'In Peregrine Pickle, ' says Walter Allen in his new Introduction to this work, 'the parts are much better than the whole. But how good some of the parts are! And how wonderfully Smollett keeps up his succession of practical jokes! One feels they ought to bore us they do not. And one reason they do not is the sheer speed of Smollett's prose: there never was a more energetic master of narrative. Another reason, of course, is the excellence of the jokes themselves. Trunnion's wedding, for example, or that scene in which Peregrine buys a gipsy's daughter and passes her off in society as a fine lady. 'Pickle is a very efficient device for Smollett's purposes. His function is, as it were, that of a joke-machine, a mechanism by which a headlong series of practical jokes are projected one after another. Some of these jokes will seem to us merely cruel Hawser Trunnion, Pickle's butt in the first half of the novel, is shown as anybody's game and when we read of the jests played upon him by his ward we must be reminded of the eighteenth century attitude to the wretched inmates of Bedlam madness, even eccentricity, had no rights. 'Later, however, as Trunnion ceases to dominate the novel, the purpose though not the nature of the jokes changes. They become instruments by which folly is exposed and affectations ridiculed and much of the satire that results still cuts deeply even today.