Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXIX.

Part 4 out of 5

opposite the old school in the village, merely to spite the poor usher,
against whom he had taken a dislike--though there was no more need to
build a school there than to ship a cargo of coals for Newcastle. Again,
having ascertained that one of his servants had been seen shaking hands
with some of Jack's family with whom he had quarrelled as above
mentioned, he refused to give him a character, though the poor fellow
was only thinking of taking service somewhere in the plantations.

Notwithstanding all Jack's efforts, however, it sometimes happened that
when an usher was appointed he could not get up a sufficient cabal
against him, and that even the schoolboys, knowing something of the man
before, had no objection to him. In such cases Jack resorted to various
schemes in order to cast the candidate upon his examinations. Sometimes
he would shut him up in a small closet, telling him he must answer a
hundred and fifty questions, in plane and spherical trigonometry, within
as many minutes, and that he would be allowed the assistance of
Johnson's Dictionary, and the _Gradus ad Parnassum_, for the purpose. At
other tines he would ask the candidate, with a bland smile, what was his
opinion of things in general, and of the dispute between him (Jack) and
the Squire in particular; and if that question was not answered to his
satisfaction, he remitted him to his studies. When no objection could be
made to the man's parts, Jack would say that he had scruples of
conscience, because he doubted whether his commission had been fairly
come by, or whether he had not bribed the Squire by a five-pound note to
obtain it. At last he did not even take the trouble of going through
this farce, but would at once, if he disliked the look of the man's
face, tell him he was busy at the moment;--that he might lay the
Squire's letter on the table, and call again that day six months for an
answer. He no longer pretended, in fact, to any fairness or justice in
his dealings; for though those who sided with him might be guilty of all
the offences in the calendar, Jack continued to wink so hard, and shut
his ears so close, as not to see or hear of them; while as to the
unhappy wights who differed from him, he had the eyes of Argus and the
ear of Dionysius, and the tender mercies of a Spanish inquisitor,
discovering _scandalum magnatum_ and high treason in ballads which they
had written twenty years before, and in which Jack, though he received a
presentation copy at the time, had never pretended, up to that moment,
to detect the least harm.

The last of these freaks which I shall here mention took place on this
wise. Jack had never been accustomed to invite any one to his assemblies
but the ushers who had been appointed by the Squire, and it was always
understood that they alone had a vote in all vestry matters. But when
John quarrelled with his family, as above mentioned, and a large part of
the oldest and most respectable of his relatives drew off from him, it
occurred to Jack that he could bring in a set of new auxiliaries, upon
whose vote he could count in all his family squabbles, or his deputes,
with Squire Bull; and the following was the device he fell upon for that

Here and there upon North Farm, where the village schools were crowded,
little temporary schoolhouses had been run up, where one or two of the
monitors were accustomed to teach such of the children as could not be
accommodated in the larger school. But these assistants had always been
a little looked down upon, and had never been allowed a seat at Jack's
board. Now, however, he began to change his tone towards them, and to
court and flatter them on all occasions. One fine morning he suddenly
made his appearance on the village green, followed by some of his
hangers on, bearing a theodolite, chains, measuring rods, sextants,
compasses, and other instruments of land-surveying. Jack set up his
theodolite, took his observations, began noting measurements, and laying
down the bases of triangles in all directions, then, having summed up
his calculations with much gravity, gave directions to those about him
to line off with stakes and ropes the space which he pointed out to
them, and which in fact enclosed nearly half the village. In the course
of these operations, the usher, who had witnessed these mathematical
proceedings of Jack from the window, but could not comprehend what the
man would be at, sallied forth, and accosting Jack, asked him what he
meant by these strange lines of circumvallation. "Why," answered Jack,
"I have been thinking for some time past of relieving you of part of
your heavy duties, and dividing the parish-school between you and your
assistant; so in future you will confine yourself to the space outside
the ropes, and leave all within the inclosure to him." It was in vain
that the usher protested he was quite equal to the duty; that the boys
liked him, and disliked his assistant; that if the village was thus
divided, the assistant would be put upon a level with him, and have a
vote in the vestry, to which he had no more right than to a seat in the
House of Commons. Jack was not to be moved from his purpose, but gave
orders to have a similar apportionment made in most of the neighbouring
villages, and then inviting the assistants to a party at his house, he
had them sworn in as vestrymen, telling them, that in future they had
the same right to a seat at his board as the best of John's ushers had.
Here again, however, he found he had run his head against a wall, and
that he was not the mighty personage he took himself for; for, on a
complaint to the justices of the peace, a dozen special constables were
sent down, who tore up the posts, removed the ropes, and demolished all
Jack's inclosures in a trice.

These frequent defeats rendered Jack nearly frantic. He now began to
quarrel even with his best friends, not a few of whom, though they had
gone with him a certain length, now left his house, and told him plainly
they would never set foot in it again. He burst forth into loud
invectives against Martin, who had always been a good friend to his
penny subscriptions, and more than once had come to his assistance when
Jack was hard pressed by Hugh, a dissenting schoolmaster, between whom
and Jack there had long been a bloody feud. Jack now denounced Martin in
set terms; accused him of being in the pay of Peter, with whom he said
he had been holding secret conferences of late at the Cross-Keys; and of
setting the Squire's mind against him (Jack)--whereas poor Martin, till
provoked by Jack's abuse to defend himself, had never said an unkind
word against him. Finding, however, that, with all his efforts, he did
not make much way with the men, Jack directed his battery chiefly
against the women, who were easily caught by his sanctimonious air, and
knowing nothing earthly of the subject, took for gospel all that Jack
chose to tell them. He held love-feasts in his house up to a late hour,
at which he generally harangued on the subject of the persecutions which
he endured. He vowed the justices were all in a conspiracy against him;
that they were constantly intruding into his grounds, notwithstanding
his warnings that spring-guns were set in the premises; that on one
occasion a tall fellow of a sheriff's officer had made his way into his
house and served him with a writ of _fieri facias_ even in the midst of
one of his assemblies, a disgrace he never could get over; that he could
not walk ten yards in any direction, or saunter for an instant at the
corner of a street, without being ordered by a policeman to move on; in
short, that he lived in perpetual terror and anxiety--and all this
because he had done his best to save them and their children from the
awful scourge of deboshed and despotical ushers. At the conclusion of
these meetings he invariably handed round his hat, into which the silly
women dropped a good many shillings, which Jack assured them would be
applied for the public benefit, meaning thereby his own private

Jack, however, with all his craze, was too knowing not to see that the
women, beyond advancing him a few shillings at a time, would do little
for his cause so far as any terms with Squire Bull was concerned; so,
with the view of making a last attack upon the Squire, and driving him
into terms, he began to look about for assistance among those with whom
he had previously been at loggerheads. It cost him some qualms before he
could so far abase his stomach as to do so; but at last he ventured to
address a long and pitiful letter to Hugh, in which he set forth all his
disputes with John, and dwelt much on his scruples of conscience; begged
him to forget old quarrels, and put down his name to a Round Robin,
which he was about to address to the Squire in his own behalf. To this
epistle Hugh answered as follows:--"Dearly beloved,--my bowels are
grieved for your condition, but I see only one cure for your scruples of
conscience. Strip off the Squire's livery, and give up your place, as I
did, and your peace of mind will be restored to you. In the mean time, I
do not see very well why I should help you to pocket the Squire's wages,
and do nothing for it. Yours, in the spirit of meekness and
forgiveness--HUGH." After this rebuff, Jack, you may easily believe, saw
there was little hope of assistance from that quarter.

As a last resource, he called a general meeting of his friends, at which
it was resolved to present the proposed Round Robin to John, signed by
as many names as they could muster; in which Jack, who seemed to be of
opinion that the more they asked the greater was their chance of getting
something at least, set forth the articles he wanted, and without which,
he told John, he could no longer remain in his house; but that he and
his relatives and friends would forthwith, if this petition was
rejected, walk out, to the infinite scandal of the neighbourhood,
leaving the Squire without a teacher or a writing-master within fifty
miles to supply their place. They demanded that the Squire should give
up the nomination of the ushers entirely, though in whose favour they
did not explain; and that Jack was in future to be a law unto himself,
and to be supreme in all matters of education, with power to himself to
define in what such matters consisted. On these requests being conceded,
they stated that they would continue to give their countenance to the
Squire as in times past; otherwise the whole party must quit possession
incontinently. Jack prevailed on a good many to sign this
document--though some did not like the idea of walking out, demurred,
and added after the word _incontinently_, "i.e. when convenient,"--and
thus signed, they put the Round Robin under a twopenny cover, and
dispatched it to "John Bull, Esquire"--with haste.

If they really thought the Squire was to be bullied into these terms by
this last sally, they found themselves consumedly mistaken; for after a
time down came a long and perfectly civil letter from the Squire's
secretary, telling them their demands were totally out of the question,
and that the Squire would see them at the antipodes sooner than comply
with them.

Did Jack then, you will ask, walk out as he had threatened, when he got
the Squire's answer? Not he. He now gave notice that he intended to
apply for an Act of Parliament on the subject: and that, in the
meantime, the matter might stand over. Meantime, and in case matters
should come to the worst, he is busily engaged begging all over the
country, for cash to erect a new wooden tenement for him, in the event
of his having to leave his old one of stone and lime. Some say even that
he has been seen laying down several pounds of gunpowder in the cellar
of his present house, and has been heard to boast of his intention to
blow up his successor when he takes possession; but for my own part, and
seeing how he has shuffled hitherto, I believe that he is no nearer
removing than he was a year ago. Indeed he has said confidentially to
several people, that even if his new house were all ready for him, he
could not, with his asthmatic tendency, think of entering it for a
twelvemonth or so, till the lath and plaster should be properly
seasoned. Of all this, however, we shall hear more anon.

* * * * *



When any one thinks of French literature, there immediately rises before
him a horrid phantasmagoria of repulsive objects--murders, incests,
parricides, and every imaginable shape of crime that horror e'er
conceived or fancy feigned. He sees the whole efforts of a press,
brimful of power and talent, directed against every thing that has
hitherto been thought necessary to the safety of society, or the
happiness of domestic life--marriage deliberately written down, and
proved to be the cause of all the miseries of the social state: and
strange to say, in the crusade against matrimony, the sharpest swords
and strongest lances are wielded by women. Those women are received into
society--men's wives and daughters associate with them--and their books
are noticed in the public journals without any allusions to the
Association for the prevention of vice, but rather with the praises
which, in other times and countries, would have been bestowed on works
of genius and virtue. The taste of the English public has certainly
deteriorated within the last few years; and popularity, the surest index
of the public's likings, though not of the writer's deservings, has
attended works of which the great staple has been crime and
blackguardism. A certain rude power, a sort of unhealthy energy, has
enabled the writer to throw an interest round pickpockets and murderers;
and if this interest were legitimately produced, by the exhibition of
human passions modified by the circumstances of the actor--if it arose
from the development of one real, living, thinking, doing, and suffering
man's heart, we could only wonder at the author's choice of such a
subject, but we should be ready to acknowledge that he had widened our
sphere of knowledge--and made us feel, as we all do, without taking the
same credit for it to ourselves that the old blockhead in France does,
that being human, we have sympathies with all, even the lowest and
wickedest of our kind. But the interest those works excite arises from
no such legitimate source--not from the development of our common
nature, but from the creation of a new one--from startling contrasts,
not of two characters but of one--tenderness, generosity in one page;
fierceness and murder in the next. But though our English _tastes_ are
so far deteriorated as to tolerate, or even to admire, the records of
cruelty and sin now proceeding every day from the press--our English
_morals_ would recoil with horror from the deliberate wickedness which
forms the great attraction of the French modern school of romance. The
very subjects chosen for their novels, by the most popular of their
female writers, shows a state of feeling in the authors more dreadful to
contemplate than the mere coarse raw-head-and-bloody-bones descriptions
of our chroniclers of Newgate. A married woman, the heroine--high in
rank, splendid in intellect, radiant in beauty--has for the hero a
villain escaped from the hulks. There is no record of his crimes--we are
not called upon to follow him in his depredations, or see him cut
throats in the scientific fashion of some of our indigenous rascals. He
is the philosopher,--the instructor--the guide. The object of _his_
introduction is to show the iniquity of human laws--the object of _her_
introduction is to show the absurdity of the institution of marriage.
This would never be tolerated in England. Again, a married woman is
presented to us--for the sympathy which with us attends a young couple
to the church-door, only begins in France after they have left it: as a
child she has been betrothed to a person of her own rank--at five or six
incurable idiocy takes possession of her proposed husband--but when she
is eighteen the marriage takes place--the husband is a mere child still;
for his intellect has continued stationary though his body has reached
maturity--a more revolting picture was never presented than that of the
condition of the idiot's wife--her horror of her husband--and of course
her passion for another. The most interesting scenes between the lovers
are constantly interrupted by the hideous representative of matrimony,
the grinning husband, who rears his slavering countenance from behind
the sofa, and impresses his unfortunate wife with a sacred awe for the
holy obligations of marriage.

