on the Rhine by William Makepeace Thackeray
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION:
BEING AN ESSAY ON THUNDER AND SMALL BEER.
Any reader who may have a fancy to purchase a copy of this present
edition of the "History of the Kickleburys Abroad," had best be
warned in time, that the Times newspaper does not approve of the
work, and has but a bad opinion both of the author and his readers.
Nothing can be fairer than this statement: if you happen to take up
the poor little volume at a railroad station, and read this sentence,
lay the book down, and buy something else. You are warned. What more
can the author say? If after this you WILL buy,—amen! pay your
money, take your book, and fall to. Between ourselves, honest reader,
it is no very strong potation which the present purveyor offers to
you. It will not trouble your head much in the drinking. It was
intended for that sort of negus which is offered at Christmas parties
and of which ladies and children may partake with refreshment and
cheerfulness. Last year I tried a brew which was old, bitter, and
strong; and scarce any one would drink it. This year we send round a
milder tap, and it is liked by customers: though the critics (who like
strong ale, the rogues!) turn up their noses. In heaven's name, Mr.
Smith, serve round the liquor to the gentle-folks. Pray, dear madam,
another glass; it is Christmas time, it will do you no harm. It is
not intended to keep long, this sort of drink. (Come, froth up, Mr.
Publisher, and pass quickly round!) And as for the professional
gentlemen, we must get a stronger sort for THEM some day.
The Times' gentleman (a very difficult gent to please) is the
loudest and noisiest of all, and has made more hideous faces over the
refreshment offered to him than any other critic. There is no use
shirking this statement! when a man has been abused in the Times, he
can't hide it, any more than he could hide the knowledge of his having
been committed to prison by Mr. Henry, or publicly caned in Pall Mall.
You see it in your friends' eyes when they meet you. They know it.
They have chuckled over it to a man. They whisper about it at the
club, and look over the paper at you. My next-door neighbor came to
see me this morning, and I saw by his face that he had the whole story
pat. "Hem!" says he, "well, I HAVE heard of it; and the fact is, they
were talking about you at dinner last night, and mentioning that the
Times had—ahem!— 'walked into you.'"
"My good M——" I say—and M—— will corroborate, if need be, the
statement I make here—"here is the Times' article, dated January
4th, which states so and so, and here is a letter from the publisher,
likewise dated January 4th, and which says:—
"MY DEAR Sir,—Having this day sold the last copy of the first
edition (of x thousand) of the 'Kickleburys Abroad,' and having
orders for more, had we not better proceed to a second edition? and
will you permit me to enclose an order on,"
Singular coincidence! And if every author who was so abused by a
critic had a similar note from a publisher, good Lord! how easily
would we take the critic's censure!
"Yes, yes," you say; "it is all very well for a writer to affect to
be indifferent to a critique from the Times. You bear it as a boy
bears a flogging at school, without crying out; but don't swagger and
brag as if you liked it."
Let us have truth before all. I would rather have a good word than
a bad one from any person: but if a critic abuses me from a high
place, and it is worth my while, I will appeal. If I can show that
the judge who is delivering sentence against me, and laying down the
law and making a pretence of learning, has no learning and no law, and
is neither more nor less than a pompous noodle, who ought not to be
heard in any respectable court, I will do so; and then, dear friends,
perhaps you will have something to laugh at in this book.—
"THE KICKLEBURYS ABROAD.
"It has been customary, of late years, for the purveyors of amusing
literature—the popular authors of the day—to put forth certain
opuscules, denominated 'Christmas Books,' with the ostensible
intention of swelling the tide of exhilaration, or other expansive
emotions, incident upon the exodus of the old and the inauguration of
the new year. We have said that their ostensible intention was such,
because there is another motive for these productions, locked up (as
the popular author deems) in his own breast, but which betrays itself,
in the quality of the work, as his principal incentive. Oh! that any
muse should be set upon a high stool to cast up accounts and balance a
ledger! Yet so it is; and the popular author finds it convenient to
fill up the declared deficit, and place himself in a position the more
effectually to encounter those liabilities which sternly assert
themselves contemporaneously and in contrast with the careless and
free-handed tendencies of the season by the emission of Christmas
books—a kind of literary assignats, representing to the emitter
expunged debts, to the receiver an investment of enigmatical value.
For the most part bearing the stamp of their origin in the vacuity of
the writer's exchequer rather than in the fulness of his genius, they
suggest by their feeble flavor the rinsings of a void brain after the
more important concoctions of the expired year. Indeed, we should as
little think of taking these compositions as examples of the merits
of their authors as we should think of measuring the valuable
services of Mr. Walker, the postman, or Mr. Bell, the dust-
collector, by the copy of verses they leave at our doors as a
provocative of the expected annual gratuity—effusions with which
they may fairly be classed for their intrinsic worth no less than
their ultimate purport.
"In the Christmas book presently under notice, the author appears
(under the thin disguise of Mr. Michael Angelo Titmarsh) in 'propria
persona' as the popular author, the contributor to Punch, the
remorseless pursuer of unconscious vulgarity and feeble- mindedness,
launched upon a tour of relaxation to the Rhine. But though
exercising, as is the wont of popular authors in their moments of
leisure, a plentiful reserve of those higher qualities to which they
are indebted for their fame, his professional instincts are not
altogether in abeyance. From the moment his eye lights upon a
luckless family group embarked on the same steamer with himself, the
sight of his accustomed quarry—vulgarity, imbecility, and
affectation—reanimates his relaxed sinews, and, playfully fastening
his satiric fangs upon the familiar prey, he dallies with it in mimic
ferocity like a satiated mouser.
"Though faintly and carelessly indicated, the characters are those
with which the author loves to surround himself. A tuft-hunting
county baronet's widow, an inane captain of dragoons, a graceless
young baronet, a lady with groundless pretensions to feeble health
and poesy, an obsequious nonentity her husband, and a flimsy and
artificial young lady, are the personages in whom we are expected to
find amusement. Two individuals alone form an exception to the above
category, and are offered to the respectful admiration of the
reader,—the one, a shadowy serjeant-at-law, Mr. Titmarsh's
travelling companion, who escapes with a few side puffs of flattery,
which the author struggles not to render ironical, and a mysterious
countess, spoken of in a tone of religious reverence, and apparently
introduced that we may learn by what delicate discriminations our
adoration of rank should be regulated.
"To those who love to hug themselves in a sense of superiority by
admeasurement with the most worthless of their species, in their most
worthless aspects, the Kickleburys on the Rhine will afford an
agreeable treat, especially as the purveyor of the feast offers his
own moments of human weakness as a modest entree in this banquet of
erring mortality. To our own, perhaps unphilosophical, taste the
aspirations towards sentimental perfection of another popular author
are infinitely preferable to these sardonic divings after the pearl of
truth, whose lustre is eclipsed in the display of the diseased oyster.
Much, in the present instance, perhaps all, the disagreeable effect
of his subject is no doubt attributable to the absence of Mr.
Thackeray's usual brilliancy of style. A few flashes, however, occur,
such as the description of M. Lenoir's gaming establishment, with the
momentous crisis to which it was subjected, and the quaint and
imaginative sallies evoked by the whole town of Rougetnoirbourg and
its lawful prince. These, with the illustrations, which are spirited
enough, redeem the book from an absolute ban. Mr. Thackeray's pencil
is more congenial than his pen. He cannot draw his men and women with
their skins off, and, therefore, the effigies of his characters are
pleasanter to contemplate than the flayed anatomies of the
There is the whole article. And the reader will see (in the
paragraph preceding that memorable one which winds up with the
diseased oyster) that he must be a worthless creature for daring to
like the book, as he could only do so from a desire to hug himself in
a sense of superiority by admeasurement with the most worthless of his
The reader is worthless for liking a book of which all the
characters are worthless, except two, which are offered to his
respectful admiration; and of these two the author does not respect
one, but struggles not to laugh in his face; whilst he apparently
speaks of another in a tone of religious reverence, because the lady
is a countess, and because he (the author) is a sneak. So reader,
author, characters, are rogues all. Be there any honest men left,
Hal? About Printing-house Square, mayhap you may light on an honest
man, a squeamish man, a proper moral man, a man that shall talk you
Latin by the half-column if you will but hear him.
And what a style it is, that great man's! What hoighth of foine
language entoirely! How he can discoorse you in English for all the
world as if it was Latin! For instance, suppose you and I had to
announce the important news that some writers published what are
called Christmas books; that Christmas books are so called because
they are published at Christmas: and that the purpose of the authors
is to try and amuse people. Suppose, I say, we had, by the sheer
force of intellect, or by other means of observation or information,
discovered these great truths, we should have announced them in so
many words. And there it is that the difference lies between a great
writer and a poor one; and we may see how an inferior man may fling a
chance away. How does my friend of the Times put these propositions?
"It has been customary," says he, "of late years for the purveyors of
amusing literature to put forth certain opuscules, denominated
Christmas books, with the ostensible intention of swelling the tide of
exhilaration, or other expansive emotions, incident upon the exodus
of the old or the inauguration of the new year." That is something
like a sentence; not a word scarcely but's in Latin, and the longest
and handsomest out of the whole dictionary. That is proper
economy—as you see a buck from Holywell Street put every pinchbeck
pin, ring, and chain which he possesses about his shirt, hands, and
waistcoat, and then go and cut a dash in the Park, or swagger with
his order to the theatre. It costs him no more to wear all his
ornaments about his distinguished person than to leave them at home.
If you can be a swell at a cheap rate, why not? And I protest, for
my part, I had no idea what I was really about in writing and
submitting my little book for sale, until my friend the critic,
looking at the article, and examining it with the eyes of a
connoisseur, pronounced that what I had fancied simply to be a book
was in fact "an opuscule denominated so-and-so, and ostensibly
intended to swell the tide of expansive emotion incident upon the
inauguration of the new year." I can hardly believe as much even
now—so little do we know what we really are after, until men of
genius come and interpret.
And besides the ostensible intention, the reader will perceive that
my judge has discovered another latent motive, which I had "locked up
in my own breast." The sly rogue! (if we may so speak of the court.)
There is no keeping anything from him; and this truth, like the rest,
has come out, and is all over England by this time. Oh, that all
England, which has bought the judge's charge, would purchase the
prisoner's plea in mitigation! "Oh, that any muse should be set on a
high stool," says the bench, "to cast up accounts and balance a
ledger! Yet so it is; and the popular author finds it convenient to
fill up the declared deficit by the emission of Christmas books—a
kind of assignats that bear the stamp of their origin in the vacuity
of the writer's exchequer." There is a trope for you! You rascal, you
wrote because you wanted money! His lordship has found out what you
were at, and that there is a deficit in your till. But he goes on to
say that we poor devils are to be pitied in our necessity; and that
these compositions are no more to be taken as examples of our merits
than the verses which the dustman leaves at his lordship's door, "as a
provocative of the expected annual gratuity," are to be considered as
measuring his, the scavenger's, valuable services—nevertheless the
author's and the scavenger's "effusions may fairly be classed, for
their intrinsic worth, no less than their ultimate purport."
Heaven bless his lordship on the bench—What a gentle manlike
badinage he has, and what a charming and playful wit always at hand!
What a sense he has for a simile, or what Mrs. Malaprop calls an
odorous comparison, and how gracefully he conducts it to "its ultimate
purport." A gentleman writing a poor little book is a scavenger
asking for a Christmas-box!
As I try this small beer which has called down such a deal of
thunder, I can't help thinking that it is not Jove who has interfered
(the case was scarce worthy of his divine vindictiveness); but the
Thunderer's man, Jupiter Jeames, taking his master's place, adopting
his manner, and trying to dazzle and roar like his awful employer.
That figure of the dustman has hardly been flung from heaven: that
"ultimate purport" is a subject which the Immortal would hardly
handle. Well, well; let us allow that the book is not worthy of such
a polite critic—that the beer is not strong enough for a gentleman
who has taste and experience in beer.
That opinion no man can ask his honor to alter; but (the beer being
the question), why make unpleasant allusions to the Gazette, and hint
at the probable bankruptcy of the brewer? Why twit me with my
poverty; and what can the Times' critic know about the vacuity of my
exchequer? Did he ever lend me any money? Does he not himself write
for money? (and who would grudge it to such a polite and generous and
learned author?) If he finds no disgrace in being paid, why should I?
If he has ever been poor, why should he joke at my empty exchequer?
Of course such a genius is paid for his work: with such neat logic,
such a pure style, such a charming poetical turn of phrase, of course
a critic gets money. Why, a man who can say of a Christmas book that
"it is an opuscule denominated so-and-so, and ostensibly intended to
swell the tide of expansive emotion incident upon the exodus of the
old year," must evidently have had immense sums and care expended on
his early education, and deserves a splendid return. You can't go
into the market, and get scholarship like THAT, without paying for it:
even the flogging that such a writer must have had in early youth (if
he was at a public school where the rods were paid for), must have
cost his parents a good sum. Where would you find any but an
accomplished classical scholar to compare the books of the present (or
indeed any other) writer to "sardonic divings after the pearl of
truth, whose lustre is eclipsed in the display of the diseased
oyster;" mere Billingsgate doesn't turn out oysters like these; they
are of the Lucrine lake:—this satirist has pickled his rods in Latin
brine. Fancy, not merely a diver, but a sardonic diver: and the
expression of his confounded countenance on discovering not only a
pearl, but an eclipsed pearl, which was in a diseased oyster! I say
it is only by an uncommon and happy combination of taste, genius, and
industry, that a man can arrive at uttering such sentiments in such
fine language,—that such a man ought to be well paid, as I have no
doubt he is, and that he is worthily employed to write literary
articles, in large type, in the leading journal of Europe. Don't we
want men of eminence and polite learning to sit on the literary bench,
and to direct the public opinion?
But when this profound scholar compares me to a scavenger who
leaves a copy of verses at his door and begs for a Christmas-box, I
must again cry out and say, "My dear sir, it is true your simile is
offensive, but can you make it out? Are you not hasty in your
figures and illusions?" If I might give a hint to so consummate a
rhetorician, you should be more careful in making your figures
figures, and your similes like: for instance, when you talk of a book
"swelling the tide of exhilaration incident to the inauguration of the
new year," or of a book "bearing the stamp of its origin in vacuity,"
of a man diving sardonically; or of a pearl eclipsed in the display of
a diseased oyster—there are some people who will not apprehend your
meaning: some will doubt whether you had a meaning: some even will
question your great powers, and say, "Is this man to be a critic in a
newspaper, which knows what English, and Latin too, and what sense and
scholarship, are?" I don't quarrel with you—I take for granted your
wit and learning, your modesty and benevolence—but why
scavenger—Jupiter Jeames—why scavenger? A gentleman, whose
biography the Examiner was fond of quoting before it took its present
serious and orthodox turn, was pursued by an outraged wife to the very
last stage of his existence with an appeal almost as pathetic—Ah,
sir, why scavenger?
