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The Pickwick Papers > PP, Chp. 47-49

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Tristram Shandy | 4856 comments Mod
I am one day early, but since I don't know whether I'll have time to post tomorrow, here goes:

Dear Curiosities,

Alas! our Pickwick Adventures are slowly drawing to a close as can not only be seen by my bookmark making its unfailing way through the pages of my book but also by what is happening in this week’s instalment, viz. that Mr. Pickwick is finally released from the Fleet and that he also manages to reconcile Mr. Ben Allen and Mr. Bob Sawyer to Arabella’s wedding. Apart from that, there is also another short story told by the one-eyed bagman whose acquaintance we have already made earlier in the novel.

Chapter 47 has us follow on the coat-tails of Job Trotter, who is making his way to Mr. Perker. It was here, by the way, that I noticed that Job is not actually a prisoner but, like Sam originally intended to do, is simply residing in Fleet Prison in order not to abandon his incarcerated friend. This surely tells us something about Mr. Trotter’s loyalty as a friend and gives us hope that Mr. Pickwick’s kindness may not be thrown away upon him and Jingle. Job first of all goes to Mr. Lowten and is then taken to the lawyer himself, whom he informs about Mrs. Bardell’s having been taken to debtor’s prison on behalf of Dodson and Fogg. The two legal men may be indignant at the thought of submitting a woman with her little son to a plight like this, but still they cannot help admiring their professional brethren for their astuteness:

”‘By Jove!’ said Perker, taking both hands out of his pockets, and striking the knuckles of his right against the palm of his left, emphatically, ‘those are the cleverest scamps I ever had anything to do with!’

‘The sharpest practitioners I ever knew, Sir,’ observed Lowten.

‘Sharp!’ echoed Perker. ‘There’s no knowing where to have them.’

‘Very true, Sir, there is not,’ replied Lowten; and then, both master and man pondered for a few seconds, with animated countenances, as if they were reflecting upon one of the most beautiful and ingenious discoveries that the intellect of man had ever made.”


This may be a moment to pause and think what kind of people Perker and Lowten are and in what light Dickens meant us to regard them. Any ideas?

Mr. Perker, of course, realizes that in view of latest developments, he now has a lever with which to go to work on his restive client, and the next morning he betakes himself to the prison in order to convince Mr. Pickwick to pay the damages and thereby spare Mrs. Bardell a prolonged sojourn in prison. Quite tellingly, he now presents Dodson and Fogg in a very black light and uses moral language, e.g. when he says:

”‘I say that nobody but you can rescue her from this den of wretchedness; and that you can only do that, by paying the costs of this suit—both of plaintive and defendant—into the hands of these Freeman Court sharks. […]’”


He has also obtained in advance a written disclaimer by Mrs. Bardell in which she states that proceedings against him were “’[…] fomented, and encouraged, and brought about, by these men, Dodson and Fogg; that she deeply regrets ever having been the instrument of annoyance or injury to you; and that she entreats me to intercede with you, and implore your pardon.’” To an honourable man like Mr. Pickwick, it is, of course, important – and this Mr. Perker would have known – that the written disclaimer existed before he would agree to pay the costs because otherwise the whole thing might have looked like a horse-trading adventure.

But still, for all the signs of benevolence and relenting that occur in Mr. Pickwick’s behaviour, he is not yet convinced that giving in is the right thing to do. The last straw to break the camel’s back, however, is added when Arabella Allen and Mr. Winkle arrive in the prison, and we, and Mr. Pickwick, now learn that Arabella is no longer called Allen but Winkle for the two young people have eloped and married. Here we have another romantic adventure, this time an elopement that was not based on the greed for filthy lucre but on true love and affection, but the problem still remains to break the news of the marriage both to Arabella’s brother and to Mr. Winkle’s father, who must not be left ignorant for a long time lest he decides to strike Mr. Winkle out of his will. Common opinion has it – and I am sure that most Curiosities will also agree – that no one is better suited but Mr. Pickwick to undertake these feats of diplomacy.

Eventually, Mr. Pickwick gives in to the remonstrances of his friends and agrees to have himself released from prison by paying Mrs. Bardell’s costs. Likewise, Mr. Sam Weller obtains his freedom by satisfying his most obdurate creditor. Mr. Pickwick then takes a last round through the prison, not without making sure that Mr. Perker would act on his behalf to settle Mr. Jingle’s difficulties, and not without having a little parcel delivered to Sam’s landlord, the unfortunate cobbler. That man, however, is still grieving about the loss of his only friend, the Chancery prisoner, giving us an example of sufferings that cannot be healed by money.

”As Mr. Pickwick uttered this adieu, the crowd raised a loud shout. Many among them were pressing forward to shake him by the hand again, when he drew his arm through Perker’s, and hurried from the prison, far more sad and melancholy, for the moment, than when he had first entered it. Alas! how many sad and unhappy beings had he left behind!”


As the reaction of the prisoners tells us, Mr. Pickwick must have used his means to help wherever he could and deemed that help was deserved. What, however, does it tell us about him that he is leaving the place of his sufferings “far more sad and melancholy […] than when he had first entered it”? Did the prison experience effect a change in Mr. Pickwick, making him less naïve but more mature? If so, in what ways may this alter his future behaviour?

Another question I found intriguing is whether Mr. Pickwick would have paid Mrs. Bardell’s costs eventually without Mr. Winkle’s applying for his intercedence, or whether he would have been too proud.

For our collectors of Wellerisms I have got an especially ghastly specimen, which made me wonder how sensibilities have changed. For the average Victorian, topics concerning or evoking sexuality were shocking and unprintable, but nevertheless the following gruesome sentence was fine and humourous:

”‘I only assisted natur, ma’am; as the doctor said to the boy’s mother, after he’d bled him to death.’”



Tristram Shandy | 4856 comments Mod
The next to chapters can be dealt with more quickly, because one is simply tying a lose end, whereas the other gives us another short story, only loosely connected with the main plot – if there is something like a main plot.

Chapter 48 opens with Ben Allen and Bob Sawyer sitting in the latter’s surgery and ruminating on their affairs, or, as the narrator aptly puts it:

”[…] discussing minced veal and future prospects […].”


Their main topic is, of course, Ben’s sister Arabella and her inclination to spurn Bob and everything Bobbian, and we have some very funny play on words here, such as:

”‘She’s a very charming and delightful creature,’ quoth Mr. Robert Sawyer, in reply; ‘and has only one fault that I know of, Ben. It happens, unfortunately, that that single blemish is a want of taste. She don’t like me.’

‘It’s my opinion that she don’t know what she does like,’ said Mr. Ben Allen contemptuously.

‘Perhaps not,’ remarked Mr. Bob Sawyer. ‘But it’s my opinion that she does know what she doesn’t like, and that’s of more importance.’”


