« PreviousContinue »
above described, and putting her very red weather-beaten face so close to Jenny's that their noses almost touched, she broke out like a torrent, " Did ye say I was fou, ye limmer ?-will ye tell me that again to my face, and I'll rug the mutch aff your head, ye ye -impudence that you are.' "What I have said I'll no unsay for you: gang and mind your ain stand, and no mak a noise here," said Jenny, with more command of temper. But Tibby, who seemed determined to provoke a quarrel, and whose fingers appeared only to want a reasonable excuse to fly at the headdress of her antagonist, urged the dispute with increasing energy of speech. De'il be in ma feet gin I stir a step till I mak ye eat back your words, ye liein' besom. Me fou!-whan was I seen fou, ye light-headed hizzie? tell me that again if ye dare.' "Gang awa, woman, and no provoke me, said Jenny, pushing her gently aside by the shoulders; "let's sell our fish first, and flyte after." Tibby's wrath needed only this last attempt to raise it to its utmost pitch. "Ye'll offer to shoot me, ye little worth quean!ye'll offer to lift your hand to ane that might be your mither!"--and she flew with open talons at the chequered handkerchief which, tied under the chin, forms the characteristic headdress of the ladies of the Fish-market, and tore it off in an instant. Jenny, to recover her head appurtenances, instantly flew at the offender, and a struggle ensued, in which Jenny's strength seemed more than an overmatch for Tibby's modes of defence. Tibby retreated backwards, keeping her hold, and Jenny followed with dishevelled hair, both struggling till Mrs Tibby reached the verge of a large tub full of dirty water, used in cleaning fish; and fishwomen no more than others being provided with eyes
at their backs, she tumbled fairly into the tub, and Jenny above her.
The immense package of petticoats increasing her naturally not over-small shape,and the weight of her antagonist's person, pressed Tibby so closely into the tub, that she was as incapable of motion as if she had formed an integral part of it. Jenny now recovered her head-deckings, and having hastily adjusted them, came back to the sale of the turbot, amidst cries from her companions of " Weel done, Jenny!weel done, my woman!-gie the illtongued jade a good sousing in her ain dirty water. Every body has their failings, and ye're nae waur than anither."- "That randy's put me a throughither," said she to me, "and no to keep you langer waiting, ye sall get the choice of the turbots for eight shillings, sir."- No, Jenny, I'l give no more than seven,-not a penny more will I give, and I must have a lobster to the bargain-I'll rather take my chance of going round the market."
"Hoot, you'll surely mak it eight. See to that lobster, look at the rawn, its worth half-a-crown itself-but I'm out o' breath wi' that outrageous woman," said Jenny.-" Only seven for the whole, Jenny, take or want." -"Weel, I'll just take your bode; but mind ye're awin me a shilling, said she, putting the turbot and lobster into Blind Isbel's basket. I now retreated from the scene of contest. Tibby, being relieved from her unpleasant situation with no small difficulty, by the assistance of two of her companions, was shaking her dripping vestments, and threatening vengeance. "I'll mind you, my woman, whan we get to Fisherraw; ye're no done wi' this yet; I'll learn ye till use a wo man that might be your mither in sic a way as this."
Being the Chapter of Blunders. Bulls in an Irishman are not a wonder ; But cautious Scotsmen seldom make a blunder.
I HAD now got oysters, a maiden skate (gentle readers, never buy other than a maiden skate), six dog-fish, a turbot, and a lobster, and was going along the market on my return home, taking a peep at the stalls as I passed, when whom should I meet but Mrs
Columbus, followed by Cripple Donald the cadie, with a basket pretty well loaded. "Bless me, Mr Columbus, I did not think you were to have been at the market so early. I hope you have not bought any thing, for I have got all we shall want for dinner to
day."-"That's very unfortunate, my dear Mary," said I,-" very unlucky, and very stupid indeed. You know I told you that I was to go to the market myself?"-" True, you did, my dear Christopher," replied Mrs Columbus," but then you said you should not be able to go before twelve ; and I wished to surprise you by call ing, as I went home, and telling you how active I have been. It is not eleven yet, my dear ;"-and she looked provokingly in the right. "I had no notion you would be here to-day," continued I, not knowing what further to say in my own defence, and looking down to my shoes as if they could have furnished me with reasons in justification. "You have not got a turbot, my dear?" resumed Mrs Columbus. "Look at Isbel's basket," said I, biting my lip, and pointing to the unlucky animal, which I wished had been at this time roaming through the illimitable fields of ocean. "What a pity!" continued Mrs Columbus, in a melancholy tone; "but it can't be helped now, and it is not worth while putting one's self out of humour for a turbot. By the bye, I have bought a dozen of those ugly fish you like-sea-cats, as they call them; and have got some very fine oysters, and an excellent lob
This was monstrously tantalizing, indeed; and, on a comparison of baskets, I found, that for every article in that of Blind Isbel, there was a corresponding one in that of Cripple Donald. After a number of other little remarks on the merits of the cause, the tendency of which went to establish that both of us acted quite right, and that neither of us could possibly be wrong, a definitive treaty was entered into on the spot between Mrs Columbus and myself, that we should never while we lived-no, never-go to the Fish-market on the same day, unless together. Blind Isbel was dispatched home with her basket, and Donald was retained, to follow to the Green-market for a supply of some necessary vegetables. "Do you know the house, Isbel?" said I to the poor half-blind body, who seemed to require rather than to give assistance. O yes, I kens it fu' weel. It's just the three door on the sout side o' the square. I kens it fu' weel."-" The south side, Isbel! you stupid old wo¬ VOL. X.
