Chapter 195860176

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1840-09-16
Page Number4
Word Count3359
Last Corrected2018-02-10
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Chronicle and South Australian Literary Record (SA : 1840 - 1842)
Trove TitleThe Bellmanship - A True Story
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Chapter 1 • • • ''». ' • •

The labours of the Statistical Society, I suppose, have left very few people in ignorance that ours is a borough town, though the inhabitants have not the inestimable privilege of hating each other on principles of the purest piatriotism once every three or lour years, When some soaring

squire or plethoric. manufacturer is ambitious of a seat in Parliament ; by which periphrasis 1 would have it understood, that we return no member, albeit we have a mayor and corporation, a town-hall and lock-up house, and other visible eigns of corporate dignity. Cast your eye, oh reader! "throughthedim vista of departed years," and it is highly probable, if- you look sharp, you will see a youthful couple seated under the elm trees at the west end of the flourishing town of Buzzleton, on the fourth day of June, eighteen hundred and thirty-seven. 1 cannot take it upon me positively to affirm that the lady was " beautiful exceedingly," or that she had the slightest appearance of being a native of a "far countrie"; for it was impossible to suppose for a moment that those bright, cherry-looking lips, rosy coloured cheeks, and mild, happy, blue eyes, belonged, by possibility, to any one but a nice, modest, English girl of eighteen or nineteen. Ncr would it be safe to delude the reader info an improper sympathy with- the hero, by hinting tharhe had the slightest resemblance to those " whiskered pandours and those fierce hussars," who make such aitremendous sensation in novels of fashionable life. No one could ever have fancied him a Hungarian magnate, or Polish prince, or even a German baron; for the fat county of Suffolk was visible in every featuie of the object of my description. A brown suiftout,. with black buttons, thrown loosely kpek, showed a considerable extent' of a fancy-coloured waistcoat, for.the interesting individual—(but why keep up a vain mystery, which the accomplished reader has penetrated long ago ; it was Simpkinson, junior, himself—in short, John Plantagenet Simpkinson, sitting tete-d-t&e with Mary Padden) —for the interesting individual—as I was going to say when tins parenthesis interrupted ine—^ rejoiced in a vast expanse of chest, of -which he was a little conceited; though candour at the same time compels me to admit that the " ample breadth and verge enough," which was so becoming, and indeed heroic, as revealed by the aforesaid fancy-coloured waistcoat, extended itself considerably below the point at which it ought to have grown " fine by degrees and beautifully less," and constituted altogether a square-built young man, with every appearance of health and strength, but none of that stiff-necked hoodleism which the

French people and English milliners call an air distingue. You will perhaps ask why this jolly,' good humoured looking young gentleman had such a magnificent name as Plantagenet; but 1 submit that this is a question more properly directed to his godfathers and godmothers, than to me; but at the same time, if you merely ask for information, and with no sinister intention, 1 .will only mention that his father was the most Eloquent man in our parish, and rejoiced in long words. 1 Now, as. Plantagenet is a name; you will observe, of four syllables, whereas Stubbs is only', of one, you will at once see a primS fade reason why the royal "denomination was preferred, and die name of^the maternal uncle—Mr Stubbs, the opulent brewer' in Chadfield—for this occasion rejected. This is my own opinion; but of course you are at liberty to devise any other reason for lt that may bemore agreeable to yourself. We are not to suppose that the couple I have how introduced to you sat silent all this time, merely bec&tne I have not yet* given you .any account of their conversation ; for it is a circum-' stance well known to our whole townthat Miss Padden had a total aversion to the absurd trises of the Pythagoreans, so lar as titEdflnlence' was concerned, andm fiict, lost no opportunity of practicing r the divine faculty of speech. ' She: spoke very well and prettily, and there scan be no siiieh Ijeantifal lips andinter^tihg til' eyes would have made very 'inferior language p! offfor elo^irace, at all events in the mind of : Simpkinson, junior. " So yonare gping off to morrow. Tadgy ?" (and ljier£, -oh reader, in another parenthebis^ let me call your attention to : the endearing : diminutive T«dgy"--ihort for Plantagenet f « To Whiit ^rile U&es may we cOnie, Horatio : '^ Yet;- said Tidgy, vnth i mournful -shake of « it must be such a pretty place that Lon- Sony with; HSfde Park, taid. Mmadtf mi-W^ minster- Abbey^ and - Madame Tassattd, -; Ho.W ; I envyyouaUliiesights!-Ain^you:happyTad^ ; " Noi" replied the " liwouid taaierstay ; at ; Bu«leton, and'beBejir TOu, Pblly." . HSSdur; ^ervaht, Mr nantigeAet^ said She claspofmesentimental'sw^i^W^ coquetsy.'or pr«priety,.«iS) preservbanew white will^uo&ertiS&tp 'm&i&ai^tl wfts^ft fiflbohg for a compliment* l aseure yoiu."

