The Pickwick Papers/Chapter 7

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
Chapter 7

CHAPTER VII

How Mr. Winkle, instead of shooting at the Pigeon and killing the Crow, shot at the Crow and wounded the Pigeon; how the Dingley Dell Cricket Club played All–Muggleton, and how All–Muggleton dined at the Dingley Dell Expense; with other interesting and instructive Matters


The fatiguing adventures of the day or the somniferous influence of the clergyman’s tale operated so strongly on the drowsy tendencies of Mr. Pickwick, that in less than five minutes after he had been shown to his comfortable bedroom he fell into a sound and dreamless sleep, from which he was only awakened by the morning sun darting his bright beams reproachfully into the apartment. Mr. Pickwick was no sluggard, and he sprang like an ardent warrior from his tent–bedstead.

‘Pleasant, pleasant country,’ sighed the enthusiastic gentleman, as he opened his lattice window. ‘Who could live to gaze from day to day on bricks and slates who had once felt the influence of a scene like this? Who could continue to exist where there are no cows but the cows on the chimney–pots; nothing redolent of Pan but pan–tiles; no crop but stone crop? Who could bear to drag out a life in such a spot? Who, I ask, could endure it?’ and, having cross–examined solitude after the most approved precedents, at considerable length, Mr. Pickwick thrust his head out of the lattice and looked around him.

The rich, sweet smell of the hay–ricks rose to his chamber window; the hundred perfumes of the little flower–garden beneath scented the air around; the deep–green meadows shone in the morning dew that glistened on every leaf as it trembled in the gentle air; and the birds sang as if every sparkling drop were to them a fountain of inspiration. Mr. Pickwick fell into an enchanting and delicious reverie.

‘Hollo!’ was the sound that roused him.

He looked to the right, but he saw nobody; his eyes wandered to the left, and pierced the prospect; he stared into the sky, but he wasn’t wanted there; and then he did what a common mind would have done at once—looked into the garden, and there saw Mr. Wardle. ‘How are you?’ said the good–humoured individual, out of breath with his own anticipations of pleasure.‘Beautiful morning, ain’t it? Glad to see you up so early. Make haste down, and come out. I’ll wait for you here.’ Mr. Pickwick needed no second invitation. Ten minutes sufficed for the completion of his toilet, and at the expiration of that time he was by the old gentleman’s side.

‘Hollo!’ said Mr. Pickwick in his turn, seeing that his companion was armed with a gun, and that another lay ready on the grass; ‘what’s going forward?’

‘Why, your friend and I,’ replied the host, ‘are going out rook–shooting before breakfast. He’s a very good shot, ain’t he?’

‘I’ve heard him say he’s a capital one,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, ‘but I never saw him aim at anything.’

‘Well,’ said the host, ‘I wish he’d come. Joe—Joe!’

The fat boy, who under the exciting influence of the morning did not appear to be more than three parts and a fraction asleep, emerged from the house.

‘Go up, and call the gentleman, and tell him he’ll find me and Mr. Pickwick in the rookery. Show the gentleman the way there; d’ye hear?’

The boy departed to execute his commission; and the host, carrying both guns like a second Robinson Crusoe, led the way from the garden.

‘This is the place,’ said the old gentleman, pausing after a few minutes walking, in an avenue of trees. The information was unnecessary; for the incessant cawing of the unconscious rooks sufficiently indicated their whereabouts.

The old gentleman laid one gun on the ground, and loaded the other.

‘Here they are,’ said Mr. Pickwick; and, as he spoke, the forms of Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and Mr. Winkle appeared in the distance. The fat boy, not being quite certain which gentleman he was directed to call, had with peculiar sagacity, and to prevent the possibility of any mistake, called them all.

‘Come along,’ shouted the old gentleman, addressing Mr. Winkle; ‘a keen hand like you ought to have been up long ago, even to such poor work as this.’

