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Mr. Tulrumble

PUBLIC LIFE OF MR. TULRUMBLE--ONCE MAYOR OF MUDFOG

Mudfog is a pleasant town--a remarkably pleasant town--situated in
a charming hollow by the side of a river, from which river, Mudfog
derives an agreeable scent of pitch, tar, coals, and rope-yarn, a
roving population in oilskin hats, a pretty steady influx of
drunken bargemen, and a great many other maritime advantages.
There is a good deal of water about Mudfog, and yet it is not
exactly the sort of town for a watering-place, either. Water is a
perverse sort of element at the best of times, and in Mudfog it is
particularly so. In winter, it comes oozing down the streets and
tumbling over the fields,--nay, rushes into the very cellars and
kitchens of the houses, with a lavish prodigality that might well
be dispensed with; but in the hot summer weather it WILL dry up,
and turn green: and, although green is a very good colour in its
way, especially in grass, still it certainly is not becoming to
water; and it cannot be denied that the beauty of Mudfog is rather
impaired, even by this trifling circumstance. Mudfog is a healthy
place--very healthy;--damp, perhaps, but none the worse for that.
It's quite a mistake to suppose that damp is unwholesome: plants
thrive best in damp situations, and why shouldn't men? The
inhabitants of Mudfog are unanimous in asserting that there exists
not a finer race of people on the face of the earth; here we have
an indisputable and veracious contradiction of the vulgar error at
once. So, admitting Mudfog to be damp, we distinctly state that it
is salubrious.

The town of Mudfog is extremely picturesque. Limehouse and
Ratcliff Highway are both something like it, but they give you a
very faint idea of Mudfog. There are a great many more public-
houses in Mudfog--more than in Ratcliff Highway and Limehouse put
together. The public buildings, too, are very imposing. We
consider the town-hall one of the finest specimens of shed
architecture, extant: it is a combination of the pig-sty and tea-
garden-box orders; and the simplicity of its design is of
surpassing beauty. The idea of placing a large window on one side
of the door, and a small one on the other, is particularly happy.
There is a fine old Doric beauty, too, about the padlock and
scraper, which is strictly in keeping with the general effect.

In this room do the mayor and corporation of Mudfog assemble
together in solemn council for the public weal. Seated on the
massive wooden benches, which, with the table in the centre, form
the only furniture of the whitewashed apartment, the sage men of
Mudfog spend hour after hour in grave deliberation. Here they
settle at what hour of the night the public-houses shall be closed,
at what hour of the morning they shall be permitted to open, how
soon it shall be lawful for people to eat their dinner on church-
days, and other great political questions; and sometimes, long
after silence has fallen on the town, and the distant lights from
the shops and houses have ceased to twinkle, like far-off stars, to
the sight of the boatmen on the river, the illumination in the two
unequal-sized windows of the town-hall, warns the inhabitants of
Mudfog that its little body of legislators, like a larger and
better-known body of the same genus, a great deal more noisy, and
not a whit more profound, are patriotically dozing away in company,
far into the night, for their country's good.

Among this knot of sage and learned men, no one was so eminently
distinguished, during many years, for the quiet modesty of his
appearance and demeanour, as Nicholas Tulrumble, the well-known
coal-dealer. However exciting the subject of discussion, however
animated the tone of the debate, or however warm the personalities
exchanged, (and even in Mudfog we get personal sometimes,) Nicholas
Tulrumble was always the same. To say truth, Nicholas, being an
industrious man, and always up betimes, was apt to fall asleep when
a debate began, and to remain asleep till it was over, when he
would wake up very much refreshed, and give his vote with the
greatest complacency. The fact was, that Nicholas Tulrumble,
knowing that everybody there had made up his mind beforehand,
considered the talking as just a long botheration about nothing at
all; and to the present hour it remains a question, whether, on
this point at all events, Nicholas Tulrumble was not pretty near
right.

Time, which strews a man's head with silver, sometimes fills his
pockets with gold. As he gradually performed one good office for
Nicholas Tulrumble, he was obliging enough, not to omit the other.
Nicholas began life in a wooden tenement of four feet square, with
a capital of two and ninepence, and a stock in trade of three
bushels and a-half of coals, exclusive of the large lump which
hung, by way of sign-board, outside. Then he enlarged the shed,
and kept a truck; then he left the shed, and the truck too, and
started a donkey and a Mrs. Tulrumble; then he moved again and set
up a cart; the cart was soon afterwards exchanged for a waggon; and
so he went on like his great predecessor Whittington--only without
a cat for a partner--increasing in wealth and fame, until at last
he gave up business altogether, and retired with Mrs. Tulrumble and
family to Mudfog Hall, which he had himself erected, on something
which he attempted to delude himself into the belief was a hill,
about a quarter of a mile distant from the town of Mudfog.

