Welcome to PhiloLogic  
   home |  the ARTFL project |  download |  documentation |  sample databases |   
Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 1 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v1].
To look up a word in a dictionary, select the word with your mouse and press 'd' on your keyboard.

Previous section

Next section

CHAPTER IV. The departure and the journey.

[figure description] Page 016.[end figure description]

The day had just begun to show itself in the
east, when the rattling of wheels was heard approaching
nearer and nearer, and presently the
shrill notes of the stage driver's tin horn saluted our
ears. It was the signal for me to get ready, and
I obeyed it as well as I could; but my eyes were
so blinded with tears, I could scarcely see to do
any thing. I kissed my mother and sister again
and again; and when the coach stopped at the
door, I was ready with my trunk, and prepared to
step in. My father alone had followed me out,
and while the driver was securing my baggage,
he took my hand, and gave me a few words of

“Your mother, Harry,” said my worthy parent,
“is, of course, entitled to your affection, and it is
your duty to obey her in all things, as the good
book says; but, you must be aware, that women
are not the fittest persons in the world to give advice
to young men on their entrance into the
world; therefore, when her advice comes in opposition
to mine, your own good sense will tell you

-- 017 --

[figure description] Page 017.[end figure description]

that mine is entitled to your first consideration.
Never, my son, be ashamed or afraid of speaking
to any body, either to solicit a favor, or for any
other purpose; bear in mind that men are but
men, and there is no station whatever can make
more of them; we are all very much alike, and
you can judge from your own feelings that there
is no man so good as not to feel secretly flattered
by the attention of any body who will notice him.
And let me once more remind you never to eat
an egg out of a tumbler; nature, my son, has bestowed
more care upon eggs than upon her other
productions, and has furnished in their shells the
vessels out of which they should be eaten.”

The driver having strapped on my baggage,
my father put a small roll of bank bills into my
hand, saying it was all he had to give, me, and
that I must use it with discretion. I squeezed his
hand in reply, jumped into the coach, and the next
minute I was fairly on my journey. The first
bound of the coach imparted life to my feelings,
and I should very soon have been in a high state
of excitement, but we soon came to a dead halt at
the post office, where we were kept waiting half an
hour or more for the post master to make up his
mail bags. At length the mail bags were ready,
and again we started, and again we stopped; it

-- 018 --

[figure description] Page 018.[end figure description]

was at the tavern, and here we were forced to
wait another half hour for the driver to get his
breakfast. The passengers all kept their seats,
and some of them grew very impatient at the delay.
One threatened to write an article and put
into the papers, and others proposed appointing a
committee to wait on the driver, and request him
to hurry with his breakfast; but while they were
debating the matter, he made his appearance with
a cigar in his mouth; but instead of jumping on
to the box, as he ought, he stood talking quite
composedly with the hostler about his horses. A
little gentleman who sat along side of me, dressed
in a satinett frock coat and a white cravat, put his
head out of the window, and spoke to the driver.

“Capting,” said the passenger, “I wish you
would be so good as to let us be going, if you

“O, I presume there's no occasion for hurrying,”
said the driver. “Yes there is though, you
pisen critter,” said another passenger, “for I shall
have a note protested if I don't get to Simpsonville
before three o'clock.”

But the impatience of the passengers had but
little effect upon the driver, who continued to puff
his cigar, and talk to the hostler; when he did
mount the box, however, truth compets me to say

-- 019 --

[figure description] Page 019.[end figure description]

that he drove in handsome style. Good humor
was soon restored among all the passengers but
one, a very pale faced man, with a bombazine
stock, who remarked that whoever served the public,
whether he held the reins of government or of
a stage coach, ought never to be behind the
wishes of his employers.

“No politics if you please, mister,” said a red
faced gentleman; upon which the discontented
passenger drew his chin within the circumference
of his bombazine stock, and said not a word.

This was the first coach I had ever seen the inside
of, and it appeared to be a very grand affair.
The cushions were stuffed very curiously with spiral
wires, and some of them had worked through
the leather, and at every jolt of the carriage they
scratched me very unpleasantly, besides making a
rent in my trowsers, which I could not very well
conceal. The gentleman who sat behind me said
his great objection to wire cushions was, that they
attracted the electric fluid in a thunder storm. But
I was glad to observe from the bright face of the
sky, that there was no danger of a storm before
our journey would be at an end. There were just
nine passengers, and but one female among them;
she sat opposite to me on the front seat, but as she
wore 2 green hood, I had not been able to catch a

-- 020 --

[figure description] Page 020.[end figure description]

glimpse of her face. A very finely dressed young
gentleman sat next to her, and from his magnificent
appearance, I set him down for the governor's
son at the least; for I had then no idea of the
cheapness of finery, or that a governor's son could
dress in any other than the very genteelest clothes.
He wore a lilac calico shirt, with a little ruffle
bristling in the bosom, and a cameo breast-pin almost
as large as a saucer; he appeared quite unconscious
of there being any body in the coach
besides himself, for he amused himself by whistling
a tune, and occasionally tapping the side of his
long nose with a little ebony stick which he carried
in his hand. After we had travelled some
distance, he turned to the young lady, and asked
her if she didn't consider Bulwer a very powerful

The young lady raised her head, so that I
caught a glimpse of her face, and replied in the
sweetest, gentlest voice I had ever heard, that she
had never read his works.

