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Prologue. MR. SAMUEL GIPPs still lives, is in good health and spirits, and is likely to be a happier man for the time to come than he has been here. tofore ; but he no longer lives at No. 15, Street, in the Strand. I make no question but that by this time even he can venture to smile at a dramatic passage in his life, with which I cannot forego the pleasure of acquainting the reader. Like Shakspeare, he was the sole author of a comedy; and, like the immortalbard, played but an inconsiderable part in it. But it may be as well if I furnish a short preparatory notice of Mr. Gipps.

Mr. Samuel Gipps was a bachelor, about three-and-forty years of age, and enjoying “a small competence," a phrase which means just such an amount of yearly income as justifies a gentleman in lamenting the high prices of butcher's meat, and other perishable provisions, in boggling about house rent, and in being guilty of the petty disloyalty of cursing, even to his ominous and unanswerable face, the quarterly visit of the col. lector of Queen's taxes.

Like other young men upon town, Gipps in his time had been fain to content himself with lodgings,-a first floor furnished with conveniences, a street-door key, and a tinder-box and greasy candlestick duly placed on the balustrade side of the first stair. He had, accordingly, passed through the ordeal of unconfessed dancing-masters on the second “flight,” of unmentioned music-teachers in the parlours, of amateur songsters at free-and-easys and glee-clubs in the adjoining chamber, and of sleep-walkers from the garrets, who never find their way to their own room, and always discover a penchant for the first-floor lodgers.

Weary of this mode of self-stowage, and its vexatious contingencies, Gipps had subsequently suffered himself to be taken into permanent bait at sundry boarding houses, which, the gloss of novelty once faded, conformed even less kindly with his inclinations, than his former more independent arrangement. He complained that the inmates, native and foreign, to be found in these establishments,—the men in particular-were the most inexplicably mysterious rational beings that ever sat down in common to one table-cloth. During the day they went hither and thither, but whither it was futile to conjecture : came punctually to their meals, and at night were perversely prone to penny-point whist

, and whiskey and water. He could not help fancying, also, that whenever a friend of either of these gentlemen, or of his own, chanced to call, the visiter seemed to look upon the company as a junto of harmless maniacs humanely leagued together for the purpose of enriching a certain eager-faced person, in brown holland cuffs and spectacles, whom they were pleased to call the landlady.

The female branches were, in Gipps' opinion, rather wintry-visaged samples of the fair sex, chiefly remarkable for sandy hair, large reticules, and one tooth out in front. In short, Gipps, in

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due time became thoroughly indifferent to the agreeable amenities to be exchanged at boarding houses, - tired of inscrutable soup,-of fish that had long left a seafaring life, and Atlantean shoulders of mutton. He had given boarding houses a fair chance, and he said (for he was a gentleman of a mild manner, and choice of speech,) they were no good.'

“I have tried as many as most men,' said he to his friend Simpson, one day, and I ought to know. Some one“ within three minutes' walk of the Royal Exchange.” Bless you, sir, Captain Barclay, in training, couldn't have accomplished the distance in ten. And as for those that “command a delightful view of the park,” all I can say is, their commands are never obeyed. The outline of a tree or two might be seen perhapswith Herschel's telescope.'

Why don't you take a house of your own ? returned Simpson, 'vote for a member, attend vestries, and get on the Paving Board ? Be respectable—now, do be respectable. You are a middle-aged man--act as such. Sit under the shadow of your own fig-tree.'

Therefore Gipps took No. 15, Strand, had the fixtures at a valu. ation, made repairs, hung fresh bells, planted a new scraper, and placed his name in brass on the door. Handsome furniture, books, pictures, bronzes, shells, lamps—all complete. The place was a nucleus of comfort and respectability.

All would not do. There was a vacuum, as he said, a desideratum to be supplied. The house was too much for him. I do not mean in the common acceptation of those words,—that is to say, that the house was too large, or had too many rooms in it (although less, to say the truth, might have sufficed); but he could not keep the concern in order ; he couldn't manage it. Gipps had not taken a house—the house had got him ; he had caught a tartar.

