The Pickwick Papers
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'No, Perker,' said Mr. Pickwick, with great seriousness of
manner, 'my friends here have endeavoured to dissuade me from
this determination, but without avail. I shall employ myself as
usual, until the opposite party have the power of issuing a legal
process of execution against me; and if they are vile enough to
avail themselves of it, and to arrest my person, I shall yield
myself up with perfect cheerfulness and content of heart. When
can they do this?'
'They can issue execution, my dear Sir, for the amount of the
damages and taxed costs, next term,' replied Perker, 'just two
months hence, my dear sir.'
'Very good,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Until that time, my dear
fellow, let me hear no more of the matter. And now,' continued
Mr. Pickwick, looking round on his friends with a good-
humoured smile, and a sparkle in the eye which no spectacles
could dim or conceal, 'the only question is, Where shall we go next?'
Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass were too much affected by
their friend's heroism to offer any reply. Mr. Winkle had not yet
sufficiently recovered the recollection of his evidence at the trial,
to make any observation on any subject, so Mr. Pickwick paused
'Well,' said that gentleman, 'if you leave me to suggest our
destination, I say Bath. I think none of us have ever been there.'
Nobody had; and as the proposition was warmly seconded by
Perker, who considered it extremely probable that if Mr. Pickwick
saw a little change and gaiety he would be inclined to think
better of his determination, and worse of a debtor's prison, it was
carried unanimously; and Sam was at once despatched to the
White Horse Cellar, to take five places by the half-past seven
o'clock coach, next morning.
There were just two places to be had inside, and just three to
be had out; so Sam Weller booked for them all, and having
exchanged a few compliments with the booking-office clerk on
the subject of a pewter half-crown which was tendered him as a
portion of his 'change,' walked back to the George and Vulture,
where he was pretty busily employed until bed-time in reducing
clothes and linen into the smallest possible compass, and exerting
his mechanical genius in constructing a variety of ingenious
devices for keeping the lids on boxes which had neither locks nor hinges.
The next was a very unpropitious morning for a journey--
muggy, damp, and drizzly. The horses in the stages that were
going out, and had come through the city, were smoking so, that
the outside passengers were invisible. The newspaper-sellers
looked moist, and smelled mouldy; the wet ran off the hats of
the orange-vendors as they thrust their heads into the coach
windows, and diluted the insides in a refreshing manner. The
Jews with the fifty-bladed penknives shut them up in despair; the
men with the pocket-books made pocket-books of them. Watch-
guards and toasting-forks were alike at a discount, and pencil-
cases and sponges were a drug in the market.
Leaving Sam Weller to rescue the luggage from the seven or
eight porters who flung themselves savagely upon it, the moment
the coach stopped, and finding that they were about twenty
minutes too early, Mr. Pickwick and his friends went for shelter
into the travellers' room--the last resource of human dejection.
The travellers' room at the White Horse Cellar is of course
uncomfortable; it would be no travellers' room if it were not. It
is the right-hand parlour, into which an aspiring kitchen fireplace
appears to have walked, accompanied by a rebellious poker,
tongs, and shovel. It is divided into boxes, for the solitary confinement
of travellers, and is furnished with a clock, a looking-glass,
and a live waiter, which latter article is kept in a small kennel
for washing glasses, in a corner of the apartment.
One of these boxes was occupied, on this particular occasion,
by a stern-eyed man of about five-and-forty, who had a bald and
glossy forehead, with a good deal of black hair at the sides and
back of his head, and large black whiskers. He was buttoned up
to the chin in a brown coat; and had a large sealskin travelling-
cap, and a greatcoat and cloak, lying on the seat beside him. He
looked up from his breakfast as Mr. Pickwick entered, with a
fierce and peremptory air, which was very dignified; and, having
scrutinised that gentleman and his companions to his entire
satisfaction, hummed a tune, in a manner which seemed to say
that he rather suspected somebody wanted to take advantage of
him, but it wouldn't do.
'Waiter,' said the gentleman with the whiskers.
