John Paul.

Parodies : prose and verse. Liffith Lank--Griffith Gaunt. St. Twel'mo--St. Elmo. A wicked woman. Poems. online

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Online LibraryJohn PaulParodies : prose and verse. Liffith Lank--Griffith Gaunt. St. Twel'mo--St. Elmo. A wicked woman. Poems. → online text (page 2 of 9)
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successive generations had passed it by without
deeming it succulent ?

Then turn your eyes hither, for here it is. Sold,
in the cellar he found compensation.



j IFFITH made a tolerably good husband,
as husbands went in those days. Gen-
erally he was able to get up-stairs after
dinner without more than two servants
to assist him, and he very seldom got iato bed
without taking off his boots. When he did, he
was especially careful to remove his spurs.

On one occasion, when liffith forgot himself
with both spurs and boots, Mrs. Lank remon-
strated with him ; but he turned upon her, and
called her A PRURIENT PRUDE, and threat-
ened to drag her before the public ; seeing her
error, she confessed it. On the whole, their mar-
ried life rippled on about as happily as ever mar-
ried life does.

The main trouble was about "help." Mrs.
Lank was prejudiced against good-looking cham-
bermaids, and Liffith was opposed to Roman
Catholic serving-men, who excelled in polish in
every thing, except in the matter of polishing
boots. This brings us to the opening of our

"I say, the luissy shall pack," Mrs. Lank had


She had asked him, a few seconds previously,
to bring out his viol da gamba. Alas ! her speech
had the effect of bringing out a vial of wrath !

"Say I, then, that losel shall never blacken my
boots again."

"Say I, then, they are my boots, and not
yours, and that faithful serving-man shall bright-
en them whenever he will."

Here Mrs. Lank was wrong. Because she paid
for the boots, by no means did it follow that throw
them she should every morning in her husband' s
face. Nor, strictly spealdng by the letter of the
law, were they her boots, whether paid she for
them or not. As well have claimed his breeches,
might she, and these she could no more have filled
than his boots. Aut nunquam tentes, aut per flee.

Besides, for the matter of that, they were not
boots at aU; they were A PAIR OF HOB-

Sometimes Liffith thought that he had got an
elephant on his hands — that he might as well have
married Mademoiselle D'jek — for at times he did
indeed feel much dejected — and been a Jack of
aU Trades at once.

Mrs. Lank had in her employ a lady named
Ryder— and ride her mistress she did with a ven-
geance. In combing Mrs. Lank's long and beau-
tiful hair, she tangled and pulled it viciously;
capillary attraction exerted its force to soften her
obdurate heart in vain. Ask you why Ryder



was so relentless and remorseless? She loved
Liffitli, and pulling liis wife's hair was the only
way she had of showing it. Causa latet, vis est

Combing it rather Btrong.

In short, Ryder was a Dangerous Female, and
I would not like to ride alone with her on one of
the English railways, where the carriages, you
must know, are small, and seldom filled. Not
content with pulling out her mistress's hair, she
was always and forever putting fleas in her mas-
ter's ear.

It may not have been before remarked by our
reader, but Liffith's chief besetting sin — aside
from his unfortunate habit of getting drunk —
was lunacy. On the subject of priests he was
monomaniacal. He had a way of strangling


them when they ventured npon his grounds,
which was not only inconvenient to the priests,
but distasteful as well to his wife, who had a re-
markable respect and fondness for the cloth —
sending them soups and gravies till one might
have thought it was a table-cloth.

And Ryder was always egging him on.

One day she nagged and egged him so much
that he determined to break the yolk. So he
collared a poor devil of a priest, with whom his
wife happened to be discussing the vicarious
powers of the Pope, and shook and trampled
him till there was seemingly no life left in him.

Black and blue and livid, those who picked
the poor priest up thought he was suffering from
an attack of the Malignant CoUarer.

So Liffith, thinking he had killed Ms man, fled
the county, taking with him all his wife's jewels.
In his desperation he never drew bridle-rein till
he reached an inn in the next county, a good
twenty miles away, called the "Packhorse."
(Why he did not go further, know I not, but per-
chance he was fearful of faring worse.) There he
proceeded to unpack, and, having nothing better
to do, fell to drinking on an empty stomach, until
he drank himself into a brain-fever.

Liffith was always in luck, and at this inn he
found another woman with grand and beautiful
orbs. But this was a dove-eyed angel. When
Mercy Vintner looked at things she saw them,


wliich. was more than could be said of Mrs.

