Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 5

Two of the many passengers by a certain late Sunday evening train,
Mr. Thomas Idle and Mr. Francis Goodchild, yielded up their tickets
at a little rotten platform (converted into artificial touchwood by
smoke and ashes), deep in the manufacturing bosom of Yorkshire. A
mysterious bosom it appeared, upon a damp, dark, Sunday night,
dashed through in the train to the music of the whirling wheels,
the panting of the engine, and the part-singing of hundreds of
third-class excursionists, whose vocal efforts 'bobbed arayound'
from sacred to profane, from hymns, to our transatlantic sisters
the Yankee Gal and Mairy Anne, in a remarkable way. There seemed
to have been some large vocal gathering near to every lonely
station on the line. No town was visible, no village was visible,
no light was visible; but, a multitude got out singing, and a
multitude got in singing, and the second multitude took up the
hymns, and adopted our transatlantic sisters, and sang of their own
egregious wickedness, and of their bobbing arayound, and of how the
ship it was ready and the wind it was fair, and they were bayound
for the sea, Mairy Anne, until they in their turn became a getting-
out multitude, and were replaced by another getting-in multitude,
who did the same. And at every station, the getting-in multitude,
with an artistic reference to the completeness of their chorus,
incessantly cried, as with one voice while scuffling into the
carriages, 'We mun aa' gang toogither!'

The singing and the multitudes had trailed off as the lonely places
were left and the great towns were neared, and the way had lain as
silently as a train's way ever can, over the vague black streets of
the great gulfs of towns, and among their branchless woods of vague
black chimneys. These towns looked, in the cinderous wet, as
though they had one and all been on fire and were just put out--a
dreary and quenched panorama, many miles long.

Thus, Thomas and Francis got to Leeds; of which enterprising and
important commercial centre it may be observed with delicacy, that
you must either like it very much or not at all. Next day, the
first of the Race-Week, they took train to Doncaster.

And instantly the character, both of travellers and of luggage,
entirely changed, and no other business than race-business any
longer existed on the face of the earth. The talk was all of
horses and 'John Scott.' Guards whispered behind their hands to
station-masters, of horses and John Scott. Men in cut-away coats
and speckled cravats fastened with peculiar pins, and with the
large bones of their legs developed under tight trousers, so that
they should look as much as possible like horses' legs, paced up
and down by twos at junction-stations, speaking low and moodily of
horses and John Scott. The young clergyman in the black strait-
waistcoat, who occupied the middle seat of the carriage, expounded
in his peculiar pulpit-accent to the young and lovely Reverend Mrs.
Crinoline, who occupied the opposite middle-seat, a few passages of
rumour relative to 'Oartheth, my love, and Mithter John Eth-COTT.'
A bandy vagabond, with a head like a Dutch cheese, in a fustian
stable-suit, attending on a horse-box and going about the platforms
with a halter hanging round his neck like a Calais burgher of the
ancient period much degenerated, was courted by the best society,
by reason of what he had to hint, when not engaged in eating straw,
concerning 't'harses and Joon Scott.' The engine-driver himself,
as he applied one eye to his large stationary double-eye-glass on
the engine, seemed to keep the other open, sideways, upon horses
and John Scott.

Breaks and barriers at Doncaster Station to keep the crowd off;
temporary wooden avenues of ingress and egress, to help the crowd
on. Forty extra porters sent down for this present blessed Race-
Week, and all of them making up their betting-books in the lamp-
room or somewhere else, and none of them to come and touch the
luggage. Travellers disgorged into an open space, a howling
wilderness of idle men. All work but race-work at a stand-still;
all men at a stand-still. 'Ey my word! Deant ask noon o' us to
help wi' t'luggage. Bock your opinion loike a mon. Coom! Dang
it, coom, t'harses and Joon Scott!' In the midst of the idle men,
all the fly horses and omnibus horses of Doncaster and parts
adjacent, rampant, rearing, backing, plunging, shying--apparently
the result of their hearing of nothing but their own order and John
Scott.

Grand Dramatic Company from London for the Race-Week. Poses
Plastiques in the Grand Assembly Room up the Stable-Yard at seven
and nine each evening, for the Race-Week. Grand Alliance Circus in
the field beyond the bridge, for the Race-Week. Grand Exhibition
of Aztec Lilliputians, important to all who want to be horrified
cheap, for the Race-Week. Lodgings, grand and not grand, but all
at grand prices, ranging from ten pounds to twenty, for the Grand
Race-Week!

Rendered giddy enough by these things, Messieurs Idle and Goodchild
repaired to the quarters they had secured beforehand, and Mr.
Goodchild looked down from the window into the surging street.

