Page images

the parish, had been his old companions and to sing every evening,-he being the very first playmates at the manor-lıouse, and from whom person who had ever voluntarily caused the he had been parted during a long tour in issue of those notes, which more resembled Greece, Italy, and Spain, - consented with a the screaming of a macaw than the tones of a very good grace to this arrangement; the more human being. To be sure, he did not listen, so as, himself a lively and clever man, he per- --that would have been too much to expect ceived, apparently with great amusement, the from mortal ; but he not only regularly re-1 designs of his hostess, and for the first two or quested her to sing, but took care, by suggestthree days humoured them with much drol- ing single songs, to prevent her sister from lery; affecting to be an epicure, that she might singing with her,--who, thus left to her own pass off her cook’s excellent confectionary for devices, used to sit in a corner listening to Miss Caroline's handiwork; and even pre- William Morland with a sincerity and earnesttending to have sprained his ankle, that he ness of attention very different from the makemight divert himself by observing in how believe admiration which she had been used many ways the same fair lady — who, some to show by her mamma's orders to the clever thing younger, rather prettier, and far more men of fortune whom she had been put fordocile than her sister, had been selected by ward to attract. That Mrs. Leslie did not see Mrs. Leslie for his intended bride-would be what was going forward in that quarter, was pressed by that accomplished match-maker marvellous; but her whole soul was engrossinto his service; handing him his coffee, for ed by the desire to clutch Sir Arthur, and so instance, fetching him books and newspapers, long as he called on Caroline for bravura after offering him her arm when he rose from the bravura, for scena after scena, she was happy. sofa, following him about with footstools, Mr. Leslie, usually wholly inattentive to cushions, and ottomans, and waiting on him such proceedings, was on this occasion more just like a valet or a page in female attire. clear-sighted. He asked Mary Morland one

At the end of that period,-from some un- day “whether she knew what her brother and explained change of feeling, whether respect Sir Arthur were about ?" and, on her blushing for his friend William Morland, or weariness and hesitating in a manner very unusual with of acting a part so unsuited to him, or some her, added, chucking her under the chin, “A relenting in favour of the young lady,—he word to the wise is enough, my queen ; I am threw off at once his lameness and his affecta- not quite a fool, whatever your aunt may be, tion, and resumed his own singularly natural and so you may tell the young gentlemen.” and delightful manner. I saw a great deal of And with that speech he walked off. him, for my father's family and the Selbys The next morning brought a still fuller dehad intermarried once or twice in every century claration of his sentiments. Sir Arthur had since the Conquest; and though it might have received, by post, a letter which had evidently puzzled a genealogist to decide how near affected him greatly, and had handed it to Wilor how distant was the relationship, yet, as liam Morland, who had read it with equal emoamongst North-country folk “ blood is warm- tion; but neither of them had mentioned its er than water,", we continued not only to call contents, or alluded to it in any manner. After cousins, but to entertain much of the kindly breakfast, the young men walked off together, feeling by which family connexion often is, and the girls separated to their different emand always should be, accompanied. My fa- ployments. I, who had arrived there to spend ther and Mr. Leslie had always been intimate, the day, was about to join them, when I was and Mary Morland and myself having taken stopped by Mr. Leslie. “I want to speak to a strong liking to each other, we met at one you,” said he, " about that cousin of yours. house or the other, almost every day; and, ac- My wife thinks he's going to marry Caroline; customed as I was, to watch the progress of whereas it's plain to me, as doubtless it must Mrs. Leslie's maneuvres, the rise, decline, be to you, that whatever attention he may be and fall of her several schemes, I soon per- paying to that simple child-and, for my own ceived that her hopes and plans were in full part, I don't see that he is paying her any-is activity on the present occasion.

merely to cover William Morland's attachment It was, indeed, perfectly evident that she to Bab. So that the end of Mrs. Leslie's wise expected to hail Caroline as Lady Selby be- schemes will be, to have one daughter the fure many months were past; and she had wife of a country curateinore reason for the belief ihan had often hap A country curate, Mr. Leslie !" ejaculatpened to her, inasmuch as Sir Arthur not only ed Mrs. Leslie, holding up her hands in yielded with the best possible grace to her re- amazement and horror. peated entreaties for the postponement of his “ And the other,” pursued Mr. Leslie, “an journey, but actually paid the young lady old maid.” considerable attention, watching the progress