Again, a dandy of fifty is presented to us, whose affection for his ward
has waited, of course, till she is wedded to another, to ripen into
love. He still continues her protector against the advances of others;
for jealousy is a good point of character in every one but the husband,
and there it is only ridiculous. The husband in this case is another
admirable specimen of the results of wedlock for life--he is a
chattering, shallow pretender--a political economist, prodigiously dull
and infinitely conceited--an exaggerated type of the Hume-Bowring
statesman--and, as is naturally to be expected, our sympathies are
awakened for the wretched wife, and we rejoice to see that her beauty
and talents, her fine mind and pure ideas, are appreciated by a dashing
young fellow, who outwits our original friend the dandy of fifty and the
philosophical depute; the whole leaving a pleasing impression on the
reader's mind from the conviction that the heroine is no longer

From the similarity of these stories--and they are only taken at random
from a great number--it will be seen that the spirit of almost all of
them is the same. But when we go lower in the scale, and leave the class
of philosophic novels, we find their tales of life and manners still
more absurd in their total untrueness than the others were hateful in
their design. There is a novel just now appearing in one of the most
widely-circulated of the Parisian papers, so grotesquely overdone, that
if it had been meant for a caricature of the worst parts of our own
hulk-and-gallows authors, it would have been very much admired; but
meant to be serious, powerful, harrowing, and all the rest of it, it is
a most curious exhibition of a nation's taste and a writer's audacity.
The _Mysteries of Paris_, by Eugene Sue, has been dragging its slow
length along for a long time, and gives no sign of getting nearer its
denouement than when it began. A sovereign prince is the hero--his own
daughter, whom he has disowned, the heroine; and the tale commences by
his fighting a man on the street, and taking a fancy to his unknown
child, who is the inhabitant of one of the lowest dens in the St Giles'
of Paris! The other _dramatis personae_ are convicts, receivers of stolen
goods, murderers, intriguers of all ranks--the aforesaid prince,
sometimes in the disguise of a workman, sometimes of a pickpocket,
acting the part of a providence among them, rewarding the good and
punishing the guilty. The English personages are the Countess Sarah
McGregor--the lawful wife of the prince--her brother Tom, and Sir Walter
Murph, Esquire. These are all jostled, and crowded, and pushed, and
flurried--first in flash kens, where the language is slang; then in
country farms, and then in halls and palaces--and so intermixed and
confused, that the clearest head gets puzzled with the entanglements of
the story; and confusion gets worse confounded as the farrago proceeds.
How M. Sue will manage ever to come to a close is an enigma to us; and
we shall wait with some impatience to see how he will distribute his
poetic justice, when he can't get his puppets to move another step.
Horror seems the great ingredient in the present literary fare of
France, and in the _Mysteres de Paris_ the most confirmed glutton of
such delicacies may sup full of them. In the midst of such depraved and
revolting exhibitions, it is a sort of satisfaction, though not of the
loftiest kind, to turn to the coarse fun and ludicrous descriptions of
Paul de Kock. And, after all, our friend Paul has not many more sins
than coarseness and buffoonery to answer for. As to his attempting, of
set purpose, to corrupt people's morals, it never entered into his head.
He does not know what morals are; they never form any part of his idea
of manners or character. If a good man comes in his way, he looks at him
with a strange kind of unacquaintance that almost rises into respect;
but he is certainly more affectionate, and on far better terms, with men
about town--amative hairdressers, flirting grisettes, and the whole
genus, male and female, of the epiciers. It would no doubt be an
improvement if the facetious Paul could believe in the existence of an
honest woman; but such women as come in his way he describes to the
life. A ball in a dancing-master's private room up six pairs of stairs,
a pic-nic to one of the suburbs, a dinner at a restaurateur's, or a
family consultation on a proposal of marriage, are far more in Paul's
way than tales of open horror or silk-and-satin depravity. One is only
sorry, in the midst of so much gaiety and good-humour, to stumble on
some scene or sentiment that gives on the inclination to throw the book
in the fire, or start, like Caesar, on the top of the diligence to pull
the author's ears. But the next page sets all right again; and you go on
laughing at the disasters of my neighbour Raymond, or admiring the
graces or Chesterfieldian politeness of M. Bellequeue. French nature
seems essentially different from all the other natures hitherto known;
and yet, though so new, there never rises any doubt that it is _a_
nature, a reality, as Thomas Carlyle says, and not a sham. The
personages presented to us by Paul de Kock can scarcely, in the strict
sense of the word, be called human beings; but they are French beings of
real flesh and blood, speaking and thinking French in the most decided
possible manner, and at intervals possessed of feelings which make us
inclined to include them in the great genus _homo_, though with so many
inseparable accidents, that it is impossible for a moment to shut one's
eyes to the species to which they belong. But such as they are in their
shops, and back-parlours, and ball-rooms, and _fetes champetres_, there
they are in Paul de Kock--nothing extenuated, little set down in
malice--vain, empty, frivolous, good-tempered, gallant, lively, and
absurd. Let us go to the wood of Romainville to celebrate the
anniversary of the marriage of M. and Madame Moutonnet on the day of St

"At a little distance from the ball, towards the middle of the wood, a
numerous party is seated on the grass, or rather on the sand; napkins
are spread on the ground, and covered with plates and cold meat and
fruits. The bottles are placed in the cool shade, the glasses are filled
and emptied rapidly; good appetites and open air make every thing appear
excellent. They make plates out of paper, and toss pieces of pate and
sausage to each other. They eat, they drink, they sing, they laugh and
play tricks. It seems a struggle who shall be funniest. It is well known
that all things are allowable in the country; and the cits now assembled
in the wood of Romainville seem fully persuaded of the fact. A jolly old
governor of about fifty tries to carve a turkey, and can't succeed. A
little woman, very red, very fat, and very round, hastens to seize a
limb of the bird; she pulls at one side, the jolly old governor at the
other--the leg separates at last, and the lady goes sprawling on the
grass, while the gentleman topples over in the opposite direction with
the remainder of the animal in his hand. The shouts of laughter
redouble, and M. Moutonnet--such is the name of the jolly old
governor--resumes his place, declaring that he will never try to carve
any thing again. 'I knew you would never be able to manage it,' said a
large woman bluntly, in a tone that agreed exactly with her starched and
crabbed features. She was sitting opposite the stout gentleman, and had
seen with indignation the alacrity with which the little lady had flown
to M. Moutonnet's assistance.

"'In the twenty years we have been married,' she continued, 'have you
ever carved any thing at home, sir?'

"'No, my dear, that's very true;' replied the stout gentleman in a
submissive voice, and trying to smile his better half into good-humour.

"'You don't know how to help a dish of spinach, and yet you attempt a
dish like that!'

"'My dear--in the country, you know----'

"'In the country, sir, as in the town, people shouldn't try things they
can't perform.'

"'You know, Madame Moutonnet, that generally I never attempt any
thing--but to day'----

"'To day you should have done as you do on other days,' retorted the

"'Ah, but, my love, you forget that this is Saint Eustache----'

"'Yes, yes, this is Saint Eustache!' is repeated in chorus by the whole
company, and the glasses are filled and jingled as before.

"'To the health of Eustache; Eustache for ever!'

"'To yours, ladies and gentlemen,' replied M. Moutonnet graciously
smiling--'and yours, my angel.'

"It is to his wife M. Moutonnet addresses himself. She tried to assume
an amiable look, and condescends to approach her glass to that of M.
Eustache Moutonnet. M. Eustache Moutonnet is a rich laceman of the Rue
St Martin; a man highly respected in trade; no bill of his was ever
protested, nor any engagement failed in. For the thirty years he has
kept shop he has been steadily at work from eight in the morning till
eight at night. His department is to take care of the day-book and
ledger; Madame Moutonnet manages the correspondence and makes the
bargains. The business of the shop and the accounts are confided to an
old clerk and Mademoiselle Eugenie Moutonnet, with whom we shall
presently become better acquainted.

"M. Moutonnet, as you may perhaps already have perceived, is not
commander-in-chief at hone. His wife directs, rules, and governs all
things. When she is in good-humour--a somewhat extraordinary
occurrence--she allows her husband to go and take his little cup of
coffee, provided he goes for that purpose to the coffee-house at the
corner of the Rue Mauconseil--for it is famous for its liberal allowance
of sugar, and M. Moutonnet always brings home three lumps of it to his
wife. On Sundays they dine a little earlier, to have time for a
promenade to the Tuileries or the Jardin Turk. Excursions into the
country are very rare, and only on extraordinary occasions, such as the
fete-day of M. and Madame Moutonnet. That regular life does not hinder
the stout lace-merchant from being the happiest of men--so true is it
that what is one man's poison is another man's meat. M. Moutonnet was
born with simple tastes--she required to be led and managed like a
child. Don't shrug your shoulders at this avowal, ye spirited gentlemen,
so proud of your rights, so puffed up with your merits. You! who think
yourselves always masters of your actions, you yield to your passions
every day! they lead you, and sometimes lead you very ill. Well, M.
Moutonnet has no fear of that--he has no passions--he knows nothing but
his trade, and obedience to his spouse. He finds that a man can be very
happy, though he does not know how to carve a turkey, and lets himself
be governed by his wife. Madame Moutonnet is long past forty, but it is
a settled affair that she is never to be more than thirty-six. She never
was handsome, but she is large and tall, and her husband is persuaded
she is superb. She is not a coquette, but she thinks herself superior to
every body else in talents and beauty. She never cared a rush about her
husband, but if he was untrue to her she would tear his eyes out. Madame
Moutonnet, you perceive, is excessively jealous of her rights. A
daughter is the sole issue of the marriage of M. Eustache Moutonnet and
Mademoiselle Barbe Desormeaux. She is now eighteen years old, and at
eighteen the young ladies in Paris are generally pretty far advanced.
But Eugenie has been educated severely--and although possessed of a good
deal of spirit, is timid, docile, submissive, and never ventures on a
single observation in presence of her parents. She has cleverness,
grace, and sensibility, but she is ignorant of the advantages she has
received from nature--her sentiments are as yet concentrated at the
bottom of her heart. She is not coquettish--or rather she scarcely
ventures to give way to the inclination so natural to women, which leads
them to please and to be pretty. But Eugenie has no need of those little
arts, so indispensable to others, or to have recourse to her mirror
every hour. She is well made, and she is beautiful; her eyes are soft
and expressive, her voice is tender and agreeable, her brow is shadowed
by dark locks of hair, her mouth furnished with fine white teeth. In
short, she has that nameless something about her, which charms at first
sight, which is not always possessed by greater beauties and more
regular features. We now know all the Moutonnet family; and since we
have gone so far, let us make acquaintance with the rest of the party
who have come to the wood of Romainville to celebrate the Saint

"The little woman who rushed so vigorously to the assistance of M.
Moutonnet, is the wife of a tall gentleman of the name of Bernard, who
is a toyman in the Rue St Denis. M. Bernard plays the amiable and the
fool at the same time. He laughs and quizzes, makes jokes, and even
puns; he is the wit of the party. His wife has been rather good-looking,
and wishes to be so still. She squeezes in her waist till she can hardly
breathe, and takes an hour to fit her shoes on--for she is determined to
have a small foot. Her face is a little too red; but her eyes are very
lively, and she is constantly trying to give them as mischievous an
expression as she can. Madame Bernard has a great girl of fifteen, whom
she dresses as if she were five, and treats occasionally to a new doll,
by way of keeping her a child. By the side of Madame Bernard is seated a
young man of eighteen, who is almost as timid as Eugenie, and blushes
when he is spoken to, though he has stood behind a counter for six
months. He is the son of a friend of M. Bernard, and his wife has
undertaken to patronize him, and introduce him to good society.

