Chapter 13 Some Account of Eatanswill; of the State of Parties therein; an_f the Election of a Member to serve in Parliament for that ancient, loyal,
and patriotic Borough
We will frankly acknowledge that, up to the period of our being first immerse_n the voluminous papers of the Pickwick Club, we had never heard o_atanswill; we will with equal candour admit that we have in vain searched fo_roof of the actual existence of such a place at the present day. Knowing th_eep reliance to be placed on every note and statement of Mr. Pickwick’s, an_ot presuming to set up our recollection against the recorded declarations o_hat great man, we have consulted every authority, bearing upon the subject, to which we could possibly refer. We have traced every name in schedules A an_, without meeting with that of Eatanswill; we have minutely examined ever_orner of the pocket county maps issued for the benefit of society by ou_istinguished publishers, and the same result has attended our investigation.
We are therefore led to believe that Mr. Pickwick, with that anxious desire t_bstain from giving offence to any, and with those delicate feelings for whic_ll who knew him well know he was so eminently remarkable, purposel_ubstituted a fictitious designation, for the real name of the place in whic_is observations were made. We are confirmed in this belief by a littl_ircumstance, apparently slight and trivial in itself, but when considered i_his point of view, not undeserving of notice. In Mr. Pickwick’s note–book, w_an just trace an entry of the fact, that the places of himself and follower_ere booked by the Norwich coach; but this entry was afterwards lined through, as if for the purpose of concealing even the direction in which the borough i_ituated. We will not, therefore, hazard a guess upon the subject, but will a_nce proceed with this history, content with the materials which it_haracters have provided for us.
It appears, then, that the Eatanswill people, like the people of many othe_mall towns, considered themselves of the utmost and most mighty importance, and that every man in Eatanswill, conscious of the weight that attached to hi_xample, felt himself bound to unite, heart and soul, with one of the tw_reat parties that divided the town—the Blues and the Buffs. Now the Blue_ost no opportunity of opposing the Buffs, and the Buffs lost no opportunit_f opposing the Blues; and the consequence was, that whenever the Buffs an_lues met together at public meeting, town–hall, fair, or market, disputes an_igh words arose between them. With these dissensions it is almost superfluou_o say that everything in Eatanswill was made a party question. If the Buff_roposed to new skylight the market–place, the Blues got up public meetings, and denounced the proceeding; if the Blues proposed the erection of a_dditional pump in the High Street, the Buffs rose as one man and stood aghas_t the enormity. There were Blue shops and Buff shops, Blue inns and Buf_nns—there was a Blue aisle and a Buff aisle in the very church itself.
Of course it was essentially and indispensably necessary that each of thes_owerful parties should have its chosen organ and representative: and, accordingly, there were two newspapers in the town—the Eatanswill Gazette an_he Eatanswill Independent; the former advocating Blue principles, and th_atter conducted on grounds decidedly Buff. Fine newspapers they were. Suc_eading articles, and such spirited attacks!—‘Our worthless contemporary, th_azette’—‘That disgraceful and dastardly journal, the Independent’—‘That fals_nd scurrilous print, the Independent’—‘That vile and slanderous calumniator, the Gazette;’ these, and other spirit–stirring denunciations, were strew_lentifully over the columns of each, in every number, and excited feelings o_he most intense delight and indignation in the bosoms of the townspeople.
Mr. Pickwick, with his usual foresight and sagacity, had chosen a peculiarl_esirable moment for his visit to the borough. Never was such a contest known.
The Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, was the Blue candidate; an_oratio Fizkin, Esq., of Fizkin Lodge, near Eatanswill, had been prevaile_pon by his friends to stand forward on the Buff interest. The Gazette warne_he electors of Eatanswill that the eyes not only of England, but of the whol_ivilised world, were upon them; and the Independent imperatively demanded t_now, whether the constituency of Eatanswill were the grand fellows they ha_lways taken them for, or base and servile tools, undeserving alike of th_ame of Englishmen and the blessings of freedom. Never had such a commotio_gitated the town before.
It was late in the evening when Mr. Pickwick and his companions, assisted b_am, dismounted from the roof of the Eatanswill coach. Large blue silk flag_ere flying from the windows of the Town Arms Inn, and bills were posted i_very sash, intimating, in gigantic letters, that the Honourable Samue_lumkey’s committee sat there daily. A crowd of idlers were assembled in th_oad, looking at a hoarse man in the balcony, who was apparently talkin_imself very red in the face in Mr. Slumkey’s behalf; but the force and poin_f whose arguments were somewhat impaired by the perpetual beating of fou_arge drums which Mr. Fizkin’s committee had stationed at the street corner.
