Mudfog and Other Sketches
by Charles Dickens
OF MR. TULRUMBLE—ONCE
MAYOR OF MUDFOG
FULL REPORT OF
MEETING OF THE
FULL REPORT OF
MEETING OF THE
THE PANTOMIME OF
FROM A PARENT TO
A CHILD AGED TWO
YEARS AND TWO
PUBLIC LIFE OF MR. TULRUMBLE—ONCE MAYOR OF MUDFOG
Mudfog is a pleasant town—a remarkably pleasant town—situated in a
charming hollow by the side of a river, from which river, Mudfog
derives an agreeable scent of pitch, tar, coals, and rope-yarn, a
roving population in oilskin hats, a pretty steady influx of drunken
bargemen, and a great many other maritime advantages. There is a good
deal of water about Mudfog, and yet it is not exactly the sort of town
for a watering-place, either. Water is a perverse sort of element at
the best of times, and in Mudfog it is particularly so. In winter, it
comes oozing down the streets and tumbling over the fields,—nay,
rushes into the very cellars and kitchens of the houses, with a lavish
prodigality that might well be dispensed with; but in the hot summer
weather it will dry up, and turn green: and, although green is a
very good colour in its way, especially in grass, still it certainly is
not becoming to water; and it cannot be denied that the beauty of
Mudfog is rather impaired, even by this trifling circumstance. Mudfog
is a healthy place—very healthy;—damp, perhaps, but none the worse
for that. It's quite a mistake to suppose that damp is unwholesome:
plants thrive best in damp situations, and why shouldn't men? The
inhabitants of Mudfog are unanimous in asserting that there exists not
a finer race of people on the face of the earth; here we have an
indisputable and veracious contradiction of the vulgar error at once.
So, admitting Mudfog to be damp, we distinctly state that it is
The town of Mudfog is extremely picturesque. Limehouse and Ratcliff
Highway are both something like it, but they give you a very faint idea
of Mudfog. There are a great many more public-houses in Mudfog—more
than in Ratcliff Highway and Limehouse put together. The public
buildings, too, are very imposing. We consider the town-hall one of
the finest specimens of shed architecture, extant: it is a combination
of the pig-sty and tea-garden-box orders; and the simplicity of its
design is of surpassing beauty. The idea of placing a large window on
one side of the door, and a small one on the other, is particularly
happy. There is a fine old Doric beauty, too, about the padlock and
scraper, which is strictly in keeping with the general effect.
In this room do the mayor and corporation of Mudfog assemble together
in solemn council for the public weal. Seated on the massive wooden
benches, which, with the table in the centre, form the only furniture
of the whitewashed apartment, the sage men of Mudfog spend hour after
hour in grave deliberation. Here they settle at what hour of the night
the public-houses shall be closed, at what hour of the morning they
shall be permitted to open, how soon it shall be lawful for people to
eat their dinner on church-days, and other great political questions;
and sometimes, long after silence has fallen on the town, and the
distant lights from the shops and houses have ceased to twinkle, like
far-off stars, to the sight of the boatmen on the river, the
illumination in the two unequal-sized windows of the town-hall, warns
the inhabitants of Mudfog that its little body of legislators, like a
larger and better-known body of the same genus, a great deal more
noisy, and not a whit more profound, are patriotically dozing away in
company, far into the night, for their country's good.
Among this knot of sage and learned men, no one was so eminently
distinguished, during many years, for the quiet modesty of his
appearance and demeanour, as Nicholas Tulrumble, the well-known
coal-dealer. However exciting the subject of discussion, however
animated the tone of the debate, or however warm the personalities
exchanged, (and even in Mudfog we get personal sometimes,) Nicholas
Tulrumble was always the same. To say truth, Nicholas, being an
industrious man, and always up betimes, was apt to fall asleep when a
debate began, and to remain asleep till it was over, when he would wake
up very much refreshed, and give his vote with the greatest
complacency. The fact was, that Nicholas Tulrumble, knowing that
everybody there had made up his mind beforehand, considered the talking
as just a long botheration about nothing at all; and to the present
hour it remains a question, whether, on this point at all events,
Nicholas Tulrumble was not pretty near right.
Time, which strews a man's head with silver, sometimes fills his
pockets with gold. As he gradually performed one good office for
Nicholas Tulrumble, he was obliging enough, not to omit the other.
Nicholas began life in a wooden tenement of four feet square, with a
capital of two and ninepence, and a stock in trade of three bushels and
a-half of coals, exclusive of the large lump which hung, by way of
sign-board, outside. Then he enlarged the shed, and kept a truck; then
he left the shed, and the truck too, and started a donkey and a Mrs.
Tulrumble; then he moved again and set up a cart; the cart was soon
afterwards exchanged for a waggon; and so he went on like his great
predecessor Whittington—only without a cat for a partner—increasing
in wealth and fame, until at last he gave up business altogether, and
retired with Mrs. Tulrumble and family to Mudfog Hall, which he had
himself erected, on something which he attempted to delude himself into
the belief was a hill, about a quarter of a mile distant from the town
About this time, it began to be murmured in Mudfog that Nicholas
Tulrumble was growing vain and haughty; that prosperity and success had
corrupted the simplicity of his manners, and tainted the natural
goodness of his heart; in short, that he was setting up for a public
character, and a great gentleman, and affected to look down upon his
old companions with compassion and contempt. Whether these reports
were at the time well-founded, or not, certain it is that Mrs.
Tulrumble very shortly afterwards started a four-wheel chaise, driven
by a tall postilion in a yellow cap,—that Mr. Tulrumble junior took to
smoking cigars, and calling the footman a 'feller,'—and that Mr.
Tulrumble from that time forth, was no more seen in his old seat in the
chimney-corner of the Lighterman's Arms at night. This looked bad;
but, more than this, it began to be observed that Mr. Nicholas
Tulrumble attended the corporation meetings more frequently than
heretofore; and he no longer went to sleep as he had done for so many
years, but propped his eyelids open with his two forefingers; that he
read the newspapers by himself at home; and that he was in the habit of
indulging abroad in distant and mysterious allusions to 'masses of
people,' and 'the property of the country,' and 'productive power,' and
'the monied interest:' all of which denoted and proved that Nicholas
Tulrumble was either mad, or worse; and it puzzled the good people of
At length, about the middle of the month of October, Mr. Tulrumble
and family went up to London; the middle of October being, as Mrs.
Tulrumble informed her acquaintance in Mudfog, the very height of the
Somehow or other, just about this time, despite the health-preserving
air of Mudfog, the Mayor died. It was a most extraordinary
circumstance; he had lived in Mudfog for eighty-five years. The
corporation didn't understand it at all; indeed it was with great
difficulty that one old gentleman, who was a great stickler for forms,
was dissuaded from proposing a vote of censure on such unaccountable
conduct. Strange as it was, however, die he did, without taking the
slightest notice of the corporation; and the corporation were
imperatively called upon to elect his successor. So, they met for the
purpose; and being very full of Nicholas Tulrumble just then, and
Nicholas Tulrumble being a very important man, they elected him, and
wrote off to London by the very next post to acquaint Nicholas
Tulrumble with his new elevation.
Now, it being November time, and Mr. Nicholas Tulrumble being in the
capital, it fell out that he was present at the Lord Mayor's show and
dinner, at sight of the glory and splendour whereof, he, Mr. Tulrumble,
was greatly mortified, inasmuch as the reflection would force itself on
his mind, that, had he been born in London instead of in Mudfog, he
might have been a Lord Mayor too, and have patronized the judges, and
been affable to the Lord Chancellor, and friendly with the Premier, and
coldly condescending to the Secretary to the Treasury, and have dined
with a flag behind his back, and done a great many other acts and deeds
which unto Lord Mayors of London peculiarly appertain. The more he
thought of the Lord Mayor, the more enviable a personage he seemed. To
be a King was all very well; but what was the King to the Lord Mayor!
When the King made a speech, everybody knew it was somebody else's
writing; whereas here was the Lord Mayor, talking away for half an
hour-all out of his own head—amidst the enthusiastic applause of the
whole company, while it was notorious that the King might talk to his
parliament till he was black in the face without getting so much as a
single cheer. As all these reflections passed through the mind of Mr.
Nicholas Tulrumble, the Lord Mayor of London appeared to him the
greatest sovereign on the face of the earth, beating the Emperor of
Russia all to nothing, and leaving the Great Mogul immeasurably behind.
Mr. Nicholas Tulrumble was pondering over these things, and inwardly
cursing the fate which had pitched his coal-shed in Mudfog, when the
letter of the corporation was put into his hand. A crimson flush
mantled over his face as he read it, for visions of brightness were
already dancing before his imagination.
'My dear,' said Mr. Tulrumble to his wife, 'they have elected me,
Mayor of Mudfog.'
'Lor-a-mussy!' said Mrs. Tulrumble: 'why what's become of old
'The late Mr. Sniggs, Mrs. Tulrumble,' said Mr. Tulrumble sharply,
for he by no means approved of the notion of unceremoniously
designating a gentleman who filled the high office of Mayor, as 'Old
Sniggs,'—'The late Mr. Sniggs, Mrs. Tulrumble, is dead.'
The communication was very unexpected; but Mrs. Tulrumble only
ejaculated 'Lor-a-mussy!' once again, as if a Mayor were a mere
ordinary Christian, at which Mr. Tulrumble frowned gloomily.
'What a pity 'tan't in London, ain't it?' said Mrs. Tulrumble, after
a short pause; 'what a pity 'tan't in London, where you might have had
'I might have a show in Mudfog, if I thought proper, I
apprehend,' said Mr. Tulrumble mysteriously.
'Lor! so you might, I declare,' replied Mrs. Tulrumble.
'And a good one too,' said Mr. Tulrumble.
'Delightful!' exclaimed Mrs. Tulrumble.
'One which would rather astonish the ignorant people down there,'
said Mr. Tulrumble.
'It would kill them with envy,' said Mrs. Tulrumble.
So it was agreed that his Majesty's lieges in Mudfog should be
astonished with splendour, and slaughtered with envy, and that such a
show should take place as had never been seen in that town, or in any
other town before,—no, not even in London itself.
On the very next day after the receipt of the letter, down came the
tall postilion in a post-chaise,—not upon one of the horses, but
inside—actually inside the chaise,—and, driving up to the very door
of the town-hall, where the corporation were assembled, delivered a
letter, written by the Lord knows who, and signed by Nicholas
Tulrumble, in which Nicholas said, all through four sides of
closely-written, gilt-edged, hot-pressed, Bath post letter paper, that
he responded to the call of his fellow-townsmen with feelings of
heartfelt delight; that he accepted the arduous office which their
confidence had imposed upon him; that they would never find him
shrinking from the discharge of his duty; that he would endeavour to
execute his functions with all that dignity which their magnitude and
importance demanded; and a great deal more to the same effect. But
even this was not all. The tall postilion produced from his right-hand
top-boot, a damp copy of that afternoon's number of the county paper;
and there, in large type, running the whole length of the very first
column, was a long address from Nicholas Tulrumble to the inhabitants
of Mudfog, in which he said that he cheerfully complied with their
requisition, and, in short, as if to prevent any mistake about the
matter, told them over again what a grand fellow he meant to be, in
very much the same terms as those in which he had already told them all
about the matter in his letter.
The corporation stared at one another very hard at all this, and then
looked as if for explanation to the tall postilion, but as the tall
postilion was intently contemplating the gold tassel on the top of his
yellow cap, and could have afforded no explanation whatever, even if
his thoughts had been entirely disengaged, they contented themselves
with coughing very dubiously, and looking very grave. The tall
postilion then delivered another letter, in which Nicholas Tulrumble
informed the corporation, that he intended repairing to the town-hall,
in grand state and gorgeous procession, on the Monday afternoon next
ensuing. At this the corporation looked still more solemn; but, as the
epistle wound up with a formal invitation to the whole body to dine
with the Mayor on that day, at Mudfog Hall, Mudfog Hill, Mudfog, they
began to see the fun of the thing directly, and sent back their
compliments, and they'd be sure to come.
Now there happened to be in Mudfog, as somehow or other there does
happen to be, in almost every town in the British dominions, and
perhaps in foreign dominions too—we think it very likely, but, being
no great traveller, cannot distinctly say—there happened to be, in
Mudfog, a merry-tempered, pleasant-faced, good-for-nothing sort of
vagabond, with an invincible dislike to manual labour, and an
unconquerable attachment to strong beer and spirits, whom everybody
knew, and nobody, except his wife, took the trouble to quarrel with,
who inherited from his ancestors the appellation of Edward Twigger, and
rejoiced in the sobriquet of Bottle-nosed Ned. He was drunk
upon the average once a day, and penitent upon an equally fair
calculation once a month; and when he was penitent, he was invariably
in the very last stage of maudlin intoxication. He was a ragged,
roving, roaring kind of fellow, with a burly form, a sharp wit, and a
ready head, and could turn his hand to anything when he chose to do
it. He was by no means opposed to hard labour on principle, for he
would work away at a cricket-match by the day together,—running, and
catching, and batting, and bowling, and revelling in toil which would
exhaust a galley-slave. He would have been invaluable to a
fire-office; never was a man with such a natural taste for pumping
engines, running up ladders, and throwing furniture out of
two-pair-of-stairs' windows: nor was this the only element in which he
was at home; he was a humane society in himself, a portable drag, an
animated life-preserver, and had saved more people, in his time, from
drowning, than the Plymouth life-boat, or Captain Manby's apparatus.
With all these qualifications, notwithstanding his dissipation,
Bottle-nosed Ned was a general favourite; and the authorities of
Mudfog, remembering his numerous services to the population, allowed
him in return to get drunk in his own way, without the fear of stocks,
fine, or imprisonment. He had a general licence, and he showed his
sense of the compliment by making the most of it.
We have been thus particular in describing the character and
avocations of Bottle-nosed Ned, because it enables us to introduce a
fact politely, without hauling it into the reader's presence with
indecent haste by the head and shoulders, and brings us very naturally
to relate, that on the very same evening on which Mr. Nicholas
Tulrumble and family returned to Mudfog, Mr. Tulrumble's new secretary,
just imported from London, with a pale face and light whiskers, thrust
his head down to the very bottom of his neckcloth-tie, in at the
tap-room door of the Lighterman's Arms, and inquiring whether one Ned
Twigger was luxuriating within, announced himself as the bearer of a
message from Nicholas Tulrumble, Esquire, requiring Mr. Twigger's
immediate attendance at the hall, on private and particular business.
It being by no means Mr. Twigger's interest to affront the Mayor, he
rose from the fireplace with a slight sigh, and followed the
light-whiskered secretary through the dirt and wet of Mudfog streets,
up to Mudfog Hall, without further ado.
Mr. Nicholas Tulrumble was seated in a small cavern with a skylight,
which he called his library, sketching out a plan of the procession on
a large sheet of paper; and into the cavern the secretary ushered Ned
'Well, Twigger!' said Nicholas Tulrumble, condescendingly.
There was a time when Twigger would have replied, 'Well, Nick!' but
that was in the days of the truck, and a couple of years before the
donkey; so, he only bowed.
'I want you to go into training, Twigger,' said Mr. Tulrumble.
'What for, sir?' inquired Ned, with a stare.
'Hush, hush, Twigger!' said the Mayor. 'Shut the door, Mr.
Jennings. Look here, Twigger.'
As the Mayor said this, he unlocked a high closet, and disclosed a
complete suit of brass armour, of gigantic dimensions.
'I want you to wear this next Monday, Twigger,' said the Mayor.
'Bless your heart and soul, sir!' replied Ned, 'you might as well ask
me to wear a seventy-four pounder, or a cast-iron boiler.'
'Nonsense, Twigger, nonsense!' said the Mayor.
'I couldn't stand under it, sir,' said Twigger; 'it would make mashed
potatoes of me, if I attempted it.'
'Pooh, pooh, Twigger!' returned the Mayor. 'I tell you I have seen
it done with my own eyes, in London, and the man wasn't half such a man
as you are, either.'
'I should as soon have thought of a man's wearing the case of an
eight-day clock to save his linen,' said Twigger, casting a look of
apprehension at the brass suit.
'It's the easiest thing in the world,' rejoined the Mayor.
'It's nothing,' said Mr. Jennings.
'When you're used to it,' added Ned.
'You do it by degrees,' said the Mayor. 'You would begin with one
piece to-morrow, and two the next day, and so on, till you had got it
all on. Mr. Jennings, give Twigger a glass of rum. Just try the
breast-plate, Twigger. Stay; take another glass of rum first. Help me
to lift it, Mr. Jennings. Stand firm, Twigger! There!—it isn't half
as heavy as it looks, is it?'
Twigger was a good strong, stout fellow; so, after a great deal of
staggering, he managed to keep himself up, under the breastplate, and
even contrived, with the aid of another glass of rum, to walk about in
it, and the gauntlets into the bargain. He made a trial of the helmet,
but was not equally successful, inasmuch as he tipped over
instantly,—an accident which Mr. Tulrumble clearly demonstrated to be
occasioned by his not having a counteracting weight of brass on his
'Now, wear that with grace and propriety on Monday next,' said
Tulrumble, 'and I'll make your fortune.'
'I'll try what I can do, sir,' said Twigger.
'It must be kept a profound secret,' said Tulrumble.
'Of course, sir,' replied Twigger.
'And you must be sober,' said Tulrumble; 'perfectly sober.' Mr.
Twigger at once solemnly pledged himself to be as sober as a judge, and
Nicholas Tulrumble was satisfied, although, had we been Nicholas, we
should certainly have exacted some promise of a more specific nature;
inasmuch as, having attended the Mudfog assizes in the evening more
than once, we can solemnly testify to having seen judges with very
strong symptoms of dinner under their wigs. However, that's neither
here nor there.
The next day, and the day following, and the day after that, Ned
Twigger was securely locked up in the small cavern with the sky-light,
hard at work at the armour. With every additional piece he could
manage to stand upright in, he had an additional glass of rum; and at
last, after many partial suffocations, he contrived to get on the whole
suit, and to stagger up and down the room in it, like an intoxicated
effigy from Westminster Abbey.
Never was man so delighted as Nicholas Tulrumble; never was woman so
charmed as Nicholas Tulrumble's wife. Here was a sight for the common
people of Mudfog! A live man in brass armour! Why, they would go wild
The day—the Monday—arrived.
