페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER XIII.

MORE HUMOURS, OP POPULAR ELECTIONS; OR THE

MOUNTEBANK DRIVEN FROM HIS STAGE.-SIMILE

OF BEGGARS AND FOREST FLIES.

We cannot quit the humours of popular elections without giving the reader an account of the one which took place at the Staffordshire Arms. Although Merryman had made himself sure that his duplicity had blinded his old constituents to his ingratitude, and that no opposition would be made to his son Tommy; yet the swinish multitude readily perceive when they are illtreated and insulted, and, though slow to anger, yet their vengeance is only more certain and heavy. Tommy Merryman was sent down as if he had only to shew his face to jump into his father's cast-off shoes; but that father was no longer the staunch, the incorruptible patriot and friend of the people; and his old friends, like

himself, had put on a new face. Tommy had no sooner approached the outskirts of the town than he found himself to be an unwelcome visitor :

It was not always thus: the time has been
When this unfriendly door, that bars my passage,
Flew wide, and almost leap'd off its hinges
To give me entrance here; when this good house
Has poured forth all its dwellers to receive me;
When my approach has made a little holiday,
And ev'ry face was dress'd in smiles to meet me:
But now'tis otherwise: and those, who bless'd me,
Now curse me to my face.

Tommy was, however, not of a complexion to be ever put out of countenance, as the reader will conceive from the following sketch of his character: He inherited all his father's virtues for he had none; he was heir apparent to his estate; but unless he could roll in the public treasury for many years to come, it would not be sufficient to pay all the debts which he had been all bis life contracting; he had none of his talents, save those of drunkenness and du. plicity,-if a fool, who was as easy to be seen

VOL. II.

through as a gauze veil, could be said to entertain duplicity. He would have been a great knave if he had not been a greater fool.

Tommy's first visit to the Staffordshire Arms was previously to the election; and with a view of cajoling his father's old friends, he caused them to be summoned by a bellman, for the purpose of returning thanks to his father for the honour he had conferred upon them of representing them so many years, and of getting himself, of which he made not the least doubt, readily and joyfully proposed as his worthy successor. No one, however, could be found hardy or silly enough to make the proposal. Still Tommy was not disconcerted; he resolved to have recourse to his old trick of chicanery; for be had once before at a former election for the Cornish Arms, attempted to hustle a gentleman out of his seat through the dexterity of his law agents; but he had completely failed. He soon found out that one of the other candidates (there were two besides himself) was rather involved in debt, and, having tampered with one of his creditors, Mr. Purge-us, the solicitor of the Merrymans, was ordered to issue a writ against him to put him out of the way during the approaching election.

“ I would not give, quoth Hudibras,
A straw to understand a case,
Without that adınirable skill

To wind and manage it at will;
To veer and tack, and steer a cause,
Against the weather-gage of laws,
And ring the changes upon faces,
As plain as noses upon faces."

Tommy and Purge-us set out together with the writ to arrest the candidate ; but, contrary to their expectation, the electors were so enraged against their shameless conduct, that bail was easily found. They ferreted out another action, which was also put a stop to in the same manner. All the chicanery-all the public money-(Tommy was in office as well as his father, as we shall have to see presently) were of no avail against the spirit and just indignation of the electors ! Tommy lost the day, and himself and his agents were obliged to slip out of the Staffordshire Arms, amidst the hisses, groans, and exultations at his failure of success, of the very same people, who had formerly rent the air with joyful acclamations at his father's triumph.

Tommy was a busy body in all the private drunken scenes (for his father had too much sense to bring him before the public, to his own disgrace) of the election at the Westminster Arms, one of his ignorant witticisms deserves recording, not for itself, but for the severe and just chastisement which it drew upon himself and his father. One night after the poll was over, and his father's success was tolerably certain, Tommy, in the intoxication of wine and victory, speaking of Paul Sheers, said that he should only raise him in the estimation of society by kicking him out of it. The pope's toe, it seems, had not more honour in it than Tommy Merryman's. This senseless and bully-like sally drew down the manly resentment and wit-pointed lash of Cobwell, whom we iave before mentioned as one of Sheers's friends.-66 Who is this Mr. Thomas Merryman,” said he, “that assumes to himself, of a sudden, such important consideration ? What pretensions has he to any thing respectable or good :” We never heard of bim till very lately, except as

« 이전계속 »