Mr. Winkle responded with a forced smile, and took up the spare gun with an expression of countenance which a metaphysical rook, impressed with a foreboding of his approaching death by violence, may be supposed to assume. It might have been keenness, but it looked remarkably like misery. The old gentleman nodded; and two ragged boys who had been marshalled to the spot under the direction of the infant Lambert, forthwith commenced climbing up two of the trees. ‘What are these lads for?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick abruptly. He was rather alarmed; for he was not quite certain but that the distress of the agricultural interest, about which he had often heard a great deal, might have compelled the small boys attached to the soil to earn a precarious and hazardous subsistence by making marks of themselves for inexperienced sportsmen. ‘Only to start the game,’ replied Mr. Wardle, laughing.

‘To what?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.

‘Why, in plain English, to frighten the rooks.’

‘Oh, is that all?’

‘You are satisfied?’

‘Quite.’

‘Very well. Shall I begin?’

‘If you please,’ said Mr. Winkle, glad of any respite.

‘Stand aside, then. Now for it.’

The boy shouted, and shook a branch with a nest on it. Half a dozen young rooks in violent conversation, flew out to ask what the matter was. The old gentleman fired by way of reply. Down fell one bird, and off flew the others.

‘Take him up, Joe,’ said the old gentleman.

There was a smile upon the youth’s face as he advanced. Indistinct visions of rook–pie floated through his imagination. He laughed as he retired with the bird—it was a plump one.

‘Now, Mr. Winkle,’ said the host, reloading his own gun. ‘Fire away.’

Mr. Winkle advanced, and levelled his gun. Mr. Pickwick and his friends cowered involuntarily to escape damage from the heavy fall of rooks, which they felt quite certain would be occasioned by the devastating barrel of their friend. There was a solemn pause—a shout—a flapping of wings—a faint click.

‘Hollo!’ said the old gentleman.

‘Won’t it go?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.

‘Missed fire,’ said Mr. Winkle, who was very pale—probably from disappointment.

‘Odd,’ said the old gentleman, taking the gun. ‘Never knew one of them miss fire before. Why, I don’t see anything of the cap.’ ‘Bless my soul!’ said Mr. Winkle, ‘I declare I forgot the cap!’

The slight omission was rectified. Mr. Pickwick crouched again. Mr. Winkle stepped forward with an air of determination and resolution; and Mr. Tupman looked out from behind a tree. The boy shouted; four birds flew out. Mr. Winkle fired. There was a scream as of an individual—not a rook—in corporal anguish. Mr. Tupman had saved the lives of innumerable unoffending birds by receiving a portion of the charge in his left arm.

To describe the confusion that ensued would be impossible. To tell how Mr. Pickwick in the first transports of emotion called Mr. Winkle ‘Wretch!’ how Mr. Tupman lay prostrate on the ground; and how Mr. Winkle knelt horror–stricken beside him; how Mr. Tupman called distractedly upon some feminine Christian name, and then opened first one eye, and then the other, and then fell back and shut them both—all this would be as difficult to describe in detail, as it would be to depict the gradual recovering of the unfortunate individual, the binding up of his arm with pocket–handkerchiefs, and the conveying him back by slow degrees supported by the arms of his anxious friends.

They drew near the house. The ladies were at the garden gate, waiting for their arrival and their breakfast. The spinster aunt appeared; she smiled, and beckoned them to walk quicker. ‘Twas evident she knew not of the disaster. Poor thing! there are times when ignorance is bliss indeed.

They approached nearer.

‘Why, what is the matter with the little old gentleman?’ said Isabella Wardle. The spinster aunt heeded not the remark; she thought it applied to Mr. Pickwick. In her eyes Tracy Tupman was a youth; she viewed his years through a diminishing glass.

‘Don’t be frightened,’ called out the old host, fearful of alarming his daughters. The little party had crowded so completely round Mr. Tupman, that they could not yet clearly discern the nature of the accident.

‘Don’t be frightened,’ said the host.

‘What’s the matter?’ screamed the ladies.

‘Mr. Tupman has met with a little accident; that’s all.’

The spinster aunt uttered a piercing scream, burst into an hysteric laugh, and fell backwards in the arms of her nieces.

‘Throw some cold water over her,’ said the old gentleman.