'By Heaven, Tom!' cried he, after contemplating it, 'I am in the
Lunatic Asylum again, and these are all mad people under the charge
of a body of designing keepers!'

All through the Race-Week, Mr. Goodchild never divested himself of
this idea. Every day he looked out of window, with something of
the dread of Lemuel Gulliver looking down at men after he returned
home from the horse-country; and every day he saw the Lunatics,
horse-mad, betting-mad, drunken-mad, vice-mad, and the designing
Keepers always after them. The idea pervaded, like the second
colour in shot-silk, the whole of Mr. Goodchild's impressions.
They were much as follows:

Monday, mid-day. Races not to begin until to-morrow, but all the
mob-Lunatics out, crowding the pavements of the one main street of
pretty and pleasant Doncaster, crowding the road, particularly
crowding the outside of the Betting Rooms, whooping and shouting
loudly after all passing vehicles. Frightened lunatic horses
occasionally running away, with infinite clatter. All degrees of
men, from peers to paupers, betting incessantly. Keepers very
watchful, and taking all good chances. An awful family likeness
among the Keepers, to Mr. Palmer and Mr. Thurtell. With some
knowledge of expression and some acquaintance with heads (thus
writes Mr. Goodchild), I never have seen anywhere, so many
repetitions of one class of countenance and one character of head
(both evil) as in this street at this time. Cunning, covetousness,
secrecy, cold calculation, hard callousness and dire insensibility,
are the uniform Keeper characteristics. Mr. Palmer passes me five
times in five minutes, and, so I go down the street, the back of
Mr. Thurtell's skull is always going on before me.

Monday evening. Town lighted up; more Lunatics out than ever; a
complete choke and stoppage of the thoroughfare outside the Betting
Rooms. Keepers, having dined, pervade the Betting Rooms, and
sharply snap at the moneyed Lunatics. Some Keepers flushed with
drink, and some not, but all close and calculating. A vague
echoing roar of 't'harses' and 't'races' always rising in the air,
until midnight, at about which period it dies away in occasional
drunken songs and straggling yells. But, all night, some
unmannerly drinking-house in the neighbourhood opens its mouth at
intervals and spits out a man too drunk to be retained: who
thereupon makes what uproarious protest may be left in him, and
either falls asleep where he tumbles, or is carried off in custody.

Tuesday morning, at daybreak. A sudden rising, as it were out of
the earth, of all the obscene creatures, who sell 'correct cards of
the races.' They may have been coiled in corners, or sleeping on
door-steps, and, having all passed the night under the same set of
circumstances, may all want to circulate their blood at the same
time; but, however that may be, they spring into existence all at
once and together, as though a new Cadmus had sown a race-horse's
teeth. There is nobody up, to buy the cards; but, the cards are
madly cried. There is no patronage to quarrel for; but, they madly
quarrel and fight. Conspicuous among these hyaenas, as breakfast-
time discloses, is a fearful creature in the general semblance of a
man: shaken off his next-to-no legs by drink and devilry, bare-
headed and bare-footed, with a great shock of hair like a horrible
broom, and nothing on him but a ragged pair of trousers and a pink
glazed-calico coat--made on him--so very tight that it is as
evident that he could never take it off, as that he never does.
This hideous apparition, inconceivably drunk, has a terrible power
of making a gong-like imitation of the braying of an ass: which
feat requires that he should lay his right jaw in his begrimed
right paw, double himself up, and shake his bray out of himself,
with much staggering on his next-to-no legs, and much twirling of
his horrible broom, as if it were a mop. From the present minute,
when he comes in sight holding up his cards to the windows, and
hoarsely proposing purchase to My Lord, Your Excellency, Colonel,
the Noble Captain, and Your Honourable Worship--from the present
minute until the Grand Race-Week is finished, at all hours of the
morning, evening, day, and night, shall the town reverberate, at
capricious intervals, to the brays of this frightful animal the
Gong-donkey.

