Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
Some of Mrs. Partington’s Opinions
By Benjamin Penhallow Shillaber (1814–1890)
[Born in Portsmouth, N. H., 1814. Died at Chelsea, Mass., 1890. Partingtonian Patchwork. 1873.]

“WHAT a label it is upon the character of Boston!” said Mrs. Partington, as she read a speech on the liquor bill that reflected on Boston. “There is no place where benevolence is so aperient as here. For my part I don’t know where so much is done for the suffering—and anybody can see it that can read—for how often we see ‘free lunch’ in the windows of our humane institutions. You never see sich things in the country, as much better as they think themselves.”
  Mrs. Partington paused, looking over the top of the paper at the country member, as though she were resting her gaze there preparatory to making another shot, while Ike sat on the floor, lathering the cat with raw custard.  2
  “Are you in favor of the prohibitive law, or the license law?” asked her opposite neighbor of the relict of P.P., corporal of the “Bloody ’Leventh.”  3
  She carefully weighed the question, as though she were selling snuff, and answered—  4
  “Sometimes I think I am, and then again I think I am not.”  5
  Her neighbor was perplexed, and repeated the question, varying it a little.  6
  “Have you seen the ‘Mrs. Partington Twilight Soap?’” she asked.  7
  “Yes,” was the reply; “everybody has seen that; but why?”  8
  “Because,” said the dame, “it has two sides to it, and it is hard to choose between ’em. Now, here are my two neighbors, contagious to me on both sides—one goes for probation, t’other for licentiousness; and I think the best thing for me is to keep nuisance.”  9
  She meant neutral, of course. The neighbor admired, and smiled, while Ike lay on the floor, with his legs in the air, trying to balance Mrs. Partington’s fancy waiter on his toe.  10
  “I’ve always noticed,” said Mrs. Partington on New Year’s Day, dropping her voice to the key that people adopt when they are disposed to be philosophical or moral; “I’ve always noticed that every year added to a man’s life is apt to make him older, just as a man who goes a journey finds, as he jogs on, that every mile he goes brings him nearer where he is going, and farther from where he started. I am not so young as I was once, and I don’t believe I shall ever be, if I live to the age of Samson, which, heaven knows as well as I do, I don’t want to, for I wouldn’t be a centurian or an octagon, and survive my factories, and become idiomatic, by any means. But then there is no knowing how a thing will turn out till it takes place; and we shall come to an end some day, though we may never live to see it.”  11
  “Mrs. Partington et als!” said Mrs. P., as Ike read an eulogistic notice of herself and retinue thus headed. “Is that so, Isaac?”  12
  “’Tain’t nothing else,” replied he, thrusting the cat’s head through the paper, which served as an elaborate choker.  13
  “Et als!” mused she. “I never ate als in my life that I know of, though there is so many dishes with new names that one might forget ’em all, unless he is an epicac.”  14
  She turned everything in her mind to remember what she had eaten,—her mind an oven full of turnovers.—but it refused to come to her; and she made a memorandum by tying a knot in her handkerchief, to call on the editor, and find out about it. Ike sat upon the leaf of the extension-table, swinging his feet beneath it, trying to make a tune out of the creak.  15

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