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Sketches of young couples

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Title:SketchesofYoungCouples

Author:CharlesDickens

ReleaseDate:April11,2015[eBook#916]
[ThisfilewasfirstpostedonMay22,1997]
Language:English
Charactersetencoding:ISO-646-US(US-ASCII)

***STARTOFTHEPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKSKETCHESOFYOUNGCOUPLES***

Transcribedfromthe1903ChapmanandHallSketchesbyBozeditionbyDavid

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SKETCHESOFYOUNGCOUPLES


CONTENTS


PAGE

AnUrgentRemonstrance,&c.

447

TheYoungCouple

451

TheFormalCouple

455

TheLovingCouple

458

TheContradictoryCouple

463

TheCoupleWhoDoteUponTheirChildren 466
TheCoolCouple

471

ThePlausibleCouple

474


TheNiceLittleCouple

478

TheEgotisticalCouple

481

TheCoupleWhoCoddleThemselves

485

TheOldCouple

489

Conclusion

493


AnUrgentRemonstrance,&c.
TOTHEGENTLEMENOFENGLAND,
(BEINGBACHELORSORWIDOWERS,)
THEREMONSTRANCEOFTHEIRFAITHFULFELLOW-SUBJECT,

SHEWETH,—
THATHerMostGraciousMajesty,Victoria,bytheGraceofGodoftheUnited
KingdomofGreatBritainandIrelandQueen,DefenderoftheFaith,did,onthe
23rddayofNovemberlastpast,declareandpronouncetoHerMostHonourable
PrivyCouncil,HerMajesty’sMostGraciousintentionofenteringintothebonds
ofwedlock.
THATHerMostGraciousMajesty,insomakingknownHerMostGracious
intentiontoHerMostHonourablePrivyCouncilasaforesaid,diduseand
employthewords—‘ItismyintentiontoallymyselfinmarriagewithPrince
AlbertofSaxeCoburgandGotha.’
THATthepresentisBissextile,orLeapYear,inwhichitisheldandconsidered
lawfulforanyladytoofferandsubmitproposalsofmarriagetoanygentleman,
andtoenforceandinsistuponacceptanceofthesame,underpainofacertain
fineorpenalty;towit,onesilkorsatindressofthefirstquality,tobechosenby
theladyandpaid(orowed)for,bythegentleman.
THATtheseandotherthehorrorsanddangerswithwhichthesaidBissextile,or
LeapYear,threatensthegentlemenofEnglandoneveryoccasionofits
periodicalreturn,havebeengreatlyaggravatedandaugmentedbythetermsof
HerMajesty’ssaidMostGraciouscommunication,whichhavefilledtheheads
ofdiversyoungladiesinthisRealmwithcertainnewideasdestructivetothe
peaceofmankind,thatneverenteredtheirimaginationbefore.
THATacasehasoccurredinCamberwell,inwhichayoungladyinformedher
Papathat‘sheintendedtoallyherselfinmarriage’withMr.SmithofStepney;
andthatanother,andaverydistressingcase,hasoccurredatTottenham,in


whichayoungladynotonlystatedherintentionofallyingherselfinmarriage
withhercousinJohn,but,takingviolentpossessionofhersaidcousin,actually
marriedhim.
THATsimilaroutragesareofconstantoccurrence,notonlyinthecapitalandits
neighbourhood,butthroughoutthekingdom,andthatunlesstheexcitedfemale
populacebespeedilycheckedandrestrainedintheirlawlessproceedings,most
deplorableresultsmustensuetherefrom;amongwhichmaybeanticipateda
mostalarmingincreaseinthepopulationofthecountry,withwhichnoeffortsof
theagriculturalormanufacturinginterestcanpossiblykeeppace.
THATthereisstrongreasontosuspecttheexistenceofamostextensiveplot,
conspiracy,ordesign,secretlycontrivedbyvastnumbersofsingleladiesinthe
UnitedKingdomofGreatBritainandIreland,andnowextendingits
ramificationsineveryquarteroftheland;theobjectandintentofwhichplainly
appearstobetheholdingandsolemnisingofanenormousandunprecedented
numberofmarriages,onthedayonwhichthenuptialsofHersaidMost
GraciousMajestyareperformed.
THATsuchplot,conspiracy,ordesign,stronglysavoursofPopery,astendingto
thediscomfitureoftheClergyoftheEstablishedChurch,byentailinguponthem
greatmentalandphysicalexhaustion;andthatsuchPopishplotsarefomented
andencouragedbyHerMajesty’sMinisters,whichclearlyappears—notonly
fromHerMajesty’sprincipalSecretaryofStateforForeignAffairstraitorously
gettingmarriedwhileholdingofficeundertheCrown;butfromMr.O’Connell
havingbeenheardtodeclareandavowthat,ifhehadadaughtertomarry,she
shouldbemarriedonthesamedayasHersaidMostGraciousMajesty.
THATsucharchplots,conspiracies,anddesigns,besidesbeingfraughtwith
dangertotheEstablishedChurch,and(consequently)totheState,cannotfailto
bringruinandbankruptcyuponalargeclassofHerMajesty’ssubjects;asa
greatandsuddenincreaseinthenumberofmarriedmenoccasioningthe
comparativedesertion(foratime)ofTaverns,Hotels,Billiard-rooms,and
Gaming-Houses,willdeprivetheProprietorsoftheiraccustomedprofitsand
returns.Andinfurtherproofofthedepthandbasenessofsuchdesigns,itmay
behereobserved,thatallproprietorsofTaverns,Hotels,Billiard-rooms,and
Gaming-Houses,are(especiallythelast)solemnlydevotedtotheProtestant
religion.
FORallthesereasons,andmanyothersofnolessgravityandimport,anurgent


appealismadetothegentlemenofEngland(beingbachelorsorwidowers)to
takeimmediatestepsforconveningaPublicmeeting;Toconsiderofthebestand
surestmeansofavertingthedangerswithwhichtheyarethreatenedbythe
recurrenceofBissextile,orLeapYear,andtheadditionalsensationcreated
amongsingleladiesbythetermsofHerMajesty’sMostGraciousDeclaration;
Totakemeasures,withoutdelay,forresistingthesaidsingleLadies,and
counteractingtheirevildesigns;AndtoprayHerMajestytodismissherpresent
Ministers,andtosummontoherCouncilsthosedistinguishedGentlemenin
variousHonourableProfessionswho,byinsultingonalloccasionstheonlyLady
inEnglandwhocanbeinsultedwithsafety,havegivenasufficientguaranteeto
HerMajesty’sLovingSubjectsthatthey,atleast,arequalifiedtomakewarwith
women,andarealreadyexpertintheuseofthoseweaponswhicharecommon
tothelowestandmostabandonedofthesex.


