William Makepeace Thackeray.

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To them approaches their father a mariner he
kisses his wife, he kisses his children, and what does he
do next ? Why, he wipes the nose of the eldest child,
and then the fond father wipes the nose of the youngest
child. You see his attitude his portrait. You cannot
see his child's face because 'tis hidden in the folds of the
paternal handkerchief.

Fancy its expression of gratitude, ye kind souls who


read this. I am a fat man, but somehow that touch of
nature pleased me. It went to the heart through the
nose. Ah ! happy children, sua si bona norint ; if they
did but know their luclc ! They have a kind father
to tend them now, and defend their delicate faces from

the storms of life. I am alone in the world sad and
lonely. I have nobody to blow my nose. There are
others yet more wretched, who must steal the hand-
kerchief with which they perform the operation.

I could bear that feeling of loneliness no longer.
Away ! let us hasten to the dyke to enjoy the pleasures
of the place. All Ostend is there, sitting before the


Restaurant, and sipping ices as the sun descends into
the western wave.

Look at his round disc as it sinks into the blushing
waters ! look, too, at that fat woman bathing as
round as the sun. She wears a brown dressing-gown
two bathers give her each a hand she advances back-
wards towards the coming wave, and as it reaches her
plop ! she sits down in it.

She emerges, puffing, wheezing, and shaking herself.
She retires creeping up the steps of the bathing machine.
She is succeeded by other stout nymphs, disporting in
the waves. For hours and hours the Ostenders look on
at this enchanting sight.

The Ostend oyster is famous in Paris, and the joy of
the gormandiser. Our good-natured neighbours would
not enjoy them, perhaps, did they know of what
country these oysters are natives.

At Ostend they are called English Oysters. Yes ;
they are born upon the shores of Albion. They are
brought to Belgium young, and educated there. Poor
molluscous exiles ! they never see their country again.

We rose at four, to be ready for the train. A
ruffianly Boots (by what base name they denominate
the wretch in this country I know not) was pacing the
corridors at half-past two.

Why the deuce will we get up so confoundedly early
on a journey ? Why do we persist in making ourselves
miserable ? depriving our souls of sleep, scuffling
through our blessed meals, that we may be early on the
road ? Is not the sight of a good comfortable breakfast
more lovely than any landscape in any country ? And
what turn in the prospect is so charming as the turn
in a clean snug bed, and another snooze of half-an-hour ?

This alone is worth a guinea of any man's money.
If you are going to travel, never lose your natural rest
for anything. The prospect that you want to see will


be there next day. You can't see an object fairly unless
you have had your natural sleep. A woman in curl-
papers, a man unshorn, are not fit to examine a land-
scape. An empty stomach makes blank eyes. If you
would enjoy exterior objects well, dear friend, let your
inner man be comfortable.

Above all, young traveller, take my advice, and never,
never, be such a fool as to go up a mountain, a tower,
or a steeple. I have tried it. Men still ascend eminences
to this day, and, descending, say they have been delighted.
But it is a lie. They have been miserable the whole day.
Keep you down : and have breakfast while the asinine
hunters after the picturesque go braying up the hill.

It is a broiling day. Some arduous fellow-country-
men, now that we have arrived, think of mounting the
tower of


Let you and me rather remain in the cool Cathedral,
and look at the pictures there, painted by the gentleman
whom Lady Londonderry calls Reuben.

We examined these works of art at our leisure. We
thought to ourselves what a privilege it is to be allowed
to look at the works of Reuben (or any other painter)
after the nobility have gazed on them ! * What did the
Noble Marquis think about Reuben?' we mentally
inquired it would be a comfort to know his opinion ;
and that of the respected aristocracy in general.

So thought some people at the table d'hote, near
whom we have been sitting. Poor innocents ! How
little they knew that the fat gentleman opposite was
the contributor of ha ! ha !

My mind fills with a savage exultation every now
and then, as, hearing a piece of folly, I say, inwardly
* Ha, my fine fellow ! you are down. The poor wretch
goes pottering on with his dinner : he little knows he
will be in Punch that day fortnight.


There is something fierce, mighty, savage, in-
quisitorial, demoniac, in the possession of that power !
But we wield the dreadful weapon justly. It would be
death in the hands of the inexperienced to hold the
thunderbolts of Punch.

There they sit, poor simple lambs ! All browsing
away at their victuals ; frisking in their innocent silly
way making puns some of them quite unconscious
of their fate.

