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TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR!
Fortuna savo læta negotio, et
Nunc mihi, nunc alii benigna,
Hox. Carm. Lib. iii, 19.
TitmousE continued in what he by certain new performers as would doubtless imagined to be a devout suffice to revive the corpse, (if it were frame of mind, for several minutes à corpse that had ever had a spark of after quitting the church at the door sense or spirit in it,) and make it kick of which I left him. But close by the the coroner out of the room.
But to aforesaid church, the devil had a one of so high an ambition as Tittlebat thriving little establishment, in the Titmouse, how delightful would it shape of a cigar-shop; in which a not have been, to anticipate becoming showily dressed young Jewess sat be. (what had been quite impracticable hind the counter, right underneath a during life) the object of public atten. glaring gas-light-with a thin stripe tion after his death-by means of a of greasy black velvet across her fore. flaming dissertation by the coroner head, and long ringlets that rested on upon his own zeal and spirit—the naa her shoulders-bandying slang with ture and extent of his rights, powers, two or three other such puppies as and duties ;—when high doctors are Titmouse and Huckaback. Our brow-beaten, the laws set at defiance, friends entered and purchased a cigar and public decency plucked by the a-piece, which they lit on the spot; beard, and the torn and bleeding hearts and after each of them had exchanged of surviving relatives still further an impudent wink with the Jewess, agonized by an exposure, all quivering out they went, puffing away—all the under the recent stroke, to the gaping remains of their piety! When they vulgar! Indeed, I sometimes think had come to the end of their cigars that the object of certain coroners, they parted, each speeding homeward. now-a-days, is twofold,—first, public Titmouse, on reaching his lodgings, – to disgust people with suicide, by
sunk into profound depression. He showing what horrid proceedings will felt an awful conviction that his visit take place over their carcasses ; and to the cigar-shop had entirely spoiled secondly, private—to get the means the effect of his previous attendance of studying anatomy by post mortems, at the church, and that, if so disposed, which the said coroner never could prohe might now sit and whistle for his cure in his own practice; which enables ten thousand a year. Thoughts such us to account for some things one has as these drove him nearly distracted. lately seen, viz. that if a man come If, indeed, he had foreseen having to his death by means of a waggon to go through such another week as crushing his legs, the coroner institutes the one just over, I think it not impos- an exact examination of the structure sible that before the arrival of the of the lungs and heart. I take it to be ensuing Sunday, Mr Titmouse might getting now into a rule—the propriety have afforded a little employment to whereof, some people think, cannot that ancient but gloomy functionary, be doubted_namely, that bodies ought a coroner, and his jury. At that time, now to be opened only to prove however, inquests of this sort were that they ought not to have been openmatter-of-fact and melancholy affairs ed; an inquest must be hel in order enough ; which I doubt not would to demonstrate that it need not have have been rather a dissuasive from been held, except that certain fees suicide, in the estimation of one who thereby find their way into the pocket might be supposed ambitious of the of the aforesaid coroner, which would ecât of a modern inquest; where, in. otherwise not have done so. In short, deed, such strange antics are played such a coroner as I have in my eye
may be compared to a great ape squat. Mr Gammon, he thought, might be ting on a corpse, furiously chattering thereby moved to pity; while Mr and spitting at all around it; and I Quirk would probably be operated am glad that it hath at last had wit upon by fears, lest the sad contingency enough first to shut the door before pointed at might deprive the house of proceeding to its horrid tricks. one who would richly repay their ex
Touching the moral of suicide, it is ertions; and by hopes of indefinite a way which some bave of cutting the advantage, if they could by any means Gordian knot of the difficulties of life; prevent its happening. I have often which having been done, possibly the questioned Titmouse on the subject, very first thing that is made manifest but he would only wink his eye, and to the spirit, after taking its mad leap say that he “ knew what to be at” as in the dark, is—how very easily the well as any one! That these gentlemen said knot might have been UNTIED; really did keenly scrutinize, and carenay, that it was on the very point of fully weigh every expression in that being untied, if the impatient spirit letter, ridiculous as it was, and conhad stayed only a moment longer :- temptible as, I fear, it showed its writer a dismal discovery, which may excite to be, is certain ; but it did not occur ineffable grief at the folly and horror to them to compare with it, at least, of the crime of which such spirit has the spirit and intention of their own been guilty. But ah! it is too late! answer to it. Did the latter docu. The triumphant fiend has secured his ment contain less cunning and insinvictim. I said it was not impossible cerity, because it was couched in somethat Mr Titmouse might, under the what superior phraseology? They circumstances alluded to, have done could