THEYOUNGCOUPLE
THEREistobeaweddingthismorningatthecornerhouseintheterrace.The
pastry-cook’speoplehavebeentherehalf-a-dozentimesalready;allday
yesterdaytherewasagreatstirandbustle,andtheywereupthismorningas
soonasitwaslight.MissEmmaFieldingisgoingtobemarriedtoyoungMr.
Harvey.
Heavenalonecantellinwhatbrightcoloursthismarriageispainteduponthe
mindofthelittlehousemaidatnumbersix,whohashardlysleptawinkallnight
withthinkingofit,andnowstandsontheunsweptdoor-stepsleaninguponher
broom,andlookingwistfullytowardstheenchantedhouse.Nothingshortof
omnisciencecandivinewhatvisionsofthebaker,orthegreen-grocer,orthe
smartandmostinsinuatingbutterman,areflittingacrosshermind—what
thoughtsofhowshewoulddressonsuchanoccasion,ifshewerealady—of
howshewoulddress,ifshewereonlyabride—ofhowcookwoulddress,being
bridesmaid,conjointlywithhersister‘inplace’atFulham,andhowthe
clergyman,deemingthemsomanyladies,wouldbequitehumbledand
respectful.Whatday-dreamsofhopeandhappiness—oflifebeingoneperpetual
holiday,withnomasterandnomistresstograntorwithholdit—ofeverySunday
beingaSundayout—ofpurefreedomastocurlsandringlets,andnoobligation
tohidefineheadsofhairincaps—whatpicturesofhappiness,vastandimmense
toher,bututterlyridiculoustous,bewilderthebrainofthelittlehousemaidat
numbersix,allcalledintoexistencebytheweddingatthecorner!
Wesmileatsuchthings,andsoweshould,thoughperhapsforabetterreason
thancommonlypresentsitself.Itshouldbepleasanttoustoknowthatthereare
notionsofhappinesssomoderateandlimited,sinceuponthosewhoentertain
them,happinessandlightnessofheartareveryeasilybestowed.
Butthelittlehousemaidisawakenedfromherreverie,forforthfromthedoorof
themagicalcornerhousethererunstowardsher,allflutteringinsmartnewdress
andstreamingribands,herfriendJaneAdams,whocomesalloutofbreathto
redeemasolemnpromiseoftakingherin,undercoveroftheconfusion,tosee


thebreakfasttablespreadforthinstate,and—sightofsights!—heryoung
mistressreadydressedforchurch.
Andthere,ingoodtruth,whentheyhavestolenup-stairsontip-toeandedged
themselvesinatthechamber-door—thereisMissEmma‘lookinglikethe
sweetestpicter,’inawhitechipbonnetandorangeflowers,andallother
eleganciesbecomingabride,(withthemake,shape,andqualityofeveryarticle
ofwhichthegirlisperfectlyfamiliarinonemoment,andneverforgetstoher
dyingday)—andthereisMissEmma’smammaintears,andMissEmma’spapa
comfortingher,andsayinghowthatofcourseshehasbeenlonglookingforward
tothis,andhowhappysheoughttobe—andtheretooisMissEmma’ssister
withherarmsroundherneck,andtheotherbridesmaidallsmilesandtears,
quietingthechildren,whowouldcrymorebutthattheyaresofinelydressed,
andyetsobforfearsisterEmmashouldbetakenaway—anditisallsoaffecting,
thatthetwoservant-girlscrymorethananybody;andJaneAdams,sittingdown
uponthestairs,whentheyhavecreptaway,declaresthatherlegstremblesothat
shedon’tknowwhattodo,andthatshewillsayforMissEmma,thatshenever
hadahastywordfromher,andthatshedoeshopeandprayshemaybehappy.
ButJanesooncomesroundagain,andthensurelythereneverwasanythinglike
thebreakfasttable,glitteringwithplateandchina,andsetoutwithflowersand
sweets,andlong-neckedbottles,inthemostsumptuousanddazzlingmanner.In
thecentre,too,isthemightycharm,thecake,glisteningwithfrostedsugar,and
garnishedbeautifully.TheyagreethatthereoughttobealittleCupidunderone
ofthebarley-sugartemples,oratleasttwoheartsandanarrow;but,withthis
exception,thereisnothingtowishfor,andatablecouldnotbehandsomer.As
theyarriveatthisconclusion,whoshouldcomeinbutMr.John!towhomJane
saysthatitsonlyAnnefromnumbersix;andJohnsaysheknows,forhe’soften
winkedhiseyedownthearea,whichcausesAnnetoblushandlookconfused.
Sheisgoingaway,indeed;whenMr.Johnwillhaveitthatshemustdrinkaglass
ofwine,andhesaysnevermindit’sbeingearlyinthemorning,itwon’thurt
her:sotheyshutthedoorandpouroutthewine;andAnnedrinkinglane’s
health,andadding,‘andhere’swishingyouyours,Mr.John,’drinksitinagreat
manysips,—Mr.Johnallthetimemakingjokesappropriatetotheoccasion.At
lastMr.John,whohaswaxedbolderbydegrees,pleadstheusageatweddings,
andclaimstheprivilegeofakiss,whichheobtainsafteragreatscuffle;and
footstepsbeingnowheardonthestairs,theydispersesuddenly.
Bythistimeacarriagehasdrivenuptoconveythebridetochurch,andAnneof
numbersixprolongingtheprocessof‘cleaningherdoor,’hasthesatisfactionof


beholdingthebrideandbridesmaids,andthepapaandmamma,hurryintothe
sameanddriverapidlyoff.Noristhisall,forsoonothercarriagesbeginto
arrivewithaposseofcompanyallbeautifullydressed,atwhomshecouldstand
andgazeforever;buthavingsomethingelsetodo,iscompelledtotakeonelast
longlookandshutthestreet-door.
Andnowthecompanyhavegonedowntobreakfast,andtearshavegivenplace
tosmiles,forallthecorksareoutofthelong-neckedbottles,andtheircontents
aredisappearingrapidly.MissEmma’spapaisatthetopofthetable;Miss
Emma’smammaatthebottom;andbesidethelatterareMissEmmaherselfand
herhusband,—admittedonallhandstobethehandsomestandmostinteresting
youngcoupleeverknown.Alldownbothsidesofthetable,too,arevarious
youngladies,beautifultosee,andvariousyounggentlemenwhoseemtothink
so;andthere,inapostofhonour,isanunmarriedauntofMissEmma’s,reported
topossessunheard-ofriches,andtohaveexpressedvasttestamentaryintentions
respectingherfavouritenieceandnewnephew.Thisladyhasbeenveryliberal
andgenerousalready,asthejewelswornbythebrideabundantlytestify,butthat
isnothingtowhatshemeanstodo,oreventowhatshehasdone,forsheput
herselfinclosecommunicationwiththedressmakerthreemonthsago,and
preparedawardrobe(withsomearticlesworkedbyherownhands)fitfora
Princess.Peoplemaycallheranoldmaid,andsoshemaybe,butsheisneither
crossnoruglyforallthat;onthecontrary,sheisverycheerfulandpleasantlooking,andverykindandtender-hearted:whichisnomatterofsurpriseexcept
tothosewhoyieldtopopularprejudiceswithoutthinkingwhy,andwillnever
growwiserandneverknowbetter.
Ofallthecompanythough,nonearemorepleasanttobeholdorbetterpleased
withthemselvesthantwoyoungchildren,who,inhonouroftheday,haveseats
amongtheguests.Ofthese,oneisalittlefellowofsixoreightyearsold,
brothertothebride,—andtheotheragirlofthesameage,orsomethingyounger,
whomhecalls‘hiswife.’Therealbrideandbridegroomarenotmoredevoted
thanthey:heallloveandattention,andsheallblushesandfondness,toyingwith
alittlebouquetwhichhegaveherthismorning,andplacingthescatteredroseleavesinherbosomwithnature’sowncoquettishness.Theyhavedreamtof
eachotherintheirquietdreams,thesechildren,andtheirlittleheartshavebeen
nearlybrokenwhentheabsentonehasbeendispraisedinjest.Whenwillthere
comeinafter-lifeapassionsoearnest,generous,andtrueastheirs;what,evenin
itsgentlestrealities,canhavethegraceandcharmthathoverroundsuchfairy
lovers!


