William Makepeace Thackeray
Part 2 out of 4
word; and I've settled every farthing of Mrs. Walker's fifteen
thousand on herself." And the best proof that the world had
confidence in him is the fact, that for the articles of plate,
equipage, and furniture, which have been mentioned as being in his
possession, he did not pay one single shilling; and so prudent was
he, that but for turnpikes, postage-stamps, and king's taxes, he
hardly had occasion to change a five-pound note of his wife's
To tell the truth, Mr. Walker had determined to make his fortune.
And what is easier in London? Is not the share-market open to all?
Do not Spanish and Columbian bonds rise and fall? For what are
companies invented, but to place thousands in the pockets of
shareholders and directors? Into these commercial pursuits the
gallant Captain now plunged with great energy, and made some
brilliant hits at first starting, and bought and sold so
opportunely, that his name began to rise in the City as a
capitalist, and might be seen in the printed list of directors of
many excellent and philanthropic schemes, of which there is never
any lack in London. Business to the amount of thousands was done at
his agency; shares of vast value were bought and sold under his
management. How poor Mr. Eglantine used to hate him and envy him,
as from the door of his emporium (the firm was Eglantine and
Mossrose now) he saw the Captain daily arrive in his pony-phaeton,
and heard of the start he had taken in life.
The only regret Mrs. Walker had was that she did not enjoy enough of
her husband's society. His business called him away all day; his
business, too, obliged him to leave her of evenings very frequently
alone; whilst he (always in pursuit of business) was dining with his
great friends at the club, and drinking claret and champagne to the
She was a perfectly good-natured and simple soul, never made him a
single reproach; but when he could pass an evening at home with her
she was delighted, and when he could drive with her in the Park she
was happy for a week after. On these occasions, and in the fulness
of her heart, she would drive to her mother and tell her story.
"Howard drove with me in the Park yesterday, Mamma;" and "Howard has
promised to take me to the Opera," and so forth. And that evening
the manager, Mr. Gawler, the first tragedian, Mrs. Serle and her
forty pupils, all the box-keepers, bonnet-women--nay, the
ginger-beer girls themselves at "The Wells," knew that Captain and
Mrs. Walker were at Kensington Gardens, or were to have the
Marchioness of Billingsgate's box at the Opera. One night--O joy of
joys!--Mrs. Captain Walker appeared in a private box at "The Wells."
That's she with the black ringlets and Cashmere shawl,
smelling-bottle, and black-velvet gown, and bird of paradise in her
hat. Goodness gracious! how they all acted at her, Gawler and all,
and how happy Mrs. Crump was! She kissed her daughter between all
the acts, she nodded to all her friends on the stage, in the slips,
or in the real water; she introduced her daughter, Mrs. Captain
Walker, to the box-opener; and Melvil Delamere (the first comic),
Canterfield (the tyrant), and Jonesini (the celebrated Fontarabian
Statuesque), were all on the steps, and shouted for Mrs. Captain
Walker's carriage, and waved their hats, and bowed as the little
pony-phaeton drove away. Walker, in his moustaches, had come in at
the end of the play, and was not a little gratified by the
compliments paid to himself and lady.
Among the other articles of luxury with which the Captain furnished
his house we must not omit to mention an extremely grand piano,
which occupied four-fifths of Mrs. Walker's little back
drawing-room, and at which she was in the habit of practising
continually. All day and all night during Walker's absences (and
these occurred all night and all day), you might hear--the whole
street might hear--the voice of the lady at No. 23, gurgling, and
shaking, and quavering, as ladies do when they practise. The street
did not approve of the continuance of the noise; but neighbours are
difficult to please, and what would Morgiana have had to do if she
had ceased to sing? It would be hard to lock a blackbird in a cage
and prevent him from singing too. And so Walker's blackbird, in the
snug little cage in the Edgware Road, sang and was not unhappy.
After the pair had been married for about a year, the omnibus that
passes both by Mrs. Crump's house near "The Wells," and by Mrs.
Walker's street off the Edgware Road, brought up the former-named
lady almost every day to her daughter. She came when the Captain
had gone to his business; she stayed to a two-o'clock dinner with
Morgiana; she drove with her in the pony-carriage round the Park;
but she never stopped later than six. Had she not to go to the play
at seven? And, besides, the Captain might come home with some of
his great friends, and he always swore and grumbled much if he found
his mother-in-law on the premises. As for Morgiana, she was one of
those women who encourage despotism in husbands. What the husband
says must be right, because he says it; what he orders must be
obeyed tremblingly. Mrs. Walker gave up her entire reason to her
lord. Why was it? Before marriage she had been an independent
little person; she had far more brains than her Howard. I think it
must have been his moustaches that frightened her, and caused in her
Selfish husbands have this advantage in maintaining with easy-minded
wives a rigid and inflexible behaviour, viz. that if they DO by any
chance grant a little favour, the ladies receive it with such
transports of gratitude as they would never think of showing to a
lord and master who was accustomed to give them everything they
asked for; and hence, when Captain Walker signified his assent to
his wife's prayer that she should take a singing-master, she thought
his generosity almost divine, and fell upon her mamma's neck, when
that lady came the next day, and said what a dear adorable angel her
Howard was, and what ought she not to do for a man who had taken her
from her humble situation, and raised her to be what she was! What
she was, poor soul! She was the wife of a swindling parvenu
gentleman. She received visits from six ladies of her husband's
acquaintances--two attorneys' ladies, his bill-broker's lady, and
one or two more, of whose characters we had best, if you please, say
nothing; and she thought it an honour to be so distinguished: as if
Walker had been a Lord Exeter to marry a humble maiden, or a noble
prince to fall in love with a humble Cinderella, or a majestic Jove
to come down from heaven and woo a Semele. Look through the world,
respectable reader, and among your honourable acquaintances, and say
if this sort of faith in women is not very frequent? They WILL
believe in their husbands, whatever the latter do. Let John be
dull, ugly, vulgar, and a humbug, his Mary Ann never finds it out;
let him tell his stories ever so many times, there is she always
ready with her kind smile; let him be stingy, she says he is
prudent; let him quarrel with his best friend, she says he is always
in the right; let him be prodigal, she says he is generous, and that
his health requires enjoyment; let him be idle, he must have
relaxation; and she will pinch herself and her household that he may
have a guinea for his club. Yes; and every morning, as she wakes
and looks at the face, snoring on the pillow by her side--every
morning, I say, she blesses that dull ugly countenance, and the dull
ugly soul reposing there, and thinks both are something divine. I
want to know how it is that women do not find out their husbands to
be humbugs? Nature has so provided it, and thanks to her. When
last year they were acting the "Midsummer Night's Dream," and all
the boxes began to roar with great coarse heehaws at Titania hugging
Bottom's long long ears--to me, considering these things, it seemed
that there were a hundred other male brutes squatted round about,
and treated just as reasonably as Bottom was. Their Titanias lulled
them to sleep in their laps, summoned a hundred smiling delicate
household fairies to tickle their gross intellects and minister to
their vulgar pleasures; and (as the above remarks are only supposed
to apply to honest women loving their own lawful spouses) a mercy it
is that no wicked Puck is in the way to open their eyes, and point
out their folly. Cui bono? let them live on in their deceit: I
know two lovely ladies who will read this, and will say it is just
very likely, and not see in the least, that it has been written
Another point of sentiment, and one curious to speculate on. Have
you not remarked the immense works of art that women get through?
The worsted-work sofas, the counterpanes patched or knitted (but
these are among the old-fashioned in the country), the bushels of
pincushions, the albums they laboriously fill, the tremendous pieces
of music they practise, the thousand other fiddle-faddles which
occupy the attention of the dear souls--nay, have we not seen them
seated of evenings in a squad or company, Louisa employed at the
worsted-work before mentioned, Eliza at the pincushions, Amelia at
card-racks or filagree matches, and, in the midst, Theodosia with
one of the candles, reading out a novel aloud? Ah! my dear sir,
mortal creatures must be very hard put to it for amusement, be sure
of that, when they are forced to gather together in a company and
hear novels read aloud! They only do it because they can't help it,
depend upon it: it is a sad life, a poor pastime. Mr. Dickens, in
his American book, tells of the prisoners at the silent prison, how
they had ornamented their rooms, some of them with a frightful
prettiness and elaboration. Women's fancy-work is of this sort
often--only prison work, done because there was no other
exercising-ground for their poor little thoughts and fingers; and
hence these wonderful pincushions are executed, these counterpanes
woven, these sonatas learned. By everything sentimental, when I see
two kind innocent fresh-cheeked young women go to a piano, and sit
down opposite to it upon two chairs piled with more or less
music-books (according to their convenience), and, so seated, go
through a set of double-barrelled variations upon this or that tune
by Herz or Kalkbrenner--I say, far from receiving any satisfaction
at the noise made by the performance, my too susceptible heart is
given up entirely to bleeding for the performers. What hours, and
weeks, nay, preparatory years of study, has that infernal jig cost
them! What sums has papa paid, what scoldings has mamma
administered ("Lady Bullblock does not play herself;" Sir Thomas
says, "but she has naturally the finest ear for music ever known!");
what evidences of slavery, in a word, are there! It is the
condition of the young lady's existence. She breakfasts at eight,
she does "Mangnall's Questions" with the governess till ten, she
practises till one, she walks in the square with bars round her till
two, then she practises again, then she sews or hems, or reads
French, or Hume's "History," then she comes down to play to papa,
because he likes music whilst he is asleep after dinner, and then it
is bed-time, and the morrow is another day with what are called the
same "duties" to be gone through. A friend of mine went to call at
a nobleman's house the other day, and one of the young ladies of the
house came into the room with a tray on her head; this tray was to
give Lady Maria a graceful carriage. Mon Dieu! and who knows but at
that moment Lady Bell was at work with a pair of her dumb namesakes,
and Lady Sophy lying flat on a stretching-board? I could write
whole articles on this theme but peace! we are keeping Mrs. Walker
waiting all the while.
Well, then, if the above disquisitions have anything to do with the
story, as no doubt they have, I wish it to be understood that,
during her husband's absence, and her own solitary confinement, Mrs.
Howard Walker bestowed a prodigious quantity of her time and energy
on the cultivation of her musical talent; and having, as before
stated, a very fine loud voice, speedily attained no ordinary skill
in the use of it. She first had for teacher little Podmore, the fat
chorus-master at "The Wells," and who had taught her mother the
"Tink-a-tink" song which has been such a favourite since it first
appeared. He grounded her well, and bade her eschew the singing of
all those "Eagle Tavern" ballads in which her heart formerly
delighted; and when he had brought her to a certain point of skill,
the honest little chorus-master said she should have a still better
instructor, and wrote a note to Captain Walker (enclosing his own
little account), speaking in terms of the most flattering encomium
of his lady's progress, and recommending that she should take
lessons of the celebrated Baroski. Captain Walker dismissed Podmore
then, and engaged Signor Baroski, at a vast expense; as he did not
fail to tell his wife. In fact, he owed Baroski no less than two
hundred and twenty guineas when he was-- But we are advancing
Little Baroski is the author of the opera of "Eliogabalo," of the
oratorio of "Purgatorio," which made such an immense sensation, of
songs and ballet-musics innumerable. He is a German by birth, and
shows such an outrageous partiality for pork and sausages, and
attends at church so constantly, that I am sure there cannot be any
foundation in the story that he is a member of the ancient religion.
