But now the wolf's eyes began to glare, and his sharp white teeth to show, and he rose up with a growl, and began to think he should like lamb for supper. At this moment such a terrific yell filled the field, that all its inhabitants started with terror. It was from a donkey, who had somehow got a lion's skin, and now came in at the hedge, pursued by some men and boys with sticks and guns.
When the wolf in sheep's clothing heard the bellow of the ass in the lion's skin, fancying that the monarch of the forest was near, he ran away as fast as his disguise would let him. When the ox heard the noise he dashed round the meadow-ditch, and with one trample of his hoof squashed the frog who had been abusing him. When the crow saw the people with guns coming, he instantly dropped the cheese out of his mouth, and took to wing.
When the fox saw the cheese drop, he immediately made a jump at it for he knew the donkey's voice, and that his asinine bray was not a bit like his royal master's roar , and making for the cheese, fell into a steel trap, which snapped off his tail; without which he was obliged to go into the world, pretending, forsooth, that it was the fashion not to wear tails any more; and that the fox-party were better without 'em. Meanwhile, a boy with a stick came up, and belaboured Master Donkey until he roared louder than ever.
The wolf, with the sheep's clothing draggling about his legs, could not run fast, and was detected and shot by one of the men. The blind old owl, whirring out of the hollow tree, quite amazed at the disturbance, flounced into the face of a ploughboy, who knocked her down with a pitchfork. The butcher came and quietly led off the ox and the lamb; and the farmer, finding the fox's brush in the trap, hung it up over his mantelpiece, and always bragged that he had been in at his death.
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I think I see such a one—a Solomon that sits in judgment over us authors and chops up our children. That wolf in sheep's clothing? That fox discoursing with the crow? Yes, in Lafontaine's fables: let us get the Dictionary and the Fable and the Biographie Universelle, article Lafontaine, and confound the impostor. There is scarce one of these characters he represents but is a villain.
The fox is a flatterer; the frog is an emblem of impotence and envy; the wolf in sheep's clothing a bloodthirsty hypocrite, wearing the garb of innocence; the ass in the lion's skin a quack trying to terrify, by assuming the appearance of a forest monarch does the writer, writhing under merited castigation, mean to sneer at critics in this character? We laugh at the impertinent comparison ; the ox, a stupid commonplace; the only innocent being in the writer's stolen apologue is a fool—the idiotic lamb, who does not know his own mother! Why not? If authors sneer, it is the critic's business to sneer at them for sneering.
He must pretend to be their superior, or who would care about his opinion? And his livelihood is to find fault.
Besides, he is right sometimes; and the stories he reads, and the characters drawn in them, are old, sure enough. What stories are new? All types of all characters march through all fables: tremblers and boasters; victims and bullies; dupes and knaves; long-eared Neddies, giving themselves leonine airs; Tartuffes wearing virtuous clothing; lovers and their trials, their blindness, their folly and constancy. With the very first page of the human story do not love and lies too begin?
So the tales were told ages before Aesop; and asses under lions' manes roared in Hebrew; and sly foxes flattered in Etruscan; and wolves in sheep's clothing gnashed their teeth in Sanskrit, no doubt. The sun shines to-day as he did when he first began shining; and the birds in the tree overhead, while I am writing, sing very much the same note they have sung ever since there were finches.
Nay, since last he besought good-natured friends to listen once a month to his talking, a friend of the writer has seen the New World, and found the featherless birds there exceedingly like their brethren of Europe. There may be nothing new under and including the sun; but it looks fresh every morning, and we rise with it to toil, hope, scheme, laugh, struggle, love, suffer, until the night comes and quiet. And then will wake Morrow and the eyes that look on it; and so da capo. This, then, is to be a story, may it please you, in which jackdaws will wear peacocks' feathers, and awaken the just ridicule of the peacocks; in which, while every justice is done to the peacocks themselves, the splendour of their plumage, the gorgeousness of their dazzling necks, and the magnificence of their tails, exception will yet be taken to the absurdity of their rickety strut, and the foolish discord of their pert squeaking; in which lions in love will have their claws pared by sly virgins; in which rogues will sometimes triumph, and honest folks, let us hope, come by their own; in which there will be black crape and white favours; in which there will be tears under orange-flower wreaths, and jokes in mourning-coaches; in which there will be dinners of herbs with contentment and without, and banquets of stalled oxen where there is care and hatred—ay, and kindness and friendship too, along with the feast.
