THE CHRISTMAS BOOKS
MR. M. A. TITMARSH
by William Makepeace Thackeray
Mrs. Perkins's Ball
Dr. Birch and his Young Friends
The Kickleburys on the Rhine
The Rose and the Ring; or, The History of Prince Giglio and Prince Bulbo
MRS. PERKINS'S BALL.
THE MULLIGAN (OF BALLYMULLIGAN), AND HOW WE WENT TO MRS. PERKINS'S BALL.
I do not know where Ballymulligan is, and never knew anybody who did. Once I asked the Mulligan the question, when that chieftain assumed a look of dignity so ferocious, and spoke of "Saxon curiawsitee" in a tone of such evident displeasure, that, as after all it can matter very little to me whereabouts lies the Celtic principality in question, I have never pressed the inquiry any farther.
I don't know even the Mulligan's town residence. One night, as he bade us adieu in Oxford Street,—"I live THERE," says he, pointing down towards Oxbridge, with the big stick he carries—so his abode is in that direction at any rate. He has his letters addressed to several of his friends' houses, and his parcels, &c. are left for him at various taverns which he frequents. That pair of checked trousers, in which you see him attired, he did me the favor of ordering from my own tailor, who is quite as anxious as anybody to know the address of the wearer. In like manner my hatter asked me, "Oo was the Hirish gent as 'ad ordered four 'ats and a sable boar to be sent to my lodgings?" As I did not know (however I might guess) the articles have never been sent, and the Mulligan has withdrawn his custom from the "infernal four-and-nine-penny scoundthrel," as he calls him. The hatter has not shut up shop in consequence.
I became acquainted with the Mulligan through a distinguished countryman of his, who, strange to say, did not know the chieftain himself. But dining with my friend Fred Clancy, of the Irish bar, at Greenwich, the Mulligan came up, "inthrojuiced" himself to Clancy as he said, claimed relationship with him on the side of Brian Boroo, and drawing his chair to our table, quickly became intimate with us. He took a great liking to me, was good enough to find out my address and pay me a visit: since which period often and often on coming to breakfast in the morning I have found him in my sitting-room on the sofa engaged with the rolls and morning papers: and many a time, on returning home at night for an evening's quiet reading, I have discovered this honest fellow in the arm-chair before the fire, perfuming the apartment with my cigars and trying the quality of such liquors as might be found on the sideboard. The way in which he pokes fun at Betsy, the maid of the lodgings, is prodigious. She begins to laugh whenever he comes; if he calls her a duck, a divvle, a darlin', it is all one. He is just as much a master of the premises as the individual who rents them at fifteen shillings a week; and as for handkerchiefs, shirt-collars, and the like articles of fugitive haberdashery, the loss since I have known him is unaccountable. I suspect he is like the cat in some houses: for, suppose the whiskey, the cigars, the sugar, the tea-caddy, the pickles, and other groceries disappear, all is laid upon that edax-rerum of a Mulligan.
The greatest offence that can be offered to him is to call him MR. Mulligan. "Would you deprive me, sir," says he, "of the title which was bawrun be me princelee ancestors in a hundred thousand battles? In our own green valleys and fawrests, in the American savannahs, in the sierras of Speen and the flats of Flandthers, the Saxon has quailed before me war-cry of MULLIGAN ABOO! MR. Mulligan! I'll pitch anybody out of the window who calls me MR. Mulligan." He said this, and uttered the slogan of the Mulligans with a shriek so terrific, that my uncle (the Rev. W. Gruels, of the Independent Congregation, Bungay), who had happened to address him in the above obnoxious manner, while sitting at my apartments drinking tea after the May meetings, instantly quitted the room, and has never taken the least notice of me since, except to state to the rest of the family that I am doomed irrevocably to perdition.
Well, one day last season, I had received from my kind and most estimable friend, MRS. PERKINS OF POCKLINGTON SQUARE (to whose amiable family I have had the honor of giving lessons in drawing, French, and the German flute), an invitation couched in the usual terms, on satin gilt-edged note-paper, to her evening-party; or, as I call it, "Ball."
Besides the engraved note sent to all her friends, my kind patroness had addressed me privately as follows:—
MY DEAR MR. TITMARSH,—If you know any VERY eligible young man, we give you leave to bring him. You GENTLEMEN love your CLUBS so much now, and care so little for DANCING, that it is really quite A SCANDAL. Come early, and before EVERYBODY, and give us the benefit of all your taste and CONTINENTAL SKILL.
"Whom shall I bring?" mused I, highly flattered by this mark of confidence; and I thought of Bob Trippett; and little Fred Spring, of the Navy Pay Office; Hulker, who is rich, and I knew took lessons in Paris; and a half-score of other bachelor friends, who might be considered as VERY ELIGIBLE—when I was roused from my meditation by the slap of a hand on my shoulder; and looking up, there was the Mulligan, who began, as usual, reading the papers on my desk.
"Hwhat's this?" says he. "Who's Perkins? Is it a supper-ball, or only a tay-ball?"
"The Perkinses of Pocklington Square, Mulligan, are tiptop people," says I, with a tone of dignity. "Mr. Perkins's sister is married to a baronet, Sir Giles Bacon, of Hogwash, Norfolk. Mr. Perkins's uncle was Lord Mayor of London; and he was himself in Parliament, and MAY BE again any day. The family are my most particular friends. A tay-ball indeed! why, Gunter . . ." Here I stopped: I felt I was committing myself.
"Gunter!" says the Mulligan, with another confounded slap on the shoulder. "Don't say another word: I'LL go widg you, my boy."
"YOU go, Mulligan?" says I: "why, really—I—it's not my party."
"Your hwhawt? hwhat's this letter? a'n't I an eligible young man?—Is the descendant of a thousand kings unfit company for a miserable tallow-chandthlering cockney? Are ye joking wid me? for, let me tell ye, I don't like them jokes. D'ye suppose I'm not as well bawrun and bred as yourself, or any Saxon friend ye ever had?"
"I never said you weren't, Mulligan," says I.
"Ye don't mean seriously that a Mulligan is not fit company for a Perkins?"
"My dear fellow, how could you think I could so far insult you?" says I. "Well, then," says he, "that's a matter settled, and we go."
What the deuce was I to do? I wrote to Mrs. Perkins; and that kind lady replied, that she would receive the Mulligan, or any other of my friends, with the greatest cordiality. "Fancy a party, all Mulligans!" thought I, with a secret terror.
MR. AND MRS. PERKINS, THEIR HOUSE, AND THEIR YOUNG PEOPLE.
Following Mrs. Perkins's orders, the present writer made his appearance very early at Pocklington Square: where the tastiness of all the decorations elicited my warmest admiration. Supper of course was in the dining-loom, superbly arranged by Messrs. Grigs and Spooner, the confectioners of the neighborhood. I assisted my respected friend Mr. Perkins and his butler in decanting the sherry, and saw, not without satisfaction, a large bath for wine under the sideboard, in which were already placed very many bottles of champagne.
The BACK DINING-ROOM, Mr. P.'s study (where the venerable man goes to sleep after dinner), was arranged on this occasion as a tea-room, Mrs. Flouncey (Miss Fanny's maid) officiating in a cap and pink ribbons, which became her exceedingly. Long, long before the arrival of the company, I remarked Master Thomas Perkins and Master Giles Bacon, his cousin (son of Sir Giles Bacon, Bart.), in this apartment, busy among the macaroons.
Mr. Gregory the butler, besides John the footman and Sir Giles's large man in the Bacon livery, and honest Grundsell, carpet-beater and green-grocer, of Little Pocklington Buildings, had at least half a dozen of aides-de-camp in black with white neck-cloths, like doctors of divinity.
The BACK DRAWING-ROOM door on the landing being taken off the hinges (and placed up stairs under Mr. Perkins's bed), the orifice was covered with muslin, and festooned with elegant wreaths of flowers. This was the Dancing Saloon. A linen was spread over the carpet; and a band—consisting of Mr. Clapperton, piano, Mr. Pinch, harp, and Herr Spoff, cornet-a-piston arrived at a pretty early hour, and were accommodated with some comfortable negus in the tea-room, previous to the commencement of their delightful labors. The boudoir to the left was fitted up as a card-room; the drawing-room was of course for the reception of the company,—the chandeliers and yellow damask being displayed this night in all their splendor; and the charming conservatory over the landing was ornamented by a few moon-like lamps, and the flowers arranged so that it had the appearance of a fairy bower. And Miss Perkins (as I took the liberty of stating to her mamma) looked like the fairy of that bower. It is this young creature's first year in PUBLIC LIFE: she has been educated, regardless of expense, at Hammersmith; and a simple white muslin dress and blue ceinture set off charms of which I beg to speak with respectful admiration.
My distinguished friend the Mulligan of Ballymulligan was good enough to come the very first of the party. By the way, how awkward it is to be the first of the party! and yet you know somebody must; but for my part, being timid, I always wait at the corner of the street in the cab, and watch until some other carriage comes up.
Well, as we were arranging the sherry in the decanters down the supper-tables, my friend arrived: "Hwhares me friend Mr. Titmarsh?" I heard him bawling out to Gregory in the passage, and presently he rushed into the supper-room, where Mr. and Mrs. Perkins and myself were, and as the waiter was announcing "Mr. Mulligan," "THE Mulligan of Ballymulligan, ye blackguard!" roared he, and stalked into the apartment, "apologoizing," as he said, for introducing himself.