He is a fat little man, with a hooked nose and jetty whiskers, and
coal-black shining eyes, and plenty of rings and jewels on his
fingers and about his person, and a very considerable portion of his
shirtsleeves turned over his coat to take the air. His great hands
(which can sprawl over half a piano, and produce those effects on
the instrument for which he is celebrated) are encased in
lemon-coloured kids, new, or cleaned daily. Parenthetically, let us
ask why so many men, with coarse red wrists and big hands, persist
in the white kid glove and wristband system? Baroski's gloves alone
must cost him a little fortune; only he says with a leer, when asked
the question, "Get along vid you; don't you know dere is a gloveress
that lets me have dem very sheap?" He rides in the Park; has
splendid lodgings in Dover Street; and is a member of the "Regent
Club," where he is a great source of amusement to the members, to
whom he tells astonishing stories of his successes with the ladies,
and for whom he has always play and opera tickets in store. His eye
glistens and his little heart beats when a lord speaks to him; and
he has been known to spend large sums of money in giving treats to
young sprigs of fashion at Richmond and elsewhere. "In my
bolyticks," he says, "I am consarevatiff to de bag-bone." In fine,
he is a puppy, and withal a man of considerable genius in his
This gentleman, then, undertook to complete the musical education of
Mrs. Walker. He expressed himself at once "enshanted vid her
gababilities," found that the extent of her voice was "brodigious,"
and guaranteed that she should become a first-rate singer. The
pupil was apt, the master was exceedingly skilful; and, accordingly,
Mrs. Walker's progress was very remarkable: although, for her part,
honest Mrs. Crump, who used to attend her daughter's lessons, would
grumble not a little at the new system, and the endless exercises
which she, Morgiana, was made to go through. It was very different
in HER time, she said. Incledon knew no music, and who could sing
so well now? Give her a good English ballad: it was a thousand
times sweeter than your "Figaros" and "Semiramides."
In spite of these objections, however, and with amazing perseverance
and cheerfulness, Mrs. Walker pursued the method of study pointed
out to her by her master. As soon as her husband went to the City
in the morning her operations began; if he remained away at dinner,
her labours still continued: nor is it necessary for me to
particularise her course of study, nor, indeed, possible; for,
between ourselves, none of the male Fitz-Boodles ever could sing a
note, and the jargon of scales and solfeggios is quite unknown to
me. But as no man can have seen persons addicted to music without
remarking the prodigious energies they display in the pursuit, as
there is no father of daughters, however ignorant, but is aware of
the piano-rattling and voice-exercising which go on in his house
from morning till night, so let all fancy, without further inquiry,
how the heroine of our story was at this stage of her existence
Walker was delighted with her progress, and did everything but pay
Baroski, her instructor. We know why he didn't pay. It was his
nature not to pay bills, except on extreme compulsion; but why did
not Baroski employ that extreme compulsion? Because, if he had
received his money, he would have lost his pupil, and because he
loved his pupil more than money. Rather than lose her, he would
have given her a guinea as well as her cachet. He would sometimes
disappoint a great personage, but he never missed his attendance on
HER; and the truth must out, that he was in love with her, as
Woolsey and Eglantine had been before.
"By the immortel Chofe!" he would say, "dat letell ding sents me mad
vid her big ice! But only vait avile: in six veeks I can bring any
voman in England on her knees to me and you shall see vat I vill do
vid my Morgiana." He attended her for six weeks punctually, and yet
Morgiana was never brought down on her knees; he exhausted his best
stock of "gomblimends," and she never seemed disposed to receive
them with anything but laughter. And, as a matter of course, he
only grew more infatuated with the lovely creature who was so
provokingly good-humoured and so laughingly cruel.
Benjamin Baroski was one of the chief ornaments of the musical
profession in London; he charged a guinea for a lesson of
three-quarters of an hour abroad, and he had, furthermore, a school
at his own residence, where pupils assembled in considerable
numbers, and of that curious mixed kind which those may see who
frequent these places of instruction. There were very innocent
young ladies with their mammas, who would hurry them off trembling
to the farther corner of the room when certain doubtful professional
characters made their appearance. There was Miss Grigg, who sang at
the "Foundling," and Mr. Johnson, who sang at the "Eagle Tavern,"
and Madame Fioravanti (a very doubtful character), who sang nowhere,
but was always coming out at the Italian Opera. There was Lumley
Limpiter (Lord Tweedledale's son), one of the most accomplished
tenors in town, and who, we have heard, sings with the professionals
at a hundred concerts; and with him, too, was Captain Guzzard, of
the Guards, with his tremendous bass voice, which all the world
declared to be as fine as Porto's, and who shared the applause of
Baroski's school with Mr. Bulger, the dentist of Sackville Street,
who neglected his ivory and gold plates for his voice, as every
unfortunate individual will do who is bitten by the music mania.
Then among the ladies there were a half-score of dubious pale
governesses and professionals with turned frocks and lank damp
bandeaux of hair under shabby little bonnets; luckless creatures
these, who were parting with their poor little store of half-guineas
to be enabled to say they were pupils of Signor Baroski, and so get
pupils of their own among the British youths, or employment in the
choruses of the theatres.
The prima donna of the little company was Amelia Larkins, Baroski's
own articled pupil, on whose future reputation the eminent master
staked his own, whose profits he was to share, and whom he had
farmed, to this end, from her father, a most respectable sheriff's
officer's assistant, and now, by his daughter's exertions, a
considerable capitalist. Amelia is blonde and blue-eyed, her
complexion is as bright as snow, her ringlets of the colour of
straw, her figure--but why describe her figure? Has not all the
world seen her at the Theatres Royal and in America under the name
of Miss Ligonier?
Until Mrs. Walker arrived, Miss Larkins was the undisputed princess
of the Baroski company--the Semiramide, the Rosina, the Tamina, the
Donna Anna. Baroski vaunted her everywhere as the great rising
genius of the day, bade Catalani look to her laurels, and questioned
whether Miss Stephens could sing a ballad like his pupil. Mrs.
Howard Walker arrived, and created, on the first occasion, no small
sensation. She improved, and the little society became speedily
divided into Walkerites and Larkinsians; and between these two
ladies (as indeed between Guzzard and Bulger before mentioned,
between Miss Brunck and Miss Horsman, the two contraltos, and
between the chorus-singers, after their kind) a great rivalry arose.
Larkins was certainly the better singer; but could her
straw-coloured curls and dumpy high-shouldered figure bear any
comparison with the jetty ringlets and stately form of Morgiana?
Did not Mrs. Walker, too, come to the music-lesson in her carriage,
and with a black velvet gown and Cashmere shawl, while poor Larkins
meekly stepped from Bell Yard, Temple Bar, in an old print gown and
clogs, which she left in the hall? "Larkins sing!" said Mrs. Crump,
sarcastically; "I'm sure she ought; her mouth's big enough to sing a
duet." Poor Larkins had no one to make epigrams in her behoof; her
mother was at home tending the younger ones, her father abroad
following the duties of his profession; she had but one protector,
as she thought, and that one was Baroski. Mrs. Crump did not fail
to tell Lumley Limpiter of her own former triumphs, and to sing him
"Tink-a-tink," which we have previously heard, and to state how in
former days she had been called the Ravenswing. And Lumley, on this
hint, made a poem, in which he compared Morgiana's hair to the
plumage of the Raven's wing, and Larkinissa's to that of the canary;
by which two names the ladies began soon to be known in the school.
Ere long the flight of the Ravenswing became evidently stronger,
whereas that of the canary was seen evidently to droop. When
Morgiana sang, all the room would cry "Bravo!" when Amelia
performed, scarce a hand was raised for applause of her, except
Morgiana's own, and that the Larkinses thought was lifted in odious
triumph, rather than in sympathy, for Miss L. was of an envious
turn, and little understood the generosity of her rival.
At last, one day, the crowning victory of the Ravenswing came. In
the trio of Baroski's own opera of "Eliogabalo," "Rosy lips and rosy
wine," Miss Larkins, who was evidently unwell, was taking the part
of the English captive, which she had sung in public concerts before
royal dukes, and with considerable applause, and, from some reason,
performed it so ill, that Baroski, slapping down the music on the
piano in a fury, cried, "Mrs. Howard Walker, as Miss Larkins cannot
sing to-day, will you favour us by taking the part of Boadicetta?"
Mrs. Walker got up smilingly to obey--the triumph was too great to
be withstood; and, as she advanced to the piano, Miss Larkins looked
wildly at her, and stood silent for a while, and, at last, shrieked
out, "BENJAMIN!" in a tone of extreme agony, and dropped fainting
down on the ground. Benjamin looked extremely red, it must be
confessed, at being thus called by what we shall denominate his
Christian name, and Limpiter looked round at Guzzard, and Miss
Brunck nudged Miss Horsman, and the lesson concluded rather abruptly
that day; for Miss Larkins was carried off to the next room, laid on
a couch, and sprinkled with water.
Good-natured Morgiana insisted that her mother should take Miss
Larkins to Bell Yard in her carriage, and went herself home on foot;
but I don't know that this piece of kindness prevented Larkins from
hating her. I should doubt if it did.
Hearing so much of his wife's skill as a singer, the astute Captain
Walker determined to take advantage of it for the purpose of
increasing his "connection." He had Lumley Limpiter at his house
before long, which was, indeed, no great matter, for honest Lum
would go anywhere for a good dinner--and an opportunity to show off
his voice afterwards, and Lumley was begged to bring any more clerks
in the Treasury of his acquaintance; Captain Guzzard was invited,
and any officers of the Guards whom he might choose to bring; Bulger
received occasional cards:--in a word, and after a short time, Mrs.
Howard Walker's musical parties began to be considerably suivies.
Her husband had the satisfaction to see his rooms filled by many
great personages; and once or twice in return (indeed, whenever she
was wanted, or when people could not afford to hire the first
singers) she was asked to parties elsewhere, and treated with that
killing civility which our English aristocracy knows how to bestow
on artists. Clever and wise aristocracy! It is sweet to mark your
ways, and study your commerce with inferior men.
I was just going to commence a tirade regarding the aristocracy
here, and to rage against that cool assumption of superiority which
distinguishes their lordships' commerce with artists of all sorts:
that politeness which, if it condescends to receive artists at all,
takes care to have them altogether, so that there can be no mistake
about their rank--that august patronage of art which rewards it with
a silly flourish of knighthood, to be sure, but takes care to
exclude it from any contact with its betters in society--I was, I
say, just going to commence a tirade against the aristocracy for
excluding artists from their company, and to be extremely satirical
upon them, for instance, for not receiving my friend Morgiana, when
it suddenly came into my head to ask, was Mrs. Walker fit to move in
the best society?--to which query it must humbly be replied that she
was not. Her education was not such as to make her quite the equal
of Baker Street. She was a kind honest and clever creature; but, it
must be confessed, not refined. Wherever she went she had, if not
the finest, at any rate the most showy gown in the room; her
ornaments were the biggest; her hats, toques, berets, marabouts, and
other fallals, always the most conspicuous. She drops "h's" here
and there. I have seen her eat peas with a knife (and Walker,
scowling on the opposite side of the table, striving in vain to
catch her eye); and I shall never forget Lady Smigsmag's horror when
she asked for porter at dinner at Richmond, and began to drink it
out of the pewter pot. It was a fine sight. She lifted up the
tankard with one of the finest arms, covered with the biggest
bracelets ever seen; and had a bird of paradise on her head, that
curled round the pewter disc of the pot as she raised it, like a
halo. These peculiarities she had, and has still. She is best away
from the genteel world, that is the fact. When she says that "The
weather is so 'ot that it is quite debiliating;" when she laughs,
when she hits her neighbour at dinner on the side of the waistcoat
(as she will if he should say anything that amuses her), she does
what is perfectly natural and unaffected on her part, but what is
not customarily done among polite persons, who can sneer at her odd
manners and her vanity, but don't know the kindness, honesty, and
simplicity which distinguish her. This point being admitted, it
follows, of course, that the tirade against the aristocracy would,
in the present instance, be out of place--so it shall be reserved
for some other occasion.
