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Summary Chapter 13

The Pickwickians arrive in Eatanswilll which is engrossed in an election pitting Samuel Slumkey of the Blue faction against Horatio Fizkin, Esq., of the Buff faction, for a seat in Parliament. The Pickwickians are on their way to the Town Arms Inn when they are caught in the middle of a mob which is predominantly pro Slumkey. Ergo, Mr. Pickwick joins the mob in cheering for Slumkey, compelling Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Tupman to wonder why Mr. Pickwick would side himself with Slumkey when he has no idea who Slumkey is or what he stands for. Mr. Pickwick’s sage reply is that when caught in a mob, the best thing to do is to align oneself with the mob.

At the Town Arms Inn, the Pickwickians find themselves in a quandary. There may not be enough beds for them; and the fact there may or not be enough beds for them turns out to be contingent on their allegiance to either the Blue or Buff faction. Consequently, Mr. Pickwick enquires after Mr. Perker, the attorney who represented Mr. Wardle, and the attorney from whom Mr. Pickwick had found about Eatanswill and its election process in the first place.

Presently, the Pickwickians meet with Mr. Perker and exchange greetings. From Mr. Perker, who is of the Blue faction, the Pickwickians learn of the tremendous rivalry that exists between the Blue and Buff factions. The rivalry is so heated that both sides will go to extraordinary lengths to secure the majority vote on behalf of their man, including the keeping of potential opposition voters in a stupor of alcohol intoxication to prevent them from voting.

Through Mr. Perker, the Pickwickians are introduced to Mr. Pott, the editor of the Eatanswill Gazette, which is partial to the Blue faction. Mr. Pott proves to be very proud of his work at the Gazette and of his calling as an “impartial newsman.” By and by, when the Pickwickians communicate to Mr. Pott of their lodging quandary, Mr. Pott provides them with a solution: Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass are to repair to the Peacock where there are two beds available; and Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Winkle are to be Mr. Pott’s guests in his mansion. Afraid to impose, Mr. Pickwick objects to the arrangement, but Mr. Pott insists. As Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass have no objections on their part and as the Pickwickians really have no other options, Mr. Pickwick grudgingly agrees to the arrangement.

At Mr. Pott’s mansion, the Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Winkle make the acquaintance of Mrs. Pott who is only too glad to entertain guests. Complaining that her life is a secluded one, and that Mr. Pott’s obsession with politics bores her to tears, Mrs. Pott welcomes the Pickwickians. Thus, Mrs. Pott engages Mr. Winkle in a game of cards, while Mr. Pickwick indulges Mr. Pott who regales Mr. Pickwick with some of his editorial compostions.

The next day, Mr. Samuel Weller arrives at the Pott’s residence to attend to Mr. Pickwick. While attending to Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Weller tells Mr. Pickwick a story about his—Mr. Weller’s—father which attests to the seriousness with which the people of Eatanswill take their politics. As the story goes, Mr. Weller’s father, who operated a coach, was commissioned by an Eatanswill faction to bring voters from London to tip the balance of the votes. However, when the opposition got wind of the scheme, they warned Mr. Weller’s father of the possibility of an accident that might befall Mr. Weller’s father’s coach on a certain bridge en route to Eatanswill. Sure enough, on the day Mr. Weller’s father was transporting potential voters, his coach got upset on the very bridge mentioned and all the people were thrown into the canal which the bridge spanned. Needless to say, Mr. Pickwick is astounded with Mr. Weller’s story.

Presently, Mr. Pickwick joins the others for breakfast, and then he accompanies Mr. Pott to the Town Arms where a political rally is taking place. Meanwhile, Mr. Winkle goes with Mrs. Pott who is determined to procure a bird’s eye view of the political rally from a house top.

When Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Pott arrive at the Town Arms, a sizable contingent of Blue faction supporters has assembled at the stable-yard. The assembly is to be treated to a photo-op of sorts in which the Blue faction candidate will shake the hands of twenty men and pat the heads of six children before addressing the assembly. The photo-op of sorts goes according to plan even as Mr. Pickwick finds himself buffeted midst the crowd, which has by osmosis all of sudden become a hybrid of Blue and Buff factions. Indeed, when Mr. Pickwick spots Mrs. Pott and Mr. Winkle on a nearby house top and waves to them, to Mr. Pickwick’s indignation, the unruly crowd takes Mr. Pickwick to task, accusing him of trying to steal Mr. Pott’s wife.

Presently, the Mayor of Eatanswill addresses the crowd even as most of what he has to say is drowned out by the noise of the crowd. Indeed, the noise of the crowd drowns out most of what anybody has to say, including the respective speeches of Horatio Fizkin, Esq., and Samuel Slumkey, as the opposing factions do all they can to disrupt the opposing candidates. Eventually, at the behest of both the candidates, a semblance of order is established.

With relative order established, both candidates manage to have their speeches heard. Both candidates extol the voting populace, and they both promise to do all they can to advance Eatanswill’s economy. When the Mayor openly states his support for Samuel Slumkey, Horatio Fizkin demands a poll. His demand is obliged.

Charles Dickens