First published as Barber Cox and the Cutting of his Comb in Cruikshank’s Comic Annual, 1840. Reprinted as Cox’s Diary, in Miscellanies, vol. I, 1855.
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On the 1st of January, 1838, I was the master of a lovely shop in the neighborhood of Oxford Market; of a wife, Mrs. Cox; of a business, both in the shaving and cutting line, established three-and-thirty years; of a girl and boy respectively of the ages of eighteen and thirteen; of a three-windowed front, both to my first and second pair; of a young foreman, my present partner, Mr. Orlando Crump; and of that celebrated mixture for the human hair, invented by my late uncle, and called Cox’s Bohemian Balsam of Tokay, sold in pots at two-and-three and three-and-nine. The balsam, the lodgings, and the old-established cutting and shaving business brought me in a pretty genteel income. I had my girl, Jemimarann, at Hackney, to school; my dear boy, Tuggeridge, plaited her hair beautifully; my wife at the counter (behind the tray of patent soaps, &c.) cut as handsome a figure as possible; and it was my hope that Orlando and my girl, who were mighty soft upon one another, would one day be joined together in Hyming, and, conjointly with my son Tug, carry on the business of hairdressers when their father was either dead or a gentleman: for a gentleman me and Mrs. C. determined I should be.
Jemima was, you see, a lady herself, and of very high connections: though her own family had met with crosses, and was rather low. Mr. Tuggeridge, her father, kept the famous tripe-shop near the “Pigtail and Sparrow,” in the Whitechapel Road; from which place I married her; being myself very fond of the article, and especially when she served it to me — the dear thing!
Jemima’s father was not successful in business: and I married her, I am proud to confess it, without a shilling. I had my hands, my house, and my Bohemian balsam to support her! — and we had hopes from her uncle, a mighty rich East India merchant, who, having left this country sixty years ago as a cabin-boy, had arrived to be the head of a great house in India, and was worth millions, we were told.
Three years after Jemimarann’s birth (and two after the death of my lamented father-inlaw), Tuggeridge (head of the great house of Budgurow and Co.) retired from the management of it; handed over his shares to his son, Mr. John Tuggeridge, and came to live in England, at Portland Place, and Tuggeridgeville, Surrey, and enjoy himself. Soon after, my wife took her daughter in her hand and went, as in duty bound, to visit her uncle: but whether it was that he was proud and surly, or she somewhat sharp in her way, (the dear girl fears nobody, let me have you to know,) a desperate quarrel took place between them; and from that day to the day of his death, he never set eyes on her. All that he would condescend to do, was to take a few dozen of lavender-water from us in the course of the year, and to send his servants to be cut and shaved by us. All the neighbors laughed at this poor ending of our expectations, for Jemmy had bragged not a little; however, we did not care, for the connection was always a good one, and we served Mr. Hock, the valet; Mr. Bar, the coachman; and Mrs. Breadbasket, the housekeeper, willingly enough. I used to powder the footman, too, on great days, but never in my life saw old Tuggeridge, except once: when he said “Oh, the barber!” tossed up his nose, and passed on.
One day — one famous day last January — all our Market was thrown into a high state of excitement by the appearance of no less than three vehicles at our establishment. As me, Jemmy, my daughter, Tug, and Orlando, were sitting in the back-parlor over our dinner (it being Christmas-time, Mr. Crump had treated the ladies to a bottle of port, and was longing that there should be a mistletoe-bough: at which proposal my little Jemimarann looked as red as a glass of negus):— we had just, I say, finished the port, when, all of a sudden, Tug bellows out, “La, Pa, here’s uncle Tuggeridge’s housekeeper in a cab!”
And Mrs. Breadbasket it was, sure enough — Mrs. Breadbasket in deep mourning, who made her way, bowing and looking very sad, into the back shop. My wife, who respected Mrs. B. more than anything else in the world, set her a chair, offered her a glass of wine, and vowed it was very kind of her to come. “La, mem,” says Mrs. B., “I’m sure I’d do anything to serve your family, for the sake of that poor dear Tuck-Tuck-tug-guggeridge, that’s gone.”
“That’s what?” cries my wife.
“What, gone?” cried Jemimarann, bursting out crying (as little girls will about anything or nothing); and Orlando looking very rueful, and ready to cry too.
“Yes, gaw —” Just as she was at this very “gaw” Tug roars out, “La, Pa! here’s Mr. Bar, uncle Tug’s coachman!”
It was Mr. Bar. When she saw him, Mrs. Breadbasket stepped suddenly back into the parlor with my ladies. “What is it, Mr. Bar?” says I; and as quick as thought, I had the towel under his chin, Mr. Bar in the chair, and the whole of his face in a beautiful foam of lather. Mr. Bar made some resistance. —“Don’t think of it, Mr. Cox,” says he; “don’t trouble yourself, sir.” But I lathered away and never minded. “And what’s this melancholy event, sir,” says I, “that has spread desolation in your family’s bosoms? I can feel for your loss, sir — I can feel for your loss.”
I said so out of politeness, because I served the family, not because Tuggeridge was my uncle — no, as such I disown him.
Mr. Bar was just about to speak. “Yes, sir,” says he, “my master’s gaw —” when at the “gaw” in walks Mr. Hock, the own man! — the finest gentleman I ever saw.
“What, YOU here, Mr. Bar!” says he.
“Yes, I am, sir; and haven’t I a right, sir?”
“A mighty wet day, sir,” says I to Mr. Hock — stepping up and making my bow. “A sad circumstance too, sir! And is it a turn of the tongs that you want today, sir? Ho, there, Mr. Crump!”
“Turn, Mr. Crump, if you please, sir,” said Mr. Hock, making a bow: “but from you, sir, never — no, never, split me! — and I wonder how some fellows can have the INSOLENCE to allow their MASTERS to shave them!” With this, Mr. Hock flung himself down to be curled: Mr. Bar suddenly opened his mouth in order to reply; but seeing there was a tiff between the gentlemen, and wanting to prevent a quarrel, I rammed the Advertiser into Mr. Hock’s hands, and just popped my shaving-brush into Mr. Bar’s mouth — a capital way to stop angry answers.
Mr. Bar had hardly been in the chair one second, when whir comes a hackney-coach to the door, from which springs a gentleman in a black coat with a bag.
“What, you here!” says the gentleman. I could not help smiling, for it seemed that everybody was to begin by saying, “What, YOU here!” “Your name is Cox, sir?” says he; smiling too, as the very pattern of mine. “My name, sir, is Sharpus — Blunt, Hone and Sharpus, Middle Temple Lane — and I am proud to salute you, sir; happy — that is to say, sorry to say that Mr. Tuggeridge, of Portland Place, is dead, and your lady is heiress, in consequence, to one of the handsomest properties in the kingdom.”
At this I started, and might have sunk to the ground, but for my hold of Mr. Bar’s nose; Orlando seemed putrified to stone, with his irons fixed to Mr. Hock’s head; our respective patients gave a wince out:— Mrs. C., Jemimarann, and Tug, rushed from the back shop, and we formed a splendid tableau such as the great Cruikshank might have depicted.
“And Mr. John Tuggeridge, sir?” says I.
“Why — hee, hee, hee!” says Mr. Sharpus. “Surely you know that he was only the — hee, hee, hee! — the natural son!”
You now can understand why the servants from Portland Place had been so eager to come to us. One of the house-maids heard Mr. Sharpus say there was no will, and that my wife was heir to the property, and not Mr. John Tuggeridge: this she told in the housekeeper’s room; and off, as soon as they heard it, the whole party set, in order to be the first to bear the news.
We kept them, every one in their old places; for, though my wife would have sent them about their business, my dear Jemimarann just hinted, “Mamma, you know THEY have been used to great houses, and we have not; had we not better keep them for a little?”— Keep them, then, we did, to show us how to be gentlefolks.
I handed over the business to Mr. Crump without a single farthing of premium, though Jemmy would have made me take four hundred pounds for it; but this I was above: Crump had served me faithfully, and have the shop he should.
We were speedily installed in our fine house: but what’s a house without friends? Jemmy made me CUT all my old acquaintances in the Market, and I was a solitary being; when, luckily, an old acquaintance of ours, Captain Tagrag, was so kind as to promise to introduce us into distinguished society. Tagrag was the son of a baronet, and had done us the honor of lodging with us for two years; when we lost sight of him, and of his little account, too, by the way. A fortnight after, hearing of our good fortune, he was among us again, however; and Jemmy was not a little glad to see him, knowing him to be a baronet’s son, and very fond of our Jemimarann. Indeed, Orlando (who is as brave as a lion) had on one occasion absolutely beaten Mr. Tagrag for being rude to the poor girl: a clear proof, as Tagrag said afterwards, that he was always fond of her.
Mr. Crump, poor fellow, was not very much pleased by our good fortune, though he did all he could to try at first; and I told him to come and take his dinner regular, as if nothing had happened. But to this Jemima very soon put a stop, for she came very justly to know her stature, and to look down on Crump, which she bid her daughter to do; and, after a great scene, in which Orlando showed himself very rude and angry, he was forbidden the house — for ever!
So much for poor Crump. The Captain was now all in all with us. “You see, sir,” our Jemmy would say, “we shall have our town and country mansion, and a hundred and thirty thousand pounds in the funds, to leave between our two children; and, with such prospects, they ought surely to have the first society of England.” To this Tagrag agreed, and promised to bring us acquainted with the very pink of the fashion; ay, and what’s more, did.
First, he made my wife get an opera-box, and give suppers on Tuesdays and Saturdays. As for me, he made me ride in the Park: me and Jemimarann, with two grooms behind us, who used to laugh all the way, and whose very beards I had shaved. As for little Tug, he was sent straight off to the most fashionable school in the kingdom, the Reverend Doctor Pigney’s, at Richmond.
Well, the horses, the suppers, the opera-box, the paragraphs in the papers about Mr. Coxe Coxe (that’s the way: double your name and stick an “e” to the end of it, and you are a gentleman at once), had an effect in a wonderfully short space of time, and we began to get a very pretty society about us. Some of old Tug’s friends swore they would do anything for the family, and brought their wives and daughters to see dear Mrs. Coxe and her charming girl; and when, about the first week in February, we announced a grand dinner and ball for the evening of the twenty-eighth, I assure you there was no want of company: no, nor of titles neither; and it always does my heart good even to hear one mentioned.
Let me see. There was, first, my Lord Dunboozle, an Irish peer, and his seven sons, the Honorable Messieurs Trumper (two only to dinner): there was Count Mace, the celebrated French nobleman, and his Excellency Baron von Punter from Baden; there was Lady Blanche Bluenose, the eminent literati, author of “The Distrusted” “The Distorted,” “The Disgusted,” “The Disreputable One,” and other poems; there was the Dowager Lady Max and her daughter, the Honorable Miss Adelaide Blueruin; Sir Charles Codshead, from the City; and Field-Marshal Sir Gorman O’Gallagher, K.A., K.B., K.C., K.W., K.X., in the service of the Republic of Guatemala: my friend Tagrag and his fashionable acquaintance, little Tom Tufthunt, made up the party. And when the doors were flung open, and Mr. Hock, in black, with a white napkin, three footmen, coachman, and a lad whom Mrs. C. had dressed in sugar-loaf buttons and called a page, were seen round the dinner-table, all in white gloves, I promise you I felt a thrill of elation, and thought to myself — Sam Cox, Sam Cox, who ever would have expected to see you here?
