Dinner Party by
Well, you must do it.
Do it, sir, reiterated the lady of Jipson, a man well enough to
do in the world, chief clerk of a sugar baker, and receiving his
twenty hundred dollars a year, with no perquisites, however,
andplenty of New Hampshire contingencies, (to quote our beloved man
of the million, Theodore Parker,) poor relations.
But, my dear Betsey, do you know, will you consider for
once, that to do a thing of the kindto splurge out like
Tannersoil, one must expectat least I doto sink a full quarter
of my salary, for the current year; yes, a full quarter?
Oh! very well, if you are going to live up here (Jipson had just
moved up above Bleecker street,)and bought your carriage, and
Two extra servant girls, chimed in Jipson.
And a groom, sir, continued Mrs. J.
And gone into at least six hundred to eight hundred dollars a year
extra expenses, toa
To gratify yourself, anda
Youraayour vanity, Madam, you should have said, my dear.
Don't talk that way to meto meyou brute; you know
I know all about it, my dear.
My dearbah! said the lady; my dear! save that,
Mr. Jipson, for some of youraa
What Mrs. J. might have said, we scarce could judge; but Jipson just
then put in a rejoinder calculated to prevent the umpullaceous tone
of Mrs. J.'s remarks, by saying, in a very humble strain
Mrs. Jipson, don't make an ass of yourself: we are too old to act
like goslings, and too well acquainted, I hope, with the
matters-of-fact of every-day life, to quarrel about things beyond our
reach or control.
If you talk of things beyond your control, Mr. Jipson, I mean
beyond your reach, that your income will not permit us to live as other
I wouldn't like to, interposed Jipson.
What? asked Mrs. Jipson.
Live like other peoplethat is, some people, Mrs. Jipson, that I
You don't suppose I'm going to bury myself and my poor girls
in this big house, and have those servants standing about me, their
fingers in their mouths, with nothing to do but
But cook, and worry, and slave, and keep shut up for a
But Mrs. J. was stuck. Jipson saw that; he divined what a point
Mrs. J. was about to, but could not conscientiously make, so he
relieved her with
My dear Betsey, it's a popular fallacy, an exploded idea, a
contemptible humbug, to live merely for your neighbors, the rabble
world at large. Thousands do it, my dear, and I've no objection to
their doing it; it's their own business, and none of mine. I have moved
up town because I thought it would be more pleasant; I bought a modest
kind of family carriage because I could afford it, and believed it
would add to our recreations and health; the carriage and horses
required care; I engaged a man to attend to them, fix up the garden,
and be useful generally, and added a girl or two to your domestic
departments, in order to lighten your own cares, &c. Now, all this, my
dear woman, you ought to know, rests a very important responsibility
upon my shoulders, health, life, andtwo thousand dollars a year, and
if you imagine it compatible with common sense, or consonant with my
judgment, to make an ass or fool of myself, by going into the
extravagances and tom-fooleries of Tannersoil, our neighbor over the
way, who happens for the time to be 'under government,' with a salary
of nothing to speak of, but with stealings equal to those of a
successful freebooter, youyouyou have placed aa bad estimate upon
my common sense, Madam.
With this flaring burst of eloquence, Jipson seized his hat, gloves
and cane, and soon might be seen an elderly, natty, well-shaved,
slightly-flushed gentleman taking his seat in a down town bound bus, en route for the sugar bakery of the firm of Cutt, Comeagain, &Co. It
was evident, however, from the frequency with which Jipson plied his
knife and rubber to his figgers of the day's accounts, and the
tremulousness with which he drove the porcupine quill, that Jipson was
thinking of something else!
Mr. Jipson, I wish you'd square up that account of Look, Sharp,
&Co., to-day, said Mr. Cutt, entering the counting room.
All folly! said Jipson, scratching out a mistake from his
day-book, and not heeding the remark, though he saw the person of his
Eh? was the ejaculation of Cutt.
I don't understand you, sir! said Cutt, in utter astonishment.
Oh! I beg pardon, sir, said poor Jipson; I beg pardon, sir.
Engrossed in a little affair of my own, I quite overlooked your
observation. I will attend to the account of Look, Sharp, &Co., at
once, sir; and while Jipson was at it, his employer went out,
wondering what in faith could be the matter with Jipson, a man whose
capacity and gentlemanly deportment the firm had tested to their
satisfaction for many years previous. The little incident was
mentioned to the partner, Comeagain. The firm first laughed, then
wondered what was up to disturb the usual equilibrium of Jipson, and
ended by hoping he hadn't taken to drink or nothing!
Guess I'd better do it, soliloquizes Jipson. My wife is a good
woman enough, but like most women, lets her vanity trip up her common
sense, now and then; she feels cut down to know that Tannersoil's folks
are plunging out with dinners and evening parties, troops of company,
piano going, and bawling away their new fol-de-rol music. Yes, guess
I'll do it.
Mrs. Jipson little calculates the horrorsnot only in a pecuniary,
but domestic sensethat these dinners, suppers and parties to the
rag-tag and bobtail, cost many honest-meaning people, who ought
to be ashamed of them.
But, I'll do it, if it costs me the whole quarter's salary!