Or:

”‘I’d put a bullet in him, if I found him out,’ said Mr. Sawyer, stopping in the course of a long draught of beer, and looking malignantly out of the porter pot. ‘If that didn’t do his business, I’d extract it afterwards, and kill him that way.’”


I don’t know about you, but I surely find those two young doctors endearing in their own crazy way. It is also worth noticing that Mr. Sawyer has exact knowledge on the money Arabella is going to receive and on the conditions under which she is going to receive it so that we may well ask ourselves if Bob is really and truly in love with Arabella or if his love is not a matter of pounds, shillings and pence as well as a result of his friendship with Ben, which has made him simply expect that one day he will marry Arabella – exactly the same way that Edwin Drood and Rosa Budd were intended for each other.

Their talk is interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Allen’s aunt and her crusty coachman Mr. Martin. At first, Bob thinks that the aunt has come to see him in his quality as a doctor but he is soon undeceived when she tells them that Arabella, who has left her on pretext of visiting another aunt of hers, has never gone there and has disappeared. This news spreads confusion, and there is even more confusion at first when Mr. Pickwick and Sam make their appearance in order to enlighten the company with regard to what has happened to Arabella. I am merely stating the main events here, leaving out the slapstick scenes, which are many in this chapter.

At first, everyone is dumbstruck, and both Ben and Bob take the news in anything but good grace, the brother especially vowing that he will from now on live to hate his sister for what she has done. By and by, however, partly due to Mr. Pickwick’s way of presenting things, to a greater part due to a black bottle of spirits that Bob and Ben refresh their own spirits with, the two young men see matters in a different light. Mr. Sawyer is the first to reconcile himself with Arabella’s decision, and soon after, Mr. Allen himself buries the hatchet. It is particularly the aunt, however, who is impressed with Mr. Pickwick’s suavity and, to tell the truth, with anything else about Mr. Pickwick. Our hero, albeit, still bearing in light the recent events connected with Mrs. Bardell and their bleak and costly consequences, is slightly disquieted by the good lady’s interest and takes it as a reason for leaving sooner than he might have left without her being around.

This chapter gave me the feeling that Dickens is preparing to pack up his things and draw the curtain over Mr. Pickwick’s adventures, and in a way the episode fell flat with me because I did not really find it very convincing that Bob and Ben would be brought around so soon and with so little resistance. Do you have the same problem like me, or does it make sense to you? Are we simply to assume that, after all, those two young men are wont to take the easiest way out of a situation instead of fighting? Saying that, there is probably little they could have done, anyway. Still, the end came too soon for me.

Two fun details: Did you notice the old lady’s clichéd way of speaking when she learned about her niece’s marriage? It’s like so many phrases rolled into one. – Then there was a truly funny Wellerism: “’‘Sorry to do anythin’ as may cause an interruption to such wery pleasant proceedin’s, as the king said wen he dissolved the parliament […]’”.


Tristram Shandy | 4856 comments Mod
This week’s final chapter treats us to another short story told by the one-eyed bagman who already told the story of Tom Smart and whom Mr. Pickwick and Sam meet in the inn where they are staying. I am going to summarize it in a nutshell and then add two or three remarks:

THE STORY tells us how the bagman’s uncle was in Edinburgh, partaking of a friend’s hospitality and drinks and then went to his hotel at night. On his way, he was fascinated by some old, derelict coaches but while taking a good look at them and musing on the caducity of human endeavour and life, he fell asleep. Suddenly, he found himself roused and saw all the coaches in mint condition again and himself urged to enter one of them as a passenger. To his wonder, he had a very beautiful young lady and two sinister-looking men as his fellow-travellers, soon realizing that the two men were evidently in the course of abducting the young lady against her will. In a wayside inn, his suspicions were confirmed by the young lady herself, and in a terrible fight, the young lady and he managed to kill the two men by running their own swords through them. The bagman’s uncle vowed his love to the young woman, but they had no time for romantic discourse because the kidnappers’ friends had scented them. During their flight in the coach the young lady extracted the promise from her saviour that he would never marry another woman – and this promise he kept, even after waking up in the coachyard again with everything being back the way he found it.

QUESTIONS AND REMARKS
It is probably not always so easy to see a connection between the short stories told by some characters in Pickwick Papers and the “real world” events but this time the story seems to bear some similarity with the events concerning Mr. Winkle and the two doctors. Ben Allen could have aided and abetted Bob Sawyer in making Arabella marrying him, and he had already taken the first step by secluding her with her aunt; apart from that, in his conversation with Bob he showed his will to have it out with his sister and make her marry his friend within twenty-four hours. Yet, in the world of ghost stories things are more dramatic and wondrous than in “real life”, even though the Pickwickians experience quite a lot of dramatic situations themselves which most of us, luckily, I suppose, never do. So, all in all, there is no gory conclusion to the Arabella story, and Bob and Ben are finally reconciled. Maybe Dickens put this ghost story into the chapter following the successful mission of Mr. Pickwick to provide some drama for those readers who were expecting a more serious clash between the two doctors and our Pickwickians?

Another remark I’d like to make concerns the overall tone of the story, which is extremely playful and exuberant, sometimes even daring – as can be seen from the introduction already:

”‘My uncle, gentlemen,’ said the bagman, ‘was one of the merriest, pleasantest, cleverest fellows, that ever lived. I wish you had known him, gentlemen. On second thoughts, gentlemen, I don’t wish you had known him, for if you had, you would have been all, by this time, in the ordinary course of nature, if not dead, at all events so near it, as to have taken to stopping at home and giving up company, which would have deprived me of the inestimable pleasure of addressing you at this moment. Gentlemen, I wish your fathers and mothers had known my uncle. They would have been amazingly fond of him, especially your respectable mothers; I know they would. […]’”


So maybe, Dickens wanted to keep up the more light-hearted mood, which was pushed into the background during the bitterer and more cynical prison chapers, and even did so in a ghost story which has as its climax the transfixing of two villains. Even this, however, is presented in a rather tongue-in-cheek way:

”My uncle always said, afterwards, that this was one of the surest means he knew of, for disposing of an enemy; but it was liable to one objection on the ground of expense, inasmuch as it involved the loss of a sword for every man disabled.”


As to ghost stories and tales of the mysterious, have we got any really serious specimen of this in Pickwick Papers? If we take all the short stories we get in this novel, would it be saying too much when we state that the stories start on a more serious note, contrasting with a very light-hearted “real world”, and then get more and more zany as the “real world” events take on a bitterer hue?