After dinner, there was to be, as I said, an evening-party; and to this Messieurs Tagrag and Tufthunt had invited many of the principal nobility that our metropolis had produced. When I mention, among the company to tea, her Grace the Duchess of Zero, her son the Marquis of Fitzurse, and the Ladies North Pole her daughters; when I say that there were yet OTHERS, whose names may be found in the Blue Book, but shan’t, out of modesty, be mentioned here, I think I’ve said enough to show that, in our time, No. 96, Portland Place, was the resort of the best of company.
It was our first dinner, and dressed by our new cook, Munseer Cordongblew. I bore it very well; eating, for my share, a filly dysol allamater dotell, a cutlet soubeast, a pully bashymall, and other French dishes: and, for the frisky sweet wine, with tin tops to the bottles, called Champang, I must say that me and Mrs. Coxe-Tuggeridge Coxe drank a very good share of it (but the Claret and Jonnysberger, being sour, we did not much relish). However, the feed, as I say, went off very well: Lady Blanche Bluenose sitting next to me, and being so good as to put me down for six copies of all her poems; the Count and Baron von Punter engaging Jemimarann for several waltzes, and the Field-Marshal plying my dear Jemmy with Champagne, until, bless her! her dear nose became as red as her new crimson satin gown, which, with a blue turban and bird-of-paradise feathers, made her look like an empress, I warrant.
Well, dinner past, Mrs. C. and the ladies went off:— thunder-under-under came the knocks at the door; squeedle-eedle-eedle, Mr. Wippert’s fiddlers began to strike up; and, about half-past eleven, me and the gents thought it high time to make our appearance. I felt a LITTLE squeamish at the thought of meeting a couple of hundred great people; but Count Mace and Sir Gorman O’Gallagher taking each an arm, we reached, at last, the drawing-room.
The young ones in company were dancing, and the Duchess and the great ladies were all seated, talking to themselves very stately, and working away at the ices and macaroons. I looked out for my pretty Jemimarann amongst the dancers, and saw her tearing round the room along with Baron Punter, in what they call a gallypard; then I peeped into the circle of the Duchesses, where, in course, I expected to find Mrs. C.; but she wasn’t there! She was seated at the further end of the room, looking very sulky; and I went up and took her arm, and brought her down to the place where the Duchesses were. “Oh, not there!” said Jemmy, trying to break away. “Nonsense, my dear,” says I: “you are missis, and this is your place.” Then going up to her ladyship the Duchess, says I, “Me and my missis are most proud of the honor of seeing of you.”
The Duchess (a tall red-haired grenadier of a woman) did not speak.
I went on: “The young ones are all at it, ma’am, you see; and so we thought we would come and sit down among the old ones. You and I, ma’am, I think, are too stiff to dance.”
“Sir!” says her Grace.
“Ma’am,” says I, “don’t you know me? My name’s Cox. Nobody’s introduced me; but, dash it, it’s my own house, and I may present myself — so give us your hand, ma’am.”
And I shook hers in the kindest way in the world; but — would you believe it? — the old cat screamed as if my hand had been a hot ‘tater. “Fitzurse! Fitzurse!” shouted she, “help! help!” Up scuffled all the other Dowagers — in rushed the dancers. “Mamma! mamma!” squeaked Lady Julia North Pole. “Lead me to my mother,” howled Lady Aurorer: and both came up and flung themselves into her arms. “Wawt’s the raw?” said Lord Fitzurse, sauntering up quite stately.
“Protect me from the insults of this man,” says her Grace. “Where’s Tufthunt? he promised that not a soul in this house should speak to me.”
“My dear Duchess,” said Tufthunt, very meek.
“Don’t Duchess ME, sir. Did you not promise they should not speak; and hasn’t that horrid tipsy wretch offered to embrace me? Didn’t his monstrous wife sicken me with her odious familiarities? Call my people, Tufthunt! Follow me, my children!”
“And my carriage,” “And mine,” “And mine!” shouted twenty more voices. And down they all trooped to the hall: Lady Blanche Bluenose and Lady Max among the very first; leaving only the Field-Marshal and one or two men, who roared with laughter ready to split.
“Oh, Sam,” said my wife, sobbing, “why would you take me back to them? they had sent me away before! I only asked the Duchess whether she didn’t like rum-shrub better than all your Maxarinos and Curasosos: and — would you believe it? — all the company burst out laughing; and the Duchess told me just to keep off, and not to speak till I was spoken to. Imperence! I’d like to tear her eyes out.”
And so I do believe my dearest Jemmy would!
Our ball had failed so completely that Jemmy, who was bent still upon fashion, caught eagerly at Tagrag’s suggestion, and went down to Tuggeridgeville. If we had a difficulty to find friends in town, here there was none: for the whole county came about us, ate our dinners and suppers, danced at our balls — ay, and spoke to us too. We were great people in fact: I a regular country gentleman; and as such, Jemmy insisted that I should be a sportsman, and join the county hunt. “But,” says I, “my love, I can’t ride.” “Pooh! Mr. C.” said she, “you’re always making difficulties: you thought you couldn’t dance a quadrille; you thought you couldn’t dine at seven o’clock; you thought you couldn’t lie in bed after six; and haven’t you done every one of these things? You must and you shall ride!” And when my Jemmy said “must and shall,” I knew very well there was nothing for it: so I sent down fifty guineas to the hunt, and, out of compliment to me, the very next week, I received notice that the meet of the hounds would take place at Squashtail Common, just outside my lodge-gates.
I didn’t know what a meet was; and me and Mrs. C. agreed that it was most probable the dogs were to be fed there. However, Tagrag explained this matter to us, and very kindly promised to sell me a horse, a delightful animal of his own; which, being desperately pressed for money, he would let me have for a hundred guineas, he himself having given a hundred and fifty for it.
Well, the Thursday came: the hounds met on Squashtail Common; Mrs. C. turned out in her barouche to see us throw off; and, being helped up on my chestnut horse, Trumpeter, by Tagrag and my head groom, I came presently round to join them.
Tag mounted his own horse; and, as we walked down the avenue, “I thought,” he said, “you told me you knew how to ride; and that you had ridden once fifty miles on a stretch!”
“And so I did,” says I, “to Cambridge, and on the box too.”
“ON THE BOX!” says he; “but did you ever mount a horse before?”
“Never,” says I, “but I find it mighty easy.”
“Well,” says he, “you’re mighty bold for a barber; and I like you, Coxe, for your spirit.” And so we came out of the gate.
As for describing the hunt, I own, fairly, I can’t. I’ve been at a hunt, but what a hunt is — why the horses WILL go among the dogs and ride them down — why the men cry out “yooooic”— why the dogs go snuffing about in threes and fours, and the huntsman says, “Good Towler — good Betsy,” and we all of us after him say, “Good Towler — good Betsy” in course: then, after hearing a yelp here and a howl there, tow, row, yow, yow, yow! burst out, all of a sudden, from three or four of them, and the chap in a velvet cap screeches out (with a number of oaths I shan’t repeat here), “Hark, to Ringwood!” and then, “There he goes!” says some one; and all of a sudden, helter skelter, skurry hurry, slap bang, whooping, screeching and hurraing, blue-coats and red-coats, bays and grays, horses, dogs, donkeys, butchers, baro-knights, dustmen, and blackguard boys, go tearing all together over the common after two or three of the pack that yowl loudest. Why all this is, I can’t say; but it all took place the second Thursday of last March, in my presence.
Up to this, I’d kept my seat as well as the best, for we’d only been trotting gently about the field until the dogs found; and I managed to stick on very well; but directly the tow-rowing began, off went Trumpeter like a thunderbolt, and I found myself playing among the dogs like the donkey among the chickens. “Back, Mr. Coxe,” holloas the huntsman; and so I pulled very hard, and cried out, “Wo!” but he wouldn’t; and on I went galloping for the dear life. How I kept on is a wonder; but I squeezed my knees in very tight, and shoved my feet very hard into the stirrups, and kept stiff hold of the scruff of Trumpeter’s neck, and looked betwixt his ears as well as ever I could, and trusted to luck: for I was in a mortal fright, sure enough, as many a better man would be in such a case, let alone a poor hairdresser.
As for the hounds, after my first riding in among them, I tell you honestly, I never saw so much as the tip of one of their tails; nothing in this world did I see except Trumpeter’s dun-colored mane, and that I gripped firm: riding, by the blessing of luck, safe through the walking, the trotting, the galloping, and never so much as getting a tumble.
There was a chap at Croydon very well known as the “Spicy Dustman,” who, when he could get no horse to ride to the hounds, turned regularly out on his donkey; and on this occasion made one of us. He generally managed to keep up with the dogs by trotting quietly through the cross-roads, and knowing the country well. Well, having a good guess where the hounds would find, and the line that sly Reynolds (as they call the fox) would take, the Spicy Dustman turned his animal down the lane from Squashtail to Cutshins Common; across which, sure enough, came the whole hunt. There’s a small hedge and a remarkably fine ditch here: some of the leading chaps took both, in gallant style; others went round by a gate, and so would I, only I couldn’t; for Trumpeter would have the hedge, and be hanged to him, and went right for it.
Hoop! if ever you DID try a leap! Out go your legs, out fling your arms, off goes your hat; and the next thing you feel — that is, I did — is a most tremendous thwack across the chest, and my feet jerked out of the stirrups: me left in the branches of a tree; Trumpeter gone clean from under me, and walloping and floundering in the ditch underneath. One of the stirrup-leathers had caught in a stake, and the horse couldn’t get away: and neither of us, I thought, ever WOULD have got away: but all of a sudden, who should come up the lane but the Spicy Dustman!
“Holloa!” says I, “you gent, just let us down from this here tree!”
“Lor’!” says he, “I’m blest if I didn’t take you for a robin.”
“Let’s down,” says I; but he was all the time employed in disengaging Trumpeter, whom he got out of the ditch, trembling and as quiet as possible. “Let’s down,” says I. “Presently,” says he; and taking off his coat, he begins whistling and swishing down Trumpeter’s sides and saddle; and when he had finished, what do you think the rascal did? — he just quietly mounted on Trumpeter’s back, and shouts out, “Git down yourself, old Bearsgrease; you’ve only to drop! I’LL give your ‘oss a hairing arter them ‘ounds; and you — vy, you may ride back my pony to Tuggeridgeweal!” And with this, I’m blest if he didn’t ride away, leaving me holding, as for the dear life, and expecting every minute the branch would break.
It DID break too, and down I came into the slush; and when I got out of it, I can tell you I didn’t look much like the Venuses or the Apollor Belvidearis what I used to dress and titivate up for my shop window when I was in the hairdressing line, or smell quite so elegant as our rose-oil. Faugh! what a figure I was!
I had nothing for it but to mount the dustman’s donkey (which was very quietly cropping grass in the hedge), and to make my way home; and after a weary, weary journey, I arrived at my own gate.
