I saw him the other night at Mrs. Bumpsher's grand let-off. He flung himself down cross-legged on a pink satin sofa, so that you could see Mrs. Bumpsher quiver with rage in the distance, Bruff growl with fury from the further room, and Miss Pim, on whose frock Bulbul's feet rested, look up like a timid fawn.
"Fan me, Miss Pim," said he of the cushion. "You look like a perfect Peri to-night. You remind me of a girl I once knew in Circassia—Ameena, the sister of Schamyl Bey. Do you know, Miss Pim, that you would fetch twenty thousand piastres in the market at Constantinople?"
"Law, Mr. Bulbul!" is all Miss Pim can ejaculate; and having talked over Miss Pim, Clarence goes off to another houri, whom he fascinates in a similar manner. He charmed Mrs. Waddy by telling her that she was the exact figure of the Pasha of Egypt's second wife. He gave Miss Tokely a piece of the sack in which Zuleika was drowned; and he actually persuaded that poor little silly Miss Vain to turn Mahometan, and sent her up to the Turkish ambassador's to look out for a mufti.
THE DOVE OF OUR STREET.
If Bulbul is our Lion, Young Oriel may be described as The Dove of our colony. He is almost as great a pasha among the ladies as Bulbul. They crowd in flocks to see him at Saint Waltheof's, where the immense height of his forehead, the rigid asceticism of his surplice, the twang with which he intones the service, and the namby-pamby mysticism of his sermons, have turned all the dear girls' heads for some time past. While we were having a rubber at Mrs. Chauntry's, whose daughters are following the new mode, I heard the following talk (which made me revoke by the way) going on, in what was formerly called the young ladies' room, but is now styled the Oratory:—
MISS CHAUNTRY. MISS ISABEL CHAUNTRY.
MISS DE L'AISLE. MISS PYX.
REV. L. ORIEL. REV. O. SLOCUM—[In the further room.]
Miss Chauntry (sighing).—Is it wrong to be in the Guards, dear Mr. Oriel?
Miss Pyx.—She will make Frank de Boots sell out when he marries.
Mr. Oriel.—To be in the Guards, dear sister? The church has always encouraged the army. Saint Martin of Tours was in the army; Saint Louis was in the army; Saint Waltheof, our patron, Saint Witikind of Aldermanbury, Saint Wamba, and Saint Walloff were in the army. Saint Wapshot was captain of the guard of Queen Boadicea; and Saint Werewolf was a major in the Danish cavalry. The holy Saint Ignatius of Loyola carried a pike, as we know; and—
Miss De l'Aisle.—Will you take some tea, dear Mr. Oriel?
Oriel.—This is not one of MY feast days, Sister Emma. It is the feast of Saint Wagstatf of Walthamstow.
The Young Ladies.—And we must not even take tea?
Oriel.—Dear sisters, I said not so. YOU may do as you list; but I am strong (with a heart-broken sigh); don't ply me (he reels). I took a little water and a parched pea after matins. To-morrow is a flesh day, and—and I shall be better then.
Rev. O. Slocum (from within).—Madam, I take your heart with my small trump.
Oriel.—Yes, better! dear sister; it is only a passing—a—weakness.
Miss I. Chauntry.—He's dying of fever.
Miss Chauntry.—I'm so glad De Boots need not leave the Blues.
Miss Pyx.—He wears sackcloth and cinders inside his waistcoat.
Miss De l'Aisle.—He's told me to-night he's going to—to—Ro-o-ome. [Miss De l'Aisle bursts into tears.]
Rev. O. Slocum.—My lord, I have the highest club, which gives the trick and two by honors.
Thus, you see, we have a variety of clergymen in Our Street. Mr. Oriel is of the pointed Gothic school, while old Slocum is of the good old tawny port-wine school: and it must be confessed that Mr. Gronow, at Ebenezer, has a hearty abhorrence for both.
As for Gronow, I pity him, if his future lot should fall where Mr. Oriel supposes that it will.
And as for Oriel, he has not even the benefit of purgatory, which he would accord to his neighbor Ebenezer; while old Slocum pronounces both to be a couple of humbugs; and Mr. Mole, the demure little beetle-browed chaplain of the little church of Avemary Lane, keeps his sly eyes down to the ground when he passes any one of his black-coated brethren.
There is only one point on which, my friends, they seem agreed. Slocum likes port, but who ever heard that he neglected his poor? Gronow, if he comminates his neighbor's congregation, is the affectionate father of his own. Oriel, if he loves pointed Gothic and parched peas for breakfast, has a prodigious soup-kitchen for his poor; and as for little Father Mole, who never lifts his eyes from the ground, ask our doctor at what bedsides he finds him, and how he soothes poverty, and braves misery and infection.
No. 6, Pocklington Gardens, (the house with the quantity of flowers in the windows, and the awning over the entrance,) George Bumpsher, Esquire, M.P. for Humborough (and the Beanstalks, Kent).
For some time after this gorgeous family came into our quarter, I mistook a bald-headed, stout person, whom I used to see looking through the flowers on the upper windows, for Bumpsher himself, or for the butler of the family; whereas it was no other than Mrs. Bumpsher, without her chestnut wig, and who is at least three times the size of her husband.
The Bumpshers and the house of Mango at the Pineries vie together in their desire to dominate over the neighborhood; and each votes the other a vulgar and purse-proud family. The fact is, both are City people. Bumpsher, in his mercantile capacity, is a wholesale stationer in Thames Street; and his wife was the daughter of an eminent bill-broking firm, not a thousand miles from Lombard Street.
He does not sport a coronet and supporters upon his London plate and carriages; but his country-house is emblazoned all over with those heraldic decorations. He puts on an order when he goes abroad, and is Count Bumpsher of the Roman States—which title he purchased from the late Pope (through Prince Polonia the banker) for a couple of thousand scudi.
It is as good as a coronation to see him and Mrs. Bumpsher go to Court. I wonder the carriage can hold them both. On those days Mrs. Bumpsher holds her own drawing-room before her Majesty's; and we are invited to come and see her sitting in state, upon the largest sofa in her rooms. She has need of a stout one, I promise you. Her very feathers must weigh something considerable. The diamonds on her stomacher would embroider a full-sized carpet-bag. She has rubies, ribbons, cameos, emeralds, gold serpents, opals, and Valenciennes lace, as if she were an immense sample out of Howell and James's shop.
She took up with little Pinkney at Rome, where he made a charming picture of her, representing her as about eighteen, with a cherub in her lap, who has some liking to Bryanstone Bumpsher, her enormous, vulgar son; now a cornet in the Blues, and anything but a cherub, as those would say who saw him in his uniform jacket.
I remember Pinkney when he was painting the picture, Bryanstone being then a youth in what they call a skeleton suit (as if such a pig of a child could ever have been dressed in anything resembling a skeleton)—I remember, I say, Mrs. B. sitting to Pinkney in a sort of Egerian costume, her boy by her side, whose head the artist turned round and directed it towards a piece of gingerbread, which he was to have at the end of the sitting.
Pinkney, indeed, a painter!—a contemptible little humbug, a parasite of the great! He has painted Mrs. Bumpsher younger every year for these last ten years—and you see in the advertisements of all her parties his odious little name stuck in at the end of the list. I'm sure, for my part, I'd scorn to enter her doors, or be the toady of any woman.
JOLLY NEWBOY, ESQ., M.P.
How different it is with the Newboys, now, where I have an entree (having indeed had the honor in former days to give lessons to both the ladies)—and where such a quack as Pinkney would never be allowed to enter! A merrier house the whole quarter cannot furnish. It is there you meet people of all ranks and degrees, not only from our quarter, but from the rest of the town. It is there that our great man, the Right Honorable Lord Comandine, came up and spoke to me in so encouraging a manner that I hope to be invited to one of his lordship's excellent dinners (of which I shall not fail to give a very flattering description) before the season is over. It is there you find yourself talking to statesmen, poets, and artists—not sham poets like Bulbul, or quack artists like that Pinkney—but to the best members of all society. It is there I made this sketch, while Miss Chesterforth was singing a deep-toned tragic ballad, and her mother scowling behind her. What a buzz and clack and chatter there was in the room to be sure! When Miss Chesterforth sings, everybody begins to talk. Hicks and old Fogy were on Ireland: Bass was roaring into old Pump's ears (or into his horn rather) about the Navigation Laws; I was engaged talking to the charming Mrs. Short; while Charley Bonham (a mere prig, in whom I am surprised that the women can see anything,) was pouring out his fulsome rhapsodies in the ears of Diana White. Lovely, lovely Diana White! were it not for three or four other engagements, I know a heart that would suit you to a T.
Newboy's I pronounce to be the jolliest house in the street. He has only of late had a rush of prosperity, and turned Parliament man; for his distant cousin, of the ancient house of Newboy of ——shire, dying, Fred—then making believe to practise at the bar, and living with the utmost modesty in Gray's Inn Road—found himself master of a fortune, and a great house in the country; of which getting tired, as in the course of nature he should, he came up to London, and took that fine mansion in our Gardens. He represents Mumborough in Parliament, a seat which has been time out of mind occupied by a Newboy.
Though he does not speak, being a great deal too rich, sensible, and lazy, he somehow occupies himself with reading blue-books, and indeed talks a great deal too much good sense of late over his dinner-table, where there is always a cover for the present writer.
He falls asleep pretty assiduously too after that meal—a practice which I can well pardon in him—for, between ourselves, his wife, Maria Newboy, and his sister, Clarissa, are the loveliest and kindest of their sex, and I would rather hear their innocent prattle, and lively talk about their neighbors, than the best wisdom from the wisest man that ever wore a beard.
