Monday, 22 August 2016

The Pickwick Papers chapters 9-11

Chapter 9 opens with the discovery that both Jingle and Rachael are missing, having run away together.  Mr Tupman is horrified that Jingle has swindled him out of his ten pounds.  Mr Wardle and Mr Pickwick give chase throughout the night.  "Fields, trees and hedges, seemed to rush past them with the velocity of a whirlwind, so rapid was the pace at which they tore along.  They were close by the side of the first chaise.  Jingle's voice could be plainly heard, even above the din of the wheels, urging on the boys.  Old Mr Wardle foamed with rage and excitement.  He roared out scoundrels and villains by the dozen, clenched his fist and shook it expressively at the object of his indignation; but Mr Jingle only answered with a contemptuous smile, and replied to his menaces by a shout of triumph, as his horses, answering the increased application of whip and spur, broke into a faster gallop, and left the pursuers behind."

Dickens' description is excellent and the reader is carried along at full pelt until the chaise crashes and Mr Jingle once again escapes leaving Mr Wardle and Mr Pickwick continuing their pursuit on foot.
The action moves to London in chapter 10 which opens with a description of the White Hart Inn where Sam Weller, a boot boy, is employed.  Dickens provides the reader with a number of clues about two guests and the reason for their stay in London.  These guests, of course, are Jingle and Rachael who are to be married in the morning. 

Mr Wardle, Mr Pickwick and Mr Perker (a lawyer) arrive at the inn to find out if Rachael and Jingle are there.  There is a funny account as Sam recognises the guests by their footwear.  When he says that "there's a pair of Wellingtons a good deal worn and a pair o'lady's shoes, in number five" Mr Wardle exclaims "By Heavens, we've found them."  Sam shows them to the room where Jingle has just returned with the licence.  Mr Wardle is furious with Jingle while the lawyer tries to calm things down.  Mr Wardle then turns on his sister saying "And you, Rachael, at a time of life when you ought to know better, what do you mean by running away with a vagabond, disgracing your family, and making yourself miserable."  Eventually Jingle agrees to call off the marriage on payment of £120 and makes his escape.  The chapter ends on a sad note as the friends set off for home.  "Slowly and sadly did the two friends and the deserted lady, return next day in the Muggleton heavy coach.  Dimly and darkly had the sombre shadows of a summer's night fallen upon all around, when they again reached Dingly Dell, and stood within the entrance to Manor Farm."

In Chapter 11 Mr Pickwick discovers that Mr Tupman has left Manor Farm.  He has left a note suggesting that he is bereft at the loss of Rachael and that "life has become insupportable to him."  Mr Pickwick and his fiends leave immediately to follow their friend whom they find at an ale-house enjoying a hearty meal and showing little sign of distress. 

On walking near the inn, Mr Pickwick finds an old stone with the following inscription:-

S. M.
Mr Pickwick is delighted with his find - "he had discovered a strange and curious inscription of unquestionable antiquity, which had wholly escaped the observation of the many learned men who had preceded him."  Later in the chapter we learn that another Pickwickian, Mr Blotton, had worked out that the inscription was not ancient but said BILL STUMPS, HIS MARK.  Unfortunately The Pickwick Club did not accept this interpretation and expelled Mr Blotton from the club.  Dickens  uses humour here to demonstrate how academics often hold onto their own interpretations despite there being evidence to the contrary.

This chapter also includes a short story entitled A Madman's Manuscript, which was given to Mr Pickwick by an old clergyman.  This is a moving, gothic tale which is quite horrific in parts.  However I am undecided whether these short stories add anything to the book.

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