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Men's Wives by William Makepeace Thackeray

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born. Where are they now? Fred the brave captain, and Charles the
saucy colleger: there hangs a drawing of him done by Mr. Beechey,
and that sketch by Cosway was the very likeness of Louisa before--

"Mr. Fitz-Boodle! for Heaven's sake come down. What are you doing
in a lady's bedroom?"

"The fact is, madam, I had no business there in life; but, having
had quite enough wine with Sir George, my thoughts had wandered
upstairs into the sanctuary of female excellence, where your
Ladyship nightly reposes. You do not sleep so well now as in old
days, though there is no patter of little steps to wake you
overhead."

They call that room the nursery still, and the little wicket still
hangs at the upper stairs: it has been there for forty years--bon
Dieu! Can't you see the ghosts of little faces peering over it? I
wonder whether they get up in the night as the moonlight shines into
the blank vacant old room, and play there solemnly with little
ghostly horses, and the spirits of dolls, and tops that turn and
turn but don't hum.

Once more, sir, come down to the lower storey--that is to the
Morgiana story--with which the above sentences have no more to do
than this morning's leading article in The Times; only it was at
this house of Sir George Thrum's that I met Morgiana. Sir George,
in old days, had instructed some of the female members of our
family, and I recollect cutting my fingers as a child with one of
those attenuated green-handled knives in the queer box yonder.

In those days Sir George Thrum was the first great musical teacher
of London, and the royal patronage brought him a great number of
fashionable pupils, of whom Lady Fitz-Boodle was one. It was a long
long time ago: in fact, Sir George Thrum was old enough to remember
persons who had been present at Mr. Braham's first appearance, and
the old gentleman's days of triumph had been those of Billington and
Incledon, Catalani and Madame Storace.

He was the author of several operas ("The Camel Driver," "Britons
Alarmed; or, the Siege of Bergen-op-Zoom," etc. etc.), and, of
course, of songs which had considerable success in their day, but
are forgotten now, and are as much faded and out of fashion as those
old carpets which we have described in the professor's house, and
which were, doubtless, very brilliant once. But such is the fate of
carpets, of flowers, of music, of men, and of the most admirable
novels--even this story will not be alive for many centuries. Well,
well, why struggle against Fate?

But, though his heyday of fashion was gone, Sir George still held
his place among the musicians of the old school, conducted
occasionally at the Ancient Concerts and the Philharmonic, and his
glees are still favourites after public dinners, and are sung by
those old bacchanalians, in chestnut wigs, who attend for the
purpose of amusing the guests on such occasions of festivity. The
great old people at the gloomy old concerts before mentioned always
pay Sir George marked respect; and, indeed, from the old gentleman's
peculiar behaviour to his superiors, it is impossible they should
not be delighted with him, so he leads at almost every one of the
concerts in the old-fashioned houses in town.

Becomingly obsequious to his superiors, he is with the rest of the
world properly majestic, and has obtained no small success by his
admirable and undeviating respectability. Respectability has been
his great card through life; ladies can trust their daughters at Sir
George Thrum's academy. "A good musician, madam," says he to the
mother of a new pupil, "should not only have a fine ear, a good
voice, and an indomitable industry, but, above all, a faultless
character--faultless, that is, as far as our poor nature will
permit. And you will remark that those young persons with whom your
lovely daughter, Miss Smith, will pursue her musical studies, are
all, in a moral point of view, as spotless as that charming young
lady. How should it be otherwise? I have been myself the father of
a family; I have been honoured with the intimacy of the wisest and
best of kings, my late sovereign George III., and I can proudly show
an example of decorum to my pupils in my Sophia. Mrs. Smith, I have
the honour of introducing to you my Lady Thrum."

The old lady would rise at this, and make a gigantic curtsey, such a
one as had begun the minuet at Ranelagh fifty years ago; and, the
introduction ended, Mrs. Smith would retire, after having seen the
portraits of the princes, his late Majesty's snuff-box, and a piece
of music which he used to play, noted by himself--Mrs. Smith, I say,
would drive back to Baker Street, delighted to think that her
Frederica had secured so eligible and respectable a master. I
forgot to say that, during the interview between Mrs. Smith and Sir
George, the latter would be called out of his study by his black
servant, and my Lady Thrum would take that opportunity of mentioning
when he was knighted, and how he got his foreign order, and
deploring the sad condition of OTHER musical professors, and the
dreadful immorality which sometimes arose in consequence of their
laxness. Sir George was a good deal engaged to dinners in the
season, and if invited to dine with a nobleman, as he might possibly
be on the day when Mrs. Smith requested the honour of his company,
he would write back "that he should have had the sincerest happiness
in waiting upon Mrs. Smith in Baker Street, if, previously, my Lord
Tweedledale had not been so kind as to engage him." This letter, of
course, shown by Mrs. Smith to her friends, was received by them
with proper respect; and thus, in spite of age and new fashions, Sir
George still reigned pre-eminent for a mile round Cavendish Square.
By the young pupils of the academy he was called Sir Charles
Grandison; and, indeed, fully deserved this title on account of the
indomitable respectability of his whole actions.

It was under this gentleman that Morgiana made her debut in public
life. I do not know what arrangements may have been made between
Sir George Thrum and his pupil regarding the profits which were to
accrue to the former from engagements procured by him for the
latter; but there was, no doubt, an understanding between them. For
Sir George, respectable as he was, had the reputation of being
extremely clever at a bargain; and Lady Thrum herself, in her great
high-tragedy way, could purchase a pair of soles or select a leg of
mutton with the best housekeeper in London.

When, however, Morgiana had been for some six months under his
tuition, he began, for some reason or other, to be exceedingly
hospitable, and invited his friends to numerous entertainments: at
one of which, as I have said, I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs.
Walker.

Although the worthy musician's dinners were not good, the old knight
had some excellent wine in his cellar, and his arrangement of his
party deserves to be commended.

For instance, he meets me and Bob Fitz-Urse in Pall Mall, at whose
paternal house he was also a visitor. "My dear young gentlemen,"
says he, "will you come and dine with a poor musical composer? I
have some Comet hock, and, what is more curious to you, perhaps, as
men of wit, one or two of the great literary characters of London
whom you would like to see--quite curiosities, my dear young
friends." And we agreed to go.

To the literary men he says: "I have a little quiet party at home:
Lord Roundtowers, the Honourable Mr. Fitz-Urse of the Life Guards,
and a few more. Can you tear yourself away from the war of wits,
and take a quiet dinner with a few mere men about town?"

The literary men instantly purchase new satin stocks and white
gloves, and are delighted to fancy themselves members of the world
of fashion. Instead of inviting twelve Royal Academicians, or a
dozen authors, or a dozen men of science to dinner, as his Grace the
Duke of ----- and the Right Honourable Sir Robert ----- are in the
habit of doing once a year, this plan of fusion is the one they
should adopt. Not invite all artists, as they would invite all
farmers to a rent dinner; but they should have a proper commingling
of artists and men of the world. There is one of the latter whose
name is George Savage Fitz-Boodle, who-- But let us return to Sir
George Thrum.

Fitz-Urse and I arrive at the dismal old house, and are conducted up
the staircase by a black servant, who shouts out, "Missa
Fiss-Boodle--the HONOURABLE Missa Fiss-Urse!" It was evident that
Lady Thrum had instructed the swarthy groom of the chambers (for
there is nothing particularly honourable in my friend Fitz's face
that I know of, unless an abominable squint may be said to be so).
Lady Thrum, whose figure is something like that of the shot-tower
opposite Waterloo Bridge, makes a majestic inclination and a speech
to signify her pleasure at receiving under her roof two of the
children of Sir George's best pupils. A lady in black velvet is
seated by the old fireplace, with whom a stout gentleman in an
exceedingly light coat and ornamental waistcoat is talking very
busily. "The great star of the night," whispers our host. "Mrs.
Walker, gentlemen--the RAVENSWING! She is talking to the famous Mr.
Slang, of the ----- Theatre."

"Is she a fine singer?" says Fitz-Urse. "She's a very fine woman."

"My dear young friends, you shall hear to-night! I, who have heard
every fine voice in Europe, confidently pledge my respectability
that the Ravenswing is equal to them all. She has the graces, sir,
of a Venus with the mind of a Muse. She is a siren, sir, without
the dangerous qualities of one. She is hallowed, sir, by her
misfortunes as by her genius; and I am proud to think that my
instructions have been the means of developing the wondrous
qualities that were latent within her until now."

"You don't say so!" says gobemouche Fitz-Urse.

Having thus indoctrinated Mr. Fitz-Urse, Sir George takes another of
his guests, and proceeds to work upon him. "My dear Mr. Bludyer,
how do you do? Mr. Fitz-Boodle, Mr. Bludyer, the brilliant and
accomplished wit, whose sallies in the Tomahawk delight us every
Saturday. Nay, no blushes, my dear sir; you are very wicked, but
oh! SO pleasant. Well, Mr. Bludyer, I am glad to see you, sir, and
hope you will have a favourable opinion of our genius, sir. As I
was saying to Mr. Fitz-Boodle, she has the graces of a Venus with
the mind of a Muse. She is a siren, without the dangerous qualities
of one," etc. This little speech was made to half-a-dozen persons
in the course of the evening--persons, for the most part, connected
with the public journals or the theatrical world. There was Mr.
Squinny, the editor of the Flowers of Fashion; Mr. Desmond Mulligan,
the poet, and reporter for a morning paper; and other worthies of
their calling. For though Sir George is a respectable man, and as
high-minded and moral an old gentleman as ever wore knee-buckles, he
does not neglect the little arts of popularity, and can condescend
to receive very queer company if need be.

For instance, at the dinner-party at which I had the honour of
assisting, and at which, on the right hand of Lady Thrum, sat the
oblige nobleman, whom the Thrums were a great deal too wise to omit
(the sight of a lord does good to us commoners, or why else should
we be so anxious to have one?). In the second place of honour, and
on her ladyship's left hand, sat Mr. Slang, the manager of one of
the theatres; a gentleman whom my Lady Thrum would scarcely, but for
a great necessity's sake, have been induced to invite to her table.
He had the honour of leading Mrs. Walker to dinner, who looked
splendid in black velvet and turban, full of health and smiles.

Lord Roundtowers is an old gentleman who has been at the theatres
five times a week for these fifty years, a living dictionary of the
stage, recollecting every actor and actress who has appeared upon it
for half a century. He perfectly well remembered Miss Delancy in
Morgiana; he knew what had become of Ali Baba, and how Cassim had
left the stage, and was now the keeper of a public-house. All this
store of knowledge he kept quietly to himself, or only delivered in
confidence to his next neighbour in the intervals of the banquet,
which he enjoys prodigiously. He lives at an hotel: if not invited
to dine, eats a mutton-chop very humbly at his club, and finishes
his evening after the play at Crockford's, whither he goes not for
the sake of the play, but of the supper there. He is described in
the Court Guide as of "Simmer's Hotel," and of Roundtowers, county
Cork. It is said that the round towers really exist. But he has
not been in Ireland since the rebellion; and his property is so
hampered with ancestral mortgages, and rent-charges, and annuities,
that his income is barely sufficient to provide the modest
mutton-chop before alluded to. He has, any time these fifty years,
lived in the wickedest company in London, and is, withal, as
harmless, mild, good-natured, innocent an old gentleman as can
readily be seen.

"Roundy," shouts the elegant Mr. Slang, across the table, with a
voice which makes Lady Thrum shudder, "Tuff, a glass of wine."

My Lord replies meekly, "Mr. Slang, I shall have very much pleasure.
What shall it be?"

