Sidor som bilder

to fame, he may say of his own portion of it, as Ariosto did in the motto of his house

"Parva sed apta mihi!"

Mr. Suckmug was "a powerful lusher." As he sat in the little nook next the door in Ben Morgan's famous room in Maiden Lane, making his six-of-brandies disappear in a style that would have done honour to Mynheer Van Dunck himself, and remarking now and then in philosophic soliloquy, that "time was made for slaves and reporters, and not for editors and gentlemen," he found it so difficult to keep count, that he adopted the following plan. On entering the room of "the Wits' Resort," he took care that the left-hand pocket of his waistcoat should be empty, and the right-hand one sufficiently stocked with sixpences for his purpose. When he sat down he passed a sixpence from right to left, and he did the same thing every time that he saw the bottom of his glass, which was as speedily replenished by a telegraphic understanding between himself and Jacob the waiter. When he came at length to the last of his coins, which he called the Last of the Mohicans, he composed himself to sleep in his niche, and when, after the lapse of some time, the waiter had wished all the other topers "good morning," he proceeded to empty Mr. Suckmug's pockets on his tray. From the left-hand one he took the exact score of the editor's liquor, and from the right his own perquisite. He then called one of "Hansard's patents," and having buttoned Mr. Suckmug up like a toad in a hole, he gave his hat a slap down on his face to keep out the night air from his lungs, telling at the same time the cabman to deliver his charge at number something in the Waterloo-road, two-pair back, and to be sure to drive easy over the stones.


On a Saturday afternoon, at about three of the clock in the month. of May, in the year to which the history now refers, the man of the Slop had just concluded his foreign leader. It was on the Battle of Navarino, which had taken place some years before, and which it pleased him to fight over again, for the benefit of the Slop, and the great powers of Europe. His domestic article he postponed until he could compile from it the evening journals. Leaving his portfolio to his sub and the foreman printer, he proceeded down the Strand to dine at the Coal Hole with two guests whom he had invited, an eminent tragedian and an Irish law student, who was then what is aptly called "eating his way to the bar," at that most classic and respectable of all our forensic temples, Gray's Inn, Holborn.

Both these men, like our hero of the broad sheet, were bottle-men of prime quality. Ward was well known, from the Wrekin in Vinegar Yard, to the Blue Posts in Cork-street; from the Cock in Aldgate, to the Yorkshire Stingo, beyond the Regent's Park; in fact, in every taberna within a circle of three miles round Drury Lane theatre. O'Driscoll was accustomed to swear that he could swallow as much as he could swim in; and that Bacchus himself might drink with him in the dark without the fear of being cheated. On this occasion, our hero of the broad sheet entertained the gentlemen of the buskin, and

the aspirant to the long robe, with rump-steak and Rhodes's old port. The solids very soon vanished, and the decanter went briskly round. The toasts which were given and responded to, the subjects which were discussed, the anecdotes which were told, it is not my purpose to denarrate; but at eight o'clock, when Billy Black, the printer's devil, came from the Slop, and whispered "Copy" in Mr. Suckmug's ear, the state of the case was thus:—

The Tragedian, positively—drunk !

The Irishman, comparatively-more drunk!!
The Editor, superlatively—most drunk !!!

When, after a short delay, the imp being unable to awaken his principal from the benignant collapse into which he had fallen, the subeditor came and shaking him most violently, he poured into one ear his piteous complaint, that the Slop would be ruined; whilst O'Driscoll roared into the other, that the eyes of all England would be on him in the morning. The Tragedian bellowed forth, “Awake, arise, or be for ever,-"and fell under the table. 'Twas all in vain: there he lay, not

“Like a warrior taking his rest,"

but as his facetious Irish acquaintance said, “like a satyr upon soda, or a bolus for a temperance society." If he awoke now and then, from the force of shaking, and the consequent perturbation of the gastric juices, it was only for a moment to hiccup and to say something disrespectful of Moses, whom he was irreligious enough to detest because it had been his misfortune to be a Jew; and for certain reasons of a pecuniary nature, Mr. Suckmug hated every Jew, from Whitechapel to Damascus. Indeed, had he been in the latter city the other day, he would have been just the man for Mehemet Ali, to preside gratis over the soucing process of the old rabbis in the tanks of water. He had long promised to write a history of the Jews, which was to beat those of Josephus and Milman to pieces ;—but this is digression. He was now in a state which would melt the heart of the most hardened Israelite, to say nothing of the good Christians who looked pitifully upon him. What was to be done? The poor sub, who was but a scissors-and-paste man, was afraid to attempt a leader; and in his desolation he thought of me, as he hurried down the Strand. Immediately on arriving at his office, he wrote me the following note, which, unluckily for all parties concerned, I was at home to receive at the moment of its arrival::

Slop Office, 3rd May.

