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    Sketches of Young Couples

    by Charles Dickens
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    SKETCHES OF YOUNG COUPLES

    AN URGENT REMONSTRANCE, &c

    TO THE GENTLEMEN OF ENGLAND,

    (BEING BACHELORS OR WIDOWERS,)

    THE REMONSTRANCE OF THEIR FAITHFUL FELLOW-SUBJECT,

    SHEWETH,-

    THAT Her Most Gracious Majesty, Victoria, by the Grace of God of
    the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of
    the Faith, did, on the 23rd day of November last past, declare and
    pronounce to Her Most Honourable Privy Council, Her Majesty's Most
    Gracious intention of entering into the bonds of wedlock.

    THAT Her Most Gracious Majesty, in so making known Her Most
    Gracious intention to Her Most Honourable Privy Council as
    aforesaid, did use and employ the words--'It is my intention to
    ally myself in marriage with Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg and
    Gotha.'

    THAT the present is Bissextile, or Leap Year, in which it is held
    and considered lawful for any lady to offer and submit proposals of
    marriage to any gentleman, and to enforce and insist upon
    acceptance of the same, under pain of a certain fine or penalty; to
    wit, one silk or satin dress of the first quality, to be chosen by
    the lady and paid (or owed) for, by the gentleman.

    THAT these and other the horrors and dangers with which the said
    Bissextile, or Leap Year, threatens the gentlemen of England on
    every occasion of its periodical return, have been greatly
    aggravated and augmented by the terms of Her Majesty's said Most
    Gracious communication, which have filled the heads of divers young
    ladies in this Realm with certain new ideas destructive to the
    peace of mankind, that never entered their imagination before.

    THAT a case has occurred in Camberwell, in which a young lady
    informed her Papa that 'she intended to ally herself in marriage'
    with Mr. Smith of Stepney; and that another, and a very distressing
    case, has occurred at Tottenham, in which a young lady not only
    stated her intention of allying herself in marriage with her cousin
    John, but, taking violent possession of her said cousin, actually
    married him.

    THAT similar outrages are of constant occurrence, not only in the
    capital and its neighbourhood, but throughout the kingdom, and that
    unless the excited female populace be speedily checked and
    restrained in their lawless proceedings, most deplorable results
    must ensue therefrom; among which may be anticipated a most
    alarming increase in the population of the country, with which no
    efforts of the agricultural or manufacturing interest can possibly
    keep pace.

    THAT there is strong reason to suspect the existence of a most
    extensive plot, conspiracy, or design, secretly contrived by vast
    numbers of single ladies in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
    Ireland, and now extending its ramifications in every quarter of
    the land; the object and intent of which plainly appears to be the
    holding and solemnising of an enormous and unprecedented number of
    marriages, on the day on which the nuptials of Her said Most
    Gracious Majesty are performed.

    THAT such plot, conspiracy, or design, strongly savours of Popery,
    as tending to the discomfiture of the Clergy of the Established
    Church, by entailing upon them great mental and physical
    exhaustion; and that such Popish plots are fomented and encouraged
    by Her Majesty's Ministers, which clearly appears--not only from
    Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
    traitorously getting married while holding office under the Crown;
    but from Mr. O'Connell having been heard to declare and avow that,
    if he had a daughter to marry, she should be married on the same
    day as Her said Most Gracious Majesty.

    THAT such arch plots, conspiracies, and designs, besides being
    fraught with danger to the Established Church, and (consequently)
    to the State, cannot fail to bring ruin and bankruptcy upon a large
    class of Her Majesty's subjects; as a great and sudden increase in
    the number of married men occasioning the comparative desertion
    (for a time) of Taverns, Hotels, Billiard-rooms, and Gaming-Houses,
    will deprive the Proprietors of their accustomed profits and
    returns. And in further proof of the depth and baseness of such
    designs, it may be here observed, that all proprietors of Taverns,
    Hotels, Billiard-rooms, and Gaming-Houses, are (especially the
    last) solemnly devoted to the Protestant religion.

    FOR all these reasons, and many others of no less gravity and
    import, an urgent appeal is made to the gentlemen of England (being
    bachelors or widowers) to take immediate steps for convening a
    Public meeting; To consider of the best and surest means of
    averting the dangers with which they are threatened by the
    recurrence of Bissextile, or Leap Year, and the additional
    sensation created among single ladies by the terms of Her Majesty's
    Most Gracious Declaration; To take measures, without delay, for
    resisting the said single Ladies, and counteracting their evil
    designs; And to pray Her Majesty to dismiss her present Ministers,
    and to summon to her Councils those distinguished Gentlemen in
    various Honourable Professions who, by insulting on all occasions
    the only Lady in England who can be insulted with safety, have
    given a sufficient guarantee to Her Majesty's Loving Subjects that
    they, at least, are qualified to make war with women, and are
    already expert in the use of those weapons which are common to the
    lowest and most abandoned of the sex.

    THE YOUNG COUPLE

    There is to be a wedding this morning at the corner house in the
    terrace. The pastry-cook's people have been there half-a-dozen
    times already; all day yesterday there was a great stir and bustle,
    and they were up this morning as soon as it was light. Miss Emma
    Fielding is going to be married to young Mr. Harvey.

    Heaven alone can tell in what bright colours this marriage is
    painted upon the mind of the little housemaid at number six, who
    has hardly slept a wink all night with thinking of it, and now
    stands on the unswept door-steps leaning upon her broom, and
    looking wistfully towards the enchanted house. Nothing short of
    omniscience can divine what visions of the baker, or the green-
    grocer, or the smart and most insinuating butterman, are flitting
    across her mind--what thoughts of how she would dress on such an
    occasion, if she were a lady--of how she would dress, if she were
    only a bride--of how cook would dress, being bridesmaid, conjointly
    with her sister 'in place' at Fulham, and how the clergyman,
    deeming them so many ladies, would be quite humbled and respectful.
    What day-dreams of hope and happiness--of life being one perpetual
    holiday, with no master and no mistress to grant or withhold it--of
    every Sunday being a Sunday out--of pure freedom as to curls and
    ringlets, and no obligation to hide fine heads of hair in caps--
    what pictures of happiness, vast and immense to her, but utterly
    ridiculous to us, bewilder the brain of the little housemaid at
    number six, all called into existence by the wedding at the corner!

    We smile at such things, and so we should, though perhaps for a
    better reason than commonly presents itself. It should be pleasant
    to us to know that there are notions of happiness so moderate and
    limited, since upon those who entertain them, happiness and
    lightness of heart are very easily bestowed.

    But the little housemaid is awakened from her reverie, for forth
    from the door of the magical corner house there runs towards her,
    all fluttering in smart new dress and streaming ribands, her friend
    Jane Adams, who comes all out of breath to redeem a solemn promise
    of taking her in, under cover of the confusion, to see the
    breakfast table spread forth in state, and--sight of sights!--her
    young mistress ready dressed for church.

    And there, in good truth, when they have stolen up-stairs on tip-
    toe and edged themselves in at the chamber-door--there is Miss Emma
    'looking like the sweetest picter,' in a white chip bonnet and
    orange flowers, and all other elegancies becoming a bride, (with
    the make, shape, and quality of every article of which the girl is
    perfectly familiar in one moment, and never forgets to her dying
    day)--and there is Miss Emma's mamma in tears, and Miss Emma's papa
    comforting her, and saying how that of course she has been long
    looking forward to this, and how happy she ought to be--and there
    too is Miss Emma's sister with her arms round her neck, and the
    other bridesmaid all smiles and tears, quieting the children, who
    would cry more but that they are so finely dressed, and yet sob for
    fear sister Emma should be taken away--and it is all so affecting,
    that the two servant-girls cry more than anybody; and Jane Adams,
    sitting down upon the stairs, when they have crept away, declares
    that her legs tremble so that she don't know what to do, and that
    she will say for Miss Emma, that she never had a hasty word from
    her, and that she does hope and pray she may be happy.

    But Jane soon comes round again, and then surely there never was
    anything like the breakfast table, glittering with plate and china,
    and set out with flowers and sweets, and long-necked bottles, in
    the most sumptuous and dazzling manner. In the centre, too, is the
    mighty charm, the cake, glistening with frosted sugar, and
    garnished beautifully. They agree that there ought to be a little
    Cupid under one of the barley-sugar temples, or at least two hearts
    and an arrow; but, with this exception, there is nothing to wish
    for, and a table could not be handsomer. As they arrive at this
    conclusion, who should come in but Mr. John! to whom Jane says that
    its only Anne from number six; and John says HE knows, for he's
    often winked his eye down the area, which causes Anne to blush and
    look confused. She is going away, indeed; when Mr. John will have
    it that she must drink a glass of wine, and he says never mind it's
    being early in the morning, it won't hurt her: so they shut the
    door and pour out the wine; and Anne drinking lane's health, and
    adding, 'and here's wishing you yours, Mr. John,' drinks it in a
    great many sips,--Mr. John all the time making jokes appropriate to
    the occasion. At last Mr. John, who has waxed bolder by degrees,
    pleads the usage at weddings, and claims the privilege of a kiss,
    which he obtains after a great scuffle; and footsteps being now
    heard on the stairs, they disperse suddenly.

    By this time a carriage has driven up to convey the bride to
    church, and Anne of number six prolonging the process of 'cleaning
    her door,' has the satisfaction of beholding the bride and
    bridesmaids, and the papa and mamma, hurry into the same and drive
    rapidly off. Nor is this all, for soon other carriages begin to
    arrive with a posse of company all beautifully dressed, at whom she
    could stand and gaze for ever; but having something else to do, is
    compelled to take one last long look and shut the street-door.

    And now the company have gone down to breakfast, and tears have
    given place to smiles, for all the corks are out of the long-necked
    bottles, and their contents are disappearing rapidly. Miss Emma's
    papa is at the top of the table; Miss Emma's mamma at the bottom;
    and beside the latter are Miss Emma herself and her husband,--
    admitted on all hands to be the handsomest and most interesting
    young couple ever known. All down both sides of the table, too,
    are various young ladies, beautiful to see, and various young
    gentlemen who seem to think so; and there, in a post of honour, is
    an unmarried aunt of Miss Emma's, reported to possess unheard-of
    riches, and to have expressed vast testamentary intentions
    respecting her favourite niece and new nephew. This lady has been
    very liberal and generous already, as the jewels worn by the bride
    abundantly testify, but that is nothing to what she means to do, or
    even to what she has done, for she put herself in close
    communication with the dressmaker three months ago, and prepared a
    wardrobe (with some articles worked by her own hands) fit for a
    Princess. People may call her an old maid, and so she may be, but
    she is neither cross nor ugly for all that; on the contrary, she is
    very cheerful and pleasant-looking, and very kind and tender-
    hearted: which is no matter of surprise except to those who yield
    to popular prejudices without thinking why, and will never grow
    wiser and never know better.

    Of all the company though, none are more pleasant to behold or
    better pleased with themselves than two young children, who, in
    honour of the day, have seats among the guests. Of these, one is a
    little fellow of six or eight years old, brother to the bride,--and
    the other a girl of the same age, or something younger, whom he
    calls 'his wife.' The real bride and bridegroom are not more
    devoted than they: he all love and attention, and she all blushes
    and fondness, toying with a little bouquet which he gave her this
    morning, and placing the scattered rose-leaves in her bosom with
    nature's own coquettishness. They have dreamt of each other in
    their quiet dreams, these children, and their little hearts have
    been nearly broken when the absent one has been dispraised in jest.
    When will there come in after-life a passion so earnest, generous,
    and true as theirs; what, even in its gentlest realities, can have
    the grace and charm that hover round such fairy lovers!

    By this time the merriment and happiness of the feast have gained
    their height; certain ominous looks begin to be exchanged between
    the bridesmaids, and somehow it gets whispered about that the
    carriage which is to take the young couple into the country has
    arrived. Such members of the party as are most disposed to prolong
    its enjoyments, affect to consider this a false alarm, but it turns
    out too true, being speedily confirmed, first by the retirement of
    the bride and a select file of intimates who are to prepare her for
    the journey, and secondly by the withdrawal of the ladies
    generally. To this there ensues a particularly awkward pause, in
    which everybody essays to be facetious, and nobody succeeds; at
    length the bridegroom makes a mysterious disappearance in obedience
    to some equally mysterious signal; and the table is deserted.

