The Pickwick Papers
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allow me to make a note of it?'
'Certainly, Sir, certainly--hundred more anecdotes of the same
animal.--Fine girl, Sir' (to Mr. Tracy Tupman, who had been
bestowing sundry anti-Pickwickian glances on a young lady by
'Very!' said Mr. Tupman.
'English girls not so fine as Spanish--noble creatures--jet hair
--black eyes--lovely forms--sweet creatures--beautiful.'
'You have been in Spain, sir?' said Mr. Tracy Tupman.
'Many conquests, sir?' inquired Mr. Tupman.
'Conquests! Thousands. Don Bolaro Fizzgig--grandee--only
daughter--Donna Christina--splendid creature--loved me to
distraction--jealous father--high-souled daughter--handsome
Englishman--Donna Christina in despair--prussic acid--
stomach pump in my portmanteau--operation performed--old
Bolaro in ecstasies--consent to our union--join hands and floods
of tears--romantic story--very.'
'Is the lady in England now, sir?' inquired Mr. Tupman, on
whom the description of her charms had produced a powerful impression.
'Dead, sir--dead,' said the stranger, applying to his right eye
the brief remnant of a very old cambric handkerchief. 'Never
recovered the stomach pump--undermined constitution--fell a victim.'
'And her father?' inquired the poetic Snodgrass.
'Remorse and misery,' replied the stranger. 'Sudden
disappearance--talk of the whole city--search made everywhere
without success--public fountain in the great square suddenly
ceased playing--weeks elapsed--still a stoppage--workmen
employed to clean it--water drawn off--father-in-law discovered
sticking head first in the main pipe, with a full confession in his
right boot--took him out, and the fountain played away again,
as well as ever.'
'Will you allow me to note that little romance down, Sir?' said
Mr. Snodgrass, deeply affected.
'Certainly, Sir, certainly--fifty more if you like to hear 'em--
strange life mine--rather curious history--not extraordinary,
In this strain, with an occasional glass of ale, by way of
parenthesis, when the coach changed horses, did the stranger
proceed, until they reached Rochester bridge, by which time the
note-books, both of Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Snodgrass, were
completely filled with selections from his adventures.
'Magnificent ruin!' said Mr. Augustus Snodgrass, with all the
poetic fervour that distinguished him, when they came in sight of
the fine old castle.
'What a sight for an antiquarian!' were the very words which
fell from Mr. Pickwick's mouth, as he applied his telescope to his eye.
'Ah! fine place,' said the stranger, 'glorious pile--frowning
walls--tottering arches--dark nooks--crumbling staircases--old
cathedral too--earthy smell--pilgrims' feet wore away the old
steps--little Saxon doors--confessionals like money-takers'
boxes at theatres--queer customers those monks--popes, and
lord treasurers, and all sorts of old fellows, with great red faces,
and broken noses, turning up every day--buff jerkins too--
match-locks--sarcophagus--fine place--old legends too--strange
stories: capital;' and the stranger continued to soliloquise until
they reached the Bull Inn, in the High Street, where the coach stopped.
'Do you remain here, Sir?' inquired Mr. Nathaniel Winkle.
'Here--not I--but you'd better--good house--nice beds--
Wright's next house, dear--very dear--half-a-crown in the bill if
you look at the waiter--charge you more if you dine at a friend's
than they would if you dined in the coffee-room--rum fellows--very.'
Mr. Winkle turned to Mr. Pickwick, and murmured a few
words; a whisper passed from Mr. Pickwick to Mr. Snodgrass,
from Mr. Snodgrass to Mr. Tupman, and nods of assent were
exchanged. Mr. Pickwick addressed the stranger.
'You rendered us a very important service this morning, sir,'
said he, 'will you allow us to offer a slight mark of our gratitude
by begging the favour of your company at dinner?'
'Great pleasure--not presume to dictate, but broiled fowl and
mushrooms--capital thing! What time?'
'Let me see,' replied Mr. Pickwick, referring to his watch, 'it is
now nearly three. Shall we say five?'
