The Project Gutenberg eBook, About London, by J. Ewing Ritchie

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Title: About London

Author: J. Ewing Ritchie

Release Date: June 11, 2010  [eBook #32773]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1860 William Tinsley edition by David Price, email





Author of “Night Side of London;” “The London Pulpit;”
“Here and There in London,” &c.


“The boiling town keeps secrets ill.”—Aurora Leigh.




The author of the following pages, must plead as his apology for again trespassing on the good nature of the public, the success of his other books.  He is aware that, owing to unavoidable circumstances, the volume here and there bears marks of haste, but he trusts that on the whole it may be considered reliable, and not altogether unworthy of the public favour.


      June 16th, 1860.




Newspaper People








About Coal








Tom Tiddler’s Ground




Westminster Abbey




London Charities








Over London Bridge




The House of Commons and the Early-Closing Movement




Town Morals




The same subject continued




London Matrimonial




Breach of Promise Cases




Commercial London




London Gents




The London Volunteers




Criminal London




Concerning Cabs




Free Drinking Fountains







What would the Englishman do without his newspaper I cannot imagine.  The sun might just as well refuse to shine, as the press refuse to turn out its myriads of newspapers.  Conversation would cease at once.  Brown, with his morning paper in his hand, has very decided opinions indeed,—can tell you what the French Emperor is about,—what the Pope will be compelled to do,—what is the aim of Sardinia,—and what is Austria’s little game.  I dined at Jenkins’s yesterday, and for three hours over the wine I was compelled to listen to what I had read in that morning’s Times.  The worst of it was, that when I joined the ladies I was no better off, as the dear creatures were full of the particulars of the grand Rifle Ball.  When I travel by the rail, I am gratified with details of divorce cases—of terrible accidents—of dreadful shipwrecks—of atrocious murders—p. 2of ingenious swindling, all brought to light by means of the press.  What people could have found to talk about before the invention of newspapers, is beyond my limited comprehension.  They must have been a dull set in those dark days; I suppose the farmers and country gentlemen talked of bullocks, and tradespeople about trade; the ladies about fashions, and cookery, and the plague of bad servants.  We are wonderfully smarter now, and shine, though it be with a borrowed light.

A daily newspaper is, to a man of my way of thinking, one of the most wonderful phenomena of these latter days.  It is a crown of glory to our land.  It is true, in some quarters, a contrary opinion is held.  “The press,” Mr. David Urquhart very seriously tells us, “is an invention for the development of original sin.”  In the opinion of that amiable cynic, the late Mr. Henry Drummond, a newspaper is but a medium for the circulation of gossip; but, in spite of individuals, the general fact remains that the press is not merely a wonderful organization, but an enormous power in any land—in ours most of all, where public opinion rules more or less directly.  Our army in the Crimea was saved by the Times.  When the Times turned, free-trade was carried.  The Times not long since made a panic, and securities became in some cases utterly unsaleable, and some seventy stockbrokers were ruined.  The Times says we don’t want a Reform Bill, and Lord John can scarce drag his measure through the Commons.  But it is not of the power, but of the organization of the press I would speak.  According p. 3to geologists, ages passed away before this earth of ours became fit for human habitation; volcanic agencies were previously to be in action—plants and animals, that exist not now, were to be born, and live, and die—tropical climates were to become temperate, and oceans, solid land.  In a similar way, the newspaper is the result of agencies and antecedents almost equally wondrous and remote.  For ages have science, and nature, and man been preparing its way.  Society had to become intellectual—letters had to be invented—types had to be formed—paper had to be substituted for papyrus—the printing-press had to become wedded to steam—the electric-telegraph had to be discovered, and the problem of liberty had to be solved, in a manner more or less satisfactory, before a newspaper, as we understand the word, could be; and that we have the fruit of all this laid on our breakfast-table every morning, for at the most five-pence, and at the least one-penny, is wonderful indeed.  But, instead of dwelling on manifest truisms, let us think awhile of a newspaper-office, and those who do business there.  Externally, there is nothing remarkable in a newspaper-office.  You pass by at night, and see many windows lighted with gas, that is all.  By daylight there is nothing to attract curiosity, indeed, in the early part of the day, there is little going on at a newspaper-office.  When you and I are hard at work, newspaper people are enjoying their night; when you and I are asleep, they are hard at work for us.  They have a hot-house appearance, and are rarely octogenarians.  p. 4The conscientious editor of a daily newspaper can never be free from anxiety.  He has enough to do to keep all to their post; he must see that the leader-writers are all up to the mark—that the reporters do their duty—that the literary critic, and the theatrical critic, and the musical critic, and the city correspondent, and the special reporter, and the host of nameless contributors, do not disappoint or deceive the public, and that every day the daily sheet shall have something in it to excite, or inform, or improve.  But while you and I are standing outside, the editor, in some remote suburb, is, it may be, dreaming of pleasanter things than politics and papers.  One man, however, is on the premises, and that is the manager.  He represents the proprietors, and is, in his sphere, as great a man as the editor.  It is well to be deferential to the manager.  He is a wonder in his way,—literary man, yet man of business.  He must know everybody, be able at a moment’s notice to pick the right man out, and send him, it may be, to the Antipodes.  Of all events that are to come off in the course of the year, unexpected or the reverse, he must have a clear and distinct perception, that he may have eye-witnesses there for the benefit of the British public.  He, too, must contrive, so that out-goings shall not exceed receipts, and that the paper pays.  He must be active, wide-awake, possessed of considerable tact, and if, when an Irish gentleman, with a big stick, calls and asks to see the editor or manager, he knows how to knock a man down, so much the better.  Of course, managers are not required for the smaller p. 5weeklies.  In some of the offices there is very little subdivision of labour.  The editor writes the leaders and reviews, and the sub-editor does the paste-and-scissors work.  But let us return to the daily paper;—outside of the office of which we have been so rude as to leave the reader standing all this while.

At present there is no sign of life.  It is true, already the postman has delivered innumerable letters from all quarters of the globe—that the electric telegraph has sent its messages—that the railways have brought their despatches—that the publishers have furnished books of all sorts and sizes for review—and that tickets from all the London exhibitions are soliciting a friendly notice.  There let them lie unheeded, till the coming man appears.  Even the publisher, who was here at five o’clock in the morning, has gone home: only a few clerks, connected with the financial department of the paper, or to receive advertisements, are on the spot.  We may suppose that somewhere between one and two the first editorial visit will be paid, and that then this chaos is reduced to order; and that the ideas, which are to be represented in the paper of to-morrow, are discussed, and the daily organs received, and gossip of all sorts from the clubs—from the house—from the city—collected and condensed; a little later perhaps assistants arrive—one to cull all the sweets from the provincial journals—another to look over the files of foreign papers—another it may be to translate important documents.  The great machine is now getting steadily at work.  Up in the p. 6composing-room are printers already fingering their types.

In the law-courts, a briefless barrister is taking notes—in the police-courts, reporters are at work, and far away in the city, “our city correspondent” is collecting the commercial news of the hour—and in all parts of London penny-a-liners, like eagles scenting carrion, are ferreting out for the particulars of the last “extraordinary elopement,” or “romantic suicide.”  The later it grows the more gigantic becomes the pressure.  The parliamentary reporters are now furnishing their quota; gentlemen who have been assisting at public-dinners come redolent of post-prandial eloquence, which has to be reduced to sense and grammar.  It is now midnight, and yet we have to wait the arrival of the close of the parliamentary debate, on which the editor must write a leader before he leaves; and the theatrical critic’s verdict on the new play.  In the meanwhile the foreman of the printers takes stock, being perfectly aware that he cannot perform the wonderful feat of making a pint bottle hold a quart.  Woe is me! he has already half a dozen columns in excess.  What is to be done?  Well, the literature must stand over, that’s very clear, then those translations from the French will do to-morrow, and this report will also not hurt by delay—as to the rest, that must be cut down and still further condensed; but quickly, for time is passing, and we must be on the machine at three.  Quickly fly the minutes—hotter becomes the gas-lit room—wearier the editorial p. 7staff.  But the hours bring relief.  The principal editor has done his leader and departed—the assistants have done the same—so have the reporters, only the sub-editor remains, and as daylight is glimmering in the east, and even fast London is asleep, he quietly lights a cigar, and likewise departs; the printers will follow as soon as the forms have gone down, and the movements below indicate that the machine, by the aid of steam, is printing.

We have thus seen most of the newspaper people off the premises.  As we go out into the open air, we may yet find a few of them scorning an ignoble repose.  For instance, there is a penny-a-liner—literally he is not a penny-a-liner, as he is generally paid three-farthings a line, and very good pay that is, as the same account, written on very thin paper, called flimsy, is left at all the newspaper-offices, which, if they all insert, they all pay for, and one short tale may put the penny-a-liner in funds for a week.  The penny-a-liner has long been the butt of a heartless world.  He ought to be a cynic, and I fear is but an indifferent Christian, and very so-so as head of a family.  His appearance is somewhat against him, and his antecedents are eccentric; his face has a beery appearance; his clothes are worn in defiance of fashion; neither his hat nor his boots would be considered by a swell as the correct stilton; you would scarce take him as the representative of the potent fourth estate.  Yet penny-a-liner’s rise; one of them is now the editor of a morning paper; another is the p. 8manager of a commercial establishment, with a salary of almost a thousand a year; but chiefly, I imagine, they are jolly good fellows going down the hill.  Charles Lamb said he never greatly cared for the society of what are called good people.  The penny-a-liners have a similar weakness; they are true Bohemians, and are prone to hear the chimes at midnight.  Literally, they take no thought for to-morrow, and occasionally are put to hard shifts.  Hence it is sub-editors have to be on their guard with their dealings with them.  Their powers of imagination and description are great.  They are prone to harrow up your souls with horrors that never existed; and as they are paid by the line, a harsh prosaic brevity is by no means their fault.  Occasionally they take in the papers.  Not long since a most extraordinary breach of promise case went the round of the evening papers, which was entirely a fiction of the penny-a-liners.  Yet let us not think disparagingly of them—of a daily newspaper no small part is the result of their diligent research.  And if they do occasionally indulge in fiction, their fictions are generally founded on fact.  The reader, if he be a wise man, will smile and pass on—a dull dog will take the matter seriously and make an ass of himself.  For instance, only this very year, there was a serious controversy about Disraeli’s literary piracies, as they were called in the Manchester Examiner.  It appears a paragraph was inserted in an obscure London journal giving an account of an evening party at Mr. Gladstone’s, at which Mr. Disraeli had been p. 9present—an event just as probable as that the Bishop of Oxford would take tea at Mr. Spurgeon’s.  Mr. Disraeli’s remarks were reported, and the paragraph—notwithstanding its glaring absurdity—was quoted in the Manchester Examiner.  Some acute reader remembered to have read a similar conversation attributed to Coleridge, and immediately wrote to the Examiner to that effect.  The letter was unhandsomely inserted with a bold heading,—several letters were inserted on the same subject, and hence, just because a poor penny-a-liner at his wits’ end doctored up a little par, and attributed a very old conversation to Mr. Disraeli, the latter is believed in Cottonopolis guilty of a piracy, Cottonopolis being all the more ready to believe this of Mr. Disraeli, as the latter gentleman is at the head of a party not supposed to be particularly attached to the doctrines of what are termed the Manchester School.  Really editors and correspondents should be up to these little dodges, and not believe all they see in print.

I would also speak of another class of newspaper people—the newspaper boy, agile as a lamp-lighter, sharp in his glances as a cat.  The newspaper boy is of all ages, from twelve to forty, but they are all alike, very disorderly, and very ardent politicians; and while they are waiting in the publishing-office for their papers they are prone to indulge in political gossip, after the manner of their betters at the west-end clubs.  On the trial of Bernard, the excitement among the newspaper boys was p. 10very great.  I heard some of them, on the last day of the trial, confess to having been too excited all that day to do anything; their admiration of the speech of Edwin James was intense.  A small enthusiast near me said to another, “That ere James is the fellow to work ’em; didn’t he pitch hin to the hemperor?”

“Yes,” said a sadder and wiser boy; “yes, he’s all werry well, but he’d a spoke on t’other side just as well if he’d been paid.”

“No; would he?”

“Yes, to be sure.”

“Well, that’s wot I call swindling.”

“No, it ain’t.  They does their best.  Them as pays you, you works for.”

Whether the explanation was satisfactory I can’t say, as the small boy’s master’s name was called, and he vanished with “two quire” on his youthful head.  But generally these small boys prefer wit to politics; they are much given to practical jokes at each other’s expense, and have no mercy for individual peculiarities.  Theirs is a hard life, from five in the morning, when the daily papers commence publishing, to seven in the evening, when the second edition of the Sun with the Gazette appears.  What becomes of them when they cease to be newspaper boys, must be left to conjecture.  Surely such riotous youths can never become tradesmen in a small way, retailers of greens, itinerant dealers in coal.  Do not offend these gentry if you are a newspaper proprietor.  Their power for mischief is great.  At the Illustrated p. 11News office I have seen a policeman required to reduce them to order.

Finally, of all newspaper people, high or low, let me ask the public to speak charitably.  They are hard-worked, they are not over-paid, and some of them die prematurely old.  Ten years of night-work in the office of a daily newspaper is enough to kill any man, even if he has the constitution of a horse; one can’t get on without them; and it is a sad day for his family when Paterfamilias misses his paper.  Whigs, tories, prelates, princes, valiant warriors, and great lawyers, are not so essential to the daily weal of the public, as newspaper people.  In other ways they are useful—the great British naturalist, Mr. Yarell, was a newspaper vendor.


In the Morning Star, a few months since, appeared a letter from William Howitt, intimating that if the religious public wished to hear a man truly eloquent and religious, a Christian and a genius, they could not do better than go and hear the Rev. Mr. Harris.  Accordingly, one Sunday in January, we found ourselves part of a respectable congregation, chiefly males, assembled to hear the gentleman aforesaid.  The place of meeting was the Music Hall, Store-street; the reverend gentleman occupying the platform, and the audience filling up the rest of the room.  It is difficult to judge of numbers, but there must have been four or five hundred persons present.  Mr. Harris evidently is an American, is, we should imagine, between thirty and forty, and with his low black eye-brows, and black beard, and sallow countenance, has not a very prepossessing appearance.  He had very much of the conventional idea of the methodist parson.  I do not by this imply that the conventional idea is correct, but simply that we have such a conventional idea, and that Mr. Harris answers to it.  As I p. 13have intimated that I believe Mr. Harris is an American, I need not add that he is thin, and that his figure is of moderate height.  The subject on which he preached was the axe being laid at the foot of the tree, and at considerable length—the sermon lasted more than an hour—the reverend gentleman endeavoured to show that men lived as God was in them, and that we were not to judge from a few outward signs that God was in them, and, as instances of men filled and inspired by God’s Spirit, we had our Saxon Alfred, Oliver Cromwell, and Florence Nightingale.  In the prayer and sermon of the preacher there was very little to indicate that he was preaching a new gospel.  The principal thing about him was his action, which, in some respects, resembled that of the great American Temperance orator, Mr. Gough.  Mr. Harris endeavours as much as possible to dramatise his sermon.  He stands on tiptoe, or he sinks down into his desk, he points his finger, and shrugs up his shoulders.  He has a considerable share of poetical and oratorical power, but he does not give you an idea of much literary culture.  He does not bear you away “far, far above this lower world, up where eternal ages roll.”  You find that it was scarce worth while coming all the way from New York to London, unless the Rev. Gentleman has much more to say, and in a better manner, than the sermon delivered in Store-street.  Of course I am not a Spiritualist.  I am one of the profane—I am little better than one of the wicked, though I, and all men who are not beasts, feel that man is spirit as well as p. 14flesh; that he is made in the image of his Maker; that the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding.  Spiritualism in this sense is old as Adam and Eve, old as the day when Jehovah, resting from his labours, pronounced them to be good.  But this is not the Spiritualism of Mr. Harris, and of the organ of his denomination, The Spiritual Magazine.  That spirits appear to us—that they move tables—that they express their meaning by knocks, form the great distinctive peculiarity of Spiritualism, and they are things which people in our days are many of them more and more beginning to believe.  At any rate the Spiritualists of the new school ought not to be angry with us.  Mr. Howitt writes, “Moles don’t believe in eagles, nor even skylarks; they believe in the solid earth and earth-worms;—things which soar up into the air, and look full at the noon sun, and perch on the tops of mountains, and see wide prospect of the earth and air, of men and things, are utterly incomprehensible, and therefore don’t exist, to moles.  Things which, like skylarks, mount also in the air, to bathe their tremulous pinions in the living æther, and in the floods of golden sunshine, and behold the earth beneath; the more green, and soft, and beautiful, because they see the heavens above them, and pour out exulting melodies which are the fruits and streaming delights of and in these things, are equally incomprehensible to moles, which, having only eyes of the size of pins’ heads, and no ears that ordinary eyes can discover, neither can see the face of heaven, nor hear the music p. 15of the spheres, nor any other music.  Learned pigs don’t believe in pneumatology, nor in astronomy, but in gastronomy.  They believe in troughs, pig-nuts, and substantial potatoes.  Learned pigs see the wind, or have credit for it—but that other Πνευμα, which we translate Spirit, they most learnedly ignore.  Moles and learned pigs were contemporaries of Adam, and have existed in all ages, and, therefore, they know that there are no such things as eagles, or skylarks and their songs; no suns, skies, heavens, and their orbs, or even such sublunary objects as those we call men and things.  They know that there is nothing real, and that there are no genuine entities, but comfortable dark burrows, earthworms, pig-troughs, pig-nuts, potatoes, and the like substantials.”  If this be so,—and Mr. Howitt is an old man and ought to know, especially when he says there are not in London at this time half-a-dozen literary or scientific men who, had they lived in Christ’s time, would have believed in him—well, there is no hope for us.  Spiritualism is beyond our reach; it is a thing too bright for us.  It is high, we cannot attain unto it.  The other Sunday night, Mr. Harris was very spiritual, at any rate, very impractical and unworldly.  At the close of the service he informed us that some few of his sermons, containing an outline of his religious convictions, were for sale at the doors, and would be sold at one penny and a half, a mere insignificant sum, just sufficient to cover the expense of paper and printing.  On inquiring, we found, of the three sermons, one was p. 16published at three-halfpence, one at twopence, and one at fourpence, prices which, if we may judge by the copy we purchased, would yield a fair profit, if the sale were as great as it seemed to be on Sunday night.

But Mr. Harris is a poet—there is not such another in the universe.  The Golden Age opens thus:—

“As many ages as it took to form
The world, it takes to form the human race.
Humanity was injured at its birth,
And its existence in the past has been
That of a suffering infant.  God through Christ
Appearing, healed that sickness, pouring down
Interior life: so Christ our Lord became
The second Adam, through whom all shall live.
This is our faith.  The world shall yet become
The home of that great second Adam’s seed;
Christ-forms, both male and female, who from Him
Derive their ever-growing perfectness,
Eventually shall possess the earth,
And speak the rythmic language of the skies,
And mightier miracles than His perform;
They shall remove all sickness from the race,
Cast out all devils from the church and state,
And hurl into oblivion’s hollow sea
The mountains of depravity.  Then earth,
From the Antarctic to the Arctic Pole,
Shall blush with flowers; the isles and continents
Teem with harmonic forms of bird and beast,
And fruit, and glogious shapes of art more fair
Than man’s imagination yet conceived,
Adorn the stately temples of a new
Divine religion.  Every human soul
p. 17A second Adam, and a second Eve,
Shall dwell with its pure counterpart, conjoined
In sacramental marriage of the heart.
God shall be everywhere, and not, as now,
Guessed at, but apprehended, felt and known.”—p. 1.

I will take, says Mr. Howitt, as a fair specimen of the poetry and broad Christian philosophy of this spiritual epic, the recipe for writing a poem.  In this, we see how far the requirements of Spiritualism are beyond the standard of the requirements of the world in poetry.  They include the widest gatherings of knowledge, and still wider and loftier virtues and sympathies.

“To write a poem, man should be as pure
As frost-flowers; every thought should be in tune
To heavenly truth, and Nature’s perfect law,
Bathing the soul in beauty, joy, and peace.
His heart should ripen like the purple grape;
His country should be all the universe;
His friends the best and wisest of all time.
He should be universal as the light,
And rich as summer in ripe-fruited love.
He should have power to draw from common things
Essential truth!—and, rising o’er all fear
Of papal devils and of pagan gods,
Of ancient Satans, and of modern ghosts,
Should recognise all spirits as his friends,
And see the worst but harps of golden strings
Discordant now, but destined at the last
To thrill, inspired with God’s own harmony,
And make sweet music with the heavenly host.
p. 18He should forget his private preference
Of country or religion, and should see
All parties and all creeds with equal eye;
His the religion of true harmony;
Christ the ideal of his lofty aim;
The viewless Friend, the Comforter, and Guide,
The joy in grief, whose every element
Of life received in child-like faith,
Becomes a part of impulse, feeling, thought—
The central fire that lights his being’s sun.
He should not limit Nature by the known;
Nor limit God by what is known of him;
Nor limit man by present states and moods;
But see mankind at liberty to draw
Into their lives all Nature’s wealth, and all
Harmonious essences of life from God,
And so, becoming god-like in their souls,
And universal in their faculties,
Informing all their age, enriching time,
And blinding up the temple of the world
With massive structures of eternity.
He shall not fail to see how infinite
God is above humanity, nor yet
That God is throned in universal man,
The greater mind of pure intelligence,
Unlimited by states, moods, periods, creeds,
Self-adequate, self-balanced in his love,
And needing nothing and conferring all,
And asking nothing and receiving all,
Akin by love to every loving heart,
By nobleness to every noble mind,
By truth to all who look through natural forms,
And feel the throbbing arteries of law
In every pulse of nature and of man.”

p. 19The peculiar doctrine of the Spiritualists seems to be the belief in Spiritual intercourse, and in mediums; as The Spiritual Magazine tells us “the only media we know accessible to the public are Mrs. Marshal and her niece, of 22, Red Lion-street, Holborn,” we need not give ourselves much trouble about them.  Concerning intercourse with departed spirits, an American Judge writes, “The first thing demonstrated to us is that we can commune with the spirits of the departed; that such communion is through the instrumentality of persons yet living; that the fact of mediumship is the result of physical organization; that the kind of communion is affected by moral causes, and that the power, like our other faculties, is possessed in different degrees, and is capable of improvement by cultivation,” and from this doctrine the believers gather comfortable assurances.  The Judge adds, “These things being established, by means which show a settled purpose and an intelligent design, they demonstrate man’s immortality, and that in the simplest way, by appeals alike to his reason, to his affections, and to his senses.  They thus show that they whom we once knew as living on earth do yet live, after having passed the gates of death, and leave in our minds the irresistible conclusion, that if they thus live we shall.  This task Spiritualism has already performed on its thousands and its tens of thousands—more, indeed, in the last ten years than by all the pulpits in the land—and still the work goes bravely on.  God speed it; for it is doing what man’s unaided reason has for ages tried p. 20in vain to do, and what, in this age of infidelity, seemed impossible to accomplish.  Thus, too, is confirmed to us the Christian religion, which so many have questioned or denied.  Not, indeed, that which sectarianism gives us, nor that which descends to us from the dark ages, corrupted by selfishness or distorted by ignorance, but that which was proclaimed through the spiritualism of Jesus of Nazareth in the simple injunction—‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment; and the second is like unto it—Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’”

In the case of Mr. Harris, it seems to us, he lays his stress upon these peculiar doctrines, and rather aims at a universal Christianity; in all sects he sees goodness, and he would combine them all into his own.  He and his disciples have found what all the rest are seeking after.  His Christianity is the faith which all good spirits own, which all angels reverence.  Christ came to reveal this faith: the whole world is but an expression of it; the whole universe but an illustration of it; and as we become Christ-like, in the renunciation of self, and the acceptance of the great law of service in the Lord and to the Lord, more and more we attain to an internal perception of the verities of that faith.  The Word is opened before us, and the natural universe is perceived to be its outward illustration.  The new church takes its stand upon this fundamental doctrine of regeneration, and it is p. 21to the putting forth of this in art, science, literature, poetry, preaching, in all the uses of an ordered life, that the energy of the true churchman is continually, in the Divine Providence, directed.  And to those thus regenerated it is given to become mediums.  Mr. Harris, in his sermon preached at the Marylebone Literary and Scientific Institution, May 29, 1859, says: “Any man, good or bad, can become a medium for spirits.  I have seen the vilest and the most degraded made the organs through which spirits utterly lost, yet with something of the beams of the fallen archangel’s faded brightness lingering in the intellect—I say I have seen such, as well as others, earnest, sincere, and worthy, become the organs of communication between the visible and invisible spirits.  But no man can become a medium, an organ or oracle for the Spirit, for the Word made flesh, giving to every man according to his will, until he hath passed through the door of penitence—until he hath gone up through the gateway of a sincere conversion, or turning from his evil—until he hath consecrated himself to the great law of right—until he hath voluntarily taken up all the burdens which God in his providence, whether social, or domestic, or moral, has imposed upon him—until, at any cost or any hazard, he hath sought to do, in his daily life, those things which God in His word doth most authoritatively and continually command.  All such may, all such do, become, all such are, the mediums of the Lord Christ, omnipotent, omnipresent, and eternal, walking, as the Divine Man, in the midst of the paradise p. 22of the angels.  Breathing forth His breath, and so vivifying the very air which the angels respire and live, He breathes down that great aura upon us continually.  In prayer, and in the good self-sacrificing life, we drink in that aura.  The breath of God inflows into the lungs; the thought of God streams into consciousness; the energies of God are directed to the will; man, weak, becomes strong; man, ignorant, becomes wise; man, narrow, becomes broad; man, sectarian, becomes catholic and liberal; man, self-conceited, becomes reverent and humble; man, transformed from the image of the tiger, the ape, the serpent, takes upon himself, in Christ, the angels’ image.  And as we drink in more and more of this Divine Spirit, our path in life—the path of humble uses (not the path of self-seeking ambition; not the path of prying curiosity), groweth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.”


I am sitting by my sea-coal fire, and, from the clear way in which it burns, and the peculiarly pleasant warmth it seems to give out, I have every reason to believe that the thermometer is below the freezing point, that the ground is hard as iron, and that before to-morrow’s sun rises, Jack Frost will not only have lavishly strewn the earth with pearls, but have sketched fairy landscapes innumerable on my window-panes.  Ah, well, it matters little to me:

“The storm without might rain and ristle,
Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.”

The respected partner of my joys and sorrows has retired to roost, far away in the nursery the maternal pledges of our affection have done ditto.  Unless an amorous member of that inestimable class of public servants—the metropolitan police—be at this moment engaged in a furtive flirtation with the cook, I have no reason to believe that, beside myself, any of my limited establishment is awake.  My boots are off—I have an old coat on—I have done my day’s work—I don’t owe p. 24anybody any money (the reader need not believe this)—I poke the fire—I light a cigar—and think there is nothing like a good fire after all.

I am thankful I am not in Paris now: I take down my French Pocket Dictionary, published by Orr in 1850, and cannot find the French for fire-place; I find firearms, fire-ball, fire-brand, fire-brush, fire-cross, fire-lock, but no fire-place.  Ah, here it is (fire-side, foyer—substantive, masculine); but, to make quite sure, I turn to the French-English, and I turn up foyer there; and, here, I find it means, “heat, tiring-room, green-room,” and so on.  Well, am I not right? there is nothing like an English fire-place after all.  The Germans are not much better off than the French; the German porcelain stove, for instance, standing in the middle of the room, like a monument, and nearly filling it, is not for a second to be compared with a jolly English fire; besides, it is very dangerous, and, when the flue gets stopped is, I was going to write, as great a murderer as a medical man.  Can I ever forget how when I lived in the Kirchen Strasse of a far-famed and delightful city, distant about 700 miles from where I write, how one morning I came down-stairs to have my frühstück, and how, in the very middle of my meal, I felt an uncomfortable sensation, as a gigantic Dane was reading to me a memorial he was about to address to the British government?  May I tell the reader how at first I thought the document to which I have referred might have something to do with it?  Will he forgive me, if I narrate how, at length, I gradually p. 25came to the conclusion that the cause was in the atmosphere, which seemed to be splitting my head, and swelling out my body to the point of bursting? can he imagine my deplorable situation when I became insensible, and when I recovered consciousness found that I had been poisoned by the fumes of charcoal, and that I should then and there have shuffled off this mortal coil, had not my Danish friend, for a wonder, lifted up his eyes from his precious document, and, seeing me go off, thrown open the window, and, in a polyglottic way, called for help?  Truly, then, may I say, that, for comfort, and for safety, and for warmth, if you can have it pretty nearly all to yourself, and do one side thoroughly first before you roast the other, there is nothing like an English fireplace in the world.