Like a wise and good man, he leaves the question of his household entirely to the women. They like going to the play. They like going to Greenwich. They like coming to a party at Bachelor's hall. They are up to all sorts of fun, in a word; in which taste the good-natured Newboy acquiesces, provided he is left to follow his own.
It was only on the 17th of the month, that, having had the honor to dine at the house, when, after dinner, which took place at eight, we left Newboy to his blue-books, and went up stairs and sang a little to the guitar afterwards—it was only on the 17th December, the night of Lady Sowerby's party, that the following dialogue took place in the boudoir, whither Newboy, blue-books in hand, had ascended.
He was curled up with his House of Commons boots on his wife's arm-chair, reading his eternal blue-books, when Mrs. N. entered from her apartment, dressed for the evening.
Mrs. N.—Frederick, won't you come?
Mrs. N.—To Lady Sowerby's.
Mr. N.—I'd rather go to the Black Hole in Calcutta. Besides, this Sanitary Report is really the most interesting—[he begins to read.]
Mrs. N.—(piqued)—Well, Mr. Titmarsh will go with us.
Mr. N.—Will he? I wish him joy.
At this juncture Miss Clarissa Newboy enters in a pink paletot, trimmed with swansdown—looking like an angel—and we exchange glances of—what shall I say?—of sympathy on both parts, and consummate rapture on mine. But this is by-play.
Mrs. N.—Good night, Frederick. I think we shall be late.
Mr. N.—You won't wake me, I dare say; and you don't expect a public man to sit up.
Mrs. N.—It's not you, it's the servants. Cocker sleeps very heavily. The maids are best in bed, and are all ill with the influenza. I say, Frederick dear, don't you think you had better give me YOUR CHUBB KEY?
This astonishing proposal, which violates every recognized law of society—this demand which alters all the existing state of things—this fact of a woman asking for a door-key, struck me with a terror which I cannot describe, and impressed me with the fact of the vast progress of Our Street. The door-key! What would our grandmothers, who dwelt in this place when it was a rustic suburb, think of its condition now, when husbands stay at home, and wives go abroad with the latchkey?
The evening at Lady Sowerby's was the most delicious we have spent for long, long days.
Thus it will be seen that everybody of any consideration in Our Street takes a line. Mrs. Minimy (34) takes the homoeopathic line, and has soirees of doctors of that faith. Lady Pocklington takes the capitalist line; and those stupid and splendid dinners of hers are devoured by loan-contractors and railroad princes. Mrs. Trimmer (38) comes out in the scientific line, and indulges us in rational evenings, where history is the lightest subject admitted, and geology and the sanitary condition of the metropolis form the general themes of conversation. Mrs. Brumby plays finely on the bassoon, and has evenings dedicated to Sebastian Bach, and enlivened with Handel. At Mrs. Maskleyn's they are mad for charades and theatricals.
They performed last Christmas in a French piece, by Alexandre Dumas, I believe—"La Duchesse de Montefiasco," of which I forget the plot, but everybody was in love with everybody else's wife, except the hero, Don Alonzo, who was ardently attached to the Duchess, who turned out to be his grandmother. The piece was translated by Lord Fiddle-faddle, Tom Bulbul being the Don Alonzo; and Mrs. Roland Calidore (who never misses an opportunity of acting in a piece in which she can let down her hair) was the Duchess.
You know how well he loves you, and you wonder To see Alonzo suffer, Cunegunda?—Ask if the chamois suffer when they feel Plunged in their panting sides the hunter's steel? Or when the soaring heron or eagle proud, Pierced by my shaft, comes tumbling from the cloud, Ask if the royal birds no anguish know, The victims of Alonzo's twanging bow? Then ask him if he suffers—him who dies, Pierced by the poisoned glance that glitters from your eyes! [He staggers from the effect of the poison.
Alonzo loves—Alonzo loves! and whom? His grandmother! Oh, hide me, gracious tomb! [Her Grace faints away.
Such acting as Tom Bulbul's I never saw. Tom lisps atrociously, and uttered the passage, "You athk me if I thuffer," in the most absurd way. Miss Clapperclaw says he acted pretty well, and that I only joke about him because I am envious, and wanted to act a part myself.—I envious indeed!
But of all the assemblies, feastings, junketings, dejeunes, soirees, conversaziones, dinner-parties, in Our Street, I know of none pleasanter than the banquets at Tom Fairfax's; one of which this enormous provision-consumer gives seven times a week. He lives in one of the little houses of the old Waddilove Street quarter, built long before Pocklington Square and Pocklington Gardens and the Pocklington family itself had made their appearance in this world.
Tom, though he has a small income, and lives in a small house, yet sits down one of a party of twelve to dinner every day of his life; these twelve consisting of Mrs. Fairfax, the nine Misses Fairfax, and Master Thomas Fairfax—the son and heir to twopence halfpenny a year.
It is awkward just now to go and beg pot-luck from such a family as this; because, though a guest is always welcome, we are thirteen at table—an unlucky number, it is said. This evil is only temporary, and will be remedied presently, when the family will be thirteen WITHOUT the occasional guest, to judge from all appearances.
Early in the morning Mrs. Fairfax rises, and cuts bread and butter from six o'clock till eight; during which time the nursery operations upon the nine little graces are going on. If his wife has to rise early to cut the bread and butter, I warrant Fairfax must be up betimes to earn it. He is a clerk in a Government office; to which duty he trudges daily, refusing even twopenny omnibuses. Every time he goes to the shoemaker's he has to order eleven pairs of shoes, and so can't afford to spare his own. He teaches the children Latin every morning, and is already thinking when Tom shall be inducted into that language. He works in his garden for an hour before breakfast. His work over by three o'clock, he tramps home at four, and exchanges his dapper coat for his dressing-gown—a ragged but honorable garment.
Which is the best, his old coat or Sir John's bran-new one? Which is the most comfortable and becoming, Mrs. Fairfax's black velvet gown (which she has worn at the Pocklington Square parties these twelve years, and in which I protest she looks like a queen), or that new robe which the milliner has just brought home to Mrs. Bumpsher's, and into which she will squeeze herself on Christmas-day?
Miss Clapperclaw says that we are all so charmingly contented with ourselves that not one of us would change with his neighbor; and so, rich and poor, high and low, one person is about as happy as another in Our Street.
DOCTOR BIRCH AND HIS YOUNG FRIENDS
by MR. M. A. TITMARSH
THE DOCTOR AND HIS STAFF.
There is no need to say why I became assistant-master and professor of the English and French languages, flower-painting, and the German flute, in Doctor Birch's Academy, at Rodwell Regis. Good folks may depend on this, that it was not for CHOICE that I left lodgings near London, and a genteel society, for an under-master's desk in that old school. I promise you the fare at the usher's table, the getting up at five o'clock in the morning, the walking out with little boys in the fields, (who used to play me tricks, and never could be got to respect my awful and responsible character as teacher in the school,) Miss Birch's vulgar insolence, Jack Birch's glum condescension, and the poor old Doctor's patronage, were not matters in themselves pleasurable: and that that patronage and those dinners were sometimes cruel hard to swallow. Never mind—my connection with the place is over now, and I hope they have got a more efficient under-master.
Jack Birch (Rev. J. Birch, of St. Neot's Hall, Oxford,) is partner with his father the Doctor, and takes some of the classes. About his Greek I can't say much; but I will construe him in Latin any day. A more supercilious little prig, (giving himself airs, too, about his cousin, Miss Raby, who lives with the Doctor,) a more empty, pompous little coxcomb I never saw. His white neck-cloth looked as if it choked him. He used to try and look over that starch upon me and Prince the assistant, as if he were a couple of footmen. He didn't do much business in the school; but occupied his time in writing sanctified letters to the boys' parents, and in composing dreary sermons to preach to them.
The real master of the school is Prince; an Oxford man too: shy, haughty, and learned; crammed with Greek and a quantity of useless learning; uncommonly kind to the small boys; pitiless with the fools and the braggarts; respected of all for his honesty, his learning, his bravery, (for he hit out once in a boat-row in a way which astonished the boys and the bargemen,) and for a latent power about him, which all saw and confessed somehow. Jack Birch could never look him in the face. Old Miss Z. dared not put off any of HER airs upon him. Miss Rosa made him the lowest of curtsies. Miss Raby said she was afraid of him. Good old Prince! we have sat many a night smoking in the Doctor's harness-room, whither we retired when our boys were gone to bed, and our cares and canes put by.
After Jack Birch had taken his degree at Oxford—a process which he effected with great difficulty—this place, which used to be called "Birch's," "Dr. Birch's Academy," and what not, became suddenly "Archbishop Wigsby's College of Rodwell Regis." They took down the old blue board with the gold letters, which has been used to mend the pigsty since. Birch had a large school-room run up in the Gothic taste, with statuettes, and a little belfry, and a bust of Archbishop Wigsby in the middle of the school. He put the six senior boys into caps and gowns, which had rather a good effect as the lads sauntered down the street of the town, but which certainly provoked the contempt and hostility of the bargemen; and so great was his rage for academic costumes and ordinances, that he would have put me myself into a lay gown, with red knots and fringes, but that I flatly resisted, and said that a writing-master had no business with such paraphernalia.
By the way, I have forgotten to mention the Doctor himself. And what shall I say of him? Well, he has a very crisp gown and bands, a solemn aspect, a tremendous loud voice, and a grand air with the boys' parents; whom he receives in a study covered round with the best-bound books, which imposes upon many—upon the women especially—and makes them fancy that this is a Doctor indeed. But law bless you! He never reads the books, or opens one of them; except that in which he keeps his bands—a Dugdale's "Monasticon," which looks like a book, but is in reality a cupboard, where he has his port, almond-cakes, and decanter of wine. He gets up his classics with translations, or what the boys call cribs; they pass wicked tricks upon him when he hears the forms. The elder wags go to his study and ask him to help them in hard bits of Herodotus or Thucydides: he says he will look over the passage, and flies for refuge to Mr. Prince, or to the crib.