How can I be like a dustman that rings for a Christmas-box at your
hall-door? I never was there in my life. I never left at your door
a copy of verses provocative of an annual gratuity, as your noble
honor styles it. Who are you? If you are the man I take you to be,
it must have been you who asked the publisher for my book, and not I
who sent it in, and begged a gratuity of your worship. You abused me
out of the Times' window; but if ever your noble honor sent me a
gratuity out of your own door, may I never drive another dust-cart.
"Provocative of a gratuity!" O splendid swell! How much was it your
worship sent out to me by the footman? Every farthing you have paid I
will restore to your lordship, and I swear I shall not be a halfpenny
As before, and on similar seasons and occasions, I have compared
myself to a person following a not dissimilar calling: let me suppose
now, for a minute, that I am a writer of a Christmas farce, who sits
in the pit, and sees the performance of his own piece. There comes
applause, hissing, yawning, laughter, as may be: but the loudest
critic of all is our friend the cheap buck, who sits yonder and makes
his remarks, so that all the audience may hear. "THIS a farce!" says
Beau Tibbs: "demmy! it's the work of a poor devil who writes for
money,—confound his vulgarity! This a farce! Why isn't it a tragedy,
or a comedy, or an epic poem, stap my vitals? This a farce indeed!
It's a feller as sends round his 'at, and appeals to charity. Let's
'ave our money back again, I say." And he swaggers off;—and you find
the fellow came with an author's order.
But if, in spite of Tibbs, our "kyind friends," the little farce,
which was meant to amuse Christmas (or what my classical friend calls
Exodus), is asked for, even up to Twelfth Night,—shall the publisher
stop because Tibbs is dissatisfied? Whenever that capitalist calls to
get his money back, he may see the letter from the respected
publisher, informing the author that all the copies are sold, and that
there are demands for a new edition. Up with the curtain, then!
Vivat Regina! and no money returned, except the Times "gratuity!"
M. A. TITMARSH.
January 5, 1851.
THE KICKLEBURYS ON THE RHINE.
The cabman, when he brought us to the wharf, and made his usual
charge of six times his legal fare, before the settlement of which he
pretended to refuse the privilege of an exeat regno to our luggage,
glared like a disappointed fiend when Lankin, calling up the faithful
Hutchison, his clerk, who was in attendance, said to him, "Hutchison,
you will pay this man. My name is Serjeant Lankin, my chambers are in
Pump Court. My clerk will settle with you, sir." The cabman
trembled; we stepped on board; our lightsome luggage was speedily
whisked away by the crew; our berths had been secured by the previous
agency of Hutchison; and a couple of tickets, on which were written,
"Mr. Serjeant Lankin," "Mr. Titmarsh," (Lankin's, by the way,
incomparably the best and comfortablest sleeping place,) were pinned
on to two of the curtains of the beds in a side cabin when we
Who was on board? There were Jews, with Sunday papers and fruit;
there were couriers and servants straggling about; there were those
bearded foreign visitors of England, who always seem to decline to
shave or wash themselves on the day of a voyage, and, on the eve of
quitting our country, appear inclined to carry away as much as
possible of its soil on their hands and linen: there were parties
already cozily established on deck under the awning; and steady-
going travellers for'ard, smoking already the pleasant morning cigar,
and watching the phenomena of departure.
The bell rings: they leave off bawling, "Anybody else for the
shore?" The last grape and Bell's Life merchant has scuffled over
the plank: the Johns of the departing nobility and gentry line the
brink of the quay, and touch their hats: Hutchison touches his hat to
me—to ME, heaven bless him! I turn round inexpressibly affected and
delighted, and whom do I see but Captain Hicks!
"Hallo! YOU here?" says Hicks, in a tone which seems to mean,
"Confound you, you are everywhere."
Hicks is one of those young men who seem to be everywhere a great
deal too often.
How are they always getting leave from their regiments? If they
are not wanted in this country, (as wanted they cannot be, for you
see them sprawling over the railing in Rotten Row all day, and
shaking their heels at every ball in town,)—if they are not wanted
in this country, I say, why the deuce are they not sent off to India,
or to Demerara, or to Sierra Leone, by Jove?—the farther the better;
and I should wish a good unwholesome climate to try 'em, and make 'em
hardy. Here is this Hicks, then—Captain Launcelot Hicks, if you
please—whose life is nothing but breakfast, smoking, riding-school,
billiards, mess, polking, billiards, and smoking again, and da
capo—pulling down his moustaches, and going to take a tour after the
immense labors of the season.
"How do you do, Captain Hicks?" I say. "Where are you going?"
"Oh, I am going to the Whine," says Hicks; "evewybody goes to the
Whine." The WHINE indeed! I dare say he can no more spell properly
than he can speak.
"Who is on board—anybody?" I ask, with the air of a man of
fashion. "To whom does that immense pile of luggage belong—under
charge of the lady's-maid, the courier, and the British footman? A
large white K is painted on all the boxes."
"How the deuce should I know?" says Hicks, looking, as I fancy,
both red and angry, and strutting off with his great cavalry lurch
and swagger: whilst my friend the Serjeant looks at him lost in
admiration, and surveys his shining little boots, his chains and
breloques, his whiskers and ambrosial moustaches, his gloves and
other dandifications, with a pleased wonder; as the ladies of the
Sultan's harem surveyed the great Lady from Park Lane who paid them a
visit; or the simple subjects of Montezuma looked at one of Cortes's
"That must be a marquis at least," whispers Lankin, who consults me
on points of society, and is pleased to have a great opinion of my
I burst out in a scornful laugh. "THAT!" I say; "he is a captain
of dragoons, and his father an attorney in Bedford Row. The whiskers
of a roturier, my good Lankin, grow as long as the beard of a
Plantagenet. It don't require much noble blood to learn the polka.
If you were younger, Lankin, we might go for a shilling a night, and
dance every evening at M. Laurent's Casino, and skip about in a little
time as well as that fellow. Only we despise the kind of thing you
know,—only we're too grave, and too steady."
"And too fat," whispers Lankin, with a laugh.
"Speak for yourself, you maypole," says I. "If you can't dance
yourself, people can dance round you—put a wreath of flowers upon
your old poll, stick you up in a village green, and so make use of
"I should gladly be turned into anything so pleasant," Lankin
answers; "and so, at least, get a chance of seeing a pretty girl now
and then. They don't show in Pump Court, or at the University Club,
where I dine. You are a lucky fellow, Titmarsh, and go about in the
world. As for me, I never—"
"And the judges' wives, you rogue?" I say. "Well, no man is
satisfied; and the only reason I have to be angry with the captain
yonder is, that, the other night, at Mrs. Perkins's, being in
conversation with a charming young creature—who knows all my
favorite passages in Tennyson, and takes a most delightful little
line of opposition in the Church controversy—just as we were in the
very closest, dearest, pleasantest part of the talk, comes up young
Hotspur yonder, and whisks her away in a polka. What have you and I
to do with polkas, Lankin? He took her down to supper— what have you
and I to do with suppers?"
"Our duty is to leave them alone," said the philosophical Serjeant.
"And now about breakfast—shall we have some?" And as he spoke, a
savory little procession of stewards and stewards' boys, with drab
tin dish-covers, passed from the caboose, and descended the stairs to
the cabin. The vessel had passed Greenwich by this time, and had
worked its way out of the mast-forest which guards the approaches of
The owners of those innumerable boxes, bags, oil-skins, guitar-
cases, whereon the letter K was engraven, appeared to be three
ladies, with a slim gentleman of two or three and thirty, who was
probably the husband of one of them. He had numberless shawls under
his arm and guardianship. He had a strap full of Murray's Handbooks
and Continental Guides in his keeping; and a little collection of
parasols and umbrellas, bound together, and to be carried in state
before the chief of the party, like the lictor's fasces before the
The chief of the party was evidently the stout lady. One parasol
being left free, she waved it about, and commanded the luggage and
the menials to and fro. "Horace, we will sit there," she exclaimed,
pointing to a comfortable place on the deck. Horace went and placed
the shawls and the Guidebooks. "Hirsch, avy vou conty les bagages?
tront sett morso ong too?" The German courier said, "Oui, miladi,"
and bowed a rather sulky assent. "Bowman, you will see that Finch is
comfortable, and send her to me." The gigantic Bowman, a gentleman in
an undress uniform, with very large and splendid armorial buttons, and
with traces of the powder of the season still lingering in his hair,
bows, and speeds upon my lady's errand.
I recognize Hirsch, a well-known face upon the European high-road,
where he has travelled with many acquaintances. With whom is he
making the tour now?—Mr. Hirsch is acting as courier to Mr. and Mrs.
Horace Milliken. They have not been married many months, and they are
travelling, Hirsch says, with a contraction of his bushy eyebrows,
with miladi, Mrs. Milliken's mamma. "And who is her ladyship?"
Hirsch's brow contracts into deeper furrows. "It is Miladi
Gigglebury," he says, "Mr. Didmarsh. Berhabs you know her." He scowls
round at her, as she calls out loudly, "Hirsch, Hirsch!" and obeys
It is the great Lady Kicklebury of Pocklington Square, about whom I
remember Mrs. Perkins made so much ado at her last ball; and whom old
Perkins conducted to supper. When Sir Thomas Kicklebury died (he was
one of the first tenants of the Square), who does not remember the
scutcheon with the coronet with two balls, that flamed over No. 36?
Her son was at Eton then, and has subsequently taken an honorary
degree at Oxford, and been an ornament of Platt's and the "Oswestry
Club." He fled into St. James's from the great house in Pocklington
Square, and from St. James's to Italy and the Mediterranean, where he
has been for some time in a wholesome exile. Her eldest daughter's
marriage with Lord Roughhead was talked about last year; but Lord
Roughhead, it is known, married Miss Brent; and Horace Milliken, very
much to his surprise, found himself the affianced husband of Miss
Lavinia Kicklebury, after an agitating evening at Lady Polkimore's,
when Miss Lavinia, feeling herself faint, went out on to the leads
(the terrace, Lady Polkimore WILL call it), on the arm of Mr.
Milliken. They were married in January: it's not a bad match for Miss
K. Lady Kicklebury goes and stops for six months of the year at
Pigeoncot with her daughter and son-in-law; and now that they are come
abroad, she comes too. She must be with Lavinia, under the present
When I am arm-in-arm, I tell this story glibly off to Lankin, who
is astonished at my knowledge of the world, and says, "Why, Titmarsh,
you know everything."
"I DO know a few things, Lankin my boy," is my answer. "A man
don't live in society, and PRETTY GOOD society, let me tell you, for
The fact is, that all the above details are known to almost any man
in our neighborhood. Lady Kicklebury does not meet with US much, and
has greater folks than we can pretend to be at her parties. But we
know about THEM. She'll condescend to come to Perkins's, WITH WHOSE
FIRM SHE BANKS; and she MAY overdraw HER ACCOUNT: but of that, of
course, I know nothing.
When Lankin and I go down stairs to breakfast, we find, if not the
best, at least the most conspicuous places in occupation of Lady
Kicklebury's party, and the hulking London footman making a darkness
in the cabin, as he stoops through it bearing cups and plates to his
[Why do they always put mud into coffee on board steamers? Why
does the tea generally taste of boiled boots? Why is the milk scarce
and thin? And why do they have those bleeding legs of boiled mutton
for dinner? I ask why? In the steamers of other nations you are well
fed. Is it impossible that Britannia, who confessedly rules the
waves, should attend to the victuals a little, and that meat should be
well cooked under a Union Jack? I just put in this question, this
most interesting question, in a momentous parenthesis, and resume the
When Lankin and I descend to the cabin, then, the tables are full
of gobbling people; and, though there DO seem to be a couple of
places near Lady Kicklebury, immediately she sees our eyes directed
to the inviting gap, she slides out, and with her ample robe covers
even more than that large space to which by art and nature she is
entitled, and calling out, "Horace, Horace!" and nodding, and
winking, and pointing, she causes her son-in-law to extend the wing
on his side. We are cut of THAT chance of a breakfast. We shall
have the tea at its third water, and those two damp black mutton-
chops, which nobody else will take, will fall to our cold share.
At this minute a voice, clear and sweet, from a tall lady in a
black veil, says, "Mr. Titmarsh," and I start and murmur an
ejaculation of respectful surprise, as I recognize no less a person
than the Right Honorable the Countess of Knightsbridge, taking her
tea, breaking up little bits of toast with her slim fingers, and
sitting between a Belgian horse-dealer and a German violoncello-
player who has a conge after the opera—like any other mortal.
I whisper her ladyship's name to Lankin. The Serjeant looks
towards her with curiosity and awe. Even he, in his Pump Court
solitudes, has heard of that star of fashion—that admired amongst
men, and even women—that Diana severe yet simple, the accomplished
Aurelia of Knightsbridge. Her husband has but a small share of HER
qualities. How should he? The turf and the fox-chase are his
delights—the smoking-room at the "Travellers'"—nay, shall we say
it?—the illuminated arcades of "Vauxhall," and the gambols of the
dishevelled Terpsichore. Knightsbridge has his faults—ah! even the
peerage of England is not exempt from them. With Diana for his wife,
he flies the halls where she sits severe and serene, and is to be
found (shrouded in smoke, 'tis true,) in those caves where the
contrite chimney-sweep sings his terrible death chant, or the
Bacchanalian judge administers a satiric law. Lord Knightsbridge has
his faults, then; but he has the gout at Rougetnoirbourg, near the
Rhine, and thither his wife is hastening to minister to him.
"I have done," says Lady Knightsbridge, with a gentle bow, as she
rises; "you may have this place, Mr. Titmarsh; and I am sorry my
breakfast is over: I should have prolonged it had I thought that YOU
were coming to sit by me. Thank you—my glove." (Such an absurd
little glove, by the way). "We shall meet on the deck when you have
And she moves away with an august curtsy. I can't tell how it is,
or what it is, in that lady; but she says, "How do you do?" as nobody
else knows how to say it. In all her actions, motions, thoughts, I
would wager there is the same calm grace and harmony. She is not very
handsome, being very thin, and rather sad-looking. She is not very
witty, being only up to the conversation, whatever it may be; and yet,
if she were in black serge, I think one could not help seeing that she
was a Princess, and Serene Highness; and if she were a hundred years
old, she could not be but beautiful. I saw her performing her
devotions in Antwerp Cathedral, and forgot to look at anything else
there;—so calm and pure, such a sainted figure hers seemed.