* An old maid !" reiterated Mrs. Leslie, in of her portrait of Viss Morland, and aiding additional dismay—“An old maid !” Her very her not only by advice but assistance, to the wig stood on end; and what farther she would unspeakable benefit of the painting, and even have said was interrupted by the entrance of carrying his complaisance so far as to ask her the accused party.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

"I am come, Mr. Leslie,” said Sir Arthur, _" do not move, Mrs. Leslie-pray stay, my MRS. TOMKINS, THE CHEESE. dear cousin,-I am come to present to you a

MONGER. double petition. The letter which I received this morning was, like most human events, of Perhaps the finest character in all Molière mingled yarn—it brought intelligence of good is that of Madame Pernelle, the scolding and of evil. I have lost an old and excellent grandmother in the “ Tartufe;" at least, that friend, the rector of Hadley-cum-Appleton, and scene (the opening scene of that glorious have, by that loss, an excellent living to pre- play,) in which, toitering in at a pace which sent to my friend William Morland. It is her descendants have difficulty in keeping up above fifteen hundred a-year, with a large with, she puts to flight her grandson, and her house, a fine garden, and a park-like glebe, daughter-in-law's brother, (think of making altogether a residence fit for any lady ; and it

men fly the field !) and puts to silence her comes at a moment in which such a piece of daughter-in-law, her grand-daughter, and even preferment is doubly welcome, since the first the pert soubrette, (ihink of making women part of my petition relates to him. Hear it hold their tongues !) and finally boxes her favourably, my dear sir-my dear madam : he

own waiting-maid's ears for yawning and loves your Barbara--and Barbara, I hope and looking tired, -that scene of matchless scoldbelieve, loves him.”

ing has always seemed to me unrivalled in the “ There, Mrs. Leslie!" interrupted Mr. Les- comic drama.* The English version of it in lie, with an arch nod. “ There! do you hear - The Hypocrite" is far less amusing, the old that?"

Lady Lambert being represented in that piece “ You are both favourably disposed, I am rather as a sour devotee, whose fiery zeal, and sure,” resumed Sir Arthur. “ Such a son-in- her submission to Cantwell, and even to Mawlaw must be an honour to any man—must he worm, form the chief cause, the mainspringnot, my dear madam?-and i, for my part, as it were, of her lectures; whilst Madame have a brother's interest in his suit."

Pernelle, although doubtless the effect of her "There, Mr. Leslie!" ejaculated in her turn harangues is heightened and deepened by her Mrs. Leslie, returning her husband's nod most perfect conviction that she is right and that all triumphantly. “A brother's interest ! - do the rest are wrong, has yet a natural gift of you hear that?"

shrewishness—is, so to say, a scold born, and “Since,” pursued Sir Arthur, “I have to would have rated her daughter-in-law and all crave your intercession with his dear and ad- her descendants, and bestowed her cuffs upon mirable sister, whom I have loved, without her domestics with equal good-will, though knowing it, ever since we were children in she had never aspired to the reputation of the nursery, and who now, although confess- piety, or edified by the example of M. Tartufe. ing that she does not hate me, talks of want 'The gift was in her. Not only has Molière of fortune- as if I had not enough, and of beaten, as was to be expected, his own Engwant of beauty and want of accomplishments lish imitator, but he has achieved the far --as if her matchless elegance and unrivalled higher honour of vanquishing in this single conversation were not worth all the doll-like instance, his two great forerunners, Masters prettiness or tinsel acquirements under the Shakspeare and Fletcher. For, although the sun. Pray intercede for me, dear cousin !- royal dame of Anjou had a considerable talent dear sir!" continued the ardent lover; whilst for vituperation, and Petruchio's two wives, Mr. Leslie, without taking the slightest notice Catherine and Maria,t were scolds of promise; of the appeal, nodded most provokingly to the none of the three, in my mind, could be said crest-fallen match-maker, and begged to know how she liked Sir Arthur's opinion of her * I cannot resist the temptation of subjoining, at the system of education ?

