THE BOOK OF SNOBS
By One Of Themselves
(William Makepeace Thackeray)
(The necessity of a work on Snobs, demonstrated from History, and proved by felicitous illustrations:—I am the individual destined to write that work—My vocation is announced in terms of great eloquence—I show that the world has been gradually preparing itself for the WORK and the MAN—Snobs are to be studied like other objects of Natural Science, and are a part of the Beautiful (with a large B). They pervade all classes—Affecting instance of Colonel Snobley.)
We have all read a statement, (the authenticity of which I take leave to doubt entirely, for upon what calculations I should like to know is it founded?)—we have all, I say, been favoured by perusing a remark, that when the times and necessities of the world call for a Man, that individual is found. Thus at the French Revolution (which the reader will be pleased to have introduced so early), when it was requisite to administer a corrective dose to the nation, Robespierre was found; a most foul and nauseous dose indeed, and swallowed eagerly by the patient, greatly to the latter's ultimate advantage: thus, when it became necessary to kick John Bull out of America, Mr. Washington stepped forward, and performed that job to satisfaction: thus, when the Earl of Aldborough was unwell, Professor Holloway appeared with his pills, and cured his lordship, as per advertisement, &c. &c.. Numberless instances might be adduced to show that when a nation is in great want, the relief is at hand; just as in the Pantomime (that microcosm) where when CLOWN wants anything—a warming-pan, a pump-handle, a goose, or a lady's tippet—a fellow comes sauntering out from behind the side-scenes with the very article in question.
Again, when men commence an undertaking, they always are prepared to show that the absolute necessities of the world demanded its completion.—Say it is a railroad: the directors begin by stating that 'A more intimate communication between Bathershins and Derrynane Beg is necessary for the advancement of civilization, and demanded by the multitudinous acclamations of the great Irish people.' Or suppose it is a newspaper: the prospectus states that 'At a time when the Church is in danger, threatened from without by savage fanaticism and miscreant unbelief, and undermined from within by dangerous Jesuitism, and suicidal Schism, a Want has been universally felt—a suffering people has looked abroad—for an Ecclesiastical Champion and Guardian. A body of Prelates and Gentlemen have therefore stepped forward in this our hour of danger, and determined on establishing the BEADLE newspaper,' &c. &c. One or other of these points at least is incontrovertible: the public wants a thing, therefore it is supplied with it; or the public is supplied with a thing, therefore it wants it.
I have long gone about with a conviction on my mind that I had a work to do—a Work, if you like, with a great W; a Purpose to fulfil; a chasm to leap into, like Curtius, horse and foot; a Great Social Evil to Discover and to Remedy. That Conviction Has Pursued me for Years. It has Dogged me in the Busy Street; Seated Itself By Me in The Lonely Study; Jogged My Elbow as it Lifted the Wine-cup at The Festive Board; Pursued me through the Maze of Rotten Row; Followed me in Far Lands. On Brighton's Shingly Beach, or Margate's Sand, the Voice Outpiped the Roaring of the Sea; it Nestles in my Nightcap, and It Whispers, 'Wake, Slumberer, thy Work Is Not Yet Done.' Last Year, By Moonlight, in the Colosseum, the Little Sedulous Voice Came To Me and Said, 'Smith, or Jones' (The Writer's Name is Neither Here nor There), 'Smith or Jones, my fine fellow, this is all very well, but you ought to be at home writing your great work on SNOBS.
When a man has this sort of vocation it is all nonsense attempting to elude it. He must speak out to the nations; he must unbusm himself, as Jeames would say, or choke and die. 'Mark to yourself,' I have often mentally exclaimed to your humble servant, 'the gradual way in which you have been prepared for, and are now led by an irresistible necessity to enter upon your great labour. First, the World was made: then, as a matter of course, Snobs; they existed for years and years, and were no more known than America. But presently,—INGENS PATEBAT TELLUS,—the people became darkly aware that there was such a race. Not above five-and-twenty years since, a name, an expressive monosyllable, arose to designate that race. That name has spread over England like railroads subsequently; Snobs are known and recognized throughout an Empire on which I am given to understand the Sun never sets. PUNCH appears at the ripe season, to chronicle their history: and the individual comes forth to write that history in PUNCH.'
I have (and for this gift I congratulate myself with Deep and Abiding Thankfulness) an eye for a Snob. If the Truthful is the Beautiful, it is Beautiful to study even the Snobbish; to track Snobs through history, as certain little dogs in Hampshire hunt out truffles; to sink shafts in society and come upon rich veins of Snobore. Snobbishness is like Death in a quotation from Horace, which I hope you never have heard, 'beating with equal foot at poor men's doors, and kicking at the gates of Emperors.' It is a great mistake to judge of Snobs lightly, and think they exist among the lower classes merely. An immense percentage of Snobs, I believe, is to be found in every rank of this mortal life. You must not judge hastily or vulgarly of Snobs: to do so shows that you are yourself a Snob. I myself have been taken for one.
When I was taking the waters at Bagnigge Wells, and living at the 'Imperial Hotel' there, there used to sit opposite me at breakfast, for a short time, a Snob so insufferable that I felt I should never get any benefit of the waters so long as he remained. His name was Lieutenant-Colonel Snobley, of a certain dragoon regiment. He wore japanned boots and moustaches: he lisped, drawled, and left the 'r's' out of his words: he was always flourishing about, and smoothing his lacquered whiskers with a huge flaming bandanna, that filled the room with an odour of musk so stifling that I determined to do battle with that Snob, and that either he or I should quit the Inn. I first began harmless conversations with him; frightening him exceedingly, for he did not know what to do when so attacked, and had never the slightest notion that anybody would take such a liberty with him as to speak first: then I handed him the paper: then, as he would take no notice of these advances, I used to look him in the face steadily and—and use my fork in the light of a toothpick. After two mornings of this practice, he could bear it no longer, and fairly quitted the place.
Should the Colonel see this, will he remember the Gent who asked him if he thought Publicoaler was a fine writer, and drove him from the Hotel with a four-pronged fork?
CHAPTER I—THE SNOB PLAYFULLY DEALT WITH
There are relative and positive Snobs. I mean by positive, such persons as are Snobs everywhere, in all companies, from morning till night, from youth to the grave, being by Nature endowed with Snobbishness—and others who are Snobs only in certain circumstances and relations of life.
For instance: I once knew a man who committed before me an act as atrocious as that which I have indicated in the last chapter as performed by me for the purpose of disgusting Colonel Snobley; viz, the using the fork in the guise of a toothpick. I once, I say, knew a man who, dining in my company at the 'Europa Coffee-house,' (opposite the Grand Opera, and, as everybody knows, the only decent place for dining at Naples,) ate peas with the assistance of his knife. He was a person with whose society I was greatly pleased at first—indeed, we had met in the crater of Mount Vesuvius, and were subsequently robbed and held to ransom by brigands in Calabria, which is nothing to the purpose—a man of great powers, excellent heart, and varied information; but I had never before seen him with a dish of pease, and his conduct in regard to them caused me the deepest pain.
After having seen him thus publicly comport himself, but one course was open to me—to cut his acquaintance. I commissioned a mutual friend (the Honourable Poly Anthus) to break the matter to this gentleman as delicately as possible, and to say that painful circumstances—in nowise affecting Mr. Marrowfat's honour, or my esteem for him—had occurred, which obliged me to forego my intimacy with him; and accordingly we met and gave each other the cut direct that night at the Duchess of Monte Fiasco's ball.
Everybody at Naples remarked the separation of the Damon and Pythias—indeed, Marrowfat had saved my life more than once—but, as an English gentleman, what was I to do?
My dear friend was, in this instance, the Snob RELATIVE. It is not snobbish of persons of rank of any other nation to employ their knife in the manner alluded to. I have seen Monte Fiasco clean his trencher with his knife, and every Principe in company doing likewise. I have seen, at the hospitable board of H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Stephanie of Baden—(who, if these humble lines should come under her Imperial eyes, is besought to remember graciously the most devoted of her servants)—I have seen, I say, the Hereditary Princess of Potztausend-Donnerwetter (that serenely-beautiful woman) use her knife in lieu of a fork or spoon; I have seen her almost swallow it, by Jove! like Ramo Samee, the Indian juggler. And did I blench? Did my estimation for the Princess diminish? No, lovely Amalia! One of the truest passions that ever was inspired by woman was raised in this bosom by that lady. Beautiful one! long, long may the knife carry food to those lips! the reddest and loveliest in the world!
The cause of my quarrel with Marrowfat I never breathed to mortal soul for four years. We met in the halls of the aristocracy—our friends and relatives. We jostled each other in the dance or at the board; but the estrangement continued, and seemed irrevocable, until the fourth of June, last year.
We met at Sir George Golloper's. We were placed, he on the right, your humble servant on the left of the admirable Lady G.. Peas formed part of the banquet—ducks and green peas. I trembled as I saw Marrowfat helped, and turned away sickening, lest I should behold the weapon darting down his horrid jaws.
What was my astonishment, what my delight, when I saw him use his fork like any other Christian! He did not administer the cold steel once. Old times rushed back upon me—the remembrance of old services—his rescuing me from the brigands—his gallant conduct in the affair with the Countess Dei Spinachi—his lending me the 1,700L. I almost burst into tears with joy—my voice trembled with emotion. 'George, my boy!' I exclaimed, 'George Marrowfat, my dear fellow! a glass of wine!'
Blushing—deeply moved—almost as tremulous as I was myself, George answered, 'FRANK, SHALL IT BE HOCK OR MADEIRA? I could have hugged him to my heart but for the presence of the company. Little did Lady Golloper know what was the cause of the emotion which sent the duckling I was carving into her ladyship's pink satin lap. The most good-natured of women pardoned the error, and the butler removed the bird.
We have been the closest friends over since, nor, of course, has George repeated his odious habit. He acquired it at a country school, where they cultivated peas and only used two-pronged forks, and it was only by living on the Continent where the usage of the four-prong is general, that he lost the horrible custom.
