll do her good, and she
richly deserves it.'
'Ugh, you brute!' ejaculated the kind-hearted landlady. 'Poor
dear.' And with sundry ejaculations of 'Come now, there's a dear
--drink a little of this--it'll do you good--don't give way so--
there's a love,' etc. etc., the landlady, assisted by a chambermaid,
proceeded to vinegar the forehead, beat the hands, titillate the
nose, and unlace the stays of the spinster aunt, and to administer
such other restoratives as are usually applied by compassionate
females to ladies who are endeavouring to ferment themselves
'Coach is ready, Sir,' said Sam, appearing at the door.
'Come along,' cried Wardle. 'I'll carry her downstairs.'
At this proposition, the hysterics came on with redoubled violence.
The landlady was about to enter a very violent protest against
this proceeding, and had already given vent to an indignant
inquiry whether Mr. Wardle considered himself a lord of the
creation, when Mr. Jingle interposed--
'Boots,' said he, 'get me an officer.'
'Stay, stay,' said little Mr. Perker. 'Consider, Sir, consider.'
'I'll not consider,' replied Jingle. 'She's her own mistress--see
who dares to take her away--unless she wishes it.'
'I WON'T be taken away,' murmured the spinster aunt. 'I DON'T
wish it.' (Here there was a frightful relapse.)
'My dear Sir,' said the little man, in a low tone, taking Mr.
Wardle and Mr. Pickwick apart--'my dear Sir, we're in a very
awkward situation. It's a distressing case--very; I never knew
one more so; but really, my dear sir, really we have no power to
control this lady's actions. I warned you before we came, my dear
sir, that there was nothing to look to but a compromise.'
There was a short pause.
'What kind of compromise would you recommend?' inquired
'Why, my dear Sir, our friend's in an unpleasant position--very
much so. We must be content to suffer some pecuniary loss.'
'I'll suffer any, rather than submit to this disgrace, and let her,
fool as she is, be made miserable for life,' said Wardle.
'I rather think it can be done,' said the bustling little man.
'Mr. Jingle, will you step with us into the next room for a
Mr. Jingle assented, and the quartette walked into an empty apartment.
'Now, sir,' said the little man, as he carefully closed the door,
'is there no way of accommodating this matter--step this way,
sir, for a moment--into this window, Sir, where we can be alone
--there, sir, there, pray sit down, sir. Now, my dear Sir, between
you and I, we know very well, my dear Sir, that you have run off
with this lady for the sake of her money. Don't frown, Sir, don't
frown; I say, between you and I, WE know it. We are both men of
the world, and WE know very well that our friends here, are not--eh?'
Mr. Jingle's face gradually relaxed; and something distantly
resembling a wink quivered for an instant in his left eye.
'Very good, very good,' said the little man, observing the
impression he had made. 'Now, the fact is, that beyond a few
hundreds, the lady has little or nothing till the death of her
mother--fine old lady, my dear Sir.'
'OLD,' said Mr. Jingle briefly but emphatically.
'Why, yes,' said the attorney, with a slight cough. 'You are
right, my dear Sir, she is rather old. She comes of an old family
though, my dear Sir; old in every sense of the word. The founder
of that family came into Kent when Julius Caesar invaded
Britain;--only one member of it, since, who hasn't lived to eighty-five,
and he was beheaded by one of the Henrys. The old lady
is not seventy-three now, my dear Sir.' The little man paused, and
took a pinch of snuff.
'Well,' cried Mr. Jingle.
'Well, my dear sir--you don't take snuff!--ah! so much the
better--expensive habit--well, my dear Sir, you're a fine young
man, man of the world--able to push your fortune, if you had
'Well,' said Mr. Jingle again.
'Do you comprehend me?'
'Don't you think--now, my dear Sir, I put it to you don't you
think--that fifty pounds and liberty would be better than Miss
Wardle and expectation?'
'Won't do--not half enough!' said Mr. Jingle, rising.
'Nay, nay, my dear Sir,' remonstrated the little attorney,
seizing him by the button. 'Good round sum--a man like you
could treble it in no time--great deal to be done with fifty pounds,
my dear Sir.'
'More to be done with a hundred and fifty,' replied Mr. Jingle coolly.
'Well, my dear Sir, we won't waste time in splitting straws,'
resumed the little man, 'say--say--seventy.'
'Won't do,' said Mr. Jingle.
'Don't go away, my dear sir--pray don't hurry,' said the little
man. 'Eighty; come: I'll write you a cheque at once.'
'Won't do,' said Mr. Jingle.
'Well, my dear Sir, well,' said the little man, still detaining him;
'just tell me what WILL do.'
'Expensive affair,' said Mr. Jingle. 'Money out of pocket--
posting, nine pounds; licence, three--that's twelve--compensation,
a hundred--hundred and twelve--breach of honour--and
loss of the lady--'
'Yes, my dear Sir, yes,' said the little man, with a knowing look,
'never mind the last two items. That's a hundred and twelve--say
'And twenty,' said Mr. Jingle.
'Come, come, I'll write you a cheque,' said the little man; and
down he sat at the table for that purpose.
'I'll make it payable the day after to-morrow,' said the little
man, with a look towards Mr. Wardle; 'and we can get the lady
away, meanwhile.' Mr. Wardle sullenly nodded assent.
'A hundred,' said the little man.
'And twenty,' said Mr. Jingle.
'My dear Sir,' remonstrated the little man.
'Give it him,' interposed Mr. Wardle, 'and let him go.'
The cheque was written by the little gentleman, and pocketed
by Mr. Jingle.
'Now, leave this house instantly!' said Wardle, starting up.
'My dear Sir,' urged the little man.
'And mind,' said Mr. Wardle, 'that nothing should have
induced me to make this compromise--not even a regard for my
family--if I had not known that the moment you got any money
in that pocket of yours, you'd go to the devil faster, if possible,
than you would without it--'
'My dear sir,' urged the little man again.
'Be quiet, Perker,' resumed Wardle. 'Leave the room, Sir.'
'Off directly,' said the unabashed Jingle. 'Bye bye, Pickwick.'
If any dispassionate spectator could have beheld the countenance
of the illustrious man, whose name forms the leading
feature of the title of this work, during the latter part of this
conversation, he would have been almost induced to wonder that
the indignant fire which flashed from his eyes did not melt the
glasses of his spectacles--so majestic was his wrath. His nostrils
dilated, and his fists clenched involuntarily, as he heard himself
addressed by the villain. But he restrained himself again--he did
not pulverise him.
'Here,' continued the hardened traitor, tossing the licence at
Mr. Pickwick's feet; 'get the name altered--take home the lady
--do for Tuppy.'
Mr. Pickwick was a philosopher, but philosophers are only
men in armour, after all. The shaft had reached him, penetrated
through his philosophical harness, to his very heart. In the frenzy
of his rage, he hurled the inkstand madly forward, and followed
it up himself. But Mr. Jingle had disappeared, and he found
himself caught in the arms of Sam.
'Hollo,' said that eccentric functionary, 'furniter's cheap
where you come from, Sir. Self-acting ink, that 'ere; it's wrote
your mark upon the wall, old gen'l'm'n. Hold still, Sir; wot's the
use o' runnin' arter a man as has made his lucky, and got to
t'other end of the Borough by this time?'
Mr. Pickwick's mind, like those of all truly great men, was open
to conviction. He was a quick and powerful reasoner; and
a moment's reflection sufficed to remind him of the impotency
of his rage. It subsided as quickly as it had been roused.
He panted for breath, and looked benignantly round upon his
Shall we tell the lamentations that ensued when Miss Wardle
found herself deserted by the faithless Jingle? Shall we extract
Mr. Pickwick's masterly description of that heartrending scene?
His note-book, blotted with the tears of sympathising humanity,
lies open before us; one word, and it is in the printer's hands.
But, no! we will be resolute! We will not wring the public
bosom, with the delineation of such suffering!
Slowly and sadly did the two friends and the deserted lady
return next day in the Muggleton heavy coach. Dimly and
darkly had the sombre shadows of a summer's night fallen upon
all around, when they again reached Dingley Dell, and stood
within the entrance to Manor Farm.
