Sketches by Boz
Part 14 out of 15
extremely well, and appeared in high health and spirits. Mr.
Woodensconce also came down in the same conveyance. The
distinguished gentleman was fast asleep on his arrival, and I am
informed by the guard that he had been so the whole way. He was,
no doubt, preparing for his approaching fatigues; but what gigantic
visions must those be that flit through the brain of such a man
when his body is in a state of torpidity!
'The influx of visitors increases every moment. I am told (I know
not how truly) that two post-chaises have arrived at the Original
Pig within the last half-hour, and I myself observed a wheelbarrow,
containing three carpet bags and a bundle, entering the yard of the
Pig and Tinder-box no longer ago than five minutes since. The
people are still quietly pursuing their ordinary occupations; but
there is a wildness in their eyes, and an unwonted rigidity in the
muscles of their countenances, which shows to the observant
spectator that their expectations are strained to the very utmost
pitch. I fear, unless some very extraordinary arrivals take place
to-night, that consequences may arise from this popular ferment,
which every man of sense and feeling would deplore.'
'Twenty minutes past six.
'I have just heard that the boy who fell through the pastrycook's
window last night has died of the fright. He was suddenly called
upon to pay three and sixpence for the damage done, and his
constitution, it seems, was not strong enough to bear up against
the shock. The inquest, it is said, will be held to-morrow.'
'Three-quarters part seven.
'Professors Muff and Nogo have just driven up to the hotel door;
they at once ordered dinner with great condescension. We are all
very much delighted with the urbanity of their manners, and the
ease with which they adapt themselves to the forms and ceremonies
of ordinary life. Immediately on their arrival they sent for the
head waiter, and privately requested him to purchase a live dog,--
as cheap a one as he could meet with,--and to send him up after
dinner, with a pie-board, a knife and fork, and a clean plate. It
is conjectured that some experiments will be tried upon the dog to-
night; if any particulars should transpire, I will forward them by
'The animal has been procured. He is a pug-dog, of rather
intelligent appearance, in good condition, and with very short
legs. He has been tied to a curtain-peg in a dark room, and is
'Ten minutes to nine.
'The dog has just been rung for. With an instinct which would
appear almost the result of reason, the sagacious animal seized the
waiter by the calf of the leg when he approached to take him, and
made a desperate, though ineffectual resistance. I have not been
able to procure admission to the apartment occupied by the
scientific gentlemen; but, judging from the sounds which reached my
ears when I stood upon the landing-place outside the door, just
now, I should be disposed to say that the dog had retreated
growling beneath some article of furniture, and was keeping the
professors at bay. This conjecture is confirmed by the testimony
of the ostler, who, after peeping through the keyhole, assures me
that he distinctly saw Professor Nogo on his knees, holding forth a
small bottle of prussic acid, to which the animal, who was crouched
beneath an arm-chair, obstinately declined to smell. You cannot
imagine the feverish state of irritation we are in, lest the
interests of science should be sacrificed to the prejudices of a
brute creature, who is not endowed with sufficient sense to foresee
the incalculable benefits which the whole human race may derive
from so very slight a concession on his part.'
'The dog's tail and ears have been sent down-stairs to be washed;
from which circumstance we infer that the animal is no more. His
forelegs have been delivered to the boots to be brushed, which
strengthens the supposition.'
'Half after ten.
'My feelings are so overpowered by what has taken place in the
course of the last hour and a half, that I have scarcely strength
to detail the rapid succession of events which have quite
bewildered all those who are cognizant of their occurrence. It
appears that the pug-dog mentioned in my last was surreptitiously
obtained,--stolen, in fact,--by some person attached to the stable
department, from an unmarried lady resident in this town. Frantic
on discovering the loss of her favourite, the lady rushed
distractedly into the street, calling in the most heart-rending and
pathetic manner upon the passengers to restore her, her Augustus,--
for so the deceased was named, in affectionate remembrance of a
former lover of his mistress, to whom he bore a striking personal
resemblance, which renders the circumstances additionally
affecting. I am not yet in a condition to inform you what
circumstance induced the bereaved lady to direct her steps to the
hotel which had witnessed the last struggles of her protege. I can
only state that she arrived there, at the very instant when his
detached members were passing through the passage on a small tray.
Her shrieks still reverberate in my ears! I grieve to say that the
expressive features of Professor Muff were much scratched and
lacerated by the injured lady; and that Professor Nogo, besides
sustaining several severe bites, has lost some handfuls of hair
from the same cause. It must be some consolation to these
gentlemen to know that their ardent attachment to scientific
pursuits has alone occasioned these unpleasant consequences; for
which the sympathy of a grateful country will sufficiently reward
them. The unfortunate lady remains at the Pig and Tinder-box, and
up to this time is reported in a very precarious state.
'I need scarcely tell you that this unlooked-for catastrophe has
cast a damp and gloom upon us in the midst of our exhilaration;
natural in any case, but greatly enhanced in this, by the amiable
qualities of the deceased animal, who appears to have been much and
deservedly respected by the whole of his acquaintance.'
'I take the last opportunity before sealing my parcel to inform you
that the boy who fell through the pastrycook's window is not dead,
as was universally believed, but alive and well. The report
appears to have had its origin in his mysterious disappearance. He
was found half an hour since on the premises of a sweet-stuff
maker, where a raffle had been announced for a second-hand seal-
skin cap and a tambourine; and where--a sufficient number of
members not having been obtained at first--he had patiently waited
until the list was completed. This fortunate discovery has in some
degree restored our gaiety and cheerfulness. It is proposed to get
up a subscription for him without delay.
'Everybody is nervously anxious to see what to-morrow will bring
forth. If any one should arrive in the course of the night, I have
left strict directions to be called immediately. I should have sat
up, indeed, but the agitating events of this day have been too much
'No news yet of either of the Professors Snore, Doze, or Wheezy.
It is very strange!'
'All is now over; and, upon one point at least, I am at length
enabled to set the minds of your readers at rest. The three
professors arrived at ten minutes after two o'clock, and, instead
of taking up their quarters at the Original Pig, as it was
universally understood in the course of yesterday that they would
assuredly have done, drove straight to the Pig and Tinder-box,
where they threw off the mask at once, and openly announced their
intention of remaining. Professor Wheezy may reconcile this very
extraordinary conduct with HIS notions of fair and equitable
dealing, but I would recommend Professor Wheezy to be cautious how
he presumes too far upon his well-earned reputation. How such a
man as Professor Snore, or, which is still more extraordinary, such
an individual as Professor Doze, can quietly allow himself to be
mixed up with such proceedings as these, you will naturally
inquire. Upon this head, rumour is silent; I have my speculations,
but forbear to give utterance to them just now.'
'The town is filling fast; eighteenpence has been offered for a bed
and refused. Several gentlemen were under the necessity last night
of sleeping in the brick fields, and on the steps of doors, for
which they were taken before the magistrates in a body this
morning, and committed to prison as vagrants for various terms.
One of these persons I understand to be a highly-respectable
tinker, of great practical skill, who had forwarded a paper to the
President of Section D. Mechanical Science, on the construction of
pipkins with copper bottoms and safety-values, of which report
speaks highly. The incarceration of this gentleman is greatly to
be regretted, as his absence will preclude any discussion on the
'The bills are being taken down in all directions, and lodgings are
being secured on almost any terms. I have heard of fifteen
shillings a week for two rooms, exclusive of coals and attendance,
but I can scarcely believe it. The excitement is dreadful. I was
informed this morning that the civil authorities, apprehensive of
some outbreak of popular feeling, had commanded a recruiting
sergeant and two corporals to be under arms; and that, with the
view of not irritating the people unnecessarily by their presence,
they had been requested to take up their position before daybreak
in a turnpike, distant about a quarter of a mile from the town.
The vigour and promptness of these measures cannot be too highly
'Intelligence has just been brought me, that an elderly female, in
a state of inebriety, has declared in the open street her intention
to "do" for Mr. Slug. Some statistical returns compiled by that
gentleman, relative to the consumption of raw spirituous liquors in
this place, are supposed to be the cause of the wretch's animosity.
It is added that this declaration was loudly cheered by a crowd of
persons who had assembled on the spot; and that one man had the
boldness to designate Mr. Slug aloud by the opprobrious epithet of
"Stick-in-the-mud!" It is earnestly to be hoped that now, when the
moment has arrived for their interference, the magistrates will not
shrink from the exercise of that power which is vested in them by
the constitution of our common country.'
'The disturbance, I am happy to inform you, has been completely
quelled, and the ringleader taken into custody. She had a pail of
cold water thrown over her, previous to being locked up, and
expresses great contrition and uneasiness. We are all in a fever
of anticipation about to-morrow; but, now that we are within a few
hours of the meeting of the association, and at last enjoy the
proud consciousness of having its illustrious members amongst us, I
trust and hope everything may go off peaceably. I shall send you a
full report of to-morrow's proceedings by the night coach.'
'I open my letter to say that nothing whatever has occurred since I
folded it up.'
'The sun rose this morning at the usual hour. I did not observe
anything particular in the aspect of the glorious planet, except
that he appeared to me (it might have been a delusion of my
heightened fancy) to shine with more than common brilliancy, and to
shed a refulgent lustre upon the town, such as I had never observed
before. This is the more extraordinary, as the sky was perfectly
cloudless, and the atmosphere peculiarly fine. At half-past nine
o'clock the general committee assembled, with the last year's
president in the chair. The report of the council was read; and
one passage, which stated that the council had corresponded with no
less than three thousand five hundred and seventy-one persons, (all
of whom paid their own postage,) on no fewer than seven thousand
two hundred and forty-three topics, was received with a degree of
enthusiasm which no efforts could suppress. The various committees
and sections having been appointed, and the more formal business
transacted, the great proceedings of the meeting commenced at
eleven o'clock precisely. I had the happiness of occupying a most
eligible position at that time, in
'SECTION A.--ZOOLOGY AND BOTANY.
GREAT ROOM, PIG AND TINDER-BOX.
President--Professor Snore. Vice-Presidents--Professors Doze and
'The scene at this moment was particularly striking. The sun
streamed through the windows of the apartments, and tinted the
whole scene with its brilliant rays, bringing out in strong relief
the noble visages of the professors and scientific gentlemen, who,
some with bald heads, some with red heads, some with brown heads,
some with grey heads, some with black heads, some with block heads,
presented a coup d'oeil which no eye-witness will readily forget.
In front of these gentlemen were papers and inkstands; and round
the room, on elevated benches extending as far as the forms could
reach, were assembled a brilliant concourse of those lovely and
elegant women for which Mudfog is justly acknowledged to be without
a rival in the whole world. The contrast between their fair faces
and the dark coats and trousers of the scientific gentlemen I shall
never cease to remember while Memory holds her seat.