"A person of about forty years of age, with one of those silly
countenances which there is no mistaking at the first glance, is seated
beside Eugenie. M. Dupont--such is his name--is a rich grocer of the Rue
aux Ours. He wears powder and a queue, because he fancies they are
becoming, and his hairdresser has told him that they are very
aristocratic. His coat of sky-blue, and his jonquil-coloured waistcoat,
give him still more the appearance of a simpleton, and agree admirably
with the astonished expression of his gooseberry eyes. He dangles two
watch-chains, that hang down his nankeen trowsers, with great
satisfaction, and seems struck with admiration at the wisdom of his own
remarks. He thinks himself captivating and full of wit. He has the
presumption of ignorance, propped up by money. Finally, he is a
bachelor, which gives him great consideration in all the families where
there are marriageable daughters. M. and Madame Gerard, perfumers in the
Rue St Martin, are also of the party. The perfumer enacts the gallant
gay Lothario, and in his own district has the reputation of a prodigious
rake, though he is ugly, and ill-made, and squints. But he fancies he
overcomes all these drawbacks by covering himself with odours and
perfumes--accordingly, you smell him half an hour before he comes in
sight. His wife is young and pretty. She married him at fifteen, and has
a boy of nine, who looks more like her brother than her son. The little
Gerard hollos and jumps about, breaks the glasses and bottles, and makes
as much noise as all the rest of the company put together. 'He's a
little lion,' exclaims M. Gerard; 'he's exactly what I was. You never
could hear yourselves speak wherever I was, at his age. People were
delighted with me. My son is my perfect image.'

"M. Gerard's sister, an old maid of forty-five, who takes every
opportunity of declaring that she never intends to marry, and sighs
every tine M. Dupont looks at her, is next to M. Moutonnet. The old
clerk of the laceman--M. Bidois--who waits for Madame Moutonnet's
permission before he opens his mouth, and fills his glass every time she
is not looking--is placed at the side of Mademoiselle Cecile Gerard;
who, though she swears every minute that she never will marry, and that
she hates the men, is very ill pleased to have old M. Bidois for her
neighbour, and hints pretty audibly that Madame Bernard monopolizes all
the young beaux. A young man of about twenty, tall, well-made, with
handsome features, whose intelligent expression announces that he is
intended for higher things than perpetually to be measuring yards of
calico, is seated at the right hand of Eugenie. That young man, whose
name is Adolphe, is assistant in a fashionable warehouse where Madame
Moutonnet deals; and as he always gives good measure, she has asked him
to the fete of St Eustache. And now we are acquainted with all the party
who are celebrating the marriage-day of M. Moutonnet."

We are not going to follow Paul de Kock in the adventures of all the
party so carefully described to us. Our object in translating the
foregoing passage, was to enable our readers to see the manner of people
who indulge in pic-nics in the wood of Romainville, desiring them to
compare M. Moutonnet and _his_ friends, with any laceman and _his_
friends he may choose to fix upon in London. A laceman as well to do in
the world as M. Moutonnet, a grocer as rich as M. Dupont, and even a
perfumer as fashionable as M. Gerard, would have a whitebait dinner at
Blackwall, or make up a party to the races at Epsom--and as to admitting
such a humble servitor as M. Bidois to their society, or even the
unfriended young mercer's assistant, M. Adolphe, they would as soon
think of inviting one of the new police. Five miles from town our three
friends would pass themselves off for lords, and blow-up the waiter for
not making haste with their brandy and water, in the most aristocratic
manner imaginable. In France, or at least in Paul de Kock, there seems
no straining after appearances. The laceman continues a laceman when he
is miles away from the little back shop; and even the laceman's lady has
no desire to be mistaken for the wife of a squire. Madame Moutonnet
seems totally unconscious of the existence of any lady whatever,
superior to herself in rank or station. The Red Book is to her a sealed
volume. Her envies, hatreds, friendships, rivalries, and ambitions, are
all limited to her own circle. The wife of a rich laceman, on the other
hand, in England, most religiously despises the wives of almost all
other tradesmen; she scarcely knows in what street the shop is situated,
but from the altitudes of Balham or Hampstead, looks down with supreme
disdain on the toiling creatures who stand all day behind a counter. The
husband, in the same way, manages to cast off every reminiscence of the
shop, in the course of his three miles in the omnibus, and at six or
seven o'clock you might fancy they were a duke and duchess, sitting in a
gaudily furnished drawing-room, listening to two elegant young ladies
torturing a piano, and another still more elegant young lady severely
flogging a harp. The effect of this, so far as our English Paul de Kocks
are concerned, is, that their linen-drapers, and lacemen, and rich
perfumers, are represented assuming a character that does not belong to
them, and aping people whom they falsely suppose to be their betters;
whereas the genuine Paul paints the Parisian tradesmen without any
affectation at all. Ours are made laughable by the common farcical
attributes of all pretensions, great or small; while real
unsophisticated shopkeeping (French) nature is the staple of Paul's
character-sketches, and they are more valuable, and in the end more
interesting, accordingly. Who cares for the exaggerated efforts of a
Manchester warehouseman to be polished and gentlemanly? It is only
acting after all, and gives us no insight into his real character, or
the character of his class, any more than Mr Coates' anxiety to be Romeo
enlightened us as to his disposition in other respects. The Manchester
warehouseman, though he fails in his attempt at fashionable parts, may
be a very estimable and pains-taking individual, and, with the single
exception of that foible, offers nothing to the most careful observer to
distinguish him from the stupid and respectable in any part of the
world. And in this respect, any one starting as the chronicler of
citizen life among us, would labour under a great disadvantage. Whether
our people are phlegmatic, or stupid, or sensible--all three of which
epithets are generally applicable to the same individual--or that they
have no opportunities of showing their peculiarities from the domestic
habits of the animal--it is certain that, however better they may be
qualified for the business of life than their neighbours, they are far
less fitted for the pages of a book. And the proof of it is this, that
wherever any of our novelists has introduced a tradesman, he has either
been an invention altogether, or a caricature. Even Bailie Nicol Jarvie
never lived in the Saut Market in half such true flesh and blood as he
does in _Rob Roy_. At all events, the inimitable Bailie is known to the
universe at large by the additions made to his real character by the
prodigal hand of his biographer, and the ridiculous contrasts in which
he is placed with the caterans and reivers of the hills. In the city of
Glasgow he was looked upon, and justly, as an honour to the gude
town--consulted on all difficult matters, and famous for his knowledge
of the world and his natural sagacity. Would this have been a fit
subject for description? or is it just to think of the respectable
Bailie in the ridiculous point of view in which he is presented to us in
the Highlands? How would Sir Peter Laurie look if he had been taken long
ago by Algerine pirates, and torn, with all his civic honours thick upon
him, from the magisterial chair, and made hairdresser to the ladies of
the harem--threatened with the bastinado for awkwardness in combing, as
he now commits other unfortunate fellows to the treadmill for crimes
scarcely more enormous? Paul de Kock derives none of his interest from
odd juxtapositions. He knows nothing about caves and prisons and
brigands--but he knows every corner of coffee-houses, and beer-shops,
and ball-rooms. And these ball-rooms give him the command of another set
of characters, totally unknown to the English world of fiction, because
non-existent in England. With us, no shop-boy or apprentice would take
his sweetheart to a public hop at any of the licenced music-houses. No
decent girl would go there, nor even any girl that wished to keep up the
appearance of decency. No flirtations, to end in matrimony, take their
rise between an embryo boot-maker and a barber's daughter, in the course
of the _chaine Anglaise_ beneath the trees of the Green Park, or even at
the Yorkshire Stingo. Fathers have flinty hearts, and the
above-mentioned barber would probably increase the beauty of his
daughter's "bonny black eye," by giving her another, if she talked of
going to a ball, whether in a room or the open air. The Puritans have
left their mark. Dancing is always sinful, and Satan is perpetual M.C.
But let us follow the barber, or rather hairdresser--for the mere
gleaner of beards is not intended by the name--into his own amusements.
In Paul de Kock he goes to a coffee-house, drinks a small cup of coffee,
and pockets the entire sugar; or to a ball, where he performs all the
offices of a court chamberlain, and captivates all hearts by his
graceful deportment. His wife, perhaps, goes with him, and flirts in a
very business-like manner with a tobacconist; and his daughter is
whirled about in a waltz by Eugene or Adolphe, the young confectioner,
with as much elegance and decorum as if they were a young marquis and
his bride in the dancing hall at Devonshire House. Our English friend
goes to enjoy a pipe, or, if he has lofty notions, a cigar, and gin and
water, at the neighbouring inn. Or when he determines on having a night
of real rational enjoyment, he goes to some tavern where singing is the
order of the evening. A stout man in the chair knocks on the table, and
being the landlord, makes disinterested enquiries if every gentleman has
a bumper. He then calls on himself for a song, and states that he is to
be accompanied on the piano by a distinguished performer; whereupon, a
tall young man of a moribund expression of countenance, and with his
hair closely pomatumed over his head, rises, and, after a low bow, seats
himself at the instrument. The stout man sings, the young man plays, and
thunders of applause, and various fresh orders for kidneys and strong
ale, and welch rabbits and cold-without, reward their exertions.
Drinking goes on for some time, and waiters keep flying about with
dishes of all kinds, and the hairdresser becomes communicative to his
next neighbour, a butcher from Whitechapel, and they exchange their
sentiments about kidneys and music in general, and the kidneys and music
now offered to them in particular. In a few minutes, a gentleman with a
strange obliquity in his vision, seated in the middle of the
coffee-room, takes off his hat, and after a thump on the table from the
landlord's hammer, commences a song so intensely comic, that when it is
over, the orders for supper and drink are almost unanimous. The house is
now full, the theatres have discharged their hungry audiences, and a
distinguished guinea-a-week performer seats himself in the very next box
to the hairdresser. That worthy gentleman by this time is stuffed so
full of kidneys, and has drank so many glasses of brandy and water, that
he can scarcely understand the explanations of the Whitechapel butcher,
who has a great turn for theatricals, and wishes to treat the dramatic
performer to a tumbler of gin-twist. Another knock on the table produces
a momentary silence, and a little man starts off with an extempore song,
where the conviviality of the landlord, and the goodness of his suppers,
are duly chronicled. The hairdresser hears a confused buzz of
admiration, and even attempts to join in it, but thinks it, at last,
time to go. He goes, and narrowly escapes making the acquaintance of Mr
Jardine, from his extraordinary propensity to brush all the lamp-posts
he encounters with the shoulder of his coat; and gets home, to the great
comfort of his wife and daughter, who have gone cozily off to sleep, in
the assurance that their distinguished relative is safely locked up in
the police-office. The Frenchman, on the other hand, never gets into
mischief from an overdose of _eau sucree_, though sometimes he certainly
becomes very rombustious from a glass or two of _vin ordinaire_; and
nothing astonishes us so much as the small quantities of small drink
which have an effect on the brains of the steadiest of the French
population. They get not altogether drunk, but decidedly very talkative,
and often quarrelsome, on a miserable modicum of their indigenous small
beer, to a degree which would not be excusable if it were brandy. We
constantly find whole parties at a pic-nic in a most prodigious state of
excitement after two rounds of a bottle--jostling the peasants, and
talking more egregious nonsense than before. And when they quarrel, what
a Babel of words, and what a quakerism of hands! Instead of a round or
two between the parties, as it would be in our own pugnacious
disagreements, they merely, when it comes to the worst, push each other
from side to side, and shout lustily for the police; and squalling
women, and chattering men, and ignorant country people, and elegant
mercers' apprentices, and gay-mannered grocers, hustle, and scream, and
swear, and lecture, and threaten, and bluster--but not a single blow!
The guardian of the public peace appears, and the combatants evanish
into thin air; and in a few minutes after this dreadful _melee_, the
violin strikes up a fresh waltz, and all goes "gaily as a
marriage-bell." We don't say, at the present moment, that one of these
methods of conducting a quarrel is better than the other, (though we
confess we are rather partial to a hit in the bread-basket, or a tap on
the claret-cork)--all we mean to advance is, that with the materials to
work upon, Paul de Kock, as a faithful describer of real scenes, has a
manifest advantage over the describer of English incidents of a parallel

The affectations of a French cit, when that nondescript animal
condescends to be affected, are more varied and interesting than those
of their brethren here. He has a taste for the fine arts--he talks about
the opera--likes to know artists and authors--and, though living up five
or six pairs of stairs in a narrow lane, gives _soirees_ and
_conversaziones_. More ludicrous all this, and decidedly less
disgusting, than the assumptions of our man-milliners and fishmongers.
There is short sketch by Paul de Kock, called a _Soiree Bourgeoise_,
which we translate entire, as an illustration of this curious phase of
French character; and we shall take an early opportunity of bringing
before our readers the essays of the daily feuilletonists of the
Parisian press, which give a clearer insight into the peculiarities of
French domestic literature than can be acquired in any other quarter.