There was a busy little man beside him, though, who took off his hat a_ntervals and motioned to the people to cheer, which they regularly did, mos_nthusiastically; and as the red–faced gentleman went on talking till he wa_edder in the face than ever, it seemed to answer his purpose quite as well a_f anybody had heard him.
The Pickwickians had no sooner dismounted than they were surrounded by _ranch mob of the honest and independent, who forthwith set up three deafenin_heers, which being responded to by the main body (for it’s not at al_ecessary for a crowd to know what they are cheering about), swelled into _remendous roar of triumph, which stopped even the red–faced man in th_alcony.
‘Hurrah!’ shouted the mob, in conclusion.
‘One cheer more,’ screamed the little fugleman in the balcony, and out shoute_he mob again, as if lungs were cast–iron, with steel works.
‘Slumkey for ever!’ roared the honest and independent.
‘Slumkey for ever!’ echoed Mr. Pickwick, taking off his hat. ‘No Fizkin!’ roared the crowd.
‘Certainly not!’ shouted Mr. Pickwick. ‘Hurrah!’ And then there was anothe_oaring, like that of a whole menagerie when the elephant has rung the bel_or the cold meat.
‘Who is Slumkey?‘whispered Mr. Tupman.
‘I don’t know,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, in the same tone. ‘Hush. Don’t ask an_uestions. It’s always best on these occasions to do what the mob do.’
‘But suppose there are two mobs?’ suggested Mr. Snodgrass.
‘Shout with the largest,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.
Volumes could not have said more.
They entered the house, the crowd opening right and left to let them pass, an_heering vociferously. The first object of consideration was to secur_uarters for the night.
‘Can we have beds here?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick, summoning the waiter.
‘Don’t know, Sir,’ replied the man; ‘afraid we’re full, sir—I’ll inquire, Sir.’ Away he went for that purpose, and presently returned, to ask whethe_he gentleman were ‘Blue.’
As neither Mr. Pickwick nor his companions took any vital interest in th_ause of either candidate, the question was rather a difficult one to answer.
In this dilemma Mr. Pickwick bethought himself of his new friend, Mr. Perker.
‘Do you know a gentleman of the name of Perker?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.
‘Certainly, Sir; Honourable Mr. Samuel Slumkey’s agent.’
‘He is Blue, I think?’
‘Oh, yes, Sir.’
‘Then we are Blue,’ said Mr. Pickwick; but observing that the man looke_ather doubtful at this accommodating announcement, he gave him his card, an_esired him to present it to Mr. Perker forthwith, if he should happen to b_n the house. The waiter retired; and reappearing almost immediately with _equest that Mr. Pickwick would follow him, led the way to a large room on th_irst floor, where, seated at a long table covered with books and papers, wa_r. Perker.
‘Ah—ah, my dear Sir,’ said the little man, advancing to meet him; ‘very happ_o see you, my dear Sir, very. Pray sit down. So you have carried you_ntention into effect. You have come down here to see an election—eh?’ Mr.
Pickwick replied in the affirmative.
‘Spirited contest, my dear sir,’ said the little man.
‘I’m delighted to hear it,’ said Mr. Pickwick, rubbing his hands. ‘I like t_ee sturdy patriotism, on whatever side it is called forth—and so it’s _pirited contest?’
‘Oh, yes,’ said the little man, ‘very much so indeed. We have opened all th_ublic–houses in the place, and left our adversary nothing but th_eer–shops–masterly stroke of policy that, my dear Sir, eh?’ The little ma_miled complacently, and took a large pinch of snuff.
‘And what are the probabilities as to the result of the contest?’ inquired Mr.
‘Why, doubtful, my dear Sir; rather doubtful as yet,’ replied the little man.
‘Fizkin’s people have got three–and–thirty voters in the lock–up coach–hous_t the White Hart.’
‘In the coach–house!’ said Mr. Pickwick, considerably astonished by thi_econd stroke of policy.
‘They keep ’em locked up there till they want ’em,’ resumed the little man.
‘The effect of that is, you see, to prevent our getting at them; and even i_e could, it would be of no use, for they keep them very drunk on purpose.
‘We are pretty confident, though,’ said Mr. Perker, sinking his voice almos_o a whisper. ‘We had a little tea–party here, last night—five–and–fort_omen, my dear sir—and gave every one of ’em a green parasol when she wen_way.’
‘A parasol!’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Fact, my dear Sir, fact. Five–and–forty green parasols, at seven and sixpenc_–piece. All women like finery—extraordinary the effect of those parasols.
Secured all their husbands, and half their brothers—beats stockings, an_lannel, and all that sort of thing hollow. My idea, my dear Sir, entirely.
Hail, rain, or sunshine, you can’t walk half a dozen yards up the street, without encountering half a dozen green parasols.’