Woe is me! the present generation,—a generation most assuredly wise in its own eyes, can never know what I, and others verging on forty, know—the real luxury of an English fire after travelling all night as an outside passenger on the top, say, for instance, of the Royal London and Yarmouth mail.  Pardon my emotion, but I must shut my eyes, and endeavour to recall the past.  It is six o’clock on a night cold as that in which I now write; I am at the ancient hostelry, now gone to the dogs, known as the White Horse, Fetter Lane, on the top of the mail aforesaid.  The many-caped coachman, has clambered up into his seat; I sit by his side, perched somewhat like a mummy; outside and in we are full of passengers.  The red-coated guard blows p. 26cheerily on the far-resounding horn.  “Let them go,” says the coachman, and four faultless greys, impatient of restraint, rush forth with their living load: in a twinkling we stoop under the ancient gateway, and turn into Fetter Lane; now we cautiously descend Holborn Hill, skilfully we are steered through Cheapside, past the Mansion House, through Cornhill, along dark and sullen Leadenhall, Whitechapel, all glaring with gas and butcher’s meat; our driver gives the horses their heads, and our pace becomes pleasant.  We pass Bow Church, and the bridge at Stratford, and now we have left the gaslights far behind, above us is the grand dome of heaven studded with its myriads of stars.  Hedge and field far and near are covered with a mantle of virgin snow.  The traffic on the road has trodden it into firmness, and on we speed till we reach Romford, not then as now known all over London for its ales.  I believe these ales are the occasion of an anecdote, which I may here repeat:—Two friends went into a public-house and were regaled plentifully with them, but not finding them so strong as they wished were much disgusted, and rose to go; however, they had not gone far before the ale began to tell; one traveller soon found himself in a ditch on one side of the road, while his friend was prostrate in another.  “Holloa,” said the one to the other, “that ale war’nt so bad as I thought.”  “No, no,” was the reply of his now apparently-satisfied friend.  But here we are at Romford.  Fresh cattle are standing ready to take the place of the four who have gallantly drawn us hither.  But there is p. 27time to jump down, and “have a drop of summut short,” to catch a glimpse from the most glorious of fires, and to feel for the buxom landlady, and her clean and rosy-cheeked Hebes, very strong feelings of personal regard.  “All ready,” cries the ostler, and away we rush from this fairy land, as it seems to us, out into the cold dark night; the guard blows his horn; curtains are drawn on one side as we pass, that, out of warm rooms, curious eyes may look on us.  The pikekeeper bids us, for him, an unusually cheerful good-night, and by this time some of the old pilots returning to Southwold, or Lowestoft, or Yarmouth, after having been with vessels up the Thames, cheered by the contents of various libations, wake the dull ear of night with songs occasionally amatory, but chiefly of a nautical character; and if there is a chorus,—why, we can all join in that; are we not jolly companions, every one?  Does not this beat railway travelling?  “I believe you, my boys.”  I say the present race of men have no conception of this.  Why, look at a London omnibus; for nine months out of the twelve a cockney can’t ride, even from the Bank to Pimlico, without getting inside.  A friend of mine, one of the good old sort, rides into town winter and summer outside a distance of about nine miles.  “Of course you wear a respirator,” said a young cockney to him.  My friend only laughed.  When the Royal Yarmouth Mail ran its gay career, there were no respirators then.  What if the night were cold—what if snow laid heavily on the ground—what if railway rugs were not; did we not sit p. 28close together and keep each other warm—did we not smoke the most fragrant of weeds—did we not, while the coach changed horses, jump down, and, rushing into the cosiest of bar-parlours (forgive us, J. B. Gough), swallow brandy-and-water till our faces were as scarlet peonies, and we tingled, down to the very soles of our feet, with an unwonted heat?  A coal fire then was a sight to cheer the cockles of one’s heart, to look forward to for one long stage, and to think of for another.  But times change, and we with them.  The other day I met one of our mail-coachmen ingloriously driving a two-pair buss between the City and Norwood; he looked down at his horses and then up at us with an expression Robson might have envied.  Let me return to coal.  Gentle reader, did you ever go down a coal-pit?—I once did, and I think, with Sheridan, it is hardly worth while going down one, when you might just as well say you had been.  I was a stranger then to coal-pits and collieries, rather greener then than I am now, and had on a bran-new suit of clothes and patent-leather boots, and thus accoutred I was let down into the bowels of the earth, wandered along little ways in beds of coal, past little nooks where black men were at work, or resting on lumps of coal dining on bread-and-bacon, and drinking cold tea; and then there were tramways, and horses drawing the coal to the mouth of the pit, and boys to drive the horses, and boys to hold lamps, and all around you was black coal, save where it shone with the reflection of your light, and beneath you trod in mud, all made of coal-dust and water, of a p. 29character to ruin patent-leather for ever.  I was not sorry, I assure you, when I left the lower regions, and was hauled up to the light of day.  Once upon a time, an exciseman at Merthyr Tydvil was overcome by liquor (for excisemen are but men) and fell asleep.  Excisemen are not generally a very popular class of Her Majesty’s subjects, and there are many who owe them a grudge.  This was the case with our hero.  Accordingly, the enemy, in the shape of half-a-dozen dusky colliers, made their appearance, and deposited their unconscious prize,

“Full many a fathom deep,”

as Mr. Campbell says, in a coal pit.  Alas! the inspiration of wine is but short-lived.  From his glorious dreams of marble halls the exciseman awoke; wonderingly he opened his eyes and looked around.  Where was he?  To what dark and dolorous shades had he been conveyed?  That conscience which does make cowards of us all answered the question:—he had been for his sins conveyed to that fearful locality which a popular clergyman once told his hearers he would not shock their feelings by naming in so well-bred and respectable an assembly; there he was, far away from the light of the sun and the haunts of men.  Everything around him was dark and drear.  At length a faint glimmer of light appeared in the distance.  It came nearer and nearer, by its light he saw a form he thought resembled the human, but of that he was not quite sure.  The exciseman felt with Hamlet:

p. 30“Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned.
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou comest in such a questionable shape
That I will speak to thee.”

Accordingly he spoke, and very naturally asked the new-corner, “Who are you?”  “Why, I was when I lived on earth an exciseman, but now I am—”  “You don’t say so,” exclaimed the interrogator, as sober as he ever was in his life.  But the joke had now been carried far enough, and the exciseman gladly returned to the light of day, and the society of his fellow-man.

A coal pit, or rather a coal country, such as that you see around Merthyr Tydvil, or as you speed on by the Great Northern to Newcastle, does not give you a bad idea of Pandemonium.  A coal pit is generally situated by the side of some bleak hill where there are but few signs of life.  A cloud of smoke from the engine, or engines, hangs heavily all round.  The workmen, of whom there may be hundreds, with the exception of a few boys, who stand at the mouth of the pit to unload the coal waggons as they come up, or to run them into the tram-road that connects them with the neighbouring railroad, or canal, are all under-ground.  If you descend, a lighted candle is put into your hand, and you must grope your way as best you can.  If the vein of coal be a pretty good one you will be able to walk comfortably without much trouble, but you must mind and not be run over by the coal waggons always p. 31passing along.  As you proceed you will observe numerous passages on each side which lead to the stalls in which the men work, and hard work it is, I can assure you: a great block is first undermined, and then cut out by wedges driven into the solid coal; I believe the work is chiefly contracted for at so much a ton.  In these little stalls the men sit, and dine, and smoke.  Little else is to be seen in a coal pit.  There are doors by which the air is forced along the different passages; there are engines by which the water is drained off; there is constant communication between the upper and the lower world, all going on with a methodical exactness which can only be violated with loss of life.  Let the engines cease, and possibly in a couple of hours the pit may be filled with water.  Let a workman, as is too often the case, enter his stall with a candle instead of with a safety lamp, and an explosion may occur which may be attended with the loss of many lives; but the rule is care and regularity, each man doing his part in a general whole.  The mortality in coal mining is still unusually great.  It is ascertained that of the total number of 220,000 persons employed as colliers, 1000 are killed annually—that is to say, the poor collier has 1000 more chances of being killed at his work than any one of the whole travelling public has of being killed or injured on English railways.  Dr. Philip Holland read a paper on the subject at a recent meeting of the Society of Arts.  He stated that out of 8015 deaths by accidents in eight years, 1984 (or about one-fourth) were caused by explosions.  p. 32Remarkable it is, that in the northern counties of Durham and Northumberland (in which one-fourth of the coal is raised, and one-fifth of the collier population employed) the average deaths per annum from explosions do not exceed 21 out of 248; and as the average of such deaths for the whole country, including the Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Staffordshire districts, is 105, so 143 lives yearly are lost because the precautions against explosion proved to be effectual in the extreme north are neglected in all the other districts.  Equally remarkable it is that falls of roof have caused nearly 1000 more deaths in the eight years than explosions, although the latter chiefly excite public feeling.  Here, again, the extreme northern district affords a gratifying contrast with the others, as, out of an average of 371 such accidents yearly, only 49 occur there.  It is suggested that the comparative immunity of the north from this cause of accident is attributable to the fact, that one man in six belongs to the safety staff, who are charged with the superintendence of ventilation, road, and prop making, &c.  In other parts no such person is employed, and the men in their anxiety to get coal neglect these salutary means of safety.  The next greatest number of fatal accidents occurs in the shafts, 1734 in the eight years.  Here, again, the cautious north exhibits its superiority, its proportion of fatalities from this source not being more than a fifth part of the proportion throughout the country.  Other fatalities there are, principally the result of bad discipline, the p. 33employment of too large a proportion of boys under fifteen years, the use of machinery where hand-pulling would be preferable, the narrowness of the galleries, and such like.  Dr. Holland notices that the system of government inspection has, in the southern coal districts, led to the discontinuance of the services of “viewers,” or mine engineers, to direct the operations, which it never was intended to do.  Either these viewers must, as a rule, be reinstated, or the government system of inspection must be enormously increased.  Among the means suggested to prevent accidents is that of making the coal owner civilly responsible for accidents caused by the obvious neglect of reasonable precautions in the working.  In the course of the discussion which followed, it was urged that the workers should no more be exempted from the penal consequences of neglect than the employers.

Fancy—I can do it easily, over my sea-coal fire—fancy the coal dug out of the pit, put into a waggon, that waggon put on a railway—travelling, it may be, some distance, and depositing its precious burden in a collier’s hold; imagine this collier put to sea, and safely arrived in the Thames.  As Mr. Cobden said, “What next, and next?”  Here a new agency comes into play, the coal cannot come right to my fire.  We leave the collier at Gravesend and land, let us say, at Billingsgate—never mind the fish, nor the porters, nor the fair dealers in marine products.  Come right away into Thames Street—cross it if you can, for this street, of p. 34all London streets, bears away the palm for being blocked up at all times and seasons, and this morning there has been a block lasting a couple of hours; but the people here are used to it, and do not think it worth while to have recourse to hard words, nor to repeat sounds very much like oaths, nor to grow red in the face and threaten each other, as is the case with the angry Jehus of Cheapside and Holborn Hill.  We enter a handsome building by a semi-circular portico, with Roman Doric columns, and a tower 106 feet high.  A beadle in magnificent livery, and of an unusually civil character—for beadledom is generally a terror to our species—meets us.  We wish to see our friend; right into the middle of a busy group of coal dealers and factors the beadle rushes, and repeats the name of our friend; up one story, and then another, and then another, the sound ascends; our friend hears it, and, rapidly descending, gives us a welcome as warm as his own fire-side.  We begin our voyage of discovery:—first we descend and examine a Roman well, in excellent preservation, discovered in excavating the foundation of the new building.  The water looks thick and muddy, but they tell you it is clear: but the fact that it ebbs and flows seems to connect it with the Thames; and Thames water, when taken opposite Billingsgate, is not generally considered clear.  We again ascend to the ground-floor, which is a rotunda sixty feet in diameter, covered by a glazed dome seventy-four feet from the floor.  This circular p. 35hall has three tiers of projecting galleries running round it; the floor is composed of 4000 pieces of inlaid wood, in the form of a mariner’s compass; in the centre is the city shield, anchor, &c., the dagger blade in the arms being a piece of mulberry tree, planted by Peter the Great when he worked as a shipwright in Deptford Dockyard.  The place is worth coming to see—country cousins ought to look at it; the entrance vestibule, Mr. Timbs, in his “Curiosities of London,” informs us, is richly embellished with vases of fruit, arabesque foliage, terminal figures, &c.  In the rotunda, between the Raphaelesque scroll-supports, are panels painted with impersonations of the coal-bearing rivers of England—the Thames, Mersey, Severn, Trent, Humber, Aire, Tyne, &c.: and above them, within flower borders, are figures of Wisdom, Fortitude, Vigilance, Temperance, Perseverance, Watchfulness, Justice, and Faith.  The arabesques in the first story are views of coal mines—Wallsend, Percy, Pit Main, Regent’s Pit, &c.  The second and third storey panels are painted with miners at work; and the twenty-four ovals at the springing of the dome have, upon a turquoise blue ground, figures of fossil plants found in coal formations.  The minor ornamentation is flowers, shells, snakes, lizards, and other reptiles, miners’ tools and nautical subjects;—there you can see all the process of coal mining, without troubling yourself to go down a mine, and in a small museum, too small for such a grand building and such a wealthy trade, curious specimens p. 36of fossil products and coal will make the observer still more learned; but let us look at the living mass beneath.  Some of the men below are famous city names.  There sometimes you may see Sir James Duke, who came to London a clerk, poor and under-paid, on board a man-of-war, and who on this Coal Exchange has made a colossal fortune, and who was made a baronet, he being at the time Lord Mayor, when the New Exchange was opened by Prince Albert, on the 29th Oct., 1849, accompanied by the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal.  Here oftener you may see Hugh Taylor, M.P., who began life as a cabin-boy, then became a captain, then was developed into a coal-owner, and who is said to be a perfect Midas, and possesses an art, very much, thought of by city people, of turning everything he touches into gold.  On a door just below where we stand is inscribed the name of Lord Ward, for even noblemen don’t mind sullying their fingers with vulgar trade, if anything is to be made by it.  And there is the name of a Welsh coal-owner, who, some fifty years back, was a clerk in a certain timber merchant’s, at a guinea a week, and who now, I believe, can raise and ship a couple of thousand tons of coal a day.  Depend upon it there is some money made by these black diamonds, and the corporation of London know it, for they have managed to get a tax levied of one penny on every ton of coals, whether brought by sea or rail within thirty miles of where we stand.  What they do with the p. 37enormous sum thus collected it is impossible to say; it is true they built this handsome Exchange, at a cost altogether of £91,167. 11s. 8d., but that is a small part of their receipts.  When the tax was first levied it did not much matter; about the year 1550 one or two ships sufficed for the coal trade of London.  On Friday, December 2nd, 1859, the number of ships with cargoes for sale on that day was not less than 340—and on an average each ship employed in the coal trade carries 300 tons of coal.  In the month of October alone there were brought into the London markets 283,849 tons by sea, and by rail 95,195 tons and three-quarters.  Of course in winter time the trade is very brisk.  The retail dealers in the metropolis will tell you that a few cold days make an enormous difference in the sale of coals, and the large dealers are driven to their wits’ end as to how they can find enough waggons and horses to enable them to supply their customers.  In the large coal-yards in the winter time the men are at work from five in the morning till late, very late, at night.  I am thankful for their industry, I hope they are well paid.

But I have not yet said how the business at the Coal Exchange is carried on.  There are two classes of men connected with the place,—the factors, who have a handsomely furnished room up above, and who elect each other by ballot,—and the merchants, who have a room below, to which they pay so much a year, and to the use of which they also are elected by ballot.  On p. 38the topmost story of all are the offices of the gentlemen who collect the city dues, and render themselves useful in similar ways.  When the colliers arrive at Gravesend, a messenger is sent up with their names and the number of coals on board, and so on.  Each ship is consigned to a London factor, and in the official room is a large case full of pigeon-holes, in which the papers for each factor are deposited; these papers are collected by the factor’s clerks, and with these the factor goes into the market to sell; for if he does not sell—unless the charter party permit him to wait for a second market day—he has to pay a demurrage of three-halfpence a ton, a demurrage, however, often submitted to rather than the coals should be sold at a loss of a shilling per ton.  A bell rings at twelve, and all at once you see, by the sudden apparition of merchants and factors from the surrounding offices, that business has commenced; however, little is done till towards the close at two, the factors till then holding out for high prices, and the merchants holding back.  I may add that there is very little speculation in this trade, all is fair and above-board.  In the rooms of the factors, as well as of the merchants, is a daily list of what vessels have arrived at Gravesend, with what amount of cargo, and what vessels are on their way, and how many are going up to the north in ballast; thus the buyer knows as much about the state of the trade as the seller—and as he thinks the factor must sell before the market is over, he waits till the very last before he concludes his bargain.  At the end of the market, when there is a p. 39heavy sale, people get a little excited.  They are also rather more numerous and noisy than when you first entered, and, besides the regular dealers, a good many others are present: sailors out of curiosity, captains who want to know who are the purchasers of their coals, and where they are to deliver them to; general dealers, who do not belong either to the Factor’s Society or that of the Coal Merchants’; and here and there a lady may be seen gazing with curious eyes on the groups below.  When the sales are effected, the broker pays the city dues—for bulk must not be broken till then under a penalty of five hundred pounds—and a gentleman attests the purchases, and publishes them in a list, sent that evening to all subscribers as the real authenticated state of the markets for that day.  I may as well say that the market-days are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  By way of compendium, I add, that the price of coals, as given in the daily newspapers, is the price up to the time when the coals are whipped from the ship to the merchants’ barges.  It includes, 1st, the value of the coals at the pit’s mouth; 2nd, the expense of transit from the pit to the ship; 3rd, the freight of the ship to London; 4th, the dues; and 5th, the whipping.  The public then has to pay, 6th, the merchant for taking it to his wharf and keeping it there, and his profit; and, 7th, the retailer for fetching it from the merchant’s, and bringing it to their doors.  Of course you may save something by going at once to the merchant’s.  The poor cannot do this, and have to pay p. 40an extra price on this, as on almost everything they consume.

And now once more I am by my sea-coal fire, burning up cheerily in this bleak winter night.  Let me light up another cigar, and indulge in a reverie.  I am in a Welsh port on the Bristol Channel.  Yesterday it was a small borough, with an ancient castle, and an appearance of dirt, and poverty, and age.  To-day its moors have become docks, or covered with iron roads, its few streets, but lately deserted, now stretch far away and are teeming with busy life.  Where the heron flew with heavy wings,—where the sportsman wandered in search of fowl,—where idle boys played, thousands of habitations and warehouses have been planted.  There the snort of the iron horse is heard morning, noon, and night.  There the ships of almost every country under heaven float.  There you meet German, and French, and Dane, and American, and Italian, and Greek.  What collects that many-coloured and many-language-speaking crowd?  Where has come the money to build those big warehouses, to excavate those capacious docks, to plant those iron rails, to make on this ancient desert a Babel busier and more populous than Tyre or Sidon of old?  The answer is soon given.  Up those bleak hills, a few miles away, are the coal-works, a little further still are more, a little further still are more, beyond them are the iron-works, and thus we go on, coal and iron everywhere, all fast being changed by magic industry into gold.  Nature has destined England to be the workshop of the world.  p. 41She sent here the Saxon race, she filled the bowels of the land with ores more valuable than those of Potosi.  To France and Spain she gave wine; to the countries lying on the Baltic, timber and grain; to Russia, hemp and tallow; to Lombardy, its rich silk; to Calabria, its oil; to Ceylon, its spices; to Persia, its pearls; to America, its cotton; to China, its tea; to California, its glittering gold; but she has given us the iron and the coal—without which all her other gifts were vain—and with which all the others can be bought.  To the rank we take amidst the nations of the earth, from the first we were destined.  Ours is not the blue sky of Italy, nor the warm breath of the sunny south, but it is an atmosphere that fits man for persevering industry and daily toil.  Let us, then, brace ourselves up for our mission.  Let us proclaim the dignity of labour—its beneficent effects—its more than magical results.  Let us honour the workman, whether he stand at the loom or plough the field—or sail

      “—Beyond the sunset
Or the baths of all the western stars,”

or labour in the dark and dangerous recesses of the mine.  Thus shall we build up a barricade against the murderous art of war, teach all the world the advantages of peace, and make manifest to the nations how to live.

One word more—don’t let the reader go away with the idea that there is likely to be a dearth of coals in his time.  Let him make merry by his own fireside, and not vex his small brain about what the world will be when the years have died away.  A writer in the p. 42Times, of May 24th, 1860, says, “As a good deal of anxiety has been recently shown regarding the probable extinction of the resources of steam coal in Wales, it may be interesting to state that, by the successful results of the prosecution for the last five years of the operations of the Navigation Works at Aberdare, near Merthyr, all fears upon the subject may be discarded.  This pit is the largest in the world, being 18 feet in diameter and 370 yards in depth.  The estimate of its workings is 1000 tons per day.  The expenses thus far have been £130,000, exclusive of the value of waggons, &c.—£35,000.  The ground is of a most difficult nature, the layers often extending 15 feet without a bed, crack, fissure, or any opening whatever.  The rock had all to be blasted with gunpowder.  The resources of the seam are comparatively boundless, the property extending seven miles from Taff up to Cwm Neal, and three miles in width, covering 4000 to 5000 acres of ‘4 foot coal.’  The royalty is for 99 years, and is held by a firm, composed of Mr. John Nixon, the well-known colliery proprietor at Merthyr; Mr. Hugh Taylor, M.P. for Tynemouth; and Mr. W. Cory, the large coal contractor of London.  The commencement of the use of this smokeless coal afloat began about 1840, on board the Thames steamboats, to work Penn’s engines.  In the same year a cargo was shipped to Nantes, and given away to the French for trial, with the sole condition that the engineer should throw it into the furnaces and leave it alone to stoke itself.  Next, the sugar refiners p. 43adopted it, as they suffered considerably if the steam was not kept up to a pressure of 50lbs., and if allowed to fall below that rate their works were completely stopped.  With the Welsh coal they cleaned out their fires but once instead of twice, and thereby effected a saving in the working day of three hours and a half.  The French river steamers followed, and here the only objection raised was, that without the long trail of smoke from the funnel their customers would not be able to see their vessels approaching from a distance.  The French Government then became convinced of its efficiency, and, adopting it, have adhered to its exclusive use ever since.  Other Governments have likewise profited by its advantages: but, although it is consumed in the Peninsular and Oriental Company’s fleet, the Royal Mail, Cunard’s, and others, the English Government has not hitherto availed itself of it.  The embryo town of Mountain Ash, with already a population of 5,000, has recently been the scene of great rejoicings, as the ‘winning’ or striking of so enormous a seam it is expected will bring with it additional prosperity and considerable increase to its neighbourhood.”


If I were inclined to be dull, I would say Highgate is a village to the north of London, with an ancient history, a great deal of which the reader, if he be not a fool, can imagine, and with a very fine geological formation, indicative of salt-water where it is now very difficult to find fresh.  In order, also, that I may not weary my reader, and establish a cheap reputation for a great deal of learning, I will frankly confess that Highgate, means High Gate, and nothing more.  In old times, right away from Islington Turnpike-Gate to Enfield Chase, there was a magnificent forest, and part of this forest extended as far as Highgate.  Down in the very heart of it, in Hornsey, the Bishop of London had a castle, and of the Park attached to it Highgate formed a part.  When the old road to the north was found impassable, a new one was formed over the hill, and through the Bishop’s Park.  In those days pious bishops levied toll; to collect this toll a gate was erected, and here was Highgate, and truly does it deserve the name.  It is said the hill is 400 feet p. 45above the top of St. Paul’s.  Be this as it may, near London, a lovelier spot is rarely to be met with.  Artists, poets, parties in search of the picturesque, cannot do better than visit Highgate.  At every turn you come to the most beautiful prospects.  When London will consume its own smoke, if that time ever does arrive, the view from Highgate, across the great city, will be the grandest in the world.  On a clear day, standing in the Archway Road—that road esteemed such a wonder of engineering in its day, and forming such a disastrous property for its shareholders (the £50 shares may be bought at about 18s. a share)—you may see across the valley of the Thames as far as the Kent and Surrey hills looming obscurely in the distance.  Close to the Archway Tavern, but on the other side of the road, is a lofty old-fashioned brick mansion, said to have been inhabited by Marshal Wade, the military hero who did so much for the wars of Scotland, and whose memory is still preserved in the following very remarkable couplet:

“Had you seen these roads before they were made,
You would lift up your hands and bless General Wade.”

Well, from the top of this mansion you can see no less than seven English counties.  The number seems almost fabulous, and if, in accordance with a well-established rule in such cases, we only believe half we hear, enough is left to convince us that the view is one of no common kind; all that is wanted to make the scene perfect is a little bit of water.  From every part of the p. 46hill, in spite of builders and buildings, views of exquisite beauty may be obtained.  Going down towards Kentish Town, the hill where her Majesty was nearly dashed to pieces by the running away of the horses of her carnage (her royal arms on a public-house still preserves the tradition and the memory of the man who saved her at the peril of his life), past where Mr. Bodkin the Barrister lives, past where William and Mary Howitt live, past where the rich Miss Burdett Coutts has a stately mansion, which, however, to the great grief of the neighbourhood, she rarely adorns with her presence, what pleasant views we have before us.  It is the same going down past St. Joseph’s Retreat to Holloway; and in Swain’s Lane, another lane leading back to Kentish Town, you might fancy you were in Arcady itself.  Again, stand on the brow of the hill, with your backs to London, looking far away to distant Harrow, or ancient Barnet, what a fair plain lies at your feet, clothed with cheerful villas, and looking bright and warm.  “Upon this hill,” says Norden, “is most pleasant dwelling, yet not so pleasant as healthful, for the expert inhabitants there report that divers who have been long visited with sicknesse not curable by physicke, have in a short time repaired their health by that sweet salutary air.”  In 1661, the Spanish Ambassador, Count Gondomar, excuses his absence from the English court on the plea that he had gone to his retreat in Highgate “to take the fresh aire.”  The associations connected with Highgate are of the most interesting character.  It was p. 47coming up Highgate Hill that Dick Whittington heard the bells prophesying that if he would return he would be Lord Mayor of London; a public-house still marks the spot.  It was at the bottom of Highgate Hill that the great Bacon—the wisest and not the meanest of mankind, that lie is at length exploded, and must disappear from history—caught the cold of which he died.  “The cause of his Lordship’s death,” writes Aubrey, who professed to have received the information from Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, “was trying an experiment as he was taking the air in the coach with Dr. Winterbourne, a Scotchman, physician to the king.  Towards Highgate snow lay on the ground, and it came into my Lord’s thoughts why flesh might not be preserved in snow as in salt.  They were resolved they would try the experiment presently.  They alighted out of the coach, and went into a poor woman’s house at the bottom of Highgate Hill, and bought a hen and stuffed the body with snow, and my Lord did help to do it himself.  The snow so chilled him that he immediately fell so ill that he could not return to his lodgings, but went to the Earl of Arundel’s house at Highgate, where they put him into a good bed warmed with a pan, but it was a damp bed, that had not been laid in for about a year before, which gave him such a cold, that in two or three days, as I remember, he (Hobbes) told me he died of suffocation.”  The Arundel house here referred to does not seem to be the Arundel House still existing in Highgate, on the left-hand side as you come up the main p. 48road from Islington.  The house now bearing that name is said to have been a residence of Nell Gwynne, and during that period was visited by the merry monarch himself.  The creation of the title of Duke of St. Albans, which is related to have been obtained by Nell Gwynne in so extraordinary a manner from King Charles, is said to have taken place at this house.  A marble bath, surrounded by curious and antique oak-work, is there associated with her name.  As the house is now in the possession of a celebrated antiquarian, the Rev. James Yates, M.A., it is to be hoped that it will be as little modernised as possible.  More hallowed memories appertain to the next house we come to.

Andrew Marvel, patriot, was born, 1620, at Kingston-upon-Hull.  After taking his degree of B.A. at Trinity College, Cambridge, he went abroad, and at Rome he wrote the first of those satirical poems which obtained him such celebrity.  In 1635, Marvel returned to England, rich in the friendship of Milton, who a couple of years after, thus introduced him to Bradshaw: “I present to you Mr. Marvel, laying aside those jealousies and that emulation which mine own condition might suggest to me by bringing in such a coadjutor.”  “It was most likely,” writes Mrs. S. C. Hall, “during this period that he inhabited the cottage at Highgate, opposite to the house in which lived part of the family of Cromwell.”  How Marvel became M.P. for his native town—how he was probably the last representative paid by his constituents, (a much better practice that than p. 49ours of representatives paying their constituents)—how his “Rehearsal Transposed,” a witty and sarcastic poem, not only humbled Parker, but, in the language of Bishop Burnet, “the whole party, for from the king down to the tradesman the book was read with pleasure,”—how he spurned the smiles of the venal court, and sleeps the sleep of the just in St. Giles-in-the-Fields, are facts known to all.  Mason has made Marvel the hero of his “Ode to Independence,” and thus alludes to his incorruptible integrity:

“In awful poverty his honest muse
   Walks forth vindictive through a venal land;
In vain corruption sheds her golden dews,
   In vain oppression lifts her iron hand,—
He scorns them both, and armed with truth alone,
Bids lust and folly tremble on the throne.”

On the other side of the way is an old stately red-brick building, now a school, and well known as Cromwell House.  I don’t find that Cromwell lived there, but assuredly his son-in-law, Ireton, did.  His arms are elaborately carved on the ceiling of the state-rooms, the antique stair-case and apartments retain their originality of character, and the mansion is altogether one of very great interest.  Mr. Prickett, in his History of Highgate, tells us Cromwell House is supposed to have been built by the Protector, whose name it bears, about the year 1630, as a residence for General Ireton, who married his daughter, and was one of the commanders of his army; it is, however, said to have been the residence of Oliver p. 50Cromwell himself, but no mention is made, either in history or his biography, of his ever having lived at Highgate.  Tradition states there was a subterraneous passage from this house to the Mansion House, which stood where the new church now stands, but of its reality no proof has hitherto been adduced.  Cromwell House was evidently built and internally ornamented in accordance with the taste of its military occupant.  The staircase, which is of handsome proportions, is richly decorated with oaken carved figures, supposed to have been of persons in the General’s army, in their costumes, and the balustrades filled in with devices emblematical of warfare.  From the platform on the top of the mansion may be seen a perfect panorama of the surrounding country.

On the hill was the house of Mr. Coniers, Bencher and Treasurer of the Middle Temple, from which, on the 3rd of June, 1611, the Lady Arabella escaped.  Her sin was that she had married Mr. Seymour, afterwards Marquis of Hertford.  Her fate was sad; she was recaptured and died in the Tower.  Sir Richard Baker, author of “The Chronicles of the Kings of England,” resided at Highgate.  Dr. Sacheverel, that foolish priest, died at Highgate.  But a greater man than any we have yet named lived here.  I speak of S. T. Coleridge, who lived in a red-brick house in the “Grove” twenty years, with his biographer, Mr. Gillman, which house is now inhabited by Mr. Blatherwick, surgeon.  It is much to be regretted that Gillman’s Life was never completed, but a monument p. 51in the new church, and a grave in the old churchyard, mark the philosopher’s connection with Highgate.  Carlyle has given us a description of what he calls Coleridge’s philosophical moonshine.  I met a lady who remembers the philosopher well, as a snuffy old gentleman, very fond of stroking her hair, and seeing her and another little girl practise their dancing lessons.  On one occasion Irving came with the philosopher.  As the great man’s clothes were very shabby, and as he took so much snuff as to make her sneeze whenever she went near him, my lady informant had rather a poor opinion of the author of “Christabel” and the “Ancient Mariner.”  A contemporary writer, more akin in philosophy to Coleridge than Thomas Carlyle, and more able to appreciate the wondrous intellect of the man than the little lady to whom I have already referred, says, “I was in his company about three hours, and of that time he spoke during two and three-quarters.  It would have been delightful to listen as attentively, and certainly as easy for him to speak just as well, for the next forty-eight hours.  On the whole, his conversation, or rather monologue, is by far the most interesting I ever read or heard of.  Dr. Johnson’s talk, with which it is obvious to compare it, seems to me immeasurably inferior.  It is better balanced and squared, and more ponderous with epithets, but the spirit and flavour and fragrance, the knowledge and the genius, are all wanting.  The one is a house of brick, the other a quarry of jasper.  It is painful to observe in Coleridge, that with all the kindness p. 52and glorious far-seeing intelligence of his eye, there is a glare in it, a light half-unearthly and morbid.  It is the glittering eye of the Ancient Mariner.  His cheek too shows a flush of over-excitement, the ridge of a storm-cloud at sunset.  When he dies, another, and the greatest of their race, will rejoin the few immortals, the ill-understood and ill-requited, who have walked this earth.”  Had Coleridge ever a more genial visitant than the farmer-looking, but eloquent and philanthropic Chalmers, who in 1839 came from Scotland to London, and of course clomb up Highgate Hill to pay a visit to Coleridge, he says—“Half-an-hour with Coleridge was filled up without intermission by one continuous flow of eloquent discourse from that prince of talkers.  He began, in answer to the common inquiries as to his health, by telling of a fit of insensibility in which, three weeks before, he had lain for thirty-five minutes.  As sensibility returned, and before he had opened his eyes, he uttered a sentence about the fugacious nature of consciousness, from which he passed to a discussion of the singular relations between the soul and the body.  Asking for Mr. Irving, but waiting for no reply, he poured out an eloquent tribute of his regard, mourning pathetically that such a man should be throwing himself away.  Mr. Irving’s book on the ‘Human Nature of Christ’ in his analysis was minute to absurdity; one would imagine that the pickling and preserving were to follow, it was so like a cookery-book.  Unfolding then his own scheme of the Apocalypse—talking of the p. 53mighty contrast between its Christ and the Christ of the Gospel narrative, Mr. Coleridge said that Jesus did not come now as before, meek and gentle, healing the sick and feeding the hungry, and dispensing blessings all around; but he came on a white horse, and who were his attendants?—Famine and War and Pestilence.”