If the morning had been made to order, it couldn't have been better
adapted to the purpose. They never showed a better fog in London on
Lord Mayor's day, than enwrapped the town of Mudfog on that eventful
occasion. It had risen slowly and surely from the green and stagnant
water with the first light of morning, until it reached a little above
the lamp-post tops; and there it had stopped, with a sleepy, sluggish
obstinacy, which bade defiance to the sun, who had got up very
blood-shot about the eyes, as if he had been at a drinking-party
over-night, and was doing his day's work with the worst possible
grace. The thick damp mist hung over the town like a huge gauze
curtain. All was dim and dismal. The church steeples had bidden a
temporary adieu to the world below; and every object of lesser
importance—houses, barns, hedges, trees, and barges—had all taken the
The church-clock struck one. A cracked trumpet from the front garden
of Mudfog Hall produced a feeble flourish, as if some asthmatic person
had coughed into it accidentally; the gate flew open, and out came a
gentleman, on a moist-sugar coloured charger, intended to represent a
herald, but bearing a much stronger resemblance to a court-card on
horseback. This was one of the Circus people, who always came down to
Mudfog at that time of the year, and who had been engaged by Nicholas
Tulrumble expressly for the occasion. There was the horse, whisking
his tail about, balancing himself on his hind-legs, and flourishing
away with his fore-feet, in a manner which would have gone to the
hearts and souls of any reasonable crowd. But a Mudfog crowd never was
a reasonable one, and in all probability never will be. Instead of
scattering the very fog with their shouts, as they ought most
indubitably to have done, and were fully intended to do, by Nicholas
Tulrumble, they no sooner recognized the herald, than they began to
growl forth the most unqualified disapprobation at the bare notion of
his riding like any other man. If he had come out on his head indeed,
or jumping through a hoop, or flying through a red-hot drum, or even
standing on one leg with his other foot in his mouth, they might have
had something to say to him; but for a professional gentleman to sit
astride in the saddle, with his feet in the stirrups, was rather too
good a joke. So, the herald was a decided failure, and the crowd
hooted with great energy, as he pranced ingloriously away.
On the procession came. We are afraid to say how many
supernumeraries there were, in striped shirts and black velvet caps, to
imitate the London watermen, or how many base imitations of
running-footmen, or how many banners, which, owing to the heaviness of
the atmosphere, could by no means be prevailed on to display their
inscriptions: still less do we feel disposed to relate how the men who
played the wind instruments, looking up into the sky (we mean the fog)
with musical fervour, walked through pools of water and hillocks of
mud, till they covered the powdered heads of the running-footmen
aforesaid with splashes, that looked curious, but not ornamental; or
how the barrel-organ performer put on the wrong stop, and played one
tune while the band played another; or how the horses, being used to
the arena, and not to the streets, would stand still and dance, instead
of going on and prancing;—all of which are matters which might be
dilated upon to great advantage, but which we have not the least
intention of dilating upon, notwithstanding.
Oh! it was a grand and beautiful sight to behold a corporation in
glass coaches, provided at the sole cost and charge of Nicholas
Tulrumble, coming rolling along, like a funeral out of mourning, and to
watch the attempts the corporation made to look great and solemn, when
Nicholas Tulrumble himself, in the four-wheel chaise, with the tall
postilion, rolled out after them, with Mr. Jennings on one side to look
like a chaplain, and a supernumerary on the other, with an old
life-guardsman's sabre, to imitate the sword-bearer; and to see the
tears rolling down the faces of the mob as they screamed with
merriment. This was beautiful! and so was the appearance of Mrs.
Tulrumble and son, as they bowed with grave dignity out of their
coach-window to all the dirty faces that were laughing around them: but
it is not even with this that we have to do, but with the sudden
stopping of the procession at another blast of the trumpet, whereat,
and whereupon, a profound silence ensued, and all eyes were turned
towards Mudfog Hall, in the confident anticipation of some new wonder.
'They won't laugh now, Mr. Jennings,' said Nicholas Tulrumble.
'I think not, sir,' said Mr. Jennings.
'See how eager they look,' said Nicholas Tulrumble. 'Aha! the laugh
will be on our side now; eh, Mr. Jennings?'
'No doubt of that, sir,' replied Mr. Jennings; and Nicholas
Tulrumble, in a state of pleasurable excitement, stood up in the
four-wheel chaise, and telegraphed gratification to the Mayoress
While all this was going forward, Ned Twigger had descended into the
kitchen of Mudfog Hall for the purpose of indulging the servants with a
private view of the curiosity that was to burst upon the town; and,
somehow or other, the footman was so companionable, and the housemaid
so kind, and the cook so friendly, that he could not resist the offer
of the first-mentioned to sit down and take something—just to drink
success to master in.
So, down Ned Twigger sat himself in his brass livery on the top of
the kitchen-table; and in a mug of something strong, paid for by the
unconscious Nicholas Tulrumble, and provided by the companionable
footman, drank success to the Mayor and his procession; and, as Ned
laid by his helmet to imbibe the something strong, the companionable
footman put it on his own head, to the immeasurable and unrecordable
delight of the cook and housemaid. The companionable footman was very
facetious to Ned, and Ned was very gallant to the cook and housemaid by
turns. They were all very cosy and comfortable; and the something
strong went briskly round.
At last Ned Twigger was loudly called for, by the procession people:
and, having had his helmet fixed on, in a very complicated manner, by
the companionable footman, and the kind housemaid, and the friendly
cook, he walked gravely forth, and appeared before the multitude.
The crowd roared—it was not with wonder, it was not with surprise;
it was most decidedly and unquestionably with laughter.
'What!' said Mr. Tulrumble, starting up in the four-wheel chaise.
'Laughing? If they laugh at a man in real brass armour, they'd laugh
when their own fathers were dying. Why doesn't he go into his place,
Mr. Jennings? What's he rolling down towards us for? he has no
'I am afraid, sir—' faltered Mr. Jennings.
'Afraid of what, sir?' said Nicholas Tulrumble, looking up into the
'I am afraid he's drunk, sir,' replied Mr. Jennings.
Nicholas Tulrumble took one look at the extraordinary figure that was
bearing down upon them; and then, clasping his secretary by the arm,
uttered an audible groan in anguish of spirit.
It is a melancholy fact that Mr. Twigger having full licence to
demand a single glass of rum on the putting on of every piece of the
armour, got, by some means or other, rather out of his calculation in
the hurry and confusion of preparation, and drank about four glasses to
a piece instead of one, not to mention the something strong which went
on the top of it. Whether the brass armour checked the natural flow of
perspiration, and thus prevented the spirit from evaporating, we are
not scientific enough to know; but, whatever the cause was, Mr. Twigger
no sooner found himself outside the gate of Mudfog Hall, than he also
found himself in a very considerable state of intoxication; and hence
his extraordinary style of progressing. This was bad enough, but, as
if fate and fortune had conspired against Nicholas Tulrumble, Mr.
Twigger, not having been penitent for a good calendar month, took it
into his head to be most especially and particularly sentimental, just
when his repentance could have been most conveniently dispensed with.
Immense tears were rolling down his cheeks, and he was vainly
endeavouring to conceal his grief by applying to his eyes a blue cotton
pocket-handkerchief with white spots,—an article not strictly in
keeping with a suit of armour some three hundred years old, or
'Twigger, you villain!' said Nicholas Tulrumble, quite forgetting his
dignity, 'go back.'
'Never,' said Ned. 'I'm a miserable wretch. I'll never leave you.'
The by-standers of course received this declaration with acclamations
of 'That's right, Ned; don't!'
'I don't intend it,' said Ned, with all the obstinacy of a very tipsy
man. 'I'm very unhappy. I'm the wretched father of an unfortunate
family; but I am very faithful, sir. I'll never leave you.' Having
reiterated this obliging promise, Ned proceeded in broken words to
harangue the crowd upon the number of years he had lived in Mudfog, the
excessive respectability of his character, and other topics of the like
'Here! will anybody lead him away?' said Nicholas: 'if they'll call
on me afterwards, I'll reward them well.'
Two or three men stepped forward, with the view of bearing Ned off,
when the secretary interposed.
'Take care! take care!' said Mr. Jennings. 'I beg your pardon, sir;
but they'd better not go too near him, because, if he falls over, he'll
certainly crush somebody.'
At this hint the crowd retired on all sides to a very respectful
distance, and left Ned, like the Duke of Devonshire, in a little circle
of his own.
'But, Mr. Jennings,' said Nicholas Tulrumble, 'he'll be suffocated.'
'I'm very sorry for it, sir,' replied Mr. Jennings; 'but nobody can
get that armour off, without his own assistance. I'm quite certain of
it from the way he put it on.'
Here Ned wept dolefully, and shook his helmeted head, in a manner
that might have touched a heart of stone; but the crowd had not hearts
of stone, and they laughed heartily.
'Dear me, Mr. Jennings,' said Nicholas, turning pale at the
possibility of Ned's being smothered in his antique costume—'Dear me,
Mr. Jennings, can nothing be done with him?'
'Nothing at all,' replied Ned, 'nothing at all. Gentlemen, I'm an
unhappy wretch. I'm a body, gentlemen, in a brass coffin.' At this
poetical idea of his own conjuring up, Ned cried so much that the
people began to get sympathetic, and to ask what Nicholas Tulrumble
meant by putting a man into such a machine as that; and one individual
in a hairy waistcoat like the top of a trunk, who had previously
expressed his opinion that if Ned hadn't been a poor man, Nicholas
wouldn't have dared do it, hinted at the propriety of breaking the
four-wheel chaise, or Nicholas's head, or both, which last compound
proposition the crowd seemed to consider a very good notion.
It was not acted upon, however, for it had hardly been broached, when
Ned Twigger's wife made her appearance abruptly in the little circle
before noticed, and Ned no sooner caught a glimpse of her face and
form, than from the mere force of habit he set off towards his home
just as fast as his legs could carry him; and that was not very quick
in the present instance either, for, however ready they might have been
to carry him, they couldn't get on very well under the brass
armour. So, Mrs. Twigger had plenty of time to denounce Nicholas
Tulrumble to his face: to express her opinion that he was a decided
monster; and to intimate that, if her ill-used husband sustained any
personal damage from the brass armour, she would have the law of
Nicholas Tulrumble for manslaughter. When she had said all this with
due vehemence, she posted after Ned, who was dragging himself along as
best he could, and deploring his unhappiness in most dismal tones.
What a wailing and screaming Ned's children raised when he got home
at last! Mrs. Twigger tried to undo the armour, first in one place,
and then in another, but she couldn't manage it; so she tumbled Ned
into bed, helmet, armour, gauntlets, and all. Such a creaking as the
bedstead made, under Ned's weight in his new suit! It didn't break
down though; and there Ned lay, like the anonymous vessel in the Bay of
Biscay, till next day, drinking barley-water, and looking miserable:
and every time he groaned, his good lady said it served him right,
which was all the consolation Ned Twigger got.
Nicholas Tulrumble and the gorgeous procession went on together to
the town-hall, amid the hisses and groans of all the spectators, who
had suddenly taken it into their heads to consider poor Ned a martyr.
Nicholas was formally installed in his new office, in acknowledgment of
which ceremony he delivered himself of a speech, composed by the
secretary, which was very long, and no doubt very good, only the noise
of the people outside prevented anybody from hearing it, but Nicholas
Tulrumble himself. After which, the procession got back to Mudfog Hall
any how it could; and Nicholas and the corporation sat down to dinner.
But the dinner was flat, and Nicholas was disappointed. They were
such dull sleepy old fellows, that corporation. Nicholas made quite as
long speeches as the Lord Mayor of London had done, nay, he said the
very same things that the Lord Mayor of London had said, and the deuce
a cheer the corporation gave him. There was only one man in the party
who was thoroughly awake; and he was insolent, and called him Nick.
Nick! What would be the consequence, thought Nicholas, of anybody
presuming to call the Lord Mayor of London 'Nick!' He should like to
know what the sword-bearer would say to that; or the recorder, or the
toast-master, or any other of the great officers of the city. They'd
But these were not the worst of Nicholas Tulrumble's doings. If they
had been, he might have remained a Mayor to this day, and have talked
till he lost his voice. He contracted a relish for statistics, and got
philosophical; and the statistics and the philosophy together, led him
into an act which increased his unpopularity and hastened his downfall.
At the very end of the Mudfog High-street, and abutting on the
river-side, stands the Jolly Boatmen, an old-fashioned low-roofed,
bay-windowed house, with a bar, kitchen, and tap-room all in one, and a
large fireplace with a kettle to correspond, round which the working
men have congregated time out of mind on a winter's night, refreshed by
draughts of good strong beer, and cheered by the sounds of a fiddle and
tambourine: the Jolly Boatmen having been duly licensed by the Mayor
and corporation, to scrape the fiddle and thumb the tambourine from
time, whereof the memory of the oldest inhabitants goeth not to the
contrary. Now Nicholas Tulrumble had been reading pamphlets on crime,
and parliamentary reports,—or had made the secretary read them to him,
which is the same thing in effect,—and he at once perceived that this
fiddle and tambourine must have done more to demoralize Mudfog, than
any other operating causes that ingenuity could imagine. So he read up
for the subject, and determined to come out on the corporation with a
burst, the very next time the licence was applied for.
The licensing day came, and the red-faced landlord of the Jolly
Boatmen walked into the town-hall, looking as jolly as need be, having
actually put on an extra fiddle for that night, to commemorate the
anniversary of the Jolly Boatmen's music licence. It was applied for
in due form, and was just about to be granted as a matter of course,
when up rose Nicholas Tulrumble, and drowned the astonished corporation
in a torrent of eloquence. He descanted in glowing terms upon the
increasing depravity of his native town of Mudfog, and the excesses
committed by its population. Then, he related how shocked he had been,
to see barrels of beer sliding down into the cellar of the Jolly
Boatmen week after week; and how he had sat at a window opposite the
Jolly Boatmen for two days together, to count the people who went in
for beer between the hours of twelve and one o'clock alone—which,
by-the-bye, was the time at which the great majority of the Mudfog
people dined. Then, he went on to state, how the number of people who
came out with beer-jugs, averaged twenty-one in five minutes, which,
being multiplied by twelve, gave two hundred and fifty-two people with
beer-jugs in an hour, and multiplied again by fifteen (the number of
hours during which the house was open daily) yielded three thousand
seven hundred and eighty people with beer-jugs per day, or twenty-six
thousand four hundred and sixty people with beer-jugs, per week. Then
he proceeded to show that a tambourine and moral degradation were
synonymous terms, and a fiddle and vicious propensities wholly
inseparable. All these arguments he strengthened and demonstrated by
frequent references to a large book with a blue cover, and sundry
quotations from the Middlesex magistrates; and in the end, the
corporation, who were posed with the figures, and sleepy with the
speech, and sadly in want of dinner into the bargain, yielded the palm
to Nicholas Tulrumble, and refused the music licence to the Jolly
But although Nicholas triumphed, his triumph was short. He carried
on the war against beer-jugs and fiddles, forgetting the time when he
was glad to drink out of the one, and to dance to the other, till the
people hated, and his old friends shunned him. He grew tired of the
lonely magnificence of Mudfog Hall, and his heart yearned towards the
Lighterman's Arms. He wished he had never set up as a public man, and
sighed for the good old times of the coal-shop, and the chimney corner.
At length old Nicholas, being thoroughly miserable, took heart of
grace, paid the secretary a quarter's wages in advance, and packed him
off to London by the next coach. Having taken this step, he put his
hat on his head, and his pride in his pocket, and walked down to the
old room at the Lighterman's Arms. There were only two of the old
fellows there, and they looked coldly on Nicholas as he proffered his
'Are you going to put down pipes, Mr. Tulrumble?' said one.
'Or trace the progress of crime to 'bacca?' growled another.
'Neither,' replied Nicholas Tulrumble, shaking hands with them both,
whether they would or not. 'I've come down to say that I'm very sorry
for having made a fool of myself, and that I hope you'll give me up the
old chair, again.'
The old fellows opened their eyes, and three or four more old fellows
opened the door, to whom Nicholas, with tears in his eyes, thrust out
his hand too, and told the same story. They raised a shout of joy,
that made the bells in the ancient church-tower vibrate again, and
wheeling the old chair into the warm corner, thrust old Nicholas down
into it, and ordered in the very largest-sized bowl of hot punch, with
an unlimited number of pipes, directly.
The next day, the Jolly Boatmen got the licence, and the next night,
old Nicholas and Ned Twigger's wife led off a dance to the music of the
fiddle and tambourine, the tone of which seemed mightily improved by a
little rest, for they never had played so merrily before. Ned Twigger
was in the very height of his glory, and he danced hornpipes, and
balanced chairs on his chin, and straws on his nose, till the whole
company, including the corporation, were in raptures of admiration at
the brilliancy of his acquirements.
Mr. Tulrumble, junior, couldn't make up his mind to be anything but
magnificent, so he went up to London and drew bills on his father; and
when he had overdrawn, and got into debt, he grew penitent, and came
As to old Nicholas, he kept his word, and having had six weeks of
public life, never tried it any more. He went to sleep in the
town-hall at the very next meeting; and, in full proof of his
sincerity, has requested us to write this faithful narrative. We wish
it could have the effect of reminding the Tulrumbles of another sphere,
that puffed-up conceit is not dignity, and that snarling at the little
pleasures they were once glad to enjoy, because they would rather
forget the times when they were of lower station, renders them objects
of contempt and ridicule.
This is the first time we have published any of our gleanings from
this particular source. Perhaps, at some future period, we may venture
to open the chronicles of Mudfog.
FULL REPORT OF THE FIRST MEETING OF THE MUDFOG
ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF EVERYTHING
We have made the most unparalleled and extraordinary exertions to
place before our readers a complete and accurate account of the
proceedings at the late grand meeting of the Mudfog Association, holden
in the town of Mudfog; it affords us great happiness to lay the result
before them, in the shape of various communications received from our
able, talented, and graphic correspondent, expressly sent down for the
purpose, who has immortalized us, himself, Mudfog, and the association,
all at one and the same time. We have been, indeed, for some days
unable to determine who will transmit the greatest name to posterity;
ourselves, who sent our correspondent down; our correspondent, who
wrote an account of the matter; or the association, who gave our
correspondent something to write about. We rather incline to the
opinion that we are the greatest man of the party, inasmuch as the
notion of an exclusive and authentic report originated with us; this
may be prejudice: it may arise from a prepossession on our part in our
own favour. Be it so. We have no doubt that every gentleman concerned
in this mighty assemblage is troubled with the same complaint in a
greater or less degree; and it is a consolation to us to know that we
have at least this feeling in common with the great scientific stars,
the brilliant and extraordinary luminaries, whose speculations we
We give our correspondent's letters in the order in which they
reached us. Any attempt at amalgamating them into one beautiful whole,
would only destroy that glowing tone, that dash of wildness, and rich
vein of picturesque interest, which pervade them throughout.
'Mudfog, Monday night, seven o'clock.
