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"Mine own romantic town."-Scott.

Tuesday, June 16th. "Mr. Hobbleday wishes to see you, Sir. Bill of fare, Sir. What would you choose to have for dinner, Sir?"

"It is probable, Mr. Scorewell," replied I," I shall not dine at home. You may remember Mr. Hobbleday invited me to dine with him today."

"Yes, Sir, with an if, Sir. That's why I ask you what you would please to order, Sir. Mr. Hobbleday, as I said last night, Sir, is a nice gentleman, but the greatest humbug in Little-Pedlington. And then, Sir, if I might make free to tell you, Sir, don't say anything to him you would wish to keep secret, Sir."

"I never do, landlord, to anybody," said I.

"What I mean is this, Sir: he is very intimate with Mr. Simcox Rummins, Junior, Sir, the editor of our newspaper, Sir; and people suspect that whatever he hears he- -But here he is, Sir."

Mr. Hobbleday entered the room-stopped short in the middle-thrust his hands into his pockets-looked at the clock-then at me-smiled with an air of self-satisfaction-again looked at the clock, when then (to borrow a Miltonic form of phrase), "when then thus Hobbleday :"—

"Do you see that? Told you I would be here at twelve, and twelve it is to a minute. That's what I call punctuality. Pride myself on being punctual. To be sure it is no great merit in me to be so-nothing else to do-no business, no occupation-gentleman at large, as I may say-a hundred-and-ten pounds a-year, independent. And yet it is something to be proud of, nevertheless, eh? But I'm afraid I interrupt you-you were reading the paper. Now, no ceremony with me—if I do interrupt you, say so. Never bore anybody, if I know it-hate to be bored myself. But some people have no tact. Ahem! No man is better acquainted with his own faults than I am with mine-sorry to say have many; but this I may safely say for myself, whatever else I may be, I am anything but a bore. But all owing to tact, eh? Can't endure a bore; and now, if I do interrupt you


Assured him he did not-reminded him that I was prepared for his visit, and requested he would take a seat. Seated himself opposite to me-placed his straw hat upon the table-unbuttoned his nankeen jacket, and deliberately took off his gloves. Seemed-like rain, when one least desires it-regularly set in for the day.

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Sure, now, you have finished reading your newspaper? Resemble me in one respect, I dare say. Reading a newspaper is all very well, but prefer conversation, eh? Well, then, won't apologise for the interruption. Nothing equal to pleasant conversation; for my part, I may

* Continued from Vol. XLV., page 77.

almost say I live upon it! Ahem! Breakfast not removed-you breakfast late, eh? Now I breakfast at eight in summer, at nine in winter; and, what is very remarkable, have done so as long as I can remember. Now I'll tell you what my breakfast consists of."

Obligingly communicated to me the fact, that he took three slices of thick bread-and-butter, one egg, and two cups of tea; adding to the interest of the information, by a minute detail' of the price he paid for the several commodities, the quantities of tea and sugar he used, the time he allowed his egg to boil, and his tea to draw; and also, by a particular description of the form and size of his teapot. Though early in the day, experienced a sensation of drowsiness, for which (having slept well at night) I could not account.

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"Dear me!" exclaimed Hobbleday, as the clock struck; one o'clock, I declare! How time flies when one is engaged in pleasant conversation! But perhaps I'm boring you, eh? If I am, say so. Ahem! By-the-bye-a sad disappointment-never so put out by anything in my life. Had made up my mind to one of the pleasantest afternoons imaginable. But Jubb can't come-engaged to dine with Rummins. No matter-we must arrange for some other day. I won't let you off; so, let me see-or, no— -fix your own day-now, come; fix a day you must. But don't say to-morrow-to-morrow is Hoppy's day for his public breakfast at the skittle-ground; and on Thursday I'm engaged at a rout at Mrs. Applegarth's, who shows off her new drawing-room curtains-sad ostentation!"

"Well, then," said I, " on Friday, if you please.”

"That's Rummins's day for showing his museum; and on Saturday I tea with Miss Shrubsole. Can't say, though, that her parties are at all in my way." Here he shook his arm, and, with a grave look, continued. "You understand;-tremendous play! Like a quiet, oldfashioned rubber very well;-have no objection even to a round game, in moderation; but when it comes to three-penny shorts, and when, at loo, the lady of the house is so fortunate as to turn up pam almost every time she deals-ahem! But, to the point. Sunday, of course, is out of the question ;-and-a

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"And on Monday, at the latest, I must return to town."

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'No, no, I can't consent to that: I must not be deprived of the pleasure of introducing you to my eminent friends. Do you positively leave us on Monday?"