The poets have always been partial to Highgate.  William and Mary Howitt live there at this day.  Florence Nightingale has also there taken up her abode.  The German religious reformer, Ronge, lives at the foot of Highgate Hill.  Nicholas Rowe was educated there.  It was in one of the lanes leading to Highgate that Coleridge met Keats and Hunt.  “There is death in the hand,” said he to Hunt, as he shook hands with the author of Endymion.  Painters and artists have also been partial to Highgate.  George Morland would stay at the Bull, an inn still existing, weeks at a time, and, we may be sure, ran up very handsome scores.  An incident that occurred to Hogarth while at Highgate made an artist of him.  The tale is thus told by Walpole—“During his apprenticeship he set out one Sunday with two or three companions on an excursion to Highgate.  The weather being very hot, they went into a public-house, where they had not been long before a quarrel arose between some persons in the same room; one of the disputants struck the other on the head with a quart pot and cut him very much; the blood running down the man’s face, together with the agony of the wound, which had distorted the features into a most hideous grin, presented Hogarth, p. 54who showed himself thus early apprised of the mode nature had intended he should pursue, with a subject too laughable to be overlooked.  He drew out his pencil, and produced on the spot one of the most ludicrous figures that was ever seen.  What rendered the piece the more valuable was, that it exhibited an exact likeness of the man, with the portrait of his antagonist, and the figures in caricature of the principal persons gathered around him.”  One of the names associated with Highgate I find to be that of Hogarth’s enemy, Wilkes, patriot or demagogue.  In his Life I read, “Mr. Wilkes was of the Established Church, but after he was married he often went to Meeting.  He lived in a splendid style, and kept a very elegant and sumptuous table for his friends.  Among the numerous persons who visited this family were Mr. Mead, an eminent drysalter on London Bridge, with his wife and daughter, who, being also Dissenters, frequently went to the Meeting-house in Southwood Lane, Highgate, in Mr. Wilkes’s coach, which was always drawn by six horses, such was his love of external appearance.”  Going still further back, more renowned characters appear on Highgate Hill.  After the memorable battle of Bosworth Field, in which the usurper, Richard, had been slain, it was at Highgate that the victorious Richmond was met by the citizens of London on his triumphal approach to the metropolis.  “He was met,” writes Lambert, “by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen in scarlet robes, with a great number of citizens on horseback.”  The Gunpowder Plot is also connected p. 55with this interesting locality.  It is said, while that old villain, Guy Fawkes, was preparing “to blow up king and parliament, with Jehu and Powdire,” the rest of the conspirators had assembled on Highgate Hill to witness the catastrophe; indeed, a driver of the Barnet mail—I fear not the best authority in the world on antiquarian matters—went so far on one occasion as to point out to the writer a bit of an old wall, a little beyond Marvel’s house on the same side of the way, as a part of the identical house in which those very evil-disposed gentlemen met.  A subterraneous way is also said to have existed from the site of the present church to Cromwell House, and thence to Islington.  To me the story seems somewhat doubtful, but the reader is at full liberty to believe it or not as he likes.  Let us now speak of the institutions of Highgate: the most modern is the cemetery, which was consecrated by the Lord Bishop of London in May, 1839, and has therefore the merit of being one of the first, as it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in situation, of any near London.  It contains about twenty acres of ground on the side of the hill facing the metropolis.  The approach to it through Swain’s Lane conducts the visitor by a green lane rising gradually to the Gothic building which forms the entrance.  Entering the grounds, the eye is struck by the taste everywhere displayed.  Broad gravel paths on either side wind up the steep slope to the handsome new church of St. Michael’s, which is seen to great advantage from almost every part of the grounds.  An hour may be very well p. 56spent here musing on the dead.  Good and bad, rogue and honest man, saint and sinner, here sleep side by side.  John Sadleir, but too well known as M.P., and chairman of the London and County Bank, is buried here.  Indeed all sects, and callings, and professions, have here their representative men.  General Otway has one of the handsomest monuments in the grounds.  One of the most tasteful is that of Lillywhite, the cricketer, erected by public subscription.  Wombwell, known and admired in our childish days for his wonderful menagerie, reposes under a massive lion.  One grave has a marble pillar bearing a horse all saddled and bridled.  The inscription under commemorates the death of a lady, and commences thus,

“She’s gone, whose nerve could guide the swiftest steed.”

On inquiry we found the lady was the wife of a celebrated knacker, well skilled in the mysteries of horseflesh and the whip.  Holman, the blind traveller, is buried in Highgate Cemetery, and very near him are the mortal remains of that prince of newspaper editors and proprietors, Stephen Rintoul.  On the other side the cemetery is buried Bogue, the well-known publisher of Fleet Street.  In the Catacombs are interred Liston, the greatest operator of his day, and Pierce Egan, a man as famous in his way.  It was only a few months since Sir W. Charles Ross, the celebrated miniature painter, was buried here.  Frank Stone sleeps in the same cemetery, as also does that well-remembered actress, Mrs. Warner.  Haydn, well-known for his Dictionary of Dates, and Gilbert à p. 57Beckett, still remembered for his comic powers, are amongst the literary men that here await the resurrection morn.  A fairer place in which to sleep it would be difficult to choose, in spite of the monstrous trophies of affectation, or ostentation, or affection all round,—in spite of the reminiscences of Cornhill and Cheapside, suggested by every other grave.  As a ride, you had better pass by monuments unlooked at, they do but enumerate the virtues of the illustrious obscure, and the wealth of their survivors.

Of the past we now recall another relic, Lord Byron, in “Childe Harold,” writes,

“Some o’er thy Thamis row the ribbon’d fair,
Others along the safer turnpike fly;
Some Richmond-hill ascend, some scud to Ware,
And many to the steep of Highgate hie.
Ask ye, Bœotian shades! the reason why?
’Tis to the worship of the solemn Horn,
Grasped in the holy hand of Mystery,
In whose dread name both men and maids are sworn,
And consecrate the oath with draught, and dance till mom.”

In the note from whence the above extract is taken, Lord Byron says he alludes to a ridiculous custom which formerly prevailed in Highgate of administering a burlesque oath to all travellers of the middling rank who stopped there.  The party was sworn on a pair of horns fastened, never to kiss the maid when he could the mistress; never to eat brown bread when he could get white; never to drink small beer when he could get p. 58strong; with many other injunctions of the kind, to all which was added the saving clause, “unless you like it best.”  Lambert tells us, “the oath formerly was tendered to every person stopping at any of the public-houses of the village, which are very numerous, and mostly distinguished by a large pair of horns placed over the signs.”  I need not add, no horns are seen now.  When a person consented to be sworn, he laid his hand on a pair of horns fixed to a long staff, and the oath was administered.  This ridiculous ceremony being over, the juror was to kiss the horns and pay a shilling for the oath, to be spent among the company to which he or she belonged.  To complete the incongruous character of the ceremony, the father, for such was the style of the person administering the oath, officiated in a wig and gown, with the addition of a mask.  The origin of this custom is completely lost, but it was so common at one time, that one man is said to have sworn one hundred and fifty in a day.  It appears to have been the fashion to make up parties to Highgate for the purpose of taking the oath, and as a prerequisite for admission to certain convivial societies now no more, the freedom of Highgate was indispensable.  The father facetiously said if the son, as the individual sworn was termed, was too poor to pay for wine himself, he was recommended to call for it at the first inn, and to place it to his father’s score, “and now, my good son,” the formula continued, “I wish you a safe journey through Highgate and this life.”  If the p. 59father’s good wishes were realized, one is almost inclined to regret that the ceremony exists no longer.  Another ancient institution is the grammar school, founded in 1562 by Sir Roger Cholmeley, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and after that Chief Justice of the King’s Bench.

But we must leave Highgate, now the retreat of the wealthy citizen, and the great North Road, along which coaches galloped almost every minute, and along which lords and ladies posted, ere that frightful leveller, the railroad had been formed.  By the Favourite omnibuses it is but a sixpenny ride to Highgate from the Bank, but in the good old times, the fare by the stage was half-a-crown.  It would do aldermen good to go up its hill, and the city clerk or shopman cannot frequent it too much.  Highgate has much the air of a provincial town.  It has its Literary Institution, and its police office, and water-works, and gas, its seminaries for ingenious youth of either sex, and its shops filled with miscellaneous wares.  The great city is creeping up the hill, and seeking to encircle it with its chains of brick, but it resists lustily, and with its quaint old houses, and fine old trees, will not assume a cockney appearance.  I honour it for its obstinacy, and trust that it will be long before it shall have the wicked, busy, towny appearance of the Modern Babylon.


Barry Cornwall tells us that when he was a little boy he was told that the streets of London were all paved with gold; and it must be admitted that, to the youthful mind in general, the metropolis is a sort of Tom Tiddler’s ground, where gold and silver are to be picked up in handfuls any day.  There is a good deal of exaggeration in this, undoubtedly.  To many, London is dark and dismal as one of its own fogs, cold and stony as one of its own streets.  The Earl of Shaftesbury, a few years back, calculated there were 30,000 ragged, houseless, homeless children in our streets.  The number of persons who died last year in the streets of London, from want of the necessaries of life, would shock a Christian.  Last year the total number of casual destitute paupers admitted into the workhouses of the metropolitan districts amounted to 53,221 males, 62,622 females, and 25,710 children.  We cannot wonder at this when we remember that it is said 60,000 persons rise every morning utterly ignorant as to the wherewithal to feed and maintain themselves p. 61for the day.  Wonderful are the shifts, and efforts, and ingenuities of this class.  One summer-day, a lady-friend of the writer was driving in one of the pleasant green lanes of Hornsey, when she saw a poor woman gathering the broad leaves of the horse-chestnut.  She asked her why she did so.  The reply was that she got a living by selling them to the fruiterers in Covent Garden, who lined the baskets with them in which they placed their choicest specimens.  One day it came out in evidence at a police-court, that a mother and her children earned a scanty subsistence by rising early in the morning, or rather late at night, and tearing down and selling as waste-paper, the broad sheets and placards with which the dead walls and boardings of our metropolis abound.  The poor sick needlewomen, stitching for two-and-six-pence a-week, indicate in some quarters how hard is the London struggle for life.  But one of the worst sights, I think, is that of women (a dozen may be seen at a time), all black and grimy, sifting the cinders and rubbish collected by the dustmen from various parts, and shot into one enormous heap.

The last dodge exposed for making money is amusing.  A writer in the Times wanted to know how it was we see advertisements in London papers for a million of postage-stamps.  A writer in reply says all the stories about severe papas, who will not let their daughters marry till they have papered a room with them, are false.  He says if the reader will go to some of the purlieus of the Borough (leaving his watch and purse at home) he will p. 62very possibly be enlightened.  He will be accosted by a hook-nosed man, who will pull out a greasy pocket-book, and produce some apparently new postage-stamps, not all joined together, but each one separate, and will offer them for sale at about 2d. a dozen.  If the enterprising stranger looks very closely, indeed, into these stamps, he may perhaps detect a slight join in the middle.  They are made by taking the halves which are unobliterated of two old stamps and joining them, regumming the backs and cleaning the faces.  This practice is, it is said, carried on to a great extent, in the low neighbourhoods of Ratcliff-highway, and the Borough.

During the year 1858 it appears 10,004 persons died in the public institutions of London: 5,535 in the workhouses, 57 in the prisons, and 4,412 in hospitals.  Of the latter number 317 belong to the Greenwich and the Chelsea hospitals, 211 to the military and naval hospitals.  About one in six of the inhabitants of the metropolis dies in the public institutions, nearly one in eleven dies in the workhouses.  Only think of the population of London.  In 1857 that was estimated by the Registrar-General at 2,800,000; since then the population has gone on steadily increasing, and it may be fairly estimated that the London of to-day is more than equal to three Londons of 1801.  Now, amidst this teeming population, what thousands of vicious, and rogues, and fools there must be; what thousands suddenly reduced from affluence to poverty; what thousands plunged into distress by sickness or the loss of friends, and parents, and other benefactors; to p. 63such what a place of pain, and daily mortification, and trial London must be!

But, on the other hand, from the time of Whittington and his cat, London has abounded with instances showing how, by industry and intelligence, and—let us trust—honesty, the poorest may rise to the possession of great wealth and honour.  Indeed all the great city houses abound with examples.  Poor lads have come up to town, friendless and moneyless, have been sober and steady, and firm against London allurements and vices, have improved the abilities and opportunities God has given them, and are now men of note and mark.  The late Lord Mayor was but an office-lad in the firm of which he is now the head.  Mr. Herbert Ingram, M.P. for Boston, and proprietor of the Illustrated News, blackened the shoes of one of his constituents.  Mr. Anderson, of the Oriental Steam Navigation Company, and formerly M.P. for the Orkneys, rose in a similar manner.  Sir Peter Laurie was originally in a humble position in life, so was Mr. Dillon, of the house of Dillon and Co.  Our great Lord Chancellor, when employment was scarce and money ditto, held a post as reporter and theatrical critic on the Morning Chronicle newspaper.  Mr. Chaplin, the late Salisbury M.P., was an extraordinary instance of a man rising from the humblest rank.  Before railways were in operation Mr. Chaplin had succeeded in making himself one of the largest coach proprietors in the kingdom.  His establishment, from small beginnings, grew till, just p. 64before the opening of the London and North Western line, he was proprietor of sixty-four stage-coaches, worked by fifteen hundred horses, and giving yearly returns of more than half a million sterling.  Mr. Cobden began life in a very subordinate position in a London warehouse.  Sir William Cubitt when a lad worked at his father’s flour-mill.  Michael Faraday, England’s most eminent chemist, was the son of a poor blacksmith.  Sir Samuel Morton Peto worked for seven years as a carpenter, bricklayer, and mason, under his uncle, Mr. Henry Peto.  The well-known Mr. Lindsay, M.P. for Sunderland, was a cabin boy.  The editor of one morning paper rose quite from the ranks, and the editor of another well known journal used to be an errand-boy in the office before, by gigantic industry and perseverance, he attained his present high position.  Mr. J. Fox, the eloquent M.P. for Oldham, and the “Publicola” of the Weekly Dispatch, worked in a Norwich factory.  The great warehouses in Cheapside and Cannon-street, and elsewhere, are owned by men who mostly began life without a rap.  Go to the beautiful villas at Norwood, at Highgate, at Richmond, and ask who lives there, and you will find that they are inhabited by men whose wealth is enormous, and whose career has been a marvellous success.  Fortunes in London are made by trifles.  I know a man who keeps a knacker’s yard, who lives out of town in a villa of exquisite beauty, and who drives horses which a prince might envy.  Out of the profits of his vegetable pills p. 65Morrison bought himself a nice estate.  Mrs. Holloway drives one of the handsomest carriages you shall meet in the Strand.  Sawyer and Strange, who the other day were respectable young men unknown to fame, paid the Crystal Palace Company upwards of £12,000, as per contract, for the liberty to supply refreshments for a few months.  In the city there, at this time, may be seen the proprietor of a dining-room, who drives a handsome mail-phaeton and pair daily to town in the morning to do business, and back at night.  Thackeray has a tale of a gentleman who married a young lady, drove his cab, and lived altogether in great style.  The gentleman was very silent as to his occupation; he would not even communicate the secret to his wife.  All that she knew was what was patent to all his neighbours—that he went in his Brougham in the morning, and returned at night.  Even the mother-in-law, prying as she was, was unable to solve the mystery.  At length, one day the unfortunate wife, going with her dear mamma into the city, in the person of a street sweeper clothed in rags, and covered with dirt, she recognised her lord and master, who decamped and was never heard of more.  The story is comic, but not improbable, for London is so full of wealth, you have only to take your place, and it seems as if some of the golden shower must fall into your mouth.  Mr. Thwaites, when examined before the Parliamentary Committee on the Embankment of the Thames, said, “The metropolis contributes very largely to the taxation of the country.  p. 66The value of the property assessed under Schedule A, is £22,385,350, whilst the sum for the rest of the kingdom is £127,994,288; under Schedule D the metropolis shows £37,871,644, against £86,077,676.  The gross estimated rental of the property of the metropolis assessed to the poor rates is £16,157,320, against £86,077,676 from the rest of the kingdom.”  The speculations on the Stock Exchange embrace a national debt of 800 millions, railway shares to the extent of 300 millions, besides foreign stock, foreign railway shares, and miscellaneous investments of all kinds.  Land has been sold in the neighbourhood of the Exchange and the Bank at the rate of a million pounds an acre.  The rateable value of the property assessed to the poor rates in the districts of the metropolis in 1857 amounted to £11,167,678.  A Parliamentary Return shows that the total ordinary receipts of the Corporation of the city for the year 1857 amounted to £905,298, the largest item being the coal duty, £64,238.  The London omnibuses pay government a duty of no less than £70,200 a year.  The Thames even, dirty and stinking as it is, is full of gold.  One fact will place its commercial value in the clearest light.  In 1856 the Customs’ duties entered as collected from all parts of the United Kingdom were £19,813,622, and of this large sum considerably more than half was collected in the port of London,—the Customs’ duties paid in the port of London alone being £12,287,591, a much larger sum than paid by all the remaining ports of the United Kingdom put together.  No wonder that the p. 67Londoners are proud of the Thames.  Why, even the very mudlarks—the boys who prowl in its mud on behalf of treasure-trove—earn, it is said, as much as £2,000 to £3,000 by that miserable employment in the course of a year.

But we stop.  The magnitude of Loudon wealth and even crime can never be fully estimated.  It is a boundless ocean, in which the brave, sturdy, steady swimmer—while the weak are borne away rapidly to destruction—may pick up precious pearls.


On Monday, Jan. 9, 1860, we formed part of a crowd who had assembled in the Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, to view the burial of the only man of our generation who, by means of his literary and oratorical efforts, has won for his brow a coronet.  Of Babington Macaulay, as essayist, poet, orator, historian, statesman, we need not speak.  What he was, and what he did, are patent to all the world.  Born in 1800, the son of Zachary Macaulay, one of the brilliant band of anti-slavery agitators of which Mr. Wilberforce was the head, young Babington commenced life under favourable circumstances.  At Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was educated, the world first heard of his wondrous talent.  In 1830 he was returned by Lord Lansdowne for his borough of Calne; the Reform agitation was then at its height, and how bitterly, and fiercely, and eloquently Macaulay spoke we remember at this day.  Then, in 1834, commenced his Indian exile, at the end of which he returned to Parliament with a competency.  p. 69His Essays in the Edinburgh Review and his History were the chief business of his life.  He might have shone as a poet had he not betaken himself to prose; but in this department he remained unrivalled, and the result was riches and fame.  On one occasion, it is said, his publisher gave him a cheque for £20,000, and he was made by the Whigs a peer.  His burial at Westminster Abbey, at the foot of Addison, was a fitting climax to his career of wondrous achievement and gorgeous success.  Men most distinguished in literature—in science—in law—in statesmanship—in divinity—in rank—were present.  The funeral was not as touching as might have been expected.  It may be that the choral service itself interferes with the inner feeling of sadness the death of such a man arouses in every mind; it may be that the human voice is inadequate to express the power, and pathos, and majesty of the form of words used on such occasions; and it is certain that the many ladies present were dressed in the most unbefitting costumes, and that ribbons, and bonnets, and dresses of all the colours of the rainbow were quite out of keeping with the place and the occasion.  The saddest sight, the one most suggestive of deep feeling, was that of one or two ladies, high up in a recess above the grave.  They were real mourners.  Indeed, it was said one of them was the sister of the deceased peer.  Lord John Russell also exhibited an emotion for which the general public will scarce give him credit.  At the grave he was so much overcome, that it seemed as if he would have fallen had p. 70not the Duke of Argyle held him up.  Well might his Lordship be moved to tears.  Could he keep from thinking, while standing there, how soon his own turn would come, and how well and worthily he, who slept the sleep of death in the plain coffin at his feet, had fought the battle of the Whigs in their palmy days?  We looked back, as we stood there, to other days.  We saw a theatre in Gower Street filled with intelligent youths.  A winter session had been closed: all its work and competition were over; to the successful candidates prizes were to be awarded.  The fathers and mothers, the friends and sisters of such had come together from far and near.  Seated in a chair was a stout, mild, genial man, with face somewhat pale, and hair scant and inclined to grey.  He rose, and was received with rapturous applause; he spoke in plain language—with little action, with a voice rather inclined to be harsh—of the bright future which rises before the rapt eye of youth.  He spoke—and as he did so, as he mounted from one climax to another, every young heart filled and warmed with the speaker’s theme.  That was Macaulay, just come from India, with an honourable competence, to consummate the fame as a man he had acquired in younger years.  Again, we thought of that last speech in the House of Commons, when, at an early hour on a beautiful summer evening, the Parks, and Clubs, and Rotten Row had been deserted, for it had gone forth to the world that Macaulay was about to speak.  Poor Joseph Hume had moved the adjournment of the debate, p. 71and, as a matter of right, was in possession of the House; but the calls for Macaulay on all sides were so numerous, that even that most good-natured of men, as Hume was, grew a little angry and remonstrated; but it was in vain that he sought the attention of the House: all were anxious for the next speaker, and no sooner had Hume sat down than Macaulay delivered, in his hurried feverish way, one of those speeches which not merely delight, but which influence men’s votes and opinions, and may be read with delight when the occasion which gave rise to them has long since passed away.  We have heard much in favour of competition in the civil service, at home and in India, since then, but never was the argument more clearly put—more copiously illustrated, more clothed in grace and beauty; and then came a few short years of infirmity of body, of labour with the pen, and sudden death, and the burial at Westminster Abbey.  Out of the thousands standing by the grave, few could ever expect to see the career of such another genius.  He is gone, and we may not hope to see his work finished.  In vain we call up him—

   “Who left untold,
The story of Cambuscan bold.”

Since then another public funeral has taken place in Westminster Abbey; only the other day we saw deposited there the ashes of Sir Charles Barry, and here, as year by year passes over our heads, richer, and dearer, and wider are the associations which cluster around that venerable pile.  I don’t envy the man who can point a p. 72sneer at Westminster Abbey; how placid and beautiful is the outside, how eloquently it speaks to the ambitious lawyer, the busy merchant, the statesman bent on fame, the beauty armed for conquest; what a testimony it bears to the religious spirit of the age which witnessed its erection, and of the brain or brains which conceived its magnificent design.

The Abbey is open to public inspection between the hours of eleven and three daily, and also in the summer months between four and six in the afternoon.  The public are not admitted to view the monuments on Good Friday, Christmas Day, or fast days, or during the hours of Divine Service.  The nave, transept, and cloisters are entirely free.  The charge for admission to the rest of the Abbey, through which you are accompanied by a guide, is sixpence each person.  The entrance is at the south transept, better known as Poet’s Corner.  It will do you good to walk in there any Sunday during Divine Service.  The appearance of the place is singularly striking.  The white-robed choristers; the benches filled with well-dressed people the dark religious columns; the lofty and fretted roof; the marble monuments and busts looking down on you from every wall and corner; the gleams of mellow sunlight streaming in from richly painted windows—all tend to produce an effect such as you can find nowhere else—an effect of which you must be sensible if you care not for the rich notes of the organ, or sleep while the parson preaches.

p. 73The Abbey, originally a Benedictine monastery—the Minster west of St. Paul’s London—was founded originally in what was called Thorney Island, by Sebert, King of the East Saxons, 616.  The patron Saint, Peter himself, is said to have consecrated it by night, and in a most miraculous manner.  Till the time of Edward the Confessor the Abbey does not seem to have made much way; but the meek-minded Prince was led to give the Abbey a patronage which led to the building becoming what it is.  It seems the Prince had been ill, and vowed to take a journey to the Holy Land if he should recover.  But, as often is the case with vows made in sickness, the Prince, when well, found it exceedingly inconvenient to fulfil his vow.  The only course left for him was to appeal to the Pope.  The Holy Father, of course, was appealed to, and freed the pious king from his vow on one condition—that he should spend the money that the journey would have cost him in some religious building.  The Prince, too happy to be freed from the consequences of this foolish vow, gladly promised to do so; and, whilst he was considering as to what building he should favour with his royal patronage, one of the monks of Westminster—rather an artful man, we imagine—was reported to have had a wonderful dream, in which no less a personage than St. Peter himself appeared to him, and charged him to take a message to the King, to the effect that his celestial saintship hoped he would not overlook the claims of Westminster.  Of course, to so pious a prince as Edward, p. 74the saintly wish was law; and on Westminster were lavished the most princely sums.  Succeeding kings followed in the same steps.  Henry III. and his son, Edward I., rebuilt it nearly as we see it now.  It is difficult to say what the building must have cost its royal patrons.  In our own time, its repairs have amounted to an enormous sum.

As the last resting place of the great, Westminster Abbey must always be dear to Englishmen.  It was a peerage or Westminster Abbey that urged Nelson on.  Old Godfrey Kneller did not rate the honour of lying in Westminster Abbey quite so highly.  “By God,” exclaimed the old painter, “I will not be buried in Westminster!  They do bury fools there.”  It is difficult to say on what principle the burials there take place.  Byron’s monument was refused, though Thorwaldsen was the sculptor; and yet Prior has a staring one to himself—that Prior whose Chloe was an alehouse drab, and who was as far inferior to Byron in genius as a farthing rushlight to the morning star.

Another evil, to which public attention should be drawn, is the expense attending a funeral there.  When Tom Campbell (would that he were alive to write war lyrics now!) was buried, the fees to the Dean and Chapter amounted to somewhere between five and six hundred pounds.  Surely it ought not to be so.  The Dean and Chapter are well paid enough as it is.

If, reader, pausing on the hallowed ground, you feel inclined to think of the past, remember that beneath you p. 75sleep many English statesmen,—Clarendon, the great Lord Chatham, Pitt, Fox, and Canning; that there

“The mighty chiefs sleep side by side.
Drop upon Fox’s grave the tear,
’Twill trickle to his rival’s bier.”

Remember that—

         “Bacon there
Gives more than female beauty to a stone,
And Chatham, eloquence to marble life;”

that of poets; Chaucer, Spenser, Ben Jonson, Dryden, Congreve, Addison, Sheridan, and Campbell, and others, there await the sound of the last trumpet; that old Sam Johnson there finds rest; that there the brain of a Newton has crumbled into dust; and, as if to shew that all distinctions are levelled by death, Mrs. Oldfield, Mrs. Bracegirdle, and other favourites of the stage, are buried there.  As a burial place Westminster Abbey resembles the world.  We jostle one another precisely so in real life.  “The age is grown so picked, that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he galls his kibe.”


When Guizot visited London the principal thing that struck him was the nature and the extent of London Charities.  Undoubtedly the English are a more charitable people than the French.  When the ruinously low prices of the Funds forbade a loan, the loyalty-loan brought forth the name of a Lancashire cotton-spinner, the father of the lamented statesman, Sir Robert Peel, who subscribed £60,000; and when George the Third sent the Minister Pitt to compliment him on this truly loyal and patriotic subscription, he simply replied that another £60,000 would be forthcoming if it was wanted for the defence of the country.  Did Napoleon, or any French monarch, ever possess such a patriotic subject?  The spirit is still the same.  What sums the nation subscribed for the relief of the wives and widows and orphans of the Crimean heroes.  What an amount was raised at once for the victims of the Indian mutiny.  An Englishman likes to make money, and makes many a sacrifice to do it; but then how lavishly and with what p. 77a princely hand he gives it.  And in this respect the Londoner is a thorough Englishman—his charity covers a multitude of sins.  I am aware some of this charity is of a doubtful character.  A draper, for instance, may subscribe to the funds—of such an institution as that for early closing—a very handsome sum, merely as a good business advertisement; other tradesmen may and undoubtedly do the same.  There is also a spirit of rivalry in these matters—if Smith saw Jones’ name down for £50, he, thinking he was as good as Smith any day, and perhaps a good deal better, puts his name down for £100.  Somehow or other we can scarce do good things without introducing a little of the alloy of poor human nature; but London charities undoubtedly cover a multitude of sins.

Associations for the voluntary relief of distress, the reclamation of the criminal, and diffusion of Christian truth, are a noble characteristic of the English people.  There is no city in the world possessing an equal number of charitable institutions to those of the British capital.  Taking the whole of London, and not exempting, from their distance, such as may be correctly classed as metropolitan institutions, as Greenwich Hospital, &c., we find there are no less than 526 charitable institutions, exclusive of mere local endowments and trusts, parochial and local schools, &c.

According to Mr. Low, the charities comprise—


General medical hospitals.


Medical charities for special purposes.

p. 7835

General dispensaries.


Societies and institutions for the preservation of life and public morals.


Societies for reclaiming the fallen, and staying the progress of crime.


Societies for the relief of general destitution and distress.


Societies in connection with the Committee of the Reformatory and Refuge Unions.


Societies for relief of specific description.


Societies for aiding the resources of the industrious (exclusive of loan funds and savings’ banks).


Societies for the deaf and dumb, and the blind.


Colleges, hospitals, and institutions of almhouses for the aged.


Charitable pension societies.


Charitable and provident societies, chiefly for specified classes.


Asylums for orphan and other necessitous children.


Educational foundations.


Charitable modern ditto.


School societies, religious books, Church aiding and Christian visiting societies.


Bible and missionary societies.


(This includes parent societies only, and is quite exclusive of the numerous “auxiliaries,” &c.)

These charities annually disburse in aid of their respective objects the extraordinary amount of £1,764,733, of which upwards of £1,000,000 is raised annually by voluntary contributions; the remainder from funded property, sale of publications, &c.

