« ElőzőTovább »
TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR!
Fortuna, sævo læta negotio, et
HOR. CARM. Lib. iii, 29.
[To the Editor of Blackwood's Magazine.
SIR, If you should be so well satisfied with this, the first part of a short series of papers, as to insert it in your far-famed Magazine, not having been deterred from perusing it by the frank avowal that its writer is utterly "to fortune and to fame unknown," he will gladly transmit you the remainder of the series, as you may desire. If, on the contrary, it should not come up to your mark, your courtesy will, he is sure, induce you to return him the MS., addressed as beneath, to be left at Mr Cadell's in the Strand, where the writer will call for it, after the appearance, without this paper, of your November Number.-Z.
near London, 14th July, 1839.
*** Our correspondent, whose modest note we have taken the liberty of printing above, as we received it, will, we trust, in good time, send us Part II.; and also enable us to communicate with him confidentially.—C. N.]
ABOUT ten o'clock one Sunday morning, in the month of July 183-, the dazzling sunbeams which had for many hours irradiated a little dismal back attic in one of the closest courts adjoining Oxford Street, in London, and stimulated with their intensity the closed eyelids of a young man lying in bed, at length awoke him. He rubbed his eyes for some time, to relieve himself from the irritation he experienced in them; and yawned and stretched his limbs with a heavy sense of weariness, as though his sleep had not refreshed him. He presently cast his eyes on the heap of clothes lying huddled together on the backless chair by the bedside, and where he had hastily flung them about an hour after midnight; at which time he had returned from a great draper's shop in Oxford Street, where he served as a shopman, and where he had nearly dropped asleep after a long day's work, while in the act of putting up the shutters. He could hardly keep his eyes open while he undressed, short as was the time it took him to do so; and on dropping exhausted into bed, there he had continued in deep un
broken slumber, till the moment at which he is presented to the reader. He lay for several minutes, stretching, yawning, and sighing, occasionally casting an irresolute eye towards the tiny fireplace, where lay a modicum of wood and coal, with a tinder-box and a match or two placed upon the hob, so that he could easily light his fire for the purposes of shaving and breakfasting. He stepped at length lazily out of bed, and when he felt his feet, again yawned and stretched himself, then he lit his fire, placed his bit of a kettle on the top of it, and returned to bed, where he lay with his eye fixed on the fire, watching the crackling blaze insinuate itself through the wood and coal. Once, however, it began to fail, so he had to get up and assist it by blowing and bits of paper; and it seemed in so precarious a state that he determined not again to lie down, but sit on the bedside, as he did with his arms folded, ready to resume operations if necessary. this posture he remained for some time, watching his little fire, and listlessly listening to the discordant jangling of innumerable church-bells, clamorously
calling the citizens to their devotions. What passed through his mind was something like the following :
"Heigho!-Oh, Lord!-Dull as ditch water! This is my only holiday, yet I don't seem to enjoy it-the fact is, I feel knocked up with my week's work. Lord, what a life mine is, to be sure! Here am I, in my eightand-twentieth year, and for four long years have been one of the shopmen at Dowlas, Tag-rag, Bobbin and Company's slaving from seven o'clock in the morning till ten at night, and all for a salary of £35 a-year, and my board! And Mr Tag-rag is always telling me how high he's raised my salary! Thirty-five pounds a-year is all I have for lodging, and appearing like a gentleman! Oh, Lord, it can't last; for sometimes I feel getting desperate such strange thoughts! Seven shillings a-week do I pay for this cursed hole-(he uttered these words with a bitter emphasis, accompanied by a disgustful look round the little room)-that one couldn't swing a cat in without touching the four sides!— Last winter, three of our gents. (i. e. his fellow-shopmen) came to tea with me one Sunday night; and bitter cold as it was, we four made this d-d dog hole so hot, we were obliged to open the window! And as for accommodations
cast an eye towards the bit of fractured looking-glass that hung against the wall, and which, by faithfully representing to him a by no means plain set of features (dispite the dismal hue of his hair) whenever he chose to appeal to it, had afforded him more enjoyment than any other object in the world for years. "Ah, Lord! many