"DEAR SIR,-Mr. Suckmug, our principal editor, has just fallen down in a fit of apoplexy. Mr. Squash, the proprietor, is at Hampstead, with the gravel, and if he were here it would be dangerous to trust him on anything of general politics. Can you - will you supply us with a column to-night, on the all-absorbing topic of the day? Like all talented men you will write best against time, and come out best on an emergency. Try your hand at The Prime Minister and the Pipe Makers.'

Your's, dear Sir, implicitly and affectionately to command,


Little did I imagine that poor Flimsy had thought it unnecessary to write out a political brief for me, or even to point out to me which side of the question I was to take; and little had it occurred to the victim of misplaced confidence, that I knew very little about the merits or demerits of either. In newspaper writing, those who have had experience hold a superabundant stock of statistics in the light of a useless, if not a vicious acquisition. Your mere matter of-fact men in this fugitive species of literature, are worse than your no-factwhatever men, or those fellows whom Plato describes as “full of emptiness.' In a speech or a political article on a topic of which you know little or next to nothing, seize on one fact alone, or one feature, and trust much to fortune and your guardian angel. Make a courageous plunge, and in all probability you will be carried along victoriously by the very force of your subject. Indeed it may often happen that a spirit divine, of which you know nothing, but that you feel it, will bear you on even against your will. A soldier, whose runaway horse charged with him through a battalion of the enemy, and back again, very much against his will, gained, in consequence of the feat, a reputation of unrivalled bravery. Assurance goes a good way with the generality of mankind, and with womankind still farther. My advice, therefore, holds equally good with respect to marriage as with other ventures on the waves of mortality.

On the Saturday evening on which Mr. Suckmug exhibited such a perfect picture of melancholy intoxication, and on which it fell to my unhappy lot to perform his official functions, I confess it, that I myself was not altogether free from the heated influence of conviviality; and a wine-warmed patriot is a dangerous character to trust with matters of state. By one of those ludicrous mistakes which occur to the best regulated minds, I took the wrong side of the question, and did battle with the Premier of England. Poor Flimsy, when my manuscript arrived, was busy over a crim-con report, and without looking at my production, he sent it on to the printer.

Those worthy sons of clay, the pipe-makers, had sent a deputation to the Prime Minister, to request that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his next budget, would propose an enormous duty upon German meerschaums, China bowls, Turkish chabouks, Indian houkas, and Irish knockcrokery; and allow, in addition, every species of tobacco, from all quarters of the world where it was produced, to be imported duty free. The representatives of the combined principles of free trade and the restrictive system were, after a patient audience, very properly, and at the same time very politely, referred to the President of the Board of Trade, with this intimation from his Lordship, that it was his individual opinion government could not possibly sanction such an inconsistency; and that if they did, the House of Commons certainly would not. On this hint I went to work for the martyrs of the great cause of native productions.

I have already told the result. All was consternation and crimination within the precincts of the Slop. It was well for Suckmug that he was brother-in-law to the proprietor; and well was it also for Flimsy, that Mr. Squash owed him considerable arrears of pay, which circumstance prevented his dismissal. The foreman printer

was severely reprimanded; in fact, every soul in the establishment, the printers' devil not excepted, felt the weight of Mr. Squash's indignation. Everybody very naturally blamed the Irish pennya-liner.

"et quæ sibi quisque timebat

Unius in miseri exitium conversa tulêre."

On Monday evening I received a twopenny-post favour, on opening which a sixpence fell out. The note ran as follows :—

“Mr. Squash presents compliments to Mr. O'Shaughnessy, and requests that he will think of no further alliance with the Slop.

"Mr. Squash also presents Mr. O'shaughnessy with a small gratuity for his precious article, headed

"The Premier and the Pipe-Makers.'