"There is Madeira near you, my Lord," says my Lady, pointing to a
tall thin decanter of the fashion of the year.

"Madeira! Marsala, by Jove, your Ladyship means!" shouts Mr. Slang.
"No, no, old birds are not caught with chaff. Thrum, old boy, let's
have some of your Comet hock."

"My Lady Thrum, I believe that IS Marsala," says the knight,
blushing a little, in reply to a question from his Sophia. "Ajax,
the hock to Mr. Slang."

"I'm in that," yells Bludyer from the end of the table. "My Lord,
I'll join you."

"Mr. -----, I beg your pardon--I shall be very happy to take wine
with you, sir."

"It is Mr. Bludyer, the celebrated newspaper writer," whispers Lady
Thrum.

"Bludyer, Bludyer? A very clever man, I dare say. He has a very
loud voice, and reminds me of Brett. Does your Ladyship remember
Brett, who played the 'Fathers' at the Haymarket in 1802?"

"What an old stupid Roundtowers is!" says Slang, archly, nudging
Mrs. Walker in the side. "How's Walker, eh?"

My husband is in the country," replied Mrs. Walker, hesitatingly.

"Gammon! _I_ know where he is! Law bless you!--don't blush. I've
been there myself a dozen times. We were talking about quod, Lady
Thrum. Were you ever in college?"

"I was at the Commemoration at Oxford in 1814, when the sovereigns
were there, and at Cambridge when Sir George received his degree of
Doctor of Music."

"Laud, Laud, THAT'S not the college WE mean."

"There is also the college in Gower Street, where my grandson--"

"This is the college in QUEER STREET, ma'am, haw, haw! Mulligan,
you divvle (in an Irish accent), a glass of wine with you. Wine,
here, you waiter! What's your name, you black nigger? 'Possum up a
gum-tree, eh? Fill him up. Dere he go " (imitating the Mandingo
manner of speaking English)

In this agreeable way would Mr. Slang rattle on, speedily making
himself the centre of the conversation, and addressing graceful
familiarities to all the gentlemen and ladies round him.

It was good to see how the little knight, the most moral and calm of
men, was compelled to receive Mr. Slang's stories and the frightened
air with which, at the conclusion of one of them, he would venture
upon a commendatory grin. His lady, on her part too, had been
laboriously civil; and, on the occasion on which I had the honour of
meeting this gentleman and Mrs. Walker, it was the latter who gave
the signal for withdrawing to the lady of the house, by saying, "I
think, Lady Thrum, it is quite time for us to retire." Some
exquisite joke of Mr. Slang's was the cause of this abrupt
disappearance. But, as they went upstairs to the drawing-room, Lady
Thrum took occasion to say, "My dear, in the course of your
profession you will have to submit to many such familiarities on the
part of persons of low breeding, such as I fear Mr. Slang is. But
let me caution you against giving way to your temper as you did.
Did you not perceive that _I_ never allowed him to see my inward
dissatisfaction? And I make it a particular point that you should
be very civil to him to-night. Your interests--our interests depend
upon it."

"And are my interests to make me civil to a wretch like that?"

"Mrs. Walker, would you wish to give lessons in morality and
behaviour to Lady Thrum?" said the old lady, drawing herself up with
great dignity. It was evident that she had a very strong desire
indeed to conciliate Mr. Slang; and hence I have no doubt that Sir
George was to have a considerable share of Morgiana's earnings.

Mr. Bludyer, the famous editor of the Tomahawk, whose jokes Sir
George pretended to admire so much (Sir George who never made a joke
in his life), was a press bravo of considerable talent and no
principle, and who, to use his own words, would "back himself for a
slashing article against any man in England!" He would not only
write, but fight on a pinch; was a good scholar, and as savage in
his manner as with his pen. Mr. Squinny is of exactly the opposite
school, as delicate as milk-and-water, harmless in his habits, fond
of the flute when the state of his chest will allow him, a great
practiser of waltzing and dancing in general, and in his journal
mildly malicious. He never goes beyond the bounds of politeness,
but manages to insinuate a great deal that is disagreeable to an
author in the course of twenty lines of criticism. Personally he is
quite respectable, and lives with two maiden aunts at Brompton.
Nobody, on the contrary, knows where Mr. Bludyer lives. He has
houses of call, mysterious taverns, where he may be found at
particular hours by those who need him, and where panting publishers
are in the habit of hunting him up. For a bottle of wine and a
guinea he will write a page of praise or abuse of any man living, or
on any subject, or on any line of politics. "Hang it, sir!" says
he, "pay me enough and I will write down my own father!" According
to the state of his credit, he is dressed either almost in rags or
else in the extremest flush of the fashion. With the latter attire
he puts on a haughty and aristocratic air, and would slap a duke on
the shoulder. If there is one thing more dangerous than to refuse
to lend him a sum of money when he asks for it, it is to lend it to
him; for he never pays, and never pardons a man to whom he owes.
"Walker refused to cash a bill for me," he had been heard to say,
"and I'll do for his wife when she comes out on the stage!" Mrs.
Walker and Sir George Thrum were in an agony about the Tomahawk;
hence the latter's invitation to Mr. Bludyer. Sir George was in a
great tremor about the Flowers of Fashion, hence his invitation to
Mr. Squinny. Mr. Squinny was introduced to Lord Roundtowers and Mr.
Fitz-Urse as one of the most delightful and talented of our young
men of genius; and Fitz, who believes everything anyone tells him,
was quite pleased to have the honour of sitting near the live editor
of a paper. I have reason to think that Mr. Squinny himself was no
less delighted: I saw him giving his card to Fitz-Urse at the end
of the second course.

No particular attention was paid to Mr. Desmond Mulligan. Political
enthusiasm is his forte. He lives and writes in a rapture. He is,
of course, a member of an inn of court, and greatly addicted to
after-dinner speaking as a preparation for the bar, where as a young
man of genius he hopes one day to shine. He is almost the only man
to whom Bludyer is civil; for, if the latter will fight doggedly
when there is a necessity for so doing, the former fights like an
Irishman, and has a pleasure in it. He has been "on the ground" I
don't know how many times, and quitted his country on account of a
quarrel with Government regarding certain articles published by him
in the Phoenix newspaper. With the third bottle, he becomes
overpoweringly great on the wrongs of Ireland, and at that period
generally volunteers a couple or more of Irish melodies, selecting
the most melancholy in the collection. At five in the afternoon,
you are sure to see him about the House of Commons, and he knows the
"Reform Club" (he calls it the Refawrum) as well as if he were a
member. It is curious for the contemplative mind to mark those
mysterious hangers-on of Irish members of Parliament--strange
runners and aides-de-camp which all the honourable gentlemen appear
to possess. Desmond, in his political capacity, is one of these,
and besides his calling as reporter to a newspaper, is "our
well-informed correspondent" of that famous Munster paper, the Green
Flag of Skibbereen.

With Mr. Mulligan's qualities and history I only became subsequently
acquainted. On the present evening he made but a brief stay at the
dinner-table, being compelled by his professional duties to attend
the House of Commons.

The above formed the party with whom I had the honour to dine. What
other repasts Sir George Thrum may have given, what assemblies of
men of mere science he may have invited to give their opinion
regarding his prodigy, what other editors of papers he may have
pacified or rendered favourable, who knows? On the present
occasion, we did not quit the dinner-table until Mr. Slang the
manager was considerably excited by wine, and music had been heard
for some time in the drawing-room overhead during our absence. An
addition had been made to the Thrum party by the arrival of several
persons to spend the evening,--a man to play on the violin between
the singing, a youth to play on the piano, Miss Horsman to sing with
Mrs. Walker, and other scientific characters. In a corner sat a
red-faced old lady, of whom the mistress of the mansion took little
notice; and a gentleman with a royal button, who blushed and looked
exceedingly modest.

"Hang me!" says Mr. Bludyer, who had perfectly good reasons for
recognising Mr Woolsey, and who on this day chose to assume his
aristocratic air; "there's a tailor in the room! What do they mean
by asking ME to meet tradesmen?"

"Delancy, my dear," cries Slang, entering the room with a reel,
"how's your precious health? Give us your hand! When ARE we to be
married? Make room for me on the sofa, that's a duck!"

"Get along, Slang," says Mrs. Crump, addressed by the manager by her
maiden name (artists generally drop the title of honour which people
adopt in the world, and call each other by their simple
surnames)--"get along, Slang, or I'll tell Mrs. S.!" The
enterprising manager replies by sportively striking Mrs. Crump on
the side a blow which causes a great giggle from the lady insulted,
and a most good-humoured threat to box Slang's ears. I fear very
much that Morgiana's mother thought Mr. Slang an exceedingly
gentlemanlike and agreeable person; besides, she was eager to have
his good opinion of Mrs. Walker's singing.

The manager stretched himself out with much gracefulness on the
sofa, supporting two little dumpy legs encased in varnished boots on
a chair.

"Ajax, some tea to Mr. Slang," said my Lady, looking towards that
gentleman with a countenance expressive of some alarm, I thought.

"That's right, Ajax, my black prince!" exclaimed Slang when the
negro brought the required refreshment; "and now I suppose you'll be
wanted in the orchestra yonder. Don't Ajax play the cymbals, Sir
George?"

"Ha, ha, ha! very good--capital!" answered the knight, exceedingly
frightened; "but ours is not a MILITARY band. Miss Horsman, Mr.
Craw, my dear Mrs. Ravenswing, shall we begin the trio? Silence,
gentlemen, if you please; it is a little piece from my opera of the
'Brigand's Bride.' Miss Horsman takes the Page's part, Mr. Craw is
Stiletto the Brigand, my accomplished pupil is the Bride;" and the
music began.

"THE BRIDE.

"My heart with joy is beating,
My eyes with tears are dim;

"THE PAGE.

"Her heart with joy is beating
Her eyes are fixed on him;

"THE BRIGAND.

"My heart with rage is beating,
In blood my eye-balls swim!"

What may have been the merits of the music or the singing, I, of
course, cannot guess. Lady Thrum sat opposite the tea-cups, nodding
her head and beating time very gravely. Lord Roundtowers, by her
side, nodded his head too, for awhile, and then fell asleep. I
should have done the same but for the manager, whose actions were
worth of remark. He sang with all the three singers, and a great
deal louder than any of them; he shouted bravo! or hissed as he
thought proper; he criticised all the points of Mrs. Walker's
person. "She'll do, Crump, she'll do--a splendid arm--you'll see
her eyes in the shilling gallery! What sort of a foot has she?
She's five feet three, if she's an inch! Bravo--slap up--capital-
-hurrah!" And he concluded by saying, with the aid of the
Ravenswing, he would put Ligonier's nose out of Joint!

The enthusiasm of Mr. Slang almost reconciled Lady Thrum to the
abruptness of his manners, and even caused Sir George to forget that
his chorus had been interrupted by the obstreperous familiarity of
the manager.

"And what do YOU think, Mr. Bludyer," said the tailor, delighted
that his protegee should be thus winning all hearts: "isn't Mrs.
Walker a tip-top singer, eh, sir?"

"I think she's a very bad one, Mr. Woolsey," said the illustrious
author, wishing to abbreviate all communications with a tailor to
whom he owed forty pounds.

"Then, sir," says Mr. Woolsey, fiercely, "I'll--I'll thank you to
pay me my little bill!"

It is true there was no connection between Mrs. Walker's singing and
Woolsey's little bill; that the "THEN, sir," was perfectly illogical
on Woolsey's part; but it was a very happy hit for the future
fortunes of Mrs. Walker. Who knows what would have come of her
debut but for that "Then, sir," and whether a "smashing article"
from the Tomahawk might not have ruined her for ever?