It does not follow that all men are honest because they are poor; and I have known some who were friendly and generous, although they had plenty of money. There are some great landlords who do not grind down their tenants; there are actually bishops who are not hypocrites; there are liberal men even among the Whigs, and the Radicals themselves are not all aristocrats at heart. But who ever heard of giving the Moral before the Fable? Children are only led to accept the one after their delectation over the other: let us take care lest our readers skip both; and so let us bring them on quickly—our wolves and lambs, our foxes and lions, our roaring donkeys, our billing ringdoves, our motherly partlets, and crowing chanticleers.
There was once a time when the sun used to shine brighter than it appears to do in this latter half of the nineteenth century; when the zest of life was certainly keener; when tavern wines seemed to be delicious, and tavern dinners the perfection of cookery; when the perusal of novels was productive of immense delight, and the monthly advent of magazine-day was hailed as an exciting holiday; when to know Thompson, who had written a magazine-article, was an honour and a privilege; and to see Brown, the author of the last romance, in the flesh, and actually walking in the Park with his umbrella and Mrs.
As I recall them the roses bloom again, and the nightingales sing by the calm Bendemeer. We enjoyed such intimacy with Mr. Hoskins that he never failed to greet us with a kind nod; and John the waiter made room for us near the President of the convivial meeting. We knew the three admirable glee-singers, and many a time they partook of brandy-and-water at our expense. One of us gave his call dinner at Hoskins's, and a merry time we had of it.
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Where are you, O Hoskins, bird of the night? Do you warble your songs by Acheron, or troll your choruses by the banks of black Avernus? The songs were chiefly of the sentimental class; such ditties were much in vogue at the time of which I speak. At least he had not visited it for a long time. He was pointing out changes to a lad who was in his company; and, calling for sherry-and-water, he listened to the music, and twirled his mustachios with great enthusiasm. It was little Newcome, my school-fellow, whom I had not seen for six years, grown a fine tall young stripling now, with the same bright blue eyes which I remembered when he was quite a little boy.
He laughed and looked roguish. He's just come back from India. He says all the wits used to come here,—Mr. I told him your name, and that you used to be very kind to me when I first went to Smithfield.
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I've left now; I'm to have a private tutor. I say, I've got such a jolly pony. It's better fun than old Smile. Here the whiskered gentleman, Newcome's father, pointing to a waiter to follow him with his glass of sherry-and-water, strode across the room twirling his mustachios, and came up to the table where we sate, making a salutation with his hat in a very stately and polite manner, so that Hoskins himself was, as it were, obliged to bow; the glee-singers murmured among themselves their eyes rolling over their glasses towards one another as they sucked brandy-and water , and that mischievous little wag, little Nadab the Improvisatore who had just come in , began to mimic him, feeling his imaginary whiskers, after the manner of the stranger, and flapping about his pocket-handkerchief in the most ludicrous manner.
Hoskins checked this ribaldry by sternly looking towards Nadab, and at the same time called upon the gents to give their orders, the waiter being in the room, and Mr. Bellew about to sing a song.follow
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Newcome's father came up and held out his hand to me. I dare say I blushed, for I had been comparing him to the admirable Harley in the Critic, and had christened him Don Ferolo Whiskerandos. He spoke in a voice exceedingly soft and pleasant, and with a cordiality so simple and sincere, that my laughter shrank away ashamed, and gave place to a feeling much more respectful and friendly. In youth, you see, one is touched by kindness. A man of the world may, of course, be grateful or not as he chooses. And whoever is kind to him is kind to me.
