Our Street by William Makepeace Thackeray
OUR HOUSE IN OUR
AND MRS. BRAGG.
SOME OF THE
SERVANTS IN OUR
HAPPENS IN OUR
THE MAN IN
THE LION OF THE
THE DOVE OF OUR
BY MR. M. A TITMARSH.
Our street, from the little nook which I occupy in it, and whence
I and a fellow-lodger and friend of mine cynically observe it,
presents a strange motley scene. We are in a state of transition. We
are not as yet in the town, and we have left the country, where we
were when I came to lodge with Mrs. Cammysole, my excellent landlady.
I then took second-floor apartments at No. 17, Waddilove Street, and
since, although I have never moved (having various little comforts
about me), I find myself living at No. 46A, Pocklington Gardens.
Why is this? Why am I to pay eighteen shillings instead of
fifteen? I was quite as happy in Waddilove Street; but the fact is,
a great portion of that venerable old district has passed away, and we
are being absorbed into the splendid new white-stuccoed
Doric-porticoed genteel Pocklington quarter. Sir Thomas Gibbs
Pocklington, M. P. for the borough of Lathanplaster, is the founder
of the district and his own fortune. The Pocklington Estate Office
is in the Square, on a line with Waddil—with Pocklington Gardens I
mean. The old inn, the "Ram and Magpie," where the market- gardeners
used to bait, came out this year with a new white face and title, the
shield, of the "Pocklington Arms." Such a shield it is! Such
quarterings! Howard, Cavendish, De Ros, De la Zouche, all mingled
Even our house, 46A, which Mrs. Cammysole has had painted white in
compliment to the Gardens of which it now forms part, is a sort of
impostor, and has no business to be called Gardens at all. Mr.
Gibbs, Sir Thomas's agent and nephew, is furious at our daring to
take the title which belongs to our betters. The very next door (No.
46, the Honorable Mrs. Mountnoddy,) is a house of five stories,
shooting up proudly into the air, thirty feet above our old
high-roofed low-roomed old tenement. Our house belongs to Captain
Bragg, not only the landlord but the son-in-law of Mrs. Cammysole, who
lives a couple of hundred yards down the street, at "The Bungalow."
He was the commander of the "Ram Chunder" East Indiaman, and has
quarrelled with the Pocklingtons ever since he bought houses in the
He it is who will not sell or alter his houses to suit the spirit
of the times. He it is who, though he made the widow Cammysole
change the name of her street, will not pull down the house next
door, nor the baker's next, nor the iron-bedstead and feather
warehouse ensuing, nor the little barber's with the pole, nor, I am
ashamed to say, the tripe-shop, still standing. The barber powders
the heads of the great footmen from Pocklington Gardens; they are so
big that they can scarcely sit in his little premises. And the old
tavern, the "East Indiaman," is kept by Bragg's ship-steward, and
protests against the "Pocklington Arms."
Down the road is Pocklington Chapel, Rev. Oldham Slocum—in brick,
with arched windows and a wooden belfry: sober, dingy, and hideous.
In the centre of Pocklington Gardens rises St. Waltheof's, the Rev.
Cyril Thuryfer and assistants—a splendid Anglo-Norman edifice, vast,
rich, elaborate, bran new, and intensely old. Down Avemary Lane you
may hear the clink of the little Romish chapel bell. And hard by is a
large broad-shouldered Ebenezer (Rev. Jonas Gronow), out of the
windows of which the hymns come booming all Sunday long.
Going westward along the line, we come presently to Comandine House
(on a part of the gardens of which Comandine Gardens is about to be
erected by his lordship); farther on, "The Pineries," Mr. and Lady
Mary Mango: and so we get into the country, and out of Our Street
altogether, as I may say. But in the half-mile, over which it may be
said to extend, we find all sorts and conditions of people—from the
Right Honorable Lord Comandine down to the present topographer; who
being of no rank as it were, has the fortune to be treated on almost
friendly footing by all, from his lordship down to the tradesman.
OUR HOUSE IN OUR STREET
We must begin our little descriptions where they say charity should
begin—at home. Mrs. Cammysole, my landlady, will be rather
surprised when she reads this, and finds that a good-natured tenant,
who has never complained of her impositions for fifteen years,
understands every one of her tricks, and treats them, not with anger,
but with scorn—with silent scorn.
On the 18th of December, 1837, for instance, coming gently down
stairs, and before my usual wont, I saw you seated in my arm-chair,
peeping into a letter that came from my aunt in the country, just as
if it had been addressed to you, and not to "M. A. Titmarsh, Esq."
Did I make any disturbance? far from it; I slunk back to my bedroom
(being enabled to walk silently in the beautiful pair of worsted
slippers Miss Penelope J—s worked for me: they are worn out now, dear
Penelope!) and then rattling open the door with a great noise,
descending the stairs, singing "Son vergin vezzosa" at the top of my
voice. You were not in my sitting-room, Mrs. Cammysole, when I
entered that apartment.