“What! never read Pelham,” exclaimed the
magnificent gentleman, in apparent astonishment.

“I have not, indeed,” replied the young lady,
more sweetly, if possible, than before.

“Then I pity you,” said the supposed governor's

-- 021 --

[figure description] Page 021.[end figure description]

As this remark seemed expressive of disrespect
for the young lady, I thought I had a right to resent
it, for I had conceived a liking for her the
moment she spoke.

“I have not read Bulwer either,” I said smartly.

“Then I pity you,” said the gentleman.

I felt highly indignant at this cool reply, but I
remembered the advice which my father gave me,
never to speak when I was in a passion, and so I
bit my lips and remained silent.

“Is Pelham a good thing?” inquired one of
the passengers.

“It's splendid,” replied the gentleman; “so

After this, there was a good deal of conversation
on various subjects among my fellow travellers,
all of which I remember very distinctly, for
I noted the leading ideas at the time in my memorandum
book; but as I have doubts about its
possessing much interest for the general reader,
I shall relate no more of it.

I had made up my mind to be very polite to the
young lady on the very first occasion which should
offer; but, when we stopped at the Eagle Tavern
to dine, instead of helping her out of the carriage,
my attention was so completely absorbed by the

-- 022 --

[figure description] Page 022.[end figure description]

exhibition of a monstrous circus handbill, that I
left that delicate duty to be performed by the Lambert-like
landlord of the tavern. As I stood gazing
with intense curiosity at the grotesque figure
of the clown in the handbill, somebody struck me
a smart blow with a rattan across my shoulders,
which caused them to smart not a little, and turning
around briskly, I perceived it was the finely
dressed gentleman with the calico shirt, who had
given me this gentle tap; I felt strongly disposed
to be angry, but as he seemed to consider it a
good joke, I thought it was one of the ways of
the world; and I remembered that my father had
told me, that if I set myself up in opposition to
them, I should have a rough time of it.

“Come, Colonel,” said the gentleman, slapping
me on the shoulder, “what'll you take?”

“Nothing, I thank you,” I replied, “I have
taken enough already.”

“What! don't you liquorate?”

I shook my head, for I did not exactly understand

“Don't drink, hey?”

“Sometimes,” I answered.

“What! temperance man? Signed a pledge?”

“No, I have not signed a pledge not to drink.”

“Then you shall take a horn, so come along.”

-- 023 --

[figure description] Page 023.[end figure description]

And so saying, he dragged me up to the bar.
“Now what'll you take? julep, sling, cocktail, or
sherry cobbler?”

“Any thing you choose,” I replied, for I had
not the most remote idea what the drinks were
composed of which he enumerated.

“Then give us a couple of cocktails, bar-keeper,”
said the gentleman, “and let us have them as
quick as you damn please, for I am as thirsty as
the great desert of Sahara, which old Judah Paddock
travelled over.”

I was shocked to hear such language from a
gentleman who dressed so genteely, and who professed
to be an admirer of Bulwer; but I kept
my thoughts to myself, and watched the bar-keeper
as he mixed the cocktails: they were a mixture
of gin and water, and sugar and nutmeg, and a
few drops of a red liquid, which he poured out of
a little cruet like an ink bottle with a quill stuck
in the cork.

My companion tossed off his cocktail almost
at a single swallow, smacked his lips, and pronounced
the gin damn'd splendid. But the splendor
of the gin proved too much for my unpractised
throat, for in my attempt to imitate my companion
in pouring down the cocktail, it almost took away
my breath, which gave the black hostler and the

-- 024 --

[figure description] Page 024.[end figure description]

bar-keeper such lively pleasure that they came near
laughing themselves into convulsions.

The bell soon rang for dinner, and I followed
my fellow traveller into the dining room, and took
a seat at table by the side of a jolly looking double-chinned
gentleman, who, as he drew his chair
up with one hand, reached out the other and
seized a covered dish, one half the contents of
which he emptied into his own plate; and I emptied
the remainder into mine.

“That's right,” said the double-chinned gentleman,
“always eat oysters at a place like this,
because you can eat them quick; no bones to
bother you, toast soft, too, nice and brown.
What's that, mace? mace, I declare! Capital!
What a fat one! it just fills up the mouth, touches
all the organs of taste at the same time, and leaves
nothing to be desired. Delicious! what a fat
one! Lovely! I knew a man once, an acquaintance
of mine—first rate, ain't they?—an
acquaintance of mine who—best stew I ever sat
down to!—'quaintance of mine who—lovely!—
most expeditious eater I ever knew; never was
gone from his store more than fifteen minutes to
his dinner; in twelve months eat himself into dyspepsia;
next twelve, into consumption; travelled

-- 025 --

[figure description] Page 025.[end figure description]

on a railroad for his health; next twelve months
on his way to kingdom come—in his grave.”

