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NO SILVER SPOON! BY THOMAS HAYNES BAYLY, ESQ. “ Take a poon, pig.”-Miss EDGEWORTH's “ Simple Susan.” It has been, time out of mind, a common saying, that young gentlemen or ladies who come into the world on high days or holidays, fortunate days for the family, or days when unexpected legacies had been received, or wealth realized, were born with silver spoons in their mouths. Nay, in some modern farce a pert abigail declares that such has been her young mistress's luck, that she could not have entered existence with anything in her throat less valuable than a silver soup ladle! Whether such massive accompaniments are inconvenient to the innocent babes I have no means of ascertaining ; but I do think that all mothers who have given birth to such treasures, ought ever after to be treated with high respect. On the list of great and illustrious persons they ought surely only to be placed second to the far-famed goose, that laid a golden egg for her mistress daily. I made my appearance a few days earlier than I was expected; and the very morning of my arrival intelligence was brought of the death of an old Uncle Somebody, who died out somewhere, and who had been supposed dead for years, having left my father five thousand pounds a-year. My father and mother, who had been some years married, had long sighed for a baby ; nor can it be doubted that, like other folks but moderately off in the world, they had also sighed for a little accession of fortune. Two aspirations were thus propitiously realized in one day; and, as I really seemed to make my appearance accompanied by the fortune which I was destined to inherit, it is not surprising that my mother's only brother, a bachelor, Mr. Tidyman Twig, who had undertaken the responsibility of being my godfather, should give me what was intended for a fondling caress, squeeze the breath almost out of my little body, set me howling, and then replacing me in the arms of my nurse, emphatically exclaim. “There, if ever a boy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, that's the very boy."
From this time my father seemed to become a new man; his habits had hitherto been indolent. He was a merchant; but, not having a sufficient capital to enable him to engage in large and immediatel profitable speculations, and, being at the same time deficient in the industry and perseverance which so often make a small property expand itself into a large one, he had made up his mind to live upon his moderate income.
Now, however, affairs began to wear a different aspect. He took a suburban villa; he kept his carriage; a well-situated and commodious counting-house was fitted up; and a round, ruddy, active, unexceptionable, sort of gentlemanlike partner was daily seated in an inner room, where he represented the moiety of the form of “ Messrs. Goodman and Cute."
Master Twig Goodman (meaning myself) having attained the age of twelve years, was to be sent to school; and godpapa having on all eventful occasions taken me rather under his own jurisdiction, he selected the seminary ; and, under his protection, and in his own chaise, I was carried to the Rev. Mr. Sloane's; a large, airy, old
fashioned, but cheerful-looking brick building, standing in the midst of a charming garden. Perhaps it was fortunate for me that Godpapa Tidyman did take me under his wing; for my father, as is generally the case with persons of not very strong minds, had flown rather hastily from one extreme to the other, and had latterly become as fussy, fidgetty, over-anxious, and perplexed about his mercantile matters, as he had formerly been passive and even puerile. My poor mother, too, who never had been very strong, found time since she became rich to complain of, and give way to any extent of debility which indolence might require as a veil for its helplessness, or which doctors who devote themselves to ladies' nervous systems might sanction, never seemed to have time to do anything. She kissed me, and coaxed me, and gave me cakes, and called me pet, darling, and all other endearing names; and then it was evidently quite a relief to her when she again put me into the nurse's arms, and, sinking back on her cushions with a smelling-bottle to her nose, said, “Take him away, nurse. Ta, ta, pet! Don't let him cry here. Ma'l see her darling again to-morrow."
And thus it was from infancy to boyhood I was indulged and spoiled, and she was always telling me how much she loved me. But then she would check the more natural spirits of my age; my noise was too much for her ; and, alas ! her love was too little for me. Thus it happened, I believe, that Godpapa Tidyman became to me a sort of papa, and mamma, and godpapa, all in one; and, when he kindly and affectionately placed me under Mr. Sloane's care, there certainly was no one in the world so dear to me as himself. I was very happy at Mr. Sloane's. I liked the place and the people ; and, above all, my schoolfellows, with whom, however, I certainly did at first involve myself in a little personal annoyance, and entirely through my own egotistical garrulity. I must needs tell them of my first birthday, and the fortune of which I was the unconscious accompaniment. This was nothing ; but I told them of the old adage, that with which Godpapa Tidyman still never failed to greet me, and which, caught from him, had daily been echoed by guests of every degree, and by every servant who could take the liberty of addressing me so freely.