There’s a last interesting detail I should like to point out, namely that the one-eyed narrator tells us how his uncle said that before falling asleep he began to ponder on the caducity of human life, thus working himself into a more and more morbid mind. Bearing this in mind, one might not find it too difficult to claim that the ensuing story is merely a dream of the uncle’s narrator, caused by his reflection while drifting away into a slumber. The narrator, though, cleverly and funnily, states:

”Gentlemen, my uncle used to say that he thought all this at the time, but I rather suspect he learned it out of some book afterwards, for he distinctly stated that he fell into a kind of doze, as he sat on the old axle–tree looking at the decayed mail coaches, and that he was suddenly awakened by some deep church bell striking two. Now, my uncle was never a fast thinker, and if he had thought all these things, I am quite certain it would have taken him till full half–past two o’clock at the very least. I am, therefore, decidedly of opinion, gentlemen, that my uncle fell into a kind of doze, without having thought about anything at all.”


Making this remark, he not only makes fun of his uncle but he also forestalls the conclusion a more sceptical listener would come to, viz. that his uncle was just dreaming. In other words, the narrator here gives indirect evidence for the veracity of his uncle’s mysterious adventure.

Still, I somehow had the impression that the story also served as a filler to complete this week’s instalment.


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Kim | 6425 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "I am one day early, but since I don't know whether I'll have time to post tomorrow, here goes:

Dear Curiosities,

Alas! our Pickwick Adventures are slowly drawing to a close as can not only be see..."


Did you have time then or not?


Peter | 3455 comments Mod
Chapter 47 is a very powerful chapter and Tristram has drawn our attention to how Pickwick has changed during his time in the Fleet. I think back to the lines in “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” that state “A sadder and a wiser man He woke the morrow morn.” This is Pickwick. He entered jail to maintain his principles. During his incarceration, however, he became isolated and he experienced first hand both the people and the events that had before only been the characters in tales told as he and the other Pickwickians rambled about the countryside. He learned that there is a vast difference between stories told for amusement, entertainment or even as cautionary warnings, and the reality of a dehumanizing environment where death is too often encountered.

The elopement of Arabella Allen and Mr Winkle brings the realization to Pickwick that life outside the Fleet goes on, and that his special skills as both a friend and negotiator may well be needed. From Pickwick’s decision to help both Jingle and Bardell we see that his benevolence and kindness still exist. I believe, however, that the man who leaves the Fleet is a sadder man, one who has had his spirit tempered with time and the reality of human turmoil.

Mr Pickwick and all the Pickwickians will laugh again, and have adventures together again, but I do not believe they will ever be as young at heart again as they once were.


Peter | 3455 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "The next to chapters can be dealt with more quickly, because one is simply tying a lose end, whereas the other gives us another short story, only loosely connected with the main plot – if there is ..."

Yes. Bob and Ben do seem to resolve their disapproval of Arabella’s action rather quickly and there seems to be an increasing urgency to wrap some events up. Humour still exists and still works. I suspect, however, that Dickens was more interested in the beginning of Oliver Twist at this point of The Pickwick Papers than he was of elongating the adventures of the Pickwick Club.

Oliver Twist was to be a Dickens novel whereas PP was a cross between the publisher’s intent and Dickens’s own vision.


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Peter | 3455 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "This week’s final chapter treats us to another short story told by the one-eyed bagman who already told the story of Tom Smart and whom Mr. Pickwick and Sam meet in the inn where they are staying. ..."

There does seem to be a certain arc to the collected tales found within the novel. Often Dickens will precede or follow a tale of woe, sorrow or horror with one in a light vein or style. This format gives us comic relief and serves as a counterpoint to a tale. As the novel progresses I’m not sure the tales become significantly different in style, format, intent or success.

As to “filler” in this chapter I think we have clear evidence that Dickens’s focus was forward thinking to OT rather than the final chapters being overly concerned with a dramatically satisfying and acceptable ending. By this time the PP was a phenomenon. The ending of PP and the beginning of OT were their own transitions. The public was enamoured with Dickens.


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Julie Kelleher | 1342 comments Peter wrote: "Chapter 47 is a very powerful chapter and Tristram has drawn our attention to how Pickwick has changed during his time in the Fleet. I think back to the lines in “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” that ..."

I agree--it's very Ancient Mariner. And I like Sam's concluding take from the carriage, leaving prison after 3 months:

'Sir," called out Mr Weller to his master.

'Well, Sam,' replied Mr Pickwick, thrusting his head out of the window.

'I wish them horses had been three months and better in the Fleet, sir.'

'Why, Sam?' inquired Mr Pickwick.

'Wy, sir,' exclaimed Mr Weller, rubbing his hands, 'how they would go if they had been!'



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Julie Kelleher | 1342 comments Tristram wrote: "The next to chapters can be dealt with more quickly, because one is simply tying a lose end, whereas the other gives us another short story, only loosely connected with the main plot – if there is ..."

Bob and Ben were in top form in this chapter! Though I do think Arabella made the right call.

Tristram, as it happens, the section you pointed to as an example of funny word play had made me laugh out loud when I was reading it, so I read it to my husband who wanted to know what was so funny. I don't know whether I read it badly, but he was a little confounded, and I can't explain for myself why it made me laugh. Is it just the understatement of what she don't and do like, when clearly there is nothing in either Bob or Arabella that ought to make it so she would "like" him enough for marriage? I don't want to kill the humor by over-analyzing it, but I do find I'm puzzled.

The part about them sharing the substandard apple that she rejected when they were all schoolchildren also made me laugh.

I don't know if we're supposed to like Perker or not, but his speech to Pickwick on why he should pay the damages is a hard-hitting persuasive masterpiece. Well done, Perker! I don't see how Pickwick could have held out, even if Winkle hadn't shown up.


~ Cheryl ~ | 38 comments Peter wrote: "Chapter 47 is a very powerful chapter and Tristram has drawn our attention to how Pickwick has changed during his time in the Fleet. I think back to the lines..."

Yes! Thank you Peter, the entirety of your message (#5) .... wonderful insights!!

Julie--
Thank you for pointing out Sam's parting remarks about the horses, as they were leaving the Fleet. I somehow missed that when I read these chapter.
And I agree with you about Perker's speech to Pickwick on why Pickwick ought to pay the damages. I actually marked it in my copy. A powerful and thought-provoking speech.


Peter | 3455 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "Peter wrote: "Chapter 47 is a very powerful chapter and Tristram has drawn our attention to how Pickwick has changed during his time in the Fleet. I think back to the lines in “Rime of the Ancient ..."

Hi Julie

Yes. Those are great lines from Sam. The more I think about him, the more I am coming to understand why he was such a popular character when PP was published. I confess to not really understanding why Sam was so popular on my earlier readings.


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Mr. Winkle Returns under extraordinary Circumstances

Chapter 47

Phiz - 1837

Commentary:

The romantic Mr. Winkle astonishes Mr. Pickwick, but recently released from the Fleet Prison, with the announcement that he has married Miss Arabella Allen, sister of the London medical student and Bristol pharmacist, Bob Allen. The newlyweds want Pickwick to reconcile Benjamin Allen and Winkle's father. Phiz disposes the six figures across the space effectively, giving each a different physical pose suggestive of the differing attitudes of the characters involved in the reconciliation of Winkle and Pickwick. The illustrator repeats the figure of the white-bedecked bride in that of the housemaid (right), whom Sam Weller holds by the waist to signify their engagement. The remaining figure (left) is Pickwick's attorney, Perker, who has just persuaded his client to release Mrs. Bardell from the Fleet.

