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Some Roundabout Papers William Makepeace Thackeray

De Juventute

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As for Thomas and Jeremiah (it is only my witty way of calling Tom and Jerry), I went to the British Museum the other day on purpose to get it; but somehow, if you will press the question so closely, on reperusal, Tom and Jerry is not so brilliant as I had supposed it to be. The pictures are just as fine as ever; and I shook hands with broad-backed Jerry Hawthorn and Corinthian Tom with delight, after many year's absence. But the style of the writing, I own, was not pleasing to me; I even thought it a little vulgar -- well! well! other writers have been considered vulgar -- and as a description of the sports and amusements of London in the ancient times, more curious than amusing.

But the pictures! -- oh! the pictures are noble still! First, there is Jerry arriving from the country, in a green coat and leather gaiters, and being measured for a fashionable suit at Corinthian House, by Corinthian Tom's tailor. Then away for the career of pleasure and fashion. The park! delicious excitement! The theatre! the saloon!! the green-room!!! Rapturous bliss -- the opera itself! and then perhaps to Temple Bar, to knock down a Charley there! There are Jerry and Tom, with their tights and little cocked hats, coming from the opera -- very much as gentlemen in waiting on royalty are habited now. There they are at Almack's itself, amidst a crowd of high-bred personages, with the Duke of Clarence himself looking at them dancing. Now, strange change, they are in Tom Cribb's parlour, where they don't seem to be a whit less at home than in fashion's gilded halls; and now they are at Newgate, seeing the irons knocked off the malefactors' legs previous to execution. What hardened ferocity in the countenance of the desperado in yellow breeches! What compunction in the face of the gentleman in black (who, I suppose, has been forging), and who clasps his hands, and listens to the chaplain! Now we haste away to merrier scenes: to Tattersall's (ah gracious powers! what a funny fellow that actor was who performed Dicky Green in that scene in the play!); and now we are at a private party, at which Corinthian Tom is waltzing (and very gracefully too, as you must confess) with Corinthian Kate, whilst Bob Logic, the Oxonian, is playing on the piano!

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"After," the text says, "the Oxonian had played several pieces of lively music, he requested as a favour that Kate and his friend Tom would perform a waltz. Kate without any hesitation immediately stood up. Tom offered his hand to his fascinating partner, and the dance took place. The plate conveys a correct representation of the `gay scene' at that precise moment. The anxiety of the Oxonian to witness the attitudes of the elegant pair had nearly put a stop to their movements. On turning round from the pianoforte and presenting his comical mug, Kate could scarcely suppress a laugh."

And no wonder; just look at it now (as I have copied it to the best of my humble ability), and compare Master Logic's countenance and attitude with the splendid elegance of Tom! Now every London man is weary and blase. There is an enjoyment of life in these young bucks of 1823 which contrasts strangely with our feelings of 1860. Here, for instance, is a specimen of their talk and walk, "`If,' says LOGIC -- `if enjoyment is your motto, you may make the most of an evening at Vauxhall, more than at any other place in the metropolis. It is all free and easy. Stay as long as you like, and depart when you think proper.' -- `Your description is so flattering,' replied JERRY, `that I do not care how soon the time arrives for us to start.' LOGIC proposed a `bit of a stroll' in order to get rid of an hour or two, which was immediately accepted by Tom and Jerry. A turn or two in Bond Street, a stroll through Piccadilly, a look in at TATTERSALL's, a ramble through Pall Mall, and a strut on the Corinthian path, fully occupied the time of our heroes until the hour for dinner arrived, when a few glasses of TOM's rich wines soon put them on the qui vive. VAUXHALL was then the object in view, and the TRIO started, bent upon enjoying the pleasures which this place so amply affords."

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Some Roundabout Papers
William Makepeace Thackeray

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