Lights were observed some time ago, in the four windows of an apartment
on the second floor of a house in the Rue Grenetat. It was not quite so
brilliant as the Cercle des Etrangers, but still it announced something.
These four windows, with lights glancing in them all, had an air of
rejoicing, and the industrious inhabitants of the Rue Grenetat, who
don't generally go to much expense for illumination, even in their
shops, looked at the four windows which eclipsed the street lamps in
their brilliancy, and said, "There's certainly something very
extraordinary going on this evening at M. Lupot's!" M. Lupot is an
honest tradesman, who has retired from business some time. After having
sold stationary for thirty years, without ever borrowing of a neighbour,
or failing in a payment, M. Lupot, having scraped together an income of
three hundred and twenty pounds, disposed of his stock in trade, and
closed his ledger, to devote himself entirely to the pleasures of
domestic life with his excellent spouse, Madam Felicite Lupot--a woman
of an amazingly apathetic turn of mind, who did admirably well in the
shop as long as she had only to give change for half-crowns, but whose
abilities extended no further. But this had not prevented her from
making a very good wife to her husband, (which proves that much talent
is not required for that purpose,) and presenting him with a daughter
and a son.

The daughter was the eldest, and had attained her seventeenth year; and
M. Lupot, who spared nothing on her education, did not despair of
finding a husband for her with a soul above sticks of sealing-wax and
wafers--more especially as it was evident she had no turn for trade, and
believed she had a decided genius for the fine arts--for she had painted
her father as a shepherd with his crook, when she was only twelve, and
had learned a year after to play "Je suis Lindore" by ear on the piano.
M. Lupot was proud of his daughter, who was thus a painter and a
musician; who was a foot taller than her papa; who held herself as
upright as a Prussian grenadier; who made a curtsy like Taglioni, who
had a Roman nose three times the size of other people's, a mouth to
match, and eyes so arch and playful, that it was difficult to discover
them. The boy was only seven; he was allowed to do whatever he chose--he
was so very young; and Monsieur Ascanius availed himself of the
permission, and was in mischief from morning to night. His father was
too fond of him to scold him, and his mother wouldn't take the trouble
to get into a passion.

Well, then, one morning M. Lupot soliloquized--"I have a good fortune, a
charming family, and a wife who has never been in a rage; but all this
does not lead to a man's being invited, courted, and made much of in the
world. Since I have cut the hotpress-wove and red sealing-wax, I have
seen nobody but a few friends--retired tradesmen like myself--who drop
in to take a hand at _vingt-et-un_, or loto; but I wish more than
that--my daughter must not live in so narrow a circle; my daughter has a
decided turn for the arts; I ought to have artists to my house. I will
give soirees, tea-parties--yes, with punch at parting, if it be
necessary. We shall play _bouillote_ and _ecarte_, for my daughter can't
endure loto. Indeed, I wish to set people talking about my re-unions,
and to find a husband for Celanire worthy of her." M. Lupot was seated
near his wife, who was seated on an elastic sofa, and was caressing a
cat on her knee. He said to her--

"My dear Felicite, I intend to give soirees--to receive lots of company.
We live in too confined a sphere for our daughter, who was born for the
arts--and for Ascanius, who, it strikes me, will make some noise in the

Madame Lupot continued to caress the cat, and replied, "Well, what have
I to do with that? Do I hinder you from receiving company? If it doesn't
cause me any trouble--for I must tell you first of all, you musn't count
on me to help you"--

"You will have nothing at all to do, my dear Felicite, but the honours
of the house."

"I must be getting up every minute"--

"You do it so gracefully," replied the husband--"I will give all the
orders, and Celanire will second me."

Mademoiselle was enchanted with the intention of her sire, and threw her
arms round his neck.

"Oh yes! papa," she said, "invite as many as you can, I will learn to
play some country-dances that we may have a ball, and finish my head of
Belisarius--you must get it framed for the occasion."

And the little Ascanius whooped and hollo'd in the middle of the room.
"I shall have tea and punch and cakes. I'll eat every thing!"

After this conversation M. Lupot had set to work. He went to his friends
and his friends' friends--to people he hardly knew, and invited them to
his party, begging them to bring any body with them they liked. M. Lupot
had formerly sold rose-coloured paper to a musician, and drawing pencils
to an artist. He went to his ancient customers, and pressed them to come
and to bring their professional friends with them. In short, M. Lupot
was so prodigiously active that in four days he had run through nearly
the whole of Paris, caught an immense cold, and spent seven shillings in
cab hire. Giving an entertainment has its woes as well as its pleasures.

The grand day, or rather the grand evening, at last arrived. All the
lamps were lighted, and they had even borrowed some from their
neighbours; for Celanire had discovered that their own three lamps
did not give light enough both for the public-room and the
supper-room--(which on ordinary occasions was a bed-chamber.) It was the
first time that M. Lupot had borrowed any thing--but also it was the
first time that M. Lupot gave a soiree.

From the dawn of day M. Lupot was busy in preparation: He had ordered in
cakes and refreshments; bought sundry packs of cards, brushed the
tables, and tucked up the curtains. Madame Lupot had sat all the time
quietly on the sofa, ejaculating from time to time, "I'm afraid 'twill
be a troublesome business all this receiving company."

Celanire had finished her Belisarius, who was an exact likeness of Blue
Beard, and whom they had honoured with a Gothic frame, and placed in a
conspicuous part of the room. Mademoiselle Lupot was dressed with
amazing care. She had a new gown, her hair plaited _a la Clotilde_. All
this must make a great sensation. Ascanius was rigged out in his best;
but this did not hinder him from kicking up a dust in the room, from
getting up on the furniture, handling the cards, and taking them to make
houses; from opening the cupboards, and laying his fingers on the cakes.

Sometimes M. Lupot's patience gave way, and he cried, "Madame, I beg
you'll make your son be quiet." But Madame Lupot answered without
turning her head, "Make him quiet yourself, M. Lupot--You know very well
it's _your_ business to manage him."

It was now eight o'clock, and nobody was yet arrived. Mademoiselle
looked at her father, who looked at his wife, who looked at her cat. The
father of the family muttered every now and then--"Are we to have our
grand soiree all to ourselves?" And he cast doleful looks on his lamps,
his tables, and all his splendid preparations. Mademoiselle Celanire
sighed and looked at her dress, and then looked in the mirror. Madame
Lupot was as unmoved as ever, and said, "Is this what we've turned every
thing topsy-turvy for?" As for little Ascanius, he jumped about the
room, and shouted, "If nobody comes, what lots of cakes we shall have!"
At last the bell rang. It is a family from the Rue St Denis, retired
perfumers, who have only retained so much of their ancient profession,
that they cover themselves all over with odours. When they enter the
room, you feel as if a hundred scent-bottles were opened at once. There
is such a smell of jasmine and vanille, that you have good luck if you
get off without a headache. Other people drop in. M. Lupot does not know
half his guests, for many of them are brought by others, and even these
he scarcely knows the names of. But he is enchanted with every thing. A
young fashionable is presented to him by some unknown third party, who
says, "This is one of our first pianists, who is good enough to give up
a great concert this evening to come here." The next is a famous singer,
a lion in musical parties, who is taken out every where, and who will
give one of his latest compositions, though unfortunately labouring
under a cold. This man won the first prize at the Conservatory, an
unfledged Boildieu, who will be a great composer of operas--when he can
get librettos to his music, and music to his librettos. The next is a
painter. He has shown at the exhibition--he has had wonderful success.
To be sure nobody bought his pictures, because he didn't wish to sell
them to people that couldn't appreciate them. In short, M. Lupot sees
nobody in his rooms that is not first-rate in some way or other. He is
delighted with the thought--ravished, transported. He can't find words
enough to express his satisfaction at having such geniuses in his house.
For their sakes he neglects his old friends--he scarcely speaks to them.
It seems the new-comers, people he has never seen before, are the only
people worthy of his attentions. Madame Lupot is tired of getting up,
curtsying, and sitting down again. But her daughter is radiant with joy;
her husband goes from room to room, rubbing his hands, as if he had
bought all Paris, and got it a bargain. And little Ascanius never comes
out of the bed-room without his mouth full. But it is not enough to
invite a large party; you must know how to amuse them; it is a thing
which very few people have the art of, even those most accustomed to
have soirees. In some you get tired, and you are in great ceremony; you
must restrict yourself to a conversation that is neither open, nor
friendly, nor amusing. In others, you are pestered to death by the
amphitryon, who is perhaps endowed with the bump of music, and won't
leave the piano for fear some one else should take his place. There are
others fond of cards, who only ask their friends that they may make up a
table. Such individuals care for nothing but the game, and don't trouble
themselves whether the rest of their guests are amused or not. Ah! there
are few homes that know how to receive their company, or make every body
pleased. It requires a tact, a cleverness, an absence of self, which
must surely be very unusual since we see so few specimens of them in the
soirees we attend.

M. Lupot went to and fro--from the reception-room to the bed-chamber,
and back again--he smiled, he bowed, and rubbed his hands. But the
new-comers, who had not come to his house to see him smile and rub his
hands, began to say, in very audible whispers, "Ah, well, do people pass
the whole night here looking at each other? Very delightful--very!"

M. Lupot has tried to start a conversation with a big man in spectacles,
with a neckcloth of great dimensions, and who makes extraordinary faces
as he looks round on the company. M. Lupot has been told, that the
gentleman with the large neckcloth is a literary man, and that he will
probably be good enough to read or recite some lines of his own
composition. The ancient stationer coughs three times before venturing
to address so distinguished a character, but says at last--"Enchanted to
see at my house a gentleman so--an author of such----"

"Ah, you're the host here, are you?--the master of the house?"--said the
man in the neckcloth.

"I flatter myself I am--with my wife, of course--the lady on the
sofa--you see her? My daughter, sir--she's the tall young lady, so
upright in her figure. She designs, and has an excellent touch on the
piano. I have a son also--a little fiend--it was he who crept this
minute between my legs--he's an extraordinary clev----"

"There is one thing, sir," replied the big man, "that I can't
comprehend--a thing that amazes me--and that is, that people who live in
the Rue Grenetat should give parties. It is a miserable street--a horrid
street--covered eternally with mud--choked up with cars--a wretched part
of the town, dirty, noisy, pestilential--bah!"

"And yet, sir, for thirty years I have lived here."

"Oh Lord, sir, I should have died thirty times over! When people live in
the Rue Grenetat they should give up society, for you'll grant it is a
regular trap to seduce people into such an abominable street. I"----

M. Lupot gave up smiling and rubbing his hands. He moves off from the
big man in the spectacles, whose conversation had by no means amused
him, and he goes up to a group of young people who seem examining the
Belisarius of Mademoiselle Celanire.

"They're admiring my daughter's drawing," said M. Lupot to himself; "I
must try to overhear what these artists are saying." The young people
certainly made sundry remarks on the performance, plentifully intermixed
with sneers of a very unmistakable kind.

"Can you make out what the head is meant for?"

"Not I. I confess I never saw any thing so ridiculous."

"It's Belisarius, my dear fellow."

"Impossible!--it's the portrait of some grocer, some relation, probably,
of the family--look at the nose--the mouth--"

"It is intolerable folly to put a frame to such a daub."

"They must be immensely silly."

"Why, it isn't half so good as the head of the Wandering Jew at the top
of a penny ballad."

M. Lupot has heard enough. He slips off from the group without a word,
and glides noiselessly to the piano. The young performer who had
sacrificed a great concert to come to his soiree, had sat down to the
instrument and run his fingers over the notes.

"What a spinnet!" he cried--"what a wretched kettle! How can you expect
a man to perform on such a miserable instrument? The thing is
absurd--hear this A--hear this G--it's like a hurdygurdy--not one note
of it in tune!" But the performer stayed at the piano notwithstanding,
and played incessantly, thumping the keys with such tremendous force,
that every minute a chord snapped; when such a thing happened--he burst
into a laugh, and said, "Good! there's another gone--there will soon be
none left."

M. Lupot flushed up to the ears. He felt very much inclined to say to
the celebrated performer, "Sir, I didn't ask you here to break all the
chords of my piano. Let the instrument alone if you don't like it, but
don't hinder other people from playing on it for our amusement."

But the good M. Lupot did not venture on so bold a speech, which would
have been a very sensible speech nevertheless; and he stood quietly
while his chords were getting smashed, though it was by no means a
pleasant thing to do.

Mademoiselle Celanire goes up to her father. She is distressed at the
way her piano is treated; she has no opportunity of playing her air; but
she hopes to make up for it by singing a romance, which one of their old
neighbours is going to accompany on the guitar.