end of this paper, some part of that inimitable scene ; What answer the lady made, this deponent believing that, like other great writers of an older saith not-indeed, I believe she was too angry date. Molière has been somewhat“ pushed from his to speak— but the result was all that could

be stoo!” by later dramatists, and is more talked of than

read. At all events, any one who does remember desired by the young people: the journey was Madame Pernelle will not be sorry to meet with her again postponed ; the double marriage cele- again.-Vide note, al the end of this paper. brated at Hallenden; and Miss Caroline, as † Shakspeare's fine extravaganza, “The Taming of bridesmaid, accompanied the fair brides to the Shrew" gave rise to an equally pleasant continua“canny Northumberland,” to take her chance tion by Fletcher, entitled "The Woman's Prize ; or. for a husband amongst "fresh fields and pas- the professed lovers of the old drama, in which pe

The Tamer Tamed;" a play little known, except to tures new."

truchio, having lost his good wife Catherine, is betrayed into a second marriage to a gentle, quiet, de mure damsel, called Maria, who, after their nuptials, changes into an absolute fury, turns the table upon him completely, and succeeds in establishing the remale dominion upon the firmest possible basis, being aided throughout by a sort of chorus of married wu men from town and country.

[ocr errors]

to approach Madame Pernelle,-not to men- , monger, in Belford, with the whole produce tion the superior mode of giving tongue (if I of her dairy, celebrated for a certain mock may affront the beautiful race of spaniels by Stilton, which his customers, who got it at applying in such a way a phrase appropriated about half the price of the real, were wont to to their fine instinct,)—to say nothing of the extol as incomparably superior to the more verbal superiority, Flipote's box on the ear genuine and more expensive commodity. remains unrivalled and unapproached. Cath Simon hesitated-looked at Deborah's sour erine breaking the lute over her master's head face; for she had by strong persuasion been is a joke in comparison.

induced to promise not to scold — that is to Now, notwithstanding the great French- say, not to speak, (for, in her case, the terms man's beating his English rivals so much in were synonymous ;) — inuttered something the representation of a shrew, I am by no which might be understood as a civil escuse, means disposed to concede to our Continental and went to the stable to get ready his horse neighbours any supremacy in the real living and chaise. In that short walk, however, the model. I should be as sorry that French wo- prudent swain recollected that a rival cheesemen should go beyond us in that particular monger had just set up over-against him in gift of the tongue, which is a wonian's sole the same street of the identical town of Belweapon, her one peculiar talent, as that their ford; that the aforesaid rival was also a bachsoldiers should beat ours in the more manly elor, and, as Mrs. Ford had hinted, would way of fighting with sword and with gun, or doubtless not be so blind to his own interest their painters or poets overpass us in their re as to neglect to take her mock Stilton, with spective arts. The art of scolding is no tri- so small an encombrance as a sour-looking fling accomplishment, and I claim for my wife, who was said to be the best manager in countrywomen a high degree of excellence in the county : so that by the time the crafty all the shades and varieties thereunto belong- stepmother reappeared with a parting glass of ing, from the peevish grumble to the fiery re- capital currant wine, (a sort of English stirtort-from “the quip modest” to “ the coun- rup-cup, which she positively affirmed to be tercheck quarrelsome.” The gift is strictly of Deborah's making,) Simon had changed, national too; for although one particular disa or, as he expressed it, made up his mind to trict of London (which, indeed, has given its espouse Miss Deborah, for the benefit of his name to the dialect *) has been celebrated, trade and the good of his customers. and I believe deservedly celebrated, for its Short as was the courtship, and great as breed of scolds; yet I will undertake to pick were the pains taken by Mrs. Ford who perup in any part of England, at four-and-twenty formed impossibilities in the way of conciliahours' notice, a shrew that shall vie with all tion) to bring the marriage to bear, it had yet Billingsgate.

