The Book of Snobs
William Makepeace Thackeray
Part 3 out of 4
were long due.
My first visit was to my friend Major Ponto (H.P. of the
Horse Marines), in Mangelwurzelshire. The Major, in his
little phaeton, was in waiting to take me up at the
station. The vehicle was not certainly splendid, but
such a carriage as would accommodate a plain man (as
Ponto said he was) and a numerous family. We drove by
beautiful fresh fields and green hedges, through a
cheerful English landscape; the high-road, as smooth and
trim as the way in a nobleman's park, was charmingly
chequered with cool shade and golden sunshine. Rustics
in snowy smock-frocks jerked their hats off smiling as we
passed. Children, with cheeks as red as the apples in
the orchards, bobbed curtsies to us at the cottage-doors.
Blue church spires rose here and there in the distance:
and as the buxom gardener's wife opened the white gate at
the Major's little ivy-covered lodge, and we drove
through the neat plantations of firs and evergreens, up
to the house, my bosom felt a joy and elation which I
thought it was impossible to experience in the smoky
atmosphere of a town. 'Here,' I mentally exclaimed, 'is
all peace, plenty, happiness. Here, I shall be rid of
Snobs. There can be none in this charming Arcadian
Stripes, the Major's man (formerly corporal in his
gallant corps), received my portmanteau, and an elegant
little present, which I had brought from town as a peace-
offering to Mrs. Ponto; viz., a cod and oysters from
Grove's, in a hamper about the size of a coffin.
Ponto's house ('The Evergreens' Mrs. P. has christened
it) is a perfect Paradise of a place. It is all over
creepers, and bow-windows, and verandahs. A wavy lawn
tumbles up and down all round it, with flower-beds of
wonderful shapes, and zigzag gravel walks, and beautiful
but damp shrubberies of myrtles and glistening
laurustines, which have procured it its change of name.
It was called Little Bullock's Pound in old Doctor
Ponto's time. I had a view of the pretty grounds, and
the stable, and the adjoining village and church, and a
great park beyond, from the windows of the bedroom
whither Ponto conducted me. It was the yellow bedroom,
the freshest and pleasantest of bed-chambers; the air was
fragrant with a large bouquet that was placed on the
writing-table; the linen was fragrant with the lavender
in which it had been laid; the chintz hangings of the bed
and the big sofa were, if not fragrant with flowers, at
least painted all over with them; the pen-wiper on the
table was the imitation of a double dahlia; and there was
accommodation for my watch in a sun-flower on the
mantelpiece. A scarlet-leaved creeper came curling over
the windows, through which the setting sun was pouring a
flood of golden light. It was all flowers and freshness.
Oh, how unlike those black chimney-pots in St. Alban's
Place, London, on which these weary eyes are accustomed
'It must be all happiness here, Ponto,' said I, flinging
myself down into the snug BERGERE, and inhaling such a
delicious draught of country air as all the MILLEFLEURS
of Mr. Atkinson's shop cannot impart to any the most
'Nice place, isn't it?' said Ponto. 'Quiet and
unpretending. I like everything quiet. You've not
brought your valet with you? Stripes will arrange your
dressing things;' and that functionary, entering at the
same time, proceeded to gut my portmanteau, and to lay
out the black kerseymeres, 'the rich cut velvet Genoa
waistcoat,' the white choker, and other polite articles
of evening costume, with great gravity and despatch. 'A
great dinner-party,' thinks I to myself, seeing these
preparations (and not, perhaps, displeased at the idea
that some of the best people in the neighbourhood were
coming to see me). 'Hark, theres the first bell ringing!
'said Ponto, moving away; and, in fact, a clamorous
harbinger of victuals began clanging from the stable
turret, and announced the agreeable fact that dinner
would appear in half-an-hour. 'If the dinner is as grand
as the dinner-bell,' thought I, 'faith, I'm in good
quarters!' and had leisure, during the half-hour's
interval, not only to advance my own person to the utmost
polish of elegance which it is capable of receiving, to
admire the pedigree of the Pontos hanging over the
chimney, and the Ponto crest and arms emblazoned on the
wash-hand basin and jug, but to make a thousand
reflections on the happiness of a country life--upon the
innocent friendliness and cordiality of rustic
intercourse; and to sigh for an opportunity of retiring,
like Ponto, to my own fields, to my own vine and fig-
tree, with a placens uxor in my domus, and a half-score
of sweet young pledges of affection sporting round my
Clang! At the end of thirty minutes, dinner-bell number
two pealed from the adjacent turret. I hastened
downstairs, expecting to find a score of healthy country
folk in the drawing-room. There was only one person
there; a tall and Roman-nosed lady, glistering over with
bugles, in deep mourning. She rose, advanced two steps,
made a majestic curtsey, during which all the bugles in
her awful head-dress began to twiddle and quiver--and
then said, 'Mr. Snob, we are very happy to see you at the
Evergreens,' and heaved a great sigh.
This, then, was Mrs. Major Ponto; to whom making my very
best bow, I replied, that I was very proud to make her
acquaintance, as also that of so charming a place as the
Another sigh. 'We are distantly related, Mr. Snob,' said
she, shaking her melancholy head. 'Poor dear Lord
'Oh!' said I; not knowing what the deuce Mrs. Major Ponto
'Major Ponto told me that you were of the Leicestershire
Snobs: a very old family, and related to Lord
Snobbington, who married Laura Rubadub, who is a cousin
of mine, as was her poor dear father, for whom we are
mourning. What a seizure! only sixty-three, and apoplexy
quite unknown until now in our family! In life we are in
death, Mr. Snob. Does Lady Snobbington bear the
'Why, really, ma'am, I--I don't know,' I replied, more
and more confused.
As she was speaking I heard a sort of CLOOP, by which
well-known sound I was aware that somebody was opening a
bottle of wine, and Ponto entered, in a huge white
neckcloth, and a rather shabby black suit.
'My love,' Mrs. Major Ponto said to her husband, 'we were
talking of our cousin--poor dear Lord Rubadub. His death
has placed some of the first families in England in
mourning. Does Lady Rubadub keep the house in Hill
Street, do you know?'
I didn't know, but I said, 'I believe she does,' at a
venture; and, looking down to the drawing-room table, saw
the inevitable, abominable, maniacal, absurd, disgusting
'Peerage' open on the table, interleaved with
annotations, and open at the article 'Snobbington.'
'Dinner is served,' says Stripes, flinging open the door;
and I gave Mrs. Major Ponto my arm.
A VISIT TO SOME COUNTRY SNOBS
Of the dinner to which we now sat down, I am not going to
be a severe critic. The mahogany I hold to be
inviolable; but this I will say, that I prefer sherry to
marsala when I can get it, and the latter was the wine of
which I have no doubt I heard the 'cloop' just before
dinner. Nor was it particularly good of its kind;
however, Mrs. Major Ponto did not evidently know the
difference, for she called the liquor Amontillado during
the whole of the repast, and drank but half a glass of
it, leaving the rest for the Major and his guest.
Stripes was in the livery of the Ponto family--a thought
shabby, but gorgeous in the extreme--lots of magnificent
worsted lace, and livery buttons of a very notable size.
The honest fellow's hands, I remarked, were very large
and black; and a fine odour of the stable was wafted
about the room as he moved to and fro in his
ministration. I should have preferred a clean
maidservant, but the sensations of Londoners are too
acute perhaps on these subjects; and a faithful John,
after all, IS more genteel.
>From the circumstance of the dinner being composed of
pig's-head mock-turtle soup, of pig's fry and roast ribs
of pork, I am led to imagine that one of Ponto's black
Hampshires had been sacrificed a short time previous to
my visit. It was an excellent and comfortable repast;
only there WAS rather a sameness in it, certainly. I
made a similar remark the next day'.
During the dinner Mrs. Ponto asked me many questions
regarding the nobility, my relatives. 'When Lady
Angelina Skeggs would come out; and if the countess her
mamma' (this was said with much archness and he-he-ing)
'still wore that extraordinary purple hair-dye?'
'Whether my Lord Guttlebury kept, besides his French
chef, and an English cordonbleu for the roasts, an
Italian for the confectionery?'
'Who attended at Lady Clapperclaw's conversazioni?' and
'whether Sir John Champignon's "Thursday Mornings" were
pleasant?' 'Was it true that Lady Carabas, wanting to
pawn her diamonds, found that they were paste, and that
the Marquis had disposed of them beforehand?' 'How was
it that Snuffin, the great tobacco-merchant, broke off
the marriage which was on the tapis between him and their
second daughter; and was it true that a mulatto lady came
over from the Havanna and forbade the match?'
'Upon my word, Madam,' I had begun, and was going on to
say that I didn't know one word about all these matters
which seemed so to interest Mrs. Major Ponto, when the
Major, giving me a tread or stamp with his large foot
under the table, said-- 'Come, come, Snob my boy, we are
all tiled, you know. We KNOW you're one of the
fashionable people about town: we saw your name at Lady
Clapperclaw's SOIREES, and the Champignon breakfasts; and
as for the Rubadubs, of course, as relations ---'
'Oh, of course, I dine there twice a-week,' I said; and
then I remembered that my cousin, Humphry Snob, of the
Middle Temple, IS a great frequenter of genteel
societies, and to have seen his name in the MORNING POST
at the tag-end of several party lists. So, taking the
hint, I am ashamed to say I indulged Mrs. Major Ponto
with a deal of information about the first families in
England, such as would astonish those great personages if
they knew it. I described to her most accurately the
three reigning beauties of last season at Almack's: told
her in confidence that his Grace the D--- of W--- was
going to be married the day after his Statue was put up;
that his Grace the D--- of D--- was also about to lead
the fourth daughter of the Archduke Stephen to the
hymeneal altar:--and talked to her, in a word, just in
the style of Mrs. Gore's last fashionable novel.
Mrs. Major was quite fascinated by this brilliant
conversation. She began to trot out scraps of French,
just for all the world as they do in the novels; and
kissed her hand to me quite graciously, telling me to
come soon to caffy, UNG PU DE MUSICK O SALONG--with which
she tripped off like an elderly fairy.