Yes, I told all the boys that I had been born with a silver spoon in my mouth! How little did I then anticipate the result ! From that day to the day of my departure from school, I never failed to be greeted as “ little spoony!”
But little spoony managed to make his own way, — ay, and without fighting to. I do not say that now and then I had not a skir. mish, which ended in a black eye or cracked crown; but it never was my lot to encounter perpetual squabbles and bickerings with those companions with whom I was in hourly intercourse; and the notion of a boy's fighting his way through a school has always struck me as a most unamiable and unpromising way of beginning life. “Little spoony” was still my nickname; but I had names just as applicable for them; and, when I bore mine with good humour, I very soon found that the zest with which it was given had worn off.
Passing rapidly from infancy to boyhood, and thence to maturity, is very like shortening my own life. But I am only skipping, and skipping in the memoirs of a boy is surely highly characteristic. When I had become “young master” at home, and possessed dogs, horses, a cab, and all other advantages usually sported by the only sons of rich merchants, I heard more of the silver spoon than ever. Godpapa Tidyman, when he greeted me, never had it off his tongue's tip; and certainly, taking it figuratively and metaphorically, when I glanced around at the worldly advantages, comforts, and prospects I possessed, I could not help admitting that something bright had been propitious to my birth ; but, whether it was a radiant planet, or a silver spoon, it was quite impossible for me to determine.
And now came the brightest event that ever blessed me under the influence of that silver talisman ; I fell in love with youth, beauty, amiability, accomplishments, ay, and greatest wonder of all, with a girl of large and independent fortune, and without my being at all aware of it, with the very girl long since chosen for my destined bride by my father, my mother, and, above all, by dear Godpapa Tidyman.
No two people could be happier than we were. My father and her uncle were constantly closetted together, - as old people, I believe, always are on such occasions, while we spent our mornings rambling through the green-lanes of our pretty neighbourhood, and in the evening went to some theatre, to which we inveigled my poor mother. Anna Maria was herself motherless. Godpapa Tidyman was in a state of the utmost joy and excitement, lavishing upon my fair intended the most delicate presents; and on myself he seemed determined to bestow a regular matrimonial outfit, - chests of linen, hampers of wine, packages of china, and a most elegant and useful carriage, with imperials, cap-cases, bonnet-boxes, and I know not what, all out of consideration for Anna Maria.
Nor did he forget the silver forks and spoons.
At this time I know not whether my silver spoon melted away; certain it is, that all my own bright prospects seemed to vanish one by one. Bankruptcy, that old infirmity of firms, fell heavy on the house of Goodman and Cute. That is, most decidedly on one half of the house; for it was whispered that Cute had been too much for Goodman, and, having well feathered his own nest, had left my father, nay, without a dry hard twig, unless, in his
emergency he was so fortunate as to find one in Godpapa Tidyman Twig.
Since the death of my poor mother, who had long since suffered from the worrying indications of an approaching calamity-the untimely knocks and rings, the unseasonable visits of men in lowcrowned hats with broad brims and shabby drab coats; and had pined away and perished even before the lean visage of want had been suffered to encroach upon her actual wants ;-since her death, my father's health had rapidly declined. Always of an indolent, inactive, and inflammatory habit, he had latterly neglected himself; and utterly unprepared for a reverse of fortune, and deeply hurt by the conduct of his partner Cute, he was unable to endure the blow, and a very few days after the failure, died of apoplexy.
When I met Godpapa Tidyman again, I of course expected to hear nothing but condolences. These were, indeed, lavished on me on account of my recent severe family losses, and the excellent old gentleman shed many tears over the memory of his sister and her husband. But, when we came to speak of the failure, to my utter amazement he was full of congratulations, and actually exclaimed,
“Well, my dear godson, I always said you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, and you see I was not wrong.”
“Not wrong, dear sir?” said I. Why, my father died a beggar. Everything he possessed in the world must be sold off; and, even then nothing will be raised to provide me with an income adequate to the common necessaries of life.” “Oh! but with your resources.