Now he knew very well, for he had heard his mother say so, that servants required'-(his mother had said wanted, but this is anything but the truth)—that servants required looking after ; but how was he all the livelong day to be tracking the footsteps of old Betty ? In the first instance, he had thought Betty was pretty well, considering ; but when, as the phrase goes, she showed herself in her true colours, they were rather startling than splendid. She had apparently no conception of the course of time, as commonly indicated by clockwork, and brought up breakfast and served dinner at discretion. In a short time he began to fear that her morals were not in a high state of preservation. She wanted to make him believe that he ate four halfquarterns a-week. Ridiculous! He was by no means partial to bread. She pleaded that the rats made away with the candles, when,“ how the deuce, thought Gipps, “a rat or any animal of that genus can run up a kitchen door, and abstract moulds and long sixes out of the round lackered box at the back of it, is more than I can possibly conceive. It was true that about two months since, a man with a head like a hedgehog, and a face like a dolphin, did come to repair the cistern ; but why he should therefore have since come twice a-week to take supper with Betty off his quarters of lamb, he could not satisfactorily divine.

Nat Salter, an uncouth urchin of some dozen years, who cleaned his boots, and knives and forks, and carried, and miscarried, as the case might happen, his letters and messages, was no better to his liking. Of him, too, he had formed, at first, a favourable opinion,

and had mentally measured him for pepper-and-salt trowsers with red cord down the seams, and a brown coat with a yellow collar and a gross of sugar-loaf buttons.

But the young rogue was always playing on the door-step with begrimed juveniles of his own age and physical calibre : and when he went forth, would start up incontinently, whip off his shapeless headgear, and shout, 'D'ye want me, Mr. Gipps?? Once he had actually, with his own ears,' heard him observe to a companion, That's my old master, Gipps—just twig him. Isn't he a article! I believe you, he just is.' Old master !a article ! Insufferable young rascal !

No, no,' thought Gipps at last, this won't do. I must get a housekeeper. Nothing is to be done without a housekeeper.'

CHAPTER II.

woman

The Advertisement. But how to get a housekeeper? Gipps had no more notion of the process by which so desirable an acquisition was to be procured, than he had of the method of calculating by fluxions. He resolved toʻseek advice upon this head; and who is so capable of giving, and happy to extend his advice, as his old friend Mr. Jackson, a gentleman who had seen a vast deal of the world, and under whose ken housekeepers, without doubt, must frequently have come? He sought Mr. Jackson out accordingly, and made known his wants and wishes-his doubts and his difficulties.

Very well,' said Mr. Jackson, a gentleman, by the by, whose narrow width of wisdom was eked out by a vast selvage of important gravity, ‘you want a housekeeper. Well, sir, you want a respectable

a highly respectable woman—what I should call a comfortable body.

A comfortable body, certainly,' said Gipps ; 'a comfortable body.

* Very good, sir,' cried Jackson. Well, sir, and have you made application to your butcher ??

*My butcher!' exclaimed Gipps. What in the name of Newgate Market,' thought he, can my butcher,” who cuts up beeves and sells them in detail, have to do with housekeepers in their integrity?'

Your butcher,' resumed Mr. Jackson ; ‘have you, I repeat, applied to your butcher,-to your baker-pshaw! absurd! I was about to say to your candlestick-maker ? Let me correct myself. Have you applied to your butcher, to your baker, to your grocer, to your green

What ! surveying Gipps with surprise, are you not aware that gentlemen, when they want servants, refer themselves to these purveyors, as, in like manner, when servants want places, they also refer to them ?'

'I really was not aware, I am ashamed to say,' replied Gipps.

“Then I beg your pardon, sir,' remarked Mr. Jackson, but you must give me leave to tell you, you know very little of the world, and a true knowledge of the world is, in these days, highly important. Permit me to ask whether you lay in your spirits from the publican ?

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portant ?'

"I do sometimes send for a bottle from the public-house,' answered Gipps, when my spirit-merchant is remiss in sending my two gallons. What then ??

• Why, then, sir, I would by no means take a housekeeper upon a publican's recommendation. Mark me--for this is deeply im

How?' continued Gipps.

Mr. Jackson laid the forefinger of his left hand to the side of his nose, and cocked up the little finger of his right. "Drinking,' said he solemnly, ‘is incompatible with a due attention to domestic duties. They who go into a public-house to inquire for a place, are usually in want of one, because they have been there before.'

Gipps did not much relish the course pointed out by Mr. Jackson. He was a reserved, shy man, and could not think of bothering butchers and bakers, or of soliciting grocers and tallow-chandlers to catch housekeepers for him. He would confer with his friend Simpson about the matter. Simpson, after all, knew a great deal more of the world than Jackson, who was of the old school. Hang him and his purveyors !