'We are in a state of great excitement here. Nothing is spoken of,
but the approaching meeting of the association. The inn-doors are
thronged with waiters anxiously looking for the expected arrivals; and
the numerous bills which are wafered up in the windows of private
houses, intimating that there are beds to let within, give the streets
a very animated and cheerful appearance, the wafers being of a great
variety of colours, and the monotony of printed inscriptions being
relieved by every possible size and style of hand-writing. It is
confidently rumoured that Professors Snore, Doze, and Wheezy have
engaged three beds and a sitting-room at the Pig and Tinder-box. I
give you the rumour as it has reached me; but I cannot, as yet, vouch
for its accuracy. The moment I have been enabled to obtain any certain
information upon this interesting point, you may depend upon receiving
I have just returned from a personal interview with the landlord of
the Pig and Tinder-box. He speaks confidently of the probability of
Professors Snore, Doze, and Wheezy taking up their residence at his
house during the sitting of the association, but denies that the beds
have been yet engaged; in which representation he is confirmed by the
chambermaid—a girl of artless manners, and interesting appearance.
The boots denies that it is at all likely that Professors Snore, Doze,
and Wheezy will put up here; but I have reason to believe that this man
has been suborned by the proprietor of the Original Pig, which is the
opposition hotel. Amidst such conflicting testimony it is difficult to
arrive at the real truth; but you may depend upon receiving authentic
information upon this point the moment the fact is ascertained. The
excitement still continues. A boy fell through the window of the
pastrycook's shop at the corner of the High-street about half an hour
ago, which has occasioned much confusion. The general impression is,
that it was an accident. Pray heaven it may prove so!'
'At an early hour this morning the bells of all the churches struck
seven o'clock; the effect of which, in the present lively state of the
town, was extremely singular. While I was at breakfast, a yellow gig,
drawn by a dark grey horse, with a patch of white over his right
eyelid, proceeded at a rapid pace in the direction of the Original Pig
stables; it is currently reported that this gentleman has arrived here
for the purpose of attending the association, and, from what I have
heard, I consider it extremely probable, although nothing decisive is
yet known regarding him. You may conceive the anxiety with which we
are all looking forward to the arrival of the four o'clock coach this
'Notwithstanding the excited state of the populace, no outrage has
yet been committed, owing to the admirable discipline and discretion of
the police, who are nowhere to be seen. A barrel-organ is playing
opposite my window, and groups of people, offering fish and vegetables
for sale, parade the streets. With these exceptions everything is
quiet, and I trust will continue so.'
'It is now ascertained, beyond all doubt, that Professors Snore,
Doze, and Wheezy will not repair to the Pig and Tinder-box, but
have actually engaged apartments at the Original Pig. This
intelligence is exclusive; and I leave you and your readers to
draw their own inferences from it. Why Professor Wheezy, of all people
in the world, should repair to the Original Pig in preference to the
Pig and Tinder-box, it is not easy to conceive. The professor is a man
who should be above all such petty feelings. Some people here openly
impute treachery, and a distinct breach of faith to Professors Snore
and Doze; while others, again, are disposed to acquit them of any
culpability in the transaction, and to insinuate that the blame rests
solely with Professor Wheezy. I own that I incline to the latter
opinion; and although it gives me great pain to speak in terms of
censure or disapprobation of a man of such transcendent genius and
acquirements, still I am bound to say that, if my suspicions be well
founded, and if all the reports which have reached my ears be true, I
really do not well know what to make of the matter.
'Mr. Slug, so celebrated for his statistical researches, arrived this
afternoon by the four o'clock stage. His complexion is a dark purple,
and he has a habit of sighing constantly. He looked extremely well,
and appeared in high health and spirits. Mr. Woodensconce also came
down in the same conveyance. The distinguished gentleman was fast
asleep on his arrival, and I am informed by the guard that he had been
so the whole way. He was, no doubt, preparing for his approaching
fatigues; but what gigantic visions must those be that flit through the
brain of such a man when his body is in a state of torpidity!
'The influx of visitors increases every moment. I am told (I know
not how truly) that two post-chaises have arrived at the Original Pig
within the last half-hour, and I myself observed a wheelbarrow,
containing three carpet bags and a bundle, entering the yard of the Pig
and Tinder-box no longer ago than five minutes since. The people are
still quietly pursuing their ordinary occupations; but there is a
wildness in their eyes, and an unwonted rigidity in the muscles of
their countenances, which shows to the observant spectator that their
expectations are strained to the very utmost pitch. I fear, unless
some very extraordinary arrivals take place to-night, that consequences
may arise from this popular ferment, which every man of sense and
feeling would deplore.'
'Twenty minutes past six.
'I have just heard that the boy who fell through the pastrycook's
window last night has died of the fright. He was suddenly called upon
to pay three and sixpence for the damage done, and his constitution, it
seems, was not strong enough to bear up against the shock. The
inquest, it is said, will be held to-morrow.'
'Three-quarters part seven.
'Professors Muff and Nogo have just driven up to the hotel door; they
at once ordered dinner with great condescension. We are all very much
delighted with the urbanity of their manners, and the ease with which
they adapt themselves to the forms and ceremonies of ordinary life.
Immediately on their arrival they sent for the head waiter, and
privately requested him to purchase a live dog,—as cheap a one as he
could meet with,—and to send him up after dinner, with a pie-board, a
knife and fork, and a clean plate. It is conjectured that some
experiments will be tried upon the dog to-night; if any particulars
should transpire, I will forward them by express.'
'The animal has been procured. He is a pug-dog, of rather
intelligent appearance, in good condition, and with very short legs.
He has been tied to a curtain-peg in a dark room, and is howling
'Ten minutes to nine.
'The dog has just been rung for. With an instinct which would appear
almost the result of reason, the sagacious animal seized the waiter by
the calf of the leg when he approached to take him, and made a
desperate, though ineffectual resistance. I have not been able to
procure admission to the apartment occupied by the scientific
gentlemen; but, judging from the sounds which reached my ears when I
stood upon the landing-place outside the door, just now, I should be
disposed to say that the dog had retreated growling beneath some
article of furniture, and was keeping the professors at bay. This
conjecture is confirmed by the testimony of the ostler, who, after
peeping through the keyhole, assures me that he distinctly saw
Professor Nogo on his knees, holding forth a small bottle of prussic
acid, to which the animal, who was crouched beneath an arm-chair,
obstinately declined to smell. You cannot imagine the feverish state
of irritation we are in, lest the interests of science should be
sacrificed to the prejudices of a brute creature, who is not endowed
with sufficient sense to foresee the incalculable benefits which the
whole human race may derive from so very slight a concession on his
'The dog's tail and ears have been sent down-stairs to be washed;
from which circumstance we infer that the animal is no more. His
forelegs have been delivered to the boots to be brushed, which
strengthens the supposition.'
'Half after ten.
'My feelings are so overpowered by what has taken place in the course
of the last hour and a half, that I have scarcely strength to detail
the rapid succession of events which have quite bewildered all those
who are cognizant of their occurrence. It appears that the pug-dog
mentioned in my last was surreptitiously obtained,—stolen, in
fact,—by some person attached to the stable department, from an
unmarried lady resident in this town. Frantic on discovering the loss
of her favourite, the lady rushed distractedly into the street, calling
in the most heart-rending and pathetic manner upon the passengers to
restore her, her Augustus,—for so the deceased was named, in
affectionate remembrance of a former lover of his mistress, to whom he
bore a striking personal resemblance, which renders the circumstances
additionally affecting. I am not yet in a condition to inform you what
circumstance induced the bereaved lady to direct her steps to the hotel
which had witnessed the last struggles of her protégé. I can
only state that she arrived there, at the very instant when his
detached members were passing through the passage on a small tray. Her
shrieks still reverberate in my ears! I grieve to say that the
expressive features of Professor Muff were much scratched and lacerated
by the injured lady; and that Professor Nogo, besides sustaining
several severe bites, has lost some handfuls of hair from the same
cause. It must be some consolation to these gentlemen to know that
their ardent attachment to scientific pursuits has alone occasioned
these unpleasant consequences; for which the sympathy of a grateful
country will sufficiently reward them. The unfortunate lady remains at
the Pig and Tinder-box, and up to this time is reported in a very
'I need scarcely tell you that this unlooked-for catastrophe has cast
a damp and gloom upon us in the midst of our exhilaration; natural in
any case, but greatly enhanced in this, by the amiable qualities of the
deceased animal, who appears to have been much and deservedly respected
by the whole of his acquaintance.'
'I take the last opportunity before sealing my parcel to inform you
that the boy who fell through the pastrycook's window is not dead, as
was universally believed, but alive and well. The report appears to
have had its origin in his mysterious disappearance. He was found half
an hour since on the premises of a sweet-stuff maker, where a raffle
had been announced for a second-hand seal-skin cap and a tambourine;
and where—a sufficient number of members not having been obtained at
first—he had patiently waited until the list was completed. This
fortunate discovery has in some degree restored our gaiety and
cheerfulness. It is proposed to get up a subscription for him without
'Everybody is nervously anxious to see what to-morrow will bring
forth. If any one should arrive in the course of the night, I have
left strict directions to be called immediately. I should have sat up,
indeed, but the agitating events of this day have been too much for me.
'No news yet of either of the Professors Snore, Doze, or Wheezy. It
is very strange!'
'All is now over; and, upon one point at least, I am at length
enabled to set the minds of your readers at rest. The three professors
arrived at ten minutes after two o'clock, and, instead of taking up
their quarters at the Original Pig, as it was universally understood in
the course of yesterday that they would assuredly have done, drove
straight to the Pig and Tinder-box, where they threw off the mask at
once, and openly announced their intention of remaining. Professor
Wheezy may reconcile this very extraordinary conduct with his
notions of fair and equitable dealing, but I would recommend Professor
Wheezy to be cautious how he presumes too far upon his well-earned
reputation. How such a man as Professor Snore, or, which is still more
extraordinary, such an individual as Professor Doze, can quietly allow
himself to be mixed up with such proceedings as these, you will
naturally inquire. Upon this head, rumour is silent; I have my
speculations, but forbear to give utterance to them just now.'
'The town is filling fast; eighteenpence has been offered for a bed
and refused. Several gentlemen were under the necessity last night of
sleeping in the brick fields, and on the steps of doors, for which they
were taken before the magistrates in a body this morning, and committed
to prison as vagrants for various terms. One of these persons I
understand to be a highly-respectable tinker, of great practical skill,
who had forwarded a paper to the President of Section D. Mechanical
Science, on the construction of pipkins with copper bottoms and
safety-values, of which report speaks highly. The incarceration of
this gentleman is greatly to be regretted, as his absence will preclude
any discussion on the subject.
'The bills are being taken down in all directions, and lodgings are
being secured on almost any terms. I have heard of fifteen shillings a
week for two rooms, exclusive of coals and attendance, but I can
scarcely believe it. The excitement is dreadful. I was informed this
morning that the civil authorities, apprehensive of some outbreak of
popular feeling, had commanded a recruiting sergeant and two corporals
to be under arms; and that, with the view of not irritating the people
unnecessarily by their presence, they had been requested to take up
their position before daybreak in a turnpike, distant about a quarter
of a mile from the town. The vigour and promptness of these measures
cannot be too highly extolled.
'Intelligence has just been brought me, that an elderly female, in a
state of inebriety, has declared in the open street her intention to
“do” for Mr. Slug. Some statistical returns compiled by that
gentleman, relative to the consumption of raw spirituous liquors in
this place, are supposed to be the cause of the wretch's animosity. It
is added that this declaration was loudly cheered by a crowd of persons
who had assembled on the spot; and that one man had the boldness to
designate Mr. Slug aloud by the opprobrious epithet of
“Stick-in-the-mud!” It is earnestly to be hoped that now, when the
moment has arrived for their interference, the magistrates will not
shrink from the exercise of that power which is vested in them by the
constitution of our common country.'
'The disturbance, I am happy to inform you, has been completely
quelled, and the ringleader taken into custody. She had a pail of cold
water thrown over her, previous to being locked up, and expresses great
contrition and uneasiness. We are all in a fever of anticipation about
to-morrow; but, now that we are within a few hours of the meeting of
the association, and at last enjoy the proud consciousness of having
its illustrious members amongst us, I trust and hope everything may go
off peaceably. I shall send you a full report of to-morrow's
proceedings by the night coach.'
'I open my letter to say that nothing whatever has occurred since I
folded it up.'
'The sun rose this morning at the usual hour. I did not observe
anything particular in the aspect of the glorious planet, except that
he appeared to me (it might have been a delusion of my heightened
fancy) to shine with more than common brilliancy, and to shed a
refulgent lustre upon the town, such as I had never observed before.
This is the more extraordinary, as the sky was perfectly cloudless, and
the atmosphere peculiarly fine. At half-past nine o'clock the general
committee assembled, with the last year's president in the chair. The
report of the council was read; and one passage, which stated that the
council had corresponded with no less than three thousand five hundred
and seventy-one persons, (all of whom paid their own postage,) on no
fewer than seven thousand two hundred and forty-three topics, was
received with a degree of enthusiasm which no efforts could suppress.
The various committees and sections having been appointed, and the more
formal business transacted, the great proceedings of the meeting
commenced at eleven o'clock precisely. I had the happiness of
occupying a most eligible position at that time, in
'SECTION A.—ZOOLOGY AND BOTANY.
GREAT ROOM, PIG AND TINDER-BOX.
President—Professor Snore. Vice-Presidents—
Professors Doze and Wheezy.
'The scene at this moment was particularly striking. The sun
streamed through the windows of the apartments, and tinted the whole
scene with its brilliant rays, bringing out in strong relief the noble
visages of the professors and scientific gentlemen, who, some with bald
heads, some with red heads, some with brown heads, some with grey
heads, some with black heads, some with block heads, presented a
coup d'oeil which no eye-witness will readily forget. In front of
these gentlemen were papers and inkstands; and round the room, on
elevated benches extending as far as the forms could reach, were
assembled a brilliant concourse of those lovely and elegant women for
which Mudfog is justly acknowledged to be without a rival in the whole
world. The contrast between their fair faces and the dark coats and
trousers of the scientific gentlemen I shall never cease to remember
while Memory holds her seat.
'Time having been allowed for a slight confusion, occasioned by the
falling down of the greater part of the platforms, to subside, the
president called on one of the secretaries to read a communication
entitled, “Some remarks on the industrious fleas, with considerations
on the importance of establishing infant-schools among that numerous
class of society; of directing their industry to useful and practical
ends; and of applying the surplus fruits thereof, towards providing for
them a comfortable and respectable maintenance in their old age.”
'The author stated, that, having long turned his attention to the
moral and social condition of these interesting animals, he had been
induced to visit an exhibition in Regent-street, London, commonly known
by the designation of “The Industrious Fleas.” He had there seen many
fleas, occupied certainly in various pursuits and avocations, but
occupied, he was bound to add, in a manner which no man of
well-regulated mind could fail to regard with sorrow and regret. One
flea, reduced to the level of a beast of burden, was drawing about a
miniature gig, containing a particularly small effigy of His Grace the
Duke of Wellington; while another was staggering beneath the weight of
a golden model of his great adversary Napoleon Bonaparte. Some,
brought up as mountebanks and ballet-dancers, were performing a
figure-dance (he regretted to observe, that, of the fleas so employed,
several were females); others were in training, in a small card-board
box, for pedestrians,—mere sporting characters—and two were actually
engaged in the cold-blooded and barbarous occupation of duelling; a
pursuit from which humanity recoiled with horror and disgust. He
suggested that measures should be immediately taken to employ the
labour of these fleas as part and parcel of the productive power of the
country, which might easily be done by the establishment among them of
infant schools and houses of industry, in which a system of virtuous
education, based upon sound principles, should be observed, and moral
precepts strictly inculcated. He proposed that every flea who presumed
to exhibit, for hire, music, or dancing, or any species of theatrical
entertainment, without a licence, should be considered a vagabond, and
treated accordingly; in which respect he only placed him upon a level
with the rest of mankind. He would further suggest that their labour
should be placed under the control and regulation of the state, who
should set apart from the profits, a fund for the support of
superannuated or disabled fleas, their widows and orphans. With this
view, he proposed that liberal premiums should be offered for the three
best designs for a general almshouse; from which—as insect
architecture was well known to be in a very advanced and perfect
state—we might possibly derive many valuable hints for the improvement
of our metropolitan universities, national galleries, and other public
'THE PRESIDENT wished to be informed how the ingenious gentleman
proposed to open a communication with fleas generally, in the first
instance, so that they might be thoroughly imbued with a sense of the
advantages they must necessarily derive from changing their mode of
life, and applying themselves to honest labour. This appeared to him,
the only difficulty.
'THE AUTHOR submitted that this difficulty was easily overcome, or
rather that there was no difficulty at all in the case. Obviously the
course to be pursued, if Her Majesty's government could be prevailed
upon to take up the plan, would be, to secure at a remunerative salary
the individual to whom he had alluded as presiding over the exhibition
in Regent-street at the period of his visit. That gentleman would at
once be able to put himself in communication with the mass of the
fleas, and to instruct them in pursuance of some general plan of
education, to be sanctioned by Parliament, until such time as the more
intelligent among them were advanced enough to officiate as teachers to
'The President and several members of the section highly complimented
the author of the paper last read, on his most ingenious and important
treatise. It was determined that the subject should be recommended to
the immediate consideration of the council.
'MR. WIGSBY produced a cauliflower somewhat larger than a
chaise-umbrella, which had been raised by no other artificial means
than the simple application of highly carbonated soda-water as manure.
He explained that by scooping out the head, which would afford a new
and delicious species of nourishment for the poor, a parachute, in
principle something similar to that constructed by M. Garnerin, was at
once obtained; the stalk of course being kept downwards. He added that
he was perfectly willing to make a descent from a height of not less
than three miles and a quarter; and had in fact already proposed the
same to the proprietors of Vauxhall Gardens, who in the handsomest
manner at once consented to his wishes, and appointed an early day next
summer for the undertaking; merely stipulating that the rim of the
cauliflower should be previously broken in three or four places to
ensure the safety of the descent.
'THE PRESIDENT congratulated the public on the grand gala in
store for them, and warmly eulogised the proprietors of the
establishment alluded to, for their love of science, and regard for the
safety of human life, both of which did them the highest honour.
'A Member wished to know how many thousand additional lamps the royal
property would be illuminated with, on the night after the descent.
'MR. WIGSBY replied that the point was not yet finally decided; but
he believed it was proposed, over and above the ordinary illuminations,
to exhibit in various devices eight millions and a-half of additional
'The Member expressed himself much gratified with this announcement.
