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MEMORABLE TRIAL OF BARDELL AGAINST PICKWICK.
Charles Dickens
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CHARACTERS

NARRATOR: Charles Dickens
PICKWICK
PERKER
JUDGE
OFFICER OF THE COURT
CLERK
USHER
SERGEANT BUZFUZ
SKINPIM
MRS. BARDELL
MRS. CLUBBINS
SERGEANT SNUBBING
PHUNKY
NATHANIEL WILKIN
SAM WELLER
DODD
FOGG
UPWITCH
THOMAS GROFFIN
JURY FOREMAN
SNODGRAS
TUPMAN
INTRODUCTION

NARRATOR: This trial for Breach of Promise has been debated over and over again among lawyers and barristers, some contending that “there was no evidence at all to go to the Jury” as to a promise; others insisting on mis-direction, and that there was evidence that ought not to have been admitted. The law has since been changed, and by later Acts both Mrs. Bardell and Mr. Pickwick would have been allowed to tell their stories and to have been cross-examined. Mrs. Bardell was almost justified in supposing that Mr. Pickwick was offering his hand when he was merely speaking of engaging a man-servant. But I do not wish to get ahead of myself. Judge for yourself when you have seen the play.

ACT I Scene 1

NARRATOR: The scene opens with Messrs. Pickwick, Snodgrass, Tupman, Wilkins, and Perker, having breakfast. Mr. Snodgrass is wont to enquire of Mr. Perker, Mr. Pickwicks attorney ... (voice fades)

SNODGRASS: I wonder what the foreman of the jury, whoever he'll be, has got for breakfast.

PERKER: Ah! I hope he's got a good one.

PICKWICK: Why so?

PERKER: Highly important—very important, my dear Sir. A good, contented, well-breakfasted juryman is a capital thing to get hold of. Discontented or hungry jurymen, my dear Sir, always find for the plaintiff.

PICKWICK: Bless my heart what do they do that for?

PERKER: Why, I don't know, saves time, I suppose. If it's near dinner-time, the foreman takes out his watch when the jury have retired, and says, 'Dear me, gentlemen, ten minutes to five, I declare! I dine at five, gentlemen.' 'So do I,' says everybody else, except two men who ought to have dined at three, and seem more than half disposed to stand out in consequence. The foreman smiles, and puts up his watch:— 'Well, gentlemen, what do we say?—plaintiff or defendant, gentlemen? I rather think, so far as I am concerned, gentlemen,—I say, I rather think,—but don't let that influence you—I rather think the plaintiff's the man.' Upon this, two or three other men are sure to say that they think so too—as of course they do; and then they get on very unanimously and comfortably.
(Looks at his watch).
Ten minutes past nine!" Time we were off, my dear Sir; breach of promise trial—court is generally full in such cases. You had better ring for a coach, my dear Mr. Pickwick, or we shall be rather late.

PICKWICK: rings the bell. The four Pickwickians and Mr. Perker leave.


ACT I Scene 2

Perker and Pickwick enter the courtroom followed by Tupman, Snodgrass and Wilkins.

PERKER: Mr. Pickwick's friends shall be in the students' box; Mr. Pickwick himself had better sit by me. This way, my dear Sir,—this way.
(Takes Mr. Pickwick by the arm and leads him to the low seat just beneath the desks of the King's Counsel.)

PICKWICK: (points to the audience’s left.) That's the witness-box, I suppose?

PERKER: That's the witness-box, my dear Sir," (He removes a quantity of papers from a bag at his feet.)

PICKWICK: (points to a couple of enclosed seats on his right) And that, that's where the jurymen sit, is it not?

PERKER: The identical place, my dear Sir. (He taps the lid of his snuff-box.)

PICKWICK: (Stands up. He is in a state of great agitation, and looks about the court room.)

Note: We should ask the audience to participate. There could be murmurings and people turning towards each other in conversation. In other words a busy courtroom before the judge enters.

Enter SERGEANT SNUBBIN, counsel for the defense. SERGEANT SNUBBIN shakes hands with PERKER,

Enter SERGEANT BUZFUZ, counsel for the plaintiff. He turns to face SERGEANT SNUBBIN. He nods and smiles.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Fine morning SNUBBIN.

PICKWICK: (Whispers to PERKER) Who's that red-faced man, who said it was a fine morning, and nodded to our counsel?

