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The Pickwick Papers > PP, Chp. 30-32

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Tristram Shandy | 4645 comments Mod
Hello Fellow Curiosities,

This week, we are not only going to learn how the lawsuit Bardell against Pickwick is faring, but we also make the acquaintance of some medical men, enjoy Mr. Pickwick in a sportive mood and see him lose his temper at least once and partake of high proof beverages more than once.

Chapter 30 starts on the morning of Christmas Day, i.e. after the events described in the previous instalment, when a brisk Sam Weller enters the bedroom of a probably still sleepy Mr. Pickwick and introduces the day with another Wellerism: “’Fine time for them as is well wropped up, as the Polar Bear said to himself, ven he was practising his skating.’” I was wondering if the water in the wash-hand basin that is “a mask o’ ice” is really the water in Mr. Pickwick’s bedroom. I knew that bedrooms in those days were rather cold, especially since people liked to sleep with their windows open for fear of suffocation, but I find it hard to imagine that Mr. P. is spending the night in a room with the temperature being below zero.

Mr. Weller then announces the arrival of some medical students, whom he refers to as Sawbones, namely of Mr. Benjamin Allen, who is the brother of Arabella Allen, the young lady with the black eyes and the fur around the boots, and his friend Bob Sawyer – as we are going to learn later. It is quite amusing to see how Mr. Pickwick, genial and benevolent as he is, is ready to praise the two young doctors in spe as exemplary men (just because they are medical men), whereas Sam’s observations always present an anti-climax to his master’s encomia:

”‘I am glad of it,’ said Mr. Pickwick, casting his nightcap energetically on the counterpane. ‘They are fine fellows—very fine fellows; with judgments matured by observation and reflection; and tastes refined by reading and study. I am very glad of it.’

‘They’re a-smokin’ cigars by the kitchen fire,’ said Sam.

‘Ah!’ observed Mr. Pickwick, rubbing his hands, ‘overflowing with kindly feelings and animal spirits. Just what I like to see.’

And one on ‘em,’ said Sam, not noticing his master’s interruption, ‘one on ‘em’s got his legs on the table, and is a-drinking brandy neat, vile the t’other one—him in the barnacles—has got a barrel o’ oysters atween his knees, which he’s a-openin’ like steam, and as fast as he eats ‘em, he takes a aim vith the shells at young dropsy, who’s a sittin’ down fast asleep, in the chimbley corner.’

‘Eccentricities of genius, Sam,’ said Mr. Pickwick. ‘You may retire.’”


It’s very wise in Mr. Pickwick to suggest that Sam retire lest he should, once more, introduce a counter-point to Mr. Pickwick’s praise.

When Mr. Pickwick – and the reader – meets the two young men at breakfast, they are not described as particularly prepossessing and well-groomed, and the manners they display at eating as well as the conversation they pursue are quite disturbing. The following little detail is especially funny because of its ambivalence:

”’‘I’ve put my name down for an arm at our place,’ said Mr. Allen. ‘We’re clubbing for a subject, and the list is nearly full, only we can’t get hold of any fellow that wants a head. I wish you’d take it.’

‘No,’ replied ‘Bob Sawyer; ‘can’t afford expensive luxuries.’

‘Nonsense!’ said Allen.

‘Can’t, indeed,’ rejoined Bob Sawyer, ‘I wouldn’t mind a brain, but I couldn’t stand a whole head.’”


It’s quite ghastly to listen to these two young men devouring their breakfast and speaking of bodies they dissect, of heads and of children’s legs to boot (pardon the pun!), and I cannot help thinking that Dickens when he wrote this scene was enjoying himself particularly because it allowed him to give free rein to his more morbid register of humour. When Arabella and the others come, the sister greets her brother – as the narrator points out – with more surprise than pleasure, and it also becomes quickly obvious that both Ben Allen and Bob Sawyer seem to have agreed on Arabella’s one day being Bob’s wife. At any rate, there is, at once, a mutual distrust and maybe even dislike between Mr. Winkle and the two young students, which brings us to another question: Is this the beginning of yet another love adventure in Pickwick Papers that will go awry? Will Mr. Winkle be able to hold his own against the charms of Bob Sawyer, and will Arabella be able and willing to resist these charms?

The breakfast being concluded, the party decides to go skating, and, of course, everyone expects Mr. Winkle to be an expert at this sport. One may imagine that with Arabella being nearby and the threat of Bob Sawyer’s getting one up on Mr. Winkle, our sportsman cannot easily dodge the challenge, and so he soon finds himself on the ice, where he clings to Sam Weller as best he can, trying to placate the servant by making him all sorts of promises regarding money and other articles of convenience he has in mind to give him. Sam, however, is needed by Mr. Pickwick and has to leave Mr. Winkle to himself, a situation that ends with Mr. Winkle’s having a spectacular fall, and Mr. Pickwick once more losing his temper and calling his companion a humbug and an impostor, this time, apparently, not in the Pickwickian sense.

Mr. Pickwick himself soon takes to sliding on the ice without any skates, a pastime that finds favour with lots of the other guests as well and which seems less dangerous in comparison with skating. Nevertheless, Mr. Pickwick is soon to find out that even this relatively harmless entertainment is not without its snags because all of a sudden, he falls on his back and through the ice, thus finding himself in the cold water. Mr. Pickwick is wrapped into numerous shawls and taken home, where he is snugly put into bed and given punch to restore him. What can go wrong with two medical men being in the house? – because

”when Mr. Pickwick awoke next morning, there was not a symptom of rheumatism about him; which proves, as Mr. Bob Sawyer very justly observed, that there is nothing like hot punch in such cases; and that if ever hot punch did fail to act as a preventive, it was merely because the patient fell into the vulgar error of not taking enough of it.”


When the party breaks up a day later, Mr. Allen invites Mr. Pickwick and his friends to come and see them in London one day, and soon, the Pickwickians are on their way back to the metropolis – Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle both in a comparatively dejected mood.


Tristram Shandy | 4645 comments Mod
In Chapter 31, we learn that some ten to fourteen days have elapsed since the Pickwickians arrived in London. The introduction to this chapter as well as its title already give us an idea that we will get some news about the Bardell vs. Pickwick case, and it’s probably no surprise that the first sentence already contains expressions like “holes and corners” and “dark and dirty” because, after all, we are back in the world of the Law and those who thrive on it. The next few sentences will be quoted here in full length, however:

”There are several grades of lawyers’ clerks. There is the articled clerk, who has paid a premium, and is an attorney in perspective, who runs a tailor’s bill, receives invitations to parties, knows a family in Gower Street, and another in Tavistock Square; who goes out of town every long vacation to see his father, who keeps live horses innumerable; and who is, in short, the very aristocrat of clerks. There is the salaried clerk—out of door, or in door, as the case may be—who devotes the major part of his thirty shillings a week to his Personal pleasure and adornments, repairs half-price to the Adelphi Theatre at least three times a week, dissipates majestically at the cider cellars afterwards, and is a dirty caricature of the fashion which expired six months ago. There is the middle-aged copying clerk, with a large family, who is always shabby, and often drunk. And there are the office lads in their first surtouts, who feel a befitting contempt for boys at day-schools, club as they go home at night, for saveloys and porter, and think there’s nothing like ‘life.’ There are varieties of the genus, too numerous to recapitulate, but however numerous they may be, they are all to be seen, at certain regulated business hours, hurrying to and from the places we have just mentioned.”


As Peter mentioned earlier this week, in Pickwick Papers we might see the first outlines of some topics and motifs Dickens was going to develop in more detail in his later novels, and when I read those sentences above, I had to think of several characters of Bleak House, but also of David Copperfield, coming under the various headings presented here. Can you guess which characters I had in mind?

The description culminates in the comment, not leaving a lot of hope for Mr. Pickwick:

”These sequestered nooks are the public offices of the legal profession, where writs are issued, judgments signed, declarations filed, and numerous other ingenious machines put in motion for the torture and torment of His Majesty’s liege subjects, and the comfort and emolument of the practitioners of the law.”


The action of the chapter starts with one of Dodson and Fogg’s clerks, the amiable Mr. Jackson, barging in on Mr. Pickwick and his friends, who are having dinner in the George and Vulture, in order to serve a subpoena to the three Messrs Tupman, Snodgrass and Winkle as well as to Sam Weller. What do you think of Mr. Jackson as a representative of his employers? Just consider the way he follows the inn servant up to Mr. Pickwick’s room without actually having been invited, or the smugly evasive answer he delivers on Mr. Pickwick’s indignant inquiry whether the lawyers intend to incriminate him on the evidence of his very friends. It is quite funny how Sam Weller, far from losing his temper like his master is about to do, expresses his disdain for the shifty clerk in words that even a lawyer could not really turn against him:

”‘Samuel Weller?’ said Mr. Jackson, inquiringly.