When this great lady did the present writer the honor to shake his
hand (I had the honor to teach writing and the rudiments of Latin to
the young and intelligent Lord Viscount Pimlico), there seemed to be a
commotion in the Kicklebury party—heads were nodded together, and
turned towards Lady Knightsbridge: in whose honor, when Lady
Kicklebury had sufficiently reconnoitred her with her eye-glass, the
baronet's lady rose and swept a reverential curtsy, backing until she
fell up against the cushions at the stern of the boat. Lady
Knightsbridge did not see this salute, for she did not acknowledge it,
but walked away slimly (she seems to glide in and out of the room),
and disappeared up the stair to the deck.
Lankin and I took our places, the horse-dealer making room for us;
and I could not help looking, with a little air of triumph, over to
the Kicklebury faction, as much as to say, "You fine folks, with your
large footman and supercilious airs, see what WE can do."
As I looked—smiling, and nodding, and laughing at me, in a
knowing, pretty way, and then leaning to mamma as if in explanation,
what face should I see but that of the young lady at Mrs. Perkins's,
with whom I had had that pleasant conversation which had been
interrupted by the demand of Captain Hicks for a dance? So, then,
that was Miss Kicklebury, about whom Miss Perkins, my young friend,
has so often spoken to me: the young ladies were in conversation when
I had the happiness of joining them; and Miss P. went away presently,
to look to her guests)—that is Miss Fanny Kicklebury.
A sudden pang shot athwart my bosom—Lankin might have perceived
it, but the honest Serjeant was so awe-stricken by his late interview
with the Countess of Knightsbridge, that his mind was unfit to grapple
with other subjects—a pang of feeling (which I concealed under the
grin and graceful bow wherewith Miss Fanny's salutations were
acknowledged) tore my heart-strings—as I thought of—I need not
He had danced with her, he had supped with her—he was here, on
board the boat. Where was that dragoon? I looked round for him. In
quite a far corner,—but so that he could command the Kicklebury
party, I thought,—he was eating his breakfast, the great healthy
oaf, and consuming one broiled egg after another.
In the course of the afternoon, all parties, as it may be supposed,
emerged upon deck again, and Miss Fanny and her mamma began walking
the quarter-deck with a quick pace, like a couple of post-captains.
When Miss Fanny saw me, she stopped and smiled, and recognized the
gentleman who had amused her so at Mrs. Perkins's. What a dear sweet
creature Eliza Perkins was! They had been at school together. She
was going to write to Eliza everything that happened on the voyage.
"EVERYTHING?" I said, in my particularly sarcastic manner.
"Well, everything that was worth telling. There was a great number
of things that were very stupid, and of people that were very stupid.
Everything that YOU say, Mr. Titmarsh, I am sure I may put down. You
have seen Mr. Titmarsh's funny books, mamma?"
Mamma said she had heard—she had no doubt they were very amusing.
"Was not that—ahem—Lady Knightsbridge, to whom I saw you speaking,
"Yes; she is going to nurse Lord Knightsbridge, who has the gout at
"Indeed! how very fortunate! what an extraordinary coincidence! We
are going too," said Lady Kicklebury.
I remarked "that everybody was going to Rougetnoirbourg this year;
and I heard of two gentlemen—Count Carambole and Colonel Cannon—
who had been obliged to sleep there on a billiard-table for want of a
"My son Kicklebury—are you acquainted with Sir Thomas Kicklebury?"
her ladyship said, with great stateliness—"is at Noirbourg, and will
take lodgings for us. The springs are particularly recommended for my
daughter, Mrs. Milliken and, at great personal sacrifice, I am going
thither myself:, but what will not a mother do, Mr. Titmarsh? Did I
understand you to say that you have the— the entree at Knightsbridge
House? The parties are not what they used to be, I am told. Not that
I have any knowledge. I am but a poor country baronet's widow, Mr.
Titmarsh; though the Kickleburys date from Henry III., and MY family
is not of the most modern in the country. You have heard of General
Guff, my father, perhaps? aide-de-camp to the Duke of York, and
wounded by his Royal Highness's side at the bombardment of
Valenciennes. WE move IN OUR OWN SPHERE."
"Mrs. Perkins is a very kind creature," I said, "and it was a very
pleasant ball. Did you not think so, Miss Kicklebury?"
"I thought it odious," said Miss Fanny. "I mean, it WAS pleasant
until that—that stupid man—what was his name?—came and took me
away to dance with him."
"What! don't you care for a red coat and moustaches?" I asked.
"I adore genius, Mr. Titmarsh," said the young lady, with a most
killing look of her beautiful blue eyes, "and I have every one of
your works by heart—all, except the last, which I can't endure. I
think it's wicked, positively wicked—My darling Scott—how can you?
And are you going to make a Christmas-book this year?"
"Shall I tell you about it?"
"Oh, do tell us about it," said the lively, charming creature,
clapping her hands: and we began to talk, being near Lavinia (Mrs.
Milliken) and her husband, who was ceaselessly occupied in fetching
and carrying books, biscuits, pillows and cloaks, scent-bottles, the
Italian greyhound, and the thousand and one necessities of the pale
and interesting bride. Oh, how she did fidget! how she did grumble!
how she altered and twisted her position! and how she did make poor
After Miss Fanny and I had talked, and I had told her my plan,
which she pronounced to be delightful, she continued:—"I never was
so provoked in my life, Mr. Titmarsh, as when that odious man came
and interrupted that dear delightful conversation."
"On your word? The odious man is on board the boat: I see him
smoking just by the funnel yonder, look! and looking at us."
"He is very stupid," said Fanny; "and all that I adore is
intellect, dear Mr. Titmarsh."
"But why is he on board?" said I, with a fin sourire.
"Why is he on board? Why is everybody on board? How do we meet?
(and oh, how glad I am to meet you again!) You don't suppose that I
know how the horrid man came here?"
"Eh! he may be fascinated by a pair of blue eyes, Miss Fanny!
Others have been so," I said.
"Don't be cruel to a poor girl, you wicked, satirical creature,"
she said. "I think Captain Hicks odious—there! and I was quite
angry when I saw him on the boat. Mamma does not know him, and she
was so angry with me for dancing with him that night: though there
was nobody of any particular mark at poor dear Mrs. Perkins's—that
is, except YOU, Mr. Titmarsh."
"And I am not a dancing man," I said, with a sigh.
"I hate dancing men; they can do nothing but dance."
"O yes, they can. Some of them can smoke, and some can ride, and
some of them can even spell very well."
"You wicked, satirical person. I'm quite afraid of you!"
"And some of them call the Rhine the 'Whine,'" I said, giving an
admirable imitation of poor Hicks's drawling manner.
Fanny looked hard at me, with a peculiar expression on her face.
At last she laughed. "Oh, you wicked, wicked man," she said, "what a
capital mimic you are, and so full of cleverness! Do bring up Captain
Hicks—isn't that his name?—and trot him out for us. Bring him up,
and introduce him to mamma: do now, go!"
Mamma, in the meanwhile, had waited her time, and was just going to
step down the cabin stairs as Lady Knightsbridge ascended from them.
To draw back, to make a most profound curtsy, to exclaim, "Lady
Knightsbridge! I have had the honor of seeing your ladyship
at—hum—hum—hum" (this word I could not catch)—"House,"—all these
feats were performed by Lady Kicklebury in one instant, and
acknowledged with the usual calmness by the younger lady.
"And may I hope," continues Lady Kicklebury, "that that most
beautiful of all children—a mother may say so—that Lord Pimlico has
recovered his hooping-cough? We were so anxious about him. Our
medical attendant is Mr. Topham, and he used to come from
Knightsbridge House to Pocklington Square, often and often. I am
interested about the hooping-cough. My own dear boy had it most
severely; that dear girl, my eldest daughter, whom you see stretched
on the bench—she is in a very delicate state, and only lately
married—not such a match as I could have wished: but Mr. Milliken is
of a good family, distantly related to your ladyship's. A Milliken, in
George the Third's reign, married a Boltimore, and the Boltimores, I
think, are your first-cousins. They married this year, and Lavinia is
so fond of me, that she can't part with me, and I have come abroad
just to please her. We are going to Noirbourg. I think I heard from
my son that Lord Knightsbridge was at Noirbourg."
"I believe I have had the pleasure of seeing Sir Thomas Kicklebury
at Knightsbridge House," Lady Knightsbridge said, with something of
"Indeed!" and Kicklebury had never told her! He laughed at her
when she talked about great people: he told her all sorts of
ridiculous stories when upon this theme. But, at any rate, the
acquaintance was made: Lady Kicklebury would not leave Lady
Knightsbridge; and, even in the throes of sea-sickness, and the
secret recesses of the cabin, WOULD talk to her about the world, Lord
Pimlico, and her father, General Guff, late aide-de-camp to the Duke
That those throes of sickness ensued, I need not say. A short time
after passing Ramsgate, Serjeant Lankin, who had been exceedingly gay
and satirical—(in his calm way; he quotes Horace, my favorite bits as
an author, to myself, and has a quiet snigger, and, so to speak,
amontillado flavor, exceedingly pleasant)—Lankin, with a rueful and
livid countenance, descended into his berth, in the which that six
foot of serjeant packed himself I don't know how.
When Lady Knightsbridge went down, down went Kicklebury. Milliken
and his wife stayed, and were ill together on deck. A palm of glory
ought to be awarded to that man for his angelic patience, energy, and
suffering. It was he who went for Mrs. Milliken's maid, who wouldn't
come to her mistress; it was he, the shyest of men, who stormed the
ladies' cabin—that maritime harem—in order to get her mother's
bottle of salts; it was he who went for the brandy-and-water, and
begged, and prayed, and besought his adored Lavinia to taste a leetle
drop. Lavinia's reply was, "Don't—go away—don't tease, Horace," and
so forth. And, when not wanted, the gentle creature subsided on the
bench, by his wife's feet, and was sick in silence.
[Mem—In married life, it seems to me, that it is almost always
Milliken and wife, or just the contrary. The angels minister to the
tyrants; or the gentle, hen-pecked husband cowers before the superior
partlet. if ever I marry, I know the sort of woman I will choose; and
I won't try her temper by over-indulgence, and destroy her fine
qualities by a ruinous subserviency to her wishes.]
Little Miss Fanny stayed on deck, as well as her sister, and looked
at the stars of heaven, as they began to shine there, and at the
Foreland lights as we passed them. I would have talked with her; I
would have suggested images of poesy, and thoughts of beauty; I would
have whispered the word of sentiment—the delicate allusion— the
breathing of the soul that longs to find a congenial heart—the
sorrows and aspirations of the wounded spirit, stricken and sad, yet
not QUITE despairing; still knowing that the hope-plant lurked in its
crushed ruins—still able to gaze on the stars and the ocean, and love
their blazing sheen, their boundless azure. I would, I say, have
taken the opportunity of that stilly night to lay bare to her the
treasures of a heart that, I am happy to say, is young still; but
circumstances forbade the frank outpouring of my poet soul: in a word,
I was obliged to go and lie down on the flat of my back, and endeavor
to control OTHER emotions which struggled in my breast.
Once, in the night-watches, I arose, and came on deck; the vessel
was not, methought, pitching much; and yet—and yet Neptune was
inexorable. The placid stars looked down, but they gave me no peace.
Lavinia Milliken seemed asleep, and her Horace, in a death- like
torpor, was huddled at her feet. Miss Fanny had quitted the larboard
side of the ship, and had gone to starboard; and I thought that there
was a gentleman beside her; but I could not see very clearly, and
returned to the horrid crib, where Lankin was asleep, and the German
fiddler underneath him was snoring like his own violoncello.
In the morning we were all as brisk as bees. We were in the smooth
waters of the lazy Scheldt. The stewards began preparing breakfast
with that matutinal eagerness which they always show. The sleepers
in the cabin were roused from their horse-hair couches by the
stewards' boys nudging, and pushing, and flapping table-cloths over
them. I shaved and made a neat toilette, and came upon deck just as
we lay off that little Dutch fort, which is, I dare say, described in
"Murray's Guide-book," and about which I had some rare banter with
poor Hicks and Lady Kicklebury, whose sense of humor is certainly not
very keen. He had, somehow, joined her ladyship's party, and they
were looking at the fort, and its tri-colored flag— that floats
familiar in Vandevelde's pictures—and at the lazy shipping, and the
tall roofs, and dumpy church towers, and flat pastures, lying before
us in a Cuyplike haze.
I am sorry to say, I told them the most awful fibs about that fort.
How it had been defended by the Dutch patriot, Van Swammerdam,
against the united forces of the Duke of Alva and Marshal Turenne,
whose leg was shot off as he was leading the last unsuccessful
assault, and who turned round to his aide-de-camp and said, "Allez
dire an Premier Consul, que je meurs avec regret de ne pas avoir
assez fait pour la France!" which gave Lady Kicklebury an opportunity
to placer her story of the Duke of York, and the bombardment of
Valenciennes; and caused young Hicks to look at me in a puzzled and
appealing manner and hint that I was "chaffing."
"Chaffing indeed!" says I, with a particularly arch eye-twinkle at
Miss Fanny. "I wouldn't make fun of you, Captain Hicks! If you
doubt my historical accuracy, look at the 'Biographie Universelle.' I
say—look at the 'Biographie Universelle.'"
He said, "O—ah—the 'Biogwaphie Universelle' may be all vewy well,
and that; but I never can make out whether you are joking or not,
somehow; and I always fancy you are going to CAWICKACHAW me. Ha,
ha!" And he laughed, the good-natured dragoon laughed, and fancied
he had made a joke.
I entreated him not to be so severe upon me; and again he said,
"Haw haw!" and told me, "I mustn't expect to have it all MY OWN WAY,
and if I gave a hit, I must expect a Punch in return. Haw haw!" Oh,
you honest young Hicks!
Everybody, indeed, was in high spirits. The fog cleared off, the
sun shone, the ladies chatted and laughed, even Mrs. Milliken was in
good humor ("My wife is all intellect," Milliken says, looking at her
with admiration), and talked with us freely and gayly. She was kind
enough to say that it was a great pleasure to meet with a literary and
well-informed person—that one often lived with people that did not
comprehend one. She asked if my companion, that tall gentleman—Mr.
