**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Clive And Ethel Newcome
by [?]

When one is about to write the biography of a certain person, it seems but fair to give as its background such facts concerning the hero’s antecedents as place the details of his life in their proper setting. And so, having the honour to be the juvenile biographer of Mr. Clive Newcome, I deem it wise to preface the story of his life with a brief account of events and persons antecedent to his birth.

Thomas Newcome, Clive’s grandfather, had been a weaver in his native village, and brought the very best character for honesty, thrift, and ingenuity with him to London, where he was taken into the house of Hobson Brothers, cloth-manufacturers; afterwards Hobson & Newcome. When Thomas Newcome had been some time in London, he quitted the house of Hobson, to begin business for himself. And no sooner did his business prosper than he married a pretty girl from his native village. What seemed an imprudent match, as his wife had no worldly goods to bring him, turned out a very lucky one for Newcome. The whole countryside was pleased to think of the marriage of the prosperous London tradesman with the penniless girl whom he had loved in the days of his own poverty; the great country clothiers, who knew his prudence and honesty, gave him much of their business, and Susan Newcome would have been the wife of a rich man had she not died a year after her marriage, at the birth of her son, Thomas.

Newcome had a nurse for the child, and a cottage at Clapham, hard by Mr. Hobson’s house, and being held in good esteem by his former employers, was sometimes invited by them to tea. When his wife died, Miss Hobson, who since her father’s death had become a partner in the firm, met Mr. Newcome with his little boy as she was coming out of meeting one Sunday, and the child looked so pretty, and Mr. Newcome so personable, that Miss Hobson invited him and little Tommy into the grounds; let the child frisk about in the hay on the lawn, and at the end of the visit gave him a large piece of pound-cake, a quantity of the finest hot-house grapes, and a tract in one syllable. Tommy was ill the next day; but on the next Sunday his father was at meeting, and not very long after that Miss Hobson became Mrs. Newcome.

After his father’s second marriage, Tommy and Sarah, his nurse, who was also a cousin of Mr. Newcome’s first wife, were transported from the cottage, where they had lived in great comfort, to the palace hard by, surrounded by lawns and gardens, graperies, aviaries, luxuries of all kinds. This paradise was separated from the outer world by a, thick hedge of tall trees and an ivy-covered porter’s gate, through which they who travelled to London on the top of the Clapham coach could only get a glimpse of the bliss within. It was a serious paradise. As you entered at the gate, gravity fell on you; and decorum wrapped you in a garment of starch. The butcher boy who galloped his horse and cart madly about the adjoining lanes, on passing that lodge fell into an undertaker’s pace, and delivered his joints and sweetbreads silently at the servant’s entrance. The rooks in the elms cawed sermons at morning and evening; the peacocks walked demurely on the terraces; the guinea fowls looked more Quaker-like than those birds usually do. The lodge-keeper was serious, and a clerk at the neighbouring chapel. The pastor, who entered at that gate and greeted his comely wife and children, fed the little lambkins with tracts. The head gardener was a Scotch Calvinist, after the strictest order. On a Sunday the household marched away to sit under his or her favourite minister, the only man who went to church being Thomas Newcome, with Tommy, his little son. Tommy was taught hymns suited to his tender age, pointing out the inevitable fate of wicked children and giving him a description of the punishment of little sinners, which poems he repeated to his step-mother after dinner, before a great shining mahogany table, covered with grapes, pineapples, plum cake, port wine, and madeira, and surrounded by stout men in black, with baggy white neckcloths, who took the little man between their knees and questioned him as to his right understanding of the place whither naughty boys were bound. They patted his head if he said well, or rebuked him if he was bold, as he often was.