‘Vun o’ the truest things as you’ve said for many a long year,’ replied Sam, in a most composed manner.”


The next morning, Mr. Pickwick desires to see his own lawyer, and while he and Sam are wending their way to Mr. Perker’s offices, Sam points out the coincidence lying in the fact that the trial against Mr. Pickwick has been scheduled on 14 February, i.e. Valentine’s Day. Do you also consider it a coincidence, or do you see some consistency in the explicit mention of this date in a novel that seems to deal a lot with love relationships, and often in a tongue-in-cheek way? Mr. Pickwick, for once, is not really amused about this coincidence being brought to his attention, and so Sam tries to cheer him up by telling him a story about a pork-shop-keeper who had invented a machine for the production of sausages and who was – here we go again – so unhappily married that one day, he committed suicide by throwing himself into the machine. This time, Mr. Pickwick derives some amusement from the story, more so than I did at any rate, who was already disgusted by Mr. Weller’s saying

”’[…] He was the master o’ that ‘ere shop, sir, and the inwentor o’ the patent-never-leavin’-off sassage steam-ingin, as ‘ud swaller up a pavin’ stone if you put it too near, and grind it into sassages as easy as if it was a tender young babby. […]’”


It’s quite remarkable how often Sam Weller’s morbid imagination involves the slaughter of little children. Did I say “remarkable”? I’d change that for “unsettling” or “repulsive”. We have some sort of climax here, though, in that in one of his earlier stories the pieman processed cats, whereas in this story, the owner of the machine processes himself. The quasi-cannibalistic motif I pointed out in the previous chapter (Allen and Sawyer talking shop over their chops … or breakfast) is made more explicit here. Do you think it means something, or is it just some gross kind of humour?

Mr. Perker receives Mr. Pickwick not without reproach in that he tells him that it was not a wise idea to have sent Sam Weller round to Mrs. Bardell to reconnoitre because now the plaintiff’s lawyers will make it seem as though Mr. Pickwick wanted to bribe Mrs. Bardell into dropping the whole matter. He also informs Mr. Pickwick that he has managed to get Serjeant Snubbin on the case, which is a great luck for them because had the opponent secured the services of Snubbin, matters would have looked terrible for them.

I would have wondered why a lawyer – Mr. Snubbin obviously is one – is referred to as a serjeant, had I not read Daniel Pool’s book on Victorian life, where I learned that serjeants were lawyers that litigated in the courts of Common Pleas, King’s Bench and Exchequer and that they were the equivalent of barristers, who appeared in Chancery. Gradually, however, they declined in prestige and in the second half of the 19th century, the title of serjeant-at-law was abolished. So, Mr. Snubbin is obviously a person to be reckoned with. Both he and his clerk, Mr. Mallard, obviously know how to fleece their clients, and even Mr. Perker cannot help but show his admiration for their tricks. There is an air of slovenliness about Serjeant Snubbin, which enhances the air of legal erudition he exudes. It is not easy for Mr. Pickwick to be granted a personal interview with the serjeant, because, obviously, this man’s time is valuable, but he finally manages to be admitted into Snubbin’s presence and he uses this opportunity to declare his complete innocence with regard to the charge against him.

It appears that Serjeant Snubbin does not do any of the real work connected with the case but just represents Mr. Pickwick in front of the court. Reading the papers connected with the case and drawing conclusions from them is the task of a junior member of the profession, a certain Mr. Phunky, who is summoned and who all too obviously shows how awed he is by the chance of working with, or rather for, the great Snubbin. After a short introduction of Mr. Phunky to Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Pickwick to Mr. Phunky, the serjeant glibly ends the meeting by saying, “’Perhaps you will take Mr. Pickwick away […] and – and – and – hear anything Mr. Pickwick may wish to communicate. […]’”

So, Mr. Pickwick as well as the reader leaves the great man not much wiser than he came. All things considered, what do you think of the way our narrator describes legal practices in this chapter? What might Mr. Pickwick have to expect from all this?

Favourite quotation in this chapter:

”At this the serjeant’s clerk laughed again—not a noisy boisterous laugh, but a silent, internal chuckle, which Mr. Pickwick disliked to hear. When a man bleeds inwardly, it is a dangerous thing for himself; but when he laughs inwardly, it bodes no good to other people.”



Tristram Shandy | 4645 comments Mod
Chapter 32 treats us to a bachelor’s party in Mr. Bob Sawyer’s lodgings, which are not situated in a very pleasant area of London as the following sentence aptly intimates:

”If a man wished to abstract himself from the world—to remove himself from within the reach of temptation—to place himself beyond the possibility of any inducement to look out of the window—we should recommend him by all means go to Lant Street.”


One of the things that struck me as odd – and you should remember that I am a grump and ready to find fault with all sorts of little details – was that the narrator maintains the fiction of being an editor rather and of having based his account on the various records made by Mr. Pickwick and other members of the Pickwick Club. How can he then possibly know of the events occurring in Mr. Sawyer’s rooms prior to the arrival of Mr. Pickwick and the other guests? How can he know about the conversation between the two medical students and Mr. Sawyer’s landlady, the fiery Mrs. Raddle? Nevertheless, I am glad he comes to know about all these things for they are funny enough to read about!

For example, let’s just take the careful preparations Mr. Sawyer undertakes with regard to accommodating his guests – he does not have enough glasses and therefore he borrowed some from a public-house and keeps them on a tray on the landing, where, by the way, they will later be endangered by Mr. Pickwick’s arrival. Little details like these reminded me of my own days as a student: Whenever I had some guests in my little apartment, which basically consisted in one room with a kitchenette, I also had space problems, and sometimes I had to make sure I had enough glasses, plates and cutlery. Fortunately, I did not have a landlady like Mrs. Raddle, who might ask herself why her husband is such a coward – maybe, it’s something to do with her conduct as well? At first, I actually felt sorry for Mrs. Raddle, who wants to collect the rent and is frustrated at finding Mr. Sawyer unable to pay it while he has evidently incurred some expenses for a bachelor’s party – especially when Mrs. Raddle says, “‘if you’ll have the kindness to settle that little bill of mine I’ll thank you, because I’ve got my rent to pay this afternoon, and my landlord’s a-waiting below now.’” I thought that Mrs. Raddle, too, was under obligations to her landlord, and that she could run into trouble unless she received her money from Sawyer on time, but then the whole affair lost some of its seriousness to me when the narrator observes:

”This was all Mrs. Raddle wanted. She had bustled up to the apartment of the unlucky Bob Sawyer, so bent upon going into a passion, that, in all probability, payment would have rather disappointed her than otherwise.”


Mrs. Raddle not only vents her spleen on her own lodger but also on Mr. Allen, when this gentleman dares to take his friend’s part and to interfere in their conversation. She has a very peculiar strategy of arguing, has Mrs. Raddle, for when Mr. Allen calls her an “unreasonable woman”, she seems to take more offence at being called a woman by Mr. Allen than at the attribute he used. For the time being, Mrs. Raddle has to withdraw without her money, but she will wreak her revenge on Mr. Sawyer in due course.

Mr. Sawyer’s guests arrive by and by, and among them the four Pickwickians, and soon Mr. Pickwick finds himself entangled in one of those morbid conversations with another medical student, a young man by the name of Jack Hopkins, who praises the skills of a surgeon with the wonderful name “Slasher”. – “Dr. Slasher, would you come into the operating theatre?”, that has certainly a good ring to it.

As usual in such situations, the guests drink a lot of alcohol, sit down to card games and smoke, and before the night is over, there are always two guests who, roused by the drinks, fall out with each other but also – usually, as is the case here, encouraged by the other guests – make it all up again and confess that they have actually never met a dearer friend than the person they quarrelled with a few minutes ago. A first shadow of doom falls on the party, when Mr. Sawyer has to learn through the maid that there will be no hot water for the gentlemen since Mrs. Raddle forbade her to provide any, and it shows Mr. Pickwick’s wisdom and discretion when he points out that they need no hot water but that cold water will also do. Mr. Sawyer, in this predicament, tries to save his dignity like this:

”‘My landlady is subject to some slight attacks of mental derangement,’ remarked Bob Sawyer, with a ghastly smile; ‘I fear I must give her warning.’

‘No, don’t,’ said Ben Allen.

