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The Two Johns at the Tremont by Jonathan F. Kelley


It is somewhat curious that more embarrassments, and queer contre temps do not take place in the routine of human affairs, when we find so many persons floating about of one and the same name. It must be shocking to be named John Brown, troublesome to be called John Thompson, but who can begin to conceive the horrors of that man's situation, who has at the baptismal font received the title of John Smith?

Now it only wants a slight accident, the most trivial occurrence of fate—the meeting of two or three persons of the same name, or of great similarity of name, to create the most singular and even ludicrous circumstances and tableaux. One of these affairs came off at the Tremont House, some time since. One Thomas Johns, a blue-nose Nova-Scotian—a man of “some pumpkins” and “persimmons” at home, doubtless, put up for a few days at the Tremont, and about the same time one John Thomas, a genuine son of John Bull, just over in one of the steamers, took up his quarters at the same respectable and worthy establishment.

Thomas Johns was a linen draper, sold silks, satinets, linen, and dimities, at his establishment in the Provinces, and was also a politician, and “went on” for the part of magistrate, occasionally. John Thomas was a retired wine-merchant, and, having netted a bulky fortune, he took it into his head to travel, and as naturally as he despised, and as contemptuously as he looked upon this poor, wild, unsophisticated country of ours, he nevertheless condescended to come and look at us.

Well, there they were, Thomas Johns, and John Thomas; one was “roomed” in the north wing, the other in the south wing. Thomas Johns went out and began reconnoitering among the Yankee shop-keepers. John Thomas, having a fortnight's pair of sea legs on, and full of bile and beer, laid up at his lodgings, and passed the first three days in “hazing around” the servants, and blaspheming American manners and customs.

Old John was quietly snoring off his bottle after a sumptuous Tremont dinner, when a repeated rap, rap, rap at his door aroused him.

“What are you—at?” growls John.

“It's ma, zur?” says one of the Milesian servants.

“Blast yer hies, what want yer?” again growls John.

“If ye plaze, zur, there's a young man below wishes to see you,” says the servant.

“Ha, tell 'im to clear out!” John having predestinated the “young man,” he gave an apoplectic snort, relapsed into his lethargy, and the servant whirled down into the rotunda, and informed the “young man” what the gentleman desired.

“He did, eh?” says the young man, who looked as if he might be a clerk in an importing house. The young man left, in something of a high dudgeon.

“What'r yer at now?” roared John Thomas, a second time, roused by the servant's rat-tat-too.

“It's a gentleman wants to see yez's, zur.”

“Tell him to go to the d—!” and John snored again.

“Is John in?” asks the gentleman, as the servant returns.

“Mister Thomas did yez mane, zur?”

“No, yes, it is (looking at his tablets) same thing, I suppose; Thomas Johns,” says the gentleman.

“I belave it's right, zur,” says the servant.

“Well, what did he say?”

“Faith, I think he's not in a good humor, betwane us, zur; he says yez may go to the divil!”

“Did he? Well, that's polite, any how—invite a gentleman to dine with him, and then meet him with such language as that. The infernal 'blue nose,' I'll pull it, I'll tweak it until he'll roar like a calf!” and off went “the gentleman,” hot as No. 6.

“I belave he's not in, zur,” says the same servant, answering another inquiry for John Thomas, or Thomas Johns, the carriage driver was not certain which.

“Oh, ho!” says the servant, “it's a ride ould John's going fur to take till himself, and didn't want any callers.” Reaching John's door, he began his tattoo.

“Be hang'd to ye, what'r ye at now?” growls John, partly up and dressed.

“The carriage is here, zur.”

“What carriage is that?” growls John, continuing his toilet.

“I don't know, zur; I'll go down and sae the number, if ye plaze.”

“Thunder and tommy! What do I care for the number? Go tell the carriage——”

“To go to the divil, zur?” says the servant, in anticipation of the command.

“No, you bog-trotter, go tell the carriage to wait.”

The servant went down, and John continued his toilet, muttering—

“Ah, some of their haccommodations, I expect; these American landlords, as they style 'em in these infernal wild woods 'ere, do manage to give a body tolerable sort of haccommodations; ha, but they'll take care to look hout for the dollars. I don't know, tho', these fellers 'ere appear tolerably clever; want me to ride hout, I suppose, and see some of their Yankee lions. Haw! haw! Lions! I wonder what they'd say hif they saw Lun'un, and looked at St. Paul's once!”

Getting through his toilet—and it takes an Englishman as long to fix his stiff cravat and that stiffer and stauncher shirt-collar, and rub his hat, than a Frenchman to rig out tout ensemble, to say nothing of the gallons of water and dozens of towels he uses up in the operation—John found the carriage waiting; he asked no questions, but jumped in.

“Isn't there some others beside yourself going out, sir?” says the driver, supposing he had the right man, or one of them.

“No; drive off—where are you going to drive me?”

“Mount Auburn, sir, the carriage was ordered for.”

“Humph! Some of the battle-grounds, I suppose,” John grunts to himself, falls into a fit of English doggedness, and the coach drives off.

Thomas Johns made little or no noise or confusion in the house, consequently he was not known to the servants, and very little known to the clerks. John Thomas was another person—he was all fuss and feathers. He kept his bell ringing, and the servants rushing for towels and water, water and towels, boots and beer, beer and boots, the English papers, maps of America, &c., without cessation. He was John Thomas and Thomas Johns, one and indivisible.

John got his ride, and returned to the hotel sulkier than ever; and by the time he got unrobed of his pea-jackets and huge shawls about his burly neck, he was telegraphed by a servant to come down; there was a gentleman below on business with him. John foreswore business, but the gentleman must see him, and up he came for that purpose. His unmistakable mug told he was “an officer.”

“I've a bill against you, sir, $368,20. Must be paid immediately!” said the presenter, peremptorily.

John was thunderstruck.

“Me, and be hanged to ye!” says John, getting his breath.

“Yes, sir, for goods packed at Smith &Brown's, for Nova Scotia. The bill was to be paid this morning, as you agreed, but you told the clerk to go to the d—l! Won't do, that sort of work, here. Pay the bill, or you must go with me!”

John, when he found himself in custody, swore it was some infernal Yankee scheme to gouge him, and he started for the clerk's office, below, to have some explanation. As John and the officer reached the rotunda, a gentleman steps up behind John, and gives his nose a first-rate lug. They clinched, the bystanders and servants interposed, and John and his assailant were parted, and by this time the nose puller discovered he had the wrong man by the nose!

“Is your name Thomas Johns?” says the nose puller.

“Blast you, no!”

“Who pays this bill for the carriage, if your name ain't Johns?” says a man with a bill for the carriage hire.

“I allers heard as ow you Yan-gees were inquisitive, and sharp after the dollars, and I'm 'anged if you ain't awful. My name's John Thomas, from Lun'un, bound back again in the next steamer. Now who's got any thing against me?”

Thomas Johns came in at this climax, an explanation ensued, John was relieved of his embarrassment, and all were finally satisfied, except John Thomas, who, venting a few bottles of his spleen on every body and all things—Americans especially—took to his bed and beer, and snorted for a week.


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