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the wrath of the owner ; indeed I have no doubt, that
had not Mrs. Flather reflected that Mrs. Colonel Jones
gave some of the most elegant parties in London, to
which she was very anxious to be invited, she would have
boxed Master Augustus's ears in the presence of the
whole audience of Covent Garden.

One of the young ladies was, of course, obliged to
remain in the back row with Mr. Spec. We could not
see much of the play over Mrs. F.'s turban ; but I trust
that we were not unhappy in our retired position. O
Miss Emily ! O Miss Louisa ! there is one who would
be happy to sit for a week close by either of you, though
it were on one of those abominable little private-
box chairs. I know, for my part, that every time the
box-keeperess popped in her head, and asked if we
would take any refreshment, I thought the interruption

Our young ladies, and their stout chaperon and aunt,
had come provided with neat little bouquets of flowers,
in which they evidently took a considerable pride, and
which were laid, on their first entrance, on the ledge in
front of our box.

But, presently, on the opposite side of the house, Mrs.
Cutbush, of Pocklington Gardens, appeared with her
daughters, and bowed in a patronising manner to the
ladies of our party, with whom the Cutbush family had
a slight acquaintance.

Before ten minutes, the bouquets of our party were
whisked away from the ledge of the box. Mrs. Flather
dropped hers to the ground, where Master Jones's feet
speedily finished it ; Miss Louisa Twigg let hers fall into
her lap, and covered it with her pocket-handkerchief.


Uneasy signals passed between her and her sister. I
could not, at first, understand what event had occurred
to make these ladies so unhappy.

At last the secret came out. The Misses Cutbush had
bouquets like little haystacks before them. Our small
nosegays, which had quite satisfied the girls until now,
had become odious in their little jealous eyes ; and the
Cutbushes triumphed over them.

I have joked the ladies subsequently on this adventure ;
but not one of them will acknowledge the charge against
them. It was mere accident that made them drop the
flowers pure accident. They jealous of the Cutbushes
not they, indeed ; and of course, each person on this
head is welcome to his own opinion.

How different, meanwhile, was the behaviour of my
young friend Master Jones, who is not as yet sophisti-
cated by the world. He not only nodded to his father's
servant, who had taken a place in the pit, and was to
escort his young master home, but he discovered a
schoolfellow in the pit likewise. * By Jove, there's
Smith ! ' he cried out, as if the sight of Smith was the
most extraordinary event in the world. He pointed out
Smith to all of us. He never ceased nodding, winking,
grinning, telegraphing, until he had succeeded in attract-
ing the attention not only of Master Smith, but of the
greater part of the house ; and whenever anything in the
play struck him as worthy of applause, he instantly
made signals to Smith below, and shook his fist at him,
as much as to say, 'By Jove, old fellow, ain't it good ?
I say, Smith, isn't it prime, old boy ? ' He actually
made remarks on his fingers to Master Smith during the

I confess he was one of the best parts of the night's
entertainment, to me. How Jones and Smith will talk
about that play when they meet after holidays ! And
not only then will they remember it, but all their lives
long. Why do you remember that play you saw thirty


years ago, and forget the one over which you yawned
last week ? ' Ah, my brave little boy,' I thought in my
heart, ' twenty years hence you will recollect this, and
have forgotten many a better thing. You will have
been in love twice or thrice by that time, and have for-
gotten it ; you will have buried your wife and forgotten
her ; you will have had ever so many friendships and for-
gotten them. You and Smith won't care for each other,
very probably ; but you'll remember all the actors and
the plot of this piece we are seeing.'

I protest I have forgotten it myself. In our back row
we could not see or hear much of the performance (and
no great loss) fitful bursts of elocution only occasionally
reaching us, in which we could recognise the well-known
nasal twang of the excellent Mr. Stupor, who performed
the part of the young hero ; or the ringing laughter of
Mrs. Belmore, who had to giggle through the whole

It was one of Mr. Boyster's comedies of English Life :
Frank Nightrake (Stupor) and his friend Bob Fitzoffley
appeared in the first scene, having a conversation with
that impossible valet of English Comedy, whom any
gentleman would turn out of doors before he could get
through half a length of the dialogue assigned. I caught
only a glimpse of this act. Bob, like a fashionable young
dog of the aristocracy (the character was played by
Bulger, a meritorious man, but very stout, and nearly
fifty years of age), was dressed in a rhubarb-coloured
body-coat with brass buttons, a couple of under-waist-
coats, a blue satin stock with a paste brooch in it, and
an eighteenpenny cane, which he never let out of his
hand, and with which he poked fun at everybody.
Frank Nightrake, on the contrary, being at home, was
attired in a very close-fitting chintz dressing-gown, lined
with glazed red calico, and was seated before a large
pewter teapot, at breakfast. And, as your true English
Comedy is the representation of nature, I could not but


think how like these figures on the stage, and the
dialogue which they used, were to the appearance and
talk of English gentlemen of the present day.