‘I fear I must,’ said Bob, with heroic firmness. ‘I’ll pay her what I owe her, and give her warning to-morrow morning.’ Poor fellow! how devoutly he wished he could!”


When Mr. Sawyer’s guests finally start singing, the final straw that breaks the camel’s back has been added, and Mrs. Raddle – seconded by her husband, who scolds his lodgers from beneath his protective bedclothes – appears on the landing and loudly demands the termination of the festivities. Some of Bob’s guests exhibit the readiness to have it out with Mrs. Raddle but Mr. Sawyer, knowing better (and knowing longer), pacifies their belligerence and says that it is probably best for them to call it a day. Consequently, the guests take their leave, and when Mr. Pickwick passes the redoubtable Mrs. Raddle, she gives him a piece of her mind:

”‘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.”


Now, with all due respect to Mr. Pickwick, I could not help wondering why he, at his age, should find it worthwhile to visit a party of young medical students. Why does he accept the invitation, which could have been regarded as a mere token of politeness? And, another question, will this little incident that is so little flattering to Mr. Pickwick’s reputation, have more serious consequences later on? After all we know of Mr. Pickwick, none of his little predicaments has, up to now, failed to prove more awkward later on – just think of Miss Witherfield, or the misunderstanding between him and his landlady.

On the way back, the Pickwickians are accompanied by Mr. Allen, who is also under the influence of drink and takes this opportunity to inform Mr. Winkle

”[…] 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.”

Some favourite quotations to wind up with:

”The population is migratory, usually disappearing on the verge of quarter-day, and generally by night. His Majesty’s revenues are seldom collected in this happy valley; the rents are dubious; and the water communication is very frequently cut off.”


”’How long has it been running?’ inquired Mr. Ben Allen. A bill, by the bye, is the most extraordinary locomotive engine that the genius of man ever produced. It would keep on running during the longest lifetime, without ever once stopping of its own accord.”



~ Cheryl ~ | 37 comments Tristram wrote:
"It’s quite remarkable how often Sam Weller’s morbid imagination involves the slaughter of little children. Did I say “remarkable”? I’d change that for “unsettling” or “repulsive”. We have some sort of climax here, though, in that in one of his earlier stories the pieman processed cats, whereas in this story, the owner of the machine processes himself. The quasi-cannibalistic motif I pointed out in the previous chapter (Allen and Sawyer talking shop over their chops … or breakfast) is made more explicit here. Do you think it means something, or is it just some gross kind of humour?"


Content aside, I couldn't help thinking of Rose Nylund when I read this story. Has anyone watched the old sitcom The Golden Girls? Rose was always relating strange anecdotes of people she knew back home in St. Olaf. Sam Weller is not an airhead, certainly. But there was something "oddball" (like, in an irrelevant way) in this story he told. And, though there's no mention of Pickwick's reaction, I pictured him just patiently listening to this story he knows by now is going to be long, meandering, odd, colorful, and possibly pointless!
Just like the other girls would sit and listen to Rose. Once Rose started talking, you knew her story would be amusing, even if it was silly. :-)


Peter | 3204 comments Mod
~ Cheryl ~ wrote: "Tristram wrote:
"It’s quite remarkable how often Sam Weller’s morbid imagination involves the slaughter of little children. Did I say “remarkable”? I’d change that for “unsettling” or “repulsive”. ..."


Cheryl

I have not thought about that TV show for years. Ah yes, Rose ...


message 6: by Peter (last edited Mar 19, 2018 10:22AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Peter | 3204 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "Hello Fellow Curiosities,

This week, we are not only going to learn how the lawsuit Bardell against Pickwick is faring, but we also make the acquaintance of some medical men, enjoy Mr. Pickwick in..."


Ben Allen and Bob Sawyer add spice to the Christmas festivities. Somewhat irreverent, their conversation pegs them as characters we may see much more of as the novel evolves. Our initial introduction to lawyers in the novel has been less than complimentary; now the medical profession has come under the humourous eye of Dickens.

The day’s skating adventure is a perfect backdrop to Christmas. Just consider the conversation between Winkle and Sam. When Winkle says about the ice that it is slippery, Sam’s reply of “Not an uncommon thing upon ice” is both a fact and a character revelation. All the Pickwickians are, in their own way, innocent and naive. Dickens balances the innocence with the worldly and practical comments and advice of Sam Weller.

Benjamin Allen’s desire to bleed Winkle because he has fallen on the ice helps define both Allen and Sawyer. Perhaps a better example of their medical skills, or lack of them, occurs after Pickwick falls through the ice. Hot punch is the cure for people with hypothermia. Let’s hope there is much more to come from Ben Allen and Bob Sawyer.

Tristram asks about the possibility of more love adventures on the horizon. I certainly think so. One aspect of this novel that I really enjoy is the ever-expanding number of characters who find themselves in love, about to fall in love, or suffering the consequences of an apparent love gone sour. The tone of love is always gentle, and even in the worse of relationships the reader knows that all will be well. As we move further into Dickens’s novels we also move further away from the innocence of love. Let’s enjoy our characters in love. Too soon, I fear, we will sense the bitterness of love.


Mary Lou | 2451 comments Tristram wrote: "Chapter 31...Do you think it means something, or is it just some gross kind of humour?"

I think it's the 19th century version of the Three Stooges. Some men (none of our dignified Curiosities, I'm sure!) just seem to never outgrow gross and violent humor, and Dickens seems to get it out of his system through some of his more colorful characters.


Mary Lou | 2451 comments Peter wrote: "All the Pickwickians are, in their own way, innocent and naive. Dickens balances the innocence with the worldly and practical comments and advice of Sam Weller. ..."

Book learning vs. street smarts. Pickwick, at least, was wise enough to realize that he was lacking in more worldly wisdom, and made up for it by hiring Sam. The fact that Pickwick seems to feel neither threatened by nor superior to Sam is to his credit.


Mary Lou | 2451 comments Tristram wrote: "Can you guess which characters I had in mind?..."

So many! Wemmick, Newman Noggs, Uriah Heep, Guppy.... what a cast of characters!


Mary Lou | 2451 comments I notice we have a Noddy in this book - apparently a medical student showing signs of scurvy! Other than his name, I see no similarities between this character and Noddy Boffin, from Our Mutual Friend. But doesn't it seem odd that Dickens would have two characters with the same unusual name? That is, of course, assuming that it was an unusual name at the time. Do you suppose he knew someone named Noddy?


Mary Lou | 2451 comments It is certainly a personal shortcoming that causes me to get distracted and lose interest in a book when too many new characters are introduced at once. That's what we've had in the last two installments, and I must admit that I get impatient and my mind wanders. The addition of the medical students and the various representatives of the legal profession have made these past few weeks less enjoyable for me. But, as is usually the case, once I get to know them better I'll warm up to them and learn to enjoy their company. I'm just not quite there yet. :-(


message 12: by Peter (last edited Mar 19, 2018 03:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Peter | 3204 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "Peter wrote: "All the Pickwickians are, in their own way, innocent and naive. Dickens balances the innocence with the worldly and practical comments and advice of Sam Weller. ..."

Book learning vs..."


Hi Mary Lou.

You are so right about Pickwick. Although there is an obvious class difference between Sam and Mr Pickwick I never get the impression that Pickwick looks down upon Sam. If anything, as you say, Pickwick looks up to Sam as a man of practicalities as well as street knowledge.

On the topic of the class system, I have noticed numerous subtle comments, phrases, and situations that clearly show the class system is alive and well. I think, however, that many of these incidences are present without Dickens purposefully using the class system for any major point. For example, a couple of times we see a person of the lower classes referring to someone from the upper classes as “governor” rather than “mate.” This was (and still is a distinction) that was simply part of one’s vocabulary rather than a caustic comment.

And to your list of characters I second the name Uriah Heap. What an odious person.


message 13: by Peter (last edited Mar 19, 2018 03:02PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Peter | 3204 comments Mod
I completely agree with Tristram concerning the concept and motif of love in this novel. Love comes in many forms: puppy love, serious attachments, humourous glimpses, and frontal assaults. Dickens mixes and matches them among the characters in the novel. Most, if not all, of the tales we read also centre around the idea of love.. It is to Dickens’s credit that we see a good cross section of love among the various classes of the population as well.

