Such having been the demeanour of this celebrated publiccharacter towards Mr.
Winkle, it will be readily imagined thatconsiderable surprise was depicted on the
countenance of thelatter gentleman, when, as he was sitting alone in the breakfast-room,
the door was hastily thrown open, and as hastily closed,on the entrance of Mr. Pott,
who, stalking majestically towardshim, and thrusting aside his proffered hand, ground
his teeth, asif to put a sharper edge on what he was about to utter, andexclaimed,
in a saw-like voice--
'Sir!' exclaimed Mr. Winkle, starting from his chair.
'Serpent, Sir,' repeated Mr. Pott, raising his voice, and thensuddenly depressing
it: 'I said, serpent, sir--make the most of it.'
When you have parted with a man at two o'clock in themorning, on terms of the
utmost good-fellowship, and he meetsyou again, at half-past nine, and greets you
as a serpent, it is notunreasonable to conclude that something of an unpleasantnature
has occurred meanwhile. So Mr. Winkle thought. Hereturned Mr. Pott's gaze of stone,
and in compliance with thatgentleman's request, proceeded to make the most he could
of the'serpent.' The most, however, was nothing at all; so, after aprofound silence
of some minutes' duration, he said,--
'Serpent, Sir! Serpent, Mr. Pott! What can you mean, Sir?--this is pleasantry.'
'Pleasantry, sir!' exclaimed Pott, with a motion of the hand,indicative of a
strong desire to hurl the Britannia metal teapot atthe head of the visitor. 'Pleasantry,
sir!--But--no, I will be calm;I will be calm, Sir;' in proof of his calmness, Mr.
Pott flunghimself into a chair, and foamed at the mouth.
'My dear sir,' interposed Mr. Winkle.
'DEAR Sir!' replied Pott. 'How dare you address me, as dear Sir,Sir? How dare
you look me in the face and do it, sir?'
'Well, Sir, if you come to that,' responded Mr. Winkle, 'howdare you look me
in the face, and call me a serpent, sir?'
'Because you are one,' replied Mr. Pott.
'Prove it, Sir,' said Mr. Winkle warmly. 'Prove it.'
A malignant scowl passed over the profound face of the editor,as he drew from
his pocket the INDEPENDENT of that morning; andlaying his finger on a particular
paragraph, threw the journalacross the table to Mr. Winkle.
That gentleman took it up, and read as follows:--
'Our obscure and filthy contemporary, in some disgustingobservations on the recent
election for this borough, has presumedto violate the hallowed sanctity of private
life, and to refer,
in a manner not to be misunderstood, to the personal affairs ofour late candidate--aye,
and notwithstanding his base defeat, wewill add, our future member, Mr. Fizkin.
What does our dastardlycontemporary mean? What would the ruffian say, if we, settingat
naught, like him, the decencies of social intercourse, were toraise the curtain
which happily conceals His private life fromgeneral ridicule, not to say from general
execration? What, if wewere even to point out, and comment on, facts and circumstances,which
are publicly notorious, and beheld by every one but ourmole-eyed contemporary--what
if we were to print the followingeffusion, which we received while we were writing
the commencementof this article, from a talented fellow-townsman andcorrespondent?
'"LINES TO A BRASS POT
'"Oh Pott! if you'd knownHow false she'd have grown,When you heard the marriage
bells tinkle;You'd have done then, I vow,What you cannot help now,And handed her
over to W*****"'
'What,' said Mr. Pott solemnly--'what rhymes to "tinkle,"villain?'
'What rhymes to tinkle?' said Mrs. Pott, whose entrance at themoment forestalled
the reply. 'What rhymes to tinkle? Why,Winkle, I should conceive.' Saying this,
Mrs. Pott smiled sweetlyon the disturbed Pickwickian, and extended her hand towardshim.
The agitated young man would have accepted it, in hisconfusion, had not Pott indignantly
'Back, ma'am--back!' said the editor. 'Take his hand beforemy very face!'
'Mr. P.!' said his astonished lady.
'Wretched woman, look here,' exclaimed the husband. 'Lookhere, ma'am--"Lines
to a Brass Pot." "Brass Pot"; that's me,ma'am. "False SHE'D have grown"; that's
you, ma'am--you.'With this ebullition of rage, which was not unaccompanied withsomething
like a tremble, at the expression of his wife's face,Mr. Pott dashed the current
number of the Eatanswill INDEPENDENTat her feet.
