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Will's great crony for some time was Tom Straddle, to whom he really took a great liking. Straddle had just arrived in an importation of hardware, fresh from the city of Birmingham, or rather as the most learned English would call it Brummagen, so famous for its manufactories of gimlets, pen-knives, and pepper-boxes, and where they make buttons and beaux enough to inundate our whole country. He was a young man of considerable standing in the manufactory at Birmingham; sometimes had the honour to hand his master's daughter into a tim-whisky, was the oracle of the tavern he frequented on Sundays, and could beat all his associates, if you would take his word for it, in boxing, beer-drinking, jumping over chairs, and imitating cats in a gutter, and opera-singers. Straddle was, moreover, a member of a catch-club, and was a great hand at ringing bob-majors; he was, of course, a complete connoisseur in music, and entitled to assume that character at all performances in the art. He was likewise a member of a spoutingclub; had seen a company of strolling actors perform in a barn, and had even, like Abel Drugger, "enacted” the part of Major Sturgeon with considerable applause; he was consequently a profound critic, and fully authorized to turn up his nose at any American performances. He had twice partaken of annual dinners, given to the head manufacturers at Birmingham, where he had the good fortune to get a taste of turtle and turbot, and a smack of Champaign and Burgundy; and he had heard a vast deal of the roast beef of Old England ;-he was therefore epicure sufficient to d-n every dish and every glass of wine he tasted in America, though at the same time he was as voracious an animal as ever crossed the Atlantic. Straddle had been splashed half a dozen times by the carriages of nobility, and had once the superlative felicity of being kicked out of doors by the footman of a noble duke; he could, therefore, talk of nobility, and despise the untitled plebeians of America. In short, Straddle was one of those dapper, bustling, florid, round, selfimportant "gemmen," who bounce upon us half-beau, half-button-maker; undertake to give us the true polish
of the bon-ton and endeavour to inspire us with a proper and dignified contempt of our native country.
Straddle was quite in raptures when his employers determined to send him to America as an agent. He considered himself as going among a nation of barbarians, where he could be received as a prodigy: he anticipated, with a proud satisfaction, the bustle and confusion his arrival would occasion; the crowd that would throng to gaze at him as he passed through the streets; and had little doubt but that he should excite as much curiosity as an Indian chief or a Turk in the streets of Birmingham. He had heard of the beauty of our women, and chuckled at the thought of how completely he should eclipse their unpolished beaux, and the number of despairing lovers that would mourn the hour of his arrival. I am even informed by Will Wizard, that he put good store of beads, spike-nails, and looking-glasses in his trunk, to win the affections of the fair ones as they paddled about in their bark canoes. The reason Wili gave for this error of Straddle's respecting our ladies was, that he had read in Guthrie's Geography that the aborigines of America were all savages; and not exactly understanding the word aborigines, he applied to one of his fellow-apprentices, who assured him that it was the Latin word for inhabitants.
Wizard used to tell another anecdote of Straddle, which always put him in a passion :—Will swore that the captain of the ship told him, that when Straddle heard they were off the banks of Newfoundland, he insisted upon going on shore there to gather some good cabbages, of which he was excessively fond. Straddle, however, denied all this, and declared it to be a mischievous quiz of Will Wizard, who indeed often made himself merry at his expense. However this may be, certain it is he kept his tailor and shoemaker constantly em. ployed for a month before his departure; equipped himself with a smart crooked stick about eighteen inches long, a pair of breeches of most unheard-of length, a little short pair of Hoby's white-topt boots, that seemed to stand on tiptoe to reach his breeches, and his hat had the true transatlantic declination towards his right ear. The fact was-nor did he make any secret of it-he was determined to astonish the natives a few!
Straddle was not a little disappointed on his arrival, to find the Americans were rather more civilized than. he had imagined :-he was suffered to walk to his lodgings unmolested by a crowd, and even unnoticed by a single individual;- no love-letters came pouring in upon him;-no rivals lay in wait to assassinate him;-his very dress excited no attention, for there were many fools dressed equally ridiculous with himself. This was mortifying indeed to an aspiring youth, who had come out with the idea of astonishing and captivating. He was equally unfortunate in his pretentions to the character of critic, connoisseur and boxer; he condemned our whole dramatic corps, and every thing appertaining to the theatre; but his critical abilities were ridiculed ;-he found fault with old Cockloft's dinner, not even sparing his wine, and was never invited to the house afterwards; he scoured the streets at night and was cudgelled by a sturdy watchman;-he hoaxed an honest mechanic, and was soundly kicked. Thus disappointed in all his attempts at notoriety, Straddle hit on the expedient which was resorted to by the Giblets ;-he determined to take the town by storm. He accordingly bought horses and equipages, and forthwith made a furious dash at style in a gig and tandem.