Had not Liffitli possessed the constitution of a
horse, he would have succumbed to the fever.
And perhaps it was because of his possessing
the constitution of a horse that a farrier suc-
ceeded in curing him after a regular physician
had given him up. Slmilia similibus curantur.
Any way, what with Mercy's nursing, and the
glauber and aloes which the farrier prescribed
for him, Liffitli got sufficiently well to decline
wearing the shroud which a kind old lady was
embroidering for him, and caU for a shirt.

The next thing he called for was a parson, and
he and Mercy were made one, much to the delight
of the parents, who thought that such a son-in-
law behind the bar would bring custom to the
" Packhorse." Had they known his habits, they
would have trembled on trusting him with the
keys. For than Liffith there were few squarer
drinkers in the county.

The farrier, who had been engaged to Mercy,
came in just as the ceremony was over. For a
moment he stared woefully at the pictiure, and then
said very dryly : "I am too late for the wedding
and too e^irly for the funeral, methinks."

" That you be, Paul," said Mrs. Vintner cheer-
fully, " she is meet for your master."

" If he be taken sick again, the devil may dose
him," growled Paul, and leaving the room in dis-


gust he withdrew his custom from the "Pack-
horse" forever. On being asked the reason, he
replied that he did not like the new Bar-Keeper.


jIFFITH might have shown his gratitude
to Mercy in a better way than marrying
her, when he knew very well that he had
a wife and child in the next county.

It was scarcely the right thing to do ; for there
is a popular prejudice against a man having two
wives, and one should always endeavor to con-
form to the customs of society. But I am writing
of a period with which Fielding dealt, and can
not forget my double character of moralist and
artist, "Liffith Lank" is no worse than "Tom
Jones" or "Ferdinand Count Fathom." So,
while all these fellows are batting at me, why do
they not do a little Fielding ? This tale hath float •
edthe "Argosy," and sustained the "Atlantic."
The reader wiU remark that I have floated the
floater. In deference to the absurd prejudices of
society I have already omitted a great deal that
would have added to the interest of the story and
its success among the masses — exempli gratia,
the Mrs. Potiphar business between Ryder and
Liffith. All this I intend to publish in a sequel, if


the matter can Ibe satisfactorily arranged with
my publishers. And it can be, without doubt.
For it is a mistake to suppose that I consult them
or any one else regarding the morality of what I
write. The only thing I discuss with them is
bulk and price — ^principally bulk. For I am an
artist as well as a moralist, and — ars longa, etc.
— ^my art chiefly displays itself in the length of
my stories. Yerbum sap.

To return to my story. Matters did not go on
very thrivingly at the "Packhorse" after the
marriage. The prudent parents, who had thought
that Liffith was a highwayman, and would bring
purses home occasionally, found to their great dis-
appointment that he was a gentleman, and exceed-
ingly awkward behind the bar. Moreover, he
drank like a fish ; nay, he drank not like a fish,
for a fish drinks but water, and little of that
drank Liffith. It was ale and sack and sherry
possets, until every thing was empty. He drank
them out of house and home, and creditors threat-
ened to sell out the " Packhorse."

Reproached by Mr, Yintner, Liffith requested
the old man to cease his taunts, and proposed to
buy him out. To this a ready agreement was
made, for the "Packhorse" was old, and the
sign needed new painting, and the custom was
poor. The best customer about the house was
Liffith, but he did not even charge himself with
what he drank.


The question of price was soon settled ; that of
bulk had already been disposed of, for it was in
bulk that the inn was bought, and the only thing
that remained was payment. It became a ques-
tion of cash


At mention of this, LilBth's face fell. For he
had spent all the money he took from the priest
at leaving, and what he had raised from selling and
pawning his other wife' s jewels. Suddenly a bril-
liant idea occurred to him. He would go back to
that other wife and borrow of her enough money
to set himself and this one up in business. So it
IS the words of the old song came true,

" Nous revenons toujours
A nos premiers amours."

And he saddled his great black horse and set
off to see the other Mrs. Lank. His father-in-law,
who thought he was going out to the high road to
follow his old trade of " stand and deliver," bade
him God-speed, but the dove-eyed angel sighed.
For he might come to grief, thought she, and it
would not be pleasant to be widow of a man who
was hanged.