Text illustrated:

As Sam Weller spoke, he threw the door open, and there rushed tumultuously into the room, Mr. Nathaniel Winkle: leading after him by the hand, the identical young lady who at Dingley Dell had worn the boots with the fur round the tops, and who, now a very pleasing compound of blushes and confusion and lilac silk and a smart bonnet and a rich lace veil, looked prettier than ever.

"Miss Arabella Allen!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, rising from his chair.

"No," replied Mr. Winkle, dropping on his knees."Mrs. Winkle. Pardon, my dear friend, pardon?"

Mr. Pickwick could scarcely believe the evidence of his senses, and perhaps would not have done so, but for the corroborative testimony afforded by the smiling countenance of Perker, and the bodily presence, in the background, of Sam and the pretty housemaid; who appeared to contemplate the proceedings with the liveliest satisfaction.


The development of this marriage theme confirms that the picaresque novel has now shifted into the genre of romantic comedy.


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Mr. Pickwick could scarcely believe the evidence of his own senses

Chapter 47

Phiz - 1874 Household Edition


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Mr. Pickwick Leaving the Fleet

Chapter 47

Sir John Gilbert

Text Illustrated:

At three o’clock that afternoon, Mr. Pickwick took a last look at his little room, and made his way, as well as he could, through the throng of debtors who pressed eagerly forward to shake him by the hand, until he reached the lodge steps. He turned here, to look about him, and his eye lightened as he did so. In all the crowd of wan, emaciated faces, he saw not one which was not happier for his sympathy and charity.

‘Perker,’ said Mr. Pickwick, beckoning one young man towards him, ‘this is Mr. Jingle, whom I spoke to you about.’

‘Very good, my dear Sir,’ replied Perker, looking hard at Jingle. ‘You will see me again, young man, to-morrow. I hope you may live to remember and feel deeply, what I shall have to communicate, Sir.’

Jingle bowed respectfully, trembled very much as he took Mr. Pickwick’s proffered hand, and withdrew.

‘Job you know, I think?’ said Mr. Pickwick, presenting that gentleman.

‘I know the rascal,’ replied Perker good-humouredly. ‘See after your friend, and be in the way to-morrow at one. Do you hear? Now, is there anything more?’

‘Nothing,’ rejoined Mr. Pickwick. ‘You have delivered the little parcel I gave you for your old landlord, Sam?’

‘I have, Sir,’ replied Sam. ‘He bust out a-cryin’, Sir, and said you wos wery gen’rous and thoughtful, and he only wished you could have him innockilated for a gallopin’ consumption, for his old friend as had lived here so long wos dead, and he’d noweres to look for another.’

Poor fellow, poor fellow!’ said Mr. Pickwick. ‘God bless you, my friends!’

As Mr. Pickwick uttered this adieu, the crowd raised a loud shout. Many among them were pressing forward to shake him by the hand again, when he drew his arm through Perker’s, and hurried from the prison, far more sad and melancholy, for the moment, than when he had first entered it. Alas! how many sad and unhappy beings had he left behind!

A happy evening was that for at least one party in the George and Vulture; and light and cheerful were two of the hearts that emerged from its hospitable door next morning. The owners thereof were Mr. Pickwick and Sam Weller, the former of whom was speedily deposited inside a comfortable post-coach, with a little dickey behind, in which the latter mounted with great agility.

‘Sir,’ called out Mr. Weller to his master.

‘Well, Sam,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, thrusting his head out of the window.

‘I wish them horses had been three months and better in the Fleet, Sir.’

‘Why, Sam?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.

‘Wy, Sir,’ exclaimed Mr. Weller, rubbing his hands, ‘how they would go if they had been!’



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The arrival of two most unexpected visitors

Chapter 48

Thomas Nast

1874 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

Mr. Bob Sawyer stopped to hear no more; but darting from the surgery into the outer shop, cried in a stentorian voice, ‘Ben, my boy, she’s bolted!’

Mr. Ben Allen, who had been slumbering behind the counter, with his head half a foot or so below his knees, no sooner heard this appalling communication, than he made a precipitate rush at Mr. Martin, and, twisting his hand in the neck-cloth of that taciturn servitor, expressed an obliging intention of choking him where he stood. This intention, with a promptitude often the effect of desperation, he at once commenced carrying into execution, with much vigour and surgical skill.

Mr. Martin, who was a man of few words and possessed but little power of eloquence or persuasion, submitted to this operation with a very calm and agreeable expression of countenance, for some seconds; finding, however, that it threatened speedily to lead to a result which would place it beyond his power to claim any wages, board or otherwise, in all time to come, he muttered an inarticulate remonstrance and felled Mr. Benjamin Allen to the ground. As that gentleman had his hands entangled in his cravat, he had no alternative but to follow him to the floor. There they both lay struggling, when the shop door opened, and the party was increased by the arrival of two most unexpected visitors, to wit, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Samuel Weller.

The impression at once produced on Mr. Weller’s mind by what he saw, was, that Mr. Martin was hired by the establishment of Sawyer, late Nockemorf, to take strong medicine, or to go into fits and be experimentalised upon, or to swallow poison now and then with the view of testing the efficacy of some new antidotes, or to do something or other to promote the great science of medicine, and gratify the ardent spirit of inquiry burning in the bosoms of its two young professors. So, without presuming to interfere, Sam stood perfectly still, and looked on, as if he were mightily interested in the result of the then pending experiment. Not so, Mr. Pickwick. He at once threw himself on the astonished combatants, with his accustomed energy, and loudly called upon the bystanders to interpose.

This roused Mr. Bob Sawyer, who had been hitherto quite paralysed by the frenzy of his companion. With that gentleman’s assistance, Mr. Pickwick raised Ben Allen to his feet. Mr. Martin finding himself alone on the floor, got up, and looked about him.



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Chapter 48

Cecil Charles Aldin

Text Illustrated:

Mr. Martin, who was a man of few words and possessed but little power of eloquence or persuasion, submitted to this operation with a very calm and agreeable expression of countenance, for some seconds; finding, however, that it threatened speedily to lead to a result which would place it beyond his power to claim any wages, board or otherwise, in all time to come, he muttered an inarticulate remonstrance and felled Mr. Benjamin Allen to the ground. As that gentleman had his hands entangled in his cravat, he had no alternative but to follow him to the floor. There they both lay struggling, when the shop door opened, and the party was increased by the arrival of two most unexpected visitors, to wit, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Samuel Weller. There they both lay struggling, when the shop door opened, and the party was increased by the arrival of two most unexpected visitors, to wit, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Samuel Weller.