You have been reading all my letters, papers, manuscripts,
brouillons of verses, inchoate articles for the Morning Post and
Morning Chronicle, invitations to dinner and tea—all my family
letters, all Eliza Townley's letters, from the first, in which she
declared that to be the bride of her beloved Michelagnolo was the
fondest wish of her maiden heart, to the last, in which she announced
that her Thomas was the best of husbands, and signed herself "Eliza
Slogger;" all Mary Farmer's letters, all Emily Delamere's; all that
poor foolish old Miss MacWhirter's, whom I would as soon marry as
——: in a word, I know that you, you hawk- beaked, keen-eyed,
sleepless, indefatigable old Mrs. Cammysole, have read all my papers
for these fifteen years.
I know that you cast your curious old eyes over all the manuscripts
which you find in my coat-pockets and those of my pantaloons, as they
hang in a drapery over the door-handle of my bedroom.
I know that you count the money in my green and gold purse, which
Lucy Netterville gave me, and speculate on the manner in which I have
laid out the difference between to-day and yesterday.
I know that you have an understanding with the laundress (to whom
you say that you are all-powerful with me), threatening to take away
my practice from her, unless she gets up gratis some of your fine
I know that we both have a pennyworth of cream for breakfast, which
is brought in in the same little can; and I know who has the most for
I know how many lumps of sugar you take from each pound as it
arrives. I have counted the lumps, you old thief, and for years have
never said a word, except to Miss Clapperclaw, the first-floor lodger.
Once I put a bottle of pale brandy into that cupboard, of which you
and I only have keys, and the liquor wasted and wasted away until it
was all gone. You drank the whole of it, you wicked old woman. You a
I know your rage when they did me the honor to elect me a member of
the "Poluphloisboiothalasses Club," and I ceased consequently to dine
at home. When I DID dine at home,—on a beefsteak let us say,—I
should like to know what you had for supper. You first amputated
portions of the meat when raw; you abstracted more when cooked. Do
you think I was taken in by your flimsy pretences? I wonder how you
could dare to do such things before your maids (you a clergyman's
daughter and widow, indeed), whom you yourself were always charging
Yes, the insolence of the old woman is unbearable, and I must break
out at last. If she goes off in a fit at reading this, I am sure I
shan't mind. She has two unhappy wenches, against whom her old
tongue is clacking from morning till night: she pounces on them at
all hours. It was but this morning at eight, when poor Molly was
brooming the steps, and the baker paying her by no means unmerited
compliments, that my landlady came whirling out of the ground-floor
front, and sent the poor girl whimpering into the kitchen.
Were it but for her conduct to her maids I was determined publicly
to denounce her. These poor wretches she causes to lead the lives of
demons; and not content with bullying them all day, she sleeps at
night in the same room with them, so that she may have them up before
daybreak, and scold them while they are dressing.
Certain it is, that between her and Miss Clapperclaw, on the first
floor, the poor wenches lead a dismal life.
It is to you that I owe most of my knowledge of our neighbors; from
you it is that most of the facts and observations contained in these
brief pages are taken. Many a night, over our tea, have we talked
amiably about our neighbors and their little failings; and as I know
that you speak of mine pretty freely, why, let me say, my dear Bessy,
that if we have not built up Our Street between us, at least we have
pulled it to pieces.
THE BUNGALOW—CAPTAIN AND MRS. BRAGG.
Long, long ago, when Our Street was the country—a stagecoach
between us and London passing four times a day—I do not care to own
that it was a sight of Flora Cammysole's face, under the card of her
mamma's "Lodgings to Let," which first caused me to become a tenant of
Our Street. A fine good-humored lass she was then; and I gave her
lessons (part out of the rent) in French and flower- painting. She
has made a fine rich marriage since, although her eyes have often
seemed to me to say, "Ah, Mr. T., why didn't you, when there was yet
time, and we both of us were free, propose—you know what?" "Psha!
Where was the money, my dear madam?"
Captain Bragg, then occupied in building Bungalow Lodge—Bragg, I
say, living on the first floor, and entertaining sea-captains,
merchants, and East Indian friends with his grand ship's plate, being
disappointed in a project of marrying a director's daughter, who was
also a second cousin once removed of a peer,—sent in a fury for Mrs.
