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Chapter 34: Is Wholly Devoted To A Full And Faithful Report Of The Memorable Trial Of Bardell Against Pickwick (Page 2)


'Nathaniel Winkle!' said Mr. Skimpin.

'Here!' replied a feeble voice. Mr. Winkle entered the witness- box, and having been duly sworn, bowed to the judge with considerable deference.

'Don't look at me, Sir,' said the judge sharply, in acknowledgment of the salute; 'look at the jury.'

Mr. Winkle obeyed the mandate, and looked at the place where he thought it most probable the jury might be; for seeing anything in his then state of intellectual complication was wholly out of the question.

Mr. Winkle was then examined by Mr. Skimpin, who, being a promising young man of two or three-and-forty, was of course anxious to confuse a witness who was notoriously predisposed in favour of the other side, as much as he could.

'Now, Sir,' said Mr. Skimpin, 'have the goodness to let his Lordship know what your name is, will you?' and Mr. Skimpin inclined his head on one side to listen with great sharpness to the answer, and glanced at the jury meanwhile, as if to imply that he rather expected Mr. Winkle's natural taste for perjury would induce him to give some name which did not belong to him.

'Winkle,' replied the witness.

'What's your Christian name, Sir?' angrily inquired the little judge.

'Nathaniel, Sir.'

'Daniel--any other name?'

'Nathaniel, sir--my Lord, I mean.'

'Nathaniel Daniel, or Daniel Nathaniel?'

'No, my Lord, only Nathaniel--not Daniel at all.'

'What did you tell me it was Daniel for, then, sir?' inquired the judge.

'I didn't, my Lord,' replied Mr. Winkle.

'You did, Sir,' replied the judge, with a severe frown. 'How could I have got Daniel on my notes, unless you told me so, Sir?' This argument was, of course, unanswerable.

'Mr. Winkle has rather a short memory, my Lord,' interposed Mr. Skimpin, with another glance at the jury. 'We shall find means to refresh it before we have quite done with him, I dare say.'

'You had better be careful, Sir,' said the little judge, with a sinister look at the witness.

Poor Mr. Winkle bowed, and endeavoured to feign an easiness of manner, which, in his then state of confusion, gave him rather the air of a disconcerted pickpocket.

'Now, Mr. Winkle,' said Mr. Skimpin, 'attend to me, if you please, Sir; and let me recommend you, for your own sake, to bear in mind his Lordship's injunctions to be careful. I believe you are a particular friend of Mr. Pickwick, the defendant, are you not?'

'I have known Mr. Pickwick now, as well as I recollect at this moment, nearly--'

'Pray, Mr. Winkle, do not evade the question. Are you, or are you not, a particular friend of the defendant's?'

'I was just about to say, that--'

'Will you, or will you not, answer my question, Sir?'

'If you don't answer the question, you'll be committed, Sir,' interposed the little judge, looking over his note-book.

'Come, Sir,' said Mr. Skimpin, 'yes or no, if you please.'

'Yes, I am,' replied Mr. Winkle.

'Yes, you are. And why couldn't you say that at once, Sir? Perhaps you know the plaintiff too? Eh, Mr. Winkle?'

'I don't know her; I've seen her.'

'Oh, you don't know her, but you've seen her? Now, have the goodness to tell the gentlemen of the jury what you mean by that, Mr. Winkle.'

'I mean that I am not intimate with her, but I have seen her when I went to call on Mr. Pickwick, in Goswell Street.'

'How often have you seen her, Sir?'

'How often?'

'Yes, Mr. Winkle, how often? I'll repeat the question for you a dozen times, if you require it, Sir.' And the learned gentleman, with a firm and steady frown, placed his hands on his hips, and smiled suspiciously to the jury.

On this question there arose the edifying brow-beating, customary on such points. First of all, Mr. Winkle said it was quite impossible for him to say how many times he had seen Mrs. Bardell. Then he was asked if he had seen her twenty times, to which he replied, 'Certainly--more than that.' Then he was asked whether he hadn't seen her a hundred times--whether he couldn't swear that he had seen her more than fifty times-- whether he didn't know that he had seen her at least seventy-five times, and so forth; the satisfactory conclusion which was arrived at, at last, being, that he had better take care of himself, and mind what he was about. The witness having been by these means reduced to the requisite ebb of nervous perplexity, the examination was continued as follows--

'Pray, Mr. Winkle, do you remember calling on the defendant Pickwick at these apartments in the plaintiff's house in Goswell Street, on one particular morning, in the month of July last?'

'Yes, I do.'

'Were you accompanied on that occasion by a friend of the name of Tupman, and another by the name of Snodgrass?'

