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Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

Part 5 out of 15

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guards--and a cloth cap jauntily thrown on one side of his head.
He bowed respectfully to our conductor, and the salute was
returned. The other two still remained in the positions we have
described, and were as motionless as statues. {3}

A few paces up the yard, and forming a continuation of the
building, in which are the two rooms we have just quitted, lie the
condemned cells. The entrance is by a narrow and obscure stair-
case leading to a dark passage, in which a charcoal stove casts a
lurid tint over the objects in its immediate vicinity, and diffuses
something like warmth around. From the left-hand side of this
passage, the massive door of every cell on the story opens; and
from it alone can they be approached. There are three of these
passages, and three of these ranges of cells, one above the other;
but in size, furniture and appearance, they are all precisely
alike. Prior to the recorder's report being made, all the
prisoners under sentence of death are removed from the day-room at
five o'clock in the afternoon, and locked up in these cells, where
they are allowed a candle until ten o'clock; and here they remain
until seven next morning. When the warrant for a prisoner's
execution arrives, he is removed to the cells and confined in one
of them until he leaves it for the scaffold. He is at liberty to
walk in the yard; but, both in his walks and in his cell, he is
constantly attended by a turnkey who never leaves him on any
pretence.

We entered the first cell. It was a stone dungeon, eight feet long
by six wide, with a bench at the upper end, under which were a
common rug, a bible, and prayer-book. An iron candlestick was
fixed into the wall at the side; and a small high window in the
back admitted as much air and light as could struggle in between a
double row of heavy, crossed iron bars. It contained no other
furniture of any description.

Conceive the situation of a man, spending his last night on earth
in this cell. Buoyed up with some vague and undefined hope of
reprieve, he knew not why--indulging in some wild and visionary
idea of escaping, he knew not how--hour after hour of the three
preceding days allowed him for preparation, has fled with a speed
which no man living would deem possible, for none but this dying
man can know. He has wearied his friends with entreaties,
exhausted the attendants with importunities, neglected in his
feverish restlessness the timely warnings of his spiritual
consoler; and, now that the illusion is at last dispelled, now that
eternity is before him and guilt behind, now that his fears of
death amount almost to madness, and an overwhelming sense of his
helpless, hopeless state rushes upon him, he is lost and stupefied,
and has neither thoughts to turn to, nor power to call upon, the
Almighty Being, from whom alone he can seek mercy and forgiveness,
and before whom his repentance can alone avail.

Hours have glided by, and still he sits upon the same stone bench
with folded arms, heedless alike of the fast decreasing time before
him, and the urgent entreaties of the good man at his side. The
feeble light is wasting gradually, and the deathlike stillness of
the street without, broken only by the rumbling of some passing
vehicle which echoes mournfully through the empty yards, warns him
that the night is waning fast away. The deep bell of St. Paul's
strikes--one! He heard it; it has roused him. Seven hours left!
He paces the narrow limits of his cell with rapid strides, cold
drops of terror starting on his forehead, and every muscle of his
frame quivering with agony. Seven hours! He suffers himself to be
led to his seat, mechanically takes the bible which is placed in
his hand, and tries to read and listen. No: his thoughts will
wander. The book is torn and soiled by use--and like the book he
read his lessons in, at school, just forty years ago! He has never
bestowed a thought upon it, perhaps, since he left it as a child:
and yet the place, the time, the room--nay, the very boys he played
with, crowd as vividly before him as if they were scenes of
yesterday; and some forgotten phrase, some childish word, rings in
his ears like the echo of one uttered but a minute since. The
voice of the clergyman recalls him to himself. He is reading from
the sacred book its solemn promises of pardon for repentance, and
its awful denunciation of obdurate men. He falls upon his knees
and clasps his hands to pray. Hush! what sound was that? He
starts upon his feet. It cannot be two yet. Hark! Two quarters
have struck;--the third--the fourth. It is! Six hours left. Tell
him not of repentance! Six hours' repentance for eight times six
years of guilt and sin! He buries his face in his hands, and
throws himself on the bench.

Worn with watching and excitement, he sleeps, and the same
unsettled state of mind pursues him in his dreams. An
insupportable load is taken from his breast; he is walking with his
wife in a pleasant field, with the bright sky above them, and a
fresh and boundless prospect on every side--how different from the
stone walls of Newgate! She is looking--not as she did when he saw
her for the last time in that dreadful place, but as she used when
he loved her--long, long ago, before misery and ill-treatment had
altered her looks, and vice had changed his nature, and she is
leaning upon his arm, and looking up into his face with tenderness
and affection--and he does NOT strike her now, nor rudely shake her
from him. And oh! how glad he is to tell her all he had forgotten
in that last hurried interview, and to fall on his knees before her
and fervently beseech her pardon for all the unkindness and cruelty
that wasted her form and broke her heart! The scene suddenly
changes. He is on his trial again: there are the judge and jury,
and prosecutors, and witnesses, just as they were before. How full
the court is--what a sea of heads--with a gallows, too, and a
scaffold--and how all those people stare at HIM! Verdict,
'Guilty.' No matter; he will escape.

The night is dark and cold, the gates have been left open, and in
an instant he is in the street, flying from the scene of his
imprisonment like the wind. The streets are cleared, the open
fields are gained and the broad, wide country lies before him.
Onward he dashes in the midst of darkness, over hedge and ditch,
through mud and pool, bounding from spot to spot with a speed and
lightness, astonishing even to himself. At length he pauses; he
must be safe from pursuit now; he will stretch himself on that bank
and sleep till sunrise.

A period of unconsciousness succeeds. He wakes, cold and wretched.
The dull, gray light of morning is stealing into the cell, and
falls upon the form of the attendant turnkey. Confused by his
dreams, he starts from his uneasy bed in momentary uncertainty. It
is but momentary. Every object in the narrow cell is too
frightfully real to admit of doubt or mistake. He is the condemned
felon again, guilty and despairing; and in two hours more will be
dead.

CHARACTERS

CHAPTER I--THOUGHTS ABOUT PEOPLE

It is strange with how little notice, good, bad, or indifferent, a
man may live and die in London. He awakens no sympathy in the
breast of any single person; his existence is a matter of interest
to no one save himself; he cannot be said to be forgotten when he
dies, for no one remembered him when he was alive. There is a
numerous class of people in this great metropolis who seem not to
possess a single friend, and whom nobody appears to care for.
Urged by imperative necessity in the first instance, they have
resorted to London in search of employment, and the means of
subsistence. It is hard, we know, to break the ties which bind us
to our homes and friends, and harder still to efface the thousand
recollections of happy days and old times, which have been
slumbering in our bosoms for years, and only rush upon the mind, to
bring before it associations connected with the friends we have
left, the scenes we have beheld too probably for the last time, and
the hopes we once cherished, but may entertain no more. These men,
however, happily for themselves, have long forgotten such thoughts.
Old country friends have died or emigrated; former correspondents
have become lost, like themselves, in the crowd and turmoil of some
busy city; and they have gradually settled down into mere passive
creatures of habit and endurance.

We were seated in the enclosure of St. James's Park the other day,
when our attention was attracted by a man whom we immediately put
down in our own mind as one of this class. He was a tall, thin,
pale person, in a black coat, scanty gray trousers, little pinched-
up gaiters, and brown beaver gloves. He had an umbrella in his
hand--not for use, for the day was fine--but, evidently, because he
always carried one to the office in the morning. He walked up and
down before the little patch of grass on which the chairs are
placed for hire, not as if he were doing it for pleasure or
recreation, but as if it were a matter of compulsion, just as he
would walk to the office every morning from the back settlements of
Islington. It was Monday; he had escaped for four-and-twenty hours
from the thraldom of the desk; and was walking here for exercise
and amusement--perhaps for the first time in his life. We were
inclined to think he had never had a holiday before, and that he
did not know what to do with himself. Children were playing on the
grass; groups of people were loitering about, chatting and
laughing; but the man walked steadily up and down, unheeding and
unheeded his spare, pale face looking as if it were incapable of
bearing the expression of curiosity or interest.

There was something in the man's manner and appearance which told
us, we fancied, his whole life, or rather his whole day, for a man
of this sort has no variety of days. We thought we almost saw the
dingy little back office into which he walks every morning, hanging
his hat on the same peg, and placing his legs beneath the same
desk: first, taking off that black coat which lasts the year
through, and putting on the one which did duty last year, and which
he keeps in his desk to save the other. There he sits till five
o'clock, working on, all day, as regularly as the dial over the
mantel-piece, whose loud ticking is as monotonous as his whole
existence: only raising his head when some one enters the
counting-house, or when, in the midst of some difficult
calculation, he looks up to the ceiling as if there were
inspiration in the dusty skylight with a green knot in the centre
of every pane of glass. About five, or half-past, he slowly
dismounts from his accustomed stool, and again changing his coat,
proceeds to his usual dining-place, somewhere near Bucklersbury.
The waiter recites the bill of fare in a rather confidential
manner--for he is a regular customer--and after inquiring 'What's
in the best cut?' and 'What was up last?' he orders a small plate
of roast beef, with greens, and half-a-pint of porter. He has a
small plate to-day, because greens are a penny more than potatoes,
and he had 'two breads' yesterday, with the additional enormity of
'a cheese' the day before. This important point settled, he hangs
up his hat--he took it off the moment he sat down--and bespeaks the
paper after the next gentleman. If he can get it while he is at
dinner, he eats with much greater zest; balancing it against the
water-bottle, and eating a bit of beef, and reading a line or two,
alternately. Exactly at five minutes before the hour is up, he
produces a shilling, pays the reckoning, carefully deposits the
change in his waistcoat-pocket (first deducting a penny for the
waiter), and returns to the office, from which, if it is not
foreign post night, he again sallies forth, in about half an hour.
He then walks home, at his usual pace, to his little back room at
Islington, where he has his tea; perhaps solacing himself during
the meal with the conversation of his landlady's little boy, whom
he occasionally rewards with a penny, for solving problems in
simple addition. Sometimes, there is a letter or two to take up to
his employer's, in Russell-square; and then, the wealthy man of
business, hearing his voice, calls out from the dining-parlour,--
'Come in, Mr. Smith:' and Mr. Smith, putting his hat at the feet of
one of the hall chairs, walks timidly in, and being condescendingly
desired to sit down, carefully tucks his legs under his chair, and
sits at a considerable distance from the table while he drinks the
glass of sherry which is poured out for him by the eldest boy, and
after drinking which, he backs and slides out of the room, in a
state of nervous agitation from which he does not perfectly
recover, until he finds himself once more in the Islington-road.
Poor, harmless creatures such men are; contented but not happy;
broken-spirited and humbled, they may feel no pain, but they never
know pleasure.

Compare these men with another class of beings who, like them, have
neither friend nor companion, but whose position in society is the
result of their own choice. These are generally old fellows with
white heads and red faces, addicted to port wine and Hessian boots,
who from some cause, real or imaginary--generally the former, the
excellent reason being that they are rich, and their relations
poor--grow suspicious of everybody, and do the misanthropical in
chambers, taking great delight in thinking themselves unhappy, and
making everybody they come near, miserable. You may see such men
as these, anywhere; you will know them at coffee-houses by their
discontented exclamations and the luxury of their dinners; at
theatres, by their always sitting in the same place and looking
with a jaundiced eye on all the young people near them; at church,
by the pomposity with which they enter, and the loud tone in which
they repeat the responses; at parties, by their getting cross at
whist and hating music. An old fellow of this kind will have his
chambers splendidly furnished, and collect books, plate, and
pictures about him in profusion; not so much for his own
gratification, as to be superior to those who have the desire, but
not the means, to compete with him. He belongs to two or three
clubs, and is envied, and flattered, and hated by the members of
them all. Sometimes he will be appealed to by a poor relation--a
married nephew perhaps--for some little assistance: and then he
will declaim with honest indignation on the improvidence of young
married people, the worthlessness of a wife, the insolence of
having a family, the atrocity of getting into debt with a hundred
and twenty-five pounds a year, and other unpardonable crimes;
winding up his exhortations with a complacent review of his own
conduct, and a delicate allusion to parochial relief. He dies,
some day after dinner, of apoplexy, having bequeathed his property
to a Public Society, and the Institution erects a tablet to his
memory, expressive of their admiration of his Christian conduct in
this world, and their comfortable conviction of his happiness in
the next.