•What d'ye think, Simpson,' said he to that gentleman ; 'I find I can't do without a housekeeper, and Jackson tells me to apply to my butcher, my baker, my grocer, my green-grocer.'

Jackson's an ass!' cried Simpson imperatively; he knows nothing about it. Didn't I always say you must have a housekeeper? You must advertise for one.'

Is that the way to get one ? asked Gipps. Mark-I must have a respectable woman.

Of course you must. A middle-aged woman; for you're not too old Gipps, eh? Scandalum magnatum, eh? d’ye see ? I should say, she must be a widow.'

"A widow,' coincided Gipps, his face mantling with satisfaction.

“Yes, a widow,' pursued Simpson; advertise, and you're sure to succeed. Everything is got now-a-days by advertisement, from a wife to a walking-stick. Why, my friend, I'd engage to advertise for a mermaid, and to get one within four-and-twenty hours, comb and looking-glass included. D’ye remember Frankenstein—the piece we saw together some years since ? Cooke was the fellow with a long scratch in the bills instead of a name; and he looked like old Scratch !

'I do,' said Gipps. “Ha! ha! that was one way of making an acquaintance. But do be serious, my dear Simpson. I must advertise, you say ?'

I tell you, yes. Why, Gipps, I'd make an infinitely superior fellow to Frankenstein's comparative failure out of materials indi. cated in the newspapers. I'd fit together a framework of a goodlooking rascal in one morning, and set him going with hydrogen. A choice of pills to keep him in rude health, and Rowland's Macassar for his complexion. Advertise ?—to be sure; and the first dish of Hyson poured forth by the delicate hand of the widow shall be mine.'

Nothing better was to be done than to advertise. It was certain that hundreds did daily advertise ; and they must get what they sought, or recourse would not so constantly be had to that method of proceeding. He decided upon advertising, and was mightily

pleased that Simpson had suggested a widow. He was partial to widows. His mother had been a widow for several years before her death. He sighed. Would that the dear old lady had lived to conduct his establishment!

And then, Mrs. Revell, the sister of Mr. Metcalfe, his opposite neighbour—she also was a widow, and a charming one.

He sighed again. Advertise! 'If, said Gipps, as he walked home, 'Mrs. Revell would but consent to have me, (oh! that I dare-pop the question—I think they call it !) I'd see all the advertising at the - No, I wouldn't ; for it shouldn't be long before I'd advertise in all the papers a certain union at St. George's, Hanover Square.'

That very evening Gipps paid for the insertion of an advertisement.

He wanted a widow; and offered a comfortable home, and a very handsome stipend, to any lady of competent qualifications who might be disposed to accept them.

CHAPTER III.

The Result.

On the following day Gipps procured a copy of the newspaper, and after much difficulty succeeded in discovering his advertisement. What a close phalanx of applicants! He had never before remarked how many people there were diurnally wanting something or other. Lodgings to be let upon which the army of Cyrus might have been comfortably billeted—light porters enough to carry the Himalaya mountains, or the pyramids of Egypt-cooks sufficient to dress the edible contents of Noah's Ark!

'Lord bless me!' said he, casting the newspaper from him; 'why, no widow will ever detect that narrow slip of a thing! She must be particularly in want of a situation, and possess a remarkably good sight, if she do. Well, a few shillings are of no great consequence.

Notwithstanding this natural doubt, Gipps was careful to inquire, when he returned home in the evening, whether any lady had called during his absence; not that he had any fair reason to suppose a lady would call, seeing that his advertisement directed that application should be made between nine and ten o'clock on the morning of the morrow; but he thought that had it met the eye of some anxious female, she might have stirred in the matter ere the specified time, and so distanced any precise adherent to punctuality. Nobody had called but the washerwoman, who had brought home the things she had omitted to bring on the Saturday night, and who, as Betty informed her, had furnished him by mistake with two shirts and a nightcap marked Gibbs.

'If I had but a housekeeper,' said Gipps to himself, these sad mistakes would not occur.'

By the time he had risen and dressed himself on the following moming, he had well nigh abandoned all hope of securing his desiderata through the channel of public communication ; and he swallowed his breakfast with considerable dissatisfaction.

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