« PreviousContinue »
ing of her neighbour had by no means me being to reposo "heads and points" acted so attractively as the magnet of on the outside of the patchwork quilt, a quartern of gin.
whereon I laid myself down to rest Gin | cheap luxury of the labourer accordingly, regretting much that the in London- sweet solace of the la. Londoners would be unable to avail bourer's wife--mother's milk of the themselves of my transcendent talents Jabourer's child! Gin! to procure until the following day, and fully dethee, what will not mechanics do, and termined to have nothing to do with what will not their wives consign to any employer who would not come the disinterested keeping of " my down with a handsome salary, treat uncle !" Gin! thou pallid demon, re me as one of the family, and give me flecting thy hideousness in every face a share in the business, we meet-slow poison thou, but sure The grey dawn of morning was be
how many thousands of hapless ginning to appear, when I started from wretches hast thou consigned to an my dreams of lord mayors and gold early and unpitied grave!
chains, bags of money, ribs of roast. Mrs Spikins seemed to consider the beef, and I know not what other delipallid demon a very choice spirit, and cacies, and prepared to make a tour of sipped and gossipped, and gossipped the newspaper offices, preliminary to and sipped, until more than two quarto fixing on some light and profitable erns, or three either, of the mountain business-light, because I had a datu. dew, with roses in it, had evaporated ral and instinctive aptipatlıy to work from the face of the earth. My unfor. -and profitable, because I had a tunate condition, and hardly less fortu. natural and instinctive fondness for nate prospects, formed a not inconsi, money. In short, a şinecure, I coțiderable topic of discourse between Mrs cluded, would be just the thing for my Spikins and my landlady-a thousand money, and came to the conclusion modes of livelihood being proposed to that, if there was a sinccurist adver. me, and abandoned, from their impos- tised for in any of the morning papers, sibility, as soon as mooted. At last, I would start off, and offer my ser. Mrs Spikins, slapping both legs with vices on the spur of the moment. As both hands, and expanding her lipless I walked through the streets on my way mouth, grinned a declaration of dis. towards the Strand-(which lexpected covery, and protested that she knew a to find a smooth pebbly beach, with wrinkle that would make my fortune. bathing.boxes and fishing-boais lying This being the very object most at all about, enlivened by groups of little heart, I implored the lady what took bare-legged urchins wading in search in washing to keep me no longer in of shrimps)-the sons of labour were suspense; whereupon the lady in- hastening in all directions to the comformed me, that somebody had told mencement of their daily toil-the some other body as told her, that at milk-man sent forth his peculiar cry all the daily newspaper offices through. -and the little half-naked chimney. out the metropolis, the advertisements sweepers, bare-legged and black, emitwere exhibited gratis, and that, if I ted i sw-e-e ne" with a melan. got up betimes, and went round from choly that struck me to the heart. I one to the other, I should surely see will not fatigue the reader with the something to suit me to a nicety. difficulties I encountered in finding
It was now long past midnight, and my way to the newspaper offices-his the cream of the valley being all gone, experience of a first visit to London the lady what took in washing having will supply him amply with tender realso gone the moment that the cream collections of his own exploratory anof the valley aforesaid was fully dis- noyances- let it be enough that the cussed, there seemed nothing for it but newspaper office was opened at last, to go to bed, which we accordingly did, and a copy of the paper, reeking from in manner and form following :-Lit- the press, having been pasted, by a tle Bridget having disrobed behind the dirty devil, upon a sheet of brown chair, slipped under the counterpane. paper in the outer office or counting, Bridget the great then unloosed her house, for the convenience of persons dresses and decorations, as far as de- advertising, I was permitted gratuicency would permit, put out the rush- tously to consult the same. I gazed light, and turned in with her daughter; for some minutes, in speechless asthe only arrangement practicable for tonishment, at the vast number and extraordinary diversity of the an. Compasses, his portmanteau, with the nouncements, from the first ship for contents, will be sold to defray expenses Madras and Calcutta, which formed - which announcement, when Twig the advanced guard, down to the plain beholds, he is ready to burst with cook, who could have a twelvemonth's laughing, well knowing that the de. character from her last place; or the voted portmanteau contains nothing valet, who could dress hair, air lap. more saleable than brick-bats and saw. dogs, and had no objection to town or dust. Next came announcements for country. I was there informed, that sale of heroic horses, who will rather if the relatives of Muggins, who was die than run-all and singular being born in the year 1701, and was not the genuine property of a gentleman unreasonably supposed to be defunct, -horse-chopper, understood. would apply to Figgins, attorney-at. There was an announcement from law, they (the Mugginses, to