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

MR. YELLOWPLUSH’S AJEW.

The end of Mr. Deuceace’s history is going to be the end of my corrispondince. I wish the public was as sory to part with me as I am with the public; becaws I fansy reely that we’ve become frends, and feal for my part a becoming greaf at saying ajew.

It’s imposbill for me to continyow, however, a-writin, as I have done — violetting the rules of authography, and trampling upon the fust princepills of English grammar. When I began, I knew no better: when I’d carrid on these papers a little further, and grew accustmd to writin, I began to smel out somethink quear in my style. Within the last sex weaks I have been learning to spell: and when all the world was rejoicing at the festivvaties of our youthful Quean2 — when all i’s were fixed upon her long sweet of ambasdors and princes, following the splendid carridge of Marshle the Duke of Damlatiar, and blinking at the pearls and dimince of Prince Oystereasy — Yellowplush was in his loanly pantry — HIS eyes were fixt upon the spelling-book — his heart was bent upon mastring the diffickleties of the littery professhn. I have been, in fact, CONVERTID.

2 This was written in 1838.

You shall here how. Ours, you know, is a Wig house; and ever sins his third son has got a place in the Treasury, his secknd a captingsy in the Guards, his fust, the secretary of embasy at Pekin, with a prospick of being appinted ambasdor at Loo Choo — ever sins master’s sons have reseaved these attentions, and master himself has had the promis of a pearitch, he has been the most reglar, consistnt, honrabble Libbaral, in or out of the House of Commins.

Well, being a Whig, it’s the fashn, as you know, to reseave littery pipple; and accordingly, at dinner, tother day, whose name do you think I had to hollar out on the fust landing-place about a wick ago? After several dukes and markises had been enounced, a very gentell fly drives up to our doar, and out steps two gentlemen. One was pail, and wor spektickles, a wig, and a white neckcloth. The other was slim with a hook nose, a pail fase, a small waist, a pare of falling shoulders, a tight coat, and a catarack of black satting tumbling out of his busm, and falling into a gilt velvet weskit. The little genlmn settled his wigg, and pulled out his ribbins; the younger one fluffed the dust of his shoes, looked at his whiskers in a little pockit-glas, settled his crevatt; and they both mounted upstairs.

“What name, sir?” says I, to the old genlmn.

“Name! — a! now, you thief o’ the wurrld,” says he, “do you pretind nat to know ME? Say it’s the Cabinet Cyclopa — no, I mane the Litherary Chran — psha! — bluthanowns! — say it’s DOCTHOR DIOCLESIAN LARNER— I think he’ll know me now — ay, Nid?” But the genlmn called Nid was at the botm of the stare, and pretended to be very busy with his shoo-string. So the little genlmn went upstares alone.

“DOCTOR DIOLESIUS LARNER!” says I.

“DOCTOR ATHANASIUS LARDNER!” says Greville Fitz-Roy, our secknd footman, on the fust landing-place.

“DOCTOR IGNATIUS LOYOLA!” says the groom of the chambers, who pretends to be a scholar; and in the little genlmn went. When safely housed, the other chap came; and when I asked him his name, said, in a thick, gobbling kind of voice:

“Sawedwadgeorgeearllittnbulwig.”

“Sir what?” says I, quite agast at the name.

“Sawedwad — no, I mean MISTAWedwad Lyttn Bulwig.”

My neas trembled under me, my i’s fild with tiers, my voice shook, as I past up the venrabble name to the other footman, and saw this fust of English writers go up to the drawing-room!

It’s needless to mention the names of the rest of the compny, or to dixcribe the suckmstansies of the dinner. Suffiz to say that the two littery genlmn behaved very well, and seamed to have good appytights; igspecially the little Irishman in the whig, who et, drunk, and talked as much as a duzn. He told how he’d been presented at cort by his friend, Mr. Bulwig, and how the Quean had received ’em both, with a dignity undigscribable; and how her blessid Majisty asked what was the bony fidy sale of the Cabinit Cyclopaedy, and how be (Doctor Larner) told her that, on his honner, it was under ten thowsnd.

You may guess that the Doctor, when he made this speach, was pretty far gone. The fact is, that whether it was the coronation, or the goodness of the wine (cappitle it is in our house, I can tell you), or the natral propensaties of the gests assembled, which made them so igspecially jolly, I don’t know; but they had kep up the meating pretty late, and our poar butler was quite tired with the perpechual baskits of clarrit which he’d been called upon to bring up. So that about 11 o’clock, if I were to say they were merry, I should use a mild term; if I wer to say they were intawsicated, I should use a nigspresshn more near to the truth, but less rispeckful in one of my situashn.