nearly gone off three several times, in conseTo go no farther for an instance than our quence of Deborah's tongue, and poor Simon's own market-town, I will match my worthy misgivings, on whose mind, especially on one neighbour, Mrs. Tomkins, cheesernonger, in occasion, the night before the wedding, it was Queen-street, against any female fish-vender powerfully borne, that all the excellence of the in Christendom. She, in her single person, currant wine, and all the advantages of the simple as she stands there behind her counter, mock Stilton, were but poor compensations, shall outscold the whole parish of Wapping: not only for us peace and happy life," and

Deborah Ford, such was Mrs. Tomkins's “awful rule and just supremacy,” but for the maiden appellation, was the only daughter of being permitted, in common parlance, to call a thrifty and thriving yeoman in the county his soul his own. Things, however, had gone of Wilts, who having, to her own infinite dis- too far. The stepmother talked of honour and satisfaction and the unspeakable discomfort of character, and broken hearts; the father hinted her family, remained a spinster for more years at an action for damages, and a certain nephew, than she cared to tell, was at length got rid Timothy, an attorney-at-law; whilst a younger of by a manæuvring stepmother, who made brother, six feet two in height, and broad in his marrying Miss Deborah the condition of proportion, more than hinted at a good cudgelher supplying Mr. Simon Tomkins, cheese- ling. So Simon was married.

Long before the expiration of the honey* Even the Americans-although, in a land so cele- moon, he found all his worst fears more than brated for freedom of speech, and so jealous of being confirmed. His wife—“his mistress," as in outdone in any way by the mother country, one would the homely country phrase he too truly called established scolding-place of their own-still use the her-was the greatest tyrant that ever ruled word “ Billingsgate” to express the species of vitupe over a household. Compared with our tigress, ration of which I am treating. I found the phrase in Judith Jenkins, now Mrs. Jones, was a lamb. that sense in a very eloquent speech of their very Poor Simon's shopman left him, his maid York paper, no longer ago than last June : a diffusion gave warning, and his apprentices ran away; of fame which our fish-wives owe to the vide spread so that he who could not give warning, and of our language. Who in the New Wom aver heard was ashamed to run away, remained the one of their Parisian rivals, les Dames de la galle! solitary subject of this despotic queen, the 34 *

3 A

luckless man-of-all-work of that old and well-trils either to her shopman's snuff or her husaccustomed shop. Bribery, under the form of band's smoking, and threatened ten times a high wages and unusual indulgences, did to a day to demolish the pipes and the boxes, certain point remedy this particular evil; so which were good for nothing, as she observed, that they came at last only to change ser- but to keep the men-folk idle and to poison vants about once a fortnight on an average, every Christian thing about them;" an affront and to lose their apprentices, some by running which both parties endured with a patient si. away and some by buying themselves off, not lence, which only served to exasperate her oftener than twice a year. Indeed, in one re- wrath.* markable instance, they had the good fortune Find it where he would, much need had to keep a cook, who happened to be stone poor Mr. Tomkins of comfort. Before his deaf, upwards of a twelvemonth; and, in an- marriage, he had been a spruce dapper little other still more happy case, were provided man, with blue eyes, a florid complexion, and with a permanent shopman, in the shape of hair of the colour commonly called sandy,an old pliant rheumatic Frenchman, who had alert in movement, fluent in speech, and much lived in some Italian warehouse in London addicted to laughing, whether at his own jokes until fairly worn off his legs, in which plight or the jokes of his neighbours; he belonged his importers had discarded him, to find his to the Bachelors' Club and the Odd Fellows, way back to la belle France as best he could. was a great man at the cricket-ground, and a Happening to fall in with him, on going to person of some consideration at the vestry; the London warehouse with an order for Par- in short was the beau idéal of the young thrimesan, receiving an excellent character of him ving country tradesman of thirty years ago, from his employers, and being at his wit's end He had not been married half a year before for a man, Mr. Simon Tomkins, after giving such an alteration took place as really would him due notice of his wife's failing, engaged have seemed incredible. His dearest friends the poor old foreigner, and carried him home did not know him. The whole man was to Queen-street in triumph. A much-enduring changed shrunk, shrivelled, withered, dwinman was M. Leblanc! Next after his master, dled into nothing. The henpecked husband he, beyond all doubt, was the favourite object in the farce, carrying his wife's clogs in one of Deborah's objurgation; but, by the aid of hand and her bandbox in the other, and living snuff and philosophy, he bore it bravely. on the “ tough drumsticks of turkeys, and the Mais je suis philosophe !" cried the poor old fat flaps of shoulders of mutton," was but a Frenchman, shrugging his shoulders, and tap- type of him. The spirit of his youth was ping his box when the larum of his mistress's departed. He gave up attending the coffee-, tongue ran through the house-" Toutefois je house or the cricket-ground, ceased to joke or suis philosophe !" exclaimed he with a patient to laugh at jokes; and he who had had at club

