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Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

Part 12 out of 15

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keeping a sharp look-out, and are ready for anything. And what a
contrast between them, and that stage-box full of grey-headed
officers with tokens of many battles about them, who have nothing
at all in common with the military young gentlemen, and who--but
for an old-fashioned kind of manly dignity in their looks and
bearing--might be common hard-working soldiers for anything they
take the pains to announce to the contrary!

Ah! here is a family just come in who recognise the flaxen-headed
young gentleman; and the flaxen-headed young gentleman recognises
them too, only he doesn't care to show it just now. Very well done
indeed! He talks louder to the little group of military young
gentlemen who are standing by him, and coughs to induce some ladies
in the next box but one to look round, in order that their faces
may undergo the same ordeal of criticism to which they have
subjected, in not a wholly inaudible tone, the majority of the
female portion of the audience. Oh! a gentleman in the same box
looks round as if he were disposed to resent this as an
impertinence; and the flaxen-headed young gentleman sees his
friends at once, and hurries away to them with the most charming

Three young ladies, one young man, and the mamma of the party,
receive the military young gentleman with great warmth and
politeness, and in five minutes afterwards the military young
gentleman, stimulated by the mamma, introduces the two other
military young gentlemen with whom he was walking in the morning,
who take their seats behind the young ladies and commence
conversation; whereat the mamma bestows a triumphant bow upon a
rival mamma, who has not succeeded in decoying any military young
gentlemen, and prepares to consider her visitors from that moment
three of the most elegant and superior young gentlemen in the whole


Once upon a time--NOT in the days when pigs drank wine, but in a
more recent period of our history--it was customary to banish
politics when ladies were present. If this usage still prevailed,
we should have had no chapter for political young gentlemen, for
ladies would have neither known nor cared what kind of monster a
political young gentleman was. But as this good custom in common
with many others has 'gone out,' and left no word when it is likely
to be home again; as political young ladies are by no means rare,
and political young gentlemen the very reverse of scarce, we are
bound in the strict discharge of our most responsible duty not to
neglect this natural division of our subject.

If the political young gentleman be resident in a country town (and
there ARE political young gentlemen in country towns sometimes), he
is wholly absorbed in his politics; as a pair of purple spectacles
communicate the same uniform tint to all objects near and remote,
so the political glasses, with which the young gentleman assists
his mental vision, give to everything the hue and tinge of party
feeling. The political young gentleman would as soon think of
being struck with the beauty of a young lady in the opposite
interest, as he would dream of marrying his sister to the opposite

If the political young gentleman be a Conservative, he has usually
some vague ideas about Ireland and the Pope which he cannot very
clearly explain, but which he knows are the right sort of thing,
and not to be very easily got over by the other side. He has also
some choice sentences regarding church and state, culled from the
banners in use at the last election, with which he intersperses his
conversation at intervals with surprising effect. But his great
topic is the constitution, upon which he will declaim, by the hour
together, with much heat and fury; not that he has any particular
information on the subject, but because he knows that the
constitution is somehow church and state, and church and state
somehow the constitution, and that the fellows on the other side
say it isn't, which is quite a sufficient reason for him to say it
is, and to stick to it.

Perhaps his greatest topic of all, though, is the people. If a
fight takes place in a populous town, in which many noses are
broken, and a few windows, the young gentleman throws down the
newspaper with a triumphant air, and exclaims, 'Here's your
precious people!' If half-a-dozen boys run across the course at
race time, when it ought to be kept clear, the young gentleman
looks indignantly round, and begs you to observe the conduct of the
people; if the gallery demand a hornpipe between the play and the
afterpiece, the same young gentleman cries 'No' and 'Shame' till he
is hoarse, and then inquires with a sneer what you think of popular
moderation NOW; in short, the people form a never-failing theme for
him; and when the attorney, on the side of his candidate, dwells
upon it with great power of eloquence at election time, as he never
fails to do, the young gentleman and his friends, and the body they
head, cheer with great violence against THE OTHER PEOPLE, with
whom, of course, they have no possible connexion. In much the same
manner the audience at a theatre never fail to be highly amused
with any jokes at the expense of the public--always laughing
heartily at some other public, and never at themselves.

If the political young gentleman be a Radical, he is usually a very
profound person indeed, having great store of theoretical questions
to put to you, with an infinite variety of possible cases and
logical deductions therefrom. If he be of the utilitarian school,
too, which is more than probable, he is particularly pleasant
company, having many ingenious remarks to offer upon the voluntary
principle and various cheerful disquisitions connected with the
population of the country, the position of Great Britain in the
scale of nations, and the balance of power. Then he is exceedingly
well versed in all doctrines of political economy as laid down in
the newspapers, and knows a great many parliamentary speeches by
heart; nay, he has a small stock of aphorisms, none of them
exceeding a couple of lines in length, which will settle the
toughest question and leave you nothing to say. He gives all the
young ladies to understand, that Miss Martineau is the greatest
woman that ever lived; and when they praise the good looks of Mr.
Hawkins the new member, says he's very well for a representative,
all things considered, but he wants a little calling to account,
and he is more than half afraid it will be necessary to bring him
down on his knees for that vote on the miscellaneous estimates. At
this, the young ladies express much wonderment, and say surely a
Member of Parliament is not to be brought upon his knees so easily;
in reply to which the political young gentleman smiles sternly, and
throws out dark hints regarding the speedy arrival of that day,
when Members of Parliament will be paid salaries, and required to
render weekly accounts of their proceedings, at which the young
ladies utter many expressions of astonishment and incredulity,
while their lady-mothers regard the prophecy as little else than

It is extremely improving and interesting to hear two political
young gentlemen, of diverse opinions, discuss some great question
across a dinner-table; such as, whether, if the public were
admitted to Westminster Abbey for nothing, they would or would not
convey small chisels and hammers in their pockets, and immediately
set about chipping all the noses off the statues; or whether, if
they once got into the Tower for a shilling, they would not insist
upon trying the crown on their own heads, and loading and firing
off all the small arms in the armoury, to the great discomposure of
Whitechapel and the Minories. Upon these, and many other momentous
questions which agitate the public mind in these desperate days,
they will discourse with great vehemence and irritation for a
considerable time together, both leaving off precisely where they
began, and each thoroughly persuaded that he has got the better of
the other.

In society, at assemblies, balls, and playhouses, these political
young gentlemen are perpetually on the watch for a political
allusion, or anything which can be tortured or construed into being
one; when, thrusting themselves into the very smallest openings for
their favourite discourse, they fall upon the unhappy company tooth
and nail. They have recently had many favourable opportunities of
opening in churches, but as there the clergyman has it all his own
way, and must not be contradicted, whatever politics he preaches,
they are fain to hold their tongues until they reach the outer
door, though at the imminent risk of bursting in the effort.

As such discussions can please nobody but the talkative parties
concerned, we hope they will henceforth take the hint and
discontinue them, otherwise we now give them warning, that the
ladies have our advice to discountenance such talkers altogether.


Let us make a slight sketch of our amiable friend, Mr. Felix Nixon.
We are strongly disposed to think, that if we put him in this
place, he will answer our purpose without another word of comment.

Felix, then, is a young gentleman who lives at home with his
mother, just within the twopenny-post office circle of three miles
from St. Martin-le-Grand. He wears Indiarubber goloshes when the
weather is at all damp, and always has a silk handkerchief neatly
folded up in the right-hand pocket of his great-coat, to tie over
his mouth when he goes home at night; moreover, being rather near-
sighted, he carries spectacles for particular occasions, and has a
weakish tremulous voice, of which he makes great use, for he talks
as much as any old lady breathing.

The two chief subjects of Felix's discourse, are himself and his
mother, both of whom would appear to be very wonderful and
interesting persons. As Felix and his mother are seldom apart in
body, so Felix and his mother are scarcely ever separate in spirit.
If you ask Felix how he finds himself to-day, he prefaces his reply
with a long and minute bulletin of his mother's state of health;
and the good lady in her turn, edifies her acquaintance with a
circumstantial and alarming account, how he sneezed four times and
coughed once after being out in the rain the other night, but
having his feet promptly put into hot water, and his head into a
flannel-something, which we will not describe more particularly
than by this delicate allusion, was happily brought round by the
next morning, and enabled to go to business as usual.

Our friend is not a very adventurous or hot-headed person, but he
has passed through many dangers, as his mother can testify: there
is one great story in particular, concerning a hackney coachman who
wanted to overcharge him one night for bringing them home from the
play, upon which Felix gave the aforesaid coachman a look which his
mother thought would have crushed him to the earth, but which did
not crush him quite, for he continued to demand another sixpence,
notwithstanding that Felix took out his pocket-book, and, with the
aid of a flat candle, pointed out the fare in print, which the
coachman obstinately disregarding, he shut the street-door with a
slam which his mother shudders to think of; and then, roused to the
most appalling pitch of passion by the coachman knocking a double
knock to show that he was by no means convinced, he broke with
uncontrollable force from his parent and the servant girl, and
running into the street without his hat, actually shook his fist at
the coachman, and came back again with a face as white, Mrs. Nixon
says, looking about her for a simile, as white as that ceiling.
She never will forget his fury that night, Never!

To this account Felix listens with a solemn face, occasionally
looking at you to see how it affects you, and when his mother has
made an end of it, adds that he looked at every coachman he met for
three weeks afterwards, in hopes that he might see the scoundrel;
whereupon Mrs. Nixon, with an exclamation of terror, requests to
know what he would have done to him if he HAD seen him, at which
Felix smiling darkly and clenching his right fist, she exclaims,
'Goodness gracious!' with a distracted air, and insists upon
extorting a promise that he never will on any account do anything
so rash, which her dutiful son--it being something more than three
years since the offence was committed--reluctantly concedes, and
his mother, shaking her head prophetically, fears with a sigh that
his spirit will lead him into something violent yet. The discourse
then, by an easy transition, turns upon the spirit which glows
within the bosom of Felix, upon which point Felix himself becomes
eloquent, and relates a thrilling anecdote of the time when he used
to sit up till two o'clock in the morning reading French, and how
his mother used to say, 'Felix, you will make yourself ill, I know
you will;' and how HE used to say, 'Mother, I don't care--I will do
it;' and how at last his mother privately procured a doctor to come
and see him, who declared, the moment he felt his pulse, that if he
had gone on reading one night more--only one night more--he must
have put a blister on each temple, and another between his
shoulders; and who, as it was, sat down upon the instant, and
writing a prescription for a blue pill, said it must be taken
immediately, or he wouldn't answer for the consequences. The
recital of these and many other moving perils of the like nature,
constantly harrows up the feelings of Mr. Nixon's friends.

Mrs. Nixon has a tolerably extensive circle of female acquaintance,
being a good-humoured, talkative, bustling little body, and to the
unmarried girls among them she is constantly vaunting the virtues
of her son, hinting that she will be a very happy person who wins
him, but that they must mind their P's and Q's, for he is very
particular, and terribly severe upon young ladies. At this last
caution the young ladies resident in the same row, who happen to be
spending the evening there, put their pocket-handkerchiefs before
their mouths, and are troubled with a short cough; just then Felix
knocks at the door, and his mother drawing the tea-table nearer the
fire, calls out to him as he takes off his boots in the back
parlour that he needn't mind coming in in his slippers, for there
are only the two Miss Greys and Miss Thompson, and she is quite
sure they will excuse HIM, and nodding to the two Miss Greys, she
adds, in a whisper, that Julia Thompson is a great favourite with
Felix, at which intelligence the short cough comes again, and Miss
Thompson in particular is greatly troubled with it, till Felix
coming in, very faint for want of his tea, changes the subject of
discourse, and enables her to laugh out boldly and tell Amelia Grey
not to be so foolish. Here they all three laugh, and Mrs. Nixon
says they are giddy girls; in which stage of the proceedings,
Felix, who has by this time refreshened himself with the grateful
herb that 'cheers but not inebriates,' removes his cup from his
countenance and says with a knowing smile, that all girls are;
whereat his admiring mamma pats him on the back and tells him not
to be sly, which calls forth a general laugh from the young ladies,
and another smile from Felix, who, thinking he looks very sly
indeed, is perfectly satisfied.