PERKER: Mr. SERGEANT BUZFUZ, He's opposed to us; he leads on the other side. That gentleman behind him, is Mr. Skimpin, his junior.

OFFICER OF THE COURT: Silence!

Enter JUDGE STARELEIGH who takes his seat.

OFFICER OF THE COURT: Silence!

The call forSilence!’ is echoed by others in the courtroom.

OFFICER OF THE COURT: Your honor we are missing two jurymen.

JUDGE: Proceed to press into special jury two common jurymen.

Two men rise from their seat in the audience and move to the jury box.

OFFICER OF THE COURT: Answer to your names, gentlemen, that you may be sworn. Richard Upwhitch!

UPWHITCH: Here!

OFFICER OF THE COURT: Thomas Groffin!

THOMAS GROFFIN: Here!

OFFICER OF THE COURT: (Holds up a Bible) Take the book, gentlemen. You shall well and truly try—

THOMAS GROFFIN: I beg this court's pardon, but I hope this court will excuse my attendance.

JUDGE: On what grounds, Sir?

THOMAS GROFFIN: I have no assistant, my Lord.

JUDGE: I can't help that, Sir. You should hire one.

THOMAS GROFFIN: I can't afford it, my Lord.

JUDGE: Then you ought to be able to afford it, Sir.

THOMAS GROFFIN: I know I ought to do, if I got on as well as I deserved, but I don't, my Lord.

JUDGE: (Peremptorily) Swear the gentleman.

OFFICER OF THE COURT: You shall well and truly try ...

THOMAS GROFFIN: I am to be sworn, my Lord, am I?

JUDGE: Certainly, Sir.

THOMAS GROFFIN: (Resigned) Very well, my Lord, then there'll be murder before this trial's over; that's all. Swear me if you please, Sir. I merely wanted to observe, my Lord, that I've left nobody but an errand-boy in my chemist shop. He is a very nice boy, my Lord, but he is not much acquainted with drugs; and I know that the prevailing impression on his mind is, that Epsom salts means oxalic acid; and syrup of senna, laudanum. That's all, my Lord.

Enter MRS. BARDELL helped along by her attorneys: DODSON and FOGG. She appears faint, leans heavily on one the gentleman’s arm for support. She drops into her seat. Everyone around her looks very sad. SERGEANT BUZFUZ takes a large white handkerchief and wipes his eyes. THE PLAINTIFF’S BENCH PUTS ON A GOOD SHOW. Even the JUDGE appears affected.

Note: For a radio show, Perker would describe the scene above and comment as below.

PERKER: (Admiringly) Very good notion that, indeed. Capital fellows those Dodson and Fogg; excellent ideas of effect, my dear Sir, excellent."

OFFICER OF THE COURT: Sergeants for Bardell and Pickwick.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: I am for the plaintiff, my Lord.

JUDGE: Who is with you, brother Buzfuz?

SKIMPIN: (stands and bows to the JUDGE.) Skimpin, my Lord.

SERGEANT SNUBBIN: I appear for the defendant, my Lord.

JUDGE: Anybody with you, brother Snubbin?"

SERGEANT SNUBBIN: Mr. Phunky, my Lord.

JUDGE: (Writing in notebook) Sergeant Buzfuz and Mr. Skimpin for the plaintiff. For the defendant, Sergeant Snubbin and Mr. Monkey.

PHUNKY: (Stands) Beg your Lordship's pardon, that’s Phunky.

JUDGE: Oh, very good. I never had the pleasure of hearing the gentleman's name before.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ rises with all the majesty and dignity which the grave nature of the proceedings demand, and having whispered to Dodson, and conferred briefly with Fogg, pulls his gown over his shoulders, settles his wig, and addresses the jury.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Never, in the whole course of my professional Experience — never, from the very first moment of having applied myself to the study and practice of the law—have I approached a case with feelings of such deep emotion, or with such a heavy sense of the responsibility imposed upon myself—a responsibility, I would say, which I could never have supported, were I not buoyed up and sustained by a conviction so strong, that it amounts to positive certainty that the cause of truth and justice, or, in other words, the cause of my much-injured and most oppressed client, must prevail with the high-minded and intelligent dozen of men whom I now see in that box before me.