He keeps the flogging department in his own hands; finding that his son was too savage. He has awful brows and a big voice. But his roar frightens nobody. It is only a lion's skin; or, so to say, a muff.
Little Mordant made a picture of him with large ears, like a well-known domestic animal, and had his own justly boxed for the caricature. The Doctor discovered him in the fact, and was in a flaming rage, and threatened whipping at first; but in the course of the day an opportune basket of game arriving from Mordant's father, the Doctor became mollified, and has burnt the picture with the ears. However, I have one wafered up in my desk by the hand of the same little rascal.
THE COCK OF THE SCHOOL.
I am growing an old fellow, and have seen many great folks in the course of my travels and time: Louis Philippe coming out of the Tuileries; his Majesty the King of Prussia and the Reichsverweser accolading each other at Cologne at my elbow; Admiral Sir Charles Napier (in an omnibus once), the Duke of Wellington, the immortal Goethe at Weimar, the late benevolent Pope Gregory XVI., and a score more of the famous in this world—the whom whenever one looks at, one has a mild shock of awe and tremor. I like this feeling and decent fear and trembling with which a modest spirit salutes a GREAT MAN.
Well, I have seen generals capering on horseback at the head of their crimson battalions; bishops sailing down cathedral aisles, with downcast eyes, pressing their trencher caps to their hearts with their fat white hands; college heads when her Majesty is on a visit; the doctor in all his glory at the head of his school on speech-day: a great sight and all great men these. I have never met the late Mr. Thomas Cribb, but I have no doubt should have regarded him with the same feeling of awe with which I look every day at George Champion, the Cock of Dr. Birch's school.
When, I say, I reflect as I go up and set him a sum, that he could whop me in two minutes, double up Prince and the other assistant, and pitch the Doctor out of window, I can't but think how great, how generous, how magnanimous a creature this is, that sits quite quiet and good-natured, and works his equation, and ponders through his Greek play. He might take the school-room pillars and pull the house down if he liked. He might close the door, and demolish every one of us, like Antar the lover or Ibla; but he lets us live. He never thrashes anybody without a cause; when woe betide the tyrant or the sneak!
I think that to be strong, and able to whop everybody—(not to do it, mind you, but to feel that you were able to do it,)—would be the greatest of all gifts. There is a serene good humor which plays about George Champion's broad face, which shows the consciousness of this power, and lights up his honest blue eyes with a magnanimous calm.
He is invictus. Even when a cub there was no beating this lion. Six years ago the undaunted little warrior actually stood up to Frank Davison,—(the Indian officer now—poor little Charley's brother, whom Miss Raby nursed so affectionately,)—then seventeen years old, and the Cock of Birch's. They were obliged to drag off the boy, and Frank, with admiration and regard for him, prophesied the great things he would do. Legends of combats are preserved fondly in schools; they have stories of such at Rodwell Regis, performed in the old Doctor's time, forty years ago.
Champion's affair with the Young Tutbury Pet, who was down here in training,—with Black the bargeman,—with the three head boys of Doctor Wapshot's academy, whom he caught maltreating an outlying day-boy of ours, &c.,—are known to all the Rodwell Regis men. He was always victorious. He is modest and kind, like all great men. He has a good, brave, honest understanding. He cannot make verses like young Pinder, or read Greek like Wells the Prefect, who is a perfect young abyss of learning, and knows enough, Prince says, to furnish any six first-class men; but he does his work in a sound downright way, and he is made to be the bravest of soldiers, the best of country parsons, an honest English gentleman wherever he may go.
Old Champion's chief friend and attendant is Young Jack Hall, whom he saved, when drowning, out of the Miller's Pool. The attachment of the two is curious to witness. The smaller lad gambolling, playing tricks round the bigger one, and perpetually making fun of his protector. They are never far apart, and of holidays you may meet them miles away from the school,—George sauntering heavily down the lanes with his big stick, and little Jack larking with the pretty girls in the cottage-windows.
George has a boat on the river, in which, however, he commonly lies smoking, whilst Jack sculls him. He does not play at cricket, except when the school plays the county, or at Lord's in the holidays. The boys can't stand his bowling, and when he hits, it is like trying to catch a cannon-ball. I have seen him at tennis. It is a splendid sight to behold the young fellow bounding over the court with streaming yellow hair, like young Apollo in a flannel jacket.
The other head boys are Lawrence the captain, Bunce, famous chiefly for his magnificent appetite, and Pitman, surnamed Roscius, for his love of the drama. Add to these Swanky, called Macassar, from his partiality to that condiment, and who has varnished boots, wears white gloves on Sundays, and looks out for Miss Pinkerton's school (transferred from Chiswick to Rodwell Regis, and conducted by the nieces of the late Miss Barbara Pinkerton, the friend of our great lexicographer, upon the principles approved by him, and practised by that admirable woman,) as it passes into church.
Representations have been made concerning Mr. Horace Swanky's behavior; rumors have been uttered about notes in verse, conveyed in three-cornered puffs, by Mrs. Ruggles, who serves Miss Pinkerton's young ladies on Fridays,—and how Miss Didow, to whom the tart and enclosure were addressed, tried to make away with herself by swallowing a ball of cotton. But I pass over these absurd reports, as likely to affect the reputation of an admirable seminary conducted by irreproachable females. As they go into church Miss P. driving in her flock of lambkins with the crook of her parasol, how can it be helped if her forces and ours sometimes collide, as the boys are on their way up to the organ-loft? And I don't believe a word about the three-cornered puff, but rather that it was the invention of that jealous Miss Birch, who is jealous of Miss Raby, jealous of everybody who is good and handsome, and who has HER OWN ENDS in view, or I am very much in error.
THE DEAR BROTHERS.
A MELODRAMA IN SEVERAL ROUNDS.
MR. TIPPER, Uncle to the Masters Boxall.
BOXALL MAJOR, BOXALL MINOR, BROWN, JONES, SMITH, ROBINSON, TIFFIN MINIMUS.
B. Go it, old Boxall!
J. Give it him, young Boxall!
R. Pitch into him, old Boxall!
S. Two to one on young Boxall!
[Enter TIFFIN MINIMUS, running.
Tiffin Minimus.—Boxalls! you're wanted. (The Doctor to Mr. Tipper.)—Every boy in the school loves them, my dear sir; your nephews are a credit to my establishment. They are orderly, well-conducted, gentlemanlike boys. Let us enter and find them at their studies.
[Enter The DOCTOR and Mr. TIPPER.
THE LITTLE SCHOOL-ROOM.
What they call the little school-room is a small room at the other end of the great school; through which you go to the Doctor's private house, and where Miss Raby sits with her pupils. She has a half-dozen very small ones over whom she presides and teaches them in her simple way, until they are big or learned enough to face the great school-room. Many of them are in a hurry for promotion, the graceless little simpletons, and know no more than their elders when they are well off.
She keeps the accounts, writes out the bills, superintends the linen, and sews on the general shirt-buttons. Think of having such a woman at home to sew on one's shirt-buttons! But peace, peace, thou foolish heart!
Miss Raby is the Doctor's niece. Her mother was a beauty (quite unlike old Zoe therefore); and she married a pupil in the old Doctor's time who was killed afterwards, a captain in the East India service, at the siege of Bhurtpore. Hence a number of Indian children come to the Doctor's; for Raby was very much liked, and the uncle's kind reception of the orphan has been a good speculation for the school-keeper.
It is wonderful how brightly and gayly that little quick creature does her duty. She is the first to rise, and the last to sleep, if any business is to be done. She sees the other two women go off to parties in the town without even so much as wishing to join them. It is Cinderella, only contented to stay at home—content to bear Zoe's scorn and to admit Rosa's superior charms,—and to do her utmost to repay her uncle for his great kindness in housing her.
So you see she works as much as three maid-servants for the wages of one. She is as thankful when the Doctor gives her a new gown, as if he had presented her with a fortune; laughs at his stories most good-humoredly, listens to Zoe's scolding most meekly, admires Rosa with all her heart, and only goes out of the way when Jack Birch shows his sallow face: for she can't bear him, and always finds work when he comes near.
How different she is when some folks approach her! I won't be presumptuous; but I think, I think, I have made a not unfavorable impression in some quarters. However, let us be mum on this subject. I like to see her, because she always looks good-humored; because she is always kind, because she is always modest, because she is fond of those poor little brats,—orphans some of them—because she is rather pretty, I dare say, or because I think so, which comes to the same thing.
Though she is kind to all, it must be owned she shows the most gross favoritism towards the amiable children. She brings them cakes from dessert, and regales them with Zoe's preserves; spends many of her little shillings in presents for her favorites, and will tell them stories by the hour. She has one very sad story about a little boy, who died long ago: the younger children are never weary of hearing about him; and Miss Raby has shown to one of them a lock of the little chap's hair, which she keeps in her work-box to this day.
A HOPELESS CASE.
Let us, people who are so uncommonly clever and learned, have a great tenderness and pity for the poor folks who are not endowed with the prodigious talents which we have. I have always had a regard for dunces;—those of my own school-days were amongst the pleasantest of the fellows, and have turned out by no means the dullest in life; whereas many a youth who could turn off Latin hexameters by the yard, and construe Greek quite glibly, is no better than a feeble prig now, with not a pennyworth more brains than were in his head before his beard grew.
Those poor dunces! Talk of being the last man, ah! what a pang it must be to be the last boy—huge, misshapen, fourteen years of age, and "taken up" by a chap who is but six years old, and can't speak quite plain yet!
