Ball by William Makepeace Thackeray
AND HOW WE WENT
MR. AND MRS.
HOUSE, AND THEIR
TO COME, BUT
LADY BACON, THE
MISS BACONS, MR.
REV. MR. TOOP,
MISS JOY, MR.
AND MRS. JOY,
MISS TOADY, LORD
MR. GRIG, MR.
CHEVALIER OF THE
LEGION OF HONOR.
THE MULLIGAN AND
MRS. PERKINS'S BALL.
THE MULLIGAN (OF BALLYMULLIGAN), AND
HOW WE WENT TO MRS. PERKINS'S BALL.
I do not know where Ballymulligan is, and never knew anybody who
did. Once I asked the Mulligan the question, when that chieftain
assumed a look of dignity so ferocious, and spoke of "Saxon
curiawsitee" in a tone of such evident displeasure, that, as after
all it can matter very little to me whereabouts lies the Celtic
principality in question, I have never pressed the inquiry any
I don't know even the Mulligan's town residence. One night, as he
bade us adieu in Oxford Street,—"I live THERE," says he, pointing
down towards Oxbridge, with the big stick he carries—so his abode is
in that direction at any rate. He has his letters addressed to
several of his friends' houses, and his parcels, are left for him at
various taverns which he frequents. That pair of checked trousers, in
which you see him attired, he did me the favor of ordering from my own
tailor, who is quite as anxious as anybody to know the address of the
wearer. In like manner my hatter asked me, "Oo was the Hirish gent as
'ad ordered four 'ats and a sable boar to be sent to my lodgings?" As
I did not know (however I might guess) the articles have never been
sent, and the Mulligan has withdrawn his custom from the "infernal
four-and-nine-penny scoundthrel," as he calls him. The hatter has not
shut up shop in consequence.
I became acquainted with the Mulligan through a distinguished
countryman of his, who, strange to say, did not know the chieftain
himself. But dining with my friend Fred Clancy, of the Irish bar, at
Greenwich, the Mulligan came up, "inthrojuiced" himself to Clancy as
he said, claimed relationship with him on the side of Brian Boroo, and
drawing his chair to our table, quickly became intimate with us. He
took a great liking to me, was good enough to find out my address and
pay me a visit: since which period often and often on coming to
breakfast in the morning I have found him in my sitting-room on the
sofa engaged with the rolls and morning papers: and many a time, on
returning home at night for an evening's quiet reading, I have
discovered this honest fellow in the arm-chair before the fire,
perfuming the apartment with my cigars and trying the quality of such
liquors as might be found on the sideboard. The way in which he pokes
fun at Betsy, the maid of the lodgings, is prodigious. She begins to
laugh whenever he comes; if he calls her a duck, a divvle, a darlin',
it is all one. He is just as much a master of the premises as the
individual who rents them at fifteen shillings a week; and as for
handkerchiefs, shirt-collars, and the like articles of fugitive
haberdashery, the loss since I have known him is unaccountable. I
suspect he is like the cat in some houses: for, suppose the whiskey,
the cigars, the sugar, the tea-caddy, the pickles, and other groceries
disappear, all is laid upon that edax-rerum of a Mulligan.
The greatest offence that can be offered to him is to call him MR.
Mulligan. "Would you deprive me, sir," says he, "of the title which
was bawrun be me princelee ancestors in a hundred thousand battles?
In our own green valleys and fawrests, in the American savannahs, in
the sierras of Speen and the flats of Flandthers, the Saxon has
quailed before me war-cry of MULLIGAN ABOO! MR. Mulligan! I'll pitch
anybody out of the window who calls me MR. Mulligan." He said this,
and uttered the slogan of the Mulligans with a shriek so terrific,
that my uncle (the Rev. W. Gruels, of the Independent Congregation,
Bungay), who had happened to address him in the above obnoxious
manner, while sitting at my apartments drinking tea after the May
meetings, instantly quitted the room, and has never taken the least
notice of me since, except to state to the rest of the family that I
am doomed irrevocably to perdition.
Well, one day last season, I had received from my kind and most
estimable friend, MRS. PERKINS OF POCKLINGTON SQUARE (to whose
amiable family I have had the honor of giving lessons in drawing,
French, and the German flute), an invitation couched in the usual
terms, on satin gilt-edged note-paper, to her evening-party; or, as I
call it, "Ball."
Besides the engraved note sent to all her friends, my kind
patroness had addressed me privately as follows:—
MY DEAR MR. TITMARSH,—If you know any VERY eligible young man, we
give you leave to bring him. You GENTLEMEN love your CLUBS so much
now, and care so little for DANCING, that it is really quite A
SCANDAL. Come early, and before EVERYBODY, and give us the benefit
of all your taste and CONTINENTAL SKILL.
"Whom shall I bring?" mused I, highly flattered by this mark of
confidence; and I thought of Bob Trippett; and little Fred Spring, of
the Navy Pay Office; Hulker, who is rich, and I knew took lessons in
Paris; and a half-score of other bachelor friends, who might be
considered as VERY ELIGIBLE—when I was roused from my meditation by
the slap of a hand on my shoulder; and looking up, there was the
Mulligan, who began, as usual, reading the papers on my desk.
"Hwhat's this?" says he. "Who's Perkins? Is it a supper-ball, or
only a tay-ball?"
