Chapters XXX - XXXII of The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens.

The winter of 1836-7 continued with snow, gales, and frost, and despite that avalanche in December 1836 the weather still had not reached peak. The readers of Pickwick Papers were of course blissfully unaware of this, and the fact that their king, William IV, would die in just five months. For now as they began what is now the second volume of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club William IV still reigned and William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne continued to be Prime Minister, and would until his resignation in 1841.

Chapter XXX
How the Pickwickians Made qnd Cultivated the Acquaintance of a Couple of Nice Young Men Belonging to one of the Liberal Professions; How they Disported Themselves on the Ice; and How Their Visit Came to Conclusion

Mr. Pickwick Slides by Phiz.
We left the Pickwickians in December at Mr. Wardle's home of Dingley Dell and there we find them now. A month has passed since Christmas Eve for us, but for them it is now Christmas Day. Chapter XXX opens with Mr. Pickwick and Sam getting ready for breakfast, and Sam tells him of the men downstairs:
‘I shall be down in a quarter of an hour, Sam,’ said Mr. Pickwick, untying his nightcap.
‘Wery good, sir,’ replied Sam. ‘There’s a couple o’ sawbones downstairs.’
‘A couple of what!’ exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, sitting up in bed.
‘A couple o’ sawbones,’ said Sam.
‘What’s a sawbones?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick, not quite certain whether it was a live animal, or something to eat.
‘What! Don’t you know what a sawbones is, sir?’ inquired Mr. Weller. ‘I thought everybody know’d as a sawbones was a surgeon.’
‘Oh, a surgeon, eh?’ said Mr. Pickwick, with a smile.
‘Just that, sir,’ replied Sam. ‘These here ones as is below, though, ain’t reg’lar thoroughbred sawbones; they’re only in trainin’.’
In other words they’re medical students, I suppose?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
Sam Weller nodded assent.
The medical students, Ben Allen and Bob Sawyer, are indeed medical students and are full of high spirits and full of talk of dissecting legs. We learn that Mr. Winkle's sweetheart Arabella is the sister of Ben, who expresses some degree of hostility to Winkle; having been to church the group then go ice skating where Winkle tries to get in Ben's good books. Winkle, unsurprisingly, takes a tumble and the two students express a keen desire to bleed him, then all are distracted however when poor Mr. Pickwick falls through the ice:
The sport was at its height, the sliding was at the quickest, the laughter was at the loudest, when a sharp smart crack was heard. There was a quick rush towards the bank, a wild scream from the ladies, and a shout from Mr. Tupman. A large mass of ice disappeared; the water bubbled up over it; Mr. Pickwick’s hat, gloves, and handkerchief were floating on the surface; and this was all of Mr. Pickwick that anybody could see.
Dismay and anguish were depicted on every countenance; the males turned pale, and the females fainted; Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle grasped each other by the hand, and gazed at the spot where their leader had gone down, with frenzied eagerness; while Mr. Tupman, by way of rendering the promptest assistance, and at the same time conveying to any persons who might be within hearing, the clearest possible notion of the catastrophe, ran off across the country at his utmost speed, screaming ‘Fire!’ with all his might.
Happily he is found, pulled out, and returned to bed where he drinks a large quantity of punch. The next morning the "jovial party" breaks up and plans are made to return to London. Bob Sawyer invites Pickwick to a party, and off they go.

Chapter XXXI
Which is All About The Law, and Sundry Great Authorities Learned Therein

The First Interview with Mr. Serjeant Snubbin
by Phiz.
On to more serious matters now: Christmas is over and we're into January, ten days to a fortnight after the Pickwickians left Dingley Dell. We meet Mr. Jackson, a clerk at the now dreaded Dodson and Fogg, on his way to Pickwick's apartment. In he goes, saying
‘I have called from Dodson and Fogg’s,’ said Mr. Jackson, in an explanatory tone.
Mr. Pickwick roused at the name. ‘I refer you to my attorney, Sir; Mr. Perker, of Gray’s Inn,’ said he. ‘Waiter, show this gentleman out.’
Mr. Jackson however is not one to give up and he informs Pickwick of the date of the trial:
‘It’s only a subpoena in Bardell and Pickwick on behalf of the plaintiff,’ replied Jackson, singling out one of the slips of paper, and producing a shilling from his waistcoat pocket. ‘It’ll come on, in the settens after Term: fourteenth of Febooary, we expect; we’ve marked it a special jury cause, and it’s only ten down the paper. That’s yours, Mr. Snodgrass.’ As Jackson said this, he presented the parchment before the eyes of Mr. Snodgrass, and slipped the paper and the shilling into his hand.
And it's not just Snodgrass who is subpoenaed: Tupman, Winkle, and even Sam are to appear as witnesses for the prosecution. Pickwick then consults his lawyer Mr. Perker who is far from reassuring;
‘I don’t think they could,’ said Mr. Pickwick, smiling, despite his vexation, at the idea of Sam’s appearance as a witness. ‘What course do we pursue?’
‘We have only one to adopt, my dear Sir,’ replied Perker; ‘cross-examine the witnesses; trust to Snubbin’s eloquence; throw dust in the eyes of the judge; throw ourselves on the jury.’
‘And suppose the verdict is against me?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
Mr. Perker smiled, took a very long pinch of snuff, stirred the fire, shrugged his shoulders, and remained expressively silent.
‘You mean that in that case I must pay the damages?’ said Mr. Pickwick, who had watched this telegraphic answer with considerable sternness.
Perker gave the fire another very unnecessary poke, and said, ‘I am afraid so.’
From there to his courtroom attorney, Serjeant Snubbin:
Mr. Serjeant Snubbins was a lantern-faced, sallow-complexioned man, of about five-and-forty, or—as the novels say—he might be fifty. He had that dull-looking, boiled eye which is often to be seen in the heads of people who have applied themselves during many years to a weary and laborious course of study; and which would have been sufficient, without the additional eyeglass which dangled from a broad black riband round his neck, to warn a stranger that he was very near-sighted. His hair was thin and weak, which was partly attributable to his having never devoted much time to its arrangement, and partly to his having worn for five-and-twenty years the forensic wig which hung on a block beside him. The marks of hairpowder on his coat-collar, and the ill-washed and worse tied white neckerchief round his throat, showed that he had not found leisure since he left the court to make any alteration in his dress; while the slovenly style of the remainder of his costume warranted the inference that his personal appearance would not have been very much improved if he had. Books of practice, heaps of papers, and opened letters, were scattered over the table, without any attempt at order or arrangement; the furniture of the room was old and rickety; the doors of the book-case were rotting in their hinges; the dust flew out from the carpet in little clouds at every step; the blinds were yellow with age and dirt; the state of everything in the room showed, with a clearness not to be mistaken, that Mr. Serjeant Snubbin was far too much occupied with his professional pursuits to take any great heed or regard of his personal comforts.
Mr. Snubbin also fails to reassure, and so Pickwick leaves in frustration.