Mr. and Mrs. Perkins did not perhaps wish to be seen in this room, which was for the present only lighted by a couple of candles; but HE was not at all abashed by the circumstance, and grasping them both warmly by the hands, he instantly made himself at home. "As friends of my dear and talented friend Mick," so he is pleased to call me, "I'm deloighted, madam, to be made known to ye. Don't consider me in the light of a mere acquaintance! As for you, my dear madam, you put me so much in moind of my own blessed mother, now resoiding at Ballymulligan Castle, that I begin to love ye at first soight." At which speech Mr. Perkins getting rather alarmed, asked the Mulligan whether he would take some wine, or go up stairs.
"Faix," says Mulligan "it's never too soon for good dhrink." And (although he smelt very much of whiskey already) he drank a tumbler of wine "to the improvement of an acqueentence which comminces in a manner so deloightful."
"Let's go up stairs, Mulligan," says I, and led the noble Irishman to the upper apartments, which were in a profound gloom, the candles not being yet illuminated, and where we surprised Miss Fanny, seated in the twilight at the piano, timidly trying the tunes of the polka which she danced so exquisitely that evening. She did not perceive the stranger at first; but how she started when the Mulligan loomed upon her.
"Heavenlee enchanthress!" says Mulligan, "don't floy at the approach of the humblest of your sleeves! Reshewm your pleece at that insthrument, which weeps harmonious, or smoils melojious, as you charrum it! Are you acqueented with the Oirish Melodies? Can ye play, 'Who fears to talk of Nointy-eight?' the 'Shan Van Voght?' or the 'Dirge of Ollam Fodhlah?'"
"Who's this mad chap that Titmarsh has brought?" I heard Master Bacon exclaim to Master Perkins. "Look! how frightened Fanny looks!"
"O poo! gals are ALWAYS frightened," Fanny's brother replied; but Giles Bacon, more violent, said, "I'll tell you what, Tom: if this goes on, we must pitch into him." And so I have no doubt they would, when another thundering knock coming, Gregory rushed into the room and began lighting all the candles, so as to produce an amazing brilliancy, Miss Fanny sprang up and ran to her mamma, and the young gentlemen slid down the banisters to receive the company in the hall.
EVERYBODY BEGINS TO COME, BUT ESPECIALLY MR. MINCHIN.
"It's only me and my sisters," Master Bacon said; though "only" meant eight in this instance. All the young ladies had fresh cheeks and purple elbows; all had white frocks, with hair more or less auburn: and so a party was already made of this blooming and numerous family, before the rest of the company began to arrive. The three Miss Meggots next came in their fly: Mr. Blades and his niece from 19 in the square: Captain and Mrs. Struther, and Miss Struther: Doctor Toddy's two daughters and their mamma: but where were the gentlemen? The Mulligan, great and active as he was, could not suffice among so many beauties. At last came a brisk neat little knock, and looking into the hall, I saw a gentleman taking off his clogs there, whilst Sir Giles Bacon's big footman was looking on with rather a contemptuous air.
"What name shall I enounce?" says he, with a wink at Gregory on the stair.
The gentleman in clogs said, with quiet dignity,—
MR. FREDERICK MINCHIN.
"Pump Court, Temple," is printed on his cards in very small type: and he is a rising barrister of the Western Circuit. He is to be found at home of mornings: afterwards "at Westminster," as you read on his back door. "Binks and Minchin's Reports" are probably known to my legal friends: this is the Minchin in question.
He is decidedly genteel, and is rather in request at the balls of the Judges' and Serjeants' ladies: for he dances irreproachably, and goes out to dinner as much as ever he can.
He mostly dines at the Oxford and Cambridge Club, of which you can easily see by his appearance that he is a member; he takes the joint and his half-pint of wine, for Minchin does everything like a gentleman. He is rather of a literary turn; still makes Latin verses with some neatness; and before he was called, was remarkably fond of the flute.
When Mr. Minchin goes out in the evening, his clerk brings his bag to the Club, to dress; and if it is at all muddy, he turns up his trousers, so that he may come in without a speck. For such a party as this, he will have new gloves; otherwise Frederick, his clerk, is chiefly employed in cleaning them with India-rubber.
He has a number of pleasant stories about the Circuit and the University, which he tells with a simper to his neighbor at dinner; and has always the last joke of Mr. Baron Maule. He has a private fortune of five thousand pounds; he is a dutiful son; he has a sister married, in Harley Street; and Lady Jane Ranville has the best opinion of him, and says he is a most excellent and highly principled young man.
Her ladyship and daughter arrived just as Mr. Minchin had popped his clogs into the umbrella-stand; and the rank of that respected person, and the dignified manner in which he led her up stairs, caused all sneering on the part of the domestics to disappear.
THE BALL-ROOM DOOR.
A hundred of knocks follow Frederick Minchin's: in half an hour Messrs. Spoff, Pinch, and Clapperton have begun their music, and Mulligan, with one of the Miss Bacons, is dancing majestically in the first quadrille. My young friends Giles and Tom prefer the landing-place to the drawing-rooms, where they stop all night, robbing the refreshment-trays as they come up or down. Giles has eaten fourteen ices: he will have a dreadful stomach-ache to-morrow. Tom has eaten twelve, but he has had four more glasses of negus than Giles. Grundsell, the occasional waiter, from whom Master Tom buys quantities of ginger-beer, can of course deny him nothing. That is Grundsell, in the tights, with the tray. Meanwhile direct your attention to the three gentlemen at the door: they are conversing.
1st Gent.—Who's the man of the house—the bald man?
2nd Gent.—Of course. The man of the house is always bald. He's a stockbroker, I believe. Snooks brought me.
1st Gent.—Have you been to the tea-room? There's a pretty girl in the tea-room; blue eyes, pink ribbons, that kind of thing.
2nd Gent.—Who the deuce is that girl with those tremendous shoulders? Gad! I do wish somebody would smack 'em.
3rd Gent.—Sir—that young lady is my niece, sir,—my niece—my name is Blades, sir.
2nd Gent.—Well, Blades! smack your niece's shoulders: she deserves it, begad! she does. Come in, Jinks, present me to the Perkinses.—Hullo! here's an old country acquaintance—Lady Bacon, as I live! with all the piglings; she never goes out without the whole litter. (Exeunt 1st and 2nd Gents.)
LADY BACON, THE MISS BACONS, MR. FLAM.
Lady B.—Leonora! Maria! Amelia! here is the gentleman we met at Sir John Porkington's.
[The MISSES BACON, expecting to be asked to dance, smile simultaneously, and begin to smooth their tuckers.]
Mr. Flam.—Lady Bacon! I couldn't be mistaken in YOU! Won't you dance, Lady Bacon?
Lady B.—Go away, you droll creature!
Mr. Flam.—And these are your ladyship's seven lovely sisters, to judge from their likenesses to the charming Lady Bacon?
Lady B.—My sisters, he! he! my DAUGHTERS, Mr. Flam, and THEY dance, don't you, girls?
The Misses Bacon.—O yes!
Mr. Flam.—Gad! how I wish I was a dancing man!
I have not been able to do justice (only a Lawrence could do that) to my respected friend Mrs. Perkins, in this picture; but Larkins's portrait is considered very like. Adolphus Larkins has been long connected with Mr. Perkins's City establishment, and is asked to dine twice or thrice per annum. Evening-parties are the great enjoyment of this simple youth, who, after he has walked from Kentish Town to Thames Street, and passed twelve hours in severe labor there, and walked back again to Kentish Town, finds no greater pleasure than to attire his lean person in that elegant evening costume which you see, to walk into town again, and to dance at anybody's house who will invite him. Islington, Pentonville, Somers Town, are the scenes of many of his exploits; and I have seen this good-natured fellow performing figure-dances at Notting-hill, at a house where I am ashamed to say there was no supper, no negus even to speak of, nothing but the bare merits of the polka in which Adolphus revels. To describe this gentleman's infatuation for dancing, let me say, in a word, that he will even frequent boarding-house hops, rather than not go.
He has clogs, too, like Minchin: but nobody laughs at HIM. He gives himself no airs; but walks into a house with a knock and a demeanor so tremulous and humble, that the servants rather patronize him. He does not speak, or have any particular opinions, but when the time comes, begins to dance. He bleats out a word or two to his partner during this operation, seems very weak and sad during the whole performance, and, of course, is set to dance with the ugliest women everywhere.
The gentle, kind spirit! when I think of him night after night, hopping and jigging, and trudging off to Kentish Town, so gently, through the fogs, and mud, and darkness: I do not know whether I ought to admire him, because his enjoyments are so simple, and his dispositions so kindly; or laugh at him, because he draws his life so exquisitely mild. Well, well, we can't be all roaring lions in this world; there must be SOME lambs, and harmless, kindly, gregarious creatures for eating and shearing. See! even good-natured Mrs. Perkins is leading up the trembling Larkins to the tremendous Miss Bunion!
The Poetess, author of "Heartstrings," "The Deadly Nightshade," "Passion Flowers," &c. Though her poems breathe only of love, Miss B. has never been married. She is nearly six feet high; she loves waltzing beyond even poesy; and I think lobster-salad as much as either. She confesses to twenty-eight; in which case her first volume, "The Orphan of Gozo," (cut up by Mr. Rigby, in the Quarterly, with his usual kindness,) must have been published when she was three years old.
For a woman all soul, she certainly eats as much as any woman I ever saw. The sufferings she has had to endure, are, she says, beyond compare; the poems which she writes breathe a withering passion, a smouldering despair, an agony of spirit that would melt the soul of a drayman, were he to read them. Well, it is a comfort to see that she can dance of nights, and to know (for the habits of illustrious literary persons are always worth knowing) that she eats a hot mutton-chop for breakfast every morning of her blighted existence.
She lives in a boardinghouse at Brompton, and comes to the party in a fly.