Tea being over, the young ladies resume their work, and Felix
insists upon holding a skein of silk while Miss Thompson winds it
on a card. This process having been performed to the satisfaction
of all parties, he brings down his flute in compliance with a
request from the youngest Miss Grey, and plays divers tunes out of
a very small music-book till supper-time, when he is very facetious
and talkative indeed. Finally, after half a tumblerful of warm
sherry and water, he gallantly puts on his goloshes over his
slippers, and telling Miss Thompson's servant to run on first and
get the door open, escorts that young lady to her house, five doors
off: the Miss Greys who live in the next house but one stopping to
peep with merry faces from their own door till he comes back again,
when they call out 'Very well, Mr. Felix,' and trip into the
passage with a laugh more musical than any flute that was ever

Felix is rather prim in his appearance, and perhaps a little
priggish about his books and flute, and so forth, which have all
their peculiar corners of peculiar shelves in his bedroom; indeed
all his female acquaintance (and they are good judges) have long
ago set him down as a thorough old bachelor. He is a favourite
with them however, in a certain way, as an honest, inoffensive,
kind-hearted creature; and as his peculiarities harm nobody, not
even himself, we are induced to hope that many who are not
personally acquainted with him will take our good word in his
behalf, and be content to leave him to a long continuance of his
harmless existence.


There is an amiable kind of young gentleman going about in society,
upon whom, after much experience of him, and considerable turning
over of the subject in our mind, we feel it our duty to affix the
above appellation. Young ladies mildly call him a 'sarcastic'
young gentleman, or a 'severe' young gentleman. We, who know
better, beg to acquaint them with the fact, that he is merely a
censorious young gentleman, and nothing else.

The censorious young gentleman has the reputation among his
familiars of a remarkably clever person, which he maintains by
receiving all intelligence and expressing all opinions with a
dubious sneer, accompanied with a half smile, expressive of
anything you please but good-humour. This sets people about
thinking what on earth the censorious young gentleman means, and
they speedily arrive at the conclusion that he means something very
deep indeed; for they reason in this way--'This young gentleman
looks so very knowing that he must mean something, and as I am by
no means a dull individual, what a very deep meaning he must have
if I can't find it out!' It is extraordinary how soon a censorious
young gentleman may make a reputation in his own small circle if he
bear this in his mind, and regulate his proceedings accordingly.

As young ladies are generally--not curious, but laudably desirous
to acquire information, the censorious young gentleman is much
talked about among them, and many surmises are hazarded regarding
him. 'I wonder,' exclaims the eldest Miss Greenwood, laying down
her work to turn up the lamp, 'I wonder whether Mr. Fairfax will
ever be married.' 'Bless me, dear,' cries Miss Marshall, 'what
ever made you think of him?' 'Really I hardly know,' replies Miss
Greenwood; 'he is such a very mysterious person, that I often
wonder about him.' 'Well, to tell you the truth,' replies Miss
Marshall, 'and so do I.' Here two other young ladies profess that
they are constantly doing the like, and all present appear in the
same condition except one young lady, who, not scrupling to state
that she considers Mr. Fairfax 'a horror,' draws down all the
opposition of the others, which having been expressed in a great
many ejaculatory passages, such as 'Well, did I ever!'--and 'Lor,
Emily, dear!' ma takes up the subject, and gravely states, that she
must say she does not think Mr. Fairfax by any means a horror, but
rather takes him to be a young man of very great ability; 'and I am
quite sure,' adds the worthy lady, 'he always means a great deal
more than he says.'

The door opens at this point of the disclosure, and who of all
people alive walks into the room, but the very Mr. Fairfax, who has
been the subject of conversation! 'Well, it really is curious,'
cries ma, 'we were at that very moment talking about you.' 'You
did me great honour,' replies Mr. Fairfax; 'may I venture to ask
what you were saying?' 'Why, if you must know,' returns the eldest
girl, 'we were remarking what a very mysterious man you are.' 'Ay,
ay!' observes Mr. Fairfax, 'Indeed!' Now Mr. Fairfax says this ay,
ay, and indeed, which are slight words enough in themselves, with
so very unfathomable an air, and accompanies them with such a very
equivocal smile, that ma and the young ladies are more than ever
convinced that he means an immensity, and so tell him he is a very
dangerous man, and seems to be always thinking ill of somebody,
which is precisely the sort of character the censorious young
gentleman is most desirous to establish; wherefore he says, 'Oh,
dear, no,' in a tone, obviously intended to mean, 'You have me
there,' and which gives them to understand that they have hit the
right nail on the very centre of its head.

When the conversation ranges from the mystery overhanging the
censorious young gentleman's behaviour, to the general topics of
the day, he sustains his character to admiration. He considers the
new tragedy well enough for a new tragedy, but Lord bless us--well,
no matter; he could say a great deal on that point, but he would
rather not, lest he should be thought ill-natured, as he knows he
would be. 'But is not Mr. So-and-so's performance truly charming?'
inquires a young lady. 'Charming!' replies the censorious young
gentleman. 'Oh, dear, yes, certainly; very charming--oh, very
charming indeed.' After this, he stirs the fire, smiling
contemptuously all the while: and a modest young gentleman, who
has been a silent listener, thinks what a great thing it must be,
to have such a critical judgment. Of music, pictures, books, and
poetry, the censorious young gentleman has an equally fine
conception. As to men and women, he can tell all about them at a
glance. 'Now let us hear your opinion of young Mrs. Barker,' says
some great believer in the powers of Mr. Fairfax, 'but don't be too
severe.' 'I never am severe,' replies the censorious young
gentleman. 'Well, never mind that now. She is very lady-like, is
she not?' 'Lady-like!' repeats the censorious young gentleman (for
he always repeats when he is at a loss for anything to say). 'Did
you observe her manner? Bless my heart and soul, Mrs. Thompson,
did you observe her manner?--that's all I ask.' 'I thought I had
done so,' rejoins the poor lady, much perplexed; 'I did not observe
it very closely perhaps.' 'Oh, not very closely,' rejoins the
censorious young gentleman, triumphantly. 'Very good; then _I_
did. Let us talk no more about her.' The censorious young
gentleman purses up his lips, and nods his head sagely, as he says
this; and it is forthwith whispered about, that Mr. Fairfax (who,
though he is a little prejudiced, must be admitted to be a very
excellent judge) has observed something exceedingly odd in Mrs.
Barker's manner.


As one funny young gentleman will serve as a sample of all funny
young Gentlemen we purpose merely to note down the conduct and
behaviour of an individual specimen of this class, whom we happened
to meet at an annual family Christmas party in the course of this
very last Christmas that ever came.

We were all seated round a blazing fire which crackled pleasantly
as the guests talked merrily and the urn steamed cheerily--for,
being an old-fashioned party, there WAS an urn, and a teapot
besides--when there came a postman's knock at the door, so violent
and sudden, that it startled the whole circle, and actually caused
two or three very interesting and most unaffected young ladies to
scream aloud and to exhibit many afflicting symptoms of terror and
distress, until they had been several times assured by their
respective adorers, that they were in no danger. We were about to
remark that it was surely beyond post-time, and must have been a
runaway knock, when our host, who had hitherto been paralysed with
wonder, sank into a chair in a perfect ecstasy of laughter, and
offered to lay twenty pounds that it was that droll dog Griggins.
He had no sooner said this, than the majority of the company and
all the children of the house burst into a roar of laughter too, as
if some inimitable joke flashed upon them simultaneously, and gave
vent to various exclamations of--To be sure it must be Griggins,
and How like him that was, and What spirits he was always in! with
many other commendatory remarks of the like nature.

Not having the happiness to know Griggins, we became extremely
desirous to see so pleasant a fellow, the more especially as a
stout gentleman with a powdered head, who was sitting with his
breeches buckles almost touching the hob, whispered us he was a wit
of the first water, when the door opened, and Mr. Griggins being
announced, presented himself, amidst another shout of laughter and
a loud clapping of hands from the younger branches. This welcome
he acknowledged by sundry contortions of countenance, imitative of
the clown in one of the new pantomimes, which were so extremely
successful, that one stout gentleman rolled upon an ottoman in a
paroxysm of delight, protesting, with many gasps, that if somebody
didn't make that fellow Griggins leave off, he would be the death
of him, he knew. At this the company only laughed more
boisterously than before, and as we always like to accommodate our
tone and spirit if possible to the humour of any society in which
we find ourself, we laughed with the rest, and exclaimed, 'Oh!
capital, capital!' as loud as any of them.

When he had quite exhausted all beholders, Mr. Griggins received
the welcomes and congratulations of the circle, and went through
the needful introductions with much ease and many puns. This
ceremony over, he avowed his intention of sitting in somebody's lap
unless the young ladies made room for him on the sofa, which being
done, after a great deal of tittering and pleasantry, he squeezed
himself among them, and likened his condition to that of love among
the roses. At this novel jest we all roared once more. 'You
should consider yourself highly honoured, sir,' said we. 'Sir,'
replied Mr. Griggins, 'you do me proud.' Here everybody laughed
again; and the stout gentleman by the fire whispered in our ear
that Griggins was making a dead set at us.

The tea-things having been removed, we all sat down to a round
game, and here Mr. Griggins shone forth with peculiar brilliancy,
abstracting other people's fish, and looking over their hands in
the most comical manner. He made one most excellent joke in
snuffing a candle, which was neither more nor less than setting
fire to the hair of a pale young gentleman who sat next him, and
afterwards begging his pardon with considerable humour. As the
young gentleman could not see the joke however, possibly in
consequence of its being on the top of his own head, it did not go
off quite as well as it might have done; indeed, the young
gentleman was heard to murmur some general references to
'impertinence,' and a 'rascal,' and to state the number of his
lodgings in an angry tone--a turn of the conversation which might
have been productive of slaughterous consequences, if a young lady,
betrothed to the young gentleman, had not used her immediate
influence to bring about a reconciliation: emphatically declaring
in an agitated whisper, intended for his peculiar edification but
audible to the whole table, that if he went on in that way, she
never would think of him otherwise than as a friend, though as that
she must always regard him. At this terrible threat the young
gentleman became calm, and the young lady, overcome by the
revulsion of feeling, instantaneously fainted.

Mr. Griggins's spirits were slightly depressed for a short period
by this unlooked-for result of such a harmless pleasantry, but
being promptly elevated by the attentions of the host and several
glasses of wine, he soon recovered, and became even more vivacious
than before, insomuch that the stout gentleman previously referred
to, assured us that although he had known him since he was THAT
high (something smaller than a nutmeg-grater), he had never beheld
him in such excellent cue.