INVOLVING ANOTHER JOURNEY, AND AN ANTIQUARIAN
DISCOVERY; RECORDING Mr. PICKWICK'S DETERMINATION
TO BE PRESENT AT AN ELECTION; AND CONTAINING
A MANUSCRIPT OF THE OLD CLERGYMAN'S
A night of quiet and repose in the profound silence of Dingley
Dell, and an hour's breathing of its fresh and fragrant air
on the ensuing morning, completely recovered Mr. Pickwick
from the effects of his late fatigue of body and anxiety of mind.
That illustrious man had been separated from his friends and
fol lowers for two whole days; and it was with a degree of pleasure
and delight, which no common imagination can adequately
conceive, that he stepped forward to greet Mr. Winkle and Mr.
Snodgrass, as he encountered those gentlemen on his return from
his early walk. The pleasure was mutual; for who could ever gaze
on Mr. Pickwick's beaming face without experiencing the
sensation? But still a cloud seemed to hang over his companions
which that great man could not but be sensible of, and was wholly
at a loss to account for. There was a mysterious air about them
both, as unusual as it was alarming.
'And how,' said Mr. Pickwick, when he had grasped his
followers by the hand, and exchanged warm salutations of
welcome--'how is Tupman?'
Mr. Winkle, to whom the question was more peculiarly
addressed, made no reply. He turned away his head, and appeared
absorbed in melancholy reflection.
'Snodgrass,' said Mr. Pickwick earnestly, 'how is our friend--
he is not ill?'
'No,' replied Mr. Snodgrass; and a tear trembled on his
sentimental eyelid, like a rain-drop on a window-frame-'no; he
is not ill.'
Mr. Pickwick stopped, and gazed on each of his friends in turn.
'Winkle--Snodgrass,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'what does this
mean? Where is our friend? What has happened? Speak--I
conjure, I entreat--nay, I command you, speak.'
There was a solemnity--a dignity--in Mr. Pickwick's manner,
not to be withstood.
'He is gone,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'Gone!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick. 'Gone!'
'Gone,' repeated Mr. Snodgrass.
'Where!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick.
'We can only guess, from that communication,' replied Mr.
Snodgrass, taking a letter from his pocket, and placing it in his
friend's hand. 'Yesterday morning, when a letter was received
from Mr. Wardle, stating that you would be home with his sister
at night, the melancholy which had hung over our friend during
the whole of the previous day, was observed to increase. He
shortly afterwards disappeared: he was missing during the whole
day, and in the evening this letter was brought by the hostler
from the Crown, at Muggleton. It had been left in his charge in
the morning, with a strict injunction that it should not be
delivered until night.'
Mr. Pickwick opened the epistle. It was in his friend's hand-
writing, and these were its contents:--
'MY DEAR PICKWICK,--YOU, my dear friend, are placed far
beyond the reach of many mortal frailties and weaknesses which
ordinary people cannot overcome. You do not know what it
is, at one blow, to be deserted by a lovely and fascinating
creature, and to fall a victim to the artifices of a villain, who had
the grin of cunning beneath the mask of friendship. I hope you
'Any letter addressed to me at the Leather Bottle, Cobham,
Kent, will be forwarded--supposing I still exist. I hasten from
the sight of that world, which has become odious to me. Should
I hasten from it altogether, pity--forgive me. Life, my dear
Pickwick, has become insupportable to me. The spirit which
burns within us, is a porter's knot, on which to rest the heavy
load of worldly cares and troubles; and when that spirit fails us,
the burden is too heavy to be borne. We sink beneath it. You
may tell Rachael--Ah, that name!--
'We must leave this place directly,' said Mr. Pickwick, as he
refolded the note. 'It would not have been decent for us to
remain here, under any circumstances, after what has happened;
and now we are bound to follow in search of our friend.' And
so saying, he led the way to the house.
His intention was rapidly communicated. The entreaties to
remain were pressing, but Mr. Pickwick was inflexible. Business,
he said, required his immediate attendance.
The old clergyman was present.
'You are not really going?' said he, taking Mr. Pickwick aside.
Mr. Pickwick reiterated his former determination.
'Then here,' said the old gentleman, 'is a little manuscript,
which I had hoped to have the pleasure of reading to you myself.
I found it on the death of a friend of mine--a medical man,
engaged in our county lunatic asylum--among a variety of
papers, which I had the option of destroying or preserving, as I
thought proper. I can hardly believe that the manuscript is
genuine, though it certainly is not in my friend's hand. However,
whether it be the genuine production of a maniac, or founded
upon the ravings of some unhappy being (which I think more
probable), read it, and judge for yourself.'
Mr. Pickwick received the manuscript, and parted from the
benevolent old gentleman with many expressions of good-will
It was a more difficult task to take leave of the inmates of
Manor Farm, from whom they had received so much hospitality
and kindness. Mr. Pickwick kissed the young ladies--we were
going to say, as if they were his own daughters, only, as he might
possibly have infused a little more warmth into the salutation, the
comparison would not be quite appropriate--hugged the old lady
with filial cordiality; and patted the rosy cheeks of the female
servants in a most patriarchal manner, as he slipped into the
hands of each some more substantial expression of his approval.
The exchange of cordialities with their fine old host and Mr.
Trundle was even more hearty and prolonged; and it was not
until Mr. Snodgrass had been several times called for, and at last
emerged from a dark passage followed soon after by Emily
(whose bright eyes looked unusually dim), that the three friends
were enabled to tear themselves from their friendly entertainers.
Many a backward look they gave at the farm, as they walked
slowly away; and many a kiss did Mr. Snodgrass waft in the air,
in acknowledgment of something very like a lady's handkerchief,
which was waved from one of the upper windows, until a turn of
the lane hid the old house from their sight.
At Muggleton they procured a conveyance to Rochester. By
the time they reached the last-named place, the violence of their
grief had sufficiently abated to admit of their making a very
excellent early dinner; and having procured the necessary information
relative to the road, the three friends set forward again in
the afternoon to walk to Cobham.
A delightful walk it was; for it was a pleasant afternoon in
June, and their way lay through a deep and shady wood, cooled
by the light wind which gently rustled the thick foliage, and
enlivened by the songs of the birds that perched upon the boughs.
The ivy and the moss crept in thick clusters over the old trees,
and the soft green turf overspread the ground like a silken
mat. They emerged upon an open park, with an ancient hall,
displaying the quaint and picturesque architecture of Elizabeth's
time. Long vistas of stately oaks and elm trees appeared on
every side; large herds of deer were cropping the fresh grass;
and occasionally a startled hare scoured along the ground,
with the speed of the shadows thrown by the light clouds
which swept across a sunny landscape like a passing breath of summer.
'If this,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking about him--'if this were
the place to which all who are troubled with our friend's complaint
came, I fancy their old attachment to this world would very
'I think so too,' said Mr. Winkle.
'And really,' added Mr. Pickwick, after half an hour's walking
had brought them to the village, 'really, for a misanthrope's
choice, this is one of the prettiest and most desirable places of
residence I ever met with.'
In this opinion also, both Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass
expressed their concurrence; and having been directed to the
Leather Bottle, a clean and commodious village ale-house, the
three travellers entered, and at once inquired for a gentleman of
the name of Tupman.
'Show the gentlemen into the parlour, Tom,' said the landlady.
A stout country lad opened a door at the end of the passage,
and the three friends entered a long, low-roofed room, furnished
with a large number of high-backed leather-cushioned chairs, of
fantastic shapes, and embellished with a great variety of old
portraits and roughly-coloured prints of some antiquity. At the
upper end of the room was a table, with a white cloth upon it,
well covered with a roast fowl, bacon, ale, and et ceteras; and at
the table sat Mr. Tupman, looking as unlike a man who had
taken his leave of the world, as possible.
On the entrance of his friends, that gentleman laid down his
knife and fork, and with a mournful air advanced to meet them.
'I did not expect to see you here,' he said, as he grasped Mr.
Pickwick's hand. 'It's very kind.'
'Ah!' said Mr. Pickwick, sitting down, and wiping from his
forehead the perspiration which the walk had engendered. 'Finish
your dinner, and walk out with me. I wish to speak to you alone.'
Mr. Tupman did as he was desired; and Mr. Pickwick having refreshed
himself with a copious draught of ale, waited his friend's leisure.