Master Hulker is in that condition at Birch's. He is the most honest, kind, active, plucky, generous creature. He can do many things better than most boys. He can go up a tree, pump, play at cricket, dive and swim perfectly—he can eat twice as much as almost any lady (as Miss Birch well knows), he has a pretty talent at carving figures with his hack-knife, he makes and paints little coaches, he can take a watch to pieces and put it together again. He can do everything but learn his lesson; and then he sticks at the bottom of the school hopeless. As the little boys are drafted in from Miss Raby's class, (it is true she is one of the best instructresses in the world,) they enter and hop over poor Hulker. He would be handed over to the governess, only he is too big. Sometimes, I used to think that this desperate stupidity was a stratagem of the poor rascal's, and that he shammed dulness, so that he might be degraded into Miss Raby's class—if she would teach ME, I know, before George, I would put on a pinafore and a little jacket—but no, it is a natural incapacity for the Latin Grammar.
If you could see his grammar, it is a perfect curiosity of dog's ears. The leaves and cover are all curled and ragged. Many of the pages are worn away with the rubbing of his elbows as he sits poring over the hopeless volume, with the blows of his fists as he thumps it madly, or with the poor fellow's tears. You see him wiping them away with the back of his hand, as he tries and tries, and can't do it.
When I think of that Latin Grammar, and that infernal As in praesenti, and of other things which I was made to learn in my youth; upon my conscience, I am surprised that we ever survived it. When one thinks of the boys who have been caned because they could not master that intolerable jargon! Good Lord, what a pitiful chorus these poor little creatures send up! Be gentle with them, ye schoolmasters, and only whop those who WON'T learn.
The Doctor has operated upon Hulker (between ourselves), but the boy was so little affected you would have thought he had taken chloroform. Birch is weary of whipping now, and leaves the boy to go his own gait. Prince, when he hears the lesson, and who cannot help making fun of a fool, adopts the sarcastic manner with Master Hulker, and says, "Mr. Hulker, may I take the liberty to inquire if your brilliant intellect has enabled you to perceive the difference between those words which grammarians have defined as substantive and adjective nouns?—if not, perhaps Mr. Ferdinand Timmins will instruct you." And Timmins hops over Hulker's head.
I wish Prince would leave off girding at the poor lad. He is a boy, and his mother is a widow woman, who loves him with all her might. There is a famous sneer about the suckling of fools and the chronicling of small beer; but remember it was a rascal who uttered it.
A WORD ABOUT MISS BIRCH.
"The gentlemen, and especially the younger and more tender of these pupils, will have the advantage of the constant superintendence and affectionate care of Miss Zoe Birch, sister of the principal: whose clearest aim will be to supply (as far as may be) the absent maternal friend."—Prospectus of Rodwell Regis School.
This is all very well in the Doctor's prospectus, and Miss Zoe Birch—(a pretty blossom it is, fifty-five years old, during two score of which she has dosed herself with pills; with a nose as red and a face as sour as a crab-apple)—this is all mighty well in a prospectus. But I should like to know who would take Miss Zoe for a mother, or would have her for one?
The only persons in the house who are not afraid of her are Miss Rosa and I—no, I am afraid of her, though I DO know the story about the French usher in 1830—but all the rest tremble before the woman, from the Doctor down to poor Francis the knife-boy, whom she bullies into his miserable blacking-hole.
The Doctor is a pompous and outwardly severe man—but inwardly weak and easy; loving a joke and a glass of port-wine. I get on with him, therefore, much better than Mr. Prince, who scorns him for an ass, and under whose keen eyes the worthy Doctor writhes like a convicted impostor; and many a sunshiny afternoon would he have said, "Mr. T., sir, shall we try another glass of that yellow sealed wine which you seem to like?" (and which he likes even better than I do,) had not the old harridan of a Zoe been down upon us, and insisted on turning me out with her abominable weak coffee. She a mother indeed! A sour-milk generation she would have nursed. She is always croaking, scolding, bullying—yowling at the housemaids, snarling at Miss Raby, bowwowing after the little boys, barking after the big ones. She knows how much every boy eats to an ounce; and her delight is to ply with fat the little ones who can't bear it, and with raw meat those who hate underdone. It was she who caused the Doctor to be eaten out three times; and nearly created a rebellion in the school because she insisted on his flogging Goliath Longman.
The only time that woman is happy is when she comes in of a morning to the little boys' dormitories with a cup of hot Epsom salts, and a sippet of bread. Boo!—the very notion makes me quiver. She stands over them. I saw her do it to young Byles only a few days since; and her presence makes the abomination doubly abominable.
As for attending them in real illness, do you suppose that she would watch a single night for any one of them? Not she. When poor little Charley Davison (that child a lock of whose soft hair I have said how Miss Raby still keeps) lay ill of scarlet fever in the holidays—for the Colonel, the father of these boys, was in India—it was Anne Raby who tended the child, who watched him all through the fever, who never left him while it lasted, or until she had closed the little eyes that were never to brighten or moisten more. Anny watched and deplored him; but it was Miss Birch who wrote the letter announcing his demise, and got the gold chain and locket which the Colonel ordered as a memento of his gratitude. It was through a row with Miss Birch that Frank Davison ran away. I promise you that after he joined his regiment in India, the Ahmednuggur Irregulars, which his gallant father commands, there came over no more annual shawls and presents to Dr. and Miss Birch; and that if she fancied the Colonel was coming home to marry her (on account of her tenderness to his motherless children, which he was always writing about), THAT notion was very soon given up. But these affairs are of early date, seven years back, and I only heard of them in a very confused manner from Miss Raby, who was a girl, and had just come to Rodwell Regis. She is always very much moved when she speaks about those boys; which is but seldom. I take it the death of the little one still grieves her tender heart.
Yes, it is Miss Birch, who has turned away seventeen ushers and second-masters in eleven years, and half as many French masters, I suppose, since the departure of her FAVORITE, M. Grinche, with her gold watch, &c.; but this is only surmise—that is, from hearsay, and from Miss Rosa taunting her aunt, as she does sometimes, in her graceful way: but besides this, I have another way of keeping her in order.
Whenever she is particularly odious or insolent to Miss Raby, I have but to introduce raspberry jam into the conversation, and the woman holds her tongue. She will understand me. I need not say more.
NOTE, 12th December. I MAY speak now. I have left the place and don't mind. I say then at once, and without caring twopence for the consequences, that I saw this woman, this MOTHER of the boys, EATING JAM WITH A SPOON OUT OF MASTER WIGGINS'S TRUNK IN THE BOX-ROOM: and of this I am ready to take an affidavit any day.
THE DRAMA OUGHT TO BE REPRESENTED IN ABOUT SIX ACTS.
[The school is hushed. LAWRENCE the Prefect, and Custos of the rods, is marching after the DOCTOR into the operating-room. MASTER BACKHOUSE is about to follow.]
Master Backhouse.—It's all very well, but you see if I don't pay you out after school—you sneak you!
Master Lurcher.—If you do I'll tell again. [Exit BACKHOUSE.
[The rod is heard from the adjoining apartment. Hwish—hwish—hwish—hwish—hwish—hwish—hwish! [Re-enter BACKHOUSE.
BRIGGS IN LUCK.
Enter the Knife-boy.—Hamper for Briggses! Master Brown.—Hurray, Tom Briggs! I'll lend you my knife.
If this story does not carry its own moral, what fable does, I wonder? Before the arrival of that hamper, Master Briggs was in no better repute than any other young gentleman of the lower school; and in fact I had occasion myself, only lately, to correct Master Brown for kicking his friend's shins during the writing-lesson. But how this basket, directed by his mother's housekeeper and marked "Glass with care," (whence I conclude that it contains some jam and some bottles of wine, probably, as well as the usual cake and game-pie, and half a sovereign for the elder Master B., and five new shillings for Master Decimus Briggs)—how, I say, the arrival of this basket alters all Master Briggs's circumstances in life, and the estimation in which many persons regard him!
If he is a good-hearted boy, as I have reason to think, the very first thing he will do, before inspecting the contents of the hamper, or cutting into them with the knife which Master Brown has so considerately lent him, will be to read over the letter from home which lies on the top of the parcel. He does so, as I remark to Miss Raby (for whom I happened to be mending pens when the little circumstance arose), with a flushed face and winking eyes. Look how the other boys are peering into the basket as he reads.—I say to her, "Isn't it a pretty picture?" Part of the letter is in a very large hand. This is from his little sister. And I would wager that she netted the little purse which he has just taken out of it, and which Master Lynx is eying.
"You are a droll man, and remark all sorts of queer things," Miss Raby says, smiling, and plying her swift needle and fingers as quick as possible.
"I am glad we are both on the spot, and that the little fellow lies under our guns as it were, and so is protected from some such brutal school-pirate as young Duval for instance, who would rob him, probably, of some of those good things; good in themselves, and better because fresh from home. See, there is a pie as I said, and which I dare say is better than those which are served at our table (but you never take any notice of such kind of things, Miss Raby), a cake of course, a bottle of currant-wine, jam-pots, and no end of pears in the straw. With their money little Briggs will be able to pay the tick which that imprudent child has run up with Mrs. Ruggles; and I shall let Briggs Major pay for the pencil-case which Bullock sold to him.—It will be a lesson to the young prodigal for the future. But, I say, what a change there will be in his life for some time to come, and at least until his present wealth is spent! The boys who bully him will mollify towards him, and accept his pie and sweetmeats. They will have feasts in the bedroom; and that wine will taste more delicious to them than the best out of the Doctor's cellar. The cronies will be invited. Young Master Wagg will tell his most dreadful story and sing his best song for a slice of that pie. What a jolly night they will have! When we go the rounds at night, Mr. Prince and I will take care to make a noise before we come to Briggs's room, so that the boys may have time to put the light out, to push the things away, and to scud into bed. Doctor Spry may be put in requisition the next morning."