The Ravenswing was a person admirably disposed by nature to be
happy. She had a disposition so kindly that any small attention
would satisfy it; was pleased when alone; was delighted in a crowd;
was charmed with a joke, however old; was always ready to laugh, to
sing, to dance, or to be merry; was so tender-hearted that the
smallest ballad would make her cry: and hence was supposed, by many
persons, to be extremely affected, and by almost all to be a
downright coquette. Several competitors for her favour presented
themselves besides Baroski. Young dandies used to canter round her
phaeton in the park, and might be seen haunting her doors in the
mornings. The fashionable artist of the day made a drawing of her,
which was engraved and sold in the shops; a copy of it was printed
in a song, "Black-eyed Maiden of Araby," the words by Desmond
Mulligan, Esquire, the music composed and dedicated to MRS. HOWARD
WALKER, by her most faithful and obliged servant, Benjamin Baroski;
and at night her Opera-box was full. Her Opera-box? Yes, the
heiress of the "Bootjack" actually had an Opera-box, and some of the
most fashionable manhood of London attended it.
Now, in fact, was the time of her greatest prosperity; and her
husband gathering these fashionable characters about him, extended
his "agency" considerably, and began to thank his stars that he had
married a woman who was as good as a fortune to him.
In extending his agency, however, Mr. Walker increased his expenses
proportionably, and multiplied his debts accordingly. More
furniture and more plate, more wines and more dinner-parties, became
necessary; the little pony-phaeton was exchanged for a brougham of
evenings; and we may fancy our old friend Mr. Eglantine's rage and
disgust, as he looked from the pit of the Opera, to see Mrs. Walker
surrounded by what he called "the swell young nobs" about London,
bowing to my Lord, and laughing with his Grace, and led to carriage
by Sir John.
The Ravenswing's position at this period was rather an exceptional
one. She was an honest woman, visited by that peculiar class of our
aristocracy who chiefly associate with ladies who are NOT honest.
She laughed with all, but she encouraged none. Old Crump was
constantly at her side now when she appeared in public, the most
watchful of mammas, always awake at the Opera, though she seemed to
be always asleep; but no dandy debauchee could deceive her
vigilance, and for this reason Walker, who disliked her (as every
man naturally will, must, and should dislike his mother-in-law), was
contented to suffer her in his house to act as a chaperon to
None of the young dandies ever got admission of mornings to the
little mansion in the Edgware Road; the blinds were always down; and
though you might hear Morgiana's voice half across the Park as she
was practising, yet the youthful hall-porter in the sugar-loaf
buttons was instructed to deny her, and always declared that his
mistress was gone out, with the most admirable assurance.
After some two years of her life of splendour, there were, to be
sure, a good number of morning visitors, who came with SINGLE
knocks, and asked for Captain Walker; but these were no more
admitted than the dandies aforesaid, and were referred, generally,
to the Captain's office, whither they went or not at their
convenience. The only man who obtained admission into the house was
Baroski, whose cab transported him thrice a week to the
neighbourhood of Connaught Square, and who obtained ready entrance
in his professional capacity.
But even then, and much to the wicked little music-master's
disappointment, the dragon Crump was always at the piano, with her
endless worsted work, or else reading her unfailing Sunday Times;
and Baroski could only employ "de langvitch of de ice," as he called
it, with his fair pupil, who used to mimic his manner of rolling his
eyes about afterwards, and perform "Baroski in love" for the
amusement of her husband and her mamma. The former had his reasons
for overlooking the attentions of the little music-master; and as
for the latter, had she not been on the stage, and had not many
hundreds of persons, in jest or earnest, made love to her? What
else can a pretty woman expect who is much before the public? And
so the worthy mother counselled her daughter to bear these
attentions with good humour, rather than to make them a subject of
perpetual alarm and quarrel.
Baroski, then, was allowed to go on being in love, and was never in
the least disturbed in his passion; and if he was not successful, at
least the little wretch could have the pleasure of HINTING that he
was, and looking particularly roguish when the Ravenswing was named,
and assuring his friends at the club, that "upon his vort dere vas
no trut IN DAT REBORT."
At last one day it happened that Mrs. Crump did not arrive in time
for her daughter's lesson (perhaps it rained and the omnibus was
full--a smaller circumstance than that has changed a whole life ere
now)--Mrs. Crump did not arrive, and Baroski did, and Morgiana,
seeing no great harm, sat down to her lesson as usual, and in the
midst of it down went the music-master on his knees, and made a
declaration in the most eloquent terms he could muster.
"Don't be a fool, Baroski!" said the lady--(I can't help it if her
language was not more choice, and if she did not rise with cold
dignity, exclaiming, "Unhand me, sir!")--"Don't be a fool!" said
Mrs. Walker, "but get up and let's finish the lesson."
"You hard-hearted adorable little greature, vill you not listen to
"No, I vill not listen to you, Benjamin!" concluded the lady. "Get
up and take a chair, and don't go on in that ridiklous way, don't!"
But Baroski, having a speech by heart, determined to deliver himself
of it in that posture, and begged Morgiana not to turn avay her
divine hice, and to listen to de voice of his despair, and so forth;
he seized the lady's hand, and was going to press it to his lips,
when she said, with more spirit, perhaps, than grace,--
"Leave go my hand, sir; I'll box your ears if you don't!"
But Baroski wouldn't release her hand, and was proceeding to imprint
a kiss upon it; and Mrs. Crump, who had taken the omnibus at a
quarter-past twelve instead of that at twelve, had just opened the
drawing-room door and was walking in, when Morgiana, turning as red
as a peony, and unable to disengage her left hand, which the
musician held, raised up her right hand, and, with all her might and
main, gave her lover such a tremendous slap in the face as caused
him abruptly to release the hand which he held, and would have laid
him prostrate on the carpet but for Mrs. Crump, who rushed forward
and prevented him from falling by administering right and left a
whole shower of slaps, such as he had never endured since the day he
was at school.
"What imperence!" said that worthy lady; "you'll lay hands on my
daughter, will you? (one, two). You'll insult a woman in distress,
will you, you little coward? (one, two). Take that, and mind your
manners, you filthy monster!"
Baroski bounced up in a fury. "By Chofe, you shall hear of dis!"
shouted he; "you shall pay me dis!"
"As many more as you please, little Benjamin," cried the widow.
"Augustus" (to the page), "was that the Captain's knock?" At this
Baroski made for his hat. "Augustus, show this imperence to the
door; and if he tries to come in again, call a policeman: do you
The music-master vanished very rapidly, and the two ladies, instead
of being frightened or falling into hysterics, as their betters
would have done, laughed at the odious monster's discomfiture, as
they called him. "Such a man as that set himself up against my
Howard!" said Morgiana, with becoming pride; but it was agreed
between them that Howard should know nothing of what had occurred,
for fear of quarrels, or lest he should be annoyed. So when he came
home not a word was said; and only that his wife met him with more
warmth than usual, you could not have guessed that anything
extraordinary had occurred. It is not my fault that my heroine's
sensibilities were not more keen, that she had not the least
occasion for sal-volatile or symptom of a fainting fit; but so it
was, and Mr. Howard Walker knew nothing of the quarrel between his
wife and her instructor until--
Until he was arrested next day at the suit of Benjamin Baroski for
two hundred and twenty guineas, and, in default of payment, was
conducted by Mr. Tobias Larkins to his principal's lock-up house in
IN WHICH MR. WALKER FALLS INTO DIFFICULTIES, AND MRS. WALKER MAKES
MANY FOOLISH ATTEMPTS TO RESCUE HIM.
I hope the beloved reader is not silly enough to imagine that Mr.
Walker, on finding himself inspunged for debt in Chancery Lane, was
so foolish as to think of applying to any of his friends (those
great personages who have appeared every now and then in the course
of this little history, and have served to give it a fashionable
air). No, no; he knew the world too well; and that, though
Billingsgate would give him as many dozen of claret as he could
carry away under his belt, as the phrase is (I can't help it, madam,
if the phrase is not more genteel), and though Vauxhall would lend
him his carriage, slap him on the back, and dine at his house,--
their lordships would have seen Mr. Walker depending from a beam in
front of the Old Bailey rather than have helped him to a hundred
And why, forsooth, should we expect otherwise in the world? I
observe that men who complain of its selfishness are quite as
selfish as the world is, and no more liberal of money than their
neighbours; and I am quite sure with regard to Captain Walker that
he would have treated a friend in want exactly as he when in want
was treated. There was only his lady who was in the least afflicted
by his captivity; and as for the club, that went on, we are bound to
say, exactly as it did on the day previous to his disappearance.
By the way, about clubs--could we not, but for fear of detaining the
fair reader too long, enter into a wholesome dissertation here on
the manner of friendship established in those institutions, and the
noble feeling of selfishness which they are likely to encourage in
the male race? I put out of the question the stale topics of
complaint, such as leaving home, encouraging gormandising and
luxurious habits, etc.; but look also at the dealings of club-men
with one another. Look at the rush for the evening paper! See how
Shiverton orders a fire in the dog-days, and Swettenham opens the
windows in February. See how Cramley takes the whole breast of the
turkey on his plate, and how many times Jenkins sends away his
beggarly half-pint of sherry! Clubbery is organised egotism. Club
intimacy is carefully and wonderfully removed from friendship. You
meet Smith for twenty years, exchange the day's news with him, laugh
with him over the last joke, grow as well acquainted as two men may
be together--and one day, at the end of the list of members of the
club, you read in a little paragraph by itself, with all the
Smith, John, Esq.;
or he, on the other hand, has the advantage of reading your own name
selected for a similar typographical distinction. There it is, that
abominable little exclusive list at the end of every
club-catalogue--you can't avoid it. I belong to eight clubs myself,
and know that one year Fitz-Boodle, George Savage, Esq. (unless it
should please fate to remove my brother and his six sons, when of
course it would be Fitz-Boodle, Sir George Savage, Bart.), will
appear in the dismal category. There is that list; down I must go
in it:--the day will come, and I shan't be seen in the bow-window,
someone else will be sitting in the vacant armchair: the rubber
will begin as usual, and yet somehow Fitz will not be there.
"Where's Fitz?" says Trumpington, just arrived from the Rhine.
"Don't you know?" says Punter, turning down his thumb to the carpet.
"You led the club, I think?" says Ruff to his partner (the OTHER
partner!), and the waiter snuffs the candles.
* * *
I hope in the course of the above little pause, every single member
of a club who reads this has profited by the perusal. He may
belong, I say, to eight clubs; he will die, and not be missed by any
of the five thousand members. Peace be to him; the waiters will
forget him, and his name will pass away, and another great-coat will
hang on the hook whence his own used to be dependent.
And this, I need not say, is the beauty of the club-institutions.
If it were otherwise--if, forsooth, we were to be sorry when our
friends died, or to draw out our purses when our friends were in
want, we should be insolvent, and life would be miserable. Be it
ours to button up our pockets and our hearts; and to make merry--it
is enough to swim down this life-stream for ourselves; if Poverty is
clutching hold of our heels, or Friendship would catch an arm, kick
them both off. Every man for himself, is the word, and plenty to do
My friend Captain Walker had practised the above maxims so long and
resolutely as to be quite aware when he came himself to be in
distress, that not a single soul in the whole universe would help
him, and he took his measures accordingly.
When carried to Mr. Bendigo's lock-up house, he summoned that
gentleman in a very haughty way, took a blank banker's cheque out of
his pocket-book, and filling it up for the exact sum of the writ,
orders Mr. Bendigo forthwith to open the door and let him go forth.