"Are you a relation of Mrs. Walker's?" said Mr. Bludyer, in reply to
the angry tailor.

"What's that to you, whether I am or not?" replied Woolsey,
fiercely. "But I'm the friend of Mrs. Walker, sir; proud am I to
say so, sir; and, as the poet says, sir, 'a little learning's a
dangerous thing,' sir; and I think a man who don't pay his bills may
keep his tongue quiet at least, sir, and not abuse a lady, sir, whom
everybody else praises, sir. You shan't humbug ME any more, sir;
you shall hear from my attorney to-morrow, so mark that!"

"Hush, my dear Mr. Woolsey," cried the literary man, "don't make a
noise; come into this window: is Mrs. Walker REALLY a friend of
yours?"

"I've told you so, sir."

"Well, in that case, I shall do my utmost to serve her and, look
you, Woolsey, any article you choose to send about her to the
Tomahawk I promise you I'll put in."

"WILL you, though? then we'll say nothing about the little bill."

"You may do on that point," answered Bludyer, haughtily, "exactly as
you please. I am not to be frightened from my duty, mind that; and
mind, too, that I can write a slashing article better than any man
in England: I could crush her by ten lines."

The tables were now turned, and it was Woolsey's turn to be alarmed.

"Pooh! pooh! I WAS angry," said he, "because you abuse Mrs. Walker,
who's an angel on earth; but I'm very willing to apologise. I
say--come--let me take your measure for some new clothes, eh! Mr.
B.?"

"I'll come to your shop," answered the literary man, quite appeased.
"Silence! they're beginning another song."

The songs, which I don't attempt to describe (and, upon my word and
honour, as far as I can understand matters, I believe to this day
that Mrs. Walker was only an ordinary singer)--the songs lasted a
great deal longer than I liked; but I was nailed, as it were, to the
spot, having agreed to sup at Knightsbridge barracks with Fitz-Urse,
whose carriage was ordered at eleven o'clock.

"My dear Mr. Fitz-Boodle," said our old host to me, "you can do me
the greatest service in the world."

"Speak, sir!" said I.

"Will you ask your honourable and gallant friend, the Captain, to
drive home Mr. Squinny to Brompton?"

"Can't Mr. Squinny get a cab?"

Sir George looked particularly arch. "Generalship, my dear young
friend--a little harmless generalship. Mr. Squinny will not give
much for MY opinion of my pupil, but he will value very highly the
opinion of the Honourable Mr. FitzUrse."

For a moral man, was not the little knight a clever fellow? He had
bought Mr. Squinny for a dinner worth ten shillings, and for a ride
in a carriage with a lord's son. Squinny was carried to Brompton,
and set down at his aunts' door, delighted with his new friends, and
exceedingly sick with a cigar they had made him smoke.

CHAPTER VIII.

IN WHICH MR. WALKER SHOWS GREAT PRUDENCE AND FORBEARANCE.

The describing of all these persons does not advance Morgiana's
story much. But, perhaps, some country readers are not acquainted
with the class of persons by whose printed opinions they are guided,
and are simple enough to imagine that mere merit will make a
reputation on the stage or elsewhere. The making of a theatrical
success is a much more complicated and curious thing than such
persons fancy it to be. Immense are the pains taken to get a good
word from Mr. This of the Star, or Mr. That of the Courier, to
propitiate the favour of the critic of the day, and get the editors
of the metropolis into a good humour,--above all, to have the name
of the person to be puffed perpetually before the public. Artists
cannot be advertised like Macassar oil or blacking, and they want it
to the full as much; hence endless ingenuity must be practised in
order to keep the popular attention awake. Suppose a great actor
moves from London to Windsor, the Brentford Champion must state that
"Yesterday Mr. Blazes and suite passed rapidly through our city; the
celebrated comedian is engaged, we hear, at Windsor, to give some of
his inimitable readings of our great national bard to the MOST
ILLUSTRIOUS AUDIENCE in the realm." This piece of intelligence the
Hammersmith Observer will question the next week, as thus:--"A
contemporary, the Brentford Champion, says that Blazes is engaged to
give Shakspearian readings at Windsor to "the most illustrious
audience in the realm." We question this fact very much. We would,
indeed, that it were true; but the MOST ILLUSTRIOUS AUDIENCE in the
realm prefer FOREIGN melodies to THE NATIVE WOOD-NOTES WILD of the
sweet song-bird of Avon. Mr. Blazes is simply gone to Eton, where
his son, Master Massinger Blazes, is suffering, we regret to hear,
under a severe attack of the chicken-pox. This complaint (incident
to youth) has raged, we understand, with frightful virulence in Eton
School."

And if, after the above paragraphs, some London paper chooses to
attack the folly of the provincial press, which talks of Mr. Blazes,
and chronicles his movements, as if he were a crowned head, what
harm is done? Blazes can write in his own name to the London
journal, and say that it is not HIS fault if provincial journals
choose to chronicle his movements, and that he was far from wishing
that the afflictions of those who are dear to him should form the
subject of public comment, and be held up to public ridicule. "We
had no intention of hurting the feelings of an estimable public
servant," writes the editor; "and our remarks on the chicken-pox
were general, not personal. We sincerely trust that Master
Massinger Blazes has recovered from that complaint, and that he may
pass through the measles, the whooping-cough, the fourth form, and
all other diseases to which youth is subject, with comfort to
himself, and credit to his parents and teachers." At his next
appearance on the stage after this controversy, a British public
calls for Blazes three times after the play; and somehow there is
sure to be someone with a laurel-wreath in a stage-box, who flings
that chaplet at the inspired artist's feet.

I don't know how it was, but before the debut of Morgiana, the
English press began to heave and throb in a convulsive manner, as if
indicative of the near birth of some great thing. For instance, you
read in one paper,--

"Anecdote of Karl Maria Von Weber.--When the author of 'Oberon' was
in England, he was invited by a noble duke to dinner, and some of
the most celebrated of our artists were assembled to meet him. The
signal being given to descend to the salle-a-manger, the German
composer was invited by his noble host (a bachelor) to lead the way.
'Is it not the fashion in your country,' said he, simply, 'for the
man of the first eminence to take the first place? Here is one
whose genius entitles him to be first ANYWHERE.' And, so saying, he
pointed to our admirable English composer, Sir George Thrum. The
two musicians were friends to the last, and Sir George has still the
identical piece of rosin which the author of the 'Freischutz' gave
him."--The Moon (morning paper), June 2.

"George III. a composer.--Sir George Thrum has in his possession the
score of an air, the words from 'Samson Agonistes,' an autograph of
the late revered monarch. We hear that that excellent composer has
in store for us not only an opera, but a pupil, with whose
transcendent merits the elite of our aristocracy are already
familiar."--Ibid., June 5.

"Music with a Vengeance.--The march to the sound of which the 49th
and 75th regiments rushed up the breach of Badajoz was the
celebrated air from 'Britons Alarmed; or, The Siege of
Bergen-op-Zoom,' by our famous English composer, Sir George Thrum.
Marshal Davoust said that the French line never stood when that air
was performed to the charge of the bayonet. We hear the veteran
musician has an opera now about to appear, and have no doubt that
Old England will now, as then, show its superiority over ALL foreign
opponents."--Albion.

"We have been accused of preferring the produit of the etranger to
the talent of our own native shores; but those who speak so, little
know us. We are fanatici per la musica wherever it be, and welcome
merit dans chaque pays du monde. What do we say? Le merite n'a
point de pays, as Napoleon said; and Sir George Thrum (Chevalier de
l'Ordre de l'Elephant et Chateau de Kalbsbraten-Pumpernickel,) is a
maestro whose fame appartient a l'Europe.

"We have just heard the lovely eleve, whose rare qualities the
Cavaliere has brought to perfection,--we have heard THE RAVENSWING
(pourquoi cacher un nom que demain un monde va saluer?), and a
creature more beautiful and gifted never bloomed before dans nos
climats. She sang the delicious duet of the 'Nabucodonosore,' with
Count Pizzicato, with a bellezza, a grandezza, a raggio, that
excited in the bosom of the audience a corresponding furore: her
scherzando was exquisite, though we confess we thought the
concluding fioritura in the passage in Y flat a leetle, a very
leetle sforzata. Surely the words,

'Giorno d'orrore,
Delire, dolore,
Nabucodonosore,'

should be given andante, and not con strepito: but this is a faute
bien legere in the midst of such unrivalled excellence, and only
mentioned here that we may have SOMETHING to criticise.

"We hear that the enterprising impresario of one of the royal
theatres has made an engagement with the Diva; and, if we have a
regret, it is that she should be compelled to sing in the
unfortunate language of our rude northern clime, which does not
preter itself near so well to the bocca of the cantatrice as do the
mellifluous accents of the Lingua Toscana, the langue par excellence
of song.

"The Ravenswing's voice is a magnificent contra-basso of nine
octaves," etc.--Flowers of Fashion, June 10.

"Old Thrum, the composer, is bringing out an opera and a pupil. The
opera is good, the pupil first-rate. The opera will do much more
than compete with the infernal twaddle and disgusting slip-slop of
Donizetti, and the milk-and-water fools who imitate him: it will
(and we ask the readers of the Tomahawk, were we EVER mistaken?)
surpass all these; it is GOOD, of downright English stuff. The airs
are fresh and pleasing, the choruses large and noble, the
instrumentation solid and rich, the music is carefully written. We
wish old Thrum and his opera well.

"His pupil is a SURE CARD, a splendid woman, and a splendid singer.
She is so handsome that she might sing as much out of tune as Miss
Ligonier, and the public would forgive her; and sings so well, that
were she as ugly as the aforesaid Ligonier, the audience would
listen to her. The Ravenswing, that is her fantastical theatrical
name (her real name is the same with that of a notorious scoundrel
in the Fleet, who invented the Panama swindle, the Pontine Marshes'
swindle, the Soap swindle--HOW ARE YOU OFF FOR SOAP NOW, Mr.
W-lk-r?)--the Ravenswing, we say, will do. Slang has engaged her at
thirty guineas per week, and she appears next month in Thrum's
opera, of which the words are written by a great ass with some
talent--we mean Mr. Mulligan.

"There is a foreign fool in the Flowers of Fashion who is doing his
best to disgust the public by his filthy flattery. It is enough to
make one sick. Why is the foreign beast not kicked out of the
paper?"--The Tomahawk, June 17.

The first three "anecdotes" were supplied by Mulligan to his paper,
with many others which need not here be repeated: he kept them up
with amazing energy and variety. Anecdotes of Sir George Thrum met
you unexpectedly in queer corners of country papers: puffs of the
English school of music appeared perpetually in "Notices to
Correspondents" in the Sunday prints, some of which Mr. Slang
commanded, and in others over which the indefatigable Mulligan had a
control. This youth was the soul of the little conspiracy for
raising Morgiana into fame: and humble as he is, and great and
respectable as is Sir George Thrum, it is my belief that the
Ravenswing would never have been the Ravenswing she is but for the
ingenuity and energy of the honest Hibernian reporter.

It is only the business of the great man who writes the leading
articles which appear in the large type of the daily papers to
compose those astonishing pieces of eloquence; the other parts of
the paper are left to the ingenuity of the sub-editor, whose duty it
is to select paragraphs, reject or receive horrid accidents, police
reports, etc.; with which, occupied as he is in the exercise of his
tremendous functions, the editor himself cannot be expected to
meddle. The fate of Europe is his province; the rise and fall of
empires, and the great questions of State demand the editor's
attention: the humble puff, the paragraph about the last murder, or
the state of the crops, or the sewers in Chancery Lane, is confided
to the care of the sub; and it is curious to see what a prodigious
number of Irishmen exist among the sub-editors of London. When the
Liberator enumerates the services of his countrymen, how the battle
of Fontenoy was won by the Irish Brigade, how the battle of Waterloo
would have been lost but for the Irish regiments, and enumerates
other acts for which we are indebted to Milesian heroism and
genius--he ought at least to mention the Irish brigade of the press,
and the amazing services they do to this country.

