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my little creatures' heads with fixature, bandoline, crinolinethe deuce knows what.

The bill for silk stockings, sashes, white frocks, is so enormous that I have not been able to pay my own tailor these three years.

The bill for flies to 'Amstid and back, to Hizzlington and take up, &c., is fearful. The drivers, in this extra weather, must be paid extra, and they drink extra. Having to go to Hackney in the snow, on the night of the 5th of January, our man was so hopelessly inebriated, that I was compelled to get out and drive myself; and I am now, on what is called Twelfth Day (with, of course, another child's party before me for the evening), writing this from my bed, sir, with a severe cold, a violent toothache, and a most acute rheumatism.

As I hear the knock of our medical man, whom an anxious wife has called in, I close this letter; asking leave, however, if I survive, to return to this painful subject next week. And, wishing you a merry! New Year, I have the honor to be, dear Mr. Punch,

Your constant reader,

SPEC.

II. CONCEIVE, Sir, that in spite of my warning and entreaty we were invited to no less than three Child's Parties last Tuesday ; to two of which a lady in this house, who shall be nameless, desired that her children should be taken. On Wednesday we had Dr. Lens's microscope ; and on Thursday you were good enough to send me your box for the Haymarket Theatre ; and of course Mrs. S. and the children are extremely obliged to you for the attention. I did not mind the theatre so much. I sat in the back of the box and fell asleep. I wish there was a room with easy-chairs and silence enjoined, whither parents might retire, in the houses where Children's Parties are given. But no- it would be of no use: the fiddling and pianoforte-playing and scuffling and laughing of the children would keep you awake.

I am looking out in the papers for some eligible schools where there shall be no vacations - I can't bear these festivities much longer. I begin to hate children in their evening dresses : when children are attired in those absurd best clothes, what can you expect from them but affectation and airs of fashion? One day last year, sir, having to conduct the two young ladies who then frequented juvenile parties, I found them, upon entering the fly, into which they had preceded me under convoy of their maid

I found them — in what a condition, think you? Why, with the skirts of their stiff muslin frocks actually thrown over their heads, so that they should not crumple in the carriage! A child who cannot go into society but with a muslin frock in this position, I say, had best stay in the nursery in her pinafore. If you are not able to enter the world with your dress in its proper place, I say stay at home. I blushed, sir, to see that Mrs. S. didn't blush when I informed her of this incident, but only laughed in a strange indecorous manner, and said that the girls must keep their dresses neat. — Neatness as much as you please, but I should have thought Neatness would wear her frock in the natural way.

And look at the children when they arrive at their place of destination ; what processes of coquetry they are made to go through! They are first carried into a room where there are pins, combs, looking-glasses, and lady's-maids, who shake the children's ringlets out, spread abroad their great immense sashes and ribbons, and finally send them full sail into the dancing-room. With what a monstrous precocity they ogle their own faces in the looking-glasses ; I have seen my boy's, Gustavus and Adolphus, grin into the glass, and arrange their curls or the ties of their neck-cloths with as much eagerness as any grown-up man could show, who was going to pay a visit to the lady of his heart. With what an abominable complacency they get out their little gloves, and examine their silk stockings! How can they be natural or unaffected when they are so preposterously conceited about their fine clothes? The other day we met one of Gus's schoolfellows, Master Chaffers, at a party, who entered the room with a little gibus hat under his arm, and to be sure made his bow with the aplomb of a dancing-master of sixty ; and my boys, who I suspect envied their comrade the gibus hat, began to giggle and sneer at him; and, further to disconcert him, Gus goes up to him and says, “ Why, Chaffers, you consider yourself a deuced fine fellow, but there's a straw on your trousers.” Why shouldn't there be? And why should that poor little boy be called upon to blush because he came to a party in a hack-cab? I, for my part, ordered the children to walk home on that night, in order to punish them for their pride. It rained. Gus wet and spoiled his shiny boots, Dol got a cold, and my wife scolded me for cruelty.

As to the airs which the wretches give themselves about dancing, I need not enlarge upon them here, for the dangerous artist of the “ Rising Generation” has already taken them in hand. Not that his satire does the children the least good : they don't see anything absurd in courting pretty girls, or in asserting the superiority of their own sex over the female. A few nights since, I saw Master Sultan at a juvenile ball, standing at the door of the dancing-room, egregiously displaying his muslin pocket-handkerchief, and waving it about as if he was in doubt to which of the young beauties he should cast it. “Why don't you dance, Master Sultan?” says I. “My good sir, he answered, “just look round at those girls, and say if I can dance?" Blasé and selfish now, what will that boy be, sir, when his whiskers grow?

And when you think how Mrs. Mainchance seeks out rich partners for her little boys — how my own admirable Eliza has warned her children — "My dears, I would rather you should dance with your Brown cousins than your Jones cousins,” who are a little rough in their manners (the fact being, that our sister Maria Jones lives at Islington, while Fanny Brown is an Upper Baker Street lady); -- when I have heard my dear wife, I say, instruct our boy, on going to a party at the Baronet's, by no means to neglect his cousin Adeliza, but to dance with her as soon as ever he can engage her - what can I say, sir, but that the world of men and boys is the same that society is poisoned at its source - and that our little chubby-cheeked cherubim are instructed to be artful and egotistical, when you would think by their faces they were just fresh from heaven.

