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Page 310



'T is a capital thing to ride, they say,
O'er a country road in a one-horse shay,
With a country cousin or two in;
To crack one's whip in a sporting way,
And kiss the cousins in mode au fait,
Which means as often as ever you may,
With none but the horses to cry out “Nay,”
Or to see what you are doing;
It is capital, too, when the skies are blue,
To drive the shady old forest through,
And kiss the maids
'Neath the ambient shades, —
That is, if such you fancy to do;
For myself, I 've long renounced such vanities,
As being among the lesser insanities,
Tending, Heaven knows,
To mar the repose
Of sensitive folk, and such as those
Who belong to the finer humanities.
'T was on a day
Not long away,
That one, abroad on vacation
(Somewhere up in New Hampshire State,
Famous for raising men of weight,
And hills that stump creation,
And beautiful streams, and famous trout,
That fishers skilfully tickle out
For gastronomication),
Took it into his head to ride,
With a beautiful coz on either side—
Position most delectable! —
The horse he chose was a quiet beast,
Not disposed to shy in the least,
Whose speed, 't was true, had some decreased,
But still he was not rejectable;
Not 2.40 nor 40.2,
But over the road he 'd “put her through”
In time deemed quite respectable.


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His mane was combed and greased anew,
He wore his tail done up in a queue,
And he hung his head as if lots he knew,
In manner very reflectable!
Now off they go —
Gee up, gee whoa!
There 's fun on a country road, we know,
And so knows the knight of Hanover —
(Hanover-street is the one I mean,
A knight of the yard-stick he, I ween,
A capital fellow as ever was seen) —
Who often in youth one ran over.
He held the reins as a Jehu might,
Till by and by the horse took fright,
At something offensive to his sight,
Or smell, as some have pretended,
And well knew the driver that in his way
A terrible granite boulder lay,
Just where the road descended!
Now, what to do
He scarcely knew,
But, heeding the old “in media tutissimus ibis,” on he flew,
Keeping the road in the middle,
The while the pony straightened the rein
So hard it gave his fingers pain,
And hummed like the string of a fiddle.
On they sped with jolt and bolt,
The old horse wild as a yearling colt,
As maddened and as frisky
As a toper on a sennight spree,
Just on the edge of delirium tre',
Quenched in him each sane idee,
By villanous rifle whiskey.
Out from the doors the people ran,
Every woman, every man, —
O, they 'll be killed for certain!
And certain it seemed that the hand of Fate
Only a moment more did wait
To drop their mortal curtain.


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Old Squire Lee was taking his tea, —
Perhaps it was something stronger, —
'T was a very hot day, and he sipped away
Than usual a little longer,
When dash and crash
There came a smash
Like a bolt of vengeful thunder
When the head of a horse
And half of a chaise,
With an earthquake's force
Broke in on his gaze,
Filling him full of wonder!
Right through the side of the house they ran,
Horse and chaise, and woman and man —
A most insane intrusion; —
That is, they would have done so, but —
They did n't — the chaise-shafts only cut
A hole where one his arm might put —
The rest was an illusion;
But there upon the cold, cold ground
The three excursionists sat around,
In most sublime confusion.
Sure such a sight was never seen,
Such fearful destruction of crinoline,
And there sat the fallen hero;
A moment he thought of his cruel fate,
And then he placed his hand on his pate
His wig was gone! and, bald as a slate,
He sat there stiff as Zero.
And Squire Lee, quite jolly was he,
Well pleased the thing was no sadder;
Says he, “My lad, I 'm heartily glad
You 're not disposed for this to die mad,
Like those who sometimes dye madder.”
Then Squire Lee
Gave them some tea,
And everything ended right merrily,
And, homeward soon returning,
The horse behaved like a sensible beast,
And did n't bolt or shy in the least,
His wisdom very much increased
By the lesson he 'd been learning.