The truth is, the Irish reporters and soldiers appear to do their
duty right well; and my friend Mr. Mulligan is one of the former.
Having the interests of his opera and the Ravenswing strongly at
heart, and being amongst his brethren an exceedingly popular fellow,
he managed matters so that never a day passed but some paragraph
appeared somewhere regarding the new singer, in whom, for their
countryman's sake, all his brothers and sub-editors felt an
interest.

These puffs, destined to make known to all the world the merits of
the Ravenswing, of course had an effect upon a gentleman very
closely connected with that lady, the respectable prisoner in the
Fleet, Captain Walker. As long as he received his weekly two
guineas from Mr. Woolsey, and the occasional half-crowns which his
wife could spare in her almost daily visits to him, he had never
troubled himself to inquire what her pursuits were, and had allowed
her (though the worthy woman longed with all her might to betray
herself) to keep her secret. He was far from thinking, indeed, that
his wife would prove such a treasure to him.

But when the voice of fame and the columns of the public journals
brought him each day some new story regarding the merits, genius,
and beauty of the Ravenswing; when rumours reached him that she was
the favourite pupil of Sir George Thrum; when she brought him five
guineas after singing at the "Philharmonic" (other five the good
soul had spent in purchasing some smart new cockades, hats, cloaks,
and laces, for her little son); when, finally, it was said that
Slang, the great manager, offered her an engagement at thirty
guineas per week, Mr. Walker became exceedingly interested in his
wife's proceedings, of which he demanded from her the fullest
explanation.

Using his marital authority, he absolutely forbade Mrs. Walker's
appearance on the public stage; he wrote to Sir George Thrum a
letter expressive of his highest indignation that negotiations so
important should ever have been commenced without his authorisation;
and he wrote to his dear Slang (for these gentlemen were very
intimate, and in the course of his transactions as an agent Mr. W.
had had many dealings with Mr. S.) asking his dear Slang whether the
latter thought his friend Walker would be so green as to allow his
wife to appear on the stage, and he remain in prison with all his
debts on his head?

And it was a curious thing now to behold how eager those very
creditors who but yesterday (and with perfect correctness) had
denounced Mr. Walker as a swindler; who had refused to come to any
composition with him, and had sworn never to release him; how they
on a sudden became quite eager to come to an arrangement with him,
and offered, nay, begged and prayed him to go free,--only giving
them his own and Mrs. Walker's acknowledgment of their debt, with a
promise that a part of the lady's salary should be devoted to the
payment of the claim.

"The lady's salary!" said Mr. Walker, indignantly, to these
gentlemen and their attorneys. "Do you suppose I will allow Mrs.
Walker to go on the stage?--do you suppose I am such a fool as to
sign bills to the full amount of these claims against me, when in a
few months more I can walk out of prison without paying a shilling?
Gentlemen, you take Howard Walker for an idiot. I like the Fleet,
and rather than pay I'll stay here for these ten years."

In other words, it was the Captain's determination to make some
advantageous bargain for himself with his creditors and the
gentlemen who were interested in bringing forward Mrs. Walker on the
stage. And who can say that in so determining he did not act with
laudable prudence and justice?

"You do not, surely, consider, my very dear sir, that half the
amount of Mrs. Walker's salaries is too much for my immense trouble
and pains in teaching her?" cried Sir George Thrum (who, in reply to
Walker's note, thought it most prudent to wait personally on that
gentleman). "Remember that I am the first master in England; that I
have the best interest in England; that I can bring her out at the
Palace, and at every concert and musical festival in England; that I
am obliged to teach her every single note that she utters; and that
without me she could no more sing a song than her little baby could
walk without its nurse."

"I believe about half what you say," said Mr. Walker.

"My dear Captain Walker! would you question my integrity? Who was
it that made Mrs. Millington's fortune,--the celebrated Mrs.
Millington, who has now got a hundred thousand pounds? Who was it
that brought out the finest tenor in Europe, Poppleton? Ask the
musical world, ask those great artists themselves, and they will
tell you they owe their reputation, their fortune, to Sir George
Thrum."

"It is very likely," replied the Captain, coolly. "You ARE a good
master, I dare say, Sir George; but I am not going to article Mrs.
Walker to you for three years, and sign her articles in the Fleet.
Mrs. Walker shan't sing till I'm a free man, that's flat: if I stay
here till you're dead she shan't."

"Gracious powers, sir!" exclaimed Sir George, "do you expect me to
pay your debts?"

"Yes, old boy," answered the Captain, "and to give me something
handsome in hand, too; and that's my ultimatum: and so I wish you
good morning, for I'm engaged to play a match at tennis below."

This little interview exceedingly frightened the worthy knight, who
went home to his lady in a delirious state of alarm occasioned by
the audacity of Captain Walker.

Mr. Slang's interview with him was scarcely more satisfactory. He
owed, he said, four thousand pounds. His creditors might be brought
to compound for five shillings in the pound. He would not consent
to allow his wife to make a single engagement until the creditors
were satisfied, and until he had a handsome sum in hand to begin the
world with. "Unless my wife comes out, you'll be in the Gazette
yourself, you know you will. So you may take her or leave her, as
you think fit."

"Let her sing one night as a trial," said Mr. Slang.

"If she sings one night, the creditors will want their money in
full," replied the Captain. "I shan't let her labour, poor thing,
for the profit of those scoundrels!" added the prisoner, with much
feeling. And Slang left him with a much greater respect for Walker
than he had ever before possessed. He was struck with the gallantry
of the man who could triumph over misfortunes, nay, make misfortune
itself an engine of good luck.

Mrs. Walker was instructed instantly to have a severe sore throat.
The journals in Mr. Slang's interest deplored this illness
pathetically; while the papers in the interest of the opposition
theatre magnified it with great malice. "The new singer," said one,
"the great wonder which Slang promised us, is as hoarse as a RAVEN!"
"Doctor Thorax pronounces," wrote another paper, "that the quinsy,
which has suddenly prostrated Mrs. Ravenswing, whose singing at the
Philharmonic, previous to her appearance at the 'T.R-----,' excited
so much applause, has destroyed the lady's voice for ever. We
luckily need no other prima donna, when that place, as nightly
thousands acknowledge, is held by Miss Ligonier." The Looker-on
said, "That although some well-informed contemporaries had declared
Mrs. W. Ravenswing's complaint to be a quinsy, others, on whose
authority they could equally rely, had pronounced it to be a
consumption. At all events, she was in an exceedingly dangerous
state; from which, though we do not expect, we heartily trust she
may recover. Opinions differ as to the merits of this lady, some
saying that she was altogether inferior to Miss Ligonier, while
other connoisseurs declare the latter lady to be by no means so
accomplished a person. This point, we fear," continued the
Looker-on, "can never now be settled; unless, which we fear is
improbable, Mrs. Ravenswing should ever so far recover as to be able
to make her debut; and even then, the new singer will not have a
fair chance unless her voice and strength shall be fully restored.
This information, which we have from exclusive resources, may be
relied on," concluded the Looker-on, "as authentic."

It was Mr. Walker himself, that artful and audacious Fleet prisoner,
who concocted those very paragraphs against his wife's health which
appeared in the journals of the Ligonier party. The partisans of
that lady were delighted, the creditors of Mr. Walker astounded, at
reading them. Even Sir George Thrum was taken in, and came to the
Fleet prison in considerable alarm.

"Mum's the word, my good sir!" said Mr. Walker. "Now is the time to
make arrangements with the creditors."

Well, these arrangements were finally made. It does not matter how
many shillings in the pound satisfied the rapacious creditors of
Morgiana's husband. But it is certain that her voice returned to
her all of a sudden upon the Captain's release. The papers of the
Mulligan faction again trumpeted her perfections; the agreement with
Mr. Slang was concluded; that with Sir George Thrum the great
composer satisfactorily arranged; and the new opera underlined in
immense capitals in the bills, and put in rehearsal with immense
expenditure on the part of the scene-painter and costumier.

Need we tell with what triumphant success the "Brigand's Bride" was
received? All the Irish sub-editors the next morning took care to
have such an account of it as made Miss Ligonier and Baroski die
with envy. All the reporters who could spare time were in the boxes
to support their friend's work. All the journeymen tailors of the
establishment of Linsey, Woolsey, and Co. had pit tickets given to
them, and applauded with all their might. All Mr. Walker's friends
of the "Regent Club" lined the side-boxes with white kid gloves; and
in a little box by themselves sat Mrs. Crump and Mr. Woolsey, a
great deal too much agitated to applaud--so agitated, that Woolsey
even forgot to fling down the bouquet he had brought for the
Ravenswing.

But there was no lack of those horticultural ornaments. The theatre
servants wheeled away a wheelbarrow-full (which were flung on the
stage the next night over again); and Morgiana, blushing, panting,
weeping, was led off by Mr. Poppleton, the eminent tenor, who had
crowned her with one of the most conspicuous of the chaplets.

Here she flew to her husband, and flung her arms round his neck. He
was flirting behind the side-scenes with Mademoiselle Flicflac, who
had been dancing in the divertissement; and was probably the only
man in the theatre of those who witnessed the embrace that did not
care for it. Even Slang was affected, and said with perfect
sincerity that he wished he had been in Walker's place. The
manager's fortune was made, at least for the season. He
acknowledged so much to Walker, who took a week's salary for his
wife in advance that very night.

There was, as usual, a grand supper in the green-room. The terrible
Mr. Bludyer appeared in a new coat of the well-known Woolsey cut,
and the little tailor himself and Mrs. Crump were not the least
happy of the party. But when the Ravenswing took Woolsey's hand,
and said she never would have been there but for him, Mr. Walker
looked very grave, and hinted to her that she must not, in her
position, encourage the attentions of persons in that rank of life.
"I shall pay," said he, proudly, "every farthing that is owing to
Mr. Woolsey, and shall employ him for the future. But you
understand, my love, that one cannot at one's own table receive
one's own tailor."

Slang proposed Morgiana's health in a tremendous speech, which
elicited cheers, and laughter, and sobs, such as only managers have
the art of drawing from the theatrical gentlemen and ladies in their
employ. It was observed, especially among the chorus-singers at the
bottom of the table, that their emotion was intense. They had a
meeting the next day and voted a piece of plate to Adolphus Slang,
Esquire, for his eminent services in the cause of the drama.

Walker returned thanks for his lady. That was, he said, the
proudest moment of his life. He was proud to think that he had
educated her for the stage, happy to think that his sufferings had
not been in vain, and that his exertions in her behalf were crowned
with full success. In her name and his own he thanked the company,
and sat down, and was once more particularly attentive to
Mademoiselle Flicflac.

Then came an oration from Sir George Thrum, in reply to Slang's
toast to HIM. It was very much to the same effect as the speech by
Walker, the two gentlemen attributing to themselves individually the
merit of bringing out Mrs. Walker. He concluded by stating that he
should always hold Mrs. Walker as the daughter of his heart, and to
the last moment of his life should love and cherish her. It is
certain that Sir George was exceedingly elated that night, and would
have been scolded by his lady on his return home, but for the
triumph of the evening.

