The Pickwick Papers
Part 5 out of 20
gifted. From that contest, Sir, although it may unsettle men's
minds and excite their feelings, and render them incapable for
the discharge of the everyday duties of ordinary life; from that
contest, sir, I will never shrink, till I have set my heel upon the
Eatanswill INDEPENDENT. I wish the people of London, and the
people of this country to know, sir, that they may rely upon me
--that I will not desert them, that I am resolved to stand by them,
Sir, to the last.'
'Your conduct is most noble, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick; and he
grasped the hand of the magnanimous Pott.
'You are, sir, I perceive, a man of sense and talent,' said Mr.
Pott, almost breathless with the vehemence of his patriotic
declaration. 'I am most happy, sir, to make the acquaintance of
such a man.'
'And I,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'feel deeply honoured by this
expression of your opinion. Allow me, sir, to introduce you to
my fellow-travellers, the other corresponding members of the
club I am proud to have founded.'
'I shall be delighted,' said Mr. Pott.
Mr. Pickwick withdrew, and returning with his friends,
presented them in due form to the editor of the Eatanswill GAZETTE.
'Now, my dear Pott,' said little Mr. Perker, 'the question is,
what are we to do with our friends here?'
'We can stop in this house, I suppose,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Not a spare bed in the house, my dear sir--not a single bed.'
'Extremely awkward,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Very,' said his fellow-voyagers.
'I have an idea upon this subject,' said Mr. Pott, 'which I
think may be very successfully adopted. They have two beds at
the Peacock, and I can boldly say, on behalf of Mrs. Pott, that
she will be delighted to accommodate Mr. Pickwick and any
one of his friends, if the other two gentlemen and their servant
do not object to shifting, as they best can, at the Peacock.'
After repeated pressings on the part of Mr. Pott, and repeated
protestations on that of Mr. Pickwick that he could not think of
incommoding or troubling his amiable wife, it was decided that
it was the only feasible arrangement that could be made. So it
WAS made; and after dinner together at the Town Arms, the
friends separated, Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass repairing to
the Peacock, and Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Winkle proceeding to
the mansion of Mr. Pott; it having been previously arranged
that they should all reassemble at the Town Arms in the morning,
and accompany the Honourable Samuel Slumkey's procession to
the place of nomination.
Mr. Pott's domestic circle was limited to himself and his
wife. All men whom mighty genius has raised to a proud eminence
in the world, have usually some little weakness which
appears the more conspicuous from the contrast it presents to
their general character. If Mr. Pott had a weakness, it was,
perhaps, that he was rather too submissive to the somewhat
contemptuous control and sway of his wife. We do not feel
justified in laying any particular stress upon the fact, because
on the present occasion all Mrs. Pott's most winning ways
were brought into requisition to receive the two gentlemen.
'My dear,' said Mr. Pott, 'Mr. Pickwick--Mr. Pickwick of London.'
Mrs. Pott received Mr. Pickwick's paternal grasp of the hand
with enchanting sweetness; and Mr. Winkle, who had not been
announced at all, sidled and bowed, unnoticed, in an obscure corner.
'P. my dear'--said Mrs. Pott.
'My life,' said Mr. Pott.
'Pray introduce the other gentleman.'
'I beg a thousand pardons,' said Mr. Pott. 'Permit me, Mrs.
'Winkle,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Winkle,' echoed Mr. Pott; and the ceremony of introduction
'We owe you many apologies, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'for
disturbing your domestic arrangements at so short a notice.'
'I beg you won't mention it, sir,' replied the feminine Pott,
with vivacity. 'It is a high treat to me, I assure you, to see any
new faces; living as I do, from day to day, and week to week, in
this dull place, and seeing nobody.'
'Nobody, my dear!' exclaimed Mr. Pott archly.
'Nobody but you,' retorted Mrs. Pott, with asperity.
'You see, Mr. Pickwick,' said the host in explanation of his
wife's lament, 'that we are in some measure cut off from many
enjoyments and pleasures of which we might otherwise partake.
My public station, as editor of the Eatanswill GAZETTE, the
position which that paper holds in the country, my constant
immersion in the vortex of politics--'
'P. my dear--' interposed Mrs. Pott.
'My life--' said the editor.
'I wish, my dear, you would endeavour to find some topic of
conversation in which these gentlemen might take some rational
'But, my love,' said Mr. Pott, with great humility, 'Mr.
Pickwick does take an interest in it.'
'It's well for him if he can,' said Mrs. Pott emphatically; 'I
am wearied out of my life with your politics, and quarrels with
the INDEPENDENT, and nonsense. I am quite astonished, P., at your
making such an exhibition of your absurdity.'
'But, my dear--' said Mr. Pott.
'Oh, nonsense, don't talk to me,' said Mrs. Pott. 'Do you play
'I shall be very happy to learn under your tuition,' replied
'Well, then, draw that little table into this window, and let me
get out of hearing of those prosy politics.'
'Jane,' said Mr. Pott, to the servant who brought in candles,
'go down into the office, and bring me up the file of the GAZETTE
for eighteen hundred and twenty-six. I'll read you,' added the
editor, turning to Mr. Pickwick--'I'll just read you a few of the
leaders I wrote at that time upon the Buff job of appointing a new
tollman to the turnpike here; I rather think they'll amuse you.'
'I should like to hear them very much indeed,' said Mr. Pickwick.
Up came the file, and down sat the editor, with Mr. Pickwick
at his side.
We have in vain pored over the leaves of Mr. Pickwick's
note-book, in the hope of meeting with a general summary of
these beautiful compositions. We have every reason to believe
that he was perfectly enraptured with the vigour and freshness of
the style; indeed Mr. Winkle has recorded the fact that his eyes
were closed, as if with excess of pleasure, during the whole time
of their perusal.
The announcement of supper put a stop both to the game of
ecarte, and the recapitulation of the beauties of the Eatanswill
GAZETTE. Mrs. Pott was in the highest spirits and the most
agreeable humour. Mr. Winkle had already made considerable
progress in her good opinion, and she did not hesitate to inform
him, confidentially, that Mr. Pickwick was 'a delightful old dear.'
These terms convey a familiarity of expression, in which few of
those who were intimately acquainted with that colossal-minded
man, would have presumed to indulge. We have preserved them,
nevertheless, as affording at once a touching and a convincing
proof of the estimation in which he was held by every class of
society, and the case with which he made his way to their hearts
It was a late hour of the night--long after Mr. Tupman and
Mr. Snodgrass had fallen asleep in the inmost recesses of the
Peacock--when the two friends retired to rest. Slumber soon fell
upon the senses of Mr. Winkle, but his feelings had been excited,
and his admiration roused; and for many hours after sleep had
rendered him insensible to earthly objects, the face and figure of
the agreeable Mrs. Pott presented themselves again and again
to his wandering imagination.
The noise and bustle which ushered in the morning were
sufficient to dispel from the mind of the most romantic visionary
in existence, any associations but those which were immediately
connected with the rapidly-approaching election. The beating of
drums, the blowing of horns and trumpets, the shouting of men,
and tramping of horses, echoed and re--echoed through the streets
from the earliest dawn of day; and an occasional fight between
the light skirmishers of either party at once enlivened the
preparations, and agreeably diversified their character.
'Well, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, as his valet appeared at his
bedroom door, just as he was concluding his toilet; 'all alive
to-day, I suppose?'
'Reg'lar game, sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'our people's a-collecting
down at the Town Arms, and they're a-hollering themselves
'Ah,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'do they seem devoted to their party, Sam?'
'Never see such dewotion in my life, Sir.'
'Energetic, eh?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Uncommon,' replied Sam; 'I never see men eat and drink so
much afore. I wonder they ain't afeer'd o' bustin'.'
'That's the mistaken kindness of the gentry here,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Wery likely,' replied Sam briefly.
'Fine, fresh, hearty fellows they seem,' said Mr. Pickwick,
glancing from the window.
'Wery fresh,' replied Sam; 'me and the two waiters at the
Peacock has been a-pumpin' over the independent woters as
supped there last night.'
'Pumping over independent voters!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes,' said his attendant, 'every man slept vere he fell down;
we dragged 'em out, one by one, this mornin', and put 'em under
the pump, and they're in reg'lar fine order now. Shillin' a head
the committee paid for that 'ere job.'
'Can such things be!' exclaimed the astonished Mr. Pickwick.
'Lord bless your heart, sir,' said Sam, 'why where was you half
baptised?--that's nothin', that ain't.'
'Nothing?'said Mr. Pickwick.
'Nothin' at all, Sir,' replied his attendant. 'The night afore the
last day o' the last election here, the opposite party bribed the
barmaid at the Town Arms, to hocus the brandy-and-water of
fourteen unpolled electors as was a-stoppin' in the house.'
'What do you mean by "hocussing" brandy-and-water?'
inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Puttin' laud'num in it,' replied Sam. 'Blessed if she didn't
send 'em all to sleep till twelve hours arter the election was over.
They took one man up to the booth, in a truck, fast asleep, by
way of experiment, but it was no go--they wouldn't poll him; so
they brought him back, and put him to bed again.'
'Strange practices, these,' said Mr. Pickwick; half speaking to
himself and half addressing Sam.
'Not half so strange as a miraculous circumstance as happened
to my own father, at an election time, in this wery place, Sir,'
'What was that?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Why, he drove a coach down here once,' said Sam; ''lection
time came on, and he was engaged by vun party to bring down
woters from London. Night afore he was going to drive up,
committee on t' other side sends for him quietly, and away he
goes vith the messenger, who shows him in;--large room--lots of
gen'l'm'n--heaps of papers, pens and ink, and all that 'ere. "Ah,
Mr. Weller," says the gen'l'm'n in the chair, "glad to see you, sir;
how are you?"--"Wery well, thank 'ee, Sir," says my father; "I
hope you're pretty middlin," says he.--"Pretty well, thank'ee, Sir,"
says the gen'l'm'n; "sit down, Mr. Weller--pray sit down, sir."