No very great racing to-day, so no very great amount of vehicles:
though there is a good sprinkling, too: from farmers' carts and
gigs, to carriages with post-horses and to fours-in-hand, mostly
coming by the road from York, and passing on straight through the
main street to the Course. A walk in the wrong direction may be a
better thing for Mr. Goodchild to-day than the Course, so he walks
in the wrong direction. Everybody gone to the races. Only
children in the street. Grand Alliance Circus deserted; not one
Star-Rider left; omnibus which forms the Pay-Place, having on
separate panels Pay here for the Boxes, Pay here for the Pit, Pay
here for the Gallery, hove down in a corner and locked up; nobody
near the tent but the man on his knees on the grass, who is making
the paper balloons for the Star young gentlemen to jump through to-
night. A pleasant road, pleasantly wooded. No labourers working
in the fields; all gone 't'races.' The few late wenders of their
way 't'races,' who are yet left driving on the road, stare in
amazement at the recluse who is not going 't'races.' Roadside
innkeeper has gone 't'races.' Turnpike-man has gone 't'races.'
His thrifty wife, washing clothes at the toll-house door, is going
't'races' to-morrow. Perhaps there may be no one left to take the
toll to-morrow; who knows? Though assuredly that would be neither
turnpike-like nor Yorkshire-like. The very wind and dust seem to
be hurrying 't'races,' as they briskly pass the only wayfarer on
the road. In the distance, the Railway Engine, waiting at the
town-end, shrieks despairingly. Nothing but the difficulty of
getting off the Line, restrains that Engine from going 't'races,'
too, it is very clear.

At night, more Lunatics out than last night--and more Keepers. The
latter very active at the Betting Rooms, the street in front of
which is now impassable. Mr. Palmer as before. Mr. Thurtell as
before. Roar and uproar as before. Gradual subsidence as before.
Unmannerly drinking-house expectorates as before. Drunken negro-
melodists, Gong-donkey, and correct cards, in the night.

On Wednesday morning, the morning of the great St. Leger, it
becomes apparent that there has been a great influx since
yesterday, both of Lunatics and Keepers. The families of the
tradesmen over the way are no longer within human ken; their places
know them no more; ten, fifteen, and twenty guinea-lodgers fill
them. At the pastry-cook's second-floor window, a Keeper is
brushing Mr. Thurtell's hair--thinking it his own. In the wax-
chandler's attic, another Keeper is putting on Mr. Palmer's braces.
In the gunsmith's nursery, a Lunatic is shaving himself. In the
serious stationer's best sitting-room, three Lunatics are taking a
combination-breakfast, praising the (cook's) devil, and drinking
neat brandy in an atmosphere of last midnight's cigars. No family
sanctuary is free from our Angelic messengers--we put up at the
Angel--who in the guise of extra waiters for the grand Race-Week,
rattle in and out of the most secret chambers of everybody's house,
with dishes and tin covers, decanters, soda-water bottles, and
glasses. An hour later. Down the street and up the street, as far
as eyes can see and a good deal farther, there is a dense crowd;
outside the Betting Rooms it is like a great struggle at a theatre
door--in the days of theatres; or at the vestibule of the Spurgeon
temple--in the days of Spurgeon. An hour later. Fusing into this
crowd, and somehow getting through it, are all kinds of
conveyances, and all kinds of foot-passengers; carts, with brick-
makers and brick-makeresses jolting up and down on planks; drags,
with the needful grooms behind, sitting cross-armed in the needful
manner, and slanting themselves backward from the soles of their
boots at the needful angle; postboys, in the shining hats and smart
jackets of the olden time, when stokers were not; beautiful
Yorkshire horses, gallantly driven by their own breeders and
masters. Under every pole, and every shaft, and every horse, and
every wheel as it would seem, the Gong-donkey--metallically
braying, when not struggling for life, or whipped out of the way.

By one o'clock, all this stir has gone out of the streets, and
there is no one left in them but Francis Goodchild. Francis
Goodchild will not be left in them long; for, he too is on his way,
't'races.'

A most beautiful sight, Francis Goodchild finds 't'races' to be,
when he has left fair Doncaster behind him, and comes out on the
free course, with its agreeable prospect, its quaint Red House
oddly changing and turning as Francis turns, its green grass, and
fresh heath. A free course and an easy one, where Francis can roll
smoothly where he will, and can choose between the start, or the
coming-in, or the turn behind the brow of the hill, or any out-of-
the-way point where he lists to see the throbbing horses straining
every nerve, and making the sympathetic earth throb as they come
by. Francis much delights to be, not in the Grand Stand, but where
he can see it, rising against the sky with its vast tiers of little
white dots of faces, and its last high rows and corners of people,
looking like pins stuck into an enormous pincushion--not quite so
symmetrically as his orderly eye could wish, when people change or
go away. When the race is nearly run out, it is as good as the
race to him to see the flutter among the pins, and the change in
them from dark to light, as hats are taken off and waved. Not less
full of interest, the loud anticipation of the winner's name, the
swelling, and the final, roar; then, the quick dropping of all the
pins out of their places, the revelation of the shape of the bare
pincushion, and the closing-in of the whole host of Lunatics and
Keepers, in the rear of the three horses with bright-coloured
riders, who have not yet quite subdued their gallop though the
contest is over.

