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honour them : à fortiori, drafts at sight, without advice, are the best and surest. But the fact is, Mr. Claudius Bagshaw could have thought nothing at all about the matter, or it must have occurred to him that, as an English Pic-nic never has succeeded, one never could succeed ; at all events, he would not, in defiance of the wisdom and experience of ages,” have commenced preparations on the third of July for a day's pleasure on the twenty-fourth of August !
Mr. Claudius Bagshaw was, formerly, a silk-mercer in one of " those pleasant, still, sequestered lanes” branching northward out of Cheapside. At an early period of his blameless life-(we confess our obligations to a tombstone for this interesting phrase,)-he married the daughter of a neighbouring warehouseman, a lady whose charms were, at the time, extolled by the loving bridegroom in regular climax: she possessed accomplishments, beauty, virtue, and-eighteen hundred pounds. After some years of laudable industry, Mr. Bagshaw found himself master of a tolerable fortune; and, moreover, being blest by not being plagued with any pledges of mutual affection, he very wisely considered that he and his lady might pass the rest of their lives very idly and pleasantly together: so, selling off his silks, satins, and velvets, lease, fixtures, and good-will, and investing the produce of the sale, along with his other movies, in the government securities, he retired into the country to live the life of a private gentleman. The term “ country,” if largely defined, would mean “ a vast open tract of land remote from a populous city;" in a more restricted sense it means, simply, “ out of town.” Mr. Bagshaw, being satisfied with the latter definition, purchased an edifice, ycleped “ Lake of Lausanne Lodge;"> a title, its right to which no one would have presumed to contest, so long as it stood alone in the centre of an extensive brick-field at the back of Euston-square, with a large muddy pond on one side, and Primrose Hill bounding the prospect on the other ; but which seems to be somewhat inappropriate, now that it is built in on all sides by houses considerably higher than itself. However, we protest against holding Mr. Claudius Bagshaw accountable for this : in the present rage for building, the same accident might have occurred to him had he betaken himself to the highest hill in Cumberland.
On the morning of the third of July, the Bagshaws were busy in their several after-breakfast occupations: he reading the Morning Post, (that being the paper he patronized as soon as he became a private gentlem man,) the lady herborizing, botanizing, and ruralizing, in the garden. This garden, it is true, falls somewhat short of the flourishing description given of it in the catalogue of the auctioneer who knocked down the property to its present owner" an extensive garden, well stocked with fruit-trees and flowering shrubs ;" yet it is actually forty-two feet long by eighteen feet wide, and contains two lilacs, one poplar, sundry pots of geraniums, pinks, and mignonette, two apple-trees, one ditto cherry, (which in compliment, no doubt, to their master and mistress, have never taken the liberty to be blest with offspring,) and a peachtree which does annually contribute forty or fifty-little hard knobs, not in the finest state for the table, but admirably adapted to the service of a minor piece of ordnance called a pop-gun. We are thus particular in describing the rural capabilities of this retreat, in order to show that if, except on great and remarkable occasions, the Bagshaws languished not for country more countrified than their own, it was not that they were insensible to the beauties of nature, but because “ Lake of Lausanne Lodge,” with its domain, its lilacs, apple-trees, &c. presented quite as many as any rational being ought to covet.
" How fortunate we shall be, dear,” said Mr. Bagshaw, who having finished the reading of his newspaper, had proceeded to the window to observe his lady's lorticultural pursuits, --how happy we shall be, if the weather should be as fine on our wedding-day as it is to-day.” • " True, love,” replied Mrs. Bagshaw ; " but this is only the third of July, and, as the anniversary of our happy day is the twenty-fourth of August, the weather may change." · This proposition Mr. Bagshaw did not attempt to deny.
The Bagshaws were the happiest couple in the world. Being blest, as we have before said, with the negative blessing of no offspring, the stream of their affections was not diverted into little channels, but ebbed and flowed in one uninterrupted tide reciprocally from bosom to bosom. They never disputed, they never quarrelled. Yes, they did sometimes, but then it was from a mutual over-anxiety to please. Each was afraid to pronounce a choice, or a preference, lest it might be disagreeable to the other; and hence there occasionally did arise little bickerings, and tiffings, and miffings, which were quite as unpleasant in their effects, and, sometimes, as difficult to settle, as quarrels originating in less amiable causes.
“ But,” said Mr. Bagshaw, referring to the barometer, " the instrument for indicating the present state and probable changes of the weather, still maintains its elevation; and I tell you what, dear, if the weather should be preposterous on the twenty-fourth of August, suppose, instead of going into the North, as we did last year, we migrate into Kent or Surrey ?”