I recollect I had to borrow two nasty chairs from the people below, who on the next Sunday borrowed my only decanter, in return, and, hang them, cracked it!-Curse me, if this life is worth having! It's all the very vanity of vanities, and no mistake! Fag, fag, fag, all one's days, and— what for? Thirty-five pounds a-year, and no advance!' Bah, bells! ring away till you're all cracked!-Now do you think I'm going to be mewed up in church on this the only day out of the seven I've got to sweeten myself in, and sniff fresh air? cious joke that would be! Whew! after all, I'd as lieve sit here; for what's the use of my going out? Every body I see out is happy, excepting me, and the poor chaps that are like me! Every body laughs when they see me, and know that I'm only a tallow-faced counter-jumper, for whom its no use to go out!-Oh, Lord! what's the use of being good-looking, as some chaps say I am?"-Here he instinctively passed his left hand through a profusion of sandy-coloured hair, and
and many's the fine gal I've done my best to attract the notice of, while I was serving her in the shop,—that is, when I've seen her get out of a carriage! There has been luck to many a chap like me, in the same line of speculation; look at Tom Tarnish— how did he get Miss Twang, the rich piano-forte maker's daughter ?-and now he's cut the shop, and lives at Hackney like a regular gentleman! Ah! that was a stroke! But some how, it hasn't answered with me yet: the gals don't take! Lord, how I have set my eyes and ogled them-all of them don't seem to dislike the thing—and sometimes they'll smile, in a sort of way that says I'm safe-but 'tis no use, not a bit of it!— My eyes! catch me, by the way, ever nodding again to a lady on the Sunday, that had smiled when I stared at her while serving her in the shop-after what happened to me a month or two ago in the Park! Didn't I feel like damaged goods, just then! But, it's no matter, women are so different at different times!-Verylikely I mismanaged the thing.-By the way, what a precious puppy of a chap the fellow was that came up to her at the time she stepped out of her carriage to walk a bit! As for good looks-cut me to ribbons"-another glance at the glass-"no; I an't afraid there, neither-but,-heigh-ho!—I suppose he was, as they say, born with a golden spoon in his mouth, and had never so many thousand a-year, to make up to him for never so few brains! He was uncommon well dressed though, I must own. What trowsers! - they stuck so natural to him, he might have been born in them. And his waistcoat, and satin stock-what an air! And yet, his figure was nothing very out of the way! His gloves, as white as snow; I've no doubt he wears a pair of them a day-my stars! that's three and sixpence a-day, for don't I know what they cost?-Whew! if I had but the cash to carry on that sort of thing! And when he'd seen her into her carriage-the horse he got
on!-and what a tip-top groom-that chap's wages, I'll answer for it, were equal to my salary!" Here was a long pause. "Now-just for the fun of the thing, only suppose luck was to befal me. Say somebody was to leave me lots of cash,-many thousands ayear, or something in that line! My stars! wouldn't I go it with the best of them!" Another long pause. "Gad, I really should hardly know how to begin to spend it!-I think, by the way, I'd buy a title to set off with-for what won't money buy? The thing's often done; there was a great biscuit baker in the city, the other day, made a baronet of, all for his money—and why shouldn't I?” He grew a little heated with the progress of his reflections, clasping his hands with involuntary energy, as he stretched them out to their fullest extent, to give effect to a very hearty yawn. "Lord, only think how it would sound!
SIR TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE, BARONET.
The very first place I'd go to, after I'd got my title, and was rigged out in Stulze's tip-top, should be-our cursed shop, to buy a dozen or two pair of white kid. What a flutter there would be among the poor pale devils as were standing, just as ever, behind the counters, at Dowlas, Tag rag, and Co.'s, when my carriage drew up, and I stepped into the shop! Tagrag would come and attend to me himself. No, he wouldn't-pride wouldn't let him. I don't know, though: what wouldn't he do to turn a penny, and make two and ninepence into three and a penny. I shouldn't quite come Captain Stiff over him; but I should treat him with a kind of an air, too, as if-hem! how delightful!" A sigh and a pause. "Yes, I should often come to the shop. Gad, it would be half the fun of my fortune! And they would envy me, to be sure! How one should enjoy it! I wouldn't think of marrying till-and yet I wont say either; if I get among some of them out and outers-those first-rate articles-that lady, for instance, the other day in the Park-I should like to see her cut me as she did, with ten thousand a-year in my pocket! Why, she'd be running after me, or there's no truth in novels, which I'm sure there's often a great deal in. Oh, of course, I might marry