'Upon my word, Sir,' said the astonished Mrs. Pott, stoopingto pick up the paper.
'Upon my word, Sir!'
Mr. Pott winced beneath the contemptuous gaze of his wife.He had made a desperate
struggle to screw up his courage, but itwas fast coming unscrewed again.
There appears nothing very tremendous in this little sentence,'Upon my word,
sir,' when it comes to be read; but the tone ofvoice in which it was delivered,
and the look that accompanied it,both seeming to bear reference to some revenge
to be thereaftervisited upon the head of Pott, produced their effect upon him.The
most unskilful observer could have detected in his troubledcountenance, a readiness
to resign his Wellington boots to anyefficient substitute who would have consented
to stand in themat that moment.
Mrs. Pott read the paragraph, uttered a loud shriek, andthrew herself at full
length on the hearth-rug, screaming, andtapping it with the heels of her shoes,
in a manner which couldleave no doubt of the propriety of her feelings on the occasion.
'My dear,' said the terrified Pott, 'I didn't say I believed it;--I--'but the
unfortunate man's voice was drowned in thescreaming of his partner.
'Mrs. Pott, let me entreat you, my dear ma'am, to composeyourself,' said Mr.
Winkle; but the shrieks and tappings werelouder, and more frequent than ever.
'My dear,' said Mr. Pott, 'I'm very sorry. If you won't consideryour own health,
consider me, my dear. We shall have a crowdround the house.' But the more strenuously
Mr. Pott entreated,the more vehemently the screams poured forth.
Very fortunately, however, attached to Mrs. Pott's person wasa bodyguard of one,
a young lady whose ostensible employmentwas to preside over her toilet, but who
rendered herself useful ina variety of ways, and in none more so than in the particulardepartment
of constantly aiding and abetting her mistress inevery wish and inclination opposed
to the desires of the unhappyPott. The screams reached this young lady's ears in
due course,and brought her into the room with a speed which threatened toderange,
materially, the very exquisite arrangement of her capand ringlets.
'Oh, my dear, dear mistress!' exclaimed the bodyguard,kneeling frantically by
the side of the prostrate Mrs. Pott. 'Oh,my dear mistress, what is the matter?'
'Your master--your brutal master,' murmured the patient.
Pott was evidently giving way.
'It's a shame,' said the bodyguard reproachfully. 'I know he'llbe the death on
you, ma'am. Poor dear thing!'
He gave way more. The opposite party followed up the attack.
'Oh, don't leave me--don't leave me, Goodwin,' murmuredMrs. Pott, clutching at
the wrist of the said Goodwin with anhysteric jerk. 'You're the only person that's
kind to me, Goodwin.'
At this affecting appeal, Goodwin got up a little domestictragedy of her own,
and shed tears copiously.
'Never, ma'am--never,' said Goodwin.'Oh, sir, you should becareful--you should
indeed; you don't know what harm you maydo missis; you'll be sorry for it one day,
I know--I've alwayssaid so.'
The unlucky Pott looked timidly on, but said nothing.
'Goodwin,' said Mrs. Pott, in a soft voice.
'Ma'am,' said Goodwin.
'If you only knew how I have loved that man--''Don't distress yourself by recollecting
it, ma'am,' said the bodyguard.
Pott looked very frightened. It was time to finish him.
'And now,' sobbed Mrs. Pott, 'now, after all, to be treated inthis way; to be
reproached and insulted in the presence of athird party, and that party almost a
stranger. But I will notsubmit to it! Goodwin,' continued Mrs. Pott, raising herself
inthe arms of her attendant, 'my brother, the lieutenant, shallinterfere. I'll be
'It would certainly serve him right, ma'am,' said Goodwin.
Whatever thoughts the threat of a separation might haveawakened in Mr. Pott's
mind, he forbore to give utterance tothem, and contented himself by saying, with
'My dear, will you hear me?'
A fresh train of sobs was the only reply, as Mrs. Pott grewmore hysterical, requested
to be informed why she was ever born,and required sundry other pieces of information
of a similar description.
'My dear,' remonstrated Mr. Pott, 'do not give way to thesesensitive feelings.
I never believed that the paragraph had anyfoundation, my dear--impossible. I was
only angry, my dear--Imay say outrageous--with the INDEPENDENT people for daring
toinsert it; that's all.' Mr. Pott cast an imploring look at theinnocent cause of
the mischief, as if to entreat him to say nothingabout the serpent.
