Imágenes de páginas

are in a few minutes stripped of their furniture; paintings, prints, and looking-glasses lie in a huddled heap about the floors; the curtains are torn from the testers, the beds crammed into the windows; chairs and tables, bedsteads and cradles, crowd the yard; and the garden-fence bends beneath the weight of carpets, blankets, cloth-cloaks, old coats, and ragged breeches. 5. Here

may be seen the lumber of the kitchen, forming a dark and confused mass; for the foreground of the picture, gridirons and frying-pans, rusty shovels and broken tongs, spits and pots, and the fractured remains of rush-bottomed chairs. There, a closet has disgorged its contents—cracked tumblers, broken wine-glasses, phials of forgotten physic, papers of unknown powders, seeds and dried herbs, handfuls of old corks, tops of teapots, and stoppers of departed decanters;—from the rag-hole in the garret to the rat-hole in the cellar, no place escapes unrummaged.

6. This ceremony completed, and the house thoroughly evacuated, the next operation is to smear the walls and ceilings of every room and closet with brushes dipped in a solution of lime, called whitewash; to pour buckets of water over every floor, and scratch all the partitions and wainscots with rough brushes wet with soap-suds, and dipped in stone-cutter's sand. The windows by no means escape the general deluge. A servant scrambles out upon the penthouse, at the risk of her neck, and, with a mug in her hand and a bucket within reach, she dashes away innumerable gallons of water against the glass panes, to the great annoyance of passengers in the street.

7. I have been told, that an action at law was once brought against one of these water-nymphs, by a person who had a new suit of clothes spoiled by this operation ; but, after a long argument, it was determined by the whole court, that the action would not lie, inasmuch as the defendant was in the exercise of a legal right, and not answerable for the consequences; and so the poor gentleman was doubly nonsuited; for he lost not only his suit of clothes, but his suit at law.


8. These smearings and scratchings, washings and dashings, being duly performed, the next ceremony is to cleanse and replace the distracted furniture. You


have seen a houseraising, or a ship-launch, when all the hands within reach are collected together; recollect, if you can, the hurry, bustle, confusion and noise of such a scene, and you will have some idea of this cleaning-match. The misfortune is, that the sole object is to make things clean ; it matters not how many ful, ornamental or valuable articles are mutilated, or suffer death, under the operation ; a mahogany chair and carved frame undergo the same discipline; they are to be made clean at all events; but their preservation is not worthy of attention.

9. For instance, a fine large engraving is laid flat upon the floor; smaller prints are piled upon it, and the superincumbent weight cracks the glasses of the lower tier; but this is of no consequence. A valuable picture is placed leaning against the sharp corner of a table; others are made to lean against that, until the pressure of the whole forces the corner of the table through the canvass of the first. The frame and glass of a fine print are to be cleaned; the spirit and oil, used on this occasion, are suffered to leak through and spoil the engraving ; no matter, if the glass is clean, and the frame shine, it is sufficient; the rest is not worthy of consideration. An able mathematician has made an accurate calculation, founded on long experience, and has discovered that the losses and destruction incident to two whitewashings, are equal to one removal, and three removals equal to one fire.

10. The cleaning frolic over, matters begin to resume their pristine appearance. The storm abates, and all would be well again; but it is impossible that so great a convulsion in so small a community, should not produce some farther effects. For two or three weeks after the operation, the family are usually afflicted with sore throats or sore eyes, occasioned by the caustic quality of the lime, or with severe colds from the exhalations of wet floors or damp walls.

11. I knew a gentleman who was fond of accounting for every thing in a philosophical way. He considered this, which I have called a custom, as a real periodical disease, peculiar to the climate. His train of reasoning was ingenious and whimsical, but I am not at leisure to give you the detail. The result was, that he found the distemper to be incurable; but, after much study, he conceived he had discovered a method to divert the evil he could not subdue. For this


he caused a small building about twelve feet square, to be erected in his garden, and furnished with some ordinary chairs and tables; and a few prints of the cheapest sort were hung against the walls.

12. His hope was, that when the whitewashing frenzy seized the females of his family, they might repair to this apartment, and scrub and smear and scour to their hearts' content; and so spend the violence of the disease in this outpost, while he enjoyed himself in quiet at head-quarters. But the experiment did not answer his expectation. It was impossible it should; since a principal part of the gratification consists in the lady's having an uncontrolled right to torment her husband, at least once a year, and to turn him out of doors, and take the reins of government into her own hands.

13. There is a much better contrivance then this of the philosopher, which is, to cover the walls of the house with paper : this is generally done; and, though it cannot abolish, it at least shortens, the period of female dominion. The paper is decorated with flowers of various fancies, and made so ornamental, that the women have admitted the fashion without perceiving the design.

14. There is also another alleviation of the husband's distress; he generally has the privilege of a small room or closet for his books and papers, the key of which he is allowed to keep. This is considered as a privileged place, and stands like the land of Goshen amid the plagues of Egypt. But then he must be extremely cautious, and ever on his guard; for, should he inadvertently go abroad, and leave the key in his door, the housemaid, who is always on the watch for such an opportunity, immediately enters in triumph, with buckets, brooms and brushes; takes possession of the premises, and forthwith puts all his books and papers to rights-to his utter confusion, and sometimes serious detriment.


1. John Tait, the Smith, lived happily with

His wife and children two;
He cheerfully sang as the anvil rang,

In shaping the iron true.

2. Both early and late, you saw John Tait

Working, content with his lot,
Decidedly glad, if a chance he had,

To strike while the iron was hot.

3. Should an idler stop to talk in his shop,

Or ask him to sup the beer pot; “Excuse me, I pray," he'd hastily say,

I must strike while the iron is hot.

4. He paid his way, from day to day ;

Good bargains he always got ;
Moving ahead, as he aptly said,

By striking when iron was hot.
5. With the work of his hand, he bought some land,

And built him a cottage neat;
And added thereto as richer he

Till it seemed a palace complete.
6. And when envious folks, in passing their jokes,

Asked how all this wealth he got;
As you should have done, said John, full of fun,

I struck while the iron was hot.


1. My dear young friend, whose shining wit

Sets all the room ablaze,
Don't think yourself a happy dog,'

For all your merry ways;-
But learn to wear a sober phiz,

Be stupid, if you can ;
It's such a very serious thing

To be a funny man!

2. You're at an evening party, with


group of pleasant folks,-
You venture quietly to crack

The least of little jokes,-
A lady doesn't catch the point,

And begs you to explain-
Alas! for one who drops a jest

And takes it up again!

3. You're talking deep philosophy With

very special force
To edify a clergyman

With suitable discourse,
You think you've got him-when he calls

A friend across the way,
And begs you'll say that funny thing

You said the other day!

4. You drop a pretty jeu-de-mots*

Into a neighbor's ears,
Who likes to give you credit for

The clever thing he hears,

* Play upon words; a pun.

« AnteriorContinuar »