The dinner was quickly despatched, and they walked out together.
For half an hour, their forms might have been seen pacing the
churchyard to and fro, while Mr. Pickwick was engaged in
combating his companion's resolution. Any repetition of his
arguments would be useless; for what language could convey to
them that energy and force which their great originator's manner
communicated? Whether Mr. Tupman was already tired of
retirement, or whether he was wholly unable to resist the eloquent
appeal which was made to him, matters not, he did NOT resist it
'It mattered little to him,' he said, 'where he dragged out the
miserable remainder of his days; and since his friend laid so
much stress upon his humble companionship, he was willing to
share his adventures.'
Mr. Pickwick smiled; they shook hands, and walked back to
rejoin their companions.
It was at this moment that Mr. Pickwick made that immortal
discovery, which has been the pride and boast of his friends, and
the envy of every antiquarian in this or any other country. They
had passed the door of their inn, and walked a little way down
the village, before they recollected the precise spot in which it
stood. As they turned back, Mr. Pickwick's eye fell upon a small
broken stone, partially buried in the ground, in front of a cottage
door. He paused.
'This is very strange,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'What is strange?' inquired Mr. Tupman, staring eagerly at
every object near him, but the right one. 'God bless me, what's
This last was an ejaculation of irrepressible astonishment,
occasioned by seeing Mr. Pickwick, in his enthusiasm for
discovery, fall on his knees before the little stone, and commence
wiping the dust off it with his pocket-handkerchief.
'There is an inscription here,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Is it possible?' said Mr. Tupman.
'I can discern,'continued Mr. Pickwick, rubbing away with all
his might, and gazing intently through his spectacles--'I can
discern a cross, and a 13, and then a T. This is important,'
continued Mr. Pickwick, starting up. 'This is some very old
inscription, existing perhaps long before the ancient alms-houses
in this place. It must not be lost.'
He tapped at the cottage door. A labouring man opened it.
'Do you know how this stone came here, my friend?' inquired
the benevolent Mr. Pickwick.
'No, I doan't, Sir,' replied the man civilly. 'It was here long
afore I was born, or any on us.'
Mr. Pickwick glanced triumphantly at his companion.
'You--you--are not particularly attached to it, I dare say,'
said Mr. Pickwick, trembling with anxiety. 'You wouldn't mind
selling it, now?'
'Ah! but who'd buy it?' inquired the man, with an expression
of face which he probably meant to be very cunning.
'I'll give you ten shillings for it, at once,' said Mr. Pickwick,
'if you would take it up for me.'
The astonishment of the village may be easily imagined, when
(the little stone having been raised with one wrench of a spade)
Mr. Pickwick, by dint of great personal exertion, bore it with his
own hands to the inn, and after having carefully washed it,
deposited it on the table.
The exultation and joy of the Pickwickians knew no bounds,
when their patience and assiduity, their washing and scraping,
were crowned with success. The stone was uneven and broken,
and the letters were straggling and irregular, but the following
fragment of an inscription was clearly to be deciphered:--
[cross] B I L S T
P S H I
Mr. Pickwick's eyes sparkled with delight, as he sat and
gloated over the treasure he had discovered. He had attained one
of the greatest objects of his ambition. In a county known to
abound in the remains of the early ages; in a village in which
there still existed some memorials of the olden time, he--he, the
chairman of the Pickwick Club--had discovered a strange and
curious inscription of unquestionable antiquity, which had
wholly escaped the observation of the many learned men who had
preceded him. He could hardly trust the evidence of his senses.
'This--this,' said he, 'determines me. We return to town to-morrow.'
'To-morrow!' exclaimed his admiring followers.
'To-morrow,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'This treasure must be at once
deposited where it can be thoroughly investigated and properly
understood. I have another reason for this step. In a few days,
an election is to take place for the borough of Eatanswill, at
which Mr. Perker, a gentleman whom I lately met, is the agent of
one of the candidates. We will behold, and minutely examine, a
scene so interesting to every Englishman.'
'We will,' was the animated cry of three voices.
Mr. Pickwick looked round him. The attachment and fervour
of his followers lighted up a glow of enthusiasm within him. He
was their leader, and he felt it.
'Let us celebrate this happy meeting with a convivial glass,' said
he. This proposition, like the other, was received with unanimous
applause. Having himself deposited the important stone in a small
deal box, purchased from the landlady for the purpose, he
placed himself in an arm-chair, at the head of the table; and the
evening was devoted to festivity and conversation.
It was past eleven o'clock--a late hour for the little village of
Cobham--when Mr. Pickwick retired to the bedroom which had
been prepared for his reception. He threw open the lattice
window, and setting his light upon the table, fell into a train of
meditation on the hurried events of the two preceding days.
The hour and the place were both favourable to contemplation;
Mr. Pickwick was roused by the church clock striking
twelve. The first stroke of the hour sounded solemnly in his ear,
but when the bell ceased the stillness seemed insupportable--he
almost felt as if he had lost a companion. He was nervous and
excited; and hastily undressing himself and placing his light in
the chimney, got into bed.
Every one has experienced that disagreeable state of mind, in
which a sensation of bodily weariness in vain contends against an
inability to sleep. It was Mr. Pickwick's condition at this
moment: he tossed first on one side and then on the other; and
perseveringly closed his eyes as if to coax himself to slumber. It
was of no use. Whether it was the unwonted exertion he had
undergone, or the heat, or the brandy-and-water, or the strange
bed--whatever it was, his thoughts kept reverting very
uncomfortably to the grim pictures downstairs, and the old stories
to which they had given rise in the course of the evening. After
half an hour's tumbling about, he came to the unsatisfactory
conclusion, that it was of no use trying to sleep; so he got up and
partially dressed himself. Anything, he thought, was better than
lying there fancying all kinds of horrors. He looked out of the
window--it was very dark. He walked about the room--it was
He had taken a few turns from the door to the window, and
from the window to the door, when the clergyman's manuscript
for the first time entered his head. It was a good thought. if it
failed to interest him, it might send him to sleep. He took it from
his coat pocket, and drawing a small table towards his bedside,
trimmed the light, put on his spectacles, and composed himself
to read. It was a strange handwriting, and the paper was much
soiled and blotted. The title gave him a sudden start, too; and he
could not avoid casting a wistful glance round the room.
Reflecting on the absurdity of giving way to such feelings,
however, he trimmed the light again, and read as follows:--
A MADMAN'S MANUSCRIPT
'Yes!--a madman's! How that word would have struck to my
heart, many years ago! How it would have roused the terror that
used to come upon me sometimes, sending the blood hissing and
tingling through my veins, till the cold dew of fear stood in large
drops upon my skin, and my knees knocked together with
fright! I like it now though. It's a fine name. Show me the
monarch whose angry frown was ever feared like the glare of a
madman's eye--whose cord and axe were ever half so sure as
a madman's gripe. Ho! ho! It's a grand thing to be mad! to be
peeped at like a wild lion through the iron bars--to gnash one's
teeth and howl, through the long still night, to the merry ring of
a heavy chain and to roll and twine among the straw, transported
with such brave music. Hurrah for the madhouse! Oh, it's
a rare place!
'I remember days when I was afraid of being mad; when I used
to start from my sleep, and fall upon my knees, and pray to be
spared from the curse of my race; when I rushed from the sight of
merriment or happiness, to hide myself in some lonely place, and
spend the weary hours in watching the progress of the fever that
was to consume my brain. I knew that madness was mixed up
with my very blood, and the marrow of my bones! that one
generation had passed away without the pestilence appearing
among them, and that I was the first in whom it would revive. I
knew it must be so: that so it always had been, and so it ever
would be: and when I cowered in some obscure corner of a
crowded room, and saw men whisper, and point, and turn their
eyes towards me, I knew they were telling each other of the
doomed madman; and I slunk away again to mope in solitude.
'I did this for years; long, long years they were. The nights here
are long sometimes--very long; but they are nothing to the
restless nights, and dreadful dreams I had at that time. It makes
me cold to remember them. Large dusky forms with sly and
jeering faces crouched in the corners of the room, and bent over
my bed at night, tempting me to madness. They told me in low
whispers, that the floor of the old house in which my father died,
was stained with his own blood, shed by his own hand in raging
madness. I drove my fingers into my ears, but they screamed into
my head till the room rang with it, that in one generation before
him the madness slumbered, but that his grandfather had lived
for years with his hands fettered to the ground, to prevent his
tearing himself to pieces. I knew they told the truth--I knew it
well. I had found it out years before, though they had tried to
keep it from me. Ha! ha! I was too cunning for them, madman
as they thought me.
