There are no classes so well represented at boarding-houses as those who sigh for fame, and those that are dying to be married. Accordingly, we find in Mrs. Walker’s establishment Captain Whistleborough (Mr. W. Farren), who is doing the extreme possible to get into Parliament, and Captain Pacific, R.N., (Mr. Bartley,) who is crowding all sail to the port of matrimony. Well knowing how boarding-houses teem with such persons, two men who come under the “scheming” category are also inmates. One of these, Mr. Enfield Bam (Mr. Harley), is a sort of parliamentary agent, who goes about to dig up aspirants that are buried in obscurity, and to introduce them to boroughs, by which means he makes a very good living. His present victim is, of course, Captain Whistleborough, upon whom he is not slow in commencing operations.
Captain Whistleborough has almost every requisite for an orator. He is an army officer; so his manners are good and his self-possession complete. His voice is commanding, for it has been long his duty to give the word of command. Above all, he has a mania to become a member. Yet, alas! one trifling deficiency ruins his prospects; he has an impediment in his speech, which debars him from the use of the W’s. Like the French alphabet, that letter is denied to him. When he comes to a syllable it begins, he is spell-bound; though he longs to go on, he pulls up quite short, and sticks fast. The first W he meets with in the flowery paths of rhetoric causes him to be as dumb as an oyster, or as O. Smith in “Frankenstein.” In vain does he try the Demosthenes’ plan by sucking pebbles on the Brighton shore and haranguing the waves, though he is unable to address them by name. All is useless, and he has resigned himself to despair and a Brighton boarding-house, when Mr. Enfield Bam gives him fresh hopes. He informs him that the proprietress of a pocket borough resides under the same roof, and that he will (for the usual consideration) get the Captain such an introduction to her as shall ensure him a seat in her good graces, and another in St. Stephen’s. Mr. Bam, therefore, goes off to negotiate with Miss Polecon (Mrs. Tayleure), and makes way for the intrigues of another sort of an agent, who lives in the house.
This is Rivet (Mr. C. Mathews), a gentleman who undertakes to procure for an employer anything upon earth he may want, at so much per cent. commission. There is nothing that this very general agent cannot get hold of, from a hack to a husband—from a boat to a baronetcy—from a tortoise-shell tom-cat to a rich wife. Matrimonial agency is, however, his passion, and he has plenty of indulgence for it in a Brighton boarding-house. Captain Pacific wants a wife, Mrs. Coo is a widow, and all widows want husbands. Thus Rivet makes sure of a swingeing commission from both parties; for, in imagination, and in his own memorandum-book, he has already married them.