Mulligan's speech of thanks, as author of the "Brigand's Bride,"
was, it must be confessed, extremely tedious. It seemed there would
be no end to it; when he got upon the subject of Ireland especially,
which somehow was found to be intimately connected with the
interests of music and the theatre. Even the choristers pooh-poohed
this speech, coming though it did from the successful author, whose
songs of wine, love, and battle, they had been repeating that night.

The "Brigand's Bride" ran for many nights. Its choruses were tuned
on the organs of the day. Morgiana's airs, "The Rose upon my
Balcony" and the "Lightning on the Cataract" (recitative and scena)
were on everybody's lips, and brought so many guineas to Sir George
Thrum that he was encouraged to have his portrait engraved, which
still may be seen in the music-shops. Not many persons, I believe,
bought proof impressions of the plate, price two guineas; whereas,
on the contrary, all the young clerks in banks, and all the FAST
young men of the universities, had pictures of the Ravenswing in
their apartments--as Biondetta (the brigand's bride), as Zelyma (in
the "Nuptials of Benares"), as Barbareska (in the "Mine of
Tobolsk"), and in all her famous characters. In the latter she
disguises herself as a Uhlan, in order to save her father, who is in
prison; and the Ravenswing looked so fascinating in this costume in
pantaloons and yellow boots, that Slang was for having her instantly
in Captain Macheath, whence arose their quarrel.

She was replaced at Slang's theatre by Snooks, the rhinoceros-tamer,
with his breed of wild buffaloes. Their success was immense. Slang
gave a supper, at which all the company burst into tears; and
assembling in the green-room next day, they, as usual, voted a piece
of plate to Adolphus Slang, Esquire, for his eminent services to the
drama.

In the Captain Macheath dispute Mr. Walker would have had his wife
yield; but on this point, and for once, she disobeyed her husband
and left the theatre. And when Walker cursed her (according to his
wont) for her abominable selfishness and disregard of his property,
she burst into tears and said she had spent but twenty guineas on
herself and baby during the year, that her theatrical dressmaker's
bills were yet unpaid, and that she had never asked him how much he
spent on that odious French figurante.

All this was true, except about the French figurante. Walker, as
the lord and master, received all Morgiana's earnings, and spent
them as a gentleman should. He gave very neat dinners at a cottage
in Regent's Park (Mr. and Mrs. Walker lived at Green Street,
Grosvenor Square), he played a good deal at the "Regent;" but as to
the French figurante, it must be confessed, that Mrs. Walker was in
a sad error: THAT lady and the Captain had parted long ago; it was
Madame Dolores de Tras-os-Montes who inhabited the cottage in St.
John's Wood now.

But if some little errors of this kind might be attributable to the
Captain, on the other hand, when his wife was in the provinces, he
was the most attentive of husbands; made all her bargains, and
received every shilling before he would permit her to sing a note.
Thus he prevented her from being cheated, as a person of her easy
temper doubtless would have been, by designing managers and needy
concert-givers. They always travelled with four horses; and Walker
was adored in every one of the principal hotels in England. The
waiters flew at his bell. The chambermaids were afraid he was a sad
naughty man, and thought his wife no such great beauty; the
landlords preferred him to any duke. HE never looked at their
bills, not he! In fact his income was at least four thousand a year
for some years of his life.

Master Woolsey Walker was put to Doctor Wapshot's seminary, whence,
after many disputes on the Doctor's part as to getting his
half-year's accounts paid, and after much complaint of ill-treatment
on the little boy's side, he was withdrawn, and placed under the
care of the Reverend Mr. Swishtail, at Turnham Green; where all his
bills are paid by his godfather, now the head of the firm of Woolsey
and Co.

As a gentleman, Mr. Walker still declines to see him; but he has
not, as far as I have heard, paid the sums of money which he
threatened to refund; and, as he is seldom at home the worthy tailor
can come to Green Street at his leisure. He and Mrs. Crump, and
Mrs. Walker often take the omnibus to Brentford, and a cake with
them to little Woolsey at school; to whom the tailor says he will
leave every shilling of his property.

The Walkers have no other children; but when she takes her airing in
the Park she always turns away at the sight of a low phaeton, in
which sits a woman with rouged cheeks, and a great number of
overdressed children and a French bonne, whose name, I am given to
understand, is Madame Dolores de Tras-os-Montes. Madame de
Tras-os-Montes always puts a great gold glass to her eye as the
Ravenswing's carriage passes, and looks into it with a sneer. The
two coachmen used always to exchange queer winks at each other in
the ring, until Madame de Tras-os-Montes lately adopted a tremendous
chasseur, with huge whiskers and a green and gold livery; since
which time the formerly named gentlemen do not recognise each other.

The Ravenswing's life is one of perpetual triumph on the stage; and,
as every one of the fashionable men about town have been in love
with her, you may fancy what a pretty character she has. Lady Thrum
would die sooner than speak to that unhappy young woman; and, in
fact, the Thrums have a new pupil, who is a siren without the
dangerous qualities of one, who has the person of Venus, and the
mind of a Muse, and who is coming out at one of the theatres
immediately. Baroski says, "De liddle Rafenschwing is just as font
of me as effer!" People are very shy about receiving her in
society; and when she goes to sing at a concert, Miss Prim starts up
and skurries off in a state of the greatest alarm, lest "that
person" should speak to her.

Walker is voted a good, easy, rattling, gentlemanly fellow, and
nobody's enemy but his own. His wife, they say, is dreadfully
extravagant: and, indeed, since his marriage, and in spite of his
wife's large income, he has been in the Bench several times; but she
signs some bills and he comes out again, and is as gay and genial as
ever. All mercantile speculations he has wisely long since given
up; he likes to throw a main of an evening, as I have said, and to
take his couple of bottles at dinner. On Friday he attends at the
theatre for his wife's salary, and transacts no other business
during the week. He grows exceedingly stout, dyes his hair, and has
a bloated purple look about the nose and cheeks, very different from
that which first charmed the heart of Morgiana.

By the way, Eglantine has been turned out of the Bower of Bloom, and
now keeps a shop at Tunbridge Wells. Going down thither last year
without a razor, I asked a fat seedy man lolling in a faded nankeen
jacket at the door of a tawdry little shop in the Pantiles, to shave
me. He said in reply, "Sir, I do not practise in that branch of the
profession!" and turned back into the little shop. It was Archibald
Eglantine. But in the wreck of his fortunes he still has his
captain's uniform, and his grand cross of the order of the Castle
and Falcon of Panama.

* * *

POSTSCRIPT.

G. Fitz-Boodle, Esq., to O. Yorke, Esq.

ZUM TRIERISCHEN HOP, COBLENZ: July 10, 1843.

MY DEAR YORKE,--The story of the Ravenswing was written a long time
since, and I never could account for the bad taste of the publishers
of the metropolis who refused it an insertion in their various
magazines. This fact would never have been alluded to but for the
following circumstance:--

Only yesterday, as I was dining at this excellent hotel, I remarked
a bald-headed gentleman in a blue coat and brass buttons, who looked
like a colonel on half-pay, and by his side a lady and a little boy
of twelve, whom the gentleman was cramming with an amazing quantity
of cherries and cakes. A stout old dame in a wonderful cap and
ribands was seated by the lady's side, and it was easy to see they
were English, and I thought I had already made their acquaintance
elsewhere.

The younger of the ladies at last made a bow with an accompanying
blush.

"Surely," said I, "I have the honour of speaking to Mrs.
Ravenswing?"

"Mrs. Woolsey, sir," said the gentleman; "my wife has long since
left the stage:" and at this the old lady in the wonderful cap trod
on my toes very severely, and nodded her head and all her ribands in
a most mysterious way. Presently the two ladies rose and left the
table, the elder declaring that she heard the baby crying.

"Woolsey, my dear, go with your mamma," said Mr. Woolsey, patting
the boy on the head. The young gentleman obeyed the command,
carrying off a plate of macaroons with him.

"Your son is a fine boy, sir," said I.

"My step-son, sir," answered Mr. Woolsey; and added, in a louder
voice, "I knew you, Mr. Fitz-Boodle, at once, but did not mention
your name for fear of agitating my wife. She don't like to have the
memory of old times renewed, sir; her former husband, whom you know,
Captain Walker, made her very unhappy. He died in America, sir, of
this, I fear" (pointing to the bottle), "and Mrs. W. quitted the
stage a year before I quitted business. Are you going on to
Wiesbaden?"

They went off in their carriage that evening, the boy on the box
making great efforts to blow out of the postilion's tasselled horn.

I am glad that poor Morgiana is happy at last, and hasten to inform
you of the fact. I am going to visit the old haunts of my youth at
Pumpernickel. Adieu.

Yours,

G. F.-B.

MR. AND MRS. FRANK BERRY. - CHAPTER I.

THE FIGHT AT SLAUGHTER HOUSE.

I am very fond of reading about battles, and have most of
Marlborough's and Wellington's at my fingers' ends; but the most
tremendous combat I ever saw, and one that interests me to think of
more than Malplaquet or Waterloo (which, by the way, has grown to be
a downright nuisance, so much do men talk of it after dinner,
prating most disgustingly about "the Prussians coming up," and what
not)--I say the most tremendous combat ever known was that between
Berry and Biggs the gown-boy, which commenced in a certain place
called Middle Briars, situated in the midst of the cloisters that
run along the side of the playground of Slaughter House School, near
Smithfield, London. It was there, madam, that your humble servant
had the honour of acquiring, after six years' labour, that immense
fund of classical knowledge which in after life has been so
exceedingly useful to him.

The circumstances of the quarrel were these:--Biggs, the gown-boy (a
man who, in those days, I thought was at least seven feet high, and
was quite thunderstruck to find in after life that he measured no
more than five feet four), was what we called "second cock" of the
school; the first cock was a great big, good-humoured, lazy,
fair-haired fellow, Old Hawkins by name, who, because he was large
and good-humoured, hurt nobody. Biggs, on the contrary, was a sad
bully; he had half-a-dozen fags, and beat them all unmercifully.
Moreover, he had a little brother, a boarder in Potky's house, whom,
as a matter of course, he hated and maltreated worse than anyone
else.

Well, one day, because young Biggs had not brought his brother his
hoops, or had not caught a ball at cricket, or for some other
equally good reason, Biggs the elder so belaboured the poor little
fellow, that Berry, who was sauntering by, and saw the dreadful
blows which the elder brother was dealing to the younger with his
hockey-stick, felt a compassion for the little fellow (perhaps he
had a jealousy against Biggs, and wanted to try a few rounds with
him, but that I can't vouch for); however, Berry passing by, stopped
and said, "Don't you think you have thrashed the boy enough, Biggs?"
He spoke this in a very civil tone, for he never would have thought
of interfering rudely with the sacred privilege that an upper boy at
a public school always has of beating a junior, especially when they
happen to be brothers.

The reply of Biggs, as might be expected, was to hit young Biggs
with the hockey-stick twice as hard as before, until the little
wretch howled with pain. "I suppose it's no business of yours,
Berry," said Biggs, thumping away all the while, and laid on worse
and worse.

Until Berry (and, indeed, little Biggs) could bear it no longer, and
the former, bouncing forward, wrenched the stick out of old Biggs's
hands, and sent it whirling out of the cloister window, to the great
wonder of a crowd of us small boys, who were looking on. Little
boys always like to see a little companion of their own soundly
beaten.

"There!" said Berry, looking into Biggs's face, as much as to say,
"I've gone and done it;" and he added to the brother, "Scud away,
you little thief; I've saved you this time."

"Stop, young Biggs!" roared out his brother after a pause; "or I'll
break every bone in your infernal scoundrelly skin!"

