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BY EDWARD MAYHEW.
WITH AN ILLUSTRATION BY GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.
An old convivial proverb asserts, “ You shall know a man by his
Perhaps it was Mr. Edwin Jackman's naturally modest and retiring disposition which induced him originally to fix his abode as far from the above proverbial point of inspection as possible. He was not partial to the cellar. His coals, for instance, used to be carried to him “fresh and fresh" by a great unwashed, who, after stamping slowly up the hollow stairs, would rattle the dusty burden on the floor, and then doggedly stand beside the rubbish for cash on delivery. But time, which abases all things, did not spare Mr. Edwin Jackman. Gradually that gentleman's habita. tion sank lower and lower, till at last he regularly dined in the parlour. Gradually also had the naturally modest and retiring disposi. tion sunk with the body. From an honest desire (wanting more brilliant qualifications) to be esteemed for his genuine good nature, Jackman descended to petty cares for his respectability; and when, in his own opinion, this middling honour was established, he felt a longing after the genteel.
A waggon and four proportionable horses, stationed before his door, was an object for lofty contemplation as he stood at the window, his nose flattened against the glass, carelessly dallying with the silver in his pockets ;-and, remembering the days long past, he thought of those whose abilities and prospects were still high in the sloping chambers of some dismal inn of court,-—whose pecuniary resources were the lawful discussion of the chandler and the laundress, and swellingly compared them with his own present importance. It was a pleasant sight to see the passengers duck and run to avoid the spray of “the very best autumnal Wallsends," which were trickling over the pavement into the ample abyss be. neath; but when the climax arrived, and one sturdy fellow bravely smacked the emptied sacks upon the pavement, while another in lusty accents announced their numbers to the neighbourhood, Edwin Jack. man would prudently retire to conceal his feelings, and order beer for the men.
To those who enter the legal profession without other resources than their own abilities, there is a "great gulf” lying between the disreputable retailer of the coal-shed, who receives orders with suspi. cion, and the complacent dapper merchant, who never thinks of his bill even when the fuel is consumed. Mr. Jackman had, unas. sisted, leaped this gulf. He had a right to feel proud ; but as he now kept a man-servant, he could not help also feeling genteel, in which sentiment the gentle partner of his bed and fortune amply participated. Thus the domestic circle of the conveyancer might have been harmonious, had an only child, now in his fifth year, been of a tractable disposition ; but Master Frederick was rudely healthy. It was a trying affliction to his parents when, beholding other children walk stiffly on without rumpling their collars by looking either to the right or left, they contrasted the prim gentility of these little
dears with the offensive activity of their own offspring, who was ever pointing at this, running after that, patting the dogs that passed him, or king advances to little animals, in his parents' eyes, still lower in the scale of creation. Nor was this the whole of his misbehaviour :-at home, if a little choice lace, (the finest Brussels,) too sacred even for Sundays, was left soaking in his mother's wash. hand-basin, there was Master Frederick surely to be found with a dirty tobacco-pipe, endeavouring to blow bladders for his amuse. ment.
“ Ah !" would the sorrowing mother cry, “nothing escapes that boy; he destroys everything : he ought to have been bred in a bear. garden. He'll never make a gentleman! There was not such lace as this in London ; the queen has not any like it
, and he has pur. posely tried to destroy it. The good-for-nothing !"
Should the clean Hollands have been put down to save the stair. case carpet, ten minutes afterwards a stream of water would be dis. cernible up the middle, while the sides were profusely decorated with little dirty shoe-marks. Master Frederick had converted the filter into a bath for the kitten, and there could be no water for his father's dinner that day.
" A nasty little fellow!” cried his mother, twittering with pas. sion. “ So nice as they looked. But he can't bear anything that is clean : filth is what he delights in ;--a pigstye would please him. Was there ever a child born with really such blackguard propen. sities!"
Thus, though his parents would have laughed at any mention of expecting a child to be born with innate conventional decorum and knowledge of genteel usages, they nevertheless persisted in proclaiming every boyish mischief or infantine indiscretion Master Fred. erick was guilty of, as an additional proof that their son could never be made a gentleman; nor did the parents use any caution to avoid the probable consequences of the lad's natural activity.
