Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1167
Peregrine Pickle, called Perry in his younger days, a headstrong, rebellious young man. Bitterly disliked by his mother in his childhood, Peregrine is adopted by his godfather, a retired naval officer who lavishes money on his young ward, educates him, saves him from a love affair regarded as...
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Peregrine Pickle, called Perry in his younger days, a headstrong, rebellious young man. Bitterly disliked by his mother in his childhood, Peregrine is adopted by his godfather, a retired naval officer who lavishes money on his young ward, educates him, saves him from a love affair regarded as imprudent, and sends him traveling on the Continent. Although wealthy after his benefactor’s death, Peregrine suffers reverses caused by his extravagance, his delight in practical jokes, and his foolhardiness in writing satires on public officials after he has stood unsuccessfully for Parliament and has been reduced to near penury. Thrown into prison and without influential friends, he nevertheless refuses the hand and fortune of Emilia Gauntlet, with whom he is in love. He is saved by an inheritance from his father, marries Emilia, and settles down to the life of a country squire. Peregrine Pickle is developed beyond Smollett’s other title characters. On his travels, he is thrown with intellectuals, the associations leading to lengthy discussions on political, cultural, and philosophical matters. He is also given to foolhardy and sometimes licentious behavior.
Commodore Hawser Trunnion
Commodore Hawser Trunnion, Peregrine’s godfather and benefactor. An old sea dog, Trunnion keeps his house—called “the garrison”—like a ship; his speech is sharp and salty with naval jargon. His maintenance of a ship’s atmosphere makes for much of the comedy in the novel.
Thomas Pipes, Trunnion’s companion and servant, retired from the sea. He becomes a companion to Peregrine when he is sent to school and on his travels. Loyal to the young man, Pipes rescues his wayward master from many scrapes.
Lieutenant Jack Hatchway
Lieutenant Jack Hatchway, the commodore’s one-legged companion. Like Pipes, he often shows up when Peregrine needs help. Hatchway’s most opportune appearance comes when Peregrine is in Fleet Prison after his arrest for writing the political satires.
Emilia Gauntlet, called Emy by her family, Peregrine’s sweetheart, whom he meets while he is attending Winchester School. The recurrent meetings of these two, tempered by quarrels and avowals of devotion, are for much of the story secondary in importance to Peregrine’s pursuit of other women. Eventually, Peregrine offers her his hand, and Emilia accepts.
Godfrey Gauntlet, her brother. After a brief period of animosity, during which he worsts Peregrine in a duel, he becomes a devoted friend on learning that Peregrine is his secret benefactor. Peregrine, in his prosperous days, had anonymously provided funds for Godfrey and had used his influence to secure Godfrey’s captaincy in the navy.
Gamaliel Pickle, Peregrine’s father, the soul of humbleness and the butt of his wife’s ill temper. He is happy to see his son taken by Trunnion, away from the meanness of his wife. Whether unwittingly or not, Gamaliel wins the final victory over his wife; he dies intestate, and his money goes to Peregrine, his first-born son.
Sally Appleby, Gamaliel’s termagant wife. Left unprovided for at the death of her husband, she is forced to live on an allowance from Peregrine.
Grizzle Pickle, Gamaliel’s sister and his housekeeper until he marries Sally. Refusing to be subjugated by her sister-in-law, Grizzle finds escape when she becomes Mrs. Trunnion. Her death brings sadness to Peregrine, who has considered her more a mother than an aunt.
Gam Pickle, Peregrine’s young brother. His mother’s favorite child, Gam conspires with his mother in her scheming. Their hatred for Peregrine is shown in their plot to have him murdered. Godfrey Gauntlet, mistaken for Peregrine, suffers from their machinations. Gam faces a dismal future when he is ordered away from the property with his mother, after Peregrine inherits his father’s estate.
Julia Pickle, Peregrine’s sister and the youngest of the children, who also suffers her mother’s ill will. Sympathetic to Peregrine, she is taken in and cared for by Grizzle Trunnion.
Layman Pallet, an English traveler whom Peregrine meets at the Palais Royal in Paris. In addition to his discussion on art and the other aspects of sophistication that he lends to the story, he is pictured, almost in burlesque and in raucous circumstances, trying to seduce a woman in a party traveling to Ghent.
The Doctor, Pallet’s traveling companion. His knowledge as a connoisseur of foods and wines adds to the tone of the story, stressing Peregrine’s sophistication.
Cadwallader Crabtree, an eccentric old man whom Peregrine meets when he returns to London. Posing as a fortune teller, he allows Peregrine to learn many women’s secrets.
Deborah Hornbeck, the attractive wife of an English traveler in Paris. Her elopement with Peregrine threatens to become an international incident. The British ambassador sends Deborah back to her husband. After a second affair with her, Peregrine is put into prison. Freed, he is given three days to leave Paris.
Lady Vane, a notorious lady of quality. Her memoirs, which make up a sizable section of the novel, tell of her many lovers.
Amanda, a young woman traveling to Ghent. Peregrine’s efforts to seduce her are exceeded in comedy only by Pallet’s simultaneous activities with her traveling companion.
Jolter, a teacher at Winchester School, hired by Trunnion to act as Peregrine’s traveling companion on the Continent.
Miss Sophy, Emilia Gauntlet’s cousin, who helps Peregrine in his affair with Emilia.
A Young Female Beggar
A Young Female Beggar, whom Peregrine encounters on the road to London. In Pygmalion-like manner, he buys her fashionable gowns and teaches her polite phrases in order to pass her off as a lady; however, her gaucherie causes him to lose friends.
Sir Steady Steerwell
Sir Steady Steerwell, the minister of public affairs and the subject of the satire that sends Peregrine to the Fleet Prison.
Charles Clover, Julia Pickle’s husband, who informs Peregrine of his father’s death. A young justice of the peace, he aborts any plan Gam and his mother may have to forge a will after Gamaliel Pickle dies intestate.
Cecilia Gauntlet, Emilia’s mother. She reprimands Peregrine for his conduct toward her daughter. Later, she is much in favor of her son-in-law.
Mr. Sackbut, the curate, who plots with Gam and Sally to murder Peregrine.
Morgan, a Welsh surgeon identified as Dr. Morgan, a character in Smollett’s earlier novel Roderick Random.
Benjamin Chintz, a merchant who repays with interest a loan of seven hundred pounds while Peregrine is in Fleet Prison. The repayment marks the reversal of Peregrine’s bad fortune.
Jumble, Peregrine’s teachers, against whom, as a youngster, he rebels because of their hypocrisy.
Hadgi, Peregrine’s valet on his travels. Peregrine befriends him after the party has returned to England and Hadgi is out of Peregrine’s employ.