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The Pickwick Papers 210







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with increased violence; and, throwing himself back in his easy-chair, coughed dubiously. These tokens of the Serjeants presentiments on the subject, slight as they were, were not lost on Mr. Pickwick. He settled the spectacles, through which he had attentively regarded such demonstrations of the barristers feelings as he had permitted himself to exhibit, more firmly on his nose; and said with great energy, and in utter disregard of all Mr. Perkers admonitory winkings and frownings-- My wishing to wait upon you, for such a purpose as this, Sir, appears, I have no doubt, to a gentleman who sees so much of these matters as you must necessarily do, a very extraordinary circumstance. The Serjeant tried to look gravely at the fire, but the smile came back again. Gentlemen of your profession, Sir, continued Mr. Pickwick, see the worst side of human nature. All its disputes, all its ill-will and bad blood, rise up before you. You know from your experience of juries (I mean no disparagement to you, or them) how much depends upon effect; and you are apt to attribute to others, a desire to use, for purposes of deception and Self-interest, the very instruments which you, in pure honesty and honour of purpose, and with a laudable desire to do your utmost for your client, know the temper and worth of so well, from constantly employing them yourselves. I really believe that to this circumstance may be attributed the vulgar but very general notion of your being, as a body, suspicious, distrustful, and over-cautious. Conscious as I am, sir, of the disadvantage of making such a declaration to you, under such circumstances, I have come here, because I wish you distinctly to understand, as my friend Mr. Perker has said, that I am innocent of the falsehood laid to my charge; and although I am very well aware of the inestimable value of your assistance, Sir, I must beg to add, that unless you sincerely believe this, I would rather be deprived of the aid of your talents than have the advantage of them. Long before the close of this address, which we are bound to say was of a very prosy character for Mr. Pickwick, the Serjeant had relapsed into a state of abstraction. After some minutes, however, during which he had reassumed his pen, he appeared to be again aware of the presence of his clients; raising his head from the paper, he said, rather snappishly-- Who is with me in this case? Mr. Phunky, Serjeant Snubbin, replied the attorney. Phunky--Phunky, said the Serjeant, I never heard the name before. He must be a very young man. Yes, he is a very young man, replied the attorney. He was only called the other day. Let me see--he has not been at the Bar eight years yet. Ah, I thought not, said the Serjeant, in that sort of pitying tone in which ordinary folks would speak of a very helpless little child. Mr. Mallard, send round to Mr.--Mr.-- Phunkys-- Holborn Court, Grays Inn, interposed Perker. (Holborn Court, by the bye, is South Square now.) Mr. Phunky, and say I should be glad if hed step here, a moment. Mr. Mallard departed to execute his commission; and Serjeant Snubbin relapsed into abstraction until Mr. Phunky himself was introduced. Although an infant barrister, he was a full-grown man. He had a very nervous manner, and a painful hesitation in his speech; it did not appear to be a natural defect, but seemed rather the result of timidity, arising from the consciousness of being kept down by want of means, or interest, or connection, or impudence, as the case might be. He was overawed by the Serjeant, and profoundly courteous to the attorney. I have not had the pleasure of seeing you before, Mr. Phunky, said Serjeant Snubbin, with haughty condescension. Mr. Phunky bowed. He HAD had the pleasure of seeing the Serjeant, and of envying him too, with all a poor mans envy, for eight years and a quarter. You are with me in this case, I understand? said the Serjeant. If Mr. Phunky had been a rich man, he would have instantly sent for his clerk to remind him; if he had been a wise one, he would have applied his forefinger to his forehead, and endeavoured to recollect, whether, in the multiplicity of his engagements, he had undertaken this one or not; but as he was neither rich nor wise (in this sense, at all events) he turned red, and bowed. Have you read the papers, Mr. Phunky? inquired

The Pickwick Papers page 209        The Pickwick Papers page 211