'Sir?' replied a man with a dirty complexion, and a towel of
the same, emerging from the kennel before mentioned.
'Some more toast.'
'Buttered toast, mind,' said the gentleman fiercely.
'Directly, sir,' replied the waiter.
The gentleman with the whiskers hummed a tune in the same
manner as before, and pending the arrival of the toast, advanced
to the front of the fire, and, taking his coat tails under his arms,
looked at his boots and ruminated.
'I wonder whereabouts in Bath this coach puts up,' said
Mr. Pickwick, mildly addressing Mr. Winkle.
'Hum--eh--what's that?' said the strange man.
'I made an observation to my friend, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick,
always ready to enter into conversation. 'I wondered at what
house the Bath coach put up. Perhaps you can inform me.'
'Are you going to Bath?' said the strange man.
'I am, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'And those other gentlemen?'
'They are going also,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Not inside--I'll be damned if you're going inside,' said the
'Not all of us,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'No, not all of you,' said the strange man emphatically. 'I've
taken two places. If they try to squeeze six people into an infernal
box that only holds four, I'll take a post-chaise and bring an
action. I've paid my fare. It won't do; I told the clerk when I
took my places that it wouldn't do. I know these things have
been done. I know they are done every day; but I never was done,
and I never will be. Those who know me best, best know it;
crush me!' Here the fierce gentleman rang the bell with great
violence, and told the waiter he'd better bring the toast in five
seconds, or he'd know the reason why.
'My good sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'you will allow me to
observe that this is a very unnecessary display of excitement. I
have only taken places inside for two.'
'I am glad to hear it,' said the fierce man. 'I withdraw my
expressions. I tender an apology. There's my card. Give me your
'With great pleasure, Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'We are to be
fellow-travellers, and I hope we shall find each other's society
'I hope we shall,' said the fierce gentleman. 'I know we shall.
I like your looks; they please me. Gentlemen, your hands and
names. Know me.'
Of course, an interchange of friendly salutations followed this
gracious speech; and the fierce gentleman immediately proceeded
to inform the friends, in the same short, abrupt, jerking sentences,
that his name was Dowler; that he was going to Bath on pleasure;
that he was formerly in the army; that he had now set up in
business as a gentleman; that he lived upon the profits; and that
the individual for whom the second place was taken, was a
personage no less illustrious than Mrs. Dowler, his lady wife.
'She's a fine woman,' said Mr. Dowler. 'I am proud of her. I
'I hope I shall have the pleasure of judging,' said Mr. Pickwick,
with a smile.
'You shall,' replied Dowler. 'She shall know you. She shall
esteem you. I courted her under singular circumstances. I won
her through a rash vow. Thus. I saw her; I loved her; I proposed;
she refused me.--"You love another?"--"Spare my blushes."--
"I know him."--"You do."--"Very good; if he remains here, I'll
'Lord bless me!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick involuntarily.
'Did you skin the gentleman, Sir?' inquired Mr. Winkle, with
a very pale face.
'I wrote him a note, I said it was a painful thing. And so it was.'
'Certainly,' interposed Mr. Winkle.
'I said I had pledged my word as a gentleman to skin him. My
character was at stake. I had no alternative. As an officer in His
Majesty's service, I was bound to skin him. I regretted the
necessity, but it must be done. He was open to conviction. He
saw that the rules of the service were imperative. He fled. I
married her. Here's the coach. That's her head.'
As Mr. Dowler concluded, he pointed to a stage which had
just driven up, from the open window of which a rather pretty
face in a bright blue bonnet was looking among the crowd on the
pavement, most probably for the rash man himself. Mr. Dowler
paid his bill, and hurried out with his travelling cap, coat, and
cloak; and Mr. Pickwick and his friends followed to secure their
Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass had seated themselves at the
back part of the coach; Mr. Winkle had got inside; and Mr.
Pickwick was preparing to follow him, when Sam Weller came
up to his master, and whispering in his ear, begged to speak to