When the round game and several games at blind man's buff which
followed it were all over, and we were going down to supper, the
inexhaustible Mr. Griggins produced a small sprig of mistletoe from
his waistcoat pocket, and commenced a general kissing of the
assembled females, which occasioned great commotion and much
excitement. We observed that several young gentlemen--including
the young gentleman with the pale countenance--were greatly
scandalised at this indecorous proceeding, and talked very big
among themselves in corners; and we observed too, that several
young ladies when remonstrated with by the aforesaid young
gentlemen, called each other to witness how they had struggled, and
protested vehemently that it was very rude, and that they were
surprised at Mrs. Brown's allowing it, and that they couldn't bear
it, and had no patience with such impertinence. But such is the
gentle and forgiving nature of woman, that although we looked very
narrowly for it, we could not detect the slightest harshness in the
subsequent treatment of Mr. Griggins. Indeed, upon the whole, it
struck us that among the ladies he seemed rather more popular than

To recount all the drollery of Mr. Griggins at supper, would fill
such a tiny volume as this, to the very bottom of the outside
cover. How he drank out of other people's glasses, and ate of
other people's bread, how he frightened into screaming convulsions
a little boy who was sitting up to supper in a high chair, by
sinking below the table and suddenly reappearing with a mask on;
how the hostess was really surprised that anybody could find a
pleasure in tormenting children, and how the host frowned at the
hostess, and felt convinced that Mr. Griggins had done it with the
very best intentions; how Mr. Griggins explained, and how
everybody's good-humour was restored but the child's;--to tell
these and a hundred other things ever so briefly, would occupy more
of our room and our readers' patience, than either they or we can
conveniently spare. Therefore we change the subject, merely
observing that we have offered no description of the funny young
gentleman's personal appearance, believing that almost every
society has a Griggins of its own, and leaving all readers to
supply the deficiency, according to the particular circumstances of
their particular case.


All gentlemen who love the drama--and there are few gentlemen who
are not attached to the most intellectual and rational of all our
amusements--do not come within this definition. As we have no mean
relish for theatrical entertainments ourself, we are
disinterestedly anxious that this should be perfectly understood.

The theatrical young gentleman has early and important information
on all theatrical topics. 'Well,' says he, abruptly, when you meet
him in the street, 'here's a pretty to-do. Flimkins has thrown up
his part in the melodrama at the Surrey.'--'And what's to be done?'
you inquire with as much gravity as you can counterfeit. 'Ah,
that's the point,' replies the theatrical young gentleman, looking
very serious; 'Boozle declines it; positively declines it. From
all I am told, I should say it was decidedly in Boozle's line, and
that he would be very likely to make a great hit in it; but he
objects on the ground of Flimkins having been put up in the part
first, and says no earthly power shall induce him to take the
character. It's a fine part, too--excellent business, I'm told.
He has to kill six people in the course of the piece, and to fight
over a bridge in red fire, which is as safe a card, you know, as
can be. Don't mention it; but I hear that the last scene, when he
is first poisoned, and then stabbed, by Mrs. Flimkins as Vengedora,
will be the greatest thing that has been done these many years.'
With this piece of news, and laying his finger on his lips as a
caution for you not to excite the town with it, the theatrical
young gentleman hurries away.

The theatrical young gentleman, from often frequenting the
different theatrical establishments, has pet and familiar names for
them all. Thus Covent-Garden is the garden, Drury-Lane the lane,
the Victoria the vic, and the Olympic the pic. Actresses, too, are
always designated by their surnames only, as Taylor, Nisbett,
Faucit, Honey; that talented and lady-like girl Sheriff, that
clever little creature Horton, and so on. In the same manner he
prefixes Christian names when he mentions actors, as Charley Young,
Jemmy Buckstone, Fred. Yates, Paul Bedford. When he is at a loss
for a Christian name, the word 'old' applied indiscriminately
answers quite as well: as old Charley Matthews at Vestris's, old
Harley, and old Braham. He has a great knowledge of the private
proceedings of actresses, especially of their getting married, and
can tell you in a breath half-a-dozen who have changed their names
without avowing it. Whenever an alteration of this kind is made in
the playbills, he will remind you that he let you into the secret
six months ago.

The theatrical young gentleman has a great reverence for all that
is connected with the stage department of the different theatres.
He would, at any time, prefer going a street or two out of his way,
to omitting to pass a stage-entrance, into which he always looks
with a curious and searching eye. If he can only identify a
popular actor in the street, he is in a perfect transport of
delight; and no sooner meets him, than he hurries back, and walks a
few paces in front of him, so that he can turn round from time to
time, and have a good stare at his features. He looks upon a
theatrical-fund dinner as one of the most enchanting festivities
ever known; and thinks that to be a member of the Garrick Club, and
see so many actors in their plain clothes, must be one of the
highest gratifications the world can bestow.

The theatrical young gentleman is a constant half-price visitor at
one or other of the theatres, and has an infinite relish for all
pieces which display the fullest resources of the establishment.
He likes to place implicit reliance upon the play-bills when he
goes to see a show-piece, and works himself up to such a pitch of
enthusiasm, as not only to believe (if the bills say so) that there
are three hundred and seventy-five people on the stage at one time
in the last scene, but is highly indignant with you, unless you
believe it also. He considers that if the stage be opened from the
foot-lights to the back wall, in any new play, the piece is a
triumph of dramatic writing, and applauds accordingly. He has a
great notion of trap-doors too; and thinks any character going down
or coming up a trap (no matter whether he be an angel or a demon--
they both do it occasionally) one of the most interesting feats in
the whole range of scenic illusion.

Besides these acquirements, he has several veracious accounts to
communicate of the private manners and customs of different actors,
which, during the pauses of a quadrille, he usually communicates to
his partner, or imparts to his neighbour at a supper table. Thus
he is advised, that Mr. Liston always had a footman in gorgeous
livery waiting at the side-scene with a brandy bottle and tumbler,
to administer half a pint or so of spirit to him every time he came
off, without which assistance he must infallibly have fainted. He
knows for a fact, that, after an arduous part, Mr. George Bennett
is put between two feather beds, to absorb the perspiration; and is
credibly informed, that Mr. Baker has, for many years, submitted to
a course of lukewarm toast-and-water, to qualify him to sustain his
favourite characters. He looks upon Mr. Fitz Ball as the principal
dramatic genius and poet of the day; but holds that there are great
writers extant besides him,--in proof whereof he refers you to
various dramas and melodramas recently produced, of which he takes
in all the sixpenny and three-penny editions as fast as they

The theatrical young gentleman is a great advocate for violence of
emotion and redundancy of action. If a father has to curse a child
upon the stage, he likes to see it done in the thorough-going
style, with no mistake about it: to which end it is essential that
the child should follow the father on her knees, and be knocked
violently over on her face by the old gentleman as he goes into a
small cottage, and shuts the door behind him. He likes to see a
blessing invoked upon the young lady, when the old gentleman
repents, with equal earnestness, and accompanied by the usual
conventional forms, which consist of the old gentleman looking
anxiously up into the clouds, as if to see whether it rains, and
then spreading an imaginary tablecloth in the air over the young
lady's head--soft music playing all the while. Upon these, and
other points of a similar kind, the theatrical young gentleman is a
great critic indeed. He is likewise very acute in judging of
natural expressions of the passions, and knows precisely the frown,
wink, nod, or leer, which stands for any one of them, or the means
by which it may be converted into any other: as jealousy, with a
good stamp of the right foot, becomes anger; or wildness, with the
hands clasped before the throat, instead of tearing the wig, is
passionate love. If you venture to express a doubt of the accuracy
of any of these portraitures, the theatrical young gentleman
assures you, with a haughty smile, that it always has been done in
that way, and he supposes they are not going to change it at this
time of day to please you; to which, of course, you meekly reply
that you suppose not.

There are innumerable disquisitions of this nature, in which the
theatrical young gentleman is very profound, especially to ladies
whom he is most in the habit of entertaining with them; but as we
have no space to recapitulate them at greater length, we must rest
content with calling the attention of the young ladies in general
to the theatrical young gentlemen of their own acquaintance.


Time was, and not very long ago either, when a singular epidemic
raged among the young gentlemen, vast numbers of whom, under the
influence of the malady, tore off their neckerchiefs, turned down
their shirt collars, and exhibited themselves in the open streets
with bare throats and dejected countenances, before the eyes of an
astonished public. These were poetical young gentlemen. The
custom was gradually found to be inconvenient, as involving the
necessity of too much clean linen and too large washing bills, and
these outward symptoms have consequently passed away; but we are
disposed to think, notwithstanding, that the number of poetical
young gentlemen is considerably on the increase.

We know a poetical young gentleman--a very poetical young
gentleman. We do not mean to say that he is troubled with the gift
of poesy in any remarkable degree, but his countenance is of a
plaintive and melancholy cast, his manner is abstracted and
bespeaks affliction of soul: he seldom has his hair cut, and often
talks about being an outcast and wanting a kindred spirit; from
which, as well as from many general observations in which he is
wont to indulge, concerning mysterious impulses, and yearnings of
the heart, and the supremacy of intellect gilding all earthly
things with the glowing magic of immortal verse, it is clear to all
his friends that he has been stricken poetical.

The favourite attitude of the poetical young gentleman is lounging
on a sofa with his eyes fixed upon the ceiling, or sitting bolt
upright in a high-backed chair, staring with very round eyes at the
opposite wall. When he is in one of these positions, his mother,
who is a worthy, affectionate old soul, will give you a nudge to
bespeak your attention without disturbing the abstracted one, and
whisper with a shake of the head, that John's imagination is at
some extraordinary work or other, you may take her word for it.
Hereupon John looks more fiercely intent upon vacancy than before,
and suddenly snatching a pencil from his pocket, puts down three
words, and a cross on the back of a card, sighs deeply, paces once
or twice across the room, inflicts a most unmerciful slap upon his
head, and walks moodily up to his dormitory.

The poetical young gentleman is apt to acquire peculiar notions of
things too, which plain ordinary people, unblessed with a poetical
obliquity of vision, would suppose to be rather distorted. For
instance, when the sickening murder and mangling of a wretched
woman was affording delicious food wherewithal to gorge the
insatiable curiosity of the public, our friend the poetical young
gentleman was in ecstasies--not of disgust, but admiration.
'Heavens!' cried the poetical young gentleman, 'how grand; how
great!' We ventured deferentially to inquire upon whom these
epithets were bestowed: our humble thoughts oscillating between
the police officer who found the criminal, and the lock-keeper who
found the head. 'Upon whom!' exclaimed the poetical young
gentleman in a frenzy of poetry, 'Upon whom should they be bestowed
but upon the murderer!'--and thereupon it came out, in a fine
torrent of eloquence, that the murderer was a great spirit, a bold
creature full of daring and nerve, a man of dauntless heart and
determined courage, and withal a great casuist and able reasoner,
as was fully demonstrated in his philosophical colloquies with the
great and noble of the land. We held our peace, and meekly
signified our indisposition to controvert these opinions--firstly,
because we were no match at quotation for the poetical young
gentleman; and secondly, because we felt it would be of little use
our entering into any disputation, if we were: being perfectly
convinced that the respectable and immoral hero in question is not
the first and will not be the last hanged gentleman upon whom false
sympathy or diseased curiosity will be plentifully expended.

This was a stern mystic flight of the poetical young gentleman. In
his milder and softer moments he occasionally lays down his
neckcloth, and pens stanzas, which sometimes find their way into a
Lady's Magazine, or the 'Poets' Corner' of some country newspaper;
or which, in default of either vent for his genius, adorn the
rainbow leaves of a lady's album. These are generally written upon
some such occasions as contemplating the Bank of England by
midnight, or beholding Saint Paul's in a snow-storm; and when these
gloomy objects fail to afford him inspiration, he pours forth his
soul in a touching address to a violet, or a plaintive lament that
he is no longer a child, but has gradually grown up.