Here the little man indulged in a convulsion of mirth, which was only checke_y the entrance of a third party.
This was a tall, thin man, with a sandy–coloured head inclined to baldness, and a face in which solemn importance was blended with a look of unfathomabl_rofundity. He was dressed in a long brown surtout, with a black clot_aistcoat, and drab trousers. A double eyeglass dangled at his waistcoat; an_n his head he wore a very low–crowned hat with a broad brim. The new–come_as introduced to Mr. Pickwick as Mr. Pott, the editor of the Eatanswil_azette. After a few preliminary remarks, Mr. Pott turned round to Mr.
Pickwick, and said with solemnity—
‘This contest excites great interest in the metropolis, sir?’
‘I believe it does,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘To which I have reason to know,’ said Pott, looking towards Mr. Perker fo_orroboration—‘to which I have reason to know that my article of last Saturda_n some degree contributed.’
‘Not the least doubt of it,’ said the little man.
‘The press is a mighty engine, sir,’ said Pott.
Mr. Pickwick yielded his fullest assent to the proposition.
‘But I trust, sir,’ said Pott, ‘that I have never abused the enormous power _ield. I trust, sir, that I have never pointed the noble instrument which i_laced in my hands, against the sacred bosom of private life, or the tende_reast of individual reputation; I trust, sir, that I have devoted my energie_o—to endeavours—humble they may be, humble I know they are—to instil thos_rinciples of—which—are—’
Here the editor of the Eatanswill Gazette, appearing to ramble, Mr. Pickwic_ame to his relief, and said—
‘And what, Sir,’ said Pott—‘what, Sir, let me ask you as an impartial man, i_he state of the public mind in London, with reference to my contest with th_ndependent?’
‘Greatly excited, no doubt,’ interposed Mr. Perker, with a look of slynes_hich was very likely accidental.
‘The contest,’ said Pott, ‘shall be prolonged so long as I have health an_trength, and that portion of talent with which I am gifted. From tha_ontest, Sir, although it may unsettle men’s minds and excite their feelings, and render them incapable for the discharge of the everyday duties of ordinar_ife; from that contest, sir, I will never shrink, till I have set my hee_pon the Eatanswill Independent. I wish the people of London, and the peopl_f this country to know, sir, that they may rely upon me—that I will no_esert them, that I am resolved to stand by them, Sir, to the last.’ ‘You_onduct is most noble, Sir,’ said Mr. Pickwick; and he grasped the hand of th_agnanimous Pott. ‘You are, sir, I perceive, a man of sense and talent,’ sai_r. Pott, almost breathless with the vehemence of his patriotic declaration.
‘I am most happy, sir, to make the acquaintance of such a man.’
‘And I,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘feel deeply honoured by this expression of you_pinion. Allow me, sir, to introduce you to my fellow–travellers, the othe_orresponding members of the club I am proud to have founded.’
‘I shall be delighted,’ said Mr. Pott.
Mr. Pickwick withdrew, and returning with his friends, presented them in du_orm to the editor of the Eatanswill Gazette.
‘Now, my dear Pott,’ said little Mr. Perker, ‘the question is, what are we t_o with our friends here?’
‘We can stop in this house, I suppose,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Not a spare bed in the house, my dear sir—not a single bed.’
‘Extremely awkward,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Very,’ said his fellow–voyagers.
‘I have an idea upon this subject,’ said Mr. Pott, ‘which I think may be ver_uccessfully adopted. They have two beds at the Peacock, and I can boldly say, on behalf of Mrs. Pott, that she will be delighted to accommodate Mr. Pickwic_nd any one of his friends, if the other two gentlemen and their servant d_ot object to shifting, as they best can, at the Peacock.’
After repeated pressings on the part of Mr. Pott, and repeated protestation_n that of Mr. Pickwick that he could not think of incommoding or troublin_is amiable wife, it was decided that it was the only feasible arrangemen_hat could be made. So it was made; and after dinner together at the Tow_rms, the friends separated, Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass repairing to th_eacock, and Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Winkle proceeding to the mansion of Mr.
Pott; it having been previously arranged that they should all reassemble a_he Town Arms in the morning, and accompany the Honourable Samuel Slumkey’_rocession to the place of nomination.
Mr. Pott’s domestic circle was limited to himself and his wife. All men who_ighty genius has raised to a proud eminence in the world, have usually som_ittle weakness which appears the more conspicuous from the contrast i_resents to their general character. If Mr. Pott had a weakness, it was, perhaps, that he was rather too submissive to the somewhat contemptuou_ontrol and sway of his wife. We do not feel justified in laying an_articular stress upon the fact, because on the present occasion all Mrs.
Pott’s most winning ways were brought into requisition to receive the tw_entlemen.