Mr. Goodchild would appear to have been by no means free from
lunacy himself at 't'races,' though not of the prevalent kind. He
is suspected by Mr. Idle to have fallen into a dreadful state
concerning a pair of little lilac gloves and a little bonnet that
he saw there. Mr. Idle asserts, that he did afterwards repeat at
the Angel, with an appearance of being lunatically seized, some
rhapsody to the following effect: 'O little lilac gloves! And O
winning little bonnet, making in conjunction with her golden hair
quite a Glory in the sunlight round the pretty head, why anything
in the world but you and me! Why may not this day's running-of
horses, to all the rest: of precious sands of life to me--be
prolonged through an everlasting autumn-sunshine, without a sunset!
Slave of the Lamp, or Ring, strike me yonder gallant equestrian
Clerk of the Course, in the scarlet coat, motionless on the green
grass for ages! Friendly Devil on Two Sticks, for ten times ten
thousands years, keep Blink-Bonny jibbing at the post, and let us
have no start! Arab drums, powerful of old to summon Genii in the
desert, sound of yourselves and raise a troop for me in the desert
of my heart, which shall so enchant this dusty barouche (with a
conspicuous excise-plate, resembling the Collector's door-plate at
a turnpike), that I, within it, loving the little lilac gloves, the
winning little bonnet, and the dear unknown-wearer with the golden
hair, may wait by her side for ever, to see a Great St. Leger that
shall never be run!'

Thursday morning. After a tremendous night of crowding, shouting,
drinking-house expectoration, Gong-donkey, and correct cards.
Symptoms of yesterday's gains in the way of drink, and of
yesterday's losses in the way of money, abundant. Money-losses
very great. As usual, nobody seems to have won; but, large losses
and many losers are unquestionable facts. Both Lunatics and
Keepers, in general very low. Several of both kinds look in at the
chemist's while Mr. Goodchild is making a purchase there, to be
'picked up.' One red-eyed Lunatic, flushed, faded, and disordered,
enters hurriedly and cries savagely, 'Hond us a gloss of sal
volatile in wather, or soom dommed thing o' thot sart!' Faces at
the Betting Rooms very long, and a tendency to bite nails
observable. Keepers likewise given this morning to standing about
solitary, with their hands in their pockets, looking down at their
boots as they fit them into cracks of the pavement, and then
looking up whistling and walking away. Grand Alliance Circus out,
in procession; buxom lady-member of Grand Alliance, in crimson
riding-habit, fresher to look at, even in her paint under the day
sky, than the cheeks of Lunatics or Keepers. Spanish Cavalier
appears to have lost yesterday, and jingles his bossed bridle with
disgust, as if he were paying. Reaction also apparent at the
Guildhall opposite, whence certain pickpockets come out handcuffed
together, with that peculiar walk which is never seen under any
other circumstances--a walk expressive of going to jail, game, but
still of jails being in bad taste and arbitrary, and how would YOU
like it if it was you instead of me, as it ought to be! Mid-day.
Town filled as yesterday, but not so full; and emptied as
yesterday, but not so empty. In the evening, Angel ordinary where
every Lunatic and Keeper has his modest daily meal of turtle,
venison, and wine, not so crowded as yesterday, and not so noisy.
At night, the theatre. More abstracted faces in it than one ever
sees at public assemblies; such faces wearing an expression which
strongly reminds Mr. Goodchild of the boys at school who were
'going up next,' with their arithmetic or mathematics. These boys
are, no doubt, going up to-morrow with THEIR sums and figures. Mr.
Palmer and Mr. Thurtell in the boxes O. P. Mr. Thurtell and Mr.
Palmer in the boxes P. S. The firm of Thurtell, Palmer, and
Thurtell, in the boxes Centre. A most odious tendency observable
in these distinguished gentlemen to put vile constructions on
sufficiently innocent phrases in the play, and then to applaud them
in a Satyr-like manner. Behind Mr. Goodchild, with a party of
other Lunatics and one Keeper, the express incarnation of the thing
called a 'gent.' A gentleman born; a gent manufactured. A
something with a scarf round its neck, and a slipshod speech
issuing from behind the scarf; more depraved, more foolish, more
ignorant, more unable to believe in any noble or good thing of any
kind, than the stupidest Bosjesman. The thing is but a boy in
years, and is addled with drink. To do its company justice, even
its company is ashamed of it, as it drawls its slang criticisms on
the representation, and inflames Mr. Goodchild with a burning
ardour to fling it into the pit. Its remarks are so horrible, that
Mr. Goodchild, for the moment, even doubts whether that IS a
wholesome Art, which sets women apart on a high floor before such a
thing as this, though as good as its own sisters, or its own
mother--whom Heaven forgive for bringing it into the world! But,
the consideration that a low nature must make a low world of its
own to live in, whatever the real materials, or it could no more
exist than any of us could without the sense of touch, brings Mr.
Goodchild to reason: the rather, because the thing soon drops its
downy chin upon its scarf, and slobbers itself asleep.

