Jipson's Great Dinner Party

"Well, you must do it."

"Do it?"

"Do it, sir," reiterated the lady of Jipson, a man well enough to do

in the world, chief clerk of a "sugar baker," and receiving his twenty

hundred dollars a year, with no perquisites, however, and--plenty of New

Hampshire contingencies, (to quote our beloved man of the million,

Theodore Parker,) poor relations.

"But, my dear Betsey
do you know, will you consider for once, that to

do a thing of the kind--to splurge out like Tannersoil, one must

expect--at least I do--to sink a full quarter of my salary, for the

current year; yes, a full quarter?"

"Oh! very well, if you are going to live up here" (Jipson had just moved

up above "Bleecker street,")--"and bought your carriage, and


"Two extra servant girls," chimed in Jipson.

"And a groom, sir," continued Mrs. J.

"And gone into at least six hundred to eight hundred dollars a year

extra expenses, to--a----"

"To gratify yourself, and--a----"

"Your--a--a--your vanity, Madam, you should have said, my dear."

"Don't talk that way to me--to me--you brute; you know----"

"I know all about it, my dear."

"My dear--bah!" said the lady; "my dear! save that, Mr. Jipson, for

some of your--a--a----"

What Mrs. J. might have said, we scarce could judge; but Jipson just

then put in a "rejoinder" calculated to prevent the umpullaceous tone of

Mrs. J.'s remarks, by saying, in a very humble strain--

"Mrs. Jipson, don't make an ass of yourself: we are too old to act like

goslings, and too well acquainted, I hope, with the matters-of-fact of

every-day life, to quarrel about things beyond our reach or control."

"If you talk of things beyond your control, Mr. Jipson, I mean beyond

your reach, that your income will not permit us to live as other people


"I wouldn't like to," interposed Jipson.

"What?" asked Mrs. Jipson.

"Live like other people--that is, some people, Mrs. Jipson, that I know


"You don't suppose I'm going to bury myself and my poor girls in this

big house, and have those servants standing about me, their fingers in

their mouths, with nothing to do but----"

"But what?"

"But cook, and worry, and slave, and keep shut up for a----"

"For what?"

"For a--a----"

But Mrs. J. was stuck. Jipson saw that; he divined what a point Mrs.

J. was about to, but could not conscientiously make, so he relieved her


"My dear Betsey, it's a popular fallacy, an exploded idea, a

contemptible humbug, to live merely for your neighbors, the rabble world

at large. Thousands do it, my dear, and I've no objection to their doing

it; it's their own business, and none of mine. I have moved up town

because I thought it would be more pleasant; I bought a modest kind of

family carriage because I could afford it, and believed it would add to

our recreations and health; the carriage and horses required care; I

engaged a man to attend to them, fix up the garden, and be useful

generally, and added a girl or two to your domestic departments, in

order to lighten your own cares, &c. Now, all this, my dear woman, you

ought to know, rests a very important responsibility upon my shoulders,

health, life, and--two thousand dollars a year, and if you imagine it

compatible with common sense, or consonant with my judgment, to make an

ass or fool of myself, by going into the extravagances and tom-fooleries

of Tannersoil, our neighbor over the way, who happens for the time to be

'under government,' with a salary of nothing to speak of, but with

stealings equal to those of a successful freebooter, you--you--you have

placed a--a bad estimate upon my common sense, Madam."

With this flaring burst of eloquence, Jipson seized his hat, gloves and

cane, and soon might be seen an elderly, natty, well-shaved,

slightly-flushed gentleman taking his seat in a down town bound bus,

en route for the sugar bakery of the firm of Cutt, Comeagain, & Co. It

was evident, however, from the frequency with which Jipson plied his

knife and rubber to his "figgers" of the day's accounts, and the

tremulousness with which he drove the porcupine quill, that Jipson was

thinking of something else!

"Mr. Jipson, I wish you'd square up that account of Look, Sharp, & Co.,

to-day," said Mr. Cutt, entering the counting room.

"All folly!" said Jipson, scratching out a mistake from his day-book,

and not heeding the remark, though he saw the person of his employer.

"Eh?" was the ejaculation of Cutt.

"All folly!"

"I don't understand you, sir!" said Cutt, in utter astonishment.

"Oh! I beg pardon, sir," said poor Jipson; "I beg pardon, sir. Engrossed

in a little affair of my own, I quite overlooked your observation. I

will attend to the account of Look, Sharp, & Co., at once, sir;" and

while Jipson was at it, his employer went out, wondering what in faith

could be the matter with Jipson, a man whose capacity and gentlemanly

deportment the firm had tested to their satisfaction for many years

previous. The little incident was mentioned to the partner, Comeagain.

The firm first laughed, then wondered what was up to disturb the usual

equilibrium of Jipson, and ended by hoping he hadn't taken to drink or


"Guess I'd better do it," soliloquizes Jipson. "My wife is a good woman

enough, but like most women, lets her vanity trip up her common sense,

now and then; she feels cut down to know that Tannersoil's folks are

plunging out with dinners and evening parties, troops of company, piano

going, and bawling away their new fol-de-rol music. Yes, guess I'll do


"Mrs. Jipson little calculates the horrors--not only in a pecuniary, but

domestic sense--that these dinners, suppers and parties to the rag-tag

and bobtail, cost many honest-meaning people, who ought to be ashamed

of them.

"But, I'll do it, if it costs me the whole quarter's salary!"

A few days were sufficient to concoct details and arrange the programme.