‘My dear,’ said Mr. Pott, ‘Mr. Pickwick—Mr. Pickwick of London.’
Mrs. Pott received Mr. Pickwick’s paternal grasp of the hand with enchantin_weetness; and Mr. Winkle, who had not been announced at all, sidled an_owed, unnoticed, in an obscure corner.
‘P. my dear’—said Mrs. Pott.
‘My life,’ said Mr. Pott.
‘Pray introduce the other gentleman.’
‘I beg a thousand pardons,’ said Mr. Pott. ‘Permit me, Mrs. Pott, Mr.—’
‘Winkle,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Winkle,’ echoed Mr. Pott; and the ceremony of introduction was complete.
‘We owe you many apologies, ma’am,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘for disturbing you_omestic arrangements at so short a notice.’
‘I beg you won’t mention it, sir,’ replied the feminine Pott, with vivacity.
‘It is a high treat to me, I assure you, to see any new faces; living as I do, from day to day, and week to week, in this dull place, and seeing nobody.’
‘Nobody, my dear!’ exclaimed Mr. Pott archly.
‘Nobody but you,’ retorted Mrs. Pott, with asperity.
‘You see, Mr. Pickwick,’ said the host in explanation of his wife’s lament, ‘that we are in some measure cut off from many enjoyments and pleasures o_hich we might otherwise partake. My public station, as editor of th_atanswill Gazette, the position which that paper holds in the country, m_onstant immersion in the vortex of politics—’
‘P. my dear—’ interposed Mrs. Pott.
‘My life—’ said the editor.
‘I wish, my dear, you would endeavour to find some topic of conversation i_hich these gentlemen might take some rational interest.’
‘But, my love,’ said Mr. Pott, with great humility, ‘Mr. Pickwick does take a_nterest in it.’
‘It’s well for him if he can,’ said Mrs. Pott emphatically; ‘I am wearied ou_f my life with your politics, and quarrels with the Independent, an_onsense. I am quite astonished, P., at your making such an exhibition of you_bsurdity.’
‘But, my dear—’ said Mr. Pott.
‘Oh, nonsense, don’t talk to me,’ said Mrs. Pott. ‘Do you play ecarte, Sir?’
‘I shall be very happy to learn under your tuition,’ replied Mr. Winkle.
‘Well, then, draw that little table into this window, and let me get out o_earing of those prosy politics.’
‘Jane,’ said Mr. Pott, to the servant who brought in candles, ‘go down int_he office, and bring me up the file of the Gazette for eighteen hundred an_wenty–six. I’ll read you,’ added the editor, turning to Mr. Pickwick—‘I’l_ust read you a few of the leaders I wrote at that time upon the Buff job o_ppointing a new tollman to the turnpike here; I rather think they’ll amus_ou.’
‘I should like to hear them very much indeed,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
Up came the file, and down sat the editor, with Mr. Pickwick at his side.
We have in vain pored over the leaves of Mr. Pickwick’s note–book, in the hop_f meeting with a general summary of these beautiful compositions. We hav_very reason to believe that he was perfectly enraptured with the vigour an_reshness of the style; indeed Mr. Winkle has recorded the fact that his eye_ere closed, as if with excess of pleasure, during the whole time of thei_erusal.
The announcement of supper put a stop both to the game of ecarte, and th_ecapitulation of the beauties of the Eatanswill Gazette. Mrs. Pott was in th_ighest spirits and the most agreeable humour. Mr. Winkle had already mad_onsiderable progress in her good opinion, and she did not hesitate to infor_im, confidentially, that Mr. Pickwick was ‘a delightful old dear.’ Thes_erms convey a familiarity of expression, in which few of those who wer_ntimately acquainted with that colossal–minded man, would have presumed t_ndulge. We have preserved them, nevertheless, as affording at once a touchin_nd a convincing proof of the estimation in which he was held by every clas_f society, and the case with which he made his way to their hearts an_eelings.
It was a late hour of the night—long after Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass ha_allen asleep in the inmost recesses of the Peacock—when the two friend_etired to rest. Slumber soon fell upon the senses of Mr. Winkle, but hi_eelings had been excited, and his admiration roused; and for many hours afte_leep had rendered him insensible to earthly objects, the face and figure o_he agreeable Mrs. Pott presented themselves again and again to his wanderin_magination.
The noise and bustle which ushered in the morning were sufficient to dispe_rom the mind of the most romantic visionary in existence, any association_ut those which were immediately connected with the rapidly–approachin_lection. The beating of drums, the blowing of horns and trumpets, th_houting of men, and tramping of horses, echoed and re—echoed through th_treets from the earliest dawn of day; and an occasional fight between th_ight skirmishers of either party at once enlivened the preparations, an_greeably diversified their character. ‘Well, Sam,’ said Mr. Pickwick, as hi_alet appeared at his bedroom door, just as he was concluding his toilet; ‘al_live to–day, I suppose?’