It is not without some difficulty that M. Lupot obtains silence for his
daughter's song. At sight of the old neighbour and his guitar a
smothered laugh is visible in the assembly. It is undeniable that the
gentleman is not unlike a respectable Troubadour with a barrel organ,
and that his guitar is like an ancient harp. There is great curiosity to
hear the old gentleman touch his instrument. He begins by beating time
with his feet and his head, which latter movement gives him very much
the appearance of a mandarin that you sometimes see on a mantelpiece.
Nevertheless Mademoiselle Lupot essays her ballad; but she can never
manage to overtake her accompanier, who, instead of following the
singer, seems determined to make no alteration in the movement of his
head and feet. The ballad is a failure--Celanire is confused, she has
mistaken her notes--she loses her recollection; and, instead of hearing
his daughter's praises, M. Lupot overhears the young people
whispering--"It wouldn't do in a beer-shop."

"I must order in the tea," thought the ex-stationer--"it will perhaps
put them into good-humour."

And M. Lupot rushes off to give instructions to the maid; and that old
individual, who has never seen such a company before, does not know how
to get on, and breaks cups and saucers without mercy, in the effort to
make haste.

"Nannette, have you got ready the other things you were to bring in with
the tea?--the muffins--the cakes?"

"Yes, sir"--replied Nannette--"all is ready--every thing will be in in a

"But there is another thing I told you, Nannette--the sandwiches."

"The witches, sir?--the sand?"--enquired the puzzled Nannette.

"It is an English dish--I explained it to you before--slices of bread
and butter, with ham between."

"Oh la, sir!" exclaimed the maid--"I have forgotten that ragout--oh

"Well--make haste, Nannette; get ready some immediately, while my
daughter hands round the tea and muffins--you can bring them in on a

The old domestic hurries into the kitchen grumbling at the English
dainty, and cuts some slices of bread and covers them with butter; but
as she had never thought of the ham, she cogitates a long time how she
can supply the want of it--at last, on looking round, she discovers a
piece of beef that had been left at dinner.

"Pardieu," she says, "I'll cut some lumps of this and put them on the
bread. With plenty of salt they'll pass very well for ham--they'll drive
me wild with their English dishes--they will."

The maid speedily does as she says, and then hurries into the room with
a tray covered with her extempore ham sandwiches.

Every body takes one,--for they have grown quite fashionable along with
tea. But immediately there is an universal murmur in the assembly. The
ladies throw their slices into the fire, the gentlemen spit theirs on
the furniture, and they cry--"why the devil do people give us things
like these?--they're detestable."

"It's my opinion, God forgive me! the man means to feed us with scraps
from the pig-trough," says another.

"It's a regular do, this soiree," says a third.

"The tea is disgustingly smoked," says a fourth.

"And all the little cakes look as if they had been fingered before,"
says the fifth.

"Decidedly they wish to poison us," says the big man in the neckcloth,
looking very morose.

M. Lupot is in despair. He goes in search of Nannette, who has hidden
herself in the kitchen; and he busies himself in gathering up the
fragments of the bread and butter from the floor and the fireplace.

Madame Lupot says nothing; but she is in very bad humour, for she has
put on a new cap, which she felt sure would be greatly admired; and a
lady has come to her and said--

"Ah, madame, what a shocking head-dress!--your cap is very
old-fashioned--those shapes are quite gone out."

"And yet, madame," replies Madame Lupot, "I bought it, not two days ago,
in the Rue St Martin."

"Well, madame--Is that the street you go to for the fashions? Go to
Mademoiselle Alexina Larose Carrefous Gaillon--you'll get delicious caps
there--new fashions and every thing so tasteful: for Heaven's sake,
madame, never put on that cap again. You look, at least, a hundred."

"It's worth one's while, truly," thought Madame Lupot, "to tire one's
self to death receiving people, to be treated to such pretty

Her husband, in the meanwhile, continued his labours in pursuit of the
rejected sandwiches.

The big man in spectacles, who wondered that people could live in the
Rue Grenetat, had no idea, nevertheless, of coming there for nothing. He
has seated himself in an arm-chair in the middle of the room, and
informs the company that he is going to repeat a few lines of his own to
them.--The society seems by no means enchanted with the announcement,
but forms itself in a circle, to listen to the poet. He coughs and
spits, wipes his mouth, tales a pinch of snuff, sneezes, has the lamps
raised, the doors shut, asks a tumbler of sugar and water, and passes
his hand through his hair. After continuing these operations for some
minutes, the literary man at last begins. He spouts his verses in a
voice enough to break the glasses; before he has spoken a minute, he has
presented a tremendous picture of crimes, and deaths, and scaffolds,
sufficient to appal the stoutest hearts, when suddenly a great crash
from the inner room attracts universal attention. It is the young
Ascanius, who was trying to get a muffin on the top of a pile of dishes,
and has upset the table, with muffin, and dishes, and all on his own
head. M. Lupot runs off to ascertain the cause of the dreadful cries of
his son; the company follow him, not a little rejoiced to find an excuse
for hearing no more of the poem; and the poet, deprived in this way of
an audience, gets up in a furious passion, takes his hat, and rushes
from the room, exclaiming--"It serves me right. How could I have been
fool enough to recite good verses in the Rue Grenetat!"

Ascanius is brought in and roars lustily, for two of the dishes have
been broken on his nose; and as there is no chance now, either of poetry
or music, the party have recourse to cards--for it is impossible to sit
all night and do nothing.

They make up a table at _bouillote_, and another at _ecarte_. M. Lupot
takes his place at the latter. He is forced to cover all the bets when
his side refuses; and M. Lupot, who never played higher than shilling
stakes in his life, is horrified when they tell him--"You must lay down
fifteen francs to equal our stakes."

"Fifteen francs!" says M. Lupot, "what is the meaning of all this?"

"It means, that you must make up the stakes of your side, to what we
have put down on this. The master of the house is always expected to
make up the difference."

M. Lupot dare not refuse. He lays down his fifteen francs and loses
them; next game the deficiency is twenty. In short, in less than half an
hour, the ex-stationer loses ninety francs. His eyes start out of his
head--he scarcely knows where he is; and to complete his misery, the
opposite party, in lifting up the money they have won, upset one of the
lamps he had borrowed from his neighbours, and smashed it into fifty

At last the hour of separation comes. The good citizen has been anxious
for it for a long time. All his gay company depart, without even wishing
good-night to the host who has exerted himself so much for their
entertainment. The family of the Lupots are left alone; Madame, overcome
with fatigue, and vexed because her cap had been found fault with;
Celanire, with tears in her eyes, because her music and Belisarius had
been laughed at; and Ascanius sick and ill, because he has nearly burst
himself with cakes and muffins; M. Lupot was, perhaps, the unhappiest of
all, thinking of his ninety francs and the broken lamp. Old Annette
gathered up the crumbs of the sandwiches, and muttered--"Do they think
people make English dishes to have them thrown into the corners of the

"It's done," said M. Lupot; "I shall give no more soirees. I begin to
think I was foolish in wishing to leave my own sphere. When people of
the same class lark and joke each other, it's all very well; but when
you meddle with your superiors, and they are uncivil, it hurts your
feelings. Their mockery is an insult, and you don't get over it soon. My
dear Celanire, I shall decidedly try to marry you to a stationer."

* * * * *




The HEAVY SWELL was recorded in our last for the admiration and
instruction of remote ages. When the nineteenth century shall be long
out of date, and centuries in general out of their _teens_, posterity
will revert to our delineation of the heavy swell with pleasure
undiminished, through the long succession of ages yet to come; the
macaroni, the fop, the dandy, will be forgotten, or remembered only in
our graphic portraiture of the heavy swell. But the heavy swell is,
after all, a harmless nobody. His curse, his besetting sin, his
_monomania_, is vanity tinctured with pride: his weak point can hardly
be called a crime, since it affects and injures nobody but himself, if,
indeed, it can be said to injure him who glories in his vocation--who is
the echo of a sound, the shadow of a shade.

The GENTILITY-MONGERS, on the contrary, are positively noxious to
society, as well particular as general. There is a twofold or threefold
iniquity in their goings-on; they sin against society, their families,
and themselves; the whole business of their lives is a perversion of the
text of Scripture, which commandeth us, "in whatever station we are,
therewith to be content."

The gentility-monger is a family man, having a house somewhere in
Marylebone, or Pancras parish. He is sometimes a man of independent
fortune--how acquired, nobody knows; that is his secret, his mystery. He
will let no one suppose that he has ever been in trade; because, when a
man intends gentility-mongering, it must never be known that he has
formerly carried on the tailoring, or the shipping, or the
cheese-mongering, or the fish-mongering, or any other mongering than the
gentility-mongering. His house is very stylishly furnished; that is to
say, as unlike the house of a man of fashion as possible--the latter
having only things the best of their kind, and for use; the former
displaying every variety of extravagant gimcrackery, to impress you with
a profound idea of combined wealth and taste, but which, to an educated
eye and mind only, conveys a lively idea of ostentation. When you call
upon a gentility-monger, a broad-shouldered, coarse, ungentlemanlike
footman, in Aurora plushes, ushers you to a drawing-room, where, on
tables round, and square, and hexagonal, are set forth jars, porcelain,
china, and delft; shells, spars; stuffed parrots under bell-glasses;
corals, minerals, and an infinity of trumpery, among which albums,
great, small, and intermediate, must by no means be forgotten.

The room is papered with some _splendacious_ pattern in blue and gold; a
chandelier of imposing gingerbread depends from the richly ornamented
ceiling; every variety of ottoman, lounger, settee, is scattered about,
so that to get a chair involves the right-of-search question; the
bell-pulls are painted in Poonah; there is a Brussels carpet of flaming
colours, curtains with massive fringes, bad pictures in gorgeous frames;
prints, after Ross, of her Majesty and Prince Albert, of course; and
mezzotints of the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel, for whom the
gentility-monger has a profound respect, and of whom he talks with a
familiarity showing that it is not _his_ fault, at least, if these
exalted personages do not admit him to the honour of their acquaintance.

In fact, you see the drawing-room is not intended for sitting down in,
and when the lady appears, you are inclined to believe she never sits
down; at least the full-blown swell of that satin skirt seems never
destined to the compression of a chair. The conversation is as
usual--"Have you read the morning paper?"--meaning the Court Circular
and fashionable intelligence; "do you know whether the Queen is at
Windsor or Claremont, and how long her Majesty intends to remain;
whether town is fuller than it was, or not so full; when the next
Almacks' ball takes place; whether you were at the last drawing-room,
and which of the fair _debutantes_ you most admire; whether Tamburini is
to be denied us next year?" with many lamentations touching the possible
defection, as if the migrations of an opera thrush were of the least
consequence to any rational creature--of course you don't say so, but
lament Tamburini as if he were your father; "whether it is true that we
are to have the two Fannies, Taglioni and Cerito, this season; and what
a heaven of delight we shall experience from the united action of these
twenty supernatural pettitoes." You needn't express yourself after this
fashion, else you will shock miss, who lounges near you in an agony of
affected rapture: you must sigh, shrug your shoulders, twirl your cane,
and say "divine--yes--hope it may be so--exquisite--_exquisite_." This
naturally leads you to the last new songs, condescendingly exhibited to
you by miss, if you are _somebody_, (if _nobody_, miss does not appear;)
you are informed that "_My heart is like a pickled salmon_" is dedicated
to the Duchess of Mundungus, and thereupon you are favoured with sundry
passages (out of Debrett) upon the intermarriages, &c., of that
illustrious family; you are asked whether Bishop is the composer of "_I
saw her in a twinkling_," and whether the _minor_ is not fine? Miss
tells you she has transposed it from G to C, as suiting her voice
better--whereupon mamma acquaints you, that a hundred and twenty guineas
for a harp is moderate, she thinks; you think so too, taking that
opportunity to admire the harp, saying that you saw one exactly like it
at Lord (any Lord that strikes you) So-and-So's, in St James's Square.
This produces an invitation to dinner; and with many lamentations on
English weather, and an eulogium on the climate of Florence, you pay
your parting compliments, and take your leave.