As Straddle's finances were but limited, it may easily be supposed that his fashionable career infringed a little upon his consignments, which was indeed the case-for to use a true cockney phrase, Brummagen suffered. But this was a circumstance that made little impression upon Straddle, who was now a lad of spirit-and lads of spirit alway despise the sordid cares of keeping another man's money. Suspecting this circumstance, I never could witness any of his exhibitions of style without some whimsical association of ideas. Did he give an entertainment to a host of guzzling friends, I immediately fancied them gormandizing heartily at the expense of poor Birmingham, and swallowing a consignment of hand-saws and razors. Did I behold him dashing through Broadway in his gig, I saw him, “in iny mind's eye,” driving tandem on a nest of tea-boards; nor could I ever contemplate his cockney exhibitions of horsemanship, but my mischievous imagination would picture him spurring a cask of hardware, like rosy Bacchus bestriding a beer-barrel, or the little gentleman who be-straddles the world in the front of Hutching's Almanack.
Straddle was equally successful with the Giblets, as may well be supposed; for though pedestrian merit may
strive in vain to become fashionable in Gotham, yet a candidate in an equipage is always recognized, and like Philip's ass, laden with gold will gain admittance every where. Mounted in his curricle or his gig, the candidate is like a statue elevated on a high pedestal ; his merits are discernable from afar, and strike the dullest optics. Oh! Gotham, Gotham! most enlightened of cities ! how does my heart swell with delight when I behold your sapient inhabitants lavishing their attention with such wonderful discernment!
Thus Straddle became quite a man of ton, and was caressed, and courted, and invited to dinners and balls. Whatever was absurd or ridiculous in him before was now declared to be the style. He criticized our theatre, and was listened to with reverence. He pronounced our musical entertainments barbarous; and the judgment of Apollo himself would not have been more decisive. He abused our dinners; and the god of eating, if there be any such deity, seemed to speak through his organs. He became at once a man of taste-for he put his malediction on every thing; and his arguments were conclusive--for he supported every assertion with a bet. He was likewise pronounced by the learned in the fashionable world a young man of great research and deep observation,- for he had sent home, as natural curiosities, an ear of Indian corn, a pair of moccasons, a belt of wampum, and a four-leafed clover. He had taken great pains to enrich this curious collection with an Indian, and à cataract, but without success. In fine, the people talked of Straddle and his equipage, and Straddle talked of his horses, until it was impossible for the most critical observer to pronounce whether Straddle or his horses were most admired, or whether Straddle admired himself or his horses most.
Straddle was now in the zenith of his glory. He swaggered about parlours and drawing-rooms with the same unceremonious confidence he used to display in the taverns at Birmingham. He accosted a lady as he would a bar-maid; and this was pronounced a certain proof that he had been used to better company in Birmingham. He became the great man of all the taverns between New-York and Harlem; and no one stood a chance of being accommodated until Straddle and his horses were perfectly satisfied. He d-d the landlords and waiters, with the best air in the world, and accosted them with
gentlemanly familiarity. He staggered from the dinnertable to the play, entered the box like a tempest, stayed long enough to be bored to death, and to bore all those who had the misfortune to be near him. From thence he dashed off to a ball, time enough to flounder through. a cotilion, tear half a dozen gowns, commit a number of other depredations, and make the whole company sensible of his infinite condescension in coming amongst them. The people of Gotham thought him a prodigious fine fellow; the young bucks cultivated his acquaintance with the most persevering assiduity, and his retainers were sometimes complimented with a seat in his curricle, or a ride on one of his fine horses. The belles were delighted with the attentions of such a fashionable gentleman, and struck with astonishment at his learned distinctions between wrought scissors and those of cast steel : together with his profound dissertations on buttons and horse-flesh.
The rich merchants courted his acquaintance because he was an Englishman, and their wives treated him with great deference because he had come from beyond seas. I cannot help here observing that your saltwater is a marvellous great sharpener of men's wits, and I intend to recommend it to some of my acquaintance in a particular essay.
Straddle continued his brilliant career for only a short time. His prosperous journey over the turnpike of fashion was checked by some of those stumbling-blocks in the way of aspiring youth called creditors-or duns : race of people who as a celebrated writer observes, "are hated by the gods and men.” Consignments slackened, whispers of distant suspicion floated in the dark, and those pests of society the tailors and shoemakers, rose in rebellion against Straddle. In vain were all his remonstrances; in vain did he prove to them, that though he had given them no money, yet he had given them more custom, and as many promises as any young man in the city. They were inflexible; and the signal of danger being given, a host of other prosecutors pounced upon his back. Straddle saw there was but one way for it: he determined to do the thing genteely, to go to smash like a hero, and dashed into the limits in high style; being the fifteenth gentleman I have known to drive tandem to the-ne plus ultra—the d-l.
Unfortunate Straddle! may thy fate be a warning to all young gentlemen who come from Birmingham to