Mrs. Perkin's Ball, by William Makepeace Thackeray

Mr. Larkins.

Mr Larkins

I have not been able to do justice (only a Lawrence could do that) to my respected friend Mrs. Perkins, in this picture; but Larkins’s portrait is considered very like. Adolphus Larkins has been long connected with Mr. Perkins’s City establishment, and is asked to dine twice or thrice per annum. Evening-parties are the great enjoyment of this simple youth, who, after he has walked from Kentish Town to Thames Street, and passed twelve hours in severe labor there, and walked back again to Kentish Town, finds no greater pleasure than to attire his lean person in that elegant evening costume which you see, to walk into town again, and to dance at anybody’s house who will invite him. Islington, Pentonville, Somers Town, are the scenes of many of his exploits; and I have seen this good-natured fellow performing figure-dances at Notting-hill, at a house where I am ashamed to say there was no supper, no negus even to speak of, nothing but the bare merits of the polka in which Adolphus revels. To describe this gentleman’s infatuation for dancing, let me say, in a word, that he will even frequent boarding-house hops, rather than not go.

He has clogs, too, like Minchin: but nobody laughs at HIM. He gives himself no airs; but walks into a house with a knock and a demeanor so tremulous and humble, that the servants rather patronize him. He does not speak, or have any particular opinions, but when the time comes, begins to dance. He bleats out a word or two to his partner during this operation, seems very weak and sad during the whole performance, and, of course, is set to dance with the ugliest women everywhere.

The gentle, kind spirit! when I think of him night after night, hopping and jigging, and trudging off to Kentish Town, so gently, through the fogs, and mud, and darkness: I do not know whether I ought to admire him, because his enjoyments are so simple, and his dispositions so kindly; or laugh at him, because he draws his life so exquisitely mild. Well, well, we can’t be all roaring lions in this world; there must be SOME lambs, and harmless, kindly, gregarious creatures for eating and shearing. See! even good-natured Mrs. Perkins is leading up the trembling Larkins to the tremendous Miss Bunion!

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00