Chapter XXXII
Describes, Far More Fully Than The Court Newsman Ever Did, A Bachelor’s Party, Given By Mr. Bob Sawyer At His Lodgings In The Borough

From Mr. Snubbin's office to the home of Bob Sawyer on Lant Street (Southwark, south London) on the evening of his party. The Pickwickians arrive (after we learn of the fury of Sawyer's landlady Mrs. Raddle, still waiting for rent to be paid) and meet the various guests of the party. As parties go, I don't believe I've been to a worse one: first there's Hopkins, who arrives late:
‘You’re late, Jack?’ said Mr. Benjamin Allen.
‘Been detained at Bartholomew’s,’ replied Hopkins.
‘Anything new?’
‘No, nothing particular. Rather a good accident brought into the casualty ward.’
‘What was that, sir?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.
‘Only a man fallen out of a four pair of stairs’ window; but it’s a very fair case indeed.’
‘Do you mean that the patient is in a fair way to recover?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.
‘No,’ replied Mr. Hopkins carelessly. ‘No, I should rather say he wouldn’t. There must be a splendid operation, though, to-morrow—magnificent sight if Slasher does it.’
‘You consider Mr. Slasher a good operator?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Best alive,’ replied Hopkins. ‘Took a boy’s leg out of the socket last week—boy ate five apples and a gingerbread cake—exactly two minutes after it was all over, boy said he wouldn’t lie there to be made game of, and he’d tell his mother if they didn’t begin.’
He goes on to tell of another story in which a child swallows a necklace, then arrives some guests. When dinner time comes they find their lazy girl has fallen asleep, making the dinner somewhat of a disaster, there's no hot water for drinks afterwards, an argument breaks out, and finally Mrs. Raddle bursts in and breaks the party up. Mr. Pickwick, as with the others, is unceremoniously sent packing:
‘They’re only looking for their hats, Mrs. Raddle,’ said Bob; ‘they are going directly.’
‘Going!’ said Mrs. Raddle, thrusting her nightcap over the banisters just as Mr. Pickwick, followed by Mr. Tupman, emerged from the sitting-room. ‘Going! what did they ever come for?’
‘My dear ma’am,’ remonstrated Mr. Pickwick, looking up.
‘Get along with you, old wretch!’ replied Mrs. Raddle, hastily withdrawing the nightcap. ‘Old enough to be his grandfather, you willin! You’re worse than any of ‘em.’
Mr. Pickwick found it in vain to protest his innocence, so hurried downstairs into the street, whither he was closely followed by Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass. Mr. Ben Allen, who was dismally depressed with spirits and agitation, accompanied them as far as London Bridge, and in the course of the walk confided to Mr. Winkle, as an especially eligible person to intrust the secret to, that he was resolved to cut the throat of any gentleman, except Mr. Bob Sawyer, who should aspire to the affections of his sister Arabella. Having expressed his determination to perform this painful duty of a brother with proper firmness, he burst into tears, knocked his hat over his eyes, and, making the best of his way back, knocked double knocks at the door of the Borough Market office, and took short naps on the steps alternately, until daybreak, under the firm impression that he lived there, and had forgotten the key.
The visitors having all departed, in compliance with the rather pressing request of Mrs. Raddle, the luckless Mr. Bob Sawyer was left alone, to meditate on the probable events of to-morrow, and the pleasures of the evening.
And there ends the eleventh instalment of The Pickwick PapersDon't forget: February's instalment only has two chapters to it: 33-34.

Comments

  1. A Tale of Two Cities might be the most literary of Dickens' works, but for sheer pleasure you can't beat The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Every time you post your latest read, i am so tempted to drop everything and put myself in the trustworthy hands of Mr Samuel Weller Esq, and go off for an adventure or two.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should :) I love reading it now, first time I read it a few years ago I absolutely hated it!

      Delete
  2. Another great instalment - can't wait to find out what happens in the court case next month.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! I think I may read it this evening to find out... :)

      Delete
  3. My January installment: http://100greatestnovelsofalltimequest.blogspot.com/p/the-pickwick-papers-chapters-30-32.html

    Cheers :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I shall have a read :)

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts of the Month