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“I'll do better still, my dear; I'll call at his lodgings, and if I find him hanging loose, I'll bring him to dine with you to-day." Then turning to Bagshaw, he added—“That a man like you shouldn't know Jack Richards is surprising!”
As this was evidently pointed at Mr. Claudius Bagshaw in his capacity of member of a learned body, Bagshaw pursed up his mouth into a mock-modesty smile, and slightly bowed.
Off went Uncle John in quest of Jack Richards; and, that the pleasantest thing in the world might not suffer by delay, off went Mr. Bagshaw to apprise the Snodgrasses, the Groutses, and the rest of the nominees; and more important still!-off went the lady to the poulterer's, to inquire whether he was likely to have any nice pigeons for a pie, about the 23d of next month.
The dinner-hour arrived and so did Uncle John, but with a face of unspeakable woe.
"I feared how it would be.”
“What! can't he be with us on the twenty-fourth ?” inquired both the Bagshaws at the same instant.
"He will if he can, but he won't promise. But to-day-! However, it serves us right: we were unwise to indulge a hope of his coming at so short a notice. He has almost engaged himself to you for Sunday fortnight, though. What a creature it is! he has given me such a pain in the side !"
“Something he said that almost killed you with laughing :-repeat it, uncle, repeat it."
“ Why, no, he didn't say any thing particular ; but he has a knack of poking one in the ribs, in his comical way, and sometimes he hurts
We intended to describe Jack Richards at length; Uncle John's accidental notice of this trait has, most probably, rendered that trouble unnecessary. Indeed, we feel that we need scarcely add to it, that he can sing a “ devilish good song,"—(and every body knows what is meant by that)--and imitate the inimitable Mathews's imitations of the actors, not even excepting his imitation of Tate Wilkinson's imitation of Garrick.
Except the uncertainty about Jack Richards, the result of the morning's occupation was satisfactory. Bagshaw, still retaining his old, business-like habits of activity and industry, had contrived to wait upon every person named in the list, all of whom had promised their attendance ; and Mrs. Bagshaw had received from the poulterer a positive assurance that he would raise heaven and earth to supply her with pigeons on the 23d of the ensuing August!
over a “map of twenty miles round London,” and noting down the names of several of the best-known villages and rural towns; and the two or three days following that, in studying, and re-studying, and taking extracts from all the “ Guides,” and “Descriptions," and “ Brief Histories,” and “ Beauties of " which that learned establishment contained. He was resolved that no pains should be spared, on his part, to contrive a pleasant day. But amidst the profusion of “ lovely spots,” his mind became bewildered. To use Othello's phrase, he was“ perplexed in the extreme ;" to use his own, (in reply to an enquiry of Mrs. Bagshaw's as to what place he had determined upon) he was " like a specimen of the feline tribe introduced into an emporium for the exhibition and sale of the intestines of oxen;"—which, ere he became a member of the Institution with a long name, would have been, simply, “ like a cat in a tripe-shop.” At length he had recourse to the notable expedient of summoning a committee of the whole house, that each one might deliver his or her opinion for or against any place suggested. Uncle John thought that his nephew was making mountains of mole-hills, and that one person had better undertake the whole arrangement; but Bagshaw made no doubt he should be able to prove “both synthetically and antithetically,” (we have already made a sufficient apology for the learned member's occasional blunders,) " that too much pains and labour could not be bestowed upon the arranging of a party of pleasure ; that it was imperious upon them to bring the full force of their intellects to bear upon each individual point; and that-in short-a perfectly delightful day must be the consequence of such omniscient and simultaneous efforts.”
Committees were forthwith summoned. First, a committee to consider of the whereabout. At this, after an evening of polite squabbling, which had nearly put an end to the project altogether, Twickenham Meadows received the honour of selection--nem. con. as Bagshaw said. Next-lest it should happen as it did once happen, for want of such preconcert, that a pic-nic party of ten found themselves at their place of meeting with ten fillets of veal and ten hams-Bagshaw called a committee of "provender.” Here it was settled that the Snodgrasses should contribute four chickens and a tongue; the Bagshaws, their pigeon-pie; Wrench and Son, a ham ; Sir Thomas Grouts, a hamper of his own choice wine; Miss Snubbleston, a basket of fruit and pastry ; Uncle John, his silver spoons, knives and forks ; and Jack Richards,-his charming company. And lastly came the committee for general purposes !! At this important meeting it was agreed that the party proceed to Twickenham by water ; that, to save the trouble of loading and unloading, Miss Snubbleston's carriage convey the hampers, &c. direct to the place appointed—the said carriage, moreover, serving to bring the ladies to town, should the evening prove cold ; that, for the water-music, the following programme be adopted :
1.- On reaching Vauxhall Bridge the concert to commence with · Madame Pasta’s grand scena in " Medea," previous to the murder of the children, by Miss Corinna Grouts.