'Shall I open a bottle of port, or do you ever drink such
a thing as Hollands and water?' says Ponto, looking
ruefully at me. This was a very different style of thing
to what I had been led to expect from him at our smoking-
room at the Club: where he swaggers about his horses and
his cellar: and slapping me on the shoulder used to say,
'Come down to Mangelwurzelshire, Snob my boy, and I'll
give you as good a day's shooting and as good a glass of
claret as any in the county.'--'Well,' I said, 'I like
Hollands much better than port, and gin even better than
Hollands.' This was lucky. It WAS gin; and Stripes
brought in hot water on a splendid plated tray.
The jingling of a harp and piano soon announced that Mrs.
Ponto's ung PU DE MUSICK had commenced, and the smell of
the stable again entering the dining-room, in the person
of Stripes, summoned us to CAFFY and the little concert.
She beckoned me with a winning smile to the sofa, on
which she made room for me, and where we could command a
fine view of the backs of the young ladies who were
performing the musical entertainment. Very broad backs
they were too, strictly according to the present mode,
for crinoline or its substitutes is not an expensive
luxury, and young people in the country can afford to be
in the fashion at very trifling charges. Miss Emily
Ponto at the piano, and her sister Maria at that somewhat
exploded instrument, the harp, were in light blue dresses
that looked all flounce, and spread out like Mr. Green's
balloon when inflated.
'Brilliant touch Emily has--what a fine arm Maria's is,'
Mrs. Ponto remarked good-naturedly, pointing out the
merits of her daughters, and waving her own arm in such a
way as to show that she was not a little satisfied with
the beauty of that member. I observed she had about nine
bracelets and bangles, consisting of chains and padlocks,
the Major's miniature, and a variety of brass serpents
with fiery ruby or tender turquoise eyes, writhing up to
her elbow almost, in the most profuse contortions.
'You recognize those polkas? They were played at
Devonshire House on the 23rd of July, the day of the
grand fˆte.' So I said yes--I knew 'em quite intimately;
and began wagging my head as if in acknowledgment of
those old friends.
When the performance was concluded, I had the felicity of
a presentation and conversation with the two tall and
scraggy Miss Pontos; and Miss Wirt, the governess, sat
down to entertain us with variations on 'Sich a gettin'
up Stairs.' They were determined to be in the fashion.
For the performance of the 'Gettin' up Stairs,' I have no
other name but that it was a STUNNER. First Miss Wirt,
with great deliberation, played the original and
beautiful melody, cutting it, as it were, out of the
instrument, and firing off each note so loud, clear, and
sharp, that I am sure Stripes must have heard it in the
'What a finger!' says Mrs. Ponto; and indeed it WAS a
finger, as knotted as a turkey's drumstick, and splaying
all over the piano. When she had banged out the tune
slowly, she began a different manner of 'Gettin' up
Stairs,' and did so with a fury and swiftness quite
incredible. She spun up stairs; she whirled up stairs:
she galloped up stairs; she rattled up stairs; and then
having got the tune to the top landing, as it were, she
hurled it down again shrieking to the bottom floor, where
it sank in a crash as if exhausted by the breathless
rapidity of the descent. Then Miss Wirt played the
'Gettin' up Stairs' with the most pathetic and ravishing
solemnity: plaintive moans and sobs issued from the keys-
-you wept and trembled as you were gettin' up stairs.
Miss Wirt's hands seemed to faint and wail and die in
variations: again, and she went up with a savage clang
and rush of trumpets, as if Miss Wirt was storming a
breach; and although I knew nothing of music, as I sat
and listened with my mouth open to this wonderful
display, my CAFFY grew cold, and I wondered the windows
did not crack and the chandelier start out of the beam at
the sound of this earthquake of a piece of music.
'Glorious creature! Isn't she?' said Mrs. Ponto.
'Squirtz's favourite pupil--inestimable to have such a
creature. Lady Carabas would give her eyes for her! A
prodigy of accomplishments! Thank you, Miss Wirt'--and
the young ladies gave a heave and a gasp of admiration--a
deep-breathing gushing sound, such as you hear at church
when the sermon comes to a full stop.
Miss Wirt put her two great double-knuckled hands round a
waist of her two pupils, and said, 'My dear children, I
hope you will be able to play it soon as well as your
poor little governess. When I lived with the Dunsinanes,
it was the dear Duchess's favourite, and Lady Barbara and
Lady Jane McBeth learned it. It was while hearing Jane
play that, I remember, that dear Lord Castletoddy first
fell in love with her; and though he is but an Irish
Peer, with not more than fifteen thousand a year, I
persuaded Jane to have him. Do you know Castletoddy, Mr.
Snob?--round towers--sweet place-County Mayo. Old Lord
Castletoddy (the present Lord was then Lord Inishowan)
was a most eccentric old man--they say he was mad. I
heard his Royal Highness the poor dear Duke of Sussex--
(SUCH a man, my dears, but alas! addicted to smoking!)--I
heard his Royal Highness say to the Marquis of Anglesey,
"I am sure Castletoddy is mad!" but Inishowan wasn't in
marrying my sweet Jane, though the dear child had but her
ten thousand pounds POUR TOUT POTAGE!'
'Most invaluable person,' whispered Mrs. Major Ponto to
me. 'Has lived in the very highest society:' and I, who
have been accustomed to see governesses bullied in the
world, was delighted to find this one ruling the roast,
and to think that even the majestic Mrs. Ponto bent
As for my pipe, so to speak, it went out at once. I
hadn't a word to say against a woman who was intimate
with every Duchess in the Red Book. She wasn't the
rosebud, but she had been near it. She had rubbed
shoulders with the great, and about these we talked all
the evening incessantly, and about the fashions, and
about the Court, until bed-time came.
'And are there Snobs in this Elysium?' I exclaimed,
jumping into the lavender-perfumed bed. Ponto's snoring
boomed from the neighbouring bed-room in reply.
ON SOME COUNTRY SNOBS
Something like a journal of the proceedings at the
Evergreens may be interesting to those foreign readers of
PUNCH who want to know the customs of an English
gentleman's family and household. There's plenty of time
to keep the Journal. Piano-strumming begins at six
o'clock in the morning; it lasts till breakfast, with but
a minute's intermission, when the instrument changes
hands, and Miss Emily practises in place of her sister
In fact, the confounded instrument never stops when the
young ladies are at their lessons, Miss Wirt hammers away
at those stunning variations, and keeps her magnificent
finger in exercise.
I asked this great creature in what other branches of
education she instructed her pupils? 'The modern
languages,' says she modestly: 'French, German, Spanish,
and Italian, Latin and the rudiments of Greek if desired.
English of course; the practice of Elocution, Geography,
and Astronomy, and the Use of the Globes, Algebra (but
only as far as quadratic equations); for a poor ignorant
female, you know, Mr. Snob, cannot be expected to know
everything. Ancient and Modern History no young woman
can be without; and of these I make my beloved pupils
PERFECT MISTRESSES. Botany, Geology, and Mineralogy, I
consider as amusements. And with these I assure you we
manage to pass the days at the Evergreens not
Only these, thought I--what an education! But I looked
in one of Miss Ponto's manuscript song-books and found
five faults of French in four words; and in a waggish
mood asking Miss Wirt whether Dante Algiery was so called
because he was born at Algiers, received a smiling answer
in the affirmative, which made me rather doubt about the
accuracy of Miss Wirt's knowledge.
When the above little morning occupations are concluded,
these unfortunate young women perform what they call
Calisthenic Exercises in the garden. I saw them to-day,
without any crinoline, pulling the garden-roller.
Dear Mrs. Ponto was in the garden too, and as limp as her
daughters; in a faded bandeau of hair, in a battered
bonnet, in a holland pinafore, in pattens, on a broken
chair, snipping leaves off a vine. Mrs. Ponto measures
many yards about in an evening. Ye heavens! what a guy
she is in that skeleton morning-costume!
Besides Stripes, they keep a boy called Thomas or Tummus.
Tummus works in the garden or about the pigsty and
stable; Thomas wears a page's costume of eruptive
When anybody calls, and Stripes is out of the way, Tummus
flings himself like mad into Thomas's clothes, and comes
out metamorphosed like Harlequin in the pantomime. To-
day, as Mrs. P. was cutting the grapevine, as the young
ladies were at the roller, down comes Tummus like a
roaring whirlwind, with 'Missus, Missus, there's company
coomin'!' Away skurry the young ladies from the roller,
down comes Mrs. P. from the old chair, off flies Tummus
to change his clothes, and in an incredibly short space
of time Sir John Hawbuck, my Lady Hawbuck, and Master
Hugh Hawbuck are introduced into the garden with brazen
effrontery by Thomas, who says, 'Please Sir Jan and my
Lady to walk this year way: I KNOW Missus is in the rose-
And there, sure enough, she was!
In a pretty little garden bonnet, with beautiful curling
ringlets, with the smartest of aprons and the freshest of
pearl-coloured gloves, this amazing woman was in the arms
of her dearest Lady Hawbuck. 'Dearest Lady Hawbuck, how
good of you! Always among my flowers! can't live away
'Sweets to the sweet! hum--a-ha--haw!' says Sir John
Hawbuck, who piques himself on his gallantry, and says
nothing without 'a-hum--a-ha--a-haw!'
'Whereth yaw pinnafaw?' cries Master Hugh. 'WE thaw you
in it, over the wall, didn't we, Pa?'
'Hum--a-ha--a-haw!' burst out Sir John, dreadfully
alarmed. 'Where's Ponto? Why wasn't he at Quarter
Sessions? How are his birds this year, Mrs. Ponto--have
those Carabas pheasants done any harm to your wheat? a-
hum--a-ha--a-haw!' and all this while he was making the
most ferocious and desperate signals to his youthful
'Well, she WATH in her pinnafaw, wathn't she, Ma?' says
Hugh, quite unabashed; which question Lady Hawbuck turned
away with a sudden query regarding her dear darling
daughters, and the ENFANT TERRIBLE was removed by his
'I hope you weren't disturbed by the music?' Ponto says.
'My girls, you know, practise four hours a day, you know-
-must do it, you know--absolutely necessary. As for me,
you know I'm an early man, and in my farm every morning
at five--no, no laziness for ME.'
The facts are these. Ponto goes to sleep directly after
dinner on entering the drawing-room, and wakes up when
the ladies leave off practice at ten. From seven till
ten, from ten till five, is a very fair allowance of
slumber for a man who says he's NOT a lazy man. It is my
private opinion that when Ponto retires to what is called
his 'Study,' he sleeps too. He locks himself up there
daily two hours with the newspaper.
