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The Pickwick Papers 354







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of eight articles, Sir, that have appeared in the Eatanswill GAZETTE. I think I may venture to say that you would not be long in establishing your opinions on a firm and solid blue basis, sir. I dare say I should turn very blue, long before I got to the end of them, responded Bob. Mr. Pott looked dubiously at Bob Sawyer for some seconds, and, turning to Mr. Pickwick, said-- You have seen the literary articles which have appeared at intervals in the Eatanswill GAZETTE in the course of the last three months, and which have excited such general--I may say such universal--attention and admiration? Why, replied Mr. Pickwick, slightly embarrassed by the question, the fact is, I have been so much engaged in other ways, that I really have not had an opportunity of perusing them. You should do so, Sir, said Pott, with a severe countenance. I will, said Mr. Pickwick. They appeared in the form of a copious review of a work on Chinese metaphysics, Sir, said Pott. Oh, observed Mr. Pickwick; from your pen, I hope? From the pen of my critic, Sir, rejoined Pott, with dignity. An abstruse subject, I should conceive, said Mr. Pickwick. Very, Sir, responded Pott, looking intensely sage. He CRAMMED for it, to use a technical but expressive term; he read up for the subject, at my desire, in the "Encyclopaedia Britannica." Indeed! said Mr. Pickwick; I was not aware that that valuable work contained any information respecting Chinese metaphysics. He read, Sir, rejoined Pott, laying his hand on Mr. Pickwicks knee, and looking round with a smile of intellectual superiority --he read for metaphysics under the letter M, and for China under the letter C, and combined his information, Sir! Mr. Potts features assumed so much additional grandeur at the recollection of the power and research displayed in the learned effusions in question, that some minutes elapsed before Mr. Pickwick felt emboldened to renew the conversation; at length, as the editors countenance gradually relaxed into its customary expression of moral supremacy, he ventured to resume the discourse by asking-- Is it fair to inquire what great object has brought you so far from home? That object which actuates and animates me in all my gigantic labours, Sir, replied Pott, with a calm smile: my countrys good. I supposed it was some public mission, observed Mr. Pickwick. Yes, Sir, resumed Pott, it is. Here, bending towards Mr. Pickwick, he whispered in a deep, hollow voice, A Buff ball, Sir, will take place in Birmingham to-morrow evening. God bless me! exclaimed Mr. Pickwick. Yes, Sir, and supper, added Pott. You dont say so! ejaculated Mr. Pickwick. Pott nodded portentously. Now, although Mr. Pickwick feigned to stand aghast at this disclosure, he was so little versed in local politics that he was unable to form an adequate comprehension of the importance of the dire conspiracy it referred to; observing which, Mr. Pott, drawing forth the last number of the Eatanswill GAZETTE, and referring to the same, delivered himself of the following paragraph:-- HOLE-AND-CORNER BUFFERY. A reptile contemporary has recently sweltered forth his black venom in the vain and hopeless attempt of sullying the fair name of our distinguished and excellent representative, the Honourable Mr. Slumkey--that Slumkey whom we, long before he gained his present noble and exalted position, predicted would one day be, as he now is, at once his countrys brightest honour, and her proudest boast: alike her bold defender and her honest pride-- our reptile contemporary, we say, has made himself merry, at the expense of a superbly embossed plated coal-scuttle, which has been presented to that glorious man by his enraptured constituents, and towards the purchase of which, the nameless wretch insinuates, the Honourable Mr. Slumkey himself contributed, through a confidential friend of his butlers, more than three-fourths of the whole sum subscribed. Why, does not the crawling creature see, that even if this be the fact, the Honourable Mr. Slumkey only appears in a still more amiable and radiant light than before, if that be possible? Does not even his obtuseness perceive that this amiable and touching desire to carry out the wishes of the constituent body, must for ever endear him to the hearts and souls of such of his fellow townsmen as are not worse than swine; or, in other words, who are not as debased as our contemporary himself? But such is the wretched trickery of hole-and-corner Buffery! These are not its only artifices. Treason is abroad. We boldly state, now that we are goaded

The Pickwick Papers page 353        The Pickwick Papers page 355