Among the very little children, I confess I get a consolation as I watch them, in seeing the artless little girls walking after the boys to whom they incline, and courting them by a hundred innocent little wiles and caresses, putting out their little hands and inviting them to dances, seeking them out to pull crackers with them, and begging them to read the mottoes, and so forth - this is as it should be -- this is natural and kindly. The women, by rights, ought to court the men ; and they would if we but left them alone. *

And, absurd as the games are, I own I like to see some thirty or forty of the creatures on the floor in a ring, playing at petits jeux, of all ages and sexes, from the most insubordinate infanthood of Master Jacky, who will crawl out of the circle, and talks louder than anybody in it, though he can't speak, to blushing Miss Lily, who is just conscious that she is sixteen I own, I say, that I can't look at such a circlet or chaplet of children, as it were, in a hundred different colors, laughing and happy, without a sort of pleasure. How they laugh, how they

* On our friend's manuscript there is written, in a female handwriting, “ Vulgar, immodest. - E. S.”

twine together, how they wave about, as if the wind was passing over the flowers ! Poor little buds, shall you bloom long?

- (I then say to myself, by way of keeping up a proper frame of mind) - shall frosts nip you, or tempests scatter you, drought wither you, or rain beat you down? And oppressed with my feelings, I go below and get some of the weak negus with which Children's Parties are refreshed

At those houses where the magic lantern is practised, I still sometimes get a degree of pleasure, by hearing the voices of the children in the dark, and the absurd remarks which they make as the various scenes are presented - as, in the dissolv. ing views, Cornhill changes into Grand Cairo, as Cupid comes down with a wreath, and pops it on to the head of the Duke of Wellington, as Saint Peter's at Rome suddenly becomes illumi. nated, and fireworks, not the least like real fireworks, begin to go off from Fort St. Angelo - it is certainly not unpleasant to hear the “0-0-0's of the audience, and the little children chattering in the darkness. But I think I used to like the “Pull devil, pull baker,” and the Doctor Syntax of our youth, much better than all your new-fangled dissolving views and pyrotechnic imitations.

As for the conjurer, I am sick of him. There is one conjurer I have met so often during this year and the last, that the man looks quite guilty when the folding doors are opened and he sees my party of children, and myself amongst the seniors in the back rows. He forgets his jokes when he beholds me: his wretched claptraps and waggeries fail him: he trembles, falters, and turns pale.

I on my side too feel reciprocally uneasy. What right have we to be staring that creature out of bis silly countenance? Very likely he has a wife and family dependent for their bread upon his antics. I should be glad to admire them if I could; but how do so? When I see him squeeze an orange or a cannon-ball right away into nothing, as it were, or multiply either into three cannon-balls or oranges, I know the others are in his pocket somewhere. I know that he doesn't put out his eye when he sticks the penknife into it: or that after swallow. ing (as the miserable humbug pretends to do) a pocket-handkerchief, he cannot by any possibility convert it into a quantity of colored wood-shavings. These flimsy articles may amuse children, but not us. I think I shall go and sit down below amongst the servants whilst this wretched man pursues his idiotic delusions before the children.

And the supper, sir, of which our darlings are made to par

take. Have they dined ? I ask. Do they have a supper at home, and why do not they? Because it is unwholesome. If it is unwholesome, why do they have supper at all? I have mentioned the wretched quality of the negus. How they can administer such stuff to children I can't think. Though only last week I heard a little boy, Master Swilby, at Miss Waters's, say that he had drunk nine glasses of it, and eaten I don't know how many tasteless sandwiches and insipid cakes ; after which feats he proposed to fight my youngest son.

As for that Christmas Tree, which we have from the Germans anybody who knows what has happened to them may judge what will befall us from following their absurd customs. Are we to put up pine-trees in our parlors, with wax-candles and bonbons, after the manner of the ancient Druids ? Are we

? . My dear sir, my manuscript must here abruptly terminate. Mrs. S. has just come into my study, and my daughter enters, grinning behind her, with twenty-five little notes, announcing that Master and Miss Spec request the pleasure of Miss Brown, Miss F. Brown, and M. A. Brown's company on the 25th inst. There is to be a conjurer in the back drawing-room, a magic lantern in my study, a Christmas Tree in the dining-room, dancing in the drawing-room — "And, my dear, we

can have whist in our bedroom,” my wife says. know we must be civil to those who have been so kind to our darling children.”

SPEC.

6 You

THE CURATE'S WALK.

I. It was the third out of the four bell-buttons at the door at which my friend the curate pulled ; and the summons was answered after a brief interval.

I must premise that the house before which we stopped was No. 14, Sedan Buildings, leading out of Great Guelph Street, Dettingen Street, Culloden Street, Minden Square ; and Upper and Lower Caroline Row form part of the same quarter very queer and solemn quarter to walk in, I think, and one which always suggests Fielding's novels to me. I can fancy Captain Booth strutting out of the very door at which we were standing, in tarnished lace, with his hat cocked over bis eye,

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