The facility with which money can be raised in London p. 79for charitable purposes is very astonishing.  A short time back it was announced that the London Hospital had lost about £1,500 a year by the falling in of annuities.  It was, therefore, necessary, if the Hospital was to continue its charities to the same extent as heretofore, that additional funds should be raised.  In an incredibly short space of time £24,000 were collected.  The Times makes an appeal about Christmas time for the refuges of the destitute in the metropolis, and generally it raises somewhere about £10,000—a nice addition to the regular income of the societies.  The Bishop of London, since he has been connected with his diocese, has consecrated 29 new churches, accommodating 90,000 persons, erected by voluntary subscriptions.  We may depend upon it the various sects of dissenters are equally active in their way.  During last year the Field Lane Refuge supplied 30,302 lodgings to 6,785 men and boys, who received 101,193 either six or eight ounce loaves of bread.  At the same time 840 women were admitted during the year, to whom were supplied 10,028 lodgings, averaging 11 nights shelter to each person, by whom 14,755 loaves were consumed.  On the whole it appears that 10,000 persons annually participate in the advantages of this institution, and 1,222 of the most forlorn and wretched creatures in London were taken from the streets and placed in a position where they might earn their own bread, and all this at the cost of 3s. 6d. each per annum.  In 1851 the original Shoeblack Society sent five boys into the street to get an honest p. 80living by cleaning boots rather than by picking and stealing, and now their number is about 350.  Mr. Mayhew calculates the London charities at three millions and a half per annum.  In estimating London charities we must not be unmindful of those required by law.  According to a return published a couple of years since, I find, in the districts of the metropolis, the average amount expended for the relief of the poor was 1s. 6¾d. in the pound.  The total number of casual destitute paupers admitted into the workhouses of the metropolitan districts during the year amounted to 53,221 males, 62,622 females, and 25,716 children.  The quantity of food supplied to these paupers varies much in the several districts, as also the nature of the work required.  In some cases no work at all is exacted from the casual poor, but where it is, the demand appears to be chiefly for picking oakum and breaking stones.  In some cases the dietary includes bread and cheese, with gruel, and sometimes even the luxury of butter is added.  In other cases bread and water (very meagre fare, and insufficient to support life for any length of time), are all that is allowed.  Women suckling infants are supplied tea, broth, or gruel in lieu of water; we can scarce wonder the poor prefer going to jail.  I have seen in jails, and convict establishments, dinners better served than are earned even by many of the industrious poor.  I find during the last year the 339 agents of the London City Mission had paid 1,528,162 visits during the year; 117,443 of these visits being p. 81to the sick and dying.  By their means a large number of Bibles and Tracts had been distributed, 11,200 children had been sent to school, and 580 fallen females restored to virtue.  At the annual meeting of the Ragged School Union it was stated that in 170 Ragged School institutions, there were 199 Sunday Schools, with 24,860 scholars; 146 day schools with 15,380 scholars, and 215 evening schools, with 9,050 scholars: of teachers 400 were paid, and 9,690 were voluntary.  There were fifteen refuges in which 600 inmates were fed, lodged, clothed, and educated.  The midnight meeting movement, of which we have heard so much, and respecting which opinions so much differ, according to its report, has been very successful; through the instrumentality of the committee seven meetings had been called; 1700 women had been addressed; 7500 scriptural cards and books had been circulated; and 107 had been reclaimed and placed in homes, through the agency of which, they would, it was hoped, be restored to society.  In addition to these five had been restored to their friends, one to her husband, two placed in situations, and one had been married.  In the general charities of England London has its share.  It not merely takes the initiative but it subscribes by far the larger part.  When the Crimean war broke out a fund was raised for the wives and families of the soldiers engaged in it, amounting to £121,139; £260,000 were subscribed for the relief of the victims of the Indian mutiny.  Well it was in p. 82London that the most liberal donations were made.  Again, look at the Religious Societies.  In last year the income of the Church Missionary Society was £163,629. 1s. 4d.; of the Bible Society £162,020. 13s. 5d.  Of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, £141,000. 5s. 11d.  Of the London Missionary Society, £93,000.  Thus gigantic and all-persuading are the charities of London.  The almshouses erected by private individuals or public subscriptions are too numerous to be described, except we refer to the London Almshouses erected at Brixton to commemorate the passing of the Reform Bill; nor would I forget the Charter House with its jovial and grateful chorus:—

“Then blessed be the memory
   Of good old Thomas Sutton,
Who gave us lodging, learning,
   And he gave us beef and mutton.”

Nor Christ’s Hospital, with its annual income of £50,000; nor the Foundling Hospital, with its 500 children; nor Alleyn’s magnificent gift of Dulwich; nor the Bethlehem Hospital, with its income of nearly £30,000 a year; nor the Magdalene.  But we must say a few words about the Hospitals; of the more than 500 Charitable Institutions of the metropolis, one quarter consists of general medical hospitals, medical charities for special purposes, dispensaries, &c.  In 1859, in Bartholomew’s, I find there were patients admitted, cured, and discharged, 5,865 in, 86,480 out; p. 83in St. Thomas’s 4,114 in, 44,744 out; the Charing Cross Hospital has, I believe, on an average 1,000 inpatients, 17,000 out.  Guy’s, with its annual income of £30,000, has an entire average of in and outpatients of 50,000.  But we stop, the list is not exhausted, but we fear the patience of the reader is.


I am a great advocate of Pedestrianism, and take it to be a very honest way of getting through the world.  If you ride in a carriage you may be upset; if you throw your leg across a horse’s back you may meet with the fate of Sir Robert Peel; and as to getting into a railway carriage, the fearful consequences of that require for their description a more vigorous pen than mine.  I like to see a good walker; how delightful his appetite, how firm his muscle, how healthy his cheek, how splendid his condition.  Has he a care, he walks it off; is ruin staring him in the face, only let him have a couple of hour’s walk, and he is in a condition to meet the great enemy of mankind himself.  Has his friend betrayed him—are his hopes of fame, of wealth, of power blighted?—is his love’s young dream rudely broken?  Let him away from the circles of men out on the green turf, with the blue sky of heaven above, and in a very little while the agony is over, and “Richard’s himself again.”  Were it only for the sake of the active exercise it inculcates p. 85and requires I would say—Long live the Rifle Corps movement.  The other day a gallant little band in my own immediate neighbourhood set out for an evening’s march.  They were in capital spirits; they were dressed in their Sunday best; they had a band playing at their head; a miscellaneous crowd, chiefly juvenile, with a few occasional females behind, brought up the rear.  A deputy of the London Corporation and his brother formed part of the devoted troop.  Gaily and amidst cheers they marched from the bosoms of their families, leaving “their girls behind them.”  On they went, up-hill and down-hill, many a mile, amidst Hornsey’s pleasant green lanes, till at length the London deputy turned pale, and intimated—while his limbs appeared to sink beneath him, and his whole body was bathed in sweat—that he could stand it no longer.  The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.  A halt was ordered—beer was sought for for the London deputy, and with considerable difficulty they got the martial hero home.  Had that gallant man been a good pedestrian, would he not have scorned the beer, and laughed at the idea of rest?  Look at Charles Dickens—I am sure he will forgive me the personality, as no harm is intended—why is he ever genial, ever fresh—as superior to the crowd who imitate his mannerism, but fail to catch his warm, sunny, human spirit, as the Koh-i-noor to its glass counterfeit, but because no man in town walks more than he?  What a man for walking was the great Liston, foremost operator of his age.  The late Lord Suffield, who fought all p. 86the Lords, including the bench of Bishops, in order to win emancipation for the slave, was one of the most athletic men of his day.  On one occasion he ran a distance of ten miles before the Norwich mail as a casual frolic, without any previous training, and he assured Sir George Stephen that he never experienced any inconvenience from it.  When we talk of a man being weak on his pins, what does it imply but that he has been a rake, or a sot, or a fool who has cultivated the pocket or the brain at the expense of that machine, so fearfully and wonderfully made, we call man.  The machine is made to wear well, it is man’s fault if it does not.  The pedestrian alone keeps his in good repair; our long livers have mostly been great walkers.  Taylor, the water-poet, says of old Parr—

“Good wholesome labour was his exercise,
Down with the lamb, and with the lark would rise,
In mire and toiling sweat he spent the day,
And to his team he whistled time away.”

People are getting more fond of physical exercise than they were.  We may almost ask—Are we returned back to the days of the Iliad and the Odyssey?  The gentlemen of the Stock Exchange greet Tom Sayers as if he were an emperor, and, it is said, peers and clergymen think it right to assist at a “mill.”  We have heard so much about muscular Christianity—so much stress has been laid upon the adjective—that we seem in danger of forgetting the Christianity altogether.  Undoubtedly our fathers are to blame in some p. 87respect for this.  Good Christians, thinking more of the next world than of this, merchants, and tradesmen, and even poor clerks, hastening to be rich, scholars aiming at fame, and mothers of a frugal turn, have set themselves against out-door life and out-door fun, and have done with sports and pastimes—as Rowland Hill said the pious had done with the tunes—i.e. let the devil have all the good ones.  In vain you war with nature, she will have her revenge, the heart is true to its old instincts.  Man is what he was when the Greek pitched his tent by the side of the much-sounding sea, and before the walls of Troy; when Alexander sighed for fresh worlds to conquer; when the young Hannibal vowed deathless hate to Rome; when the rude ballad of “Chevy Chase,” sung in baronial hall, stirred men as if it were the sound of a trumpet; when Nelson swept the seas, and when Wellington shattered the mighty hosts of France.  Thus is it old physical sports and pastimes never die, and perhaps nowhere are they more encouraged and practised than by the population of our cities and towns.

The other day some considerable interest was excited in the peculiar circles given to the study of Bell’s Life, by the fact that Jem Pudney was to run Jem Rowan for £50 a-side, at the White Lion, Hackney Wick.  The winner was to have the Champion’s Cup.  Far and near had sounded and resounded the name of Pudney the swift-footed—how he had distanced all his competitors—how he had done eleven miles under the hour—were facts patent to all sporting England; but against him p. 88was this melancholy reality, that he was getting old—he was verging on thirty-two.  However, when, after a weary pilgrimage through mud, and sleet, and rain, we found ourselves arrived at the classic spot.  The betting was very much in Pudney’s favour.  The race was to have commenced at five, but it did not begin before six.  We had plenty of time to look around.  Outside we had passed a motley multitude.  There were cabs, and Hansoms, and Whitechapel dog-carts in abundance.  Monday is an off-day as regards many of the operatives and mechanics of London, and they were thronging round the door, or clambering up the pales, or peeping through the boards, or climbing some neighbouring height, to command a view of the race on strictly economical principles.  Several owners of horses and carts, with their wives and families, were indulging in a similar amusement; an admission fee of one shining enabled us to penetrate the enclosure.  We pay our money and enter.  The scene is not an inviting one.  Perhaps there are about a thousand of us present, and most of us are of a class of society we may denominate rough and ready.  Even the people who have good clothes do not look like gentlemen.  They have very short hair, very flat and dark faces; have a tremendous development of the lower jaw, and, while they are unnaturally broad about the chest, seem unnaturally thin and weak as regards their lower extremities.  Most of the younger ones are in good sporting condition, and would be very little distressed by a little set-to, whether p. 89of a playful or a business nature, and could bear an amount of punishment which would be fatal to the writer of this article, and, I dare say, to the reader as well.  Time passes slowly.  Jones hails Brown, and offers him seven to four.  (After the race had terminated, I saw Jones cash up a £100 fresh bank-note, which I thought might have been more usefully invested.)  Robinson bets Smith what he likes that he does not name the winner; and one gent, with an unpleasing expression of countenance, offers to do a little business with me, which I decline, for reasons that I am not particularly desirous to communicate to my new acquaintance.  I am glad to see a policeman or two present, for one likes to know the protection of the law may be invoked in an extremity, and I keep near its manifest and outward sign.  The White Lion is doing a fine business; there is an active demand for beer and tobacco; and a gentleman who deals in fried fish soon clears off his little stock of delicacies, as likewise does a peripatetic vendor of sandwiches of a mysterious origin.  The heroes of the night slowly walk up and down the course, wearing long great coats, beneath which we may see their naked legs, and feet encased in light laced shoes.  Their backers are with them, and a crowd watches with curious eyes.  At length the course is cleared, a bell is rung, and they are off.  Six times round the course is a mile—six times ten are sixty.  Sixty times must they pass and repass that excited mob.  The favourite takes the lead at a steady running; he maintains it some time; he is longer than p. 90his opponent, but the latter is younger, and looks more muscular in his thighs.  Both men, with the exception of a cloth round the loins, are naked as when born; and as they run they scatter the mud, which mud thus scattered descends upon them in a by no means refreshing shower.  As round after round is run the excitement deepens; the favourite is greeted with cheers; but when at the end of the third mile he is passed by his competitor excites an enthusiasm which is intense.  Now the bettors tremble; the favourite attempts to get his old position; he gains on his foe—they are now neck and neck—cheer, boys, cheer—“Go it, Jem!” is the cry on many sides.  Jem the winner does go it; but, alas! Jem the loser cannot.  It is in vain he seeks the lead.  Fortune has declared against him, and in a little while he gives up—no longer the swiftest and fleetest of England’s sons—no longer the holder of the Champion’s Cup.  One involuntarily feels for fallen greatness, and as Pudney was led away utterly beaten, I could not find it in my heart to rejoice.  I left a crowd still on the grounds.  I left Rowan still running, as he was bound to do, till he had completed his ten miles: and I left the White Lion, in-doors and out, doing a very considerable business.  It seemed to me the White Lion was not such a fool as he looked, and that he felt, let who will win or lose, he with his beer and brandy would not come off second best.  This, undoubtedly, was the worst part of the business.  The race over, for further excitement, the multitude would rush to the White Lion—p. 91the losers to drown their sorrow, the winners to spend their gains; the many, who were neither winners nor losers, merely because others did so; and thus, as the hours pass, would come intoxication, anger, follies, and, perhaps, bitterness of heart for life.

May I here enumerate the heroes of pedestrianism?  Let me name Robert Skipper, who walked a thousand miles in a thousand successive half-hours—let me not forget Captain Barclay, who walked a thousand miles in a thousand successive hours—let me record the fame of Captain John T. G. Campbell, of the 91st, who, accoutred in the heavy marching order of a private soldier, on the Mallow and Fermoy road, did ten miles in 107¼ minutes.  All honour be to such! long may their memories be green!  Let me beg the considerate reader not to forget West, who ran forty miles in five hours and a half.  Ten miles an hour is done by all the best runners.  It is said West accomplished 100 miles in 18 hours.  I read in a certain work devoted to manly exercises, “at the rate of four miles an hour a man may walk any length of time.”  The writer begs to inform the reader that he doubts this very much.


Mr. Commissioner Harvey is particularly fond of figures.  The other day he caused an account to be taken of the number of persons entering the city within a given period.  The result shows that the amazing number of 706,621 individuals passed into the city by various entrances during the 24 hours tested; and as the day selected, we are told, was free from any extraordinary attraction to the city, there can be no doubt that the return furnishes a fair estimate of the average daily influx.  Of this large number it appears only one-fourteenth, or 49,242, entered the city in the night—that is, between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.  Now this enormous population in very large numbers patronises London Bridge for many reasons—the principle argument with them in its favour undoubtedly is, that it is the shortest way from their homes to their places of business, or vice versâ.  Last year, for instance, the North London Railway carried nearly six millions of passengers; the London and South Western more than four millions; the p. 93Blackwall nearly five millions; while 13,500,000 passengers passed through the London Bridge Station.  Mr. Commissioner Harvey, however, makes the importance of London Bridge still clearer.  On the 17th of March last year he had a man engaged in taking notes of the traffic, and he furnished Mr. Commissioner Harvey with the following figures:—In the course of the twenty-four hours it appears 4,483 cabs, 4,286 omnibuses, 9,245 wagons and carts, 2,430 other vehicles, and 54 horses led or ridden, making a total of 20,498, passed over the bridge.  The passengers in the same period were, in vehicles 60,836, on foot 107,074, total, 167,910.  As we may suppose this traffic is an increasing one.  The traffic across the old bridge in one July day, 1811, was as follows:—89,640 persons on foot, 769 wagons, 2,924 carts and drays, 1,240 coaches, 485 gigs and taxed carts, and 764 horses.  We must recollect that in 1811 the bridges across the Thames were fewer.  There was then no Waterloo Bridge, no Hungerford Suspension Bridge, no bridge at Southwark, no penny steamboats running every quarter of an hour from Paul’s Wharf to the Surrey side, and London Bridge was far more important than now.  The figures we have given also throw some light on the manners and customs of the age.  Where are the gigs now, then the attribute of respectability?  What has become of the 1,240 coaches, and what a falling off of equestrianism—the 764 horses of 1811 have dwindled down (in 1859) to the paltry number of 54.  Are there no night equestrians in London p. 94now.  It is early morn and we stand on London Bridge, green are the distant Surrey hills, clear the blue sky, stately the public buildings far and near.  Beneath us what fleets in a few hours about to sail, with passengers and merchandize to almost every continental port.  Surely Wordsworth’s Ode written on Westminster Bridge is not inapplicable:—

“Earth has not anything to show more fair.
Dull would he be of sense who could pass by,
A sight so touching in its majesty;
This city now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Shops, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air;
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, arch, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt a calm so deep,
The river glideth at his own sweet will,
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep
And all that mighty heart is lying still!”

Of the traffic by water visible from London Bridge as you look towards Greenwich, the best idea may be gathered by a few figures.  A Parliamentary Return has been issued, showing that the amount of tonnage cleared from the port of London was in 1750, 796,632 tons, in 1800 the tonnage entered was 796,632; and that cleared was 729,554.  In 1857 the tonnage entered had risen to 2,834,107, and that cleared to 2,143,884.

p. 95The traffic on London Bridge may be considered as one of the sights of London.  A costermonger’s cart, laden with cabbages for Camberwell, breaks down, and there is a block extending back almost all the way to the Mansion House.  Walk back and look at the passengers thus suddenly checked in their gay career.  Omnibuses are laden with pleasure seekers on their way to the Crystal Palace.  Look, there is “affliction sore” displayed on many a countenance and felt in many a heart.  Mary Anne, who knows she is undeniably late, and deserves to be left behind, thinks that her young man won’t wait for her.  Little Mrs. B. sits trembling with a dark cloud upon her brow, for she knows Mr. B. has been at the station since one, and it is now past two.  Look at the pale, wan girl in the corner, asking if they will be in time to catch the train for Hastings.  You may well ask, poor girl.  Haste is vain now.  Your hours are numbered—the sands of your little life are just run—your bloodless lip, your sunken eye, with its light not of this world—your hectic cheek, from which the soft bloom of youth has been rudely driven, make one feel emphatically in your case that “no medicine, though it oft’ can cure, can always balk the tomb.”  What have you been—a dressmaker, stitching fashionable silks for beauty, and at the same time a plain shroud for yourself?  What have you been—a governess, rearing young lives at the sacrifice of your own?  What have you been—a daughter of sin and shame?  Ah, well, it is not for me to cast a stone at you.  Hasten on, every moment now p. 96is worth a king’s ransom, and may He who never turned a daughter away soften your pillow and sustain your heart in the dark hour I see too plainly about to come.  What is this, a chaise and four greys.  So young Jones has done it at last.  Is he happy, or has he already found his Laura slow, and has she already begun to suspect that her Jones may turn out “a wretch” after all.  I know not yet has the sound of his slightly vinous and foggy eloquence died away; still ring in his ears the applause which greeted his announcement that “the present is the proudest of my life,” and his resolution, in all time to come, in sunshine and in storm, to cherish in his heart of hearts the lovely being whom he now calls his bride; but as he leans back there think you that already he sees another face—for Jones has been a man-about-town, and sometimes such as he get touched.  This I know—

“Feebly must they have felt
Who in old time attired with snakes and whips
The vengeful furies.”

And even Jones may regret he married Laura and quarrelled with Rose,

“A rosebud set with little wilful thorns
   And sweet as English air could make her.”

What a wonderful thing it is when a man finds himself married, all the excitement of the chase over.  Let all Jones’ and Laura’s and persons about to marry see well that they are really in love before they take the final plunge.  But hear that big party behind in a p. 97Hansom, using most improper language.  Take it easy, my dear sir, you may catch the Dover train, you may cross to Calais, you may rush on to Paris, but the electric telegraph has already told your crime, and described your person.  Therefore be calm, there is no police officer dogging you, you are free for a few hours yet.  And now come our sleek city men, to Clapham and Norwood, to dine greatly in their pleasant homes.  The world goes well with them, and indeed it ought, for they are honest as the times go: are they slightly impatient, we cannot wonder at it, the salmon may be overboiled, just because of that infernal old coster’s cart.  Hurra! it moves, and away go busses, and carriages, and broughams, and hansoms, and a thousand of Her Majesty’s subjects, rich and poor, old and young, saint and sinner, are in a good temper again, and cease to break the commandments.  Stand here of a morning while London yet slumbers; what waggons and carts laden with provisions from the rich gardens of Surrey and Kent, come over London Bridge.  Later, see how the clerks, and shopmen, and shopwomen, hurry.  Later still, and what trains full of stockbrokers, and commission agents, and city merchants, from a circle extending as far as Brighton, daily are landed at the London Bridge Stations, and cross over.  Later still, and what crowds of ladies from the suburbs come shopping, or to visit London exhibitions.  If we were inclined to be uncharitable, we might question some of these fair dames; I dare say people connected with p. 98the divorce courts might insinuate very unpleasant things respecting some of them; but let us hope that they are the exception, and that if Mrs. C. meets some one at the West End who is not Captain C., and that if the Captain dines with a gay party at Hampton Court, when he has informed his wife that business will detain him in town; or that if that beauty now driving past in a brougham has no business to be there, that these sickly sheep do not infect the flock, and, in the language of good Dr. Watts, poison all the rest.  Yet there are tales of sin and sorrow connected with London Bridge.  Over its stony parapets, down into its dark and muddy waters, have men leaped in madness, and women in shame; there, at the dead of night, has slunk away the wretch who feared what the coming morrow would bring forth, to die.  And here woman—deceived, betrayed, deserted, broken in heart, and blasted beyond all hope of salvation—has sought repose.  A few hours after and the sun has shone brightly, and men have talked gaily on the very spot from whence the poor creatures leapt.  Well may we exclaim—

“Sky, oh were are thy cleansing waters
Earth, oh where will thy wonders end.”

The Chronicles of Old London Bridge are many and of eternal interest.  When Sweyn, king of Denmark, on plunder and conquest bent, sailed up the Thames, there was a London Bridge with turrets and roofed bulwarks.  From 994 to 1750, that bridge, built and rebuilt many p. 99times, was the sole land communication between the city and the Surrey bank of the Thames.  In Queen Elizabeth’s time the bridge had become a stately one.  Norden describes it as adorned with “sumptuous buildings and statelie, and beautiful houses on either syde,” like one continuous street, except “certain wyde places for the retyre of passengers from the danger of cars, carts, and droves of cattle, usually passing that way.”  Near the drawbridge, and overhanging the river, was the famed Nonsuch House, imported from Holland, built entirely of timber, four stories high, richly carved and gilt.  At the Southwark end was the Traitor’s Gate, where dissevered and ghastly heads were hung suspended in the air.  In 1212, the Southwark end caught fire, and 3000 persons perished miserably in the flames.  In 1264 Henry III. was repulsed here by Simon de Mountfort, earl of Leicester.  Thundering along this road to sudden death rushed Wat Tyler, in 1381.  Here came forth the citizens, in all their bravery, ten years after, to meet Richard II.  Henry V. passed over this bridge twice, once in triumph, and once to be laid down in his royal tomb.  In 1450, we hear a voice exclaiming: “Jack Cade hath gotten London Bridge, and the citizens fly and forsake their houses;” and thus the chronicle goes on.  Nor must we forget the maid servant of one Higges, a needle-maker, who, in carelessly placing some hot coals under some stairs, set fire to the house, and thus raised a conflagration which appears to have been of the most extensive character.  p. 100On London Bridge lived Holbein and Hogarth.  Swift and Pope used to visit Arnold the bookseller on this bridge.  From off this bridge leaped an industrious apprentice to save the life of his master’s infant daughter, dropped into the river by a careless nursemaid; the father was Lord Mayor of London.  The industrious apprentice married the daughter, and the great-grandson of the happy pair was the first duke of Leeds.  On the first of August, 1831, New London Bridge was opened with great pomp by King William IV., and since then the stream of life across the bridge has rushed without intermission on.

p. 101CHAPTER X.

When is common sense to reign over man?  According to Dr. Cumming, in a few years we are to have the Millennium.  Will it be then?  I fear not.  At any rate, I am certain it will not be before.

Look, for instance, at the House of Commons: the Lords meet for debate a little after five, p.m., and separate generally a little before six, p.m., and it is perfectly astonishing what an immense amount of business they get through; but the Commons meet at four, p.m., and sit till one or two, a.m.; the consequence is, that very little business is done: that we have a great deal too much talking; that really conscientious members, who will not forsake their duties, but remain at their posts, are knocked up, and have to cut Parliament for a time; and that what business is done is often performed in the most slovenly and unsatisfactory manner.  A few minutes’ reflection will make this clear.  A bill is introduced, or, rather, leave is given to a member to bring p. 102it in.  It is read a first time.  To the first reading of a bill generally little opposition is made.  The member who introduces it makes a long speech in its favour, and little discussion takes place.  The real fight is when it is read a second time.  There are many ways of throwing out a bill without the discourtesy of a positive rejection.  The first of these means consists in giving a preference to other “orders;” the second is, moving “the previous question.”  Another is, moving “that the second reading take place this day six months.”  If the bill get over the second reading, it then goes into committee, when objectionable clauses are struck out and fresh ones added, till the original proposer of the bill can hardly recognise his offspring.  The bill is then read a third time, and afterwards sent up to the Lords.  Possibly the Lords object to some parts of it; a conference with the Commons is then desired, which accordingly takes place, the deputation of the Commons standing with uncovered heads, while the Lords, with hats on, retain their seats.  The matter being amicably arranged, and a disagreeable collision avoided, the bill is passed through the Lords, where it usually creates a far more orderly and less passionate debate than it has done in the Commons.  The Lords being assembled in their own House, the Sovereign, or the Commissioners, seated, and the Commons at the bar, the titles of the several bills which have passed both Houses are read, and the King or Queen’s answer is declared by the clerk of the Parliaments in Norman-French.  p. 103To a bill of supply the assent is given in the following words:—“Le roy (or, la reine) remercie ses loyal subjects, accepte leur bénévolence et ainsi le veut.”  To a private bill it is thus declared:—“Soit fait comme il est desiré.”  And to public general bills it is given in these terms:—“Le roy (or, la reine) le vent.”  Should the Sovereign refuse his assent, it is in the gentle language of “Le roy (or, la reine) s’aviser.”  As acts of grace and amnesty originate with the Crown, the clerk, expressing the gratitude of the subject, addresses the throne as follows:—“Les prélats, seigneurs, et commons, en ce present Parliament assemblés, au nom de tout vous autres subjects, remercient très-humblement votre majesté, et prient à Dieu vous donner en santé bonne vie et longue.”  The moment the royal assent has been given, that which was a bill becomes an Act, and instantly has the force and effect of law, unless some time for the commencement of its operation should have been specially appointed.  Occasionally a bill is introduced in the form of a motion, at other times as a resolution, but generally the bill is the favourite form.  Any bill which the Lords can originate may be introduced and laid on the table by any individual peer, without the previous permission of the house; but in the Commons, no bill can be brought in unless a motion for leave be previously agreed to.  Mr. Dodd tells us, “During the progress of a bill the House may divide on the following questions:—1. Leave to bring it in.  2. When brought in, whether it shall then be read a first time, and if not, when?  3. On p. 104the first reading.  4. On the second reading.  5. That it be committed.  6. On the question that the Speaker do leave the chair, for the house to resolve itself into such committee.  7. That the report of the committee be received.  8. That the bill be re-committed.  9. That it be engrossed.  10. That it be read a third time.  11. That it do pass.  12. The title of the bill.  These are quite exclusive of any divisions concerning the particular days to be appointed for proceeding with any stage of the measure, or of any proceedings in committee, or any amendments, or any clauses added to or expunged from the measure in or out of committee.”  Thus it is Acts of Parliament often made in one sense are ruled by the judges to have another, and we have Acts to amend Acts in endless succession.  Tom Moore tells us of an Act of Parliament referring to a new prison, in which it was stated that the new one should be built with the materials of the old, and that the prisoners were to remain in the old prison till the new one was ready.  This is an extreme case, but blunders equally absurd are made every day.

What is the remedy?  Why, none other than the panacea recommended by Mr. Lilwall as applicable to every earthly ill—the Early-closing Movement.  Early closing in the House of Commons would shut up the lawyers, who want to make long speeches—the diners-out, who enter the House ofttimes in a state of hilarity more calculated to heighten confusion than to promote business—the young swells, to whom the House of Commons p. 105is a club, and nothing more.  We should have a smaller house, but one more ready to do business; and if we should lose a few lawyers on promotion, and, consequently, very industrious, very active, and very eloquent, that loss would be compensated by the addition to the House of many men of great talent and political capacity, who cannot stand the late hours and the heated atmosphere, and the frightfully lengthy speeches, and the furious partisanship of the House as at present constituted.

I have seen it suggested that a large board should be placed behind the Speaker’s chair; and that when any member makes a point, or advances an argument, the point or argument, whether for or against the measure, should be noted down and numbered; that a speaker, instead of repeating the point or argument, as is now the case, should simply mention the No. 1, 2, or 3, as the case may be, and say, “I vote for the bill because of No. 1,” and so on.  We should then have no vain repetitions; business would be done better, and more speedily; members would not be confused; the reporters would not have so much trouble as now; and the patient public would be spared the infliction in their daily organs of column after column of parliamentary debate.  The advantage of the Early-closing Movement in the House of Commons would be, that it would compel the House to adopt some measure of the kind.  It is curious to trace the increase of late hours.  In Clarendon’s time “the House met always at eight o’clock and rose at p. 106twelve, which were the old parliamentary hours, that the committees, upon whom the great burden of the business lay, might have the afternoon for their preparation and despatch.”  Sometimes the House seems to have met at cock-crowing.  In the journals and old orders of the House we find such entries as the following:—“March 26, 1604.  Having obtained permission of her Majesty to attend at eight, the Commons previously met at six to treat on what shall be delivered tending the reason of their proceedings.”  Again, “May 31, 1614.  Ordered, that the House shall sit every day at seven o’clock in the morning, and to begin to read bills for the first time at ten.”  The journals record that on Sunday, August 8, 1641, at six o’clock a.m., the Commons go down to St. Margaret’s, and hear prayers and a sermon, returning to the House at nine.  This, however, was occasioned by the eagerness of the members to prevent the king’s journey to Scotland, and a minute was made that it should not be considered as a precedent.  The Long Parliament resolved, “that whosoever shall not be here at prayers every morning at eight o’clock shall pay one shilling to the poor.”  James I. mentioned as an especial grievance, that the Commons brought the protestation concerning their liberties into the House at six o’clock at night, by candle-light!  “I move,” said Serjeant Wylde, “against sitting in the afternoon.  This council is a grave council and sober, and ought not to do things in the dark.”  Sir A. Haselrigge said he never knew good come of candles.  Sir William Waddington p. 107brought in two from the clerk against the direction of the House, and was committed to the Tower next morning.  Having sat on the occasion till seven, Sir H. Vane complained, “We are not able to hold out sitting thus in the night.”  After the Revolution matters got worse.  Bishop Burnet complains that the House did not meet till twelve; and in the next generation Speaker Onslow adds, “This is grown shamefully of late, even to two of the clock.”  In the time of Pitt and Fox the evil reached its climax.  The motion for the Speaker leaving the chair on Fox’s India Bill was put to the vote at half-past four in the morning.  During the Westminster scrutiny the House sometimes sat till six a.m.  Pitt, speaking on the slave-trade, introduced his beautiful quotation relative to the sun as it was then just bursting on his audience.  Sir Samuel Romilly tells us that he would not unfrequently go to bed at his usual time, and rising next morning somewhat earlier than usual would go down to be present at the division.  I think it was during the Reform debates that an hon. M.P., having been present at the discussion the previous night, and being desirous to secure a good place the next evening, went down to the House early in the morning for that special purpose, and found the debate, at the commencement of which he had been present, and which he thought had long been over, proceeding hotly and furiously.  In the last session of parliament the house sinned greatly in this respect.  I am told this state of things is for the advantage of the lawyers, who otherwise would not be p. 108able to attend in the House at all; but it may be questioned whether this is such a benefit as some suppose, and certainly the midnight hour, especially after mind and body have alike been jaded by the strain of a long debate, is not the best for passing measures of a legislative character; and yet it is in the small hours, when members are weary, or, we fear, in some cases slightly vinous, or indifferent and apathetic, that most of the real business of the nation is performed.  Now against this bad habit for many years Mr. Brotherton waged an incessant but unsuccessful war.  As soon as ever midnight arrived the hon. gentleman was on his legs, warning honourable members of its arrival, and of the injury which late hours must necessarily occasion to their own health, and to the satisfactory progress of public business.  In his attempts Mr. Brotherton then was aiming as much at the good of the nation as well as the advantage of the members of the House.  Many were the scenes occasioned by Mr. Brotherton’s importunity.  Mr. Grant says, “I have seen one look him most imploringly in the face, and heard him say, in tones and with a manner as coaxing as if the party had been wooing his mistress, ‘Do not just yet, Mr. Brotherton; wait one half hour until this business be disposed of.’  I have seen a second seize him by the right arm, while a third grasped him by the left, with the view of causing him to resume his seat, and when his sense of duty overcame all these efforts to seduce or force him from its path, I have seen a fourth honourable gentleman p. 109rush to the assistance of the others, and taking hold of the tail of his coat, literally press him to his seat.  I have seen Mr. Brotherton, with a perseverance beyond all praise, in his righteous and most patriotic cause, suddenly start again to his feet in less than five minutes, and move a second time the adjournment of the House, and I have again had the misfortune to see physical force triumph over the best moral purposes.  Five or six times have I witnessed the repetition of this in one night.  On one occasion, I remember seeing an honourable member actually clap his hand on Mr. Brotherton’s mouth, in order to prevent his moving the dreaded adjournment.”  Constant ill-success damped Mr. Brotherton’s ardour.  There was a time when his object seemed attained, but in the last session he attended the Commons were as bad as ever.  Mr. Brotherton having made a futile attempt when the session was young, in favour of the Early-closing Movement, abandoned his position in despair.  The call for Brotherton ceased to be a watchword with our less hopeful senators, and Mr. Bouverie’s view, that more business was got through after twelve o’clock at night than before, appeared to be generally acquiesced in, with a species of reluctant despair which was unanswerable.  Still it is true that early to bed and early to rise will make the Commons more healthy and wise, though the general practice seems to be the other way.