Serjeant Lankin, was he?—was literary. And when I said that Lankin
knew more Greek, and more Latin, and more law, and more history, and
more everything, than all the passengers put together, she vouchsafed
to look at him with interest, and enter into a conversation with my
modest friend the Serjeant. Then it was that her adoring husband said
"his Lavinia was all intellect;"— Lady Kicklebury saying that SHE was
not a literary woman: that in HER day few acquirements were requisite
for the British female; but that she knew THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE, and
her DUTY AS A MOTHER, and that "Lavinia and Fanny had had the best
masters and the best education which money and constant maternal
solicitude could impart." If our matrons are virtuous, as they are,
and it is Britain's boast, permit me to say that they certainly know
The conversation growing powerfully intellectual under Mrs.
Milliken, poor Hicks naturally became uneasy, and put an end to
literature by admiring the ladies' head-dresses. "Cab-heads, hoods,
what do you call 'em?" he asked of Miss Kicklebury. Indeed, she and
her sister wore a couple of those blue silk over-bonnets, which have
lately become the fashion, and which I never should have mentioned but
for the young lady's reply.
"Those hoods!" she said—"WE CALL THOSE HOODS UGLIES! Captain
Oh, how pretty she looked as she said it! The blue eyes looked up
under the blue hood, so archly and gayly; ever so many dimples began
playing about her face; her little voice rang so fresh and sweet, that
a heart which has never loved a tree or flower but the vegetable in
question was sure to perish—a heart worn down and sickened by
repeated disappointment, mockery, faithlessness—a heart whereof
despair is an accustomed tenant, and in whose desolate and lonely
depths dwells an abiding gloom, began to throb once more—began to
beckon Hope from the window—began to admit sunshine—began to—O
Folly, Folly! O Fanny! O Miss K., how lovely you looked as you said,
"We call those hoods Uglies!" Ugly indeed!
This is a chronicle of feelings and characters, not of events and
places, so much. All this time our vessel was making rapid way up
the river, and we saw before us the slim towers of the noble
cathedral of Antwerp soaring in the rosy sunshine. Lankin and I had
agreed to go to the "Grand Laboureur," or the Place de Meir. They give
you a particular kind of jam-tarts there—called Nun's tarts, I
think—that I remember, these twenty years, as the very best tarts—as
good as the tarts which we ate when we were boys. The "Laboureur" is a
dear old quiet comfortable hotel; and there is no man in England who
likes a good dinner better than Lankin.
"What hotel do you go to?" I asked of Lady Kicklebury.
"We go to the 'Saint Antoine' of course. Everybody goes to the
'Saint Antoine,'" her ladyship said. "We propose to rest here; to do
the Rubens's; and to proceed to Cologne to-morrow. Horace, call Finch
and Bowman; and your courier, if he will have the condescension to
wait upon ME, will perhaps look to the baggage."
"I think, Lankin," said I, "as everybody seems going to the 'Saint
Antoine,' we may as well go, and not spoil the party."
"I think I'll go too," says Hicks; as if HE belonged to the party.
And oh, it was a great sight when we landed, and at every place at
which we paused afterwards, to see Hirsch over the Kicklebury
baggage, and hear his polyglot maledictions at the porters! If a man
sometimes feels sad and lonely at his bachelor condition, if SOME
feelings of envy pervade his heart, at seeing beauty on another's arm,
and kind eyes directed towards a happier mug than his own—at least
there are some consolations in travelling, when a fellow has but one
little portmanteau or bag which he can easily shoulder, and thinks of
the innumerable bags and trunks which the married man and the father
drags after him. The married Briton on a tour is but a luggage
overseer: his luggage is his morning thought, and his nightly terror.
When he floats along the Rhine he has one eye on a ruin, and the
other on his luggage. When he is in the railroad he is always
thinking, or ordered by his wife to think, "is the luggage safe?" It
clings round him. It never leaves him (except when it DOES leave him,
as a trunk or two will, and make him doubly miserable). His
carpet-bags lie on his chest at night, and his wife's forgotten
bandbox haunts his turbid dreams.
I think it was after she found that Lady Kicklebury proposed to go
to the "Grand Saint Antoine" that Lady Knightsbridge put herself with
her maid into a carriage and went to the other inn. We saw her at the
cathedral, where she kept aloof from our party. Milliken went up the
tower, and so did Miss Fanny. I am too old a traveller to mount up
those immeasurable stairs, for the purpose of making myself dizzy by
gazing upon a vast map of low countries stretched beneath me, and
waited with Mrs. Milliken and her mother below.
When the tower-climbers descended, we asked Miss Fanny and her
brother what they had seen.
"We saw Captain Hicks up there," remarked Milliken. "And I am very
glad you didn't come, Lavinia my love. The excitement would have
been too much for you, quite too much."
All this while Lady Kicklebury was looking at Fanny, and Fanny was
holding her eyes down; and I knew that between her and this poor
Hicks there could be nothing serious, for she had laughed at him and
mimicked him to me half a dozen times in the course of the day.
We "do the Rubens's," as Lady Kicklebury says; we trudge from
cathedral to picture-gallery, from church to church. We see the calm
old city, with its towers and gables, the bourse, and the vast
town-hall; and I have the honor to give Lady Kicklebury my arm during
these peregrinations, and to hear a hundred particulars regarding her
ladyship's life and family. How Milliken has been recently building
at Pigeoncot; how he will have two thousand a year more when his uncle
dies; how she had peremptorily to put a stop to the assiduities of
that unprincipled young man, Lord Roughhead, whom Lavinia always
detested, and who married Miss Brent out of sheer pique. It was a
great escape for her darling Lavinia. Roughhead is a most wild and
dissipated young man, one of Kicklebury's Christchurch friends, of
whom her son has too many, alas! and she enters into many particulars
respecting the conduct of Kicklebury—the unhappy boy's smoking, his
love of billiards, his fondness for the turf: she fears he has already
injured his income, she fears he is even now playing at Noirbourg; she
is going thither to wean him, if possible, from his companions and his
gayeties—what may not a mother effect? She only wrote to him the
day before they left London to announce that she was marching on him
with her family. He is in many respects like his poor father— the
same openness and frankness, the same easy disposition: alas! the same
love of pleasure. But she had reformed the father, and will do her
utmost to call back her dear misguided boy. She had an advantageous
match for him in view—a lady not beautiful in person, it is true, but
possessed of every good principle, and a very, very handsome fortune.
It was under pretence of flying from this lady that Kicklebury left
town. But she knew better.
I say young men will be young men, and sow their wild oats; and
think to myself that the invasion of his mamma will be perhaps more
surprising than pleasant to young Sir Thomas Kicklebury, and that she
possibly talks about herself and her family, and her virtues and her
daughters, a little too much: but she WILL make a confidant of me, and
all the time we are doing the Rubens's she is talking of the pictures
at Kicklebury, of her portrait by Lawrence, pronounced to be his
finest work, of Lavinia's talent for drawing, and the expense of
Fanny's music-masters; of her house in town (where she hopes to see
me); of her parties which were stopped by the illness of her butler.
She talks Kicklebury until I am sick. And oh, Miss Fanny, all of
this I endure, like an old fool, for an occasional sight of your
bright eyes and rosy face!
[Another parenthesis.—"We hope to see you in town, Mr. Titmarsh."
Foolish mockery! If all the people whom one has met abroad, and who
have said, "We hope to meet you often in town," had but made any the
slightest efforts to realize their hopes by sending a simple line of
invitation through the penny post, what an enormous dinner
acquaintance one would have had! But I mistrust people who say, "We
hope to see you in town."]
Lankin comes in at the end of the day, just before dinnertime. He
has paced the whole town by himself—church, tower, and
fortifications, and Rubens, and all. He is full of Egmont and Alva.
He is up to all the history of the siege, when Chassee defended, and
the French attacked the place. After dinner we stroll along the
quays; and over the quiet cigar in the hotel court, Monsieur Lankin
discourses about the Rubens pictures, in a way which shows that the
learned Serjeant has an eye for pictorial beauty as well as other
beauties in this world, and can rightly admire the vast energy, the
prodigal genius, the royal splendor of the King of Antwerp. In the
most modest way in the world he has remarked a student making clever
sketches at the Museum, and has ordered a couple of copies from him of
the famous Vandyke and the wondrous adoration of the Magi, "a greater
picture," says he, "than even the cathedral picture; in which opinion
those may agree who like." He says he thinks Miss Kicklebury is a
pretty little thing; that all my swans are geese; and that as for that
old woman, with her airs and graces, she is the most intolerable old
nuisance in the world. There is much good judgment, but there is too
much sardonic humor about Lankin. He cannot appreciate women
properly. He is spoiled by being an old bachelor, and living in that
dingy old Pump Court; where, by the way, he has a cellar fit for a
Pontiff. We go to rest; they have given us humble lodgings high up
in the building, which we accept like philosophers who travel with
but a portmanteau apiece. The Kickleburys have the grand suite, as
becomes their dignity. Which, which of those twinkling lights
illumines the chamber of Miss Fanny?
Hicks is sitting in the court too, smoking his cigar. He and
Lankin met in the fortifications. Lankin says he is a sensible
fellow, and seems to know his profession. "Every man can talk well
about something," the Serjeant says. "And one man can about
everything," says I; at which Lankin blushes; and we take our flaring
tallow candles and go to bed. He has us up an hour before the
starting time, and we have that period to admire Herr Oberkellner, who
swaggers as becomes the Oberkellner of a house frequented by
ambassadors; who contradicts us to our faces, and whose own
countenance is ornamented with yesterday's beard, of which, or of any
part of his clothing, the graceful youth does not appear to have
divested himself since last we left him. We recognize, somewhat dingy
and faded, the elaborate shirt-front which appeared at yesterday's
banquet. Farewell, Herr Oberkellner! May we never see your handsome
countenance, washed or unwashed, shaven or unshorn, again!
"Here come the ladies: "Good morning, Miss Fanny." I hope you
slept well, Lady Kicklebury?" "A tremendous bill?" "No wonder; how
can you expect otherwise, when you have such a bad dinner?" Hearken to
Hirsch's comminations over the luggage! Look at the honest Belgian
soldiers, and that fat Freyschutz on guard, his rifle in one hand, and
the other hand in his pocket. Captain Hicks bursts into a laugh at
the sight of the fat Freyschutz, and says, "By Jove, Titmarsh, you
must cawickachaw him." And we take our seats at length and at
leisure, and the railway trumpets blow, and (save for a brief halt) we
never stop till night, trumpeting by green flats and pastures, by
broad canals and old towns, through Liege and Verviers, through Aix
and Cologne, till we are landed at Bonn at nightfall.
We all have supper, or tea—we have become pretty intimate—we look
at the strangers' book, as a matter of course, in the great room of
the "Star Hotel." Why, everybody is on the Rhine! Here are the
names of half one's acquaintance.
"I see Lord and Lady Exborough are gone on," says Lady Kicklebury,
whose eye fastens naturally on her kindred aristocracy. "Lord and
Lady Wyebridge and suite, Lady Zedland and her family."
"Hallo! here's Cutler of the Onety-oneth, and MacMull of the
Greens, en route to Noirbourg," says Hicks, confidentially. "Know
MacMull? Devilish good fellow—such a fellow to smoke."
Lankin, too, reads and grins. "Why, are they going the Rhenish
circuit?" he says, and reads:
Sir Thomas Minos, Lady Minos, nebst Begleitung, aus England.
Sir John AEacus, mit Familie und Dienerschaft, aus England.
Sir Roger Raadamanthus.
Thomas Smith, Serjeant.
Serjeant Brown and Mrs. Brown, aus England.
Serjeant Tomkins, Anglais. Madame Tomkins, Mesdemoiselles Tomkins.
Monsieur Kewsy, Conseiller de S. M. la Reine d'Angleterre. Mrs.
Kewsy, three Miss Kewsys.
And to this list Lankin, laughing, had put down his own name, and
that of the reader's obedient servant, under the august autograph of
Lady Kicklebury, who signed for herself, her son-in-law, and her
Yes, we all flock the one after the other, we faithful English
folks. We can buy Harvey Sauce, and Cayenne Pepper, and Morison's
Pills, in every city in the world. We carry our nation everywhere
with us; and are in our island, wherever we go. Toto divisos orbe—
always separated from the people in the midst of whom we are.
When we came to the steamer next morning, "the castled crag of
Drachenfels" rose up in the sunrise before, and looked as pink as the
cheeks of Master Jacky, when they have been just washed in the
morning. How that rosy light, too, did become Miss Fanny's pretty
dimples, to be sure! How good a cigar is at the early dawn! I
maintain that it has a flavor which it does not possess at later
hours, and that it partakes of the freshness of all Nature. And
wine, too: wine is never so good as at breakfast; only one can't
drink it, for tipsiness's sake.
See! there is a young fellow drinking soda-water and brandy
already. He puts down his glass with a gasp of satisfaction. It is
evident that he had need of that fortifier and refresher. He puts
down the beaker and says, "How are you, Titmarsh? I was SO cut last
night. My eyes, wasn't I! Not in the least: that's all."
It is the youthful descendant and heir of an ancient line: the
noble Earl of Grimsby's son, Viscount Talboys. He is travelling with
the Rev. Baring Leader, his tutor; who, having a great natural turn
and liking towards the aristocracy, and having inspected Lady
Kicklebury's cards on her trunks, has introduced himself to her
ladyship already, and has inquired after Sir Thomas Kicklebury, whom
he remembers perfectly, and whom he had often the happiness of meeting
when Sir Thomas was an undergraduate at Oxford. There are few
characters more amiable, and delightful to watch and contemplate, than
some of those middle-aged Oxford bucks who hang about the university
and live with the young tufts. Leader can talk racing and boating
with the fastest young Christchurch gentleman. Leader occasionally
rides to cover with Lord Talboys; is a good shot, and seldom walks out
without a setter or a spaniel at his heels. Leader knows the
"Peerage" and the "Racing Calendar" as well as the Oxford cram-books.
Leader comes up to town and dines with Lord Grimsby. Leader goes to
Court every two years. He is the greatest swell in his common-room.
He drinks claret, and can't stand port-wine any longer; and the old
fellows of his college admire him, and pet him, and get all their
knowledge of the world and the aristocracy from him. I admire those
kind old dons when they appear affable and jaunty, men of the world,
members of the "Camford and Oxbridge Club," upon the London pavement.