" But it is no compliment, Polly—it is only the truth; and why shouldn't-f-be.sorry to leave Buzzleton? Here will be no nice walks like this, nor listening to your songs, nor talking of whatV to happen." " When ?T interrupted Miss Padden. " Why, when ycur father and mine think we are sensible. "Now don't pretend, Polly—for this is our last day together, and 1 want to hear you tell me again seriously and solemnly will keep constant for the two years, and marry me at the end." " - Shall wc be sensible then, Tadgy?" enquired' the lady, looking archly at the earnest face of her ^mirer. ; Father says so," was the reply, and in a tone that showed that that awful authority would have secured Mr Plantagenefs credence to a still more wonderful event. " We-ought to be much obliged to our father," said the young lady. * 1 for guaranteeing such a reformation; t»ut, -indeed, Tadgy, the. chance of changing your mind is all on your side. You will see such designing people at Almack's and Vauxhalland? "Never trouble yourself about designing people,: dear Polly; write to me eveiy week, and as lam to cdine down every half year for three weeks, we shall do almost as'well as if ive met" •" And you will write faithfully, and think of me always ?" mid Mary, in a voice from which all liveliness had disappeared. Mr Plantagenet Simpkinson again laid his hand upon the pretty little white kid glove, which this time wns not withdrawn, and looking in the sweet blue eyes which J have already mentioned, said— " Won'i I?—that's alL" Miss Padden seemed quite as satisfied with this declaration'as if it had been made in wordsof fire upon the bended knee; and I do not feel myself at, liberty to.give any account of what was said on either side, for at least ten minutes. At the end of that time an individual was seen walking towards them at tbe other extremity of the alley. " Here's that horrid boy, Bob," said Mary, looking jsomewhat displeased. . *'Infernal troublesome fooll" muttered Mr Plantagenet, " I to kick him into die liver." Chapter II. The enquiring reader is anxious to be informed who and what was Bob. ^ Bob was Mary's younger brother, and the most disagreeable detestable boy that was' ever known in Buzzleton. Those who had studied GtH&oer's Travels called him the Yahoo; those who trusted only to their own sense of fitness m, the art of .nomenclature, called 1

bim the Beast. But tliis, being a generic name, was varied by the more acute disciples of Buffon,' byieferring him to any particular species which appeared appropriate to his peculiar qualities— the ass, the owl, the ostrich, the baboon, end a variety of other respectable citizens of the animal kingdom, were called upon to furnish a designation for Mr Robert Padden ; and it was this amalgam of Mr Polito's menagerie that caused auch a disagreeable sensation by his appearance in the, elm walk, and excited a strong inclination in the usually pacific bosom of Plantagenet to drown him in the deep waters of the Buzzle. Bob, however, as if unconscious of any feelings of the kind, lounged iip to where the youthfnl pair were seated, and,.with a sulky look towards the young gentleman, enquired of his sister what she was always walking about with Tadgy Simpk's'n for? Now, this is a very embarrassing sort of ques-' tion; and accordingly Miss Mary, whether from not having studied the motives of her 80 doing, or not wishing to reveal them, remained silent; whereupon Mr Simpkinson addressed tbe Yalioo in a tone of voice by uo means common with that good-natured individual, and said— | " Your sister has a right to please herself, I suppose." j : "Vs'po&e she has—and she does it too,"replied the agreeable youth; " I only want to know j who she*Il walk with next when you're gone up to the grocer's shop in London." I " Grocer's shop 1 "—exclaimed Plantagenet: " It is the greatest West India House in the City." . " Well, they sell sugar don't they?—and that's a grocer, is'nt it ? There's no use trying to gammon us here. You're going to be a grocer: now, the last man Mary was spooney with was something better .than that, at any rate." *' What do you mean, Robert?" enquired the sister. * " Why, Boh Darrell, the Chadfield doctor; you know very well; but he's married now, and so you're doing the civil to Tadgy." " Never mind him, Mary, my dear," said Tadgy ; " I don't believe a word he says. .At the same time, I never knew that you were acquainted with Dr Darrell." " I. had a fever three years ago, when I was

