The Pickwick Papers: Hats

There are very few moments in a man’s existence when he experiences so much ludicrous distress, or meets with so little charitable commiseration, as when he is in pursuit of his own hat. A vast deal of coolness, and a peculiar degree of judgment, are requisite in catching a hat. A man must not be too precipitate, or he runs over it; he must not rush into the opposite extreme, or he loses it altogether. The best way is, to keep gently up with the object of pursuit, to be wary and cautious, to watch your opportunity well, get gradually before it, then make a rapid dive, seize it by the crown, and stick it firmly on your head: smiling pleasantly all the time, as if you thought it as good a joke as anybody else.

—Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers

Mr. Pickwick in Chase of his Hat

Mr. Pickwick in Chase of his Hat. Illustration by Robert Seymour.

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4 comments on “The Pickwick Papers: Hats

  1. Seesaw says:

    I do not know why I love him, but I know that I do love everything Dickens wrote!

  2. Sylvia says:

    I'm really enjoying the Pickwick Papers. I can see intimations of Little Dorrit, Bleak House, and even A Christmas Carol in it already, and I still have a ways to go. I think Pickwick's valet is also the precursor to Jeeves. He is always getting his master out of scrapes!

  3. Tom says:

    Great quote. The same holds true for stumbling on a sidewalk. Just smile – even laugh a little – like you think it's a great joke you're in on with everyone else.

  4. Sylvia says:

    Tom, that sounds better than looking back angrily at the imaginary obstacle that caused the trip. 😀

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