You have heard from my learned friend, gentlemen —you have heard from my learned friend, gentlemen, that this is an action for a breach of promise of marriage, in which the damages are laid at 1500 pounds. But you have not heard from my learned friend, inasmuch as it did not come within my learned friend's province to tell you, what are the facts and circumstances of the case. Those facts and circumstances, gentlemen, you shall hear detailed by me, and proved by the unimpeachable female whom I will place in that box before you. (he smites the table with a mighty sound, and glances at Dodson and Fogg).

DODSON and FOGG nod in admiration.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: (soft melancholy voice) The plaintiff, gentlemen – the the plaintiff is a widow; yes, gentlemen, a widow. The late Mr. Bardell, after enjoying, for many years, the esteem and confidence of his sovereign, as one of the guardians of his royal revenues, glided almost imperceptively from the world, to seek elsewhere for that repose and peace which a custom-house can never afford.
(his voice falters with great emotion)
Some time before his death, he had stamped his likeness upon a little boy. With this little boy, the only pledge of her departed excise-man, Mrs. Bardell shrank from the world, and courted the retirement and tranquillity of Goswell-street; and here she placed in her front parlour-window a written placard, bearing this inscription—'Apartments furnished for a single gentleman. Enquire within.

(Sergeant Buzfuz pauses and holds up the document for the jury to see.)

THOMAS GROFFIN: There is no date to that, is there, Sir?

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: There is no date, gentlemen, I am instructed to say that it was put in the plaintiff's parlour-window just this time three years. I entreat the attention of the jury to the wording of this document—'Apartments furnished for a single gentleman!'

Mrs. Bardell's opinions of the opposite sex, gentlemen, were derived from a long contemplation of the inestimable qualities of her lost husband. She had no fear—she had no distrust—she had no suspicion—all was confidence and reliance. 'Mr. Bardell,' said the widow; 'Mr. Bardell was a man of honour—Mr. Bardell was a man of his word—Mr. Bardell was no deceiver—Mr. Bardell was once a single gentleman himself; to single gentlemen I look for protection, for assistance, for comfort, and for consolation—in single gentlemen I shall perpetually see something to remind me of what Mr. Bardell was, when he first won my young and untried affections; to a single gentleman, then, shall my lodgings be let.'

SERGEANT BUZFUZ (cont’d): Actuated by this beautiful and touching impulse, (among the best impulses of our imperfect nature, gentlemen,) the lonely and desolate widow dried her tears, furnished her first floor, caught her innocent boy to her maternal bosom, and put the bill up in her parlour window.
Did it remain there long? No.
The serpent was on the watch, the train was laid, the mine was preparing, the sapper and miner were at work. Before the bill had been in the parlour-window three days—three days, gentlemen—a being, erect upon two legs, and bearing all the outward semblance of a man, and not of a monster, knocked at the door of Mrs. Bardell's house. He enquired within; he took the lodgings; and on the very next day he entered into possession of them. This man was Pickwick—Pickwick, the defendant. (pauses to catch his breath)

(The JUDGE who was on the verge of falling asleep suddenly jerks awake with a start and begins scribbling in his note book.)

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Of this man Pickwick I will say little; the subject presents but few attractions; and I, gentlemen, am not the man, nor are you, gentlemen, the men, to delight in the contemplation of revolting heartlessness, and of systematic villany.

An incensed Pickwick jumps up from his seat.

PICKWICK: How dare ...

Perker restrains him and pulls him down to his chair.

PERKER: Calm, dear Sir.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: I say systematic villany, gentlemen, (he glares at PICKWICK) and when I say systematic villany, let me tell the defendant, Pickwick, if he be in court, as I am informed he is, that it would have been more decent in him, more becoming, in better judgment and in better taste, if he had stopped away. Let me tell him, gentlemen, that any gestures of dissent or disapprobation in which he may indulge in this court will not go down with you; that you will know how to value and how to appreciate them; and let me tell him further, as my lord will tell you, gentlemen, that a counsel, in the discharge of his duty to his client, is neither to be intimidated nor bullied, nor put down; and that any attempt to do either the one or the other, or the first, or the last, will recoil on the head of the attempter, be he plaintiff or be he defendant, be his name Pickwick, or Noakes, or Stoakes, or Stiles, or Brown, or Thompson.

