« ZurückWeiter »
piled with good things ; at many fountains • MULLED CLARET " is written up in appetizing capitals. “Mulled Claret - oh, jolly! How cold it is !” says Bob; I pass on. * It's only three o'clock,” says Bob. · No, only three,” I say, meekly. * We dine at seven,” sighs Bob, “and it's so-0-0 coo-old." I still would take no hints. No claret, no refreshment, no sandwiches, no sausage-rolls for Bob. At last I am obliged to tell him all. Just before we left home, a little Christmas bill popped in at the door and emptied my purse at the threshold. I forgot all about the transaction, and had to borrow half a crown from John Coachman to pay for our entrance into the palace of delight. Now you see, Bob, why I could not treat you on that second of January when we drove to the palace together; when the girls and boys were sliding on the ponds at Dulwich ; when the darkling river was full of floating ice, and the sun was like a warming-pan in the leaden sky.
One more Christmas sight we had, of course ; and that sight I think I like as well as Bob himself at Christmas, and at all seasons. We went to a certain garden of delight, where, whatever your cares are, I think you can manage to forget some of them, and muse, and be not unhappy ; to a garden beginning with a Z, which is as lively as Noah's ark; where the fox has brought his brush, and the cock has brought his comb, and the elephant has brought his trunk, and the kangaroo has brought his bag, and the condor his old wliite wig and black satin hood. On this day it was so cold that the white bears winked their pink eyes, as they plapped up and down by their pool, and seemed to say, Aha, this weather reminds us of our dear home!” " Cold ! bah! I have got such a warm coat,” says brother Bruin, “ I don't mind :” and he laughs on his pole, and clucks down a bun. The squealing hyænas gnashed their teeth and laughed at us quite refreshingly at their window; and, cold as it was, Tiger, Tiger, burning bright, glared at us red-hot through his bars, and snorted blasts of hell. The woolly camel leered at iis quite kindly as he paced round his ring on his silent pads. We went to our favorite places. Our dear wambat came up, and had himself scratched very affably. Our fellow-creatures in the monkey-room held out their little black hands, and piteously asked us for Christmas alms. Those darling alligators on their rock winked at us in the most friendly way. The solemn eagles sat alone, and scowled at us from their peaks ; whilst little Tom Ratel tunibled over head and heels for us in his usual diverting manner. If I have cares in my inind, I come to the Zoo, and fancy they don't pass the gate. I recognize my friends, my
enemies, in countless cages. I entertained the eagle, the vulture, the old billy-goat, and the black-pated, crimson-necked, blear-eyed, baggy, hook-beaked old marabou stork yesterday at dinner; and when Bob's aunt came to tea in the evening, and asked him what he had seen, he stepped up to her gravely, and said
“First I saw the white bear, then I saw the black,
Then I saw the camel with a hump upon his back.
Then I saw the camel with a Hump upon his back!
they — smelt!”
There. No one can beat that piece of wit, can he, Bob? And so it is all over; but we had a jolly time, whilst you we with us, hadn't we? Present my respects to the doctor; and I hope, my boy, we may spend another merry Christmas next year.
ON A CHALK-MARK ON THE DOOR.
On the doorpost of the house of a friend of mine, a few inches above the lock, is a little chalk-mark which some sport- ive boy in passing has probably scratched on the pillar. The door-steps, the lock, handle, and so forth, are kept decently enough ; but this chalk-mark, I suppose some three inches out of the housemaid's beat, has already been on the door for more than a fortnight, and I wonder whether it will be there whilst this paper is being written, whilst it is at the printer's, and, in fine, until the month passes over? I wonder whether the servants in that house will read these remarks about the chalkmark? That the Cornhill Magazine is taken in in that house I know. In fact I have seen it there. In fact I have read it there. In fact I have written it there. In a word, the house to which I allude is mine — the “ editor's private residence,” to which, in spite of prayers, entreaties, commands, and threats, authors, and ladies especially, will send their communications, although they won't understand that they injure their own interests by so doing; for how is a man who has his
own work to do, his own exquisite inventions to form and perfect — Maria to rescue from the unprincipled Earl the atrocious General to confound in his own machinations gelic Dean to promote to a bishopric, and so forth — how is a man to do all this, under a hundred interruptions, and keep bis nerves and temper in that just and equable state in which they ought to be when he comes to assume the critical office: As you will send here, ladies, I must tell you you have a much worse chance than if you forward your valuable articles to Cornhill. Here your papers arrive, at dinner-time, we will say. Do you suppose that is a pleasant period, and that we are to criticise you between the ovum and malum, between the soup and the dessert? I have touched, I think, on this subject before. I say again, if you want real justice shown you, don't send your papers to the private residence. At home, for instance, yesterday, having given strict orders that I was to receive nobody, except on business," do you suppose a smiling young Scottish gentleman, who forced himself into my study, and there announced himself as agent of a Cattle-food Company, was received with pleasure? There, as I sat in my arm-chair, suppose he had proposed to draw a couple of my teeth, would I have been pleased ? I could have throttled that agent. I dare say the whole of that day's work will be found tinged with a ferocious misanthropy, occasioned by my clever young friend's intrusion. Cattle-food, indeed ! As if beans, oats, warm mashes, and a ball, are to be pushed down a man's throat just as he is meditating on the great social problem, or (for I think it was my epic I was going to touch up) just as he was about to soar to the height of the empyrean!