Mr. Bendigo, smiling with exceeding archness, and putting a finger
covered all over with diamond rings to his extremely aquiline nose,
inquired of Mr. Walker whether he saw anything green about his face?
intimating by this gay and good-humoured interrogatory his suspicion
of the unsatisfactory nature of the document handed over to him by
"Hang it, sir!" says Mr. Walker, "go and get the cheque cashed, and
be quick about it. Send your man in a cab, and here's a half-crown
to pay for it." The confident air somewhat staggers the bailiff,
who asked him whether he would like any refreshment while his man
was absent getting the amount of the cheque, and treated his
prisoner with great civility during the time of the messenger's
But as Captain Walker had but a balance of two pounds five and
twopence (this sum was afterwards divided among his creditors, the
law expenses being previously deducted from it), the bankers of
course declined to cash the Captain's draft for two hundred and odd
pounds, simply writing the words "No effects" on the paper; on
receiving which reply Walker, far from being cast down, burst out
laughing very gaily, produced a real five-pound note, and called
upon his host for a bottle of champagne, which the two worthies
drank in perfect friendship and good-humour. The bottle was
scarcely finished, and the young Israelitish gentleman who acts as
waiter in Cursitor Street had only time to remove the flask and the
glasses, when poor Morgiana with a flood of tears rushed into her
husband's arms, and flung herself on his neck, and calling him her
"dearest, blessed Howard," would have fainted at his feet; but that
he, breaking out in a fury of oaths, asked her how, after getting
him into that scrape through her infernal extravagance, she dared to
show her face before him? This address speedily frightened the poor
thing out of her fainting fit--there is nothing so good for female
hysterics as a little conjugal sternness, nay, brutality, as many
husbands can aver who are in the habit of employing the remedy.
"My extravagance, Howard?" said she, in a faint way; and quite put
off her purpose of swooning by the sudden attack made upon her--
"Surely, my love, you have nothing to complain of--"
"To complain of, ma'am?" roared the excellent Walker. "Is two
hundred guineas to a music-master nothing to complain of? Did you
bring me such a fortune as to authorise your taking guinea lessons?
Haven't I raised you out of your sphere of life and introduced you
to the best of the land? Haven't I dressed you like a duchess?
Haven't I been for you such a husband as very few women in the world
ever had, madam?--answer me that."
"Indeed, Howard, you were always very kind," sobbed the lady.
"Haven't I toiled and slaved for you--been out all day working for
you? Haven't I allowed your vulgar old mother to come to your
house--to my house, I say? Haven't I done all this?"
She could not deny it, and Walker, who was in a rage (and when a man
is in a rage, for what on earth is a wife made but that he should
vent his rage on her?), continued for some time in this strain, and
so abused, frightened, and overcame poor Morgiana that she left her
husband fully convinced that she was the most guilty of beings, and
bemoaning his double bad fortune, that her Howard was ruined and she
the cause of his misfortunes.
When she was gone, Mr. Walker resumed his equanimity (for he was not
one of those men whom a few months of the King's Bench were likely
to terrify), and drank several glasses of punch in company with his
host; with whom in perfect calmness he talked over his affairs.
That he intended to pay his debt and quit the spunging-house next
day is a matter of course; no one ever was yet put in a
spunging-house that did not pledge his veracity he intended to quit
it to-morrow. Mr. Bendigo said he should be heartily glad to open
the door to him, and in the meantime sent out diligently to see
among his friends if there were any more detainers against the
Captain, and to inform the Captain's creditors to come forward
Morgiana went home in profound grief, it may be imagined, and could
hardly refrain from bursting into tears when the sugar-loaf page
asked whether master was coming home early, or whether he had taken
his key; she lay awake tossing and wretched the whole night, and
very early in the morning rose up, and dressed, and went out.
Before nine o'clock she was in Cursitor Street, and once more
joyfully bounced into her husband's arms; who woke up yawning and
swearing somewhat, with a severe headache, occasioned by the
jollification of the previous night: for, strange though it may
seem, there are perhaps no places in Europe where jollity is more
practised than in prisons for debt; and I declare for my own part (I
mean, of course, that I went to visit a friend) I have dined at Mr.
Aminadab's as sumptuously as at Long's.
But it is necessary to account for Morgiana's joyfulness; which was
strange in her husband's perplexity, and after her sorrow of the
previous night. Well, then, when Mrs. Walker went out in the
morning, she did so with a very large basket under her arm. "Shall
I carry the basket, ma'am?" said the page, seizing it with much
"No, thank you," cried his mistress, with equal eagerness: "it's
"Of course, ma'am," replied the boy, sneering, "I knew it was that."
"Glass," continued Mrs. Walker, turning extremely red. "Have the
goodness to call a coach, sir, and not to speak till you are
The young gentleman disappeared upon his errand: the coach was
called and came. Mrs. Walker slipped into it with her basket, and
the page went downstairs to his companions in the kitchen, and said,
"It's a-comin'! master's in quod, and missus has gone out to pawn
the plate." When the cook went out that day, she somehow had by
mistake placed in her basket a dozen of table-knives and a plated
egg-stand. When the lady's-maid took a walk in the course of the
afternoon, she found she had occasion for eight cambric
pocket-handkerchiefs, (marked with her mistress's cipher),
half-a-dozen pair of shoes, gloves, long and short, some silk
stockings, and a gold-headed scent-bottle. "Both the new cashmeres
is gone," said she, "and there's nothing left in Mrs. Walker's
trinket-box but a paper of pins and an old coral bracelet." As for
the page, he rushed incontinently to his master's dressing-room and
examined every one of the pockets of his clothes; made a parcel of
some of them, and opened all the drawers which Walker had not locked
before his departure. He only found three-halfpence and a bill
stamp, and about forty-five tradesmen's accounts, neatly labelled
and tied up with red tape. These three worthies, a groom who was a
great admirer of Trimmer the lady's-maid, and a policeman a friend
of the cook's, sat down to a comfortable dinner at the usual hour,
and it was agreed among them all that Walker's ruin was certain.
The cook made the policeman a present of a china punch-bowl which
Mrs. Walker had given her; and the lady's-maid gave her friend the
"Book of Beauty" for last year, and the third volume of Byron's
poems from the drawing-room table.
"I'm dash'd if she ain't taken the little French clock, too," said
the page, and so indeed Mrs. Walker had; it slipped in the basket
where it lay enveloped in one of her shawls, and then struck madly
and unnaturally a great number of times, as Morgiana was lifting her
store of treasures out of the hackney-coach. The coachman wagged
his head sadly as he saw her walking as quick as she could under her
heavy load, and disappearing round the corner of the street at which
Mr. Balls's celebrated jewellery establishment is situated. It is a
grand shop, with magnificent silver cups and salvers, rare
gold-headed canes, flutes, watches, diamond brooches, and a few fine
specimens of the old masters in the window, and under the words--
in the very smallest type, on the door.
The interview with Mr. Balls need not be described; but it must have
been a satisfactory one, for at the end of half an hour Morgiana
returned and bounded into the coach with sparkling eyes, and told
the driver to GALLOP to Cursitor Street; which, smiling, he promised
to do, and accordingly set off in that direction at the rate of four
miles an hour. "I thought so," said the philosophic charioteer.
"When a man's in quod, a woman don't mind her silver spoons;" and he
was so delighted with her action, that he forgot to grumble when she
came to settle accounts with him, even though she gave him only
double his fare.
"Take me to him," said she to the young Hebrew who opened the door.
"To whom?" says the sarcastic youth; "there's twenty HIM'S here.
You're precious early."
"To Captain Walker, young man," replied Morgiana haughtily;
whereupon the youth opening the second door, and seeing Mr. Bendigo
in a flowered dressing-gown descending the stairs, exclaimed, "Papa,
here's a lady for the Captain." "I'm come to free him," said she,
trembling, and holding out a bundle of bank-notes. "Here's the
amount of your claim, sir--two hundred and twenty guineas, as you
told me last night." The Jew took the notes, and grinned as he
looked at her, and grinned double as he looked at his son, and
begged Mrs. Walker to step into his study and take a receipt. When
the door of that apartment closed upon the lady and his father, Mr.
Bendigo the younger fell back in an agony of laughter, which it is
impossible to describe in words, and presently ran out into a court
where some of the luckless inmates of the house were already taking
the air, and communicated something to them which made those
individuals also laugh as uproariously as he had previously done.
Well, after joyfully taking the receipt from Mr. Bendigo (how her
cheeks flushed and her heart fluttered as she dried it on the
blotting-book!), and after turning very pale again on hearing that
the Captain had had a very bad night: "And well he might, poor
dear!" said she (at which Mr. Bendigo, having no person to grin at,
grinned at a marble bust of Mr. Pitt, which ornamented his
sideboard)--Morgiana, I say, these preliminaries being concluded,
was conducted to her husband's apartment, and once more flinging her
arms round her dearest Howard's neck, told him with one of the
sweetest smiles in the world, to make haste and get up and come
home, for breakfast was waiting and the carriage at the door.
"What do you mean, love?" said the Captain, starting up and looking
"I mean that my dearest is free; that the odious little creature is
paid--at least the horrid bailiff is."
"Have you been to Baroski?" said Walker, turning very red.
"Howard!" said his wife, quite indignant.
"Did--did your mother give you the money?" asked the Captain.
"No; I had it by me" replies Mrs. Walker, with a very knowing look.
Walker was more surprised than ever. "Have you any more by you?"
Mrs. Walker showed him her purse with two guineas. "That is all,
love," she said. "And I wish," continued she, "you would give me a
draft to pay a whole list of little bills that have somehow all come
in within the last few days."
"Well, well, you shall have the cheque," continued Mr. Walker, and
began forthwith to make his toilet, which completed, he rang for Mr.
Bendigo, and his bill, and intimated his wish to go home directly.
The honoured bailiff brought the bill, but with regard to his being
free, said it was impossible.
"How impossible?" said Mrs. Walker, turning very red: and then very
pale. "Did I not pay just now?"
"So you did, and you've got the reshipt; but there's another
detainer against the Captain for a hundred and fifty. Eglantine and
Mossrose, of Bond Street;--perfumery for five years, you know."
"You don't mean to say you were such a fool as to pay without asking
if there were any more detainers?" roared Walker to his wife.
"Yes, she was though," chuckled Mr. Bendigo; "but she'll know better
the next time: and, besides, Captain, what's a hundred and fifty
pounds to you?"
Though Walker desired nothing so much in the world at that moment as
the liberty to knock down his wife, his sense of prudence overcame
his desire for justice: if that feeling may be called prudence on
his part, which consisted in a strong wish to cheat the bailiff into
the idea that he (Walker) was an exceedingly respectable and wealthy
man. Many worthy persons indulge in this fond notion, that they are
imposing upon the world; strive to fancy, for instance, that their
bankers consider them men of property because they keep a tolerable
balance, pay little tradesmen's bills with ostentatious punctuality,
and so forth--but the world, let us be pretty sure, is as wise as
need be, and guesses our real condition with a marvellous instinct,
or learns it with curious skill. The London tradesman is one of the
keenest judges of human nature extant; and if a tradesman, how much
more a bailiff? In reply to the ironic question, "What's a hundred
and fifty pounds to you?" Walker, collecting himself, answers, "It
is an infamous imposition, and I owe the money no more than you do;
but, nevertheless, I shall instruct my lawyers to pay it in the
course of the morning: under protest, of course."
"Oh, of course," said Mr. Bendigo, bowing and quitting the room, and
leaving Mrs. Walker to the pleasure of a tete-a-tete with her
And now being alone with the partner of his bosom, the worthy
gentleman began an address to her which cannot be put down on paper
here; because the world is exceedingly squeamish, and does not care
to hear the whole truth about rascals, and because the fact is that
almost every other word of the Captain's speech was a curse, such as
would shock the beloved reader were it put in print.
Fancy, then, in lieu of the conversation, a scoundrel, disappointed
and in a fury, wreaking his brutal revenge upon an amiable woman,
who sits trembling and pale, and wondering at this sudden exhibition
of wrath. Fancy how he clenches his fists and stands over her, and
stamps and screams out curses with a livid face, growing wilder and
wilder in his rage; wrenching her hand when she wants to turn away,
and only stopping at last when she has fallen off the chair in a
fainting fit, with a heart-breaking sob that made the Jew-boy who
was listening at the key-hole turn quite pale and walk away. Well,
it is best, perhaps, that such a conversation should not be told at
length:--at the end of it, when Mr. Walker had his wife lifeless on
the floor, he seized a water-jug and poured it over her; which
operation pretty soon brought her to herself, and shaking her black
ringlets, she looked up once more again timidly into his face, and
took his hand, and began to cry.