‘No, no,’ murmured the spinster aunt; ‘I am better now. Bella, Emily—a surgeon! Is he wounded?—Is he dead?—Is he—Ha, ha, ha!’ Here the spinster aunt burst into fit number two, of hysteric laughter interspersed with screams.

‘Calm yourself,’ said Mr. Tupman, affected almost to tears by this expression of sympathy with his sufferings. ‘Dear, dear madam, calm yourself.’

‘It is his voice!’ exclaimed the spinster aunt; and strong symptoms of fit number three developed themselves forthwith.

‘Do not agitate yourself, I entreat you, dearest madam,’ said Mr. Tupman soothingly. ‘I am very little hurt, I assure you.’

‘Then you are not dead!’ ejaculated the hysterical lady. ‘Oh, say you are not dead!’

‘Don’t be a fool, Rachael,’ interposed Mr. Wardle, rather more roughly than was consistent with the poetic nature of the scene. ‘What the devil’s the use of his saying he isn’t dead?’

‘No, no, I am not,’ said Mr. Tupman. ‘I require no assistance but yours. Let me lean on your arm.’ He added, in a whisper, ‘Oh, Miss Rachael!’ The agitated female advanced, and offered her arm. They turned into the breakfast parlour. Mr. Tracy Tupman gently pressed her hand to his lips, and sank upon the sofa.

‘Are you faint?’ inquired the anxious Rachael.

‘No,’ said Mr. Tupman. ‘It is nothing. I shall be better presently.’ He closed his eyes.

‘He sleeps,’ murmured the spinster aunt. (His organs of vision had been closed nearly twenty seconds.) ‘Dear—dear—Mr. Tupman!’

Mr. Tupman jumped up—‘Oh, say those words again!’ he exclaimed.

The lady started. ‘Surely you did not hear them!’ she said bashfully.

‘Oh, yes, I did!’ replied Mr. Tupman; ‘repeat them. If you would have me recover, repeat them.’ ‘Hush!’ said the lady. ‘My brother.’ Mr. Tracy Tupman resumed his former position; and Mr. Wardle, accompanied by a surgeon, entered the room.

The arm was examined, the wound dressed, and pronounced to be a very slight one; and the minds of the company having been thus satisfied, they proceeded to satisfy their appetites with countenances to which an expression of cheerfulness was again restored. Mr. Pickwick alone was silent and reserved. Doubt and distrust were exhibited in his countenance. His confidence in Mr. Winkle had been shaken—greatly shaken—by the proceedings of the morning. ‘Are you a cricketer?’ inquired Mr. Wardle of the marksman.

At any other time, Mr. Winkle would have replied in the affirmative. He felt the delicacy of his situation, and modestly replied, ‘No.’

‘Are you, sir?’ inquired Mr. Snodgrass.

‘I was once upon a time,’ replied the host; ‘but I have given it up now. I subscribe to the club here, but I don’t play.’

‘The grand match is played to–day, I believe,’ said Mr. Pickwick.

‘It is,’ replied the host. ‘Of course you would like to see it.’

‘I, sir,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, ‘am delighted to view any sports which may be safely indulged in, and in which the impotent effects of unskilful people do not endanger human life.’ Mr. Pickwick paused, and looked steadily on Mr. Winkle, who quailed beneath his leader’s searching glance. The great man withdrew his eyes after a few minutes, and added: ‘Shall we be justified in leaving our wounded friend to the care of the ladies?’

‘You cannot leave me in better hands,’ said Mr. Tupman.

‘Quite impossible,’ said Mr. Snodgrass.

It was therefore settled that Mr. Tupman should be left at home in charge of the females; and that the remainder of the guests, under the guidance of Mr. Wardle, should proceed to the spot where was to be held that trial of skill, which had roused all Muggleton from its torpor, and inoculated Dingley Dell with a fever of excitement.