"Nonsense! you absurd creature," cries out Miss Raby, laughing; and I lay down the twelfth pen very nicely mended.
"Yes; after luxury comes the doctor, I say; after extravagance a hole in the breeches pocket. To judge from his disposition, Briggs Major will not be much better off a couple of days hence than he is now; and, if I am not mistaken, will end life a poor man. Brown will be kicking his shins before a week is over, depend upon it. There are boys and men of all sorts, Miss R.—There are selfish sneaks who hoard until the store they daren't use grows mouldy—there are spendthrifts who fling away, parasites who flatter and lick its shoes, and snarling curs who hate and envy, good fortune."
I put down the last of the pens, brushing away with it the quill-chips from her desk first, and she looked at me with a kind, wondering face. I brushed them away, clicked the penknife into my pocket, made her a bow, and walked off—for the bell was ringing for school.
A YOUNG FELLOW WHO IS PRETTY SURE TO SUCCEED.
If Master Briggs is destined in all probability to be a poor man, the chances are that Mr. Bullock will have a very different lot, he is a son of a partner of the eminent banking firm of Bullock and Hulker, Lombard street, and very high in the upper school—quite out of my jurisdiction, consequently.
He writes the most beautiful current-hand ever seen; and the way in which he mastered arithmetic (going away into recondite and wonderful rules in the Tutor's Assistant, which some masters even dare not approach,) is described by the Doctor in terms of admiration. He is Mr. Prince's best algebra pupil; and a very fair classic, too; doing everything well for which he has a mind.
He does not busy himself with the sports of his comrades, and holds a cricket-bat no better than Miss Raby would. He employs the play-hours in improving his mind, and reading the newspaper; he is a profound politician, and, it must be owned, on the liberal side. The elder boys despise him rather; and when champion Major passes, he turns his head, and looks down. I don't like the expression of Bullock's narrow green eyes, as they follow the elder Champion, who does not seem to know or care how much the other hates him.
No. Mr. Bullock, though perhaps the cleverest and most accomplished boy in the school, associates with the quite little boys when he is minded for society. To these he is quite affable, courteous, and winning. He never fagged or thrashed one of them. He has done the verses and corrected the exercises of many, and many is the little lad to whom he has lent a little money.
It is true he charges at the rate of a penny a week for every sixpence lent out; but many a fellow to whom tarts are a present necessity is happy to pay this interest for the loan. These transactions are kept secret. Mr. Bullock, in rather a whining tone, when he takes Master Green aside and does the requisite business for him, says, "You know you'll go and talk about it everywhere. I don't want to lend you the money, I want to buy something with it. It's only to oblige you; and yet I am sure you will go and make fun of me." Whereon, of course, Green, eager for the money, vows solemnly that the transaction shall be confidential, and only speaks when the payment of the interest becomes oppressive.
Thus it is that Mr. Bullock's practices are at all known. At a very early period, indeed, his commercial genius manifested itself: and by happy speculations in toffey; by composing a sweet drink made of stick-liquorice and brown sugar, and selling it at a profit to the younger children; by purchasing a series of novels, which he let out at an adequate remuneration; by doing boys' exercises for a penny, and other processes, he showed the bent of his mind. At the end of the half-year he always went home richer than when he arrived at school, with his purse full of money.
Nobody knows how much he brought: but the accounts are fabulous. Twenty, thirty, fifty—it is impossible to say how many sovereigns. When joked about his money, he turns pale and swears he has not a shilling: whereas he has had a banker's account ever since he was thirteen.
At the present moment he is employed in negotiating the sale of a knife with Master Green, and is pointing out to the latter the beauty of the six blades, and that he need not pay until after the holidays.
Champion Major has sworn that he will break every bone in his skin the next time that he cheats a little boy, and is bearing down upon him. Let us come away. It is frightful to see that big peaceful clever coward moaning under well-deserved blows and whining for mercy.
DUVAL THE PIRATE.
JONES MINIMUS passes, laden with tarts.
Duval.—Hullo! you small boy with the tarts! Come here, sir. Jones Minimus.—Please, Duval, they ain't mine. Duval.—Oh, you abominable young story-teller. [He confiscates the goods.
I think I like young Duval's mode of levying contributions better than Bullock's. The former's, at least, has the merit of more candor. Duval is the pirate of Birch's, and lies in wait for small boys laden with money or provender. He scents plunder from afar off: and pounces out on it. Woe betide the little fellow when Duval boards him!
There was a youth here whose money I used to keep, as he was of an extravagant and weak taste; and I doled it out to him in weekly shillings, sufficient for the purchase of the necessary tarts. This boy came to me one day for half a sovereign, for a very particular purpose, he said. I afterwards found he wanted to lend the money to Duval.
The young ogre burst out laughing, when in a great wrath and fury I ordered him to refund to the little boy: and proposed a bill of exchange at three months. It is true Duval's father does not pay the Doctor, and the lad never has a shilling, save that which he levies; and though he is always bragging about the splendor of Freenystown, Co. Cork, and the fox-hounds his father keeps, and the claret they drink there—there comes no remittance from Castle Freeny in these bad times to the honest Doctor; who is a kindly man enough, and never yet turned an insolvent boy out of doors.
MASTER HEWLETT AND MASTER NIGHTINGALE
(Rather a cold winter night.)
Hewlett (flinging a shoe at Master Nightingale's bed, with which he hits that young gentleman).—Hullo, you! Get up and bring me that shoe!
Nightingale.—Yes, Hewlett. (He gets up.)
Hewlett.—Don't drop it, and be very careful of it, sir.
Hewlett.—Silence in the dormitory! Any boy who opens his mouth, I'll murder him. Now, sir, are not you the boy what can sing?
Hewlett.—Chant, then, till I go to sleep, and if I wake when you stop, you'll have this at your head.
[Master HEWLETT lays his Bluchers on the bed, ready to shy at Master Nightingale's head in the case contemplated.]
Nightingale (timidly).—Please, Hewlett?
Nightingale.—May I put on my trousers, please?
Hewlett.—No, sir. Go on, or I'll—
"Through pleasures and palaces
Though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble
There's no place like home."
A CAPTURE AND A RESCUE.
My young friend, Patrick Champion, George's younger brother, is a late arrival among us; has much of the family quality and good nature; is not in the least a tyrant to the small boys, but is as eager as Amadis to fight. He is boxing his way up the school, emulating his great brother. He fixes his eye on a boy above him in strength or size, and you hear somehow that a difference has arisen between them at football, and they have their coats off presently. He has thrashed himself over the heads of many youths in this manner: for instance, if Champion can lick Dobson, who can thrash Hobson, how much more, then, can he thrash Hobson? Thus he works up and establishes his position in the school. Nor does Mr. Prince think it advisable that we ushers should walk much in the way when these little differences are being settled, unless there is some gross disparity, or danger is apprehended.
For instance, I own to having seen this row as I was shaving at my bedroom window. I did not hasten down to prevent its consequences. Fogle had confiscated a top, the property of Snivins; the which, as the little wretch was always pegging it at my toes, I did not regret. Snivins whimpered; and young Champion came up, lusting for battle. Directly he made out Fogle, he steered for him, pulling up his coat-sleeves, and clearing for action.
"Who spoke to YOU, young Champion?" Fogle said, and he flung down the top to Master Snivins. I knew there would be no fight; and perhaps Champion, too, was disappointed.
WHERE THE PARLOR-BOARDERS GO.
Noblemen have been rather scarce at Birch's—but the heir of a great Prince has been living with the Doctor for some years.—He is Lord George Gaunt's eldest son, the noble Plantagenet Gaunt Gaunt, and nephew of the Most Honorable the Marquis of Steyne.
They are very proud of him at the Doctor's—and the two Misses and Papa, whenever a stranger comes down whom they want to dazzle, are pretty sure to bring Lord Steyne into the conversation, mention the last party at Gaunt House, and cursorily to remark that they have with them a young friend who will be, in all human probability, Marquis of Steyne and Earl of Gaunt, &c.
Plantagenet does not care much about these future honors: provided he can get some brown sugar on his bread-and-butter, or sit with three chairs and play at coach-and-horses quite quietly by himself, he is tolerably happy. He saunters in and out of school when he likes, and looks at the masters and other boys with a listless grin. He used to be taken to church, but he laughed and talked in odd places, so they are forced to leave him at home now. He will sit with a bit of string and play cat's-cradle for many hours. He likes to go and join the very small children at their games. Some are frightened at him; but they soon cease to fear, and order him about. I have seen him go and fetch tarts from Mrs. Ruggles for a boy of eight years old; and cry bitterly if he did not get a piece. He cannot speak quite plain, but very nearly; and is not more, I suppose, than three-and-twenty.
Of course at home they know his age, though they never come and see him. But they forget that Miss Rosa Birch is no longer a young chit as she was ten years ago, when Gaunt was brought to the school. On the contrary, she has had no small experience in the tender passion, and is at this moment smitten with a disinterested affection for Plantagenet Gaunt.
Next to a little doll with a burnt nose, which he hides away in cunning places, Mr. Gaunt is very fond of Miss Rosa too. What a pretty match it would make! and how pleased they would be at Gaunt House, if the grandson and heir of the great Marquis of Steyne, the descendant of a hundred Gaunts and Tudors, should marry Miss Birch, the schoolmaster's daughter! It is true she has the sense on her side, and poor Plantagenet is only an idiot: but there he is, a zany, with such expectations and such a pedigree!
