The Portrait Gallery
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
"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
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!
"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.