So my father sits down, and he and the gen'l'm'n looks wery
hard at each other. "You don't remember me?" said the
gen'l'm'n.--"Can't say I do," says my father.--"Oh, I know
you," says the gen'l'm'n: "know'd you when you was a boy,"
says he.--"Well, I don't remember you," says my father.--
"That's wery odd," says the gen'l'm'n."--"Wery," says my
father.--"You must have a bad mem'ry, Mr. Weller," says the
gen'l'm'n.--"Well, it is a wery bad 'un," says my father.--"I
thought so," says the gen'l'm'n. So then they pours him out a
glass of wine, and gammons him about his driving, and gets him
into a reg'lar good humour, and at last shoves a twenty-pound
note into his hand. "It's a wery bad road between this and
London," says the gen'l'm'n.--"Here and there it is a heavy
road," says my father.--" 'Specially near the canal, I think,"
says the gen'l'm'n.--"Nasty bit that 'ere," says my father.--
"Well, Mr. Weller," says the gen'l'm'n, "you're a wery good
whip, and can do what you like with your horses, we know.
We're all wery fond o' you, Mr. Weller, so in case you should have
an accident when you're bringing these here woters down, and
should tip 'em over into the canal vithout hurtin' of 'em, this is
for yourself," says he.--"Gen'l'm'n, you're wery kind," says my
father, "and I'll drink your health in another glass of wine," says
he; vich he did, and then buttons up the money, and bows
himself out. You wouldn't believe, sir,' continued Sam, with a
look of inexpressible impudence at his master, 'that on the wery
day as he came down with them woters, his coach WAS upset on
that 'ere wery spot, and ev'ry man on 'em was turned into the canal.'
'And got out again?' inquired Mr. Pickwick hastily.
'Why,' replied Sam very slowly, 'I rather think one old
gen'l'm'n was missin'; I know his hat was found, but I ain't
quite certain whether his head was in it or not. But what I look
at is the hex-traordinary and wonderful coincidence, that arter
what that gen'l'm'n said, my father's coach should be upset in
that wery place, and on that wery day!'
'it is, no doubt, a very extraordinary circumstance indeed,'
said Mr. Pickwick. 'But brush my hat, Sam, for I hear Mr. Winkle
calling me to breakfast.'
With these words Mr. Pickwick descended to the parlour,
where he found breakfast laid, and the family already assembled.
The meal was hastily despatched; each of the gentlemen's hats
was decorated with an enormous blue favour, made up by the
fair hands of Mrs. Pott herself; and as Mr. Winkle had undertaken
to escort that lady to a house-top, in the immediate
vicinity of the hustings, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Pott repaired
alone to the Town Arms, from the back window of which, one of
Mr. Slumkey's committee was addressing six small boys and one
girl, whom he dignified, at every second sentence, with the
imposing title of 'Men of Eatanswill,' whereat the six small boys
aforesaid cheered prodigiously.
The stable-yard exhibited unequivocal symptoms of the glory
and strength of the Eatanswill Blues. There was a regular army
of blue flags, some with one handle, and some with two,
exhibiting appropriate devices, in golden characters four feet high,
and stout in proportion. There was a grand band of trumpets,
bassoons, and drums, marshalled four abreast, and earning their
money, if ever men did, especially the drum-beaters, who were
very muscular. There were bodies of constables with blue staves,
twenty committee-men with blue scarfs, and a mob of voters
with blue cockades. There were electors on horseback and
electors afoot. There was an open carriage-and-four, for the
Honourable Samuel Slumkey; and there were four carriage-and-
pair, for his friends and supporters; and the flags were rustling,
and the band was playing, and the constables were swearing, and
the twenty committee-men were squabbling, and the mob were
shouting, and the horses were backing, and the post-boys
perspiring; and everybody, and everything, then and there
assembled, was for the special use, behoof, honour, and renown,
of the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, one of the
candidates for the representation of the borough of Eatanswill,
in the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Loud and long were the cheers, and mighty was the rustling of
one of the blue flags, with 'Liberty of the Press' inscribed thereon,
when the sandy head of Mr. Pott was discerned in one of the
windows, by the mob beneath; and tremendous was the
enthusiasm when the Honourable Samuel Slumkey himself, in
top-boots, and a blue neckerchief, advanced and seized the hand
of the said Pott, and melodramatically testified by gestures
to the crowd, his ineffaceable obligations to the Eatanswill GAZETTE.
'Is everything ready?' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey
to Mr. Perker.
'Everything, my dear Sir,' was the little man's reply.
'Nothing has been omitted, I hope?' said the Honourable
'Nothing has been left undone, my dear sir--nothing whatever.
There are twenty washed men at the street door for you to shake
hands with; and six children in arms that you're to pat on the
head, and inquire the age of; be particular about the children,
my dear sir--it has always a great effect, that sort of thing.'
'I'll take care,' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey.
'And, perhaps, my dear Sir,' said the cautious little man,
'perhaps if you could--I don't mean to say it's indispensable--
but if you could manage to kiss one of 'em, it would produce a
very great impression on the crowd.'
'Wouldn't it have as good an effect if the proposer or seconder
did that?' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey.
'Why, I am afraid it wouldn't,' replied the agent; 'if it were
done by yourself, my dear Sir, I think it would make you very popular.'
'Very well,' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, with a
resigned air, 'then it must be done. That's all.'
'Arrange the procession,' cried the twenty committee-men.
Amidst the cheers of the assembled throng, the band, and the
constables, and the committee-men, and the voters, and the
horsemen, and the carriages, took their places--each of the two-
horse vehicles being closely packed with as many gentlemen as
could manage to stand upright in it; and that assigned to Mr.
Perker, containing Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass,
and about half a dozen of the committee besides.
There was a moment of awful suspense as the procession
waited for the Honourable Samuel Slumkey to step into his
carriage. Suddenly the crowd set up a great cheering.
'He has come out,' said little Mr. Perker, greatly excited; the
more so as their position did not enable them to see what was
Another cheer, much louder.
'He has shaken hands with the men,' cried the little agent.
Another cheer, far more vehement.
'He has patted the babies on the head,' said Mr. Perker,
trembling with anxiety.
A roar of applause that rent the air.
'He has kissed one of 'em!' exclaimed the delighted little man.
A second roar.
'He has kissed another,' gasped the excited manager.
A third roar.
'He's kissing 'em all!' screamed the enthusiastic little gentleman,
and hailed by the deafening shouts of the multitude, the
procession moved on.
How or by what means it became mixed up with the other
procession, and how it was ever extricated from the confusion
consequent thereupon, is more than we can undertake to describe,
inasmuch as Mr. Pickwick's hat was knocked over his eyes, nose,
and mouth, by one poke of a Buff flag-staff, very early in the
proceedings. He describes himself as being surrounded on every
side, when he could catch a glimpse of the scene, by angry and
ferocious countenances, by a vast cloud of dust, and by a dense
crowd of combatants. He represents himself as being forced
from the carriage by some unseen power, and being personally
engaged in a pugilistic encounter; but with whom, or how, or
why, he is wholly unable to state. He then felt himself forced up
some wooden steps by the persons from behind; and on removing
his hat, found himself surrounded by his friends, in the very
front of the left hand side of the hustings. The right was reserved
for the Buff party, and the centre for the mayor and his officers;
one of whom--the fat crier of Eatanswill--was ringing an
enormous bell, by way of commanding silence, while Mr.
Horatio Fizkin, and the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, with their
hands upon their hearts, were bowing with the utmost affability
to the troubled sea of heads that inundated the open space in
front; and from whence arose a storm of groans, and shouts,
and yells, and hootings, that would have done honour to an earthquake.
'There's Winkle,' said Mr. Tupman, pulling his friend by the sleeve.
'Where!' said Mr. Pickwick, putting on his spectacles, which
he had fortunately kept in his pocket hitherto.
'There,' said Mr. Tupman, 'on the top of that house.' And
there, sure enough, in the leaden gutter of a tiled roof, were
Mr. Winkle and Mrs. Pott, comfortably seated in a couple of
chairs, waving their handkerchiefs in token of recognition--a
compliment which Mr. Pickwick returned by kissing his hand to
The proceedings had not yet commenced; and as an inactive
crowd is generally disposed to be jocose, this very innocent
action was sufficient to awaken their facetiousness.
'Oh, you wicked old rascal,' cried one voice, 'looking arter the
girls, are you?'
'Oh, you wenerable sinner,' cried another.
'Putting on his spectacles to look at a married 'ooman!' said a
'I see him a-winkin' at her, with his wicked old eye,' shouted a
'Look arter your wife, Pott,' bellowed a fifth--and then there
was a roar of laughter.
As these taunts were accompanied with invidious comparisons
between Mr. Pickwick and an aged ram, and several witticisms of
the like nature; and as they moreover rather tended to convey
reflections upon the honour of an innocent lady, Mr. Pickwick's
indignation was excessive; but as silence was proclaimed at the
moment, he contented himself by scorching the mob with a look
of pity for their misguided minds, at which they laughed more
boisterously than ever.
'Silence!' roared the mayor's attendants.
'Whiffin, proclaim silence,' said the mayor, with an air of
pomp befitting his lofty station. In obedience to this command the
crier performed another concerto on the bell, whereupon a
gentleman in the crowd called out 'Muffins'; which occasioned
'Gentlemen,' said the mayor, at as loud a pitch as he could
possibly force his voice to--'gentlemen. Brother electors of the
borough of Eatanswill. We are met here to-day for the purpose
of choosing a representative in the room of our late--'
Here the mayor was interrupted by a voice in the crowd.
'Suc-cess to the mayor!' cried the voice, 'and may he never
desert the nail and sarspan business, as he got his money by.'