Young Biggs looked at Berry, then at his brother, then came at his
brother's order, as if back to be beaten again; but lost heart, and
ran away as fast as his little legs could carry him.

"I'll do for him another time," said Biggs. "Here, under-boy, take
my coat;" and we all began to gather round and formed a ring.

"We had better wait till after school, Biggs," cried Berry, quite
cool, but looking a little pale. "There are only five minutes now,
and it will take you more than that to thrash me."

Biggs upon this committed a great error; for he struck Berry
slightly across the face with the back of his hand, saying, "You are
in a funk." But this was a feeling which Frank Berry did not in the
least entertain; for, in reply to Biggs's back-hander, and as quick
as thought, and with all his might and main--pong! he delivered a
blow upon old Biggs's nose that made the claret spirt, and sent the
second cock down to the ground as if he had been shot.

He was up again, however, in a minute, his face white and gashed
with blood, his eyes glaring, a ghastly spectacle; and Berry,
meanwhile, had taken his coat off, and by this time there were
gathered in the cloisters, on all the windows, and upon each other's
shoulders, one hundred and twenty young gentlemen at the very least,
for the news had gone out through the playground of "a fight between
Berry and Biggs."

But Berry was quite right in his remark about the propriety of
deferring the business, for at this minute Mr. Chip, the second
master, came down the cloisters going into school, and grinned in
his queer way as he saw the state of Biggs's face. "Holloa, Mr.
Biggs," said he, "I suppose you have run against a finger-post."
That was the regular joke with us at school, and you may be sure we
all laughed heartily: as we always did when Mr. Chip made a joke,
or anything like a joke. "You had better go to the pump, sir, and
get yourself washed, and not let Doctor Buckle see you in that
condition." So saying, Mr. Chip disappeared to his duties in the
under-school, whither all we little boys followed him.

It was Wednesday, a half-holiday, as everybody knows, and
boiled-beef day at Slaughter House. I was in the same
boarding-house with Berry, and we all looked to see whether he ate a
good dinner, just as one would examine a man who was going to be
hanged. I recollected, in after-life, in Germany, seeing a friend
who was going to fight a duel eat five larks for his breakfast, and
thought I had seldom witnessed greater courage. Berry ate
moderately of the boiled beef--BOILED CHILD we used to call it at
school, in our elegant jocular way; he knew a great deal better than
to load his stomach upon the eve of such a contest as was going to
take place.

Dinner was very soon over, and Mr. Chip, who had been all the while
joking Berry, and pressing him to eat, called him up into his study,
to the great disappointment of us all, for we thought he was going
to prevent the fight; but no such thing. The Reverend Edward Chip
took Berry into his study, and poured him out two glasses of
port-wine, which he made him take with a biscuit, and patted him on
the back, and went off. I have no doubt he was longing, like all of
us, to see the battle; but etiquette, you know, forbade.

When we went out into the green, Old Hawkins was there--the great
Hawkins, the cock of the school. I have never seen the man since,
but still think of him as of something awful, gigantic, mysterious:
he who could thrash everybody, who could beat all the masters; how
we longed for him to put in his hand and lick Buckle! He was a dull
boy, not very high in the school, and had all his exercises written
for him. Buckle knew this, but respected him; never called him up
to read Greek plays; passed over all his blunders, which were many;
let him go out of half-holidays into the town as he pleased: how
should any man dare to stop him--the great calm magnanimous silent
Strength! They say he licked a Life-Guardsman: I wonder whether it
was Shaw, who killed all those Frenchmen? No, it could not be Shaw,
for he was dead au champ d'honneur; but he WOULD have licked Shaw if
he had been alive. A bargeman I know he licked, at Jack Randall's
in Slaughter House Lane. Old Hawkins was too lazy to play at
cricket; he sauntered all day in the sunshine about the green,
accompanied by little Tippins, who was in the sixth form, laughed
and joked at Hawkins eternally, and was the person who wrote all his
exercises.

Instead of going into town this afternoon, Hawkins remained at
Slaughter House, to see the great fight between the second and third
cocks.

The different masters of the school kept boarding-houses (such as
Potky's, Chip's, Wickens's, Pinney's, and so on), and the
playground, or "green" as it was called, although the only thing
green about the place was the broken glass on the walls that
separate Slaughter House from Wilderness Row and Goswell
Street--(many a time have I seen Mr. Pickwick look out of his window
in that street, though we did not know him then)--the playground, or
green, was common to all. But if any stray boy from Potky's was
found, for instance, in, or entering into, Chip's house, the most
dreadful tortures were practised upon him: as I can answer in my
own case.

Fancy, then, our astonishment at seeing a little three-foot wretch,
of the name of Wills, one of Hawkins's fags (they were both in
Potky's), walk undismayed amongst us lions at Chip's house, as the
"rich and rare" young lady did in Ireland. We were going to set
upon him and devour or otherwise maltreat him, when he cried out in
a little shrill impertinent voice, "TELL BERRY I WANT HIM!"

We all roared with laughter. Berry was in the sixth form, and Wills
or any under-boy would as soon have thought of "wanting" him, as I
should of wanting the Duke of Wellington.

Little Wills looked round in an imperious kind of way. "Well," says
he, stamping his foot, "do you hear? TELL BERRY THAT HAWKINS WANTS
HIM!"

As for resisting the law of Hawkins, you might as soon think of
resisting immortal Jove. Berry and Tolmash, who was to be his
bottle-holder, made their appearance immediately, and walked out
into the green where Hawkins was waiting, and, with an irresistible
audacity that only belonged to himself, in the face of nature and
all the regulations of the place, was smoking a cigar. When Berry
and Tolmash found him, the three began slowly pacing up and down in
the sunshine, and we little boys watched them.

Hawkins moved his arms and hands every now and then, and was
evidently laying down the law about boxing. We saw his fists
darting out every now and then with mysterious swiftness, hitting
one, two, quick as thought, as if in the face of an adversary; now
his left hand went up, as if guarding his own head, now his immense
right fist dreadfully flapped the air, as if punishing his imaginary
opponent's miserable ribs. The conversation lasted for some ten
minutes, about which time gown-boys' dinner was over, and we saw
these youths, in their black horned-button jackets and
knee-breeches, issuing from their door in the cloisters. There were
no hoops, no cricket-bats, as usual on a half-holiday. Who would
have thought of play in expectation of such tremendous sport as was
in store for us?

Towering among the gown-boys, of whom he was the head and the
tyrant, leaning upon Bushby's arm, and followed at a little distance
by many curious pale awe-stricken boys, dressed in his black silk
stockings, which he always sported, and with a crimson bandanna tied
round his waist, came BIGGS. His nose was swollen with the blow
given before school, but his eyes flashed fire. He was laughing and
sneering with Bushby, and evidently intended to make minced meat of
Berry.

The betting began pretty freely: the bets were against poor Berry.
Five to three were offered--in ginger-beer. I took six to four in
raspberry open tarts. The upper boys carried the thing farther
still: and I know for a fact, that Swang's book amounted to four
pound three (but he hedged a good deal), and Tittery lost seventeen
shillings in a single bet to Pitts, who took the odds.

As Biggs and his party arrived, I heard Hawkins say to Berry, "For
heaven's sake, my boy, fib with your right, and MIND HIS LEFT HAND!"

Middle Briars was voted to be too confined a space for the combat,
and it was agreed that it should take place behind the under-school
in the shade, whither we all went. Hawkins, with his immense silver
hunting-watch, kept the time; and water was brought from the pump
close to Notley's the pastrycook's, who did not admire fisticuffs at
all on half-holidays, for the fights kept the boys away from his
shop. Gutley was the only fellow in the school who remained
faithful to him, and he sat on the counter--the great gormandising
brute!--eating tarts the whole day.

This famous fight, as every Slaughter House man knows, lasted for
two hours and twenty-nine minutes, by Hawkins's immense watch. All
this time the air resounded with cries of "Go it, Berry!" "Go it,
Biggs!" "Pitch into him!" "Give it him!" and so on. Shall I
describe the hundred and two rounds of the combat?--No!--It would
occupy too much space, and the taste for such descriptions has
passed away. {3}

1st round. Both the combatants fresh, and in prime order. The
weight and inches somewhat on the gown-boy's side. Berry goes
gallantly in, and delivers a clinker on the gown-boy's jaw. Biggs
makes play with his left. Berry down.

* * *

4th round. Claret drawn in profusion from the gown-boy's grogshop.
(He went down, and had his front tooth knocked out, but the blow cut
Berry's knuckles a great deal.)

* * *

15th round. Chancery. Fibbing. Biggs makes dreadful work with his
left. Break away. Rally. Biggs down. Betting still six to four
on the gown-boy.

* * *

20th round. The men both dreadfully punished. Berry somewhat shy
of his adversary's left hand.

* * *

29th to 42nd round. The Chipsite all this while breaks away from
the gown-boy's left, and goes down on a knee. Six to four on the
gown-boy, until the fortieth round, when the bets became equal.

* * *

102nd and last round. For half-an-hour the men had stood up to each
other, but were almost too weary to strike. The gown-boy's face
hardly to be recognised, swollen and streaming with blood. The
Chipsite in a similar condition, and still more punished about his
side from his enemy's left hand. Berry gives a blow at his
adversary's face, and falls over him as he falls.

The gown-boy can't come up to time. And thus ended the great fight
of Berry and Biggs.

And what, pray, has this horrid description of a battle and parcel
of schoolboys to do with Men's Wives?

What has it to do with Men's Wives?--A great deal more, madam, than
you think for. Only read Chapter II., and you shall hear.

CHAPTER II.

THE COMBAT AT VERSAILLES.

I afterwards came to be Berry's fag, and, though beaten by him
daily, he allowed, of course, no one else to lay a hand upon me, and
I got no more thrashing than was good for me. Thus an intimacy grew
up between us, and after he left Slaughter House and went into the
dragoons, the honest fellow did not forget his old friend, but
actually made his appearance one day in the playground in moustaches
and a braided coat, and gave me a gold pencil-case and a couple of
sovereigns. I blushed when I took them, but take them I did; and I
think the thing I almost best recollect in my life, is the sight of
Berry getting behind an immense bay cab-horse, which was held by a
correct little groom, and was waiting near the school in Slaughter
House Square. He proposed, too, to have me to "Long's," where he
was lodging for the time; but this invitation was refused on my
behalf by Doctor Buckle, who said, and possibly with correctness,
that I should get little good by spending my holiday with such a
scapegrace.

Once afterwards he came to see me at Christ Church, and we made a
show of writing to one another, and didn't, and always had a hearty
mutual goodwill; and though we did not quite burst into tears on
parting, were yet quite happy when occasion threw us together, and
so almost lost sight of each other. I heard lately that Berry was
married, and am rather ashamed to say, that I was not so curious as
even to ask the maiden name of his lady.

Last summer I was at Paris, and had gone over to Versailles to meet
a party, one of which was a young lady to whom I was tenderly--But,
never mind. The day was rainy, and the party did not keep its
appointment; and after yawning through the interminable Palace
picture-galleries, and then making an attempt to smoke a cigar in
the Palace garden--for which crime I was nearly run through the body
by a rascally sentinel--I was driven, perforce, into the great bleak
lonely place before the Palace, with its roads branching off to all
the towns in the world, which Louis and Napoleon once intended to
conquer, and there enjoyed my favourite pursuit at leisure, and was
meditating whether I should go back to "Vefour's" for dinner, or
patronise my friend M. Duboux of the "Hotel des Reservoirs" who
gives not only a good dinner, but as dear a one as heart can desire.
I was, I say, meditating these things, when a carriage passed by.
It was a smart low calash, with a pair of bay horses and a postilion
in a drab jacket that twinkled with innumerable buttons, and I was
too much occupied in admiring the build of the machine, and the
extreme tightness of the fellow's inexpressibles, to look at the
personages within the carriage, when the gentleman roared out
"Fitz!" and the postilion pulled up, and the lady gave a shrill
scream, and a little black-muzzled spaniel began barking and yelling
with all his might, and a man with moustaches jumped out of the
vehicle, and began shaking me by the hand.