A whole party was assembled there. Tagrag, who had come back; their Excellencies Mace and Punter, who were on a visit; and a number of horses walking up and down before the whole of the gentlemen of the hunt, who had come in after losing their fox! “Here’s Squire Coxe!” shouted the grooms. Out rushed the servants, out poured the gents of the hunt, and on trotted poor me, digging into the donkey, and everybody dying with laughter at me.
Just as I got up to the door, a horse came galloping up, and passed me; a man jumped down, and taking off a fantail hat, came up, very gravely, to help me down.
“Squire,” says he, “how came you by that there hanimal? Jist git down, will you, and give it to its howner?”
“Rascal!” says I, “didn’t you ride off on my horse?”
“Was there ever sich ingratitude?” says the Spicy. “I found this year ‘oss in a pond, I saves him from drowning, I brings him back to his master, and he calls me a rascal!”
The grooms, the gents, the ladies in the balcony, my own servants, all set up a roar at this; and so would I, only I was so deucedly ashamed, as not to be able to laugh just then.
And so my first day’s hunting ended. Tagrag and the rest declared I showed great pluck, and wanted me to try again; but “No,” says I, “I HAVE been.”
I was always fond of billiards: and, in former days, at Grogram’s in Greek Street, where a few jolly lads of my acquaintance used to meet twice a week for a game, and a snug pipe and beer, I was generally voted the first man of the club; and could take five from John the marker himself. I had a genius, in fact, for the game; and now that I was placed in that station of life where I could cultivate my talents, I gave them full play, and improved amazingly. I do say that I think myself as good a hand as any chap in England.
The Count and his Excellency Baron von Punter were, I can tell you, astonished by the smartness of my play: the first two or three rubbers Punter beat me, but when I came to know his game, I used to knock him all to sticks; or, at least, win six games to his four: and such was the betting upon me; his Excellency losing large sums to the Count, who knew what play was, and used to back me. I did not play except for shillings, so my skill was of no great service to me.
One day I entered the billiard-room where these three gentlemen were high in words. “The thing shall not be done,” I heard Captain Tagrag say: “I won’t stand it.”
“Vat, begause you would have de bird all to yourzelf, hey?” said the Baron.
“You sall not have a single fezare of him, begar,” said the Count: “ve vill blow you, M. de Taguerague; parole d’honneur, ve vill.”
“What’s all this, gents,” says I, stepping in, “about birds and feathers?”
“Oh,” says Tagrag, “we were talking about — about — pigeon-shooting; the Count here says he will blow a bird all to pieces at twenty yards, and I said I wouldn’t stand it, because it was regular murder.”
“Oh, yase, it was bidgeon-shooting,” cries the Baron: “and I know no better sbort. Have you been bidgeon-shooting, my dear Squire? De fon is gabidal.”
“No doubt,” says I, “for the shooters, but mighty bad sport for the PIGEON.” And this joke set them all a-laughing ready to die. I didn’t know then what a good joke it WAS, neither; but I gave Master Baron, that day, a precious good beating, and walked off with no less than fifteen shillings of his money.
As a sporting man, and a man of fashion, I need not say that I took in the Flare-up regularly; ay, and wrote one or two trifles in that celebrated publication (one of my papers, which Tagrag subscribed for me, Philo-pestitiaeamicus, on the proper sauce for teal and widgeon — and the other, signed Scru-tatos, on the best means of cultivating the kidney species of that vegetable — made no small noise at the time, and got me in the paper a compliment from the editor). I was a constant reader of the Notices to Correspondents, and, my early education having been rayther neglected (for I was taken from my studies and set, as is the custom in our trade, to practise on a sheep’s head at the tender age of nine years, before I was allowed to venture on the humane countenance,)— I say, being thus curtailed and cut off in my classical learning, I must confess I managed to pick up a pretty smattering of genteel information from that treasury of all sorts of knowledge; at least sufficient to make me a match in learning for all the noblemen and gentlemen who came to our house. Well, on looking over the Flare-up notices to correspondents, I read, one day last April, among the notices, as follows:—
“‘Automodon.’ We do not know the precise age of Mr. Baker of Covent Garden Theatre; nor are we aware if that celebrated son of Thespis is a married man.
“‘Ducks and Green-peas’ is informed, that when A plays his rook to B’s second Knight’s square, and B, moving two squares with his Queen’s pawn, gives check to his adversary’s Queen, there is no reason why B’s Queen should not take A’s pawn, if B be so inclined.
“‘F. L. S.’ We have repeatedly answered the question about Madame Vestris: her maiden name was Bartolozzi, and she married the son of Charles Mathews, the celebrated comedian.
“‘Fair Play.’ The best amateur billiard and ecarte player in England, is Coxe Tuggeridge Coxe, Esq., of Portland Place, and Tuggeridgeville: Jonathan, who knows his play, can only give him two in a game of a hundred; and, at the cards, NO man is his superior. Verbum sap.
“‘Scipio Americanus’ is a blockhead.”
I read this out to the Count and Tagrag, and both of them wondered how the Editor of that tremendous Flare-up should get such information; and both agreed that the Baron, who still piqued himself absurdly on his play, would be vastly annoyed by seeing me preferred thus to himself. We read him the paragraph, and preciously angry he was. “Id is,” he cried, “the tables” (or “de DABELS,” as he called them) — “de horrid dabels; gom viz me to London, and dry a slate-table, and I vill beat you.” We all roared at this; and the end of the dispute was, that, just to satisfy the fellow, I agreed to play his Excellency at slate-tables, or any tables he chose.
“Gut,” says he, “gut; I lif, you know, at Abednego’s, in de Quadrant; his dabels is goot; ve vill blay dere, if you vill.” And I said I would: and it was agreed that, one Saturday night, when Jemmy was at the Opera, we should go to the Baron’s rooms, and give him a chance.
We went, and the little Baron had as fine a supper as ever I saw: lots of Champang (and I didn’t mind drinking it), and plenty of laughing and fun. Afterwards, down we went to billiards. “Is dish Misther Coxsh, de shelebrated player?” says Mr. Abednego, who was in the room, with one or two gentlemen of his own persuasion, and several foreign noblemen, dirty, snuffy, and hairy, as them foreigners are. “Is dish Misther Coxsh? blesh my hart, it is a honor to see you; I have heard so much of your play.”
“Come, come,” says I, “sir”— for I’m pretty wide awake —“none of your gammon; you’re not going to book ME.”
“No, begar, dis fish you not catch,” says Count Mace.
“Dat is gut! — haw! haw!” snorted the Baron. “Hook him! Lieber Himmel, you might dry and hook me as well. Haw! haw!”
Well, we went to play. “Five to four on Coxe,” screams out the Count. —“Done and done,” says another nobleman. “Ponays,” says the Count. —“Done,” says the nobleman. “I vill take your six crowns to four,” says the Baron. —“Done,” says I. And, in the twinkling of an eye, I beat him once making thirteen off the balls without stopping.
We had some more wine after this; and if you could have seen the long faces of the other noblemen, as they pulled out their pencils and wrote I.O.U.‘s for the Count! “Va toujours, mon cher,” says he to me, “you have von for me three hundred pounds.”
“I’ll blay you guineas dis time,” says the Baron. “Zeven to four you must give me though.” And so I did: and in ten minutes THAT game was won, and the Baron handed over his pounds. “Two hundred and sixty more, my dear, dear Coxe,” says the Count: “you are mon ange gardien!” “Wot a flat Misther Coxsh is, not to back his luck,” I hoard Abednego whisper to one of the foreign noblemen.
“I’ll take your seven to four, in tens,” said I to the Baron. “Give me three,” says he, “and done.” I gave him three, and lost the game by one. “Dobbel, or quits,” says he. “Go it,” says I, up to my mettle: “Sam Coxe never says no;” and to it we went. I went in, and scored eighteen to his five. “Holy Moshesh!” says Abednego, “dat little Coxsh is a vonder! who’ll take odds?”
“I’ll give twenty to one,” says I, “in guineas.”
“Ponays; yase, done,” screams out the Count.
“BONIES, done,” roars out the Baron: and, before I could speak, went in, and — would you believe it? — in two minutes he somehow made the game!
Oh, what a figure I cut when my dear Jemmy heard of this afterwards! In vain I swore it was guineas: the Count and the Baron swore to ponies; and when I refused, they both said their honor was concerned, and they must have my life, or their money. So when the Count showed me actually that, in spite of this bet (which had been too good to resist) won from me, he had been a very heavy loser by the night; and brought me the word of honor of Abednego, his Jewish friend, and the foreign noblemen, that ponies had been betted; — why, I paid them one thousand pounds sterling of good and lawful money. — But I’ve not played for money since: no, no; catch me at THAT again if you can.
No lady is a lady without having a box at the Opera: so my Jemmy, who knew as much about music — bless her! — as I do about Sanscrit, algebra, or any other foreign language, took a prime box on the second tier. It was what they called a double box; it really COULD hold two, that is, very comfortably; and we got it a great bargain — for five hundred a year! Here, Tuesdays and Saturdays, we used regularly to take our places, Jemmy and Jemimarann sitting in front; me, behind: but as my dear wife used to wear a large fantail gauze hat with ostrich feathers, birds-of-paradise, artificial flowers, and tags of muslin or satin, scattered all over it, I’m blest if she didn’t fill the whole of the front of the box; and it was only by jumping and dodging, three or four times in the course of the night, that I could manage to get a sight of the actors. By kneeling down, and looking steady under my darling Jemmy’s sleeve, I DID contrive, every now and then, to have a peep of Senior Lablash’s boots, in the “Puritanny,” and once actually saw Madame Greasi’s crown and head-dress in “Annybalony.”
What a place that Opera is, to be sure! and what enjoyments us aristocracy used to have! Just as you have swallowed down your three courses (three curses I used to call them; — for so, indeed, they are, causing a deal of heartburns, headaches, doctor’s bills, pills, want of sleep, and such like)— just, I say, as you get down your three courses, which I defy any man to enjoy properly unless he has two hours of drink and quiet afterwards, up comes the carriage, in bursts my Jemmy, as fine as a duchess, and scented like our shop. “Come, my dear,” says she, “it’s ‘Normy’ to — night” (or “Annybalony,” or the “Nosey di Figaro,” or the “Gazzylarder,” as the case may be). “Mr. Foster strikes off punctually at eight, and you know it’s the fashion to be always present at the very first bar of the aperture.” And so off we are obliged to budge, to be miserable for five hours, and to have a headache for the next twelve, and all because it’s the fashion!
After the aperture, as they call it, comes the opera, which, as I am given to understand, is the Italian for singing. Why they should sing in Italian, I can’t conceive; or why they should do nothing BUT sing. Bless us! how I used to long for the wooden magpie in the “Gazzylarder” to fly up to the top of the church-steeple, with the silver spoons, and see the chaps with the pitchforks come in and carry off that wicked Don June. Not that I don’t admire Lablash, and Rubini, and his brother, Tomrubini: him who has that fine bass voice, I mean, and acts the Corporal in the first piece, and Don June in the second; but three hours is a LITTLE too much, for you can’t sleep on those little rickety seats in the boxes.