As their walk, which was not above two miles long, lay through shady lanes and sequestered footpaths, and as their conversation turned upon the delightful scenery by which they were on every side surrounded, Mr. Pickwick was almost inclined to regret the expedition they had used, when he found himself in the main street of the town of Muggleton. Everybody whose genius has a topographical bent knows perfectly well that Muggleton is a corporate town, with a mayor, burgesses, and freemen; and anybody who has consulted the addresses of the mayor to the freemen, or the freemen to the mayor, or both to the corporation, or all three to Parliament, will learn from thence what they ought to have known before, that Muggleton is an ancient and loyal borough, mingling a zealous advocacy of Christian principles with a devoted attachment to commercial rights; in demonstration whereof, the mayor, corporation, and other inhabitants, have presented at divers times, no fewer than one thousand four hundred and twenty petitions against the continuance of negro slavery abroad, and an equal number against any interference with the factory system at home; sixty–eight in favour of the sale of livings in the Church, and eighty–six for abolishing Sunday trading in the street.

Mr. Pickwick stood in the principal street of this illustrious town, and gazed with an air of curiosity, not unmixed with interest, on the objects around him. There was an open square for the market–place; and in the centre of it, a large inn with a sign–post in front, displaying an object very common in art, but rarely met with in nature—to wit, a blue lion, with three bow legs in the air, balancing himself on the extreme point of the centre claw of his fourth foot. There were, within sight, an auctioneer’s and fire–agency office, a corn–factor’s, a linen–draper’s, a saddler’s, a distiller’s, a grocer’s, and a shoe–shop—the last–mentioned warehouse being also appropriated to the diffusion of hats, bonnets, wearing apparel, cotton umbrellas, and useful knowledge. There was a red brick house with a small paved courtyard in front, which anybody might have known belonged to the attorney; and there was, moreover, another red brick house with Venetian blinds, and a large brass door–plate with a very legible announcement that it belonged to the surgeon. A few boys were making their way to the cricket–field; and two or three shopkeepers who were standing at their doors looked as if they should like to be making their way to the same spot, as indeed to all appearance they might have done, without losing any great amount of custom thereby. Mr. Pickwick having paused to make these observations, to be noted down at a more convenient period, hastened to rejoin his friends, who had turned out of the main street, and were already within sight of the field of battle.

The wickets were pitched, and so were a couple of marquees for the rest and refreshment of the contending parties. The game had not yet commenced. Two or three Dingley Dellers, and All–Muggletonians, were amusing themselves with a majestic air by throwing the ball carelessly from hand to hand; and several other gentlemen dressed like them, in straw hats, flannel jackets, and white trousers—a costume in which they looked very much like amateur stone–masons—were sprinkled about the tents, towards one of which Mr. Wardle conducted the party.

Several dozen of ‘How–are–you’s?’ hailed the old gentleman’s arrival; and a general raising of the straw hats, and bending forward of the flannel jackets, followed his introduction of his guests as gentlemen from London, who were extremely anxious to witness the proceedings of the day, with which, he had no doubt, they would be greatly delighted.

‘You had better step into the marquee, I think, Sir,’ said one very stout gentleman, whose body and legs looked like half a gigantic roll of flannel, elevated on a couple of inflated pillow–cases.

‘You’ll find it much pleasanter, Sir,’ urged another stout gentleman, who strongly resembled the other half of the roll of flannel aforesaid.

‘You’re very good,’ said Mr. Pickwick.

‘This way,’ said the first speaker; ‘they notch in here—it’s the best place in the whole field;’ and the cricketer, panting on before, preceded them to the tent.

‘Capital game—smart sport—fine exercise—very,’ were the words which fell upon Mr. Pickwick’s ear as he entered the tent; and the first object that met his eyes was his green–coated friend of the Rochester coach, holding forth, to the no small delight and edification of a select circle of the chosen of All–Muggleton. His dress was slightly improved, and he wore boots; but there was no mistaking him.

The stranger recognised his friends immediately; and, darting forward and seizing Mr. Pickwick by the hand, dragged him to a seat with his usual impetuosity, talking all the while as if the whole of the arrangements were under his especial patronage and direction.

‘This way—this way—capital fun—lots of beer—hogsheads; rounds of beef—bullocks; mustard—cart–loads; glorious day—down with you—make yourself at home—glad to see you—very.’

Mr. Pickwick sat down as he was bid, and Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass also complied with the directions of their mysterious friend. Mr. Wardle looked on in silent wonder.

‘Mr. Wardle—a friend of mine,’ said Mr. Pickwick.