About this time, it began to be murmured in Mudfog that Nicholas
Tulrumble was growing vain and haughty; that prosperity and success
had corrupted the simplicity of his manners, and tainted the
natural goodness of his heart; in short, that he was setting up for
a public character, and a great gentleman, and affected to look
down upon his old companions with compassion and contempt. Whether
these reports were at the time well-founded, or not, certain it is
that Mrs. Tulrumble very shortly afterwards started a four-wheel
chaise, driven by a tall postilion in a yellow cap,--that Mr.
Tulrumble junior took to smoking cigars, and calling the footman a
'feller,'--and that Mr. Tulrumble from that time forth, was no more
seen in his old seat in the chimney-corner of the Lighterman's Arms
at night. This looked bad; but, more than this, it began to be
observed that Mr. Nicholas Tulrumble attended the corporation
meetings more frequently than heretofore; and he no longer went to
sleep as he had done for so many years, but propped his eyelids
open with his two forefingers; that he read the newspapers by
himself at home; and that he was in the habit of indulging abroad
in distant and mysterious allusions to 'masses of people,' and 'the
property of the country,' and 'productive power,' and 'the monied
interest:' all of which denoted and proved that Nicholas Tulrumble
was either mad, or worse; and it puzzled the good people of Mudfog
amazingly.

At length, about the middle of the month of October, Mr. Tulrumble
and family went up to London; the middle of October being, as Mrs.
Tulrumble informed her acquaintance in Mudfog, the very height of
the fashionable season.

Somehow or other, just about this time, despite the health-
preserving air of Mudfog, the Mayor died. It was a most
extraordinary circumstance; he had lived in Mudfog for eighty-five
years. The corporation didn't understand it at all; indeed it was
with great difficulty that one old gentleman, who was a great
stickler for forms, was dissuaded from proposing a vote of censure
on such unaccountable conduct. Strange as it was, however, die he
did, without taking the slightest notice of the corporation; and
the corporation were imperatively called upon to elect his
successor. So, they met for the purpose; and being very full of
Nicholas Tulrumble just then, and Nicholas Tulrumble being a very
important man, they elected him, and wrote off to London by the
very next post to acquaint Nicholas Tulrumble with his new
elevation.

Now, it being November time, and Mr. Nicholas Tulrumble being in
the capital, it fell out that he was present at the Lord Mayor's
show and dinner, at sight of the glory and splendour whereof, he,
Mr. Tulrumble, was greatly mortified, inasmuch as the reflection
would force itself on his mind, that, had he been born in London
instead of in Mudfog, he might have been a Lord Mayor too, and have
patronized the judges, and been affable to the Lord Chancellor, and
friendly with the Premier, and coldly condescending to the
Secretary to the Treasury, and have dined with a flag behind his
back, and done a great many other acts and deeds which unto Lord
Mayors of London peculiarly appertain. The more he thought of the
Lord Mayor, the more enviable a personage he seemed. To be a King
was all very well; but what was the King to the Lord Mayor! When
the King made a speech, everybody knew it was somebody else's
writing; whereas here was the Lord Mayor, talking away for half an
hour-all out of his own head--amidst the enthusiastic applause of
the whole company, while it was notorious that the King might talk
to his parliament till he was black in the face without getting so
much as a single cheer. As all these reflections passed through
the mind of Mr. Nicholas Tulrumble, the Lord Mayor of London
appeared to him the greatest sovereign on the face of the earth,
beating the Emperor of Russia all to nothing, and leaving the Great
Mogul immeasurably behind.

Mr. Nicholas Tulrumble was pondering over these things, and
inwardly cursing the fate which had pitched his coal-shed in
Mudfog, when the letter of the corporation was put into his hand.
A crimson flush mantled over his face as he read it, for visions of
brightness were already dancing before his imagination.

'My dear,' said Mr. Tulrumble to his wife, 'they have elected me,
Mayor of Mudfog.'

'Lor-a-mussy!' said Mrs. Tulrumble: 'why what's become of old
Sniggs?'

'The late Mr. Sniggs, Mrs. Tulrumble,' said Mr. Tulrumble sharply,
for he by no means approved of the notion of unceremoniously
designating a gentleman who filled the high office of Mayor, as
'Old Sniggs,'--'The late Mr. Sniggs, Mrs. Tulrumble, is dead.'

The communication was very unexpected; but Mrs. Tulrumble only
ejaculated 'Lor-a-mussy!' once again, as if a Mayor were a mere
ordinary Christian, at which Mr. Tulrumble frowned gloomily.