The opera is bad enough; but what is that to the bally? You SHOULD have seen my Jemmy the first night when she stopped to see it; and when Madamsalls Fanny and Theresa Hustler came forward, along with a gentleman, to dance, you should have seen how Jemmy stared, and our girl blushed, when Madamsall Fanny, coming forward, stood on the tips of only five of her toes, and raising up the other five, and the foot belonging to them, almost to her shoulder, twirled round, and round, and round, like a teetotum, for a couple of minutes or more; and as she settled down, at last, on both feet, in a natural decent posture, you should have heard how the house roared with applause, the boxes clapping with all their might, and waving their handkerchiefs; the pit shouting, “Bravo!” Some people, who, I suppose, were rather angry at such an exhibition, threw bunches of flowers at her; and what do you think she did? Why, hang me, if she did not come forward, as though nothing had happened, gather up the things they had thrown at her, smile, press them to her heart, and begin whirling round again faster than ever. Talk about coolness, I never saw such in all MY born days.
“Nasty thing!” says Jemmy, starting up in a fury; “if women WILL act so, it serves them right to be treated so.”
“Oh, yes! she acts beautifully,” says our friend his Excellency, who along with Baron von Punter and Tagrag, used very seldom to miss coming to our box.
“She may act very beautifully, Munseer, but she don’t dress so; and I am very glad they threw that orange-peel and all those things at her, and that the people waved to her to get off.”
Here his Excellency, and the Baron and Tag, set up a roar of laughter.
“My dear Mrs. Coxe,” says Tag, “those are the most famous dancers in the world; and we throw myrtle, geraniums, and lilies and roses at them, in token of our immense admiration!”
“Well, I never!” said my wife; and poor Jemimarann slunk behind the curtain, and looked as red as it almost. After the one had done the next begun; but when, all of a sudden, a somebody came skipping and bounding in, like an Indian-rubber ball, flinging itself up, at least six feet from the stage, and there shaking about its legs like mad, we were more astonished than ever!
“That’s Anatole,” says one of the gentlemen.
“Anna who?” says my wife; and she might well be mistaken: for this person had a hat and feathers, a bare neck and arms, great black ringlets, and a little calico frock, which came down to the knees.
“Anatole. You would not think he was sixty-three years old, he’s as active as a man of twenty.”
“HE!” shrieked out my wife; “what, is that there a man? For shame! Munseer. Jemimarann, dear, get your cloak, and come along; and I’ll thank you, my dear, to call our people, and let us go home.”
You wouldn’t think, after this, that my Jemmy, who had shown such a horror at the bally, as they call it, should ever grow accustomed to it; but she liked to hear her name shouted out in the crush-room, and so would stop till the end of everything; and, law bless you! in three weeks from that time, she could look at the ballet as she would at a dancing-dog in the streets, and would bring her double-barrelled opera-glass up to her eyes as coolly as if she had been a born duchess. As for me, I did at Rome as Rome does; and precious fun it used to be, sometimes.
My friend the Baron insisted one night on my going behind the scenes; where, being a subscriber, he said I had what they call my ONTRAY. Behind, then, I went; and such a place you never saw nor heard of! Fancy lots of young and old gents of the fashion crowding round and staring at the actresses practising their steps. Fancy yellow snuffy foreigners, chattering always, and smelling fearfully of tobacco. Fancy scores of Jews, with hooked-noses and black muzzles, covered with rings, chains, sham diamonds, and gold waistcoats. Fancy old men dressed in old nightgowns, with knock-knees, and dirty flesh-colored cotton stockings, and dabs of brick-dust on their wrinkled old chops, and tow-wigs (such wigs!) for the bald ones, and great tin spears in their hands mayhap, or else shepherds’ crooks, and fusty garlands of flowers made of red and green baize. Fancy troops of girls giggling, chattering, pushing to and fro, amidst old black canvas, Gothic halls, thrones, pasteboard Cupids, dragons, and such like. Such dirt, darkness, crowd, confusion and gabble of all conceivable languages was never known!
If you COULD but have seen Munseer Anatole! Instead of looking twenty, he looked a thousand. The old man’s wig was off, and a barber was giving it a touch with the tongs; Munseer was taking snuff himself, and a boy was standing by with a pint of beer from the public-house at the corner of Charles Street.
I met with a little accident during the three-quarters of an hour which they allow for the entertainment of us men of fashion on the stage, before the curtain draws up for the bally, while the ladies in the boxes are gaping, and the people in the pit are drumming with their feet and canes in the rudest manner possible, as though they couldn’t wait.
Just at the moment before the little bell rings and the curtain flies up, and we scuffle off to the sides (for we always stay till the very last moment), I was in the middle of the stage, making myself very affable to the fair figgerantys which was spinning and twirling about me, and asking them if they wasn’t cold, and such like politeness, in the most condescending way possible, when a bolt was suddenly withdrawn, and down I popped, through a trap in the stage, into the place below. Luckily I was stopped by a piece of machinery, consisting of a heap of green blankets and a young lady coming up as Venus rising from the sea. If I had not fallen so soft, I don’t know what might have been the consequence of the collusion. I never told Mrs. Coxe, for she can’t bear to hear of my paying the least attention to the fair sex.
Next door to us, in Portland Place, lived the Right Honorable the Earl of Kilblazes, of Kilmacrasy Castle, County Kildare, and his mother the Dowager Countess. Lady Kilblazes had a daughter, Lady Juliana Matilda MacTurk, of the exact age of our dear Jemimarann; and a son, the Honorable Arthur Wellington Anglesea Blucher Bulow MacTurk, only ten months older than our boy Tug.
My darling Jemmy is a woman of spirit, and, as become her station, made every possible attempt to become acquainted with the Dowager Countess of Kilblazes, which her ladyship (because, forsooth, she was the daughter of the Minister, and Prince of Wales’s great friend, the Earl of Portansherry) thought fit to reject. I don’t wonder at my Jemmy growing so angry with her, and determining, in every way, to put her ladyship down. The Kilblazes’ estate is not so large as the Tuggeridge property by two thousand a year at least; and so my wife, when our neighbors kept only two footmen, was quite authorized in having three; and she made it a point, as soon as ever the Kilblazes’ carriage-and-pair came round, to have out her own carriage-and-four.
Well, our box was next to theirs at the Opera; only twice as big. Whatever masters went to Lady Juliana, came to my Jemimarann; and what do you think Jemmy did? she got her celebrated governess, Madame de Flicflac, away from the Countess, by offering a double salary. It was quite a treasure, they said, to have Madame Flicflac: she had been (to support her father, the Count, when he emigrated) a FRENCH dancer at the ITALIAN Opera. French dancing, and Italian, therefore, we had at once, and in the best style: it is astonishing how quick and well she used to speak — the French especially.
Master Arthur MacTurk was at the famous school of the Reverend Clement Coddler, along with a hundred and ten other young fashionables, from the age of three to fifteen; and to this establishment Jemmy sent our Tug, adding forty guineas to the hundred and twenty paid every year for the boarders. I think I found out the dear soul’s reason; for, one day, speaking about the school to a mutual acquaintance of ours and the Kilblazes, she whispered to him that “she never would have thought of sending her darling boy at the rate which her next-door neighbors paid; THEIR lad, she was sure, must be starved: however, poor people, they did the best they could on their income!”
Coddler’s, in fact, was the tip-top school near London: he had been tutor to the Duke of Buckminster, who had set him up in the school, and, as I tell you, all the peerage and respectable commoners came to it. You read in the bill, (the snopsis, I think, Coddler called it,) after the account of the charges for board, masters, extras, &c. —“Every young nobleman (or gentleman) is expected to bring a knife, fork, spoon, and goblet of silver (to prevent breakage), which will not be returned; a dressing-gown and slippers; toilet-box, pomatum, curling-irons, &c. &c. The pupil must on NO ACCOUNT be allowed to have more than ten guineas of pocket-money, unless his parents particularly desire it, or he be above fifteen years of age. WINE will be an extra charge; as are warm, vapor, and douche baths. CARRIAGE EXERCISE will be provided at the rate of fifteen guineas per quarter. It is EARNESTLY REQUESTED that no young nobleman (or gentleman) be allowed to smoke. In a place devoted to THE CULTIVATION OF POLITE LITERATURE, such an ignoble enjoyment were profane.
“CLEMENT CODDLER, M. A.,
“Chaplain and late tutor to his Grace the Duke of Buckminster.
“MOUNT PARNASSUS, RICHMOND, SURREY.”
To this establishment our Tug was sent. “Recollect, my dear,” said his mamma, “that you are a Tuggeridge by birth, and that I expect you to beat all the boys in the school; especially that Wellington MacTurk, who, though he is a lord’s son, is nothing to you, who are the heir of Tuggeridgeville.”
Tug was a smart young fellow enough, and could cut and curl as well as any young chap of his age: he was not a bad hand at a wig either, and could shave, too, very prettily; but that was in the old time, when we were not great people: when he came to be a gentleman, he had to learn Latin and Greek, and had a deal of lost time to make up for, on going to school.
However, we had no fear; for the Reverend Mr. Coddler used to send monthly accounts of his pupil’s progress, and if Tug was not a wonder of the world, I don’t know who was. It was
General behavior. . . . ..excellent.
English. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . very good.
French. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . tres bien.
Latin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .optime.
And so on:— he possessed all the virtues, and wrote to us every month for money. My dear Jemmy and I determined to go and see him, after he had been at school a quarter; we went, and were shown by Mr. Coddler, one of the meekest, smilingest little men I ever saw, into the bedrooms and eating-rooms (the dromitaries and refractories he called them), which were all as comfortable as comfortable might be. “It is a holiday, today,” said Mr. Coddler; and a holiday it seemed to be. In the dining-room were half a dozen young gentlemen playing at cards (“All tip-top nobility,” observed Mr. Coddler); — in the bedrooms there was only one gent: he was lying on his bed, reading novels and smoking cigars. “Extraordinary genius!” whispered Coddler. “Honorable Tom Fitz-Warter, cousin of Lord Byron’s; smokes all day; and has written the SWEETEST poems you can imagine. Genius, my dear madam, you know — genius must have its way.” “Well, UPON my word,” says Jemmy, “if that’s genius, I had rather that Master Tuggeridge Coxe Tuggeridge remained a dull fellow.”
“Impossible, my dear madam,” said Coddler. “Mr. Tuggeridge Coxe COULDN’T be stupid if he TRIED.”
Just then up comes Lord Claude Lollypop, third son of the Marquis of Allycompane. We were introduced instantly: “Lord Claude Lollypop, Mr. and Mrs. Coxe.” The little lord wagged his head, my wife bowed very low, and so did Mr. Coddler; who, as he saw my lord making for the playground, begged him to show us the way. —“Come along,” says my lord; and as he walked before us, whistling, we had leisure to remark the beautiful holes in his jacket, and elsewhere.
About twenty young noblemen (and gentlemen) were gathered round a pastry-cook’s shop at the end of the green. “That’s the grub-shop,” said my lord, “where we young gentlemen wot has money buys our wittles, and them young gentlemen wot has none, goes tick.”
