('What spirits she has!' exclaims Mrs Veneering; to whom likewise nobody attends.)
'And this,' pursues the sprightly one, 'is a Committee of the whole House to what-you-may-call-it--elicit, I suppose--the voice of Society. The question before the Committee is, whether a young man of very fair family, good appearance, and some talent, makes a fool or a wise man of himself in marrying a female waterman, turned factory girl.'
'Hardly so, I think,' the stubborn Mortimer strikes in. 'I take the question to be, whether such a man as you describe, Lady Tippins, does right or wrong in marrying a brave woman (I say nothing of her beauty), who has saved his life, with a wonderful energy and address; whom he knows to be virtuous, and possessed of remarkable qualities; whom he has long admired, and who is deeply attached to him.'
'But, excuse me,' says Podsnap, with his temper and his shirt-collar about equally rumpled; 'was this young woman ever a female waterman?'
'Never. But she sometimes rowed in a boat with her father, I believe.'
General sensation against the young woman. Brewer shakes his head. Boots shakes his head. Buffer shakes his head.
'And now, Mr Lightwood, was she ever,' pursues Podsnap, with his indignation rising high into those hair-brushes of his, 'a factory girl?'
'Never. But she had some employment in a paper mill, I believe.'
General sensation repeated. Brewer says, 'Oh dear!' Boots says, 'Oh dear!' Buffer says, 'Oh dear!' All, in a rumbling tone of protest.
'Then all I have to say is,' returns Podsnap, putting the thing away with his right arm, 'that my gorge rises against such a marriage--that it offends and disgusts me--that it makes me sick--and that I desire to know no more about it.'
('Now I wonder,' thinks Mortimer, amused, 'whether YOU are the Voice of Society!')
'Hear, hear, hear!' cries Lady Tippins. 'Your opinion of this MESALLIANCE, honourable colleagues of the honourable member who has just sat down?'
Mrs Podsnap is of opinion that in these matters there should be an equality of station and fortune, and that a man accustomed to Society should look out for a woman accustomed to Society and capable of bearing her part in it with--an ease and elegance of carriage--that.' Mrs Podsnap stops there, delicately intimating that every such man should look out for a fine woman as nearly resembling herself as he may hope to discover.
('Now I wonder,' thinks Mortimer, 'whether you are the Voice!')
Lady Tippins next canvasses the Contractor, of five hundred thousand power. It appears to this potentate, that what the man in question should have done, would have been, to buy the young woman a boat and a small annuity, and set her up for herself. These things are a question of beefsteaks and porter. You buy the young woman a boat. Very good. You buy her, at the same time, a small annuity. You speak of that annuity in pounds sterling, but it is in reality so many pounds of beefsteaks and so many pints of porter. On the one hand, the young woman has the boat. On the other hand, she consumes so many pounds of beefsteaks and so many pints of porter. Those beefsteaks and that porter are the fuel to that young woman's engine. She derives therefrom a certain amount of power to row the boat; that power will produce so much money; you add that to the small annuity; and thus you get at the young woman's income.