April 15, Sunday.—At three o’clock Cummings and Gowing
called for a good long walk over Hampstead and Finchley, and brought
with them a friend named Stillbrook. We walked and chatted together,
except Stillbrook, who was always a few yards behind us staring at the
ground and cutting at the grass with his stick.
As it was getting on for five, we four held a consultation, and Gowing
suggested that we should make for “The Cow and Hedge” and
get some tea. Stillbrook said: “A brandy-and-soda was good
enough for him.” I reminded them that all public-houses
were closed till six o’clock. Stillbrook said, “That’s
all right—bona-fide travellers.”
We arrived; and as I was trying to pass, the man in charge of the
gate said: “Where from?” I replied: “Holloway.”
He immediately put up his arm, and declined to let me pass. I
turned back for a moment, when I saw Stillbrook, closely followed by
Cummings and Gowing, make for the entrance. I watched them, and
thought I would have a good laugh at their expense, I heard the porter
say: “Where from?” When, to my surprise, in fact disgust,
Stillbrook replied: “Blackheath,” and the three were immediately
Gowing called to me across the gate, and said: “We shan’t
be a minute.” I waited for them the best part of an hour.
When they appeared they were all in most excellent spirits, and the
only one who made an effort to apologise was Mr. Stillbrook, who said
to me: “It was very rough on you to be kept waiting, but we had
another spin for S. and B.’s.” I walked home in silence;
I couldn’t speak to them. I felt very dull all the evening,
but deemed it advisable not to say anything to Carrie about the
April 18.—Am in for a cold. Spent the whole day at the
office sneezing. In the evening, the cold being intolerable, sent
Sarah out for a bottle of Kinahan. Fell asleep in the arm-chair,
and woke with the shivers. Was startled by a loud knock at the
front door. Carrie awfully flurried. Sarah still out, so
went up, opened the door, and found it was only Cummings. Remembered
the grocer’s boy had again broken the side-bell. Cummings
squeezed my hand, and said: “I’ve just seen Gowing.
All right. Say no more about it.” There is no doubt
they are both under the impression I have apologised.
While playing dominoes with Cummings in the parlour, he said: “By-the-by,
do you want any wine or spirits? My cousin Merton has just set
up in the trade, and has a splendid whisky, four years in bottle, at
thirty-eight shillings. It is worth your while laying down a few
dozen of it.” I told him my cellars, which were very small,
were full up. To my horror, at that very moment, Sarah entered
the room, and putting a bottle of whisky, wrapped in a dirty piece of
newspaper, on the table in front of us, said: “Please, sir, the
grocer says he ain’t got no more Kinahan, but you’ll find
this very good at two-and-six, with twopence returned on the bottle;
and, please, did you want any more sherry? as he has some at one-and-three,
as dry as a nut!”
April 19.—Cummings called, bringing with him his friend Merton,
who is in the wine trade. Gowing also called. Mr. Merton
made himself at home at once, and Carrie and I were both struck with
him immediately, and thoroughly approved of his sentiments.
He leaned back in his chair and said: “You must take me as
I am;” and I replied: “Yes—and you must take us as
we are. We’re homely people, we are not swells.”
He answered: “No, I can see that,” and Gowing roared
with laughter; but Merton in a most gentlemanly manner said to Gowing:
“I don’t think you quite understand me. I intended
to convey that our charming host and hostess were superior to the follies
of fashion, and preferred leading a simple and wholesome life to gadding
about to twopenny-halfpenny tea-drinking afternoons, and living above
I was immensely pleased with these sensible remarks of Merton’s,
and concluded that subject by saying: “No, candidly, Mr. Merton,
we don’t go into Society, because we do not care for it; and what
with the expense of cabs here and cabs there, and white gloves and white
ties, etc., it doesn’t seem worth the money.”
Merton said in reference to friends: “My motto is ‘Few
and True;’ and, by the way, I also apply that to wine, ‘Little
and Good.’” Gowing said: “Yes, and sometimes
‘cheap and tasty,’ eh, old man?” Merton, still
continuing, said he should treat me as a friend, and put me down for
a dozen of his “Lockanbar” whisky, and as I was an old friend
of Gowing, I should have it for 36s., which was considerably under what
he paid for it.