‘Reg’lar game, sir,’ replied Mr. Weller; ‘our people’s a–collecting down a_he Town Arms, and they’re a–hollering themselves hoarse already.’
‘Ah,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘do they seem devoted to their party, Sam?’
‘Never see such dewotion in my life, Sir.’
‘Energetic, eh?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Uncommon,’ replied Sam; ‘I never see men eat and drink so much afore. _onder they ain’t afeer’d o’ bustin’.’
‘That’s the mistaken kindness of the gentry here,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Wery likely,’ replied Sam briefly.
‘Fine, fresh, hearty fellows they seem,’ said Mr. Pickwick, glancing from th_indow.
‘Wery fresh,’ replied Sam; ‘me and the two waiters at the Peacock has bee_–pumpin’ over the independent woters as supped there last night.’
‘Pumping over independent voters!’ exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.
‘Yes,’ said his attendant, ‘every man slept vere he fell down; we dragged ’e_ut, one by one, this mornin’, and put ’em under the pump, and they’re i_eg’lar fine order now. Shillin’ a head the committee paid for that ‘ere job.’
‘Can such things be!’ exclaimed the astonished Mr. Pickwick.
‘Lord bless your heart, sir,’ said Sam, ‘why where was you hal_aptised?—that’s nothin’, that ain’t.’
‘Nothing?‘said Mr. Pickwick. ‘Nothin’ at all, Sir,’ replied his attendant.
‘The night afore the last day o’ the last election here, the opposite part_ribed the barmaid at the Town Arms, to hocus the brandy–and–water of fourtee_npolled electors as was a–stoppin’ in the house.’
‘What do you mean by “hocussing” brandy–and–water?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.
‘Puttin’ laud’num in it,’ replied Sam. ‘Blessed if she didn’t send ’em all t_leep till twelve hours arter the election was over. They took one man up t_he booth, in a truck, fast asleep, by way of experiment, but it was n_o—they wouldn’t poll him; so they brought him back, and put him to be_gain.’ ‘Strange practices, these,’ said Mr. Pickwick; half speaking t_imself and half addressing Sam.
‘Not half so strange as a miraculous circumstance as happened to my ow_ather, at an election time, in this wery place, Sir,’ replied Sam.
‘What was that?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.
‘Why, he drove a coach down here once,’ said Sam; ‘‘lection time came on, an_e was engaged by vun party to bring down woters from London. Night afore h_as going to drive up, committee on t’ other side sends for him quietly, an_way he goes vith the messenger, who shows him in;—large room—lots o_en’l’m’n—heaps of papers, pens and ink, and all that ‘ere. “Ah, Mr. Weller,” says the gen’l’m’n in the chair, “glad to see you, sir; how are you?”—“Wer_ell, thank ‘ee, Sir,” says my father; “I hope you’re pretty middlin,” say_e.—“Pretty well, thank’ee, Sir,” says the gen’l’m’n; “sit down, Mr.
Weller—pray sit down, sir.” So my father sits down, and he and the gen’l’m’_ooks wery hard at each other. “You don’t remember me?” said th_en’l’m’n.—“Can’t say I do,” says my father.—“Oh, I know you,” says th_en’l’m’n: “know’d you when you was a boy,” says he.—“Well, I don’t remembe_ou,” says my father.—“That’s wery odd,” says the gen’l’m’n.”—“Wery,” says m_ather.—“You must have a bad mem’ry, Mr. Weller,” says the gen’l’m’n.—“Well, it is a wery bad ’un,” says my father.—“I thought so,” says the gen’l’m’n. S_hen they pours him out a glass of wine, and gammons him about his driving, and gets him into a reg’lar good humour, and at last shoves a twenty–poun_ote into his hand. “It’s a wery bad road between this and London,” says th_en’l’m’n.—“Here and there it is a heavy road,” says my father.—” ‘Speciall_ear the canal, I think,” says the gen’l’m’n.—“Nasty bit that ‘ere,” says m_ather.—“Well, Mr. Weller,” says the gen’l’m’n, “you’re a wery good whip, an_an do what you like with your horses, we know. We’re all wery fond o’ you, Mr. Weller, so in case you should have an accident when you’re bringing thes_ere woters down, and should tip ’em over into the canal vithout hurtin’ of ’em, this is for yourself,” says he.—“Gen’l’m’n, you’re wery kind,” says m_ather, “and I’ll drink your health in another glass of wine,” says he; vic_e did, and then buttons up the money, and bows himself out. You wouldn’_elieve, sir,’ continued Sam, with a look of inexpressible impudence at hi_aster, ‘that on the wery day as he came down with them woters, his coach wa_pset on that ‘ere wery spot, and ev’ry man on ’em was turned into the canal.’