their selfish and the deed which has called forth the over-reaching designs, while poor above very natural and profound re- Titmouse exposed all his little meanflexions; but, upon the whole, it is mindedness and hypocrisy, simply behardly probable, for he knew that by cause he had not learned how to conceal doing so he would (first) irreparably it effectually. 'Twas indeed a battle injure society, by depriving it of an for the very same object, but between enlightened and invaluable member; unequal combatants. Each was trying (secondly,) inflict great indignity on to take the other in. If Messrs Quirk, his precious body, of which, during life, Gammon, and Snap despised and he had always taken the most affec- lothed the man to whom they exhitionate care, by securing for it a bited such anxious courtesy, Titmouse burial in a cross road, at night time, hated and feared those whom his intewith a stake run through it," and tests compelled him for a while to conmoreover, peril the little soul that had ciliate. Was there, in fact, a pin to just leaped out of it, by not having choose between them — except, perany burial-service said over his afore. haps, that Titmouse was, in a manner, said remains; and (lastly) lose áll excused by his necessities? But, in the chance of enjoying Ten Thousand a- meanwhile, his circumstances were Year-at least upon earth. I own I becoming utterly desperate. was a little startled (as I daresay was tinued to endure great suffering at Mr the reader) at a passage of mournful Tag.rag's during the day--the consignificance in Mr Titmouse's last stant butt of the ridicule and insult of letter to Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and his amiable companions, and the victim Snap, viz. “ How full of trouble I am, of his employer's vile spirit of hatred often thinking of death, which is the and oppression. His spirit, (such as it end of every thing ;' but on carefully was,) in short, was very nearly broken. considering the context, I am disposed Though he seized every opportunity to think that the whole was only a de- that offered to enquire for another sivice of Titmouse's, either to rouse the tuation, he was unsuccessful; for all fears, or stimulate the feelings, or ex- whom he applied to spoke of the strict cite the hopes, of the three arbiters of character they should require," before his destiny to whom it was addressed. taking a new hand into their establish
* A very learned person tells me that this mode of treating the remains of a felo de se, though prevailing at the time when the events occurred whch are above narrated, was soon afterwards (i. e. on the 8th July 1823) abolished by Act of Parliament.
ment.” His occupation at nights, after sentment more lively, and not the less quitting the shop, was twofold only, so, because the expression of them either to call upon Huckaback, (whose had been stifled, (while he had consympathy, however, he was exhausting sidered the star of Titmouse to be rapidly,) or solace his feelings by walk in the ascendant,) till the time for ing down to Saffron Hill, and lingering setting them into motion and action about the closed office of Messrs Quirk, had gone by. In fact the presence of Gammon, and Snap-there was a kind Titmouse, suggesting such thoughts of gratification even in that! He once and recollections, became intolerable or twice felt flustered even on catching to Huckaback ; and Titmouse's pera glimpse of the old housekeeper re- ceptions (dull as they naturally were, turning from some little errand. How but a little quickened by recent sufhe would have rejoiced to get into her fering,) gave him more and more good graces, and accompany her into distinct notice of this circumstance, at even the kitchen—when he would be the precise time when he meditated apin the premises, and conversing with plying for the loan of a few shillings. one of the establishment of those who These feelings made him as humble he believed could, with a stroke of towards Huckaback, and as patient of their pens, turn this wilderness of a his increasing rudeness and ill-humour, world into a paradise for him! But he as he felt abject towards Messrs Quirk, dared not make any overtures in that Gammon, and Snap; for, unless he quarter, for fear of their getting to the could succeed in wringing some trinotice of the dreaded Messrs Quirk, fling loan from Huckaback, (if he Gammon, and Snap.
