chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF LONDON
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"THE SERVANTS' ARMS."
UPON the same day that this event took place, Mr. Whittingham,
the butler of Richard Markham, had solicited and obtained permission to pass the
evening with a certain Mr. Thomas Suggett, who occupied the distinguished post
of valet de chambre about the person of the Honourable Arthur Chichester.
Whittingham was determined to enjoy himself: - he seemed suddenly to have cast
off twenty years from his back, and to walk the more upright for having rid
himself of the burthen;- his hat was slightly cocked on one side; and, as he
walked along, with Mr. Thomas Suggett tucked under his arm, he struck his
silver-headed bamboo, which he always carried with him when he went abroad on
Sundays and holidays, very forcibly upon the pavement. Mr. Suggett declared
"that, for his part, he was very well disposed for a spree;" and he
threw into his gait a most awful swagger, which certainly excited considerable
attention, because all the small boys in the streets laughed at him as he wended
on his way.
"I wonder what them urchins are garping at so,' said
Whittingham. " It mystificates me in no inconsiderable degree. Raly the
lower orders of English is exceedingly imperlite. I feel the most inwigorated
disgust and the most unboundless contempt for their manners."
"That's jist like me," observed Suggett: " I
can't a-bear the lower orders. I hate everythink wulgar. - But, by the bye, Mr.
Whittingham, do you smoke?"
" I can't say but what I like a full-flavoured Havannah
- a threepenny, mind," added the butler, pompously.
"Just my taste, Mr. Whittingham. If I can't afford
threepennies, I won't smoke at all."
Mr. Suggett entered a cigar shop, purchased half-a-dozen real
Havannahs, (manufactured in St. John-street, Clerkenwell), joked with the young
lady who served him, and then presented the one which he considered the best to
his companion. The two gentlemen's gentlemen accordingly lighted their cigars,
and then continued their walk along the New Road, in the vicinity of which Mr.
Whittingham had met Mr. Suggett by appointment upon this memorable afternoon.
In a short time Mr. Suggett stopped suddenly at the door of a
large white public-house, not a hundred miles distant from the new church, St.
"This is a nice crib," said he. "Excellent
company; and to-night there is a supper at eleven.''
"The very identified thing," acquiesced Mr.
Whittingham; and into the public-house they walked.
Nothing could be more neat and cleanly than the bar of the Servants'
Arms - no one more obliging nor bustling than the "young lady behind
the bar. The Servants' Arms was reported to draw the best liquor in all
the neighbourhood; and its landlord prided himself upon the superiority of his
establishment over those which sold beer "at three-pence a-pot in your own
jugs." And then what a rapid draught the landlord had for all his good
things, and how crowded was the space before the bar with customers.
"Glass of ale - mild, Miss, if you please," said
"A quartern of gin and three outs, Caroline," cried
a second, who was more familiar.
"Pint of half-and-half, here,'' exclaimed a third.
"Six of brandy, warm, Miss - four of gin, cold, and a
pint of ale with the chill off - parlour!" ejaculated the waiter, who now
made his appearance at the bar.
"Pot of porter; and master's compliments and can you
lend him yesterday's Advertiser for half an hour or so I said a pretty
little servant girl, placing a large yellow jug on the bright lead surface of
"Pot of ale, and a screw, Miss."
"Pint of gin, for mixing, please."
"Bottle of Cape wine, at eighteen, landlord."
"Four-penn'orth of rum, cold without."
"Half pint of porter, and a pipe, Caroline."
Such were the orders, issued from all quarters at the same
moment, and to which Caroline responded with incredible alacrity; finding time
to crack a joke with the known frequenters of the house, and to make a pleasant
observation upon the weather to those whose faces were strange to her; - while
the landlord contented himself with looking on, or every now and then drawing a
pot of beer, apparently as a great favour and in a lazy independant manner.
Nevertheless, he was a good, civil kind of a man; [-28-] only
somewhat independent, because he was growing rich. He was never afraid at the
end of the mouth to see Truman and Hanbury's collector, and Nicholson's man,
alight from their gigs at his door. They were always sure to find the money
ready for them, when they sate down to write their receipts in the little narrow
slip of a parlour behind the bar. In fact, the landlord of the Servants' Arms,
was reported to be doing "a very snug business:" - and so he was.
Messrs. Whittingham and Suggett sauntered leisurely into the
parlour of the Servants' Arms, and took their seats at the only
table which remained unoccupied.
"Good evening, Sir," said the waiter, addressing
Mr. Suggett with a sort of semi-familiarity, which showed that the latter
gentleman was in the habit of using the house.
