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my son-in-law, Mr, B --, and don't be so rude--do you hear, Mercer ? -as to give me any farther trouble.”
“I am sure, my lady,” stammered out the haberdasher, “I am sure, my lady,-1-1-1 do not know what to say. Your ladyship speaks —both your ladyships speak like members of the House of ComI mean of the House of Lords-like Peers of Parliament, I should say. Any thing so eloquent I have never heard in my life before ; but, really-1-1-I do not know what to say.”
“ But I know what you must say,” replied the shrill and impetuous Marchioness. “ You must pledge yourself to vote for Mr. B-, and there's an end on't! What, sir, are two women of quality, such as my aunt and myself, to condescend thus to signify their pleasure to such a person as Mr. Mercer the haberdasher !” (“ Proud minx that she is !” was here parenthetically interjected by Mrs. Mercer; “ if the fellow has the spirit of a flea, he'll give her his mind.”) “ Are we, I say, to condescend to lay our commands on any such person as you, and are they to be received with doubt and hesitation ? Reptile ! if you detain us longer with your doubts, you shall be crushed to the earth like a worm in our
“ Hear the vixen !” exclaimed Mrs. Mercer. “If I were he, I would give it to her in the deafest side of her head !"
“ Do not permit yourself to be excited thus, my love, by the folly of this weak, silly man,” said the drawling countess. “He is a stubborn blockhead, to be sure, as all blockheads are. But I shall never allow such a person as he is, to rob me of my temper. I do not even allow my obstinate poodle to do that ; though, it must be confessed, he has more than once tried me pretty severely.”
“ Ladies, ladies!” exclaimed Mercer, in a perturbed tone that spoke his extreme agitation. " Heaven knows I am the last man in the world that would think—nay, that would dream of offending you, but—butbut, really, what can a man do?”
“ I say, with all the distinctness of utterance of which I am mistress,” continued the countess ; " and our family have always been remarkable for distinctness of utterance; and, of all our family, no one has been more remarkable for that quality than myself ;-I say with all the distinctness of utterance of which I am mistress, give me your promise that you will vote for my son-in-law, Mr. B-, or I shall not only withdraw from you my patronage, and that of all the members of my family, but the Marchioness shall withdraw hers, and we shall blast the reputation of your goods, oppose their introduction by the influence of our superior ton, abolish the borough balls; and, finally, bring down a person who was
a shopman with the so justly celebrated firm of Dyde and Scribe, to set up under our fostering surveillance in opposition to you ; and you are, doubtless, sufficiently acquainted with the political economy of this paltry place, to know whether or not it has customers enough to make the new man rich, and to keep you from starving at the same time !"
“ Horrible old witch !" muttered Mrs. Mercer; “ what a demon she is. Have a care of me! heard ye ever the like of her?”
“ Ahem! Your ladyship deals rather hardly with me,” said Mercer ;
or rather, I should say, you are pleased to, perhaps, just a little disposed to, it may be, to have some amusement at my expense. But.but really, 'pon my honour, I am really much at a loss what to say.
But suppose that, just to please you, honourable ladies, I should resolve that I should keep neutral, and not vote at all ?”
“ What, sir !” exclaimed the marchioness, in her highest key, “ not vote at all! do you call that pleasing us ? By all that is good we shall not bate you one atom of our demands; vote for Mr. B and have our patronage ; vote for Mr. A, or remain neuter, and take our heaviest vengeance as your reward. Is that plain and intelligible ?”