'Time having been allowed for a slight confusion, occasioned by the
falling down of the greater part of the platforms, to subside, the
president called on one of the secretaries to read a communication
entitled, "Some remarks on the industrious fleas, with
considerations on the importance of establishing infant-schools
among that numerous class of society; of directing their industry
to useful and practical ends; and of applying the surplus fruits
thereof, towards providing for them a comfortable and respectable
maintenance in their old age."
'The author stated, that, having long turned his attention to the
moral and social condition of these interesting animals, he had
been induced to visit an exhibition in Regent-street, London,
commonly known by the designation of "The Industrious Fleas." He
had there seen many fleas, occupied certainly in various pursuits
and avocations, but occupied, he was bound to add, in a manner
which no man of well-regulated mind could fail to regard with
sorrow and regret. One flea, reduced to the level of a beast of
burden, was drawing about a miniature gig, containing a
particularly small effigy of His Grace the Duke of Wellington;
while another was staggering beneath the weight of a golden model
of his great adversary Napoleon Bonaparte. Some, brought up as
mountebanks and ballet-dancers, were performing a figure-dance (he
regretted to observe, that, of the fleas so employed, several were
females); others were in training, in a small card-board box, for
pedestrians,--mere sporting characters--and two were actually
engaged in the cold-blooded and barbarous occupation of duelling; a
pursuit from which humanity recoiled with horror and disgust. He
suggested that measures should be immediately taken to employ the
labour of these fleas as part and parcel of the productive power of
the country, which might easily be done by the establishment among
them of infant schools and houses of industry, in which a system of
virtuous education, based upon sound principles, should be
observed, and moral precepts strictly inculcated. He proposed that
every flea who presumed to exhibit, for hire, music, or dancing, or
any species of theatrical entertainment, without a licence, should
be considered a vagabond, and treated accordingly; in which respect
he only placed him upon a level with the rest of mankind. He would
further suggest that their labour should be placed under the
control and regulation of the state, who should set apart from the
profits, a fund for the support of superannuated or disabled fleas,
their widows and orphans. With this view, he proposed that liberal
premiums should be offered for the three best designs for a general
almshouse; from which--as insect architecture was well known to be
in a very advanced and perfect state--we might possibly derive many
valuable hints for the improvement of our metropolitan
universities, national galleries, and other public edifices.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to be informed how the ingenious gentleman
proposed to open a communication with fleas generally, in the first
instance, so that they might be thoroughly imbued with a sense of
the advantages they must necessarily derive from changing their
mode of life, and applying themselves to honest labour. This
appeared to him, the only difficulty.
'THE AUTHOR submitted that this difficulty was easily overcome, or
rather that there was no difficulty at all in the case. Obviously
the course to be pursued, if Her Majesty's government could be
prevailed upon to take up the plan, would be, to secure at a
remunerative salary the individual to whom he had alluded as
presiding over the exhibition in Regent-street at the period of his
visit. That gentleman would at once be able to put himself in
communication with the mass of the fleas, and to instruct them in
pursuance of some general plan of education, to be sanctioned by
Parliament, until such time as the more intelligent among them were
advanced enough to officiate as teachers to the rest.
'The President and several members of the section highly
complimented the author of the paper last read, on his most
ingenious and important treatise. It was determined that the
subject should be recommended to the immediate consideration of the
'MR. WIGSBY produced a cauliflower somewhat larger than a chaise-
umbrella, which had been raised by no other artificial means than
the simple application of highly carbonated soda-water as manure.
He explained that by scooping out the head, which would afford a
new and delicious species of nourishment for the poor, a parachute,
in principle something similar to that constructed by M. Garnerin,
was at once obtained; the stalk of course being kept downwards. He
added that he was perfectly willing to make a descent from a height
of not less than three miles and a quarter; and had in fact already
proposed the same to the proprietors of Vauxhall Gardens, who in
the handsomest manner at once consented to his wishes, and
appointed an early day next summer for the undertaking; merely
stipulating that the rim of the cauliflower should be previously
broken in three or four places to ensure the safety of the descent.
'THE PRESIDENT congratulated the public on the GRAND GALA in store
for them, and warmly eulogised the proprietors of the establishment
alluded to, for their love of science, and regard for the safety of
human life, both of which did them the highest honour.
'A Member wished to know how many thousand additional lamps the
royal property would be illuminated with, on the night after the
'MR. WIGSBY replied that the point was not yet finally decided; but
he believed it was proposed, over and above the ordinary
illuminations, to exhibit in various devices eight millions and a-
half of additional lamps.
'The Member expressed himself much gratified with this
'MR. BLUNDERUM delighted the section with a most interesting and
valuable paper "on the last moments of the learned pig," which
produced a very strong impression on the assembly, the account
being compiled from the personal recollections of his favourite
attendant. The account stated in the most emphatic terms that the
animal's name was not Toby, but Solomon; and distinctly proved that
he could have no near relatives in the profession, as many
designing persons had falsely stated, inasmuch as his father,
mother, brothers and sisters, had all fallen victims to the butcher
at different times. An uncle of his indeed, had with very great
labour been traced to a sty in Somers Town; but as he was in a very
infirm state at the time, being afflicted with measles, and shortly
afterwards disappeared, there appeared too much reason to
conjecture that he had been converted into sausages. The disorder
of the learned pig was originally a severe cold, which, being
aggravated by excessive trough indulgence, finally settled upon the
lungs, and terminated in a general decay of the constitution. A
melancholy instance of a presentiment entertained by the animal of
his approaching dissolution, was recorded. After gratifying a
numerous and fashionable company with his performances, in which no
falling off whatever was visible, he fixed his eyes on the
biographer, and, turning to the watch which lay on the floor, and
on which he was accustomed to point out the hour, deliberately
passed his snout twice round the dial. In precisely four-and-
twenty hours from that time he had ceased to exist!
'PROFESSOR WHEEZY inquired whether, previous to his demise, the
animal had expressed, by signs or otherwise, any wishes regarding
the disposal of his little property.
'MR. BLUNDERUM replied, that, when the biographer took up the pack
of cards at the conclusion of the performance, the animal grunted
several times in a significant manner, and nodding his head as he
was accustomed to do, when gratified. From these gestures it was
understood that he wished the attendant to keep the cards, which he
had ever since done. He had not expressed any wish relative to his
watch, which had accordingly been pawned by the same individual.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to know whether any Member of the section had
ever seen or conversed with the pig-faced lady, who was reported to
have worn a black velvet mask, and to have taken her meals from a
'After some hesitation a Member replied that the pig-faced lady was
his mother-in-law, and that he trusted the President would not
violate the sanctity of private life.
'THE PRESIDENT begged pardon. He had considered the pig-faced lady
a public character. Would the honourable member object to state,
with a view to the advancement of science, whether she was in any
way connected with the learned pig?
'The Member replied in the same low tone, that, as the question
appeared to involve a suspicion that the learned pig might be his
half-brother, he must decline answering it.
'SECTION B.--ANATOMY AND MEDICINE.
COACH-HOUSE, PIG AND TINDER-BOX.
President--Dr. Toorell. Vice-Presidents--Professors Muff and Nogo.
DR. KUTANKUMAGEN (of Moscow) read to the section a report of a case
which had occurred within his own practice, strikingly illustrative
of the power of medicine, as exemplified in his successful
treatment of a virulent disorder. He had been called in to visit
the patient on the 1st of April, 1837. He was then labouring under
symptoms peculiarly alarming to any medical man. His frame was
stout and muscular, his step firm and elastic, his cheeks plump and
red, his voice loud, his appetite good, his pulse full and round.
He was in the constant habit of eating three meals per diem, and of
drinking at least one bottle of wine, and one glass of spirituous
liquors diluted with water, in the course of the four-and-twenty
hours. He laughed constantly, and in so hearty a manner that it
was terrible to hear him. By dint of powerful medicine, low diet,
and bleeding, the symptoms in the course of three days perceptibly
decreased. A rigid perseverance in the same course of treatment
for only one week, accompanied with small doses of water-gruel,
weak broth, and barley-water, led to their entire disappearance.
In the course of a month he was sufficiently recovered to be
carried down-stairs by two nurses, and to enjoy an airing in a
close carriage, supported by soft pillows. At the present moment
he was restored so far as to walk about, with the slight assistance
of a crutch and a boy. It would perhaps be gratifying to the
section to learn that he ate little, drank little, slept little,
and was never heard to laugh by any accident whatever.
'DR. W. R. FEE, in complimenting the honourable member upon the
triumphant cure he had effected, begged to ask whether the patient
still bled freely?
'DR. KUTANKUMAGEN replied in the affirmative.
'DR. W. R. FEE.--And you found that he bled freely during the whole
course of the disorder?
'DR. KUTANKUMAGEN.--Oh dear, yes; most freely.
'DR. NEESHAWTS supposed, that if the patient had not submitted to
be bled with great readiness and perseverance, so extraordinary a
cure could never, in fact, have been accomplished. Dr.
Kutankumagen rejoined, certainly not.
'MR. KNIGHT BELL (M.R.C.S.) exhibited a wax preparation of the
interior of a gentleman who in early life had inadvertently
swallowed a door-key. It was a curious fact that a medical student
of dissipated habits, being present at the post mortem examination,
found means to escape unobserved from the room, with that portion
of the coats of the stomach upon which an exact model of the
instrument was distinctly impressed, with which he hastened to a
locksmith of doubtful character, who made a new key from the
pattern so shown to him. With this key the medical student entered
the house of the deceased gentleman, and committed a burglary to a
large amount, for which he was subsequently tried and executed.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to know what became of the original key after
the lapse of years. Mr. Knight Bell replied that the gentleman was
always much accustomed to punch, and it was supposed the acid had
gradually devoured it.
'DR. NEESHAWTS and several of the members were of opinion that the
key must have lain very cold and heavy upon the gentleman's
'MR. KNIGHT BELL believed it did at first. It was worthy of
remark, perhaps, that for some years the gentleman was troubled
with a night-mare, under the influence of which he always imagined
himself a wine-cellar door.
'PROFESSOR MUFF related a very extraordinary and convincing proof
of the wonderful efficacy of the system of infinitesimal doses,
which the section were doubtless aware was based upon the theory
that the very minutest amount of any given drug, properly dispersed
through the human frame, would be productive of precisely the same
result as a very large dose administered in the usual manner.
Thus, the fortieth part of a grain of calomel was supposed to be
equal to a five-grain calomel pill, and so on in proportion
throughout the whole range of medicine. He had tried the
experiment in a curious manner upon a publican who had been brought
into the hospital with a broken head, and was cured upon the
infinitesimal system in the incredibly short space of three months.