But, next to our very particular friends, hackney-coachmen, cabmen
and cads, whom we admire in proportion to the extent of their cool
impudence and perfect self-possession, there is no class of people
who amuse us more than London apprentices. They are no longer an
organised body, bound down by solemn compact to terrify his
Majesty's subjects whenever it pleases them to take offence in
their heads and staves in their hands. They are only bound, now,
by indentures, and, as to their valour, it is easily restrained by
the wholesome dread of the New Police, and a perspective view of a
damp station-house, terminating in a police-office and a reprimand.
They are still, however, a peculiar class, and not the less
pleasant for being inoffensive. Can any one fail to have noticed
them in the streets on Sunday? And were there ever such harmless
efforts at the grand and magnificent as the young fellows display!
We walked down the Strand, a Sunday or two ago, behind a little
group; and they furnished food for our amusement the whole way.
They had come out of some part of the city; it was between three
and four o'clock in the afternoon; and they were on their way to
the Park. There were four of them, all arm-in-arm, with white kid
gloves like so many bridegrooms, light trousers of unprecedented
patterns, and coats for which the English language has yet no name-
-a kind of cross between a great-coat and a surtout, with the
collar of the one, the skirts of the other, and pockets peculiar to
themselves.

Each of the gentlemen carried a thick stick, with a large tassel at
the top, which he occasionally twirled gracefully round; and the
whole four, by way of looking easy and unconcerned, were walking
with a paralytic swagger irresistibly ludicrous. One of the party
had a watch about the size and shape of a reasonable Ribstone
pippin, jammed into his waistcoat-pocket, which he carefully
compared with the clocks at St. Clement's and the New Church, the
illuminated clock at Exeter 'Change, the clock of St. Martin's
Church, and the clock of the Horse Guards. When they at last
arrived in St. James's Park, the member of the party who had the
best-made boots on, hired a second chair expressly for his feet,
and flung himself on this two-pennyworth of sylvan luxury with an
air which levelled all distinctions between Brookes's and Snooks's,
Crockford's and Bagnigge Wells.

We may smile at such people, but they can never excite our anger.
They are usually on the best terms with themselves, and it follows
almost as a matter of course, in good humour with every one about
them. Besides, they are always the faint reflection of higher
lights; and, if they do display a little occasional foolery in
their own proper persons, it is surely more tolerable than
precocious puppyism in the Quadrant, whiskered dandyism in Regent-
street and Pall-mall, or gallantry in its dotage anywhere.

CHAPTER II--A CHRISTMAS DINNER

Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose
breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused--in whose mind
some pleasant associations are not awakened--by the recurrence of
Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is
not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has
found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before,
dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them
of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes--of the feasts they
once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet
them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal
reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the
world, who cannot call up such thoughts any day in the year. Then
do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for
your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing
fire--fill the glass and send round the song--and if your room be
smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled
with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on
the matter, and empty it off-hand, and fill another, and troll off
the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it's no worse. Look
on the merry faces of your children (if you have any) as they sit
round the fire. One little seat may be empty; one slight form that
gladdened the father's heart, and roused the mother's pride to look
upon, may not be there. Dwell not upon the past; think not that
one short year ago, the fair child now resolving into dust, sat
before you, with the bloom of health upon its cheek, and the gaiety
of infancy in its joyous eye. Reflect upon your present blessings-
-of which every man has many--not on your past misfortunes, of
which all men have some. Fill your glass again, with a merry face
and contented heart. Our life on it, but your Christmas shall be
merry, and your new year a happy one!

Who can be insensible to the outpourings of good feeling, and the
honest interchange of affectionate attachment, which abound at this
season of the year? A Christmas family-party! We know nothing in
nature more delightful! There seems a magic in the very name of
Christmas. Petty jealousies and discords are forgotten; social
feelings are awakened, in bosoms to which they have long been
strangers; father and son, or brother and sister, who have met and
passed with averted gaze, or a look of cold recognition, for months
before, proffer and return the cordial embrace, and bury their past
animosities in their present happiness. Kindly hearts that have
yearned towards each other, but have been withheld by false notions
of pride and self-dignity, are again reunited, and all is kindness
and benevolence! Would that Christmas lasted the whole year
through (as it ought), and that the prejudices and passions which
deform our better nature, were never called into action among those
to whom they should ever be strangers!

The Christmas family-party that we mean, is not a mere assemblage
of relations, got up at a week or two's notice, originating this
year, having no family precedent in the last, and not likely to be
repeated in the next. No. It is an annual gathering of all the
accessible members of the family, young or old, rich or poor; and
all the children look forward to it, for two months beforehand, in
a fever of anticipation. Formerly, it was held at grandpapa's; but
grandpapa getting old, and grandmamma getting old too, and rather
infirm, they have given up house-keeping, and domesticated
themselves with uncle George; so, the party always takes place at
uncle George's house, but grandmamma sends in most of the good
things, and grandpapa always WILL toddle down, all the way to
Newgate-market, to buy the turkey, which he engages a porter to
bring home behind him in triumph, always insisting on the man's
being rewarded with a glass of spirits, over and above his hire, to
drink 'a merry Christmas and a happy new year' to aunt George. As
to grandmamma, she is very secret and mysterious for two or three
days beforehand, but not sufficiently so, to prevent rumours
getting afloat that she has purchased a beautiful new cap with pink
ribbons for each of the servants, together with sundry books, and
pen-knives, and pencil-cases, for the younger branches; to say
nothing of divers secret additions to the order originally given by
aunt George at the pastry-cook's, such as another dozen of mince-
pies for the dinner, and a large plum-cake for the children.

On Christmas-eve, grandmamma is always in excellent spirits, and
after employing all the children, during the day, in stoning the
plums, and all that, insists, regularly every year, on uncle George
coming down into the kitchen, taking off his coat, and stirring the
pudding for half an hour or so, which uncle George good-humouredly
does, to the vociferous delight of the children and servants. The
evening concludes with a glorious game of blind-man's-buff, in an
early stage of which grandpapa takes great care to be caught, in
order that he may have an opportunity of displaying his dexterity.

On the following morning, the old couple, with as many of the
children as the pew will hold, go to church in great state:
leaving aunt George at home dusting decanters and filling casters,
and uncle George carrying bottles into the dining-parlour, and
calling for corkscrews, and getting into everybody's way.

When the church-party return to lunch, grandpapa produces a small
sprig of mistletoe from his pocket, and tempts the boys to kiss
their little cousins under it--a proceeding which affords both the
boys and the old gentleman unlimited satisfaction, but which rather
outrages grandmamma's ideas of decorum, until grandpapa says, that
when he was just thirteen years and three months old, HE kissed
grandmamma under a mistletoe too, on which the children clap their
hands, and laugh very heartily, as do aunt George and uncle George;
and grandmamma looks pleased, and says, with a benevolent smile,
that grandpapa was an impudent young dog, on which the children
laugh very heartily again, and grandpapa more heartily than any of
them.

But all these diversions are nothing to the subsequent excitement
when grandmamma in a high cap, and slate-coloured silk gown; and
grandpapa with a beautifully plaited shirt-frill, and white
neckerchief; seat themselves on one side of the drawing-room fire,
with uncle George's children and little cousins innumerable, seated
in the front, waiting the arrival of the expected visitors.
Suddenly a hackney-coach is heard to stop, and uncle George, who
has been looking out of the window, exclaims 'Here's Jane!' on
which the children rush to the door, and helter-skelter down-
stairs; and uncle Robert and aunt Jane, and the dear little baby,
and the nurse, and the whole party, are ushered up-stairs amidst
tumultuous shouts of 'Oh, my!' from the children, and frequently
repeated warnings not to hurt baby from the nurse. And grandpapa
takes the child, and grandmamma kisses her daughter, and the
confusion of this first entry has scarcely subsided, when some
other aunts and uncles with more cousins arrive, and the grown-up
cousins flirt with each other, and so do the little cousins too,
for that matter, and nothing is to be heard but a confused din of
talking, laughing, and merriment.

A hesitating double knock at the street-door, heard during a
momentary pause in the conversation, excites a general inquiry of
'Who's that?' and two or three children, who have been standing at
the window, announce in a low voice, that it's 'poor aunt
Margaret.' Upon which, aunt George leaves the room to welcome the
new-comer; and grandmamma draws herself up, rather stiff and
stately; for Margaret married a poor man without her consent, and
poverty not being a sufficiently weighty punishment for her
offence, has been discarded by her friends, and debarred the
society of her dearest relatives. But Christmas has come round,
and the unkind feelings that have struggled against better
dispositions during the year, have melted away before its genial
influence, like half-formed ice beneath the morning sun. It is not
difficult in a moment of angry feeling for a parent to denounce a
disobedient child; but, to banish her at a period of general good-
will and hilarity, from the hearth, round which she has sat on so
many anniversaries of the same day, expanding by slow degrees from
infancy to girlhood, and then bursting, almost imperceptibly, into
a woman, is widely different. The air of conscious rectitude, and
cold forgiveness, which the old lady has assumed, sits ill upon
her; and when the poor girl is led in by her sister, pale in looks
and broken in hope--not from poverty, for that she could bear, but
from the consciousness of undeserved neglect, and unmerited
unkindness--it is easy to see how much of it is assumed. A
momentary pause succeeds; the girl breaks suddenly from her sister
and throws herself, sobbing, on her mother's neck. The father
steps hastily forward, and takes her husband's hand. Friends crowd
round to offer their hearty congratulations, and happiness and
harmony again prevail.

As to the dinner, it's perfectly delightful--nothing goes wrong,
and everybody is in the very best of spirits, and disposed to
please and be pleased. Grandpapa relates a circumstantial account
of the purchase of the turkey, with a slight digression relative to
the purchase of previous turkeys, on former Christmas-days, which
grandmamma corroborates in the minutest particular. Uncle George
tells stories, and carves poultry, and takes wine, and jokes with
the children at the side-table, and winks at the cousins that are
making love, or being made love to, and exhilarates everybody with
his good humour and hospitality; and when, at last, a stout servant
staggers in with a gigantic pudding, with a sprig of holly in the
top, there is such a laughing, and shouting, and clapping of little
chubby hands, and kicking up of fat dumpy legs, as can only be
equalled by the applause with which the astonishing feat of pouring
lighted brandy into mince-pies, is received by the younger
visitors. Then the dessert!--and the wine!--and the fun! Such
beautiful speeches, and SUCH songs, from aunt Margaret's husband,
who turns out to be such a nice man, and SO attentive to
grandmamma! Even grandpapa not only sings his annual song with
unprecedented vigour, but on being honoured with an unanimous
encore, according to annual custom, actually comes out with a new
one which nobody but grandmamma ever heard before; and a young
scapegrace of a cousin, who has been in some disgrace with the old
people, for certain heinous sins of omission and commission--
neglecting to call, and persisting in drinking Burton Ale--
astonishes everybody into convulsions of laughter by volunteering
the most extraordinary comic songs that ever were heard. And thus
the evening passes, in a strain of rational good-will and
cheerfulness, doing more to awaken the sympathies of every member
of the party in behalf of his neighbour, and to perpetuate their
good feeling during the ensuing year, than half the homilies that
have ever been written, by half the Divines that have ever lived.

CHAPTER III--THE NEW YEAR

Next to Christmas-day, the most pleasant annual epoch in existence
is the advent of the New Year. There are a lachrymose set of
people who usher in the New Year with watching and fasting, as if
they were bound to attend as chief mourners at the obsequies of the
old one. Now, we cannot but think it a great deal more
complimentary, both to the old year that has rolled away, and to
the New Year that is just beginning to dawn upon us, to see the old
fellow out, and the new one in, with gaiety and glee.