In this point—and in this only—I confess myself a member of the Silver-Fork School; and if this tale but induce one of my readers to pause, to examine in his own mind solemnly, and ask, 'Do I or do I not eat peas with a knife?'—to see the ruin which may fall upon himself by continuing the practice, or his family by beholding the example, these lines will not have been written in vain. And now, whatever other authors may be, I flatter myself, it will be allowed that I, at least, am a moral man.
By the way, as some readers are dull of comprehension, I may as well say what the moral of this history is. The moral is this—Society having ordained certain customs, men are bound to obey the law of society, and conform to its harmless orders.
If I should go to the British and Foreign Institute (and heaven forbid I should go under any pretext or in any costume whatever)—if I should go to one of the tea-parties in a dressing-gown and slippers, and not in the usual attire of a gentleman, viz, pumps, a gold waistcoat, a crush hat, a sham frill, and a white choker—I should be insulting society, and EATING PEASE WITH MY KNIFE. Let the porters of the Institute hustle out the individual who shall so offend. Such an offender is, as regards society, a most emphatical and refractory Snob. It has its code and police as well as governments, and he must conform who would profit by the decrees set forth for their common comfort.
I am naturally averse to egotism, and hate selflaudation consumedly; but I can't help relating here a circumstance illustrative of the point in question, in which I must think I acted with considerable prudence.
Being at Constantinople a few years since—(on a delicate mission),—the Russians were playing a double game, between ourselves, and it became necessary on our part to employ an EXTRA NEGOTIATOR—Leckerbiss Pasha of Roumelia, then Chief Galeongee of the Porte, gave a diplomatic banquet at his summer palace at Bujukdere. I was on the left of the Galeongee, and the Russian agent, Count de Diddloff, on his dexter side. Diddloff is a dandy who would die of a rose in aromatic pain: he had tried to have me assassinated three times in the course of the negotiation; but of course we were friends in public, and saluted each other in the most cordial and charming manner.
The Galeongee is—or was, alas! for a bow-string has done for him—a staunch supporter of the old school of Turkish politics. We dined with our fingers, and had flaps of bread for plates; the only innovation he admitted was the use of European liquors, in which he indulged with great gusto. He was an enormous eater. Amongst the dishes a very large one was placed before him of a lamb dressed in its wool, stuffed with prunes, garlic, assafoetida, capsicums, and other condiments, the most abominable mixture that ever mortal smelt or tasted. The Galeongee ate of this hugely; and pursuing the Eastern fashion, insisted on helping his friends right and left, and when he came to a particularly spicy morsel, would push it with his own hands into his guests' very mouths.
I never shall forget the look of poor Diddloff, when his Excellency, rolling up a large quantity of this into a ball and exclaiming, 'Buk Buk' (it is very good), administered the horrible bolus to Diddloff. The Russian's eyes rolled dreadfully as he received it: he swallowed it with a grimace that I thought must precede a convulsion, and seizing a bottle next him, which he thought was Sauterne, but which turned out to be French brandy, he drank off nearly a pint before he know his error. It finished him; he was carried away from the dining-room almost dead, and laid out to cool in a summer-house on the Bosphorus.
When it came to my turn, I took down the condiment with a smile, said 'Bismillah,' licked my lips with easy gratification, and when the next dish was served, made up a ball myself so dexterously, and popped it down the old Galeongee's mouth with so much grace, that his heart was won. Russia was put out of court at once and THE TREATY of Kabobanople WAS SIGNED. As for Diddloff, all was over with HIM: he was recalled to St. Petersburg, and Sir Roderick Murchison saw him, under the No. 3967, working in the Ural mines.
The moral of this tale, I need not say, is, that there are many disagreeable things in society which you are bound to take down, and to do so with a smiling face.
CHAPTER II—THE SNOB ROYAL
Long since at the commencement of the reign of her present Gracious Majesty, it chanced 'on a fair summer evening,' as Mr. James would say, that three or four young cavaliers were drinking a cup of wine after dinner at the hostelry called the 'King's Arms,' kept by Mistress Anderson, in the royal village of Kensington. 'Twas a balmy evening, and the wayfarers looked out on a cheerful scene. The tall elms of the ancient gardens were in full leaf, and countless chariots of the nobility of England whirled by to the neighbouring palace, where princely Sussex (whose income latterly only allowed him to give tea-parties) entertained his royal niece at a state banquet. When the caroches of the nobles had set down their owners at the banquethall, their varlets and servitors came to quaff a flagon of nut-brown ale in the 'King's Arms' gardens hard by. We watched these fellows from our lattice. By Saint Boniface 'twas a rare sight!
The tulips in Mynheer Van Dunck's gardens were not more gorgeous than the liveries of these pie-coated retainers. All the flowers of the field bloomed in their ruffled bosoms, all the hues of the rainbow gleamed in their plush breeches, and the long-caned ones walked up and down the garden with that charming solemnity, that delightful quivering swagger of the calves, which has always had a frantic fascination for us. The walk was not wide enough for them as the shoulder-knots strutted up and down it in canary, and crimson, and light blue.
Suddenly, in the midst of their pride, a little bell was rung, a side door opened, and (after setting down their Royal Mistress) her Majesty's own crimson footmen, with epaulets and black plushes, came in.
It was pitiable to see the other poor Johns slink off at this arrival! Not one of the honest private Plushes could stand up before the Royal Flunkeys. They left the walk: they sneaked into dark holes and drank their beer in silence. The Royal Plush kept possession of the garden until the Royal Plush dinner was announced, when it retired, and we heard from the pavilion where they dined, conservative cheers, and speeches, and Kentish fires. The other Flunkeys we never saw more.
My dear Flunkeys, so absurdly conceited at one moment and so abject at the next, are but the types of their masters in this world. HE WHO MEANLY ADMIRES MEAN THINGS IS A SNOB—perhaps that is a safe definition of the character.
And this is why I have, with the utmost respect, ventured to place The Snob Royal at the head of my list, causing all others to give way before him, as the Flunkeys before the royal representative in Kensington Gardens. To say of such and such a Gracious Sovereign that he is a Snob, is but to say that his Majesty is a man. Kings, too, are men and Snobs. In a country where Snobs are in the majority, a prime one, surely, cannot be unfit to govern. With us they have succeeded to admiration.
For instance, James I. was a Snob, and a Scotch Snob, than which the world contains no more offensive creature. He appears to have had not one of the good qualities of a man—neither courage, nor generosity, nor honesty, nor brains; but read what the great Divines and Doctors of England said about him! Charles II., his grandson, was a rogue, but not a Snob; whilst Louis XIV., his old squaretoes of a contemporary,—the great worshipper of Bigwiggery—has always struck me as a most undoubted and Royal Snob.
I will not, however, take instances from our own country of Royal Snobs, but refer to a neighbouring kingdom, that of Brentford—and its monarch, the late great and lamented Gorgius IV. With the same humility with which the footmen at the 'King's Arms' gave way before the Plush Royal, the aristocracy of the Brentford nation bent down and truckled before Gorgius, and proclaimed him the first gentleman in Europe. And it's a wonder to think what is the gentlefolks' opinion of a gentleman, when they gave Gorgius such a title.
What is it to be a gentleman? Is it to be honest, to be gentle, to be generous, to be brave, to be wise, and, possessing all these qualities, to exercise them in the most graceful outward manner? Ought a gentleman to be a loyal son, a true husband, and honest father? Ought his life to be decent—his bills to be paid—his tastes to be high and elegant—his aims in life lofty and noble? In a word, ought not the Biography of a First Gentleman in Europe to be of such a nature that it might be read in Young Ladies' Schools with advantage, and studied with profit in the Seminaries of Young Gentlemen? I put this question to all instructors of youth—to Mrs. Ellis and the Women of England; to all schoolmasters, from Doctor Hawtrey down to Mr. Squeers. I conjure up before me an awful tribunal of youth and innocence, attended by its venerable instructors (like the ten thousand red-cheeked charity-children in Saint Paul's), sitting in judgment, and Gorgius pleading his cause in the midst. Out of Court, out of Court, fat old Florizel! Beadles, turn out that bloated, pimple-faced man!—If Gorgius MUST have a statue in the new Palace which the Brentford nation is building, it ought to be set up in the Flunkeys' Hall. He should be represented cutting out a coat, in which art he is said to have excelled. He also invented Maraschino punch, a shoe-buckle (this was in the vigour of his youth, and the prime force of his invention), and a Chinese pavilion, the most hideous building in the world. He could drive a four-in-hand very nearly as well as the Brighton coachman, could fence elegantly, and it is said, played the fiddle well. And he smiled with such irresistible fascination, that persons who were introduced into his august presence became his victims, body and soul, as a rabbit becomes the prey of a great big boa-constrictor.
I would wager that if Mr. Widdicomb were, by a revolution, placed on the throne of Brentford, people would be equally fascinated by his irresistibly majestic smile and tremble as they knelt down to kiss his hand. If he went to Dublin they would erect an obelisk on the spot where he first landed, as the Paddylanders did when Gorgius visited them. We have all of us read with delight that story of the King's voyage to Haggisland, where his presence inspired such a fury of loyalty and where the most famous man of the country—the Baron of Bradwardine—coming on board the royal yacht, and finding a glass out of which Gorgius had drunk, put it into his coatpocket as an inestimable relic, and went ashore in his boat again. But the Baron sat down upon the glass and broke it, and cut his coat-tails very much; and the inestimable relic was lost to the world for ever. O noble Bradwardine! what old-world superstition could set you on your knees before such an idol as that?
If you want to moralise upon the mutability of human affairs, go and see the figure of Gorgius in his real, identical robes, at the waxwork.—Admittance one shilling. Children and flunkeys sixpence. Go, and pay sixpence.