"Positively; business of importance which will require my pre


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"No-won't listen to such a thing; for on Tuesday I shall consider you as engaged to dine with me;-a week's notice to my eminent friends will secure their company."

"Your politeness and hospitality," said I, "deserve a suitable return on my part. Since you are so pressing in your invitation, it would be ungracious in me to refuse it; so I will write to town by this night's post, and, even at the risk of some inconvenience, will remain here till

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"Ahem!-aha!-Never so flattered by anything in all my life; but, no-won't listen to it-wouldn't put you to inconvenience for all the world;-say no more about it; never mind my disappointment; we shall see you in Little-Pedlington again. Sadly disappointed, indeed

but don't you let that interfere with your arrangements. Come, will you

take a turn ?"

Scorewell, who had just before come into the room, and heard the concluding part of the conversation, again presented his bill of fare, with-" Bill of fare, Sir. Now what would you choose to have for dinner, Sir?" Puzzled to guess what he intended by his emphasis upon the " now;" neither could I understand what he meant by the odd twinkle of the eye with which he accompanied his question.

Whilst I was doubting over Scorewell's bill of fare, Hobbleday amused himself by breathing upon one of the window-panes, and making marks thereon with his fore-finger.

"Draw ?" said he, in an inquiring tone. Told him I did.

"Pretty accomplishment. I've a taste that way myself. Play the flute ?"

Told him I did not,

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Pity: you'd find it a great comfort. Besides-gets one into the best society at least I find it so in Little-Pedlington. For instance, now, there's Yawkins, the eminent banker-hates me, yet invites me to all his music-parties. You'd think that odd, perhaps not in the least. Why? Because he can't do without me. His daughter is a very fine performer on the piano-forte, I admit-first-rate-no more taste, though, than a bag-piper; yet, what would be the Battle of Prague,' or the overture to Lodoiska,' without little Jack Hobbleday's flute-accompaniment? Ahem! malicious little creature that daughter of his. Never stops for you when she finds you sticking at a difficult passage, but rattles on, and finishes five minutes before you, merely to show her own skill. I had my revenge, though, the other evening. Caught her at fault-ha! ha! ha!-my turn now, thought I; so on I went; and hang me if I didn't come to my last tootle-tootletoo, while she had still nearly a whole page to play. Tit for tat, eh ?" "But what cause can Mr. Yawkins have for hating you, as you say, Mr. Hobbleday?"

"I did him a service, my dear Sir; and, with some people, that is cause sufficient. You must know that-ahem! You don't want

Scorewell, eh? Scorewell, you may leave the room. That is the most impertinent, prying rascal in all Little-Pedlington. He pretends to be busied in dusting the wine-glasses and decanters on the side-board, when, in fact, he is listening to your conversation. Whatever he hears he reports to our newspaper; and for that he receives his paper gratis. Between ourselves, he is not the only one in this place I could mention who does the same thing."

"Are these rivals in the same trade?" thought I, or which of them is it that belies the other? Oh! Little-Pedlington! Ah! Little-Pedlington! if these be thy doings-Yet, no; Scorewell shall, upon Hobbleday's testimony, be written down a publican of moderate honesty ;-Hobbleday, upon the word of Scorewell, shall stand recorded what eye, methought, had never seen, what tongue had never named, in this all-perfect place-a humbug; but that either of them, or that any other Little-Pedlingtonian, should be suspected of——No, no, no; they are labouring under some strange delusion, and know not what they say. This, for mine own happiness, I must and will believe."

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Hobbleday resumed:-"But respecting Yawkins. You remember the panic a few years ago, which, as Jubb describes it, Like roaring torrent overwhelmed the Banks! Up at six in the morning, my custom (as Shakspeare aptly says) my custom always in the afternoon.' I was the first in Little Pedlington to hear of the great crash. Saw a traveller just arrived from London-long before the post came intold me of this bank going in consequence of a run upon it, and of that bank going in consequence of a run upon it. Thought of my friends Yawkins, Snargate, and Co. No fear, though, for such a firm as that, -sound as a roach, at bottom. Yet prevention is better than cure, thought I; for if the Little-Pedlington bank should go, the credit of the world's at an end. Well, Sir, what does little Jack Hobbleday do? I'll tell you what he does, He runs to his friend Shrubsole, and knocks him up two hours earlier than his usual time. Shrubsole,' says I, 'don't be alarmed; there's a tremendous run upon the banks all over England; the consequence is they are smashing like glass. I know you have cash at Yawkins's, but be calm, and don't press upon them, and your money will be safe. But should there be a run upon them to-day they must be ruined. You know my friendship for old Yawkins in particular; follow my advice, and I shall take it as a personal favour,' From him I run to my friend Chickney,-knock him up. Chickney,' says I, don't be alarmed; there's a tremendous,' &c, &c. &c. Well, Sir, from him I run to my friend Stintum; knock him up, 'Stintum,' says I," &c. &c. &c.

