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Summary Chapter 50

Because of rain, Mr. Pickwick and his friends find themselves detained at the Bush in Birmingham, when Mr. Pickwick decides to brave the weather. His friends agree that traveling in the rain is preferable to being cooped up all day. However, it isn’t long before Bob Sawyer and Sam Weller, who have been riding, as before, on the driver’s seat and are drenched, persuade Mr. Pickwick to stop and rest at Saracen’s Head inn.

Subsequently, at Saracen’s Head, Mr. Pickwick and his friends, secure a room, get a fire going, and dry themselves when Sam Weller, upon delivering Mr. Pickwick’s letter to the inn’s landlord who is to have it sent to Mr. Winkle in London by post mail, notices a familiar face—the face of Mr. Pott, the editor of the Eatanswill Gazette and a member of the Eatanswill’s Blue political faction. However, when Sam greets Mr. Pott, the latter cautions the former to keep his name hush-hush as they are among members of the Buff political faction who won’t hesitate to mob and harass Mr. Pott should they get wind of his presence.

By and by, Mr. Pott greets Mr. Pickwick and makes the acquaintance of Bob Sawyer and Ben Allen. When Mr. Pickwick wonders about Mr. Pott’s reason for being in Birmingham, Mr. Pott produces the latest edition of the Eatanswill Gazette and reads aloud a paragraph that condemns the Buff party for organizing a ball in Birmingham and that avows the members of the Blue political faction will not stand idly by but will do all they can to sabotage the Buff gathering. Presently, Ben Allen and Bob Sawyer, who had fallen asleep during Mr. Pott’s reading of the paragraph, awake to partake of dinner with Mr. Pott and Mr. Pickwick.

Meanwhile, a short, haughty man with stiff black hair like a porcupine’s arrives at Saracen’s Head. His name is Slurk. When he asks the landlord if the name rings any bells, the landlords admits that it does not. Consequently, Mr. Slurk laments the uselessness of cultivating one’s political convictions in the minds of the masses. Presently, as it is too late to obtain a sitting room with a fire, Mr. Slurk settles before the kitchen fire with rum and water.

Meanwhile, when the fire goes out in the sitting room that is presently occupied by Mr. Pickwick and his friends, Bob Sawyer proposes that they repair to the kitchen. The proposal is adopted, and Mr. Pickwick and his friends go to the kitchen when Mr. Pott suddenly stops in his tracks. As it turns out, Mr. Slurk, who is before the kitchen fire, is the editor of the Buff party supported newspaper the Independent and Mr. Pott’s mortal enemy.

Nonetheless, Mr. Pott takes his seat before the fire, reads the enemy’s paper the Independent, and mutters invectives aimed at the contents of the Independent. Mr. Slurk does likewise with regard his enemy’s paper the Eatanswill Gazette. Meanwhile, Ben Allen and Bob Sawyer find all of this so amusing that when hostilities subside, Bob Sawyer provokes the two adversaries to go at it again. But this time Mr. Pott and Mr. Slurk resort to physical blows as Mr. Slurk uses his bag, which contains a blunt object, and Mr. Pott uses a fire-shovel. Alas, in trying to part them asunder, Mr. Pickwick finds himself between them and the recipient of their physical blows before Sam manages to extricate him. By and by, Sam restrains Mr. Pott, while Ben Allen and Bob Sawyer, at Sam’s behest, restrain Mr. Slurk.

Though the two adversaries threaten each other with physical retribution come morning, they both conclude that their causes will be best served in words. Consequently, they repair to their respective rooms to write editorials which will portray the other in the worst of lights.

Charles Dickens