This allusion to the professional pursuits of the orator was
received with a storm of delight, which, with a bell-accompaniment,
rendered the remainder of his speech inaudible, with the
exception of the concluding sentence, in which he thanked the
meeting for the patient attention with which they heard him
throughout--an expression of gratitude which elicited another
burst of mirth, of about a quarter of an hour's duration.
Next, a tall, thin gentleman, in a very stiff white neckerchief,
after being repeatedly desired by the crowd to 'send a boy home,
to ask whether he hadn't left his voice under the pillow,' begged to
nominate a fit and proper person to represent them in Parliament.
And when he said it was Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin
Lodge, near Eatanswill, the Fizkinites applauded, and the
Slumkeyites groaned, so long, and so loudly, that both he and
the seconder might have sung comic songs in lieu of speaking,
without anybody's being a bit the wiser.
The friends of Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, having had their
innings, a little choleric, pink-faced man stood forward to
propose another fit and proper person to represent the electors of
Eatanswill in Parliament; and very swimmingly the pink-faced
gentleman would have got on, if he had not been rather too
choleric to entertain a sufficient perception of the fun of the
crowd. But after a very few sentences of figurative eloquence, the
pink-faced gentleman got from denouncing those who interrupted
him in the mob, to exchanging defiances with the gentlemen
on the hustings; whereupon arose an uproar which reduced
him to the necessity of expressing his feelings by serious pantomime,
which he did, and then left the stage to his seconder, who
delivered a written speech of half an hour's length, and wouldn't
be stopped, because he had sent it all to the Eatanswill GAZETTE,
and the Eatanswill GAZETTE had already printed it, every word.
Then Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, near Eatanswill,
presented himself for the purpose of addressing the electors;
which he no sooner did, than the band employed by the Honourable
Samuel Slumkey, commenced performing with a power to
which their strength in the morning was a trifle; in return for
which, the Buff crowd belaboured the heads and shoulders of the
Blue crowd; on which the Blue crowd endeavoured to dispossess
themselves of their very unpleasant neighbours the Buff crowd;
and a scene of struggling, and pushing, and fighting, succeeded,
to which we can no more do justice than the mayor could,
although he issued imperative orders to twelve constables to
seize the ringleaders, who might amount in number to two
hundred and fifty, or thereabouts. At all these encounters,
Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, and his friends, waxed
fierce and furious; until at last Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin
Lodge, begged to ask his opponent, the Honourable Samuel
Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, whether that band played by his
consent; which question the Honourable Samuel Slumkey
declining to answer, Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge,
shook his fist in the countenance of the Honourable Samuel
Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall; upon which the Honourable Samuel
Slumkey, his blood being up, defied Horatio Fizkin, Esquire,
to mortal combat. At this violation of all known rules and
precedents of order, the mayor commanded another fantasia on
the bell, and declared that he would bring before himself, both
Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, and the Honourable
Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, and bind them over to keep
the peace. Upon this terrific denunciation, the supporters of the
two candidates interfered, and after the friends of each party had
quarrelled in pairs, for three-quarters of an hour, Horatio
Fizkin, Esquire, touched his hat to the Honourable Samuel
Slumkey; the Honourable Samuel Slumkey touched his to
Horatio Fizkin, Esquire; the band was stopped; the crowd were
partially quieted; and Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, was permitted
The speeches of the two candidates, though differing in every
other respect, afforded a beautiful tribute to the merit and high
worth of the electors of Eatanswill. Both expressed their opinion
that a more independent, a more enlightened, a more public-
spirited, a more noble-minded, a more disinterested set of men
than those who had promised to vote for him, never existed on
earth; each darkly hinted his suspicions that the electors in the
opposite interest had certain swinish and besotted infirmities
which rendered them unfit for the exercise of the important
duties they were called upon to discharge. Fizkin expressed his
readiness to do anything he was wanted: Slumkey, his determination
to do nothing that was asked of him. Both said that the
trade, the manufactures, the commerce, the prosperity of
Eatanswill, would ever be dearer to their hearts than any earthly
object; and each had it in his power to state, with the utmost
confidence, that he was the man who would eventually be returned.
There was a show of hands; the mayor decided in favour of the
Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall. Horatio Fizkin,
Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, demanded a poll, and a poll was fixed
accordingly. Then a vote of thanks was moved to the mayor for
his able conduct in the chair; and the mayor, devoutly wishing
that he had had a chair to display his able conduct in (for he had
been standing during the whole proceedings), returned thanks.
The processions reformed, the carriages rolled slowly through
the crowd, and its members screeched and shouted after them as
their feelings or caprice dictated.
During the whole time of the polling, the town was in a
perpetual fever of excitement. Everything was conducted on the
most liberal and delightful scale. Excisable articles were remarkably
cheap at all the public-houses; and spring vans paraded the
streets for the accommodation of voters who were seized with
any temporary dizziness in the head--an epidemic which prevailed
among the electors, during the contest, to a most alarming
extent, and under the influence of which they might frequently
be seen lying on the pavements in a state of utter insensibility. A
small body of electors remained unpolled on the very last day.
They were calculating and reflecting persons, who had not yet
been convinced by the arguments of either party, although they
had frequent conferences with each. One hour before the close
of the poll, Mr. Perker solicited the honour of a private interview
with these intelligent, these noble, these patriotic men. it was
granted. His arguments were brief but satisfactory. They went in
a body to the poll; and when they returned, the Honourable
Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, was returned also.
COMPRISING A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE COMPANY
AT THE PEACOCK ASSEMBLED; AND A TALE TOLD BY A
It is pleasant to turn from contemplating the strife and
turmoil of political existence, to the peaceful repose of
private life. Although in reality no great partisan of either side,
Mr. Pickwick was sufficiently fired with Mr. Pott's enthusiasm,
to apply his whole time and attention to the proceedings, of
which the last chapter affords a description compiled from his
own memoranda. Nor while he was thus occupied was Mr.
Winkle idle, his whole time being devoted to pleasant walks and
short country excursions with Mrs. Pott, who never failed, when
such an opportunity presented itself, to seek some relief from the
tedious monotony she so constantly complained of. The two
gentlemen being thus completely domesticated in the editor's
house, Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass were in a great measure
cast upon their own resources. Taking but little interest in public
affairs, they beguiled their time chiefly with such amusements as
the Peacock afforded, which were limited to a bagatelle-board in
the first floor, and a sequestered skittle-ground in the back yard.
In the science and nicety of both these recreations, which are far
more abstruse than ordinary men suppose, they were gradually
initiated by Mr. Weller, who possessed a perfect knowledge of
such pastimes. Thus, notwithstanding that they were in a great
measure deprived of the comfort and advantage of Mr. Pickwick's
society, they were still enabled to beguile the time, and to
prevent its hanging heavily on their hands.
It was in the evening, however, that the Peacock presented
attractions which enabled the two friends to resist even the
invitations of the gifted, though prosy, Pott. It was in the evening
that the 'commercial room' was filled with a social circle, whose
characters and manners it was the delight of Mr. Tupman to
observe; whose sayings and doings it was the habit of Mr.
Snodgrass to note down.
Most people know what sort of places commercial rooms
usually are. That of the Peacock differed in no material respect
from the generality of such apartments; that is to say, it was a
large, bare-looking room, the furniture of which had no doubt
been better when it was newer, with a spacious table in the centre,
and a variety of smaller dittos in the corners; an extensive
assortment of variously shaped chairs, and an old Turkey carpet,
bearing about the same relative proportion to the size of the
room, as a lady's pocket-handkerchief might to the floor of a
watch-box. The walls were garnished with one or two large
maps; and several weather-beaten rough greatcoats, with
complicated capes, dangled from a long row of pegs in one
corner. The mantel-shelf was ornamented with a wooden inkstand,
containing one stump of a pen and half a wafer; a road-
book and directory; a county history minus the cover; and the
mortal remains of a trout in a glass coffin. The atmosphere was
redolent of tobacco-smoke, the fumes of which had communicated
a rather dingy hue to the whole room, and more especially
to the dusty red curtains which shaded the windows. On the
sideboard a variety of miscellaneous articles were huddled
together, the most conspicuous of which were some very cloudy
fish-sauce cruets, a couple of driving-boxes, two or three whips,
and as many travelling shawls, a tray of knives and forks, and
Here it was that Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass were seated
on the evening after the conclusion of the election, with several
other temporary inmates of the house, smoking and drinking.
'Well, gents,' said a stout, hale personage of about forty, with
only one eye--a very bright black eye, which twinkled with a
roguish expression of fun and good-humour, 'our noble selves,
gents. I always propose that toast to the company, and drink
Mary to myself. Eh, Mary!'
'Get along with you, you wretch,' said the hand-maiden,
obviously not ill-pleased with the compliment, however.
'Don't go away, Mary,' said the black-eyed man.
'Let me alone, imperence,' said the young lady.
'Never mind,' said the one-eyed man, calling after the girl as
she left the room. 'I'll step out by and by, Mary. Keep your
spirits up, dear.' Here he went through the not very difficult
process of winking upon the company with his solitary eye, to
the enthusiastic delight of an elderly personage with a dirty face
and a clay pipe.
'Rum creeters is women,' said the dirty-faced man, after a pause.
'Ah! no mistake about that,' said a very red-faced man,
behind a cigar.
After this little bit of philosophy there was another pause.
'There's rummer things than women in this world though,
mind you,' said the man with the black eye, slowly filling a large
Dutch pipe, with a most capacious bowl.
'Are you married?' inquired the dirty-faced man.
'Can't say I am.'
'I thought not.' Here the dirty-faced man fell into ecstasies of
mirth at his own retort, in which he was joined by a man of
bland voice and placid countenance, who always made it a point
to agree with everybody.
'Women, after all, gentlemen,' said the enthusiastic Mr.