'At last it came upon me, and I wondered how I could ever
have feared it. I could go into the world now, and laugh and
shout with the best among them. I knew I was mad, but they did
not even suspect it. How I used to hug myself with delight, when
I thought of the fine trick I was playing them after their old
pointing and leering, when I was not mad, but only dreading that
I might one day become so! And how I used to laugh for joy,
when I was alone, and thought how well I kept my secret, and
how quickly my kind friends would have fallen from me, if they
had known the truth. I could have screamed with ecstasy when I
dined alone with some fine roaring fellow, to think how pale he
would have turned, and how fast he would have run, if he had
known that the dear friend who sat close to him, sharpening a
bright, glittering knife, was a madman with all the power, and
half the will, to plunge it in his heart. Oh, it was a merry life!
'Riches became mine, wealth poured in upon me, and I rioted
in pleasures enhanced a thousandfold to me by the consciousness
of my well-kept secret. I inherited an estate. The law--the eagle-
eyed law itself--had been deceived, and had handed over disputed
thousands to a madman's hands. Where was the wit of the sharp-
sighted men of sound mind? Where the dexterity of the lawyers,
eager to discover a flaw? The madman's cunning had overreached
'I had money. How I was courted! I spent it profusely. How I
was praised! How those three proud, overbearing brothers
humbled themselves before me! The old, white-headed father,
too--such deference--such respect--such devoted friendship--
he worshipped me! The old man had a daughter, and the young
men a sister; and all the five were poor. I was rich; and when I
married the girl, I saw a smile of triumph play upon the faces of
her needy relatives, as they thought of their well-planned scheme,
and their fine prize. It was for me to smile. To smile! To laugh
outright, and tear my hair, and roll upon the ground with shrieks
of merriment. They little thought they had married her to a madman.
'Stay. If they had known it, would they have saved her? A
sister's happiness against her husband's gold. The lightest feather
I blow into the air, against the gay chain that ornaments my body!
'In one thing I was deceived with all my cunning. If I had not
been mad--for though we madmen are sharp-witted enough, we
get bewildered sometimes--I should have known that the girl
would rather have been placed, stiff and cold in a dull leaden
coffin, than borne an envied bride to my rich, glittering house. I
should have known that her heart was with the dark-eyed boy
whose name I once heard her breathe in her troubled sleep; and
that she had been sacrificed to me, to relieve the poverty of the
old, white-headed man and the haughty brothers.
'I don't remember forms or faces now, but I know the girl was
beautiful. I know she was; for in the bright moonlight nights,
when I start up from my sleep, and all is quiet about me, I see,
standing still and motionless in one corner of this cell, a slight
and wasted figure with long black hair, which, streaming down
her back, stirs with no earthly wind, and eyes that fix their gaze
on me, and never wink or close. Hush! the blood chills at my
heart as I write it down--that form is HERS; the face is very pale,
and the eyes are glassy bright; but I know them well. That figure
never moves; it never frowns and mouths as others do, that fill
this place sometimes; but it is much more dreadful to me, even
than the spirits that tempted me many years ago--it comes fresh
from the grave; and is so very death-like.
'For nearly a year I saw that face grow paler; for nearly a year
I saw the tears steal down the mournful cheeks, and never knew
the cause. I found it out at last though. They could not keep it
from me long. She had never liked me; I had never thought she
did: she despised my wealth, and hated the splendour in which
she lived; but I had not expected that. She loved another. This I
had never thought of. Strange feelings came over me, and
thoughts, forced upon me by some secret power, whirled round
and round my brain. I did not hate her, though I hated the boy
she still wept for. I pitied--yes, I pitied--the wretched life to
which her cold and selfish relations had doomed her. I knew that
she could not live long; but the thought that before her death she
might give birth to some ill-fated being, destined to hand down
madness to its offspring, determined me. I resolved to kill her.
'For many weeks I thought of poison, and then of drowning,
and then of fire. A fine sight, the grand house in flames, and the
madman's wife smouldering away to cinders. Think of the jest of
a large reward, too, and of some sane man swinging in the wind
for a deed he never did, and all through a madman's cunning!
I thought often of this, but I gave it up at last. Oh! the pleasure
of stropping the razor day after day, feeling the sharp edge, and
thinking of the gash one stroke of its thin, bright edge would make!
'At last the old spirits who had been with me so often before
whispered in my ear that the time was come, and thrust the open
razor into my hand. I grasped it firmly, rose softly from the bed,
and leaned over my sleeping wife. Her face was buried in her
hands. I withdrew them softly, and they fell listlessly on her
bosom. She had been weeping; for the traces of the tears were
still wet upon her cheek. Her face was calm and placid; and even
as I looked upon it, a tranquil smile lighted up her pale features.
I laid my hand softly on her shoulder. She started--it was only a
passing dream. I leaned forward again. She screamed, and woke.
'One motion of my hand, and she would never again have
uttered cry or sound. But I was startled, and drew back. Her eyes
were fixed on mine. I knew not how it was, but they cowed and
frightened me; and I quailed beneath them. She rose from the bed,
still gazing fixedly and steadily on me. I trembled; the razor was
in my hand, but I could not move. She made towards the door.
As she neared it, she turned, and withdrew her eyes from my face.
The spell was broken. I bounded forward, and clutched her by
the arm. Uttering shriek upon shriek, she sank upon the ground.
'Now I could have killed her without a struggle; but the house
was alarmed. I heard the tread of footsteps on the stairs. I
replaced the razor in its usual drawer, unfastened the door, and
called loudly for assistance.
'They came, and raised her, and placed her on the bed. She lay bereft
of animation for hours; and when life, look, and speech returned,
her senses had deserted her, and she raved wildly and furiously.
'Doctors were called in--great men who rolled up to my door
in easy carriages, with fine horses and gaudy servants. They were
at her bedside for weeks. They had a great meeting and consulted
together in low and solemn voices in another room. One, the
cleverest and most celebrated among them, took me aside, and
bidding me prepare for the worst, told me--me, the madman!--
that my wife was mad. He stood close beside me at an open
window, his eyes looking in my face, and his hand laid upon my
arm. With one effort, I could have hurled him into the street
beneath. It would have been rare sport to have done it; but my
secret was at stake, and I let him go. A few days after, they told
me I must place her under some restraint: I must provide a
keeper for her. I! I went into the open fields where none could
hear me, and laughed till the air resounded with my shouts!
'She died next day. The white-headed old man followed her to
the grave, and the proud brothers dropped a tear over the
insensible corpse of her whose sufferings they had regarded in her
lifetime with muscles of iron. All this was food for my secret
mirth, and I laughed behind the white handkerchief which I held
up to my face, as we rode home, till the tears Came into my eyes.
'But though I had carried my object and killed her, I was
restless and disturbed, and I felt that before long my secret must
be known. I could not hide the wild mirth and joy which boiled
within me, and made me when I was alone, at home, jump up and
beat my hands together, and dance round and round, and roar
aloud. When I went out, and saw the busy crowds hurrying
about the streets; or to the theatre, and heard the sound of
music, and beheld the people dancing, I felt such glee, that I
could have rushed among them, and torn them to pieces limb
from limb, and howled in transport. But I ground my teeth, and
struck my feet upon the floor, and drove my sharp nails into my
hands. I kept it down; and no one knew I was a madman yet.
'I remember--though it's one of the last things I can remember:
for now I mix up realities with my dreams, and having so much
to do, and being always hurried here, have no time to separate
the two, from some strange confusion in which they get involved
--I remember how I let it out at last. Ha! ha! I think I see their
frightened looks now, and feel the ease with which I flung them
from me, and dashed my clenched fist into their white faces, and
then flew like the wind, and left them screaming and shouting
far behind. The strength of a giant comes upon me when I think
of it. There--see how this iron bar bends beneath my furious
wrench. I could snap it like a twig, only there are long galleries
here with many doors--I don't think I could find my way along
them; and even if I could, I know there are iron gates below
which they keep locked and barred. They know what a clever
madman I have been, and they are proud to have me here, to show.