It is worth twopence to see Miss Bunion and Poseidon Hicks, the great poet, conversing with one another, and to talk of one to the other afterwards. How they hate each other! I (in my wicked way) have sent Hicks almost raving mad, by praising Bunion to him in confidence; and you can drive Bunion out of the room by a few judicious panegyrics of Hicks.
Hicks first burst upon the astonished world with poems, in the Byronic manner: "The Death-Shriek," "The Bastard of Lara," "The Atabal," "The Fire-Ship of Botzaris," and other works. His "Love Lays," in Mr. Moore's early style, were pronounced to be wonderfully precocious for a young gentleman then only thirteen, and in a commercial academy, at Tooting.
Subsequently, this great bard became less passionate and more thoughtful; and, at the age of twenty, wrote "Idiosyncracy" (in forty books, 4to.): "Ararat," "a stupendous epic," as the reviews said; and "The Megatheria," "a magnificent contribution to our pre-Adamite literature," according to the same authorities. Not having read these works, it would ill become me to judge them; but I know that poor Jingle, the publisher, always attributed his insolvency to the latter epic, which was magnificently printed in elephant folio.
Hicks has now taken a classical turn, and has brought out "Poseidon," "Iacchus," "Hephaestus," and I dare say is going through the mythology. But I should not like to try him at a passage of the Greek Delectus, any more than twenty thousand others of us who have had a "classical education."
Hicks was taken in an inspired attitude regarding the chandelier, and pretending he didn't know that Miss Pettifer was looking at him.
Her name is Anna Maria (daughter of Higgs and Pettifer, solicitors, Bedford Row); but Hicks calls her "Ianthe" in his album verses, and is himself an eminent drysalter in the city.
Poor Miss Meggot is not so lucky as Miss Bunion. Nobody comes to dance with HER, though she has a new frock on, as she calls it, and rather a pretty foot, which she always manages to stick out.
She is forty-seven, the youngest of three sisters, who live a mouldy old house, near Middlesex Hospital, where they have lived for I don't know how many score of years; but this is certain: the eldest Miss Meggot saw the Gordon Riots out of that same parlor window, and tells the story how her father (physician to George III.) was robbed of his queue in the streets on that occasion. The two old ladies have taken the brevet rank, and are addressed as Mrs. Jane and Mrs. Betsy: one of them is at whist in the back drawing-room. But the youngest is still called Miss Nancy, and is considered quite a baby by her sisters.
She was going to be married once to a brave young officer, Ensign Angus Macquirk, of the Whistlebinkie Fencibles; but he fell at Quatre Bras, by the side of the gallant Snuffmull, his commander. Deeply, deeply did Miss Nancy deplore him.
But time has cicatrized the wounded heart. She is gay now, and would sing or dance, ay, or marry if anybody asked her.
Do go, my dear friend—I don't mean to ask her to marry, but to ask her to dance.—Never mind the looks of the thing. It will make her happy; and what does it cost you? Ah, my dear fellow! take this counsel: always dance with the old ladies—always dance with the governesses. It is a comfort to the poor things when they get up in their garret that somebody has had mercy on them. And such a handsome fellow as YOU too!
MISS RANVILLE, REV. MR. TOOP, MISS MULLINS, MR. WINTER.
Mr. W. Miss Mullins, look at Miss Ranville: what a picture of good humor.
Miss M.—Oh, you satirical creature!
Mr. W.—Do you know why she is so angry? she expected to dance with Captain Grig, and by some mistake, the Cambridge Professor got hold of her: isn't he a handsome man?
Miss M.—Oh, you droll wretch!
Mr. W.—Yes, he's a fellow of college—fellows mayn't marry, Miss Mullins—poor fellows, ay, Miss Mullins?
Mr. W.—And Professor of Phlebotomy in the University. He flatters himself he is a man of the world, Miss Mullins, and always dances in the long vacation.
Miss M.—You malicious, wicked monster!
Mr. W.—Do you know Lady Jane Ranville? Miss Ranville's mamma. A ball once a year; footmen in canary-colored livery: Baker Street; six dinners in the season; starves all the year round; pride and poverty, you know; I've been to her ball ONCE. Ranville Ranville's her brother, and between you and me—but this, dear Miss Mullins, is a profound secret,—I think he's a greater fool than his sister.
Miss M.—Oh, you satirical, droll, malicious, wicked thing you!
Mr. W.—You do me injustice, Miss Mullins, indeed you do.
MISS JOY, MR. AND MRS. JOY, MR. BOTTER.
Mr. B.—What spirits that girl has, Mrs. Joy!
Mr. J.—She's a sunshine in a house, Botter, a regular sunshine. When Mrs. J. here's in a bad humor, I . . .
Mrs. J.—Don't talk nonsense, Mr. Joy.
Mrs. B.—There's a hop, skip, and jump for you! Why, it beats Ellsler! Upon my conscience it does! It's her fourteenth quadrille too. There she goes! She's a jewel of a girl, though I say it that shouldn't.
Mrs. J. (laughing).—Why don't you marry her, Botter? Shall I speak to her? I dare say she'd have you. You're not so VERY old.
Mr. B.—Don't aggravate me, Mrs. J. You know when I lost my heart in the year 1817, at the opening of Waterloo Bridge, to a young lady who wouldn't have me, and left me to die in despair, and married Joy, of the Stock Exchange.
Mrs. J. Get away, you foolish old creature.
[MR. JOY looks on in ecstasies at Miss Joy's agility. LADY JANE RANVILLE, of Baker Street, pronounces her to be an exceedingly forward person. CAPTAIN DOBBS likes a girl who has plenty of go in her; and as for FRED SPARKS, he is over head and ears in love with her.]
MR. RANVILLE RANVILLE AND JACK HUBBARD.
This is Miss Ranville Ranville's brother, Mr. Ranville Ranville, of the Foreign Office, faithfully designed as he was playing at whist in the card-room. Talleyrand used to play at whist at the "Travellers'," that is why Ranville Ranville indulges in that diplomatic recreation. It is not his fault if he be not the greatest man in the room.
If you speak to him, he smiles sternly, and answers in monosyllables he would rather die than commit himself. He never has committed himself in his life. He was the first at school, and distinguished at Oxford. He is growing prematurely bald now, like Canning, and is quite proud of it. He rides in St. James's Park of a morning before breakfast. He dockets his tailor's bills, and nicks off his dinner-notes in diplomatic paragraphs, and keeps precis of them all. If he ever makes a joke, it is a quotation from Horace, like Sir Robert Peel. The only relaxation he permits himself, is to read Thucydides in the holidays.
Everybody asks him out to dinner, on account of his brass-buttons with the Queen's cipher, and to have the air of being well with the Foreign Office. "Where I dine," he says solemnly, "I think it is my duty to go to evening-parties." That is why he is here. He never dances, never sups, never drinks. He has gruel when he goes home to bed. I think it is in his brains.
He is such an ass and so respectable, that one wonders he has not succeeded in the world; and yet somehow they laugh at him; and you and I shall be Ministers as soon as he will.
Yonder, making believe to look over the print-books, is that merry rogue, Jack Hubbard.
See how jovial he looks! He is the life and soul of every party, and his impromptu singing after supper will make you die of laughing. He is meditating an impromptu now, and at the same time thinking about a bill that is coming due next Thursday. Happy dog!
MRS. TROTTER, MISS TROTTER, MISS TOADY, LORD METHUSELAH.
Dear Emma Trotter has been silent and rather ill-humored all the evening until now her pretty face lights up with smiles. Cannot you guess why? Pity the simple and affectionate creature! Lord Methuselah has not arrived until this moment: and see how the artless girl steps forward to greet him!
In the midst of all the selfishness and turmoil of the world, how charming it is to find virgin hearts quite unsullied, and to look on at little romantic pictures of mutual love! Lord Methuselah, though you know his age by the peerage—though he is old, wigged, gouty, rouged, wicked, has lighted up a pure flame in that gentle bosom. There was a talk about Tom Willoughby last year; and then, for a time, young Hawbuck (Sir John Hawbuck's youngest son) seemed the favored man; but Emma never knew her mind until she met the dear creature before you in a Rhine steamboat. "Why are you so late, Edward?" says she. Dear artless child!
Her mother looks on with tender satisfaction. One can appreciate the joys of such an admirable parent!
"Look at them!" says Miss Toady. "I vow and protest they're the handsomest couple in the room!"
Methuselah's grandchildren are rather jealous and angry, and Mademoiselle Ariane, of the French theatre, is furious. But there's no accounting for the mercenary envy of some people; and it is impossible to satisfy everybody.
MR. BEAUMORIS, MR. GRIG, MR. FLYNDERS.
Those three young men are described in a twinkling: Captain Grig of the Heavies; Mr. Beaumoris, the handsome young man; Tom Flinders (Flynders Flynders he now calls himself), the fat gentleman who dresses after Beaumoris.
Beaumoris is in the Treasury: he has a salary of eighty pounds a year, on which he maintains the best cab and horses of the season; and out of which he pays seventy guineas merely for his subscriptions to clubs. He hunts in Leicestershire, where great men mount him; he is a prodigious favorite behind the scenes at the theatres; you may get glimpses of him at Richmond, with all sorts of pink bonnets; and he is the sworn friend of half the most famous roues about town, such as Old Methuselah, Lord Billygoat, Lord Tarquin, and the rest: a respectable race. It is to oblige the former that the good-natured young fellow is here to-night; though it must not be imagined that he gives himself any airs of superiority. Dandy as he is, he is quite affable, and would borrow ten guineas from any man in the room, in the most jovial way possible.
It is neither Beau's birth, which is doubtful; nor his money, which is entirely negative; nor his honesty, which goes along with his money-qualification; nor his wit, for he can barely spell,—which recommend him to the fashionable world: but a sort of Grand Seigneur splendor and dandified je ne scais quoi, which make the man he is of him. The way in which his boots and gloves fit him is a wonder which no other man can achieve; and though he has not an atom of principle, it must be confessed that he invented the Taglioni shirt.