"The Perkinses of Pocklington Square, Mulligan, are tiptop people,"
says I, with a tone of dignity. "Mr. Perkins's sister is married to
a baronet, Sir Giles Bacon, of Hogwash, Norfolk. Mr. Perkins's uncle
was Lord Mayor of London; and he was himself in Parliament, and MAY BE
again any day. The family are my most particular friends. A tay-ball
indeed! why, Gunter . . ." Here I stopped: I felt I was committing
"Gunter!" says the Mulligan, with another confounded slap on the
shoulder. "Don't say another word: I'LL go widg you, my boy."
"YOU go, Mulligan?" says I: "why, really—I—it's not my party."
"Your hwhawt? hwhat's this letter? a'n't I an eligible young man?—
Is the descendant of a thousand kings unfit company for a miserable
tallow-chandthlering cockney? Are ye joking wid me? for, let me tell
ye, I don't like them jokes. D'ye suppose I'm not as well bawrun and
bred as yourself, or any Saxon friend ye ever had?"
"I never said you weren't, Mulligan," says I.
"Ye don't mean seriously that a Mulligan is not fit company for a
"My dear fellow, how could you think I could so far insult you?"
says I. "Well, then," says he, "that's a matter settled, and we go."
What the deuce was I to do? I wrote to Mrs. Perkins; and that kind
lady replied, that she would receive the Mulligan, or any other of my
friends, with the greatest cordiality. "Fancy a party, all
Mulligans!" thought I, with a secret terror.
MR. AND MRS. PERKINS, THEIR HOUSE,
AND THEIR YOUNG PEOPLE.
Following Mrs. Perkins's orders, the present writer made his
appearance very early at Pocklington Square: where the tastiness of
all the decorations elicited my warmest admiration. Supper of course
was in the dining-loom, superbly arranged by Messrs. Grigs and
Spooner, the confectioners of the neighborhood. I assisted my
respected friend Mr. Perkins and his butler in decanting the sherry,
and saw, not without satisfaction, a large bath for wine under the
sideboard, in which were already placed very many bottles of
The BACK DINING-ROOM, Mr. P.'s study (where the venerable man goes
to sleep after dinner), was arranged on this occasion as a tea- room,
Mrs. Flouncey (Miss Fanny's maid) officiating in a cap and pink
ribbons, which became her exceedingly. Long, long before the arrival
of the company, I remarked Master Thomas Perkins and Master Giles
Bacon, his cousin (son of Sir Giles Bacon, Bart.), in this apartment,
busy among the macaroons.
Mr. Gregory the butler, besides John the footman and Sir Giles's
large man in the Bacon livery, and honest Grundsell, carpet-beater
and green-grocer, of Little Pocklington Buildings, had at least half
a dozen of aides-de-camp in black with white neck-cloths, like doctors
The BACK DRAWING-ROOM door on the landing being taken off the
hinges (and placed up stairs under Mr. Perkins's bed), the orifice
was covered with muslin, and festooned with elegant wreaths of
flowers. This was the Dancing Saloon. A linen was spread over the
carpet; and a band—consisting of Mr. Clapperton, piano, Mr. Pinch,
harp, and Herr Spoff, cornet-a-piston arrived at a pretty early hour,
and were accommodated with some comfortable negus in the tea- room,
previous to the commencement of their delightful labors. The boudoir
to the left was fitted up as a card-room; the drawing-room was of
course for the reception of the company,—the chandeliers and yellow
damask being displayed this night in all their splendor; and the
charming conservatory over the landing was ornamented by a few
moon-like lamps, and the flowers arranged so that it had the
appearance of a fairy bower. And Miss Perkins (as I took the liberty
of stating to her mamma) looked like the fairy of that bower. It is
this young creature's first year in PUBLIC LIFE: she has been
educated, regardless of expense, at Hammersmith; and a simple white
muslin dress and blue ceinture set off charms of which I beg to speak
with respectful admiration.
My distinguished friend the Mulligan of Ballymulligan was good
enough to come the very first of the party. By the way, how awkward
it is to be the first of the party! and yet you know somebody must;
but for my part, being timid, I always wait at the corner of the
street in the cab, and watch until some other carriage comes up.
Well, as we were arranging the sherry in the decanters down the
supper-tables, my friend arrived: "Hwhares me friend Mr. Titmarsh?" I
heard him bawling out to Gregory in the passage, and presently he
rushed into the supper-room, where Mr. and Mrs. Perkins and myself
were, and as the waiter was announcing "Mr. Mulligan," "THE Mulligan
of Ballymulligan, ye blackguard!" roared he, and stalked into the
apartment, "apologoizing," as he said, for introducing himself.
Mr. and Mrs. Perkins did not perhaps wish to be seen in this room,
which was for the present only lighted by a couple of candles; but HE
was not at all abashed by the circumstance, and grasping them both
warmly by the hands, he instantly made himself at home. "As friends
of my dear and talented friend Mick," so he is pleased to call me,
"I'm deloighted, madam, to be made known to ye. Don't consider me in
the light of a mere acquaintance! As for you, my dear madam, you put
me so much in moind of my own blessed mother, now resoiding at
Ballymulligan Castle, that I begin to love ye at first soight." At
which speech Mr. Perkins getting rather alarmed, asked the Mulligan
whether he would take some wine, or go up stairs.