I saw the HAWBUCK scene out of the Study, which commands
the garden. It's a curious object, that Study. Ponto's
library mostly consists of boots. He and Stripes have
important interviews here of mornings, when the potatoes
are discussed, or the fate of the calf ordained, or
sentence passed on the pig, &c.. All the Major's bills
are docketed on the Study table and displayed like a
lawyer's briefs. Here, too, lie displayed his hooks,
knives, and other gardening irons, his whistles, and
strings of spare buttons. He has a drawer of endless
brown paper for parcels, and another containing a
prodigious and never-failing supply of string. What a
man can want with so many gig-whips I can never conceive.
These, and fishing-rods, and landing-nets, and spurs, and
boot-trees, and balls for horses, and surgical implements
for the same, and favourite pots of shiny blacking, with
which he paints his own shoes in the most elegant manner,
and buckskin gloves stretched out on their trees, and his
gorget, sash, and sabre of the Horse Marines, with his
boot-hooks underneath in atrophy; and the family
medicine-chest, and in a corner the very rod with which
he used to whip his son, Wellesley Ponto, when a boy
(Wellesley never entered the 'Study' but for that awful
purpose)--all these, with 'Mogg's Road Book,' the
GARDENERS' CHRONICLE, and a backgammon-board, form the
Major's library. Under the trophy there's a picture of
Mrs. Ponto, in a light blue dress and train, and no
waist, when she was first married; a fox's brush lies
over the frame, and serves to keep the dust off that work
'My library's small, says Ponto, with the most amazing
impudence, 'but well selected, my boy--well selected. I
have been reading the "History of England" all the
A VISIT TO SOME COUNTRY SNOBS
We had the fish, which, as the kind reader may remember,
I had brought down in a delicate attention to Mrs. Ponto,
to variegate the repast of next day; and cod and oyster-
sauce, twice laid, salt cod and scolloped oysters, formed
parts of the bill of fare until I began to fancy that the
Ponto family, like our late revered monarch George II.,
had a fancy for stale fish. And about this time, the pig
being consumed, we began upon a sheep.
But how shall I forget the solemn splendour of a second
course, which was served up in great state by Stripes in
a silver dish and cove; a napkin round his dirty thumbs;
and consisted of a landrail, not much bigger than a
'My love, will you take any game?' says Ponto, with
prodigious gravity; and stuck his fork into that little
mouthful of an island in the silver sea. Stripes, too,
at intervals, dribbled out the Marsala with a solemnity
which would have done honour to a Duke's butler. The
Bamnecide's dinner to Shacabac was only one degree
removed from these solemn banquets.
As there were plenty of pretty country places close by; a
comfortable country town, with good houses of
gentlefolks; a beautiful old parsonage, close to the
church whither we went (and where the Carabas family have
their ancestral carved and monumented Gothic pew), and
every appearance of good society in the neighbourhood, I
rather wondered we were not enlivened by the appearance
of some of the neighbours at the Evergreens, and asked
'We can't in our position of life--we can't well
associate with the attorney's family, as I leave you to
suppose,' says Mrs. Ponto, confidentially. 'Of course
not,' I answered, though I didn't know why. 'And the
Doctor?' said I.
'A most excellent worthy creature,' says Mrs. P. saved
Maria's life--really a learned man; but what can one do
in one's position? One may ask one's medical man to
one's table certainly: but his family, my dear Mr. Snob!'
'Half-a-dozen little gallipots,' interposed Miss Wirt,
the governess: 'he, he, he!' and the young ladies laughed
'We only live with the county families,' Miss Wirt (1)
continued, tossing up her head. 'The Duke is abroad: we
are at feud with the Carabases; the Ringwoods don't come
down till Christmas: in fact, nobody's here till the
hunting season--positively nobody.'
'Whose is the large red house just outside of the town?'
'What! the CHATEAU-CALICOT? he, he, he! That purse-proud
ex-linendraper, Mr. Yardley, with the yellow liveries,
and the wife in red velvet? How CAN you, my dear Mr.
Snob, be so satirical? The impertinence of those people
is really something quite overwhelming.'
'Well, then, there is the parson, Doctor Chrysostom.
He's a gentleman, at any rate.' At this Mrs. Ponto
looked at Miss Wirt. After their eyes had met and they
had wagged their heads at each other. They looked up to
the ceiling. So did the young ladies. They thrilled.
It was evident I had said something terrible. Another
black sheep in the Church? thought I with a little
sorrow; for I don't care to own that I have a respect for
the cloth. 'I--hope there's nothing wrong?
'Wrong?' says Mrs. P., clasping her hands with a tragic
'Oh!' says Miss Wirt, and the two girls, gasping in
'Well,' says I, 'I'm very sorry for it. I never saw a
nicer-looking old gentleman, or a better school, or heard
a better sermon.'
'He used to preach those sermons in a surplice,' hissed
out Mrs. Ponto. 'He's a Puseyite, Mr. Snob.'
'Heavenly powers!' says I, admiring the pure ardour of
these female theologians; and Stripes came in with the
tea. It's so weak that no wonder Ponto's sleep isn't
disturbed by it.
Of mornings we used to go out shooting. We had Ponto's
own fields to sport over (where we got the landrail), and
the non-preserved part of the Hawbuck property: and one
evening in a stubble of Ponto's skirting the Carabas
woods, we got among some pheasants, and had some real
sport. I shot a hen, I know, greatly to my delight.
'Bag it,' says Ponto, in rather a hurried manner: 'here's
somebody coming.' So I pocketed the bird.
'You infernal poaching thieves!' roars out a man from the
hedge in the garb of a gamekeeper. 'I wish I could catch
you on this side of the hedge. I'd put a brace of
barrels into you, that I would.'
'Curse that Snapper,' says Ponto, moving off; 'he's
always watching me like a spy.'
'Carry off the birds, you sneaks, and sell 'em in
London,' roars the individual, who it appears was a
keeper of Lord Carabas. 'You'll get six shillings a
brace for 'em.'
'YOU know the price of 'em well enough, and so does your
master too, you scoundrel,' says Ponto, still retreating.
'We kill 'em on our ground,' cries Mr. Snapper. 'WE
don't set traps for other people's birds. We're no decoy
ducks. We're no sneaking poachers. We don't shoot 'ens,
like that 'ere Cockney, who's got the tail of one a-
sticking out of his pocket. Only just come across the
hedge, that's all.'
'I tell you what,' says Stripes, who was out with us as
keeper this day, (in fact he's keeper, coachman,
gardener, valet, and bailiff, with Tummus under him,) 'if
YOU'LL come across, John Snapper, and take your coat off,
I'll give you such a whopping as you've never had since
the last time I did it at Guttlebury Fair.'
'Whop one of your own weight,' Mr. Snapper said,
whistling his dogs and disappearing into the wood. And
so we came out of this controversy rather victoriously;
but I began to alter my preconceived ideas of rural
(1) I have since heard that this aristocratic lady's
father was a livery-button maker in St. Martin's Lane:
where he met with misfortunes, and his daughter acquired
her taste for heraldry. But it may be told to her
credit, that out of her earnings she has kept the bed-
ridden old bankrupt in great comfort and secrecy at
Pentonville; and furnished her brother's outfit for the
Cadetship which her patron, Lord Swigglebiggle, gave her
when he was at the Board of Control. I have this
information from a friend. To hear Miss Wirt herself,
you would fancy that her Papa was a Rothschild, and that
the markets of Europe were convulsed when he went into
ON SOME COUNTRY SNOBS
'Be hanged to your aristocrats!' Ponto said, in some
conversation we had regarding the family at Carabas,
between whom and the Evergreens there was a feud. 'When
I first came into the county--it was the year before Sir
John Buff contested in the Blue interest--the Marquis,
then Lord St. Michaels, who, of course, was Orange to the
core, paid me and Mrs. Ponto such attentions, that I
fairly confess I was taken in by the old humbug, and
thought that I'd met with a rare neighbour. 'Gad, Sir,
we used to get pines from Carabas, and pheasants from
Carabas, and it was--"Ponto, when will you come over and
shoot?"--and--"Ponto, our pheasants want thinning,"--and
my Lady would insist upon her dear Mrs. Ponto coming over
to Carabas to sleep, and put me I don't know to what
expense for turbans and velvet gowns for my wife's
toilette. Well, Sir, the election takes place, and
though I was always a Liberal, personal friendship of
course induces me to plump for St. Michaels, who comes in
at the head of the poll. Next year, Mrs. P. insists upon
going to town--with lodgings in Clarges Street at ten
pounds a week, with a hired brougham, and new dresses for
herself and the girls, and the deuce and all to pay. Our
first cards were to Carabas House; my Lady's are returned
by a great big flunkey; and I leave you to fancy my poor
Betsy's discomfiture as the lodging-house maid took in
the cards, and Lady St. Michaels drives away, though she
actually saw us at the drawing-room window. Would you
believe it, Sir, that though we called four times
afterwards, those infernal aristocrats never returned our
visit; that though Lady St. Michaels gave nine dinner-
parties and four DEJEUNERS that season, she never asked
us to one; and that she cut us dead at the Opera, though
Betsy was nodding to her the whole night? We wrote to
her for tickets for Almack's; she writes to say that all
hers were promised; and said, in the presence of Wiggins,
her lady's-maid, who told it to Diggs, my wife's woman,
that she couldn't conceive how people in our station of
life could so far forget themselves as to wish to appear
in any such place! Go to Castle Carabas! I'd sooner die
than set my foot in the house of that impertinent,
insolvent, insolent jackanapes-- and I hold him in
scorn!' After this, Ponto gave me some private
information regarding Lord Carabas's pecuniary affairs;
how he owed money all over the county; how Jukes the
carpenter was utterly ruined and couldn't get a shilling
of his bill; how Biggs the butcher hanged himself for the
same reason; how the six big footmen never received a
guinea of wages, and Snaffle, the state coachman,
actually took off his blown-glass wig of ceremony and
flung it at Lady Carabas's feet on the terrace before the
Castle; all which stories, as they are private, I do not
think proper to divulge. But these details did not
stifle my desire to see the famous mansion of Castle
Carabas, nay, possibly excited my interest to know more
about that lordly house and its owners.