'MR. BLUNDERUM delighted the section with a most interesting and
valuable paper “on the last moments of the learned pig,” which produced
a very strong impression on the assembly, the account being compiled
from the personal recollections of his favourite attendant. The
account stated in the most emphatic terms that the animal's name was
not Toby, but Solomon; and distinctly proved that he could have no near
relatives in the profession, as many designing persons had falsely
stated, inasmuch as his father, mother, brothers and sisters, had all
fallen victims to the butcher at different times. An uncle of his
indeed, had with very great labour been traced to a sty in Somers Town;
but as he was in a very infirm state at the time, being afflicted with
measles, and shortly afterwards disappeared, there appeared too much
reason to conjecture that he had been converted into sausages. The
disorder of the learned pig was originally a severe cold, which, being
aggravated by excessive trough indulgence, finally settled upon the
lungs, and terminated in a general decay of the constitution. A
melancholy instance of a presentiment entertained by the animal of his
approaching dissolution, was recorded. After gratifying a numerous and
fashionable company with his performances, in which no falling off
whatever was visible, he fixed his eyes on the biographer, and, turning
to the watch which lay on the floor, and on which he was accustomed to
point out the hour, deliberately passed his snout twice round the
dial. In precisely four-and-twenty hours from that time he had ceased
'PROFESSOR WHEEZY inquired whether, previous to his demise, the
animal had expressed, by signs or otherwise, any wishes regarding the
disposal of his little property.
'MR. BLUNDERUM replied, that, when the biographer took up the pack of
cards at the conclusion of the performance, the animal grunted several
times in a significant manner, and nodding his head as he was
accustomed to do, when gratified. From these gestures it was
understood that he wished the attendant to keep the cards, which he had
ever since done. He had not expressed any wish relative to his watch,
which had accordingly been pawned by the same individual.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to know whether any Member of the section had
ever seen or conversed with the pig-faced lady, who was reported to
have worn a black velvet mask, and to have taken her meals from a
'After some hesitation a Member replied that the pig-faced lady was
his mother-in-law, and that he trusted the President would not violate
the sanctity of private life.
'THE PRESIDENT begged pardon. He had considered the pig-faced lady a
public character. Would the honourable member object to state, with a
view to the advancement of science, whether she was in any way
connected with the learned pig?
'The Member replied in the same low tone, that, as the question
appeared to involve a suspicion that the learned pig might be his
half-brother, he must decline answering it.
'SECTION B.—ANATOMY AND MEDICINE.
COACH-HOUSE, PIG AND TINDER-BOX.
President—Dr. Toorell. Vice-Presidents—Professors
Muff and Nogo.
DR. KUTANKUMAGEN (of Moscow) read to the section a report of a case
which had occurred within his own practice, strikingly illustrative of
the power of medicine, as exemplified in his successful treatment of a
virulent disorder. He had been called in to visit the patient on the
1st of April, 1837. He was then labouring under symptoms peculiarly
alarming to any medical man. His frame was stout and muscular, his
step firm and elastic, his cheeks plump and red, his voice loud, his
appetite good, his pulse full and round. He was in the constant habit
of eating three meals per diem, and of drinking at least
one bottle of wine, and one glass of spirituous liquors diluted with
water, in the course of the four-and-twenty hours. He laughed
constantly, and in so hearty a manner that it was terrible to hear
him. By dint of powerful medicine, low diet, and bleeding, the
symptoms in the course of three days perceptibly decreased. A rigid
perseverance in the same course of treatment for only one week,
accompanied with small doses of water-gruel, weak broth, and
barley-water, led to their entire disappearance. In the course of a
month he was sufficiently recovered to be carried down-stairs by two
nurses, and to enjoy an airing in a close carriage, supported by soft
pillows. At the present moment he was restored so far as to walk
about, with the slight assistance of a crutch and a boy. It would
perhaps be gratifying to the section to learn that he ate little, drank
little, slept little, and was never heard to laugh by any accident
'DR. W. R. FEE, in complimenting the honourable member upon the
triumphant cure he had effected, begged to ask whether the patient
still bled freely?
'DR. KUTANKUMAGEN replied in the affirmative.
'DR. W. R. FEE.—And you found that he bled freely during the whole
course of the disorder?
'DR. KUTANKUMAGEN.—Oh dear, yes; most freely.
'DR. NEESHAWTS supposed, that if the patient had not submitted to be
bled with great readiness and perseverance, so extraordinary a cure
could never, in fact, have been accomplished. Dr. Kutankumagen
rejoined, certainly not.
'MR. KNIGHT BELL (M.R.C.S.) exhibited a wax preparation of the
interior of a gentleman who in early life had inadvertently swallowed a
door-key. It was a curious fact that a medical student of dissipated
habits, being present at the post mortem examination, found
means to escape unobserved from the room, with that portion of the
coats of the stomach upon which an exact model of the instrument was
distinctly impressed, with which he hastened to a locksmith of doubtful
character, who made a new key from the pattern so shown to him. With
this key the medical student entered the house of the deceased
gentleman, and committed a burglary to a large amount, for which he was
subsequently tried and executed.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to know what became of the original key after
the lapse of years. Mr. Knight Bell replied that the gentleman was
always much accustomed to punch, and it was supposed the acid had
gradually devoured it.
'DR. NEESHAWTS and several of the members were of opinion that the
key must have lain very cold and heavy upon the gentleman's stomach.
'MR. KNIGHT BELL believed it did at first. It was worthy of remark,
perhaps, that for some years the gentleman was troubled with a
night-mare, under the influence of which he always imagined himself a
'PROFESSOR MUFF related a very extraordinary and convincing proof of
the wonderful efficacy of the system of infinitesimal doses, which the
section were doubtless aware was based upon the theory that the very
minutest amount of any given drug, properly dispersed through the human
frame, would be productive of precisely the same result as a very large
dose administered in the usual manner. Thus, the fortieth part of a
grain of calomel was supposed to be equal to a five-grain calomel pill,
and so on in proportion throughout the whole range of medicine. He had
tried the experiment in a curious manner upon a publican who had been
brought into the hospital with a broken head, and was cured upon the
infinitesimal system in the incredibly short space of three months.
This man was a hard drinker. He (Professor Muff) had dispersed three
drops of rum through a bucket of water, and requested the man to drink
the whole. What was the result? Before he had drunk a quart, he was
in a state of beastly intoxication; and five other men were made dead
drunk with the remainder.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to know whether an infinitesimal dose of
soda-water would have recovered them? Professor Muff replied that the
twenty-fifth part of a teaspoonful, properly administered to each
patient, would have sobered him immediately. The President remarked
that this was a most important discovery, and he hoped the Lord Mayor
and Court of Aldermen would patronize it immediately.
'A Member begged to be informed whether it would be possible to
administer—say, the twentieth part of a grain of bread and cheese to
all grown-up paupers, and the fortieth part to children, with the same
satisfying effect as their present allowance.
'PROFESSOR MUFF was willing to stake his professional reputation on
the perfect adequacy of such a quantity of food to the support of human
life—in workhouses; the addition of the fifteenth part of a grain of
pudding twice a week would render it a high diet.
'PROFESSOR NOGO called the attention of the section to a very
extraordinary case of animal magnetism. A private watchman, being
merely looked at by the operator from the opposite side of a wide
street, was at once observed to be in a very drowsy and languid state.
He was followed to his box, and being once slightly rubbed on the palms
of the hands, fell into a sound sleep, in which he continued without
intermission for ten hours.
HAY-LOFT, ORIGINAL PIG.
President—Mr. Woodensconce. Vice-Presidents—Mr.
Ledbrain and Mr. Timbered.
'MR. SLUG stated to the section the result of some calculations he
had made with great difficulty and labour, regarding the state of
infant education among the middle classes of London. He found that,
within a circle of three miles from the Elephant and Castle, the
following were the names and numbers of children's books principally in
'Jack the Giant-killer 7,943
Ditto and Bean-stalk 8,621
Ditto and Eleven Brothers 2,845
Ditto and Jill 1,998
'He found that the proportion of Robinson Crusoes to Philip Quarlls
was as four and a half to one; and that the preponderance of Valentine
and Orsons over Goody Two Shoeses was as three and an eighth of the
former to half a one of the latter; a comparison of Seven Champions
with Simple Simons gave the same result. The ignorance that prevailed,
was lamentable. One child, on being asked whether he would rather be
Saint George of England or a respectable tallow-chandler, instantly
replied, “Taint George of Ingling.” Another, a little boy of eight
years old, was found to be firmly impressed with a belief in the
existence of dragons, and openly stated that it was his intention when
he grew up, to rush forth sword in hand for the deliverance of captive
princesses, and the promiscuous slaughter of giants. Not one child
among the number interrogated had ever heard of Mungo Park,—some
inquiring whether he was at all connected with the black man that swept
the crossing; and others whether he was in any way related to the
Regent's Park. They had not the slightest conception of the commonest
principles of mathematics, and considered Sindbad the Sailor the most
enterprising voyager that the world had ever produced.
'A Member strongly deprecating the use of all the other books
mentioned, suggested that Jack and Jill might perhaps be exempted from
the general censure, inasmuch as the hero and heroine, in the very
outset of the tale, were depicted as going up a hill to fetch a
pail of water, which was a laborious and useful occupation,—supposing
the family linen was being washed, for instance.
'MR. SLUG feared that the moral effect of this passage was more than
counterbalanced by another in a subsequent part of the poem, in which
very gross allusion was made to the mode in which the heroine was
personally chastised by her mother
“'For laughing at Jack's disaster;”
besides, the whole work had this one great fault, it was not true.
'THE PRESIDENT complimented the honourable member on the excellent
distinction he had drawn. Several other Members, too, dwelt upon the
immense and urgent necessity of storing the minds of children with
nothing but facts and figures; which process the President very
forcibly remarked, had made them (the section) the men they were.
'MR. SLUG then stated some curious calculations respecting the
dogs'-meat barrows of London. He found that the total number of small
carts and barrows engaged in dispensing provision to the cats and dogs
of the metropolis was, one thousand seven hundred and forty-three. The
average number of skewers delivered daily with the provender, by each
dogs'-meat cart or barrow, was thirty-six. Now, multiplying the number
of skewers so delivered by the number of barrows, a total of sixty-two
thousand seven hundred and forty-eight skewers daily would be
obtained. Allowing that, of these sixty-two thousand seven hundred and
forty-eight skewers, the odd two thousand seven hundred and forty-eight
were accidentally devoured with the meat, by the most voracious of the
animals supplied, it followed that sixty thousand skewers per day, or
the enormous number of twenty-one millions nine hundred thousand
skewers annually, were wasted in the kennels and dustholes of London;
which, if collected and warehoused, would in ten years' time afford a
mass of timber more than sufficient for the construction of a
first-rate vessel of war for the use of her Majesty's navy, to be
called “The Royal Skewer,” and to become under that name the terror of
all the enemies of this island.
'MR. X. LEDBRAIN read a very ingenious communication, from which it
appeared that the total number of legs belonging to the manufacturing
population of one great town in Yorkshire was, in round numbers, forty
thousand, while the total number of chair and stool legs in their
houses was only thirty thousand, which, upon the very favourable
average of three legs to a seat, yielded only ten thousand seats in
all. From this calculation it would appear,—not taking wooden or cork
legs into the account, but allowing two legs to every person,—that ten
thousand individuals (one-half of the whole population) were either
destitute of any rest for their legs at all, or passed the whole of
their leisure time in sitting upon boxes.
'SECTION D.—MECHANICAL SCIENCE.
COACH-HOUSE, ORIGINAL PIG.
President—Mr. Carter. Vice-Presidents—Mr. Truck and
'PROFESSOR QUEERSPECK exhibited an elegant model of a portable
railway, neatly mounted in a green case, for the waistcoat pocket. By
attaching this beautiful instrument to his boots, any Bank or
public-office clerk could transport himself from his place of residence
to his place of business, at the easy rate of sixty-five miles an hour,
which, to gentlemen of sedentary pursuits, would be an incalculable
'THE PRESIDENT was desirous of knowing whether it was necessary to
have a level surface on which the gentleman was to run.
'PROFESSOR QUEERSPECK explained that City gentlemen would run in
trains, being handcuffed together to prevent confusion or
unpleasantness. For instance, trains would start every morning at
eight, nine, and ten o'clock, from Camden Town, Islington, Camberwell,
Hackney, and various other places in which City gentlemen are
accustomed to reside. It would be necessary to have a level, but he
had provided for this difficulty by proposing that the best line that
the circumstances would admit of, should be taken through the sewers
which undermine the streets of the metropolis, and which, well lighted
by jets from the gas pipes which run immediately above them, would form
a pleasant and commodious arcade, especially in winter-time, when the
inconvenient custom of carrying umbrellas, now so general, could be
wholly dispensed with. In reply to another question, Professor
Queerspeck stated that no substitute for the purposes to which these
arcades were at present devoted had yet occurred to him, but that he
hoped no fanciful objection on this head would be allowed to interfere
with so great an undertaking.
'MR. JOBBA produced a forcing-machine on a novel plan, for bringing
joint-stock railway shares prematurely to a premium. The instrument
was in the form of an elegant gilt weather-glass, of most dazzling
appearance, and was worked behind, by strings, after the manner of a
pantomime trick, the strings being always pulled by the directors of
the company to which the machine belonged. The quicksilver was so
ingeniously placed, that when the acting directors held shares in their
pockets, figures denoting very small expenses and very large returns
appeared upon the glass; but the moment the directors parted with these
pieces of paper, the estimate of needful expenditure suddenly increased
itself to an immense extent, while the statements of certain profits
became reduced in the same proportion. Mr. Jobba stated that the
machine had been in constant requisition for some months past, and he
had never once known it to fail.
'A Member expressed his opinion that it was extremely neat and
pretty. He wished to know whether it was not liable to accidental
derangement? Mr. Jobba said that the whole machine was undoubtedly
liable to be blown up, but that was the only objection to it.
'PROFESSOR NOGO arrived from the anatomical section to exhibit a
model of a safety fire-escape, which could be fixed at any time, in
less than half an hour, and by means of which, the youngest or most
infirm persons (successfully resisting the progress of the flames until
it was quite ready) could be preserved if they merely balanced
themselves for a few minutes on the sill of their bedroom window, and
got into the escape without falling into the street. The Professor
stated that the number of boys who had been rescued in the daytime by
this machine from houses which were not on fire, was almost
incredible. Not a conflagration had occurred in the whole of London
for many months past to which the escape had not been carried on the
very next day, and put in action before a concourse of persons.
'THE PRESIDENT inquired whether there was not some difficulty in
ascertaining which was the top of the machine, and which the bottom, in
cases of pressing emergency.
'PROFESSOR NOGO explained that of course it could not be expected to
act quite as well when there was a fire, as when there was not a fire;
but in the former case he thought it would be of equal service whether
the top were up or down.'
With the last section our correspondent concludes his most able and
faithful Report, which will never cease to reflect credit upon him for
his scientific attainments, and upon us for our enterprising spirit.
It is needless to take a review of the subjects which have been
discussed; of the mode in which they have been examined; of the great
truths which they have elicited. They are now before the world, and we
leave them to read, to consider, and to profit.
The place of meeting for next year has undergone discussion, and has
at length been decided, regard being had to, and evidence being taken
upon, the goodness of its wines, the supply of its markets, the
hospitality of its inhabitants, and the quality of its hotels. We hope
at this next meeting our correspondent may again be present, and that
we may be once more the means of placing his communications before the
world. Until that period we have been prevailed upon to allow this
number of our Miscellany to be retailed to the public, or wholesaled to
the trade, without any advance upon our usual price.
We have only to add, that the committees are now broken up, and that
Mudfog is once again restored to its accustomed tranquillity,—that
Professors and Members have had balls, and soirées, and suppers,
and great mutual complimentations, and have at length dispersed to
their several homes,—whither all good wishes and joys attend them,
until next year!
FULL REPORT OF THE SECOND MEETING OF THE MUDFOG
ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF EVERYTHING
In October last, we did ourselves the immortal credit of recording,
at an enormous expense, and by dint of exertions unnpralleled in the
history of periodical publication, the proceedings of the Mudfog
Association for the Advancement of Everything, which in that month held
its first great half-yearly meeting, to the wonder and delight of the
whole empire. We announced at the conclusion of that extraordinary and
most remarkable Report, that when the Second Meeting of the Society
should take place, we should be found again at our post, renewing our
gigantic and spirited endeavours, and once more making the world ring
with the accuracy, authenticity, immeasurable superiority, and intense
remarkability of our account of its proceedings. In redemption of this
pledge, we caused to be despatched per steam to Oldcastle (at which
place this second meeting of the Society was held on the 20th instant),
the same superhumanly-endowed gentleman who furnished the former
report, and who,—gifted by nature with transcendent abilities, and
furnished by us with a body of assistants scarcely inferior to
himself,—has forwarded a series of letters, which, for faithfulness of
description, power of language, fervour of thought, happiness of
expression, and importance of subject-matter, have no equal in the
epistolary literature of any age or country. We give this gentleman's
correspondence entire, and in the order in which it reached our office.
'Saloon of Steamer, Thursday night, half-past eight.
'When I left New Burlington Street this evening in the hackney
cabriolet, number four thousand two hundred and eighty-five, I
experienced sensations as novel as they were oppressive. A sense of
the importance of the task I had undertaken, a consciousness that I was
leaving London, and, stranger still, going somewhere else, a feeling of
loneliness and a sensation of jolting, quite bewildered my thoughts,
and for a time rendered me even insensible to the presence of my
carpet-bag and hat-box. I shall ever feel grateful to the driver of a
Blackwall omnibus who, by thrusting the pole of his vehicle through the
small door of the cabriolet, awakened me from a tumult of imaginings
that are wholly indescribable. But of such materials is our imperfect
'I am happy to say that I am the first passenger on board, and shall
thus be enabled to give you an account of all that happens in the order
of its occurrence. The chimney is smoking a good deal, and so are the
crew; and the captain, I am informed, is very drunk in a little house
upon deck, something like a black turnpike. I should infer from all I
hear that he has got the steam up.
'You will readily guess with what feelings I have just made the
discovery that my berth is in the same closet with those engaged by
Professor Woodensconce, Mr. Slug, and Professor Grime. Professor
Woodensconce has taken the shelf above me, and Mr. Slug and Professor
Grime the two shelves opposite. Their luggage has already arrived. On
Mr. Slug's bed is a long tin tube of about three inches in diameter,
carefully closed at both ends. What can this contain? Some powerful
instrument of a new construction, doubtless.'
'Ten minutes past nine.
'Nobody has yet arrived, nor has anything fresh come in my way except
several joints of beef and mutton, from which I conclude that a good
plain dinner has been provided for to-morrow. There is a singular
smell below, which gave me some uneasiness at first; but as the steward
says it is always there, and never goes away, I am quite comfortable
again. I learn from this man that the different sections will be
distributed at the Black Boy and Stomach-ache, and the Boot-jack and
Countenance. If this intelligence be true (and I have no reason to
doubt it), your readers will draw such conclusions as their different
opinions may suggest.