'Suit me excellently,' said the stranger, 'five precisely--till then--care of
yourselves;' and lifting the pinched-up hat a few inches
from his head, and carelessly replacing it very much on one side,
the stranger, with half the brown paper parcel sticking out of his
pocket, walked briskly up the yard, and turned into the High Street.
'Evidently a traveller in many countries, and a close observer of
men and things,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'I should like to see his poem,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'I should like to have seen that dog,' said Mr. Winkle.
Mr. Tupman said nothing; but he thought of Donna Christina,
the stomach pump, and the fountain; and his eyes filled with tears.
A private sitting-room having been engaged, bedrooms
inspected, and dinner ordered, the party walked out to view the
city and adjoining neighbourhood.
We do not find, from a careful perusal of Mr. Pickwick's notes
of the four towns, Stroud, Rochester, Chatham, and Brompton,
that his impressions of their appearance differ in any material
point from those of other travellers who have gone over the same
ground. His general description is easily abridged.
'The principal productions of these towns,' says Mr. Pickwick,
'appear to be soldiers, sailors, Jews, chalk, shrimps, officers, and
dockyard men. The commodities chiefly exposed for sale in the
public streets are marine stores, hard-bake, apples, flat-fish, and
oysters. The streets present a lively and animated appearance,
occasioned chiefly by the conviviality of the military. It is truly
delightful to a philanthropic mind to see these gallant men
staggering along under the influence of an overflow both of
animal and ardent spirits; more especially when we remember
that the following them about, and jesting with them, affords a
cheap and innocent amusement for the boy population. Nothing,'
adds Mr. Pickwick, 'can exceed their good-humour. It was
but the day before my arrival that one of them had been most
grossly insulted in the house of a publican. The barmaid
had positively refused to draw him any more liquor; in return
for which he had (merely in playfulness) drawn his bayonet,
and wounded the girl in the shoulder. And yet this fine fellow
was the very first to go down to the house next morning and
express his readiness to overlook the matter, and forget what
'The consumption of tobacco in these towns,' continues Mr.
Pickwick, 'must be very great, and the smell which pervades the
streets must be exceedingly delicious to those who are extremely
fond of smoking. A superficial traveller might object to the dirt,
which is their leading characteristic; but to those who view it as
an indication of traffic and commercial prosperity, it is
Punctual to five o'clock came the stranger, and shortly afterwards
the dinner. He had divested himself of his brown paper
parcel, but had made no alteration in his attire, and was, if
possible, more loquacious than ever.
'What's that?' he inquired, as the waiter removed one of the covers.
'Soles--ah!--capital fish--all come from London-stage-
coach proprietors get up political dinners--carriage of soles--
dozens of baskets--cunning fellows. Glass of wine, Sir.'
'With pleasure,' said Mr. Pickwick; and the stranger took
wine, first with him, and then with Mr. Snodgrass, and then with
Mr. Tupman, and then with Mr. Winkle, and then with the
whole party together, almost as rapidly as he talked.
'Devil of a mess on the staircase, waiter,' said the stranger.
'Forms going up--carpenters coming down--lamps, glasses,
harps. What's going forward?'
'Ball, Sir,' said the waiter.
'No, Sir, not assembly, Sir. Ball for the benefit of a charity, Sir.'
'Many fine women in this town, do you know, Sir?' inquired
Mr. Tupman, with great interest.
'Splendid--capital. Kent, sir--everybody knows Kent--
apples, cherries, hops, and women. Glass of wine, Sir!'
'With great pleasure,' replied Mr. Tupman. The stranger filled,
'I should very much like to go,' said Mr. Tupman, resuming
the subject of the ball, 'very much.'
'Tickets at the bar, Sir,' interposed the waiter; 'half-a-guinea
Mr. Tupman again expressed an earnest wish to be present at
the festivity; but meeting with no response in the darkened eye of
Mr. Snodgrass, or the abstracted gaze of Mr. Pickwick, he
applied himself with great interest to the port wine and dessert,
which had just been placed on the table. The waiter withdrew,
and the party were left to enjoy the cosy couple of hours