Then we passed a poor red-haired usher sitting on a bench alone. “That’s Mr. Hicks, the Husher, ma’am,” says my lord. “We keep him, for he’s very useful to throw stones at, and he keeps the chaps’ coats when there’s a fight, or a game at cricket. — Well, Hicks, how’s your mother? what’s the row now?” “I believe, my lord,” said the usher, very meekly, “there is a pugilistic encounter somewhere on the premises — the Honorable Mr. Mac —”
“Oh! COME along,” said Lord Lollypop, “come along: this way, ma’am! Go it, ye cripples!” And my lord pulled my dear Jemmy’s gown in the kindest and most familiar way, she trotting on after him, mightily pleased to be so taken notice of, and I after her. A little boy went running across the green. “Who is it, Petitoes?” screams my lord. “Turk and the barber,” pipes Petitoes, and runs to the pastry-cook’s like mad. “Turk and the ba — ” laughs out my lord, looking at us. “HURRA! THIS way, ma’am!” And turning round a corner, he opened a door into a court-yard, where a number of boys were collected, and a great noise of shrill voices might be heard. “Go it, Turk!” says one. “Go it, barber!” says another. “PUNCH HITH LIFE OUT!” roars another, whose voice was just cracked, and his clothes half a yard too short for him!
Fancy our horror when, on the crowd making way, we saw Tug pummelling away at the Honorable Master MacTurk! My dear Jemmy, who don’t understand such things, pounced upon the two at once, and, with one hand tearing away Tug, sent him spinning back into the arms of his seconds, while, with the other, she clawed hold of Master MacTurk’s red hair, and, as soon as she got her second hand free, banged it about his face and ears like a good one.
“You nasty — wicked — quarrelsome — aristocratic” (each word was a bang)—“aristocratic — oh! oh! oh!”— Here the words stopped; for what with the agitation, maternal solicitude, and a dreadful kick on the shins which, I am ashamed to say, Master MacTurk administered, my dear Jemmy could bear it no longer, and sunk fainting away in my arms.
Although there was a regular cut between the next-door people and us, yet Tug and the Honorable Master MacTurk kept up their acquaintance over the back-garden wall, and in the stables, where they were fighting, making friends, and playing tricks from morning to night, during the holidays. Indeed, it was from young Mac that we first heard of Madame de Flicflac, of whom my Jemmy robbed Lady Kilblazes, as I before have related. When our friend the Baron first saw Madame, a very tender greeting passed between them; for they had, as it appeared, been old friends abroad. “Sapristie,” said the Baron, in his lingo, “que fais-tu ici, Amenaide?” “Et toi, mon pauvre Chicot,” says she, “est-ce qu’on t’a mis a la retraite? Il parait que tu n’es plus General chez Franco —” “CHUT!” says the Baron, putting his finger to his lips.
“What are they saying, my dear?” says my wife to Jemimarann, who had a pretty knowledge of the language by this time.
“I don’t know what ‘Sapristie’ means, mamma; but the Baron asked Madame what she was doing here? and Madame said, ‘And you, Chicot, you are no more a General at Franco.’— Have I not translated rightly, Madame?”
“Oui, mon chou, mon ange. Yase, my angel, my cabbage, quite right. Figure yourself, I have known my dear Chicot dis twenty years.”
“Chicot is my name of baptism,” says the Baron; “Baron Chicot de Punter is my name.”
“And being a General at Franco,” says Jemmy, “means, I suppose, being a French General?”
“Yes, I vas,” said he, “General Baron de Punter — n’est ‘a pas, Amenaide?”
“Oh, yes!” said Madame Flicflac, and laughed; and I and Jemmy laughed out of politeness: and a pretty laughing matter it was, as you shall hear.
About this time my Jemmy became one of the Lady-Patronesses of that admirable institution, “The Washerwoman’s-Orphans’ Home;” Lady de Sudley was the great projector of it; and the manager and chaplain, the excellent and Reverend Sidney Slopper. His salary, as chaplain, and that of Doctor Leitch, the physician (both cousins of her ladyship’s), drew away five hundred pounds from the six subscribed to the Charity: and Lady de Sudley thought a fete at Beulah Spa, with the aid of some of the foreign princes who were in town last year, might bring a little more money into its treasury. A tender appeal was accordingly drawn up, and published in all the papers:—
“BRITISH WASHERWOMAN’S-ORPHANS’ HOME.
“The ‘Washerwoman’s-Orphans’ Home’ has now been established seven years: and the good which it has effected is, it may be confidently stated, INCALCULABLE. Ninety-eight orphan children of Washerwomen have been lodged within its walls. One hundred and two British Washerwomen have been relieved when in the last state of decay. ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-EIGHT THOUSAND articles of male and female dress have been washed, mended, buttoned, ironed, and mangled in the Establishment. And, by an arrangement with the governors of the Foundling, it is hoped that THE BABY-LINEN OF THAT HOSPITAL will be confided to the British Washerwoman’s Home!
“With such prospects before it, is it not sad, is it not lamentable to think, that the Patronesses of the Society have been compelled to reject the applications of no less than THREE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED AND ONE BRITISH WASHERWOMEN, from lack of means for their support? Ladies of England! Mothers of England! to you we appeal. Is there one of you that will not respond to the cry in behalf of these deserving members of our sex?
“It has been determined by the Ladies-Patronesses to give a fete at Beulah Spa, on Thursday, July 25; which will be graced with the first foreign and native TALENT; by the first foreign and native RANK; and where they beg for the attendance of every WASHERWOMAN’S FRIEND.”
Her Highness the Princess of Schloppenzollernschwigmaringen, the Duke of Sacks-Tubbingen, His Excellency Baron Strumpff, His Excellency Lootf-Allee-Koolee-Bismillah-Mohamed-Rusheed-Allah, the Persian Ambassador, Prince Futtee-Jaw, Envoy from the King of Oude, His Excellency Don Alonzo di Cachachero-y-Fandango-y-Castanete, the Spanish Ambassador, Count Ravioli, from Milan, the Envoy of the Republic of Topinambo, and a host of other fashionables, promised to honor the festival: and their names made a famous show in the bills. Besides these, we had the celebrated band of Moscow-musiks, the seventy-seven Transylvanian trumpeters, and the famous Bohemian Minnesingers; with all the leading artists of London, Paris, the Continent, and the rest of Europe.
I leave you to fancy what a splendid triumph for the British Washerwoman’s Home was to come off on that day. A beautiful tent was erected, in which the Ladies-Patronesses were to meet: it was hung round with specimens of the skill of the washerwomen’s orphans; ninety-six of whom were to be feasted in the gardens, and waited on by the Ladies-Patronesses.
Well, Jemmy and my daughter, Madame de Flicflac, myself, the Count, Baron Punter, Tug, and Tagrag, all went down in the chariot and barouche-and-four, quite eclipsing poor Lady Kilblazes and her carriage-and-two.
There was a fine cold collation, to which the friends of the Ladies-Patronesses were admitted; after which, my ladies and their beaux went strolling through the walks; Tagrag and the Count having each an arm of Jemmy; the Baron giving an arm apiece to Madame and Jemimarann. Whilst they were walking, whom should they light upon but poor Orlando Crump, my successor in the perfumery and hair-cutting.
“Orlando!” says Jemimarann, blushing as red as a label, and holding out her hand.
“Jemimar!” says he, holding out his, and turning as white as pomatum.
“SIR!” says Jemmy, as stately as a duchess.
“What! madam,” says poor Crump, “don’t you remember your shopboy?”
“Dearest mamma, don’t you recollect Orlando?” whimpers Jemimarann, whose hand he had got hold of.
“Miss Tuggeridge Coxe,” says Jemmy, “I’m surprised of you. Remember, sir, that our position is altered, and oblige me by no more familiarity.”
“Insolent fellow!” says the Baron, “vat is dis canaille?”
“Canal yourself, Mounseer,” says Orlando, now grown quite furious: he broke away, quite indignant, and was soon lost in the crowd. Jemimarann, as soon as he was gone, began to look very pale and ill; and her mamma, therefore, took her to a tent, where she left her along with Madame Flicflac and the Baron; going off herself with the other gentlemen, in order to join us.
It appears they had not been seated very long, when Madame Flicflac suddenly sprung up, with an exclamation of joy, and rushed forward to a friend whom she saw pass.
The Baron was left alone with Jemimarann; and, whether it was the champagne, or that my dear girl looked more than commonly pretty, I don’t know; but Madame Flicflac had not been gone a minute, when the Baron dropped on his knees, and made her a regular declaration.
Poor Orlando Crump had found me out by this time, and was standing by my side, listening, as melancholy as possible, to the famous Bohemian Minnesingers, who were singing the celebrated words of the poet Gothy:—
“Ich bin ya hupp lily lee, du bist ya hupp lily lee.
Wir sind doch hupp lily lee, hupp la lily lee.”
“Chorus — Yodle-odle-odle-odle-odle-odle hupp! yodle-odle-aw-o-o-o!”
They were standing with their hands in their waistcoats, as usual, and had just come to the “o-o-o,” at the end of the chorus of the forty-seventh stanza, when Orlando started: “That’s a scream!” says he. “Indeed it is,” says I; “and, but for the fashion of the thing, a very ugly scream too:” when I heard another shrill “Oh!” as I thought; and Orlando bolted off, crying, “By heavens, it’s HER voice!” “Whose voice?” says I. “Come and see the row,” says Tag. And off we went, with a considerable number of people, who saw this strange move on his part.
We came to the tent, and there we found my poor Jemimarann fainting; her mamma holding a smelling-bottle; the Baron, on the ground, holding a handkerchief to his bleeding nose; and Orlando squaring at him, and calling on him to fight if he dared.
My Jemmy looked at Crump very fierce. “Take that feller away,” says she; “he has insulted a French nobleman, and deserves transportation, at the least.”
Poor Orlando was carried off. “I’ve no patience with the little minx,” says Jemmy, giving Jemimarann a pinch. “She might be a Baron’s lady; and she screams out because his Excellency did but squeeze her hand.”
“Oh, mamma! mamma!” sobs poor Jemimarann, “but he was t-t-tipsy.”
“T-t-tipsy! and the more shame for you, you hussy, to be offended with a nobleman who does not know what he is doing.”
“I say, Tug,” said MacTurk, one day soon after our flareup at Beulah, “Kilblazes comes of age in October, and then we’ll cut you out, as I told you: the old barberess will die of spite when she hears what we are going to do. What do you think? we’re going to have a tournament!” “What’s a tournament?” says Tug, and so said his mamma when she heard the news; and when she knew what a tournament was, I think, really, she WAS as angry as MacTurk said she would be, and gave us no peace for days together. “What!” says she, “dress up in armor, like play-actors, and run at each other with spears? The Kilblazes must be mad!” And so I thought, but I didn’t think the Tuggeridges would be mad too, as they were: for, when Jemmy heard that the Kilblazes’ festival was to be, as yet, a profound secret, what does she do, but send down to the Morning Post a flaming account of
“THE PASSAGE OF ARMS AT TUGGERIDGEVIILLE!
“The days of chivalry are NOT past. The fair Castellane of T-gg-r-dgeville, whose splendid entertainments have so often been alluded to in this paper, has determined to give one, which shall exceed in splendor even the magnificence of the Middle Ages. We are not at liberty to say more; but a tournament, at which His Ex-l-ncy B-r-n de P-nt-r and Thomas T-gr-g, Esq., eldest son of Sir Th — s T-gr-g, are to be the knights-defendants against all comers; a QUEEN OF BEAUTY, of whose loveliness every frequenter of fashion has felt the power; a banquet, unexampled in the annals of Gunter; and a ball, in which the recollections of ancient chivalry will blend sweetly with the soft tones of Weippert and Collinet, are among the entertainments which the Ladye of T-gg-ridgeville has prepared for her distinguished guests.”