He spoke now in a somewhat softer voice, and let her keep paddling
on with his hand as before; he COULDN'T speak very fiercely to the
poor girl in her attitude of defeat, and tenderness, and
supplication. "Morgiana," said he, "your extravagance and
carelessness have brought me to ruin, I'm afraid. If you had chosen
to have gone to Baroski, a word from you would have made him
withdraw the writ, and my property wouldn't have been sacrificed, as
it has now been, for nothing. It mayn't be yet too late, however,
to retrieve ourselves. This bill of Eglantine's is a regular
conspiracy, I am sure, between Mossrose and Bendigo here: you must
go to Eglantine--he's an old--an old flame of yours, you know."
She dropped his hand: "I can't go to Eglantine after what has
passed between us," she said; but Walker's face instantly began to
wear a certain look, and she said with a shudder, "Well, well, dear,
I WILL go." "You will go to Eglantine, and ask him to take a bill
for the amount of this shameful demand--at any date, never mind
what. Mind, however, to see him alone, and I'm sure if you choose
you can settle the business. Make haste; set off directly, and come
back, as there may be more detainers in."
Trembling, and in a great flutter, Morgiana put on her bonnet and
gloves, and went towards the door. "It's a fine morning," said Mr.
Walker, looking out: "a walk will do you good;
and--Morgiana--didn't you say you had a couple of guineas in your
"Here it is," said she, smiling all at once, and holding up her face
to be kissed. She paid the two guineas for the kiss. Was it not a
mean act? "Is it possible that people can love where they do not
respect?" says Miss Prim: "_I_ never would." Nobody asked you,
Miss Prim: but recollect Morgiana was not born with your advantages
of education and breeding; and was, in fact, a poor vulgar creature,
who loved Mr. Walker, not because her mamma told her, nor because he
was an exceedingly eligible and well-brought-up young man, but
because she could not help it, and knew no better. Nor is Mrs.
Walker set up as a model of virtue: ah, no! when I want a model of
virtue I will call in Baker Street, and ask for a sitting of my dear
(if I may be permitted to say so) Miss Prim.
We have Mr. Howard Walker safely housed in Mr. Bendigo's
establishment in Cursitor Street, Chancery Lane; and it looks like
mockery and want of feeling towards the excellent hero of this story
(or, as should rather be said, towards the husband of the heroine)
to say what he might have been but for the unlucky little
circumstance of Baroski's passion for Morgiana,
If Baroski had not fallen in love with Morgiana, he would not have
given her two hundred guineas' worth of lessons; he would not have
so far presumed as to seize her hand, and attempt to kiss it; if he
had not attempted to kiss her, she would not have boxed his ears; he
would not have taken out the writ against Walker; Walker would have
been free, very possibly rich, and therefore certainly respected:
he always said that a month's more liberty would have set him beyond
the reach of misfortune.
The assertion is very likely a correct one; for Walker had a flashy
enterprising genius, which ends in wealth sometimes; in the King's
Bench not seldom; occasionally, alas! in Van Diemen's Land. He
might have been rich, could he have kept his credit, and had not his
personal expenses and extravagances pulled him down. He had
gallantly availed himself of his wife's fortune; nor could any man
in London, as he proudly said, have made five hundred pounds go so
far. He had, as we have seen, furnished a house, sideboard, and
cellar with it: he had a carriage, and horses in his stable, and
with the remainder he had purchased shares in four companies--of
three of which he was founder and director, had conducted
innumerable bargains in the foreign stocks, had lived and
entertained sumptuously, and made himself a very considerable
income. He had set up THE CAPITOL Loan and Life Assurance Company,
had discovered the Chimborazo gold mines, and the Society for
Recovering and Draining the Pontine Marshes; capital ten millions;
patron HIS HOLINESS THE POPE. It certainly was stated in an evening
paper that His Holiness had made him a Knight of the Spur, and had
offered to him the rank of Count; and he was raising a loan for His
Highness, the Cacique of Panama, who had sent him (by way of
dividend) the grand cordon of His Highness's order of the Castle and
Falcon, which might be seen any day at his office in Bond Street,
with the parchments signed and sealed by the Grand Master and Falcon
King-at-arms of His Highness. In a week more Walker would have
raised a hundred thousand pounds on His Highness's twenty per cent.
loan; he would have had fifteen thousand pounds commission for
himself; his companies would have risen to par, he would have
realised his shares; he would have gone into Parliament; he would
have been made a baronet, who knows? a peer, probably! "And I
appeal to you, sir," Walker would say to his friends, "could any man
have shown better proof of his affection for his wife than by laying
out her little miserable money as I did? They call me heartless,
sir, because I didn't succeed; sir, my life has been a series of
sacrifices for that woman, such as no man ever performed before."
A proof of Walker's dexterity and capability for business may be
seen in the fact that he had actually appeased and reconciled one of
his bitterest enemies--our honest friend Eglantine. After Walker's
marriage Eglantine, who had now no mercantile dealings with his
former agent, became so enraged with him, that, as the only means of
revenge in his power, he sent him in his bill for goods supplied to
the amount of one hundred and fifty guineas, and sued him for the
amount. But Walker stepped boldly over to his enemy, and in the
course of half an hour they were friends.
Eglantine promised to forego his claim; and accepted in lieu of it
three hundred-pound shares of the ex-Panama stock, bearing
twenty-five per cent., payable half-yearly at the house of Hocus
Brothers, St. Swithin's Lane; three hundred-pound shares, and the
SECOND class of the order of the Castle and Falcon, with the riband
and badge. "In four years, Eglantine, my boy, I hope to get you the
Grand Cordon of the order," said Walker: "I hope to see you a
KNIGHT GRAND CROSS, with a grant of a hundred thousand acres
reclaimed from the Isthmus."
To do my poor Eglantine justice, he did not care for the hundred
thousand acres--it was the star that delighted him--ah! how his fat
chest heaved with delight as he sewed on the cross and riband to his
dress-coat, and lighted up four wax candles and looked at himself in
the glass. He was known to wear a great-coat after that--it was
that he might wear the cross under it. That year he went on a trip
to Boulogne. He was dreadfully ill during the voyage, but as the
vessel entered the port he was seen to emerge from the cabin, his
coat open, the star blazing on his chest; the soldiers saluted him
as he walked the streets, he was called Monsieur le Chevalier, and
when he went home he entered into negotiations with Walker to
purchase a commission in His Highness's service. Walker said he
would get him the nominal rank of Captain, the fees at the Panama
War Office were five-and-twenty pounds, which sum honest Eglantine
produced, and had his commission, and a pack of visiting cards
printed as Captain Archibald Eglantine, K.C.F. Many a time he
looked at them as they lay in his desk, and he kept the cross in his
dressing-table, and wore it as he shaved every morning.
His Highness the Cacique, it is well known, came to England, and had
lodgings in Regent Street, where he held a levee, at which Eglantine
appeared in the Panama uniform, and was most graciously received by
his Sovereign. His Highness proposed to make Captain Eglantine his
aide-de-camp with the rank of Colonel, but the Captain's exchequer
was rather low at that moment, and the fees at the "War Office" were
peremptory. Meanwhile His Highness left Regent Street, was said by
some to have returned to Panama, by others to be in his native city
of Cork, by others to be leading a life of retirement in the New
Cut, Lambeth; at any rate was not visible for some time, so that
Captain Eglantine's advancement did not take place. Eglantine was
somehow ashamed to mention his military and chivalric rank to Mr.
Mossrose, when that gentleman came into partnership with him; and
kept these facts secret, until they were detected by a very painful
circumstance. On the very day when Walker was arrested at the suit
of Benjamin Baroski, there appeared in the newspapers an account of
the imprisonment of His Highness the Prince of Panama for a bill
owing to a licensed victualler in Ratcliff Highway. The magistrate
to whom the victualler subsequently came to complain passed many
pleasantries on the occasion. He asked whether His Highness did not
drink like a swan with two necks; whether he had brought any Belles
savages with him from Panama, and so forth; and the whole court,
said the report, "was convulsed with laughter when Boniface produced
a green and yellow riband with a large star of the order of the
Castle and Falcon, with which His Highness proposed to gratify him,
in lieu of paying his little bill."
It was as he was reading the above document with a bleeding heart
that Mr. Mossrose came in from his daily walk to the City. "Vell,
Eglantine," says he, "have you heard the newsh?"
"About His Highness?"
"About your friend Valker; he's arrested for two hundred poundsh!"
Eglantine at this could contain no more; but told his story of how
he had been induced to accept three hundred pounds of Panama stock
for his account against Walker, and cursed his stars for his folly.
"Vell, you've only to bring in another bill," said the younger
perfumer; "swear he owes you a hundred and fifty pounds, and we'll
have a writ out against him this afternoon."
And so a second writ was taken out against Captain Walker.
"You'll have his wife here very likely in a day or two," said Mr.
Mossrose to his partner; "them chaps always sends their wives, and I
hope you know how to deal with her."
"I don't value her a fig's hend," said Eglantine. "I'll treat her
like the dust of the hearth. After that woman's conduct to me, I
should like to see her have the haudacity to come here; and if she
does, you'll see how I'll serve her."
The worthy perfumer was, in fact, resolved to be exceedingly
hard-hearted in his behaviour towards his old love, and acted over
at night in bed the scene which was to occur when the meeting should
take place. Oh, thought he, but it will be a grand thing to see the
proud Morgiana on her knees to me; and me a-pointing to the door,
and saying, "Madam, you've steeled this 'eart against you, you
have;--bury the recollection of old times, of those old times when I
thought my 'eart would have broke, but it didn't--no: 'earts are
made of sterner stuff. I didn't die, as I thought I should; I stood
it, and live to see the woman I despised at my feet--ha, ha, at my
In the midst of these thoughts Mr. Eglantine fell asleep; but it was
evident that the idea of seeing Morgiana once more agitated him
considerably, else why should he have been at the pains of preparing
so much heroism? His sleep was exceedingly fitful and troubled; he
saw Morgiana in a hundred shapes; he dreamed that he was dressing
her hair; that he was riding with her to Richmond; that the horse
turned into a dragon, and Morgiana into Woolsey, who took him by the
throat and choked him, while the dragon played the key-bugle. And
in the morning when Mossrose was gone to his business in the City,
and he sat reading the Morning Post in his study, ah! what a thump
his heart gave as the lady of his dreams actually stood before him!
Many a lady who purchased brushes at Eglantine's shop would have
given ten guineas for such a colour as his when he saw her. His
heart beat violently, he was almost choking in his stays: he had
been prepared for the visit, but his courage failed him now it had
come. They were both silent for some minutes.
"You know what I am come for," at last said Morgiana from under her
veil, but she put it aside as she spoke.
"I--that is--yes--it's a painful affair, mem," he said, giving one
look at her pale face, and then turning away in a flurry. "I beg to
refer you to Blunt, Hone, and Sharpus, my lawyers, mem," he added,
"I didn't expect this from YOU, Mr. Eglantine," said the lady, and
began to sob.
"And after what's 'appened, I didn't expect a visit from YOU, mem.
I thought Mrs. Capting Walker was too great a dame to visit poor
Harchibald Eglantine (though some of the first men in the country DO
visit him). Is there anything in which I can oblige you, mem?"
"O heavens!" cried the poor woman; "have I no friend left? I never
thought that you, too, would have deserted me, Mr. Archibald."
The "Archibald," pronounced in the old way, had evidently an effect
on the perfumer; he winced and looked at her very eagerly for a
moment. "What can I do for you, mem?" at last said he.