Friday Morning. Early fights. Gong-donkey, and correct cards.
Again, a great set towards the races, though not so great a set as
on Wednesday. Much packing going on too, upstairs at the gun-
smith's, the wax-chandler's, and the serious stationer's; for there
will be a heavy drift of Lunatics and Keepers to London by the
afternoon train. The course as pretty as ever; the great
pincushion as like a pincushion, but not nearly so full of pins;
whole rows of pins wanting. On the great event of the day, both
Lunatics and Keepers become inspired with rage; and there is a
violent scuffling, and a rushing at the losing jockey, and an
emergence of the said jockey from a swaying and menacing crowd,
protected by friends, and looking the worse for wear; which is a
rough proceeding, though animating to see from a pleasant distance.
After the great event, rills begin to flow from the pincushion
towards the railroad; the rills swell into rivers; the rivers soon
unite into a lake. The lake floats Mr. Goodchild into Doncaster,
past the Itinerant personage in black, by the way-side telling him
from the vantage ground of a legibly printed placard on a pole that
for all these things the Lord will bring him to judgment. No
turtle and venison ordinary this evening; that is all over. No
Betting at the rooms; nothing there but the plants in pots, which
have, all the week, been stood about the entry to give it an
innocent appearance, and which have sorely sickened by this time.

Saturday. Mr. Idle wishes to know at breakfast, what were those
dreadful groanings in his bedroom doorway in the night? Mr.
Goodchild answers, Nightmare. Mr. Idle repels the calumny, and
calls the waiter. The Angel is very sorry--had intended to
explain; but you see, gentlemen, there was a gentleman dined down-
stairs with two more, and he had lost a deal of money, and he would
drink a deal of wine, and in the night he 'took the horrors,' and
got up; and as his friends could do nothing with him he laid
himself down and groaned at Mr. Idle's door. 'And he DID groan
there,' Mr. Idle says; 'and you will please to imagine me inside,
"taking the horrors" too!'


So far, the picture of Doncaster on the occasion of its great
sporting anniversary, offers probably a general representation of
the social condition of the town, in the past as well as in the
present time. The sole local phenomenon of the current year, which
may be considered as entirely unprecedented in its way, and which
certainly claims, on that account, some slight share of notice,
consists in the actual existence of one remarkable individual, who
is sojourning in Doncaster, and who, neither directly nor
indirectly, has anything at all to do, in any capacity whatever,
with the racing amusements of the week. Ranging throughout the
entire crowd that fills the town, and including the inhabitants as
well as the visitors, nobody is to be found altogether disconnected
with the business of the day, excepting this one unparalleled man.
He does not bet on the races, like the sporting men. He does not
assist the races, like the jockeys, starters, judges, and grooms.
He does not look on at the races, like Mr. Goodchild and his
fellow-spectators. He does not profit by the races, like the
hotel-keepers and the tradespeople. He does not minister to the
necessities of the races, like the booth-keepers, the postilions,
the waiters, and the hawkers of Lists. He does not assist the
attractions of the races, like the actors at the theatre, the
riders at the circus, or the posturers at the Poses Plastiques.
Absolutely and literally, he is the only individual in Doncaster
who stands by the brink of the full-flowing race-stream, and is not
swept away by it in common with all the rest of his species. Who
is this modern hermit, this recluse of the St. Leger-week, this
inscrutably ungregarious being, who lives apart from the amusements
and activities of his fellow-creatures? Surely, there is little
difficulty in guessing that clearest and easiest of all riddles.
Who could he be, but Mr. Thomas Idle?

Thomas had suffered himself to be taken to Doncaster, just as he
would have suffered himself to be taken to any other place in the
habitable globe which would guarantee him the temporary possession
of a comfortable sofa to rest his ankle on. Once established at
the hotel, with his leg on one cushion and his back against
another, he formally declined taking the slightest interest in any
circumstance whatever connected with the races, or with the people
who were assembled to see them. Francis Goodchild, anxious that
the hours should pass by his crippled travelling-companion as
lightly as possible, suggested that his sofa should be moved to the
window, and that he should amuse himself by looking out at the
moving panorama of humanity, which the view from it of the
principal street presented. Thomas, however, steadily declined
profiting by the suggestion.