'Let me see: yes, I had been out. It was late at night when I
reached home, and found the proudest of the three proud
brothers waiting to see me--urgent business he said: I recollect
it well. I hated that man with all a madman's hate. Many and
many a time had my fingers longed to tear him. They told me he
was there. I ran swiftly upstairs. He had a word to say to me. I
dismissed the servants. It was late, and we were alone together--
for the first time.
'I kept my eyes carefully from him at first, for I knew what he
little thought--and I gloried in the knowledge--that the light of
madness gleamed from them like fire. We sat in silence for a few
minutes. He spoke at last. My recent dissipation, and strange
remarks, made so soon after his sister's death, were an insult to
her memory. Coupling together many circumstances which had
at first escaped his observation, he thought I had not treated her
well. He wished to know whether he was right in inferring that I
meant to cast a reproach upon her memory, and a disrespect upon her
family. It was due to the uniform he wore, to demand this explanation.
'This man had a commission in the army--a commission,
purchased with my money, and his sister's misery! This was the
man who had been foremost in the plot to ensnare me, and grasp
my wealth. This was the man who had been the main instrument
in forcing his sister to wed me; well knowing that her heart was
given to that puling boy. Due to his uniform! The livery of his
degradation! I turned my eyes upon him--I could not help it--
but I spoke not a word.
'I saw the sudden change that came upon him beneath my
gaze. He was a bold man, but the colour faded from his face, and
he drew back his chair. I dragged mine nearer to him; and I
laughed--I was very merry then--I saw him shudder. I felt the
madness rising within me. He was afraid of me.
'"You were very fond of your sister when she was alive," I
'He looked uneasily round him, and I saw his hand grasp the
back of his chair; but he said nothing.
'"You villain," said I, "I found you out: I discovered your
hellish plots against me; I know her heart was fixed on some one
else before you compelled her to marry me. I know it--I know it."
'He jumped suddenly from his chair, brandished it aloft, and
bid me stand back--for I took care to be getting closer to him all
the time I spoke.
'I screamed rather than talked, for I felt tumultuous passions
eddying through my veins, and the old spirits whispering and
taunting me to tear his heart out.
'"Damn you," said I, starting up, and rushing upon him; "I
killed her. I am a madman. Down with you. Blood, blood! I will
'I turned aside with one blow the chair he hurled at me in his
terror, and closed with him; and with a heavy crash we rolled
upon the floor together.
'It was a fine struggle that; for he was a tall, strong man,
fighting for his life; and I, a powerful madman, thirsting to
destroy him. I knew no strength could equal mine, and I was
right. Right again, though a madman! His struggles grew fainter.
I knelt upon his chest, and clasped his brawny throat firmly with
both hands. His face grew purple; his eyes were starting from his
head, and with protruded tongue, he seemed to mock me. I
squeezed the tighter.
'The door was suddenly burst open with a loud noise, and a
crowd of people rushed forward, crying aloud to each other to
secure the madman.
'My secret was out; and my only struggle now was for liberty
and freedom. I gained my feet before a hand was on me, threw
myself among my assailants, and cleared my way with my strong
arm, as if I bore a hatchet in my hand, and hewed them down
before me. I gained the door, dropped over the banisters, and in
an instant was in the street.
'Straight and swift I ran, and no one dared to stop me. I heard
the noise of the feet behind, and redoubled my speed. It grew
fainter and fainter in the distance, and at length died away
altogether; but on I bounded, through marsh and rivulet, over
fence and wall, with a wild shout which was taken up by the
strange beings that flocked around me on every side, and swelled
the sound, till it pierced the air. I was borne upon the arms of
demons who swept along upon the wind, and bore down bank
and hedge before them, and spun me round and round with a
rustle and a speed that made my head swim, until at last they
threw me from them with a violent shock, and I fell heavily upon
the earth. When I woke I found myself here--here in this gray
cell, where the sunlight seldom comes, and the moon steals in, in
rays which only serve to show the dark shadows about me, and that
silent figure in its old corner. When I lie awake, I can sometimes
hear strange shrieks and cries from distant parts of this
large place. What they are, I know not; but they neither come
from that pale form, nor does it regard them. For from the first
shades of dusk till the earliest light of morning, it still stands
motionless in the same place, listening to the music of my iron
chain, and watching my gambols on my straw bed.'
At the end of the manuscript was written, in another hand, this
[The unhappy man whose ravings are recorded above, was a
melancholy instance of the baneful results of energies
misdirected in early life, and excesses prolonged until their
consequences could never be repaired. The thoughtless riot,
dissipation, and debauchery of his younger days produced fever and
delirium. The first effects of the latter was the strange delusion,
founded upon a well-known medical theory, strongly contended
for by some, and as strongly contested by others, that an
hereditary madness existed in his family. This produced a settled
gloom, which in time developed a morbid insanity, and finally
terminated in raving madness. There is every reason to believe
that the events he detailed, though distorted in the description
by his diseased imagination, really happened. It is only matter of
wonder to those who were acquainted with the vices of his early
career, that his passions, when no longer controlled by reason,
did not lead him to the commission of still more frightful deeds.]
Mr. Pickwick's candle was just expiring in the socket, as he
concluded the perusal of the old clergyman's manuscript; and
when the light went suddenly out, without any previous flicker
by way of warning, it communicated a very considerable start to
his excited frame. Hastily throwing off such articles of clothing as
he had put on when he rose from his uneasy bed, and casting a
fearful glance around, he once more scrambled hastily between
the sheets, and soon fell fast asleep.
The sun was shining brilliantly into his chamber, when he
awoke, and the morning was far advanced. The gloom which had
oppressed him on the previous night had disappeared with the
dark shadows which shrouded the landscape, and his thoughts
and feelings were as light and gay as the morning itself. After a
hearty breakfast, the four gentlemen sallied forth to walk to
Gravesend, followed by a man bearing the stone in its deal box.
They reached the town about one o'clock (their luggage they had
directed to be forwarded to the city, from Rochester), and being
fortunate enough to secure places on the outside of a coach,
arrived in London in sound health and spirits, on that same afternoon.
The next three or four days were occupied with the preparations
which were necessary for their journey to the borough of
Eatanswill. As any references to that most important undertaking
demands a separate chapter, we may devote the few lines
which remain at the close of this, to narrate, with great brevity,
the history of the antiquarian discovery.
It appears from the Transactions of the Club, then, that Mr.
Pickwick lectured upon the discovery at a General Club Meeting,
convened on the night succeeding their return, and entered into a
variety of ingenious and erudite speculations on the meaning of
the inscription. It also appears that a skilful artist executed a
faithful delineation of the curiosity, which was engraven on
stone, and presented to the Royal Antiquarian Society, and other
learned bodies: that heart-burnings and jealousies without
number were created by rival controversies which were penned
upon the subject; and that Mr. Pickwick himself wrote a
pamphlet, containing ninety-six pages of very small print, and
twenty-seven different readings of the inscription: that three old
gentlemen cut off their eldest sons with a shilling a-piece for
presuming to doubt the antiquity of the fragment; and that one
enthusiastic individual cut himself off prematurely, in despair at
being unable to fathom its meaning: that Mr. Pickwick was
elected an honorary member of seventeen native and foreign
societies, for making the discovery: that none of the seventeen
could make anything of it; but that all the seventeen agreed it
was very extraordinary.
Mr. Blotton, indeed--and the name will be doomed to the
undying contempt of those who cultivate the mysterious and the
sublime--Mr. Blotton, we say, with the doubt and cavilling
peculiar to vulgar minds, presumed to state a view of the case, as
degrading as ridiculous. Mr. Blotton, with a mean desire to
tarnish the lustre of the immortal name of Pickwick, actually
undertook a journey to Cobham in person, and on his return,
sarcastically observed in an oration at the club, that he had seen
the man from whom the stone was purchased; that the man
presumed the stone to be ancient, but solemnly denied the
antiquity of the inscription--inasmuch as he represented it to
have been rudely carved by himself in an idle mood, and to
display letters intended to bear neither more or less than the
simple construction of--'BILL STUMPS, HIS MARK'; and
that Mr. Stumps, being little in the habit of original composition,
and more accustomed to be guided by the sound of words than
by the strict rules of orthography, had omitted the concluding
'L' of his Christian name.