sigh; and Deborah, who, without compre- and vestry * a voice potential as double as the hending the phrase, understood it to convey mayor’s,” could hardly be brought to answer some insinuation against herself, redoubled Yes or No to a customer. The man was eviher clamour at the sound.

dently in an atrophy. His wife laid the blame Tobacco in its various forms seems to have to his smoking, and his friends laid it to his been the chief consolation of her victims. If | wife, whilst poor Simon smoked on and said snuff and philosophy were Leblanc's resour- nothing. It was a parallel case to Peter Jences, a pipe and a tankard were his master's; and in both cases the objects to which they During ihe great dispute in France about the Ancients

Nothing is so provoking in an adversary as silence. resorted for comfort drew down fresh lectures and Moderns, in Madame Dacier's time. one of the from their liege lady. She complained of the combatants published a pamphlet with the title. Re! smell. And of a surety the smell is an abomi- ponse au Silence de M. de la Motte. I confess that I nation; only that, her father and her seven the other day that I and another lady were engaged

have some sympathy with the writer. It was but brothers, to say nothing of half-a-dozen uncles in an argument with one of the stronger sex, and had and some score of cousins, having been as just beaten him out of the field-were on the very atrociously given to smoking as if they had point of giving him the coup de grace, when all on a been born and bred in Germany, so that eight sudden, my gentleman made us a low bow, and de. or ten chimneys had been constantly going in he would not say another word on the subject. I

clared that we should have it in our own way that one room in the old farm-house of Bevis-land, don't know that I was ever so much provoked in my the fumes of tobacco might be said to be her life. To be defrauded of our just victory (for of course native air; and Mr. Tomkins's stock-in-trade we were right.) whilst the cunning wretch (a clever consisting, besides the celebrated cheese which man, too, which made it worse) looked as complacent had so unluckily brought him acquainted with and as smiling as if he had yielded the point from

pure compassion to our weakness! Mrs. Tomkins her, of soap, candles, salt-butter, bacon, pic- would have boxed his ears. It is just as if an oppo. kles, oils, and other unsavoury commodities, nent at chess, whose pawns are almost gone, and one would really think that no one particular whose pieces are taken, whose game, in short, is desstench could greatly increase the ill odours perate

who must in a move or two be checkof that most unfragrant shop: She, however, sweep away he board. 'I wonder what Mrs. Tomkins

mated-shroud suddenly proclaim himself tired, and imputed all the steams that invaded her nos- I would say to that!

[ocr errors]

kins's, and Stephen Lane might have saved, she was, in the most liberal acceptation of the him; but Stephen not being amongst his words, prudent, sagacious, and honest in her cronies, (for Simon was a Tory,) and Simon pecuniary dealings, buying the very best commaking no complaint, that chance was lost. modities, and selling them at such a fair and He lingered through the first twelve months moderate profit as ensured a continuation of after their marriage, and early in the second the best custom of the county—the more eshe died, leaving his widow in excellent cir- pecially as her sharp forbidding countenance cumstances, the possessor of a flourishing and lank raw-boned figure were seldom seen business and the mother of a little boy, to in the shop. People said (but what will not whom she (the will having of course been people say ?) that one reason for her keeping made under her supervision) was constituted away from such excellent scolding-ground sole guardian.