At dinner you meet a claret-faced Irish absentee, whose good society is
a good dinner, and who is too happy to be asked any where that a good
dinner is to be had; a young silky clergyman, in black curled whiskers,
and a white _choker_; one of the meaner fry of M.P.'s; a person who
_calls himself_ a foreign count; a claimant of a dormant peerage; a
baronet of some sort, not above the professional; sundry propriety-faced
people in yellow waistcoats, who say little, and whose social position
you cannot well make out; half-a-dozen ladies of an uncertain age,
dressed in grand style, with turbans of imposing _tournure_; and a
young, diffident, equivocal-looking gent who sits at the bottom of the
table, and whom you instinctively make out to be a family doctor, tutor,
or nephew, with expectations. No young ladies, unless the young ladies
of the family, appear at the dinner-parties of these gentility-mongers;
because the motive of the entertainment is pride, not pleasure; and
therefore prigs and frumps are in keeping, and young women with brains,
or power of conversation, would only distract attention from the grand
business of life, that is to say, dinner; besides, a seat at table here
is an object, where the expense is great, and nobody is asked for his or
her own sake, but for an object either of ostentation, interest, or
vanity. Hospitality never enters into the composition of a
gentility-monger: he gives a dinner, wine, and a shake of the hand, but
does not know what the word _welcome_ means: he says, now and then, to
his wife "My dear, I think we must give a dinner;" a dinner is
accordingly determined on, cards issued three weeks in advance, that you
may be premeditatedly dull; the dinner is gorgeous to repletion, that
conversation may be kept as stagnant as possible. Of those happy
surprize invitations--those unexpected extemporaneous dinners, that as
they come without thinking or expectation, so go off with _eclat_, and
leave behind the memory of a cheerful evening--he has no idea; a man of
fashion, whose place is fixed, and who has only himself to please, will
ask you to a slice of crimped cod and a hash of mutton, without
ceremony; and when he puts a cool bottle on the table, after a dinner
that he and his friend have really enjoyed, will never so much as
apologize with, "my dear sir, I fear you have had a wretched dinner," or
"I wish I had known: I should have had something better." This affected
depreciation of his hospitality he leaves to the gentility-monger, who
will insist on cramming you with fish, flesh, and fowls, till you are
like to burst; and then, by way of apology, get his guests to pay the
reckoning in plethoric laudation of his mountains of victual.

If you wait in the drawing-room, kicking your heels for an hour after
the appointed time, although you arrived to a _minute_, as every
Christian does, you may be sure that somebody who patronizes the
gentility-monger, probably the Honourable Mr Sniftky, is expected, and
has not come. It is vain for you to attempt to talk to your host,
hostess, or miss, who are absorbed, body and soul, in expectation of
Honourable Sniftky; the propriety-faced people in the yellow waistcoats
attitudinize in groups about the room, putting one pump out, drawing the
other in, inserting the thumb gracefully in the arm-hole of the yellow
waistcoats, and talking _icicles_; the young fellows play with a sprig
of lily-of-the-valley in a button-hole--admire a flowing portrait of
miss, asking one another if it is not very like--or hang over the back
of a chair of one of the turbaned ladies, who gives good evening
parties; the host receives a great many compliments upon one thing and
another, from some of the professed diners-out, who take every
opportunity of paying for their dinner beforehand; every body freezes
with the chilling sensation of dinner deferred, and "curses, not loud
but deep," are imprecated on the Honourable Sniftky. At last, a
prolonged _rat-tat-tat_ announces the arrival of the noble beast, the
lion of the evening; the Honourable Sniftky, who is a junior clerk in
the Foreign Office, is announced by the footman out of livery, (for the
day,) and announces himself a minute after: he comes in a long-tailed
coat and boots, to show his contempt for his entertainers, and mouths a
sort of apology for keeping his betters waiting, which is received by
the gentility-monger, his lady, and miss, with nods, and becks, and
wreathed smiles of unqualified admiration and respect.

As the order of precedence at the house of a gentility-monger is not
strictly understood, the host desires Honourable Sniftky to take down
miss; and calling out the names of the other guests, like muster-master
of the guards, pairs them, and sends them down to the dining-room, where
you find the nephew, or family doctor, (or whatever he is,) who has
inspected the arrangement of the table, already in waiting.

You take your place, not without that excess of ceremony that
distinguishes the table of a gentility-monger; the Honourable Sniftky,
_ex-officio_, takes his place between mamma and miss, glancing vacancy
round the table, lest any body should think himself especially honoured
by a fixed stare; covers are removed by the mob of occasional waiters in
attendance, and white soup and brown soup, thick and heavy as judges of
assize, go circuit.

Then comes hobnobbing, with an interlocutory dissertation upon a
_plateau, candelabrum_, or some other superfluous machine, in the centre
of the table. One of the professed diners-out, discovers for the
twentieth time an inscription in dead silver on the pedestal, and
enquires with well-affected ignorance whether that is a _present_; the
gentility-monger asks the diner-out to wine, as he deserves, then enters
into a long apologetical self-laudation of his exertions in behalf of
TRANSPORTATION SOCIETY, (some emigration crimping scheme, in short,) in
which his humble efforts to diffuse civilization and promote
Christianity, however unworthy, ("No, no!" from the diner-out,) gained
the esteem of his fellow-labourers, and the approbation of his own
con----"Shall I send you some fish, sir?" says the man at the foot of
the table, addressing himself to the Honourable Sniftky, and cutting
short the oration.

A monstrous salmon and a huge turbot are now dispensed to the hungry
multitude; the gentility-monger has no idea that the biggest turbot is
not the best; he knows it is the _dearest_, and that is enough for him;
he would have his dishes like his cashbook, to show at a glance how much
he has at his banker's. When the flesh of the guests has been
sufficiently fishified, there is an _interregnum_, filled up with
another circuit of wine, until the arrival of the _pieces de
resistance_, the imitations of made dishes, and the usual _etceteras_.
The conversation, meanwhile, is carried on in a _staccato_ style; a
touch here, a hit there, a miss almost every where; the Honourable
Sniftky turning the head of mamma with affected compliments, and
hobnobbing to himself without intermission. After a sufficiently tedious
interval, the long succession of wasteful extravagance is cleared away
with the upper tablecloth; the dowagers, at a look from our hostess,
rise with dignity and decorously retire, miss modestly bringing up the
rear--the man at the foot of the table with the handle of the door in
one hand, and a napkin in the other, bowing them out.

Now the host sings out to the Honourable Sniftky to draw his chair
closer and be jovial, as if people, after an oppressively expensive
dinner, can be jovial _to order_. The wine goes round, and laudations go
with it; the professed diners-out enquire the vintage; the Honourable Mr
Sniftky intrenches himself behind a rampart of fruit dishes, speaking
only when he is spoken to, and glancing inquisitively at the several
speakers, as much as to say, "What a fellow you are, to talk;" the host
essays a _bon-mot_, or tells a story bordering on the _ideal_, which he
thinks is fashionable, and shows that he knows life; the Honourable
Sniftky drinks claret from a beer-glass, and after the third bottle
affects to discover his mistake, wondering what he could be thinking of;
this produces much laughter from all save the professed diners-out, who
dare not take such a liberty, and is _the_ jest of the evening.

When the drinkers, drinkables, and talk are quite exhausted, the noise
of a piano recalls to our bewildered recollections the ladies, and we
drink their healths: the Honourable Sniftky, pretending that it is
foreign-post night at the Foreign Office, walks off without even a bow
to the assembled diners, the gentility-monger following him submissively
to the door; then returning, tells us that he's sorry Sniftky's gone,
he's such a good-natured fellow, while the gentleman so characterized
gets into his cab, drives to his club, and excites the commiseration of
every body there, by relating how he was bored with an old _ruffian_,
who insisted upon his (Sniftky's) going to dinner in Bryanston Square;
at which there are many "Oh's!" and "Ah's!" and "what could you
expect?--Bryanston Square!--served you right."

In the mean time, the guests, relieved of the presence of the Honourable
Sniftky, are rather more at their ease; a baronet (who was lord mayor,
or something of that sort) waxes jocular, and gives decided indications
of something like "how came you so;" the man at the foot of the table
contradicts one of the diners-out, and is contradicted in turn by the
baronet; the foreign count is in deep conversation with a hard-featured
man, supposed to be a stockjobber; the clergyman extols the labours of
the host in the matter of the Cannibal Islands' Aborigines Protection
Society, in which his reverence takes an interest; the claimant of the
dormant peerage retails his pedigree, pulling to pieces the
attorney-general, who has expressed an opinion hostile to his

In the mean time, the piano is joined by a harp, in musical solicitation
of the company to join the ladies in the drawing-room; they do so,
looking flushed and plethoric, sink into easy-chairs, sip tea, the
younger beaux turning over, with miss, Books of Beauty and Keepsakes: at
eleven, coaches and cabs arrive, you take formal leave, expressing with
a melancholy countenance your sense of the delightfulness of the
evening, get to your chambers, and forget, over a broiled bone and a
bottle of Dublin stout, in what an infernal, prosy, thankless,
stone-faced, yellow-waistcoated, unsympathizing, unintellectual,
selfish, stupid set you have been condemned to pass an afternoon,
assisting, at the ostentatious exhibition of vulgar wealth, where
gulosity has been unrelieved by one single sally of wit, humour,
good-nature, humanity, or charity; where you come without a welcome, and
leave without a friend.

The whole art of the gentility-mongers of all sorts in London, and _a
fortiori_ of their wives and families, is to lay a tax upon social
intercourse as nearly as possible amounting to a prohibition; their
dinners are criminally wasteful, and sinfully extravagant to this end;
to this end they insist on making _price_ the test of what they are
pleased to consider _select society_ in their own sets, and they
consequently cannot have a dance without guinea tickets nor a _pic-nic_
without dozens of champagne. This shows their native ignorance and
vulgarity more than enough; genteel people go upon a plan directly
contrary, not merely enjoying themselves, but enjoying themselves
without extravagance or waste: in this respect the gentility-mongers
would do well to imitate people of fashion.

The exertions a gentility-monger will make, to rub his skirts against
people above him; the humiliations, mortifications, snubbing, he will
submit to, are almost incredible. One would hardly believe that a
retired tradesman, of immense wealth, and enjoying all the respect that
immense wealth will secure, should actually offer large sums of money to
a lady of fashion, as an inducement to procure for him cards of
invitation to her _set_, which he stated was the great object of his
existence. Instead of being indignant at his presumption, the lady in
question, pitying the poor man's folly, attempted to reason with him,
assuring him with great truth that whatever might be his wealth, his
power or desire of pleasing, he would be rendered unhappy and
ridiculous, by the mere dint of pretension to a circle to which he had
no legitimate claim, and advising him, as a friend, to attempt some more
laudable and satisfactory ambition.

All this good advice was, however, thrown away; our gentility-monger
persevered, contriving somehow to gain a passport to some of the _outer_
circles of fashionable life; was ridiculed, laughed at, and honoured
with the _soubriquet_ (he was a pianoforte maker) of the _Semi-Grand_!

We know another instance, where two young men, engaged in trade in the
city, took a splendid mansion at the West End, furnished it sumptuously,
got some desperate knight or baronet's widow to give parties at their
house, inviting whomsoever she thought proper, at their joint expense.
It is unnecessary to say, the poor fellows succeeded in getting into
good society, not indeed in the _Court Circular_, but in the--_Gazette_.

There is another class of gentility-mongers more to be pitied than the
last; those, namely, who are endeavouring to "make a connexion," as the
phrase is, by which they may gain advancement in their professions, and
are continually on the look-out for introductions to persons of quality,
their hangers-on and dependents. There is too much of this sort of thing
among medical men in London, the family nature of whose profession
renders connexion, private partiality, and personal favour, more
essential to them than to others. The lawyer, for example, need not be a
gentility-monger; he has only to get round attorneys, for the
opportunity to show what he can do, when he has done this, in which a
little toadying, "_on the sly_," is necessary--all the rest is easy. The
court and the public are his judges; his powers are at once appreciable,
his talent can be calculated, like the money in his pocket; he can now
go on straight forward, without valuing the individual preference or
aversion of any body.

But a profession where men make way through the whisperings of women,
and an inexhaustible variety of _sotto voce_ contrivances, must needs
have a tendency to create a subserviency of spirit and of manner, which
naturally directs itself into gentility-mongering: where realities, such
as medical experience, reading, and skill, are remotely, or not at all,
appreciable, we must take up with appearances; and of all appearances,
the appearance of proximity to people of fashion is the most taking and
seductive to people _not_ of fashion. It is for this reason that a
rising physician, if he happen to have a lord upon his sick or visiting
list, never has done telling his plebeian patients the particulars of
his noble case, which they swallow like almond milk, finding it an
excellent _placebo_.