'The farther I am from the window,' he said, 'the better, Brother
Francis, I shall be pleased. I have nothing in common with the one
prevalent idea of all those people who are passing in the street.
Why should I care to look at them?'

'I hope I have nothing in common with the prevalent idea of a great
many of them, either,' answered Goodchild, thinking of the sporting
gentlemen whom he had met in the course of his wanderings about
Doncaster. 'But, surely, among all the people who are walking by
the house, at this very moment, you may find--'

'Not one living creature,' interposed Thomas, 'who is not, in one
way or another, interested in horses, and who is not, in a greater
or less degree, an admirer of them. Now, I hold opinions in
reference to these particular members of the quadruped creation,
which may lay claim (as I believe) to the disastrous distinction of
being unpartaken by any other human being, civilised or savage,
over the whole surface of the earth. Taking the horse as an animal
in the abstract, Francis, I cordially despise him from every point
of view.'

'Thomas,' said Goodchild, 'confinement to the house has begun to
affect your biliary secretions. I shall go to the chemist's and
get you some physic.'

'I object,' continued Thomas, quietly possessing himself of his
friend's hat, which stood on a table near him,--'I object, first,
to the personal appearance of the horse. I protest against the
conventional idea of beauty, as attached to that animal. I think
his nose too long, his forehead too low, and his legs (except in
the case of the cart-horse) ridiculously thin by comparison with
the size of his body. Again, considering how big an animal he is,
I object to the contemptible delicacy of his constitution. Is he
not the sickliest creature in creation? Does any child catch cold
as easily as a horse? Does he not sprain his fetlock, for all his
appearance of superior strength, as easily as I sprained my ankle!
Furthermore, to take him from another point of view, what a
helpless wretch he is! No fine lady requires more constant
waiting-on than a horse. Other animals can make their own
toilette: he must have a groom. You will tell me that this is
because we want to make his coat artificially glossy. Glossy!
Come home with me, and see my cat,--my clever cat, who can groom
herself! Look at your own dog! see how the intelligent creature
curry-combs himself with his own honest teeth! Then, again, what a
fool the horse is, what a poor, nervous fool! He will start at a
piece of white paper in the road as if it was a lion. His one
idea, when he hears a noise that he is not accustomed to, is to run
away from it. What do you say to those two common instances of the
sense and courage of this absurdly overpraised animal? I might
multiply them to two hundred, if I chose to exert my mind and waste
my breath, which I never do. I prefer coming at once to my last
charge against the horse, which is the most serious of all, because
it affects his moral character. I accuse him boldly, in his
capacity of servant to man, of slyness and treachery. I brand him
publicly, no matter how mild he may look about the eyes, or how
sleek he may be about the coat, as a systematic betrayer, whenever
he can get the chance, of the confidence reposed in him. What do
you mean by laughing and shaking your head at me?'

'Oh, Thomas, Thomas!' said Goodchild. 'You had better give me my
hat; you had better let me get you that physic.'

'I will let you get anything you like, including a composing
draught for yourself,' said Thomas, irritably alluding to his
fellow-apprentice's inexhaustible activity, 'if you will only sit
quiet for five minutes longer, and hear me out. I say again the
horse is a betrayer of the confidence reposed in him; and that
opinion, let me add, is drawn from my own personal experience, and
is not based on any fanciful theory whatever. You shall have two
instances, two overwhelming instances. Let me start the first of
these by asking, what is the distinguishing quality which the
Shetland Pony has arrogated to himself, and is still perpetually
trumpeting through the world by means of popular report and books
on Natural History? I see the answer in your face: it is the
quality of being Sure-Footed. He professes to have other virtues,
such as hardiness and strength, which you may discover on trial;
but the one thing which he insists on your believing, when you get
on his back, is that he may be safely depended on not to tumble
down with you. Very good. Some years ago, I was in Shetland with
a party of friends. They insisted on taking me with them to the
top of a precipice that overhung the sea. It was a great distance
off, but they all determined to walk to it except me. I was wiser
then than I was with you at Carrock, and I determined to be carried
to the precipice. There was no carriage-road in the island, and
nobody offered (in consequence, as I suppose, of the imperfectly-
civilised state of the country) to bring me a sedan-chair, which is
naturally what I should have liked best. A Shetland pony was
produced instead. I remembered my Natural History, I recalled
popular report, and I got on the little beast's back, as any other
man would have done in my position, placing implicit confidence in
the sureness of his feet. And how did he repay that confidence?
Brother Francis, carry your mind on from morning to noon. Picture
to yourself a howling wilderness of grass and bog, bounded by low
stony hills. Pick out one particular spot in that imaginary scene,
and sketch me in it, with outstretched arms, curved back, and heels
in the air, plunging headforemost into a black patch of water and
mud. Place just behind me the legs, the body, and the head of a
sure-footed Shetland pony, all stretched flat on the ground, and
you will have produced an accurate representation of a very
lamentable fact. And the moral device, Francis, of this picture
will be to testify that when gentlemen put confidence in the legs
of Shetland ponies, they will find to their cost that they are
leaning on nothing but broken reeds. There is my first instance--
and what have you got to say to that?'