The Baron was the life of the scheme; he longed to be on horseback, and in the field at Tuggeridgeville, where he, Tagrag, and a number of our friends practised: he was the very best tilter present; he vaulted over his horse, and played such wonderful antics, as never were done except at Ducrow’s.
And now — oh that I had twenty pages, instead of this short chapter, to describe the wonders of the day! — Twenty-four knights came from Ashley’s at two guineas a head. We were in hopes to have had Miss Woolford in the character of Joan of Arc, but that lady did not appear. We had a tent for the challengers, at each side of which hung what they called ESCOACHINGS, (like hatchments, which they put up when people die,) and underneath sat their pages, holding their helmets for the tournament. Tagrag was in brass armor (my City connections got him that famous suit); his Excellency in polished steel. My wife wore a coronet, modelled exactly after that of Queen Catharine, in “Henry V.;” a tight gilt jacket, which set off dear Jemmy’s figure wonderfully, and a train of at least forty feet. Dear Jemimarann was in white, her hair braided with pearls. Madame de Flicflac appeared as Queen Elizabeth; and Lady Blanche Bluenose as a Turkish princess. An alderman of London and his lady; two magistrates of the county, and the very pink of Croydon; several Polish noblemen; two Italian counts (besides our Count); one hundred and ten young officers, from Addiscombe College, in full uniform, commanded by Major-General Sir Miles Mulligatawney, K.C.B., and his lady; the Misses Pimminy’s Finishing Establishment, and fourteen young ladies, all in white: the Reverend Doctor Wapshot, and forty-nine young gentlemen, of the first families, under his charge — were SOME only of the company. I leave you to fancy that, if my Jemmy did seek for fashion, she had enough of it on this occasion. They wanted me to have mounted again, but my hunting-day had been sufficient; besides, I ain’t big enough for a real knight: so, as Mrs. Coxe insisted on my opening the Tournament — and I knew it was in vain to resist — the Baron and Tagrag had undertaken to arrange so that I might come off with safety, if I came off at all. They had procured from the Strand Theatre a famous stud of hobby-horses, which they told me had been trained for the use of the great Lord Bateman. I did not know exactly what they were till they arrived; but as they had belonged to a lord, I thought it was all right, and consented; and I found it the best sort of riding, after all, to appear to be on horseback and walk safely a-foot at the same time; and it was impossible to come down as long as I kept on my own legs: besides, I could cuff and pull my steed about as much as I liked, without fear of his biting or kicking in return. As Lord of the Tournament, they placed in my hands a lance, ornamented spirally, in blue and gold: I thought of the pole over my old shop door, and almost wished myself there again, as I capered up to the battle in my helmet and breastplate, with all the trumpets blowing and drums beating at the time. Captain Tagrag was my opponent, and preciously we poked each other, till, prancing about, I put my foot on my horse’s petticoat behind, and down I came, getting a thrust from the Captain, at the same time, that almost broke my shoulder-bone. “This was sufficient,” they said, “for the laws of chivalry;” and I was glad to get off so.
After that the gentlemen riders, of whom there were no less than seven, in complete armor, and the professionals, now ran at the ring; and the Baron was far, far the most skilful.
“How sweetly the dear Baron rides,” said my wife, who was always ogling at him, smirking, smiling, and waving her handkerchief to him. “I say, Sam,” says a professional to one of his friends, as, after their course, they came cantering up, and ranged under Jemmy’s bower, as she called it:—“I say, Sam, I’m blowed if that chap in harmer mustn’t have been one of hus.” And this only made Jemmy the more pleased; for the fact is, the Baron had chosen the best way of winning Jemimarann by courting her mother.
The Baron was declared conqueror at the ring; and Jemmy awarded him the prize, a wreath of white roses, which she placed on his lance; he receiving it gracefully, and bowing, until the plumes of his helmet mingled with the mane of his charger, which backed to the other end of the lists; then galloping back to the place where Jemimarann was seated, he begged her to place it on his helmet. The poor girl blushed very much, and did so. As all the people were applauding, Tagrag rushed up, and, laying his hand on the Baron’s shoulder, whispered something in his ear, which made the other very angry, I suppose, for he shook him off violently. “Chacun pour soi,” says he, “Monsieur de Taguerague,”— which means, I am told, “Every man for himself.” And then he rode away, throwing his lance in the air, catching it, and making his horse caper and prance, to the admiration of all beholders.
After this came the “Passage of Arms.” Tagrag and the Baron ran courses against the other champions; ay, and unhorsed two apiece; whereupon the other three refused to turn out; and preciously we laughed at them, to be sure!
“Now, it’s OUR turn, Mr. CHICOT,” says Tagrag, shaking his fist at the Baron: “look to yourself, you infernal mountebank, for, by Jupiter, I’ll do my best!” And before Jemmy and the rest of us, who were quite bewildered, could say a word, these two friends were charging away, spears in hand, ready to kill each other. In vain Jemmy screamed; in vain I threw down my truncheon: they had broken two poles before I could say “Jack Robinson,” and were driving at each other with the two new ones. The Baron had the worst of the first course, for he had almost been carried out of his saddle. “Hark you, Chicot!” screamed out Tagrag, “next time look to your head!” And next time, sure enough, each aimed at the head of the other.
Tagrag’s spear hit the right place; for it carried off the Baron’s helmet, plume, rose-wreath and all; but his Excellency hit truer still — his lance took Tagrag on the neck, and sent him to the ground like a stone.
“He’s won! he’s won!” says Jemmy, waving her handkerchief; Jemimarann fainted, Lady Blanche screamed, and I felt so sick that I thought I should drop. All the company were in an uproar: only the Baron looked calm, and bowed very gracefully, and kissed his hand to Jemmy; when, all of a sudden, a Jewish-looking man springing over the barrier, and followed by three more, rushed towards the Baron. “Keep the gate, Bob!” he holloas out. “Baron, I arrest you, at the suit of Samuel Levison, for —”
But he never said for what; shouting out, “Aha!” and “Sapprrrristie!” and I don’t know what, his Excellency drew his sword, dug his spurs into his horse, and was over the poor bailiff, and off before another word. He had threatened to run through one of the bailiff’s followers, Mr. Stubbs, only that gentleman made way for him; and when we took up the bailiff, and brought him round by the aid of a little brandy-and-water, he told us all. “I had a writ againsht him, Mishter Coxsh, but I didn’t vant to shpoil shport; and, beshidesh, I didn’t know him until dey knocked off his shteel cap!”
Here was a pretty business!
We had no great reason to brag of our tournament at Tuggeridgeville: but, after all, it was better than the turn-out at Kilblazes, where poor Lord Heydownderry went about in a black velvet dressing-gown, and the Emperor Napoleon Bonypart appeared in a suit of armor and silk stockings, like Mr. Pell’s friend in Pickwick; we, having employed the gentlemen from Astley’s Antitheatre, had some decent sport for our money.
We never heard a word from the Baron, who had so distinguished himself by his horsemanship, and had knocked down (and very justly) Mr. Nabb, the bailiff, and Mr. Stubbs, his man, who came to lay hands upon him. My sweet Jemmy seemed to be very low in spirits after his departure, and a sad thing it is to see her in low spirits: on days of illness she no more minds giving Jemimarann a box on the ear, or sending a plate of muffins across a table at poor me, than she does taking her tea.
Jemmy, I say, was very low in spirits; but, one day (I remember it was the day after Captain Higgins called, and said he had seen the Baron at Boulogne), she vowed that nothing but change of air would do her good, and declared that she should die unless she went to the seaside in France. I knew what this meant, and that I might as well attempt to resist her as to resist her Gracious Majesty in Parliament assembled; so I told the people to pack up the things, and took four places on board the “Grand Turk” steamer for Boulogne.
The travelling-carriage, which, with Jemmy’s thirty-seven boxes and my carpet-bag, was pretty well loaded, was sent on board the night before; and we, after breakfasting in Portland Place (little did I think it was the — but, poh! never mind), went down to the Custom House in the other carriage, followed by a hackney-coach and a cab, with the servants, and fourteen bandboxes and trunks more, which were to be wanted by my dear girl in the journey.
The road down Cheapside and Thames Street need not be described: we saw the Monument, a memento of the wicked Popish massacre of St. Bartholomew; — why erected here I can’t think, as St. Bartholomew is in Smithfield; — we had a glimpse of Billingsgate, and of the Mansion House, where we saw the two-and-twenty-shilling-coal smoke coming out of the chimneys, and were landed at the Custom House in safety. I felt melancholy, for we were going among a people of swindlers, as all Frenchmen are thought to be; and, besides not being able to speak the language, leaving our own dear country and honest countrymen.
Fourteen porters came out, and each took a package with the greatest civility; calling Jemmy her ladyship, and me your honor; ay, and your honoring and my ladyshipping even my man and the maid in the cab. I somehow felt all over quite melancholy at going away. “Here, my fine fellow,” says I to the coachman, who was standing very respectful, holding his hat in one hand and Jemmy’s jewel-case in the other —“Here, my fine chap,” says I, “here’s six shillings for you;” for I did not care for the money.
“Six what?” says he.
“Six shillings, fellow,” shrieks Jemmy, “and twice as much as your fare.”
“Feller, marm!” says this insolent coachman. “Feller yourself, marm: do you think I’m a-going to kill my horses, and break my precious back, and bust my carriage, and carry you, and your kids, and your traps for six hog?” And with this the monster dropped his hat, with my money in it, and doubling his fist put it so very near my nose that I really thought he would have made it bleed. “My fare’s heighteen shillings,” says he, “hain’t it? — hask hany of these gentlemen.”
“Why, it ain’t more than seventeen-and-six,” says one of the fourteen porters; “but if the gen’l’man IS a gen’l’man, he can’t give no less than a suffering anyhow.”
I wanted to resist, and Jemmy screamed like a Turk; but, “Holloa!” says one. “What’s the row?” says another. “Come, dub up!” roars a third. And I don’t mind telling you, in confidence, that I was so frightened that I took out the sovereign and gave it. My man and Jemmy’s maid had disappeared by this time: they always do when there’s a robbery or a row going on.
I was going after them. “Stop, Mr. Ferguson,” pipes a young gentleman of about thirteen, with a red livery waistcoat that reached to his ankles, and every variety of button, pin, string, to keep it together. “Stop, Mr. Heff,” says he, taking a small pipe out of his mouth, “and don’t forgit the cabman.”
“What’s your fare, my lad?” says I.
“Why, let’s see — yes — ho! — my fare’s seven-and-thirty and eightpence eggs — acly.”
The fourteen gentlemen holding the luggage, here burst out and laughed very rudely indeed; and the only person who seemed disappointed was, I thought, the hackney-coachman. “Why, YOU rascal!” says Jemmy, laying hold of the boy, “do you want more than the coachman?”