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The Ghostly Passengers in the Ghost of a Mail

Chapter 49

Phiz - 1837

Commentary:

Tricorn hats, rapiers, big cuffs, powdered wigs, and a damsel in distress entering a coach: these are the properties of historical romance, a genre at which Dickens and Phiz are poking fun in the September 1837 instalment of The Pickwick Papers. In the illustration accompanying the short story "The Tale of The Bagman's Uncle," Phiz realizes a scene from another of the novel's whimsical inset tales of the supernatural (the most celebrated being the Christmas ghost story "The Goblins who Stole a Sexton," narrated by Wardle at Dingley Dell) as the protagonist, Jack Martin ("The Bagman's Uncle") is carried back to eighteenth-century Edinburgh. Released from the Fleet Prison and now back at the Bush Inn, Bristol, Mr. Pickwick and Sam enter the travellers' room and encounter the one-eyed bagman, who offers to entertain the host (none other than Moses Pickwick himself) and his guests with a story his uncle had told him. The narrator is Tom Smart, whom Pickwick and the reader met much earlier, when he told "The Bagman's Story" in chapter 14. However, this story's protagonist is his uncle, Jack Martin, who, like the sexton Gabriel Grub, has had too much to drink when the main part of the action occurs. After a well-lubricated party in the old town of Edinburgh, he climbs into a compound containing derelict coaches and falls asleep in one, whereupon he finds himself listed as a passenger on an eighteenth-century mail coach about to depart for London. After the moment realised in the illustration, the gallant Jack heroically rescues the young lady from the machinations of the villainous son of the Marquess of Filletovile — the young aristocrat in the powdered wig who despite his fashionable exterior and delicate gesture grips her wrist cruelly in Phiz's illustration.

Text illustrated:

"'This,' said the guard, pointing to an old-fashioned Edinburgh and London mail, which had the steps down and the door open. 'Stop! Here are the other passengers. Let them get in first.'

"As the guard spoke, there all at once appeared, right in front of my uncle, a young gentleman in a powdered wig, and a sky-blue coat trimmed with silver, made very full and broad in the skirts, which were lined with buckram. Tiggin and Welps were in the printed calico and waistcoat piece line, gentlemen, so my uncle knew all the materials at once. He wore knee breeches, and a kind of leggings rolled up over his silk stockings, and shoes with buckles; he had ruffles at his wrists, a three-cornered hat on his head, and a long taper sword by his side. The flaps of his waist- coat came half-way down his thighs, and the ends of his cravat reached to his waist. He stalked gravely to the coach door, pulled off his hat, and held it above his head at arm's length, cocking his little finger in the air at the same time, as some affected people do, when they take a cup of tea. Then he drew his feet together, and made a low, grave bow, and then put out his left hand. My uncle was just going to step forward, and shake it heartily, when he perceived that these attentions were directed, not towards him, but to a young lady who just then appeared at the foot of the steps, attired in an old-fashioned green velvet dress with a long waist and stomacher. She had no bonnet on her head, gentlemen, which was muffled in a black silk hood, but she looked round for an instant as she prepared to get into the coach, and such a beautiful face as she disclosed, my uncle had never seen — not even in a picture. She got into the coach, holding up her dress with one hand; and as my uncle always said with a round oath, when he told the story, he wouldn't have believed it possible that legs and feet could have been brought to such a state of perfection unless he had seen them with his own eyes.


Through his deliberate exaggeration of the weaponry Phiz implies that the reader should take this second "tall tale" by Tom Smart with a grain of salt. That Dickens has set the majority of the inset tale in Edinburgh, that the romantic situation is an eighteenth-century "costume piece," and that Dickens's first-person narrator pokes fun at Scottish names ("a Baillie Mac something and four syllables after it, who lived in the old town of Edinburgh" in the Canongate) suggests that the story is a lampoon of the romances of Sir Walter Scott, the best-selling fiction writer of the Romantic era whose artistic success (but not his penurious death) young Charles Dickens hoped to emulate. Phiz's Jack Martin (right) scratches his forehead in disbelief; the henchman's gigantic blade (which in the text he is "wearing" — presumably carrying the weapon in a scabbard, but which the illustrator has thought fit to emphasize as an obvious signifier of danger to the protagonist by having the burly henchman carry it out of its scabbard) serves to separate the red-nosed dreamer from his dream-vision.

A curious connection to the book's other dream-vision, that of Gabriel Grub in "The Goblin and the Sexton" in the January 1837 number, is the lantern standing centre in the foreground, suggesting a night-time setting for each illustration (in the September 1837 instalment, the blunderbuss-wielding guard is carrying such a lantern). That this is a dream Phiz suggests by rendering the six secondary characters — on the top of the coach, on another carriage (right rear), and including the trumpeter — in unshaded outlines, as if they are phantoms or delusions.

Details:



The villainous young aristocrat


The guard with the oversized blunderbuss



The aristocrat's henchman with oversized sword


The roof passengers and driver



The bewildered Jack Martin


The young lady in distress


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These attentions were directed, not towards him, but to a young lady, who just then appeared at the foot of the steps

Chapter 49

Phiz - 1874 Household Edition

Commentary:

Patten notes that the "theory" that the tales are mere padding originated with Walter Dexter and J. W. T. Ley in 1936; "it has been accepted, with slight modifications, by Edgar Johnson, John Butt and Kathleen Tillotson, and the editors of the Pilgrim Edition of Dickens' letters". Patten cites evidence that two of the nine short stories ("Prince Bladud" and the second bagman's) were not previously composed, but written expressly for the serial installments in which they appeared. Further, "Dickens emphasizes the tales to a degree inconsistent with their being inserted merely as stopgap measures" and "there are in the novel indications that the interpolation of these tales was part of an artistic design" .

Thomas defends the stories as "dickens' concentrated experimentation with the link between short stories and the realm of the imagination," stipulating that eight of the nine reveal that Dickens was "deliberately working with the subject of some kind of imaginative deviation from everyday thinking" . She identifies such "deviations" as including the uncanny, "abnormally intense emotions", "financial, physical, and marital ruin", lunacy, psychopathic rage, a relentless desire for vengeance, "the supernatural animation of lifeless objects", the supernatural, the preternatural, and the whimsical. In short, she defends the presence of the nine stories as exhibitions of Dickens's interest in examining abnormal mental states and his long-held belief in the power of what he termed "fancy, analogous to the remote-from-actuality quality that he believed flourished so freely in the fairy tales and tales of the uncanny familiar to him as a child".