'Nothing, but that I want my hat,' answered Goodchild, starting up
and walking restlessly about the room.

'You shall have it in a minute,' rejoined Thomas. 'My second
instance'--(Goodchild groaned, and sat down again)--'My second
instance is more appropriate to the present time and place, for it
refers to a race-horse. Two years ago an excellent friend of mine,
who was desirous of prevailing on me to take regular exercise, and
who was well enough acquainted with the weakness of my legs to
expect no very active compliance with his wishes on their part,
offered to make me a present of one of his horses. Hearing that
the animal in question had started in life on the turf, I declined
accepting the gift with many thanks; adding, by way of explanation,
that I looked on a race-horse as a kind of embodied hurricane, upon
which no sane man of my character and habits could be expected to
seat himself. My friend replied that, however appropriate my
metaphor might be as applied to race-horses in general, it was
singularly unsuitable as applied to the particular horse which he
proposed to give me. From a foal upwards this remarkable animal
had been the idlest and most sluggish of his race. Whatever
capacities for speed he might possess he had kept so strictly to
himself, that no amount of training had ever brought them out. He
had been found hopelessly slow as a racer, and hopelessly lazy as a
hunter, and was fit for nothing but a quiet, easy life of it with
an old gentleman or an invalid. When I heard this account of the
horse, I don't mind confessing that my heart warmed to him.
Visions of Thomas Idle ambling serenely on the back of a steed as
lazy as himself, presenting to a restless world the soothing and
composite spectacle of a kind of sluggardly Centaur, too peaceable
in his habits to alarm anybody, swam attractively before my eyes.
I went to look at the horse in the stable. Nice fellow! he was
fast asleep with a kitten on his back. I saw him taken out for an
airing by the groom. If he had had trousers on his legs I should
not have known them from my own, so deliberately were they lifted
up, so gently were they put down, so slowly did they get over the
ground. From that moment I gratefully accepted my friend's offer.
I went home; the horse followed me--by a slow train. Oh, Francis,
how devoutly I believed in that horse I how carefully I looked
after all his little comforts! I had never gone the length of
hiring a man-servant to wait on myself; but I went to the expense
of hiring one to wait upon him. If I thought a little of myself
when I bought the softest saddle that could be had for money, I
thought also of my horse. When the man at the shop afterwards
offered me spurs and a whip, I turned from him with horror. When I
sallied out for my first ride, I went purposely unarmed with the
means of hurrying my steed. He proceeded at his own pace every
step of the way; and when he stopped, at last, and blew out both
his sides with a heavy sigh, and turned his sleepy head and looked
behind him, I took him home again, as I might take home an artless
child who said to me, "If you please, sir, I am tired." For a week
this complete harmony between me and my horse lasted undisturbed.
At the end of that time, when he had made quite sure of my friendly
confidence in his laziness, when he had thoroughly acquainted
himself with all the little weaknesses of my seat (and their name
is Legion), the smouldering treachery and ingratitude of the equine
nature blazed out in an instant. Without the slightest provocation
from me, with nothing passing him at the time but a pony-chaise
driven by an old lady, he started in one instant from a state of
sluggish depression to a state of frantic high spirits. He kicked,
he plunged, he shied, he pranced, he capered fearfully. I sat on
him as long as I could, and when I could sit no longer, I fell off.
No, Francis! this is not a circumstance to be laughed at, but to be
wept over. What would be said of a Man who had requited my
kindness in that way? Range over all the rest of the animal
creation, and where will you find me an instance of treachery so
black as this? The cow that kicks down the milking-pail may have
some reason for it; she may think herself taxed too heavily to
contribute to the dilution of human tea and the greasing of human
bread. The tiger who springs out on me unawares has the excuse of
being hungry at the time, to say nothing of the further
justification of being a total stranger to me. The very flea who
surprises me in my sleep may defend his act of assassination on the
ground that I, in my turn, am always ready to murder him when I am
awake. I defy the whole body of Natural Historians to move me,
logically, off the ground that I have taken in regard to the horse.
Receive back your hat, Brother Francis, and go to the chemist's, if
you please; for I have now done. Ask me to take anything you like,
except an interest in the Doncaster races. Ask me to look at
anything you like, except an assemblage of people all animated by
feelings of a friendly and admiring nature towards the horse. You
are a remarkably well-informed man, and you have heard of hermits.
Look upon me as a member of that ancient fraternity, and you will
sensibly add to the many obligations which Thomas Idle is proud to
owe to Francis Goodchild.'