really had it in his power to advance At length, no more than three or four him any thing,) he could not conjecshillings stood between him and utter ture what was to become of him. Vadestitution; and the only person in the rious faint but unadroit hints and world whom he could apply to for even feelers of his had been thrown away ; the most trivial assistance, was Huckfor Huckaback either did not, or could aback-whom, however, he knew to not, comprehend them. But at length be scarcely any better off than him. a sudden and fearful pressure compelself; and whom, moreover, he felt to led him to speak out. Gripe, the col. be treating him more and more coldly, lector, called one morning for the as the week wore on without his poor's rates due from Mrs Squallop, hearing of any the least tidings from (Titmouse's landlady,) and cleaned Saffron Hill. Huckaback evidently her out of almost every penny of ready felt now scarcely any interest or plea- money which she had by her. This sure in the visits of his melancholy threw the good woman upon her refriend, and was plainly disinclined to sources, to replenish her empty pocket talk about his affairs. At length he -and down she came upon Titmouse quite turned up his nose with disgust, -or rather, up she went to him; for whenever Titmouse took out the well. his heart sunk within him one night on worn note of Messrs Quirk, Gammon, his return from the shop, having only and Snap, which was almost drop- just taken off his hat and lit his canping in pieces with being constantly dle, as he heard the fat old termacarried about in his pocket, taken in gant's well-known heavy step ascendand out, and folded and unfolded, for ing the stairs, and approaching nearer the purpose of conning over its contents, and nearer to his door. Her loud impeas if there might yet linger in it some rative single knock vibrated through hitherto undiscovered source of conso- his heart, and he was ready to drop. lation. Poor Titmouse, therefore, “ Oh, Mrs Squallop! How d'ye looked at it on every such occasion do, Mrs Squallop ?" commenced Tit. with as eager and vivid an interest as mouse, faintly, when he had opened ever; but it was glanced at by Huck- the door ; “ Won't you take a chair?" aback with a half-averted eye, and a offering to the panting dame almost cold, drawling, yawning “ Ya-a-as the only chair he had. -I see
-I_dare-say!" As his im- “ No-I ain't come to stay, Mr Titpressions of Titmouse's bright pros- mouse, because, d'ye see, in coorse pects were thus being rapidly effaced, you've got a pound, at least, ready for his smarting recollection of the drub- me, as you promised long ago—and bing he had received became distincter
more welcome; there's old and more frequent ; his feelings of re- Gripe been here to-day, and liad his
hodious rates (drat the poor, say I! with my rent, you rascally cheat! them as can't work should starve ! You dress yourself out ?-Ha, ha ! rates is a robbery !)—but howsomdever you're a nasty, mean-looking, humpty. he's cleaned me out to-day ; so, in dumpty, carroty.headed ". coorse, I come up to you. Got it?" • You'd better not say that again,
“ I-I-I—'pon my life, Mrs Squal Mrs Squallop.”. lop, I'm uncommon sorry
“ Not say it again !- ha, ha! « Oh, bother your sorrow, Mr Tit. Hoighty-toighty, carroty-haired jackmouse!-out with the needful, for I a-dandy!-why,you hop-o-my-thumb! can't stop palavering here."
d'ye think I won't say whatever I " I-I can't, so help me !” choose, and in my own house ? You're gasped Titmouse, with the calmness a Titmouse by name and by nature ; of desperation.
there ain't a cockroach crawling down “ You can't! And, marry, sir, why stairs that ain't more respectable-like not, may I make bold to ask ?" en. and better behaved than
You're quired Mrs Squallop, after a moment's a himpudent cheat, and dandy, and pause, striving to choke down her knave, and a liar, and a red-haired rage.
rascal—and that in your teeth! Ough! “ P'r'aps you can get blood out of Your name stinks in the court. You're a stone, Mrs Squallop ; it's what I a-taking of every body in as will trust can't,” replied Titmouse, striving to you to a penny's amount. There's screw his courage up to the sticking poor old Cox, the tailor, with a sick place, to encounterone who was plainly wife and children, whom you've cheatbent upon mischief. “ I've got two ed this many months, all of his not shillings—there they are," throwing having spirit to summons you! But them on the table
ós and cuss me if I'll set him upon you ; you see if I I've another rap in the world; there, don't-and I'll have my own, too, or ma'am!”
I wouldn't give that for the laws!” “ You're a liar, then, that's flat !” shouted Mrs Squallop, at the same exclaimed Mrs Squallop, slapping her time snapping her fingers in his face, hand upon the table, with a violence and then pausing for breath after her that made the candle quiver on it, and eloquent invective. almost fall down. You have the " Now, what is the use," said Tithimperance," said she, commencing mouse, gently, being completely cowthe address she had been preparing in ed_"now, what good can it do to go her own mind ever since Mr Gripe on in this way, Mrs Squallop ? had quitted her house, “to stand there “ Missus me no Missus, Mr Tito and tell me you've got nothing in the mouse, but pay me my rent, you jackworld but them two shillings! Heugh! a-dandy! You've got my rent on Out on you, you oudacious fellow !- your back, and on your little fingers ; you jack-a-dandy! You tell me you and I'll have it off you before I've haven't got more than them two shil. done with you, I warrant you. I'm lings, and yet turns out every Sunday your landlady, and I'll sell you up ; morning of your life like a lord, with I'll have old Thumbscrew here the your pins, and your rings, and your first thing in the morning, and dischains, and your fine coat, and your train every thing, and you, too, you gloves, and your spurs, and your jack-daw, if any one would buy you, dandy cane-ough! you whipper- which they won't! I'll have my rent snapper! You're a cheat-you're a at last; I've been too easy with you, swindler, jack-a-dandy! You're the you ungrateful chap; for, mark, even contempt of the whole court, you are, Mr Gripe this morning says, haven't you jack-a-dandy! You've got all my you a gentleman lodger up above ? get rent on your back, and have had every him to pay you your own,' says he; and Sunday for three months, you cheat! so I will.