This man was a hard drinker. He (Professor Muff) had dispersed
three drops of rum through a bucket of water, and requested the man
to drink the whole. What was the result? Before he had drunk a
quart, he was in a state of beastly intoxication; and five other
men were made dead drunk with the remainder.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to know whether an infinitesimal dose of
soda-water would have recovered them? Professor Muff replied that
the twenty-fifth part of a teaspoonful, properly administered to
each patient, would have sobered him immediately. The President
remarked that this was a most important discovery, and he hoped the
Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen would patronize it immediately.
'A Member begged to be informed whether it would be possible to
administer--say, the twentieth part of a grain of bread and cheese
to all grown-up paupers, and the fortieth part to children, with
the same satisfying effect as their present allowance.
'PROFESSOR MUFF was willing to stake his professional reputation on
the perfect adequacy of such a quantity of food to the support of
human life--in workhouses; the addition of the fifteenth part of a
grain of pudding twice a week would render it a high diet.
'PROFESSOR NOGO called the attention of the section to a very
extraordinary case of animal magnetism. A private watchman, being
merely looked at by the operator from the opposite side of a wide
street, was at once observed to be in a very drowsy and languid
state. He was followed to his box, and being once slightly rubbed
on the palms of the hands, fell into a sound sleep, in which he
continued without intermission for ten hours.
HAY-LOFT, ORIGINAL PIG.
President--Mr. Woodensconce. Vice-Presidents--Mr. Ledbrain and Mr.
'MR. SLUG stated to the section the result of some calculations he
had made with great difficulty and labour, regarding the state of
infant education among the middle classes of London. He found
that, within a circle of three miles from the Elephant and Castle,
the following were the names and numbers of children's books
principally in circulation:-
'Jack the Giant-killer 7,943
Ditto and Bean-stalk 8,621
Ditto and Eleven Brothers 2,845
Ditto and Jill 1,998
'He found that the proportion of Robinson Crusoes to Philip Quarlls
was as four and a half to one; and that the preponderance of
Valentine and Orsons over Goody Two Shoeses was as three and an
eighth of the former to half a one of the latter; a comparison of
Seven Champions with Simple Simons gave the same result. The
ignorance that prevailed, was lamentable. One child, on being
asked whether he would rather be Saint George of England or a
respectable tallow-chandler, instantly replied, "Taint George of
Ingling." Another, a little boy of eight years old, was found to
be firmly impressed with a belief in the existence of dragons, and
openly stated that it was his intention when he grew up, to rush
forth sword in hand for the deliverance of captive princesses, and
the promiscuous slaughter of giants. Not one child among the
number interrogated had ever heard of Mungo Park,--some inquiring
whether he was at all connected with the black man that swept the
crossing; and others whether he was in any way related to the
Regent's Park. They had not the slightest conception of the
commonest principles of mathematics, and considered Sindbad the
Sailor the most enterprising voyager that the world had ever
'A Member strongly deprecating the use of all the other books
mentioned, suggested that Jack and Jill might perhaps be exempted
from the general censure, inasmuch as the hero and heroine, in the
very outset of the tale, were depicted as going UP a hill to fetch
a pail of water, which was a laborious and useful occupation,--
supposing the family linen was being washed, for instance.
'MR. SLUG feared that the moral effect of this passage was more
than counterbalanced by another in a subsequent part of the poem,
in which very gross allusion was made to the mode in which the
heroine was personally chastised by her mother
"'For laughing at Jack's disaster;"
besides, the whole work had this one great fault, IT WAS NOT TRUE.
'THE PRESIDENT complimented the honourable member on the excellent
distinction he had drawn. Several other Members, too, dwelt upon
the immense and urgent necessity of storing the minds of children
with nothing but facts and figures; which process the President
very forcibly remarked, had made them (the section) the men they
'MR. SLUG then stated some curious calculations respecting the
dogs'-meat barrows of London. He found that the total number of
small carts and barrows engaged in dispensing provision to the cats
and dogs of the metropolis was, one thousand seven hundred and
forty-three. The average number of skewers delivered daily with
the provender, by each dogs'-meat cart or barrow, was thirty-six.
Now, multiplying the number of skewers so delivered by the number
of barrows, a total of sixty-two thousand seven hundred and forty-
eight skewers daily would be obtained. Allowing that, of these
sixty-two thousand seven hundred and forty-eight skewers, the odd
two thousand seven hundred and forty-eight were accidentally
devoured with the meat, by the most voracious of the animals
supplied, it followed that sixty thousand skewers per day, or the
enormous number of twenty-one millions nine hundred thousand
skewers annually, were wasted in the kennels and dustholes of
London; which, if collected and warehoused, would in ten years'
time afford a mass of timber more than sufficient for the
construction of a first-rate vessel of war for the use of her
Majesty's navy, to be called "The Royal Skewer," and to become
under that name the terror of all the enemies of this island.
'MR. X. LEDBRAIN read a very ingenious communication, from which it
appeared that the total number of legs belonging to the
manufacturing population of one great town in Yorkshire was, in
round numbers, forty thousand, while the total number of chair and
stool legs in their houses was only thirty thousand, which, upon
the very favourable average of three legs to a seat, yielded only
ten thousand seats in all. From this calculation it would appear,-
-not taking wooden or cork legs into the account, but allowing two
legs to every person,--that ten thousand individuals (one-half of
the whole population) were either destitute of any rest for their
legs at all, or passed the whole of their leisure time in sitting
'SECTION D.--MECHANICAL SCIENCE.
COACH-HOUSE, ORIGINAL PIG.
President--Mr. Carter. Vice-Presidents--Mr. Truck and Mr. Waghorn.
'PROFESSOR QUEERSPECK exhibited an elegant model of a portable
railway, neatly mounted in a green case, for the waistcoat pocket.
By attaching this beautiful instrument to his boots, any Bank or
public-office clerk could transport himself from his place of
residence to his place of business, at the easy rate of sixty-five
miles an hour, which, to gentlemen of sedentary pursuits, would be
an incalculable advantage.
'THE PRESIDENT was desirous of knowing whether it was necessary to
have a level surface on which the gentleman was to run.
'PROFESSOR QUEERSPECK explained that City gentlemen would run in
trains, being handcuffed together to prevent confusion or
unpleasantness. For instance, trains would start every morning at
eight, nine, and ten o'clock, from Camden Town, Islington,
Camberwell, Hackney, and various other places in which City
gentlemen are accustomed to reside. It would be necessary to have
a level, but he had provided for this difficulty by proposing that
the best line that the circumstances would admit of, should be
taken through the sewers which undermine the streets of the
metropolis, and which, well lighted by jets from the gas pipes
which run immediately above them, would form a pleasant and
commodious arcade, especially in winter-time, when the inconvenient
custom of carrying umbrellas, now so general, could be wholly
dispensed with. In reply to another question, Professor Queerspeck
stated that no substitute for the purposes to which these arcades
were at present devoted had yet occurred to him, but that he hoped
no fanciful objection on this head would be allowed to interfere
with so great an undertaking.
'MR. JOBBA produced a forcing-machine on a novel plan, for bringing
joint-stock railway shares prematurely to a premium. The
instrument was in the form of an elegant gilt weather-glass, of
most dazzling appearance, and was worked behind, by strings, after
the manner of a pantomime trick, the strings being always pulled by
the directors of the company to which the machine belonged. The
quicksilver was so ingeniously placed, that when the acting
directors held shares in their pockets, figures denoting very small
expenses and very large returns appeared upon the glass; but the
moment the directors parted with these pieces of paper, the
estimate of needful expenditure suddenly increased itself to an
immense extent, while the statements of certain profits became
reduced in the same proportion. Mr. Jobba stated that the machine
had been in constant requisition for some months past, and he had
never once known it to fail.
'A Member expressed his opinion that it was extremely neat and
pretty. He wished to know whether it was not liable to accidental
derangement? Mr. Jobba said that the whole machine was undoubtedly
liable to be blown up, but that was the only objection to it.
'PROFESSOR NOGO arrived from the anatomical section to exhibit a
model of a safety fire-escape, which could be fixed at any time, in
less than half an hour, and by means of which, the youngest or most
infirm persons (successfully resisting the progress of the flames
until it was quite ready) could be preserved if they merely
balanced themselves for a few minutes on the sill of their bedroom
window, and got into the escape without falling into the street.
The Professor stated that the number of boys who had been rescued
in the daytime by this machine from houses which were not on fire,
was almost incredible. Not a conflagration had occurred in the
whole of London for many months past to which the escape had not
been carried on the very next day, and put in action before a
concourse of persons.
'THE PRESIDENT inquired whether there was not some difficulty in
ascertaining which was the top of the machine, and which the
bottom, in cases of pressing emergency.
'PROFESSOR NOGO explained that of course it could not be expected
to act quite as well when there was a fire, as when there was not a
fire; but in the former case he thought it would be of equal
service whether the top were up or down.'
With the last section our correspondent concludes his most able and
faithful Report, which will never cease to reflect credit upon him
for his scientific attainments, and upon us for our enterprising
spirit. It is needless to take a review of the subjects which have
been discussed; of the mode in which they have been examined; of
the great truths which they have elicited. They are now before the
world, and we leave them to read, to consider, and to profit.
The place of meeting for next year has undergone discussion, and
has at length been decided, regard being had to, and evidence being
taken upon, the goodness of its wines, the supply of its markets,
the hospitality of its inhabitants, and the quality of its hotels.
We hope at this next meeting our correspondent may again be
present, and that we may be once more the means of placing his
communications before the world. Until that period we have been
prevailed upon to allow this number of our Miscellany to be
retailed to the public, or wholesaled to the trade, without any
advance upon our usual price.
We have only to add, that the committees are now broken up, and
that Mudfog is once again restored to its accustomed tranquillity,-
-that Professors and Members have had balls, and soirees, and
suppers, and great mutual complimentations, and have at length
dispersed to their several homes,--whither all good wishes and joys
attend them, until next year!
FULL REPORT OF THE SECOND MEETING OF THE MUDFOG ASSOCIATION FOR THE
ADVANCEMENT OF EVERYTHING
In October last, we did ourselves the immortal credit of recording,
at an enormous expense, and by dint of exertions unnpralleled in
the history of periodical publication, the proceedings of the
Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything, which in that
month held its first great half-yearly meeting, to the wonder and
delight of the whole empire. We announced at the conclusion of
that extraordinary and most remarkable Report, that when the Second
Meeting of the Society should take place, we should be found again
at our post, renewing our gigantic and spirited endeavours, and
once more making the world ring with the accuracy, authenticity,
immeasurable superiority, and intense remarkability of our account
of its proceedings. In redemption of this pledge, we caused to be
despatched per steam to Oldcastle (at which place this second
meeting of the Society was held on the 20th instant), the same
superhumanly-endowed gentleman who furnished the former report, and
who,--gifted by nature with transcendent abilities, and furnished
by us with a body of assistants scarcely inferior to himself,--has
forwarded a series of letters, which, for faithfulness of
description, power of language, fervour of thought, happiness of
expression, and importance of subject-matter, have no equal in the
epistolary literature of any age or country. We give this
gentleman's correspondence entire, and in the order in which it
reached our office.