The Pickwick Club (as might have been expected from so
enlightened an institution) received this statement with the contempt
it deserved, expelled the presumptuous and ill-conditioned
Blotton from the society, and voted Mr. Pickwick a pair of gold
spectacles, in token of their confidence and approbation: in
return for which, Mr. Pickwick caused a portrait of himself to
be painted, and hung up in the club room.
Mr. Blotton was ejected but not conquered. He also wrote a
pamphlet, addressed to the seventeen learned societies, native
and foreign, containing a repetition of the statement he had
already made, and rather more than half intimating his opinion
that the seventeen learned societies were so many 'humbugs.'
Hereupon, the virtuous indignation of the seventeen learned
societies being roused, several fresh pamphlets appeared; the
foreign learned societies corresponded with the native learned
societies; the native learned societies translated the pamphlets of
the foreign learned societies into English; the foreign learned
societies translated the pamphlets of the native learned societies
into all sorts of languages; and thus commenced that celebrated
scientific discussion so well known to all men, as the Pickwick
But this base attempt to injure Mr. Pickwick recoiled upon the
head of its calumnious author. The seventeen learned societies
unanimously voted the presumptuous Blotton an ignorant
meddler, and forthwith set to work upon more treatises than
ever. And to this day the stone remains, an illegible monument
of Mr. Pickwick's greatness, and a lasting trophy to the littleness
of his enemies.
DESCRIPTIVE OF A VERY IMPORTANT PROCEEDING ON
THE PART OF Mr. PICKWICK; NO LESS AN EPOCH IN HIS
LIFE, THAN IN THIS HISTORY
Mr. Pickwick's apartments in Goswell Street, although on a
limited scale, were not only of a very neat and comfortable
description, but peculiarly adapted for the residence of a man
of his genius and observation. His sitting-room was the first-floor
front, his bedroom the second-floor front; and thus, whether he were
sitting at his desk in his parlour, or standing before the dressing-
glass in his dormitory, he had an equal opportunity of contemplating
human nature in all the numerous phases it exhibits, in that not
more populous than popular thoroughfare. His landlady, Mrs. Bardell--
the relict and sole executrix of a deceased custom-house officer--was
a comely woman of bustling manners and agreeable appearance, with a
natural genius for cooking, improved by study and long practice, into
an exquisite talent. There were no children, no servants, no fowls.
The only other inmates of the house were a large man and a
small boy; the first a lodger, the second a production of Mrs.
Bardell's. The large man was always home precisely at ten
o'clock at night, at which hour he regularly condensed himself
into the limits of a dwarfish French bedstead in the back parlour;
and the infantine sports and gymnastic exercises of Master
Bardell were exclusively confined to the neighbouring pavements
and gutters. Cleanliness and quiet reigned throughout the house;
and in it Mr. Pickwick's will was law.
To any one acquainted with these points of the domestic
economy of the establishment, and conversant with the admirable
regulation of Mr. Pickwick's mind, his appearance and behaviour
on the morning previous to that which had been fixed upon for
the journey to Eatanswill would have been most mysterious and
unaccountable. He paced the room to and fro with hurried steps,
popped his head out of the window at intervals of about three
minutes each, constantly referred to his watch, and exhibited
many other manifestations of impatience very unusual with him.
It was evident that something of great importance was in
contemplation, but what that something was, not even Mrs. Bardell
had been enabled to discover.
'Mrs. Bardell,' said Mr. Pickwick, at last, as that amiable
female approached the termination of a prolonged dusting of the
'Sir,' said Mrs. Bardell.
'Your little boy is a very long time gone.'
'Why it's a good long way to the Borough, sir,' remonstrated
'Ah,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'very true; so it is.'
Mr. Pickwick relapsed into silence, and Mrs. Bardell resumed
'Mrs. Bardell,' said Mr. Pickwick, at the expiration of a few minutes.
'Sir,' said Mrs. Bardell again.
'Do you think it a much greater expense to keep two people,
than to keep one?'
'La, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Bardell, colouring up to the very
border of her cap, as she fancied she observed a species of
matrimonial twinkle in the eyes of her lodger; 'La, Mr. Pickwick,
what a question!'
'Well, but do you?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'That depends,' said Mrs. Bardell, approaching the duster very
near to Mr. Pickwick's elbow which was planted on the table.
'that depends a good deal upon the person, you know, Mr.
Pickwick; and whether it's a saving and careful person, sir.'
'That's very true,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'but the person I have in
my eye (here he looked very hard at Mrs. Bardell) I think
possesses these qualities; and has, moreover, a considerable
knowledge of the world, and a great deal of sharpness, Mrs.
Bardell, which may be of material use to me.'
'La, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Bardell, the crimson rising to her
'I do,' said Mr. Pickwick, growing energetic, as was his wont
in speaking of a subject which interested him--'I do, indeed; and
to tell you the truth, Mrs. Bardell, I have made up my mind.'
'Dear me, sir,'exclaimed Mrs. Bardell.
'You'll think it very strange now,' said the amiable Mr.
Pickwick, with a good-humoured glance at his companion, 'that
I never consulted you about this matter, and never even mentioned
it, till I sent your little boy out this morning--eh?'
Mrs. Bardell could only reply by a look. She had long worshipped
Mr. Pickwick at a distance, but here she was, all at once,
raised to a pinnacle to which her wildest and most extravagant
hopes had never dared to aspire. Mr. Pickwick was going to
propose--a deliberate plan, too--sent her little boy to the
Borough, to get him out of the way--how thoughtful--how considerate!
'Well,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'what do you think?'
'Oh, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Bardell, trembling with agitation,
'you're very kind, sir.'
'It'll save you a good deal of trouble, won't it?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Oh, I never thought anything of the trouble, sir,' replied
Mrs. Bardell; 'and, of course, I should take more trouble to
please you then, than ever; but it is so kind of you, Mr. Pickwick,
to have so much consideration for my loneliness.'
'Ah, to be sure,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'I never thought of that.
When I am in town, you'll always have somebody to sit with you.
To be sure, so you will.'
'I am sure I ought to be a very happy woman,' said Mrs. Bardell.
'And your little boy--' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Bless his heart!' interposed Mrs. Bardell, with a maternal sob.
'He, too, will have a companion,' resumed Mr. Pickwick, 'a
lively one, who'll teach him, I'll be bound, more tricks in a week
than he would ever learn in a year.' And Mr. Pickwick smiled placidly.
'Oh, you dear--' said Mrs. Bardell.
Mr. Pickwick started.
'Oh, you kind, good, playful dear,' said Mrs. Bardell; and
without more ado, she rose from her chair, and flung her arms
round Mr. Pickwick's neck, with a cataract of tears and a chorus
'Bless my soul,' cried the astonished Mr. Pickwick; 'Mrs.
Bardell, my good woman--dear me, what a situation--pray
consider.--Mrs. Bardell, don't--if anybody should come--'
'Oh, let them come,' exclaimed Mrs. Bardell frantically; 'I'll
never leave you --dear, kind, good soul;' and, with these words,
Mrs. Bardell clung the tighter.
'Mercy upon me,' said Mr. Pickwick, struggling violently, 'I
hear somebody coming up the stairs. Don't, don't, there's a good
creature, don't.' But entreaty and remonstrance were alike
unavailing; for Mrs. Bardell had fainted in Mr. Pickwick's arms;
and before he could gain time to deposit her on a chair, Master
Bardell entered the room, ushering in Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle,
and Mr. Snodgrass.
Mr. Pickwick was struck motionless and speechless. He stood
with his lovely burden in his arms, gazing vacantly on the
countenances of his friends, without the slightest attempt at
recognition or explanation. They, in their turn, stared at him;
and Master Bardell, in his turn, stared at everybody.