'Yes, I was.'

'Are they here?'

'Yes, they are,' replied Mr. Winkle, looking very earnestly towards the spot where his friends were stationed.

'Pray attend to me, Mr. Winkle, and never mind your friends,' said Mr. Skimpin, with another expressive look at the jury.

'They must tell their stories without any previous consultation with you, if none has yet taken place (another look at the jury). Now, Sir, tell the gentlemen of the jury what you saw on entering the defendant's room, on this particular morning. Come; out with it, Sir; we must have it, sooner or later.'

'The defendant, Mr. Pickwick, was holding the plaintiff in his arms, with his hands clasping her waist,' replied Mr. Winkle with natural hesitation, 'and the plaintiff appeared to have fainted away.'

'Did you hear the defendant say anything?'

'I heard him call Mrs. Bardell a good creature, and I heard him ask her to compose herself, for what a situation it was, if anybody should come, or words to that effect.'

'Now, Mr. Winkle, I have only one more question to ask you, and I beg you to bear in mind his Lordship's caution. Will you undertake to swear that Pickwick, the defendant, did not say on the occasion in question--"My dear Mrs. Bardell, you're a good creature; compose yourself to this situation, for to this situation you must come," or words to that effect?'

'I--I didn't understand him so, certainly,' said Mr. Winkle, astounded on this ingenious dove-tailing of the few words he had heard. 'I was on the staircase, and couldn't hear distinctly; the impression on my mind is--'

'The gentlemen of the jury want none of the impressions on your mind, Mr. Winkle, which I fear would be of little service to honest, straightforward men,' interposed Mr. Skimpin. 'You were on the staircase, and didn't distinctly hear; but you will not swear that Pickwick did not make use of the expressions I have quoted? Do I understand that?'

'No, I will not,' replied Mr. Winkle; and down sat Mr. Skimpin with a triumphant countenance.

Mr. Pickwick's case had not gone off in so particularly happy a manner, up to this point, that it could very well afford to have any additional suspicion cast upon it. But as it could afford to be placed in a rather better light, if possible, Mr. Phunky rose for the purpose of getting something important out of Mr. Winkle in cross-examination. Whether he did get anything important out of him, will immediately appear.

'I believe, Mr. Winkle,' said Mr. Phunky, 'that Mr. Pickwick is not a young man?'

'Oh, no,' replied Mr. Winkle; 'old enough to be my father.'

'You have told my learned friend that you have known Mr. Pickwick a long time. Had you ever any reason to suppose or believe that he was about to be married?'

'Oh, no; certainly not;' replied Mr. Winkle with so much eagerness, that Mr. Phunky ought to have got him out of the box with all possible dispatch. Lawyers hold that there are two kinds of particularly bad witnesses--a reluctant witness, and a too-willing witness; it was Mr. Winkle's fate to figure in both characters.

'I will even go further than this, Mr. Winkle,' continued Mr. Phunky, in a most smooth and complacent manner. 'Did you ever see anything in Mr. Pickwick's manner and conduct towards the opposite sex, to induce you to believe that he ever contemplated matrimony of late years, in any case?'

'Oh, no; certainly not,' replied Mr. Winkle.

'Has his behaviour, when females have been in the case, always been that of a man, who, having attained a pretty advanced period of life, content with his own occupations and amusements, treats them only as a father might his daughters?'

'Not the least doubt of it,' replied Mr. Winkle, in the fulness of his heart. 'That is--yes--oh, yes--certainly.'

'You have never known anything in his behaviour towards Mrs. Bardell, or any other female, in the least degree suspicious?' said Mr. Phunky, preparing to sit down; for Serjeant Snubbin was winking at him.

'N-n-no,' replied Mr. Winkle, 'except on one trifling occasion, which, I have no doubt, might be easily explained.'

Now, if the unfortunate Mr. Phunky had sat down when Serjeant Snubbin had winked at him, or if Serjeant Buzfuz had stopped this irregular cross-examination at the outset (which he knew better than to do; observing Mr. Winkle's anxiety, and well knowing it would, in all probability, lead to something serviceable to him), this unfortunate admission would not have been elicited. The moment the words fell from Mr. Winkle's lips, Mr. Phunky sat down, and Serjeant Snubbin rather hastily told him he might leave the box, which Mr. Winkle prepared to do with great readiness, when Serjeant Buzfuz stopped him.

'Stay, Mr. Winkle, stay!' said Serjeant Buzfuz, 'will your Lordship have the goodness to ask him, what this one instance of suspicious behaviour towards females on the part of this gentleman, who is old enough to be his father, was?'