Will you allow me to sit down by you? I have been five-and-thirty years from home, and want to see all that is to be seen. King of Corpus who was an incorrigible wag was on the point of pulling some dreadful long-bow, and pointing out a halfdozen of people in the room, as R. And so they were. A ladies' school might have come in, and, but for the smell of the cigars and brandy-and-water, have taken no harm by what happened. Why should it not always be so? The very greatest scamps like pretty songs, and are melted by them; so are honest people. It was worth a guinea to see the simple Colonel, and his delight at the music.
He forgot all about the distinguished wits whom he had expected to see in his ravishment over the glees. This is better than your aunt's concert with all the Squallinis, hey? I shall come here often. Landlord, may I venture to ask those gentlemen if they will take any refreshment? What are their names? And now young Nadab, having been cautioned, commenced one of those surprising feats of improvisation with which he used to charm audiences. He took us all off, and had rhymes pat about all the principal persons in the room: King's pins which he wore very splendid , Martin's red waistcoat, etc.
And when, coming to the Colonel himself, he burst out—. Clive, best be off to bed, my boy—ho, ho! No, no. We know a trick worth two of that. Why shouldn't my boy have innocent pleasure? I was allowed none when I was a young chap, and the severity was nearly the ruin of me. I must go and speak with that young man—the most astonishing thing I ever heard in my life. What's his name? Nadab, sir, you have delighted me. May I make so free as to ask you to come and dine with me to-morrow at six?
I am always proud to make the acquaintance of men of genius, and you are one, or my name is not Newcome! Put me down for six copies, and do me the favour to bring them to-morrow when you come to dinner. And now Mr. Hoskins asking if any gentleman would volunteer a song, what was our amazement when the simple Colonel offered to sing himself, at which the room applauded vociferously; whilst methought poor Clive Newcome hung down his head, and blushed as red as a peony.
I felt for the young lad, and thought what my own sensations would have been if, in that place, my own uncle, Major Pendennis, had suddenly proposed to exert his lyrical powers. The singer gave his heart and soul to the simple ballad, and delivered Molly's gentle appeal so pathetically that even the professional gentlemen hummed and buzzed—a sincere applause; and some wags who were inclined to jeer at the beginning of the performance, clinked their glasses and rapped their sticks with quite a respectful enthusiasm.
When the song was over, Clive held up his head too; after the shock of the first verse, looked round with surprise and pleasure in his eyes; and we, I need not say, backed our friend, delighted to see him come out of his queer scrape so triumphantly. The Colonel bowed and smiled with very pleasant good-nature at our plaudits. It was like Dr. Primrose preaching his sermon in the prison. There was something touching in the naivete and kindness of the placid and simple gentleman. Great Hoskins, placed on high, amidst the tuneful choir, was pleased to signify his approbation, and gave his guest's health in his usual dignified manner.
Incledon sung it. He was a great singer, sir, and I may say, in the words of our immortal Shakspeare, that, take him for all in all, we shall not look upon his like again. I used to slip out from Grey Friars to hear him, Heaven bless me, forty years ago; and I used to be flogged afterwards, and serve me right too. I was myself nearly two-and-twenty years of age at that period, and felt as old as, ay, older than the Colonel.
Whilst he was singing his ballad, there had walked, or rather reeled, into the room, a gentleman in a military frock-coat and duck trousers of dubious hue, with whose name and person some of my readers are perhaps already acquainted. In fact it was my friend Captain Costigan, in his usual condition at this hour of the night.
Holding on by various tables, the Captain had sidled up, without accident to himself or any of the jugs and glasses round about him, to the table where we sat, and had taken his place near the writer, his old acquaintance. He warbled the refrain of the Colonel's song, not inharmoniously; and saluted its pathetic conclusion with a subdued hiccup and a plentiful effusion of tears.
We call him the General. Captain Costigan, will you take something to drink? And, having procured a glass of whisky-and-water from the passing waiter, the poor old man, settling his face into a horrid grin, and leering, as he was wont when he gave what he called one of his prime songs, began his music. The unlucky wretch, who scarcely knew what he was doing or saying, selected one of the most outrageous performances of his repertoire, fired off a tipsy howl by way of overture, and away he went. At the end of the second verse the Colonel started up, clapping on his hat, seizing his stick, and looking as ferocious as though he had been going to do battle with a Pindaree.