The poetical young gentleman is fond of quoting passages from his
favourite authors, who are all of the gloomy and desponding school.
He has a great deal to say too about the world, and is much given
to opining, especially if he has taken anything strong to drink,
that there is nothing in it worth living for. He gives you to
understand, however, that for the sake of society, he means to bear
his part in the tiresome play, manfully resisting the gratification
of his own strong desire to make a premature exit; and consoles
himself with the reflection, that immortality has some chosen nook
for himself and the other great spirits whom earth has chafed and

When the poetical young gentleman makes use of adjectives, they are
all superlatives. Everything is of the grandest, greatest,
noblest, mightiest, loftiest; or the lowest, meanest, obscurest,
vilest, and most pitiful. He knows no medium: for enthusiasm is
the soul of poetry; and who so enthusiastic as a poetical young
gentleman? 'Mr. Milkwash,' says a young lady as she unlocks her
album to receive the young gentleman's original impromptu
contribution, 'how very silent you are! I think you must be in
love.' 'Love!' cries the poetical young gentleman, starting from
his seat by the fire and terrifying the cat who scampers off at
full speed, 'Love! that burning, consuming passion; that ardour of
the soul, that fierce glowing of the heart. Love! The withering,
blighting influence of hope misplaced and affection slighted. Love
did you say! Ha! ha! ha!'

With this, the poetical young gentleman laughs a laugh belonging
only to poets and Mr. O. Smith of the Adelphi Theatre, and sits
down, pen in hand, to throw off a page or two of verse in the
biting, semi-atheistical demoniac style, which, like the poetical
young gentleman himself, is full of sound and fury, signifying


There is a certain kind of impostor--a bragging, vaunting, puffing
young gentleman--against whom we are desirous to warn that fairer
part of the creation, to whom we more peculiarly devote these our
labours. And we are particularly induced to lay especial stress
upon this division of our subject, by a little dialogue we held
some short time ago, with an esteemed young lady of our
acquaintance, touching a most gross specimen of this class of men.
We had been urging all the absurdities of his conduct and
conversation, and dwelling upon the impossibilities he constantly
recounted--to which indeed we had not scrupled to prefix a certain
hard little word of one syllable and three letters--when our fair
friend, unable to maintain the contest any longer, reluctantly
cried, 'Well; he certainly has a habit of throwing-off, but then--'
What then? Throw him off yourself, said we. And so she did, but
not at our instance, for other reasons appeared, and it might have
been better if she had done so at first.

The throwing-off young gentleman has so often a father possessed of
vast property in some remote district of Ireland, that we look with
some suspicion upon all young gentlemen who volunteer this
description of themselves. The deceased grandfather of the
throwing-off young gentleman was a man of immense possessions, and
untold wealth; the throwing-off young gentleman remembers, as well
as if it were only yesterday, the deceased baronet's library, with
its long rows of scarce and valuable books in superbly embossed
bindings, arranged in cases, reaching from the lofty ceiling to the
oaken floor; and the fine antique chairs and tables, and the noble
old castle of Ballykillbabaloo, with its splendid prospect of hill
and dale, and wood, and rich wild scenery, and the fine hunting
stables and the spacious court-yards, 'and--and--everything upon
the same magnificent scale,' says the throwing-off young gentleman,
'princely; quite princely. Ah!' And he sighs as if mourning over
the fallen fortunes of his noble house.

The throwing-off young gentleman is a universal genius; at walking,
running, rowing, swimming, and skating, he is unrivalled; at all
games of chance or skill, at hunting, shooting, fishing, riding,
driving, or amateur theatricals, no one can touch him--that is
COULD not, because he gives you carefully to understand, lest there
should be any opportunity of testing his skill, that he is quite
out of practice just now, and has been for some years. If you
mention any beautiful girl of your common acquaintance in his
hearing, the throwing-off young gentleman starts, smiles, and begs
you not to mind him, for it was quite involuntary: people do say
indeed that they were once engaged, but no--although she is a very
fine girl, he was so situated at that time that he couldn't
possibly encourage the--'but it's of no use talking about it!' he
adds, interrupting himself. 'She has got over it now, and I firmly
hope and trust is happy.' With this benevolent aspiration he nods
his head in a mysterious manner, and whistling the first part of
some popular air, thinks perhaps it will be better to change the

There is another great characteristic of the throwing-off young
gentleman, which is, that he 'happens to be acquainted' with a most
extraordinary variety of people in all parts of the world. Thus in
all disputed questions, when the throwing-off young gentleman has
no argument to bring forward, he invariably happens to be
acquainted with some distant person, intimately connected with the
subject, whose testimony decides the point against you, to the
great--may we say it--to the great admiration of three young ladies
out of every four, who consider the throwing-off young gentleman a
very highly-connected young man, and a most charming person.

Sometimes the throwing-off young gentleman happens to look in upon
a little family circle of young ladies who are quietly spending the
evening together, and then indeed is he at the very height and
summit of his glory; for it is to be observed that he by no means
shines to equal advantage in the presence of men as in the society
of over-credulous young ladies, which is his proper element. It is
delightful to hear the number of pretty things the throwing-off
young gentleman gives utterance to, during tea, and still more so
to observe the ease with which, from long practice and study, he
delicately blends one compliment to a lady with two for himself.
'Did you ever see a more lovely blue than this flower, Mr.
Caveton?' asks a young lady who, truth to tell, is rather smitten
with the throwing-off young gentleman. 'Never,' he replies,
bending over the object of admiration, 'never but in your eyes.'
'Oh, Mr. Caveton,' cries the young lady, blushing of course.
'Indeed I speak the truth,' replies the throwing-off young
gentleman, 'I never saw any approach to them. I used to think my
cousin's blue eyes lovely, but they grow dim and colourless beside
yours.' 'Oh! a beautiful cousin, Mr. Caveton!' replies the young
lady, with that perfect artlessness which is the distinguishing
characteristic of all young ladies; 'an affair, of course.' 'No;
indeed, indeed you wrong me,' rejoins the throwing-off young
gentleman with great energy. 'I fervently hope that her attachment
towards me may be nothing but the natural result of our close
intimacy in childhood, and that in change of scene and among new
faces she may soon overcome it. _I_ love her! Think not so meanly
of me, Miss Lowfield, I beseech, as to suppose that title, lands,
riches, and beauty, can influence MY choice. The heart, the heart,
Miss Lowfield.' Here the throwing-off young gentleman sinks his
voice to a still lower whisper; and the young lady duly proclaims
to all the other young ladies when they go up-stairs, to put their
bonnets on, that Mr. Caveton's relations are all immensely rich,
and that he is hopelessly beloved by title, lands, riches, and

We have seen a throwing-off young gentleman who, to our certain
knowledge, was innocent of a note of music, and scarcely able to
recognise a tune by ear, volunteer a Spanish air upon the guitar
when he had previously satisfied himself that there was not such an
instrument within a mile of the house.

We have heard another throwing-off young gentleman, after striking
a note or two upon the piano, and accompanying it correctly (by
dint of laborious practice) with his voice, assure a circle of
wondering listeners that so acute was his ear that he was wholly
unable to sing out of tune, let him try as he would. We have lived
to witness the unmasking of another throwing-off young gentleman,
who went out a visiting in a military cap with a gold band and
tassel, and who, after passing successfully for a captain and being
lauded to the skies for his red whiskers, his bravery, his
soldierly bearing and his pride, turned out to be the dishonest son
of an honest linen-draper in a small country town, and whom, if it
were not for this fortunate exposure, we should not yet despair of
encountering as the fortunate husband of some rich heiress.
Ladies, ladies, the throwing-off young gentlemen are often
swindlers, and always fools. So pray you avoid them.


This young gentleman has several titles. Some young ladies
consider him 'a nice young man,' others 'a fine young man,' others
'quite a lady's man,' others 'a handsome man,' others 'a remarkably
good-looking young man.' With some young ladies he is 'a perfect
angel,' and with others 'quite a love.' He is likewise a charming
creature, a duck, and a dear.

The young ladies' young gentleman has usually a fresh colour and
very white teeth, which latter articles, of course, he displays on
every possible opportunity. He has brown or black hair, and
whiskers of the same, if possible; but a slight tinge of red, or
the hue which is vulgarly known as SANDY, is not considered an
objection. If his head and face be large, his nose prominent, and
his figure square, he is an uncommonly fine young man, and
worshipped accordingly. Should his whiskers meet beneath his chin,
so much the better, though this is not absolutely insisted on; but
he must wear an under-waistcoat, and smile constantly.

There was a great party got up by some party-loving friends of ours
last summer, to go and dine in Epping Forest. As we hold that such
wild expeditions should never be indulged in, save by people of the
smallest means, who have no dinner at home, we should indubitably
have excused ourself from attending, if we had not recollected that
the projectors of the excursion were always accompanied on such
occasions by a choice sample of the young ladies' young gentleman,
whom we were very anxious to have an opportunity of meeting. This
determined us, and we went.

We were to make for Chigwell in four glass coaches, each with a
trifling company of six or eight inside, and a little boy belonging
to the projectors on the box--and to start from the residence of
the projectors, Woburn-place, Russell-square, at half-past ten
precisely. We arrived at the place of rendezvous at the appointed
time, and found the glass coaches and the little boys quite ready,
and divers young ladies and young gentlemen looking anxiously over
the breakfast-parlour blinds, who appeared by no means so much
gratified by our approach as we might have expected, but evidently
wished we had been somebody else. Observing that our arrival in
lieu of the unknown occasioned some disappointment, we ventured to
inquire who was yet to come, when we found from the hasty reply of
a dozen voices, that it was no other than the young ladies' young

'I cannot imagine,' said the mamma, 'what has become of Mr. Balim--
always so punctual, always so pleasant and agreeable. I am sure I
can-NOT think.' As these last words were uttered in that measured,
emphatic manner which painfully announces that the speaker has not
quite made up his or her mind what to say, but is determined to
talk on nevertheless, the eldest daughter took up the subject, and
hoped no accident had happened to Mr. Balim, upon which there was a
general chorus of 'Dear Mr. Balim!' and one young lady, more
adventurous than the rest, proposed that an express should be
straightway sent to dear Mr. Balim's lodgings. This, however, the
papa resolutely opposed, observing, in what a short young lady
behind us termed 'quite a bearish way,' that if Mr. Balim didn't
choose to come, he might stop at home. At this all the daughters
raised a murmur of 'Oh pa!' except one sprightly little girl of
eight or ten years old, who, taking advantage of a pause in the
discourse, remarked, that perhaps Mr. Balim might have been married
that morning--for which impertinent suggestion she was summarily
ejected from the room by her eldest sister.

We were all in a state of great mortification and uneasiness, when
one of the little boys, running into the room as airily as little
boys usually run who have an unlimited allowance of animal food in
the holidays, and keep their hands constantly forced down to the
bottoms of very deep trouser-pockets when they take exercise,
joyfully announced that Mr. Balim was at that moment coming up the
street in a hackney-cab; and the intelligence was confirmed beyond
all doubt a minute afterwards by the entry of Mr. Balim himself,
who was received with repeated cries of 'Where have you been, you
naughty creature?' whereunto the naughty creature replied, that he
had been in bed, in consequence of a late party the night before,
and had only just risen. The acknowledgment awakened a variety of
agonizing fears that he had taken no breakfast; which appearing
after a slight cross-examination to be the real state of the case,
breakfast for one was immediately ordered, notwithstanding Mr.
Balim's repeated protestations that he couldn't think of it. He
did think of it though, and thought better of it too, for he made a
remarkably good meal when it came, and was assiduously served by a
select knot of young ladies. It was quite delightful to see how he
ate and drank, while one pair of fair hands poured out his coffee,
and another put in the sugar, and another the milk; the rest of the
company ever and anon casting angry glances at their watches, and
the glass coaches,--and the little boys looking on in an agony of
apprehension lest it should begin to rain before we set out; it
might have rained all day, after we were once too far to turn back
again, and welcome, for aught they cared.