wit) would Morison, the pill-monger, informing hear of something to their advantage; a discerning public how many of his and that if Higgins, who ran away from agents had been convicted of manhome, having first broken the tiil, and slaughter, and how much his poison carried off his father's loose change, was to be had for per bushel- there would return to his disconsolate pa. were also numerous puffing rhodorents, all would be forgiven, and he montades from other unhanged quacks. would be afforded an early opportu. I observed, that “a surgeon was renity of breaking the till a second time, quired for a free pauper (!) emigrant and running away as before. Next ship, bound for Botany Bay-he would came awful announcements of sales, be accommodated with a passage out, under decrees of the High Court of but not home-would not be required Chancery-lodgings to let in different to go aloft, but expected to take his parts of the town, every lodging of turn at the pumps-no wages-a fel. them being, curiously enough, exactly low of the college of physicians prewithin five minutes' walk of all the pub. ferred.” Application was directed to lic offices-boarding houses, musical be made, by the applicants for this and select, in the immediate vicinity highly paid office, to “ Judas Iscariot of Russell Square; every boarding Crimp, government transportation house out of the United States being agent, Birchen Lane, Cornhill.” in this vicinity, and no other, where How I lamented my hard fate in not one lady or one gentleman, or a gen. being a fellow of the college of phy tleman and his wife, or a wife and her sicians ! gentleman, or two sisters, or two bro. I read with much attention a requis thers, or three or more twins, or a sition for “ a classical assistant, who limited or unlimited number of select would be expected to take, in addi. ladies or gentlemen, might be received tion, the highest mathematical and into a corresponding number of va junior copy-book classes, French, the cancies, at all prices, from fifteen shil. language of the school-would have lings a-week to fifty, extras pot inclu. the charge of the boys during play. sive. Sir John Brute, I observed, hours, and sleep in the dormitoryinformed tradesmen and the public, salary £20 per annum, tea and wash. that “ he would be accountable for no ing not included. N.B. - Must be a debts that might be contracted by his graduate, in honours, of Oxford or wife, Lady Brute, she having left his Cambridge." house without any provocation what. « Curse on my stingy old aunt," I ever." Her ladyship, in the adver exclaimed, in a fury, “ for not send. tisement immediately following, “re. ing me to Oxford or Cambridge, where quests the public to suspend their I might have graduated in honours, judgment upon the circumstances, and so made sure of this splendid si. until she is sufficiently recovered from tuation for life! What care I for tea the dreadful beating received from her and as for washing, I thank my drunken spouse, to lay the particulars stars that I have always been accus. of her connubial felicity before them." tomed to wash for myself." The landlord of the Catand Compasses, Thus I repined_but where was the Little Cow Cross Street, Smithfield, use of repining ?-I was not, alas! & informs Mr Erasmus Twig, that if he graduate in honours of Cambridge or (Twig) does not, within three calen. Oxford. dar days, pay his bill at the Cat and An advertisement from a young man, offering “ to lend, on good secu. whatever he may think to the con. rity, two or threo thousand pounds to trary--that his goslings will never any firm who would procure the ad- grow up into swans-and that he himvertiser the place of light warehouse self, with reverence be it spoken, is man, or any other decent employ- neither more nor less than an old ment.” Here, thought I to myself, fool! now, is a man who, if he were unfor- Finding nothing in the leading morn. tunately born in Ireland, would have ing journals to suit me - every one horses, guns, and dogs, go to gam- there advertising for employment bling-houses, and race-courses, ride being prepared to give douceurs to any steeple-chaces, and, conducting him. amount, and persons who had employself to all outward appearance like a ments to bestow putting them up for blackguard, would shoot through the sale-I turned my weary steps towards head, without ceremony, any body an office in which I was informed good who denied that he was a gentleman livelihoods were advertised ; a liveli. - God help them—God mend them! hood was a living, and, as Goldsmith
I was forcibly struck with the case said of himself in circumstances hardof a master tailor at the west end of ly dissimilar, “ all my ambition was the town, who announced himself in how to live.” But I found it here as want of a first-rate cutter,-salary, elsewhere-every thing at its full vawith constant employment, five guineas lue, and nothing for nothing. An per week.
active lad, who could command fifty Heavens! wbat do the graduates in pounds to put into the business, might, honours of Oxford and Cambridge, I observed, be permanently employed and the Fellows of the College of Phy- as pot-boy; and a gentleman's sersicians, say to that ?-look on this vant, or man and his wife, with eight picture and on this—the remuneration or nine hundred pounds, might be inthat attends a life of study, and the troduced (well they might!) into a prospects held out to a first-rate cut- right good living. There were a few ter!