As it is the interest of a gentility-monger, and his constant practice,
to be attended by a fashionable physician, in order that he may be
enabled continually to talk of what Sir Henry thinks of this, and how
Sir Henry objects to that, and the opinion of Sir Henry upon t'other, so
it is the business of the struggling doctor to be a gentility-monger,
with the better chance of becoming one day or other a fashionable
physician. Acting on this principle, the poor man must necessarily have
a house in a professional neighbourhood, which usually abuts upon a
neighbourhood fashionable or exclusive; he must hire a carriage by the
month, and be for ever stepping in and out of it, at his own door,
keeping it purposely bespattered with mud to show the extent of his
visiting acquaintance; he must give dinners to people "who _may_ be
useful," and be continually on the look-out for those lucky accidents
which have made the fortunes, and, as a matter of course, the _merit_,
of so many professional men.

He becomes a Fellow of the Royal Society, which gives him the chance of
conversing with a lord, and the right of entering a lord's (the
president's) house, which is turned into sandwich-shop four times a-year
for his reception; this, being the nearest approach he makes to
acquaintance with great personages, he values with the importance it

His servants, with famine legibly written on their bones, are assiduous
and civil; his wife, though half-starved, is very genteel, and at her
dinner parties burns candle-ends from the palace.[48]

[48] In a wax-chandler's shop in Piccadilly, opposite St.
James's Street, may be seen stumps, or, as the Scotch call
them, _doups_ of wax-lights, with the announcement "Candle-ends
from Buckingham Palace." These are eagerly bought up by the
gentility-mongers, who burn, or it may be, in the excess of
their loyalty, _eat_ them!

If you pay her a morning visit, you will have some such conversation as

"Pray, Mr ----, is there any news to-day?"

"Great distress, I understand, throughout the country."

"Indeed--the old story, shocking--very.--Pray, have you heard the
delightful news? The Princess-Royal has actually cut a tooth!"


"Yes, I assure you; and the sweet little royal love of a martyr has
borne it like a hero."


"Positively, I assure you; Doctor Tryiton has just returned from a
consultation with his friend Sir Henry, upon a particularly difficult
case--Lord Scruffskin--case of elephantiasis I think they call it, and
tells me that Sir Henry has arrives express from Windsor with the news."


"Do you think, Mr ----, there will be a general illumination?"

"Really, madam, I cannot say."

"_There ought to be_, [with emphasis.] You must know, Mr ----, Dr
Tryiton has forwarded to a high quarter a beautifully bound copy of his
work on ulcerated sore throat; he says there is a great analogy between
ulcers of the throat and den--den--den--something, I don't know
what--teething, in short. If nothing comes of it, Dr Tryiton, thank
Heaven, can do without it; but you know, Mr ----, it may, on a future
occasion, be _useful to our family_."

If there is, in the great world of London, one thing more spirit-sinking
than another, it is to see men condemned, by the necessities of an
overcrowded profession, to sink to the meannesses of pretension for a
desperate accident by which they may insure success. When one has had an
opportunity of being behind the scenes, and knowing what petty shifts,
what poor expedients of living, what anxiety of mind, are at the bottom
of all this empty show, one will not longer marvel that many born for
better things should sink under the difficulties of their position, or
that the newspapers so continually set forth the miserably unprovided
for condition in which they so often are compelled to leave their
families. To dissipate the melancholy that always oppresses us when
constrained to behold the ridiculous antics of the gentility-mongers,
which we chronicle only to endeavour at a reformation--let us contrast
the hospitality of those who, with wiser ambition, keep themselves, as
the saying is, "_to themselves_;" and, as a bright example, let us
recollect our old friend Joe Stimpson.

Joe Stimpson is a tanner and leather-seller in Bermondsey, the architect
of his own fortune, which he has raised to the respectable elevation of
somewhere about a quarter of a million sterling. He is now in his
seventy-second year, has a handsome house, without and pretension,
overlooking his tanyard. He has a joke upon prospects, calling you to
look from the drawing-room window at his tanpits, asking you if you ever
saw any thing like that at the west end of the town; replying in the
negative, Joe, chuckling, observes that it is the finest prospect _he_
ever saw in his life, and although he has been admiring it for half a
century, he has not done admiring it yet. Joe's capacity for the
humorous may be judged of by this specimen; but in attention to business
few can surpass him, while his hospitality can command a wit whenever he
chooses to angle for one with a good dinner. He has a wife, a venerable
old smiling lady in black silk, neat cap, and polished shoes; three
daughters, unmarried; and a couple of sons, brought up, after the London
fashion, to inherit their father's business, or, we might rather say,

Why the three Miss Stimpsons remain unmarried, we cannot say, nor would
it be decorous to enquire; but hearing them drop a hint now and then
about visits, "a considerable time ago," to Brighthelmstone and Bath, we
are led, however reluctantly in the case of ladies _now_ evangelical, to
conclude, their attention has formerly been directed to
gentility-mongering at these places of fashionable resort; the tanyard
acting as a repellent to husbands of a social position superior to their
own, and their great fortunes operating in deterring worthy persons of
their own station from addressing them; or being the means of inducing
them to be too prompt with refusals, these amiable middle-aged young
ladies are now "on hands," paying the penalty of one of the many curses
that pride of wealth brings in its train. At present, however, their
"affections are set on things above;" and, without meaning any thing
disrespectful to my friend Joe Stimpson, Sarah, Harriet, and Susan
Stimpson are certainly the three least agreeable members of the family.
The sons are, like all other sons in the houses of their fathers,
steady, business-like, unhappy, and dull; they look like fledged birds
in the nest of the old ones, out of place; neither servants nor masters,
their social position is somewhat equivocal, and having lived all their
lives in the house of their father, seeing as he sees, thinking as he
thinks, they can hardly be expected to appear more than a brace of
immature Joe Stimpsons. They are not, it is true, tainted with much of
the world's wickedness, neither have they its self-sustaining trials,
its hopes, its fears, its honest struggles, or that experience which is
gathered only by men who quit, when they can quit it, the petticoat
string, and the paternal despotism of even a happy home. As for the old
couple, time, although silvering the temples and furrowing the front, is
hardly seen to lay his heavy hand upon the shoulder of either, much less
to put his finger on eyes, ears, or lips--the two first being yet as
"wide awake," and the last as open to a joke, or any other good thing,
as ever they were; in sooth, it is no unpleasing sight to see this jolly
old couple with nearly three half centuries to answer for, their
affection unimpaired, faculties unclouded, and temper undisturbed by the
near approach, beyond hope of respite, of that stealthy foe whose
assured advent strikes terror to us all. Joe Stimpson, if he thinks of
death at all, thinks of him as a pitiful rascal, to be kicked down
stairs by the family physician; the Bible of the old lady is seldom far
from her hand, and its consolations are cheering, calming, and assuring.
The peevish fretfulness of age has nothing in common with man or wife,
unless when Joe, exasperated with his evangelical daughters' continual
absence at the class-meetings, and love-feasts, and prayer-meetings,
somewhat indignantly complains, that "so long as they can get to heaven,
they don't care who goes to ----," a place that Virgil and Tasso have
taken much pains in describing, but which the old gentleman sufficiently
indicates by one emphatic monosyllable.

Joe is a liberal-minded man, hates cant and humbug, and has no
prejudices--hating the French he will not acknowledge is a prejudice,
but considers the bounden duty of an Englishman; and, though fierce
enough upon other subjects of taxation, thinks no price too high for
drubbing them. He was once prevailed upon to attempt a journey to Paris;
but having got to Calais, insisted upon returning by the next packet,
swearing it was a shabby concern, and he had seen enough of it.

He takes in the _Gentleman's Magazine,_ because his father did it before
him--but he never reads it; he takes pride in a corpulent dog, which is
ever at his heels; he is afflicted with face-ache, and swears at any
body who calls it _tic-douloureux._

When you go to dine with him, you are met at the door by a rosy-checked
lass, with ribands in her cap, who smiles a hearty welcome, and assures
you, though an utter stranger, of the character of the house and its
owner. You are conducted to the drawing-room, a plain, substantial,
_honest_-looking apartment; there you find the old couple, and are
received with a warmth that gives assurance of the nearest approach to
what is understood by _home_. The sons, released from business, arrive,
shake you heartily by the hand, and are really glad to see you; of the
daughters we say nothing, as there is nothing in _them_.

The other guests of the day come dropping in--all straightforward,
business-like, free, frank-hearted fellows--aristocrats of wealth, the
best, because the _unpretending_, of their class; they come, too,
_before_ their time, for they know their man, and that Joe Stimpson
keeps nobody waiting for nobody. When the clock--for here is no
_gong_--strikes five, you descend to dinner; plain, plentiful, good, and
well dressed; no tedious course, with long intervals between; no
oppressive _set-out_ of superfluous plate, and what, perhaps, is not the
least agreeable accessory, no piebald footmen hanging over your chair,
whisking away your plate before you have done with it, and watching
every bit you put into your mouth.

Your cherry-cheeked friend and another, both in the family from
childhood, (another good sign of the house,) and looking as if they
really were glad--and so they are--to have an opportunity of obliging
you, do the servitorial offices of the table; you are sure of a glass of
old sherry, and you may call for strong beer, or old port, with your
cheese--or, if a Scotchman, for a dram--without any other remark than an
invitation to "try it again, and make yourself comfortable."

After dinner, you are invited, as a young man, to smoke a cigar with the
"boys," as Joe persists in calling them. You ascend to a bed-room, and
are requested to keep your head out o' window while smoking, lest the
"Governor" should snuff the fumes when he comes up stairs to bed: while
you are "craning" your neck, the cherry-cheeked lass enters with brandy
and water, and you are as merry and easy as possible. The rest of the
evening passes away in the same unrestrained interchange of friendly
courtesy; nor are you permitted to take your leave without a promise to
dine on the next Sunday or holiday--Mrs Stimpson rating you for not
coming last Easter Sunday, and declaring she cannot think "why young men
should mope by themselves, when she is always happy to see them."

Honour to Joe Stimpson and his missus! They have the true _ring_ of the
ancient coin of hospitality; none of your hollow-sounding _raps_: they
know they have what I want, _a home_, and they will not allow me, at
their board, to know that I want one: they compassionate a lonely,
isolated man, and are ready to share with him the hearty cheer and
unaffected friendliness of their English fireside: they know that they
can get nothing by me, nor do they ever dream of an acknowledgment for
their kindness; but I owe them for many a social day redeemed from
cheerless solitude; many an hour of strenuous labour do I owe to the
relaxation of the old wainscotted dining-room at Bermondsey.

Honour to Joe Stimpson, and to all who are satisfied with their station,
happy in their home, have no repinings after empty sounds of rank and
shows of life; and who extend the hand of friendly fellowship to the
homeless, _because they have no home_!


"There is a quantity of talent latent among men, ever rising to
the level of the great occasions that call it forth."

This illustration, borrowed by Sir James Mackintosh from chemical
science, and so happily applied, may serve to indicate the undoubted
truth, that talent is a _growth_ as much as a _gift_; that circumstances
call out and develop its latent powers; that as soil, flung upon the
surface from the uttermost penetrable depths of earth, will be found to
contain long-dormant germs of vegetable life, so the mind of man, acted
upon by circumstances, will ever be found equal to a certain sum of
production--the amount of which will be chiefly determined by the force
and direction of the external influence which first set it in motion.

The more we reflect upon this important subject, we shall find the more,
that external circumstances have an influence upon intellect, increasing
in an accumulating ratio; that the political institutions of various
countries have their fluctuating and contradictory influences; that
example controls in a great degree intellectual production, causing
after-growths, as it were, of the first luxuriant crop of masterminds,
and giving a character and individuality to habits of thought and modes
of expression; in brief, that great occasions will have great
instruments, and there never was yet a noted time that had not noted
men. Dull, jog-trot, money-making, commercial times will make, if they
do not find, dull, jog-trot, money-making, commercial men: in times when
ostentation and expense are the measures of respect, when men live
rather for the world's opinion than their own, poverty becomes not only
the evil but the shame, not only the curse but the disgrace, and will be
shunned by every man as a pestilence; every one will fling away
immortality, to avoid it; will sink, as far as he can, his art in his
trade; and _he_ will be the greatest genius who can turn most money.