'You hear what the learned counsel says, Sir,' observed the judge, turning to the miserable and agonised Mr. Winkle.

'Describe the occasion to which you refer.'

'My Lord,' said Mr. Winkle, trembling with anxiety, 'I--I'd rather not.'

'Perhaps so,' said the little judge; 'but you must.'

Amid the profound silence of the whole court, Mr. Winkle faltered out, that the trifling circumstance of suspicion was Mr. Pickwick's being found in a lady's sleeping-apartment at midnight; which had terminated, he believed, in the breaking off of the projected marriage of the lady in question, and had led, he knew, to the whole party being forcibly carried before George Nupkins, Esq., magistrate and justice of the peace, for the borough of Ipswich!

'You may leave the box, Sir,' said Serjeant Snubbin. Mr. Winkle did leave the box, and rushed with delirious haste to the George and Vulture, where he was discovered some hours after, by the waiter, groaning in a hollow and dismal manner, with his head buried beneath the sofa cushions.

Tracy Tupman, and Augustus Snodgrass, were severally called into the box; both corroborated the testimony of their unhappy friend; and each was driven to the verge of desperation by excessive badgering. Susannah Sanders was then called, and examined by Serjeant Buzfuz, and cross-examined by Serjeant Snubbin. Had always said and believed that Pickwick would marry Mrs. Bardell; knew that Mrs. Bardell's being engaged to Pickwick was the current topic of conversation in the neighbourhood, after the fainting in July; had been told it herself by Mrs. Mudberry which kept a mangle, and Mrs. Bunkin which clear-starched, but did not see either Mrs. Mudberry or Mrs. Bunkin in court. Had heard Pickwick ask the little boy how he should like to have another father. Did not know that Mrs. Bardell was at that time keeping company with the baker, but did know that the baker was then a single man and is now married. Couldn't swear that Mrs. Bardell was not very fond of the baker, but should think that the baker was not very fond of Mrs. Bardell, or he wouldn't have married somebody else. Thought Mrs. Bardell fainted away on the morning in July, because Pickwick asked her to name the day: knew that she (witness) fainted away stone dead when Mr. Sanders asked her to name the day, and believed that everybody as called herself a lady would do the same, under similar circumstances. Heard Pickwick ask the boy the question about the marbles, but upon her oath did not know the difference between an 'alley tor' and a 'commoney.'

By the COURT.--During the period of her keeping company with Mr. Sanders, had received love letters, like other ladies. In the course of their correspondence Mr. Sanders had often called her a 'duck,' but never 'chops,' nor yet 'tomato sauce.' He was particularly fond of ducks. Perhaps if he had been as fond of chops and tomato sauce, he might have called her that, as a term of affection.

Serjeant Buzfuz now rose with more importance than he had yet exhibited, if that were possible, and vociferated; 'Call Samuel Weller.'

It was quite unnecessary to call Samuel Weller; for Samuel Weller stepped briskly into the box the instant his name was pronounced; and placing his hat on the floor, and his arms on the rail, took a bird's-eye view of the Bar, and a comprehensive survey of the Bench, with a remarkably cheerful and lively aspect.

'What's your name, sir?' inquired the judge.

'Sam Weller, my Lord,' replied that gentleman.

'Do you spell it with a "V" or a "W"?' inquired the judge.

'That depends upon the taste and fancy of the speller, my Lord,' replied Sam; 'I never had occasion to spell it more than once or twice in my life, but I spells it with a "V." '

Here a voice in the gallery exclaimed aloud, 'Quite right too, Samivel, quite right. Put it down a "we," my Lord, put it down a "we."'

'Who is that, who dares address the court?' said the little judge, looking up. 'Usher.'

'Yes, my Lord.'

'Bring that person here instantly.'

'Yes, my Lord.'

But as the usher didn't find the person, he didn't bring him; and, after a great commotion, all the people who had got up to look for the culprit, sat down again. The little judge turned to the witness as soon as his indignation would allow him to speak, and said--

'Do you know who that was, sir?'

'I rayther suspect it was my father, my lord,' replied Sam.

'Do you see him here now?' said the judge.

'No, I don't, my Lord,' replied Sam, staring right up into the lantern at the roof of the court.

'If you could have pointed him out, I would have committed him instantly,' said the judge. Sam bowed his acknowledgments and turned, with unimpaired cheerfulness of countenance, towards Serjeant Buzfuz.

'Now, Mr. Weller,' said Serjeant Buzfuz.

'Now, sir,' replied Sam.

'I believe you are in the service of Mr. Pickwick, the defendant in this case? Speak up, if you please, Mr. Weller.'