"What is this bill against Mr. Walker, for which he is now in
"Perfumery supplied for five years; that man used more 'air-brushes
than any duke in the land, and as for eau-de-Cologne, he must have
bathed himself in it. He hordered me about like a lord. He never
paid me one shilling--he stabbed me in my most vital part--but ah!
ah! never mind THAT: and I said I would be revenged, and I AM."
The perfumer was quite in a rage again by this time, and wiped his
fat face with his pocket-handkerchief, and glared upon Mrs. Walker
with a most determined air.
"Revenged on whom? Archibald--Mr. Eglantine, revenged on me--on a
poor woman whom you made miserable! You would not have done so
"Ha! and a precious way you treated me ONCE," said Eglantine:
"don't talk to me, mem, of ONCE. Bury the recollection of once for
hever! I thought my 'eart would have broke once, but no: 'earts
are made of sterner stuff. I didn't die, as I thought I should; I
stood it--and I live to see the woman who despised me at my feet."
"Oh, Archibald!" was all the lady could say, and she fell to sobbing
again: it was perhaps her best argument with the perfumer.
"Oh, Harchibald, indeed!" continued he, beginning to swell; "don't
call me Harchibald, Morgiana. Think what a position you might have
held if you'd chose: when, when--you MIGHT have called me
Harchibald. Now it's no use," added he, with harrowing pathos;
"but, though I've been wronged, I can't bear to see women in tears-
-tell me what I can do."
"Dear good Mr. Eglantine, send to your lawyers and stop this horrid
prosecution--take Mr. Walker's acknowledgment for the debt. If he
is free, he is sure to have a very large sum of money in a few days,
and will pay you all. Do not ruin him--do not ruin me by persisting
now. Be the old kind Eglantine you were."
Eglantine took a hand, which Morgiana did not refuse; he thought
about old times. He had known her since childhood almost; as a girl
he dandled her on his knee at the "Kidneys;" as a woman he had
adored her--his heart was melted.
"He did pay me in a sort of way," reasoned the perfumer with
himself--"these bonds, though they are not worth much, I took 'em
for better or for worse, and I can't bear to see her crying, and to
trample on a woman in distress. Morgiana," he added, in a loud
cheerful voice, "cheer up; I'll give you a release for your husband:
I WILL be the old kind Eglantine I was."
"Be the old kind jackass you vash!" here roared a voice that made
Mr. Eglantine start. "Vy, vat an old fat fool you are, Eglantine,
to give up our just debts because a voman comes snivelling and
crying to you--and such a voman, too!" exclaimed Mr. Mossrose, for
his was the voice.
"Such a woman, sir?" cried the senior partner.
"Yes; such a woman--vy, didn't she jilt you herself?--hasn't she
been trying the same game with Baroski; and are you so green as to
give up a hundred and fifty pounds because she takes a fancy to come
vimpering here? I won't, I can tell you. The money's as much mine
as it is yours, and I'll have it or keep Walker's body, that's what
At the presence of his partner, the timid good genius of Eglantine,
which had prompted him to mercy and kindness, at once outspread its
frightened wings and flew away.
"You see how it is, Mrs. W.," said he, looking down; "it's an affair
of business--in all these here affairs of business Mr. Mossrose is
the managing man; ain't you, Mr. Mossrose?"
"A pretty business it would be if I wasn't," replied Mossrose,
doggedly. "Come, ma'am," says he, "I'll tell you vat I do: I take
fifty per shent; not a farthing less--give me that, and out your
"Oh, sir, Howard will pay you in a week."
"Vell, den, let him stop at my uncle Bendigo's for a week, and come
out den--he's very comfortable there," said Shylock with a grin.
"Hadn't you better go to the shop, Mr. Eglantine," continued he,
"and look after your business? Mrs. Walker can't want you to listen
to her all day."
Eglantine was glad of the excuse, and slunk out of the studio; not
into the shop, but into his parlour; where he drank off a great
glass of maraschino, and sat blushing and exceedingly agitated,
until Mossrose came to tell him that Mrs. W. was gone, and wouldn't
trouble him any more. But although he drank several more glasses of
maraschino, and went to the play that night, and to the
Cider-cellars afterwards, neither the liquor, nor the play, nor the
delightful comic songs at the cellars, could drive Mrs. Walker out
of his head, and the memory of old times, and the image of her pale
Morgiana tottered out of the shop, scarcely heeding the voice of Mr.
Mossrose, who said, "I'll take forty per shent" (and went back to
his duty cursing himself for a soft-hearted fool for giving up so
much of his rights to a puling woman). Morgiana, I say, tottered
out of the shop, and went up Conduit Street, weeping, weeping with
all her eyes. She was quite faint, for she had taken nothing that
morning but the glass of water which the pastry-cook in the Strand
had given her, and was forced to take hold of the railings of a
house for support just as a little gentleman with a yellow
handkerchief under his arm was issuing from the door.
"Good heavens, Mrs. Walker!" said the gentleman. It was no other
than Mr. Woolsey, who was going forth to try a body-coat for a
customer. "Are you ill?--what's the matter?--for God's sake come
in!" and he took her arm under his, and led her into his
back-parlour, and seated her, and had some wine and water before her
in one minute, before she had said one single word regarding
As soon as she was somewhat recovered, and with the interruption of
a thousand sobs, the poor thing told as well as she could her little
story. Mr. Eglantine had arrested Mr. Walker: she had been trying
to gain time for him; Eglantine had refused.
"The hard-hearted cowardly brute to refuse HER anything!" said loyal
Mr. Woolsey. "My dear," says he, "I've no reason to love your
husband, and I know too much about him to respect him; but I love
and respect YOU, and will spend my last shilling to serve you." At
which Morgiana could only take his hand and cry a great deal more
than ever. She said Mr. Walker would have a great deal of money in
a week, that he was the best of husbands, and she was sure Mr.
Woolsey would think better of him when he knew him; that Mr.
Eglantine's bill was one hundred and fifty pounds, but that Mr.
Mossrose would take forty per cent. if Mr. Woolsey could say how
much that was.
"I'll pay a thousand pound to do you good," said Mr. Woolsey,
bouncing up; "stay here for ten minutes, my dear, until my return,
and all shall be right, as you will see." He was back in ten
minutes, and had called a cab from the stand opposite (all the
coachmen there had seen and commented on Mrs. Walker's woebegone
looks), and they were off for Cursitor Street in a moment. "They'll
settle the whole debt for twenty pounds," said he, and showed an
order to that effect from Mr. Mossrose to Mr. Bendigo, empowering
the latter to release Walker on receiving Mr. Woolsey's
acknowledgment for the above sum.
"There's no use paying it," said Mr. Walker, doggedly; "it would
only be robbing you, Mr. Woolsey--seven more detainers have come in
while my wife has been away. I must go through the court now; but,"
he added in a whisper to the tailor, "my good sir, my debts of
HONOUR are sacred, and if you will have the goodness to lend ME the
twenty pounds, I pledge you my word as a gentleman to return it when
I come out of quod."
It is probable that Mr. Woolsey declined this; for, as soon as he
was gone, Walker, in a tremendous fury, began cursing his wife for
dawdling three hours on the road. "Why the deuce, ma'am, didn't you
take a cab?" roared he, when he heard she had walked to Bond Street.
"Those writs have only been in half an hour, and I might have been
off but for you."
"Oh, Howard," said she, "didn't you take--didn't I give you my--my
last shilling?" and fell back and wept again more bitterly than
"Well, love," said her amiable husband, turning rather red, "never
mind, it wasn't your fault. It is but going through the court. It
is no great odds. I forgive you."
IN WHICH MR. WALKER STILL REMAINS IN DIFFICULTIES, BUT SHOWS GREAT
RESIGNATION UNDER HIS MISFORTUNES.
The exemplary Walker, seeing that escape from his enemies was
hopeless, and that it was his duty as a man to turn on them and face
them, now determined to quit the splendid though narrow lodgings
which Mr. Bendigo had provided for him, and undergo the martyrdom of
the Fleet. Accordingly, in company with that gentleman, he came
over to Her Majesty's prison, and gave himself into the custody of
the officers there; and did not apply for the accommodation of the
Rules (by which in those days the captivity of some debtors was
considerably lightened), because he knew perfectly well that there
was no person in the wide world who would give a security for the
heavy sums for which Walker was answerable. What these sums were is
no matter, and on this head we do not think it at all necessary to
satisfy the curiosity of the reader. He may have owed hundreds--
thousands, his creditors only can tell; he paid the dividend which
has been formerly mentioned, and showed thereby his desire to
satisfy all claims upon him to the uttermost farthing.
As for the little house in Connaught Square, when, after quitting
her husband, Morgiana drove back thither, the door was opened by the
page, who instantly thanked her to pay his wages; and in the
drawing-room, on a yellow satin sofa, sat a seedy man (with a pot of
porter beside him placed on an album for fear of staining the
rosewood table), and the seedy man signified that he had taken
possession of the furniture in execution for a judgment debt.
Another seedy man was in the dining-room, reading a newspaper, and
drinking gin; he informed Mrs. Walker that he was the representative
of another judgment debt and of another execution:--"There's another
on 'em in the kitchen," said the page, "taking an inwentory of the
furniture; and he swears he'll have you took up for swindling, for
pawning the plate."
"Sir," said Mr. Woolsey, for that worthy man had conducted Morgiana
home--"sir," said he, shaking his stick at the young page, "if you
give any more of your impudence, I'll beat every button off your
jacket:" and as there were some four hundred of these ornaments, the
page was silent. It was a great mercy for Morgiana that the honest
and faithful tailor had accompanied her. The good fellow had waited
very patiently for her for an hour in the parlour or coffee-room of
the lock-up house, knowing full well that she would want a protector
on her way homewards; and his kindness will be more appreciated when
it is stated that, during the time of his delay in the coffee-room,
he had been subject to the entreaties, nay, to the insults, of
Cornet Fipkin of the Blues, who was in prison at the suit of Linsey,
Woolsey and Co., and who happened to be taking his breakfast in the
apartment when his obdurate creditor entered it. The Cornet (a hero
of eighteen, who stood at least five feet three in his boots, and
owed fifteen thousand pounds) was so enraged at the obduracy of his
creditor that he said he would have thrown him out of the window but
for the bars which guarded it; and entertained serious thoughts of
knocking the tailor's head off, but that the latter, putting his
right leg forward and his fists in a proper attitude, told the young
officer to "come on;" on which the Cornet cursed the tailor for a
"snob," and went back to his breakfast.
The execution people having taken charge of Mr. Walker's house, Mrs.
Walker was driven to take refuge with her mamma near "Sadler's
Wells," and the Captain remained comfortably lodged in the Fleet.
He had some ready money, and with it managed to make his existence
exceedingly comfortable. He lived with the best society of the
place, consisting of several distinguished young noblemen and
gentlemen. He spent the morning playing at fives and smoking
cigars; the evening smoking cigars and dining comfortably. Cards
came after dinner; and, as the Captain was an experienced player,
and near a score of years older than most of his friends, he was
generally pretty successful: indeed, if he had received all the
money that was owed to him, he might have come out of prison and
paid his creditors twenty shillings in the pound--that is, if he had
been minded to do so. But there is no use in examining into that
point too closely, for the fact is, young Fipkin only paid him forty
pounds out of seven hundred, for which he gave him I.O.U.'s;
Algernon Deuceace not only did not pay him three hundred and twenty
which he lost at blind hookey, but actually borrowed seven and
sixpence in money from Walker, which has never been repaid to this
day; and Lord Doublequits actually lost nineteen thousand pounds to
him at heads and tails, which he never paid, pleading drunkenness
and his minority. The reader may recollect a paragraph which went
the round of the papers entitled--
"Affair of honour in the Fleet Prison.--Yesterday morning (behind
the pump in the second court) Lord D-bl-qu-ts and Captain H-w-rd
W-lk-r (a near relative, we understand, of his Grace the Duke of
N-rf-lk) had a hostile meeting and exchanged two shots. These two
young sprigs of nobility were attended to the ground by Major Flush,
who, by the way, is FLUSH no longer, and Captain Pam, late of the --
--- Dragoons. Play is said to have been the cause of the quarrel,
and the gallant Captain is reported to have handled the noble lord's
nose rather roughly at one stage of the transactions."