‘Friend of yours!—My dear sir, how are you?—Friend of my friend’s—give me your hand, sir’—and the stranger grasped Mr. Wardle’s hand with all the fervour of a close intimacy of many years, and then stepped back a pace or two as if to take a full survey of his face and figure, and then shook hands with him again, if possible, more warmly than before.

‘Well; and how came you here?’ said Mr. Pickwick, with a smile in which benevolence struggled with surprise. ‘Come,’ replied the stranger—‘stopping at Crown—Crown at Muggleton—met a party—flannel jackets—white trousers—anchovy sandwiches—devilled kidney—splendid fellows—glorious.’

Mr. Pickwick was sufficiently versed in the stranger’s system of stenography to infer from this rapid and disjointed communication that he had, somehow or other, contracted an acquaintance with the All–Muggletons, which he had converted, by a process peculiar to himself, into that extent of good–fellowship on which a general invitation may be easily founded. His curiosity was therefore satisfied, and putting on his spectacles he prepared himself to watch the play which was just commencing.

All–Muggleton had the first innings; and the interest became intense when Mr. Dumkins and Mr. Podder, two of the most renowned members of that most distinguished club, walked, bat in hand, to their respective wickets. Mr. Luffey, the highest ornament of Dingley Dell, was pitched to bowl against the redoubtable Dumkins, and Mr. Struggles was selected to do the same kind office for the hitherto unconquered Podder. Several players were stationed, to ‘look out,’ in different parts of the field, and each fixed himself into the proper attitude by placing one hand on each knee, and stooping very much as if he were ‘making a back’ for some beginner at leap–frog. All the regular players do this sort of thing;—indeed it is generally supposed that it is quite impossible to look out properly in any other position.

The umpires were stationed behind the wickets; the scorers were prepared to notch the runs; a breathless silence ensued. Mr. Luffey retired a few paces behind the wicket of the passive Podder, and applied the ball to his right eye for several seconds. Dumkins confidently awaited its coming with his eyes fixed on the motions of Luffey.

‘Play!’ suddenly cried the bowler. The ball flew from his hand straight and swift towards the centre stump of the wicket. The wary Dumkins was on the alert: it fell upon the tip of the bat, and bounded far away over the heads of the scouts, who had just stooped low enough to let it fly over them.

Robert William Buss - The Pickwick Papers, a game of cricket.jpg

‘Run—run—another.—Now, then throw her up—up with her—stop there—another—no—yes—no—throw her up, throw her up!’—Such were the shouts which followed the stroke; and at the conclusion of which All–Muggleton had scored two. Nor was Podder behindhand in earning laurels wherewith to garnish himself and Muggleton. He blocked the doubtful balls, missed the bad ones, took the good ones, and sent them flying to all parts of the field. The scouts were hot and tired; the bowlers were changed and bowled till their arms ached; but Dumkins and Podder remained unconquered. Did an elderly gentleman essay to stop the progress of the ball, it rolled between his legs or slipped between his fingers. Did a slim gentleman try to catch it, it struck him on the nose, and bounded pleasantly off with redoubled violence, while the slim gentleman’s eyes filled with water, and his form writhed with anguish. Was it thrown straight up to the wicket, Dumkins had reached it before the ball. In short, when Dumkins was caught out, and Podder stumped out, All–Muggleton had notched some fifty–four, while the score of the Dingley Dellers was as blank as their faces. The advantage was too great to be recovered. In vain did the eager Luffey, and the enthusiastic Struggles, do all that skill and experience could suggest, to regain the ground Dingley Dell had lost in the contest—it was of no avail; and in an early period of the winning game Dingley Dell gave in, and allowed the superior prowess of All–Muggleton.

The stranger, meanwhile, had been eating, drinking, and talking, without cessation. At every good stroke he expressed his satisfaction and approval of the player in a most condescending and patronising manner, which could not fail to have been highly gratifying to the party concerned; while at every bad attempt at a catch, and every failure to stop the ball, he launched his personal displeasure at the head of the devoted individual in such denunciations as—‘Ah, ah!—stupid’—‘Now, butter–fingers’—‘Muff’—‘Humbug’—and so forth—ejaculations which seemed to establish him in the opinion of all around, as a most excellent and undeniable judge of the whole art and mystery of the noble game of cricket.