11.-Nicholson's grand flute-concerto in five sharps, by Mr. Frederic Snodgrass.
III.-Grand aria, with variations, guitar, by Miss Euphemia Grouts.
IV.Sweet Bird ; accompaniment, fute obligato, Miss C. G. and Mr. F.S.-and,
V.-The Dettingen Te Deum, (arranged for three voices, by Mr. F. S.) by Miss Euphemia, Miss Corinna, and Mr. Frederick Snodgrass. (The “interstices," as Mr. Bagshaw called them, to be filled up by the amusing talents of the elder Wrench, and Uncle John's friend.)
And, lastly, that the company do assemble at Mr. Bagshaw's on the morning of the 24th of August, at ten o'clock precisely, in order to have the advantage of the tide both ways.
A short time prior to the eventful day, the weather being remarkably fine, and the Bagshaws having nothing better to do, Mr. Claudius sud
denly proposed to his lady that they should “ go and dine promiscuously at Richmond.” Scarcely had they arrived ere they met the Snodgrasses! and, presently after, the Groutses ! who had also been seduced by the fine weather to take a jaunt out of town at the spur of the moment! Well; they rambled about, up the hill and down the hill, strolled about the meadows, went on the water, dined together at the Castle, talked and laughed and were happy, and returned home, pleased with their trip, each other, and themselves. “ If we have enjoyed so pleasant a day without any preparation for it," said Mr. Claudius Bagshaw, “what a delightful day shall we have on the 24th, after all the pains we have taken to make it so !" Alas! poor Mr. Claudius Bagshaw!
It was now within three days of the important 24th. Mr. Bage shaw, who had been appointed to hire a boat, and make the most economical arrangement he could about the fare, went down to Westminster Bridge. He was instantly surrounded by a dozen of the gentlemen who habitually congregate at that place. “Boat, your honour -all ready, your honour.” Mr. Bagshaw explained. He came “ to engage a boat, barge, or other aquatic vehicle, of sufficient capacity to convey a party of fourteen to Twickenham and back :—what would be the remuneration required ?" A stout, impudent, half-drunken fellow, thrust himself forward, shouting, “ I'm your man for five guineas." Mr. Bagshaw's only reply to this was, “ You are an extortionate scoundrel.” Hereupon, the “jolly young waterman” struck Mr. Bagshaw a violent blow on the right eye. Mr. Bagshaw proceeded to the nearest police-office, and stated his complaint ; in consequence of which a warrant was issued to bring up the offender on the following morning. The following morning Mr. Bagshaw, wearing a green shade, (his right eye much swollen, and the other considerably inflamed,) appeared before the magistrate, and with much literary, scientific, and philosophical circumlocution, repeated his charge; but “poor Jack” declaring that the complainant began by using very ungenteel language to him; and five other Jacks swearing point blank that the complainant struck the first blow! the magistrate was clearly of opinion that complainant was the aggressor ; that the parties had better settle the affair out of doors; still, if the waterman insisted on prosecuting, he, the magistrate, was bound to hold Mr. Bagshaw to bail. The parties retired, and Jack consented to abandon all farther proceedings, “on condition as how the gentleman would give him a fivepound note.” There are few misfortunes under which a wise man will not find some topic of consolation; and Claudius Bagshaw consoled himself with the reflection that a really pleasant day is not attainable but at some little inconvenience.
Restless and impatient though you be, depend upon it there is not a day of the whole three hundred and sixty-five will put itself in the slightest degree out of the way, or appear one second before its appointed time for your gratification. O that people would consider this, and wait events with patience! Certainly Mr. Bagshaw did not. The night of the 23d to him appeared an age. His repeater was in his hand every ten minutes. He thought the morning would never dawn, but he was mistaken: it did ; and as fine a morning as if it had been made on purpose to favour his 'excursion. By six o'clock he was dressed! By eight the contributions from all the members had arrived, and were ranged in the passage. There was their own pigeonpie carefully packed in brown paper and straw ; Sir Thomas's hamper of his own choice wine ; and the rest. Every thing promised fairly. The young ladies and Mr. Frederick had had thirty rehearsals of their grand arias and concertos, and were perfect to a demi-semiquaver; Jack Richards would certainly come; and the only drawback upon Mr. Bagshaw's personal enjoyment—but nothing in this world is perfect!--was the necessity he was under of wearing his green shade, which would totally deprive him of the pleasure of contemplating the beauties of the Thames' scenery; a thing he had set his heart upon. Nine! Ten! “No one here yet! Jane, my love, we shall infallibly lose the tide ;" and for the next quarter of an hour the place of the poor repeater was no sinecure. A knock! Mr. and Mrs. Snodgrass and Mr. Frederick. Another! The whole family of the Groutses. Next came Mr. Charles Wrench.
“ Bless us! Mr. Charles," said Bagshaw, "where is your father ?"