"Faix," says Mulligan "it's never too soon for good dhrink." And
(although he smelt very much of whiskey already) he drank a tumbler
of wine "to the improvement of an acqueentence which comminces in a
manner so deloightful."
"Let's go up stairs, Mulligan," says I, and led the noble Irishman
to the upper apartments, which were in a profound gloom, the candles
not being yet illuminated, and where we surprised Miss Fanny, seated
in the twilight at the piano, timidly trying the tunes of the polka
which she danced so exquisitely that evening. She did not perceive the
stranger at first; but how she started when the Mulligan loomed upon
"Heavenlee enchanthress!" says Mulligan, "don't floy at the
approach of the humblest of your sleeves! Reshewm your pleece at
that insthrument, which weeps harmonious, or smoils melojious, as you
charrum it! Are you acqueented with the Oirish Melodies? Can ye
play, 'Who fears to talk of Nointy-eight?' the 'Shan Van Voght?' or
the 'Dirge of Ollam Fodhlah?'"
"Who's this mad chap that Titmarsh has brought?" I heard Master
Bacon exclaim to Master Perkins. "Look! how frightened Fanny looks!"
"O poo! gals are ALWAYS frightened," Fanny's brother replied; but
Giles Bacon, more violent, said, "I'll tell you what, Tom: if this
goes on, we must pitch into him." And so I have no doubt they would,
when another thundering knock coming, Gregory rushed into the room and
began lighting all the candles, so as to produce an amazing
brilliancy, Miss Fanny sprang up and ran to her mamma, and the young
gentlemen slid down the banisters to receive the company in the hall.
EVERYBODY BEGINS TO COME, BUT
ESPECIALLY MR. MINCHIN.
"It's only me and my sisters," Master Bacon said; though "only"
meant eight in this instance. All the young ladies had fresh cheeks
and purple elbows; all had white frocks, with hair more or less
auburn: and so a party was already made of this blooming and numerous
family, before the rest of the company began to arrive. The three Miss
Meggots next came in their fly: Mr. Blades and his niece from 19 in
the square: Captain and Mrs. Struther, and Miss Struther: Doctor
Toddy's two daughters and their mamma: but where were the gentlemen?
The Mulligan, great and active as he was, could not suffice among so
many beauties. At last came a brisk neat little knock, and looking
into the hall, I saw a gentleman taking off his clogs there, whilst
Sir Giles Bacon's big footman was looking on with rather a
"What name shall I enounce?" says he, with a wink at Gregory on the
The gentleman in clogs said, with quiet dignity,—
MR. FREDERICK MINCHIN.
"Pump Court, Temple," is printed on his cards in very small type:
and he is a rising barrister of the Western Circuit. He is to be
found at home of mornings: afterwards "at Westminster," as you read
on his back door. "Binks and Minchin's Reports" are probably known
to my legal friends: this is the Minchin in question.
He is decidedly genteel, and is rather in request at the balls of
the Judges' and Serjeants' ladies: for he dances irreproachably, and
goes out to dinner as much as ever he can.
He mostly dines at the Oxford and Cambridge Club, of which you can
easily see by his appearance that he is a member; he takes the joint
and his half-pint of wine, for Minchin does everything like a
gentleman. He is rather of a literary turn; still makes Latin verses
with some neatness; and before he was called, was remarkably fond of
When Mr. Minchin goes out in the evening, his clerk brings his bag
to the Club, to dress; and if it is at all muddy, he turns up his
trousers, so that he may come in without a speck. For such a party
as this, he will have new gloves; otherwise Frederick, his clerk, is
chiefly employed in cleaning them with India-rubber.
He has a number of pleasant stories about the Circuit and the
University, which he tells with a simper to his neighbor at dinner;
and has always the last joke of Mr. Baron Maule. He has a private
fortune of five thousand pounds; he is a dutiful son; he has a sister
married, in Harley Street; and Lady Jane Ranville has the best opinion
of him, and says he is a most excellent and highly principled young
Her ladyship and daughter arrived just as Mr. Minchin had popped
his clogs into the umbrella-stand; and the rank of that respected
person, and the dignified manner in which he led her up stairs,
caused all sneering on the part of the domestics to disappear.
THE BALL-ROOM DOOR.
A hundred of knocks follow Frederick Minchin's: in half an hour
Messrs. Spoff, Pinch, and Clapperton have begun their music, and
Mulligan, with one of the Miss Bacons, is dancing majestically in the
first quadrille. My young friends Giles and Tom prefer the
landing-place to the drawing-rooms, where they stop all night,
robbing the refreshment-trays as they come up or down. Giles has
eaten fourteen ices: he will have a dreadful stomach-ache to- morrow.
Tom has eaten twelve, but he has had four more glasses of negus than
Giles. Grundsell, the occasional waiter, from whom Master Tom buys
quantities of ginger-beer, can of course deny him nothing. That is
Grundsell, in the tights, with the tray. Meanwhile direct your
attention to the three gentlemen at the door: they are conversing.
1st Gent.—Who's the man of the house—the bald man?
2nd Gent.—Of course. The man of the house is always bald. He's a
stockbroker, I believe. Snooks brought me.