There must have been some few occurrences in the past year to which
we can look back, with a smile of cheerful recollection, if not
with a feeling of heartfelt thankfulness. And we are bound by
every rule of justice and equity to give the New Year credit for
being a good one, until he proves himself unworthy the confidence
we repose in him.

This is our view of the matter; and entertaining it,
notwithstanding our respect for the old year, one of the few
remaining moments of whose existence passes away with every word we
write, here we are, seated by our fireside on this last night of
the old year, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six, penning
this article with as jovial a face as if nothing extraordinary had
happened, or was about to happen, to disturb our good humour.

Hackney-coaches and carriages keep rattling up the street and down
the street in rapid succession, conveying, doubtless, smartly-
dressed coachfuls to crowded parties; loud and repeated double
knocks at the house with green blinds, opposite, announce to the
whole neighbourhood that there's one large party in the street at
all events; and we saw through the window, and through the fog too,
till it grew so thick that we rung for candles, and drew our
curtains, pastry-cooks' men with green boxes on their heads, and
rout-furniture-warehouse-carts, with cane seats and French lamps,
hurrying to the numerous houses where an annual festival is held in
honour of the occasion.

We can fancy one of these parties, we think, as well as if we were
duly dress-coated and pumped, and had just been announced at the
drawing-room door.

Take the house with the green blinds for instance. We know it is a
quadrille party, because we saw some men taking up the front
drawing-room carpet while we sat at breakfast this morning, and if
further evidence be required, and we must tell the truth, we just
now saw one of the young ladies 'doing' another of the young
ladies' hair, near one of the bedroom windows, in an unusual style
of splendour, which nothing else but a quadrille party could
possibly justify.

The master of the house with the green blinds is in a public
office; we know the fact by the cut of his coat, the tie of his
neckcloth, and the self-satisfaction of his gait--the very green
blinds themselves have a Somerset House air about them.

Hark!--a cab! That's a junior clerk in the same office; a tidy
sort of young man, with a tendency to cold and corns, who comes in
a pair of boots with black cloth fronts, and brings his shoes in
his coat-pocket, which shoes he is at this very moment putting on
in the hall. Now he is announced by the man in the passage to
another man in a blue coat, who is a disguised messenger from the
office.

The man on the first landing precedes him to the drawing-room door.
'Mr. Tupple!' shouts the messenger. 'How ARE you, Tupple?' says
the master of the house, advancing from the fire, before which he
has been talking politics and airing himself. 'My dear, this is
Mr. Tupple (a courteous salute from the lady of the house); Tupple,
my eldest daughter; Julia, my dear, Mr. Tupple; Tupple, my other
daughters; my son, sir;' Tupple rubs his hands very hard, and
smiles as if it were all capital fun, and keeps constantly bowing
and turning himself round, till the whole family have been
introduced, when he glides into a chair at the corner of the sofa,
and opens a miscellaneous conversation with the young ladies upon
the weather, and the theatres, and the old year, and the last new
murder, and the balloon, and the ladies' sleeves, and the
festivities of the season, and a great many other topics of small
talk.

More double knocks! what an extensive party! what an incessant hum
of conversation and general sipping of coffee! We see Tupple now,
in our mind's eye, in the height of his glory. He has just handed
that stout old lady's cup to the servant; and now, he dives among
the crowd of young men by the door, to intercept the other servant,
and secure the muffin-plate for the old lady's daughter, before he
leaves the room; and now, as he passes the sofa on his way back, he
bestows a glance of recognition and patronage upon the young ladies
as condescending and familiar as if he had known them from infancy.

Charming person Mr. Tupple--perfect ladies' man--such a delightful
companion, too! Laugh!--nobody ever understood papa's jokes half
so well as Mr. Tupple, who laughs himself into convulsions at every
fresh burst of facetiousness. Most delightful partner! talks
through the whole set! and although he does seem at first rather
gay and frivolous, so romantic and with so MUCH feeling! Quite a
love. No great favourite with the young men, certainly, who sneer
at, and affect to despise him; but everybody knows that's only
envy, and they needn't give themselves the trouble to depreciate
his merits at any rate, for Ma says he shall be asked to every
future dinner-party, if it's only to talk to people between the
courses, and distract their attention when there's any unexpected
delay in the kitchen.

At supper, Mr. Tupple shows to still greater advantage than he has
done throughout the evening, and when Pa requests every one to fill
their glasses for the purpose of drinking happiness throughout the
year, Mr. Tupple is SO droll: insisting on all the young ladies
having their glasses filled, notwithstanding their repeated
assurances that they never can, by any possibility, think of
emptying them and subsequently begging permission to say a few
words on the sentiment which has just been uttered by Pa--when he
makes one of the most brilliant and poetical speeches that can
possibly be imagined, about the old year and the new one. After
the toast has been drunk, and when the ladies have retired, Mr.
Tupple requests that every gentleman will do him the favour of
filling his glass, for he has a toast to propose: on which all the
gentlemen cry 'Hear! hear!' and pass the decanters accordingly:
and Mr. Tupple being informed by the master of the house that they
are all charged, and waiting for his toast, rises, and begs to
remind the gentlemen present, how much they have been delighted by
the dazzling array of elegance and beauty which the drawing-room
has exhibited that night, and how their senses have been charmed,
and their hearts captivated, by the bewitching concentration of
female loveliness which that very room has so recently displayed.
(Loud cries of 'Hear!') Much as he (Tupple) would be disposed to
deplore the absence of the ladies, on other grounds, he cannot but
derive some consolation from the reflection that the very
circumstance of their not being present, enables him to propose a
toast, which he would have otherwise been prevented from giving--
that toast he begs to say is--'The Ladies!' (Great applause.) The
Ladies! among whom the fascinating daughters of their excellent
host, are alike conspicuous for their beauty, their
accomplishments, and their elegance. He begs them to drain a
bumper to 'The Ladies, and a happy new year to them!' (Prolonged
approbation; above which the noise of the ladies dancing the
Spanish dance among themselves, overhead, is distinctly audible.)

The applause consequent on this toast, has scarcely subsided, when
a young gentleman in a pink under-waistcoat, sitting towards the
bottom of the table, is observed to grow very restless and fidgety,
and to evince strong indications of some latent desire to give vent
to his feelings in a speech, which the wary Tupple at once
perceiving, determines to forestall by speaking himself. He,
therefore, rises again, with an air of solemn importance, and
trusts he may be permitted to propose another toast (unqualified
approbation, and Mr. Tupple proceeds). He is sure they must all be
deeply impressed with the hospitality--he may say the splendour--
with which they have been that night received by their worthy host
and hostess. (Unbounded applause.) Although this is the first
occasion on which he has had the pleasure and delight of sitting at
that board, he has known his friend Dobble long and intimately; he
has been connected with him in business--he wishes everybody
present knew Dobble as well as he does. (A cough from the host.)
He (Tupple) can lay his hand upon his (Tupple's) heart, and declare
his confident belief that a better man, a better husband, a better
father, a better brother, a better son, a better relation in any
relation of life, than Dobble, never existed. (Loud cries of
'Hear!') They have seen him to-night in the peaceful bosom of his
family; they should see him in the morning, in the trying duties of
his office. Calm in the perusal of the morning papers,
uncompromising in the signature of his name, dignified in his
replies to the inquiries of stranger applicants, deferential in his
behaviour to his superiors, majestic in his deportment to the
messengers. (Cheers.) When he bears this merited testimony to the
excellent qualities of his friend Dobble, what can he say in
approaching such a subject as Mrs. Dobble? Is it requisite for him
to expatiate on the qualities of that amiable woman? No; he will
spare his friend Dobble's feelings; he will spare the feelings of
his friend--if he will allow him to have the honour of calling him
so--Mr. Dobble, junior. (Here Mr. Dobble, junior, who has been
previously distending his mouth to a considerable width, by
thrusting a particularly fine orange into that feature, suspends
operations, and assumes a proper appearance of intense melancholy).
He will simply say--and he is quite certain it is a sentiment in
which all who hear him will readily concur--that his friend Dobble
is as superior to any man he ever knew, as Mrs. Dobble is far
beyond any woman he ever saw (except her daughters); and he will
conclude by proposing their worthy 'Host and Hostess, and may they
live to enjoy many more new years!'

The toast is drunk with acclamation; Dobble returns thanks, and the
whole party rejoin the ladies in the drawing-room. Young men who
were too bashful to dance before supper, find tongues and partners;
the musicians exhibit unequivocal symptoms of having drunk the new
year in, while the company were out; and dancing is kept up, until
far in the first morning of the new year.

We have scarcely written the last word of the previous sentence,
when the first stroke of twelve, peals from the neighbouring
churches. There certainly--we must confess it now--is something
awful in the sound. Strictly speaking, it may not be more
impressive now, than at any other time; for the hours steal as
swiftly on, at other periods, and their flight is little heeded.
But, we measure man's life by years, and it is a solemn knell that
warns us we have passed another of the landmarks which stands
between us and the grave. Disguise it as we may, the reflection
will force itself on our minds, that when the next bell announces
the arrival of a new year, we may be insensible alike of the timely
warning we have so often neglected, and of all the warm feelings
that glow within us now.

CHAPTER IV--MISS EVANS AND THE EAGLE

Mr. Samuel Wilkins was a carpenter, a journeyman carpenter of small
dimensions, decidedly below the middle size--bordering, perhaps,
upon the dwarfish. His face was round and shining, and his hair
carefully twisted into the outer corner of each eye, till it formed
a variety of that description of semi-curls, usually known as
'aggerawators.' His earnings were all-sufficient for his wants,
varying from eighteen shillings to one pound five, weekly--his
manner undeniable--his sabbath waistcoats dazzling. No wonder
that, with these qualifications, Samuel Wilkins found favour in the
eyes of the other sex: many women have been captivated by far less
substantial qualifications. But, Samuel was proof against their
blandishments, until at length his eyes rested on those of a Being
for whom, from that time forth, he felt fate had destined him. He
came, and conquered--proposed, and was accepted--loved, and was
beloved. Mr. Wilkins 'kept company' with Jemima Evans.

Miss Evans (or Ivins, to adopt the pronunciation most in vogue with
her circle of acquaintance) had adopted in early life the useful
pursuit of shoe-binding, to which she had afterwards superadded the
occupation of a straw-bonnet maker. Herself, her maternal parent,
and two sisters, formed an harmonious quartett in the most secluded
portion of Camden-town; and here it was that Mr. Wilkins presented
himself, one Monday afternoon, in his best attire, with his face
more shining and his waistcoat more bright than either had ever
appeared before. The family were just going to tea, and were SO
glad to see him. It was quite a little feast; two ounces of seven-
and-sixpenny green, and a quarter of a pound of the best fresh; and
Mr. Wilkins had brought a pint of shrimps, neatly folded up in a
clean belcher, to give a zest to the meal, and propitiate Mrs.
Ivins. Jemima was 'cleaning herself' up-stairs; so Mr. Samuel
Wilkins sat down and talked domestic economy with Mrs. Ivins,
whilst the two youngest Miss Ivinses poked bits of lighted brown
paper between the bars under the kettle, to make the water boil for
tea.