Snodgrass, 'are the great props and comforts of our existence.'
'So they are,' said the placid gentleman.
'When they're in a good humour,' interposed the dirty-faced man.
'And that's very true,' said the placid one.
'I repudiate that qualification,' said Mr. Snodgrass, whose
thoughts were fast reverting to Emily Wardle. 'I repudiate it
with disdain--with indignation. Show me the man who says
anything against women, as women, and I boldly declare he is
not a man.' And Mr. Snodgrass took his cigar from his mouth,
and struck the table violently with his clenched fist.
'That's good sound argument,' said the placid man.
'Containing a position which I deny,' interrupted he of the
'And there's certainly a very great deal of truth in what you
observe too, Sir,' said the placid gentleman.
'Your health, Sir,' said the bagman with the lonely eye,
bestowing an approving nod on Mr. Snodgrass.
Mr. Snodgrass acknowledged the compliment.
'I always like to hear a good argument,'continued the bagman,
'a sharp one, like this: it's very improving; but this little argument
about women brought to my mind a story I have heard an
old uncle of mine tell, the recollection of which, just now, made
me say there were rummer things than women to be met with, sometimes.'
'I should like to hear that same story,' said the red-faced man
with the cigar.
'Should you?' was the only reply of the bagman, who
continued to smoke with great vehemence.
'So should I,' said Mr. Tupman, speaking for the first time.
He was always anxious to increase his stock of experience.
'Should YOU? Well then, I'll tell it. No, I won't. I know you
won't believe it,' said the man with the roguish eye, making that
organ look more roguish than ever.
'If you say it's true, of course I shall,' said Mr. Tupman.
'Well, upon that understanding I'll tell you,' replied the
traveller. 'Did you ever hear of the great commercial house of
Bilson & Slum? But it doesn't matter though, whether you did or
not, because they retired from business long since. It's eighty
years ago, since the circumstance happened to a traveller for
that house, but he was a particular friend of my uncle's; and
my uncle told the story to me. It's a queer name; but he used to
THE BAGMAN'S STORY
and he used to tell it, something in this way.
'One winter's evening, about five o'clock, just as it began to
grow dusk, a man in a gig might have been seen urging his tired
horse along the road which leads across Marlborough Downs, in
the direction of Bristol. I say he might have been seen, and I have
no doubt he would have been, if anybody but a blind man had
happened to pass that way; but the weather was so bad, and the
night so cold and wet, that nothing was out but the water, and
so the traveller jogged along in the middle of the road, lonesome
and dreary enough. If any bagman of that day could have caught
sight of the little neck-or-nothing sort of gig, with a clay-
coloured body and red wheels, and the vixenish, ill tempered,
fast-going bay mare, that looked like a cross between a butcher's
horse and a twopenny post-office pony, he would have known at
once, that this traveller could have been no other than Tom
Smart, of the great house of Bilson and Slum, Cateaton Street,
City. However, as there was no bagman to look on, nobody
knew anything at all about the matter; and so Tom Smart and
his clay-coloured gig with the red wheels, and the vixenish mare
with the fast pace, went on together, keeping the secret among
them, and nobody was a bit the wiser.
'There are many pleasanter places even in this dreary world,
than Marlborough Downs when it blows hard; and if you throw
in beside, a gloomy winter's evening, a miry and sloppy road, and
a pelting fall of heavy rain, and try the effect, by way of experiment,
in your own proper person, you will experience the full
force of this observation.
'The wind blew--not up the road or down it, though that's
bad enough, but sheer across it, sending the rain slanting down
like the lines they used to rule in the copy-books at school, to
make the boys slope well. For a moment it would die away, and
the traveller would begin to delude himself into the belief that,
exhausted with its previous fury, it had quietly laid itself down
to rest, when, whoo! he could hear it growling and whistling in
the distance, and on it would come rushing over the hill-tops, and
sweeping along the plain, gathering sound and strength as it
drew nearer, until it dashed with a heavy gust against horse and
man, driving the sharp rain into their ears, and its cold damp
breath into their very bones; and past them it would scour, far,
far away, with a stunning roar, as if in ridicule of their weakness,
and triumphant in the consciousness of its own strength and power.
'The bay mare splashed away, through the mud and water,
with drooping ears; now and then tossing her head as if to
express her disgust at this very ungentlemanly behaviour of the
elements, but keeping a good pace notwithstanding, until a gust
of wind, more furious than any that had yet assailed them,
caused her to stop suddenly and plant her four feet firmly against
the ground, to prevent her being blown over. It's a special mercy
that she did this, for if she HAD been blown over, the vixenish
mare was so light, and the gig was so light, and Tom Smart such
a light weight into the bargain, that they must infallibly have all
gone rolling over and over together, until they reached the
confines of earth, or until the wind fell; and in either case the
probability is, that neither the vixenish mare, nor the clay-
coloured gig with the red wheels, nor Tom Smart, would ever
have been fit for service again.
'"Well, damn my straps and whiskers," says Tom Smart
(Tom sometimes had an unpleasant knack of swearing)--
"damn my straps and whiskers," says Tom, "if this ain't
pleasant, blow me!"
'You'll very likely ask me why, as Tom Smart had been pretty
well blown already, he expressed this wish to be submitted to the
same process again. I can't say--all I know is, that Tom Smart
said so--or at least he always told my uncle he said so, and it's
just the same thing.
"'Blow me," says Tom Smart; and the mare neighed as if she
were precisely of the same opinion.
"'Cheer up, old girl," said Tom, patting the bay mare on the
neck with the end of his whip. "It won't do pushing on, such a
night as this; the first house we come to we'll put up at, so the
faster you go the sooner it's over. Soho, old girl--gently--gently."
'Whether the vixenish mare was sufficiently well acquainted
with the tones of Tom's voice to comprehend his meaning, or
whether she found it colder standing still than moving on, of
course I can't say. But I can say that Tom had no sooner finished
speaking, than she pricked up her ears, and started forward at a
speed which made the clay-coloured gig rattle until you would
have supposed every one of the red spokes were going to fly out
on the turf of Marlborough Downs; and even Tom, whip as he
was, couldn't stop or check her pace, until she drew up of her
own accord, before a roadside inn on the right-hand side of the
way, about half a quarter of a mile from the end of the Downs.
'Tom cast a hasty glance at the upper part of the house as he
threw the reins to the hostler, and stuck the whip in the box. It
was a strange old place, built of a kind of shingle, inlaid, as it
were, with cross-beams, with gabled-topped windows projecting
completely over the pathway, and a low door with a dark porch,
and a couple of steep steps leading down into the house, instead
of the modern fashion of half a dozen shallow ones leading up to
it. It was a comfortable-looking place though, for there was a
strong, cheerful light in the bar window, which shed a bright ray
across the road, and even lighted up the hedge on the other side;
and there was a red flickering light in the opposite window, one
moment but faintly discernible, and the next gleaming strongly
through the drawn curtains, which intimated that a rousing fire
was blazing within. Marking these little evidences with the eye of
an experienced traveller, Tom dismounted with as much agility
as his half-frozen limbs would permit, and entered the house.
'In less than five minutes' time, Tom was ensconced in the
room opposite the bar--the very room where he had imagined
the fire blazing--before a substantial, matter-of-fact, roaring
fire, composed of something short of a bushel of coals, and wood
enough to make half a dozen decent gooseberry bushes, piled
half-way up the chimney, and roaring and crackling with a
sound that of itself would have warmed the heart of any reasonable
man. This was comfortable, but this was not all; for a
smartly-dressed girl, with a bright eye and a neat ankle, was
laying a very clean white cloth on the table; and as Tom sat with
his slippered feet on the fender, and his back to the open door, he
saw a charming prospect of the bar reflected in the glass over the
chimney-piece, with delightful rows of green bottles and gold
labels, together with jars of pickles and preserves, and cheeses
and boiled hams, and rounds of beef, arranged on shelves in the
most tempting and delicious array. Well, this was comfortable
too; but even this was not all--for in the bar, seated at tea at the
nicest possible little table, drawn close up before the brightest
possible little fire, was a buxom widow of somewhere about
eight-and-forty or thereabouts, with a face as comfortable as the
bar, who was evidently the landlady of the house, and the
supreme ruler over all these agreeable possessions. There was
only one drawback to the beauty of the whole picture, and that
was a tall man--a very tall man--in a brown coat and bright
basket buttons, and black whiskers and wavy black hair, who
was seated at tea with the widow, and who it required no great
penetration to discover was in a fair way of persuading her to be
a widow no longer, but to confer upon him the privilege of
sitting down in that bar, for and during the whole remainder of
the term of his natural life.
'Tom Smart was by no means of an irritable or envious
disposition, but somehow or other the tall man with the brown
coat and the bright basket buttons did rouse what little gall he
had in his composition, and did make him feel extremely indignant,
the more especially as he could now and then observe, from
his seat before the glass, certain little affectionate familiarities
passing between the tall man and the widow, which sufficiently
denoted that the tall man was as high in favour as he was in size.
Tom was fond of hot punch--I may venture to say he was VERY
fond of hot punch--and after he had seen the vixenish mare well
fed and well littered down, and had eaten every bit of the nice
little hot dinner which the widow tossed up for him with her
own hands, he just ordered a tumbler of it by way of experiment.
Now, if there was one thing in the whole range of domestic art,
which the widow could manufacture better than another, it was
this identical article; and the first tumbler was adapted to Tom
Smart's taste with such peculiar nicety, that he ordered a second
with the least possible delay. Hot punch is a pleasant thing,
gentlemen--an extremely pleasant thing under any circumstances
--but in that snug old parlour, before the roaring fire, with the
wind blowing outside till every timber in the old house creaked
again, Tom Smart found it perfectly delightful. He ordered
another tumbler, and then another--I am not quite certain
whether he didn't order another after that--but the more he
drank of the hot punch, the more he thought of the tall man.