was to be found in les doux yeux of M. Pierre Incredible as it may seem, considering the Leblanc, who, withered, wizened, brokenlife she had led him while alive, Deborah'was down cripple as he was, was actually susreally sorry for poor Simon – perhaps from pected of having made an offer to his misa touch of remorse, perhaps because she lost tress ;-a story which I wholly disbelieve, not in him the most constant and patient listener only because I do not think that the poor phito her various orations-perhaps from a mix- losopher, whose courage was rather of a pasture of both feelings; at all events, sorry she sive than an active nature, would ever have was; and as grief in her showed itself in the summoned resolution to make such a proposal; very novel form of gentleness, so that for four but because he never, as far as I can discover, and twenty hours she scolded nobody, the was observed in the neighbourhood with a people about her began to be seriously alarmed scratched face-a catastrophe which would as for her condition, and were about to call in the certainly have followed the audacity in quesphysician who had attended the defunct, to tion, as the night follows the day. Moreover, prescribe for the astounding placability of the it is bad philosophy to go hunting about for a widow, when something done or left undone, remote and improbable cause, when a sufficient by the undertaker or his man, produced the and likely one is close at hand; and there effect which medical writers are pleased to was, in immediate juxtaposition with Mrs. call an effort of nature;” she began to scold, Tomkins's shop, reason enough to keep her out and scolding all through the preparations for of it to the end of time. the funeral, and the funeral itself, and the suc I have said that this shop, although spacious ceeding ceremonies of will-reading, legacy- and not incommodious, was dark and lowpaying, bill-settling, stock-valuing, and so browed, forming a part of an old-fashioned forth, with an energy and good-will, and an irregular tenement, in an old-fashioned irreguunwearying perseverance that left nothing to lar street. The next house, with a sort of be feared on the score of her physical strength. very deep and square bay-window, which John Wesley preaching four sermons, and was, by jutting out so as to overshadow it, in Kean playing Richard three times in one day, some sort the occasion of the gloom which, might have envied her power of lungs. She increased, perhaps, by the dingy nature of the could have spoken Lord Brougham's famous commodities, did unquestionably exist in this six hours' speech on the Law Reform without great depository of cheese and chandlery-ware, exhaustion or hoarseness. But what do I happened to be occupied by a dealer in whaletalk of a six hours' speech? She could have bone in its various uses, stays, umbrellas, spoken a whole night's debate in her own sin- parasols, and so forth,—a fair, mild, gentle gle person, without let or pause, or once drop-Quakeress — a female Friend, with two or ping her voice, till the division, so prodigious three fair smiling daughters, the very models was her sostenuto. Matthews and Miss Kelly of all that was quiet and peaceful, who, withwere nothing to her. And the exercise agreed out even speaking to the furious virago, were with her she throve on it.

a standing rebuke to that “ perturbed spirit." So for full twenty years after the death of The deep bay-window was their constant Mr. Tomkins did she reign and scold in the dwelling-place. There they sat tranquilly dark, dingy, low-browed, well-accustomed working from morning to night, gliding in and shop of which she was now the sole direct- out with a soft stealing pace like a cat, sleek,

M. Pierre Leblanc continued to be her dimpled, and dove-eyed, with that indescribaman of business; and as, besides his boasted ble nicety and purity of dress and person, and philosophy, he added a little French pliancy that blameless modesty of demeanour, for and flattery of which he did not boast, and a which the female Friend is so generally disgreat deal of dexterity in business and integ- tinguished. Not a fault could Mrs. Tomkins rity, as well as clearness in his accounts, they discover in her next neighbour,—but if ever got on together quite as well as could be ex woman hated her next neighbour, she hated pected. The trade flourished; for, to do De- Rachel May. borah justice, she was not only a good man The constant sight of this object of her deager, in the lowest sense of the term- which, testation was, of course, one of the evils of commonly speaking, means only frugal,—but Mrs. Tomkins's prosperous life ;-but she had


« PreviousContinue »