If Miss Rosa would run away with Mr. Gaunt, she would leave off bullying her cousin, Miss Anny Raby. Shall I put her up to the notion, and offer to lend her the money to run away? Mr. Gaunt is not allowed money. He had some once, but Bullock took him into a corner, and got it from him. He has a moderate tick opened at a tart-woman's. He stops at Rodwell Regis through the year: school-time and holiday-time, it is all the same to him. Nobody asks about him, or thinks about him, save twice a year, when the Doctor goes to Gaunt House, and gets the amount of his bills, and a glass of wine in the steward's room.
And yet you see somehow that he is a gentleman. His manner is different to that of the owners of that coarse table and parlor at which he is a boarder (I do not speak of Miss R. of course, for HER manners are as good as those of a duchess). When he caught Miss Rosa boxing little Fiddes's ears, his face grew red, and he broke into a fierce inarticulate rage. After that, and for some days, he used to shrink from her; but they are reconciled now. I saw them this afternoon in the garden where only the parlor-boarders walk. He was playful, and touched her with his stick. She raised her handsome eyes in surprise, and smiled on him very kindly.
The thing was so clear, that I thought it my duty to speak to old Zoe about it. The wicked old catamaran told me she wished that some people would mind their own business, and hold their tongues—that some persons were paid to teach writing, and not to tell tales and make mischief: and I have since been thinking whether I ought to communicate with the Doctor.
THE OLD PUPIL.
As I came into the playgrounds this morning, I saw a dashing young fellow, with a tanned face and a blond moustache, who was walking up and down the green arm-in-arm with Champion Major, and followed by a little crowd of boys.
They were talking of old times evidently. "What had become of Irvine and Smith?"—"Where was Bill Harris and Jones: not Squinny Jones, but Cocky Jones?"—and so forth. The gentleman was no stranger; he was an old pupil evidently, come to see if any of his old comrades remained, and revisit the cari luoghi of his youth.
Champion was evidently proud of his arm-fellow, he espied his brother, young Champion, and introduced him. "Come here, sir," he called. "The young 'un wasn't here in your time, Davison." "Pat, sir," said he, "this is Captain Davison, one of Birch's boys. Ask him who was among the first in the lines at Sobraon?"
Pat's face kindled up as he looked Davison full in the face, and held out his hand. Old Champion and Davison both blushed. The infantry set up a "Hurray, hurray, hurray," Champion leading, and waving his wide-awake. I protest that the scene did one good to witness. Here was the hero and cock of the school come back to see his old haunts and cronies. He had always remembered them. Since he had seen them last, he had faced death and achieved honor. But for my dignity I would have shied up my hat too.
With a resolute step, and his arm still linked in Champion's, Captain Davison now advanced, followed by a wake of little boys, to that corner of the green where Mrs. Ruggles has her tart stand.
"Hullo, Mother Ruggles! don't you remember me?" he said, and shook her by the hand.
"Lor, if it ain't Davison Major!" she said. "Well, Davison Major, you owe me fourpence for two sausage-rolls from when you went away."
Davison laughed, and all the little crew of boys set up a similar chorus.
"I buy the whole shop," he said. "Now, young 'uns—eat away!"
Then there was such a "Hurray! hurray!" as surpassed the former cheer in loudness. Everybody engaged in it except Piggy Duff, who made an instant dash at the three-cornered puffs, but was stopped by Champion, who said there should be a fair distribution. And so there was, and no one lacked, neither of raspberry, open tarts, nor of mellifluous bulls'-eyes, nor of polonies, beautiful to the sight and taste.
The hurraying brought out the old Doctor himself, who put his hand up to his spectacles and started when he saw the old pupil. Each blushed when he recognized the other; for seven years ago they had parted not good friends.
"What—Davison?" the Doctor said, with a tremulous voice. "God bless you, my dear fellow!"—and they shook hands. "A half holiday, of course, boys," he added, and there was another hurray: there was to be no end to the cheering that day.
"How's—how's the family, sir?" Captain Davison asked.
"Come in and see. Rosa's grown quite a lady. Dine with us, of course. Champion Major, come to dinner at five. Mr. Titmarsh, the pleasure of your company?" The Doctor swung open the garden gate: the old master and pupil entered the house reconciled.
I thought I would first peep into Miss Raby's room, and tell her of this event. She was working away at her linen there, as usual quiet and cheerful.
"You should put up," I said with a smile; "the Doctor has given us a half-holiday."
"I never have holidays," Miss Raby replied.
Then I told her of the scene I had just witnessed, of the arrival of the old pupil, the purchase of the tarts, the proclamation of the holiday, and the shouts of the boys of "Hurray, Davison!"
"WHO is it?" cried out Miss Raby, starting and turning as white as a sheet.
I told her it was Captain Davison from India; and described the appearance and behavior of the Captain. When I had finished speaking, she asked me to go and get her a glass of water; she felt unwell. But she was gone when I came back with the water.
I know all now. After sitting for a quarter of an hour with the Doctor, who attributed his guest's uneasiness no doubt to his desire to see Miss Rosa Birch, Davison started up and said he wanted to see Miss Raby. "You remember, sir, how kind she was to my little brother, sir?" he said. Whereupon the Doctor, with a look of surprise, that anybody should want to see Miss Raby, said she was in the little school-room; whither the Captain went, knowing the way from old times.
A few minutes afterwards, Miss B. and Miss Z. returned from a drive with Plantagenet Gaunt in their one-horse fly, and being informed of Davison's arrival, and that he was closeted with Miss Raby in the little school-room, of course made for that apartment at once. I was coming into it from the other door. I wanted to know whether she had drunk the water.
This is what both parties saw. The two were in this very attitude. "Well, upon my word!" cries out Miss Zoe; but Davison did not let go his hold; and Miss Raby's head only sank down on his hand.
"You must get another governess, sir, for the little boys," Frank Davison said to the Doctor. "Anny Raby has promised to come with me."
You may suppose I shut to the door on my side. And when I returned to the little school-room, it was black and empty. Everybody was gone. I could hear the boys shouting at play in the green outside. The glass of water was on the table where I had placed it. I took it and drank it myself, to the health of Anny Raby and her husband. It was rather a choker.
But of course I wasn't going to stop on at Birch's. When his young friends reassemble on the 1st of February next, they will have two new masters. Prince resigned too, and is at present living with me at my old lodgings at Mrs. Cammysole's. If any nobleman or gentleman wants a private tutor for his son, a note to the Rev. F. Prince will find him there.
Miss Clapperclaw says we are both a couple of old fools; and that she knew when I set off last year to Rodwell Regis, after meeting the two young ladies at a party at General Champion's house in our street, that I was going on a goose's errand. I shall dine there on Christmas-day; and so I wish a merry Christmas to all young and old boys.
The play is done; the curtain drops, Slow falling, to the prompter's bell: A moment yet the actor stops, And looks around, to say farewell. It is an irksome word and task; And when he's laughed and said his say, He shows, as he removes the mask, A face that's anything but gay.
One word, ere yet the evening ends, Let's close it with a parting rhyme, And pledge a hand to all young friends, As fits the merry Christmas time. On life's wide scene you, too, have parts, That Fate ere long shall bid you play; Good night! with honest gentle hearts A kindly greeting go alway!
Good night! I'd say the griefs, the joys, Just hinted in this mimic page, The triumphs and defeats of boys, Are but repeated in our age. I'd say, your woes were not less keen, Your hopes more vain, than those of men, Your pangs or pleasures of fifteen, At forty-five played o'er again.
I'd say, we suffer and we strive Not less nor more as men than boys; With grizzled beards at forty-five, As erst at twelve, in corduroys. And if, in time of sacred youth, We learned at home to love and pray, Pray heaven, that early love and truth May never wholly pass away.
And in the world, as in the school, I'd say, how fate may change and shift; The prize be sometimes with the fool, The race not always to the swift. The strong may yield, the good may fall, The great man be a vulgar clown, The knave be lifted over all, The kind cast pitilessly down.
Who knows the inscrutable design? Blessed be He who took and gave: Why should your mother, Charles, not mine, Be weeping at her darling's grave?* We bow to heaven that will'd it so, That darkly rules the fate of all, That sends the respite or the blow, That's free to give or to recall.
This crowns his feast with wine and wit: Who brought him to that mirth and state? His betters, see, below him sit, Or hunger hopeless at the gate. Who bade the mud from Dives' Wheel To spurn the rags of Lazarus? Come, brother, in that dust we'll kneel, Confessing heaven that ruled it thus.
So each shall mourn in life's advance, Dear hopes, dear friends, untimely killed; Shall grieve for many a forfeit chance, A longing passion unfulfilled. Amen: whatever Fate be sent,—Pray God the heart may kindly glow, Although the head with cares be bent, And whitened with the winter snow.
Come wealth or want, come good or ill, Let young and old accept their part, And bow before the Awful Will, And bear it with an honest heart. Who misses, or who wins the prize? Go, lose or conquer as you can. But if you fail, or if you rise, Be each, pray God, a gentleman,
A gentleman, or old or young: (Bear kindly with my humble lays,) The sacred chorus first was sung Upon the first of Christmas days. The shepherds heard it overhead—The joyful angels raised it then: Glory to heaven on high, it said, And peace on earth to gentle men.
My song, save this, is little worth; I lay the weary pen aside, And wish you health, and love, and mirth, As fits the solemn Christmas tide. As fits the holy Christmas birth, Be this, good friends, our carol still—Be peace on earth, be peace on earth, To men of gentle will.
* C. B., ob. Dec. 1843, aet. 42.
THE KICKLEBURYS ON THE RHINE.
BY MR. M. A. TITMARSH
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION:
BEING AN ESSAY ON THUNDER AND SMALL BEER.