man-my house is on the north side," said I. "O, sure your honour's right, and I means norse fan I says sout.'
On further inquiry, I found that I had paid for my turbot seven shillings, while my wife had bought one as good for four shillings and sixpence. This was a triumph to Mrs Columbus, which I had no means of lessening, but by saying that my turbot was by much the better fish; and that, though no larger, it was certainly much thicker. Mrs Columbus, rather unadvisedly, I think, sustained her opinion, by saying, if there was any material dif ference, her turbot appeared to be lar gest, all things considered. It is excessively unpleasant, as I have often experienced, for man to yield to his yoke-fellow, even though apparently in the wrong; and I concluded the conversation by raising my eye-brows, and replying in a manner, which signified that it was unpleasant to hear any more on the subject." My dear Mary, talk no more about it-every body don't see things with the same eyes-your turbot is a very good turbot for the money, and-and-I be lieve I have an engagement at halfpast eleven."
I have often observed in my jour neyings through the world, that when one blunder is committed, it is usually followed by another; and this occurs so regularly, that blunder follows blunder as effect follows cause. This day's mishap was continued to the next; and although we had our dinner-our turbot and lobster saucethe sea-cats dressed in capital style, and surrounded by very alluring flounders; and although our party was so agreeable, that we had resolved to have another next day to eat our duplicate turbot, and devour our supernumerary cats and lobster; and for that purpose, had sent cards of invitation on short notice to a few friends, all of whom luckily were disengaged and promised to come:-Notwithstanding, I say, of all this, the second disappointment was worse than the first, as I shall endeavour to convince the reader, premising, however, that my Statement of Facts" does not imply the reverse of what is held out, when common authors give to the world books or pamphlets under this imposing title.
Blind Isbel, it seems, had actually 2 D
mistaken south for north, in the delivery of her eatable wares; and, as my worthy friend, Mr Robert M'Scribe, the writer, on the opposite side of the square, keeps house with an unmarried sister, and was to have company on the same day as we, the fish were received by the sister, as having been sent by the brother; and the brother, who had not given himself the trouble to inquire further than in general terms if the fish were good, received an answer from the maiden lady, that "she never saw a better turbot come to the house." It was not till next day at breakfast, that the mistake was discovered by Miss M'Scribe saying, "That was an excellent turbot you sent home yesterday, Bob-what did you pay for it?"-" You want me to guess the price, do you?" said Mr Robert," and are fishing for a compliment upon your marketing?"-"No, 'pon my word; but I really felt much obliged by your attention. I was just going out to market when it arrived, but Betty, knowing so little about pastry, I was glad to stay at home. By the bye, what sort of fishes were those you sent along with the turbot? Betty says they are sea-cats, and that they are never eaten. They are down stairs yet, as I do not know what to do with them, and can't even bear to look at the ugly creatures.'
Mr Robert looked all this while as eagerly in his sister's face, as if he were reading a deed for the purpose of finding a flaw in it. After putting his
hand over his forehead to assist his recollection, to discover the joke, if it were one, or the truth, if there was faith in the statement,-he cleared his mouth of the piece of roll, the mastication of which had been interrupted, and proceeded thus: "What! do you mean to say that you were not at the Fish-market, Kate? and that you did not buy the fish we had yesterday?"—" Seriously, it is true. I was not out the whole day," answered Miss M'Scribe. "That is very like an alibi -very odd, indeed. Some good friend must have sent them in a present, though that is not probable either. For myself, I assure you, that I was engaged till half-past four in taking a proof, and purging, in the legal way, half-a-dozen Highland drovers of malice and partial counsel, in the longcontested ease of Quey versus M'Stott"
The conversation was at this mo
ment interrupted by a servant opening the parlour door, and announcing the arrival of a fish-cadie,—no less a personage than Blind Isbel, who " wanted a word of Miss M'Scribe.". "Send her up here," said Mr Robert. "This is a material witness, and we shall take her deposition in presence, viva voce.' Isbel now made her appearance. "0, mushtruss, tere was sad mistake committed, for I brought Mr Columpush raun fluke and labster to you yestreen in the forenoon. Mr Columpush is rampaging like a mad gentleman, pless him, as good is his reason, and swearing he'll get my badge taken aff me for selling his fish; and so if your leddyship will gie them back, I'll tak them over even now, for the gentleman is gaun to have a large dinner."