Cammysole, his landlady, and proposed to marry Flora off-hand, and
settle four hundred a year upon her. Flora was ordered from the
back-parlor (the ground-floor occupies the second- floor bedroom), and
was on the spot made acquainted with the splendid offer which the
first-floor had made her. She has been Mrs. Captain Bragg these
Bragg to this day wears anchor-buttons, and has a dress-coat with a
gold strap for epaulets, in case he should have a fancy to sport
them. His house is covered with portraits, busts, and miniatures of
himself. His wife is made to wear one of the latter. On his
sideboard are pieces of plate, presented by the passengers of the
"Ram Chunder" to Captain Bragg: "The 'Ram Chunder' East Indiaman, in
a gale, off Table Bay;" "The Outward-bound Fleet, under convoy of her
Majesty's frigate 'Loblollyboy,' Captain Gutch, beating off the French
squadron, under Commodore Leloup (the 'Ram Chunder,' S.E. by E., is
represented engaged with the 'Mirliton' corvette);" "The 'Ram Chunder'
standing into the Hooghly, with Captain Bragg, his telescope and
speaking-trumpet, on the poop;" "Captain Bragg presenting the Officers
of the 'Ram Chunder' to General Bonaparte at St. Helena—TITMARSH"
(this fine piece was painted by me when I was in favor with Bragg); in
a word, Bragg and the "Ram Chunder" are all over the house.
Although I have eaten scores of dinners at Captain Bragg's charge,
yet his hospitality is so insolent, that none of us who frequent his
mahogany feel any obligation to our braggart entertainer.
After he has given one of his great heavy dinners he always takes
an opportunity to tell you, in the most public way, how many bottles
of wine were drunk. His pleasure is to make his guests tipsy, and to
tell everybody how and when the period of inebriation arose. And Miss
Clapperclaw tells me that he often comes over laughing and giggling to
her, and pretending that he has brought ME into this condition—a
calumny which I fling contemptuously in his face.
He scarcely gives any but men's parties, and invites the whole club
home to dinner. What is the compliment of being asked, when the
whole club is asked too, I should like to know? Men's parties are
only good for boys. I hate a dinner where there are no women. Bragg
sits at the head of his table, and bullies the solitary Mrs. Bragg.
He entertains us with stories of storms which he, Bragg,
encountered—of dinners which he, Bragg, has received from the
Governor-General of India—of jokes which he, Bragg, has heard; and
however stale or odious they may be, poor Mrs. B. is always expected
Woe be to her if she doesn't, or if she laughs at anybody else's
jokes. I have seen Bragg go up to her and squeeze her arm with a
savage grind of his teeth, and say, with an oath, "Hang it, madam,
how dare you laugh when any man but your husband speaks to you? I
forbid you to grin in that way. I forbid you to look sulky. I
forbid you to look happy, or to look up, or to keep your eyes down to
the ground. I desire you will not be trapesing through the rooms. I
order you not to sit as still as a stone." He curses her if the wine
is corked, or if the dinner is spoiled, or if she comes a minute too
soon to the club for him, or arrives a minute too late. He forbids
her to walk, except upon his arm. And the consequence of his ill
treatment is, that Mrs. Cammysole and Mrs. Bragg respect him beyond
measure, and think him the first of human beings.
"I never knew a woman who was constantly bullied by her husband who
did not like him the better for it," Miss Clapperclaw says. And
though this speech has some of Clapp's usual sardonic humor in it, I
can't but think there is some truth in the remark.
LEVANT HOUSE CHAMBERS.
MR. RUMBOLD, A.R.A., AND MISS RUMBOLD.
When Lord Levant quitted the country and this neighborhood, in
which the tradesmen still deplore him, No. 56, known as Levantine
House, was let to the "Pococurante Club," which was speedily bankrupt
(for we are too far from the centre of town to support a club of our
own); it was subsequently hired by the West Diddlesex Railroad; and is
now divided into sets of chambers, superintended by an acrimonious
housekeeper, and by a porter in a sham livery: whom, if you don't find
him at the door, you may as well seek at the "Grapes" public-house, in
the little lane round the corner. He varnishes the japan-boots of the
dandy lodgers; reads Mr. Pinkney's Morning Post before he lets him
have it; and neglects the letters of the inmates of the chambers
The great rooms, which were occupied as the salons of the noble
Levant, the coffee-rooms of the "Pococurante" (a club where the play
was furious, as I am told), and the board-room and manager's- room of
the West Diddlesex, are tenanted now by a couple of artists: young
Pinkney the miniaturist, and George Rumbold the historical painter.
Miss Rumbold, his sister lives with him, by the way; but with that
young lady of course we have nothing to do.
I knew both these gentlemen at Rome, where George wore a velvet
doublet and a beard down to his chest, and used to talk about high
art at the "Caffe Greco." How it smelled of smoke, that velveteen
doublet of his, with which his stringy red beard was likewise
perfumed! It was in his studio that I had the honor to be introduced
to his sister, the fair Miss Clara: she had a large casque with a red
horse-hair plume (I thought it had been a wisp of her brother's beard
at first), and held a tin-headed spear in her hand, representing a
Roman warrior in the great picture of "Caractacus" George was
painting—a piece sixty-four feet by eighteen. The Roman warrior
blushed to be discovered in that attitude: the tin-headed spear
trembled in the whitest arm in the world. So she put it down, and
taking off the helmet also, went and sat in a far corner of the
studio, mending George's stockings; whilst we smoked a couple of
pipes, and talked about Raphael being a good deal overrated.