Dickens was very young when he wrote PP. He did suffer a disappointment in love with Maria Beadnell and the early bloom of love with his wife Catherine. Still, there is to me, a mature wisdom in the way Dickens is able to explain and explore loves many facets in this novel. Did he encounter so many of love’s ways by careful observation of society when he was a law clerk and a reporter?


message 14: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5976 comments Mod


Mr. Pickwick Slides

Chapter 30

Phiz - 1836

The genial character comedy of Dickens's first novel is nowhere better exhibited than in "Mr. Pickwick Slides" by Phiz, accompanying chapter 30 and complementing the textual physical comedy of "Mr. Winkle on Skates." The passage realised is this:

Mr. Pickwick paused, considered, pulled off his gloves and put them in his hat; took two or three short runs, baulked himself as often, and at last took another run, and went slowly and gravely down the slide, with his feet about a yard and a quarter apart, amidst the gratified shouts of all the spectators.

‘Keep the pot a-bilin’, Sir!’ said Sam; and down went Wardle again, and then Mr. Pickwick, and then Sam, and then Mr. Winkle, and then Mr. Bob Sawyer, and then the fat boy, and then Mr. Snodgrass, following closely upon each other’s heels, and running after each other with as much eagerness as if their future prospects in life depended on their expedition.

It was the most intensely interesting thing, to observe the manner in which Mr. Pickwick performed his share in the ceremony; to watch the torture of anxiety with which he viewed the person behind, gaining upon him at the imminent hazard of tripping him up; to see him gradually expend the painful force he had put on at first, and turn slowly round on the slide, with his face towards the point from which he had started; to contemplate the playful smile which mantled on his face when he had accomplished the distance, and the eagerness with which he turned round when he had done so, and ran after his predecessor, his black gaiters tripping pleasantly through the snow, and his eyes beaming cheerfulness and gladness through his spectacles. And when he was knocked down (which happened upon the average every third round), it was the most invigorating sight that can possibly be imagined, to behold him gather up his hat, gloves, and handkerchief, with a glowing countenance, and resume his station in the rank, with an ardour and enthusiasm that nothing Could abate.



message 15: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5976 comments Mod


I wish you'd let me bleed you

Chapter 30

Phiz

This illustration was designed for the Household Edition of Pickwick, but was not used.

Text Illustrated:

‘Are you hurt?’ inquired Mr. Benjamin Allen, with great anxiety.

‘Not much,’ said Mr. Winkle, rubbing his back very hard.

‘I wish you’d let me bleed you,’ said Mr. Benjamin, with great eagerness.

‘No, thank you,’ replied Mr. Winkle hurriedly.

‘I really think you had better,’ said Allen.

‘Thank you,’ replied Mr. Winkle; ‘I’d rather not.’

‘What do you think, Mr. Pickwick?’ inquired Bob Sawyer.

Mr. Pickwick was excited and indignant. He beckoned to Mr. Weller, and said in a stern voice, ‘Take his skates off.’

‘No; but really I had scarcely begun,’ remonstrated Mr. Winkle.

‘Take his skates off,’ repeated Mr. Pickwick firmly.

The command was not to be resisted. Mr. Winkle allowed Sam to obey it, in silence.

‘Lift him up,’ said Mr. Pickwick. Sam assisted him to rise.

Mr. Pickwick retired a few paces apart from the bystanders; and, beckoning his friend to approach, fixed a searching look upon him, and uttered in a low, but distinct and emphatic tone, these remarkable words—

‘You’re a humbug, sir.’

A what?’ said Mr. Winkle, starting.

‘A humbug, Sir. I will speak plainer, if you wish it. An impostor, sir.’

With those words, Mr. Pickwick turned slowly on his heel, and rejoined his friends.



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Mr. Pickwick . . . . went slowly and gravely down the slide, with his feet about a yard and a quarter apart, amidst the gratified shouts of all the spectators

Chapter 30

Phiz - Household Edition (1874)



I wish you'd let me bleed you.

Chapter 30

Thomas Nast

1873 Household Edition

Text Illustrared:

With a violent effort, Mr. Weller disengaged himself from the grasp of the agonised Pickwickian, and, in so doing, administered a considerable impetus to the unhappy Mr. Winkle. With an accuracy which no degree of dexterity or practice could have insured, that unfortunate gentleman bore swiftly down into the centre of the reel, at the very moment when Mr. Bob Sawyer was performing a flourish of unparalleled beauty. Mr. Winkle struck wildly against him, and with a loud crash they both fell heavily down. Mr. Pickwick ran to the spot. Bob Sawyer had risen to his feet, but Mr. Winkle was far too wise to do anything of the kind, in skates. He was seated on the ice, making spasmodic efforts to smile; but anguish was depicted on every lineament of his countenance.

‘Are you hurt?’ inquired Mr. Benjamin Allen, with great anxiety.

‘Not much,’ said Mr. Winkle, rubbing his back very hard.

‘I wish you’d let me bleed you,’ said Mr. Benjamin, with great eagerness.

‘No, thank you,’ replied Mr. Winkle hurriedly.

‘I really think you had better,’ said Allen.





Went slowly and gravely down the slide with his feet about a yard and a quarter apart.

Chapter 30

Thomas Nast

1873 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

Mr. Pickwick paused, considered, pulled off his gloves and put them in his hat; took two or three short runs, baulked himself as often, and at last took another run, and went slowly and gravely down the slide, with his feet about a yard and a quarter apart, amidst the gratified shouts of all the spectators.

‘Keep the pot a-bilin’, Sir!’ said Sam; and down went Wardle again, and then Mr. Pickwick, and then Sam, and then Mr. Winkle, and then Mr. Bob Sawyer, and then the fat boy, and then Mr. Snodgrass, following closely upon each other’s heels, and running after each other with as much eagerness as if their future prospects in life depended on their expedition.

It was the most intensely interesting thing, to observe the manner in which Mr. Pickwick performed his share in the ceremony; to watch the torture of anxiety with which he viewed the person behind, gaining upon him at the imminent hazard of tripping him up; to see him gradually expend the painful force he had put on at first, and turn slowly round on the slide, with his face towards the point from which he had started; to contemplate the playful smile which mantled on his face when he had accomplished the distance, and the eagerness with which he turned round when he had done so, and ran after his predecessor, his black gaiters tripping pleasantly through the snow, and his eyes beaming cheerfulness and gladness through his spectacles. And when he was knocked down (which happened upon the average every third round), it was the most invigorating sight that can possibly be imagined, to behold him gather up his hat, gloves, and handkerchief, with a glowing countenance, and resume his station in the rank, with an ardour and enthusiasm that nothing Could abate.

‘Thank you,’ replied Mr. Winkle; ‘I’d rather not.’






A large mass of ice disappeared.

Chapter 30

Thomas Nast

1873 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

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.

It was at this moment, when old Wardle and Sam Weller were approaching the hole with cautious steps, and Mr. Benjamin Allen was holding a hurried consultation with Mr. Bob Sawyer on the advisability of bleeding the company generally, as an improving little bit of professional practice—it was at this very moment, that a face, head, and shoulders, emerged from beneath the water, and disclosed the features and spectacles of Mr. Pickwick.

‘Keep yourself up for an instant—for only one instant!’ bawled Mr. Snodgrass.

‘Yes, do; let me implore you—for my sake!’ roared Mr. Winkle, deeply affected. The adjuration was rather unnecessary; the probability being, that if Mr. Pickwick had declined to keep himself up for anybody else’s sake, it would have occurred to him that he might as well do so, for his own.



Commentary:

Phiz had devoted just one scene in the 1836-37 series of illustrations to Mr. Pickwick's sliding on ice at Dingley Dell — apparently without the benefit of skates. Thomas Nast, who as an American may have found ice-skating more inspiring and more common, provides no less than three illustrations of the "Pickwick on ice" theme.

In the plate, "Went slowly and gravely down the slide with his feet about a yard and a quarter apart." Nast has appreciative bystanders enjoy the spectacle of Pickwick and the Fat Boy unassisted (and of city-man Sam Weller supported, centre) attempting to slide; despite the flaring of Pickwick's coat-tails, the image conveys little sense of speed, whereas Phiz's reinterpretation, with a more lithe Pickwick and an appreciative crowd on and off the ice surrounding him, suggests — if not speed — at least action. In the foreground of "I wish you'd let me bleed you", Nast places the fallen Winkle as Pickwick and the Fat Boy watch from a distance, whereas Phiz consigns Winkle's fall to the background. The third Nast elaboration on the theme of urban-dwellers performing winter sports ineptly is perhaps his most vigorous as Pickwick disappears into the pond when the rest of the company hurriedly clear the ice in "A large mass of ice disappeared". Pickwick's gloves and hat remain suspended in mid-air, as his head and shoulders are lost to view. Nast's backdrop is noticeably bleaker than Phiz's, for his sky is dark, his trees without foliage, and the shoreline far away; in contrast, Phiz depicts a more convivial scene, with a much larger company, most of whom are young adults, and a number women; Phiz's backdrop has the same substantial manor house, but his lighter sky contains eight birds and greenery.