staying at your uncle Stubbs's, and be was called in.*' " Yes, and nearly called out too; for young Stubbs, that's gone into the army, wanted to 6hoot him' for being too attentive. Those doctor fellows are always squeezing hands and clutching hold of arms,, and pretend its only feeling the pulse. 1 think Stubbs should have shot him." " What for ?" asked Plantagenet. " Why, for marrying that other woman. He ought to have married Mary." "How can you listen to such nonsense, Tadgy?" stiiA ilikhr-i * you know 'Agreeable way of saying pleasant things. I ai^sure you Dr Dari ell was only a yety good and.. kind doctor ; and, if you like to believe me rather than Bob, you will not mind anjtlungimore he says." • Hantagenet looked : jtt the honest open countenance cf his iuture bridf^ and saw that no deceit c6uldpo6siblylie in thbse deaf innocent eye? ; so he gave her hand aftfetatle squeeze, and looked with ine^ble disdain oti the misdie^bus countenance of ..Mister •0Sh. £ • . . • • i ." Well f said that; gentle squire, " you need"nt sit bill&g and cooing here all day. I'm alraid iBomeliody may go and teil ftther ; and I know he" would^be very imgry if h^' knew you had been canying; On your rigs hefore the .whole' Town. You had better come home, Mary; for if anybody, does tell father, and l'm called in as a witness, 1 am afn^d I niuBt tell ^l i've seen." ; " What have you seen, jpu insolent blodchead?* eaid Plantagenet, springing up. " Oh. never mindi If you're really going to many bur Mar y, it 'doesn't much matter. I only hope Bhe won't be disappointed again—that's alL" • • " 1. never u>as disappointed, you idle, falsejtongued, intolerable wretch I" exclaimed IHaty, t^e tears of anger and vexation springing into her : eyes. " ~ --- * Were nt you?** replied the benevolent; brother ; " then tbat% a pleasure to come; for' ; ypu may depend upon it, when Tadgy rises to; bev a grbcer on his own account, hell forget you as easily as Boctor Parte®;" ^ The speaker came moreabruptly to aclbsethan wu^s^custom^^or he^w&omethingso'peculiar^in the flashing eyes and swelling chest of Plantagenet, that he thought it better to decamp at once. He in which he had made Ms approach • and tie

lovers felt as if relieved from some horrible oppression, when they saw the long figure of the overgrown Yahoo, with his coat a jbile too large for his thin body, and his trowsers senile too short for his long l ^ ^Sri^ the ^oleext^t of his WeUingtons, slo^y disappeztar at the turning-of the elm walk. " Thank faeaVen I tiave jiot ihdved him ^ tlie waterl'*^ genet,^ivtieu•'&" found that, for this occasion, he was free from guilt of murder. ; I can't underetand "wbat pleasure the boy can have in saying disagreeable things, and inventingsuch abominable stories," was the' contemporaneous observationofhisaster. 1 And hereupon followed'a full explanation of all the incidents that the YahOo, either then or at any former time, had alluded to : and, as usually happens in affiaire of that kind, both paitieB felt that the attempt of Mr Bob to sow dissension, had had the very opposite effect, by giving an opening to a more full and free communication than could have been fouiid under any other circumstances. / • - .. On getting up to go home, it might have been remarked by those who are superstitiously inclined that the first object that presented itself to the eyes of the lovers, was an enormous placard on a man's back, containing in letters at least three inches long, the words " Tapps for Bellman;" and in snail letters, " come to the poll on Tuesday the eleventh.;' I do notkifow whether any thrill of sympathetic horror rushed through the hearts of Mary and her admirer on seeing those appalling woids; but it is .highly probable, if they had: forseen all the misfortunes that ,those large red letters gave rise to, they would have wished that the father of Mr Tapps the candidate had died in his infancy, or that Tapps himself had been hin over by the Manchester and Liverpool tnun. I have no reason to suppose, however, that any of those aspirations with regar£ to Mr Tapps or bis father were uttered by eithW of our friends ; so I will not detain the reader any longer, but inform him that, with a heavy heart, a large trunk, and two carpet bags, Plantagenet Simpkinson took'his departure, from Buzzleton dn the following day,' and in due course of time-arrived at his destination m the city.^ And there, for a short space; I leave him to his invoices and bills of lading ^hu threelegged stool, and his letter once a-week to the true-hearted Mary Padden. I dont believe that there eyier was a man who wis a great orator. or a great poet, or a great anytljing (except perhaps a great ass), without knowing it- There never was such a thing as a mute inglorious Milton, a dumb Demosthenes, or a