I think he is; and have never disguised my opinion about the
"Transfiguration.". And all the time we talked, there were Clara's
eyes looking lucidly out from the dark corner in which she was
sitting, working away at the stockings. The lucky fellow! They were
in a dreadful state of bad repair when she came out to him at Rome,
after the death of their father, the Reverend Miles Rumbold.
George, while at Rome, painted "Caractacus;" a picture of "Non
Angli sed Angeli" of course; a picture of "Alfred in the Neatherd's
Cottage," seventy-two feet by forty-eight—(an idea of the gigantic
size and Michel-Angelesque proportions of this picture may be formed,
when I state that the mere muffin, of which the outcast king is
spoiling the baking, is two feet three in diameter) and the deaths of
Socrates, of Remus, and of the Christians under Nero respectively. I
shall never forget how lovely Clara looked in white muslin, with her
hair down, in this latter picture, giving herself up to a ferocious
Carnifex (for which Bob Gaunter the architect sat), and refusing to
listen to the mild suggestions of an insinuating Flamen: which
character was a gross caricature of myself.
None of George's pictures sold. He has enough to tapestry
Trafalgar Square. He has painted, since he came back to England,
"The Flaying of Marsyas," "The Smothering of the Little Boys in the
Tower," "A Plague Scene during the Great Pestilence," "Ugolino on the
Seventh Day after he was deprived of Victuals," For although these
pictures have great merit, and the writhings of Marsyas, the
convulsions of the little prince, the look of agony of St. Lawrence on
the gridiron, are quite true to nature, yet the subjects somehow are
not agreeable; and if he hadn't a small patrimony, my friend George
Fondness for art leads me a great deal to his studio. George is a
gentleman, and has very good friends, and good pluck too. When we
were at Rome, there was a great row between him and young Heeltap,
Lord Boxmoor's son, who was uncivil to Miss Rumbold; (the young
scoundrel—had I been a fighting man, I should like to have shot him
myself!). Lady Betty Bulbul is very fond of Clara; and Tom Bulbul,
who took George's message to Heeltap, is always hanging about the
studio. At least I know that I find the young jackanapes there almost
every day, bringing a new novel, or some poisonous French poetry, or a
basket of flowers, or grapes, with Lady Betty's love to her dear
Clara—a young rascal with white kids, and his hair curled every
morning. What business has HE to be dangling about George Rumbold's
premises, and sticking up his ugly pug-face as a model for all
Miss Clapperclaw says Bulbul is evidently smitten, and Clara too.
What! would she put up with such a little fribble as that, when there
is a man of intellect and taste who—but I won't believe it. It is all
the jealousy of women.
SOME OF THE SERVANTS IN OUR STREET.
These gentlemen have two clubs in our quarter—for the butlers at
the "Indiaman," and for the gents in livery at the "Pocklington
Arms"—of either of which societies I should like to be a member. I
am sure they could not be so dull as our club at the "Poluphloisboio,"
where one meets the same neat, clean, respectable old fogies every
But with the best wishes, it is impossible for the present writer
to join either the "Plate Club" or the " Uniform Club" (as these
reunions are designated); for one could not shake hands with a friend
who was standing behind your chair, or nod a How-d'ye-do? to the
butler who was pouring you out a glass of wine;—so that what I know
about the gents in our neighborhood is from mere casual observation.
For instance, I have a slight acquaintance with (1) Thomas Spavin,
who commonly wears an air of injured innocence, and is groom to Mr.
Joseph Green, of Our Street. "I tell why the brougham 'oss is out of
condition, and why Desperation broke out all in a lather! 'Osses
will, this 'eavy weather; and Desperation was always the most mystest
hoss I ever see.—I take him out with Mr. Anderson's 'ounds—I'm above
it. I allis was too timid to ride to 'ounds by natur; and Colonel
Sprigs' groom as says he saw me, is a liar,"
Such is the tenor of Mr. Spavin's remarks to his master. Whereas
all the world in Our Street knows that Mr. Spavin spends at least a
hundred a year in beer; that he keeps a betting-book; that he has
lent Mr. Green's black brougham horse to the omnibus driver; and, at
a time when Mr. G. supposed him at the veterinary surgeon's, has lent
him to a livery stable, which has let him out to that gentleman
himself, and actually driven him to dinner behind his own horse.
This conduct I can understand, but I cannot excuse—Mr. Spavin may;
and I leave the matter to be settled betwixt himself and Mr. Green.
The second is Monsieur Sinbad, Mr. Clarence Bulbul's man, whom we
all hate Clarence for keeping.