One man quoted a joke from Punch. It was one of
my own. Poor wretch ! And to think that you, too,
must submit to the knife !

Gentle victim ! Let me plunge it into you.

But my paper is out. I will reserve the slaughter
for the next letter.


[The relations, friends, and creditors of the singular and
erratic being who, under the title of the Fat Contributor (he
is, by the way, the thinnest mortal that ever was seen),
wrote some letters in August last in this periodical, have
been alarmed by the sudden cessation of his correspondence ;
and the public, as we have reason to know from the in-
numerable letters we have received, has participated in this

Yesterday, by the Peninsular and Oriental Company's
steamship ' Tagus,' we received a packet of letters in the
strange handwriting of our eccentric friend ; they are
without date, as might be expected from the author's usual
irregularity, but the first three letters appear to have been
written at sea, between Southampton and Gibraltar, the last
from the latter-named place. The letters contain some
novel descriptions of the countries which our friend visited,
some neat and apposite moral sentiments, and some animated
descriptions of maritime life ; we therefore hasten to lay
them before the public.


He requests us to pay his laundress in Lincoln's Inn 'a
small forgotten account.' As we have not the honour of
that lady's acquaintance, and as no doubt she reads this
Miscellany (in company with every lady of the land), we
beg her to apply at our office, where her claim, upon
authentication, shall be settled. EDITOR.]

HAVING been at Brussels for three whole days (during
which time, I calculate, I ate no less than fifty-four
dishes at that admirable table d'hote at the Hotel de
Suede), time began to hang heavily upon me. Although
I am fat, I am one of the most active men in the
universe in fact, I roll like a ball and possess a love
of locomotion which would do credit to the leanest of
travellers, George Borrow, Captain Clapperton, or
Mungo Park. I therefore pursued a rapid course to
Paris, and thence to Havre.

As Havre is the dullest place on earth, I quitted it
the next day by the * Ariadne* steamer the weather
was balm, real balm. A myriad of twinkling stars
glittered down on the deck which bore the Fat
Contributor to his native shores the crescent moon
shone in a sky of the most elegant azure, and myriads of
dimples decked the smiling countenance of the peaceful
main. I was so excited I would not turn into bed, but
paced the quarter-deck all night, singing my favourite
sea-songs all the pieces out of all the operas which I
had ever heard, and many more tunes which I invented
on the spot, but have forgotten long since.

I never passed a more delicious night. I lay down
happily to rest, folded in my cloak the eternal stars
above me, and beneath me a horsehair mattress, which
the steward brought from below. When I rose like a
giant refreshed at morn, Wight was passed ; the two
churches of Southampton lay on my right hand ; we
were close to the pier.

<What is yonder steamer?' I aked of the steward,
pointing to a handsome, slim, black craft that lay in the


harbour a flag of blue, red, white, and yellow on one
mast ; a blue-peter (signal of departure) at another.

* That,' said the steward, ' is the Peninsular and
Oriental Steam Navigation Company's ship "Lady
Mary Wood." She leaves port to-day for Gibraltar,
touching on her way at Vigo, Oporto, Lisbon, and Cadiz.'

I quitted the 'Ariadne' Jason did the same in
Lempriere's Dictionary, and she consoled herself with
drinking it is said I quitted the ship, and went to the
inn, with the most tremendous thoughts heaving,
panting, boiling in my bosom !

* Lisbon ! ' I said, as I cut into a cold round of beef for
breakfast (if I have been in foreign parts for a week, I
always take cold beef and ale for breakfast), c Lisbon ! ' I
exclaimed, l the fleuve du Tage ! the orange groves of
Cintra ! the vast towers of Mafra, Belcm, the Gallegos,
and the Palace of Necessidades ! Can I see all these in
a week ? Have I courage enough to go and see them ? '
I took another cut at the beef.

* What ! ' continued I (my mouth full of muffin), ' is it
possible that I, sitting here as I am, may without the
least trouble, and at a trifling expense, transport myself
to Cadiz, skimming over the dark blue sea to the land of
the Sombrero and the Seguidilla of the Puchera, the
Muchacha, and the Abanico ? If I employ my time
well, I may see a bull-fight, an auto-da-ft, or at least a
revolution. I may look at the dark eyes of the
Andalusian maid flashing under the dark meshes of her
veil ; and listen to Almaviva's guitar as it tinkles
beneath the balcony of Rosina ! ' ' What time does the
" Mary Wood " go, waiter ? ' I cried.