‘And got out again?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick hastily.
‘Why,’ replied Sam very slowly, ‘I rather think one old gen’l’m’n was missin’; I know his hat was found, but I ain’t quite certain whether his head was in i_r not. But what I look at is the hex–traordinary and wonderful coincidence, that arter what that gen’l’m’n said, my father’s coach should be upset in tha_ery place, and on that wery day!’
‘it is, no doubt, a very extraordinary circumstance indeed,’ said Mr.
Pickwick. ‘But brush my hat, Sam, for I hear Mr. Winkle calling me t_reakfast.’
With these words Mr. Pickwick descended to the parlour, where he foun_reakfast laid, and the family already assembled. The meal was hastil_espatched; each of the gentlemen’s hats was decorated with an enormous blu_avour, made up by the fair hands of Mrs. Pott herself; and as Mr. Winkle ha_ndertaken to escort that lady to a house–top, in the immediate vicinity o_he hustings, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Pott repaired alone to the Town Arms, fro_he back window of which, one of Mr. Slumkey’s committee was addressing si_mall boys and one girl, whom he dignified, at every second sentence, with th_mposing title of ‘Men of Eatanswill,’ whereat the six small boys aforesai_heered prodigiously.
The stable–yard exhibited unequivocal symptoms of the glory and strength o_he Eatanswill Blues. There was a regular army of blue flags, some with on_andle, and some with two, exhibiting appropriate devices, in golde_haracters four feet high, and stout in proportion. There was a grand band o_rumpets, bassoons, and drums, marshalled four abreast, and earning thei_oney, if ever men did, especially the drum–beaters, who were very muscular.
There were bodies of constables with blue staves, twenty committee–men wit_lue scarfs, and a mob of voters with blue cockades. There were electors o_orseback and electors afoot. There was an open carriage–and–four, for th_onourable Samuel Slumkey; and there were four carriage–and–pair, for hi_riends and supporters; and the flags were rustling, and the band was playing, and the constables were swearing, and the twenty committee–men wer_quabbling, and the mob were shouting, and the horses were backing, and th_ost–boys perspiring; and everybody, and everything, then and there assembled, was for the special use, behoof, honour, and renown, of the Honourable Samue_lumkey, of Slumkey Hall, one of the candidates for the representation of th_orough of Eatanswill, in the Commons House of Parliament of the Unite_ingdom. Loud and long were the cheers, and mighty was the rustling of one o_he blue flags, with ‘Liberty of the Press’ inscribed thereon, when the sand_ead of Mr. Pott was discerned in one of the windows, by the mob beneath; an_remendous was the enthusiasm when the Honourable Samuel Slumkey himself, i_op–boots, and a blue neckerchief, advanced and seized the hand of the sai_ott, and melodramatically testified by gestures to the crowd, hi_neffaceable obligations to the Eatanswill Gazette.
‘Is everything ready?’ said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey to Mr. Perker.
‘Everything, my dear Sir,’ was the little man’s reply.
‘Nothing has been omitted, I hope?’ said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey.
‘Nothing has been left undone, my dear sir—nothing whatever. There are twent_ashed men at the street door for you to shake hands with; and six children i_rms that you’re to pat on the head, and inquire the age of; be particula_bout the children, my dear sir—it has always a great effect, that sort o_hing.’
‘I’ll take care,’ said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey.
‘And, perhaps, my dear Sir,’ said the cautious little man, ‘perhaps if yo_ould—I don’t mean to say it’s indispensable—but if you could manage to kis_ne of ’em, it would produce a very great impression on the crowd.’
‘Wouldn’t it have as good an effect if the proposer or seconder did that?’ said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey.
‘Why, I am afraid it wouldn’t,’ replied the agent; ‘if it were done b_ourself, my dear Sir, I think it would make you very popular.’
‘Very well,’ said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, with a resigned air, ‘then i_ust be done. That’s all.’
‘Arrange the procession,’ cried the twenty committee–men.
Amidst the cheers of the assembled throng, the band, and the constables, an_he committee–men, and the voters, and the horsemen, and the carriages, too_heir places—each of the two–horse vehicles being closely packed with as man_entlemen as could manage to stand upright in it; and that assigned to Mr.
Perker, containing Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and about half _ozen of the committee besides.
There was a moment of awful suspense as the procession waited for th_onourable Samuel Slumkey to step into his carriage. Suddenly the crowd set u_ great cheering.
‘He has come out,’ said little Mr. Perker, greatly excited; the more so a_heir position did not enable them to see what was going forward.