Bythistimethemerrimentandhappinessofthefeasthavegainedtheirheight;
certainominouslooksbegintobeexchangedbetweenthebridesmaids,and
somehowitgetswhisperedaboutthatthecarriagewhichistotaketheyoung
coupleintothecountryhasarrived.Suchmembersofthepartyasaremost
disposedtoprolongitsenjoyments,affecttoconsiderthisafalsealarm,butit
turnsouttootrue,beingspeedilyconfirmed,firstbytheretirementofthebride
andaselectfileofintimateswhoaretoprepareherforthejourney,andsecondly
bythewithdrawaloftheladiesgenerally.Tothisthereensuesaparticularly
awkwardpause,inwhicheverybodyessaystobefacetious,andnobody
succeeds;atlengththebridegroommakesamysteriousdisappearancein
obediencetosomeequallymysterioussignal;andthetableisdeserted.
Now,foratleastsixweekslastpastithasbeensolemnlydevisedandsettledthat
theyoungcoupleshouldgoawayinsecret;buttheynosoonerappearwithout
thedoorthanthedrawing-roomwindowsareblockedupwithladieswaving
theirhandkerchiefsandkissingtheirhands,andthedining-roompaneswith
gentlemen’sfacesbeamingfarewellineveryqueervarietyofitsexpression.The
hallandstepsarecrowdedwithservantsinwhitefavours,mixedupwith
particularfriendsandrelationswhohavedartedouttosaygood-bye;and
foremostinthegrouparethetinyloversarminarm,thinking,withfluttering
hearts,whathappinessitwouldbetodashawaytogetherinthatgallantcoach,
andneverpartagain.
Thebridehasbarelytimeforonehurriedglanceatheroldhome,whenthesteps
rattle,thedoorslams,thehorsesclatteronthepavement,andtheyhaveleftitfar
away.
Aknotofwomenservantsstillremainclusteredinthehall,whisperingamong
themselves,andthereofcourseisAnnefromnumbersix,whohasmadeanother
escapeonsomepleaorother,andbeenanadmiringwitnessofthedeparture.
TherearetwopointsonwhichAnneexpatiatesoverandoveragain,withoutthe
smallestappearanceoffatigueorintendingtoleaveoff;oneis,thatshe‘never
seeinallherlifesucha—ohsuchaangelofagentlemanasMr.Harvey’—and
theother,thatshe‘can’ttellhowitis,butitdon’tseemabitlikeawork-a-day,
oraSundayneither—it’sallsounsettledandunregular.’
DepartureoftheYoungCouple


THEFORMALCOUPLE
THEformalcouplearethemostprim,cold,immovable,andunsatisfactory
peopleonthefaceoftheearth.Theirfaces,voices,dress,house,furniture,walk,
andmanner,arealltheessenceofformality,unrelievedbyoneredeemingtouch
offrankness,heartiness,ornature.
Everythingwiththeformalcoupleresolvesitselfintoamatterofform.They
don’tcalluponyouonyouraccount,buttheirown;nottoseehowyouare,but
toshowhowtheyare:itisnotaceremonytodohonourtoyou,butto
themselves,—notduetoyourposition,buttotheirs.Ifoneofafriend’schildren
die,theformalcoupleareassureandpunctualinsendingtothehouseasthe
undertaker;ifafriend’sfamilybeincreased,themonthlynurseisnotmore
attentivethanthey.Theformalcouple,infact,joyfullyseizealloccasionsof
testifyingtheirgood-breedingandpreciseobservanceofthelittleusagesof
society;andforyou,whoarethemeanstothisend,theycareasmuchasaman
doesforthetailorwhohasenabledhimtocutafigure,orawomanforthe
millinerwhohasassistedhertoaconquest.
Havinganextensiveconnexionamongthatkindofpeoplewhomake
acquaintancesandeschewfriends,theformalgentlemanattendsfromtimeto
timeagreatmanyfunerals,towhichheisformallyinvited,andtowhichhe
formallygoes,asreturningacallforthelasttime.Herehisdeportmentisofthe
mostfaultlessdescription;heknowstheexactpitchofvoiceitisproperto
assume,thesombrelookheoughttowear,themelancholytreadwhichshouldbe
hisgaitfortheday.Heisperfectlyacquaintedwithallthedrearycourtesiesto
beobservedinamourning-coach;knowswhentosigh,andwhentohidehis
noseinthewhitehandkerchief;andlooksintothegraveandshakeshishead
whentheceremonyisconcluded,withthesadformalityofamute.
‘Whatkindoffuneralwasit?’saystheformallady,whenhereturnshome.
‘Oh!’repliestheformalgentleman,‘thereneverwassuchagrossanddisgusting
impropriety;therewerenofeathers.’‘Nofeathers!’criesthelady,asifonwings
ofblackfeathersdeadpeopleflytoHeaven,and,lackingthem,theymustof


necessitygoelsewhere.Herhusbandshakeshishead;andfurtheradds,thatthey
hadseed-cakeinsteadofplum-cake,andthatitwasallwhitewine.‘Allwhite
wine!’exclaimshiswife.‘Nothingbutsherryandmadeira,’saysthehusband.
‘What!noport?’‘Notadrop.’Noport,noplums,andnofeathers!‘Youwill
recollect,mydear,’saystheformallady,inavoiceofstatelyreproof,‘thatwhen
wefirstmetthispoormanwhoisnowdeadandgone,andhetookthatvery
strangecourseofaddressingmeatdinnerwithoutbeingpreviouslyintroduced,I
venturedtoexpressmyopinionthatthefamilywerequiteignorantofetiquette,
andveryimperfectlyacquaintedwiththedecenciesoflife.Youhavenowhada
goodopportunityofjudgingforyourself,andallIhavetosayis,thatItrustyou
willnevergotoafuneralthereagain.’‘Mydear,’repliestheformalgentleman,
‘Ineverwill.’Sotheinformaldeceasediscutinhisgrave;andtheformal
couple,whentheytellthestoryofthefuneral,shaketheirheads,andwonder
whatsomepeople’sfeelingsaremadeof,andwhattheirnotionsofproprietycan
be!
Iftheformalcouplehaveafamily(whichtheysometimeshave),theyarenot
children,butlittle,pale,sour,sharp-nosedmenandwomen;andsoexquisitely
broughtup,thattheymightbeveryolddwarfsforanythingthatappearethtothe
contrary.Indeed,theyaresoacquaintedwithformsandconventionalities,and
conductthemselveswithsuchstrictdecorum,thattoseethelittlegirlbreaka
looking-glassinsomewildoutbreak,orthelittleboykickhisparents,wouldbe
toanyvisitoranunspeakablereliefandconsolation.
Theformalcouplearealwayssticklersforwhatisrigidlyproper,andhavea
greatreadinessindetectinghiddenimproprietyofspeechorthought,whichby
lessscrupulouspeoplewouldbewhollyunsuspected.Thus,iftheypayavisitto
thetheatre,theysitallnightinaperfectagonylestanythingimproperor
immoralshouldproceedfromthestage;andifanythingshouldhappentobesaid
whichadmitsofadoubleconstruction,theyneverfailtotakeitupdirectly,and
toexpressbytheirlooksthegreatoutragewhichtheirfeelingshavesustained.
Perhapsthisistheirchiefreasonforabsentingthemselvesalmostentirelyfrom
placesofpublicamusement.TheygosometimestotheExhibitionoftheRoyal
Academy;—butthatisoftenmoreshockingthanthestageitself,andtheformal
ladythinksthatitreallyishightimeMr.Ettywasprosecutedandmadeapublic
exampleof.
Wemadeoneatachristeningpartynotlongsince,wheretherewereamongstthe
guestsaformalcouple,whosufferedtheacutesttorturefromcertainjokes,
incidentaltosuchanoccasion,cut—andverylikelydriedalso—byoneofthe