I like to see them over the Morning Post in the common-room; with a
"Ha, I see Lady Rackstraw has another daughter." "Poppleton there has
been at another party at X—— House, and YOU weren't asked, my
boy."—"Lord Coverdale has got a large party staying at Coverdale.
Did you know him at Christchurch? He was a very handsome man before
he broke his nose fighting the bargeman at Iffly: a light weight, but
a beautiful sparrer," Let me add that Leader, although he does love a
tuft, has a kind heart: as his mother and sisters in Yorkshire know;
as all the village knows too—which is proud of his position in the
great world, and welcomes him very kindly when he comes down and takes
the duty at Christmas, and preaches to them one or two of "the very
sermons which Lord Grimsby was good enough to like, when I delivered
them at Talboys."
"You are not acquainted with Lord Talboys?" Leader asks, with a
degage air. "I shall have much pleasure in introducing you to him.
Talboys, let me introduce you to Lady Kicklebury. Sir Thomas
Kicklebury was not at Christchurch in your time; but you have heard
of him, I dare say. Your son has left a reputation at Oxford."
"I should think I have, too. He walked a hundred miles in a
hundred hours. They said he bet that he'd drink a hundred pints of
beer in a hundred hours: but I don't think he could do it—not strong
beer; don't think any man could. The beer here isn't worth a—"
"My dear Talboys," says Leader, with a winning smile, "I suppose
Lady Kicklebury is not a judge of beer—and what an unromantic
subject of conversation here, under the castled crag immortalized by
"What the deuce does it mean about peasant-girls with dark blue
eyes, and hands that offer corn and wine?" asks Talboys. "I'VE never
seen any peasant-girls, except the—ugliest set of women I ever looked
"The poet's license. I see, Miliken, you are making a charming
sketch. You used to draw when you were at Brasenose, Milliken; and
play—yes, you played the violoncello."
Mr. Milliken still possessed these accomplishments. He was taken
up that very evening by a soldier at Coblentz, for making a sketch of
Ehrenbreitstein. Mrs. Milliken sketches immensely too, and writes
poetry: such dreary pictures, such dreary poems! but professional
people are proverbially jealous; and I doubt whether our
fellow-passenger, the German, would even allow that Milliken could
play the violoncello.
Lady Kicklebury gives Miss Fanny a nudge when Lord Talboys appears,
and orders her to exert all her fascinations. How the old lady
coaxes, and she wheedles! She pours out the Talboys' pedigree upon
him; and asks after his aunt, and his mother's family. Is he going
to Noirbourg? How delightful! There is nothing like British
spirits; and to see an English matron well set upon a young man of
large fortune and high rank, is a great and curious sight.
And yet, somehow, the British doggedness does not always answer.
"Do you know that old woman in the drab jacket, Titmarsh?" my
hereditary legislator asks of me. "What the devil is she bothering
ME for, about my aunts, and setting her daughter at me? I ain't such
a fool as that. I ain't clever, Titmarsh; I never said I was. I never
pretend to be clever, and that—but why does that old fool bother ME,
hay? Heigho! I'm devilish thirsty. I was devilish cut last night. I
think I must have another go-off. Hallo you! Kellner! Garsong! Ody
soda, Oter petty vare do dyvee de Conac. That's your sort; isn't it,
"You will speak French well enough, if you practise," says Leader
with a tender voice; "practice is everything. Shall we dine at the
table-d'hote? Waiter! put down the name of Viscount Talboys and Mr.
Leader, if you please."
The boat is full of all sorts and conditions of men. For'ard,
there are peasants and soldiers: stumpy, placid-looking little
warriors for the most part, smoking feeble cigars and looking quite
harmless under their enormous helmets. A poor stunted dull-looking
boy of sixteen, staggering before a black-striped sentry-box, with an
enormous musket on his shoulder, does not seem to me a martial or
awe-inspiring object. Has it not been said that we carry our
prejudices everywhere, and only admire what we are accustomed to
admire in our own country?
Yonder walks a handsome young soldier who has just been marrying a
wife. How happy they seem! and how pleased that everybody should
remark their happiness. It is a fact that in the full sunshine, and
before a couple of hundred people on board the Joseph Miller steamer,
the soldier absolutely kissed Mrs. Soldier; at which the sweet Fanny
Kicklebury was made to blush.
We were standing together looking at the various groups: the pretty
peasant-woman (really pretty for once,) with the red head-dress and
fluttering ribbons, and the child in her arms; the jolly fat old
gentleman, who was drinking Rhine-wine before noon, and turning his
back upon all the castles, towers, and ruins, which reflected their
crumbling peaks in the water; upon the handsome young students who
came with us from Bonn, with their national colors in their caps,
with their picturesque looks, their yellow ringlets, their budding
moustaches, and with cuts upon almost every one of their noses,
obtained in duels at the university: most picturesque are these young
fellows, indeed—but ah, why need they have such black hands?
Near us is a type, too: a man who adorns his own tale, and points
his own moral. "Yonder, in his carriage, sits the Count de Reineck,
who won't travel without that dismal old chariot, though it is shabby,
costly, and clumsy, and though the wicked red republicans come and
smoke under his very nose. Yes, Miss Fanny, it is the lusty young
Germany, pulling the nose of the worn-out old world."
"Law, what DO you mean, Mr. Titmarsh?" cries the dear Fanny.
"And here comes Mademoiselle de Reineck, with her companion. You
see she is wearing out one of the faded silk gowns which she has
spoiled at the Residenz during the season: for the Reinecks are
economical, though they are proud; and forced, like many other
insolvent grandees, to do and to wear shabby things.
"It is very kind of the young countess to call her companion
'Louise,' and to let Louise call her 'Laure;' but if faces may be
trusted,—and we can read in one countenance conceit and tyranny;
deceit and slyness in another,—dear Louise has to suffer some hard
raps from dear Laure: and, to judge from her dress, I don't think
poor Louise has her salary paid very regularly.
"What a comfort it is to live in a country where there is neither
insolence nor bankruptcy among the great folks, nor cringing, nor
flattery among the small. Isn't it, Miss Fanny?"
Miss Fanny says, that she can't understand whether I am joking or
serious; and her mamma calls her away to look at the ruins of
Wigginstein. Everybody looks at Wigginstein. You are told in Murray
to look at Wigginstein.
Lankin, who has been standing by, with a grin every now and then
upon his sardonic countenance, comes up and says, "Titmarsh, how can
you be so impertinent?"
"Impertinent! as how?"
"The girl must understand what you mean; and you shouldn't laugh at
her own mother to her. Did you ever see anything like the way in
which that horrible woman is following the young lord about?"
"See! You see it every day, my dear fellow; only the trick is
better done, and Lady Kicklebury is rather a clumsy practitioner.
See! why nobody is better aware of the springes which are set to
catch him than that young fellow himself, who is as knowing as any
veteran in May Fair. And you don't suppose that Lady Kicklebury
fancies that she is doing anything mean, or anything wrong? Heaven
bless you! she never did anything wrong in her life. She has no idea
but that everything she says, and thinks, and does is right. And no
doubt she never did rob a church: and was a faithful wife to Sir
Thomas, and pays her tradesmen. Confound her virtue! It is that
which makes her so wonderful—that brass armor in which she walks
impenetrable—not knowing what pity is, or charity; crying sometimes
when she is vexed, or thwarted, but laughing never; cringing, and
domineering by the same natural instinct—never doubting about herself
above all. Let us rise, and revolt against those people, Lankin. Let
us war with them, and smite them utterly. It is to use against these,
especially, that Scorn and Satire were invented."
"And the animal you attack," says Lankin, "is provided with a hide
to defend him—it is a common ordinance of nature."
And so we pass by tower and town, and float up the Rhine. We don't
describe the river. Who does not know it? How you see people asleep
in the cabins at the most picturesque parts, and angry to be awakened
when they fire off those stupid guns for the echoes! It is as
familiar to numbers of people as Greenwich; and we know the merits of
the inns along the road as if they were the "Trafalgar" or the "Star
and Garter." How stale everything grows! If we were to live in a
garden of Eden, now, and the gate were open, we should go out, and
tramp forward, and push on, and get up early in the morning, and push
on again—anything to keep moving, anything to get a change: anything
but quiet for the restless children of Cain.
So many thousands of English folks have been at Rougetnoirbourg in
this and last seasons, that it is scarcely needful to alter the name
of that pretty little gay, wicked place. There were so many British
barristers there this year that they called the "Hotel des Quatre
Saisons" the "Hotel of Quarter Sessions." There were judges and their
wives, serjeants and their ladies, Queen's counsel learned in the law,
the Northern circuit and the Western circuit: there were officers of
half-pay and full-pay, military officers, naval officers, and
sheriffs' officers. There were people of high fashion and rank, and
people of no rank at all; there were men and women of reputation, and
of the two kinds of reputation; there were English boys playing
cricket; English pointers putting up the German partridges, and
English guns knocking them down; there were women whose husbands, and
men whose wives were at home; there were High Church and Low
Church—England turned out for a holiday, in a word. How much farther
shall we extend our holiday ground, and where shall we camp next? A
winter at Cairo is nothing now. Perhaps ere long we shall be going to
Saratoga Springs, and the Americans coming to Margate for the summer.
Apartments befitting her dignity and the number of her family had
been secured for Lady Kicklebury by her dutiful son, in the same
house in which one of Lankin's friends had secured for us much
humbler lodgings. Kicklebury received his mother's advent with a
great deal of good humor; and a wonderful figure the good-natured
little baronet was when he presented himself to his astonished
friends, scarcely recognizable by his own parent and sisters, and the
staring retainers of their house.
"Mercy, Kicklebury! have you become a red republican?" his mother
"I can't find a place to kiss you," said Miss Fanny, laughing to
her brother; and he gave her pretty cheek such a scrub with his red
beard, as made some folks think it would be very pleasant to be Miss
In the course of his travels, one of Sir Thomas Kicklebury's chief
amusements and cares had been to cultivate this bushy auburn
ornament. He said that no man could pronounce German properly
without a beard to his jaws; but he did not appear to have got much
beyond this preliminary step to learning; and, in spite of his beard,
his honest English accent came out, as his jolly English face looked
forth from behind that fierce and bristly decoration, perfectly
good-humored and unmistakable. We try our best to look like
foreigners, but we can't. Every Italian mendicant or Pont Neuf beggar
knows his Englishman in spite of blouse, and beard, and slouched hat.
"There is a peculiar high-bred grace about us," I whisper to Lady
Kicklebury, "an aristocratic je ne scais quoi, which is not to be
found in any but Englishmen; and it is that which makes us so
immensely liked and admired all over the Continent." Well, this may
be truth or joke—this may be a sneer or a simple assertion: our
vulgarities and our insolences may, perhaps, make us as remarkable as
that high breeding which we assume to possess. It may be that the
Continental society ridicules and detests us, as we walk domineering
over Europe; but, after all, which of us would denationalize himself?
who wouldn't be an Englishman? Come, sir, cosmopolite as you are,
passing all your winters at Rome or at Paris; exiled by choice, or
poverty, from your own country; preferring easier manners, cheaper
pleasures, a simpler life: are you not still proud of your British
citizenship? and would you like to be a Frenchman?
Kicklebury has a great acquaintance at Noirbourg, and as he walks
into the great concert-room at night, introducing his mother and
sisters there, he seemed to look about with a little anxiety, lest
all of his acquaintance should recognize him. There are some in that
most strange and motley company with whom he had rather not exchange
salutations, under present circumstances. Pleasure- seekers from
every nation in the world are here, sharpers of both sexes, wearers of
the stars and cordons of every court in Europe; Russian princesses,
Spanish grandees, Belgian, French, and English nobles, every degree of
Briton, from the ambassador, who has his conge, to the London
apprentice who has come out for his fortnight's lark. Kicklebury
knows them all, and has a good- natured nod for each.
"Who is that lady with the three daughters who saluted you,
Kicklebury?" asks his mother.
"That is our Ambassadress at X., ma'am. I saw her yesterday buying
a penny toy for one of her little children in Frankfort Fair."
Lady Kicklebury looks towards Lady X.: she makes her excellency an
undeveloped curtsy, as it were; she waves her plumed head (Lady K. is
got up in great style, in a rich dejeuner toilette, perfectly
regardless of expense); she salutes the ambassadress with a sweeping
gesture from her chair, and backs before her as before royalty, and
turns to her daughters large eyes full of meaning, and spreads out her
silks in state.
"And who is that distinguished-looking man who just passed, and who
gave you a reserved nod?" asks her ladyship. "Is that Lord X.?"
Kicklebury burst out laughing. "That, ma'am, is Mr. Higmore, of
Conduit Street, tailor, draper, and habit-maker: and I owe him a
"The insolence of that sort of people is really intolerable," says
Lady Kicklebury. "There MUST be some distinction of classes. They
ought not to be allowed to go everywhere. And who is yonder, that
lady with the two boys and the—the very high complexion?" Lady
"That is a Russian princess: and one of those little boys, the one
who is sucking a piece of barley-sugar, plays, and wins five hundred
louis in a night."
"Kicklebury, you do not play? Promise your mother you do not!
Swear to me at this moment you do not! Where are the horrid
gambling-rooms? There, at that door where the crowd is? Of course,
I shall never enter them!"
"Of course not, ma'am," says the affectionate son on duty. "And if
you come to the balls here, please don't let Fanny dance with
anybody, until you ask me first: you understand. Fanny, you will
"Yes, Tom," says Fanny.
"What, Hicks, how are you, old fellow? How is Platts? Who would
have thought of you being here? When did you come?"
"I had the pleasure of travelling with Lady Kicklebury and her
daughters in the London boat to Antwerp," says Captain Hicks, making
the ladies a bow. Kicklebury introduces Hicks to his mother as his
most particular friend—and he whispers Fanny that "he's as good a
fellow as ever lived, Hicks is." Fanny says, "He seems very kind and
good-natured: and—and Captain Hicks waltzes very well," says Miss
Fanny with a blush, "and I hope I may have him for one of my
What a Babel of tongues it is in this splendid hall with gleaming
marble pillars: a ceaseless rushing whisper as if the band were
playing its music by a waterfall! The British lawyers are all got
together, and my friend Lankin, on his arrival, has been carried off
by his brother serjeants, and becomes once more a lawyer. "Well,
brother Lankin," says old Sir Thomas Minos, with his venerable kind
face, "you have got your rule, I see." And they fall into talk about
their law matters, as they always do, wherever they are—at a club, in
a ball-room, at a dinner-table, at the top of Chimborazo. Some of the
young barristers appear as bucks with uncommon splendor, and dance and
hang about the ladies. But they have not the easy languid
deuce-may-care air of the young bucks of the Hicks and Kicklebury
school—they can't put on their clothes with that happy negligence;
their neck-cloths sit quite differently on them, somehow: they become
very hot when they dance, and yet do not spin round near so quickly as
those London youths, who have acquired experience in corpore vili, and
learned to dance easily by the practice of a thousand casinos.