CHAPTER III—THE INFLUENCE OF THE ARISTOCRACY ON SNOBS
Last Sunday week, being at church in this city, and the service just ended, I heard two Snobs conversing about the Parson. One was asking the other who the clergyman was? 'He is Mr. So-and-so,' the second Snob answered, 'domestic chaplain to the Earl of What-d'ye-call'im.' 'Oh, is he' said the first Snob, with a tone of indescribable satisfaction.—The Parson's orthodoxy and identity were at once settled in this Snob's mind. He knew no more about the Earl than about the Chaplain, but he took the latter's character upon the authority of the former; and went home quite contented with his Reverence, like a little truckling Snob.
This incident gave me more matter for reflection even than the sermon: and wonderment at the extent and prevalence of Lordolatory in this country. What could it matter to Snob whether his Reverence were chaplain to his Lordship or not? What Peerageworship there is all through this free country! How we are all implicated in it, and more or less down on our knees.—And with regard to the great subject on hand, I think that the influence of the Peerage upon Snobbishness has been more remarkable than that of any other institution. The increase, encouragement, and maintenance of Snobs are among the 'priceless services,' as Lord John Russell says, which we owe to the nobility.
It can't be otherwise. A man becomes enormously rich, or he jobs successfully in the aid of a Minister, or he wins a great battle, or executes a treaty, or is a clever lawyer who makes a multitude of fees and ascends the bench; and the country rewards him for ever with a gold coronet (with more or less balls or leaves) and a title, and a rank as legislator. 'Your merits are so great,' says the nation, 'that your children shall be allowed to reign over us, in a manner. It does not in the least matter that your eldest son be a fool: we think your services so remarkable, that he shall have the reversion of your honours when death vacates your noble shoes. If you are poor, we will give you such a sum of money as shall enable you and the eldest-born of your race for ever to live in fat and splendour. It is our wish that there should be a race set apart in this happy country, who shall hold the first rank, have the first prizes and chances in all government jobs and patronages. We cannot make all your dear children Peers—that would make Peerage common and crowd the House of Lords uncomfortably—but the young ones shall have everything a Government can give: they shall get the pick of all the places: they shall be Captains and Lieutenant-Colonels at nineteen, when hoary-headed old lieutenants are spending thirty years at drill: they shall command ships at one-and-twenty, and veterans who fought before they were born. And as we are eminently a free people, and in order to encourage all men to do their duty, we say to any man of any rank—get enormously rich, make immense fees as a lawyer, or great speeches, or distinguish yourself and win battles—and you, even you, shall come into the privileged class, and your children shall reign naturally over ours.'
How can we help Snobbishness, with such a prodigious national institution erected for its worship? How can we help cringing to Lords? Flesh and blood can't do otherwise. What man can withstand this prodigious temptation? Inspired by what is called a noble emulation, some people grasp at honours and win them; others, too weak or mean, blindly admire and grovel before those who have gained them; others, not being able to acquire them, furiously hate, abuse, and envy. There are only a few bland and not-in-the-least-conceited philosophers, who can behold the state of society, viz., Toadyism, organised:—base Man-and-Mammon worship, instituted by command of law:—Snobbishness, in a word, perpetuated,—and mark the phenomenon calmly. And of these calm moralists, is there one, I wonder, whose heart would not throb with pleasure if he could be seen walking arm-in-arm with a couple of dukes down Pall Mall? No it is impossible in our condition of society, not to be sometimes a Snob.
On one hand it encourages the commoner to be snobbishly mean, and the noble to be snobbishly arrogant. When a noble marchioness writes in her travels about the hard necessity under which steam-boat travellers labour of being brought into contact 'with all sorts and conditions of people:' implying that a fellowship with God's creatures is disagreeable to to her Ladyship, who is their superior:—when, I say, the Marchioness of —— writes in this fashion, we must consider that out of her natural heart it would have been impossible for any woman to have had such a sentiment; but that the habit of truckling and cringing, which all who surround her have adopted towards this beautiful and magnificent lady,—this proprietor of so many black and other diamonds,—has really induced her to believe that she is the superior of the world in general: and that people are not to associate with her except awfully at a distance. I recollect being once at the city of Grand Cairo, through which a European Royal Prince was passing India-wards. One night at the inn there was a great disturbance: a man had drowned himself in the well hard by: all the inhabitants of the hotel came bustling into the Court, and amongst others your humble servant, who asked of a certain young man the reason of the disturbance. How was I to know that this young gent was a prince? He had not his crown and sceptre on: he was dressed in a white jacket and felt hat: but he looked surprised at anybody speaking to him: answered an unintelligible monosyllable, and—BECKONED HIS AID-DE-CAMP TO COME AND SPEAK TO ME. It is our fault, not that of the great, that they should fancy themselves so far above us. If you WILL fling yourself under the wheels, Juggernaut will go over you, depend upon it; and if you and I, my dear friend, had Kotow performed before us every day,—found people whenever we appeared grovelling in slavish adoration, we should drop into the airs of superiority quite naturally, and accept the greatness with which the world insisted upon endowing us.
Here is an instance, out of Lord L——'s travels, of that calm, good-natured, undoubting way in which a great man accepts the homage of his inferiors. After making some profound and ingenious remarks about the town of Brussells, his lordship says:—'Staying some day at the Hotel de Belle Vue, a greatly overrated establishment, and not nearly as comfortable as the Hotel de France—I made acquaintance with Dr. L——, the physician of the Mission. He was desirous of doing the honours of the place to me, and he ordered for us a DINER EN GOURMAND at the chief restaurateur's, maintaining it surpassed the Rocher at Paris. Six or eight partook of the entertainment, and we all agreed it was infinitely inferior to the Paris display, and much more extravagant. So much for the copy.
And so much for the gentleman who gave the dinner. Dr. L——, desirous to do his lordship 'the honour of the place,' feasts him with the best victuals money can procure—and my lord finds the entertainment extravagant and inferior. Extravagant! it was not extravagant to HIM;—Inferior! Mr. L—— did his best to satisfy those noble jaws, and my lord receives the entertainment, and dismisses the giver with a rebuke. It is like a three-tailed Pasha grumbling about an unsatisfactory backsheesh.
But how should it be otherwise in a country where Lordolatry is part of our creed, and where our children are brought up to respect the 'Peerage' as the Englishman's second Bible?
CHAPTER IV—THE COURT CIRCULAR, AND ITS INFLUENCE ON SNOBS
Example is the best of precepts; so let us begin with a true and authentic story, showing how young aristocratic snobs are reared, and how early their Snobbishness may be made to bloom. A beautiful and fashionable lady—(pardon, gracious madam, that your story should be made public; but it is so moral that it ought to be known to the universal world)—told me that in her early youth she had a little acquaintance, who is now indeed a beautiful and fashionable lady too. In mentioning Miss Snobky, daughter of Sir Snobby Snobky, whose presentation at Court caused such a sensation, need I say more?
When Miss Snobky was so very young as to be in the nursery regions, and to walk off early mornings in St. James's Park, protected by a French governess and followed by a huge hirsute flunkey in the canary coloured livery of the Snobkys, she used occasionally in these promenades to meet with young Lord Claude Lollipop, the Marquis of Sillabub's younger son. In the very height of the season, from some unexplained cause, the Snobkys suddenly determined upon leaving town. Miss Snobky spoke to her female friend and confidante. 'What will poor Claude Lollipop say when he hears of my absence?' asked the tender-hearted child.
'Oh, perhaps he won't hear of it,' answers the confidante.
'MY DEAR, HE WILL READ IT IN THE PAPERS,' replied the dear little fashionable rogue of seven years old. She knew already her importance, and how all the world of England, how all the would-be-genteel people, how all the silver-fork worshippers, how all the tattle-mongers, how all the grocers' ladies, the tailors' ladies, the attorneys' and merchants' ladies, and the people living at Clapham and Brunswick Square,—who have no more chance of consorting with a Snobky than my beloved reader has of dining with the Emperor of China—yet watched the movements of the Snobkys with interest and were glad to know when they came to London and left it.
Here is the account of Miss Snobky's dress, and that of her mother, Lady Snobky, from the papers:—
Habit de Cour, composed of a yellow nankeen illusion dress over a slip of rich pea-green corduroy, trimmed en tablier, with bouquets of Brussels sprouts: the body and sleeves handsomely trimmed with calimanco, and festooned with a pink train and white radishes. Head-dress, carrots and lappets.
'Costume de Cour, composed of a train of the most superb Pekin bandannas, elegantly trimmed with spangles, tinfoil, and red-tape. Bodice and underdress of sky-blue velveteen, trimmed with bouffants and noeuds of bell-pulls. Stomacher a muffin. Head-dress a bird's nest, with a bird of paradise, over a rich brass knocker en ferroniere. This splendid costume, by Madame Crinoline, of Regent Street, was the object of universal admiration.'
This is what you read. Oh, Mrs. Ellis! Oh, mothers, daughters, aunts, grandmothers of England, this is the sort of writing which is put in the newspapers for you! How can you help being the mothers, daughters, &c. of Snobs, so long as this balderdash is set before you?
You stuff the little rosy foot of a Chinese young lady of fashion into a slipper that is about the size of a salt-cruet, and keep the poor little toes there imprisoned and twisted up so long that the dwarfishness becomes irremediable. Later, the foot would not expand to the natural size were you to give her a washing-tub for a shoe and for all her life she has little feet, and is a cripple. Oh, my dear Miss Wiggins, thank your stars that those beautiful feet of yours—though I declare when you walk they are so small as to be almost invisible—thank your stars that society never so practised upon them; but look around and see how many friends of ours in the highest circles have had their BRAINS so prematurely and hopelessly pinched and distorted.
How can you expect that those poor creatures are to move naturally when the world and their parents have mutilated them so cruelly? As long as a COURT CIRCULAR exists, how the deuce are people whose names are chronicled in it ever to believe themselves the equals of the cringing race which daily reads that abominable trash? I believe that ours is the only country in the world now where the COURT CIRCULAR remains in full flourish—where you read, 'This day his Royal Highness Prince Pattypan was taken an airing in his go-cart.' 'The Princess Pimminy was taken a drive, attended by her ladies of honour, and accompanied by her doll,' &c. We laugh at the solemnity with which Saint Simon announces that SA MAJESTE SE MEDICAMENTE AUJOURD'HUI. Under our very noses the same folly is daily going on. That wonderful and mysterious man, the author of the COURT CIRCULAR, drops in with his budget at the newspaper offices every night. I once asked the editor of a paper to allow me to lie in wait and see him.