godfathers;ared-facedelderlygentleman,who,beinghighlypopularwiththe
restofthecompany,haditallhisownway,andwasingreatspirits.Itwasat
supper-timethatthisgentlemancameoutinfullforce.We—beingofagrave
andquietdemeanour—hadbeenchosentoescorttheformalladydown-stairs,
and,sittingbesideher,hadafavourableopportunityofobservingheremotions.
Wehaveashrewdsuspicionthat,intheverybeginning,andinthefirstblush—
literallythefirstblush—ofthematter,theformalladyhadnotfeltquitecertain
whetherthebeingpresentatsuchaceremony,andencouraging,asitwere,the
publicexhibitionofababy,wasnotanactinvolvingsomedegreeofindelicacy
andimpropriety;butcertainwearethatwhenthatbaby’shealthwasdrunk,and
allusionsweremade,byagrey-headedgentlemanproposingit,tothetimewhen
hehaddandledinhisarmstheyoungChristian’smother,—certainwearethat
thentheformalladytookthealarm,andrecoiledfromtheoldgentlemanasfrom
ahoaryprofligate.Stillsheboreit;shefannedherselfwithanindignantair,but
stillsheboreit.Acomicsongwassung,involvingaconfessionfromsome
imaginarygentlemanthathehadkissedafemale,andyettheformalladybore
it.Butwhenatlast,thehealthofthegodfatherbefore-mentionedbeingdrunk,
thegodfatherrosetoreturnthanks,andinthecourseofhisobservationsdarkly
hintedatbabiesyetunborn,andevencontemplatedthepossibilityofthesubject
ofthatfestivalhavingbrothersandsisters,theformalladycouldendureno
more,but,bowingslightlyround,andsweepinghaughtilypasttheoffender,left
theroomintears,undertheprotectionoftheformalgentleman.


THELOVINGCOUPLE
THEREcannotbeabetterpracticalillustrationofthewisesawandancient
instance,thattheremaybetoomuchofagoodthing,thanispresentedbya
lovingcouple.Undoubtedlyitismeetandproperthattwopersonsjoined
togetherinholymatrimonyshouldbeloving,andunquestionablyitispleasantto
knowandseethattheyareso;butthereisatimeforallthings,andthecouple
whohappentobealwaysinalovingstatebeforecompany,arewell-nigh
intolerable.
Andintakingupthispositionwewouldhaveitdistinctlyunderstoodthatwedo
notseekalonethesympathyofbachelors,inwhoseobjectiontolovingcouples
werecogniseinterestedmotivesandpersonalconsiderations.Wegrantthatto
thatunfortunateclassofsocietytheremaybesomethingveryirritating,
tantalising,andprovoking,inbeingcompelledtowitnessthosegentle
endearmentsandchasteinterchangeswhichtolovingcouplesarequitethe
ordinarybusinessoflife.Butwhilewerecognisethenaturalcharacterofthe
prejudicetowhichtheseunhappymenaresubject,wecanneitherreceivetheir
biassedevidence,noraddressourselftotheirinflamedandangeredminds.
Dispassionateexperienceisouronlyguide;andinthesemoralessaysweseek
nolesstoreformhymenealoffendersthantoholdoutatimelywarningtoall
risingcouples,andeventothosewhohavenotyetsetforthupontheir
pilgrimagetowardsthematrimonialmarket.
Letallcouples,presentortocome,thereforeprofitbytheexampleofMr.and
Mrs.Leaver,themselvesalovingcoupleinthefirstdegree.
TheLovingCouple
Mr.andMrs.LeaverarepronouncedbyMrs.Starling,awidowladywholost
herhusbandwhenshewasyoung,andlostherselfaboutthesame-time—forby
herowncountshehasneversincegrownfiveyearsolder—tobeaperfectmodel
ofweddedfelicity.‘Youwouldsuppose,’saystheromanticlady,‘thattheywere
loversonlyjustnowengaged.Neverwassuchhappiness!Theyaresotender,


soaffectionate,soattachedtoeachother,soenamoured,thatpositivelynothing
canbemorecharming!’
‘Augusta,mysoul,’saysMr.Leaver.‘Augustus,mylife,’repliesMrs.Leaver.
‘Singsomelittleballad,darling,’quothMr.Leaver.‘Icouldn’t,indeed,dearest,’
returnsMrs.Leaver.‘Do,mydove,’saysMr.Leaver.‘Icouldn’tpossibly,my
love,’repliesMrs.Leaver;‘andit’sverynaughtyofyoutoaskme.’‘Naughty,
darling!’criesMr.Leaver.‘Yes,verynaughty,andverycruel,’returnsMrs.
Leaver,‘foryouknowIhaveasorethroat,andthattosingwouldgivemegreat
pain.You’reamonster,andIhateyou.Goaway!’Mrs.Leaverhassaid‘go
away,’becauseMr.Leaverhastappedherunderthechin:Mr.Leavernotdoing
asheisbid,butonthecontrary,sittingdownbesideher,Mrs.LeaverslapsMr.
Leaver;andMr.LeaverinreturnslapsMrs.Leaver,anditbeingnowtimeforall
personspresenttolooktheotherway,theylooktheotherway,andhearastill
smallsoundasofkissing,atwhichMrs.Starlingisthoroughlyenraptured,and
whispersherneighbourthatifallmarriedcoupleswerelikethat,whataheaven
thisearthwouldbe!
Thelovingcoupleareathomewhenthisoccurs,andmaybeonlythreeorfour
friendsarepresent,but,unaccustomedtoreserveuponthisinterestingpoint,they
areprettymuchthesameabroad.Indeeduponsomeoccasions,suchasapic-nic
orawater-party,theirlovingnessisevenmoredeveloped,aswehadan
opportunitylastsummerofobservinginperson.
Therewasagreatwater-partymadeuptogotoTwickenhamanddine,and
afterwardsdanceinanemptyvillabytheriver-side,hiredexpresslyforthe
purpose.Mr.andMrs.Leaverwereofthecompany;anditwasourfortuneto
haveaseatinthesameboat,whichwasaneight-oaredgalley,mannedby
amateurs,withabluestripedawningofthesamepatternastheirGuernsey
shirts,andadingyredflagofthesameshadeasthewhiskersofthestrokeoar.
Acoxswainbeingappointed,andallothermattersadjusted,theeightgentlemen
threwthemselvesintostrongparoxysms,andpulledupwiththetide,stimulated
bythecompassionateremarksoftheladies,whooneandallexclaimed,thatit
seemedanimmenseexertion—asindeeditdid.Atfirstweracedtheotherboat,
whichcamealongsideingallantstyle;butthisbeingfoundanunpleasant
amusement,asgivingrisetoagreatquantityofsplashing,andrenderingthecold
piesandotherviandsverymoist,itwasunanimouslyvoteddown,andwewere
sufferedtoshoota-head,whilethesecondboatfollowedingloriouslyinour
wake.