The original serial illustration entitled "The Ghostly Passengers in the Ghost of a Mail," with its archaic costume and caricature of the villain, the hero, and the distressed lady of romance, involved visually burlesquing the fiction of Sir Walter Scott. In redrafting the image for translation into woodcut, Phiz has rearranged the figures so that a more realistic and less alcoholic Jack Martin, through whose eyes the scene is described, appears to the left rather than the right. The lantern and package at the bottom left of the 1873 woodcut are centre in the 1837 engraving, and the heads of the muffled figures atop the coach are actually cut off as Phiz has reconfigured a vertically oriented plate (12.5 cm high by 10.5 cm wide) to a horizontal woodcut measuring 11 cm high by 13.7 cm wide. The redrafted version does not merely move objects around, however; rather, it models all five principal figures much more realistically so that, whereas only the lady in dress is uncaricatured in the 1837 engraving, in the 1873 woodcut even the villainous henchman in top boots (centre) is not distorted in either face or form (like his hideous 1837 counterpart), and his sword is of a much more believable scale. However, Phiz shows less of the Edinburgh-London mail coach, and places the guard in an odd position (right), whereas in the earlier plate he is loading his blunderbuss (left). In order to bring the figures forward, Phiz has eliminated the open door of the carriage (despite the text's specifying it), but he has retained the eighteenth-century costumes: "large, broad-skirted, laced coats with great cuffs and no collars; and . . . great formal wigs with a tie behind". Thus, in balance the overall effect of the redrafting is not unpleasing as the focal character is more natural, and therefore more normative than the Jack Martin of the September 1837 engraving. Since the illustration occurs some ten pages later than the passage illustrated, Phiz has had to assume that the reader of the Household Edition would not simply be able to compare the image with the text on the facing page, but rather would have to thumb through the book to review the text realised.

Text illustrated:

"'This," said the guard, pointing to an old-fashioned Edinburgh and London mail, which had the steps down and the door open. 'Stop! Here are the other passengers. Let them get in first.'

"As the guard spoke, there all at once appeared, right in front of my uncle, a young gentleman in a powdered wig, and a sky-blue coat trimmed with silver, made very full and broad in the skirts, which were lined with buckram. Tiggin and Welps were in the printed calico and waistcoat piece line, gentlemen, so my uncle knew all the materials at once. He wore knee breeches, and a kind of leggings rolled up over his silk stockings, and shoes with buckles; he had ruffles at his wrists, a three-cornered hat on his head, and a long taper sword by his side. The flaps of his waist- coat came half-way down his thighs, and the ends of his cravat reached to his waist. He stalked gravely to the coach door, pulled off his hat, and held it above his head at arm's length, cocking his little finger in the air at the same time, as some affected people do, when they take a cup of tea. Then he drew his feet together, and made a low, grave bow, and then put out his left hand. My uncle was just going to step forward, and shake it heartily, when he perceived that these attentions were directed, not towards him, but to a young lady who just then appeared at the foot of the steps, attired in an old-fashioned green velvet dress with a long waist and stomacher. She had no bonnet on her head, gentlemen, which was muffled in a black silk hood, but she looked round for an instant as she prepared to get into the coach, and such a beautiful face as she disclosed, my uncle had never seen — not even in a picture. She got into the coach, holding up her dress with one hand; and as my uncle always said with a round oath, when he told the story, he wouldn't have believed it possible that legs and feet could have been brought to such a state of perfection unless he had seen them with his own eyes.

"But, in this one glimpse of the beautiful face, my uncle saw that young lady had cast an imploring look upon him, and that she appeared terrified and distressed.



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Story of the Bagman's Uncle

Chapter 49

T. Onwhyn and Sam Weller

The Pickwick Illustrations

Text Illustrated:

“You don’t know this is a private room, I suppose, fellow?” said the gentleman in sky-blue.

‘“No, I do not, fellow,” rejoined my uncle. “Only, if this is a private room specially ordered for the occasion, I should think the public room must be a very comfortable one;” with this, my uncle sat himself down in a high-backed chair, and took such an accurate measure of the gentleman, with his eyes, that Tiggin and Welps could have supplied him with printed calico for a suit, and not an inch too much or too little, from that estimate alone.

‘“Quit this room,” said both men together, grasping their swords.

‘“Eh?” said my uncle, not at all appearing to comprehend their meaning.

‘“Quit the room, or you are a dead man,” said the ill-looking fellow with the large sword, drawing it at the same time and flourishing it in the air.

‘“Down with him!” cried the gentleman in sky-blue, drawing his sword also, and falling back two or three yards. “Down with him!” The lady gave a loud scream.

‘Now, my uncle was always remarkable for great boldness, and great presence of mind. All the time that he had appeared so indifferent to what was going on, he had been looking slily about for some missile or weapon of defence, and at the very instant when the swords were drawn, he espied, standing in the chimney-corner, an old basket-hilted rapier in a rusty scabbard. At one bound, my uncle caught it in his hand, drew it, flourished it gallantly above his head, called aloud to the lady to keep out of the way, hurled the chair at the man in sky-blue, and the scabbard at the man in plum-colour, and taking advantage of the confusion, fell upon them both, pell-mell.

‘Gentlemen, there is an old story—none the worse for being true—regarding a fine young Irish gentleman, who being asked if he could play the fiddle, replied he had no doubt he could, but he couldn’t exactly say, for certain, because he had never tried. This is not inapplicable to my uncle and his fencing. He had never had a sword in his hand before, except once when he played Richard the Third at a private theatre, upon which occasion it was arranged with Richmond that he was to be run through, from behind, without showing fight at all. But here he was, cutting and slashing with two experienced swordsman, thrusting, and guarding, and poking, and slicing, and acquitting himself in the most manful and dexterous manner possible, although up to that time he had never been aware that he had the least notion of the science. It only shows how true the old saying is, that a man never knows what he can do till he tries, gentlemen.

‘The noise of the combat was terrific; each of the three combatants swearing like troopers, and their swords clashing with as much noise as if all the knives and steels in Newport market were rattling together, at the same time. When it was at its very height, the lady (to encourage my uncle most probably) withdrew her hood entirely from her face, and disclosed a countenance of such dazzling beauty, that he would have fought against fifty men, to win one smile from it and die. He had done wonders before, but now he began to powder away like a raving mad giant.



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The Bagman's Story

Chapter 49

Sir John Gilbdert


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This next artist, Joseph Grego, must have loved "The Bagman's Story", you'll see why in a few minutes.



The story of the Bagman's uncle

Chapter 48

Joseph Grego

Text Illustrated:

The individual to whom this observation referred, was sitting at the upper end of the room when Mr. Pickwick entered, and was smoking a large Dutch pipe, with his eye intently fixed on the round face of the landlord; a jolly-looking old personage, to whom he had recently been relating some tale of wonder, as was testified by sundry disjointed exclamations of, ‘Well, I wouldn’t have believed it! The strangest thing I ever heard! Couldn’t have supposed it possible!’ and other expressions of astonishment which burst spontaneously from his lips, as he returned the fixed gaze of the one-eyed man.

