The Pickwick Papers By Charles Dickens Chapters 22-25


Violent was Mr. Weller's indignation as he was borne along; numerous were the allusions to the personal appearance and demeanour of Mr. Grummer and his companion; and valorous were the defiances to any six of the gentlemen present, in which he vented his dissatisfaction. Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle listened with gloomy respect to the torrent of eloquence which their leader poured forth from the sedan-chair, and the rapid course of which not all Mr. Tupman's earnest entreaties to have the lid of the vehicle closed, were able to check for an instant. But Mr. Weller's anger quickly gave way to curiosity when the procession turned down the identical courtyard in which he had met with the runaway Job Trotter; and curiosity was exchanged for a feeling of the most gleeful astonishment, when the all-important Mr. Grummer, commanding the sedan-bearers to halt, advanced with dignified and portentous steps to the very green gate from which Job Trotter had emerged, and gave a mighty pull at the bell-handle which hung at the side thereof. The ring was answered by a very smart and pretty-faced servant-girl, who, after holding up her hands in astonishment at the rebellious appearance of the prisoners, and the impassioned language of Mr. Pickwick, summoned Mr. Muzzle. Mr. Muzzle opened one half of the carriage gate, to admit the sedan, the captured ones, and the specials; and immediately slammed it in the faces of the mob, who, indignant at being excluded, and anxious to see what followed, relieved their feelings by kicking at the gate and ringing the bell, for an hour or two afterwards. In this amusement they all took part by turns, except three or four fortunate individuals, who, having discovered a grating in the gate, which commanded a view of nothing, stared through it with the indefatigable perseverance with which people will flatten their noses against the front windows of a chemist's shop, when a drunken man, who has been run over by a dog-cart in the street, is undergoing a surgical inspection in the back-parlour.

At the foot of a flight of steps, leading to the house door, which was guarded on either side by an American aloe in a green tub, the sedan-chair stopped. Mr. Pickwick and his friends were conducted into the hall, whence, having been previously announced by Muzzle, and ordered in by Mr. Nupkins, they were ushered into the worshipful presence of that public-spirited officer.

The scene was an impressive one, well calculated to strike terror to the hearts of culprits, and to impress them with an adequate idea of the stern majesty of the law. In front of a big book-case, in a big chair, behind a big table, and before a big volume, sat Mr. Nupkins, looking a full size larger than any one of them, big as they were. The table was adorned with piles of papers; and above the farther end of it, appeared the head and shoulders of Mr. Jinks, who was busily engaged in looking as busy as possible. The party having all entered, Muzzle carefully closed the door, and placed himself behind his master's chair to await his orders. Mr. Nupkins threw himself back with thrilling solemnity, and scrutinised the faces of his unwilling visitors.

'Now, Grummer, who is that person?' said Mr. Nupkins, pointing to Mr. Pickwick, who, as the spokesman of his friends, stood hat in hand, bowing with the utmost politeness and respect.

'This here's Pickvick, your Wash-up,' said Grummer.

'Come, none o' that 'ere, old Strike-a-light,' interposed Mr. Weller, elbowing himself into the front rank. 'Beg your pardon, sir, but this here officer o' yourn in the gambooge tops, 'ull never earn a decent livin' as a master o' the ceremonies any vere. This here, sir' continued Mr. Weller, thrusting Grummer aside, and addressing the magistrate with pleasant familiarity, 'this here is S. Pickvick, Esquire; this here's Mr. Tupman; that 'ere's Mr. Snodgrass; and farder on, next him on the t'other side, Mr. Winkle — all wery nice gen'l'm'n, Sir, as you'll be wery happy to have the acquaintance on; so the sooner you commits these here officers o' yourn to the tread — mill for a month or two, the sooner we shall begin to be on a pleasant understanding. Business first, pleasure arterwards, as King Richard the Third said when he stabbed the t'other king in the Tower, afore he smothered the babbies.'

At the conclusion of this address, Mr. Weller brushed his hat with his right elbow, and nodded benignly to Jinks, who had heard him throughout with unspeakable awe.

'Who is this man, Grummer?' said the magistrate.

'Wery desp'rate ch'racter, your Wash-up,' replied Grummer. 'He attempted to rescue the prisoners, and assaulted the officers; so we took him into custody, and brought him here.'