ItwasatthistimethatwefirstrecognisedMr.Leaver.Thereweretwofiremenwatermenintheboat,lyingbyuntilsomebodywasexhausted;andoneofthem,
whohadtakenuponhimselfthedirectionofaffairs,washeardtocryinagruff
voice,‘Pullaway,numbertwo—giveither,numbertwo—takealongerreach,
numbertwo—now,numbertwo,sir,thinkyou’rewinningaboat.’Thegreater
partofthecompanyhadnodoubtbeguntowonderwhichofthestriped
Guernseysitmightbethatstoodinneedofsuchencouragement,whenastifled
shriekfromMrs.Leaverconfirmedthedoubtfulandinformedtheignorant;and
Mr.Leaver,stillfurtherdisguisedinastrawhatandnoneckcloth,wasobserved
tobeinafearfulperspiration,andfailingvisibly.Norwasthegeneral
consternationdiminishedatthisinstantbythesamegentleman(inthe
performanceofanaccidentalaquaticfeat,termed‘catchingacrab’)plunging
suddenlybackward,anddisplayingnothingofhimselftothecompany,buttwo
violentlystrugglinglegs.Mrs.Leavershriekedagainseveraltimes,andcried
piteously—‘Ishedead?Tellmetheworst.Ishedead?’
Now,amoment’sreflectionmighthaveconvincedthelovingwife,thatunless
herhusbandwereendowedwithsomemostsurprisingpowersofmuscular
action,henevercouldbedeadwhilehekickedsohard;butstillMrs.Leaver
cried,‘Ishedead?ishedead?’andstilleverybodyelsecried—‘No,no,no,’until
suchtimeasMr.Leaverwasreplacedinasittingposture,andhisoar(whichhad
beengoingthroughallkindsofwrong-headedperformancesonitsownaccount)
wasoncemoreputinhishand,bytheexertionsofthetwofiremen-watermen.
Mr.Leaverthenexclaimed,‘Augustus,mychild,cometome;’andMr.Leaver
said,‘Augusta,mylove,composeyourself,Iamnotinjured.’ButMrs.Leaver
criedagainmorepiteouslythanbefore,‘Augustus,mychild,cometome;’and
nowthecompanygenerally,whoseemedtobeapprehensivethatifMr.Leaver
remainedwherehewas,hemightcontributemorethanhispropersharetowards
thedrowningoftheparty,disinterestedlytookpartwithMrs.Leaver,andsaidhe
reallyoughttogo,andthathewasnotstrongenoughforsuchviolentexercise,
andoughtnevertohaveundertakenit.Reluctantly,Mr.Leaverwent,andlaid
himselfdownatMrs.Leaver’sfeet,andMrs.Leaverstoopingoverhim,said,
‘OhAugustus,howcouldyouterrifymeso?’andMr.Leaversaid,‘Augusta,my
sweet,Inevermeanttoterrifyyou;’andMrs.Leaversaid,‘Youarefaint,my
dear;’andMr.Leaversaid,‘Iamratherso,mylove;’andtheywereveryloving
indeedunderMrs.Leaver’sveil,untilatlengthMr.Leavercameforthagain,and
pleasantlyaskedifhehadnotheardsomethingsaidaboutbottledstoutand
sandwiches.


Mrs.Starling,whowasoneoftheparty,wasperfectlydelightedwiththisscene,
andfrequentlymurmuredhalf-aside,‘Whatalovingcoupleyouare!’or‘How
delightfulitistoseemanandwifesohappytogether!’Tousshewasquite
poetical,(forweareakindofcousins,)observingthatheartsbeatinginunison
likethatmadelifeaparadiseofsweets;andthatwhenkindredcreatureswere
drawntogetherbysympathiessofineanddelicate,whatmorethanmortal
happinessdidnotoursoulspartake!Toallthisweanswered‘Certainly,’or
‘Verytrue,’ormerelysighed,asthecasemightbe.Ateverynewactofthe
lovingcouple,thewidow’sadmirationbrokeoutafresh;andwhenMrs.Leaver
wouldnotpermitMr.Leavertokeephishatoff,lestthesunshouldstriketohis
head,andgivehimabrainfever,Mrs.Starlingactuallyshedtears,andsaidit
remindedherofAdamandEve.
ThelovingcouplewerethuslovingallthewaytoTwickenham,butwhenwe
arrivedthere(bywhichtimetheamateurcrewlookedverythirstyandvicious)
theyweremoreplayfulthanever,forMrs.LeaverthrewstonesatMr.Leaver,
andMr.LeaverranafterMrs.Leaveronthegrass,inamostinnocentand
enchantingmanner.Atdinner,too,Mr.LeaverwouldstealMrs.Leaver’s
tongue,andMrs.LeaverwouldretaliateuponMr.Leaver’sfowl;andwhenMrs.
Leaverwasgoingtotakesomelobstersalad,Mr.Leaverwouldn’tletherhave
any,sayingthatitmadeherill,andshewasalwayssorryforitafterwards,which
affordedMrs.Leaveranopportunityofpretendingtobecross,andshowing
manyotherprettinesses.Butthiswasmerelythesmilingsurfaceoftheirloves,
notthemightydepthsofthestream,downtowhichthecompany,tosaythe
truth,divedratherunexpectedly,fromthefollowingaccident.Itchancedthat
Mr.Leavertookuponhimselftoproposethebachelorswhohadfirstoriginated
thenotionofthatentertainment,indoingwhich,heaffectedtoregretthathewas
nolongeroftheirbodyhimself,andpretendedgrievouslytolamenthisfallen
state.ThisMrs.Leaver’sfeelingscouldnotbrook,eveninjest,and
consequently,exclaimingaloud,‘Helovesmenot,helovesmenot!’shefellina
verypitiablestateintothearmsofMrs.Starling,and,directlybecoming
insensible,wasconveyedbythatladyandherhusbandintoanotherroom.
PresentlyMr.Leavercamerunningbacktoknowiftherewasamedical
gentlemanincompany,andastherewas,(inwhatcompanyistherenot?)both
Mr.Leaverandthemedicalgentlemanhurriedawaytogether.
Themedicalgentlemanwasthefirstwhoreturned,andamonghisintimate
friendshewasobservedtolaughandwink,andlookasunmedicalasmightbe;
butwhenMr.Leavercamebackhewasverysolemn,andinanswertoall