However, the cavalcade moved at length, every coachman being
accommodated with a hamper between his legs something larger than a
wheelbarrow; and the company being packed as closely as they
possibly could in the carriages, 'according,' as one married lady
observed, 'to the immemorial custom, which was half the diversion
of gipsy parties.' Thinking it very likely it might be (we have
never been able to discover the other half), we submitted to be
stowed away with a cheerful aspect, and were fortunate enough to
occupy one corner of a coach in which were one old lady, four young
ladies, and the renowned Mr. Balim the young ladies' young

We were no sooner fairly off, than the young ladies' young
gentleman hummed a fragment of an air, which induced a young lady
to inquire whether he had danced to that the night before. 'By
Heaven, then, I did,' replied the young gentleman, 'and with a
lovely heiress; a superb creature, with twenty thousand pounds.'
'You seem rather struck,' observed another young lady. ''Gad she
was a sweet creature,' returned the young gentleman, arranging his
hair. 'Of course SHE was struck too?' inquired the first young
lady. 'How can you ask, love?' interposed the second; 'could she
fail to be?' 'Well, honestly I think she was,' observed the young
gentleman. At this point of the dialogue, the young lady who had
spoken first, and who sat on the young gentleman's right, struck
him a severe blow on the arm with a rosebud, and said he was a vain
man--whereupon the young gentleman insisted on having the rosebud,
and the young lady appealing for help to the other young ladies, a
charming struggle ensued, terminating in the victory of the young
gentleman, and the capture of the rosebud. This little skirmish
over, the married lady, who was the mother of the rosebud, smiled
sweetly upon the young gentleman, and accused him of being a flirt;
the young gentleman pleading not guilty, a most interesting
discussion took place upon the important point whether the young
gentleman was a flirt or not, which being an agreeable conversation
of a light kind, lasted a considerable time. At length, a short
silence occurring, the young ladies on either side of the young
gentleman fell suddenly fast asleep; and the young gentleman,
winking upon us to preserve silence, won a pair of gloves from
each, thereby causing them to wake with equal suddenness and to
scream very loud. The lively conversation to which this pleasantry
gave rise, lasted for the remainder of the ride, and would have
eked out a much longer one.

We dined rather more comfortably than people usually do under such
circumstances, nothing having been left behind but the cork-screw
and the bread. The married gentlemen were unusually thirsty, which
they attributed to the heat of the weather; the little boys ate to
inconvenience; mammas were very jovial, and their daughters very
fascinating; and the attendants being well-behaved men, got
exceedingly drunk at a respectful distance.

We had our eye on Mr. Balim at dinner-time, and perceived that he
flourished wonderfully, being still surrounded by a little group of
young ladies, who listened to him as an oracle, while he ate from
their plates and drank from their glasses in a manner truly
captivating from its excessive playfulness. His conversation, too,
was exceedingly brilliant. In fact, one elderly lady assured us,
that in the course of a little lively badinage on the subject of
ladies' dresses, he had evinced as much knowledge as if he had been
born and bred a milliner.

As such of the fat people who did not happen to fall asleep after
dinner entered upon a most vigorous game at ball, we slipped away
alone into a thicker part of the wood, hoping to fall in with Mr.
Balim, the greater part of the young people having dropped off in
twos and threes and the young ladies' young gentleman among them.
Nor were we disappointed, for we had not walked far, when, peeping
through the trees, we discovered him before us, and truly it was a
pleasant thing to contemplate his greatness.

The young ladies' young gentleman was seated upon the ground, at
the feet of a few young ladies who were reclining on a bank; he was
so profusely decked with scarfs, ribands, flowers, and other pretty
spoils, that he looked like a lamb--or perhaps a calf would be a
better simile--adorned for the sacrifice. One young lady supported
a parasol over his interesting head, another held his hat, and a
third his neck-cloth, which in romantic fashion he had thrown off;
the young gentleman himself, with his hand upon his breast, and his
face moulded into an expression of the most honeyed sweetness, was
warbling forth some choice specimens of vocal music in praise of
female loveliness, in a style so exquisitely perfect, that we burst
into an involuntary shout of laughter, and made a hasty retreat.

What charming fellows these young ladies' young gentlemen are!
Ducks, dears, loves, angels, are all terms inadequate to express
their merit. They are such amazingly, uncommonly, wonderfully,
nice men.


As we have placed before the young ladies so many specimens of
young gentlemen, and have also in the dedication of this volume
given them to understand how much we reverence and admire their
numerous virtues and perfections; as we have given them such strong
reasons to treat us with confidence, and to banish, in our case,
all that reserve and distrust of the male sex which, as a point of
general behaviour, they cannot do better than preserve and
maintain--we say, as we have done all this, we feel that now, when
we have arrived at the close of our task, they may naturally press
upon us the inquiry, what particular description of young gentlemen
we can conscientiously recommend.

Here we are at a loss. We look over our list, and can neither
recommend the bashful young gentleman, nor the out-and-out young
gentleman, nor the very friendly young gentleman, nor the military
young gentleman, nor the political young gentleman, nor the
domestic young gentleman, nor the censorious young gentleman, nor
the funny young gentleman, nor the theatrical young gentleman, nor
the poetical young gentleman, nor the throwing-off young gentleman,
nor the young ladies' young gentleman.

As there are some good points about many of them, which still are
not sufficiently numerous to render any one among them eligible, as
a whole, our respectful advice to the young ladies is, to seek for
a young gentleman who unites in himself the best qualities of all,
and the worst weaknesses of none, and to lead him forthwith to the
hymeneal altar, whether he will or no. And to the young lady who
secures him, we beg to tender one short fragment of matrimonial
advice, selected from many sound passages of a similar tendency, to
be found in a letter written by Dean Swift to a young lady on her

'The grand affair of your life will be, to gain and preserve the
esteem of your husband. Neither good-nature nor virtue will suffer
him to ESTEEM you against his judgment; and although he is not
capable of using you ill, yet you will in time grow a thing
indifferent and perhaps contemptible; unless you can supply the
loss of youth and beauty with more durable qualities. You have but
a very few years to be young and handsome in the eyes of the world;
and as few months to be so in the eyes of a husband who is not a
fool; for I hope you do not still dream of charms and raptures,
which marriage ever did, and ever will, put a sudden end to.'

From the anxiety we express for the proper behaviour of the
fortunate lady after marriage, it may possibly be inferred that the
young gentleman to whom we have so delicately alluded, is no other
than ourself. Without in any way committing ourself upon this
point, we have merely to observe, that we are ready to receive
sealed offers containing a full specification of age, temper,
appearance, and condition; but we beg it to be distinctly
understood that we do not pledge ourself to accept the highest

These offers may be forwarded to the Publishers, Messrs. Chapman
and Hall, London; to whom all pieces of plate and other
testimonials of approbation from the young ladies generally, are
respectfully requested to be addressed.







THAT Her Most Gracious Majesty, Victoria, by the Grace of God of
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of
the Faith, did, on the 23rd day of November last past, declare and
pronounce to Her Most Honourable Privy Council, Her Majesty's Most
Gracious intention of entering into the bonds of wedlock.

THAT Her Most Gracious Majesty, in so making known Her Most
Gracious intention to Her Most Honourable Privy Council as
aforesaid, did use and employ the words--'It is my intention to
ally myself in marriage with Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg and

THAT the present is Bissextile, or Leap Year, in which it is held
and considered lawful for any lady to offer and submit proposals of
marriage to any gentleman, and to enforce and insist upon
acceptance of the same, under pain of a certain fine or penalty; to
wit, one silk or satin dress of the first quality, to be chosen by
the lady and paid (or owed) for, by the gentleman.

THAT these and other the horrors and dangers with which the said
Bissextile, or Leap Year, threatens the gentlemen of England on
every occasion of its periodical return, have been greatly
aggravated and augmented by the terms of Her Majesty's said Most
Gracious communication, which have filled the heads of divers young
ladies in this Realm with certain new ideas destructive to the
peace of mankind, that never entered their imagination before.

THAT a case has occurred in Camberwell, in which a young lady
informed her Papa that 'she intended to ally herself in marriage'
with Mr. Smith of Stepney; and that another, and a very distressing
case, has occurred at Tottenham, in which a young lady not only
stated her intention of allying herself in marriage with her cousin
John, but, taking violent possession of her said cousin, actually
married him.

THAT similar outrages are of constant occurrence, not only in the
capital and its neighbourhood, but throughout the kingdom, and that
unless the excited female populace be speedily checked and
restrained in their lawless proceedings, most deplorable results
must ensue therefrom; among which may be anticipated a most
alarming increase in the population of the country, with which no
efforts of the agricultural or manufacturing interest can possibly
keep pace.

THAT there is strong reason to suspect the existence of a most
extensive plot, conspiracy, or design, secretly contrived by vast
numbers of single ladies in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland, and now extending its ramifications in every quarter of
the land; the object and intent of which plainly appears to be the
holding and solemnising of an enormous and unprecedented number of
marriages, on the day on which the nuptials of Her said Most
Gracious Majesty are performed.

THAT such plot, conspiracy, or design, strongly savours of Popery,
as tending to the discomfiture of the Clergy of the Established
Church, by entailing upon them great mental and physical
exhaustion; and that such Popish plots are fomented and encouraged
by Her Majesty's Ministers, which clearly appears--not only from
Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
traitorously getting married while holding office under the Crown;
but from Mr. O'Connell having been heard to declare and avow that,
if he had a daughter to marry, she should be married on the same
day as Her said Most Gracious Majesty.

THAT such arch plots, conspiracies, and designs, besides being
fraught with danger to the Established Church, and (consequently)
to the State, cannot fail to bring ruin and bankruptcy upon a large
class of Her Majesty's subjects; as a great and sudden increase in
the number of married men occasioning the comparative desertion
(for a time) of Taverns, Hotels, Billiard-rooms, and Gaming-Houses,
will deprive the Proprietors of their accustomed profits and
returns. And in further proof of the depth and baseness of such
designs, it may be here observed, that all proprietors of Taverns,
Hotels, Billiard-rooms, and Gaming-Houses, are (especially the
last) solemnly devoted to the Protestant religion.

FOR all these reasons, and many others of no less gravity and
import, an urgent appeal is made to the gentlemen of England (being
bachelors or widowers) to take immediate steps for convening a
Public meeting; To consider of the best and surest means of
averting the dangers with which they are threatened by the
recurrence of Bissextile, or Leap Year, and the additional
sensation created among single ladies by the terms of Her Majesty's
Most Gracious Declaration; To take measures, without delay, for
resisting the said single Ladies, and counteracting their evil
designs; And to pray Her Majesty to dismiss her present Ministers,
and to summon to her Councils those distinguished Gentlemen in
various Honourable Professions who, by insulting on all occasions
the only Lady in England who can be insulted with safety, have
given a sufficient guarantee to Her Majesty's Loving Subjects that
they, at least, are qualified to make war with women, and are
already expert in the use of those weapons which are common to the
lowest and most abandoned of the sex.


There is to be a wedding this morning at the corner house in the
terrace. The pastry-cook's people have been there half-a-dozen
times already; all day yesterday there was a great stir and bustle,
and they were up this morning as soon as it was light. Miss Emma
Fielding is going to be married to young Mr. Harvey.