The cumpany reseaved this annountsmint with mute extonishment.

“Pray, Doctor Larnder,” says a spiteful genlmn, willing to keep up the littery conversation, “what is the Cabinet Cyclopaedia?”

“It’s the littherary wontherr of the wurrld,” says he; “and sure your lordship must have seen it; the latther numbers ispicially — cheap as durrt, bound in gleezed calico, six shillings a vollum. The illusthrious neems of Walther Scott, Thomas Moore, Docther Southey, Sir James Mackintosh, Docther Donovan, and meself, are to be found in the list of conthributors. It’s the Phaynix of Cyclopajies — a litherary Bacon.”

“A what?” says the genlmn nex to him.

“A Bacon, shining in the darkness of our age; fild wid the pure end lambent flame of science, burning with the gorrgeous scintillations of divine litherature — a monumintum, in fact, are perinnius, bound in pink calico, six shillings a vollum.”

“This wigmawole,” said Mr. Bulwig (who seemed rather disgusted that his friend should take up so much of the convassation), “this wigmawole is all vewy well; but it’s cuwious that you don’t wemember, in chawactewising the litewawy mewits of the vawious magazines, cwonicles, weviews, and encyclopaedias, the existence of a cwitical weview and litewary chwonicle, which, though the aewa of its appeawance is dated only at a vewy few months pwevious to the pwesent pewiod, is, nevertheless, so wemarkable for its intwinsic mewits as to be wead, not in the metwopolis alone, but in the countwy — not in Fwance merely, but in the west of Euwope — whewever our pure Wenglish is spoken, it stwetches its peaceful sceptre — pewused in Amewica, fwom New York to Ningawa — wepwinted in Canada, from Montweal to Towonto — and, as I am gwatified to hear fwom my fwend the governor of Cape Coast Castle, wegularly weceived in Afwica, and twanslated into the Mandingo language by the missionawies and the bushwangers. I need not say, gentlemen — sir — that is, Mr. Speaker — I mean, Sir John — that I allude to the Litewary Chwonicle, of which I have the honor to be pwincipal contwibutor.”

“Very true; my dear Mr. Bullwig,” says my master: “you and I being Whigs, must of course stand by our own friends; and I will agree, without a moment’s hesitation, that the Literary what-d’ye-call’em is the prince of periodicals.”

“The pwince of pewiodicals?” says Bullwig; “my dear Sir John, it’s the empewow of the pwess.”

“Soit — let it be the emperor of the press, as you poetically call it: but, between ourselves, confess it — Do not the Tory writers beat your Whigs hollow? You talk about magazines. Look at —”

“Look at hwat?” shouts out Larder. “There’s none, Sir Jan, compared to ourrs.”

“Pardon me, I think that —”

“It is ‘Bentley’s Mislany’ you mane?” says Ignatius, as sharp as a niddle.

“Why, no; but —”

“O thin, it’s Co’burn, sure! and that divvle Thayodor — a pretty paper, sir, but light — thrashy, milk-and-wathery — not sthrong, like the Litherary Chran — good luck to it.”

“Why, Doctor Lander, I was going to tell at once the name of the periodical, it’s FRASER’S MAGAZINE.”

“FRESER!” says the Doctor. “O thunder and turf!”

“FWASER!” says Bullwig. “O— ah — hum — haw — yes — no — why — that is weally — no, weally, upon my weputation, I never before heard the name of the pewiodical. By the by, Sir John, what wemarkable good clawet this is; is it Lawose or Laff —?”

Laff, indeed! he cooden git beyond laff; and I’m blest if I could kip it neither — for hearing him pretend ignurnts, and being behind the skreend, settlin somethink for the genlmn, I bust into such a raw of laffing as never was igseeded.

“Hullo!” says Bullwig, turning red. “Have I said anything impwobable, aw widiculous? for, weally, I never befaw wecollect to have heard in society such a twemendous peal of cachinnation — that which the twagic bard who fought at Mawathon has called an anewithmon gelasma.”

“Why, be the holy piper,” says Larder, “I think you are dthrawing a little on your imagination. Not read Fraser! Don’t believe him, my lord duke; he reads every word of it, the rogue! The boys about that magazine baste him as if he was a sack of oatmale. My reason for crying out, Sir Jan, was because you mintioned Fraser at all. Bullwig has every syllable of it be heart — from the pailitix down to the ‘Yellowplush Correspondence.’”