'I wos a thinking,' said Mr. Samuel Wilkins, during a pause in the
conversation--'I wos a thinking of taking J'mima to the Eagle to-
night.'--'O my!' exclaimed Mrs. Ivins. 'Lor! how nice!' said the
youngest Miss Ivins. 'Well, I declare!' added the youngest Miss
Ivins but one. 'Tell J'mima to put on her white muslin, Tilly,'
screamed Mrs. Ivins, with motherly anxiety; and down came J'mima
herself soon afterwards in a white muslin gown carefully hooked and
eyed, a little red shawl, plentifully pinned, a white straw bonnet
trimmed with red ribbons, a small necklace, a large pair of
bracelets, Denmark satin shoes, and open-worked stockings; white
cotton gloves on her fingers, and a cambric pocket-handkerchief,
carefully folded up, in her hand--all quite genteel and ladylike.
And away went Miss J'mima Ivins and Mr. Samuel Wilkins, and a
dress-cane, with a gilt knob at the top, to the admiration and envy
of the street in general, and to the high gratification of Mrs.
Ivins, and the two youngest Miss Ivinses in particular. They had
no sooner turned into the Pancras-road, than who should Miss J'mima
Ivins stumble upon, by the most fortunate accident in the world,
but a young lady as she knew, with HER young man!--And it is so
strange how things do turn out sometimes--they were actually going
to the Eagle too. So Mr. Samuel Wilkins was introduced to Miss
J'mima Ivins's friend's young man, and they all walked on together,
talking, and laughing, and joking away like anything; and when they
got as far as Pentonville, Miss Ivins's friend's young man WOULD
have the ladies go into the Crown, to taste some shrub, which,
after a great blushing and giggling, and hiding of faces in
elaborate pocket-handkerchiefs, they consented to do. Having
tasted it once, they were easily prevailed upon to taste it again;
and they sat out in the garden tasting shrub, and looking at the
Busses alternately, till it was just the proper time to go to the
Eagle; and then they resumed their journey, and walked very fast,
for fear they should lose the beginning of the concert in the
Rotunda.

'How ev'nly!' said Miss J'mima Ivins, and Miss J'mima Ivins's
friend, both at once, when they had passed the gate and were fairly
inside the gardens. There were the walks, beautifully gravelled
and planted--and the refreshment-boxes, painted and ornamented like
so many snuff-boxes--and the variegated lamps shedding their rich
light upon the company's heads--and the place for dancing ready
chalked for the company's feet--and a Moorish band playing at one
end of the gardens--and an opposition military band playing away at
the other. Then, the waiters were rushing to and fro with glasses
of negus, and glasses of brandy-and-water, and bottles of ale, and
bottles of stout; and ginger-beer was going off in one place, and
practical jokes were going on in another; and people were crowding
to the door of the Rotunda; and in short the whole scene was, as
Miss J'mima Ivins, inspired by the novelty, or the shrub, or both,
observed--'one of dazzling excitement.' As to the concert-room,
never was anything half so splendid. There was an orchestra for
the singers, all paint, gilding, and plate-glass; and such an
organ! Miss J'mima Ivins's friend's young man whispered it had
cost 'four hundred pound,' which Mr. Samuel Wilkins said was 'not
dear neither;' an opinion in which the ladies perfectly coincided.
The audience were seated on elevated benches round the room, and
crowded into every part of it; and everybody was eating and
drinking as comfortably as possible. Just before the concert
commenced, Mr. Samuel Wilkins ordered two glasses of rum-and-water
'warm with--' and two slices of lemon, for himself and the other
young man, together with 'a pint o' sherry wine for the ladies, and
some sweet carraway-seed biscuits;' and they would have been quite
comfortable and happy, only a strange gentleman with large whiskers
WOULD stare at Miss J'mima Ivins, and another gentleman in a plaid
waistcoat WOULD wink at Miss J'mima Ivins's friend; on which Miss
Jemima Ivins's friend's young man exhibited symptoms of boiling
over, and began to mutter about 'people's imperence,' and 'swells
out o' luck;' and to intimate, in oblique terms, a vague intention
of knocking somebody's head off; which he was only prevented from
announcing more emphatically, by both Miss J'mima Ivins and her
friend threatening to faint away on the spot if he said another
word.

The concert commenced--overture on the organ. 'How solemn!'
exclaimed Miss J'mima Ivins, glancing, perhaps unconsciously, at
the gentleman with the whiskers. Mr. Samuel Wilkins, who had been
muttering apart for some time past, as if he were holding a
confidential conversation with the gilt knob of the dress-cane,
breathed hard-breathing vengeance, perhaps,--but said nothing.
'The soldier tired,' Miss Somebody in white satin. 'Ancore!' cried
Miss J'mima Ivins's friend. 'Ancore!' shouted the gentleman in the
plaid waistcoat immediately, hammering the table with a stout-
bottle. Miss J'mima Ivins's friend's young man eyed the man behind
the waistcoat from head to foot, and cast a look of interrogative
contempt towards Mr. Samuel Wilkins. Comic song, accompanied on
the organ. Miss J'mima Ivins was convulsed with laughter--so was
the man with the whiskers. Everything the ladies did, the plaid
waistcoat and whiskers did, by way of expressing unity of sentiment
and congeniality of soul; and Miss J'mima Ivins, and Miss J'mima
Ivins's friend, grew lively and talkative, as Mr. Samuel Wilkins,
and Miss J'mima Ivins's friend's young man, grew morose and surly
in inverse proportion.

Now, if the matter had ended here, the little party might soon have
recovered their former equanimity; but Mr. Samuel Wilkins and his
friend began to throw looks of defiance upon the waistcoat and
whiskers. And the waistcoat and whiskers, by way of intimating the
slight degree in which they were affected by the looks aforesaid,
bestowed glances of increased admiration upon Miss J'mima Ivins and
friend. The concert and vaudeville concluded, they promenaded the
gardens. The waistcoat and whiskers did the same; and made divers
remarks complimentary to the ankles of Miss J'mima Ivins and
friend, in an audible tone. At length, not satisfied with these
numerous atrocities, they actually came up and asked Miss J'mima
Ivins, and Miss J'mima Ivins's friend, to dance, without taking no
more notice of Mr. Samuel Wilkins, and Miss J'mima Ivins's friend's
young man, than if they was nobody!

'What do you mean by that, scoundrel!' exclaimed Mr. Samuel
Wilkins, grasping the gilt-knobbed dress-cane firmly in his right
hand. 'What's the matter with YOU, you little humbug?' replied the
whiskers. 'How dare you insult me and my friend?' inquired the
friend's young man. 'You and your friend be hanged!' responded the
waistcoat. 'Take that,' exclaimed Mr. Samuel Wilkins. The ferrule
of the gilt-knobbed dress-cane was visible for an instant, and then
the light of the variegated lamps shone brightly upon it as it
whirled into the air, cane and all. 'Give it him,' said the
waistcoat. 'Horficer!' screamed the ladies. Miss J'mima Ivins's
beau, and the friend's young man, lay gasping on the gravel, and
the waistcoat and whiskers were seen no more.

Miss J'mima Ivins and friend being conscious that the affray was in
no slight degree attributable to themselves, of course went into
hysterics forthwith; declared themselves the most injured of women;
exclaimed, in incoherent ravings, that they had been suspected--
wrongfully suspected--oh! that they should ever have lived to see
the day--and so forth; suffered a relapse every time they opened
their eyes and saw their unfortunate little admirers; and were
carried to their respective abodes in a hackney-coach, and a state
of insensibility, compounded of shrub, sherry, and excitement.

CHAPTER V--THE PARLOUR ORATOR

We had been lounging one evening, down Oxford-street, Holborn,
Cheapside, Coleman-street, Finsbury-square, and so on, with the
intention of returning westward, by Pentonville and the New-road,
when we began to feel rather thirsty, and disposed to rest for five
or ten minutes. So, we turned back towards an old, quiet, decent
public-house, which we remembered to have passed but a moment
before (it was not far from the City-road), for the purpose of
solacing ourself with a glass of ale. The house was none of your
stuccoed, French-polished, illuminated palaces, but a modest
public-house of the old school, with a little old bar, and a little
old landlord, who, with a wife and daughter of the same pattern,
was comfortably seated in the bar aforesaid--a snug little room
with a cheerful fire, protected by a large screen: from behind
which the young lady emerged on our representing our inclination
for a glass of ale.

'Won't you walk into the parlour, sir?' said the young lady, in
seductive tones.

'You had better walk into the parlour, sir,' said the little old
landlord, throwing his chair back, and looking round one side of
the screen, to survey our appearance.

'You had much better step into the parlour, sir,' said the little
old lady, popping out her head, on the other side of the screen.

We cast a slight glance around, as if to express our ignorance of
the locality so much recommended. The little old landlord observed
it; bustled out of the small door of the small bar; and forthwith
ushered us into the parlour itself.

It was an ancient, dark-looking room, with oaken wainscoting, a
sanded floor, and a high mantel-piece. The walls were ornamented
with three or four old coloured prints in black frames, each print
representing a naval engagement, with a couple of men-of-war
banging away at each other most vigorously, while another vessel or
two were blowing up in the distance, and the foreground presented a
miscellaneous collection of broken masts and blue legs sticking up
out of the water. Depending from the ceiling in the centre of the
room, were a gas-light and bell-pull; on each side were three or
four long narrow tables, behind which was a thickly-planted row of
those slippery, shiny-looking wooden chairs, peculiar to hostelries
of this description. The monotonous appearance of the sanded
boards was relieved by an occasional spittoon; and a triangular
pile of those useful articles adorned the two upper corners of the
apartment.

At the furthest table, nearest the fire, with his face towards the
door at the bottom of the room, sat a stoutish man of about forty,
whose short, stiff, black hair curled closely round a broad high
forehead, and a face to which something besides water and exercise
had communicated a rather inflamed appearance. He was smoking a
cigar, with his eyes fixed on the ceiling, and had that confident
oracular air which marked him as the leading politician, general
authority, and universal anecdote-relater, of the place. He had
evidently just delivered himself of something very weighty; for the
remainder of the company were puffing at their respective pipes and
cigars in a kind of solemn abstraction, as if quite overwhelmed
with the magnitude of the subject recently under discussion.

On his right hand sat an elderly gentleman with a white head, and
broad-brimmed brown hat; on his left, a sharp-nosed, light-haired
man in a brown surtout reaching nearly to his heels, who took a
whiff at his pipe, and an admiring glance at the red-faced man,
alternately.

'Very extraordinary!' said the light-haired man after a pause of
five minutes. A murmur of assent ran through the company.

'Not at all extraordinary--not at all,' said the red-faced man,
awakening suddenly from his reverie, and turning upon the light-
haired man, the moment he had spoken.

'Why should it be extraordinary?--why is it extraordinary?--prove
it to be extraordinary!'

'Oh, if you come to that--' said the light-haired man, meekly.

'Come to that!' ejaculated the man with the red face; 'but we MUST
come to that. We stand, in these times, upon a calm elevation of
intellectual attainment, and not in the dark recess of mental
deprivation. Proof, is what I require--proof, and not assertions,
in these stirring times. Every gen'lem'n that knows me, knows what
was the nature and effect of my observations, when it was in the
contemplation of the Old-street Suburban Representative Discovery
Society, to recommend a candidate for that place in Cornwall there-
-I forget the name of it. "Mr. Snobee," said Mr. Wilson, "is a fit
and proper person to represent the borough in Parliament." "Prove
it," says I. "He is a friend to Reform," says Mr. Wilson. "Prove
it," says I. "The abolitionist of the national debt, the
unflinching opponent of pensions, the uncompromising advocate of
the negro, the reducer of sinecures and the duration of
Parliaments; the extender of nothing but the suffrages of the
people," says Mr. Wilson. "Prove it," says I. "His acts prove
it," says he. "Prove THEM," says I.

'And he could not prove them,' said the red-faced man, looking
round triumphantly; 'and the borough didn't have him; and if you
carried this principle to the full extent, you'd have no debt, no
pensions, no sinecures, no negroes, no nothing. And then, standing
upon an elevation of intellectual attainment, and having reached
the summit of popular prosperity, you might bid defiance to the
nations of the earth, and erect yourselves in the proud confidence
of wisdom and superiority. This is my argument--this always has
been my argument--and if I was a Member of the House of Commons to-
morrow, I'd make 'em shake in their shoes with it. And the red-
faced man, having struck the table very hard with his clenched
fist, to add weight to the declaration, smoked away like a brewery.

'Well!' said the sharp-nosed man, in a very slow and soft voice,
addressing the company in general, 'I always do say, that of all
the gentlemen I have the pleasure of meeting in this room, there is
not one whose conversation I like to hear so much as Mr. Rogers's,
or who is such improving company.'