Now, lest the reader should imagine that Mr. Claudius Bagshaw alluded to a journey to Northumberland, or contemplated a flight to Canterbury or Godalming, it is proper he should know that Mr. Bagshaw, since his retirement from business, had become a member of one of those March-of-intellect seminaries, which abound in and about London, for the improvement of grown gentlemen whose educations have been neglected :-" The Islington, Gray's-inn-lane, and Newroad Grand-Junction, Literary, Scientific, and Philosophical Institution.” The natural consequence of his association with this learned body was, that he never used a short word when he could press a long one into the service, though in most instances the word so kidnapped might fairly have pleaded the privilege of exemption; nor would he express himself, upon the most simple subject, in his old, intelligible, though not super-elegant, Cheapside phraseology, if he could contrive to find a philosophical term, or to construct a round-about sentence for the purpose ;--in short, to the original fool and ignoramus was superadded the pedant :-so that if he wanted the warming-pan, he would say, “ Bring me the contrivance for raising the temperature of the atmosphere of beds ;' and now, when he talked to Mrs. Bagshaw about the “ North,” and “ Kent," and " Surrey,” he meant nothing in the world more than this : “ Instead of dining at Hampstead, as we did last year, shall we go to Greenwich, or to Putney, and eat little fishes ?"
" Whichever you like, love," was the lady's answer to the so-intended question.
“But I put it to your choice, dear.”
“ Either—or neither-please yourself, love, and you are sure you will please me."
“ Psha! but it is for the gratification of your or, more properly speaking, for your gratification, I submit to you an alternative for the purpose of election; and you know, Jane, I repudiate indifference, even as concerning or applying to trifles.”
“ You know, Claudius, we have but one wish, and that is to please each other ; so do you decide."
" But, Mrs. Bagshaw, I must promulgate a request that-having, as I have, no desire but to please you—you will ".
"How, Sir! would you force me to choose, when I am so obedient as to choose that you should have the choice entirely your own way? This treatment of me is monstrous !” And here Mrs. Bagshaw did what it is usual and proper for ladies to do on such occasions—she burst into tears.
“Why then, Madam, to use a strong expression, I must say that - ” But a loud rap at the street-door prevented the utterance of an “ expression,” the force of which would doubtless have humbled Mrs. Claudius Bagshaw down to the very dust. .
" Claudius,” said the lady, hastily drying her eyes, “ that is Uncle John's knock. We'll go to Gre-Put-Greenwich, love."
“. That's well, dear; and be assured, love, that nothing is so adverse to the constitution of what Locke emphatically calls the human mind, philosophically considered, as to persevere in that state of indecision which-that-whereof- But we will not go to either ; Uncle John shall select the locality.”
Uncle John was a bachelor of fifty-five, possessing twelve thousand pounds, a strong disinclination to part with any of them, a good heart, and a bad temper. His good heart was of no farther use than to prevent his doing any thing positively wicked or mischievous; while his bad temper, together with his twelve thousand pounds, which he intended to leave to-none of his relations knew-rendered him so great a tyrant in his small way, that to all, except those interested in submitting to him, his whims, caprices, and ill-humours were, at times, intolerable. It must, however, be stated in his favour, that such times were chiefly when the weather was bad, or his stomach out of order. Upon this occasion, the sky being clear, and the digestive organs in condition, Uncle John appeared to the best advantage-he could.
“Good morning t'ye, good folks; as usual, I perceive,billing and cooing.”
The Bagshaws had by this time got together in a corner of the garden, and were lovingly occupied in trimming the same pot of sweetpeas.
“Quite the contrary, Uncle John,” said Mrs. Bagshaw. “Claudius and I have just had one of our most desperate quarrels.” And here the happy pair giggled, and exchanged looks, which were meant to imply that their most desperate quarrels were mere kittens' play; and that Uncle John did so interpret them, he made manifest by a knowing shake of his fore-finger.
“ The fact is, Sir, Jane and I talk of commemorating the annual recurrence of the anniversary of our wedding-day, at some place a leetle farther in the country; but our minds are in a perfect vacuum concerning the identity of the spot. Now, Sir, will you reduce the place to a mathematical certainty, and be one of the party ?” • “Why-um-no: these things are expensive; we come home at night with a guinea a-piece less in our pockets, and I don't see the good of that.”
“I have it !" cried Bagshaw; “ we'll make it a pic-nic; that won't be expensive.”
“ Then I'm with you, Bagshaw, with all my heart—and it shall be al fresco."
“ There, or any where else you please, Sir," gravely replied the learned member of the Universal-Knowledge-Warehouse.
“ Uncle John means in the open air, Claudius; that will be delightful."