Above the Babel tongues and the clang of the music, as you listen
in the great saloon, you hear from a neighboring room a certain sharp
ringing clatter, and a hard clear voice cries out, "Zero rouge," or "
Trente-cinq noir. Impair et passe." And then there is a pause of a
couple of minutes, and then the voice says, "Faites le jeu, Messieurs.
Le jeu est fait, rien ne va plus"—and the sharp ringing clatter
recommences. You know what that room is? That is Hades. That is
where the spirited proprietor of the establishment takes his toll, and
thither the people go who pay the money which supports the spirited
proprietor of this fine palace and gardens. Let us enter Hades, and
see what is going on there.
Hades is not an unpleasant place. Most of the people look rather
cheerful. You don't see any frantic gamblers gnashing their teeth or
dashing down their last stakes. The winners have the most anxious
faces; or the poor shabby fellows who have got systems, and are
pricking down the alternations of red and black on cards, and don't
seem to be playing at all. On fete days the country people come in,
men and women, to gamble; and THEY seem to be excited as they put down
their hard-earned florins with trembling rough hands, and watch the
turn of the wheel. But what you call the good company is very quiet
and easy. A man loses his mass of gold, and gets up and walks off,
without any particular mark of despair. The only gentleman whom I saw
at Noirbourg who seemed really affected was a certain Count de
Mustacheff, a Russian of enormous wealth, who clenched his fists, beat
his breast, cursed his stars, and absolutely cried with grief: not for
losing money, but for neglecting to win and play upon a coup de vingt,
a series in which the red was turned up twenty times running: which
series, had he but played, it is clear that he might have broken M.
Lenoir's bank, and shut up the gambling-house, and doubled his own
fortune—when he would have been no happier, and all the balls and
music, all the newspaper-rooms and parks, all the feasting and
pleasure of this delightful Rougetnoirbourg would have been at an end.
For though he is a wicked gambling prince, Lenoir, he is beloved in
all these regions; his establishment gives life to the town, to the
lodging-house and hotel-keepers, to the milliners and hackney-
coachmen, to the letters of horse-flesh, to the huntsmen and
gardes-de-chasse; to all these honest fiddlers and trumpeters who
play so delectably. Were Lenoir's bank to break, the whole little
city would shut up; and all the Noirbourgers wish him prosperity, and
benefit by his good fortune.
Three years since the Noirbourgers underwent a mighty panic. There
came, at a time when the chief Lenoir was at Paris, and the reins of
government were in the hands of his younger brother, a company of
adventurers from Belgium, with a capital of three hundred thousand
francs, and an infallible system for playing rouge et noir, and they
boldly challenged the bank of Lenoir, and sat down before his
croupiers, and defied him. They called themselves in their pride the
Contrebanque de Noirbourg: they had their croupiers and punters, even
as Lenoir had his: they had their rouleaux of Napoleons, stamped with
their Contrebanquish seal:—and they began to play.
As when two mighty giants step out of a host and engage, the armies
stand still in expectation, and the puny privates and commonalty
remain quiet to witness the combat of the tremendous champions of the
war: so it is said that when the Contrebanque arrived, and ranged
itself before the officers of Lenoir—rouleau to rouleau, bank-note to
bank-note, war for war, controlment for controlment— all the minor
punters and gamblers ceased their peddling play, and looked on in
silence, round the verdant plain where the great combat was to be
Not used to the vast operations of war, like his elder brother,
Lenoir junior, the lieutenant, telegraphed to his absent chief the
news of the mighty enemy who had come down upon him, asked for
instructions, and in the meanwhile met the foe-man like a man. The
Contrebanque of Noirbourg gallantly opened its campaign.
The Lenoir bank was defeated day after day, in numerous savage
encounters. The tactics of the Contrebanquist generals were
irresistible: their infernal system bore down everything before it,
and they marched onwards terrible and victorious as the Macedonian
phalanx. Tuesday, a loss of eighteen thousand florins; Wednesday, a
loss of twelve thousand florins; Thursday, a loss of forty thousand
florins: night after night, the young Lenoir had to chronicle these
disasters in melancholy despatches to his chief. What was to be done?
Night after night, the Noirbourgers retired home doubtful and
disconsolate; the horrid Contrebanquists gathered up their spoils and
retired to a victorious supper. How was it to end?
Far away at Paris, the elder Lenoir answered these appeals of his
brother by sending reinforcements of money. Chests of gold arrived
for the bank. The Prince of Noirbourg bade his beleaguered
lieutenant not to lose heart: he himself never for a moment blenched
in this trying hour of danger.
The Contrebanquists still went on victorious. Rouleau after
rouleau fell into their possession. At last the news came: The
Emperor has joined the Grand Army. Lenoir himself had arrived from
Paris, and was once more among his children, his people. The daily
combats continued: and still, still, though Napoleon was with the
Eagles, the abominable Contrebanquists fought and conquered. And far
greater than Napoleon, as great as Ney himself under disaster, the
bold Lenoir never lost courage, never lost good-humor, was affable,
was gentle, was careful of his subjects' pleasures and comforts, and
met an adverse fortune with a dauntless smile.
With a devilish forbearance and coolness, the atrocious
Contrebanque—like Polyphemus, who only took one of his prisoners out
of the cave at a time, and so ate them off at leisure—the horrid
Contrebanquists, I say, contented themselves with winning so much
before dinner, and so much before supper—say five thousand florins
for each meal. They played and won at noon: they played and won at
eventide. They of Noirbourg went home sadly every night: the invader
was carrying all before him. What must have been the feelings of the
great Lenoir? What were those of Washington before Trenton, when it
seemed all up with the cause of American Independence; what those of
the virgin Elizabeth, when the Armada was signalled; what those of
Miltiades, when the multitudinous Persian bore down on Marathon? The
people looked on at the combat, and saw their chieftain stricken,
bleeding, fallen, fighting still.
At last there came one day when the Contrebanquists had won their
allotted sum, and were about to leave the tables which they had swept
so often. But pride and lust of gold had seized upon the heart of one
of their vainglorious chieftains; and he said, "Do not let us go
yet—let us win a thousand florins more!" So they stayed and set the
bank yet a thousand florins. The Noirbourgers looked on, and trembled
for their prince.
Some three hours afterwards—a shout, a mighty shout was heard
around the windows of that palace: the town, the gardens, the hills,
the fountains took up and echoed the jubilant acclaim. Hip, hip, hip,
hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! People rushed into each other's arms; men,
women, and children cried and kissed each other. Croupiers, who never
feel, who never tremble, who never care whether black wins or red
loses, took snuff from each other's boxes, and laughed for joy; and
Lenoir the dauntless, the INVINCIBLE Lenoir, wiped the drops of
perspiration from his calm forehead, as he drew the enemy's last
rouleau into his till. He had conquered. The Persians were beaten,
horse and foot—the Armada had gone down. Since Wellington shut up
his telescope at Waterloo, when the Prussians came charging on to the
field, and the Guard broke and fled, there had been no such heroic
endurance, such utter defeat, such signal and crowning victory. Vive
Lenoir! I am a Lenoirite. I have read his newspapers, strolled in
his gardens, listened to his music, and rejoice in his victory: I am
glad he beat those Contrebanquists. Dissipati sunt. The game is up
The instances of this man's magnanimity are numerous, and worthy of
Alexander the Great, or Harry the Fifth, or Robin Hood. Most gentle
is he, and thoughtful to the poor, and merciful to the vanquished.
When Jeremy Diddler, who had lost twenty pounds at his table, lay in
inglorious pawn at his inn—when O'Toole could not leave Noirbourg
until he had received his remittances from Ireland— the noble Lenoir
paid Diddler's inn bill, advanced O'Toole money upon his well-known
signature, franked both of them back to their native country again;
and has never, wonderful to state, been paid from that day to this.
If you will go play at his table, you may; but nobody forces you. If
you lose, pay with a cheerful heart. Dulce est desipere in loco. This
is not a treatise of morals. Friar Tuck was not an exemplary
ecclesiastic, nor Robin Hood a model man; but he was a jolly outlaw;
and I dare say the Sheriff of Nottingham, whose money he took, rather
relished his feast at Robin's green table.
And if you lose, worthy friend, as possibly you will, at Lenoir's
pretty games, console yourself by thinking that it is much better for
you in the end that you should lose, than that you should win. Let me,
for my part, make a clean breast of it, and own that your humble
servant did, on one occasion, win a score of Napoleons; and beginning
with a sum of no less than five shillings. But until I had lost them
again I was so feverish, excited, and uneasy, that I had neither
delectation in reading the most exciting French novels, nor pleasure
in seeing pretty landscapes, nor appetite for dinner. The moment,
however, that graceless money was gone, equanimity was restored: Paul
Feval and Eugene Sue began to be terrifically interesting again; and
the dinners at Noirbourg, though by no means good culinary specimens,
were perfectly sufficient for my easy and tranquil mind. Lankin, who
played only a lawyer's rubber at whist, marked the salutary change in
his friend's condition; and, for my part, I hope and pray that every
honest reader of this volume who plays at M. Lenoir's table will lose
every shilling of his winnings before he goes away. Where are the
gamblers whom we have read of? Where are the card-players whom we can
remember in our early days? At one time almost every gentleman played,
and there were whist- tables in every lady's drawing-room. But trumps
are going out along with numbers of old-world institutions; and,
before very long, a blackleg will be as rare an animal as a knight in
There was a little dwarfish, abortive, counter bank set up at
Noirbourg this year: but the gentlemen soon disagreed among
themselves; and, let us hope, were cut off in detail by the great
Lenoir. And there was a Frenchman at our inn who had won two
Napoleons per day for the last six weeks, and who had an infallible
system, whereof he kindly offered to communicate the secret for the
consideration of a hundred louis; but there came one fatal night when
the poor Frenchman's system could not make head against fortune, and
her wheel went over him, and he disappeared utterly.
With the early morning everybody rises and makes his or her
appearance at the Springs, where they partake of water with a
wonderful energy and perseverance. They say that people get to be
fond of this water at last; as to what tastes cannot men accustom
themselves? I drank a couple of glasses of an abominable sort of
feeble salts in a state of very gentle effervescence; but, though
there was a very pretty girl who served it, the drink was abominable,
and it was a marvel to see the various topers, who tossed off glass
after glass, which the fair-haired little Hebe delivered sparkling
from the well.
Seeing my wry faces, old Captain Carver expostulated, with a jolly
twinkle of his eye, as he absorbed the contents of a sparkling
crystal beaker. "Pooh! take another glass, sir: you'll like it
better and better every day. It refreshes you, sir: it fortifies
you: and as for liking it—gad! I remember the time when I didn't
like claret. Times are altered now, ha! ha! Mrs. Fantail, madam, I
wish you a very good morning. How is Fantail? He don't come to drink
the water: so much the worse for him."
To see Mrs. Fantail of an evening is to behold a magnificent sight.
She ought to be shown in a room by herself; and, indeed, would occupy
a moderate-sized one with her person and adornments. Marie
Antoinette's hoop is not bigger than Mrs. Fantail's flounces. Twenty
men taking hands (and, indeed, she likes to have at least that number
about her) would scarcely encompass her. Her chestnut ringlets spread
out in a halo round her face: she must want two or three coiffeurs to
arrange that prodigious head-dress; and then, when it is done, how can
she endure that extraordinary gown? Her travelling bandboxes must be
as large as omnibuses.
But see Mrs. Fantail in the morning, having taken in all sail: the
chestnut curls have disappeared, and two limp bands of brown hair
border her lean, sallow face; you see before you an ascetic, a nun, a
woman worn by mortifications, of a sad yellow aspect, drinking salts
at the well: a vision quite different from that rapturous one of the
previous night's ball-room. No wonder Fantail does not come out of a
morning; he had rather not see such a Rebecca at the well.
Lady Kicklebury came for some mornings pretty regularly, and was
very civil to Mr. Leader, and made Miss Fanny drink when his lordship
took a cup, and asked Lord Talboys and his tutor to dinner. But the
tutor came, and, blushing, brought an excuse from Talboys; and poor
Milliken had not a very pleasant evening after Mr. Baring Leader rose
to go away.
But though the water was not good the sun was bright, the music
cheery, the landscape fresh and pleasant, and it was always amusing
to see the vast varieties of our human species that congregated at
the Springs, and trudged up and down the green allees. One of the
gambling conspirators of the roulette-table it was good to see here,
in his private character, drinking down pints of salts like any other
sinner, having a homely wife on his arm, and between them a poodle on
which they lavished their tenderest affection. You see these people
care for other things besides trumps; and are not always thinking
about black and red:—as even ogres are represented, in their
histories, as of cruel natures, and licentious appetites, and, to be
sure, fond of eating men and women; but yet it appears that their
wives often respected them, and they had a sincere liking for their
own hideous children. And, besides the card-players, there are
band-players: every now and then a fiddle from the neighboring
orchestra, or a disorganized bassoon, will step down and drink a glass
of the water, and jump back into his rank again.
Then come the burly troops of English, the honest lawyers,
merchants, and gentlemen, with their wives and buxom daughters, and
stout sons, that, almost grown to the height of manhood, are boys
still, with rough wide-awake hats and shooting-jackets, full of lark
and laughter. A French boy of sixteen has had des passions ere that
time, very likely, and is already particular in his dress, an ogler of
the women, and preparing to kill. Adolphe says to Alphonse—"La voila
cette charmante Miss Fanni, la belle Kickleburi! je te donne ma
parole, elle est fraiche comme une rose! la crois-tu riche, Alphonse?"
"Je me range, mon ami, vois-tu? La vie de garcon me pese. Ma parole
d'honneur! je me range."
And he gives Miss Fanny a killing bow, and a glance which seems to
say, "Sweet Anglaise, I know that I have won your heart."