Having got my cattle-agent out of the door, I resume my consideration of that little mark on the doorpost, which is scored up as the text of the present little sermon; and which I hope will relate, not to chalk, nor to any of its special uses or abuses (such as milk, neck-powder, and the like), but to servants. Surely ours might remove that unseemly little mark. Suppose it were on my coat, might I not request its removal ? I remember, when I was at school, a little careless boy, upon whose forehead an ink-mark remained, and was perfectly recognizable for three weeks after its first appearance. May I take any notice of this chalk-stain on the forehead of my house? Whose business is it to wash that forehead and ought I to fetch a brush and a little hot water, and wash it off myself?
Yes. But that spot removed, why not come down at six, and wash the doorsteps? I dare say the early rising and exercise would do me a great deal of good. The housemaid, in that case, might lie in bed a little later, and have her tea and the morning paper brought to her in bed : then, of course, Thomas would expect to be helped about the boots and knives; cook about the saucepans, dishes, and what not; the lady'smaid would want somebody to take the curl-papers out of her hair, and get her bath ready. You should have a set of servants for the servants, and these under servants should have slaves to wait on them. The king commands the first lord in waiting to desire the second lord to intimate to the gentleman usher to request the page of the ante-chamber to entreat the groom of the stairs to implore John to ask the captain of the buttons to desire the maid of the still-room to beg the housekeeper to give out a few more lumps of sugar, as his Majesty has none for his coffee, which probably is getting cold during the negotiation. In our little Brentfords we are all kings, more or less. There are orders, gradations, bierarchies, everywhere. In your house and mine there are mysteries unknown to lis. I am not going in to the horrid old question of followers." I don't mean cousins from the country, love-stricken policemen, or gentlemen in mufti from Knightsbridge Barracks; but people who have an occult right on the premises; the uncovenanted servants of the house ; gray women who are seen at evening with baskets flitting about area-railings; dingy shawls which drop you furtive curtsies in your neighborhood ; demure little Jacks, who start up from behind boxes in the pantry. Those outsiders wear Thomas's crest and livery, and call him “ Sir;” those silent women address the female servants as “Mum,” and curtsy before them, squaring their arms over their wretched lean aprons. Then, again, those servi servorum have dependants in the vast, silent, poverty-stricken world outside your comfortable kitchen fire, in the world of darkness, and hunger, and miserable cold, and dank, flagged cellars, and huddled-straw, and rags, in which pale children are swarming. It may be your beer (which runs with great volubility) has a pipe or two which communicates with those dark caverns where hopeless anguish pours the groan, and would scarce see light but for a scrap or two of candle which has been whipped away from your worship’s kitchen. Not many years ago — I don't know whether before or since that white mark was drawn on the door --- a lady occupied the confidential place of bousemaid in this “ private resi
dence,” who brought a good character, who seemed to have a cheerful temper, whom I used to hear clattering and bumping overhead or on the stairs long before daylight there, I say, was poor Camilla, scouring the plain, trundling and brushing, and clattering with her pans and brooms, and humming at her work. Well, she had established a smuggling communication of beer over the area frontier. This neat-banded Phyllis used to pack up the nicest baskets of my provender, and convey them to somebody outside — I believe, on my conscience, to some poor friend in distress. Camilla was consigned to her doom. She was sent back to her friends in the country; and when she was gone we heard of many of her faults. She expressed herself, when displeased, in language that I shall not repeat. As for the beer and meat, there was no mistake about them. But après ? Can I have the heart to be very angry with that poor jade for helping another poorer jade out of my larder? On your honor and conscience, when you were a boy, and the apples looked temptingly over Farmer Quarringdon's hedge, did you never — ? When there was a grand dinner at home, and you were sliding, with Master Bacon, up and down the stairs, and the dishes came out, did you ever do such a thing as just to—? Well, in many and many a respect servants are like children. They are under domination. They are subject to reproof, to ill temper, to petty exactions and stupid tyrannies not seldom. They scheme, conspire, fawn, and are hypocrites. “Little boys should not loll on chairs." “ Little girls should be seen, and not heard ;” and 80 forth.\ Have we not almost all learnt these expressions of old foozles : and uttered them ourselves when in the squaretoed state? The Eton master, who was breaking a lance with our Paterfamilias of late, turned on Paterfamilias, saying, Ile knows not the nature and exquisite candor of well-bred English boys. Exquisite fiddlestick's end, Mr. Master! Do you mean for to go for to tell us that the relations between young gentlemen and their schoolmasters are entirely frank and cordial; that the lad is familiar with the man who can have him flogged; never shirks his exercise ; never gets other boys to do bis verses ; never does other boys' verses ; never breaks bounds ; never tells fibs · I mean the fibs permitted by scholastic honor? Did I know of a boy who pretended to such a character, I would forbid my scapegraces to keep company with him. Did I know a schoolmaster who pretended to believe in the existence of many hundred such boys in one school at one time, I would set that man down as a baby in knowledge