Any reader who may have a fancy to purchase a copy of this present edition of the "History of the Kickleburys Abroad," had best be warned in time, that the Times newspaper does not approve of the work, and has but a bad opinion both of the author and his readers. Nothing can be fairer than this statement: if you happen to take up the poor little volume at a railroad station, and read this sentence, lay the book down, and buy something else. You are warned. What more can the author say? If after this you WILL buy,—amen! pay your money, take your book, and fall to. Between ourselves, honest reader, it is no very strong potation which the present purveyor offers to you. It will not trouble your head much in the drinking. It was intended for that sort of negus which is offered at Christmas parties and of which ladies and children may partake with refreshment and cheerfulness. Last year I tried a brew which was old, bitter, and strong; and scarce any one would drink it. This year we send round a milder tap, and it is liked by customers: though the critics (who like strong ale, the rogues!) turn up their noses. In heaven's name, Mr. Smith, serve round the liquor to the gentle-folks. Pray, dear madam, another glass; it is Christmas time, it will do you no harm. It is not intended to keep long, this sort of drink. (Come, froth up, Mr. Publisher, and pass quickly round!) And as for the professional gentlemen, we must get a stronger sort for THEM some day.
The Times' gentleman (a very difficult gent to please) is the loudest and noisiest of all, and has made more hideous faces over the refreshment offered to him than any other critic. There is no use shirking this statement! when a man has been abused in the Times, he can't hide it, any more than he could hide the knowledge of his having been committed to prison by Mr. Henry, or publicly caned in Pall Mall. You see it in your friends' eyes when they meet you. They know it. They have chuckled over it to a man. They whisper about it at the club, and look over the paper at you. My next-door neighbor came to see me this morning, and I saw by his face that he had the whole story pat. "Hem!" says he, "well, I HAVE heard of it; and the fact is, they were talking about you at dinner last night, and mentioning that the Times had—ahem!—'walked into you.'"
"My good M——" I say—and M—— will corroborate, if need be, the statement I make here—"here is the Times' article, dated January 4th, which states so and so, and here is a letter from the publisher, likewise dated January 4th, and which says:—
"MY DEAR Sir,—Having this day sold the last copy of the first edition (of x thousand) of the 'Kickleburys Abroad,' and having orders for more, had we not better proceed to a second edition? and will you permit me to enclose an order on," &c. &c.?
Singular coincidence! And if every author who was so abused by a critic had a similar note from a publisher, good Lord! how easily would we take the critic's censure!
"Yes, yes," you say; "it is all very well for a writer to affect to be indifferent to a critique from the Times. You bear it as a boy bears a flogging at school, without crying out; but don't swagger and brag as if you liked it."
Let us have truth before all. I would rather have a good word than a bad one from any person: but if a critic abuses me from a high place, and it is worth my while, I will appeal. If I can show that the judge who is delivering sentence against me, and laying down the law and making a pretence of learning, has no learning and no law, and is neither more nor less than a pompous noodle, who ought not to be heard in any respectable court, I will do so; and then, dear friends, perhaps you will have something to laugh at in this book.—
"THE KICKLEBURYS ABROAD.
"It has been customary, of late years, for the purveyors of amusing literature—the popular authors of the day—to put forth certain opuscules, denominated 'Christmas Books,' with the ostensible intention of swelling the tide of exhilaration, or other expansive emotions, incident upon the exodus of the old and the inauguration of the new year. We have said that their ostensible intention was such, because there is another motive for these productions, locked up (as the popular author deems) in his own breast, but which betrays itself, in the quality of the work, as his principal incentive. Oh! that any muse should be set upon a high stool to cast up accounts and balance a ledger! Yet so it is; and the popular author finds it convenient to fill up the declared deficit, and place himself in a position the more effectually to encounter those liabilities which sternly assert themselves contemporaneously and in contrast with the careless and free-handed tendencies of the season by the emission of Christmas books—a kind of literary assignats, representing to the emitter expunged debts, to the receiver an investment of enigmatical value. For the most part bearing the stamp of their origin in the vacuity of the writer's exchequer rather than in the fulness of his genius, they suggest by their feeble flavor the rinsings of a void brain after the more important concoctions of the expired year. Indeed, we should as little think of taking these compositions as examples of the merits of their authors as we should think of measuring the valuable services of Mr. Walker, the postman, or Mr. Bell, the dust-collector, by the copy of verses they leave at our doors as a provocative of the expected annual gratuity—effusions with which they may fairly be classed for their intrinsic worth no less than their ultimate purport.
"In the Christmas book presently under notice, the author appears (under the thin disguise of Mr. Michael Angelo Titmarsh) in 'propria persona' as the popular author, the contributor to Punch, the remorseless pursuer of unconscious vulgarity and feeble-mindedness, launched upon a tour of relaxation to the Rhine. But though exercising, as is the wont of popular authors in their moments of leisure, a plentiful reserve of those higher qualities to which they are indebted for their fame, his professional instincts are not altogether in abeyance. From the moment his eye lights upon a luckless family group embarked on the same steamer with himself, the sight of his accustomed quarry—vulgarity, imbecility, and affectation—reanimates his relaxed sinews, and, playfully fastening his satiric fangs upon the familiar prey, he dallies with it in mimic ferocity like a satiated mouser.
"Though faintly and carelessly indicated, the characters are those with which the author loves to surround himself. A tuft-hunting county baronet's widow, an inane captain of dragoons, a graceless young baronet, a lady with groundless pretensions to feeble health and poesy, an obsequious nonentity her husband, and a flimsy and artificial young lady, are the personages in whom we are expected to find amusement. Two individuals alone form an exception to the above category, and are offered to the respectful admiration of the reader,—the one, a shadowy serjeant-at-law, Mr. Titmarsh's travelling companion, who escapes with a few side puffs of flattery, which the author struggles not to render ironical, and a mysterious countess, spoken of in a tone of religious reverence, and apparently introduced that we may learn by what delicate discriminations our adoration of rank should be regulated.
"To those who love to hug themselves in a sense of superiority by admeasurement with the most worthless of their species, in their most worthless aspects, the Kickleburys on the Rhine will afford an agreeable treat, especially as the purveyor of the feast offers his own moments of human weakness as a modest entree in this banquet of erring mortality. To our own, perhaps unphilosophical, taste the aspirations towards sentimental perfection of another popular author are infinitely preferable to these sardonic divings after the pearl of truth, whose lustre is eclipsed in the display of the diseased oyster. Much, in the present instance, perhaps all, the disagreeable effect of his subject is no doubt attributable to the absence of Mr. Thackeray's usual brilliancy of style. A few flashes, however, occur, such as the description of M. Lenoir's gaming establishment, with the momentous crisis to which it was subjected, and the quaint and imaginative sallies evoked by the whole town of Rougetnoirbourg and its lawful prince. These, with the illustrations, which are spirited enough, redeem the book from an absolute ban. Mr. Thackeray's pencil is more congenial than his pen. He cannot draw his men and women with their skins off, and, therefore, the effigies of his characters are pleasanter to contemplate than the flayed anatomies of the letter-press."
There is the whole article. And the reader will see (in the paragraph preceding that memorable one which winds up with the diseased oyster) that he must be a worthless creature for daring to like the book, as he could only do so from a desire to hug himself in a sense of superiority by admeasurement with the most worthless of his fellow-creatures!
The reader is worthless for liking a book of which all the characters are worthless, except two, which are offered to his respectful admiration; and of these two the author does not respect one, but struggles not to laugh in his face; whilst he apparently speaks of another in a tone of religious reverence, because the lady is a countess, and because he (the author) is a sneak. So reader, author, characters, are rogues all. Be there any honest men left, Hal? About Printing-house Square, mayhap you may light on an honest man, a squeamish man, a proper moral man, a man that shall talk you Latin by the half-column if you will but hear him.
And what a style it is, that great man's! What hoighth of foine language entoirely! How he can discoorse you in English for all the world as if it was Latin! For instance, suppose you and I had to announce the important news that some writers published what are called Christmas books; that Christmas books are so called because they are published at Christmas: and that the purpose of the authors is to try and amuse people. Suppose, I say, we had, by the sheer force of intellect, or by other means of observation or information, discovered these great truths, we should have announced them in so many words. And there it is that the difference lies between a great writer and a poor one; and we may see how an inferior man may fling a chance away. How does my friend of the Times put these propositions? "It has been customary," says he, "of late years for the purveyors of amusing literature to put forth certain opuscules, denominated Christmas books, with the ostensible intention of swelling the tide of exhilaration, or other expansive emotions, incident upon the exodus of the old or the inauguration of the new year." That is something like a sentence; not a word scarcely but's in Latin, and the longest and handsomest out of the whole dictionary. That is proper economy—as you see a buck from Holywell Street put every pinchbeck pin, ring, and chain which he possesses about his shirt, hands, and waistcoat, and then go and cut a dash in the Park, or swagger with his order to the theatre. It costs him no more to wear all his ornaments about his distinguished person than to leave them at home. If you can be a swell at a cheap rate, why not? And I protest, for my part, I had no idea what I was really about in writing and submitting my little book for sale, until my friend the critic, looking at the article, and examining it with the eyes of a connoisseur, pronounced that what I had fancied simply to be a book was in fact "an opuscule denominated so-and-so, and ostensibly intended to swell the tide of expansive emotion incident upon the inauguration of the new year." I can hardly believe as much even now—so little do we know what we really are after, until men of genius come and interpret.