'Saloon of Steamer, Thursday night, half-past eight.
'When I left New Burlington Street this evening in the hackney
cabriolet, number four thousand two hundred and eighty-five, I
experienced sensations as novel as they were oppressive. A sense
of the importance of the task I had undertaken, a consciousness
that I was leaving London, and, stranger still, going somewhere
else, a feeling of loneliness and a sensation of jolting, quite
bewildered my thoughts, and for a time rendered me even insensible
to the presence of my carpet-bag and hat-box. I shall ever feel
grateful to the driver of a Blackwall omnibus who, by thrusting the
pole of his vehicle through the small door of the cabriolet,
awakened me from a tumult of imaginings that are wholly
indescribable. But of such materials is our imperfect nature
'I am happy to say that I am the first passenger on board, and
shall thus be enabled to give you an account of all that happens in
the order of its occurrence. The chimney is smoking a good deal,
and so are the crew; and the captain, I am informed, is very drunk
in a little house upon deck, something like a black turnpike. I
should infer from all I hear that he has got the steam up.
'You will readily guess with what feelings I have just made the
discovery that my berth is in the same closet with those engaged by
Professor Woodensconce, Mr. Slug, and Professor Grime. Professor
Woodensconce has taken the shelf above me, and Mr. Slug and
Professor Grime the two shelves opposite. Their luggage has
already arrived. On Mr. Slug's bed is a long tin tube of about
three inches in diameter, carefully closed at both ends. What can
this contain? Some powerful instrument of a new construction,
'Ten minutes past nine.
'Nobody has yet arrived, nor has anything fresh come in my way
except several joints of beef and mutton, from which I conclude
that a good plain dinner has been provided for to-morrow. There is
a singular smell below, which gave me some uneasiness at first; but
as the steward says it is always there, and never goes away, I am
quite comfortable again. I learn from this man that the different
sections will be distributed at the Black Boy and Stomach-ache, and
the Boot-jack and Countenance. If this intelligence be true (and I
have no reason to doubt it), your readers will draw such
conclusions as their different opinions may suggest.
'I write down these remarks as they occur to me, or as the facts
come to my knowledge, in order that my first impressions may lose
nothing of their original vividness. I shall despatch them in
small packets as opportunities arise.'
'Half past nine.
'Some dark object has just appeared upon the wharf. I think it is
a travelling carriage.'
'A quarter to ten.
'No, it isn't.'
The passengers are pouring in every instant. Four omnibuses full
have just arrived upon the wharf, and all is bustle and activity.
The noise and confusion are very great. Cloths are laid in the
cabins, and the steward is placing blue plates--full of knobs of
cheese at equal distances down the centre of the tables. He drops
a great many knobs; but, being used to it, picks them up again with
great dexterity, and, after wiping them on his sleeve, throws them
back into the plates. He is a young man of exceedingly
prepossessing appearance--either dirty or a mulatto, but I think
'An interesting old gentleman, who came to the wharf in an omnibus,
has just quarrelled violently with the porters, and is staggering
towards the vessel with a large trunk in his arms. I trust and
hope that he may reach it in safety; but the board he has to cross
is narrow and slippery. Was that a splash? Gracious powers!
'I have just returned from the deck. The trunk is standing upon
the extreme brink of the wharf, but the old gentleman is nowhere to
be seen. The watchman is not sure whether he went down or not, but
promises to drag for him the first thing to-morrow morning. May
his humane efforts prove successful!
'Professor Nogo has this moment arrived with his nightcap on under
his hat. He has ordered a glass of cold brandy and water, with a
hard biscuit and a basin, and has gone straight to bed. What can
'The three other scientific gentlemen to whom I have already
alluded have come on board, and have all tried their beds, with the
exception of Professor Woodensconce, who sleeps in one of the top
ones, and can't get into it. Mr. Slug, who sleeps in the other top
one, is unable to get out of his, and is to have his supper handed
up by a boy. I have had the honour to introduce myself to these
gentlemen, and we have amicably arranged the order in which we
shall retire to rest; which it is necessary to agree upon, because,
although the cabin is very comfortable, there is not room for more
than one gentleman to be out of bed at a time, and even he must
take his boots off in the passage.
'As I anticipated, the knobs of cheese were provided for the
passengers' supper, and are now in course of consumption. Your
readers will be surprised to hear that Professor Woodensconce has
abstained from cheese for eight years, although he takes butter in
considerable quantities. Professor Grime having lost several
teeth, is unable, I observe, to eat his crusts without previously
soaking them in his bottled porter. How interesting are these
'Professors Woodensconce and Grime, with a degree of good humour
that delights us all, have just arranged to toss for a bottle of
mulled port. There has been some discussion whether the payment
should be decided by the first toss or the best out of three.
Eventually the latter course has been determined on. Deeply do I
wish that both gentlemen could win; but that being impossible, I
own that my personal aspirations (I speak as an individual, and do
not compromise either you or your readers by this expression of
feeling) are with Professor Woodensconce. I have backed that
gentleman to the amount of eighteenpence.'
'Twenty minutes to twelve.
'Professor Grime has inadvertently tossed his half-crown out of one
of the cabin-windows, and it has been arranged that the steward
shall toss for him. Bets are offered on any side to any amount,
but there are no takers.
'Professor Woodensconce has just called "woman;" but the coin
having lodged in a beam, is a long time coming down again. The
interest and suspense of this one moment are beyond anything that
can be imagined.'
'The mulled port is smoking on the table before me, and Professor
Grime has won. Tossing is a game of chance; but on every ground,
whether of public or private character, intellectual endowments, or
scientific attainments, I cannot help expressing my opinion that
Professor Woodensconce OUGHT to have come off victorious. There is
an exultation about Professor Grime incompatible, I fear, with true
'A quarter past twelve.
'Professor Grime continues to exult, and to boast of his victory in
no very measured terms, observing that he always does win, and that
he knew it would be a "head" beforehand, with many other remarks of
a similar nature. Surely this gentleman is not so lost to every
feeling of decency and propriety as not to feel and know the
superiority of Professor Woodensconce? Is Professor Grime insane?
or does he wish to be reminded in plain language of his true
position in society, and the precise level of his acquirements and
abilities? Professor Grime will do well to look to this.'
'I am writing in bed. The small cabin is illuminated by the feeble
light of a flickering lamp suspended from the ceiling; Professor
Grime is lying on the opposite shelf on the broad of his back, with
his mouth wide open. The scene is indescribably solemn. The
rippling of the tide, the noise of the sailors' feet overhead, the
gruff voices on the river, the dogs on the shore, the snoring of
the passengers, and a constant creaking of every plank in the
vessel, are the only sounds that meet the ear. With these
exceptions, all is profound silence.
'My curiosity has been within the last moment very much excited.
Mr. Slug, who lies above Professor Grime, has cautiously withdrawn
the curtains of his berth, and, after looking anxiously out, as if
to satisfy himself that his companions are asleep, has taken up the
tin tube of which I have before spoken, and is regarding it with
great interest. What rare mechanical combination can be contained
in that mysterious case? It is evidently a profound secret to
'A quarter past one.
'The behaviour of Mr. Slug grows more and more mysterious. He has
unscrewed the top of the tube, and now renews his observations upon
his companions, evidently to make sure that he is wholly
unobserved. He is clearly on the eve of some great experiment.
Pray heaven that it be not a dangerous one; but the interests of
science must be promoted, and I am prepared for the worst.'
'Five minutes later.
'He has produced a large pair of scissors, and drawn a roll of some
substance, not unlike parchment in appearance, from the tin case.
The experiment is about to begin. I must strain my eyes to the
utmost, in the attempt to follow its minutest operation.'
'Twenty minutes before two.
'I have at length been enabled to ascertain that the tin tube
contains a few yards of some celebrated plaster, recommended--as I
discover on regarding the label attentively through my eye-glass--
as a preservative against sea-sickness. Mr. Slug has cut it up
into small portions, and is now sticking it over himself in every
'Precisely a quarter of an hour ago we weighed anchor, and the
machinery was suddenly put in motion with a noise so appalling,
that Professor Woodensconce (who had ascended to his berth by means
of a platform of carpet-bags arranged by himself on geometrical
principals) darted from his shelf head foremost, and, gaining his
feet with all the rapidity of extreme terror, ran wildly into the
ladies' cabin, under the impression that we were sinking, and
uttering loud cries for aid. I am assured that the scene which
ensued baffles all description. There were one hundred and forty-
seven ladies in their respective berths at the time.
'Mr. Slug has remarked, as an additional instance of the extreme
ingenuity of the steam-engine as applied to purposes of navigation,
that in whatever part of the vessel a passenger's berth may be
situated, the machinery always appears to be exactly under his
pillow. He intends stating this very beautiful, though simple
discovery, to the association.'
'We are still in smooth water; that is to say, in as smooth water
as a steam-vessel ever can be, for, as Professor Woodensconce (who
has just woke up) learnedly remarks, another great point of
ingenuity about a steamer is, that it always carries a little storm
with it. You can scarcely conceive how exciting the jerking
pulsation of the ship becomes. It is a matter of positive
difficulty to get to sleep.'
'Friday afternoon, six o'clock.
'I regret to inform you that Mr. Slug's plaster has proved of no
avail. He is in great agony, but has applied several large,
additional pieces notwithstanding. How affecting is this extreme
devotion to science and pursuit of knowledge under the most trying
'We were extremely happy this morning, and the breakfast was one of
the most animated description. Nothing unpleasant occurred until
noon, with the exception of Doctor Foxey's brown silk umbrella and
white hat becoming entangled in the machinery while he was
explaining to a knot of ladies the construction of the steam-
engine. I fear the gravy soup for lunch was injudicious. We lost
a great many passengers almost immediately afterwards.'
'I am again in bed. Anything so heart-rending as Mr. Slug's
sufferings it has never yet been my lot to witness.'
'A messenger has just come down for a clean pocket-handkerchief
from Professor Woodensconce's bag, that unfortunate gentleman being
quite unable to leave the deck, and imploring constantly to be
thrown overboard. From this man I understand that Professor Nogo,
though in a state of utter exhaustion, clings feebly to the hard
biscuit and cold brandy and water, under the impression that they
will yet restore him. Such is the triumph of mind over matter.
'Professor Grime is in bed, to all appearance quite well; but he
WILL eat, and it is disagreeable to see him. Has this gentleman no
sympathy with the sufferings of his fellow-creatures? If he has,
on what principle can he call for mutton-chops--and smile?'