'I write down these remarks as they occur to me, or as the facts come
to my knowledge, in order that my first impressions may lose nothing of
their original vividness. I shall despatch them in small packets as
'Half past nine.
'Some dark object has just appeared upon the wharf. I think it is a
'A quarter to ten.
'No, it isn't.'
The passengers are pouring in every instant. Four omnibuses full
have just arrived upon the wharf, and all is bustle and activity. The
noise and confusion are very great. Cloths are laid in the cabins, and
the steward is placing blue plates—full of knobs of cheese at equal
distances down the centre of the tables. He drops a great many knobs;
but, being used to it, picks them up again with great dexterity, and,
after wiping them on his sleeve, throws them back into the plates. He
is a young man of exceedingly prepossessing appearance—either dirty or
a mulatto, but I think the former.
'An interesting old gentleman, who came to the wharf in an omnibus,
has just quarrelled violently with the porters, and is staggering
towards the vessel with a large trunk in his arms. I trust and hope
that he may reach it in safety; but the board he has to cross is narrow
and slippery. Was that a splash? Gracious powers!
'I have just returned from the deck. The trunk is standing upon the
extreme brink of the wharf, but the old gentleman is nowhere to be
seen. The watchman is not sure whether he went down or not, but
promises to drag for him the first thing to-morrow morning. May his
humane efforts prove successful!
'Professor Nogo has this moment arrived with his nightcap on under
his hat. He has ordered a glass of cold brandy and water, with a hard
biscuit and a basin, and has gone straight to bed. What can this mean?
'The three other scientific gentlemen to whom I have already alluded
have come on board, and have all tried their beds, with the exception
of Professor Woodensconce, who sleeps in one of the top ones, and can't
get into it. Mr. Slug, who sleeps in the other top one, is unable to
get out of his, and is to have his supper handed up by a boy. I have
had the honour to introduce myself to these gentlemen, and we have
amicably arranged the order in which we shall retire to rest; which it
is necessary to agree upon, because, although the cabin is very
comfortable, there is not room for more than one gentleman to be out of
bed at a time, and even he must take his boots off in the passage.
'As I anticipated, the knobs of cheese were provided for the
passengers' supper, and are now in course of consumption. Your readers
will be surprised to hear that Professor Woodensconce has abstained
from cheese for eight years, although he takes butter in considerable
quantities. Professor Grime having lost several teeth, is unable, I
observe, to eat his crusts without previously soaking them in his
bottled porter. How interesting are these peculiarities!'
'Professors Woodensconce and Grime, with a degree of good humour that
delights us all, have just arranged to toss for a bottle of mulled
port. There has been some discussion whether the payment should be
decided by the first toss or the best out of three. Eventually the
latter course has been determined on. Deeply do I wish that both
gentlemen could win; but that being impossible, I own that my personal
aspirations (I speak as an individual, and do not compromise either you
or your readers by this expression of feeling) are with Professor
Woodensconce. I have backed that gentleman to the amount of
'Twenty minutes to twelve.
'Professor Grime has inadvertently tossed his half-crown out of one
of the cabin-windows, and it has been arranged that the steward shall
toss for him. Bets are offered on any side to any amount, but there
are no takers.
'Professor Woodensconce has just called “woman;” but the coin having
lodged in a beam, is a long time coming down again. The interest and
suspense of this one moment are beyond anything that can be imagined.'
'The mulled port is smoking on the table before me, and Professor
Grime has won. Tossing is a game of chance; but on every ground,
whether of public or private character, intellectual endowments, or
scientific attainments, I cannot help expressing my opinion that
Professor Woodensconce ought to have come off victorious. There
is an exultation about Professor Grime incompatible, I fear, with true
'A quarter past twelve.
'Professor Grime continues to exult, and to boast of his victory in
no very measured terms, observing that he always does win, and that he
knew it would be a “head” beforehand, with many other remarks of a
similar nature. Surely this gentleman is not so lost to every feeling
of decency and propriety as not to feel and know the superiority of
Professor Woodensconce? Is Professor Grime insane? or does he wish to
be reminded in plain language of his true position in society, and the
precise level of his acquirements and abilities? Professor Grime will
do well to look to this.'
'I am writing in bed. The small cabin is illuminated by the feeble
light of a flickering lamp suspended from the ceiling; Professor Grime
is lying on the opposite shelf on the broad of his back, with his mouth
wide open. The scene is indescribably solemn. The rippling of the
tide, the noise of the sailors' feet overhead, the gruff voices on the
river, the dogs on the shore, the snoring of the passengers, and a
constant creaking of every plank in the vessel, are the only sounds
that meet the ear. With these exceptions, all is profound silence.
'My curiosity has been within the last moment very much excited. Mr.
Slug, who lies above Professor Grime, has cautiously withdrawn the
curtains of his berth, and, after looking anxiously out, as if to
satisfy himself that his companions are asleep, has taken up the tin
tube of which I have before spoken, and is regarding it with great
interest. What rare mechanical combination can be contained in that
mysterious case? It is evidently a profound secret to all.'
'A quarter past one.
'The behaviour of Mr. Slug grows more and more mysterious. He has
unscrewed the top of the tube, and now renews his observations upon his
companions, evidently to make sure that he is wholly unobserved. He is
clearly on the eve of some great experiment. Pray heaven that it be
not a dangerous one; but the interests of science must be promoted, and
I am prepared for the worst.'
'Five minutes later.
'He has produced a large pair of scissors, and drawn a roll of some
substance, not unlike parchment in appearance, from the tin case. The
experiment is about to begin. I must strain my eyes to the utmost, in
the attempt to follow its minutest operation.'
'Twenty minutes before two.
'I have at length been enabled to ascertain that the tin tube
contains a few yards of some celebrated plaster, recommended—as I
discover on regarding the label attentively through my eye-glass—as a
preservative against sea-sickness. Mr. Slug has cut it up into small
portions, and is now sticking it over himself in every direction.'
'Precisely a quarter of an hour ago we weighed anchor, and the
machinery was suddenly put in motion with a noise so appalling, that
Professor Woodensconce (who had ascended to his berth by means of a
platform of carpet-bags arranged by himself on geometrical principals)
darted from his shelf head foremost, and, gaining his feet with all the
rapidity of extreme terror, ran wildly into the ladies' cabin, under
the impression that we were sinking, and uttering loud cries for aid.
I am assured that the scene which ensued baffles all description.
There were one hundred and forty-seven ladies in their respective
berths at the time.
'Mr. Slug has remarked, as an additional instance of the extreme
ingenuity of the steam-engine as applied to purposes of navigation,
that in whatever part of the vessel a passenger's berth may be
situated, the machinery always appears to be exactly under his pillow.
He intends stating this very beautiful, though simple discovery, to the
'We are still in smooth water; that is to say, in as smooth water as
a steam-vessel ever can be, for, as Professor Woodensconce (who has
just woke up) learnedly remarks, another great point of ingenuity about
a steamer is, that it always carries a little storm with it. You can
scarcely conceive how exciting the jerking pulsation of the ship
becomes. It is a matter of positive difficulty to get to sleep.'
'Friday afternoon, six o'clock.
'I regret to inform you that Mr. Slug's plaster has proved of no
avail. He is in great agony, but has applied several large, additional
pieces notwithstanding. How affecting is this extreme devotion to
science and pursuit of knowledge under the most trying circumstances!
'We were extremely happy this morning, and the breakfast was one of
the most animated description. Nothing unpleasant occurred until noon,
with the exception of Doctor Foxey's brown silk umbrella and white hat
becoming entangled in the machinery while he was explaining to a knot
of ladies the construction of the steam-engine. I fear the gravy soup
for lunch was injudicious. We lost a great many passengers almost
'I am again in bed. Anything so heart-rending as Mr. Slug's
sufferings it has never yet been my lot to witness.'
'A messenger has just come down for a clean pocket-handkerchief from
Professor Woodensconce's bag, that unfortunate gentleman being quite
unable to leave the deck, and imploring constantly to be thrown
overboard. From this man I understand that Professor Nogo, though in a
state of utter exhaustion, clings feebly to the hard biscuit and cold
brandy and water, under the impression that they will yet restore him.
Such is the triumph of mind over matter.
'Professor Grime is in bed, to all appearance quite well; but he
will eat, and it is disagreeable to see him. Has this gentleman no
sympathy with the sufferings of his fellow-creatures? If he has, on
what principle can he call for mutton-chops—and smile?'
'Black Boy and Stomach-ache, Oldcastle, Saturday noon.
'You will be happy to learn that I have at length arrived here in
safety. The town is excessively crowded, and all the private lodgings
and hotels are filled with savans of both sexes. The tremendous
assemblage of intellect that one encounters in every street is in the
last degree overwhelming.
'Notwithstanding the throng of people here, I have been fortunate
enough to meet with very comfortable accommodation on very reasonable
terms, having secured a sofa in the first-floor passage at one guinea
per night, which includes permission to take my meals in the bar, on
condition that I walk about the streets at all other times, to make
room for other gentlemen similarly situated. I have been over the
outhouses intended to be devoted to the reception of the various
sections, both here and at the Boot-jack and Countenance, and am much
delighted with the arrangements. Nothing can exceed the fresh
appearance of the saw-dust with which the floors are sprinkled. The
forms are of unplaned deal, and the general effect, as you can well
imagine, is extremely beautiful.'
'The number and rapidity of the arrivals are quite bewildering.
Within the last ten minutes a stage-coach has driven up to the door,
filled inside and out with distinguished characters, comprising Mr.
Muddlebranes, Mr. Drawley, Professor Muff, Mr. X. Misty, Mr. X. X.
Misty, Mr. Purblind, Professor Rummun, The Honourable and Reverend Mr.
Long Eers, Professor John Ketch, Sir William Joltered, Doctor Buffer,
Mr. Smith (of London), Mr. Brown (of Edinburgh), Sir Hookham Snivey,
and Professor Pumpkinskull. The ten last-named gentlemen were wet
through, and looked extremely intelligent.'
'Sunday, two o'clock, p.m.
'The Honourable and Reverend Mr. Long Eers, accompanied by Sir
William Joltered, walked and drove this morning. They accomplished the
former feat in boots, and the latter in a hired fly. This has
naturally given rise to much discussion.
'I have just learnt that an interview has taken place at the
Boot-jack and Countenance between Sowster, the active and intelligent
beadle of this place, and Professor Pumpkinskull, who, as your readers
are doubtless aware, is an influential member of the council. I
forbear to communicate any of the rumours to which this very
extraordinary proceeding has given rise until I have seen Sowster, and
endeavoured to ascertain the truth from him.'
'I engaged a donkey-chaise shortly after writing the above, and
proceeded at a brisk trot in the direction of Sowster's residence,
passing through a beautiful expanse of country, with red brick
buildings on either side, and stopping in the marketplace to observe
the spot where Mr. Kwakley's hat was blown off yesterday. It is an
uneven piece of paving, but has certainly no appearance which would
lead one to suppose that any such event had recently occurred there.
From this point I proceeded—passing the gas-works and
tallow-melter's—to a lane which had been pointed out to me as the
beadle's place of residence; and before I had driven a dozen yards
further, I had the good fortune to meet Sowster himself advancing
'Sowster is a fat man, with a more enlarged development of that
peculiar conformation of countenance which is vulgarly termed a double
chin than I remember to have ever seen before. He has also a very red
nose, which he attributes to a habit of early rising—so red, indeed,
that but for this explanation I should have supposed it to proceed from
occasional inebriety. He informed me that he did not feel himself at
liberty to relate what had passed between himself and Professor
Pumpkinskull, but had no objection to state that it was connected with
a matter of police regulation, and added with peculiar significance
“Never wos sitch times!”
'You will easily believe that this intelligence gave me considerable
surprise, not wholly unmixed with anxiety, and that I lost no time in
waiting on Professor Pumpkinskull, and stating the object of my visit.
After a few moments' reflection, the Professor, who, I am bound to say,
behaved with the utmost politeness, openly avowed (I mark the passage
in italics) that he had requested Sowster to attend on the
Monday morning at the Boot-jack and Countenance, to keep off the
boys; and that he had further desired that the under-beadle might
be stationed, with the same object, at the Black Boy and Stomach-
'Now I leave this unconstitutional proceeding to your comments and
the consideration of your readers. I have yet to learn that a beadle,
without the precincts of a church, churchyard, or work-house, and
acting otherwise than under the express orders of churchwardens and
overseers in council assembled, to enforce the law against people who
come upon the parish, and other offenders, has any lawful authority
whatever over the rising youth of this country. I have yet to learn
that a beadle can be called out by any civilian to exercise a
domination and despotism over the boys of Britain. I have yet to learn
that a beadle will be permitted by the commissioners of poor law
regulation to wear out the soles and heels of his boots in illegal
interference with the liberties of people not proved poor or otherwise
criminal. I have yet to learn that a beadle has power to stop up the
Queen's highway at his will and pleasure, or that the whole width of
the street is not free and open to any man, boy, or woman in existence,
up to the very walls of the houses—ay, be they Black Boys and
Stomach-aches, or Boot-jacks and Countenances, I care not.'
'I have procured a local artist to make a faithful sketch of the
tyrant Sowster, which, as he has acquired this infamous celebrity, you
will no doubt wish to have engraved for the purpose of presenting a
copy with every copy of your next number. I enclose it.
[Picture which cannot be reproduced]
The under-beadle has consented to write his life, but it is to be
'The accompanying likeness is of course from the life, and complete
in every respect. Even if I had been totally ignorant of the man's
real character, and it had been placed before me without remark, I
should have shuddered involuntarily. There is an intense malignity of
expression in the features, and a baleful ferocity of purpose in the
ruffian's eye, which appals and sickens. His whole air is rampant with
cruelty, nor is the stomach less characteristic of his demoniac
'The great day has at length arrived. I have neither eyes, nor ears,
nor pens, nor ink, nor paper, for anything but the wonderful
proceedings that have astounded my senses. Let me collect my energies
and proceed to the account.
'SECTION A.—ZOOLOGY AND BOTANY.
FRONT PARLOUR, BLACK BOY AND STOMACH-ACHE.
President—Sir William Joltered. Vice-Presidents—Mr.
Muddlebranes and Mr. Drawley.
'MR. X. X. MISTY communicated some remarks on the disappearance of
dancing-bears from the streets of London, with observations on the
exhibition of monkeys as connected with barrel-organs. The writer had
observed, with feelings of the utmost pain and regret, that some years
ago a sudden and unaccountable change in the public taste took place
with reference to itinerant bears, who, being discountenanced by the
populace, gradually fell off one by one from the streets of the
metropolis, until not one remained to create a taste for natural
history in the breasts of the poor and uninstructed. One bear,
indeed,—a brown and ragged animal,—had lingered about the haunts of
his former triumphs, with a worn and dejected visage and feeble limbs,
and had essayed to wield his quarter-staff for the amusement of the
multitude; but hunger, and an utter want of any due recompense for his
abilities, had at length driven him from the field, and it was only too
probable that he had fallen a sacrifice to the rising taste for
grease. He regretted to add that a similar, and no less lamentable,
change had taken place with reference to monkeys. These delightful
animals had formerly been almost as plentiful as the organs on the tops
of which they were accustomed to sit; the proportion in the year 1829
(it appeared by the parliamentary return) being as one monkey to three
organs. Owing, however, to an altered taste in musical instruments,
and the substitution, in a great measure, of narrow boxes of music for
organs, which left the monkeys nothing to sit upon, this source of
public amusement was wholly dried up. Considering it a matter of the
deepest importance, in connection with national education, that the
people should not lose such opportunities of making themselves
acquainted with the manners and customs of two most interesting species
of animals, the author submitted that some measures should be
immediately taken for the restoration of these pleasing and truly
'THE PRESIDENT inquired by what means the honourable member proposed
to attain this most desirable end?
'THE AUTHOR submitted that it could be most fully and satisfactorily
accomplished, if Her Majesty's Government would cause to be brought
over to England, and maintained at the public expense, and for the
public amusement, such a number of bears as would enable every quarter
of the town to be visited—say at least by three bears a week. No
difficulty whatever need be experienced in providing a fitting place
for the reception of these animals, as a commodious bear-garden could
be erected in the immediate neighbourhood of both Houses of Parliament;
obviously the most proper and eligible spot for such an establishment.
'PROFESSOR MULL doubted very much whether any correct ideas of
natural history were propagated by the means to which the honourable
member had so ably adverted. On the contrary, he believed that they
had been the means of diffusing very incorrect and imperfect notions on
the subject. He spoke from personal observation and personal
experience, when he said that many children of great abilities had been
induced to believe, from what they had observed in the streets, at and
before the period to which the honourable gentleman had referred, that
all monkeys were born in red coats and spangles, and that their hats
and feathers also came by nature. He wished to know distinctly whether
the honourable gentleman attributed the want of encouragement the bears
had met with to the decline of public taste in that respect, or to a
want of ability on the part of the bears themselves?
'MR. X. X. MISTY replied, that he could not bring himself to believe
but that there must be a great deal of floating talent among the bears
and monkeys generally; which, in the absence of any proper
encouragement, was dispersed in other directions.
'PROFESSOR PUMPKINSKULL wished to take that opportunity of calling
the attention of the section to a most important and serious point.
The author of the treatise just read had alluded to the prevalent taste
for bears'-grease as a means of promoting the growth of hair, which
undoubtedly was diffused to a very great and (as it appeared to him)
very alarming extent. No gentleman attending that section could fail
to be aware of the fact that the youth of the present age evinced, by
their behaviour in the streets, and at all places of public resort, a
considerable lack of that gallantry and gentlemanly feeling which, in
more ignorant times, had been thought becoming. He wished to know
whether it were possible that a constant outward application of
bears'-grease by the young gentlemen about town had imperceptibly
infused into those unhappy persons something of the nature and quality
of the bear. He shuddered as he threw out the remark; but if this
theory, on inquiry, should prove to be well founded, it would at once
explain a great deal of unpleasant eccentricity of behaviour, which,
without some such discovery, was wholly unaccountable.
'THE PRESIDENT highly complimented the learned gentleman on his most
valuable suggestion, which produced the greatest effect upon the
assembly; and remarked that only a week previous he had seen some young
gentlemen at a theatre eyeing a box of ladies with a fierce intensity,
which nothing but the influence of some brutish appetite could possibly
explain. It was dreadful to reflect that our youth were so rapidly
verging into a generation of bears.
'After a scene of scientific enthusiasm it was resolved that this
important question should be immediately submitted to the consideration
of the council.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to know whether any gentleman could inform the
section what had become of the dancing-dogs?