Mr. Sinbad is a foreigner, speaking no known language, but a
mixture of every European dialect—so that he may be an Italian
brigand, or a Tyrolese minstrel, or a Spanish smuggler, for what we
know. I have heard say that he is neither of these, but an Irish
He wears studs, hair-oil, jewellery, and linen shirt-fronts, very
finely embroidered, but not particular for whiteness. He generally
appears in faded velvet waistcoats of a morning, and is always
perfumed with stale tobacco. He wears large rings on his hands,
which look as if he kept them up the chimney.
He does not appear to do anything earthly for Clarence Bulbul,
except to smoke his cigars, and to practise on his guitar. He will
not answer a bell, nor fetch a glass of water, nor go of an errand on
which, au reste, Clarence dares not send him, being entirely afraid of
his servant, and not daring to use him, or to abuse him, or to send
3. Adams—Mr. Champignon's man—a good old man in an old livery
coat with old worsted lace—so very old, deaf, surly, and faithful,
that you wonder how he should have got into the family at all; who
never kept a footman till last year, when they came into the street.
Miss Clapperclaw says she believes Adams to be Mrs. Champignon's
father, and he certainly has a look of that lady; as Miss C. pointed
out to me at dinner one night, whilst old Adams was blundering about
amongst the hired men from Gunter's, and falling over the silver
4. Fipps, the buttoniest page in all the street: walks behind Mrs.
Grimsby with her prayer-book, and protects her.
"If that woman wants a protector" (a female acquaintance remarks),
"heaven be good to us! She is as big as an ogress, and has an upper
lip which many a cornet of the Lifeguards might envy. Her poor dear
husband was a big man, and she could beat him easily; and did too.
Mrs. Grimsby indeed! Why, my dear Mr. Titmarsh, it is Glumdalca
walking with Tom Thumb."
This observation of Miss C.'s is very true, and Mrs. Grimsby might
carry her prayer-book to church herself. But Miss Clapperclaw, who
is pretty well able to take care of herself too, was glad enough to
have the protection of the page when she went out in the fly to pay
visits, and before Mrs. Grimsby and she quarrelled at whist at Lady
After this merely parenthetic observation, we come to 5, one of her
ladyship's large men, Mr. Jeames—a gentleman of vast stature and
proportions, who is almost nose to nose with us as we pass her
ladyship's door on the outside of the omnibus. I think Jeames has a
contempt for a man whom he witnesses in that position. I have fancied
something like that feeling showed itself (as far as it may in a
well-bred gentleman accustomed to society) in his behavior, while
waiting behind my chair at dinner.
But I take Jeames to be, like most giants, good-natured, lazy,
stupid, soft-hearted, and extremely fond of drink. One night, his
lady being engaged to dinner at Nightingale House, I saw Mr. Jeames
resting himself on a bench at the "Pocklington Arms:" where, as he
had no liquor before him, he had probably exhausted his credit.
Little Spitfire, Mr. Clarence Bulbul's boy, the wickedest little
varlet that ever hung on to a cab, was "chaffing" Mr. Jeames, holding
up to his face a pot of porter almost as big as the young potifer
"Vill you now, Big'un, or von't you?" Spitfire said. "If you're
thirsty, vy don't you say so and squench it, old boy?"
"Don't ago on making fun of me—I can't abear chaffin'," was the
reply of Mr. Jeames, and tears actually stood in his fine eyes as he
looked at the porter and the screeching little imp before him.
Spitfire (real name unknown) gave him some of the drink: I am happy
to say Jeames's face wore quite a different look when it rose gasping
out of the porter; and I judge of his dispositions from the above
The last boy in the sketch, 6, need scarcely be particularized.
Doctor's boy; was a charity-boy; stripes evidently added on to a pair
of the doctor's clothes of last year—Miss Clapperclaw pointed this
out to me with a giggle. Nothing escapes that old woman.
As we were walking in Kensington Gardens, she pointed me out Mrs.
Bragg's nursery-maid, who sings so loud at church, engaged with a
Lifeguardsman, whom she was trying to convert probably. My virtuous
friend rose indignant at the sight.
"That's why these minxes like Kensington Gardens," she cried.
"Look at the woman: she leaves the baby on the grass, for the giant
to trample upon; and that little wretch of a Hastings Bragg is riding
on the monster's cane."
Miss C. flew up and seized the infant, waking it out of its sleep,
and causing all the gardens to echo with its squalling. "I'll teach
you to be impudent to me," she said to the nursery-maid, with whom my
vivacious old friend, I suppose, has had a difference; and she would
not release the infant until she had rung the bell of Bungalow Lodge,
where she gave it up to the footman.
The giant in scarlet had slunk down towards Knightsbridge
meanwhile. The big rogues are always crossing the Park and the
Gardens, and hankering about Our Street.
WHAT SOMETIMES HAPPENS IN OUR STREET.
It was before old Hunkington's house that the mutes were standing,
as I passed and saw this group at the door. The charity-boy with the
hoop is the son of the jolly-looking mute; he admires his father, who
admires himself too, in those bran-new sables. The other infants are
the spawn of the alleys about Our Street. Only the parson and the
typhus fever visit those mysterious haunts, which lie crouched about
our splendid houses like Lazarus at the threshold of Dives.