He booked his own order, and further said that at any time I wanted
any passes for the theatre I was to let him know, as his name stood
good for any theatre in London.
April 20.—Carrie reminded me that as her old school friend,
Annie Fullers (now Mrs. James), and her husband had come up from Sutton
for a few days, it would look kind to take them to the theatre, and
would I drop a line to Mr. Merton asking him for passes for four, either
for the Italian Opera, Haymarket, Savoy, or Lyceum. I wrote Merton
to that effect.
April 23.—Mr. and Mrs. James (Miss Fullers that was) came to
meat tea, and we left directly after for the Tank Theatre. We
got a ’bus that took us to King’s Cross, and then changed
into one that took us to the “Angel.” Mr. James each
time insisted on paying for all, saying that I had paid for the tickets
and that was quite enough.
We arrived at theatre, where, curiously enough, all our ’bus-load
except an old woman with a basket seemed to be going in. I walked
ahead and presented the tickets. The man looked at them, and called
out: “Mr. Willowly! do you know anything about these?” holding
up my tickets. The gentleman called to, came up and examined my
tickets, and said: “Who gave you these?” I said, rather
indignantly: “Mr. Merton, of course.” He said: “Merton?
Who’s he?” I answered, rather sharply: “You
ought to know, his name’s good at any theatre in London.”
He replied: “Oh! is it? Well, it ain’t no good here.
These tickets, which are not dated, were issued under Mr. Swinstead’s
management, which has since changed hands.” While I was
having some very unpleasant words with the man, James, who had gone
upstairs with the ladies, called out: “Come on!” I
went up after them, and a very civil attendant said: “This way,
please, box H.” I said to James: “Why, how on earth
did you manage it?” and to my horror he replied: “Why, paid
for it of course.”
This was humiliating enough, and I could scarcely follow the play,
but I was doomed to still further humiliation. I was leaning out
of the box, when my tie—a little black bow which fastened on to
the stud by means of a new patent—fell into the pit below.
A clumsy man not noticing it, had his foot on it for ever so long before
he discovered it. He then picked it up and eventually flung it
under the next seat in disgust. What with the box incident and
the tie, I felt quite miserable. Mr. James, of Sutton, was very
good. He said: “Don’t worry—no one will notice
it with your beard. That is the only advantage of growing one
that I can see.” There was no occasion for that remark,
for Carrie is very proud of my beard.
To hide the absence of the tie I had to keep my chin down the rest
of the evening, which caused a pain at the back of my neck.
April 24.—Could scarcely sleep a wink through thinking of having
brought up Mr. and Mrs. James from the country to go to the theatre
last night, and his having paid for a private box because our order
was not honoured, and such a poor play too. I wrote a very satirical
letter to Merton, the wine merchant, who gave us the pass, and said,
“Considering we had to pay for our seats, we did our best to appreciate
the performance.” I thought this line rather cutting, and
I asked Carrie how many p’s there were in appreciate, and she
said, “One.” After I sent off the letter I looked
at the dictionary and found there were two. Awfully vexed at this.
Decided not to worry myself any more about the James’s; for,
as Carrie wisely said, “We’ll make it all right with them
by asking them up from Sutton one evening next week to play at Bézique.”
April 25.—In consequence of Brickwell telling me his wife was
working wonders with the new Pinkford’s enamel paint, I determined
to try it. I bought two tins of red on my way home. I hastened
through tea, went into the garden and painted some flower-pots.
I called out Carrie, who said: “You’ve always got some newfangled
craze;” but she was obliged to admit that the flower-pots looked
remarkably well. Went upstairs into the servant’s bedroom
and painted her washstand, towel-horse, and chest of drawers.
To my mind it was an extraordinary improvement, but as an example of
the ignorance of the lower classes in the matter of taste, our servant,
Sarah, on seeing them, evinced no sign of pleasure, but merely said
“she thought they looked very well as they was before.”
April 27.—Painted the bath red, and was delighted with the
result. Sorry to say Carrie was not, in fact we had a few words
about it. She said I ought to have consulted her, and she had
never heard of such a thing as a bath being painted red. I replied:
“It’s merely a matter of taste.”
Fortunately, further argument on the subject was stopped by a voice
saying, “May I come in?” It was only Cummings, who
said, “Your maid opened the door, and asked me to excuse her showing
me in, as she was wringing out some socks.” I was delighted
to see him, and suggested we should have a game of whist with a dummy,
and by way of merriment said: “You can be the dummy.”
