Part 2 out of 2
'The number and rapidity of the arrivals are quite bewildering.
Within the last ten minutes a stage-coach has driven up to the
door, filled inside and out with distinguished characters,
comprising Mr. Muddlebranes, Mr. Drawley, Professor Muff, Mr. X.
Misty, Mr. X. X. Misty, Mr. Purblind, Professor Rummun, The
Honourable and Reverend Mr. Long Eers, Professor John Ketch, Sir
William Joltered, Doctor Buffer, Mr. Smith (of London), Mr. Brown
(of Edinburgh), Sir Hookham Snivey, and Professor Pumpkinskull.
The ten last-named gentlemen were wet through, and looked extremely
'Sunday, two o'clock, p.m.
'The Honourable and Reverend Mr. Long Eers, accompanied by Sir
William Joltered, walked and drove this morning. They accomplished
the former feat in boots, and the latter in a hired fly. This has
naturally given rise to much discussion.
'I have just learnt that an interview has taken place at the Boot-
jack and Countenance between Sowster, the active and intelligent
beadle of this place, and Professor Pumpkinskull, who, as your
readers are doubtless aware, is an influential member of the
council. I forbear to communicate any of the rumours to which this
very extraordinary proceeding has given rise until I have seen
Sowster, and endeavoured to ascertain the truth from him.'
'I engaged a donkey-chaise shortly after writing the above, and
proceeded at a brisk trot in the direction of Sowster's residence,
passing through a beautiful expanse of country, with red brick
buildings on either side, and stopping in the marketplace to
observe the spot where Mr. Kwakley's hat was blown off yesterday.
It is an uneven piece of paving, but has certainly no appearance
which would lead one to suppose that any such event had recently
occurred there. From this point I proceeded--passing the gas-works
and tallow-melter's--to a lane which had been pointed out to me as
the beadle's place of residence; and before I had driven a dozen
yards further, I had the good fortune to meet Sowster himself
advancing towards me.
'Sowster is a fat man, with a more enlarged development of that
peculiar conformation of countenance which is vulgarly termed a
double chin than I remember to have ever seen before. He has also
a very red nose, which he attributes to a habit of early rising--so
red, indeed, that but for this explanation I should have supposed
it to proceed from occasional inebriety. He informed me that he
did not feel himself at liberty to relate what had passed between
himself and Professor Pumpkinskull, but had no objection to state
that it was connected with a matter of police regulation, and added
with peculiar significance "Never wos sitch times!"
'You will easily believe that this intelligence gave me
considerable surprise, not wholly unmixed with anxiety, and that I
lost no time in waiting on Professor Pumpkinskull, and stating the
object of my visit. After a few moments' reflection, the
Professor, who, I am bound to say, behaved with the utmost
politeness, openly avowed (I mark the passage in italics) THAT HE
HAD REQUESTED SOWSTER TO ATTEND ON THE MONDAY MORNING AT THE BOOT-
JACK AND COUNTENANCE, TO KEEP OFF THE BOYS; AND THAT HE HAD FURTHER
DESIRED THAT THE UNDER-BEADLE MIGHT BE STATIONED, WITH THE SAME
OBJECT, AT THE BLACK BOY AND STOMACH-ACHE!
'Now I leave this unconstitutional proceeding to your comments and
the consideration of your readers. I have yet to learn that a
beadle, without the precincts of a church, churchyard, or work-
house, and acting otherwise than under the express orders of
churchwardens and overseers in council assembled, to enforce the
law against people who come upon the parish, and other offenders,
has any lawful authority whatever over the rising youth of this
country. I have yet to learn that a beadle can be called out by
any civilian to exercise a domination and despotism over the boys
of Britain. I have yet to learn that a beadle will be permitted by
the commissioners of poor law regulation to wear out the soles and
heels of his boots in illegal interference with the liberties of
people not proved poor or otherwise criminal. I have yet to learn
that a beadle has power to stop up the Queen's highway at his will
and pleasure, or that the whole width of the street is not free and
open to any man, boy, or woman in existence, up to the very walls
of the houses--ay, be they Black Boys and Stomach-aches, or Boot-
jacks and Countenances, I care not.'
'I have procured a local artist to make a faithful sketch of the
tyrant Sowster, which, as he has acquired this infamous celebrity,
you will no doubt wish to have engraved for the purpose of
presenting a copy with every copy of your next number. I enclose
[Picture which cannot be reproduced]
The under-beadle has consented to write his life, but it is to be
'The accompanying likeness is of course from the life, and complete
in every respect. Even if I had been totally ignorant of the man's
real character, and it had been placed before me without remark, I
should have shuddered involuntarily. There is an intense malignity
of expression in the features, and a baleful ferocity of purpose in
the ruffian's eye, which appals and sickens. His whole air is
rampant with cruelty, nor is the stomach less characteristic of his
'The great day has at length arrived. I have neither eyes, nor
ears, nor pens, nor ink, nor paper, for anything but the wonderful
proceedings that have astounded my senses. Let me collect my
energies and proceed to the account.
'SECTION A.--ZOOLOGY AND BOTANY.
FRONT PARLOUR, BLACK BOY AND STOMACH-ACHE.
President--Sir William Joltered. Vice-Presidents--Mr. Muddlebranes
and Mr. Drawley.
'MR. X. X. MISTY communicated some remarks on the disappearance of
dancing-bears from the streets of London, with observations on the
exhibition of monkeys as connected with barrel-organs. The writer
had observed, with feelings of the utmost pain and regret, that
some years ago a sudden and unaccountable change in the public
taste took place with reference to itinerant bears, who, being
discountenanced by the populace, gradually fell off one by one from
the streets of the metropolis, until not one remained to create a
taste for natural history in the breasts of the poor and
uninstructed. One bear, indeed,--a brown and ragged animal,--had
lingered about the haunts of his former triumphs, with a worn and
dejected visage and feeble limbs, and had essayed to wield his
quarter-staff for the amusement of the multitude; but hunger, and
an utter want of any due recompense for his abilities, had at
length driven him from the field, and it was only too probable that
he had fallen a sacrifice to the rising taste for grease. He
regretted to add that a similar, and no less lamentable, change had
taken place with reference to monkeys. These delightful animals
had formerly been almost as plentiful as the organs on the tops of
which they were accustomed to sit; the proportion in the year 1829
(it appeared by the parliamentary return) being as one monkey to
three organs. Owing, however, to an altered taste in musical
instruments, and the substitution, in a great measure, of narrow
boxes of music for organs, which left the monkeys nothing to sit
upon, this source of public amusement was wholly dried up.
Considering it a matter of the deepest importance, in connection
with national education, that the people should not lose such
opportunities of making themselves acquainted with the manners and
customs of two most interesting species of animals, the author
submitted that some measures should be immediately taken for the
restoration of these pleasing and truly intellectual amusements.
'THE PRESIDENT inquired by what means the honourable member
proposed to attain this most desirable end?
'THE AUTHOR submitted that it could be most fully and
satisfactorily accomplished, if Her Majesty's Government would
cause to be brought over to England, and maintained at the public
expense, and for the public amusement, such a number of bears as
would enable every quarter of the town to be visited--say at least
by three bears a week. No difficulty whatever need be experienced
in providing a fitting place for the reception of these animals, as
a commodious bear-garden could be erected in the immediate
neighbourhood of both Houses of Parliament; obviously the most
proper and eligible spot for such an establishment.
'PROFESSOR MULL doubted very much whether any correct ideas of
natural history were propagated by the means to which the
honourable member had so ably adverted. On the contrary, he
believed that they had been the means of diffusing very incorrect
and imperfect notions on the subject. He spoke from personal
observation and personal experience, when he said that many
children of great abilities had been induced to believe, from what
they had observed in the streets, at and before the period to which
the honourable gentleman had referred, that all monkeys were born
in red coats and spangles, and that their hats and feathers also
came by nature. He wished to know distinctly whether the
honourable gentleman attributed the want of encouragement the bears
had met with to the decline of public taste in that respect, or to
a want of ability on the part of the bears themselves?
'MR. X. X. MISTY replied, that he could not bring himself to
believe but that there must be a great deal of floating talent
among the bears and monkeys generally; which, in the absence of any
proper encouragement, was dispersed in other directions.
'PROFESSOR PUMPKINSKULL wished to take that opportunity of calling
the attention of the section to a most important and serious point.