'Black Boy and Stomach-ache, Oldcastle, Saturday noon.
'You will be happy to learn that I have at length arrived here in
safety. The town is excessively crowded, and all the private
lodgings and hotels are filled with savans of both sexes. The
tremendous assemblage of intellect that one encounters in every
street is in the last degree overwhelming.
'Notwithstanding the throng of people here, I have been fortunate
enough to meet with very comfortable accommodation on very
reasonable terms, having secured a sofa in the first-floor passage
at one guinea per night, which includes permission to take my meals
in the bar, on condition that I walk about the streets at all other
times, to make room for other gentlemen similarly situated. I have
been over the outhouses intended to be devoted to the reception of
the various sections, both here and at the Boot-jack and
Countenance, and am much delighted with the arrangements. Nothing
can exceed the fresh appearance of the saw-dust with which the
floors are sprinkled. The forms are of unplaned deal, and the
general effect, as you can well imagine, is extremely beautiful.'
'The number and rapidity of the arrivals are quite bewildering.
Within the last ten minutes a stage-coach has driven up to the
door, filled inside and out with distinguished characters,
comprising Mr. Muddlebranes, Mr. Drawley, Professor Muff, Mr. X.
Misty, Mr. X. X. Misty, Mr. Purblind, Professor Rummun, The
Honourable and Reverend Mr. Long Eers, Professor John Ketch, Sir
William Joltered, Doctor Buffer, Mr. Smith (of London), Mr. Brown
(of Edinburgh), Sir Hookham Snivey, and Professor Pumpkinskull.
The ten last-named gentlemen were wet through, and looked extremely
'Sunday, two o'clock, p.m.
'The Honourable and Reverend Mr. Long Eers, accompanied by Sir
William Joltered, walked and drove this morning. They accomplished
the former feat in boots, and the latter in a hired fly. This has
naturally given rise to much discussion.
'I have just learnt that an interview has taken place at the Boot-
jack and Countenance between Sowster, the active and intelligent
beadle of this place, and Professor Pumpkinskull, who, as your
readers are doubtless aware, is an influential member of the
council. I forbear to communicate any of the rumours to which this
very extraordinary proceeding has given rise until I have seen
Sowster, and endeavoured to ascertain the truth from him.'
'I engaged a donkey-chaise shortly after writing the above, and
proceeded at a brisk trot in the direction of Sowster's residence,
passing through a beautiful expanse of country, with red brick
buildings on either side, and stopping in the marketplace to
observe the spot where Mr. Kwakley's hat was blown off yesterday.
It is an uneven piece of paving, but has certainly no appearance
which would lead one to suppose that any such event had recently
occurred there. From this point I proceeded--passing the gas-works
and tallow-melter's--to a lane which had been pointed out to me as
the beadle's place of residence; and before I had driven a dozen
yards further, I had the good fortune to meet Sowster himself
advancing towards me.
'Sowster is a fat man, with a more enlarged development of that
peculiar conformation of countenance which is vulgarly termed a
double chin than I remember to have ever seen before. He has also
a very red nose, which he attributes to a habit of early rising--so
red, indeed, that but for this explanation I should have supposed
it to proceed from occasional inebriety. He informed me that he
did not feel himself at liberty to relate what had passed between
himself and Professor Pumpkinskull, but had no objection to state
that it was connected with a matter of police regulation, and added
with peculiar significance "Never wos sitch times!"
'You will easily believe that this intelligence gave me
considerable surprise, not wholly unmixed with anxiety, and that I
lost no time in waiting on Professor Pumpkinskull, and stating the
object of my visit. After a few moments' reflection, the
Professor, who, I am bound to say, behaved with the utmost
politeness, openly avowed (I mark the passage in italics) THAT HE
HAD REQUESTED SOWSTER TO ATTEND ON THE MONDAY MORNING AT THE BOOT-
JACK AND COUNTENANCE, TO KEEP OFF THE BOYS; AND THAT HE HAD FURTHER
DESIRED THAT THE UNDER-BEADLE MIGHT BE STATIONED, WITH THE SAME
OBJECT, AT THE BLACK BOY AND STOMACH-ACHE!
'Now I leave this unconstitutional proceeding to your comments and
the consideration of your readers. I have yet to learn that a
beadle, without the precincts of a church, churchyard, or work-
house, and acting otherwise than under the express orders of
churchwardens and overseers in council assembled, to enforce the
law against people who come upon the parish, and other offenders,
has any lawful authority whatever over the rising youth of this
country. I have yet to learn that a beadle can be called out by
any civilian to exercise a domination and despotism over the boys
of Britain. I have yet to learn that a beadle will be permitted by
the commissioners of poor law regulation to wear out the soles and
heels of his boots in illegal interference with the liberties of
people not proved poor or otherwise criminal. I have yet to learn
that a beadle has power to stop up the Queen's highway at his will
and pleasure, or that the whole width of the street is not free and
open to any man, boy, or woman in existence, up to the very walls
of the houses--ay, be they Black Boys and Stomach-aches, or Boot-
jacks and Countenances, I care not.'
'I have procured a local artist to make a faithful sketch of the
tyrant Sowster, which, as he has acquired this infamous celebrity,
you will no doubt wish to have engraved for the purpose of
presenting a copy with every copy of your next number. I enclose
[Picture which cannot be reproduced]
The under-beadle has consented to write his life, but it is to be
'The accompanying likeness is of course from the life, and complete
in every respect. Even if I had been totally ignorant of the man's
real character, and it had been placed before me without remark, I
should have shuddered involuntarily. There is an intense malignity
of expression in the features, and a baleful ferocity of purpose in
the ruffian's eye, which appals and sickens. His whole air is
rampant with cruelty, nor is the stomach less characteristic of his
'The great day has at length arrived. I have neither eyes, nor
ears, nor pens, nor ink, nor paper, for anything but the wonderful
proceedings that have astounded my senses. Let me collect my
energies and proceed to the account.
'SECTION A.--ZOOLOGY AND BOTANY.
FRONT PARLOUR, BLACK BOY AND STOMACH-ACHE.
President--Sir William Joltered. Vice-Presidents--Mr. Muddlebranes
and Mr. Drawley.
'MR. X. X. MISTY communicated some remarks on the disappearance of
dancing-bears from the streets of London, with observations on the
exhibition of monkeys as connected with barrel-organs. The writer
had observed, with feelings of the utmost pain and regret, that
some years ago a sudden and unaccountable change in the public
taste took place with reference to itinerant bears, who, being
discountenanced by the populace, gradually fell off one by one from
the streets of the metropolis, until not one remained to create a
taste for natural history in the breasts of the poor and
uninstructed. One bear, indeed,--a brown and ragged animal,--had
lingered about the haunts of his former triumphs, with a worn and
dejected visage and feeble limbs, and had essayed to wield his
quarter-staff for the amusement of the multitude; but hunger, and
an utter want of any due recompense for his abilities, had at
length driven him from the field, and it was only too probable that
he had fallen a sacrifice to the rising taste for grease. He
regretted to add that a similar, and no less lamentable, change had
taken place with reference to monkeys. These delightful animals
had formerly been almost as plentiful as the organs on the tops of
which they were accustomed to sit; the proportion in the year 1829
(it appeared by the parliamentary return) being as one monkey to
three organs. Owing, however, to an altered taste in musical
instruments, and the substitution, in a great measure, of narrow
boxes of music for organs, which left the monkeys nothing to sit
upon, this source of public amusement was wholly dried up.
Considering it a matter of the deepest importance, in connection
with national education, that the people should not lose such
opportunities of making themselves acquainted with the manners and
customs of two most interesting species of animals, the author
submitted that some measures should be immediately taken for the
restoration of these pleasing and truly intellectual amusements.
'THE PRESIDENT inquired by what means the honourable member
proposed to attain this most desirable end?
'THE AUTHOR submitted that it could be most fully and
satisfactorily accomplished, if Her Majesty's Government would
cause to be brought over to England, and maintained at the public
expense, and for the public amusement, such a number of bears as
would enable every quarter of the town to be visited--say at least
by three bears a week. No difficulty whatever need be experienced
in providing a fitting place for the reception of these animals, as
a commodious bear-garden could be erected in the immediate
neighbourhood of both Houses of Parliament; obviously the most
proper and eligible spot for such an establishment.
'PROFESSOR MULL doubted very much whether any correct ideas of
natural history were propagated by the means to which the
honourable member had so ably adverted. On the contrary, he
believed that they had been the means of diffusing very incorrect
and imperfect notions on the subject. He spoke from personal
observation and personal experience, when he said that many
children of great abilities had been induced to believe, from what
they had observed in the streets, at and before the period to which
the honourable gentleman had referred, that all monkeys were born
in red coats and spangles, and that their hats and feathers also
came by nature. He wished to know distinctly whether the
honourable gentleman attributed the want of encouragement the bears
had met with to the decline of public taste in that respect, or to
a want of ability on the part of the bears themselves?
'MR. X. X. MISTY replied, that he could not bring himself to
believe but that there must be a great deal of floating talent
among the bears and monkeys generally; which, in the absence of any
proper encouragement, was dispersed in other directions.
'PROFESSOR PUMPKINSKULL wished to take that opportunity of calling
the attention of the section to a most important and serious point.
The author of the treatise just read had alluded to the prevalent
taste for bears'-grease as a means of promoting the growth of hair,
which undoubtedly was diffused to a very great and (as it appeared
to him) very alarming extent. No gentleman attending that section
could fail to be aware of the fact that the youth of the present
age evinced, by their behaviour in the streets, and at all places
of public resort, a considerable lack of that gallantry and
gentlemanly feeling which, in more ignorant times, had been thought
becoming. He wished to know whether it were possible that a
constant outward application of bears'-grease by the young
gentlemen about town had imperceptibly infused into those unhappy
persons something of the nature and quality of the bear. He
shuddered as he threw out the remark; but if this theory, on
inquiry, should prove to be well founded, it would at once explain
a great deal of unpleasant eccentricity of behaviour, which,
without some such discovery, was wholly unaccountable.
'THE PRESIDENT highly complimented the learned gentleman on his
most valuable suggestion, which produced the greatest effect upon
the assembly; and remarked that only a week previous he had seen
some young gentlemen at a theatre eyeing a box of ladies with a
fierce intensity, which nothing but the influence of some brutish
appetite could possibly explain. It was dreadful to reflect that
our youth were so rapidly verging into a generation of bears.
'After a scene of scientific enthusiasm it was resolved that this
important question should be immediately submitted to the
consideration of the council.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to know whether any gentleman could inform
the section what had become of the dancing-dogs?
