The Portrait Gallery by Unknown

Dr. Cleaver, whose portrait we next reviewed, displayed a physiognomy widely different from that of Dr. Dulcet. It did not exhibit any of the milk of human kindness; or, if ever such a benign fluid had circulated in his veins, it had been curded by the rennet of early disappointment in every young hope. The features were stern and inflexible,—cast-iron, moulded by philosophy; a Cynic smile portrayed contempt of the world, or rather of society, such as it then was, is, and most probably ever will be. Yet his rubicond cheeks and vinous nose proclaimed that he was fond of the good things of this perishable globe; and few men, when he had acquired wealth, enjoyed life and its luxuries with greater zest than he did. His maxim was founded on what he would call the whole duty of man; which was, to keep what we get, and to get all we can.

Edward Cleaver was born in that class of human beings denominated paupers. He was ushered into life a burthen on the parish in which he had been found, at the door of a butcher of the name of Cleaver, (whose patronymic was generously bestowed on him,) in a condition as natural as his birth. Cleaver was a man of a serious way of thinking; and, fearing that the adoption of an orphan infant might asperse his sanctimonious character, and thereby injure his trade, very properly sent the child to the parish officers. These worthies would willingly have made him paternise the thing; but he had evidence of its having been found abandoned in the street.

Whether a burthen be carried by a body corporate or an individual, it is nevertheless an obnoxious incumbrance, of which the bearer is anxious to rid himself as soon as he possibly can; and therefore, maugre the puling and mawkish cant of some would-be philanthropic scribblers, a parish has just the same right to grumble at a burthen, and cast it off as feasibly as may be, as a hod-bearer to relieve himself of his load, a donkey of his panniers, or a nursery-maid of a squalling and ponderous brat. Therefore, overseers are perfectly justifiable in having recourse to all the industrious methods that sound political economy can suggest to shake off the taxation imposed upon their parishioners by improvidence and vice. However, all their ingenuity could not prevent the growth of Ned Cleaver, who attained the age of seven, illustrating the fact, that vital air can support the functions of life with the aid of but little sustenance: and the imp was so hale and hearty, that they thought him "ragged and tough" enough for anything, and sent him to sea.

To relate his mishaps as a cabin-boy on board a collier would fill a volume; suffice it to say, the lad was naturally stubborn, and would not be persuaded that he was created to work without sufficient food, and get thrashed in lieu of wages; and finding, to use the old joke, that, although he was bred to the sea, the sea was not bread to him, he decamped at Plymouth, and joined a company of strolling tumblers, hurdy-gurdy players, and mountebanks, that were travelling about the country.

Ned had now attained is sixteenth year, and had perfected himself;  in forecastle and caboose, in various accomplishments; he could sing a slang-song, chop his jaws in various modulations, was a very Moscheles on the salt-box, danced a hornpipe, mimicked all sorts of infirmities, and could make the most horrible faces, that would so disfigure him that no one could recognise his natural features, which were uncommonly handsome; so much so indeed, that he became a great favourite of the ladies of the company: but, although he ruled the roost with the fair sex, he was scurvily basted upon every trivial occasion by the gentlemen performers, and was therefore not much better off on land, than when at sea he was flogged up aloft to reef, or flogged down to the salutary exercise of the holy stone, which would teach the most impious chap to pray. Cleaver, therefore, betook himself to his lower extremities in the neighbourhood of London; and, once more a filius populi, threw himself in the tide of our population in search of work and food. For several days he strayed about this wealthy metropolis, and was well-nigh proving the veracity of those sapient legislators, who maintain that such vagabonds have no business to live,—which is indeed a truism. Happily for our young vagrant, he one night fell in with a drunken old man who was endeavouring to chalk upon the walls, in gigantic letters, the name of a celebrated physician. It immediately occurred to Master Ned that, if he could afford assistance to the staggering artist, he, in return, might afford him some relief. It was a providential inspiration. Ned helped his new-made acquaintance to what he politely termed his boozing ken, where he was feasted with a blow-out of what his patron called grub and bub (Anglicè, victuals and drink); and, after enjoying a delicious night's rest in an Irish dry lodging upon wet straw, he was admitted as an assistant in the chalking line, at sixpence per diem. His master, who when sober could not read, would oftentimes make sad mistakes when he was, in every sense of the denomination, a "knight of the brush and moon,"—which, in the language of the holy land, meaneth "in the wind,"—and our apprentice soon became an indispensable assistant, since his master could earn six shillings a day, and get as drunk as a lord, by paying him sixpence out of his salary. Now, although our youth was not ungrateful, yet he was ambitious, and he could not see the reason why such a disproportion in the wages of labour should exist; he one morning took it into his head to work on his own bottom, and therefore presented himself to his chief employer, a Dr. Doall, with the abominable intention of basely undermining his benefactor at half-price.

