Chamberss Edinburgh Journal, No. 422

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Chambers's Edinburgh Journal,
No. 422

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Title: Chambers' Edinburgh Journal Volume XVII., No 422, New
Series, January 31, 1852
Author: Various
Editor: Robert Chambers and William Chambers
Release Date: July 7, 2005 [EBook #16228]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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1-1/2 _d._

'On Saturday, then, at two--humble hours, humble fare; but plenty, and
good of its kind; with a talk over old fellows and old times.'
Such was the pith of an invitation to dinner, to accept which I started
on a pleasant summer Saturday on the top of a Kentish-town omnibus.
My host was Happy Jack. Everybody called him 'Happy Jack:' he called
himself 'Happy Jack.' He believed he was an intensely 'Happy' Jack.
Yet his friends shook their heads, and the grandest shook theirs the
longest, as they added the ominous addendum of 'Poor Devil' to 'Happy
'Seen that unhappy wretch, Happy Jack, lately?'
'Seen him! of course, yesterday: he came to borrow a half-sovereign, as
two of his children had the measles. He was in the highest spirits, for
the pawnbroker lent him more on his watch than he had expected, and
so Jack considered the extra shilling or two pure gain. I don't know how
the wretch lives, but he seems happier than ever.'
On another occasion, the dialogue would be quite different.
'Who do you think I saw last night in the first tier at the Opera?--who
but Happy Jack, and Mrs Happy Jack, and the two eldest Happy Jack
girls! Jack himself resplendent in diamond studs, and tremendously
laced shirt-front; and as for the women--actually queens of Sheba. A
really respectable carriage, too, at the door; for I followed them out in
amazement: and off they went like so many lords and ladies. Oh, the
sun has been shining somehow on the Happy Jacks!'
In due time I stood before the Terrace honoured by the residence of the

Happy Jacks--one of those white, stuccoed rows of houses, with bright
green doors and bright brass-plates thereon, which suburban builders so
greatly affect. As I entered the square patch of front-garden, I perceived
straw lying about, as though there had been recent packing; and looking
at the drawing-room window, I missed the muslin curtain and the
canary's brass cage swathed all over in gauze. The door opened before I
knocked, and Happy Jack was the opener. He was clad in an old
shooting-coat and slippers, had a long clay-pipe in his mouth, and was
in a state of intense general _déshabille_. Looking beyond him, I saw
that the house was in _déshabille_ as well as the master. There were
stairs certainly, but where was the stair-carpet? Happy Jack, however,
was clearly as happy as usual. He had a round, red face; and, I will add,
a red nose. But the usual sprightly smile stirred the red round face, the
usual big guffaw came leaping from the largely opening mouth, the
usual gleam of mingled sharpness and bonhomie shone from the large
blue eyes. Happy Jack closed the door, and, taking my arm, walked me
backwards and forwards on the gravel.
'My boy,' he said, 'we've had a little domestic affair inside; but you
being, like myself, a man of the world, we were not of course going to
give up our dinner for that. The fact is,' said Jack, attempting to assume
a heroic and sentimental tone and attitude, 'that, for the present at least,
my household gods are shattered!'
'You mean that'----
'As I said, my household gods are shattered, even in the shrine!'
It was obvious that the twang of this fine phrase gave Jack uncommon
pleasure. He repeated it again and again under his breath, flourishing
his pipe, so as, allegorically and metaphorically, to set forth the extent
of his desolation.
'In other words,' I went on, 'there has been an--an execution'----
'And the brokers have not left a stick. But what of that? These, are
accidents which will occur in the best'----

'And Mrs'----
'Oh! She, you know, is apt to be a little downhearted at times; and
empty rooms somehow act on her idiosyncrasy. A good woman, but
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