At the entrance of the park, there are a pair of great
gaunt mildewed lodges--mouldy Doric temples with black
chimney-pots, in the finest classic taste, and the gates
of course are surmounted by the CHATS BOTTES, the well-
known supporters of the Carabas family. 'Give the lodge-
keeper a shilling,' says Ponto, (who drove me near to it
in his four-wheeled cruelty-chaise). 'I warrant it's the
first piece of ready money he has received for some time.
I don't know whether there was any foundation for this
sneer, but the gratuity was received with a curtsey, and
the gate opened for me to enter. 'Poor old porteress!'
says I, inwardly. 'You little know that it is the
Historian of Snobs whom you let in!' The gates were
passed. A damp green stretch of park spread right and
left immeasurably, confined by a chilly grey wall, and a
damp long straight road between two huge rows of moist,
dismal lime-trees, leads up to the Castle. In the midst
of the park is a great black tank or lake, bristling over
with rushes, and here and there covered over with patches
of pea-soup. A shabby temple rises on an island in this
delectable lake, which is approached by a rotten barge
that lies at roost in a dilapidated boat house. Clumps
of elms and oaks dot over the huge green flat. Every one
of them would have been down long since, but that the
Marquis is not allowed to cut the timber.
Up that long avenue the Snobographer walked in solitude.
At the seventy-ninth tree on the left-hand side, the
insolvent butcher hanged himself. I scarcely wondered at
the dismal deed, so woful and sad were the impressions
connected with the place. So, for a mile and a half I
walked--alone and thinking of death.
I forgot to say the house is in full view all the way--
except when intercepted by the trees on the miserable
island in the lake--an enormous red-brick mansion,
square, vast, and dingy. It is flanked by four stone
towers with weathercocks. In the midst of the grand
facade is a huge Ionic portico, approached by a vast,
lonely, ghastly staircase. Rows of black windows, framed
in stone, stretch on either side, right and left--three
storeys and eighteen windows of a row. You may see a
picture of the palace and staircase, in the 'Views of
England and Wales,' with four carved and gilt carriages
waiting at the gravel walk, and several parties of ladies
and gentlemen in wigs and hoops, dotting the fatiguing
lines of stairs.
But these stairs are made in great houses for people NOT
to ascend. The first Lady Carabas (they are but eighty
years in the peerage), if she got out of her gilt coach
in a shower, would be wet to the skin before she got
half-way to the carved Ionic portico, where four dreary
statues of Peace, Plenty, Piety and Patriotism, are the
only sentinels. You enter these palaces by back-doors.
'That was the way the Carabases got their peerage,' the
misanthropic Ponto said after dinner.
Well--I rang the bell at a little low side-door; it
clanged and jingled and echoed for a long, long while,
till at length a face, as of a housekeeper, peered
through the door, and, as she saw my hand in my waistcoat
pocket, opened it. Unhappy, lonely housekeeper, I
thought. Is Miss Crusoe in her island more solitary?
The door clapped to, and I was in Castle Carabas.
'The side entrance and All,' says the housekeeper. 'The
halligator hover the mantelpiece was brought home by
Hadmiral St. Michaels, when a Capting with Lord Hanson.
The harms on the cheers is the harms of the Carabas
family.' The hall was rather comfortable. We went
clapping up a clean stone backstair, and then into a back
passage cheerfully decorated with ragged light-green
Kidderminster, and issued upon
'THE GREAT ALL.
'The great all is seventy-two feet in lenth, fifty-six in
breath, and thirty-eight feet 'igh. The carvings of the
chimlies, representing the buth of Venus, and Ercules,
and Eyelash, is by Van Chislum, the most famous sculpture
of his hage and country. The ceiling, by Calimanco,
represents Painting, Harchitecture and Music (the naked
female figure with the barrel horgan) introducing George,
fust Lord Carabas, to the Temple of the Muses. The
winder ornaments is by Vanderputty. The floor is
Patagonian marble; and the chandelier in the centre was
presented to Lionel, second Marquis, by Lewy the
Sixteenth, whose 'ead was cut hoff in the French
Revelation. We now henter
THE SOUTH GALLERY.
'One 'undred and forty-eight in lenth by thirty-two in
breath; it is profusely hornaminted by the choicest works
of Hart. Sir Andrew Katz, founder of the Carabas family
and banker of the Prince of Horange, Kneller. Her
present Ladyship, by Lawrence. Lord St. Michaels, by the
same--he is represented sittin' on a rock in velvit
pantaloons. Moses in the bullrushes--the bull very fine,
by Paul Potter. The toilet of Venus, Fantaski. Flemish
Bores drinking, Van Ginnums. Jupiter and Europia, de
Horn. The Grandjunction Canal, Venis, by Candleetty; and
Italian Bandix, by Slavata Rosa.'--And so this worthy
woman went on, from one room into another, from the blue
room to the green, and the green to the grand saloon, and
the grand saloon to the tapestry closet, cackling her
list of pictures and wonders: and furtively turning up a
corner of brown holland to show the colour of the old,
faded, seedy, mouldy, dismal hangings.
At last we came to her Ladyship's bed-room. In the
centre of this dreary apartment there is a bed about the
size of one of those whizgig temples in which the Genius
appears in a pantomime. The huge gilt edifice is
approached by steps, and so tall, that it might be let
off in floors, for sleeping-rooms for all the Carabas
family. An awful bed! A murder might be done at one end
of that bed, and people sleeping at the other end be
ignorant of it. Gracious powers! fancy little Lord
Carabas in a nightcap ascending those steps after putting
out the candle!
The sight of that seedy and solitary splendour was too
much for me. I should go mad were I that lonely
housekeeper--in those enormous galleries--in that lonely
library, filled up with ghastly folios that nobody dares
read, with an inkstand on the centre table like the
coffin of a baby, and sad portraits staring at you from
the bleak walls with their solemn Mouldy eyes. No wonder
that Carabas does not come down here often.
It would require two thousand footmen to make the place
cheerful. No wonder the coachman resigned his wig, that
the masters are insolvent, and the servants perish in
this huge dreary out-at-elbow place.
A single family has no more right to build itself a
temple of that sort than to erect a Tower of Babel. Such
a habitation is not decent for a mere mortal man. But,
after all, I suppose poor Carabas had no choice. Fate
put him there as it sent Napoleon to St. Helena. Suppose
it had been decreed by Nature that you and I should be
Marquises? We wouldn't refuse, I suppose, but take
Castle Carabas and all, with debts, duns, and mean
makeshifts, and shabby pride, and swindling magnificence.
Next season, when I read of Lady Carabas's splendid
entertainments in the MORNING POST, and see the poor old
insolvent cantering through the Park--I shall have a much
tenderer interest in these great people than I have had
heretofore. Poor old shabby Snob! Ride on and fancy the
world is still on its knees before the house of Carabas!
Give yourself airs, poor old bankrupt Magnifico, who are
under money-obligations to your flunkeys; and must stoop
so as to swindle poor tradesmen! And for us, O my
brother Snobs, oughtn't we to feel happy if our walk
through life is more even, and that we are out of the
reach of that surprising arrogance and that astounding
meanness to which this wretched old victim is obliged to
mount and descend.
A VISIT TO SOME COUNTRY SNOBS
Notable as my reception had been (under that unfortunate
mistake of Mrs. Ponto that I was related to Lord
Snobbington, which I was not permitted to correct), it
was nothing compared to the bowing and kotooing, the
raptures and flurry which preceded and welcomed the visit
of a real live lord and lord's son, a brother officer of
Cornet Wellesley Ponto, in the 120th Hussars, who came
over with the young Cornet from Guttlebury, where their
distinguished regiment was quartered. This was my Lord
Gules, Lord Saltire's grandson and heir: a very young,
short, sandy-haired and tobacco-smoking nobleman, who
cannot have left the nursery very long, and who, though
he accepted the honest Major's invitation to the
Evergreens in a letter written in a school-boy
handwriting, with a number of faults of spelling, may yet
be a very fine classical scholar for what I know: having
had his education at Eton, where he and young Ponto were
At any rate, if he can't write, he has mastered a number
of other accomplishments wonderful for one of his age and
size. He is one of the best shots and riders in England.
He rode his horse Abracadabra, and won the famous
Guttlebury steeple-chase. He has horses entered at half
the races in the country (under other people's names; for
the old lord is a strict hand, and will not hear of
betting or gambling). He has lost and won such sums of
money as my Lord George himself might be proud of. He
knows all the stables, and all the jockeys, and has all
the 'information,' and is a match for the best Leg at
Newmarket. Nobody was ever known to be 'too much' for
him at play or in the stable.
Although his grandfather makes him a moderate allowance,
by the aid of POST-OBITS and convenient friends he can
live in a splendour becoming his rank. He has not
distinguished himself in the knocking down of policemen
much; he is not big enough for that. But, as a light-
weight, his skill is of the very highest order. At
billiards he is said to be first-rate. He drinks and
smokes as much as any two of the biggest officers in his
regiment. With such high talents, who can say how far he
may not go? He may take to politics as a DELASSEMENT,
and be Prime Minister after Lord George Bentinck.
My young friend Wellesley Ponto is a gaunt and bony
youth, with a pale face profusely blotched. From his
continually pulling something on his chin, I am led to
fancy that he believes he has what is called an Imperial
growing there. That is not the only tuft that is hunted
in the family, by the way. He can't, of course, indulge
in those expensive amusements which render his
aristocratic comrade so respected: he bets pretty freely
when he is in cash, and rides when somebody mounts him
(for he can't afford more than his regulation chargers).
At drinking he is by no means inferior; and why do you
think he brought his noble friend, Lord Gules, to the
Evergreens?--Why? because he intended to ask his mother
to order his father to pay his debts, which she couldn't
refuse before such an exalted presence. Young Ponto gave
me all this information with the most engaging frankness.
We are old friends. I used to tip him when he was at
'Gad!': says he, 'our wedgment's so DOOTHID exthpenthif.
Must hunt, you know. A man couldn't live in the wedgment
if he didn't. Mess expenses enawmuth. Must dine at
mess. Must drink champagne and claret. Ours ain't a
port and sherry light-infantry mess. Uniform's awful.