The slave replied she went at half-past three.

4 And does she make Gibraltar? ' I continued. ' Say,
John, will she land me at Gibel el Altar ? opposite the
coasts of Afric, whence whilom swarmed the galleys of
the Moor, and landed on the European shores the dusky
squadrons of the Moslemah ? Do you mean to say,


Thomas, that if I took my passage in yon boat, a few
days would transport me to the scene renowned in
British story the fortress seized by Rooke, and guarded
by Eliott ? Shall I be able to see the smoking ruins of
Tangiers, which the savage bully of Gaul burned down
in braggadocio pride ? '

1 Would you like anything for dinner before vou go ? '
William here rather sulkily interrupted me ; * 1 can t be
a-listening to you all day there's the bell of 24 ringing
like mad.'

My repast was by this time concluded the last slice
of boiled beef made up my mind completely. I went
forth to the busy town I sought a ready-made
linen warehouse and in the twinkling of an eye I pur-
chased all that was necessary for a two months' voyage.

From that moment I let my mustachios grow. At a
quarter-past three, a mariner of a stout but weather-
beaten appearance, with a quantity of new carpet-bags
and portmanteaus, containing twenty-four new shirts
(six terrifically striped), two dozen ditto stockings in
brief, everything necessary for travel tripped lightly up
the ladder of the * Lady Mary Wood.'

I made a bow as I have seen T. P. Cooke do it on the
stage. c Avast there, my hearty,' I said ; * can you tell
me which is the skipper of this here craft, and can a sea-
man get a stowage in her ? '

4 1 am the captain,' said the gentleman, rather

' Tip us your daddle then, my old sea-dog, and give
us change for this here Henry Hase.'

'Twas a bank-note for ^100, and the number was




THE first thing; that a narrow-minded individual docs on


shipboard is to make his own berth comfortable at the
expense of his neighbours. The next is to criticise the
passengers round about him.

Do you remark, when Britons meet, with what a
scowl they salute each other, as much as to say, * Bless
your eyes, ,what the angel do you do here ? ' Young
travellers, that is to say, adopt this fascinating mode of
introduction. I am old in voyaging I go up with a
bland smile to one and every passenger. I originate
some clever observation about the fineness of the
weather ; if there are ladies I manage to make some
side appeal to them^ which is sure of a tender appre-
ciation : above all, if there are old ladies, fat ladies,
very dropsical, very sea-sick, or ugly ladies, I pay them
some delicate attention I go up and insinuate a
pillow under their poor feet. In the intervals of
sickness I whisper, c A leetle hot sherry and water ? '
All these little kindnesses act upon their delicate
hearts, and I know that they say to themselves,
4 How exceedingly polite and well-bred that stout
young man is ! '

c It's a pity he's so fat,' says one.

* Yes, but then he's so active,' ejaculates another.

And thus, my dear and ingenuous youth who read
this, and whom I recommend to lay to heart every single
word of it I am adored by all my fellow-passengers.
When they go ashore they feel a pang at parting with
their amiable companion. I am only surprised that I
have not been voted several pieces of plate upon these
occasions perhaps, dear youth, if you follow my
example, you may be more lucky.

Acting upon this benevolent plan, I shall not begin
satirically to describe the social passengers that tread
with me the deck of the 'Lady Mary Wood.' I shall
not, like that haughty and supercilious wretch with the
yellow whiskers, yonder, cut short the gentle efforts at


good fellowship which human beings around me may
make or grumble at the dinner, or the head-wind, or
the narrowness of the berths, or the jarring of the
engines but shall make light of all these nay, by
ingenuity, turn them to a facetious and moral purpose.
Here, for instance, is a picture of the ship, taken under
circumstances of great difficulty over the engine-room
the funnel snorting, the ship's sides throbbing, as if in
a fit of ague.