‘Capital game—well played—some strokes admirable,’ said the stranger, as both sides crowded into the tent, at the conclusion of the game.

‘You have played it, sir?’ inquired Mr. Wardle, who had been much amused by his loquacity. ‘Played it! Think I have—thousands of times—not here—West Indies—exciting thing—hot work—very.’ ‘It must be rather a warm pursuit in such a climate,’ observed Mr. Pickwick.

‘Warm!—red hot—scorching—glowing. Played a match once—single wicket—friend the colonel—Sir Thomas Blazo—who should get the greatest number of runs.—Won the toss—first innings—seven o’clock A.m.—six natives to look out—went in; kept in—heat intense—natives all fainted—taken away—fresh half–dozen ordered—fainted also—Blazo bowling—supported by two natives—couldn’t bowl me out—fainted too—cleared away the colonel—wouldn’t give in—faithful attendant—Quanko Samba—last man left—sun so hot, bat in blisters, ball scorched brown—five hundred and seventy runs—rather exhausted—Quanko mustered up last remaining strength—bowled me out—had a bath, and went out to dinner.’

‘And what became of what’s–his–name, Sir?’ inquired an old gentleman.

‘Blazo?’

‘No—the other gentleman.’ ‘Quanko Samba?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Poor Quanko—never recovered it—bowled on, on my account—bowled off, on his own—died, sir.’ Here the stranger buried his countenance in a brown jug, but whether to hide his emotion or imbibe its contents, we cannot distinctly affirm. We only know that he paused suddenly, drew a long and deep breath, and looked anxiously on, as two of the principal members of the Dingley Dell club approached Mr. Pickwick, and said—

‘We are about to partake of a plain dinner at the Blue Lion, Sir; we hope you and your friends will join us.’ ‘Of course,’ said Mr. Wardle, ‘among our friends we include Mr.—;’ and he looked towards the stranger.

‘Jingle,’ said that versatile gentleman, taking the hint at once. ‘Jingle—Alfred Jingle, Esq., of No Hall, Nowhere.’

‘I shall be very happy, I am sure,’ said Mr. Pickwick. ‘So shall I,’ said Mr. Alfred Jingle, drawing one arm through Mr. Pickwick’s, and another through Mr. Wardle’s, as he whispered confidentially in the ear of the former gentleman:—

‘Devilish good dinner—cold, but capital—peeped into the room this morning—fowls and pies, and all that sort of thing—pleasant fellows these—well behaved, too—very.’

There being no further preliminaries to arrange, the company straggled into the town in little knots of twos and threes; and within a quarter of an hour were all seated in the great room of the Blue Lion Inn, Muggleton—Mr. Dumkins acting as chairman, and Mr. Luffey officiating as vice.

There was a vast deal of talking and rattling of knives and forks, and plates; a great running about of three ponderous–headed waiters, and a rapid disappearance of the substantial viands on the table; to each and every of which item of confusion, the facetious Mr. Jingle lent the aid of half–a–dozen ordinary men at least. When everybody had eaten as much as possible, the cloth was removed, bottles, glasses, and dessert were placed on the table; and the waiters withdrew to ‘clear away,‘or in other words, to appropriate to their own private use and emolument whatever remnants of the eatables and drinkables they could contrive to lay their hands on.

Amidst the general hum of mirth and conversation that ensued, there was a little man with a puffy Say–nothing–to–me,–or–I’ll–contradict–you sort of countenance, who remained very quiet; occasionally looking round him when the conversation slackened, as if he contemplated putting in something very weighty; and now and then bursting into a short cough of inexpressible grandeur. At length, during a moment of comparative silence, the little man called out in a very loud, solemn voice,—

‘Mr. Luffey!’

Everybody was hushed into a profound stillness as the individual addressed, replied—

‘Sir!’

‘I wish to address a few words to you, Sir, if you will entreat the gentlemen to fill their glasses.’