'A MEMBER replied, after some hesitation, that on the day after three
glee-singers had been committed to prison as criminals by a late most
zealous police-magistrate of the metropolis, the dogs had abandoned
their professional duties, and dispersed themselves in different
quarters of the town to gain a livelihood by less dangerous means. He
was given to understand that since that period they had supported
themselves by lying in wait for and robbing blind men's poodles.
'MR. FLUMMERY exhibited a twig, claiming to be a veritable branch of
that noble tree known to naturalists as the SHAKSPEARE, which has taken
root in every land and climate, and gathered under the shade of its
broad green boughs the great family of mankind. The learned gentleman
remarked that the twig had been undoubtedly called by other names in
its time; but that it had been pointed out to him by an old lady in
Warwickshire, where the great tree had grown, as a shoot of the genuine
SHAKSPEARE, by which name he begged to introduce it to his countrymen.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to know what botanical definition the
honourable gentleman could afford of the curiosity.
'MR. FLUMMERY expressed his opinion that it was A DECIDED PLANT.
'SECTION B.—DISPLAY OF MODELS AND MECHANICAL SCIENCE.
LARGE ROOM, BOOT-JACK AND COUNTENANCE.
President—Mr. Mallett. Vice-Presidents—Messrs.
Leaver and Scroo.
'MR. CRINKLES exhibited a most beautiful and delicate machine, of
little larger size than an ordinary snuff-box, manufactured entirely by
himself, and composed exclusively of steel, by the aid of which more
pockets could be picked in one hour than by the present slow and
tedious process in four-and-twenty. The inventor remarked that it had
been put into active operation in Fleet Street, the Strand, and other
thoroughfares, and had never been once known to fail.
'After some slight delay, occasioned by the various members of the
section buttoning their pockets,
'THE PRESIDENT narrowly inspected the invention, and declared that he
had never seen a machine of more beautiful or exquisite construction.
Would the inventor be good enough to inform the section whether he had
taken any and what means for bringing it into general operation?
'MR. CRINKLES stated that, after encountering some preliminary
difficulties, he had succeeded in putting himself in communication with
Mr. Fogle Hunter, and other gentlemen connected with the swell mob, who
had awarded the invention the very highest and most unqualified
approbation. He regretted to say, however, that these distinguished
practitioners, in common with a gentleman of the name of Gimlet-eyed
Tommy, and other members of a secondary grade of the profession whom he
was understood to represent, entertained an insuperable objection to
its being brought into general use, on the ground that it would have
the inevitable effect of almost entirely superseding manual labour, and
throwing a great number of highly-deserving persons out of employment.
'THE PRESIDENT hoped that no such fanciful objections would be
allowed to stand in the way of such a great public improvement.
'MR. CRINKLES hoped so too; but he feared that if the gentlemen of
the swell mob persevered in their objection, nothing could be done.
'PROFESSOR GRIME suggested, that surely, in that case, Her Majesty's
Government might be prevailed upon to take it up.
'MR. CRINKLES said, that if the objection were found to be
insuperable he should apply to Parliament, which he thought could not
fail to recognise the utility of the invention.
'THE PRESIDENT observed that, up to this time Parliament had
certainly got on very well without it; but, as they did their business
on a very large scale, he had no doubt they would gladly adopt the
improvement. His only fear was that the machine might be worn out by
'MR. COPPERNOSE called the attention of the section to a proposition
of great magnitude and interest, illustrated by a vast number of
models, and stated with much clearness and perspicuity in a treatise
entitled “Practical Suggestions on the necessity of providing some
harmless and wholesome relaxation for the young noblemen of England.”
His proposition was, that a space of ground of not less than ten miles
in length and four in breadth should be purchased by a new company, to
be incorporated by Act of Parliament, and inclosed by a brick wall of
not less than twelve feet in height. He proposed that it should be
laid out with highway roads, turnpikes, bridges, miniature villages,
and every object that could conduce to the comfort and glory of
Four-in-hand Clubs, so that they might be fairly presumed to require no
drive beyond it. This delightful retreat would be fitted up with most
commodious and extensive stables, for the convenience of such of the
nobility and gentry as had a taste for ostlering, and with houses of
entertainment furnished in the most expensive and handsome style. It
would be further provided with whole streets of door-knockers and
bell-handles of extra size, so constructed that they could be easily
wrenched off at night, and regularly screwed on again, by attendants
provided for the purpose, every day. There would also be gas lamps of
real glass, which could be broken at a comparatively small expense per
dozen, and a broad and handsome foot pavement for gentlemen to drive
their cabriolets upon when they were humorously disposed—for the full
enjoyment of which feat live pedestrians would be procured from the
workhouse at a very small charge per head. The place being inclosed,
and carefully screened from the intrusion of the public, there would be
no objection to gentlemen laying aside any article of their costume
that was considered to interfere with a pleasant frolic, or, indeed, to
their walking about without any costume at all, if they liked that
better. In short, every facility of enjoyment would be afforded that
the most gentlemanly person could possibly desire. But as even these
advantages would be incomplete unless there were some means provided of
enabling the nobility and gentry to display their prowess when they
sallied forth after dinner, and as some inconvenience might be
experienced in the event of their being reduced to the necessity of
pummelling each other, the inventor had turned his attention to the
construction of an entirely new police force, composed exclusively of
automaton figures, which, with the assistance of the ingenious Signor
Gagliardi, of Windmill-street, in the Haymarket, he had succeeded in
making with such nicety, that a policeman, cab-driver, or old woman,
made upon the principle of the models exhibited, would walk about until
knocked down like any real man; nay, more, if set upon and beaten by
six or eight noblemen or gentlemen, after it was down, the figure would
utter divers groans, mingled with entreaties for mercy, thus rendering
the illusion complete, and the enjoyment perfect. But the invention
did not stop even here; for station-houses would be built, containing
good beds for noblemen and gentlemen during the night, and in the
morning they would repair to a commodious police office, where a
pantomimic investigation would take place before the automaton
magistrates,—quite equal to life,—who would fine them in so many
counters, with which they would be previously provided for the
purpose. This office would be furnished with an inclined plane, for
the convenience of any nobleman or gentleman who might wish to bring in
his horse as a witness; and the prisoners would be at perfect liberty,
as they were now, to interrupt the complainants as much as they
pleased, and to make any remarks that they thought proper. The charge
for these amusements would amount to very little more than they already
cost, and the inventor submitted that the public would be much
benefited and comforted by the proposed arrangement.
'PROFESSOR NOGO wished to be informed what amount of automaton police
force it was proposed to raise in the first instance.
'MR. COPPERNOSE replied, that it was proposed to begin with seven
divisions of police of a score each, lettered from A to G inclusive.
It was proposed that not more than half this number should be placed on
active duty, and that the remainder should be kept on shelves in the
police office ready to be called out at a moment's notice.
'THE PRESIDENT, awarding the utmost merit to the ingenious gentleman
who had originated the idea, doubted whether the automaton police would
quite answer the purpose. He feared that noblemen and gentlemen would
perhaps require the excitement of thrashing living subjects.
'MR. COPPERNOSE submitted, that as the usual odds in such cases were
ten noblemen or gentlemen to one policeman or cab-driver, it could make
very little difference in point of excitement whether the policeman or
cab-driver were a man or a block. The great advantage would be, that a
policeman's limbs might be all knocked off, and yet he would be in a
condition to do duty next day. He might even give his evidence next
morning with his head in his hand, and give it equally well.
'PROFESSOR MUFF.—Will you allow me to ask you, sir, of what
materials it is intended that the magistrates' heads shall be composed?
'MR. COPPERNOSE.—The magistrates will have wooden heads of course,
and they will be made of the toughest and thickest materials that can
possibly be obtained.
'PROFESSOR MUFF.—I am quite satisfied. This is a great invention.
'PROFESSOR NOGO.—I see but one objection to it. It appears to me
that the magistrates ought to talk.
'MR. COPPERNOSE no sooner heard this suggestion than he touched a
small spring in each of the two models of magistrates which were placed
upon the table; one of the figures immediately began to exclaim with
great volubility that he was sorry to see gentlemen in such a
situation, and the other to express a fear that the policeman was
'The section, as with one accord, declared with a shout of applause
that the invention was complete; and the President, much excited,
retired with Mr. Coppernose to lay it before the council. On his
'MR. TICKLE displayed his newly-invented spectacles, which enabled
the wearer to discern, in very bright colours, objects at a great
distance, and rendered him wholly blind to those immediately before
him. It was, he said, a most valuable and useful invention, based
strictly upon the principle of the human eye.
'THE PRESIDENT required some information upon this point. He had yet
to learn that the human eye was remarkable for the peculiarities of
which the honourable gentleman had spoken.
'MR. TICKLE was rather astonished to hear this, when the President
could not fail to be aware that a large number of most excellent
persons and great statesmen could see, with the naked eye, most
marvellous horrors on West India plantations, while they could discern
nothing whatever in the interior of Manchester cotton mills. He must
know, too, with what quickness of perception most people could discover
their neighbour's faults, and how very blind they were to their own.
If the President differed from the great majority of men in this
respect, his eye was a defective one, and it was to assist his vision
that these glasses were made.
'MR. BLANK exhibited a model of a fashionable annual, composed of
copper-plates, gold leaf, and silk boards, and worked entirely by milk
'MR. PROSEE, after examining the machine, declared it to be so
ingeniously composed, that he was wholly unable to discover how it went
on at all.
'MR. BLANK.—Nobody can, and that is the beauty of it.
'SECTION C.—ANATOMY AND MEDICINE.
BAR ROOM, BLACK BOY AND STOMACH-ACHE.
President—Dr. Soemup. Vice-Presidents—Messrs.
Pessell and Mortair.
'DR. GRUMMIDGE stated to the section a most interesting case of
monomania, and described the course of treatment he had pursued with
perfect success. The patient was a married lady in the middle rank of
life, who, having seen another lady at an evening party in a full suit
of pearls, was suddenly seized with a desire to possess a similar
equipment, although her husband's finances were by no means equal to
the necessary outlay. Finding her wish ungratified, she fell sick, and
the symptoms soon became so alarming, that he (Dr. Grummidge) was
called in. At this period the prominent tokens of the disorder were
sullenness, a total indisposition to perform domestic duties, great
peevishness, and extreme languor, except when pearls were mentioned, at
which times the pulse quickened, the eyes grew brighter, the pupils
dilated, and the patient, after various incoherent exclamations, burst
into a passion of tears, and exclaimed that nobody cared for her, and
that she wished herself dead. Finding that the patient's appetite was
affected in the presence of company, he began by ordering a total
abstinence from all stimulants, and forbidding any sustenance but weak
gruel; he then took twenty ounces of blood, applied a blister under
each ear, one upon the chest, and another on the back; having done
which, and administered five grains of calomel, he left the patient to
her repose. The next day she was somewhat low, but decidedly better,
and all appearances of irritation were removed. The next day she
improved still further, and on the next again. On the fourth there was
some appearance of a return of the old symptoms, which no sooner
developed themselves, than he administered another dose of calomel, and
left strict orders that, unless a decidedly favourable change occurred
within two hours, the patient's head should be immediately shaved to
the very last curl. From that moment she began to mend, and, in less
than four-and-twenty hours was perfectly restored. She did not now
betray the least emotion at the sight or mention of pearls or any other
ornaments. She was cheerful and good-humoured, and a most beneficial
change had been effected in her whole temperament and condition.
'MR. PIPKIN (M.R.C.S.) read a short but most interesting
communication in which he sought to prove the complete belief of Sir
William Courtenay, otherwise Thorn, recently shot at Canterbury, in the
Homoeopathic system. The section would bear in mind that one of the
Homoeopathic doctrines was, that infinitesimal doses of any medicine
which would occasion the disease under which the patient laboured,
supposing him to be in a healthy state, would cure it. Now, it was a
remarkable circumstance—proved in the evidence—that the deceased
Thorn employed a woman to follow him about all day with a pail of
water, assuring her that one drop (a purely homoeopathic remedy, the
section would observe), placed upon his tongue, after death, would
restore him. What was the obvious inference? That Thorn, who was
marching and countermarching in osier beds, and other swampy places,
was impressed with a presentiment that he should be drowned; in which
case, had his instructions been complied with, he could not fail to
have been brought to life again instantly by his own prescription. As
it was, if this woman, or any other person, had administered an
infinitesimal dose of lead and gunpowder immediately after he fell, he
would have recovered forthwith. But unhappily the woman concerned did
not possess the power of reasoning by analogy, or carrying out a
principle, and thus the unfortunate gentleman had been sacrificed to
the ignorance of the peasantry.
OUT-HOUSE, BLACK BOY AND STOMACH-ACHE.
President—Mr. Slug. Vice-Presidents—Messrs. Noakes
'MR. KWAKLEY stated the result of some most ingenious statistical
inquiries relative to the difference between the value of the
qualification of several members of Parliament as published to the
world, and its real nature and amount. After reminding the section
that every member of Parliament for a town or borough was supposed to
possess a clear freehold estate of three hundred pounds per annum, the
honourable gentleman excited great amusement and laughter by stating
the exact amount of freehold property possessed by a column of
legislators, in which he had included himself. It appeared from this
table, that the amount of such income possessed by each was 0 pounds, 0
shillings, and 0 pence, yielding an average of the same. (Great
laughter.) It was pretty well known that there were accommodating
gentlemen in the habit of furnishing new members with temporary
qualifications, to the ownership of which they swore solemnly—of
course as a mere matter of form. He argued from these data that
it was wholly unnecessary for members of Parliament to possess any
property at all, especially as when they had none the public could get
them so much cheaper.
'SUPPLEMENTARY SECTION, E.—UMBUGOLOGY AND DITCHWATERISICS.
President—Mr. Grub. Vice Presidents—Messrs. Dull and
'A paper was read by the secretary descriptive of a bay pony with one
eye, which had been seen by the author standing in a butcher's cart at
the corner of Newgate Market. The communication described the author
of the paper as having, in the prosecution of a mercantile pursuit,
betaken himself one Saturday morning last summer from Somers Town to
Cheapside; in the course of which expedition he had beheld the
extraordinary appearance above described. The pony had one distinct
eye, and it had been pointed out to him by his friend Captain
Blunderbore, of the Horse Marines, who assisted the author in his
search, that whenever he winked this eye he whisked his tail (possibly
to drive the flies off), but that he always winked and whisked at the
same time. The animal was lean, spavined, and tottering; and the
author proposed to constitute it of the family of
Fitfordogsmeataurious. It certainly did occur to him that there
was no case on record of a pony with one clearly-defined and distinct
organ of vision, winking and whisking at the same moment.
'MR. Q. J. SNUFFLETOFFLE had heard of a pony winking his eye, and
likewise of a pony whisking his tail, but whether they were two ponies
or the same pony he could not undertake positively to say. At all
events, he was acquainted with no authenticated instance of a
simultaneous winking and whisking, and he really could not but doubt
the existence of such a marvellous pony in opposition to all those
natural laws by which ponies were governed. Referring, however, to the
mere question of his one organ of vision, might he suggest the
possibility of this pony having been literally half asleep at the time
he was seen, and having closed only one eye.
'THE PRESIDENT observed that, whether the pony was half asleep or
fast asleep, there could be no doubt that the association was wide
awake, and therefore that they had better get the business over, and go
to dinner. He had certainly never seen anything analogous to this
pony, but he was not prepared to doubt its existence; for he had seen
many queerer ponies in his time, though he did not pretend to have seen
any more remarkable donkeys than the other gentlemen around him.
'PROFESSOR JOHN KETCH was then called upon to exhibit the skull of
the late Mr. Greenacre, which he produced from a blue bag, remarking,
on being invited to make any observations that occurred to him, “that
he'd pound it as that 'ere 'spectable section had never seed a more
gamerer cove nor he vos.”
'A most animated discussion upon this interesting relic ensued; and,
some difference of opinion arising respecting the real character of the
deceased gentleman, Mr. Blubb delivered a lecture upon the cranium
before him, clearly showing that Mr. Greenacre possessed the organ of
destructiveness to a most unusual extent, with a most remarkable
development of the organ of carveativeness. Sir Hookham Snivey was
proceeding to combat this opinion, when Professor Ketch suddenly
interrupted the proceedings by exclaiming, with great excitement of
'THE PRESIDENT begged to call the learned gentleman to order.
'PROFESSOR KETCH.—“Order be blowed! you've got the wrong un, I tell
you. It ain't no 'ed at all; it's a coker-nut as my brother-in-law has
been a-carvin', to hornament his new baked tatur-stall wots a-comin'
down 'ere vile the 'sociation's in the town. Hand over, vill you?”
'With these words, Professor Ketch hastily repossessed himself of the
cocoa-nut, and drew forth the skull, in mistake for which he had
exhibited it. A most interesting conversation ensued; but as there
appeared some doubt ultimately whether the skull was Mr. Greenacre's,
or a hospital patient's, or a pauper's, or a man's, or a woman's, or a
monkey's, no particular result was obtained.'
'I cannot,' says our talented correspondent in conclusion, 'I cannot
close my account of these gigantic researches and sublime and noble
triumphs without repeating a bon mot of Professor
Woodensconce's, which shows how the greatest minds may occasionally
unbend when truth can be presented to listening ears, clothed in an
attractive and playful form. I was standing by, when, after a week of
feasting and feeding, that learned gentleman, accompanied by the whole
body of wonderful men, entered the hall yesterday, where a sumptuous
dinner was prepared; where the richest wines sparkled on the board, and
fat bucks—propitiatory sacrifices to learning—sent forth their
savoury odours. “Ah!” said Professor Woodensconce, rubbing his hands,
“this is what we meet for; this is what inspires us; this is what keeps
us together, and beckons us onward; this is the spread of
science, and a glorious spread it is.”'
THE PANTOMIME OF LIFE
Before we plunge headlong into this paper, let us at once confess to
a fondness for pantomimes—to a gentle sympathy with clowns and
pantaloons—to an unqualified admiration of harlequins and
columbines—to a chaste delight in every action of their brief
existence, varied and many-coloured as those actions are, and
inconsistent though they occasionally be with those rigid and formal
rules of propriety which regulate the proceedings of meaner and less
comprehensive minds. We revel in pantomimes—not because they dazzle
one's eyes with tinsel and gold leaf; not because they present to us,
once again, the well-beloved chalked faces, and goggle eyes of our
childhood; not even because, like Christmas-day, and Twelfth-night, and
Shrove-Tuesday, and one's own birthday, they come to us but once a
year;—our attachment is founded on a graver and a very different
reason. A pantomime is to us, a mirror of life; nay, more, we maintain
that it is so to audiences generally, although they are not aware of
it, and that this very circumstance is the secret cause of their
amusement and delight.
