The Memoirs of Mr. Charles J. Yellowplush, by William Makepeace Thackeray

FORING PARTS.

It was a singular proof of my master’s modesty, that though he had won this andsome sum of Mr. Dawkins, and was inclined to be as extravygant and osntatious as any man I ever seed, yet, when he determined on going to Paris, he didn’t let a single frend know of all them winnings of his; didn’t acquaint my Lord Crabs his father, that he was about to leave his natiff shoars — neigh — didn’t even so much as call together his tradesmin, and pay off their little bills befor his departure.

On the contry, “Chawles,” said he to me, “stick a piece of paper on my door,” which is the way that lawyers do, “and write ‘Back at seven’ upon it.” Back at seven I wrote, and stuck it on our outer oak. And so mistearus was Deuceace about his continental tour (to all except me), that when the landriss brought him her account for the last month (amountain, at the very least, to 2L. 10s.), master told her to leave it till Monday morning, when it should be properly settled. It’s extrodny how ickonomical a man becomes, when he’s got five thousand lbs. in his pockit.

Back at 7 indeed! At 7 we were a-roalin on the Dover Road, in the Reglator Coach — master inside, me out. A strange company of people there was, too, in that wehicle — 3 sailors; an Italyin with his music-box and munky; a missionary, going to convert the heathens in France; 2 oppra girls (they call ’em figure-aunts), and the figure-aunts’ mothers inside; 4 Frenchmin, with gingybred caps and mustashes, singing, chattering, and jesticklating in the most vonderful vay. Such compliments as passed between them and the figure-aunts! such a munshin of biskits and sippin of brandy! such “O mong Jews,” and “O sacrrres,” and “kill fay frwaws!” I didn’t understand their languidge at that time, so of course can’t igsplain much of their conwersation; but it pleased me, nevertheless, for now I felt that I was reely going into foring parts: which, ever sins I had had any edication at all, was always my fondest wish. Heavin bless us! thought I, if these are specimeens of all Frenchmen, what a set they must be. The pore Italyin’s monky, sittin mopin and meluncolly on his box, was not half so ugly, and seamed quite as reasonabble.

Well, we arrived at Dover —“Ship Hotel” weal cutlets half a ginny, glas of ale a shilling, glas of neagush, half a crownd, a hapnyworth of wax-lites four shillings, and so on. But master paid without grumbling; as long as it was for himself he never minded the expens: and nex day we embarked in the packit for Balong sir-mare — which means in French, the town of Balong sityouated on the sea. I who had heard of foring wonders, expected this to be the fust and greatest: phansy, then, my disapintment, when we got there, to find this Balong, not situated on the sea, but on the SHOAR.

But oh! the gettin there was the bisniss. How I did wish for Pump Court agin, as we were tawsing abowt in the Channel! Gentle reader, av you ever been on the otion? —“The sea, the sea, the open sea!” as Barry Cromwell says. As soon as we entered our little wessel, and I’d looked to master’s luggitch and mine (mine was rapt up in a very small hankercher), as soon, I say, as we entered our little wessel, as soon as I saw the waives, black and frothy, like fresh drawn porter, a-dashin against the ribs of our galliant bark, the keal like a wedge, splittin the billoes in two, the sales a-flaffin in the hair, the standard of Hengland floating at the mask — head, the steward a-getting ready the basins and things, the capting proudly tredding the deck and giving orders to the salers, the white rox of Albany and the bathin-masheens disappearing in the distans — then, then I felt, for the first time, the mite, the madgisty of existence. Yellowplush my boy,” said I, in a dialogue with myself, “your life is now about to commens — your carear, as a man, dates from your entrans on board this packit. Be wise, be manly, be cautious, forgit the follies of your youth. You are no longer a boy now, but a FOOTMAN. Throw down your tops, your marbles, your boyish games — throw off your childish habbits with your inky clerk’s jackit — throw up your —”

. . . . . .