There ! I flatter myself that is a masterpiece of per-

spective. If the Royal Academy would exhibit, or Mr.
Moon would publish, a large five-guinea plate of the
* main-deck of a steamer,' how the public would admire
and purchase ! With a little imagination, you may
fancy yourself on shipboard. Before you is the iron
grating, up to which you see peeping every minute the
pumping head of the engine ; on the right is the galley,
where the cook prepares the victuals that we eat or
not, as weather permits, near which stands a living
likeness of Mr. Jones, the third engineer ; to the left,
and running along the side of the paddle-boxes, are all
sorts of mysterious little houses painted green, from


which mates, mops, cabin-boys, black engineers, and
oily cook's assistants emerge ; above is the deck between
the two paddle-boxes, on which the captain walks in his
white trousers and telescope (you may catch a glimpse
of the former), and from which in bad weather he,
speaking-trumpet in hand, rides the whirlwind and
directs the storm. Those are the buckets in case of
fire ; see how they are dancing about ! because they
have nothing else to do I trust they will always remain
idle. A ship on fire is a conveyance by which I have no
mind to travel.

Farther away, by the quarter-deck ladder, you see
accurate portraits of Messrs. MacWhirter and
MacMurdo, of Oporto and Saint Mary's, wine-
merchants ; and far far away, on the quarter-deck, close
by the dark helmsman, with the binnacle shining before
his steadfast eyes, and the English flag streaming behind
him (it is a confounded head- wind) you see O my
wildly beating, my too susceptible heart you see

I write her name with a sort of despair. I think it
is four hours ago since I wrote that word on the paper.
They were at dinner, but (for a particular reason) I
cared not to eat, and sat at my desk apart. The dinner
went away, either down the throats of the eager
passengers or to the black caboose whence it came
dessert passed the sun set tea came the moon rose
she is now high in heaven, and the steward is laying
the supper things, and all this while I have been think-

She is a little far off in the picture ; but by the aid of
a microscope, my dear sir, you may see every lineament
of her delicious countenance every fold of the drapery
which adorns her fair form, and falls down to the loveliest
foot in the world ! Did you ever see anything like that
ankle ? those thin open-worked stockings make my
heart thump in an indescribable rapture. I would drink




her health out of that shoe ; but I swear it would not
hold more than a liqueur-glass of wine. Before she left
us ah me ! that I should have to write the words left
us I tried to make her likeness ; but the abominable
brute of a steam engine shook so that would
believe it ? this
is all I could make
of the loveliest
face in the world !

I look even at
that with a melan-
choly pleasure. It
is not very like her
certainly; but it
was drawn from
her it is not the
rose, but it has
been near it. Her complexion is a sort of gold colour
her eyes of a melting deep, unfathomably deep, brown
and as for her hair, the varnish of my best boots for
evening parties is nothing compared to it for blackness
and polish.

She used to sit on the quarter-deck of sunny afternoons,
and smoke paper cigars oh, if you could have seen how
sweetly she smiled and how prettily she puffed out the
smoke ! I have got a bit of one of them which has been
at her sweet lips. I shall get a gold box to keep it in
some day when I am in cash. There she sat smoking,
and the young rogues of the ship used to come crowding
round her. MacWhirter was sorry she didn't stop at
Oporto, MacMurdo was glad because she was going to
Cadiz I warrant he was my heart was burst asunder
with a twang and a snap, and she carried away half of it
in the Malta boat, which bore her away from me for

Dolores was not like your common mincing English
girls she had always a repartee and a joke upon her red


lips which made every one around her laugh some of
these jokes I would repeat were it not a breach of con-
fidence, and had they not been uttered in the Spanish
language, of which I don't understand a word. So I
used to sit quite silent and look at her full in the face
for hours and hours, and offer her my homage that way.

You should have seen how Dolores ate too ! Our
table was served four times a day at breakfast, with
such delicacies as beefsteaks, bubble-and-squeak, fried
ham and eggs, hashed goose, &c., twice laid of all
which trifles little Dolores would have her share ; the
same at dinner when she was well ; and when beneath
the influence of angry Neptune the poor soul was
stretched in the berth of sickness, the stewards would
nevertheless bear away plates upon plates of victuals to
the dear suffering girl ; and it would be * Irish stew for
a lady, if you please, sir ; ' * Rabbit and onions for the
ladies' cabin ; ' ' Duck, if you please, and plenty of
stuffing, for the Spanish lady.' And such is our blind
partiality when the heart is concerned, that I admired
that conduct in my Dolores which I should have detested
in other people. For instance, if I had seen Miss Jones
or Miss Smith making peculiar play with her knife, or
pulling out a toothpick after dinner, what would have
been my feelings !

But I only saw perfection in Dolores.



WE are at sea yonder is Finisterre.