'"Confound his impudence!" said Tom to himself, "what
business has he in that snug bar? Such an ugly villain too!" said
Tom. "If the widow had any taste, she might surely pick up some
better fellow than that." Here Tom's eye wandered from the glass
on the chimney-piece to the glass on the table; and as he felt
himself becoming gradually sentimental, he emptied the fourth
tumbler of punch and ordered a fifth.
'Tom Smart, gentlemen, had always been very much attached
to the public line. It had been long his ambition to stand in a bar
of his own, in a green coat, knee-cords, and tops. He had a great
notion of taking the chair at convivial dinners, and he had often
thought how well he could preside in a room of his own in the
talking way, and what a capital example he could set to his
customers in the drinking department. All these things passed
rapidly through Tom's mind as he sat drinking the hot punch by
the roaring fire, and he felt very justly and properly indignant
that the tall man should be in a fair way of keeping such an
excellent house, while he, Tom Smart, was as far off from it as
ever. So, after deliberating over the two last tumblers, whether he
hadn't a perfect right to pick a quarrel with the tall man for
having contrived to get into the good graces of the buxom widow,
Tom Smart at last arrived at the satisfactory conclusion that he
was a very ill-used and persecuted individual, and had better go
'Up a wide and ancient staircase the smart girl preceded Tom,
shading the chamber candle with her hand, to protect it from the
currents of air which in such a rambling old place might have
found plenty of room to disport themselves in, without blowing
the candle out, but which did blow it out nevertheless--thus
affording Tom's enemies an opportunity of asserting that it was
he, and not the wind, who extinguished the candle, and that
while he pretended to be blowing it alight again, he was in fact
kissing the girl. Be this as it may, another light was obtained, and
Tom was conducted through a maze of rooms, and a labyrinth
of passages, to the apartment which had been prepared for his
reception, where the girl bade him good-night and left him alone.
'It was a good large room with big closets, and a bed which
might have served for a whole boarding-school, to say nothing of
a couple of oaken presses that would have held the baggage of a
small army; but what struck Tom's fancy most was a strange,
grim-looking, high backed chair, carved in the most fantastic
manner, with a flowered damask cushion, and the round knobs
at the bottom of the legs carefully tied up in red cloth, as if it
had got the gout in its toes. Of any other queer chair, Tom would
only have thought it was a queer chair, and there would have
been an end of the matter; but there was something about this
particular chair, and yet he couldn't tell what it was, so odd and
so unlike any other piece of furniture he had ever seen, that it
seemed to fascinate him. He sat down before the fire, and stared
at the old chair for half an hour.--Damn the chair, it was such
a strange old thing, he couldn't take his eyes off it.
"'Well," said Tom, slowly undressing himself, and staring at
the old chair all the while, which stood with a mysterious aspect
by the bedside, "I never saw such a rum concern as that in my
days. Very odd," said Tom, who had got rather sage with the hot
punch--'very odd." Tom shook his head with an air of profound
wisdom, and looked at the chair again. He couldn't make
anything of it though, so he got into bed, covered himself up
warm, and fell asleep.
'In about half an hour, Tom woke up with a start, from a
confused dream of tall men and tumblers of punch; and the first
object that presented itself to his waking imagination was the
'"I won't look at it any more," said Tom to himself, and he
squeezed his eyelids together, and tried to persuade himself he
was going to sleep again. No use; nothing but queer chairs
danced before his eyes, kicking up their legs, jumping over each
other's backs, and playing all kinds of antics.
"'I may as well see one real chair, as two or three complete
sets of false ones," said Tom, bringing out his head from under
the bedclothes. There it was, plainly discernible by the light of
the fire, looking as provoking as ever.
'Tom gazed at the chair; and, suddenly as he looked at it, a
most extraordinary change seemed to come over it. The carving
of the back gradually assumed the lineaments and expression of
an old, shrivelled human face; the damask cushion became an
antique, flapped waistcoat; the round knobs grew into a couple
of feet, encased in red cloth slippers; and the whole chair looked
like a very ugly old man, of the previous century, with his arms
akimbo. Tom sat up in bed, and rubbed his eyes to dispel the
illusion. No. The chair was an ugly old gentleman; and what
was more, he was winking at Tom Smart.
'Tom was naturally a headlong, careless sort of dog, and he
had had five tumblers of hot punch into the bargain; so, although
he was a little startled at first, he began to grow rather indignant
when he saw the old gentleman winking and leering at him with
such an impudent air. At length he resolved that he wouldn't
stand it; and as the old face still kept winking away as fast as
ever, Tom said, in a very angry tone--
'"What the devil are you winking at me for?"
'"Because I like it, Tom Smart," said the chair; or the old
gentleman, whichever you like to call him. He stopped winking
though, when Tom spoke, and began grinning like a
'"How do you know my name, old nut-cracker face?"
inquired Tom Smart, rather staggered; though he pretended to
carry it off so well.
'"Come, come, Tom," said the old gentleman, "that's not the
way to address solid Spanish mahogany. Damme, you couldn't
treat me with less respect if I was veneered." When the old
gentleman said this, he looked so fierce that Tom began to
'"I didn't mean to treat you with any disrespect, Sir," said
Tom, in a much humbler tone than he had spoken in at first.
'"Well, well," said the old fellow, "perhaps not--perhaps
'"I know everything about you, Tom; everything. You're
very poor, Tom."
'"I certainly am," said Tom Smart. "But how came you to
'"Never mind that," said the old gentleman; "you're much
too fond of punch, Tom."
'Tom Smart was just on the point of protesting that he hadn't
tasted a drop since his last birthday, but when his eye encountered
that of the old gentleman he looked so knowing that Tom
blushed, and was silent.
'"Tom," said the old gentleman, "the widow's a fine woman--
remarkably fine woman--eh, Tom?" Here the old fellow
screwed up his eyes, cocked up one of his wasted little legs, and
looked altogether so unpleasantly amorous, that Tom was quite
disgusted with the levity of his behaviour--at his time of life, too!
'"I am her guardian, Tom," said the old gentleman.
'"Are you?" inquired Tom Smart.
'"I knew her mother, Tom," said the old fellow: "and her
grandmother. She was very fond of me--made me this waistcoat, Tom."
'"Did she?" said Tom Smart.
'"And these shoes," said the old fellow, lifting up one of the
red cloth mufflers; "but don't mention it, Tom. I shouldn't like to
have it known that she was so much attached to me. It might
occasion some unpleasantness in the family." When the old
rascal said this, he looked so extremely impertinent, that, as
Tom Smart afterwards declared, he could have sat upon him
'"I have been a great favourite among the women in my time,
Tom," said the profligate old debauchee; "hundreds of fine
women have sat in my lap for hours together. What do you think
of that, you dog, eh!" The old gentleman was proceeding to
recount some other exploits of his youth, when he was seized
with such a violent fit of creaking that he was unable to proceed.
'"Just serves you right, old boy," thought Tom Smart; but he
didn't say anything.
'"Ah!" said the old fellow, "I am a good deal troubled with
this now. I am getting old, Tom, and have lost nearly all my rails.
I have had an operation performed, too--a small piece let into
my back--and I found it a severe trial, Tom."
'"I dare say you did, Sir," said Tom Smart.
'"However," said the old gentleman, "that's not the point.
Tom! I want you to marry the widow."
'"Me, Sir!" said Tom.
'"You," said the old gentleman.
'"Bless your reverend locks," said Tom (he had a few scattered
horse-hairs left)--"bless your reverend locks, she wouldn't have
me." And Tom sighed involuntarily, as he thought of the bar.
'"Wouldn't she?" said the old gentleman firmly.
'"No, no," said Tom; "there's somebody else in the wind. A
tall man--a confoundedly tall man--with black whiskers."
'"Tom," said the old gentleman; "she will never have him."
'"Won't she?" said Tom. "If you stood in the bar, old
gentleman, you'd tell another story."
'"Pooh, pooh," said the old gentleman. "I know all about that. "
'"About what?" said Tom.
'"The kissing behind the door, and all that sort of thing,
Tom," said the old gentleman. And here he gave another
impudent look, which made Tom very wroth, because as you all
know, gentlemen, to hear an old fellow, who ought to know
better, talking about these things, is very unpleasant--nothing
'"I know all about that, Tom," said the old gentleman. "I
have seen it done very often in my time, Tom, between more
people than I should like to mention to you; but it never came to
anything after all."
'"You must have seen some queer things," said Tom, with an
'"You may say that, Tom," replied the old fellow, with a very
complicated wink. "I am the last of my family, Tom," said the
old gentleman, with a melancholy sigh.
'"Was it a large one?" inquired Tom Smart.
'"There were twelve of us, Tom," said the old gentleman;
"fine, straight-backed, handsome fellows as you'd wish to see.
None of your modern abortions--all with arms, and with a
degree of polish, though I say it that should not, which it would
have done your heart good to behold."
'"And what's become of the others, Sir?" asked Tom Smart--
'The old gentleman applied his elbow to his eye as he replied,
"Gone, Tom, gone. We had hard service, Tom, and they hadn't
all my constitution. They got rheumatic about the legs and arms,
and went into kitchens and other hospitals; and one of 'em, with
long service and hard usage, positively lost his senses--he got
so crazy that he was obliged to be burnt. Shocking thing that, Tom."
'"Dreadful!" said Tom Smart.
'The old fellow paused for a few minutes, apparently struggling
with his feelings of emotion, and then said--
'"However, Tom, I am wandering from the point. This tall
man, Tom, is a rascally adventurer. The moment he married the
widow, he would sell off all the furniture, and run away. What
would be the consequence? She would be deserted and reduced
to ruin, and I should catch my death of cold in some broker's shop."
