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Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 462 Volume 18, New Series, November 6, 1852   By:

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No. 462. NEW SERIES. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1852. PRICE 1 1/2 d.


She is neither your partner, nor ours, nor anybody else's in particular. She is in general business, of which matrimony is only a department. How she came to be concerned in so many concerns, is a mystery of nature, like the origin of the Poet or rather of black Topsy. The latter, you know, was not born at all, she never had no father nor mother, she was not made by nobody she growed ; and so it is with the managing partner, who was a managing partner from her infancy. It is handed down by tradition that she screamed lustily in the nurse's arms when anything went wrong, or as she would not have it; and this gave rise, among superficial observers, to the notion, that Missy was naturally cross. But the fact is, her screams were merely substitutes for words, like the inarticulate cries by which dumb persons express their emotions. When language came, she gave up screaming but not managing. She did not so much play, as direct the play distributing the parts to her companions, and remaining herself an abstraction. If she was ever seen cuffing a doll on the side of the head, or shaking it viciously by the arm, this was merely a burst of natural impatience with the stupid thing; but in general, she contented herself with desiring the mother of the offender to bestow the necessary chastisement. Her orders were usually obeyed; for they were seen to proceed from no selfish motive, but from an innate sense of right. This fact was obvious from the very words in which they were conveyed: You should be so and so; you should do so and so; you should say so and so. Her orders were, in fact, a series of moral maxims, which the other partners in the juvenile concern took upon trust.

As she grew up into girlhood, and then into young womanhood, business multiplied upon her hands. She was never particular as to what business it was. Like Wordsworth, when invited in to lunch, she was perfectly willing to take a hand in 'anything that was going forward;' and that hand was sure to be an important one: she never entered a concern of which she did not at once become the managing partner. In another of these chalk (and water) portraits, we described the Everyday Young Lady as the go between in numberless love affairs, but never the principal in any. This is precisely the case with the young lady we are now taking off yet how different are the functions of the two! The former listens, and sighs, and blushes, and sympathises, pressing the secret into the depths of her bosom, turning down her conscious eyes from the world's face, and looking night and day as if she was haunted by a Mystery. She is, in fact, of no use, but as a reservoir into which her friend may pour her feelings, and come for them again when she chooses, to enjoy and gloat over them at leisure. Her nerves are hardly equal to a message; but a note feels red hot in her bosom, and when she has one, she looks down every now and then spasmodically, as if to see whether it has singed the muslin. When the affair has been brought to a happy issue, she attends, in an official capacity, the busking of the victim; and when she sees her at length assume the (lace) veil, and prepare to go forth to be actually married a contingency she had till that moment denied in her secret heart to be within the bounds of possibility she falls upon her neck as hysterically as a regard for the frocks of both will allow, and indulges in a silent fit of tears, and terror, and triumph.

But the managing partner is altogether of a more practical character. She no sooner gets an inkling of what is going forward, than she steps into the concern as confidently as if any number of parchments had been signed and scaled... Continue reading book >>

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