“Ha, ha!” says Bullwig, affecting to laff (you may be sure my ears prickt up when I heard the name of the “Yellowplush Correspondence”). “Ha, ha! why, to tell truth, I HAVE wead the cowespondence to which you allude: it’s a gweat favowite at court. I was talking with Spwing Wice and John Wussell about it the other day.”

“Well, and what do you think of it?” says Sir John, looking mity waggish — for he knew it was me who roat it.

“Why, weally and twuly, there’s considewable cleverness about the cweature; but it’s low, disgustingly low: it violates pwabability, and the orthogwaphy is so carefully inaccuwate, that it requires a positive study to compwehend it.”

“Yes, faith,” says Larner; “the arthagraphy is detestible; it’s as bad for a man to write bad spillin as it is for ’em to speak wid a brrogue. Iducation furst, and ganius afterwards. Your health, my lord, and good luck to you.”

“Yaw wemark,” says Bullwig, “is vewy appwopwiate. You will wecollect, Sir John, in Hewodotus (as for you, Doctor, you know more about Iwish than about Gweek) — you will wecollect, without doubt, a stowy nawwated by that cwedulous though fascinating chwonicler, of a certain kind of sheep which is known only in a certain distwict of Awabia, and of which the tail is so enormous, that it either dwaggles on the gwound, or is bound up by the shepherds of the country into a small wheelbawwow, or cart, which makes the chwonicler sneewingly wemark that thus ‘the sheep of Awabia have their own chawiots.’ I have often thought, sir (this clawet is weally nectaweous)— I have often, I say, thought that the wace of man may be compawed to these Awabian sheep — genius is our tail, education our wheelbawwow. Without art and education to pwop it, this genius dwops on the gwound, and is polluted by the mud, or injured by the wocks upon the way: with the wheelbawwow it is stwengthened, incweased, and supported — a pwide to the owner, a blessing to mankind.”

“A very appropriate simile,” says Sir John; “and I am afraid that the genius of our friend Yellowplush has need of some such support.”

“Apropos,” said Bullwig, “who IS Yellowplush? I was given to understand that the name was only a fictitious one, and that the papers were written by the author of the ‘Diary of a Physician;’ if so, the man has wonderfully improved in style, and there is some hope of him.”

“Bah!” says the Duke of Doublejowl; “everybody knows it’s Barnard, the celebrated author of ‘Sam Slick.’”

“Pardon, my dear duke,” says Lord Bagwig; “it’s the authoress of ‘High Life,’ ‘Almack’s,’ and other fashionable novels.”

“Fiddlestick’s end!” says Doctor Larner; “don’t be blushing and pretinding to ask questions; don’t we know you, Bullwig? It’s you yourself, you thief of the world: we smoked you from the very beginning.”

Bullwig was about indignantly to reply, when Sir John interrupted them, and said — “I must correct you all, gentlemen; Mr. Yellowplush is no other than Mr. Yellowplush: he gave you, my dear Bullwig, your last glass of champagne at dinner, and is now an inmate of my house, and an ornament of my kitchen!”

“Gad!” says Doublejowl, “let’s have him up.”

“Hear, hear!” says Bagwig.

“Ah, now,” says Larner, “your grace is not going to call up and talk to a footman, sure? Is it gintale?”

“To say the least of it,” says Bullwig, “the pwactice is iwwegular, and indecowous; and I weally don’t see how the interview can be in any way pwofitable.”

But the vices of the company went against the two littery men, and everybody excep them was for having up poor me. The bell was wrung; butler came. “Send up Charles,” says master; and Charles, who was standing behind the skreand, was persnly abliged to come in.

“Charles,” says master, “I have been telling these gentlemen who is the author of the ‘Yellowplush Correspondence’ in Fraser’s Magazine.”

“It’s the best magazine in Europe,” says the duke.

“And no mistake,” says my lord.

“Hwhat!” says Larner; “and where’s the Litherary Chran?”

I said myself nothink, but made a bough, and blusht like pickle-cabbitch.

“Mr. Yellowplush,” says his grace, “will you, in the first place, drink a glass of wine?”

I boughed agin.

“And what wine do you prefer, sir? humble port or imperial burgundy?”

“Why, your grace,” says I, “I know my place, and ain’t above kitchin wines. I will take a glass of port, and drink it to the health of this honrabble compny.”