'What a pity 'tan't in London, ain't it?' said Mrs. Tulrumble,
after a short pause; 'what a pity 'tan't in London, where you might
have had a show.'

'I MIGHT have a show in Mudfog, if I thought proper, I apprehend,'
said Mr. Tulrumble mysteriously.

'Lor! so you might, I declare,' replied Mrs. Tulrumble.

'And a good one too,' said Mr. Tulrumble.

'Delightful!' exclaimed Mrs. Tulrumble.

'One which would rather astonish the ignorant people down there,'
said Mr. Tulrumble.

'It would kill them with envy,' said Mrs. Tulrumble.

So it was agreed that his Majesty's lieges in Mudfog should be
astonished with splendour, and slaughtered with envy, and that such
a show should take place as had never been seen in that town, or in
any other town before,--no, not even in London itself.

On the very next day after the receipt of the letter, down came the
tall postilion in a post-chaise,--not upon one of the horses, but
inside--actually inside the chaise,--and, driving up to the very
door of the town-hall, where the corporation were assembled,
delivered a letter, written by the Lord knows who, and signed by
Nicholas Tulrumble, in which Nicholas said, all through four sides
of closely-written, gilt-edged, hot-pressed, Bath post letter
paper, that he responded to the call of his fellow-townsmen with
feelings of heartfelt delight; that he accepted the arduous office
which their confidence had imposed upon him; that they would never
find him shrinking from the discharge of his duty; that he would
endeavour to execute his functions with all that dignity which
their magnitude and importance demanded; and a great deal more to
the same effect. But even this was not all. The tall postilion
produced from his right-hand top-boot, a damp copy of that
afternoon's number of the county paper; and there, in large type,
running the whole length of the very first column, was a long
address from Nicholas Tulrumble to the inhabitants of Mudfog, in
which he said that he cheerfully complied with their requisition,
and, in short, as if to prevent any mistake about the matter, told
them over again what a grand fellow he meant to be, in very much
the same terms as those in which he had already told them all about
the matter in his letter.

The corporation stared at one another very hard at all this, and
then looked as if for explanation to the tall postilion, but as the
tall postilion was intently contemplating the gold tassel on the
top of his yellow cap, and could have afforded no explanation
whatever, even if his thoughts had been entirely disengaged, they
contented themselves with coughing very dubiously, and looking very
grave. The tall postilion then delivered another letter, in which
Nicholas Tulrumble informed the corporation, that he intended
repairing to the town-hall, in grand state and gorgeous procession,
on the Monday afternoon next ensuing. At this the corporation
looked still more solemn; but, as the epistle wound up with a
formal invitation to the whole body to dine with the Mayor on that
day, at Mudfog Hall, Mudfog Hill, Mudfog, they began to see the fun
of the thing directly, and sent back their compliments, and they'd
be sure to come.

Now there happened to be in Mudfog, as somehow or other there does
happen to be, in almost every town in the British dominions, and
perhaps in foreign dominions too--we think it very likely, but,
being no great traveller, cannot distinctly say--there happened to
be, in Mudfog, a merry-tempered, pleasant-faced, good-for-nothing
sort of vagabond, with an invincible dislike to manual labour, and
an unconquerable attachment to strong beer and spirits, whom
everybody knew, and nobody, except his wife, took the trouble to
quarrel with, who inherited from his ancestors the appellation of
Edward Twigger, and rejoiced in the sobriquet of Bottle-nosed Ned.
He was drunk upon the average once a day, and penitent upon an
equally fair calculation once a month; and when he was penitent, he
was invariably in the very last stage of maudlin intoxication. He
was a ragged, roving, roaring kind of fellow, with a burly form, a
sharp wit, and a ready head, and could turn his hand to anything
when he chose to do it. He was by no means opposed to hard labour
on principle, for he would work away at a cricket-match by the day
together,--running, and catching, and batting, and bowling, and
revelling in toil which would exhaust a galley-slave. He would
have been invaluable to a fire-office; never was a man with such a
natural taste for pumping engines, running up ladders, and throwing
furniture out of two-pair-of-stairs' windows: nor was this the
only element in which he was at home; he was a humane society in
himself, a portable drag, an animated life-preserver, and had saved
more people, in his time, from drowning, than the Plymouth life-
boat, or Captain Manby's apparatus. With all these qualifications,
notwithstanding his dissipation, Bottle-nosed Ned was a general
favourite; and the authorities of Mudfog, remembering his numerous
services to the population, allowed him in return to get drunk in
his own way, without the fear of stocks, fine, or imprisonment. He
had a general licence, and he showed his sense of the compliment by
making the most of it.