advertisements for light-porters and And now-for I see no reason that bar-men, with a to me highly gratia man who has done no good for him- fying postscript, to the effect that no self, ought not, nevertheless, to do emerald need apply! There was also good for others-if I have nothing else a requisition from the vestry-clerk of to bestow, I can be munificent in ad. the parish of Mary-le-bone, for a numvice; and the experience which has ber of labourers to scour out a sewer cost me the prime of my life, and all that polluted the ncighbourhood ; to my money, under my hand and seal, I this there was no sentence of exclusion here present to your worship for no. against Irisbmen attached, for obvious thing. I say, if there be in all Eng- reasons. land one elderly gentleman-in Ire- But why fatigue the reader with the land they are as plenty as blackberries minutiæ of my unsuccessful exertions ? -one man to whom years have not Suffice it to say that for ten daysbrought experience, nor grey hairs during which time the benevolent wisdom-who, to gratify a senile va fruiteress, with that overflowing kindnity, spends his little all upon giving liness of heart which is the distinguishto his sons lofty professions, towards ing characteristic of the poorest class success in which they have neither of Irish towards one another, gave me capital, patrons, nor connexions, and share of what she idiomatically termed then turns them out upon a heartless (her bite and her sup". I tried for emworld, with their pride and profession ployment everywhere, and was everyto sustain, in genteel poverty and re. where repulsed. One informed me, luctant idleness, the burden of a break. that he wouldn't take an Irishman if ing heart—if there be one father of a he was paid for keeping him; another family about to sacrifice his son at the demanded to know if I had atwo years' shrine of his own fantastic vanity, let character; a third wished me to unme assure him, in sober sadness, that derstand, before entering into partia good trade is a good thing--that culars, that I would be expected to professions are a drug in the market " come down" with a fifty-pound of society-that the fruit of his loins « flimsey," as security for the trust will never turn out Lord High Chan. reposed; while a Hebrew in Hounds. cellor or Archbishop of Canterbury, ditch, who wanted a buyer in his ragstore, peremptorily declared, “ dat low cockney; and Clerkenwell, abohe couldn't give no monish, by Gosh, minable. Spitalfields is starved ; to no buyer fat hadn't a 'spectable Southwark, stupid ; Somerstown, re. connexion in de ragsh bishness !". In fugee; Bayswater, genteel; Kensing. short, nobody would take me for no. ton Gore, ditto ; Wandsworth and thing now, because nobody had en. Vauxhall, shabby ditto; Kingsland and joyed my services previously at the Hoxton, beastly ; but Westminster same price; and it appeared that I was let me see-yes, Westminster is-I fit for nothing in time to come, be- have hit upon the very word — Westcause I had, unfortunately, been un- minster is rascally! A man has no able to get anything in times gone by right to libel a neighbourhood, any The five shillings given me as I lay on more than a neighbour; and, there. the ground, by the drunkon sailor, had fore, when I say Westminster is ras. long been exhausted; hope was oozing cally, I beg to be understood to limit out of my broken-hearted carcase, like my reprobation to that part of it which Bob Acres's courage at the tips of his lies between the Broad Sanctuary and fingers, and despondency and despair Pimlico, thence extending south and looked out at either eye, like a couple west, and not to extend, or be con. of jail-birds peeping from their respec. strued to extend, to Belgrave Square, tive cells in Cold-bath-fields prison. Eaton Square, and parts thereunto
It was as plain as the nose on Lord adjacent. Morpeth's face-a figure intelligible If you happen to be passing along to the meanest capacity--that I had Tothill Street late at night-a pronothing for it but to embrace the mi coeding I would recommend you to litary profession, to escape experienc. avoid as you value an integral skull ing for the second, and probably last you find numbers of hulking fellows time, the agonies of hunger ; to save in smock frocks, and every possible my life by perilling it in the service variety of costume, loitering about ; of his Majesty ; to sell myself, body every second house is a gin-palace, and soul, to my country, for an un- filled choke-full with low prostitutes limited term of service, for a glass of and their pals; while, from the pregrog and a shilling!