Let us take a slight example. The scene is a street: an elderly
gentleman, with a large face and strongly marked features, appears.
His countenance beams with a sunny smile, and a perpetual dimple is on
his broad, red cheek. He is evidently an opulent elderly gentleman,
comfortable in circumstances, and well-to-do in the world. He is not
unmindful of the adornment of his person, for he is richly, not to say
gaudily, dressed; and that he indulges to a reasonable extent in the
pleasures of the table may be inferred from the joyous and oily manner
in which he rubs his stomach, by way of informing the audience that he
is going home to dinner. In the fulness of his heart, in the fancied
security of wealth, in the possession and enjoyment of all the good
things of life, the elderly gentleman suddenly loses his footing, and
stumbles. How the audience roar! He is set upon by a noisy and
officious crowd, who buffet and cuff him unmercifully. They scream
with delight! Every time the elderly gentleman struggles to get up,
his relentless persecutors knock him down again. The spectators are
convulsed with merriment! And when at last the elderly gentleman does
get up, and staggers away, despoiled of hat, wig, and clothing, himself
battered to pieces, and his watch and money gone, they are exhausted
with laughter, and express their merriment and admiration in rounds of
Is this like life? Change the scene to any real street;—to the
Stock Exchange, or the City banker's; the merchant's counting-house, or
even the tradesman's shop. See any one of these men fall,—the more
suddenly, and the nearer the zenith of his pride and riches, the
better. What a wild hallo is raised over his prostrate carcase by the
shouting mob; how they whoop and yell as he lies humbled beneath them!
Mark how eagerly they set upon him when he is down; and how they mock
and deride him as he slinks away. Why, it is the pantomime to the very
Of all the pantomimic dramatis personae, we consider the
pantaloon the most worthless and debauched. Independent of the dislike
one naturally feels at seeing a gentleman of his years engaged in
pursuits highly unbecoming his gravity and time of life, we cannot
conceal from ourselves the fact that he is a treacherous,
worldly-minded old villain, constantly enticing his younger companion,
the clown, into acts of fraud or petty larceny, and generally standing
aside to watch the result of the enterprise. If it be successful, he
never forgets to return for his share of the spoil; but if it turn out
a failure, he generally retires with remarkable caution and expedition,
and keeps carefully aloof until the affair has blown over. His amorous
propensities, too, are eminently disagreeable; and his mode of
addressing ladies in the open street at noon-day is down-right
improper, being usually neither more nor less than a perceptible
tickling of the aforesaid ladies in the waist, after committing which,
he starts back, manifestly ashamed (as well he may be) of his own
indecorum and temerity; continuing, nevertheless, to ogle and beckon to
them from a distance in a very unpleasant and immoral manner.
Is there any man who cannot count a dozen pantaloons in his own
social circle? Is there any man who has not seen them swarming at the
west end of the town on a sunshiny day or a summer's evening, going
through the last-named pantomimic feats with as much liquorish energy,
and as total an absence of reserve, as if they were on the very stage
itself? We can tell upon our fingers a dozen pantaloons of our
acquaintance at this moment—capital pantaloons, who have been
performing all kinds of strange freaks, to the great amusement of their
friends and acquaintance, for years past; and who to this day are
making such comical and ineffectual attempts to be young and dissolute,
that all beholders are like to die with laughter.
Take that old gentleman who has just emerged from the Café de
l'Europe in the Haymarket, where he has been dining at the expense
of the young man upon town with whom he shakes hands as they part at
the door of the tavern. The affected warmth of that shake of the hand,
the courteous nod, the obvious recollection of the dinner, the savoury
flavour of which still hangs upon his lips, are all characteristics of
his great prototype. He hobbles away humming an opera tune, and
twirling his cane to and fro, with affected carelessness. Suddenly he
stops—'tis at the milliner's window. He peeps through one of the
large panes of glass; and, his view of the ladies within being
obstructed by the India shawls, directs his attentions to the young
girl with the band-box in her hand, who is gazing in at the window
also. See! he draws beside her. He coughs; she turns away from him.
He draws near her again; she disregards him. He gleefully chucks her
under the chin, and, retreating a few steps, nods and beckons with
fantastic grimaces, while the girl bestows a contemptuous and
supercilious look upon his wrinkled visage. She turns away with a
flounce, and the old gentleman trots after her with a toothless
chuckle. The pantaloon to the life!
But the close resemblance which the clowns of the stage bear to
those of every-day life is perfectly extraordinary. Some people talk
with a sigh of the decline of pantomime, and murmur in low and dismal
tones the name of Grimaldi. We mean no disparagement to the worthy and
excellent old man when we say that this is downright nonsense. Clowns
that beat Grimaldi all to nothing turn up every day, and nobody
patronizes them—more's the pity!
'I know who you mean,' says some dirty-faced patron of Mr.
Osbaldistone's, laying down the Miscellany when he has got thus far,
and bestowing upon vacancy a most knowing glance; 'you mean C. J. Smith
as did Guy Fawkes, and George Barnwell at the Garden.' The dirty-faced
gentleman has hardly uttered the words, when he is interrupted by a
young gentleman in no shirt-collar and a Petersham coat. 'No, no,'
says the young gentleman; 'he means Brown, King, and Gibson, at the
'Delphi.' Now, with great deference both to the first-named gentleman
with the dirty face, and the last-named gentleman in the non-existing
shirt-collar, we do not mean either the performer who so
grotesquely burlesqued the Popish conspirator, or the three
unchangeables who have been dancing the same dance under different
imposing titles, and doing the same thing under various high-sounding
names for some five or six years last past. We have no sooner made
this avowal, than the public, who have hitherto been silent witnesses
of the dispute, inquire what on earth it is we do mean; and,
with becoming respect, we proceed to tell them.
It is very well known to all playgoers and pantomime-seers, that the
scenes in which a theatrical clown is at the very height of his glory
are those which are described in the play-bills as 'Cheesemonger's shop
and Crockery warehouse,' or 'Tailor's shop, and Mrs. Queertable's
boarding-house,' or places bearing some such title, where the great fun
of the thing consists in the hero's taking lodgings which he has not
the slightest intention of paying for, or obtaining goods under false
pretences, or abstracting the stock-in-trade of the respectable
shopkeeper next door, or robbing warehouse porters as they pass under
his window, or, to shorten the catalogue, in his swindling everybody he
possibly can, it only remaining to be observed that, the more extensive
the swindling is, and the more barefaced the impudence of the swindler,
the greater the rapture and ecstasy of the audience. Now it is a most
remarkable fact that precisely this sort of thing occurs in real life
day after day, and nobody sees the humour of it. Let us illustrate our
position by detailing the plot of this portion of the pantomime—not of
the theatre, but of life.
The Honourable Captain Fitz-Whisker Fiercy, attended by his livery
servant Do'em—a most respectable servant to look at, who has grown
grey in the service of the captain's family—views, treats for, and
ultimately obtains possession of, the unfurnished house, such a number,
such a street. All the tradesmen in the neighbourhood are in agonies
of competition for the captain's custom; the captain is a good-natured,
kind-hearted, easy man, and, to avoid being the cause of disappointment
to any, he most handsomely gives orders to all. Hampers of wine,
baskets of provisions, cart-loads of furniture, boxes of jewellery,
supplies of luxuries of the costliest description, flock to the house
of the Honourable Captain Fitz-Whisker Fiercy, where they are received
with the utmost readiness by the highly respectable Do'em; while the
captain himself struts and swaggers about with that compound air of
conscious superiority and general blood-thirstiness which a military
captain should always, and does most times, wear, to the admiration and
terror of plebeian men. But the tradesmen's backs are no sooner
turned, than the captain, with all the eccentricity of a mighty mind,
and assisted by the faithful Do'em, whose devoted fidelity is not the
least touching part of his character, disposes of everything to great
advantage; for, although the articles fetch small sums, still they are
sold considerably above cost price, the cost to the captain having been
nothing at all. After various manoeuvres, the imposture is discovered,
Fitz-Fiercy and Do'em are recognized as confederates, and the police
office to which they are both taken is thronged with their dupes.
Who can fail to recognize in this, the exact counterpart of the best
portion of a theatrical pantomime—Fitz-Whisker Fiercy by the clown;
Do'em by the pantaloon; and supernumeraries by the tradesmen? The best
of the joke, too, is, that the very coal-merchant who is loudest in his
complaints against the person who defrauded him, is the identical man
who sat in the centre of the very front row of the pit last night and
laughed the most boisterously at this very same thing,—and not so well
done either. Talk of Grimaldi, we say again! Did Grimaldi, in his
best days, ever do anything in this way equal to Da Costa?
The mention of this latter justly celebrated clown reminds us of his
last piece of humour, the fraudulently obtaining certain stamped
acceptances from a young gentleman in the army. We had scarcely laid
down our pen to contemplate for a few moments this admirable actor's
performance of that exquisite practical joke, than a new branch of our
subject flashed suddenly upon us. So we take it up again at once.
All people who have been behind the scenes, and most people who have
been before them, know, that in the representation of a pantomime, a
good many men are sent upon the stage for the express purpose of being
cheated, or knocked down, or both. Now, down to a moment ago, we had
never been able to understand for what possible purpose a great number
of odd, lazy, large-headed men, whom one is in the habit of meeting
here, and there, and everywhere, could ever have been created. We see
it all, now. They are the supernumeraries in the pantomime of life;
the men who have been thrust into it, with no other view than to be
constantly tumbling over each other, and running their heads against
all sorts of strange things. We sat opposite to one of these men at a
supper-table, only last week. Now we think of it, he was exactly like
the gentlemen with the pasteboard heads and faces, who do the
corresponding business in the theatrical pantomimes; there was the same
broad stolid simper—the same dull leaden eye—the same unmeaning,
vacant stare; and whatever was said, or whatever was done, he always
came in at precisely the wrong place, or jostled against something that
he had not the slightest business with. We looked at the man across
the table again and again; and could not satisfy ourselves what race of
beings to class him with. How very odd that this never occurred to us
We will frankly own that we have been much troubled with the
harlequin. We see harlequins of so many kinds in the real living
pantomime, that we hardly know which to select as the proper fellow of
him of the theatres. At one time we were disposed to think that the
harlequin was neither more nor less than a young man of family and
independent property, who had run away with an opera-dancer, and was
fooling his life and his means away in light and trivial amusements.
On reflection, however, we remembered that harlequins are occasionally
guilty of witty, and even clever acts, and we are rather disposed to
acquit our young men of family and independent property, generally
speaking, of any such misdemeanours. On a more mature consideration of
the subject, we have arrived at the conclusion that the harlequins of
life are just ordinary men, to be found in no particular walk or
degree, on whom a certain station, or particular conjunction of
circumstances, confers the magic wand. And this brings us to a few
words on the pantomime of public and political life, which we shall say
at once, and then conclude—merely premising in this place that we
decline any reference whatever to the columbine, being in no wise
satisfied of the nature of her connection with her parti-coloured
lover, and not feeling by any means clear that we should be justified
in introducing her to the virtuous and respectable ladies who peruse
We take it that the commencement of a Session of Parliament is
neither more nor less than the drawing up of the curtain for a grand
comic pantomime, and that his Majesty's most gracious speech on the
opening thereof may be not inaptly compared to the clown's opening
speech of 'Here we are!' 'My lords and gentlemen, here we are!'
appears, to our mind at least, to be a very good abstract of the point
and meaning of the propitiatory address of the ministry. When we
remember how frequently this speech is made, immediately after the
change too, the parallel is quite perfect, and still more singular.
Perhaps the cast of our political pantomime never was richer than at
this day. We are particularly strong in clowns. At no former time, we
should say, have we had such astonishing tumblers, or performers so
ready to go through the whole of their feats for the amusement of an
admiring throng. Their extreme readiness to exhibit, indeed, has given
rise to some ill-natured reflections; it having been objected that by
exhibiting gratuitously through the country when the theatre is closed,
they reduce themselves to the level of mountebanks, and thereby tend to
degrade the respectability of the profession. Certainly Grimaldi never
did this sort of thing; and though Brown, King, and Gibson have gone to
the Surrey in vacation time, and Mr. C. J. Smith has ruralised at
Sadler's Wells, we find no theatrical precedent for a general tumbling
through the country, except in the gentleman, name unknown, who threw
summersets on behalf of the late Mr. Richardson, and who is no
authority either, because he had never been on the regular boards.
But, laying aside this question, which after all is a mere matter of
taste, we may reflect with pride and gratification of heart on the
proficiency of our clowns as exhibited in the season. Night after
night will they twist and tumble about, till two, three, and four
o'clock in the morning; playing the strangest antics, and giving each
other the funniest slaps on the face that can possibly be imagined,
without evincing the smallest tokens of fatigue. The strange noises,
the confusion, the shouting and roaring, amid which all this is done,
too, would put to shame the most turbulent sixpenny gallery that ever
yelled through a boxing-night.
It is especially curious to behold one of these clowns compelled to
go through the most surprising contortions by the irresistible
influence of the wand of office, which his leader or harlequin holds
above his head. Acted upon by this wonderful charm he will become
perfectly motionless, moving neither hand, foot, nor finger, and will
even lose the faculty of speech at an instant's notice; or on the other
hand, he will become all life and animation if required, pouring forth
a torrent of words without sense or meaning, throwing himself into the
wildest and most fantastic contortions, and even grovelling on the
earth and licking up the dust. These exhibitions are more curious than
pleasing; indeed, they are rather disgusting than otherwise, except to
the admirers of such things, with whom we confess we have no
Strange tricks—very strange tricks—are also performed by the
harlequin who holds for the time being the magic wand which we have
just mentioned. The mere waving it before a man's eyes will dispossess
his brains of all the notions previously stored there, and fill it with
an entirely new set of ideas; one gentle tap on the back will alter the
colour of a man's coat completely; and there are some expert
performers, who, having this wand held first on one side and then on
the other, will change from side to side, turning their coats at every
evolution, with so much rapidity and dexterity, that the quickest eye
can scarcely detect their motions. Occasionally, the genius who
confers the wand, wrests it from the hand of the temporary possessor,
and consigns it to some new performer; on which occasions all the
characters change sides, and then the race and the hard knocks begin
We might have extended this chapter to a much greater length—we
might have carried the comparison into the liberal professions—we
might have shown, as was in fact our original purpose, that each is in
itself a little pantomime with scenes and characters of its own,
complete; but, as we fear we have been quite lengthy enough already, we
shall leave this chapter just where it is. A gentleman, not altogether
unknown as a dramatic poet, wrote thus a year or two ago—
'All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:'
and we, tracking out his footsteps at the scarcely-worth-mentioning
little distance of a few millions of leagues behind, venture to add, by
way of new reading, that he meant a Pantomime, and that we are all
actors in The Pantomime of Life.
SOME PARTICULARS CONCERNING A LION
We have a great respect for lions in the abstract. In common with
most other people, we have heard and read of many instances of their
bravery and generosity. We have duly admired that heroic self-denial
and charming philanthropy which prompts them never to eat people except
when they are hungry, and we have been deeply impressed with a becoming
sense of the politeness they are said to display towards unmarried
ladies of a certain state. All natural histories teem with anecdotes
illustrative of their excellent qualities; and one old spelling-book in
particular recounts a touching instance of an old lion, of high moral
dignity and stern principle, who felt it his imperative duty to devour
a young man who had contracted a habit of swearing, as a striking
example to the rising generation.
All this is extremely pleasant to reflect upon, and, indeed, says a
very great deal in favour of lions as a mass. We are bound to state,
however, that such individual lions as we have happened to fall in with
have not put forth any very striking characteristics, and have not
acted up to the chivalrous character assigned them by their
chroniclers. We never saw a lion in what is called his natural state,
certainly; that is to say, we have never met a lion out walking in a
forest, or crouching in his lair under a tropical sun, waiting till his
dinner should happen to come by, hot from the baker's. But we have
seen some under the influence of captivity, and the pressure of
misfortune; and we must say that they appeared to us very apathetic,
The lion at the Zoological Gardens, for instance. He is all very
well; he has an undeniable mane, and looks very fierce; but, Lord bless
us! what of that? The lions of the fashionable world look just as
ferocious, and are the most harmless creatures breathing. A box-lobby
lion or a Regent-street animal will put on a most terrible aspect, and
roar, fearfully, if you affront him; but he will never bite, and, if
you offer to attack him manfully, will fairly turn tail and sneak off.
Doubtless these creatures roam about sometimes in herds, and, if they
meet any especially meek-looking and peaceably-disposed fellow, will
endeavour to frighten him; but the faintest show of a vigorous
resistance is sufficient to scare them even then. These are pleasant
characteristics, whereas we make it matter of distinct charge against
the Zoological lion and his brethren at the fairs, that they are
sleepy, dreamy, sluggish quadrupeds.
We do not remember to have ever seen one of them perfectly awake,
except at feeding-time. In every respect we uphold the biped lions
against their four-footed namesakes, and we boldly challenge
controversy upon the subject.
With these opinions it may be easily imagined that our curiosity and
interest were very much excited the other day, when a lady of our
acquaintance called on us and resolutely declined to accept our refusal
of her invitation to an evening party; 'for,' said she, 'I have got a
lion coming.' We at once retracted our plea of a prior engagement, and
became as anxious to go, as we had previously been to stay away.
We went early, and posted ourselves in an eligible part of the
drawing-room, from whence we could hope to obtain a full view of the
interesting animal. Two or three hours passed, the quadrilles began,
the room filled; but no lion appeared. The lady of the house became
inconsolable,—for it is one of the peculiar privileges of these lions
to make solemn appointments and never keep them,—when all of a sudden
there came a tremendous double rap at the street-door, and the master
of the house, after gliding out (unobserved as he flattered himself) to
peep over the banisters, came into the room, rubbing his hands together
with great glee, and cried out in a very important voice, 'My dear,
Mr.—(naming the lion) has this moment arrived.'
Upon this, all eyes were turned towards the door, and we observed
several young ladies, who had been laughing and conversing previously
with great gaiety and good humour, grow extremely quiet and
sentimental; while some young gentlemen, who had been cutting great
figures in the facetious and small-talk way, suddenly sank very
obviously in the estimation of the company, and were looked upon with
great coldness and indifference. Even the young man who had been
ordered from the music shop to play the pianoforte was visibly
affected, and struck several false notes in the excess of his
All this time there was a great talking outside, more than once
accompanied by a loud laugh, and a cry of 'Oh! capital! excellent!'
from which we inferred that the lion was jocose, and that these
exclamations were occasioned by the transports of his keeper and our
host. Nor were we deceived; for when the lion at last appeared, we
overheard his keeper, who was a little prim man, whisper to several
gentlemen of his acquaintance, with uplifted hands, and every
expression of half-suppressed admiration, that—(naming the lion again)
was in such cue to-night!