Here, I recklect, I was obleeged to stopp. A fealin, in the fust place singlar, in the next place painful, and at last compleatly overpowering, had come upon me while I was making the abuff speach, and now I found myself in a sityouation which Dellixy for Bids me to describe. Suffis to say, that now I dixcovered what basins was made for — that for many, many hours, I lay in a hagony of exostion, dead to all intense and porpuses, the rain pattering in my face, the salers tramplink over my body — the panes of purgatory going on inside. When we’d been about four hours in this sityouation (it seam’d to me four ears), the steward comes to that part of the deck where we servants were all huddled up together, and calls out “Charles!”

“Well,” says I, gurgling out a faint “yes, what’s the matter?”

“You’re wanted.”

“Where?”

“Your master’s wery ill,” says he, with a grin.

“Master be hanged!” says I, turning round, more misrable than ever. I woodn’t have moved that day for twenty thousand masters — no, not for the Empror of Russia or the Pop of Room.

Well, to cut this sad subjik short, many and many a voyitch have I sins had upon what Shakspur calls the “wasty dip,” but never such a retched one as that from Dover to Balong, in the year Anna Domino 1818. Steemers were scarce in those days; and our journey was made in a smack. At last, when I was in a stage of despare and exostion, as reely to phansy myself at Death’s doar, we got to the end of our journey. Late in the evening we hailed the Gaelic shoars, and hankered in the arbor of Balong sir-mare.

It was the entrans of Parrowdice to me and master: and as we entered the calm water, and saw the comfrabble lights gleaming in the houses, and felt the roal of the vessel degreasing, never was two mortials gladder, I warrant, than we were. At length our capting drew up at the key, and our journey was down. But such a bustle and clatter, such jabbering, such shrieking and swaring, such wollies of oafs and axicrations as saluted us on landing, I never knew! We were boarded, in the fust place, by custom-house officers in cock-hats, who seased our luggitch, and called for our passpots: then a crowd of inn-waiters came, tumbling and screaming on deck —“Dis way, sare,” cries one; “Hotel Meurice,” says another; “Hotel de Bang,” screeches another chap — the tower of Babyle was nothink to it. The fust thing that struck me on landing was a big fellow with ear-rings, who very nigh knock me down, in wrenching master’s carpet-bag out of my hand, as I was carrying it to the hotell. But we got to it safe at last; and, for the fust time in my life, I slep in a foring country.

I shan’t describe this town of Balong, which, as it has been visited by not less (on an avaridg) than two milliums of English since I fust saw it twenty years ago, is tolrabbly well known already. It’s a dingy melumcolly place, to my mind; the only thing moving in the streets is the gutter which runs down ’em. As for wooden shoes, I saw few of ’em; and for frogs, upon my honor I never see a single Frenchman swallow one, which I had been led to beleave was their reg’lar, though beastly, custom. One thing which amazed me was the singlar name which they give to this town of Balong. It’s divided, as every boddy knows, into an upper town (sitouate on a mounting, and surrounded by a wall, or bullyvar) and a lower town, which is on the level of the sea. Well, will it be believed that they call the upper town the Hot Veal, and the other the Base Veal, which is on the contry, genrally good in France, though the beaf, it must be confest, is excrabble.