'A MEMBER replied, after some hesitation, that on the day after
three glee-singers had been committed to prison as criminals by a
late most zealous police-magistrate of the metropolis, the dogs had
abandoned their professional duties, and dispersed themselves in
different quarters of the town to gain a livelihood by less
dangerous means. He was given to understand that since that period
they had supported themselves by lying in wait for and robbing
blind men's poodles.
'MR. FLUMMERY exhibited a twig, claiming to be a veritable branch
of that noble tree known to naturalists as the SHAKSPEARE, which
has taken root in every land and climate, and gathered under the
shade of its broad green boughs the great family of mankind. The
learned gentleman remarked that the twig had been undoubtedly
called by other names in its time; but that it had been pointed out
to him by an old lady in Warwickshire, where the great tree had
grown, as a shoot of the genuine SHAKSPEARE, by which name he
begged to introduce it to his countrymen.
'THE PRESIDENT wished to know what botanical definition the
honourable gentleman could afford of the curiosity.
'MR. FLUMMERY expressed his opinion that it was A DECIDED PLANT.
'SECTION B.--DISPLAY OF MODELS AND MECHANICAL SCIENCE.
LARGE ROOM, BOOT-JACK AND COUNTENANCE.
President--Mr. Mallett. Vice-Presidents--Messrs. Leaver and Scroo.
'MR. CRINKLES exhibited a most beautiful and delicate machine, of
little larger size than an ordinary snuff-box, manufactured
entirely by himself, and composed exclusively of steel, by the aid
of which more pockets could be picked in one hour than by the
present slow and tedious process in four-and-twenty. The inventor
remarked that it had been put into active operation in Fleet
Street, the Strand, and other thoroughfares, and had never been
once known to fail.
'After some slight delay, occasioned by the various members of the
section buttoning their pockets,
'THE PRESIDENT narrowly inspected the invention, and declared that
he had never seen a machine of more beautiful or exquisite
construction. Would the inventor be good enough to inform the
section whether he had taken any and what means for bringing it
into general operation?
'MR. CRINKLES stated that, after encountering some preliminary
difficulties, he had succeeded in putting himself in communication
with Mr. Fogle Hunter, and other gentlemen connected with the swell
mob, who had awarded the invention the very highest and most
unqualified approbation. He regretted to say, however, that these
distinguished practitioners, in common with a gentleman of the name
of Gimlet-eyed Tommy, and other members of a secondary grade of the
profession whom he was understood to represent, entertained an
insuperable objection to its being brought into general use, on the
ground that it would have the inevitable effect of almost entirely
superseding manual labour, and throwing a great number of highly-
deserving persons out of employment.
'THE PRESIDENT hoped that no such fanciful objections would be
allowed to stand in the way of such a great public improvement.
'MR. CRINKLES hoped so too; but he feared that if the gentlemen of
the swell mob persevered in their objection, nothing could be done.
'PROFESSOR GRIME suggested, that surely, in that case, Her
Majesty's Government might be prevailed upon to take it up.
'MR. CRINKLES said, that if the objection were found to be
insuperable he should apply to Parliament, which he thought could
not fail to recognise the utility of the invention.
'THE PRESIDENT observed that, up to this time Parliament had
certainly got on very well without it; but, as they did their
business on a very large scale, he had no doubt they would gladly
adopt the improvement. His only fear was that the machine might be
worn out by constant working.
'MR. COPPERNOSE called the attention of the section to a
proposition of great magnitude and interest, illustrated by a vast
number of models, and stated with much clearness and perspicuity in
a treatise entitled "Practical Suggestions on the necessity of
providing some harmless and wholesome relaxation for the young
noblemen of England." His proposition was, that a space of ground
of not less than ten miles in length and four in breadth should be
purchased by a new company, to be incorporated by Act of
Parliament, and inclosed by a brick wall of not less than twelve
feet in height. He proposed that it should be laid out with
highway roads, turnpikes, bridges, miniature villages, and every
object that could conduce to the comfort and glory of Four-in-hand
Clubs, so that they might be fairly presumed to require no drive
beyond it. This delightful retreat would be fitted up with most
commodious and extensive stables, for the convenience of such of
the nobility and gentry as had a taste for ostlering, and with
houses of entertainment furnished in the most expensive and
handsome style. It would be further provided with whole streets of
door-knockers and bell-handles of extra size, so constructed that
they could be easily wrenched off at night, and regularly screwed
on again, by attendants provided for the purpose, every day. There
would also be gas lamps of real glass, which could be broken at a
comparatively small expense per dozen, and a broad and handsome
foot pavement for gentlemen to drive their cabriolets upon when
they were humorously disposed--for the full enjoyment of which feat
live pedestrians would be procured from the workhouse at a very
small charge per head. The place being inclosed, and carefully
screened from the intrusion of the public, there would be no
objection to gentlemen laying aside any article of their costume
that was considered to interfere with a pleasant frolic, or,
indeed, to their walking about without any costume at all, if they
liked that better. In short, every facility of enjoyment would be
afforded that the most gentlemanly person could possibly desire.
But as even these advantages would be incomplete unless there were
some means provided of enabling the nobility and gentry to display
their prowess when they sallied forth after dinner, and as some
inconvenience might be experienced in the event of their being
reduced to the necessity of pummelling each other, the inventor had
turned his attention to the construction of an entirely new police
force, composed exclusively of automaton figures, which, with the
assistance of the ingenious Signor Gagliardi, of Windmill-street,
in the Haymarket, he had succeeded in making with such nicety, that
a policeman, cab-driver, or old woman, made upon the principle of
the models exhibited, would walk about until knocked down like any
real man; nay, more, if set upon and beaten by six or eight
noblemen or gentlemen, after it was down, the figure would utter
divers groans, mingled with entreaties for mercy, thus rendering
the illusion complete, and the enjoyment perfect. But the
invention did not stop even here; for station-houses would be
built, containing good beds for noblemen and gentlemen during the
night, and in the morning they would repair to a commodious police
office, where a pantomimic investigation would take place before
the automaton magistrates,--quite equal to life,--who would fine
them in so many counters, with which they would be previously
provided for the purpose. This office would be furnished with an
inclined plane, for the convenience of any nobleman or gentleman
who might wish to bring in his horse as a witness; and the
prisoners would be at perfect liberty, as they were now, to
interrupt the complainants as much as they pleased, and to make any
remarks that they thought proper. The charge for these amusements
would amount to very little more than they already cost, and the
inventor submitted that the public would be much benefited and
comforted by the proposed arrangement.
'PROFESSOR NOGO wished to be informed what amount of automaton
police force it was proposed to raise in the first instance.
'MR. COPPERNOSE replied, that it was proposed to begin with seven
divisions of police of a score each, lettered from A to G
inclusive. It was proposed that not more than half this number
should be placed on active duty, and that the remainder should be
kept on shelves in the police office ready to be called out at a
'THE PRESIDENT, awarding the utmost merit to the ingenious
gentleman who had originated the idea, doubted whether the
automaton police would quite answer the purpose. He feared that
noblemen and gentlemen would perhaps require the excitement of
thrashing living subjects.
'MR. COPPERNOSE submitted, that as the usual odds in such cases
were ten noblemen or gentlemen to one policeman or cab-driver, it
could make very little difference in point of excitement whether
the policeman or cab-driver were a man or a block. The great
advantage would be, that a policeman's limbs might be all knocked
off, and yet he would be in a condition to do duty next day. He
might even give his evidence next morning with his head in his
hand, and give it equally well.
'PROFESSOR MUFF.--Will you allow me to ask you, sir, of what
materials it is intended that the magistrates' heads shall be
'MR. COPPERNOSE.--The magistrates will have wooden heads of course,
and they will be made of the toughest and thickest materials that
can possibly be obtained.
'PROFESSOR MUFF.--I am quite satisfied. This is a great invention.
'PROFESSOR NOGO.--I see but one objection to it. It appears to me
that the magistrates ought to talk.
'MR. COPPERNOSE no sooner heard this suggestion than he touched a
small spring in each of the two models of magistrates which were
placed upon the table; one of the figures immediately began to
exclaim with great volubility that he was sorry to see gentlemen in
such a situation, and the other to express a fear that the
policeman was intoxicated.
'The section, as with one accord, declared with a shout of applause
that the invention was complete; and the President, much excited,
retired with Mr. Coppernose to lay it before the council. On his
'MR. TICKLE displayed his newly-invented spectacles, which enabled
the wearer to discern, in very bright colours, objects at a great
distance, and rendered him wholly blind to those immediately before
him. It was, he said, a most valuable and useful invention, based
strictly upon the principle of the human eye.
'THE PRESIDENT required some information upon this point. He had
yet to learn that the human eye was remarkable for the
peculiarities of which the honourable gentleman had spoken.
'MR. TICKLE was rather astonished to hear this, when the President
could not fail to be aware that a large number of most excellent
persons and great statesmen could see, with the naked eye, most
marvellous horrors on West India plantations, while they could
discern nothing whatever in the interior of Manchester cotton
mills. He must know, too, with what quickness of perception most
people could discover their neighbour's faults, and how very blind
they were to their own. If the President differed from the great
majority of men in this respect, his eye was a defective one, and
it was to assist his vision that these glasses were made.
'MR. BLANK exhibited a model of a fashionable annual, composed of
copper-plates, gold leaf, and silk boards, and worked entirely by
milk and water.
'MR. PROSEE, after examining the machine, declared it to be so
ingeniously composed, that he was wholly unable to discover how it
went on at all.
'MR. BLANK.--Nobody can, and that is the beauty of it.
'SECTION C.--ANATOMY AND MEDICINE.
BAR ROOM, BLACK BOY AND STOMACH-ACHE.
President--Dr. Soemup. Vice-Presidents--Messrs. Pessell and
'DR. GRUMMIDGE stated to the section a most interesting case of
monomania, and described the course of treatment he had pursued
with perfect success. The patient was a married lady in the middle
rank of life, who, having seen another lady at an evening party in
a full suit of pearls, was suddenly seized with a desire to possess
a similar equipment, although her husband's finances were by no
means equal to the necessary outlay. Finding her wish ungratified,
she fell sick, and the symptoms soon became so alarming, that he
(Dr. Grummidge) was called in. At this period the prominent tokens
of the disorder were sullenness, a total indisposition to perform
domestic duties, great peevishness, and extreme languor, except
when pearls were mentioned, at which times the pulse quickened, the
eyes grew brighter, the pupils dilated, and the patient, after
various incoherent exclamations, burst into a passion of tears, and
exclaimed that nobody cared for her, and that she wished herself
dead. Finding that the patient's appetite was affected in the
presence of company, he began by ordering a total abstinence from
all stimulants, and forbidding any sustenance but weak gruel; he
then took twenty ounces of blood, applied a blister under each ear,
one upon the chest, and another on the back; having done which, and
administered five grains of calomel, he left the patient to her
repose. The next day she was somewhat low, but decidedly better,
and all appearances of irritation were removed. The next day she
improved still further, and on the next again. On the fourth there
was some appearance of a return of the old symptoms, which no
sooner developed themselves, than he administered another dose of
calomel, and left strict orders that, unless a decidedly favourable
change occurred within two hours, the patient's head should be
immediately shaved to the very last curl. From that moment she
began to mend, and, in less than four-and-twenty hours was
perfectly restored. She did not now betray the least emotion at
the sight or mention of pearls or any other ornaments. She was
cheerful and good-humoured, and a most beneficial change had been
effected in her whole temperament and condition.