We have been thus particular in describing the character and
avocations of Bottle-nosed Ned, because it enables us to introduce
a fact politely, without hauling it into the reader's presence with
indecent haste by the head and shoulders, and brings us very
naturally to relate, that on the very same evening on which Mr.
Nicholas Tulrumble and family returned to Mudfog, Mr. Tulrumble's
new secretary, just imported from London, with a pale face and
light whiskers, thrust his head down to the very bottom of his
neckcloth-tie, in at the tap-room door of the Lighterman's Arms,
and inquiring whether one Ned Twigger was luxuriating within,
announced himself as the bearer of a message from Nicholas
Tulrumble, Esquire, requiring Mr. Twigger's immediate attendance at
the hall, on private and particular business. It being by no means
Mr. Twigger's interest to affront the Mayor, he rose from the
fireplace with a slight sigh, and followed the light-whiskered
secretary through the dirt and wet of Mudfog streets, up to Mudfog
Hall, without further ado.

Mr. Nicholas Tulrumble was seated in a small cavern with a
skylight, which he called his library, sketching out a plan of the
procession on a large sheet of paper; and into the cavern the
secretary ushered Ned Twigger.

'Well, Twigger!' said Nicholas Tulrumble, condescendingly.

There was a time when Twigger would have replied, 'Well, Nick!' but
that was in the days of the truck, and a couple of years before the
donkey; so, he only bowed.

'I want you to go into training, Twigger,' said Mr. Tulrumble.

'What for, sir?' inquired Ned, with a stare.

'Hush, hush, Twigger!' said the Mayor. 'Shut the door, Mr.
Jennings. Look here, Twigger.'

As the Mayor said this, he unlocked a high closet, and disclosed a
complete suit of brass armour, of gigantic dimensions.

'I want you to wear this next Monday, Twigger,' said the Mayor.

'Bless your heart and soul, sir!' replied Ned, 'you might as well
ask me to wear a seventy-four pounder, or a cast-iron boiler.'

'Nonsense, Twigger, nonsense!' said the Mayor.

'I couldn't stand under it, sir,' said Twigger; 'it would make
mashed potatoes of me, if I attempted it.'

'Pooh, pooh, Twigger!' returned the Mayor. 'I tell you I have seen
it done with my own eyes, in London, and the man wasn't half such a
man as you are, either.'

'I should as soon have thought of a man's wearing the case of an
eight-day clock to save his linen,' said Twigger, casting a look of
apprehension at the brass suit.

'It's the easiest thing in the world,' rejoined the Mayor.

'It's nothing,' said Mr. Jennings.

'When you're used to it,' added Ned.

'You do it by degrees,' said the Mayor. 'You would begin with one
piece to-morrow, and two the next day, and so on, till you had got
it all on. Mr. Jennings, give Twigger a glass of rum. Just try
the breast-plate, Twigger. Stay; take another glass of rum first.
Help me to lift it, Mr. Jennings. Stand firm, Twigger! There!--it
isn't half as heavy as it looks, is it?'

Twigger was a good strong, stout fellow; so, after a great deal of
staggering, he managed to keep himself up, under the breastplate,
and even contrived, with the aid of another glass of rum, to walk
about in it, and the gauntlets into the bargain. He made a trial
of the helmet, but was not equally successful, inasmuch as he
tipped over instantly,--an accident which Mr. Tulrumble clearly
demonstrated to be occasioned by his not having a counteracting
weight of brass on his legs.

'Now, wear that with grace and propriety on Monday next,' said
Tulrumble, 'and I'll make your fortune.'

'I'll try what I can do, sir,' said Twigger.

'It must be kept a profound secret,' said Tulrumble.

'Of course, sir,' replied Twigger.

'And you must be sober,' said Tulrumble; 'perfectly sober.' Mr.
Twigger at once solemnly pledged himself to be as sober as a judge,
and Nicholas Tulrumble was satisfied, although, had we been
Nicholas, we should certainly have exacted some promise of a more
specific nature; inasmuch as, having attended the Mudfog assizes in
the evening more than once, we can solemnly testify to having seen
judges with very strong symptoms of dinner under their wigs.
However, that's neither here nor there.

The next day, and the day following, and the day after that, Ned
Twigger was securely locked up in the small cavern with the sky-
light, hard at work at the armour. With every additional piece he
could manage to stand upright in, he had an additional glass of
rum; and at last, after many partial suffocations, he contrived to
get on the whole suit, and to stagger up and down the room in it,
like an intoxicated effigy from Westminster Abbey.