mises in the rear, there issue obscure I think I told the reader that West- sounds of clandestine music and surminster, in the olden time, was a hor reptitious dancing. There are some rid nest of monks and other profli. few eating houses in this neighbour. gates. The monks are gone, but all hood, too ; but they are usually empty the other vagabonds remain in full - Westminster generally dining from force and effect, as the law-makers home, and the eating there bearing call it, to this very day. Westminster about the same proportion to the drinkis the emporium of crimps, recruiting ing, as Falstaff's halfpennyworth of sharks, Sergeant Kites, and the haunt bread to his two gallons of sack. It of their desperate and hopeless vic- was to this classic region, then, that tims-the last refuge of the destitute I betook myself, when hunger bad in. in London. Every neighbourhood in spired me with the martial fire of the the metropolis has its character-an God of war bimself; and, pausing op. individuality about it; all are, to be posite one of the most densely popusure, composed alike of bricks, mor- lated spirituous pandemoniums, I was tar, blue-moulded stucco, and bad attracted by two tawdry prints in the taste. Yet each locality is as different window, the one representing six or in nature, and as far removed in the seven gallant warriors in red coats, social scale from its fellows, as if, in- spatch-cocking, with their united stead of being part and parcel of one bayonets, a half-naked native of Hinenorious whole, it was removed half dostan ; the other depicting, with the earth's diameter from its neigh- equally grapbic effect, the scarlet war. bour. Thus, for example, Arlington riors distributing the spoils of the naStreet is aristocratic; Park Lane, par- tive aforesaid, deceased. Underneath, ticular; Stafford Place, suspicious; in large letters, was the following at. and the Albany, rakish. Russell tractive announcement : Square, again, as every body knows, "Bringers of good men, five feet is very middling indeed ; while the seven, twelve shillings—five feet six, New Road is out of all question. six shillings, cash down, on passing Mary-le-bone is mixed; Pentonville, the doctor," Now, I happen to be five feet eleven, or thereabouts, and ceivable colour, stooped down to ex. calculating myself, bones and offal in- amine the calves of the gentlemanlike cluded, at six shillings an inch-that young man's legs, who stood under being the rate of human flesh in these the standard craning his neck, and days for military purposes, I deter- elevating himself on tip toe, as if by mined that, if a man five feet seven taking thought he could add a cubit gave a bounty to the crimps of twelve to his stature. shillings, a fellow five feet eleven was “ Do you think I'll do?" said the fairly entitled to just four times six gentlemanlike young man, with a face shillings more ; whereupon I strutted as long as if his life depended (which into the gin palace, determined to have it probably did) on his receiving a fa. value for every extra inch, and to be vourable answer, my own bringer. The place was "Do I think you'll do ?--not I, by crammed so full of crimps, bringers, my soul, unless you pull out like a recruiting sergeants, watchmen, raw pocket spy-glass," was the unsatisfacrecruits, and gentlemen like myself, tory reply. intending to embrace the heroic line, " Let me have a look at him," said that I had leisure to retreat into the another of the recruiting sergeants, back premises where the votaries of pressing forwards, seizing upon the
Terpsichore were engaged, in what gentlemanlike young man, turning some classic author, with equal tender. him round and round, feeling his arms, ness and taste, calls " sweating the legs, and ribs, like a South Carolina boards." An old man, blind, rolling slave-buyer at a Yankee " free and about his sightless orbs, as if in search independent" Nigger-market. of light, his head thrown back on his “ I'm not as fat as I was," said the shoulders, and his mouth habitually gentlemanlike young man-" I've open, to receive the drink of all kinds been three years usher at a select wbich the customers poured liberally school for young gentlemen." down his throat, thundered away, upon “ Usher !" said one of the recruita cracked grand piano, something like ing sergeants, with a scornful laugha strathspey or jig, to which time was “blast you, if you had served the king beat by a couple of ladies in black three years like a gentleman, your ribs eyes, and a corresponding number of wouldn't be sticking through your gentlemen, with sticking plaster upon pelt, blast me! You might have been the bridges of their respective noses a lauce corporal by this time, blast the apartment reeking with tobacco, me!" beer, foul breath, onions, and garlic, “ Could you get me passed ?" en- • I sate down on a bench in the farthest quired the usher, despondingly. corner of this choice assembly-room, « Me! The doctor will pass you, if and scanned curiously the extraordi. you're all sound, and no corns on your nary groups of human life that filled toes : hold out your hand, blast you!" every table. Here, a parcel of guards. said serjeant Kite, exhibiting, as he men, having succeeded in making an said it, a shilling between his finger old watchman beastly drunk, were en. and thumb. gaged in dissecting his rattle-there, “ You consent to serve his Majesty, a lady lay against the wall, rather take notice, for an unlimited period, s overcome," insensible, apparently, by land and sea, in peace and war-to to the delicate attentions of a couple of be subject to the mutiny act and the raw recruits, who were engaged, with articles of war--and to behave in all the assistance of soot mixed with beer, things as becomes an honourable man in converting her visage to the com- and a good soldier ?" said Sergeant plexion of Othello-close to a wall, Kite, grasping the extended palm of whereto was attached a machine like the usher, and suspending in air the a magnified shoe-maker's rule, but shilling, “I do," was the reply. which was, in fact, a standard of mea. The music stopped the dancers surement for recruiting purposes, stood gave over, joining the rest of the room a pale young man, of rather gentle. in crowding round the young man, who manly appearance, dressed in a suit of stood under the standard leaning hungry black, and looking every wbit against the wall, one hand grasped in as hungry as his dress. A recruiting the hand of Sergeant Kite, while the sergeant, in full uniform, his cap over- other tremulously sustained a glass of shadowed with ribbons of every con- wine to be quaffed off, the moment he