When I see these magnificent dandies yawning out of "White's," or caracoling in the Park on shining chargers, I like to think that Brummell was the greatest of them all, and that Brummell's father was a footman.
Flynders is Beaumoris's toady: lends him money: buys horses through his recommendation; dresses after him; clings to him in Pall Mall, and on the steps of the club; and talks about 'Bo' in all societies. It is his drag which carries down Bo's friends to the Derby, and his cheques pay for dinners to the pink bonnets. I don't believe the Perkinses know what a rogue it is, but fancy him a decent, reputable City man, like his father before him.
As for Captain Grig, what is there to tell about him? He performs the duties of his calling with perfect gravity. He is faultless on parade; excellent across country; amiable when drunk, rather slow when sober. He has not two ideas, and is a most good-natured, irreproachable, gallant, and stupid young officer.
This is my friend Bob Hely, performing the Cavalier seul in a quadrille. Remark the good-humored pleasure depicted in his countenance. Has he any secret grief? Has he a pain anywhere? No, dear Miss Jones, he is dancing like a true Briton, and with all the charming gayety and abandon of our race.
When Canaillard performs that Cavalier seul operation, does HE flinch? No: he puts on his most vainqueur look, he sticks his thumbs into the armholes of his waistcoat, and advances, retreats, pirouettes, and otherwise gambadoes, as though to say, "Regarde moi, O monde! Venez, O femmes, venez voir danser Canaillard!"
When De Bobwitz executes the same measure, he does it with smiling agility, and graceful ease.
But poor Hely, if he were advancing to a dentist, his face would not be more cheerful. All the eyes of the room are upon him, he thinks; and he thinks he looks like a fool.
Upon my word, if you press the point with me, dear Miss Jones, I think he is not very far from right. I think that while Frenchmen and Germans may dance, as it is their nature to do, there is a natural dignity about us Britons, which debars us from that enjoyment. I am rather of the Turkish opinion, that this should be done for us. I think . . .
"Good-by, you envious old fox-and-the-grapes," says Miss Jones, and the next moment I see her whirling by in a polka with Tom Tozer, at a pace which makes me shrink back with terror into the little boudoir.
M. CANAILLARD, CHEVALIER OF THE LEGION OF HONOR.
LIEUTENANT BARON DE BOBWITZ.
Canaillard. Oh, ces Anglais! quels hommes, mon Dieu! Comme ils sont habilles, comme ils dansent!
Bobwitz.—Ce sont de beaux hommes bourtant; point de tenue militaire, mais de grands gaillards; si je les avais dans ma compagnie de la Garde, j'en ferai de bons soldats.
Canaillard.—Est-il bete, cet Allemand! Les grands hommes ne font pas toujours de bons soldats, Monsieur. Il me semble que les soldats de France qui sont de ma taille, Monsieur, valent un peu mieux . . .
Canaillard.—Comment! je le crois, Monsieur? J'en suis sur! Il me semble, Monsieur, que nous l'avons prouve.
Bobwitz (impatiently).—Je m'en vais danser la Bolka. Serviteur, Monsieur.
Canaillard.—Butor! (He goes and looks at himself in the glass, when he is seized by Mrs. Perkins for the Polka.)
MR. SMITH, MR. BROWN, MISS BUSTLETON.
Mr. Brown.—You polk, Miss Bustleton? I'm SO delaighted.
Miss Bustleton.—[Smiles and prepares to rise.]
Mr. Smith.—D—- puppy.
(Poor Smith don't polk.)
Though a quadrille seems to me as dreary as a funeral, yet to look at a polka, I own, is pleasant. See! Brown and Emily Bustleton are whirling round as light as two pigeons over a dovecot; Tozer, with that wicked whisking little Jones, spins along as merrily as a May-day sweep; Miss Joy is the partner of the happy Fred Sparks; and even Miss Ranville is pleased, for the faultless Captain Grig is toe and heel with her. Beaumoris, with rather a nonchalant air, takes a turn with Miss Trotter, at which Lord Methuseleh's wrinkled chops quiver uneasily. See! how the big Baron de Bobwitz spins lightly, and gravely, and gracefully round; and lo! the Frenchman staggering under the weight of Miss Bunion, who tramps and kicks like a young cart-horse.
But the most awful sight which met my view in this dance was the unfortunate Miss Little, to whom fate had assigned THE MULLIGAN as a partner. Like a pavid kid in the talons of an eagle, that young creature trembled in his huge Milesian grasp. Disdaining the recognized form of the dance, the Irish chieftain accommodated the music to the dance of his own green land, and performed a double shuffle jig, carrying Miss Little along with him. Miss Ranville and her Captain shrank back amazed; Miss Trotter skirried out of his way into the protection of the astonished Lord Methuselah; Fred Sparks could hardly move for laughing; while, on the contrary, Miss Joy was quite in pain for poor Sophy Little. As Canaillard and the Poetess came up, The Mulligan, in the height of his enthusiasm, lunged out a kick which sent Miss Bunion howling; and concluded with a tremendous Hurroo!—a war-cry which caused every Saxon heart to shudder and quail.
"Oh that the earth would open and kindly take me in!" I exclaimed mentally; and slunk off into the lower regions, where by this time half the company were at supper.
The supper is going on behind the screen. There is no need to draw the supper. We all know that sort of transaction: the squabbling, and gobbling, and popping of champagne; the smell of musk and lobster-salad; the dowagers chumping away at plates of raised pie; the young lassies nibbling at little titbits, which the dexterous young gentlemen procure. Three large men, like doctors of divinity, wait behind the table, and furnish everything that appetite can ask for. I never, for my part, can eat any supper for wondering at those men. I believe if you were to ask them for mashed turnips, or a slice of crocodile, those astonishing people would serve you. What a contempt they must have for the guttling crowd to whom they minister—those solemn pastry-cook's men! How they must hate jellies, and game-pies, and champagne, in their hearts! How they must scorn my poor friend Grundsell behind the screen, who is sucking at a bottle!
This disguised green-grocer is a very well-known character in the neighborhood of Pocklington Square. He waits at the parties of the gentry in the neighborhood, and though, of course, despised in families where a footman is kept, is a person of much importance in female establishments.
Miss Jonas always employs him at her parties, and says to her page, "Vincent, send the butler, or send Desborough to me;" by which name she chooses to designate G. G.
When the Miss Frumps have post-horses to their carriage, and pay visits, Grundsell always goes behind. Those ladies have the greatest confidence in him, have been godmothers to fourteen of his children, and leave their house in his charge when they go to Bognor for the summer. He attended those ladies when they were presented at the last drawing-room of her Majesty Queen Charlotte.
GREEN-GROCER AND SALESMAN,
9, LITTLE POCKLINGTON BUILDINGS,
LATE CONFIDENTIAL SERVANT IN THE FAMILY OF
THE LORD MAYOR OF LONDON.
Carpets Beat.—Knives and Boots cleaned per contract.—Errands faithfully performed—G. G. attends Ball and Dinner parties, and from his knowledge of the most distinguished Families in London, confidently recommends his services to the distinguished neighbourhood of Pocklington Square.
Mr. Grundsell's state costume is a blue coat and copper buttons, a white waistcoat, and an immense frill and shirt-collar. He was for many years a private watchman, and once canvassed for the office of parish clerk of St. Peter's Pocklington. He can be intrusted with untold spoons; with anything, in fact, but liquor; and it was he who brought round the cards for MRS. PERKINS'S BALL.
I do not intend to say any more about it. After the people had supped, they went back and danced. Some supped again. I gave Miss Bunion, with my own hands, four bumpers of champagne: and such a quantity of goose-liver and truffles, that I don't wonder she took a glass of cherry-brandy afterwards. The gray morning was in Pocklington Square as she drove away in her fly. So did the other people go away. How green and sallow some of the girls looked, and how awfully clear Mrs. Colonel Bludyer's rouge was! Lady Jane Ranville's great coach had roared away down the streets long before. Fred Minchin pattered off in his clogs: it was I who covered up Miss Meggot, and conducted her, with her two old sisters, to the carriage. Good old souls! They have shown their gratitude by asking me to tea next Tuesday. Methuselah is gone to finish the night at the club. "Mind to-morrow," Miss Trotter says, kissing her hand out of the carriage. Canaillard departs, asking the way to "Lesterre Squar." They all go away—life goes away.
Look at Miss Martin and young Ward! How tenderly the rogue is wrapping her up! how kindly she looks at him! The old folks are whispering behind as they wait for their carriage. What is their talk, think you? and when shall that pair make a match? When you see those pretty little creatures with their smiles and their blushes, and their pretty ways, would you like to be the Grand Bashaw?
"Mind and send me a large piece of cake," I go up and whisper archly to old Mr. Ward: and we look on rather sentimentally at the couple, almost the last in the rooms (there, I declare, go the musicians, and the clock is at five)—when Grundsell, with an air effare, rushes up to me and says, "For e'v'n sake, sir, go into the supper-room: there's that Hirish gent a-pitchin' into Mr. P."
THE MULLIGAN AND MR. PERKINS.
It was too true. I had taken him away after supper (he ran after Miss Little's carriage, who was dying in love with him as he fancied), but the brute had come back again. The doctors of divinity were putting up their condiments: everybody was gone; but the abominable Mulligan sat swinging his legs at the lonely supper-table!
Perkins was opposite, gasping at him.
The Mulligan.—I tell ye, ye are the butler, ye big fat man. Go get me some more champagne: it's good at this house.