Never was man so delighted as Nicholas Tulrumble; never was woman
so charmed as Nicholas Tulrumble's wife. Here was a sight for the
common people of Mudfog! A live man in brass armour! Why, they
would go wild with wonder!

The day--THE Monday--arrived.

If the morning had been made to order, it couldn't have been better
adapted to the purpose. They never showed a better fog in London
on Lord Mayor's day, than enwrapped the town of Mudfog on that
eventful occasion. It had risen slowly and surely from the green
and stagnant water with the first light of morning, until it
reached a little above the lamp-post tops; and there it had
stopped, with a sleepy, sluggish obstinacy, which bade defiance to
the sun, who had got up very blood-shot about the eyes, as if he
had been at a drinking-party over-night, and was doing his day's
work with the worst possible grace. The thick damp mist hung over
the town like a huge gauze curtain. All was dim and dismal. The
church steeples had bidden a temporary adieu to the world below;
and every object of lesser importance--houses, barns, hedges,
trees, and barges--had all taken the veil.

The church-clock struck one. A cracked trumpet from the front
garden of Mudfog Hall produced a feeble flourish, as if some
asthmatic person had coughed into it accidentally; the gate flew
open, and out came a gentleman, on a moist-sugar coloured charger,
intended to represent a herald, but bearing a much stronger
resemblance to a court-card on horseback. This was one of the
Circus people, who always came down to Mudfog at that time of the
year, and who had been engaged by Nicholas Tulrumble expressly for
the occasion. There was the horse, whisking his tail about,
balancing himself on his hind-legs, and flourishing away with his
fore-feet, in a manner which would have gone to the hearts and
souls of any reasonable crowd. But a Mudfog crowd never was a
reasonable one, and in all probability never will be. Instead of
scattering the very fog with their shouts, as they ought most
indubitably to have done, and were fully intended to do, by
Nicholas Tulrumble, they no sooner recognized the herald, than they
began to growl forth the most unqualified disapprobation at the
bare notion of his riding like any other man. If he had come out
on his head indeed, or jumping through a hoop, or flying through a
red-hot drum, or even standing on one leg with his other foot in
his mouth, they might have had something to say to him; but for a
professional gentleman to sit astride in the saddle, with his feet
in the stirrups, was rather too good a joke. So, the herald was a
decided failure, and the crowd hooted with great energy, as he
pranced ingloriously away.

On the procession came. We are afraid to say how many
supernumeraries there were, in striped shirts and black velvet
caps, to imitate the London watermen, or how many base imitations
of running-footmen, or how many banners, which, owing to the
heaviness of the atmosphere, could by no means be prevailed on to
display their inscriptions: still less do we feel disposed to
relate how the men who played the wind instruments, looking up into
the sky (we mean the fog) with musical fervour, walked through
pools of water and hillocks of mud, till they covered the powdered
heads of the running-footmen aforesaid with splashes, that looked
curious, but not ornamental; or how the barrel-organ performer put
on the wrong stop, and played one tune while the band played
another; or how the horses, being used to the arena, and not to the
streets, would stand still and dance, instead of going on and
prancing;--all of which are matters which might be dilated upon to
great advantage, but which we have not the least intention of
dilating upon, notwithstanding.

Oh! it was a grand and beautiful sight to behold a corporation in
glass coaches, provided at the sole cost and charge of Nicholas
Tulrumble, coming rolling along, like a funeral out of mourning,
and to watch the attempts the corporation made to look great and
solemn, when Nicholas Tulrumble himself, in the four-wheel chaise,
with the tall postilion, rolled out after them, with Mr. Jennings
on one side to look like a chaplain, and a supernumerary on the
other, with an old life-guardsman's sabre, to imitate the sword-
bearer; and to see the tears rolling down the faces of the mob as
they screamed with merriment. This was beautiful! and so was the
appearance of Mrs. Tulrumble and son, as they bowed with grave
dignity out of their coach-window to all the dirty faces that were
laughing around them: but it is not even with this that we have to
do, but with the sudden stopping of the procession at another blast
of the trumpet, whereat, and whereupon, a profound silence ensued,
and all eyes were turned towards Mudfog Hall, in the confident
anticipation of some new wonder.

'They won't laugh now, Mr. Jennings,' said Nicholas Tulrumble.

'I think not, sir,' said Mr. Jennings.

'See how eager they look,' said Nicholas Tulrumble. 'Aha! the
laugh will be on our side now; eh, Mr. Jennings?'

'No doubt of that, sir,' replied Mr. Jennings; and Nicholas
Tulrumble, in a state of pleasurable excitement, stood up in the
four-wheel chaise, and telegraphed gratification to the Mayoress
behind.