"How are you, William?" cried Mr. Suggett, in a
patronising manner. "George been here lately?"
"Not very: I think he's down in the country."
"Oh! Well, what shall we have, Mr Whittingham - brandy
"That's my inwariable beverage, Mr. Suggett."
"Two sixes, gentlemen?" said the waiter.
"No," answered Mr. Whittingham, solemnly, "two
shillings' worth, to begin with."
The liquor was supplied, and when the two gentlemen had
tasted it, and found it to their liking they glanced around the room to survey
the company. It soon appeared that Mr. Suggett was well known to many of the
gentlemen present; for, upon making his survey, he acknowledged, with a nod or a
short phrase, the bows or salutations of those with whom he was acquainted.
"Ah! Mr. Guffins, always up in the same corner,
eh?" said he, addressing a middle-aged man in seedy black: "got a new
work in the press, 'spose? You literary men contrive to enjoy yourselves, I
know. How do you do, Mr. Mac Chizzle?" looking towards a short, pock-marked
man, with a quick grey eye, and black hair combed upright off his forehead:
"how get on the clients? Plenty of business, eh? Ah I you lawyers always
contrive to do well. Mr. Drummer, your servant, sir. Got a good congregation
"The chapel thriveth well, I thank you - as well as can
be expected in these times of heathen abominations," answered a
demure-looking middle aged gentleman who was clad in deep black and wore a white
neck-cloth, which seemed (together with the condition of his shirt and
stockings) to denote that although he had gained the confidence of his flock, he
had certainly lost that of his washer- woman. After having taken a long draught
of a pint of half-and-half which stood before him, he added, "There is a
many savoury vessels in my congregation - reputable, pious, and prayer-full
people, which pays regular for their sittings and fears the Lord."
"Well, I am glad of that," ejaculated Mr Suggett.
"But, ah!" he cried, observing a thin white haired old gentleman, with
huge silver spectacles hanging half-way down his nose,- "I'm glad to see
Mr. Cobbington here. How gets on the circulating library, eh,.-sir ?"
"Pretty well - pretty well, thank'ee," returned the
bookseller: "pretty well - considering."
A great many people qualify their observations and answers by
the addition of the word "considering;" but they seldom
vouchsafe an explanation of what is to be considered. Sometimes they use the
phrase "considering all things;" and then the mind has so much
to consider, that it cannot consider any one thing definitively. It would be
much more straightforward and satisfactory if persons would relieve their
friends of all suspense, and say boldly at once, as the case may be, "considering
the execution I have got in my house;" or "considering the writ
that's out against me;" or even "considering the trifling
annoyance of not having a shilling in my pocket, and not knowing where to look
for one." But, somehow or another, people never will be candid now-a-days;
and Talleyrand was right when he said that "language was given to man to
entable him to conceal his thoughts."
Mr. Suggett glanced a little further around the room, and
recognized another old acquaintance.
"Ah! Snoggles, how are you?"
well, thank'ee-how be you?"
"Blooming! but how come you here?"
dropped in quite permiscuously," answered Snoggles, "and finding good company, stayed.
But it is up'ards o' three years since I see you, Mr. Suggett."
"About. What grade do you now fill in the profession? Any promotion ?"
sorry to say not," replied Mr. Snoggles, shaking his head mournfully. "I've
tumbled off the box down to a level with the osses;" which, being interpreted,
means that Mr. Snoggles had fallen from the high estate of coachman to the less
elevated rank of ostler. "But what rank do you now hold ?"
left off the uniform of tiger last month," answered Mr. Suggett, "and
received the breve o walley-de-chambre."
gentleman one of the profession?" demanded Snoggles, alluding to Mr.
Markham's butler, sir, at your service,' said Whittinghain, bowing with
awe-inspiring stiffness: "and I may say, without exaggerating, sir, and in
no wise compromising my indefatigable character for weracity, that I'm also Mr.
Markham's confidential friend. And what's more, gen'leman," added the butler,
glancing proudly around the room. "Mr. Richard Markham is the finest young
man about this stupendous city of the whole universe - and that's as true as that
this is a hand."
Mr. Whittingham concluded this sentence, he extended his arm to display the hand
relative to which he expressed such confidence; and while he flourished the arm
to give weight to his language, the aforesaid hand encountered the right eye of
the dissenting parson.
case of assault and battery," instantly exclaimed Mr. Mac Chizzle, the lawyer;
" and here are upwards of a dozen witnesses for the plaintiff."
really beg the gentleman's pardon," said Whittingham.