1st Gent.—Have you been to the tea-room? There's a pretty girl in
the tea-room; blue eyes, pink ribbons, that kind of thing.
2nd Gent.—Who the deuce is that girl with those tremendous
shoulders? Gad! I do wish somebody would smack 'em.
3rd Gent.—Sir—that young lady is my niece, sir,—my niece—my
name is Blades, sir.
2nd Gent.—Well, Blades! smack your niece's shoulders: she deserves
it, begad! she does. Come in, Jinks, present me to the Perkinses.—
Hullo! here's an old country acquaintance—Lady Bacon, as I live!
with all the piglings; she never goes out without the whole litter.
(Exeunt 1st and 2nd Gents.)
LADY BACON, THE MISS BACONS, MR.
Lady B.—Leonora! Maria! Amelia! here is the gentleman we met at
Sir John Porkington's.
[The MISSES BACON, expecting to be asked to dance, smile
simultaneously, and begin to smooth their tuckers.]
Mr. Flam.—Lady Bacon! I couldn't be mistaken in YOU! Won't you
dance, Lady Bacon?
Lady B.—Go away, you droll creature!
Mr. Flam.—And these are your ladyship's seven lovely sisters, to
judge from their likenesses to the charming Lady Bacon?
Lady B.—My sisters, he! he! my DAUGHTERS, Mr. Flam, and THEY
dance, don't you, girls?
The Misses Bacon.—O yes!
Mr. Flam.—Gad! how I wish I was a dancing man!
I have not been able to do justice (only a Lawrence could do that)
to my respected friend Mrs. Perkins, in this picture; but Larkins's
portrait is considered very like. Adolphus Larkins has been long
connected with Mr. Perkins's City establishment, and is asked to dine
twice or thrice per annum. Evening-parties are the great enjoyment of
this simple youth, who, after he has walked from Kentish Town to
Thames Street, and passed twelve hours in severe labor there, and
walked back again to Kentish Town, finds no greater pleasure than to
attire his lean person in that elegant evening costume which you see,
to walk into town again, and to dance at anybody's house who will
invite him. Islington, Pentonville, Somers Town, are the scenes of
many of his exploits; and I have seen this good-natured fellow
performing figure-dances at Notting-hill, at a house where I am
ashamed to say there was no supper, no negus even to speak of, nothing
but the bare merits of the polka in which Adolphus revels. To
describe this gentleman's infatuation for dancing, let me say, in a
word, that he will even frequent boarding-house hops, rather than not
He has clogs, too, like Minchin: but nobody laughs at HIM. He
gives himself no airs; but walks into a house with a knock and a
demeanor so tremulous and humble, that the servants rather patronize
him. He does not speak, or have any particular opinions, but when the
time comes, begins to dance. He bleats out a word or two to his
partner during this operation, seems very weak and sad during the
whole performance, and, of course, is set to dance with the ugliest
The gentle, kind spirit! when I think of him night after night,
hopping and jigging, and trudging off to Kentish Town, so gently,
through the fogs, and mud, and darkness: I do not know whether I
ought to admire him, because his enjoyments are so simple, and his
dispositions so kindly; or laugh at him, because he draws his life so
exquisitely mild. Well, well, we can't be all roaring lions in this
world; there must be SOME lambs, and harmless, kindly, gregarious
creatures for eating and shearing. See! even good- natured Mrs.
Perkins is leading up the trembling Larkins to the tremendous Miss
The Poetess, author of "Heartstrings," "The Deadly Nightshade,"
"Passion Flowers," Though her poems breathe only of love, Miss B.
has never been married. She is nearly six feet high; she loves
waltzing beyond even poesy; and I think lobster-salad as much as
either. She confesses to twenty-eight; in which case her first
volume, "The Orphan of Gozo," (cut up by Mr. Rigby, in the Quarterly,
with his usual kindness,) must have been published when she was three
For a woman all soul, she certainly eats as much as any woman I
ever saw. The sufferings she has had to endure, are, she says,
beyond compare; the poems which she writes breathe a withering
passion, a smouldering despair, an agony of spirit that would melt
the soul of a drayman, were he to read them. Well, it is a comfort
to see that she can dance of nights, and to know (for the habits of
illustrious literary persons are always worth knowing) that she eats
a hot mutton-chop for breakfast every morning of her blighted
She lives in a boardinghouse at Brompton, and comes to the party in
It is worth twopence to see Miss Bunion and Poseidon Hicks, the
great poet, conversing with one another, and to talk of one to the
other afterwards. How they hate each other! I (in my wicked way)
have sent Hicks almost raving mad, by praising Bunion to him in
confidence; and you can drive Bunion out of the room by a few
judicious panegyrics of Hicks.
Hicks first burst upon the astonished world with poems, in the
Byronic manner: "The Death-Shriek," "The Bastard of Lara," "The
Atabal," "The Fire-Ship of Botzaris," and other works. His "Love
Lays," in Mr. Moore's early style, were pronounced to be wonderfully
precocious for a young gentleman then only thirteen, and in a
commercial academy, at Tooting.
Subsequently, this great bard became less passionate and more
thoughtful; and, at the age of twenty, wrote "Idiosyncracy" (in forty
books, 4to.): "Ararat," "a stupendous epic," as the reviews said; and
"The Megatheria," "a magnificent contribution to our pre- Adamite
literature," according to the same authorities. Not having read these
works, it would ill become me to judge them; but I know that poor
Jingle, the publisher, always attributed his insolvency to the latter
epic, which was magnificently printed in elephant folio.