While all this was going forward, Ned Twigger had descended into
the kitchen of Mudfog Hall for the purpose of indulging the
servants with a private view of the curiosity that was to burst
upon the town; and, somehow or other, the footman was so
companionable, and the housemaid so kind, and the cook so friendly,
that he could not resist the offer of the first-mentioned to sit
down and take something--just to drink success to master in.

So, down Ned Twigger sat himself in his brass livery on the top of
the kitchen-table; and in a mug of something strong, paid for by
the unconscious Nicholas Tulrumble, and provided by the
companionable footman, drank success to the Mayor and his
procession; and, as Ned laid by his helmet to imbibe the something
strong, the companionable footman put it on his own head, to the
immeasurable and unrecordable delight of the cook and housemaid.
The companionable footman was very facetious to Ned, and Ned was
very gallant to the cook and housemaid by turns. They were all
very cosy and comfortable; and the something strong went briskly
round.

At last Ned Twigger was loudly called for, by the procession
people: and, having had his helmet fixed on, in a very complicated
manner, by the companionable footman, and the kind housemaid, and
the friendly cook, he walked gravely forth, and appeared before the
multitude.

The crowd roared--it was not with wonder, it was not with surprise;
it was most decidedly and unquestionably with laughter.

'What!' said Mr. Tulrumble, starting up in the four-wheel chaise.
'Laughing? If they laugh at a man in real brass armour, they'd
laugh when their own fathers were dying. Why doesn't he go into
his place, Mr. Jennings? What's he rolling down towards us for? he
has no business here!'

'I am afraid, sir--' faltered Mr. Jennings.

'Afraid of what, sir?' said Nicholas Tulrumble, looking up into the
secretary's face.

'I am afraid he's drunk, sir,' replied Mr. Jennings.

Nicholas Tulrumble took one look at the extraordinary figure that
was bearing down upon them; and then, clasping his secretary by the
arm, uttered an audible groan in anguish of spirit.

It is a melancholy fact that Mr. Twigger having full licence to
demand a single glass of rum on the putting on of every piece of
the armour, got, by some means or other, rather out of his
calculation in the hurry and confusion of preparation, and drank
about four glasses to a piece instead of one, not to mention the
something strong which went on the top of it. Whether the brass
armour checked the natural flow of perspiration, and thus prevented
the spirit from evaporating, we are not scientific enough to know;
but, whatever the cause was, Mr. Twigger no sooner found himself
outside the gate of Mudfog Hall, than he also found himself in a
very considerable state of intoxication; and hence his
extraordinary style of progressing. This was bad enough, but, as
if fate and fortune had conspired against Nicholas Tulrumble, Mr.
Twigger, not having been penitent for a good calendar month, took
it into his head to be most especially and particularly
sentimental, just when his repentance could have been most
conveniently dispensed with. Immense tears were rolling down his
cheeks, and he was vainly endeavouring to conceal his grief by
applying to his eyes a blue cotton pocket-handkerchief with white
spots,--an article not strictly in keeping with a suit of armour
some three hundred years old, or thereabouts.

'Twigger, you villain!' said Nicholas Tulrumble, quite forgetting
his dignity, 'go back.'

'Never,' said Ned. 'I'm a miserable wretch. I'll never leave
you.'

The by-standers of course received this declaration with
acclamations of 'That's right, Ned; don't!'

'I don't intend it,' said Ned, with all the obstinacy of a very
tipsy man. 'I'm very unhappy. I'm the wretched father of an
unfortunate family; but I am very faithful, sir. I'll never leave
you.' Having reiterated this obliging promise, Ned proceeded in
broken words to harangue the crowd upon the number of years he had
lived in Mudfog, the excessive respectability of his character, and
other topics of the like nature.

'Here! will anybody lead him away?' said Nicholas: 'if they'll
call on me afterwards, I'll reward them well.'

Two or three men stepped forward, with the view of bearing Ned off,
when the secretary interposed.

'Take care! take care!' said Mr. Jennings. 'I beg your pardon,
sir; but they'd better not go too near him, because, if he falls
over, he'll certainly crush somebody.'

At this hint the crowd retired on all sides to a very respectful
distance, and left Ned, like the Duke of Devonshire, in a little
circle of his own.

'But, Mr. Jennings,' said Nicholas Tulrumble, 'he'll be
suffocated.'

'I'm very sorry for it, sir,' replied Mr. Jennings; 'but nobody can
get that armour off, without his own assistance. I'm quite certain
of it from the way he put it on.'

Here Ned wept dolefully, and shook his helmeted head, in a manner
that might have touched a heart of stone; but the crowd had not
hearts of stone, and they laughed heartily.