“Don’t rascal ME, marm!” shrieks the little chap in return. “What’s the coach to me? Vy, you may go in an omlibus for sixpence if you like; vy don’t you go and buss it, marm? Vy did you call my cab, marm? Vy am I to come forty mile, from Scarlot Street, Po’tl’nd Street, Po’tl’nd Place, and not git my fare, marm? Come, give me a suffering and a half, and don’t keep my hoss avaiting all day.” This speech, which takes some time to write down, was made in about the fifth part of a second; and, at the end of it, the young gentleman hurled down his pipe, and, advancing towards Jemmy, doubled his fist, and seemed to challenge her to fight.
My dearest girl now turned from red to be as pale as white Windsor, and fell into my arms. What was I to do? I called “Policeman!” but a policeman won’t interfere in Thames Street; robbery is licensed there. What was I to do? Oh! my heart beats with paternal gratitude when I think of what my Tug did!
As soon as this young cab-chap put himself into a fighting attitude, Master Tuggeridge Coxe — who had been standing by laughing very rudely, I thought — Master Tuggeridge Coxe, I say, flung his jacket suddenly into his mamma’s face (the brass buttons made her start and recovered her a little), and, before we could say a word was in the ring in which we stood (formed by the porters, nine orangemen and women, I don’t know how many newspaper-boys, hotel-cads, and old-clothesmen), and, whirling about two little white fists in the face of the gentleman in the red waistcoat, who brought up a great pair of black ones to bear on the enemy, was engaged in an instant.
But la bless you! Tug hadn’t been at Richmond School for nothing; and MILLED away one, two, right and left — like a little hero as he is, with all his dear mother’s spirit in him. First came a crack which sent a long dusky white hat — that looked damp and deep like a well, and had a long black crape-rag twisted round it — first came a crack which sent this white hat spinning over the gentleman’s cab and scattered among the crowd a vast number of things which the cabman kept in it — such as a ball of string, a piece of candle, a comb, a whip-lash, a little warbler, a slice of bacon, &c. &c.
The cabman seemed sadly ashamed of this display, but Tug gave him no time: another blow was planted on his cheekbone; and a third, which hit him straight on the nose, sent this rude cabman straight down to the ground.
“Brayvo, my lord!” shouted all the people around.
“I won’t have no more, thank yer,” said the little cabman, gathering himself up. “Give us over my fare, vil yer, and let me git away?”
“What’s your fare, NOW, you cowardly little thief?” says Tug.
“Vy, then, two-and-eightpence,” says he. “Go along — you KNOW it is!” and two-and-eightpence he had; and everybody applauded Tug, and hissed the cab-boy, and asked Tug for something to drink. We heard the packet-bell ringing, and all run down the stairs to be in time.
I now thought our troubles would soon be over; mine were, very nearly so, in one sense at least: for after Mrs. Coxe and Jemimarann, and Tug, and the maid, and valet, and valuables had been handed across, it came to my turn. I had often heard of people being taken up by a PLANK, but seldom of their being set down by one. Just as I was going over, the vessel rode off a little, the board slipped, and down I soused into the water. You might have heard Mrs. Coxe’s shriek as far as Gravesend; it rung in my ears as I went down, all grieved at the thought of leaving her a disconsolate widder. Well, up I came again, and caught the brim of my beaver-hat — though I have heard that drowning men catch at straws:— I floated, and hoped to escape by hook or by crook; and, luckily, just then, I felt myself suddenly jerked by the waistband of my whites, and found myself hauled up in the air at the end of a boat-hook, to the sound of “Yeho! yeho! yehoi! yehoi!” and so I was dragged aboard. I was put to bed, and had swallowed so much water that it took a very considerable quantity of brandy to bring it to a proper mixture in my inside. In fact, for some hours I was in a very deplorable state.
Well, we arrived at Boulogne; and Jemmy, after making inquiries, right and left, about the Baron, found that no such person was known there; and being bent, I suppose, at all events, on marrying her daughter to a lord, she determined to set off for Paris, where, as he had often said, he possessed a magnificent —— hotel he called it; — and I remember Jemmy being mightily indignant at the idea; but hotel, we found afterwards, means only a house in French, and this reconciled her. Need I describe the road from Boulogne to Paris? or need I describe that Capitol itself? Suffice it to say, that we made our appearance there, at “Murisse’s Hotel,” as became the family of Coxe Tuggeridge; and saw everything worth seeing in the metropolis in a week. It nearly killed me, to be sure; but, when you’re on a pleasure-party in a foreign country, you must not mind a little inconvenience of this sort.
Well, there is, near the city of Paris, a splendid road and row of trees, which — I don’t know why — is called the Shandeleezy, or Elysian Fields, in French: others, I have heard, call it the Shandeleery; but mine I know to be the correct pronunciation. In the middle of this Shandeleezy is an open space of ground, and a tent where, during the summer, Mr. Franconi, the French Ashley, performs with his horses and things. As everybody went there, and we were told it was quite the thing, Jemmy agreed that we should go too; and go we did.
It’s just like Ashley’s: there’s a man just like Mr. Piddicombe, who goes round the ring in a huzzah-dress, cracking a whip; there are a dozen Miss Woolfords, who appear like Polish princesses, Dihannas, Sultannas, Cachuchas, and heaven knows what! There’s the fat man, who comes in with the twenty-three dresses on, and turns out to be the living skeleton! There’s the clowns, the sawdust, the white horse that dances a hornpipe, the candles stuck in hoops, just as in our own dear country.
My dear wife, in her very finest clothes, with all the world looking at her, was really enjoying this spectacle (which doesn’t require any knowledge of the language, seeing that the dumb animals don’t talk it), when there came in, presently, “the great Polish act of the Sarmatian horse-tamer, on eight steeds,” which we were all of us longing to see. The horse-tamer, to music twenty miles an hour, rushed in on four of his horses, leading the other four, and skurried round the ring. You couldn’t see him for the sawdust, but everybody was delighted, and applauded like mad. Presently, you saw there were only three horses in front: he had slipped one more between his legs, another followed, and it was clear that the consequences would be fatal, if he admitted any more. The people applauded more than ever; and when, at last, seven and eight were made to go in, not wholly, but sliding dexterously in and out, with the others, so that you did not know which was which, the house, I thought, would come down with applause; and the Sarmatian horse-tamer bowed his great feathers to the ground. At last the music grew slower, and he cantered leisurely round the ring; bending, smirking, seesawing, waving his whip, and laying his hand on his heart, just as we have seen the Ashley’s people do. But fancy our astonishment when, suddenly, this Sarmatian horse-tamer, coming round with his four pair at a canter, and being opposite our box, gave a start, and a — hupp! which made all his horses stop stock-still at an instant.
“Albert!” screamed my dear Jemmy: “Albert! Bahbahbah — baron!” The Sarmatian looked at her for a minute; and turning head over heels, three times, bolted suddenly off his horses, and away out of our sight.
It was HIS EXCELLENCY THE BARON DE PUNTER!
Jemmy went off in a fit as usual, and we never saw the Baron again; but we heard, afterwards, that Punter was an apprentice of Franconi’s, and had run away to England, thinking to better himself, and had joined Mr. Richardson’s army; but Mr. Richardson, and then London, did not agree with him; and we saw the last of him as he sprung over the barriers at the Tuggeridgeville tournament.
“Well, Jemimarann,” says Jemmy, in a fury, “you shall marry Tagrag; and if I can’t have a baroness for a daughter, at least you shall be a baronet’s lady.” Poor Jemimarann only sighed: she knew it was of no use to remonstrate.
Paris grew dull to us after this, and we were more eager than ever to go back to London: for what should we hear, but that that monster, Tuggeridge, of the City — old Tug’s black son, forsooth! — was going to contest Jemmy’s claim to the property, and had filed I don’t know how many bills against us in Chancery! Hearing this, we set off immediately, and we arrived at Boulogne, and set off in that very same “Grand Turk” which had brought us to France.
If you look in the bills, you will see that the steamers leave London on Saturday morning, and Boulogne on Saturday night; so that there is often not an hour between the time of arrival and departure. Bless us! bless us! I pity the poor Captain that, for twenty-four hours at a time, is on a paddle-box, roaring out, “Ease her! Stop her!” and the poor servants, who are laying out breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, supper; — breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, supper again; — for layers upon layers of travellers, as it were; and most of all, I pity that unhappy steward, with those unfortunate tin-basins that he must always keep an eye over. Little did we know what a storm was brooding in our absence; and little were we prepared for the awful, awful fate that hung over our Tuggeridgeville property.
Biggs, of the great house of Higgs, Biggs, and Blatherwick, was our man of business: when I arrived in London I heard that he had just set off to Paris after me. So we started down to Tuggeridgeville instead of going to Portland Place. As we came through the lodge-gates, we found a crowd assembled within them; and there was that horrid Tuggeridige on horseback, with a shabby-looking man, called Mr. Scapgoat, and his man of business, and many more. “Mr. Scapgoat,” says Tuggeridge, grinning, and handing him over a sealed paper, “here’s the lease; I leave you in possession, and wish you good morning.”
“In possession of what?” says the rightful lady of Tuggeridgeville, leaning out of the carriage-window. She hated black Tuggeridge, as she called him, like poison: the very first week of our coming to Portland Place, when he called to ask restitution of some plate which he said was his private property, she called him a base-born blackamoor, and told him to quit the house. Since then there had been law squabbles between us without end, and all sorts of writings, meetings, and arbitrations.
“Possession of my estate of Tuggeridgeville, madam,” roars he, “left me by my father’s will, which you have had notice of these three weeks, and know as well as I do.”
“Old Tug left no will,” shrieked Jemmy; “he didn’t die to leave his estates to blackamoors — to negroes — to base-born mulatto story-tellers; if he did may I be ———”
“Oh, hush! dearest mamma,” says Jemimarann. “Go it again, mother!” says Tug, who is always sniggering.
“What is this business, Mr. Tuggeridge?” cried Tagrag (who was the only one of our party that had his senses). “What is this will?”
“Oh, it’s merely a matter of form,” said the lawyer, riding up. “For heaven’s sake, madam, be peaceable; let my friends, Higgs, Biggs, and Blatherwick, arrange with me. I am surprised that none of their people are here. All that you have to do is to eject us; and the rest will follow, of course.”
“Who has taken possession of this here property?” roars Jemmy, again.
“My friend Mr. Scapgoat,” said the lawyer. — Mr. Scapgoat grinned.
“Mr. Scapgoat,” said my wife, shaking her fist at him (for she is a woman of no small spirit), “if you don’t leave this ground I’ll have you pushed out with pitchforks, I will — you and your beggarly blackamoor yonder.” And, suiting the action to the word, she clapped a stable fork into the hands of one of the gardeners, and called another, armed with a rake, to his help, while young Tug set the dog at their heels, and I hurrahed for joy to see such villany so properly treated.
“That’s sufficient, ain’t it?” said Mr. Scapgoat, with the calmest air in the world. “Oh, completely,” said the lawyer. “Mr. Tuggeridge, we’ve ten miles to dinner. Madam, your very humble servant.” And the whole posse of them rode away.