‘Servant, sir,’ said the one-eyed man to Mr. Pickwick. ‘Fine night, sir.’

‘Very much so indeed,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, as the waiter placed a small decanter of brandy, and some hot water before him.

While Mr. Pickwick was mixing his brandy-and-water, the one-eyed man looked round at him earnestly, from time to time, and at length said—

‘I think I’ve seen you before.’

‘I don’t recollect you,’ rejoined Mr. Pickwick.

‘I dare say not,’ said the one-eyed man. ‘You didn’t know me, but I knew two friends of yours that were stopping at the Peacock at Eatanswill, at the time of the election.’

‘Oh, indeed!’ exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

‘Yes,’ rejoined the one-eyed man. ‘I mentioned a little circumstance to them about a friend of mine of the name of Tom Smart. Perhaps you’ve heard them speak of it.’

‘Often,’ rejoined Mr. Pickwick, smiling. ‘He was your uncle, I think?’

‘No, no; only a friend of my uncle’s,’ replied the one-eyed man.

‘He was a wonderful man, that uncle of yours, though,’ remarked the landlord shaking his head.

‘Well, I think he was; I think I may say he was,’ answered the one-eyed man. ‘I could tell you a story about that same uncle, gentlemen, that would rather surprise you.’

‘Could you?’ said Mr. Pickwick. ‘Let us hear it, by all means.’

The one-eyed bagman ladled out a glass of negus from the bowl, and drank it; smoked a long whiff out of the Dutch pipe; and then, calling to Sam Weller who was lingering near the door, that he needn’t go away unless he wanted to, because the story was no secret, fixed his eye upon the landlord’s, and proceeded, in the words of the next chapter.



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The Story of the Bagman's Uncle

Chapter 49

Joseph Grego

Text Illustrated:

‘“Pink him behind!” cried the ill-looking gentleman to his companion, as he struggled to regain his sword.

‘“He had better not,” cried my uncle, displaying the heel of one of his shoes, in a threatening manner. “I’ll kick his brains out, if he has any—, or fracture his skull if he hasn’t.” Exerting all his strength, at this moment, my uncle wrenched the ill-looking man’s sword from his grasp, and flung it clean out of the coach window, upon which the younger gentleman vociferated, “Death and lightning!” again, and laid his hand upon the hilt of his sword, in a very fierce manner, but didn’t draw it. Perhaps, gentlemen, as my uncle used to say with a smile, perhaps he was afraid of alarming the lady.

‘“Now, gentlemen,” said my uncle, taking his seat deliberately, “I don’t want to have any death, with or without lightning, in a lady’s presence, and we have had quite blood and thundering enough for one journey; so, if you please, we’ll sit in our places like quiet insides. Here, guard, pick up that gentleman’s carving-knife.”

‘As quickly as my uncle said the words, the guard appeared at the coach window, with the gentleman’s sword in his hand. He held up his lantern, and looked earnestly in my uncle’s face, as he handed it in, when, by its light, my uncle saw, to his great surprise, that an immense crowd of mail-coach guards swarmed round the window, every one of whom had his eyes earnestly fixed upon him too. He had never seen such a sea of white faces, red bodies, and earnest eyes, in all his born days.

‘“This is the strangest sort of thing I ever had anything to do with,” thought my uncle; “allow me to return you your hat, sir.”



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The Story of the Bagman's Uncle

Chapter 49

Joseph Grego

Text Illustrated:

‘“Quit this room,” said both men together, grasping their swords.

‘“Eh?” said my uncle, not at all appearing to comprehend their meaning.

‘“Quit the room, or you are a dead man,” said the ill-looking fellow with the large sword, drawing it at the same time and flourishing it in the air.

‘“Down with him!” cried the gentleman in sky-blue, drawing his sword also, and falling back two or three yards. “Down with him!” The lady gave a loud scream.

‘Now, my uncle was always remarkable for great boldness, and great presence of mind. All the time that he had appeared so indifferent to what was going on, he had been looking slily about for some missile or weapon of defence, and at the very instant when the swords were drawn, he espied, standing in the chimney-corner, an old basket-hilted rapier in a rusty scabbard. At one bound, my uncle caught it in his hand, drew it, flourished it gallantly above his head, called aloud to the lady to keep out of the way, hurled the chair at the man in sky-blue, and the scabbard at the man in plum-colour, and taking advantage of the confusion, fell upon them both, pell-mell.



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The Story of the Bagman's Uncle

Chapter 49

Joseph Grego

Text Illustrated:

‘At this very moment, the gentleman in sky-blue turning round, and seeing the young lady with her face uncovered, vented an exclamation of rage and jealousy, and, turning his weapon against her beautiful bosom, pointed a thrust at her heart, which caused my uncle to utter a cry of apprehension that made the building ring. The lady stepped lightly aside, and snatching the young man’s sword from his hand, before he had recovered his balance, drove him to the wall, and running it through him, and the panelling, up to the very hilt, pinned him there, hard and fast. It was a splendid example. My uncle, with a loud shout of triumph, and a strength that was irresistible, made his adversary retreat in the same direction, and plunging the old rapier into the very centre of a large red flower in the pattern of his waistcoat, nailed him beside his friend; there they both stood, gentlemen, jerking their arms and legs about in agony, like the toy-shop figures that are moved by a piece of pack-thread. My uncle always said, afterwards, that this was one of the surest means he knew of, for disposing of an enemy; but it was liable to one objection on the ground of expense, inasmuch as it involved the loss of a sword for every man disabled.

‘“The mail, the mail!” cried the lady, running up to my uncle and throwing her beautiful arms round his neck; “we may yet escape.”



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The Bagman's Uncle"

Chapter 49

Joseph Grego

Text Illustrated:

‘“What is it, my dear?” said my uncle, looking in at the coach window. The lady happened to bend forward at the same time, and my uncle thought she looked more beautiful than she had done yet. He was very close to her just then, gentlemen, so he really ought to know.

‘“What is it, my dear?” said my uncle.

‘“Will you never love any one but me—never marry any one beside?” said the young lady.

‘My uncle swore a great oath that he never would marry anybody else, and the young lady drew in her head, and pulled up the window. He jumped upon the box, squared his elbows, adjusted the ribands, seized the whip which lay on the roof, gave one flick to the off leader, and away went the four long-tailed, flowing-maned black horses, at fifteen good English miles an hour, with the old mail-coach behind them. Whew! How they tore along!

‘The noise behind grew louder. The faster the old mail went, the faster came the pursuers—men, horses, dogs, were leagued in the pursuit. The noise was frightful, but, above all, rose the voice of the young lady, urging my uncle on, and shrieking, “Faster! Faster!”

‘They whirled past the dark trees, as feathers would be swept before a hurricane. Houses, gates, churches, haystacks, objects of every kind they shot by, with a velocity and noise like roaring waters suddenly let loose. But still the noise of pursuit grew louder, and still my uncle could hear the young lady wildly screaming, “Faster! Faster!”

