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gerated caricature preserves some traits of the M.C.'s, his illustrious predecessors; and perhaps some such bold handling as Dickens's could best render the personal effect of a beau of the period. He "was a charming young man of not more than fifty, dressed in a very bright-blue coat with resplendent buttons, black trousers, and the thinnest possible pair of highly polished boots. A gold eyeglass was suspended from his neck by a short, broad black ribbon, a gold snuff-box was lightly clasped in his left hand . . . and he carried a pliant ebony cane with a heavy gold top. His linen was of the very whitest, finest and stiffest; his wig of the glossiest, blackest and curliest. . . . His features were contracted into a perpetual smile. 'Welcome to Ba-ath, sir. This is indeed an acquisition. Most welcome to Ba-ath. Never been in Ba-ath, Mr. Pickwick? . . . Never in Ba-ath! He! he! Mr. Pickwick, you are a wag. Not bad, not bad. Good, good. He! he! he! Re-markable!'"
This might have happened, but it does not seem as if it had happened, and one sighs amid the horse-play for "the touch of a vanished hand," like Jane Austen's, to give delicacy and precision to the picture. The Pickwick Club first put up at the White Hart, just opposite the Pump Room, but it was while living in "the upper portion of the Royal Crescent," that Mr. Winkle had his amusing adventure with Mrs. Dowler, whose husband had fallen asleep after promising to sit up for her return from a ball. The elderly reader will probably remember better than the younger how Mr. Winkle went down-stairs in his bed-gown and slippers to let the lady in, and then had the door blown to behind him, and was obliged to plunge into her sedan-chair to hide himself from the mockeries of a party coming into the
Crescent; how he fled to escape her infuriated husband, and in Bristol found Mr. Dowler, who had also fled from Bath to escape Mr. Winkle and the consequences of his own violent threats. It was at the house of the Master of Ceremonies in Queen's Square that “a select company of Bath footmen" entertained Sam Weller at a "friendly swarry consisting of a boiled leg of mutton and the usual trimmings," but I am unable to give the number where Sam's note of invitation instructed him to ring at the "airy bell."
In fact, on going back to the Bath episode of the Pickwick Papers, one finds so much make-believe required of him that the remembrance of one's earlier delight in it is a burden and a hindrance rather than a help. You could get on better with it if you were reading it for the first time, and even then it would not seem very like what one probably saw. You would be sensible of the elemental facts, but in the picture they are all jarred out of semblance to life. The effect is quite that of a Cruikshank illustration, abounding in impossible grotesqueness, yet related here and there to reality by an action, an expression, a figure. It is screaming farce, or it is shrieking melodrama; the mirror is held up to nature, but nature makes a face in it. Nevertheless, on an earlier visit to England, I had once seen a water-side character getting into a Thames steamboat who seemed to me exactly like a character of Dickens; and in Bath I used often to meet a little, queer block of a man, whose nationality I could not make out, but every inch of whose five feet was full of the suggestion of Dickens. His face, topped by a frowzy cap, was twisted in a sort of fixed grin, and his eyes looked different ways, perhaps to prevent any attempt of mine to escape him. He carried at his side a small
wicker-box which he kept his hand on; and as he drew near and halted, I heard a series of plaintive squeaks coming from it. "Make you perform the guinea-pig?” he always asked, and before I could answer, he dragged a remonstrating guinea-pig from its warm shelter, and stretched it on the cage, holding it down with both hands. "Johnny die queek!" he commanded, and lifted his hands for the instant in which Johnny was motionlessly gathering his forces for resuscitation. Then he called exultantly, "Bobby's coming!" and before the police were upon him, Johnny was hustled back into his cosy box, woefully murmuring of his hardship to its comfort; and the queer little man smiled his triumph in every direction. The sight of this brief drama always cost me a penny; perhaps I could have had it for less; but I did not think a penny was too much.