The dialogue went on somewhat in the following
fashion :

Bob Fitzoffley (enters whistling). The top of the
morning to thee, Frank ! What ! at breakfast
already ? At chocolate and the Morning Post, like a
dowager of sixty ? Slang ! (he pokes the servant with his
cane) what has come to thy master, thou Prince of
Valets ! thou pattern of Slaveys ! thou swiftest of
Mercuries ? Has the Honourable Francis Nightrake
lost his heart, or his head, or his health ?

Frank (laying down the paper). Bob, Bob, I have lost
all three ! I have lost my health, Bob, with thee and
thy like, over the Burgundy at the Club ; I have lost
my head, Bob, with thinking how I shall pay my
debts ; and I have lost my heart, Bob, oh, to such a
creature !

Frank. A Venus, of course ?

Slang. With the presence of Juno.

Bob. And the modesty of Minerva.

Frank. And the coldness of Diana.

Bob. Pish ! What a sigh is that about a woman !
Thou shall be Endymion, the night-rake of old : and
conquer this shy goddess. Hey, Slang ?

Herewith Slang takes the lead of the conversation,
and propounds a plot for running away with the heiress ;
and I could not help remarking how like the comedy
was to life how the gentlemen always say * thou,' and
* prythee,' and ' go to, 'and talk about heathen goddesses
to each other ; how their servants are always their
particular intimates ; how when there is serious love-
making between a gentleman and lady, a comic attach-
ment invariably springs up between the valet and wait-
ing-maid of each ; how Lady Grace Gadabout, when


she calls upon Rose Ringdove to pay a morning visit,
appears in a low satin dress, with jewels in her hair ;
how Saucebox, her attendant, wears diamond brooches,
and rings on all her fingers ; while Mrs. Tallyho, on
the other hand, transacts all the business of life in a
riding-habit, and always points her jokes by a cut of the

This playfulness produced a roar all over the house,
whenever it was repeated, and always made our little
friends clap their hands and shout in chorus.

Like that bon-vivant who envied the beggars staring
into the cook-shop windows, and wished he could be
hungry, I envied the boys, and wished I could laugh,
very much. In the last act, I remember for it is now
very nearly a week ago everybody took refuge either
in a secret door, or behind a screen or curtain, or under
a table, or up a chimney : and the house roared as each
person came out from his place of concealment. And
the old fellow in top-boots, joining the hands of the
young couple (Fitzoffley, of course, pairing off with the
widow), gave them his blessing, and thirty thousand

And ah, ye gods ! if I wished before that comedies
were like life, how I wished that life was like comedies !
Whereon the drop fell ; and Augustus, clapping-to the
opera-glass, jumped up, crying * Hurrah ! now for the
Pantomime ! *


THE composer of the Overture of the New Grand
Comic Christmas Pantomime, 'Harlequin and the
Fairy of the Spangled Pocket-handkerchief, or the Prince
of the Enchanted Nose,' arrayed in a brand-new


Christmas suit, with his wrist-bands and collar turned
elegantly over his cuffs and embroidered satin tie, takes
a place at his desk, waves his stick, and away the
Pantomime Overture begins.

I pity a man who can't appreciate a Pantomime
Overture. Children do not like it : ' they say, * Hang
it, I wish the Pantomime would begin : ' but for us it is
always a pleasant moment of reflection and enjoyment.
It is not difficult music to understand, like that of your
Mendelssohns and Beethovens, whose symphonies and
sonatas Mrs. Spec states must be heard a sc jre of times
before you can comprehend them. But of the proper
Pantomime - music I am a delighted connoisseur.
Perhaps it is because you meet so many old friends in
these compositions consorting together in the queerest
manner, and occasioning numberless pleasant surprises.
Hark! there goes 'Old Dan Tucker' wandering into
the ' Groves of Blarney ; ' our friends the * Scots wha
hae wi' Wallace bled ' march rapidly down * Wapping
Old Stairs,' from which the * Figlia del Reggimento '
comes bounding briskly, when she is met, embraced,
and carried off by c Billy Taylor,' that brisk young

