'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 toMr. 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 allowedSam 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 lookupon 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. Animpostor, sir.'
With those words, Mr. Pickwick turned slowly on his heel, andrejoined his friends.
While Mr. Pickwick was delivering himself of the sentimentjust recorded, Mr.
Weller and the fat boy, having by their jointendeavours cut out a slide, were exercising
themselves thereupon,in a very masterly and brilliant manner. Sam Weller, in particular,was
displaying that beautiful feat of fancy-sliding which iscurrently denominated 'knocking
at the cobbler's door,' andwhich is achieved by skimming over the ice on one foot,
andoccasionally giving a postman's knock upon it with the other. Itwas a good long
slide, and there was something in the motionwhich Mr. Pickwick, who was very cold
with standing still,could not help envying.
'It looks a nice warm exercise that, doesn't it?' he inquired ofWardle, when
that gentleman was thoroughly out of breath, byreason of the indefatigable manner
in which he had converted hislegs into a pair of compasses, and drawn complicated
problemson the ice.
'Ah, it does, indeed,' replied Wardle. 'Do you slide?'
'I used to do so, on the gutters, when I was a boy,' repliedMr. Pickwick.
'Try it now,' said Wardle.
'Oh, do, please, Mr. Pickwick!' cried all the ladies.
'I should be very happy to afford you any amusement,' repliedMr. Pickwick, 'but
I haven't done such a thing these thirty years.'
'Pooh! pooh! Nonsense!' said Wardle, dragging off his skateswith the impetuosity
which characterised all his proceedings.'Here; I'll keep you company; come along!'
And away went thegood-tempered old fellow down the slide, with a rapidity whichcame
very close upon Mr. Weller, and beat the fat boy all to nothing.
Mr. Pickwick paused, considered, pulled off his gloves and putthem in his hat;
took two or three short runs, baulked himself asoften, and at last took another
run, and went slowly and gravelydown 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 Wardleagain, and then Mr.
Pickwick, and then Sam, and then Mr.Winkle, and then Mr. Bob Sawyer, and then the
fat boy, andthen Mr. Snodgrass, following closely upon each other's heels,and running
after each other with as much eagerness as if theirfuture prospects in life depended
on their expedition.
It was the most intensely interesting thing, to observe themanner in which Mr.
Pickwick performed his share in theceremony; to watch the torture of anxiety with
which he viewedthe person behind, gaining upon him at the imminent hazard oftripping
him up; to see him gradually expend the painful forcehe had put on at first, and
turn slowly round on the slide, with hisface towards the point from which he had
started; to contemplatethe playful smile which mantled on his face when he had accomplishedthe
distance, and the eagerness with which he turnedround when he had done so, and ran
after his predecessor, hisblack gaiters tripping pleasantly through the snow, and
his eyesbeaming cheerfulness and gladness through his spectacles. Andwhen he was
knocked down (which happened upon the averageevery third round), it was the most
invigorating sight that canpossibly be imagined, to behold him gather up his hat,
gloves,and handkerchief, with a glowing countenance, and resume hisstation in the
rank, with an ardour and enthusiasm that nothingCould abate.
The sport was at its height, the sliding was at the quickest, thelaughter was
at the loudest, when a sharp smart crack was heard.There was a quick rush towards
the bank, a wild scream from theladies, and a shout from Mr. Tupman. A large mass
of icedisappeared; the water bubbled up over it; Mr. Pickwick's hat,gloves, and
handkerchief were floating on the surface; and thiswas all of Mr. Pickwick that
anybody could see.
Dismay and anguish were depicted on every countenance; themales turned pale,
and the females fainted; Mr. Snodgrass andMr. Winkle grasped each other by the hand,
and gazed at thespot 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 bewithin 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 wereapproaching the hole
with cautious steps, and Mr. BenjaminAllen was holding a hurried consultation with
Mr. Bob Sawyeron the advisability of bleeding the company generally, as animproving
little bit of professional practice--it was at this verymoment, that a face, head,
and shoulders, emerged from beneath thewater, 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 keephimself up for anybody else's sake, it would have occurred to
himthat he might as well do so, for his own.
'Do you feel the bottom there, old fellow?' said Wardle.
'Yes, certainly,' replied Mr. Pickwick, wringing the water fromhis head and face,
and gasping for breath. 'I fell upon my back.I couldn't get on my feet at first.'
The clay upon so much of Mr. Pickwick's coat as was yetvisible, bore testimony
to the accuracy of this statement; and asthe fears of the spectators were still
further relieved by the fatboy's suddenly recollecting that the water was nowhere
more thanfive 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 unpleasantposition, 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 roundyou, Mr. Pickwick.'
'Ah, that's the best thing you can do,' said Wardle; 'and whenyou've got it on,
run home as fast as your legs can carry you, andjump into bed directly.'A dozen
shawls were offered on the instant. Three or four ofthe thickest having been selected,
Mr. Pickwick was wrapped up,and started off, under the guidance of Mr. Weller; presenting
thesingular phenomenon of an elderly gentleman, dripping wet, andwithout a hat,
with his arms bound down to his sides, skimmingover the ground, without any clearly-defined
purpose, at the rateof six good English miles an hour.