Another cheer, much louder.
‘He has shaken hands with the men,’ cried the little agent.
Another cheer, far more vehement.
‘He has patted the babies on the head,’ said Mr. Perker, trembling wit_nxiety.
A roar of applause that rent the air.
‘He has kissed one of ’em!’ exclaimed the delighted little man.
A second roar.
‘He has kissed another,’ gasped the excited manager.
A third roar.
‘He’s kissing ’em all!’ screamed the enthusiastic little gentleman, and haile_y the deafening shouts of the multitude, the procession moved on.
How or by what means it became mixed up with the other procession, and how i_as ever extricated from the confusion consequent thereupon, is more than w_an undertake to describe, inasmuch as Mr. Pickwick’s hat was knocked over hi_yes, nose, and mouth, by one poke of a Buff flag–staff, very early in th_roceedings. He describes himself as being surrounded on every side, when h_ould catch a glimpse of the scene, by angry and ferocious countenances, by _ast cloud of dust, and by a dense crowd of combatants. He represents himsel_s being forced from the carriage by some unseen power, and being personall_ngaged in a pugilistic encounter; but with whom, or how, or why, he is wholl_nable to state. He then felt himself forced up some wooden steps by th_ersons from behind; and on removing his hat, found himself surrounded by hi_riends, in the very front of the left hand side of the hustings. The righ_as reserved for the Buff party, and the centre for the mayor and hi_fficers; one of whom—the fat crier of Eatanswill—was ringing an enormou_ell, by way of commanding silence, while Mr. Horatio Fizkin, and th_onourable Samuel Slumkey, with their hands upon their hearts, were bowin_ith the utmost affability to the troubled sea of heads that inundated th_pen space in front; and from whence arose a storm of groans, and shouts, an_ells, and hootings, that would have done honour to an earthquake.
‘There’s Winkle,’ said Mr. Tupman, pulling his friend by the sleeve.
‘Where!’ said Mr. Pickwick, putting on his spectacles, which he ha_ortunately kept in his pocket hitherto. ‘There,’ said Mr. Tupman, ‘on the to_f that house.’ And there, sure enough, in the leaden gutter of a tiled roof, were Mr. Winkle and Mrs. Pott, comfortably seated in a couple of chairs, waving their handkerchiefs in token of recognition—a compliment which Mr.
Pickwick returned by kissing his hand to the lady.
The proceedings had not yet commenced; and as an inactive crowd is generall_isposed to be jocose, this very innocent action was sufficient to awake_heir facetiousness.
‘Oh, you wicked old rascal,’ cried one voice, ‘looking arter the girls, ar_ou?’
‘Oh, you wenerable sinner,’ cried another.
‘Putting on his spectacles to look at a married ‘ooman!’ said a third.
‘I see him a–winkin’ at her, with his wicked old eye,’ shouted a fourth.
‘Look arter your wife, Pott,’ bellowed a fifth—and then there was a roar o_aughter.
As these taunts were accompanied with invidious comparisons between Mr.
Pickwick and an aged ram, and several witticisms of the like nature; and a_hey moreover rather tended to convey reflections upon the honour of a_nnocent lady, Mr. Pickwick’s indignation was excessive; but as silence wa_roclaimed at the moment, he contented himself by scorching the mob with _ook of pity for their misguided minds, at which they laughed mor_oisterously than ever.
‘Silence!’ roared the mayor’s attendants.
‘Whiffin, proclaim silence,’ said the mayor, with an air of pomp befitting hi_ofty station. In obedience to this command the crier performed anothe_oncerto on the bell, whereupon a gentleman in the crowd called out ‘Muffins’; which occasioned another laugh.
‘Gentlemen,’ said the mayor, at as loud a pitch as he could possibly force hi_oice to—‘gentlemen. Brother electors of the borough of Eatanswill. We are me_ere to–day for the purpose of choosing a representative in the room of ou_ate—’
Here the mayor was interrupted by a voice in the crowd.
‘Suc–cess to the mayor!’ cried the voice, ‘and may he never desert the nai_nd sarspan business, as he got his money by.’
This allusion to the professional pursuits of the orator was received with _torm of delight, which, with a bell–accompaniment, rendered the remainder o_is speech inaudible, with the exception of the concluding sentence, in whic_e thanked the meeting for the patient attention with which they heard hi_hroughout—an expression of gratitude which elicited another burst of mirth, of about a quarter of an hour’s duration.
Next, a tall, thin gentleman, in a very stiff white neckerchief, after bein_epeatedly desired by the crowd to ‘send a boy home, to ask whether he hadn’_eft his voice under the pillow,’ begged to nominate a fit and proper perso_o represent them in Parliament. And when he said it was Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, near Eatanswill, the Fizkinites applauded, and th_lumkeyites groaned, so long, and so loudly, that both he and the seconde_ight have sung comic songs in lieu of speaking, without anybody’s being a bi_he wiser.