All this while you are thinking, with a faint sickly
kind of hope, that perhaps the Pantomime may be a good
one ; something like c Harlequin and the Golden
Orange-Tree,' which you recollect in your youth ;
something like ' Fortunio,' that marvellous and delightful
piece of buffoonery, which realised the most gorgeous
visions of the absurd. You may be happy, perchance :
a glimpse of the old days may come back to you. Lives
there the man with soul so dead, the being ever so blase
and travel-worn, who does not feel some shock and thrill
still : just at that moment when the bell (the dear and
familiar bell of your youth) begins to tinkle, and the
curtain to rise, and the large shoes and ankles, the flesh-
coloured leggings, the crumpled knees, the gorgeous


robes and masks finally, of the actors ranged on the stage
to shout the opening chorus ?

All round the house you hear a great gasping a-ha-a
from a thousand children's throats. Enjoyment is going
to give place to Hope. Desire is about to be realised.
Oh you blind little brats ! Clap your hands, and crane
over the boxes, and open your eyes with happy wonder !
Clap your hands now. In three weeks more the
Reverend Doctor Swishtail expects the return of his
young friends to Sugarcane House.

King Beak, Emperor of the Romans, having invited
all the neighbouring Princes, Fairies, and Enchanters,
to the feast at which he celebrated the marriage of his
only son, Prince Aquiline, unluckily gave the liver wing
of the fowl which he was carving to the Prince's god-
mother, the Fairy Bandanna, while he put the gizzard-
pinion on the plate of the Enchanter Gorgibus, King of
the Maraschino Mountains, and father of the Princess
Rosolia, to whom the Prince was affianced.

The outraged Gorgibus rose from the table in a fury,
smashed his plate of chicken over the head of King
Beak's Chamberlain, and wished that Prince Aquiline's
nose might grow on the instant as long as the sausage
before him.

It did so ; the screaming Princess rushed away from
her bridegroom ; and her father, breaking off the match
with the House of Beak, ordered his daughter to be
carried in his sedan by the two giant porters, Gor and
Gogstay, to his castle in the Juniper Forest, by the side
of the bitter waters of the Absinthine Lake, whither,
after upsetting the marriage-tables, and flooring King
Beak in a single combat, he himself repaired.

The latter monarch could not bear to see or even to
hear his disfigured son.

When the Prince Aquiline blew his unfortunate and
monstrous nose, the windows of his father's palace


broke ; the locks of the doors started ; the dishes and
glasses of the King's banquet jingled and smashed as
they do on board a steamboat in a storm ; the liquor
turned sour ; the Chancellor's wig started off his head ;
and the Prince's Royal father, disgusted with his son's
appearance, drove him forth from his palace, and banished
him the kingdom.

Life was a burden to him on account of that nose.
He fled from a world in which he was ashamed to show
it, and would have preferred a perfect solitude, but that
he was obliged to engage one faithful attendant to give
him snuff (his only consolation) and to keep his odious
nose in order.

But as he was wandering in a lonely forest, entangling
his miserable trunk in the thickets, and causing the birds
to fly scared from the branches, and the lions, stags, and
foxes to sneak away in terror as they heard the tremend-
ous booming which issued from the fated Prince when-
ever he had occasion to use his pocket-handkerchief, the
Fairy of the Bandanna Islands took pity on him, and,
descending in her car drawn by doves, gave him a
kerchief which rendered him invisible whenever he
placed it over his monstrous proboscis.

Having occasion to blow his nose (which he was
obliged to do pretty frequently, for he had taken cold
while lying out among the rocks and morasses in the
rainy miserable nights, so that the peasants, when they
heard him snoring fitfully, thought that storms were
abroad) at the gates of a castle by which he was passing,
the door burst open, and the Irish Giant (afterwards
Clown, indeed) came out and wondering looked about,
furious to see no one.

The Prince entered into the castle, and whom should
he find there but the Princess Rosolia, still plunged in
despair. Her father snubbed her perpetually. 'I wish
he would snub me !' exclaimed the Prince, pointing to
his own monstrous deformity. In spite of his misfortune,


she still remembered her Prince. * Even with his nose,'
the faithful Princess cried, * I love him more than all the
world beside ! '

At this declaration of unalterable fidelity, the Prince
flung away his handkerchief, and knelt in rapture at the
Princess's feet. She was a little scared at first by the
hideousness of the distorted being before her but what
will not woman's faith overcome ? Hiding her head on
his shoulder (and so losing sight of his misfortune), she
vowed to love him still (in those broken verses which
only Princesses in pantomimes deliver).