I am told that in a kingdom where there is a German King-Consort (Portugal it must be, for the Queen of that country married a German Prince, who is greatly admired and respected by the natives), whenever the Consort takes the diversion of shooting among the rabbit-warrens of Cintra, or the pheasant-preserve of Mafra, he has a keeper to load his guns, as a matter of course, and then they are handed to the nobleman, his equerry, and the nobleman hands them to the Prince who blazes away—gives back the discharged gun to the nobleman, who gives it to the keeper, and so on. But the Prince WON'T TAKE THE GUN FROM THE HANDS OF THE LOADER.
As long as this unnatural and monstrous etiquette continues, Snobs there must be. The three persons engaged in this transaction are, for the time being, Snobs.
1. The keeper—the least Snob of all, because he is discharging his daily duty; but he appears here as a Snob, that is to say, in a position of debasement before another human being (the Prince), with whom he is allowed to communicate through another party. A free Portuguese gamekeeper, who professes himself to be unworthy to communicate directly with any person, confesses himself to be a Snob.
2. The nobleman in waiting is a Snob. If it degrades the Prince to receive the gun from the gamekeeper, it is degrading to the nobleman in waiting to execute that service. He acts as a Snob towards the keeper, whom he keeps from communication with the Prince—a Snob to the Prince, to whom he pays a degrading homage.
3. The King-Consort of Portugal is a Snob for insulting fellow-men in this way. There's no harm in his accepting the services of the keeper directly; but indirectly he insults the service performed, and the servants who perform it; and therefore, I say, respectfully, is a most undoubted, though royal Snob.
And then you read in the DIARIO DO GOBERNO—'Yesterday his Majesty the King took the diversion of shooting the woods off Cintra, attended by Colonel the honourable Whiskerando Sombrero. His Majesty returned to the Necessidades to lunch, at,' &c. &c..
Oh! that COURT CIRCULAR! once more, I exclaim.
Down with the COURT CIRCULAR—that engine and propagator of Snobbishness! I promise to subscribe for a year to any daily paper that shall come out without a COURT CIRCULAR—were it the MORNING HERALD itself. When I read that trash, I rise in my wrath; I feel myself disloyal, a regicide, a member of the Calf's Head Club. The only COURT CIRCULAR story which ever pleased me, was that of the King of Spain, who in great part was roasted, because there was not time for the Prime Minister to command the Lord Chamberlain to desire the Grand Gold Stick to order the first page in waiting to bid the chief of the flunkeys to request the House-maid of Honour to bring up a pail of water to put his Majesty out.
I am like the Pasha of three tails, to whom the Sultan sends HIS COURT CIRCULAR, the bowstring.
It CHOKES me. May its usage be abolished for ever.
CHAPTER V—WHAT SNOBS ADMIRE
Now let us consider how difficult it is even for great men to escape from being Snobs. It is very well for the reader, whose fine feelings are disgusted by the assertion that Kings, Princes, Lords, are Snobs, to say 'You are confessedly a Snob yourself. In professing to depict Snobs, it is only your own ugly mug which you are copying with a Narcissus-like conceit and fatuity.' But I shall pardon this explosion of ill-temper on the part of my constant reader, reflecting upon the misfortune of his birth and country. It is impossible for ANY Briton, perhaps, not to be a Snob in some degree. If people can be convinced of this fact, an immense point is gained, surely. If I have pointed out the disease, let us hope that other scientific characters may discover the remedy.
If you, who are a person of the middle ranks of life, are a Snob,—you whom nobody flatters particularly; you who have no toadies; you whom no cringing flunkeys or shopmen bow out of doors; you whom the policeman tells to move on; you who are jostled in the crowd of this world, and amongst the Snobs our brethren: consider how much harder it is for a man to escape who has not your advantages, and is all his life long subject to adulation; the butt of meanness; consider how difficult it is for the Snobs' idol not to be a Snob.
As I was discoursing with my friend Eugenio in this impressive way, Lord Buckram passed us, the son of the Marquis of Bagwig, and knocked at the door of the family mansion in Red Lion Square. His noble father and mother occupied, as everybody knows, distinguished posts in the Courts of late Sovereigns. The Marquis was Lord of the Pantry, and her Ladyship, Lady of the Powder Closet to Queen Charlotte. Buck (as I call him, for we are very familiar) gave me a nod as he passed, and I proceeded to show Eugenio how it was impossible that this nobleman should not be one of ourselves, having been practised upon by Snobs all his life.
His parents resolved to give him a public education, and sent him to school at the earliest possible period. The Reverend Otto Rose, D.D., Principal of the Preparatory Academy for young noblemen and gentlemen, Richmond Lodge, took this little Lord in hand, and fell down and worshipped him. He always introduced him to fathers and mothers who came to visit their children at the school. He referred with pride and pleasure to the most noble the Marquis of Bagwig, as one of the kind friends and patrons of his Seminary. He made Lord Buckram a bait for such a multiplicity of pupils, that a new wing was built to Richmond Lodge, and thirty-five new little white dimity beds were added to the establishment. Mm. Rose used to take out the little Lord in the one-horse chaise with her when she paid visits, until the Rector's lady and the Surgeon's wife almost died with envy. His own son and Lord Buckram having been discovered robbing an orchard together, the Doctor flogged his own flesh and blood most unmercifully for leading the young Lord astray. He parted from him with tears. There was always a letter directed to the Most Noble the Marquis ef Bagwig, on the Doctor's study table, when any visitors were received by him.
At Eton, a great deal of Snobbishness was thrashed out of Lord Buckram, and he was birched with perfect impartiality. Even there, however, a select band of sucking tuft-hunters followed him. Young Croesus lent him three-and-twenty bran-new sovereigns out of his father's bank. Young Snaily did his exercises for him, and tried 'to know him at home;' but Young Bull licked him in a fight of fifty-five minutes, and he was caned several times with great advantage for not sufficiently polishing his master Smith's shoes. Boys are not ALL toadies in the morning of life.
But when he went to the University, crowds of toadies sprawled over him. The tutors toadied him. The fellows in hall paid him great clumsy compliments. The Dean never remarked his absence from Chapel, or heard any noise issuing from his rooms. A number of respectable young fellows, (it is among the respectable, the Baker Street class, that Snobbishness flourishes, more than among any set of people in England)—a number of these clung to him like leeches. There was no end now to Croesus's loans of money; and Buckram couldn't ride out with the hounds, but Snaily (a timid creature by nature) was in the field, and would take any leap at which his friend chose to ride. Young Rose came up to the same College, having been kept back for that express purpose by his father. He spent a quarter's allowance in giving Buckram a single dinner; but he knew there was always pardon for him for extravagance in such a cause; and a ten-pound note always came to him from home when he mentioned Buckram's name in a letter. What wild visions entered the brains of Mrs. Podge and Miss Podge, the wife and daughter of the Principal of Lord Buckram's College, I don't know, but that reverend old gentleman was too profound a flunkey by nature ever for one minute to think that a child of his could marry a nobleman. He therefore hastened on his daughter's union with Professor Crab.
When Lord Buckram, after taking his honorary degree, (for Alma Mater is a Snob, too, and truckles to a Lord like the rest,)—when Lord Buckram went abroad to finish his education, you all know what dangers he ran, and what numbers of caps were set at him. Lady Leach and her daughters followed him from Paris to Rome, and from Rome to Baden-Baden; Miss Leggitt burst into tears before his face when he announced his determination to quit Naples, and fainted on the neck of her mamma: Captain Macdragon, of Macdragonstown, County Tipperary, called upon him to 'explene his intintions with respect to his sisther, Miss Amalia Macdragon, of Macdragonstown,' and proposed to shoot him unless he married that spotless and beautiful young creature, who was afterwards led to the altar by Mr. Muff, at Cheltenham. If perseverance and forty thousand pounds down could have tempted him, Miss Lydia Croesus would certainly have been Lady Buckram. Count Towrowski was glad to take her with half the meney, as all the genteel world knows.
And now, perhaps, the reader is anxious to know what sort of a man this is who wounded so many ladies' hearts, and who has been such a prodigious favourite with men. If we were to describe him it would be personal. Besides, it really does not matter in the least what sort of a man he is, or what his personal qualities are.
Suppose he is a young nobleman of a literary turn, and that he published poems ever so foolish and feeble, the Snobs would purchase thousands of his volumes: the publishers (who refused my Passion-Flowers, and my grand Epic at any price) would give him his own. Suppose he is a nobleman of a jovial turn, and has a fancy for wrenching off knockers, frequenting ginshops, and half murdering policemen: the public will sympathize good-naturedly with his amusements, and say he is a hearty, honest fellow. Suppose he is fond of play and the turf; and has a fancy to be a blackleg, and occasionally condescends to pluck a pigeon at cards; the public will pardon him, and many honest people will court him, as they would court a housebreaker if he happened to be a Lord. Suppose he is an idiot; yet, by the glorious constitution, he is good enough to govern US. Suppose he is an honest, highminded gentleman; so much the better for himself. But he may be an ass, and yet respected; or a ruffian, and yet be exceedingly popular; or a rogue, and yet excuses will be found for him. Snobs will still worship him. Male Snobs will do him honour, and females look kindly upon him, however hideous he may be.
