A Rogue's Life
For more than a year I managed, unsuspected, to keep the Privy Purse fairly
supplied by the exercise of my caricaturing abilities. But the day of detection was
Whether my medical friend's admiration of my satirical sketches led him into
talking about them in public with too little reserve; or whether the servants at
home found private means of watching me in my moments of Art-study, I know
not: but that some one betrayed me, and that the discovery of my illicit
manufacture of caricatures was actually communicated even to the
grandmotherly head and fount of the family honor, is a most certain and
lamentable matter of fact. One morning my father received a letter from Lady
Malkinshaw herself, informing him, in a handwriting crooked with poignant grief,
and blotted at every third word by the violence of virtuous indignation, that
"Thersites Junior" was his own son, and that, in one of the last of the "ribald's"
caricatures her own venerable features were unmistakably represented as
belonging to the body of a large owl!
Of course, I laid my hand on my heart and indignantly denied everything.
Useless. My original model for the owl had got proofs of my guilt that were not to
The doctor, ordinarily the most mellifluous and self-possessed of men, flew into a
violent, roaring, cursing passion, on this occasion--declared that I was imperiling
the honor and standing of the family--insisted on my never drawing another
caricature, either for public or private purposes, as long as I lived; and ordered
me to go forthwith and ask pardon of Lady Malkinshaw in the humblest terms that
it was possible to select. I answered dutifully that I was quite ready to obey, on
the condition that he should reimburse me by a trebled allowance for what I
should lose by giving up the Art of Caricature, or that Lady Malkinshaw should
confer on me the appointment of physician-in-waiting on her, with a handsome
salary attached. These extremely moderate stipulations so increased my father's
anger, that he asserted, with an unmentionably vulgar oath, his resolution to turn
me out of doors if I did not do as he bid me, without daring to hint at any
conditions whatsoever. I bowed, and said that I would save him the exertion of
turning me out of doors, by going of my own accord. He shook his fist at me; after
which it obviously became my duty, as a member of a gentlemanly and peaceful
profession, to leave the room. The same evening I left the house, and I have
never once given the clumsy and expensive footman the trouble of answering the
door to me since that time.
I have reason to believe that my exodus from home was, on the whole, favorably
viewed by my mother, as tending to remove any possibility of my bad character
and conduct interfering with my sister's advancement in life.
By dint of angling with great dexterity and patience, under the direction of both
her parents, my handsome sister Annabella had succeeded in catching an