When Morgiana at "Sadler's Wells" heard these news, she was ready to
faint with terror; and rushed to the Fleet Prison, and embraced her
lord and master with her usual expansion and fits of tears: very
much to that gentleman's annoyance, who happened to be in company
with Pain and Flush at the time, and did not care that his handsome
wife should be seen too much in the dubious precincts of the Fleet.
He had at least so much shame about him, and had always rejected her
entreaties to be allowed to inhabit the prison with him.
"It is enough," would he say, casting his eyes heavenward, and with
a most lugubrious countenance--"it is enough, Morgiana, that _I_
should suffer, even though your thoughtlessness has been the cause
of my ruin. But enough of THAT! I will not rebuke you for faults
for which I know you are now repentant; and I never could bear to
see you in the midst of the miseries of this horrible place. Remain
at home with your mother, and let me drag on the weary days here
alone. If you can get me any more of that pale sherry, my love, do.
I require something to cheer me in solitude, and have found my chest
very much relieved by that wine. Put more pepper and eggs, my dear,
into the next veal-pie you make me. I can't eat the horrible messes
in the coffee-room here."
It was Walker's wish, I can't tell why, except that it is the wish
of a great number of other persons in this strange world, to make
his wife believe that he was wretched in mind and ill in health; and
all assertions to this effect the simple creature received with
numberless tears of credulity: she would go home to Mrs. Crump, and
say how her darling Howard was pining away, how he was ruined for
HER, and with what angelic sweetness he bore his captivity. The
fact is, he bore it with so much resignation that no other person in
the world could see that he was unhappy. His life was undisturbed
by duns; his day was his own from morning till night; his diet was
good, his acquaintances jovial, his purse tolerably well supplied,
and he had not one single care to annoy him.
Mrs. Crump and Woolsey, perhaps, received Morgiana's account of her
husband's miseries with some incredulity. The latter was now a
daily visitor to "Sadler's Wells." His love for Morgiana had become
a warm fatherly generous regard for her; it was out of the honest
fellow's cellar that the wine used to come which did so much good to
Mr. Walker's chest; and he tried a thousand ways to make Morgiana
A very happy day, indeed, it was when, returning from her visit to
the Fleet, she found in her mother's sitting-room her dear grand
rosewood piano, and every one of her music-books, which the
kind-hearted tailor had purchased at the sale of Walker's effects.
And I am not ashamed to say that Morgiana herself was so charmed,
that when, as usual, Mr. Woolsey came to drink tea in the evening,
she actually gave him a kiss; which frightened Mr. Woolsey, and made
him blush exceedingly. She sat down, and played him that evening
every one of the songs which he liked--the OLD songs--none of your
Italian stuff. Podmore, the old music-master, was there too, and
was delighted and astonished at the progress in singing which
Morgiana had made; and when the little party separated, he took Mr.
Woolsey by the hand, and said, "Give me leave to tell you, sir, that
you're a TRUMP."
"That he is," said Canterfield, the first tragic; "an honour to
human nature. A man whose hand is open as day to melting charity,
and whose heart ever melts at the tale of woman's distress."
"Pooh, pooh, stuff and nonsense, sir," said the tailor; but, upon my
word, Mr. Canterfield's words were perfectly correct. I wish as
much could be said in favour of Woolsey's old rival, Mr. Eglantine,
who attended the sale too, but it was with a horrid kind of
satisfaction at the thought that Walker was ruined. He bought the
yellow satin sofa before mentioned, and transferred it to what he
calls his "sitting-room," where it is to this day, bearing many
marks of the best bear's grease. Woolsey bid against Baroski for
the piano, very nearly up to the actual value of the instrument,
when the artist withdrew from competition; and when he was sneering
at the ruin of Mr. Walker, the tailor sternly interrupted him by
saying, "What the deuce are YOU sneering at? You did it, sir; and
you're paid every shilling of your claim, ain't you?" On which
Baroski turned round to Miss Larkins, and said, Mr. Woolsey was a
"snop;" the very word, though pronounced somewhat differently, which
the gallant Cornet Fipkin had applied to him.
Well; so he WAS a snob. But, vulgar as he was, I declare, for my
part, that I have a greater respect for Mr. Woolsey than for any
single nobleman or gentleman mentioned in this true history.
It will be seen from the names of Messrs. Canterfield and Podmore
that Morgiana was again in the midst of the widow Crump's favourite
theatrical society; and this, indeed, was the case. The widow's
little room was hung round with the pictures which were mentioned at
the commencement of the story as decorating the bar of the
"Bootjack;" and several times in a week she received her friends
from "The Wells," and entertained them with such humble refreshments
of tea and crumpets as her modest means permitted her to purchase.
Among these persons Morgiana lived and sang quite as contentedly as
she had ever done among the demireps of her husband's society; and,
only she did not dare to own it to herself, was a great deal happier
than she had been for many a day. Mrs. Captain Walker was still a
great lady amongst them. Even in his ruin, Walker, the director of
three companies, and the owner of the splendid pony-chaise, was to
these simple persons an awful character; and when mentioned they
talked with a great deal of gravity of his being in the country, and
hoped Mrs. Captain W. had good news of him. They all knew he was
in the Fleet; but had he not in prison fought a duel with a
viscount? Montmorency (of the Norfolk Circuit) was in the Fleet
too; and when Canterfield went to see poor Montey, the latter had
pointed out Walker to his friend, who actually hit Lord George
Tennison across the shoulders in play with a racket-bat; which event
was soon made known to the whole green-room.
"They had me up one day," said Montmorency, "to sing a comic song,
and give my recitations; and we had champagne and lobster-salad:
SUCH nobs!" added the player. "Billingsgate and Vauxhall were there
too, and left college at eight o'clock."
When Morgiana was told of the circumstance by her mother, she hoped
her dear Howard had enjoyed the evening, and was thankful that for
once he could forget his sorrows. Nor, somehow, was she ashamed of
herself for being happy afterwards, but gave way to her natural
good-humour without repentance or self-rebuke. I believe, indeed
(alas! why are we made acquainted with the same fact regarding
ourselves long after it is past and gone?)--I believe these were the
happiest days of Morgiana's whole life. She had no cares except the
pleasant one of attending on her husband, an easy smiling
temperament which made her regardless of to-morrow; and, add to
this, a delightful hope relative to a certain interesting event
which was about to occur, and which I shall not particularise
further than by saying, that she was cautioned against too much
singing by Mr. Squills, her medical attendant; and that widow Crump
was busy making up a vast number of little caps and diminutive
cambric shirts, such as delighted GRANDMOTHERS are in the habit of
fashioning. I hope this is as genteel a way of signifying the
circumstance which was about to take place in the Walker family as
Miss Prim herself could desire. Mrs. Walker's mother was about to
become a grandmother. There's a phrase! The Morning Post, which
says this story is vulgar, I'm sure cannot quarrel with that. I
don't believe the whole Court Guide would convey an intimation more
Well, Mrs. Crump's little grandchild was born, entirely to the
dissatisfaction, I must say, of his father; who, when the infant was
brought to him in the Fleet, had him abruptly covered up in his
cloak again, from which he had been removed by the jealous prison
doorkeepers: why, do you think? Walker had a quarrel with one of
them, and the wretch persisted in believing that the bundle Mrs.
Crump was bringing to her son-in-law was a bundle of disguised
"The brutes!" said the lady;" and the father's a brute, too," said
she. "He takes no more notice of me than if I was a kitchen-maid,
and of Woolsey than if he was a leg of mutton--the dear blessed
Mrs. Crump was a mother-in-law; let us pardon her hatred of her
The Woolsey compared in the above sentence both to a leg of mutton
and a cherub, was not the eminent member of the firm of Linsey,
Woolsey, and Co. , but the little baby, who was christened Howard
Woolsey Walker, with the full consent of the father; who said the
tailor was a deuced good fellow, and felt really obliged to him for
the sherry, for a frock-coat which he let him have in prison, and
for his kindness to Morgiana. The tailor loved the little boy with
all his soul; he attended his mother to her churching, and the child
to the font; and, as a present to his little godson on his
christening, he sent two yards of the finest white kerseymere in his
shop, to make him a cloak. The Duke had had a pair of
inexpressibles off that very piece.
House-furniture is bought and sold, music-lessons are given,
children are born and christened, ladies are confined and
churched--time, in other words, passes--and yet Captain Walker still
remains in prison! Does it not seem strange that he should still
languish there between palisaded walls near Fleet Market, and that
he should not be restored to that active and fashionable world of
which he was an ornament? The fact is, the Captain had been before
the court for the examination of his debts; and the Commissioner,
with a cruelty quite shameful towards a fallen man, had qualified
his ways of getting money in most severe language, and had sent him
back to prison again for the space of nine calendar months, an
indefinite period, and until his accounts could be made up. This
delay Walker bore like a philosopher, and, far from repining, was
still the gayest fellow of the tennis-court, and the soul of the
There is no use in raking up old stories, and hunting through files
of dead newspapers, to know what were the specific acts which made
the Commissioner so angry with Captain Walker. Many a rogue has
come before the Court, and passed through it since then: and I
would lay a wager that Howard Walker was not a bit worse than his
neighbours. But as he was not a lord, and as he had no friends on
coming out of prison, and had settled no money on his wife, and had,
as it must be confessed, an exceedingly bad character, it is not
likely that the latter would be forgiven him when once more free in
the world. For instance, when Doublequits left the Fleet, he was
received with open arms by his family, and had two-and-thirty horses
in his stables before a week was over. Pam, of the Dragoons, came
out, and instantly got a place as government courier--a place found
so good of late years (and no wonder, it is better pay than that of
a colonel), that our noblemen and gentry eagerly press for it.
Frank Hurricane was sent out as registrar of Tobago, or Sago, or
Ticonderago; in fact, for a younger son of good family it is rather
advantageous to get into debt twenty or thirty thousand pounds: you
are sure of a good place afterwards in the colonies. Your friends
are so anxious to get rid of you, that they will move heaven and
earth to serve you. And so all the above companions of misfortune
with Walker were speedily made comfortable; but HE had no rich
parents; his old father was dead in York jail. How was he to start
in the world again? What friendly hand was there to fill his pocket
with gold, and his cup with sparkling champagne? He was, in fact,
an object of the greatest pity--for I know of no greater than a
gentleman of his habits without the means of gratifying them. He
must live well, and he has not the means. Is there a more pathetic
case? As for a mere low beggar--some labourless labourer, or some
weaver out of place--don't let us throw away our compassion upon
THEM. Psha! they're accustomed to starve. They CAN sleep upon
boards, or dine off a crust; whereas a gentleman would die in the
same situation. I think this was poor Morgiana's way of reasoning.
For Walker's cash in prison beginning presently to run low, and
knowing quite well that the dear fellow could not exist there
without the luxuries to which he had been accustomed, she borrowed
money from her mother, until the poor old lady was a sec. She even
confessed, with tears, to Woolsey, that she was in particular want
of twenty pounds, to pay a poor milliner, whose debt she could not
bear to put in her husband's schedule. And I need not say she
carried the money to her husband, who might have been greatly
benefited by it--only he had a bad run of luck at the cards; and how
the deuce can a man help THAT?
Woolsey had repurchased for her one of the Cashmere shawls. She
left it behind her one day at the Fleet prison, and some rascal
stole it there; having the grace, however, to send Woolsey the
ticket, signifying the place where it had been pawned. Who could
the scoundrel have been? Woolsey swore a great oath, and fancied he
knew; but if it was Walker himself (as Woolsey fancied, and probably
as was the case) who made away with the shawl, being pressed thereto
by necessity, was it fair to call him a scoundrel for so doing, and
should we not rather laud the delicacy of his proceeding? He was
poor: who can command the cards? But he did not wish his wife
should know HOW poor: he could not bear that she should suppose him
arrived at the necessity of pawning a shawl.