Page 313


WE were delighted with Blifkins' account of his saving,
by an economical expedient, and give it in nearly
his own words. “Mr. Blifkins,” says my wife, “our
kitchen needs painting.” —“Does it, my dear? Well,
then, need it must; for I assure you, Mrs. Blifkins, that
the accruing dimes do not warrant the outlay, at present.”
I saw that she was unhappy, and knew that she
would not relinquish her point. “Mr. Blifkins,” said
she, a few days thereafter, “I have thought of an expedient
by which we can have our kitchen painted.”
Her face was lighted up with an expression that it too
seldom wears, as she spoke. She is a great woman for
expedients, is Mrs. Blifkins. “You can do it yourself!”
continued she, touching me with the point of her forefinger
in the region of my fourth vest-button. “A dollar
saved,” said she, still further, “is as good as a dollar
earned, you know.” I looked with admiration on that
wonderful specimen of her sex, as she said this, and
“allowed” (as the western people say) to myself that,
as an economist, she had no peer. And well I might
allow it; for, at the very moment were her shoulders
covered by a sort of monkey-jacket made of one of my
worn-out coats, and a pair of galligaskins had assumed
the form of a basque, that was worn by a juvenile
Blifkins. “Your suggestion,” says I, to my wife, “is a
good one, and to-morrow shall develop a new phase in
my character. I will turn artist, and give the world
evidence of a talent that needed but the Promethean
spark of necessity to draw it out. I will procure pots
and brushes, and Michael Angelo, Raphael, Salvator
Rosa, and Claude Lorraine, shall yield the palm to Blifkins.”


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Mrs. B. was delighted. “Mr. Blifkins,” said my wife,
in the night, as I was about settling into my solid nap,
“you 'd better make it pale-green.” — “Do what?” said
I, starting up, forgetting all about the painting. — “The
paint,” replied she. I am afraid that I used some expression
of spleen that was unworthy of me. I turned
over to try to sleep again. “Mr. Blifkins,” said my
wife, “don't you think the window-sills would look better
some other color?” — “Any color you please, my
dear,” said I; “but let us dismiss the subject from present
discussion, as this is no place for a brush.” I carried
my point, as she had her paint, and I was allowed
to sleep. But I was all night dreaming of my undertaking.
No roseate hues mingled with my sleeping
fancies, fraught with the odors of celestial bowers; but
paint-pots were piled in pyramids about me, brushhandles,
like boarding-pikes, I encountered everywhere,
and a villanous smell of raw paint almost suffocated me.

I was up with the lark, and, after breakfast, went
down to Bristle, the painter's, to procure my paint.
That eminent professor of art mixed me two pots of the
right article, of hues that were of a satisfactory shade,
and I went home with anticipations of the most exalted
character. “Mr. Blifkins,” said my wife, “you have
dreadfully daubed your pants with the paint — strange
that you should be so careless.” Sure enough, on both
sides I had bestowed impartial donations of the adhering
color. The pants were new, and I had congratulated
myself on their being a wonderful fit. This was a
discouragement. “Mr. Blifkins,” said my wife, “you 'd
better put on an old pair.” I have always boasted of
my ability to compete with anybody in the particular
property known as old clothes. I knew that the decayed
fashion of many years hung by their allotted