Do you dare, sir, to call yourself a gentleman, and to say that you hold the King's commission, and to sit down amongst Christians and men of honour, and defile the ears of young boys with this wicked balderdash? For shame, you old wretch! Go home to your bed, you hoary old sinner! And for my part, I'm not sorry that my son should see, for once in his life, to what shame and degradation and dishonour, drunkenness and whisky may bring a man.
Never mind the change, sir! Clive seemed rather shamefaced; but I fear the rest of the company looked still more foolish. As the young gentleman who has just gone to bed is to be the hero of the following pages, we had best begin our account of him with his family history, which luckily is not very long.
When pigtails still grew on the backs of the British gentry, and their wives wore cushions on their heads, over which they tied their own hair, and disguised it with powder and pomatum: when Ministers went in their stars and orders to the House of Commons, and the orators of the Opposition attacked nightly the noble lord in the blue ribbon: when Mr. Washington was heading the American rebels with a courage, it must be confessed, worthy of a better cause: there came up to London, out of a northern county, Mr. Thomas Newcome, afterwards Thomas Newcome, Esq. Alderman Newcome, the founder of the family whose name has given the title to this history.
It was but in the reign of George III. Newcome first made his appearance in Cheapside; having made his entry into London on a waggon, which landed him and some bales of cloth, all his fortune, in Bishopsgate Street; though if it could be proved that the Normans wore pigtails under William the Conqueror, and Mr. Washington fought against the English under King Richard in Palestine, I am sure some of the present Newcomes would pay the Heralds' Office handsomely, living, as they do, amongst the noblest of the land, and giving entertainments to none but the very highest nobility and elite of the fashionable and diplomatic world, as you may read any day in the newspapers.
For though these Newcomes have got a pedigree from the College, which is printed in Budge's Landed Aristocracy of Great Britain, and which proves that the Newcome of Cromwell's army, the Newcome who was among the last six who were hanged by Queen Mary for Protestantism, were ancestors of this house; of which a member distinguished himself at Bosworth Field; and the founder, slain by King Harold's side at Hastings, had been surgeon-barber to King Edward the Confessor; yet, between ourselves, I think that Sir Brian Newcome, of Newcome, does not believe a word of the story, any more than the rest of the world does, although a number of his children bear names out of the Saxon Calendar.
Was Thomas Newcome a foundling—a workhouse child out of that village which has now become a great manufacturing town, and which bears his name? Such was the report set about at the last election, when Sir Brian, in the Conservative interest contested the borough; and Mr. Yapp, the out-and-out Liberal candidate, had a picture of the old workhouse placarded over the town as the birthplace of the Newcomes; with placards ironically exciting freemen to vote for Newcome and union—Newcome and the parish interests, etc.
Who cares for these local scandals? It matters very little to those who have the good fortune to be invited to Lady Ann Newcome's parties whether her beautiful daughters can trace their pedigrees no higher than to the alderman their grandfather; or whether, through the mythic ancestral barber-surgeon, they hang on to the chin of Edward, Confessor and King. Thomas Newcome, who had been a weaver in his native village, brought the very best character for honesty, thrift, and ingenuity with him to London, where he was taken into the house of Hobson Brothers, cloth-factors; afterwards Hobson and Newcome.
This fact may suffice to indicate Thomas Newcome's story. Like Whittington and many other London apprentices, he began poor and ended by marrying his master's daughter, and becoming sheriff and alderman of the City of London. But it was only en secondes noces that he espoused the wealthy, and religious, and eminent such was the word applied to certain professing Christians in those days Sophia Alethea Hobson—a woman who, considerably older than Mr. Newcome, had the advantage of surviving him many years. Her mansion at Clapham was long the resort of the most favoured amongst the religious world.
The most eloquent expounders; the most gifted missionaries, the most interesting converts from foreign islands, were to be found at her sumptuous table, spread with the produce of her magnificent gardens. Heaven indeed blessed those gardens with plenty, as many reverend gentlemen remarked; there were no finer grapes, peaches, or pineapples in all England.