She who had such beautiful ringlets, of a sudden pleaded cold in the
head, and took to wearing caps. One summer evening, as she and the
baby and Mrs. Crump and Woolsey (let us say all four babies
together) were laughing and playing in Mrs. Crump's
drawing-room--playing the most absurd gambols, fat Mrs. Crump, for
instance, hiding behind the sofa, Woolsey chuck-chucking,
cock-a-doodle-dooing, and performing those indescribable freaks
which gentlemen with philoprogenitive organs will execute in the
company of children--in the midst of their play the baby gave a tug
at his mother's cap; off it came--her hair was cut close to her
Morgiana turned as red as sealing-wax, and trembled very much; Mrs.
Crump screamed, "My child, where is your hair?" and Woolsey,
bursting out with a most tremendous oath against Walker that would
send Miss Prim into convulsions, put his handkerchief to his face,
and actually wept. "The infernal bubble-ubble-ackguard!" said he,
roaring and clenching his fists.
As he had passed the Bower of Bloom a few days before, he saw
Mossrose, who was combing out a jet-black ringlet, and held it up,
as if for Woolsey's examination, with a peculiar grin. The tailor
did not understand the joke, but he saw now what had happened.
Morgiana had sold her hair for five guineas; she would have sold her
arm had her husband bidden her. On looking in her drawers it was
found she had sold almost all her wearing apparel; the child's
clothes were all there, however. It was because her husband talked
of disposing of a gilt coral that the child had, that she had parted
with the locks which had formed her pride.
"I'll give you twenty guineas for that hair, you infamous fat
coward," roared the little tailor to Eglantine that evening. "Give
it up, or I'll kill you-"
"Mr. Mossrose! Mr. Mossrose!" shouted the perfumer.
"Vell, vatsh de matter, vatsh de row, fight avay, my boys; two to
one on the tailor," said Mr. Mossrose, much enjoying the sport (for
Woolsey, striding through the shop without speaking to him, had
rushed into the studio, where he plumped upon Eglantine).
"Tell him about that hair, sir."
"That hair! Now keep yourself quiet, Mister Timble, and don't tink
for to bully ME. You mean Mrs. Valker's 'air? Vy, she sold it me."
"And the more blackguard you for buying it! Will you take twenty
guineas for it?"
"No," said Mossrose.
"Can't," said Mossrose.
"Hang it! will you take forty? There!"
"I vish I'd kep it," said the Hebrew gentleman, with unfeigned
regret. "Eglantine dressed it this very night."
"For Countess Baldenstiern, the Swedish Hambassador's lady," says
Eglantine (his Hebrew partner was by no means a favourite with the
ladies, and only superintended the accounts of the concern). "It's
this very night at Devonshire 'Ouse, with four hostrich plumes,
lappets, and trimmings. And now, Mr. Woolsey, I'll trouble you to
Mr. Woolsey did not answer, but walked up to Mr. Eglantine, and
snapped his fingers so close under the perfumer's nose that the
latter started back and seized the bell-rope. Mossrose burst out
laughing, and the tailor walked majestically from the shop, with
both hands stuck between the lappets of his coat.
"My dear," said he to Morgiana a short time afterwards, "you must
not encourage that husband of yours in his extravagance, and sell
the clothes off your poor back that he may feast and act the fine
gentleman in prison."
"It is his health, poor dear soul!" interposed Mrs. Walker: "his
chest. Every farthing of the money goes to the doctors, poor
"Well, now listen: I am a rich man" (it was a great fib, for
Woolsey's income, as a junior partner of the firm, was but a small
one); "I can very well afford to make him an allowance while he is
in the Fleet, and have written to him to say so. But if you ever
give him a penny, or sell a trinket belonging to you, upon my word
and honour I will withdraw the allowance, and, though it would go to
my heart, I'll never see you again. You wouldn't make me unhappy,
"I'd go on my knees to serve you, and Heaven bless you," said the
"Well, then, you must give me this promise." And she did. "And
now," said he, "your mother, and Podmore, and I have been talking
over matters, and we've agreed that you may make a very good income
for yourself; though, to be sure, I wish it could have been managed
any other way; but needs must, you know. You're the finest singer
in the universe."
"La!" said Morgiana, highly delighted.
"_I_ never heard anything like you, though I'm no judge. Podmore
says he is sure you will do very well, and has no doubt you might
get very good engagements at concerts or on the stage; and as that
husband will never do any good, and you have a child to support,
sing you must."
"Oh! how glad I should be to pay his debts and repay all he has done
for me," cried Mrs. Walker. "Think of his giving two hundred
guineas to Mr. Baroski to have me taught. Was not that kind of him?
Do you REALLY think I should succeed?
"There's Miss Larkins has succeeded."
"The little high-shouldered vulgar thing!" says Morgiana. "I'm sure
I ought to succeed if SHE did."
"She sing against Morgiana?" said Mrs. Crump. "I'd like to see her,
indeed! She ain't fit to snuff a candle to her."
"I dare say not," said the tailor, "though I don't understand the
thing myself: but if Morgiana can make a fortune, why shouldn't
"Heaven knows we want it, Woolsey," cried Mrs. Crump. "And to see
her on the stage was always the wish of my heart:" and so it had
formerly been the wish of Morgiana; and now, with the hope of
helping her husband and child, the wish became a duty, and she fell
to practising once more from morning till night.
One of the most generous of men and tailors who ever lived now
promised, if further instruction should be considered necessary
(though that he could hardly believe possible), that he would lend
Morgiana any sum required for the payment of lessons; and
accordingly she once more betook herself, under Podmore's advice, to
the singing school. Baroski's academy was, after the passages
between them, out of the question, and she placed herself under the
instruction of the excellent English composer Sir George Thrum,
whose large and awful wife, Lady Thrum, dragon of virtue and
propriety, kept watch over the master and the pupils, and was the
sternest guardian of female virtue on or off any stage.
Morgiana came at a propitious moment. Baroski had launched Miss
Larkins under the name of Ligonier. The Ligonier was enjoying
considerable success, and was singing classical music to tolerable
audiences; whereas Miss Butts, Sir George's last pupil, had turned
out a complete failure, and the rival house was only able to make a
faint opposition to the new star with Miss M'Whirter, who, though an
old favourite, had lost her upper notes and her front teeth, and,
the fact was, drew no longer.
Directly Sir George heard Mrs. Walker, he tapped Podmore, who
accompanied her, on the waistcoat, and said, "Poddy, thank you;
we'll cut the orange boy's throat with that voice." It was by the
familiar title of orange boy that the great Baroski was known among
"We'll crush him, Podmore," said Lady Thrum, in her deep hollow
voice. "You may stop and dine." And Podmore stayed to dinner, and
ate cold mutton, and drank Marsala with the greatest reverence for
the great English composer. The very next day Lady Thrum hired a
pair of horses, and paid a visit to Mrs. Crump and her daughter at
All these things were kept profoundly secret from Walker, who
received very magnanimously the allowance of two guineas a week
which Woolsey made him, and with the aid of the few shillings his
wife could bring him, managed to exist as best he might. He did not
dislike gin when he could get no claret, and the former liquor,
under the name of "tape," used to be measured out pretty liberally
in what was formerly Her Majesty's prison of the Fleet.
Morgiana pursued her studies under Thrum, and we shall hear in the
next chapter how it was she changed her name to RAVENSWING.
IN WHICH MORGIANA ADVANCES TOWARDS FAME AND HONOUR, AND IN WHICH
SEVERAL GREAT LITERARY CHARACTERS MAKE THEIR APPEARANCE.
"We must begin, my dear madam," said Sir George Thrum, "by
unlearning all that Mr. Baroski (of whom I do not wish to speak with
the slightest disrespect) has taught you!"
Morgiana knew that every professor says as much, and submitted to
undergo the study requisite for Sir George's system with perfect
good grace. Au fond, as I was given to understand, the methods of
the two artists were pretty similar; but as there was rivalry
between them, and continual desertion of scholars from one school to
another, it was fair for each to take all the credit he could get in
the success of any pupil. If a pupil failed, for instance, Thrum
would say Baroski had spoiled her irretrievably; while the German
would regret "Dat dat yong voman, who had a good organ, should have
trown away her dime wid dat old Drum." When one of these deserters
succeeded, "Yes, yes," would either professor cry, "I formed her;
she owes her fortune to me." Both of them thus, in future days,
claimed the education of the famous Ravenswing; and even Sir George
Thrum, though he wished to ecraser the Ligonier, pretended that her
present success was his work because once she had been brought by
her mother, Mrs. Larkins, to sing for Sir George's approval.
When the two professors met it was with the most delighted
cordiality on the part of both. "Mein lieber Herr," Thrum would say
(with some malice), "your sonata in x flat is divine." "Chevalier,"
Baroski would reply, "dat andante movement in w is worthy of
Beethoven. I gif you my sacred honour," and so forth. In fact,
they loved each other as gentlemen in their profession always do.
The two famous professors conduct their academies on very opposite
principles. Baroski writes ballet music; Thrum, on the contrary,
says "he cannot but deplore the dangerous fascinations of the
dance," and writes more for Exeter Hall and Birmingham. While
Baroski drives a cab in the Park with a very suspicious Mademoiselle
Leocadie, or Amenaide, by his side, you may see Thrum walking to
evening church with his lady, and hymns are sung there of his own
composition. He belongs to the "Athenaeum Club," he goes to the
Levee once a year, he does everything that a respectable man should;
and if, by the means of this respectability, he manages to make his
little trade far more profitable than it otherwise would be, are we
to quarrel with him for it?
Sir George, in fact, had every reason to be respectable. He had
been a choir-boy at Windsor, had played to the old King's
violoncello, had been intimate with him, and had received knighthood
at the hand of his revered sovereign. He had a snuff-box which His
Majesty gave him, and portraits of him and the young princes all
over the house. He had also a foreign order (no other, indeed, than
the Elephant and Castle of Kalbsbraten-Pumpernickel), conferred upon
him by the Grand Duke when here with the allied sovereigns in 1814.
With this ribbon round his neck, on gala days, and in a white
waistcoat, the old gentleman looked splendid as he moved along in a
blue coat with the Windsor button, and neat black small-clothes, and
silk stockings. He lived in an old tall dingy house, furnished in
the reign of George III., his beloved master, and not much more
cheerful now than a family vault. They are awfully funereal, those
ornaments of the close of the last century--tall gloomy horse-hair
chairs, mouldy Turkey carpets with wretched druggets to guard them,
little cracked sticking-plaster miniatures of people in tours and
pigtails over high-shouldered mantelpieces, two dismal urns on each
side of a lanky sideboard, and in the midst a queer twisted
receptacle for worn-out knives with green handles. Under the
sideboard stands a cellaret that looks as if it held half a bottle
of currant wine, and a shivering plate-warmer that never could get
any comfort out of the wretched old cramped grate yonder. Don't you
know in such houses the grey gloom that hangs over the stairs, the
dull-coloured old carpet that winds its way up the same, growing
thinner, duller, and more threadbare as it mounts to the bedroom
floors? There is something awful in the bedroom of a respectable
old couple of sixty-five. Think of the old feathers, turbans,
bugles, petticoats, pomatum-pots, spencers, white satin shoes, false
fronts, the old flaccid boneless stays tied up in faded riband, the
dusky fans, the old forty-years-old baby linen, the letters of Sir
George when he was young, the doll of poor Maria who died in 1803,
Frederick's first corduroy breeches, and the newspaper which
contains the account of his distinguishing himself at the siege of
Seringapatam. All these lie somewhere, damp and squeezed down into
glum old presses and wardrobes. At that glass the wife has sat many
times these fifty years; in that old morocco bed her children were
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