LifSth delayed two days upon the road, for he
began to feel he was riding on an awkward errand
Having turned over in his mind the way he should
conduct the disagreeable but necessary business,
he determined to conduct it upon business prin-


ciples only, and if collaterals and an indorser
were required, to get his fatlier-in-law to tack Ms

Singularly enough, he found his wife exactly
where he had left her. She was looking carefully
over the ground, in accordance with her usual
custom, to iind the purse that had been dropped
in the scuffle with the priest. Aside from being
dressed in a magnificent Irish poplin, she was not
much changed from what Liffith remembered her.
Ryder had not pulled all her golden hair out,
and she was still a passable-looking woman.

She threw herself on Liffith' s neck, panted
on his shoulder, and asked him what was the

"You are but a woman," said he — as though
that were news to her — and put her roughly
away. " I came not to make love, but to make
a loan."

Mrs. Lank was a proud woman. " An that be
the case," said she, " we wSl go into the house
and talk it over."

Seated in the house : " My jewels, that you
did me the honor to take, would not last you
long, I feared," said she, "so I expected some-
thing of this visit."

"A man can not live on hearing of sermons
and smelling two rose-buds," replied Liffith.

N". B. — That was spoke sarcasticul, as Sylva-
nus the Sugary says.


The upshot of it all was that Mrs. Lank ad-
vanced him five dollars on his personal recog-
nizance. It being nightfall before the necessary
negotiations were concluded, Liffith generously
consented to stay to dinner, and, as a matter
of course, got drunk. A separate apartment
had been aired and placed at his disposal, but
by an effort of "organic memory" he managed
to mistake the room, nor did he discover the
mistake until it was too late to remedy it.

Such little mistakes will occur in the best-
regulated families — especially when one man
maintains two, living in separate counties.

Early the next morning he mounted his horse
and rode away to the dove-eyed angel, carrying
five dollars in his pocket.

" There," said he, flinging the postal currency
down on the table, " I come not to thee empty-

"Nor I to thee. While thou wast saying,
'Stand and deliver,' see what I did," said Mer-
cy, with a heavenly smile, pointing to a cradle
which Liffith had not before observed. It con-
tained a boy three years old.

On the whole, he thought he'd go back to
Kate ; and Mercy, on hearing the whole story,
coincided with him in the opinion that it was the
best thing he could do under the circumstances.
Lifiith proposed Utah, if his other wife could be
brought to consent ; but the dove-eyed was not
willing to dovetail into any such an arrangement.



So liack rode lie to Cucumberland. But here
found he himself in a sad pickle. For Mrs.

Thb "Ckadle Soho."

Lank had heard of his goings on. Company
waa in the house, and all sat at dinner when
LLffith entered the room.


"Is there place for one morel" said lie in-

"Wo," replied Mrs. Lank decisively, as she
helped Father Francis to fish.

Such a meeting of man and wife never I nor
any one else saw.

At this moment one idea suddenly and simul-
taneously occurred to all the well-bred guests ;
and that idea was, that they were, perhaps, de

Liffith saw them leave with a sinking heart,
for well knew he what was coming.

Mrs. Lank called him a Skulking Skeesicks,
and threatened to collar him and drag him be-
fore a jury of his countrymen. "The consta-
bles shall come for you in the morning," said
she, and with that bade Ryder show him to a
room in the attic.

Little liking the accommodations, and still less
the idea of constables in the morning, Liffith
waited until Ryder had left the room, and then,
opening the window, let himself down to the
ground by the tin water-pipe that ran along the

The next morning Liffith was non est inventus.
And the morning after the next, Mrs. Lank was
arrested on suspicion of having murdered him.

Before hanging her, however, it was necessary
to find the body. Now a little distance from the
house was a mere, filled with carp and eels and



pike and other fish, always fresh and fit for the
table from the fact that they were fed principal-
ly upon parsons and peddlers. It was a mere
suspicion that the body was here, but they de-
termined to drag the mere.

For some time they dragged nothing to the
surface but parsons and peddlers and tia pots
and broken jugs, but at length they clawed
hold of something else.

"Draw slowly," said the contractor, "and if
it is, be men, and hold fast."

The men drew slowly, slowly, and presently
there rose to the surface a Thing to strike terror
and loathing to the stoutest soul.

A Thing to strike Terror to the Stoutest Soul.