    Now, for at least six weeks last past it has been solemnly devised
    and settled that the young couple should go away in secret; but
    they no sooner appear without the door than the drawing-room
    windows are blocked up with ladies waving their handkerchiefs and
    kissing their hands, and the dining-room panes with gentlemen's
    faces beaming farewell in every queer variety of its expression.
    The hall and steps are crowded with servants in white favours,
    mixed up with particular friends and relations who have darted out
    to say good-bye; and foremost in the group are the tiny lovers arm
    in arm, thinking, with fluttering hearts, what happiness it would
    be to dash away together in that gallant coach, and never part
    again.

    The bride has barely time for one hurried glance at her old home,
    when the steps rattle, the door slams, the horses clatter on the
    pavement, and they have left it far away.

    A knot of women servants still remain clustered in the hall,
    whispering among themselves, and there of course is Anne from
    number six, who has made another escape on some plea or other, and
    been an admiring witness of the departure. There are two points on
    which Anne expatiates over and over again, without the smallest
    appearance of fatigue or intending to leave off; one is, that she
    'never see in all her life such a--oh such a angel of a gentleman
    as Mr. Harvey'--and the other, that she 'can't tell how it is, but
    it don't seem a bit like a work-a-day, or a Sunday neither--it's
    all so unsettled and unregular.'

    THE FORMAL COUPLE

    The formal couple are the most prim, cold, immovable, and
    unsatisfactory people on the face of the earth. Their faces,
    voices, dress, house, furniture, walk, and manner, are all the
    essence of formality, unrelieved by one redeeming touch of
    frankness, heartiness, or nature.

    Everything with the formal couple resolves itself into a matter of
    form. They don't call upon you on your account, but their own; not
    to see how you are, but to show how they are: it is not a ceremony
    to do honour to you, but to themselves,--not due to your position,
    but to theirs. If one of a friend's children die, the formal
    couple are as sure and punctual in sending to the house as the
    undertaker; if a friend's family be increased, the monthly nurse is
    not more attentive than they. The formal couple, in fact, joyfully
    seize all occasions of testifying their good-breeding and precise
    observance of the little usages of society; and for you, who are
    the means to this end, they care as much as a man does for the
    tailor who has enabled him to cut a figure, or a woman for the
    milliner who has assisted her to a conquest.

    Having an extensive connexion among that kind of people who make
    acquaintances and eschew friends, the formal gentleman attends from
    time to time a great many funerals, to which he is formally
    invited, and to which he formally goes, as returning a call for the
    last time. Here his deportment is of the most faultless
    description; he knows the exact pitch of voice it is proper to
    assume, the sombre look he ought to wear, the melancholy tread
    which should be his gait for the day. He is perfectly acquainted
    with all the dreary courtesies to be observed in a mourning-coach;
    knows when to sigh, and when to hide his nose in the white
    handkerchief; and looks into the grave and shakes his head when the
    ceremony is concluded, with the sad formality of a mute.

    'What kind of funeral was it?' says the formal lady, when he
    returns home. 'Oh!' replies the formal gentleman, 'there never was
    such a gross and disgusting impropriety; there were no feathers.'
    'No feathers!' cries the lady, as if on wings of black feathers
    dead people fly to Heaven, and, lacking them, they must of
    necessity go elsewhere. Her husband shakes his head; and further
    adds, that they had seed-cake instead of plum-cake, and that it was
    all white wine. 'All white wine!' exclaims his wife. 'Nothing but
    sherry and madeira,' says the husband. 'What! no port?' 'Not a
    drop.' No port, no plums, and no feathers! 'You will recollect,
    my dear,' says the formal lady, in a voice of stately reproof,
    'that when we first met this poor man who is now dead and gone, and
    he took that very strange course of addressing me at dinner without
    being previously introduced, I ventured to express my opinion that
    the family were quite ignorant of etiquette, and very imperfectly
    acquainted with the decencies of life. You have now had a good
    opportunity of judging for yourself, and all I have to say is, that
    I trust you will never go to a funeral THERE again.' 'My dear,'
    replies the formal gentleman, 'I never will.' So the informal
    deceased is cut in his grave; and the formal couple, when they tell
    the story of the funeral, shake their heads, and wonder what some
    people's feelings ARE made of, and what their notions of propriety
    CAN be!

    If the formal couple have a family (which they sometimes have),
    they are not children, but little, pale, sour, sharp-nosed men and
    women; and so exquisitely brought up, that they might be very old
    dwarfs for anything that appeareth to the contrary. Indeed, they
    are so acquainted with forms and conventionalities, and conduct
    themselves with such strict decorum, that to see the little girl
    break a looking-glass in some wild outbreak, or the little boy kick
    his parents, would be to any visitor an unspeakable relief and
    consolation.

    The formal couple are always sticklers for what is rigidly proper,
    and have a great readiness in detecting hidden impropriety of
    speech or thought, which by less scrupulous people would be wholly
    unsuspected. Thus, if they pay a visit to the theatre, they sit
    all night in a perfect agony lest anything improper or immoral
    should proceed from the stage; and if anything should happen to be
    said which admits of a double construction, they never fail to take
    it up directly, and to express by their looks the great outrage
    which their feelings have sustained. Perhaps this is their chief
    reason for absenting themselves almost entirely from places of
    public amusement. They go sometimes to the Exhibition of the Royal
    Academy;--but that is often more shocking than the stage itself,
    and the formal lady thinks that it really is high time Mr. Etty was
    prosecuted and made a public example of.

    We made one at a christening party not long since, where there were
    amongst the guests a formal couple, who suffered the acutest
    torture from certain jokes, incidental to such an occasion, cut--
    and very likely dried also--by one of the godfathers; a red-faced
    elderly gentleman, who, being highly popular with the rest of the
    company, had it all his own way, and was in great spirits. It was
    at supper-time that this gentleman came out in full force. We--
    being of a grave and quiet demeanour--had been chosen to escort the
    formal lady down-stairs, and, sitting beside her, had a favourable
    opportunity of observing her emotions.

    We have a shrewd suspicion that, in the very beginning, and in the
    first blush--literally the first blush--of the matter, the formal
    lady had not felt quite certain whether the being present at such a
    ceremony, and encouraging, as it were, the public exhibition of a
    baby, was not an act involving some degree of indelicacy and
    impropriety; but certain we are that when that baby's health was
    drunk, and allusions were made, by a grey-headed gentleman
    proposing it, to the time when he had dandled in his arms the young
    Christian's mother,--certain we are that then the formal lady took
    the alarm, and recoiled from the old gentleman as from a hoary
    profligate. Still she bore it; she fanned herself with an
    indignant air, but still she bore it. A comic song was sung,
    involving a confession from some imaginary gentleman that he had
    kissed a female, and yet the formal lady bore it. But when at
    last, the health of the godfather before-mentioned being drunk, the
    godfather rose to return thanks, and in the course of his
    observations darkly hinted at babies yet unborn, and even
    contemplated the possibility of the subject of that festival having
    brothers and sisters, the formal lady could endure no more, but,
    bowing slightly round, and sweeping haughtily past the offender,
    left the room in tears, under the protection of the formal
    gentleman.

    THE LOVING COUPLE

    There cannot be a better practical illustration of the wise saw and
    ancient instance, that there may be too much of a good thing, than
    is presented by a loving couple. Undoubtedly it is meet and proper
    that two persons joined together in holy matrimony should be
    loving, and unquestionably it is pleasant to know and see that they
    are so; but there is a time for all things, and the couple who
    happen to be always in a loving state before company, are well-nigh
    intolerable.

    And in taking up this position we would have it distinctly
    understood that we do not seek alone the sympathy of bachelors, in
    whose objection to loving couples we recognise interested motives
    and personal considerations. We grant that to that unfortunate
    class of society there may be something very irritating,
    tantalising, and provoking, in being compelled to witness those
    gentle endearments and chaste interchanges which to loving couples
    are quite the ordinary business of life. But while we recognise
    the natural character of the prejudice to which these unhappy men
    are subject, we can neither receive their biassed evidence, nor
    address ourself to their inflamed and angered minds. Dispassionate
    experience is our only guide; and in these moral essays we seek no
    less to reform hymeneal offenders than to hold out a timely warning
    to all rising couples, and even to those who have not yet set forth
    upon their pilgrimage towards the matrimonial market.

    Let all couples, present or to come, therefore profit by the
    example of Mr. and Mrs. Leaver, themselves a loving couple in the
    first degree.

    Mr. and Mrs. Leaver are pronounced by Mrs. Starling, a widow lady
    who lost her husband when she was young, and lost herself about the
    same-time--for by her own count she has never since grown five
    years older--to be a perfect model of wedded felicity. 'You would
    suppose,' says the romantic lady, 'that they were lovers only just
    now engaged. Never was such happiness! They are so tender, so
    affectionate, so attached to each other, so enamoured, that
    positively nothing can be more charming!'

    'Augusta, my soul,' says Mr. Leaver. 'Augustus, my life,' replies
    Mrs. Leaver. 'Sing some little ballad, darling,' quoth Mr. Leaver.
    'I couldn't, indeed, dearest,' returns Mrs. Leaver. 'Do, my dove,'
    says Mr. Leaver. 'I couldn't possibly, my love,' replies Mrs.
    Leaver; 'and it's very naughty of you to ask me.' 'Naughty,
    darling!' cries Mr. Leaver. 'Yes, very naughty, and very cruel,'
    returns Mrs. Leaver, 'for you know I have a sore throat, and that
    to sing would give me great pain. You're a monster, and I hate
    you. Go away!' Mrs. Leaver has said 'go away,' because Mr. Leaver
    has tapped her under the chin: Mr. Leaver not doing as he is bid,
    but on the contrary, sitting down beside her, Mrs. Leaver slaps Mr.
    Leaver; and Mr. Leaver in return slaps Mrs. Leaver, and it being
    now time for all persons present to look the other way, they look
    the other way, and hear a still small sound as of kissing, at which
    Mrs. Starling is thoroughly enraptured, and whispers her neighbour
    that if all married couples were like that, what a heaven this
    earth would be!

    The loving couple are at home when this occurs, and maybe only
    three or four friends are present, but, unaccustomed to reserve
    upon this interesting point, they are pretty much the same abroad.
    Indeed upon some occasions, such as a pic-nic or a water-party,
    their lovingness is even more developed, as we had an opportunity
    last summer of observing in person.

    There was a great water-party made up to go to Twickenham and dine,
    and afterwards dance in an empty villa by the river-side, hired
    expressly for the purpose. Mr. and Mrs. Leaver were of the
    company; and it was our fortune to have a seat in the same boat,
    which was an eight-oared galley, manned by amateurs, with a blue
    striped awning of the same pattern as their Guernsey shirts, and a
    dingy red flag of the same shade as the whiskers of the stroke oar.
    A coxswain being appointed, and all other matters adjusted, the
    eight gentlemen threw themselves into strong paroxysms, and pulled
    up with the tide, stimulated by the compassionate remarks of the
    ladies, who one and all exclaimed, that it seemed an immense
    exertion--as indeed it did. At first we raced the other boat,
    which came alongside in gallant style; but this being found an
    unpleasant amusement, as giving rise to a great quantity of
    splashing, and rendering the cold pies and other viands very moist,
    it was unanimously voted down, and we were suffered to shoot a-
    head, while the second boat followed ingloriously in our wake.

    It was at this time that we first recognised Mr. Leaver. There
    were two firemen-watermen in the boat, lying by until somebody was
    exhausted; and one of them, who had taken upon himself the
    direction of affairs, was heard to cry in a gruff voice, 'Pull
    away, number two--give it her, number two--take a longer reach,
    number two--now, number two, sir, think you're winning a boat.'
    The greater part of the company had no doubt begun to wonder which
    of the striped Guernseys it might be that stood in need of such
    encouragement, when a stifled shriek from Mrs. Leaver confirmed the
    doubtful and informed the ignorant; and Mr. Leaver, still further
    disguised in a straw hat and no neckcloth, was observed to be in a
    fearful perspiration, and failing visibly. Nor was the general
    consternation diminished at this instant by the same gentleman (in
    the performance of an accidental aquatic feat, termed 'catching a
    crab') plunging suddenly backward, and displaying nothing of
    himself to the company, but two violently struggling legs. Mrs.
    Leaver shrieked again several times, and cried piteously--'Is he
    dead? Tell me the worst. Is he dead?'