Doall was much pleased with his appearance and his candour, but still more with his proposal; and Ned was forthwith taken into his service. His occupation merely consisted in cleaning the whole house, answering the door, running errands, helping to cook the dinner, serving at table, pounding medicines, washing dishes, scouring knives and forks, and blacking shoes, mooning about the streets at night chalking his master's name, and during his leisure moments he was advised to study physic, and wash out phials and gallipots; for which services he was put upon board wages, at the rate of ninepence per diem. All these duties he fulfilled most cheerfully, for he had an incentive to his labours. Next to good living—when  he could get it—Cleaver was a warm admirer of the fair sex, even when hungry; and, when beauty drank to him with her eyes, he would have pledged her in small-beer as rapturously as in half-and-half. Doall had a daughter, an only child; she was remarkable for her beauty, and no less recommendable by her accomplishments. She was ever engaged in reading novels and plays, could strum upon the guitar, and all day long, was either singing or spouting: our apprentice looked upon her as the paragon all loveliness. If he admired her, he soon perceived that his youth, his innocence, and perhaps his good figure, had produced a favourable impression upon the maiden. A conversation with her father confirmed the surmises of vanity, when he overheard her sweet voice admitting that he was a monstrous nice young fellow, and impressing upon her father the propriety of giving him decent clothes, and making him look like a gentleman.

This conversation had the "desired effect." Ned was sent to suit himself in Monmouth-street, cooky allowed him to dip his crust in the dripping-pan on roasting-days; and, although on board wages, Emmelina, the doctor's lovely daughter, permitted him a fair run of his teeth when her father was out. As the cook was often junketing with her lover, the sexton of the parish, she did not grudge him these little advantages.

One morning, just as he had come home from chalking, the doctor called him, and bidding him be seated, (a most unexpected honour, which nearly drove the lad out of his senses,) he informed him that he was highly satisfied with his conduct, would henceforth allow him four pounds a year wages, and pay him by the job for other services, which were to commence by his doing fits; so saying, he gave him a treatise on epilepsy, and bidding him study the symptoms, he left him, slipping half-a-crown into his hand.

The enchanted Cleaver was not long in understanding the doctor's intentions, and sedulously applied himself to acquire the means of qualifying himself for his novel occupation; although he was rather staggered when he read the following: "The patient falls down without any previous notice, his eyes are so distorted that only the whites of them are to be seen, his fists are clenched, he foams at the mouth, thrusts out his tongue, and his body and limbs are agitated and convulsed. After a continuance of this terrific state, the symptoms gradually abate; but the patient continues looking wildly and vacantly around him, perfectly unconscious of what has passed." Cleaver immediately proceeded to make the most awful faces in his looking-glass, till he actually frightened himself into the belief that a real fit was coming on. Delighted with his attempt, no sooner had Doall returned, than Cleaver fell down in the hall, in all the fearful distortions of an epileptic.

"Bravo!—bravo!" exclaimed the doctor;—"admirable!—excellent!"

"Delicious!—wonderful!—he's a very artist. Oh, what a tragedian he would make!" exclaimed the daughter; "how charmingly he would die!

'Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold,— Thou hast no speculation in those eyes!'"

"I'll be d—d if he hasn't, though!" replied Doall; "and if this  chap does not make his way in the world, I'll swallow a peck of my own anti-omnibus pills. Now mutter away, my boy—more foam—more foam—that's it!—now for a kick—that's your sort!—clench your fist—capital! capital! Now, my fine fellow, get up, and I'll renovate you with some of my cardiac anti-nervous balm;" and, so saying, he took out of his closet a small bottle which contained the aforesaid liquor, which was neither more nor less than a dram for ladies, who dared not indulge in more vulgar potations, and which I afterwards found was composed of cherry-bounce, Curaçoa, Cayenne pepper, ginger, and some other drug of a most stimulating nature, which once recommended a certain holy man to a certain great personage;—a fact which may be now noticed, since both parties are in the Elysian Fields.