inquiries,shookhishead,andremarkedthatAugustawasfartoosensitivetobe
trifledwith—anopinionwhichthewidowsubsequentlyconfirmed.Findingthat
shewasinnoimminentperil,however,therestofthepartybetookthemselvesto
dancingonthegreen,andverymerryandhappytheywere,andavastquantity
offlirtationtherewas;thelastcircumstancebeingnodoubtattributable,partlyto
thefinenessoftheweather,andpartlytothelocality,whichiswellknowntobe
favourabletoallharmlessrecreations.
Inthebustleofthescene,Mr.andMrs.Leaverstoledowntotheboat,and
disposedthemselvesundertheawning,Mrs.LeaverrecliningherheaduponMr.
Leaver’sshoulder,andMr.Leavergraspingherhandwithgreatfervour,and
lookinginherfacefromtimetotimewithamelancholyandsympatheticaspect.
Thewidowsatapart,feigningtobeoccupiedwithabook,butstealthily
observingthemfrombehindherfan;andthetwofiremen-watermen,smoking
theirpipesonthebankhardby,nudgedeachother,andgrinnedinenjoymentof
thejoke.Veryfewofthepartymissedthelovingcouple;andthefewwhodid,
heartilycongratulatedeachotherontheirdisappearance.


THECONTRADICTORYCOUPLE
ONEwouldsupposethattwopeoplewhoaretopasstheirwholelivestogether,
andmustnecessarilybeveryoftenalonewitheachother,couldfindlittle
pleasureinmutualcontradiction;andyetwhatismorecommonthana
contradictorycouple?
Thecontradictorycoupleagreeinnothingbutcontradiction.Theyreturnhome
fromMrs.Bluebottle’sdinner-party,eachinanoppositecornerofthecoach,and
donotexchangeasyllableuntiltheyhavebeenseatedforatleasttwenty
minutesbythefiresideathome,whenthegentleman,raisinghiseyesfromthe
stove,allatoncebreakssilence:
‘Whataveryextraordinarythingitis,’sayshe,‘thatyouwillcontradict,
Charlotte!’‘Icontradict!’criesthelady,‘butthat’sjustlikeyou.’‘What’slike
me?’saysthegentlemansharply.‘SayingthatIcontradictyou,’repliesthelady.
‘Doyoumeantosaythatyoudonotcontradictme?’retortsthegentleman;‘do
youmeantosaythatyouhavenotbeencontradictingmethewholeofthisday?’
‘Doyoumeantotellmenow,thatyouhavenot?Imeantotellyounothingof
thekind,’repliestheladyquietly;‘whenyouarewrong,ofcourseIshall
contradictyou.’
Duringthisdialoguethegentlemanhasbeentakinghisbrandy-and-wateronone
sideofthefire,andthelady,withherdressing-caseonthetable,hasbeen
curlingherhairontheother.Shenowletsdownherbackhair,andproceedsto
brushit;preservingatthesametimeanairofconsciousrectitudeandsuffering
virtue,whichisintendedtoexasperatethegentleman—anddoesso.
‘Idobelieve,’hesays,takingthespoonoutofhisglass,andtossingitonthe
table,‘thatofalltheobstinate,positive,wrong-headedcreaturesthatwereever
born,youarethemostso,Charlotte.’‘Certainly,certainly,haveityourown
way,pray.YouseehowmuchIcontradictyou,’rejoinsthelady.‘Ofcourse,
youdidn’tcontradictmeatdinner-time—ohno,notyou!’saysthegentleman.
‘Yes,Idid,’saysthelady.‘Oh,youdid,’criesthegentleman‘youadmitthat?’


‘Ifyoucallthatcontradiction,Ido,’theladyanswers;‘andIsayagain,Edward,
thatwhenIknowyouarewrong,Iwillcontradictyou.Iamnotyourslave.’
‘Notmyslave!’repeatsthegentlemanbitterly;‘andyoustillmeantosaythatin
theBlackburns’newhousetherearenotmorethanfourteendoors,includingthe
doorofthewine-cellar!’‘Imeantosay,’retortsthelady,beatingtimewithher
hair-brushonthepalmofherhand,‘thatinthathousetherearefourteendoors
andnomore.’‘Wellthen—’criesthegentleman,risingindespair,andpacing
theroomwithrapidstrides.‘ByG-,thisisenoughtodestroyaman’sintellect,
anddrivehimmad!’
Byandbythegentlemancomes-toalittle,andpassinghishandgloomilyacross
hisforehead,reseatshimselfinhisformerchair.Thereisalongsilence,andthis
timetheladybegins.‘IappealedtoMr.Jenkins,whosatnexttomeonthesofa
inthedrawing-roomduringtea—’‘Morgan,youmean,’interruptsthe
gentleman.‘Idonotmeananythingofthekind,’answersthelady.‘Now,byall
thatisaggravatingandimpossibletobear,’criesthegentleman,clenchinghis
handsandlookingupwardsinagony,‘sheisgoingtoinsistuponitthatMorgan
isJenkins!’‘Doyoutakemeforaperfectfool?’exclaimsthelady;‘doyou
supposeIdon’tknowtheonefromtheother?DoyousupposeIdon’tknowthat
themaninthebluecoatwasMr.Jenkins?’‘Jenkinsinabluecoat!’criesthe
gentlemanwithagroan;‘Jenkinsinabluecoat!amanwhowouldsufferdeath
ratherthanwearanythingbutbrown!’‘Doyoudaretochargemewithtellingan
untruth?’demandsthelady,burstingintotears.‘Ichargeyou,ma’am,’retorts
thegentleman,startingup,‘withbeingamonsterofcontradiction,amonsterof
aggravation,a—a—a—Jenkinsinabluecoat!—whathaveIdonethatIshould
bedoomedtohearsuchstatements!’
Expressinghimselfwithgreatscornandanguish,thegentlemantakesuphis
candleandstalksofftobed,wherefeigningtobefastasleepwhenthelady
comesup-stairsdrownedintears,murmuringlamentationsoverherhardfate
andindistinctintentionsofconsultingherbrothers,heundergoesthesecret
tortureofhearingherexclaimbetweenwhiles,‘Iknowthereareonlyfourteen
doorsinthehouse,IknowitwasMr.Jenkins,Iknowhehadabluecoaton,and
IwouldsayitaspositivelyasIdonow,iftheywerethelastwordsIhadto
speak!’
Ifthecontradictorycoupleareblessedwithchildren,theyarenottheless
contradictoryonthataccount.MasterJamesandMissCharlottepresent
themselvesafterdinner,andbeinginperfectgoodhumour,andfindingtheir
parentsinthesameamiablestate,augurfromtheseappearanceshalfaglassof