    Now, a moment's reflection might have convinced the loving wife,
    that unless her husband were endowed with some most surprising
    powers of muscular action, he never could be dead while he kicked
    so hard; but still Mrs. Leaver cried, 'Is he dead? is he dead?' and
    still everybody else cried--'No, no, no,' until such time as Mr.
    Leaver was replaced in a sitting posture, and his oar (which had
    been going through all kinds of wrong-headed performances on its
    own account) was once more put in his hand, by the exertions of the
    two firemen-watermen. Mr. Leaver then exclaimed, 'Augustus, my
    child, come to me;' and Mr. Leaver said, 'Augusta, my love, compose
    yourself, I am not injured.' But Mrs. Leaver cried again more
    piteously than before, 'Augustus, my child, come to me;' and now
    the company generally, who seemed to be apprehensive that if Mr.
    Leaver remained where he was, he might contribute more than his
    proper share towards the drowning of the party, disinterestedly
    took part with Mrs. Leaver, and said he really ought to go, and
    that he was not strong enough for such violent exercise, and ought
    never to have undertaken it. Reluctantly, Mr. Leaver went, and
    laid himself down at Mrs. Leaver's feet, and Mrs. Leaver stooping
    over him, said, 'Oh Augustus, how could you terrify me so?' and Mr.
    Leaver said, 'Augusta, my sweet, I never meant to terrify you;' and
    Mrs. Leaver said, 'You are faint, my dear;' and Mr. Leaver said, 'I
    am rather so, my love;' and they were very loving indeed under Mrs.
    Leaver's veil, until at length Mr. Leaver came forth again, and
    pleasantly asked if he had not heard something said about bottled
    stout and sandwiches.

    Mrs. Starling, who was one of the party, was perfectly delighted
    with this scene, and frequently murmured half-aside, 'What a loving
    couple you are!' or 'How delightful it is to see man and wife so
    happy together!' To us she was quite poetical, (for we are a kind
    of cousins,) observing that hearts beating in unison like that made
    life a paradise of sweets; and that when kindred creatures were
    drawn together by sympathies so fine and delicate, what more than
    mortal happiness did not our souls partake! To all this we
    answered 'Certainly,' or 'Very true,' or merely sighed, as the case
    might be. At every new act of the loving couple, the widow's
    admiration broke out afresh; and when Mrs. Leaver would not permit
    Mr. Leaver to keep his hat off, lest the sun should strike to his
    head, and give him a brain fever, Mrs. Starling actually shed
    tears, and said it reminded her of Adam and Eve.

    The loving couple were thus loving all the way to Twickenham, but
    when we arrived there (by which time the amateur crew looked very
    thirsty and vicious) they were more playful than ever, for Mrs.
    Leaver threw stones at Mr. Leaver, and Mr. Leaver ran after Mrs.
    Leaver on the grass, in a most innocent and enchanting manner. At
    dinner, too, Mr. Leaver WOULD steal Mrs. Leaver's tongue, and Mrs.
    Leaver WOULD retaliate upon Mr. Leaver's fowl; and when Mrs. Leaver
    was going to take some lobster salad, Mr. Leaver wouldn't let her
    have any, saying that it made her ill, and she was always sorry for
    it afterwards, which afforded Mrs. Leaver an opportunity of
    pretending to be cross, and showing many other prettinesses. But
    this was merely the smiling surface of their loves, not the mighty
    depths of the stream, down to which the company, to say the truth,
    dived rather unexpectedly, from the following accident. It chanced
    that Mr. Leaver took upon himself to propose the bachelors who had
    first originated the notion of that entertainment, in doing which,
    he affected to regret that he was no longer of their body himself,
    and pretended grievously to lament his fallen state. This Mrs.
    Leaver's feelings could not brook, even in jest, and consequently,
    exclaiming aloud, 'He loves me not, he loves me not!' she fell in a
    very pitiable state into the arms of Mrs. Starling, and, directly
    becoming insensible, was conveyed by that lady and her husband into
    another room. Presently Mr. Leaver came running back to know if
    there was a medical gentleman in company, and as there was, (in
    what company is there not?) both Mr. Leaver and the medical
    gentleman hurried away together.

    The medical gentleman was the first who returned, and among his
    intimate friends he was observed to laugh and wink, and look as
    unmedical as might be; but when Mr. Leaver came back he was very
    solemn, and in answer to all inquiries, shook his head, and
    remarked that Augusta was far too sensitive to be trifled with--an
    opinion which the widow subsequently confirmed. Finding that she
    was in no imminent peril, however, the rest of the party betook
    themselves to dancing on the green, and very merry and happy they
    were, and a vast quantity of flirtation there was; the last
    circumstance being no doubt attributable, partly to the fineness of
    the weather, and partly to the locality, which is well known to be
    favourable to all harmless recreations.

    In the bustle of the scene, Mr. and Mrs. Leaver stole down to the
    boat, and disposed themselves under the awning, Mrs. Leaver
    reclining her head upon Mr. Leaver's shoulder, and Mr. Leaver
    grasping her hand with great fervour, and looking in her face from
    time to time with a melancholy and sympathetic aspect. The widow
    sat apart, feigning to be occupied with a book, but stealthily
    observing them from behind her fan; and the two firemen-watermen,
    smoking their pipes on the bank hard by, nudged each other, and
    grinned in enjoyment of the joke. Very few of the party missed the
    loving couple; and the few who did, heartily congratulated each
    other on their disappearance.

    THE CONTRADICTORY COUPLE

    One would suppose that two people who are to pass their whole lives
    together, and must necessarily be very often alone with each other,
    could find little pleasure in mutual contradiction; and yet what is
    more common than a contradictory couple?

    The contradictory couple agree in nothing but contradiction. They
    return home from Mrs. Bluebottle's dinner-party, each in an
    opposite corner of the coach, and do not exchange a syllable until
    they have been seated for at least twenty minutes by the fireside
    at home, when the gentleman, raising his eyes from the stove, all
    at once breaks silence:

    'What a very extraordinary thing it is,' says he, 'that you WILL
    contradict, Charlotte!' '_I_ contradict!' cries the lady, 'but
    that's just like you.' 'What's like me?' says the gentleman
    sharply. 'Saying that I contradict you,' replies the lady. 'Do
    you mean to say that you do NOT contradict me?' retorts the
    gentleman; 'do you mean to say that you have not been contradicting
    me the whole of this day?' 'Do you mean to tell me now, that you
    have not? I mean to tell you nothing of the kind,' replies the
    lady quietly; 'when you are wrong, of course I shall contradict
    you.'

    During this dialogue the gentleman has been taking his brandy-and-
    water on one side of the fire, and the lady, with her dressing-case
    on the table, has been curling her hair on the other. She now lets
    down her back hair, and proceeds to brush it; preserving at the
    same time an air of conscious rectitude and suffering virtue, which
    is intended to exasperate the gentleman--and does so.

    'I do believe,' he says, taking the spoon out of his glass, and
    tossing it on the table, 'that of all the obstinate, positive,
    wrong-headed creatures that were ever born, you are the most so,
    Charlotte.' 'Certainly, certainly, have it your own way, pray.
    You see how much _I_ contradict you,' rejoins the lady. 'Of
    course, you didn't contradict me at dinner-time--oh no, not you!'
    says the gentleman. 'Yes, I did,' says the lady. 'Oh, you did,'
    cries the gentleman 'you admit that?' 'If you call that
    contradiction, I do,' the lady answers; 'and I say again, Edward,
    that when I know you are wrong, I will contradict you. I am not
    your slave.' 'Not my slave!' repeats the gentleman bitterly; 'and
    you still mean to say that in the Blackburns' new house there are
    not more than fourteen doors, including the door of the wine-
    cellar!' 'I mean to say,' retorts the lady, beating time with her
    hair-brush on the palm of her hand, 'that in that house there are
    fourteen doors and no more.' 'Well then--' cries the gentleman,
    rising in despair, and pacing the room with rapid strides. 'By G-,
    this is enough to destroy a man's intellect, and drive him mad!'

    By and by the gentleman comes-to a little, and passing his hand
    gloomily across his forehead, reseats himself in his former chair.
    There is a long silence, and this time the lady begins. 'I
    appealed to Mr. Jenkins, who sat next to me on the sofa in the
    drawing-room during tea--' 'Morgan, you mean,' interrupts the
    gentleman. 'I do not mean anything of the kind,' answers the lady.
    'Now, by all that is aggravating and impossible to bear,' cries the
    gentleman, clenching his hands and looking upwards in agony, 'she
    is going to insist upon it that Morgan is Jenkins!' 'Do you take
    me for a perfect fool?' exclaims the lady; 'do you suppose I don't
    know the one from the other? Do you suppose I don't know that the
    man in the blue coat was Mr. Jenkins?' 'Jenkins in a blue coat!'
    cries the gentleman with a groan; 'Jenkins in a blue coat! a man
    who would suffer death rather than wear anything but brown!' 'Do
    you dare to charge me with telling an untruth?' demands the lady,
    bursting into tears. 'I charge you, ma'am,' retorts the gentleman,
    starting up, 'with being a monster of contradiction, a monster of
    aggravation, a--a--a--Jenkins in a blue coat!--what have I done
    that I should be doomed to hear such statements!'

    Expressing himself with great scorn and anguish, the gentleman
    takes up his candle and stalks off to bed, where feigning to be
    fast asleep when the lady comes up-stairs drowned in tears,
    murmuring lamentations over her hard fate and indistinct intentions
    of consulting her brothers, he undergoes the secret torture of
    hearing her exclaim between whiles, 'I know there are only fourteen
    doors in the house, I know it was Mr. Jenkins, I know he had a blue
    coat on, and I would say it as positively as I do now, if they were
    the last words I had to speak!'

    If the contradictory couple are blessed with children, they are not
    the less contradictory on that account. Master James and Miss
    Charlotte present themselves after dinner, and being in perfect
    good humour, and finding their parents in the same amiable state,
    augur from these appearances half a glass of wine a-piece and other
    extraordinary indulgences. But unfortunately Master James, growing
    talkative upon such prospects, asks his mamma how tall Mrs. Parsons
    is, and whether she is not six feet high; to which his mamma
    replies, 'Yes, she should think she was, for Mrs. Parsons is a very
    tall lady indeed; quite a giantess.' 'For Heaven's sake,
    Charlotte,' cries her husband, 'do not tell the child such
    preposterous nonsense. Six feet high!' 'Well,' replies the lady,
    'surely I may be permitted to have an opinion; my opinion is, that
    she is six feet high--at least six feet.' 'Now you know,
    Charlotte,' retorts the gentleman sternly, 'that that is NOT your
    opinion--that you have no such idea--and that you only say this for
    the sake of contradiction.' 'You are exceedingly polite,' his wife
    replies; 'to be wrong about such a paltry question as anybody's
    height, would be no great crime; but I say again, that I believe
    Mrs. Parsons to be six feet--more than six feet; nay, I believe you
    know her to be full six feet, and only say she is not, because I
    say she is.' This taunt disposes the gentleman to become violent,
    but he cheeks himself, and is content to mutter, in a haughty tone,
    'Six feet--ha! ha! Mrs. Parsons six feet!' and the lady answers,
    'Yes, six feet. I am sure I am glad you are amused, and I'll say
    it again--six feet.' Thus the subject gradually drops off, and the
    contradiction begins to be forgotten, when Master James, with some
    undefined notion of making himself agreeable, and putting things to
    rights again, unfortunately asks his mamma what the moon's made of;
    which gives her occasion to say that he had better not ask her, for
    she is always wrong and never can be right; that he only exposes
    her to contradiction by asking any question of her; and that he had
    better ask his papa, who is infallible, and never can be wrong.
    Papa, smarting under this attack, gives a terrible pull at the
    bell, and says, that if the conversation is to proceed in this way,
    the children had better be removed. Removed they are, after a few
    tears and many struggles; and Pa having looked at Ma sideways for a
    minute or two, with a baleful eye, draws his pocket-handkerchief
    over his face, and composes himself for his after-dinner nap.