Cummings (I thought rather ill-naturedly) replied: “Funny as usual.”
He said he couldn’t stop, he only called to leave me the Bicycle
News, as he had done with it.
Another ring at the bell; it was Gowing, who said he “must
apologise for coming so often, and that one of these days we must come
round to him.” I said: “A very extraordinary
thing has struck me.” “Something funny, as usual,”
said Cummings. “Yes,” I replied; “I think even
you will say so this time. It’s concerning you both; for
doesn’t it seem odd that Gowing’s always coming and Cummings’
always going?” Carrie, who had evidently quite forgotten
about the bath, went into fits of laughter, and as for myself, I fairly
doubled up in my chair, till it cracked beneath me. I think this
was one of the best jokes I have ever made.
Then imagine my astonishment on perceiving both Cummings and Gowing
perfectly silent, and without a smile on their faces. After rather
an unpleasant pause, Cummings, who had opened a cigar-case, closed it
up again and said: “Yes—I think, after that, I shall
be going, and I am sorry I fail to see the fun of your jokes.”
Gowing said he didn’t mind a joke when it wasn’t rude, but
a pun on a name, to his thinking, was certainly a little wanting in
good taste. Cummings followed it up by saying, if it had been
said by anyone else but myself, he shouldn’t have entered the
house again. This rather unpleasantly terminated what might have
been a cheerful evening. However, it was as well they went, for
the charwoman had finished up the remains of the cold pork.
April 29, Sunday.—Woke up with a fearful headache and strong
symptoms of a cold. Carrie, with a perversity which is just like
her, said it was “painter’s colic,” and was the result
of my having spent the last few days with my nose over a paint-pot.
I told her firmly that I knew a great deal better what was the matter
with me than she did. I had got a chill, and decided to have a
bath as hot as I could bear it. Bath ready—could scarcely
bear it so hot. I persevered, and got in; very hot, but very acceptable.
I lay still for some time.
On moving my hand above the surface of the water, I experienced the
greatest fright I ever received in the whole course of my life; for
imagine my horror on discovering my hand, as I thought, full of blood.
My first thought was that I had ruptured an artery, and was bleeding
to death, and should be discovered, later on, looking like a second
Marat, as I remember seeing him in Madame Tussaud’s. My
second thought was to ring the bell, but remembered there was no bell
to ring. My third was, that there was nothing but the enamel paint,
which had dissolved with boiling water. I stepped out of the bath,
perfectly red all over, resembling the Red Indians I have seen depicted
at an East-End theatre. I determined not to say a word to Carrie,
but to tell Farmerson to come on Monday and paint the bath white.
April 30.—Perfectly astounded at receiving an invitation for
Carrie and myself from the Lord and Lady Mayoress to the Mansion House,
to “meet the Representatives of Trades and Commerce.”
My heart beat like that of a schoolboy’s. Carrie and I read
the invitation over two or three times. I could scarcely eat my
breakfast. I said—and I felt it from the bottom of my heart,—“Carrie
darling, I was a proud man when I led you down the aisle of the church
on our wedding-day; that pride will be equalled, if not surpassed, when
I lead my dear, pretty wife up to the Lord and Lady Mayoress at the
Mansion House.” I saw the tears in Carrie’s eyes,
and she said: “Charlie dear, it is I who have to be proud
of you. And I am very, very proud of you. You have called
me pretty; and as long as I am pretty in your eyes, I am happy.
You, dear old Charlie, are not handsome, but you are good, which
is far more noble.” I gave her a kiss, and she said: “I
wonder if there will be any dancing? I have not danced with you
I cannot tell what induced me to do it, but I seized her round the
waist, and we were silly enough to be executing a wild kind of polka
when Sarah entered, grinning, and said: “There is a man, mum,
at the door who wants to know if you want any good coals.”
Most annoyed at this. Spent the evening in answering, and tearing
up again, the reply to the Mansion House, having left word with Sarah
if Gowing or Cummings called we were not at home. Must consult
Mr. Perkupp how to answer the Lord Mayor’s invitation.