winea-pieceandotherextraordinaryindulgences.ButunfortunatelyMaster
James,growingtalkativeuponsuchprospects,askshismammahowtallMrs.
Parsonsis,andwhethersheisnotsixfeethigh;towhichhismammareplies,
‘Yes,sheshouldthinkshewas,forMrs.Parsonsisaverytallladyindeed;quite
agiantess.’‘ForHeaven’ssake,Charlotte,’criesherhusband,‘donottellthe
childsuchpreposterousnonsense.Sixfeethigh!’‘Well,’repliesthelady,
‘surelyImaybepermittedtohaveanopinion;myopinionis,thatsheissixfeet
high—atleastsixfeet.’‘Nowyouknow,Charlotte,’retortsthegentleman
sternly,‘thatthatisnotyouropinion—thatyouhavenosuchidea—andthatyou
onlysaythisforthesakeofcontradiction.’‘Youareexceedinglypolite,’his
wifereplies;‘tobewrongaboutsuchapaltryquestionasanybody’sheight,
wouldbenogreatcrime;butIsayagain,thatIbelieveMrs.Parsonstobesix
feet—morethansixfeet;nay,Ibelieveyouknowhertobefullsixfeet,andonly
saysheisnot,becauseIsaysheis.’Thistauntdisposesthegentlemanto
becomeviolent,buthecheekshimself,andiscontenttomutter,inahaughty
tone,‘Sixfeet—ha!ha!Mrs.Parsonssixfeet!’andtheladyanswers,‘Yes,six
feet.IamsureIamgladyouareamused,andI’llsayitagain—sixfeet.’Thus
thesubjectgraduallydropsoff,andthecontradictionbeginstobeforgotten,
whenMasterJames,withsomeundefinednotionofmakinghimselfagreeable,
andputtingthingstorightsagain,unfortunatelyaskshismammawhatthe
moon’smadeof;whichgivesheroccasiontosaythathehadbetternotaskher,
forsheisalwayswrongandnevercanberight;thatheonlyexposesherto
contradictionbyaskinganyquestionofher;andthathehadbetteraskhispapa,
whoisinfallible,andnevercanbewrong.Papa,smartingunderthisattack,
givesaterriblepullatthebell,andsays,thatiftheconversationistoproceedin
thisway,thechildrenhadbetterberemoved.Removedtheyare,afterafew
tearsandmanystruggles;andPahavinglookedatMasidewaysforaminuteor
two,withabalefuleye,drawshispocket-handkerchiefoverhisface,and
composeshimselfforhisafter-dinnernap.
Thefriendsofthecontradictorycoupleoftendeploretheirfrequentdisputes,
thoughtheyrathermakelightofthematthesametime:observing,thatthereis
nodoubttheyareverymuchattachedtoeachother,andthattheyneverquarrel
exceptabouttrifles.Butneitherthefriendsofthecontradictorycouple,northe
contradictorycouplethemselves,reflect,thatasthemoststupendousobjectsin
naturearebutvastcollectionsofminuteparticles,sotheslightestandleast
consideredtriflesmakeupthesumofhumanhappinessormisery.


THECOUPLEWHODOTEUPONTHEIR
CHILDREN
THEcouplewhodoteupontheirchildrenhaveusuallyagreatmanyofthem:six
oreightatleast.Thechildrenareeitherthehealthiestinalltheworld,orthe
mostunfortunateinexistence.Ineithercase,theyareequallythethemeoftheir
dotingparents,andequallyasourceofmentalanguishandirritationtotheir
dotingparents’friends.
Thecouplewhodoteupontheirchildrenrecognisenodatesbutthoseconnected
withtheirbirths,accidents,illnesses,orremarkabledeeds.Theykeepamental
almanackwithavastnumberofInnocents’-days,allinredletters.They
recollectthelastcoronation,becauseonthatdaylittleTomfelldownthekitchen
stairs;theanniversaryoftheGunpowderPlot,becauseitwasonthefifthof
NovemberthatNedaskedwhetherwoodenlegsweremadeinheavenand
cockedhatsgrewingardens.Mrs.Whifflerwillneverceasetorecollectthelast
dayoftheoldyearaslongasshelives,foritwasonthatdaythatthebabyhad
thefourredspotsonitsnosewhichtheytookformeasles:norChristmas-day,
fortwenty-onedaysafterChristmas-daythetwinswereborn;norGoodFriday,
foritwasonaGoodFridaythatshewasfrightenedbythedonkey-cartwhenshe
wasinthefamilywaywithGeorgiana.Themovablefeastshavenomotionfor
Mr.andMrs.Whiffler,butremainpinneddowntightandfasttotheshouldersof
somesmallchild,fromwhomtheycanneverbeseparatedanymore.Timewas
made,accordingtotheircreed,notforslavesbutforgirlsandboys;therestless
sandsinhisglassarebutlittlechildrenatplay.
TheCouplewhoDoteupontheirChildren
Aswehavealreadyintimated,thechildrenofthiscouplecanknownomedium.
Theyareeitherprodigiesofgoodhealthorprodigiesofbadhealth;whatever
theyare,theymustbeprodigies.Mr.Whifflermusthavetodescribeathisoffice
suchexcruciatingagoniesconstantlyundergonebyhiseldestboy,asnobody
else’seldestboyeverunderwent;orhemustbeabletodeclarethattherenever
wasachildendowedwithsuchamazinghealth,suchanindomitable


constitution,andsuchacast-ironframe,ashischild.Hischildrenmustbe,in
somerespectorother,aboveandbeyondthechildrenofallotherpeople.To
suchanextentisthisfeelingpushed,thatwewereonceslightlyacquaintedwith
aladyandgentlemanwhocarriedtheirheadssohighandbecamesoproudafter
theiryoungestchildfelloutofatwo-pair-of-stairswindowwithouthurting
himselfmuch,thatthegreaterpartoftheirfriendswereobligedtoforegotheir
acquaintance.Butperhapsthismaybeanextremecase,andonenotjustly
entitledtobeconsideredasaprecedentofgeneralapplication.
Ifafriendhappentodineinafriendlywaywithoneofthesecoupleswhodote
upontheirchildren,itisnearlyimpossibleforhimtodiverttheconversation
fromtheirfavouritetopic.EverythingremindsMr.WhifflerofNed,orMrs.
WhifflerofMaryAnne,orofthetimebeforeNedwasborn,orthetimebefore
MaryAnnewasthoughtof.Theslightestremark,howeverharmlessinitself,
willawakenslumberingrecollectionsofthetwins.Itisimpossibletosteerclear
ofthem.Theywillcomeuppermost,letthepoormandowhathemay.Nedhas
beenknowntobelostsightofforhalfanhour,Dickhasbeenforgotten,the
nameofMaryAnnehasnotbeenmentioned,butthetwinswillout.Nothingcan
keepdownthetwins.
‘It’saveryextraordinarything,Saunders,’saysMr.Whifflertothevisitor,‘but
—youhaveseenourlittlebabies,the—the—twins?’Thefriend’sheartsinks
withinhimasheanswers,‘Oh,yes—often.’‘YourtalkingofthePyramids,’
saysMr.Whiffler,quiteasamatterofcourse,‘remindsmeofthetwins.It’sa
veryextraordinarythingaboutthosebabies—whatcolourshouldyousaytheir
eyeswere?’‘Uponmyword,’thefriendstammers,‘Ihardlyknowhowto
answer’—thefactbeing,thatexceptasthefrienddoesnotremembertohave
heardofanydeparturefromtheordinarycourseofnatureintheinstanceofthese
twins,theymighthavenoeyesatallforaughthehasobservedtothecontrary.
‘Youwouldn’tsaytheywerered,Isuppose?’saysMr.Whiffler.Thefriend
hesitates,andratherthinkstheyare;butinferringfromtheexpressionofMr.
Whiffler’sfacethatredisnotthecolour,smileswithsomeconfidence,andsays,
‘No,no!verydifferentfromthat.’‘Whatshouldyousaytoblue?’saysMr.
Whiffler.Thefriendglancesathim,andobservingadifferentexpressioninhis
face,venturestosay,‘Ishouldsaytheywereblue—adecidedblue.’‘Tobe
sure!’criesMr.Whiffler,triumphantly,‘Iknewyouwould!Butwhatshould
yousayifIwastotellyouthattheboy’seyesareblueandthegirl’shazel,eh?’
‘Impossible!’exclaimsthefriend,notatallknowingwhyitshouldbe
impossible.‘Afact,notwithstanding,’criesMr.Whiffler;‘andletmetellyou,