Then besides the young French buck, whom we will willingly suppose
harmless, you see specimens of the French raff, who goes aux eaux:
gambler, speculator, sentimentalist, duellist, travelling with madame
his wife, at whom other raffs nod and wink familiarly. This rogue is
much more picturesque and civilized than the similar person in our own
country: whose manners betray the stable; who never reads anything but
Bell's Life; and who is much more at ease in conversing with a groom
than with his employer. Here come Mr. Boucher and Mr. Fowler: better
to gamble for a score of nights with honest Monsieur Lenoir, than to
sit down in private once with those gentlemen. But we have said that
their profession is going down, and the number of Greeks daily
diminishes. They are travelling with Mr. Bloundell, who was a
gentleman once, and still retains about him some faint odor of that
time of bloom; and Bloundell has put himself on young Lord Talboys,
and is trying to get some money out of that young nobleman. But the
English youth of the present day is a wide-awake youth, and male or
female artifices are expended pretty much in vain on our young
Who come yonder? Those two fellows whom we met at the table-d'hote
at the "Hotel de Russie" the other day: gentlemen of splendid
costume, and yet questionable appearances, the eldest of whom called
for the list of wines, and cried out loud enough for all the company
to hear, "Lafite, six florins. 'Arry, shall we have some Lafite? You
don't mind? No more do I then. I say, waiter, let's 'ave a pint of
ordinaire." Truth is stranger than fiction. You good fellow,
wherever you are, why did you ask 'Arry to 'ave that pint of ordinaire
in the presence of your obedient servant? How could he do otherwise
than chronicle the speech?
And see: here is a lady who is doubly desirous to be put into
print, who encourages it and invites it. It appears that on Lankin's
first arrival at Noirbourg with his travelling companion, a certain
sensation was created in the little society by the rumor that an
emissary of the famous Mr. Punch had arrived in the place; and, as we
were smoking the cigar of peace on the lawn after dinner, looking on
at the benevolent, pretty scene, Mrs. Hopkins, Miss Hopkins, and the
excellent head of the family, walked many times up and down before us;
eyed us severely face to face, and then walking away, shot back fierce
glances at us in the Parthian manner; and at length, at the third or
fourth turn, and when we could not but overhear so fine a voice, Mrs.
Hopkins looks at us steadily, and says, "I'm sure he may put ME in if
he likes: I don't mind."
Oh, ma'am! Oh, Mrs. Hopkins! how should a gentleman, who had never
seen your face or heard of you before, want to put YOU in? What
interest can the British public have in you? But as you wish it, and
court publicity, here you are. Good luck go with you, madam. I have
forgotten your real name, and should not know you again if I saw you.
But why could not you leave a man to take his coffee and smoke his
pipe in quiet?
We could never have time to make a catalogue of all the portraits
that figure in this motley gallery. Among the travellers in Europe,
who are daily multiplying in numbers and increasing in splendor, the
United States' dandies must not be omitted. They seem as rich as the
Milor of old days; they crowd in European capitals; they have elbowed
out people of the old country from many hotels which we used to
frequent; they adopt the French fashion of dressing rather than ours,
and they grow handsomer beards than English beards: as some plants are
found to flourish and shoot up prodigiously when introduced into a new
soil. The ladies seem to be as well dressed as Parisians, and as
handsome; though somewhat more delicate, perhaps, than the native
English roses. They drive the finest carriages, they keep the
grandest houses, they frequent the grandest company—and, in a word,
the Broadway Swell has now taken his station and asserted his dignity
amongst the grandees of Europe. He is fond of asking Count Reineck to
dinner, and Grafinn Laura will condescend to look kindly upon a
gentleman who has millions of dollars. Here comes a pair of New
Yorkers. Behold their elegant curling beards, their velvet coats,
their delicate primrose gloves and cambric handkerchiefs, and the
aristocratic beauty of their boots. Why, if you had sixteen
quarterings, you could not have smaller feet than those; and if you
were descended from a line of kings you could not smoke better or
Lady Kicklebury deigns to think very well of these young men, since
she has seen them in the company of grandees and heard how rich they
are. "Who is that very stylish-looking woman, to whom Mr. Washington
Walker spoke just now?" she asks of Kicklebury.
Kicklebury gives a twinkle of his eye. "Oh, that, mother! that is
Madame La Princesse de Mogador—it's a French title."
"She danced last night, and danced exceedingly well; I remarked
her. There's a very high-bred grace about the princess."
"Yes, exceedingly. We'd better come on," says Kicklebury, blushing
rather as he returns the princess's nod.
It is wonderful how large Kicklebury's acquaintance is. He has a
word and a joke, in the best German he can muster, for everybody—
for the high well-born lady, as for the German peasant maiden, or the
pretty little washerwoman, who comes full sail down the streets, a
basket on her head and one of Mrs. Fantail's wonderful gowns swelling
on each arm. As we were going to the Schloss-Garten I caught a sight
of the rogue's grinning face yesterday, close at little Gretel's ear
under her basket; but spying out his mother advancing, he dashed down
a bystreet, and when we came up with her, Gretel was alone.
One but seldom sees the English and the holiday visitors in the
ancient parts of Noirbourg; they keep to the streets of new buildings
and garden villas, which have sprung up under the magic influence of
M. Lenoir, under the white towers and gables of the old German town.
The Prince of Trente et Quarante has quite overcome the old serene
sovereign of Noirbourg, whom one cannot help fancying a prince like a
prince in a Christmas pantomime—a burlesque prince with
twopence-halfpenny for a revenue, jolly and irascible, a
prime-minister-kicking prince, fed upon fabulous plum- puddings and
enormous pasteboard joints, by cooks and valets with large heads which
never alter their grin. Not that this portrait is from the life.
Perhaps he has no life. Perhaps there is no prince in the great
white tower, that we see for miles before we enter the little town.
Perhaps he has been mediatized, and sold his kingdom to Monsieur
Lenoir. Before the palace of Lenoir there is a grove of orange-trees
in tubs, which Lenoir bought from another German prince; who went
straightway and lost the money, which he had been paid for his
wonderful orange-trees, over Lenoir's green tables, at his roulette
and trente-et-quarante. A great prince is Lenoir in his way; a
generous and magnanimous prince. You may come to his feast and pay
nothing, unless you please. You may walk in his gardens, sit in his
palace, and read his thousand newspapers. You may go and play at
whist in his small drawing-rooms, or dance and hear concerts in his
grand saloon—and there is not a penny to pay. His fiddlers and
trumpeters begin trumpeting and fiddling for you at the early
dawn—they twang and blow for you in the afternoon, they pipe for you
at night that you may dance—and there is nothing to pay—Lenoir pays
for all. Give him but the chances of the table, and he will do all
this and more. It is better to live under Prince Lenoir than a
fabulous old German Durchlaucht whose cavalry ride wicker horses with
petticoats, and whose prime minister has a great pasteboard head.
Vive le Prince Lenoir!
There is a grotesque old carved gate to the palace of the
Durchlaucht, from which you could expect none but a pantomime
procession to pass. The place looks asleep; the courts are grass-
grown and deserted. Is the Sleeping Beauty lying yonder, in the
great white tower? What is the little army about? It seems a sham
army: a sort of grotesque military. The only charge of infantry was
this: one day when passing through the old town, looking for sketches.
Perhaps they become croupiers at night. What can such a fabulous
prince want with anything but a sham army? My favorite walk was in
the ancient quarter of the town—the dear old fabulous quarter, away
from the noisy actualities of life and Prince Lenoir's new palace—out
of eye and earshot of the dandies and the ladies in their grand best
clothes at the promenades—and the rattling whirl of the roulette
wheel—and I liked to wander in the glum old gardens under the palace
wall, and imagine the Sleeping Beauty within there.
Some one persuaded us one day to break the charm, and see the
interior of the palace. I am sorry we did. There was no Sleeping
Beauty in any chamber that we saw; nor any fairies, good or
malevolent. There was a shabby set of clean old rooms, which looked
as if they had belonged to a prince hard put to it for money, and
whose tin crown jewels would not fetch more than King Stephen's
pantaloons. A fugitive prince, a brave prince struggling with the
storms of fate, a prince in exile may be poor; but a prince looking
out of his own palace windows with a dressing-gown out at elbows, and
dunned by his subject washerwoman—I say this is a painful object.
When they get shabby they ought not to be seen. "Don't you think so,
Lady Kicklebury?" Lady Kicklebury evidently had calculated the price
of the carpets and hangings, and set them justly down at a low figure.
"These German princes," she said, "are not to be put on a level with
English noblemen." "Indeed," we answer, "there is nothing so perfect
as England: nothing so good as our aristocracy; nothing so perfect as
our institutions." "Nothing! NOTHING!" says Lady K.
An English princess was once brought to reign here; and almost the
whole of the little court was kept upon her dowry. The people still
regard her name fondly; and they show, at the Schloss, the rooms which
she inhabited. Her old books are still there—her old furniture
brought from home; the presents and keepsakes sent by her family are
as they were in the princess's lifetime: the very clock has the name
of a Windsor maker on its face; and portraits of all her numerous race
decorate the homely walls of the now empty chambers. There is the
benighted old king, his beard hanging down to the star on his breast;
and the first gentleman of Europe—so lavish of his portrait
everywhere, and so chary of showing his royal person—all the stalwart
brothers of the now all but extinct generation are there; their
quarrels and their pleasures, their glories and disgraces, enemies,
flatterers, detractors, admirers— all now buried. Is it not curious
to think that the King of Trumps now virtually reigns in this place,
and has deposed the other dynasty?
Very early one morning, wishing to have a sketch of the White Tower
in which our English princess had been imprisoned, I repaired to the
gardens, and set about a work, which, when completed, will no doubt
have the honor of a place on the line at the Exhibition; and,
returning homewards to breakfast, musing upon the strange fortunes
and inhabitants of the queer, fantastic, melancholy place, behold, I
came suddenly upon a couple of persons, a male and a female; the
latter of whom wore a blue hood or "ugly," and blushed very much on
seeing me. The man began to laugh behind his moustaches, the which
cachinnation was checked by an appealing look from the young lady;
and he held out his hand and said, "How d'ye do, Titmarsh? Been out
making some cawickachaws, hay?"
I need not say that the youth before me was the heavy dragoon, and
that the maiden was Miss Fanny Kicklebury. Or need I repeat that, in
the course of my blighted being, I never loved a young gazelle to glad
me with its dark blue eye, but when it came to, the usual
disappointment, was sure to ensue? There is no necessity why I should
allude to my feelings at this most manifest and outrageous case. I
gave a withering glance of scorn at the pair, and, with a stately
salutation, passed on.
Miss Fanny came tripping after me. She held out her little hand
with such a pretty look of deprecation, that I could not but take it;
and she said, "Mr. Titmarsh, if you please, I want to speak to you, if
you please;" and, choking with emotion, I bade her speak on.
"My brother knows all about it, and, highly approves of Captain
Hicks," she said, with her head hanging down; "and oh, he's very good
and kind: and I know him MUCH better now, than I did when we were on
board the steamer."
I thought how I had mimicked him, and what an ass I had been.
"And you know," she continued, "that you have quite deserted me for
the last ten days for your great acquaintances."
"I have been to play chess with Lord Knightsbridge, who has the
"And to drink tea constantly with that American lady; and you have
written verses in her album; and in Lavinia's album; and as I saw
that you had quite thrown me off, why I—my brother approves of it
highly; and—and Captain Hicks likes you very much, and says you
amuse him very much—indeed he does," says the arch little wretch.
And then she added a postscript, as it were to her letter, which
contained, as usual, the point which she wished to urge:—
"You—won't break it to mamma—will you be so kind? My brother
will do that"—and I promised her; and she ran away, kissing her hand
to me. And I did not say a word to Lady Kicklebury, and not above a
thousand people at Noirbourg knew that Miss Kicklebury and Captain
Hicks were engaged.
And now let those who are too confident of their virtue listen to
the truthful and melancholy story which I have to relate, and humble
themselves, and bear in mind that the most perfect among us are
occasionally liable to fall. Kicklebury was not perfect,—I do not
defend his practice. He spent a great deal more time and money than
was good for him at M. Lenoir's gaming-table, and the only thing which
the young fellow never lost was his good humor. If Fortune shook her
swift wings and fled away from him, he laughed at the retreating
pinions, and you saw him dancing and laughing as gayly after losing a
rouleau, as if he was made of money, and really had the five thousand
a year which his mother said was the amount of the Kicklebury
property. But when her ladyship's jointure, and the young ladies'
allowances, and the interest of mortgages were paid out of the five
thousand a year, I grieve to say that the gallant Kicklebury's income
was to be counted by hundreds and not by thousands; so that, for any
young lady who wants a carriage (and who can live without one?) our
friend the baronet is not a desirable specimen of bachelors. Now,
whether it was that the presence of his mamma interrupted his
pleasures, or certain of her ways did not please him, or that he had
lost all his money at roulette and could afford no more, certain it
is, that after about a fortnight's stay at Noirbourg, he went off to
shoot with Count Einhorn in Westphalia; he and Hicks parting the
dearest of friends, and the baronet going off on a pony which the
captain lent to him. Between him and Millikin, his brother-in-law,
there was not much sympathy: for he pronounced Mr. Milliken to be what
is called a muff; and had never been familiar with his elder sister
Lavinia, of whose poems he had a mean opinion, and who used to tease
and worry him by teaching him French, and telling tales of him to his
mamma, when he was a schoolboy home for the holidays. Whereas, between
the baronet and Miss Fanny there seemed to be the closest affection:
they walked together every morning to the waters; they joked and
laughed with each other as happily as possible. Fanny was almost
ready to tell fibs to screen her brother's malpractices from her
mamma: she cried when she heard of his mishaps, and that he had lost
too much money at the green table; and when Sir Thomas went away, the
good little soul brought him five louis; which was all the money she
had: for you see she paid her mother handsomely for her board; and
when her little gloves and milliner's bills were settled how much was
there left out of two hundred a year? And she cried when she heard
that Hicks had lent Sir Thomas money, and went up and said, "Thank
you, Captain Hicks;" and shook hands with the captain so eagerly, that
I thought he was a lucky fellow, who had a father a wealthy attorney
in Bedford Row. Heighho! I saw how matters were going. The birds
MUST sing in the spring-time, and the flowers bud.
Mrs. Milliken, in her character of invalid, took the advantage of
her situation to have her husband constantly about her, reading to
her, or fetching the doctor to her, or watching her whilst she was
dozing, and so forth; and Lady Kicklebury found the life which this
pair led rather more monotonous than that sort of existence which she
liked, and would leave them alone with Fanny (Captain Hicks not
uncommonly coming in to take tea with the three), whilst her ladyship
went to the Redoute to hear the music, or read the papers, or play a
game of whist there.