At this instant King Gorgibus, the Giants, the King's
Household, with clubs and battleaxes, rushed in. Draw-
ing his immense scimitar, and seizing the Prince by his
too-prominent feature, he was just on the point of
sacrificing him, when when, I need not say, the Fairy
Bandanna (Miss Bendigo), in her amaranthine car drawn
by Paphian doves, appeared and put a stop to the
massacre. King Gorgibus became Pantaloon, the two
Giants first and second Clowns, and the Prince and
Princess (who had been, all the time of the Fairy's
speech, and actually while under their father's scimitar,
unhooking their dresses) became the most elegant
Harlequin and Columbine that I have seen for many a
long day. The nose flew up to the ceiling, the music
began a jig, and the two Clowns, after saying, ' How are
you ? ' went and knocked down Pantaloon.


ON the conclusion of the Pantomime, the present
memorialist had the honour to conduct the ladies under
his charge to the portico of the theatre, where the green
fly was in waiting to receive them. The driver was not
more inebriated than usual ; the young page with the



gold-knobbed hat was there to protect his mistresses ;
and though the chaperon of the party certainly invited
me to return with them to Brompton and there drink
tea, the proposal was made in terms so faint, and the
refreshment offered was so moderate, that I declined to
journey six miles on a cold night in order to partake of
such a meal. The waterman of the coach-stand, who
had made himself conspicuous by bawling out for Mrs.
Flather's carriage, was importunate with me to give him
sixpence for pushing the ladies into the vehicle. But it
was my opinion that Mrs. Flather ought to settle that
demand ; and as, while the fellow was urging it, she
only pulled up the glass, bidding Cox's man to drive on,
I of course did not interfere. In vulgar and immoral
language he indicated, as usual, his discontent. I treated
the fellow with playful, and, I hope, gentlemanlike

Master Jones, who would not leave the box in the
theatre until the people came to shroud it with brown-
holland (by the way, to be the last person in a theatre
to put out the last light and then to find one's way out
of the vast black lonely place, must require a very
courageous heart) Master Jones, I say, had previously
taken leave of us, putting his arm under that of his
father's footman, who had been in the pit, and who
conducted him to Russell Square. I heard Augustus
proposing to have oysters as they went home, though
he had twice in the course of the performance made
excursions to the cake-room of the theatre, where
he had partaken of oranges, macaroons, apples, and

As the altercation between myself and the linkman
was going on, young Grigg (brother of Grigg of the
Lifeguards, himself reading for the Bar) came up, and
hooking his arm into mine, desired the man to leave off
1 chaffing ' me ; asked him if he would take a bill at three
months for the money ; told him if he would call at the


' Horns Tavern,' Kennington, next Tuesday week, he
would find sixpence there, done up for him in a brown
paper parcel ; and quite routed my opponent. * I know
you, Mr. Grigg,' said he : ' you're a gentleman, you are ; '
and so retired, leaving the victory with me.

Young Mr. Grigg is one of those young bucks about
town who goes every night of his life to two theatres, to
the Casino, to Weippert's balls, to the Cafe de 1'Hay-
market, to Bob Slogger's, the boxing house, to the
Harmonic Meetings at the l Kidney Cellars,' and other
places of fashionable resort. He knows everybody at
these haunts of pleasure ; takes boxes for the actors'
benefits ; has the word from headquarters about the
venue of the fight between Putney Sambo and the
Tutbury Pet ; gets up little dinners at their public-
houses ; shoots pigeons, fights cocks, plays fives, has a
boat on the river, and a room at Rummer's in Conduit
Street, besides his chambers at the Temple, where his
parents, Sir John and Lady Grigg, of Portman Square,
and Grigsby Hall, Yorkshire, believe that he is assiduously
occupied in studying the Law. * Tom applies too
much, her Ladyship says. ' His father was obliged to
remove him from Cambridge on account of a brain-fever
brought on by hard reading, and in consequence of the
jealousy of some of the collegians ; otherwise, I am told,
he must have been Senior Wrangler, and seated first of
the Tripod.'