Saunders,that’snotacommonthingintwins,oracircumstancethat’llhappen
everyday.’
InthisdialogueMrs.Whiffler,asbeingdeeplyresponsibleforthetwins,their
charmsandsingularities,hastakennoshare;butshenowrelates,inbroken
English,awitticismoflittleDick’sbearinguponthesubjectjustdiscussed,
whichdelightsMr.Whifflerbeyondmeasure,andcauseshimtodeclarethathe
wouldhaveswornthatwasDick’sifhehadhearditanywhere.Thenherequests
thatMrs.WhifflerwilltellSaunderswhatTomsaidaboutmadbulls;andMrs.
Whifflerrelatingtheanecdote,adiscussionensuesuponthedifferentcharacter
ofTom’switandDick’swit,fromwhichitappearsthatDick’shumourisofa
livelyturn,whileTom’sstyleisthedryandcaustic.Thisdiscussionbeing
enlivenedbyvariousillustrations,lastsalongtime,andisonlystoppedbyMrs.
Whifflerinstructingthefootmantoringthenurserybell,asthechildrenwere
promisedthattheyshouldcomedownandtastethepudding.
Thefriendturnspalewhenthisorderisgiven,andpalerstillwhenitisfollowed
upbyagreatpatteringonthestaircase,(notunlikethesoundofrainupona
skylight,)aviolentburstingopenofthedining-roomdoor,andthetumultuous
appearanceofsixsmallchildren,closelysucceededbyastrongnursery-maid
withatwinineacharm.Asthewholeeightarescreaming,shouting,orkicking
—someinfluencedbyaravenousappetite,somebyahorrorofthestranger,and
somebyaconflictofthetwofeelings—aprettylongspaceelapsesbeforeall
theirheadscanberangedroundthetableandanythinglikeorderrestored;in
bringingaboutwhichhappystateofthingsboththenurseandfootmanare
severelyscratched.AtlengthMrs.Whifflerisheardtosay,‘Mr.Saunders,shall
Igiveyousomepudding?’Abreathlesssilenceensues,andsixteensmalleyes
arefixedupontheguestinexpectationofhisreply.Awildshoutofjoy
proclaimsthathehassaid‘No,thankyou.’Spoonsarewavedintheair,legs
appearabovethetable-clothinuncontrollableecstasy,andeightyshortfingers
dabbleindamsonsyrup.
Whilethepuddingisbeingdisposedof,Mr.andMrs.Whifflerlookonwith
beamingcountenances,andMr.WhifflernudginghisfriendSaunders,begshim
totakenoticeofTom’seyes,orDick’schin,orNed’snose,orMaryAnne’shair,
orEmily’sfigure,orlittleBob’scalves,orFanny’smouth,orCarry’shead,as
thecasemaybe.WhatevertheattentionofMr.Saundersiscalledto,Mr.
Saundersadmiresofcourse;thoughheisratherconfusedaboutthesexofthe
youngestbranchesandlooksatthewrongchildren,turningtoagirlwhenMr.
Whifflerdirectshisattentiontoaboy,andfallingintoraptureswithaboywhen


heoughttobeenchantedwithagirl.Thenthedessertcomes,andthereisavast
dealofscramblingafterfruit,andsuddenspirtingforthofjuiceoutoftight
orangesintoinfanteyes,andmuchscreechingandwailinginconsequence.At
lengthitbecomestimeforMrs.Whifflertoretire,andallthechildrenareby
forceofarmscompelledtokissandloveMr.Saundersbeforegoingup-stairs,
exceptTom,who,lyingonhisbackinthehall,proclaimsthatMr.Saunders‘isa
naughtybeast;’andDick,whohavingdrunkhisfather’swinewhenhewas
lookinganotherway,isfoundtobeintoxicatedandiscarriedout,verylimpand
helpless.
Mr.Whifflerandhisfriendareleftalonetogether,butMr.Whiffler’sthoughts
arestillwithhisfamily,ifhisfamilyarenotwithhim.‘Saunders,’sayshe,after
ashortsilence,‘ifyouplease,we’lldrinkMrs.Whifflerandthechildren.’Mr.
Saundersfeelsthistobeareproachagainsthimselffornotproposingthesame
sentiment,anddrinksitinsomeconfusion.‘Ah!’Mr.Whifflersighs,‘these
children,Saunders,makeonequiteanoldman.’Mr.Saundersthinksthatifthey
werehis,theywouldmakehimaveryoldman;buthesaysnothing.‘Andyet,’
pursuesMr.Whiffler,‘whatcanequaldomestichappiness?whatcanequalthe
engagingwaysofchildren!Saunders,whydon’tyougetmarried?’Now,thisis
anembarrassingquestion,becauseMr.Saundershasbeenthinkingthatifhehad
atanytimeentertainedmatrimonialdesigns,therevelationofthatdaywould
surelyhaveroutedthemforever.‘Iamglad,however,’saysMr.Whiffler,‘that
youareabachelor,—gladononeaccount,Saunders;aselfishone,Iadmit.Will
youdoMrs.Whifflerandmyselfafavour?’Mr.Saundersissurprised—
evidentlysurprised;buthereplies,‘withthegreatestpleasure.’‘Then,willyou,
Saunders,’saysMr.Whiffler,inanimpressivemanner,‘willyoucementand
consolidateourfriendshipbycomingintothefamily(sotospeak)asa
godfather?’‘Ishallbeproudanddelighted,’repliesMr.Saunders:‘whichofthe
childrenisit?really,Ithoughttheywereallchristened;or—’‘Saunders,’Mr.
Whifflerinterposes,‘theyareallchristened;youareright.Thefactis,thatMrs.
Whiffleris—inshort,weexpectanother.’‘Notaninth!’criesthefriend,all
aghastattheidea.‘Yes,Saunders,’rejoinsMr.Whiffler,solemnly,‘aninth.Did
wedrinkMrs.Whiffler’shealth?Letusdrinkitagain,Saunders,andwishher
welloverit!’
DoctorJohnsonusedtotellastoryofamanwhohadbutoneidea,whichwasa
wrongone.Thecouplewhodoteupontheirchildrenareinthesame
predicament:athomeorabroad,atalltimes,andinallplaces,theirthoughtsare
boundupinthisonesubject,andhavenospherebeyond.Theyrelatetheclever


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