blind Thomson or Daddingstone. It is therefore not to be supposed that Mr Simpkinson, senior, was ignorant of his own powers; so far £rom. it, indeed, that I have even heard it hinted, that, if it were possible, he overrated them ; but this, even if it were true, is a very venial fault, for it is surely much belter to be a little anxious to discover and dwell upon modest merits, wherever they aire found, whether in one's self or in others, than todeny or undervalue them. There were few things in which Mr Simpkinson found-himself deficient ^ history, theology, architecture; spoiling, jpolhics; business, or accomplishment;were equally at hjs finger-ends; but his forte, as .1 have already l&ifed in my attempt to explain the reason of his calling his son Plantagenet instead of Stubbs, was decidedly oratory. He was oratorical at breakfast, at dinner, in the news-room, iu buying a pound- of snuff, in ordering a pair of trowsers. In fact, he was altogether an orator; and you could no more have stood five minutes under an archway with 1 him than with Edmund Burke, without : discover-' ing that he wits an extraOrdmaty ; maii. Mr Simp^ kimioa »at iio -f^maMn - ii- nwo Hirfpjl ^ ' was sleeping partner in the Chadfield elothmiUsi and also that he had a share in Stubb's brew'ery; but whether he had entered into , any d.f those speculations or not, does not materially concerii any body but himself. Mr Padden also lived, as the phrase has it, cn his means—a plain man, without much affectation, except an affectation of knowing whether anything' was " gMtlemanly ,, qr ! not,—a sort of provincial Chestetfield, *wli6 ;fojrj: gave any thing, however •(^ng--^urder itself, 1 verily believe—provided it were done ui a gentle.' manly manner. family, was unknowiu He maintameil a' sfinctsileiic^ as indeed yoU;^nd is d aristocracy, on the subject ofliis ancient descent, and even on the inferior point of the^ achievements of his our, town suspected^' from an alm^ ^j>erhuman knowi^ge he dispayed j^qut ribbbns^i^' sarsenets, that he must have come fi^m Cbyen!^.: This suspicion had bejra.famt^ to him by one or two of his acquaintance; but^jie.showed so much touchiness iuid irritability oh the subject, that few people woidd have ventured to renew the insinuation. This,. I grant, is a Tetyiseagire account of our two chief inhabitants; but I hope

any deficiency in exactness or resemblance will be supplied in the next edition ot Lord Brougham's sketches of distinguished charactcxa in tbe reiginV of the two last Georges. Therein also, let be permitted me to: hope, that TRsBpS wiH not fce forgottem . .. .. _ . ••.•'.'•";• • Oh the eventful fui^y the whede town rushed distractedly to the town-lu4i :* Tapps on the one side of the diair, Hicks rivid candidate - on the other - the mayor ibetween the two, lookingas _likeas hecould to;Herculesbetween vice and virtue; the. e^iecta^ofaces of thea?-: semblage—for it was ruhaoured that Mr Simpkinson would speak—these, widi the : inferior access sOTies of clerks at the table, and the widow of &e deceased bellman in the for^round, bearing the s badge of her late husband's during this momentous interregnum, formed a subject which 1 feel «urprised has not taeiijBeized upon' by Hayter or WiBde. A bustle is heard in the middle of the hall—an arm bearing aloft a best whitei beaver, waves impatiently forward to the chair— a way is made, and Mr. Padden mounts die steps, and turns towards the audience as if in a£t to speak. . He speaks—he awells—he waves his he fljuinpjj tte.SiBSae; V Ob feeavensd- ioFJ earth 1 oh seal he concludes a powerful harangue by proposing Iplkst ; Wliatl j^me; Hicb when he knew—~when all Buzzletbi^when all England Imew that' St^^^n cupipc^ed 1 Tapps j Astonishment kept toe whole assembly' silent for a space, which was orfy interrupted l^ the short proud cough with which' tiu^ orator, cleared his throat. he stood forward^iittle, and -beginning in a low tone of voice, he worked himaelf iBto ja paroxysm of eloquence ; then sinking hifUtone, again* went through the whole compass of h^ wonderful., voice, fleeching;prBying,- rot^gi bifflitogi ' s^ ing, stamping, and thumping, sometime* the little table, sometunes ;one lund agMnst;the.'Other;>4ill |t was impoissible „not, to l>eUeye:ithatr;he ;was ; fac^is good ^^bitastl^illUstri^ ,tft/,yie : grater ^M^^^^^toiy!. 1 v^'Wheii 5:1' Reflect," he sai^,'Iqn the mwutMe^ Whatl^we

"W to cringe to a divaricated hallucination ?' Are we to bend ourselves at the shrine of adepHogisticated parabola, and yield intense submission to the dictates ot sin xtaathematised lyperbole? Perish the tbe othCT, U1^e ftder^aje^of I breathing forth tbe condensed maligiutyDf atrocious : bellman t>f this town {"—(great cheers).' But it is impossible to report tbe epee^i as it deserves, and, therefore, as I r^llert-ipdi^ia elevating one's hero, consists not' ic vere description, but ib rejpresenting the efie^ prodoced by him upon of here, I shall proceed to tbe next morning, nanncly Wednesday, the !^h, when\the followwg sorrespond^^tookplace* ^