whom I pleased. Who couldn't be got with ten thousand a-year?" Another pause. "I should go abroad to Russia directly; for they tell me there's a man lives there who could dye this hair of mine any colour I liked-egad! I'd come home as black as a crow, and hold up my head as high as any of them! While I was about it, I'd have a touch at my eyebrows"--Crash went all his castlebuilding, at the sound of his teakettle, hissing, whizzing, sputtering in the agonies of boiling over; as if the intolerable heat of the fire had driven desperate the poor creature placed upon it, who instinctively tried thus to extinguish the cause of its anguish. Having taken it off and placed it upon the hob, and placed on the fire a tiny fragment of fresh coal, he began to make preparations for shaving, by pouring some of the hot water into an old tea-cup, which was presently to serve for the purposes of breakfast. Then he spread out a bit of crumpled whity-brown paper, that had folded up a couple of cigars which he had bought over-night for the Sunday's special enjoyment—and which, if he supposed they had come from any place beyond the four seas, I imagine him to have been slightly mistaken. He placed this bit of paper on the little mantel-piece ; drew his solitary, well-worn razor several times across the palm of his left hand; dipped his brush, worn within a third of an inch to the stump, into the hot water; presently passed it over so much of his face as he intended to shave; then rubbed on the damp surface a bit of yellow soap-and in less than five minutes Mr Titmouse was a shaved man. But mark-don't suppose that he had performed an extensive operation. One would have thought him anxious to get rid of as much as possible of his abominable sandy-coloured hair- quite the contrary. Every hair of his spreading whiskers was sacred from the touch of steel; and a bushy crop of hair stretched underneath his chin, coming curled out on each side of it, above his stock, like two little horns, or tusks. An imperial-i.c. a dirt-coloured tuft of hair, permitted to grow perpendicularly down the under lip of puppies -and a pair of promising mustachios, poor Mr Titmouse had been compelled to sacrifice some time before, to the tyrannical whimsies of his vulgar em
ployers, Messrs Dowlas and Tag-rag, who imagined them not to be exactly suitable appendages for counter-jump
So that it will be seen that the space shaved over on this occasion was somewhat circumscribed. This operation over, he took out of his trunk an old dirty-looking pomatum pot. A little of its contents, extracted on the tips of his two fore fingers, he stroked carefully into his eye brows; then spreading some on the palms of his hands, he rubbed it vigorously into his stubborn hair and whiskers for some quarter of an hour; and then combed and brushed his hair into half a dozen different dispositions-so fastidious in that matter was Mr Titmouse. Then he dipped the end of a towel into a little water, and twisting it round his right fore-finger, passed it gently over his face, carefully avoiding his eyebrows, and the hair at the top, sides, and bottom of his face, which he then wiped with a dry corner of the towel; and no further did Mr Tittlebat Titmouse think it necessary to carry his ablutions. Had he been able to see himself as others saw him," in respect of those neglected regions which lay somewhere behind and beneath his ears, he might not pos sibly have thought it superfluous to irrigate them with a little soap and water; but, after all, he knew best; it might have given him cold and besides, his hair was very thick and long behind, and might perhaps conceal any thing that was unsightly. Then Mr Titmouse drew from underneath the bed a bottle of Warren's "incomparable blacking," and a couple of brushes, with great labour and skill polishing his boots up to a wonderful point of brilliancy. Having washed his hands, and replaced his blacking implements under the bed, he devoted a few moments to boiling about three tea-spoonfuls of coffee, (as it was styled on the paper from which he took, and in which he had brought it-whereas it was, in fact, chicory.) Then he drew forth from his trunk a calico shirt, with linen wristbands and collars, which had been worn only twice since its last washing-i. e. on the preceding two Sundays-and put it on, taking great care not to rumple a very showy front, containing three little rows of frills; in the middle one of which he stuck three "studs," connected together with two little gilt
chains, looking exceedingly stylish— especially coupled with a span-new satin stock which he next buckled round his neck. Having put on his bright boots, (without, I am sorry to say, any stockings,) he carefully insinuated his legs into a pair of white trowsers, for the first time since their last washing; and what with his short straps and high braces, they were so tight that you would have feared their bursting, if he should have sat down hastily. 1 am almost afraid that I shall hardly be believed, but it is a fact, that the next thing that he did was to attach a pair of spurs to his boots :-but, to be sure, it was not impossible that he might intend to ride during the day. Then he put on a queer kind of under waistcoat, which in fact was only a roll-collar of rather faded pea-green silk, and designed to set off a very fine flowered damson-coloured silk waistcoat; over which he drew a massive mosaic-gold chain, (to purchase which he had sold a serviceable silver watch,) which had been carefully wrapped up in cotton wool; from which soft depository, also, he drew HIS RING, (those must have been sharp eyes that could tell, at a distance, and in a hurry, that it was not diamond,) which he placed on the stumpy little finger of his red and thick right hand -and contemplated its sparkle with exquisite satisfaction. Having proceeded thus far with his toilet, he sat down to his breakfast, spreading the shirt he had taken off upon his lap, to preserve his white trowsers from spot or