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how bravely he lied, poor John! One evening, being at Brigh: ton in the convalescence, I remember John's step was unsteady, his voice thick, his laugh queer-and having some quinine to give me, John brought the glass to me- —not to my mouth, but struck me with it pretty smartly in the eye, which was not the way in which Dr. Elliotson had intended his prescription should be taken. Turning that eye upon him, I ventured to hint that my attendant had been drinking. Drinking! I never was more humiliated at the thought of my own injustice than at John's reply. “Drinking! Sulp me! I have had only one pint of beer with my dinner at one o'clock !—and he retreats, holding on by a chair. These are fibs, you see, appertaining to the situation. John is drunk. Sulp him, he has only had an 'alf-pint of beer with his dinner six hours ago ;” and none of his fellow-servants will say otherwise. Polly is smuggled on board ship. Who tells the lieutenant when he comes his rounds ? Boys are playing cards in the bedroom. The outlying fag announces master coming-out go candles—cards popped into bed-boys sound asleep. Who had that light in the dormitory? Law bless you! the poor dear innocents are every one snoring. Every one snoring, and every snore is a lie told through the nose! Suppose one of your boys or mine is engaged in that awful crime, are we going to break our hearts about it? Come, come. We pull a long face, waggle a grave head, and chuckle within our waistcoat.
Between me and those fellow-creatures of mine who are sitting in the room below, how strange and wonderful is the partition ! We meet at every hour of the daylight, and are indebted to each other for a hundred offices of duty and comfort of life ; and we live together for years, and don't know each other. John's voice to me is quite different from John's voice when it addresses his mates below. If I met Hannah in the street with a bonnet on, I doubt whether I should know her. And all these good people with whom I may live for years and years, have cares, interests, dear friends and relatives, mayhap schemes, passions, longing hopes, tragedies of their own, from which a carpet and a few planks and beams utterly separate
When we were at the seaside, and poor Ellen used to look so pale, and run after the postman's bell, and seize a letter in a great scrawling hand, and read it, and cry in a corner, how should we know that the poor little thing's heart was breaking ? She fetched the water, and she smoothed the ribbons, and she laid out the dresses, and brought the early cup of tea in the morning, just as if she had had no cares to keep her awake. Henry (who lived out of the house) was the servant of a friend of mine who lived in chambers. There was a dinner one day, and Henry waited all through the dinner. The champagne was properly iced, the dinner was excellently served ; every guest was attended to ; the dinner disappeared; the dessert was set; the claret was in perfect order, carefully decanted, and more ready. And then Henry said, " If you please, sir, may
go home?” He had received word that his house was on fire ; and, having seen through his dinner, he wished to go and look after his children, and little sticks of furniture. Why, such a man's livery is a uniform of honor. The crest on his button is a badge of bravery.
Do you see-I imagine I do myself-in these little instances, a tinge of humor ? Ellen's heart is breaking for handsome Jeames of Buckley Square, whose great legs are kneeling, and who has given a lock of his precious powdered head, to some other than Ellen. Henry is preparing the sauce for his master's wild ducks, while the engines are squirting over his own little nest and brood. Lift these figures up but a story from the basement to the ground-floor, and the fun is gone. We may be en pleine tragédie. Ellen may breathe her last sigh in blank verse, calling down blessings upon Jeames the profligate who deserts her. Henry is a hero, and epaulettes are on his shoulders. Atqui sciebat, &c., whatever tortures are in store for him, he will be at his post of duty.
You concede, however, that there is a touch of humor in the two tragedies here mentioned. Why? Is it that the idea of persons at service is somehow ludicrous ? Perhaps it is made more so in this country by the splendid appearance of the liveried domestics of great people. When you think that we dress in black ourselves, and put our fellow-creatures in green, pink, or canary-colored breeches ; that we order them to plaster their hair with flour, having brushed that nonsense out of our own heads fifty years ago ; that some of the most genteel and stately among us cause the men who drive their carriages to put on little Albino wigs, and sit behind great nosegays—I say I suppose it is this heaping of gold lace, gaudy colors, blooming plushes, on honest John Trot, which makes the man absurd in our eyes, who need be nothing but a simple reputable citizen and in-door laborer. Suppose, my dear sir, that you yourself were suddenly desired to put on a full dress, or even undress, domestic uniform with our friend Jones's crest repeated in varied combinations of button on your front and back ? Suppose, madam, your son were told, that he could
not get out except in lower garments of carnation or amber colored plush-would you let him ? * * * But as you justly say, this is not the question, and besides it is a question fraught with danger, sir; and radicalism, sir; and subversion of the very foundations of the social fabric, sir. Well, John, we won't enter on your great domestic question. Don't let us disport with Jeames's dangerous strength, and the edge-tools about his knife-board: but with Betty and Susan who wield the playful mop, and set on the simmering kettle. Surely you have heard Mrs. Toddles talking to Mrs. Doddles about their mutual maids. Miss Susan must have a silk gown, and Miss Betty must wear flowers under her bonnet when she goes to church if you please, and did you ever hear such impudence? The servant in many small establishments is a constant and endless theme of talk. What small wage, sleep, meal, what endless scouring, scolding, tramping on messages fall to that poor Susan's lot; what indignation at the little kindly passing word with the grocer's young man, the pot-boy, the chubby butcher! Where such things will end, my dear Mrs. Toddles, I don't know. What wages they will want next, my dear Mrs. Doddles, &c.