A few days were sufficient to concoct details and arrange the
programme. When Mrs. Jipson discovered, as she vainly supposed, the
prevalence of better sense on the part of her husband, she was good
as cranberry tart, and flew around in the best of humor, to hurry up
the event that was to give eclat to the new residence and family
of the Jipsons, slightly dim the radiance or mushroom glory of the
Tannersoil family, and create a commotion generallyabove Bleecker
Jipson drew on his employers, for a quarter's salary. The
draft was honored, of course, but it led to some speculation on
the part of the firm, as to what Jipson was up to, and whether he
wasn't getting into evil habits, and decidedly bad economy in his old
age. Jipson talked, Mrs. Jipson talked. Their almostin fact, Mrs. J.,
like most ambitious mothers, thought, reallymarriageable
daughters dreamed and talked dinner parties for the full month, ere the
great event of their lives came duly off.
One of the seeming difficulties was who to invitewho to get to
come, and where to get them! Now, originally, the Jipsons were
from the Hills of New Hampshire, of poor but respectable birth.
Fifteen years in the great metropolis had not created a very extensive
acquaintance among solid folks; in fact, New York society fluctuates,
ebbs and flows at such a rate, that societysuch as domestic people
might recognize as unequivocally genteelis hard to fasten to or find.
But one of the Miss Jipsons possessed an acquaintance with a Miss
Somebody else, whose brother was a young gentleman of very distingue
air, and who knew the entire ropes of fashionable life, and people
who enjoyed that sort of existence in the gay metropolis.
Mr. Theophilus Smith, therefore, was eventually engaged. It was his,
as many others' vocation, to arrange details, command the feast, select
the company, and control the coming event. The Jipsons confined their
invitations to the few, very few genteel of the family, and even the
diminutiveness of the number invited was decimated by Mr. Smith, who
was permitted to review the parties invited.
Few domicilesof civilian, above Bleecker st.,were better
illuminated, set off and detailed than that of Jipson, on the evening
of the ever-memorable dinner. Smith had volunteered to engage a whole
set of silver from Tinplate &Co., who generously offer our ambitious
citizens such opportunities to splurge, for a fair consideration; while
china, porcelain, a dozen colored waiters in white aprons, with six
plethoric fiddlers and tooters, were also in Smith's programme. Jipson
at first was puzzled to know where he could find volunteers to fill two
dozen chairs, but when night came, Mr. Theophilus Smith, by force of
tactics truly wonderful, drummed in a force to face a gross of plates,
napkins and wine glasses.
Mrs. Jipson was evidently astonished, the Misses J. not a little
vexed at the raft of elegant ladies present, and the independent
manner in which they monopolized attention and made themselves at home.
Jipson swore inwardly, and looked like a sorry man. Smith was at
home, in his element; he was head and foot of the party. Himself and
friends soon led and ruled the feast. The band struck up; the corks
flew, the wine fizzed, the ceilings were spattered, and the
walls tattooed with Burgundy, Claret and Champagne!
To our host! cries Smith.
Yesah! 'ere'sah! to our aour host! echoes another swell,
already insolently corned.
Where theawhere is our worthy host? says another specimen of
above Bleecker street genteel society. Ia say, trot out your host,
and let's give the old fellow a toast!
Ha! ha! b-wavo! b-wavo! exclaimed a dozen shot-in-the-neck bloods,
spilling their wine over the carpets, one another, and table covers.
This is intolerable! gasps poor Jipson, who was in the act of
being kept cool by his wife, in the drawing-room.
Never mind, Jipson
Ah! there's the old fellaw! cries one of the swells.
Old roostaw, I say
Gentlemen! roars Jipson, rushing forward, elevating his voice and
For heaven's sake! Jipson, cries the wife.
Gentlemen, or bla'guards, as you are.
Oh! oh! Jipson, will you hear me? imploringly cries Mrs. Jipson.
Whatahare you at? Does heah
Yes, whatahdoes old Jip say?
Who the deuce, old What's-your-name, do you call gentlemen? chimes
in a third.
Bla'guards! roars Jipson.
Oh, veri well, veri well, old fellow, weahareahto blame
forahpatronizing a snob, continues a swell.
A what? shouts Jipson.
Villains! scoundrels! bla'guards! shouts the outraged Jipson,
rushing at the intoxicated swells, and hitting right and left,
upsetting chairs, tables, and lamps.
Murder! cries a knocked down guest.
E-e-e-e-e-e! scream the ladies.
Don't! E-e-e-e! don't kill my father! screams the daughter.
Chairs and hats flew; the negro servants and Dutch fiddlers, only
engaged for the occasion, taking no interest in a free fight, and not
caring two cents who whipped, laid back and
Yaw! ha! ha! De lor'! Yaw! ha! ha!
Mrs. Jipson fainted; ditto two others of the family; the men folks
(!) began to travel; the ladies (!) screamed; called for their hats,
shawls, and chaperones,the most of the latter, however, were
non est, or too well set up, to heed the common state of affairs.
Jipson finally cleared the house. Silence reigned within the walls
for a week. In the interim, Mrs. Jipson and the daughters not only got
over their hysterics, but ideas of gentility, as practised above
Bleecker street. It took poor Jipson an entire year to recuperate his
financial outs, while it took the whole family quite as long to get
over their grand debut as followers of fashion in the great metropolis.