Mr. Perkins (with dignity).—It IS good at this house; but—
The Mulligan.—Bht hwhat, ye goggling, bow-windowed jackass? Go get the wine, and we'll dthrink it together, my old buck.
Mr. Perkins.—My name, sir, is PERKINS.
The Mulligan.—Well, that rhymes with jerkins, my man of firkins; so don't let us have any more shirkings and lurkings, Mr. Perkins.
Mr. Perkins (with apoplectic energy).—Sir, I am the master of this house; and I order you to quit it. I'll not be insulted, sir. I'll send for a policeman, sir. What do you mean, Mr. Titmarsh, sir, by bringing this—this beast into my house, sir?
At this, with a scream like that of a Hyrcanian tiger, Mulligan of the hundred battles sprang forward at his prey; but we were beforehand with him. Mr. Gregory, Mr. Grundsell, Sir Giles Bacon's large man, the young gentlemen, and myself, rushed simultaneously upon the tipsy chieftain, and confined him. The doctors of divinity looked on with perfect indifference. That Mr. Perkins did not go off in a fit is a wonder. He was led away heaving and snorting frightfully.
Somebody smashed Mulligan's hat over his eyes, and I led him forth into the silent morning. The chirrup of the birds, the freshness of the rosy air, and a penn'orth of coffee that I got for him at a stall in the Regent Circus, revived him somewhat. When I quitted him, he was not angry but sad. He was desirous, it is true, of avenging the wrongs of Erin in battle line; he wished also to share the grave of Sarsfield and Hugh O'Neill; but he was sure that Miss Perkins, as well as Miss Little, was desperately in love with him; and I left him on a doorstep in tears.
"Is it best to be laughing-mad, or crying-mad, in the world?" says I moodily, coming into my street. Betsy the maid was already up and at work, on her knees, scouring the steps, and cheerfully beginning her honest daily labor.
BY MR. M. A TITMARSH.
Our street, from the little nook which I occupy in it, and whence I and a fellow-lodger and friend of mine cynically observe it, presents a strange motley scene. We are in a state of transition. We are not as yet in the town, and we have left the country, where we were when I came to lodge with Mrs. Cammysole, my excellent landlady. I then took second-floor apartments at No. 17, Waddilove Street, and since, although I have never moved (having various little comforts about me), I find myself living at No. 46A, Pocklington Gardens.
Why is this? Why am I to pay eighteen shillings instead of fifteen? I was quite as happy in Waddilove Street; but the fact is, a great portion of that venerable old district has passed away, and we are being absorbed into the splendid new white-stuccoed Doric-porticoed genteel Pocklington quarter. Sir Thomas Gibbs Pocklington, M. P. for the borough of Lathanplaster, is the founder of the district and his own fortune. The Pocklington Estate Office is in the Square, on a line with Waddil—with Pocklington Gardens I mean. The old inn, the "Ram and Magpie," where the market-gardeners used to bait, came out this year with a new white face and title, the shield, &c. of the "Pocklington Arms." Such a shield it is! Such quarterings! Howard, Cavendish, De Ros, De la Zouche, all mingled together.
Even our house, 46A, which Mrs. Cammysole has had painted white in compliment to the Gardens of which it now forms part, is a sort of impostor, and has no business to be called Gardens at all. Mr. Gibbs, Sir Thomas's agent and nephew, is furious at our daring to take the title which belongs to our betters. The very next door (No. 46, the Honorable Mrs. Mountnoddy,) is a house of five stories, shooting up proudly into the air, thirty feet above our old high-roofed low-roomed old tenement. Our house belongs to Captain Bragg, not only the landlord but the son-in-law of Mrs. Cammysole, who lives a couple of hundred yards down the street, at "The Bungalow." He was the commander of the "Ram Chunder" East Indiaman, and has quarrelled with the Pocklingtons ever since he bought houses in the parish.
He it is who will not sell or alter his houses to suit the spirit of the times. He it is who, though he made the widow Cammysole change the name of her street, will not pull down the house next door, nor the baker's next, nor the iron-bedstead and feather warehouse ensuing, nor the little barber's with the pole, nor, I am ashamed to say, the tripe-shop, still standing. The barber powders the heads of the great footmen from Pocklington Gardens; they are so big that they can scarcely sit in his little premises. And the old tavern, the "East Indiaman," is kept by Bragg's ship-steward, and protests against the "Pocklington Arms."
Down the road is Pocklington Chapel, Rev. Oldham Slocum—in brick, with arched windows and a wooden belfry: sober, dingy, and hideous. In the centre of Pocklington Gardens rises St. Waltheof's, the Rev. Cyril Thuryfer and assistants—a splendid Anglo-Norman edifice, vast, rich, elaborate, bran new, and intensely old. Down Avemary Lane you may hear the clink of the little Romish chapel bell. And hard by is a large broad-shouldered Ebenezer (Rev. Jonas Gronow), out of the windows of which the hymns come booming all Sunday long.
Going westward along the line, we come presently to Comandine House (on a part of the gardens of which Comandine Gardens is about to be erected by his lordship); farther on, "The Pineries," Mr. and Lady Mary Mango: and so we get into the country, and out of Our Street altogether, as I may say. But in the half-mile, over which it may be said to extend, we find all sorts and conditions of people—from the Right Honorable Lord Comandine down to the present topographer; who being of no rank as it were, has the fortune to be treated on almost friendly footing by all, from his lordship down to the tradesman.
OUR HOUSE IN OUR STREET
We must begin our little descriptions where they say charity should begin—at home. Mrs. Cammysole, my landlady, will be rather surprised when she reads this, and finds that a good-natured tenant, who has never complained of her impositions for fifteen years, understands every one of her tricks, and treats them, not with anger, but with scorn—with silent scorn.
On the 18th of December, 1837, for instance, coming gently down stairs, and before my usual wont, I saw you seated in my arm-chair, peeping into a letter that came from my aunt in the country, just as if it had been addressed to you, and not to "M. A. Titmarsh, Esq." Did I make any disturbance? far from it; I slunk back to my bedroom (being enabled to walk silently in the beautiful pair of worsted slippers Miss Penelope J—s worked for me: they are worn out now, dear Penelope!) and then rattling open the door with a great noise, descending the stairs, singing "Son vergin vezzosa" at the top of my voice. You were not in my sitting-room, Mrs. Cammysole, when I entered that apartment.
You have been reading all my letters, papers, manuscripts, brouillons of verses, inchoate articles for the Morning Post and Morning Chronicle, invitations to dinner and tea—all my family letters, all Eliza Townley's letters, from the first, in which she declared that to be the bride of her beloved Michelagnolo was the fondest wish of her maiden heart, to the last, in which she announced that her Thomas was the best of husbands, and signed herself "Eliza Slogger;" all Mary Farmer's letters, all Emily Delamere's; all that poor foolish old Miss MacWhirter's, whom I would as soon marry as ——: in a word, I know that you, you hawk-beaked, keen-eyed, sleepless, indefatigable old Mrs. Cammysole, have read all my papers for these fifteen years.
I know that you cast your curious old eyes over all the manuscripts which you find in my coat-pockets and those of my pantaloons, as they hang in a drapery over the door-handle of my bedroom.
I know that you count the money in my green and gold purse, which Lucy Netterville gave me, and speculate on the manner in which I have laid out the difference between to-day and yesterday.
I know that you have an understanding with the laundress (to whom you say that you are all-powerful with me), threatening to take away my practice from her, unless she gets up gratis some of your fine linen.
I know that we both have a pennyworth of cream for breakfast, which is brought in in the same little can; and I know who has the most for her share.
I know how many lumps of sugar you take from each pound as it arrives. I have counted the lumps, you old thief, and for years have never said a word, except to Miss Clapperclaw, the first-floor lodger. Once I put a bottle of pale brandy into that cupboard, of which you and I only have keys, and the liquor wasted and wasted away until it was all gone. You drank the whole of it, you wicked old woman. You a lady, indeed!
I know your rage when they did me the honor to elect me a member of the "Poluphloisboiothalasses Club," and I ceased consequently to dine at home. When I DID dine at home,—on a beefsteak let us say,—I should like to know what you had for supper. You first amputated portions of the meat when raw; you abstracted more when cooked. Do you think I was taken in by your flimsy pretences? I wonder how you could dare to do such things before your maids (you a clergyman's daughter and widow, indeed), whom you yourself were always charging with roguery.
Yes, the insolence of the old woman is unbearable, and I must break out at last. If she goes off in a fit at reading this, I am sure I shan't mind. She has two unhappy wenches, against whom her old tongue is clacking from morning till night: she pounces on them at all hours. It was but this morning at eight, when poor Molly was brooming the steps, and the baker paying her by no means unmerited compliments, that my landlady came whirling out of the ground-floor front, and sent the poor girl whimpering into the kitchen.
Were it but for her conduct to her maids I was determined publicly to denounce her. These poor wretches she causes to lead the lives of demons; and not content with bullying them all day, she sleeps at night in the same room with them, so that she may have them up before daybreak, and scold them while they are dressing.
Certain it is, that between her and Miss Clapperclaw, on the first floor, the poor wenches lead a dismal life.
It is to you that I owe most of my knowledge of our neighbors; from you it is that most of the facts and observations contained in these brief pages are taken. Many a night, over our tea, have we talked amiably about our neighbors and their little failings; and as I know that you speak of mine pretty freely, why, let me say, my dear Bessy, that if we have not built up Our Street between us, at least we have pulled it to pieces.
THE BUNGALOW—CAPTAIN AND MRS. BRAGG.