It was now settled that the following day at four o'clock, Cleaver was to fall down in a fit in Albemarle-street, at the door of a fashionable family-hotel, the doctor driving past at the very time. In a moment he had collected a crowd around him. One exclaimed, "The fellow's drunk!"—another bystander maintained it was apoplexy; a second, epilepsy; and an old woman assured the group that it was catalepsy. The lad's face was sprinkled with kennel water, hartshorn charitably applied to his nostrils, and a stick humanely crammed between his teeth for fear he should bite his tongue. On a sudden, and to his infinite satisfaction, Doall jumped out of his job-fly, and, after looking at the patient for a moment, observed that it was an attack of idiopathic epilepsy, arising from a determination of the sanguineous system to the encephalon. This learned illustration proclaimed the man of science, and every one made way for him with becoming respect. Our esculapius then took out a small phial from his pocket, and, pouring two or three drops into Ned's foaming mouth, he added, "These drops are infallible in recovering people from all sorts of sympathetic, symptomatic, and idiopathic attacks;" when Cleaver immediately opened his eyes, looked around him with a vacant stare, to the great amazement of every one present, and in a stuttering voice asked where he was. The doctor generously told him where he lived in a loud and audible manner, gave him half-a-crown, and was about ascending his pill-box, after bidding him call upon him in a day or two, when a servant in a splendid livery stepped forward from the hotel, and informed him that Lady Coverley wished to see him. He was immediately ushered into the presence of a superannuated countess, just arrived from the country.

"My dear sir!" she exclaimed, "I am positively the most fortunate woman in the world, to have thus accidentally met with such a prodigy. I witnessed your wonderful cure upon that poor creature, and I must absolutely get you to see my daughter Virgy. All the physicians in town have attended her, and I do declare I think they have done her more harm than good. When Lord Coverley arrives with Lady Virginia, Virgy shall see you immediately; I declare she must."

Doall bowed obsequiously, tendered his address, and, slipping half-a-guinea into the footman's hand, drove off, not without having heard the servant proclaim to all around, "that he was the cleverest man in Lunnun, and beat out all other doctors by chalks;" the fellow being little aware at the time that his vulgar expression was so applicable.

The doctor was fortunate. Lady Virginia, a nervous, romantic fidget, had been reduced by bleeding, starving, and other expedients, to linger long; and in a short time Doall, having discovered that she was in love, recommended marriage, with repeated doses of his "cardiac anti-nervous balm;" his prescription effected a perfect cure.

Cleaver was now in great favour, and every day proved to him that the doctor's daughter's partiality was assuming a more affectionate character. One morning he was pounding some combustible drugs in a mortar, when Emmelina familiarly entered into conversation with him. After having asked him various questions about his parentage,—when she heard that he was an orphan, she expressed great sympathy. She then reverted to her favourite topic, the drama; and asked him if he often went to the play.

"Only once, miss," he replied.

"And what was the performance?"

"Romeo and Juliet."

"Delightful piece! How did you like the garden scene, Edward?

'See how she leans her cheek upon that hand! O that I were a glove upon that hand, That I might touch that cheek!'

And tell me, Edward," she continued with great emotion, "did you not weep?"

"Oh, bitterly!" he sighed; "bitterly!"

"I'm sure you did. When he takes the deadly draught, and says,

'Here's to my love! Oh, true apothecary, Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.'"

Unfortunately the enraptured girl suited her action to the words, and imitating Romeo casting from him the fatal phial, she seized a bottle of some diabolical ingredient, and threw it into the mortar. A tremendous detonation followed, blowing up the stuff Cleaver was pounding, singeing all his hair and burning his face.

Emmelina's terror at this accident was as great as the pain it had inflicted; and Cleaver was bellowing, and stamping, and kicking, when fortunately Doall came in. The poor sufferer expected some immediate relief from his skill, but was amazed to see him draw back with looks of admiration, and exclaim, "Beautiful, by Jupiter!—beautiful!—Oh, what a thought!—what a grand idea!—beautiful!"

Emmelina entreated him to dress Ned's scalds, which he set about doing with hesitation, ever and anon stepping back to gaze upon him with delight; and, having applied some ointment to his face, he thus proceeded:

"Edward, my boy, I love you, I admire you; your fits have worked wonders, and I have now to put your skill to another trial. The accident that has just blown you up, has admirably suited you for my purpose. I shall—what do I say?—we shall make a fortune. I must send you on an important mission: you must know that the very ingredients you were pulverising were for the preparation of a remedy of my invention, which infallibly cures carbuncly noses; when I say cures, I mean white-washing them, that they may break out again as extravagantly as they chuse in other hands. Now, the eldest son of  Lord Doodly has a nose—that I must have hold of: oh, such a nose! like—like——"

"A will-o'-the-wisp," exclaimed his daughter.

"A most appropriate simile," rejoined the doctor. "Well, Edward, see here; his conk is nothing to the one you shall wear:" and, so saying, he drew forth from a drawer a most horrible snout of wax, ingeniously fixed upon leather; and, applying it to the youth's face, he was actually struck with horror when he beheld himself in the glass. Emmelina shrieked, and her father roared out in raptures, "Admirable! the scalds on your face will add to the beauty of your countenance."