All eyes are on PICKWICK.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: I shall show you, gentlemen that for two years Pickwick continued to reside constantly, and without interruption or intermission, at Mrs. Bardell's house. I shall show you that Mrs. Bardell, during the whole of that time, waited on him, attended to his comforts, cooked his meals, looked out his linen for the washerwoman when it went abroad, darned, aired, and prepared it for wear, when it came home, and, in short, enjoyed his fullest trust and confidence.

I shall show you that, on many occasions, he gave halfpence, and on some occasions even sixpences, to her little boy; and I shall prove to you, by a witness whose testimony it will be impossible for my learned friend to weaken or controvert, that on one occasion he patted the boy on the head, and, after enquiring whether he had won any alley tors or commoneys lately (both of which I understand to be a particular species of marbles much prized by the youth of this town), made use of this remarkable expression—'How should you like to have another father?'


SERGEANT BUZFUZ (CONT’D): I shall prove to you farther, gentlemen, that about a year ago, Pickwick suddenly began to absent himself from home, during long intervals, as if with the intention of gradually breaking off from my client; but I shall show you also, that his resolution was not at that time sufficiently strong, or that his better feelings conquered, if better feelings he has—or that the charms and accomplishments of my client prevailed over his unmanly intentions, by proving to you, that on one occasion, when he returned from the country, he distinctly and in terms, offered her marriage: previously however, taking special care that there should be no witnesses to their solemn contract; and I am in a situation to prove to you, on the testimony of three of his own friends,—most unwilling witnesses, gentlemen—most unwilling witnesses—that on that morning he was discovered by them holding the plaintiff in his arms, and soothing her agitation by his caresses and endearments.

(He holds up two small scraps of paper.)

And now, gentlemen, but one word more. Two letters have passed between these parties, letters which are admitted to be in the hand-writing of the defendant, and which speak volumes indeed. These letters, too, bespeak the character of the man. They are not open, fervent, eloquent epistles, breathing nothing but the language of affectionate attachment. They are covert, sly, underhanded communications, but, fortunately, far more conclusive than if couched in the most glowing language and the most poetic imagery—letters that must be viewed with a cautious and suspicious eye—letters that were evidently intended at the time, by Pickwick, to mislead and delude any third parties into whose hands they might fall. Let me read the first:

—'Garraway's, twelve o'clock.—Dear Mrs. B.—Chops and Tomata sauce. Yours, Pickwick.'

Gentlemen, what does this mean? Chops and Tomata sauce. Yours, Pickwick! Chops! Gracious heavens! and Tomata sauce! Gentlemen, is the happiness of a sensitive and confiding female to be trifled away, by such shallow artifices as these?

SERGEANT BUZFUZ (CONT’D): The next has no date whatever, which is in itself suspicious.

—'Dear Mrs. B., I shall not be at home till to-morrow. Slow coach.'

And then follows this very remarkable expression—'Dont trouble yourself about the warming-pan.' The warming-pan!' Why, gentlemen, who does trouble himself about a warming-pan? When was the peace of mind of man or woman broken or disturbed by a warming-pan, which is in itself a harmless, a useful, and I will add, gentlemen, a comforting article of domestic furniture? Why is Mrs. Bardell so earnestly entreated not to agitate herself about this warming-pan, unless (as is no doubt the case) it is a mere cover for hidden fire—a mere substitute for some endearing word or promise, agreably to a preconcerted system of correspondence, artfully contrived by Pickwick with a view to his contemplated desertion, and which I am not in a condition to explain?

And what does this allusion to the slow coach mean? For aught I know, it may be a reference to Pickwick himself, who has most unquestionably been a criminally slow coach during the whole of this transaction, but whose speed will now be very unexpectedly accelerated, and whose wheels, gentlemen, as he will find to his cost, will very soon be greased by you!

SERGEANT BUZFUZ pauses in this place, to see whether the jury smiled at his joke.