    The friends of the contradictory couple often deplore their
    frequent disputes, though they rather make light of them at the
    same time: observing, that there is no doubt they are very much
    attached to each other, and that they never quarrel except about
    trifles. But neither the friends of the contradictory couple, nor
    the contradictory couple themselves, reflect, that as the most
    stupendous objects in nature are but vast collections of minute
    particles, so the slightest and least considered trifles make up
    the sum of human happiness or misery.

    THE COUPLE WHO DOTE UPON THEIR CHILDREN

    The couple who dote upon their children have usually a great many
    of them: six or eight at least. The children are either the
    healthiest in all the world, or the most unfortunate in existence.
    In either case, they are equally the theme of their doting parents,
    and equally a source of mental anguish and irritation to their
    doting parents' friends.

    The couple who dote upon their children recognise no dates but
    those connected with their births, accidents, illnesses, or
    remarkable deeds. They keep a mental almanack with a vast number
    of Innocents'-days, all in red letters. They recollect the last
    coronation, because on that day little Tom fell down the kitchen
    stairs; the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, because it was on
    the fifth of November that Ned asked whether wooden legs were made
    in heaven and cocked hats grew in gardens. Mrs. Whiffler will
    never cease to recollect the last day of the old year as long as
    she lives, for it was on that day that the baby had the four red
    spots on its nose which they took for measles: nor Christmas-day,
    for twenty-one days after Christmas-day the twins were born; nor
    Good Friday, for it was on a Good Friday that she was frightened by
    the donkey-cart when she was in the family way with Georgiana. The
    movable feasts have no motion for Mr. and Mrs. Whiffler, but remain
    pinned down tight and fast to the shoulders of some small child,
    from whom they can never be separated any more. Time was made,
    according to their creed, not for slaves but for girls and boys;
    the restless sands in his glass are but little children at play.

    As we have already intimated, the children of this couple can know
    no medium. They are either prodigies of good health or prodigies
    of bad health; whatever they are, they must be prodigies. Mr.
    Whiffler must have to describe at his office such excruciating
    agonies constantly undergone by his eldest boy, as nobody else's
    eldest boy ever underwent; or he must be able to declare that there
    never was a child endowed with such amazing health, such an
    indomitable constitution, and such a cast-iron frame, as his child.
    His children must be, in some respect or other, above and beyond
    the children of all other people. To such an extent is this
    feeling pushed, that we were once slightly acquainted with a lady
    and gentleman who carried their heads so high and became so proud
    after their youngest child fell out of a two-pair-of-stairs window
    without hurting himself much, that the greater part of their
    friends were obliged to forego their acquaintance. But perhaps
    this may be an extreme case, and one not justly entitled to be
    considered as a precedent of general application.

    If a friend happen to dine in a friendly way with one of these
    couples who dote upon their children, it is nearly impossible for
    him to divert the conversation from their favourite topic.
    Everything reminds Mr. Whiffler of Ned, or Mrs. Whiffler of Mary
    Anne, or of the time before Ned was born, or the time before Mary
    Anne was thought of. The slightest remark, however harmless in
    itself, will awaken slumbering recollections of the twins. It is
    impossible to steer clear of them. They will come uppermost, let
    the poor man do what he may. Ned has been known to be lost sight
    of for half an hour, Dick has been forgotten, the name of Mary Anne
    has not been mentioned, but the twins will out. Nothing can keep
    down the twins.

    'It's a very extraordinary thing, Saunders,' says Mr. Whiffler to
    the visitor, 'but--you have seen our little babies, the--the--
    twins?' The friend's heart sinks within him as he answers, 'Oh,
    yes--often.' 'Your talking of the Pyramids,' says Mr. Whiffler,
    quite as a matter of course, 'reminds me of the twins. It's a very
    extraordinary thing about those babies--what colour should you say
    their eyes were?' 'Upon my word,' the friend stammers, 'I hardly
    know how to answer'--the fact being, that except as the friend does
    not remember to have heard of any departure from the ordinary
    course of nature in the instance of these twins, they might have no
    eyes at all for aught he has observed to the contrary. 'You
    wouldn't say they were red, I suppose?' says Mr. Whiffler. The
    friend hesitates, and rather thinks they are; but inferring from
    the expression of Mr. Whiffler's face that red is not the colour,
    smiles with some confidence, and says, 'No, no! very different from
    that.' 'What should you say to blue?' says Mr. Whiffler. The
    friend glances at him, and observing a different expression in his
    face, ventures to say, 'I should say they WERE blue--a decided
    blue.' 'To be sure!' cries Mr. Whiffler, triumphantly, 'I knew you
    would! But what should you say if I was to tell you that the boy's
    eyes are blue and the girl's hazel, eh?' 'Impossible!' exclaims
    the friend, not at all knowing why it should be impossible. 'A
    fact, notwithstanding,' cries Mr. Whiffler; 'and let me tell you,
    Saunders, THAT'S not a common thing in twins, or a circumstance
    that'll happen every day.'

    In this dialogue Mrs. Whiffler, as being deeply responsible for the
    twins, their charms and singularities, has taken no share; but she
    now relates, in broken English, a witticism of little Dick's
    bearing upon the subject just discussed, which delights Mr.
    Whiffler beyond measure, and causes him to declare that he would
    have sworn that was Dick's if he had heard it anywhere. Then he
    requests that Mrs. Whiffler will tell Saunders what Tom said about
    mad bulls; and Mrs. Whiffler relating the anecdote, a discussion
    ensues upon the different character of Tom's wit and Dick's wit,
    from which it appears that Dick's humour is of a lively turn, while
    Tom's style is the dry and caustic. This discussion being
    enlivened by various illustrations, lasts a long time, and is only
    stopped by Mrs. Whiffler instructing the footman to ring the
    nursery bell, as the children were promised that they should come
    down and taste the pudding.

    The friend turns pale when this order is given, and paler still
    when it is followed up by a great pattering on the staircase, (not
    unlike the sound of rain upon a skylight,) a violent bursting open
    of the dining-room door, and the tumultuous appearance of six small
    children, closely succeeded by a strong nursery-maid with a twin in
    each arm. As the whole eight are screaming, shouting, or kicking--
    some influenced by a ravenous appetite, some by a horror of the
    stranger, and some by a conflict of the two feelings--a pretty long
    space elapses before all their heads can be ranged round the table
    and anything like order restored; in bringing about which happy
    state of things both the nurse and footman are severely scratched.
    At length Mrs. Whiffler is heard to say, 'Mr. Saunders, shall I
    give you some pudding?' A breathless silence ensues, and sixteen
    small eyes are fixed upon the guest in expectation of his reply. A
    wild shout of joy proclaims that he has said 'No, thank you.'
    Spoons are waved in the air, legs appear above the table-cloth in
    uncontrollable ecstasy, and eighty short fingers dabble in damson
    syrup.

    While the pudding is being disposed of, Mr. and Mrs. Whiffler look
    on with beaming countenances, and Mr. Whiffler nudging his friend
    Saunders, begs him to take notice of Tom's eyes, or Dick's chin, or
    Ned's nose, or Mary Anne's hair, or Emily's figure, or little Bob's
    calves, or Fanny's mouth, or Carry's head, as the case may be.
    Whatever the attention of Mr. Saunders is called to, Mr. Saunders
    admires of course; though he is rather confused about the sex of
    the youngest branches and looks at the wrong children, turning to a
    girl when Mr. Whiffler directs his attention to a boy, and falling
    into raptures with a boy when he ought to be enchanted with a girl.
    Then the dessert comes, and there is a vast deal of scrambling
    after fruit, and sudden spirting forth of juice out of tight
    oranges into infant eyes, and much screeching and wailing in
    consequence. At length it becomes time for Mrs. Whiffler to
    retire, and all the children are by force of arms compelled to kiss
    and love Mr. Saunders before going up-stairs, except Tom, who,
    lying on his back in the hall, proclaims that Mr. Saunders 'is a
    naughty beast;' and Dick, who having drunk his father's wine when
    he was looking another way, is found to be intoxicated and is
    carried out, very limp and helpless.

    Mr. Whiffler and his friend are left alone together, but Mr.
    Whiffler's thoughts are still with his family, if his family are
    not with him. 'Saunders,' says he, after a short silence, 'if you
    please, we'll drink Mrs. Whiffler and the children.' Mr. Saunders
    feels this to be a reproach against himself for not proposing the
    same sentiment, and drinks it in some confusion. 'Ah!' Mr.
    Whiffler sighs, 'these children, Saunders, make one quite an old
    man.' Mr. Saunders thinks that if they were his, they would make
    him a very old man; but he says nothing. 'And yet,' pursues Mr.
    Whiffler, 'what can equal domestic happiness? what can equal the
    engaging ways of children! Saunders, why don't you get married?'
    Now, this is an embarrassing question, because Mr. Saunders has
    been thinking that if he had at any time entertained matrimonial
    designs, the revelation of that day would surely have routed them
    for ever. 'I am glad, however,' says Mr. Whiffler, 'that you ARE a
    bachelor,--glad on one account, Saunders; a selfish one, I admit.
    Will you do Mrs. Whiffler and myself a favour?' Mr. Saunders is
    surprised--evidently surprised; but he replies, 'with the greatest
    pleasure.' 'Then, will you, Saunders,' says Mr. Whiffler, in an
    impressive manner, 'will you cement and consolidate our friendship
    by coming into the family (so to speak) as a godfather?' 'I shall
    be proud and delighted,' replies Mr. Saunders: 'which of the
    children is it? really, I thought they were all christened; or--'
    'Saunders,' Mr. Whiffler interposes, 'they ARE all christened; you
    are right. The fact is, that Mrs. Whiffler is--in short, we expect
    another.' 'Not a ninth!' cries the friend, all aghast at the idea.
    'Yes, Saunders,' rejoins Mr. Whiffler, solemnly, 'a ninth. Did we
    drink Mrs. Whiffler's health? Let us drink it again, Saunders, and
    wish her well over it!'

    Doctor Johnson used to tell a story of a man who had but one idea,
    which was a wrong one. The couple who dote upon their children are
    in the same predicament: at home or abroad, at all times, and in
    all places, their thoughts are bound up in this one subject, and
    have no sphere beyond. They relate the clever things their
    offspring say or do, and weary every company with their prolixity
    and absurdity. Mr. Whiffler takes a friend by the button at a
    street corner on a windy day to tell him a bon mot of his youngest
    boy's; and Mrs. Whiffler, calling to see a sick acquaintance,
    entertains her with a cheerful account of all her own past
    sufferings and present expectations. In such cases the sins of the
    fathers indeed descend upon the children; for people soon come to
    regard them as predestined little bores. The couple who dote upon
    their children cannot be said to be actuated by a general love for
    these engaging little people (which would be a great excuse); for
    they are apt to underrate and entertain a jealousy of any children
    but their own. If they examined their own hearts, they would,
    perhaps, find at the bottom of all this, more self-love and egotism
    than they think of. Self-love and egotism are bad qualities, of
    which the unrestrained exhibition, though it may be sometimes
    amusing, never fails to be wearisome and unpleasant. Couples who
    dote upon their children, therefore, are best avoided.

    THE COOL COUPLE

    There is an old-fashioned weather-glass representing a house with
    two doorways, in one of which is the figure of a gentleman, in the
    other the figure of a lady. When the weather is to be fine the
    lady comes out and the gentleman goes in; when wet, the gentleman
    comes out and the lady goes in. They never seek each other's
    society, are never elevated and depressed by the same cause, and
    have nothing in common. They are the model of a cool couple,
    except that there is something of politeness and consideration
    about the behaviour of the gentleman in the weather-glass, in
    which, neither of the cool couple can be said to participate.