Heaven alone can tell in what bright colours this marriage is
painted upon the mind of the little housemaid at number six, who
has hardly slept a wink all night with thinking of it, and now
stands on the unswept door-steps leaning upon her broom, and
looking wistfully towards the enchanted house. Nothing short of
omniscience can divine what visions of the baker, or the green-
grocer, or the smart and most insinuating butterman, are flitting
across her mind--what thoughts of how she would dress on such an
occasion, if she were a lady--of how she would dress, if she were
only a bride--of how cook would dress, being bridesmaid, conjointly
with her sister 'in place' at Fulham, and how the clergyman,
deeming them so many ladies, would be quite humbled and respectful.
What day-dreams of hope and happiness--of life being one perpetual
holiday, with no master and no mistress to grant or withhold it--of
every Sunday being a Sunday out--of pure freedom as to curls and
ringlets, and no obligation to hide fine heads of hair in caps--
what pictures of happiness, vast and immense to her, but utterly
ridiculous to us, bewilder the brain of the little housemaid at
number six, all called into existence by the wedding at the corner!

We smile at such things, and so we should, though perhaps for a
better reason than commonly presents itself. It should be pleasant
to us to know that there are notions of happiness so moderate and
limited, since upon those who entertain them, happiness and
lightness of heart are very easily bestowed.

But the little housemaid is awakened from her reverie, for forth
from the door of the magical corner house there runs towards her,
all fluttering in smart new dress and streaming ribands, her friend
Jane Adams, who comes all out of breath to redeem a solemn promise
of taking her in, under cover of the confusion, to see the
breakfast table spread forth in state, and--sight of sights!--her
young mistress ready dressed for church.

And there, in good truth, when they have stolen up-stairs on tip-
toe and edged themselves in at the chamber-door--there is Miss Emma
'looking like the sweetest picter,' in a white chip bonnet and
orange flowers, and all other elegancies becoming a bride, (with
the make, shape, and quality of every article of which the girl is
perfectly familiar in one moment, and never forgets to her dying
day)--and there is Miss Emma's mamma in tears, and Miss Emma's papa
comforting her, and saying how that of course she has been long
looking forward to this, and how happy she ought to be--and there
too is Miss Emma's sister with her arms round her neck, and the
other bridesmaid all smiles and tears, quieting the children, who
would cry more but that they are so finely dressed, and yet sob for
fear sister Emma should be taken away--and it is all so affecting,
that the two servant-girls cry more than anybody; and Jane Adams,
sitting down upon the stairs, when they have crept away, declares
that her legs tremble so that she don't know what to do, and that
she will say for Miss Emma, that she never had a hasty word from
her, and that she does hope and pray she may be happy.

But Jane soon comes round again, and then surely there never was
anything like the breakfast table, glittering with plate and china,
and set out with flowers and sweets, and long-necked bottles, in
the most sumptuous and dazzling manner. In the centre, too, is the
mighty charm, the cake, glistening with frosted sugar, and
garnished beautifully. They agree that there ought to be a little
Cupid under one of the barley-sugar temples, or at least two hearts
and an arrow; but, with this exception, there is nothing to wish
for, and a table could not be handsomer. As they arrive at this
conclusion, who should come in but Mr. John! to whom Jane says that
its only Anne from number six; and John says HE knows, for he's
often winked his eye down the area, which causes Anne to blush and
look confused. She is going away, indeed; when Mr. John will have
it that she must drink a glass of wine, and he says never mind it's
being early in the morning, it won't hurt her: so they shut the
door and pour out the wine; and Anne drinking lane's health, and
adding, 'and here's wishing you yours, Mr. John,' drinks it in a
great many sips,--Mr. John all the time making jokes appropriate to
the occasion. At last Mr. John, who has waxed bolder by degrees,
pleads the usage at weddings, and claims the privilege of a kiss,
which he obtains after a great scuffle; and footsteps being now
heard on the stairs, they disperse suddenly.

By this time a carriage has driven up to convey the bride to
church, and Anne of number six prolonging the process of 'cleaning
her door,' has the satisfaction of beholding the bride and
bridesmaids, and the papa and mamma, hurry into the same and drive
rapidly off. Nor is this all, for soon other carriages begin to
arrive with a posse of company all beautifully dressed, at whom she
could stand and gaze for ever; but having something else to do, is
compelled to take one last long look and shut the street-door.

And now the company have gone down to breakfast, and tears have
given place to smiles, for all the corks are out of the long-necked
bottles, and their contents are disappearing rapidly. Miss Emma's
papa is at the top of the table; Miss Emma's mamma at the bottom;
and beside the latter are Miss Emma herself and her husband,--
admitted on all hands to be the handsomest and most interesting
young couple ever known. All down both sides of the table, too,
are various young ladies, beautiful to see, and various young
gentlemen who seem to think so; and there, in a post of honour, is
an unmarried aunt of Miss Emma's, reported to possess unheard-of
riches, and to have expressed vast testamentary intentions
respecting her favourite niece and new nephew. This lady has been
very liberal and generous already, as the jewels worn by the bride
abundantly testify, but that is nothing to what she means to do, or
even to what she has done, for she put herself in close
communication with the dressmaker three months ago, and prepared a
wardrobe (with some articles worked by her own hands) fit for a
Princess. People may call her an old maid, and so she may be, but
she is neither cross nor ugly for all that; on the contrary, she is
very cheerful and pleasant-looking, and very kind and tender-
hearted: which is no matter of surprise except to those who yield
to popular prejudices without thinking why, and will never grow
wiser and never know better.

Of all the company though, none are more pleasant to behold or
better pleased with themselves than two young children, who, in
honour of the day, have seats among the guests. Of these, one is a
little fellow of six or eight years old, brother to the bride,--and
the other a girl of the same age, or something younger, whom he
calls 'his wife.' The real bride and bridegroom are not more
devoted than they: he all love and attention, and she all blushes
and fondness, toying with a little bouquet which he gave her this
morning, and placing the scattered rose-leaves in her bosom with
nature's own coquettishness. They have dreamt of each other in
their quiet dreams, these children, and their little hearts have
been nearly broken when the absent one has been dispraised in jest.
When will there come in after-life a passion so earnest, generous,
and true as theirs; what, even in its gentlest realities, can have
the grace and charm that hover round such fairy lovers!

By this time the merriment and happiness of the feast have gained
their height; certain ominous looks begin to be exchanged between
the bridesmaids, and somehow it gets whispered about that the
carriage which is to take the young couple into the country has
arrived. Such members of the party as are most disposed to prolong
its enjoyments, affect to consider this a false alarm, but it turns
out too true, being speedily confirmed, first by the retirement of
the bride and a select file of intimates who are to prepare her for
the journey, and secondly by the withdrawal of the ladies
generally. To this there ensues a particularly awkward pause, in
which everybody essays to be facetious, and nobody succeeds; at
length the bridegroom makes a mysterious disappearance in obedience
to some equally mysterious signal; and the table is deserted.

Now, for at least six weeks last past it has been solemnly devised
and settled that the young couple should go away in secret; but
they no sooner appear without the door than the drawing-room
windows are blocked up with ladies waving their handkerchiefs and
kissing their hands, and the dining-room panes with gentlemen's
faces beaming farewell in every queer variety of its expression.
The hall and steps are crowded with servants in white favours,
mixed up with particular friends and relations who have darted out
to say good-bye; and foremost in the group are the tiny lovers arm
in arm, thinking, with fluttering hearts, what happiness it would
be to dash away together in that gallant coach, and never part

The bride has barely time for one hurried glance at her old home,
when the steps rattle, the door slams, the horses clatter on the
pavement, and they have left it far away.

A knot of women servants still remain clustered in the hall,
whispering among themselves, and there of course is Anne from
number six, who has made another escape on some plea or other, and
been an admiring witness of the departure. There are two points on
which Anne expatiates over and over again, without the smallest
appearance of fatigue or intending to leave off; one is, that she
'never see in all her life such a--oh such a angel of a gentleman
as Mr. Harvey'--and the other, that she 'can't tell how it is, but
it don't seem a bit like a work-a-day, or a Sunday neither--it's
all so unsettled and unregular.'


The formal couple are the most prim, cold, immovable, and
unsatisfactory people on the face of the earth. Their faces,
voices, dress, house, furniture, walk, and manner, are all the
essence of formality, unrelieved by one redeeming touch of
frankness, heartiness, or nature.

Everything with the formal couple resolves itself into a matter of
form. They don't call upon you on your account, but their own; not
to see how you are, but to show how they are: it is not a ceremony
to do honour to you, but to themselves,--not due to your position,
but to theirs. If one of a friend's children die, the formal
couple are as sure and punctual in sending to the house as the
undertaker; if a friend's family be increased, the monthly nurse is
not more attentive than they. The formal couple, in fact, joyfully
seize all occasions of testifying their good-breeding and precise
observance of the little usages of society; and for you, who are
the means to this end, they care as much as a man does for the
tailor who has enabled him to cut a figure, or a woman for the
milliner who has assisted her to a conquest.

Having an extensive connexion among that kind of people who make
acquaintances and eschew friends, the formal gentleman attends from
time to time a great many funerals, to which he is formally
invited, and to which he formally goes, as returning a call for the
last time. Here his deportment is of the most faultless
description; he knows the exact pitch of voice it is proper to
assume, the sombre look he ought to wear, the melancholy tread
which should be his gait for the day. He is perfectly acquainted
with all the dreary courtesies to be observed in a mourning-coach;
knows when to sigh, and when to hide his nose in the white
handkerchief; and looks into the grave and shakes his head when the
ceremony is concluded, with the sad formality of a mute.

'What kind of funeral was it?' says the formal lady, when he
returns home. 'Oh!' replies the formal gentleman, 'there never was
such a gross and disgusting impropriety; there were no feathers.'
'No feathers!' cries the lady, as if on wings of black feathers
dead people fly to Heaven, and, lacking them, they must of
necessity go elsewhere. Her husband shakes his head; and further
adds, that they had seed-cake instead of plum-cake, and that it was
all white wine. 'All white wine!' exclaims his wife. 'Nothing but
sherry and madeira,' says the husband. 'What! no port?' 'Not a
drop.' No port, no plums, and no feathers! 'You will recollect,
my dear,' says the formal lady, in a voice of stately reproof,
'that when we first met this poor man who is now dead and gone, and
he took that very strange course of addressing me at dinner without
being previously introduced, I ventured to express my opinion that
the family were quite ignorant of etiquette, and very imperfectly
acquainted with the decencies of life. You have now had a good
opportunity of judging for yourself, and all I have to say is, that
I trust you will never go to a funeral THERE again.' 'My dear,'
replies the formal gentleman, 'I never will.' So the informal
deceased is cut in his grave; and the formal couple, when they tell
the story of the funeral, shake their heads, and wonder what some
people's feelings ARE made of, and what their notions of propriety
CAN be!

If the formal couple have a family (which they sometimes have),
they are not children, but little, pale, sour, sharp-nosed men and
women; and so exquisitely brought up, that they might be very old
dwarfs for anything that appeareth to the contrary. Indeed, they
are so acquainted with forms and conventionalities, and conduct
themselves with such strict decorum, that to see the little girl
break a looking-glass in some wild outbreak, or the little boy kick
his parents, would be to any visitor an unspeakable relief and

The formal couple are always sticklers for what is rigidly proper,
and have a great readiness in detecting hidden impropriety of
speech or thought, which by less scrupulous people would be wholly
unsuspected. Thus, if they pay a visit to the theatre, they sit
all night in a perfect agony lest anything improper or immoral
should proceed from the stage; and if anything should happen to be
said which admits of a double construction, they never fail to take
it up directly, and to express by their looks the great outrage
which their feelings have sustained. Perhaps this is their chief
reason for absenting themselves almost entirely from places of
public amusement. They go sometimes to the Exhibition of the Royal
Academy;--but that is often more shocking than the stage itself,
and the formal lady thinks that it really is high time Mr. Etty was
prosecuted and made a public example of.