But enough of this, gentlemen, it is difficult to smile with an aching heart; it is ill jesting when our deepest sympathies are awakened. My client's hopes and prospects are ruined, and it is no figure of speech to say that her occupation is gone indeed. The bill is down—but there is no tenant. Eligible single gentlemen pass and repass—but there is no invitation for them to enquire within, or without. All is gloom and silence in the house; even the voice of the child is hushed; his infant sports are disregarded when his mether weeps; his 'alley tors' and his 'commoneys' are alike neglected; he forgets the long familiar cry of 'knuckle down,' and at tip-cheese, or odd and even, his hand is out.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ (CONT’D): But Pickwick, gentlemen, Pickwick, the ruthless destroyer of this domestic oasis in the desert of Goswell-street—Pickwick, who has choked up the well, and thrown ashes on the sward—Pickwick, who comes before you to-day with his heartless tomata sauce and warming pans—Pickwick still rears his head with unblushing effrontery, and gazes without a sigh on the ruin he has made. Damages, gentlemen—heavy damages is the only punishment with which you can visit him; the only recompense you can award to my client. And for those damages she now appeals to an enlightened, a high-minded, a right-feeling, a conscientious, a dispassionate, a sympathizing, a contemplative jury of her civilized countrymen.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ sits.

JUDGE wakes up with a start.


ACT II Scene 1

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: (rises) Call Mrs Elizabeth Cluppins.

Calls go out throughout the audience for ‘Elizabeth Tuppins – Elizabeth Jupkinsoff stageElizabeth Muffins.

While this is going on, a very nervous and agitated Mrs Cluppins accompanied by Dodson and Fogg is placed in the witness box. She appears to be on the verge of fainting.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Mrs. Cluppins pray compose yourself ma'am. Do you recollect, Mrs. Cluppins? Do you recollect being in Mrs. Bardell's back one pair of stairs, on one particular morning in July last, when she was dusting Mr. Pickwick's apartment?

CLUPPINS: Yes, my Lord and Jury, I do

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Mr. Pickwick's sitting-room was the first-floor front, I believe?

CLUPPINS: Yes, it were, Sir.

JUDGE: What were you doing in the back room, ma'am?

CLUPPINS: My Lord and Jury, I will not deceive you.

JUDGE: You had better not, ma'am.

CLUPPINS: I was there, unbeknown to Mrs. Bardell; I had been out with a little basket, gentlemen, to buy three pound of red kidney pertaties, which was three pound tuppense ha'penny, when I see Mrs. Bardell's street door on the jar.

JUDGE: On the what?

SERGEANT SNUBBIN: Partly open, my lord.

JUDGE: She said on the jar.

SERGEANT SNUBBIN: It's all the same, my lord.

CLUPPINS: I walked in, gentlemen, just to say good mornin', and went in a permiscuous manner up stairs, and into the back room. Gentlemen, there was the sound of voices in the front room, and—

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: And you listened, I believe, Mrs. Cluppins.

CLUPPINS: Beggin' your pardon, sir, I would scorn the haction. The voices was very loud, sir, and forced themselves upon my ear.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Well, Mrs. Cluppins, you were not listening, but you heard the voices. Was one of those voices Mr. Pickwick's?

CLUPPINS: Yes, it were, sir.


ACT II Scene 2

NARRATOR: And Mrs. Cluppins, after distinctly stating that Mr. Pickwick addressed himself to Mrs. Bardell, repeated by slow degrees, and by dint of many questions, the conversation. Now we have to turn back to one of the earlier passages in the story for the conversation between the pair. Thus we shall know what Mrs. Cluppins might have heard. Mr. Pickwick has sent master Bardell, his landlady’s boy, into town to fetch Sam Weller, a man servant whose services Pickwick wishes to retain. It was evident that it was something of great importance to him, which he had kept secret from everyone, even Mrs. Bardell herself.

Mr. Pickwick is pacing the room to and fro with hurried steps, pops his head out of the window at intervals, constantly refers to his watch, and exhibits many other manifestations of impatience, very unusual with him.

Mrs. Bardell is busy dusting.

PICKWICK: Mrs. Bardell.

MRS. BARDELL: Sir.

PICKWICK: Your little boy is a very long time gone.

MRS. BARDELL: Why, it’s a good long way to the Borough, sir.

PICKWICK: Ah, very true; so it is.

Mrs. Bardell resumes her dusting.

PICKWICK: Mrs. Bardell.

MRS. BARDELL: Sir.

PICKWICK: Do you think it’s a much greater expense to keep two people, than to keep one?’

MRS. BARDELL: La, Mr. Pickwick. La, Mr. Pickwick, what a question!

PICKWICK: Well, but do you?