‘My uncle plied whip and rein, and the horses flew onward till they were white with foam; and yet the noise behind increased; and yet the young lady cried, “Faster! Faster!” My uncle gave a loud stamp on the boot in the energy of the moment, and—found that it was gray morning, and he was sitting in the wheelwright’s yard, on the box of an old Edinburgh mail, shivering with the cold and wet and stamping his feet to warm them! He got down, and looked eagerly inside for the beautiful young lady. Alas! There was neither door nor seat to the coach. It was a mere shell.

‘Of course, my uncle knew very well that there was some mystery in the matter, and that everything had passed exactly as he used to relate it. He remained staunch to the great oath he had sworn to the beautiful young lady, refusing several eligible landladies on her account, and dying a bachelor at last. He always said what a curious thing it was that he should have found out, by such a mere accident as his clambering over the palings, that the ghosts of mail-coaches and horses, guards, coachmen, and passengers, were in the habit of making journeys regularly every night. He used to add, that he believed he was the only living person who had ever been taken as a passenger on one of these excursions. And I think he was right, gentlemen—at least I never heard of any other.’.

‘I wonder what these ghosts of mail-coaches carry in their bags,’ said the landlord, who had listened to the whole story with profound attention.

‘The dead letters, of course,’ said the bagman.

‘Oh, ah! To be sure,’ rejoined the landlord. ‘I never thought of that.’


I love those last three lines.


Tristram Shandy | 4856 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Did you have time then or not?"

There are some days when I just find time to keep up to date via smartphone, and as I am not a digital native, I find it very awkward to type long messages into my smartphone. So on these days, I'll maybe just read or like the latest reviews I read in the update feed.

I could not write recaps or longer commentaries on a smartphone or an I-pad, because I do read a real keyboard, or a pen ;-) And this will never change.


Tristram Shandy | 4856 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "Chapter 47 is a very powerful chapter and Tristram has drawn our attention to how Pickwick has changed during his time in the Fleet. I think back to the lines in “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” that ..."

These are wonderful observations, Peter! They show that contrary to what it said in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which I should read again one day, it is maybe not too wise to be too sad when sadness means disgust with the world and the determination to shut oneself off against life in general and your friends' lives in particular. It is good that Mr. Pickwick has someone like Sam around him, who knows how to keep his master's genuine kindness alive.


Tristram Shandy | 4856 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "The next to chapters can be dealt with more quickly, because one is simply tying a lose end, whereas the other gives us another short story, only loosely connected with the main pl..."

Isn't this incredible? How someone can be more interested in Oliver Twist than in Pickwick? If you ask me, this novel could go on and on without ever ending. ;-)


Tristram Shandy | 4856 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "This format gives us comic relief and serves as a counterpoint to a tale."

I have always considered it one of the infallible marks of great literature to maintain a balance between tragedy and comedy. Even Dostoyevsky has his comic relief characters, and the narrative voices of Conrad, Melville and also Hardy do ring with a touch of humour - each in their own particular way - from time to time. For me, this works much better than pure tragedy, which often verges on melodrama. Even Shakespeare has the gravediggers' scene immediately after Ophelia's death!


Tristram Shandy | 4856 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "Tristram wrote: "The next to chapters can be dealt with more quickly, because one is simply tying a lose end, whereas the other gives us another short story, only loosely connected with the main pl..."

Bob Sawyer surely has an elegant way of dealing with his woes: He cannot help making fun of them, and that's maybe also one reason why he is the first one to be reconciled with Mr. Winkle as Arabella's husband.

As to Perker, I find it entirely credible that professionally he cannot help admiring Dodson and Fogg, whereas personally he loathes them for being scoundrels. Coming to think of it, I'd say that the feelings he utters to Mr. Pickwick are genuine, and that's why they convince Mr. Pickwick.


message 31: by Peter (last edited May 02, 2018 12:42PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Peter | 3455 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "Peter wrote: "Chapter 47 is a very powerful chapter and Tristram has drawn our attention to how Pickwick has changed during his time in the Fleet. I think back to the lines in “Rime of the Ancient ..."

Yes. The Pickwick - Sam relationship is amazing, dare I say one of the finest such creations in literature? In fact, if I still taught I could do a course on novels and plays that have such relationships. Holmes and Watson, Quixote and Panza, Hamlet and Horatio, George and Lennie, even David and Steerforth. Perhaps I should come out of retirement. Well, actually no. :-)


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Julie Kelleher | 1342 comments Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Peter wrote: "Chapter 47 is a very powerful chapter and Tristram has drawn our attention to how Pickwick has changed during his time in the Fleet. I think back to the lines in “Rim..."

In lieu of leaving retirement, you could form a Goodreads group...


Peter | 3455 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Peter wrote: "Chapter 47 is a very powerful chapter and Tristram has drawn our attention to how Pickwick has changed during his time in the Fleet. I think back to the..."

Julie

I could never teach again. My spelling and grammar have both forsaken me (I have corrected my grammar in post 31). Best leave teaching to you and others. I’ll watch from the sidelines.


Mary Lou | 2520 comments Peter wrote: "The Pickwick - Sam relationship is amazing, dare I say one of the finest such creations in literature?"

I agree, Peter. In fact, I think the way that Pickwick finds Sam amusing, but reins him in when necessary, and Sam's genuine respect for Mr. Pickwick are the things that make Sam more likeable in my eyes. Without Pickwick's tempering, Sam's cocky, devil-may-care attitude might grate just a bit.

Anytime you want to do a study on male buddy novels, let me know! I love seeing that in movies -- Lethal Weapon, Beverly Hills Cop, The Cheyenne Social Club (there's a throwback!) -- and love the male bonding that we see a lot of here in Pickwick.


Tristram Shandy | 4856 comments Mod
I think when we first meet Mr. Weller senior, this worthy man tells Mr. Pickwick, with evident pride in his son, that he made sure of Sam's having the best education by letting him run around in the streets at a very early age and interfering very little with him. This way, Mr. Weller, explains, Sam was able to gain first-hand experience about how life works and what people are like.

We may argue that probably the Artful Dodger was brought up the same way - but then I'd take it that Mr. Weller's account of his education was only partly right. He must also have set his son an example and not totally neglected him because otherwise there would not be that bond of genuine affection between the two, which shows itself in a bantering but respectful relationship.

Last not least, Sam may be world-wise and no-nonsense, and he may take some things quite lightly, but he is not cynical and callous - for would he have stood by Mr. Pickwick in his Fleet times, if he were?

As to Sancho Pansa, I cannot remember very well but I always thought that Sancho's loyalty for his master was partially ensured by the prospect of being the governor of an island one day - and by Sancho's gullibility. - Your idea of comparing those master-sidekick relationships sounds very promising, Peter!


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