    The cool couple are seldom alone together, and when they are,
    nothing can exceed their apathy and dulness: the gentleman being
    for the most part drowsy, and the lady silent. If they enter into
    conversation, it is usually of an ironical or recriminatory nature.
    Thus, when the gentleman has indulged in a very long yawn and
    settled himself more snugly in his easy-chair, the lady will
    perhaps remark, 'Well, I am sure, Charles! I hope you're
    comfortable.' To which the gentleman replies, 'Oh yes, he's quite
    comfortable quite.' 'There are not many married men, I hope,'
    returns the lady, 'who seek comfort in such selfish gratifications
    as you do.' 'Nor many wives who seek comfort in such selfish
    gratifications as YOU do, I hope,' retorts the gentleman. 'Whose
    fault is that?' demands the lady. The gentleman becoming more
    sleepy, returns no answer. 'Whose fault is that?' the lady
    repeats. The gentleman still returning no answer, she goes on to
    say that she believes there never was in all this world anybody so
    attached to her home, so thoroughly domestic, so unwilling to seek
    a moment's gratification or pleasure beyond her own fireside as
    she. God knows that before she was married she never thought or
    dreamt of such a thing; and she remembers that her poor papa used
    to say again and again, almost every day of his life, 'Oh, my dear
    Louisa, if you only marry a man who understands you, and takes the
    trouble to consider your happiness and accommodate himself a very
    little to your disposition, what a treasure he will find in you!'
    She supposes her papa knew what her disposition was--he had known
    her long enough--he ought to have been acquainted with it, but what
    can she do? If her home is always dull and lonely, and her husband
    is always absent and finds no pleasure in her society, she is
    naturally sometimes driven (seldom enough, she is sure) to seek a
    little recreation elsewhere; she is not expected to pine and mope
    to death, she hopes. 'Then come, Louisa,' says the gentleman,
    waking up as suddenly as he fell asleep, 'stop at home this
    evening, and so will I.' 'I should be sorry to suppose, Charles,
    that you took a pleasure in aggravating me,' replies the lady; 'but
    you know as well as I do that I am particularly engaged to Mrs.
    Mortimer, and that it would be an act of the grossest rudeness and
    ill-breeding, after accepting a seat in her box and preventing her
    from inviting anybody else, not to go.' 'Ah! there it is!' says
    the gentleman, shrugging his shoulders, 'I knew that perfectly
    well. I knew you couldn't devote an evening to your own home. Now
    all I have to say, Louisa, is this--recollect that _I_ was quite
    willing to stay at home, and that it's no fault of MINE we are not
    oftener together.'

    With that the gentleman goes away to keep an old appointment at his
    club, and the lady hurries off to dress for Mrs. Mortimer's; and
    neither thinks of the other until by some odd chance they find
    themselves alone again.

    But it must not be supposed that the cool couple are habitually a
    quarrelsome one. Quite the contrary. These differences are only
    occasions for a little self-excuse,--nothing more. In general they
    are as easy and careless, and dispute as seldom, as any common
    acquaintances may; for it is neither worth their while to put each
    other out of the way, nor to ruffle themselves.

    When they meet in society, the cool couple are the best-bred people
    in existence. The lady is seated in a corner among a little knot
    of lady friends, one of whom exclaims, 'Why, I vow and declare
    there is your husband, my dear!' 'Whose?--mine?' she says,
    carelessly. 'Ay, yours, and coming this way too.' 'How very odd!'
    says the lady, in a languid tone, 'I thought he had been at Dover.'
    The gentleman coming up, and speaking to all the other ladies and
    nodding slightly to his wife, it turns out that he has been at
    Dover, and has just now returned. 'What a strange creature you
    are!' cries his wife; 'and what on earth brought you here, I
    wonder?' 'I came to look after you, OF COURSE,' rejoins her
    husband. This is so pleasant a jest that the lady is mightily
    amused, as are all the other ladies similarly situated who are
    within hearing; and while they are enjoying it to the full, the
    gentleman nods again, turns upon his heel, and saunters away.

    There are times, however, when his company is not so agreeable,
    though equally unexpected; such as when the lady has invited one or
    two particular friends to tea and scandal, and he happens to come
    home in the very midst of their diversion. It is a hundred chances
    to one that he remains in the house half an hour, but the lady is
    rather disturbed by the intrusion, notwithstanding, and reasons
    within herself,--'I am sure I never interfere with him, and why
    should he interfere with me? It can scarcely be accidental; it
    never happens that I have a particular reason for not wishing him
    to come home, but he always comes. It's very provoking and
    tiresome; and I am sure when he leaves me so much alone for his own
    pleasure, the least he could do would be to do as much for mine.'
    Observing what passes in her mind, the gentleman, who has come home
    for his own accommodation, makes a merit of it with himself;
    arrives at the conclusion that it is the very last place in which
    he can hope to be comfortable; and determines, as he takes up his
    hat and cane, never to be so virtuous again.

    Thus a great many cool couples go on until they are cold couples,
    and the grave has closed over their folly and indifference. Loss
    of name, station, character, life itself, has ensued from causes as
    slight as these, before now; and when gossips tell such tales, and
    aggravate their deformities, they elevate their hands and eyebrows,
    and call each other to witness what a cool couple Mr. and Mrs. So-
    and-so always were, even in the best of times.

    THE PLAUSIBLE COUPLE

    The plausible couple have many titles. They are 'a delightful
    couple,' an 'affectionate couple,' 'a most agreeable couple, 'a
    good-hearted couple,' and 'the best-natured couple in existence.'
    The truth is, that the plausible couple are people of the world;
    and either the way of pleasing the world has grown much easier than
    it was in the days of the old man and his ass, or the old man was
    but a bad hand at it, and knew very little of the trade.

    'But is it really possible to please the world!' says some doubting
    reader. It is indeed. Nay, it is not only very possible, but very
    easy. The ways are crooked, and sometimes foul and low. What
    then? A man need but crawl upon his hands and knees, know when to
    close his eyes and when his ears, when to stoop and when to stand
    upright; and if by the world is meant that atom of it in which he
    moves himself, he shall please it, never fear.

    Now, it will be readily seen, that if a plausible man or woman have
    an easy means of pleasing the world by an adaptation of self to all
    its twistings and twinings, a plausible man AND woman, or, in other
    words, a plausible couple, playing into each other's hands, and
    acting in concert, have a manifest advantage. Hence it is that
    plausible couples scarcely ever fail of success on a pretty large
    scale; and hence it is that if the reader, laying down this
    unwieldy volume at the next full stop, will have the goodness to
    review his or her circle of acquaintance, and to search
    particularly for some man and wife with a large connexion and a
    good name, not easily referable to their abilities or their wealth,
    he or she (that is, the male or female reader) will certainly find
    that gentleman or lady, on a very short reflection, to be a
    plausible couple.

    The plausible couple are the most ecstatic people living: the most
    sensitive people--to merit--on the face of the earth. Nothing
    clever or virtuous escapes them. They have microscopic eyes for
    such endowments, and can find them anywhere. The plausible couple
    never fawn--oh no! They don't even scruple to tell their friends
    of their faults. One is too generous, another too candid; a third
    has a tendency to think all people like himself, and to regard
    mankind as a company of angels; a fourth is kind-hearted to a
    fault. 'We never flatter, my dear Mrs. Jackson,' say the plausible
    couple; 'we speak our minds. Neither you nor Mr. Jackson have
    faults enough. It may sound strangely, but it is true. You have
    not faults enough. You know our way,--we must speak out, and
    always do. Quarrel with us for saying so, if you will; but we
    repeat it,--you have not faults enough!'

    The plausible couple are no less plausible to each other than to
    third parties. They are always loving and harmonious. The
    plausible gentleman calls his wife 'darling,' and the plausible
    lady addresses him as 'dearest.' If it be Mr. and Mrs. Bobtail
    Widger, Mrs. Widger is 'Lavinia, darling,' and Mr. Widger is
    'Bobtail, dearest.' Speaking of each other, they observe the same
    tender form. Mrs. Widger relates what 'Bobtail' said, and Mr.
    Widger recounts what 'darling' thought and did.

    If you sit next to the plausible lady at a dinner-table, she takes
    the earliest opportunity of expressing her belief that you are
    acquainted with the Clickits; she is sure she has heard the
    Clickits speak of you--she must not tell you in what terms, or you
    will take her for a flatterer. You admit a knowledge of the

    Clickits; the plausible lady immediately launches out in their
    praise. She quite loves the Clickits. Were there ever such true-
    hearted, hospitable, excellent people--such a gentle, interesting
    little woman as Mrs. Clickit, or such a frank, unaffected creature
    as Mr. Clickit? were there ever two people, in short, so little
    spoiled by the world as they are? 'As who, darling?' cries Mr.
    Widger, from the opposite side of the table. 'The Clickits,
    dearest,' replies Mrs. Widger. 'Indeed you are right, darling,'
    Mr. Widger rejoins; 'the Clickits are a very high-minded, worthy,
    estimable couple.' Mrs. Widger remarking that Bobtail always grows
    quite eloquent upon this subject, Mr. Widger admits that he feels
    very strongly whenever such people as the Clickits and some other
    friends of his (here he glances at the host and hostess) are
    mentioned; for they are an honour to human nature, and do one good
    to think of. 'YOU know the Clickits, Mrs. Jackson?' he says,
    addressing the lady of the house. 'No, indeed; we have not that
    pleasure,' she replies. 'You astonish me!' exclaims Mr. Widger:
    'not know the Clickits! why, you are the very people of all others
    who ought to be their bosom friends. You are kindred beings; you
    are one and the same thing:- not know the Clickits! Now WILL you
    know the Clickits? Will you make a point of knowing them? Will
    you meet them in a friendly way at our house one evening, and be
    acquainted with them?' Mrs. Jackson will be quite delighted;
    nothing would give her more pleasure. 'Then, Lavinia, my darling,'
    says Mr. Widger, 'mind you don't lose sight of that; now, pray take
    care that Mr. and Mrs. Jackson know the Clickits without loss of
    time. Such people ought not to be strangers to each other.' Mrs.
    Widger books both families as the centre of attraction for her next
    party; and Mr. Widger, going on to expatiate upon the virtues of
    the Clickits, adds to their other moral qualities, that they keep
    one of the neatest phaetons in town, and have two thousand a year.

    As the plausible couple never laud the merits of any absent person,
    without dexterously contriving that their praises shall reflect
    upon somebody who is present, so they never depreciate anything or
    anybody, without turning their depreciation to the same account.
    Their friend, Mr. Slummery, say they, is unquestionably a clever
    painter, and would no doubt be very popular, and sell his pictures
    at a very high price, if that cruel Mr. Fithers had not forestalled
    him in his department of art, and made it thoroughly and completely
    his own;--Fithers, it is to be observed, being present and within
    hearing, and Slummery elsewhere. Is Mrs. Tabblewick really as
    beautiful as people say? Why, there indeed you ask them a very
    puzzling question, because there is no doubt that she is a very
    charming woman, and they have long known her intimately. She is no
    doubt beautiful, very beautiful; they once thought her the most
    beautiful woman ever seen; still if you press them for an honest
    answer, they are bound to say that this was before they had ever
    seen our lovely friend on the sofa, (the sofa is hard by, and our
    lovely friend can't help hearing the whispers in which this is
    said;) since that time, perhaps, they have been hardly fair judges;
    Mrs. Tabblewick is no doubt extremely handsome,--very like our
    friend, in fact, in the form of the features,--but in point of
    expression, and soul, and figure, and air altogether--oh dear!

    But while the plausible couple depreciate, they are still careful
    to preserve their character for amiability and kind feeling; indeed
    the depreciation itself is often made to grow out of their
    excessive sympathy and good will. The plausible lady calls on a
    lady who dotes upon her children, and is sitting with a little girl
    upon her knee, enraptured by her artless replies, and protesting
    that there is nothing she delights in so much as conversing with
    these fairies; when the other lady inquires if she has seen young
    Mrs. Finching lately, and whether the baby has turned out a finer
    one than it promised to be. 'Oh dear!' cries the plausible lady,
    'you cannot think how often Bobtail and I have talked about poor
    Mrs. Finching--she is such a dear soul, and was so anxious that the
    baby should be a fine child--and very naturally, because she was
    very much here at one time, and there is, you know, a natural
    emulation among mothers--that it is impossible to tell you how much
    we have felt for her.' 'Is it weak or plain, or what?' inquires
    the other. 'Weak or plain, my love,' returns the plausible lady,
    'it's a fright--a perfect little fright; you never saw such a
    miserable creature in all your days. Positively you must not let
    her see one of these beautiful dears again, or you'll break her
    heart, you will indeed.--Heaven bless this child, see how she is
    looking in my face! can you conceive anything prettier than that?
    If poor Mrs. Finching could only hope--but that's impossible--and
    the gifts of Providence, you know--What DID I do with my pocket-
    handkerchief!'