Long, long ago, when Our Street was the country—a stagecoach between us and London passing four times a day—I do not care to own that it was a sight of Flora Cammysole's face, under the card of her mamma's "Lodgings to Let," which first caused me to become a tenant of Our Street. A fine good-humored lass she was then; and I gave her lessons (part out of the rent) in French and flower-painting. She has made a fine rich marriage since, although her eyes have often seemed to me to say, "Ah, Mr. T., why didn't you, when there was yet time, and we both of us were free, propose—you know what?" "Psha! Where was the money, my dear madam?"
Captain Bragg, then occupied in building Bungalow Lodge—Bragg, I say, living on the first floor, and entertaining sea-captains, merchants, and East Indian friends with his grand ship's plate, being disappointed in a project of marrying a director's daughter, who was also a second cousin once removed of a peer,—sent in a fury for Mrs. Cammysole, his landlady, and proposed to marry Flora off-hand, and settle four hundred a year upon her. Flora was ordered from the back-parlor (the ground-floor occupies the second-floor bedroom), and was on the spot made acquainted with the splendid offer which the first-floor had made her. She has been Mrs. Captain Bragg these twelve years.
Bragg to this day wears anchor-buttons, and has a dress-coat with a gold strap for epaulets, in case he should have a fancy to sport them. His house is covered with portraits, busts, and miniatures of himself. His wife is made to wear one of the latter. On his sideboard are pieces of plate, presented by the passengers of the "Ram Chunder" to Captain Bragg: "The 'Ram Chunder' East Indiaman, in a gale, off Table Bay;" "The Outward-bound Fleet, under convoy of her Majesty's frigate 'Loblollyboy,' Captain Gutch, beating off the French squadron, under Commodore Leloup (the 'Ram Chunder,' S.E. by E., is represented engaged with the 'Mirliton' corvette);" "The 'Ram Chunder' standing into the Hooghly, with Captain Bragg, his telescope and speaking-trumpet, on the poop;" "Captain Bragg presenting the Officers of the 'Ram Chunder' to General Bonaparte at St. Helena—TITMARSH" (this fine piece was painted by me when I was in favor with Bragg); in a word, Bragg and the "Ram Chunder" are all over the house.
Although I have eaten scores of dinners at Captain Bragg's charge, yet his hospitality is so insolent, that none of us who frequent his mahogany feel any obligation to our braggart entertainer.
After he has given one of his great heavy dinners he always takes an opportunity to tell you, in the most public way, how many bottles of wine were drunk. His pleasure is to make his guests tipsy, and to tell everybody how and when the period of inebriation arose. And Miss Clapperclaw tells me that he often comes over laughing and giggling to her, and pretending that he has brought ME into this condition—a calumny which I fling contemptuously in his face.
He scarcely gives any but men's parties, and invites the whole club home to dinner. What is the compliment of being asked, when the whole club is asked too, I should like to know? Men's parties are only good for boys. I hate a dinner where there are no women. Bragg sits at the head of his table, and bullies the solitary Mrs. Bragg.
He entertains us with stories of storms which he, Bragg, encountered—of dinners which he, Bragg, has received from the Governor-General of India—of jokes which he, Bragg, has heard; and however stale or odious they may be, poor Mrs. B. is always expected to laugh.
Woe be to her if she doesn't, or if she laughs at anybody else's jokes. I have seen Bragg go up to her and squeeze her arm with a savage grind of his teeth, and say, with an oath, "Hang it, madam, how dare you laugh when any man but your husband speaks to you? I forbid you to grin in that way. I forbid you to look sulky. I forbid you to look happy, or to look up, or to keep your eyes down to the ground. I desire you will not be trapesing through the rooms. I order you not to sit as still as a stone." He curses her if the wine is corked, or if the dinner is spoiled, or if she comes a minute too soon to the club for him, or arrives a minute too late. He forbids her to walk, except upon his arm. And the consequence of his ill treatment is, that Mrs. Cammysole and Mrs. Bragg respect him beyond measure, and think him the first of human beings.
"I never knew a woman who was constantly bullied by her husband who did not like him the better for it," Miss Clapperclaw says. And though this speech has some of Clapp's usual sardonic humor in it, I can't but think there is some truth in the remark.
LEVANT HOUSE CHAMBERS.
MR. RUMBOLD, A.R.A., AND MISS RUMBOLD.
When Lord Levant quitted the country and this neighborhood, in which the tradesmen still deplore him, No. 56, known as Levantine House, was let to the "Pococurante Club," which was speedily bankrupt (for we are too far from the centre of town to support a club of our own); it was subsequently hired by the West Diddlesex Railroad; and is now divided into sets of chambers, superintended by an acrimonious housekeeper, and by a porter in a sham livery: whom, if you don't find him at the door, you may as well seek at the "Grapes" public-house, in the little lane round the corner. He varnishes the japan-boots of the dandy lodgers; reads Mr. Pinkney's Morning Post before he lets him have it; and neglects the letters of the inmates of the chambers generally.
The great rooms, which were occupied as the salons of the noble Levant, the coffee-rooms of the "Pococurante" (a club where the play was furious, as I am told), and the board-room and manager's-room of the West Diddlesex, are tenanted now by a couple of artists: young Pinkney the miniaturist, and George Rumbold the historical painter. Miss Rumbold, his sister lives with him, by the way; but with that young lady of course we have nothing to do.
I knew both these gentlemen at Rome, where George wore a velvet doublet and a beard down to his chest, and used to talk about high art at the "Caffe Greco." How it smelled of smoke, that velveteen doublet of his, with which his stringy red beard was likewise perfumed! It was in his studio that I had the honor to be introduced to his sister, the fair Miss Clara: she had a large casque with a red horse-hair plume (I thought it had been a wisp of her brother's beard at first), and held a tin-headed spear in her hand, representing a Roman warrior in the great picture of "Caractacus" George was painting—a piece sixty-four feet by eighteen. The Roman warrior blushed to be discovered in that attitude: the tin-headed spear trembled in the whitest arm in the world. So she put it down, and taking off the helmet also, went and sat in a far corner of the studio, mending George's stockings; whilst we smoked a couple of pipes, and talked about Raphael being a good deal overrated.
I think he is; and have never disguised my opinion about the "Transfiguration.". And all the time we talked, there were Clara's eyes looking lucidly out from the dark corner in which she was sitting, working away at the stockings. The lucky fellow! They were in a dreadful state of bad repair when she came out to him at Rome, after the death of their father, the Reverend Miles Rumbold.
George, while at Rome, painted "Caractacus;" a picture of "Non Angli sed Angeli" of course; a picture of "Alfred in the Neatherd's Cottage," seventy-two feet by forty-eight—(an idea of the gigantic size and Michel-Angelesque proportions of this picture may be formed, when I state that the mere muffin, of which the outcast king is spoiling the baking, is two feet three in diameter) and the deaths of Socrates, of Remus, and of the Christians under Nero respectively. I shall never forget how lovely Clara looked in white muslin, with her hair down, in this latter picture, giving herself up to a ferocious Carnifex (for which Bob Gaunter the architect sat), and refusing to listen to the mild suggestions of an insinuating Flamen: which character was a gross caricature of myself.
None of George's pictures sold. He has enough to tapestry Trafalgar Square. He has painted, since he came back to England, "The Flaying of Marsyas," "The Smothering of the Little Boys in the Tower," "A Plague Scene during the Great Pestilence," "Ugolino on the Seventh Day after he was deprived of Victuals," &c. For although these pictures have great merit, and the writhings of Marsyas, the convulsions of the little prince, the look of agony of St. Lawrence on the gridiron, &c. are quite true to nature, yet the subjects somehow are not agreeable; and if he hadn't a small patrimony, my friend George would starve.
Fondness for art leads me a great deal to his studio. George is a gentleman, and has very good friends, and good pluck too. When we were at Rome, there was a great row between him and young Heeltap, Lord Boxmoor's son, who was uncivil to Miss Rumbold; (the young scoundrel—had I been a fighting man, I should like to have shot him myself!). Lady Betty Bulbul is very fond of Clara; and Tom Bulbul, who took George's message to Heeltap, is always hanging about the studio. At least I know that I find the young jackanapes there almost every day, bringing a new novel, or some poisonous French poetry, or a basket of flowers, or grapes, with Lady Betty's love to her dear Clara—a young rascal with white kids, and his hair curled every morning. What business has HE to be dangling about George Rumbold's premises, and sticking up his ugly pug-face as a model for all George's pictures?
Miss Clapperclaw says Bulbul is evidently smitten, and Clara too. What! would she put up with such a little fribble as that, when there is a man of intellect and taste who—but I won't believe it. It is all the jealousy of women.
SOME OF THE SERVANTS IN OUR STREET.
These gentlemen have two clubs in our quarter—for the butlers at the "Indiaman," and for the gents in livery at the "Pocklington Arms"—of either of which societies I should like to be a member. I am sure they could not be so dull as our club at the "Poluphloisboio," where one meets the same neat, clean, respectable old fogies every day.
But with the best wishes, it is impossible for the present writer to join either the "Plate Club" or the "Uniform Club" (as these reunions are designated); for one could not shake hands with a friend who was standing behind your chair, or nod a How-d'ye-do? to the butler who was pouring you out a glass of wine;—so that what I know about the gents in our neighborhood is from mere casual observation. For instance, I have a slight acquaintance with (1) Thomas Spavin, who commonly wears an air of injured innocence, and is groom to Mr. Joseph Green, of Our Street. "I tell why the brougham 'oss is out of condition, and why Desperation broke out all in a lather! 'Osses will, this 'eavy weather; and Desperation was always the most mystest hoss I ever see.—I take him out with Mr. Anderson's 'ounds—I'm above it. I allis was too timid to ride to 'ounds by natur; and Colonel Sprigs' groom as says he saw me, is a liar," &c. &c.