The lion was a literary one. Of course, there were a vast number of
people present who had admired his roarings, and were anxious to be
introduced to him; and very pleasant it was to see them brought up for
the purpose, and to observe the patient dignity with which he received
all their patting and caressing. This brought forcibly to our mind
what we had so often witnessed at country fairs, where the other lions
are compelled to go through as many forms of courtesy as they chance to
be acquainted with, just as often as admiring parties happen to drop in
While the lion was exhibiting in this way, his keeper was not idle,
for he mingled among the crowd, and spread his praises most
industriously. To one gentleman he whispered some very choice thing
that the noble animal had said in the very act of coming up-stairs,
which, of course, rendered the mental effort still more astonishing; to
another he murmured a hasty account of a grand dinner that had taken
place the day before, where twenty-seven gentlemen had got up all at
once to demand an extra cheer for the lion; and to the ladies he made
sundry promises of interceding to procure the majestic brute's
sign-manual for their albums. Then, there were little private
consultations in different corners, relative to the personal appearance
and stature of the lion; whether he was shorter than they had expected
to see him, or taller, or thinner, or fatter, or younger, or older;
whether he was like his portrait, or unlike it; and whether the
particular shade of his eyes was black, or blue, or hazel, or green, or
yellow, or mixture. At all these consultations the keeper assisted;
and, in short, the lion was the sole and single subject of discussion
till they sat him down to whist, and then the people relapsed into
their old topics of conversation—themselves and each other.
We must confess that we looked forward with no slight impatience to
the announcement of supper; for if you wish to see a tame lion under
particularly favourable circumstances, feeding-time is the period of
all others to pitch upon. We were therefore very much delighted to
observe a sensation among the guests, which we well knew how to
interpret, and immediately afterwards to behold the lion escorting the
lady of the house down-stairs. We offered our arm to an elderly female
of our acquaintance, who—dear old soul!—is the very best person that
ever lived, to lead down to any meal; for, be the room ever so small,
or the party ever so large, she is sure, by some intuitive perception
of the eligible, to push and pull herself and conductor close to the
best dishes on the table;—we say we offered our arm to this elderly
female, and, descending the stairs shortly after the lion, were
fortunate enough to obtain a seat nearly opposite him.
Of course the keeper was there already. He had planted himself at
precisely that distance from his charge which afforded him a decent
pretext for raising his voice, when he addressed him, to so loud a key,
as could not fail to attract the attention of the whole company, and
immediately began to apply himself seriously to the task of bringing
the lion out, and putting him through the whole of his manoeuvres.
Such flashes of wit as he elicited from the lion! First of all, they
began to make puns upon a salt-cellar, and then upon the breast of a
fowl, and then upon the trifle; but the best jokes of all were
decidedly on the lobster salad, upon which latter subject the lion came
out most vigorously, and, in the opinion of the most competent
authorities, quite outshone himself. This is a very excellent mode of
shining in society, and is founded, we humbly conceive, upon the
classic model of the dialogues between Mr. Punch and his friend the
proprietor, wherein the latter takes all the up-hill work, and is
content to pioneer to the jokes and repartees of Mr. P. himself, who
never fails to gain great credit and excite much laughter thereby.
Whatever it be founded on, however, we recommend it to all lions,
present and to come; for in this instance it succeeded to admiration,
and perfectly dazzled the whole body of hearers.
When the salt-cellar, and the fowl's breast, and the trifle, and the
lobster salad were all exhausted, and could not afford standing-room
for another solitary witticism, the keeper performed that very
dangerous feat which is still done with some of the caravan lions,
although in one instance it terminated fatally, of putting his head in
the animal's mouth, and placing himself entirely at its mercy. Boswell
frequently presents a melancholy instance of the lamentable results of
this achievement, and other keepers and jackals have been terribly
lacerated for their daring. It is due to our lion to state, that he
condescended to be trifled with, in the most gentle manner, and finally
went home with the showman in a hack cab: perfectly peaceable, but
Being in a contemplative mood, we were led to make some reflections
upon the character and conduct of this genus of lions as we walked
homewards, and we were not long in arriving at the conclusion that our
former impression in their favour was very much strengthened and
confirmed by what we had recently seen. While the other lions receive
company and compliments in a sullen, moody, not to say snarling manner,
these appear flattered by the attentions that are paid them; while
those conceal themselves to the utmost of their power from the vulgar
gaze, these court the popular eye, and, unlike their brethren, whom
nothing short of compulsion will move to exertion, are ever ready to
display their acquirements to the wondering throng. We have known
bears of undoubted ability who, when the expectations of a large
audience have been wound up to the utmost pitch, have peremptorily
refused to dance; well-taught monkeys, who have unaccountably objected
to exhibit on the slack wire; and elephants of unquestioned genius, who
have suddenly declined to turn the barrel-organ; but we never once knew
or heard of a biped lion, literary or otherwise,—and we state it as a
fact which is highly creditable to the whole species,—who, occasion
offering, did not seize with avidity on any opportunity which was
afforded him, of performing to his heart's content on the first violin.
MR. ROBERT BOLTON: THE 'GENTLEMAN CONNECTED WITH THE
In the parlour of the Green Dragon, a public-house in the immediate
neighbourhood of Westminster Bridge, everybody talks politics, every
evening, the great political authority being Mr. Robert Bolton, an
individual who defines himself as 'a gentleman connected with the
press,' which is a definition of peculiar indefiniteness. Mr. Robert
Bolton's regular circle of admirers and listeners are an undertaker, a
greengrocer, a hairdresser, a baker, a large stomach surmounted by a
man's head, and placed on the top of two particularly short legs, and a
thin man in black, name, profession, and pursuit unknown, who always
sits in the same position, always displays the same long, vacant face,
and never opens his lips, surrounded as he is by most enthusiastic
conversation, except to puff forth a volume of tobacco smoke, or give
vent to a very snappy, loud, and shrill hem! The conversation
sometimes turns upon literature, Mr. Bolton being a literary character,
and always upon such news of the day as is exclusively possessed by
that talented individual. I found myself (of course, accidentally) in
the Green Dragon the other evening, and, being somewhat amused by the
following conversation, preserved it.
'Can you lend me a ten-pound note till Christmas?' inquired the
hairdresser of the stomach.
'Where's your security, Mr. Clip?'
'My stock in trade,—there's enough of it, I'm thinking, Mr.
Thicknesse. Some fifty wigs, two poles, half-a-dozen head blocks, and
a dead Bruin.'
'No, I won't, then,' growled out Thicknesse. 'I lends nothing on the
security of the whigs or the Poles either. As for whigs, they're
cheats; as for the Poles, they've got no cash. I never have nothing to
do with blockheads, unless I can't awoid it (ironically), and a dead
bear's about as much use to me as I could be to a dead bear.'
'Well, then,' urged the other, 'there's a book as belonged to Pope,
Byron's Poems, valued at forty pounds, because it's got Pope's
identical scratch on the back; what do you think of that for security?'
'Well, to be sure!' cried the baker. 'But how d'ye mean, Mr. Clip?'
'Mean! why, that it's got the hottergruff of Pope.
“Steal not this book, for fear of hangman's rope;
For it belongs to Alexander Pope.”
All that's written on the inside of the binding of the book; so, as
my son says, we're bound to believe it.'
'Well, sir,' observed the undertaker, deferentially, and in a
half-whisper, leaning over the table, and knocking over the
hairdresser's grog as he spoke, 'that argument's very easy upset.'
'Perhaps, sir,' said Clip, a little flurried, 'you'll pay for the
first upset afore you thinks of another.'
'Now,' said the undertaker, bowing amicably to the hairdresser, 'I
think, I says I think—you'll excuse me, Mr. Clip, I
think, you see, that won't go down with the present
company—unfortunately, my master had the honour of making the coffin
of that ere Lord's housemaid, not no more nor twenty year ago. Don't
think I'm proud on it, gentlemen; others might be; but I hate rank of
any sort. I've no more respect for a Lord's footman than I have for
any respectable tradesman in this room. I may say no more nor I have
for Mr. Clip! (bowing). Therefore, that ere Lord must have been born
long after Pope died. And it's a logical interference to defer, that
they neither of them lived at the same time. So what I mean is this
here, that Pope never had no book, never seed, felt, never smelt no
book (triumphantly) as belonged to that ere Lord. And, gentlemen, when
I consider how patiently you have 'eared the ideas what I have
expressed, I feel bound, as the best way to reward you for the kindness
you have exhibited, to sit down without saying anything
more—partickler as I perceive a worthier visitor nor myself is just
entered. I am not in the habit of paying compliments, gentlemen; when
I do, therefore, I hope I strikes with double force.'
'Ah, Mr. Murgatroyd! what's all this about striking with double
force?' said the object of the above remark, as he entered. 'I never
excuse a man's getting into a rage during winter, even when he's seated
so close to the fire as you are. It is very injudicious to put
yourself into such a perspiration. What is the cause of this extreme
physical and mental excitement, sir?'
Such was the very philosophical address of Mr. Robert Bolton, a
shorthand-writer, as he termed himself—a bit of equivoque passing
current among his fraternity, which must give the uninitiated a vast
idea of the establishment of the ministerial organ, while to the
initiated it signifies that no one paper can lay claim to the enjoyment
of their services. Mr. Bolton was a young man, with a somewhat sickly
and very dissipated expression of countenance. His habiliments were
composed of an exquisite union of gentility, slovenliness, assumption,
simplicity, newness, and old age. Half of him was dressed for
the winter, the other half for the summer. His hat was of the newest
cut, the D'Orsay; his trousers had been white, but the inroads of mud
and ink, etc., had given them a pie-bald appearance; round his throat
he wore a very high black cravat, of the most tyrannical stiffness;
while his tout ensemble was hidden beneath the enormous folds of
an old brown poodle-collared great-coat, which was closely buttoned up
to the aforesaid cravat. His fingers peeped through the ends of his
black kid gloves, and two of the toes of each foot took a similar view
of society through the extremities of his high-lows. Sacred to the
bare walls of his garret be the mysteries of his interior dress! He
was a short, spare man, of a somewhat inferior deportment. Everybody
seemed influenced by his entry into the room, and his salutation of
each member partook of the patronizing. The hairdresser made way for
him between himself and the stomach. A minute afterwards he had taken
possession of his pint and pipe. A pause in the conversation took
place. Everybody was waiting, anxious for his first observation.
'Horrid murder in Westminster this morning,' observed Mr. Bolton.
Everybody changed their positions. All eyes were fixed upon the man
'A baker murdered his son by boiling him in a copper,' said Mr.
'Good heavens!' exclaimed everybody, in simultaneous horror.
'Boiled him, gentlemen!' added Mr. Bolton, with the most effective
emphasis; 'boiled him!'
'And the particulars, Mr. B.,' inquired the hairdresser, 'the
Mr. Bolton took a very long draught of porter, and some two or three
dozen whiffs of tobacco, doubtless to instil into the commercial
capacities of the company the superiority of a gentlemen connected with
the press, and then said—
'The man was a baker, gentlemen.' (Every one looked at the baker
present, who stared at Bolton.) 'His victim, being his son, also was
necessarily the son of a baker. The wretched murderer had a wife, whom
he was frequently in the habit, while in an intoxicated state, of
kicking, pummelling, flinging mugs at, knocking down, and half-killing
while in bed, by inserting in her mouth a considerable portion of a
sheet or blanket.'
The speaker took another draught, everybody looked at everybody else,
and exclaimed, 'Horrid!'
'It appears in evidence, gentlemen,' continued Mr. Bolton, 'that, on
the evening of yesterday, Sawyer the baker came home in a reprehensible
state of beer. Mrs. S., connubially considerate, carried him in that
condition up-stairs into his chamber, and consigned him to their mutual
couch. In a minute or two she lay sleeping beside the man whom the
morrow's dawn beheld a murderer!' (Entire silence informed the
reporter that his picture had attained the awful effect he desired.)
'The son came home about an hour afterwards, opened the door, and went
up to bed. Scarcely (gentlemen, conceive his feelings of alarm),
scarcely had he taken off his indescribables, when shrieks (to his
experienced ear maternal shrieks) scared the silence of
surrounding night. He put his indescribables on again, and ran
down-stairs. He opened the door of the parental bed-chamber. His
father was dancing upon his mother. What must have been his feelings!
In the agony of the minute he rushed at his male parent as he was about
to plunge a knife into the side of his female. The mother shrieked.
The father caught the son (who had wrested the knife from the paternal
grasp) up in his arms, carried him down-stairs, shoved him into a
copper of boiling water among some linen, closed the lid, and jumped
upon the top of it, in which position he was found with a ferocious
countenance by the mother, who arrived in the melancholy wash-house
just as he had so settled himself.
'“Where's my boy?” shrieked the mother.
'“In that copper, boiling,” coolly replied the benign father.
'Struck by the awful intelligence, the mother rushed from the house,
and alarmed the neighbourhood. The police entered a minute
afterwards. The father, having bolted the wash-house door, had bolted
himself. They dragged the lifeless body of the boiled baker from the
cauldron, and, with a promptitude commendable in men of their station,
they immediately carried it to the station-house. Subsequently, the
baker was apprehended while seated on the top of a lamp-post in
Parliament Street, lighting his pipe.'
The whole horrible ideality of the Mysteries of Udolpho, condensed
into the pithy effect of a ten-line paragraph, could not possibly have
so affected the narrator's auditory. Silence, the purest and most
noble of all kinds of applause, bore ample testimony to the barbarity
of the baker, as well as to Bolton's knack of narration; and it was
only broken after some minutes had elapsed by interjectional
expressions of the intense indignation of every man present. The baker
wondered how a British baker could so disgrace himself and the highly
honourable calling to which he belonged; and the others indulged in a
variety of wonderments connected with the subject; among which not the
least wonderment was that which was awakened by the genius and
information of Mr. Robert Bolton, who, after a glowing eulogium on
himself, and his unspeakable influence with the daily press, was
proceeding, with a most solemn countenance, to hear the pros and cons
of the Pope autograph question, when I took up my hat, and left.
FAMILIAR EPISTLE FROM A PARENT TO A CHILD AGED TWO
YEARS AND TWO MONTHS
To recount with what trouble I have brought you up—with what an
anxious eye I have regarded your progress,—how late and how often I
have sat up at night working for you,—and how many thousand letters I
have received from, and written to your various relations and friends,
many of whom have been of a querulous and irritable turn,—to dwell on
the anxiety and tenderness with which I have (as far as I possessed the
power) inspected and chosen your food; rejecting the indigestible and
heavy matter which some injudicious but well-meaning old ladies would
have had you swallow, and retaining only those light and pleasant
articles which I deemed calculated to keep you free from all gross
humours, and to render you an agreeable child, and one who might be
popular with society in general,—to dilate on the steadiness with
which I have prevented your annoying any company by talking
politics—always assuring you that you would thank me for it yourself
some day when you grew older,—to expatiate, in short, upon my own
assiduity as a parent, is beside my present purpose, though I cannot
but contemplate your fair appearance—your robust health, and unimpeded
circulation (which I take to be the great secret of your good looks)
without the liveliest satisfaction and delight.
It is a trite observation, and one which, young as you are, I have no
doubt you have often heard repeated, that we have fallen upon strange
times, and live in days of constant shiftings and changes. I had a
melancholy instance of this only a week or two since. I was returning
from Manchester to London by the Mail Train, when I suddenly fell into
another train—a mixed train—of reflection, occasioned by the dejected
and disconsolate demeanour of the Post-Office Guard. We were stopping
at some station where they take in water, when he dismounted slowly
from the little box in which he sits in ghastly mockery of his old
condition with pistol and blunderbuss beside him, ready to shoot the
first highwayman (or railwayman) who shall attempt to stop the horses,
which now travel (when they travel at all) inside and in a
portable stable invented for the purpose,—he dismounted, I say, slowly
and sadly, from his post, and looking mournfully about him as if in
dismal recollection of the old roadside public-house the blazing
fire—the glass of foaming ale—the buxom handmaid and admiring
hangers-on of tap-room and stable, all honoured by his notice; and,
retiring a little apart, stood leaning against a signal-post, surveying
the engine with a look of combined affliction and disgust which no
words can describe. His scarlet coat and golden lace were tarnished
with ignoble smoke; flakes of soot had fallen on his bright green
shawl—his pride in days of yore—the steam condensed in the tunnel
from which we had just emerged, shone upon his hat like rain. His eye
betokened that he was thinking of the coachman; and as it wandered to
his own seat and his own fast-fading garb, it was plain to see that he
felt his office and himself had alike no business there, and were
nothing but an elaborate practical joke.
As we whirled away, I was led insensibly into an anticipation of
those days to come, when mail-coach guards shall no longer be judges of
horse-flesh—when a mail-coach guard shall never even have seen a
horse—when stations shall have superseded stables, and corn shall have
given place to coke. 'In those dawning times,' thought I,
'exhibition-rooms shall teem with portraits of Her Majesty's favourite
engine, with boilers after Nature by future Landseers. Some Amburgh,
yet unborn, shall break wild horses by his magic power; and in the
dress of a mail-coach guard exhibit his TRAINED ANIMALS in a mock
mail-coach. Then, shall wondering crowds observe how that, with the
exception of his whip, it is all his eye; and crowned heads shall see
them fed on oats, and stand alone unmoved and undismayed, while
counters flee affrighted when the coursers neigh!'
Such, my child, were the reflections from which I was only awakened
then, as I am now, by the necessity of attending to matters of present
though minor importance. I offer no apology to you for the digression,
for it brings me very naturally to the subject of change, which is the
very subject of which I desire to treat.
In fact, my child, you have changed hands. Henceforth I resign you
to the guardianship and protection of one of my most intimate and
valued friends, Mr. Ainsworth, with whom, and with you, my best wishes
and warmest feelings will ever remain. I reap no gain or profit by
parting from you, nor will any conveyance of your property be required,
for, in this respect, you have always been literally 'Bentley's'
Miscellany, and never mine.
Unlike the driver of the old Manchester mail, I regard this altered
state of things with feelings of unmingled pleasure and satisfaction.
Unlike the guard of the new Manchester mail, your guard is at
home in his new place, and has roystering highwaymen and gallant
desperadoes ever within call. And if I might compare you, my child, to
an engine; (not a Tory engine, nor a Whig engine, but a brisk and rapid
locomotive;) your friends and patrons to passengers; and he who now
stands towards you in loco parentis as the skilful engineer and
supervisor of the whole, I would humbly crave leave to postpone the
departure of the train on its new and auspicious course for one brief
instant, while, with hat in hand, I approach side by side with the
friend who travelled with me on the old road, and presume to solicit
favour and kindness in behalf of him and his new charge, both for their
sakes and that of the old coachman,