And besides the ostensible intention, the reader will perceive that my judge has discovered another latent motive, which I had "locked up in my own breast." The sly rogue! (if we may so speak of the court.) There is no keeping anything from him; and this truth, like the rest, has come out, and is all over England by this time. Oh, that all England, which has bought the judge's charge, would purchase the prisoner's plea in mitigation! "Oh, that any muse should be set on a high stool," says the bench, "to cast up accounts and balance a ledger! Yet so it is; and the popular author finds it convenient to fill up the declared deficit by the emission of Christmas books—a kind of assignats that bear the stamp of their origin in the vacuity of the writer's exchequer." There is a trope for you! You rascal, you wrote because you wanted money! His lordship has found out what you were at, and that there is a deficit in your till. But he goes on to say that we poor devils are to be pitied in our necessity; and that these compositions are no more to be taken as examples of our merits than the verses which the dustman leaves at his lordship's door, "as a provocative of the expected annual gratuity," are to be considered as measuring his, the scavenger's, valuable services—nevertheless the author's and the scavenger's "effusions may fairly be classed, for their intrinsic worth, no less than their ultimate purport."
Heaven bless his lordship on the bench—What a gentle manlike badinage he has, and what a charming and playful wit always at hand! What a sense he has for a simile, or what Mrs. Malaprop calls an odorous comparison, and how gracefully he conducts it to "its ultimate purport." A gentleman writing a poor little book is a scavenger asking for a Christmas-box!
As I try this small beer which has called down such a deal of thunder, I can't help thinking that it is not Jove who has interfered (the case was scarce worthy of his divine vindictiveness); but the Thunderer's man, Jupiter Jeames, taking his master's place, adopting his manner, and trying to dazzle and roar like his awful employer. That figure of the dustman has hardly been flung from heaven: that "ultimate purport" is a subject which the Immortal would hardly handle. Well, well; let us allow that the book is not worthy of such a polite critic—that the beer is not strong enough for a gentleman who has taste and experience in beer.
That opinion no man can ask his honor to alter; but (the beer being the question), why make unpleasant allusions to the Gazette, and hint at the probable bankruptcy of the brewer? Why twit me with my poverty; and what can the Times' critic know about the vacuity of my exchequer? Did he ever lend me any money? Does he not himself write for money? (and who would grudge it to such a polite and generous and learned author?) If he finds no disgrace in being paid, why should I? If he has ever been poor, why should he joke at my empty exchequer? Of course such a genius is paid for his work: with such neat logic, such a pure style, such a charming poetical turn of phrase, of course a critic gets money. Why, a man who can say of a Christmas book that "it is an opuscule denominated so-and-so, and ostensibly intended to swell the tide of expansive emotion incident upon the exodus of the old year," must evidently have had immense sums and care expended on his early education, and deserves a splendid return. You can't go into the market, and get scholarship like THAT, without paying for it: even the flogging that such a writer must have had in early youth (if he was at a public school where the rods were paid for), must have cost his parents a good sum. Where would you find any but an accomplished classical scholar to compare the books of the present (or indeed any other) writer to "sardonic divings after the pearl of truth, whose lustre is eclipsed in the display of the diseased oyster;" mere Billingsgate doesn't turn out oysters like these; they are of the Lucrine lake:—this satirist has pickled his rods in Latin brine. Fancy, not merely a diver, but a sardonic diver: and the expression of his confounded countenance on discovering not only a pearl, but an eclipsed pearl, which was in a diseased oyster! I say it is only by an uncommon and happy combination of taste, genius, and industry, that a man can arrive at uttering such sentiments in such fine language,—that such a man ought to be well paid, as I have no doubt he is, and that he is worthily employed to write literary articles, in large type, in the leading journal of Europe. Don't we want men of eminence and polite learning to sit on the literary bench, and to direct the public opinion?
But when this profound scholar compares me to a scavenger who leaves a copy of verses at his door and begs for a Christmas-box, I must again cry out and say, "My dear sir, it is true your simile is offensive, but can you make it out? Are you not hasty in your figures and illusions?" If I might give a hint to so consummate a rhetorician, you should be more careful in making your figures figures, and your similes like: for instance, when you talk of a book "swelling the tide of exhilaration incident to the inauguration of the new year," or of a book "bearing the stamp of its origin in vacuity," &c.,—or of a man diving sardonically; or of a pearl eclipsed in the display of a diseased oyster—there are some people who will not apprehend your meaning: some will doubt whether you had a meaning: some even will question your great powers, and say, "Is this man to be a critic in a newspaper, which knows what English, and Latin too, and what sense and scholarship, are?" I don't quarrel with you—I take for granted your wit and learning, your modesty and benevolence—but why scavenger—Jupiter Jeames—why scavenger? A gentleman, whose biography the Examiner was fond of quoting before it took its present serious and orthodox turn, was pursued by an outraged wife to the very last stage of his existence with an appeal almost as pathetic—Ah, sir, why scavenger?
How can I be like a dustman that rings for a Christmas-box at your hall-door? I never was there in my life. I never left at your door a copy of verses provocative of an annual gratuity, as your noble honor styles it. Who are you? If you are the man I take you to be, it must have been you who asked the publisher for my book, and not I who sent it in, and begged a gratuity of your worship. You abused me out of the Times' window; but if ever your noble honor sent me a gratuity out of your own door, may I never drive another dust-cart. "Provocative of a gratuity!" O splendid swell! How much was it your worship sent out to me by the footman? Every farthing you have paid I will restore to your lordship, and I swear I shall not be a halfpenny the poorer.
As before, and on similar seasons and occasions, I have compared myself to a person following a not dissimilar calling: let me suppose now, for a minute, that I am a writer of a Christmas farce, who sits in the pit, and sees the performance of his own piece. There comes applause, hissing, yawning, laughter, as may be: but the loudest critic of all is our friend the cheap buck, who sits yonder and makes his remarks, so that all the audience may hear. "THIS a farce!" says Beau Tibbs: "demmy! it's the work of a poor devil who writes for money,—confound his vulgarity! This a farce! Why isn't it a tragedy, or a comedy, or an epic poem, stap my vitals? This a farce indeed! It's a feller as sends round his 'at, and appeals to charity. Let's 'ave our money back again, I say." And he swaggers off;—and you find the fellow came with an author's order.
But if, in spite of Tibbs, our "kyind friends," &c. &c. &c.—if the little farce, which was meant to amuse Christmas (or what my classical friend calls Exodus), is asked for, even up to Twelfth Night,—shall the publisher stop because Tibbs is dissatisfied? Whenever that capitalist calls to get his money back, he may see the letter from the respected publisher, informing the author that all the copies are sold, and that there are demands for a new edition. Up with the curtain, then! Vivat Regina! and no money returned, except the Times "gratuity!"
M. A. TITMARSH.
January 5, 1851.
THE KICKLEBURYS ON THE RHINE.
The cabman, when he brought us to the wharf, and made his usual charge of six times his legal fare, before the settlement of which he pretended to refuse the privilege of an exeat regno to our luggage, glared like a disappointed fiend when Lankin, calling up the faithful Hutchison, his clerk, who was in attendance, said to him, "Hutchison, you will pay this man. My name is Serjeant Lankin, my chambers are in Pump Court. My clerk will settle with you, sir." The cabman trembled; we stepped on board; our lightsome luggage was speedily whisked away by the crew; our berths had been secured by the previous agency of Hutchison; and a couple of tickets, on which were written, "Mr. Serjeant Lankin," "Mr. Titmarsh," (Lankin's, by the way, incomparably the best and comfortablest sleeping place,) were pinned on to two of the curtains of the beds in a side cabin when we descended.
Who was on board? There were Jews, with Sunday papers and fruit; there were couriers and servants straggling about; there were those bearded foreign visitors of England, who always seem to decline to shave or wash themselves on the day of a voyage, and, on the eve of quitting our country, appear inclined to carry away as much as possible of its soil on their hands and linen: there were parties already cozily established on deck under the awning; and steady-going travellers for'ard, smoking already the pleasant morning cigar, and watching the phenomena of departure.
The bell rings: they leave off bawling, "Anybody else for the shore?" The last grape and Bell's Life merchant has scuffled over the plank: the Johns of the departing nobility and gentry line the brink of the quay, and touch their hats: Hutchison touches his hat to me—to ME, heaven bless him! I turn round inexpressibly affected and delighted, and whom do I see but Captain Hicks!
"Hallo! YOU here?" says Hicks, in a tone which seems to mean, "Confound you, you are everywhere."
Hicks is one of those young men who seem to be everywhere a great deal too often.
How are they always getting leave from their regiments? If they are not wanted in this country, (as wanted they cannot be, for you see them sprawling over the railing in Rotten Row all day, and shaking their heels at every ball in town,)—if they are not wanted in this country, I say, why the deuce are they not sent off to India, or to Demerara, or to Sierra Leone, by Jove?—the farther the better; and I should wish a good unwholesome climate to try 'em, and make 'em hardy. Here is this Hicks, then—Captain Launcelot Hicks, if you please—whose life is nothing but breakfast, smoking, riding-school, billiards, mess, polking, billiards, and smoking again, and da capo—pulling down his moustaches, and going to take a tour after the immense labors of the season.
"How do you do, Captain Hicks?" I say. "Where are you going?"
"Oh, I am going to the Whine," says Hicks; "evewybody goes to the Whine." The WHINE indeed! I dare say he can no more spell properly than he can speak.
"Who is on board—anybody?" I ask, with the air of a man of fashion. "To whom does that immense pile of luggage belong—under charge of the lady's-maid, the courier, and the British footman? A large white K is painted on all the boxes."
"How the deuce should I know?" says Hicks, looking, as I fancy, both red and angry, and strutting off with his great cavalry lurch and swagger: whilst my friend the Serjeant looks at him lost in admiration, and surveys his shining little boots, his chains and breloques, his whiskers and ambrosial moustaches, his gloves and other dandifications, with a pleased wonder; as the ladies of the Sultan's harem surveyed the great Lady from Park Lane who paid them a visit; or the simple subjects of Montezuma looked at one of Cortes's heavy dragoons.