My resources ! I was so completely in ignorance of the real state of my father's affairs; and, from the expectations held out to me, was so little cautious as to the extent of my expenditure, that every article I possess in the world must be sold off also !”
“Well; and what can that signify?" replied my still placid, and now most incomprehensible Godpapa Tidyman. He paused; and then, with a very knowing look, continued, “Have you forgot Anna Maria."
“Forget Anna Maria !" cried I, starting from my chair. “Forget her! As soon could I forget
There, there, waste no rhapsodies on me. You do not forget her; can you suspect that she ceases to remember you? That all your vows, and promises, and protestations are cherished in her heart ; and that she will rush to your arms, and be proud to replace you in the position of wealth and luxurious comforts in which you were
first met, and which, with all the lover's fond enthusiasm, you invited her to share?”
“True," I replied. “But — but then, there's nothing to share now; and she has. And yet, those sweet blue eyes they never could deceive, so full of-of-of- Do you really think she loved me for myself alone?” turning to my placid companion with a forlorn aspect.
“ To be sure I do. Go to her at once. Fix your black eyes most intently on her blue ones; press both her hands in yours; place your lips on her own-on her cheek, or any place most accessible at the moment; and return to me in an hour, the happiest man in the world, confessing to me that after all I was right, and that you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. I will wait for you here."
To the feet of the gentle blue-eyed Anna Maria flew the impatient Twig Goodman. We hate a twice-told tale; and, as the result of this amatory interview must be briefly detailed by the lover to the very sanguine godpapa, we will let that one disclosure of an unsatisfactory tale suffice.
The young lady had been speechless (so judicious when we have nothing to say that we are not ashamed and afraid to utter). Her blue eyes were invisible, partly from tears, but principally from her pocket-handkerchief; when the kiss was offered it was evaded; and when two hands were outstretched to press hers, a packet was placed in them, evidently containing letters, trinkets, and a picture. The fragile Anna Maria then rose, and tottered out of one door, while the scarcely less fragile Twig Goodman pressed his forehead with his clenched fist, and tottered out of the other !
Godpapa Tidyman was in despair, — that is, for a moment, not in hopeless comfortless despair ; he paced the room for a short time, and then, with a smiling countenance, he held out his hand to me, and said,
“Well, after all, I said you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, and so you are. The more frequent your disappointments,
the greater your luck in the end. I always intended you to inherit my property ; but so many better and brighter things seemed to spring up in your way, that I never thought of speaking to you on a subject that seemed unimportant, nor did I think it necessary to make a will; now, however, everything shall be arranged to your satisfaction; and, though your income will not realize what I could have wished, nor what you once expected, I know you will be satisfied.
I was full of gratitude; and, as he considerately advised me to change the air and scene, and go to some distant watering-place while the sale of my effects was going on, I set off to Brighton, promising to return to him in ten days, when he said his arrangements in my favour would be legally and satisfactorily arranged.
To Brighton I went; and at the end of the week was recalled by a letter, bearing a huge black seal, and written by the lawyer of my dear friend.
Before the will was signed he had died suddenly; the heir-at-law had immediately taken possession of the property, removing from the house all but a few tables and chairs, cracked crockery, knives and forks, and an old japan waiter.
One old woman-or rather charwoman, I believe they call them, -was left to do anybody's bidding who might come ; and, brokenspirited as I was, I was still alive to the cravings of hunger. After much solicitation she promised me a mutton-chop, and it was prepared on a very rickety table, and exceedingly dirty table cloth.
At length it came; black outside, red inside, and cold gravy. “ Mustard,” said I; there was none. Pepper, the coarsest and the blackest, was set before me.
“Is there no Harvey's sauce?”
“Oh, dear me, sir! what could make you ask for such a thing as That ? There's no silver spoon !”
TO A LADY SINGING.
There is a light about those eyes,
Warm, rich, but tender, like the hue
Of joy had not been long departed ;
Oh! lady, look but thus,
And I could gaze for ever!
Soft, sweet, and trembling, like the sighs
Thinking they sing gay melodies!
The noisy tide of mirth and laughter,
Oh! lady, sing but thus-
J. A. WADE,