'Improving company!' said Mr. Rogers, for that, it seemed, was the
name of the red-faced man. 'You may say I am improving company,
for I've improved you all to some purpose; though as to my
conversation being as my friend Mr. Ellis here describes it, that
is not for me to say anything about. You, gentlemen, are the best
judges on that point; but this I will say, when I came into this
parish, and first used this room, ten years ago, I don't believe
there was one man in it, who knew he was a slave--and now you all
know it, and writhe under it. Inscribe that upon my tomb, and I am
satisfied.'

'Why, as to inscribing it on your tomb,' said a little greengrocer
with a chubby face, 'of course you can have anything chalked up, as
you likes to pay for, so far as it relates to yourself and your
affairs; but, when you come to talk about slaves, and that there
abuse, you'd better keep it in the family, 'cos I for one don't
like to be called them names, night after night.'

'You ARE a slave,' said the red-faced man, 'and the most pitiable
of all slaves.'

'Werry hard if I am,' interrupted the greengrocer, 'for I got no
good out of the twenty million that was paid for 'mancipation,
anyhow.'

'A willing slave,' ejaculated the red-faced man, getting more red
with eloquence, and contradiction--'resigning the dearest
birthright of your children--neglecting the sacred call of Liberty-
-who, standing imploringly before you, appeals to the warmest
feelings of your heart, and points to your helpless infants, but in
vain.'

'Prove it,' said the greengrocer.

'Prove it!' sneered the man with the red face. 'What! bending
beneath the yoke of an insolent and factious oligarchy; bowed down
by the domination of cruel laws; groaning beneath tyranny and
oppression on every hand, at every side, and in every corner.
Prove it!--' The red-faced man abruptly broke off, sneered melo-
dramatically, and buried his countenance and his indignation
together, in a quart pot.

'Ah, to be sure, Mr. Rogers,' said a stout broker in a large
waistcoat, who had kept his eyes fixed on this luminary all the
time he was speaking. 'Ah, to be sure,' said the broker with a
sigh, 'that's the point.'

'Of course, of course,' said divers members of the company, who
understood almost as much about the matter as the broker himself.

'You had better let him alone, Tommy,' said the broker, by way of
advice to the little greengrocer; 'he can tell what's o'clock by an
eight-day, without looking at the minute hand, he can. Try it on,
on some other suit; it won't do with him, Tommy.'

'What is a man?' continued the red-faced specimen of the species,
jerking his hat indignantly from its peg on the wall. 'What is an
Englishman? Is he to be trampled upon by every oppressor? Is he
to be knocked down at everybody's bidding? What's freedom? Not a
standing army. What's a standing army? Not freedom. What's
general happiness? Not universal misery. Liberty ain't the
window-tax, is it? The Lords ain't the Commons, are they?' And
the red-faced man, gradually bursting into a radiating sentence, in
which such adjectives as 'dastardly,' 'oppressive,' 'violent,' and
'sanguinary,' formed the most conspicuous words, knocked his hat
indignantly over his eyes, left the room, and slammed the door
after him.

'Wonderful man!' said he of the sharp nose.

'Splendid speaker!' added the broker.

'Great power!' said everybody but the greengrocer. And as they
said it, the whole party shook their heads mysteriously, and one by
one retired, leaving us alone in the old parlour.

If we had followed the established precedent in all such instances,
we should have fallen into a fit of musing, without delay. The
ancient appearance of the room--the old panelling of the wall--the
chimney blackened with smoke and age--would have carried us back a
hundred years at least, and we should have gone dreaming on, until
the pewter-pot on the table, or the little beer-chiller on the
fire, had started into life, and addressed to us a long story of
days gone by. But, by some means or other, we were not in a
romantic humour; and although we tried very hard to invest the
furniture with vitality, it remained perfectly unmoved, obstinate,
and sullen. Being thus reduced to the unpleasant necessity of
musing about ordinary matters, our thoughts reverted to the red-
faced man, and his oratorical display.

A numerous race are these red-faced men; there is not a parlour, or
club-room, or benefit society, or humble party of any kind, without
its red-faced man. Weak-pated dolts they are, and a great deal of
mischief they do to their cause, however good. So, just to hold a
pattern one up, to know the others by, we took his likeness at
once, and put him in here. And that is the reason why we have
written this paper.

CHAPTER VI--THE HOSPITAL PATIENT

In our rambles through the streets of London after evening has set
in, we often pause beneath the windows of some public hospital, and
picture to ourself the gloomy and mournful scenes that are passing
within. The sudden moving of a taper as its feeble ray shoots from
window to window, until its light gradually disappears, as if it
were carried farther back into the room to the bedside of some
suffering patient, is enough to awaken a whole crowd of
reflections; the mere glimmering of the low-burning lamps, which,
when all other habitations are wrapped in darkness and slumber,
denote the chamber where so many forms are writhing with pain, or
wasting with disease, is sufficient to check the most boisterous
merriment.

Who can tell the anguish of those weary hours, when the only sound
the sick man hears, is the disjointed wanderings of some feverish
slumberer near him, the low moan of pain, or perhaps the muttered,
long-forgotten prayer of a dying man? Who, but they who have felt
it, can imagine the sense of loneliness and desolation which must
be the portion of those who in the hour of dangerous illness are
left to be tended by strangers; for what hands, be they ever so
gentle, can wipe the clammy brow, or smooth the restless bed, like
those of mother, wife, or child?

Impressed with these thoughts, we have turned away, through the
nearly-deserted streets; and the sight of the few miserable
creatures still hovering about them, has not tended to lessen the
pain which such meditations awaken. The hospital is a refuge and
resting-place for hundreds, who but for such institutions must die
in the streets and doorways; but what can be the feelings of some
outcasts when they are stretched on the bed of sickness with
scarcely a hope of recovery? The wretched woman who lingers about
the pavement, hours after midnight, and the miserable shadow of a
man--the ghastly remnant that want and drunkenness have left--which
crouches beneath a window-ledge, to sleep where there is some
shelter from the rain, have little to bind them to life, but what
have they to look back upon, in death? What are the unwonted
comforts of a roof and a bed, to them, when the recollections of a
whole life of debasement stalk before them; when repentance seems a
mockery, and sorrow comes too late?

About a twelvemonth ago, as we were strolling through Covent-garden
(we had been thinking about these things over-night), we were
attracted by the very prepossessing appearance of a pickpocket, who
having declined to take the trouble of walking to the Police-
office, on the ground that he hadn't the slightest wish to go there
at all, was being conveyed thither in a wheelbarrow, to the huge
delight of a crowd.

Somehow, we never can resist joining a crowd, so we turned back
with the mob, and entered the office, in company with our friend
the pickpocket, a couple of policemen, and as many dirty-faced
spectators as could squeeze their way in.

There was a powerful, ill-looking young fellow at the bar, who was
undergoing an examination, on the very common charge of having, on
the previous night, ill-treated a woman, with whom he lived in some
court hard by. Several witnesses bore testimony to acts of the
grossest brutality; and a certificate was read from the house-
surgeon of a neighbouring hospital, describing the nature of the
injuries the woman had received, and intimating that her recovery
was extremely doubtful.

Some question appeared to have been raised about the identity of
the prisoner; for when it was agreed that the two magistrates
should visit the hospital at eight o'clock that evening, to take
her deposition, it was settled that the man should be taken there
also. He turned pale at this, and we saw him clench the bar very
hard when the order was given. He was removed directly afterwards,
and he spoke not a word.

We felt an irrepressible curiosity to witness this interview,
although it is hard to tell why, at this instant, for we knew it
must be a painful one. It was no very difficult matter for us to
gain permission, and we obtained it.

The prisoner, and the officer who had him in custody, were already
at the hospital when we reached it, and waiting the arrival of the
magistrates in a small room below stairs. The man was handcuffed,
and his hat was pulled forward over his eyes. It was easy to see,
though, by the whiteness of his countenance, and the constant
twitching of the muscles of his face, that he dreaded what was to
come. After a short interval, the magistrates and clerk were bowed
in by the house-surgeon and a couple of young men who smelt very
strong of tobacco-smoke--they were introduced as 'dressers'--and
after one magistrate had complained bitterly of the cold, and the
other of the absence of any news in the evening paper, it was
announced that the patient was prepared; and we were conducted to
the 'casualty ward' in which she was lying.

The dim light which burnt in the spacious room, increased rather
than diminished the ghastly appearance of the hapless creatures in
the beds, which were ranged in two long rows on either side. In
one bed, lay a child enveloped in bandages, with its body half-
consumed by fire; in another, a female, rendered hideous by some
dreadful accident, was wildly beating her clenched fists on the
coverlet, in pain; on a third, there lay stretched a young girl,
apparently in the heavy stupor often the immediate precursor of
death: her face was stained with blood, and her breast and arms
were bound up in folds of linen. Two or three of the beds were
empty, and their recent occupants were sitting beside them, but
with faces so wan, and eyes so bright and glassy, that it was
fearful to meet their gaze. On every face was stamped the
expression of anguish and suffering.

The object of the visit was lying at the upper end of the room.
She was a fine young woman of about two or three and twenty. Her
long black hair, which had been hastily cut from near the wounds on
her head, streamed over the pillow in jagged and matted locks. Her
face bore deep marks of the ill-usage she had received: her hand
was pressed upon her side, as if her chief pain were there; her
breathing was short and heavy; and it was plain to see that she was
dying fast. She murmured a few words in reply to the magistrate's
inquiry whether she was in great pain; and, having been raised on
the pillow by the nurse, looked vacantly upon the strange
countenances that surrounded her bed. The magistrate nodded to the
officer, to bring the man forward. He did so, and stationed him at
the bedside. The girl looked on with a wild and troubled
expression of face; but her sight was dim, and she did not know
him.

'Take off his hat,' said the magistrate. The officer did as he was
desired, and the man's features were disclosed.

The girl started up, with an energy quite preternatural; the fire
gleamed in her heavy eyes, and the blood rushed to her pale and
sunken cheeks. It was a convulsive effort. She fell back upon her
pillow, and covering her scarred and bruised face with her hands,
burst into tears. The man cast an anxious look towards her, but
otherwise appeared wholly unmoved. After a brief pause the nature
of the errand was explained, and the oath tendered.

'Oh, no, gentlemen,' said the girl, raising herself once more, and
folding her hands together; 'no, gentlemen, for God's sake! I did
it myself--it was nobody's fault--it was an accident. He didn't
hurt me; he wouldn't for all the world. Jack, dear Jack, you know
you wouldn't!'

Her sight was fast failing her, and her hand groped over the
bedclothes in search of his. Brute as the man was, he was not
prepared for this. He turned his face from the bed, and sobbed.
The girl's colour changed, and her breathing grew more difficult.
She was evidently dying.

'We respect the feelings which prompt you to this,' said the
gentleman who had spoken first, 'but let me warn you, not to
persist in what you know to be untrue, until it is too late. It
cannot save him.'

'Jack,' murmured the girl, laying her hand upon his arm, 'they
shall not persuade me to swear your life away. He didn't do it,
gentlemen. He never hurt me.' She grasped his arm tightly, and
added, in a broken whisper, 'I hope God Almighty will forgive me
all the wrong I have done, and the life I have led. God bless you,
Jack. Some kind gentleman take my love to my poor old father.
Five years ago, he said he wished I had died a child. Oh, I wish I
had! I wish I had!'

The nurse bent over the girl for a few seconds, and then drew the
sheet over her face. It covered a corpse.

CHAPTER VII--THE MISPLACED ATTACHMENT OF MR. JOHN DOUNCE

If we had to make a classification of society, there is a
particular kind of men whom we should immediately set down under
the head of 'Old Boys;' and a column of most extensive dimensions
the old boys would require. To what precise causes the rapid
advance of old-boy population is to be traced, we are unable to
determine. It would be an interesting and curious speculation,
but, as we have not sufficient space to devote to it here, we
simply state the fact that the numbers of the old boys have been
gradually augmenting within the last few years, and that they are
at this moment alarmingly on the increase.