Those little ones come crawling abroad in the sunshine, to the
annoyance of the beadles, and the horror of a number of good people
in the street. They will bring up the rear of the procession anon,
when the grand omnibus with the feathers, and the line coaches with
the long-tailed black horses, and the gentleman's private carriages
with the shutters up, pass along to Saint Waltheof's.
You can hear the slow bell tolling clear in the sunshine already,
mingling with the crowing of "Punch," who is passing down the street
with his show; and the two musics make a queer medley.
Not near so many people, I remark, engage "Punch" now as in the
good old times. I suppose our quarter is growing too genteel for
Miss Bridget Jones, a poor curate's daughter in Wales, comes into
all Hunkington's property, and will take his name, as I am told.
Nobody ever heard of her before. I am sure Captain Hunkington, and
his brother Barnwell Hunkington, must wish that the lucky young lady
had never been heard of to the present day.
But they will have the consolation of thinking that they did their
duty by their uncle, and consoled his declining years. It was but
last month that Millwood Hunkington (the Captain) sent the old
gentleman a service of plate; and Mrs. Barnwell got a reclining
carriage at a great expense from Hobbs and Dobbs's, in which the old
gentleman went out only once.
"It is a punishment on those Hunkingtons," Miss Clapperclaw
remarks: "upon those people who have been always living beyond their
little incomes, and always speculating upon what the old man would
leave them, and always coaxing him with presents which they could not
afford, and he did not want. It is a punishment upon those
Hunkingtons to be so disappointed."
"Think of giving him plate," Miss C. justly says, "who had chests-
full; and sending him a carriage, who could afford to buy all Long
Acre. And everything goes to Miss Jones Hunkington. I wonder will
she give the things back?" Miss Clapperclaw asks. "I wouldn't."
And indeed I don't think Miss Clapperclaw would.
SOMEBODY WHOM NOBODY KNOWS.
That pretty little house, the last in Pocklington Square, was
lately occupied by a young widow lady who wore a pink bonnet, a short
silk dress, sustained by a crinoline, and a light blue mantle, or
over-jacket (Miss C. is not here to tell me the name of the garment);
or else a black velvet pelisse, a yellow shawl, and a white bonnet; or
else—but never mind the dress, which seemed to be of the handsomest
sort money could buy—and who had very long glossy black ringlets, and
a peculiarly brilliant complexion,—No. 96, Pocklington Square, I say,
was lately occupied by a widow lady named Mrs. Stafford Molyneux.
The very first day on which an intimate and valued female friend of
mine saw Mrs. Stafford Molyneux stepping into a brougham, with a
splendid bay horse, and without a footman, (mark, if you please, that
delicate sign of respectability,) and after a moment's examination of
Mrs. S. M.'s toilette, her manners, little dog, carnation-colored
parasol, Miss Elizabeth Clapperclaw clapped to the opera-glass with
which she had been regarding the new inhabitant of Our Street, came
away from the window in a great flurry, and began poking her fire in a
fit of virtuous indignation.
"She's very pretty," said I, who had been looking over Miss C.'s
shoulder at the widow with the flashing eyes and drooping ringlets.
"Hold your tongue, sir," said Miss Clapperclaw, tossing up her
virgin head with an indignant blush on her nose. "It's a sin and a
shame that such a creature should be riding in her carriage, forsooth,
when honest people must go on foot."
Subsequent observations confirmed my revered fellow-lodger's anger
and opinion. We have watched Hansom cabs standing before that lady's
house for hours; we have seen broughams, with great flaring eyes,
keeping watch there in the darkness; we have seen the vans from the
comestible-shops drive up and discharge loads of wines, groceries,
French plums, and other articles of luxurious horror. We have seen
Count Wowski's drag, Lord Martingale's carriage, Mr. Deuceace's cab
drive up there time after time; and (having remarked previously the
pastry-cook's men arrive with the trays and entrees), we have known
that this widow was giving dinners at the little house in Pocklington
Square—dinners such as decent people could not hope to enjoy.
My excellent friend has been in a perfect fury when Mrs. Stafford
Molyneux, in a black velvet riding-habit, with a hat and feather, has
come out and mounted an odious gray horse, and has cantered down the
street, followed by her groom upon a bay.
"It won't last long—it must end in shame and humiliation," my dear
Miss C. has remarked, disappointed that the tiles and chimney-pots
did not fall down upon Mrs. Stafford Molyneux's head, and crush that
cantering, audacious woman.
