Now it so happened that Mr. Pickwick and his three companions had resolved to make Rochester their first halting-place too; and having intimated to their new-found acquaintance that they were journeying to the same city, they agreed to occupy the seat at the back of the coach, where they could all sit together.
'Up with you,' said the stranger, assisting Mr. Pickwick on to the roof with so much precipitation as to impair the gravity of that gentleman's deportment very materially.
'Any luggage, Sir?' inquired the coachman. 'Who--I? Brown paper parcel here, that's all--other luggage gone by water--packing-cases, nailed up--big as houses-- heavy, heavy, damned heavy,' replied the stranger, as he forced into his pocket as much as he could of the brown paper parcel, which presented most suspicious indications of containing one shirt and a handkerchief.
'Heads, heads--take care of your heads!' cried the loquacious stranger, as they came out under the low archway, which in those days formed the entrance to the coach-yard. 'Terrible place-- dangerous work--other day--five children--mother--tall lady, eating sandwiches--forgot the arch--crash--knock--children look round--mother's head off--sandwich in her hand--no mouth to put it in--head of a family off--shocking, shocking! Looking at Whitehall, sir?--fine place--little window--somebody else's head off there, eh, sir?--he didn't keep a sharp look-out enough either--eh, Sir, eh?'
'I am ruminating,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'on the strange mutability of human affairs.'
'Ah! I see--in at the palace door one day, out at the window the next. Philosopher, Sir?' 'An observer of human nature, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Ah, so am I. Most people are when they've little to do and less to get. Poet, Sir?'
'My friend Mr. Snodgrass has a strong poetic turn,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'So have I,' said the stranger. 'Epic poem--ten thousand lines --revolution of July--composed it on the spot--Mars by day, Apollo by night--bang the field-piece, twang the lyre.'
'You were present at that glorious scene, sir?' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'Present! think I was;* fired a musket--fired with an idea-- rushed into wine shop--wrote it down--back again--whiz, bang --another idea--wine shop again--pen and ink--back again-- cut and slash--noble time, Sir. Sportsman, sir ?'abruptly turning to Mr. Winkle. [* A remarkable instance of the prophetic force of Mr. Jingle's imagination; this dialogue occurring in the year 1827, and the Revolution in 1830.
'A little, Sir,' replied that gentleman.
'Fine pursuit, sir--fine pursuit.--Dogs, Sir?'
'Not just now,' said Mr. Winkle.
'Ah! you should keep dogs--fine animals--sagacious creatures --dog of my own once--pointer--surprising instinct--out shooting one day--entering inclosure--whistled--dog stopped-- whistled again--Ponto--no go; stock still--called him--Ponto, Ponto--wouldn't move--dog transfixed--staring at a board-- looked up, saw an inscription--"Gamekeeper has orders to shoot all dogs found in this inclosure"--wouldn't pass it--wonderful dog--valuable dog that--very.'
'Singular circumstance that,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Will you allow me to make a note of it?'
'Certainly, Sir, certainly--hundred more anecdotes of the same animal.--Fine girl, Sir' (to Mr. Tracy Tupman, who had been bestowing sundry anti-Pickwickian glances on a young lady by the roadside).
'Very!' said Mr. Tupman.
'English girls not so fine as Spanish--noble creatures--jet hair --black eyes--lovely forms--sweet creatures--beautiful.'
'You have been in Spain, sir?' said Mr. Tracy Tupman.
'Lived there--ages.' 'Many conquests, sir?' inquired Mr. Tupman.
'Conquests! Thousands. Don Bolaro Fizzgig--grandee--only daughter--Donna Christina--splendid creature--loved me to distraction--jealous father--high-souled daughter--handsome Englishman--Donna Christina in despair--prussic acid-- stomach pump in my portmanteau--operation performed--old Bolaro in ecstasies--consent to our union--join hands and floods of tears--romantic story--very.'
'Is the lady in England now, sir?' inquired Mr.