The newspaper-room at Noirbourg is next to the roulette-room, into
which the doors are always open; and Lady K. would come, with
newspaper in hand, into this play-room, sometimes, and look on at the
gamesters. I have mentioned a little Russian boy, a little imp with
the most mischievous intelligence and good humor in his face, who was
suffered by his parents to play as much as he chose, and who pulled
bonbons out of one pocket and Napoleons out of the other, and seemed
to have quite a diabolical luck at the table.
Lady Kicklebury's terror and interest at seeing this boy were
extreme. She watched him and watched him, and he seemed always to
win; and at last her ladyship put down just a florin—only just one
florin—on one of the numbers at roulette which the little Russian
imp was backing. Number twenty-seven came up, and the croupiers
flung over three gold pieces and five florins to Lady Kicklebury,
which she raked up with a trembling hand.
She did not play any more that night, but sat in the playroom,
pretending to read the Times newspaper; but you could see her eye
peering over the sheet, and always fixed on the little imp of a
Russian. He had very good luck that night, and his winning made her
very savage. As he retired, rolling his gold pieces into his pocket
and sucking his barley-sugar, she glared after him with angry eyes;
and went home, and scolded everybody, and had no sleep. I could hear
her scolding. Our apartments in the Tissisch House overlooked Lady
Kicklebury's suite of rooms: the great windows were open in the
autumn. Yes; I could hear her scolding, and see some other people
sitting whispering in the embrasure, or looking out on the harvest
The next evening, Lady Kicklebury shirked away from the concert;
and I saw her in the play-room again, going round and round the
table; and, lying in ambush behind the Journal des Debats, I marked
how, after looking stealthily round, my lady whipped a piece of money
under the croupier's elbow, and (there having been no coin there
previously) I saw a florin on the Zero.
She lost that, and walked away. Then she came back and put down
two florins on a number, and lost again, and became very red and
angry; then she retreated, and came back a third time, and a seat
being vacated by a player, Lady Kicklebury sat down at the verdant
board. Ah me! She had a pretty good evening, and carried off a
little money again that night. The next day was Sunday: she gave two
florins at the collection at church, to Fanny's surprise at mamma's
liberality. On this night of course there was no play. Her ladyship
wrote letters, and read a sermon.
But the next night she was back at the table; and won very
plentifully, until the little Russian sprite made his appearance,
when it seemed that her luck changed. She began to bet upon him, and
the young Calmuck lost too. Her ladyship's temper went along with her
money: first she backed the Calmuck, and then she played against him.
When she played against him, his luck turned; and he began
straightway to win. She put on more and more money as she lost: her
winnings went: gold came out of secret pockets. She had but a florin
left at last, and tried it on a number, and failed. She got up to go
away. I watched her, and I watched Mr. Justice Aeacus, too, who put
down a Napoleon when he thought nobody was looking.
The next day my Lady Kicklebury walked over to the money-changers,
where she changed a couple of circular notes. She was at the table
that night again: and the next night, and the next night, and the
By about the fifth day she was like a wild woman. She scolded so,
that Hirsch, the courier, said he should retire from monsieur's
service, as he was not hired by Lady Kicklebury: that Bowman gave
warning, and told another footman in the building that he wouldn't
stand the old cat no longer, blow him if he would: that the maid (who
was a Kicklebury girl) and Fanny cried: and that Mrs. Milliken's maid,
Finch, complained to her mistress, who ordered her husband to
remonstrate with her mother. Milliken remonstrated with his usual
mildness, and, of course, was routed by her ladyship. Mrs. Milliken
said, "Give me the daggers," and came to her husband's rescue. A
battle royal ensued; the scared Milliken hanging about his blessed
Lavinia, and entreating and imploring her to be calm. Mrs. Milliken
WAS calm. She asserted her dignity as mistress of her own family: as
controller of her own household, as wife of her adored husband; and
she told her mamma, that with her or here she must not interfere; that
she knew her duty as a child: but that she also knew it as a wife, as
a— The rest of the sentence was drowned, as Milliken, rushing to
her, called her his soul's angel, his adored blessing.
Lady Kicklebury remarked that Shakspeare was very right in stating
how much sharper than a thankless tooth it is to have a serpent
Mrs. Milliken said, the conversation could not be carried on in
this manner: that it was best her mamma should now know, once for
all, that the way in which she assumed the command at Pigeoncot was
intolerable; that all the servants had given warning, and it was with
the greatest difficulty they could be soothed: and that, as their
living together only led to quarrels and painful recriminations (the
calling her, after her forbearance, A SERPENT CHILD, was an expression
which she would hope to forgive and forget,) they had better part.
Lady Kicklebury wears a front, and, I make no doubt, a complete
jasey; or she certainly would have let down her back hair at this
minute, so overpowering were her feelings, and so bitter her
indignation at her daughter's black ingratitude. She intimated some
of her sentiments, by ejaculatory conjurations of evil. She hoped her
daughter might NOT feel what ingratitude was; that SHE might never
have children to turn on her and bring her to the grave with grief.
"Bring me to the grave with fiddlestick!" Mrs. Milliken said with
some asperity. "And, as we are going to part, mamma, and as Horace
has paid EVERYTHING on the journey as yet, and we have only brought a
VERY few circular notes with us, perhaps you will have the kindness to
give him your share of the travelling expenses—for you, for Fanny,
and your two servants whom you WOULD bring with you: and the man has
only been a perfect hindrance and great useless log, and our courier
has had to do EVERYTHING. Your share is now eighty-two pounds."
Lady Kicklebury at this gave three screams, so loud that even the
resolute Lavinia stopped in her speech. Her ladyship looked wildly:
"Lavinia! Horace! Fanny my child," she said, "come here, and listen
to your mother's shame."
"What?" cried Horace, aghast.
"I am ruined! I am a beggar! Yes; a beggar. I have lost all—all
at yonder dreadful table."
"How do you mean all? How much is all?" asked Horace.
"All the money I brought with me, Horace. I intended to have paid
the whole expenses of the journey: yours, this ungrateful child's—
everything. But, a week ago, having seen a lovely baby's lace dress
at the lace-shop; and—and—won enough at wh—wh—whoo—ist to pay for
it, all but two—two florins—in an evil moment I went to the
roulette-table—and lost—every shilling: and now, on may knees before
you, I confess my shame."
I am not a tragic painter, and certainly won't attempt to depict
THIS harrowing scene. But what could she mean by saying she wished
to pay everything? She had but two twenty-pound notes: and how she
was to have paid all the expenses of the tour with that small sum, I
The confession, however, had the effect of mollifying poor Milliken
and his wife: after the latter had learned that her mamma had no
money at all at her London bankers', and had overdrawn her account
there, Lavinia consented that Horace should advance her fifty pounds
upon her ladyship's solemn promise of repayment.
And now it was agreed that this highly respectable lady should
return to England, quick as she might: somewhat sooner than all the
rest of the public did; and leave Mr. and Mrs. Horace Milliken behind
her, as the waters were still considered highly salutary to that most
interesting invalid. And to England Lady Kicklebury went; taking
advantage of Lord Talboys' return thither to place herself under his
lordship's protection; as if the enormous Bowman was not protector
sufficient for her ladyship; and as if Captain Hicks would have
allowed any mortal man, any German student, any French tourist, any
Prussian whiskerando, to do a harm to Miss Fanny! For though Hicks is
not a brilliant or poetical genius, I am bound to say that the fellow
has good sense, good manners, and a good heart; and with these
qualities, a competent sum of money, and a pair of exceedingly
handsome moustaches, perhaps the poor little Mrs. Launcelot Hicks may
No accident befell Lady Kicklebury on her voyage homewards: but she
got one more lesson at Aix-la-Chapelle, which may serve to make her
ladyship more cautious for the future: for, seeing Madame la
Princesse de Mogador enter into a carriage on the railway, into which
Lord Talboys followed, nothing would content Lady Kicklebury but to
rush into the carriage after this noble pair; and the vehicle turned
out to be what is called on the German lines, and what I wish were
established in England, the Rauch Coupe. Having seated himself in
this vehicle, and looked rather sulkily at my lady, Lord Talboys began
to smoke: which, as the son of an English earl, heir to many thousands
per annum, Lady Kicklebury permitted him to do. And she introduced
herself to Madame la Princesse de Mogador, mentioning to her highness
that she had the pleasure of meeting Madame la Princesse at
Rougetnoirbourg; that she, Lady K., was the mother of the Chevalier de
Kicklebury, who had the advantage of the acquaintance of Madame la
Princesse; and that she hoped Madame la Princesse had enjoyed her stay
at the waters. To these advances the Princess of Mogador returned a
gracious and affable salutation, exchanging glances of peculiar
meaning with two highly respectable bearded gentlemen who travelled in
her suite; and, when asked by milady whereabouts her highness's
residence was at Paris, said that her hotel was in the Rue Notre Dame
de Lorette: where Lady Kicklebury hoped to have the honor of waiting
upon Madame la Princesse de Mogador.
But when one of the bearded gentlemen called the princess by the
familiar name of Fifine, and the other said, "Veux-tu fumer,
Mogador?" and the princess actually took a cigar and began to smoke,
Lady Kicklebury was aghast, and trembled; and presently Lord Talboys
burst into a loud fit of laughter.
"What is the cause of your lordship's amusement?" asked the
dowager, looking very much frightened, and blushing like a maiden of
"Excuse me, Lady Kicklebury, but I can't help it," he said.
"You've been talking to your opposite neighbor—she don't understand
a word of English—and calling her princess and highness, and she's no
more a princess than you or I. She is a little milliner in the street
she mentioned, and she dances at Mabille and Chateau Rouge."
Hearing these two familiar names, the princess looked hard at Lord
Talboys, but he never lost countenance; and at the next station Lady
Kicklebury rushed out of the smoking-carriage and returned to her own
place; where, I dare say, Captain Hicks and Miss Fanny were delighted
once more to have the advantage of her company and conversation. And
so they went back to England, and the Kickleburys were no longer seen
on the Rhine. If her ladyship is not cured of hunting after great
people, it will not be for want of warning: but which of us in life
has not had many warnings: and is it for lack of them that we stick to
our little failings still?
When the Kickleburys were gone, that merry little Rougetnoirbourg
did not seem the same place to me, somehow. The sun shone still, but
the wind came down cold from the purple hills; the band played, but
their tunes were stale; the promenaders paced the alleys, but I knew
all their faces: as I looked out of my windows in the Tissisch house
upon the great blank casements lately occupied by the Kickleburys, and
remembered what a pretty face I had seen looking thence but a few days
back, I cared not to look any longer; and though Mrs. Milliken did
invite me to tea, and talked fine arts and poetry over the meal, both
the beverage and the conversation seemed very weak and insipid to me,
and I fell asleep once in my chair opposite that highly cultivated
being. "Let us go back, Lankin," said I to the Serjeant, and he was
nothing loth; for most of the other serjeants, barristers, and Queen's
counsel were turning homewards, by this time, the period of term time
summoning them all to the Temple.
So we went straight one day to Biberich on the Rhine, and found the
little town full of Britons, all trooping home like ourselves.
Everybody comes, and everybody goes away again, at about the same
time. The Rhine innkeepers say that their customers cease with a
single day almost:—that in three days they shall have ninety,
eighty, a hundred guests; on the fourth, ten or eight. We do as our
neighbors do. Though we don't speak to each other much when we are
out a-pleasuring, we take our holiday in common, and go back to our
work in gangs. Little Biberich was so full, that Lankin and I could
not get rooms at the large inns frequented by other persons of
fashion, and could only procure a room between us, "at the German
House, where you find English comfort," says the advertisement, "with
But oh, the English comfort of those beds! How did Lankin manage
in his, with his great long legs? How did I toss and tumble in mine;
which, small as it was, I was not destined to enjoy alone, but to pass
the night in company with anthropophagous wretched reptiles, who took
their horrid meal off an English Christian! I thought the morning
would never come; and when the tardy dawn at length arrived, and as I
was in my first sleep, dreaming of Miss Fanny, behold I was wakened up
by the Serjeant, already dressed and shaven, and who said, "Rise,
Titmarsh, the steamer will be here in three-quarters of an hour." And
the modest gentleman retired, and left me to dress.
The next morning we had passed by the rocks and towers, the old
familiar landscapes, the gleaming towns by the riverside, and the
green vineyards combed along the hills, and when I woke up, it was at
a great hotel at Cologne, and it was not sunrise yet.
Deutz lay opposite, and over Deutz the dusky sky was reddened. The
hills were veiled in the mist and the gray. The gray river flowed
underneath us; the steamers were roosting along the quays, a light
keeping watch in the cabins here and there, and its reflections
quivering in the water. As I look, the sky-line towards the east
grows redder and redder. A long troop of gray horsemen winds down
the river road, and passes over the bridge of boats. You might take
them for ghosts, those gray horsemen, so shadowy do they look; but you
hear the trample of their hoofs as they pass over the planks. Every
minute the dawn twinkles up into the twilight; and over Deutz the
heaven blushes brighter. The quays begin to fill with men: the carts
begin to creak and rattle, and wake the sleeping echoes. Ding, ding,
ding, the steamers' bells begin to ring: the people on board to stir
and wake: the lights may be extinguished, and take their turn of
sleep: the active boats shake themselves, and push out into the river:
the great bridge opens, and gives them passage: the church bells of
the city begin to clink: the cavalry trumpets blow from the opposite
bank: the sailor is at the wheel, the porter at his burden, the
soldier at his musket, and the priest at his prayers. . . .
And lo! in a flash of crimson splendor, with blazing scarlet clouds
running before his chariot, and heralding his majestic approach,
God's sun rises upon the world, and all nature wakens and brightens.
O glorious spectacle of light and life! O beatific symbol of
Power, Love, Joy, Beauty! Let us look at thee with humble wonder,
and thankfully acknowledge and adore. What gracious forethought is
it—what generous and loving provision, that deigns to prepare for
our eyes and to soothe our hearts with such a splendid morning
festival! For these magnificent bounties of heaven to us, let us be
thankful, even that we can feel thankful—(for thanks surely is the
noblest effort, as it is the greatest delight, of the gentle
soul)—and so, a grace for this feast, let all say who partake of it.
See! the mist clears off Drachenfels, and it looks out from the
distance, and bids us a friendly farewell. Farewell to holiday and
sunshine; farewell to kindly sport and pleasant leisure! Let us say
good-by to the Rhine, friend. Fogs, and cares, and labor are awaiting
us by the Thames; and a kind face or two looking out for us to cheer
and bid us welcome.