The author of the treatise just read had alluded to the prevalent
taste for bears'-grease as a means of promoting the growth of hair,
which undoubtedly was diffused to a very great and (as it appeared
to him) very alarming extent. No gentleman attending that section
could fail to be aware of the fact that the youth of the present
age evinced, by their behaviour in the streets, and at all places
of public resort, a considerable lack of that gallantry and
gentlemanly feeling which, in more ignorant times, had been thought
becoming. He wished to know whether it were possible that a
constant outward application of bears'-grease by the young
gentlemen about town had imperceptibly infused into those unhappy
persons something of the nature and quality of the bear. He
shuddered as he threw out the remark; but if this theory, on
inquiry, should prove to be well founded, it would at once explain
a great deal of unpleasant eccentricity of behaviour, which,
without some such discovery, was wholly unaccountable.
'THE PRESIDENT highly complimented the learned gentleman on his
most valuable suggestion, which produced the greatest effect upon
the assembly; and remarked that only a week previous he had seen
some young gentlemen at a theatre eyeing a box of ladies with a
fierce intensity, which nothing but the influence of some brutish
appetite could possibly explain. It was dreadful to reflect that
our youth were so rapidly verging into a generation of bears.
'After a scene of scientific enthusiasm it was resolved that this
important question should be immediately submitted to the
consideration of the council.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to know whether any gentleman could inform
the section what had become of the dancing-dogs?
'A MEMBER replied, after some hesitation, that on the day after
three glee-singers had been committed to prison as criminals by a
late most zealous police-magistrate of the metropolis, the dogs had
abandoned their professional duties, and dispersed themselves in
different quarters of the town to gain a livelihood by less
dangerous means. He was given to understand that since that period
they had supported themselves by lying in wait for and robbing
blind men's poodles.
'MR. FLUMMERY exhibited a twig, claiming to be a veritable branch
of that noble tree known to naturalists as the SHAKSPEARE, which
has taken root in every land and climate, and gathered under the
shade of its broad green boughs the great family of mankind. The
learned gentleman remarked that the twig had been undoubtedly
called by other names in its time; but that it had been pointed out
to him by an old lady in Warwickshire, where the great tree had
grown, as a shoot of the genuine SHAKSPEARE, by which name he
begged to introduce it to his countrymen.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to know what botanical definition the
honourable gentleman could afford of the curiosity.
'MR. FLUMMERY expressed his opinion that it was A DECIDED PLANT.
'SECTION B.--DISPLAY OF MODELS AND MECHANICAL SCIENCE.
LARGE ROOM, BOOT-JACK AND COUNTENANCE.
President--Mr. Mallett. Vice-Presidents--Messrs. Leaver and Scroo.
'MR. CRINKLES exhibited a most beautiful and delicate machine, of
little larger size than an ordinary snuff-box, manufactured
entirely by himself, and composed exclusively of steel, by the aid
of which more pockets could be picked in one hour than by the
present slow and tedious process in four-and-twenty. The inventor
remarked that it had been put into active operation in Fleet
Street, the Strand, and other thoroughfares, and had never been
once known to fail.
'After some slight delay, occasioned by the various members of the
section buttoning their pockets,
'THE PRESIDENT narrowly inspected the invention, and declared that
he had never seen a machine of more beautiful or exquisite
construction. Would the inventor be good enough to inform the
section whether he had taken any and what means for bringing it
into general operation?
'MR. CRINKLES stated that, after encountering some preliminary
difficulties, he had succeeded in putting himself in communication
with Mr. Fogle Hunter, and other gentlemen connected with the swell
mob, who had awarded the invention the very highest and most
unqualified approbation. He regretted to say, however, that these
distinguished practitioners, in common with a gentleman of the name
of Gimlet-eyed Tommy, and other members of a secondary grade of the
profession whom he was understood to represent, entertained an
insuperable objection to its being brought into general use, on the
ground that it would have the inevitable effect of almost entirely
superseding manual labour, and throwing a great number of highly-
deserving persons out of employment.
'THE PRESIDENT hoped that no such fanciful objections would be
allowed to stand in the way of such a great public improvement.
'MR. CRINKLES hoped so too; but he feared that if the gentlemen of
the swell mob persevered in their objection, nothing could be done.
'PROFESSOR GRIME suggested, that surely, in that case, Her
Majesty's Government might be prevailed upon to take it up.
'MR. CRINKLES said, that if the objection were found to be
insuperable he should apply to Parliament, which he thought could
not fail to recognise the utility of the invention.
'THE PRESIDENT observed that, up to this time Parliament had
certainly got on very well without it; but, as they did their
business on a very large scale, he had no doubt they would gladly
adopt the improvement. His only fear was that the machine might be
worn out by constant working.
'MR. COPPERNOSE called the attention of the section to a
proposition of great magnitude and interest, illustrated by a vast
number of models, and stated with much clearness and perspicuity in
a treatise entitled "Practical Suggestions on the necessity of
providing some harmless and wholesome relaxation for the young
noblemen of England." His proposition was, that a space of ground
of not less than ten miles in length and four in breadth should be
purchased by a new company, to be incorporated by Act of
Parliament, and inclosed by a brick wall of not less than twelve
feet in height. He proposed that it should be laid out with
highway roads, turnpikes, bridges, miniature villages, and every
object that could conduce to the comfort and glory of Four-in-hand
Clubs, so that they might be fairly presumed to require no drive
beyond it. This delightful retreat would be fitted up with most
commodious and extensive stables, for the convenience of such of
the nobility and gentry as had a taste for ostlering, and with
houses of entertainment furnished in the most expensive and
handsome style. It would be further provided with whole streets of
door-knockers and bell-handles of extra size, so constructed that
they could be easily wrenched off at night, and regularly screwed
on again, by attendants provided for the purpose, every day. There
would also be gas lamps of real glass, which could be broken at a
comparatively small expense per dozen, and a broad and handsome
foot pavement for gentlemen to drive their cabriolets upon when
they were humorously disposed--for the full enjoyment of which feat
live pedestrians would be procured from the workhouse at a very
small charge per head. The place being inclosed, and carefully
screened from the intrusion of the public, there would be no
objection to gentlemen laying aside any article of their costume
that was considered to interfere with a pleasant frolic, or,
indeed, to their walking about without any costume at all, if they
liked that better. In short, every facility of enjoyment would be
afforded that the most gentlemanly person could possibly desire.
But as even these advantages would be incomplete unless there were
some means provided of enabling the nobility and gentry to display
their prowess when they sallied forth after dinner, and as some
inconvenience might be experienced in the event of their being
reduced to the necessity of pummelling each other, the inventor had
turned his attention to the construction of an entirely new police
force, composed exclusively of automaton figures, which, with the
assistance of the ingenious Signor Gagliardi, of Windmill-street,
in the Haymarket, he had succeeded in making with such nicety, that
a policeman, cab-driver, or old woman, made upon the principle of
the models exhibited, would walk about until knocked down like any
real man; nay, more, if set upon and beaten by six or eight
noblemen or gentlemen, after it was down, the figure would utter
divers groans, mingled with entreaties for mercy, thus rendering
the illusion complete, and the enjoyment perfect. But the
invention did not stop even here; for station-houses would be
built, containing good beds for noblemen and gentlemen during the
night, and in the morning they would repair to a commodious police
office, where a pantomimic investigation would take place before
the automaton magistrates,--quite equal to life,--who would fine
them in so many counters, with which they would be previously
provided for the purpose. This office would be furnished with an
inclined plane, for the convenience of any nobleman or gentleman
who might wish to bring in his horse as a witness; and the
prisoners would be at perfect liberty, as they were now, to
interrupt the complainants as much as they pleased, and to make any
remarks that they thought proper. The charge for these amusements
would amount to very little more than they already cost, and the
inventor submitted that the public would be much benefited and
comforted by the proposed arrangement.
'PROFESSOR NOGO wished to be informed what amount of automaton
police force it was proposed to raise in the first instance.
'MR. COPPERNOSE replied, that it was proposed to begin with seven
divisions of police of a score each, lettered from A to G
inclusive. It was proposed that not more than half this number
should be placed on active duty, and that the remainder should be
kept on shelves in the police office ready to be called out at a
'THE PRESIDENT, awarding the utmost merit to the ingenious
gentleman who had originated the idea, doubted whether the
automaton police would quite answer the purpose. He feared that
noblemen and gentlemen would perhaps require the excitement of
thrashing living subjects.
