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They were now fairly on the road.
“ What a smell of garlick !” exclaimed Uncle John; " it is intolerable!”
" Dear me!” said Mr. Richards, “ do you perceive it? 'Tis a fine Italian sausage I bought at Morel's, as my contribution. We shall find it an excellent relish in the country;" and he exhibited his purchase, enveloped in a brown paper.
" Pha! shocking! 'tis a perfect nuisance! Put it into your pocket again, or throw it out at window.” But Mr. Richards preferred obeying the first command.
“ Apropos of contributions, Uncle, have you brought your spoons ?”
“ Here they are," replied Uncle; at the same time drawing from his pocket a parcel in size and form very closely resembling Mr. Richards's offensive contribution.
On arriving at Westminster Bridge, they found the rest of the party already seated in the barge, and the first sound that saluted their ears was an intimation that, owing to their being two hours behind time (it was now past twelve), they should hardly save the tide. “I knew it would be so," said Bagshaw, with more of discontent than he had thought to experience, considering the pains he had taken that every thing should be well-ordered.
As Uncle John was stepping into the boat, Richards, with great dexterity, exchanged parcels with him, putting the Italian sausage into Uncle John's pocket and the spoons into his own; enhancing the wit of the manoeuvre by whispering to the Bagshaws, who, with infinite delight, had observed it, “ Hang me but he shall have enough of the garlick !" The old gentleman was quite unconscious of the operation, as Richards adroitly diverted has attention from it by giving him one of his facetious pokes in the ribs, which nearly bent him double, and drew a roar of laughter from every one else.
Just as they were pushing off, their attention was attracted by a loud bowling. It proceeded from a large Newfoundland dog, which was standing at the water's edge. “Confound it !” cried Richards, “ that's my Carlo! He has followed me, unperceived, all the way from home - I would not lose him for fifty pounds. I must take him back-pray put me ashore. This is very provoking—though he is a very quiet dog!" There was no mistaking this hint. Already were there two nuisances on board-Master Charles and the Dutch pug; but as they were to choose between Jack Richards with his dog, or no Jack Richards, (or, in other words, no life and soul of the party,') it was presently decided that Carlo should be invited to a seat on the hampers, which were stowed at the head of the boat-Uncle John having first extracted from Mr. Richards an assurance that their new guest would lie there as still as a mouse. This complaisance was amply rewarded by a speedy display of Mr. Richards's powers of entertainment. As soon as they reached the middle of the river, Jack Richards suddenly jumped up, for the purpose of frightening Miss Snubbleston ; a jest at which every body else would have laughed, had not their own lives been endangered by it. Even his great admirer suggested to him that once of that was enough. His next joke was one of a more intellectual character. Though he had never till this day seen Sir Thomas, he had heard some. thing about his former trade. « What is the difference between Lord
Eldon and Sir Thomas Grouts ?” Nobody could tell. “One is an exchancellor the other is an ex-chandler." Every body laughed, except the Grouts family. This was succeeded by another thrust in Uncle John's side; after which came a pun, which we shall not record, as the effect of it was to force the ladies to cough and look into the water, the gentlemen to look at each other, and Mrs. Snodgrass to whisper Mrs. Bagshaw, “Who is this Mr. Richards ?” Indeed, there would have been no end to his pleasantries had they not been interrupted by a request that Miss Corinna would open the concert, as they were fast approaching Vauxhall Bridge. Mr. Bagshaw (looking at the programme, which he had drawn out on paper ruled with red and blue lines,) objected to this, as it would disturb the previous arrangement, according to which the concert was not to commence till they were through the bridge. This objection was overruled, and the fair Corinna unrolled the music for which the servant had been despatched with so much haste. Miss Corinna screamed!“ What was the matter ?" 66 They had not sent the grand scena from ‘Medea,' after all, but a wrong piece! And the pains she had taken to be perfect in it!"“ Could not Miss Corinna sing it from memory?"-" Impossible!”— “How careless of you, Corinna! then sing what they have sent.”—“Why, Ma',” said Corinna, with tears in her eyes, and holding up the unfortunate sheets, “why, bless me, Ma', I can't sing the overture to · Der Freyschutz!” The difficulty of such a performance being readily admitted, Mr. Frederick Snodgrass declared himself “but too happy” to comply with the call for his concerto in five sharps, which stood next on the list; and with the air of one well satisfied that an abundance of admiration and applause would reward his efforts, he drew forth bis flute, when, lo! one of the joints was missing! This accident was nearly fatal to the musical entertainments of the day; for not only was the concerto thereby rendered impracticable, but “Sweet Bird,” with the flute-accompaniment obligato, was put hors de combat. Disappointment having, by this, been carried to its uttermost bounds, the announcement that two strings of the guitar had “ gone,” was received with an indifference almost stoical ; and every one was grateful to Miss Euphemia for so willingly undertaking (the whispered menaces of Lady Grouts being heard by nobody but the young lady herself,) to do all that could be done under such untoward circumstances. She would endeavour to accompany herself through a little ballad ; and thus it proceeded :-
O leave me (twang) to my sorrow, (twang twang). “ Dear me!"