'MR. PIPKIN (M.R.C.S.) read a short but most interesting
communication in which he sought to prove the complete belief of
Sir William Courtenay, otherwise Thorn, recently shot at
Canterbury, in the Homoeopathic system. The section would bear in
mind that one of the Homoeopathic doctrines was, that infinitesimal
doses of any medicine which would occasion the disease under which
the patient laboured, supposing him to be in a healthy state, would
cure it. Now, it was a remarkable circumstance--proved in the
evidence--that the deceased Thorn employed a woman to follow him
about all day with a pail of water, assuring her that one drop (a
purely homoeopathic remedy, the section would observe), placed upon
his tongue, after death, would restore him. What was the obvious
inference? That Thorn, who was marching and countermarching in
osier beds, and other swampy places, was impressed with a
presentiment that he should be drowned; in which case, had his
instructions been complied with, he could not fail to have been
brought to life again instantly by his own prescription. As it
was, if this woman, or any other person, had administered an
infinitesimal dose of lead and gunpowder immediately after he fell,
he would have recovered forthwith. But unhappily the woman
concerned did not possess the power of reasoning by analogy, or
carrying out a principle, and thus the unfortunate gentleman had
been sacrificed to the ignorance of the peasantry.
OUT-HOUSE, BLACK BOY AND STOMACH-ACHE.
President--Mr. Slug. Vice-Presidents--Messrs. Noakes and Styles.
'MR. KWAKLEY stated the result of some most ingenious statistical
inquiries relative to the difference between the value of the
qualification of several members of Parliament as published to the
world, and its real nature and amount. After reminding the section
that every member of Parliament for a town or borough was supposed
to possess a clear freehold estate of three hundred pounds per
annum, the honourable gentleman excited great amusement and
laughter by stating the exact amount of freehold property possessed
by a column of legislators, in which he had included himself. It
appeared from this table, that the amount of such income possessed
by each was 0 pounds, 0 shillings, and 0 pence, yielding an average
of the same. (Great laughter.) It was pretty well known that there
were accommodating gentlemen in the habit of furnishing new members
with temporary qualifications, to the ownership of which they swore
solemnly--of course as a mere matter of form. He argued from these
data that it was wholly unnecessary for members of Parliament to
possess any property at all, especially as when they had none the
public could get them so much cheaper.
'SUPPLEMENTARY SECTION, E.--UMBUGOLOGY AND DITCHWATERISICS.
President--Mr. Grub. Vice Presidents--Messrs. Dull and Dummy.
'A paper was read by the secretary descriptive of a bay pony with
one eye, which had been seen by the author standing in a butcher's
cart at the corner of Newgate Market. The communication described
the author of the paper as having, in the prosecution of a
mercantile pursuit, betaken himself one Saturday morning last
summer from Somers Town to Cheapside; in the course of which
expedition he had beheld the extraordinary appearance above
described. The pony had one distinct eye, and it had been pointed
out to him by his friend Captain Blunderbore, of the Horse Marines,
who assisted the author in his search, that whenever he winked this
eye he whisked his tail (possibly to drive the flies off), but that
he always winked and whisked at the same time. The animal was
lean, spavined, and tottering; and the author proposed to
constitute it of the family of Fitfordogsmeataurious. It certainly
did occur to him that there was no case on record of a pony with
one clearly-defined and distinct organ of vision, winking and
whisking at the same moment.
'MR. Q. J. SNUFFLETOFFLE had heard of a pony winking his eye, and
likewise of a pony whisking his tail, but whether they were two
ponies or the same pony he could not undertake positively to say.
At all events, he was acquainted with no authenticated instance of
a simultaneous winking and whisking, and he really could not but
doubt the existence of such a marvellous pony in opposition to all
those natural laws by which ponies were governed. Referring,
however, to the mere question of his one organ of vision, might he
suggest the possibility of this pony having been literally half
asleep at the time he was seen, and having closed only one eye.
'THE PRESIDENT observed that, whether the pony was half asleep or
fast asleep, there could be no doubt that the association was wide
awake, and therefore that they had better get the business over,
and go to dinner. He had certainly never seen anything analogous
to this pony, but he was not prepared to doubt its existence; for
he had seen many queerer ponies in his time, though he did not
pretend to have seen any more remarkable donkeys than the other
gentlemen around him.
'PROFESSOR JOHN KETCH was then called upon to exhibit the skull of
the late Mr. Greenacre, which he produced from a blue bag,
remarking, on being invited to make any observations that occurred
to him, "that he'd pound it as that 'ere 'spectable section had
never seed a more gamerer cove nor he vos."
'A most animated discussion upon this interesting relic ensued;
and, some difference of opinion arising respecting the real
character of the deceased gentleman, Mr. Blubb delivered a lecture
upon the cranium before him, clearly showing that Mr. Greenacre
possessed the organ of destructiveness to a most unusual extent,
with a most remarkable development of the organ of carveativeness.
Sir Hookham Snivey was proceeding to combat this opinion, when
Professor Ketch suddenly interrupted the proceedings by exclaiming,
with great excitement of manner, "Walker!"
'THE PRESIDENT begged to call the learned gentleman to order.
'PROFESSOR KETCH.--"Order be blowed! you've got the wrong un, I
tell you. It ain't no 'ed at all; it's a coker-nut as my brother-
in-law has been a-carvin', to hornament his new baked tatur-stall
wots a-comin' down 'ere vile the 'sociation's in the town. Hand
over, vill you?"
'With these words, Professor Ketch hastily repossessed himself of
the cocoa-nut, and drew forth the skull, in mistake for which he
had exhibited it. A most interesting conversation ensued; but as
there appeared some doubt ultimately whether the skull was Mr.
Greenacre's, or a hospital patient's, or a pauper's, or a man's, or
a woman's, or a monkey's, no particular result was obtained.'
'I cannot,' says our talented correspondent in conclusion, 'I
cannot close my account of these gigantic researches and sublime
and noble triumphs without repeating a bon mot of Professor
Woodensconce's, which shows how the greatest minds may occasionally
unbend when truth can be presented to listening ears, clothed in an
attractive and playful form. I was standing by, when, after a week
of feasting and feeding, that learned gentleman, accompanied by the
whole body of wonderful men, entered the hall yesterday, where a
sumptuous dinner was prepared; where the richest wines sparkled on
the board, and fat bucks--propitiatory sacrifices to learning--sent
forth their savoury odours. "Ah!" said Professor Woodensconce,
rubbing his hands, "this is what we meet for; this is what inspires
us; this is what keeps us together, and beckons us onward; this is
the SPREAD of science, and a glorious spread it is."'
THE PANTOMIME OF LIFE
Before we plunge headlong into this paper, let us at once confess
to a fondness for pantomimes--to a gentle sympathy with clowns and
pantaloons--to an unqualified admiration of harlequins and
columbines--to a chaste delight in every action of their brief
existence, varied and many-coloured as those actions are, and
inconsistent though they occasionally be with those rigid and
formal rules of propriety which regulate the proceedings of meaner
and less comprehensive minds. We revel in pantomimes--not because
they dazzle one's eyes with tinsel and gold leaf; not because they
present to us, once again, the well-beloved chalked faces, and
goggle eyes of our childhood; not even because, like Christmas-day,
and Twelfth-night, and Shrove-Tuesday, and one's own birthday, they
come to us but once a year;--our attachment is founded on a graver
and a very different reason. A pantomime is to us, a mirror of
life; nay, more, we maintain that it is so to audiences generally,
although they are not aware of it, and that this very circumstance
is the secret cause of their amusement and delight.
Let us take a slight example. The scene is a street: an elderly
gentleman, with a large face and strongly marked features, appears.
His countenance beams with a sunny smile, and a perpetual dimple is
on his broad, red cheek. He is evidently an opulent elderly
gentleman, comfortable in circumstances, and well-to-do in the
world. He is not unmindful of the adornment of his person, for he
is richly, not to say gaudily, dressed; and that he indulges to a
reasonable extent in the pleasures of the table may be inferred
from the joyous and oily manner in which he rubs his stomach, by
way of informing the audience that he is going home to dinner. In
the fulness of his heart, in the fancied security of wealth, in the
possession and enjoyment of all the good things of life, the
elderly gentleman suddenly loses his footing, and stumbles. How
the audience roar! He is set upon by a noisy and officious crowd,
who buffet and cuff him unmercifully. They scream with delight!
Every time the elderly gentleman struggles to get up, his
relentless persecutors knock him down again. The spectators are
convulsed with merriment! And when at last the elderly gentleman
does get up, and staggers away, despoiled of hat, wig, and
clothing, himself battered to pieces, and his watch and money gone,
they are exhausted with laughter, and express their merriment and
admiration in rounds of applause.
Is this like life? Change the scene to any real street;--to the
Stock Exchange, or the City banker's; the merchant's counting-
house, or even the tradesman's shop. See any one of these men
fall,--the more suddenly, and the nearer the zenith of his pride
and riches, the better. What a wild hallo is raised over his
prostrate carcase by the shouting mob; how they whoop and yell as
he lies humbled beneath them! Mark how eagerly they set upon him
when he is down; and how they mock and deride him as he slinks
away. Why, it is the pantomime to the very letter.
Of all the pantomimic dramatis personae, we consider the pantaloon
the most worthless and debauched. Independent of the dislike one
naturally feels at seeing a gentleman of his years engaged in
pursuits highly unbecoming his gravity and time of life, we cannot
conceal from ourselves the fact that he is a treacherous, worldly-
minded old villain, constantly enticing his younger companion, the
clown, into acts of fraud or petty larceny, and generally standing
aside to watch the result of the enterprise. If it be successful,
he never forgets to return for his share of the spoil; but if it
turn out a failure, he generally retires with remarkable caution
and expedition, and keeps carefully aloof until the affair has
blown over. His amorous propensities, too, are eminently
disagreeable; and his mode of addressing ladies in the open street
at noon-day is down-right improper, being usually neither more nor
less than a perceptible tickling of the aforesaid ladies in the
waist, after committing which, he starts back, manifestly ashamed
(as well he may be) of his own indecorum and temerity; continuing,
nevertheless, to ogle and beckon to them from a distance in a very
unpleasant and immoral manner.