Such is the tenor of Mr. Spavin's remarks to his master. Whereas all the world in Our Street knows that Mr. Spavin spends at least a hundred a year in beer; that he keeps a betting-book; that he has lent Mr. Green's black brougham horse to the omnibus driver; and, at a time when Mr. G. supposed him at the veterinary surgeon's, has lent him to a livery stable, which has let him out to that gentleman himself, and actually driven him to dinner behind his own horse.
This conduct I can understand, but I cannot excuse—Mr. Spavin may; and I leave the matter to be settled betwixt himself and Mr. Green.
The second is Monsieur Sinbad, Mr. Clarence Bulbul's man, whom we all hate Clarence for keeping.
Mr. Sinbad is a foreigner, speaking no known language, but a mixture of every European dialect—so that he may be an Italian brigand, or a Tyrolese minstrel, or a Spanish smuggler, for what we know. I have heard say that he is neither of these, but an Irish Jew.
He wears studs, hair-oil, jewellery, and linen shirt-fronts, very finely embroidered, but not particular for whiteness. He generally appears in faded velvet waistcoats of a morning, and is always perfumed with stale tobacco. He wears large rings on his hands, which look as if he kept them up the chimney.
He does not appear to do anything earthly for Clarence Bulbul, except to smoke his cigars, and to practise on his guitar. He will not answer a bell, nor fetch a glass of water, nor go of an errand on which, au reste, Clarence dares not send him, being entirely afraid of his servant, and not daring to use him, or to abuse him, or to send him away.
3. Adams—Mr. Champignon's man—a good old man in an old livery coat with old worsted lace—so very old, deaf, surly, and faithful, that you wonder how he should have got into the family at all; who never kept a footman till last year, when they came into the street.
Miss Clapperclaw says she believes Adams to be Mrs. Champignon's father, and he certainly has a look of that lady; as Miss C. pointed out to me at dinner one night, whilst old Adams was blundering about amongst the hired men from Gunter's, and falling over the silver dishes.
4. Fipps, the buttoniest page in all the street: walks behind Mrs. Grimsby with her prayer-book, and protects her.
"If that woman wants a protector" (a female acquaintance remarks), "heaven be good to us! She is as big as an ogress, and has an upper lip which many a cornet of the Lifeguards might envy. Her poor dear husband was a big man, and she could beat him easily; and did too. Mrs. Grimsby indeed! Why, my dear Mr. Titmarsh, it is Glumdalca walking with Tom Thumb."
This observation of Miss C.'s is very true, and Mrs. Grimsby might carry her prayer-book to church herself. But Miss Clapperclaw, who is pretty well able to take care of herself too, was glad enough to have the protection of the page when she went out in the fly to pay visits, and before Mrs. Grimsby and she quarrelled at whist at Lady Pocklington's.
After this merely parenthetic observation, we come to 5, one of her ladyship's large men, Mr. Jeames—a gentleman of vast stature and proportions, who is almost nose to nose with us as we pass her ladyship's door on the outside of the omnibus. I think Jeames has a contempt for a man whom he witnesses in that position. I have fancied something like that feeling showed itself (as far as it may in a well-bred gentleman accustomed to society) in his behavior, while waiting behind my chair at dinner.
But I take Jeames to be, like most giants, good-natured, lazy, stupid, soft-hearted, and extremely fond of drink. One night, his lady being engaged to dinner at Nightingale House, I saw Mr. Jeames resting himself on a bench at the "Pocklington Arms:" where, as he had no liquor before him, he had probably exhausted his credit.
Little Spitfire, Mr. Clarence Bulbul's boy, the wickedest little varlet that ever hung on to a cab, was "chaffing" Mr. Jeames, holding up to his face a pot of porter almost as big as the young potifer himself.
"Vill you now, Big'un, or von't you?" Spitfire said. "If you're thirsty, vy don't you say so and squench it, old boy?"
"Don't ago on making fun of me—I can't abear chaffin'," was the reply of Mr. Jeames, and tears actually stood in his fine eyes as he looked at the porter and the screeching little imp before him.
Spitfire (real name unknown) gave him some of the drink: I am happy to say Jeames's face wore quite a different look when it rose gasping out of the porter; and I judge of his dispositions from the above trivial incident.
The last boy in the sketch, 6, need scarcely be particularized. Doctor's boy; was a charity-boy; stripes evidently added on to a pair of the doctor's clothes of last year—Miss Clapperclaw pointed this out to me with a giggle. Nothing escapes that old woman.
As we were walking in Kensington Gardens, she pointed me out Mrs. Bragg's nursery-maid, who sings so loud at church, engaged with a Lifeguardsman, whom she was trying to convert probably. My virtuous friend rose indignant at the sight.
"That's why these minxes like Kensington Gardens," she cried. "Look at the woman: she leaves the baby on the grass, for the giant to trample upon; and that little wretch of a Hastings Bragg is riding on the monster's cane."
Miss C. flew up and seized the infant, waking it out of its sleep, and causing all the gardens to echo with its squalling. "I'll teach you to be impudent to me," she said to the nursery-maid, with whom my vivacious old friend, I suppose, has had a difference; and she would not release the infant until she had rung the bell of Bungalow Lodge, where she gave it up to the footman.
The giant in scarlet had slunk down towards Knightsbridge meanwhile. The big rogues are always crossing the Park and the Gardens, and hankering about Our Street.
WHAT SOMETIMES HAPPENS IN OUR STREET.
It was before old Hunkington's house that the mutes were standing, as I passed and saw this group at the door. The charity-boy with the hoop is the son of the jolly-looking mute; he admires his father, who admires himself too, in those bran-new sables. The other infants are the spawn of the alleys about Our Street. Only the parson and the typhus fever visit those mysterious haunts, which lie crouched about our splendid houses like Lazarus at the threshold of Dives.
Those little ones come crawling abroad in the sunshine, to the annoyance of the beadles, and the horror of a number of good people in the street. They will bring up the rear of the procession anon, when the grand omnibus with the feathers, and the line coaches with the long-tailed black horses, and the gentleman's private carriages with the shutters up, pass along to Saint Waltheof's.
You can hear the slow bell tolling clear in the sunshine already, mingling with the crowing of "Punch," who is passing down the street with his show; and the two musics make a queer medley.
Not near so many people, I remark, engage "Punch" now as in the good old times. I suppose our quarter is growing too genteel for him.
Miss Bridget Jones, a poor curate's daughter in Wales, comes into all Hunkington's property, and will take his name, as I am told. Nobody ever heard of her before. I am sure Captain Hunkington, and his brother Barnwell Hunkington, must wish that the lucky young lady had never been heard of to the present day.
But they will have the consolation of thinking that they did their duty by their uncle, and consoled his declining years. It was but last month that Millwood Hunkington (the Captain) sent the old gentleman a service of plate; and Mrs. Barnwell got a reclining carriage at a great expense from Hobbs and Dobbs's, in which the old gentleman went out only once.
"It is a punishment on those Hunkingtons," Miss Clapperclaw remarks: "upon those people who have been always living beyond their little incomes, and always speculating upon what the old man would leave them, and always coaxing him with presents which they could not afford, and he did not want. It is a punishment upon those Hunkingtons to be so disappointed."
"Think of giving him plate," Miss C. justly says, "who had chests-full; and sending him a carriage, who could afford to buy all Long Acre. And everything goes to Miss Jones Hunkington. I wonder will she give the things back?" Miss Clapperclaw asks. "I wouldn't."
And indeed I don't think Miss Clapperclaw would.
SOMEBODY WHOM NOBODY KNOWS.
That pretty little house, the last in Pocklington Square, was lately occupied by a young widow lady who wore a pink bonnet, a short silk dress, sustained by a crinoline, and a light blue mantle, or over-jacket (Miss C. is not here to tell me the name of the garment); or else a black velvet pelisse, a yellow shawl, and a white bonnet; or else—but never mind the dress, which seemed to be of the handsomest sort money could buy—and who had very long glossy black ringlets, and a peculiarly brilliant complexion,—No. 96, Pocklington Square, I say, was lately occupied by a widow lady named Mrs. Stafford Molyneux.
The very first day on which an intimate and valued female friend of mine saw Mrs. Stafford Molyneux stepping into a brougham, with a splendid bay horse, and without a footman, (mark, if you please, that delicate sign of respectability,) and after a moment's examination of Mrs. S. M.'s toilette, her manners, little dog, carnation-colored parasol, &c., Miss Elizabeth Clapperclaw clapped to the opera-glass with which she had been regarding the new inhabitant of Our Street, came away from the window in a great flurry, and began poking her fire in a fit of virtuous indignation.
"She's very pretty," said I, who had been looking over Miss C.'s shoulder at the widow with the flashing eyes and drooping ringlets.
"Hold your tongue, sir," said Miss Clapperclaw, tossing up her virgin head with an indignant blush on her nose. "It's a sin and a shame that such a creature should be riding in her carriage, forsooth, when honest people must go on foot."
Subsequent observations confirmed my revered fellow-lodger's anger and opinion. We have watched Hansom cabs standing before that lady's house for hours; we have seen broughams, with great flaring eyes, keeping watch there in the darkness; we have seen the vans from the comestible-shops drive up and discharge loads of wines, groceries, French plums, and other articles of luxurious horror. We have seen Count Wowski's drag, Lord Martingale's carriage, Mr. Deuceace's cab drive up there time after time; and (having remarked previously the pastry-cook's men arrive with the trays and entrees), we have known that this widow was giving dinners at the little house in Pocklington Square—dinners such as decent people could not hope to enjoy.
My excellent friend has been in a perfect fury when Mrs. Stafford Molyneux, in a black velvet riding-habit, with a hat and feather, has come out and mounted an odious gray horse, and has cantered down the street, followed by her groom upon a bay.