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pegs in the closet, which had been facetiously denominated
the “wardrobe,” and hastened to procure the garment
desired. In the name of all of the tribes of Israel,
where were the bifurcated teguments that for years had
met my view? The pegs were bare, and my first impression
was that they had taken to their own legs, and
walked away. “Mrs. Blifkins,” said I, to my wife, on the
top of the stairs, and at the top of my lungs, “where
are the — the — garments?” I heard her say something
about “sold,” and concluded that she was trying some
little trick upon me, as wives sometimes will, and was
adopting the formula so much in vogue for expressing
it. She came up stairs. “Mr. Blifkins,” said she, “I declare,
I sold all of your old clothes, only yesterday, for
a beautiful pair of vases, and some tin ware.” I looked
at her earnestly; but the evident calmness that prevailed
in her own breast softened and subdued the violence
in mine. “You 'd better put on this,” said she,
holding up an article of female apparel, the name of
which I disremember, but which, when secured to my
waist, as I recollect, fell to my feet. She smiled as she
placed it in my hand, and I put it on. “Mrs. Blifkins,”
said I to my wife, “why am I, thus accoutred, liable to
be more extravagant than ever?” She said she did n't
know. “Because,” said I, triumphantly, “I am bound to
waist!” She pretended not to see the reason, and I did
not explain, but went to work. “Now shall you see,
wife of my soul,” said I, “such work as you can find
alone in the Vatican at Rome, or the Louvre at Paris,
should you feel inclined to seek it. Here, before this
door, I take my stand, and here I commence. You
shall see.” — “Mr. Blifkins,” said my wife, “don't drip
it over on the floor.” — “Never fear,” said I, dipping in


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the brush, and sopping it up against the side in the most
approved form.

My first aim was at the upper part of the door, —
a panelled door, — and I applied the brush vigorously.
“Mrs. Blifkins,” said I, to my wife, “as the morning is
rather cold, should n't you think it well to put on two
coats?” She took the pleasantry as an unkind reflection
on the disposition made of the old clothes, and did n't
say anything. I worked away on that door, severely;
but I found, before I had half done it, a weariness in
the wrist; and a cold sensation up my sleeve, attracting
my attention, revealed the fact that a stream of paint
was stealing along the handle of the brush up my arm.
I laid down the implement, and went to procure something
with which to wipe the paint off. “Mr. Blifkins,”
screamed my wife, “look at the baby!” I looked, as
she held that young prodigy up to view, and was much
shocked. The baby had crawled to the paint-pot, and
had immersed his two hands to the elbows. Not content
with this, he had laid hands on the brush, and, when
Mrs. Blifkins saw him, he was engaged in an insane
effort to get it into his mouth. The precocity of that
child is most wonderful! The paint was washed off,
and I commenced again. “Mr. Blifkins,” said my wife,
when I had been working about two hours, with my
hands cramped, my wrist and back aching, my eyes full
of paint, and my face tattooed by the same, like a New
Zealander, “are you most done?” The “No” that I
returned I fear was not pleasant. All that forenoon I
worked at that terrible task, and at about dinner-time
I saw it accomplished. “Mrs. Blifkins,” said I, “the
work is completed; come and look, and admire.” She
came at my request, and I noticed a mischievous twinkle
in her eye as she looked. “Why, Mr. Blifkins,” said my


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wife, “you 've put more paint on the paper and the carpet
than you have anywhere else.” Her criticism seemed
unkind; but I looked where she had directed, and round
the doors and window-frames were rays of paint, like
the surroundings of islands on a map, and below were
large blotches of paint upon the carpet, that had assumed
geometrical forms enough to have puzzled the
judgment of a professor. “I confess, my dear, that in
this particular I have been a little slovenly; but look at
that work.” — “Mr. Blifkins,” said my wife, “if there 's
no better painting in the what's-its-name at Rome, I
don't care about seeing it.” The door-bell here rang,
and, “accoutred as I was,” without thinking of it, I
rushed to see who had come, and met a whole bevy of
ladies, and suffered the mortification of a sensitive
nature under such circumstances. I here sum up the

J. Blifkins in account with Domestic Economy.

1858.  Dr. 
To painting one room,  $5.00 
To Balance,  $25.50 
1858.  Cr. 
Time and labor spent in painting,  $3.50 
Pants spoilt in ditto,  8.00 
Paint,  1.00 
Spoiling carpet,  3.00 
Daubing wall,  5.00 
Mortification,  10.00 

I throw in the dangerous experiment of the baby
and the injury to health, both of which, could they be
estimated by numbers, would swell the amount to an
alarming figure. I came solemnly to the conclusion
that it would have been better to have hired it done.

Such was Mr. Blifkins' story about his economy. It
is a case not much over-stated.


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