May 1.—Carrie said: “I should like to send mother the
invitation to look at.” I consented, as soon as I had answered
it. I told Mr. Perkupp, at the office, with a feeling of pride,
that we had received an invitation to the Mansion House; and he said,
to my astonishment, that he himself gave in my name to the Lord Mayor’s
secretary. I felt this rather discounted the value of the invitation,
but I thanked him; and in reply to me, he described how I was to answer
it. I felt the reply was too simple; but of course Mr. Perkupp
May 3.—Carrie went to Mrs. James, at Sutton, to consult about
her dress for next Monday. While speaking incidentally to Spotch,
one of our head clerks, about the Mansion House, he said: “Oh,
I’m asked, but don’t think I shall go.” When
a vulgar man like Spotch is asked, I feel my invitation is considerably
discounted. In the evening, while I was out, the little tailor
brought round my coat and trousers, and because Sarah had not a shilling
to pay for the pressing, he took them away again.
May 4.—Carrie’s mother returned the Lord Mayor’s
invitation, which was sent to her to look at, with apologies for having
upset a glass of port over it. I was too angry to say anything.
May 7.—A big red-letter day; viz., the Lord Mayor’s reception.
The whole house upset. I had to get dressed at half-past six,
as Carrie wanted the room to herself. Mrs. James had come up from
Sutton to help Carrie; so I could not help thinking it unreasonable
that she should require the entire attention of Sarah, the servant,
as well. Sarah kept running out of the house to fetch “something
for missis,” and several times I had, in my full evening-dress,
to answer the back-door.
The last time it was the greengrocer’s boy, who, not seeing
it was me, for Sarah had not lighted the gas, pushed into my hands two
cabbages and half-a-dozen coal-blocks. I indignantly threw them
on the ground, and felt so annoyed that I so far forgot myself as to
box the boy’s ears. He went away crying, and said he should
summons me, a thing I would not have happen for the world. In
the dark, I stepped on a piece of the cabbage, which brought me down
on the flags all of a heap. For a moment I was stunned, but when
I recovered I crawled upstairs into the drawing-room and on looking
into the chimney-glass discovered that my chin was bleeding, my shirt
smeared with the coal-blocks, and my left trouser torn at the knee.
However, Mrs. James brought me down another shirt, which I changed
in the drawing-room. I put a piece of court-plaster on my chin,
and Sarah very neatly sewed up the tear at the knee. At nine o’clock
Carrie swept into the room, looking like a queen. Never have I
seen her look so lovely, or so distinguished. She was wearing
a satin dress of sky-blue—my favourite colour—and a piece
of lace, which Mrs. James lent her, round the shoulders, to give a finish.
I thought perhaps the dress was a little too long behind, and decidedly
too short in front, but Mrs. James said it was à la mode.
Mrs. James was most kind, and lent Carrie a fan of ivory with red feathers,
the value of which, she said, was priceless, as the feathers belonged
to the Kachu eagle—a bird now extinct. I preferred the little
white fan which Carrie bought for three-and-six at Shoolbred’s,
but both ladies sat on me at once.
We arrived at the Mansion House too early, which was rather fortunate,
for I had an opportunity of speaking to his lordship, who graciously
condescended to talk with me some minutes; but I must say I was disappointed
to find he did not even know Mr. Perkupp, our principal.
I felt as if we had been invited to the Mansion House by one who
did not know the Lord Mayor himself. Crowds arrived, and I shall
never forget the grand sight. My humble pen can never describe
it. I was a little annoyed with Carrie, who kept saying: “Isn’t
it a pity we don’t know anybody?”
Once she quite lost her head. I saw someone who looked like
Franching, from Peckham, and was moving towards him when she seized
me by the coat-tails, and said quite loudly: “Don’t leave
me,” which caused an elderly gentleman, in a court-suit, and a
chain round him, and two ladies, to burst out laughing. There
was an immense crowd in the supper-room, and, my stars! it was a splendid
supper—any amount of champagne.
Carrie made a most hearty supper, for which I was pleased; for I
sometimes think she is not strong. There was scarcely a dish she
did not taste. I was so thirsty, I could not eat much. Receiving
a sharp slap on the shoulder, I turned, and, to my amazement, saw Farmerson,
our ironmonger. He said, in the most familiar way: “This
is better than Brickfield Terrace, eh?” I simply looked
at him, and said coolly: “I never expected to see you here.”