- For my soul (twang) “ Div'l take it !"
—is heavy (twang) to-day ; (twang (wang) “ I told you, Mama, I couldn't.”
-0 leave me (twang) “ There's another string gone!"
and to-morrow (twang) “ You see it is nothing without an accompaniment."
These dark clouds (twang) . “ You really must excuse me;" and away went the guitar.
Mr. Claudius Bagshaw, with all his literature, science, and philosophy, now, for the first time, wondered how any thing could fail, so much trouble having been taken to ensure success. Drawing forth his repeater, he a-hem'd! and just muttered, “Unaccountable! Hem ! upon my word! One o'clock, and no pleasure yet!”
“One o'clock !" echoed his spouse; “ then 'tis time for your eye, dear !" and Bagshaw was compelled not only to suffer his damaged optics to be dabbled by his tormentingly-affectionate wife, but to submit again to be hoodwinked, in spite of his entreaties to the contrary, and his pathetic assurances that he had not yet seen a bit of the prospect; a thing he had set his heart upon. Now occurred a dead silence of some minutes. A steam-boat rushed by. Bagshaw seized this opportunity to make a display of his scientific acquirements; and this he did with the greater avidity, as he had long wished to astonish Vicepresident Snodgrass. Besides, in the event of his offering to deliver a course of lectures at the Institution, the Vice-president might bear evidece to his capabilities for the purpose—his acquaintance not only with the facts, but with the terms of science. Whether those terms were always correctly applied, we confess ourselves not sufficiently learned to pronounce.
"How wondrous is the science of mechanism ! how variegated its progeny, how simple, yet how compound! I am propelled to the consideration of this subject by having optically perceived that ingenious nautical instrument, which has just now flown along like a mammoth, that monster of the deep! You ask me how are steam-boats propagated ? in other words, how is such an infinite and immovable body inveigled along its course? I will explain it to you. It is by the power of friction : that is to say, the two wheels, or paddles, turning diametrically, or at the same moment, on their axioms, and repressing by the rotundity of their motion the action of the menstruum in which the machine fioats, water being, in a philosophical sense, a powerful nonconductor,-- it is clear, that in proportion as is the revulsion so is the progression; and as is the centrifugal force, so is the-."
“ Pooh!” cried Uncle John,“ let us have some music.”
“I have an 'apprehension, Bagshaw,” said the Vice-president-“ though I should not presume to dispute with you --that you are wrong in your theory of the centrifugal force of the axioms. However, we will discuss that point at the Grand-Junction. But come, Frederick, the · Dettingen Te Deum.'"
Frederick and the young ladies having, by many rehearsals, perfected themselves in the performance of this piece, instantly complied. Scarcely had they reached the fourth bar, when Jack Richards, who had not for a long time perpetrated a joke, produced a harsh, brassy-toned, German Eolina, and
“ Blew a blast so loud and shrill,' that the Dutch pug began to bark, Carlo to howl, and the other nuisance, master Charles, to cry. The German Eolina was of itself bad enough, but these congregated noises were intolerable. Uncle John aimed a desperate blow with a large apple, which he was just about to bite, at the head of Carlo, who, in order to give his lungs fair play, was standing on all fours on the bampers. The apple missed the dog, and went some distance beyond him into the water. Mr. Carlo, attributing to Uncle John a kinder feeling than that which actually prompted the proceeding, looked upon it as a good-natured expedient to afford bim an opportunity of adding his mite to the amusements of the day, by displaying a specimen of his training. Without waiting for a second hint, he plunged into the river, seized the apple, and, paddling up to the side of the boat with the prize triumphantly exhibited in his jaws, to the consternation of the wbole party, he scrambled in between Uncle John and his master, dropped the apple upon the floor, distributed a copious supply of Thames' water amongst the affrighted beholders, squeezed his way through them as best he could, and, with an air of infinite self-satisfaction, resumed his place on the hampers.
Had Mr. Jack Richards, the owner of the dog, been at the bottom of the Thames a week before this delightful 24th, not one of the party, Mr. Richards himself excepted, would have felt in the slightest degree concerned; but since, with a common regard to politeness, they could not explicitly tell him so, they contented themselves with bestowing upon Mr. Carlo every term of opprobrium, every form of execration, which good-manners would allow-leaving it to the sagacity of “ the life and soul of the company" to apply them to himself, if so it might be agreeable to him. Poor fellow ! he felt the awkwardness of his situation, and figuratively, as well as literally speaking, this exploit of his dog threw a damp upon him, as it had done upon every one else.