It may be urged that true genius has the power not only to _take_
opportunities, but to make them: true, it may make such opportunities as
the time in which it lives affords; but these opportunities will be
great or small, noble or ignoble, as the time is eventful or otherwise.
All depends upon the time, and you might as well have expected a Low
Dutch epic poet in the time of the great herring fishery, as a Napoleon,
a Demosthenes, a Cicero in this, by some called the nineteenth, but
which we take leave to designate the "_dot-and-carry-one_" century. If a
Napoleon were to arise at any corner of any London street, not five
seconds would elapse until he would be "_hooked_" off to the
station-house by Superintendent DOGSNOSE of the D division, with an
exulting mob of men and boys hooting at his heels: if Demosthenes or
Cicero, disguised as Chartist orators, mounting a tub at Deptford, were
to Philippicize, or entertain this motley auditory with speeches against
Catiline or Verres, straightway the Superintendent of the X division,
with a _posse_ of constables at his heels, dismounts the patriot orator
from his tub, and hands him over to a plain-spoken business-like justice
of the peace, who regards an itinerant Cicero in the same unsympathizing
point of view with any other vagabond.

What is become of the eloquence of the bar? Why is it that flowery
orators find no grist coming to their mills? How came it that, at
Westminster Hall, Charles Philips missed his market? What is the reason,
that if you step into the Queen's Bench, or Common Pleas, or Exchequer,
you will hear no such thing as a speech--behold no such animal as an
orator--only a shrewd, plain, hard-working, steady man, called an
attorney-general, or a sergeant, or a leading counsel, quietly talking
over a matter of law with the judge, or a matter of fact with the jury,
like men of business as they are, and shunning, as they would a
rattlesnake, all clap-trap arguments, figures, flowers, and the obsolete
embroidery of rhetoric?

The days of romantic eloquence are fled--the great constitutional
questions that called forth "thoughts that breathe, and words that
burn," from men like Erskine, are _determined_. Would you have men
oratorical over a bottomry bond, Demosthenic about an action of trespass
on the case, or a rule to compute?

To be sure, when Follett practised before committees of the House of
Commons, and, by chance, any question involving points of interest and
difficulty in Parliamentary law and practice came before the Court,
there was something worth hearing: the _opportunity_ drew out the _man_,
and the _orator_ stepped before the _advocate_. Even now, sometimes, it
is quite refreshing to get a topic in these Courts worthy of Austin, and
Austin working at it. But no man need go to look for orators in our
ordinary courts of law; judgment, patience, reading, and that rare
compound of qualities known and appreciated by the name of _tact_, tell
with judges, and influence juries; the days of _palaver_ are gone, and
the talking heroes extinguished for ever.

All this is well known in London; but the three or four millions (it may
be _five_) of great men, philosophers, poets, orators, patriots, and the
like, in the rural districts, require to be informed of this our
declension from the heroics, in order to appreciate, or at least to
understand, the modesty, sobriety, business-like character, and division
of labour, in the vast amount of talent abounding in every department of
life in London.

London overflows with talent. You may compare it, for the purpose of
illustration, to one of George Robins' patent filters, into which pours
turbid torrents of Thames water, its sediment, mud, dirt, weeds, and
rottenness; straining through the various _strata_, its grosser
particles are arrested in their course, and nothing that is not pure,
transparent, and limpid is transmitted. In the great filter of London
life, conceit, pretension, small provincial abilities, _pseudo_-talent,
_soi-disant_ intellect, are tried, rejected, and flung out again. True
genius is tested by judgment, fastidiousness, emulation, difficulty,
privation; and, passing through many ordeals, persevering, makes its way
through all; and at length, in the fulness of time, flows forth, in
acknowledged purity and refinement, upon the town.

There is a perpetual onward, upward tendency in the talent, both high
and low, mechanical and intellectual, that abounds in London:

"Emulation hath a thousand sons,"

who are ever and always following fast upon your heels. There is no time
to dawdle or linger on the road, no "stop and go on again:" if you but
step aside to fasten your shoe-tie, your place is occupied--you are
edged off, pushed out of the main current, and condemned to circle
slowly in the lazy eddy of some complimenting clique. Thousands are to
be found, anxious and able to take your place; while hardly one misses
you, or turns his head to look after you should you lose your own: you
_live_ but while you _labour_, and are no longer remembered than while
you are reluctant to repose.

Talent of all kinds brings forth perfect fruits, only when concentrated
upon one object: no matter how versatile men may be, mankind has a wise
and salutary prejudice against diffused talent; for although _knowledge_
diffused immortalizes itself, diffused _talent_ is but a shallow pool,
glittering in the noonday sun, and soon evaporated; _concentrated_, it
is a well, from whose depths perpetually may we draw the limpid waters.
Therefore is the talent of London concentrated, and the division of
labour minute. When we talk of a lawyer, a doctor, a man of letters, in
a provincial place, we recognize at once a man who embraces all that his
opportunities present him with, in whatever department of his
profession. The lawyer is, at one and the same time, advocate, chamber
counsel, conveyancer, pleader; the doctor an accoucheur, apothecary,
physician, surgeon, dentist, or at least, in a greater or less degree,
unites in his own person, these--in London, distinct and
separate--professions, according as his sphere of action is narrow or
extended; the country journalist is sometimes proprietor, editor,
sub-editor, traveller, and canvasser, or two or more of these
heterogeneous and incompatible avocations. The result is, an obvious,
appreciable, and long-established superiority in that product which is
the result of minutely divided labour.

The manufacture of a London watch or piano will employ, each, at least
twenty trades, exclusive of the preparers, importers, and venders of the
raw material used in these articles; every one of these tradesmen shall
be nay, _must_ be, the best of their class, or at least the best that
can be obtained; and for this purpose, the inducements of high wages are
held out to workmen generally, and their competition for employment
enables the manufacturer to secure the most skilful. It is just the same
with a broken-down constitution, or a lawsuit: the former shall be
placed under the care of a lung-doctor, a liver-doctor, a heart-doctor,
a dropsy-doctor, or whatever other doctor is supposed best able to
understand the case; each of these doctors shall have read lectures and
published books, and made himself known for his study and exclusive
attention to one of the "thousand ills that flesh is heir to:" the
latter shall go through the hands of dozens of men skilful in that
branch of the law connected with the particular injury. So it is with
every thing else of production, mechanical or intellectual, or both,
that London affords: the extent of the market permits the minute
division of labour, and the minute division of labour reacts upon the
market, raising the price of its produce, and branding it with the signs
of a legitimate superiority.

Hence the superior intelligence of working men, of all classes, high and
low, in the World of London; hence that striving after excellence, that
never-ceasing tendency to advance in whatever they are engaged in, that
so distinguishes the people of this wonderful place; hence the
improvements of to-day superseded by the improvements of to-morrow;
hence speculation, enterprize, unknown to the inhabitants of less
extended spheres of action.

Competition, emulation, and high wages give us an aristocracy of talent,
genius, skill, _tact_, or whatever you like to call it; but you are by
no means to understand that any of these aristocracies, or better
classes, stand prominently before their fellows _socially_, or, that one
is run after in preference to another; nobody runs after anybody in the
World of London.

In this respect, no capital, no country on the face of the earth,
resembles us; every where else you will find a leading class, giving a
tone to society, and moulding it in some one or other direction; a
predominating _set_, the pride of those who are _in_, the envy of those
who are _below_ it. There is nothing of this kind in London; here every
man has his own set, and every man his proper pride. In every set,
social or professional, there are great names, successful men, prominent;
but the set is nothing the greater for them: no man sheds any lustre
upon his fellows, nor is a briefless barrister a whit more thought of
because he and Lyndhurst are of the same profession.

Take a look at other places: in money-getting places, you find society
following, like so many dogs, the aristocracy of 'Change: every man
knows the worth of every other man, that is to say, _what_ he is worth.

A good man, elsewhere a relative term, is _there_ a man good for _so_
much; hats are elevated and bodies depressed upon a scale of ten
thousand pounds to an inch; "I hope you are well," from one of the
aristocracy of these places is always translated to mean, "I hope you
are solvent," and "how d'ye do?" from another, is equivalent to "doing a

Go abroad, to Rome for example--You are smothered beneath the petticoats
of an ecclesiastical aristocracy. Go to the northern courts of
Europe--You are ill-received, or perhaps not received at all, save in
military uniform; the aristocracy of the epaulet meets you at every
turn, and if you are not at least an ensign of militia, you are nothing.
Make your way into Germany--What do you find there? an aristocracy of
functionaries, mobs of nobodies living upon everybodies; from Herr Von,
Aulic councillor, and Frau Von, Aulic councilloress, down to Herr Von,
crossing-sweeper, and Frau Von, crossing-sweeperess--for the women there
must be _better_-half even in their titles--you find society led, or, to
speak more correctly, society _consisting_ of functionaries, and they,
every office son of them, and their wives--nay, their very curs--alike
insolent and dependent. "Tray, Blanche, and Sweetheart, see they bark at
_me_!" There, to get into society, you must first get into a place: you
must contrive to be the _servant_ of the public before you are permitted
to be the _master_: you must be paid by, before you are in a condition
to despise, the _canaille_.

Passing Holland and Belgium as more akin to the genius of the English
people, as respects the supremacy of honest industry, its independent
exercise, and the comparative insignificance of aristocracies,
conventionally so called, we come to FRANCE: there we find a provincial
and a Parisian aristocracy--the former a servile mob of placemen, one in
fifty, at least, of the whole population; and the latter--oh! my poor
head, what a _clanjaffrey_ of _journalistes, feuilletonistes, artistes_,
dramatists, novelists, _vaudivellistes_, poets, literary ladies, lovers
of literary ladies, _hommes de lettres, claqueurs, litterateurs,
gerants, censeurs, rapporteurs_, and _le diable boiteux_ verily knows
what else!

These people, with whom, or at least with a great majority of whom,
common sense, sobriety of thought, consistency of purpose, steady
determination in action, and sound reasoning, are so sadly eclipsed by
their vivacity, _empressement_, prejudice, and party zeal, form a
prominent, indeed, _the_ prominent aristocracy of the _salons_: and only
conceive what must be the state of things in France, when we know that
Paris acts upon the provinces, and that Paris is acted upon by this
foolscap aristocracy, without station, or, what is perhaps worse,
enjoying station without property; abounding in maddening and exciting
influences, but lamentably deficient in those hard-headed,
_ungenius-like_ qualities of patience, prudence, charity, forbearance,
and peace-lovings, of which their war-worn nation, more than any other
in Europe, stands in need.

When, in the name of goodness, is the heart of the philanthropist to be
gladdened with the desire of peace fulfilled over the earth? When are
paltry family intrigues to cease, causing the blood of innocent
thousands to be shed? When will the aristocracy of genius in France give
over jingling, like castanets, their trashy rhymes "_gloire_" and
"_victoire_," and apply themselves to objects worthy of creatures
endowed with the faculty of reason? Or, if they must have fighting, if
it is their nature, if the prime instinct with them is the thirst of
human blood, how cowardly, how paltry, is it to hound on their
fellow-countrymen to war with England, to war with Spain, to war with
every body, while snug in their offices, doing their little best to
bleed nations with their pen!

Why does not the foolscap aristocracy rush forth, inkhorn in hand, and
restore the glories (as they call them) of the Empire, nor pause till
they mend their pens victorious upon the brink of the Rhine.

To resume: the aristocracies of our provincial capitals are those of
literature in the one, and lickspittling in the other: mercantile towns
have their aristocracies of money, or muckworm aristocracies: Rome has
an ecclesiastical--Prussia, Russia, military aristocracies: Germany, an
aristocracy of functionaries: France has two, or even three, great
aristocracies--the military, place-hunting, and foolscap.

Now, then, attend to what we are going to say: London is cursed with no
predominating, no overwhelming, no _characteristic_ aristocracy. There
is no _set_ or _clique_ of any sort or description of men that you can
point to, and say, that's the London set. We turn round and desire to be
informed what set do you mean: every _salon_ has its set, and every
pot-house its set also; and the frequenters of each set are neither
envious of the position of the other, nor dissatisfied with their own:
the pretenders to fashion, or hangers-on upon the outskirts of high
life, are alone the servile set, or spaniel set, who want the proper
self-respecting pride which every distinct aristocracy maintains in the
World of London.

We are a great firmament, a moonless azure, glowing with stars of all
magnitudes, and myriads of _nebulae_ of no magnitudes at all: we move
harmoniously in our several orbits, minding our own business, satisfied
with our position, thinking, it may be, with harmless vanity, that we
bestow more light upon earth than any ten, and that the eyes of all
terrestrial stargazers are upon us. Adventurers, pretenders, and quacks,
are our meteors, our _aurorae_, our comets, our falling-stars, shooting
athwart our hemisphere, and exhaling into irretrievable darkness: our
tuft-hunters are satellites of Jupiter, invisible to the naked eye: our
clear frosty atmosphere that sets us all a-twinkling is prosperity, and
we, too have our clouds that hide us from the eyes of men. The noonday
of our own bustling time beholds us dimly; but posterity regards us as


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