close frontispiece and title page
The New York Public Library, Berg Collection of
English and American Literature

"Call Samuel Weller!"
This broadside announces a reading by Dickens on December 29, 1858, in the Lecture Hall at Chatham in Kent (not far from Gad's Hill), closing with the audience favorite, and the most frequently performed of his readings, The Trial from Pickwick. Like the immortal Sairey in Dickens's reading Mrs. Gamp, so too was Sam Weller, Mr. Pickwick's nonpareil valet, accorded a "reception" at the first mention of his name. Even at the very first performance of The Trial from Pickwick, when Serjeant Buzfuz, the pompous attorney for the plaintiff, rose and said, "Call Samuel Weller," Dickens noted proudly that the audience "gave a thunder of applause, as if he were really coming in."