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There was a club in the prison, in which Mr. Micawber, as a
gentleman, was a great authority. Mr. Micawber had stated his idea
of this petition to the club, and the club had strongly approved of
the same. Wherefore Mr. Micawber (who was a thoroughly
good-natured man, and as active a creature about everything but his
own affairs as ever existed, and never so happy as when he was busy
about something that could never be of any profit to him) set to
work at the petition, invented it, engrossed it on an immense sheet
of paper, spread it out on a table, and appointed a time for all
the club, and all within the walls if they chose, to come up to his
room and sign it.

When I heard of this approaching ceremony, I was so anxious to see
them all come in, one after another, though I knew the greater part
of them already, and they me, that I got an hour's leave of absence
from Murdstone and Grinby's, and established myself in a corner for
that purpose. As many of the principal members of the club as
could be got into the small room without filling it, supported Mr.
Micawber in front of the petition, while my old friend Captain
Hopkins (who had washed himself, to do honour to so solemn an
occasion) stationed himself close to it, to read it to all who were
unacquainted with its contents. The door was then thrown open, and
the general population began to come in, in a long file: several
waiting outside, while one entered, affixed his signature, and went
out. To everybody in succession, Captain Hopkins said: 'Have you
read it?' - 'No.' - 'Would you like to hear it read?' If he
weakly showed the least disposition to hear it, Captain Hopkins, in
a loud sonorous voice, gave him every word of it. The Captain
would have read it twenty thousand times, if twenty thousand people
would have heard him, one by one. I remember a certain luscious
roll he gave to such phrases as 'The people's representatives in
Parliament assembled,' 'Your petitioners therefore humbly approach
your honourable house,' 'His gracious Majesty's unfortunate
subjects,' as if the words were something real in his mouth, and
delicious to taste; Mr. Micawber, meanwhile, listening with a
little of an author's vanity, and contemplating (not severely) the
spikes on the opposite wall.

As I walked to and fro daily between Southwark and Blackfriars, and
lounged about at meal-times in obscure streets, the stones of which
may, for anything I know, be worn at this moment by my childish
feet, I wonder how many of these people were wanting in the crowd
that used to come filing before me in review again, to the echo of
Captain Hopkins's voice! When my thoughts go back, now, to that
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