It was in the Base Veal that Deuceace took his lodgian, at the Hotel de Bang, in a very crooked street called the Rue del Ascew; and if he’d been the Archbishop of Devonshire, or the Duke of Canterbury, he could not have given himself greater hairs, I can tell you. Nothink was too fine for us now; we had a sweet of rooms on the first floor, which belonged to the prime minister of France (at least the landlord said they were the premier’s); and the Hon. Algernon Percy Deuceace, who had not paid his landriss, and came to Dover in a coach, seamed now to think that goold was too vulgar for him, and a carridge and six would break down with a man of his weight. Shampang flew about like ginger-pop, besides bordo, clarit, burgundy, burgong, and other wines, and all the delixes of the Balong kitchins. We stopped a fortnit at this dull place, and did nothing from morning till night excep walk on the bench, and watch the ships going in and out of arber, with one of them long, sliding opra-glasses, which they call, I don’t know why, tallow-scoops. Our amusements for the fortnit we stopped here were boath numerous and daliteful; nothink, in fact, could be more pickong, as they say. In the morning before breakfast we boath walked on the Peer; master in a blue mareen jackit, and me in a slap-up new livry; both provided with long sliding opra-glasses, called as I said (I don’t know Y, but I suppose it’s a scientafick term) tallow-scoops. With these we igsamined, very attentively, the otion, the sea-weed, the pebbles, the dead cats, the fishwimmin, and the waives (like little children playing at leap-frog), which came tumblin over 1 another on to the shoar. It seemed to me as if they were scrambling to get there, as well they might, being sick of the sea, and anxious for the blessid, peaceable terry firmy.

After brexfast, down we went again (that is, master on his beat, and me on mine — for my place in this foring town was a complete shinycure), and putting our tally-scoops again in our eyes, we egsamined a little more the otion, pebbils, dead cats, and so on; and this lasted till dinner, and dinner till bedtime, and bedtime lasted till nex day, when came brexfast, and dinner, and tally-scooping, as before. This is the way with all people of this town, of which, as I’ve heard say, there is ten thousand happy English, who lead this plesnt life from year’s end to year’s end.

Besides this, there’s billiards and gambling for the gentlemen, a little dancing for the gals, and scandle for the dowygers. In none of these amusements did we partake. We were a LITTLE too good to play crown pints at cards, and never get paid when we won; or to go dangling after the portionless gals, or amuse ourselves with slops and penny-wist along with the old ladies. No, no; my master was a man of fortn now, and behayved himself as sich. If ever he condysended to go into the public room of the Hotel de Bang — the French (doubtless for reasons best known to themselves) call this a sallymanjy — he swoar more and lowder than any one there; he abyoused the waiters, the wittles, the wines. With his glas in his i, he staired at every body. He took always the place before the fire. He talked about “my carridge,” “my currier,” “my servant;” and he did wright. I’ve always found through life, that if you wish to be respected by English people, you must be insalent to them, especially if you are a sprig of nobiliaty. We LIKE being insulted by noblemen — it shows they’re familiar with us. Law bless us! I’ve known many and many a genlmn about town who’d rather be kicked by a lord than not be noticed by him; they’ve even had an aw of ME, because I was a lord’s footman. While my master was hectoring in the parlor, at Balong, pretious airs I gave myself in the kitching, I can tell you; and the consequints was, that we were better served, and moar liked, than many pipple with twice our merit.

Deuceace had some particklar plans, no doubt, which kep him so long at Balong; and it clearly was his wish to act the man of fortune there for a little time before he tried the character of Paris. He purchased a carridge, he hired a currier, he rigged me in a fine new livry blazin with lace, and he past through the Balong bank a thousand pounds of the money he had won from Dawkins, to his credit at a Paris house; showing the Balong bankers at the same time, that he’d plenty moar in his potfolie. This was killin two birds with one stone; the bankers’ clerks spread the nuse over the town, and in a day after master had paid the money every old dowyger in Balong had looked out the Crabs’ family podigree in the Peeridge, and was quite intimate with the Deuceace name and estates. If Sattn himself were a lord, I do beleave there’s many vurtuous English mothers would be glad to have him for a son-inlaw.

Now, though my master had thought fitt to leave town without excommunicating with his father on the subject of his intended continental tripe, as soon as he was settled at Balong he roat my Lord Crabbs a letter, of which I happen to have a copy. It ran thus:—

“BOULOGNE, January 25.

“MY DEAR FATHER — I have long, in the course of my legal studies, found the necessity of a knowledge of French, in which language all the early history of our profession is written, and have determined to take a little relaxation from chamber reading, which has seriously injured my health. If my modest finances can bear a two months’ journey, and a residence at Paris, I propose to remain there that period.