"Special jury - sittings after term - damages five hundred pounds," exclaimed Mac
harm was intended," observed Suggett.
Not a bit," added Snoggles.
for Plaintiff - enter up judgment - issue execution - ca. sa. in no time," said Mac
I am used to flagellations and persecutions at the hands of the ungodly," said
the Reverend Mr. Drummer, rubbing his eye with his fist, and thereby succeeding
in inflaming it.
"Perhaps the reverend gentleman wouldn't take it amiss if I
was to offer him my apologies in a [-29-] extra powerful glass of brandy and water!" exclaimed
"Bribery," murmured Mac Chizzle.
"No, let us have a bowl of punch at once," exclaimed
"And corruption," added the lawyer.
bowl of punch was ordered, and the company was invited to partake of it. Even
Mr. Mac Chizzle did not hesitate; and the dissenting minister, in order to convince Mr. Whittingham that
he entirely forgave him, consented to partake of the punch so often that he at
length began slapping Mr. Whittingham upon the back, and declaring that he was
the best fellow in the world.
conversation became general; and some of it is worth recording.
"I hope to have your patronage, sir, for my circulating
library," said Mr. Cobbington to the butler.
"Depends, sir, upon the specified nature of the books it
contains," was the reply.
"I have nothing but moral romances in which vice is
always punished and virtue rewarded."
"That conduct of yours is highly credulous to you."
"All books is trash, except one," observed Mr. Drummer,
winking his eyes in an extraordinary manner. "They teaches naught but
swearing, lewd conversation, ungodliness, and that worst of all vices -
"I beg you to understand, sir," exclaimed Mr.
who had hitherto remained a silent spectator of the proceedings, although a
persevering partaker of the punch; " I beg you to understand, Mr. Drummer, my
works, sir, are not the trash you teem to allude to."
" I won't understand nothing nor nobody," answered the
reverend gentleman, swaying backwards and forwards in his chair. "Leave me
to commune with myself upon the vanities of this wicked world, and - and - drink
my punch in quiet."
"Humbug!" exclaimed the literary man, swallowing his
resentment and the remainder of his punch simultaneously.
"Ah!" said the bookseller, after a pause; "nothing
now succeeds unless it's in the comic line. We have comic Latin grammars, and
comic Greek grammars; indeed, I don't know but what English grammar, too, is a
comedy altogether. All our tragedies are made into comedies by the way they are
performed; and no work sells without comic illustrations to it. I have brought
out several new comic works, which have been very successful. For instance, 'The
Comic Wealth of Nations;' 'The Comic Parliamentary Speeches;' 'The
of the Poor-Law Commissioners,' with an Appendix containing the 'Comic Dietary
Scale;' and the 'Comic Distresses of the Industrious Population.' I
even propose to bring out a 'Comic Whole Duty of Man.' All these books sell well:
they do admirably for the nurseries of the children of the aristocracy. In fact
they are as good as manuals and text-books.
"This rage for the comic is most unexpressedly
remarkable," observed the butler.
"It is indeed!" ejaculated Snoggles; and, in order to
illustrate the truth of the statement, he jerked a piece of lemon-peel very
cleverly into the dissenting parson's left eye.
"That's right - stone me to death!" murmured the
gentleman. "My name is Stephen - and it is all for righteousness' sake! I know I'm a chosen
vessel, and may become a martyr. My name is Stephen, I tell you - Stephen
He then began an eulogium upon rneekness and resignation
under injuries, and reiterated his conviction that he was a chosen vessel; but,
becoming suddenly excited by a horse-laugh which fell upon his ear, he forgot
all about the chosen vessel, and lifted another very savagely from the table.
In a word, he seized a pewter pot in his hand, and would have hurled it at Mr.
Snoggles' head, had not Mr. Whittingham stopped the dangerous missile in time,
and pacified the reverend gentleman by calling for more punch.
"We must certainly have those two men bound over to keep
the peace," said Mac Chizzle; "two sureties in fifty, and themselves in a
" I shall dress the whole scene up for one of the Monthlies," observed Mr.
"If you do, you'll be indictable for libel," said Mac
Chizzle. "The greater the truth, the greater the libel."
In the meanwhile Suggett and his friend Snoggles drew close
to each other, and entered into conversation.
"It must be about three years since I saw you last, said
"Three year, come January," observed Suggett.
" Ah! I've seed some strange wicissitudes in the
interval," continued Snoggles. "I went abroad as coachman, with a dashing young
chap of the name of Winchester "
"The devil you did! how singular! why my present
guvner's name is Chichester."