The only tempest I have to describe during the
voyage is that raging in my own stormy interior. It is
most provokingly uncomfortably fine weather. As we
pass Ushant there is not a cloud on the sky, there
scarcely seems a ripple on the water and yet oh yet !


it is not a calm within. Passion and seasickness are
raging there tumultuously.

Why is it I cannot eat my victuals ? Why is it that
when Steward brought to my couch a plateful of Sea-Pie
(I called wildly for it, having read of the dish in
maritime novels), why is it that the onions of which
that delectable condiment seems to be mainly composed
caused a convulsive shudder to pass from my nose through
my whole agonised frame, obliging me to sink back
gasping in the crib, and to forego all food for many
many hours ?

I think it must be my love for Dolores that causes
this desperate disinclination for food, and yet I have
been in love many times before, and I don't recollect
ever having lost my desire for my regular four meals
a day. I believe I must be very far gone this time.

I ask Frank, the steward, how is the Senora ? She
suffers, the dear, dear Soul ! She is in the ladies'
cabin she has just had a plate of roast-pork carried in
to her.

She always chooses the dishes with onions she comes
from the sunny South, where both onions and garlic are
plentifully used and yet somehow, in the depression of
my spirits I wish, I wish she hadn't a partiality for that
particular vegetable.

It is the next day. I have lost almost all count of
time ; and only know how to trace it faintly, by
remembering the champagne days Thursday and

I am abominably hungry. And yet when I tried at
breakfast ! O horror ! I was obliged to plunge back
to the little cabin again, and have not been heard of
since. Since then I have been lying on my back, sadly
munching biscuit and looking at the glimmer of the sun
through the deadlight overhead.

I was on the sofa, enjoying (if a wretch so miserable


can be said to enjoy anything) the fresh sea-breeze
which came through the open port-hole, and played
upon my dewy brow. But a confounded great wave
came flouncing in at the orifice, blinded me, wet me
through, wet all my linen in the carpet bag, rusted all
my razors, made water-buckets of my boots, and played
the deuce with a tin of sweet biscuits which have formed
my only solace.

Ha ! ha ! What do I want with boots and razors ? I
could not put on a boot now if you were to give me a
thousand guineas. I could not shave if my life depended
on it. I think I could cut my head off but the razors
are rusty, and would not cut clean. O Dolores,
Dolores !

The hunger grows worse and worse. It seems to me
an age since butcher's meat passed these lips ; and, to
add to my misery, I can hear every word the callous
wretches are saying in the cabin ; the clatter of the
plates, the popping of the soda-water corks or can it be
champagne day, and I a miserable groveller on my
mattress ? The following is the conversation :

Captain. Mr. Jones, may I have the honour of a glass
of wine ? Frank, some champagne to Mr. Jones.

Colonel Condy (of the Spanish service). That's a
mighty delicate ham, Mr. Carver ; may I thrubble ye
for another slice ?

Mr. MacMurdo (of Saint Mary's, sherry-merchant).
Where does the Providore get this sherry ? If he would
send to my cellars in Saint Mary's I would put him in a
couple of butts of wine that shouldn't cost him half the
money he pays for this.

Mr. MacWhirter (of Oporto). The sherry's good
enough for sherry, which is never worth the drinking ;
but the port is abominable. Why doesn't he come to
our house for it ?

Captain. There is nothing like leather, gentlemen.


More champagne, Frank. Mr. Bung, try the macaroni.
Mr. Perkins, this plum-pudding is capital.

Steward. Some pudding for Mrs. Bigbody in the cabin,
and another slice of duck for the Senora.

And so goes on the horrid talk. They are eating
she is eating ; they laugh, they jest. Mr. Smith jocularly
inquires, 4 How is the fat gentleman that was so gay on
board the first day ?' Meaning me, of course ; and I am
lying supine in my berth, without even strength enough
to pull the rascal's nose. I detest Smith.

Friday. Vigo ; its bay ; beauty of its environs. Nelson.

Things look more briskly; the swell has gone down.
We are upon deck again. We have breakfasted. We
have made up for the time lost in abstinence during the
two former days. Dolores is on deck ; and when the
spring sun is out, where should the butterfly be but on
the wing ? Dolores is the sun ; I am the remainder of
the simile.

It is astonishing how a few hours' calm can make one

Online LibraryWilliam Makepeace ThackerayComplete works (Volume 22) → online text (page 21 of 31)