When I’d swigged off the bumper, which his grace himself did me the honor to pour out for me, there was a silints for a minnit; when my master said:—

“Charles Yellowplush, I have perused your memoirs in Fraser’s Magazine with so much curiosity, and have so high an opinion of your talents as a writer, that I really cannot keep you as a footman any longer, or allow you to discharge duties for which you are now quite unfit. With all my admiration for your talents, Mr. Yellowplush, I still am confident that many of your friends in the servants’-hall will clean my boots a great deal better than a gentleman of your genius can ever be expected to do — it is for this purpose I employ footmen, and not that they may be writing articles in magazines. But — you need not look so red, my good fellow, and had better take another glass of port — I don’t wish to throw you upon the wide world without the means of a livelihood, and have made interest for a little place which you will have under government, and which will give you an income of eighty pounds per annum; which you can double, I presume, by your literary labors.”

“Sir,” says I, clasping my hands, and busting into tears, “do not — for heaven’s sake, do not! — think of any such think, or drive me from your suvvice, because I have been fool enough to write in magaseens. Glans but one moment at your honor’s plate — every spoon is as bright as a mirror; condysend to igsamine your shoes — your honor may see reflected in them the fases of every one in the company. I blacked them shoes, I cleaned that there plate. If occasionally I’ve forgot the footman in the litterary man, and committed to paper my remindicences of fashnabble life, it was from a sincere desire to do good, and promote nollitch: and I appeal to your honor — I lay my hand on my busm, and in the fase of this noble company beg you to say, When you rung your bell, who came to you fust? When you stopt out at Brooke’s till morning, who sat up for you? When you was ill, who forgot the natral dignities of his station, and answered the two-pair bell? Oh, sir,” says I, “I know what’s what; don’t send me away. I know them littery chaps, and, beleave me, I’d rather be a footman. The work’s not so hard — the pay is better: the vittels incompyrably supearor. I have but to clean my things, and run my errints, and you put clothes on my back, and meat in my mouth. Sir! Mr. Bullwig! an’t I right? shall I quit MY station and sink — that is to say, rise — to YOURS?”

Bullwig was violently affected; a tear stood in his glistening i. “Yellowplush,” says he, seizing my hand, “you ARE right. Quit not your present occupation; black boots, clean knives, wear plush, all your life, but don’t turn literary man. Look at me. I am the first novelist in Europe. I have ranged with eagle wing over the wide regions of literature, and perched on every eminence in its turn. I have gazed with eagle eyes on the sun of philosophy, and fathomed the mysterious depths of the human mind. All languages are familiar to me, all thoughts are known to me, all men understood by me. I have gathered wisdom from the honeyed lips of Plato, as we wandered in the gardens of Acadames — wisdom, too, from the mouth of Job Johnson, as we smoked our ‘backy in Seven Dials. Such must be the studies, and such is the mission, in this world, of the Poet-Philosopher. But the knowledge is only emptiness; the initiation is but misery; the initiated, a man shunned and bann’d by his fellows. Oh,” said Bullwig, clasping his hands, and throwing his fine i’s up to the chandelier, “the curse of Pwometheus descends upon his wace. Wath and punishment pursue them from genewation to genewation! Wo to genius, the heaven-scaler, the fire-stealer! Wo and thrice bitter desolation! Earth is the wock on which Zeus, wemorseless, stwetches his withing victim — men, the vultures that feed and fatten on him. Ai, ai! it is agony eternal — gwoaning and solitawy despair! And you, Yellowplush, would penetwate these mystewies: you would waise the awful veil, and stand in the twemendous Pwesence. Beware; as you value your peace, beware! Withdwaw, wash Neophyte! For heaven’s sake — O for heaven’s sake! —” here he looked round with agony — give me a glass of bwandy-and-water, for this clawet is beginning to disagwee with me.”

Bullwig having concluded this spitch, very much to his own sattasfackshn, looked round to the compny for aplaws, and then swigged off the glass of brandy-and-water, giving a sollum sigh as he took the last gulph; and then Doctor Ignatius, who longed for a chans, and, in order to show his independence, began flatly contradicting his friend, addressed me, and the rest of the genlmn present, in the following manner:—