The astonishment of the Pickwickians was so absorbing, and
the perplexity of Mr. Pickwick was so extreme, that they might
have remained in exactly the same relative situations until the
suspended animation of the lady was restored, had it not been for
a most beautiful and touching expression of filial affection on the
part of her youthful son. Clad in a tight suit of corduroy,
spangled with brass buttons of a very considerable size, he at first
stood at the door astounded and uncertain; but by degrees, the
impression that his mother must have suffered some personal
damage pervaded his partially developed mind, and considering
Mr. Pickwick as the aggressor, he set up an appalling and semi-
earthly kind of howling, and butting forward with his head,
commenced assailing that immortal gentleman about the back
and legs, with such blows and pinches as the strength of his arm,
and the violence of his excitement, allowed.
'Take this little villain away,' said the agonised Mr. Pickwick,
'What is the matter?' said the three tongue-tied Pickwickians.
'I don't know,' replied Mr. Pickwick pettishly. 'Take away the
boy.' (Here Mr. Winkle carried the interesting boy, screaming
and struggling, to the farther end of the apartment.) 'Now help
me, lead this woman downstairs.'
'Oh, I am better now,' said Mrs. Bardell faintly.
'Let me lead you downstairs,' said the ever-gallant Mr. Tupman.
'Thank you, sir--thank you;' exclaimed Mrs. Bardell hysterically.
And downstairs she was led accordingly, accompanied by
her affectionate son.
'I cannot conceive,' said Mr. Pickwick when his friend
returned--'I cannot conceive what has been the matter with that
woman. I had merely announced to her my intention of keeping
a man-servant, when she fell into the extraordinary paroxysm in
which you found her. Very extraordinary thing.'
'Very,' said his three friends.
'Placed me in such an extremely awkward situation,'
continued Mr. Pickwick.
'Very,' was the reply of his followers, as they coughed slightly,
and looked dubiously at each other.
This behaviour was not lost upon Mr. Pickwick. He remarked
their incredulity. They evidently suspected him.
'There is a man in the passage now,' said Mr. Tupman.
'It's the man I spoke to you about,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'I sent
for him to the Borough this morning. Have the goodness to call
him up, Snodgrass.'
Mr. Snodgrass did as he was desired; and Mr. Samuel Weller
forthwith presented himself.
'Oh--you remember me, I suppose?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'I should think so,' replied Sam, with a patronising wink.
'Queer start that 'ere, but he was one too many for you, warn't
he? Up to snuff and a pinch or two over--eh?'
'Never mind that matter now,' said Mr. Pickwick hastily;
'I want to speak to you about something else. Sit down.'
'Thank'ee, sir,' said Sam. And down he sat without further
bidding, having previously deposited his old white hat on the
landing outside the door. ''Tain't a wery good 'un to look at,'
said Sam, 'but it's an astonishin' 'un to wear; and afore the brim
went, it was a wery handsome tile. Hows'ever it's lighter without
it, that's one thing, and every hole lets in some air, that's another
--wentilation gossamer I calls it.' On the delivery of this sentiment,
Mr. Weller smiled agreeably upon the assembled Pickwickians.
'Now with regard to the matter on which I, with the concurrence
of these gentlemen, sent for you,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'That's the pint, sir,' interposed Sam; 'out vith it, as the father
said to his child, when he swallowed a farden.'
'We want to know, in the first place,' said Mr. Pickwick,
'whether you have any reason to be discontented with your present
'Afore I answers that 'ere question, gen'l'm'n,' replied Mr.
Weller, 'I should like to know, in the first place, whether you're
a-goin' to purwide me with a better?'
A sunbeam of placid benevolence played on Mr. Pickwick's
features as he said, 'I have half made up my mind to engage you
'Have you, though?' said Sam.
Mr. Pickwick nodded in the affirmative.
'Wages?' inquired Sam.
'Twelve pounds a year,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'To attend upon me; and travel about with me and these
'Take the bill down,' said Sam emphatically. 'I'm let to a
single gentleman, and the terms is agreed upon.'
'You accept the situation?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Cert'nly,' replied Sam. 'If the clothes fits me half as well as
the place, they'll do.'
'You can get a character of course?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Ask the landlady o' the White Hart about that, Sir,' replied Sam.
'Can you come this evening?'
'I'll get into the clothes this minute, if they're here,' said Sam,
with great alacrity.
'Call at eight this evening,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'and if the
inquiries are satisfactory, they shall be provided.'
With the single exception of one amiable indiscretion, in
which an assistant housemaid had equally participated, the
history of Mr. Weller's conduct was so very blameless, that Mr.
Pickwick felt fully justified in closing the engagement that very
evening. With the promptness and energy which characterised
not only the public proceedings, but all the private actions of this
extraordinary man, he at once led his new attendant to one of
those convenient emporiums where gentlemen's new and second-
hand clothes are provided, and the troublesome and inconvenient
formality of measurement dispensed with; and before night had
closed in, Mr. Weller was furnished with a grey coat with the
P. C. button, a black hat with a cockade to it, a pink striped
waistcoat, light breeches and gaiters, and a variety of other
necessaries, too numerous to recapitulate.
'Well,' said that suddenly-transformed individual, as he took
his seat on the outside of the Eatanswill coach next morning; 'I
wonder whether I'm meant to be a footman, or a groom, or a
gamekeeper, or a seedsman. I looks like a sort of compo of every
one on 'em. Never mind; there's a change of air, plenty to see,
and little to do; and all this suits my complaint uncommon; so
long life to the Pickvicks, says I!'
SOME ACCOUNT OF EATANSWILL; OF THE STATE OF
PARTIES THEREIN; AND OF THE ELECTION OF A MEMBER
TO SERVE IN PARLIAMENT FOR THAT ANCIENT, LOYAL,
AND PATRIOTIC BOROUGH
We will frankly acknowledge that, up to the period of our being
first immersed in the voluminous papers of the Pickwick Club, we
had never heard of Eatanswill; we will with equal candour admit that
we have in vain searched for proof of the actual existence of such
a place at the present day. Knowing the deep reliance to be placed
on every note and statement of Mr. Pickwick's, and not presuming to
set up our recollection against the recorded declarations of that great
man, we have consulted every authority, bearing upon the subject, to
which we could possibly refer. We have traced every name in
schedules A and B, without meeting with that of Eatanswill; we
have minutely examined every corner of the pocket county maps
issued for the benefit of society by our distinguished publishers,
and the same result has attended our investigation. We are
therefore led to believe that Mr. Pickwick, with that anxious
desire to abstain from giving offence to any, and with those delicate
feelings for which all who knew him well know he was so
eminently remarkable, purposely substituted a fictitious designation,
for the real name of the place in which his observations
were made. We are confirmed in this belief by a little circumstance,
apparently slight and trivial in itself, but when considered
in this point of view, not undeserving of notice. In Mr. Pickwick's
note-book, we can just trace an entry of the fact, that the
places of himself and followers were booked by the Norwich
coach; but this entry was afterwards lined through, as if for the
purpose of concealing even the direction in which the borough
is situated. We will not, therefore, hazard a guess upon the
subject, but will at once proceed with this history, content with
the materials which its characters have provided for us.
It appears, then, that the Eatanswill people, like the people of
many other small towns, considered themselves of the utmost
and most mighty importance, and that every man in Eatanswill,
conscious of the weight that attached to his example, felt himself
bound to unite, heart and soul, with one of the two great parties
that divided the town--the Blues and the Buffs. Now the Blues
lost no opportunity of opposing the Buffs, and the Buffs lost no
opportunity of opposing the Blues; and the consequence was,
that whenever the Buffs and Blues met together at public meeting,
town-hall, fair, or market, disputes and high words arose
between them. With these dissensions it is almost superfluous to
say that everything in Eatanswill was made a party question. If
the Buffs proposed to new skylight the market-place, the Blues
got up public meetings, and denounced the proceeding; if the
Blues proposed the erection of an additional pump in the High
Street, the Buffs rose as one man and stood aghast at the enormity.
There were Blue shops and Buff shops, Blue inns and Buff
inns--there was a Blue aisle and a Buff aisle in the very church itself.