Here, fatigued by the effort of excessive talking, disputatious
Thomas waved one hand languidly, laid his head back on the sofa-
pillow, and calmly closed his eyes.

At a later period, Mr. Goodchild assailed his travelling companion
boldly from the impregnable fortress of common sense. But Thomas,
though tamed in body by drastic discipline, was still as mentally
unapproachable as ever on the subject of his favourite delusion.


The view from the window after Saturday's breakfast is altogether
changed. The tradesmen's families have all come back again. The
serious stationer's young woman of all work is shaking a duster out
of the window of the combination breakfast-room; a child is playing
with a doll, where Mr. Thurtell's hair was brushed; a sanitary
scrubbing is in progress on the spot where Mr. Palmer's braces were
put on. No signs of the Races are in the streets, but the tramps
and the tumble-down-carts and trucks laden with drinking-forms and
tables and remnants of booths, that are making their way out of the
town as fast as they can. The Angel, which has been cleared for
action all the week, already begins restoring every neat and
comfortable article of furniture to its own neat and comfortable
place. The Angel's daughters (pleasanter angels Mr. Idle and Mr.
Goodchild never saw, nor more quietly expert in their business, nor
more superior to the common vice of being above it), have a little
time to rest, and to air their cheerful faces among the flowers in
the yard. It is market-day. The market looks unusually natural,
comfortable, and wholesome; the market-people too. The town seems
quite restored, when, hark! a metallic bray--The Gong-donkey!

The wretched animal has not cleared off with the rest, but is here,
under the window. How much more inconceivably drunk now, how much
more begrimed of paw, how much more tight of calico hide, how much
more stained and daubed and dirty and dunghilly, from his horrible
broom to his tender toes, who shall say! He cannot even shake the
bray out of himself now, without laying his cheek so near to the
mud of the street, that he pitches over after delivering it. Now,
prone in the mud, and now backing himself up against shop-windows,
the owners of which come out in terror to remove him; now, in the
drinking-shop, and now in the tobacconist's, where he goes to buy
tobacco, and makes his way into the parlour, and where he gets a
cigar, which in half-a-minute he forgets to smoke; now dancing, now
dozing, now cursing, and now complimenting My Lord, the Colonel,
the Noble Captain, and Your Honourable Worship, the Gong-donkey
kicks up his heels, occasionally braying, until suddenly, he
beholds the dearest friend he has in the world coming down the
street.

The dearest friend the Gong-donkey has in the world, is a sort of
Jackall, in a dull, mangy, black hide, of such small pieces that it
looks as if it were made of blacking bottles turned inside out and
cobbled together. The dearest friend in the world (inconceivably
drunk too) advances at the Gong-donkey, with a hand on each thigh,
in a series of humorous springs and stops, wagging his head as he
comes. The Gong-donkey regarding him with attention and with the
warmest affection, suddenly perceives that he is the greatest enemy
he has in the world, and hits him hard in the countenance. The
astonished Jackall closes with the Donkey, and they roll over and
over in the mud, pummelling one another. A Police Inspector,
supernaturally endowed with patience, who has long been looking on
from the Guildhall-steps, says, to a myrmidon, 'Lock 'em up! Bring
'em in!'

Appropriate finish to the Grand Race-Week. The Gong-donkey,
captive and last trace of it, conveyed into limbo, where they
cannot do better than keep him until next Race-Week. The Jackall
is wanted too, and is much looked for, over the way and up and
down. But, having had the good fortune to be undermost at the time
of the capture, he has vanished into air.

On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Goodchild walks out and looks at the
Course. It is quite deserted; heaps of broken crockery and bottles
are raised to its memory; and correct cards and other fragments of
paper are blowing about it, as the regulation little paper-books,
carried by the French soldiers in their breasts, were seen, soon
after the battle was fought, blowing idly about the plains of
Waterloo.

Where will these present idle leaves be blown by the idle winds,
and where will the last of them be one day lost and forgotten? An
idle question, and an idle thought.; and with it Mr. Idle fitly
makes his bow, and Mr. Goodchild his, and thus ends the Lazy Tour
of Two Idle Apprentices.

Charles Dickens

Sorry, no summary available yet.