'MR. COPPERNOSE submitted, that as the usual odds in such cases
were ten noblemen or gentlemen to one policeman or cab-driver, it
could make very little difference in point of excitement whether
the policeman or cab-driver were a man or a block. The great
advantage would be, that a policeman's limbs might be all knocked
off, and yet he would be in a condition to do duty next day. He
might even give his evidence next morning with his head in his
hand, and give it equally well.
'PROFESSOR MUFF.--Will you allow me to ask you, sir, of what
materials it is intended that the magistrates' heads shall be
'MR. COPPERNOSE.--The magistrates will have wooden heads of course,
and they will be made of the toughest and thickest materials that
can possibly be obtained.
'PROFESSOR MUFF.--I am quite satisfied. This is a great invention.
'PROFESSOR NOGO.--I see but one objection to it. It appears to me
that the magistrates ought to talk.
'MR. COPPERNOSE no sooner heard this suggestion than he touched a
small spring in each of the two models of magistrates which were
placed upon the table; one of the figures immediately began to
exclaim with great volubility that he was sorry to see gentlemen in
such a situation, and the other to express a fear that the
policeman was intoxicated.
'The section, as with one accord, declared with a shout of applause
that the invention was complete; and the President, much excited,
retired with Mr. Coppernose to lay it before the council. On his
'MR. TICKLE displayed his newly-invented spectacles, which enabled
the wearer to discern, in very bright colours, objects at a great
distance, and rendered him wholly blind to those immediately before
him. It was, he said, a most valuable and useful invention, based
strictly upon the principle of the human eye.
'THE PRESIDENT required some information upon this point. He had
yet to learn that the human eye was remarkable for the
peculiarities of which the honourable gentleman had spoken.
'MR. TICKLE was rather astonished to hear this, when the President
could not fail to be aware that a large number of most excellent
persons and great statesmen could see, with the naked eye, most
marvellous horrors on West India plantations, while they could
discern nothing whatever in the interior of Manchester cotton
mills. He must know, too, with what quickness of perception most
people could discover their neighbour's faults, and how very blind
they were to their own. If the President differed from the great
majority of men in this respect, his eye was a defective one, and
it was to assist his vision that these glasses were made.
'MR. BLANK exhibited a model of a fashionable annual, composed of
copper-plates, gold leaf, and silk boards, and worked entirely by
milk and water.
'MR. PROSEE, after examining the machine, declared it to be so
ingeniously composed, that he was wholly unable to discover how it
went on at all.
'MR. BLANK.--Nobody can, and that is the beauty of it.
'SECTION C.--ANATOMY AND MEDICINE.
BAR ROOM, BLACK BOY AND STOMACH-ACHE.
President--Dr. Soemup. Vice-Presidents--Messrs. Pessell and
'DR. GRUMMIDGE stated to the section a most interesting case of
monomania, and described the course of treatment he had pursued
with perfect success. The patient was a married lady in the middle
rank of life, who, having seen another lady at an evening party in
a full suit of pearls, was suddenly seized with a desire to possess
a similar equipment, although her husband's finances were by no
means equal to the necessary outlay. Finding her wish ungratified,
she fell sick, and the symptoms soon became so alarming, that he
(Dr. Grummidge) was called in. At this period the prominent tokens
of the disorder were sullenness, a total indisposition to perform
domestic duties, great peevishness, and extreme languor, except
when pearls were mentioned, at which times the pulse quickened, the
eyes grew brighter, the pupils dilated, and the patient, after
various incoherent exclamations, burst into a passion of tears, and
exclaimed that nobody cared for her, and that she wished herself
dead. Finding that the patient's appetite was affected in the
presence of company, he began by ordering a total abstinence from
all stimulants, and forbidding any sustenance but weak gruel; he
then took twenty ounces of blood, applied a blister under each ear,
one upon the chest, and another on the back; having done which, and
administered five grains of calomel, he left the patient to her
repose. The next day she was somewhat low, but decidedly better,
and all appearances of irritation were removed. The next day she
improved still further, and on the next again. On the fourth there
was some appearance of a return of the old symptoms, which no
sooner developed themselves, than he administered another dose of
calomel, and left strict orders that, unless a decidedly favourable
change occurred within two hours, the patient's head should be
immediately shaved to the very last curl. From that moment she
began to mend, and, in less than four-and-twenty hours was
perfectly restored. She did not now betray the least emotion at
the sight or mention of pearls or any other ornaments. She was
cheerful and good-humoured, and a most beneficial change had been
effected in her whole temperament and condition.
'MR. PIPKIN (M.R.C.S.) read a short but most interesting
communication in which he sought to prove the complete belief of
Sir William Courtenay, otherwise Thorn, recently shot at
Canterbury, in the Homoeopathic system. The section would bear in
mind that one of the Homoeopathic doctrines was, that infinitesimal
doses of any medicine which would occasion the disease under which
the patient laboured, supposing him to be in a healthy state, would
cure it. Now, it was a remarkable circumstance--proved in the
evidence--that the deceased Thorn employed a woman to follow him
about all day with a pail of water, assuring her that one drop (a
purely homoeopathic remedy, the section would observe), placed upon
his tongue, after death, would restore him. What was the obvious
inference? That Thorn, who was marching and countermarching in
osier beds, and other swampy places, was impressed with a
presentiment that he should be drowned; in which case, had his
instructions been complied with, he could not fail to have been
brought to life again instantly by his own prescription. As it
was, if this woman, or any other person, had administered an
infinitesimal dose of lead and gunpowder immediately after he fell,
he would have recovered forthwith. But unhappily the woman
concerned did not possess the power of reasoning by analogy, or
carrying out a principle, and thus the unfortunate gentleman had
been sacrificed to the ignorance of the peasantry.
OUT-HOUSE, BLACK BOY AND STOMACH-ACHE.
President--Mr. Slug. Vice-Presidents--Messrs. Noakes and Styles.
'MR. KWAKLEY stated the result of some most ingenious statistical
inquiries relative to the difference between the value of the
qualification of several members of Parliament as published to the
world, and its real nature and amount. After reminding the section
that every member of Parliament for a town or borough was supposed
to possess a clear freehold estate of three hundred pounds per
annum, the honourable gentleman excited great amusement and
laughter by stating the exact amount of freehold property possessed
by a column of legislators, in which he had included himself. It
appeared from this table, that the amount of such income possessed
by each was 0 pounds, 0 shillings, and 0 pence, yielding an average
of the same. (Great laughter.) It was pretty well known that there
were accommodating gentlemen in the habit of furnishing new members
with temporary qualifications, to the ownership of which they swore
solemnly--of course as a mere matter of form. He argued from these
data that it was wholly unnecessary for members of Parliament to
possess any property at all, especially as when they had none the
public could get them so much cheaper.
'SUPPLEMENTARY SECTION, E.--UMBUGOLOGY AND DITCHWATERISICS.
President--Mr. Grub. Vice Presidents--Messrs. Dull and Dummy.
'A paper was read by the secretary descriptive of a bay pony with
one eye, which had been seen by the author standing in a butcher's
cart at the corner of Newgate Market. The communication described
the author of the paper as having, in the prosecution of a
mercantile pursuit, betaken himself one Saturday morning last
summer from Somers Town to Cheapside; in the course of which
expedition he had beheld the extraordinary appearance above
described. The pony had one distinct eye, and it had been pointed
out to him by his friend Captain Blunderbore, of the Horse Marines,
who assisted the author in his search, that whenever he winked this
eye he whisked his tail (possibly to drive the flies off), but that
he always winked and whisked at the same time. The animal was
lean, spavined, and tottering; and the author proposed to
constitute it of the family of FITFORDOGSMEATAURIOUS. It certainly
did occur to him that there was no case on record of a pony with
one clearly-defined and distinct organ of vision, winking and
whisking at the same moment.
'MR. Q. J. SNUFFLETOFFLE had heard of a pony winking his eye, and
likewise of a pony whisking his tail, but whether they were two
ponies or the same pony he could not undertake positively to say.
At all events, he was acquainted with no authenticated instance of
a simultaneous winking and whisking, and he really could not but
doubt the existence of such a marvellous pony in opposition to all
those natural laws by which ponies were governed. Referring,
however, to the mere question of his one organ of vision, might he
suggest the possibility of this pony having been literally half
asleep at the time he was seen, and having closed only one eye.