CHAPTER VI—ON SOME RESPECTABLE SNOBS
Having received a great deal of obloquy for dragging monarchs, princes, and the respected nobility into the Snob category, I trust to please everybody in the present chapter, by stating my firm opinion that it is among the RESPECTABLE classes of this vast and happy empire that the greatest profusion of Snobs is to be found. I pace down my beloved Baker Street, (I am engaged on a life of Baker, founder of this celebrated street,) I walk in Harley Street (where every other house has a hatchment), Wimpole Street, that is as cheerful as the Catacombs—a dingy Mausoleum of the genteel:—I rove round Regent's Park, where the plaster is patching off the house walls; where Methodist preachers are holding forth to three little children in the green inclosures, and puffy valetudinarians are cantering in the solitary mud:—I thread the doubtful ZIG-ZAGS of May Fair, where Mrs. Kitty Lorimer's Brougham may be seen drawn up next door to old Lady Lollipop's belozenged family coach;—I roam through Belgravia, that pale and polite district, where all the inhabitants look prim and correct, and the mansions are painted a faint whity-brown: I lose myself in the new squares and terraces of the brilliant bran-new Bayswater-and-Tyburn-Junction line; and in one and all of these districts the same truth comes across me. I stop before any house at hazard, and say, 'O house, you are inhabited—O knocker, you are knocked at—O undressed flunkey, sunning your lazy calves as you lean against the iron railings, you are paid—by Snobs.' It is a tremendous thought that; and it is almost sufficient to drive a benevolent mind to madness to think that perhaps there is not one in ten of those houses where the 'Peerage' does not lie on the drawing-room table. Considering the harm that foolish lying book does, I would have all the copies of it burned, as the barber burned all Quixote's books of humbugging chivalry.
Look at this grand house in the middle of the square. The Earl of Loughcorrib lives there: he has fifty thousand a year. A DEJEUNER DANSANT given at his house last week cost, who knows how much? The mere flowers for the room and bouquets for the ladies cost four hundred pounds. That man in drab trousers, coming crying down the stops, is a dun: Lord Loughcorrib has ruined him, and won't see him: that is his lordship peeping through the blind of his study at him now. Go thy ways, Loughcorrib, thou art a Snob, a heartless pretender, a hypocrite of hospitality; a rogue who passes forged notes upon society;—but I am growing too eloquent.
You see that nice house, No. 23, where a butcher's boy is ringing the area-bell. He has three muttonchops in his tray. They are for the dinner of a very different and very respectable family; for Lady Susan Scraper, and her daughters, Miss Scraper and Miss Emily Scraper. The domestics, luckily for them, are on board wages—two huge footmen in light blue and canary, a fat steady coachman who is a Methodist, and a butler who would never have stayed in the family but that he was orderly to General Scraper when the General distinguished himself at Walcheren. His widow sent his portrait to the United Service Club, and it is hung up in one of the back dressing-closets there. He is represented at a parlour window with red curtains; in the distance is a whirlwind, in which cannon are firing off; and he is pointing to a chart, on which are written the words 'Walcheren, Tobago.'
Lady Susan is, as everybody knows by referring to the 'British Bible,' a daughter of the great and good Earl Bagwig before mentioned. She thinks everything belonging to her the greatest and best in the world. The first of men naturally are the Buckrams, her own race: then follow in rank the Scrapers. The General was the greatest general: his eldest son, Scraper Buckram Scraper, is at present the greatest and best; his second son the next greatest and best; and herself the paragon of women.
Indeed, she is a most respectable and honourable lady. She goes to church of course: she would fancy the Church in danger if she did not. She subscribes to Church and parish charities; and is a directress of meritorious charitable institutions—of Queen Charlotte's Lying-in Hospital, the Washerwomen's Asylum, the British Drummers' Daughters' Home, &c.. She is a model of a matron.
The tradesman never lived who could say that he was not paid on the quarter-day. The beggars of her neighbourhood avoid her like a pestilence; for while she walks out, protected by John, that domestic has always two or three mendicity tickets ready for deserving objects. Ten guineas a year will pay all her charities. There is no respectable lady in all London who gets her name more often printed for such a sum of money.
Those three mutton-chops which you see entering at the kitchen-door will be served on the family-plate at seven o'clock this evening, the huge footman being present, and the butler in black, and the crest and coat-of-arms of the Scrapers blazing everywhere. I pity Miss Emily Scraper—she is still young—young and hungry. Is it a fact that she spends her pocket-money in buns? Malicious tongues say so; but she has very little to spare for buns, the poor little hungry soul! For the fact is, that when the footmen, and the ladies' maids, and the fat coach-horses, which are jobbed, and the six dinner-parties in the season, and the two great solemn evening-parties, and the rent of the big house, and the journey to an English or foreign watering-place for the autumn, are paid, my lady's income has dwindled away to a very small sum, and she is as poor as you or I.
You would not think it when you saw her big carriage rattling up to the drawing-room, and caught a glimpse of her plumes, lappets, and diamonds, waving over her ladyship's sandy hair and majestical hooked nose;—you would not think it when you hear 'Lady Susan Scraper's carriage' bawled out at midnight so as to disturb all Belgravia:—you would not think it when she comes rustling into church, the obsequious John behind with the bag of Prayer-books. Is it possible, you would say, that so grand and awful a personage as that can be hard-up for money? Alas! So it is.
She never heard such a word as Snob, I will engage, in this wicked and vulgar world. And, O stars and garters! how she would start if she heard that she—she, as solemn as Minerva—she, as chaste as Diana (without that heathen goddess's unladylike propensity for field-sports)—that she too was a Snob!
A Snob she is, as long as she sets that prodigious value upon herself, upon her name, upon her outward appearance, and indulges in that intolerable pomposity; as long as she goes parading abroad, like Solomon in all his glory; as long as she goes to bed—as I believe she does—with a turban and a bird of paradise in it, and a court train to her night-gown; as long as she is so insufferably virtuous and condescending; as long as she does not cut at least one of those footmen down into mutton-chops for the benefit of the young ladies.
I had my notions of her from my old schoolfellow,—her son Sydney Scraper—a Chancery barrister without any practice—the most placid, polite, and genteel of Snobs, who never exceeded his allowance of two hundred a year, and who may be seen any evening at the 'Oxford and Cambridge Club,' simpering over the QUARTERLY REVIEW, in the blameless enjoyment of his half-pint of port.
CHAPTER VII—ON SOME RESPECTABLE SNOBS
Look at the next house to Lady Susan Scraper's. The first mansion with the awning over the door: that canopy will be let down this evening for the comfort of the friends of Sir Alured and Lady S. de Mogyns, whose parties are so much admired by the public, and the givers themselves.
Peach-coloured liveries laced with silver, and pea-green plush inexpressibles, render the De Mogyns' flunkeys the pride of the ring when they appear in Hyde Park where Lady de Mogyns, as she sits upon her satin cushions, with her dwarf spaniel in her arms, bows to the very selectest of the genteel. Times are altered now with Mary Anne, or, as she calls herself, Marian de Mogyns.
She was the daughter of Captain Flack of the Rathdrum Fencibles, who crossed with his regiment over from Ireland to Caermarthenshire ever so many years ago, and defended Wales from the Corsican invader. The Rathdrums were quartered at Pontydwdlm, where Marian wooed and won her De Mogyns, a young banker in the place. His attentions to Miss Flack at a race ball were such that her father said De Mogyns must either die on the field of honour, or become his son-in-law. He preferred marriage. His name was Muggins then, and his father—a flourishing banker, army-contractor, smuggler, and general jobber—almost disinherited him on account of this connection.
There is a story that Muggins the Elder was made a baronet for having lent money to a R-y-l p-rs-n-ge. I do not believe it. The R-y-l Family always paid their debts, from the Prince of Wales downwards.
Howbeit, to his life's end he remained simple Sir Thomas Muggins, representing Pontydwdlm in Parliament for many years after the war. The old banker died in course of time, and to use the affectionate phrase common on such occasions, 'cut up' prodigiously well. His son, Alfred Smith Mogyns, succeeded to the main portion of his wealth, and to his titles and the bloody hand of his scutcheon. It was not for many years after that he appeared as Sir Alured Mogyns Smyth de Mogyns, with a genealogy found out for him by the Editor of 'Fluke's Peerage,' and which appears as follows in that work:—'De Mogyns.—Sir Alured Mogyns Smyth, Second Baronet. This gentleman is a representative of one of the most ancient families of Wales, who trace their descent until it is lost in the mists of antiquity. A genealogical tree beginning with Shem is in the possession of the family, and is stated by a legend of many thousand years' date to have been drawn on papyrus by a grandson of the patriarch himself. Be this as it may, there can be no doubt of the immense antiquity of the race of Mogyns.
'In the time of Boadicea, Hogyn Mogyn, of the hundred Beeves, was a suitor and a rival of Caractacus for the hand of that Princess. He was a person gigantic in stature, and was slain by Suetonius in the battle which terminated the liberties of Britain. From him descended directly the Princes of Pontydwdlm, Mogyn of the Golden Harp (see the Mabinogion of Lady Charlotte Guest,) Bogyn-Merodac-ap-Mogyn, (the black fiend son of Mogyn,) and a long list of bards and warriors, celebrated both in Wales and Armorica. The independent Princes of Mogyn long held out against the ruthless Kings of England, until finally Gam Mogyns made his submission to Prince Henry, son of Henry IV., and under the name of Sir David Gam de Mogyns, was distinguished at the battle of Agincourt.
From him the present Baronet is descended. (And here the descent follows in order until it comes to) Thomas Muggins, first Baronet of Pontydwdlm Castle, for 23 years Member of Parliament for that borough, who had issue, Alured Mogyns Smyth, the present Baronet, who married Marian, daughter of the late general P. Flack, of Ballyflack, in the Kingdom of Ireland of the Counts Flack of the H. R. Empire. Sir Alured has issue, Alured Caradoc, born 1819, Marian, 1811, Blanche Adeliza, Emily Doria, Adelaide Obleans, Katinka Rostopchin, Patrick Flack, died 1809.
'Arms—a mullion garbled, gules on a saltire reversed of the second. Crest—a tom-tit rampant regardant. Motto—UNG ROY UNG MOGYNS.'