Have you seen Charles Matthews in “Used Up?”  Sir Charles Coldstream represents us all.  We are everlastingly seeking a sensation, and never finding it.  Sir Charles’s valet’s description of him describes us all:—“He’s always sighing for what he calls excitement—you see, everything is old to him—he’s used up—nothing amuses him—he can’t feel.”  And so he looks in the crater of Vesuvius and finds nothing in it, and the Bay of Naples he considers inferior to that of Dublin—the Campagna to him is a swamp—Greece a morass—Athens a bad Edinburgh—Egypt a desert—the pyramids humbugs.  The same confession is on every one’s lips.  The boy of sixteen, with a beardless chin, has a melancholy blasé air; the girl gets wise, mourns over the vanity of life, and laughs at love as a romance; a heart—unless it be a bullock’s, and well cooked,—is tacitly understood to be a mistake; and conscience a thing that no one can afford to keep.  Our young men are bald at twenty-five, and woman is exhausted still sooner.  I am told Quakers p. 111are sometimes moved by the spirit.  I am told mad Ranters sing, and preach, and roar as if they were in earnest.  I hear that there is even enthusiasm amongst the Mormons; but that matters little.  We are very few of us connected with such outre sects, and the exceptions but prove the rule.

But a truce to generalities.  Let us give modern instances.  Look at Jenkins, the genteel stockbroker.  In autumn he may be seen getting into his brougham, which already contains his better-half and the olive-branches that have blessed their mutual loves.  This brougham will deposit the Jenkinses, and boxes of luggage innumerable, at the Brighton Railway Terminus, whence it is their intention to start for that crowded and once fashionable watering-place.  Jenkins has been dying all the summer of the heat.  Why, like the blessed ass as he is, did he stop in town, when for a few shillings he might have been braced and cooled by sea breezes, but because of that monotony which forbids a man consulting nature and common sense.  Jenkins only goes out of town when the fashionable world goes; he would not for the life of him leave till the season was over.

Again, does ever the country look lovelier than when the snows of winter reluctantly make way for the first flowers of spring?  Is ever the air more balmy or purer than when the young breath of summer, like a tender maiden, kisses timidly the cheek, and winds its way, like a blessing from above, to the weary heart?  Does ever the sky look bluer, or the sun more glorious, or the p. 112earth more green, or is ever the melody of birds more musical, than then? and yet at that time the beau monde must resort to town, and London drawing-rooms must emit a polluted air, and late hours must enfeeble, and bright eyes must become dull, and cheeks that might have vied in loveliness with the rose, sallow and pale.

It is a fine thing for a man to get hold of a good cause; one of the finest sights that earth can boast is that of a man or set of men standing up to put into action what they know to be some blessed God-sent truth.  A Cromwell mourning the flat Popery of St. Paul’s—a Luther, before principalities and powers, exclaiming, “Here stand I and will not move, so help me God!”—a Howard making a tour of the jails of Europe, and dying alone and neglected on the shores of the Black Sea—a Henry Martyn leaving the cloistered halls of Cambridge, abandoning the golden prospects opening around him, and abandoning what is dearer still, the evils of youth, to preach Christ, and Him crucified, beneath the burning and fatal sun of the East—or a Hebrew maiden, like Jepthah’s daughter, dying for her country or her country’s good,—are sights rare and blessed, and beautiful and divine.  All true teachers are the same, and are glorious to behold.  For a time no one regards their testimony.  The man stands by himself—a reed, but not shaken by the wind—a voice crying in the wilderness—a John the Baptist nursed in the wilds, and away from the deadening spell of the world.  p. 113Then comes the influence of the solitary thinker on old fallacies; the young and the enthusiastic rush to his side, the sceptic and the scoffer one by one disappear, and the world is conquered; or if it be not so, if he languishes in jail like Galileo, or wanders on the face of the earth seeking rest and finding none, like our Puritan forefathers; or die, as many an hero has died, as the Christ did, when the power of the Prince of Darkness prevailed, and the veil of the Temple was rent in twain; still there is for him a resurrection, when a coming age will honour his memory, collect his scattered ashes, and build them a fitting tomb.  Yet even this kind of heroism has come to be but a monotonous affair.

Now-a-days the thing can be done, and in one way—a meeting at Exeter Hall, a dinner at Freemasons’ tavern, Harker for toast-master, a few vocalists to sing between the pieces, and for chairman a lord by all means; if possible, a royal duke.  The truest thing about us is our appetite.  Our appreciation of a hero is as our appreciation of a coat; a saviour of a nation and a Soyer we class together, and do justice to both at the same time.  We moderns eat where our fathers bled.  Our powers we show by the number of bottles of wine we can consume; our devotion is to our dinners; the sword has made way for the carving-knife; our battle is against the ills to which gluttonness and wine-bibbing flesh is heir; the devil that comes to us is the gout; the hell in which we believe and against which we fight is indigestion; our means of grace are blue pill and p. 114black draught.  All art and science and lettered lore, all the memories of the past and the hopes of the future—

“All thoughts, all passions, all delights—
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,”

now-a-days, tend to dinner.  Our sympathy with the unfortunate females, or the indigent blind, with the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, or with the diffusion of useful knowledge at home—with the Earl of Derby or Mr. Cobden—with Lord John Russell or Mr. Disraeli—with the soldier who has blustered and bullied till the world has taken him for a hero—with the merchant who has bound together in the peaceful pursuits of trade hereditary foes—with the engineer who has won dominion over time and space—with the poet who has sat

      “In the light of thought
      Singing hymns unbidden,
      Till the world is wrought
To sympathy, with hopes and joys it heeded not,”

finds a common mode of utterance, and that utterance to all has a common emphasis.  Even the Church apes the world in this respect; and even that section which calls itself non-conforming, conforms here.  When dinner is concerned, it forgets to protest, and becomes dumb.  Dr. Watts might sing,

“Lord, what a wretched land is this
   That yields us no supplies;”

p. 115but his successors do not.  I read of grand ordination dinners, of grand dinners when a new chapel is erected or an old pastor retires.  But lately I saw one reverend gentleman at law with another.  Most of my readers will recollect the case.  It was that of Tidman against Ainslie.  Dr. Tidman triumphs, and the Missionary Society is vindicated.  What was the consequence?—a dinner to Dr. Tidman at the Guildhall Coffee-house, at which all the leading ministers of the denomination to which he belonged were present.

The Queen is the fountain of honour.  What has been the manner of men selected for royal honour?  The last instance is Lord Dudley, who has been made an earl.  Why?  Is it that he lent Mr. Lumley nearly £100,000 to keep the Haymarket Opera House open? because really this is all the general public knows about Lord Dudley.  The other day Lord Derby was the means of getting a peerage for a wealthy and undistinguished commoner.  Is it come to this, then, that we give to rich men, as such, honours which ought to be precious, and awarded by public opinion to the most gifted and the most illustrious of our fellows.  If in private life I toady a rich swell, that I may put my feet under his mahogany, and drink his wine, besides making an ass of myself, I do little harm; but if we prostitute the honours of the nation, the nation itself suffers; and, as regards noble sentiments and enlightened public spirit, withers and declines.

Guizot says—and if he had not said it somebody p. 116else would—that our civilization is yet young.  I believe it.  At present it is little better than an experiment.  If it be a good, it is not without its disadvantages.  It has its drawbacks.  Man gives up something for it.  One of its greatest evils perhaps is its monotony, which makes us curse and mourn our fate—which forces from our lips the exclamation of Mariana, in the “Moated Grange”—

“I’m a aweary, aweary—
Oh, would that I were dead;”

or which impels us, with the “Blighted Being” of Locksley Hall, to long to “burst all bonds of habit and to wander far away.”  Do these lines chance to attract the attention of one of the lords of creation—of one who,

“Thoughtless of mamma’s alarms,
Sports high-heeled boots and whiskers,”

—what is it, we would ask, most magnanimous Sir, in the most delicate manner imaginable, that keeps you standing by the hour together, looking out of the window of your club in Pall Mall, in the utter weariness of your heart, swearing now at the weather, now at the waiter, and, anon, muttering something about your dreaming that you dwelt in marble halls, but that very monotony of civilization which we so much deprecate?  Were it not for that, you might be working in this working world—touching the very kernel and core of life, instead of thus feeding on its shell.  p. 117And if it be that the soft eye of woman looks down on what we now write, what is it, we would ask, O peerless paragon, O celestial goddess, but the same feeling that makes you put aside the last new novel, and, in shameless defiance of the rules taught in that valuable publication and snob’s vade mecum—“Hints on the Etiquette and the Usages of Society,” actually yawn—aye, yawn, when that gold watch, hanging by your most fairy-like and loveliest of forms, does not tell one hour that does not bear with it from earth to heaven some tragedy acted—some villainy achieved—some heroic thing done: aye, yawn, when before you is spread out the great rôle of life, with its laughter and tears—with its blasts from hell—with its odours coming down from heaven itself.  A brave, bold, noble-hearted Miss Nightingale breaks through this monotony, and sails to nurse the wounded or the dying of our army in the East, and “Common Sense” writes in newspapers against such a noble act; and a religious paper saw in it Popery at the very least.  What a howl has there been in some quarters because a few clergymen have taken to preaching in theatres!  Even, woman’s heart, with its gushing sympathies, has become dead and shrivelled up, where that relentless scourge—that demon of our time, the monotony of civilization—has been suffered to intrude.  It is owing to that, that when we look for deeds angels might love to do, our daughters, and sisters, and those whom we most passionately love, scream out Italian songs which neither they p. 118nor we understand, and bring to us, as the result of their noblest energies, a fancy bag or a chain of German wool.  Such is the result of what Sir W. Curtis termed the three R’s and the usual accomplishments.  Humanity has been stereotyped.  We follow one another like a flock of sheep.  We have levelled with a vengeance; we have reduced the doctrine of human equality to an absurdity—we live alike, think alike, die alike.  A party in a parlour in Belgrave Square, “all silent and all d---d,” is as like a party in a parlour in Hackney as two peas.  The beard movement was a failure; so was the great question of hat reform, and for similar reasons.  We still scowl upon a man with a wide-a-wake, as we should upon a pick-pocket or a cut-throat.  A leaden monotony hangs heavy on us all.  Not more does one man or woman differ from another than does policeman A1 differ from policeman A 999.  Individuality seems gone: independent life no longer exists.  Our very thought and inner life is that of Buggins, who lives next door.  The skill of the tailor has made us all one, and man, as God made him, cuts but a sorry figure by the side of man as his tailor made him.  This is an undeniable fact: it is not only true but the truth.  One motive serves for every variety of deed—for dancing the polka or marrying a wife—for wearing white gloves or worshipping the Most High.  “At any rate, my dears,” said a fashionable dame to her daughters when they turned round to go home, on finding that the crowded state of the church to which they repaired would not admit of their worshipping p. 119according to Act of Parliament,—“At any rate, my dears, we have done the genteel thing.”  By that mockery to God she had made herself right in the sight of man.  Actually we are all so much alike that not very long since in Madrid a journeyman tailor was mistaken for a Prince.  It is not always that such extreme cases happen; but the tendency of civilization, as we have it now, is to work us all up into one common, unmeaning whole—to confound all the old distinctions by which classes were marked—to mix up the peasant and the prince, more by bringing down the latter than elevating the former; and thus we all become unmeaning, and monotonous, and common-place.  The splendid livery in which “Jeames” rejoices may show that he is footman to a family that dates from the Conquest: it may be that he is footman to the keeper of the ham and beef shop near London Bridge.  The uninitiated cannot tell the difference.  A man says he is a lord; otherwise we should not take him for one of the nobles of the earth.  A man puts on a black gown, and says he is a religious teacher: otherwise we should not take him for one who could understand and enlighten the anxious yearnings of the human heart.  The old sublime faith in God and heaven is gone.  We have had none of it since the days of old Noll: it went out when Charles and his mistresses came in.  But instead, we have a world of propriety and conventionalism.  We have a universal worshipping of Mrs. Grundy.  A craven fear sits in the hearts of all.  Men dare not be generous, high-minded, and true.  A p. 120man dares not act otherwise than the class by which he is surrounded: he must conform to their regulations or die; outside the pale there is no hope.  If he would not be as others are, it were better that a millstone were hung round his neck and that he were cast into the sea.  If, as a tradesman, he will not devote his energies to money-making—if he will not rise up early and sit up late—if he will not starve the mind—if he will not violate the conditions by which the physical and mental powers are sustained—he will find that in Christian England, in the nineteenth century, there is no room for such as he.  The externals which men in their ignorance have come to believe essential to happiness, he will see another’s.  Great city “feeds”—white-bait dinners at Blackwall, and “genteel residences,” within a few miles of the Bank or the bridges—fat coachmen and fiery steeds—corporation honours and emoluments,—a man may seek in vain if he will not take first, the ledger for his Gospel, and mammon for his God.  It is just the same with the professions.  Would the “most distinguished counsel” ever have a brief were he to scorn to employ the powers God has given him to obtain impunity for the man whose heart’s life has become polluted with crime beyond the power of reform.  Many a statesman has to thank a similar laxity of conscience for his place and power.


I am not in the best of humours.  The wind and weather of the last few months have been bad enough to vex the temper and destroy the patience of a saint.  I wish the papers would write a little more about reforms at home, and not trouble themselves about the Emperor of the French.  I wish country gentlemen, when airing their vocabularies at agricultural dinners, would not talk so much of our friends across the water being desirous to avenge the disgrace of Waterloo, as if there were any disgrace to France, after having been a match, single-handed, for all Europe for a generation, in being compelled to succumb at last.  I wish we could be content with trading with China, without sending ambassadors to Pekin, and endeavouring by fair means or foul to make that ancient city, as regards red-tapeism and diplomatic quarrels, as great a nuisance as Constantinople is now.  I wish Mr. George Augustus Sala, with that wonderful talent of his for imitating Dickens and Thackeray, would quite forget there was such p. 122gentlemen in the world, and write independently of them.  And I wish the little essayists, who copy Mr. George Augustus Sala, and are so very smart and facetious by his aid, would either swim without corks, or not swim at all.  Thank heaven, none of them are permanent, and most of them speedily sink down into limbo.  Where are the gaudily-covered miscellanies, and other light productions of this class? if not dead, why on every second-hand book-stall in London, in vain seeking a sale at half-price, and dear at the money.  But the spirit of which they are the symptom, of which they are the outward and visible sign, lives.  Directly you take up one of these books, you know what is coming.  But after all, why quarrel with these butterflies, who, at any rate, have a good conceit of themselves, if they have but a poor opinion of others?  Fontaine tells of a motherly crab, who exclaimed against the obliquity of her daughter’s gait, and asked whether she could not walk straight.  The young crab pleaded, very reasonably, the similarity of her parent’s manner of stepping, and asked whether she could be expected to walk differently from the rest of the family?

This fable throws me back on general principles; our writers—our preachers—our statesmen, are fearful, and tremble at the appearance of originality.  The age overrules us all, society is strong, and the individual is consequently weak.  We have no patrons now, but, instead, we have a mob.  Attend a public meeting,—the speaker who is the most applauded, is the man most p. 123given to exaggeration.  Listen to a popular preacher,—is he not invariably the most commonplace, and in his sermons least suggestive, of men?  When a new periodical is projected, what care is taken that it shall contain nothing to offend, as if a man or writer were worth a rap that did not come into collision with some prejudices, and trample on some corns.  In describing some ceremony where beer had been distributed, a teetotal reporter, writing for a teetotal public, omitted all mention of the beer.  This is ridiculous, but such things are done every day in all classes.  Society exercises a censorship over the press of the most distinctive character.  The song says,

“Have faith in one another.”

I say, have faith in yourself.  This faith in oneself would go far to put society in a better position than it is.  A common complaint in everybody’s mouth is the want of variety in individual character—the dreary monotony we find everywhere pervading society.  Men and women, lads and maidens, boys and girls, if we may call the little dolls dressed up in crinoline and flounces, and the young gentlemen in patent-leather boots, such, are all alike.  Civilization is a leveller of the most destructive kind.  Man is timid, imitative, and lazy.  Hence, it is to the past we must turn, whenever we would recall to our minds how sublime and great man, in his might and majesty, may become.  Hence it is we can reckon upon but few who dare to stand alone in devotedness to truth and human right.  Most men are p. 124enslaved by the opinions of the little clique in which they move; they can never imagine that beyond their little circle there can exist anything that is lovely or of good report.  We are the men, and wisdom will die with us, is the burden of their song.  We judge not according to abstract principles, but conventional ideas.  Ask a young lady, of average intelligence, respecting some busy hive of industry, and intelligence, and life.  “Oh!” she exclaims, “there is no society in such a place.”  Ask an evangelical churchman as to a certain locality, and he will reply, “Oh it is very dark, dark, indeed;” as if there was a spot on this blessed earth where God’s sun did not shine.  The dancing Bayaderes, who visited London some fifteen years back, were shocked at what they conceived the immodest attire of our English dames, who, in their turn, were thankful that they did not dress as the Bayaderes.  All uneducated people, or rather all unreflective people, are apt to reason in this way; orthodoxy is my doxy, heterodoxy, yours.  But we English, especially, are liable to this fallacy, on account of our insular position, and the reserve and phlegm of our national character.  Abroad people travel more, come more into collision with each other, socially are more equal.  We can only recognize goodness and greatness in certain forms.  People must be well-dressed, must be of respectable family, must go to church, and then they may carry on any rascality.  Sir John Dean Paul, Redpath, and others, were types of this class.  Hence it is society stagnates—such is a description of a p. 125general law, illustrated in all history, especially our own.  Society invariably sets itself against all great improvements in their birth.  Society gives the cold shoulder to whatever has lifted up the human race—to whatever has illustrated and adorned humanity—to whatever has made the world wiser and better.  Our fathers stoned the prophets, and we continue the amiable custom.  Our judgment is not our own, but that of other people.  We think what will other people think? our first question is not, Is a course of action right or wrong? but; What will Mr. Grundy say?  Here is the great blunder of blunders.  John the Baptist lived in a desert.  “If I had read as much as other men,” said Hobbes, “I should have been as ignorant as they.”  “When I began to write against indulgences,” says Luther, “I was for three years entirely alone; not a single soul holding out the hand of fellowship and coöperation to me.”  Of Milton, Wordsworth writes, “his soul was like a star, and dwelt apart.”

The great original thinker of the last generation, John Foster, actually fled the face of man.  What a life of persecution and misrepresentation had Arnold of Rugby to endure, and no wonder, when we quote against the conclusions of common sense the imaginary opinions of an imaginary scarecrow we term society.  This deference to the opinion of others is an unmitigated evil.  In no case is it a legitimate rule of action.  The chances are that society is on the wrong side, as men of independent thought and action are in the minority, p. 126and even if society be right; it is not from a desire to win her smile or secure her favour that a man should act.  It is not the judgment of others that a man must seek, but his own; it is by that he must act—by that he must stand or fall—by that he must live—and by that he must die.  All real life is internal, all honest action is born of honest thought; out of the heart are the issues of life.  The want of exercising one’s own understanding has been admirably described by Locke.  It is that, he says, which weakens and extinguishes this noble faculty in us.  “Trace it, and see whether it be not so; the day labourer in a country village has commonly but a small pittance of knowledge, because his ideas and notions have been confined to the narrow bounds of a poor conversation and employment; the low mechanic of a country town does somewhat outdo him—porters and cobblers of great cities surpass him.  A country gentleman, leaving Latin and Learning in the University, who returns thence to his mansion-house, and associates with his neighbours of the same strain, who relish nothing but hunting and a bottle; with these alone he spends his time, with these alone he converses, and can away with no company whose discourses go beyond what claret and dissoluteness inspire.  Such a patriot, formed in this happy day of improvement, cannot fail, we see, to give notable decisions upon the bench at quarter sessions, and eminent proofs of his skill in politics, when the strength of his purse, and party, have advanced him to a more p. 127auspicious situation. * * * To carry this a little further: here is one muffled up in the zeal and infallibility of his own sect, and will not touch a book, or enter into debate, with a person that will question any of those things which, to him, are sacred.”  People wonder now-a-days why we have so many societies—the cause is the same.  Men cannot trust themselves; to do that requires exercise of the understanding.  A man must take his opinions from society; he can do no battle with the devil unless he have an association formed to aid him.  At Oxford the example of an individual, Dr. Livingstone, created a generous enthusiasm.  A society was formed under distinguished patronage, subscription lists were opened, a public meeting was held, and the most renowned men of the day—the Bishop of Oxford and Mr. Gladstone—lent to the meeting not merely the attraction of their presence, but the charm of their oratorical powers.  The result is a very small collection, and a talk of sending out six missionaries to christianize Africa.  When societies are formed there is no end to the absurdities they are guilty of.  Just think of the men of science at Aberdeen, all rushing over hill and dale to Balmoral, where they were permitted, not to converse with majesty (that were too great an act of condescension), but to have lunch in an apartment of the royal residence.  Then, again, what murmurs were there at Bradford, because, at the close of the meeting, the younger members of the Social Reform Congress were not permitted to dance the polka.  If old p. 128Columbus were alive now a new world would never have been discovered.  We should have had a limited liability company established for the purpose.  A board of lawyers, and merchants, and M.P.’s, as directors, would have been formed.  Some good-natured newspaper editors would have inserted some ingenious puffs,—the shares would have gone up in the market,—the directors would have sold out at a very fair rate of profit.  Columbus would have made one or two unsuccessful voyages—the shares would have gone down—the company would have been wound up—and no western continent, with its vast resources, would ever have been heard of.  I like the old plan best; I like to see a man.  If I go into the House of Commons I hear of men, somewhat too much talk of men is there; on one side of the house Pitt is quoted, on another Fox, or Peel, or Canning.  If Pitt, and Fox, and Canning, and Peel had done so depend upon it we should never have heard their names.  It is a poor sign when our statesmen get into this habit; it is a mutual confession of inability to act according to the wants and necessities of the age.  They quote great men to hide their littleness.  They imagine that by using the words of great statesmen they may become such, or, at any rate, get the public to note them for such themselves.  They use the names of Pitt and Fox as corks, by means of which they may keep afloat.  Well, I must fain do the same; while I rail against custom, I must e’en follow her.

“He seems to me,” said old Montaigne, “to have p. 129had a right and true apprehension of the power of custom, who first invented the story of a country-woman who, having accustomed herself to play with and carry a young calf in her arms, and daily continuing to do so as it grew up obtained this by custom, that when grown to a great ox she was still able to bear it.  For, in truth, custom is a violent and treacherous schoolmistress.  She by little and little, slyly and unperceived, slips in the foot of her authority, but having by this gentle and humble beginning, with the benefit of time, fixed and established it, she then unmasks a furious and tyrannical countenance, against which we have no more the courage or the power so much as to lift up our eyes.  We see it at every turn forcing and violating the rules of nature.  Usus efficacissimus rerum omnium magister.  Custom is the greatest master of all things.”

And now I finish with a fable.  A knight surprised a giant of enormous size and wickedness sleeping, his head lying under the shade of a big oak.  The knight prayed to heaven to aid his strength, and lifting his battle-axe dashed it with all his might on the giant’s forehead.  The giant opened his eyes, and drowsily passing his hand over his eyes, murmured, “The falling leaves trouble my rest,” and straight he slumbered again.  The knight summoned his energies for another stroke, again whirled his axe in the air, and furiously dashed it to the utter destruction of the giant’s scull.  The latter merely stirred, and said, “The dropping acorns disturb my sleep.”  The knight flung down his p. 130axe and fled in despair from an enemy who held his fiercest blows and his vaunted and well-tried might but as falling leaves and dropping acorns.  Reader, so do I.  My hardest blows shall seem but as leaves and acorns to the giant with whom I am at war, and would fain destroy.


Last year 25,924 couples were married in the metropolis.  The Registrar-General tells us the increase of early marriages chiefly occurs in the manufacturing and mining districts.

In London 2.74 of the men and 12.11 of the women who married were not of full age.  There is an excess of adults in the metropolis at the marrying ages over 21; and there are not apparently the same inducements to marry early, as exist in the Midland counties.

Sir Cresswell Cresswell must have but a poor opinion of matrimony.  At the very moment of my writing, I am told there are six hundred divorce cases in arrear; that is, after the hundreds whose chains he has loosened, there are, it appears, already twelve hundred more of injured wives and husbands eager to be free.  The evil, such as it is, will extend itself.  Under the old system there was, practically speaking, no redress, and a man and woman tied together would endeavour to p. 132make the best of it; now, if they feel the more they quarrel and disagree with each other, the better chance they have of being at liberty, it is to be feared, in some cases, husband and wife will not try so heartily to forget and forgive, as husbands and wives ought to do.  I do not say there ought not to be liberty, where all love has long since died out, and been followed by bad faith and cruelty, and neglect.  I believe there should be, and that the Divorce Act was an experiment imperatively required.  Where mutual love has been exchanged for mutual hate, it is hard that human law should bind together, in what must be life-long misery—misery perhaps not the less intense that it has uttered no word of complaint, made no sign, been unsuspected by the world, yet all the while dragging its victim to an early or premature grave.  But human nature is a poor weak thing, and many a silly man or silly woman may think that Sir Cresswell Cresswell may prove a healing physician, when their malady was more in themselves than they cared to believe.  I hear of one case where a lady having £15,000 a-year in her own right, has run off with her footman.  Would she have done that if there had been no Sir Cresswell?  I fancy not.  Again, another married lady, with £100,000 settled on her, runs off with the curate.  Had it not occurred to her that Sir Cresswell Cresswell would, in due time, dissolve her union with her legitimate lord, and enable her to follow the bent of her passions, would she not have fought with them, and in the conquest of them p. 133won more true peace for herself, than she can ever hope for now?  I believe so.  In the long commerce of a life, there must be times, when we may think of others we have known, when we may idly fancy we should have been happier with others; but true wisdom will teach us that it is childish to lament after the event, that it were wiser to take what comfort we can find, and that, after all, it is duty, rather than happiness, that should be the pole-star of life.  Southey told Shelley a man might be happy with any woman, and certainly a wise man, once married, will try to make the best of it.  But to return to Sir Cresswell Cresswell, I wish that he could give relief without stirring up such a pool of stinking mud.  Who is benefitted by the disgusting details?  It is a fine thing for the penny papers.  They get a large sale, and so reap their reward.  The Times, also, is generally not very backward when anything peculiarly revolting and indecent is to be told; but are the people, high or low, rich or poor, the better?  I find it hard to believe they are.  How husbands can be false, how wives can intrigue, how servants can connive, we know, and we do not want to hear it repeated.  If Prior’s Chloe was an ale-house drab, if the Clara of Lord Bolingbroke sold oranges in the Court of Requests, if Fielding kept indifferent company, we are amused or grieved, but still learn something of genius, even from its errors; but of the tribe Smith and Brown I care not to hear—ever since the Deluge the Smiths and Browns have been much the same.  What am I the better for p. 134learning all the rottenness of domestic life?  Is that fit reading for the family circle?  I suppose the newspapers think it is, but I cannot come to that opinion.  Can it have a wholesome effect on the national feeling?  Can it heighten the reverence for Nature’s primary ordinance of matrimony?

In the Book of Common Prayer I read that matrimony is “holy;” that it was instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is between Christ and his Church, which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence and first miracle that he wrought in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of St. Paul to be honourable among all men, and, therefore, is not by any to be enterprised, “nor taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts or appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God, duly considering the causes for which matrimony was ordained.”