“Will you have the kindness to send me a letter of introduction to Lord Bobtail, our ambassador? My name, and your old friendship with him, I know would secure me a reception at his house; but a pressing letter from yourself would at once be more courteous, and more effectual.

“May I also ask you for my last quarter’s salary? I am not an expensive man, my dear father, as you know; but we are no chameleons, and fifty pounds (with my little earnings in my profession) would vastly add to the agremens of my continental excursion.

“Present my love to all my brothers and sisters. Ah! how I wish the hard portion of a younger son had not been mine, and that I could live without the dire necessity for labor, happy among the rural scenes of my childhood, and in the society of my dear sisters and you! Heaven bless you, dearest father, and all those beloved ones now dwelling under the dear old roof at Sizes.

“Ever your affectionate son,

“Algernon.

“THE RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF CRABS, &c.,

SIZES COURT, BUCKS.”

To this affeckshnat letter his lordship replied, by return of poast, as follos:—

“MY DEAR ALGERNON — Your letter came safe to hand and I enclose you the letter for Lord Bobtail as you desire. He is a kind man, and has one of the best cooks in Europe.

“We were all charmed with your warm remembrances of us, not having seen you for seven years. We cannot but be pleased at the family affection which, in spite of time and absence, still clings so fondly to home. It is a sad, selfish world, and very few who have entered it can afford to keep those fresh feelings which you have, my dear son.

“May you long retain them, is a fond father’s earnest prayer. Be sure, dear Algernon, that they will be through life your greatest comfort, as well as your best worldly ally; consoling you in misfortune, cheering you in depression, aiding and inspiring you to exertion and success.

“I am sorry, truly sorry, that my account at Coutts’s is so low, just now, as to render a payment of your allowance for the present impossible. I see by my book that I owe you now nine quarters, or 450L. Depend on it, my dear boy, that they shall be faithfully paid over to you on the first opportunity.

“By the way, I have enclosed some extracts from the newspapers, which may interest you: and have received a very strange letter from a Mr. Blewitt, about a play transaction, which, I suppose, is the case alluded to in these prints. He says you won 4700L. from one Dawkins: that the lad paid it; that he, Blewitt, was to go what he calls ‘snacks’ in the winning; but that you refused to share the booty. How can you, my dear boy, quarrel with these vulgar people, or lay yourself in any way open to their attacks? I have played myself a good deal, and there is no man living who can accuse me of a doubtful act. You should either have shot this Blewitt or paid him. Now, as the matter stands, it is too late to do the former; and, perhaps, it would be Quixotic to perform the latter. My dearest boy! recollect through life that YOU NEVER CAN AFFORD TO BE DISHONEST WITH A ROQUE. Four thousand seven hundred pounds was a great coup, to be sure.

“As you are now in such high feather, can you, dearest Algernon! lend me five hundred pounds? Upon my soul and honor, I will repay you. Your brothers and sisters send you their love. I need not add, that you have always the blessings of your affectionate father,

“CRABS.”

“P.S. — Make it 500, and I will give you my note-of-hand for a thousand.”

. . . . . .

I needn’t say that this did not QUITE enter into Deuceace’s eyedears. Lend his father 500 pound, indeed! He’d as soon have lent him a box on the year! In the fust place, he hadn seen old Crabs for seven years, as that nobleman remarked in his epistol; in the secknd he hated him, and they hated each other; and nex, if master had loved his father ever so much, he loved somebody else better — his father’s son, namely: and sooner than deprive that exlent young man of a penny, he’d have sean all the fathers in the world hangin at Newgat, and all the “beloved ones,” as he called his sisters, the Lady Deuceacisses, so many convix at Bottomy Bay.

