Men's Wives HTML version

Chapter 5
In Which Mr. Walker Falls Into Difficulties, And Mrs. Walker Makes Many Foolish
Attempts To Rescue Him.
I hope the beloved reader is not silly enough to imagine that Mr. Walker, on
finding himself inspunged for debt in Chancery Lane, was so foolish as to think of
applying to any of his friends (those great personages who have appeared every
now and then in the course of this little history, and have served to give it a
fashionable air). No, no; he knew the world too well; and that, though Billingsgate
would give him as many dozen of claret as he could carry away under his belt, as
the phrase is (I can't help it, madam, if the phrase is not more genteel), and
though Vauxhall would lend him his carriage, slap him on the back, and dine at
his house,-- their lordships would have seen Mr. Walker depending from a beam
in front of the Old Bailey rather than have helped him to a hundred pounds.
And why, forsooth, should we expect otherwise in the world? I observe that men
who complain of its selfishness are quite as selfish as the world is, and no more
liberal of money than their neighbours; and I am quite sure with regard to Captain
Walker that he would have treated a friend in want exactly as he when in want
was treated. There was only his lady who was in the least afflicted by his
captivity; and as for the club, that went on, we are bound to say, exactly as it did
on the day previous to his disappearance.
By the way, about clubs--could we not, but for fear of detaining the fair reader too
long, enter into a wholesome dissertation here on the manner of friendship
established in those institutions, and the noble feeling of selfishness which they
are likely to encourage in the male race? I put out of the question the stale topics
of complaint, such as leaving home, encouraging gormandising and luxurious
habits, etc.; but look also at the dealings of club-men with one another. Look at
the rush for the evening paper! See how Shiverton orders a fire in the dog-days,
and Swettenham opens the windows in February. See how Cramley takes the
whole breast of the turkey on his plate, and how many times Jenkins sends away
his beggarly half-pint of sherry! Clubbery is organised egotism. Club intimacy is
carefully and wonderfully removed from friendship. You meet Smith for twenty
years, exchange the day's news with him, laugh with him over the last joke, grow
as well acquainted as two men may be together--and one day, at the end of the
list of members of the club, you read in a little paragraph by itself, with all the
Smith, John, Esq.;
or he, on the other hand, has the advantage of reading your own name selected
for a similar typographical distinction. There it is, that abominable little exclusive
list at the end of every club-catalogue--you can't avoid it. I belong to eight clubs
myself, and know that one year Fitz-Boodle, George Savage, Esq. (unless it
should please fate to remove my brother and his six sons, when of course it