stain-his thoughts alternating between his late waking vision and his purposes for the day. He had no butter, having used the last on the preceding morning; so he was fain to put up with dry bread-and very dry and teeth-trying it was, poor fellow-but his eye lit on his ring! Having swallowed two cups of his quasicoffee, (eugh! such stuff!) he resumed his toilet, by drawing out of his other trunk his blue surtout, with embossed silk buttons and velvet collar, and an outside pocket in the left breast. Having smoothed down a few creases, he put it on :-then, before him the little vulgar fraction of a glass, he stood twitching about the collar, and sleeves, and front, so as to make them sit well; concluding with a careful elongation of the wrist-bands of his shirt, so as to show their whiteness gracefully beyond
the cuff of his coat-sleeve-and he succeeded in producing a sort of white boundary line between the blue of his coat-sleeve and the red of his hand. At that useful member he could not help looking with a sigh, as he had often done before-for it was not a handsome hand. It was broad and red, and the fingers were thick and stumpy, with very coarse deep wrinkles at every joint. His nails also were flat and shapeless; and he used to be continually gnawing them till he had succeeded in getting them down to the quick-and they were a sight to set a Christian's teeth on edge. Then he extracted from the first-mentioned trunk a white pocket handkerchief-an exemplary one, that had gone through four Sundays' show, (not use, be it understood,) and yet was capable of exhibition again. A pair of sky-coloured kid gloves next made their appearance; which, however, showed such bare-faced marks of former service as rendered indispensable a ten-minutes' rubbing with bread crumbs. His Sunday hat, carefully covered with silver-paper, was next gently removed from its wellworn box-ah, how lightly and delicately did he pass his smoothing hand round its glossy surface! Lastly, he took down a thin black cane, with a gilt head, and full brown tassel, from a peg behind the door-and his toilet was complete. Laying down his cane for a moment, he passed his hands again through his hair, arranging it so as to fall nicely on each side beneath his hat, which he then placed upon his head, with an elegant inclination towards the left side. He was really not bad-looking, in spite of his sandy-coloured hair. His forehead, to be sure, was contracted, and his eyes were of a very light colour, and a trifle too protuberant; but his mouth was rather well-formed, and being seldom closed, exhibited very beautiful teeth; and his nose was of that description which generally passes for a Roman nose. His countenance wore generally a smile, and was expressive of -self-satisfaction; and surely any expression is better than none at all. As for the slightest trace of intellect in it, I should be misleading the reader if I were to say any thing of the sort. He was about five feet five inches in height, and rather strongly set, with a little tendency to round shoulders :-but his
limbs were pliant, and his motions nimble.
Here you have, then, Mr Tittlebat Titmouse to the life-certainly no more than an average sample of his kind; but as he is to go through a considerable variety of situation and circumstance, I thought you would like to have him as distinctly before your mind's eye as it was in my power to present him. Well-he put his hat on, as I have said; buttoned the lowest two buttons of his surtout, and stuck his white pocket handkerchief into the outside pocket in front, as already mentioned, disposing it so as to let a little of it appear above the edge of the pocket, with a sort of careful carelessness-a graceful contrast to the blue; drew on his gloves; took his cane in his hand; drained the last sad remnant in his coffee-cup; and, the sun shining in the full splendour of a July noon, and promising a glorious day, forth sallied this poor fellow, an Oxford Street Adonis, going forth conquering and to conquer ! Petty finery without, a pinched and stinted stomach within; a case of Back versus Belly, (as the lawyers would say,) the plaintiff winning in a canter! Forth sallied, I say, Mr Titmouse, down the narrow, creaking, close staircase, which he had not quitted before he heard exclaimed from an opposite window, "My eyes! an't that aswell!" He felt how true the observation was, and that at that moment he was somewhat out of his element; so he hurried on, and soon reached the great broad street, apostrophized by the celebrated Opium-Eater, with bitter feeling, as-" Oxford Street!--stony-hearted step-mother! Thou that listenest to the sighs of orphans, and drinkest the tears of children." Here, though his spirits were not just then very buoyant, the poor dandy breathed more freely than when he was passing through the nasty crowded court (Closet Court) which he had just quitted. He passed and met hundreds who, like himself, seemed released for a precious day's interval from intense toil and miserable confinement during the week; but there were not many of them who had any pretensions to vie with him in elegance of appear ance-and that was a luxury! Who could do justice to the air with which he strutted along! He felt as happy, poor soul, in his little ostentation, as