'I'm going to begin the evening,' said this ingenuous
young fellow ; * I've only been at the Lowther Arcade,
Weippert's hop, and the billiard-rooms. I just toddled
in for half an hour to see Brooke in " Othello," and
looked in for a few minutes behind the scenes at the
Adelphi. What shall be the next resort of pleasure,
Spec, my elderly juvenile ? Shall it be the " Sherry-
Cobbler-Stall," or the " Cave of Harmony " ? There's
some prime glee-singing there.'

* What ! is the old " Cave of Harmony " still extant .? '


I aslced. ' 1 have not been there these twenty years.'
And memory carried me back to the days when Light-
sides of Corpus, myself and little Oakes, the Johnian,
came up to town in a chaise-and-four at the long
vacation at the end of our freshman's year, ordered turtle
and venison for dinner at the * Bedford,' blubbered over
* Black-eyed Susan ' at the play, and then finished the
evening at that very Harmonic Cave, where the famous
English Improvisatore sang with such prodigious talent
that we asked him down to stay with us in the country.
Spurgin, and Hawker, the fellow-commoner of our
College, I remember me, were at the Cave too, and
Bardolph of Brasenose. Lord, lord ! what a battle and
struggle and wear and tear of life there has been since
then ! Hawker levanted, and Spurgin is dead these ten
years ; little Oakes is a whiskered Captain of Heavy
Dragoons, who cut down no end of Sikhs at Sobraon ;
Lightsides, a Tractarian parson, who turns his head and
walks another way when we meet ; and your humble
servant well, never mind. But in my spirit I saw
them all those blooming and jovial young boys and
Lightsides, with a cigar in his face, and a bang-up
white coat, covered with mother-of-pearl cheese-plates,
bellowing out for ' First and Second Turnout,' as our
yellow post-chaise came rattling up to the inn-door at

' And so the " Cave of Harmony " is open,' I said,
looking at little Grigg with a sad and tender interest,
and feeling that I was about a hundred years old.

* I believe you, my baw-aw-oy ! ' said he, adopting the
tone of an exceedingly refined and popular actor, whose
choral and comic powers render him a general favourite.

1 Does Bivins keep it ? ' I asked, in a voice of profound

4 Hoh ! What a flat you are ! You might as well
ask if Mrs. Siddons acted Lady Macbeth to-night, and
if Queen Anne's dead or not. I tell you what, Spec


my boy you're getting a regular old flat fogy, sir, a
positive old fogy. How the deuce do you pretend to be
a man about town, and not know that Bivins has left the
Cavern ? Law bless you ! Come in and see ; I know
the landlord I'll introduce you to him.'

This was an offer which no man could resist ; and so
Grigg and I went through the Piazza, and down the
steps of that well-remembered place of conviviality. Grigg
knew everybody ! wagged his head in at the bar, and
called for two glasses of his particular mixture ; nodded
to the singers ; winked at one friend put his little stick
against his nose as a token of recognition to another ;
and calling the waiter by his Christian name, poked him
playfully with the end of his cane, and asked him
whether he, Grigg, should have a lobster kidney, or a
mashed oyster and scalloped 'taters, or a poached rabbit,
for supper.

The room was full of young rakish-looking lads, with
a dubious sprinkling of us middle-aged youth, and
stalwart red-faced fellows from the country, with whisky-
noggins before them, and bent upon seeing life. A
grand piano had been introduced into the apartment,
which did not exist in the old days : otherwise, all was
as of yore smoke rising from scores of human chimneys,
waiters bustling about with cigars and liquors in the
intervals of the melody and the President of the meet-
ing (Bivins no more) encouraging gents to give their

Just as the music was about to begin, I looked
opposite me, and there, by heavens ! sat Bardolph of
Brasenose, only a little more purple and a few shades
more dingy than he used to look twenty years ago.


' LOOK at that old Greek in the cloak and fur collar
opposite,' said my friend, Mr. Grigg. * That chap is
here every night. They call him Lord Farintosh. He
has five glasses of whisky-and-water every night
seventeen hundred and twenty-five goes of alcohol in a
year ; we totted it up one night at the bar. James the
waiter is now taking number three to him. He don't
count the wine he has had at dinner.' Indeed, James
the waiter, knowing the gentleman's peculiarities, as soon
as he saw Mr. Bardolph's glass nearly empty, brought
him another noggin and a jug of boiling water without a

Memory carried me instantaneously back to the days
of my youth. I had the honour of being at school with
Bardolph before he went to Brasenose ; the under boys

Online LibraryWilliam Makepeace ThackerayComplete works (Volume 22) → online text (page 4 of 31)