The friends of Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, having had their innings, a littl_holeric, pink–faced man stood forward to propose another fit and prope_erson to represent the electors of Eatanswill in Parliament; and ver_wimmingly the pink–faced gentleman would have got on, if he had not bee_ather too choleric to entertain a sufficient perception of the fun of th_rowd. But after a very few sentences of figurative eloquence, the pink–face_entleman got from denouncing those who interrupted him in the mob, t_xchanging defiances with the gentlemen on the hustings; whereupon arose a_proar which reduced him to the necessity of expressing his feelings b_erious pantomime, which he did, and then left the stage to his seconder, wh_elivered a written speech of half an hour’s length, and wouldn’t be stopped, because he had sent it all to the Eatanswill Gazette, and the Eatanswil_azette had already printed it, every word.
Then Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, near Eatanswill, presente_imself for the purpose of addressing the electors; which he no sooner did, than the band employed by the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, commenced performin_ith a power to which their strength in the morning was a trifle; in retur_or which, the Buff crowd belaboured the heads and shoulders of the Blu_rowd; on which the Blue crowd endeavoured to dispossess themselves of thei_ery unpleasant neighbours the Buff crowd; and a scene of struggling, an_ushing, and fighting, succeeded, to which we can no more do justice than th_ayor could, although he issued imperative orders to twelve constables t_eize the ringleaders, who might amount in number to two hundred and fifty, o_hereabouts. At all these encounters, Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizki_odge, and his friends, waxed fierce and furious; until at last Horati_izkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, begged to ask his opponent, the Honourabl_amuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, whether that band played by his consent; which question the Honourable Samuel Slumkey declining to answer, Horati_izkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, shook his fist in the countenance of th_onourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall; upon which the Honourable Samue_lumkey, his blood being up, defied Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, to mortal combat.
At this violation of all known rules and precedents of order, the mayo_ommanded another fantasia on the bell, and declared that he would brin_efore himself, both Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, and th_onourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, and bind them over to keep th_eace. Upon this terrific denunciation, the supporters of the two candidate_nterfered, and after the friends of each party had quarrelled in pairs, fo_hree–quarters of an hour, Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, touched his hat to th_onourable Samuel Slumkey; the Honourable Samuel Slumkey touched his t_oratio Fizkin, Esquire; the band was stopped; the crowd were partiall_uieted; and Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, was permitted to proceed.
The speeches of the two candidates, though differing in every other respect, afforded a beautiful tribute to the merit and high worth of the electors o_atanswill. Both expressed their opinion that a more independent, a mor_nlightened, a more public–spirited, a more noble–minded, a more disintereste_et of men than those who had promised to vote for him, never existed o_arth; each darkly hinted his suspicions that the electors in the opposit_nterest had certain swinish and besotted infirmities which rendered the_nfit for the exercise of the important duties they were called upon t_ischarge. Fizkin expressed his readiness to do anything he was wanted: Slumkey, his determination to do nothing that was asked of him. Both said tha_he trade, the manufactures, the commerce, the prosperity of Eatanswill, woul_ver be dearer to their hearts than any earthly object; and each had it in hi_ower to state, with the utmost confidence, that he was the man who woul_ventually be returned.
There was a show of hands; the mayor decided in favour of the Honourabl_amuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall. Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, demanded a poll, and a poll was fixed accordingly. Then a vote of thanks wa_oved to the mayor for his able conduct in the chair; and the mayor, devoutl_ishing that he had had a chair to display his able conduct in (for he ha_een standing during the whole proceedings), returned thanks. The procession_eformed, the carriages rolled slowly through the crowd, and its member_creeched and shouted after them as their feelings or caprice dictated.
During the whole time of the polling, the town was in a perpetual fever o_xcitement. Everything was conducted on the most liberal and delightful scale.
Excisable articles were remarkably cheap at all the public–houses; and sprin_ans paraded the streets for the accommodation of voters who were seized wit_ny temporary dizziness in the head—an epidemic which prevailed among th_lectors, during the contest, to a most alarming extent, and under th_nfluence of which they might frequently be seen lying on the pavements in _tate of utter insensibility. A small body of electors remained unpolled o_he very last day. They were calculating and reflecting persons, who had no_et been convinced by the arguments of either party, although they ha_requent conferences with each. One hour before the close of the poll, Mr.
Perker solicited the honour of a private interview with these intelligent, these noble, these patriotic men. it was granted. His arguments were brief bu_atisfactory. They went in a body to the poll; and when they returned, th_onourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, was returned also.