'"Don't interrupt me," said the old gentleman. "Of you, Tom,
I entertain a very different opinion; for I well know that if you
once settled yourself in a public-house, you would never leave it,
as long as there was anything to drink within its walls."
'"I am very much obliged to you for your good opinion, Sir,"
said Tom Smart.
'"Therefore," resumed the old gentleman, in a dictatorial
tone, "you shall have her, and he shall not."
'"What is to prevent it?" said Tom Smart eagerly.
'"This disclosure," replied the old gentleman; "he is already married."
'"How can I prove it?" said Tom, starting half out of bed.
'The old gentleman untucked his arm from his side, and having
pointed to one of the oaken presses, immediately replaced it, in
its old position.
'"He little thinks," said the old gentleman, "that in the right-
hand pocket of a pair of trousers in that press, he has left a letter,
entreating him to return to his disconsolate wife, with six--mark
me, Tom--six babes, and all of them small ones."
'As the old gentleman solemnly uttered these words, his
features grew less and less distinct, and his figure more shadowy.
A film came over Tom Smart's eyes. The old man seemed
gradually blending into the chair, the damask waistcoat to
resolve into a cushion, the red slippers to shrink into little red
cloth bags. The light faded gently away, and Tom Smart fell
back on his pillow, and dropped asleep.
'Morning aroused Tom from the lethargic slumber, into
which he had fallen on the disappearance of the old man. He sat
up in bed, and for some minutes vainly endeavoured to recall the
events of the preceding night. Suddenly they rushed upon him.
He looked at the chair; it was a fantastic and grim-looking piece
of furniture, certainly, but it must have been a remarkably
ingenious and lively imagination, that could have discovered any
resemblance between it and an old man.
'"How are you, old boy?" said Tom. He was bolder in the
daylight--most men are.
'The chair remained motionless, and spoke not a word.
'"Miserable morning," said Tom. No. The chair would not be
drawn into conversation.
'"Which press did you point to?--you can tell me that," said
Tom. Devil a word, gentlemen, the chair would say.
'"It's not much trouble to open it, anyhow," said Tom,
getting out of bed very deliberately. He walked up to one of the
presses. The key was in the lock; he turned it, and opened the
door. There was a pair of trousers there. He put his hand into the
pocket, and drew forth the identical letter the old gentleman
'"Queer sort of thing, this," said Tom Smart, looking first at
the chair and then at the press, and then at the letter, and then at
the chair again. "Very queer," said Tom. But, as there was
nothing in either, to lessen the queerness, he thought he might as
well dress himself, and settle the tall man's business at once--
just to put him out of his misery.
'Tom surveyed the rooms he passed through, on his way
downstairs, with the scrutinising eye of a landlord; thinking it
not impossible, that before long, they and their contents would
be his property. The tall man was standing in the snug little
bar, with his hands behind him, quite at home. He grinned
vacantly at Tom. A casual observer might have supposed he did
it, only to show his white teeth; but Tom Smart thought that a
consciousness of triumph was passing through the place where
the tall man's mind would have been, if he had had any. Tom
laughed in his face; and summoned the landlady.
'"Good-morning ma'am," said Tom Smart, closing the door
of the little parlour as the widow entered.
'"Good-morning, Sir," said the widow. "What will you take
for breakfast, sir?"
'Tom was thinking how he should open the case, so he made
'"There's a very nice ham," said the widow, "and a beautiful
cold larded fowl. Shall I send 'em in, Sir?"
'These words roused Tom from his reflections. His admiration
of the widow increased as she spoke. Thoughtful creature!
'"Who is that gentleman in the bar, ma'am?" inquired Tom.
'"His name is Jinkins, Sir," said the widow, slightly blushing.
'"He's a tall man," said Tom.
'"He is a very fine man, Sir," replied the widow, "and a very
'"Ah!" said Tom.
'"Is there anything more you want, Sir?" inquired the widow,
rather puzzled by Tom's manner.
'"Why, yes," said Tom. "My dear ma'am, will you have the
kindness to sit down for one moment?"
'The widow looked much amazed, but she sat down, and Tom
sat down too, close beside her. I don't know how it happened,
gentlemen--indeed my uncle used to tell me that Tom Smart said
he didn't know how it happened either--but somehow or other
the palm of Tom's hand fell upon the back of the widow's hand,
and remained there while he spoke.
'"My dear ma'am," said Tom Smart--he had always a great
notion of committing the amiable--"my dear ma'am, you
deserve a very excellent husband--you do indeed."
'"Lor, Sir!" said the widow--as well she might; Tom's mode
of commencing the conversation being rather unusual, not to
say startling; the fact of his never having set eyes upon her
before the previous night being taken into consideration. "Lor, Sir!"
'"I scorn to flatter, my dear ma'am," said Tom Smart. "You
deserve a very admirable husband, and whoever he is, he'll be a
very lucky man." As Tom said this, his eye involuntarily wandered
from the widow's face to the comfort around him.
'The widow looked more puzzled than ever, and made an effort
to rise. Tom gently pressed her hand, as if to detain her, and she
kept her seat. Widows, gentlemen, are not usually timorous, as
my uncle used to say.
'"I am sure I am very much obliged to you, Sir, for your good
opinion," said the buxom landlady, half laughing; "and if ever I
'"IF," said Tom Smart, looking very shrewdly out of the right-
hand corner of his left eye. "IF--"
"'Well," said the widow, laughing outright this time, "WHEN
I do, I hope I shall have as good a husband as you describe."
'"Jinkins, to wit," said Tom.
'"Lor, sir!" exclaimed the widow.
'"Oh, don't tell me," said Tom, "I know him."
'"I am sure nobody who knows him, knows anything bad of
him," said the widow, bridling up at the mysterious air with
which Tom had spoken.
'"Hem!" said Tom Smart.
'The widow began to think it was high time to cry, so she took
out her handkerchief, and inquired whether Tom wished to
insult her, whether he thought it like a gentleman to take away
the character of another gentleman behind his back, why, if he
had got anything to say, he didn't say it to the man, like a man,
instead of terrifying a poor weak woman in that way; and
'"I'll say it to him fast enough," said Tom, "only I want you
to hear it first."
'"What is it?" inquired the widow, looking intently in Tom's
'"I'll astonish you," said Tom, putting his hand in his pocket.
'"If it is, that he wants money," said the widow, "I know that
already, and you needn't trouble yourself."
'"Pooh, nonsense, that's nothing," said Tom Smart, "I want
money. 'Tain't that."
'"Oh, dear, what can it be?" exclaimed the poor widow.
'"Don't be frightened," said Tom Smart. He slowly drew
forth the letter, and unfolded it. "You won't scream?" said Tom
'"No, no," replied the widow; "let me see it."
'"You won't go fainting away, or any of that nonsense?"
'"No, no," returned the widow hastily.
'"And don't run out, and blow him up," said Tom; "because
I'll do all that for you. You had better not exert yourself."
'"Well, well," said the widow, "let me see it."
'"I will," replied Tom Smart; and, with these words, he placed
the letter in the widow's hand.
'Gentlemen, I have heard my uncle say, that Tom Smart said
the widow's lamentations when she heard the disclosure would
have pierced a heart of stone. Tom was certainly very tender-
hearted, but they pierced his, to the very core. The widow rocked
herself to and fro, and wrung her hands.
'"Oh, the deception and villainy of the man!" said the widow.
'"Frightful, my dear ma'am; but compose yourself," said
'"Oh, I can't compose myself," shrieked the widow. "I shall
never find anyone else I can love so much!"
'"Oh, yes you will, my dear soul," said Tom Smart, letting fall
a shower of the largest-sized tears, in pity for the widow's
misfortunes. Tom Smart, in the energy of his compassion, had
put his arm round the widow's waist; and the widow, in a passion
of grief, had clasped Tom's hand. She looked up in Tom's face,
and smiled through her tears. Tom looked down in hers, and
smiled through his.
'I never could find out, gentlemen, whether Tom did or did not
kiss the widow at that particular moment. He used to tell my
uncle he didn't, but I have my doubts about it. Between ourselves,
gentlemen, I rather think he did.
'At all events, Tom kicked the very tall man out at the front
door half an hour later, and married the widow a month after.
And he used to drive about the country, with the clay-coloured
gig with the red wheels, and the vixenish mare with the fast pace,
till he gave up business many years afterwards, and went to
France with his wife; and then the old house was pulled down.'
'Will you allow me to ask you,' said the inquisitive old gentleman,
'what became of the chair?'
'Why,' replied the one-eyed bagman, 'it was observed to creak
very much on the day of the wedding; but Tom Smart couldn't
say for certain whether it was with pleasure or bodily infirmity.
He rather thought it was the latter, though, for it never spoke
'Everybody believed the story, didn't they?' said the dirty-
faced man, refilling his pipe.
'Except Tom's enemies,' replied the bagman. 'Some of 'em
said Tom invented it altogether; and others said he was drunk
and fancied it, and got hold of the wrong trousers by mistake
before he went to bed. But nobody ever minded what THEY said.'
'Tom Smart said it was all true?'
'And your uncle?'
'They must have been very nice men, both of 'em,' said the
'Yes, they were,' replied the bagman; 'very nice men indeed!'
IN WHICH IS GIVEN A FAITHFUL PORTRAITURE OF TWO
DISTINGUISHED PERSONS; AND AN ACCURATE DESCRIPTION
OF A PUBLIC BREAKFAST IN THEIR HOUSE AND GROUNDS:
WHICH PUBLIC BREAKFAST LEADS TO THE RECOGNITION
OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE, AND THE COMMENCEMENT OF
Mr. Pickwick's conscience had been somewhat reproaching him for
his recent neglect of his friends at the Peacock; and he was just
on the point of walking forth in quest of them, on the third morning
after the election had terminated, when his faithful valet put into
his hand a card, on which was engraved the following inscription:--
Mrs. Leo Hunter
THE DEN. EATANSWILL.