“ Charming !" rejoined Bagshaw; “ and as one of our most celebrated writers, whose name I do not at this moment remember-in one of his most generally-esteemed works, the title of which I forgetsays,--and with that deep insight into the most secret workings of the human heart, for which he is so very super-eminent,-that a party to be pleasant, should, in its component parts, numerically consist of a number not more restricted than the Muses, nor more exaggerated than the
-the-What I mean is, that we must exercise some caution and research in respect of whom and of how many we invite to join usAy," with a sudden recollection, “ the Muses and the Graces and the Graces." · Pray let it be remembered, in excuse for the meinber of the “ Islington, Gray's-inn-lane, and New-road Grand-Junction, Literary, Scientific, and Philosophical Institution,” that, although forty-nine years in the world, he was not by any means of so long standing in the Belles
“And,” continued the learned member, “ as we have plenty of time before us, let us use it to the best advantage, instantly commence preparations, beat up for recruits, and put our shoulders steadily to the wheel; and if by a judicious distribution and application of labour-the first principle of all social compacts-if, I say, on the twenty-fourth of next August, we do not by that co-operation produce an aggregate of pleasure to be equally shared amongst the members of our little community-without which equal division the bonds of society must-break
-asunder ;-if, in short, we don't make the pleasantest thing of it that ever was, I'm greatly mistaken.”
It may be inquired why Uncle John, who objected to the disbursement of a guinea for a day's pleasure, should so readily bave yielded at the suggestion of a pic-nic. Uncle John possessed a neat little morocco pocket-case, containing a dozen silver spoons, and silver-handled knives and forks; and although we are told that these implements are of later invention than fingers, there is, nevertheless, a very general bias in their favour, for the purposes to which they are applied. Now, Uncle John being aware of the prevalence of their employment, it was for this reason he never objected to make one of a pic-nic party; for whilst others contributed chickens, pigeon-pies, or wines-it being the prin
ciple of such parties that each member should furnish something to the feast-Uncle John invariably contributed the use of his knives, forks, and spoons.
The whole morning was spent in debating on who should be invited to partake of this “ pleasantest thing that ever was,” and examining into their several pretensions, and their powers of contributing to the amusements of the day; when, at length, the honour of nomination was conferred upon the persons following, and for the reasons assigned :
Sir Thomas and Lady Grouts—because of their title, which would give an air to the thing—Sir Thomas, formerly a corn-chandler, having been knighted for carrying up an address in the late reign.)
Miss Euphemia Grouts, daughter No.1,—who would bring her guitar. Miss Corinna Grouts, ditto No. 2,—because she would sing.
Mr. and Mrs. Snodgrass,—Mr. Snodgrass being Vice-president of the Grand Junction March-of-intellect Society.
Mr. Frederick Snodgrass, their son, (lately called to the Chancery bar), who would bring his flute.si · Messrs. Wrench and Son, eminent dentists).—The father to be invited because he was charming company, and the son, a dead bore, because the father would be offended if he were not. And, lastly,
Miss Snubbleston, a rich maiden lady of forty-four,---for no other earthly qualification whatever than her carriage, which (to use Bagshaw's words) “ would carry herself and us three, and also transplant a. large portion of the provender to the place of rendezvous.”
Bagshaw having made out a fair copy of this list, somewhat in the shape of a bill of parcels, this, the first step towards the “ pleasantest thing that ever was," was taken with entire satisfaction.
“Why, Bagshaw," exclaimed Uncle John, who had cast up the numbers, “ including our three selves, we shall be thirteen!"
The member of the Institution perceived the cause of his alarm; but having been lectured out of prejudices respecting matters of greater moment than this, he prepared a look of ineffable contempt as his only reply: however, happening to think of Uncle John's twelve thousand pounds, he suppressed it, and just' contented himself with-" And what then, Sir ?"
“Why, then, Sir, that is a risk I won't run; and unless we can manage to have' it! the very man. How came we to forget him! The-very--man. You know Jack Richards ?” : The last four words were delivered in a tone implying the utter impossibility of any human creature being unacquainted with Jack Richards.'
“ Not in the least, Sir; I never heard of him.” .
" What! never heard of Ja The thing is impossible; every body knows Jack Richards. The very thing for us : such a wit! such a wag! he is the life and soul of every thing. Should he but be unengaged for the twenty-fourth of August! But he is so caught up! I was invited to meet him at dinner last Sunday at Jones's, but he didn't come. Such a disappointment to us! However, I shall meet him on Thursday at the Tims's, if he should but keep his promise, and then "
“ But, uncle," said Mrs. Bradshaw, "hadn't you better send him an invitation at once?" Oct. --VOL. XXVI. NO. CVI.