Hicks has now taken a classical turn, and has brought out
"Poseidon," "Iacchus," "Hephaestus," and I dare say is going through
the mythology. But I should not like to try him at a passage of the
Greek Delectus, any more than twenty thousand others of us who have
had a "classical education."
Hicks was taken in an inspired attitude regarding the chandelier,
and pretending he didn't know that Miss Pettifer was looking at him.
Her name is Anna Maria (daughter of Higgs and Pettifer, solicitors,
Bedford Row); but Hicks calls her "Ianthe" in his album verses, and
is himself an eminent drysalter in the city.
Poor Miss Meggot is not so lucky as Miss Bunion. Nobody comes to
dance with HER, though she has a new frock on, as she calls it, and
rather a pretty foot, which she always manages to stick out.
She is forty-seven, the youngest of three sisters, who live a
mouldy old house, near Middlesex Hospital, where they have lived for
I don't know how many score of years; but this is certain: the eldest
Miss Meggot saw the Gordon Riots out of that same parlor window, and
tells the story how her father (physician to George III.) was robbed
of his queue in the streets on that occasion. The two old ladies have
taken the brevet rank, and are addressed as Mrs. Jane and Mrs. Betsy:
one of them is at whist in the back drawing-room. But the youngest is
still called Miss Nancy, and is considered quite a baby by her
She was going to be married once to a brave young officer, Ensign
Angus Macquirk, of the Whistlebinkie Fencibles; but he fell at Quatre
Bras, by the side of the gallant Snuffmull, his commander. Deeply,
deeply did Miss Nancy deplore him.
But time has cicatrized the wounded heart. She is gay now, and
would sing or dance, ay, or marry if anybody asked her.
Do go, my dear friend—I don't mean to ask her to marry, but to ask
her to dance.—Never mind the looks of the thing. It will make her
happy; and what does it cost you? Ah, my dear fellow! take this
counsel: always dance with the old ladies—always dance with the
governesses. It is a comfort to the poor things when they get up in
their garret that somebody has had mercy on them. And such a handsome
fellow as YOU too!
MISS RANVILLE, REV. MR. TOOP, MISS
MULLINS, MR. WINTER.
Mr. W. Miss Mullins, look at Miss Ranville: what a picture of good
Miss M.—Oh, you satirical creature!
Mr. W.—Do you know why she is so angry? she expected to dance with
Captain Grig, and by some mistake, the Cambridge Professor got hold
of her: isn't he a handsome man?
Miss M.—Oh, you droll wretch!
Mr. W.—Yes, he's a fellow of college—fellows mayn't marry, Miss
Mullins—poor fellows, ay, Miss Mullins?
Mr. W.—And Professor of Phlebotomy in the University. He flatters
himself he is a man of the world, Miss Mullins, and always dances in
the long vacation.
Miss M.—You malicious, wicked monster!
Mr. W.—Do you know Lady Jane Ranville? Miss Ranville's mamma. A
ball once a year; footmen in canary-colored livery: Baker Street; six
dinners in the season; starves all the year round; pride and poverty,
you know; I've been to her ball ONCE. Ranville Ranville's her
brother, and between you and me—but this, dear Miss Mullins, is a
profound secret,—I think he's a greater fool than his sister.
Miss M.—Oh, you satirical, droll, malicious, wicked thing you!
Mr. W.—You do me injustice, Miss Mullins, indeed you do.
MISS JOY, MR. AND MRS. JOY, MR.
Mr. B.—What spirits that girl has, Mrs. Joy!
Mr. J.—She's a sunshine in a house, Botter, a regular sunshine.
When Mrs. J. here's in a bad humor, I . . .
Mrs. J.—Don't talk nonsense, Mr. Joy.
Mrs. B.—There's a hop, skip, and jump for you! Why, it beats
Ellsler! Upon my conscience it does! It's her fourteenth quadrille
too. There she goes! She's a jewel of a girl, though I say it that
Mrs. J. (laughing).—Why don't you marry her, Botter? Shall I
speak to her? I dare say she'd have you. You're not so VERY old.
Mr. B.—Don't aggravate me, Mrs. J. You know when I lost my heart
in the year 1817, at the opening of Waterloo Bridge, to a young lady
who wouldn't have me, and left me to die in despair, and married Joy,
of the Stock Exchange.
Mrs. J. Get away, you foolish old creature.
[MR. JOY looks on in ecstasies at Miss Joy's agility. LADY JANE
RANVILLE, of Baker Street, pronounces her to be an exceedingly
forward person. CAPTAIN DOBBS likes a girl who has plenty of go in
her; and as for FRED SPARKS, he is over head and ears in love with
MR. RANVILLE RANVILLE AND JACK
This is Miss Ranville Ranville's brother, Mr. Ranville Ranville, of
the Foreign Office, faithfully designed as he was playing at whist in
the card-room. Talleyrand used to play at whist at the "Travellers',"
that is why Ranville Ranville indulges in that diplomatic recreation.
It is not his fault if he be not the greatest man in the room.