Now Mr. Wrench, senior, was an agreeable old dentist, always gay, generally humorous, sometimes witty : he could sketch characters as well as draw teeth ; and, on occasions of this kind, was invaluable. The son was a mere-donkey: a silly, simpering, well-dressed young gentleman, the owner of not more than the eighth of an idea, and of a very fine set of teeth, which he constantly exhibited like a sign or advertisement of his shop. Appended to every thing he uttered were a preface and postscript, in the form of a sort of billy-goat grin. “He! he! he! he! fayther regrets emezingly he caint come, being called to attind the Duchess of Dilborough. He he he! he!"" As we have already said that it was in pure compliment to the father that the son was invited, and not at all for the sake of his own company, his presence was a grievous aggravation of the disappointment.
The next knock announced Miss Snubbleston. But where was her carriage? Why, it had been newly varnished, and they might scratch her pannels with the hampers; and then she was afraid of her springs. So here was Miss Snubbleston without her carriage, (for the convenience of which alone had she been invited,) considered, by the rest, in exactly the same light as young Mr. Wrench without old Mr. Wrench, -id est, a damper. A new arrangement was the necessary consequence; and the baskets, under the superintendence of a servant, were jolted down in a hackney coach, to be embarked at Westminster. But Miss Snubbleston brought with her a substitute which was by no means a compensation. Cupid, her wretched, little, barking, yelping, Dutch pug, had eaten something that had disagreed with him, and his fair mistress would not, “ for worlds," have left him at home whilst he was so indisposed. Well, no one chose to be the first to object to the intruder, so Cupid was received.
“But where can Uncle John and his friend be? We shall lose the tide, that's certain,” was scarcely uttered by Mr. Bagshaw, when in came our Uncle, together with the long-expected Jack Richards. The usual introductions over, Mr. Richards saluted every body with the self-sufficient swagger of a vulgar lion. “The day smiles auspicious, Sir,” said Bagshaw, who thought it requisite he should throw off something fine to so celebrated a person. "Smile ? a broad grin I call it, Sir.” And here was a general laugh. “Oh, excellent !”-“Capital !" Uncle John, proud of his friend, whispered in Bagshaw's ear, “ You see, Jack's beginning.” And now, hats and gloves were in motion.
“You have got your flute, Frederick ?' “ Yes, mother," was the reply.
“ Lau! Ma',” cried Miss Corinna,“ if I haven't come without Sweet bird,' and my scena from Medea,' I declare.”
As these were indispensable to the amusements of the day, a servant was despatched for them. He couldn't be gone longer than balf an hour.
“Half an hour!” thought Bagshaw; “'tis eleven now; and the tide - " But the servant was absent a few minutes beyond the half hour, and poor Bagshaw suffered severely from that gnawing impatience, amounting almost to pain, which every mother's son of us has experienced upon occasions of greater-or less importance than
They were again at the very point of starting, when a message was brought to Mrs. Suodgrass that little Master Charles had cut his thumb dreadfully! What was to be done? Mrs. Snodgrass vowed she shouldn't be easy in her mind the whole day, unless she knew the extent of the mischief; and as they only lived in Euston-square, and she could be there and back again in twenty minutes, she would herself go see what really was the matter : and away she went. Twenty minutes ! During all this time, Bagshaw—but who would attempt to describe anguish indescribable! At length he was relieved by the return of Mrs. Snodgrass; but, to the horror and consternation of himself, and of all present, she introduced the aforesaid Master Charles,--an ugly, illtempered, blubbering little brat of seven years old, with a bloated red face, scrubby white hair, and red eyes; and with the interesting appendage of a thick slice of bread and butter in his hand. “ I'm sure you'll pardon this liberty,” said the affectionate Mama ; “but poor Charley has cut himself very much, and he would not be pacified till I consented to take him with us. He has promised to be very good. There, don't cry any more, darling!" and, accordingly, the urchin roared with tenfold vigour. There were no particular manifestations of joy at this arrival; and it is just possible, although nothing was uttered to that effect, that there did exist a general and cordial wish that young Master Snodgrass were sprawling at the bottom of the deepest well in England. Uncle John, indeed, did mutter something about " the pug and the child-two such nuisances-people bringing their brats into grownup company!”
At length the procession set out; the Bagshaws, Uncle John, and Jack Richards bringing up the rear in a hackney-coach. On reaching the corner of the street, Mrs. Bagshaw called out to the driver to stop.
“ What is the matter, dear ?" said Bagshaw.
" Claudius, I shall be miserable if you go without it. Dr. Nooth desired you would use it every two hours. I must insist-now, for my sake, love-Such an eye as he has got, Mr. Richards !" So away went Bagshaw to Lake of Lausanne Lodge for the lotion, which, as it always happens wlien folks are in a hurry, it took him a quarter of an hour to find.