The noise and bustle which ushered in the morning were sufficient to dispel from the mind of the most romantic visionary in existence, any associations but those which were immediately connected with the rapidly-approaching election. The beating of drums, the blowing of horns and trumpets, the shouting of men, and tramping of horses, echoed and re — echoed through the streets from the earliest dawn of day; and an occasional fight between the light skirmishers of either party at once enlivened the preparations, and agreeably diversified their character. 'Well, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, as his valet appeared at his bedroom door, just as he was concluding his toilet; 'all alive to-day, I suppose?'
'Reg'lar game, sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'our people's a-collecting down at the 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. I wonder 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 the window.
'Wery fresh,' replied Sam; 'me and the two waiters at the Peacock has been a-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 'em out, one by one, this mornin', and put 'em under the pump, and they're in reg'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 half baptised? — 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 party bribed the barmaid at the Town Arms, to hocus the brandy-and-water of fourteen unpolled 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 to sleep till twelve hours arter the election was over. They took one man up to the booth, in a truck, fast asleep, by way of experiment, but it was no go — they wouldn't poll him; so they brought him back, and put him to bed again.' 'Strange practices, these,' said Mr. Pickwick; half speaking to himself and half addressing Sam.
'Not half so strange as a miraculous circumstance as happened to my own father, 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, and he was engaged by vun party to bring down woters from London. Night afore he was going to drive up, committee on t' other side sends for him quietly, and away he goes vith the messenger, who shows him in; — large room — lots of gen'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?" — "Wery well, thank 'ee, Sir," says my father; "I hope you're pretty middlin," says he. — "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'n looks wery hard at each other. "You don't remember me?" said the gen'l'm'n. — "Can't say I do," says my father. — "Oh, I know you," says the gen'l'm'n: "know'd you when you was a boy," says he. — "Well, I don't remember you," says my father. — "That's wery odd," says the gen'l'm'n." — "Wery," says my father. — "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. So then 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-pound note into his hand. "It's a wery bad road between this and London," says the gen'l'm'n. — "Here and there it is a heavy road," says my father. — " 'Specially near the canal, I think," says the gen'l'm'n. — "Nasty bit that 'ere," says my father. — "Well, Mr. Weller," says the gen'l'm'n, "you're a wery good whip, and can 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 these here 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 my father, "and I'll drink your health in another glass of wine," says he; vich he did, and then buttons up the money, and bows himself out. You wouldn't believe, sir,' continued Sam, with a look of inexpressible impudence at his master, 'that on the wery day as he came down with them woters, his coach WAS upset 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 it or 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 that wery 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 to breakfast.'
With these words Mr. Pickwick descended to the parlour, where he found breakfast laid, and the family already assembled. The meal was hastily despatched; each of the gentlemen's hats was decorated with an enormous blue favour, made up by the fair hands of Mrs. Pott herself; and as Mr. Winkle had undertaken to escort that lady to a house-top, in the immediate vicinity of the hustings, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Pott repaired alone to the Town Arms, from the back window of which, one of Mr. Slumkey's committee was addressing six small boys and one girl, whom he dignified, at every second sentence, with the imposing title of 'Men of Eatanswill,' whereat the six small boys aforesaid cheered prodigiously.
The stable-yard exhibited unequivocal symptoms of the glory and strength of the Eatanswill Blues. There was a regular army of blue flags, some with one handle, and some with two, exhibiting appropriate devices, in golden characters four feet high, and stout in proportion. There was a grand band of trumpets, bassoons, and drums, marshalled four abreast, and earning their money, if ever men did, especially the drum-beaters, who were very muscular. There were bodies of constables with blue staves, twenty committee-men with blue scarfs, and a mob of voters with blue cockades. There were electors on horseback and electors afoot. There was an open carriage-and-four, for the Honourable Samuel Slumkey; and there were four carriage-and-pair, for his friends and supporters; and the flags were rustling, and the band was playing, and the constables were swearing, and the twenty committee-men were squabbling, and the mob were shouting, and the horses were backing, and the post-boys perspiring; and everybody, and everything, then and there assembled, was for the special use, behoof, honour, and renown, of the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, one of the candidates for the representation of the borough of Eatanswill, in the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom. Loud and long were the cheers, and mighty was the rustling of one of the blue flags, with 'Liberty of the Press' inscribed thereon, when the sandy head of Mr. Pott was discerned in one of the windows, by the mob beneath; and tremendous was the enthusiasm when the Honourable Samuel Slumkey himself, in top-boots, and a blue neckerchief, advanced and seized the hand of the said Pott, and melodramatically testified by gestures to the crowd, his ineffaceable 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 twenty washed men at the street door for you to shake hands with; and six children in arms that you're to pat on the head, and inquire the age of; be particular about the children, my dear sir — it has always a great effect, that sort of thing.'
'I'll take care,' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey.
'And, perhaps, my dear Sir,' said the cautious little man, 'perhaps if you could — I don't mean to say it's indispensable — but if you could manage to kiss one 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 by yourself, my dear Sir, I think it would make you very popular.'
'Very well,' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, with a resigned air, 'then it must 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, and the committee-men, and the voters, and the horsemen, and the carriages, took their places — each of the two-horse vehicles being closely packed with as many gentlemen as could manage to stand upright in it; and that assigned to Mr. Perker, containing Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and about half a dozen of the committee besides.
There was a moment of awful suspense as the procession waited for the Honourable Samuel Slumkey to step into his carriage. Suddenly the crowd set up a great cheering.
'He has come out,' said little Mr. Perker, greatly excited; the more so as their 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 with anxiety.
A roar of applause that rent the air.
'He has kissed one of 'em!' exclaimed the delighted little man.
A second roar.