"It won't last long—it must end in shame and humiliation," my dear Miss C. has remarked, disappointed that the tiles and chimney-pots did not fall down upon Mrs. Stafford Molyneux's head, and crush that cantering, audacious woman.
But it was a consolation to see her when she walked out with a French maid, a couple of children, and a little dog hanging on to her by a blue ribbon. She always held down her head then—her head with the drooping black ringlets. The virtuous and well-disposed avoided her. I have seen the Square-keeper himself look puzzled as she passed; and Lady Kicklebury walking by with Miss K., her daughter, turn away from Mrs. Stafford Molyneux, and fling back at her a ruthless Parthian glance that ought to have killed any woman of decent sensibility.
That wretched woman, meanwhile, with her rouged cheeks (for rouge it IS, Miss Clapperclaw swears, and who is a better judge?) has walked on conscious, and yet somehow braving out the Street. You could read pride of her beauty, pride of her fine clothes, shame of her position, in her downcast black eyes.
As for Mademoiselle Trampoline, her French maid, she would stare the sun itself out of countenance. One day she tossed up her head as she passed under our windows with a look of scorn that drove Miss Clapperclaw back to the fireplace again.
It was Mrs. Stafford Molyneux's children, however, whom I pitied the most. Once her boy, in a flaring tartan, went up to speak to Master Roderick Lacy, whose maid was engaged ogling a policeman; and the children were going to make friends, being united with a hoop which Master Molyneux had, when Master Roderick's maid, rushing up, clutched her charge to her arms, and hurried away, leaving little Molyneux sad and wondering.
"Why won't he play with me, mamma?" Master Molyneux asked—and his mother's face blushed purple as she walked away.
"Ah—heaven help us and forgive us!" said I; but Miss C. can never forgive the mother or child; and she clapped her hands for joy one day when we saw the shutters up, bills in the windows, a carpet hanging out over the balcony, and a crowd of shabby Jews about the steps—giving token that the reign of Mrs. Stafford Molyneux was over. The pastry-cooks and their trays, the bay and the gray, the brougham and the groom, the noblemen and their cabs, were all gone; and the tradesmen in the neighborhood were crying out that they were done.
"Serve the odious minx right!" says Miss C.; and she played at piquet that night with more vigor than I have known her manifest for these last ten years.
What is it that makes certain old ladies so savage upon certain subjects? Miss C. is a good woman; pays her rent and her tradesmen; gives plenty to the poor; is brisk with her tongue—kind-hearted in the main; but if Mrs. Stafford Molyneux and her children were plunged into a caldron of boiling vinegar, I think my revered friend would not take them out.
THE MAN IN POSSESSION.
For another misfortune which occurred in Our Street we were much more compassionate. We liked Danby Dixon, and his wife Fanny Dixon still more. Miss C. had a paper of biscuits and a box of preserved apricots always in the cupboard, ready for Dixon's children—provisions by the way which she locked up under Mrs. Cammysole's nose, so that our landlady could by no possibility lay a hand on them.
Dixon and his wife had the neatest little house possible, (No. 16, opposite 96,) and were liked and respected by the whole street. He was called Dandy Dixon when he was in the dragoons, and was a light weight, and rather famous as a gentleman rider. On his marriage, he sold out and got fat: and was indeed a florid, contented, and jovial gentleman.
His little wife was charming—to see her in pink with some miniature Dixons, in pink too, round about her, or in that beautiful gray dress, with the deep black lace flounces, which she wore at my Lord Comandine's on the night of the private theatricals, would have done any man good. To hear her sing any of my little ballads, "Knowest Thou the Willow-tree?" for instance, or "The Rose upon my Balcony," or "The Humming of the Honey-bee," (far superior in MY judgment, and in that of SOME GOOD JUDGES likewise, to that humbug Clarence Bulbul's ballads,)—to hear her, I say, sing these, was to be in a sort of small Elysium. Dear, dear little Fanny Dixon! she was like a little chirping bird of Paradise. It was a shame that storms should ever ruffle such a tender plumage.
Well, never mind about sentiment. Danby Dixon, the owner of this little treasure, an ex-captain of Dragoons, and having nothing to do, and a small income, wisely thought he would employ his spare time, and increase his revenue. He became a director of the Cornaro Life Insurance Company, of the Tregulpho tin-mines, and of four or five railroad companies. It was amusing to see him swaggering about the City in his clinking boots, and with his high and mighty dragoon manners. For a time his talk about shares after dinner was perfectly intolerable; and I for one was always glad to leave him in the company of sundry very dubious capitalists who frequented his house, and walk up to hear Mrs. Fanny warbling at the piano with her little children about her knees.
It was only last season that they set up a carriage—the modestest little vehicle conceivable—driven by Kirby, who had been in Dixon's troop in the regiment, and had followed him into private life as coachman, footman, and page.
One day lately I went into Dixon's house, hearing that some calamities had befallen him, the particulars of which Miss Clapperclaw was desirous to know. The creditors of the Tregulpho Mines had got a verdict against him as one of the directors of that company; the engineer of the Little Diddlesex Junction had sued him for two thousand three hundred pounds—the charges of that scientific man for six weeks' labor in surveying the line. His brother directors were to be discovered nowhere: Windham, Dodgin, Mizzlington, and the rest, were all gone long ago.
When I entered, the door was open: there was a smell of smoke in the dining-room, where a gentleman at noonday was seated with a pipe and a pot of beer: a man in possession indeed, in that comfortable pretty parlor, by that snug round table where I have so often seen Fanny Dixon's smiling face.
Kirby, the ex-dragoon, was scowling at the fellow, who lay upon a little settee reading the newspaper, with an evident desire to kill him. Mrs. Kirby, his wife, held little Danby, poor Dixon's son and heir. Dixon's portrait smiled over the sideboard still, and his wife was up stairs in an agony of fear, with the poor little daughters of this bankrupt, broken family.
This poor soul had actually come down and paid a visit to the man in possession. She had sent wine and dinner to "the gentleman down stairs," as she called him in her terror. She had tried to move his heart, by representing to him how innocent Captain Dixon was, and how he had always paid, and always remained at home when everybody else had fled. As if her tears and simple tales and entreaties could move that man in possession out of the house, or induce him to pay the costs of the action which her husband had lost.
Danby meanwhile was at Boulogne, sickening after his wife and children. They sold everything in his house—all his smart furniture and neat little stock of plate; his wardrobe and his linen, "the property of a gentleman gone abroad;" his carriage by the best maker; and his wine selected without regard to expense. His house was shut up as completely as his opposite neighbor's; and a new tenant is just having it fresh painted inside and out, as if poor Dixon had left an infection behind.
Kirby and his wife went across the water with the children and Mrs. Fanny—she has a small settlement; and I am bound to say that our mutual friend Miss Elizabeth C. went down with Mrs. Dixon in the fly to the Tower Stairs, and stopped in Lombard Street by the way.
So it is that the world wags: that honest men and knaves alike are always having ups and downs of fortune, and that we are perpetually changing tenants in Our Street.
THE LION OF THE STREET.
What people can find in Clarence Bulbul, who has lately taken upon himself the rank and dignity of Lion of Our Street, I have always been at a loss to conjecture.
"He has written an Eastern book of considerable merit," Miss Clapperclaw says; but hang it, has not everybody written an Eastern book? I should like to meet anybody in society now who has not been up to the second cataract. An Eastern book forsooth! My Lord Castleroyal has done one—an honest one; my Lord Youngent another—an amusing one; my Lord Woolsey another—a pious one; there is "The Cutlet and the Cabob"—a sentimental one; "Timbuctoothen"—a humorous one, all ludicrously overrated, in my opinion: not including my own little book, of which a copy or two is still to be had, by the way.
Well, then, Clarence Bulbul, because he has made part of the little tour that all of us know, comes back and gives himself airs, forsooth, and howls as if he were just out of the great Libyan desert.
When we go and see him, that Irish Jew courier, whom I have before had the honor to describe, looks up from the novel which he is reading in the ante-room, and says, "Mon maitre est au divan," or, "Monsieur trouvera Monsieur dans son serail," and relapses into the Comte de Montecristo again.
Yes, the impudent wretch has actually a room in his apartments on the ground-floor of his mother's house, which he calls his harem. When Lady Betty Bulbul (they are of the Nightingale family) or Miss Blanche comes down to visit him, their slippers are placed at the door, and he receives them on an ottoman, and these infatuated women will actually light his pipe for him.
Little Spitfire, the groom, hangs about the drawing-room, outside the harem forsooth! so that he may be ready when Clarence Bulbul claps hands for him to bring the pipes and coffee.
He has coffee and pipes for everybody. I should like you to have seen the face of old Bowly, his college-tutor, called upon to sit cross-legged on a divan, a little cup of bitter black Mocha put into his hand, and a large amber-muzzled pipe stuck into his mouth by Spitfire, before he could so much as say it was a fine day. Bowly almost thought he had compromised his principles by consenting so far to this Turkish manner.
Bulbul's dinners are, I own, very good; his pilaffs and curries excellent. He tried to make us eat rice with our fingers, it is true; but he scalded his own hands in the business, and invariably bedizened his shirt; so he has left off the Turkish practice, for dinner at least, and uses a fork like a Christian.
But it is in society that he is most remarkable; and here he would, I own, be odious, but he becomes delightful, because all the men hate him so. A perfect chorus of abuse is raised round about him. "Confounded impostor," says one; "Impudent jackass," says another; "Miserable puppy," cries a third; "I'd like to wring his neck," says Bruff, scowling over his shoulder at him. Clarence meanwhile nods, winks, smiles, and patronizes them all with the easiest good-humor. He is a fellow who would poke an archbishop in the apron, or clap a duke on the shoulder, as coolly as he would address you and me.