'I mean to speak up, Sir,' replied Sam; 'I am in the service o' that 'ere gen'l'man, and a wery good service it is.'

'Little to do, and plenty to get, I suppose?' said Serjeant Buzfuz, with jocularity.

'Oh, quite enough to get, Sir, as the soldier said ven they ordered him three hundred and fifty lashes,' replied Sam.

'You must not tell us what the soldier, or any other man, said, Sir,' interposed the judge; 'it's not evidence.'

'Wery good, my Lord,' replied Sam.

'Do you recollect anything particular happening on the morning when you were first engaged by the defendant; eh, Mr. Weller?' said Serjeant Buzfuz.

'Yes, I do, sir,' replied Sam.

'Have the goodness to tell the jury what it was.'

'I had a reg'lar new fit out o' clothes that mornin', gen'l'men of the jury,' said Sam, 'and that was a wery partickler and uncommon circumstance vith me in those days.'

Hereupon there was a general laugh; and the little judge, looking with an angry countenance over his desk, said, 'You had better be careful, Sir.'

'So Mr. Pickwick said at the time, my Lord,' replied Sam; 'and I was wery careful o' that 'ere suit o' clothes; wery careful indeed, my Lord.'

The judge looked sternly at Sam for full two minutes, but Sam's features were so perfectly calm and serene that the judge said nothing, and motioned Serjeant Buzfuz to proceed.

'Do you mean to tell me, Mr. Weller,' said Serjeant Buzfuz, folding his arms emphatically, and turning half-round to the jury, as if in mute assurance that he would bother the witness yet--'do you mean to tell me, Mr. Weller, that you saw nothing of this fainting on the part of the plaintiff in the arms of the defendant, which you have heard described by the witnesses?'

'Certainly not,' replied Sam; 'I was in the passage till they called me up, and then the old lady was not there.'

'Now, attend, Mr. Weller,' said Serjeant Buzfuz, dipping a large pen into the inkstand before him, for the purpose of frightening Sam with a show of taking down his answer. 'You were in the passage, and yet saw nothing of what was going forward. Have you a pair of eyes, Mr. Weller?'

'Yes, I have a pair of eyes,' replied Sam, 'and that's just it. If they wos a pair o' patent double million magnifyin' gas microscopes of hextra power, p'raps I might be able to see through a flight o' stairs and a deal door; but bein' only eyes, you see, my wision 's limited.'

At this answer, which was delivered without the slightest appearance of irritation, and with the most complete simplicity and equanimity of manner, the spectators tittered, the little judge smiled, and Serjeant Buzfuz looked particularly foolish. After a short consultation with Dodson & Fogg, the learned Serjeant again turned towards Sam, and said, with a painful effort to conceal his vexation, 'Now, Mr. Weller, I'll ask you a question on another point, if you please.'

'If you please, Sir,' rejoined Sam, with the utmost good-humour.

'Do you remember going up to Mrs. Bardell's house, one night in November last?'

'Oh, yes, wery well.'

'Oh, you do remember that, Mr. Weller,' said Serjeant Buzfuz, recovering his spirits; 'I thought we should get at something at last.'

'I rayther thought that, too, sir,' replied Sam; and at this the spectators tittered again.

'Well; I suppose you went up to have a little talk about this trial--eh, Mr. Weller?' said Serjeant Buzfuz, looking knowingly at the jury.

'I went up to pay the rent; but we did get a-talkin' about the trial,' replied Sam.

'Oh, you did get a-talking about the trial,' said Serjeant Buzfuz, brightening up with the anticipation of some important discovery. 'Now, what passed about the trial; will you have the goodness to tell us, Mr. Weller'?'

'Vith all the pleasure in life, sir,' replied Sam. 'Arter a few unimportant obserwations from the two wirtuous females as has been examined here to-day, the ladies gets into a very great state o' admiration at the honourable conduct of Mr. Dodson and Fogg--them two gen'l'men as is settin' near you now.' This, of course, drew general attention to Dodson & Fogg, who looked as virtuous as possible.

'The attorneys for the plaintiff,' said Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz.

'Well! They spoke in high praise of the honourable conduct of Messrs. Dodson and Fogg, the attorneys for the plaintiff, did they?'

'Yes,' said Sam, 'they said what a wery gen'rous thing it was o' them to have taken up the case on spec, and to charge nothing at all for costs, unless they got 'em out of Mr. Pickwick.'

At this very unexpected reply, the spectators tittered again, and Dodson & Fogg, turning very red, leaned over to Serjeant Buzfuz, and in a hurried manner whispered something in his ear.