    What prompts the mother, who dotes upon her children, to comment to
    her lord that evening on the plausible lady's engaging qualities
    and feeling heart, and what is it that procures Mr. and Mrs.
    Bobtail Widger an immediate invitation to dinner?

    THE NICE LITTLE COUPLE

    A custom once prevailed in old-fashioned circles, that when a lady
    or gentleman was unable to sing a song, he or she should enliven
    the company with a story. As we find ourself in the predicament of
    not being able to describe (to our own satisfaction) nice little
    couples in the abstract, we purpose telling in this place a little
    story about a nice little couple of our acquaintance.

    Mr. and Mrs. Chirrup are the nice little couple in question. Mr.
    Chirrup has the smartness, and something of the brisk, quick manner
    of a small bird. Mrs. Chirrup is the prettiest of all little
    women, and has the prettiest little figure conceivable. She has
    the neatest little foot, and the softest little voice, and the
    pleasantest little smile, and the tidiest little curls, and the
    brightest little eyes, and the quietest little manner, and is, in
    short, altogether one of the most engaging of all little women,
    dead or alive. She is a condensation of all the domestic virtues,-
    -a pocket edition of the young man's best companion,--a little
    woman at a very high pressure, with an amazing quantity of goodness
    and usefulness in an exceedingly small space. Little as she is,
    Mrs. Chirrup might furnish forth matter for the moral equipment of
    a score of housewives, six feet high in their stockings--if, in the
    presence of ladies, we may be allowed the expression--and of
    corresponding robustness.

    Nobody knows all this better than Mr. Chirrup, though he rather
    takes on that he don't. Accordingly he is very proud of his
    better-half, and evidently considers himself, as all other people
    consider him, rather fortunate in having her to wife. We say
    evidently, because Mr. Chirrup is a warm-hearted little fellow; and
    if you catch his eye when he has been slyly glancing at Mrs.
    Chirrup in company, there is a certain complacent twinkle in it,
    accompanied, perhaps, by a half-expressed toss of the head, which
    as clearly indicates what has been passing in his mind as if he had
    put it into words, and shouted it out through a speaking-trumpet.
    Moreover, Mr. Chirrup has a particularly mild and bird-like manner
    of calling Mrs. Chirrup 'my dear;' and--for he is of a jocose turn-
    -of cutting little witticisms upon her, and making her the subject
    of various harmless pleasantries, which nobody enjoys more
    thoroughly than Mrs. Chirrup herself. Mr. Chirrup, too, now and
    then affects to deplore his bachelor-days, and to bemoan (with a
    marvellously contented and smirking face) the loss of his freedom,
    and the sorrow of his heart at having been taken captive by Mrs.
    Chirrup--all of which circumstances combine to show the secret
    triumph and satisfaction of Mr. Chirrup's soul.

    We have already had occasion to observe that Mrs. Chirrup is an
    incomparable housewife. In all the arts of domestic arrangement
    and management, in all the mysteries of confectionery-making,
    pickling, and preserving, never was such a thorough adept as that
    nice little body. She is, besides, a cunning worker in muslin and
    fine linen, and a special hand at marketing to the very best
    advantage. But if there be one branch of housekeeping in which she
    excels to an utterly unparalleled and unprecedented extent, it is
    in the important one of carving. A roast goose is universally
    allowed to be the great stumbling-block in the way of young
    aspirants to perfection in this department of science; many
    promising carvers, beginning with legs of mutton, and preserving a
    good reputation through fillets of veal, sirloins of beef, quarters
    of lamb, fowls, and even ducks, have sunk before a roast goose, and
    lost caste and character for ever. To Mrs. Chirrup the resolving a
    goose into its smallest component parts is a pleasant pastime--a
    practical joke--a thing to be done in a minute or so, without the
    smallest interruption to the conversation of the time. No handing
    the dish over to an unfortunate man upon her right or left, no wild
    sharpening of the knife, no hacking and sawing at an unruly joint,
    no noise, no splash, no heat, no leaving off in despair; all is
    confidence and cheerfulness. The dish is set upon the table, the
    cover is removed; for an instant, and only an instant, you observe
    that Mrs. Chirrup's attention is distracted; she smiles, but
    heareth not. You proceed with your story; meanwhile the glittering
    knife is slowly upraised, both Mrs. Chirrup's wrists are slightly
    but not ungracefully agitated, she compresses her lips for an
    instant, then breaks into a smile, and all is over. The legs of
    the bird slide gently down into a pool of gravy, the wings seem to
    melt from the body, the breast separates into a row of juicy
    slices, the smaller and more complicated parts of his anatomy are
    perfectly developed, a cavern of stuffing is revealed, and the
    goose is gone!

    To dine with Mr. and Mrs. Chirrup is one of the pleasantest things
    in the world. Mr. Chirrup has a bachelor friend, who lived with
    him in his own days of single blessedness, and to whom he is
    mightily attached. Contrary to the usual custom, this bachelor
    friend is no less a friend of Mrs. Chirrup's, and, consequently,
    whenever you dine with Mr. and Mrs. Chirrup, you meet the bachelor
    friend. It would put any reasonably-conditioned mortal into good-
    humour to observe the entire unanimity which subsists between these
    three; but there is a quiet welcome dimpling in Mrs. Chirrup's
    face, a bustling hospitality oozing as it were out of the
    waistcoat-pockets of Mr. Chirrup, and a patronising enjoyment of
    their cordiality and satisfaction on the part of the bachelor
    friend, which is quite delightful. On these occasions Mr. Chirrup
    usually takes an opportunity of rallying the friend on being
    single, and the friend retorts on Mr. Chirrup for being married, at
    which moments some single young ladies present are like to die of
    laughter; and we have more than once observed them bestow looks
    upon the friend, which convinces us that his position is by no
    means a safe one, as, indeed, we hold no bachelor's to be who
    visits married friends and cracks jokes on wedlock, for certain it
    is that such men walk among traps and nets and pitfalls
    innumerable, and often find themselves down upon their knees at the
    altar rails, taking M. or N. for their wedded wives, before they
    know anything about the matter.

    However, this is no business of Mr. Chirrup's, who talks, and
    laughs, and drinks his wine, and laughs again, and talks more,
    until it is time to repair to the drawing-room, where, coffee
    served and over, Mrs. Chirrup prepares for a round game, by sorting
    the nicest possible little fish into the nicest possible little
    pools, and calling Mr. Chirrup to assist her, which Mr. Chirrup
    does. As they stand side by side, you find that Mr. Chirrup is the
    least possible shadow of a shade taller than Mrs. Chirrup, and that
    they are the neatest and best-matched little couple that can be,
    which the chances are ten to one against your observing with such
    effect at any other time, unless you see them in the street arm-in-
    arm, or meet them some rainy day trotting along under a very small
    umbrella. The round game (at which Mr. Chirrup is the merriest of
    the party) being done and over, in course of time a nice little
    tray appears, on which is a nice little supper; and when that is
    finished likewise, and you have said 'Good night,' you find
    yourself repeating a dozen times, as you ride home, that there
    never was such a nice little couple as Mr. and Mrs. Chirrup.

    Whether it is that pleasant qualities, being packed more closely in
    small bodies than in large, come more readily to hand than when
    they are diffused over a wider space, and have to be gathered
    together for use, we don't know, but as a general rule,--
    strengthened like all other rules by its exceptions,--we hold that
    little people are sprightly and good-natured. The more sprightly
    and good-natured people we have, the better; therefore, let us wish
    well to all nice little couples, and hope that they may increase
    and multiply.

    THE EGOTISTICAL COUPLE

    Egotism in couples is of two kinds.--It is our purpose to show this
    by two examples.

    The egotistical couple may be young, old, middle-aged, well to do,
    or ill to do; they may have a small family, a large family, or no
    family at all. There is no outward sign by which an egotistical
    couple may be known and avoided. They come upon you unawares;
    there is no guarding against them. No man can of himself be
    forewarned or forearmed against an egotistical couple.

    The egotistical couple have undergone every calamity, and
    experienced every pleasurable and painful sensation of which our
    nature is susceptible. You cannot by possibility tell the
    egotistical couple anything they don't know, or describe to them
    anything they have not felt. They have been everything but dead.
    Sometimes we are tempted to wish they had been even that, but only
    in our uncharitable moments, which are few and far between.

    We happened the other day, in the course of a morning call, to
    encounter an egotistical couple, nor were we suffered to remain
    long in ignorance of the fact, for our very first inquiry of the
    lady of the house brought them into active and vigorous operation.
    The inquiry was of course touching the lady's health, and the
    answer happened to be, that she had not been very well. 'Oh, my
    dear!' said the egotistical lady, 'don't talk of not being well.
    We have been in SUCH a state since we saw you last!'--The lady of
    the house happening to remark that her lord had not been well
    either, the egotistical gentleman struck in: 'Never let Briggs
    complain of not being well--never let Briggs complain, my dear Mrs.
    Briggs, after what I have undergone within these six weeks. He
    doesn't know what it is to be ill, he hasn't the least idea of it;
    not the faintest conception.'--'My dear,' interposed his wife
    smiling, 'you talk as if it were almost a crime in Mr. Briggs not
    to have been as ill as we have been, instead of feeling thankful to
    Providence that both he and our dear Mrs. Briggs are in such
    blissful ignorance of real suffering.'--'My love,' returned the
    egotistical gentleman, in a low and pious voice, 'you mistake me;--
    I feel grateful--very grateful. I trust our friends may never
    purchase their experience as dearly as we have bought ours; I hope
    they never may!'

    Having put down Mrs. Briggs upon this theme, and settled the
    question thus, the egotistical gentleman turned to us, and, after a
    few preliminary remarks, all tending towards and leading up to the
    point he had in his mind, inquired if we happened to be acquainted
    with the Dowager Lady Snorflerer. On our replying in the negative,
    he presumed we had often met Lord Slang, or beyond all doubt, that
    we were on intimate terms with Sir Chipkins Glogwog. Finding that
    we were equally unable to lay claim to either of these
    distinctions, he expressed great astonishment, and turning to his
    wife with a retrospective smile, inquired who it was that had told
    that capital story about the mashed potatoes. 'Who, my dear?'
    returned the egotistical lady, 'why Sir Chipkins, of course; how
    can you ask! Don't you remember his applying it to our cook, and
    saying that you and I were so like the Prince and Princess, that he
    could almost have sworn we were they?' 'To be sure, I remember
    that,' said the egotistical gentleman, 'but are you quite certain
    that didn't apply to the other anecdote about the Emperor of
    Austria and the pump?' 'Upon my word then, I think it did,'
    replied his wife. 'To be sure it did,' said the egotistical
    gentleman, 'it was Slang's story, I remember now, perfectly.'
    However, it turned out, a few seconds afterwards, that the
    egotistical gentleman's memory was rather treacherous, as he began
    to have a misgiving that the story had been told by the Dowager
    Lady Snorflerer the very last time they dined there; but there
    appearing, on further consideration, strong circumstantial evidence
    tending to show that this couldn't be, inasmuch as the Dowager Lady
    Snorflerer had been, on the occasion in question, wholly engrossed
    by the egotistical lady, the egotistical gentleman recanted this
    opinion; and after laying the story at the doors of a great many
    great people, happily left it at last with the Duke of Scuttlewig:-
    observing that it was not extraordinary he had forgotten his Grace
    hitherto, as it often happened that the names of those with whom we
    were upon the most familiar footing were the very last to present
    themselves to our thoughts.