Mrs. Jackman now gave the finishing touch to her gentility by a declared passion for glass and cracked china ; and her lord to encourage the delicate aspiration, crowned her desires and her collec. tion with a glass pitcher of exquisite workmanship and unusual dimensions. It was such a specimen of art as any lady in Mrs. Jackman's station of life must have felt proud in possessing, and pleasure in washing. She was, in fact, impatient for its display, and a party was invited for the express purpose.
The day arrived : sundry clients, with one or two relations, (to soften down the positive look of business, and make up numbers,) sat down in the parlour, while Master Frederick, waiting in the passage to come in with the dessert, fingered every dish that went in, and clawed every fragment that came out.
Dinner being ended, and the cloth removed, the boy having been re-washed, bounced into the room, but had hardly insisted on being noticed by all present, before the glass pitcher was placed in the middle of the table, and attracted general attention, all with one accord bursting into a chorus of admiration.
The Jackmans were in their glory; the company restless through a wish to be amiable ; and Master Frederick, being the most com. mon-place mark for the display of this desire, they commenced a scramble for possession of the child. Each baited his plate with
some trifling delicacy, requesting the boy's attention to the fact ; and, as if urged by his parents' repeated requests “not to give him wine, as Frederick would be ill,” no one was content till the young gentleman had done him or her " the honour :" and, to do the boy justice, he certainly exhibited on this occasion the most polite ala. crity, till (unaccustomed to a more potent beverage than milk and water) the little fellow became flushed and noisy ; and the digestive serenity of the gentlemen was gratefully relieved when the ladies retiring, took the child with them.
Frederick, on reaching the drawing-room, to his mother's horror, fell asleep, and snored “ like a pig;" while, on awaking, the first words he uttered were an urgent request, or rather petulent demand, for "something to drink.”
“Goodness me, child !” whispered Mrs. Jackman, "you do no. thing but drink. Be quiet, sir!—you've had too much to drink already.” After this, she indulged in a series of frowns, nods, and contortions, and quoted freely from those maxims which constitute the code of mammas, ultimately making her son's deficiencies an excuse for ordering the announcement of coffee.
This latter effect was by no means pleasing to Mr. Jackman : he was free with his wine, and wanted opportunity only to be equally so with his tongue ; and when his health was drunk, the peculiarly emphatic sincerity with which he poured forth his "want of words to express”-the "proudest moment of his life,”-and his “ wishes for the prosperity of all present,” must have provoked a most complimentary discussion on the host's oratorical powers, if the servant had not bobbed in, almost before the applause had subsided, and blurted out " Coffee !" thereby distracting the ideas of the company : nor, afterwards, could a moment's pause take place in conversation without the fellow's again intruding, till, fairly baited from the wine by these incessant interruptions, Mr. Jackman led the way to the drawing-room.
A short tète-à-tête between the parents occasioned sundry glances towards their thirsty child, and the father took an opportunity of whispering in his ear with threatening face, “You'll please to be. have yourself, sir !" as, passing rapidly by, he hastened to do the hospitable. Frederick now saw coffee handed to all but himself, who, of all, had most need of it. His voice assumed a touching pa. thos as he timidly ventured to utter, Please, ma !” But “Little boys,'' he was told, “ should see company helped first ;" and then " Little boys should never ask ;” and, "Little boys ought to wait to be served, and say nothing.” At length the little boy in question, instead of studying to benefit by the instruction thus timely conveyed, took advantage of an open door to escape down stairs.
The family filter, which for the kind of thing was certainly hand. some, stood partly for convenience, but chiefly for ornament, on the landing-place at the top of the kitchen-stairs ; and before this the parched child presently stood, listening most attentively to the music made by the water dropping through the stone into the ceptacle beneath. Feeling that servants are equally vigorous in imitating and abusing the harshness of their superiors, Frederick's hope of procuring a mug to drink from, rested on his being able to take one unobserved ; and, while looking round for this purpose, his eye rested on the glass pitcher, which now, standing on the maho