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Mr. Winkle on the ice

Chapter 30

Frank Reynolds

Text Illustrated:

With a violent effort, Mr. Weller disengaged himself from the grasp of the agonised Pickwickian, and, in so doing, administered a considerable impetus to the unhappy Mr. Winkle. With an accuracy which no degree of dexterity or practice could have insured, that unfortunate gentleman bore swiftly down into the centre of the reel, at the very moment when Mr. Bob Sawyer was performing a flourish of unparalleled beauty. Mr. Winkle struck wildly against him, and with a loud crash they both fell heavily down. Mr. Pickwick ran to the spot. Bob Sawyer had risen to his feet, but Mr. Winkle was far too wise to do anything of the kind, in skates. He was seated on the ice, making spasmodic efforts to smile; but anguish was depicted on every lineament of his countenance.

Commentary:

Frank Reynolds was a British artist, born in London on 13 February 1876. The son of an artist, he studied at Heatherley’s and, during the 1890s, began to contribute pen and ink work to a number of periodicals including Judy, Longbow, Pick-me-up and The Playgoer. He produced particularly strong cover designs for Sketchy Bits, around 1900, and made his name with full- page humorous drawings in The Sketch. He played a good deal of cricket at this time and, on joining the London Sketch Club, proved to be a good bowler in its matches, which were known as ‘The Married Men’ versus ‘The Single Men’. He was President of the London Sketch Club during the year 1909-10.

Reynolds was advised by John Hassall, a fellow member of the London Sketch Club, to try the softer media of pencil and crayon and, as a result, became greatly accomplished in many branches of draughtsmanship, including watercolor. He was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Color in 1903, and 1906 he began contributing to Punch Magazine and was regularly published within its pages during World War I. Also, he scored a great success with his watercolor illustrations to novels by Charles Dickens, including David Copperfield (c1911), The Pickwick Papers (c1912) and The Old Curiosity Shop (c1913). His Humorous Drawings for the Press (1947) placed a great stress upon clarity at the expense of aesthetic finish. Drawn mainly from memory, his own work was much admired for its direct characterization of low-life urban types and situations.

Originating in the work of Keene and May, his style was often considered a reaction against the ‘prettification’ of Punch, while Fougasse saw it as foreshadowing the free drawing of the 1950s. A contributor to Punch from 1906, Reynolds joined the staff in 1919 and, a year later, succeeded his brother-in-law, F H Townsend, as art editor, a post he retained for over a decade. Much of his best work for Punch appeared in color in the Almanacs and Summer Numbers, including some memorable pastiches.

In 1933, he resigned his membership of the RI and moved to Thames Ditton, apparently to retire. But as his popular creation ‘The Bristlewoods’ attests, he continued to illustrate throughout the 1930s and into the period of the Second World War. He died on 18 April 1953.


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A face, head, and shoulders, emerged from beneath the water, and disclosed the features and spectacles of Mr. Pickwick

Chapter 30

Cecil Aldin

Commentary:

Cecil Charles Windsor Aldin, (28 April 1870 – 6 January 1935), was a British artist and illustrator best known for his paintings and sketches of animals, sports, and rural life. Aldin executed village scenes and rural buildings in chalk, pencil and also wash sketching. He was an enthusiastic sportsman and a Master of Fox Hounds, and many of his pictures illustrated hunting. Aldin was one of the best-loved and most prolific book illustrators working during the so-called 'Golden Age of Illustration', which spanned the late 19th and early 20th century. Aldin himself wrote and illustrated scores of delightful books for children, based on the antics of mischievous puppies, as well as more autobiographical works featuring his own menagerie.

More Aldin's early influences included Randolph Caldecott and John Leech.

At the invitation of the fine genre painter, Walter Dendy Sadler Aldin stayed at Chiddingstone where he made close friends with Phil May, John Hassall and Lance Thackeray and along with them, Dudley Hardy and Tom Browne, founded the London Sketch Club. The birth of his son and daughter inspired a series of nursery pictures which together with his large sets of the Fallowfield Hunt, Bluemarket Races, Harefield Harriers and Cottesbrook Hunt prints brought him much popularity. This was enhanced by his ever expanding book and magazine illustrative work. He joined the Chelsea Arts Club and held his first exhibition in Paris in 1908. An exhibition in Paris in 1909 was received with much acclaim and extended his fame to a wider audience. He illustrated the 1910 edition of Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers.


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Mr. Pickwick returning from the ice

Chapter 30

Pickwick Pictures

I have no idea who the artist is.

Text Illustrated;

The clay upon so much of Mr. Pickwick’s coat as was yet visible, bore testimony to the accuracy of this statement; and as the fears of the spectators were still further relieved by the fat boy’s suddenly recollecting that the water was nowhere more than five feet deep, prodigies of valour were performed to get him out. After a vast quantity of splashing, and cracking, and struggling, Mr. Pickwick was at length fairly extricated from his unpleasant position, and once more stood on dry land.

‘Oh, he’ll catch his death of cold,’ said Emily.

‘Dear old thing!’ said Arabella. ‘Let me wrap this shawl round you, Mr. Pickwick.’

‘Ah, that’s the best thing you can do,’ said Wardle; ‘and when you’ve got it on, run home as fast as your legs can carry you, and jump into bed directly.’

A dozen shawls were offered on the instant. Three or four of the thickest having been selected, Mr. Pickwick was wrapped up, and started off, under the guidance of Mr. Weller; presenting the singular phenomenon of an elderly gentleman, dripping wet, and without a hat, with his arms bound down to his sides, skimming over the ground, without any clearly-defined purpose, at the rate of six good English miles an hour.



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Grand carouse in honour of Mr. Pickwick's escape from the ice.

Chapter 30

John Gilbert

Text Illustrated:

‘Ah, that’s the best thing you can do,’ said Wardle; ‘and when you’ve got it on, run home as fast as your legs can carry you, and jump into bed directly.’

A dozen shawls were offered on the instant. Three or four of the thickest having been selected, Mr. Pickwick was wrapped up, and started off, under the guidance of Mr. Weller; presenting the singular phenomenon of an elderly gentleman, dripping wet, and without a hat, with his arms bound down to his sides, skimming over the ground, without any clearly-defined purpose, at the rate of six good English miles an hour.

But Mr. Pickwick cared not for appearances in such an extreme case, and urged on by Sam Weller, he kept at the very top of his speed until he reached the door of Manor Farm, where Mr. Tupman had arrived some five minutes before, and had frightened the old lady into palpitations of the heart by impressing her with the unalterable conviction that the kitchen chimney was on fire—a calamity which always presented itself in glowing colours to the old lady’s mind, when anybody about her evinced the smallest agitation.

Mr. Pickwick paused not an instant until he was snug in bed. Sam Weller lighted a blazing fire in the room, and took up his dinner; a bowl of punch was carried up afterwards, and a grand carouse held in honour of his safety. Old Wardle would not hear of his rising, so they made the bed the chair, and Mr. Pickwick presided. A second and a third bowl were ordered in; and when Mr. Pickwick awoke next morning, there was not a symptom of rheumatism about him; which proves, as Mr. Bob Sawyer very justly observed, that there is nothing like hot punch in such cases; and that if ever hot punch did fail to act as a preventive, it was merely because the patient fell into the vulgar error of not taking enough of it.



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The first Interview with Mr. Serjeant Snubbin

Chapter 31

Phiz - 1837

Text Illustrated:

The full force of the law that Mrs. Martha Bardell brings to bear upon the hapless bachelor cannot be mitigated even by so gifted a pleader as Serjeant Snubbin. The satirical elements in Dickens's treatment of the eminent attorney in his sanctum sanctorum undoubtedly takes its origin in his own work in the Doctors' Commons as a freelance reporter, an experience that the novelist later mined for David Copperfield. The passage realised is this:

Mr. Serjeant Snubbin 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.

The Serjeant was writing when his clients entered; he bowed abstractedly when Mr. Pickwick was introduced by his solicitor; and then, motioning them to a seat, put his pen carefully in the inkstand, nursed his left leg, and waited to be spoken to.

"Mr. Pickwick is the defendant in Bardell and Pickwick, Serjeant Snubbin," said Perker.



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Very good plant', replied Jackson, ' but it won't do.