'THE PRESIDENT observed that, whether the pony was half asleep or
fast asleep, there could be no doubt that the association was wide
awake, and therefore that they had better get the business over,
and go to dinner. He had certainly never seen anything analogous
to this pony, but he was not prepared to doubt its existence; for
he had seen many queerer ponies in his time, though he did not
pretend to have seen any more remarkable donkeys than the other
gentlemen around him.
'PROFESSOR JOHN KETCH was then called upon to exhibit the skull of
the late Mr. Greenacre, which he produced from a blue bag,
remarking, on being invited to make any observations that occurred
to him, "that he'd pound it as that 'ere 'spectable section had
never seed a more gamerer cove nor he vos."
'A most animated discussion upon this interesting relic ensued;
and, some difference of opinion arising respecting the real
character of the deceased gentleman, Mr. Blubb delivered a lecture
upon the cranium before him, clearly showing that Mr. Greenacre
possessed the organ of destructiveness to a most unusual extent,
with a most remarkable development of the organ of carveativeness.
Sir Hookham Snivey was proceeding to combat this opinion, when
Professor Ketch suddenly interrupted the proceedings by exclaiming,
with great excitement of manner, "Walker!"
'THE PRESIDENT begged to call the learned gentleman to order.
'PROFESSOR KETCH.--"Order be blowed! you've got the wrong un, I
tell you. It ain't no 'ed at all; it's a coker-nut as my brother-
in-law has been a-carvin', to hornament his new baked tatur-stall
wots a-comin' down 'ere vile the 'sociation's in the town. Hand
over, vill you?"
'With these words, Professor Ketch hastily repossessed himself of
the cocoa-nut, and drew forth the skull, in mistake for which he
had exhibited it. A most interesting conversation ensued; but as
there appeared some doubt ultimately whether the skull was Mr.
Greenacre's, or a hospital patient's, or a pauper's, or a man's, or
a woman's, or a monkey's, no particular result was obtained.'
'I cannot,' says our talented correspondent in conclusion, 'I
cannot close my account of these gigantic researches and sublime
and noble triumphs without repeating a bon mot of Professor
Woodensconce's, which shows how the greatest minds may occasionally
unbend when truth can be presented to listening ears, clothed in an
attractive and playful form. I was standing by, when, after a week
of feasting and feeding, that learned gentleman, accompanied by the
whole body of wonderful men, entered the hall yesterday, where a
sumptuous dinner was prepared; where the richest wines sparkled on
the board, and fat bucks--propitiatory sacrifices to learning--sent
forth their savoury odours. "Ah!" said Professor Woodensconce,
rubbing his hands, "this is what we meet for; this is what inspires
us; this is what keeps us together, and beckons us onward; this is
the SPREAD of science, and a glorious spread it is."'
THE PANTOMIME OF LIFE
Before we plunge headlong into this paper, let us at once confess
to a fondness for pantomimes--to a gentle sympathy with clowns and
pantaloons--to an unqualified admiration of harlequins and
columbines--to a chaste delight in every action of their brief
existence, varied and many-coloured as those actions are, and
inconsistent though they occasionally be with those rigid and
formal rules of propriety which regulate the proceedings of meaner
and less comprehensive minds. We revel in pantomimes--not because
they dazzle one's eyes with tinsel and gold leaf; not because they
present to us, once again, the well-beloved chalked faces, and
goggle eyes of our childhood; not even because, like Christmas-day,
and Twelfth-night, and Shrove-Tuesday, and one's own birthday, they
come to us but once a year;--our attachment is founded on a graver
and a very different reason. A pantomime is to us, a mirror of
life; nay, more, we maintain that it is so to audiences generally,
although they are not aware of it, and that this very circumstance
is the secret cause of their amusement and delight.
Let us take a slight example. The scene is a street: an elderly
gentleman, with a large face and strongly marked features, appears.
His countenance beams with a sunny smile, and a perpetual dimple is
on his broad, red cheek. He is evidently an opulent elderly
gentleman, comfortable in circumstances, and well-to-do in the
world. He is not unmindful of the adornment of his person, for he
is richly, not to say gaudily, dressed; and that he indulges to a
reasonable extent in the pleasures of the table may be inferred
from the joyous and oily manner in which he rubs his stomach, by
way of informing the audience that he is going home to dinner. In
the fulness of his heart, in the fancied security of wealth, in the
possession and enjoyment of all the good things of life, the
elderly gentleman suddenly loses his footing, and stumbles. How
the audience roar! He is set upon by a noisy and officious crowd,
who buffet and cuff him unmercifully. They scream with delight!
Every time the elderly gentleman struggles to get up, his
relentless persecutors knock him down again. The spectators are
convulsed with merriment! And when at last the elderly gentleman
does get up, and staggers away, despoiled of hat, wig, and
clothing, himself battered to pieces, and his watch and money gone,
they are exhausted with laughter, and express their merriment and
admiration in rounds of applause.
Is this like life? Change the scene to any real street;--to the
Stock Exchange, or the City banker's; the merchant's counting-
house, or even the tradesman's shop. See any one of these men
fall,--the more suddenly, and the nearer the zenith of his pride
and riches, the better. What a wild hallo is raised over his
prostrate carcase by the shouting mob; how they whoop and yell as
he lies humbled beneath them! Mark how eagerly they set upon him
when he is down; and how they mock and deride him as he slinks
away. Why, it is the pantomime to the very letter.
Of all the pantomimic dramatis personae, we consider the pantaloon
the most worthless and debauched. Independent of the dislike one
naturally feels at seeing a gentleman of his years engaged in
pursuits highly unbecoming his gravity and time of life, we cannot
conceal from ourselves the fact that he is a treacherous, worldly-
minded old villain, constantly enticing his younger companion, the
clown, into acts of fraud or petty larceny, and generally standing
aside to watch the result of the enterprise. If it be successful,
he never forgets to return for his share of the spoil; but if it
turn out a failure, he generally retires with remarkable caution
and expedition, and keeps carefully aloof until the affair has
blown over. His amorous propensities, too, are eminently
disagreeable; and his mode of addressing ladies in the open street
at noon-day is down-right improper, being usually neither more nor
less than a perceptible tickling of the aforesaid ladies in the
waist, after committing which, he starts back, manifestly ashamed
(as well he may be) of his own indecorum and temerity; continuing,
nevertheless, to ogle and beckon to them from a distance in a very
unpleasant and immoral manner.
Is there any man who cannot count a dozen pantaloons in his own
social circle? Is there any man who has not seen them swarming at
the west end of the town on a sunshiny day or a summer's evening,
going through the last-named pantomimic feats with as much
liquorish energy, and as total an absence of reserve, as if they
were on the very stage itself? We can tell upon our fingers a
dozen pantaloons of our acquaintance at this moment--capital
pantaloons, who have been performing all kinds of strange freaks,
to the great amusement of their friends and acquaintance, for years
past; and who to this day are making such comical and ineffectual
attempts to be young and dissolute, that all beholders are like to
die with laughter.
Take that old gentleman who has just emerged from the Cafe de
l'Europe in the Haymarket, where he has been dining at the expense
of the young man upon town with whom he shakes hands as they part
at the door of the tavern. The affected warmth of that shake of
the hand, the courteous nod, the obvious recollection of the
dinner, the savoury flavour of which still hangs upon his lips, are
all characteristics of his great prototype. He hobbles away
humming an opera tune, and twirling his cane to and fro, with
affected carelessness. Suddenly he stops--'tis at the milliner's
window. He peeps through one of the large panes of glass; and, his
view of the ladies within being obstructed by the India shawls,
directs his attentions to the young girl with the band-box in her
hand, who is gazing in at the window also. See! he draws beside
her. He coughs; she turns away from him. He draws near her again;
she disregards him. He gleefully chucks her under the chin, and,
retreating a few steps, nods and beckons with fantastic grimaces,
while the girl bestows a contemptuous and supercilious look upon
his wrinkled visage. She turns away with a flounce, and the old
gentleman trots after her with a toothless chuckle. The pantaloon
to the life!
But the close resemblance which the clowns of the stage bear to
those of every-day life is perfectly extraordinary. Some people
talk with a sigh of the decline of pantomime, and murmur in low and
dismal tones the name of Grimaldi. We mean no disparagement to the
worthy and excellent old man when we say that this is downright
nonsense. Clowns that beat Grimaldi all to nothing turn up every
day, and nobody patronizes them--more's the pity!
