Charles Dickens

Fairfax 'a horror,' draws down all the opposition of the others, which having been expressed in a great many ejaculatory passages, such as 'Well, did I ever!'--and 'Lor, Emily, dear!' ma takes up the subject, and gravely states, that she must say she does not think Mr. Fairfax by any means a horror, but rather takes him to be a young man of very great ability; 'and I am quite sure,' adds the worthy lady, 'he always means a great deal more than he says.'

The door opens at this point of the disclosure, and who of all people alive walks into the room, but the very Mr. Fairfax, who has been the subject of conversation! 'Well, it really is curious,' cries ma, 'we were at that very moment talking about you.' 'You did me great honour,' replies Mr. Fairfax; 'may I venture to ask what you were saying?' 'Why, if you must know,' returns the eldest girl, 'we were remarking what a very mysterious man you are.' 'Ay, ay!' observes Mr. Fairfax, 'Indeed!' Now Mr. Fairfax says this ay, ay, and indeed, which are slight words enough in themselves, with so very unfathomable an air, and accompanies them with such a very equivocal smile, that ma and the young ladies are more than ever convinced that he means an immensity, and so tell him he is a very dangerous man, and seems to be always thinking ill of somebody, which is precisely the sort of character the censorious young gentleman is most desirous to establish; wherefore he says, 'Oh, dear, no,' in a tone, obviously intended to mean, 'You have me there,' and which gives them to understand that they have hit the right nail on the very centre of its head.

When the conversation ranges from the mystery overhanging the censorious young gentleman's behaviour, to the general topics of the day, he sustains his character to admiration. He considers the new tragedy well enough for a new tragedy, but Lord bless us--well, no matter; he could say a great deal on that point, but he would rather not, lest he should be thought ill-natured, as he knows he would be. 'But is not Mr. So-and-so's performance truly charming?' inquires a young lady. 'Charming!' replies the censorious young gentleman. 'Oh, dear, yes, certainly; very charming--oh, very charming indeed.' After this, he stirs the fire, smiling contemptuously all the while: and a modest young gentleman, who has been a silent listener, thinks what a great thing it must be, to have such a critical judgment. Of music, pictures, books, and poetry, the censorious young gentleman has an equally fine conception. As to men and women, he can tell all about them at a glance. 'Now let us hear your opinion of young Mrs. Barker,' says some great believer in the powers of Mr. Fairfax, 'but don't be too severe.' 'I never am severe,' replies the censorious young gentleman. 'Well, never mind that now. She is very lady-like, is she not?' 'Lady-like!' repeats the censorious young gentleman (for he always repeats when he is at a loss for anything to say). 'Did you observe her manner? Bless my heart and soul, Mrs. Thompson, did you observe her manner?--that's all I ask.' 'I thought I had done so,' rejoins the poor lady, much perplexed; 'I did not observe it very closely perhaps.' 'Oh, not very closely,' rejoins the censorious young gentleman, triumphantly. 'Very good; then _I_ did. Let us talk no more about her.' The censorious young gentleman purses up his lips, and nods his head sagely, as he says this; and it is forthwith whispered about, that Mr. Fairfax (who, though he is a little prejudiced, must be admitted to be a very excellent judge) has observed something exceedingly odd in Mrs. Barker's manner.


As one funny young gentleman will serve as a sample of all funny young Gentlemen we purpose merely to note down the conduct and behaviour of an individual specimen of this class, whom we happened to meet at an annual family Christmas party in the course of this very last Christmas that ever came.

We were all seated round a blazing fire which crackled pleasantly as the guests talked merrily and the urn steamed cheerily--for, being an old-fashioned party, there WAS an urn, and a teapot besides--when there came a postman's knock at the door, so violent and sudden, that it startled the whole circle, and actually caused two or three very interesting and most unaffected young ladies to scream aloud and to exhibit many afflicting symptoms of terror and distress, until they had been several times assured by their respective adorers, that they were in no danger.