Chapter 31

T. Onwhyn and Sam Weller

The Pickwick Illustrations 1837

Text Illustrated:

‘Now,’ said Jackson, ‘I’m afraid you’ll think me rather troublesome, but I want somebody else, if it ain’t inconvenient. I have Samuel Weller’s name here, Mr. Pickwick.’

‘Send my servant here, waiter,’ said Mr. Pickwick. The waiter retired, considerably astonished, and Mr. Pickwick motioned Jackson to a seat.

There was a painful pause, which was at length broken by the innocent defendant.

‘I suppose, Sir,’ said Mr. Pickwick, his indignation rising while he spoke—‘I suppose, Sir, that it is the intention of your employers to seek to criminate me upon the testimony of my own friends?’

Mr. Jackson struck his forefinger several times against the left side of his nose, to intimate that he was not there to disclose the secrets of the prison house, and playfully rejoined—

‘Not knowin’, can’t say.’

‘For what other reason, Sir,’ pursued Mr. Pickwick, ‘are these subpoenas served upon them, if not for this?’

‘Very good plant, Mr. Pickwick,’ replied Jackson, slowly shaking his head. ‘But it won’t do. No harm in trying, but there’s little to be got out of me.’

Here Mr. Jackson smiled once more upon the company, and, applying his left thumb to the tip of his nose, worked a visionary coffee-mill with his right hand, thereby performing a very graceful piece of pantomime (then much in vogue, but now, unhappily, almost obsolete) which was familiarly denominated ‘taking a grinder.’

‘No, no, Mr. Pickwick,’ said Jackson, in conclusion; ‘Perker’s people must guess what we’ve served these subpoenas for. If they can’t, they must wait till the action comes on, and then they’ll find out.



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A little fierce woman bounced into the room, all in a tremble with passion, and pale with rage

Chapter 32

Phiz - 1874 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

"Please, Mister Sawyer, Missis Raddle wants to speak to you."

Before Mr. Bob Sawyer could return any answer, the girl suddenly disappeared with a jerk, as if somebody had given her a violent pull behind; this mysterious exit was no sooner accomplished, than there was another tap at the door — a smart, pointed tap, which seemed to say, "Here I am, and in I'm coming."

"Mr. Bob Sawyer glanced at his friend with a look of abject apprehension, and once more cried, "Come in."

The permission was not at all necessary, for, before Mr. Bob Sawyer had uttered the words, a little, fierce woman bounced into the room, all in a tremble with passion, and pale with rage.

"Now, Mr. Sawyer," said the little, fierce woman, trying to appear very calm, "if you'll have the kindness to settle that little bill of mine I'll thank you, because I've got my rent to pay this afternoon, and my landlord's a-waiting below now." Here the little woman rubbed her hands, and looked steadily over Mr. Bob Sawyer's head, at the wall behind him.

"I am very sorry to put you to any inconvenience, Mrs. Raddle," said Bob Sawyer deferentially, 'but —"

"Oh, it isn't any inconvenience," replied the little woman, with a shrill titter. "I didn't want it particular before to-day; leastways, as it has to go to my landlord directly, it was as well for you to keep it as me. You promised me this afternoon, Mr. Sawyer, and every gentleman as has ever lived here, has kept his word, Sir, as of course anybody as calls himself a gentleman does.' Mrs. Raddle tossed her head, bit her lips, rubbed her hands harder, and looked at the wall more steadily than ever. It was plain to see, as Mr. Bob Sawyer remarked in a style of Eastern allegory on a subsequent occasion, that she was 'getting the steam up."

"I am very sorry, Mrs. Raddle," said Bob Sawyer, with all imaginable humility, "but the fact is, that I have been disappointed in the City to-day." — Extraordinary place that City. An astonishing number of men always are getting disappointed there.

"Well, Mr. Sawyer," said Mrs. Raddle, planting herself firmly on a purple cauliflower in the Kidderminster carpet, "and what's that to me, sir?"

"I — I — have no doubt, Mrs. Raddle," said Bob Sawyer, blinking this last question, "that before the middle of next week we shall be able to set ourselves quite square, and go on, on a better system, afterwards."

This was all Mrs. Raddle wanted. She had bustled up to the apartment of the unlucky Bob Sawyer, so bent upon going into a passion, that, in all probability, payment would have rather disappointed her than otherwise. She was in excellent order for a little relaxation of the kind, having just exchanged a few introductory compliments with Mr. R. in the front kitchen.

"Do you suppose, Mr. Sawyer," said Mrs. Raddle, elevating her voice for the information of the neighbours — "do you suppose that I'm a-going day after day to let a fellar occupy my lodgings as never thinks of paying his rent, nor even the very money laid out for the fresh butter and lump sugar that's bought for his breakfast, and the very milk that's took in, at the street door? Do you suppose a hard-working and industrious woman as has lived in this street for twenty year (ten year over the way, and nine year and three-quarters in this very house) has nothing else to do but to work herself to death after a parcel of lazy idle fellars, that are always smoking and drinking, and lounging, when they ought to be glad to turn their hands to anything that would help 'em to pay their bills? Do you — —"

"My good soul," interposed Mr. Benjamin Allen soothingly.

"Have the goodness to keep your observashuns to yourself, sir, I beg," said Mrs. Raddle, suddenly arresting the rapid torrent of her speech, and addressing the third party with impressive slowness and solemnity. "I am not aweer, sir, that you have any right to address your conversation to me. I don't think I let these apartments to you, sir."

"No, you certainly did not," said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

"Very good, sir," responded Mrs. Raddle, with lofty politeness. "Then p'raps, sir, you'll confine yourself to breaking the arms and legs of the poor people in the hospitals, and keep yourself to yourself, sir, or there may be some persons here as will make you, sir."






Get along with you, you old wretch

Chapter 32

Thomas Nast

Commentary:

In revisiting the misadventures of the medical students in his 1873 woodcuts, Phiz has made the irrepressible Bob Sawyer perhaps a little too angular and stick-like in his figure, and Mrs. Raddle (a premonitory rumble of Mrs. Sairey Gamp in Martin Chuzzlewit) not quite forceful or "fierce" enough, and certainly not the force of nature that her voice implies. Plausibly, however, the timid Ben Allen is caught between the two of them, and between Ben and Bob Phiz has strategically positioned a rather small white jug (which will be a receptacle for punch) and a single large goblet (of the type borrowed in quantity from the nearby public house), signifying their hedonistic, bachelor life-style. The tray full of glasses from the nearby public house and the stove on which the punch is warming are nowhere in sight, nor is Mrs. Raddle rubbing her hands in anticipation of receiving her rent and "getting her steam up" . More disappointingly, Phiz has not taken the opportunity to incorporate any of the details of the setting, in particular, "the preparations for the reception of visitors", as provided by Dickens.

In the other Household Edition, that issued by Harper and Brothers, New York, Thomas Nast realised a moment from later in the same chapter when Mrs. Raddle, still upset with Bob for not paying his rent, throws the bacchanal celebrants out of her house in the wee hours after their carousing has led to drunken revelry and singing. Snodgrass and Winkle are on the landing, while Tupman (above) and Pickwick (centre foreground) are already making their way down the staircase as Mrs. Raddle (just visible above the railing, upper centre) denounces the departing bachelors as "brutes" (Harper & Bros. Household Edition). The lateness of the hour is suggested by the enormous shadows of Pickwick and Tupman on the wall of stairwell (right). The number of revellers suddenly entreated to depart by the anxious Bob is implied by the number of hats visible in the open doorway (left), but one receives very little sense of either the characters or the setting in Nast's plate, which fails to capture the humorous aspect of the episode, which Nast has us view from a perspective opposite the bottom of the stairs, Bob Sawyer's apartment being one flight up (on "the first-floor," as the servant-girl tells Pickwick as he arrived earlier):

"Mr. Sawyer! Mr. Sawyer!" screamed a voice from the two-pair landing.

"It's my landlady," said Bob Sawyer, looking round him with great dismay. "Yes, Mrs. Raddle."

"What do you mean by this, Mr. Sawyer?" replied the voice, with great shrillness and rapidity of utterance. "Ain't it enough to be swindled out of one's rent, and money lent out of pocket besides, and abused and insulted by your friends that dares to call themselves men, without having the house turned out of the window, and noise enough made to bring the fire-engines here, at two o'clock in the morning? — Turn them wretches away."

"You ought to be ashamed of yourselves," said the voice of Mr. Raddle, which appeared to proceed from beneath some distant bed-clothes.