It was arranged that, on the following day Cleaver was to start by the stage for Southampton, where Lord Doodly and his son resided. He was there to sport his awful nose in churches, theatres, public walks, until the whole town should call him "the wretch with the horrible nose!" According to agreement, after a tender farewell scene with Emmelina, he proceeded on his journey; but as he was stepping into the coach at the Golden Cross, a lady with a child upon her lap shrieked out most vehemently, exclaiming, "Coach! guard! coach! let me out—let me out! I will not travel if that there gentleman comes in, with his nose."

"What! ma'am," replied the coachman: "would you have the gemman travel without his snorter to accommodate you?"

"Oh! I shall faint; I will faint! Oh! sir, take that nose away!"

Cleaver began to wink and blink most awfully.

"Let me out! let me out! Oh Lord! where could a man get such a nose!"

Cleaver pretended to suffer most cruelly, and clapped his handkerchief to his face in apparent agony.

"It's not a nose," exclaimed a gaunt East Indian in a corner, just awaking from a doze: "it's more like the proboscis of a rhinoceros: it is a disease which we call in Bengal an elephantiasis; and, egad! I'll get out of the coach also, for it's the most d—nable infectious disorder next to leprosy."

"Oh, Gracious!" shrieked the lady, rushing out; "my darling infant has caught it; my Tommy, my jewel, will have an elephant's nose!"

"It's a shame," exclaimed the nabob. "I'll complain to the proprietors. One might as well travel with the plague, and go to bed to the cholera morbus. Let me out, coachy! let me out this instant!"

Coachy now began to apprehend the consequences of a complaint from a person of much weight in Southampton, and politely begged of Cleaver to take an outside seat. The travellers on the top of the coach were as much terrified as the inside ones; and Cleaver was forced to sit on the box next to the driver, who sported an enormous mangel-wurzel smeller of his own, and seemed much amused with the terrors of his passengers.

Cleaver's expedition was most prosperous. He terrified gipsy parties at Netly, shocked the members of the Yacht Club, interrupted the sketches of tourists, and kept High-street, above and below bar, in a state of constant consternation, after having been refused admittance into half of the hotels. The very parish beadles seemed to have an eye to his nose. In short, the Strasburg burghers had  not been more terrified with the sneezer of Han Kenbergins's traveller, than were the good people of Southampton with that of their visitor. Having thus brought his snout into notoriety, he returned to town on a day when he had discovered that Lord Doodly's butler was going up. The conversation naturally fell upon noses, as the butler declared that he never in all his born days had seen such a pair of nozzles as Cleaver's and his young master's. Our adventurer then informed him that there was only one doctor upon earth who could cure such terrific diseases, and him he was going up to consult. His fellow traveller of course observed, that if he could cure his scent-box he could cure anything; and Cleaver promised him, over a tankard of ale, to let him hear from him if he was so fortunate as to get rid of his distressing disorder.

Two months after, a loud ringing announced a stranger at the gate of Doodly Hall. It was Cleaver, with his natural facial handle, asking for the butler. Overjoyed at a discovery so acceptable to his master, who, in return for his services, might be disposed to overlook his spoliations with more indulgence, Cleaver was introduced by him to the family, who all recollected his former frightful appearance. Lord Impy, the heir of the title and estate, was forthwith sent to London to be placed under Doall's care. Again he had the good fortune to relieve him, and his fame had spread far and near, ere the nasal conflagration broke out again with redoubled virulence.

Cleaver's services were soon requited by the hand of Emmelina, and a partnership in the board. He gradually acquired a smattering of medical knowledge; and, being well aware that affable manners bring on conversation, and conversation tends to draw out ignorance, he very wisely assumed a haughty, and at times a brutal manner; making it a rule never to answer a question, and requesting his patients to hold their tongues when they presumed to trespass on their ailments. His unmannerly behaviour was called frankness, his silence erudition, and his insolence independence. He thus became one of the wealthiest quacks in London. His romantic Emmelina for some time rendered him most miserable; but, fortunately for him, she one night set fire to the house while performing "The Devil to pay" in her private theatricals, and was duly consumed with the premises. With his usual good luck, they had been insured for three times their value; and the doctor was enabled to move to a more fashionable part of the West End, with the additional puff of a fire, a burnt wife, and a disconsolate husband!

The librarian proceeded to relate the adventures of various other medical men; and we then entered an adjoining room, hung round with portraits of distinguished characters, amongst whom I was particularly anxious to learn the history of the once popular patriot, Sir Ruby Ratborough.