We made one at a christening party not long since, where there were
amongst the guests a formal couple, who suffered the acutest
torture from certain jokes, incidental to such an occasion, cut--
and very likely dried also--by one of the godfathers; a red-faced
elderly gentleman, who, being highly popular with the rest of the
company, had it all his own way, and was in great spirits. It was
at supper-time that this gentleman came out in full force. We--
being of a grave and quiet demeanour--had been chosen to escort the
formal lady down-stairs, and, sitting beside her, had a favourable
opportunity of observing her emotions.

We have a shrewd suspicion that, in the very beginning, and in the
first blush--literally the first blush--of the matter, the formal
lady had not felt quite certain whether the being present at such a
ceremony, and encouraging, as it were, the public exhibition of a
baby, was not an act involving some degree of indelicacy and
impropriety; but certain we are that when that baby's health was
drunk, and allusions were made, by a grey-headed gentleman
proposing it, to the time when he had dandled in his arms the young
Christian's mother,--certain we are that then the formal lady took
the alarm, and recoiled from the old gentleman as from a hoary
profligate. Still she bore it; she fanned herself with an
indignant air, but still she bore it. A comic song was sung,
involving a confession from some imaginary gentleman that he had
kissed a female, and yet the formal lady bore it. But when at
last, the health of the godfather before-mentioned being drunk, the
godfather rose to return thanks, and in the course of his
observations darkly hinted at babies yet unborn, and even
contemplated the possibility of the subject of that festival having
brothers and sisters, the formal lady could endure no more, but,
bowing slightly round, and sweeping haughtily past the offender,
left the room in tears, under the protection of the formal


There cannot be a better practical illustration of the wise saw and
ancient instance, that there may be too much of a good thing, than
is presented by a loving couple. Undoubtedly it is meet and proper
that two persons joined together in holy matrimony should be
loving, and unquestionably it is pleasant to know and see that they
are so; but there is a time for all things, and the couple who
happen to be always in a loving state before company, are well-nigh

And in taking up this position we would have it distinctly
understood that we do not seek alone the sympathy of bachelors, in
whose objection to loving couples we recognise interested motives
and personal considerations. We grant that to that unfortunate
class of society there may be something very irritating,
tantalising, and provoking, in being compelled to witness those
gentle endearments and chaste interchanges which to loving couples
are quite the ordinary business of life. But while we recognise
the natural character of the prejudice to which these unhappy men
are subject, we can neither receive their biassed evidence, nor
address ourself to their inflamed and angered minds. Dispassionate
experience is our only guide; and in these moral essays we seek no
less to reform hymeneal offenders than to hold out a timely warning
to all rising couples, and even to those who have not yet set forth
upon their pilgrimage towards the matrimonial market.

Let all couples, present or to come, therefore profit by the
example of Mr. and Mrs. Leaver, themselves a loving couple in the
first degree.

Mr. and Mrs. Leaver are pronounced by Mrs. Starling, a widow lady
who lost her husband when she was young, and lost herself about the
same-time--for by her own count she has never since grown five
years older--to be a perfect model of wedded felicity. 'You would
suppose,' says the romantic lady, 'that they were lovers only just
now engaged. Never was such happiness! They are so tender, so
affectionate, so attached to each other, so enamoured, that
positively nothing can be more charming!'

'Augusta, my soul,' says Mr. Leaver. 'Augustus, my life,' replies
Mrs. Leaver. 'Sing some little ballad, darling,' quoth Mr. Leaver.
'I couldn't, indeed, dearest,' returns Mrs. Leaver. 'Do, my dove,'
says Mr. Leaver. 'I couldn't possibly, my love,' replies Mrs.
Leaver; 'and it's very naughty of you to ask me.' 'Naughty,
darling!' cries Mr. Leaver. 'Yes, very naughty, and very cruel,'
returns Mrs. Leaver, 'for you know I have a sore throat, and that
to sing would give me great pain. You're a monster, and I hate
you. Go away!' Mrs. Leaver has said 'go away,' because Mr. Leaver
has tapped her under the chin: Mr. Leaver not doing as he is bid,
but on the contrary, sitting down beside her, Mrs. Leaver slaps Mr.
Leaver; and Mr. Leaver in return slaps Mrs. Leaver, and it being
now time for all persons present to look the other way, they look
the other way, and hear a still small sound as of kissing, at which
Mrs. Starling is thoroughly enraptured, and whispers her neighbour
that if all married couples were like that, what a heaven this
earth would be!

The loving couple are at home when this occurs, and maybe only
three or four friends are present, but, unaccustomed to reserve
upon this interesting point, they are pretty much the same abroad.
Indeed upon some occasions, such as a pic-nic or a water-party,
their lovingness is even more developed, as we had an opportunity
last summer of observing in person.

There was a great water-party made up to go to Twickenham and dine,
and afterwards dance in an empty villa by the river-side, hired
expressly for the purpose. Mr. and Mrs. Leaver were of the
company; and it was our fortune to have a seat in the same boat,
which was an eight-oared galley, manned by amateurs, with a blue
striped awning of the same pattern as their Guernsey shirts, and a
dingy red flag of the same shade as the whiskers of the stroke oar.
A coxswain being appointed, and all other matters adjusted, the
eight gentlemen threw themselves into strong paroxysms, and pulled
up with the tide, stimulated by the compassionate remarks of the
ladies, who one and all exclaimed, that it seemed an immense
exertion--as indeed it did. At first we raced the other boat,
which came alongside in gallant style; but this being found an
unpleasant amusement, as giving rise to a great quantity of
splashing, and rendering the cold pies and other viands very moist,
it was unanimously voted down, and we were suffered to shoot a-
head, while the second boat followed ingloriously in our wake.

It was at this time that we first recognised Mr. Leaver. There
were two firemen-watermen in the boat, lying by until somebody was
exhausted; and one of them, who had taken upon himself the
direction of affairs, was heard to cry in a gruff voice, 'Pull
away, number two--give it her, number two--take a longer reach,
number two--now, number two, sir, think you're winning a boat.'
The greater part of the company had no doubt begun to wonder which
of the striped Guernseys it might be that stood in need of such
encouragement, when a stifled shriek from Mrs. Leaver confirmed the
doubtful and informed the ignorant; and Mr. Leaver, still further
disguised in a straw hat and no neckcloth, was observed to be in a
fearful perspiration, and failing visibly. Nor was the general
consternation diminished at this instant by the same gentleman (in
the performance of an accidental aquatic feat, termed 'catching a
crab') plunging suddenly backward, and displaying nothing of
himself to the company, but two violently struggling legs. Mrs.
Leaver shrieked again several times, and cried piteously--'Is he
dead? Tell me the worst. Is he dead?'

Now, a moment's reflection might have convinced the loving wife,
that unless her husband were endowed with some most surprising
powers of muscular action, he never could be dead while he kicked
so hard; but still Mrs. Leaver cried, 'Is he dead? is he dead?' and
still everybody else cried--'No, no, no,' until such time as Mr.
Leaver was replaced in a sitting posture, and his oar (which had
been going through all kinds of wrong-headed performances on its
own account) was once more put in his hand, by the exertions of the
two firemen-watermen. Mr. Leaver then exclaimed, 'Augustus, my
child, come to me;' and Mr. Leaver said, 'Augusta, my love, compose
yourself, I am not injured.' But Mrs. Leaver cried again more
piteously than before, 'Augustus, my child, come to me;' and now
the company generally, who seemed to be apprehensive that if Mr.
Leaver remained where he was, he might contribute more than his
proper share towards the drowning of the party, disinterestedly
took part with Mrs. Leaver, and said he really ought to go, and
that he was not strong enough for such violent exercise, and ought
never to have undertaken it. Reluctantly, Mr. Leaver went, and
laid himself down at Mrs. Leaver's feet, and Mrs. Leaver stooping
over him, said, 'Oh Augustus, how could you terrify me so?' and Mr.
Leaver said, 'Augusta, my sweet, I never meant to terrify you;' and
Mrs. Leaver said, 'You are faint, my dear;' and Mr. Leaver said, 'I
am rather so, my love;' and they were very loving indeed under Mrs.
Leaver's veil, until at length Mr. Leaver came forth again, and
pleasantly asked if he had not heard something said about bottled
stout and sandwiches.

Mrs. Starling, who was one of the party, was perfectly delighted
with this scene, and frequently murmured half-aside, 'What a loving
couple you are!' or 'How delightful it is to see man and wife so
happy together!' To us she was quite poetical, (for we are a kind
of cousins,) observing that hearts beating in unison like that made
life a paradise of sweets; and that when kindred creatures were
drawn together by sympathies so fine and delicate, what more than
mortal happiness did not our souls partake! To all this we
answered 'Certainly,' or 'Very true,' or merely sighed, as the case
might be. At every new act of the loving couple, the widow's
admiration broke out afresh; and when Mrs. Leaver would not permit
Mr. Leaver to keep his hat off, lest the sun should strike to his
head, and give him a brain fever, Mrs. Starling actually shed
tears, and said it reminded her of Adam and Eve.

The loving couple were thus loving all the way to Twickenham, but
when we arrived there (by which time the amateur crew looked very
thirsty and vicious) they were more playful than ever, for Mrs.
Leaver threw stones at Mr. Leaver, and Mr. Leaver ran after Mrs.
Leaver on the grass, in a most innocent and enchanting manner. At
dinner, too, Mr. Leaver WOULD steal Mrs. Leaver's tongue, and Mrs.
Leaver WOULD retaliate upon Mr. Leaver's fowl; and when Mrs. Leaver
was going to take some lobster salad, Mr. Leaver wouldn't let her
have any, saying that it made her ill, and she was always sorry for
it afterwards, which afforded Mrs. Leaver an opportunity of
pretending to be cross, and showing many other prettinesses. But
this was merely the smiling surface of their loves, not the mighty
depths of the stream, down to which the company, to say the truth,
dived rather unexpectedly, from the following accident. It chanced
that Mr. Leaver took upon himself to propose the bachelors who had
first originated the notion of that entertainment, in doing which,
he affected to regret that he was no longer of their body himself,
and pretended grievously to lament his fallen state. This Mrs.
Leaver's feelings could not brook, even in jest, and consequently,
exclaiming aloud, 'He loves me not, he loves me not!' she fell in a
very pitiable state into the arms of Mrs. Starling, and, directly
becoming insensible, was conveyed by that lady and her husband into
another room. Presently Mr. Leaver came running back to know if
there was a medical gentleman in company, and as there was, (in
what company is there not?) both Mr. Leaver and the medical
gentleman hurried away together.

The medical gentleman was the first who returned, and among his
intimate friends he was observed to laugh and wink, and look as
unmedical as might be; but when Mr. Leaver came back he was very
solemn, and in answer to all inquiries, shook his head, and
remarked that Augusta was far too sensitive to be trifled with--an
opinion which the widow subsequently confirmed. Finding that she
was in no imminent peril, however, the rest of the party betook
themselves to dancing on the green, and very merry and happy they
were, and a vast quantity of flirtation there was; the last
circumstance being no doubt attributable, partly to the fineness of
the weather, and partly to the locality, which is well known to be
favourable to all harmless recreations.