"Ashamed of themselves!" said Mrs. Raddle. "Why don't you go down and knock 'em every one downstairs? You would if you was a man."

"I should if I was a dozen men, my dear," replied Mr. Raddle pacifically, "but they have the advantage of me in numbers, my dear."

"Ugh, you coward!" replied Mrs. Raddle, with supreme contempt. "Do you mean to turn them wretches out, or not, Mr. Sawyer?"

"They're going, Mrs. Raddle, they're going," said the miserable Bob. "I am afraid you'd better go," said Mr. Bob Sawyer to his friends. "I thought you were making too much noise."

"It's a very unfortunate thing," said the prim man. "Just as we were getting so comfortable too!" The prim man was just beginning to have a dawning recollection of the story he had forgotten.

"It's hardly to be borne," said the prim man, looking round. "Hardly to be borne, is it?"

"Not to be endured," replied Jack Hopkins; "let's have the other verse, Bob. Come, here goes!"

"No, no, Jack, don't," interposed Bob Sawyer; "it's a capital song, but I am afraid we had better not have the other verse. They are very violent people, the people of the house."

"Shall I step upstairs, and pitch into the landlord?" inquired Hopkins, "or keep on ringing the bell, or go and groan on the staircase? You may command me, Bob."

"I am very much indebted to you for your friendship and good-nature, Hopkins," said the wretched Mr. Bob Sawyer, "but I think the best plan to avoid any further dispute is for us to break up at once."

"Now, Mr. Sawyer," screamed the shrill voice of Mrs. Raddle, "are them brutes going?"

"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
. . .


Tristram Shandy | 4645 comments Mod
~ Cheryl ~ wrote: "Tristram wrote:
"It’s quite remarkable how often Sam Weller’s morbid imagination involves the slaughter of little children. Did I say “remarkable”? I’d change that for “unsettling” or “repulsive”. ..."


Or maybe, Sam is a bit like Inspector Columbo, who also talks a lot about his wife (in the same vein as Mrs. Gamp does about Mrs. Harris, so that there was a time when I was convinced that there is actually no Mrs. Columbo), but he does this - and one notices if one listens closely - to elicit some response with the suspect because in a way, the seemingly pointless anecdotes of Inspector Columbo always relate to the case or some detail of it. And maybe, this is the case, too, with Sam?


Tristram Shandy | 4645 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "All the Pickwickians are, in their own way, innocent and naive. Dickens balances the innocence with the worldly and practical comments and advice of Sam Weller. "

An interesting thing you are pointing out here, Peter. In fact, the contrast is quite remarkable - and the naivity of Mr. Pickwick and his friends is astonishing, too, in that I find it very strange in a gentleman of Mr. Pickwick's age and prosperity. Where has he been all his life? As to Sam Weller's street-wisdom (or is it street-wiseness?), your pointing it out reminds me of the first meeting between Mr. Weller senior and Mr. Pickwick. Here Mr. Weller made a remark that I found very peculiar, but also very telling (about the Wellers and their relationship) at the time: Weller the elder said that he took great care to give his son a good education by letting him grow up basically on his own, in the street. It did seem quite irresponsible and careless at first sight, but I am sure Mr. Weller looked after his son and made sure he had shelter and accommodation as well as a paternal example. But still, he left it to his son to sharpen his wits by exploring the world around him - something that many parents nowadays no longer do for their children because they (the parents, not the children) are so over-protective.

And if we consider that Sam, as a child, had a good deal of freedom and looking about himself in the world, it's little wonder he has become the resourceful and self-confident guy he is.


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Mary Lou wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Can you guess which characters I had in mind?..."

So many! Wemmick, Newman Noggs, Uriah Heep, Guppy.... what a cast of characters!"


Exactly, Mary Lou! And also Mr. Snagsby, and young David Copperfield ... There are really a lot of legal characters in Dickens.


Tristram Shandy | 4645 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "It is certainly a personal shortcoming that causes me to get distracted and lose interest in a book when too many new characters are introduced at once. That's what we've had in the last two instal..."

Oh dear, oh dear ... I am afraid there are even some more characters to come. But don't lose your enthusiam, Mary Lou! I am sure Dickens will tie up some of the loose ends.


Tristram Shandy | 4645 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "I notice we have a Noddy in this book - apparently a medical student showing signs of scurvy! Other than his name, I see no similarities between this character and Noddy Boffin, from Our Mutual Fri..."

I would think that Noddy is, like Ned, a short and more tender form of Edward, but am not sure.


Tristram Shandy | 4645 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "Mary Lou wrote: "Peter wrote: "All the Pickwickians are, in their own way, innocent and naive. Dickens balances the innocence with the worldly and practical comments and advice of Sam Weller. ..."
..."


The class system is surely a very important frame of reference in this, as in practically any other Victorian novel: Even though Sam has quite a loose tongue, for instance, Mr. Pickwick only has to tell him in so many words to refrain from making a comment, and Sam immediately dries up, Mr. Pickwick being the master.

In some of the preceding chapters, I also found it interesting to see how the company downstairs - i.e. the servants' community - mirrors the company upstairs, e.g. when the Mayor Mr. Nupkins and Mr. Pickwick expose Mr. Jingle and Sam and Mr. Muzzle do the same with Mr. Trotter (only in a more robust manner).


message 30: by ~ Cheryl ~ (last edited Mar 20, 2018 03:35PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

~ Cheryl ~ | 37 comments Tristram wrote:
"Or maybe, Sam is a bit like Inspector Columbo, who also talks a lot about his wife (in the same vein as Mrs. Gamp does about Mrs. Harris, so that there was a time when I was convinced that there is actually no Mrs. Columbo), but he does this - and one notices if one listens closely - to elicit some response with the suspect because in a way, the seemingly pointless anecdotes of Inspector Columbo always relate to the case or some detail of it. And maybe, this is the case, too, with Sam?"


Yes, a little bit of both maybe. Like your Columbo comparison, I had the idea too, of Sam's stories being "seemingly pointless," but actually having some round-about way of being relevant.
But then in the context of PP, I can see it as just being good comedy ... Sam Weller and Pickwick are so different, and here goes Sam with one of his colorful stories again. I do enjoy it.


Peter | 3204 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Mr. Pickwick . . . . went slowly and gravely down the slide, with his feet about a yard and a quarter apart, amidst the gratified shouts of all the spectators

Chapter 30

Phiz - Household Editio..."


I found the commentary to this illustration very informative. In comparing Nast to Hablot Browne clear distinctions were made. When all of the information is considered, Phiz comes across as the person who best interprets the joy and spirit of the skating party. Subtle details of his illustration such as the young age of many in the skating party, the birds in the sky, and the background tone of trees and the house all combine to demonstrate Phiz’s ability to not only to reproduce a scene, but to add detail that gives both breadth and depth to the passage. In later books we will see how Phiz evolved even more as he would add emblematic detail to his illustrations. For now, it is a joy to see how Phiz, even in his very early association with Dickens, was able to not only reproduce the words on the page but also the spirit of the passage.


Peter | 3204 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "Peter wrote: "All the Pickwickians are, in their own way, innocent and naive. Dickens balances the innocence with the worldly and practical comments and advice of Sam Weller. "

An interesting thin..."


Yes. I can see why so many people were drawn to the character of Sam Weller. He is, I think, a composite of an entire class of people. Shall we call them the working poor? Such people needed street smarts, their wits, and a touch of self-consciousness in order to navigate the shoals of their lives. What better person to carry the banner of the working poor? While remaining totally faithful to Pickwick, Sam still has a clear and distinct sense of himself.

What better role model could there be?
.


message 33: by Julie (new) - added it

Julie Kelleher | 1253 comments ~ Cheryl ~ wrote: "Tristram wrote:
"Or maybe, Sam is a bit like Inspector Columbo, who also talks a lot about his wife (in the same vein as Mrs. Gamp does about Mrs. Harris, so that there was a time when I was convin..."


Yes, and I'm also starting to wonder if Dickens has a kind of challenge going for Sam to top himself with each new story. Think cats in the sausages was good? Try the sausage maker!

Kind of nervous about what he might come up with next--even as the hyperbole of it cracks me up each time.


message 34: by Julie (new) - added it

Julie Kelleher | 1253 comments Tristram wrote: "Hello Fellow Curiosities,

This week, we are not only going to learn how the lawsuit Bardell against Pickwick is faring, but we also make the acquaintance of some medical men, enjoy Mr. Pickwick in a sportive mood and see him lose his temper at least once and partake of high proof beverages more than once.."


These opening lines are such an excellent and capable summary!