It was not an editor, nor an anonymona cor
respondent, nor a Prurient Prude. It was the
pair of hobnailed shoes before alluded to in
capital letters. They were identified by a ground-
mole, found in one of them.

With this evidence against her, Mrs. Lank's
case was regarded as hopeless ; but neverthe-
less, it was determined to make an effort in her
defense. Prominent in this movement was
George Neverill. He hoped two things : first,
that Liffith was indeed eaten up by the fish in
the mere ; secondly, that Kate would be ac-


.HENGS looked serious.

Ryder had heard Mrs. Lank threaten
her husband, and a splash had been
heard in the mere that night. The theory that
it was only a fish jumping was laughed to

The idea that Mercy might know something
about the whereabouts of Lifiith suggested it-
self to Mrs. Lank, and George Neverill was dis-
patched to find that dove-eyed angel. But she
knew no more about it all than the other Mrs.


A notice appearing in one of tlie leading dailies
of tlie period, that a gentleman of refinement,
edncation, and wealth, and good-looking withal,
wonld like to correspond with a large number of
yonng ladies, with a view to matrimony, George
suggested that this must be Liffith. But Mercy
said no. She did not think he was marrying
nowadays so much as formerly.

"What shall we do?" cried Neverill in de-

"Consult the spirits," replied Mercy; and a
circle was immediately formed, but with no sat-
isfactory re&ult.

One spiiit, on being consulted, rapped out,
A-D-V-E-R-T-I-S-E, but being the ghost of a
newspaper proprietor — whose widow continued
the business — the advice was attributed to in-
terested motives.

Nevertheless, she and George laid their heads
together, and concocted the following, which ap-
peared among the "Personals" in all the city
and country papers soon after :

"If Liffith Lank, who is suspected of having been murdered,
will send his address to either of his wives, or apply to the
Sheriff of this county, he will hear of something to his advan-
tage. eod2p&wtf."

The day before the trial Neverill telegraphed
Mercy to know if any answer had come to the



She replied, " No.
To this telegram there were two postscrijt)t?
First postscript, in a tremulous hand :
" Consult the spirits."
Second postscript, in a spiritual hand :

"Nonsense!" said matter-of-fact Mr. Chouse-
man, " we have enow to do with pumping the
witnesses, let alone draining the mere. We want
no more parsons and peddlers."


- OUET was in session.

" Katrine Lank," said the Judge, "look
me in the face."
The prisoner turned her eyes slowly upon him.
He saw in an instant that she was not looking at
]iim, and was about to commit her for contempt,
when an old friend of the family stepped up, and
explained the peculiarity of the grand and beau-
tiful orbs.

Mr. Whitworth, the .iunior counsel for the
Crown, then rose to open the case ; but the pris-


oner, witli a pale face, Taut most courteoiis fie-
meanor, 'begged Ms leave to ask a previous ques-
tion of the court. Mr. Whitworth bowed, and
sat down.

" My lord," said she, looking the Judge
dreamily in the face, "what think you of the
doctrine of the Immaculate Conception?"

At this the crier shouted, " O yez ! yez !
yez !" and the trial went on.

But I wiU not weary the reader with a detail
of the tedious process of an English court of law.

Various witnesses gave their testimony, and
Mrs. Lank subjected each to a severe cross-ex-
amination upon the dogmas of the Church.

At the conclusion of the case for the prosecu-
tion, the prisoner stated that she should only call
one witness for the defense.

" Mercy Vintner !" cried she.

And Mercy Vintner, who had been consulting
the spirits in a side-room, stepped forward.

" State to the court what you know about the
case," said Mrs. Lank.

" Nothing, an please your lordship," said
Mercy, with a courtesy, "but that Liffith Lank
an't dead yet."

" But twenty witnesses declare that he is," re-
marked the Judge. " The balance of evidence is
against you." And despite an appealing look
from the dove-eyed angel, he was about to put on
his black cap and pass sentence, for it was already

44 LIFVirn LANK.

past Ms dinner hour. But Mercy quietly took a
note from her reticule and handed it to him.

The note was from Liffith, and was addressed
to the Judge. It briefly stated that he was alive ;
but that he did not like to present himself for a
family reason — or rather for a two-family reason.
He had read about jails in a work by a popular
author, entitled "Never Too Late to End," and
did not wish to make close acquaintance with the
punishment-jacket, and cranks, cold douches, and
visiting justices. He concluded, by asking the
Judge to dine with him when he happened to
drop down his way ; paid a score of compliments
to both his wives, and threatened to whip any
body who hanged either of them.