In the bustle of the scene, Mr. and Mrs. Leaver stole down to the
boat, and disposed themselves under the awning, Mrs. Leaver
reclining her head upon Mr. Leaver's shoulder, and Mr. Leaver
grasping her hand with great fervour, and looking in her face from
time to time with a melancholy and sympathetic aspect. The widow
sat apart, feigning to be occupied with a book, but stealthily
observing them from behind her fan; and the two firemen-watermen,
smoking their pipes on the bank hard by, nudged each other, and
grinned in enjoyment of the joke. Very few of the party missed the
loving couple; and the few who did, heartily congratulated each
other on their disappearance.


One would suppose that two people who are to pass their whole lives
together, and must necessarily be very often alone with each other,
could find little pleasure in mutual contradiction; and yet what is
more common than a contradictory couple?

The contradictory couple agree in nothing but contradiction. They
return home from Mrs. Bluebottle's dinner-party, each in an
opposite corner of the coach, and do not exchange a syllable until
they have been seated for at least twenty minutes by the fireside
at home, when the gentleman, raising his eyes from the stove, all
at once breaks silence:

'What a very extraordinary thing it is,' says he, 'that you WILL
contradict, Charlotte!' '_I_ contradict!' cries the lady, 'but
that's just like you.' 'What's like me?' says the gentleman
sharply. 'Saying that I contradict you,' replies the lady. 'Do
you mean to say that you do NOT contradict me?' retorts the
gentleman; 'do you mean to say that you have not been contradicting
me the whole of this day?' 'Do you mean to tell me now, that you
have not? I mean to tell you nothing of the kind,' replies the
lady quietly; 'when you are wrong, of course I shall contradict

During this dialogue the gentleman has been taking his brandy-and-
water on one side of the fire, and the lady, with her dressing-case
on the table, has been curling her hair on the other. She now lets
down her back hair, and proceeds to brush it; preserving at the
same time an air of conscious rectitude and suffering virtue, which
is intended to exasperate the gentleman--and does so.

'I do believe,' he says, taking the spoon out of his glass, and
tossing it on the table, 'that of all the obstinate, positive,
wrong-headed creatures that were ever born, you are the most so,
Charlotte.' 'Certainly, certainly, have it your own way, pray.
You see how much _I_ contradict you,' rejoins the lady. 'Of
course, you didn't contradict me at dinner-time--oh no, not you!'
says the gentleman. 'Yes, I did,' says the lady. 'Oh, you did,'
cries the gentleman 'you admit that?' 'If you call that
contradiction, I do,' the lady answers; 'and I say again, Edward,
that when I know you are wrong, I will contradict you. I am not
your slave.' 'Not my slave!' repeats the gentleman bitterly; 'and
you still mean to say that in the Blackburns' new house there are
not more than fourteen doors, including the door of the wine-
cellar!' 'I mean to say,' retorts the lady, beating time with her
hair-brush on the palm of her hand, 'that in that house there are
fourteen doors and no more.' 'Well then--' cries the gentleman,
rising in despair, and pacing the room with rapid strides. 'By G-,
this is enough to destroy a man's intellect, and drive him mad!'

By and by the gentleman comes-to a little, and passing his hand
gloomily across his forehead, reseats himself in his former chair.
There is a long silence, and this time the lady begins. 'I
appealed to Mr. Jenkins, who sat next to me on the sofa in the
drawing-room during tea--' 'Morgan, you mean,' interrupts the
gentleman. 'I do not mean anything of the kind,' answers the lady.
'Now, by all that is aggravating and impossible to bear,' cries the
gentleman, clenching his hands and looking upwards in agony, 'she
is going to insist upon it that Morgan is Jenkins!' 'Do you take
me for a perfect fool?' exclaims the lady; 'do you suppose I don't
know the one from the other? Do you suppose I don't know that the
man in the blue coat was Mr. Jenkins?' 'Jenkins in a blue coat!'
cries the gentleman with a groan; 'Jenkins in a blue coat! a man
who would suffer death rather than wear anything but brown!' 'Do
you dare to charge me with telling an untruth?' demands the lady,
bursting into tears. 'I charge you, ma'am,' retorts the gentleman,
starting up, 'with being a monster of contradiction, a monster of
aggravation, a--a--a--Jenkins in a blue coat!--what have I done
that I should be doomed to hear such statements!'

Expressing himself with great scorn and anguish, the gentleman
takes up his candle and stalks off to bed, where feigning to be
fast asleep when the lady comes up-stairs drowned in tears,
murmuring lamentations over her hard fate and indistinct intentions
of consulting her brothers, he undergoes the secret torture of
hearing her exclaim between whiles, 'I know there are only fourteen
doors in the house, I know it was Mr. Jenkins, I know he had a blue
coat on, and I would say it as positively as I do now, if they were
the last words I had to speak!'

If the contradictory couple are blessed with children, they are not
the less contradictory on that account. Master James and Miss
Charlotte present themselves after dinner, and being in perfect
good humour, and finding their parents in the same amiable state,
augur from these appearances half a glass of wine a-piece and other
extraordinary indulgences. But unfortunately Master James, growing
talkative upon such prospects, asks his mamma how tall Mrs. Parsons
is, and whether she is not six feet high; to which his mamma
replies, 'Yes, she should think she was, for Mrs. Parsons is a very
tall lady indeed; quite a giantess.' 'For Heaven's sake,
Charlotte,' cries her husband, 'do not tell the child such
preposterous nonsense. Six feet high!' 'Well,' replies the lady,
'surely I may be permitted to have an opinion; my opinion is, that
she is six feet high--at least six feet.' 'Now you know,
Charlotte,' retorts the gentleman sternly, 'that that is NOT your
opinion--that you have no such idea--and that you only say this for
the sake of contradiction.' 'You are exceedingly polite,' his wife
replies; 'to be wrong about such a paltry question as anybody's
height, would be no great crime; but I say again, that I believe
Mrs. Parsons to be six feet--more than six feet; nay, I believe you
know her to be full six feet, and only say she is not, because I
say she is.' This taunt disposes the gentleman to become violent,
but he cheeks himself, and is content to mutter, in a haughty tone,
'Six feet--ha! ha! Mrs. Parsons six feet!' and the lady answers,
'Yes, six feet. I am sure I am glad you are amused, and I'll say
it again--six feet.' Thus the subject gradually drops off, and the
contradiction begins to be forgotten, when Master James, with some
undefined notion of making himself agreeable, and putting things to
rights again, unfortunately asks his mamma what the moon's made of;
which gives her occasion to say that he had better not ask her, for
she is always wrong and never can be right; that he only exposes
her to contradiction by asking any question of her; and that he had
better ask his papa, who is infallible, and never can be wrong.
Papa, smarting under this attack, gives a terrible pull at the
bell, and says, that if the conversation is to proceed in this way,
the children had better be removed. Removed they are, after a few
tears and many struggles; and Pa having looked at Ma sideways for a
minute or two, with a baleful eye, draws his pocket-handkerchief
over his face, and composes himself for his after-dinner nap.

The friends of the contradictory couple often deplore their
frequent disputes, though they rather make light of them at the
same time: observing, that there is no doubt they are very much
attached to each other, and that they never quarrel except about
trifles. But neither the friends of the contradictory couple, nor
the contradictory couple themselves, reflect, that as the most
stupendous objects in nature are but vast collections of minute
particles, so the slightest and least considered trifles make up
the sum of human happiness or misery.


The couple who dote upon their children have usually a great many
of them: six or eight at least. The children are either the
healthiest in all the world, or the most unfortunate in existence.
In either case, they are equally the theme of their doting parents,
and equally a source of mental anguish and irritation to their
doting parents' friends.

The couple who dote upon their children recognise no dates but
those connected with their births, accidents, illnesses, or
remarkable deeds. They keep a mental almanack with a vast number
of Innocents'-days, all in red letters. They recollect the last
coronation, because on that day little Tom fell down the kitchen
stairs; the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, because it was on
the fifth of November that Ned asked whether wooden legs were made
in heaven and cocked hats grew in gardens. Mrs. Whiffler will
never cease to recollect the last day of the old year as long as
she lives, for it was on that day that the baby had the four red
spots on its nose which they took for measles: nor Christmas-day,
for twenty-one days after Christmas-day the twins were born; nor
Good Friday, for it was on a Good Friday that she was frightened by
the donkey-cart when she was in the family way with Georgiana. The
movable feasts have no motion for Mr. and Mrs. Whiffler, but remain
pinned down tight and fast to the shoulders of some small child,
from whom they can never be separated any more. Time was made,
according to their creed, not for slaves but for girls and boys;
the restless sands in his glass are but little children at play.

As we have already intimated, the children of this couple can know
no medium. They are either prodigies of good health or prodigies
of bad health; whatever they are, they must be prodigies. Mr.
Whiffler must have to describe at his office such excruciating
agonies constantly undergone by his eldest boy, as nobody else's
eldest boy ever underwent; or he must be able to declare that there
never was a child endowed with such amazing health, such an
indomitable constitution, and such a cast-iron frame, as his child.
His children must be, in some respect or other, above and beyond
the children of all other people. To such an extent is this
feeling pushed, that we were once slightly acquainted with a lady
and gentleman who carried their heads so high and became so proud
after their youngest child fell out of a two-pair-of-stairs window
without hurting himself much, that the greater part of their
friends were obliged to forego their acquaintance. But perhaps
this may be an extreme case, and one not justly entitled to be
considered as a precedent of general application.

If a friend happen to dine in a friendly way with one of these
couples who dote upon their children, it is nearly impossible for
him to divert the conversation from their favourite topic.
Everything reminds Mr. Whiffler of Ned, or Mrs. Whiffler of Mary
Anne, or of the time before Ned was born, or the time before Mary
Anne was thought of. The slightest remark, however harmless in
itself, will awaken slumbering recollections of the twins. It is
impossible to steer clear of them. They will come uppermost, let
the poor man do what he may. Ned has been known to be lost sight
of for half an hour, Dick has been forgotten, the name of Mary Anne
has not been mentioned, but the twins will out. Nothing can keep
down the twins.

'It's a very extraordinary thing, Saunders,' says Mr. Whiffler to
the visitor, 'but--you have seen our little babies, the--the--
twins?' The friend's heart sinks within him as he answers, 'Oh,
yes--often.' 'Your talking of the Pyramids,' says Mr. Whiffler,
quite as a matter of course, 'reminds me of the twins. It's a very
extraordinary thing about those babies--what colour should you say
their eyes were?' 'Upon my word,' the friend stammers, 'I hardly
know how to answer'--the fact being, that except as the friend does
not remember to have heard of any departure from the ordinary
course of nature in the instance of these twins, they might have no
eyes at all for aught he has observed to the contrary. 'You
wouldn't say they were red, I suppose?' says Mr. Whiffler. The
friend hesitates, and rather thinks they are; but inferring from
the expression of Mr. Whiffler's face that red is not the colour,
smiles with some confidence, and says, 'No, no! very different from
that.' 'What should you say to blue?' says Mr. Whiffler. The
friend glances at him, and observing a different expression in his
face, ventures to say, 'I should say they WERE blue--a decided
blue.' 'To be sure!' cries Mr. Whiffler, triumphantly, 'I knew you
would! But what should you say if I was to tell you that the boy's
eyes are blue and the girl's hazel, eh?' 'Impossible!' exclaims
the friend, not at all knowing why it should be impossible. 'A
fact, notwithstanding,' cries Mr. Whiffler; 'and let me tell you,
Saunders, THAT'S not a common thing in twins, or a circumstance
that'll happen every day.'

In this dialogue Mrs. Whiffler, as being deeply responsible for the
twins, their charms and singularities, has taken no share; but she

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