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ARE there any old ladies left, now-a-days?
The question may at first appear absurd; for,
by the returns of the last census we find
that seven per centum of the whole female
population were, four years since, widows;
and that, at the same period, there were in
Great Britain, three hundred and fifty-nine
thousand nine hundred and sixty-nine "old
maids" above the age of forty. Yet I repeat
my question, and am prepared to abide by
the consequences: Are there any old ladies
left, now-a-days?

Statistically of course, substantially even, old
ladies are as plentiful as of yore; but I seek
in vain for the old lady types of my youth; the
feminine antiquities that furnished forth my
juvenile British Museum. Every omnibus-
conductor has his old lady passengerpattens,
big basket, umbrella. The cabman knows the
old lady wellher accurate measurement of
mileage, her multitudinous packages, for which
she resists extra payment; her objections to
the uncleanliness of the straw and the dampness
of the cushion; her incessant use of the
checkstring and frequent employment of a
parasol handle, or, a key, dug into the small of
the driver's back as a means of attracting
his attention; her elaborate but contradictory
directions as to where she wishes to be
set down; and, finally, her awful threats
of fine, imprisonment, and treadmill should
the much-ill-used Ixion-at-sixpence-a-mile
offend her. No railway-train starts without
an old lady, who screams whenever the
whistle is sounded; groans in the tunnels; is
sure there is something the matter with the
engine; smuggles surreptitious poodles into
the carriage; calls for tea at stations where
there are no refreshment-rooms; summons
the guard to the door at odd times during
the journey, and tells him he ought to be
ashamed of himself, because the train is
seven minutes behind time; insists upon
having the window up or down at
precisely the wrong periods; scrunches the
boots of her opposite neighbour, or makes
short lunges into his waistcoat during
intempestine naps, and, should he
remonstrate, indulges in muttered soliloquies,
ending with, " One doesn't know who
one is travelling with, now-a-days; " and
carries a basket of provisions, from which
crumbs disseminate themselves unpleasantly
on all surrounding laps and knees and from
which the neck of a small black bottle
will peep: the cork being always mislaid
in the carriage, and causing
unspeakable agonies to the other passengers
in the efforts for its recovery. There
are old ladies at every theatre, who scream
hysterically when guns are discharged;
who, when the Blaze of Bliss in the Realms
of Dioramic Delight takes place, seem on
the point of crying "Fire! " and who persist
in sitting before you in huge bonnets,
apparently designed expressly to shut out
the dangerous seductions of the ballet.
Churches teem with old ladies-- from the old
ladies in the pews who knock down the
prayer-books during the " I publish the
banns of marriage," and turn over the mouldy
hassocks, blinding you with a cloud of
dust and straw-chips,—to the old ladies,
mouldier and dustier than the hassocks,
who open the pews, cough for sixpences, and
curtsey for shillings; and the very old
ladies who sit in the free seats, have fits
during the sermon, and paralysis all through
the service. There are old ladies in ships
upon the high seas who will speak to the
man at the wheel; in bad weather, moaningly
request to be thrown overboard and
block up the companion-laddermere
senseless bundles of sea-sick old-ladyism. There
is never a crowd without an old lady in it.
The old lady is at almost every butcher's shop,
at almost every grocer's retail establishment,
on Saturday nights. Every housemaid
knows an old lady who objected to ribbons,
counted the hearthstones, denounced
the " fellows " (comprising the police, the
household troops, and the assistants of the
butcher and grocer aforesaid), and denied
that the cat broke all the crockery at
her (the housemaid's) last place. Every
cook has been worretted dreadful, by the
old lady; every country parson knows her
and dreads her, for she interferes with the
discipline of the village school, and questions the
orthodoxy of his sermons. Every country
doctor is aware of, and is wroth with her; for
there is either always something the matter
with her, or else she persists in dosing, pilling,
and plastering other old ladies who have