Tristram Shandy | 4645 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "These opening lines are such an excellent and capable summary!"

The part about the beverages and the loss of temper I could have tagged to any of my summaries of PP, I think. When has Mr. P. not lost his temper at least once in a monthly instalment? :-)


message 36: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5976 comments Mod
Was Sam Weller based on a real person? You decide:


Sam Weller’s phrases and stories came out of nineteenth-century entertainment, and so in one sense, so did Dickens’s career. The phrases of Sam Weller – the first in a long list of classic comic creations Dickens would release to the world – were thought to be heavily influenced by a musical farce titled "The Boarding House", which featured a character with the name of Simon Spatterdash. The comic actor who played this character on stage was Samuel Vale of the Surrey Theatre, and his comic catchphrases became known as ‘Sam Valerisms’ in honour of him. (From Samuel Vale to Sam Weller seems a short step for Dickens to have made.) Sam Weller’s phrases echo Sam Vale’s in their formulation and structure. Some of Vales sayings are:

"I know the world, as the monkey said when he cut off his tail"

"I'm down upon youm as the extinguisher said to the rushlight"

"Come on, as the man said to his tight book"

"Be quick; well so I will, as the fly said when he hopped out of the mustard pot."


From 1830 to 1836 this favorite style became popular among the audiences enjoying performances such as the Surrey, Garrick, as well as the licensed playhouses furnished at this time; it is no difficult thing to understand how ear-infectious these trite sayings and sometimes curiously apt comparisons became. Dickens becomes the abstract mirrorer of his time, in catching the popular fun and embalming it with his choice phraseology, giving an unctuous relish at every racy sentence uttered by his Sancho of the day, who is never a clown, but always a wit.

Then, after a few years, we find "Pickwick" bounding into life. Sam Vale becomes Sam Valer, and ultimately emerges from the inn-yard in his new suit of clothes, the poet-novelist's creation, a full Sam Weller, and wonders what he is meant for, "a footman or a groom, a gamekeeper or a seedsman." Perhaps the immortal Boz had not himself decided in his mind how he was going to shape him - had put him forward in his new suit to see how the public liked the new character beyond the footlights.

It would be the height of absurd folly to charge our much-loved entertainer with being a mere copyist, or for one moment to think of his Sam Weller as otherwise than an original character, as purely so as any creation in the works of our immortal Shakespeare, who clothed old plots with Nature's own dress and earned an immortality for himself. Boz, with his admirable humor, may have borrowed an idea, but certainly made no slavish use of it; for the prevailing Sam Valerism and 'the monkey that knew the world," was no way on a par with the Dickens comparison in describing the elder Mr. Weller and the touter, whom Mr.Weller junior describes as 'walking arter him like a tame monkey arter a horgin;" again Sam observes, "The next question is what the devil do you want with me, as the mamn said when he seed the ghost." Mr. Pickwick tells him he is a philosopher, and we all know him for a genial wit.

The success of ‘Pickwick’ soon became extraordinary. The binder prepared four hundred copies of the first number, and forty thousand of the fifteenth. The marked success began with the appearance of Sam Weller in the fifth number. Sam Weller is in fact the incarnation of the qualities to which the success was due. Educated like his creator in the streets of London, he is the ideal cockney. His exuberant animal spirits, humorous shrewdness, and kindliness under a mask of broad farce, made him the favourite of all cockneys in and out of London, and took the gravest readers by storm. All that Dickens had learnt in his rough initiation into life, with a power of observation unequalled in its way, was poured out with boundless vivacity and prodigality of invention. The book, beginning as farce, became admirable comedy, and has caused more hearty and harmless laughter than any book in the Language. If Dickens’s later works surpassed ‘Pickwick’ in some ways, ‘Pickwick’ shows, in their highest development, the qualities in which he most surpassed other writers.

-from "On the Origins of Sam Weller" 1883, most of it anyway, I jumped around a little


message 37: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5976 comments Mod
From "The Life Of Charles Dickens" by John Forster:

I do not, for reasons to be hereafter stated, think the Pickwick Papers comparable to the later books; but, apart from the new vein of humor it opened, its wonderful freshness and its unflagging animal spirits, it has two characters that will probably continue to attract to it an unfading popularity. Its pre-eminent achievement is of course Sam Weller,—one of those people that take their place among the supreme successes of fiction, as one that nobody ever saw but everybody recognizes, at once perfectly natural and intensely original. Who is there that has ever thought him tedious? Who is so familiar with him as not still to be finding something new in him? Who is so amazed by his inexhaustible resources, or so amused by his inextinguishable laughter, as to doubt of his being as ordinary and perfect a reality, nevertheless, as anything in the London streets? When indeed the relish has been dulled that makes such humor natural and appreciable, and not his native fun only, his ready and rich illustration, his imperturbable self-possession, but his devotion to his master, his chivalry and his gallantry, are no longer discovered, or believed no longer to exist, in the ranks of life to which he belongs, it will be worse for all of us than for the fame of his creator. Nor, when faith is lost in that possible combination of eccentricities and benevolences, shrewdness and simplicity, good sense and folly, all that suggests the ludicrous and nothing that suggests contempt for it, which form the delightful oddity of Pickwick, will the mistake committed be one merely of critical misjudgment. But of this there is small fear. Sam Weller and Mr. Pickwick are the Sancho and the Quixote of Londoners, and as little likely to pass away as the old city itself.


Peter | 3204 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Was Sam Weller based on a real person? You decide:


Sam Weller’s phrases and stories came out of nineteenth-century entertainment, and so in one sense, so did Dickens’s career. The phrases of Sam ..."


Kim

Very interesting and thanks for finding this for us. I certainly think that many of Dickens’s ideas, phrases, characters and situations spring into his imagination having been first experienced by Dickens life-long love of the theatre.


message 39: by Julie (new) - added it

Julie Kelleher | 1253 comments Kim wrote: "Was Sam Weller based on a real person? You decide:


Sam Weller’s phrases and stories came out of nineteenth-century entertainment, and so in one sense, so did Dickens’s career. The phrases of Sam ..."


Oooh, interesting!

The books keep saying cockneys loved Sam, i.e. "made him the favorite of all cockneys in and out of London." I don't know a lot about cockney history, but I do know a lot of reading material was out of the price range of working-class people at the time, at least if they were purchasing individually. Does anyone happen to know whether that was the case for Pickwick? I guess I am curious about whether this cockney character was actually popular among cockneys, or instead among middle class people who enjoyed reading about cockneys.

Then again, these books were popular enough that probably there would have been other ways to get access to Sam besides direct purchase.


Tristram Shandy | 4645 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "From "The Life Of Charles Dickens" by John Forster:

I do not, for reasons to be hereafter stated, think the Pickwick Papers comparable to the later books; but, apart from the new vein of humor it ..."


Kim,

Thanks a lot for the interesting input about Sam's possible background! It once more shows what a keen observer of real life Dickens was and how he managed to use the inspiration he got from the world around him to enliven his fiction. If I had to answer the question if Sam Weller was a real person or not, I'd say about him what I'd say with regard to many another Dickens character: He was - the moment that Dickens wrote him.


Tristram Shandy | 4645 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "Kim wrote: "Was Sam Weller based on a real person? You decide:


Sam Weller’s phrases and stories came out of nineteenth-century entertainment, and so in one sense, so did Dickens’s career. The phr..."


Probably, working class people could save money by clubbing together and then one of them reading the instalment aloud to the others. Dickens's writing is particularly effectful when being read aloud, into the bargain.


Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments So sorry I went A.W.O.L. My back and leg problems landed me in hospital - spinal surgery and rehab. were the outcome. My reading has taken a backseat and I hope to get back to the delightful Pickwick. I'm glad it's still storming ahead! Thanks to all you hard-working moderators for helping to keep the show alive!


Mary Lou | 2451 comments So glad you're back, Hilary! I'm glad you're on the mend, and hope you aren't having too much pain during your rehab.


message 44: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5976 comments Mod
You can't stop there Hilary, did it help? How are you doing?


Tristram Shandy | 4645 comments Mod
Hilary,

I hope you are doing fine and are getting better again! Maybe, small doses of Pickwick will set you right again - we are here to chat with whenever you feel like it. Best wishes!


Peter | 3204 comments Mod
Hilary

Well, top of the morning (Victoria, Canada time) to you. You have had a rough go and I hope each day will now bring relief. As Tristram suggests, a dose of Pickwick followed by a laugh, chuckle or gasp should help you on your way.

Keep your Irish spirits up and keep posting when you want. We are all eager to hear from you.

Peter


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