Here, dear ladies, is an advertisement which I cut out of The Times a few days since, expressly for you:
LADY is desirous of obtaining a SITUATION for a very respectable young
woman as HEAD KITCHEN-MAID under a man-cook. She has lived four years under a very good cook and housekeeper. Can make ice, and is an excellent baker, She will only take a place in a very good family, where she can have the opportunity of improving herself, and, if possible, staying for two years. Apply by letter to, &c., &c.
There, Mrs. Toddles, what do you think of that, and did you ever ? Well, no, Mrs. Doddles. Upon my word T., I don't think I ever did. A respectable young woman-as head kitchen-maid-under a man-cook, will only take a place in a very good family, where she can improve, and stay two years. Just note up the conditions, Mrs. Toddles, mum, if you please, mum, and then let us see :
1. This young woman is to be head kitcnen-maid, that is to
say, there is to be a chorus of kitchen-maids, of which Y. W. is to be chief.
2. She will only be situated under a man-cook. (A) Ought
he to be a French cook; and (B), if so, would the lady desire him to be a Protestant?
3. She will only take a place in a very good family. How old
ought the family to be, and what do you call good ? that is the question. How long after the Conquest will do? Would a banker's family do, or is a baronet's good enough? Best say what rank in the peerage would be sufficiently high. ut the lady does not say whether she would like a High Church or a Low Church family. Ought there to be unmarried sons, and may they follow a profession ? and please say how many daughters; and would the lady like them to be musical ? And how many company dinners a week? Not too many, for fear of fatiguing the upper kitchen-maid ; but sufficient, so as to keep the upper kitchen-maid's hand in. [N.B.—I think I can see a rather bewildered expression on the countenances of Mesdames Doddles and Toddles as I am prattling on in this easy bantering way.]
4. The head kitchen-maid wishes to stay for two years, and
improve herself under the man-cook, and having of course sucked the brains (as the phrase is) from under the chef's nightcap, then the head kitchen-maid wishes
And upon my word, Mrs. Toddles, mum, I will go and fetch the cab for her. The cab ? Why not her ladyship's own carriage and pair, and the head coachman to drive away the head kitchen-maid? You see she stipulates for everything—the time to come ; the time to stay ; the family she will be with ; and as soon as she has improved herself enough, of course the upper kitchen-maid will step into the carriage and drive off.
Well, upon my word and conscience, if things are coming to this pass, Mrs. Toddles and Mrs. Doddles, mum, I think I will go up stairs and get a basin and a sponge, and then down stairs and get some hot water; and then I will go and scrub that chalk-mark off my own door with my own hands.
It is wiped off, I declare! After ever so many weeks! Who has done it? It was just a little round-about mark, you know, and it was there for days and weeks, before I ever thought it would be the text of a Roundabout Paper.
ON BEING FOUND OUT.
At the close (let us say) of Queen Anne's reign, when I was a boy at a private and preparatory school for young gentlemen, I reniember the wiseacre of a master ordering us all, one night, to march into a little garden at the back of the house, and thence to proceed one by one into a tool or hen-house, (I was but a tender little thing just put into short clothes, and can't exactly say whether the house was for tools or hens,) and in that house to put our hands into a sack which stood on a bench, a candle burning beside it. I put my hand into the sack. My hand came out quite black. I went and joined the other boys in the school-room; and all their hands were black too.
By reason of my tender age (and there are some critics who, I hope, will be satisfied by my acknowledging that I am a hundred and fifty-six next birthday) I could not understand what was the meaning of this night excursion—this candle, this tool. house, this bag of soot. I think we little boys were taken out of our sleep to be brought to the ordeal. We came, then, and showed our little hands to the master; washed them or not, most probably, I should say, not-and so went bewildered back to bed.
Something had been stolen in the school that day; and Mr. Wiseacre having read in a book of an ingenious method of finding out a thief by making him put his hand into a sack (which, if guilty, the rogue would shirk from doing), all we boys were subject to the trial. Goodness knows what the lost object was, or who stole it. We all had black hands to show to the master. And the thief, whoever he was, was not Found Out that time.
I wonder if the rascal is alive—an elderly scoundrel he must be by this time ; and a hoary old hypocrite, to whom an old school-fellow presents his kindest regards-parenthetically remarking what a dreadful place that private school was ; cold, chilblains, bad dinners, not enough victuals, and caning awful !
- Are you alive still, I say, you nameless villain, who escaped discovery on that day of crime? I hope you have escaped often since, old sinner. Ah, what a lucky thing it is, for you and me, my man, that we are not found out in all our peccadil. loes; and that our backs can slip away from the master and the cane !
Just consider what life would be, if every rogue was found