The newspaper parrografs showed that, however secret WE wished to keep the play transaction, the public knew it now full well. Blewitt, as I found after, was the author of the libels which appeared right and left:

“GAMBLING IN HIGH LIFE— the HONORABLE Mr. D— c — ce again! — This celebrated whist-player has turned his accomplishments to some profit. On Friday, the 16th January, he won five thousand pounds from a VERY young gentleman, Th-m-s Sm-th D-wk-ns, Esq., and lost two thousand five hundred to R. Bl-w-tt, Esq., of the T-mple. Mr. D. very honorably paid the sum lost by him to the honorable whist-player, but we have not heard that, BEFORE HIS SUDDEN TRIP TO PARIS, Mr. D— uc — ce paid HIS losings to Mr. Bl-w-tt.”

Nex came a “Notice to Corryspondents:”

“Fair Play asks us, if we know of the gambling doings of the notorious Deuceace? We answer, WE DO; and, in our very next Number, propose to make some of them public.”

. . . . . .

They didn’t appear, however; but, on the contry, the very same newspeper, which had been before so abusiff of Deuceace, was now loud in his praise. It said:—

“A paragraph was inadvertently admitted into our paper of last week, most unjustly assailing the character of a gentleman of high birth and talents, the son of the exemplary E-rl of Cr-bs. We repel, with scorn and indignation, the dastardly falsehoods of the malignant slanderer who vilified Mr. De — ce-ce, and beg to offer that gentleman the only reparation in our power for having thus tampered with his unsullied name. We disbelieve the RUFFIAN and HIS STORY, and most sincerely regret that such a tale, or SUCH A WRITER, should ever have been brought forward to the readers of this paper.”

This was satisfactory, and no mistake: and much pleased we were at the denial of this conshentious editor. So much pleased that master sent him a ten-pound noat, and his complymints. He’d sent another to the same address, BEFORE this parrowgraff was printed; WHY, I can’t think: for I woodn’t suppose any thing musnary in a littery man.

Well, after this bisniss was concluded, the currier hired, the carridge smartened a little, and me set up in my new livries, we bade ojew to Bulong in the grandest state posbill. What a figure we cut! and, my i, what a figger the postillion cut! A cock-hat, a jackit made out of a cow’s skin (it was in cold weather), a pig-tale about 3 fit in length, and a pair of boots! Oh, sich a pare! A bishop might almost have preached out of one, or a modrat-sized famly slep in it. Me and Mr. Schwigshhnaps, the currier, sate behind in the rumbill; master aloan in the inside, as grand as a Turk, and rapt up in his fine fir-cloak. Off we sett, bowing gracefly to the crowd; the harniss-bells jinglin, the great white hosses snortin, kickin, and squeelin, and the postilium cracking his wip, as loud as if he’d been drivin her majesty the quean.

. . . . . .

Well, I shan’t describe our voyitch. We passed sefral sitties, willitches, and metrappolishes; sleeping the fust night at Amiens, witch, as everyboddy knows, is famous ever since the year 1802 for what’s called the Pease of Amiens. We had some, very good, done with sugar and brown sos, in the Amiens way. But after all the boasting about them, I think I like our marrowphats better.

Speaking of wedgytables, another singler axdent happened here concarning them. Master, who was brexfasting before going away, told me to go and get him his fur travling-shoes. I went and toald the waiter of the inn, who stared, grinned (as these chaps always do), said “Bong” (which means, very well), and presently came back.

I’M BLEST IF HE DIDN’T BRING MASTER A PLATE OF CABBITCH! Would you bleave it, that now, in the nineteenth sentry, when they say there’s schoolmasters abroad, these stewpid French jackasses are so extonishingly ignorant as to call a CABBIDGE a SHOO! Never, never let it be said, after this, that these benighted, souperstitious, misrabble SAVIDGES, are equill, in any respex, to the great Brittish people. The moor I travvle, the moor I see of the world, and other natiums, I am proud of my own, and despise and deplore the retchid ignorance of the rest of Yourup.

. . . . . .

My remarks on Parris you shall have by an early opportunity. Me and Deuceace played some curious pranx there, I can tell you.

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