'And what steps, sir, do you mean to take to obtain redress?'inquired Mr. Winkle,
gaining courage as he saw Pott losing it.
'Oh, Goodwin,' observed Mrs. Pott, 'does he mean to horsewhipthe editor of the
INDEPENDENT--does he, Goodwin?'
'Hush, hush, ma'am; pray keep yourself quiet,' replied thebodyguard. 'I dare
say he will, if you wish it, ma'am.'
'Certainly,' said Pott, as his wife evinced decided symptoms ofgoing off again.
'Of course I shall.'
'When, Goodwin--when?' said Mrs. Pott, still undecidedabout the going off.
'Immediately, of course,' said Mr. Pott; 'before the day is out.'
'Oh, Goodwin,' resumed Mrs. Pott, 'it's the only way ofmeeting the slander, and
setting me right with the world.'
'Certainly, ma'am,' replied Goodwin. 'No man as is a man,ma'am, could refuse
to do it.'
So, as the hysterics were still hovering about, Mr. Pott saidonce more that he
would do it; but Mrs. Pott was so overcome atthe bare idea of having ever been suspected,
that she was half adozen times on the very verge of a relapse, and most unquestionablywould
have gone off, had it not been for the indefatigableefforts of the assiduous Goodwin,
and repeated entreaties forpardon from the conquered Pott; and finally, when that
unhappyindividual had been frightened and snubbed down to his properlevel, Mrs.
Pott recovered, and they went to breakfast.
'You will not allow this base newspaper slander to shortenyour stay here, Mr.
Winkle?' said Mrs. Pott, smiling through thetraces of her tears.
'I hope not,' said Mr. Pott, actuated, as he spoke, by a wishthat his visitor
would choke himself with the morsel of dry toastwhich he was raising to his lips
at the moment, and so terminatehis stay effectually.
'I hope not.'
'You are very good,' said Mr. Winkle; 'but a letter has beenreceived from Mr.
Pickwick--so I learn by a note from Mr.Tupman, which was brought up to my bedroom
door, thismorning--in which he requests us to join him at Bury to-day;and we are
to leave by the coach at noon.'
'But you will come back?' said Mrs. Pott.
'Oh, certainly,' replied Mr. Winkle.
'You are quite sure?' said Mrs. Pott, stealing a tender look ather visitor.
'Quite,' responded Mr. Winkle.
The breakfast passed off in silence, for each of the party wasbrooding over his,
or her, own personal grievances. Mrs. Pottwas regretting the loss of a beau; Mr.
Pott his rash pledge tohorsewhip the INDEPENDENT; Mr. Winkle his having innocentlyplaced
himself in so awkward a situation. Noon approached, andafter many adieux and promises
to return, he tore himself away.
'If he ever comes back, I'll poison him,' thought Mr. Pott, ashe turned into
the little back office where he prepared his thunderbolts.
'If I ever do come back, and mix myself up with these peopleagain,'thought Mr.
Winkle, as he wended his way to the Peacock,'I shall deserve to be horsewhipped
His friends were ready, the coach was nearly so, and in half anhour they were
proceeding on their journey, along the road overwhich Mr. Pickwick and Sam had so
recently travelled, and ofwhich, as we have already said something, we do not feel
calledupon to extract Mr. Snodgrass's poetical and beautiful description.
Mr. Weller was standing at the door of the Angel, ready toreceive them, and by
that gentleman they were ushered to theapartment of Mr. Pickwick, where, to the
no small surprise ofMr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass, and the no small embarrassmentof
Mr. Tupman, they found old Wardle and Trundle.
'How are you?' said the old man, grasping Mr. Tupman'shand. 'Don't hang back,
or look sentimental about it; it can't behelped, old fellow. For her sake, I wish
you'd had her; for yourown, I'm very glad you have not. A young fellow like you
will dobetter one of these days, eh?' With this conclusion, Wardleslapped Mr. Tupman
on the back, and laughed heartily.
'Well, and how are you, my fine fellows?' said the old gentleman,shaking hands
with Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass at thesame time. 'I have just been telling Pickwick
that we must haveyou all down at Christmas. We're going to have a wedding--areal
wedding this time.'
'A wedding!' exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass, turning very pale.
'Yes, a wedding. But don't be frightened,' said the good-humoured old man; 'it's
only Trundle there, and Bella.'
'Oh, is that all?' said Mr. Snodgrass, relieved from a painfuldoubt which had
fallen heavily on his breast. 'Give you joy, Sir.How is Joe?'