    It not only appeared that the egotistical couple knew everybody,
    but that scarcely any event of importance or notoriety had occurred
    for many years with which they had not been in some way or other
    connected. Thus we learned that when the well-known attempt upon
    the life of George the Third was made by Hatfield in Drury Lane
    theatre, the egotistical gentleman's grandfather sat upon his right
    hand and was the first man who collared him; and that the
    egotistical lady's aunt, sitting within a few boxes of the royal
    party, was the only person in the audience who heard his Majesty
    exclaim, 'Charlotte, Charlotte, don't be frightened, don't be
    frightened; they're letting off squibs, they're letting off
    squibs.' When the fire broke out, which ended in the destruction
    of the two Houses of Parliament, the egotistical couple, being at
    the time at a drawing-room window on Blackheath, then and there
    simultaneously exclaimed, to the astonishment of a whole party--
    'It's the House of Lords!' Nor was this a solitary instance of
    their peculiar discernment, for chancing to be (as by a comparison
    of dates and circumstances they afterwards found) in the same
    omnibus with Mr. Greenacre, when he carried his victim's head about
    town in a blue bag, they both remarked a singular twitching in the
    muscles of his countenance; and walking down Fish Street Hill, a
    few weeks since, the egotistical gentleman said to his lady--
    slightly casting up his eyes to the top of the Monument--'There's a
    boy up there, my dear, reading a Bible. It's very strange. I
    don't like it.--In five seconds afterwards, Sir,' says the
    egotistical gentleman, bringing his hands together with one violent
    clap--'the lad was over!'

    Diversifying these topics by the introduction of many others of the
    same kind, and entertaining us between whiles with a minute account
    of what weather and diet agreed with them, and what weather and
    diet disagreed with them, and at what time they usually got up, and
    at what time went to bed, with many other particulars of their
    domestic economy too numerous to mention; the egotistical couple at
    length took their leave, and afforded us an opportunity of doing
    the same.

    Mr. and Mrs. Sliverstone are an egotistical couple of another
    class, for all the lady's egotism is about her husband, and all the
    gentleman's about his wife. For example:- Mr. Sliverstone is a
    clerical gentleman, and occasionally writes sermons, as clerical
    gentlemen do. If you happen to obtain admission at the street-door
    while he is so engaged, Mrs. Sliverstone appears on tip-toe, and
    speaking in a solemn whisper, as if there were at least three or
    four particular friends up-stairs, all upon the point of death,
    implores you to be very silent, for Mr. Sliverstone is composing,
    and she need not say how very important it is that he should not be
    disturbed. Unwilling to interrupt anything so serious, you hasten
    to withdraw, with many apologies; but this Mrs. Sliverstone will by
    no means allow, observing, that she knows you would like to see
    him, as it is very natural you should, and that she is determined
    to make a trial for you, as you are a great favourite. So you are
    led up-stairs--still on tip-toe--to the door of a little back room,
    in which, as the lady informs you in a whisper, Mr. Sliverstone
    always writes. No answer being returned to a couple of soft taps,
    the lady opens the door, and there, sure enough, is Mr.
    Sliverstone, with dishevelled hair, powdering away with pen, ink,
    and paper, at a rate which, if he has any power of sustaining it,
    would settle the longest sermon in no time. At first he is too
    much absorbed to be roused by this intrusion; but presently looking
    up, says faintly, 'Ah!' and pointing to his desk with a weary and
    languid smile, extends his hand, and hopes you'll forgive him.
    Then Mrs. Sliverstone sits down beside him, and taking his hand in
    hers, tells you how that Mr. Sliverstone has been shut up there
    ever since nine o'clock in the morning, (it is by this time twelve
    at noon,) and how she knows it cannot be good for his health, and
    is very uneasy about it. Unto this Mr. Sliverstone replies firmly,
    that 'It must be done;' which agonizes Mrs. Sliverstone still more,
    and she goes on to tell you that such were Mr. Sliverstone's
    labours last week--what with the buryings, marryings, churchings,
    christenings, and all together,--that when he was going up the
    pulpit stairs on Sunday evening, he was obliged to hold on by the
    rails, or he would certainly have fallen over into his own pew.
    Mr. Sliverstone, who has been listening and smiling meekly, says,
    'Not quite so bad as that, not quite so bad!' he admits though, on
    cross-examination, that he WAS very near falling upon the verger
    who was following him up to bolt the door; but adds, that it was
    his duty as a Christian to fall upon him, if need were, and that
    he, Mr. Sliverstone, and (possibly the verger too) ought to glory
    in it.

    This sentiment communicates new impulse to Mrs. Sliverstone, who
    launches into new praises of Mr. Sliverstone's worth and
    excellence, to which he listens in the same meek silence, save when
    he puts in a word of self-denial relative to some question of fact,
    as--'Not seventy-two christenings that week, my dear. Only
    seventy-one, only seventy-one.' At length his lady has quite
    concluded, and then he says, Why should he repine, why should he
    give way, why should he suffer his heart to sink within him? Is it
    he alone who toils and suffers? What has she gone through, he
    should like to know? What does she go through every day for him
    and for society?

    With such an exordium Mr. Sliverstone launches out into glowing
    praises of the conduct of Mrs. Sliverstone in the production of
    eight young children, and the subsequent rearing and fostering of
    the same; and thus the husband magnifies the wife, and the wife the
    husband.

    This would be well enough if Mr. and Mrs. Sliverstone kept it to
    themselves, or even to themselves and a friend or two; but they do
    not. The more hearers they have, the more egotistical the couple
    become, and the more anxious they are to make believers in their
    merits. Perhaps this is the worst kind of egotism. It has not
    even the poor excuse of being spontaneous, but is the result of a
    deliberate system and malice aforethought. Mere empty-headed
    conceit excites our pity, but ostentatious hypocrisy awakens our
    disgust.

    THE COUPLE WHO CODDLE THEMSELVES

    Mrs. Merrywinkle's maiden name was Chopper. She was the only child
    of Mr. and Mrs. Chopper. Her father died when she was, as the
    play-books express it, 'yet an infant;' and so old Mrs. Chopper,
    when her daughter married, made the house of her son-in-law her
    home from that time henceforth, and set up her staff of rest with
    Mr. and Mrs. Merrywinkle.

    Mr. and Mrs. Merrywinkle are a couple who coddle themselves; and
    the venerable Mrs. Chopper is an aider and abettor in the same.

    Mr. Merrywinkle is a rather lean and long-necked gentleman, middle-
    aged and middle-sized, and usually troubled with a cold in the
    head. Mrs. Merrywinkle is a delicate-looking lady, with very light
    hair, and is exceedingly subject to the same unpleasant disorder.
    The venerable Mrs. Chopper--who is strictly entitled to the
    appellation, her daughter not being very young, otherwise than by
    courtesy, at the time of her marriage, which was some years ago--is
    a mysterious old lady who lurks behind a pair of spectacles, and is
    afflicted with a chronic disease, respecting which she has taken a
    vast deal of medical advice, and referred to a vast number of
    medical books, without meeting any definition of symptoms that at
    all suits her, or enables her to say, 'That's my complaint.'
    Indeed, the absence of authentic information upon the subject of
    this complaint would seem to be Mrs. Chopper's greatest ill, as in
    all other respects she is an uncommonly hale and hearty
    gentlewoman.

    Both Mr. and Mrs. Chopper wear an extraordinary quantity of
    flannel, and have a habit of putting their feet in hot water to an
    unnatural extent. They likewise indulge in chamomile tea and such-
    like compounds, and rub themselves on the slightest provocation
    with camphorated spirits and other lotions applicable to mumps,
    sore-throat, rheumatism, or lumbago.

    Mr. Merrywinkle's leaving home to go to business on a damp or wet
    morning is a very elaborate affair. He puts on wash-leather socks
    over his stockings, and India-rubber shoes above his boots, and
    wears under his waistcoat a cuirass of hare-skin. Besides these
    precautions, he winds a thick shawl round his throat, and blocks up
    his mouth with a large silk handkerchief. Thus accoutred, and
    furnished besides with a great-coat and umbrella, he braves the
    dangers of the streets; travelling in severe weather at a gentle
    trot, the better to preserve the circulation, and bringing his
    mouth to the surface to take breath, but very seldom, and with the
    utmost caution. His office-door opened, he shoots past his clerk
    at the same pace, and diving into his own private room, closes the
    door, examines the window-fastenings, and gradually unrobes
    himself: hanging his pocket-handkerchief on the fender to air, and
    determining to write to the newspapers about the fog, which, he
    says, 'has really got to that pitch that it is quite unbearable.'

    In this last opinion Mrs. Merrywinkle and her respected mother
    fully concur; for though not present, their thoughts and tongues
    are occupied with the same subject, which is their constant theme
    all day. If anybody happens to call, Mrs. Merrywinkle opines that
    they must assuredly be mad, and her first salutation is, 'Why, what
    in the name of goodness can bring you out in such weather? You
    know you MUST catch your death.' This assurance is corroborated by
    Mrs. Chopper, who adds, in further confirmation, a dismal legend
    concerning an individual of her acquaintance who, making a call
    under precisely parallel circumstances, and being then in the best
    health and spirits, expired in forty-eight hours afterwards, of a
    complication of inflammatory disorders. The visitor, rendered not
    altogether comfortable perhaps by this and other precedents,
    inquires very affectionately after Mr. Merrywinkle, but by so doing
    brings about no change of the subject; for Mr. Merrywinkle's name
    is inseparably connected with his complaints, and his complaints
    are inseparably connected with Mrs. Merrywinkle's; and when these
    are done with, Mrs. Chopper, who has been biding her time, cuts in
    with the chronic disorder--a subject upon which the amiable old
    lady never leaves off speaking until she is left alone, and very
    often not then.

    But Mr. Merrywinkle comes home to dinner. He is received by Mrs.
    Merrywinkle and Mrs. Chopper, who, on his remarking that he thinks
    his feet are damp, turn pale as ashes and drag him up-stairs,
    imploring him to have them rubbed directly with a dry coarse towel.
    Rubbed they are, one by Mrs. Merrywinkle and one by Mrs. Chopper,
    until the friction causes Mr. Merrywinkle to make horrible faces,
    and look as if he had been smelling very powerful onions; when they
    desist, and the patient, provided for his better security with
    thick worsted stockings and list slippers, is borne down-stairs to
    dinner. Now, the dinner is always a good one, the appetites of the
    diners being delicate, and requiring a little of what Mrs.
    Merrywinkle calls 'tittivation;' the secret of which is understood
    to lie in good cookery and tasteful spices, and which process is so
    successfully performed in the present instance, that both Mr. and
    Mrs. Merrywinkle eat a remarkably good dinner, and even the
    afflicted Mrs. Chopper wields her knife and fork with much of the
    spirit and elasticity of youth. But Mr. Merrywinkle, in his desire
    to gratify his appetite, is not unmindful of his health, for he has
    a bottle of carbonate of soda with which to qualify his porter, and
    a little pair of scales in which to weigh it out. Neither in his
    anxiety to take care of his body is he unmindful of the welfare of
    his immortal part, as he always prays that for what he is going to
    receive he may be made truly thankful; and in order that he may be
    as thankful as possible, eats and drinks to the utmost.

    Either from eating and drinking so much, or from being the victim
    of this constitutional infirmity, among others, Mr. Merrywinkle,
    after two or three glasses of wine, falls fast asleep; and he has
    scarcely closed his eyes, when Mrs. Merrywinkle and Mrs. Chopper
    fall asleep likewise. It is on awakening at tea-time that their
    most alarming symptoms prevail; for then Mr. Merrywinkle feels as
    if his temples were tightly bound round with the chain of the
    street-door, and Mrs. Merrywinkle as if she had made a hearty
    dinner of half-hundredweights, and Mrs. Chopper as if cold water
    were running down her back, and oyster-knives with sharp points
    were plunging of their own accord into her ribs. Symptoms like
    these are enough to make people peevish, and no wonder that they
    remain so until supper-time, doing little more than doze and
    complain, unless Mr. Merrywinkle calls out very loudly to a servant
    'to keep that draught out,' or rushes into the passage to flourish
    his fist in the countenance of the twopenny-postman, for daring to
    give such a knock as he had just performed at the door of a private
    gentleman with nerves.