When Mrs. Jipson discovered, as she vainly supposed, the prevalence of

"better sense" on the part of her husband, she was good as cranberry

tart, and flew around in the best of humor, to hurry up the event that

was to give eclat to the new residence and family of the Jipsons,

slightly dim the radiance or mushroom glory of the Tannersoil family,

and create a commotion generally--above Bleecker street!

Jipson drew on his employers, for a quarter's salary. The draft was

honored, of course, but it led to some speculation on the part of "the

firm," as to what Jipson was up to, and whether he wasn't getting into

evil habits, and decidedly bad economy in his old age. Jipson talked,

Mrs. Jipson talked. Their almost--in fact, Mrs. J., like most ambitious

mothers, thought, really--marriageable daughters dreamed and talked

dinner parties for the full month, ere the great event of their lives

came duly off.

One of the seeming difficulties was who to invite--who to get to come,

and where to get them! Now, originally, the Jipsons were from the

"Hills of New Hampshire, of poor but respectable" birth. Fifteen years

in the great metropolis had not created a very extensive acquaintance

among solid folks; in fact, New York society fluctuates, ebbs and flows

at such a rate, that society--such as domestic people might recognize as

unequivocally genteel--is hard to fasten to or find. But one of the Miss

Jipsons possessed an acquaintance with a Miss Somebody else, whose

brother was a young gentleman of very distingue air, and who knew the

entire "ropes" of fashionable life, and people who enjoyed that sort of

existence in the gay metropolis.

Mr. Theophilus Smith, therefore, was eventually engaged. It was his, as

many others' vocation, to arrange details, command the feast, select the

company, and control the coming event. The Jipsons confined their

invitations to the few, very few genteel of the family, and even the

diminutiveness of the number invited was decimated by Mr. Smith, who was

permitted to review the parties invited.

Few domiciles--of civilian, "above Bleecker st.,"--were better

illuminated, set off and detailed than that of Jipson, on the evening of

the ever-memorable dinner. Smith had volunteered to "engage" a whole set

of silver from Tinplate & Co., who generously offer our ambitious

citizens such opportunities to splurge, for a fair consideration; while

china, porcelain, a dozen colored waiters in white aprons, with six

plethoric fiddlers and tooters, were also in Smith's programme. Jipson

at first was puzzled to know where he could find volunteers to fill two

dozen chairs, but when night came, Mr. Theophilus Smith, by force of

tactics truly wonderful, drummed in a force to face a gross of plates,

napkins and wine glasses.

Mrs. Jipson was evidently astonished, the Misses J. not a little vexed

at the "raft" of elegant ladies present, and the independent manner in

which they monopolized attention and made themselves at home.

Jipson swore inwardly, and looked like "a sorry man." Smith was at home,

in his element; he was head and foot of the party. Himself and friends

soon led and ruled the feast. The band struck up; the corks flew, the

wine fizzed, the ceilings were spattered, and the walls tattooed with

Burgundy, Claret and Champagne!

"To our host!" cries Smith.

"Yes--ah! 'ere's--ah! to our a--our host!" echoes another swell, already

insolently "corned."

"Where the--a--where is our worthy host?" says another specimen of

"above Bleecker street" genteel society. "I--a say, trot out your host,

and let's give the old fellow a toast!"

"Ha! ha! b-wavo! b-wavo!" exclaimed a dozen shot-in-the-neck bloods,

spilling their wine over the carpets, one another, and table covers.

"This is intolerable!" gasps poor Jipson, who was in the act of being

kept cool by his wife, in the drawing-room.

"Never mind, Jipson----"

"Ah! there's the old fellaw!" cries one of the swells.

"I-ah--say, Mister----"

"Old roostaw, I say----"

"Gentlemen!" roars Jipson, rushing forward, elevating his voice and


"For heaven's sake! Jipson," cries the wife.

"Gentlemen, or bla'guards, as you are."

"Oh! oh! Jipson, will you hear me?" imploringly cries Mrs. Jipson.

"What--ah--are you at? Does he--ah----"

"Yes, what--ah--does old Jip say?"

"Who the deuce, old What's-your-name, do you call gentlemen?" chimes in

a third.

"Bla'guards!" roars Jipson.

"Oh, veri well, veri well, old fellow, we--ah--are--ah--to blame

for--ah--patronizing a snob," continues a swell.

"A what?" shouts Jipson.

"A plebeian!"

"A codfish--ah----"

"Villains! scoundrels! bla'guards!" shouts the outraged Jipson, rushing

at the intoxicated swells, and hitting right and left, upsetting chairs,

tables, and lamps.

"Murder!" cries a knocked down guest.

"E-e-e-e-e-e!" scream the ladies.

"Don't! E-e-e-e! don't kill my father!" screams the daughter.

Chairs and hats flew; the negro servants and Dutch fiddlers, only

engaged for the occasion, taking no interest in a free fight, and not

caring two cents who whipped, laid back and--

"Yaw! ha! ha! De lor'! Yaw! ha! ha!"

Mrs. Jipson fainted; ditto two others of the family; the men folks (!)

began to travel; the ladies (!) screamed; called for their hats, shawls,

and chaperones,--the most of the latter, however, were non est, or

too well "set up," to heed the common state of affairs.

Jipson finally cleared the house. Silence reigned within the walls for a

week. In the interim, Mrs. Jipson and the daughters not only got over

their hysterics, but ideas of gentility, as practised "above Bleecker

street." It took poor Jipson an entire year to recuperate his financial

"outs," while it took the whole family quite as long to get over their

grand debut as followers of fashion in the great metropolis.