'Person's a-waitin',' said Sam, epigrammatically.
'Does the person want me, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'He wants you partickler; and no one else 'll do, as the devil's
private secretary said ven he fetched avay Doctor Faustus,'
replied Mr. Weller.
'HE. Is it a gentleman?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'A wery good imitation o' one, if it ain't,' replied Mr. Weller.
'But this is a lady's card,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Given me by a gen'l'm'n, howsoever,' replied Sam, 'and he's
a-waitin' in the drawing-room--said he'd rather wait all day,
than not see you.'
Mr. Pickwick, on hearing this determination, descended to the
drawing-room, where sat a grave man, who started up on his
entrance, and said, with an air of profound respect:--
'Mr. Pickwick, I presume?'
'Allow me, Sir, the honour of grasping your hand. Permit me,
Sir, to shake it,' said the grave man.
'Certainly,' said Mr. Pickwick.
The stranger shook the extended hand, and then continued--
'We have heard of your fame, sir. The noise of your antiquarian
discussion has reached the ears of Mrs. Leo Hunter--
my wife, sir; I am Mr. Leo Hunter'--the stranger paused, as if he
expected that Mr. Pickwick would be overcome by the disclosure;
but seeing that he remained perfectly calm, proceeded--
'My wife, sir--Mrs. Leo Hunter--is proud to number among
her acquaintance all those who have rendered themselves celebrated
by their works and talents. Permit me, sir, to place in a conspicuous
part of the list the name of Mr. Pickwick, and his brother-members of
the club that derives its name from him.'
'I shall be extremely happy to make the acquaintance of such
a lady, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'You SHALL make it, sir,' said the grave man. 'To-morrow
morning, sir, we give a public breakfast--a FETE CHAMPETRE--to a
great number of those who have rendered themselves celebrated
by their works and talents. Permit Mrs. Leo Hunter, Sir, to have
the gratification of seeing you at the Den.'
'With great pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Mrs. Leo Hunter has many of these breakfasts, Sir,' resumed
the new acquaintance--'"feasts of reason," sir, "and flows of
soul," as somebody who wrote a sonnet to Mrs. Leo Hunter on
her breakfasts, feelingly and originally observed.'
'Was HE celebrated for his works and talents?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'He was Sir,' replied the grave man, 'all Mrs. Leo Hunter's
acquaintances are; it is her ambition, sir, to have no other
'It is a very noble ambition,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'When I inform Mrs. Leo Hunter, that that remark fell from
your lips, sir, she will indeed be proud,' said the grave man. 'You
have a gentleman in your train, who has produced some beautiful
little poems, I think, sir.'
'My friend Mr. Snodgrass has a great taste for poetry,' replied
'So has Mrs. Leo Hunter, Sir. She dotes on poetry, sir. She
adores it; I may say that her whole soul and mind are wound up,
and entwined with it. She has produced some delightful pieces,
herself, sir. You may have met with her "Ode to an Expiring
'I don't think I have,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'You astonish me, Sir,' said Mr. Leo Hunter. 'It created an
immense sensation. It was signed with an "L" and eight stars, and
appeared originally in a lady's magazine. It commenced--
'"Can I view thee panting, lying
On thy stomach, without sighing;
Can I unmoved see thee dying
On a log
'Beautiful!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Fine,' said Mr. Leo Hunter; 'so simple.'
'Very,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'The next verse is still more touching. Shall I repeat it?'
'If you please,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'It runs thus,' said the grave man, still more gravely.
'"Say, have fiends in shape of boys,
With wild halloo, and brutal noise,
Hunted thee from marshy joys,
With a dog,
'Finely expressed,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'All point, Sir,' said Mr. Leo Hunter; 'but you shall hear
Mrs. Leo Hunter repeat it. She can do justice to it, Sir. She will
repeat it, in character, Sir, to-morrow morning.'
'As Minerva. But I forgot--it's a fancy-dress DEJEUNE.'
'Dear me,' said Mr. Pickwick, glancing at his own figure--'I
'Can't, sir; can't!' exclaimed Mr. Leo Hunter. 'Solomon
Lucas, the Jew in the High Street, has thousands of fancy-
dresses. Consider, Sir, how many appropriate characters are open
for your selection. Plato, Zeno, Epicurus, Pythagoras--all
founders of clubs.'
'I know that,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'but as I cannot put myself
in competition with those great men, I cannot presume to wear
The grave man considered deeply, for a few seconds, and then said--
'On reflection, Sir, I don't know whether it would not afford
Mrs. Leo Hunter greater pleasure, if her guests saw a gentleman
of your celebrity in his own costume, rather than in an assumed
one. I may venture to promise an exception in your case, sir--
yes, I am quite certain that, on behalf of Mrs. Leo Hunter, I may
venture to do so.'
'In that case,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I shall have great pleasure
'But I waste your time, Sir,' said the grave man, as if suddenly
recollecting himself. 'I know its value, sir. I will not detain you.
I may tell Mrs. Leo Hunter, then, that she may confidently
expect you and your distinguished friends? Good-morning,
Sir, I am proud to have beheld so eminent a personage--not a
step sir; not a word.' And without giving Mr. Pickwick time to
offer remonstrance or denial, Mr. Leo Hunter stalked gravely away.
Mr. Pickwick took up his hat, and repaired to the Peacock,
but Mr. Winkle had conveyed the intelligence of the fancy-ball
there, before him.
'Mrs. Pott's going,' were the first words with which he saluted
'Is she?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'As Apollo,' replied Winkle. 'Only Pott objects to the tunic.'
'He is right. He is quite right,' said Mr. Pickwick emphatically.
'Yes; so she's going to wear a white satin gown with gold spangles.'
'They'll hardly know what she's meant for; will they?' inquired
'Of course they will,' replied Mr. Winkle indignantly. 'They'll
see her lyre, won't they?'
'True; I forgot that,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'I shall go as a bandit,'interposed Mr. Tupman.
'What!' said Mr. Pickwick, with a sudden start.
'As a bandit,' repeated Mr. Tupman, mildly.
'You don't mean to say,' said Mr. Pickwick, gazing with
solemn sternness at his friend--'you don't mean to say, Mr.
Tupman, that it is your intention to put yourself into a green
velvet jacket, with a two-inch tail?'
'Such IS my intention, Sir,' replied Mr. Tupman warmly. 'And
why not, sir?'
'Because, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, considerably excited--
'because you are too old, Sir.'
'Too old!' exclaimed Mr. Tupman.
'And if any further ground of objection be wanting,' continued
Mr. Pickwick, 'you are too fat, sir.'
'Sir,' said Mr. Tupman, his face suffused with a crimson glow,
'this is an insult.'
'Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, in the same tone, 'it is not half the
insult to you, that your appearance in my presence in a green
velvet jacket, with a two-inch tail, would be to me.'
'Sir,' said Mr. Tupman, 'you're a fellow.'
'Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'you're another!'
Mr. Tupman advanced a step or two, and glared at Mr.
Pickwick. Mr. Pickwick returned the glare, concentrated into a
focus by means of his spectacles, and breathed a bold defiance.
Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle looked on, petrified at beholding
such a scene between two such men.
'Sir,' said Mr. Tupman, after a short pause, speaking in a low,
deep voice, 'you have called me old.'
'I have,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'I reiterate the charge.'
'And a fellow.'
'So you are!'
There was a fearful pause.
'My attachment to your person, sir,' said Mr. Tupman,
speaking in a voice tremulous with emotion, and tucking up his
wristbands meanwhile, 'is great--very great--but upon that
person, I must take summary vengeance.'
'Come on, Sir!' replied Mr. Pickwick. Stimulated by the
exciting nature of the dialogue, the heroic man actually threw
himself into a paralytic attitude, confidently supposed by the two
bystanders to have been intended as a posture of defence.
'What!' exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass, suddenly recovering the
power of speech, of which intense astonishment had previously
bereft him, and rushing between the two, at the imminent hazard
of receiving an application on the temple from each--'what!
Mr. Pickwick, with the eyes of the world upon you! Mr. Tupman!
who, in common with us all, derives a lustre from his
undying name! For shame, gentlemen; for shame.'
The unwonted lines which momentary passion had ruled in
Mr. Pickwick's clear and open brow, gradually melted away, as
his young friend spoke, like the marks of a black-lead pencil
beneath the softening influence of india-rubber. His countenance
had resumed its usual benign expression, ere he concluded.
'I have been hasty,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'very hasty. Tupman;
The dark shadow passed from Mr. Tupman's face, as he
warmly grasped the hand of his friend.
'I have been hasty, too,' said he.
'No, no,' interrupted Mr. Pickwick, 'the fault was mine. You
will wear the green velvet jacket?'
'No, no,' replied Mr. Tupman.
'To oblige me, you will,' resumed Mr. Pickwick.
'Well, well, I will,' said Mr. Tupman.
It was accordingly settled that Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and
Mr. Snodgrass, should all wear fancy-dresses. Thus Mr. Pickwick
was led by the very warmth of his own good feelings to give his
consent to a proceeding from which his better judgment would
have recoiled--a more striking illustration of his amiable
character could hardly have been conceived, even if the events
recorded in these pages had been wholly imaginary.
Mr. Leo Hunter had not exaggerated the resources of Mr.
Solomon Lucas. His wardrobe was extensive--very extensive--
not strictly classical perhaps, not quite new, nor did it contain
any one garment made precisely after the fashion of any age or
time, but everything was more or less spangled; and what can be
prettier than spangles! It may be objected that they are not
adapted to the daylight, but everybody knows that they would
glitter if there were lamps; and nothing can be clearer than that
if people give fancy-balls in the day-time, and the dresses do not
show quite as well as they would by night, the fault lies solely
with the people who give the fancy-balls, and is in no wise
chargeable on the spangles. Such was the convincing reasoning
of Mr. Solomon Lucas; and influenced by such arguments did
Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass engage
to array themselves in costumes which his taste and experience
induced him to recommend as admirably suited to the occasion.