I'm sick of all this, and I'll —you low fellow !-you ungrateful have my rights! Here's my son, Jem, chap! You're a.robbing the widow a far better-looking chap than you, and fatherless! Look at me, and my though he hasn't got hair like a mop six fatherless children down there, you all under his chin, and he's obligated good-for-nothing, nasty, proud puppy! to work from one week's end to an-eugh! it makes me sick to see you. other in a paper cap and fustian jacket; You dress yourself out like my lord and you-you painted jackanapes! But mayor! You've bought a gold chain now I have got you, and I'll turn you
inside out, though I know there's no- by forcing into her thoughts every agthing in you ! But I'll try to get at gravating topic agaiost Titmouse that your fine coats, and spurs, and trow. she could think of: but it became every sers, your chains and pins, and make moment harder and harder to do so, something of them before I've done for she was consciously softening ra. with you, you jack-a-dandy!”-and pidly towards the weeping and miser. the virago shook her fist at him, look- able object on whom she had been ing as though she had not yet uttered heaping such violent and bitter abuse. even half that was in her heart to- He was a great fool, to be sure; he wards him.
was very fond of fine clothes-- he knew [Alas, alas, unhappy Titmouse, much. no better_he had, however, paid his enduring son of sorrow! I perceive that rent well enough, till lately-he was a you now feel the sharpness of an angry very quiet, well disposed lodger, for all female tongue ; and indeed to me, not she had known-he had given her in the least approving of the many youngest child a pear not long agocoarse and heart-splitting expressions Really, she thought, I may have gone which she uses, it seems nevertheless a little too far. that she is not very far off the mark in “ Come-it ain't no use crying in much that she hath said; for, in truth, this way. It won't put money into in your conduct there is not a little your pocket, nor my rent into mine. that to me, piteously inclined towards You know you've wronged me, and I you as I am, yet appeareth obnoxious must be paid,” she added, but in a still to the edge of this woman's reproaches. lower tone.
She tried to cough away But think not, O bewildered and not- a certain rising disagreeable sensation with-sufficient distinctness - discerning- about her throat, that kept increasing ; the-nature-of-things Titmouse / that for Titmouse, having turned his back she hath only a sharp and bitter to hide the extent of his emotions, tongue. In this woman behold a mo- seemed half choked with suppressed ther, and it may be that she will soften sobs. before you, who have plainly, as I “So you won't speak a word-not hear, neither father nor mother. Oh a word—to the woman you've injured me!]
80 much ?" enquired Mrs Squallop, Titmouse trembled violently; his trying to assume a harsh tone, but her lips quivered ; and the long pent-up eyes were a little obstructed with tears. tears forced their way at length over “ I-I-can't speak,” sobbed Tithis eyelids, and fell fast down his mouse"I-I feel ready to dropcheeks.
every body hates me"-here he paused; “ Ah, you may well cry !-you and for some moments neither spoke. may! But it's too late !—it's my turn “ I've been kept on my legs the whole to cry now! Don't you think that I day about the town by Mr Tag-rag, feel for my own flesh and blood, that and had no dinner. I-1-wish I was is my six children? And isn't what's dead! I do!-you may take all I have mine theirs ? And aren't you keeping _here it is "continued Titmouse, the fatherless out of their own? It's with his foot pushing towards Mrs too bad of you—it is! and you know Squallop the old hair trunk that con. it is;" continued Mrs Squallop, vehe- tained all his little finery-" I sha'n't mently.
want them much longer-for I'm turn“ They've got a mother to take ed out of my situation." care of them," Titmouse sobbed; “but This was too much for Mrs Squallop, there's been no one in the-the-world and she was obliged to wipe her full that cares a straw for me—this twenty eyes with the corner of her apron, with-years !" He fairly wept aloud. out saying a word. Her heart smote her
« Well, then, more's the pity for for the misery she had inflicted on one you. If you had, they wouldn't have who seemed quite broken down. Pity let you make such a puppy of yourself suddenly flew, fluttering his wingsand at your landlady's expense, too. soft dove !-into her heart, and put to You know you're a fool," said Mrs flight in an instant all her enraged Squallop, dropping her voice a little; feelings. “Come, Mr Titmouse," said for she was a MOTHER, after all, and she, in quite an altered tone—“never she knew that what poor Titmouse had mind me; I'm a plain-spoken woman just stated was quite true.
She tried enough, I dare say—and often say hard to keep up the fire of her wrath, more than I mean-for I know I ain't