If you speak to him, he smiles sternly, and answers in
monosyllables he would rather die than commit himself. He never has
committed himself in his life. He was the first at school, and
distinguished at Oxford. He is growing prematurely bald now, like
Canning, and is quite proud of it. He rides in St. James's Park of a
morning before breakfast. He dockets his tailor's bills, and nicks
off his dinner-notes in diplomatic paragraphs, and keeps precis of
them all. If he ever makes a joke, it is a quotation from Horace, like
Sir Robert Peel. The only relaxation he permits himself, is to read
Thucydides in the holidays.
Everybody asks him out to dinner, on account of his brass-buttons
with the Queen's cipher, and to have the air of being well with the
Foreign Office. "Where I dine," he says solemnly, "I think it is my
duty to go to evening-parties." That is why he is here. He never
dances, never sups, never drinks. He has gruel when he goes home to
bed. I think it is in his brains.
He is such an ass and so respectable, that one wonders he has not
succeeded in the world; and yet somehow they laugh at him; and you
and I shall be Ministers as soon as he will.
Yonder, making believe to look over the print-books, is that merry
rogue, Jack Hubbard.
See how jovial he looks! He is the life and soul of every party,
and his impromptu singing after supper will make you die of laughing.
He is meditating an impromptu now, and at the same time thinking
about a bill that is coming due next Thursday. Happy dog!
MRS. TROTTER, MISS TROTTER, MISS
TOADY, LORD METHUSELAH.
Dear Emma Trotter has been silent and rather ill-humored all the
evening until now her pretty face lights up with smiles. Cannot you
guess why? Pity the simple and affectionate creature! Lord
Methuselah has not arrived until this moment: and see how the artless
girl steps forward to greet him!
In the midst of all the selfishness and turmoil of the world, how
charming it is to find virgin hearts quite unsullied, and to look on
at little romantic pictures of mutual love! Lord Methuselah, though
you know his age by the peerage—though he is old, wigged, gouty,
rouged, wicked, has lighted up a pure flame in that gentle bosom.
There was a talk about Tom Willoughby last year; and then, for a
time, young Hawbuck (Sir John Hawbuck's youngest son) seemed the
favored man; but Emma never knew her mind until she met the dear
creature before you in a Rhine steamboat. "Why are you so late,
Edward?" says she. Dear artless child!
Her mother looks on with tender satisfaction. One can appreciate
the joys of such an admirable parent!
"Look at them!" says Miss Toady. "I vow and protest they're the
handsomest couple in the room!"
Methuselah's grandchildren are rather jealous and angry, and
Mademoiselle Ariane, of the French theatre, is furious. But there's
no accounting for the mercenary envy of some people; and it is
impossible to satisfy everybody.
MR. BEAUMORIS, MR. GRIG, MR.
Those three young men are described in a twinkling: Captain Grig of
the Heavies; Mr. Beaumoris, the handsome young man; Tom Flinders
(Flynders Flynders he now calls himself), the fat gentleman who
dresses after Beaumoris.
Beaumoris is in the Treasury: he has a salary of eighty pounds a
year, on which he maintains the best cab and horses of the season;
and out of which he pays seventy guineas merely for his subscriptions
to clubs. He hunts in Leicestershire, where great men mount him; he
is a prodigious favorite behind the scenes at the theatres; you may
get glimpses of him at Richmond, with all sorts of pink bonnets; and
he is the sworn friend of half the most famous roues about town, such
as Old Methuselah, Lord Billygoat, Lord Tarquin, and the rest: a
respectable race. It is to oblige the former that the good-natured
young fellow is here to-night; though it must not be imagined that he
gives himself any airs of superiority. Dandy as he is, he is quite
affable, and would borrow ten guineas from any man in the room, in the
most jovial way possible.
It is neither Beau's birth, which is doubtful; nor his money, which
is entirely negative; nor his honesty, which goes along with his
money-qualification; nor his wit, for he can barely spell,—which
recommend him to the fashionable world: but a sort of Grand Seigneur
splendor and dandified je ne scais quoi, which make the man he is of
him. The way in which his boots and gloves fit him is a wonder which
no other man can achieve; and though he has not an atom of principle,
it must be confessed that he invented the Taglioni shirt.
When I see these magnificent dandies yawning out of "White's," or
caracoling in the Park on shining chargers, I like to think that
Brummell was the greatest of them all, and that Brummell's father was
Flynders is Beaumoris's toady: lends him money: buys horses through
his recommendation; dresses after him; clings to him in Pall Mall,
and on the steps of the club; and talks about 'Bo' in all societies.
It is his drag which carries down Bo's friends to the Derby, and his
cheques pay for dinners to the pink bonnets. I don't believe the
Perkinses know what a rogue it is, but fancy him a decent, reputable
City man, like his father before him.
As for Captain Grig, what is there to tell about him? He performs
the duties of his calling with perfect gravity. He is faultless on
parade; excellent across country; amiable when drunk, rather slow
when sober. He has not two ideas, and is a most good-natured,
irreproachable, gallant, and stupid young officer.
This is my friend Bob Hely, performing the Cavalier seul in a
quadrille. Remark the good-humored pleasure depicted in his
countenance. Has he any secret grief? Has he a pain anywhere? No,
dear Miss Jones, he is dancing like a true Briton, and with all the
charming gayety and abandon of our race.