He said, with a loud, coarse laugh: “I like that—if you,
why not me?” I replied: “Certainly,”
I wish I could have thought of something better to say. He said:
“Can I get your good lady anything?” Carrie said:
“No, I thank you,” for which I was pleased. I said,
by way of reproof to him: “You never sent to-day to paint the
bath, as I requested.” Farmerson said: “Pardon me,
Mr. Pooter, no shop when we’re in company, please.”
Before I could think of a reply, one of the sheriffs, in full Court
costume, slapped Farmerson on the back and hailed him as an old friend,
and asked him to dine with him at his lodge. I was astonished.
For full five minutes they stood roaring with laughter, and stood digging
each other in the ribs. They kept telling each other they didn’t
look a day older. They began embracing each other and drinking
To think that a man who mends our scraper should know any member
of our aristocracy! I was just moving with Carrie, when Farmerson
seized me rather roughly by the collar, and addressing the sheriff,
said: “Let me introduce my neighbour, Pooter.” He
did not even say “Mister.” The sheriff handed me a
glass of champagne. I felt, after all, it was a great honour to
drink a glass of wine with him, and I told him so. We stood chatting
for some time, and at last I said: “You must excuse me now if
I join Mrs. Pooter.” When I approached her, she said: “Don’t
let me take you away from friends. I am quite happy standing here
alone in a crowd, knowing nobody!”
As it takes two to make a quarrel, and as it was neither the time
nor the place for it, I gave my arm to Carrie, and said: “I hope
my darling little wife will dance with me, if only for the sake of saying
we had danced at the Mansion House as guests of the Lord Mayor.”
Finding the dancing after supper was less formal, and knowing how much
Carrie used to admire my dancing in the days gone by, I put my arm round
her waist and we commenced a waltz.
A most unfortunate accident occurred. I had got on a new pair
of boots. Foolishly, I had omitted to take Carrie’s advice;
namely, to scratch the soles of them with the points of the scissors
or to put a little wet on them. I had scarcely started when, like
lightning, my left foot slipped away and I came down, the side of my
head striking the floor with such violence that for a second or two
I did not know what had happened. I needly hardly say that Carrie
fell with me with equal violence, breaking the comb in her hair and
grazing her elbow.
There was a roar of laughter, which was immediately checked when
people found that we had really hurt ourselves. A gentleman assisted
Carrie to a seat, and I expressed myself pretty strongly on the danger
of having a plain polished floor with no carpet or drugget to prevent
people slipping. The gentleman, who said his name was Darwitts,
insisted on escorting Carrie to have a glass of wine, an invitation
which I was pleased to allow Carrie to accept.
I followed, and met Farmerson, who immediately said, in his loud
voice “Oh, are you the one who went down?”
I answered with an indignant look.
With execrable taste, he said: “Look here, old man, we are
too old for this game. We must leave these capers to the youngsters.
Come and have another glass, that is more in our line.”
Although I felt I was buying his silence by accepting, we followed
the others into the supper-room.
Neither Carrie nor I, after our unfortunate mishap, felt inclined
to stay longer. As we were departing, Farmerson said: “Are
you going? if so, you might give me a lift.”
I thought it better to consent, but wish I had first consulted Carrie.
May 8.—I woke up with a most terrible head-ache. I could
scarcely see, and the back of my neck was as if I had given it a crick.
I thought first of sending for a doctor; but I did not think it necessary.
When up, I felt faint, and went to Brownish’s, the chemist, who
gave me a draught. So bad at the office, had to get leave to come
home. Went to another chemist in the City, and I got a draught.
Brownish’s dose seems to have made me worse; have eaten nothing
all day. To make matters worse, Carrie, every time I spoke to
her, answered me sharply—that is, when she answered at all.
In the evening I felt very much worse again and said to her: “I
do believe I’ve been poisoned by the lobster mayonnaise at the
Mansion House last night;” she simply replied, without taking
her eyes from her sewing: “Champagne never did agree with you.”
I felt irritated, and said: “What nonsense you talk; I only had
a glass and a half, and you know as well as I do—”
Before I could complete the sentence she bounced out of the room.