It was long before Lady de Mogyns shone as a star in the fashionable world. At first, poor Muggins was the in the hands of the Flacks, the Clancys, the Tooles, the Shanahans, his wife's Irish relations; and whilst he was yet but heir-apparent, his house overflowed with claret and the national nectar, for the benefit of Hibernian relatives. Tom Tufto absolutely left the street in which they lived in London, because he said 'it was infected with such a confounded smell of whisky from the house of those IWISH people.'
It was abroad that they learned to be genteel. They pushed into all foreign courts, and elbowed their way into the halls of Ambassadors. They pounced upon the stray nobility, and seized young lords travelling with their bear-leaders. They gave parties at Naples, Rome, and Paris. They got a Royal Prince to attend their SOIREES at the latter place, and it was here that they first appeared under the name of De Mogyns, which they bear with such splendour to this day.
All sorts of stories are told of the desperate efforts made by the indomitable Lady de Mogyns to gain the place she now occupies, and those of my beloved readers who live in middle life, and are unacquainted with the frantic struggles, the wicked feuds, the intrigues, cabals, and disappointments which, as I am given to understand, reign in the fashionable world, may bless their stars that they at least are not FASHIONABLE Snobs. The intrigues set afoot by the De Mogyns to get the Duchess of Buckskin to her parties, would strike a Talleyrand with admiration. She had a brain fever after being disappointed of an invitation to Lady Aldermanbury's THE DANSANT, and would have committed suicide but for a ball at Windsor. I have the following story from my noble friend Lady Clapperclaw herself,—Lady Kathleen O'Shaughnessy that was, and daughter of the Earl of Turfanthunder:—
'When that odious disguised Irishwoman, Lady Muggins, was struggling to take her place in the world, and was bringing out her hidjous daughter Blanche,' said old Lady Clapperclaw—(Marian has a hump-back and doesn't show, but she's the only lady in the family)—'when that wretched Polly Muggins was bringing out Blanche, with her radish of a nose, and her carrots of ringlets, and her turnip for a face, she was most anxious—as her father had been a cowboy on my father's land—to be patronized by us, and asked me point-blank, in the midst of a silence at Count Volauvent's, the French Ambassador's dinner, why I had not sent her a card for my ball?
'"Because my rooms are already too full, and your ladyship would be crowded inconveniently," says I; indeed she takes up as much room as an elephant: besides I wouldn't have her, and that was flat.
'I thought my answer was a settler to her: but the next day she comes weeping to my arms—"Dear Lady Clapperclaw," says she, "it's not for ME; I ask it for my blessed Blanche! a young creature in her first season, and not at your ball! My tender child will pine and die of vexation. I don't want to come. I will stay at home to nurse Sir Alured in the gout. Mrs. Bolster is going, I know; she will be Blanche's chaperon."
'"You wouldn't subscribe for the Rathdrum blanket and potato fund; you, who come out of the parish," says I, "and whose grandfather, honest man, kept cows there."
'"Will twenty guineas be enough, dearest Lady Clapperclaw?"
'"Twenty guineas is sufficient," says I, and she paid them; so I said, "Blanche may come, but not you, mind:" and she left me with a world of thanks.
'Would you believe it?—when my ball came, the horrid woman made her appearance with her daughter!
"Didn't I tell you not to come?" said I, in a mighty passion. "What would the world have said?" cries my Lady Muggins: "my carriage is gone for Sir Alured to the Club; let me stay only ten minutes, dearest Lady Clapperclaw."
'"Well as you are here, madam, you may stay and get your supper," I answered, and so left her, and never spoke a word more to her all night.
'And now,' screamed out old Lady Clapperclaw, clapping her hands, and speaking with more brogue than ever, 'what do you think, after all my kindness to her, the wicked, vulgar, odious, impudent upstart of s cowboy's granddaughter, has done?—she cut me yesterday in Hy' Park, and hasn't sent me a ticket for her ball to-night, though they say Prince George is to be there.'
Yes, such is the fact. In the race of fashion the resolute and active De Mogyns has passed the poor old Clapperclaw. Her progress in gentility may be traced by the sets of friends whom she has courted, and made, and cut, and left behind her. She has struggled so gallantly for polite reputation that she has won it: pitilessly kicking down the ladder as she advanced degree by degree.
Irish relations were first sacrificed; she made her father dine in the steward's room, to his perfect contentment: and would send Sir Alured thither like-wise but that he is a peg on which she hopes to hang her future honours; and is, after all, paymaster of her daughter's fortunes. He is meek and content. He has been so long a gentleman that he is used to it, and acts the part of governor very well. In the day-time he goes from the 'Union' to 'Arthur's,' and from 'Arthur's' to the 'Union.' He is a dead hand at piquet, and loses a very comfortable maintenance to some young fellows, at whist, at the 'Travellers'.'
His son has taken his father's seat in Parliament, and has of course joined Young England. He is the only man in the country who believes in the De Mogynses, and sighs for the days when a De Mogyns led the van of battle. He has written a little volume of spoony puny poems. He wears a lock of the hair of Laud, the Confessor and Martyr, and fainted when he kissed the Pope's toe at Rome. He sleeps in white kid-gloves, and commits dangerous excesses upon green tea.
CHAPTER VIII—GREAT CITY SNOBS
There is no disguising the fact that this series of papers is making a prodigious sensation among all classes in this Empire. Notes of admiration (!), of interrogation (?), of remonstrance, approval, or abuse, come pouring into MR. PUNCH'S box. We have been called to task for betraying the secrets of three different families of De Mogyns; no less than four Lady Scrapers have been discovered; and young gentlemen are quite shy of ordering half-a-pint of port and simpering over the QUARTERLY REVIEW at the Club, lest they should be mistaken for Sydney Scraper, Esq. 'What CAN be your antipathy to Baker Street?' asks some fair remonstrant, evidently writing from that quarter.
'Why only attack the aristocratic Snobs?' says one 'estimable correspondent: 'are not the snobbish Snobs to have their turn?'—'Pitch into the University Snobs!' writes an indignant gentleman (who spelt ELEGANT with two I's)—'Show up the Clerical Snob,' suggests another.—'Being at "Meurice's Hotel," Paris, some time since,' some wag hints, 'I saw Lord B. leaning out of the window with his boots in his hand, and bawling out "GARCON, CIREZ-MOI CES BOTTES." Oughtn't he to be brought in among the Snobs?'
No; far from it. If his lordship's boots are dirty, it is because he is Lord B., and walks. There is nothing snobbish in having only one pair of boots, or a favourite pair; and certainly nothing snobbish in desiring to have them cleaned. Lord B., in so doing, performed a perfectly natural and gentlemanlike action; for which I am so pleased with him that I have had him designed in a favourable and elegant attitude, and put at the head of this Chapter in the place of honour. No, we are not personal in these candid remarks. As Phidias took the pick of a score of beauties before he completed a Venus, so have we to examine, perhaps, a thousand Snobs, before one is expressed upon paper.
Great City Snobs are the next in the hierarchy, and ought to be considered. But here is a difficulty. The great City Snob is commonly most difficult of access. Unless you are a capitalist, you cannot visit him in the recesses of his bank parlour in Lombard Street. Unless you are a sprig of nobility there is little hope of seeing him at home. In a great City Snob firm there is generally one partner whose name is down for charities, and who frequents Exeter Hall; you may catch a glimpse of another (a scientific City Snob) at my Lord N——'s SOIREES, or the lectures of the London Institution; of a third (a City Snob of taste) at picture-auctions, at private views of exhibitions, or at the Opera or the Philharmonic. But intimacy is impossible, in most cases, with this grave, pompous, and awful being.
A mere gentleman may hope to sit at almost anybody's table—to take his place at my lord duke's in the country—to dance a quadrille at Buckingham Palace itself—(beloved Lady Wilhelmina Wagglewiggle! do you recollect the sensation we made at the ball of our late adored Sovereign Queen Caroline, at Brandenburg House, Hammersmith?) but the City Snob's doors are, for the most part, closed to him; and hence all that one knows of this great class is mostly from hearsay.
In other countries of Europe, the Banking Snob is more expansive and communicative than with us, and receives all the world into his circle. For instance, everybody knows the princely hospitalities of the Scharlaschild family at Paris, Naples, Frankfort, &c.. They entertain all the world, even the poor, at their FETES. Prince Polonia, at Rome, and his brother, the Duke of Strachino, are also remarkable for their hospitalities. I like the spirit of the first-named nobleman. Titles not costing much in the Roman territory, he has had the head clerk of the banking-house made a Marquis, and his Lordship will screw a BAJOCCO out of you in exchange as dexterously as any commoner could do. It is a comfort to be able to gratify such grandees with a farthing or two; it makes the poorest man feel that he can do good. 'The Polonias have intermarried with the greatest and most ancient families of Rome, and you see their heraldic cognizance (a mushroom or on an azure field) quartered in a hundred places in the city with the arms of the Colonnas and Dorias.
City Snobs have the same mania for aristocratic marriages. I like to see such. I am of a savage and envious nature,—I like to see these two humbugs which, dividing, as they do, the social empire of this kingdom between them, hate each other naturally, making truce and uniting, for the sordid interests of either. I like to see an old aristocrat, swelling with pride of race, the descendant of illustrious Norman robbers, whose blood has been pure for centuries, and who looks down upon common Englishmen as a free American does on a nigger,—I like to see old Stiffneck obliged to bow down his head and swallow his infernal pride, and drink the cup of humiliation poured out by Pump and Aldgate's butler. 'Pump and Aldgate, says he, 'your grandfather was a bricklayer, and his hod is still kept in the bank. Your pedigree begins in a workhouse; mine can be dated from all the royal palaces of Europe. I came over with the Conqueror; I am own cousin to Charles Martel, Orlando Furioso, Philip Augustus, Peter the Cruel, and Frederick Barbarossa. I quarter the Royal Arms of Brentford in my coat. I despise you, but I want money; and I will sell you my beloved daughter, Blanche Stiffneck, for a hundred thousand pounds, to pay off my mortgages. Let your son marry her, and she shall become Lady Blanche Pump and Aldgate.'
