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SOME few days after the events just related, Mr. G. M.
Greenwood, M.P., entertained several gentlemen at dinner at his residence in
The banquet was served up at seven precisely: — Mr.
Greenwood had gradually made his dinner hour later as he had risen in the world;
and he was determined that if ever he became a baronet, he would never have that
repast put on table till half-past -eight o'clock.
On the present occasion, as we ere now observed, the
guests were conducted to the dining-room at seven.
The thick curtains were drawn over the windows: the
apartment was a blaze of light.
The table groaned beneath the massive plate: the banquet
was choice and luxurious in the highest degree.
On Mr. Greenwood's right sate the Marquis of Holmesford — a
nobleman of sixty-three years of age, of immense wealth, and notorious for the
unbounded licentiousness of his mode of life. His conversation, when his heart
was somewhat warmed with wine, bore ample testimony to the profligacy of his
morals: seductions wore his boast; and he frequently indulged in obscene
anecdotes or expressions which even called a blush to the cheeks of his least
fastidious male acquaintances.
On Mr. Greenwood's left was Sir T. M. B. Muzzlehem,
Bart., M.P., and Whipper-In to the Tory party.
Next to the two guests already described, sate Sir
Cherry Bounce, Bart., and the Honourable Major Smilax Dapper — the
latter of whom had recently acquired a grade in the service by purchase.
Mr. James Tomlinson, Mr. Sheriff Popkins, Mr. Alderman
Sniff, Mr. Bubble, Mr. Chouse, and Mr. Twitchem (a solicitor) completed the
Now this company, the reader will perceive, was somewhat
a mixed one: the aristocracy of the West End, the civic authority, and the
members of the financial and legal spheres, were assembled on the present
The fact is, gentle reader, that this was a
"business dinner;" and that you may be no longer kept in suspense, we
will at once inform you that when the cloth was drawn, Mr. Greenwood, in a brief
speech, proposed "Success to the Algiers, Oran, and Morocco Railway."
The toast was drunk with great applause.
"With your permission, my lord and gentlemen,"
said Mr. Twitchem, the solicitor, "I will read the Prospectus."
"Yeth, wead the pwothpeckthuth, by all meanth,"
exclaimed Sir Cherry Bounce.
"Strike me — but I'm anxious to hear that,"
cried the Honourable Major Dapper.
The solicitor then drew a bundle of papers from his
pocket, and in a business-like manner read the contents of one which he
extracted from the parcel: —
'ALGIERS, ORAN, AND MOROCCO GREAT DESERT RAILWAY.
"(Provisionally Registered Pursuant to Act.)
"Capital £1,200,000, in 80,000 shares, of £20
"Deposit £2 2s. per Share.
COMMITTE OF DIRECTION.
"THE MOST HONOURABLE THE MARQUIS OF HOLMES.FORD, G.
C. B., CHAIRMAN. -
'GEORGE M. GREENWOOD, ESQ., M.P., DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.
"Sir T. M. B. Muzzlehem, Bart, M.P.
"James Tomlinson, Esq.
"Sylvester Popkins, Esq., Sheriff of London.
"Percival Peter Sniff, Esq., Alderman.
"Sir Cherry Bounce, Bart.
"The Honourable Major Smilax Dapper.
"Charles Cecil Bubble, Esq.
"Robert James Baring Chouse, Esq.
'This Railway is intended to connect the great cities of
Algiers and Morocco, passing close to the populous and flourishing town of Oran.
It will thus be the means of transit for passengers and traffic over a most
important section of the Great Desert, which, though placed in maps in a more
southernly latitude, nevertheless extends to the District through which this
Line is to pass.
"The French government has willingly accorded its
countenance to the proposed scheme; and the Governor-General of Algeria has
expressed his sincere wish that it may be carried into effect.
"The Morocco government (one of the most
enlightened in Africa) has also assented to the enterprise; and the Emperor, the
better to manifest the favour with which be views the project, ordered his Prime
Minister to be soundly bastinadoed for daring to question its practicability.
This proof of the imperial wisdom has filled the Committee and friends of the
enterprise with the most sanguine hopes.
"The support of the principal tribes, and other
influential parties in Algeria and Morocco, has been secured.
"The Emperor of Morocco, on one side, and his
Excellency the Governor-General of Algeria, on the other, have signified their
readiness to grant a strong armed force to protect the engineers and operatives,
when laying down. the rails, from being devoured by wild beasts, or molested by
"The ex-Emir of Mascara, Abd-el-Kadir, has entered
into a bond not to interfere with the works while in progress, nor to molest
those who may travel by the Line when it shall be opened; and, in order to
secure this important concession on the part of the ex-Emir, the Committee have
agreed to make that Prince an annual present of clothes, linen, tobacco, and
"It is with the greatest satisfaction that the
Committee of Direction is enabled to announce these brilliant prospects; and the
Committee beg to state that application for the allotment of Shares mast be made
without delay to James Tomlinson, Esq. Stockbroker, Tokenhouse Yard.
"By order of the Board,
"SHARPLY TWITCHEM, Secretary."
"On my thoul, there never wath any thing
better — conthith, bwief, ekthplithit, and attwactive!" cried
"Sure to take — as certain as I'm in
Her Majesty's service — strike me!" exclaimed Major Dapper.
"I think you ought to have thrown in something
about African beauties," observed the Marquis "they are particularly
stout, you know, being all fed on a preparation of rice called couscousou.