When Canaillard performs that Cavalier seul operation, does HE
flinch? No: he puts on his most vainqueur look, he sticks his thumbs
into the armholes of his waistcoat, and advances, retreats,
pirouettes, and otherwise gambadoes, as though to say, "Regarde moi,
O monde! Venez, O femmes, venez voir danser Canaillard!"
When De Bobwitz executes the same measure, he does it with smiling
agility, and graceful ease.
But poor Hely, if he were advancing to a dentist, his face would
not be more cheerful. All the eyes of the room are upon him, he
thinks; and he thinks he looks like a fool.
Upon my word, if you press the point with me, dear Miss Jones, I
think he is not very far from right. I think that while Frenchmen
and Germans may dance, as it is their nature to do, there is a
natural dignity about us Britons, which debars us from that
enjoyment. I am rather of the Turkish opinion, that this should be
done for us. I think . . .
"Good-by, you envious old fox-and-the-grapes," says Miss Jones, and
the next moment I see her whirling by in a polka with Tom Tozer, at a
pace which makes me shrink back with terror into the little boudoir.
M. CANAILLARD, CHEVALIER OF THE
LEGION OF HONOR.
LIEUTENANT BARON DE BOBWITZ.
Canaillard. Oh, ces Anglais! quels hommes, mon Dieu! Comme ils
sont habilles, comme ils dansent!
Bobwitz.—Ce sont de beaux hommes bourtant; point de tenue
militaire, mais de grands gaillards; si je les avais dans ma
compagnie de la Garde, j'en ferai de bons soldats.
Canaillard.—Est-il bete, cet Allemand! Les grands hommes ne font
pas toujours de bons soldats, Monsieur. Il me semble que les soldats
de France qui sont de ma taille, Monsieur, valent un peu mieux . . .
Canaillard.—Comment! je le crois, Monsieur? J'en suis sur! Il me
semble, Monsieur, que nous l'avons prouve.
Bobwitz (impatiently).—Je m'en vais danser la Bolka. Serviteur,
Canaillard.—Butor! (He goes and looks at himself in the glass,
when he is seized by Mrs. Perkins for the Polka.)
MR. SMITH, MR. BROWN, MISS BUSTLETON.
Mr. Brown.—You polk, Miss Bustleton? I'm SO delaighted.
Miss Bustleton.—[Smiles and prepares to rise.]
Mr. Smith.—D—- puppy.
(Poor Smith don't polk.)
Though a quadrille seems to me as dreary as a funeral, yet to look
at a polka, I own, is pleasant. See! Brown and Emily Bustleton are
whirling round as light as two pigeons over a dovecot; Tozer, with
that wicked whisking little Jones, spins along as merrily as a May-day
sweep; Miss Joy is the partner of the happy Fred Sparks; and even Miss
Ranville is pleased, for the faultless Captain Grig is toe and heel
with her. Beaumoris, with rather a nonchalant air, takes a turn with
Miss Trotter, at which Lord Methuseleh's wrinkled chops quiver
uneasily. See! how the big Baron de Bobwitz spins lightly, and
gravely, and gracefully round; and lo! the Frenchman staggering under
the weight of Miss Bunion, who tramps and kicks like a young
But the most awful sight which met my view in this dance was the
unfortunate Miss Little, to whom fate had assigned THE MULLIGAN as a
partner. Like a pavid kid in the talons of an eagle, that young
creature trembled in his huge Milesian grasp. Disdaining the
recognized form of the dance, the Irish chieftain accommodated the
music to the dance of his own green land, and performed a double
shuffle jig, carrying Miss Little along with him. Miss Ranville and
her Captain shrank back amazed; Miss Trotter skirried out of his way
into the protection of the astonished Lord Methuselah; Fred Sparks
could hardly move for laughing; while, on the contrary, Miss Joy was
quite in pain for poor Sophy Little. As Canaillard and the Poetess
came up, The Mulligan, in the height of his enthusiasm, lunged out a
kick which sent Miss Bunion howling; and concluded with a tremendous
Hurroo!—a war-cry which caused every Saxon heart to shudder and
"Oh that the earth would open and kindly take me in!" I exclaimed
mentally; and slunk off into the lower regions, where by this time
half the company were at supper.
The supper is going on behind the screen. There is no need to draw
the supper. We all know that sort of transaction: the squabbling,
and gobbling, and popping of champagne; the smell of musk and
lobster-salad; the dowagers chumping away at plates of raised pie;
the young lassies nibbling at little titbits, which the dexterous
young gentlemen procure. Three large men, like doctors of divinity,
wait behind the table, and furnish everything that appetite can ask
for. I never, for my part, can eat any supper for wondering at those
men. I believe if you were to ask them for mashed turnips, or a slice
of crocodile, those astonishing people would serve you. What a
contempt they must have for the guttling crowd to whom they
minister—those solemn pastry-cook's men! How they must hate jellies,
and game-pies, and champagne, in their hearts! How they must scorn my
poor friend Grundsell behind the screen, who is sucking at a bottle!
This disguised green-grocer is a very well-known character in the
neighborhood of Pocklington Square. He waits at the parties of the
gentry in the neighborhood, and though, of course, despised in
families where a footman is kept, is a person of much importance in
Miss Jonas always employs him at her parties, and says to her page,
"Vincent, send the butler, or send Desborough to me;" by which name
she chooses to designate G. G.