'I know who you mean,' says some dirty-faced patron of Mr.
Osbaldistone's, laying down the Miscellany when he has got thus
far, and bestowing upon vacancy a most knowing glance; 'you mean C.
J. Smith as did Guy Fawkes, and George Barnwell at the Garden.'
The dirty-faced gentleman has hardly uttered the words, when he is
interrupted by a young gentleman in no shirt-collar and a Petersham
coat. 'No, no,' says the young gentleman; 'he means Brown, King,
and Gibson, at the 'Delphi.' Now, with great deference both to the
first-named gentleman with the dirty face, and the last-named
gentleman in the non-existing shirt-collar, we do NOT mean either
the performer who so grotesquely burlesqued the Popish conspirator,
or the three unchangeables who have been dancing the same dance
under different imposing titles, and doing the same thing under
various high-sounding names for some five or six years last past.
We have no sooner made this avowal, than the public, who have
hitherto been silent witnesses of the dispute, inquire what on
earth it is we DO mean; and, with becoming respect, we proceed to
It is very well known to all playgoers and pantomime-seers, that
the scenes in which a theatrical clown is at the very height of his
glory are those which are described in the play-bills as
'Cheesemonger's shop and Crockery warehouse,' or 'Tailor's shop,
and Mrs. Queertable's boarding-house,' or places bearing some such
title, where the great fun of the thing consists in the hero's
taking lodgings which he has not the slightest intention of paying
for, or obtaining goods under false pretences, or abstracting the
stock-in-trade of the respectable shopkeeper next door, or robbing
warehouse porters as they pass under his window, or, to shorten the
catalogue, in his swindling everybody he possibly can, it only
remaining to be observed that, the more extensive the swindling is,
and the more barefaced the impudence of the swindler, the greater
the rapture and ecstasy of the audience. Now it is a most
remarkable fact that precisely this sort of thing occurs in real
life day after day, and nobody sees the humour of it. Let us
illustrate our position by detailing the plot of this portion of
the pantomime--not of the theatre, but of life.
The Honourable Captain Fitz-Whisker Fiercy, attended by his livery
servant Do'em--a most respectable servant to look at, who has grown
grey in the service of the captain's family--views, treats for, and
ultimately obtains possession of, the unfurnished house, such a
number, such a street. All the tradesmen in the neighbourhood are
in agonies of competition for the captain's custom; the captain is
a good-natured, kind-hearted, easy man, and, to avoid being the
cause of disappointment to any, he most handsomely gives orders to
all. Hampers of wine, baskets of provisions, cart-loads of
furniture, boxes of jewellery, supplies of luxuries of the
costliest description, flock to the house of the Honourable Captain
Fitz-Whisker Fiercy, where they are received with the utmost
readiness by the highly respectable Do'em; while the captain
himself struts and swaggers about with that compound air of
conscious superiority and general blood-thirstiness which a
military captain should always, and does most times, wear, to the
admiration and terror of plebeian men. But the tradesmen's backs
are no sooner turned, than the captain, with all the eccentricity
of a mighty mind, and assisted by the faithful Do'em, whose devoted
fidelity is not the least touching part of his character, disposes
of everything to great advantage; for, although the articles fetch
small sums, still they are sold considerably above cost price, the
cost to the captain having been nothing at all. After various
manoeuvres, the imposture is discovered, Fitz-Fiercy and Do'em are
recognized as confederates, and the police office to which they are
both taken is thronged with their dupes.
Who can fail to recognize in this, the exact counterpart of the
best portion of a theatrical pantomime--Fitz-Whisker Fiercy by the
clown; Do'em by the pantaloon; and supernumeraries by the
tradesmen? The best of the joke, too, is, that the very coal-
merchant who is loudest in his complaints against the person who
defrauded him, is the identical man who sat in the centre of the
very front row of the pit last night and laughed the most
boisterously at this very same thing,--and not so well done either.
Talk of Grimaldi, we say again! Did Grimaldi, in his best days,
ever do anything in this way equal to Da Costa?
The mention of this latter justly celebrated clown reminds us of
his last piece of humour, the fraudulently obtaining certain
stamped acceptances from a young gentleman in the army. We had
scarcely laid down our pen to contemplate for a few moments this
admirable actor's performance of that exquisite practical joke,
than a new branch of our subject flashed suddenly upon us. So we
take it up again at once.
All people who have been behind the scenes, and most people who
have been before them, know, that in the representation of a
pantomime, a good many men are sent upon the stage for the express
purpose of being cheated, or knocked down, or both. Now, down to a
moment ago, we had never been able to understand for what possible
purpose a great number of odd, lazy, large-headed men, whom one is
in the habit of meeting here, and there, and everywhere, could ever
have been created. We see it all, now. They are the
supernumeraries in the pantomime of life; the men who have been
thrust into it, with no other view than to be constantly tumbling
over each other, and running their heads against all sorts of
strange things. We sat opposite to one of these men at a supper-
table, only last week. Now we think of it, he was exactly like the
gentlemen with the pasteboard heads and faces, who do the
corresponding business in the theatrical pantomimes; there was the
same broad stolid simper--the same dull leaden eye--the same
unmeaning, vacant stare; and whatever was said, or whatever was
done, he always came in at precisely the wrong place, or jostled
against something that he had not the slightest business with. We
looked at the man across the table again and again; and could not
satisfy ourselves what race of beings to class him with. How very
odd that this never occurred to us before!
We will frankly own that we have been much troubled with the
harlequin. We see harlequins of so many kinds in the real living
pantomime, that we hardly know which to select as the proper fellow
of him of the theatres. At one time we were disposed to think that
the harlequin was neither more nor less than a young man of family
and independent property, who had run away with an opera-dancer,
and was fooling his life and his means away in light and trivial
amusements. On reflection, however, we remembered that harlequins
are occasionally guilty of witty, and even clever acts, and we are
rather disposed to acquit our young men of family and independent
property, generally speaking, of any such misdemeanours. On a more
mature consideration of the subject, we have arrived at the
conclusion that the harlequins of life are just ordinary men, to be
found in no particular walk or degree, on whom a certain station,
or particular conjunction of circumstances, confers the magic wand.
And this brings us to a few words on the pantomime of public and
political life, which we shall say at once, and then conclude--
merely premising in this place that we decline any reference
whatever to the columbine, being in no wise satisfied of the nature
of her connection with her parti-coloured lover, and not feeling by
any means clear that we should be justified in introducing her to
the virtuous and respectable ladies who peruse our lucubrations.
We take it that the commencement of a Session of Parliament is
neither more nor less than the drawing up of the curtain for a
grand comic pantomime, and that his Majesty's most gracious speech
on the opening thereof may be not inaptly compared to the clown's
opening speech of 'Here we are!' 'My lords and gentlemen, here we
are!' appears, to our mind at least, to be a very good abstract of
the point and meaning of the propitiatory address of the ministry.
When we remember how frequently this speech is made, immediately
after THE CHANGE too, the parallel is quite perfect, and still more
Perhaps the cast of our political pantomime never was richer than
at this day. We are particularly strong in clowns. At no former
time, we should say, have we had such astonishing tumblers, or
performers so ready to go through the whole of their feats for the
amusement of an admiring throng. Their extreme readiness to
exhibit, indeed, has given rise to some ill-natured reflections; it
having been objected that by exhibiting gratuitously through the
country when the theatre is closed, they reduce themselves to the
level of mountebanks, and thereby tend to degrade the
respectability of the profession. Certainly Grimaldi never did
this sort of thing; and though Brown, King, and Gibson have gone to
the Surrey in vacation time, and Mr. C. J. Smith has ruralised at
Sadler's Wells, we find no theatrical precedent for a general
tumbling through the country, except in the gentleman, name
unknown, who threw summersets on behalf of the late Mr. Richardson,
and who is no authority either, because he had never been on the
But, laying aside this question, which after all is a mere matter
of taste, we may reflect with pride and gratification of heart on
the proficiency of our clowns as exhibited in the season. Night
after night will they twist and tumble about, till two, three, and
four o'clock in the morning; playing the strangest antics, and
giving each other the funniest slaps on the face that can possibly
be imagined, without evincing the smallest tokens of fatigue. The
strange noises, the confusion, the shouting and roaring, amid which
all this is done, too, would put to shame the most turbulent
sixpenny gallery that ever yelled through a boxing-night.