Fitzstultz, our Colonel, will have 'em so. Must be a
distinction you know. At his own expense Fitzstultz
altered the plumes in the men's caps (you called them
shaving-brushes, Snob, my boy: most absurd and unjust
that attack of yours, by the way); that altewation alone
cotht him five hundred pound. The year befaw latht he
horthed the wegiment at an immenthe expenthe, and we're
called the Queen'th Own Pyebalds from that day. Ever
theen uth on pawade? The Empewar Nicolath burtht into
tearth of envy when he thaw uth at Windthor. And you
see,' continued my young friend, 'I brought Gules down
with me, as the Governor is very sulky about shelling
out, just to talk my mother over, who can do anything
with him. Gules told her that I was Fitzstultz's
favourite of the whole regiment; and, Gad! she thinks the
Horse Guards will give me my troop for nothing, and he
humbugged the Governor that I was the greatest screw in
the army. Ain't it a good dodge?'
With this Wellesley left me to go and smoke a cigar in
the stables with Lord Gules, and make merry over the
cattle there, under Stripes's superintendence. Young
Ponto laughed with his friend, at the venerable four-
wheeled cruelty-chaise; but seemed amazed that the latter
should ridicule still more an ancient chariot of the
build of 1824, emblazoned immensely with the arme of the
Pontos and the Snaileys, from which latter distinguished
family Mrs. Ponto issued.
I found poor Pon in his study among his boots, in such a
rueful attitude of despondency, that I could not but
remark it. 'Look at that!' says the poor fellow, handing
me over a document. 'It's the second change in uniform
since he's been in the army, and yet there's no
extravagance about the lad. Lord Gules tells me he is
the most careful youngster in the regiment, God bless
him! But look at that! by heaven, Snob, look at that and
say how can a man of nine hundred keep out of the Bench?'
He gave a sob as he handed me the paper across the table;
and his old face, and his old corduroys, and his shrunk
shooting-jacket, and his lean shanks, looked, as he
spoke, more miserably haggard, bankrupt, and threadbare.
LIEUT. WELLESLEY PONTO, 120TH QUEEN'S OWN PYEBALD
TO KNOPF AND STECKNADEL,
CONDUIT STREET, LONDON.
L. s. d
Dress Jacket, richly laced with gold . 35 0 0
Ditto Pelisse ditto, and trimmed with sable . . 60 0 0
Undress Jacket, trimmed with gold 15 15 0
Ditto Pelisse . . 30 0 0
Dress Pantaloons 12 0 0
Ditto Overalls, gold lace on sides. 6 6 0
Undress ditto ditto. 5 5 0
Blue Braided Frock 14 14 0
Forage Cap . . 3 3 0
Dress Cap, gold lines, plume and chain . . . 25 0 0
Gold Barrelled Sash 11 18 0
Sword . . 11 11 0
Ditto Belt and Sabretache .. 16 16 0
Pouch and Belt. 15 15 0
SwordKnot .. 1 4 0
Cloak . .. 13 13 0
Valise . .. 3 13 6
Regulation Saddle . 7 17 6
Ditto Bridle, complete . .. 10 10 0
A Dress Housing, complete .. 30 0 0
A pair of Pistols. 10 10 0
A Black Sheepskin, edged. . . 6 18 0
Total L347 9 0
That evening Mrs. Ponto and her family made their darling
Wellesley give a full, true, and particular account of
everything that had taken place at Lord Fitzstultz's; how
many servants waited at dinner; and how the Ladies
Schneider dressed; and what his Royal Highness said when
he came down to shoot; and who was there? "What a
blessing that boy is to me!" said she, as my pimple-faced
young friend moved off to resume smoking operations with
Gules in the now vacant kitchen ;--and poor Ponto's
dreary and desperate look, shall I ever forget that?
O you parents and guardians! O you men and women of
sense in England! O you legislators about to assemble in
Parliament! read over that tailor's bill above printed,
read over that absurd catalogue of insane gimcracks and
madman's tomfoolery--and say how are you ever to get rid
of Snobbishness when society does so much for its
Three hundred and forty pounds for a young chap's saddle
and breeches! Before George, I would rather be a
Hottentot or a Highlander. We laugh at poor Jocko, the
monkey, dancing in uniform; or at poor Jeames, the
flunkey, with his quivering calves and plush tights; or
at the nigger Marquis of Marmalade, dressed out with
sabre and epaulets, and giving himself the airs of a
field-marshal. Lo! is not one of the Queen's Pyebalds,
in full fig, as great and foolish a monster?
ON SOME COUNTRY SNOBS
At last came that fortunate day at the Evergreens, when I
was to be made acquainted with some of the 'county
families' with whom only people of Ponto's rank
condescended to associate. And now, although poor Ponto
had just been so cruelly made to bleed on occasion of his
son's new uniform, and though he was in the direst and
most cut-throat spirits with an overdrawn account at the
banker's, and other pressing evils of poverty; although a
tenpenny bottle of Marsala and an awful parsimony
presided generally at his table, yet the poor fellow was
obliged to assume the most frank and jovial air of
cordiality; and all the covers being removed from the
hangings, and new dresses being procured for the young
ladies, and the family plate being unlocked and
displayed, the house and all within assumed a benevolent
and festive appearance. The kitchen fires began to
blaze, the good wine ascended from the cellar, a
professed cook actually came over from Guttlebury to
compile culinary abominations. Stripes was in a new
coat, and so was Ponto, for a wonder, and Tummus's
button-suit was worn EN PERMANENCE.
And all this to show off the little lord, thinks I. All
this in honour of a stupid little cigarrified Cornet of
dragoons, who can barely write his name,--while an
eminent and profound moralist like--somebody--is fobbed
off with cold mutton and relays of pig. Well, well: a
martyrdom of cold mutton is just bearable. I pardon Mrs.
Ponto, from my heart I do, especially as I wouldn't turn
out of the best bed-room, in spite of all her hints; but
held my ground in the chintz tester, vowing that Lord
Gules, as a young man, was quite small and hardy enough
to make himself comfortable elsewhere.
The great Ponto party was a very august one. The
Hawbucks came in their family coach, with the blood-red
band emblazoned all over it: and their man in yellow
livery waited in country fashion at table, only to be
exceeded in splendour by the Hipsleys, the opposition
baronet, in light blue. The old Ladies Fitzague drove
over in their little old chariot with the fat black
horses, the fat coachman, the fat footman--(why are
dowagers' horses and footmen always fat?) And soon after
these personages had arrived, with their auburn fronts
and red beaks and turbans, came the Honourable and
Reverend Lionel Pettipois, who with General and Mrs. Sago
formed the rest of the party. 'Lord and Lady Frederick
Howlet were asked, but they have friends at Ivybush,'
Mrs. Ponto told me; and that very morning, the
Castlehaggards sent an excuse, as her ladyship had a
return of the quinsy. Between ourselves, Lady
Castlehaggard's quinsy always comes on when there is
dinner at the Evergreens.
If the keeping of polite company could make a woman
happy, surely my kind hostess Mrs. Ponto was on that day
a happy woman. Every person present (except the unlucky
impostor who pretended to a connexion with the
Snobbington Family, and General Sago, who had brought
home I don't know how many lacs of rupees from India,)
was related to the Peerage or the Baronetage. Mrs. P.
had her heart's desire. If she had been an Earl's
daughter herself could she have expected better company?-
-and her family were in the oil-trade at Bristol, as all
her friends very well know.
What I complained of in my heart was not the dining--
which, for this once, was plentiful and comfortable
enough--but the prodigious dulness of the talking part of
the entertainment. O my beloved brother Snobs of the
City, if we love each other no better than our country
brethren, at least we amuse each other more; if we bore
ourselves, we are not called upon to go ten miles to do
For instance, the Hipsleys came ten miles from the south,
and the Hawbucks ten miles from the north, of the
Evergreens; and were magnates in two different divisions
of the county of Mangelwurzelshire. Hipsley, who is an
old baronet, with a bothered estate, did not care to show
his contempt for Hawbuck, who is a new creation, and
rich. Hawbuck, on his part, gives himself patronizing
airs to General Sago, who looks upon the Pontos as little
better than paupers. 'Old Lady Blanche,' says Ponto, 'I
hope will leave something to her god-daughter--my second
girl--we've all of us half-poisoned ourselves with taking
Lady Blanche and Lady Rose Fitzague have, the first, a
medical, and the second a literary turn. I am inclined
to believe the former had a wet COMPRESSE around her
body, on the occasion when I had the happiness of meeting
her. She doctors everybody in the neighbourhood of which
she is the ornament; and has tried everything on her own
person. She went into Court, and testified publicly her
faith in St. John Long: she swore by Doctor Buchan, she
took quantities of Gambouge's Universal Medicine, and
whole boxfuls of Parr's Life Pills. She has cured a
multiplicity of headaches by Squinstone's Eye-snuff; she
wears a picture of Hahnemann in her bracelet and a lock
of Priessnitz's hair in a brooch. She talked about her
own complaints and those of her CONFIDANTE for the time
being, to every lady in the room successively, from our
hostess down to Miss Wirt, taking them into corners, and
whispering about bronchitis, hepatitis, St. Vitus,
neuralgia, cephalalgia, and so forth. I observed poor
fat Lady Hawbuck in a dreadful alarm after some
communication regarding the state of her daughter Miss
Lucy Hawbuck's health, and Mrs. Sago turned quite yellow,
and put down her third glass of Madeira, at a warning
glance from Lady Blanche.
Lady Rose talked literature, and about the book-club at
Guttlebury, and is very strong in voyages and travels.