MRS. BARDELL: That depends—that depends a good deal upon the person, you know, Mr. Pickwick; and whether it’s a saving and careful person, sir.’

PICKWICK: That’s very true, but the person I have in my eye (here he looks very hard at Mrs. Bardell) I think possesses these qualities; and has, moreover, a considerable knowledge of the world, and a great deal of sharpness, Mrs. Bardell, which may be of material use to me.

MRS. BARDELL: La, Mr. Pickwick..

PICKWICK: I do, I do, indeed; and to tell you the truth, Mrs. Bardell, I have made up my mind.

MRS. BARDELL: Dear me, sir.

PICKWICK: Y ou’ll think it very strange, now, that I never consulted you about this matter, and never even mentioned it, till I sent your little boy out this morning, eh?’

Mrs. Bardell could only reply by a look. A look that showed worship... love requited.

PICKWICK: Well, what do you think?

MRS. BARDELL: Oh, Mr. Pickwick, you’re very kind, sir.

PICKWICK: It’ll save you a good deal of trouble, won’t it?

MRS. BARDELL: Oh, I never thought anything of the trouble, sir, and, ofcourse, I should take more trouble to please you then, than ever; but it is so kind of you, Mr. Pickwick, to have so much consideration for my loneliness.

PICKWICK: Ah, to be sure, I never thought of that. When I am in town, you’ll always have somebody to sit with you. To be sure, so you will.

MRS. BARDELL: I’m sure I ought to be a very happy woman.

PICKWICK: And your little boy—

MRS. BARDELL: Bless his heart.

PICKWICK: He, too, will have a companion, ‘a lively one, who’ll teach him, I’ll be bound, more tricks in a week than he would ever learn in a year.

MRS. BARDELL: Oh, you dear—.

Mr. Pickwick started.

MRS. BARDELL: Oh, you kind, good, playful dear. (She rises from her chair, and flings her arms round Mr. Pickwick’s neck, with a cataract of tears, and a chorus of sobs.)

PICKWICK: Bless my soul. Mrs. Bardell, my good woman—dear me, what a situation—pray—consider, Mrs. Bardell, if anybody should come.

MRS. BARDELL: O, let them come. I’ll never leave you, dear, kind, good soul.


NARRATOR: Mrs. Cluppins having once broken the ice, thought it a very favourable opportunity of entering into a short dissertation on her own domestic affairs; so she straightway proceeded to inform the court that she was the mother of eight children at that present speaking, and that she entertained confident expectations of presenting Mr. Cluppins with a ninth, somewhere about that day six months.
At this interesting point, the judge interposed most irascibly; and the effect of the interposition was, that both the worthy lady and Mrs. Sanders were politely taken out of court, under escort without further parley.


ACT II Scene 3

JUDGE: Mr. Skimpin call the next witness.

SKIMPIN: The court calls Nathaniel Winkle!

WINKLE: (Walks to the witness box.) Here!

COURT OFFICER: (holds up the Bible) You shall well and truly try to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

WINKLE: I do. (he bows to the judge)

JUDGE: Don't look at me, Sir, look at the jury.

SKIMPIN: Now, Sir, have the goodness to let his Lordship and the jury know what your name is, will you?"

WINKLE: Winkle.

JUDGE: (angrily) What's your Christian name, Sir?

WINKLE: Nathaniel, Sir.

JUDGE: Daniel,—any other name?

WINKLE: Nathaniel, Sir—my Lord, I mean.

JUDGE: Nathaniel Daniel, or Daniel Nathaniel?

WINKLE: No, my Lord, only Nathaniel—not Daniel at all.

JUDGE: What did you tell me it was Daniel for, then, Sir?

WINKLE: I didn't, my Lord.

JUDGE: You did, Sir (judge frowns). How could I have got Daniel on my
notes, unless you told me so, Sir?

SKIMPIN: Mr. Winkle has a rather short memory, my Lord. We shall find means to refresh it before we are done with him, I dare say."

JUDGE: You had better be careful, Sir.

SKIMPIN: Now, Mr. Winkle, 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?

WINKLE: I have known Mr. Pickwick now, as well as I recollect at this moment, nearly—

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

WINKLE: I was just about to say, that—

SKIMPIN: Will you, or will you not, answer my question, Sir?

JUDGE: If you don't answer the question, you'll be committed, Sir.