Is there any man who cannot count a dozen pantaloons in his own
social circle? Is there any man who has not seen them swarming at
the west end of the town on a sunshiny day or a summer's evening,
going through the last-named pantomimic feats with as much
liquorish energy, and as total an absence of reserve, as if they
were on the very stage itself? We can tell upon our fingers a
dozen pantaloons of our acquaintance at this moment--capital
pantaloons, who have been performing all kinds of strange freaks,
to the great amusement of their friends and acquaintance, for years
past; and who to this day are making such comical and ineffectual
attempts to be young and dissolute, that all beholders are like to
die with laughter.
Take that old gentleman who has just emerged from the Cafe de
l'Europe in the Haymarket, where he has been dining at the expense
of the young man upon town with whom he shakes hands as they part
at the door of the tavern. The affected warmth of that shake of
the hand, the courteous nod, the obvious recollection of the
dinner, the savoury flavour of which still hangs upon his lips, are
all characteristics of his great prototype. He hobbles away
humming an opera tune, and twirling his cane to and fro, with
affected carelessness. Suddenly he stops--'tis at the milliner's
window. He peeps through one of the large panes of glass; and, his
view of the ladies within being obstructed by the India shawls,
directs his attentions to the young girl with the band-box in her
hand, who is gazing in at the window also. See! he draws beside
her. He coughs; she turns away from him. He draws near her again;
she disregards him. He gleefully chucks her under the chin, and,
retreating a few steps, nods and beckons with fantastic grimaces,
while the girl bestows a contemptuous and supercilious look upon
his wrinkled visage. She turns away with a flounce, and the old
gentleman trots after her with a toothless chuckle. The pantaloon
to the life!
But the close resemblance which the clowns of the stage bear to
those of every-day life is perfectly extraordinary. Some people
talk with a sigh of the decline of pantomime, and murmur in low and
dismal tones the name of Grimaldi. We mean no disparagement to the
worthy and excellent old man when we say that this is downright
nonsense. Clowns that beat Grimaldi all to nothing turn up every
day, and nobody patronizes them--more's the pity!
'I know who you mean,' says some dirty-faced patron of Mr.
Osbaldistone's, laying down the Miscellany when he has got thus
far, and bestowing upon vacancy a most knowing glance; 'you mean C.
J. Smith as did Guy Fawkes, and George Barnwell at the Garden.'
The dirty-faced gentleman has hardly uttered the words, when he is
interrupted by a young gentleman in no shirt-collar and a Petersham
coat. 'No, no,' says the young gentleman; 'he means Brown, King,
and Gibson, at the 'Delphi.' Now, with great deference both to the
first-named gentleman with the dirty face, and the last-named
gentleman in the non-existing shirt-collar, we do NOT mean either
the performer who so grotesquely burlesqued the Popish conspirator,
or the three unchangeables who have been dancing the same dance
under different imposing titles, and doing the same thing under
various high-sounding names for some five or six years last past.
We have no sooner made this avowal, than the public, who have
hitherto been silent witnesses of the dispute, inquire what on
earth it is we DO mean; and, with becoming respect, we proceed to
It is very well known to all playgoers and pantomime-seers, that
the scenes in which a theatrical clown is at the very height of his
glory are those which are described in the play-bills as
'Cheesemonger's shop and Crockery warehouse,' or 'Tailor's shop,
and Mrs. Queertable's boarding-house,' or places bearing some such
title, where the great fun of the thing consists in the hero's
taking lodgings which he has not the slightest intention of paying
for, or obtaining goods under false pretences, or abstracting the
stock-in-trade of the respectable shopkeeper next door, or robbing
warehouse porters as they pass under his window, or, to shorten the
catalogue, in his swindling everybody he possibly can, it only
remaining to be observed that, the more extensive the swindling is,
and the more barefaced the impudence of the swindler, the greater
the rapture and ecstasy of the audience. Now it is a most
remarkable fact that precisely this sort of thing occurs in real
life day after day, and nobody sees the humour of it. Let us
illustrate our position by detailing the plot of this portion of
the pantomime--not of the theatre, but of life.
The Honourable Captain Fitz-Whisker Fiercy, attended by his livery
servant Do'em--a most respectable servant to look at, who has grown
grey in the service of the captain's family--views, treats for, and
ultimately obtains possession of, the unfurnished house, such a
number, such a street. All the tradesmen in the neighbourhood are
in agonies of competition for the captain's custom; the captain is
a good-natured, kind-hearted, easy man, and, to avoid being the
cause of disappointment to any, he most handsomely gives orders to
all. Hampers of wine, baskets of provisions, cart-loads of
furniture, boxes of jewellery, supplies of luxuries of the
costliest description, flock to the house of the Honourable Captain
Fitz-Whisker Fiercy, where they are received with the utmost
readiness by the highly respectable Do'em; while the captain
himself struts and swaggers about with that compound air of
conscious superiority and general blood-thirstiness which a
military captain should always, and does most times, wear, to the
admiration and terror of plebeian men. But the tradesmen's backs
are no sooner turned, than the captain, with all the eccentricity
of a mighty mind, and assisted by the faithful Do'em, whose devoted
fidelity is not the least touching part of his character, disposes
of everything to great advantage; for, although the articles fetch
small sums, still they are sold considerably above cost price, the
cost to the captain having been nothing at all. After various
manoeuvres, the imposture is discovered, Fitz-Fiercy and Do'em are
recognized as confederates, and the police office to which they are
both taken is thronged with their dupes.
Who can fail to recognize in this, the exact counterpart of the
best portion of a theatrical pantomime--Fitz-Whisker Fiercy by the
clown; Do'em by the pantaloon; and supernumeraries by the
tradesmen? The best of the joke, too, is, that the very coal-
merchant who is loudest in his complaints against the person who
defrauded him, is the identical man who sat in the centre of the
very front row of the pit last night and laughed the most
boisterously at this very same thing,--and not so well done either.
Talk of Grimaldi, we say again! Did Grimaldi, in his best days,
ever do anything in this way equal to Da Costa?
The mention of this latter justly celebrated clown reminds us of
his last piece of humour, the fraudulently obtaining certain
stamped acceptances from a young gentleman in the army. We had
scarcely laid down our pen to contemplate for a few moments this
admirable actor's performance of that exquisite practical joke,
than a new branch of our subject flashed suddenly upon us. So we
take it up again at once.
All people who have been behind the scenes, and most people who
have been before them, know, that in the representation of a
pantomime, a good many men are sent upon the stage for the express
purpose of being cheated, or knocked down, or both. Now, down to a
moment ago, we had never been able to understand for what possible
purpose a great number of odd, lazy, large-headed men, whom one is
in the habit of meeting here, and there, and everywhere, could ever
have been created. We see it all, now. They are the
supernumeraries in the pantomime of life; the men who have been
thrust into it, with no other view than to be constantly tumbling
over each other, and running their heads against all sorts of
strange things. We sat opposite to one of these men at a supper-
table, only last week. Now we think of it, he was exactly like the
gentlemen with the pasteboard heads and faces, who do the
corresponding business in the theatrical pantomimes; there was the
same broad stolid simper--the same dull leaden eye--the same
unmeaning, vacant stare; and whatever was said, or whatever was
done, he always came in at precisely the wrong place, or jostled
against something that he had not the slightest business with. We
looked at the man across the table again and again; and could not
satisfy ourselves what race of beings to class him with. How very
odd that this never occurred to us before!
We will frankly own that we have been much troubled with the
harlequin. We see harlequins of so many kinds in the real living
pantomime, that we hardly know which to select as the proper fellow
of him of the theatres. At one time we were disposed to think that
the harlequin was neither more nor less than a young man of family
and independent property, who had run away with an opera-dancer,
and was fooling his life and his means away in light and trivial
amusements. On reflection, however, we remembered that harlequins
are occasionally guilty of witty, and even clever acts, and we are
rather disposed to acquit our young men of family and independent
property, generally speaking, of any such misdemeanours. On a more
mature consideration of the subject, we have arrived at the
conclusion that the harlequins of life are just ordinary men, to be
found in no particular walk or degree, on whom a certain station,
or particular conjunction of circumstances, confers the magic wand.
And this brings us to a few words on the pantomime of public and
political life, which we shall say at once, and then conclude--
merely premising in this place that we decline any reference
whatever to the columbine, being in no wise satisfied of the nature
of her connection with her parti-coloured lover, and not feeling by
any means clear that we should be justified in introducing her to
the virtuous and respectable ladies who peruse our lucubrations.
We take it that the commencement of a Session of Parliament is
neither more nor less than the drawing up of the curtain for a
grand comic pantomime, and that his Majesty's most gracious speech
on the opening thereof may be not inaptly compared to the clown's
opening speech of 'Here we are!' 'My lords and gentlemen, here we
are!' appears, to our mind at least, to be a very good abstract of
the point and meaning of the propitiatory address of the ministry.
When we remember how frequently this speech is made, immediately
after THE CHANGE too, the parallel is quite perfect, and still more
Perhaps the cast of our political pantomime never was richer than
at this day. We are particularly strong in clowns. At no former
time, we should say, have we had such astonishing tumblers, or
performers so ready to go through the whole of their feats for the
amusement of an admiring throng. Their extreme readiness to
exhibit, indeed, has given rise to some ill-natured reflections; it
having been objected that by exhibiting gratuitously through the
country when the theatre is closed, they reduce themselves to the
level of mountebanks, and thereby tend to degrade the
respectability of the profession. Certainly Grimaldi never did
this sort of thing; and though Brown, King, and Gibson have gone to
the Surrey in vacation time, and Mr. C. J. Smith has ruralised at
Sadler's Wells, we find no theatrical precedent for a general
tumbling through the country, except in the gentleman, name
unknown, who threw summersets on behalf of the late Mr. Richardson,
and who is no authority either, because he had never been on the
But, laying aside this question, which after all is a mere matter
of taste, we may reflect with pride and gratification of heart on
the proficiency of our clowns as exhibited in the season. Night
after night will they twist and tumble about, till two, three, and
four o'clock in the morning; playing the strangest antics, and
giving each other the funniest slaps on the face that can possibly
be imagined, without evincing the smallest tokens of fatigue. The
strange noises, the confusion, the shouting and roaring, amid which
all this is done, too, would put to shame the most turbulent
sixpenny gallery that ever yelled through a boxing-night.
It is especially curious to behold one of these clowns compelled to
go through the most surprising contortions by the irresistible
influence of the wand of office, which his leader or harlequin
holds above his head. Acted upon by this wonderful charm he will
become perfectly motionless, moving neither hand, foot, nor finger,
and will even lose the faculty of speech at an instant's notice; or
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