Old Pump and Aldgate clutches at the bargain. And a comfortable thing it is to think that birth can be bought for money. So you learn to value it. Why should we, who don't possess it, set a higher store on it than those who do? Perhaps the best use of that book, the 'Peerage,' is to look down the list, and see how many have bought and sold birth,—how poor sprigs of nobility somehow sell themselves to rich City Snobs' daughters, how rich City Snobs purchase noble ladies—and so to admire the double baseness of the bargain.
Old Pump and Aldgate buys the article and pays the money. The sale of the girl's person is blessed by a Bishop at St. George's, Hanover Square, and next year you read, 'At Roehampton, on Saturday, the Lady Blanche Pump, of a son and heir.
After this interesting event, some old acquaintance, who saw young Pump in the parlour at the bank in the City, said to him, familiarly, 'How's your wife, Pump, my boy?'
Mr. Pump looked exceedingly puzzled and disgusted, and, after a pause, said, 'LADY BLANCHE PUMP' is pretty well, I thank you.'
'OH, I THOUGHT SHE WAS YOUR WIFE!' said the familiar brute, Snooks, wishing him good-bye; and ten minutes after, the story was all over the Stock Exchange, where it is told, when young Pump appears, to this very day.
We can imagine the weary life this poor Pump, this martyr to Mammon, is compelled to undergo. Fancy the domestic enjoyments of a man who has a wife who scorns him; who cannot see his own friends in his own house; who having deserted the middle rank of life, is not yet admitted to the higher; but who is resigned to rebuffs and delay and humiliation, contented to think that his son will be more fortunate.
It used to be the custom of some very old-fashioned clubs in this city, when a gentleman asked for change a guinea, always to bring it to him in WASHED SILVER: that which had passed immediately out of the hands of vulgar being considered 'as too coarse to soil a gentleman's fingers.' So, when the City Snob's money has been washed during a generation or so; has been washed into estates, and woods, and castles, and town-mansions, it is allowed to pass current as real aristocratic coin. Old Pump sweeps a shop, runs of messages, becomes a confidential clerk and partner. Pump the Second becomes chief of the house, spins more and more money, marries his son to an Earl's daughter. Pump Tertius goes on with the bank; but his chief business in life is to become the father of Pump Quartus, who comes out a full-blown aristocrat, and takes his seat as Baron Pumpington, and his race rules hereditarily over this nation of Snobs.
CHAPTER IX—ON SOME MILITARY SNOBS
As no society in the world is more agreeable than that of well-bred and well-informed military gentlemen, so, likewise, none is more insufferable than that of Military Snobs. They are to be found of all grades, from the General Officer, whose padded old breast twinkles over with a score of stars, clasps, and decorations, to the budding cornet, who is shaving for a beard, and has just been appointed to the Saxe-Coburg Lancers.
I have always admired that dispensation of rank in our country, which sets up this last-named little creature (who was flogged only last week because he could not spell) to command great whiskered warriors, who have faced all dangers of climate and battle; which, because he has money, to lodge at the agent's, will place him over the heads of men who have a thousand times more experience and desert: and which, in the course of time, will bring him all the honours of his profession, when the veteran soldier he commanded has got no other reward for his bravery than a berth in Chelsea Hospital, and the veteran officer he superseded has slunk into shabby retirement, and ends his disappointed life on a threadbare half-pay.
When I read in the GAZETTE such announcements as 'Lieutenant and Captain Grig, from the Bombardier Guards, to be Captain, vice Grizzle, who retires,' I know what becomes of the Peninsular Grizzle; I follow him in spirit to the humble country town, where he takes up his quarters, and occupies himself with the most desperate attempts to live like a gentleman, on the stipend of half a tailor's foreman; and I picture to myself little Grig rising from rank to rank, skipping from one regiment to another, with an increased grade in each, avoiding disagreeable foreign service, and ranking as a colonel at thirty;—all because he has money, and Lord Grigsby is his father, who had the same luck before him. Grig must blush at first to give his orders to old men in every way his betters. And as it is very difficult for a spoiled child to escape being selfish and arrogant, so it is a very hard task indeed for this spoiled child of fortune not to be a Snob.
It must have often been a matter of wonder to the candid reader, that the army, the most enormous job of all our political institutions, should yet work so well in the field; and we must cheerfully give Grig, and his like, the credit for courage which they display whenever occasion calls for it. The Duke's dandy regiments fought as well as any (they said better than any, but that is absurd). The great Duke himself was a dandy once, and jobbed on, as Marlborough did before him. But this only proves that dandies are brave as well as other Britons—as all Britons. Let us concede that the high-born Grig rode into the entrenchments at Sobraon as gallantly as Corporal Wallop, the ex-ploughboy.
The times of war are more favourable to him than the periods of peace. Think of Grig's life in the Bombardier Guards, or the Jack-boot Guards; his marches from Windsor to London, from London to Windsor, from Knightsbridge to Regent's Park; the idiotic services he has to perform, which consist in inspecting the pipeclay of his company, or the horses in the stable, or bellowing out 'Shoulder humps! Carry humps!' all which duties the very smallest intellect that ever belonged to mortal man would suffice to comprehend. The professional duties of a footman are quite as difficult and various. The red-jackets who hold gentlemen's horses in St. James's Street could do the work just as well as those vacuous, good-natured, gentlemanlike, rickety little lieutenants, who may be seen sauntering about Pall Mall, in high-heeled little boots, or rallying round the standard of their regiment in the Palace Court, at eleven o'clock, when the band plays. Did the beloved reader ever see one of the young fellows staggering under the flag, or, above all, going through the operation of saluting it? It is worth a walk to the Palace to witness that magnificent piece of tomfoolery.
I have had the honour of meeting once or twice an old gentleman, whom I look upon to be a specimen of army-training, and who has served in crack regiments, or commanded them, all his life. I allude to Lieutenant-General the Honourable Sir George Granby Tufto, K.C.B., K.T.S., K.H., K.S.W., &c. &c.. His manners are irreproachable generally; in society he is a perfect gentleman, and a most thorough Snob.
A man can't help being a fool, be he ever so old, and Sir George is a greater ass at sixty-eight than he was when he first entered the army at fifteen. He distinguished himself everywhere: his name is mentioned with praise in a score of Gazettes: he is the man, in fact, whose padded breast, twinkling over with innumerable decorations, has already been introduced to the reader. It is difficult to say what virtues this prosperous gentleman possesses. He never read a book in his life, and, with his purple, old gouty fingers, still writes a schoolboy hand. He has reached old age and grey hairs without being the least venerable. He dresses like an outrageously young man to the present moment, and laces and pads his old carcass as if he were still handsome George Tufto of 1800. He is selfish, brutal, passionate, and a glutton. It is curious to mark him at table, and see him heaving in his waistband, his little bloodshot eyes gloating over his meal. He swears considerably in his talk, and tells filthy garrison stories after dinner. On account of his rank and his services, people pay the bestarred and betitled old brute a sort of reverence; and he looks down upon you and me, and exhibits his contempt for us, with a stupid and artless candour which is quite amusing to watch. Perhaps, had he been bred to another profession, he would not have been the disreputable old creature he now is. But what other? He was fit for none; too incorrigibly idle and dull for any trade but this, in which he has distinguished himself publicly as a good and gallant officer, and privately for riding races, drinking port, fighting duels, and seducing women. He believes himself to be one of the most honourable and deserving beings in the world. About Waterloo Place, of afternoons, you may see him tottering in his varnished boots, and leering under the bonnets of the women who pass by. When he dies of apoplexy, THE TIMES will have a quarter of a column about his services and battles—four lines of print will be wanted to describe his titles and orders alone—and the earth will cover one of the wickedest and dullest old wretches that ever strutted over it.
Lest it should be imagined that I am of so obstinate a misanthropic nature as to be satisfied with nothing, I beg (for the comfort of the forces) to state my belief that the army is not composed of such persons as the above. He has only been selected for the study of civilians and the military, as a specimen of a prosperous and bloated Army Snob. No: when epaulets are not sold; when corporal punishments are abolished, and Corporal Smith has a chance to have his gallantry rewarded as well as that of Lieutenant Grig; when there is no such rank as ensign and lieutenant (the existence of which rank is an absurd anomaly, and an insult upon all the rest of the army), and should there be no war, I should not be disinclined to be a major-general myself.
I have a little sheaf of Army Snobs in my portfolio, but shall pause in my attack upon the forces till next week.
CHAPTER X—MILITARY SNOBS
Walking in the Park yesterday with my young friend Tagg, and discoursing with him upon the next number of the Snob, at the very nick of time who should pass us but two very good specimens of Military Snobs,—the Sporting Military Snob, Capt. Rag, and the 'lurking' or raffish Military Snob, Ensign Famish. Indeed you are fully sure to meet them lounging on horseback, about five o'clock, under the trees by the Serpentine, examining critically the inmates of the flashy broughams which parade up and down 'the Lady's Mile.'
Tagg and Rag are very well acquainted, and so the former, with that candour inseparable from intimate friendship, told me his dear friend's history. Captain Rag is a small dapper north-country man. He went when quite a boy into a crack light cavalry regiment, and by the time he got his troop, had cheated all his brother officers so completely, selling them lame horses for sound ones, and winning their money by all manner of strange and ingenious contrivances, that his Colonel advised him to retire; which he did without much reluctance, accommodating a youngster, who had just entered the regiment, with a glandered charger at an uncommonly stiff figure.
He has since devoted his time to billiards, steeple-chasing, and the turf. His head-quarters are 'Rummer's,' in Conduit Street, where he keeps his kit; but he is ever on the move in the exercise of his vocation as a gentleman-jockey and gentleman-leg.
According to BELL'S LIFE, he is an invariable attendant at all races, and an actor in most of them. He rode the winner at Leamington; he was left for dead in a ditch a fortnight ago at Harrow; and yet there he was, last week, at the Croix de Berny, pale and determined as ever, astonishing the BADAUDS of Paris by the elegance of his seat and the neatness of his rig, as he took a preliminary gallop on that vicious brute 'The Disowned,' before starting for 'the French Grand National.'