Upon a general review of the subject, and without considering it
minutely in detail, we should be disposed to subdivide the old boys
into two distinct classes--the gay old boys, and the steady old
boys. The gay old boys, are paunchy old men in the disguise of
young ones, who frequent the Quadrant and Regent-street in the day-
time: the theatres (especially theatres under lady management) at
night; and who assume all the foppishness and levity of boys,
without the excuse of youth or inexperience. The steady old boys
are certain stout old gentlemen of clean appearance, who are always
to be seen in the same taverns, at the same hours every evening,
smoking and drinking in the same company.

There was once a fine collection of old boys to be seen round the
circular table at Offley's every night, between the hours of half-
past eight and half-past eleven. We have lost sight of them for
some time. There were, and may be still, for aught we know, two
splendid specimens in full blossom at the Rainbow Tavern in Fleet-
street, who always used to sit in the box nearest the fireplace,
and smoked long cherry-stick pipes which went under the table, with
the bowls resting on the floor. Grand old boys they were--fat,
red-faced, white-headed old fellows--always there--one on one side
the table, and the other opposite--puffing and drinking away in
great state. Everybody knew them, and it was supposed by some
people that they were both immortal.

Mr. John Dounce was an old boy of the latter class (we don't mean
immortal, but steady), a retired glove and braces maker, a widower,
resident with three daughters--all grown up, and all unmarried--in
Cursitor-street, Chancery-lane. He was a short, round, large-
faced, tubbish sort of man, with a broad-brimmed hat, and a square
coat; and had that grave, but confident, kind of roll, peculiar to
old boys in general. Regular as clockwork--breakfast at nine--
dress and tittivate a little--down to the Sir Somebody's Head--a
glass of ale and the paper--come back again, and take daughters out
for a walk--dinner at three--glass of grog and pipe--nap--tea--
little walk--Sir Somebody's Head again--capital house--delightful
evenings. There were Mr. Harris, the law-stationer, and Mr.
Jennings, the robe-maker (two jolly young fellows like himself),
and Jones, the barrister's clerk--rum fellow that Jones--capital
company--full of anecdote!--and there they sat every night till
just ten minutes before twelve, drinking their brandy-and-water,
and smoking their pipes, and telling stories, and enjoying
themselves with a kind of solemn joviality particularly edifying.

Sometimes Jones would propose a half-price visit to Drury Lane or
Covent Garden, to see two acts of a five-act play, and a new farce,
perhaps, or a ballet, on which occasions the whole four of them
went together: none of your hurrying and nonsense, but having
their brandy-and-water first, comfortably, and ordering a steak and
some oysters for their supper against they came back, and then
walking coolly into the pit, when the 'rush' had gone in, as all
sensible people do, and did when Mr. Dounce was a young man, except
when the celebrated Master Betty was at the height of his
popularity, and then, sir,--then--Mr. Dounce perfectly well
remembered getting a holiday from business; and going to the pit
doors at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, and waiting there, till
six in the afternoon, with some sandwiches in a pocket-handkerchief
and some wine in a phial; and fainting after all, with the heat and
fatigue, before the play began; in which situation he was lifted
out of the pit, into one of the dress boxes, sir, by five of the
finest women of that day, sir, who compassionated his situation and
administered restoratives, and sent a black servant, six foot high,
in blue and silver livery, next morning with their compliments, and
to know how he found himself, sir--by G-! Between the acts Mr.
Dounce and Mr. Harris, and Mr. Jennings, used to stand up, and look
round the house, and Jones--knowing fellow that Jones--knew
everybody--pointed out the fashionable and celebrated Lady So-and-
So in the boxes, at the mention of whose name Mr. Dounce, after
brushing up his hair, and adjusting his neckerchief, would inspect
the aforesaid Lady So-and-So through an immense glass, and remark,
either, that she was a 'fine woman--very fine woman, indeed,' or
that 'there might be a little more of her, eh, Jones?' Just as the
case might happen to be. When the dancing began, John Dounce and
the other old boys were particularly anxious to see what was going
forward on the stage, and Jones--wicked dog that Jones--whispered
little critical remarks into the ears of John Dounce, which John
Dounce retailed to Mr. Harris and Mr. Harris to Mr. Jennings; and
then they all four laughed, until the tears ran down out of their
eyes.

When the curtain fell, they walked back together, two and two, to
the steaks and oysters; and when they came to the second glass of
brandy-and-water, Jones--hoaxing scamp, that Jones--used to recount
how he had observed a lady in white feathers, in one of the pit
boxes, gazing intently on Mr. Dounce all the evening, and how he
had caught Mr. Dounce, whenever he thought no one was looking at
him, bestowing ardent looks of intense devotion on the lady in
return; on which Mr. Harris and Mr. Jennings used to laugh very
heartily, and John Dounce more heartily than either of them,
acknowledging, however, that the time HAD been when he MIGHT have
done such things; upon which Mr. Jones used to poke him in the
ribs, and tell him he had been a sad dog in his time, which John
Dounce with chuckles confessed. And after Mr. Harris and Mr.
Jennings had preferred their claims to the character of having been
sad dogs too, they separated harmoniously, and trotted home.

The decrees of Fate, and the means by which they are brought about,
are mysterious and inscrutable. John Dounce had led this life for
twenty years and upwards, without wish for change, or care for
variety, when his whole social system was suddenly upset and turned
completely topsy-turvy--not by an earthquake, or some other
dreadful convulsion of nature, as the reader would be inclined to
suppose, but by the simple agency of an oyster; and thus it
happened.

Mr. John Dounce was returning one night from the Sir Somebody's
Head, to his residence in Cursitor-street--not tipsy, but rather
excited, for it was Mr. Jennings's birthday, and they had had a
brace of partridges for supper, and a brace of extra glasses
afterwards, and Jones had been more than ordinarily amusing--when
his eyes rested on a newly-opened oyster-shop, on a magnificent
scale, with natives laid, one deep, in circular marble basins in
the windows, together with little round barrels of oysters directed
to Lords and Baronets, and Colonels and Captains, in every part of
the habitable globe.

Behind the natives were the barrels, and behind the barrels was a
young lady of about five-and-twenty, all in blue, and all alone--
splendid creature, charming face and lovely figure! It is
difficult to say whether Mr. John Dounce's red countenance,
illuminated as it was by the flickering gas-light in the window
before which he paused, excited the lady's risibility, or whether a
natural exuberance of animal spirits proved too much for that
staidness of demeanour which the forms of society rather
dictatorially prescribe. But certain it is, that the lady smiled;
then put her finger upon her lip, with a striking recollection of
what was due to herself; and finally retired, in oyster-like
bashfulness, to the very back of the counter. The sad-dog sort of
feeling came strongly upon John Dounce: he lingered--the lady in
blue made no sign. He coughed--still she came not. He entered the
shop.

'Can you open me an oyster, my dear?' said Mr. John Dounce.

'Dare say I can, sir,' replied the lady in blue, with playfulness.
And Mr. John Dounce eat one oyster, and then looked at the young
lady, and then eat another, and then squeezed the young lady's hand
as she was opening the third, and so forth, until he had devoured a
dozen of those at eightpence in less than no time.

'Can you open me half-a-dozen more, my dear?' inquired Mr. John
Dounce.

'I'll see what I can do for you, sir,' replied the young lady in
blue, even more bewitchingly than before; and Mr. John Dounce eat
half-a-dozen more of those at eightpence.

'You couldn't manage to get me a glass of brandy-and-water, my
dear, I suppose?' said Mr. John Dounce, when he had finished the
oysters: in a tone which clearly implied his supposition that she
could.

'I'll see, sir,' said the young lady: and away she ran out of the
shop, and down the street, her long auburn ringlets shaking in the
wind in the most enchanting manner; and back she came again,
tripping over the coal-cellar lids like a whipping-top, with a
tumbler of brandy-and-water, which Mr. John Dounce insisted on her
taking a share of, as it was regular ladies' grog--hot, strong,
sweet, and plenty of it.

So, the young lady sat down with Mr. John Dounce, in a little red
box with a green curtain, and took a small sip of the brandy-and-
water, and a small look at Mr. John Dounce, and then turned her
head away, and went through various other serio-pantomimic
fascinations, which forcibly reminded Mr. John Dounce of the first
time he courted his first wife, and which made him feel more
affectionate than ever; in pursuance of which affection, and
actuated by which feeling, Mr. John Dounce sounded the young lady
on her matrimonial engagements, when the young lady denied having
formed any such engagements at all--she couldn't abear the men,
they were such deceivers; thereupon Mr. John Dounce inquired
whether this sweeping condemnation was meant to include other than
very young men; on which the young lady blushed deeply--at least
she turned away her head, and said Mr. John Dounce had made her
blush, so of course she DID blush--and Mr. John Dounce was a long
time drinking the brandy-and-water; and, at last, John Dounce went
home to bed, and dreamed of his first wife, and his second wife,
and the young lady, and partridges, and oysters, and brandy-and-
water, and disinterested attachments.

The next morning, John Dounce was rather feverish with the extra
brandy-and-water of the previous night; and, partly in the hope of
cooling himself with an oyster, and partly with the view of
ascertaining whether he owed the young lady anything, or not, went
back to the oyster-shop. If the young lady had appeared beautiful
by night, she was perfectly irresistible by day; and, from this
time forward, a change came over the spirit of John Dounce's dream.
He bought shirt-pins; wore a ring on his third finger; read poetry;
bribed a cheap miniature-painter to perpetrate a faint resemblance
to a youthful face, with a curtain over his head, six large books
in the background, and an open country in the distance (this he
called his portrait); 'went on' altogether in such an uproarious
manner, that the three Miss Dounces went off on small pensions, he
having made the tenement in Cursitor-street too warm to contain
them; and in short, comported and demeaned himself in every respect
like an unmitigated old Saracen, as he was.

As to his ancient friends, the other old boys, at the Sir
Somebody's Head, he dropped off from them by gradual degrees; for,
even when he did go there, Jones--vulgar fellow that Jones--
persisted in asking 'when it was to be?' and 'whether he was to
have any gloves?' together with other inquiries of an equally
offensive nature: at which not only Harris laughed, but Jennings
also; so, he cut the two, altogether, and attached himself solely
to the blue young lady at the smart oyster-shop.

Now comes the moral of the story--for it has a moral after all.
The last-mentioned young lady, having derived sufficient profit and
emolument from John Dounce's attachment, not only refused, when
matters came to a crisis, to take him for better for worse, but
expressly declared, to use her own forcible words, that she
'wouldn't have him at no price;' and John Dounce, having lost his
old friends, alienated his relations, and rendered himself
ridiculous to everybody, made offers successively to a
schoolmistress, a landlady, a feminine tobacconist, and a
housekeeper; and, being directly rejected by each and every of
them, was accepted by his cook, with whom he now lives, a henpecked
husband, a melancholy monument of antiquated misery, and a living
warning to all uxorious old boys.

CHAPTER VIII--THE MISTAKEN MILLINER. A TALE OF AMBITION

Miss Amelia Martin was pale, tallish, thin, and two-and-thirty--
what ill-natured people would call plain, and police reports
interesting. She was a milliner and dressmaker, living on her
business and not above it. If you had been a young lady in
service, and had wanted Miss Martin, as a great many young ladies
in service did, you would just have stepped up, in the evening, to
number forty-seven, Drummond-street, George-street, Euston-square,
and after casting your eye on a brass door-plate, one foot ten by
one and a half, ornamented with a great brass knob at each of the
four corners, and bearing the inscription 'Miss Martin; millinery
and dressmaking, in all its branches;' you'd just have knocked two
loud knocks at the street-door; and down would have come Miss
Martin herself, in a merino gown of the newest fashion, black
velvet bracelets on the genteelest principle, and other little
elegancies of the most approved description.