But it was a consolation to see her when she walked out with a
French maid, a couple of children, and a little dog hanging on to her
by a blue ribbon. She always held down her head then—her head with
the drooping black ringlets. The virtuous and well-disposed avoided
her. I have seen the Square-keeper himself look puzzled as she
passed; and Lady Kicklebury walking by with Miss K., her daughter,
turn away from Mrs. Stafford Molyneux, and fling back at her a
ruthless Parthian glance that ought to have killed any woman of decent
That wretched woman, meanwhile, with her rouged cheeks (for rouge
it IS, Miss Clapperclaw swears, and who is a better judge?) has
walked on conscious, and yet somehow braving out the Street. You
could read pride of her beauty, pride of her fine clothes, shame of
her position, in her downcast black eyes.
As for Mademoiselle Trampoline, her French maid, she would stare
the sun itself out of countenance. One day she tossed up her head as
she passed under our windows with a look of scorn that drove Miss
Clapperclaw back to the fireplace again.
It was Mrs. Stafford Molyneux's children, however, whom I pitied
the most. Once her boy, in a flaring tartan, went up to speak to
Master Roderick Lacy, whose maid was engaged ogling a policeman; and
the children were going to make friends, being united with a hoop
which Master Molyneux had, when Master Roderick's maid, rushing up,
clutched her charge to her arms, and hurried away, leaving little
Molyneux sad and wondering.
"Why won't he play with me, mamma?" Master Molyneux asked—and his
mother's face blushed purple as she walked away.
"Ah—heaven help us and forgive us!" said I; but Miss C. can never
forgive the mother or child; and she clapped her hands for joy one
day when we saw the shutters up, bills in the windows, a carpet
hanging out over the balcony, and a crowd of shabby Jews about the
steps—giving token that the reign of Mrs. Stafford Molyneux was
over. The pastry-cooks and their trays, the bay and the gray, the
brougham and the groom, the noblemen and their cabs, were all gone;
and the tradesmen in the neighborhood were crying out that they were
"Serve the odious minx right!" says Miss C.; and she played at
piquet that night with more vigor than I have known her manifest for
these last ten years.
What is it that makes certain old ladies so savage upon certain
subjects? Miss C. is a good woman; pays her rent and her tradesmen;
gives plenty to the poor; is brisk with her tongue— kind-hearted in
the main; but if Mrs. Stafford Molyneux and her children were plunged
into a caldron of boiling vinegar, I think my revered friend would not
take them out.
THE MAN IN POSSESSION.
For another misfortune which occurred in Our Street we were much
more compassionate. We liked Danby Dixon, and his wife Fanny Dixon
still more. Miss C. had a paper of biscuits and a box of preserved
apricots always in the cupboard, ready for Dixon's children—
provisions by the way which she locked up under Mrs. Cammysole's
nose, so that our landlady could by no possibility lay a hand on
Dixon and his wife had the neatest little house possible, (No. 16,
opposite 96,) and were liked and respected by the whole street. He
was called Dandy Dixon when he was in the dragoons, and was a light
weight, and rather famous as a gentleman rider. On his marriage, he
sold out and got fat: and was indeed a florid, contented, and jovial
His little wife was charming—to see her in pink with some
miniature Dixons, in pink too, round about her, or in that beautiful
gray dress, with the deep black lace flounces, which she wore at my
Lord Comandine's on the night of the private theatricals, would have
done any man good. To hear her sing any of my little ballads,
"Knowest Thou the Willow-tree?" for instance, or "The Rose upon my
Balcony," or "The Humming of the Honey-bee," (far superior in MY
judgment, and in that of SOME GOOD JUDGES likewise, to that humbug
Clarence Bulbul's ballads,)—to hear her, I say, sing these, was to be
in a sort of small Elysium. Dear, dear little Fanny Dixon! she was
like a little chirping bird of Paradise. It was a shame that storms
should ever ruffle such a tender plumage.
Well, never mind about sentiment. Danby Dixon, the owner of this
little treasure, an ex-captain of Dragoons, and having nothing to do,
and a small income, wisely thought he would employ his spare time, and
increase his revenue. He became a director of the Cornaro Life
Insurance Company, of the Tregulpho tin-mines, and of four or five
railroad companies. It was amusing to see him swaggering about the
City in his clinking boots, and with his high and mighty dragoon
manners. For a time his talk about shares after dinner was perfectly
intolerable; and I for one was always glad to leave him in the company
of sundry very dubious capitalists who frequented his house, and walk
up to hear Mrs. Fanny warbling at the piano with her little children
about her knees.
It was only last season that they set up a carriage—the modestest
little vehicle conceivable—driven by Kirby, who had been in Dixon's
troop in the regiment, and had followed him into private life as
coachman, footman, and page.
One day lately I went into Dixon's house, hearing that some
calamities had befallen him, the particulars of which Miss
Clapperclaw was desirous to know. The creditors of the Tregulpho
Mines had got a verdict against him as one of the directors of that
company; the engineer of the Little Diddlesex Junction had sued him
for two thousand three hundred pounds—the charges of that scientific
man for six weeks' labor in surveying the line. His brother directors
were to be discovered nowhere: Windham, Dodgin, Mizzlington, and the
rest, were all gone long ago.
