Sunday, May 1, 2016

Pickwick Papers Read-Along Check-in #2: April 2016

 We continue reading just as we would have 180 years ago 
when chapters 3-5 were published. 
Here is the page with all information and the initial posting for Chapters 1-2. 
This Read-Along was the brainchild of O at Behold the Stars!
I am so glad I happened across this event! 
Although I read these three chapters in mid-April, I am just now 
posting my thoughts on the first day of May! Yikes! 
Obviously, my blogging during the month of April was way behind!
Although I read 8 books, I only managed to post reviews of 2! 
These are definitely first-world challenges... And otherwise, life is good! :)

We find a second stranger added to the original party of four: Samuel Pickwick, Esq, G.C.M.P.C. (General Chairman--Member, Pickwick Club), Tracy Tupman, Esq., M.P.C. (M.P.C. = Member Pickwick Club), Augustus Snodgrass, Esq., M.P.C., and Nathaniel Winkle, Esq., M.P.C. Upon Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle's return to the Inn, after a rather lengthy delay during which a dual between Mr. Winkle and Dr. Slammer was barely avoided, a detailed description of this stranger is provided:
It was a care-worn looking man, whose sallow face, and deeply sunken eyes, were rendered still more striking than nature had made them, but the straight black hair which hung in matted disorder half way down his face. His eyes were almost unnaturally bright and piercing; his cheek bones were high and prominent; and his jaws were so long and lank, that an observer would have supposed that he was drawing the flesh of his face in, for a moment, by some contraction of the muscles, if his half-opened mouth and immovable expression had not announced that it was his ordinary appearance. Round his neck he wore a green shawl, with the large ends straggling over his chest, and making their appearance occasionally beneath the worn button-holes of his old waistcoat. His upper garment was a long black surtout; and below it he wore wide drab trousers, and large boots, running rapidly to seed. (33)
I believe I am remembering correctly that Dickens is known for his details and I felt this description certainly proves his skill in this area. A picture immediately formed itself in my mind of this man, whom I might best describe as nearly indigent? It certainly did make me wonder about him and how he would ever 'fit in' with the four Pickwickians! :) 

As I begin reading this installment, I keep wondering when the promised introduction of Dr. Slammer to the other two Pickwickians, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman, would occur, since I couldn't imagine it wouldn't be chaos and turmoil as soon as Dr. Slammer recognized Tupman, as well as the first 'stranger' to join their group, Mr. Jingle. For if he was also present...well...who knows? Would a dual be fought right then and there once Dr. Slammer recognized the person who insulted him and disrupted his intended courtship of the widow at last night's ball? (Mental note: never loan your friend's clothing to a stranger! Who knows what could happen in the aftermath?) :) Of course, both Winkle and Snodgrass are totally ignorant of the fact that Mr. Jingle had worn Mr. Winkle's jacket while causing "injuries" to Dr. Slammer the previous evening!  I was already laughing at the prospect!

And then...just as Mr. PIckwick puts his glass down and opens his mouth in preparation to speak in response to a story told by the new stranger, the waiter enters, announcing, "Some gentlemen, sir." 

It has been conjectured that Mr. Pickwick was on the point of delivering some remarks which would have enlightened the world, if not the Thames, when he was thus interrupted: for he gazed sternly on the waiter's countenance, and then looked round on the company generally, as if seeking for information relative to the new-comers.
'Oh,' said Mr. Winkle, rising, 'some friends of mine--show them in. Very pleasant fellows,' added Mr. Winkle, after the waiter had retired--'Officers of the 97th, whose acquaintance I made rather oddly this morning. You will like them very much.'
Mr. Pickwick's equanimity was at once restored. The waiter returned and ushered three gentlemen into the room. (41)
As you might imagine, it did not take long for Dr. Slammer to recognize both Mr. Tupman and the stranger from the previous evening. Mr. Pickman intervenes, asking Tupman to explain, which he does, leaving the stranger "to clear himself as best he could." After recognizing the stranger as a "strolling actor," Lieutenant Tappleton apologized to Pickwick for placing him in this "disagreeable situation,"
'[A]llow me to suggest, that the best way of avoiding a recurrence of such scenes in the future, will be to be more select in the choice of your companions. Good evening, sir!'
'And allow me to say, sir,' said the irascible Doctor Payne, 'that if I had been Tappleton, or if I had been Slammer, I would have pulled your nose, sir, and the nose of every man in this company. I would, sir, every man. Payne is my name, sir--Doctor Payne of the 43rd. Good evening, sir.' Having concluded this speech and uttered the last three words in a loud key, he stalked majestically after his friend, closely followed by Doctor Slammer, who said nothing, but contented himself by withering the company with a look.
Rising rage and extreme bewilderment had swelled the noble breast of Mr. Pickwick, almost to the bursting of his waistcoat, during the delivery of the above defiance. (43)
Though Pickwick was determined to set out after these three immediately, the others restrained him and eventually "harmony once more prevailed" and "good humour was completely restored." I was snort-laughing during the nose-pulling threat! Really? That's the worse you can think to do? Ha! Ha! It still makes me smile, shake my head, and chuckle! :)