She has a prodigious interest in Borneo, and displayed a
knowledge of the history of the Punjaub and Kaffirland
that does credit to her memory. Old General Sago, who
sat perfectly silent and plethoric, roused up as from a
lethargy when the former country was mentioned, and gave
the company his story about a hog-hunt at Ramjugger. I
observed her ladyship treated with something like
contempt her neighbour the Reverend Lionel Pettipois, a
young divine whom you may track through the country by
little 'awakening' books at half-a-crown a hundred, which
dribble out of his pockets wherever he goes. I saw him
give Miss Wirt a sheaf of 'The Little Washer-woman on
Putney Common,' and to Miss Hawbuck a couple of dozen of
'Meat in the Tray; or the Young Butcher-boy Rescued;' and
on paying a visit to Guttlebury gaol, I saw two notorious
fellows waiting their trial there (and temporarily
occupied with a game of cribbage), to whom his Reverence
offered a tract as he was walking over Crackshins Common,
and who robbed him of his purse, umbrella, and cambric
handkerchief, leaving him the tracts to distribute
A VISIT TO SOME COUNTRY SNOBS
'Why, dear Mr. Snob,' said a young lady of rank and
fashion (to whom I present my best compliments), 'if you
found everything so SNOBBISH at the Evergreens, if the
pig bored you and the mutton was not to your liking, and
Mrs. Ponto was a humbug, and Miss Wirt a nuisance, with
her abominable piano practice,--why did you stay so
Ah, Miss, what a question! Have you never heard of
gallant British soldiers storming batteries, of doctors
passing nights in plague wards of lazarettos, and other
instances of martyrdom? What do you suppose induced
gentlemen to walk two miles up to the batteries of
Sabroan, with a hundred and fifty thundering guns bowling
them down by hundreds?--not pleasure, surely. What
causes your respected father to quit his comfortable home
for his chambers, after dinner, and pore over the most
dreary law papers until long past midnight?,
Mademoiselle; duty, which must be done alike by military,
or legal, or literary gents. There's a power of
martyrdom in our profession.
You won't believe it? Your rosy lips assume a smile of
incredulity--a most naughty and odious expression in a
young lady's face. Well, then, the fact is, that my
chambers, No. 24, Pump Court, Temple, were being painted
by the Honourable Society, and Mrs. Slamkin, my
laundress, having occasion to go into Durham to see her
daughter, who is married, and has presented her with the
sweetest little grandson--a few weeks could not be better
spent than in rusticating. But ah, how delightful Pump
Court looked when I revisited its well-known chimney-
pots! CARI LUOGHI. Welcome, welcome, O fog and smut!
But if you think there is no moral in the foregoing
account of the Pontine family, you are, Madam, most
painfully mistaken. In this very chapter we are going to
have the moral--why, the whole of the papers are nothing
BUT the moral, setting forth as they do the folly of
being a Snob.
You will remark that in the Country Snobography my poor
friend Ponto has been held up almost exclusively for the
public gaze--and why? Because we went to no other house?
Because other families did not welcome us to their
mahogany? No, no. Sir John Hawbuck of the Haws, Sir
John Hipsley of Briary Hall, don't shut the gates of
hospitality: of General Sago's mulligatawny I could speak
from experience. And the two old ladies at Guttlebury,
were they nothing? Do you suppose that an agreeable
young dog, who shall be nameless, would not be made
welcome? Don't you know that people are too glad to see
ANYBODY in the country?
But those dignified personages do not enter into the
scheme of the present work, and are but minor characters
of our Snob drama; just as, in the play, kings and
emperors are not half so important as many humble
persons. The DOGE OF VENICE, for instance, gives way to
OTHELLO, who is but a nigger; and the KING OF FRANCE to
FALCONBRIDGE, who is a gentleman of positively no birth
at all. So with the exalted characters above mentioned.
I perfectly well recollect that the claret at Hawbuck's
was not by any means so good as that of Hipsley's, while,
on the contrary, some white hermitage at the Haws (by the
way, the butler only gave me half a glass each time) was
supernacular. And I remember the conversations. O
Madam, Madam, how stupid they were! The subsoil
ploughing; the pheasants and poaching; the row about the
representation of the county; the Earl of
Mangelwurzelshire being at variance with his relative and
nominee, the Honourable Marmaduke Tomnoddy; all these I
could put down, had I a mind to violate the confidence of
private life; and a great deal of conversation about the
weather, the Mangelwurzelshire Hunt, new manures, and
eating and drinking, of course.
But CUI BONO? In these perfectly stupid and honourable
families there is not that Snobbishness which it is our
purpose to expose. An ox is an ox--a great hulking, fat-
sided, bellowing, munching Beef. He ruminates according
to his nature, and consumes his destined portion of
turnips or oilcake, until the time comes for his
disappearance from the pastures, to be succeeded by other
deep-lunged and fat-ribbed animals. Perhaps we do not
respect an ox. We rather acquiesce in him. The Snob, my
dear Madam, is the Frog that tries to swell himself to ox
size. Let us pelt the silly brute out of his folly.
Look, I pray you, at the case of my unfortunate friend
Ponto, a good-natured, kindly English gentleman--not
over-wise, but quite passable--fond of port-wine, of his
family, of country sports and agriculture, hospitably
minded, with as pretty a little patrimonial country-house
as heart can desire, and a thousand pounds a year. It is
not much; but, ENTRE NOUS, people can live for less, and
For instance, there is the doctor, whom Mrs. P. does not
condescend to visit: that man educates a mirific family,
and is loved by the poor for miles round: and gives them
port-wine for physic and medicine, gratis. And how those
people can get on with their pittance, as Mrs. Ponto
says, is a wonder to HER.
Again, there is the clergyman, Doctor Chrysostom, --Mrs.
P. says they quarrelled about Puseyism, but I am given to
understand it was because Mrs. C. had the PAS of her at
the Haws--you may see what the value of his living is any
day in the 'Clerical Guide;' but you don't know what he
Even Pettipois allows that, in whose eyes the Doctor's
surplice is a scarlet abomination; and so does Pettipois
do his duty in his way, and administer not only his
tracts and his talk, but his money and his means to his
people. As a lord's son, by the way, Mrs. Ponto is
uncommonly anxious that he should marry EITHER of the
girls whom Lord Gules does not intend to choose.
Well, although Pon's income would make up almost as much
as that of these three worthies put together-- oh, my
dear Madam, see in what hopeless penury the poor fellow
lives! What tenant can look to HIS forbearance? What
poor man can hope for HIS charity? 'Master's the best of
men,' honest Stripes says, 'and when we was in the
ridgment a more free-handed chap didn't live. But the
way in which Missus DU scryou, I wonder the young ladies
is alive, that I du!'
They live upon a fine governess and fine masters, and
have clothes made by Lady Carabas's own milliner; and
their brother rides with earls to cover; and only the
best people in the county visit at the Evergreens, and
Mrs. Ponto thinks herself a paragon of wives and mothers,
and a wonder of the world, for doing all this misery and
humbug, and snobbishness, on a thousand a year.
What an inexpressible comfort it was, my dear Madam, when
Stripes put my portmanteau in the four-wheeled chaise,
and (poor P on being touched with sciatica) drove me over
to 'Carabas Arms' at Guttlebury, where we took leave.
There were some bagmen there in the Commercial Room, and
one talked about the house he represented; and another
about his dinner, and a third about the Inns on the road,
and so forth--a talk, not very wise, but honest and to
the purpose--about as good as that of the country
gentlemen: and oh, how much pleasanter than listening to
Miss Wirt's show-pieces on the piano, and Mrs. Ponto's
genteel cackle about the fashion and the county families!
WHEN I see the great effect which these papers are
producing on an intelligent public, I have a strong hope
that before long we shall have a regular Snob department
in the newspapers, just as we have the Police Courts and
the Court News at present. When a flagrant case of bone-
crushing or Poor-law abuse occurs in the world, who so
eloquent as THE TIMES to point it out? When a gross
instance of Snobbishness happens, why should not the
indignant journalist call the public attention to that
How, for instance, could that wonderful case of the Earl
of Mangelwurzel and his brother be examined in the
Snobbish point of view? Let alone the hectoring, the
bullying, the vapouring, the bad grammar, the mutual
recriminations, lie-givings, challenges, retractations,
which abound in the fraternal dispute--put out of the
question these points as concerning the individual
nobleman and his relative, with whose personal affairs we
have nothing to do--and consider how intimately corrupt,
how habitually grovelling and mean, how entirely Snobbish
in a word, a whole county must be which can find no
better chiefs or leaders than these two gentlemen. 'We
don't want,' the great county of Mangelwurzelshire seems
to say, 'that a man should be able to write good grammar;
or that he should keep a Christian tongue in his head; or
that he should have the commonest decency of temper, or
even a fair share of good sense, in order to represent us
All we require is, that a man should be recommended to us
by the Earl of Mangelwurzelshire. And all that we
require of the Earl of Mangelwurzelshire is that he
should have fifty thousand a year and hunt the country.'
O you pride of all Snobland! O you crawling, truckling,
self-confessed lackeys and parasites!
But this is growing too savage: don't let us forget our
usual amenity, and that tone of playfulness and sentiment
with which the beloved reader and writer have pursued
their mutual reflections hitherto. Well, Snobbishness
pervades the little Social Farce as well as the great
State Comedy; and the self-same moral is tacked to
There was, for instance, an account in the papers of a
young lady who, misled by a fortune-teller, actually went
part of the way to India (as far as Bagnigge Wells, I
think,) in search of a husband who was promised her
there. Do you suppose this poor deluded little soul
would have left her shop for a man below her in rank, or
for anything but a darling of a Captain in epaulets and a
red coat. It was her Snobbish sentiment that misled her,
and made her vanities a prey to the swindling fortune-
Case 2 was that of Mademoiselle de Saugrenue, 'the
interesting young Frenchwoman with a profusion of jetty
ringlets,' who lived for nothing at a boardinghouse at
Gosport, was then conveyed to Fareham gratis: and being
there, and lying on the bed of the good old lady her
entertainer, the dear girl took occasion to rip open the
mattress, and steal a cash-box, with which she fled to
London. How would you account for the prodigious
benevolence exercised towards the interesting young
French lady? Was it her jetty ringlets or her charming
face?--Bah! Do ladies love others for having faces and
black hair?--she said SHE WAS A RELATION OF de Saugrenue:
talked of her ladyship her aunt, and of herself as a De
Saugrenue. The honest boarding-house people were at her
feet at once. Good, honest, simple, lord-loving children
Finally, there was the case of 'the Right Honourable Mr.
Vernon,' at York. The Right Honourable was the son of a
nobleman, and practised on an old lady. He procured from
her dinners, money, wearing-apparel, spoons, implicit
credence, and an entire refit of linen. Then he cast his
nets over a family of father, mother, and daughters, one
of whom he proposed to marry. The father lent him money,
the mother made jams and pickles for him, the daughters
vied with each other in cooking dinners for the Right
Honourable--and what was the end? One day the traitor
fled, with a teapot and a basketful of cold victuals. It
was the 'Right Honourable' which baited the hook which
gorged all these greedy, simple Snobs. Would they have
been taken in by a commoner? What old lady is there, my
dear sir, who would take in you and me, were we ever so
ill to do, and comfort us, and clothe us, and give us her
money, and her silver forks? Alas and alas! what mortal
man that speaks the truth can hope for such a landlady?
