Mrs. Perkin's Ball, by William Makepeace Thackeray

Everybody Begins to Come, But Especially Mr. Minchin.

MR. FREDERICK MINCHIN

“It’s only me and my sisters,” Master Bacon said; though “only” meant eight in this instance. All the young ladies had fresh cheeks and purple elbows; all had white frocks, with hair more or less auburn: and so a party was already made of this blooming and numerous family, before the rest of the company began to arrive. The three Miss Meggots next came in their fly: Mr. Blades and his niece from 19 in the square: Captain and Mrs. Struther, and Miss Struther: Doctor Toddy’s two daughters and their mamma: but where were the gentlemen? The Mulligan, great and active as he was, could not suffice among so many beauties. At last came a brisk neat little knock, and looking into the hall, I saw a gentleman taking off his clogs there, whilst Sir Giles Bacon’s big footman was looking on with rather a contemptuous air.

“What name shall I enounce?” says he, with a wink at Gregory on the stair.

The gentleman in clogs said, with quiet dignity —

MR. FREDERICK MINCHIN.

“Pump Court, Temple,” is printed on his cards in very small type: and he is a rising barrister of the Western Circuit. He is to be found at home of mornings: afterwards “at Westminster,” as you read on his back door. “Binks and Minchin’s Reports” are probably known to my legal friends: this is the Minchin in question.

He is decidedly genteel, and is rather in request at the balls of the Judges’ and Serjeants’ ladies: for he dances irreproachably, and goes out to dinner as much as ever he can.

He mostly dines at the Oxford and Cambridge Club, of which you can easily see by his appearance that he is a member; he takes the joint and his half-pint of wine, for Minchin does everything like a gentleman. He is rather of a literary turn; still makes Latin verses with some neatness; and before he was called, was remarkably fond of the flute.

When Mr. Minchin goes out in the evening, his clerk brings his bag to the Club, to dress; and if it is at all muddy, he turns up his trousers, so that he may come in without a speck. For such a party as this, he will have new gloves; otherwise Frederick, his clerk, is chiefly employed in cleaning them with India-rubber.

He has a number of pleasant stories about the Circuit and the University, which he tells with a simper to his neighbor at dinner; and has always the last joke of Mr. Baron Maule. He has a private fortune of five thousand pounds; he is a dutiful son; he has a sister married, in Harley Street; and Lady Jane Ranville has the best opinion of him, and says he is a most excellent and highly principled young man.

Her ladyship and daughter arrived just as Mr. Minchin had popped his clogs into the umbrella-stand; and the rank of that respected person, and the dignified manner in which he led her up stairs, caused all sneering on the part of the domestics to disappear.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 19:07