While watching military maneuvers the following day, Pickwick, Snodgrass, and Winkle, actually become 'caught' between two advancing lines of oppositional 'soldiers' and 'shot' with blank cartridges by one line. It is then that Mr. Pickwick's hat blows off and he gives chase, until it finally lodges in a wagon wheel, a wagon upon which Mr. Tupman is sitting. In this wagon sits a stout gentlemen who insists the four join him for a week at his country estate, Manor Farm in Dingley Dell, starting the very next day. Did I mention there are two young ladies in this wagon? I suspect that is what drew Tupman's attention initially. He had been missing from his party most of the day. :)

As these four prepare to start out the next morning, they realize there is no conveyance that will hold all four of them--three at the most. It is decided by Pickwick that Winkle shall ride alongside on horseback. Though Winkle sincerely doubts his "equestrian" skill, he reluctantly agrees, determined that no one should no of his hesitancy. Then Pickwick is assured he can drive the coach due to the calm nature of the horse. And off they go. Winkle is not having a good time of it, as his mount is moving down the road sideways. Pickwick drops his whip and Winkle, being the good sport he is, stops, dismounts, and returns the whip to Pickwick. However, his mount is determined NOT to allow Winkle up on his back again, and when both Winkle and Pickwick are trying to stop his movement, Winkle lets go, and off the horse goes, retracing his steps back to Rochester, from which they had set out... At that exact moment, the other horse tore off at great speed, 
...dashed the four-wheeled chaise against a wooden bridge, separated the wheels from the body, and the bin from the perch; and finally stood stock still to gaze upon the ruin he had made. (63)
Fortunately, both Tupman and Snodgrass had managed to throw themselves out of the vehicle prior to the crash and were not injured "beyond sundry rents in their garments, and various lacerations from the brambles." They unhitch the horse from the now wrecked chaise, and walk in the direction of Manor Farm, leading the horse along. Within an hour's walk they come upon a road-side public-house and try to leave the horse there, but the owners believe they've stolen the beast and will not take it. 
'It's like a dream' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, 'a hideous dream. The idea of a man's walking about, all day, with a dreadful horse that he can't get rid of!' The depressed Pickwickians turned moodily away, with the tall quadruped, for which they all felt the most unmitigated disgust, 
following slowly at their heels. (64) 
Ha! This group is hopeless! It was late in the afternoon when they finally turned into the lane leading to Manor Farm.
[T]he pleasure they would otherwise have experienced was materially damped as they reflected 
on the singularity of their appearance, and the absurdity of their situation. 
Torn clothes, lacerated faces, dusty shoes, exhausted looks, and, above all, the horse. (65)
What a motley crew! :) Their host made certain the four men were sufficiently "washed, mended, brushed, and brandied," before leading them down several dark passages, throwing open a door and announcing, 'Welcome, gentleman, to Manor Farm." 
I can only imagine the adventures that await these four at this country estate!
This is such a fun read!
Have you joined in or read it before?
Chapters 6-8 await us in May. :)


  1. Love to see pomposity compromised. Great review.

    1. One of my favorite things!! :) Thanks for stopping by!