When I entered, the door was open: there was a smell of smoke in
the dining-room, where a gentleman at noonday was seated with a pipe
and a pot of beer: a man in possession indeed, in that comfortable
pretty parlor, by that snug round table where I have so often seen
Fanny Dixon's smiling face.
Kirby, the ex-dragoon, was scowling at the fellow, who lay upon a
little settee reading the newspaper, with an evident desire to kill
him. Mrs. Kirby, his wife, held little Danby, poor Dixon's son and
heir. Dixon's portrait smiled over the sideboard still, and his wife
was up stairs in an agony of fear, with the poor little daughters of
this bankrupt, broken family.
This poor soul had actually come down and paid a visit to the man
in possession. She had sent wine and dinner to "the gentleman down
stairs," as she called him in her terror. She had tried to move his
heart, by representing to him how innocent Captain Dixon was, and how
he had always paid, and always remained at home when everybody else
had fled. As if her tears and simple tales and entreaties could move
that man in possession out of the house, or induce him to pay the
costs of the action which her husband had lost.
Danby meanwhile was at Boulogne, sickening after his wife and
children. They sold everything in his house—all his smart furniture
and neat little stock of plate; his wardrobe and his linen, "the
property of a gentleman gone abroad;" his carriage by the best maker;
and his wine selected without regard to expense. His house was shut up
as completely as his opposite neighbor's; and a new tenant is just
having it fresh painted inside and out, as if poor Dixon had left an
Kirby and his wife went across the water with the children and Mrs.
Fanny—she has a small settlement; and I am bound to say that our
mutual friend Miss Elizabeth C. went down with Mrs. Dixon in the fly
to the Tower Stairs, and stopped in Lombard Street by the way.
So it is that the world wags: that honest men and knaves alike are
always having ups and downs of fortune, and that we are perpetually
changing tenants in Our Street.
THE LION OF THE STREET.
What people can find in Clarence Bulbul, who has lately taken upon
himself the rank and dignity of Lion of Our Street, I have always
been at a loss to conjecture.
"He has written an Eastern book of considerable merit," Miss
Clapperclaw says; but hang it, has not everybody written an Eastern
book? I should like to meet anybody in society now who has not been
up to the second cataract. An Eastern book forsooth! My Lord
Castleroyal has done one—an honest one; my Lord Youngent another—
an amusing one; my Lord Woolsey another—a pious one; there is "The
Cutlet and the Cabob"—a sentimental one; "Timbuctoothen"—a humorous
one, all ludicrously overrated, in my opinion: not including my own
little book, of which a copy or two is still to be had, by the way.
Well, then, Clarence Bulbul, because he has made part of the little
tour that all of us know, comes back and gives himself airs,
forsooth, and howls as if he were just out of the great Libyan
When we go and see him, that Irish Jew courier, whom I have before
had the honor to describe, looks up from the novel which he is
reading in the ante-room, and says, "Mon maitre est au divan," or,
"Monsieur trouvera Monsieur dans son serail," and relapses into the
Comte de Montecristo again.
Yes, the impudent wretch has actually a room in his apartments on
the ground-floor of his mother's house, which he calls his harem.
When Lady Betty Bulbul (they are of the Nightingale family) or Miss
Blanche comes down to visit him, their slippers are placed at the
door, and he receives them on an ottoman, and these infatuated women
will actually light his pipe for him.
Little Spitfire, the groom, hangs about the drawing-room, outside
the harem forsooth! so that he may be ready when Clarence Bulbul
claps hands for him to bring the pipes and coffee.
He has coffee and pipes for everybody. I should like you to have
seen the face of old Bowly, his college-tutor, called upon to sit
cross-legged on a divan, a little cup of bitter black Mocha put into
his hand, and a large amber-muzzled pipe stuck into his mouth by
Spitfire, before he could so much as say it was a fine day. Bowly
almost thought he had compromised his principles by consenting so far
to this Turkish manner.
Bulbul's dinners are, I own, very good; his pilaffs and curries
excellent. He tried to make us eat rice with our fingers, it is
true; but he scalded his own hands in the business, and invariably
bedizened his shirt; so he has left off the Turkish practice, for
dinner at least, and uses a fork like a Christian.
But it is in society that he is most remarkable; and here he would,
I own, be odious, but he becomes delightful, because all the men hate
him so. A perfect chorus of abuse is raised round about him.
"Confounded impostor," says one; "Impudent jackass," says another;
"Miserable puppy," cries a third; "I'd like to wring his neck," says
Bruff, scowling over his shoulder at him. Clarence meanwhile nods,
winks, smiles, and patronizes them all with the easiest good- humor.
He is a fellow who would poke an archbishop in the apron, or clap a
duke on the shoulder, as coolly as he would address you and me.
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
"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
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.
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
Oriel.—Yes, better! dear sister; it is only a passing—a—
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
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
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 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.