    Supper, coming after dinner, should consist of some gentle
    provocative; and therefore the tittivating art is again in
    requisition, and again--done honour to by Mr. and Mrs. Merrywinkle,
    still comforted and abetted by Mrs. Chopper. After supper, it is
    ten to one but the last-named old lady becomes worse, and is led
    off to bed with the chronic complaint in full vigour. Mr. and Mrs.
    Merrywinkle, having administered to her a warm cordial, which is
    something of the strongest, then repair to their own room, where
    Mr. Merrywinkle, with his legs and feet in hot water, superintends
    the mulling of some wine which he is to drink at the very moment he
    plunges into bed, while Mrs. Merrywinkle, in garments whose nature
    is unknown to and unimagined by all but married men, takes four
    small pills with a spasmodic look between each, and finally comes
    to something hot and fragrant out of another little saucepan, which
    serves as her composing-draught for the night.

    There is another kind of couple who coddle themselves, and who do
    so at a cheaper rate and on more spare diet, because they are
    niggardly and parsimonious; for which reason they are kind enough
    to coddle their visitors too. It is unnecessary to describe them,
    for our readers may rest assured of the accuracy of these general
    principles:- that all couples who coddle themselves are selfish and
    slothful,--that they charge upon every wind that blows, every rain
    that falls, and every vapour that hangs in the air, the evils which
    arise from their own imprudence or the gloom which is engendered in
    their own tempers,--and that all men and women, in couples or
    otherwise, who fall into exclusive habits of self-indulgence, and
    forget their natural sympathy and close connexion with everybody
    and everything in the world around them, not only neglect the first
    duty of life, but, by a happy retributive justice, deprive
    themselves of its truest and best enjoyment.

    THE OLD COUPLE

    They are grandfather and grandmother to a dozen grown people and
    have great-grandchildren besides; their bodies are bent, their hair
    is grey, their step tottering and infirm. Is this the lightsome
    pair whose wedding was so merry, and have the young couple indeed
    grown old so soon!

    It seems but yesterday--and yet what a host of cares and griefs are
    crowded into the intervening time which, reckoned by them,
    lengthens out into a century! How many new associations have
    wreathed themselves about their hearts since then! The old time is
    gone, and a new time has come for others--not for them. They are
    but the rusting link that feebly joins the two, and is silently
    loosening its hold and dropping asunder.

    It seems but yesterday--and yet three of their children have sunk
    into the grave, and the tree that shades it has grown quite old.
    One was an infant--they wept for him; the next a girl, a slight
    young thing too delicate for earth--her loss was hard indeed to
    bear. The third, a man. That was the worst of all, but even that
    grief is softened now.

    It seems but yesterday--and yet how the gay and laughing faces of
    that bright morning have changed and vanished from above ground!
    Faint likenesses of some remain about them yet, but they are very
    faint and scarcely to be traced. The rest are only seen in dreams,
    and even they are unlike what they were, in eyes so old and dim.

    One or two dresses from the bridal wardrobe are yet preserved.
    They are of a quaint and antique fashion, and seldom seen except in
    pictures. White has turned yellow, and brighter hues have faded.
    Do you wonder, child? The wrinkled face was once as smooth as
    yours, the eyes as bright, the shrivelled skin as fair and
    delicate. It is the work of hands that have been dust these many
    years.

    Where are the fairy lovers of that happy day whose annual return
    comes upon the old man and his wife, like the echo of some village
    bell which has long been silent? Let yonder peevish bachelor,
    racked by rheumatic pains, and quarrelling with the world, let him
    answer to the question. He recollects something of a favourite
    playmate; her name was Lucy--so they tell him. He is not sure
    whether she was married, or went abroad, or died. It is a long
    while ago, and he don't remember.

    Is nothing as it used to be; does no one feel, or think, or act, as
    in days of yore? Yes. There is an aged woman who once lived
    servant with the old lady's father, and is sheltered in an alms-
    house not far off. She is still attached to the family, and loves
    them all; she nursed the children in her lap, and tended in their
    sickness those who are no more. Her old mistress has still
    something of youth in her eyes; the young ladies are like what she
    was but not quite so handsome, nor are the gentlemen as stately as
    Mr. Harvey used to be. She has seen a great deal of trouble; her
    husband and her son died long ago; but she has got over that, and
    is happy now--quite happy.

    If ever her attachment to her old protectors were disturbed by
    fresher cares and hopes, it has long since resumed its former
    current. It has filled the void in the poor creature's heart, and
    replaced the love of kindred. Death has not left her alone, and
    this, with a roof above her head, and a warm hearth to sit by,
    makes her cheerful and contented. Does she remember the marriage
    of great-grandmamma? Ay, that she does, as well--as if it was only
    yesterday. You wouldn't think it to look at her now, and perhaps
    she ought not to say so of herself, but she was as smart a young
    girl then as you'd wish to see. She recollects she took a friend
    of hers up-stairs to see Miss Emma dressed for church; her name
    was--ah! she forgets the name, but she remembers that she was a
    very pretty girl, and that she married not long afterwards, and
    lived--it has quite passed out of her mind where she lived, but she
    knows she had a bad husband who used her ill, and that she died in
    Lambeth work-house. Dear, dear, in Lambeth workhouse!

    And the old couple--have they no comfort or enjoyment of existence?
    See them among their grandchildren and great-grandchildren; how
    garrulous they are, how they compare one with another, and insist
    on likenesses which no one else can see; how gently the old lady
    lectures the girls on points of breeding and decorum, and points
    the moral by anecdotes of herself in her young days--how the old
    gentleman chuckles over boyish feats and roguish tricks, and tells
    long stories of a 'barring-out' achieved at the school he went to:
    which was very wrong, he tells the boys, and never to be imitated
    of course, but which he cannot help letting them know was very
    pleasant too--especially when he kissed the master's niece. This
    last, however, is a point on which the old lady is very tender, for
    she considers it a shocking and indelicate thing to talk about, and
    always says so whenever it is mentioned, never failing to observe
    that he ought to be very penitent for having been so sinful. So
    the old gentleman gets no further, and what the schoolmaster's
    niece said afterwards (which he is always going to tell) is lost to
    posterity.

    The old gentleman is eighty years old, to-day--'Eighty years old,
    Crofts, and never had a headache,' he tells the barber who shaves
    him (the barber being a young fellow, and very subject to that
    complaint). 'That's a great age, Crofts,' says the old gentleman.
    'I don't think it's sich a wery great age, Sir,' replied the
    barber. 'Crofts,' rejoins the old gentleman, 'you're talking
    nonsense to me. Eighty not a great age?' 'It's a wery great age,
    Sir, for a gentleman to be as healthy and active as you are,'
    returns the barber; 'but my grandfather, Sir, he was ninety-four.'
    'You don't mean that, Crofts?' says the old gentleman. 'I do
    indeed, Sir,' retorts the barber, 'and as wiggerous as Julius
    Caesar, my grandfather was.' The old gentleman muses a little
    time, and then says, 'What did he die of, Crofts?' 'He died
    accidentally, Sir,' returns the barber; 'he didn't mean to do it.
    He always would go a running about the streets--walking never
    satisfied HIS spirit--and he run against a post and died of a hurt
    in his chest.' The old gentleman says no more until the shaving is
    concluded, and then he gives Crofts half-a-crown to drink his
    health. He is a little doubtful of the barber's veracity
    afterwards, and telling the anecdote to the old lady, affects to
    make very light of it--though to be sure (he adds) there was old
    Parr, and in some parts of England, ninety-five or so is a common
    age, quite a common age.

    This morning the old couple are cheerful but serious, recalling old
    times as well as they can remember them, and dwelling upon many
    passages in their past lives which the day brings to mind. The old
    lady reads aloud, in a tremulous voice, out of a great Bible, and
    the old gentleman with his hand to his ear, listens with profound
    respect. When the book is closed, they sit silent for a short
    space, and afterwards resume their conversation, with a reference
    perhaps to their dead children, as a subject not unsuited to that
    they have just left. By degrees they are led to consider which of
    those who survive are the most like those dearly-remembered
    objects, and so they fall into a less solemn strain, and become
    cheerful again.

    How many people in all, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and one
    or two intimate friends of the family, dine together to-day at the
    eldest son's to congratulate the old couple, and wish them many
    happy returns, is a calculation beyond our powers; but this we
    know, that the old couple no sooner present themselves, very
    sprucely and carefully attired, than there is a violent shouting
    and rushing forward of the younger branches with all manner of
    presents, such as pocket-books, pencil-cases, pen-wipers, watch-
    papers, pin-cushions, sleeve-buckles, worked-slippers, watch-
    guards, and even a nutmeg-grater: the latter article being
    presented by a very chubby and very little boy, who exhibits it in
    great triumph as an extraordinary variety. The old couple's
    emotion at these tokens of remembrance occasions quite a pathetic
    scene, of which the chief ingredients are a vast quantity of
    kissing and hugging, and repeated wipings of small eyes and noses
    with small square pocket-handkerchiefs, which don't come at all
    easily out of small pockets. Even the peevish bachelor is moved,
    and he says, as he presents the old gentleman with a queer sort of
    antique ring from his own finger, that he'll be de'ed if he doesn't
    think he looks younger than he did ten years ago.

    But the great time is after dinner, when the dessert and wine are
    on the table, which is pushed back to make plenty of room, and they
    are all gathered in a large circle round the fire, for it is then--
    the glasses being filled, and everybody ready to drink the toast--
    that two great-grandchildren rush out at a given signal, and
    presently return, dragging in old Jane Adams leaning upon her
    crutched stick, and trembling with age and pleasure. Who so
    popular as poor old Jane, nurse and story-teller in ordinary to two
    generations; and who so happy as she, striving to bend her stiff
    limbs into a curtsey, while tears of pleasure steal down her
    withered cheeks!

    The old couple sit side by side, and the old time seems like
    yesterday indeed. Looking back upon the path they have travelled,
    its dust and ashes disappear; the flowers that withered long ago,
    show brightly again upon its borders, and they grow young once more
    in the youth of those about them.

    CONCLUSION

    We have taken for the subjects of the foregoing moral essays,
    twelve samples of married couples, carefully selected from a large
    stock on hand, open to the inspection of all comers. These samples
    are intended for the benefit of the rising generation of both
    sexes, and, for their more easy and pleasant information, have been
    separately ticketed and labelled in the manner they have seen.

    We have purposely excluded from consideration the couple in which
    the lady reigns paramount and supreme, holding such cases to be of
    a very unnatural kind, and like hideous births and other monstrous
    deformities, only to be discreetly and sparingly exhibited.

    And here our self-imposed task would have ended, but that to those
    young ladies and gentlemen who are yet revolving singly round the
    church, awaiting the advent of that time when the mysterious laws
    of attraction shall draw them towards it in couples, we are
    desirous of addressing a few last words.

    Before marriage and afterwards, let them learn to centre all their
    hopes of real and lasting happiness in their own fireside; let them
    cherish the faith that in home, and all the English virtues which
    the love of home engenders, lies the only true source of domestic
    felicity; let them believe that round the household gods,
    contentment and tranquillity cluster in their gentlest and most
    graceful forms; and that many weary hunters of happiness through
    the noisy world, have learnt this truth too late, and found a
    cheerful spirit and a quiet mind only at home at last.

    How much may depend on the education of daughters and the conduct
    of mothers; how much of the brightest part of our old national
    character may be perpetuated by their wisdom or frittered away by
    their folly--how much of it may have been lost already, and how
    much more in danger of vanishing every day--are questions too
    weighty for discussion here, but well deserving a little serious
    consideration from all young couples nevertheless.

    To that one young couple on whose bright destiny the thoughts of
    nations are fixed, may the youth of England look, and not in vain,
    for an example. From that one young couple, blessed and favoured
    as they are, may they learn that even the glare and glitter of a
    court, the splendour of a palace, and the pomp and glory of a
    throne, yield in their power of conferring happiness, to domestic
    worth and virtue. From that one young couple may they learn that
    the crown of a great empire, costly and jewelled though it be,
    gives place in the estimation of a Queen to the plain gold ring
    that links her woman's nature to that of tens of thousands of her
    humble subjects, and guards in her woman's heart one secret store
    of tenderness, whose proudest boast shall be that it knows no
    Royalty save Nature's own, and no pride of birth but being the
    child of heaven!

    So shall the highest young couple in the land for once hear the
    truth, when men throw up their caps, and cry with loving shouts -

    GOD BLESS THEM.
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