If Miss Martin knew the young lady who called, or if the young lady
who called had been recommended by any other young lady whom Miss
Martin knew, Miss Martin would forthwith show her up-stairs into
the two-pair front, and chat she would--SO kind, and SO
comfortable--it really wasn't like a matter of business, she was so
friendly; and, then Miss Martin, after contemplating the figure and
general appearance of the young lady in service with great apparent
admiration, would say how well she would look, to be sure, in a low
dress with short sleeves; made very full in the skirts, with four
tucks in the bottom; to which the young lady in service would reply
in terms expressive of her entire concurrence in the notion, and of
the virtuous indignation with which she reflected on the tyranny of
'Missis,' who wouldn't allow a young girl to wear a short sleeve of
an arternoon--no, nor nothing smart, not even a pair of ear-rings;
let alone hiding people's heads of hair under them frightful caps.
At the termination of this complaint, Miss Amelia Martin would
distantly suggest certain dark suspicions that some people were
jealous on account of their own daughters, and were obliged to keep
their servants' charms under, for fear they should get married
first, which was no uncommon circumstance--leastways she had known
two or three young ladies in service, who had married a great deal
better than their missises, and THEY were not very good-looking
either; and then the young lady would inform Miss Martin, in
confidence, that how one of their young ladies was engaged to a
young man and was a-going to be married, and Missis was so proud
about it there was no bearing of her; but how she needn't hold her
head quite so high neither, for, after all, he was only a clerk.
And, after expressing due contempt for clerks in general, and the
engaged clerk in particular, and the highest opinion possible of
themselves and each other, Miss Martin and the young lady in
service would bid each other good night, in a friendly but
perfectly genteel manner: and the one went back to her 'place,'
and the other, to her room on the second-floor front.

There is no saying how long Miss Amelia Martin might have continued
this course of life; how extensive a connection she might have
established among young ladies in service; or what amount her
demands upon their quarterly receipts might have ultimately
attained, had not an unforeseen train of circumstances directed her
thoughts to a sphere of action very different from dressmaking or
millinery.

A friend of Miss Martin's who had long been keeping company with an
ornamental painter and decorator's journeyman, at last consented
(on being at last asked to do so) to name the day which would make
the aforesaid journeyman a happy husband. It was a Monday that was
appointed for the celebration of the nuptials, and Miss Amelia
Martin was invited, among others, to honour the wedding-dinner with
her presence. It was a charming party; Somers-town the locality,
and a front parlour the apartment. The ornamental painter and
decorator's journeyman had taken a house--no lodgings nor vulgarity
of that kind, but a house--four beautiful rooms, and a delightful
little washhouse at the end of the passage--which was the most
convenient thing in the world, for the bridesmaids could sit in the
front parlour and receive the company, and then run into the little
washhouse and see how the pudding and boiled pork were getting on
in the copper, and then pop back into the parlour again, as snug
and comfortable as possible. And such a parlour as it was!
Beautiful Kidderminster carpet--six bran-new cane-bottomed stained
chairs--three wine-glasses and a tumbler on each sideboard--
farmer's girl and farmer's boy on the mantelpiece: girl tumbling
over a stile, and boy spitting himself, on the handle of a
pitchfork--long white dimity curtains in the window--and, in short,
everything on the most genteel scale imaginable.

Then, the dinner. There was baked leg of mutton at the top, boiled
leg of mutton at the bottom, pair of fowls and leg of pork in the
middle; porter-pots at the corners; pepper, mustard, and vinegar in
the centre; vegetables on the floor; and plum-pudding and apple-pie
and tartlets without number: to say nothing of cheese, and celery,
and water-cresses, and all that sort of thing. As to the Company!
Miss Amelia Martin herself declared, on a subsequent occasion,
that, much as she had heard of the ornamental painter's
journeyman's connexion, she never could have supposed it was half
so genteel. There was his father, such a funny old gentleman--and
his mother, such a dear old lady--and his sister, such a charming
girl--and his brother, such a manly-looking young man--with such a
eye! But even all these were as nothing when compared with his
musical friends, Mr. and Mrs. Jennings Rodolph, from White Conduit,
with whom the ornamental painter's journeyman had been fortunate
enough to contract an intimacy while engaged in decorating the
concert-room of that noble institution. To hear them sing
separately, was divine, but when they went through the tragic duet
of 'Red Ruffian, retire!' it was, as Miss Martin afterwards
remarked, 'thrilling.' And why (as Mr. Jennings Rodolph observed)
why were they not engaged at one of the patent theatres? If he was
to be told that their voices were not powerful enough to fill the
House, his only reply was, that he would back himself for any
amount to fill Russell-square--a statement in which the company,
after hearing the duet, expressed their full belief; so they all
said it was shameful treatment; and both Mr. and Mrs. Jennings
Rodolph said it was shameful too; and Mr. Jennings Rodolph looked
very serious, and said he knew who his malignant opponents were,
but they had better take care how far they went, for if they
irritated him too much he had not quite made up his mind whether he
wouldn't bring the subject before Parliament; and they all agreed
that it ''ud serve 'em quite right, and it was very proper that
such people should be made an example of.' So Mr. Jennings Rodolph
said he'd think of it.

When the conversation resumed its former tone, Mr. Jennings Rodolph
claimed his right to call upon a lady, and the right being
conceded, trusted Miss Martin would favour the company--a proposal
which met with unanimous approbation, whereupon Miss Martin, after
sundry hesitatings and coughings, with a preparatory choke or two,
and an introductory declaration that she was frightened to death to
attempt it before such great judges of the art, commenced a species
of treble chirruping containing frequent allusions to some young
gentleman of the name of Hen-e-ry, with an occasional reference to
madness and broken hearts. Mr. Jennings Rodolph frequently
interrupted the progress of the song, by ejaculating 'Beautiful!'--
'Charming!'--'Brilliant!'--'Oh! splendid,' &c.; and at its close
the admiration of himself, and his lady, knew no bounds.

'Did you ever hear so sweet a voice, my dear?' inquired Mr.
Jennings Rodolph of Mrs. Jennings Rodolph.

'Never; indeed I never did, love,' replied Mrs. Jennings Rodolph.

'Don't you think Miss Martin, with a little cultivation, would be
very like Signora Marra Boni, my dear?' asked Mr. Jennings Rodolph.

'Just exactly the very thing that struck me, my love,' answered
Mrs. Jennings Rodolph.

And thus the time passed away; Mr. Jennings Rodolph played tunes on
a walking-stick, and then went behind the parlour-door and gave his
celebrated imitations of actors, edge-tools, and animals; Miss
Martin sang several other songs with increased admiration every
time; and even the funny old gentleman began singing. His song had
properly seven verses, but as he couldn't recollect more than the
first one, he sang that over seven times, apparently very much to
his own personal gratification. And then all the company sang the
national anthem with national independence--each for himself,
without reference to the other--and finally separated: all
declaring that they never had spent so pleasant an evening: and
Miss Martin inwardly resolving to adopt the advice of Mr. Jennings
Rodolph, and to 'come out' without delay.

Now, 'coming out,' either in acting, or singing, or society, or
facetiousness, or anything else, is all very well, and remarkably
pleasant to the individual principally concerned, if he or she can
but manage to come out with a burst, and being out, to keep out,
and not go in again; but, it does unfortunately happen that both
consummations are extremely difficult to accomplish, and that the
difficulties, of getting out at all in the first instance, and if
you surmount them, of keeping out in the second, are pretty much on
a par, and no slight ones either--and so Miss Amelia Martin shortly
discovered. It is a singular fact (there being ladies in the case)
that Miss Amelia Martin's principal foible was vanity, and the
leading characteristic of Mrs. Jennings Rodolph an attachment to
dress. Dismal wailings were heard to issue from the second-floor
front of number forty-seven, Drummond-street, George-street,
Euston-square; it was Miss Martin practising. Half-suppressed
murmurs disturbed the calm dignity of the White Conduit orchestra
at the commencement of the season. It was the appearance of Mrs.
Jennings Rodolph in full dress, that occasioned them. Miss Martin
studied incessantly--the practising was the consequence. Mrs.
Jennings Rodolph taught gratuitously now and then--the dresses were
the result.

Weeks passed away; the White Conduit season had begun, and
progressed, and was more than half over. The dressmaking business
had fallen off, from neglect; and its profits had dwindled away
almost imperceptibly. A benefit-night approached; Mr. Jennings
Rodolph yielded to the earnest solicitations of Miss Amelia Martin,
and introduced her personally to the 'comic gentleman' whose
benefit it was. The comic gentleman was all smiles and blandness--
he had composed a duet, expressly for the occasion, and Miss Martin
should sing it with him. The night arrived; there was an immense
room--ninety-seven sixpenn'orths of gin-and-water, thirty-two small
glasses of brandy-and-water, five-and-twenty bottled ales, and
forty-one neguses; and the ornamental painter's journeyman, with
his wife and a select circle of acquaintance, were seated at one of
the side-tables near the orchestra. The concert began. Song--
sentimental--by a light-haired young gentleman in a blue coat, and
bright basket buttons--[applause]. Another song, doubtful, by
another gentleman in another blue coat and more bright basket
buttons--[increased applause]. Duet, Mr. Jennings Rodolph, and
Mrs. Jennings Rodolph, 'Red Ruffian, retire!'--[great applause].
Solo, Miss Julia Montague (positively on this occasion only)--'I am
a Friar'--[enthusiasm]. Original duet, comic--Mr. H. Taplin (the
comic gentleman) and Miss Martin--'The Time of Day.' 'Brayvo!--
Brayvo!' cried the ornamental painter's journeyman's party, as Miss
Martin was gracefully led in by the comic gentleman. 'Go to work,
Harry,' cried the comic gentleman's personal friends. 'Tap-tap-
tap,' went the leader's bow on the music-desk. The symphony began,
and was soon afterwards followed by a faint kind of ventriloquial
chirping, proceeding apparently from the deepest recesses of the
interior of Miss Amelia Martin. 'Sing out'--shouted one gentleman
in a white great-coat. 'Don't be afraid to put the steam on, old
gal,' exclaimed another, 'S-s-s-s-s-s-s'-went the five-and-twenty
bottled ales. 'Shame, shame!' remonstrated the ornamental
painter's journeyman's party--'S-s-s-s' went the bottled ales
again, accompanied by all the gins, and a majority of the brandies.

'Turn them geese out,' cried the ornamental painter's journeyman's
party, with great indignation.

'Sing out,' whispered Mr. Jennings Rodolph.

'So I do,' responded Miss Amelia Martin.

'Sing louder,' said Mrs. Jennings Rodolph.

'I can't,' replied Miss Amelia Martin.

'Off, off, off,' cried the rest of the audience.

'Bray-vo!' shouted the painter's party. It wouldn't do--Miss
Amelia Martin left the orchestra, with much less ceremony than she
had entered it; and, as she couldn't sing out, never came out. The
general good humour was not restored until Mr. Jennings Rodolph had
become purple in the face, by imitating divers quadrupeds for half
an hour, without being able to render himself audible; and, to this
day, neither has Miss Amelia Martin's good humour been restored,
nor the dresses made for and presented to Mrs. Jennings Rodolph,
nor the local abilities which Mr. Jennings Rodolph once staked his
professional reputation that Miss Martin possessed.

CHAPTER IX--THE DANCING ACADEMY

Of all the dancing academies that ever were established, there
never was one more popular in its immediate vicinity than Signor
Billsmethi's, of the 'King's Theatre.' It was not in Spring-
gardens, or Newman-street, or Berners-street, or Gower-street, or
Charlotte-street, or Percy-street, or any other of the numerous
streets which have been devoted time out of mind to professional
people, dispensaries, and boarding-houses; it was not in the West-
end at all--it rather approximated to the eastern portion of
London, being situated in the populous and improving neighbourhood
of Gray's-inn-lane. It was not a dear dancing academy--four-and-
sixpence a quarter is decidedly cheap upon the whole. It was VERY
select, the number of pupils being strictly limited to seventy-
five, and a quarter's payment in advance being rigidly exacted.
There was public tuition and private tuition--an assembly-room and
a parlour. Signor Billsmethi's family were always thrown in with
the parlour, and included in parlour price; that is to say, a
private pupil had Signor Billsmethi's parlour to dance IN, and
Signor Billsmethi's family to dance WITH; and when he had been
sufficiently broken in in the parlour, he began to run in couples
in the assembly-room.