'Dear me, Mr. Jennings,' said Nicholas, turning pale at the
possibility of Ned's being smothered in his antique costume--'Dear
me, Mr. Jennings, can nothing be done with him?'

'Nothing at all,' replied Ned, 'nothing at all. Gentlemen, I'm an
unhappy wretch. I'm a body, gentlemen, in a brass coffin.' At
this poetical idea of his own conjuring up, Ned cried so much that
the people began to get sympathetic, and to ask what Nicholas
Tulrumble meant by putting a man into such a machine as that; and
one individual in a hairy waistcoat like the top of a trunk, who
had previously expressed his opinion that if Ned hadn't been a poor
man, Nicholas wouldn't have dared do it, hinted at the propriety of
breaking the four-wheel chaise, or Nicholas's head, or both, which
last compound proposition the crowd seemed to consider a very good
notion.

It was not acted upon, however, for it had hardly been broached,
when Ned Twigger's wife made her appearance abruptly in the little
circle before noticed, and Ned no sooner caught a glimpse of her
face and form, than from the mere force of habit he set off towards
his home just as fast as his legs could carry him; and that was not
very quick in the present instance either, for, however ready they
might have been to carry HIM, they couldn't get on very well under
the brass armour. So, Mrs. Twigger had plenty of time to denounce
Nicholas Tulrumble to his face: to express her opinion that he was
a decided monster; and to intimate that, if her ill-used husband
sustained any personal damage from the brass armour, she would have
the law of Nicholas Tulrumble for manslaughter. When she had said
all this with due vehemence, she posted after Ned, who was dragging
himself along as best he could, and deploring his unhappiness in
most dismal tones.

What a wailing and screaming Ned's children raised when he got home
at last! Mrs. Twigger tried to undo the armour, first in one
place, and then in another, but she couldn't manage it; so she
tumbled Ned into bed, helmet, armour, gauntlets, and all. Such a
creaking as the bedstead made, under Ned's weight in his new suit!
It didn't break down though; and there Ned lay, like the anonymous
vessel in the Bay of Biscay, till next day, drinking barley-water,
and looking miserable: and every time he groaned, his good lady
said it served him right, which was all the consolation Ned Twigger
got.

Nicholas Tulrumble and the gorgeous procession went on together to
the town-hall, amid the hisses and groans of all the spectators,
who had suddenly taken it into their heads to consider poor Ned a
martyr. Nicholas was formally installed in his new office, in
acknowledgment of which ceremony he delivered himself of a speech,
composed by the secretary, which was very long, and no doubt very
good, only the noise of the people outside prevented anybody from
hearing it, but Nicholas Tulrumble himself. After which, the
procession got back to Mudfog Hall any how it could; and Nicholas
and the corporation sat down to dinner.

But the dinner was flat, and Nicholas was disappointed. They were
such dull sleepy old fellows, that corporation. Nicholas made
quite as long speeches as the Lord Mayor of London had done, nay,
he said the very same things that the Lord Mayor of London had
said, and the deuce a cheer the corporation gave him. There was
only one man in the party who was thoroughly awake; and he was
insolent, and called him Nick. Nick! What would be the
consequence, thought Nicholas, of anybody presuming to call the
Lord Mayor of London 'Nick!' He should like to know what the
sword-bearer would say to that; or the recorder, or the toast-
master, or any other of the great officers of the city. They'd
nick him.

But these were not the worst of Nicholas Tulrumble's doings. If
they had been, he might have remained a Mayor to this day, and have
talked till he lost his voice. He contracted a relish for
statistics, and got philosophical; and the statistics and the
philosophy together, led him into an act which increased his
unpopularity and hastened his downfall.

At the very end of the Mudfog High-street, and abutting on the
river-side, stands the Jolly Boatmen, an old-fashioned low-roofed,
bay-windowed house, with a bar, kitchen, and tap-room all in one,
and a large fireplace with a kettle to correspond, round which the
working men have congregated time out of mind on a winter's night,
refreshed by draughts of good strong beer, and cheered by the
sounds of a fiddle and tambourine: the Jolly Boatmen having been
duly licensed by the Mayor and corporation, to scrape the fiddle
and thumb the tambourine from time, whereof the memory of the
oldest inhabitants goeth not to the contrary. Now Nicholas
Tulrumble had been reading pamphlets on crime, and parliamentary
reports,--or had made the secretary read them to him, which is the
same thing in effect,--and he at once perceived that this fiddle
and tambourine must have done more to demoralize Mudfog, than any
other operating causes that ingenuity could imagine. So he read up
for the subject, and determined to come out on the corporation with
a burst, the very next time the licence was applied for.

