Charles Dickens

The concert began. Song-- sentimental--by a light-haired young gentleman in a blue coat, and bright basket buttons--[applause]. Another song, doubtful, by another gentleman in another blue coat and more bright basket buttons--[increased applause]. Duet, Mr. Jennings Rodolph, and Mrs. Jennings Rodolph, 'Red Ruffian, retire!'--[great applause]. Solo, Miss Julia Montague (positively on this occasion only)--'I am a Friar'--[enthusiasm]. Original duet, comic--Mr. H. Taplin (the comic gentleman) and Miss Martin--'The Time of Day.' 'Brayvo!-- Brayvo!' cried the ornamental painter's journeyman's party, as Miss Martin was gracefully led in by the comic gentleman. 'Go to work, Harry,' cried the comic gentleman's personal friends. 'Tap-tap- tap,' went the leader's bow on the music-desk. The symphony began, and was soon afterwards followed by a faint kind of ventriloquial chirping, proceeding apparently from the deepest recesses of the interior of Miss Amelia Martin. 'Sing out'--shouted one gentleman in a white great-coat. 'Don't be afraid to put the steam on, old gal,' exclaimed another, 'S-s-s-s-s-s-s'-went the five-and-twenty bottled ales. 'Shame, shame!' remonstrated the ornamental painter's journeyman's party--'S-s-s-s' went the bottled ales again, accompanied by all the gins, and a majority of the brandies.

'Turn them geese out,' cried the ornamental painter's journeyman's party, with great indignation.

'Sing out,' whispered Mr. Jennings Rodolph.

'So I do,' responded Miss Amelia Martin.

'Sing louder,' said Mrs. Jennings Rodolph.

'I can't,' replied Miss Amelia Martin.

'Off, off, off,' cried the rest of the audience.

'Bray-vo!' shouted the painter's party. It wouldn't do--Miss Amelia Martin left the orchestra, with much less ceremony than she had entered it; and, as she couldn't sing out, never came out. The general good humour was not restored until Mr. Jennings Rodolph had become purple in the face, by imitating divers quadrupeds for half an hour, without being able to render himself audible; and, to this day, neither has Miss Amelia Martin's good humour been restored, nor the dresses made for and presented to Mrs. Jennings Rodolph, nor the local abilities which Mr. Jennings Rodolph once staked his professional reputation that Miss Martin possessed.


Of all the dancing academies that ever were established, there never was one more popular in its immediate vicinity than Signor Billsmethi's, of the 'King's Theatre.' It was not in Spring- gardens, or Newman-street, or Berners-street, or Gower-street, or Charlotte-street, or Percy-street, or any other of the numerous streets which have been devoted time out of mind to professional people, dispensaries, and boarding-houses; it was not in the West- end at all--it rather approximated to the eastern portion of London, being situated in the populous and improving neighbourhood of Gray's-inn-lane. It was not a dear dancing academy--four-and- sixpence a quarter is decidedly cheap upon the whole. It was VERY select, the number of pupils being strictly limited to seventy- five, and a quarter's payment in advance being rigidly exacted. There was public tuition and private tuition--an assembly-room and a parlour. Signor Billsmethi's family were always thrown in with the parlour, and included in parlour price; that is to say, a private pupil had Signor Billsmethi's parlour to dance IN, and Signor Billsmethi's family to dance WITH; and when he had been sufficiently broken in in the parlour, he began to run in couples in the assembly-room.

Such was the dancing academy of Signor Billsmethi, when Mr. Augustus Cooper, of Fetter-lane, first saw an unstamped advertisement walking leisurely down Holborn-hill, announcing to the world that Signor Billsmethi, of the King's Theatre, intended opening for the season with a Grand Ball.

Now, Mr. Augustus Cooper was in the oil and colour line--just of age, with a little money, a little business, and a little mother, who, having managed her husband and HIS business in his lifetime, took to managing her son and HIS business after his decease; and so, somehow or other, he had been cooped up in the little back parlour behind the shop on week-days, and in a little deal box without a lid (called by courtesy a pew) at Bethel Chapel, on Sundays, and had seen no more of the world than if he had been an infant all his days; whereas Young White, at the gas-fitter's over the way, three years younger than him, had been flaring away like winkin'--going to the theatre--supping at harmonic meetings--eating oysters by the barrel--drinking stout by the gallon--even out all night, and coming home as cool in the morning as if nothing had happened.