"Drive home, John," said the gentleman: "I'll be with you, my love,
in an instant--it's an old friend. Fitz, let me present you to Mrs.
Berry."

The lady made an exceedingly gentle inclination of her black-velvet
bonnet, and said, "Pray, my love, remember that it is just
dinner-time. However, never mind ME." And with another slight toss
and a nod to the postilion, that individual's white leather breeches
began to jump up and down again in the saddle, and the carriage
disappeared, leaving me shaking my old friend Berry by the hand.

He had long quitted the army, but still wore his military beard,
which gave to his fair pink face a fierce and lion-like look. He
was extraordinarily glad to see me, as only men are glad who live in
a small town, or in dull company. There is no destroyer of
friendships like London, where a man has no time to think of his
neighbour, and has far too many friends to care for them. He told
me in a breath of his marriage, and how happy he was, and straight
insisted that I must come home to dinner, and see more of Angelica,
who had invited me herself--didn't I hear her?

"Mrs. Berry asked YOU, Frank; but I certainly did not hear her ask
ME!"

"She would not have mentioned the dinner but that she meant me to
ask you. I know she did," cried Frank Berry. "And, besides--hang
it--I'm master of the house. So come you shall. No ceremony, old
boy--one or two friends--snug family party--and we'll talk of old
times over a bottle of claret."

There did not seem to me to be the slightest objection to this
arrangement, except that my boots were muddy, and my coat of the
morning sort. But as it was quite impossible to go to Paris and
back again in a quarter of an hour, and as a man may dine with
perfect comfort to himself in a frock-coat, it did not occur to me
to be particularly squeamish, or to decline an old friend's
invitation upon a pretext so trivial.

Accordingly we walked to a small house in the Avenue de Paris, and
were admitted first into a small garden ornamented by a grotto, a
fountain, and several nymphs in plaster-of-Paris, then up a mouldy
old steep stair into a hall, where a statue of Cupid and another of
Venus welcomed us with their eternal simper; then through a salle-a-
manger where covers were laid for six; and finally to a little
saloon, where Fido the dog began to howl furiously according to his
wont.

It was one of the old pavilions that had been built for a
pleasure-house in the gay days of Versailles, ornamented with
abundance of damp Cupids and cracked gilt cornices, and old mirrors
let into the walls, and gilded once, but now painted a dingy French
white. The long low windows looked into the court, where the
fountain played its ceaseless dribble, surrounded by numerous rank
creepers and weedy flowers, but in the midst of which the statues
stood with their bases quite moist and green.

I hate fountains and statues in dark confined places: that
cheerless, endless plashing of water is the most inhospitable sound
ever heard. The stiff grin of those French statues, or ogling
Canova Graces, is by no means more happy, I think, than the smile of
a skeleton, and not so natural. Those little pavilions in which the
old roues sported were never meant to be seen by daylight, depend
on't. They were lighted up with a hundred wax-candles, and the
little fountain yonder was meant only to cool their claret. And so,
my first impression of Berry's place of abode was rather a dismal
one. However, I heard him in the salle-a-manger drawing the corks,
which went off with a CLOOP, and that consoled me.

As for the furniture of the rooms appertaining to the Berrys, there
was a harp in a leather case, and a piano, and a flute-box, and a
huge tambour with a Saracen's nose just begun, and likewise on the
table a multiplicity of those little gilt books, half sentimental
and half religious, which the wants of the age and of our young
ladies have produced in such numbers of late. I quarrel with no
lady's taste in that way; but heigho! I had rather that Mrs.
Fitz-Boodle should read "Humphry Clinker!"

Besides these works, there was a "Peerage," of course. What genteel
family was ever without one?

I was making for the door to see Frank drawing the corks, and was
bounced at by the amiable little black-muzzled spaniel, who fastened
his teeth in my pantaloons, and received a polite kick in
consequence, which sent him howling to the other end of the room,
and the animal was just in the act of performing that feat of
agility, when the door opened and madame made her appearance. Frank
came behind her, peering over her shoulder with rather an anxious
look.

Mrs. Berry is an exceedingly white and lean person. She has thick
eyebrows, which meet rather dangerously over her nose, which is
Grecian, and a small mouth with no lips--a sort of feeble pucker in
the face as it were. Under her eyebrows are a pair of enormous
eyes, which she is in the habit of turning constantly ceiling-wards.
Her hair is rather scarce, and worn in bandeaux, and she commonly
mounts a sprig of laurel, or a dark flower or two, which with the
sham tour--I believe that is the name of the knob of artificial hair
that many ladies sport--gives her a rigid and classical look. She
is dressed in black, and has invariably the neatest of silk
stockings and shoes: for forsooth her foot is a fine one, and she
always sits with it before her, looking at it, stamping it, and
admiring it a great deal. "Fido," she says to her spaniel, "you
have almost crushed my poor foot;" or, "Frank," to her husband,
"bring me a footstool:" or, "I suffer so from cold in the feet," and
so forth; but be the conversation what it will, she is always sure
to put HER FOOT into it.

She invariably wears on her neck the miniature of her late father,
Sir George Catacomb, apothecary to George III.; and she thinks those
two men the greatest the world ever saw. She was born in Baker
Street, Portman Square, and that is saying almost enough of her.
She is as long, as genteel, and as dreary, as that deadly-lively
place, and sports, by way of ornament, her papa's hatchment, as it
were, as every tenth Baker Street house has taught her.

What induced such a jolly fellow as Frank Berry to marry Miss
Angelica Catacomb no one can tell. He met her, he says, at a ball
at Hampton Court, where his regiment was quartered, and where, to
this day, lives "her aunt Lady Pash." She alludes perpetually in
conversation to that celebrated lady; and if you look in the
"Baronetage" to the pedigree of the Pash family, you may see
manuscript notes by Mrs. Frank Berry, relative to them and herself.
Thus, when you see in print that Sir John Pash married Angelica,
daughter of Graves Catacomb, Esquire, in a neat hand you find
written, AND SISTER OF THE LATE SIR GEORGE CATACOMB, OF BAKER
STREET, PORTMAN SQUARE: "A.B." follows of course. It is a wonder
how fond ladies are of writing in books, and signing their charming
initials! Mrs. Berry's before-mentioned little gilt books are
scored with pencil-marks, or occasionally at the margin with
a!--note of interjection, or the words "TOO TRUE, A.B." and so on.
Much may be learned with regard to lovely woman by a look at the
books she reads in; and I had gained no inconsiderable knowledge of
Mrs. Berry by the ten minutes spent in the drawing-room, while she
was at her toilet in the adjoining bedchamber.

"You have often heard me talk of George Fitz," says Berry, with an
appealing look to madame.

"Very often," answered his lady, in a tone which clearly meant "a
great deal too much." "Pray, sir," continued she, looking at my
boots with all her might, "are we to have your company at dinner?"

"Of course you are, my dear; what else do you think he came for?
You would not have the man go back to Paris to get his evening coat,
would you?"

"At least, my love, I hope you will go and put on YOURS, and change
those muddy boots. Lady Pash will be here in five minutes, and you
know Dobus is as punctual as clockwork." Then turning to me with a
sort of apology that was as consoling as a box on the ear, "We have
some friends at dinner, sir, who are rather particular persons; but
I am sure when they hear that you only came on a sudden invitation,
they will excuse your morning dress.--Bah! what a smell of smoke!"

With this speech madame placed herself majestically on a sofa, put
out her foot, called Fido, and relapsed into an icy silence. Frank
had long since evacuated the premises, with a rueful look at his
wife, but never daring to cast a glance at me. I saw the whole
business at once: here was this lion of a fellow tamed down by a
she Van Amburgh, and fetching and carrying at her orders a great
deal more obediently than her little yowling black-muzzled darling
of a Fido.

I am not, however, to be tamed so easily, and was determined in this
instance not to be in the least disconcerted, or to show the
smallest sign of ill-humour: so to renouer the conversation, I
began about Lady Pash.

"I heard you mention the name of Pash, I think?" said I. "I know a
lady of that name, and a very ugly one it is too."

"It is most probably not the same person," answered Mrs. Berry, with
a look which intimated that a fellow like me could never have had
the honour to know so exalted a person.

"I mean old Lady Pash of Hampton Court. Fat woman--fair, ain't
she?--and wears an amethyst in her forehead, has one eye, a blond
wig, and dresses in light green?"

"Lady Pash, sir, is MY AUNT," answered Mrs. Berry (not altogether
displeased, although she expected money from the old lady; but you
know we love to hear our friends abused when it can be safely done).

"Oh, indeed! she was a daughter of old Catacomb's of Windsor, I
remember, the undertaker. They called her husband Callipash, and
her ladyship Pishpash. So you see, madam, that I know the whole
family!"

"Mr. Fitz-Simons!" exclaimed Mrs. Berry, rising, "I am not
accustomed to hear nicknames applied to myself and my family; and
must beg you, when you honour us with your company, to spare our
feelings as much as possible. Mr. Catacomb had the confidence of
his SOVEREIGN, sir, and Sir John Pash was of Charles II.'s creation.
The one was my uncle, sir; the other my grandfather!"

"My dear madam, I am extremely sorry, and most sincerely apologise
for my inadvertence. But you owe me an apology too: my name is not
Fitz-Simons, but Fitz-Boodle."

"What! of Boodle Hall--my husband's old friend; of Charles I.'s
creation? My dear sir, I beg you a thousand pardons, and am
delighted to welcome a person of whom I have heard Frank say so
much. Frank!" (to Berry, who soon entered in very glossy boots and
a white waistcoat), "do you know, darling, I mistook Mr. Fitz-Boodle
for Mr. Fitz-Simons--that horrid Irish horse-dealing person; and I
never, never, never can pardon myself for being so rude to him."

The big eyes here assumed an expression that was intended to kill me
outright with kindness: from being calm, still, reserved, Angelica
suddenly became gay, smiling, confidential, and folatre. She told
me she had heard I was a sad creature, and that she intended to
reform me, and that I must come and see Frank a great deal.

Now, although Mr. Fitz-Simons, for whom I was mistaken, is as low a
fellow as ever came out of Dublin, and having been a captain in
somebody's army, is now a blackleg and horse-dealer by profession;
yet, if I had brought him home to Mrs. Fitz-Boodle to dinner, I
should have liked far better that that imaginary lady should have
received him with decent civility, and not insulted the stranger
within her husband's gates. And, although it was delightful to be
received so cordially when the mistake was discovered, yet I found
that ALL Berry's old acquaintances were by no means so warmly
welcomed; for another old school-chum presently made his appearance,
who was treated in a very different manner.

This was no other than poor Jack Butts, who is a sort of small
artist and picture-dealer by profession, and was a dayboy at
Slaughter House when we were there, and very serviceable in bringing
in sausages, pots of pickles, and other articles of merchandise,
which we could not otherwise procure. The poor fellow has been
employed, seemingly, in the same office of fetcher and carrier ever
since; and occupied that post for Mrs. Berry. It was, "Mr. Butts,
have you finished that drawing for Lady Pash's album?" and Butts
produced it; and, "Did you match the silk for me at Delille's?" and
there was the silk, bought, no doubt, with the poor fellow's last
five francs; and, "Did you go to the furniture-man in the Rue St.
Jacques; and bring the canary-seed, and call about my shawl at that
odious dawdling Madame Fichet's; and have you brought the
guitar-strings?"

