Imagens das páginas

at all times, your individuality haunts and harasses us. You hustle us in the streets, to the peril of limb and life; you sit upon and half smother us in the public carriages; you elbow almost our breath out of us in a crowd; you sit like a screen before us at an entertainment; you help yourself first and to the best of everything, and greedily devour every little dainty and rarity within your reach ; you seize


the softest seats and claim the most comfortable places, and dispose yourselves with a sole consideration of your own personal convenience; as if you were the most attractive and agreeable people in all the world,—the comprehension of all that is fascinating to the eye and exhilirating to the feelings, you post yourselves front and foremost on every occasion. You are not civil, and you are unbearably selfish. Apres nous le deluge, that's your motto; the devil take those in the rear, that's your benison for numbers two, three, and four ; take care of number one, that's your practical principle for this life; charity begins at home, that's your religion, your piety, and preparation for the life to come.

Ah! Mrs. Budgenought, there you are in

the best pew in the middle aisle. You are rarely behind, Mrs. Budgenought. Your pushing and imperturbable qualities are very patent in a crush. Though you belong to the tender and gentle sex you must be singularly muscular and tough, and you don't seem to suffer much from your social exertion, although you are remarkably tall and stout. We have our own brougham, but we condescend sometimes to make use of the public carriages, and we happened to be yesterday in that Whitechapel omnibus when you got into it near Butchers' Row. You happened to be the last possible passenger on that occasion, for there were eleven inside. We marked the general dismay as you entered; every one's countenance seemed to say that you were quite impossible. Courtesy on side number five, endeavoured to make room for you, and we noticed how you endeavoured to make room for yourself. You and the conductor were quite right-the omnibus was licensed to carry twelve, and the good manners and kind feeling of the insiders did their utmost to accommodate you. But it was a simple question of measurement, Madam, and bounteous nature had blessed you

with more than the average dimensions, and mutual accommodation was out of the question. We see you now, Madam, wriggling and ramming yourself in like a wedge; the gentlemen on either side of you, in admirable temper, merely observed under the operation, that it was not the thin end of the wedge. We marked your scornful look of virtuous indignation. It certainly was not a very polite remark; but if ladies will persist in dovetailing themselves between gentlemen, especially ladies of your embonpoint, Mrs. Budgenought, you must expect a joke or two at the expense of your make and manners.

Mr. Michael Mainchance, you are here, are you? Our popularity in our own line of things has drawn you here to-day. We often meet you, Mr. Mainchance, in the City, but you scarcely notice us there, you are always so excessively busy. We can't serve your turn there, eh!

That short sharp cough we know comes from the old baronet, Sir Charity Snugnest. You are close under the pulpit, eh! Sir. We quite expected you among the number ones. We must tell you then, as you are here, that

we don't intend to ask you for another subscription for any benevolent object; we shall keep our promise. There don't rub your bony hands down there with so much glee; we can hear the osseous rattle of your satisfaction. Charity always begins at home with you, and ends there too. We admire the domestic virtues, Sir Charity, but society would be better pleased, and you would enjoy better health if you ventured a little more abroad.


How is that, beadles, how is that? Where does that smoke come from? Something must be smouldering outside under the belfry! Shut all the doors, beadles, but one, and only leave that half-open. Bolt the other half well top and bottom. Keep the smoke out. a strong smell, too, of gas in the church! Mrs. Budgenought, you know the smell of gas, don't you detect it? Worse and worse! Surely the main pipe is burst! What is that noise outside, beadles? Actually they are shouting "Fire! fire!" Don't be alarmed, Mrs. Budgenought. Mr. Mainchance, pray be less excited; help poor Sir Charity down there, he must have fainted and fallen for something rattles just below us like a box of dominos. Fire!

Fire! Surely the Church is on fire, and the gas is escaping! Ah! up and off with you! True to your maxim, ye number ones; knock one another about like skittles; tumble over one another; trample, push, elbow away. Don't open the doors, beadles; capital joke, let them squeeze and pitch each other out one by one, 'tis their favourite number. Don't open the doors! Scream away! Capital joke! Fire! Fire! The gas is escaping!

[We awoke, the gas was in fact escaping, but as we always sleep with the windows open we were instantly sensible that there was no apprehension of danger.]

« AnteriorContinuar »