When the Miss Frumps have post-horses to their carriage, and pay
visits, Grundsell always goes behind. Those ladies have the greatest
confidence in him, have been godmothers to fourteen of his children,
and leave their house in his charge when they go to Bognor for the
summer. He attended those ladies when they were presented at the last
drawing-room of her Majesty Queen Charlotte.
GREEN-GROCER AND SALESMAN,
9, LITTLE POCKLINGTON BUILDINGS,
LATE CONFIDENTIAL SERVANT IN THE FAMILY OF
THE LORD MAYOR OF LONDON.
Carpets Beat.—Knives and Boots cleaned per contract.—Errands
faithfully performed—G. G. attends Ball and Dinner parties,
and from his knowledge of the most distinguished Families in
London, confidently recommends his services to the
distinguished neighbourhood of Pocklington Square.
Mr. Grundsell's state costume is a blue coat and copper buttons, a
white waistcoat, and an immense frill and shirt-collar. He was for
many years a private watchman, and once canvassed for the office of
parish clerk of St. Peter's Pocklington. He can be intrusted with
untold spoons; with anything, in fact, but liquor; and it was he who
brought round the cards for MRS. PERKINS'S BALL.
I do not intend to say any more about it. After the people had
supped, they went back and danced. Some supped again. I gave Miss
Bunion, with my own hands, four bumpers of champagne: and such a
quantity of goose-liver and truffles, that I don't wonder she took a
glass of cherry-brandy afterwards. The gray morning was in
Pocklington Square as she drove away in her fly. So did the other
people go away. How green and sallow some of the girls looked, and
how awfully clear Mrs. Colonel Bludyer's rouge was! Lady Jane
Ranville's great coach had roared away down the streets long before.
Fred Minchin pattered off in his clogs: it was I who covered up Miss
Meggot, and conducted her, with her two old sisters, to the carriage.
Good old souls! They have shown their gratitude by asking me to tea
next Tuesday. Methuselah is gone to finish the night at the club.
"Mind to-morrow," Miss Trotter says, kissing her hand out of the
carriage. Canaillard departs, asking the way to "Lesterre Squar."
They all go away—life goes away.
Look at Miss Martin and young Ward! How tenderly the rogue is
wrapping her up! how kindly she looks at him! The old folks are
whispering behind as they wait for their carriage. What is their
talk, think you? and when shall that pair make a match? When you see
those pretty little creatures with their smiles and their blushes, and
their pretty ways, would you like to be the Grand Bashaw?
"Mind and send me a large piece of cake," I go up and whisper
archly to old Mr. Ward: and we look on rather sentimentally at the
couple, almost the last in the rooms (there, I declare, go the
musicians, and the clock is at five)—when Grundsell, with an air
effare, rushes up to me and says, "For e'v'n sake, sir, go into the
supper-room: there's that Hirish gent a-pitchin' into Mr. P."
THE MULLIGAN AND MR. PERKINS.
It was too true. I had taken him away after supper (he ran after
Miss Little's carriage, who was dying in love with him as he
fancied), but the brute had come back again. The doctors of divinity
were putting up their condiments: everybody was gone; but the
abominable Mulligan sat swinging his legs at the lonely supper- table!
Perkins was opposite, gasping at him.
The Mulligan.—I tell ye, ye are the butler, ye big fat man. Go
get me some more champagne: it's good at this house.
Mr. Perkins (with dignity).—It IS good at this house; but—
The Mulligan.—Bht hwhat, ye goggling, bow-windowed jackass? Go
get the wine, and we'll dthrink it together, my old buck.
Mr. Perkins.—My name, sir, is PERKINS.
The Mulligan.—Well, that rhymes with jerkins, my man of firkins;
so don't let us have any more shirkings and lurkings, Mr. Perkins.
Mr. Perkins (with apoplectic energy).—Sir, I am the master of this
house; and I order you to quit it. I'll not be insulted, sir. I'll
send for a policeman, sir. What do you mean, Mr. Titmarsh, sir, by
bringing this—this beast into my house, sir?
At this, with a scream like that of a Hyrcanian tiger, Mulligan of
the hundred battles sprang forward at his prey; but we were
beforehand with him. Mr. Gregory, Mr. Grundsell, Sir Giles Bacon's
large man, the young gentlemen, and myself, rushed simultaneously
upon the tipsy chieftain, and confined him. The doctors of divinity
looked on with perfect indifference. That Mr. Perkins did not go off
in a fit is a wonder. He was led away heaving and snorting
Somebody smashed Mulligan's hat over his eyes, and I led him forth
into the silent morning. The chirrup of the birds, the freshness of
the rosy air, and a penn'orth of coffee that I got for him at a stall
in the Regent Circus, revived him somewhat. When I quitted him, he
was not angry but sad. He was desirous, it is true, of avenging the
wrongs of Erin in battle line; he wished also to share the grave of
Sarsfield and Hugh O'Neill; but he was sure that Miss Perkins, as well
as Miss Little, was desperately in love with him; and I left him on a
doorstep in tears.
"Is it best to be laughing-mad, or crying-mad, in the world?" says
I moodily, coming into my street. Betsy the maid was already up and
at work, on her knees, scouring the steps, and cheerfully beginning
her honest daily labor.