"Well, I des say they're cousins then," said the
"but I hope your'n won't treat you as mine did me. He seemed to have no end
of tin for some months, and lived - my eye, how he lived! King's Bench dinners
ain't nothin' to what his'n was; and yet I've heard say that the prisoners live
there better than their creditors outside. Howsomever - things didn't always go
on swimmingly. We went to Baden - called so cos of the baths; and there my guvner
got involved in some gambling transactions, as forced him to make his name Walker. Well, he bolted, leaving all his traps behind, and me amongst them, and
not a skurrick to pay the hotel bill and find my way back agin to England. The
landlord he seized the traps, and I was forced to walk all the way to - I forget
the name of the place "
"Constantinople, perhaps," said Suggett, kindly
endeavouring to assist his friend in his little geographical embarrassments.
"No; that ain't it," returned Snuggles. "Howsomever,
I had every kind of difficulty to fight up against; and I never see my guvner
from that day to this. He owed me eight pound, nineteen, and sixpence for
wages; and he was bound by contract to bring me back to England."
"Disgraceful raskel, that he was!' ejaculated Mr.
Suggett. "I raly think that we gentlemen ought to establish a society for
our protection. The Licensed Witlers have their Association; why
have the Gentlemen's Gentlemen organized into a society?"
"Why not?" said Snoggles.
The waiter now acquainted the company that supper was ready
in an upstairs room for those who liked to partake of it. All the gentlemen
whose names have been introduced to the reader in connect-[-30-]ion with the parlourof the
Servants' Arms, removed to the
banquetting saloon, where the table was, spread with a white cloth and black
handled kniyes and forks. At intervals stood salt cellars and pepper boxes,
the latter resembling in shape the three little domes upon the present National Gallery
Square. A huge round of boiled beef tripe both boiled and fried, and rump
steaks, formed the supper. The methodist parson insisted upon being allowed to
say grace - or, as he expressed it, "ask a blessing," for which purpose the
same neighbours who bad kindly helped him up the stairs, now, sustained him
upon his legs. Dread was the havoc then made upon the various dainties on the
table, Mr. Guffins being especially characterised by a good appetite upon
The Reverend Mr. Drummer was also far from being behind-hand
in this onslaught upon the luxuries supplied by the Servants' Arms; and while
he bolted huge mouthfuls of boiled beef, he favoured the company with an
excellent moral dissertation - upon abstemiousness and self-mortification. Mr.
Drummer was, however, one of those who content themselves with inculcating
morality, and do not consider it necessary to set an example in their own
persons; for, after having clearly demonstrated that gluttony and drunkenness
lead to blasphemy, ungodliness, and profane swearing, he abruptly turned to the landlord, who presided at the
supper-table, and, holding his
plate to be filled for the fourth time, exclaimed, "Dn your eyes, don't
cut it so infernally thick!"
After supper, "glasses round" of hot brandy and water were introduced,
and the conversation was carried on with considerable spirit. It was mid
night before the party thought of breaking up, although several of the gentlemen
present had already begun to see three or four Dutch clocks staring them in the
face besides the one which graced the wall. As for the Reverend Mr. Drummer, he
declared that he was so affected by the ungodly proceedings of those present
that he should forthwith endeavour to wash away their guilt with his tears; and
it is distressing to be compelled to observe that all the reward this truly
pious and deserving man experienced at the hands of the ungrateful company,
was the cruel accusation that he was "crying drunk." This disgraceful
behaviour produced such an effect upon his naturally nervous temperament, that
he fell flat upon the floor, and was compelled to be taken in a wheelbarrow to
his own house close by.
We may also add here that on the following day this proceeding was
rumoured abroad, so that the much
injured minister was necessitated to justify his conduct from the pulpit on the
ensuing sabbath. This he
did so effectually, that two old ladies, who carried small flasks of brandy in
their pockets, were conveyed out of the chapel in a peculiar state - no doubt overpowered by the minister's eloquence. They however
recovered at the expiration of some hours, and immediately opened a subscription to present a
piece of plate to the Reverend Stephen Drummer, together with a vote of thanks
and confidence on the part of the congregation. The vote was respectfully, but
gratefully declined by this holy man; but, after some little entreaty, he was
prevailed upon to accept the plate. From that time to the present day his
congregation has been rapidly increasing; and, although envy and jealousy have
declared that he himself helped to augment its numbers in the shape of three
innocent little children by different servant-girls, he very properly disdained
to contradict the report, and is con sidered by his flock to be a chosen and
savoury vessel of the Lord.
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