But Mr. Pickwick cared not for appearances in such anextreme case, and urged
on by Sam Weller, he kept at the verytop of his speed until he reached the door
of Manor Farm, whereMr. Tupman had arrived some five minutes before, and hadfrightened
the old lady into palpitations of the heart byimpressing her with the unalterable
conviction that the kitchenchimney was on fire--a calamity which always presented
itself inglowing colours to the old lady's mind, when anybody about herevinced the
Mr. Pickwick paused not an instant until he was snug in bed.Sam Weller lighted
a blazing fire in the room, and took up hisdinner; a bowl of punch was carried up
afterwards, and a grandcarouse held in honour of his safety. Old Wardle would not
hearof his rising, so they made the bed the chair, and Mr. Pickwickpresided. A second
and a third bowl were ordered in; and whenMr. Pickwick awoke next morning, there
was not a symptom ofrheumatism about him; which proves, as Mr. Bob Sawyer veryjustly
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 wasmerely because the patient fell into
the vulgar error of not takingenough of it.
The jovial party broke up next morning. Breakings-up arecapital things in our
school-days, but in after life they are painfulenough. Death, self-interest, and
fortune's changes, are every daybreaking up many a happy group, and scattering them
far andwide; and the boys and girls never come back again. We do notmean to say
that it was exactly the case in this particular instance;all we wish to inform the
reader is, that the different members ofthe party dispersed to their several homes;
that Mr. Pickwick andhis friends once more took their seats on the top of the Muggletoncoach;
and that Arabella Allen repaired to her place of destination,wherever it might have
been--we dare say Mr. Winkleknew, but we confess we don't--under the care and guardianshipof
her brother Benjamin, and his most intimate and particularfriend, Mr. Bob Sawyer.
Before they separated, however, that gentleman and Mr.Benjamin Allen drew Mr.
Pickwick aside with an air of somemystery; and Mr. Bob Sawyer, thrusting his forefinger
betweentwo of Mr. Pickwick's ribs, and thereby displaying his nativedrollery, and
his knowledge of the anatomy of the human frame,at one and the same time, inquired--
'I say, old boy, where do you hang out?'Mr. Pickwick replied that he was at present
suspended at theGeorge and Vulture.
'I wish you'd come and see me,' said Bob Sawyer.
'Nothing would give me greater pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'There's my lodgings,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer, producing a card.'Lant Street, Borough;
it's near Guy's, and handy for me, youknow. Little distance after you've passed
St. George's Church--turns out of the High Street on the right hand side the way.'
'I shall find it,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Come on Thursday fortnight, and bring the other chaps withyou,' said Mr. Bob
Sawyer; 'I'm going to have a few medicalfellows that night.'
Mr. Pickwick expressed the pleasure it would afford him tomeet the medical fellows;
and after Mr. Bob Sawyer hadinformed him that he meant to be very cosy, and that
his friendBen was to be one of the party, they shook hands and separated.
We feel that in this place we lay ourself open to the inquirywhether Mr. Winkle
was whispering, during this brief conversation,to Arabella Allen; and if so, what
he said; and furthermore,whether Mr. Snodgrass was conversing apart with Emily Wardle;and
if so, what HE said. To this, we reply, that whatever theymight have said to the
ladies, they said nothing at all to Mr.Pickwick or Mr. Tupman for eight-and-twenty
miles, and thatthey sighed very often, refused ale and brandy, and lookedgloomy.
If our observant lady readers can deduce any satisfactoryinferences from these facts,
we beg them by all means to do so.
CHAPTER XXXIWHICH IS ALL ABOUT THE LAW, AND SUNDRY GREATAUTHORITIES LEARNED THEREIN
Scattered about, in various holes and corners of the Temple,are certain dark
and dirty chambers, in and out of which,all the morning in vacation, and half the
evening too interm time, there may be seen constantly hurrying with bundles ofpapers
under their arms, and protruding from their pockets, analmost uninterrupted succession
of lawyers' clerks. There areseveral grades of lawyers' clerks. There is the articled
clerk, whohas paid a premium, and is an attorney in perspective, who runs atailor's
bill, receives invitations to parties, knows a family inGower Street, and another
in Tavistock Square; who goes outof town every long vacation to see his father,
who keeps livehorses innumerable; and who is, in short, the very aristocrat ofclerks.
There is the salaried clerk--out of door, or in door, asthe case may be--who devotes
the major part of his thirty shillingsa week to his Personal pleasure and adornments,
repairs half-priceto the Adelphi Theatre at least three times a week, dissipatesmajestically
at the cider cellars afterwards, and is a dirty caricatureof 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 firstsurtouts,
who feel a befitting contempt for boys at day-schools,club as they go home at night,
for saveloys and porter, and thinkthere's nothing like 'life.' There are varieties
of the genus, toonumerous 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.
These sequestered nooks are the public offices of the legalprofession, where
writs are issued, judgments signed, declarationsfiled, and numerous other ingenious
machines put in motion forthe torture and torment of His Majesty's liege subjects,
and thecomfort and emolument of the practitioners of the law. They are,for the most
part, low-roofed, mouldy rooms, where innumerablerolls of parchment, which have
been perspiring in secret for thelast century, send forth an agreeable odour, which
is mingled byday with the scent of the dry-rot, and by night with the variousexhalations
which arise from damp cloaks, festering umbrellas,and the coarsest tallow candles.
About half-past seven o'clock in the evening, some ten days ora fortnight after
Mr. Pickwick and his friends returned to London,there hurried into one of these
offices, an individual in a browncoat and brass buttons, whose long hair was scrupulouslytwisted
round the rim of his napless hat, and whose soiled drabtrousers were so tightly
strapped over his Blucher boots, that hisknees threatened every moment to start
from their concealment.He produced from his coat pockets a long and narrow strip
ofparchment, on which the presiding functionary impressed anillegible black stamp.
He then drew forth four scraps of paper, ofsimilar dimensions, each containing a
printed copy of the stripof parchment with blanks for a name; and having filled
up theblanks, put all the five documents in his pocket, and hurried away.