For some time, the Pic-nics pursued their way in solemn silence. At length, Bagshaw, perceiving that there would be very little pleasure if matters were allowed to go on in this way, exclaimed, “ An intelligent observer, not imbued with the knowledge of our intentions, would indicate us to be a combination of perturbed spirits, rowed by Charon across the river Tiber.”
In cases of this kind, the essential is to break the ice. Conversation was now resumed. “Ah! ha!” said the Vice-president, “ Sion House."
" The residuum of the Northumberlands,” said Claudius,“ one of : the most genealogical and antique families in England.” And here,
having put forth so much classical and historical lore, almost in a breath, he marked his own satisfaction by a short, single cough. The Vicepresident said nothing, but he thought to himself, “ There is much more in this Bagshaw than I suspected.” * Jack Richards was up again. “Come, what's done can't be helped ; but, upon my soul! I am sorry at being the innocent cause of throwing cold water on the party.”..
" Cold water, indeed! look at me, Sir,” said Miss Snubbleston, with tears in her eyes, and exhibiting her ci-deront shoulder-of-mutton sleeves, which, but half an hour before, as stiff and stately as starch could make them, were now hanging loose and flabby about her skinny arms,
“ Too bad, Jack, to bring that cursed Carlo of yours !" Carlo, perceiving that he was the subject of conversation, was instantly on his legs, his eye steadily fixed upon Uncle John, evidently expecting a signal for a second plunge. The alarm was general, and every tongue joined in the scream of “ Lie down, sir! lie down !"
Uncle John, whose nostrils had been more than once offended by the odour from his friend's garlick sausage, and who had on each and every such'occasion vented an exclamation of disgust, to the great amusement of Mr. Richards, (who chuckled with delight to think of the exchange he had secretly effected,) here, in the very middle of the stream, resolved to rid himself of the annoyance. Unperceived by any one, he gently drew the parcel from Richards's coat-pocket, and let it drop into the water! Like King Richard's pierced coffin, once in, it soon found the way to the bottom. Uncle John could scarcely restrain his inclination to laugh aloud ; however, he contrived to assume an air of indifference, and whistled part of a tune.
Arrived at Twickenham, the boatmen were ordered to pull up to a beautiful meadow, sloping down to the water's edge. 'Twas the very thing for them! In an instant they were all ashore; and the hampers were placed near a large tree, beneath whose spreading boughs they resolved to take their rural meal. The invention of eating and drinking is one of which much may be said both pro and con ; that it is excessively vulgar we at once admit; but there is this in its favour, that the near prospect of a good dinner does much towards the restoration of suspended harmory; and savage must be his heart, his very nature uncharitable and unforgiving, who feels no touch of kindness for, or sympathy with, his fellow-creatures at the sound of the dinner-bell. The beneficial effect of the approaching repast was evident now. They shook hands with each other; spoke with some degree of composure of the failure of the concert; alluded to their wetting as a mere trifle; caressed Carlo; refrained from throwing the yelping, barking, Dutch pug into the Thames; and some of them even patted the scrubby white head of Master Charles. “Well,” said Bagshaw, “I knew our pains and trouble would be rewarded ; we shall have a pleasant day after all."
They were just preparing to open their packages when a servant came running towards them. “ Beg pardon, gentlemen ; don't you see that post ?” and he directed their attention to a sign-board bearing the hospitable notice that any person, or persons, landing to dine in those meadows, would be prosecuted.
“ But,” said Bagshaw, “ what damage or deterioration of property can we possibly inflict?"_" Don't know, Sir; but Sir Gregory Grumpy does not like his grass to be greased all over with hain and chicken.” Remonstrance was in vain ; so they re-embarked their “ provender” and themselves, and pulled farther up the river. Bag. shaw looked at his repeater, and shook his head.
The next place at which they attempted a landing was equally prohibited, though the prohibition appeared in the more polite form of an invitation : “You are requested not to dine here.” Now, with respect to these prohibitions, as about eating and drinking, something may be said on both sides. Neither Mr. Bagshaw, nor any of his party, (with the exception, perhaps, of Jack Richards,) would have pulled up the grass, or mutilated the trees, or broken down the hedges, or poked their noses in at Sir Gregory Grumpy's dining-room windows; but we know that certain persons have committed such indiscretions : and that is the best excuse we can imagine for what would otherwise appear to be a churlish proceeding.
At last, however, they discovered an undefended spot, and of this they took possession. There was no time to lose they had had no pleasure yet-so Bagshaw entreated that every one would " put his shoulder to the wheel, and be on the qui va là.” In an instant a large heavy bamper was landed, but, as in compliance with Bigshaw's