He is a regular attendant at the Corner, where he compiles a limited but comfortable libretto. During season he rides often in the Park, mounted on a clever well-bred pony. He is to be seen escorting celebrated horsewoman, Fanny Highflyer, or in confidential converse with Lord Thimblerig, the eminent handicapper.
He carefully avoids decent society, and would rather dine off a steak at the 'One Tun' with Sam Snaffle the jockey, Captain O'Rourke, and two or three other notorious turf robbers, than with the choicest company in London. He likes to announce at 'Rummer's' that he is going to run down and spend his Saturday and Sunday in a friendly way with Hocus, the leg, at his little box near Epsom; where, if report speak true, many 'rummish plants' are concocted.
He does not play billiards often, and never in public: but when he does play, he always contrives to get hold of a good flat, and never leaves him till he has done him uncommonly brown. He has lately been playing a good deal with Famish.
When he makes his appearance in the drawing-room, which occasionally happens at a hunt-meeting or a race-ball, he enjoys himself extremely.
His young friend is Ensign Famish, who is not a little pleased to be seen with such a smart fellow as Rag, who bows to the best turf company in the Park. Rag lets Famish accompany him to Tattersall's, and sells him bargains in horse-flesh, and uses Famish's cab. That young gentleman's regiment is in India, and he is at home on sick leave. He recruits his health by being intoxicated every night, and fortifies his lungs, which are weak, by smoking cigars all day. The policemen about the Haymarket know the little creature, and the early cabmen salute him. The closed doors of fish and lobster shops open after service, and vomit out little Famish, who is either tipsy and quarrelsome—when he wants to fight the cabmen; or drunk and helpless—when some kind friend (in yellow satin) takes care of him. All the neighbourhood, the cabmen, the police, the early potato-men, and the friends in yellow satin, know the young fellow, and he is called Little Bobby by some of the very worst reprobates in Europe.
His mother, Lady Fanny Famish, believes devoutly that Robert is in London solely for the benefit of consulting the physician; is going to have him exchanged into a dragoon regiment, which doesn't go to that odious India; and has an idea that his chest is delicate, and that he takes gruel every evening, when he puts his feet in hot water. Her Ladyship resides at Cheltenham, and is of a serious turn.
Bobby frequents the 'Union Jack Club' of course; where he breakfasts on pale ale and devilled kidneys at three o'clock; where beardless young heroes of his own sort congregate, and make merry, and give each other dinners; where you may see half-a-dozen of young rakes of the fourth or fifth order lounging and smoking on the steps; where you behold Slapper's long-tailed leggy mare in the custody of a red-jacket until the Captain is primed for the Park with a glass of curacoa; and where you see Hobby, of the Highland Buffs, driving up with Dobby, of the Madras Fusiliers, in the great banging, swinging cab, which the latter hires from Rumble of Bond Street.
In fact, Military Snobs are of such number and variety, that a hundred weeks of PUNCH would not suffice to give an audience to them. There is, besides the disreputable old Military Snob, who has seen service, the respectable old Military Snob, who has seen none, and gives himself the most prodigious Martinet airs. There is the Medical-Military Snob, who is generally more outrageously military in his conversation than the greatest SABREUR in the army. There is the Heavy-Dragoon Snob, whom young ladies, admire with his great stupid pink face and yellow moustaches—a vacuous, solemn, foolish, but brave and honourable Snob. There is the Amateur-Military Snob who writes Captain on his card because he is a Lieutenant in the Bungay Militia. There is the Lady-killing Military Snob; and more, who need not be named.
But let no man, we repeat, charge MR. PUNCH with disrespect for the Army in general—that gallant and judicious Army, every man of which, from F.M. the Duke of Wellington, &c., downwards—(with the exception of H.R.H. Field-Marshal Prince Albert, who, however, can hardly count as a military man,)—reads PUNCH in every quarter of the globe.
Let those civilians who sneer at the acquirements of the army read Sir Harry Smith's account of the Battle of Aliwal. A noble deed was never told in nobler language. And you who doubt if chivalry exists, or the age of heroism has passed by, think of Sir Henry Hardinge, with his son, 'dear little Arthur,' riding in front of the lines at Ferozeshah. I hope no English painter will endeavour to illustrate that scene; for who is there to do justice to it? The history of the world contains no more brilliant and heroic picture. No, no; the men who perform these deeds with such brilliant valour, and describe them with such modest manliness—SUCH are not Snobs. Their country admires them, their Sovereign rewards them, and PUNCH, the universal railer, takes off his hat and, says, Heaven save them!
CHAPTER XI—ON CLERICAL SNOBS
After Snobs-Military, Snobs-Clerical suggest themselves quite naturally, and it is clear that, with every respect for the cloth, yet having a regard for truth, humanity, and the British public, such a vast and influential class must not be omitted from our notices of the great Snob world.
Of these Clerics there are some whose claim to snobbishness is undoubted, and yet it cannot be discussed here; for the same reason that PUNCH would not set up his show in a Cathedral, out of respect for the solemn service celebrated within. There are some places where he acknowledges himself not privileged to make a noise, and puts away his show, and silences his drum, and takes off his hat, and holds his peace.
And I know this, that if there are some Clerics who do wrong, there are straightway a thousand newspapers to haul up those unfortunates, and cry, 'Fie upon them, fie upon them!' while, though the press is always ready to yell and bellow excommunication against these stray delinquent parsons, it somehow takes very little count of the many good ones—of the tens of thousands of honest men, who lead Christian lives, who give to the poor generously, who deny themselves rigidly, and live and die in their duty, without ever a newspaper paragraph in their favour. My beloved friend and reader, I wish you and I could do the same: and let me whisper my belief, ENTRE NOUS that of those eminent philosophers who cry out against parsons the loudest, there are not many who have got their knowledge of the church by going thither often.
But you who have ever listened to village bells, or walked to church as children on sunny Sabbath mornings; you who have ever seen the parson's wife tending the poor man's bedside; or the town clergyman threading the dirty stairs of noxious alleys upon his business;—do not raise a shout when one falls away, or yell with the mob that howls after him.
Every man can do that. When old Father Noah was overtaken in his cups, there was only one of his sons that dared to make merry at his disaster, and he was not the most virtuous of the family. Let us too turn away silently, nor huzza like a parcel of school-boys, because some big young rebel suddenly starts up and whops the schoolmaster.
I confess, though, if I had by me the names of those seven or eight Irish bishops, the probates of whose wills were mentioned in last year's journals, and who died leaving behind them some two hundred thousand a-piece—I would like to put THEM up as patrons of my Clerical Snobs, and operate upon them as successfully as I see from the newspapers Mr. Eisenberg, Chiropodist, has lately done upon 'His Grace the Reverend Lord Bishop of Tapioca.'
I confess that when those Right Reverend Prelates come up to the gates of Paradise with their probates of wills in their hands, I think that their chance is.... But the gates of Paradise is a far way to follow their Lordships; so let us trip down again lest awkward questions be asked there about our own favourite vices too.
And don't let us give way to the vulgar prejudice, that clergymen are an over-paid and luxurious body of men. When that eminent ascetic, the late Sydney Smith—(by the way, by what law of nature is it that so many Smiths in this world are called Sydney Smith?)—lauded the system of great prizes in the Church,—without which he said gentlemen would not be induced to follow the clerical profession, he admitted most pathetically that the clergy in general were by no means to be envied for their worldly prosperity. From reading the works of some modern writers of repute, you would fancy that a parson's life was passed in gorging himself with plum-pudding and port-wine; and that his Reverence's fat chaps were always greasy with the crackling of tithe pigs. Caricaturists delight to represent him so: round, short-necked, pimple-faced, apoplectic, bursting out of waistcoat, like a black-pudding, a shovel-hatted fuzz-wigged Silenus. Whereas, if you take the real man, the poor fellow's flesh-pots are very scantily furnished with meat. He labours commonly for a wage that a tailor's foreman would despise: he has, too, such claims upon his dismal income as most philosophers would rather grumble to meet; many tithes are levied upon HIS pocket, let it be remembered, by those who grudge him his means of livelihood. He has to dine with the Squire: and his wife must dress neatly; and he must 'look like a gentleman,' as they call it, and bring up six great hungry sons as such. Add to this, if he does his duty, he has such temptations to spend his money as no mortal man could withstand. Yes; you who can't resist purchasing a chest of cigars, because they are so good; or an ormolu clock at Howell and James's, because it is such a bargain; or a box at the Opera, because Lablache and Grisi are divine in the PURITANI; fancy how difficult it is for a parson to resist spending a half-crown when John Breakstone's family are without a loaf; or 'standing' a bottle of port for poor old Polly Rabbits, who has her thirteenth child; or treating himself to a suit of corduroys for little Bob Scarecrow, whose breeches are sadly out at elbows. Think of these temptations, brother moralists and philosophers, and don't be too hard on the parson.
But what is this? Instead of 'showing up' the parsons, are we indulging in maudlin praises of that monstrous black-coated race? O saintly Francis, lying at rest under the turf; O Jimmy, and Johnny, and Willy, friends of my youth! O noble and dear old Elias! how should he who knows you not respect you and your calling? May this pen never write a pennyworth again, if it ever casts ridicule upon either!
CHAPTER XII—ON CLERICAL SNOBS AND SNOBBISHNESS
'Dear Mr. Snob,' an amiable young correspondent writes, who signs himself Snobling, 'ought the clergyman who, at the request of a noble Duke, lately interrupted a marriage ceremony between two persons perfectly authorised to marry, to be ranked or not among the Clerical Snobs?'
This, my dear young friend, is not a fair question. One of the illustrated weekly papers has already seized hold of the clergyman, and blackened him most unmercifully, by representing him in his cassock performing the marriage service. Let that be sufficient punishment; and, if you please, do not press the query.