Whitfield himself christened her; and it was said generally in the City, and by her friends, that Miss Hobson's two Christian names, Sophia and Alethea, were two Greek words, which, being interpreted, meant wisdom and truth. We are, however, advancing matters. When Thomas Newcome had been some time in London, he quitted the house of Hobson, finding an opening, though in a much smaller way, for himself.
And no sooner did his business prosper, than he went down into the north, like a man, to a pretty girl whom he had left there, and whom he had promised to marry. What seemed an imprudent match for his wife had nothing but a pale face, that had grown older and paler with long waiting turned out a very lucky one for Newcome. The whole countryside was pleased to think of the prosperous London tradesman returning to keep his promise to the penniless girl whom he had loved in the days of his own poverty; the great country clothiers, who knew his prudence and honesty, gave him much of their business when he went back to London.
Susan Newcome would have lived to be a rich woman had not fate ended her career within a year after her marriage, when she died giving birth to a son. Newcome had a nurse for the child, and a cottage at Clapham, hard by Mr. Hobson's house, where he had often walked in the garden of a Sunday, and been invited to sit down to take a glass of wine. Since he had left their service, the house had added a banking business, which was greatly helped by the Quakers and their religious connection; and Newcome, keeping his account there, and gradually increasing his business, was held in very good esteem by his former employers, and invited sometimes to tea at the Hermitage; for which entertainments he did not, in truth, much care at first, being a City man, a good deal tired with his business during the day, and apt to go to sleep over the sermons, expoundings, and hymns, with which the gifted preachers, missionaries, etc.
Nor was he a supping man in which case he would have found the parties pleasanter, for in Egypt itself there were not more savoury fleshpots than at Clapham ; he was very moderate in his meals, of a bilious temperament, and, besides, obliged to be in town early in the morning, always setting off to walk an hour before the first coach.
But when his poor Susan died, Miss Hobson, by her father's demise, having now become a partner in the house, as well as heiress to the pious and childless Zachariah Hobson, her uncle Mr. Newcome, with his little boy in his hand, met Miss Hobson as she was coming out of meeting one Sunday; and the child looked so pretty Mr.
Tommy was ill the next day; but on the next Sunday his father was at meeting. Gideon Bawls, of the Rev. Athanasius O'Grady, that eminent convert from Popery, who, quarrelling with each other, yea, striving one against another, had yet two sentiments in common, their love for Miss Hobson, their dread, their hatred of the worldly Newcome; all these squabbles and jokes, and pribbles and prabbles, look you, may be omitted. As gallantly as he had married a woman without a penny, as gallantly as he had conquered his poverty and achieved his own independence, so bravely he went in and won the great City prize with a fortune of a quarter of a million.
By William Makepeace Thackeray
Of course Mr. Newcome might have gone into Parliament: of course before the close of his life he might have been made a baronet: but he eschewed honours senatorial or blood-red hands. Thomas Newcome, the father of his wife's twin boys, the junior partner of the house of Hobson Brothers and Co. But he was, after all, only the junior partner of the house.
His wife was manager in Threadneedle Street and at home—when the clerical gentlemen prayed they importuned Heaven for that sainted woman a long time before they thought of asking any favour for her husband. The gardeners touched their hats, the clerks at the bank brought him the books, but they took their orders from her, not from him.
I think he grew weary of the prayer-meetings, he yawned over the sufferings of the negroes, and wished the converted Jews at Jericho. About the time the French Emperor was meeting with his Russian reverses Mr. Newcome died: his mausoleum is in Clapham Churchyard, near the modest grave where his first wife reposes. When his father married, Mr. Thomas Newcome, jun. This paradise, five miles from the Standard at Cornhill, was separated from the outer world by a thick hedge of tall trees, and an ivy-covered porter's-gate, through which they who travelled to London on the top of the Clapham coach could only get a glimpse of the bliss within.