Alas! our age is not a marrying age; and, therefore, I fear it is an unholy one: neither our young men nor our young maidens honestly fall in love and marry now-a-days.  I don’t know that the Registrar-General’s report says such.  I know that many of his marriages are affairs of convenience; unions of businesses, or thousands, or broad lands; not marriages “holy,” in the sense of the prayer-book and of God.  A man who marries simply for love, exposes himself to ridicule; the modern ingenuous youth is not so green as all that; if p. 135he marries at all, it must be an heiress, or, at any rate, one well dowered.  The last thing your modern well-bred beauty does, is to unite her fate with that of a man in the good old-fashioned way.  She has learnt to set her heart upon the accidents of life,—the fine house, the establishment; and if these she cannot have, she will even die an old maid.  The real is sacrificed to the imaginary; the substance, to the shadow; the present, to the morrow that never comes.  A man says he will become rich; he will sacrifice everything to that; and the chances are he becomes poor in heart and purse.  The maiden—

With the meek brown eyes,
In whose orb a shadow lies,
Like the dusk in evening skies—

loses all her divinity, and pines away, and becomes what I care not to name; and the world—whose wisdom is folly—sanctions all this.  It calls it prudence, foresight.  A man has no business to marry till he can keep a wife, is the cuckoo cry; which would have some meaning if a wife was a horse or a dog, and not an answer to a human need, and an essential to success in life.  The world forgets that man is not an automaton, but a being fearfully and wonderfully framed.  No machine, but a lyre responsive to the breath of every passing passion: now fevered with pleasure; now toiling for gold; anon seeking to build up a lofty fame; and that the more eager and passionate and daring he is—the more eagle is his eye, and the loftier his aim, the more he needs woman—p. 136the comforter and the helpmeet—by his side.  Our fathers did not ignore this, and they succeeded.  Because the wife preserved them from the temptations of life; because she, with her words and looks of love, assisted them to bear the burdens and fight the battles of life; because she stood by her husband’s side as his helpmeet; bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh; soothing each sorrow; aiding each upward aim: it was thus they became great; and it is because we do not thus, we pale before them.  It is not good for man to be alone.  Man has tried to disobey the divine law, and lived alone; and what has been the result?—even when tried by men of superior sanctity, as in the case of the Romish Church, has the world gained in happiness or morality?  I trow not.  Take the limited experience of our own age, and fathers and mothers know, to their bitter cost, I am right.  The manhood, brave and generous, much of it wrecked in our great cities, will bear me out.  But matrimony is more than this.  It spite of the hard matter-of-fact, sceptical, and therefore sensual character of the passing day, will it not be confessed that the union of man and woman, as husband and wife, is the greatest earthly need, and is followed by the greatest earthly good?  Unhappy marriages there may be; imprudent ones there may be; but such are not the rule; and very properly our legislators have agreed to give relief in such cases.  “Nature never did betray the soul that loved her;” and nature tells men and women to marry.  Just as the young man is entering upon life—just as he comes to independence p. 137and man’s estate—just as the crisis of his being is to be solved, and it is to be seen whether he decide with the good, and the great, and the true, or whether he sink and be lost for ever, Matrimony gives him ballast and a right impulse.  Of course it can’t make of a fool a philosopher; but it can save a fool from being foolish.  War with nature and she takes a sure revenge.  Tell a young man not to have an attachment that is virtuous, and he will have one that is vicious.  Virtuous love—the honest love of a man for the woman he is about to marry, gives him an anchor for his heart; something pure and beautiful for which to labour and live; and the woman, what a purple light it sheds upon her path; it makes life for her no day-dream; no idle hour; no painted shadow; no passing show; but something real, earnest, worthy of her heart and head.  But most of us are cowards and dare not think so; we lack grace; we are of little faith; our inward eye is dim and dark.  The modern young lady must marry in style; the modern young gentleman marries a fortune.  But in the meanwhile the girl grows into an old maid, and the youth takes chambers—ogles at nursery-maids and becomes a man about town—a man whom it is dangerous to ask into your house, for his business is intrigue.  The world might have had a happy couple; instead, it gets a woman fretful, nervous, fanciful, a plague to all around her.  He becomes a sceptic in all virtue; a corrupter of the youth of both sexes; a curse in whatever domestic circle he penetrates.  Even worse may p. 138result.  She may be deceived, and may die of a broken heart.  He may rush from one folly to another; associate only with the vicious and depraved; bring disgrace and sorrow on himself and all around; and sink into an early grave.  Our great cities show what becomes of men and women who do not marry.  Worldly fathers and mothers advise not to marry till they can afford to keep a wife, and the boys spend on a harlot more in six months than would keep a wife six years.  Hence it is, all wise men (like old Franklin) advocate early marriages; and that all our great men, with rare exceptions, have been men who married young.  Wordsworth had only £100 a year when he first married.  Lord Eldon was so poor that he had to go to Clare-market to buy sprats for supper.  Coleridge and Southey I can’t find had any income at all when they got married.  I question at any time whether Luther had more than fifty pounds a year.  Our successful men in trade and commerce marry young, like George Stephenson, and the wife helps him up in the world in more ways than one.  Dr. Smiles, in his little book on Self-Help, gives us the following anecdote respecting J. Flaxman and his wife—“Ann Denham was the name of his wife—and a cheery, bright-souled, noble woman she was.  He believed that in marrying her he should be able to work with an intenser spirit; for, like him, she had a taste for poetry and art! and, besides, was an enthusiastic admirer of her husband’s genius.  Yet when Sir Joshua Reynolds—himself a bachelor—met p. 139Flaxman shortly after his marriage, he said to him, ‘So, Flaxman, I am told you are married; if so, sir, I tell you, you are ruined for an artist.’  Flaxman went straight home, sat down beside his wife, took her hand in his, and said, ‘Ann, I am ruined for an artist.’  ‘How so, John?  How has it happened?  And who has done it?’  ‘It happened,’ he replied, ‘in the church; and Ann Denham has done it.’  He then told her of Sir Joshua’s remark—whose opinion was well known, and has been often expressed, that if students would excel they must bring the whole powers of their mind to bear upon their art from the moment they rise until they go to bed; and also, that no man could be a great artist, unless he studied the grand works of Raffaelle, Michael Angelo, and others, at Rome and Florence.  ‘And I,’ said Flaxman, drawing up his little figure to its full height, ‘I would be a great artist.’  ‘And a great artist you shall be,’ said his wife, ‘and visit Rome, too, if that be really necessary to make you great.’  ‘But how?’ asked Flaxman.  ‘Work and economise,’ rejoined his brave wife: ‘I will never have it said that Ann Denham ruined John Flaxman for an artist.’  And so it was determined by the pair that the journey to Rome was to be made when their means would admit.  ‘I will go to Rome,’ said Flaxman, ‘and show the President that wedlock is for man’s good rather than for his harm, and you, Ann, shall accompany me.’  He kept his word.”

By forbidding our young men and maidens matrimony, p. 140we blast humanity in its very dawn.  Fathers, you say you teach your sons prudence—you do nothing of the kind; your worldly-wise and clever son is already ruined for life.  You will find him at Cremorne and at the Argyle Rooms.  Your wretched worldly-wisdom taught him to avoid the snare of marrying young; and soon, if he is not involved in embarrassments which will last him a life, he is a blasé fellow; heartless, false; without a single generous sentiment or manly aim; he has—

“No God, no heaven, in the wide world.”


Every now and then, while the courts sit at Westminster, the general public derives an immense amount of entertainment from what are described as breach of promise cases.  It is true there is a wonderful sameness about them.  The defendant is amorous, and quotes a great deal of poetry.  The court vastly enjoys the perusal of his letters, and the papers quote them entire and unabridged.  The lady suffers much, and the public sympathies are decidedly with her.  Of course there are some atrocious cases, for which the men who figure in them cannot be punished too severely; but as a rule, we do think the men have the worst of it.  A young man is thrown into the company of an attractive young female; they both have little to do at the time, and naturally fall in love.  She has as much to do with the matter as he, and yet, if he begins to think that he cannot keep a wife—that the marriage will not promote the happiness of the parties concerned—that the affair was rash, and had better be broken off—he is liable to an p. 142action for breach of promise.  Such cases are constantly occurring.  The jury being decidedly romantic—thinking love in a cottage to be Elysium—forgetting the vulgar saying that when poverty comes in at the door love flys out of the window—mark their sense of the enormity of the defendant’s conduct in refusing to make an imprudent marriage, by awarding to the lady substantial damages.

Now, we can understand how English jurymen—generally men with marriageable daughters, can easily make up their minds to give damages in such cases, but we more than question the invariable justice of such a course.  When affection has died out, we can conceive no greater curse than a marriage; yet either that must be effected, or the jury will possibly agree to damages that may ruin the defendant for life.  This we deem bad, nor do we think that a woman should always have before her the certainty that the promise given in that state of mind, which poets describe as brief insanity, an amiable jury will consider as an equivalent to an I.O.U. to any amount they please.  We do protest against confounding a legal promise to marry with a promise to pay the bearer on demand £1000.  We rather fear that this distinction is likely to be overlooked, not but that occasionally an action for breach of promise has a very happy effect.  It serves as a moral lesson to ardent youths of an amorous disposition.  It also furnishes the broken-hearted and forsaken fair with a dowry, which has been known to purchase her a husband in almost as p. 143good a state of preservation as the gentleman who was to have borne that honoured name.  All that we find fault with is the number of such cases.

A gay deceiver is no enviable character for any respectable man to wear.  No man of mental or moral worth would voluntarily assume it.  But a spinster coming to a court of justice, and saying to the defendant, “You have taken my heart, give me your purse,” is no very desirable position for a woman, though she may have the fortitude and strength of mind of a Mrs. Caudle herself.  At any rate, the legal view of woman is very different to the poetical one, and for ourselves we infinitely prefer the latter.  The view of the jury is, that a woman not marrying a man who has evidently no love for her, or he would not have married another, is to the plaintiff an injury—we think it is a happy escape—and an injury which deepens as the courtship lengthens.  The jury reasons that the plaintiff, Mary Brown, is as good-tempered a girl as ever lived—that provided she could but marry she did not care who made her his wife.  The position of the sexes is reversed, and the woman sings—

“How happy could I be with either,
Were t’other dear charmer away.”

According to the jury, if Jones had not married Mary Brown, Jenkins would—consequently hers is a double loss.  So that if a woman reaches the ripe age of thirty, by this arithmetic she is more wronged than she would have been had she been a blooming lass of twenty.  In p. 144the same manner there is a delicate sliding-scale for defendants in such cases.  A bridegroom well-made and well-to-do has to pay no end of sovereigns for the damage he has done; while a short time since, a defendant who had been attacked with paralysis was let off for £50.  Woman, in this view of the case, is as dangerous as a money-lender or a shark.  Byron tells us—

“Man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart—
’Tis woman’s whole existence.”

But our modern juries give us a very different reading.  We prefer, however, to abide by the old.

Most undoubtedly to win the affections of a woman and then desert her is a crime—but it is of a character too ethereal to be touched by human law.  If the woman’s heart be shattered by the blow, no amount of money-compensation can heal the wound, and a woman of much worth and of the least delicacy would shrink from the publicity such cases generally confer on all the parties interested in them.  But if the principle be admitted, that disappointment in love can be atoned for by the possession of solid cash—if gold can heal the heart wounded by the fact that its love has been repelled—that its confidence has been betrayed—we do not see why the same remedy should not be within the reach of man.  And yet this notoriously is not the case.  When anything of the sort is tried the unhappy plaintiff seldom gets more than a farthing damages.  Besides, what upright, honourable man would stoop for p. 145a moment to such a thing; and yet, in spite of all modern enlightment, we maintain that the injury of a breach of promise on the part of a woman is as great as that on the part of a man.  In the morning of life men have been struck down by such disappointments, and through life have been blasted as the oak by the lightning’s stroke.  With his heart gone—demoralised, the man has lived to take a fearful revenge for the first offence, possibly to become a cold cynic—sceptical of man’s honour and woman’s love.  Yet breach of promise cases are not resorted to by men, and we cannot congratulate our fair friends on the fact that so many of them come into courts of law as plaintiffs in such cases.  Bachelors will fear that, after all, it is true that—

“Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare,
And Mammon wins his way where seraphs might despair.”

And the result will be that while the more impetuous of us will commit ourselves at once, and come within the clutches of law, the more cool and cunning will excite hopes, which deferred will make sick the heart, and inspire an affection which may exist but to torment the heart in which it had its birth.  Ay, beneath such mental grief the beauty and blessedness of life may vanish, never to return, and yet all the while he who did the deed may defy the power of human law.

Some letters which have recently appeared in the Manchester Examiner may be taken as evidence that these breach of promise cases interfere very materially p. 146with marriages.  In the immediate neighbourhood of Manchester the question, Why don’t the men propose? appears to have excited considerable interest.  In that busy region men fall in love and get married, and have families, and are gathered to their fathers, just as do the rest of her Majesty’s subjects in other parts of the United Kingdom.  But it seems the Lancashire witches are many of them still on their parent’s hands.  Paterfamilias gets anxious.  Deeply revolving the question under the signature of “A Family Man,” he sends the following letter to the Editor of the journal alluded to—

“Sir, Your cosmopolitan journal,” he writes to the Editor, “must have many readers interested in the question ‘Why don’t the men propose?’  It would be dangerous to say I have found the entire solution to this enigma, for fear of disclosing a mare’s nest; but I will warrant that one of the most powerful causes of the shyness of men in matters matrimonial, is the frequency of breach of promise prosecutions.  A lady may be quite justified in prosecuting the man who has deceived her, but is she wise in doing so?  Or if acting wisely for herself, does she not lower the character of her sex?  Men think so, depend upon it.  Your wavering, undecided, fastidious bachelor is a great newspaper reader, and devours breach of promise cases, and after reading that Miss Tepkins has obtained so many hundred pounds’ damages against Mr. Topkins, soliloquises:—‘Humph!  It seems, then, that the best salve for a wounded heart is gold.  Bah! women only marry for a home.  It is clear p. 147the woman is the only gainer, else why estimate her disappointment at so many hundred pounds?  She gives a man nothing for his promise to marry but her heart (if that), and how much is it worth?  What recompense can he get from her should she steal back the heart she professes to have given him!  I’ll take jolly good care I never make a promise of marriage to a woman (which means a bond for so many hundred or thousand pounds).  No; if I marry, I marry; but catch me promising.’  And thus, for fear of being trapped into committing himself, he avoids the society of women (where he might learn not only to really love, but to see the sophistry of his reasoning), and eventually settles down into old bachelorhood.  What do the ladies say to this?  Don’t let them think I am a crusty old bachelor.  Heaven forfend!  I protest my supreme admiration of the fair sex, and had better say I am, A Family Man.”

“An unmarried young girl” replies: “Sir, In looking over your valuable paper of to-day, I saw a letter headed, ‘Why do not the men propose?’ which I read with great interest, as I found that the writer, although of the opposite sex, was of the same opinion as myself, in regard to ladies prosecuting their late lovers for breach of promise of marriage.  I do think it shows in them a mean spirit of revenge, of which a lady should not be guilty.  It certainly does look as if they thought more of a shelter, a name, and a ring, than they do of a comfortable home and a loving and affectionate husband.  I do not think it wise of them, as it must lower themselves p. 148and all their sex in the estimation of the other sex.  Besides, it does not speak much of their love for their lovers, for you know love hides many faults.  I have never been deceived by any man, and I hope I never may, but the best advice I can give to my poor deceived sisters is to try and forget their faithless swains, and leave them to the stings and reflections of their own consciences, which will be a far greater punishment to them than parting with thousands of gold and silver.  Let them be thankful that they have shown themselves in their true colours before they had entered on a life of unhappiness and misery, feeling assured that the man who could deceive a fond, loving woman is a man of no principle at all.  For my own part, I would scorn the man who ever proved false to a woman,—I would not trust him even in business.”  After this condemnation by a woman, let us trust we shall hear less for the future of breach of promise cases.


In the Loudon Bankruptcy Court, at times, melancholy revelations are made—revelations which, indeed, do “point a moral,” though they can hardly be said “to adorn a tale.”  Too generally the manifestations are the same—the hastening to be rich, which to so many has been a snare—the vulgar attempt to keep up appearances and impose on the world—the recklessness and want of honour and principle which prevail where we should least have expected it, in the middle classes, who, as the heart and core of the nation, at times are apt to be too indiscriminately eulogised.  Last week an illustration of what we mean occurred.  It came out in evidence that a bankrupt had goods from a London wholesale house, not for his legitimate trade, but merely that, by their sale at less than cost price, funds might be provided for the passing exigencies of the hour.  These goods were not unpacked, but at once sent up to a London auctioneer and sold.  Nor, it seems, was this an isolated case—the custom is a common one; it is but what takes place p. 150every day.  Again, a tradesman is in difficulties—he goes to his principal creditor, who says, “Well you must not stop yet—you must try and reduce my debt first,”—goods are ordered from Manchester or Birmingham—and, perhaps without being unpacked, taken to the warehouse of the London creditor—the tradesman then applies to the Bankruptcy Court, and, as his books are well kept, a sine qua non with the Commissioners—and, as the principal creditor makes things as smooth as possible, the man gets a first-class certificate and begins again.  Bill discounters tell you of the number of forged bills which pass through their hands, and which are sure to be taken up when due.  Even the oldest and proudest firms are not free from shame.  My readers need not that I remind them of the conduct of Gurney, Overend, & Co. with reference to the forged spelter warrants.  A city lawyer, a man of considerable practice and experience, once assured me he did not believe there was such a thing as commercial morality—but we must hope that he had seen so much of the dark side, as to forget that there was a bright side at all, but that the true feeling in the city is not of the highest character is evident if we recall the sympathy displayed toward the directors of the Royal British Bank—and again exhibited in the case of Strachan and Sir John Dean Paul, or remember the ridiculous manifestations of the gentlemen of the Stock Exchange and Mincing Lane, of which Tom Sayers was the embarrassed subject.  How wide-spread was the delirium of the p. 151railway mania—what rascalities have been laid bare by the bursting of some of our insurance and other companies.  Take that list just published by Mr. Spachman, Jun., of the losses sustained by public companies through the inadequate system of the audit of accounts.  The list is short, but not sweet.

“The Royal British Bank.—Stopped payment in 1856.  The failure was caused by making advances to directors and others on improper and insufficient securities.  Capital, £200,000; deposits, £540,000; on which 15s. in the pound has been returned; deficiency, 5s. in the pound; £135,000; total, £335,000.

“The Tipperary Bank.—Failure caused by the frauds of Sadleir.  Accounts were wilfully falsified.  Capital, £500,000; deposits, £700,000; total, £1,200,000.  The whole has been lost.

“The London and Eastern Bank.—In this case the notorious Colonel Waugh appropriated to himself an amount equal to the whole paid-up capital of the bank, and has since absconded and set his creditors at defiance.  The loss exceeds £250,000.

“The Crystal Palace Company.—The frauds of Robson, committed by tampering with the transfer-books, entailed a loss of £100,000.

“The Great Northern Railway Company.—Redpath’s frauds, committed in a similar manner to Robson’s.  The auditors here were greatly at fault, as I understand that dividends were paid on a larger amount of stock than had been issued.  Loss, £250,000.

“The Union Bank of London.—The frauds just discovered, committed by the head cashier, William George Pullinger, by means of a fictitious pass-book, representing the account between the Union Bank and the Bank of England.  The frauds are said to have extended over a period of five years, and with a proper check in the audit, ought to have been detected in the first half-year.”

p. 152The men who did these things—the Redpaths, and Sadleirs, and Colonel Waughs—were men known and respected, be it remembered, in London life.

The Times says our law is worthy a nation of savages.  We have a great deal to do yet, just remember the Hudson testimonial.  There were our merchant princes, men of integrity, of talent, of skill—men who have made the name of British merchant a term of honour as far as our flag can reach.  If London wished to reward successful industry, it might have looked amongst them.  In this great city there was more than one lord of thousands, who came here with hardly a penny in his pocket, or shoes on his feet.  London might have raised a testimonial to one of them; and had it done so, every unfledged clerkling and embryo Rothschild would have glowed as he saw how industry, and wealth, and honour, went hand in hand.  With what delight would the young aspirant for wealth have returned to the study of those refreshing maxims in ethics which grandmammas so zealously impress upon the juvenile mind, and of which the British public are not a little fond.  But a testimonial was given to Mr. Hudson for none of these things.  It was not for honesty, or industry, or worth, that he was rewarded.  It was simply for speculation—for a course of conduct utterly hostile to legitimate business, which has made many a decent tradesman a bankrupt, and which has turned many an honest man into a knave.  England stamped with its approval a system the morality of which is somewhat questionable.  It bade the young man eschew the dulness p. 153of the counter and the office for the magic wand of speculation.  It passed by the industrious merchant, the philanthropist, the patriot, to worship the golden calf, as did the Hebrews of old.

Eighteen hundred years back, on the plains of Palestine, appeared a carpenter’s son, with a divine mission but a human heart.  He preached no cash gospel—He was no prophet in the eyes of the rich.  He had His testimonial—He reaped it in the bad man’s deadly hate.  Alas! the Hebrew nature is the true and universal one.  In Mr. Hudson’s, there is the testimonial of the rich—for the Christ, and those who would follow in His steps, there is the thorny path and the open tomb.  Let us not imagine that we are one whit better than the Hebrew.  The Hudson testimonial proves a common paternity.  Gold has still more charms than God.  As Mr. Bright, if not in so many words, but in spirit, says, “Perish Savoy, rather than not trade with France,” so the London merchant and tradesman ignore too often honour and conscience, and morality, for vulgar gain.

It requires great philosophy to get over the effects of City Life.  “Let any one,” says Addison, “behold the kind of faces he meets as soon as he passes Cheapside Conduit, and you see a deep attention and a certain feeble sharpness in every countenance; they look attentive, but their thoughts are engaged on mean purposes.”  This feeling is perpetuated.  Addison remarks of a gentleman of vast estate, whose grandfather was a trader, “that he is a very honest gentleman in his p. 154principles, but cannot for his life talk fairly; he is heartily sorry for it, but he cheats by constitution, and overreaches by instinct.”  I heard of such a one the other day—A, a city merchant, married his daughter to B.  A proposed that A and B should stock the cellar of the young couple with vine—B agreed—A purchased the wine—got a discount—and charged B full price for his share—yet A was rich as Crœsus.  I have seen this grasping displayed by city boys.  The writer was once accosted by some little children with a request that he would contribute something towards a “grotto,” on his declining any assistance, he was politely informed that he was no good, as he had “got no money.”

London abounds with Montagu Tiggs, and a genuine article of any kind in any trade, if by any possibility it can be adulterated, by painful experience we know it, is utterly impossibly to buy.  In trade, words have long ceased to represent things.  We need not dwell at length on the wrong thus inflicted on the community at large, all feel the minor evils resulting from such conduct, and occasionally we hear of sickness induced, or of life lost,—and for what? merely that Brown may get an extra farthing on the rascally rubbish he sells as the genuine article.  I fear these are not times in which we may argue for the abolition of death punishments.  Such things as these sadly teach us that in London commercial morality is in danger of undergoing gradual demoralisation—that we are in danger of becoming absorbed in the pursuit of material wealth, p. 155careless of the price it may cost—that our standard of morality is not now as it ought to be in a city that boasts its Christian life and light, and that from London the evil circulates all over the British realm.

In proof of this, we may appeal to the occurrences of every day.  Our great cities are shadowed over by the giant forms of vice and crime.  Like a thick cloud, ignorance, dense and dark, pervades the land.  Ascending higher to the well-to-do classes, we find bodily comfort to be the great end of life; we find everything that can conduce to its realization is understood—that the priests and ministers of the sensual are well paid—that a good cook, like a diamond, has always value in the market.  M. Soyer, as cook, in the Reform Club, pocketed, we believe, £800 a year.  Hood, in the dark days of his life, when weakened by the fierce struggle with the world and its wants, became the prey of the spoiler, and would have died of starvation had not Government granted him a pension.  Many a man, in whose breast genius was a presence and a power has been suffered to pine and starve; but who ever heard of a cook dying of starvation?  How is it, then, that such is the case, that so much is done for the body, and so little for the mind? that at this time the teacher of spiritual realities can but at best scrape together as much salary as a lawyer’s clerk?  We are not speaking now of wealthy fellows who repose on beds of roses, but of the busy earnest men who from the pulpit, or the press, or the schoolmaster’s desk, proclaim the morality and truth without which society p. 156would become a mass of corruption and death.  How is it that they are overlooked, and that honour is paid to the soldier who gives up his moral responsibility, and does the devil’s work upon condition that food and raiment be granted him—to mere wealth and rank—to what is accidental rather than to what is true and valuable in life?  The truth is our civilization is hardly worthy of the name?  We may say, in the language of Scripture, we have not attained, neither are we already perfect.  We have but just seen the dim grey of morn, and we boast that we bask in the sunshine of unclouded day.  Our commercial morality brands our civilization with a voice of thunder, as an imposture and a sham.

Undoubtedly we are a most thinking, rational, sober, and religious people.  It is a fact upon which we rather pride ourselves.  It is one of which we are firmly convinced, and respecting which we are apt to become somewhat garrulous, and not a little dull.  On this head we suffer much good-natured prosing in ourselves and others.  Like the Pharisees of old, we go up into the temple and thank God that we are not rationalists, like the Germans, or infidels, like the French.  We are neither Turks nor Papists, but, on the contrary, good honest Christian men.  It may be that we are a little too much given to boasting—that we are rather too fond of giving our alms before men—that when we pray, it is not in secret and when the door is shut, but where the prayer can be heard and the devotion admired; but we are what we are—and we imagine we get on indifferently well.  We might, possibly, p. 157be better—certainly we might be worse; but, as it is, we are not particularly dissatisfied, and have ever, on our faces, a most complacent smirk, testifying so strongly, to our pleasing consciousness, of the many virtues we may happen to possess, but in spite of all this we need a considerable increase and improvement as regards what is called commercial morality.


The newspapers, a few years since, contained an instance of folly such as we seldom meet with, even in this foolish generation.  Two young men—gents, we presume—one Sunday evening promenading Regent Street, the admired of all beholders, met two young ladies of equally genteel manners, and equally fashionable exterior.  It is said,

“When Greek meet Greek, then comes the tug of war.”

In this case, however, the adage was reversed.  The encounter, so far from being hostile, was friendly in the extreme.  Our gay Lotharios, neither bashful nor prudent, learned that their fascinating enchantresses were the daughters of a Count, whose large estates were situated neither in the moon, nor in the New Atlantic, nor in the “golden Ingies,” nor in the lands remote, where a Gulliver travelled or a Sinbad sailed, but in France itself.  That they had come to England, bringing with them simply their two hundred pounds a quarter, that they might, in calm retirement—without the p. 159annoyances to which their rank, if known, would subject them—judge for themselves what manner of men we were.  The tale was simple, strange, yet certainly true.  Ladies of charming manners, and distinguished birth—young—lovely—each with two hundred pounds a quarter—cast upon this great Babylon, without a friend—no man with the heart of an Englishman could permit such illustrious strangers to wander unprotected in our streets.  Accordingly an intimacy was commenced—letters written behind the counter, but dated from the Horse Guards, signed as if the composer were a peer of the realm, were sent in shoals to Foley-place.  The result was, that after our Regent Street heroes were bled till no more money could be had, the secret was discovered, and they found themselves, not merely miserably bamboozled, but a laughing-stock besides.

But this tale has a moral.  Ellam—he of the ill-spelt letters and the Horse Guards—was a shopman somewhere in Piccadilly.  No person of any education could have been taken in by so trumpery a tale.  Did the young men in our shops have time for improvement, could they retire from business at a reasonable hour, could they be permitted to inform and strengthen the mind, such a remarkable instance of folly as that to which we have alluded could not possibly occur.

The gent of the Regent Street style, of whom poor Wright used to sing to an Adelphi audience, was evidently a very badly-dressed and ill-bred-fellow in spite of the fact that his vest was of the last cut, that p. 160his tile was faultless, that his boots were ditto, and that none could more gracefully

“puff a cigar.”

The gents of to-day are the same.  I was amused by hearing of a party of them, connected with one of the city houses, who went into the country one Easter Monday to enjoy themselves; they did enjoy themselves, as all young fellows should, thoroughly, but from their enjoyment they were recalled to a sense of dignity, by a characteristic remark of one of them, as he saw passers by, “Hush, hush!” he exclaimed, “They will think we are retail.”  A writer in the Builder remarking the degeneracy of regular cocknies attributes it to the want of good air, the expensive nature of a good education, the sedentary employment of many of them.  And no doubt these reasons are the true ones, and of considerable force.  Well might Coleridge anticipate for his son as prosperous career as compared with his own.

         “I was reared
In the great city, pent ’mid cloister dim,
And saw naught lovely but the sky and stars;
But thou, my babe, shall wander in the breeze,
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountains; beneath the clouds
Which image in their arch both lakes and shores,
And mountain crags, so shall thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds unchangeable,
Of that eternal language which thy God utters.”

This is true, and hence, let us judge leniently of the lad living within the sound of Bow Bells.  Nature is p. 161the best and truest teacher a man can have—and it is little of nature that the cockney sees, or hears, and feels.  He goes to Richmond, but, instead of studying the finest panorama in the world, he stupifies himself with doubtful port; he visits the Crystal Palace, but it is for the sake of the lobster-salad; he runs down to Greenwich, not to revel in that park, beautiful still in spite of the attacks of London on its purity, but to eat white-bait; he takes, it may be, the rail or the steamboat to Gravesend, but merely that he may dance with milliners at Tivoli.  The only idea of a garden to a London gent, is a place where there is dancing, and drinking, and smoking going on.  And this is a type of his inbred depravity.  He has no rational amusements.  In the winter time shut up the casinos, and do away with the half-price at the theatres, and the poor fellow is hors de combat, and has nothing left him but suicide or delirium tremens.  Literary and Scientific Institutions don’t answer in London—even a place like the Whittington Club, where any respectable young man belonging to the middle classes may find a home, is by no means (so I have understood) a success.

Tom Moore says there is not in the world so stupid or boorish a congregation as the audience of an English play-house.  I fear there is some truth in this as regards London.  The regular cockney is not a fine sample of the genus homo, in the first place he is very conceited, and when a man is that, it is little that will do him good; in the second place, he thinks only of business and pleasure, he lives well, dresses well, goes to church once p. 162on the Sunday, and laughs at new-fangled opinions, and wonders why people grumble, and believes all he reads in the Times.  If you want to start any successful agitation you must begin it in the provinces.  The Anti-Corn Law League had its seat at Manchester, the Reform agitation had its head quarters at Birmingham.  The wisest thing done by the United Kingdom-Alliance, was to plant themselves in Manchester rather than in London.  Sydney Smith said it required a severe surgical operation to make a Scotchman understand a joke, it is almost as difficult to get a Londoner to understand anything new; he is slow to recognise worth or virtue, and if any of his own connection rise, he exclaims, with the writing-master, who would not believe Newton was a good mathematician, “the fool, he is an hour over a sum in the rule of three.”

The truth is we are a city of shopkeepers; and if intellectual pursuits be denied to those engaged in trade, the consequence must be the popular opinion must be that of those who know little else than the business of the shop, and as a consequence a curse will go forth to the remotest corner of the land.  Bigotry, prejudice, falsehood, and passion will be rampant and rife, and truth and reason will be trampled under foot.  Just as manhood is forming, just as the moral and intellectual parts of our nature are developing themselves, just as life becomes a reality, and glimpses of the work to be done, and of the blessedness of doing it, catch and charm the youthful eye, the victim is compelled to stand p. 163behind the counter, and is threatened with beggary if he fail practically to remember that the pursuit of money, to the utter exclusion of aught higher and nobler, is the end for which life is given man.  No wonder such a system fearfully avenges itself—that the sensual is exalted—that we meet so little in accordance with principle and truth.  Debarred from intellectual pursuits, what awaits our young men but frivolous excitement?  Ignorant, with the feelings of our common nature unnaturally aroused—with minds enfeebled by lack of healthy exercise—our middle class—the class perhaps the most important in our land—stands by society in its conventionalism and falsehood and wrong, and we mourn and sigh over giant ills, that we cannot grapple with effectually because we go the wrong way to work.

A great want of our age is education for the middle classes.  We want to have them taught to believe in something else than the shop or the desk.  We want them to believe the mind as fully entitled to their care as the body, and the money-bag but poor and impotent compared with the well-spent life.  We would publish the all-important truth—a truth that shall live and fructify when the great city in which we write shall have become a desert-waste—the truth that man was made in the image of his maker, and that the heart that beats within is capable of divinity itself.  We may have drawn in dark colours our national state.  We fear the picture is but too true; and that till something be done to burst the bonds of habit, and educate the youth in our shops, p. 164the picture will continue to be true.  We write not to deprecate the land of our birth; it is one dear to us by every remembrance of the past and hope for the future.  Because we thus cling to it do we deplore and expose what we deem to be wrong, and that our social condition may be healthy, that our civilization may be complete that our faith may be a living leavening power, do we ask the emancipation of the sons and daughters of trade—that that long-looked-for hour may quickly come.


In spite of Lord Palmerston’s injudicious attempt to check the rifle movement in its infancy, there can be no doubt now but that it is a complete success.  The appeal to the martial spirit—more or less strong in the hearts of all Englishmen—has been most cheerfully responded to.  Something of the kind was evidently required to excite the energies and to occupy the leisure hours of our numerous youth.  We are always in danger of becoming too peaceable a folk.  Our avocations, all of a mercantile or professional character,—our amusements, less out-door, and more sedentary, than ought to be the case,—the very humane spirit which pervades all English society,—our enormous wealth; all tend to make us peaceably disposed.  None can be alarmed at our warlike demonstrations.  No nation in Europe need fear a British invasion.  No foreign government can possibly pretend that the British government harbours designs of active hostility against any European power.  Indeed, the naturally and necessarily peaceful intentions of this country are candidly p. 166acknowledged by the most eminent men in France itself.  Michel Chevalier, in his account of a recent visit to this country, has done ample justice to our moderation, and to our desire to be at peace with all the world.