I really think I must pay a visit to those parts next spring."
"I will undertake to get one of the members of the
government to introduce a favourable mention of the project into his speech
to-morrow night, in the House," said Sir T. M. B. Muzzlehem: 'but you must
send him a hundred shares the first thing in the morning."
"That shall be done." answered Mr. Twitchem. [-96-]
"Well, my lord and gentlemen," observed Mr
Greenwood, "I think that this little business looks uncommonly well. The
project is no doubt feasible — I mean, the shares are certain to go
off well. Mr. Bubble and Mr. Chouse will undertake to raise them in public
estimation, by the reports they will circulate in Capel Court. Of course, my
lord and gentlemen, when they are at a good premium, we shall all sell; and if
we do not realise twenty or thirty thousand pounds each — each, mark
me — then shall you be at liberty to say that the free and
Independent electors of Rottenborough have chosen as their representative a dolt
and an idiot in the person of your humble servant."
"Whatever Mr. Greenwood undertakes is certain to
turn to gold," observed Mr. Bubble.
"Can't be otherwise," said Mr. Chouse.
"Mr. Greenwood's name stands so well in the
City," added Mr. Sheriff Popkins.
"And his lordship's countenance to the enterprise
is a tower of strength," exclaimed Mr. Alderman Sniff.
"I have already had many inquiries concerning the
project," said Mr. Tomlinson.
"Yes — Chouse and I took care to
circulate reports in the City that such a scheme was in contemplation,"
"Gentlemen, I think that all difficulties have been
provided against in this Prospectus," cried Mr. Twitchem; — "the
predatory tribes, Abd-el-Kadir, and the wild beasts."
"Nothing could be better," answered Mr.
Greenwood. "Take care that the Prospectus be sent as an advertisement to
every London journal, and the leading provincial ones. You know that I am a
shareholder in one of the London newspapers; and I can promise you that it will
not fail to cry up our enterprise. In fact, my lord and gentlemen," added
Mr. Greenwood, "I have at this moment in my pocket a copy of a leading
article that will appear in that paper, the day after to-morrow."
"My gwathioth! — do read it,
Greenwood," cried Sir Cherry Bounce.
"Yes: I'd give the world to hear it, — smite
me!" ejaculated Major Dapper.
Mr. Greenwood glanced complacently around, and then drew
forth a printed slip, the contents of which were as follow: —
"In our opposition to those multifarious railway
projects which are starting upon all sides, as if some Cadmus had been sowing
bubbles in our financial soil, we have only been swayed by our fears lest such a
number of schemes, which never can obtain the sanction of Parliament, should
injure the credit, and impair the monetary prosperity of the country. It must
not, however, be supposed that we are inimical to those undertakings which are
based upon fair, intelligible, and reasonable grounds. There are many talented,
honourable, and wealthy individuals engaged in speculations of this nature; and,
their motives being beyond suspicion, no one of common sense can for a moment
suppose that we include their projects amongst the airy nothings against
which we are compelled to put the public on their guard. The extension of
railways is internally connected with the progress of civilisation; and when we
behold the principle applied to distant and semi-barbarian countries — as
in the rise, for instance, of that truly grand and promising enterprise, the
Algiers, Oran, and Morocco Great Desert Railway — we feel proud that
England should have the honour of taking the initiative in thus propagating
beyond its own limits the elements of civilisation, and the germs of humanising
influences. At the same time we shall continue our strenuous opposition to all
railway schemes which we consider to be mere bubbles blown from the pipes of
intriguants and adventurers; and we shall never pause until in those pipes we
put an effectual stopper."
"Thuper — ekthellent — glowiouth — majethtic — athtounding!"
ejaculated Sir Cherry, quite in raptures.
"You perceive how beautifully — how
delicately the puff is insinuated," said Mr. Greenwood. "That article
will have an astonishing effect."
"No doubt of it," observed the Marquis.
"You might have contrived to introduce something relative to the Emperor of
Morocco's ladies. Why not state that the Moorish terminus will command a view of
the gardens of the imperial harem, where those divine creatures — each
of seventeen stone weight — are wont to ramble in a voluptuous
"No — no, my lord; that would never do!
" cried Greenwood, with a smile. "And now, my lord and gentlemen, we
perfectly understand each other. Each takes as many shares at he pleases. When
they reach a high premium, each may sell as he thinks fit. Then, when we have
realized our profits, we will inform the shareholders that insuperable
difficulties prevent the carrying out of the project, — that
Abd-el-Kadir, for instance, has violated his agreement and declared against the
scheme, — that the Committee of Direction will therefore retain a
sum sufficient to defray the expenses already incurred, and that the remaining
capital paid up shall be returned to the shareholders."
"That is exactly what, I believe, we all
understand," observed Mr. Twitchem.
"For my part," said Lord Holmesford, "I
only embark in the enterprise to oblige my friend Greenwood; and therefore I am
agreeable to any thing that he proposes."
Matters being thus amicably arranged, the company passed
the remainder of the evening in the conviviality of the table.
At eleven o'clock the guests all retired, with the
exception of the Marquis of Holmesford.
"Now, friend Greenwood," said this nobleman,
"you will keep your engagement with me?"
"Yes, my lord: I am prepared to accompany
"Let us depart at once, then," added the
Marquis, rising from his chair: "my Carriage has been waiting some time;
and I long to introduce you to the voluptuous mysteries of Holmesford
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