'You are quite right,' said Serjeant Buzfuz aloud, with affected composure. 'It's perfectly useless, my Lord, attempting to get at any evidence through the impenetrable stupidity of this witness. I will not trouble the court by asking him any more questions. Stand down, sir.'

'Would any other gen'l'man like to ask me anythin'?' inquired Sam, taking up his hat, and looking round most deliberately.

'Not I, Mr. Weller, thank you,' said Serjeant Snubbin, laughing.

'You may go down, sir,' said Serjeant Buzfuz, waving his hand impatiently. Sam went down accordingly, after doing Messrs. Dodson & Fogg's case as much harm as he conveniently could, and saying just as little respecting Mr. Pickwick as might be, which was precisely the object he had had in view all along.

'I have no objection to admit, my Lord,' said Serjeant Snubbin, 'if it will save the examination of another witness, that Mr. Pickwick has retired from business, and is a gentleman of considerable independent property.'

'Very well,' said Serjeant Buzfuz, putting in the two letters to be read, 'then that's my case, my Lord.'

Serjeant Snubbin then addressed the jury on behalf of the defendant; and a very long and a very emphatic address he delivered, in which he bestowed the highest possible eulogiums on the conduct and character of Mr. Pickwick; but inasmuch as our readers are far better able to form a correct estimate of that gentleman's merits and deserts, than Serjeant Snubbin could possibly be, we do not feel called upon to enter at any length into the learned gentleman's observations. He attempted to show that the letters which had been exhibited, merely related to Mr. Pickwick's dinner, or to the preparations for receiving him in his apartments on his return from some country excursion. It is sufficient to add in general terms, that he did the best he could for Mr. Pickwick; and the best, as everybody knows, on the infallible authority of the old adage, could do no more.

Mr. Justice Stareleigh summed up, in the old-established and most approved form. He read as much of his notes to the jury as he could decipher on so short a notice, and made running- comments on the evidence as he went along. If Mrs. Bardell were right, it was perfectly clear that Mr. Pickwick was wrong, and if they thought the evidence of Mrs. Cluppins worthy of credence they would believe it, and, if they didn't, why, they wouldn't. If they were satisfied that a breach of promise of marriage had been committed they would find for the plaintiff with such damages as they thought proper; and if, on the other hand, it appeared to them that no promise of marriage had ever been given, they would find for the defendant with no damages at all. The jury then retired to their private room to talk the matter over, and the judge retired to HIS private room, to refresh himself with a mutton chop and a glass of sherry. An anxious quarter of a hour elapsed; the jury came back; the judge was fetched in. Mr. Pickwick put on his spectacles, and gazed at the foreman with an agitated countenance and a quickly-beating heart.

'Gentlemen,' said the individual in black, 'are you all agreed upon your verdict?'

'We are,' replied the foreman.

'Do you find for the plaintiff, gentlemen, or for the defendant?'

'For the plaintiff.'

'With what damages, gentlemen?'

'Seven hundred and fifty pounds.'

Mr. Pickwick took off his spectacles, carefully wiped the glasses, folded them into their case, and put them in his pocket; then, having drawn on his gloves with great nicety, and stared at the foreman all the while, he mechanically followed Mr. Perker and the blue bag out of court.

They stopped in a side room while Perker paid the court fees; and here, Mr. Pickwick was joined by his friends. Here, too, he encountered Messrs. Dodson & Fogg, rubbing their hands with every token of outward satisfaction.

'Well, gentlemen,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Well, Sir,' said Dodson, for self and partner.

'You imagine you'll get your costs, don't you, gentlemen?' said Mr. Pickwick.

Fogg said they thought it rather probable. Dodson smiled, and said they'd try.

'You may try, and try, and try again, Messrs. Dodson and Fogg,' said Mr. Pickwick vehemently,'but not one farthing of costs or damages do you ever get from me, if I spend the rest of my existence in a debtor's prison.'

'Ha! ha!' laughed Dodson. 'You'll think better of that, before next term, Mr. Pickwick.'

'He, he, he! We'll soon see about that, Mr. Pickwick,' grinned Fogg.

Speechless with indignation, Mr. Pickwick allowed himself to be led by his solicitor and friends to the door, and there assisted into a hackney-coach, which had been fetched for the purpose, by the ever-watchful Sam Weller.

Sam had put up the steps, and was preparing to jump upon the box, when he felt himself gently touched on the shoulder; and, looking round, his father stood before him. The old gentleman's countenance wore a mournful expression, as he shook his head gravely, and said, in warning accents--

'I know'd what 'ud come o' this here mode o' doin' bisness. Oh, Sammy, Sammy, vy worn't there a alleybi!'

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