“Hark ye,” says he, “my gossoon, doan’t be led asthray by the nonsinse of that divil of a Bullwig. He’s jillous of ye, my bhoy: that’s the rale, undoubted thruth; and it’s only to keep you out of litherary life that he’s palavering you in this way. I’ll tell you what — Plush ye blackguard — my honorable frind the mimber there has told me a hunder times by the smallest computation, of his intense admiration of your talents, and the wonderful sthir they were making in the world. He can’t bear a rival. He’s mad with envy, hatred, oncharatableness. Look at him, Plush, and look at me. My father was not a juke exactly, nor aven a markis, and see, nevertheliss, to what a pitch I am come. I spare no ixpinse; I’m the iditor of a cople of pariodicals; I dthrive about in me carridge: I dine wid the lords of the land; and why — in the name of the piper that pleed before Mosus, hwy? Because I’m a litherary man. Because I know how to play me cards. Because I’m Docther Larner, in fact, and mimber of every society in and out of Europe. I might have remained all my life in Thrinity Colledge, and never made such an incom as that offered you by Sir Jan; but I came to London — to London, my boy, and now see! Look again at me friend Bullwig. He IS a gentleman, to be sure, and bad luck to ’im, say I; and what has been the result of his litherary labor? I’ll tell you what; and I’ll tell this gintale society, by the shade of Saint Patrick, they’re going to make him a BARINET.”

“A BARNET, Doctor!” says I; “you don’t mean to say they’re going to make him a barnet!”

“As sure as I’ve made meself a docthor,” says Larner.

“What, a baronet, like Sir John?”

“The divle a bit else.”

“And pray what for?”

“What faw?” says Bullwig. “Ask the histowy of litwatuwe what faw? Ask Colburn, ask Bentley, ask Saunders and Otley, ask the gweat Bwitish nation, what faw? The blood in my veins comes puwified thwough ten thousand years of chivalwous ancestwy; but that is neither here nor there: my political principles — the equal wights which I have advocated — the gweat cause of fweedom that I have celebwated, are known to all. But this, I confess, has nothing to do with the question. No, the question is this — on the thwone of litewature I stand unwivalled, pwe-eminent; and the Bwitish government, honowing genius in me, compliments the Bwitish nation by lifting into the bosom of the heweditawy nobility, the most gifted member of the democwacy.” (The honrabble genlm here sunk down amidst repeated cheers.)

“Sir John,” says I, “and my lord duke, the words of my rivrint frend Ignatius, and the remarks of the honrabble genlmn who has just sate down, have made me change the detummination which I had the honor of igspressing just now.

“I igsept the eighty pound a year; knowing that I shall ave plenty of time for pursuing my littery career, and hoping some day to set on that same bentch of barranites, which is deckarated by the presnts of my honrabble friend.

“Why shooden I? It’s trew I ain’t done anythink as YET to deserve such an honor; and it’s very probable that I never shall. But what then? — quaw dong, as our friends say? I’d much rayther have a coat-of-arms than a coat of livry. I’d much rayther have my blud-red hand spralink in the middle of a shield, than underneath a tea — tray. A barranit I will be; and, in consiquints, must cease to be a footmin.

“As to my politticle princepills, these, I confess, ain’t settled: they are, I know, necessary; but they ain’t necessary UNTIL ASKT FOR; besides, I reglar read the Sattarist newspaper, and so ignirince on this pint would be inigscusable.

“But if one man can git to be a doctor, and another a barranit, and another a capting in the navy, and another a countess, and another the wife of a governor of the Cape of Good Hope, I begin to perseave that the littery trade ain’t such a very bad un; igspecially if you’re up to snough, and know what’s o’clock. I’ll learn to make myself usefle, in the fust place; then I’ll larn to spell; and, I trust, by reading the novvles of the honrabble member, and the scientafick treatiseses of the reverend doctor, I may find the secrit of suxess, and git a litell for my own share. I’ve sevral frends in the press, having paid for many of those chaps’ drink, and given them other treets; and so I think I’ve got all the emilents of suxess; therefore, I am detummined, as I said, to igsept your kind offer, and beg to withdraw the wuds which I made yous of when I refyoused your hoxpatable offer. I must, however —”

“I wish you’d withdraw yourself,” said Sir John, bursting into a most igstrorinary rage, “and not interrupt the company with your infernal talk! Go down, and get us coffee: and, hark ye! hold your impertinent tongue, or I’ll break every bone in your body. You shall have the place as I said; and while you’re in my service, you shall be my servant; but you don’t stay in my service after tomorrow. Go down stairs, sir; and don’t stand staring here!”

. . . . . .

In this abrupt way, my evening ended; it’s with a melancholy regret that I think what came of it. I don’t wear plush any more. I am an altered, a wiser, and, I trust, a better man.

I’m about a novvle (having made great progriss in spelling), in the style of my friend Bullwig; and preparing for publigation, in the Doctor’s Cyclopedear, “The Lives of Eminent British and Foring Wosherwomen.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/thackeray/william_makepeace/yellow/chapter5.html

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