SKIMPIN: Come, Sir, yes or no, If you please.

WINKLE: Yes, I am.

SKIMPIN: , you are. And why couldn't you say that at once, Sir? Perhaps you know the plaintiff too—eh, Mr. Winkle?

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

SKIMPIN: 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.

WINKLE: I mean that I am not intimate with her, but that I have seen her when I went to call on Mr. Pickwick, in Goswell-street.

SKIMPIN: How often have you seen her, Sir?

WINKLE: How often?

SKIMPIN: Yes, Mr. Winkle, how often? I'll repeat the question for you a dozen times, if you require it, Sir.

WINKLE: I couldn’t say.

SKIMPIN: Would it be accurate to state twenty times?

WINKLE: Certainly more than that.

SKIMPIN: A hundred times would you say? How about fifty times or seventy times. We’ll leave that for now. 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?

WINKLE: Yes, I do.

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

WINKLE: Yes, I was?

SKIMPIN: Are they here?

WINKLE: Yes, they are. (he looks towards his friends)

SKIMPIN: Pray attend to me, Mr. Winkle, and never mind your friends.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 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.

WINKLE: The defendant, Mr. Pickwick, was holding the plaintiff in his arms, with his hands clasping her waist, and the plaintiff appeared to have fainted away.

SKIMPIN: Did you hear the defendant say anything?

WINKLE: 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.

SKIMPIN: 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?

WINKLE: I—I didn't understand him so, certainly. I was on the staircase, and couldn't hear distinctly; the impression on my mind is—

SKIMPIN: 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, straight-forward men. 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?

WINKLE: No I will not.

SKIMPIN: Your witness Mr. Phunky.

PHUNKY rises and approaches the witness box.

PHUNKY: I believe, Mr Winkle, that Mr. Pickwick is not a young man?

WINKLE: Oh no, old enough to be my father?

PHUNKY: 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?

WINKLE: Oh no; certainly not.

PHUNKY: I will even go further than this, Mr. Winkle. Did you ever seeanything in Mr. Pickwick's manner and conduct towards the opposite sex to induce you to believe that he ever that he ever contemplated matrimony of late years, in any case?

WINKLE: Oh no; certainly not.

PHUNKY: 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?

WINKLE: Not the least doubt of it. That is—yes—oh yes—certainly.

PHUNKY: You have never known anything in his behaviour towards Mrs. Bardell, or any other female, in the least degree suspicious?

WINKLE: N—n—no. Except on one trifling occasion, which, I have nodoubt, might be easily explained.

Phunky proceeds to sit and just as quickly, Sergeant Snubbin rises. He looks worried.

SERGEANT SNUBBIN: The witness may step down.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: (quickly gets up) Stay, Mr. Winkle – stay! 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?

JUDGE: You hear what the learned counsel says, Sir. Describe the occasion to which you refer.

WINKLE: My lord I—I'd rather not.

JUDGE: Perhaps so, but you must.

NARRATOR: 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 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?

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, Sergeant Buzfuz, and cross-examined by Sergeant Snubbin. Had always said and believed that Mr. Pickwick would marry Mrs. Bardell; knew that Mrs. Bardell's being engaged to Mr. 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.

NARRATOR (CONT’D): Had heard Mr. 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 Mr. 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 Mr. 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" or "tomata sauce." He was particularly fond of ducks. Perhaps if he had been as fond of chops and tomata sauce, he might have called her that, as a term of affection.


ACT II Scene 4

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: (rises) Call Samuel Weller.

Sam Weller walks confidently to witness box. Places his hat on the floor and crosses his arms. He looks about cheerfull as if what was transpiring was all a good show for his benefit.

JUDGE: What's your name, Sir?

WELLER: Sam Weller, my Lord.

JUDGE: Do you spell it with a 'V' or a 'W?

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

SOMEONE IN THE AUDIENCE: (loudly) Quite right too, Samivel: quite right. Put it down a we, my Lord, put it down a we.

JUDGE: Who is that, that dares to address the Court? Usher. Bring that person here instantly.

Brief commotion as the Usher looks around the audience to find the culprit.

JUDGE: Do you know who that was, Sir?

WELLER: I rayther suspect it was my father, my Lord.

JUDGE: Do you see him here now?

WELLER: No, I don't, my Lord.