It was a serious paradise. As you entered at the gate, gravity fell on you; and decorum wrapped you in a garment of starch. The butcher-boy who galloped his horse and cart madly about the adjoining lanes and common, whistled wild melodies caught up in abominable playhouse galleries , and joked with a hundred cook-maids, on passing that lodge fell into an undertaker's pace, and delivered his joints and sweetbreads silently at the servants' entrance.
The rooks in the elms cawed sermons at morning and evening; the peacocks walked demurely on the terraces; the guinea-fowls looked more Quaker-like than those savoury birds usually do. The lodge-keeper was serious, and a clerk at a neighbouring chapel. The pastors who entered at the gate, and greeted his comely wife and children, fed the little lambkins with tracts. The head-gardener was a Scotch Calvinist, after the strictest order, only occupying himself with the melons and pines provisionally, and until the end of the world, which event, he could prove by infallible calculations, was to come off in two or three years at farthest.
Wherefore, he asked, should the butler brew strong ale to be drunken three years hence; or the housekeeper a follower of Joanna Southcote make provisions of fine linen and lay up stores of jams? On a Sunday which good old Saxon word was scarcely known at the Hermitage the household marched away in separate couples or groups to at least half a dozen of religious edifices, each to sit under his or her favourite minister, the only man who went to church being Thomas Newcome, accompanied by Tommy his little son, and Sarah his nurse, who was, I believe, also his aunt, or at least his mother's first cousin.
Tommy was taught hymns, very soon after he could speak, appropriate to his tender age, pointing out to him the inevitable fate of wicked children, and giving him the earliest possible warning and description of the punishment of little sinners. He repeated these poems to his stepmother after dinner, before a great shining mahogany table, covered with grapes, pineapples, plum-cake, port wine, and Madeira, and surrounded by stout men in black, with baggy white neckcloths, who took the little man between their knees, and questioned him as to his right understanding of the place whither naughty boys were bound.
They patted his head with their fat hands if he said well, or rebuked him if he was bold, as he often was. Nurse Sarah or Aunt Sarah would have died had she remained many years in that stifling garden of Eden. She could not bear to part from the child whom her mistress and kinswoman had confided to her the women had worked in the same room at Newcome's, and loved each other always, when Susan became a merchant's lady, and Sarah her servant.
She was nobody in the pompous new household but Master Tommy's nurse. The honest soul never mentioned her relationship to the boy's mother, nor indeed did Mr. Newcome acquaint his new family with that circumstance. The housekeeper called her an Erastian: Mrs. Newcome's own serious maid informed against her for telling Tommy stories of Lancashire witches, and believing in the same. The black footman madam's maid and the butler were of course privately united persecuted her with his addresses, and was even encouraged by his mistress, who thought of sending him as a missionary to the Niger.
No little love, and fidelity, and constancy did honest Sarah show and use during the years she passed at the Hermitage, and until Tommy went to school. Her master, with many private prayers and entreaties, in which he passionately recalled his former wife's memory and affection, implored his friend to stay with him; and Tommy's fondness for her and artless caresses, and the scrapes he got into, and the howls he uttered over the hymns and catechisms which he was bidden to learn by Rev.
Clack,, of Highbury College, his daily tutor, who was commissioned to spare not the rod, neither to spoil the child , all these causes induced Sarah to remain with her young master until such time as he was sent to school. Meanwhile an event of prodigious importance, a wonderment, a blessing and a delight, had happened at the Hermitage.
About two years after Mrs. Newcome's marriage, the lady being then forty-three years of age, no less than two little cherubs appeared in the Clapham Paradise—the twins, Hobson Newcome and Brian Newcome, called after their uncle and late grandfather, whose name and rank they were destined to perpetuate. And now there was no reason why young Newcome should not go to school. Old Mr. Hobson and his brother had been educated at that school of Grey Friars, of which mention has been made in former works and to Grey Friars Thomas Newcome was accordingly sent, exchanging—O ye Gods!