'You did quite right,' replied the magistrate. 'He is evidently a desperate ruffian.'

'He is my servant, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick angrily.

'Oh! he is your servant, is he?' said Mr. Nupkins. 'A conspiracy to defeat the ends of justice, and murder its officers. Pickwick's servant. Put that down, Mr. Jinks.'

Mr. Jinks did so.

'What's your name, fellow?' thundered Mr. Nupkins.

'Veller,' replied Sam.

'A very good name for the Newgate Calendar,' said Mr. Nupkins.

This was a joke; so Jinks, Grummer, Dubbley, all the specials, and Muzzle, went into fits of laughter of five minutes' duration.

'Put down his name, Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate.

'Two L's, old feller,' said Sam.

Here an unfortunate special laughed again, whereupon the magistrate threatened to commit him instantly. It is a dangerous thing to laugh at the wrong man, in these cases.

'Where do you live?' said the magistrate.

'Vere ever I can,' replied Sam.

'Put down that, Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate, who was fast rising into a rage.

'Score it under,' said Sam.

'He is a vagabond, Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate. 'He is a vagabond on his own statement, — is he not, Mr. Jinks?'

'Certainly, Sir.'

'Then I'll commit him — I'll commit him as such,' said Mr. Nupkins.

'This is a wery impartial country for justice, 'said Sam.'There ain't a magistrate goin' as don't commit himself twice as he commits other people.'

At this sally another special laughed, and then tried to look so supernaturally solemn, that the magistrate detected him immediately.

'Grummer,' said Mr. Nupkins, reddening with passion, 'how dare you select such an inefficient and disreputable person for a special constable, as that man? How dare you do it, Sir?'

'I am very sorry, your Wash-up,' stammered Grummer.

'Very sorry!' said the furious magistrate. 'You shall repent of this neglect of duty, Mr. Grummer; you shall be made an example of. Take that fellow's staff away. He's drunk. You're drunk, fellow.'

'I am not drunk, your Worship,' said the man.

'You ARE drunk,' returned the magistrate. 'How dare you say you are not drunk, Sir, when I say you are? Doesn't he smell of spirits, Grummer?'

'Horrid, your Wash-up,' replied Grummer, who had a vague impression that there was a smell of rum somewhere.

'I knew he did,' said Mr. Nupkins. 'I saw he was drunk when he first came into the room, by his excited eye. Did you observe his excited eye, Mr. Jinks?'

'Certainly, Sir.'

'I haven't touched a drop of spirits this morning,' said the man, who was as sober a fellow as need be.

'How dare you tell me a falsehood?' said Mr. Nupkins. 'Isn't he drunk at this moment, Mr. Jinks?'

'Certainly, Sir,' replied Jinks.

'Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate, 'I shall commit that man for contempt. Make out his committal, Mr. Jinks.'

And committed the special would have been, only Jinks, who was the magistrate's adviser (having had a legal education of three years in a country attorney's office), whispered the magistrate that he thought it wouldn't do; so the magistrate made a speech, and said, that in consideration of the special's family, he would merely reprimand and discharge him. Accordingly, the special was abused, vehemently, for a quarter of an hour, and sent about his business; and Grummer, Dubbley, Muzzle, and all the other specials, murmured their admiration of the magnanimity of Mr. Nupkins.

'Now, Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate, 'swear Grummer.'

Grummer was sworn directly; but as Grummer wandered, and Mr. Nupkins's dinner was nearly ready, Mr. Nupkins cut the matter short, by putting leading questions to Grummer, which Grummer answered as nearly in the affirmative as he could. So the examination went off, all very smooth and comfortable, and two assaults were proved against Mr. Weller, and a threat against Mr. Winkle, and a push against Mr. Snodgrass. When all this was done to the magistrate's satisfaction, the magistrate and Mr. Jinks consulted in whispers.

The consultation having lasted about ten minutes, Mr. Jinks retired to his end of the table; and the magistrate, with a preparatory cough, drew himself up in his chair, and was proceeding to commence his address, when Mr. Pickwick interposed.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

By the end of the novel, Dickens proposes a viable solution to some of the social problems he addresses, like debtor's prison.