Butts hadn't brought the guitar-strings; and thereupon Mrs. Berry's
countenance assumed the same terrible expression which I had
formerly remarked in it, and which made me tremble for Berry.

"My dear Angelica," though said he with some spirit, "Jack Butts
isn't a baggage-waggon, nor a Jack-of-all-trades; you make him paint
pictures for your women's albums, and look after your upholsterer,
and your canary-bird, and your milliners, and turn rusty because he
forgets your last message."

"I did not turn RUSTY, Frank, as you call it elegantly. I'm very
much obliged to Mr. Butts for performing my commissions--very much
obliged. And as for not paying for the pictures to which you so
kindly allude, Frank, _I_ should never have thought of offering
payment for so paltry a service; but I'm sure I shall be happy to
pay if Mr. Butts will send me in his bill."

"By Jove, Angelica, this is too much!" bounced out Berry; but the
little matrimonial squabble was abruptly ended, by Berry's French
man flinging open the door and announcing MILADI PASH and Doctor
Dobus, which two personages made their appearance.

The person of old Pash has been already parenthetically described.
But quite different from her dismal niece in temperament, she is as
jolly an old widow as ever wore weeds. She was attached somehow to
the Court, and has a multiplicity of stories about the princesses
and the old King, to which Mrs. Berry never fails to call your
attention in her grave, important way. Lady Pash has ridden many a
time to the Windsor hounds; she made her husband become a member of
the Four-in-hand Club, and has numberless stories about Sir Godfrey
Webster, Sir John Lade, and the old heroes of those times. She has
lent a rouleau to Dick Sheridan, and remembers Lord Byron when he
was a sulky slim young lad. She says Charles Fox was the
pleasantest fellow she ever met with, and has not the slightest
objection to inform you that one of the princes was very much in
love with her. Yet somehow she is only fifty-two years old, and I
have never been able to understand her calculation. One day or
other before her eye went out, and before those pearly teeth of hers
were stuck to her gums by gold, she must have been a pretty-looking
body enough. Yet, in spite of the latter inconvenience, she eats
and drinks too much every day, and tosses off a glass of maraschino
with a trembling pudgy hand, every finger of which twinkles with a
dozen, at least, of old rings. She has a story about every one of
those rings, and a stupid one too. But there is always something
pleasant, I think, in stupid family stories: they are good-hearted
people who tell them.

As for Mrs. Muchit, nothing need be said of her; she is Pash's
companion; she has lived with Lady Pash since the peace. Nor does
my Lady take any more notice of her than of the dust of the earth.
She calls her "poor Muchit," and considers her a half-witted
creature. Mrs. Berry hates her cordially, and thinks she is a
designing toad-eater, who has formed a conspiracy to rob her of her
aunt's fortune. She never spoke a word to poor Muchit during the
whole of dinner, or offered to help her to anything on the table.

In respect to Dobus, he is an old Peninsular man, as you are made to
know before you have been very long in his company; and, like most
army surgeons, is a great deal more military in his looks and
conversation, than the combatant part of the forces. He has adopted
the sham-Duke-of-Wellington air, which is by no means uncommon in
veterans; and, though one of the easiest and softest fellows in
existence, speaks slowly and briefly, and raps out an oath or two
occasionally, as it is said a certain great captain does. Besides
the above, we sat down to table with Captain Goff, late of the --
Highlanders; the Reverend Lemuel Whey, who preaches at St.
Germains; little Cutler, and the Frenchman, who always WILL be at
English parties on the Continent, and who, after making some
frightful efforts to speak English, subsides and is heard no more.
Young married ladies and heads of families generally have him for
the purpose of waltzing, and in return he informs his friends of the
club or the cafe that he has made the conquest of a charmante
Anglaise. Listen to me, all family men who read this! and never LET
AN UNMARRIED FRENCHMAN INTO YOUR DOORS. This lecture alone is worth
the price of the book. It is not that they do any harm in one case
out of a thousand, Heaven forbid! but they mean harm. They look on
our Susannas with unholy dishonest eyes. Hearken to two of the
grinning rogues chattering together as they clink over the asphalte
of the Boulevard with lacquered boots, and plastered hair, and waxed
moustaches, and turned-down shirt-collars, and stays and goggling
eyes, and hear how they talk of a good simple giddy vain dull Baker
Street creature, and canvass her points, and show her letters, and
insinuate--never mind, but I tell you my soul grows angry when I
think of the same; and I can't hear of an Englishwoman marrying a
Frenchman without feeling a sort of shame and pity for her. {4}

To return to the guests. The Reverend Lemuel Whey is a tea-party
man, with a curl on his forehead and a scented pocket-handkerchief.
He ties his white neckcloth to a wonder, and I believe sleeps in it.
He brings his flute with him; and prefers Handel, of course; but has
one or two pet profane songs of the sentimental kind, and will
occasionally lift up his little pipe in a glee. He does not dance,
but the honest fellow would give the world to do it; and he leaves
his clogs in the passage, though it is a wonder he wears them, for
in the muddiest weather he never has a speck on his foot. He was at
St. John's College, Cambridge, and was rather gay for a term or two,
he says. He is, in a word, full of the milk-and-water of human
kindness, and his family lives near Hackney.

As for Goff, he has a huge shining bald forehead, and immense
bristling Indian-red whiskers. He wears white wash-leather gloves,
drinks fairly, likes a rubber, and has a story for after dinner,
beginning, "Doctor, ye racklackt Sandy M'Lellan, who joined us in
the West Indies. Wal, sir," etc. These and little Cutler made up
the party.

Now it may not have struck all readers, but any sharp fellow
conversant with writing must have found out long ago, that if there
had been something exceedingly interesting to narrate with regard to
this dinner at Frank Berry's, I should have come out with it a
couple of pages since, nor have kept the public looking for so long
a time at the dish-covers and ornaments of the table.

But the simple fact must now be told, that there was nothing of the
slightest importance occurred at this repast, except that it gave me
an opportunity of studying Mrs. Berry in many different ways; and,
in spite of the extreme complaisance which she now showed me, of
forming, I am sorry to say, a most unfavourable opinion of that fair
lady. Truth to tell, I would much rather she should have been civil
to Mrs. Muchit, than outrageously complimentary to your humble
servant; and as she professed not to know what on earth there was
for dinner, would it not have been much more natural for her not to
frown, and bob, and wink, and point, and pinch her lips as often as
Monsieur Anatole, her French domestic, not knowing the ways of
English dinner-tables, placed anything out of its due order? The
allusions to Boodle Hall were innumerable, and I don't know any
greater bore than to be obliged to talk of a place which belongs to
one's elder brother. Many questions were likewise asked about the
dowager and her Scotch relatives, the Plumduffs, about whom Lady
Pash knew a great deal, having seen them at Court and at Lord
Melville's. Of course she had seen them at Court and at Lord
Melville's, as she might have seen thousands of Scotchmen besides;
but what mattered it to me, who care not a jot for old Lady
Fitz-Boodle? "When you write, you'll say you met an old friend of
her Ladyship's," says Mrs. Berry, and I faithfully promised I would
when I wrote; but if the New Post Office paid us for writing letters
(as very possibly it will soon), I could not be bribed to send a
line to old Lady Fitz.

In a word, I found that Berry, like many simple fellows before him,
had made choice of an imperious, ill-humoured, and underbred female
for a wife, and could see with half an eye that he was a great deal
too much her slave.

The struggle was not over yet, however. Witness that little
encounter before dinner; and once or twice the honest fellow replied
rather smartly during the repast, taking especial care to atone as
much as possible for his wife's inattention to Jack and Mrs. Muchit,
by particular attention to those personages, whom he helped to
everything round about and pressed perpetually to champagne; he
drank but little himself, for his amiable wife's eye was constantly
fixed on him.

Just at the conclusion of the dessert, madame, who had bouded Berry
during dinner-time, became particularly gracious to her lord and
master, and tenderly asked me if I did not think the French custom
was a good one, of men leaving table with the ladies.

"Upon my word, ma'am," says I, "I think it's a most abominable
practice."

"And so do I," says Cutler.

"A most abominable practice! Do you hear THAT?" cries Berry,
laughing, and filling his glass.

"I'm sure, Frank, when we are alone you always come to the
drawing-room," replies the lady, sharply.

"Oh, yes! when we're alone, darling," says Berry, blushing; "but now
we're NOT alone--ha, ha! Anatole, du Bordeaux!"

"I'm sure they sat after the ladies at CarIton House; didn't they,
Lady Pash?" says Dobus, who likes his glass.

"THAT they did!" says my Lady, giving him a jolly nod.

"I racklackt," exclaims Captain Goff, "when I was in the Mauritius,
that Mestress MacWhirter, who commanded the Saxty-Sackond, used to
say, 'Mac, if ye want to get lively, ye'll not stop for more than
two hours after the leddies have laft ye: if ye want to get drunk,
ye'll just dine at the mass.' So ye see, Mestress Barry, what was
Mac's allowance--haw, haw! Mester Whey, I'll trouble ye for the
o-lives."

But although we were in a clear majority, that indomitable woman,
Mrs. Berry, determined to make us all as uneasy as possible, and
would take the votes all round. Poor Jack, of course, sided with
her, and Whey said he loved a cup of tea and a little music better
than all the wine of Bordeaux. As for the Frenchman, when Mrs.
Berry said, "And what do you think, M. le Vicomte?"

"Vat you speak?" said M. de Blagueval, breaking silence for the
first time during two hours. "Yase--eh? to me you speak?"

"Apry deeny, aimy-voo ally avec les dam?"

"Comment avec les dames?"

"Ally avec les dam com a Parry, ou resty avec les Messew com on
Onglyterre?"

"Ah, madame! vous me le demandez?" cries the little wretch, starting
up in a theatrical way, and putting out his hand, which Mrs. Berry
took, and with this the ladies left the room. Old Lady Pash trotted
after her niece with her hand in Whey's, very much wondering at such
practices, which were not in the least in vogue in the reign of
George III.

Mrs. Berry cast a glance of triumph at her husband, at the
defection; and Berry was evidently annoyed that three-eighths of his
male forces had left him.

But fancy our delight and astonishment, when in a minute they all
three came back again; the Frenchman looking entirely astonished,
and the parson and the painter both very queer. The fact is, old
downright Lady Pash, who had never been in Paris in her life before,
and had no notion of being deprived of her usual hour's respite and
nap, said at once to Mrs. Berry, "My dear Angelica, you're surely
not going to keep these three men here? Send them back to the
dining-room, for I've a thousand things to say to you." And
Angelica, who expects to inherit her aunt's property, of course did
as she was bid; on which the old lady fell into an easy chair, and
fell asleep immediately,--so soon, that is, as the shout caused by
the reappearance of the three gentlemen in the dining-room had
subsided.

I had meanwhile had some private conversation with little Cutler
regarding the character of Mrs. Berry. "She's a regular screw,"
whispered he; "a regular Tartar. Berry shows fight, though,
sometimes, and I've known him have his own way for a week together.
After dinner he is his own master, and hers when he has had his
share of wine; and that's why she will never allow him to drink
any."

Was it a wicked, or was it a noble and honourable thought which came
to us both at the same minute, to rescue Berry from his captivity?
The ladies, of course, will give their verdict according to their
gentle natures; but I know what men of courage will think, and by
their jovial judgment will abide.

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