“He was expeditious,” I said, drawing a long
breath, and laying down my spoon as I finished
the last oyster upon my plate. The double-chinned
gentleman finished his at the same moment,
although he had been talking all the while,
and I had not spoken a word.

“Very, indeed,” he said, in reply to my remark,
“very expeditious. He lived wretchedly,
but he died rich.”

“Poor fellow!” I exclaimed.

“Poor fellow,” he repeated; “why he was president
of a bank; poor fellow, indeed! he left a
great estate. But don't waste time; let me help
you to a piece of this steak; how do you like it?
speak quick.”

“I have no choice, I thank you, sir,” I replied.

“What, no choice, no choice, bless me!”

“None, sir.”

“Then, my friend, do allow me the pleasure of
choosing for you. What a steak! how rich! what

The ejaculations of my jolly companion, and
the sight of the juicy steak, caused my mouth to

Delicious, ain't it?” he said.

-- 026 --

[figure description] Page 026.[end figure description]


“Very indeed, very, how tender; what bread!
Salt, sir?”

“Thank you.”

“Stop a moment, don't disturb it; let me tell
you a secret. When you sit down at a table, always
look at the salt first; you will find it a sure
index of the quality of the fare, nine times out of
ten. Never knew it to fail. Now look at this,
ain't it a gem? none of your finical flutings and
notchings about it; but a piece of plain unpretending
glass, polished like a diamond. How
nicely it is filled, how smooth and white on its
surface: it looks like a piece of alabaster inserted
in a crystal. How fine and spotless! look, it
scarce touches the steak before it is dissolved; not
a particle of it will grate against your teeth, but
its delicate flavor will gratify your palate without
your being at all aware that you owe an exquisite
enjoyment to so common an article as salt. See,
the little heap on the side of your plate looks like
a snow flake just fallen.”

“Salt is certainly a great thing,” said the gentleman
with the lilac shirt, who sat opposite, and
who had been listening, with his knife and fork
suspended, to the remarks of my double-chinned

-- 027 --

[figure description] Page 027.[end figure description]

“'Tis indeed, a very great thing, very indeed.”

“Quite an article of commerce,” said the other.
“I should'nt wonder if Congress laid a duty
upon it.”

“I should'nt wonder,” replied the jolly gentleman,
winking slyly at me.

“Where on earth does salt come from?”

“Knowing, aint he?” said the jolly gentleman,
aside to me.

“Quite an extensive assortment on the table,”
remarked the elegantly dressed gentleman, apparently
ambitious of being noticed by the double-chinned
gentleman. But his sagacions remark
gained him no further notice from the object of
his attention, for just at that moment the tin trumpet
of the driver was heard, and a general rush
took place from the dinner table to the bar-room,
and after paying half a dollar a piece for our dinner,
we scrambled into the stage again; the young
lady, I blush while I write it, was handed in by
the driver, after all were seated.

“Do you know the name of that individual
who helped you to steak?” asked the supposed
governor's son in a whisper.

“No, Sir, I do not,” I replied; “do you?”

“I know him all to pieces,” replied the gentleman.

-- 028 --

[figure description] Page 028.[end figure description]

“Who is he; some great man?”

“He is so. He is the celebrated Mr. Bulbief,
the importer of spool cottons.”

I looked again at Mr. Bulbief, but he had covered
his face with his pocket handkerchief, and
was apparently sound asleep. I should soon have
dropped asleep myself—but I sat on the middle
seat, with a gentleman each side of me, who commenced
smoking segars, very much to my annoyance.
I thought it was ungentlemanly, and I had
a good mind to have told them so, for the smoke
made me deadly sick; but I bore in mind my father's
saying, “that in private, as well as in public,
the will of the majority ought to be the law, even
though the minority suffer in consequence;” and
I bore the nauseous smoke from principle as long
as I could, for I supposed there was a point of endurance,
beyond which rebellion would be justifiable.
When they lighted fresh cigars, I ventured to hint
that the smoke might not be agreeable to the
young lady. Whereupon one of the smokers replied,
“that he would not smoke another cigar if it
was productive of the least discomfort to her; but
he presumed the fragrance was rather pleasant
than otherwise, as he smoked none but the best regalias,
which cost him three cents apiece.”

“I should be sorry to deprive the gentleman of

-- 029 --

[figure description] Page 029.[end figure description]

a pleasure,” replied the young lady, very much
to my mortification.

“I thought so,” replied the smoker, lighting
another cigar.

-- 030 --

Previous section

Next section

Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 1 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v1].
Powered by PhiloLogic