We may, then, view the increase of our volunteer riflemen without any alarm—nay, rather with a considerable amount of pleasure.  People connected with fast life, tell us that the falling off of the attendance of young men at the casinos is something very remarkable; the reason of this is attributed to the fact that they are engaged and interested in their drill.  It is with unmixed satisfaction, that we see, day by day, the long columns of the Times filled with the names of the towns which have just joined the movement, and the proceedings of those which already possess a corps of riflemen.  The Times tells us, that already the force thus raised consists of 170,000, of whom half nearly are Londoners; but the movement, we trust, will continue to be developed for some time to come.  Every young man should join it, as it gives him healthy recreation, soldier-like habits, and a feeling that he is a son of our common mother—fine Old England, the land of the brave and the free.  We are much in the habit of doing our work by proxy.  Shareholders, in companies, leave the management to a few directors, and learn, too late, to curse their folly.  Institutions of the most excellent character, in the hands of a few become perverted, and are often real stumbling-blocks in the way of reform.  So it is with our army and navy.  We pay for them handsomely, we intrust their p. 167management to a few, and then we wake up to find that we have been trusting on a broken reed; that our guns, and muskets, are old-fashioned; that routine and favouritism in office are more than a match for the cleverest of officers and the bravest of men; and that we have almost all our work to begin over again.  Now, one great advantage of the rifle movement is that it throws us back upon ourselves—that it teaches us all to feel that we have a personal stake in the defence of the country—that it recalls the martial energy which we are fast in danger of losing, and makes all panic-fear for the future impossible.  Surely, also, the moral effect of all this on Europe must be great.  The nation that arms itself is always respected.  It is the French army that makes the name of the French Emperor so famous in all parts of the world.  Again, the nation that is always protected is safe from attack.  People do not go to war with strong states, but weak ones.  In the fable, the wolf quarrels not with the wolf, but the lamb.  It ought not to be so, we freely admit; but we must take the world as we find it, and act accordingly.  And the morale of all history is that there is no such safeguard of peace as the knowledge that a nation has set its house in order, and is thoroughly prepared for war.

Look back at the olden time, when we triumphed at Agincourt, Cressy, and Poictiers—when we won for England her foremost place among the nations of earth.  A writer in the Cambridge Chronicle has collected all that he can find relative to “The Longbow of the past, p. 168the Rifle of the future,” and done good service by its republication under the title already given.

There is a muster-roll of the army of Henry V. preserved among Rymer’s unprinted collection in the British Museum.  The Earl of Cambridge appears in it with a personal retinue of 2 knights, 57 esquires, and 100 horse archers.  The Duke of Clarence brought in his retinue 1 earl, 2 bannerets, 14 knights, 222 esquires, and 720 horse archers.  The roll includes 2,536 men-at-arms, 4,128 horse archers, 38 arblesters (cross-bowmen), 120 miners, 25 master gunners, 50 servitor gunners, a stuffer of bacinets, 12 armourers, 3 kings of arms.  A Mr. Nicholas Colnet, a physician, also brought 3 archers, 20 surgeons, an immense retinue of labourers, artisans, fletchers, bowyers, wheelwrights, chaplains, and minstrels.  Foot-archers were not enumerated, but the total number of effective soldiers amounted to 10,731.  These were the men who gained the field at Agincourt.  Philip de Comines acknowledged that English archery excelled that of every other nation, and Sir John Fortesque states “that the might of the Realme of England standyth upon archers.”  In the reign of Henry II. the English conquests in Ireland were principally owing, it is recorded, to the use of the long bow.  The victory gained over the Scots, by Edward I., in 1298, at the great battle of Falkirk, was chiefly won by the power of the English bowmen.  In 1333 Edward III., with small loss, gained a signal victory at Halidown Hill, near Berwick, when attacked by the Scots under the Earl of p. 169Douglas.  Speed gives, from Walsingham, the following description of the battle:—“The chief feat was wrought by the English archers, who first with their stiff, close, and cruel storms of arrows made their enemies’ footmen break; and when the noble Douglas descended to the charge with his choicest bands, himself being in a most rich and excellently tempered armour, and the rest singularly well-appointed,—the Lord Percy’s archers making a retreat did withal deliver their deadly arrows so lively, so courageously, so grievously, that they ran through the men-at-arms, bored the helmets, beat their lances to the earth, and easily shot those who were more slightly armed through and through.”  Gibbon notes the singular dread with which the English archers filled their enemies in the crusades, and states, “that at one time Richard, with seventeen knights and 300 archers, sustained the charge of the whole Turkish and Saracen army.”  In the reign of Richard II., in 1377, the Isle of Wight was invaded by the French, who landed in great force at Franche-Ville (called afterwards Newtown), which they destroyed, and then directed their march to Carisbrooke Castle, for the purpose of taking that stronghold.  The news of the invasion soon spread throughout the island, and no time was lost in mustering the forces which it possessed.  These forces consisted chiefly of archers, who so admirably posted themselves in ambush, that they rendered a good account of the advanced division of the French.  The other division of the enemy had commenced an attack on Carisbrooke p. 170Castle, when the victorious archers advanced to its relief, and soon cleared the island of the intruders.  The battle of Shrewsbury, in 1403, was one of the most desperate encounters ever seen in England.  The archers on both sides did terrible execution.  Henry IV. and the Prince of Wales on one side, and Earl Douglas with Henry Hotspur, son of the Earl of Northumberland, on the other, performed prodigies of valour.  At length, Hotspur being slain and Douglas taken, Henry remained master of the field.

The bow was the most ancient and universal of all weapons.  Our ancestors in this island, at a very early period of their history, used the bow, like other nations, for two purposes.  In time of peace it was an implement for hunting and pastime; and in time of war it was a formidable weapon of offence and defence.  It was not till after the battle of Hastings that our Anglo-Saxon forefathers learned rightly to appreciate the merit of the bow and the cloth-yard shaft.  Though a general disarming followed that event, the victor allowed the vanquished Saxon to carry the bow.  The lesson taught by the superiority of the Norman archers was not forgotten.  From that period the English archers began to rise in repute, and in course of time proved themselves, by their achievements in war, both the admiration and terror of their foes, and excelled the exploits of other nations.  The great achievements of the English bowmen, which shed lustre upon the annals of the nation, extended over a period of more than five centuries, many p. 171years after the invention and use of firearms.  All the youth and manhood of the yeomanry of England were engaged in the practice of the long bow.  England, therefore, in those times possessed a national voluntary militia, of no charge to the government, ready for the field on a short notice, and well skilled in the use of weapons.  Hence sprung the large bodies of efficient troops which at different periods of English history, in an incredibly short time, were found ready for the service of their country.  These men were not a rude, undisciplined rabble, but were trained, disciplined men, every one sufficiently master of his weapon to riddle a steel corslet at five or six score paces; or, in a body, to act with terrific effect against masses of cavalry; while most of them could bring down a falcon on the wing by a bird-bolt, or, with a broad arrow, transfix the wild deer in the chase.  There is little at the present day in England to afford any adequate idea of the high importance, the great skill, and the distinguished renown of the English archers.  Some few places still retain names which tell us where the bowmen used to assemble for practice,—as Shooter’s Hill, in Kent; Newington Butts, near London; and St. Augustine’s Butts, near Bristol.  Many of the noble and county families of Great Britain and Ireland have the symbols of archery charged on their escutcheons; as, for instance, the Duke of Norfolk, on his bend, between six crosslets, bears an escutcheon charged with a demi-lion pierced in the mouth with an arrow, within a double tressure flory and counterflory.  p. 172This was an addition to the coat of his Grace’s ancestor, the Earl of Surrey, who commanded at Flodden Field, in 1513.  There are also existing families which have derived their surnames from the names of the different crafts formerly engaged in the manufacture of the bow and its accompaniments; as, for instance, the names of Bowyer, Fletcher, Stringer, Arrowsmith, &c.  If we refer to our language, there will be found many phrases and proverbial expressions drawn from or connected with archery; some suggesting forethought and caution, as “Always have two strings to your bow;” it being the custom of military archers to take additional bowstrings with them into the field of battle; “Get the shaft-hand of your adversaries;” “Draw not thy bow before thy arrow be fixed;” “Kill two birds with one shaft.”  To make an enemy’s machinations recoil upon himself, they expressed by saying, “To outshoot a man in his own bow.”  In reference to a vague, foolish guess, they used to say, “He shoots wide of his mark;” and of unprofitable, silly conversation, “A fool’s bolt is soon shot.”  The unready and the unskilful archer did not escape the censure and warning of his fellows, although he might be a great man, and boast that he had “A famous bow—but it was up at the castle.”  Of such they satirically remarked that “Many talked of Robin Hood, who never shot in his bow.”  Our ancestors also expressed liberality of sentiment, and their opinion that merit belonged exclusively to no particular class or locality, by the following pithy expressions, “Many a good bow besides one p. 173in Chester;” and “An archer is known by his aim, and not by his arrows.”

And what was the result of all this practice with the bow?—why, that we never feared invasion.  Those were not times when old ladies were frightened out of their night’s sleep.  Every Englishman was a free and fearless soldier; the foe might growl at a distance, but he never dared to touch our shores—to plunder our cities—to massacre our smiling babes—and to do outrage worse than death to our English womanhood; and so it will be seen now that the bow has been superseded by the rifle, when our young lads of public spirit respond to Tennyson’s patriotic appeal, “Form, Riflemen, form!”


A brochure of fifty pages, full of figures and tables, just issued, contains the criminal statistics of the metropolis, as shown by the police returns.  It is not very pleasant reading, in any sense, but it no doubt has its value.  We learn from it that last year the police took into custody 64,281 persons, of whom 29,863 were discharged by the magistrates, 31,565 summarily disposed of, and 2,853 committed for trial; of the latter number 2,312 were convicted, the rest being either acquitted or not prosecuted, or in their cases true bills were not found.  About twenty years ago, in 1839, the number taken into custody rather exceeded that of last year, being 65,965; although since that period 135 parishes, hamlets, and liberties, with, in 1850, a population of 267,267, have been added to the metropolitan district, and although the entire population must have greatly increased in the interval.  These returns exhibits strange variations in the activity of the police; while last year the apprehensions were, as stated, 64,281, in 1857 they amounted p. 175to as much as 79,364.  The difference is 15,000, and of that number in excess, not one-half were convicted, either summarily or after trial, the rest forming an excess in the whole of those discharged by the magistrates.  It is a striking fact that nearly half the number of all whom the police take into custody are discharged, so that the discrimination of the police is far from being on a par with its activity.

Criminal London spends some considerable part of its time at Newgate, Clerkenwell, Wandsworth, Hollowway, and other establishments well-known to fame, and descriptions of which are familiar to the reader, but a favourite resort, also, is Portland Goal, which, by the kindness of Captain Clay, we were permitted, recently, to inspect.  Portland Goal is situated on a neck of land near Weymouth.

To reach it, the better way is to take a passage in one of the numerous steamers which ply between Weymouth and Portland.  In half an hour you will find yourself at the bottom of the chalk hill on which the prison is built.  If you are sound in limb, and not deficient in wind, in another half hour you will find yourself at the principal entrance of the goal.  But to get at the Prison is no easy work.  The Captain of the steamer will tell you, you must take a trap the moment you get on shore, but Jehu will ask you so long a price as to put all idea of riding quite out of the question.  The people on the island will give you but little information, and that of rather a contradictory p. 176character.  Undoubtedly the better plan is to trust to your own sense and legs.  On our way we met an officer of the Royal Navy—a captain, we imagine.  Before us, at a little distance, was what we took to be the prison, but we were not sure of the fact, and accordingly asked the gallant officer.  We trust he was not a type of the service.  He did not know what that building was before him: he did not know whether there was a prison there; and then he finished by asking us if we were one of the officials.  If the French do come, let us hope Her Majesty’s fleet will have more acute officers than our gallant acquaintance!  We arrived at the principal entrance, notwithstanding the non-success of our queries with the brave marine, at a quarter to one.  Before we enter, let us look around.  What a place for a man to get braced up in!  What a jolly thing it would be for many a London Alderman could he come here for a few months.  Just below is the prison, clean, snug, and warm.  At our feet is the stupendous Breakwater, within which lie, as we trust they may ever lie, idle and secure, some of the ships comprising the Channel Fleet.  Here, stealing into the bay like a bird with white wings, is a convict ship, coming to bear away to the Bermudas some of the convicts now shut up within those stone walls.  If you look well at her through the glass you can see her live freight on board, for she only calls here for some fifty or sixty,—who, however, have no wish to leave Portland for harder work and a less healthy climate.  Beyond is p. 177Weymouth, and its comfortable hotels—its agreeable promenade—and with, in summer time, its pleasant bathing.  Right across St. Albyn’s Head, and on the other side the Dorset coast, and straight across some eighty miles of the salt sea, is Cherbourg, with a breakwater far more formidable than that above which we stand.  It is a clear bright sky above us, and in the light of the sun the scene is beautiful almost as one of fairy land.

We ring the bell—hand in, through a window, our letter of introduction—are ushered into a wooden cage in which the janitor sits—enter our name in a book, and sit down.  The officers, consisting of about 160 men, exclusive of a small guard of soldiers, are coming in from dinner.  In appearance they somewhat resemble our Coast-guard, are tall fine men, with very red faces, and big black bushy whiskers.  The principal warden came to receive us; he has been here ever since the place has been opened, and we could not have had a better guide, or one more competent to explain to us the nature of the important works carried on.  And now we have passed into the very prison itself, and stand surrounded by men who have committed almost every species of crime.  There are some fifteen hundred of them here from all parts of England; stupid peasants from Suffolk and Norfolk, and clever rascals (these latter are very troublesome) from London, and Birmingham, and Liverpool, and other busy centres of industry, and intelligence, and life.  Says our informant, p. 178We have a good many captains in the army here, and several merchants, nor are we surprised at the information.

When we entered, the men had just dined, and were collected in the yard previous to being examined and walked off in gangs, under the charge of their respective officers, to work.  The gangs consisted of various numbers, of from fifteen to thirty; each officer felt each man, to see that nothing was hidden, and examined his number to see that it was all right, and as each gang marches through the gate, the officer calls out the number of the gang, and the number of men it contains, to the chief officer, who enters it in his book.  As soon as this operation was over, the gangs marched out, some to quarry stones for the Breakwater below; and others, by far the larger number, to construct the enormous barricades and fortifications which the Government has ordered as a defence for that part of the world.  The prisoners who cannot stand this hard work are employed in mending clothes, in making shoes, in baking, and brewing, in the school-room, and other offices necessary in such an enormous establishment.  In this latter employment no less a personage than Sir John Dean Paul had been occupied till very recently.  The scene was a busy one; all around us were convicts—here quarrying, there employed in the manufacture of tools, or in carpenters’s or masons’s work—all working well, and many of them cheerful in spite of the presence of an official, and little apparently heeding the sentry standing near with loaded gun ready to shoot, if need be, a runaway.  p. 179We have heard gentlemen say that at Bermuda and at Gibraltar, the convicts will not work.  All we can say is, that at Portland they do, and so effectually, as to cost the country but little more than four or five pounds a year.  Our out door inspection over, we then went over the sleeping apartments, and the chapel, and the kitchen, and laundry, and bakery.  The impression left on us was very favourable.  The food is of the plainest, but most satisfactory character.  The allowance for breakfast is 12 oz. of bread, 1 pint of tea or cocoa.  Dinner, 1 pint of soup, 5½ oz. of meat, 1 lb. of potatoes, 6 oz., of bread or pudding.  Supper, 9 oz. of bread, 1 pint of gruel or tea.  The chapel is a handsome building, capable of containing fifteen hundred people, and the sleeping apartments were light and airy, and well ventilated.  Each cell opens into a corridor, there being a series of three or four storeys; each sleeping apartment can contain from a hundred to five hundred men; in each cell there is a hammock, and all that is requisite for personal cleanliness, besides a book or two which the convict is allowed to have from the library.  Of course the manner of life is somewhat monotonous.  Before coming to Portland, the prisoners have passed their allotted time, (generally about nine months), in what is termed separate confinement, at Pentonville, Millbank, Preston, Bedford, Wakefield, or some other prison adapted for the first stage of penal discipline.  Upon their reception they are made to undergo medical inspection, a change of clothes, and are required to bathe; p. 180they are then informed of the rules and regulations of the prison, and moved to school for examination in educational attainments, with a view to their correct classification.  Afterwards they receive an appropriate address from the chaplain, and are allowed to write their first letter from Portland to their relations.  They are then put to work, and are made to feel that their future career depends in some measure on themselves.  Thus there are four classes, and the convict in the best class may earn as much as two shillings-a-week, which is put to his credit, and paid him when he becomes free, partly by a post-office order, payable to him when he reaches his destination, and partly afterwards.  The dress consists of fustian, over which a blue smock frock with white stripes is thrown.  Convicts who are dangerous, and have maltreated their keepers, instead of a frock have a coat of a somewhat loud and striking character.  Then, again, a yellow dress denotes that the convict has attempted to escape; and further, a blue cloth dress denotes that the wearer, engaged as a pointsman, has but little more time to stay, and has a little more freedom intrusted to him.  In the working days in summer the prison-bell rouses all hands at a quarter-past five, allowing an hour for washing, dressing, and breakfast.  Then comes morning service in the chapel.  They are then marched off to labour, where they remain till eleven, when they return to dinner.  At half-past twelve they are again paraded, and dismissed to labour till six.  Suppers are distributed to each cell at half-past six, and at seven p. 181evening service is held in the chapel.  The prisoners then return to their cells.  In winter-time they are recalled from labour at half-past four, prayers are read at five, and supper is served at six; the prisoners then return to their cells.  At eight all lights must be put out, and silence reigns in every hall, the slippered night-guards alone gliding through the long and dimly-lighted galleries like so many spectres.  It may be that sorrow is wakeful, but it is not so at Portland.  If the men have troubled consciences and uneasy hours, it is when they are at work, and not during the period allotted to repose.  They are asleep as soon as ever the lights are put out, and till the bell summons them to labour they sleep the sleep of the just.  Nor can we wonder at it.  There is no sleep so sweet and precious, as that earned by a long day’s work in the open air.

Attendance at chapel and walking exercise in the open air, are the two great features of the Sunday’s employment; and, as a farther change, we may mention, each prisoner is allowed half a day’s schooling per week.  While at work, of course they talk together,—it is impossible to prevent that,—and they choose their companions, and have their friendships as if they were free; and even, as in the case of Sir John Dean Paul, maintain—or endeavour to do so—the social distinctions which were accorded to them when supposed to be respectable members of respectable society.  Altogether here, as at many a worse place than Portland, the convicts must work hard, for the contractor depends p. 182on them for the supply of stone which is sent down the tramway to the Breakwater; but many of the men at Portland have been accustomed to hard labour all their lives.  They are chiefly young and able-bodied, and here they are well cared for and taught.  Surely here, if anywhere, the convict may repent his crimes, and be fitted to return to society a wiser and a better man!  We cannot exactly say what are the effects of all this; but surely the convicts must be better from this separation from their usual haunts and associates.  Portland Prison is admirably adapted for carrying out a great experiment in the treatment and improvement of the criminal classes.  It has now been in existence twelve years, and the experiment hitherto has succeeded.  At any rate, if it is a blunder, it is not a costly one, like some establishments nearer town.

It is now nearly ten years since transportation to the colonies ceased to be a punishment for criminal offences.  The Tasmanian and Australian authorities refused to receive them; and the government establishment at Norfolk Island was abandoned, the home government resolving to make an effort to dispose of the convict population in some other manner.  The convict establishment on the Island of Portland was the first scheme proposed for the employment and reformation of offenders.  The principal object was to secure a place of confinement for long-term convicts; the next, to systematically apply the labour of such convicts to “national works of importance,” the prosecution of which at once was profitable, p. 183and afforded the means of training the convicts to habits of industry.  The Penal Servitude Act was passed in 1850, and under it the much-condemned ticket of leave came into operation.  It substituted sentences of penal servitude for all crimes formerly visited by sentences of transportation to a less period than 14 years.  As few of such sentences, comparatively, reached over that period, the Act practically reduced the transportation sentences to a mere tithe of what they were before—the average during the years from 1854 to 1857 not being more than 235 out of 3200.  In 1857 the transportation sentences only amounted to 110, while the penal servitude sentences were 2474.  In that year an Act was passed with a small proportionate remission of sentence as a reward for good conduct.  The advantages of the system thus established, were considered to be—1st, Its deterring effects.  2nd, Its affording encouragement to the convict.  3rd, As giving the means of dealing with refractory convicts; and 4th, As affording means of employment to offenders on their discharge.

Portland Prison, as the chief punitive establishment under this new system, is, of course, most deserving notice.  In 1857, the total expenditure on this prison was £48,782.  The total value of the labour performed in the same year was £41,855, which, divided by 1488 (the average number of prisoners), gave £28. 2s. 7d. as the rate per man.  We doubt if the labour in our county prisons has ever reached the half of this value.  Large numbers of the Portland prisoners have obtained employment p. 184at harbour and other similar works since their discharge, and generally their conduct has been satisfactory.  The Discharged Prisoners’ Aid Society regularly assists the well-behaved convicts in finding employment on their release from confinement, and that society’s operations have been remarkably successful.  Pentonville prison has ordinarily from five to six hundred prisoners; while in Milbank the daily average number, in 1857, was about 1100.  Parkhurst prison is kept for boy convicts, of whom the average daily number in 1857, was 431; and Brixton, for females, of whom 784 in all were received in that year.  The Fulham Refuge is another female institution, in which convicts are received previous to being discharged on license, and in which they are taught a knowledge of household work, such as cooking, washing, &c., calculated to improve their chances of getting employment.  Portsmouth, Chatham, Lewes, and Dartmoor are also used as convict establishments; the latter, however, is being gradually given up, as utterly unfitted for such a purpose, its temperature in winter somewhat approaching to that of Nova Zembla.  It is difficult to say what are the numbers requiring to be disposed of in these convict prisons in the average of years, but they probably range about 7,000 males and 1,200 females.  If the decrease of crime in 1858 continue in subsequent years, our home prisons will amply suffice for the reception of our convict population.


One of the most blessed institutions of London is the cab.  I prefer it much to the ’bus—to equestrian exercise—and if I had, which I have not, a carriage of my own, I dare say I should prefer it even to that.  If the horse falls down, it is not yours that breaks its knees; if the shafts suddenly snap asunder, they are not yours that are damaged.  And you need not be imposed on, unless you are flat enough to ask cabby his fare, and then it serves you right.  The number of cabs now licensed in London is 4,500; each common cab and the two horses with the appointments requisite to work it are estimated to cost not more than £60, so that the capital engaged is, in round numbers, upwards of £270,000, provided by upwards of 1,800 small owners.  The waste of the capital committed by this competition within the field of supply is visible to the eye, at all times and all weathers, in full stands, or long files waiting hour after hour, and in the numbers crawling about the streets looking out for fares.  The cost of the keep p. 186of each horse is estimated at 16s. 4d. per week—the depreciation of horse stock is put down at 2s. 6d. per week each, and of the vehicle at 8s. per week.  The market value of the labour of such a man as the driver of a cab may be set down in London at 4s. per diem.  The stable rent is at least 10s. per week, per cab and horses, so that the capital invested for man, horse, and vehicle, may be set down at more than one shilling per hour lost during every hour of the twelve that cabs are kept unemployed.  On every cab-stand, where in foul weather as well as fair a dozen cabs are seen constantly unemployed, the administrative economist may see capital evaporating in worse than waste at a rate of 12s. per hour, £7. 4s. per diem, or at a rate of between two and three thousand pounds per annum, to be charged to some one, i.e. the public.  If all were employed, as the usual rate of driving is six miles per hour, they must be each employed at least four hours per diem to pay for their keep.  If, however, the cabs were constantly employed daily, at least three horses must be employed, which would augment the charge, by that of an additional horse, at the rate of 4d. per hour.  A large proportion of the cabs are employed during the whole 24 hours; but there are then two men, a night man and a day man, and three horses.  It is probably greatly below the fact to state that at least one-third of the cabs are, the week through, unemployed—that is to say, one-third of the capital invested is wasted, a service for two capitals being competed for by three, to the inevitable destruction of one.  As in p. 187other cases of competition within the field, efforts are made by violent manifestations of discontent at the legal fare, by mendacity, and by various modes of extortion, to charge upon the public the expense of the wasted capital.  Sometimes it is in the form of a piteous appeal that the driver or the competitor has been out all day and has not before had “one single blessed fare.”  And yet the legal charge for the frequently wretched service of the man, horse, and vehicle is, when taken by the hour, nearly double, and by the mile, nearly treble—when only two horses per diem are used—its actual prime cost, which is, when driving at little more than six miles an hour, 2d. or 3d. per mile, and when waiting, 1s. 4d. per hour.  But there is now a cry from the cab proprietors that this charge of double the prime cost does not pay, as it probably does not under such a ruinous system, and an appeal is proposed to parliament for an augmentation of the fares, but such augmentations, under this principle of competition within the field, would only aggravate the evil, for it would lead to an increased number of competitors, and instead of there being a competition of three to do the work of two, there would be a competition of two or more to do the work of one—that is, a greater waste of capital to be paid for by some one.  Since the reduction of the fares in 1852, the number of cabs in the metropolis, instead of being reduced, has been increased from 3297 to 4507 in 1857.

The criminal returns afford melancholy indications of their moral condition to those conversant with penal p. 188statistics.  Thus, in the police returns we find, under the head of “Coach and cabmen”—but it is stated by the police to be chiefly of cabmen—a very heavy list of offences.  In the year 1854 it was 682; in the year before that, 777.  The recurring crimes are thus denoted:

Apprehensions for



Offenses against the Hackney Carriage Act



Simple larcenies



Other larcenies



Common assaults



   ,, on the police



Cruelty to animals



Disorderly characters



Drunk and disorderly characters






Furious driving



In respect to this service of cabs, says a writer—from whom I have taken these figures, I regret I cannot find out his name, that I might quote it—“the analysed charges and statistics show that by a properly-conducted competition by adequate capital for the whole field—for which, in my view, the chief police or local administrative authorities ought, as servants of the public, to be made responsible—service equal to the present might be obtained at 3d. or 4d. per mile; or at the present legal fare of 6d. per mile, a service approaching in condition to that of private carriages, might be insured out of the waste which now occurs.”

p. 189A pleasant way of getting along is that of getting in a Hansom, and bidding the driver drive on.  A great improvement, undoubtedly, on the old Hackney coach, or on that first species of cab—consisting of a gig with a very dangerous hood—on one side of which sat the driver, while on the other was suspended yourself.  Now as you dash merrily along, with a civil driver, a luxurious equipage, and not a bad sort of horse, little do you think that you may be driving far further than you intended, to a dangerous illness and an early grave.

A terrible danger threatens all who live in London, or who visit it, by means of a custom—which ought not to be tolerated for an instant—of carrying sick persons in cabs to hospitals.  No doubt the increase of smallpox in the metropolis may be referred to this source.  Put a case of smallpox into a comfortable cab for an hour, then send the vehicle into the streets; first a merchant sits in it for a quarter of an hour, then a traveller from the railway gets his chance of catching the disease, and so on for the next week or two.  When it takes, the victims have had no warning of their impending danger, and wonder where they got it.  They in their turn become new centres of disease, and for the next few weeks they infect the air they breathe, the houses they inhabit, the clothing sent to the laundress, and everybody and everything which comes within their influence, and it is impossible to say where the infection ceases.  The following arrangements would easily, cheaply, and effectually do away with the evil:—1. Make it penal to let or to p. 190hire a public vehicle for the conveyance of any person affected with contagious disease.  2. Every institution for the reception of contagious disease should undertake to fetch the patient on receipt of a medical certificate as to the nature of the case.

Do not be too confidential with cabby, nor ask him what he charges, nor hold out a handful of silver to him and ask him to pay himself, nor give him a sovereign in mistake for a shilling, and delude yourself with the idea that he will return it.  Don’t tell him you are in a hurry to catch the train.  I once offered the driver of a Hansom a shilling for a ride from the Post Office to the Angel, Islington; he was so disgusted that he plainly informed me that if he’d a known I was only going to give him a shilling, he’d be blessed if he would not have lost the mail for me.  The repeal of the newspaper stamp has done wonders for cabby.  He now takes in his morning paper the same as any other gentleman.  To ride in a cab is the extent of some people’s idea of happiness.  I heard of a clerk who had absconded with some money belonging to an employer, he had spent it all in chartering a cab, and in riding about in it all day.  M.P.’s are much in the habit of using cabs.  On one occasion an M.P. who had been at a party, hurrying down to a division, was changing his evening costume for one more appropriate to business.  Unfortunately, in the most interesting part of the transaction, the cab was upset and the M.P. was exhibited in a state which would have made Lord Elcho very angry.

p. 191Cab drivers I look upon as misanthropic individuals.  I fancy many of them were railway directors in the memorable year of speculation, and have known better days.  The driver of a buss is a prince of good fellows compared with a cabman.  The former has no pecuniary anxieties to weigh him down, he is full of fun in a quiet way, and in case of a quarrel he has his conductor to take his side—he has his regular employment and his regular pay; the cabby is alone, and has to do battle with all the world, and he has often horses to drive and people to deal with that would tire the patience of a Job.  He is constantly being aggravated—there is no doubt about that; the magistrates aggravate him—the police aggravate him—his fares aggravate him—his ’oss aggravates him—the crowded state of the street, and the impossibility of getting along aggravates him—the weather aggravates him—if it is hot he feels it, and has a terrible tendency to get dry—and if it is cold and wet not even his damp wrappers and overcoats can keep out, I suspect, chilblains; and I know he has corns, and he will use bad language in a truly distressing manner.  Then his hours of work are such as to ruffle a naturally serene temper, and when he finds it hard work to make both ends meet, and sees how gaily young fellows spend their money—how he drives them from one public to another, and from one place of amusement to another—and in what questionable society,—one can scarce wonder if now and then cabby is a little sour, and if his language be as rough as his thoughts.  Strange tales can he tell.  p. 192A friend of the writer’s once hired a chaise to take him across the country; their way led them through a turnpike-gate, and, to my friend’s horror, the driver never once pulled up to allow him to pay the toll.  My friend expostulated; as the toll had to be paid, he thought the better plan was to pay it at once.  “Oh, it’s all right,” said Jehu, smiling, “they know me well enough—I am the man wot drives the prisoners, and prisoners never pay.”  Our London cabby is often similarly employed, and, as he rushes by, we may well speculate as to the nature and mission of his fare.  Cabby so often drives rogues that we cannot wonder if in time he becomes a bit of a rogue himself.