It is especially curious to behold one of these clowns compelled to
go through the most surprising contortions by the irresistible
influence of the wand of office, which his leader or harlequin
holds above his head. Acted upon by this wonderful charm he will
become perfectly motionless, moving neither hand, foot, nor finger,
and will even lose the faculty of speech at an instant's notice; or
on the other hand, he will become all life and animation if
required, pouring forth a torrent of words without sense or
meaning, throwing himself into the wildest and most fantastic
contortions, and even grovelling on the earth and licking up the
dust. These exhibitions are more curious than pleasing; indeed,
they are rather disgusting than otherwise, except to the admirers
of such things, with whom we confess we have no fellow-feeling.
Strange tricks--very strange tricks--are also performed by the
harlequin who holds for the time being the magic wand which we have
just mentioned. The mere waving it before a man's eyes will
dispossess his brains of all the notions previously stored there,
and fill it with an entirely new set of ideas; one gentle tap on
the back will alter the colour of a man's coat completely; and
there are some expert performers, who, having this wand held first
on one side and then on the other, will change from side to side,
turning their coats at every evolution, with so much rapidity and
dexterity, that the quickest eye can scarcely detect their motions.
Occasionally, the genius who confers the wand, wrests it from the
hand of the temporary possessor, and consigns it to some new
performer; on which occasions all the characters change sides, and
then the race and the hard knocks begin anew.
We might have extended this chapter to a much greater length--we
might have carried the comparison into the liberal professions--we
might have shown, as was in fact our original purpose, that each is
in itself a little pantomime with scenes and characters of its own,
complete; but, as we fear we have been quite lengthy enough
already, we shall leave this chapter just where it is. A
gentleman, not altogether unknown as a dramatic poet, wrote thus a
year or two ago -
'All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:'
and we, tracking out his footsteps at the scarcely-worth-mentioning
little distance of a few millions of leagues behind, venture to
add, by way of new reading, that he meant a Pantomime, and that we
are all actors in The Pantomime of Life.
SOME PARTICULARS CONCERNING A LION
We have a great respect for lions in the abstract. In common with
most other people, we have heard and read of many instances of
their bravery and generosity. We have duly admired that heroic
self-denial and charming philanthropy which prompts them never to
eat people except when they are hungry, and we have been deeply
impressed with a becoming sense of the politeness they are said to
display towards unmarried ladies of a certain state. All natural
histories teem with anecdotes illustrative of their excellent
qualities; and one old spelling-book in particular recounts a
touching instance of an old lion, of high moral dignity and stern
principle, who felt it his imperative duty to devour a young man
who had contracted a habit of swearing, as a striking example to
the rising generation.
All this is extremely pleasant to reflect upon, and, indeed, says a
very great deal in favour of lions as a mass. We are bound to
state, however, that such individual lions as we have happened to
fall in with have not put forth any very striking characteristics,
and have not acted up to the chivalrous character assigned them by
their chroniclers. We never saw a lion in what is called his
natural state, certainly; that is to say, we have never met a lion
out walking in a forest, or crouching in his lair under a tropical
sun, waiting till his dinner should happen to come by, hot from the
baker's. But we have seen some under the influence of captivity,
and the pressure of misfortune; and we must say that they appeared
to us very apathetic, heavy-headed fellows.
The lion at the Zoological Gardens, for instance. He is all very
well; he has an undeniable mane, and looks very fierce; but, Lord
bless us! what of that? The lions of the fashionable world look
just as ferocious, and are the most harmless creatures breathing.
A box-lobby lion or a Regent-street animal will put on a most
terrible aspect, and roar, fearfully, if you affront him; but he
will never bite, and, if you offer to attack him manfully, will
fairly turn tail and sneak off. Doubtless these creatures roam
about sometimes in herds, and, if they meet any especially meek-
looking and peaceably-disposed fellow, will endeavour to frighten
him; but the faintest show of a vigorous resistance is sufficient
to scare them even then. These are pleasant characteristics,
whereas we make it matter of distinct charge against the Zoological
lion and his brethren at the fairs, that they are sleepy, dreamy,
We do not remember to have ever seen one of them perfectly awake,
except at feeding-time. In every respect we uphold the biped lions
against their four-footed namesakes, and we boldly challenge
controversy upon the subject.
With these opinions it may be easily imagined that our curiosity
and interest were very much excited the other day, when a lady of
our acquaintance called on us and resolutely declined to accept our
refusal of her invitation to an evening party; 'for,' said she, 'I
have got a lion coming.' We at once retracted our plea of a prior
engagement, and became as anxious to go, as we had previously been
to stay away.
We went early, and posted ourselves in an eligible part of the
drawing-room, from whence we could hope to obtain a full view of
the interesting animal. Two or three hours passed, the quadrilles
began, the room filled; but no lion appeared. The lady of the
house became inconsolable,--for it is one of the peculiar
privileges of these lions to make solemn appointments and never
keep them,--when all of a sudden there came a tremendous double rap
at the street-door, and the master of the house, after gliding out
(unobserved as he flattered himself) to peep over the banisters,
came into the room, rubbing his hands together with great glee, and
cried out in a very important voice, 'My dear, Mr.--(naming the
lion) has this moment arrived.'
Upon this, all eyes were turned towards the door, and we observed
several young ladies, who had been laughing and conversing
previously with great gaiety and good humour, grow extremely quiet
and sentimental; while some young gentlemen, who had been cutting
great figures in the facetious and small-talk way, suddenly sank
very obviously in the estimation of the company, and were looked
upon with great coldness and indifference. Even the young man who
had been ordered from the music shop to play the pianoforte was
visibly affected, and struck several false notes in the excess of
All this time there was a great talking outside, more than once
accompanied by a loud laugh, and a cry of 'Oh! capital! excellent!'
from which we inferred that the lion was jocose, and that these
exclamations were occasioned by the transports of his keeper and
our host. Nor were we deceived; for when the lion at last
appeared, we overheard his keeper, who was a little prim man,
whisper to several gentlemen of his acquaintance, with uplifted
hands, and every expression of half-suppressed admiration, that--
(naming the lion again) was in SUCH cue to-night!
The lion was a literary one. Of course, there were a vast number
of people present who had admired his roarings, and were anxious to
be introduced to him; and very pleasant it was to see them brought
up for the purpose, and to observe the patient dignity with which
he received all their patting and caressing. This brought forcibly
to our mind what we had so often witnessed at country fairs, where
the other lions are compelled to go through as many forms of
courtesy as they chance to be acquainted with, just as often as
admiring parties happen to drop in upon them.
While the lion was exhibiting in this way, his keeper was not idle,
for he mingled among the crowd, and spread his praises most
industriously. To one gentleman he whispered some very choice
thing that the noble animal had said in the very act of coming up-
stairs, which, of course, rendered the mental effort still more
astonishing; to another he murmured a hasty account of a grand
dinner that had taken place the day before, where twenty-seven
gentlemen had got up all at once to demand an extra cheer for the
lion; and to the ladies he made sundry promises of interceding to
procure the majestic brute's sign-manual for their albums. Then,
there were little private consultations in different corners,
relative to the personal appearance and stature of the lion;
whether he was shorter than they had expected to see him, or
taller, or thinner, or fatter, or younger, or older; whether he was
like his portrait, or unlike it; and whether the particular shade
of his eyes was black, or blue, or hazel, or green, or yellow, or
mixture. At all these consultations the keeper assisted; and, in
short, the lion was the sole and single subject of discussion till
they sat him down to whist, and then the people relapsed into their
old topics of conversation--themselves and each other.
We must confess that we looked forward with no slight impatience to
the announcement of supper; for if you wish to see a tame lion
under particularly favourable circumstances, feeding-time is the
period of all others to pitch upon. We were therefore very much
delighted to observe a sensation among the guests, which we well
knew how to interpret, and immediately afterwards to behold the
lion escorting the lady of the house down-stairs. We offered our
arm to an elderly female of our acquaintance, who--dear old soul!--
is the very best person that ever lived, to lead down to any meal;
for, be the room ever so small, or the party ever so large, she is
sure, by some intuitive perception of the eligible, to push and
pull herself and conductor close to the best dishes on the table;--
we say we offered our arm to this elderly female, and, descending
the stairs shortly after the lion, were fortunate enough to obtain
a seat nearly opposite him.