The licensing day came, and the red-faced landlord of the Jolly
Boatmen walked into the town-hall, looking as jolly as need be,
having actually put on an extra fiddle for that night, to
commemorate the anniversary of the Jolly Boatmen's music licence.
It was applied for in due form, and was just about to be granted as
a matter of course, when up rose Nicholas Tulrumble, and drowned
the astonished corporation in a torrent of eloquence. He descanted
in glowing terms upon the increasing depravity of his native town
of Mudfog, and the excesses committed by its population. Then, he
related how shocked he had been, to see barrels of beer sliding
down into the cellar of the Jolly Boatmen week after week; and how
he had sat at a window opposite the Jolly Boatmen for two days
together, to count the people who went in for beer between the
hours of twelve and one o'clock alone--which, by-the-bye, was the
time at which the great majority of the Mudfog people dined. Then,
he went on to state, how the number of people who came out with
beer-jugs, averaged twenty-one in five minutes, which, being
multiplied by twelve, gave two hundred and fifty-two people with
beer-jugs in an hour, and multiplied again by fifteen (the number
of hours during which the house was open daily) yielded three
thousand seven hundred and eighty people with beer-jugs per day, or
twenty-six thousand four hundred and sixty people with beer-jugs,
per week. Then he proceeded to show that a tambourine and moral
degradation were synonymous terms, and a fiddle and vicious
propensities wholly inseparable. All these arguments he
strengthened and demonstrated by frequent references to a large
book with a blue cover, and sundry quotations from the Middlesex
magistrates; and in the end, the corporation, who were posed with
the figures, and sleepy with the speech, and sadly in want of
dinner into the bargain, yielded the palm to Nicholas Tulrumble,
and refused the music licence to the Jolly Boatmen.

But although Nicholas triumphed, his triumph was short. He carried
on the war against beer-jugs and fiddles, forgetting the time when
he was glad to drink out of the one, and to dance to the other,
till the people hated, and his old friends shunned him. He grew
tired of the lonely magnificence of Mudfog Hall, and his heart
yearned towards the Lighterman's Arms. He wished he had never set
up as a public man, and sighed for the good old times of the coal-
shop, and the chimney corner.

At length old Nicholas, being thoroughly miserable, took heart of
grace, paid the secretary a quarter's wages in advance, and packed
him off to London by the next coach. Having taken this step, he
put his hat on his head, and his pride in his pocket, and walked
down to the old room at the Lighterman's Arms. There were only two
of the old fellows there, and they looked coldly on Nicholas as he
proffered his hand.

'Are you going to put down pipes, Mr. Tulrumble?' said one.

'Or trace the progress of crime to 'bacca?' growled another.

'Neither,' replied Nicholas Tulrumble, shaking hands with them
both, whether they would or not. 'I've come down to say that I'm
very sorry for having made a fool of myself, and that I hope you'll
give me up the old chair, again.'

The old fellows opened their eyes, and three or four more old
fellows opened the door, to whom Nicholas, with tears in his eyes,
thrust out his hand too, and told the same story. They raised a
shout of joy, that made the bells in the ancient church-tower
vibrate again, and wheeling the old chair into the warm corner,
thrust old Nicholas down into it, and ordered in the very largest-
sized bowl of hot punch, with an unlimited number of pipes,
directly.

The next day, the Jolly Boatmen got the licence, and the next
night, old Nicholas and Ned Twigger's wife led off a dance to the
music of the fiddle and tambourine, the tone of which seemed
mightily improved by a little rest, for they never had played so
merrily before. Ned Twigger was in the very height of his glory,
and he danced hornpipes, and balanced chairs on his chin, and
straws on his nose, till the whole company, including the
corporation, were in raptures of admiration at the brilliancy of
his acquirements.

Mr. Tulrumble, junior, couldn't make up his mind to be anything but
magnificent, so he went up to London and drew bills on his father;
and when he had overdrawn, and got into debt, he grew penitent, and
came home again.

As to old Nicholas, he kept his word, and having had six weeks of
public life, never tried it any more. He went to sleep in the
town-hall at the very next meeting; and, in full proof of his
sincerity, has requested us to write this faithful narrative. We
wish it could have the effect of reminding the Tulrumbles of
another sphere, that puffed-up conceit is not dignity, and that
snarling at the little pleasures they were once glad to enjoy,
because they would rather forget the times when they were of lower
station, renders them objects of contempt and ridicule.

This is the first time we have published any of our gleanings from
this particular source. Perhaps, at some future period, we may
venture to open the chronicles of Mudfog.

Charles Dickens

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