Till lately the London poor had no means of getting water but the pump or the public-house.  Of the latter we can have but a poor opinion, nor all the former much better.  It appears that “the London pumps can never be otherwise than dangerous sources of supply; the porous sod from which they suck being that into which our cesspools and leaky drains discharge a great part of their fluid—sometimes even a great part of their solid contents, and in which, till very recently, all our interments have taken place.  It is a soil which consequently abounds with putrid and putrefiable matter.  The water derived from it invariably contains products of organic decomposition, more or less oxidised; and it is a mere chance, beyond the power of water-drinkers to measure or control, whether that oxidation shall at all times be so incomplete as to have left the water still capable of a very dangerous kind of fermentation.”  We are further told that, “the shallow well water receives the drainage of Highgate Cemetery, of numerous burial grounds, and of innumerable p. 194cesspools which percolate the soil on the London side of the Cemetery, and flow towards the Metropolis. . . .  That the pump-water also becomes contaminated with the residual liquors of manufacturing processes. . . .  That a man who habitually makes use of London pump-water, lives in perpetual danger of disease.”

But one of the greatest and most unexpected sources of danger is, that the sense of taste or smell fails to warn us of the danger of using such water, since clearness, coolness, and tastelessness, may exist, without being evidences of wholesomeness.  We are also told that “the carbonic acid of the decomposed matter makes them sparkling, and the nitrates they contain give them a pleasant coolness to the taste, so that nothing could be better adapted to lure their victims to destruction than the external qualities of these waters—hence the worst of them are most popular for drinking purposes.”

The nitrates with which these waters are charged generally proceed from the decomposition of animal matter, such as the corpses interred in London churchyards; hence the popularity of some pumps near churchyards; and to such an extent are some of these waters charged with this ingredient, that J. B. C. Aldis, M.D., declares the water of a surface-well (though cool and sparkling to the taste) twice exploded during the process of incineration when he was analysing it!

Under these peculiar circumstances it does seem strange that in London the weary, the thirsty, and the poor have thus practically been driven to the public p. 195house, and that they should have been left without an alternative.  A man toiling all day, bearing, it may be, heavy burdens in the summer sun, miles it may be from his home, parched with thirst, practically to quench that thirst has been compelled to resort to the beer-shop or the gin-palace.  And what has been the consequence, that the man has been led to drink more than was good for him—that he has got into bad company—that he has wasted his time and his money, injured his health, and possibly been led into the commission of vice and crime.  Every day the evil has been demonstrated in the most striking, in the most alarming, and in the most abundant manner.  A benevolent gentleman at Liverpool was the first to see the evil, and to devise a remedy.  He erected fountains, elegant and attractive in character, furnished with pure water, and in one day of about thirteen hours twenty-four thousand seven hundred and two persons drank at the thirteen fountains in that town.  Of that twenty-four thousand seven hundred and two persons, many would otherwise have resorted to public-houses or gin-palaces to quench their thirst.  In smaller places, where results are easier to ascertain, it has been found that in reality the fountains do keep people from frequenting beer-shops, and, therefore, do keep them sober.  A gentleman who largely employs workmen in ironworks in the town of Wednesbury, having recently erected fountains for his workpeople, says that his manager has since observed an improvement in their habits and regularity p. 196of attendance, attributable to their discarded use of beer, in consequence of the facility of obtaining pure water which the fountains afford.  The publicans in London understand this, as it appears from the report of the committee of the Free Drinking Association, held at Willis’s Rooms last week, when the drinking cups have been missing they have invariably been found at some neighbouring public-house.  The movement, as we have intimated, commenced at Liverpool; it was not long before it reached London.  According to Mr. Wakefield, the honorary secretary of the Association, there was a greater need for this movement in London than elsewhere, owing to the fact that the greater radiation of heat from a larger surface of buildings, less shade, more smoke and dust, and longer street distances, combines to make London a more thirst-exciting place than any provincial town.  Mr. Samuel Gurney, M.P., was the first, who, in a letter published in some of the Loudon papers, called attention to the grievous privation which the want of these fountains inflicted on the London poor, and subsequently by his great personal influence and liberal pecuniary contributions, and unwearied exertions founded the Association; the Earl of Shaftesbury, the Earl of Carlisle, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other distinguished noblemen and gentlemen rallied around him.  London parishes and vestries have most of them come forward and contributed, and already nearly a hundred drinking fountains have been erected by this Association.  It is inferred from the Liverpool p. 197statistics that at least 400 fountains might be advantageously erected in London; these could not be constructed and kept in repair at a less cost than £20,000.  To gain this sum the Association appeals to the public.  Last year the total receipts of the Association amounted to £2,609; much more is required; a very good sign, indicative of the appreciation on the part of Londoners of the boon offered them, is found in the fact that the poor themselves are contributing voluntarily and in an unostentatious manner to defray the expenses of erection.  The plan of attaching moneyboxes to the fountains for the donations of friends has been adopted, and the first money-box has been placed at the first erected fountain on Snow Hill.  So far as the experience of four weeks justifies an opinion, it is very encouraging, and a sum of 8d. a day has been deposited in small coins, varying from farthings to two-shilling pieces.  The experiment is to be extended to five other fountains, when, if successful, it is proposed to supply every fountain with a money-box, when the erection will be more than self-supporting.  “Of all the efforts I have been called to make,” said the Earl of Shaftesbury, “there is none that so strongly commends itself to my feelings and my judgment as the Free Drinking Fountain movement.”  The Earl of Carlisle says, “Erect drinking fountains, and habits of intemperance will soon show a diminution, and with a diminution of intemperance will be stopped the most prolific of all the sources of crime and misery.”  Most people will p. 198say the same, and we look upon these fountains—elegant in character, supplied with pure water—as a grateful acknowledgment by the richer classes of the interest and sympathy they feel for those in less happy circumstances.

As evidence of the grateful interest elicited by this movement in the humblest classes, let the reader take the following letters.  The first was addressed, “for Mr. Samuel Gurney Esquire who bilt the fountaine Newgate Street.”

to Mr. Gurney esquire

July 9

Kind Sir

i take liberty to giv you my best thanks fore the butiful fountaine what you wos so kind to giv to us poor men for Newgate Street and i would plese ask you sir to be so kind and giv us 2 more cups extra fore wen in Newgate street i see the squeeging and shovin for water for only the 2 cups of woman and little boys is not enuff this verry hot days and God bless you Sir fore all your goodness what you do

from a poor man in London.


Monday June the 20th

Gentlemen of the Committee

I see by the paper of yesterday the working Men had a large Meeting on the Fountain question.  I think under your care and good Management the Working Women could also form and do p. 199much good.  Also the Ladies could associate with the working Classes as their Subscriptions could be distinct from ours; as of course our means are very limited; but surely we could most of us become Subscribers at twopence per week in so noble a cause that bids fair to drive the curse of Public Houses from our land—King’s Cross wants one much, and there is room in the open Square also at the Portland Road at the end of Euston Road.  They ought to be round or Square with 4 or 6 places to Drink from, with something of interest to mark to whose honour they were raised.  One Subject could be Prince Edward suppressing the wine houses in Gibraltar, 1792.  I think nothing could be better for the purpose as we all feel something must be done to stop this crying evil that is sending thousands to Death and Madness—the other subject could be Alderman Wood who rose from a poor Charity School Boy of Tiverton Devonshire to plead the Duke of Kent’s return to England that his child, our present good queen, should be born on British ground; so we as a people have to thank the late Sir Matthew Wood for that.  I think the wives and daughters of freemasons will give freely in respect to the late Duke of Kent who spent I may say thousands to raise the standard of that noble order. . . .  Forgive these few remarks of A Soldier and a Mason’s Daughter who has her country’s interest at heart.

J. DUNN × 103 Euston Road Euston Sq.  Gentlemen forgive the intrusion on your time also my p. 200bad grammar but remember I hear and see every Day the Curse of Drink.

As evidence of the filthy nature of London water and of the need of fountains, let the reader take the following letter from Dr. Letheby, the City Medical Officer, addressed to the Honorary Secretary of the Drinking Fountain Association; and let the reader bear in mind that Dr. Letheby’s evidence is confirmed by that of upwards of fifty other medical gentlemen.  Dr. Letheby says,—

“From what I know of the habits of the poor within this city, I am led to believe that the erection of drinking fountains would be of especial service to them; for although the average supply of water to the metropolis is abundant, yet the distribution of it is so unequal that the poorer classes do not obtain their proper proportion; in fact, this has become so serious a matter in most of the courts and alleys of this city, that I have great difficulty in dealing with it.  You are, no doubt, aware that the water companies have been obliged to shorten the time of supply ever since they have been compelled by the Act of Parliament to furnish filtered water to the public; and, as the poor have not the means of altering the present condition of the service, and adapting it to the new arrangement, their receptacles are never filled during the short time that the water is on.  Every contrivance is, therefore, p. 201used to secure as much water as possible while it is flowing; but, partly from the filthy state of the cisterns, and partly from the fœtid emanations to which the water is exposed in the over-crowded rooms in which it is kept, it is rarely, if ever, drinkable.  The poor, then, would be too glad to avail themselves of the opportunities afforded by the public fountains, and would, I am quite sure, hail them as boons of the greatest value; and when it comes to be known that the water which flows from the fountains is as pure as chemical and other contrivances can render it, the boon will most assuredly be prized by all.

“At present, the public wells of this city are largely used by all classes of persons; and, knowing what I do of the composition of these waters, I have looked with much concern at the probable mischief that might be occasioned by them; for though they are generally grateful to the palate, and deliriously cool, they are rich in all kinds of filthy decomposing products, as the soakage from sewers and cesspools, and the not less repulsive matters from the over-crowded churchyards.  What, therefore, can be of greater importance to the public than the opportunity of drinking water which shall not only be grateful and cool, as that from the city pumps, but which shall have none of its lurking dangers?

“As to the quality of the water that is now supplied by the public companies I can speak in the fullest confidence, for it is not merely the most available for p. 202your purposes, but it is in reality the best supply that can be obtained.  I need not describe the admirable arrangements that have been employed by the several companies for the purification of the water, but I may state that there is not a city in Europe that has so large a supply of good water as this metropolis, and I do not know where or how you could obtain a better.  I say, therefore, without hesitation, that the water supplied by the public companies is the best that can be used for the fountains; and, seeing that it will be twice filtered, and carefully freed from every kind of impurity by the most perfect chemical and mechanical contrivances, there need be no hesitation on the part of the most fastidious in freely drinking at the public fountains.”


One bright May morning in the year of our Lord, 1445, the streets of London presented an unusually animated appearance.  Here and there were quaint devices and rare allegories, well pleasing alike to the rude eye and taste of citizen and peer.  From dark lane and darker alley poured forth swarms eager to behold the stranger, who, young, high-spirited, and beautiful, had come to wear the diadem of royalty, and to share the English throne.  The land of love and song had given her birth.  Her “gorgeous beauty,” as our national dramatist describes it, had been ripened but by fifteen summers’s suns.  Hope told a flattering tale.  She discerned not the signs that prophesied a dark and dreary future.  A tempest rudely greeted her as she landed on our shores.  Sickness preyed upon her frame.  Those whose fathers’s bones were bleaching on the battle-fields of France murmured that Maine and Anjou, won by so free an expenditure of English blood and gold, should be ceded to the sire of one who, dowerless, came to claim the throne, and, as p. 204it speedily appeared, to rule the fortunes, of Henry Plantagenet.  In mercy the sad perspective of thirty wintry years was hidden from her view.  She dreamt not of the cup of bitterness it was hers to drink—how she should be driven from the land that then hailed her with delight—how all that woman should abhor should be laid to her charge—how, in her desolate chateau, stripped of her power, and fame, and crown, lonely and broken-hearted, she should spend the evening of her life in unavailing sorrow and regret, till, with bloodshot eyes, and wrinkled brow, and leprous skin, she should become all that men shuddered to behold.  But onward passed the procession, and smiles were on her lips, and joy was in her heart.  Bright was her queenly eye, and beautiful was her flaxen hair, so well known in romance or in the songs of wandering troubadour.  Around her were the children of no common race, gallant and haughty, dark-eyed Norman barons, ready to keep, as their fathers had won, with their own good swords, power and nobility upon British soil.

Years have come and gone.  The great ones of the earth have felt their power slip from them.  Crowns and sceptres have turned to dust.  Thrones have tottered to their fall; but there was then that evolving itself of which succeeding ages have witnessed but the more full development.  In that procession there were symptoms of a coming change—signs, and warning voices, that told the noble that the power and pride of the individual man was being torn from him—that he had been weighed p. 205in the balance and found wanting.  The trading companies—the sons of the Saxon churl—the middle classes—for the first time appeared upon the scene, and were deemed a fitting escort to royalty.  History herself has deigned to tell us of their show and bravery—how, on horseback, with blue gowns and embroidered shoes, and red hoods, they joined the nobles and prelates of our land.  Four hundred years have but seen the increase of their wealth, of their respectability, and power.  Their struggle upwards has been long and tedious, but it has been safe and sure.  The wars of the red rose and the white—wars which beggared the princes of England, and spilt the blood of its nobles like water—were favourable to the progress of the middle class.  The battle of Barnet witnessed the fall and death of the kingmaker, and with her champion feudalism fell.  The power passed from the baron.  The most thoughtless began to perceive that a time was coming when mere brute strength would fail its possessor.  Dim and shadowy notions of the superiority of right to might were loosened from the bondage of the past, and set afloat; discoveries, strange and wonderful, became the property of the many; the fountains of knowledge, and thought, and fame were opened, and men pressed thither, eager to win higher honour than that obtained by the intrigues of court, or the accidents of birth.

With all that was bright and good did the middle classes identify themselves.  In them was the stronghold of civilization.  The prince and peer were unwilling to p. 206admit of changes in polity, in religion, or in law, which to them could bring no good, and might possibly bring harm.  Conventional usage had stamped them with a higher worth than that which by right belonged to them; their adulterated gold passed as current coin; hence it was their interest to oppose every attempt to establish a more natural test.  The aristocracy ceased to be the thinkers of the age.  From the middle classes came the men whose words and deeds we will not willingly let die.  Shakspere, Milton, and Cromwell shew what of genius, and power, and divine aim, at one time the middle classes contained.

And now, once more, is there not an upheaving of humanity from beneath? and over society as it is, does not once more loom the shadow of a coming change?  Does not middle-class civilization in its mode of utterance and thought, betoken symptoms of decay?  Look at it as it does the genteel thing, and sleeps an easy hour in Episcopalian church or Dissenting chapel—as it faintly applauds a world-renovating principle, and gracefully bows assent to a divine idea.  Ask it its problem of life, its mission, and it knows no other than to have a good account at the bank, and to keep a gig; possibly, if it be very ambitious, it may, in its heart of hearts, yearn for a couple of flunkeys and a fashionable square.  It is very moral and very religious.  Much is it attached to morality and religion in the abstract; but to take one step in their behalf—to cut the shop, for their sake, for an hour—is a thing it rarely does.  Often is it too much p. 207trouble for it to vote at a municipal election—to employ the franchise to which it has a right—to support the man or the paper that advocates its principles.  That is, it refuses to grapple with the great principle of ill with which man comes into this world to make war; and, rather than lose a pound, or sacrifice its respectability, or depart from the routine of formalism into which it has grown, it will let the devil take possession of the world.

Looked at from a right point of view, the world’s history is a series of dissolving views.  We have had the gorgeous age of nobility, the money-making one of the middle-classes—lower still we must go.  Truth lies at the bottom of the well; the pearls, whose lustre outshine even beauty’s eye are hidden in the deep.  The men who now stamp their impress on the age—whose thought is genuine and free—who shew the hollowness of shams—who demand for the common brotherhood of man their common rights—who herald a coming age—who are its teachers and apostles—originally laboured in coal-mines, like Stephenson; or mended shoes, like Cooper; or plied the shuttle, like Fox; or stood, as did Burns and Nicoll, at the plough, with God’s heaven above them, and God’s inspiration in their hearts.

The decline and fall of England has already found chroniclers enough.  Ledru Rollin and the Protectionists are agreed as regards the lamentable fact.  G. F. Young, the chairman of the Society for the Protection of British Industry and Capital, believed it as firmly as his own p. 208existence.  A similar opinion is more than hinted in the tedious History of Dr. Alison.  At a still earlier period the same doleful tale was ever on the lips and pervaded the writings of Southey, the Laureate and the renegade.  If these gentlemen are right, then the melancholy conviction must be forced upon us that England has seen her best days; that it will never be with her what it was in time past, when she bred up an indomitable race, when her flag of triumph fluttered in every breeze, and floated on every sea.  We must believe that England’s sun is about to set; that, with its brightness and its beauty, it will never more bless and irradiate the world.

Against such a conclusion we emphatically protest.  We look back upon our national career, and we see that each age has witnessed the people’s growth in political power; that especially since that grand field-day of Democracy, the French Revolution, that power has gone on increasing with accelerated force; that it was to the increased ascendancy of that power that we owed it that we rode in safety whilst the political ocean was covered with wreck and ruin.  If one thing be clearer than another in our national history, it is that our greatness and the power of the people have grown together.  At a season like the present it is well to remember this.  Prophets often fulfil their own prophecies.  The Jeremiads of the weak, or the interested, or the fearful, may damp the courage of some hearts; and a people told that they are ruined, that the poor are becoming poorer every day, that the p. 209end of all labour is the workhouse or the gaol, that their life is but a lingering death, may come to believe that the handwriting is upon the wall, and that it is hopeless to war with fate.

The fact is, nations, when they die, die of felo-de-se.  The national heart becomes unsound, and the national arm weak.  The virtue has gone out of it.  Its rulers have usurped despotic powers, and the people have been sunk in utter imbecility, or have looked upon life as a May-day game, and nothing more.  In our cold northern clime—with the remains of that equality born and bred amidst the beech-forests that bordered the Baltic—the English people could never stoop to this; and hence our glorious destiny.  No nation under heaven’s broad light has been more sorely tried than our own.  We have taken into pay almost every European power.  Our war to restore the Bourbons, and thus to crush Liberalism at home, and keep the Tories in office, was carried on at a cost which only Englishmen could have paid; and yet from our long seasons of distress—from our commercial panics, the result of fettered trade—from our formidable continental wars—we have emerged with flying colours, and indomitable strength.  Mr. Porter’s statistics showed what we had done in the face of difficulty and danger, and the progress we have made since Mr. Porter’s time is something prodigious.  Not yet has the arm of the people been weakened or its eye dulled.

These are facts such as the united Croaker tribe can p. 210neither refute nor deny.  We understand the meaning of such men when they raise a cry of alarm.  What such men dread does in reality infuse into the constitution fresh vigour and life.  Not national death, but the reverse is the result.  The removal of one abuse, behind which monopoly and class legislation have skulked, is like stripping from the monarch of the forest the foul parasite by which his beauty is hidden and his strength devoured.  From such operations the constitution comes out with the elements of life more copious and active in it than before.  It finds a wider base in the support and attachment of the people; it becomes more sympathetic with them.  It grows with their growth and strengthens with their strength.

It is not true, then, that for us the future is more fraught with anxiety than hope.  The theory is denied by fact.  It is not true commercially, nor is it true morally.  Our progress in morals and manners is, at least, equal to our progress in trade.  The coarse manners—the brutal intoxication—the want of all faith in spiritual realities, held not merely by the laity but by the clergy as well of the last century, now no longer exists.  Reverend Deans do not now write to ladies as did the bitter Dean of St. Patrick’s to his Stella.  Sure are we that Victoria cannot speak of her bishops as, according to Lord Hervey, George II. did, and justly, speak of his.  No Prime Minister now would dare to insult the good feeling of the nation by handing his paramour to her carriage from the Opera in the presence of Majesty.  Fielding’s novels p. 211graphically display a state of things which happily now no longer exists.  The gossip of our times reveals enough—alas!—too much—of human weakness and immorality; but the gossip of our times is as far superior to that which Horace Walpole has so faithfully preserved, or to that which Mrs. Manley in her “New Atlantis” sullied her woman’s name by retailing, or to that which Count Grammont thought it no disgrace to record, as light to darkness or as dross to gold.  Macaulay thus describes the country squire of the seventeenth century:—“His chief pleasures were commonly derived from field-sports, and from an unrefined sensuality.  His language and his pronunciation were such as we should now only expect to hear from ignorant clowns.  His oaths, coarse jokes, and scurrilous terms of abuse were uttered with the broadest accents of his province.”  The country squire of the nineteenth century is surely some improvement upon this; nor has the improvement been confined to him—it has extended to all classes.  We still hear much, for instance, of drunkenness, but drunkenness does not prevail as it did when publicans wrote on their signs, as Smollett tells us they did,—“You may here get drunk for one penny, dead drunk for two pence, and clean straw for nothing.”

After all, then, we lay down our pen in hope.  We have undergone struggles deep and severe, and such struggles we may still continue to have.  With a debt of eight hundred millions like a millstone round our neck—with a population increasing at the rate of a thousand a p. 212day—with Ireland’s ills not yet remedied—with half the landed property of the country in the hands of the lawyer or the Jew—with discordant colonies in all parts of the globe—with large masses in our midst degraded by woe and want—barbarians in the midst of civilization—heathens in the full blaze of Christian light—no man can deny that there are breakers ahead.  Rather from what we see around us we may conclude that we shall have storms to weather, severe as any that have awakened the energy and heroism of our countrymen in days gone by.  But the history of the past teaches us how those storms will be met and overcome.  Not by accident is modern history so rich in the possession of the new creed and the new blood, for the want of which the glory of Athens and Corinth, and of her “who was named eternal” passed away as a dream of the night.  Not that England may perish does that new blood course through the veins, and that new creed fructify in the hearts of her sons.  The progress we have made is the surest indication of the progress it is yet our destiny to make.  Onward, then, ye labourers for humanity, heralds of a coming age—onward then till

         “We sweep into a younger day.
Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.”

Those who would deny the people their political rights—who would teach a Christianity unworthy of its name—who would inculcate a conventional morality—who would degrade the national heart by perpetuating p. 213religious and political shams—they, and not the foreigner, are our national enemies.  Against them must we wage untiring war, for they are hostile to the progress of the nation, and by that hostility sin against the progress of the world.  England will still stand foremost in the files of time—and of that England, London will still remain the heart and head.


printed by william ostell, hart street, bloomsbury.


Price 3s. 6d., bound in cloth, Second Edition, Revised.



Contents: Seeing a Man hanged—Catherine-street—The Bal Masqué—Up the Haymarket—Ratcliffe Highway—Judge and Jury Clubs—The Cave of Harmony—Discussion Clubs—Cider Cellars—Leicester Square—Boxing Night—Caldwell’s—Cremorne—The Costermongers’ Free-and-Easy, &c.


opinions of the press.

“We would wish for this little volume an attentive perusal on the part of all to whom inclination or duty, or both, give an interest in the moral, the social, and the religious condition of their fellow-men; above all, we should wish to see it in the hands of bishops, and other ecclesiastical dignitaries—of metropolitan rectors and fashionable preachers—of statesmen and legislators—and of that most mischievous class of men, well-meaning philanthropists.  The picture of life in London, of its manifold pitfalls of temptation and corruption, which are here presented to the reader’s eye, is truly appalling.  No one can rise from it without a deep conviction that something must be done, ay, and that soon, if the metropolis of the British Empire is not to become a modern Sodom and Gomorrah.”—John Bull.

“There is a matter-of-fact reality about the sketches, but they are chiefly remarkable for the moral tone of their reflections.  Generally speaking, painters of these subjects rather throw a purple light over the actual scenes, and say nothing of the consequences to which they lead.  Mr. Ritchie is ever stripping off the mask of the mock gaiety before him, and pointing the end to which it must finally come.”—Spectator.

“We have kept Mr. Ritchie’s book lying on our table, hoping that we might find an opportunity for making it the basis of an article on the fearful evils which it discloses.  We must be satisfied, however, for the present, with recommending all our readers who are anxious to promote the social and moral regeneration of our great cities to read it carefully; and to remember, while they read, that London does not stand alone, but that all our larger towns are cursed with abominations, such as those which Mr. Ritchie has so vigourously and effectually described.”—Eclectic Review.

“The author of ‘The Night-Side of London’ has graphically described the scenes of debauchery which are to be found at night.  It is a fearful and shocking expose.”—Illustrated Times.


p. 216Price 2s., Cheap Edition, Revised and Enlarged,



Contents: The Religious Denominations of London—Sketches of the Rev. J. M. Bellew—Dale—Liddell—Maurice—Melville—Villiers—Baldwin Brown—Binney—Dr. Campbell—Lynch—Morris—Martin—Brock—Howard Hinton—Sheridan Knowles—Baptist Noel—Spurgeon—Dr. Cumming—Dr. James Hamilton—W. Forster—H. Ierson—Cardinal Wiseman—Miall—Dr. Wolf, &c., &c.


“The subject is an interesting one, and it is treated with very considerable ability.  Mr. Ritchie has the valuable art of saying many things in few words: he is never diffuse, never dull, and succeeds in being graphic without becoming flippant.  Occasionally his strength of thought and style borders rather too closely on coarseness; but this fault of vigorous natures is counterbalanced by compensatory merit—by an utter absence of cant, a manly grasp of thought, and a wise and genial human-heartedness.  The book is a sincere book; the writer says what he means, and means what he says.  In these half-earnest days it is a comfort to meet with any one who has ‘the courage of his opinions’ especially on such a subject as the ‘London Pulpit.’”—Daily News.

“One of the cleverest productions of the present day.”—Morning Herald.


Just Published, price 3s. 6d., bound in cloth, post-free 3s. 10d.



Contents: The House of Commons from the Stranger’s Gallery—A Night with the Lords—The Reporters’ Gallery—The Lobby of the House of Commons—Our London Correspondent—Exeter Hall—A Sunday at the Obelisk—The Penny Gaff—The Derby—Vauxhall—The Stock Exchange—Rag Fair—Mark Lane—The Coal Whippers—Portland Place—An Omnibus Yard—The New Cattle Market—The Government Office—Paternoster Row—The London Hospital.


“We have no doubt that his work will be extensively read, and it deserves no less, for it is thoroughly impartial, very graphic, reliable in its details, and extremely well written.”—Illustrated News of the World.

“We recommend the book as being likely to afford a spare half-hour of pleasant recreation.”—Leader.

“Lively and attractive.”—Spectator.

“Light and graceful sketches of the interior life of the great metropolis.”—Inquirer.


p. 217314, Strand, W.C.,
Nov. 1, 1860.








This work consists of a series of quaint stories and papers, contributed by Mr. Jerrold to “Household Words.”

[Now ready.


preparing for immediate publication,
A New, Revised, and Enlarged Edition of


third edition.

author ofabout london,” etc.




just published; price five shillings,


author of
The Night Side of London,” “Here and there in London,”
The London Pulpit,” &c.


Contents:—Newspaper People—Spiritualism—About Coal—Highgate—Tom Tidler’s Ground—Westminster Abbey—London Charities—Pedestrianism—Over London Bridge—The House of Commons and the Early Closing Movement—Town Morals—The same subject continued—London Matrimonial—Breach-of-Promise Cases—The London Volunteers—Criminal London—Concerning Cabs—Free Drinking Fountains—Conclusion.


“Mr. Ritchie ought to be a popular author, and largely read by a numerous and highly respectable class.”—Athenæum.

“They are all written with such a knowledge of each subject as might be expected from a perceptive and accurate observer, who has gained his experience from himself, while the descriptive writing is that of a practised hand.”—Illustrated London News.

“We can give to this work our heartiest praise.  ‘About London’ is written by one whose object is as much to instruct as to amuse, and who succeeds without any apparent effort in doing both.  We say without any apparent effort, because Mr. Ritchie’s sketches are too bold to be stiff, his style too fluent and natural to be laboured.  Notwithstanding this, ‘About London’ displays an amount of industrious research very rarely met with, and a knowledge of men and manners which only experience—and active experience, moreover—can supply.”—Literary Gazette.

“The subjects for the most part are familiar to us, and the easy and unaffected style in which they are treated is always sure to gratify without wearying the reader.”—Morning Advertiser.

“Mr. Ritchie has already given us various works devoted to metropolitan subjects, such as ‘The Night Side of Loudon,’ ‘The London Pulpit,’ ‘Here and There in London.’  His volume ‘About London’ will, no doubt, be as widely circulated as its predecessors.  In it he communicates a vast mass of information in a pleasant, gossiping style.—Illustrated News of the World.

“Mr. Ritchie is well and favourably known as one of those writers who, whilst possessed of a keen and observant eye, remarks all the social inconsistencies of which human society in the great modern Babylon is composed, and spares neither those who may be said to hold the language of the first murderer—‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ nor others, who grovel in the sensuality, which speedily deforms man into little less than the beast of the earth.  In this, the last of the several books in which he has related the doings of London life, high and low, he does not enter so fully into the mysteries of the singular career of the Arabs of our streets, but touches matters p. 219on a somewhat higher level with the same force and intelligence, which he has hitherto manifested, combined with a more genial and pleasant refinement, which will commend its information to those who may have been disposed to be somewhat hypercritical as to the advisability of too closely ‘holding the mirror up to nature,’ and showing vice its own deformity and horror.—Bella Weekly Messenger.

“The new book by Mr. Ritchie, entitled ‘About London,’ fully sustains the reputation of the author of ‘The Night Side of London.’  It is, both in matter and manner, a most readable volume.  In a series of twenty chapters the more conspicuous and characteristic places and persons about London are admirably sketched.  The author indulges in all his modes.  He is observant, penetrative, didactic, satirical, and reflective.  Health, cheerfulness, and hope, however, are the pervading tones of this work.  Whether the subject be the ‘Newspaper People,’ ‘Spiritualism,’ ‘London Gents.’ or ‘Criminal London,’ he has the happy disposition of educing good and ennobling lessons and influence from each and all.—Press.


A New Edition, revised and greatly enlarged, with a full Index,
dr. wardrop’s valuable work:
of the


containing also some
new views of the circulation of the blood,
an account of the muscolo-cardiac, the pulmo-cardiac,
and the veno-pulmonary functions.


Surgeon to the person of George IV., Fellow of the Royal Society, and of the
Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; Fellow of the Royal College of
Surgeons of England; Member of the Imperial Academy of Medicine
of Paris, Moscow, St. Petersburgh, and Wilna; Member of the
Royal Medical and Surgical Society of Berlin, and of the
Medical Society of Leipsic,
&c. &c. &c.

A New Edition, carefully Revised, with considerable Additions,
and a copious index.

[Large Octavo, 18s.


p. 220notice.



This day is published, the Second Edition, revised, corrected,
and greatly enlarged, of
mr. geo. augustus sala’s
of the grand


to which is added an account of the

*** This Edition, which has been enlarged by Sixteen Pages, contains a correct list of all the Volunteer Corps that were reviewed by Her Majesty, with the name of the Commander, description of dress, and number of each Company; as well as a full account of the Grand Rifle-Match at Wimbledon.


price sixpence, post free.


The Morning Advertiser, of June 29th, says:—

“We anticipate an immediate and extensive sale for this opportune and patriotic publication.  It is a beautiful written and graphic narrative of one of the greatest events—perhaps in its political and military bearings the greatest event—of the present century.  Mr. Sala has evidently written out of the fulness of his heart, and the result is an eloquent and vivid literary review of the greatest military Volunteer Review which has ever been witnessed in this or in any other country.  Mr. Tinsley has done good service to his country in perpetuating the details of that great event by so able and popular a pen as that of Mr. George Augustus Sala, and in publishing the little work at so moderate a price as to place it within the reach of all.”




now ready, at all the libraries,

a novel of our day.


Author ofSt. Eustace: or, the Hundred and One.”


And may be ordered of all Booksellers, and at all Railway Station


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