I have seen his name carved upon the Gown Boys' arch: but he was at school long before my time; his son showed me the name when we were boys together, in some year when George the Fourth was king. The pleasures of this school-life were such to Tommy Newcome, that he did not care to go home for a holiday: and indeed, by insubordination and boisterousness; by playing tricks and breaking windows; by marauding upon the gardener's peaches and the housekeeper's jam; by upsetting his two little brothers in a go-cart of which wanton and careless injury the present Baronet's nose bears marks to this very day ; by going to sleep during the sermons, and treating reverend gentlemen with levity, he drew down on himself the merited wrath of his stepmother; and many punishments in this present life, besides those of a future and much more durable kind, which the good lady did not fail to point out that he must undoubtedly inherit.
His father, at Mrs. Newcome's instigation, certainly whipped Tommy for upsetting his little brothers in the go-cart; but upon being pressed to repeat the whipping for some other peccadillo performed soon after, Mr. Newcome refused at once, using a wicked, worldly expression, which well might shock any serious lady; saying, in fact, that he would be deed if he beat the boy any more, and that he got flogging enough at school, in which opinion Master Tommy fully coincided. The undaunted woman, his stepmother, was not to be made to forgo her plans for the boy's reform by any such vulgar ribaldries; and Mr.
Newcome being absent in the City on his business, and Tommy refractory as usual, she summoned the serious butler and the black footman for the lashings of whose brethren she felt an unaffected pity to operate together in the chastisement of this young criminal. But he dashed so furiously against the butler's shins as to draw blood from his comely limbs, and to cause that serious and overfed menial to limp and suffer for many days after; and, seizing the decanter, he swore he would demolish blacky's ugly face with it: nay, he threatened to discharge it at Mrs.
Newcome's own head before he would submit to the coercion which she desired her agents to administer. High words took place between Mr. Newcome that night on the gentleman's return home from the City, and on his learning the events of the morning. It is to be feared he made use of further oaths, which hasty ejaculations need not be set down in this place; at any rate, he behaved with spirit and manliness as master of the house, vowed that if any servant laid a hand on the child, he would thrash him first and then discharge him; and I dare say expressed himself with bitterness and regret that he had married a wife who would not be obedient to her husband, and had entered a house of which he was not suffered to be the master.
Friends were called in—the interference, the supplications, of the Clapham clergy, some of whom dined constantly at the Hermitage, prevailed to allay this domestic quarrel; and no doubt the good sense of Mrs. Newcome—who, though imperious, was yet not unkind; and who, excellent as she was, yet could be brought to own that she was sometimes in fault—induced her to make at least a temporary submission to the man whom she had placed at the head of her house, and whom it must be confessed she had vowed to love and honour.
When Tommy fell ill of the scarlet fever, which afflicting event occurred presently after the above dispute, his own nurse, Sarah, could not have been more tender, watchful, and affectionate than his stepmother showed herself to be. She nursed him through his illness; allowed his food and medicine to be administered by no other hand; sat up with the boy through a night of his fever, and uttered not one single reproach to her husband who watched with her when the twins took the disease from which we need not say they happily recovered ; and though young Tommy, in his temporary delirium, mistaking her for Nurse Sarah, addressed her as his dear Fat Sally—whereas no whipping-post to which she ever would have tied him could have been leaner than Mrs.
Newcome—and, under this feverish delusion, actually abused her to her face; calling her an old cat, an old Methodist, and, jumping up in his little bed, forgetful of his previous fancy, vowing that he would put on his clothes and run away to Sally. Sally was at her northern home by this time, with a liberal pension which Mr. Newcome gave her, and which his son and his son's son after him, through all their difficulties and distresses, always found means to pay. What the boy threatened in his delirium he had thought of, no doubt, more than once in his solitary and unhappy holidays.
A year after he actually ran away, not from school, but from home; and appeared one morning, gaunt and hungry, at Sarah's cottage two hundred miles away from Clapham, who housed the poor prodigal, and killed her calf for him—washed him, with many tears and kisses, and put him to bed and to sleep; from which slumber he was aroused by the appearance of his father, whose sure instinct, backed by Mrs.