I sat over an hour waiting for her to return; but as she did not, I
determined I would go to bed. I discovered Carrie had gone to
bed without even saying “good-night”; leaving me to bar
the scullery door and feed the cat. I shall certainly speak to
her about this in the morning.
May 9.—Still a little shaky, with black specks. The Blackfriars
Bi-weekly News contains a long list of the guests at the Mansion
House Ball. Disappointed to find our names omitted, though Farmerson’s
is in plainly enough with M.L.L. after it, whatever that may mean.
More than vexed, because we had ordered a dozen copies to send to our
friends. Wrote to the Blackfriars Bi-weekly News, pointing
out their omission.
Carrie had commenced her breakfast when I entered the parlour.
I helped myself to a cup of tea, and I said, perfectly calmly and quietly:
“Carrie, I wish a little explanation of your conduct last night.”
She replied, “Indeed! and I desire something more than a little
explanation of your conduct the night before.”
I said, coolly: “Really, I don’t understand you.”
Carrie said sneeringly: “Probably not; you were scarcely in
a condition to understand anything.”
I was astounded at this insinuation and simply ejaculated: “Caroline!”
She said: “Don’t be theatrical, it has no effect on me.
Reserve that tone for your new friend, Mister Farmerson, the ironmonger.”
I was about to speak, when Carrie, in a temper such as I have never
seen her in before, told me to hold my tongue. She said: “Now
I’m going to say something! After professing to snub
Mr. Farmerson, you permit him to snub you, in my presence, and
then accept his invitation to take a glass of champagne with you, and
you don’t limit yourself to one glass. You then offer this
vulgar man, who made a bungle of repairing our scraper, a seat in our
cab on the way home. I say nothing about his tearing my dress
in getting in the cab, nor of treading on Mrs. James’s expensive
fan, which you knocked out of my hand, and for which he never even apologised;
but you smoked all the way home without having the decency to ask my
permission. That is not all! At the end of the journey,
although he did not offer you a farthing towards his share of the cab,
you asked him in. Fortunately, he was sober enough to detect,
from my manner, that his company was not desirable.”
Goodness knows I felt humiliated enough at this; but, to make matters
worse, Gowing entered the room, without knocking, with two hats on his
head and holding the garden-rake in his hand, with Carrie’s fur
tippet (which he had taken off the downstairs hall-peg) round his neck,
and announced himself in a loud, coarse voice: “His Royal Highness,
the Lord Mayor!” He marched twice round the room like a
buffoon, and finding we took no notice, said: “Hulloh! what’s
up? Lovers’ quarrel, eh?”
There was a silence for a moment, so I said quietly: “My dear
Gowing, I’m not very well, and not quite in the humour for joking;
especially when you enter the room without knocking, an act which I
fail to see the fun of.”
Gowing said: “I’m very sorry, but I called for my stick,
which I thought you would have sent round.” I handed him
his stick, which I remembered I had painted black with the enamel paint,
thinking to improve it. He looked at it for a minute with a dazed
expression and said: “Who did this?”
I said: “Eh, did what?”
He said: “Did what? Why, destroyed my stick! It
belonged to my poor uncle, and I value it more than anything I have
in the world! I’ll know who did it.”
I said: “I’m very sorry. I dare say it will come
off. I did it for the best.”
Gowing said: “Then all I can say is, it’s a confounded
liberty; and I would add, you’re a bigger fool than you
look, only that’s absolutely impossible.”
May 21.—The last week or ten days terribly dull, Carrie being
away at Mrs. James’s, at Sutton. Cummings also away.
Gowing, I presume, is still offended with me for black enamelling his
stick without asking him.
May 22.—Purchased a new stick mounted with silver, which cost
seven-and-sixpence (shall tell Carrie five shillings), and sent it round
with nice note to Gowing.
May 24.—Carrie back. Hoorah! She looks wonderfully
well, except that the sun has caught her nose.
May 25.—Carrie brought down some of my shirts and advised me
to take them to Trillip’s round the corner. She said: “The
fronts and cuffs are much frayed.” I said without a moment’s
hesitation: “I’m ’frayed they are.”
Lor! how we roared. I thought we should never stop laughing.
As I happened to be sitting next the driver going to town on the ’bus,
I told him my joke about the “frayed” shirts. I thought
he would have rolled off his seat. They laughed at the office
a good bit too over it.