And yet, all these instances of fond and credulous
Snobbishness have occurred in the same week's paper, with
who knows how many score more?
Just as we had concluded the above remarks comes a pretty
little note sealed with a pretty little butterfly--
bearing a northern postmark--and to the following
'Mr. Punch,--'Taking great interest in your Snob Papers,
we are very anxious to know under what class of that
respectable fraternity you would designate us.
'We are three sisters, from seventeen to twenty-two. Our
father is HONESTLY AND TRULY of a very good family (you
will say it is Snobbish to mention that, but I wish to
state the plain fact); our maternal grandfather was an
'We CAN afford to take in a stamped edition of YOU, and
all Dickens' works as fast as they come out, but we do
NOT keep such a thing as a PEERAGE or even a BARONETAGE
in the house.
'We live with every comfort, excellent cellar, &c. &c.;
but as we cannot well afford a butler, we have a neat
table-maid (though our father was a military man, has
travelled much, been in the best society, &c.) We HAVE a
coachman and helper, but we don't put the latter into
buttons, nor make them wait at table, like Stripes and
'We are just the same to persons with a handle to their
name as to those without it. We wear a moderate modicum
of crinoline, (3)and are never limp (4) in the morning.
We have good and abundant dinners on CHINA (though we
have plate (5), and just as good when alone as with
'Now, my dear MR. PUNCH, will you PLEASE give us a short
answer in your next number, and I will be SO much obliged
to you. Nobody knows we are writing to you, not even our
father; nor will we ever tease (6) you again if you will
only give us an answer--just for FUN, now do!
'If you get as far as this, which is doubtful, you will
probably fling it into the fire. If you do, I cannot
help it; but I am of a sanguine disposition, and
entertain a lingering hope. At all events, I shall be
impatient for next Sunday, for you reach us on that day,
and I am ashamed to confess, we CANNOT resist opening you
in the carriage driving home from church. (7)
'I remain, &c. &c., for myself and sisters.
Excuse this scrawl, but I always write headlong. (8)
'P. S.--You were rather stupid last week, don't you
think? (9) We keep no gamekeeper, and yet have always
abundant game for friends to shoot, in spite of the
poachers. We never write on perfumed paper--in short, I
can't help thinking that if you knew us you would not
think us Snobs.'
To this I reply in the following manner:--'My dear young
ladies, I know your post-town: and shall be at church
there the Sunday AFTER next; when, will you please to
wear a tulip or some little trifle in your bonnets, so
that I may know you? You will recognize me and my dress-
-a quiet-looking young fellow, in a white top-coat, a
crimson satin neckcloth, light blue trousers, with glossy
tipped boots, and an emerald breast-pin. I shall have a
black crape round my white hat; and my usual bamboo cane
with the richly-gilt knob. I am sorry there will be no
time to get up moustaches between now and next week.
'From seventeen to two-and-twenty! Ye gods! what ages!
Dear young creatures, I can see you all three. Seventeen
suits me, as nearest my own time of life; but mind, I
don't say two-and-twenty is too old. No, no. And that
pretty, roguish, demure, middle one. Peace, peace, thou
silly little fluttering heart!
'YOU Snobs, dear young ladies! I will pull any man's
nose who says so. There is no harm in being of a good
family. You can't help it, poor dears. What's in a
name? What is in a handle to it? I confess openly that
I should not object to being a Duke myself; and between
ourselves you might see a worse leg for a garter.
'YOU Snobs, dear little good-natured things, no that is,
I hope not--I think not--I won't be too confident--none
of us should be--that we are not Snobs. That very
confidence savours of arrogance, and to be arrogant is to
be a Snob. In all the social gradations from sneak to
tyrant, nature has placed a most wondrous and various
progeny of Snobs. But are there no kindly natures, no
tender hearts, no souls humble, simple, and truth-loving?
Ponder well on this question, sweet young ladies. And if
you can answer it, as no doubt you can--lucky are you--
and lucky the respected Herr Papa, and lucky the three
handsome young gentlemen who are about to become each
(1) The introduction of Grandpapa, is I fear, Snobbish.
(2) That is, as you like. I don't object to buttons in
(3) Quite right.
(4) Bless you!
(5) Snobbish; and I doubt whether you ought to dine as
well alone as with company. You will be getting too good
(6) We like to be teased; but tell Papa.
(7) O garters and stars! what will Captain Gordon and
Exeter Hall say to this?
(8) Dear little enthusiast!
(9) You were never more mistaken, miss, in your life.
SNOBS AND MARRIAGE
Everybody of the middle rank who walks through this life
with a sympathy for his companions on the same journey--
at any rate, every man who has been jostling in the world
for some three or four lustres--must make no end of
melancholy reflections upon the fate of those victims
whom Society, that is, Snobbishness, is immolating every
day. With love and simplicity and natural kindness
Snobbishness is perpetually at war. People dare not be
happy for fear of Snobs. People dare not love for fear
of Snobs. People pine away lonely under the tyranny of
Snobs. Honest kindly hearts dry up and die. Gallant
generous lads, blooming with hearty youth, swell into
bloated old-bachelorhood, and burst and tumble over.
Tender girls wither into shrunken decay, and perish
solitary, from whom Snobbishness has cut off the common
claim to happiness and affection with which Nature
endowed us all. My heart grows sad as I see the
blundering tyrant's handiwork. As I behold it I swell
with cheap rage, and glow with fury against the Snob.
Come down, I say, thou skulking dulness! Come down, thou
stupid bully, and give up thy brutal ghost! And I arm
myself with the sword and spear, and taking leave of my
family, go forth to do battle with that hideous ogre and
giant, that brutal despot in Snob Castle, who holds so
many gentle hearts in torture and thrall.
When PUNCH is king, I declare there shall be no such
thing as old maids and old bachelors. The Reverend Mr.
Malthus shall be burned annually, instead of Guy Fawkes.
Those who don't marry shall go into the workhouse. It
shall be a sin for the poorest not to have a pretty girl
to love him.
The above reflections came to mind after taking a walk
with an old comrade, Jack Spiggot by name, who is just
passing into the state of old-bachelorhood, after the
manly and blooming youth in which I remember him. Jack
was one of the handsomest fellows in England when we
entered together in the Highland Buffs; but I quitted the
Cuttykilts early, and lost sight of him for many years.
Ah! how changed he is from those days! He wears a
waistband now, and has begun to dye his whiskers. His
cheeks, which were red, are now mottled; his eyes, once
so bright and steadfast, are the colour of peeled
'Are you married, Jack?' says I, remembering how
consumedly in love he was with his cousin Letty Lovelace,
when the Cuttykilts were quartered at Strathbungo some
twenty years ago.
'Married? no,' says he. 'Not money enough. Hard enough
to keep myself, much more a family, on five hundred a
year. Come to Dickinson's; there's some of the best
Madeira in London there, my boy.' So we went and talked
over old times. The bill for dinner and wine consumed
was prodigious, and the quantity of brandy-and-water that
Jack took showed what a regular boozer he was. 'A guinea
or two guineas. What the devil do I care what I spend
for my dinner?' says he.
'And Letty Lovelace?' says I.
Jack's countenance fell. However, he burst into a loud
laugh presently. 'Letty Lovelace!' says he. 'She's
Letty Lovelace still; but Gad, such a wizened old woman!
She's as thin as a thread-paper; (you remember what a
figure she had:) her nose has got red, and her teeth
blue. She's always ill; always quarrelling with the rest
of the family; always psalm-singing, and always taking
pills. Gad, I had a rare escape THERE. Push round the
grog, old boy.'
Straightway memory went back to the days when Letty was
the loveliest of blooming young creatures: when to hear
her sing was to make the heart jump into your throat;
when to see her dance, was better than Montessu or Noblet
(they were the Ballet Queens of those days); when Jack
used to wear a locket of her hair, with a little gold
chain round his neck, and, exhilarated with toddy, after
a sederunt of the Cuttykilt mess, used to pull out this
token, and kiss it, and howl about it, to the great
amusement of the bottle-nosed old Major and the rest of
'My father and hers couldn't put their horses together,'
Jack said. 'The General wouldn't come down with more
than six thousand. My governor said it shouldn't be done
under eight. Lovelace told him to go and be hanged, and
so we parted company. They said she was in a decline.
Gammon! She's forty, and as tough and as sour as this
bit of lemon-peel. Don't put much into your punch, Snob
my boy. No man CAN stand punch after wine.'
'And what are your pursuits, Jack?' says I.
'Sold out when the governor died. Mother lives at Bath.
Go down there once a year for a week. Dreadful slow.
Shilling whist. Four sisters --all unmarried except the
youngest--awful work. Scotland in August. Italy in the
winter. Cursed rheumatism. Come to London in March, and
toddle about at the Club, old boy; and we won't go home
till maw-aw-rning till daylight does appear.
'And here's the wreck of two lives!' mused the present
Snobographer, after taking leave of Jack Spiggot.
'Pretty merry Letty Lovelace's rudder lost and she cast
away, and handsome Jack Spiggot stranded on the shore
like a drunken Trinculo.'
What was it that insulted Nature (to use no higher name),
and perverted her kindly intentions towards them? What
cursed frost was it that nipped the love that both were
bearing, and condemned the girl to sour sterility, and
the lad to selfish old-bachelorhood? It was the infernal
Snob tyrant who governs us all, who
says, 'Thou shalt not love without a lady's maid; thou
shalt not marry without a carriage and horses; thou shalt
have no wife in thy heart, and no children on thy knee,
without a page in buttons and a French BONNE; thou shalt
go to the devil unless thou hast a brougham; marry poor,
and society shall forsake thee; thy kinsmen shall avoid
thee as a criminal; thy aunts and uncles shall turn up
their eyes and bemoan the sad, sad manner in which Tom or
Harry has thrown himself away.' You, young woman, may
sell yourself without shame, and marry old Croesus; you,
young man, may lie away your heart and your life for a
jointure. But if 'you are poor, woe be to you! Society,
the brutal Snob autocrat, consigns you to solitary
perdition. Wither, poor girl, in your garret; rot, poor
bachelor, in your Club.