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Two o'clock.-Hobbleday had already mentioned the names of nineteen persons to whom he had run, and repeated to me the same speech in precisely the same words as he had delivered it to each of them; always commencing with "Well, Sir, from him I run," &c.

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Greatly admire this method of telling a story, as I do my friend Major Boreall's manner of narrating; who, for instance, is a longer time in telling you of his ordering a dinner than it would take you to eat it. As thus:-" First of all I say to Kaye, 'Kaye,' says I, 'you will will be very particular in letting us have a tureen of very nice springsoup at one end of the table;' then I say to Kaye, Kaye,' says I, 'you will be very particular in letting us have a tureen of very nice soupe-à-la reine at the other;' then I say to Kaye, Kaye,' &c," and so on, through the whole service, even to a biscuit with the dessert. The great advantage of this system is, that a vast deal of time is consumed by it; and they will not be disposed to object to it whom experience has taught that human life is considerably too long for any useful purpose, and who have found that, but for expedients of this kind for "beguiling the time," many hours would have been left at their own disposal for which they must have sought employment. Long live the Borealls and the Hobbledays of the world for relieving us of this care!

Continued his story, in precisely the same form, through thirteen names more, and then proceeded :


Well, Sir, having taken all this trouble to prevent a run upon the house of this ungrateful man, it was near eight o'clock; so home I go and get a mouthful of breakfast. Look at my banker's book-find I have eleven-pound-two in their hands. Eleven-pound-two as I hope to be saved! Bank opens at nine, thinks I; post won't be in till ten ;probably the firm will know nothing of what is going on in London till

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then.30 Eleven-pound-two a great deal to me, though not much to a house like the Yawkins's-I'll go down quietly, as if I knew nothing, and draw my balance, that can't hurt them. Go get there at a quarter before nine what do I see? I'll tell you what I see. I see Shrubsole, I see Chickney, I see Stintum, I see [here he recapitulated the whole of the two-and-thirty names he had already mentioned, ending with] and I see Sniggerston; all, with consternation painted on their faces, crowding about the door. Notwithstanding my request that they would not press upon my friend Yawkins, there they all were and before me, too! What was the consequence? I'll tell you. The consequence was, the first ten or a dozen that contrived to squeeze in were paid; but that could not last, you know; human nature couldn't stand it: so after paying nearly two hundred pounds-stop! a regular stoppage, Sir. I was at the tail of the crowd; and when I saw the green door closed you might have knocked me down with a feather. However, at the end of two years, although the outstanding claims amounted to nearly a thousand pounds, a dividend was paid of four shillings in the pound: and now, Snargate drives his gig again, old Yawkins rides his cob, and, to the honour of our town be it said, the Little-Pedlington bank is as firm and sound as any in Europe. Never kept cash there since, though; no more bankers for me-eleven-pound-two-the sight of that green door-no, no-one such fright in a man's life is enough. Ahem!" Here he paused.

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But," said I," you have not told me the point of the story-the cause of Mr. Yawkins's hatred of you, which led you to favour me with these interesting details."

"Dear me no more I have-forgot the point. You must know, then, that he has always declared-mark the black ingratitude!-that if I had not gone running all over Little-Pedlington, frightening his customers by telling them not to be alarmed, and thus causing them to take him by surprise, he needn't have stopped payment-till he thought best."

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Here was another pause. Clock struck three.

"Three o'clock, as sure as I'm born!" exclaimed my entertaining acquaintance. "Now who'd have thought that? But, as I said before, time does fly when one is engaged in pleasant conversation. Have not enjoyed so agreeable a morning for a long while. Afraid I've kept you at home, though;-lost ali your morning-eh ?-Ha! there goes Shrubsole. Ahem!-the greatest bore in Little-Pedlington. He'll sit with you for three hours, and not say a word. A man of no conversation.— But you are thinking about something-eh ?"

Hobbleday right. Thinking about Sir Gabriel Gabble, a chattering bore, and Major Mum, a silent bore. One will sit with you tête-à-tête through a long winter's evening, as mute as if he had but just issued from the cave of Trophonius, and (as Jack Bannister said of Dignum) thinks he's thinking; the other will chatter your very head off-his matter compounded of dull trivialities, commonplace remarks, and the most venerable of old-woman's gossip-and calls it conversation.Query 1. Which of the two is the least to be endured? Query 2. Were you to be indicted for that you did accidentally toss them both (or any of the like) out at window, whereby did ensue "a consummation de

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