“ Come, come, my love," said the countess, you are too hasty with this imbecile. He is a poor silly creature; but you should remember that our Bible teaches us to have mercy upon the weak. I see that our arguments have at length begun to operate upon him, as the continual dropping of a drop of water is said, by degrees, to perforate the hardest rock; and thus we perceive the powerful effect of sound reason, when properly directed and applied, and conveyed in fitting language. So now, Mercer, call my footman; and, as you show us to the carriage, give me the satisfaction of hearing you say that you have at last come to the determination of supporting my son-in-law Mr. B-Call my footman, I say ; Charles, the man's name is Charles.” Here Mrs. Mercer half opened the parlour-door, that she might the better hear, and at the same time see the parties, as they moved through the front shop towards the door where the carriage was standing. Mr. Mercer followed the two peeresses, bowing with great humiliation, and pale, and trembling like an aspen leaf. “ Call Charles, I say !" continued the countess, seating herself in one of the chairs of the front shop. “ Charles, where is my book of pledges ?"
“ Here, my lady.”
“ Then write down in it that Mercer here—your name is Joseph, I believe?”
“No, my lady,” replied the subdued haberdasher, in an humble tone, my name is Dick.”
• Ay! ay! true," continued she; “Richard Mercer. Charles, write down that Richard Mercer, (we cannot be too particular in such matters of business,) I say that Richard Mercer, haberdasher and silk merchant, number what is your number?”–
-“Fifteen, my lady.”—“ That Richard Mercer, haberdasher and silk merchant, and dealer in shawls and laces, number fifteen, High Street, pledges himself to qualify and vote for Mr. B - Ha! let me see it; yes, right enough; that will do. And now, Mr. Mercer, have you any particularly rich lace veils at present ? I think you occasionally commission such trifles. Let us see your last parcel; ay, that will do; vastly pretty, indeed! Hum! some of them vulgar enough in pattern, too; but, on the whole, not at all bad for such a shop in a country town. Put the whole parcel into the carriage; I may find use for them all.”
My troth, that is a wholesale bargain, indeed," muttered Mrs. Mer
“ but when shall we see the colour of her ladyship’s money?" Mr. Mercer came sneaking back into the little parlour, and swooped himself down in an easy chair, with a visage sorely humiliated by mortification and chagrin. His lady hardly allowed him to be seated ere she opened upon him.
“ Well, Dick, this is a precious business. How can you ever venture-you who was, as a body may say, the very tongue of the trump of reform—to hold up your head, or to show your face among the neighbours, after allowing yourself to be cajoled by that Jesuit, and dragooned by that horse-trooper in petticoats, and to have the common sense driven
out of ye by such a pair of she-devils ; Lord forgive me for such words ? Bless me, man, I thought you had more spunk and spirit in you than to be so browbeaten by such a randy woman as yon marchioness, or humbugged by such a draunting drone as yon shy old witch, her aunty the countess. How could you be so dull and so soft ?”
Now, be it observed, that the thin vapour of which the haberdasher's spirit was composed, had been, by this time, screwed down to its minutest possible volume, by the high pressure engines of the two ladies who had been so lately operating upon it. To prevent danger from its too sudden re-expansion, it should have been permitted gradually to escape harmless through some safety-valve. But, instead of this plan having been resorted to, the inconsiderate partner of his bosom thus began, by unexpectedly applying the poker to stir up the already intensely hot fire that burned within him ; and an additional stimulus was given to it, almost equal to that of a barrel of turpentine, by her having thus, for the first time, made him aware of the fact, that we who had witnessed his triumphant chuckling over the weakness of his neighbours and friends, the grocer, the baker, and the farmer, had now both heard and seen the utter and complete debasement to which he had been reduced. Poo! off he went, with an explosion more like that produced by the ignition of carbureted hydrogen in a coal-mine, than the mere bursting of a steamboiler.
“ I'll tell ye what it is, Mrs. Mercer,” said he, striking the table with his fist, “ by the great oath, this is a subject which no woman shall dare to remark upon in my presence; and, damnation, ma'am, my wife shall never speak of it, if she would have her head on the same pillow, or under the same roof with mine, else my name is not Dick Vercer !"
