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Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 427 Volume 17, New Series, March 6, 1852   By:

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No. 427. NEW SERIES. SATURDAY, MARCH 6, 1852. PRICE 1½ d.


The 'Mother Bunch' public house stands modestly aside from the din, traffic, and turmoil of a leading London thoroughfare, and retires, like a bashful maiden, from the gaze of a crowd to the society of its own select circle. It is situated in a short and rather narrow street, leading from an omnibus route running north from the city to nowhere in particular or, if particulars must be given, to that complicated assemblage of carts, cabs, and clothes lines; of manure heaps and disorganised pumps; of caged thrushes, blackbirds, and magpies; of dead dogs and cats, and colonies of thriving rats; of imprisoned terriers and goats let out on parole; of shrill and angry maternity and mud loving infancy; and of hissing, curry combing grooms and haltered horses, to which Londoners have given the designation of a Mews. Mr Peter Bowley, the landlord of the 'Mother Bunch,' was the late butler of the late Sir Plumberry Muggs; and having succeeded, on the demise of the baronet, to a legacy of L.500, and finding himself unable any longer to resist the charms of his seven years' comforter and counsellor, the cook, supplemented as they were by the attractions of a legacy of the like amount, he had united his destiny and wealth with hers in one common cause. The name of Sir Plumberry Muggs, even though its worthy proprietor was defunct, was still of sufficient influence to procure a licence for his butler; and within a few months of his departure, Mr Bowley had opened the new Inn and Tavern for the accommodation of Her Majesty's thirsty lieges. He had congratulated himself upon the selection of the site, and upon the suitableness of the premises to the requirements of a good trade; and his heart swelled within him, as he sat at the head of his own table, on the occasion of the house warming, dispensing with no niggard hand the gratuitous viands and unlimited beer, which were at once to symbolise and inaugurate the hospitality of his mansion. He had a snug bar curtained with crimson drapery, for the convenience of those who, declining the ostentation of the public room, might prefer to imbibe their morning draught with becoming privacy. He had a roomy tap room, where a cheerful fire was to blaze the winter through, and a civil Ganymede minister to the wants of the humblest guest. There was a handsome parlour hung round with sporting prints, with cushioned seats and polished mahogany tables, where the tradesmen of the neighbourhood might take their evening solace after the fatigues of business; and, more than all this, he had an immense saloon on the first floor above, calculated for social conviviality on the largest scale, and furnished with mirrors, pictures, and an old grand piano, a portion of the lares of the deceased Sir Plumberry Muggs.

Mr Bowley, however, soon made the unpleasing discovery, that it is one thing to open an establishment of the kind which had already swallowed up two thirds of his capital and another thing to induce the public to patronise it. Notwithstanding the overflow which had gathered at his house warming, and the numberless good wishes which had been expressed, and toasts which had been drunk to his prosperity, yet the prosperity did not come. Of the hundred and fifty enthusiastic well wishers who had done honour to his entertainment, squeezed his hand, and sworn he was a trump, not a dozen ever entered the house a second time. Do what he would, Bowley could not create a business; and the corners of his mouth began visibly to decline ere the experiment had lasted a couple of months. He made a desperate effort to get up a Free and easy; he had the old piano tuned, and set an old fellow to play upon it with open windows; exhibited a perpetual announcement of 'A Concert this Evening;' and himself led off the harmony, to the tune of Tally ho , at the top of his voice... Continue reading book >>

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