Chapter 2. Full report of the first meeting of the Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything

by Charles Dickens

We have made the most unparalleled and extraordinary exertions to place before our readers a complete and accurate account of the proceedings at the late grand meeting of the Mudfog Association, holden in the town of Mudfog; it affords us great happiness to lay the result before them, in the shape of various communications received from our able, talented, and graphic correspondent, expressly sent down for the purpose, who has immortalized us, himself, Mudfog, and the association, all at one and the same time.  We have been, indeed, for some days unable to determine who will transmit the greatest name to posterity; ourselves, who sent our correspondent down; our correspondent, who wrote an account of the matter; or the association, who gave our correspondent something to write about.  We rather incline to the opinion that we are the greatest man of the party, inasmuch as the notion of an exclusive and authentic report originated with us; this may be prejudice: it may arise from a prepossession on our part in our own favour.  Be it so.  We have no doubt that every gentleman concerned in this mighty assemblage is troubled with the same complaint in a greater or less degree; and it is a consolation to us to know that we have at least this feeling in common with the great scientific stars, the brilliant and extraordinary luminaries, whose speculations we record.

We give our correspondent’s letters in the order in which they reached us.  Any attempt at amalgamating them into one beautiful whole, would only destroy that glowing tone, that dash of wildness, and rich vein of picturesque interest, which pervade them throughout.

Mudfog, Monday night, seven o’clock.

‘We are in a state of great excitement here.  Nothing is spoken of, but the approaching meeting of the association.  The inn-doors are thronged with waiters anxiously looking for the expected arrivals; and the numerous bills which are wafered up in the windows of private houses, intimating that there are beds to let within, give the streets a very animated and cheerful appearance, the wafers being of a great variety of colours, and the monotony of printed inscriptions being relieved by every possible size and style of hand-writing.  It is confidently rumoured that Professors Snore, Doze, and Wheezy have engaged three beds and a sitting-room at the Pig and Tinder-box.  I give you the rumour as it has reached me; but I cannot, as yet, vouch for its accuracy.  The moment I have been enabled to obtain any certain information upon this interesting point, you may depend upon receiving it.’

Half-past seven.

I have just returned from a personal interview with the landlord of the Pig and Tinder-box.  He speaks confidently of the probability of Professors Snore, Doze, and Wheezy taking up their residence at his house during the sitting of the association, but denies that the beds have been yet engaged; in which representation he is confirmed by the chambermaid—a girl of artless manners, and interesting appearance.  The boots denies that it is at all likely that Professors Snore, Doze, and Wheezy will put up here; but I have reason to believe that this man has been suborned by the proprietor of the Original Pig, which is the opposition hotel.  Amidst such conflicting testimony it is difficult to arrive at the real truth; but you may depend upon receiving authentic information upon this point the moment the fact is ascertained.  The excitement still continues.  A boy fell through the window of the pastrycook’s shop at the corner of the High-street about half an hour ago, which has occasioned much confusion.  The general impression is, that it was an accident.  Pray heaven it may prove so!’

Tuesday, noon.

‘At an early hour this morning the bells of all the churches struck seven o’clock; the effect of which, in the present lively state of the town, was extremely singular.  While I was at breakfast, a yellow gig, drawn by a dark grey horse, with a patch of white over his right eyelid, proceeded at a rapid pace in the direction of the Original Pig stables; it is currently reported that this gentleman has arrived here for the purpose of attending the association, and, from what I have heard, I consider it extremely probable, although nothing decisive is yet known regarding him.  You may conceive the anxiety with which we are all looking forward to the arrival of the four o’clock coach this afternoon.

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