“ Mr. Mercer,” said we, rising abruptly to take our departure, drink to your good health, and many thanks for your polite hospitality. Do not stir, sir; pray do not stir.” But the haberdasher did stir, to accompany us to the door, with his habitual professional attention. And oh! what did he behold and hear when he reached it? On the narrow pavement in front of his shop stood a little ring of burghers, among whom we noticed Dull David Dallas the grocer, and the well-powdered Mr. White, the baker; while farmer Black was sitting in his saddle, and leaning over the kennel, listening with eager attention. A shout of laughter was at that moment arising from the group, in the midst of which one of the haberdasher's shopmen was in the act of finishing a waggish detail of the occurrences which we have so recently narrated. For our parts, we hardly dared to look at the poor man who was the subject of this history; but the slap of despair which he bestowed on his brow ere he again rushed inwards, was so loud, that it absolutely reechoed from the opposite buildings.
We returned to Mr. Strongitharm's, just in time to witness another scene, which, after what had passed, was quite refreshing to us, as it will, no doubt, be to our readers. The last touch had been given to our refitted vehicle, and our worthy iron M.D. had received our grateful commendations for his expertness and expedition ; when, as we were about to pay him his very moderate charge, a light barouchette, with four post-horses, and a brace of postilions, drove up to the door of the smithy. On the box in front, was seated Mr. B-, the present and would-be future member for the district of burghs we were then in; and in the interior appeared the heads of two individuals, the one elderly and the other younger. Mr. B - sprang from the box with great ala
crity, and, entering the smithy, addressed Mr. Strongitharm with a fami. liar yet haughty nod.
“ You're a voter, my good fellow, a’n’t ye?"
“ A believe a wull ha'e a vote, sir, after a ha’e qualifeed,” replied the smith, in a plain, simple, yet respectful manner.
“ Well, you'll give it to me, wont ye?” said the candidate. “ May a ax wha ye are, sir?" demanded Strongitharm.
« Oh! I'm Mr. B -, you know, who has now represented this district of burghs in Parliament for these eight years back."
“ Od, sir, ye mun ha’e been young begun wi' the Parlymentin' business,” replied the smith, “ but muckle though a ha'e read o' the news. papers, a ha'e never seen o' your doin' ony thing, either for the gude o' the country in general, or for this hamewald pairt o' the warld in parteecler; though they tell me ye hae gotten a gude fifeteen hunder ayear o' the nation's money; an' for what, a'm sure a kenna.”
“ That, my good friend, was merely the salary of a laborious office, of which the present men have deprived me,” replied the candidate, in a somewhat subdued tone.
" A kenna whaure the labour o't. lay than," said the smith, drily ; “ a can only say, that a dinna think muckle o' laborin' frae sax o'clock till sax o'clock wi' this bit fore-hammer i' my hand, an' a dinna get the fifeteenth pairt o' that siller for ma pains. They tell me that your warkshop's in Lunnon-an' a'm sure a never saw that the wark o't ever stoppit ye frae saumont-fishing i' the spring ; nor frae deuk shootin' i' the loch a' the simmer; nor frae murderin' the poor muirfools nor paitricks, i' the autumn; nor frae ridin' after the fox, a' the rest o’ the year. Whaure the labor o't can be than, is mair nor a can find oot. Labor eneuch did you indeed tak’ whanever Lord John Russell, or ony o' thae pawtriotic chields, spak aboot reform. Ma certy, whatever sport was in play at the time, ye gaed aff an' left it in an auld hurry. An a' to do what think ye? By ma soul, for nae ither purpose but to gi’e your silent vote against a' thing that was raisonable ; just that you, an' the pairty that gied you that laborious an' ill-paid office o' your’s that ye spak o', might haud doon puir fouk’s heads, an' prevent sic like as me frae ha’ein' that sma' voice in the nation, to the whilk, a tak' it, common sense wud say that they are fairly enteetled.”
“ You are a very sensible man, Mr. Strongitharm," said the candidate ; though some of your views are not altogether correct, or quite in harmony with mine. But, however much I may have opposed reform from conscientious motives, I am free to confess, that, since it has now become the law of the land, no one can be more disposed to see that it is fairly administered than I shall be.”