Mr. Jingle uttered a patronising ‘Hear, hear,’ which was responded to by the remainder of the company; and the glasses having been filled, the vice–president assumed an air of wisdom in a state of profound attention; and said—

‘Mr. Staple.’

‘Sir,’ said the little man, rising, ‘I wish to address what I have to say to you and not to our worthy chairman, because our worthy chairman is in some measure—I may say in a great degree—the subject of what I have to say, or I may say to—to—’ ‘State,’ suggested Mr. Jingle.

‘Yes, to state,’ said the little man, ‘I thank my honourable friend, if he will allow me to call him so (four hears and one certainly from Mr. Jingle), for the suggestion. Sir, I am a Deller—a Dingley Deller (cheers). I cannot lay claim to the honour of forming an item in the population of Muggleton; nor, Sir, I will frankly admit, do I covet that honour: and I will tell you why, Sir (hear); to Muggleton I will readily concede all these honours and distinctions to which it can fairly lay claim—they are too numerous and too well known to require aid or recapitulation from me. But, sir, while we remember that Muggleton has given birth to a Dumkins and a Podder, let us never forget that Dingley Dell can boast a Luffey and a Struggles. (Vociferous cheering.) Let me not be considered as wishing to detract from the merits of the former gentlemen. Sir, I envy them the luxury of their own feelings on this occasion. (Cheers.) Every gentleman who hears me, is probably acquainted with the reply made by an individual, who—to use an ordinary figure of speech—“hung out” in a tub, to the emperor Alexander:—“if I were not Diogenes,” said he, “I would be Alexander.” I can well imagine these gentlemen to say, “If I were not Dumkins I would be Luffey; if I were not Podder I would be Struggles.” (Enthusiasm.) But, gentlemen of Muggleton, is it in cricket alone that your fellow–townsmen stand pre–eminent? Have you never heard of Dumkins and determination? Have you never been taught to associate Podder with property? (Great applause.) Have you never, when struggling for your rights, your liberties, and your privileges, been reduced, if only for an instant, to misgiving and despair? And when you have been thus depressed, has not the name of Dumkins laid afresh within your breast the fire which had just gone out; and has not a word from that man lighted it again as brightly as if it had never expired? (Great cheering.) Gentlemen, I beg to surround with a rich halo of enthusiastic cheering the united names of “Dumkins and Podder.”’

Here the little man ceased, and here the company commenced a raising of voices, and thumping of tables, which lasted with little intermission during the remainder of the evening. Other toasts were drunk. Mr. Luffey and Mr. Struggles, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Jingle, were, each in his turn, the subject of unqualified eulogium; and each in due course returned thanks for the honour.

Enthusiastic as we are in the noble cause to which we have devoted ourselves, we should have felt a sensation of pride which we cannot express, and a consciousness of having done something to merit immortality of which we are now deprived, could we have laid the faintest outline on these addresses before our ardent readers. Mr. Snodgrass, as usual, took a great mass of notes, which would no doubt have afforded most useful and valuable information, had not the burning eloquence of the words or the feverish influence of the wine made that gentleman’s hand so extremely unsteady, as to render his writing nearly unintelligible, and his style wholly so. By dint of patient investigation, we have been enabled to trace some characters bearing a faint resemblance to the names of the speakers; and we can only discern an entry of a song (supposed to have been sung by Mr. Jingle), in which the words ‘bowl’ ‘sparkling’ ‘ruby’ ‘bright’ and ‘wine’ are frequently repeated at short intervals. We fancy, too, that we can discern at the very end of the notes, some indistinct reference to ‘broiled bones’; and then the words ‘cold’ ‘without’ occur: but as any hypothesis we could found upon them must necessarily rest upon mere conjecture, we are not disposed to indulge in any of the speculations to which they may give rise.

We will therefore return to Mr. Tupman; merely adding that within some few minutes before twelve o’clock that night, the convocation of worthies of Dingley Dell and Muggleton were heard to sing, with great feeling and emphasis, the beautiful and pathetic national air of

‘We won’t go home till morning,
We won’t go home till morning,
We won’t go home till morning,
Till daylight doth appear.’
The Pickwick Papers:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57