Of course it was essentially and indispensably necessary that
each of these powerful parties should have its chosen organ and
representative: and, accordingly, there were two newspapers in
the town--the Eatanswill GAZETTE and the Eatanswill INDEPENDENT;
the former advocating Blue principles, and the latter conducted
on grounds decidedly Buff. Fine newspapers they were. Such
leading articles, and such spirited attacks!--'Our worthless
contemporary, the GAZETTE'--'That disgraceful and dastardly journal,
the INDEPENDENT'--'That false and scurrilous print, the INDEPENDENT'--
'That vile and slanderous calumniator, the GAZETTE;' these,
and other spirit-stirring denunciations, were strewn plentifully
over the columns of each, in every number, and excited feelings
of the most intense delight and indignation in the bosoms of the
Mr. Pickwick, with his usual foresight and sagacity, had chosen
a peculiarly desirable moment for his visit to the borough. Never
was such a contest known. The Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of
Slumkey Hall, was the Blue candidate; and Horatio Fizkin,
Esq., of Fizkin Lodge, near Eatanswill, had been prevailed upon
by his friends to stand forward on the Buff interest. The GAZETTE
warned the electors of Eatanswill that the eyes not only of
England, but of the whole civilised world, were upon them; and
the INDEPENDENT imperatively demanded to know, whether the
constituency of Eatanswill were the grand fellows they had always
taken them for, or base and servile tools, undeserving alike of
the name of Englishmen and the blessings of freedom. Never had
such a commotion agitated the town before.
It was late in the evening when Mr. Pickwick and his
companions, assisted by Sam, dismounted from the roof of the
Eatanswill coach. Large blue silk flags were flying from the
windows of the Town Arms Inn, and bills were posted in every
sash, intimating, in gigantic letters, that the Honourable Samuel
Slumkey's committee sat there daily. A crowd of idlers were
assembled in the road, looking at a hoarse man in the balcony,
who was apparently talking himself very red in the face in Mr.
Slumkey's behalf; but the force and point of whose arguments
were somewhat impaired by the perpetual beating of four large
drums which Mr. Fizkin's committee had stationed at the street
corner. There was a busy little man beside him, though, who
took off his hat at intervals and motioned to the people to cheer,
which they regularly did, most enthusiastically; and as the red-
faced gentleman went on talking till he was redder in the face
than ever, it seemed to answer his purpose quite as well as if
anybody had heard him.
The Pickwickians had no sooner dismounted than they were
surrounded by a branch mob of the honest and independent, who
forthwith set up three deafening cheers, which being responded
to by the main body (for it's not at all necessary for a crowd to
know what they are cheering about), swelled into a tremendous
roar of triumph, which stopped even the red-faced man in the balcony.
'Hurrah!' shouted the mob, in conclusion.
'One cheer more,' screamed the little fugleman in the balcony,
and out shouted the mob again, as if lungs were cast-iron, with
'Slumkey for ever!' roared the honest and independent.
'Slumkey for ever!' echoed Mr. Pickwick, taking off his hat.
'No Fizkin!' roared the crowd.
'Certainly not!' shouted Mr. Pickwick.
'Hurrah!' And then there was another roaring, like that of a
whole menagerie when the elephant has rung the bell for the
'Who is Slumkey?'whispered Mr. Tupman.
'I don't know,' replied Mr. Pickwick, in the same tone. 'Hush.
Don't ask any questions. It's always best on these occasions to
do what the mob do.'
'But suppose there are two mobs?' suggested Mr. Snodgrass.
'Shout with the largest,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
Volumes could not have said more.
They entered the house, the crowd opening right and left to let
them pass, and cheering vociferously. The first object of
consideration was to secure quarters for the night.
'Can we have beds here?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, summoning
'Don't know, Sir,' replied the man; 'afraid we're full, sir--I'll
inquire, Sir.' Away he went for that purpose, and presently
returned, to ask whether the gentleman were 'Blue.'
As neither Mr. Pickwick nor his companions took any vital
interest in the cause of either candidate, the question was
rather a difficult one to answer. In this dilemma Mr. Pickwick
bethought himself of his new friend, Mr. Perker.
'Do you know a gentleman of the name of Perker?' inquired
'Certainly, Sir; Honourable Mr. Samuel Slumkey's agent.'
'He is Blue, I think?'
'Oh, yes, Sir.'
'Then WE are Blue,' said Mr. Pickwick; but observing that the
man looked rather doubtful at this accommodating announcement,
he gave him his card, and desired him to present it to
Mr. Perker forthwith, if he should happen to be in the house.
The waiter retired; and reappearing almost immediately with a
request that Mr. Pickwick would follow him, led the way to a
large room on the first floor, where, seated at a long table
covered with books and papers, was Mr. Perker.
'Ah--ah, my dear Sir,' said the little man, advancing to meet
him; 'very happy to see you, my dear Sir, very. Pray sit down.
So you have carried your intention into effect. You have come
down here to see an election--eh?'
Mr. Pickwick replied in the affirmative.
'Spirited contest, my dear sir,' said the little man.
'I'm delighted to hear it,' said Mr. Pickwick, rubbing his
hands. 'I like to see sturdy patriotism, on whatever side it is
called forth--and so it's a spirited contest?'
'Oh, yes,' said the little man, 'very much so indeed. We have
opened all the public-houses in the place, and left our adversary
nothing but the beer-shops-masterly stroke of policy that, my
dear Sir, eh?' The little man smiled complacently, and took a
large pinch of snuff.
'And what are the probabilities as to the result of the contest?'
inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Why, doubtful, my dear Sir; rather doubtful as yet,' replied
the little man. 'Fizkin's people have got three-and-thirty voters
in the lock-up coach-house at the White Hart.'
'In the coach-house!' said Mr. Pickwick, considerably astonished
by this second stroke of policy.
'They keep 'em locked up there till they want 'em,' resumed
the little man. 'The effect of that is, you see, to prevent our
getting at them; and even if we could, it would be of no use, for
they keep them very drunk on purpose. Smart fellow Fizkin's
agent--very smart fellow indeed.'
Mr. Pickwick stared, but said nothing.
'We are pretty confident, though,' said Mr. Perker, sinking
his voice almost to a whisper. 'We had a little tea-party here, last
night--five-and-forty women, my dear sir--and gave every one
of 'em a green parasol when she went away.'
'A parasol!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Fact, my dear Sir, fact. Five-and-forty green parasols, at seven
and sixpence a-piece. All women like finery--extraordinary the
effect of those parasols. Secured all their husbands, and half their
brothers--beats stockings, and flannel, and all that sort of thing
hollow. My idea, my dear Sir, entirely. Hail, rain, or sunshine,
you can't walk half a dozen yards up the street, without
encountering half a dozen green parasols.'
Here the little man indulged in a convulsion of mirth, which
was only checked by the entrance of a third party.
This was a tall, thin man, with a sandy-coloured head inclined
to baldness, and a face in which solemn importance was blended
with a look of unfathomable profundity. He was dressed in a
long brown surtout, with a black cloth waistcoat, and drab
trousers. A double eyeglass dangled at his waistcoat; and on his
head he wore a very low-crowned hat with a broad brim.
The new-comer was introduced to Mr. Pickwick as Mr. Pott,
the editor of the Eatanswill GAZETTE. After a few preliminary
remarks, Mr. Pott turned round to Mr. Pickwick, and said with
'This contest excites great interest in the metropolis, sir?'
'I believe it does,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'To which I have reason to know,' said Pott, looking towards
Mr. Perker for corroboration--'to which I have reason to know
that my article of last Saturday in some degree contributed.'
'Not the least doubt of it,' said the little man.
'The press is a mighty engine, sir,' said Pott.
Mr. Pickwick yielded his fullest assent to the proposition.
'But I trust, sir,' said Pott, 'that I have never abused the
enormous power I wield. I trust, sir, that I have never pointed the
noble instrument which is placed in my hands, against the sacred
bosom of private life, or the tender breast of individual reputation;
I trust, sir, that I have devoted my energies to--to endeavours--
humble they may be, humble I know they are--to
instil those principles of--which--are--'
Here the editor of the Eatanswill GAZETTE, appearing to ramble,
Mr. Pickwick came to his relief, and said--
'And what, Sir,' said Pott--'what, Sir, let me ask you as an
impartial man, is the state of the public mind in London, with
reference to my contest with the INDEPENDENT?'
'Greatly excited, no doubt,' interposed Mr. Perker, with a
look of slyness which was very likely accidental.
'The contest,' said Pott, 'shall be prolonged so long as I have
health and strength, and that portion of talent with which I am
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