“ Weel, sir, that may be very true,” replied the smith; “ but a’m for pitten a chield to the new reform bellyses, wha had some hand in settin' them
up, an' wha best kens hoo to work them. In short, sir, to save ye frae blawin' ony mair o' the wund oot o' yours, a maun just honestly tell ye, that a canna' gi'e ma vote to a gentleman, wha, gif he had had his nane wull, wad never hae letten me hae ony vote to gi’e.”
“ Then you have been canvassed already by Mr. A I suppose,” said Mr. B, in a pettish tone.
“Na, Maister A nor nae ane else has been naur me,” replied the smith; " ye're the very first that ever spak till me aboot ony siccan a business. But whether Mr. A- comes till me or no', a mean to gi'e him ma vote, as bein' the best man we can get for our turn; and, gif we
NO, VIII,VOL. II.
can get him to gang to Parliament to do oor wark, am thinkin' that oor burghs wull be muckle obliged till him.”
“ But, Mr Strongitharm,” said the candidate, somewhat moved, “ you seem to forget, sir, that although you never saw me before, the whole horses of my stud, hunters, hacks, and all, have been shod in your smithy for nearly two years past.”.
“ That may be, sir,” coolly replied the smith, “ a'm sure a ha'e been very proud o' your custom ; an' mair nor that, a'm proud eneuch to believe that your horses were the best shod horses in a' the country side. But what has horse-shoein' to do wi’ the makin' o' members o' Parliament?”
“ Why-hoy-whoy, nothing very directly indeed," said the candidate, taken a good deal aback by the suddenness of the honest smith's question; « but-but you know it is in my power to send my horses to be shod somewhere else.”
“Ou, nae doot o' that, sir!" replied the smith, “ though, wi' reverence be it spoken, a canna' just see hoo siccan a hint as that jumps very weel wi' your declaration, that nane could be mair disposed than you are to see the Reform Bull fairly administered, noo that it's an ack. ye wull be contented to ha’e your hunters shod by gleed Wully Robb, poor chield, or even by the bit genty body up the street that maks the nice pokers an' tangs, and nit-crackers, and nitmug graters, a ha’e naething for to say against it; an' gif ony o' them, or ony ither man, can shoe ye're hunters as weel as a can do, what for no' employ him? But if the truth be, as a jalouse, that a can shoe your horses better than ony ither smith i' this pairt o' the country side, then, ma opinion just is, that if ye gang elsewhere to fare waur, ye ha’ena’ just a' that wusdom for your ain interest that fouk gi'e ye credit for."
“ Why do you talk so long?” called out one of the personages from the interior of the vehicle, in an impatient tone, ~ Come away! come
Mr. B hastened to the side of the carriage, and after a little private parley, a servant was called to open the door, and to let down the steps ; and the indefatigable Mr. B returned to the charge, reinforced by the presence of his two friends from the interior.
“ Mr. Strongitharm, this is my father-in-law, the Earl of C—, and this is my wife's cousin, the Marquis of F-" said the candidate.
“ Mr. Strongitharm,” said the marquis, with a good.-natured, familiar air and manner,
you know that I keep hounds, I believe ; that I hunt a pretty wide extent of country; and that not only all my shoeing work is done in your shop, but that I have it in my power to give you, or to take from you, half the shoeing work and farriery business of this county, and those on each side of it. Will you refuse me your vote for my con.. nexion, Mr. B-?”
“ Mr. Strongitharm,” said the earl, taking up the discourse before the smith had time to reply, “ you know that I also have some shoeing in my stables, and much smith work adoing at the castle ; all this I have the power of giving or withholding. But there is yet another thing to which I would earnestly call your attention : you hold a farm of three hundred a-year from me; and now, will you refuse me your vote for my son-in-law, Mr. B-?
“ Ma lords,” replied Mr. Strongitharm, apparently now resolved to permit the negotiation to be as little spun out as he possibly could ; “ to the horse an' smith pairt o' your twa speeches, a maun just say to you