O, the secret is out now," said Mr Robert. "My good woman, the fish are all eaten up, except the cats or dogs, or some such thing. I don't know if you can have even the bones. But go and tell Mr Columbus, with my compliments, that you brought the fish here by mistake; that we have dressed and eaten them by mistake; and paid the carriage from the market to you by mistake; all of which said mistakes I shall immediately clear up, and free you of every suspicion of mala fides in the transaction. Or, Kate, will you take your bonnet, go over with the poor woman, and explain the thing to Mrs Columbus, for if the man is in a passion, he may be unreasonable; and either pay the money, or send them a better turbot, &c. &c. &c. for their party. Assure them it was entirely accidental our eating their fish. There can be no great harm in getting a fresh turbot in place of one a day older, though I had rather the thing had not occurred."
Well, good woman," said Miss. Katharine, "go you away and tell Mrs Columbus, that I shall call over immediately, and put every thing to rights.' Blind Isbel returned with this message: Miss M'Scribe called and gave a full, true, and particular account of the accident; and as it was. evidently an unintentional mistake, there was nothing more to be said but to dispatch Isbel to the market for another turbot and lobster, as I did not feel inclined to go myself on such an errand. Isbel returned in about an hour, (having, I conjecture, carried home some person's fish in the mean
time,) with the appalling news of there being no turbot in the market-"Naething at a' but stinking cod, and a few auld-keepit haddies." This was excessively unlucky, for I had asked my friends particularly to eat turbot, and I depended on it as the sheet-anchor of the purposed dinner. Mrs Columbus was excessively mortified on the occasion; for, in addition to this, a domestic calamity had occurred in the falling of the stock for the soup from its perch on the kitchen-grate, and extinguishing the fire, besides saturating our only roast of beef with coal-ashes and soot. It was now evident, that do as we could, there was to be no dinner for that day. I therefore, at two o'clock, sat down and wrote notes to the few friends whom we had invited, stating that an unforeseen circumstance had occurred, which would deprive me of the pleasure of seeing them at my house.
Having, as I thought, now got rid of all my troubles, connected with this affair, I gave myself no farther disquiet; but at half-past four sat down to a beef-steak, and a cold fowl, the remains of yesterday's dinner. I had scarcely finished my meal, however, when the clock struck five, and almost at the same moment the door bell rung with violence. Starting from the table, and wiping my mouth, the possibility of my friends not having received my notes of anti-invitation first struck me. This was not the time for long deliberation; and I had dispatched the children to the nursery, exchanged half-adozen sentences with Mrs Columbus, and given the servant some necessary instructions, all in the short space of three minutes. Up stairs I then flew to the drawing-room, and throwing myself on a couch, took a newspaper, and assumed the appearance of one endeavouring to while away the time till dinner was ready. My friends were ushered in, devilish hungry, as they said, from having a long ride or walk, I forget which, and expressing a wish that the dinner would not be long in coming. After waiting fully half an hour, during which I had start ed fifty different subjects, such as the weather-the King-the Queen-the players the clergy-poor-rates-and the national debt-any one of which was sufficient inordinary circumstances to have filled up an afternoon; (why
should I conceal the truth-a potfull of potatoes had to be got ready,) notice was given in common form, that "dinner was on the table." No in formation could be more agreeable; for when I offered a remark, or propounded a theme for conversation, the answer was, Ay, we shall discuss that after discussing the dinner.” "We never talk of politics on an empty stomach."