We knew not what this meant, until we received a strange document from Higgs, in London — which begun, “Middlesex to wit. Samuel Cox, late of Portland Place, in the city of Westminster, in the said county, was attached to answer Samuel Scapgoat, of a plea, wherefore, with force and arms, he entered into one messuage, with the appurtenances, which John Tuggeridge, Esq., demised to the said Samuel Scapgoat, for a term which is not yet expired, and ejected him.” And it went on to say that “we, with force of arms, viz, with swords, knives, and staves, had ejected him.” Was there ever such a monstrous falsehood? when we did but stand in defence of our own; and isn’t it a sin that we should have been turned out of our rightful possessions upon such a rascally plea?
Higgs, Biggs, and Blatherwick had evidently been bribed; for would you believe it? — they told us to give up possession at once, as a will was found, and we could not defend the action. My Jemmy refused their proposal with scorn, and laughed at the notion of the will: she pronounced it to be a forgery, a vile blackamoor forgery; and believes, to this day, that the story of its having been made thirty years ago, in Calcutta, and left there with old Tug’s papers, and found there, and brought to England, after a search made by order of Tuggeridge junior, is a scandalous falsehood.
Well, the cause was tried. Why need I say anything concerning it? What shall I say of the Lord Chief Justice, but that he ought to be ashamed of the wig he sits in? What of Mr. —— and Mr. — — who exerted their eloquence against justice and the poor? On our side, too, was no less a man than Mr. Serjeant Binks, who, ashamed I am, for the honor of the British bar, to say it, seemed to have been bribed too: for he actually threw up his case! Had he behaved like Mr. Mulligan, his junior — and to whom, in this humble way, I offer my thanks — all might have been well. I never knew such an effect produced, as when Mr. Mulligan, appearing for the first time in that court, said, “Standing here upon the pidestal of secred Thamis; seeing around me the arnymints of a profission I rispict; having before me a vinnerable judge, and an enlightened jury — the counthry’s glory, the netion’s cheap defender, the poor man’s priceless palladium: how must I thrimble, my lard, how must the blush bejew my cheek —” (somebody cried out, “O CHEEKS!” In the court there was a dreadful roar of laughing; and when order was established, Mr. Mulligan continued:)—“My lard, I heed them not; I come from a counthry accustomed to opprission, and as that counthry — yes, my lard, THAT IRELAND—(do not laugh, I am proud of it)— is ever, in spite of her tyrants, green, and lovely, and beautiful: my client’s cause, likewise, will rise shuperior to the malignant imbecility — I repeat, the MALIGNANT IMBECILITY— of those who would thrample it down; and in whose teeth, in my client’s name, in my counthry’s — ay, and MY OWN— I, with folded arrums, hurl a scarnful and eternal defiance!”
“For heaven’s sake, Mr. Milligan”—(“MULLIGAN, ME LARD,” cried my defender)—“Well, Mulligan, then, be calm, and keep to your brief.”
Mr. Mulligan did; and for three hours and a quarter, in a speech crammed with Latin quotations, and unsurpassed for eloquence, he explained the situation of me and my family; the romantic manner in which Tuggeridge the elder gained his fortune, and by which it afterwards came to my wife; the state of Ireland; the original and virtuous poverty of the Coxes — from which he glanced passionately, for a few minutes (until the judge stopped him), to the poverty of his own country; my excellence as a husband, father, landlord; my wife’s, as a wife, mother, landlady. All was in vain — the trial went against us. I was soon taken in execution for the damages; five hundred pounds of law expenses of my own, and as much more of Tuggeridge’s. He would not pay a farthing, he said, to get me out of a much worse place than the Fleet. I need not tell you that along with the land went the house in town, and the money in the funds. Tuggeridge, he who had thousands before, had it all. And when I was in prison, who do you think would come and see me? None of the Barons, nor Counts, nor Foreign Ambassadors, nor Excellencies, who used to fill our house, and eat and drink at our expense — not even the ungrateful Tagrag!
I could not help now saying to my dear wife, “See, my love, we have been gentlefolks for exactly a year, and a pretty life we have had of it. In the first place, my darling, we gave grand dinners, and everybody laughed at us.”
“Yes, and recollect how ill they made you,” cries my daughter.
“We asked great company, and they insulted us.”
“And spoilt mamma’s temper,” said Jemimarann.
“Hush! Miss,” said her mother; “we don’t want YOUR advice.”
“Then you must make a country gentleman of me.”
“And send Pa into dunghills,” roared Tug.
“Then you must go to operas, and pick up foreign Barons and Counts.”
“Oh, thank heaven, dearest papa, that we are rid of them,” cries my little Jemimarann, looking almost happy, and kissing her old pappy.
“And you must make a fine gentleman of Tug there, and send him to a fine school.”
“And I give you my word,” says Tug, “I’m as ignorant a chap as ever lived.”
“You’re an insolent saucebox,” says Jemmy; “you’ve learned that at your fine school.”
“I’ve learned something else, too, ma’am; ask the boys if I haven’t,” grumbles Tug.
“You hawk your daughter about, and just escape marrying her to a swindler.”
“And drive off poor Orlando,” whimpered my girl.
“Silence! Miss,” says Jemmy, fiercely.
“You insult the man whose father’s property you inherited, and bring me into this prison, without hope of leaving it: for he never can help us after all your bad language.” I said all this very smartly; for the fact is, my blood was up at the time, and I determined to rate my dear girl soundly.
“Oh! Sammy,” said she, sobbing (for the poor thing’s spirit was quite broken), “it’s all true; I’ve been very, very foolish and vain, and I’ve punished my dear husband and children by my follies, and I do so, so repent them!” Here Jemimarann at once burst out crying, and flung herself into her mamma’s arms, and the pair roared and sobbed for ten minutes together. Even Tug looked queer: and as for me, it’s a most extraordinary thing, but I’m blest if seeing them so miserable didn’t make me quite happy. — I don’t think, for the whole twelve months of our good fortune, I had ever felt so gay as in that dismal room in the Fleet, where I was locked up.
Poor Orlando Crump came to see us every day; and we, who had never taken the slightest notice of him in Portland Place, and treated him so cruelly that day at Beulah Spa, were only too glad of his company now. He used to bring books for my girl, and a bottle of sherry for me; and he used to take home Jemmy’s fronts and dress them for her; and when locking-up time came, he used to see the ladies home to their little three-pair bedroom in Holborn, where they slept now, Tug and all. “Can the bird forget its nest?” Orlando used to say (he was a romantic young fellow, that’s the truth, and blew the flute and read Lord Byron incessantly, since he was separated from Jemimarann). “Can the bird, let loose in eastern climes, forget its home? Can the rose cease to remember its beloved bulbul? — Ah, no! Mr. Cox, you made me what I am, and what I hope to die — a hairdresser. I never see a curling-irons before I entered your shop, or knew Naples from brown Windsor. Did you not make over your house, your furniture, your emporium of perfumery, and nine-and-twenty shaving customers, to me? Are these trifles? Is Jemimarann a trifle? if she would allow me to call her so. Oh, Jemimarann, your Pa found me in the workhouse, and made me what I am. Conduct me to my grave, and I never, never shall be different!” When he had said this, Orlando was so much affected, that he rushed suddenly on his hat and quitted the room.
Then Jemimarann began to cry too. “Oh, Pa!” said she, “isn’t he — isn’t he a nice young man?”
“I’m HANGED if he ain’t,” says Tug. “What do you think of his giving me eighteenpence yesterday, and a bottle of lavender-water for Mimarann?”
“He might as well offer to give you back the shop at any rate,” says Jemmy.
“What! to pay Tuggeridge’s damages? My dear, I’d sooner die than give Tuggeridge the chance.”
Tuggeridge vowed that I should finish my days there, when he put me in prison. It appears that we both had reason to be ashamed of ourselves; and were, thank God! I learned to be sorry for my bad feelings toward him, and he actually wrote to me to say —
“SIR — I think you have suffered enough for faults which, I believe, do not lie with you, so much as your wife; and I have withdrawn my claims which I had against you while you were in wrongful possession of my father’s estates. You must remember that when, on examination of my father’s papers, no will was found, I yielded up his property, with perfect willingness, to those who I fancied were his legitimate heirs. For this I received all sorts of insults from your wife and yourself (who acquiesced in them); and when the discovery of a will, in India, proved MY just claims, you must remember how they were met, and the vexatious proceedings with which you sought to oppose them.
“I have discharged your lawyer’s bill; and, as I believe you are more fitted for the trade you formerly exercised than for any other, I will give five hundred pounds for the purchase of a stock and shop, when you shall find one to suit you.
“I enclose a draft for twenty pounds to meet your present expenses. You have, I am told, a son, a boy of some spirit: if he likes to try his fortune abroad, and go on board an Indiaman, I can get him an appointment; and am, Sir, your obedient servant,
It was Mrs. Breadbasket, the housekeeper, who brought this letter, and looked mighty contemptuous as she gave it.
“I hope, Breadbasket, that your master will send me my things at any rate,” cries Jemmy. “There’s seventeen silk and satin dresses, and a whole heap of trinkets, that can be of no earthly use to him.”
“Don’t Breadbasket me, mem, if you please, mem. My master says that them things is quite obnoxious to your sphere of life. Breadbasket, indeed!” And so she sailed out.
Jemmy hadn’t a word; she had grown mighty quiet since we have been in misfortune: but my daughter looked as happy as a queen; and Tug, when he heard of the ship, gave a jump that nearly knocked down poor Orlando. “Ah, I suppose you’ll forget me now?” says he with a sigh; and seemed the only unhappy person in company.
“Why, you conceive, Mr. Crump,” says my wife, with a great deal of dignity, “that, connected as we are, a young man born in a work —”
“Woman!” cried I (for once in my life determined to have my own way), “hold your foolish tongue. Your absurd pride has been the ruin of us hitherto; and, from this day, I’ll have no more of it. Hark ye, Orlando, if you will take Jemimarann, you may have her; and if you’ll take five hundred pounds for a half-share of the shop, they’re yours; and THAT’S for you, Mrs. Cox.”
And here we are, back again. And I write this from the old back shop, where we are all waiting to see the new year in. Orlando sits yonder, plaiting a wig for my Lord Chief Justice, as happy as may be; and Jemimarann and her mother have been as busy as you can imagine all day long, and are just now giving the finishing touches to the bridal-dresses: for the wedding is to take place the day after tomorrow. I’ve cut seventeen heads off (as I say) this very day; and as for Jemmy, I no more mind her than I do the Emperor of China and all his Tambarins. Last night we had a merry meeting of our friends and neighbors, to celebrate our reappearance among them; and very merry we all were. We had a capital fiddler, and we kept it up till a pretty tidy hour this morning. We begun with quadrills, but I never could do ’em well; and after that, to please Mr. Crump and his intended, we tried a gallopard, which I found anything but easy: for since I am come back to a life of peace and comfort, it’s astonishing how stout I’m getting. So we turned at once to what Jemmy and me excels in-a country dance; which is rather surprising, as we was both brought up to a town life. As for young Tug, he showed off in a sailor’s hornpipe: which Mrs. Cox says is very proper for him to learn, now he is intended for the sea. But stop! here comes in the punchbowls; and if we are not happy, who is? I say I am like the Swish people, for I can’t flourish out of my native HAIR.
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