A carriage was hired from the Town Arms, for the accommodation
of the Pickwickians, and a chariot was ordered from
the same repository, for the purpose of conveying Mr. and Mrs.
Pott to Mrs. Leo Hunter's grounds, which Mr. Pott, as a delicate
acknowledgment of having received an invitation, had already
confidently predicted in the Eatanswill GAZETTE 'would present a
scene of varied and delicious enchantment--a bewildering
coruscation of beauty and talent--a lavish and prodigal display
of hospitality--above all, a degree of splendour softened by the
most exquisite taste; and adornment refined with perfect
harmony and the chastest good keeping--compared with
which, the fabled gorgeousness of Eastern fairyland itself would
appear to be clothed in as many dark and murky colours, as
must be the mind of the splenetic and unmanly being who could
presume to taint with the venom of his envy, the preparations
made by the virtuous and highly distinguished lady at whose
shrine this humble tribute of admiration was offered.' This
last was a piece of biting sarcasm against the INDEPENDENT,
who, in consequence of not having been invited at all, had
been, through four numbers, affecting to sneer at the whole
affair, in his very largest type, with all the adjectives in
The morning came: it was a pleasant sight to behold Mr.
Tupman in full brigand's costume, with a very tight jacket,
sitting like a pincushion over his back and shoulders, the upper
portion of his legs incased in the velvet shorts, and the lower part
thereof swathed in the complicated bandages to which all
brigands are peculiarly attached. It was pleasing to see his open
and ingenuous countenance, well mustachioed and corked,
looking out from an open shirt collar; and to contemplate the
sugar-loaf hat, decorated with ribbons of all colours, which he
was compelled to carry on his knee, inasmuch as no known
conveyance with a top to it, would admit of any man's carrying
it between his head and the roof. Equally humorous and agreeable
was the appearance of Mr. Snodgrass in blue satin trunks
and cloak, white silk tights and shoes, and Grecian helmet, which
everybody knows (and if they do not, Mr. Solomon Lucas did)
to have been the regular, authentic, everyday costume of a
troubadour, from the earliest ages down to the time of their
final disappearance from the face of the earth. All this was
pleasant, but this was as nothing compared with the shouting
of the populace when the carriage drew up, behind Mr. Pott's chariot,
which chariot itself drew up at Mr. Pott's door, which door itself
opened, and displayed the great Pott accoutred as a Russian officer
of justice, with a tremendous knout in his hand--tastefully typical of
the stern and mighty power of the Eatanswill GAZETTE, and the fearful
lashings it bestowed on public offenders.
'Bravo!' shouted Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass from the
passage, when they beheld the walking allegory.
'Bravo!' Mr. Pickwick was heard to exclaim, from the passage.
'Hoo-roar Pott!' shouted the populace. Amid these salutations,
Mr. Pott, smiling with that kind of bland dignity which
sufficiently testified that he felt his power, and knew how to
exert it, got into the chariot.
Then there emerged from the house, Mrs. Pott, who would
have looked very like Apollo if she hadn't had a gown on,
conducted by Mr. Winkle, who, in his light-red coat could not
possibly have been mistaken for anything but a sportsman, if he
had not borne an equal resemblance to a general postman. Last
of all came Mr. Pickwick, whom the boys applauded as loud as
anybody, probably under the impression that his tights and
gaiters were some remnants of the dark ages; and then the two
vehicles proceeded towards Mrs. Leo Hunter's; Mr. Weller
(who was to assist in waiting) being stationed on the box of that
in which his master was seated.
Every one of the men, women, boys, girls, and babies, who
were assembled to see the visitors in their fancy-dresses, screamed
with delight and ecstasy, when Mr. Pickwick, with the brigand
on one arm, and the troubadour on the other, walked solemnly
up the entrance. Never were such shouts heard as those which
greeted Mr. Tupman's efforts to fix the sugar-loaf hat on his
head, by way of entering the garden in style.
The preparations were on the most delightful scale; fully
realising the prophetic Pott's anticipations about the gorgeousness
of Eastern fairyland, and at once affording a sufficient
contradiction to the malignant statements of the reptile INDEPENDENT.
The grounds were more than an acre and a quarter in
extent, and they were filled with people! Never was such a blaze
of beauty, and fashion, and literature. There was the young lady
who 'did' the poetry in the Eatanswill GAZETTE, in the garb of a
sultana, leaning upon the arm of the young gentleman who 'did'
the review department, and who was appropriately habited in a
field-marshal's uniform--the boots excepted. There were hosts of
these geniuses, and any reasonable person would have thought it
honour enough to meet them. But more than these, there were
half a dozen lions from London--authors, real authors, who had
written whole books, and printed them afterwards--and here
you might see 'em, walking about, like ordinary men, smiling,
and talking--aye, and talking pretty considerable nonsense too,
no doubt with the benign intention of rendering themselves
intelligible to the common people about them. Moreover, there
was a band of music in pasteboard caps; four something-ean
singers in the costume of their country, and a dozen hired
waiters in the costume of THEIR country--and very dirty costume
too. And above all, there was Mrs. Leo Hunter in the character
of Minerva, receiving the company, and overflowing with pride
and gratification at the notion of having called such distinguished
'Mr. Pickwick, ma'am,' said a servant, as that gentleman
approached the presiding goddess, with his hat in his hand, and
the brigand and troubadour on either arm.
'What! Where!' exclaimed Mrs. Leo Hunter, starting up, in
an affected rapture of surprise.
'Here,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Is it possible that I have really the gratification of beholding
Mr. Pickwick himself!' ejaculated Mrs. Leo Hunter.
'No other, ma'am,' replied Mr. Pickwick, bowing very low.
'Permit me to introduce my friends--Mr. Tupman--Mr. Winkle
--Mr. Snodgrass--to the authoress of "The Expiring Frog."'
Very few people but those who have tried it, know what a
difficult process it is to bow in green velvet smalls, and a tight
jacket, and high-crowned hat; or in blue satin trunks and white
silks, or knee-cords and top-boots that were never made for
the wearer, and have been fixed upon him without the
remotest reference to the comparative dimensions of himself and
the suit. Never were such distortions as Mr. Tupman's frame
underwent in his efforts to appear easy and graceful--never
was such ingenious posturing, as his fancy-dressed friends exhibited.
'Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter, 'I must make you
promise not to stir from my side the whole day. There are
hundreds of people here, that I must positively introduce you to.'
'You are very kind, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'In the first place, here are my little girls; I had almost
forgotten them,' said Minerva, carelessly pointing towards a couple
of full-grown young ladies, of whom one might be about twenty,
and the other a year or two older, and who were dressed in
very juvenile costumes--whether to make them look young,
or their mamma younger, Mr. Pickwick does not distinctly
'They are very beautiful,' said Mr. Pickwick, as the juveniles
turned away, after being presented.
'They are very like their mamma, Sir,' said Mr. Pott, majestically.
'Oh, you naughty man,' exclaimed Mrs. Leo Hunter, playfully
tapping the editor's arm with her fan (Minerva with a fan!).
'Why now, my dear Mrs. Hunter,' said Mr. Pott, who was
trumpeter in ordinary at the Den, 'you know that when your
picture was in the exhibition of the Royal Academy, last year,
everybody inquired whether it was intended for you, or your
youngest daughter; for you were so much alike that there was no
telling the difference between you.'
'Well, and if they did, why need you repeat it, before strangers?'
said Mrs. Leo Hunter, bestowing another tap on the slumbering
lion of the Eatanswill GAZETTE.
'Count, count,' screamed Mrs. Leo Hunter to a well-whiskered
individual in a foreign uniform, who was passing by.
'Ah! you want me?' said the count, turning back.
'I want to introduce two very clever people to each other,' said
Mrs. Leo Hunter. 'Mr. Pickwick, I have great pleasure in
introducing you to Count Smorltork.' She added in a hurried
whisper to Mr. Pickwick--'The famous foreigner--gathering
materials for his great work on England--hem!--Count Smorltork,
Mr. Pickwick saluted the count with all the reverence due to so
great a man, and the count drew forth a set of tablets.
'What you say, Mrs. Hunt?' inquired the count, smiling
graciously on the gratified Mrs. Leo Hunter, 'Pig Vig or Big
Vig--what you call--lawyer--eh? I see--that is it. Big Vig'--
and the count was proceeding to enter Mr. Pickwick in his
tablets, as a gentleman of the long robe, who derived his name
from the profession to which he belonged, when Mrs. Leo
'No, no, count,' said the lady, 'Pick-wick.'
'Ah, ah, I see,' replied the count. 'Peek--christian name;
Weeks--surname; good, ver good. Peek Weeks. How you do, Weeks?'
'Quite well, I thank you,' replied Mr. Pickwick, with all his
usual affability. 'Have you been long in England?'
'Long--ver long time--fortnight--more.'
'Do you stay here long?'
'You will have enough to do,' said Mr. Pickwick smiling, 'to
gather all the materials you want in that time.'
'Eh, they are gathered,' said the count.
'Indeed!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'They are here,' added the count, tapping his forehead
significantly. 'Large book at home--full of notes--music,
picture, science, potry, poltic; all tings.'
'The word politics, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'comprises in
itself, a difficult study of no inconsiderable magnitude.'
'Ah!' said the count, drawing out the tablets again, 'ver good
--fine words to begin a chapter. Chapter forty-seven. Poltics.
The word poltic surprises by himself--' And down went Mr.
Pickwick's remark, in Count Smorltork's tablets, with such
variations and additions as the count's exuberant fancy suggested,
or his imperfect knowledge of the language occasioned.
'Count,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter.
'Mrs. Hunt,' replied the count.
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