Down stairs we went at last. But no smoking viands graced the board a cold round of beef, and a cold cut of salmon from a neighbouring cook's shop; two cold fowls, ditto from ditto; six small goose-berry tarts, ditto, ditto ; and the said potatoes and cauliflower, formed the tout ensemble of a dinner got up in half an hour after the family had already dined. My excuse for the want of turbot, which I saw was anxiously looked for, was, that the cook had spoiled it in dressing; that the carrier who should have brought my mutton from Dunfermline (they kill capital mutton at Dunfermline) had not arrived;-and for the want of hot dishes, that I never could bear warm meat in any thing like hot weather. My guests very good-naturedly sympathized with my misfortunes. We cursed all bad and careless cooks-gave stupid carriers to the devil in chorus; and in the intervals of mastication and speaking, washed down the cold vic tuals with my good Madeira. Though little George, my youngest boy, when he made his appearance after dinner, exclaimed, in the fulness of his little heart, "Papa's getting two dinners to day, Betty says, is not that funny?" and several other allusions were made to what had actually happened; yet I did not perceive that my friends noticed the circumstance, at least I flattered myself they did not, and we spent altogether a very pleasant evening. I had not the courage at the time to tell my misfortunes at marketing, or the adventure of the turbot, as the true reason of the cold dinner; and should not now have revealed the secret, but that being in the country, I shall not have the honour of being laughed at for a month to come.
As I, Christopher Columbus, am al❤ most the only modern writer (except, perhaps, my cousin North), who knows how to blend mirth and morality sweetly together, and as there
are assuredly few living authors besides myself, who take the trouble
"To point a moral, and adorn a tale,"
I cannot conclude this chapter with out a few words," as my friend the Rev. Dr Dolittle weekly says, "by way of application." Gentle reader, it hath been remarked that a blunder is like a bog-the more you struggle you stick the faster,-and the observation is founded in truth. If it should happen you, in the jostlings and bustlings of life, to make a wrong step, pray do not flounce and flounder too violently, like a bemired cow, for in that case you will infallibly sink deeper into the mud. No; patiently look around you and survey the ground. Perhaps a stray passenger may lend a hand to set you on firm footing. Or,
if this is not to be expected, (for the crowd, alas! are more apt to jest at than commiserate,) do take it in good humour, and laugh yourself at your absurd situation, if it be an innocent one. The worst is, a bespattered coat, and dirty shoes, which, when properly brushed and cleaned, sets all to rights, and the thing is forgotten, or only remembered to be the subject of merriment. But the stains of moral error are not so easily washed away; and, to avoid the bogs which lie on every side of the road of life, bedecked on their unsteady surface with wild flowers to attract your unwary steps, be careful to keep straight in the well-defined road to your final home, without turning to the right hand or to the left,-strong in your integrity, and trusting in the final reward of virtue.
DR SCOTT'S RETURN FROM PARIS!!!
FROM the memorable night of the nineteenth of July, much anxiety prevailed among the reading and eating part of the public. His Majesty's Odontist had disappeared. The jovial world pined at this occultation of the brightest luminary of the Magazine, as nature is saddened by the absence of the sun. Some thought a certain Duchess-dowager, fat, fair, and forty, had whisked him into her chariot, and borne him away to her boudoir. But how idle are all vulgar conjectures with respect to the movements of great men! Doctor Scott was travelling to Paris. He knows how wide his fame has spread, and like kings and other illustrious characters, to save trouble to the corporations of the different towns and cities through which his route lay, he preserved the strictest incognito. We alone were in the secretand to us he has confided the important results of his visit. What a sensation shortly in the literary world!! "Travels in France and England, by his Majesty's Odontist." But let us not anticipate. At present we have only to describe the gladdenings of his return.
On the sixth of the month, as we were sitting in the midst of our contributors in the Back-shop, assembled to determine the contents of the present Number, the joyful cry was heard, "Doctor Scott's come! the Doctor's cast up!" and the "fine
fat fadgel wight" himself soon made his appearance, his beaming countenance ascending the steps, like rosy Phoebus from the lap of Aurora. "Huzza," cried the traveller, flourishing his switch as he came forward, "I have been to Paris."-"To Paris, Doctor," was echoed by all present not in the secret; and immediately every one, like the priests and worshippers installing the Grand Lama of Thibet in his altar-throne, was more emulous than another to place the Odontist in the chair, which, with as much alacrity as our rheumatism would permit, we had evacuated the moment he made his appearance.
"Now for❜t, Doctor," was the universal cry; "what have ye seen? come tell us all. Begin at the beginning, when ye left London."
"It was fine weather," replied the doctor; "there was na a mot in the lift till we got ayont Canterbury. There I saw twa droll black clouds fleeing aboon a hill-corbie-like things
I didna like the looks o' themthe devil's yonder in the air, quo' I— and we soon fan' the truth o't. He flappit his wings, and brought on a perfect hurricane, when we were in the packet. The vessel heel'd o'er, till I thought she would hae coupit, and made a clean whamle o't. Lordsake, it was dreadful; and a poor bit German princey that we had on board, I thought would hae decanted his in