JUDGE: If you could have pointed him out, I would have committed him instantly.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Now, Mr. Weller.

WELLER: Now, Sir.

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

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

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Little to do, and plenty to get, I suppose?

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

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

WELLER: Wery good, my Lord.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Do you recollect anything particular happening on the morning when you were first engaged by the defendant, eh, Mr. Weller?

WELLER: Yes I do, Sir.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Have the goodness to tell the Jury what it was.

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

JUDGE: (looking angrily about) You had better be careful, Sir.

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

The Judge looks sternly at Sam, but Sam's features are perfectly calm and serene. He motions Sergeant Buzfuz to proceed.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Do you mean to tell me, Mr. Weller, 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?"

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

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Now, attend, Mr. Weller, You were in the passage and yet saw nothing of what was going forward. Have you a pair of eyes, Mr. Weller?

WELLER: Yes, I have a pair of eyes, and that's just it. If they wos a pair o' patent double million magnifyin' gas miscroscopes 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.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Now, Mr. Weller, I'll ask you a question on another point, if you please.

WELLER: If you please, Sir.

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

WELLER: Oh yes, wery well.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Oh, you do remember that, Mr. Weller, I thought we should get at something at last.

WELLER: I rayther thought that, too, Sir.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Well; I suppose you went up to have a little talk about this trial—eh, Mr.Weller?

WELLER: I went up to pay the rent; but we did get a talkin' about the trial.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Oh you did get a talking about the trial. Now what passed about the trial; will you have the goodness to tell us, Mr. Weller?

WELLER: Vith all the pleasure in life. 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 honorable conduct of Mr. Dodson and Fogg them two gen'l'men as is settin' near you now.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: The attornies for the plaintiff, well they spoke in high praise of the honorable conduct of Messrs. Dodson and Fogg, the attornies for the plaintiff, did they?

WELLER: Yes, they said what a wery gen'rous thing it was o' them to have taken up the case on spec, and to charge nothin' at all for costs, unless they got' em out of Mr. Pickwick.

Dodson, Fogg and Sergeant confer agitatedly.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: (Aloud to Dodson and Fogg) You are quite right.

SERGEANT BUZFUZ Turns to the judge

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: 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.

WELLER: Would any other gent'l'man like to ask me anythin'?

(Sam, picks up his hat, and looks round most deliberately.)

SERGEANT SNUBBIN: (laughs) Not I, Mr. Weller, thank you
.
SERGEANT BUZFUZ: You may go down, Sir.

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

SERGEANT BUZFUZ: Very well. (He hands two letters to the clerk) Then that's my case, my Lord.


ACT II Scene 5

NARRATOR: Sergeant 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 Sergeant 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.

NARRATOR (CONT’D) 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 was right, it was perfectly clear 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 appears 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.



ACT III Scene 1

NARRATOR: An anxious quarter of an hour has elapsed; the jury comesback, and the judge is fetched in.

Mr. Pickwick puts on his spectacles, and gazes at the foreman. He looks worried.

INDIVIDUAL IN BLACK: Gentlemen, are you all agreed upon your verdict?

FOREMAN: We are.

INDIVIDUAL IN BLACK: Do you find for the plaintiff, gentlemen, or for the defendant?

FOREMAN: For the plaintiff.

INDIVIDUAL IN BLACK: With what damages, gentlemen?

FOREMAN: Seven hundred and fifty pounds.



ACT III Scene 2

Mr. Pickwick takes off his spectacles, carefully wipes the glasses, folds them into the case, and puts them in his pocket. He draws on his gloves with great deliberation, and stares at the foreman all the while. He mechanically follows Mr. Perker to where Messrs. Dodson and Fogg, are standing rubbing their hands with every token of outward satisfaction.

PICKWICK: Well, gentlemen.

DODSON: Well, sir.

PICKWICK: You imagine you'll get your costs, don't you, gentlemen?

FOGG: Rather probable, Sir.

DODSON: (smiles) We shall try.

PICKWICK: You may try, and try, and try again, Messrs. Dodson and Fogg, 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.

DODSON: Ha, ha. You'll think better of that, before next term, Mr. Pickwick.

FOGG: He, he, he! We’ll soon see about that, Mr. Pickwick..

Pickwick allows himself to be led by his solicitor and friends to the door.

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



CURTAIN