Of course the keeper was there already. He had planted himself at
precisely that distance from his charge which afforded him a decent
pretext for raising his voice, when he addressed him, to so loud a
key, as could not fail to attract the attention of the whole
company, and immediately began to apply himself seriously to the
task of bringing the lion out, and putting him through the whole of
his manoeuvres. Such flashes of wit as he elicited from the lion!
First of all, they began to make puns upon a salt-cellar, and then
upon the breast of a fowl, and then upon the trifle; but the best
jokes of all were decidedly on the lobster salad, upon which latter
subject the lion came out most vigorously, and, in the opinion of
the most competent authorities, quite outshone himself. This is a
very excellent mode of shining in society, and is founded, we
humbly conceive, upon the classic model of the dialogues between
Mr. Punch and his friend the proprietor, wherein the latter takes
all the up-hill work, and is content to pioneer to the jokes and
repartees of Mr. P. himself, who never fails to gain great credit
and excite much laughter thereby. Whatever it be founded on,
however, we recommend it to all lions, present and to come; for in
this instance it succeeded to admiration, and perfectly dazzled the
whole body of hearers.
When the salt-cellar, and the fowl's breast, and the trifle, and
the lobster salad were all exhausted, and could not afford
standing-room for another solitary witticism, the keeper performed
that very dangerous feat which is still done with some of the
caravan lions, although in one instance it terminated fatally, of
putting his head in the animal's mouth, and placing himself
entirely at its mercy. Boswell frequently presents a melancholy
instance of the lamentable results of this achievement, and other
keepers and jackals have been terribly lacerated for their daring.
It is due to our lion to state, that he condescended to be trifled
with, in the most gentle manner, and finally went home with the
showman in a hack cab: perfectly peaceable, but slightly fuddled.
Being in a contemplative mood, we were led to make some reflections
upon the character and conduct of this genus of lions as we walked
homewards, and we were not long in arriving at the conclusion that
our former impression in their favour was very much strengthened
and confirmed by what we had recently seen. While the other lions
receive company and compliments in a sullen, moody, not to say
snarling manner, these appear flattered by the attentions that are
paid them; while those conceal themselves to the utmost of their
power from the vulgar gaze, these court the popular eye, and,
unlike their brethren, whom nothing short of compulsion will move
to exertion, are ever ready to display their acquirements to the
wondering throng. We have known bears of undoubted ability who,
when the expectations of a large audience have been wound up to the
utmost pitch, have peremptorily refused to dance; well-taught
monkeys, who have unaccountably objected to exhibit on the slack
wire; and elephants of unquestioned genius, who have suddenly
declined to turn the barrel-organ; but we never once knew or heard
of a biped lion, literary or otherwise,--and we state it as a fact
which is highly creditable to the whole species,--who, occasion
offering, did not seize with avidity on any opportunity which was
afforded him, of performing to his heart's content on the first
MR. ROBERT BOLTON: THE 'GENTLEMAN CONNECTED WITH THE PRESS'
In the parlour of the Green Dragon, a public-house in the immediate
neighbourhood of Westminster Bridge, everybody talks politics,
every evening, the great political authority being Mr. Robert
Bolton, an individual who defines himself as 'a gentleman connected
with the press,' which is a definition of peculiar indefiniteness.
Mr. Robert Bolton's regular circle of admirers and listeners are an
undertaker, a greengrocer, a hairdresser, a baker, a large stomach
surmounted by a man's head, and placed on the top of two
particularly short legs, and a thin man in black, name, profession,
and pursuit unknown, who always sits in the same position, always
displays the same long, vacant face, and never opens his lips,
surrounded as he is by most enthusiastic conversation, except to
puff forth a volume of tobacco smoke, or give vent to a very
snappy, loud, and shrill HEM! The conversation sometimes turns
upon literature, Mr. Bolton being a literary character, and always
upon such news of the day as is exclusively possessed by that
talented individual. I found myself (of course, accidentally) in
the Green Dragon the other evening, and, being somewhat amused by
the following conversation, preserved it.
'Can you lend me a ten-pound note till Christmas?' inquired the
hairdresser of the stomach.
'Where's your security, Mr. Clip?'
'My stock in trade,--there's enough of it, I'm thinking, Mr.
Thicknesse. Some fifty wigs, two poles, half-a-dozen head blocks,
and a dead Bruin.'
'No, I won't, then,' growled out Thicknesse. 'I lends nothing on
the security of the whigs or the Poles either. As for whigs,
they're cheats; as for the Poles, they've got no cash. I never
have nothing to do with blockheads, unless I can't awoid it
(ironically), and a dead bear's about as much use to me as I could
be to a dead bear.'
'Well, then,' urged the other, 'there's a book as belonged to Pope,
Byron's Poems, valued at forty pounds, because it's got Pope's
identical scratch on the back; what do you think of that for
'Well, to be sure!' cried the baker. 'But how d'ye mean, Mr.
'Mean! why, that it's got the HOTTERGRUFF of Pope.
"Steal not this book, for fear of hangman's rope;
For it belongs to Alexander Pope."
All that's written on the inside of the binding of the book; so, as
my son says, we're BOUND to believe it.'
'Well, sir,' observed the undertaker, deferentially, and in a half-
whisper, leaning over the table, and knocking over the
hairdresser's grog as he spoke, 'that argument's very easy upset.'
'Perhaps, sir,' said Clip, a little flurried, 'you'll pay for the
first upset afore you thinks of another.'
'Now,' said the undertaker, bowing amicably to the hairdresser, 'I
THINK, I says I THINK--you'll excuse me, Mr. Clip, I THINK, you
see, that won't go down with the present company--unfortunately, my
master had the honour of making the coffin of that ere Lord's
housemaid, not no more nor twenty year ago. Don't think I'm proud
on it, gentlemen; others might be; but I hate rank of any sort.
I've no more respect for a Lord's footman than I have for any
respectable tradesman in this room. I may say no more nor I have
for Mr. Clip! (bowing). Therefore, that ere Lord must have been
born long after Pope died. And it's a logical interference to
defer, that they neither of them lived at the same time. So what I
mean is this here, that Pope never had no book, never seed, felt,
never smelt no book (triumphantly) as belonged to that ere Lord.
And, gentlemen, when I consider how patiently you have 'eared the
ideas what I have expressed, I feel bound, as the best way to
reward you for the kindness you have exhibited, to sit down without
saying anything more--partickler as I perceive a worthier visitor
nor myself is just entered. I am not in the habit of paying
compliments, gentlemen; when I do, therefore, I hope I strikes with
'Ah, Mr. Murgatroyd! what's all this about striking with double
force?' said the object of the above remark, as he entered. 'I
never excuse a man's getting into a rage during winter, even when
he's seated so close to the fire as you are. It is very
injudicious to put yourself into such a perspiration. What is the
cause of this extreme physical and mental excitement, sir?'
Such was the very philosophical address of Mr. Robert Bolton, a
shorthand-writer, as he termed himself--a bit of equivoque passing
current among his fraternity, which must give the uninitiated a
vast idea of the establishment of the ministerial organ, while to
the initiated it signifies that no one paper can lay claim to the
enjoyment of their services. Mr. Bolton was a young man, with a
somewhat sickly and very dissipated expression of countenance. His
habiliments were composed of an exquisite union of gentility,
slovenliness, assumption, simplicity, NEWNESS, and old age. Half
of him was dressed for the winter, the other half for the summer.
His hat was of the newest cut, the D'Orsay; his trousers had been
white, but the inroads of mud and ink, etc., had given them a pie-
bald appearance; round his throat he wore a very high black cravat,
of the most tyrannical stiffness; while his tout ensemble was
hidden beneath the enormous folds of an old brown poodle-collared
great-coat, which was closely buttoned up to the aforesaid cravat.
His fingers peeped through the ends of his black kid gloves, and
two of the toes of each foot took a similar view of society through
the extremities of his high-lows. Sacred to the bare walls of his
garret be the mysteries of his interior dress! He was a short,
spare man, of a somewhat inferior deportment. Everybody seemed
influenced by his entry into the room, and his salutation of each
member partook of the patronizing. The hairdresser made way for
him between himself and the stomach. A minute afterwards he had
taken possession of his pint and pipe. A pause in the conversation
took place. Everybody was waiting, anxious for his first
'Horrid murder in Westminster this morning,' observed Mr. Bolton.
Everybody changed their positions. All eyes were fixed upon the
man of paragraphs.