The court was at once dismissed, and Mrs.
Lank apologized to a jury of her countrymen
for the trouble she had given them. She entered
no legal proceedings against her husband, fearful
that, even if found guilty, the jury would recom-
mend him to Mercy.



CHANGE came over Mrs. Lank from that
day forward. She had learned that the
law will not allow even a woman to
threaten to collar any body with impunity.

In the mean time, Liffith Lank, Esq, who had
succeeded to an immense and independent for-
tune in his own right, reappeared in public. It
was said that he had compromised matters with
the Vintners, but whether he had or not, no suit
at law was brought against him, and he set about
building a fine house, with large grounds and con-
servatories, but no meres and fish-ponds about the

Mrs. Lank heard of the new place, and riding
past there one day, thought how much finer it
was than Hemshaw Castle.

One day she received a note in a well-known
hand of write. She had been expecting some-
thing of the kind, and it caused her no surprise.
It contained but these words :

" Madam : I do not ask you to forgive me. But I have built
a fine new house of Milwaukee brick, furnished with all the mod-
era improvements — gas, water, bells, and speaking-tubes, and only
five minutes' walk &om the depot. I have also abandoned all idea


of going into the hotel business in another county. Tour apart,
ments are ready for you.

" With renewed assurances of my most distingiaished considera-
tion, I remain, your husband, Liffith Lank."

The messenger awaited a reply.

"I will consult my child," said Mrs. Lank.
And calling to her little girl, cetat^ eighteen
months, who was playing in the parlor, she
asked would it have some sugar-plums?

'"Es," lisped little Rose.

"As you please," said Mrs. Lank, and sat
down and wrote as follows :

" Sm : I have consulted my cMld, and we both agree to submit
to your judgment. Please send a carriage.

" Yours respectfully, Kateinb Lastk.

" P. S. I have no objection to going a short distance into the

The thing was done.

In the mean while. Providence having kindly
killed off the offspring of her affair with LifBth—
the little fellow clearly had no right to stand in
the way of his mother's making a good match —
George Neverill had married the dove-eyed angel.
The two families exchanged cards, but did not
visit each other.

So my task is ended.

I have aimed to show that bigamy is against
the law, and hope I have succeeded.

In the present case it happens, unfortunately,



that the only one who felt the terrors of the law,
and came near suffering its penalties, was the in-
jured wife. And the only persons who were
called upon to suffer at all were the three reaUy
innocent ones, George Neverill, the dove-eyed
angel, and the little boy — the first having been
jilted, the second most cruelly deceived and in-
jured, and the last carried off by the scarlet fever
to make room for a father-in-law. As for Liffith,
he had the satisfaction of living with the two
prettiest women in England, and escaping with-
out even a suit for damages. Under the circum-

Showing what a man can achieve by honest industry.

stances, an action for breach of promise could
scarcely have been made to lie. On the whole,


our hero can not be lield np as an example to
young men. But these are the facts, and I sim-
ply teU them. Qv^ voulez vous ? Is not virtue
its own reward ?



ffinnciforin ffigclopcbist of ffi^attan000a.

BY O. H. ^V-EBB.

Author of "Zifflth Zank."



'* LiTBS there, 'Evans ! beneath thy dread expanse.
One blind Idolater of Fumbling Chance ? "

Old Condudbcm.


It will perhaps be complained that in this book the author
" aims at nothing." If so, let me reply, in his behalf, that if he
hits it he will be perfectly satisfied.

Originally, I intended to address myself only to the half-edu-
cated idiots of the land who are unfamiliar with the Coptic and
do not take dictionaries with them into the country by way of
light summer reading. But if the learned are attracted to my
net, so much the better — all is fish. In the outset I own to an
endeavor to catch a spark of St. Elmo's fire — there's nothing
mean about me. As old Thomas Fuller quaintly puts it, " Let my
candle go out in a stink wh«n I refuse to confess from whom I
have lighted it." If it be further urged that, not content with a
spark, I have in some instances raked the entire hearth, I fear I
must still plead guilty to the charge. For where it was impos-
sible to pile on the agony and erudition, I took whole pages, as

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Online LibraryJohn PaulParodies : prose and verse. Liffith Lank--Griffith Gaunt. St. Twel'mo--St. Elmo. A wicked woman. Poems. → online text (page 2 of 9)