Newcome's own quick intelligence, had made him at once aware whither the young runaway had fled. The poor father came horsewhip in hand—he knew of no other law or means to maintain his authority; many and many a time had his own father, the old weaver, whose memory he loved and honoured, strapped and beaten him. Seeing this instrument in the parent's hand, as Mr. Newcome thrust out the weeping trembling Sarah and closed the door upon her, Tommy, scared out of a sweet sleep and a delightful dream of cricket, knew his fate; and, getting up out of bed, received his punishment without a word.
The quarrel was the means of a great and happy reconciliation. The three dined together in Sarah's cottage. Perhaps the father would have liked to walk that evening in the lanes and fields where he had wandered as a young fellow: where he had first courted and first kissed the young girl he loved—poor child—who had waited for him so faithfully and fondly, who had passed so many a day of patient want and meek expectance, to be repaid by such a scant holiday and brief fruition. Newcome never made the slightest allusion to Tom's absence after his return, but was quite gentle and affectionate with him, and that night read the parable of the Prodigal in a very low and quiet voice.
This, however, was only a temporary truce. War very soon broke out again between the impetuous lad and his rigid domineering mother-in-law.
Thackeray's cultural frame of reference allusion in The Newcomes - Catalog - UW-Madison Libraries
It was not that he was very bad, or she perhaps more stern than other ladies, but the two could not agree. The boy sulked and was miserable at home. He fell to drinking with the grooms in the stables. I think he went to Epsom races, and was discovered after that act of rebellion. Driving from a most interesting breakfast at Roehampton where a delightful Hebrew convert had spoken, oh! Newcome—in her state-carriage, with her bay horses—met Tom, her son-in-law, in a tax-cart, excited by drink, and accompanied by all sorts of friends, male and female.
John the black man was bidden to descend from the carriage and bring him to Mrs. He came; his voice was thick with drink. He laughed wildly: he described a fight at which he had been present. It was not possible that such a castaway as this should continue in a house where her two little cherubs were growing up in innocence and grace. The boy had a great fancy for India; and Orme's History, containing the exploits of Clive and Lawrence, was his favourite book of all in his father's library.
Being offered a writership, he scouted the idea of a civil appointment, and would be contented with nothing but a uniform. A cavalry cadetship was procured for Thomas Newcome; and the young man's future career being thus determined, and his stepmother's unwilling consent procured, Mr. Newcome thought fit to send his son to a tutor for military instruction, and removed him from the London school, where in truth he had made but very little progress in the humaner letters.
The lad was placed with a professor who prepared young men for the army, and received rather a better professional education than fell to the lot of most young soldiers of his day. He cultivated the mathematics and fortification with more assiduity than he had ever bestowed on Greek and Latin, and especially made such a progress in the French tongue as was very uncommon among the British youth his contemporaries.
In the study of this agreeable language, over which young Newcome spent a great deal of his time, he unluckily had some instructors who were destined to bring the poor lad into yet further trouble at home. His tutor, an easy gentleman, lived at Blackheath, and, not far from thence, on the road to Woolwich, dwelt the little Chevalier de Blois, at whose house the young man much preferred to take his French lessons rather than to receive them under his tutor's own roof.
With an Introduction by Donald McFarlan. The Jolly Beggars. The Cotters Saturday Night. The Vision. Ye Banks an Braes o Bonnie Doon. Scots wha hae. The Birks of Aberfeldy. The Rigs o Barley. Tam Glen. Fair Eliza. Banks of Cree. Count the Lawin. A Dream. The Ordination. Address to the Unco Guid. Tam Samsons Elegy. Scotch Drink. To a Mountain Daisy. Lament of Mary Queen of Scots. On Pastoral Poetry. Address to the Toothache. The Kirks Alarm. Epistle to Davie a Brother Poet. To the Same John Lapraik. Letter to John Goudie. To James Smith. Epistle to Mr MAdam. Sarah's psalm : a novel.
S'vara : a journal of philosophy and Judaism. Rocking the babies. Journal of educational and behavioral statistics : a quarterly publication sponsored by the American Educational Research Association and the American Statistical Association. Chesapeake song : a novel.
The Jerusalem report. Studies in humanities and social sciences. Statistical bulletin. Transnational corporations. Third millennium. Society of Colonial Wars, : the centennial history.