He cannot think of paying more for such a very low production. Had it been written after the manner which Mr. O'Shaughnessy can assume when he is not under the indomitable influence of Irish whiskey, Mr. Squash would have been happy to pay for it as usual,— one penny-a-line, as per agreement, poetic quotations and printed extracts excepted.

"Slop office, Monday Morning."

It is an ill wind which blows nobody good. I was now an injured public man, or I appeared to be one. There were those for whom I suffered, who felt for me—or I thought that they did—and I did not allow their feelings to sleep on the subject. This is a good hint for all public characters who have undergone persecution for conscience sake, or the appearance of it. I got a public dinner and a piece of plate (a silver tobacco-box) from the pipe-makers. Whether those who entertained me did so to gratify their own self-love or mine, I did not enquire; nor did I deem the tobacco-box the less valuable because the cost of it was defrayed by three or four of the principal pipe-makers. The great world were not to know this, no more than they do the way in which many tributes are got up for public men. I made two grand orations-one on the liberty of the press, and one on the humanizing influence of tobacco; both of which, like many more illustrious men than myself, I had previously written and committed to memory, having taken care to intersperse them with points which gave them an extemporaneous character. My name was now up beyond Temple Bar; and it only required a little continuance of good luck to make me a Common Councilman, or a Member of Parliament. In those days it was as easy to become the one as the other; if there was any difference, it was in favour of the latter. A company was formed to start a newspaper, in one pound shares, to be called the Gridiron, of which I was to be the editor; and it was fully expected that on it I should make a perfect grill of the Ministry and the Slop. When, however, the worthy citizens came together for the purpose of posting their first deposit of five shillings a-share, they seemed disposed to look twice at their money before they would part with it. One talked about the law of libel, about which he knew nothing; another wanted a place on the paper

for his nephew, who was deemed the genius of the family, because he had a soul above business, and had cut every one of half-a-dozen honest trades to which he had been successively bound; a third said it would be impossible for the shareholders to overhaul the accounts (this man was right); a fourth proposed a censorship to regulate the editor's lucubrations; a fifth would attack the Church; a sixth, the lawyers; a seventh, the "faculty;" an eighth was a downright Ishmaelite. The whole affair went off in smoke, and without any profit having been derived from it, except by the solicitor of the Company and the proprietor of the " Coger's Hall," a celebrated tavern off Fleet-street. Mr. Sharp, of Lion's Inn, charged the Company ten pounds odd for his professional services; and the BrideLane Boniface sold about ten pounds' worth of gin-and-water and short-cut.

"In the woods of the north there are insects that prey
On the brains of the elk till his very last sigh:

O genius! thy patrons more cruel than they,

First feed on thy brains, and then leave thee to die!"

So much for small patriots. Their enthusiasm, when they find themselves at the point of action, is of the character of Bob Acres' courage. To speak of mighty things gives them an agreeable sensation, and they will talk away until their little imagination is wound up to the highest pitch of self-importance. Put them to the test-give a single hint about dangers or deposits, and you'll find that you have been saddling a donkey for the hunters' plate, or whistling gigs to a milestone. "Put not your trust in pipe-makers," said I to myself, as I passed musingly along the crowded thoroughfare of worldly pound. shillings-and-pence faces which leads from the Mansion House to Temple Bar. Having passed the latter barrier, I arrived in a few minutes at my asylum off the Strand, and upon entering my room found the following note lying for me, from a celebrated weekly newspaper proprietor.

"Alderman Hammer, proprietor of the Demon, presents his compliments to Mr. O'Shaughnessy, and begs to say that a column of that journal every week is very much at his service, if it will suit his time and inclination to fill it. Salary no object whatever. Pork sausages, liquors and cigars every Saturday night in the editor's room for the corps; and on Sundays a dinner at Brimstone Lodge, (the alderman's villa overlooks the Thames,) at which Publicola will hold forth on the cant of Christianity and the constitution. An answer will oblige."

I instantly wrote the following response:

"Mr. O'Shaughnessy presents his compliments to Alderman Hammer, and begs leave with many thanks to decline the honour of being enlisted a member of the Demon's corps, or in the most remote capacity to serve under the literary banners of Publicola. One of those points in the constitution which form a drawback to its perfection

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