Such was the dancing academy of Signor Billsmethi, when Mr.
Augustus Cooper, of Fetter-lane, first saw an unstamped
advertisement walking leisurely down Holborn-hill, announcing to
the world that Signor Billsmethi, of the King's Theatre, intended
opening for the season with a Grand Ball.

Now, Mr. Augustus Cooper was in the oil and colour line--just of
age, with a little money, a little business, and a little mother,
who, having managed her husband and HIS business in his lifetime,
took to managing her son and HIS business after his decease; and
so, somehow or other, he had been cooped up in the little back
parlour behind the shop on week-days, and in a little deal box
without a lid (called by courtesy a pew) at Bethel Chapel, on
Sundays, and had seen no more of the world than if he had been an
infant all his days; whereas Young White, at the gas-fitter's over
the way, three years younger than him, had been flaring away like
winkin'--going to the theatre--supping at harmonic meetings--eating
oysters by the barrel--drinking stout by the gallon--even out all
night, and coming home as cool in the morning as if nothing had
happened. So Mr. Augustus Cooper made up his mind that he would
not stand it any longer, and had that very morning expressed to his
mother a firm determination to be 'blowed,' in the event of his not
being instantly provided with a street-door key. And he was
walking down Holborn-hill, thinking about all these things, and
wondering how he could manage to get introduced into genteel
society for the first time, when his eyes rested on Signor
Billsmethi's announcement, which it immediately struck him was just
the very thing he wanted; for he should not only be able to select
a genteel circle of acquaintance at once, out of the five-and-
seventy pupils at four-and-sixpence a quarter, but should qualify
himself at the same time to go through a hornpipe in private
society, with perfect ease to himself and great delight to his
friends. So, he stopped the unstamped advertisement--an animated
sandwich, composed of a boy between two boards--and having procured
a very small card with the Signor's address indented thereon,
walked straight at once to the Signor's house--and very fast he
walked too, for fear the list should be filled up, and the five-
and-seventy completed, before he got there. The Signor was at
home, and, what was still more gratifying, he was an Englishman!
Such a nice man--and so polite! The list was not full, but it was
a most extraordinary circumstance that there was only just one
vacancy, and even that one would have been filled up, that very
morning, only Signor Billsmethi was dissatisfied with the
reference, and, being very much afraid that the lady wasn't select,
wouldn't take her.

'And very much delighted I am, Mr. Cooper,' said Signor Billsmethi,
'that I did NOT take her. I assure you, Mr. Cooper--I don't say it
to flatter you, for I know you're above it--that I consider myself
extremely fortunate in having a gentleman of your manners and
appearance, sir.'

'I am very glad of it too, sir,' said Augustus Cooper.

'And I hope we shall be better acquainted, sir,' said Signor
Billsmethi.

'And I'm sure I hope we shall too, sir,' responded Augustus Cooper.
Just then, the door opened, and in came a young lady, with her hair
curled in a crop all over her head, and her shoes tied in sandals
all over her ankles.

'Don't run away, my dear,' said Signor Billsmethi; for the young
lady didn't know Mr. Cooper was there when she ran in, and was
going to run out again in her modesty, all in confusion-like.
'Don't run away, my dear,' said Signor Billsmethi, 'this is Mr.
Cooper--Mr. Cooper, of Fetter-lane. Mr. Cooper, my daughter, sir--
Miss Billsmethi, sir, who I hope will have the pleasure of dancing
many a quadrille, minuet, gavotte, country-dance, fandango, double-
hornpipe, and farinagholkajingo with you, sir. She dances them
all, sir; and so shall you, sir, before you're a quarter older,
sir.'

And Signor Bellsmethi slapped Mr. Augustus Cooper on the back, as
if he had known him a dozen years,--so friendly;--and Mr. Cooper
bowed to the young lady, and the young lady curtseyed to him, and
Signor Billsmethi said they were as handsome a pair as ever he'd
wish to see; upon which the young lady exclaimed, 'Lor, pa!' and
blushed as red as Mr. Cooper himself--you might have thought they
were both standing under a red lamp at a chemist's shop; and before
Mr. Cooper went away it was settled that he should join the family
circle that very night--taking them just as they were--no ceremony
nor nonsense of that kind--and learn his positions in order that he
might lose no time, and be able to come out at the forthcoming
ball.

Well; Mr. Augustus Cooper went away to one of the cheap shoemakers'
shops in Holborn, where gentlemen's dress-pumps are seven-and-
sixpence, and men's strong walking just nothing at all, and bought
a pair of the regular seven-and-sixpenny, long-quartered, town-
mades, in which he astonished himself quite as much as his mother,
and sallied forth to Signor Billsmethi's. There were four other
private pupils in the parlour: two ladies and two gentlemen. Such
nice people! Not a bit of pride about them. One of the ladies in
particular, who was in training for a Columbine, was remarkably
affable; and she and Miss Billsmethi took such an interest in Mr.
Augustus Cooper, and joked, and smiled, and looked so bewitching,
that he got quite at home, and learnt his steps in no time. After
the practising was over, Signor Billsmethi, and Miss Billsmethi,
and Master Billsmethi, and a young lady, and the two ladies, and
the two gentlemen, danced a quadrille--none of your slipping and
sliding about, but regular warm work, flying into corners, and
diving among chairs, and shooting out at the door,--something like
dancing! Signor Billsmethi in particular, notwithstanding his
having a little fiddle to play all the time, was out on the landing
every figure, and Master Billsmethi, when everybody else was
breathless, danced a hornpipe, with a cane in his hand, and a
cheese-plate on his head, to the unqualified admiration of the
whole company. Then, Signor Billsmethi insisted, as they were so
happy, that they should all stay to supper, and proposed sending
Master Billsmethi for the beer and spirits, whereupon the two
gentlemen swore, 'strike 'em wulgar if they'd stand that;' and were
just going to quarrel who should pay for it, when Mr. Augustus
Cooper said he would, if they'd have the kindness to allow him--and
they HAD the kindness to allow him; and Master Billsmethi brought
the beer in a can, and the rum in a quart pot. They had a regular
night of it; and Miss Billsmethi squeezed Mr. Augustus Cooper's
hand under the table; and Mr. Augustus Cooper returned the squeeze,
and returned home too, at something to six o'clock in the morning,
when he was put to bed by main force by the apprentice, after
repeatedly expressing an uncontrollable desire to pitch his revered
parent out of the second-floor window, and to throttle the
apprentice with his own neck-handkerchief.

Weeks had worn on, and the seven-and-sixpenny town-mades had nearly
worn out, when the night arrived for the grand dress-ball at which
the whole of the five-and-seventy pupils were to meet together, for
the first time that season, and to take out some portion of their
respective four-and-sixpences in lamp-oil and fiddlers. Mr.
Augustus Cooper had ordered a new coat for the occasion--a two-
pound-tenner from Turnstile. It was his first appearance in
public; and, after a grand Sicilian shawl-dance by fourteen young
ladies in character, he was to open the quadrille department with
Miss Billsmethi herself, with whom he had become quite intimate
since his first introduction. It WAS a night! Everything was
admirably arranged. The sandwich-boy took the hats and bonnets at
the street-door; there was a turn-up bedstead in the back parlour,
on which Miss Billsmethi made tea and coffee for such of the
gentlemen as chose to pay for it, and such of the ladies as the
gentlemen treated; red port-wine negus and lemonade were handed
round at eighteen-pence a head; and in pursuance of a previous
engagement with the public-house at the corner of the street, an
extra potboy was laid on for the occasion. In short, nothing could
exceed the arrangements, except the company. Such ladies! Such
pink silk stockings! Such artificial flowers! Such a number of
cabs! No sooner had one cab set down a couple of ladies, than
another cab drove up and set down another couple of ladies, and
they all knew: not only one another, but the majority of the
gentlemen into the bargain, which made it all as pleasant and
lively as could be. Signor Billsmethi, in black tights, with a
large blue bow in his buttonhole, introduced the ladies to such of
the gentlemen as were strangers: and the ladies talked away--and
laughed they did--it was delightful to see them.

As to the shawl-dance, it was the most exciting thing that ever was
beheld; there was such a whisking, and rustling, and fanning, and
getting ladies into a tangle with artificial flowers, and then
disentangling them again! And as to Mr. Augustus Cooper's share in
the quadrille, he got through it admirably. He was missing from
his partner, now and then, certainly, and discovered on such
occasions to be either dancing with laudable perseverance in
another set, or sliding about in perspective, without any definite
object; but, generally speaking, they managed to shove him through
the figure, until he turned up in the right place. Be this as it
may, when he had finished, a great many ladies and gentlemen came
up and complimented him very much, and said they had never seen a
beginner do anything like it before; and Mr. Augustus Cooper was
perfectly satisfied with himself, and everybody else into the
bargain; and 'stood' considerable quantities of spirits-and-water,
negus, and compounds, for the use and behoof of two or three dozen
very particular friends, selected from the select circle of five-
and-seventy pupils.

Now, whether it was the strength of the compounds, or the beauty of
the ladies, or what not, it did so happen that Mr. Augustus Cooper
encouraged, rather than repelled, the very flattering attentions of
a young lady in brown gauze over white calico who had appeared
particularly struck with him from the first; and when the
encouragements had been prolonged for some time, Miss Billsmethi
betrayed her spite and jealousy thereat by calling the young lady
in brown gauze a 'creeter,' which induced the young lady in brown
gauze to retort, in certain sentences containing a taunt founded on
the payment of four-and-sixpence a quarter, which reference Mr.
Augustus Cooper, being then and there in a state of considerable
bewilderment, expressed his entire concurrence in. Miss
Billsmethi, thus renounced, forthwith began screaming in the
loudest key of her voice, at the rate of fourteen screams a minute;
and being unsuccessful, in an onslaught on the eyes and face, first
of the lady in gauze and then of Mr. Augustus Cooper, called
distractedly on the other three-and-seventy pupils to furnish her
with oxalic acid for her own private drinking; and, the call not
being honoured, made another rush at Mr. Cooper, and then had her
stay-lace cut, and was carried off to bed. Mr. Augustus Cooper,
not being remarkable for quickness of apprehension, was at a loss
to understand what all this meant, until Signor Billsmethi
explained it in a most satisfactory manner, by stating to the
pupils, that Mr. Augustus Cooper had made and confirmed divers
promises of marriage to his daughter on divers occasions, and had
now basely deserted her; on which, the indignation of the pupils
became universal; and as several chivalrous gentlemen inquired
rather pressingly of Mr. Augustus Cooper, whether he required
anything for his own use, or, in other words, whether he 'wanted
anything for himself,' he deemed it prudent to make a precipitate
retreat. And the upshot of the matter was, that a lawyer's letter
came next day, and an action was commenced next week; and that Mr.
Augustus Cooper, after walking twice to the Serpentine for the
purpose of drowning himself, and coming twice back without doing
it, made a confidante of his mother, who compromised the matter
with twenty pounds from the till: which made twenty pounds four
shillings and sixpence paid to Signor Billsmethi, exclusive of
treats and pumps. And Mr. Augustus Cooper went back and lived with
his mother, and there he lives to this day; and as he has lost his
ambition for society, and never goes into the world, he will never
see this account of himself, and will never be any the wiser.

CHAPTER X--SHABBY-GENTEEL PEOPLE

There are certain descriptions of people who, oddly enough, appear
to appertain exclusively to the metropolis. You meet them, every
day, in the streets of London, but no one ever encounters them
elsewhere; they seem indigenous to the soil, and to belong as
exclusively to London as its own smoke, or the dingy bricks and
mortar. We could illustrate the remark by a variety of examples,
but, in our present sketch, we will only advert to one class as a
specimen--that class which is so aptly and expressively designated

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