'A baker murdered his son by boiling him in a copper,' said Mr.
'Good heavens!' exclaimed everybody, in simultaneous horror.
'Boiled him, gentlemen!' added Mr. Bolton, with the most effective
emphasis; 'BOILED him!'
'And the particulars, Mr. B.,' inquired the hairdresser, 'the
Mr. Bolton took a very long draught of porter, and some two or
three dozen whiffs of tobacco, doubtless to instil into the
commercial capacities of the company the superiority of a gentlemen
connected with the press, and then said -
'The man was a baker, gentlemen.' (Every one looked at the baker
present, who stared at Bolton.) 'His victim, being his son, also
was necessarily the son of a baker. The wretched murderer had a
wife, whom he was frequently in the habit, while in an intoxicated
state, of kicking, pummelling, flinging mugs at, knocking down, and
half-killing while in bed, by inserting in her mouth a considerable
portion of a sheet or blanket.'
The speaker took another draught, everybody looked at everybody
else, and exclaimed, 'Horrid!'
'It appears in evidence, gentlemen,' continued Mr. Bolton, 'that,
on the evening of yesterday, Sawyer the baker came home in a
reprehensible state of beer. Mrs. S., connubially considerate,
carried him in that condition up-stairs into his chamber, and
consigned him to their mutual couch. In a minute or two she lay
sleeping beside the man whom the morrow's dawn beheld a murderer!'
(Entire silence informed the reporter that his picture had attained
the awful effect he desired.) 'The son came home about an hour
afterwards, opened the door, and went up to bed. Scarcely
(gentlemen, conceive his feelings of alarm), scarcely had he taken
off his indescribables, when shrieks (to his experienced ear
MATERNAL shrieks) scared the silence of surrounding night. He put
his indescribables on again, and ran down-stairs. He opened the
door of the parental bed-chamber. His father was dancing upon his
mother. What must have been his feelings! In the agony of the
minute he rushed at his male parent as he was about to plunge a
knife into the side of his female. The mother shrieked. The
father caught the son (who had wrested the knife from the paternal
grasp) up in his arms, carried him down-stairs, shoved him into a
copper of boiling water among some linen, closed the lid, and
jumped upon the top of it, in which position he was found with a
ferocious countenance by the mother, who arrived in the melancholy
wash-house just as he had so settled himself.
'"Where's my boy?" shrieked the mother.
'"In that copper, boiling," coolly replied the benign father.
'Struck by the awful intelligence, the mother rushed from the
house, and alarmed the neighbourhood. The police entered a minute
afterwards. The father, having bolted the wash-house door, had
bolted himself. They dragged the lifeless body of the boiled baker
from the cauldron, and, with a promptitude commendable in men of
their station, they immediately carried it to the station-house.
Subsequently, the baker was apprehended while seated on the top of
a lamp-post in Parliament Street, lighting his pipe.'
The whole horrible ideality of the Mysteries of Udolpho, condensed
into the pithy effect of a ten-line paragraph, could not possibly
have so affected the narrator's auditory. Silence, the purest and
most noble of all kinds of applause, bore ample testimony to the
barbarity of the baker, as well as to Bolton's knack of narration;
and it was only broken after some minutes had elapsed by
interjectional expressions of the intense indignation of every man
present. The baker wondered how a British baker could so disgrace
himself and the highly honourable calling to which he belonged; and
the others indulged in a variety of wonderments connected with the
subject; among which not the least wonderment was that which was
awakened by the genius and information of Mr. Robert Bolton, who,
after a glowing eulogium on himself, and his unspeakable influence
with the daily press, was proceeding, with a most solemn
countenance, to hear the pros and cons of the Pope autograph
question, when I took up my hat, and left.
FAMILIAR EPISTLE FROM A PARENT TO A CHILD AGED TWO YEARS AND TWO
To recount with what trouble I have brought you up--with what an
anxious eye I have regarded your progress,--how late and how often
I have sat up at night working for you,--and how many thousand
letters I have received from, and written to your various relations
and friends, many of whom have been of a querulous and irritable
turn,--to dwell on the anxiety and tenderness with which I have (as
far as I possessed the power) inspected and chosen your food;
rejecting the indigestible and heavy matter which some injudicious
but well-meaning old ladies would have had you swallow, and
retaining only those light and pleasant articles which I deemed
calculated to keep you free from all gross humours, and to render
you an agreeable child, and one who might be popular with society
in general,--to dilate on the steadiness with which I have
prevented your annoying any company by talking politics--always
assuring you that you would thank me for it yourself some day when
you grew older,--to expatiate, in short, upon my own assiduity as a
parent, is beside my present purpose, though I cannot but
contemplate your fair appearance--your robust health, and unimpeded
circulation (which I take to be the great secret of your good
looks) without the liveliest satisfaction and delight.
It is a trite observation, and one which, young as you are, I have
no doubt you have often heard repeated, that we have fallen upon
strange times, and live in days of constant shiftings and changes.
I had a melancholy instance of this only a week or two since. I
was returning from Manchester to London by the Mail Train, when I
suddenly fell into another train--a mixed train--of reflection,
occasioned by the dejected and disconsolate demeanour of the Post-
Office Guard. We were stopping at some station where they take in
water, when he dismounted slowly from the little box in which he
sits in ghastly mockery of his old condition with pistol and
blunderbuss beside him, ready to shoot the first highwayman (or
railwayman) who shall attempt to stop the horses, which now travel
(when they travel at all) INSIDE and in a portable stable invented
for the purpose,--he dismounted, I say, slowly and sadly, from his
post, and looking mournfully about him as if in dismal recollection
of the old roadside public-house the blazing fire--the glass of
foaming ale--the buxom handmaid and admiring hangers-on of tap-room
and stable, all honoured by his notice; and, retiring a little
apart, stood leaning against a signal-post, surveying the engine
with a look of combined affliction and disgust which no words can
describe. His scarlet coat and golden lace were tarnished with
ignoble smoke; flakes of soot had fallen on his bright green shawl-
-his pride in days of yore--the steam condensed in the tunnel from
which we had just emerged, shone upon his hat like rain. His eye
betokened that he was thinking of the coachman; and as it wandered
to his own seat and his own fast-fading garb, it was plain to see
that he felt his office and himself had alike no business there,
and were nothing but an elaborate practical joke.
As we whirled away, I was led insensibly into an anticipation of
those days to come, when mail-coach guards shall no longer be
judges of horse-flesh--when a mail-coach guard shall never even
have seen a horse--when stations shall have superseded stables, and
corn shall have given place to coke. 'In those dawning times,'
thought I, 'exhibition-rooms shall teem with portraits of Her
Majesty's favourite engine, with boilers after Nature by future
Landseers. Some Amburgh, yet unborn, shall break wild horses by
his magic power; and in the dress of a mail-coach guard exhibit his
TRAINED ANIMALS in a mock mail-coach. Then, shall wondering crowds
observe how that, with the exception of his whip, it is all his
eye; and crowned heads shall see them fed on oats, and stand alone
unmoved and undismayed, while counters flee affrighted when the
Such, my child, were the reflections from which I was only awakened
then, as I am now, by the necessity of attending to matters of
present though minor importance. I offer no apology to you for the
digression, for it brings me very naturally to the subject of
change, which is the very subject of which I desire to treat.
In fact, my child, you have changed hands. Henceforth I resign you
to the guardianship and protection of one of my most intimate and
valued friends, Mr. Ainsworth, with whom, and with you, my best
wishes and warmest feelings will ever remain. I reap no gain or
profit by parting from you, nor will any conveyance of your
property be required, for, in this respect, you have always been
literally 'Bentley's' Miscellany, and never mine.
Unlike the driver of the old Manchester mail, I regard this altered
state of things with feelings of unmingled pleasure and
Unlike the guard of the new Manchester mail, YOUR guard is at home
in his new place, and has roystering highwaymen and gallant
desperadoes ever within call. And if I might compare you, my
child, to an engine; (not a Tory engine, nor a Whig engine, but a
brisk and rapid locomotive;) your friends and patrons to
passengers; and he who now stands towards you in loco parentis as
the skilful engineer and supervisor of the whole, I would humbly
crave leave to postpone the departure of the train on its new and
auspicious course for one brief instant, while, with hat in hand, I
approach side by side with the friend who travelled with me on the
old road, and presume to solicit favour and kindness in behalf of
him and his new charge, both for their sakes and that of the old