When I see those graceless recluses--those unnatural
monks and nuns of the order of St. Beelzebub, (1) my
hatred for Snobs, and their worship, and their idols,
passes all continence. Let us hew down that man-eating
Juggernaut, I say, that hideous Dagon; and I glow with
the heroic courage of Tom Thumb, and join battle with the
(1) This, of course, is understood to apply only to those
unmarried persons whom a mean and Snobbish fear about
money has kept from fulfilling their natural destiny.
Many persons there are devoted to celibacy because they
cannot help it. Of these a man would be a brute who
spoke roughly. Indeed, after Miss O'Toole's conduct to
the writer, he would be the last to condemn. But never
mind, these are personal matters.
SNOBS AND MARRIAGE
In that noble romance called 'Ten Thousand a Year,' I
remember a profoundly pathetic description of the
Christian manner in which the hero, Mr. Aubrey, bore his
misfortunes. After making a display of the most florid
and grandiloquent resignation, and quitting his country
mansion, the writer supposes Aubrey to come to town in a
post-chaise and pair, sitting bodkin probably between his
wife and sister. It is about seven o'clock, carriages
are rattling about, knockers are thundering, and tears
bedim the fine eyes of Kate and Mrs. Aubrey as they think
that in happier times at this hour--their Aubrey used
formerly to go out to dinner to the houses of the
aristocracy his friends. This is the gist of the
passage--the elegant words I forget. But the noble,
noble sentiment I shall always cherish and remember.
What can be more sublime than the notion of a great man's
relatives in tears about ---his dinner? With a few
touches, what author ever more happily described A Snob?
We were reading the passage lately at the house of my
friend, Raymond Gray, Esquire, Barrister-at-Law, an
ingenuous youth without the least practice, but who has
luckily a great share of good spirits, which enables him
to bide his time, and bear laughingly his humble position
in the world. Meanwhile, until it is altered, the stern
laws of necessity and the expenses of the Northern
Circuit oblige Mr. Gray to live in a very tiny mansion in
a very queer small square in the airy neighbourhood of
Gray's Inn Lane.
What is the more remarkable is, that Gray has a wife
there. Mrs. Gray was a Miss Harley Baker: and I suppose
I need not say THAT is a respectable family. Allied to
the Cavendishes, the Oxfords, the Marrybones, they still,
though rather DECHUS from their original splendour, hold
their heads as high as any. Mrs. Harley Baker, I know,
never goes to church without John behind to carry her
prayer-book; nor will Miss Welbeck, her sister, walk
twenty yards a-shopping without the protection of Figby,
her sugar-loaf page; though the old lady is as ugly as
any woman in the parish and as tall and whiskery as a
grenadier. The astonishment is, how Emily Harley Baker
could have stooped to marry Raymond Gray. She, who was
the prettiest and proudest of the family; she, who
refused Sir Cockle Byles, of the Bengal Service; she, who
turned up her little nose at Essex Temple, Q.C., and
connected with the noble house of Albyn; she, who had but
4,000L. POUR TOUT POTAGE, to marry a man who had scarcely
as much more. A scream of wrath and indignation was
uttered by the whole family when they heard of this
MESALLIANCE. Mrs. Harley Baker never speaks of her
daughter now but with tears in her eyes, and as a ruined
creature. Miss Welbeck says, 'I consider that man a
villain;' and has denounced poor good-natured Mrs.
Perkins as a swindler, at whose ball the young people met
for the first time.
Mr. and Mrs. Gray, meanwhile, live in Gray's Inn Lane
aforesaid, with a maid-servant and a nurse, whose hands
are very full, and in a most provoking and unnatural
state of happiness. They have never once thought of
crying about their dinner, like the wretchedly puling and
Snobbish womankind of my favourite Snob Aubrey, of 'Ten
Thousand a Year;' but, on the contrary, accept such
humble victuals as fate awards them with a most perfect
and thankful good grace--nay, actually have a portion for
a hungry friend at times--as the present writer can
I was mentioning these dinners, and some admirable lemon
puddings which Mrs. Gray makes, to our mutual friend the
great Mr. Goldmore, the East India Director, when that
gentleman's face assumed an expression of almost
apoplectic terror, and he gasped out, 'What! Do they
give dinners?' He seemed to think it a crime and a
wonder that such people should dine at all, and that it
was their custom to huddle round their kitchen-fire over
a bone and a crust. Whenever he meets them in society,
it is a matter of wonder to him (and he always expresses
his surprise very loud) how the lady can appear decently
dressed, and the man have an unpatched coat to his back.
I have heard him enlarge upon this poverty before the
whole room at the 'Conflagrative Club,' to which he and I
and Gray have the honour to belong.
We meet at the Club on most days. At half-past four,
Goldmore arrives in St. James's Street, from the City,
and you may see him reading the evening papers in the
bow-window of the Club, which enfilades Pall Mall--a
large plethoric man, with a bunch of seals in a large
bow-windowed light waistcoat. He has large coat-tails,
stuffed with agents' letters and papers about companies
of which he is a Director. His seals jingle as he walks.
I wish I had such a man for an uncle, and that he himself
were childless. I would love and cherish him, and be
kind to him.
At six o'clock in the full season, when all the world is
in St. James's Street, and the carriages are cutting in
and out among the cabs on the stand, and the tufted
dandies are showing their listless faces out of
'White's,' and you see respectable grey-headed gentlemen
waggling their heads to each other through the plate-
glass windows of 'Arthur's:' and the red-coats wish to be
Briareian, so as to hold all the gentlemen's horses; and
that wonderful red-coated royal porter is sunning himself
before Marlborough House;--at the noon of London time,
you see a light-yellow carriage with black horses, and a
coachman in a tight floss-silk wig, and two footmen in
powder and white and yellow liveries, and a large woman
inside in shot-silk, a poodle, and a pink parasol, which
drives up to the gate of the Conflagrative, and the page
goes and says to Mr. Goldmore (who is perfectly aware of
the fact, as he is looking out of the windows with about
'Conflagrative' bucks), 'Your carriage, Sir.' G. wags
his head. 'Remember, eight o'clock precisely,' says he
to Mulligatawney, the other East India Director; and,
ascending the carriage, plumps down by the side of Mrs.
Goldmore for a drive in the Park, and then home to
Portland Place. As the carriage whirls off, all the
young bucks in the Club feel a secret elation. It is a
part of their establishment, as it were. That carriage
belongs to their Club, and their Club belongs to them.
They follow the equipage with interest; they eye it
knowingly as they see it in the Park. But halt! we are
not come to the Club Snobs yet. O my brave Snobs, what a
flurry there will be among you when those papers appear!
Well, you may judge, from the above description, what
sort of a man Goldmore is. A dull and pompous Leadenhall
Street Croesus, good-natured withal, and affable--cruelly
affable. 'Mr. Goldmore can never forget,' his lady used
to say, 'that it was Mrs. Gray's Grandfather who sent him
to India; and though that young woman has made the most
imprudent marriage in the world, and has left her station
in society, her husband seems an ingenious and laborious
young man, and we shall do everything in our power to be
of use to him.' So they used to ask the Grays to dinner
twice or thrice in a season, when, by way of increasing
the kindness, Buff, the butler, is ordered to hire a fly
to convey them to and from Portland Place.
Of course I am much too good-natured a friend of both
parties not to tell Gray of Goldmore's opinion in him,
and the nabob's astonishment at the of the briefless
barrister having any dinner at all. Indeed, Goldmore's
saying became a joke against Gray amongst us wags at the
Club, and we used to ask him when he tasted meat last?
whether we should bring him home something from dinner?
and cut a thousand other mad pranks with him in our
One day, then, coming home from the Club, Mr. Gray
conveyed to his wife the astounding information that he
had asked Goldmore to dinner.
'My love,' says Mrs. Gray, in a tremor, 'how could you be
so cruel? Why, the dining-room won't hold Mrs.
'Make your mind easy, Mrs. Gray; her ladyship is in
Paris. It is only Croesus that's coming, and we are
going to the play afterwards--to Sadler's Wells.
Goldmore said at the Club that he thought Shakspeare was
a great dramatic poet, and ought to be patronized;
whereupon, fired with enthusiasm, I invited him to our
'Goodness gracious! what CAN we give him for dinner? He
has two French cooks; you know Mrs. Goldmore is always
telling us about them; and he dines with Aldermen every
'"A plain leg of mutton, my Lucy,
I prythee get ready at three;
Have it tender, and smoking, and juicy,
And what better meat can there be?"'
says Gray, quoting my favourite poet.
'But the cook is ill; and you know that horrible Pattypan
the pastrycook's ---'
'Silence, Frau!' says Gray, in a deep tragedy voice. 'I
will have the ordering of this repast. Do all things as
I bid thee. Invite our friend Snob here to partake of
the feast. Be mine the task of procuring it.'
'Don't be expensive, Raymond,' says his wife.
'Peace, thou timid partner of the briefless one.
Goldmore's dinner shall be suited to our narrow means.
Only do thou in all things my commands.' And seeing by
the peculiar expression of the rogue's countenance, that
some mad waggery was in preparation, I awaited the morrow
SNOBS AND MARRIAGE
Punctual to the hour--(by the way, I cannot omit to mark
down my hatred, scorn, and indignation towards those
miserable Snobs who come to dinner at nine when they are
asked at eight, in order to make a sensation in the
company. May the loathing of honest folks, the
backbiting of others, the curses of cooks, pursue these
wretches, and avenge the society on which they trample!)-
-Punctual, I say, to the hour of five, which Mr. and Mrs.
Raymond Gray had appointed, a youth of an elegant
appearance, in a neat evening-dress, whose trim whiskers
indicated neatness, whose light step denoted activity
(for in sooth he was hungry, and always is at the dinner
hour, whatsoever that hour may be), and whose rich golden
hair, curling down his shoulders, was set off by a
perfectly new four-and-ninepenny silk hat, was seen
wending his way down Bittlestone Street, Bittlestone
Square, Gray's Inn. The person in question, I need not
say, was Mr. Snob. HE was never late when invited to
dine. But to proceed my narrative:--
Mr. Snob may have flattered himself that he made a
sensation as he strutted down Bittlestone with his richly
gilt knobbed cane (and indeed I vow I saw heads looking
at me from Miss Squilsby's, the brass-plated milliner
opposite Raymond Gray's, who has three silver-paper
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