Imágenes de páginas


[ocr errors]

part of the young gentleman himself, who had misgivings that his being placed in the full glare of the judge's eye was only a formal prelude to his being immediately ordered away for instant execution.

"I am for the plaintiff, my Lord,” said Mr. Sergeant Buztuz.

Court. “Who is with you, brother Buzfuz?” Mr. Skimpin bowed, to intimate that he was.

“I appear for the defendant, my Lord,” said Mr. Sergeant Snubbin. Court. Anybody with you, brother Snubbin?

, “Mr. Phunky, my Lord.” Court.

Go on. Mr. Skimpin proceeded to “open the case ; and the case appeared to have very little inside it when he had opened it, for he kept such particulars as he knew completely to himself.

Sergeant Buzfuz then rose with all the majesty and dignity which the grave nature of the proceedings demanded, and having whispered to Dodson, and conferred briefly with Fogy, pulled his gown over his shoulders, settled his wig, and addressed the jury.

Sergeant Buzfuz began by saying that never, in the whole course of his professional experience,-never, from the very first moment of his applying himself to the study and practice of the law, had he approached a case with such a heavy sense of the responsibility imposed upon him,-a responsibility he could never have supported, were he not buoyed up and sustained by a conviction, so strong that it amounted to positive certainty, that the cause of truth and justice, or, in other words, the cause of his much-injured and most oppressed client, must prevail with the high-minded and intelligent dozen of men whom he now saw in that box before him.

Counsel always begin in this way, because it puts the jury on the best terms with themselves, and makes them think what sharp fellows they must be. A visible effect was produced immediately, several jurymen beginning tu tako voluminous notes.

“ You have heard from my learned friend, gentlemen,"

[ocr errors]

continued Sergeant Buzfuz, well knowing that from the learned friend alluded to the gentlemen of the jury had heard nothing at all,—"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 £1,500. 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 this case. Those facts and circumstances, gentlemen, you shall bear detailed by me, and proved by the unimpeachable female whom I will place in that box before yon. 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 imperceptibly from the world, to seek elsewhere for that repose and peace which a custom-house can never afford.”

This was a pathetic description of the decease of Mr. Bardell, who had been knocked on the head with a quart-pot in a public-house cellar.

“ Some time before Mr. Bardell's death, he bad stamped his likeness upon a little boy. With this little boy, the only pledge of her departed exciseman, Mrs. Bardell shrunk from the world, and courted the retirement and tranquility of Goswell Street; and here she placed in her front parlour window a written placard, bearing this inscription : Apartments furnished for a single gentleman. Inquire within.” Here Sergeant Buzfuz paused, wbile several gentlemen of the jury took a note of the document.

“ There is no date to that, is there, sir ? ” inquired a juror.

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

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


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 shall my lodgings be let.' Actuated by this beautiful and touching impulse (among the best impulses of our imperfect nature, gentlemen), the 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. 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 Mrs. Bardell's door. He inquired within; he took the lodgings; and on the very next day he entered into possession of them. This man was Pickwick-Pickwick, the defendant.”

Sergeant Buzfuz here paused for breath. The silence awoke Mr. Justice Stareleigh, who immediately wrote down something with a pen without any ink in it, and looked unusually profound, to impress the jury with the belief that he always thought most deeply with his eyes shut.

“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 rnen, to delight in the contemplation of revolting heartlessness and of systematic villany."

Here Mr. Pickwick, who had been writhing in silence, gave a violent start, as if some vague idea of assaulting Sergeant Buzfuz, in the august presence of justice and law, suggested itself to his mind.

“I say systematic villany, gentlemen," said Sergeant Buzfuz, looking through Mr. Pickwick, and talking at him; “and when I say systematic villany, let me tell the defendant, Pickwick—if he be in court, as I am informed be is that it would have been more decent in him, more becoming, in better judgment, and in better taste, if he had stopped away:

"I shall show you, gentlemen, that for two years Pickwick continued to reside without interruption or


intermission at Mrs. Bardell's house. 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 inquiring 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? •

' I shall prove to you, gentlemen, 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.

“ And now, gentlemen, but one word more. Two letters have passed between these parties,-letters which are admitted to be in the handwriting of the defendant. Let me read the first :- Garraway's, twelve o'clock. Dear Mrs. B.—Chops and Tomato sauce. Yours, PICKWICK.' Gentlemen, what does this mean? Chops! Gracious heavens! and Tomato sauce! Gentlemen, is the happiness of a sensitive and confiding female to be trifled away by such shallow artifices as these ? 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. “Don't trouble yourself about the warmingpan.' Why, gentlemen, who does trouble himself about à warming-pan ?

Why is Mrs. Bardell so earnestly entreated not to agitate herself about this warming-pan, unless it is, as I assert it to be, a mere cover for hidden fire,-a mere substitute for some endearing word or promise, agreeably 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 ?

• Enough of this. My client's hopes and prospects are ruined. But Pickwick, gentlemen,--Pickwick the ruthless



[ocr errors]

destroyer of this domestic oasis in the desert of Goswell Street,-Pickwick who has choked up the well, and tbrown ashes on the sward-Pickwick who comes before you to-day with his heartless Tomato sauce and warmingpans-Pickwick still rears his head with unblushing effrontery, and gazes without a sigh on the ruin he has made. Damages, gentlemen, heavy damages, are 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 highminded, a right-feeling, a conscientious, a dispassionate, a sympathizing, a contemplative jury of her civilized countrymen.”

With this beautiful peroration, Mr. Sergeant Buzfuz sat down, and Mr. Justice Stareleigh woke up:

. “Call Elizabeth Cluppins,” said Sergeant Buzfuz, rising a minute afterwards, with renewed vigour.

“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 Pickwick's apartment ?"

Yes, my Lord and jury, I do." “Mr. Pickwick's sitting room was the first floor front, I believe?"

“Yes, it were, sir." ·

Court. “What were you doing in the back room, ma'am ?”

“My Lord and jury, I will not deceive you." Court. “ You had better not, ma'am.”

6 I was there unbeknown to Mrs. Bardell. I had been out with a little basket, gentlemeu, to buy three pound of red kidney purtaties, which was three pound tuppense ha’penny, when I see Mrs. Bardell's street door on the jar."

Court. 66 On the what?
"Partly open, my Lord.”
Court." She said on the jar."
66 It's all the same, my

Lord. The little judge looked doubtful, and said he'd make a note of it.

“I walked in, gentlemen, just to say good mornin', and


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »