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Full text of "London characters and the humorous side of London life ; with upwards of seventy illustrations"




LONDON CHARACTERS 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF LONDON LIFE. 




THE 'VARIETIES OF " COUNSEL." P. 15G. 



u 

LONDON CHARACTERS 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF LONDON LIFE. 



WITH UPWARDS OF SEVENTY ILLUSTRATIONS. 




THE INTEBESTING WITNESS. 



LONDON : 
STANLEY EIVEES AND CO. 




LONDON : 

JUDD AMD GLASS, PHCENIX PRINTING WORKS, 
DOCTORS' COMMONS, E.C. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

THUMBNAIL STUDIES IN THE LONDON STREETS . . 1 

GETTING UP A PANTOMIME .... 42 

SITTING AT A PLAY 57 

THE THUMBNAIL SKETCHER IN A CAB . . 68 

SCENES IN COURT 79 

IN THE WITNESS Box 132 

MORE ""WITNESSES" . . . .145 

SKETCHES IN COURT . . . . . 156- 
DOWN AT WESTMINSTER . . . . .166 
THE OLD BAILEY . . . . . . 202 

OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON . 217 

OPPOSITE A CABSTAND . .- x . . 242 

AFTERNOONS IN "THE PARK" ..... 254 

LIFE IN LONDON ...... 277 

HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA ... . 294 

BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING . . 329 



LONDON CHARACTERS 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF LONDON LIFE. 



THUMBNAIL STUDIES IN THE LONDON STREETS. 

'HO are these people who 
pass to and fro ? What 
lives are theirs? "What are 
their stories? Who are 
their friends? What is 
their business ? Each has 
a story of his own each 
has a cluster of friends of 
his own each is the centre 
of a domestic circle of 
greater or less extent 
each is an object of para- 
mount interest to some- 
body ; there are few, very 
few, who are so unhappy, so isolated, as not to be the 
absolute centre around which some one's thoughts re- 

B 




2 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

volve. Of these men and women who pass and repass 
me in the crowded street, one is an only son, on 
whose progress in life his bereaved mother has staked 
her happiness ; another is the ne'er-do-weel husband of 
a spirit-broken, but still loving wife ; a third is a husband 
that is to be; a fourth is the father of a big hungry 
family every one, from peer to beggar, is the living 
centre of some social scheme. They are all so much 
alike, and yet so widely different ; their stories are so 
wonderfully similar in their broad outlines, and yet so 
strangely unlike in their minute particulars. Just as one 
man's face is like another's, so is the story of his life : no 
two faces are exactly alike, yet all have many points in 
common. 

A large crowd of people always presents many curious- 
subjects of speculation. The bare fact of their being 
there is marvellous in itself, when we come to think of it, 
without thinking too deeply. As a rule, it is better to^ 
think, but not to think too deeply. If we don't think at all, 
our mind is but a blank ; if we just glance below the 
surface, we may without difficulty conjure up a hos of 
pleasant paradoxes, the contemplation of which is enough 
to keep the mind amused, and to give play to a healthy 
and fanciful reflection. But if we think too deeply, we 
come to the reason of things we destroy our visionary 
castles we brush away our quaint theories, and we re- 
duce everything to the absolute dead-level from which 
we started. Apply these remarks to a large crowd of 
people say a monster Reform gathering in Hyde Park. 
Here are thirty thousand people vindicating their claim 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 3 

to the franchise, some by talking- windily to a mob who 
can't hear them, others by an interchange of gentle chaff, 
others by going to sleep on their backs on the grass. 
The man who don't trouble himself to think about them 
[accepts their presence as a fact which is merely attribu- 
: table to a popular demagogue and a few thousand hand- 
mills. He who just dips below the surface, finds a train 
lof thoughts of this nature prepared for him : " How 
latterly baseless is the doctrine of chances ! Take any 
[two of these people at random : one is (say) a bricklayer, 
born in Gloucestershire ; another is a tailor, who hails 
pom Canterbury : well, what would have been the 
betting, thirty years ago, that the Gloucestershire brick- 
layer would not be lolling on the grass in Hyde Park, 
istening to the inflated nonsense of the Kentish tailor, 
t eight o'clock on a given evening in August, eighteen 
undred and sixty-seven ? Why, the odds would have 
een incalculably great against such a concurrence. But 
ere are not only the Gloucestershire bricklayer and the 
[entish tailor, but also twenty-nine thousand nine hun. 
red and ninety-eight others, the odds against any one 
whom meeting any other in the same place, at the 
ame time, and on the same day, would have been equally 
acalculable ; and yet, here they all are ! " Here is a 
- ast field of speculation opened out for the consideration 
f him who only dips below the surface. It is enough, 
a itself, to keep his mind in a condition of pleasant . 
asy- going activity for months at a time. But the 
niserable man who sees a fallacy in this chain of reason- 
ug, and, so to speak, hauls up his intellectual cable to 

B 2 



4 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

see where the fault lies, discovers that it exists in the 
fact that no one, thirty years ago, prophesied anything 
of the kind concerning either the Gloucester bricklayer 
or the Kentish tailor, or any other twain of the multitude 
before him that the odds against any one having pro- 
phesied such a concurrence would be infinitely greater 
than the odds anybody would have staked against such a 
prophecy being verified ; that he has been troubling 
himself about a mass of utter nonsense ; and that, in the 
absence of any prophecy to that effect, there is nothing 
more remarkable in the fact of the Gloucestershire brick- 
layer meeting the Kentish tailor and the twenty-nine 
thousand nine hundred and ninety- eight other noodles 
who go to make up the crowd, than is to be found in the 
fact that thirty thousand people can be brought together, 
out of one city, who think that the cause of Reform is 
susceptible of any material advancement by such a 
means. 

The London streets always afford pleasant fund of 
reflection to a superficial thinker. Hardly a man passes 
by who has not some more or less strongly marked 
characteristic which may serve to distinguish him from 
his fellows, and give a clue to his previous history. Of 
course the clue may be an erroneous one ; but if ifc 
should prove to be so, that is the fault of the sagacious- 
soul who follows it up too closely. Here is an instance 
taken at random. The easy-going speculator who is 
content with such deductions as the light of nature may 
enable him to make, sets him down as a thriving bill- 
discounter. He is an old gentleman who has, at various- 
epochs in his chequered career, been a wine-merchant, a 



THE LONDON STREETS. 



cigar- dealer, a Boulogne billiard player, a trafficker in 
army commissions, a picture-dealer, a horse-dealer, a 




theatrical manager, and a bill discounter. Each of these 
occupations has left its mark, more or less emphasized, 
upon his personal appearance. He finds bill-discounting 
by far the most profitable of his employments, and he 
sticks to it. He has a large army connection, and can 
tell off the encumbrances on most of the large landed 
estates of Great Britain and Ireland. He has a fine 
cellar of old wines, and several -warehouses of cigars and 
old masters commodities which enter largely into all 
his discounting transactions. He has a large house, and 
gives liberal parties, and it is astonishing (considering 
his antecedents) how many young men of family find it 
worth their while to " show up " at them. 

Here we have Mr. Sam Travers of the metropolitan 
theatres. Mr. Sam Travers is a stock low comedian at 
a favourite minor establishment, and Mr. Sam Travers's 



THUMBNAIL STUDIES 



pre- occupied demeanour and unreasonable galvanic smiles 
suggest that his next new part is the most prominent 
subject-matter of his reflections. Mr. Travers was a 
music-hall singer and country clown until his developing 




figure interfered with the latter line of business, and he 
lias now subsided into the " comic countryman " of the 
establishment to which he is attached. His notions of 
" make up" are for the most part limited to a red wig 
and a nose to match ; but he is a " safe " actor, and on 
his appearance on the stage the gallery hail him by 
name as one man. He can't pass a man with a red head 
and red nose without exclaiming, " By Jove ! there's a 
bit of character, eh ! " and he falls into the mistake, too 
common among his class, of supposing that a man who 
looks, in the streets, as if he had been " made up " for 
the stage, is on that account characteristic and to be 
carefully imitated. 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 7 

A wicked old character is represented in the initial to 
this paper. He is a gay old bachelor, of disgraceful 
hahits and pursuits a coarse old villain without a trace 
of gentlemanly, or even manly, feeling about him. He 
stands at his club-window by day, leering at every re- 
spectable woman who passes him, in a manner that 
would insure him a hearty kicking were he not the 
enfeebled, palsied old thing he is. At dinner he drinks 
himself into a condition of drivelling imbecility, from 
which he only arouses himself in time to stagger round 
to the nearest stage-door. His income is probably de- 
rived from the contributions of disgusted connections who 
pay him to keep out of their sight, and when he dies, he 
will die, unattended, in a Duke Street lodging-house, 
whose proprietor will resent the liberty as openly as he 
dares. 

Here is an amusing fellow an artistic charlatan. He 




S THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

is by profession an artist ; his " get up " is astoundingly 
professional, and his talk is studio slang. He never 
paints anything, but haunts studios, and bothers hard- 
working craftsmen by the hour together. He has been 
all over the world, and knows every picture in every 
gallery in Europe. To hear him talk, you would think 
he was the acknowledged head of his profession. Cer- 
tainly, as far as his exterior goes, there never was so 
artistic an artist (out of a comedy) as he. 




Bound, I should say, for rehearsal. Much more quiet 
and ladylike than people who only know her from the ! 
stalls, as a popular burlesque prince, would expect her j 
to be. A good quiet girl enough, with a bedridden 
mother and three or four clean but seedy little children 
dependent upon her weekly salary (eked out, perhaps, by 
dancing and music lessons) for their daily bread. Very 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 9 

little does she know about Ascot drags and Richmond 
dinners : her life is a quiet round of regular unexciting 
duties, only relieved at distant intervals by the flash and 
flutter of a new part. She will marry, perhaps, the 
leader of the band, or the stage-manager, or the low 
comedian, grow fat, and eventually train pupils for the 
stage. 




Ah ! his story, past and to come, is easily told. Bank 
clerk by day casino reveller by night, eventually a 
defaulter ; three years' penal servitude, ticket of leave, 
then a billiard marker and betting man, and if success- 
ful, perhaps a small cigar-shop keeper. Or, if he has 
relations, his passage may be paid out to Australia, 
where he will begin as an attorney's clerk and perhaps 
end as a judge. Most of us have some great original 
i whom we set up as a type of what a man should be, 



10 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

and that selected by our friend is the "great Vance." 
He frames his costume from the outsides of comic songs, 
and his air and conversation are of the slap-bang order 
of architecture. His clothes and those of his friends are 
always new offensively new a phenomenon which is 
not easily accounted for when the limited nature of their 
finances is taken into consideration. I have a theory 
that they are clothed gratuitously by "West- end tailors 
who want to get up a fashionable reaction in the matter 
of gentlemen's dress, and who think that this end may 
be most readily attained by clothing such men as these 
in exaggerations of existing fashions. But this is just 
one of those speculations to which I have alluded at 
some length, and which on closer investigation I feel I 
should be tempted to reject. So I decline to pursue the 
subject. 

A London crowd is an awful thing, when you reflect ' 
upon the number of infamous characters of which it is 
necessarily composed. I don't care what crowd it is 
whether it is an assemblage of " raff " at a suburban 
fair, a body of Volunteers, Rotten Row in the season, or 
an Exeter Hall May meeting. Some ingenious statis- 
tician has calculated that one in every forty adults in 
London is a professional thief; that is to say, a gentleman 
who adopts, almost publicly, the profession of burglar, 
pickpocket, or area sneak ; who lives by dishonesty alone, 
and who, were dishonest courses to fail him, would have 
no means whatever of gaining a livelihood. But of the 
really disreputable people in London, I suppose that 
acknowledged thieves do not form one twentieth portion. 
Think of the number of men now living and doing well, 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 11 

as respectable members of society, who are destined either 
to be hanged for murder or to be reprieved, according 
to the form which the humanitarianism of the Home 
Secretary for the time being may take. Murderers are 
not recruited, as a rule, from the criminal classes. It is 
true that now and then a man or woman is murdered 
for his or her wealth by a professed thief, but it is the 
exception, and not the rule. Murder is often the crime 
of one who has never brought himself under the notice 
of the police before. It is the crime of the young girl 
with an illegitimate baby : of the jealous husband, lover, 
or wife ; of a man exposed suddenly to a temptation 
which he cannot resist the temptation of a good watch 
or a well-filled purse, which, not being a professional 
thief, he does not know how to get at by any means short 
of murder. Well, all the scoundrels who are going to 
commit these crimes, and to be hung or reprieved for 
them accordingly, are now walking about among us, and 
in every big crowd there must be at least one or two of 
them. Then the forgers ; they are not ordinarily pro- 
fessional thieves ; they are usually people holding 
situations of greater or less responsibility, from bank 
managers down to office boys : well, all the forgers who 
are to be tried at all the sessions and assizes for the next 
twenty years, are walking about among us as freely as 
you or I. Then the embezzlers these are always people 
who stand well with their employers and their friends. 
I remember hearing a judge say, in the course of the 
trial of a savings-bank clerk for embezzlement, when the 
prisoner's counsel offered to call witnesses to character 



12 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

of the highest respectability, that he attached little or no 
value to the witnesses called to speak to their knowledge 
of the prisoner's character in an embezzlement case, as a 
man must necessarily be of good repute among his fellows 
before he could be placed in a position in which embezzle- 
ment was possible to him. Then the committers of 
assaults of all kinds. These are seldom drawn from the 
purely criminal classes, though, of course, there are cases 
in which professional thieves resort to violence when they 
cannot obtain their booty by other means. All these 
people all the murderers, forgers, embezzlers, and 
assaulters, who are to be tried for their crimes during 
the next (say) twenty years, and moreover, all the 
murderers, forgers, embezzlers, and assaulters whose 
crimes escape detection altogether (here is a vast field for 
speculation open to the ingenious statisticians of whom 
I am certainly one who begin with conclusions, and 
" try back" to find premisses !) all are elbowing us 
about in the streets of this and other towns every day of 
our lives. How many of these go to make up a London 
crowd of, say, thirty thousand people ? Add to this un- 
savoury category all the fraudulent bankrupts, past and 
to come, all the army of swindlers, all the betting thieves, 
all the unconscientious liars, all the men who ill-treat 
their wives, all the wives who ill-treat their husbands, all 
the profligates of both sexes, all the scoundrels of every 
shape and dye whose crimes do not come under the ken 
of the British policeman, but who, for all that, are in- 
finitely more harmful to the structure of London society 
than the poor prig who gets six months for a "wipe," and 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 13 

then reflect upon the nature of your associates whenever 
you venture into a crowd of any magnitude ! 

Struck by these considerations (I am not a deep 
thinker, as I hinted in a former page if I thought more 
deeply about them I might find reasons which would 
induce me to throw these considerations to the winds), I 
beg that it will be understood that all the remarks that I 
may make in favour of the people who form the subject 
of this chapter, are subject to many mental reservations 
as to their probable infamy and possible detection. 

Here is a gentleman who, as far as I know, is a 
thoroughly good fellow. He is a soldier, and a suffi- 




ciently fortunate one, and stands well up among the 
captains and lieutenant-colonels of his regiment of Guards. 
He has seen service in the Crimea, as his three undress 



14 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

medals testify. He is, I suppose, on his way to the j 
orderly-room at the Horse Guards, for, at this morte saison, 
his seniors are away, and he is in command. Unlike 
most Guardsmen, he knows his work thoroughly, for he 
was the adjutant of his battalion for the six or seven years 
of his captaincy. He is a strict soldier ; rather feared by 
his subalterns when he is in command, but very much 
liked notwithstanding. He has married a wealthy wife, 
has a good house in Berkeley Square, and a place in 
Inverness- shire, with grouse-moors, deer-forests, and 
salmon-streams of the right sort. He is thinking of 
standing for the county, at his wife's suggestion, but 
beyond a genial interest in conservative successes, he does 
not trouble himself much about politics. Everybody 
likes him, but he may I say, he may be an awful 
scoundrel at bottom. 

Here are two young gentlemen (on your right), who- 
appear to be annoying a quiet-looking and rather plain 
young milliner. I am sorry to say that this is a group- 
which presents itself much too often to the Thumbnail. 
Sketcher. I do not mean to say that the two young men 
are always disgraceful bullies of unprotected young; 
women, or that the unprotected young women are always 
the timid, shrinking girls that they are commonly repre-- 
sented to be in dramas of domestic interest, and in in- 
dignant letters to the "Times" newspaper. I am afraid 
that it only too often happens that the shrinking milliner- 
is quite as glad of the society of the young men who 
accost her as the young men are of hers, although I am 
bound to admit that in the present case the girl seems a. 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 



15 



lecent girl, and her annoyers two "jolly dogs," of the most 
objectionable type. One of them is so obliging as to offer 
lier his arm, while the other condescends to the extent of 
-offering to carry her bandbox, an employment with which 
he is probably not altogether unfamiliar in the ordinary 
routine of his avocations. She will bear with them for a 
few minutes, in the hope that her continued silence will 
induce them to cease their annoyance, and when she finds 
that their admiration is rather increased than abated by 
her modest demeanour, she will stop still and request 
them to go on without her. As this is quite out of the 




question, she will cross the road, and they will follow 
her. At length their behaviour will perhaps be noticed 
;by a plucky but injudicious passer-by, who will twist one 



16 



THUMBNAIL STUDIES 



of them on to his back by the collar, and be knocked 
down himself by the other. Upon this a fight will ensue, 
the young milliner will escape, and the whole thing will 
end unromantically enough in the station-house. 

Here is an unfortunate soldier, a fit and proper con- 
trast to the comfortable and contented Guardsman 
(page 13). He is one of the Indian army of martyrs, who 
has given up all hope of anything like promotion, and. 




after a life of battles, has subsided into that refuge for 
destitute officers, a volunteer adjutantcy. He is a 
thoroughly disappointed man, but he is much too well 
bred to trouble you with his disappointments, unless you 
pump him on the subject, and then you will find that the- 
amalgamation of the British and Indian forces has re- 
sulted in complications that you cannot understand, and 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. IT 

that one of these complications is at the bottom of his- 
retirement from active service. He has strong views 
upon, and a certain interest in, the Banda and Kirwee 
prize money, and he looks forward to buying an annuity 
for his mother (who lets lodgings) with his share, if he- 
should ever get it. He is poor that is to say, his 
income is small ; but he always manages to dress well, 
and looks gentlemanly from a gentleman's although,, 
perhaps, not from a tailor's point of view. 

This rather heavy and very melancholy-looking gentle- 
man with the thick black beard is a purveyor of touch- 




and-go farces to the principal metropolitan theatres. He 
also does amusing gossip for the provincial journals, light 
frothy magazine articles, dramatic criticisms for a weekly 
paper, and an occasional novel of an airy, not to say ex- 



18 



THUMBNAIL STUDIES 



tremely trivial nature. His name is well known to the 
readers of light literature, and also to enthusiastic play- 
goers who go early and come away late. He is supposed 
by them to pass a butterfly existence, flitting gaily from 
screaming farce to rollicking " comic copy," and back 
again from rollicking comic copy to screaming farce. But 
this is not exactly true of his professional existence. He 
is but a moody buffoon in private life, much addicted to 
the smoking of .long clay pipes and the contemplation of 
bad boots. He is, at bottom, a good-natured fellow, and 
a -sufficiently industrious one. He is much chaffed for 
his moody nature now, but he will die some day, and 
then many solemn bumpers will be emptied by his club 
fellows to the memory of the good heart that underlaid 
that thin veneer of cynicism. 




Here is a sketch from the window at White's. He is 
=also a member of the Senior and the Carlton, but he is 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 19- 

seldom seen at either. He prefers the view from 
White's, and he prefers the men he meets there, and he 
likes the chattiness of that famous club. He knows 
everybody, does the old major, and has, in his time, 
been everywhere. He has served in a dozen different 
capacities, and in almost as many services ; indeed, his 
range of military experience extends from a captaincy of 
Bashi Bazouksto a majority of Yeomanry Cavalry. He 
has been rather a sad dog in his time, but he is much 
quieter now, and is extremely popular among dowagers 
at fashionable watering-places. 

This young gentleman is a Foreign Office clerk, and- 




he is just now on his way to discharge his arduous duties 
in that official paradise. "He is a rather weak-headed 
young gentleman, of very good family and very poor 



20 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

fortune, and in course of time he will churn up into a 
very sound, serviceable ambassador. At present he does 
not " go out " with the Government, though that dis- 
tinction may be in reserve for him if he perseveres in his 
present judicious course of gentlemanly sleepiness. He 
is, in common with most of his Foreign Office fraternity, 
a great deal too well dressed. It is really astonishing 
that young men of birth and breeding, as most of 
these Foreign Office clerks are, should be so blind to 
the fact that there is nothing in this world so utterly 
offensive to men of cultivated taste as a suit of bran new 
clothes. His views, at present, are limited to his office, 
the "Times," his club, and any shootings or fishings 
that may be offered to him by friendly proprietors. 

The streets are strange levellers. They form a com- 
mon ground upon which all ranks meet on equal terms 
where no one, however lofty his station (so that it fall 
short of royalty), or however distinguished his career, has 
any right of precedence to the disadvantage of humbler 
members of the community. The First Lord of the 
Treasury, in whose presence small statesmen tremble, 
will, if he happens to run against a costermonger, be asked, 
with no ceremony whatever, where he is shoving to ; and 
the Lord High Chancellor of England when he walks 
abroad is nothing better than a "bloke" in the eyes of 
him who keeps a potato-can. It is in the streets that 
the private soldier stops the Commander-in- Chief to ask 
him for a light, and over-dressed shopmen sneer at seedy 
dukes. There the flunkey ogles the lady into whose 
service he may be about to enter, and there the indis- 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 21 

criminating 'busman invites countesses into his convey- 
ance. In the streets the penniless Fenian finds his 
" Fool's Paradise " half realized rank is abolished, and 
an equal distribution of property is all that remains for 
him to accomplish. 

The Thumbnail Sketcher will often find an amusing if 
not a profitable occupation in attentively noticing the 
peculiarities of almost any one person who happens to be 
walking in his direction. It is astonishing how much of 
a total stranger's tastes and habits may be learnt by 
simply following him through half a mile of crowded 
thoroughfare. You will find, perhaps, that he stops at 
all print-shops ; if so, he has a taste, good or bad, for art 
in certain of its branches, and you can form an idea as to 
the quality of that taste by taking note of the pictures 
that principally arrest his attention. Is that the " Phryne 
Decouverte " that he is admiring ? Ah ! I fear his taste 
for art is not so immaculate as it should be. He is stop- 
ping now at a fashionable perfumer's, and he is reading 
an account of the marvellous deceptive powers of the 
" Indistinguishable scalp," a fact that directs my atten- 
tion to so much of his hair as I can see below his hat- 
brim, and I notice that it stands out unnaturally from 
the nape of his neck. His next pause is at the shop of 
an eminent Italian warehouseman, and as his eyes glisten 
over pots of caviare, Lyons sausages, and pates de foie 
gras, I conclude that he is a Ion rivant. A pretty woman 
passes him, and he makes a half-turn in her direction a 
sad dog, I'm afraid. Another and a prettier woman over- 
takes him, and he hurries his pace that he may keep up 



22 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

with her a very sad dog, I'm sure. He passes the shop 
of a flashy tailor, and gazes admiringly at a pair of trou- 
sers that seem to scream aloud so he must be a bit of a 
" cad." Opticians' shops have no charms for him, so his- 
tastes do not take a scientific form ; and as he passes a 
window full of Aldines and Elzevirs, I suppose he is not 
a ripe scholar. A glass case of grinning teeth pulls him 
up, so I conclude that his powers of mastication are- 
giving way, and as he takes off his hat to a gentleman 
who only touches his own in reply, I see that his social 
position is not eminent. Playbills seem to possess an 
extraordinary fascination for him, and he dawdles for half 
nn hour at a time over photographic Menkens and Abing- 
dons he is evidently a patron of the drama in its more- 
objectionable forms. He crosses crowded thoroughfares 
without hesitation, so he is a Londoner, and I see from, 
the fact that he stops to buy a " Bradshaw," that he is 
going out of town. Another provision shop arrests hi& 
attention, and I feel confirmed in the conclusion I have 
arrived at that he is an epicure, practical or theoretical ^ 
and as I eventually lose him in a cheap eating-house, I 
conclude that circumstances over which he has no control 
render the latter alternative the more probable of the two. 
Altogether I have seen enough of him to justify me in 
determining that a personal acquaintance with him is not 
an advantage which I would go through fire and water 
to obtain. 

It frequently happens, however, that a pretty accurate 
notion of a man's habits and character may be arrived 
at without taking all this trouble. A glance is often. 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 



23 



sufficient to enable an observant Thumbnail Sketcher to 
satisfy himself, at all events, on these points; and so 
that he himself is satisfied, it matters little whether he 
is right or wrong in his deductions. Here is a gentleman 
;about whom there can be no mistake. He is a Promoter 




of Public Companies. He will, at ten days' notice, get 
you up an association for any legitimate purpose you 
may think fit, and a good many illegitimate ones into 
the bargain. He is a specious, showy, flashily- dressed, 
knowing-looking gentleman, with a general knowledge of 
most things, and an especial and particular acquaintance 
with the manners and customs of fools in general. B e 
has served an apprenticeship in a good many excellent 
schools. He was an attorney once, but he was young 
then, and blundered, so they struck him off the rolls. 



24 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

He afterwards jobbed on the Stock Exchange, but (being 
still young) he misappropriated funds, and although he 
was not prosecuted, he found it convenient to steer clear 
of that commercial Tattersall's for the future. He then 
became clerk to a general agent, and afterwards touted 
for a respectable discounter. He made a little money at 
this, and determined to give legitimate commerce a turn, 
so he opened a mock auction, and sold massive silver tea- 
services and chronometers of extraordinary value, all day 
long, to two faded females and three dissipated Jewish 
lads of seedy aspect but unlimited resources. The dis- 
trict magistrates, however, took it upon themselves to 
post policemen at his door fo warn would-be customers 
away, so he turned his hand to betting, and succeeded so 
well that he soon found himself in a position to take a 
higher stand He got up a Company, with six other 
influential Betters, for the supply of street-lamps to 
Central Africa, showing, in his prospectus, that where 
street lamps were to be found, houses would soon be 
gathered together, and houses, if gathered together in 
sufficient numbers, formed important cities, a large pro- 
portion of the revenues of which would, of course, flow 
into the pockets of the public-spirited shareholders. 
The " Central Africa Street Lamp Company (Limited)" 
flourished for a short time only, but it enabled him to 
form a connection by which he lives and flourishes. He 
is very disinterested in all his undertakings : he never 
cares to share in the profits of his Promotions he is 
good enough to leave them all to his shareholders. All 
he wants is a sum down or a good bill at three months, 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 



25 



and the Company, once set a-going, will never be trou- 
bled with him again. His varied experience has taught 
him many useful lessons and this among others, that 
only fools take to illegitimate swindling. 

Who is this dull and bilious man ? He is a high- 
class journalist and essayist, whose pride and boast it is 
that he has never written for a penny paper. Being a 




heavy and a lifeless writer, he entertains a withering 
contempt for amusing literature of every description. 
He takes the historical plays of Shakspeare under his 
wing, and extends his pompous patronage to Sheridan 
Knowles and all other deceased dramatists who wrote in 
five acts, only he never goes to see their productions 
played. Upon modern dramas of all kinds he is ex- 
tremely severe, and he lashes burlesque writers (when 



26 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

he condescends to notice them) without mercy. He has- 
never been known to amuse anybody in the whole course of" 
his literary career, and would no more make a joke than 
he would throw a summersault. In the earlier stages- 
of his career he made a comfortable income by writing 
sermons for idle clergymen, and his facility for arguing 
in circles, combined with a natural aptitude for grouping 
his remarks under three heads and a " Lastly," made 
him popular with his more orthodox customers, so he 
always had plenty to do. He used to sell his sermons ta 
London clergymen as modern dramatic authors sell their 
plays to London managers reserving the " country 
right " arid farming them through the provinces, with 
important pecuniary results. He is generally to be found 
in the bar-parlours of solemn taverns, where he presides 
as Sir Oracle over a group of heavy-headed but believing 
tradesmen. He is a contributor to all religious maga- 
zines of every denomination, and is usually regarded by 
his intimate friends as a ripe, but wholly incomprehensi- 
ble scholar. 

Our next is an artist's model. He is a shocking old 
scamp with a highly virtuous beard, and a general air of 
the patriarch Moses gone to the bad. He was once a 
trooper in a regiment of Life Guards, but he drank to such 
an extent that he was requested to resign. In the course of 
a period of enforced leisure he grew his beard, and as it 
happened to grow Mosaically, he became popular with 
artists of the high art school, and he found it worth his 
while to let himself out for hire at per hour. Artists 
are men of liberal souls, who don't care how much their 



IN THE LONDON STMEETS. 



27 



models may drink so that they don't come drunk into 
the studio ; but they are extremely particular upon this 
latter point, and the patriarch does not always respect 




their prejudices. So it often happens that his time is at 
liis disposal, and when this happens he engages himself 
as a theatre supernumerary. He has been convicted of 
dishonesty on two or three occasions, and was once sent 
for trial and sentenced to penal servitude for three years. 
He has a way of advertising himself by taking off his 
hat and showing his forehead and hair (which are really 
good) whenever he sees a gentleman in a velvet coat and 
eccentric beard. 

Then comes a gentleman whose source of income is a 
standing wonder to all his friends. Nobody can tell how 
lie gets his living. Sometimes he is very flush of ready 



28 



THUMBNAIL STUDIES 



money and sometimes he is hard up for half-a-crown. 
His mode of life is altogether contradictory and incon- 
sistent. He lives in a small house in a fifth-rate square, 
and his household consists of himself, a depressed wife, 
five untidy children, and two maidservants. But, on the 
other hand, he drives magnificent horses in irreproachable 




phaetons, gives elaborate dinners, with all sorts of out-of- 
season delicacies, has his stall at the Opera, and drives 
to all races in a four-in-hand of his own hiring. Times 
have been when the showy phaeton was returned to the 
livery-stable keeper, and when Mr. Charles had orders to 
send him no more salmon when he and his family have 
been known to feed on chops and rice pudding when 
his hall has entertained a succession of dunning trades- 
men from nine in the morning till nine at night and 



IN THE LONDON STREETS, 



29 



when he himself had been seen outside omnibuses. But 
these occasional periods of monetary depression have 
passed away, and he has come out of them with renewed 
splendour. A phaeton and pair (only not the same) 
await his orders as before, and salmon at a guinea a 
pound forms the least extravagant feature of his daily 
meal. Now and then he disappears from his neighbour- 
hood for six months at a time, and his tradesmen are left 
to tell the stories of their wrongs to the maidservant over 
the area railings. But he turns up again, in course of 
time, pays them off, and so gets fresh credit. Altogether 
he is a social mystery. The only hypothesis that appears 
to account for these phenomena is that he keeps a 
gaming house. 




Here is poor young Aldershot. He is very young 
and very foolish, but he will grow older and wiser, and 



30 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

his faults may be pardoned. On the strength of his 
commissionj and a singularly slender allowance, he is 
able to get credit for almost any amount, and what 
wonder that he avails himself of the opportunity ? The 
great mistake of his life is that he does harmless things 
to excess. He over eats, he over drinks, he over rides, 
he over dances, he over smokes, and he over dresses. 
He has no distinctive points beyond these his other 
qualifications are mostly negative. He is at present 
simply a smoky donkey with a developing taste for mild 
vice, a devoted faith in his autocratic tailor, and a con- 
firmed objection to the wedding tie. He will grow out 
of all this, if he has the good luck to spend ten or fifteen 
years in India, and he will return a big, burly, bronzed 
captain with hair on his hands, and a breast like a 
watch-maker's shop. The nonsense will have been 
knocked out of him by that time, and his views on the 
subject of matrimony will change. 

The following gentleman has seen better days. He was 
once a prizefighter and kept a public house upon which 
he promised to thrive, but the police and the licensing 
magistrates interfered, and one fine morning he found 
his occupation gone. In point of fact his public house 
(which was in Lant Street, Borough) became known as 
a rendezvous for thieves of the worst class, and his 
licence was consequently suspended. His figure de- 
veloped too rapidly to allow of his following his other 
calling with credit, so he had nothing for it but to 
turn his hand to card-sharping and patter-business on 
race-courses and at street corners. He is gifted with a 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 



31 



loud voice, an ad captandum manner, and a fluent de- 
livery, and in the assumed character of a gentleman who 
has undertaken to dispose of a certain number of purses. 




with sovereigns in them for one shilling, in accordance- 
with the terms of a bet of ten thoiisand guineas made 
between two sporting noblemen of acknowledged cele- 
brity, he manages to net a very decent livelihood. 

The Thumbnail Sketcher's partiality for the London 
streets may be attributed, in a great measure, to the 
fact that, being a person of no consideration whatever 
elsewhere, he becomes, as soon as he places his foot upon 
the pavement, an autocrat invested with powers and 
privileges of the most despotic description. It is then in 
his power to inconvenience his fellow-man to an extent 



32 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

unknown in any other sphere of action, excepting perhaps 
a theatre. A man who goes forth in the morning with 
the determination of annoying as many people as possible 
during the day, without bringing himself within the pale 
of the law, has an exciting, and at the same time per- 
fectly safe, career before him. It is then open to him to 
annoy hurried people by asking them the way to obscure 
or impossible addresses. He can call at and inspect all 
the apartments to be let upon his road ; he may buy 
oranges (if that luscious fruit is in season) and scatter 
the peel broadcast on the pavement ; he may, by quietly 
munching a strong onion, drive a crowd from a print- 
seller's window ; and he can, at any time, reassemble one 
by disputing with a cabman on the matter of his fare. 
He may delay a street-full of busy people by stopping his 
Hansom in (say) Threadneedle Street ; and he may, in 
Lalf a dozen words, carefully selected, put the whole 
mechanism of the London police into operation. He 
may delay an omnibus-full of people by pretending to 
Tiave dropped a sovereign in the straw, and, if it is a wet 
day, he can spoil any lady's dress with his muddy boot 8 
or his wet umbrella. He can at any time, on a narrow 
pavement, drive well-dressed ladies into the roadway, a 
pastime popular enough with the politest nation in the 
world, but which has hardly yet acquired a recognised 
footing among coarse and brutal Englishmen. In short, 
he has it in his power to make himself an unmitigated 
nuisance with perfect impunity ; and it is a creditable 
feature in his character that he does not often take advan- 
tage of his privilege. He is satisfied with the power 



IN THE LONDON STItEETS. 33 

vested in him, without caring to set its machinery in 
motion without due provocation. 

The prerogative which I have here claimed for the 
Thumbnail Sketcher is not his alone ; it is shared in a 
greater or less degree by all. Indeed the humbler and 
more filthy the passenger, the more marked are his privi- 
leges. The organ-grinder has it in his power to poison 
the atmosphere with his hideous and distracting music 
whenever ho pleases ; the costermonger and dustman 
may make morn hideous with their professional yells ; 
German bands may bray wherever they choose, and 
Punch-and- Judy-men crow and chuckle in every street ; 
while the wealthy and comparatively inoffensive bone- 
crusher, soap-boiler, knacker, or tanner is liable at any 
moment to be indicted as a nuisance if he happens to be 
in evil odour with his neighbours. This state of things 
is altogether an anomaly, but the humbler classes in 
whose favour it operates might surely be disposed to take 
the many benefits they derive from it as a set-off to the 
manhood suffrage which is not yet accorded to them. It 
may be taken indeed as a moral certainty that hardly a 
man walks into a London street without causing an incon- 
venience of greater or less magnitude to some of his fel- 
low-passengers. But it is not the fashion to estimate 
moral certainties as physical certainties are estimated, 
and therefore people are allowed to walk abroad when- 
ever they please without regard to the fearful annoy- 
ance that may be caused to a refined and sensitive organ- 
ization by an outrageous hat, a taste for bad cigars, or a 
passion for peppermint drops. It is instructive, by the 



34 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

way, to contrast the utter irresponsibility of a moral cer- 
tainty with the absolute responsibility of a physical cer- 
tainty. A certainty is a certainty, whether it be moral 
or physical ; it is a moral certainty that in the course of 
the erection of (say) the new Law Courts at least a dozen 
people will be accidentally killed, yet nobody would dream 
of stopping the works on that account, But if it were 
possible to enter into an exceptional arrangement with 
Fate, by which the deliberate slaughter of one man before 
the first stone was laid would secure absolute immunity 
for the hundreds of others whose lives would otherwise be 
in daily peiil during the eight or ten years which must 
elapse before the works are completed, society would pro- 
test with one voice against the inhuman compact, and the 
contractor who entered into it would be branded as a 
cold-blooded murderer. But from a politico-economical 
point of view he would be a conspicuous benefactor to his 
species. 

The Thumbnail Sketcher, having now let off his super- 
fluous steam, proposes once more to take the reader by 
the arm and direct his attention to half a dozen more of 
the involuntary models who unwittingly provide him with 
amusement and instruction whenever he takes his walks 
abroad. 

Here is an amusing example of that bland, gentlemanly, 
useful humbug the fourth-rate family doctor. Although 
undoubtedly a humbug, he is not a quack. His professional 
acquirements are quite up to the average mark, although 
they seldom go beyond it. He has satisfied the College 
of Surgeons and he has passed the Hall with decency ; he 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 35 

has even, perhaps, graduated as M.B. at London, and is 
consequently styled Doctor by courtesy. But he is a 
humbug for all that. He is not satisfied with the average 
professional status to which his average professional ac- 
quirements and average professional brain would, if 
honestly worked, confine him ; he soars high above this, 
on the strength of a bland, impressive manner, an im- 




posing presence, and a certain quiet audacity in prescribing 
eccentric but harmless remedies for fanciful complaints. 
He is much too sensible a fellow to go beyond his depth, 
but his depth is a tolerably deep one, and his plan of 
elevating himself on moral tiptoes makes it appear con- 

c 2 



36 THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 

siderably deeper than it really is. As I said before, with 
all his humbug and pretence he can, if he likes, be really 
useful, and his waiting-room is daily thronged with real 
or fanciful sufferers, who are quite justified in placing a 
modest belief in him. Their mistake consists in believing 
in him absolutely, on the mere strength of a bland, im- 
pressive presence. 

Who is this red-faced, white-haired, pompous old gen- 
tleman who is holding forth in a window of the " Senior ?" 
He is an old officer who retired on half- pay forty years 




ago, a humble, blundering captain, and who, by dint of 
long standing, has worked his way up into the dignified 
list of generals. When in active service he knew abso- 



7.V THE LONDON STREETS. 37 

lutoly nothing of his duty ; he was the stock regimental 
by- word whenever the subject of military incompetence 
was broached. He was the scapegoat upon whose 
shoulders the responsibility of all regimental blunders 
was laid, and subalterns, six weeks old, would pose him 
with impossible questions and record his oracular replies. 
!N"ow, however, that he has been cut off for forty years or 
so from anything in the shape of practical experience in 
military matters, and so has attained the rank of major- 
general, he is looked upon as an important authority on 
the organization of armies, and advanced strategy. He 
is a county magistrate and a member for an important 
borough, and his orations on Horse-Guards mismanage- 
ment and military innovations, though little regarded in 
the House, are looked upon by the outside public with a 
respect which is born rather of his military rank than of 
his military knowledge. 

On next page stands an anomalous gentleman, one of a 
group of four seedy but flashy individuals who are loafing 
about the doors of a theatrical public-house in Bow Street. 
He is an ex-equestrian, and the proprietor of a travelling 
circus. A few years ago he was known as that daring 
and graceful rider Annibale Corinski, whose " Courier of 
the Dardanelles" on fourteen horses was justly celebrated 
as the most thrilling performance ever witnessed in this 
or any other country. But Annibale grew too fat for the 
business, so he married the widow of his late employer 
and set up as a circus proprietor on his own account. His 
present position, as master of the ring, is one of qualified 
dignity. It is true that, by virtue of his office, he is 



THUMBNAIL STUDIES 



entitled to appear in a braided military frock, jack-boots, 
and a gold-lace cap ; but he has, on the other hand, to 
submit to nightly affronts from ill-conditioned jesters, 




whose mildest insults take the form of riddles with offen- 
sive answers, calculated to cover him publicly with con- 
fusion. 

Here comes a tall, soldierly man in civilian clothes. 
He is soldierly in his carriage, only he has no moustache, 
and his little black eyes are quick and restless. He is 
awake to most things, and his only delusion is that, being 
u policeman in plain clothes, he looks like a prosperous 
shopkeeper, a confidential clerk, a nobleman of easy man- 
ners, or a country yokel in town for a " spree," according 



Zy THE LONDON STREETS. 39 

to the characters which the peculiarities of his several 
cases require him to assume. But the disguises are a failure. 




The more he disguises himself the more he looks like a 
policeman in plain clothes, and as long as he continues 
in the force his official identity will assert itself. 

Now appears a curious old bachelor of eccentric habits. 
Nobody knows much about him, except a confidential 
man-servant who effectually defeats any attempt to pump 
him on the subject of his master's eccentricities. All that 
is known of him is that he lives in a lodging-house in 
Duke-street, St. James's. His valet is the only person 
who is ever allowed to enter his room ; his meals, care- 
fully but not expensively organised, are served with ex- 



40 



THUMBNAIL KTUD1ES 



traordinary punctuality ; he has a horror of children and 
tobacco, and a nervous dread of Hansom cahs ; he takes 
a walk, between two and three every afternoon, round 
St. James's Square, along Pall Mall, up St. James's 
Street, and so home, stopping regularly at Sams's to look 




at the profile pictures of distinguished sporting and other 
noblemen, and finishing up with a Bath bun and a glass 
of cherry-brandy at the corner of Bond-street. He is 
supposed by some to be a fraudulent banker, by others a 
disgraced clergyman, by others an escaped convict of 
desperate character, and by the more rational portion of 
his observers as a harmless monomaniac. He never gives 
his name, and his lodgings are taken for him by his valet. 
There is a rumour afloat that he is a royal descendant of 



IN THE LONDON STREETS. 



41 



Hannah Lightfoot, and that he is only waiting for an 
opportunity to declare his rights and step at once into 
the throne of England ; but I believe that this theory is 
confined to an imaginative and romantic few. 

Here is one of those miserable ghosts that start up from 
time to time in the London streets, to sicken the rich man 
of his wealth and to disgust the happy man with his 
happiness. If the wretched object before us could put his 
thoughts into intelligible English, what a story of misery, 
want, filth, sickness, and crime he could unfold ! He is 



VAN 




of course a thief; who in his situation would not be ? He 
is a liar ; but his lies are told for bread. He is a blas- 
phemer ; God help him, what has he to be thankful for ? 
He is filthy in his person ; but filth means warmth in 



42 THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 

his vocabulary. He pushes his way insolently among 
well-dressed women, who shrink from his infected rags ; 
why should he respect those whose only regard for him is 
a feeling of undisguised aversion? He can tell you of 
open-air places where there is snug lying ; places where 
you can sleep with tolerable comfort for nothing ; he can 
tell you all about the different houses of detention, 
criminal gaols, police-cells, and tramp-wards in the 
neighbourhood of the metropolis ; and he can compare 
their various merits and demerits, and strike a balance in 
favour of this or that. He has been a thief since be 
could walk, and he will be a thief till he dies it is the 
only trade that has ever been opened to him, and in his 
case it has proved a poor one. Truly he is one of the 
saddest sights in the London streets. 



GETTING UP A PANTOMIME. 

*' HARLEQUIN, Columbine, Pantaloon, and Clown ! " 
There is an agreeable magic in these words, although 
they carry us back to the most miserable period of our 
existence early childhood. They stand out in our recol- 
lection vividly and distinctly, for they are associated with 
one of the very few real enjoyments permitted- to us at 
that grim stage of our development. It is a poetic fashion 
to look back with sentimental regret upon the days of 
early childhood, and to contrast the advantages of imma- 
turity with the disadvantages of complete mental and 



GETTING UP A PANTOMIME. 43 

physical efflorescence; but like many other fashions 
especially many poetic fashions it lacks a common sub- 
stratum of common sense. The happiness of infancy lies 
in its total irresponsibility, its incapacity to distinguish, 
between right and wrong, its general helplessness, its 
inability to argue rationally, and its having nothing what- 
ever upon its half-born little mind, privileges which are 
equally the property of an idiot in a lunatic asylum. In 
point of fact, a new-born baby is an absolute idiot ; and 
as it reaches maturity by successive stages, so, by succes- 
sive stages does its intelligence increase, until (some- 
where about forty or fifty years after birth) it shakes off 
the attributes of the idiot altogether. It is really much 
more poetical, as well as much more accurate, to believe 
that we advance in happiness as our intellectual powers 
expand. It is true that maturity brings with it troubles 
to which infancy is a stranger ; but, on the other hand, 
infancy has pains of its own which are probably as hard 
to bear as the ordinary disappointments of responsible 
men. 

" Harlequin, Columbine, Clown, and Pantaloon !" Yes, 
they awaken, in my mind at all events, the only recollec- 
tion of unmixed pleasure associated with early childhood. 
Those night expeditions to a mystic building, where in- 
comprehensible beings of all descriptions held astounding 
revels, under circumstances which I never endeavoured 
to account for, were to my infant mind absolutely realiza- 
tions of a fairy mythology which I had almost incor- 
porated with my religious faith. I had no idea, at that 
early age, of a Harlequin who spent the day hours in a 



44 THUMBNAIL HT 

pair of trousers and a bad hat; I had not attempted to 
realize a Clown with an ordinary complexion, and walk- 
ing inoffensively down Bow Street in a cheap suit. I 
had not tried to grasp the possibility of a Pantaloon 
being actually a mild but slangy youth of two-and- 
twenty ; nor had I a notion that a Columbine must pay 
her rent like an ordinary lodger, or take the matter-of- 
fact consequences of pecuniary unpunctuality. I be- 
lieved in their existence, as I did in that of the Enchanter 
Humgruffin, Prince Poppet, King Hurly Burly, and 
Princess Prettitoes, and I looked upon the final metemp- 
sychosis of these individuals as a proper and legitimate 
reward for their several virtues and vices. To be a 
Harlequin or Columbine was the summit of earthly 
happiness to which a worthy man or woman could aspire; 
while the condition of Clown or Pantaloon was a fitting 
purgatory in which to expiate the guilty deeds of a life 
misspent. But as I grew older, I am afraid that I 
came to look upon the relative merits of these mystic 
personages in a different light. I came to regard the 
Clown as a good fellow, whom it would be an honour to 
claim as an intimate companion ; while the Harlequin 
degenerated into a rather tiresome muff, who delayed the 
fun while he danced in a meaningless way with a plain, 
stoutish person of mature age. As Christmases rolled 
by, I came to know some Clowns personally, and it 
interfered with my belief in them to find that they were 
not the inaccessible personages I had formerly supposed 
them to be. I was disgusted to find that they were, as 
a body, a humble and deferential class of men, who 



(!ETTIN<! UP A PANTOMIME. 45 

called me " sir," and accepted eleemosynary brandy and 
water with civil thanks : and when, at length, I was 
taken to a rehearsal of some " Comic Scenes," and found 
out how it was all done, my dim belief in the mystic 
nature of Pantomimists vanished altogether, and the 
recollection of what they had once been to me was the 
only agreeable association that I retained in connection 
with their professional existence. 

But although familiarity with the inner life of a pan- 
tomime may breed a certain contempt for the organized 
orgies of the " Comic Scenes," it cannot have the effect 
of rendering one indifferent to the curious people to 
whose combined exertion the institution owes its existence. 
They are, in many ways, a remarkable class of men and 
women, utterly distinct from the outside public in ap- 
pearance, ways of thought, and habits of life. A fourth- 
or fifth-rate actor's conversation is perhaps more purely 
" shoppy " than that of any other professional man ; his 
manner is more artificial, his dialogue more inflated, his 
metaphors more professional, and his appearance more 
eccentric. At the same time he is not necessarily more 
immoral or more improvident than his neighbours : and 
in acts of genuine, unaffected charity, he often sets an 
example that a bishop might imitate. There are good 
and bad people in every condition of life ; and, if you 
are in a position to strike an average, you will probably 
find that the theatrical profession has its due share of 
both classes. Now for our Thumbnail Sketches. 

The two poor old gentlemen who appear on the next 
page are " supers " of the legitimate school. They are 



46 THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 

not of the class of " butterfly-supers," who take to the 
business at pantomime time, as a species of remunerative 
relaxation ; they are at it, and they have been at it all 
the year round since their early boyhood. Their race is 
dying out now, for the degenerate taste of modern 
audiences insists on epicine crowds, and armies with back- 
hair and ear-rings. There was a goodly show of fine* 




old regulation "supers" at Astley's while " Mazeppa " 
was being played some time ago; and I confess that 
the sight of the curious old banner-bearers in that extra- 
ordinary drama had more interest for me than the 
developed charms of the "beauteous Menken." The 
deportment of a legitimate "super," under circumstances 
of thrilling excitement, is a rich, and, I am sorry to add, 
a rare study. Nothing moves him : his bosom' is insen- 
sate alike to the dying throes of a miscreant and the 
agonized appeal of oppressed virtue ; and he accepts the 
rather startling circumstance of a gentleman being bound 
for life to a maddened steed, as an ordinary incident of 



GETTING UP A PANTOMIME. 47 

every-day occurrence which, in point of fact, it is to 
him. He is a man of few very few words, and he 
gives unhesitating adherence to the most desperately 
perilous schemes with a simple " We will !" taking 
upon himself to answer for his companions, probably 
in consequence of a long familiarity with their acquiescent 
disposition. He is, in his way, an artist ; he knows that 
an actor, however insignificant, should be close-shaved, 
and he has a poor opinion of any leading professional 
who sports an impertinent moustache. Mr. Macready 
was for years the god of 'his idolatry ; and now that he 
is gone, Mr. Phelps reigns in his stead. 




These two young ladies are to embody the hero and 
heroine of the piece. The taller one is Prince Poppet ; 
the shorter, Princess Prettitoes. The Prince will be 
redundant in back-hair, and exuberant in figure (for a 
prince) ; but he will realize many important advantages 
on his transformation to Harlequin, and a modification 
in the matters of figure and back-hair may count among 
the most important. " Prince Poppet " is a bright 



48 THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 

intelligent girl, and is always sure of a decent income. 
She sings a little, and dances a great deal, and can give 
a pun with proper point. Her manner is perhaps just a 
trifle slangy, and her costume just a trifle showy, but 
her character is irreproachable. She is a good-humoured, 
hard-working, half educated, lively girl, who gives trouble 
to no one. She is always " perfect " in her words and 
" business," and being fond of her profession, she is not 
above " acting at rehearsal," a peculiarity which makes 
her an immense favourite with authors and stage-mana- 
gers. The young lady, " Princess Prettitoes," who is 
talking to her, is simply a showy fool, intensely self- 
satisfied, extremely impertinent, and utterly incompetent. 
However, as a set-off to these drawbacks, she must be an 
admirable domestic economist, for she contrives to drive 
her brougham, and live en princease, in a showy little 
cottage ornee, on three pounds a week. These young 
ladies are the curse of the stage. Their presence on it 
does not much matter, so long as they confine their thea- 
trical talents to pantomime princesses ; but they don't 
always stop there. They have a way of ingratiating 
themselves with managers and influential authors, and so 
it happens that they are not unfrequently to be found in 
prominent " business " at leading theatres. They are 
the people who bring the actress's profession into con- 
tempt ; who are quoted by virtuous but unwary outsiders 
as fair specimens of the ladies who people the stage. If 
these virtuous, but unwary outsiders, knew the bitter 
feeling of contempt with which these flaunting butterflies 
are regarded by the quiet, respectable girls who are forced 






GETTING UP A PANTOMIME. 



49 



into association with them, they would learn how little 
these people had in common with the average run of 
London actresses. 

These two poor dismal, shivering women are " extra 
ladies " girls who are tagged on to the stock ballet of 







the theatre during the run of a " heavy " piece. It is 
their duty while on the stage to keep themselves as much 
out of sight as they conveniently can, and generally ta 
attract as little notice as possible until the " transforma- 
tion," when they will hang from the " flies " in wires, or 
rise from the " mazarin " through the stage, or be pushed 
on from the wings, in such a flood of lime-light that 
their physical deficiencies will pass unheeded in the 
general blaze. I believe it has never been satisfactorily 
determined how these poor girls earn their living during 
the nine months of non-pantomime. Some of them, of 



50 THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 

course, get engagements in the ballets of country theatres, 
but the large majority of them appear to have no con- 
nection with the stage except at pantomime time. An 
immense crowd of these poor women spring up about a 
month or six weeks before Christmas, and besiege the 
managers of pantomime theatres with engagements that 
will, at best, provide them with ten or twelve shillings a 
week for two or three months ; and out of this slender 
pay they have to find a variety of expensive stage neces- 
saries. Many of them do needlework in the day-time, 
and during the " waits " at night ; but they can follow no 
other regular occupation, for their days are often required 
for morning performances. They are, as a body, a heavy, 
dull, civil, dirty set of girls, with plenty of good feeling 
for each other, and an overwhelming respect for the ballet- 
master. 

The smart, confident, but discontented-looking man on 
next page, with the air of a successful music-hall singer, 
is no less a personage than the Clown. His position is not 
altogether an enviable one, as pantomimes go, now-a-days. 
It is true that he has the " comic scenes " under his entire 
control ; but comic scenes are no longer the important 
element in the evening's entertainment that they once 
were ; and he is snubbed by the manager, ignored by the 
author, and inconsiderately pooh-poohed by the stage- 
manager. His scenes are pushed into a corner, and he 
and they are regarded as annoying and unremunerative 
impertinences, to be cut off altogether as soon as the 
"business" wanes. He undergoes the nightly annoy- 
ance of seeing the stalls rise and go out long before he 






GETTING UP A PANTOMIME. 



51 



has got through his first scene. The attraction of a 
pantomime ends with the "transformation," and the 
scenes that follow are merely apologies for those that go 
before. The modern Clown is a dull and uninventive 
person : his attempts at innovation and improvement are 
limited to the introduction of dancing dogs, or a musical 




solo on an unlikely instrument. As far as the business 
proper of a Clown is concerned, he treads feebly in the 
footsteps of his predecessors ; and he fondly believes that 
the old, old tricks, and the old, old catchwords, have a 
perennial vitality of their own that can never fail. He 
is a dancer, a violinist, a stilt- walker, a posturist, a happy 
family exhibitor anything but the rough-and-tumble 
Clown he ought to be. There are one or two exceptions 



52 THUMBNAIL STUDIED. 

to this rule Mr. Boleno is one but, as a rule, Clown is / 
but a talking Harlequin. 

This eccentric person on the chair is the Harlequin 
and ballet-master. He is superintending the developing 
powers of his ballet, addressing them individually, as they 
go wrong, with a curious combination of flowers of speech, 




collecting terms of endearment and expressions of abuse 
into an oratorical bouquet, which is quite unique in its 
kind. He has the short, stubby moustache which seems 
to be almost peculiar to harlequins, and his cheeks have 
the hollo wness of unhealthy exertion. He wears a prac- 
tising dress, in order that he may be in a position to 
illustrate his instructions with greater precision, and also 
because he has been rehearsing the "trips," leaps, and 



GETTING UP A PANTOMIME. 53 

tricks which he has to execute in the comic scenes. His 
life is not an easy one, for all the carpenters in the esta- 
blishment are united in a conspiracy to let him break his 
neck in his leaps if he does not fee them liberally. He 
earns his living during the off-season by arranging ballets, 
teaching stage dancing, and, perhaps, by taking a music- 
hall engagement. 

We now introduce the Manager, who probably 
looks upon the pantomime he is about to produce as 




the only source of important profit that the year will 
bring him. Its duty is to recoup him for the losses 
attendant upon two or three trashy sensation plays, a 
feeble comedy, and a heavy Shakspearian revival ; and if 
he only spends money enough upon its production, and 
particularly upon advertising it, he will probably find it 



54 THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 

will do all this, and leave him with a comfortable balance 
in hand on its withdrawal. He is a stern critic in his 
way, and his criticisms are based upon a strictly practical 
foundation the question whether or not an actor or 
actress draws. He has a belief that champagne is the 
only wine that a gentleman may drink, and he drinks it 
all day long. He smokes very excellent cigars, wears 
heavy jewellery, drives a phaeton and pair, and is ex- 
tremely popular with all the ladies on his establishment. 
He generally " goes through the court" once a year, and 
the approach of this event is generally shadowed forth by 
an increased indulgence on his part in more than usually 
expensive brands of his favourite wine. He has no diffi- 
culty ^in getting credit ; and he is surrounded by a troop 
of affable swells whom he generally addresses as dear old 
boys. 




GETTING UP A PANTOMIME. 55 

The preceding sketch represents the "property man" 
an ingenious person whose duty it is to imitate every- 
thing in nature with a roll of canvas, a bundle of osiers, 
and half a dozen paint-pots. It is a peculiarity of most 
property men that they themselves look more like ingeni- 
ous " properties" than actual human beings ; they are a 
silent, contemplative, pasty race, with so artificial an air 
about them that you would be hardly surprised to find 
that they admitted of being readily decapitated or bisected 
without suffering any material injury. A property man 
whose soul is in his business looks upon everything he 
comes across from his professional point of view ; his 
only idea is how it can best be imitated. He is an 
artist in his way; and if he has any genuine imitative 
talent about him he has plenty of opportunities of making 
it known. 

Now comes the Author. I have kept him until the last, 
as he is by far the most unimportant of all his collabora- 
teurs. He writes simply to order, and his dialogue is 
framed upon the principle of telling as much as possible 
in the very fewest words. He is ready to bring in a 
" front scene " wherever it may be wanted, and to find 
an excuse at the last moment for the introduction of any 
novelty in the shape of an " effect " which any ingenious 
person may think fit to submit to the notice of the 
manager. From a literary point of view his work is 
hardly worth criticism, but he ought, nevertheless, to 
possess many important qualifications if it is to be pro- 
perly done. It is not at all necessary that he should be 
familiar with the guiding rules of prosody or rhyme ; nor 



56 



THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 



is it required of him that he shall be a punster, or even 
a neat hand at a parody ; but he must be quick at 
weaving a tale that shall involve a great many " breeches 
parts." He must be intimately acquainted with the 
details of stage mechanism, and of the general resources 
of the theatre for which he is writing. He must know 




all the catchy songs of the day, and he must exercise a 
judicious discrimination in selecting them. He must set 
aside anything in the shape of parental pride in his 
work, and he must be prepared to see it cut up and 
hacked about by the stage-manager without caring to 
expostulate. He must " write up " this part and cut 
down that part at a moment's notice ; and if one song 
won't do, he must be able to extemporize another at the 



SITTING AT A PLAY. 57 

prompter's table ; in short, he must be prepared to give 
himself up, body and soul, for the time being, to manager, 
orchestra leader, ballet-master, stage-manager, scenic 
artist, machinist, costumier, and property-master to do 
everything that he is told to do by all or any of these 
functionaries, and, finally, to be prepared to find his 
story characterized in the leading journals as of the 
usual incomprehensible description, and his dialogue as 
even inferior to the ordinary run of such productions. 



SITTING AT A PLAY. 

AMONG the multifarious duties which fall to the lot of 
the Thumbnail Sketcher (who may be said to have sold 
himself for life to a printer's devil) that of visiting thea- 
tres on first nights for the purpose of supplying disin- 
terested notices of new pieces for a ceitain critical journal, 
is, perhaps, the least remunerative. He does not confine 
the practice of speaking his mind, such as it is, to the 
readers of these Thumbnail Studies : he is always in 
the habit of indulging in that luxury whenever he is 
called upon to express a printed opinion on matters of 
public interest. But the consequences of recording an 
unbiassed opinion on any theatrical question are of a 
peculiarly unpleasant description, if that unbiassed opi- 
nion happens to be of an unfavourable nature, for they 
subject the audacious critic to the undisguised sneers of 
ponderous tragedians, dismal comic men, and self-satisfied 



o8 THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 

managers in addition to the necessity of paying for his 
stall whenever he has occasion to visit a theatre for 
critical purposes. The siieers amuse him, but he is free to 
confess that he is annoyed at having to pay for his ad- 
mission ; and the consequence is that whenever he takes 
his place in a theatre he does go under a sense of injury 
which might possibly have the effect of unintentionally 
warping his critical faculties, such as they are, were it 
not that to speak the bare truth of a theatrical perform- 
ance, is to avenge one's six shillings to the uttermost 
farthing. But although the Thumbnail Sketcher feels 
that he meets a manager on even terms, he can with 
difficulty compose himself to regard an audience with 
feelings of anything like equanimity. Their behaviour 
during the progress of the representation of a new piece, 
on its first night, irritates him beyond endurance. In 
the first place, there is almost always a party who hiss, 
without any reference to the merits or demerits of the 
piece. It is a somewhat curious fact that in England 
hisses are seldom heard save on "first nights;" and 
of the fifty or sixty new pieces that have been recently 
produced at West-end London theatres, hardly a dozen 
have altogether escaped hissing on the occasion of 
their first performance. " Caste " was not hissed, neither 
was the " Doge of Venice," nor the Haymarket " Romeo 
and Juliet," nor " A "Wife Well Won ;" but these pieces 
form the principal exceptions to the rule. But it is not 
so much of indiscriminate hissing, as of indiscriminate 
applause, that the Thumbnail Sketcher complains. A 
clap- trap sentiment, a burlesque " break-down," a music- 



SITTING AT A PLAY. 5 f J 

hall parody, a comic man coming down a chimney, an 
indelicate joke, a black eye, a red nose, a pair of trousers 
with a patch behind, a live baby, a real cab, a smash of 
crocker}', a pun in a "comedy," an allusion, however 
clumsy, to any topic of the day, a piece of costermonger's 
slang, or any strongly-marked tailoring eccentricity, is 
quite sure of a rapturous reception whenever it is pre- 
sented to an audience. Then I take objection to people 
who crack nuts to people who eat oranges and pepper- 
mint drops to people who go out between all the 
acts, without reference to the inconvenience they occa- 
sion to their neighbours. I take objection to peo- 
ple who know the plot, and tell it, aloud, to their 
friends to people who don't know the plot but guess 
at the denouement to people who borrow playbills 
and opera- glasses to donkeys who talk of actresses by 
their Christian names and, above all, to those unmiti- 
; gated nuisances who explain all the jokes to friends of 
slow understanding. The Thumbnail Sketcher, being 
i about to treat of people he meets in theatres, thinks it is 
I only fair to admit this prepossession against them, in 
L order that it may be distinctly understood that as he can- 
I not pledge himself to look at them in an unprejudiced 
I light, everything that he may have to say of them may 
I be taken cum grano. 

There was a time when to go to a theatre was, in the 
k Thumbnail Sketcher's mind, the very highest enjoyment 
Ijto which a mortal could legitimately aspire in this world. 
There was nothing in any way comparable to it, and all 
I other forms of amusement resolved themselves into mere 



60 THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 

vexatious vanities when placed in juxtaposition with the 
exquisite embodiment of human happiness. At that 
period he was accustomed to regard the signs of weariness 
exhibited during the last farce, by relations who had him 
in charge, as a piece of affectation of the most transparent 
description, assumed for the purpose of demonstrating 
that their matured tastes could have nothing in common 
with those of a little boy of six or seven years of age, and 
further to overwhelm him with a sense of the martyrdom 
which they were undergoing on his account. But a long 
course of enforced theatre-going has modified his views 
on this point ; and it is some years since he awoke to the 
fact that the last farce is often a trying thing to sit out 
to say nothing of the five-act legitimate comedy, or the 
three-act domestic drama that frequently precedes it. 
He has learned that human happiness is finite, and that 
even farces pall after the fifteenth time of seeing them. 

The Mephistophelian gentleman on next page is a dis- 
appointed dramatist, and an appointed critic to a very 
small, but very thundering local journal published some- 
where in the wilds of South London. He has a very poor 
opinion of the modern drama, and is very severe indeed 
upon every piece that is produced generally, for no better 
reason than that the author is still alive. He has formed 
certain canons of dramatic faith, derived from a careful 
study of his own rejected dramas, and he is in the habit 
of applying them to all new productions, and if they 
stand the test (which they usually do not) they are 
qualified to take their place as a portion of the dramatic 
literature of the country. He has a withering contempt 



npt 



HITTING AT A PLAY. 



for all adapters, and particularly for Mr. Tom Taylor, 
who is, and has been for years, the butt of obscure and 
illiterate critics. He is in the habit of alluding to him- 
self in the third person as " the Press ; " and when you 




hear him say that " the Press don't like this," or " the 
Press won't stand that," and that you have only to wait 
and see v/hat " the Press " have to say about it to-mor- 
row, you are to understand that he is referring simply to 
his own opinion, which, no doubt, from a characteristic 
modesty and a laudable desire to avoid anything like an 
appearance of egotism, he veils under that convenient 
1 generality. 

The lady who follows is intended as a representative of 

j that extensive element in most dress-circles which finds 

i its way into theatres by the means of free admissions. 

It is a carious feature in theatrical management 



C2 



THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 



and a feature which doesn't seem to exist in any 
other form of commercial enterprise that if you can't 
get people to pay for admission, you must admit them 
for nothing. Nobody ever heard of a butcher scattering 
steaks broadcast among the multitude because his cus- 
tomers fall off, neither is there any instance on record of 




a banker volunteering to oblige penniless strangers with 
an agreeable balance. Railway companies do not send 
free passes for general distribution to eel-pie shops, nor 
does a baker place his friends on his free-list. But it is 
a standing rule at most theatres that their managers 
must get people to pay to come in, if possible, but at all 
events they must get people to come in. A poorly-filled 
house acts not only as a discouragement to the actors, 



SITTING AT A PLAT. 63 

but it depresses the audience, and sends them away with 
evil accounts of the unpopularity of the entertainment. 
The people who find their way into a theatre under the 
" admit two to dress-circle " system, hail, usually, from 

he suburbs, but not unfrequently from the lodging-letting 
districts about Eussell Square. They usually walk to the 

.heatres, and, consequently, represent an important source 
of income to the stout shabby ladies who preside over the 

>onnet and cloak departments. They may often be recog- 
nized by the persistency with which, they devour acidu- 

ated drops during the performance. 
This heavy gentleman with the tawny beard is one of 

,hat numerous class of profitable playgoers who do not 




venture to exercise any critical faculties of their own, but 
about endorsing popular opinions because they are 



64 THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 

popular, without any reference to their abstract title to 
popularity. A gentleman of this class will yawn through 
" King John," and come away delighted : he will sleep 
through " Mazeppa," and come away enraptured. No- 
thing pleases him more than a burlesque " break-down," 
except, perhaps, the " Hunchback," and if there is one 
thing that he prefers to the " Iron Chest " it is a ballet. 
He is delighted in a sleepy general way with everything 
that is applauded. Applause is his test of excellence, 
and if a piece doesn't go well, it is " awful bosh ! " He 
is enraptured with the Parisian stage (although his 
knowledge of the language is fractional), because in 
Paris all pieces go well ; and the sight of a compact mass 
of enthusiasts in the centre of a Parisian pit is sufficient 
to justify him in any amount of solemn eulogy. His 
presence is much courted by managers, for if he never 
applauds, he never hisses, and always pays. 

The highly-respectable old gentleman on the right is an 
unwavering patron of the old school of dramatic litera- 
ture. A five-act piece, even by a modern author, will 
always attract him, and every Shakespearian revival is 
sure of his countenance and support. He reads his 
Shakespeare as he reads his Bible with a solemn rever- 
ential belief in its infallibility. He won't hear of " new 
readings," and even looks upon any departure from the 
traditional "business" as a dangerous innovation, smack- 
ing of dramatic heresy and literary schism. The 
" Honeymoon " commands him so do th'e works of tl 
elder and younger Morton ; so does " She Stoops to Coi 
quer." Sheridan is always sure of him, and Lord Lytt 



SITTING AT A PLAY. 



65 



may generally reckon on his support. His taste in dra- 
matic matters is irreproachable, as far as it goes, but 
it is based upon tradition, and he pays little attention 




|o pieces that are not old enough to have become 
iditional. 

The young gentleman on the next page is one of those 
itolerable nuisances, who, having a reputation for wag- 
?ry within a select circle of admirers, find, in the pro- 
uction of every piece in which pathetic interest is an 
)rtant feature, an opportunity for displaying a know- 
of the hoilowness of the whole thing, and the 
leral absurdity of allowing oneself to be led away by 
stage clap-trap. He will remind you, as Juliet is 



G6 THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 

weeping over her dead Romeo, that a petition for a 
divorce, filed by the Romeo against the Juliet, and in 
which the comfortable Friar is included as co-respondent, 
is high up in the Judge Ordinary's list. He will some- 
times affect to be bathed in tears, when there is no excuse 
for any demonstration of the kind, and he will interrupt 
a scene of deep pathos with a "Ha ! ha !" audible all 




over the house. He is -very angry at anything in 
shape of a vigorous denunciation, or a pathetic appes 
any kind ; and he indulges in a musing exclamational 
commentary of " Oh ! I say, you know ! " " Come, 
come." " So ho ! gently there ! " " St-st-st," and 
" Really, I say by Jove ! " which meets with much 






SITTING AT A PLAY. 



07 



admiration from his believing friends, and general indig- 
nation from others in his immediate neighbourhood who 
have not the advantage of his acquaintance. 




FROM THE FRONT BOW OF THE PIT. 



i) 2 



68 



THE THUMBNAIL SKETCHES, IN A CAB. 

IT has often occurred to the Thumbnail Sketcher to in- 
quire how it happens that a man first comes to drive a 
cab ; but as he has consulted no one but himself on the 
matter, he has not yet met with a satisfactory reply. He 
presumes that a lad is seldom educated with a view to his 
being a cab-driver certainly a neophyte has no ap- 
prenticeship to serve yet the calling demands the 
exercise of considerable practical talent if it is to be con- 
scientiously followed. A wholly inexperienced man 
cannot jump on the box of a Hansom and drive an irrit- 
able fare at a reasonable pace down Cheapside at three 
o'clock in the afternoon. Before he can do this with any 
degree of safety he must have enjoyed a considerable 
practical experience of his art. A cab- driver, moreover, 
must possess some scientific acquaintance with the inner 
structure of his horse, in order that he may know the 
exact number of kicks in the stomach that that noble 
animal can endure without suffering a lasting injury. He 
must know the precise number of miles that his horse can 
travel before it sinks exhausted, and he must know to a 
grain the smallest amount of sustenance upon which the 
animal can accomplish them. He must be a,' tolerably 
expert physiognomist, and he must be able to tell at a 
glance whether a fare is to be bullied or wheedled into an 
over-payment. When he attempts to overcharge an 
elderly lady, he must be able to determine at a moment's 



THUMBNAIL STUDIES IN A CAB. 69 

notice the truth or falsehood of the remark, "There is a 
gentleman in the house who will settle with you," with- 
out bringing the question to a practical issue. He must 
be furnished with original readings of the more obscure 
sections of the Cab Act, and he must be prepared to de- 
fend his views before competent tribunals without the 
assistance of counsel. He must learn to comport himself 
with dignity under the trying circumstances of a summons 
for abuse, extortion, and assault ; and he must be always 
prepared with plausible reasons for evading undesirable 
fares. He must be able to determine who will submit to 
extortion and who will resent it ; and he must be inti- 
mately acquainted with the nearest cut to the obscurest 
streets ; and he must be prepared to look with an eye of 
suspicion on all fares who require to be set down at the 
Burlington Arcade, the Albany, Swan and Edgar's, 
Waterloo House, and all other edifices which a person 
may enter from one street and leave by another ; and he 
must know exactly how long he is to wait at such 
addresses before he is justified in coming to the conclusion 
that his fare has bolted by the other exit. Altogether his 
profession demands the exercise of various mental accom- 
plishments, and the Thumbnail Sketcher cannot help 
thinking that a thoroughly expert London cabman 
deserves a -far higher intellectual position than that 
which his envious fellowmen usually award him. These 
considerations, which are the usual and only result of the 
Thumbnail Sketcher's investigations as to the means 
whereby a man becomes a cabman, tend rather to sur- 
round the question with fresh difficulties, and to make 



70 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

the problem more difficult of solution than ever. Under 
these circumstances he has no alternative but to leave the 
question where he found it. 

The Thumbnail Sketcher would like to have an oppor- 
tunity of noticing the demeanour of a cabman during his 
first day on a cab, and of contrasting it with his behaviour 
after six months' experience. The day upon which a 
man first launches into his adopted calling is always a 
trying occasion to himself and an interesting one to his 
friends and acquaintances ; but this must be particularly 
the case with a cabman who has not usually enjoyed that 
preliminary technical familiarization with the details of 
his craft with which most beginners are furnished. The 
barrister who takes his first brief into court has had, or 
is supposed to have had, the benefit of some years' theo- 
retical experience in the art of conducting a simple case ; 
the surgeon who undertakes an operation for the first time 
on his own account has probably undertaken a good many 
on other people's account during his state of pupilage ; a 
young soldier is not placed in a position of responsibility 
until he knows something of his work ; and a curate has 
crammed himself with religious platitudes before he 
attempts his first sermon. So with the followers of hum- 
bler callings, who have usually served a seven years' 
apprenticeship before they are allowed to exercise them 
on their own account. But a cabman is launched into 
the London streets with no better Mentor than his own 
intelligence can afford him, and if this fails him he will 
probably go headlong to destruction. His cab will be 
smashed in no time ; or he will run over little children 



IN A CAB. 



71 



and be tried for manslaughter ; or he will be summoned 
for loitering, or for overcharge, or for furious driving ; 
and, moreover, he will allow himself to be swindled in all 
directions. And all this goes to prove the Thumbnail 
Sketcher's proposition that an expert London cabman 
deserves a higher intellectual position than that with 
which he is usually credited. 

This old gentleman is a specimen of a class who look 
out principally for old ladies with little children. He 




is very careful with old ladies he helps them in and 
out with much devotion; while to little children he is 
fatherly not to say motherly in his attentions. The 
fact that his pace never exceeds four miles an hour is a 
: special recommendation to the class of customers for 
which he caters. He has two or three regular customers, 



72 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

who know where to find him ; and as he is a quiet, civil 
old gentleman enough in his way, he never gets into 
much trouble. He gets drunk perhaps twice a year, but 
as he always does it at home, his professional reputation 
does not suffer. His customers belong to a class which 
most cabman avoid old ladies without any luggage ; and 
he customarily declines, as far as he is able, the very 
fares which younger and more enterprising cabmen are 
too glad to get. The busy City gentleman who is in a 
harry to catch a train, the lawyer dashing down to "West- 
minster, the " swell ' ' keeping a dinner appointment at 
his club, these are not for him. Neither is he to be 
found in the streets after the theatres are closed. He 
neglects the opportunities that bring the best harvest to 
the cabmen's garner, but he has a snug little practice of 
his own, that brings him in a decent living in the course 
of the year. 

The preservation of a cheerful exterior under other 
people's misfortunes is the special attribute and distin- 
guishing characteristic of the light-comedy cabman. 
His mission in life is probably to cheer the desponding, 
to enliven the depressed, to reassure the hopeless, and 
generally to persuade mankind to look at misfortune 
from a humorous point of view. The breaking down of 
a brougham, full of ladies, in Seven Dials, affords him 
an opportunity of showing how exceedingly " amusing 
such an accident always is, if the people principally 
interested can only be brought to look at it in the right 
light. If the accident is at night, and if the ladies are 
in evening dress, the fun of the thing is materially 



IN A CAB. 



73 



increased, and if it happens to be raining, his sense of 
humour is gratified to the full. A gentleman who has 
had his hat blown off, or a lady whose dress has been 
ruined by a mud-splash, enables him to indulge his 




cheerful disposition to make the best of things ; and his 
behaviour at a house on fire vindicates his power of 
rising superior to (other people's) misfortune in a sur- 
prising degree. He is a master of the art of traditional 
chaff, but he is not great at original remarks. His power 
of rising superior to misfortune breaks down only when 
it is applied to his own case. 

The Thumbnail Sketcher's experience among cabmen 
goes to show, that if they are not universally civil and 
respectful in demeanour, and moderate in their demands 



74 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

(and they certainly are not), the old conventional foul- 
mouthed blackguard is far less frequently met with than 
he was ten or twelve years ago. People are more ready 
to take out summonses than they were ten years since, 
and perhaps complainants meet with more consideration 
in police-courts than they did formerly. The filthy, 
foul-mouthed, howling vagabonds who used to be the 




terror of old ladies, seem almost to have died out : per- 
haps they have retired into private life on" their ill- 
gotten savings. You meet with them now and then, 
waiting outside suburban houses where evening parties 
are ; but they generally prowl at night, and respectable 
ladies are seldom exposed to their mercies. Cabmen 



IN A CAB. 



75 



this class always make their horses suffer for any short- 
comings on the part of their fares ; indeed, it may be 
taken as a general rule that if a cabman drives furiously 
away after having been discharged, he does not 
consider that he has been liberally dealt with by his 
customer. 

The smartest class of cabman is the man who has 
passed his previous existence as a helper in a livery- 
stable, and who, being of a nomadic turn of mind, pre- 
fers the free-and-easy condition of a Hansom cabman to 
the more dependent, though perhaps more remunerative 
condition of a domestic groom. He drives a smart cab, and 




his horse is always up to the mark. He is particular with 
his brass-work, and, in short, he is a good specimen of 
what a cabman should be, but seldom is. He does some- 



76 THUMBNAIL STUDIES 

thing with races, and contrives, perhaps, to make a little 
money, which he eventually invests in a small " livery 
concern." 

The next is the civil-spoken man, who " leaves it to 
you, sir." He has an airy way with him, and an agree- 
able method of implying that he doesn't drive you so 
much for remuneration as for the sake of establishing 




friendly social relations with you. He is almost hurt 
when you ask him how much he claims ; and -he turns 
the matter over in his mind, as if it had never occurred 
to him to look at it from a pecuniary point of view before. 
He ends by giving up the solution of the difficulty as a 
bad job, and throws himself upon your consideration 



IN A CAB. 



77 



" leaves it to you, sir." This is an appeal to your libe- 
rality which you are not always able to withstand, and 
on the whole his confidence is not ill rewarded. 

The character in the cape is an unfortunate man, who 
doesn't get on in his profession, and is an apt illustration 
of the evils which a want of some preliminary experience 
in cab-driving is likely to bring upon an unintelligent 




practitioner. He is always in trouble. He never knows 
the way anywhere. The police are always down upon 
him. He suffers from rheumatism. His fares are con- 
vinced that " this is a man who should be made an 
example of." The magistrates quite agree with the 
fares. He parades his abusive language under the ears 



73 THUMBNAIL STUDIES. 

oi the policeman on duty, and heal ways selects deter- 
mined men of independent fortune and a taste for petty 
law as the intended victims of his powers of extortion. 
His license is constantly suspended, and he has hecome 
proverbial among his fellows as a man who never has got 
on, and never, by any chance, will. 



79 



SCENES IN COURT 



CHAPTER I. 

I HAVE always had an affection for "Westminster Hall. 
My earliest recollections are bound up with it, and I 
cannot bring my memory to tell me of a time when it 
was not to me an object of reverence and love. 

I think of it as an old friend, and love it so much that 
I glory in the knowledge that it is almost certain to sur- 
vive me. The carved angels who adorn the supports to 
the roof are all my intimates. They have been my 
participes curarum " even from boyish days." They 
knew when I was in trouble with my " construe," 
entangled in Greek roots, or posed in Euclid. They 
smiled on me when my spirit failed me because of bullies. 
They were my confidants when I, aged 13, was so 
deeply enamoured of the pretty daughter, aged 25, of the 
porter of our school. I used to discuss to them, with a 
confidence unbounded, the propriety of declaring my 
affection, and the probabilities of my lady's acceptance 
of me. They never told me the plain rude things I 
have been told and have myself told since. My weekly 
shilling, with its threepence mortgage for eaten tarts, 
was not pointed at as insufficient for the maintenance of 



80 SCENES IN COURT. 

us both. They knew and why therefore tell them ? 
that Bessie had nothing to bring, save a good appe- 
tite, towards our mutual support. I told them I should 
work all day for her : I should write books, invent 
engines, paint pictures, make great discoveries in che- 
mistry, and fifty other things which were quite easy to 
be done. There would be no doubt about a living. 
They never sneered nor said unkind things, but always 
smiled and beamed with kindness as I poured forth to 
them the whole secrets of my heart. This begat a close 
friendship which has not waned by increasing. I still 
hold them as fast friends. "When I became old enough 
to understand what they said, they told me long stories 
of the things they had seen in their time. They in- 
terested me with accounts of trials at which they had 
been witnesses, and filled me with admiration by their 
descriptions of my historical favourites. 

They bore testimony to the correctness of Vandyke's 
portrait of the unfortunate Earl of Strafford, and brought 
the favour of the man so vividly to my mind, that I 
fancied I could see the clear-cut face and dark complexion 
of him, and hear his ringing, bell-like voice appealing to 
the peers for mercy on his fault, on account of the inno- 
cent " pledges which a saint, now in heaven, had left 
him." 

They seemed not to have known of the earl's execu- 
tion ; for they said the trial broke down, and they con- 
cluded the prisoner was acquitted. When I told them 
of the Bill of Attainder, and of the king's consent to 
his friend's death, they wept whole heaps of dust and 



SCENES IN COURT. 81 

cobweb, and gave solemn ratification to Strafford's 
endorsement of the Psalmist's warning about putting 
one's trust in princes. 

This did not prevent them from speaking sorrowfully 
about the trial of the king, and of his octogenarian 
archbishop. 

They had seen the man who is portrayed in undying 
colours, in the noble picture now in Middle Temple Hall, 
enter the place as a prisoner ; and they had listened 
throughout the trial with mingled awe and indignation, 
almost laughing outright, however, when they heard 
Lady Fairfax say aloud, in answer to the call for her 
husband, that he knew better than to be present, since 
his wife was. They heard the whole thing, including 
the sentence ; and somehow or other they were already 
acquainted with the fact of the execution. 

Then they had stories to tell of the Seven Bishops, 
and Warren Hastings; they had overheard Burke's bon 
mot about " the (vo)luminous pages of Gibbon." They 
had seen and heard much more than I can remember or 
write down ; and they pleased me immensely by the 
ready confidence they gave me. "We passed many happy 
hours together, and then came an interval of separation, 
during which I listened to the stories of other roof- 
supporting cherubim, and gathered scraps of information 
from many an ancient place. Time, however, brought 
me back again to my old friends, if it did not to my first 
love. The latter made an excellent wife to the baker 
who was patronized by the school ; but the former 
remained as before, unchanged unless, perhaps, a trifle 



82 SCENES IN COURT. 

dirtier. They had often inquired of me what went on 
inside those doors which faced one half of them on the 
floor beneath ; and when I came back again after the 
separation before named, it became my business to in- 
struct myself so that I might answer their questions. 

On the right of the Great Hall, as you enter it, is a 
flight of stone steps, on the top of which a vestibule 
guarded by a she Cerberus, who has acquired a prescriptive 
right to war upon the digestion of her Majesty's lieges, 
by means of strangely-compounded edibles which she 
sells to them leads to the two courts where the judges 
of the Queen's Bench dispense justice. More of both of 
these presently. Running between the two, or rather at 
the back of one and by the side of the other, is a darksome 
passage, dimly lighted, conducting, as a stranger might 
legitimately think, to the dungeons and torture chambers 
whither are consigned the delinquents condemned by the 
Court to purge their offences, but leading, in fact, to 
chambers destined to far other uses. The genial light of 
day is excluded from this passage, and the insufficient 
lamps which are supposed to illumine it, serve but to cast 
a grim shade upon the assembled clerks and clients who 
haunt the hard seats along its sides as though they found 
in them a nature akin to their own. Out of it a side 
door opens into the great Court of Queen's Bench ; and 
through the door come and go counsellors and senators, 
gowns, silk and stuff the elite of the law, with the rank 
and file thereof. There is not any inscription over the 
door, as there is over the door in another place, bidding 
those who enter leave hope behind them ; yet there is 






SCENES IN COURT. 83 

something in the ordinary, unprofessional creature's breast 
which makes him read in the faces of those he finds in 
this grim abode, a certain indication that hope has small 
place there. But the passage, whither does it lead ? To 
subterranean regions certainly perhaps to the very cellar 
in which Guido Fawkes laid the train which was to have 
carried King James and his Parliament, express, to heaven 
or to hell. But a visit to the first chamber at the end of 
the stone staircase, on which wigged and robed men 
ascend and descend, as unlike as possible to the angels 
whom the Patriarch Jacob saw from his stony pillow, 

reveals no more formidable a person than Mr. , the 

robing-master, and no more suspicious-looking a being 
than the ancient man who is his servitor. The room, 
however, in which they live, and move, and get their 
fees, is more open to cavil than are its tenants. I incline 
to the opinion that it is Guy's original cellar ; and so 
firmly, that I decline to listen to any statement which 
shall try to convince me to the contrary, by showing that 
it is many yards away from where the old Parliament 
House stood. Small, gloomy, with no daylight, really 
underground, and damp and misty as cellars are wont 
the eyes require time to get accustomed to the gloom 
which the garish gaslights create but are powerless to 
lispeL Eows of hooks round a stout framework on one 
nde of the room suggest the neighbourhood of Sachen- 
^eges, racks, bilboes, and other " hateful and grim things " 
:o which they must be appurtenant ; the framework itself, 
with many mysterious joints and holes in it, looks in the 
semi-darkness not unlike some foul instrument of torture ; 



84 SCENES IN COURT. 






and at first it is difficult to divest one's self of the notion 
that he has got into a veritable chamber of horrors, of 

which the prepossessing-looking Mr. is perhaps the 

attendant surgeon, and of which his curiously-featured 
assistant is the sworn tormentor. Instinctively one looks 
about for the barrels of gunpowder, the coals which con-- 
ceal them, and a figure like that the boys drag about on 
the 5th of November ; and I am far from being convinced 
they are not actually there, though I have not been 
able to discover them. That small mirror in the wall, 
surely it must be used for ascertaining whether breath is 
left in a tortured victim ; the wavy character of its sur- 
face precludes the idea of its being employed as a means 
to personal adornment, and the former use would be in 
keeping with the character of the room. Those ominous- 
looking boxes of wood and tin, in shape not unlike the 
human head, and labelled with names what is their 
office ? Is this the hangman's morgue, and is he allowed- 
to keep the heads of decapitated felons to scare the 
living from crime, or to allow of phrenologists studying 
their science on the original busts ? Or is this a sort of 
parliamentary terror akin to that which Domitian con- 
trived for the Roman senators when he showed them into 
a dimly-lighted funereal chamber, wherein they found 
their coffins, "ready for immediate use," as the adver- 
tisements have it and inscribed with their own names ? 
Are wordy and hated members brought into this hall of 
English Vehmgericht and frightened into agreements to 
vote differently, and to shorten their speeches, by the 
sight of their own head cases, labelled with their name 






SCENES IN COURT 85 

and of Greenacreish sort of bags yawning to receive their 
skulless trunks ? I scrutinize the names on the cases, 
sniffing the while for I am not without a presentiment 
that the Calcraft museum theory is the right one, and 
I look curiously for the names of certain hon. members 
who would be sure to be represented if the second sup- 
position were correct. My eyes do not deceive me when 
[ actually read the names of some of these. I saw them 
alive and well but a few days since ; have all their 
glories shrunk to this little space, so soon ? " Alas, poor 
!" I exclaim, and turn away from the cases, con- 
vinced that the British public cannot be aware of the 
ecrets of these secret places, and resolved that I will lose 
10 'time in making it acquainted with the discoveries I 
lave made. Even judges under Charles I. refused to 
ay that Felton might lawfully be tortured ; and shall my 
Jord "Westbury be suffered to tweak the noses of his 
'pponents with red-hot pincers, like another Dunstan, 
nd to consign their " proud tops " to these infernal pre- 
ed meat canisters ? No. The smart young men 

nnectedwith an " Independent Press" shall hear of it ; 
the decree of the second Lateran Council of Pompeii 
assuredly be quoted against it. 

I find I have been wrong. Though the question as to 
ae powder and coal and Guy Fawkes remains an open 
ne, there is, I fear, no ground for the anxiety which I 
ad intended to exhibit through the medium of the press. 

'urther inquiries have satisfied me that Mr. is not 

le chirurgeon I had imagined him ; though it required 
ie exhibition on his part of his power as a " leech," to 



86 SCENES IN COURT. 

' 

bleed me to the extent of 1 5s. before I could be con- 
vinced. His assistant a silent and sad man evidently 
affected by long acquaintance with the place is no sworn 
tormentor. Mr. is " master of the robes," com- 
mitted to his care ; and the silent man helps him to put 
them on the backs of counsellors who patronize him. 
The tin canisters, in shape not unlike the human head, i 
are wig-boxes, labelled with the names of those who own ' 
them ; the butcher-like hooks, of which mention was 
made, support the gowns which are fellows with the i 
wigs ; and the Greenacreish bags are the vehicles in 
which the gowns travel when going from one court to 
another. The mirror is really meant to help in adorning 
the person, and the framework alluded to is intended to 
hold tbe property of those who frequent the room. In 
point of fact, this is no other than a robing-room. The 
plain deal table is not used for dissecting purposes, but as 
a place for hats. This knowledge came only with the 
lapse of time. The first occasion on which I entered the 
room, I almost held my breath till I had got out of it 
again, and felt, as I ascended the stone steps to the Court 
above, something of the feeling which Dante had, when 
he left the last circle of the Inferno, and came where he 
could see the stars again. 

On this same first occasion I distinctly remember how 
shame and confusion were made to cover my face in this 
passage, of which I spoke just now, though the " gloom- 
ing," or " gloaming," which prevailed within it hid the 
fact from the sight of all beholders. I had noticed two 
men whispering together, looking towards me the while, 



SCENES IN COURT. 87 

as if they were speaking of me, and a cold shudder ran 
through me as the thought flashed across my mind that 

they might be there in the interests of Messrs. C 

and D , whose forbearance, in respect of sundry 

" small claims," had been taxed somewhat fully ; and the 
horrible idea occurred to me, that these men had been 
sent to beard me in the very precincts of the Court, in 
the hope of driving me to that which was next to im- 
possible a settlement. I was questioning to myself how 
far the privilege of counsel attending the Courts of 
Justice would cover me, and was doubting anxiously 
whether that privilege was enjoyed only by those who 
actually had business to transact, or whether it extended 
over the whole class generally. I was doubting how far 
i it would be wise to allow of this plea, which savoured of 
adding insult to injury, being debated, and then roused 
myself at the thought, what an occasion this would 'be 
for showing the world the astonishing powers of speech 
i and reasoning which I took it for granted reposed within 
i me, and almost hoped myself right in the surmise which 
i conscience, rather than judgment, had thrown out as to 
, the character of the men, when one of them advanced 
towards me, holding a brief in his hand, and inquired in 
a tone which relieved me greatly, notwithstanding my 
>recent wishes for a contest, whether I were not Mr. Jones. 
I readily acknowledged that ancient name to be mine, 
land then bubbled up in my mind the thought that my 
good genius had been playing me a good turn, and had 
(sent this man to give me my first Court brief. How 
kind of D , my attorney friend, who had promised 



88 SCENES IN COURT. 

me so often, while yet I was but a student, how greav 
things he would do for me. There could be no doubt 1 

had done D much wrong when I had mistrusted thi- 

lavish promises he showered upon me. Yes ; my name 
was Jones ! 

" Consultation at nine to-morrow morning, sir, in the 

robing-rooin. Mr. D will feel much obliged if you 

will attend particularly to this case, as Mr. (the 

leader and Q.C.) will be very much engaged, and may 
not read his brief." 

Mr. D ! I did not know him. Had never heard 

his name before. My friend's London agent, no doubt. 

" Very well/' I answered, looking at the brief, where- 
on were inscribed those cabalistic signs which so much 
gladden the hearts of all counsel, whether leader or junior, 
and which informed all whom it might concern that Mr. 
Jones was concerned for the plaintiff, in an action against 
the Great Western Railway, and that Mr. Jones was to 
have ten guineas for his advocacy therein. 

Holding the brief in my hand as though it were a 
marshal's baton, I entered the Court of Queen's Bench 
with the idea of making an impression upon my brethren 
who should see me enter there, though for the first time, 
with a brief in my hand. Upon L - and B 
especially I desired to let fall the full weight of my im- 
portance, because they had so many times hinted at the 
absurdity of my ever expecting to hold a brief, unless, as 
they were pleased to add, it might be one in my own 
behalf as defendant in an action upon sundry accounts 
delivered. I walked in and sideway'd to a place in the 



SCENES IN COURT. 89 

middle of the second row, where I saw L sitting 

behind his morning paper, his wig pushed hack and dis- 
closing a quantity of his brown curly hair, his gown just 
clinging to his shoulders, and a look of nothing particular 
to do showing itself upon his face. 

" Hullo ! Jones, got a brief ! Your own, old chap ? 
Deuced glad of it ; special jury of course. Want report- 
ing ? " for D is reporter-in-chief of cases tried be- 

:bre her Majesty's judges at Westminster and Guildhall, 
:o the " Law Reformer's Gazette." 

" Good firm, that ! " said L , looking at the name 

)f my clients. " How did you get taken in tow ? I 
;hought your namesake on the Southern Circuit did their 
unior work. Want new blood, I suppose ; but like to 
ceep the old name." 

A cold shudder passed through me as L uttered 

.hese words, for they conveyed to my mind the idea of 
;here having possibly been a mistake. I strove to cast it 
iff, but could not ; the suspicion was enough to unsteady 
tny eyesight as I endeavoured to run cursorily through 
j;he brief. The interesting nature of the action, and the 
,nany points for argument which it opened up, gradually 
absorbed me so much, that I did not notice the entrance 
:>f the attorney's clerk who had given me the brief, and 
rho was now signalling to me by many signs and 
gestures. 

" There's another brief for you. Jones,' said L , 

udging me so as to draw my attention to the man, who, 
,ble to reach me, evidently desired to have speech with 
and who seemed to be in a very excited state of 
d. 



90 SCENES IN COURT. 

Sidling out as I had come in, earning the curses which 
all win who tread on tender feet, I arrived at the spot 
where the man stood, and then the horrid truth which 

L 's words had caused me to suspect, dawned in its 

fulness upon my mind, and desolation swept across me. 

The man had made a mistake. He had confounded 
my name confound him ! with that of my learned 
friend of the same name on the Southern Circuit, the 

very man of whom L had spoken. Not knowing 

the gentleman he was told to instruct, he had asked a 
colleague if each fresh comer from the robing hall bore 
the style, in which I rejoice, and unluckily for me it 
happened that I came up before my namesake, and the 
colleague who made it his business to acquaint himself 
with the name and abode of each member of the bar, old 
or young, had told the wretch that my name was Jones. 

Acting upon this meagre information, Messrs. D 's 

clerk put the brief into my hands and now, the real Simon 
Pure having been discovered, it behoved me to surrender 
my supposed gain all the apologies of my misleader, 
humble though they were even to abjectness, not serving 
to compensate me for the loss of ten guineas, the dignity 
of the thing, and the prospect which had been before me 
of seeing my name in the newspapers in connection with 
one of the most important cases that was tried that ternv 
After such an event I could not go back to the Queen's 
Bench, but turned a sadder and a poorer man into the 
adjoining Court of Exchequer. 

An old judge I might say a very old judge was sit- 
ting on the bench, looking like the impersonation of law, 



SCENES IN COURT. 91 

arid of all that was dignified and venerable in man. He 
was one who had been easily chief as a student at college, 
and no less easily chief as a junior counsel at the bar. 
His name was associated with many a famous case, of 
which the memory even of the bills of costs had perished ; 
he had survived the clients of his early days, and, while 
yet a young man, had " gone lightly o'er low steps " in 
the road to advancement ; now his name was considered 
to be a synonym for justice, and those who sometimes 
questioned the manner in which he laid down the law, 
did not venture to question his law itself; and they 
readily pardoned the privileges which old age assumed, 
for sake of the time when these were not needed ; and 
because of the comprehensive grasp of the old man's 
mind, which enabled him to apprehend a thing in its 
entirety, without Ibestowing upon it his whole attention. 

A special jury case was on, and the jurymen's names 
were being called over by the associate of the court. The 
name of a most intimate friend, from whom I had parted 
only that morning, was called out from the box, and 
though surprised, for he had not told me of his having 
been summoned, I quite expected to see him step forward 
and answer. Imagine my dismay when a shabbily- 
dressed man who had been standing near the " well" of 
the Court, made the melancholy announcement that my 
friend had been dead three months. A momentary 

regret passed through my midriff as I thought of R 's 

amiable wife and three young children ; but it was mo- 
mentary only, for I knew quite well that R was 

alive this very morning, and had left me not two hours 



92 SCENES IN COURT. 

ago for his office in Jute Street. There was some mis 

take, but in the interests of R , who I knew hatet 

jury summonses, I did not think it incumbent on me tc 
right it. Several names were called to which no answer 
were given, and there seemed to be but a poor chance o 
making up the jury. Nine were in the box three more 
were wanted, and of two of those who remained to b< 
called over, the shabbily-dressed man announced the 
same doleful tidings that he had announced about 
friend. Who was this that took such an interest in 
special jurors that he knew to a nicety the dates of theii 
decease, and came there to volunteer the informatioi 
which he had himself acquired ? For he spoke evident!} 
as amicits curies he was not an official person, ye 
because perhaps that his statements were made volun- 
tarily, no one questioned the correctness of his speech 
The judge made some remarks about the carelessness o 
the sheriffs in keeping dead men's names upon the panel 
the counsel for the plaintiff prayed a " tales," and th( 
jury was completed by common jurors. The case went 
on, but the shabby man interested me. He was evident!} 
a frequenter of the Courts, and appeared to be known fa 
the ushers and people in attendance ; and I thought he 
was perhaps some retired attorney or barrister who made 
it his hobby to get up the histories of jurors, and was 
believed therefore, as a matter of course. It was ncft 

until afterwards I learned from E , to whom I an- 

nounced his own death, that he paid this man so much a 
year to kill him when inconvenient summonses came, on 
which occasions he sent them to the shabbily- dressed 






SCENES IN COURT. 93 

man, who instantly committed such homicide as would 
be sufficient to excuse the victim from attendance at 
Westminster. 

The case was one for a special jury a compensation 
case for damages done through negligence of a servant 
and a great fight for the verdict was expected. The 
counsel engaged for the defence were an eminent Queen's 
Counsel and a junior cetatis sues 45 who was reckoned 
one of the best of stuff gownsmen. Their battery was a 
strong one, and they wore upon their faces an expression 
of quiet satisfaction which betokened the comfortable 
assurance they felt of being able to silence whatever 
artillery might be brought against them. 

" Who are for the plaintiffs ? " I inquired of the man 
next me. 

" Serjeant and P , a new junior, I believe.'* 

" P of the Home Circuit ?" 

"Yes." 

" He'll have hard work against little S ," I re- 
narked, " unless the serjeant helps him more than he is 
vont to do. Is the serjeant here ?" 

"I have not seen him," answered my friend, "and 
ome one said just now he would not come." 

" Poor fellow !" I exclaimed, for I knew P to be 

he very quintessence of nervousness. " Surely he is 
*iven over into the hands of the Philistines :" and so 

ndeed it seemed. P 's leader was not in Court, 

could not learn anything about him, and it seemed 

;o be pretty certain that if the case went on, P would 

lave to conduct it himself. 



94 SCENES IN COURT. 

p oor p J there he sat, looking unusually pale, and 

suffering evidently from the suppressed excitement which 
was born of the strange position in which he found him- 
self. He sat there in his place behind the leader's bench, 
with books and papers before him, in formidable array : 
his brief, which he bound and loosed from its tape bonds 
at least ten times in as many minutes, was in his left 
hand, and the fingers of his right hand unconsciously 
played the devil's tattoo with a quill pen on the red 
baize desk : his eyes looked wistfully at the side door, at 
he watched for the coming of him who came not. Little 

S , his opponent, whispered words of soothing into 

his leader's ear. The pair smiled benignly on each other, 
and looked across at my poor nervous friend, who waf 
unknown to them as well as to fame, with a glance 
which pity mingled with some professional scorn. 

The jury were sworn, and had settled themselves to 
their duty with that expression of resigned unwillingness 
on their faces which jurymen of all sorts are wont fr> 
wear. The counsel for the defence untied their briefs 
and opened them out leisurely on the slope. The Coutf 
was all attention, reposing its chin on its hands ; there 
remained nothing to be done but to open the case for the 
plaintiff. 

I looked across at P , no longer watching the sid.<; 

door, but gazing curiously at the judge, who stared down 
at him. The nervous, restless look was intensified to the 
utmost, but to my surprise and relief there was no ap- 
pearance of confusion. I knew P to have a strong 

will and a stronger sense of duty, and rejoiced as I saw, 



SCENES IN COURT. 95 

or fancied I saw, these two coming to his assistance 
against his own nervous system and the two skilled ver- 
dict-getters who now threatened him. 

A dead silence for about a minute was broken by the 
judge uttering with some significance, as he still looked 

hard at P , the monosyllables, " Well, sir ! " 

P rose and said in a voice tremulous as that of 

him who hears his own notes alone, for the first time in 

a public place 

" I hope your lordship will forgive me for keeping the 
Court waiting. My leader is absent in the other Court, 
nd will be here directly. I have sent for him." 

" Oh, sir," said the judge grinning a grim grin as he 
aid it " your leader intends to give you an opportunity 
I distinguishing yourself. You'd better begin." 
The jury laughed, the "learned friends" on the other 
ide laughed, and all the "learned men" in Court 
tiuckled at the facetious judge, who was unable to resist 
le temptation of saying a smart thing even to a man so 

vidently nervous as poor P . I trembled for P , 

ut he was no way dismayed. On the contrary, the 
e's joke stood him in excellent stead; it lent him 
bat slight touch of indignation, gave him that sufficient 
rounding of his amour propre which enabled him to send 
lis adversaries to the right about, and not only so, but to 
lis own and his friend's surprise, to take part in the 
.musement of which he himself was the occasion. 
" Your lordship is aware that there are two ways of 

listinguishing one's self," said P , anxious now to 

time, and glad to use the means the Court had un- 



96 SCENES IN COURT. 

expectedly provided for him. " And I cannot but feel 
that 1 shall he as distinguished as poor Denmark heside 
the allies, if I am to be deprived of the assistance of my 
learned leader." 

" My brother will no doubt be here," said the leader 
on the other side, "meantime you can go on." And 
then followed some "chaff," as mild as that which had 
gone before, about the absent " brother" being the learned 

counsel's big brother (Serjeant was a very little one), 

aod the probable consequences to him of pushing on the 
case in the absence of the same, a disclaimer on the part 
of the "other side" against being taken for the repre- 
sentatives of those " distinguished foreigners," the allies 
against Denmark, cum multis aim, which wasted a good 

ten minutes, allowing Serjeant time to come up, and 

would have lasted ten minutes more had not Mr. Baron 

somewhat testily remarked that Mr. P could 

at all events open the pleadings, which Mr. P said 

" of course, he could do," and proceeded to do, with a 
boldness which was the inspiration of the moment. 

It is the duty of the junior counsel to begin under any 
circumstances, so that there was as yet nothing falling 

to the share of P which would not have fallen had 

Serjeant been there. P told " my lord and the 

jury" how that John Styles was the plaintiff and John 
Giles was the defendant, and that the plaintiff sued the 
defendant " for that ;" and then he read the interesting 
document known as the declaration, from which it 
appeared that John Giles was an exceedingly bad m 
who hired servants known by him to be incompetent, an 






SCENES IN COURT. 97 

also to be very skilful in breaking other folk's legs ; that 
he was habitually negligent as to the way in which ho 
conducted his business ; and so far as the matter now 
before the Court was concerned, had " so negligently, 
carelessly, and improperly conducted himself in that 
behalf," that by his appro vedly unskilful servant he had 
" broken, wounded, crushed, bruised, and maimed " the 
leg of John Styles, who being a carman, earning a pound 
a-week, valued his injured limb at 1,000. 

A thousand pounds seemed a moderate sum to ask for 
injuries which required so many adjectives to describe 
them ; but John Giles said on the pleadings, that he was 
not guilty," and privately that Mr. Styles might go to 
a warmer climate for the money he sought to recover. 

" Upon this plea," said P , " issue has been joined, 

and that is the case for trial before you." 

As a matter of fact, I believe the plaintiff was a carter, 
who had gone with his master's cart to take some marble 
slabs from defendant's yard. The defendant was fifty 
miles away at the time, but his foreman and helpers 
went to load the cart, and the plaintiff, though he did 
not fetch the slabs out of the yard, nevertheless helped 
to make them fast in the van, which he was bound to 
protect. While they were making one of the slabs fast, 
the foreman jumped out of the van and shook it, a slab 
fell over and broke the carter's leg. The action was 
.against the master for the negligence of his servant. 

The point was a fine one, for if Styles could be made 
out to have been acting as defendant's servant, or as a 
voluntary helper, he must be nonsuited. Only if he 



<)S SCENES IN COURT. 

could be shown to have been independent of defendant's 
orders, and to have been engaged upon the slabs in the 
capacity of his own master's servant, had he a cause of 
action. It was sailing rather close to the wind, as his 
leader himself told him in consultation ; and indeed, but 

for P 's showing him the principal case on which he 

had relied, and which the learned serjeant, who had not 
read his brief, had not, therefore, had occasion to look 
up, that gentleman had declared there was no case. 

Just as P was finishing his opening statement to 

the jury, a slight commotion was heard at the entrance 
to the Court, and to the manifest joy and delight of 

P , Serjeant came in like a frigate in full sail. 

Nodding good-humouredly to all around, the serjeant 
seized the brief which his clerk held before him, and 

without slipping the tape off, rose, as P sat down, 

and proceeded to address the jury as though he had long 
been master of the case, and had not as in truth he 
had been put in possession of the facts only two hours 
before in consultation. 

You would have thought, to hear the serjeant, that 
he had been engaged in loading slabs in vans all his life 
long ; that until this particular moment he had never 
done aught else, and had now come into Court for the 
- sole purpose of telling the jury how his work was done. 
Then he laboured to show that the defendant had admitted 
the plaintiff's case ; said he should call witnesses to prove 
it, as well as to depose to the serious nature of the in- 
juries done to the plaintiff, as set forth in such harrowing 
terms in the declaration. This done, he sat down, and 



SCENES IN COURT. 99 

P proceeded to call the first witness for the plaintiff 

the plaintiff himself. 

A slight pause, after which the usher cried with a 
loud voice pitched as though he had a personal quarrel 
with the witness for John Styles to appear. A move- 
ment at the end of the Court, and then a man as impo- 
tent-looking as he who could not crawl into the Pool of 
Bethesda, was brought forward by two supporters and 
lifted into the witness-box. A chair was provided for 
him, and, bound and becrutched, he showed like a victim 
to all the woes contained in Pandora's box. 

P elicited the details of the case, vainly trying to 

make the witness declare himself other than he was evi- 
dently desirous of representing himself to be, viz., a 
willing helper to the men engaged in loading the van ; for 

P felt the danger of the man proving himself a 

volunteer, in the sense of an unremunerated and free 
helper. "The other side" smiled as the examination 
went on, and positively glowed with pleasure when his 

lordship interrupted P by remarking that, as far as 

he had heard, he could not understand what case there 
was. 

Up sprang the Serjeant, snatching the book which 

P had shown him only a few hours before, from 

P 's hand, and with the air of a man who is suffering 

intolerably from some sudden wrong, entreated his lord* 
ship to refrain from any expression of opinion until the 
case had been fully gone into, adding, however, with 
special reference to the remark about there being " no 
case," 'that he held in his hand a judgment on which he 

K2 



100 SCENES IN COURT. 

very much relied, and to which he must beg his lordship's 
attention. 

" My learned friend knows something of the case, I 
believe," said the Serjeant, as he handed the book to the 
usher, and nodded good-humouredly at Mr. Q. C., who 
had shown cause in this very case, and who now mut- 
tered something about the two cases being distin- 
guishable. 

The judge took the book from the hand of the asso- 
ciate, who had received it from his lordship's clerk, who 
had received it from the usher, who had received it from 
the Serjeant ; and after scanning the outside of it/and 
looking at the fly-leaf to see the owner's name, proceeded 
to read the judgment to which his attention had been 
drawn. Whilst his lordship read there was much sig- 
nalling and undertone talk between the members of the 
bar and the attendants in Court. The words " non- 
suit" " point reserved" " new trial," came from the 
"other side," accompanied by much shaking of heads, 
which meant great things, doubtless, to the initiated in 
such signs, for they shook their heads in return, and both 
sides seemed perfectly satisfied. 

" Do you think, sir, the judge is with us ?" said a man 
sitting behind me, and who I gathered from the use of 
the pronoun " us," was interested in the case. 

" I don't know," I answered ; " he seems to be in a 
good humour." 

"Has humour anything to do with his being for or 
against us, sir ? " inquired the man. " I should not have 
thought so." 



SCENES IN COURT. 101 

"Perhaps not," I replied; "but judges are only men, 
and all men are subject to bouts of indigestion." The man 
seemed to be lost in wonder on finding that even judges 
were not impassible ; and was even more astonished at 
the familiarity which existed between the opposed " coun- 
sel " than Mr. Pickwick was when his leader shook hands 
with the counsel for Mrs. Bardell. The judge finished 
his earnest perusal of the volume, and laying the book 
down on its face, said, " This is a very important case ; it 
is nearly your case," looking towards P . 



" It is our case, my lord," rejoined P- 



'' "Well," observed the judge, " I do not see how the 
matter can rest here with a verdict. It must go into the 
full Court, and possibly to the Court above. Is it not a 
case for a settlement ? " 

P beamed with satisfaction. He had raked out 

the case' in question, and mainly on [the strength of 
it he had advised the action being brought. He had 
withstood his own leader with it in consultation, and now 
it came in the face of the judge's expressed opinion. 
" The other side " looked a little disconcerted, but was 
glad " his lordship had thrown out this expression of 
opinion." Then came a laying of heads together by the 
counsel engaged, assisted by the attorneys on either side, 
who leaned over the back of the " well " in which they 
were confined, and deferred to the wisdom of those whom 
they had entrusted with the case. His lordship read the 
newspaper, the jury stood up and stretched their legs in 
the jury-box, and Mr. C. D., the eminent (in that he was 
six feet high) junior counsel, who drew portraits many, 



102 SCENES IN COURT. 

though pleadings few, sketched the scene before him, as 
a whole and in parts, upsetting the gravity which resides 
under the wig, arid moving every one to laughter by the 
absurdity and justness of his caricature likenesses. 

The conference was of no avail. Counsel could not 

agree. The case must go on ; so P finished his 

examination of the plaintiff, and Mr. Q. C. rose to cross- 
examine. 

Little was elicited by this means, beyond the fact that 
the plaintiff had undoubtedly helped, but whether as a 
volunteer, or as his own master's servant, was the some- 
what fine question which was left for the jury. And now 
a man, whose personal appearance had already attracted 
considerable attention, was called. He had been sitting 
by the side of the solicitor in charge of the case, and was 
evidently much interested in the issue of the trial. He 
had been present at an interview between plaintiff and 
defendant, and was to bear witness to what had passed. 
He was a fine-looking man, apparently a foreigner, with 
an animated expression of countenance, and a costume 
which, the place and occasion considered, was truly won- 
derful. Whether it was the way in which he found 
expression for the respect which his nature felt for the 
tribunals of the kingdom, or whether it was the custom 
in his country so to appear before the courts, did not 
come out : but this gentleman was attired in full evening 
dress, with an elaborately worked shirt, diamond studs, 
and a coat which Mr. Poole's eye might have pronounced 
faultless. No distinction had been made between him 
and the other witnesses in the cause, as I cannot help 






SCENES IN COURT. . 103 

thinking there should have been. It was scarcely right 
in the usher to allow so magnificently clad a man to 
herd with the " seedy " crew who filled as of right that 
abyss in the halls of justice known as " the well ;" un- 
less, and perhaps he was correct after all, the usher 
thought of him as Lafeu thought of Parolles, in " All's 
Well that Ends Well," that " the scarfs and bannerets 
about him did manifoldly dissuade him from believing 
him a vessel of too great burden." Anyhow, there he 
sat in the " well " till his name was called out by the 
usher, in as indignant a voice as that in which the first 
witness had been desired to stand forth. Then he started 
to his feet as if the ground under them had suddenly 
grown red hot, and made his way over blue bags, papers, 
and the legs of attorneys' clerks, to the witness-box. 

Serjeant introduced him to the judge, as Count 

Dieudon, a Frenchman, while the associate explained, as 
much by signs as by words, that the gentleman must re- 
move the white kid glove from his right hand, in order 
to hold the sacred book on which he was to swear to tell 
the whole truth and nothing but that. There being 
some difficulty in explaining this, his lordship thought 
the delay was caused by the witness objecting to take 
the oath, and thinking further, perhaps, that Count 
Dieudon, who was as good a Christian as is to be found 
throughout all Leicester Square, might possibly, from his 
general appearance, be of the Hebrew faith, rather testily 
told the associate to ask the witness if he were a Jew. 
The bare suggestion caused a current of eloquence to flow 
from the Frenchman, so strong and continuous, that it 



104 SCENES IN COURT. 

bid fair to supersede, in the attention of the Court, the 
caso which was actually before it. His lordship at length 
succeeded in conveying to the speaker an assurance of his 
want of intention to insult him ; M. Dieudon succeeded 
in getting the white kid glove off his right hand ; and 
the associate succeeded in swearing him in the words of 
the oath. 

" Did I understand you to say that the gentleman was 
.a count ? " inquired the judge. 

" He is so, my lord," answered P . 

" Of the Roman Empire or the French ? " asked his 
lordship, with a smile. 

" One of the indebitatus counts, I believe, my lord," 
said Mr. Q. C., at which remark his lordship smiled 
again, and Count Dieudon, who did not understand the 
allusion, and thought they were but settling the exact 
-degree of his rank, smiled also. 

Count Dieudon had evidently made the English lan- 
guage his study, and was, moreover, evidently well satis- 
fied with the progress he had made in it. He had also 
.given to the world three large volumes on the Science of 
Agriculture, which he had with him in the witness-box, 
in case, I suppose, any question should arise upon that 
subject in the course of the trial of a complaint for broken 
limbs. As this was far from likely, it seemed rather un- 
necessary for him thus to burden himself; but these three 
volumes were on the ledge before him, and served, at all 
events, to show the judge how he should spell the witness's 
and author's name, which was given to him by the learned 
serjeant as Dewdong, and by the more learned (in French 



SCENES IN COURT. 105 

at least) friend on " the other side," as Doodoue. The 
name and address of M. Dieudon having been written on 
the judge's notes, and a further note having been made 
as the only means of stopping iteration of the fact, that 
M. Dieudon was author of the great work in question,. 

Serjeant got the range, and began to fire into the 

witness's stock of information. 

M. Dieudon gesticulated a good deal, poured forth 
volumes of Franco-English in copious answer to the 
questions put to him, and gave to many English words a 
pronunciation which reminded one of French spoken by 
Dan Chaucer's prioress, who spoke French " full fayre- 
and fetisly after the schole of Statford-atte-Bow." So- 
with M. Dieudon and his English. He spoke " full fayre 
and fetisly," but not after the school of Westminster 
Hall. He might with propriety have gone home and told 
his countrymen what the Irishman told his friends of the 
French, that they were a very stupid people, who did not 
even understand their own language ; for it was undoubt- 
edly true that practice and use were both essential to a 
right understanding of what M. Dieudon had to say. 

Serjeant came to that part of his examination where 

it behoved the witness to relate what had passed between 
plaintiff and defendant during the interview at which he 
had been present : and as M. Dieudon was both tenacious 
of being thought able to speak the counsel's own tongue, 
and also very voluble in his talk, the serjeant deemed it 
advisable to beg the witness to relate the conversation, in- 
stead of getting at it by means of questions. M. Dieudon 
readily complied, and with the air of a Jullien and the 



106 SCENES IN COURT. 

voice of a Berryer, he told his simple tale ; but when he 
came to the key of the whole conversation the import- 
ant part, where it was supposed the defendant had pro- 
mised, as alleged in a second count, to pay the plaintiff a 
sum of money he failed altogether to convey an accurate 
notion of what had taken place. 

" Miszer Steel he come to defendant, an say, ' Your 
man break my leg, and make me evil (me fit mal). You 
recompense me. I live in hospital four, five month. Get 
not work ; lose my living. What you give me ?' De- 
fendant, he say nussing. Miszer Steel he press for 
answer, but defendant shake his head. He stay a long 
time to make answer, and zen he say nussing." 

This evidence, which, more than all the arguments , 
based upon ethnological grounds, convinced me of the 
affinity between French and Irish Celts, served also to 
upset the gravity of the Court, which fairly laughed out, 
and with every wish to do no uncivil thing, could not re- 
frain from seizing this particular opportunity for mirth. 
The count was not further interrogated, and with, I fear, 
but hurt feelings, departed from the box with the great 
work in three volumes, which was evidently the pride and 
joy of his soul. 

Michael Sullivan, the man who had done the mischief, 
and upon whom his master had already thrown the blame 
of the entire action, was next called, and, impressed by 
the duty which lay upon him to observe reticence upon 
the subject to be investigated, was more evasive in his 
answers even than his countrymen are wont to be. 

" Did you see the accident ?" 



SCENES IN COURT. 107 

" I did not, sir." 

" Were you present at the time it occurred ?" 

" I was, sir." 

" Did you see a slab fall over in the van ?" 

" I did, sir." 

" Did it fall on plaintiff's leg?" 

" I can't say." 

"Do you believe it did?" 

" I think it did, sir." 

" Then you saw the accident?" 

" I did not, sir." 

" But you saw the slab fall, and think it went on to 
plaintiff's leg?" 

" I did, sir." 

" Then you think you may say you saw the accident, 
may you not?" 

" I do not, sir." 

And after much further bandying of words, it was 
found out that the witness had seen everything except 
the actual snapping of the bone in the leg. He had seen 
the slab fall, he had seen the leg after it had been 
crushed, he was certain the slab fell upon the leg, and 
yet, for the reason above given, he declined to assert what 
nevertheless the jury believed, that he had witnessed the 
accident. 

" Now, sir ! " said Serjeant , twitching his gown, 

and pushing his wig the least bit back on his head, and 
looking a little fiercely at Michael, "did you not jump out 
of the van before the slabs were secured within it ? " 

" I did, sir." 



108 SCENES IN COURT. 

" Did that shake the van?" 

" It did, sir." 

" Did not the slab fall over immediately afterwards ? " 

" It did, sir." 

" Did not the slab fall over because you shook the 
van ?" 

" I can't say, sir." 

" What was there besides to make the slab fall 
over ?" 

" I can't say, sir." 

" Did not you say, referring to the accident, that is a 
bad piece of work I have done ; I was a fool to jump out 
like that?" 

" I was not a fool!" retorted the witness, sharply; 
" and I'll thank ye not to say so again." 

" Answer my question, sir," replied the Serjeant. " Did 
you say so or not ?" 

" They're vary impertinent qhuestions ye'll be askin'," 
said Michael. 

" Will you be kind enough to answer them?" said 
the serjeant. 

" I don't rhemember." 

" Try and recollect, now. You must know if you said 
s o or not." 

" I don't rhemember." 

" Will you swear you did not say so ? " 

" I will not." 

" Did you say so?" 

" I don't rhemember." 

" Will you swear that ?" 



SCENES IN COURT. 109 

" I will ; I'll swear I don't rhemember, and I'll swear 
if I do rhemember, I forget." 

" Very well," said the Serjeant, joining in the laugh, 
which was general at this utter discomfiture of his hopes. 
*' Now, try to remember very distinctly this : Had you 
not been drinking that morning before the accident 
occurred?" 

" Ah, no!" said Michael, with the earnestness of a 
man tented on some point of special pride to himself. 

" Are you sure of tb-at ?" 

" Quite ? " sa>' Michael. 

" Would you lorget, if you did remember this, too ? " 
inquired the scrjeant. 

" I can't tell," said Michael. 

" Now, do you mean to tell me you had not been 
drinking on this particular morning ?" 

" I had some tay," answered Michael. 

" No, no ! " retorted the Serjeant ; " I do not mean 
' tay.' Had you not been into a public-house that 
day?" 

" I had not." 

" Not to have a friendly glass with any one ? You 
know there is nothing to blame you for if you had done 
so." 

" I had not," was the answer. 

" Then you were not drunk on that morning, you will 
swear ?" asked the Serjeant. 

Michael did not answer directly, but looked somewhat 
archly into the well of the court, as if to seek inspiration 
from his master and the attorney, who were sitting there. 



110 SCENES IN COURT. 

The instructions in the Serjeant's brief were that the man 
had been drinking, and there was other testimony to- 
show that he was " all by the head " before he began 
loading. 

" I don't think I was drunk," answered Michael, after 
an interval. 

" You don't think you were drunk," repeated the ques- 
tioner, somewhat curiously. " What do you mean ? You 
told us just now you had not been drinking " 

" I had a sup the night afore," added Michael, with 
the air of a man who has absolved his conscience. 

" Oh, indeed !" said the Serjeant, brightening up, for 
even he, astute as he was, could not divine how a man 
could get drunk on any given occasion without imbibing 
anything stronger than "tay." "Now, do you think 
you had sufficiently recovered from the effects of the sup 
the night afore to be able to load the van properly on this 
particular morning ?" 

" I think it'd been better if I hadn't taken it," replied 
Michael, now fairly unmasked. 

" Oh ! you were not drunk, but you think it would 
have been better you had not taken this sup the night 
afore. Very well, I have nothing more to ask you.' r 
And the witness stood down. 

Application was now made to the judge that ladies 
might be requested to leave the Court, it being_proposed 
to call the medical evidence to prove the nature of some 
injuries which were included in the " otherwise seriously 
damaged and hurt" of the declaration. The request was 
at once acceded to, and the Court, by the usher, its 






SCENES IN COURT. Ill 

mouthpiece, proclaimed aloud that all ladies were to leave 
the Court. A flutter ensued among the petticoats, and 
many went their way, with an expression of mingled sur- 
prise and indignation upon the faces of the wearers of 
them, as though they resented the notion of raising and 
then disappointing their curiosity. I say many went their 
way, but not all ; some there were who put a bold their 
expelled sisters called it a brazen face upon the matter, 
and stuck to their seats like women whose desire for 
knowledge is greater than their sense of shame. His 
lordship looked round upon these law-loving dames, and 
remarked, in a significant tone, that he had directed all 
ladies to quit the Court. It was at this particular 
moment that the usher became immortal, not knowing, 
however, the greatness of the fame. which he was laying 
up for himself. Whether he really did not see the 
bonnets, whose unshamefaced owners kept them obsti- 
nately in the halls of justice, or whether it was in the 
profundity of his scorn that he spake it, this deponent 
ehoweth not, but in answer to the remark thrown out by 
the learned judge, came from the usher the pride-killing 
words, " All the ladies have left the Court, my lord." 

A smile, and then a titter, which waxed speedily till it 
became a laugh, was observable on the faces of judge, 
jurors, and counsel. Even a blush flitted across the 
countenances of the unshamefaced ones, and the usher 
stood a satirist confessed in the middle of the Court. His 
lordship adopted the meaning which all hearers attached 
to the words of the censor, himself as much astonished at 
his speech as the most amused one there, and, looking 



112 SCENES IN COURT. 

towards Serjeant , said that he might now proceed, 

since the modest women had left the Court. 

The trial proceeded, the terrible nature of the injuries- 
received by the plaintiff was explained to the jury, and 
medical testimony was heard in support of the case. 

Now his lordship had a way of notifying counsel of 
his having written down upon his notes the answers of 
the witnesses, which many of those addressed disliked r 
almost to resistance point. He did not raise his head 
and nod, as judges are wont, but kept his face still fixed 
in the direction of his paper, uttering in a sort of under- 
growl, as a sign for counsel to proceed, the monosyllables- 
"Go on ;" It was not so much the use of these two- 
good words that vexed the hearts of the learned, it was 
the manner of the user. Many had been the complaints- 
made in robing-room and in hall, of the bearish (so they 
termed it) method which his lordship adopted, and among; 
the complainants was none so bitter as Mr. Q. C., who 
was for the defence in this action. He had fretted and 
fumed visibly during the whole of the time he was cross- 
examining, and all who knew him were well aware that 
ere long an explosion must take place. 

His lordship had taken down the evidence which Mr. 
Q. C. elicted from the witness, and, being no respecter of 
persons, had notified the fact in his usual way to the 
great man before him. Mr. Q. C. could not endure it 
longer ; he made no fresh attempt to question the witness,, 
but stood stock still as in respectful attention, waiting 
lordship's leisure to continue, 

" Go on ! ; ' repeated his lordship, but silence stil 



SCENES IN COURT. 113- 

reigned ; Mr. Q. C.'s head became a little more erect,, 
his eyes dilated a trifle more, and the starch in the large 
neckerchief which enwound his throat seemed " to bear 
him stiffly up," as Hamlet desired his sinews might 
tear him. 

" I said, ' Go on ! ' " observed his lordship, somewhat 
testily, raising his eyes rather than his head, to look at 
the counsel. 

The moment had arrived for the expected explosion ; 
his lordship himself had fired the train. As men who- 
watch some curious and new experiment, the bar stood 
agaze, while Mr. Q. C., with an expression of deep 
astonishment and concern, stirred himself from his- 
pointer- like attitude of attention, and exclaimed with 
loud and seemingly contrite voice : " I hcg your lord- 
ship's pardon, I thought you were speaking to the- 
usher." 

Respect for the Bench kept down open mirth, and 
Mr. Q. C., with the tact of a general who knows how to- 
follow up a victory, without crushing the enemy it is his- 
interest to keep in the field, proceeded with his exami- 
nation as if nothing unusual had happened. His lordship 
endured in silence, and bided his time for an answer. 

P , to my surprise and delight, did gloriously, not 

being disconcerted even when the judge, not knowing his 
name, and wishing to call him by it, desired the inter- 
mediates before mentioned as sitting between judge and 
counsel, to acquire this information for him. The stage 
whisper in which the inquiries were made one of the 
other, telling all whom it might concern that P was- 



114 SCENES IN COURT. 

unknown to the frequenters of this Court, did not cover 
him with confusion ; I fancied I detected even a sort of 
satisfied look upon his face as, in answer to the last 
inquirer, he showed his name on his brief, whereon was 
marked a sum equal to that which potentially had beea 
mine in the case of the Great Western Railway. 

When Mr. Q. C. rose to cross-examine, some question 
as to the admissibility of the evidence he thought to 
elicit occurred to that learned gentleman's mind. He 
wished to remove it ; and also, perhaps, by taking his 
lordship into his confidence, to mollify through an appeal 
to his amour-propre, the evil prejudice which the late 
rasping had occasioned. It was, therefore, in a peculiarly 
insinuating way that he announced his intention of ad- 
ducing the questionable evidence, and in a still more 
insinuating way, that he asked his lordship whether he 
thought it would be admissible. 

Now it was strangely forgetful, in a man so astute as 
Mr. Q. C. undoubtedly was, so to act. He might have 
put forward the evidence and waited for his appeal to 
the judge until such time as the opposing counsel objected 
formally ; or he might have announced his intention to 
put it forward, and proceeded to execution without 
inviting, as he did, the interference of a man he had 
offended. As it was, he gave himself over into the 
hands of Samson, and suffered accordingly. 

His lordship failed to notice Mr. Q. C.'s first in- 
quiry, maintaining the firm demeanour he had worn 
since the learned gentleman's tongue had lashed his 
indignation into a desire to find vent ; but when Mr. Q. C. 



SCENES IN COURT, 11* 

once more asked, as eager to be instructed, whether his 

lordship thought this would be evidence, Baron 

raised his head, looked straight into the lantern above 
him, and said to the lantern, as though he were deliver- 
ing himself of an abstract proposition for the special 
edification of the lantern : " Her Majesty and the 
House of Lords are the only persons entitled to ask me- 
any legal questions/' This, uttered in a monotone, 
without passion, but with entire deliberateness, fell as 
falls a killing frost upon the tender plant. Not that 
Mr. Q. C. resembled a tender plant though, for he was- 
among his brethren as the oak in a forest yet, no less- 
did he feel keenly the chilling blast of his lordship's 
oracular breath. He feigned not to notice what every- 
body else noticed; he stammered out something; he 
looked confused, and at last said he should not press the 
evidence if his lordship did not think it worth while. 

His lordship expressed no opinion whatever, but being 
wearied with the long day's sitting, and being desirous, 
perhaps, not to risk losing the vantage ground he had 
manifestly gained, once more proposed to his brother, 

Serjeant , to consider whether the case was not one 

for a compromise. Serjeant having freely admitted 

that he thought the justice of the case required some such 
solution, his lordship announced that he would adjourn 
the Court to enable counsel to come to some arrangement. 
His lordship had risen to go, and had stamped his way 
over half the length of the platform, when a very junior 
counsel, in a state of terrible trepidation, rose to make a 
motion to the Court. Blue bags and red bags, books and 



116 SCENES IN COURT. 

papers, the owners of these, and the clerks of the owners, 
were bundling out of the Court ; the registrar had already 
stretched himself a weary stretch in token of the ending of 
the day's work; the usher, hence forth immortal, had girded 
up his loins to go when the faint echo of the very junior 
counsel's voice resounded through the Court. His lord- 
ship stood in half attention for a second, looked hard at 
the speaker, and then, resuming his walk towards the 
door curtain, was understood to say " To-morrow ! To- 
morrow !" and so went out. The very junior counsel 
could not get a hearing, and before the solicitor who had 
instructed him had finished the tale of his reproaches, I 
fled forth into Westminster Hall, and told this tale to my 
friends, the cherubim in the roof. 

" Tell it not, save to the printer," said they, as I left 
them to their darkness and the gloom in which they have 
thriven so long. 

" I will not," answered I ; and I have kept my word. 





SCENES IN COURT. 117 



CHAPTER II. 

yet he semed besier than he was," wrote Dan 
Chaucer five centuries ago, when describing the Man of 
Laws in the "Canterbury Tales;" and such was the 

reflection which crossed my mind as I saw P , of 

whom we know somewhat already, rush in great haste 
from his lodgings in the High Street to the court-house 
at Brisk, one fine summer morning, a few circuits back. 
He was armed for the fight a fight more in the fashion 
of Ulysses than of Ajax and bore, besides the brief with 
which he had been trusted, two massy books of authority 
to back up his intended statements. He passed on, and 
I finished my pipe ; for, though the advice of the great 
Q. C. who had instructed me many times in the way 
wherein I should walk, had been that, business or no 
business, it behoved me to show in Court regularly at 
nine o'clock every morning, when the Court sat and 
this advice was, beyond question, wholesome yet had I 
found it to be, like many other wholesome things, very 
unpalatable. I gave the "no business" side of the 
advice a fair trial, and small was the apparent advantage 
derived from it ; the " business " side would have met 
with equal justice, had it thought fit ever to present 
itself. Six circuits were enough for the proof of half the 
advice ; and as, at the tail of the seventh, " business " 
did not surrender to take its trial, I thought it small 
harm to do as I liked in the matter ; hence it was that, 
on this particular morning, I stayed to finish my pipe 



118 SCENES IX COURT. 

instead of rushing eagerly, as P was doing, to the 

dispensary for justice. I took my own time about bring- 
ing into subjection to the brush the hair which stood out 
after my morning's dip in the river " like quills upon the 
fretful porcupine;" I donned my robes and wig at my 

own pace ; and, as I thought of P with his brief, 

and his books, and his haste (on my honour there was no 

hint of envy, though P was but on his second 

circuit), the words of old Chaucer occurred to me as 

apposite, and for I liked P greatly by the time 

my toilette was over, I had got as far as heartily to wish 
that Chaucer's preceding line might be equally applicable, 

" Xo wher so besy a man as he there n'as." 
And then I, too, walked over to the court-house, down 
the narrow street and down the hill. 

A heap of folk were about the doorway attorneys* 
clerks, barristers' clerks, witnesses, and lookers-on. I 
passed through ; and, all the world being my way, it 
made no difference whether I went into the Crown Court 
or the Civil Court, so I turned into the former, and made 
my way to a place. 

The dock was rather thickly tenanted ; and, as I 
entered the court, a miserable-looking lad was standing 
in front of this pen, awaiting the beginning of the prose- 
cution, which charged him with " feloniously and un- 
lawfully stealing," &c. He had, in truth, been guilty of 
neglect rather than crime ; but had, unfortunately, been 
brought before some stern moralists of magistrates, who 
took the uglier view of his case and sent him for trial ; 
he was undefended by counsel, and was called upon 



SCENES IN COURT. 119 

say if he was guilty or not guilty to the charges made 
against him. 

" I!sot guilty !" said the boy in a low voice ; and the 
counsel for the prosecution began. 

In cases where the prisoner is undefended, it is not 
usual for the prosecution to make any speech, properly so 
called. The case is stated to the jury ; the witnesses are 
called and examined from the depositions ; and then the 
whole is summed up and laid before the jury, the prisoner 
being allowed to make his own defence after the case for 
the prosecution is closed. Bat on this occasion the 
counsel for the prosecution was about as new to his work 
as the prisoner was to crime ; and, without intending to 
injure the poor lad against whom he appeared, but in 
pure ignorance of what was right, he commenced an 
oration which was evidently not the inspiration of the 
moment, but a studied speech, which had had more than 
one rehearsal. 

" The magnitude of the crime with which the prisoner 
stands charged is such as to demand the promptest 
attention, and the most summary repression. Our homes, 
our property I might add, our lives are " 

"Really, sir, this course is very unusual," said the 
judge, interrupting the flow of the advocate's words. 

The prosecutor did not see in what way the course was 
unusual, and, in complete innocence, harked back upon 
the initial words of the speech " The magnitude of the 
crime " 

" Really, sir, I must interrupt you," said his lordship ; 
" you would do better to proceed with a simple state- 



120 SCENES IN COURT. 

merit of facts." And, with much show of unwillingness 
for the learned counsel, who was from " the green 
isle," was, like most of his countrymen, a really " good 
fist " at a speech, and disliked missing an opportunity of 
making one the prosecutor continued on his way, stating 
the facts simply and calling the witness. 

The first witness was a labourer, who had seen the 
prisoner with the " feloniously stolen " article in his 
possession (the lad had been told to take a spade to 

A , but had carried it only to his father's house, 

where he had mislaid and forgotten it). 

" Were you on the road leading to A on the 

morning of the 3rd July ?" 

" Yes." 

" Did you meet anyone ?" 

" Yes ; the prisoner." 

" Had he anything with him ?" 

" A spade." 

" Was it this spade ?" (producing one). 

"It was?" 

" Did you know whose spade it was ?" 

" I knew it belonged to Master Turner, up to Wurnley ?" 

" Did you say anything to the prisoner about the 
spade ?" 

" I said, ' You young rascal, you've stolen that 
spade !' " 

" What made you say that ?" 

" I knew he must ha' stolen it." 

" No other reason ?" 

" No." 






SCENES IN COURT. 121 

" Then if you knew he must ha' stolen it, why did you 
not tell a policeman ?" 

" Don't know." 

" Did you not see any policeman ?" 

" Yes." 

" Why did you not tell him ?" 

" Don't know." 

But the counsel pressed the witness on this point, and 
at length succeeded in getting an answer. 

" Why did you not tell him, sir ? Answer the question." 

" Well," said the man, " I certainly did see a police- 
man, hut he was only a b hig fool of an Irishman, 

and I knew it was no use to tell him." 

Poor J looked a little discomfited at this reply ; 

and in answer to his lordship's inquiry, said he had no 
further questions to put to the witness, who was ordered 
to stand down, and the case went on to an acquittal of the 
prisoner. 

Then came the trial of a man for forgery, a conviction, 
and the sentence. The man was an old offender in the 
same direction ; and his lordship thought fit to pass upon 
him " a substantial sentence," as he called it, out of regard 
' to the peculiar hatefulness of the crime, and to the fact 
that the prisoner had been tried before. I mention this 
case not merely because it followed that of which I have 
just written, but because of the peculiarly sad effect which 
the sentence had upon one quite other than the prisoner. 
A nervous movement of the hands and a slight twitch- 
ing of the mouth, alone had betrayed the keen interest 
i the prisoner took in the proceedings which so intimately 



122 W/WES IN COURT. 

concerned him. "When the clerk of arraigns asked the 
jury if they were agreed upon their verdict, a wistful 
look, which seemed to indicate a desire to anticipate the 
sentence, was turned upon them ; and when the clerk 
further asked them if they found the prisoner " guilty " 
or " not guilty," a painful anxiety showed in the forger's 
face, and communicated itself to the bystanders : and 
when the word " Guilty " dropped from the foreman's 
lips, a sense of relief came upon all who heard it. 

His lordship than whom was no judge more ready to 
make allowance for the infirmities of poor human nature 
considered of the sentence he should pronounce, and 
felt it his duty to give, as he said, a substantial one. 
Addressing a few remarks to the better feelings of the 
prisoner, he told him how grieved he was to see him con- 
tinue in his former evil way ; that as he had, however, 
chosen to do so, it behoved the law to protect people from 
his knavery ; and the sentence of the Court was that he 
be kept in penal servitude for four years. 

As soon as the words " penal servitude for four years" 
closed the sentence which the judge pronounced, a shriek 
was uttered in the far-end of the court, which pierced the 
ears of everyone. A woman had fainted ; some poor 
creature to whom even the wretched man in the dock was 
dear, and upon whom the sentence, double-edged, fell 
with the sharper side upon her. The man was removed 
by the " dungeon villains " (two eminently mild and 
kindly-looking men, by the way), and the friends of 
poor soul, whose sobs seemed to strain her very hear 
strings, gathered her up and bore her out. 



SCENES IN COURT. 123 

Now, it may be womanish, but bother me if " a scene 
in court " like this is at all to my liking. I hate to be 
agitated whether I like it or not ; to find the apple in my 
throat swell and get inconvenient, as though it were the 
"prime" apple which caused our first mother to err ; to 
feel warm and glowing about the eyes, and, will I nill I, 
to be obliged to smother my emotion by blowing tunefully 
on my nose. And these things had to be endured on this 
occasion, in spite of the philosophy of a youthful attorney 
who stood by, and said, with a desire to be overheard, 
" that such things must happen, and the police ought to 
see that these women were kept out of court." To be 
sure I knew nothing of the people ; and, for aught I did 
know, they might be the wickedest and least deserving of 
sympathy in the whole world. So far as the trial itself 
went, there was nothing particular to set the feelings in 
play : had the mere facts of the crime been proved as 
stated, the prisoner found guilty, and sentenced in the 
ordinary way, I do not suppose for an instant that any- 
one would have been unusually struck by the sentence. 
But the little something not usual the extraordinary 
addition of a woman's cry of sorrow ; that woman having 
nothing visibly to connect her with the case before the 
Court ; and the sign which that cry gave of links and 
sympathies outraged, of which the Court could take no 
cognizance- these were the springs of an emotion which 
none but the assize-hardened do not feel "the one 
touch of nature which makes the whole world kin." 

Professing the stoic philosophy, I dislike occasions 
which make me show my feelings as a man. The " one 



124 SCENES IN COURT. 

touch of nature" I admire in the abstract, and in Shake- 
speare, from whom the expression is stolen, but do not 
desire to be the subject of it in my own person. Lest 
nature should touch me again, I left the Crown Court, 

and walked over to the Civil side, where Justice 

was trying the special jury cases, and where, amidst the 
lookers-on, I saw my landlord, with eyes in which pity 
mingled with contempt as he looked on me, robed, but 
sans brief. A moment's reflection told me that he would 
charge me no less for the numerous " extras " which were 
certain to appear in my bill, pitiful though his glance 
might now be ; so I placed my eye-glass (not that I am 
shortsighted, you know, reader) firmly into my eye-socket, 
assumed a haughty air, which was intended to hurl back 
the landlord's pity with scorn, and addressed myself to 
attending to the speeches that were being made. 

It was evident from the experience just narrated, that, 
though I might have the bad digestion, I did not possess 
" the hard heart " which is said to be as necessary for 
a good lawyer, as a gold latch-key has been held to be to i 
an officer in the Horse Guards. I may improve, how- 
ever, as time goes on. 

P , of whom mention was made just now, was 

about to open the pleadings in a case [that had been 

called on, when , breathless and anxious, rushed ; 

in from the Crown Court, where he was engaged in a 
case requiring fullest attention, having heard that this 
cause, in which he was, also retained for the defendant, 
had been called. His object was to get the case post- ] 
poned till he could attend tc/it ; and had he been othei 






SCENES IA T COURT. 125 

than he was, or had he not placed temptation right in 
his lordship's way, he might have got what he wanted. 
But he was a great drawer of the longbow ; one who was 
known to all the profession for the entirety in which he 
adopted M. Talleyrand's saying, that speech was given 
to man to conceal his thoughts : he was this ; and, heing 
this, he tempted the Court beyond its power to bear. 

Hurrying up to the counsel's table, he motioned to 

P to refrain from opening, and begged his lordship 

to put off the case, " for," said he, " I am at this moment 
speaking in the Crown Court." 

His lordship's eye twinkled ; the bar noticed the mess 

poor was in ; and O himself was aware of his 

mistake as soon as he had made it. Time was not given 
him to amend, for his lordship repeating the words, " this 
moment speaking in the Crown Court," added with an 
arch smile, which was well understood by all who saw it, 
" No, no, Mr. , I can't believe that." 

knew what fame was his, and the bar knew, 

and the judge knew; and if the public who looked on 
knew not, I take this opportunity of hinting at it, for the 
express purpose of showing them that if their vulgar and 
calumnious riddle about lawyers being such restless 
people, because they first lie on this side and then on 
that, and lie even in their graves a riddle feloniously 
stolen, by the way, from a bon mot of Sir Christopher 
Hatton's, when he was Lord Chancellor be founded on 
fact, the professional brethren of these restless men take 
good care they shall not forget their characteristics. For 
the riddle I ever thought the properest answer was, that 



126 SCENES IN COURT. 

lawyers are restless because they never lie at all ; but 
even if I could make my meaning clear upon this head, 
as an able writer in a magazine some time ago did his, in 
an article called " The Morality of Advocacy," there 
would be no end of people to join issue with me ; so I 
give up the attempt to alter the riddle and its answer, 
deeming the game not worth the candle. 

's application was granted, as P and his 

learned friends did not object, and went back in 

peace to his defence of " bigamus." The next cause was 
called, and at the name of it, a young man of temperament 
the most nervous in the world, a quality which made the 
bar an almost insuperable bar to him, rose to his feet, 
and announced that he appeared for the defendant. 
Counsel for the plaintiff opened, called his witnesses, and 
closed his case, which seemed to be a winning one. 
Counsel for the defendant rose, blushed to the very roots 
I had almost written tops of his wig, looked like the 
incarnation of confusion, and thus delivered : 

" My lord, and gentlemen of the jury ; my client in 
this case my client, gentlemen my client, my lord 
my client ;" and at this stage the poor man seemed per- 
fectly overcome by the natural enemy with which he was 
combating, His mouth was as if paralysis had striken it ; 
his lips were parched, his glance wandered about the 
court, his tongue stammered, and then wagged no more. 
The Court waited ; some men pitied the poor creature 
tuck in the slough of words, unable to get free ; others 
enjoyed the joke and grinned unkindly grins. The occa- 
sion was too much also for his lordship, who leaned fo 






SCENES IN COURT. 127 

ward a little, and said, in a tone of voice which with 
other words might have been taken for encouraging, 
" Pray, sir, proceed ; thus far the Court is with you." 

The nervous man was stung to the quick, and like a 
stag pursued to a corner, turned round and stood fiercely 
at bay. He floundered on in spite of himself, and was 
getting fairly under way, to the relief of everyone who 
heard him, when in an unfortunate moment he allowed 
his eloquence to hurry him into a false quantity, and then 
he was in the toils again. There is a writ called of "quare 
impedit" the e whereof in "impedit," is short. By pure 
misfortune for the nervous man " was a scholar, and a 
ripe and good one" by pure misfortune, and the hurry 
he was in, he gave this word as though the e were long, 
and called the writ one of " quare impedit." 

The sharp ear of the judge detected the false concord, 
and before the speaker could correct for himself, was 
down upon him like a Nasmyth's hammer. " Pray 
shorten your speech, sir. Remember we have a good 
deal to get through." The blow was a fair one, though 

it fell heavily upon Mr. T , who continued to speak 

like one grown desperate, reminding one of the bull in a 
Spanish arena when the red flags and the darts have been 
plied some time. He plunged on here and there through 
the case, butting, but not bellowing at his antagonist, 
who did for him the service of a matador, and gave him 
the coup de grace, to the poor fellow's utter discomfiture. 
The said antagonist rose to reply, and as a boa con- 
strictor licks and fondles his prey before he devours it, so 
the antagonist bespattered Mr. T with praise, and 



128 SCENES IN COURT. 

complimented him upon "his thrilling and powerful 
.appeal." " The Lord hath delivered him into my hands," 
was the profane aside, however, with which the advocate 
forecast, to those nearest him, the issue of the fight. The 
speaker went on and proceeded to dissect the speech of 
his opponent, and, metaphorically speaking, the speech- 
maker himself. He exposed the fallacies, turned the 
facts so as to show the reverse side of them, and drew a 
deduction from his learned friend's own premises, so dia- 
metrically opposite to that which had been drawn by him, 
that Mr. T , though he did not interrupt by speak- 
ing, could not refrain from showing his dissent by violent 
.shaking of the head. 

"My learned friend on the other side shakes his 
head," said the speaker, raising his voice, and emphasiz- 
ing the word " head." " I don't know that there's much 
in that;" and at this neither pity nor decorum could 
keep the bystanders within bounds ; a laugh, general and 

Jiearty, was raised at the expense of poor Mr. T , 

who, painfully alive to the wound which had been inflicted, 
gesticulated in vain endeavour to get a hearing for some- 
thing which might have hurled his enemy to the ground ; 
but the possibility got thrown away ; Mr. T re- 
mained crushed, though exceedingly angry. 

Now it happens that the court-house at the assize town 
of Brisk is inconveniently near to the market, which is 
the resort of farmers for miles round. Thither come 
-cattle, sheep, and beasts of burden ; and thither are taken 
grain, and hay, and all kinds of agricultural produce. 
The place is so near to the courts of law, that the sounds 






SCENES IN COURT. 129 

of marketing, the grunts of pigs, and the noise of blatant 
beasts, have many times been known to pierce the sanctum 
of justice, and to interfere with the delivery of grave 

human utterances. On this occasion, when Mr. T 

came so grievously to grief, high market was going on 
in the street and place outside. Animals of various kinds 
had given audible proof of their presence, and just as the 

vanquisher of Mr. T resumed his speech, a jackass, 

desirous of showing his sense of the learned gentleman's 
sharp wit, set up a bray sufficiently loud to be heard right 
through the court. 

It was his lordship's turn now, and he, thinking per- 
haps that so keen a tonguesman as he who was speaking 
could look well enough to himself, to be able to bear a 
rub down, said, with a good-humoured smile, which was- 
the salve to his blow, " One at a time, brother ; one at 
a time." 

The serjeant reddened slightly, and merely nodded 
assent to his lordship's proposition. The laugh was 
against the serjeant, but " nothing he reck'd," or seemed 
to do, and went on to the close of his speech; 

His lordship began to sum up the case to the jury, 
sifting the facts, and laying down the law. He had not 
proceeded very far, when the animal aforesaid, instigated, 
no doubt, by a feeling of kindness for the serjeant, took 
advantage of a slight pause in the summing up, to testify- 
once more to its appreciation of English jurisprudence. 
The loud hee-haw ! resounded through the court, at- 
tracting the attention, if not the fears, of the judge. 
Respect for the bench precluded any such notice by the 



130 SCENES IN COURT. 

bar, as the bench bad taken of tbe former bray ; but his 
lordship had flung down his glove to the serjeant, and 
the serjeant was not the man to refuse the gage. He 
followed his own plan in taking it up. When the judge 
continued his address to the jury, the impression created 
by the jackass being yet fresh upon the audience, Serjeant 

turned him around to the leader who sat next him, 

and said in a stage whisper, heard distinctly by every one, 
" I never noticed till now the remarkable echo in this 
court." 

" Not even with your long ears," said a junior in a 
whisper as audible as the last remark, whereby the laugh 
which began to rise at his lordship's expense was shifted 
back again to the serjeant, who strove between his dignity 
which would not let him notice the junior so immea- 
surably beneath him and his anger, which made his 
fingers itch to punch the junior's head. The serjeant was 
a wrathful man, and had the reputation of even " swear- 
ing his prayers." Forth from his mouth flowed a string 
of muttered curses, like lava from a volcano that cannot 
burst in open fury ; and to judge from appearances a 
breach of the peace seemed not unlikely to occur at a 
later hour in the day ; though, as far as I know, none 
actually took place, the serjeant, a thoroughly good fellow, 
having been observed to select his youthful adversary for 
special attention at the mess on that very same day ; and 
even after speaking highly of him as a foeman worthy of 
his own steel. He recognised an equal, as Lord Thurlow 
did when the usher of the court gave back his lordship's 
" damn you," after enduring meekly and in patiei 



SCENES IN COURT. 131 

for the space of five minutes a long string of invectives, 
hurled at him because the Lord Chancellor's inkstand was 
not filled. 

P 's case came on in due course, and P fleshed 

his maiden sword right valiantly. He bore up against 
the excessive respect of his own witness, who insisted on 
calling him "my lord," drawing upon him a flood of con- 
gratulations from his brethren, and a remark from his 

lordship that " the witness was only anticipating." 

strove and did mightily; and the jury gave right between 
them at least I trust so, for I cannot speak out of my 
own knowledge. The heat of the weather and the stuffi- 
ness of the court combined, with the want of special in- 
terest in any one of the causes, to make the assize court 

of Brisk, in the county of , intolerable by four 

o'clock in the afternoon. The only piece of paper I had 
touched for the day in the way of business, was the mess- 
man's dinner-list, whereon I had inscribed my name. It 

was useless to wait, I thought, so nudging R , my 

fellow in lodgings, and mine own peculiar friend, I left 
the court for more refreshing haunts. I strode away, and 

in company with R , who " rowed in the same boat " 

with myself, sought upon the waters of the Cray an appe- 
tite for the dinner we were to eat at half-past six. 






"IN THE WITNESS-BOX,' 




THE RESPECTABLE MARKIED WITNESS. 

I HAVE a theory that a man's fate lies in his natural 
disposition; not the disposition which he has control 
over, but a certain secret and unsuspected bent of his 
mind, which leads him right or wrong, against his will 
and against his knowledge. Thus, I believe that the 
man who never gets on in the world has within him a 
certain bias towards the wrong side of the road of life. 
He is like one of those balls used in playing bowls. He 
is, to all appearance, perfectly round and equally balanced ; 






IN THE WITNESS-BOX. 133 

l)ut roll him as straight as you will, he invariably inclines 
to one side. When we see men equal in all other respects 
in talent, education, physical strength, and personal ap- 
pearance it is, I suspect, this secret bias which makes 
ihe difference in their fortunes. One goes straight along 
ihe high road of life to the goal ; while the other struggles 
onward for a while, inclining little by little towards the 
side, until at last he rolls into the ditch. This bias is 
placed variously, and disposes the ball to every variety of 
accident. Thus one becomes rich, another po or;one 
catches all the diseases that flesh is heir to, another 
escapes them; one is drowned, another is hanged. I 
have long entertained the belief that it is a certain and 
-particular kind of person who catches the small-pox and 
becomes pitted by it ; that it is a particular kind of per- 
son who is destined to a wooden leg ; that it is a very 
exceptionable and distinct kind of person who is destined 
to be murdered : I further believe that, if we could only 
make a diagnosis of the predisposition of these persons, 
and ascertain the nature of the bias and its general indi- 
cations, we should be able to look in a man's face and tell 
him for a certainty that he will one day have a wooden 
leg, or that he will be murdered, or that he will be 
smashed in a railway accident. There are certain things 
that I am not afraid of, because I feel that they will 
never happen to me. I feel that I have the bias which 
will, under certain circumstances, always keep me right 
side up. There are other things, again, that I am afraid 
of, because I am not sure how my bias lies with regard 
to thorn. 



134 



IN THE WITNESS-BOX. 



In pursuing this theory, I am disposed to believe that 
there is a certain kind of men and women whose bias is- 
always rolling them into the witness-box ; whose bias 
first of all rolls them into situations where they see and 
hear things bearing upon matters which will become the 
subject of litigation or criminal process. Look at thfr 
people whom Mr. Brunton has so happily sketched in 
illustration of these remarks. There they are, born wit- 
nesses ; types which we see in the box repeated over and 
over again, with all the fatuity which leads them into the 
position of witnesses, and all the attributes which so pe- 
culiarly fit them for the operations of counsel plainly 
stamped upon their features. They cannot help being 
witnesses any more than Dr. "Watts' bears and lions- 
could help growling and fighting. It is their nature to. 
Mark the dull witness. Have you not seen him times out 




THE DULL \VITNE88. 



IN THE WITNESS-BOX. 135 

of number ? At the police-court in a case of assault and 
battery he happened to be in the way at the time, of 
course : at the inquest he was passing just at the 
moment the deceased threw himself from the first-floor 
window : in the Court of Queen's Bench, in a case of 
collision, where the defendant is sued for damages on the 
score of having taken the wrong side of the road. Of 
course he gets into the dock instead of the witness-box ; 
of course he stumbles up the steps, and equally of course 
stumbles down them again. He takes the book in the 
wrong hand, and when he is told to take it in the other, 
that hand is sure to be gloved ; the court is kept waiting 
while he divests himself of this article of apparel ; and 
the consciousness of the witness that all eyes are upon 
him, concentrated in a focal glare of reproof and impa- 
tience, only tends to increase and intensify his stupidity. 
He drops the book ; he kisses his thumb not evasively, 
for he is incapable of any design whatever ; he looks at 
the judge when he ought to be looking at the counsel, 
and at the counsel when he ought to be looking at the 
judge. There is such an utter want of method in the 
stupidity of this witness that counsel can make nothing 
of him. He perjures himself a dozen times, and with 
regard to that collision case, gets into such a fog about 
the rule of the road, that at last he doesn't know his 
right hand from his left. It is useless for counsel to 
point with triumph to the inconsistencies of this witness's 
evidence ; for it is obvious to everybody that he is quite 
incapable of throwing any light on the subject whatever, 
and that what he says one way or another is of no 



136 



IN THE WITNESS-BOX. 



importance. The examining counsel is only too glad to 
get rid of such a witness, and very soon tells him to stand 
down a command which he obeys by tumbling down 
and staggering into the body of the court, with a dumb- 
foundered expression quite pitiful to behold. 

Now the confident witness steps into the box. He is, 
in his own idea, prepared for everything. He is pre- 
pared for the slips ; he is ready at all points for the- 




THE CONFIDENT "WITNESS. 



greasy New Testament. He looks the counsel steadily 
in the face, as much as to say " You will not shake my 
evidence, I can tell you." The counsel meets this look 
with a glance, of anticipated triumph. There is a defined 
position here whose assumption of strength is its greatest 
weakness. The confident witness has resolved to answer 
yes and no, and not to be tempted into any amplifica- 






IN THE WITNESS-BOX. 137 

tions which will give the cross-examining counsel an 
opportunity of badgering him. The counsel can make 
nothing of him for a while ; hut at last he goads him. 
into an expression of anger ; when, seeing that he is 
losing his temper, he smiles a galling smile, and says 
4< No douht, sir, you think yourself a very clever fellow : 
don't you, now ? Answer me, sir." The confident wit- 
ness falling into this trap, and thinking " answer me, 
sir," has reference to the question about his cleverness, 
snaps the counsel up with a retort about being as clever 
as he is ; and immediately the badgering commences. 

" How dare you interrupt me, sir ? Prevarication 
won't do here, sir. Remember you are on your oath, 
sir ! " And the indignation of the witness being thus 
aroused by, it must be confessed, a most unwarrantable 
and ungentlemanly course of proceeding away goes the 
main-sheet of his confidence, and he is left floundering 
about without rudder or compass in the raging sea of his 
anger. It is now the worthy object of the learned 
counsel to make him contradict himself, and to exhibit 
him in the eyes of the jury as a person utterly unworthy 
of belief. 

There is a nervous variety of this witness, who is 
occasionally frightened into doubting his own hand- 
writing. He is positive at first ; has no doubt on the 
point whatever. It is, or it is not Then he is asked if 
he made a point of putting a dot over the i in " Jenkins." 
He always made a point of that. 

" Do you ever omit the dot ?" 

" Never." 



138 



IN THE WITNESS-SOX. 



" Then be good enough to look at this signature " 
(counsel gives him a letter, folded up so as to conceal 
everything but the signature). "You perceive there is 
no dot over the i there. Is that your signature ?" 

" I should say not." 

" You should say not why ? Because there is no 
dot over the i ?" 

" Yes ; because there is no dot over the i." 

" Now, sir, look at the whole of that letter. Did you 
write such a letter ?" 




THB -WITNESS WHO IS FftlGHTENED INTO DOUBTING HIS OWN 
HANDWRITING. 

" Certainly ; I did write such a letter." 
" Did you write that letter ?" 



IN THE WITNESS-BOX. 139 

" Remember, sir, you are on your oath. Is it like 
your handwriting ?" 

" It is." 

" Is it like your signature ?" 

" It is." 

" Is it your signature ? " 

" It might be." 

" Gentlemen of the jury ; after most positively deny- 
ing that this was his signature, the witness at length 
admits that it might be. What reliance then can be 
placed upon the doubts which he expresses with regard 
to the document upon which this action is based?" 

This witness has really no doubts about his hand- 
writing at all, until he is artfully induced to commit 
himself with regard to the dotting of i's and the crossing 
oft's. 

The deaf witness is not a hopeful subject for counsel 
to deal with ; and when, on entering the box, he settles 
himself into a leaning posture, with his hand to his ear, 
the gentlemen in the horsehair wigs will be seen to ex- 
change glances which imply mutual pity for each other. 
Those glances say plainly enough, " Here is a deaf old 
post, who will pretend to be much more deaf than he 
really is, and will be sure to have the sympathies of the 
public if we bully him." The deaf witness, when the 
counsel begins to ask awkward questions, says " eh ? " to 
everything ; and if he be a knowing witness at the same 
time, pretends not to understand, which justifies him in 
giving stupid and irrelevant answers. As a rule, both 
sides are not sorry to get rid of a deaf witness ; and he 



140 



IN THE WITNESS-SOX. 



is told to stand down in tones of mingled pity and 
contempt. 




THE DEAF WITNESS. 



The knowing witness, who is not deaf, is a too-clever- 
by-half gentleman, who soon falls a prey to his over- 
weening opinion of his own sharpness. They are not 
going to frighten him by asking him to kiss the book. 
He kisses it with a smack of the lips and a wag of the 
head, by which he seems to indicate that he is prepared 
to eat the book if required. Then, after a question or 
two, when he thinks he is getting the best of it with the 
lawyers, he winks at the general audience, and so fondly 
believes he is taking everybody into his confidence, 
against his cross-examiner. This is the gentleman who 






IN THE WITNESS-BOX. 141 

is credited with those sharp retorts upon lawyers which 
we find in jest-books and collections of wit and humour ; 
but I fear he has little real claim to distinction as a 
dealer in repartee. Those smart things are " made up " 
for him, as they are made for the wag, and generally for 




THE KNOWING WITNESS. 



Joseph Miller. The retorts of the knowing witness are 
usually on the simplest principle of tu quoque, and as 
their pith chiefly consists in their rudeness only counsel 
are allowed to be rude in court they are certain to be 
checked by the court. The court does not tolerate jokes 
that are not made by itself. 

The witness who introduces foreign matter into her 
evidence is generally of the female gender, and is a 
person whose appearance and manner warrant counsel in 
addressing her as "my good woman." She will declare 
that she is " not a good woman," and secure for that 



142 



IN THE WITNESS-BOX. 



standard witticism the laugh, which it never fails to raise, 
whether spoken innocently or with intent. She deals 
very much in " he said," and " she said ;" and of course 
the counsel doesn't want to know what he said or she 
said, but what the good woman saw with her own eyes 
and heard with her own ears. But nothing on earth will 




THE WITNESS WHO INTRODUCES FOREIGN MATTER INTO HER EVIDENCE. 

induce her to stick to the point ; and though she is 
pulled up again and again, she still persists in giving all 
collateral circumstances in minute detail. I should say 
that when this witness goes to the play, she provides her- 
self with a small bottle of rum and an egg-cup. 

The interesting witness is also of the feminine gender- 
slim, prim, modest, and demure. She is a young lady of 
" prepossessing appearance," and notably interesting. The 
moment she steps into the box and puts up her veil to 



IN THE WITNESS-SOX. 



143 



kiss the book, the gentlemen in the horse-hair wigs fix 
their eye-glasses and scrutinize her narrowly ; and, as 
the gentlemen of the long robe are proverbially polite, 
they will be seen, while staring the interesting young 
lady out of countenance, to nudge each other and pass 
round pleasant jokes. The interesting young-lady wit- 
ness is rarely to be met with in the Queen's Bench, the 
Common Pleas, or the Exchequer. The place to look for 




1KB INTEBE8TING AVITNBoS. 



her is the Court of Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, 
where it is generally the object of the cross-examining 
counsel to prove that the interesting witness, who has 
prepossessed every one by her modest demeanour, is no 
better than she should be. There is possibly no warranty 
for this course of proceeding ; but then the noble practice 
of the law requires that a barrister should do the best he 



44 IF THE WITNESS-SOX. 

can for his client, and that he must not scruple to blacken 
the character of the innocent, in order to protect from the 
consequences of his crime one whom he well knows to be 
guilty. 

The interesting female witness is of two kinds. One is 
what she seems ; the other is not what she seems. The 
mock-modest lady usually gives her cross-examiner a good 
deal of trouble. She is wary ; brief in her answers, de- 
cisive in her replies ; and her habit of dropping her eyes 
enables her to conceal her emotions. This witness holds 
out to the last. The other, who is really the interesting, 
modest, demure, timid creature that she appears, soon 
betrays herself under a severe cross-examination. Her 
only weapon of defence rises unbidden from the depths of 
her wounded feelings, in the shape of a flood of tears. 



MORE "WITNESSES.' 




THE WITNESS AVHO CAUSED "CONSIDERABLE AMUSEMENT " IN COURT. 

IN discoursing concerning witnesses only a few days back, 
I took the opportunity of broaching the theory that the 
givers of evidence in the courts of justice were so far 
like true poets in that they are born, not made. Test is 
nascitur, non fit. 

The first person who steps into the box on the present 
occasion is a remarkable example in point. He is " the 
witness who causes considerable amusement in court." 



146 MORE " WITNESSES." 

Some persons may be disposed to find fault with, the re- 
porter for his uniform adherence to the use of the word 
' considerable." Why not " much," or " great ?" No ; 
the reporter is right. Other persons might cause " much," 
or "great," or "little " amusement; but "considerable"" 
is the exact measure of this person's power of exciting 
risibility combined with perplexity and wonder. He- 
does not do it intentionally ; he does not know that he is 
doing it, and his fun is of a very dubious kind. There- 
fore the amazement which it causes is "considerable." 
Some laugh at him, others think him a fool ; and the 
counsel who is cross-examining him is probably a little 
out of temper. This witness is not a complete success 
one way or another. He is neither a triumph to his 
own party, nor a defeat to the opposite side. All that he 
does in a definite way is to " cause considerable amuse- 
ment in court." 

The odd, unique, and almost paradoxical thing about 
this witness is that he never causes amusement in any 
degree, considerable or otherwise, anywhere else. At- 
home he is simply lumpy and stupid ; abroad in the 
world, he is a heavy impediment in everybody's way. 
He is a very unlikely flint indeed, and no one thinks of 
attempting to strike fire out of him. He is about as 
likely a medium for that purpose as a slice of Dutch 
cheese. It is only when you pen him in a witness-box, 
and strike him stupid with your legal eye, in presence of 
judge and jury, that you can make him yield anything 
that is at all calculated to afford either amusement or in- 
struction. 






MORE " WITNESSES," 147 

He produces his considerable amusement (not with 
any design on his part, however,) by means well known 
to the two end men in a band of nigger serenaders. 

Counsel screwing his glass in his eye, and putting on 
his most searching expression, says : 

" Now, sir ; on your oath, did you not know that the 
deceased had made a will ?" The witness hesitates and 
looks idiotic. 

" Answer me, sir," roars the counsel, " and remember 
you are on your oath. Did you not know that the de- 
ceased had made a will ?" 

The witness answers at last, " Well, sir, I was ;" 
which "causes considerable amusement in court," and 
greatly provokes the examining counsel. 

" Now, sir, since I have been able to screw so much 
out of you, perhaps you will answer me this question : 
" What did the deceased die of ? " 

The witness does not appear to understand. 

" What did the deceased die of? " the counsel repeats. 

" He died of a Tuesday, sir," says the witness with 
the utmost gravity. And of course the audience go into 
convulsions and the crier has to restore order in court. 

This witness is never of the slightest service in eluci- 
dating a case, and counsel are generally glad to get rid of 
him, except when the proceedings are getting flat, and 
want enlivening. Some counsel like a butt of this kind 
to shoot the arrows of their wit at ; just as wanton street- 
boys like to tease and make sport of an idiot. 

The next witness who steps into the box is a charge- 
sheet in himself, so expressive is he in every feature, and 



148 



MORE " WITNESSES:' 



in his whole style, of a tipsy row in the Haymarket, with 
beating of the police, and attempts to rescue from custody, 
It is quite unnecessary for the active and intelligent offi- 
cer to enter into details. "We see the case at a glance. 
Mr. Slapbang has been making free. He has visited a 
music hall or two, where he has joined in the chorus ; he 
has danced at a casino ; he has partaken of devilled kid- 
neys at a night supper-room ; and visiting all these places 




THE YOXJNG GENTLEMAN DESCRIB*D IN THE CHARGE SHEET A8 
MEDICAL STUDENT," WHO PAID THE FINE, AND IMMEDIATELY 
LEFT THE COURT "WITH HIS FRIENDS. 

in a jovial and reckless humour, he has disregarded the 
wholesome convivial maxim which says that you shoi 
never mix your liquors. Mr. Slapbang has mixed 
liquors, the consequence being a disposition to beat 



MORE " WITNESSES." 149- 

stick against lamp-posts, to wake the midnight echoes 
with " lul-li-e-ty," and to show his independence by 
resisting the authority of the police, and perhaps offering 
them that most unpardonable of all insults, known to the 
force " vo/lence." 

When Mr. Slapbang appears in the dock he makes a 
great effort, conscious of the presence of his friends, to 
keep his " pecker" up. The gloss and glory of his attire 
have been somewhat dimmed by a night's durance in the 
cells ; but what he has lost in this respect he endeavours 
to make up for by a jaunty devil-may-care manner. He- 
says he was " fresh," or " sprung," and " didn't know 
what he was doing," with quite a grand air, as if it were- 
a high privilege of his order to get drunk and resist the 
police. His manner almost implies that it is quite a 
condescension on his part to come there and allow the 
magistrate to have anything to say in the matter. There 
is not such a very great difference between the conduct 
of this gentlemanly offender and that of the hardened 
criminal who throws, his shoe at the judge, or declares,, 
when sentence is pronounced, that he "could do that 
little lot on his head." Mr. Slapbang throws insolent 
glances at the bench, and when he is fined, instantly 
brings out a handful of money with an air that says 
plainly " Fine away ; make it double if you like : it's 
nothing to me." When Mr. Slapbang " leaves the court 
with his friends," he is the centre of a sort of triumphal 
procession : you would not think that he had been sub- 
jugated to the authority of the law, but rather that he- 
had triumphed over it. His " friends " are very like- 



150 



MORE " WITNESSES." 



himself. In most cases they are the companions of his 
revelry, who have been more fortunate than Mr. Slap- 
bang in eluding the clutches of the police. When Mr. 
Slapbang leaves the court with his friends, he usually 
proceeds direct to the first public-house, where the com- 
pany sarcastically drink to the jolly good health of the 
''beak." 




1 HE WITNESS WHO 8WEABB THAT BLACK IS WHITE ! 



The witness who insists that black is white is one of 
ihose self-conceited persons, who, when they once say a 
thing, stick to it at all hazards. He has no intention of 
being dishonest, or of saying that which is not true, but 
he has a great idea of his own infallibility, and a nervous 
dread of being thought the weak-minded person that 
really is. He is the sort of person who likes to be 
authority in a public-house parlour ; who cannot bear 



MORE "WITNESSES." 151 

he contradicted, and who will not allow any authority to 
overweigh his own. I have heard him in the pride of 
his knowledge for he pretends to know everything and 
in the fulness of his conceit, make a bet that " between 
you and I " is correct, and refuse to be convinced of his 
error, even when the decision has been given against nim- 
by a referee of his own choosing. 

" Sir," he said, rising and addressing the chairman one- 
evening when a new comer in the parlour ventured to 
disagree with his view of a certain matter " Sir, I have 
used this room now for five- and- twenty years. Is that 
so, sir ? " 

The chairman admitted that it was so with much 
respect for the fact. 

" And in all that time, have you ever heard me con- 
tradicted before ? " 

" No," says the chairman, " never." 

" Very well, then," says our friend. And with that 
sits down, satisfied that the bare mention of the fact will 
be sufficient to deter any one from a repetition of the- 
ofFence which has just roused his indignation. 

This witness always enters the box with the fond idea 
that he will prove " too much " for the counsel, but in 
the end it generally happens that counsel prove too- 
much for him. Conceit is like pride liable to have a, 
fall ; but, unlike pride, it does not always feel the smart. 
It has a thick skin. 

The witness who expresses astonishment and indig- 
nation at the doubts which counsel throw upon his accu- 
racy and veracity is a variety of the same type. He is- 



152 MORE " WITNESSES." 

ttlso conceited, but he has, at the same time, an inordinate 
idea of his own importance. He is a man who studies 
appearances, and " makes up " for the character which 
.he delights to enact through life. He loves to be grumpy 
and testy, and in his own sphere he is a sort of Scotch 



S 




THE A6TONl6HiD AND INDIGNANT "WITNESS. 

thistle who allows no one to meddle with him with im- 
punity. Naturally when an audacious hand, gloved with 
the protection of the law, rudely seizes hold of him, and 
blunts the point of his bristles, he doesn't like it. He is 
an easy prey to counsel, as every witness is who stands 
upon his dignity or importance, and gets upset from that 
high pedestal. 

The young lady whose affections the defendant has 
trifled with and blighted is generally of the order of 
female known as " interesting." And when she is in- 
teresting she always gains the day. A judge recentlj 



MORE " WITNESSES." 15$ 

stated almost complained that there is no getting 
juries to find a young and interesting female guilty of 
anything even when guilt is brought home to her 
without the possibility of a doubt. Counsel know this 




THE YOUNG LADY WHOSE AFFECTIONS HATE BEEN TBIFLED WITH. 

well, and, I am told, always instruct a young and in- 
teresting female how to comport herself so as to make an 
impression upon the jury. 

The stage directions, I believe, are something like this. 
" Enter the box (or the dock, as the case may be) with 
your veil down. This gives me occasion to tell you to 
raise your veil, and show your face to the jury. When 
you do this burst into tears and use your white cambric 
pocket handkerchief. Then let the jury see your pretty 
eyes red with weeping, and your damask cheek blanched 
with anguish and coursed with bitter tears. When you 
are hard pressed by the opposing counsel, begin to sob, 



154 



MORE " WITNESSES." 



and grasp the rail as if for support. You will then be 
accommodated with a scent-bottle and a chair ; and the 
jury will think the cross-examining counsel a brute, and 
you an injured angel." 

Observance of these directions by a young and in- 
ieresting female never fails. She will get clear off, even 
if she has murdered her grandmother. 

In a simple case of blighted affection, there is no need 
to take so much trouble. Only let the lady be well 
dressed, and look pretty, and it is obvious at once (to the 




THE GPNTIEMAN WHO TRIPLED WUH THE YOUNG LADl's AFFECTIONS. 

jury) that the defendant is not only heartless and crue 
in the last degree, but utterly insensible to the charms of 
youth and innocence. Yet in nine cases out of ten tl 
interesting female who weeps and sobs, and uses h< 



MORE WITNESSES:' is* 

smelling bottle, is an artful schemer. Look at the 
gentleman who trifled with her affections. Is that the- 
sort of person to kindle in any female breast the devour- 
ing flame of love ? Is he the sort of person to love any 
one but himself, or to cherish anything but his whiskers ? 
He is a trifler, it is true, but he has not trifled with that 
interesting and artful female's heart, because she has no- 
heart to trifle with. She might sue him for wasting her 
time, but not for breaking her heart. 



156 



SKETCHES IN COURT. 

THE VARIETIES OF COUNSEL. 

class or order in nature has its species or varieties, 
and there is no large class of men which has not at once 
its common character and its numerous varieties its 
general type and its special variations. This is eminently 
so of the order of the Bar, which includes perhaps a 
igreater number of varieties than any other. Every in- 
dividual of eminence has distinguishing traits and cha- 
racteristics, which would require individual portraiture 
and perhaps we may some day essay a series of such 
portraitures of eminent men at the Bar. But at present 
our idea is a description of certain varieties of the class 
the individuals of which may not be of sufficient impor- 
tance to require a more particular portraiture. In this 
-attempt we have been aided by the pencil as well as by 
the pen. 

The first is a rather rare and very obscure variety 
very little seen or known, as the individuals who belong to 
it lurk in chambers, and seldom show in court. "When 
they do come down perhaps, like old Preston, to argue 
, nice point of real property law, or revel in the technical 
.subtleties of conveyancing they have the aspect 






SKETCHES IN COURT. 



157 



pundits, and evince an unbounded contempt for the court, 
whose ignorance they condescend to enlighten. They 
will consume a whole day in a dull, dry, dreary 
argument, stuffed full of citations from " Coke upon 
Littleton," and "Fearne on Contingent Remainders," 
and " Saunders on Uses," all of which they read out in 
a calm unceasing drawl, without once changing their 




THE CONSULTING COUNSEL. 



tone, or ever being betrayed into a spark of energy or 
show of earnestness. They generally send one or two of 
the judges to sleep, and inflict upon the others the cruel 
torture of trying for hours to keep awake. When they 
have done, the judges thank Heaven that they have 
ended, and depart with beclouded minds but grateful 
hearts ; knowing, perhaps, rather less of the matter than 
they did before, but feeling like men who have been sorely 



158 



SKETCHES IN COURT. 



misused. The whole air of this manner of men while 
arguing is that of a professor or tutor reading a lecture to 
a " class " of pupils or students. They believe themselves- 
the keepers of the species of recondite knowledge they 
profess, and which without them would be lost to man- 
kind. They are a kind of legal Brahmins, who despise 
all the other orders of their brethren, and think that all 
law is wrapped up in conveyancing and titles. They are 
never happier than when engaged in picking holes in a 
title, except when they have found one. 




This, also, is a rare and almost extinct variety. Thej 
nourished in the Ecclesiastical Courts under ihe olc 
system ; but when the Probate Court and Divorce Coui 
were established and their " doctors " were made counse 
of, they fell under the lash of Cresswell, who nearly ex- 
tinguished them as a class. The brethren used to crowc 



SKETCHES IN COURT. 159 

into the Probate Court to hear Sir Cresswell scoff and 
joke at " the doctors." They were a dull, scholastic 
olass, crammed full of recondite learning, gleaned from 
the books of the jurists of the middle ages, and the dark 
records of Doctors' Commons. When called out into the 
general practice of the new system, they were like owls 
brought suddenly into open day. They were so bedevilled 
by Sir Cresswell, that some of them fell into despair. 
And the worst of it was, it was all done so politely that 
they could not complain. He flouted them so calmly, 
and with such a refined sarcasm, that often they did not 
perceive it; and while all around were smiling, they 
thought they were doing it well. By degrees it dawned 
upon them that they were just a little too slow ; some of 
them brightened up and did better, others simply died 
out : they disappeared. A new race arose by degrees 
fitted for the new system; but still the old variety 
lingers, and can sometimes be seen. The rare specimen 
we may now and then see will straggle into a court of 
common law to argue on a church-rate question, or a 
matter of a tithe " modus," or a " faculty to have a pew, 
or to build upon a graveyard," and the like. And then 
they revel in "Gibson's Codex," and " Burn's Eccle- 
siastical Law," and the like, and read whole pages of 
Latin with infinite relish. They are exceedingly clerical 
in look and style, are pedantic, and sometimes priggish. 

There is a species of barrister whose forte is argument, 
and whose style is the plausible. They " put things " so 
cleverly, as to put the case quite in the right light for 
their clients. They are calm and dispassionate in their 



160 



SKETCHES IN COURT. 



manner, and are great in banco before the judges. 
They profess a contempt for juries, except, perhaps, in 
heavy and important special jury cases, when sometimes 
they condescend to convince them. They are often chan- 
cery men, and so in the habit of addressing judges, that, 




THE ARGUMENTATIVE COUNSEL. 



though they may be sophistical, they are never rhetorical. 
They would be ashamed of it, even if they could do it 
which most of them could not. They are eminently 
argumentative, or affect to be so, which is the same thing 
as to style. 

This is a species of the class of which there are several 
varieties ; but they have all common characteristics. 
There is the Nisi Prius variety, and the Criminal Court 
variety ; and these, again, are sub- divided ; there is the 
special jury variety and the common jury variety ; 



SKETCHES IN COURT. 



161 



then, again, there is the Old Bailey variety, and the 
Sessions variety, end the Assize Court variety ; and these 




THE JURY COUNSEL. 



differ greatly in style, as may be conceived. Still they 
all have a common character which abundantly distin- 
guishes them from the preceding classes. They have all 
this in common, that they are in the habit of addressing 
twelve men at least to say nothing of the audience^ of 
which several varieties always think more than of the 
jury. The twelve men may be small traders or farmers, 
or they may be gentlemen-merchants, hawkers, and the 
like ; but still they are twelve men, and twelve laymen 
who know nothing of law, and have seldom much logical 
acumen, or very severe taste. Hence the style of the 
Jury Counsel is always more or less popular and ad cap- 

G 



162 SKETCHES IN COURT. 

tandum. The main distinction between the different 
varieties is in the amount of noise they make. The com- 
mon jury variety are always more noisy than the spe- 
cial jury ; and the sessions variety more so still. The 
criminal counsel, who has so often to defend men who 
have had the misfortune to get into mischief, as the facts 
are generally against him, has of course to appeal a good 
deal to the feelings. He denounces policemen in tones of 
thunder, and tries to make out that the real rogue is the 
prosecutor. All this requires exertion, and the less he is 
in earnest the more anxious is he to appear to he. Hence 
he is always noisy, and sometimes stentorian. One of 
the class was lately complimented at sessions, by one of 




THE COXCOMBICAL COUNSEL. 



his facetious brethren, upon his having reduced most of 
the magistrates to entire deafness. He is pathetic 



SKETCHES IN COURT. 163 

times, and then generally quotes some lines from 
Shakspeare (which he has carefully got up) ; but his usual 
characteristic is noise. The specimen delineated on the 
preceding page appears to belong to this variety ; he is 
evidently " going to the jury." 

This species not generally much encumbered with 
business affect the gentlemanly, and are, above all, 
anxious to look the character. They are usually hand 
some, are carefully well dressed, and their whiskers are 
almost always luxurious, cultivated and curled. The 
wig is always in fine order ; it is never put on in a hurry; 
the linen collar, "choker," and "bands" are always 
pure and spotless, and without a crumple : they are 
always put on carefully and slowly. In short, every- 
thing about the man is nice ; his whole air, aspect, and 
appearance are studiously proper and becoming. And 
there is the quiet consciousness of this, which completes 
the character. There is the complacent smirk of self- 
satisfied success in appearance. It is confined to ap- 
pearance, for he is never or hardly ever heard ; and 
when he is, he usually makes an ass of himself for 
there is nothing in him ; and he has so long been in the 
habit of devoting unlimited leisure to his outward guise 
and appearance, that his mind is poor. Nevertheless, it 
often happens that he has good " connections " and a 
patron ; and thus there is a chance that he will get a 
place ; a post in some department, or perhaps even a seat 
upon the bench at a police-court, where he will make an 
ass of himself in public, unless he has sense enough to 
be as silent as possible, and let his chief clerk do the 

c2 



1*34 



SKETCHES IN COURT. 



work, and direct him (in a whisper) what to say. Per- 
haps he gets an appointment in the colonies ; or perhaps 
he succeeds to an estate, and disappears ; or perhaps, 
upon the faith of his being at the bar, and the credit of 
his gentlemanly appearance, he marries a wealthy widow, 
and then also disappears. 

This variety betrays and portrays itself. To use a 
legal phrase, "It is bad on the face of it." You 




THE JOVIAL COUNSEL. 



observe the eyeglass an unfailing trait of the class 
which is noted for its great powers of observation, exer- 
oised continually upon everything and every one in 
court ; but with a constant eye to the facetious. Any- 
thing in judge or jury, witness or audience, but above 
all in a brother barrister on which a joke can be hung, 
is sure to be noted by that acute ear, and that unfailing 
eye. He is always a man without business : and his 



SKETCHES IN COURT. 165 

great delight is to be sarcastic on his brethren who have 
it. He conies into court very late, and he goes very 
early, for he sits up at nights not studying, but playing ; 
and the probability is that he had much more wine than 
was good for him ; for which reason he has a craving for 
soda water and other cooling drinks ; and has no mind 
for work, or for anything but fun. He is generally verj 
full of spirits, and when men have nothing to do he helps 
to beguile the tedium of the day ; but when they are 
busy, he is a bore. He has no mind but for the comical 
side of things ; and if there is a comical side to a case, 
he is sure to see it. He has often a taste for drawing, 
.and if so, it always tends to caricature ; and his ample 
leisure is spent chiefly in noting and portraying the 
little peculiarities of his brethren. He is a contributor 
sometimes to the lighter order of literature ; and one of 
the species has obliged us with the foregoing sketches of 
" the brethren." 



166 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER, 




PEOPLE talk about the World of London. London has 
a dozen worlds at least. For all that some of these 
know or care of others they might as well be shining in 
different planets. But there is one world with which 
most other worlds cannot avoid making occasional ac- 
quaintance that is the world of Westminster HalL 
Apart from the legislative chambers, in whose proceed- 
ings everybody is concerned, it must be strange indeed for 
any member of the general community not to be in- 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 167 

terested, directly or indirectly, at one time or another, in 
a transaction connected with a Parliamentary Committee 
or a Court of Law. Certain it is that you will meet on 
most days down at Westminster and more especially in 
the height of the season and the session, during the last 
two terms before the long vacation representative men 
and women of all classes, drawn together by business or 
curiosity as the case may be. 

The way down to Westminster that is to say, the 
way of those who go from the Temple has been made 
more easy than it was by the Thames Embankment, 
which will be a right royal road some of these days when 
it has intelligible approaches, and the trees have grown, 
and the small boys have been driven away, and carriages 
can be driven along it when, in fact, it has dropped its 
present dissipated character of a show and a playground, 
.and has settled down into a respectable thoroughfare. At 
present the swiftest mode of making the journey is by a 
penny steamer. But penny steamers are of course avail- 
able only if you do not happen to be proud. The penny 
public whom you see on board are not pretty to look 
at, and seem principally possessed by a keen sense of 
economy, extended not only to travelling expenses, but to 
the article of soap. Some philosophic barristers patro- 
nise the boats ; indeed there is a plentiful sprinkling of 
these early in the morning; but being residents in 
chambers they are principally juniors, and do not include 
the great dignitaries of the profession. The latter are 
represented, however, by their clerks barristers' clerks 
are wonderfully partial to penny steamers who may be 



68 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

seen at all hours of the day going backwards and forwards 
with briefs and bags ; and among them, with Melancholy 
marking him for her own and remaining in undisputed 
possession, you may surely note the clerk of some un- 
happy Mr. Briefless, who " brings his master's grey wief 
down in sorrow to the court," with a constancy worthy 
of a more successful cause. They are horrible means- 
of progression those penny steamers but there is no- 
reason why they should be so. With a supply of boats 
such as should be employed, the river might be RS- 
crowded as the streets, for the mode of travelling might 
be made far pleasanter than the mode of travelling by 
land, and in point of speed a steamer has an advantage- 
over any carriage except a railway carriage. There are 
thousands upon thousands of the public who would be 
glad to make use of a better class of boats, say such as the 
Saloon Steamers that now ply above bridge, only of suit- 
able size. With conveyances of this kind the journey 
between London and Westminster might be made a 
festive progress, and passengers would cheerfully pay, 
say, the prices charged on the Metropolitan Railway, 
first, second, and third class. I throw out the hint to 
speculators, who, I am certain, would never repent a little 
enterprise in this. direction. 

The way down to Westminster by road is broad amd 
pleasant enough after you get out of the Strand ; and 
scarcely have you passed Charing Cross than you come 
upon Westminster Hall, as represented by the people 
about you. It is, say, between eleven and twelve o'clock 
in the day. A few barristers, solicitors, and witnesses 






DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 169 

are still going down to the courts ; also " parties" in 
actions, their witnesses, and their friends. But a great 
many more of all these classes are bound for the com- 
mittees, which sit for the most part at twelve. Head- 
long Hansoms are dashing along, conveying gentlemen 
with that kind of cheerfulness in their faces which comes 
of being engaged, under profitable conditions, upon other 
people's business rather than their own. A large number 
of the same class are on foot, walking three or four 
abreast, and engaged in pleasant discussion. The 
happiest of all are the witnesses, for they have not the 
same cares upon them as the parliamentary agents and 
solicitors. All they have to do is to stay in London and 
wait day after day until they are wanted, receive their 
liberal diurnal allowances for their trouble, and in the 
<md permit the counsel on their own side to extract from 
them such information as they may have to supply, and 
prevent, if possible, the counsel on the other side from 
demolishing their assertions. There are some members 
of Parliament among the crowd, riding, driving, or walk- 
ing, as the case may be. They are the members of the 
committees, and, if the day be a Wednesday, their 
number is increased by those going down to attend the 
morning sitting, or rather the afternoon sitting of the 
House. 

As you get lower down, into Parliament Street proper, 
Westminster is still more largely represented ; for here, 
on the left, is the Whitehall Club, a handsome stone 
building of a few years' standing, which accommodates a 
large number of persons whose avocations call them to 



170 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

the neighbourhood. The members include M.P.s, par- 
liamentary agents, barristers, solicitors, engineers, con- 
tractors, and business men of many kinds ; and the 
institution, I believe, is found to be a useful success. 
For tbe public generally the popular resort appears to be- 
a restaurant, still lower down, where even now, to judge 
by appearances as you pass the window, lunch seems to- 
be going on. The lunches, however, at this hour, are 
not very numerous, and are confined, it may be presumed,, 
to people who have risen late and gone out in a hurry, 
and have not had time to breakfast. A couple of hours- 
hence, besides the occupants of the tables, you will see a 
luncher on every high stool before the counter, forming 
together a serried line of determined refreshers, escaped 
for a brief but pleasant period from their serious duties 
on the other side of Palace Yard. 

Palace Yard, which you now approach, has become a 
noble expanse, and it will be nobler when certain old 
houses are removed. But turning your back upon these, 
there is no such fine spectacle in London as that pre- 
sented by the Houses of Parliament and Westminster 
Hall, with the adjacent objects, including the handsomest 
bridge in the metropolis. If you are not a person of 
importance, which you probably are, you will at least 
fancy you are ; for the policeman at the crossing, struck, 
no doubt, by your imposing presence, rushes forward and 
behaves with despotic tyranny towards a waggon, a light 
cart, and a four-wheeled " grinder," which he compel* 
to draw up in order not to interfere with your progress. 
He would certainly exercise the same arbitrary authority 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 171 

towards a Hansom which is also amongst the vehicles 
emerging from the bridge ; but the Hansom cabby is too 
much for the minion of the law, and nearly drives over 
you while you are availing yourself of the facility afforded 
by judicious regulations. 

Inside the Hall of Rufus there are a great number of 
the same kind of persons as those who have accompanied 
you down Parliament Street, with the difference that 
the barristers, pacing up and down, or staying to talk in 
groups, are all wigged and gowned, and produce the 
inevitable impression which Mr. Dickens has made im- 
mortal, having reference to " that variety of nose and 
whisker for which the bar of England is so justly cele- 
brated." There are a great many idlers among these 
idlers in spite of themselves and some of them seem to 
find it difficult to keep up an appearance of pre-occupa- 
tion. It would be a very valuable addition to a legal 
education if its recipient could manage to throw into 
his face an expression w r hich should inevitably convey 
the idea to the public mind that he would be particularly 
wanted in court in a quarter of an hour. But I have 
never known perfect success attend an attempt of the 
kind : and the impression usually conveyed by a more or 
less unknown junior wandering about "Westminster Hall 
is, that it does not particularly matter where he may be. 
To-day one of this unhappy class has the temerity to 
take two ladies about, with an evident mission to show 
them the lions of the locality. You can see at once that 
they are not " parties " or witnesses. Parties and wit- 
nesses may be as young, as blooming, and as fashionably 



172 DO WN A T WESTMINS TEL'. 

dressed ; but they would never be so smiling and so 
easy, wear that pretty fluttering manner, and talk with 
such charmingly volatile rapidity as the fair creatures in 
question. I should mention by the way, for the sake of 
the proprieties, that, besides the barrister, they are ac- 
companied by a young gentleman who is evidently their 
brother, from the entire contempt with which he regards 
them and their proceedings. He gives them entirely up 
to their friend in the wig, who may be heard to say in 
the course of conversation 

" I think we might hear some fun in the House of 
Lords. They are engaged with appeals, and I think 

Miss is still addressing the court. This is her 

tenth day." 

The idea of hearing a lady conducting her own case 
finds immediate favour, and the party soon make their 
way to the bar of the House. As we also are idling and 1 
looking about us, we may as well follow them. 

They are very inhospitable to strangers in the House- 
of Lords, that is to say, when the House is sitting in its 
legal capacity. The court occupies a very small part of 
the legislative chamber, and the impression produced is 
that the members huddle together in order that they 
may not have to speak too loud. There is no accommo- 
dation even for counsel who are not engaged in the pro- 
ceedings, and very little allowance is made for -curiosity 
on the part of any class of persons ; but you are free to- 
push in at the bar and see and hear what you can. 

Upon the present occasion there are only two lords 
besides the Lord Chancellor, and only one of these an 






DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 173 

ex-Lord Chancellor himself appears to take any interest 
in the proceedings. The central object is the suitor. 
This, as we have already heard, is a lady. She is 
addressing the Court when we enter, seems to have been 
addressing it for some time past, and evidently intends 
to address it for some time in the future. As she stands 
behind a table, upon which her papers are placed, she is 
in advance of us, and we can catch a glimpse of her face 
only at intervals, when she turns aside to place her hand 
upon a document which she wishes to consult. But we 
can observe at first glance that she is a little lady rather 
than otherwise, that she has a neat, slender figure, care- 
fully and compactly clad in black, and that upon her head 
she wears a little hat, "of the period" as to size, and 
to some extent in the manner in which it is worn, but 
by no means exaggerated in any respect. Upon further 
observation you see that she has what is called a clever 
face, with an expression indicative of culture and refine- 
ment ; and the latter conclusion is justified by the voice, 
which is clear and ringing, and remarkable for its nice 
intonation. The lady, too, enjoys the advantage of an 
easy flow of language, which never halts for a point or 
an expression, and she has apparently a thorough mastery 
of her case. If the Lord Chancellor ventures to ques- 
tion a statement or criticise a conclusion, the fair pleader 
at once puts her little black-gloved hand upon the docu- 
ment containing her authority, and the great legal func- 
tionary is at once confuted. The next time he ventures 
an objection the same process is repeated, until his lord- 
ship at last seems to arrive at the belief that it is safest 



174 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

not to open his mouth. The other lords, when equally 
rash, meet with a similar fate ; so, by degrees, the lady 
has everything her own way, and continues her address 
unmolested. The composure with which she goes over 
her ground is something wonderful. There is no flurry, 
no undue excitement, and only a certain serious emphasis 
which her arguments receive distinguish her manner 
from that of an ordinary advocate, and indicate that she 
is pleading her own cause and has a strong interest in 
the case. She has near her a legal adviser in the person 
of a Queen's Counsel, but she seldom consults him, and 
seems indeed to know her own business remarkably well. 
This is the tenth day of her address, and it threatens to 
last for many days more : it would be rash indeed to cal- 
culate when it is likely to conclude. The case, it may 
be here mentioned, is a very complicated one, involving 
a question of legitimacy ; the documents connected with 
it are of a voluminous character, and the lady has a 
great tendency to read these at length, to refresh herself, 
through their agency, in the intervals of original argu- 
ment. How the case will end I will not venture to sur- 
mise, but the reflection certainly strikes one that if ladies 
get called to the bar and advocate other people's cases 
with the persistency that they do their own, the proceed- 
ings of the courts will be considerably lengthened, and 
far greater demands than under present conditions will 
be made upon the endurance of the judges. 

Happily we are doing no more than amuse ourselves ; 
so, after half an hour's acquaintance with the great legi- 
timacy case, we are content to follow the example set a 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 175 

quarter of an hour before of the young barrister and his 
interesting friends, and betake ourselves elsewhere. 

There are several committees sitting up- stairs, and see- 
ing a throng of persons proceeding thither we follow them, 
as in curiosity bound. The Commons' gallery is crowded 
with counsel, solicitors, agents, witnesses, and all the rest 
of the people of whom we have seen so many specimens 
in Parliament Street; for one of the rooms has just been 
cleared for the deliberation of the committee. Some are 
walking up and down ; others are standing about in 
groups ; everybody is talking ; there is general excitement 
and some little hilarity on the part of those belonging to 
the apparently winning side. The witnesses are, as usual, 
more lively than anybody else. It is all holiday with 
them, far away as they are from their provincial homes ; 
and their feet not being upon their native heaths, their 
names are all the more Macgregor. They begin already 
to take refreshment at the adjacent buffet, to compare 
notes as to who stayed latest, or did something most 
remarkable somewhere last night, and to make arrange- 
ments for dining together this evening and going to some 
entertainment afterwards the words "Gaiety" and 
" Alhambra " being not unfrequently heard in such dis- 
cussions. Mingled with this kind of talk you hear a great 
deal about corporations, town councils, water supplies, pre- 
ambles, clauses, traffic, trade, shipping, curves, gradients, 
and engineering in general to any extent. An Irish Bill 
which is under investigation in one- of the rooms is a fre- 
quent subject of conversation. It is connected with the 
supply of water to a large city, and a certain corporation 



176 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

is more anxious, somehow, to confer the boon than the 
ratepayers are to receive it. We enter the room in ex- 
pectation of some amusement, and are not disappointed. 

It is a spacious and imposing apartment, conceived when 
the architect was in a massive mood, but with compen- 
sating tendencies towards lightness. The oak panelling 
and the window-frames are in antique style, but designed 
with a modern eye to business. The fashion is bold, 
with no gratuitous ornament. It is mediaevalism made 
easy ; medievalism made light and cheerful, and receiv- 
ing a modern character from green baize, blotting-paper, 
and wafers. At the upper end of the room, within the 
bar which excludes the profane public, is a table of horse- 
shoe shape, at the upper end of which, on the convex 
side, sit the committee. On the right looking from the 
lower end of the room is an exclusive table occupied by 
the clerk of the committee, who makes minutes of the 
proceedings. In the centre of the horseshoe is another 
exclusive table, occupied by a shorthand writer, engaged, 
I suppose, by the promoters, whose business it is to take 
a full note that is to say, take every word of what 
passes. There are reporters for the press also, at another 
table, in a corner ; but their office can scarcely be an 
arduous one, judging from the little you ever see in the 
newspapers of proceedings before Parliamentary Commit- 
tees. At a long table in front are the counsel, agents, 
attorneys, &c. 

One of the counsel a silk gown is addressing the 
committee ; but the members thereof do not seem to be 
listening with much attention. Their attitude is one of 






DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 177 

keen and appreciative indifference ; and but for an occa- 
sional question in reference to a doubtful point you would 
think that they were not listening at all. The fact is 
that they are following the statement with much attention 
with more, indeed, than they would bestow upon the 
speeches of counsel in general ; for the committee are for 
the most part men of business in a parliamentary way, 
but still men of business and regard counsel prim a facie 
as impostors. But the counsel in question is a great 
man. He is one of the leaders of the parliamentary bar. 
He is allied to noble families, and makes fabulous sums 
of money. So the committee pay him some kind of de- 
ference when they make any sign at all ; and when they 
speak to him it is always with social respect. They 
address him by his full name a double surname and 
always with a certain graciousness, even upon a point of 
difference. It is always " Excuse me, Mr. Verbose 
Jawkins, but I do not quite understand;" or, " I think, 
Mr. Verbose Jawkins, that the committee have some dif- 
ficulty" and so forth. Mr. Verbose Jawkins, in the 
meantime (he is a big, bland, handsome man, with a 
grand society manner) is gliding through his brief in 
the pleasantest possible style, patronizing his facts, and 
setting forth his conclusions as if they were so many 
friends of his, who must make their way upon his intro- 
duction. He has to refer a great deal to his papers, and 
is occasionally coached by the keen gentleman at his 
elbow. But he talks all the time that he is reading ; and 
when he pauses for verbal suggestions, always does so with 
the air of being unnecessarily interrupted, and, after re- 



178 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

ceiving enlightenment in this manner, corrects previous 
statements of his own with a severe air, as if they had 
been made hy somebody else. In this manner he goes on 
for forty minutes ; and then, after a peroration which 
shows that he at least is quite convinced, runs away and 
leaves the rest of the business to his juniors. He has 
during the forty minutes been opening the case for the pro- 
moters, and his fee for this little attention is five hundred 
guineas, to say nothing for refreshers and consultations. 

Mr. Verbose Jawkins being wanted in another com- 
mittee, the examination of witnesses is proceeded with 
under the conduct of juniors, as I have intimated. But 
all goes well. Never were witnesses more willing ; never 
were counsel more alive to the importance of their com- 
munications. One of the witnesses is an elderly gentle- 
man, and the counsel who examines him is a very young 
gentleman. The former, in fact, is the father of the 
latter ; but the coincidence of names is apparently not 
noticed, and the examination goes on as glibly as 
may be. 

The counsel looks as if he had never seen the witness 
before. Referring to his brief, apparently for informa- 
tion, he says 

"Your name, I think, sir, is Mulligan?" 

" It is, replies Mr. Mulligan, with an evident desire 
for frankness and fair play. 

" You are an alderman, I think, of the city of 
rejoins the counsel, determined, in the interests of his 
clients, that their witnesses shall speak with the authority 
of the offices they hold. 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER, 179 

"I am," says the witness, taking upon himself, with 
Homan fortitude, the responsibility involved. 

" Then, Mr. Mulligan," pursues the counsel, " I shall 
be obliged if you will tell the honourable committee " 
and so forth. Junior counsel, I notice, are generally par- 
ticular in referring to the committee as the honourable 

<- 

committee, which is a deferential concession not strictly 
enjoined by etiquette. I suppose they think that it looks 
parliamentary ; and perhaps it does. 

While the examination of the witness is being thus 
agreeably conducted, lunch-time arrives. There is no 
adjournment for this refreshment, and, indeed, the com- 
mittee alone seemed to be influenced by the event. At 
about two o'clock stealthy waiters creep in and bring to 
the members small plates of sandwiches and little cruets 
of what appears to be sherry, the latter being imbibed 
from tumblers with the addition of water. As a general 
rule, members take in their lunch with an air of reserve, 
as if it were statistics which might be outbid, or argu- 
ments to be subsequently refuted. But one of the num- 
ber I notice receives his with relish, as if he believed in 
it, and intended to give an opinion in its favour. Coun- 
sel are evidently not supposed to require extraneous sup- 
port in common with the other assistants at the' proceed- 
ings. Some, I suppose, are too busy ; others too idle. 
Among the latter the clerk, I think, must be held to bear 
the palm. He is a young man always a young man 
scrupulously dressed, with an eye to dignity rather than 
display ; and like all officials with too much leisure, he 
seems to hold work in supreme contempt. He does a 



180 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

great deal in the fresh disposition, from time to time, of 
his papers, but has little employment for his pen. I sus- 
pect that he considers the actors in the scene as so many 
harmless lunatics, who have a raison d'etre for his espe- 
cial benefit, which benefit is rather a bore than otherwise. 
The most occupied person is one who has no formal recog- 
nition. He is the shorthand writer at the centre table, 
close by which is the chair assigned for the accommoda- 
tion of the witnesses. His pen never ceases so long as 
anything is being said. He gets a little holiday if the 
counsel read something already on record, have to wait a 
minute or two for a document, or pause while refreshing 
themselves with facts ; but these are but brief oases in 
the desert of his labours. He has one advantage, how- 
ever, which those otherwise engaged do not enjoy. I 
suspect that he knows nothing of what is passing, and, 
while pursuing an almost mechanical task, is able to think 
about anything he pleases. He certainly never seems to 
take the smallest interest in the proceedings. The re- 
porters for the press, who are digesting them into narra- 
tive form, evince something like an opinion, as you may 
hear in remarks from time to time, or see in the expres- 
sion of their faces. But the official stenographer is un- 
moved as the Sphynx, and takes no account of the mean- 
ing of the words his business is only with the words 
themselves. He does not even feel bound to see ; and I 
believe that if the chairman were to take his seat with 
his head under his arm, this imperturbable functionary 
would not consider himself called upon to record the fact. 
I have heard of a gentleman of this class, on the staff of 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 181 

a daily journal, being sent at Easter or Christmas time,, 
when critics are in great request, to write a review of a 
theatrical performance. He attended with note-book and 
pencils as soon as the doors opened, was a little puzzled 
at the overture, but brightened up when the play began,, 
and then proceeded cheerfully to take a full note of 
" Romeo and Juliet " from beginning to end. He was 
rather surprised, on arriving afterwards at the office, to 
find that he would not be required to " write out " th& 
result of his labour?. Upon another occasion, it is added, 
he was deputed to furnish an account of an eclipse of the 
sun which was exciting unusual attention. He attended 
with characteristic punctuality, note-book in hand, and 
waited with great patience during the progress of the 
event. But as nobody connected with the business in 
hand was heard to make any remark, he conceived that 
he had nothing to do, so contented himself with sending 
in a report that " the proceedings were devoid of interest." 
Such men as these are fortunate if they have much to do- 
with parliamentary committees ; for they escape from a 
great deal that is boring to other people. 

There is nothing remarkable in the cross-examination 
of the witnesses, as far as the opposing counsel are con- 
cerned. But there is a gentleman representing a par- 
ticular body of ratepayers, whose interests are affected by 
the Bill in a particular manner, who is not a barrister,, 
but an attorney, and he imports into the proceedings any 
amount of liveliness that may be missed by his brethren 
of the law. He is a North -of -Ireland man, and does not 
care who knows it. His accent, indeed, proclaims the- 



182 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

fact in unmistakeable tones. The question involved has 
nothing to do with politics ; hut the importation of tho 
Orange element seems inevitable in his case. Before he 
begins to speak, you can see " No surrender " visibly 
depicted on his countenance ; and were he to volunteer to 
sing "Boyne "Water," in illustration of his case, you 
would consider the song as a matter of course. He 
bullies the witnesses with forty-barrister power, and in 
the intervals of his questions persists, in defiance of all 
rule, upon addressing the committee in a similar strain. 
He is told that he must not do anything of the kind, so 
he does it more and more ; and when he has abused 
everybody else he takes to abusing the committee itself 
Like the gentleman of debating tendencies, who applied 
for the situation at the Bank, and was asked to state his 
qualifications, he " combines the most powerful invective 
with the wildest humour," and he treats his audience to 
.an unlimited supply of both. The committee at first da 
not exactly know how to meet this kind of attack. They 
are protected in the House by the Sergeant- at- Arms, but 
here there is no functionary responsible for the preserva- 
tion of order. A judge in court can invest an usher 
with terrible powers upon an occasion of the kind ; but 
the committee have no usher, nor any analogous official. 
So, after enduring this belligerent advocate considerably 
beyond the limits of endurance, they order -him to sit 
down 'and be silent. As well might they order a hur- 
ricane to take a calm view of affairs. The belligerent 
advocate only goes harder to work, and in connection, | 
.somehow, with a water supply and the rights of rate- 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 18$ 

payers, we have again a furious tirade, in which the siege 
of Derry figures in a prominent manner, and "Boyne 
Water " becomes imminent. So in this dilemma the 
committee speak to somebody. I believe the somebody 
is the clerk, who has a great deal in common with the 
stenographer, and is sitting patiently during the scene, 
considering it no business of his, as he cannot see his- 
way to including it in the minutes of the proceedings. 
That functionary seems, however, aroused at last to the 
consciousness that something is the matter ; and I fancy 
that it is through his agency that a messenger is found r 
and a policeman appears upon the scene. But one 
policeman is nothing to a belligerent advocate, with his 
head full of 'prentice- boys at Derry. No surrender, 
the victory of the Boyne, the glorious, pious, and im- 
mortal memory of King William, and the rights of 
wronged ratepayers, all at the same time ; and he makes 
a sturdy resistance to authority. So more policemen 
are called ; and when four of those functionaries have- 
arrived it is found that constitutional rights are con- 
trollable, and that even resistance to the water supply 
may be kept within proper bounds. By this I mean 
that it is possible to eject the belligerent advocate not 
merely push him out by the neck and shoulders, but 
carry him out by the arms and legs which extreme 
process is duly performed, despite protests which, I am 
sorry to say, besides the action of the tongue, are inti- 
mately associated with the hands and feet. The belli- 
gerent advocate, in fact, fights like a kangaroo, which is 
said to stand upon its tail, and use its four extremities at 



184 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

once as aggressive agents. The efforts of the police, 
however, are in the end successful, and the belligerent 
advocate is carried to the gallery outside, where he is 
left to finish his speech as he best may to a crowd of 
clerks and idlers. The business of the committee is then 
resumed. 

The consideration of the Bill is likely to occupy a 
great many days. Meanwhile let us look into another 
committee-room. Here the scene is very similar to that 
presented in the adjacent apartment. At first sight you 
would say that there were the same walls and windows, 
ihe same horseshoe table, the same committee, the same 
clerk, and the same shorthand writer. I cannot say 
the same counsel, for there are no counsel at all. The 
subject of investigation is connected with the registration 
of voters, and the witnesses are examined by the mem- 
bers of the committee themselves. Glancing again at 
ihe latter, you observe that they consist of prominent 
political men, including several Cabinet Ministers, the 
latter of whom are remarkably reticent, and seem bent 
upon acquiring information for their own purposes, as 
they doubtless are. The proceedings are very dull, and 
-do not repay the uninterested listener, who is unlikely to 
make a long stay. In another room a railway Bill ia 
undergoing investigation. It is an auxiliary to the 
Metropolitan line, and a great map of the route is affixed 
to the wall. We come next to an apartment where 
several little bottles of water are engaging the attention 
of the committee, and several scientific gentlemen are 
explaining the results of their investigation into tho 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 185- 

quality of the more or less pure liquid. But there is 
nothing very interesting in all this, and a proposal 
to descend once more into Westminster Hall will pro- 
bably meet with approbation. 

All the Courts are sitting, and the proceedings in each 
must concern a great number of persons. But there is 
one court the one whose entrance is the farthest from 
Palace Yard, and the nearest, therefore, to the steps we 
are now descending which seems to have a peculiar- 
interest for the public. There is a large crowd outside, 
the members of which are evidently incredulous of the- 
policeman's assurance that there is no room for them 
within. But they can scarcely fail to concede the fact 
when they see the concourse which pours forth when the- 
doors are presently opened ; for it is now the middle 
of the day, and the Court has adjourned for refresh- 
ment. 

In either body the idlers are predominant. Scores 
upon scores of these seem to spend their days down at 
Westminster, with no apparent object but to obtain gra- 
tuitous entertainment of a dramatic character. In this 
object, however, they must be frequently disappointed ;. 
for, although many cases in court may be "as good as a 
play," a great deal depends upon what play they are as- 
good as. They may be a great deal better than some- 
plays, and yet not be amusing. But I suspect that many 
of these mysterious people, who patiently sit out the- 
long hours when everybody else wishes to get away, have 
a stronger inducement than mere amusement. Some- 
are so mouldy in appearance, and so abject in their man- 



186 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

ners, that they must surely come for shelter and some- 
thing like society. It is a distraction, I suppose, for 
these unhappy men to concern themselves about other 
people's business rather than their own. I say men, but 
there are some women among them, and their case is still 
more anomalous. They come in couples, never alone, as 
the men always do, and instead of being abject in their 
manners, take up a tone of smart cynicism when com- 
menting upon the proceedings to one another. To judge 
from their remarks, which I have overheard from time 
to time, I suspect these ladies to be under the fixed and 
unchangeable belief that her Majesty's judges are a set 
of old villains who have themselves been guilty of most 
of the delinquencies upon which they sit in judgment, 
and that the counsel less wicked than the judges only I 
because they are younger are all habitual liars, and 
hate truth as another person, to whom their fair critics 
frequently compare them, is said to hate holy water.. 
Further, I believe the said fair critics to entertain the 
impression that no poor man or woman can possibly 
obtain justice in a court of law. 

This class of persons men and women form, 
have said, the majority of those who emerge from 
court, which court, it may be here mentioned, is no other 
than the Court for the trial of Matrimonial Causes, 
otherwise known as the Divorce Court. But many of 
those concerned in the proceedings also come forth, and 
either go off to lunch or distribute themselves in groups 
about the Hall. A case of unusual interest is to be taken 
presently, and the parties appear to be all present. Tl 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 1ST 

' well-built gentleman with the objectionably curled 
whiskers and the somewhat simpering smile, who is- 

f dressed with such scrupulous care and regard for conven- 
tional authenticity, I take at once to he the co-respondent. 
What nonsense it is to judge people by appearances. 
The only co-respondent present (and he belongs ta 

. another case), I afterwards find to be that ugly, brutal- 

; looking man with a black beard, whose countenance, 
.sufficient to convict him elsewhere, ought to be his best 
defence in the Divorce Court and would be, probably, 
were the Court a less experienced tribunal. The gentle- 
man with the curled whiskers walks off with a lady, and 
promenades with her up and down the Hall. The fact I 
find to be that he is the lady's solicitor, who is giving her 

| some parting words of advice previous to her appearance 
in the box ; for the lady, it seems, is the petitioner, not 

I the respondent, and will be the first witness called. She 
is a charming creature, the petitioner : gushing to a fault ; 
with fair, fluffy, and fashionable hair, and no bonnet to 
>peak of, as regards its size, though the accessory is cal- 

! culated in every other respect to inspire admiring re- 
mark. Her costume well, it is one of those complete 
Iresses which are especially called " costumes" by 
milliners. Altogether her array is admirably calculated 
o encourage her natural gifts and graces ; and it would 
be difficult to conceive a more perfect object of sympathy 
except that she shows no sign of having been ill- 
:reated. Her husband, I am informed, is not to be seen 
n the Hall. He is probably in court. But some of his 
.vitnesses are there ; for the monster, it seems, intends to 



188 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

defend the case. The witnesses pointed out to me are a 
couple of women one said to be a cook, while the face of 
the other says " charwoman" as plainly as countenance 
can speak. These two worthies are sitting together upon 
the steps of the court discussing some sandwiches which 
they had brought with them in a basket, and enlivening 
their collation by frequent appeals to a flat bottle contain- 
ing a white liquid which, other things being equal, might 
be mistaken for water. The naked eye, indeed, might 
make the mistake, but the naked nose never ; besides, 
they take it in measured doses from a wine-glass, which 
is a mark of attention that people seldom pay to liquid in 
its virgin condition. The fair creatures seem to be 
greatly entertained by their conversation, which has 
partly reference to the particulars of the case just con- 
cluded, and partly to their expectations of the case about 
to commence. They are not long in anxiety concerning 
the latter ; for the judge is now found to have taken his 
seat, and there is a general rush into the court. We get 
foremost places never mind how and are able both to 
hear and see. 

The petitioner's counsel, like her solicitor, is a " ladies* 
lawyer" a Q.C., and a highly successful man in his 
profession. He tempers firmness with the utmost suavity, 
and his appearance generally is greatly in his favour. 
He is none of your slovenly barristers who. wear slat- 
ternly robes, crumpled bauds, and wigs that have not 
been dressed for years. His appointments are all neat 
and compact, like himself generally, and he even carries 
his regard for the Graces so far as to wear gloves, unlike 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 189^ 

most men at the bar, who fancy, I suppose, that clients 
and attorneys think them unbusiness-iike. He states 
the petitioner's case with all the eloquence of which he is 
master; and such a course of insult and injury as he 
narrates one could scarcely suppose to be exercised to- 
wards so fair a victim except by a monster in human 
form. Not, however, that such is the appearance of the 
respondent, who is now pointed out to us, sitting at the 
solicitor's table. He looks a mere boy; a little dissi- 
pated, perhaps, in appearance, but more foolish than any- 
thing else. I believe his mental condition to be induced, 
not by insanity, as some of his friends have tried to make 
out, but a strong determination of blackguardism to the 
head. Looking at the petitioner, one cannot help hoping 
that he will prove the M. in H. F. which he is repre- 
sented to be. 

The petitioner is called upon in due course for her 
evidence. There are some ladylike delays, as there 
always are in such cases. First, the usher tells her that 
she must remove her right glove, as preliminary to hold- 
ng " the book." "What a pity that she was not apprised 
of this necessity a quarter of an hour before ! Gloves, 
that fit like gloves are not got off in a hurry ; so there is 
a little delay, not made less by the confusion of the 
wearer, who is evidently conscious that the eyes of 
Europe are upon her. Then the judge tells her that she 
must lift her veil. He has a notion that the short 
spotted piece of net which the lady wears stretched across 
her face can be thrown over her head on the shortest 



190 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

notice. Nothing of the kind. She has to unpin it, and 
take it bodily off. " So very provoking," as she after- 
wards remarks ; " before the whole Court, too !" I am 
bound to say that she looks far more injured without her 
veil than with it ; for a pretty little spotted thing which 
throws up the delicacy of the complexion is not so well 
calculated to inspire pity as it ought to be. The good 
impression which she has already created is confirmed by 
the manner in which she gives her evidence somewhat 
reluctantly, and with the sympathizing assistance of the 
junior counsel, but consistently and to the purpose. She 
is not unagitated, as you may suppose, and at one point 
in her statement drops the glove which has been with- 
drawn. This is picked up at once by the taxing-master 
of the court, who retains it during the remainder of her 
examination, and then hands it back with a chivalrous 
air, such as would not have been expected from so prosaic 
an official. 

At last, after having been thoroughly stared out of 
countenance by everybody in court for twenty minutes or 
so, and made the subject of sotto wee commentary of an 
improving kind on every side, the petitioner resumes her 
place in front of her counsel, her first care being to re- 
attach the spotted veil, which she does with the aid of a 
young person of most exemplary appearance, looking like 
a governess with a grievance, by whom she is accom- 
panied. The glove she resumes at her leisure. 

Some evidence follows in support of her case, whi 
seems as strong a one as could well be. But the 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 191 

spondent has a case also, and his, too, is not without 
support. The cook and the charwoman, inspired by 
their lunch, compromise themselves so completel}' that 
they are told one after the other to stand down ; hut the 
evidence of a gentleman who follows them is decidedly 
damaging to the petitioner. He makes some unexpected 
statements, indeed, which the other side shows no signs 
of meeting. When the time comes, however, when he is 
open to cross-examination, the junior counsel for the 
petitioner, who has never held a brief before, makes, 
from the freshness of his inexperience, a suggestion to his 
senior, to which the senior, after some hesitation, accedes. 
The witness, it should be here stated, bears a name not 
unknown as a novelist, but the fact has not yet appeared 
before the Court. 

Ignoring loftily the allegations made by the witness, 
the junior proceeds in this fashion with his cross-exami- 
nation : 

Counsel. " I believe, sir, that among your other avoca- 
tions you are a writer for the press ? " 

Witness. " I am." 

C. " You are a writer of fiction, I believe ? " 

W. " Yes, I write novels." 

C. " You write from your imagination, I think ; you 
invent what you put into your books ?" 

W. " I certainly do not take my writings from other 
people." 

C. " And what you write is not true ?" 

W. " I do not pretend it to be so." 

C. " Oh ! you do not pretend it to be so. So every- 



192 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER 

thing you write is simply lies ; there is not a word of 

truth in any of your works ?" 

W. " They are written from the imagination." 

C. "Do not prevaricate, sir ; remember, you are upon. 

your oath. Have you been writing truth, or have you 

been writing lies ? " 

W. " Well, lies, since you will have it so." 

C. " Very well, sir. And for how long have you been 

writing nothing but lies ?" 

W. "I must really appeal to his lordship, whether I 

am to be subjected " 

Judge, " You had better answer the counsel, sir." 
C. "I repeat, for how many years have you been 

writing nothing but lies ?" 

W. "Well, since you will have it so about twel 

years." 

C. " Very well, sir ; it would have been much better 

to have told us so candidly at first. And you have a 

mother, I think, who also writes lies ?" 

W. " I have a mother who used to write novels." 
C. " This is very sad that I cannot induce you to 

definite in your terms. For how many years did y 

mother write lies ?" 

W. " She wrote for about twenty years." 

C. " And during that time never wrote a word 

truth ?" 

W. " I suppose not, in the sense you mean." 

C. " That will do, sir. You have been writing nothi 

but lies for the last twelve years, and your mother wr 

nothing but lies for twenty years before. I need n< 



Cll 

. 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

question you as to your statements concerning my clients, 
as the court and the jury must have formed their own 
opinion upon that subject. You may now stand down, 
sir." 

The witness's testimony is thus triumphantly shaken 
a fact of which the leader does not fail to make use in his 
reply. The judge tells the jury that they need not trouble 
themselves about the facts elicited in cross-examination ; 
but the jury are evidently impressed with the lying pro- 
pensities of the witness, and return a verdict for the peti- 
tioner without leaving the box. 

A friend tells me that my memory is misleading me, 
and that the case to which I refer was not tried in the 
Divorce Court. It may be so ; but it is nevertheless true 
that, even in such a well-conducted tribunal as that of 
Lord Penzance, a pretty petitioner excites more interest 
than an ugly one, and a bold line of cross-examination 
will sometimes materially assist a case. 

We turn next into another court, where nothing less 
interesting than a breach of promise of marriage case is 
being tried. 

The experience of most persons, I fancy, would tend to 
the conclusion that the offences which lead to actions of 
this nature are continually being committed in all classes 
of society, and that the occasional cases which we hear of 
in the courts are but a small proportion of the number. 
Et is seldom, indeed, that we find an instance in which 
both of the parties belong to the upper ranks ; for it is 
mly under very exceptional circumstances that persons 
)f high social status would voluntarily submit to the expo- 

H 






194 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

sure involved. As a general rule, the plaintiff or the 
defendant, or, it may be, both the one and the other, are 
of eccentric character, whose courtship has been removed 
from the ordinary conditions which precede matrimony. 
There are usually discrepancies as to age, or station, or 
money, or good sense, or good looks ; and the revelations 
to which the proceedings lead frequently bring before us 
the strangest pictures of life. Here, for instance, is one 
as developed in evidence to-day. The plaintiff and de- 
fendant stand in the same relation to one another as 
the plaintiff and defendant in the case of "Bardellfl. 
Pickwick " that is to say, Mrs. Brown let lodgings, and 
Mr. Jones lived in them otherwise there is not much 
resemblance between the two cases. Mrs. Brown was a 
widow with two children. She enjoyed a combination of 
personal characteristics which, as her counsel reminded 
the court, might, upon Royal authority, be considered 
attractions ; that is to say, she was " fair, fat, and forty," 
though it seems that she did not, in the opinion of those 
who saw her in court, look anything like the age which 
was considered so charming by his late Majesty George the 
Fourth. Mr. Jones, described by the plaintiff's counsel 
to be about fifty-five, but " guessed " by one of the wit- 
nesses to be nearly twenty years older, is evidently, from 
his appearance an aged man, is paralysed besides, and 
has been so for some years, though one of the witnesses 
says that " he sometimes got better." He is, however, 
capable of enjoying life in his own way, which way seems 
to be by no means disassociated with amusements out ol 
doors. Thus it appears that he has been in the habit o: 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 195 

accompanying Mrs. Jones, her two children, and his par- 
ticular friend Mr. Robinson, a retired builder, to music- 
halls and similar places of recreation ; and not only Mr. 
Robinson, but the cabman who drove them about, is 
stated to have been aware of the understanding between 
him and the fair not to say fat and forty widow. Mr. 
Robinson's view of the matter was that Mr. Brown, by 
proposing such an alliance, was " going to make an old 
fool of himself; " but it is to be feared that Mr. Robin- 
son's opinion was not quite disinterested, for he admitted 
that he lived not only with, but " upon " the defendant, 
in whose premises he must have been rather at home than 
otherwise; for, according to his own comprehensive ac- 
count, he slept there, he breakfasted there, he dined there, 
he supped there, and he "grogged" there. The force of 
living with a man, one would think, could no farther go. 
In return for this slight accommodation he was in the 
habit of giving defendant such little assistance as his infir- 
mities might require ; and the idea of being displaced by 
such an intrusion as a wife, seems to have been peculiarly 
listasteful to him. For the defendant, it should be 
observed, was a rich man for his station in life, and 
lid not care who knew it," for he had cards announcing 
;hat he was " a widower and gentleman," and was so 
' described in the books of the Bank of England," and 
urther, that he had an office where he lent money. He 
old his friends that he had nearly five thousand pounds in 
he Bank, and that he would settle four thousand of it upon 
he plaintiff. The cabman, who, in consequence of being 
irly employed to drive the party about on their plea- 

H2 



196 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

sures, seems to have been quite on intimate terms, deposed 
that the defendant spoke about the lady " in a jocular 
way," the jocularity consisting, as he explained, some- 
what to the surprise of the judge, in saying that she was 
a very nice woman, and that he intended to marry her. 
The cabman, too, was able to tell that he had driven Mr. 
Jones to Doctors' Commons, and saw him get a marriage- 
licence, and present it to Mrs. Brown. Nay, more, he 
certified that the defendant had given a material guaran- 
tee of his honourable intentions in a manner, I fancy, 
hitherto unknown to courtship, having ordered a brass 
plate with his own name to be placed upon her door, and 
adorned the portal with a touching mark of his affection 
in the form of a new knocker. It might be said that 
"he who adored her had left but the name," and that, 
notwithstanding the knocker, he did not care a rap about 
her. But such things are difficult to conceive ; and th 
evidence discloses every appearance of the fact, that i 
ever man meant seriously towards a lady, that man was 
Mr. Jones. 

But he failed in his troth after all. "We are prover 
bially told that one power proposes, and another dis 
poses ; but Mr. Jones did both. He had proposed to 
Mrs. Brown, and then he felt disposed not to have her 
Hence the present action. The defence, as frequentlj 
happens in breach- of-promise cases, is that the defendan 
was not worth having ; and he certainly presents a help 
less and generally abject appearance in court. But ap 
pearances of the kind are not always implicitly rclie< 
upon by judges and experienced juries. A wealth} 






DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 197 

farmer, under similar circumstances, has been known to 
present himself before the tribunal in the guise of a farm 
labourer, in a smockfrock, with haybands round his legs, 
a pitchfork in his hand, and presenting generally, in his 
language and deportment, a picture of Cymon before he 
fell in love with Iphigenia. Such stooping to conquer 
is usually appreciated by spectators, and there is evidently 
a suspicion in the present case that Mr. Jones's miserable 
make-up has been overdone. Both Mr. Robinson and 
the cabman distinctly state that he was a very different 
person during his courtship looked well fed, was well 
dressed, wore jewellery, and took care of himself gene- 
rally. So his counsel's appeal cannot, evidently, be sus- 
tained upon the grounds urged ; and the judge directing 
that the question is simply one of damages, the jury 
assess them at a good round sum evidently beyond the 
expectations of the lady's counsel, who, in the absence of 
any allegation of damaged affections, had not anticipated 
that a business-like view of her loss of position would 
have produced so much. But the element of hazard 
enters considerably into the finding of juries, as we all 
know. 

The next case is of a commonplace character, and 
there is nothing to note except a couple of stories then 
and there told to me, of a similar number of counsel 
present. One is a tall man, who looks principally keen, 
but has a great turn for humour, and will make any case 
in which he is engaged amusing. He has a large practice 
now, but a very few years ago he had none at all, and 
was glad to hold any brief with which his more fortunate 



198 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

friends might entrust him. One of these was a very 
eminent member of the bar, who happened one day to 
have a particularly bad case, which, scandal has it, he 
felt particularly inclined to shirk. It was a bill case of a 
very disgraceful kind, and his client was on the wrong 
side ; so, under the plea of business elsewhere, he handed 
over his brief to the faithful junior, and sought refuge in 
another court. Half an hour afterwards he was in West- 
minster Hall, taking his ease in legal meditation fancy 
free, when the faithful junior was seen rushing out of 
court with his gown torn nearly off his shoulders, his 
hands rather more behind than before, and his wig 
scarcely asserting a connection with the wearer's head. 

" "Well, how have you got on ? " asked the great man, 
smiling, and declining to notice the other's confusion. 

" Got on ! " was the agitated answer ; " the bill is 
impounded, the witnesses are ordered not to leave the 
court, the attorney is to be struck off the rolls, and I 
I have with difficulty escaped ! " 

What a charming thing it is to be a great man at the 
bar so that you can leave embarrassing cases of the kind 
to faithful juniors ! 

The other member of the bar to whom I have alluded 
is a very severe-looking person, who enjoys a great deal 
of what is said to have been Lord Thurlow's privilege 
that of looking a great deal wiser than any man ever 
was. Did I say that I heard only one story connected 
with him? I should have said two. One is to this 
effect. When a young man he has learned a great 
deal since then, I have no doubt he held the office of 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 199 

judge in a small colony. He was the sole occupant of 
the bench, so he carried everything his own way. One 
day a member of the local bar disputed his ruling upon 
a certain point, and appealed to printed authority in 
support of his position. The judge's account of the 
incident, as given by himself, is said to be this : ""Would 
you believe it one of my own bar had the impertinence 
to tell me that he was right and that I was wrong, and 
he appealed to a law book to support him his own 
book, and the only one in the colony." 

" And what did you do ?" was the natural question. 

" What did I do ? " was the indignant answer ; " there 
was only one thing to do ; I borrowed the book from 
him, and lost it, so that we shall hear no more scandal of 
that kind." 

A prisoner brought before him on a charge of theft 
pleaded " guilty/' The judge explained to him that 
he was not obliged to take this course, but might have 
the benefit of a trial ; so the prisoner pleaded " not 
guilty." The jury acquitted him ; upon which the 
judge, addressing the accused, said, in his most severe 
manner 

"Prisoner at the bar, you have confessed yourself a 
thief, and the jury have found you a liar begone from 
my sight." 

"We are now in another court, where an unusual scene 
is presented to a stranger. He has surely come into a 
convent ! There are nuns on all sides of him, varied by 
a few priests ! At a second glance, however, he is 
assured of the fact. He has not come into a convent, 
but a convent has come into court. There is a nun in. 



200 DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 

the witness-box a mother or a sister, which is it? 
Some of the mothers are as young as some of the 
sisters. She is certainly younger than most of the nuns 
present, has a comely face and figure, and the clearest of 
complexions. She gives her evidence which has refer- 
ence to a late member of the community who has been 
expelled, and the legality of whose expulsion is being 
tried by the court with an artless innocence which inte- 
rests all present. She is the best witness that the 
defendants have had on their behalf for some members 
of the order were not more engaging in appearance than 
nuns need be, and cannot be considered to have given 
their evidence without a strong feeling against the 
plaintiff. This same plaintiff, who sits in front of the 
counsel, with her face towards the bench, has been the 
main object of public attention for a fortnight past, and 
her case promises to engage the court for days still to 
come. She is closely veiled, and the curious public have 
not been able to see her face since she gave her evidence 
in the box. She talks sometimes to an old gentleman 
and a young lady who sit on either side of her the 
latter understood to be her sister but otherwise shows 
little signs of animation. The sister, by the way, is of 
the period, periody, and her elaborate coiffure, bonnet, 
and robes, contrast strangely with the muffled figure, in 
deep black, of the ex-nun. The latter made out a strong 
case in the beginning, but it has been weakened consi- 
derably by the character of the defence ; and the revela- 
tions of convent life, made on the one side or the other, 
have at least not been so alarming as they were expected 
to be by the public. Still the impression upon the minds 



DOWN AT WESTMINSTER. 201 

of those who have watched the proceedings is that the 
girl has been harshly treated, and it is generally expected 
that she will get a verdict, with tolerably substantial 
damages. And here it may be mentioned as I am not 
adhering to unity as to time, and have not confined 
myself to any one day " down at Westminster/' that 
the end justified the anticipations, as far as the court was 
concerned. How far the case can be considered con- 
cluded remains to be seen. 

At four o'clock the committees close their proceedings, 
the Speaker of the House of Commons being announced 
in the different rooms as " at prayers ;" and the Hall is 
once more full of the moving life from upstairs. Some 
of the courts, too, have risen, and are pouring forth their 
quota to the crowd. There is a large assembly of the 
public, moreover, in the Hall, waiting to see the members 
go into the House ; and there is a great deal of cheering 
and counter- demonstration as certain statesmen are re- 
cognised. For a great question, of a constitutional cha- 
racter, is before the legislature, and popular feeling runs 
strongly on both sides. In a short time the last court 
will have closed, and all engaged therein will have disap- 
peared, except those of the lawyers who are members of 
the House. These have a laborious time of it, and must 
perhaps attend in their places for two or three hours 
before they can get away to dine, either in the House or 
elsewhere. So those of the public who choose to remain, 
must transfer their interest to anew direction. 



THE OLD BAILEY. 




THE JUDGE. 



THE Old Bailey ! Ugly words associated (in a Lon- 
doner's mind, at all events) with greasy squalor," crime of 
every description, a cold, bleak-looking prison, with an 
awful little iron door, three feet or so from the ground, 
trial by jury, black caps, bullying counsel, a " visibly 
affected" judge, prevaricating witnesses, and a miserable, 
trembling, damp prisoner in a dock. The Old Bailey 



THE OLD BAILEY. 203 

or rather the Central Criminal Court, held at the Old 
Bailey is, par excellence, the criminal court of the 
country. In it all the excellences and all the disadvan- 
tages of our criminal procedure are developed to an extra- 
ordinary degree. The Old Bailey juries are at once more 
clearsighted and more pig-headed than any country jury. 
The local judges that is to say, the Recorder and the 
Common-Serjeant are more logical, and more inflexible, 
and better lawyers than the corresponding dignitaries in 
any of our session towns. The counsel are keener in 
their conduct of defences than are the majority of circuit 
and sessions counsel ; and at the same time the tone of 
their cross-examinations is not so gentlemanly, and alto- 
gether they are less scrupulous in their method of con 
ducting the cases entrusted to them. The witnesses are 
more intelligent and less trustworthy than country wit- 
nesses. The officers of the court keep silence more effi- 
ciently, and at the same time are more offensive in their 
general deportment than the officers of any other court in 
the kingdom. And lastly, the degree of the prisoners' 
guilt seems to take a wider scope than it does in cases 
tried on circuit. More innocent men are charged with 
crime and more guilty men escape at the Old Bailey 
than at any other court in the kingdom; because the 
juries, being Londoners, are more accustomed to look 
upon niceties of evidence from a legal point of view, and 
in many cases come into the jury-box with exaggerated 
views of what constitutes a " reasonable doubt," and so 
are disposed to give a verdict for the prisoner, when a 
country jury would convict. 



204 



THE OLD BAILEY. 



The Old Bailey, although extremely inconvenient, is 
"beautifully compact. You can be detained there between 
the time of your committal and your trial you can be 
tried there, sentenced there, condemned-celled there, and 
comfortably hanged and buried there, without having to 
leave the building, except for the purpose of going on to 
the scaffold. Indeed, recent legislation has removed even 
this exception, and now there is no occasion to go outside 
the four walls of the building at all the thing is done in 
the paved yard that separates the court-house from the pri- 




THE ALDEKMAN ON THE BENCH. 



son. It is as though you were tried in the drawing-room, 
confined in the scullery, and hanged in the back garden. 



THE OLD BAILEY. 205 

The court-house contains, besides ample accommoda- 
tion for the judges, aldermen, common-councilmen, 
sheriffs, and under-sheriffs, two large courts, called the 
Old Court and New Court, and two or three secondary 
courts, which are only used when the pressure of business 
is rather heavy. The gravest offences are usually tried 
in the Old Court on the Wednesday or Thursday after 
the commencement of the session, on which days one or 
two of the judges from. Westminster sit at the Old Bailey. 
The arrangement of the Old Court may be taken as a 
tolerably fair sample of a criminal court. The bench 
occupies one side of the court, and the dock faces it. On 
the right of the bench are the jury-box and witness-box ; 
on the left are the seats for privileged witnesses and 
visitors, and also for the reporters and jurymen in wait- 
ing. The space bounded by the bench on one side, the 
dock on another, the jury-box on a third, and the re- 
porters' box on the fourth, is occupied by counsel and 
attorneys, the larger half being assigned to the counsel. 
Over the dock is the public gallery, to which admission 
was formerly obtained by payment of a fee to the warder. 
It is now free to about thirty of the public at large at one 
time, who can see nothing of the prisoner except his 
scalp, and hear very little of what is going on. 

The form in which a criminal trial is conducted is 
briefly as follows : The case is submitted to the grand 
jury, and if, on examination of one or more of the wit- 
nesses for the prosecution, they find a prima facie case 
against the prisoner, a " true bill " is found, and handed 
to the clerk of arraigns in open court. The prisoner is 



206 .THE OLD SAILS Y. 

hen called upon to plead: and, in the event of his 
pleading " guilty," the facts of the case are briefly stated 
by counsel, together with a statement of a previous con- 
viction, if the prisoner is an old offender, and the judge 
passes sentence. If the prisoner pleads "not guilty," 
the trial proceeds in the following form. The indictment 
and plea are both read over to the jury by the clerk of 
arraigns, and they are charged by him to try whether 
the prisoner is " guilty " or " not guilty." The counsel 
for the prosecution then opens the case briefly or at 
length, as its nature may suggest, and then proceeds to 
call witnesses for the prosecution. At the close of the 
" examination in chief " of each witness, the counsel for 
the defence (or, in the absence of counsel for the defence, 
the prisoner himself), cross-examines. At the conclusion 
of the examination and cross-examination of the wit- 
nesses for the prosecution, the counsel for the prosecution 
has the privilege of summing up the arguments that 
support his case. If witnesses are called for the defence, 
the defending counsel has, also, a right to sum up ; and 
in that case the counsel for the prosecution has a right of 
reply. The matter is then left in the hands of the judge, 
who "sums up," placing the facts of the case clearly and 
impartially before the jury, pointing out discrepancies in 
the evidence, clearing the case of all superfluous matter, 
and directing them in all the points of law that arise in 
the case. The jury then consider their verdict, and, 
when they are agreed, give it in open court, and the pri- 
soner at the bar is asked whether he has anything to say 
why the sentence of law shall not be passed upon him 



THE OLD BAILEY. 207 

This question is little more than a matter of form, and 
the judge rarely waits for an answer, hut proceeds im- 
mediately to pass sentence on the prisoner. 

A visitor at the Old Bailey, to whom the courts of 
Westminster or Guildhall are familiar, will prohahly be 
very much struck with the difference between the manner 
in which the Nisi Prius and the criminal barristers are 
treated by the officials of their respective Courts. At 
Westminster the ushers, who are most unpleasant in 
their demeanour towards the public at large, are. as 
deferential in their tone to the bar as so many club ser- 
vants. Like Kathleen's cow, though vicious to others, 
they are gentle to them. Indeed, at Westminster the 
bar are treated by all the officials as gentlemen of posi- 
tion have a right to expect to be. But at the Old Bailey 
it is otherwise. They appear to be on familiar terms 
with criers, ushers, thieves' attorneys, clerks, and police 
Serjeants. Attorneys' clerks, of Israelitish aspect, but- 
tonhole them ; bumptious criers elbow them right and 
left, and the policeman on duty at the bar-entrance chaffs 
them with haughty condescension. Of course there are 
many gentlemen at the criminal bar whose professional 
position overawes even this overbearing functionary ; but 
it unfortunately happens that there are a great many 
needy and unscrupulous practitioners at the Old Bailey, 
who find it to their advantage to adopt a conciliatory 
policy towards everybody in office ; for it is an unfortu- 
nate fact, that almost everybody in office has it in his 
power, directly or indirectly, to do an Old Bailey barrister 
a good turn. " Dockers," or briefs handed directly from 



208 THE OLD BAILEY. 

the prisoner in the dock to counsel, without the expen- 
sive intervention of an attorney, are distributed pretty 
well at the discretion of the warder in the dock, or of the 
gaoler to whose custody the prisoner has been entrusted 
since his committal ; and there are a few needy barristers 
who are not ashamed to allow their clerks to tout among 
prisoners' friends for briefs at half fees. It is only fair 
to state, that the counsel who resort to these ungentle- 
manly dodges form but a small proportion of the bar- 
risters who practise at the Old Bailey ; but still they are 
sufficiently numerous to affect most seriously the tone 
that is adopted by Old Bailey officials towards the bar as 
a body. 

The conventional Old Bailey barrister, however, is a 
type that is gradually dying out. The rising men at the 
criminal bar are certainly far from being all that could 
be desired ; but their tone, in cross-examination, is more 
gentlemanly than that commonly in vogue among Old 
Bailey barristers of twenty years since. There are a few 
among them who occasionally attempt to bully, not only 
the witnesses, but even the judge and jury ; but they 
always get the worst of it. As a rule, cross-examina- 
tions are conducted more fairly than they were, and a 
determination to convict at any price is rarer on the part 
of a prosecuting counsel than of yore. If some means 
could be adopted to clear the court of the touting counsel, 
or, at all events, to render their discreditable tactics in- 
operative, a great change for the better would be effected 
in the tone adopted towards the bar by the officials about 
e court. As it is, it is almost impossible for a young 



THE OLD BAILEY. 



209 



counsel to retain his self-respect in the face of the annoy- 
ing familiarities of the underlings with whom he is brought 
into contact. On the occasion of our last visit to the Old 
Bailey, during the trial of Jeffrey for the murder of his 
son, we happened to witness a dispute between an inso- 
lent policeman, stationed at the bar-entrance, and a young 




THE CHIEB. 



barrister in robes, who was evidently not an habitud ot 
that court. The barrister had a friend with him, and he 
wanted to get a place for his friend, either in the bar 
seats, or in the seats set aside for the friends of the 
bench and baf. The policeman in question placed his 



210 THE OLD BAILEY. 

arm across the door, and absolutely refused to allow either 
the barrister or his friend to enter, on the ground that 
the court was quite full. The barrister sent his card to 
the under-sheriff, who immediately gave directions that 
both were to be admitted to the bar-seats, which were 
occupied by about a fourth of the number which they 
would conveniently accommodate, about half the people 
occupying them being friends of counsel who, we suppose, 
were on more intimate terms with the discourteous func- 
tionary than was the barrister in question. On another 
occasion it came to our knowledge that a barrister, who 
did not habitually practise at the Old Bailey, was refused 
admission at the bar entrance to the court-house by the 
police-sergeant stationed there. He showed his card, but 
without avail, and eventually he -expressed his intention 
of forcing his way past the policeman, and told that offi- 
cial that if he stopped him he would do so at his peril. 
The policeman allowed him to pass, but actually told 
another constable to follow him to the robing-room, to 
see whether he had any right there or not. The barris- 
ter, naturally annoyed at being thus conveyed in custody 
through the building, complained to one of the under- 
sheriffs for the time being, but without obtaining the 
slightest redress. Of course this system of impertinence 
has the effect of confining Old Bailey practice to a thick- 
skinned few ; but it does not tend to elevate the tone of 
the bar (of which the Old Bailey barrister is unfortu- 
nately generally taken as a type) ; and those who are 
jealous for the honour of the profession should take steps 
to do away with it. 



THE OLD BAILEY. 



211 



To a stranger, a criminal trial is always an interesting 
sight If the prisoner happens to be charged with a 
crime of magnitude, he has become quite a public cha- 
racter by the time he enters the dock to take his trial ; 
and it is always interesting to see how far a public cha- 
racter corresponds with the ideal which we have formed 




THE OLD BAILEY BA11RISTEK. 



of him. Then his demeanour in the dock, influenced, as 
it often is, by the fluctuating character of the evidence 
for and against him, possesses a grim interest for the 
unaccustomed spectator. He is witnessing a real sensa- 
tion drama, and as the case draws to a close, if the 



212 



THE OLD BAILEY. 



evidence has been very conflicting, he feels an interest in 
the issue akin to that with which a sporting man would 
take in the running of a great race. Then the delibera- 
tions of the jury on their verdict, the sharp, anxious look 
which the prisoner casts ever and anon towards them, 
the deep breath that he draws as the jury resume their 




THE OLD BAILEY ATTORNEY. 



places, the trembling anxiety, or, more affecting still, the 
preternaturally compressed lips and contracted brow, with 
which he awaits the publication of their verdict, and his 
great, deep sigh of relief when he knows the worst, must 
possess a painful interest for all but those whom familia- 



THE OLD BAILEY. 213- 

rity with such scenes has hardened. Then comes the 
sentence, followed, perhaps, by a woman's shriek from 
the gallery, and all is over, as far as the spectator is con- 
cerned. The next case is called on, and new facts and 
new faces soon obliterate any painful effect which the- 
trial may have had upon his mind. 

Probably the first impression on the mind of a man 
who visits the Old Bailey for the first time is that he 
never saw so many ugly people collected in any one place- 
before. The judges are not handsome men, as a rule, 
the aldermen on the bench never are ; barristers, espe- 
cially Old Bailey barristers, are the ugliest of professional 
men, excepting always solicitors ; the jury have a bull- 
headed look about them that suggests that they have 
been designedly selected from the most stupid of their 
class ; the reporters are usually dirty, and of evil savour ;. 
the understrappers have a bloated, overfed, Bumble-like 
look about them, which is always a particularly annoying 
thing to a sensitive mind ; and the prisoner, of course, 
looks (whether guilty or innocent) the most ruffianly of 
mankind, for he stands in the dock. "We remember 
seeing a man tried for burglary some time since, and we- 
came to the conclusion that he had the most villanous- 
face with which a man could be cursed. The case against 
him rested on the testimony of as nice-looking and in- 
genuous a lad as ever stepped into a witness-box. But,. 
unfortunately for the ingenuous lad, a clear alibi was- 
established, the prisoner was immediately acquitted, and 
the nice boy, his accuser, was trotted into the dock on a 
charge of perjury. The principal witness against him 



214 



THE OLD BAILEY. 



was the former prisoner, and we were perfectly astounded 
at the false estimate we had formed of their respective 
physiognomies. The former prisoner's face was, we 
found, homely enough ; but it absolutely beamed with 
honest enthusiasm in the cause of justice, while the nice 
lad's countenance turned out to be the very type of sly, 




THE PRISONER AT THE BAR. 



insidious rascality. It is astonishing how the atmosphere 
of the dock inverts the countenance of any one who may 
happen to be in it. And this leads us to the considera- 
tion how surpassingly beautiful must that ballet-girl have 
been, who, even in the dock, exercised so extraordinary 
a fascination over a learned deputy-judge at the Middle- 
sex sessions not long ago. We remember once to have 



THE OLD BAILEY. 215- 

heard a well-known counsel, who was defending a singu- 
lary ill-favoured prisoner, say to the jury, " Gentlemen,, 
you must not allow yourselves to be carried away by any 
effect which the prisoner's appearance may have upon 
you. Remember, he is in the dock ; and I will under- 
take to say, that if my lord were to be taken from the 
bench upon which he is sitting, and placed where the 
prisoner is now standing, you, who are unaccustomed to- 
criminal trials, would find, even in his lordship's face,, 
indications of crime which you would look for in vain in 
any other situation ! " In fairness we withhold the 
learned judge's name. 

Perhaps the most ill-favoured among this ill-favoured 
gathering are to be found among the thieves' attorneys. 
There are some Old Bailey attorneys who are respectable 
men, and it often happens that a highly-respectable soli- 
citor has occasion to pay an exceptional visit to this 
establishment, just as queen's counsel of standing at Nisi 
Prius are often employed in cases of grave importance ; 
but these solicitors of standing are the exception, and 
the dirty, cunning-looking, hook-nosed, unsavoury little- 
Jews, with thick gold rings on their stubby fingers, and 
crisp black hair curling down their backs, the rule. They 
are the embodiment of meat, drink, washing, and pro- 
fessional reputation to the needy barristers whom they 
employ, and, as such, their intimacy is, of course, much 
courted and in great request. Of course many Old 
Bailey barristers are utterly independent of this ill- 
favoured race ; but there are, unfortunately, too many 
men to be found whose only road to professional success- 



216 THE OLD BAILEY. 

lies in the good- will of these gentry. There are, among 
the thieves' lawyers, men of acute intelligence and 
honourable repute, and who do their work extremely 
well; but the majority of them are sneaking, underhand, 
grovelling practitioners, who are utterly unrecognised by 
men of good standing. 



217 



OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY AND THEIR 
HOMES IN LONDON. 

WHENEVER I looked up from my newspaper I met the 
eye of a middle-aged gentleman who was sitting in the 
same box a box, I should mention, in the coffee-room of 
an old-fashioned hotel in London, which is partitioned off 
in primitive style. I say gentleman advisedly, for the 
stranger had every apparent claim to be so called. For 
the rest there was little to distinguish him from the crowd 
of well-dressed and well-mannered persons whom one 
meets about in public places. He might be a clergyman, 
or a lawyer, or a doctor, though I should doubt his being 
an active member of either profession. He gave you the 
idea of a man retired from any pursuit in which he might 
have been engaged, and to be occupied rather in killing 
time than in inviting time to kill him. He had a healthy, 
happy-looking face, bearing no traces of hard work or 
deep thought, and his hair was only partially grey. He 
had a mild eye, and a mild voice, and a mild manner I 
noticed the two latter qualities through his intercourse 
with the waiter and was so suave in his ways as to be 
polite even to the port that he was drinking after an early 



1218 OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY 

dinner. He handled his decanter in a caressing manner 
such as he might adopt towards a favourite niece, and 
took up his wine-glass as gently as if it were a 
child. 

Whenever I met his eye, I noticed that it gave me a 
kind of recognising look, which, however, was not sus- 
tained ; for, before he had thoroughly attracted my atten- 
tion he always returned to the illustrated journal before 
him, as if suddenly determined to master some abstruse 
subject with a great deal of solution in the way of wood- 
cuts. His communicative appearance made me think 
that I had met him before, but it did not occur to me 
where, so I took no further notice. Presently he spoke, 
but he only said 

" I beg your pardon, sir." 

There was nothing to beg my pardon about, so I begged 
his, not to be outdone in gratuitous courtesy. Then he 
begged mine again, adding 

" I thought you made a remark I did not quite 
hear." 

No, I said, I had not made any remark. Then we 
both bowed and smiled, and resumed our reading the 
stranger with some little confusion, I thought. 

After a time he made a remark himself. 

" I should not have intruded," said he, " but I thoug 
I had met you before." 

I am not one of those persons who think that eve 
stranger who addresses them in a public room means 
pick their pockets, but I have a proper prejudice against 
being bored, and in any case I had no resource but t 






AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON. 219- 

answer as I did, to the effect that I could not recall the 
when and the where. 

" "Were you ever in Vancouver's Island ?" the stranger 
asked. 

In the cause of truth, I was obliged to declare a ne- 
gative. 

" Then it could not have been there," said he, musingly; 
' but," he added, " you might have known Colonel Jacko 
a relation of mine who was governor of the Island. 
You remind me of him that is why I ask." 

I did not quite see the connection between knowing a 
man and bearing a personal resemblance to him, but in 
disavowing any acquaintance with Colonel Jacko, I did 
so with all courtesy. 

" You have been probably in New Zealand ? " pur- 
sued the stranger, warming apparently into considerable 
interest in the question involved ; if so, you must have 
known Major-General Mango, who commanded there in 
18." 

I was obliged to confess my ignorance of the unfortu- 
nate colony in question, and of the distinguished officer 
alluded to. 

" I merely asked," continued the stranger with a de- 
sponding air, " as he was a relation of mine." 

I had nothing to do with his relatives any more than 
I himself, but his manner was so gentle that I could not 
! think it intentionally obtrusive, so I acknowledged the 
r, receipt of the information as pleasantly as possible. 

" If you had been in India," he pursued, taking it for 
i ; granted apparently that I was no traveller, " you would 



220 OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY 

probably have met one of my sons. One is in the civil, 
the other in the military, service. Both fine fellows. 
The elder was political agent at Tulwarpatam at the time 
when the Rajah was so aggressive, and it was through 
his influence that his highness was induced to remit the 
Abkaree duties, and give up his claim to the contested 
Jaghires. The other was through the mutinies, and was 
wounded both at Delhi and Lucknow curious coinci- 
dence, was it not ? " 

I admitted that his sons seemed to have done the State 
some service, and remarked upon the coincidence as on 
of those mysterious dispensations of Providence for whic 
it is impossible to account. And that was all I could d 
towards the conversation, which dropped at this point. 

Presently the stranger took his hat, with an undecide 
ultimately effectual movement. Then he called the waiter 
and had a little conversation with that functionary abou 
the port, which he said was not quite the same that h 
used to have in the year 1835. (I strongly suspect, b 
the way, that he was right in this supposition ; as th 
wine he had been drinking belonged probably to the cele- 
brated vintage of 1869.) At last he made a movemen 
to depart, and ultimately did depart, but only after 
great deal of delay; and even when in actual motion 
across the room, he looked back more than once, as i 
expecting somebody to ask him to remain. 

When the waiter came to clear away the abandonet 
decanter and glass, I asked him if he knew the gentlemai 
who had just gone out. 

"Yes, sir," was the reply; "we have known th 






AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON. 221 

gentleman for some years, though he does not come very 
often. He lives by himself somewhere in town, and has 
no relations except some who are abroad. He says he 
has no friends, too, as he has lost a great deal of money, 
and cannot keep the society he did. He doesn't seem to 
know anybody who comes here, though he talks to some 
now and then, as he has to you." 

I was sorry not to have heard this before, that I might 
have treated the stranger with a little more attention. 
For this glimpse I had of him, and the few hints given 
me by the waiter, were sufficient to assure me that he 
belonged to a class who are more perhaps to be pitied 
than the merely poor ; that he is in the world but is not 
of it, and has a residence but is without a home ; that he 
is, in fact an Outsider of Society. 

People engaged in active pursuits whether in spend- 
ing or making money are not likely to be troubled by 
deprivations of the kind referred to. They live among 
their peers, with whom they have interests in common. 
They are as important to others as others are important 
to them. They are in the stream of pleasure or business 
as the case may be. There is no danger that they will 
be forgotten. Their doors are besieged by visitors, drawn 
by diverse attractions ; so that it is necessary to make a 
vigorous classification of the latter, not only of the usual 
social character, but distinguishing those who come to 
oblige the master of the house from those who come to 
oblige themselves. Their tables are covered with cards 
and letters, prospectuses, tradesmen's circulars, begging 
petitions, newspapers they have never ordered, and books 



222 OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY 

that it is thought they may possibly want. Their vote 
and interest is always being requested for deserving indi- 
viduals, and their subscriptions for equally deserving 
institutions. Chance of being forgotten indeed ! So long 
as they can be made useful there is as much chance of the 
Bank of England being forgotten. Such men may be 
alone, sometimes, in one sense of the term. That is to 
say, their relations may be scattered or dead. But that is 
of very little practical moment in their case. They can 
always find people prepared to be second fathers or 
brothers to them, and even second mothers and sisters, it 
may be. They can always marry, too, and then a home 
establishes itself as a matter of course. 

But there are who shall say how many? people 
living in London who live almost alone ; who have no 
society except of a casual, and what may be called an 
anonymous kind ; and whose homes are merely places 
where they may obtain shelter and rest. I am not here 
alluding to the class who are social and domestic outlaws 
because they are positively poor. There is no anomaly 
in this condition of life ; it is a natural consequence of 
having no money. The people I mean have mostly 
money enough for themselves, but not sufficient to make 
them important to others, and obtain for them considera- 
tion in the world. Sometimes their positions have 
changed ; sometimes things have changed around them 
and left their positions as they were, the result being 
much the same. It may be that they are seeking to 
make a little more money by such employments as agen- 
cies, secretaryships, and so forth employments the most 



AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON. 223 

difficult of all to get, as any man of moderate education 
and abilities can do the duties but most frequently 
they are content to vegetate upon what they have, and to 
concentrate themselves upon the attainment of companion- 
ship and home. When one of the active men whom I 
have mentioned goes away from home, the Post Office 
establishment is ruthlessly disturbed by mandates for the 
re-addressing and forwarding of letters. The migration 
of one of our passive friends makes no difference to any- 
body. Except it be an occasional communication from a 
relation in a distant colony, sent to the care of an agent, 
he has no letters to trouble him, and if he did not occa- 
sionally make a show of existence by asserting himself in 
pen and ink, he might perish out of the memory of man. 
To such people the advertising columns of the newspapers 
must possess peculiar interest ; for a large number of the 
announcements seem expressly intended to meet their 
requirements, while, on the other hand, an equal number 
of the specified " Wants'' seem to come from their class. 
Homes for special purposes appear to be plentiful 
enough. You cannot take up a newspaper without having 
your attention called to a dozen or two. Apart from the 
"Home for Lost and Starving Dogs," which is an 
establishment not applying, except by sympathy, to any 
class of my readers we have such charities as the 
" Convalescent Home," established by the wife of the 
Premier. In the next column we are sure to be re- 
minded of the " Home for Little Boys," in addition to 
which has just been appropriately projected a " Home 
for Little Girls," not the least desirable object cf the 



224 OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY 

two. An individual speculator has also established what 
he rather invidiously calls an " Epileptic Home for the 
Sons of Gentlemen," there being, it is to be presumed, 
genteel as well as vulgar forms of the malady in question. 
" Educational "Homes " for youth of both sexes abound in 
newspaper announcements. They may afford very good 
opportunities for the intended purpose, but I should 
prefer placing my trust in establishments which are can- 
didly called schools. Not long since I saw an advertise- 
ment in a morning paper which ran, as nearly as I can 
remember, in these terms :- 

"A clergyman in a popular parish by the sea-side, 
offers an Educational Home to a few little boys of good 
principles, the sons of gentlemen. Apply," &c. 

Now, without desiring to be harsh to the advertiser, I 
must take leave to say that the above contains several 
important' errors in taste. It would have been just as 
well, and a great deal better perhaps, had the clergyman 
refrained from mentioning the popularity of his parish, 
however much the description might be deserved. His 
specification of little boys " of good principles" suggests 
a slur upon little boys in general which does not come 
well from an educator of youth ; and one would think 
that he would be more usefully engaged in taking in hand 
little boys of bad principles, if any such exist. But the 
inference next suggested is even less creditable to the 
reverend advertiser. It is of no use, it seems, for little 
boys to have good principles, as far as he is concerned, 
unless they be the sons of gentlemen. This is sad. 
t But the mention of homes of a special character of 



AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON. 225 

which there| are many more in London than have been 
enumerated is only incidental to my present purpose. 
I especially allude to lonely people who seek society, and 
to which society, in a certain limited degree, seems con- 
tinually offering to sell itself. And among lonely people, 
as far as homes are concerned, must be included " per- 
sons engaged in the City," or " engaged during the day," 
who are frequently appealed to by advertisers. The num- 
ber of persons idle or occupied who want homes seem 
to be equalled only by the number of persons who are 
prepared to offer them, with very small pecuniary 
temptation. I have always thought that a great deal of 
self-sacrifice must be necessary in the case of the family 
of a dancing-master who for years past has been adver- 
tising his lessons with the addition that "the Misses 

X will officiate as partners." The Misses X 

must surely be tired by this time of dancing with people 
who drop them directly they are able to dance. But it 
must be still more sad to take into your family any 
chance stranger who may seem sufficiently respectable, 
board him, and lodge him, and promise to be " cheerful " 
and "musical" for his amusement But offers of this 
kind are plentiful enough, and they would not be made 
were there not a fair supply of people to embrace them. 

Looking back at only one daily paper for only a week 
or ten days may be found a host of advertisements of 
both classes ; and I will first allude to a few of these 
among the "Wants." 

Here is a specimen : 

" Home wanted by a respectable elderly lady rather 






226 OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY 






invalid, not helpless in a sociable family; meals with 
it understood. Children objectionable. Large bedroom 
(not top) facing east or south indispensable. Aspect 
important. Forty guineas. Must be west of Holborn : 
other localities useless. Letters/' &c. 

It would be difficult to determine the exact state of 
this respectable elderly lady's health from the above 
description, there being a rather long range between the 
affirmative and the suggestions offered by the negative 
statement ; but even though she be in a high state of 
agility the conditions are surely rather complex : and 
there must be families in which forty guineas a year go a 
great way if she has- any chance of gratifying her wishes. , 
Another elderly lady is more explicit, if not quite 
grammatical. She describes herself as " an invalid from 
rheumatism," and her desire is " to board with a genteel, 
cheerful family." Here again there must be " no chil- 
dren." She prefers "the neighbourhood of St. John's 
Wood, near the Park, or an equal distance from the 
West-End." Letters must be prepaid. 

The following looks like a case in which society is an 
object : 

" Board and residence wanted, by a widow lady and a 
young lady, and partial board for a young gentleman, 
within three miles north of London, near a station. 
Children objected to. [Poor children !] Three bedrooms 
indispensable. Preference given to a musical family, 
where there is a daughter who would be companionable." 
Terms, it is added, " must be moderate." 
The following has not a pleasant sound : 



AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON. 227 

"Wanted, a comfortable home for a female aged 
seventy years, where there are no children [children 
again !]. She must he treated with great firmness. 
Twelve shillings will be paid weekly for board, lodging, 
and washing. Surrey side preferred," &c. 

It is evident that the above offer has not been made 
by the person for whom the accommodation is sought. 
But such requirements, including even the " great firm- 
ness," doubtless get supplied. One of the numerous 
advertisers who provide homes for invalid ladies offers, I 
observe, to give "reference to the relatives of a lady 
lately deceased," who lived in the house for seven 
years. 

Here is a " home" of remarkable character ; it is 
described as situated in a favourite suburb on the Metro- 
politan Railway, replete with every beauty and conveni- 
ence, the details being specially enumerated ; and besides 
the railway, omnibuses pass the door to all parts of 
town. " The advertiser," it is added, f: would prefer one 
or two City gentlemen of convivial disposition, and to 
such, liberal terms would be offered." 

The advertiser has evidently an abstract love for City 
gentlemen of convivial disposition, since he is prepared to 
share his home with any one or two of them. And if a 
City gentleman of convivial disposition could make a vast 
wilderness dear which it is very possible he could do 
one can fancy what a paradise he would make of this 
Cashmere at Shepherd's Bush. It is not quite clear, 
indeed, that the advertiser is not prepared to pay instead 
of being paid by the charming society he seeks, since he 



228 OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY 

says that " to such liberal terms will be offered." It 
must be a very delightful thing to be a City gentleman of 
convivial disposition, with the feeling of having unknown 
friends, which has been said to resemble our ideas of the 
existence of angels. 

Another proffered " home" is described as having, in 
addition to all domestic comforts, "two pianos, with 
young and musical society." This may be very pleasant ; 
but I should feel some misgivings at the prospect of 
making .one of a " young and musical society " let loose 
upon two pianos at the same time. There are different 
opinions, too, even about the best music, under different 
conditions. The Irish soldier who was singing the 
" Last Rose of Summer," perhaps from the bottom of his 
heart, but certainly at the top of his voice, was told by 
his English comrade to hold his noise. " And he calls 
Moore's Melodies a noise," said the musical enthusiast, 
disgusted at the want of taste exhibited by the cold- 
blooded Saxon. 

A cheerful state of existence is suggested by another 
advertisement of a " home" : 

" Partial board is offered to a gentleman by a cheerful, 
musical, private family. Early breakfast ; meat tea. 
Dinner on Sundays. Gas, piano, croquet. Terms 
1 Is. per week. Write," &c. 

The board must be partial indeed if that melancholy 
meal known as a " meat tea" enters into the arrange- 
ment. A " meat tea" would in any case mean that you 
were expected to go without your dinner, since, if you 
had dined you would not want meat with your bohea. 



AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON. 229 

But there is no disguise about the matter here, for you 
are frankly told that there will be dinner, as distinguished 
from a meat tea, on Sundays. It is a monstrous, un- 
natural idea, and the family must be very cheerful, very 
musical, and very private, I should think, to reconcile 
most men to such a state of things. Perhaps the piano 
and the croquet are intended as a set-off, by suggesting 
female society of an accomplished kind ; and of course 
there are some girls for whom some men will submit to 
meat teas ; but I have my own opinion as to the chances 
of either one or the other. 

Here is an advertisement of a " home " couched in 
popular terms. It would be a pity to interfere with the 
writer's style, so I give it in full, with the omission, of 
-course, of the address : 

" A lady having a larger house than she requires, is 
desirous of increasing her circle by receiving a few gentle- 
men (who are engaged during the day) as boarders. 
The society is cheerful and musical. To foreigners 
anxious to acquire elegant English, this is a good oppor- 
tunity." 

As for the lady having a larger house than she re- 
quires, one can fancy that to be the case if she has room 
for several gentlemen, but how is it that so many persons 
get into larger houses than they require, and are thereby 
impelled to offer similar accommodation? R must be 
confessed, too, that the opportunity for foreigners to ac- 
quire elegant English is not very apparent. Are the 
candidates for residence examined in elegant English 
before they are admitted into the family ? As for the 



230 OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY 

cheerfulness and the music, those are of course matters of 
taste. 

Among other " homes" which we find offered in the 
same paper is one with a curious recommendation at- 
tached. It has " just been vacated," we are told, " by a 
young gentleman who has successfully passed his exami- 
nation." If the same advantage can be secured to the 
incoming tenant the accommodation would be decidedly 
cheap, for the modest sum of thirteen shillings a- week, 
which is all that is asked. But we are not told what is 
the nature of the examination for the army, the Civil 
Service, a degree, or what ? Perhaps it is only in the 
" elegant English " intended to qualify the tenant for the 
higher social sphere of the lady with the partially super- 
fluous house. 

Invalid or " mentally afflicted " persons are always in 
great request among advertisers. Several applications- 
are before me now. One of these comes from " A medi- 
cal man, residing in a large and well- furnished house in 
one of the healthiest and most convenient out-districts of 
London," who " wishes to receive any patient mentally 
or otherwise afflicted, as a resident ; boarding or separate 
arrangement as desired ; a married couple, or two 
sisters, or friends, not objected to." The contingency of 
companions in misfortune is a good idea ; our jmedical 
friend is evidently a far-sighted man. Then we find the 
wife of a medical man, who is willing to take charge of 
*' an afflicted (not insane) lady, gentleman, or child, to 
whom she offers a comfortable home with experienced 
care." A similar offer is made by the occupants of a 



AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON. 231 

farmhouse, but these do not draw the line at insanity, 
but declare that they have had the care of an insane 
patient for many years, and can be highly recommended 
in consequence. Some people, indeed, are so fond of 
taking care of insane patients that they would not have 
a sane one if you made them a present of him. An 
illustration of this curious taste came under my notice 
not long since. A very deserving man called to see a 
patron of his who had procured him a post of the kind, 
which he had held for several months. " I am very glad 
to see you, John," was the greeting, " and hope you are 
getting on in your employment." " Ah, that indeed I 
am, sir," was the answer : " thanks to you, I am most 
comfortably provided for in fact, I was never so happy 
in my life. How did I get these two black eyes, sir ? 
Oh, he gave them to me yesterday morning. Oh, yes, I 
shall always be grateful I never was so happy in my 
life." 

It must be admitted that the majority of the " homes " 
which people offer one another through the medium of 
the papers are not exposed to contingencies of this kind ; 
but the said people must surely run the risk of finding 
themselves ill-assorted in no ordinary degree. 

It is not to be supposed indeed that utter strangers 
would go and live together without some strong induce- 
ments ; and these inducements are generally money on 
the one side and society on the other. The people who 
want the money through having "larger houses than 
they require," or other causes, of which any number 
may be found with great facility are less to be pitied 



232 OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY 

than the people who want the society, for the latter must 
be dismally reduced in this respect before they can be 
brought to take it on chance. In a " cheerful family , 
musically inclined," part of the compact of course is that 
the incomer shall be .cheerful, if not musical and com- 
panionable, at any rate. The requisition sounds awful r 
but it is one to which hundreds of harmless persons 
in this metropolis submit rather than be left alone. 
Many, of course, are induced by considerations of eco- 
nomy ; and of those still more unfortunate than the 
ordinary class, are those of the more helpless, who do- 
not accept a " home," upon independent terms, but 
obtain it either gratuitously or for some very small pay- 
ment upon condition of being useful or helping to make 
things pleasant. Of these there are large numbers, to 
judge by the advertisements ; and I suspect that they 
are rather worse off than those who " go out " regularly 
as governesses and companions, for the latter have at 
least a chance of lighting upon rich and generous patrons. 
And here I may mention that a great deal of nonsense is 
written about governesses more perhaps than about 
most other things. Their trade is a bad one, no doubt, 
because the market is overstocked. But that is no fault 
of the employers, who cannot be expected to fill their 
houses with young ladies of varying tastes and'tempers, 
on account of their presumably "superior" education 
and intelligence. Nor is it to be taken for granted that 
overy governess is of the " superior " kind, and all the 
people who engage their services, vulgar wretches who 
delight in inflicting mortification upon their betters. 






AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON. 233 

"Who has not heard of families of the best breeding and 
refinement being tortured beyond all endurance by 
governesses of conspicuous inability to teach, who have 
let their pupils run wild, and concentrated their atten- 
tion upon the men of the house, and whose insolent and 
overbearing ways have made the work of getting rid of 
them one of no common difficulty ? Our novelists havo 
not given us many illustrations of this side of the picture ; 
but you may depend upon it that Becky Sharpes are at 
least as plentiful as Jane Eyres in real life. 

A favourite resort of the homeless are boarding-houses. 
Of these establishments there are hundreds in London 
from those devoted to the entertainment of minor City 
clerks, rigorously " engaged during the day," to those 
which one is almost led to suppose nobody under the 
rank of a baronet is received, and even then not without a 
reference as to respectability on the part of a peer. But 
most of these houses have one or two features in common. 
There is always a large admixture of people who go there 
for the sake of society ; and of this number a consider- 
able proportion is sure to consist of widows or spinsters 
of extremely marriageable tendencies. The result is 
that, unless the residents be very numerous, individual 
freedom is lost, and, instead of living an independent life 
as at an hotel, the members of a " circle " find themselves 
surrounded by such amenities as may be supposed to 
belong to a rather large and singularly disunited family. 

A great many marriages, however, are made in these 
establishments, and it is not on record that they turn out 
otherwise then well. It must be admitted, too, that men 



234 OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY 

go there to find wives as well as women to find husbands, 
so that the arrangement thus far is fair on both sides. 
But I have been informed by men who are not among 
the latter number, that it is found difficult sometimes to 
get the fact generally understood. The consequent mis- 
takes of course lead to confusion, and the result is the 
occasional retirement of determined bachelors into more 
private life. 

There are " homes " in London where there is not 
much mention of marriage, except as a reminiscence, and 
few of their members have the chance even of this melan- 
choly enjoyment. I allude to houses in which, through 
the exertions principally of benevolent ladies, other ladies, 
who would probably be equally benevolent were they not 
less fortunate, have a residence assigned to them upon 
advantageous terms. That is to say, they live in an 
establishment where all their wants are supplied upon 
the payment, by themselves or their friends, of a small 
contribution towards the necessary outlay, the remainder 
being covered by subscriptions of a strictly private cha- 
racter. The recipients of this assistance are all gentle- 
women as is necessary to the state of social equality in 
which they live and their admittance is obtained by 
favour of the benevolent ladies in question. These ladies 
are influenced, I suppose, by the introductions brought 
by the candidates, and considerations of their previous 
position which has in every case been a great deal 
superior to their present position, as may be supposed. 
The said " homes " are very few in number ; so far as I 
know, they have no connection with one another, and 



AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON. 235 

they are entirely private in their arrangements. The 
neighbours may happen to know that a certain house in 
which they find so many ladies living together is not a 
boarding house in the ordinary acceptation of the term ; 
but there is nothing to proclaim the fact, and the in- 
mates live in an apparent state of independence equal to 
that of anybody about them. And they live as contented, 
I believe, as can be in the case of persons who are not of 
such social importance as they were, and who have plenty 
of leisure to talk over the fact. They are all gentle- 
women, as I have said, and upon terms of social equality; 
but it may be supposed that there are differences between, 
them, as there are between people generally in society. 
You may depend upon it, that the lady who is related to 
an earl is of opinion, that she is a preferable object of 
consideration to the lady who is related only to a baronet, 
while the claims of the other ladies to their several 
degrees of precedence are not unadjusted for want of 
accurate investigation. A few very likely " give them- 
selves airs " upon this score, while some pride themselves 
upon their beauty when young (none of the ladies are 
quite young now) and others establish a superiority 
upon account of their mental gifts. All this imparts a 
pleasant variety to the conversation which would other- 
wise be in danger of falling into monotony. Such at 
least, I suppose, to be the case, for I am dealing in gene- 
ralities, and cannot claim to a knowledge of any one in 
particular of these ladies' homes. For the rest, the occu- 
pants are said to pass an easy, agreeable life, more espe- 
cially those who are not without friends whom they can 



236 OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY 

go to visit in which case they are free to have as much 
amusement as if they lived in houses of their own. 

I said something about hoarding-houses just now. A 
great many of the homeless who have not tried these es- 
tablishments or having tried them are unwilling to 
renew the experiment live in furnished lodgings. On 
the Continent they would probably put up at hotels : but 
hotels in this country are not adapted for modest require- 
ments, and furnished lodgings take a place which they 
have not yet learned to occupy. The mode of life is 
anomalous. It is neither public nor private. You may 
be independent in an hotel ; you may be independent in 
your own house ; in lodgings you can be independent by 
no possibility. If you spend rather more money than 
you would either in an hotel or your own house, you 
obtain comfort and attention ; but the object of most 
persons who take lodgings is to be rather economical 
than otherwise, so that the reservation is of very little 
avail. Lodgings are of two classes those that profess 
to be so, and those that solemnly declare they are not. 
The former are decidedly preferable, apart from the im- 
morality of encouraging a sham. In the former case, if 
you occupy say as a bachelor only a couple of rooms 
in town, and the rest of the house is let to other people, 
you will obtain but precarious attendance from Ihe soli- 
tary servant, and the chances are that you will never be 
able to get a decently-cooked meal. The food that they 
waste in such places by their barbarous mode of dealing 
with it is sad to think upon. Your only resource is to 
live out of doors as much as possible, and consider your 



AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON. 23T 

rooms only as a refuge the logical consequence of which, 
is that it is best to abandon them altogether. 

But you are better placed even under these conditions- 
than if you go to a house in one of the suburbs a pretty 
villa-looking place knowing nothing about it beyond the 
information offered by the bill in the window. A not 
very clean servant opens the door, and does not impress 
you favourably at first glance. You are hesitating, under 
some discouragement, when the mistress of the house 
presenting in her decorated exterior a considerable con- 
trast to the servant appears upon the scene and reproves 
the domestic sternly for her neglected appearance, sends 
her away to restore it, and meantime proceeds to transact 
business upon her own account. You ask her if she lets 
apartments. She gives a reproving look, and says " No/* 
ignoring the announcement made by the bill. You men- 
tion that you knocked in consequence of seeing that inti- 
mation in the window ; upon which the lady says 

" Oh, is it up ? I was not aware. The fact is, I wish 
to receive a gentleman to occupy part of the house, as it 
is too large for us " the old story " and my husband 
being a great deal out, I find it rather lonely. But my 
husband is very proud and objects to having strange- 
company." 

You remark that you need not have applied in that 

3, and will go elsewhere. This brings the lady to the 
)int. 

" Oh, I did not mean to say that you could not have 
ly apartments here. I intend to have my own way in 
xat matter "this is said in a playful, fiuttery manner, 



238 OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY 

with a running laugh. " If you will step in I will show 
you the accommodation we have. All I meant to say 
was, that we are not accustomed to let lodgings." 

Rather amused than annoyed, you submit to be shown 
the rooms. They are pretty rooms light and cheerful, 
and ornamental to a fault and the garden at the back 
is alone a relief from the pent-up place you have been 
occupying in town. So, after a few preliminary negotia- 
tions conducted on the lady's side in the same playful 
manner you agree to take the place, say for three 
months. The lady is evidently pleased at your decision, 
and avails herself of the opportunity for renewing her 
assurance that the house is not a lodging-house, and that 
you may expect all the comforts of a domestic life. 

" There are no other lodgers," she added ; then, as if 
suddenly recollecting, she corrects herself : " That is to 
say, there is a commercial gentleman who is a great deal 
away, sleeping here for a night or . two a friend of my 
husband's and yes, let me see, a medical gentleman to 
whom we have allowed the partial use of a bedroom to 
oblige a neighbour just for the present, but I do not 
count either of them as lodgers." 

A commercial gentleman sleeping for a night or two, 
while he is a great deal away, does not seem an ordinary 
lodger at any rate ; and from the distinction drawn in the 
case of the medical gentleman who is only allowed the 
partial use of a bedroom, you are inclined to think that 
he is permitted to lie down but not to go to sleep. How- 
ever, you make no objection to these anomalies, and take 
possession of your new abode. 






AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON. 239 

There never was such, an imposture, as you find out 
only next day. The bagman and the medical student 
as those gentlemen must be described, if the naked truth 
bo respected turn out to be regular lodgers, and as 
thorough nuisances as a couple of noisy men addicted to 
late hours and exaggerated conviviality can well be. And 
the woman never mentioned a discharged policeman 
her father, I believe to whom she affords a temporary 
asylum in the kitchen, in return for intermittent atten- 
tions in the way of blacking boots and cleaning knives 
when he happens to be sober. For the rest, there is no- 
body in the house who can cook even such a simple matter 
as a mutton chop without spoiling it ; and there seems 
to be everybody in the house who is determined that 
your private stores shall not be allowed to spoil for want 
of eating and drinking. Nothing is safe from the enemy, 
who combine their forces against you, and they take care 
that you shall have no protection, for not a lock which 
can give shelter to any portable article will act after you 
have been two days in the house. As for your personal 
effects, they are in equal danger. The average amount 
of loss in wearing apparel is one shirt and two handker- 
chiefs a week ; and miscellaneous articles are sure to go 
if they are in the least degree pretty or curious. And 
the coolest part of the proceeding is, that the mildest 
complaint on your part brings down a storm upon your 
devoted head, such as you could not have expected from 
the playful and fluttering person who had given you such 
pleasant assurances when you took the rooms. She 
claims to be a Csesar's wife in point of immunity from 



240 OUTSIDERS OF SOCIETY 

suspicion, and asserts the same privilege for everybody in 
the house. " JSTo gentleman was ever robbed there," she 
says ; and she plainly hints that no gentleman would say 
he was, even though he said the fact. 

This is no exaggerated picture of many suburban lodg- 
. ings to which outsiders of society are led to resort for 
want of better accommodation ; and a large number of 
persons who are not outsiders in the sense in which I 
have employed the term, but who are simply not settled 
in the metropolis, are exposed to a similar fate. For 
those who are prepared for an ordeal of another nature, 
the "cheerful family, musically inclined," offers, one would 
think, a far preferable alternative. But it is not every- 
body who is prepared to have society thrust upon him, 
cither in this quiet domestic way or in a large boarding- 
house, and there ought to be better provision than there 
is for the floating mass of casual residents in London. In 
Paris not only are there hotels suited to the requirements 
of all classes of persons, but the maisons meubles are 
places where they may live almost as independently as in 
their own houses. In London, the only realization of 
the luxury short of an entire house is in what we call 
" chambers ; " and a man's chambers are most certainly 
his castle, whatever his house may be. That the want 
is being appreciated, is evident from the rapid extension 
of the " chambers " system, in the way of the indepen- 
dent suites of rooms known as " flats." But the flats, as 
now provided in Victoria Street, and elsewhere, cost as 
much as entire houses, while the latest additions, the 
Uelgrave and j Grosvenor mansions, are even more costly, 



AND THEIR HOMES IN LONDON. 241 

and beyond the reach of the classes to whom I have been 
referring. The latter would be deeply grateful for 
accommodation of the kind on a more moderate scale, 
and the investment of capital in such an object could not 
fail to be profitable. Besides the desolate people into 
whose sorrows I have entered, there are in London, it 
must be remembered, many hundreds of outsiders of 
society of a different kind, who are outsiders only from 
that conventional society in which it takes so much 
money to " move," and who ought to command greater 
comfort than they do while they are working their way 
in professional pursuits. For those actually in want of 
companionship, I suppose they will always incline to the 
hotel, or the boarding-house, or the " cheerful family, 
musically inclined." 



242 



OPPOSITE A CABSTAND. 

' ! 

FOR some little time I have been confined to the house. 
Instead of going abroad after breakfast, I stay in the 
dining-room, and I generally manage to limp to the 
dining-room windows. Now just opposite these windows 
is a cabstand. I used to think that cabstand a nui- 
sance, but the truth now dawns upon me that there is a 
compensation in most things. It is only some weeks ago 
that I was awoke from a slumber, tranquil, but perhaps 
too deep, through a late supper and potations, with a 
burning pain in the ball of my great toe, and consider- 
able constitutional disturbance. It so happened that the 
worthy and rubicund vicar called on me that next morn- 
ing, accompanied by his churchwarden, hardly less worthy, 
and a shade more rubicund, on the subject of the parish 
charities. When I mentioned to them my dolorous state 
by various gestures and lively expression, they testified 
their sympathy and even their gratification. The reve- 
rend and the approximately -reverend gentlemen ex- 
plained to me that I was indubitably suffering from my 
first attack of gout. They had suffered from it them- 
selves, and welcomed me warmly into their honourable 



OPPOSITE A CABSTAND. 243 

fraternity. The spectacle of an additional sufferer seemed 
to afford them a deep-seated satisfaction. The family 
doctor confirmed their unwelcome augury. He knocked 
off hot suppers and hotter potations, and put me on a 
light beverage of lithia water and cognac. He also 
ordered me to take abundant rest, which I do on the 
arm-chair, unless I hobble to the window. I am not, I 
candidly confess, a man of intellectual resources. I rarely 
look into any books beyond my business book, and, a 
very little, into a betting-book. The " Daily Telegraph " 
kindly manufactures all my opinions for me, and a game 
of cards is my best enjoyment of an evening. But the 
D. T. exhausts itself, and I can't very well play at cards 
in the daylight. So I fall back upon my resources, which 
frequently resolve themselves into the cabstand. 

When I go and look at them after breakfast, it appears 
to me that the cabman's lot in life is not an unhappy 
one. His work is not hard ; he lives out in the open air ; 
and though he says he has hardly enough to eat, I am 
quite sure that he gets a little more than is quite good 
for him to drink. He can go to sleep comfortably on his 
box, and if it rains he can get inside the carriage. Some- 
times the floor of the cab is extemporized into an alfresco 
dining-table. There is a great deal of horse-play among 
these fellows. I observe one old man who is in the habit 
of going contentedly asleep on his box. It is a favourite 
device for some one to lift up the' body of the cab from 
the ground, shake it, and let it dash upon the earth. 
One's first notion is that the somnolent driver will have 
his neck dislocated, or get concussion of the brain, but 



244 OPPOSITE A CABSTAND. 

somehow he seems to hold on. Now this is not at all an 
uncommon type of cabman a man of extreme animal 
nature, whose only notion of enjoyment is to drink and 
sleep in the sunshine. But there are some sharp fellows 
among them. There is one man who has often a hook 
with him, who has a very sharp pair of spectacles and a 
distinctive nose of his own, and an expression of counte- 
nance which shows him to be as acute and cynical as any 
of his betters. I have no doubt but that man has formed 
opinions of his own on most subjects of human interest, 
and could maintain them well in an argument. As a 
rule, the cabmen are content with their newspaper- 
many of them, indeed, cannot, or do not care to read 
and very rarely you see any of them with a book. On 
the shady side of the street they often seem to enjoy 
themselves very much, engaging in chaff or talk, reading 
the newspaper, and every now and then disappearing 
into a public, to get a penny glass of the vile stuff which- 
they know as London beer. Still business is business, 
and however grateful may be the charm of leisure, the 
cabman has a certain sum of money to make up, and he 
has a quick, alert eye to detect a possible fare in the 
least roving glance or indecisive movement of a pedes- 
trian. 

Standing much, as podagra permits, at my window, 
I know some of these cabmen very well by sight. Some 
of them I know personally. If I want a message sent, 
or a cab for any inmate of the house, I merely beckon or 
tap at the window, and there is a brisk competition. If 
you want to send a telegraphic message, you had better 



OPPOSITE A CABSTAND. 245- 

u*e a cab, as it is much quicker and no dearer than a 
messenger. I always take first cab, unless the horse is 
bad or the cab dirty. In an astonishing number of in- 
stances the horses are bad and the cabs dirty. Every now 
and then we have paragraphs, and even leaders, in the 
papers, and I have even seen some prospectuses of limited 
companies. But the cab mind is slow to move. Only 
now and then do I see a really superior carriage on the 
stand. I prefer the carriages that don't ply on Sunday, 
and I do so because I prefer the man who practically 
says, " I myself am something better than my trade ; I 
don't mean to be used up as if I were an animal, but 
claim rest for mind and body, even though I have to 
make a sacrifice for it." That is a sort of manliness to- 
be encouraged. They change the cab-horse very often, 
but not the cabman. Without doubt there is in the- 
world a prevalent feeling in favour of the muscles and 
bones of horses which does not extend to the muscles and 
bones of human beings. Now, among these cabmen there 
are some exceedingly pleasant and civil fellows, and a few 
who are very much the reverse. There is never any close- 
inquiry into the character of these men, and the result 
undoubtedly is that they number a greater amount of 
blackguards than any business in London. I remember 
having to convey a very pretty girl, at a time when my 
frame -svas lighter and my heart more susceptible than at 
present, across one of the parks, and a mile or two in the- 
suburbs. I asked him the fare, which was a weak-minded 
thing, as I ought to have known it and have had the money 
in hand. " The fare is six shillings," he answered, with 



-246 OPPOSITE A CABSTAND. 

intense emphasis on the word fare, as indicating a wic 
margin of personal dues and expectations. I am ashamc 
to say that at that verdant time I gave him the six shil- 
lings and something over for himself, whereas eighteen j 
pence would have covered his legitimate demand. One 
of these fellows in the last Exhibition year, while making 
an overcharge, caught a Tartar. The fare announced! 
himself as Sir Richard Mayne, and requested to he driven 
to Scotland Yard. There is one fellow on this stand 
whom I never employ. "When I took him to the Great 
Western Station he made a great overcharge, and then 
maintained stoutly, until he was nearly black in the face, : 
that I had expressly stipulated with him to drive fast. 
Such a stipulation would have been abhorrent to all my ! 
habits, for I pride myself on always being a quarter of an 
hour before the time. I acquired this useful habit through. 
a remark of the late Viscount Nelson, who said that being 
a quarter of an hour beforehand had given all the success 
which he had obtained in life. I thought this a very i 
easy way of obtaining success in life, and have always 
made the rule of being a quarter of an hour beforehand, 
in the remote hope that somehow or other the practice 
would conduce towards making me a viscount. Up to 
the present point, however, the desired result has not! 
accrued. With regard to this particular evilly disposed 
cabman, I have a theory that he is a ticket- of-leave man. 
If not so already, he is sure eventually to descend into 
that order of society. 

Cabmen bully ladies dreadfully. A large part of their 
undue gains is made out of timid women, especially 



OPPOSITE A CABSTAND. 247 

women who have children with them. A lady I know 
gave a cabman his fare and an extra sixpence. " Well, 
mum," said the ungracious cabman, " I'll take the money, 
but I don't thank you for it." " You have not got it 
yet," said my friend, alertly withdrawing the money, 
Impransus Jones did a neat thing the other day. He got 
into a cab, when, after a bit, he recollected that he had 
no money, or chance of borrowing any. He suddenly 
checked the driver in a great hurry, and said he had 
dropped a sovereign in the straw. He told the cabman 
that he would go to a friend's a few doors off and get a 
light. As he was pretending to do so, the cabman, as- 
Jones had expected, drove rapidly off. Thus the biter is 
sometimes bit. According to the old Latin saying, not 
always is the traveller killed by the robber, but sometimes 
the robber is killed by the traveller. When Jones- 
arrived at Waterloo Bridge the other day, he immediately 
hailed a cab, albeit in a chronic state of impecuniosity. 
The cabman munificently paid the toll, and then Jones 
drove about for many hours to try and borrow a sove- 
reign, the major part of which, when obtained, was trans- 
ferred to the cabman. There is a clergyman in London 
who tells a story of a cabman driving him home, and to- 
whom he was about to pay two shillings. He took the 
coins out of his waistcoat pocket, and then suddenly 
(recollecting the peculiar glitter, he called out, "Stop, 
cabman, I've given you two sovereigns by mistake."" 
I'* Then your honour's seen the last of them," said the 
cabman, flogging into his horse as fast as he could. Then 
' my friend felt again, and found that he had given to the- 



248 OPPOSITE A CABSTAND. 

cabman two bright new farthings which he had that day 
received, and was keeping as a curiosity for his 'children. 
There is something very irresistible in a cabman's cajolery. 
*' What's your fare ?'' I asked a cabman one day. 
4< Anything your honour pleases," he answered. "You 
rascal ; that means, I suppose, your legal fare, and any- 
thing over that you can get." "No, your honour, I just 
leave it to you." " Very well, then ; there's a sixpence 
for you." " Ah, but your honour's a gentleman," pleaded 
Paddy, and carried off double his proper fare. 

A certain amount of adventure and incident happens 
to cabmen, some glimpses of which I witness from my 
window, On the stand. Occasionally a cabman is exposed 
to a good deal of temptation, and the cabman who hesi- 
tates is lost. For instance, if a cabman is hired in the 
small hours of the morning by disreputable roughs, and 
told to be in waiting for a time, and these men subse- 
quently make their appearance again, with a heavy sack 
which obviously contains something valuable, and which 
might be plate, I think that cabman ought to give infor- 
mation in the proper quarter unless he wishes to make 
himself an accomplice. There is a distinct branch of the 
thieving business which is known as lifting portmanteaus 
from the roofs of cabs and carriages, sometimes certainly 
not without a measure of suspicion against ihe drivers. 
A cabman, however, has frequently strict ideas of profes- 
sional honour, and would as soon think of betraying his 
hirer, who in dubious cases of course hires at a very 
handsome rate, as a priest of betraying the security of the 
confessional or the doctor of the sick chamber. Even 



OPPOSITE A CABSTAND. 24 

cabmen must have severe shocks to their nerves at times. 
For instance, that cabman who found that he had a car- 
riage full of murdered children ; or suppose two gentle- 
manly-looking men having taken a cab, and the driver 
finds that one is gone and that the other is plundered 
and stupified with chloroform. Very puzzled, too, is the 
cabman when he stops at an address and finds that his 
fare, perhaps the impecunious Jones, has bolted in 
transitn, or, if he goes into a city court, has declined to 
emerge by the way of his original entrance. " A queer 
thing happened this afternoon to me sir," said a cabman. 
" A gentleman told me to follow him along the High 
Street, Marylebone, and to stop when he stopped. Pre- 
sently I heard a scream : he had seized hold of a lovely 
young creature, and was calling out, ' So I have found 
you at last, madam. Come away with me.' She went 
down on her knees to him, and said, * Have mercy on 
me, Robert. I can't go home to you.' 'Stuff and 
nonsense/ he says, and lifts her up in his arms, as if she 
had been a baby, and bundles her into the cab. ' And 
what d'ye want with the young woman, I makes bold to 

k?' says I. 'What's that to you?' he said. ' I'm 
her husband, drive sharp.' I took 'em to a big house in 
a square, when he gives me half a sovereign, and slams 
the door in my face." "I suppose, cabman," I said, 

you sometimes get queer jobs, following people, and 
things of that kind?" "Sometimes, sir, and I know 
men who have seen much queerer things than I have ever 
seen, though I've seen a few. When a man's following 
some one, perhaps a young fellow following a pretty girl, 



250 OPPOSITE A CABSTAND, 

and he doesn't like to be seen. I don't mind the h 
being after the girls, that's natural enough, but there 
worse doings than that in the way of dodgings." 
told me several things that might have figured in a volume 
of detective experiences. There were some gentlemen 
he said, turning to lighter matters, who could make 
themselves very comfortable for the night in a four 
wheeler. There was a gent that was locked out of his owi 
house in the race week, and found several hotels closed 
"who took his cab for a night, and made himself as comfort 
able as if he were in his own bed (which I rather doubted) 
from two in the morning till seven. He charged him tw< 
shillings an hour all the same. One night he took 
gentleman and lady to a dinner-party in Russell Square 
They forgot to pay him. He waited till they came ou 
at twelve o'clock, and charged them ten shillings. He 
could carry a powerful lot of luggage on his cab. Had i 
full inside, and so much luggage that it might hav; 
toppled over, Asked him what was the largest numbei 
of people he ever carried. He said he had carried seven- 
teen at a go once. He was the last cab at Cremornc 
once, but the fellow really did it for a lark. He had five 
or six inside, and a lot of them on the roof, one or two on 
the box. and one or two on the horse. He might have 
lost his license, but he made nearly thirty shillings by it, 
The longest journey he ever took was when he drove ' 
gentleman down to Brighton in a hansom. He had 
repeatedly taken them to Epsom and also to "Windsor. 
He did the distance to Brighton in six hours, changing 
the horse half-way. There was a little bit of romance 



OPPOSITE A CABSTAND. 251 

belonging to the stand, I found out. Did I see the 
handsome girl who came every now and then to the 
stand to the good-looking old fellow in the white hat. He 
was the proprietor of four cabs, and was always driving 
one. She stayed at home and took the orders. I found 
afterwards that shg was a very good girl, with a well- 
known character for her quick tongue and her pretty face. 
I was assured by an officer that the fair cabbess was at a 
Masonic ball, and a certain young duke picked her out 
as the nicest girl in the room, and insisted on dancing 
with her, to the great disgust of his people who were with 
him. I heard another story of the cabstand which was 
serio-comic enough, and indicated some curious vagaries 
3f human nature. There was one cabman who had a 
handsome daughter who had gone wrong, or, at all events, 
ot the credit of it. She used continually to come down 
KO the stand, and give her old father a job. He used to 
Irive her about, dressed as splendidly as he was shabbily, 
md he would take her money as from any other fare, 
[ and expect his tip over and above. 

If cabmen were satisfied with their legal fares many 
people would take cabs who do not now care to be 
imposed on or annoyed. I generally give twopence or 
threepence on the shilling additional, which I think is 
'airly their due, but I sometimes get mutterings for not 
making it more. The cab trade is more and more 
getting into the hands of a few large proprietors, some of 
whom have seventy or eighty cabs. The tendency of 
this must be to improve the cabs. When the cabs make 
their average profit of ten or twelve shillings a day, this- 



252 OPPOSITE A CABSTAND. 






must be a lucrative business. The driver does well who 
makes a profit of thirty shillings a week or a little over. 
All the responsibility is with the cab proprietor, and he 
generally keeps a sharp look-out after the men, and will 
give them uncommonly scanty credit. As a rule, though 
the rule is often relaxed, they must pay down a stated 
sum before they are allowed to take out the cab. Th 
sum varies with the season, as also does the number 
cabs. There are some hundred cabs less in Novembe 
than in the height of the season. The hansom busines 
of course forms the aristocracy of the trade. With 
good horse, a clean carriage, and a sharp, civil driver 
there is nothing more pleasant than bowling along on 
good road, with a pleasant breeze coursing around. Th 
night-trade is the worst in horses, carriages, men, an 
remuneration to those concerned. Some of these ca 
horses were once famous horses in their day, which hoc 
their pictures or photographs taken, and won cups a 
races. There are also decayed drivers, who harmoniz 
sadly and truly with the decayed animals. They sa 
there are one or two men of title in the ranks, an 
several who have run through good fortunes men wh 
have come to utter smash in the army or the universities 
the number of whom is probably larger than is general! 
supposed, and come to cab-driving as their ultima! 
resource, and only more congenial than quill-drivi% 
There is a good deal of interest felt in cabmen by man 
religious and philanthropic people. Their experienc 
and strong mother wit, their habits of keen observation 
and consequently of marvellous acuteness, mike then 






OPPOSITE A CABSTAND. 



253 



reat favourites with those who study the humours of the 
jtreet. Archbishop Tait, when he was in London, used 
it times, we believe, to collect as many as he could in 
.some stables at Islington and preach to them. It is 
easier, however, to get at cabby than to make a durable 
impression on him. It would help, however, to humanize 
him if some of us were more humane and considerate 
towards his " order." 



254 



AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK.' 




THERE is a passage in old Pepys's Diary, written two 
centuries and odd ago, which, thanks to the permanence 



AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 255 

of our English institutions, would do very well for the 
present day : " Walked into St. James's Park and there 
found great and very noble alterations . . . 1662, 
July 27, I went to walk in the Park, which is now every 
day more and more pleasant by the new works upon it." 
Such eulogistic language is justly due to Mr. Layard and 
his immediate predecessor at the Board of Works. Sup- 
pose that I live at Bayswater, and my business takes me 
down to Westminster every day, it is certainly best for 
me that, instead of taking 'bus, or cab, or underground 
railway, I should, like honest Pepys, saunter in the Park 
and admire the many " noble alterations." I venture to 
call poor Pepys honest because he is so truthful ; but 
never thinking that his cipher would be discovered he has 
mentioned in his Diary so many unprintable things, that 
I am afraid we must use that qualifying phrase " indiffe- 
rently honest." Several gentlemen who live at Bays- 
water and practise at Westminster may find that the 
phrase suits well, and a man's moral being may be all 
the better, as through lawns and alleys and copses, where 
each separate step almost brings out a separate vignette 
of beauty, he traverses in a north-westerly direction the 
whole length of our Parks. He turns aside into St. 
James's Park, and then goes through the Green Park 
and crosses Piccadilly to lounge through Hyde Park, and 
so home through Kensington Gardens. The alterations 
this season in Hyde Park are very noticeable. All the 
Park spaces recently laid out have been planned in a 
style of beauty in harmony with what previously existed ; 
a beauty, I think, unapproachable by the many gardens 



256 AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 

of Paris, or the Prado of Madrid, the Corso of Rome, the 
Strado di Toledo of Naples, the Glacis of Vienna. The 
most striking alterations are those of the Park side near 
the Brompton road, where the low, hare, .uneven ground, 
as if hy the magic touch of a transformation, is become 
exquisite garden spaces with soft undulations, set with 
starry gems of the most exquisite flowers, hordered by 
freshest turf. The palings which the mob threw down 
have been all nobly replaced, and more and more restora- 
tion is promised by a Government eager to be popula- 
with all classes. Most of all, the mimic ocean of the 
Serpentine is to be renewed ; and when its bottom is 
levelled, its depth diminished, and the purity of the, 
water secured, we shall arrive at an almost ideal perfec- 
tion. 

As we take our lounge in the afternoon it is necessary 
to put on quite a different mental mood as we pass from 
one Park to another. "We pass at once from turmoil 
into comparative repose as we enter the guarded enclo- 
sure encircled on all sides by a wilderness of brick and 
mortar. You feel quite at ease in that vast palatial 
garden of St. James. Your office coat may serve in St. 
James's, but you adorn yourself with all adornments for 
Hyde Park. You go leisurely along, having adjusted 
your watch by the Horse Guards, looking at the soldiers, 
and the nurses, and the children, glancing at the island, 
and looking at the ducks the dainty, overfed ducks 
suggesting all sorts of ornithological lore, not to mention 
low materialistic associations of green peas or sage and 
onions. Those dissipated London ducks lay their heads 



AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 257 

under their wings and go to roost at quite fashionable 
hours, that would astonish their primitive country 
brethren. I hope you like to feed ducks, my friends. 
All great, good-natured people have a " sneaking kind- 
ness" for feeding ducks. There is a most learned and 
sagacious bishop who won't often show himself to human 
bipeds, but he may be observed by them in his grounds 
feeding ducks while philosophising on things in general, 
and the University Tests in particular. Then what 
crowded reminiscences we might have of St. James's 
Park and of the Mall of sovereigns and ministers, 
courtiers and fops, lords and ladies, philosophers and 
thinkers ! By this sheet of water, or rather by the pond 
that then was a favourite resort for intending suicides, 
Charles II. would play with his dogs or dawdle with his 
mistresses ; feeding the ducks here one memorable morn- 
ing when the stupendous revelation of a Popish plot was 
made to his incredulous ears ; or looking grimly towards 
the Banqueting Hall where his father perished, when the 
debate on the Exclusion Bill was running fiercely high. 
But the reminiscences are endless which belong to St. 
James's Park. Only a few years ago there was the 
private entrance which Judge Jeffreys used to have by 
special licence into the Park, but now it has been done 
away. There were all kinds of superstitions floating 
about in the uninformed Westminster mind about Judge 
Jeffreys. What Sydney Smith said in joke to the poach- 
ing lad, " that he had a private gallows," was believed by 
the Westmonasterians to be real earnest about Jeffreys 
that he used after dinner to seize hold of any individual 

K 



258 AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 

to whom lie might take a fancy and hang him up in froi 
of his house for his own personal delectation. I am no^ 
reconciled to the bridge that is thrown midway across, 
although it certainly limits the expanse of the ornamental 
water. But standing on the ornamental bridge, and 
looking both westward and eastward, I know of hardly 
anything comparable to that view. That green neat 
lawn and noble timber, and beyond the dense foliage the 
grey towers of the Abbey, and the gold of those Houses 
of Parliament, which, despite captious criticism, will 
always be regarded as the most splendid examples of the 
architecture of the great Victorian era, and close at hand 
the paths and the parterres, cause the majesty and great- 
ness of England to blend with this beautiful oasis islanded 
between the deserts of "Westminster and Pimlico. Look- 
ing westward, too, towards Buckingham Palace the 
palace, despite exaggerated hostile criticism, is at least 
exquisitely proportioned ; but then one is sorry to hear 
about the Palace that the soldiers are so ill stowed away 
there ; and the Queen does not like it ; and the Hano- 
verian animal peculiarly abounds. We recollect that 
once when her Majesty was ill, a servant ran out of the 
palace to charter a cab and go for the doctor, because 
those responsible for the household had not made bette) 
arrangements. In enumerating the Parks of London, 
we ought not to forget the Queen's private garden o: 
Buckingham Palace, hardly less than the Green Park in 
extent, and so belonging to the system of the lungs o 
London. 

But we now enter the great Hyde Park itself, assuredh 



AFTERNOONS IN "THE PARK." 259 

the most brilliant spectacle of the kind which the world 
can show. It is a scene which may well tax all your 
powers of reasoning and of philosophy. And you must 
know the Park very well, this large open drawing-room 
which in the season London daily holds, before you can 
sufficiently temper your senses to be critical and analytical 
before you can eliminate the lower world, the would-be 
fashionable element, from the most affluent and highest 
kind of metropolitan life before you can judge of the 
splendid mounts and the splendid comparisons, between 
fine carriages and fine horses fine carriages where per- 
haps the cattle are lean and poor, or fine horses where 
the carriages are old and worn ; the carriages and horses 
absolutely gorgeous, but with too great a display ; and, 
again, where the perfection is absolute, but with as much 
Iquietude as possible, the style that chiefly invites ad- 
miration by the apparent desire to elude it. In St. 
(James's Park you may lounge and be listless if you like ; 
but in Hyde Park, though you may lounge, you must 
tstill be alert. Very pleasant is the lounge to the outer 
: nan, but in the inner mind you must be observant, pre- 
pared to enjoy either the solitude of the crowd, or to 
hatch the quick glance, the silvery music of momentary 
[ uerriment, then have a few seconds of rapid, acute dia- 
gue, or perhaps be beckoned into a carriage by a friend 
dth space to spare. As you lean over the railings you 
erhaps catch a sight of a most exquisite face a face 
lat is photographed on the memory for its features and 
xpression. If you have really noticed such a face the 
ay is a whiter day to you ; somehow or other you have 

K3 



260 AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK:'' 

made an advance. But it is mortifying, when you con 
template this beautiful image, to see some gilded yout 
advance, soulless, brainless, to touch the fingers dear 
yourself and look into eyes which he cannot fathom 01 
comprehend. Still more annoying to think that a game 
is going on in the matrimonial money market. I some- 
times think that the Ladies' Mile is a veritable female 
Tattersall's, where feminine charms are on view and the 
price may be appraised the infinite gambols and curvet- 
tings of high-spirited maidenhood. But I declare on my 
conscience that I believe the Girl of the Period has a 
heart, and that the Girl of the Period is not so much to 
blame as her mamma or her chaperone. 

But, speaking of alterations, I cannot say that all the 
alterations are exactly to my mind. It is not at all 
pleasing that the habit of smoking has crept into Rotten 
Row. The excuse is that the Prince smokes. But be- 
cause one person of an exceptional and unique position, 
doubtless under exceptional circumstances, smokes, that 
is no reason why the mass should follow the example. 
Things have indeed changed within the last few years ; 
the race is degenerating into politeness. In the best of 
his stories, " My Novel," Lord Lytton makes Harley, his 
hero, jeer at English liberty ; and he says : " I no more 
dare smoke this cigar in the Park at half-past six, when 
all the world is abroad, than I dare pick my Lord Chan- 
cellor's pocket, or hit the Archbishop of Canterbury a 
thump on the nose." Lord Hatherley's pocket is still 
safe, and we are not yet come to days, though we seem 
to be nearing them, when a man in a crowd may send a 



AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 261 

blow into a prelate's fac3. We have had such days 
before, and we may have them again. But smoking is 
now common enough, and ought to be abated as a 
nuisance. Some ladies like it, and really like it ; and 
that is all very well, but other ladies are exceedingly 
annoyed. A lady takes her chair to watch the moving 
panorama, intending perhaps to make a call presently, 
and men are smoking within a few paces to her infinite 
annoyance and the spoiling of her pleasure. Her dress 
is really spoilt, and there is the trouble of another toilet. 
Talking of toilets, I heard a calculation the other day of 
how many the Princess of Wales had made in a single 
day. She had gone to the laying of the foundation stone 
of Earlswood asylum, and then to the great State break- 
fast at Buckingham Palace, and then a dinner and a ball, 
and one or two other things. The Princess truly works 
very hard, harder indeed than people really know. I 
went the other day to a concert, where many a one was 
asked to go, and the Princess was there, in her desire to 
oblige worthy people, and sat it all through to the very 
last with the pleasantest smiles and the most intelligent 
attention. Let me also, since I am criticizing, say that 
the new restaurant in the Park is a decided innovation, 
and that to complete the new ride, to carry Rotten Row 
all round the Park, is certainly to interfere with the en- 
joyment of pedestrians. It is, however, to be said, in 
justice, that the pedestrians have the other parks pretty 
much to themselves. There is, however, a worse error 
still, in the rapid increase of the demi-monde in the Park. 
A man hardly feels easy in conducting a lady into the 



262 AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK:' 






Park and answering all the questions that may be put to 
him respecting the inmates of gorgeous carriages that 
sweep by. These demireps make peremptory conditions 
that they shall have broughams for the Park and tickets 
for the Horticultural, and even for the fetes at the Bo- 
tanical Gardens. This is a nuisance that requires to be 
abated as much as any in Regent Street or the Hay- 
market. The police ought to have peremptory orders to 
exclude such carriages and their occupants. Twenty 
years ago there was a dead set made in Cheshire, against 
the aspirants of Liverpool and Manchester, by the gentry 
of that county most famous for the pedigrees of the 
gentry, who wished to maintain the splendour of family 
pride. For instance, the steward of a county ball went 
up to a manufacturer who was making his eighty thou- 
sand a year, and told him that no tradesman was ad- 
mitted. That was of course absurd; but still, if that 
was actually done, an inspector should step up to the 
most fashionable Mabel or Lais, and turn her horses' 
heads, if obstreperous, in the direction of Bridewell or 
Bow Street. Anonyma has ruled the Park too much. 
The favourite drive used to be round the Serpentine ; but 
when the prettiest equipage in London drew all gazers to 
the Ladies' Mile, the Serpentine became comparatively 
unused, and the Ladies' Mile, ground infinitely inferior, 
became the favourite until the renovated Serpentine or 
change of whim shall mould anew the fickle, volatile 
shape of fashionable vagary. 

At this present time Mr. Alfred Austin's clever satire 
<( The Season" a third edition of which is published 



AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 263, 

occurs to me. The poem is a very clever one, and it is 
even better appreciated on the other side of the Channel 
than on this, as is evidenced by M. Forques' article on 
the subject in the " Revue des Deux Mondes." We 
will group together a few passages from Mr. Austin's 
vigorous poem, belonging to the Parks. 

" I sing the Season, Muse! whose sway extends 
Where Hyde begins, beyond where Tyburn ends ; 
Gone the broad glare, save where with borrowed bays 
Some female Phaeton sets the drive ablaze. 
Dear pretty fledglings ! come from country nest, 
To nibble, chirp, and flutter in. the west; 
Whose clear, fresh faces, with their fickle frown 
And favour, start like Spring upon the town ; 
Lass dear, for damaged damsels, doomed to wait ; 
Whose third fourth ? season makes half desperate. 
Waking with warmth, less potent hour by hour 
(As magnets heated lose attractive power). 
Or you, nor dear nor damsels, tough and tart, 
Unmarketable maidens of the mart, 
Who, plumpness gone, fine delicacy feint, 
And hide your sins in piety and paint. 

" Incongruous group, they come; the judge's hack, 
With knees as broken as its rider's back : 
The counsel's courser, stumbling through the throng, 
With wind e'en shorter than its lord's is long : 
The foreign marquis's accomplished colt 
Sharing its owner's tendency to bolt. 

" Come let us back, and whilst the Park's alive, 
Lean o'er the railings, and inspect the Drive. 
Still sweeps the long procession, whose array 
Gives to the lounger's gaze, as wanes the day, 
Its rich reclining and reposeful forms, 
Still as bright sunsets after mists or storms ; 



264 AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 

Who sit and smile (their morning wranglings o'er, 

Or dragged and dawdled through one dull day more), 

As though the life of widow, wife and girl, 

Were one long lapsing and voluptuous whirl. 

O, poor pretence ! what eyes so blind but see 

The sad, however elegant ennui ? 

Think you that blazoned panel, prancing pair, 

Befool our vision to the weight they bear ? 

The softest ribbon, pink-lined parasol, 

Screen not the woman, though they deck the doll. 

The padded corsage and the well-matched hair, 

Judicious jupon spreading out the spare, 

Sleeves well designed false plumpness to impart, 

Leave vacant still the hollows of the heart. 

Is not our Lesbia lovely ? In her soul 

Lesbia is troubled : Lesbia hath a mole ; 

And all the splendours of that matchless neck 

Console not Lesbia for its single speck. 

Kate comes from Paris, and a wardrobe brings, 

To which poor Edith's are " such common things ;" 

Her pet lace shawl has grown not fit to wear, 

And ruined Edith dresses in despair." 

Mr. Austin is sufficiently severe upon the ladies, esj 
cially those whose afternoons in the Park have some 
respondence with their " afternoon of life." I think that 
the elderly men who affect youthful airs are every whit 
as numerous and as open to sarcasm. Your ancient bud; 
is always a fair butt. And who does not know these 
would-be juveniles, their thin, wasp -like waists, theii 
elongated necks and suspensory eye-glasses, their elabo- 
rate and manufactured hair ? They like the dissipation! 
of youth so well that they can conceive of nothing mon 
glorious, entirely ignoring that autumnal fruit is, afte: 
all, better than the blossom or foliage of spring or earb 



AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 265 

autumn. All they know indeed of autumn is the variega- 
tion and motley of colour. The antiquated juvenile is 
certainly one of the veriest subjects for satire ; and anti- 
quated juveniles do abound of an afternoon in Rotten 
Row. Nothing we can say about a woman's padding can 
! be worse than the padding which is theirs. All their 
idiotic grinning cannot hide the hated crows'-feet about 
i their goggle, idiotic eyes. They try, indeed, the power 
; of dress to the utmost ; but in a day when all classes are 
alike extravagant in dress, even the falsity of the first 
impression will not save them from minute criticism. 
', Talk to them and they will draw largely on the reminis- 
i cences of their youth, perhaps still more largely on their 
faculty of invention. What a happy dispensation it is 
in the case of men intensely wicked and worldly, that in 
j, youth, when they might do infinite evil, they have not 
the necessary knowledge of the world and of human na- 
ture to enable them to do so ; and when they have a 
store of wicked experience, the powers have fled which 
would have enabled them to turn it to full account ! At 
this moment I remember a hoary old villain talking 
ribaldry with his middle-aged son, both of them dressed 
to an inch of their lives, and believing that the fashion of 
this world necessarily endures for ever. Granting the 
tyranny and perpetuity of fashion for in the worst times 
of the French revolution fashion still maintained its sway, 
and the operas and theatres were never closed still each 
individual tyrant of fashion has only his day, and often 
the day is a very brief one. Nothing is more becoming 
han gray hairs worn gallantly and well, and when accom- 



266 AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 

panied with sense and worth they have often borne away 
a lovely bride, rich and accomplished, too, from, some 
silly, gilded youth. I have known marriages between 
January and May, where May has been really very fond 
of January. After all, the aged Adonis generally pairs 
off with some antiquated Venus ; the juvenilities on each 
side are eliminated as being common to both and of 
no real import, and the settlement is arranged by the 
lawyers and by family friends on a sound commercial 
basis. 

It is very easy for those who devote themselves to the 
study of satirical composition, and cultivate a sneer for 
things in general, to be witty on the frivolities of the 
Park. And this is the worst of satire, that it is bound 
to be pungent, and cannot pause to be discriminating and 
just. Even the most sombre religionist begins to under- 
stand that he may use the world, without trying to drain 
its sparkling cup to the dregs. Hyde Park is certainly 
not abandoned to idlesse. The most practical men recog- 
nise its importance and utility to them. There are good 
wives who go down to the clubs or the Houses in their 
carriages to insist that their lords shall take a drive 
before they dine and go back to the House. And when 
you see saddle-horses led up and down in Palace Yard, 
the rider will most probably take a gallop before he 
omes back to be squeezed and heated by the House of 
Commons, or be blown away by the over-ventilation of 
the House of Lords. A man begins to understand that 
it is part of his regular vocation in life to move about in 
the Park. And all men do so, especially when the sun's 



i in 
m'sl 



AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 267 

beams are tempered and when the cooling evening breeze 
is springing up. The merchant from the City, the lawyer 
from his office, the clergyman from his parish, the gover- 
ness in her spare hours, the artist in his love of nature 
and human nature, all feel that the fresh air and the fresh 
faces will do them good. There was a literary man who 
took a Brompton apartment with the back windows front- 
ing the Park. Hither he used to resort, giving way to- 
the fascination which led him, hour after hour, to study 
the appearances presented to him. The subject is, in- 
deed, very interesting and attractive, including especially 
the very popular study of flirtation in all its forms and 
branches. If you really want to see the Row you must 
go very early in the afternoon. Early in the afternoon 
the equestrians ride for exercise ; later they ride much 
in the same way as they promenade. The Prince, for a 
long time, used to ride early in the afternoon, if only to- 
save himself the trouble of that incessant salutation which 
must be a serious drawback on H. R. H.'s enjoyment of 
his leisure. Or, again, late in the evening, it is inte- 
resting to note the gradual thinning of the Park and its 
new occupants come upon the scene. The habitue of 
Rotten Row is able, with nice gradations, to point out 
how the cold winds and rains of the early summer have, 
night after night, emptied the Park at an earlier hour, 
or how a fete at the Horticultural, or a gala at the Crys- 
tal Palace, has sensibly thinned the attendance. As the 
affluent go home to dress and dine, the sons and daugh- 
ters of penury who have shunned the broad sunlight creep 
out into the vacant spaces. The last carriages of those 



268 AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 

who are going home from the promenade meet the first 
carriages of those who are going out to dine. Only two 
nights ago I met the carriage of Mr. Disraeli and his 
wife. I promise you the Viscountess Beaconsfield looked 
magnificent. Curiously enough, they were dining at the 
same house where, not many years ago, Mr. Disraeli 
dined with poor George Hudson. "When Mr. Hudson 
had a dinner given to him lately, it is said that he was 
much affected, and told his hosts that its cost would have 
kept him and his for a month. 

The overwhelming importance of the Parks in London 
is well brought out by that shrewd observer, Crabb 
Robinson, in his Diary. Under February 15, 1818, 
he writes : " At two I took a ride into the Regent's 
Park, which I had never seen before. When the trees 
are grown this will be really an ornament to the capital ; 
and not a mere ornament, but a healthful appendage. 
The Highgate and Hampstead Hill is a beautiful object ; 
and within the Park the artificial water, the circular 
belt or coppice, the few scattered bridges, &c., are objects 
of taste. I really think this enclosure, with the new 
street leading to it from Carlton House [Regent Street] 
will give a sort of glory to the Regent's government, 
greater than the victories of Trafalgar and Waterloo, 
glorious as these are." Here again, almost at haphazard, 
is a quotation from an American writer : " So vast is the 
extent of these successive ranges, and so much of Eng- 
land can one find, as it were, in the midst of London. 
Oh, wise and prudent John Bull, to ennoble . thy metro- 
polis with such spacious country walks, and to sweeten it 



AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 269 

so much with country air ! Truly these lungs of London 
are vital to such a Babylon, and there is no beauty to be 
compared to them in any city I have ever seen. I do 
not think the English are half proud enough of their 
capital, conceited as they are about so many things be- 
sides. Here you see the best of horse-flesh, laden with 
the " porcelain clay" of human flesh. Ah ! how dar- 
lingly the ladies go by, and how ambitiously their favoured 
companions display their good fortune in attending them. 
Here a gay creature rides independently enough with her 
footman at a respectful distance. She is an heiress, and 
the young gallants she scarce deigns to notice are dying 
for love of her and her guineas." 

But, after all, is there anything more enjoyable in its 
way than Kensington Gardens ? You are not so neglige 
as in St. James's, but it is comparative undress compared 
with Hyde Park. Truly there are days and even in the 
height of the season too when you may lie down oa the 
grass and gaze into the depth of sky, listening to the 
murmurous breeze, and that far-off hum which might be 
a sound of distant waves, and fancy yourself in Eavenna's 
immemorial wood. Ah, what thrilling scenes have come 
off beneath these horse-chestnuts with their thick leaves 
and pyramidal blossoms ! And if only those whispers 
were audible, if only those tell-tale leaves might murmur 
their confessions, what narratives might these supply of 
the idyllic side of London life, sufficient to content a 
legion of romancists ! It is a fine thing for Orlando to 
have a gallop by the side of his pretty ladylove down the 
Row, but Orlando knows very well that if he could only 



AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 

draw her arm through his and lead her down some 
in those gardens, it would be well for him. Oh, yielding 
hands and eyes ! oh, mantling blushes and eloquent 
tears ! oh, soft glances and all fine tremor of speech, in 
those gardens more than in Armina's own are ye abound- 
ing. There is an intense human interest about Kensing- 
ton Gardens which grows more and more, as one takes 
one's walks abroad and the scene becomes intelligible. 
See that slim maid demurely reading beneath yonder 
trees, those old trees which artists love in the morning to 
come and sketch. She glances more than once at her 
watch, and then suddenly with surprise she greets a 
lounger. I thought at the very first that her surprise 
was an affectation; and as I see how she disappears 
with him through that overarching leafy arcade my sur- 
mise becomes conviction. As for the nursery maids who 
let their little charges loiter or riot about, or even sedater 
governesses with their more serious aims, who will let 
gentlemanly little boys and girls grow very conversa- 
tional, while they are very conversational themselves ] 
with tall whiskered cousins or casual acquaintance, why, 
I can only say, that for the sake of the most maternal 
hearts beating in this great metropolis, I am truly rejoiced 
to think that there are no carriage roads through the 
Gardens, and the little ones can hardly come to" any very 
serious mischief. 

Are you now inclined, my friends, for a little and I 
promise you it shall really be a little discourse concern- 
ing those Parks, that shall have a slight dash of litera- 
ture and history about it ? First of all, let me tell yo u 



AFTERNOONS IN " THE PABK." 271 

that in a park you ought always to feel loyal, since for 
our Parks we are indebted to our kings. The very defini- 
tion of a park is I assure you I am quoting the great 
Blackstone himself" an enclosed chase, extending only 
over a man's own grounds," and the Parks have been the 
grounds of the sovereign's own self. It is true of more 
than one British Cassar : 

" Moreover he hath left you all his walks, 
His private arbours and new-planted orchards, 
On this side Tibur ; he hath left them you 
And to your heirs for ever ; common pleasures 
To walk abroad and recreate yourselves." 

Once in the far distant time they were genuine parks with 
beasts of chase. We. are told that the City corporation 
hunted the hare at the head of the conduit, where Con- 
duit Street now stands, and killed the fox at the end of 
St. Giles's. St. James's Park was especially the courtier's 
park, a very drawing-room of parks. How splendidly 
over the gorgeous scene floats the royal banner of Eng- 
land, at the foot of Constitution Hill, which has been truly 
called the most chastely-gorgeous banner in the world ! 
If you look at the dramatists of the Restoration you find 
frequent notices of the Park, which are totally wanting 
in the Elizabethan dramatists, when it was only a nursery 
for deer. Cromwell had shut up Spring Gardens, but 
Charles II. gave us St. James's Park. In the next 
century the Duke of Buckingham, describing his house, 
says : " The avenues to this house are along St. James's 
Park, through rows of goodly elms on one hand and 
flourishing limes on the other ; that for coaches, this for 



272 AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 






walking, with the Mall lying between them." It was in 
the Park that the grave Evelyn saw and heard his gra- 
cious sovereign " hold a very familiar discourse with Mrs. 
Nellie, as they called an impudent comedian, she looking 
out of her garden on a terrace at the top of the wall." 
Here Pepys saw " above all Mrs. Stuart in this dress, 
with her hat cocked and a red plume, with her sweet eye, 
little Roman nose, and excellent taille, the greatest 
beauty I ever saw, I think, in my life." Or take a play 
from Etheridge : 

" Enter SIR FOPLING FLUTTER and his equipage. 

11 Sir Fop. Hey ! bid the coachman send home four of 
his horses and bring the coach to Whitehall ; I'll walk 
over the Park. Madam, the honour of kissing your fair 
hands is a happiness I missed this afternoon at my lady 
Townly's. 

" Leo. You were very obliging, Sir Fopling, the last 
time I saw you there. 

" Sir Fop. The preference was due to your wit and 
beauty. Madam, your servant. There never was so 
sweet an evening. 

" Bellinda. It has drawn all the rabble of the town 
hither. 

" Sir Fop. ' Tis pity there is not an order made that 
none but the beau monde should walk here." 

In Swift's " Journal to Stella " we have much men- 
tion of the Park : " to bring himself down," he says, that 
being the Banting system of that day, he used to start on 
his walk about sunset. Horace "VValpole says : " My 
lady Coventry and niece Waldegrave have been mobbed 



AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 273 

in the Park. I am sorry the people of England take all 
their liberty out in insulting pretty women." He else- 
where tells us with what state he and the ladies went. 
"We sailed up the Mall with all our colours flying." 
We do not hear much of the Green Park. It was for a 
long time most likely a village green, where the citizens 
would enjoy rough games, and in the early morning 
duellists would resort hither to heal their wounded 
honour. 

Originally, Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park were 
all one. Addison speaks of it in the " Spectator," and 
it is only since the time of George II. that a severance 
has been made. Hyde Park has its own place in litera- 
ture and in history. There was a certain first of May 
when both Pepys and Evelyn were interested in Hyde 
Park. Pepys says : " I went to Hide Park to take the air, 
where was his Majesty and an innumerable appearance of 
gallants and rich coaches, being now a time of universal 
festivity and joy." It was always a great place for 
reviews. They are held there still, and the Volunteers 
have often given great liveliness to the Park on Saturday. 
Here Cromwell used to review his terrible Ironsides. It 
was Queen Caroline who threw a set of ponds into one 
sheet of water, and as the water-line was not a direct one, 
it was called the Serpentine. The fosse and low wall was 
then a new invention ; " an attempt deemed so astonish- 
ing that the common people called them ha-has to express 
their surprise at finding a sudden and unperceived check 
to their walk." It is said that a nobleman who had a 
house abutting on the Park engraved the words 



274 AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 

" 'Tis my delight to be 
In the town and the countree." 

Antiquaries may find out countless points of interest, 
and may be able to identify special localities. Once there 
were chalybeate springs in a sweet glen, now spoilt by 
the canker of ugly barracks. It was on the cards that 
the Park might have been adorned with a rotunda instead. 
Most of the literary associations cluster around Kensing- 
ton Gardens, concerning which Leigh Hunt has written 
much pleasant gossip in his " Old Court Suburb." A 
considerable amount of history and an infinite amount of 
gossip belong to Kensington Palace, now assigned to the 
Duchess of Inverness, the morganatic wife of the Duke 
of Sussex ; gossip about George II. and his wife, about 
Lord Hervey, the queen and her maids of honour, the 
bad beautiful Duchess of Kingston, the charming Sarah 
Lennox, Selwyn, March, Bubb Doddington, and that 
crew, whom Mr. Thackeray delighted to reproduce. 
There is at least one pure scene dear to memory serene, 
that the Princess Victoria was born and bred here, and at 
five o'clock one morning was aroused from her slumbers, to 
come down with dishevelled hair to hear from great nobles 
that she was now the Queen of the broad empire on 
which the morning and the evening star ever shines. 

I am very fond of lounging through the Park at an 
hour when it is well-nigh all deserted. I am not, indeed, 
altogether solitary in my ways and modes. There are 
certain carriages which roll into the Park almost at the 
time when all other carriages have left or are leaving. 
In my solitariness I feel a sympathy with those who 



AFTERNOONS IN "THE PARK." 275 

desire the coolness and freshness when they are most 
perfect. I have an interest, too, in the very roughs that 
lounge about the parks. I think them far superior to 
the roughs that lounge about the streets. Here is an 
athletic scamp. I admire his easy litheness and excel- 
lent proportion of limb. He is a scamp and a tramp, 
but then he is such, on an intelligible ajsthetical principle. 
He has flung himself down, in the pure physical enjoy- 
ment of life, just as a Neapolitan will bask in the sun- 
shine, to enjoy the turf and the atmosphere. In his 
splendid animal life he will sleep for hours, unfearing 
draught or miasma, untroubled with ache or pain, ob- 
taining something of a compensation for his negative 
troubles and privations. If you como to talk to the 
vagrant sons and daughters of poverty loitering till the 
Park is cleared, or even sleeping here the livelong night, 
you would obtain a clear view of that night side which is 
never far from the bright side of London. I am not sure 
that I might not commend such a beat as this to some 
philanthropist for his special attention. The handsome, 
wilful boy who has run away from home or school ; the 
thoughtless clerk or shopman out of work ; the poor 
usher, whose little store has been spent in illness ; the 
servant-girl who has been so long without a place, and is 
now hovering on the borders of penury and the extreme 
limit of temptation ; they are by no means rare, with their 
easily-yielded secrets, doubtless with some amount of im- 
posture, and always, when the truth comes to be known, 
with large blame attachable to their faults or weakness, 
but still with a very large percentage where some sym- 



276 AFTERNOONS IN " THE PARK." 

pathy or substantial help will be of the greatest possible 
assistance. As one knocks about London, one accumu- 
lates soucenirs of all kinds some, perhaps, that will not 
very well bear much inspection ; and it may be a pleasing 
reflection that you went to some little expenditure of time 
or coin to save some lad from the hulks or some girl from 
ruin. 



277 



LIFE IN LONDON. 

A MAN'S first residence in London is a revolution in his 
life and feelings. He loses at once no small part of his 
individuality. He was a man before, now he is a 
" party." No longer known as Mr. Brown, but as (say) 
No. XXL, he feels as one of many cogs in one of the 
many wheels of an incessantly wearing, tearing, grinding, 
system of machinery. His country notions must be 
modified, and all his life-long ways and takings-for- 
granted prove crude and questionable. He is hourly 
reminded "This is not the way in London; that this 
wont work here," or, " people always expect," and 
" you'll soon find the difference." Custom rules every- 
thing, and custom never before seemed to him half as 
strange, strong, or inexorable. The butcher always cuts 
one way and the greengrocer serves him with equal 
rigour. His orders never before seemed of so little 
importance. The independence and the take-it-or-leave- 
it indifference of the tradesmen contrast strongly with the 
obsequiousness of the country shop. However great a 
customer before he feels a small customer now. The 
tradesman is shorter and more saving of his words. He 



278 LIFE IN LONDON. 

serves, takes your money, and turns away to some one 
else, whereas in the country they indulge you with a 
little talk into the bargain. 

Competition in London is very rife. The cheap five- 
shilling hatter was soon surprised by a four-and-nine- 
penny shop opposite. Few London men could live but 
by a degree of energy which the country dealer little knows. 
The wear and tear of nerve-power and the discharge of 
brain-power in London are enormous. The London man 
lives fast. In London, man rubs out, elsewhere he rusts 
out. No doubt the mental stimulus of London staves 
off much disease, for idle men eat themselves to death 
and worry themselves to death ; but in city life neither 
gluttony nor worry has a chance, but men give bail for 
their good behaviour from ten o'clock to five, and are 
kept out of much mischief's way by force of circum- 
stances. 

Many other things contribute to make our new Lon- 
doner feel smaller in his own eyes. The living stream 
flows by him in the streets ; he never saw so many utter 
strangers to him and to each other before ; their very 
pace and destination are different ; there is a walk and 
business determination distinctly London. In other 
towns men saunter they know not whither, but nearly 
every passer-by in London has his point, and is making 
so resolutely towards it that it seems not more his way 
than his destination as he is carried on with the current ; 
and of street currents there are two, to the City and from 
the City, so distinct and persistent, that our friend can't 
get out of one without being jostled by the other. This 



LIFE IN LONDON. 279 

street stream lie may analyze, and, according to the hour 
of the day or the season of the year, the number, trades, 
and characters obey an average. In the country Dr. 
Jones drives in one day, Mr. and Mrs. Robinson and 
family walk in the next. Sometimes fifty people may be 
counted, sometimes ten, but in London there is an ebb 
and flow in the Strand as regular and uniform as in the 
Thames. The City noise begins gradually about six with 
the sweeps and the milk-pails amongst the earliest calls, 
though ponderous market-carts and night cabs are late 
and early both. This fitful rumble deepens to a steady 
roar about nine, and there is no approach to silence till 
night, and after a very short night of repose the same 
roar awakes again ; so City people live as in a mill, till 
constant wearing sound becomes to them the normal state 
of nature. 

There is a deal of education in all this. The mind is 
ever on the stretch with rapid succession of new images, 
new people, and new sensations. All business is done 
with an increased pace. The buying and the selling, the 
counting and the weighing, and even the talk over the 
counter, is all done with a degree of rapidity and bharp 
practice which brightens up the wits of this country cousin 
more than any books or schooling he ever enjoyed. All 
this tends greatly to habits of abstraction and to the bump 
of concentrativeness. The slow and prosy soon find they 
have not a chance ; but after a while, like a dull horse in 
a fast coach, they develop a pace unknown before. 

Self-dependence is another habit peculiarly of London 
growth. Men soon discover they have no longer the 



230 LIFE IN LONDON. 

friend, the relative or the neighbour of their own small 
town to fall back upon. To sink or swim is their own 
affair, and they had better make up their minds to 
depend wholly upon themselves ; for London is like a 
wilderness, not as elsewhere because there are no people 
at all, but because there are so many people, that one is 
equally far from helping another save on rare occasions. 
This inexorable self-dependence, which is essential to the 
life of a colonist in Australia, stamps to a great extent 
the character of the Londoner. Thousands of young 
doctors, lawyers, and apprentices find themselves there 
for the first time without a home or family fireside, not 
only with no one to check them, but none to interfere. 
They begin to wish they had ; for it is quite a new sen- 
sation to feel for the first time that nobody knows and 
nobody cares ; only there is the dread of destitution as a 
master, and whether they shall be penniless the next 
month, the next week, or perhaps even the very next 
day, depends on their own self-denial and self-control 
alone. Yes, necessity is the one great master that ties 
ior twelve or tourteen hours a day the driver to his lofty 
box and the cad to his narrow footboard. Indeed the 
thousands of young men, and young women too, who, far 
from the parental home, find the way to take care of 
themselves better than fond fathers and mothers ever 
dreamed of, says much for the sense and conscience of the 
present generation. 

Family people find London life as peculiar as single 
people. An omnibus man said no one trod this earth 
so little ; in bed by night, high in air all day, and with 



LIFE IN LONDON, 281 

only a few steps from one to the other. The wife of a 
clerk said that from November to February she never 
saw her husband by daylight but on Sundays. It was 
barely light when he left and it was quite dark when he 
came home ; and the husband replied he as rarely saw 
his children except they were in bed. The same man 
complained that after exhaustion for six days in a close 
office a service of two hours in a close church was ill 
suited to his day of rest. " My wife finds," he continued, 
"there is no ill-nature in London life. From envy, 
hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness, so rife in a small 
neighbourhood, she finds herself delightfully free, and I 
enjoy liberty and independence unknown before, simply 
because people know too little of each other to interfere ; 
but, on the other side, old friendship and neighbourly 
interests are wanting too." No doubt there are warm 
friendships and intimacies in London as well as in the 
country, but few and far between. People associate 
more at arm's length, and give their hand more readily 
than their heart, and hug themselves within their own 
domestic circles. You know too little of people to be 
deeply interested either in them or their fortunes, so you 
expect nothing and are surprised at nothing. An 
acquaintance may depart London life, and even this life, 
or be sold up and disappear, without the same surprise 
or making the same gap as in a village circle. 

The natural incidents of London life render changes 
far more frequent ; very different from places where the 
same family is born, bred, and dies in the same house. 
No one calls on new-comers, and not only is society slowly 



282 LIFE IN LONDON. 

formed, but after two or three years the old set have dis- 
appeared, and you find yourself alone in your own street ; 
and as to other acquaintances, the distances are too great 
to keep them up. 

Year after year, men who have planted themselves out 
of town find that town follows them. The old people of 
Hammersmith are wellnigh overtaken and made one with 
London, and so are those of Hampstead ; and the Swiss 
Cottage, like the Thatched Tavern, are simple records of 
holiday retreats, now so lost in the mazes of new streets 
that another generation will be at a loss to guess the 
origin of so rural a sign. To command the City from 
parts so distant, the railway, like the omnibus, has now 
become quite a part of a man's rent, reckoned thus : ' 
" rent, rail, and taxes, 60 a year ; " and builders and 
tenants both must calculate alike, while a town as big 
as Bath is added every fourteen months. 

The rapid extension of London suburbs affects the rich 
and pleasure-seeking too. The carriage-people cannot now 
even drive into the country. Seven miles in every direc- 
tion the road-side is cut up ; half-finished rows spoil the 
view, and " To let for building," or " No admittance but 
on business," " Goding's Entire," and omnibuses, all tend 
to mar the rural vision and to disenchant the lover of the 
picturesque. The carriage-people are therefore reduced 
to the Parks ; the streets are so crowded in the season 
that many ladies find them too great a trial of the nerves ; 
and, when in the Park, to see and to be seen, and the 
interest we take in our fellow-creatures, gradually draws 
even the most philosophical to join the throng in the 
fashionable Itov. 



LIFE IX LONDON. 283 

This makes London life more peculiar still. We live 
and move in masses ; retirement is nowhere ; life is all 
public : the streets are in winter so wet, in summer so 
hot, and always so noisy, so crowded, and so dirty, that 
the wear and tear of nerves and clothes are indeed a 
serious consideration. New residents find they must 
live better or at least more expensively. Wine to many 
becomes no longer a luxury but a necessity. They miss 
the fresh air and quiet of the country and crave a stimu- 
lus to make amends. The non-carriage people therefore 
seek houses near the Parks, and rents run up enormously. 
Still, do what you will, the roar of London is ever in 
your ears, and the fret and irritation for ever tries your 
system ; so much so that the season, that is, the only part 
of London life supposed enjoyable, no sooner begins than 
people begin to lay their plans for its end and out-of- 
towning. In August you go because others go, because 
all the world seems breaking up and off for the holidays, 
and you feel in disgrace and punishment if you don't go 
too. To say the truth, the houses get hotter and hotter, 
till the very walls feel warmed through ; the blaze of sun- 
shine makes the walls look more dingy, the chimneys 
smell, the papered grates and tinselled shavings look 
shabby, and everybody feels tired of everybody else and 
everything about them. If any one stays behind it is so 
well known to be no matter of preference when all Lon- 
don is painting, white-washing, and doing up, that it 
seems positively against your respectability ; so much so, 
that some who find it convenient to go rather late or to 
! return rather earlv are weak enough to keep their front 



284 LIFE IN LONDON. 

blinds down or shutters shut, and live and look out on 
the mews' side ! In short, out-of-towning is a point in 
which you are hardly a free agent. Your servants look 
for your going out of town, and some bargain for it at 
hiring, part because Tea-kettle Thomas and Susan want 
the change, and others for the range and riot of your 

house when you are gone. A friend in Gardens, 

where there is a fine common garden behind the house, 
says that all August and September there is a perfect 
saturnalia of cooks and charwomen and their friends 
aping their mistresses rather a loud imitation playing 
croquet, giving tea and gin parties, dancing, screaming, 
shouting, laughing, and making summer life hideous. 
Very hard ! Harder lines than ever, because you pay so 
much for this garden, boast of this garden as an oasis in 
the London desert, and after all your leafy retreat proves 
(and oftentimes and that not at this season alone) a bear- 
garden and a nuisance. 

This imperative out-of-towning at one and the same 
prescribed season is a heavy tax on London life. Taking 
your year's holiday perhaps when you don't want one, 
you cannot afford the time or money when you do want 
one. Worse still, you must take your year's holiday all 
at once. Though seven or eight weeks or more, away 
from your friends, your books, pursuits, and all the little 
pivots on which the morning turns, is too long for one 
change your establishment is disorganized and your 
home affairs want a stitch-in-time still, London life is 

London life oiice in the groove you had better conform, 

or you will find the exception on the balance more 



LIFE IN LONDON. 285 

troublesome than the rule ; and so much a year for this 
enforced ruralising, like railway fares to the suburbans, is 
a regular charge on London life. 

London visiting is as little a matter of free choice as 
our ruralising. The season for parties is most unseason- 
able. "We have melted at dinner-parties when all the 
efforts of Gunter or of Bridgeman were well exchanged 
for a little cool air, and when the wines and even the 
peaches were at eummer heat ; and we have seen ladies 
leave at eleven for balls at twelve, with more stewing and 
suffocation to follow some, perhaps, having left cool 
groves, and flowers and fruits to scent and blush unseen 
in the country, for indoor and (what should be) wintry 
hospitalities in town. 

Such hospitalities are much more expensive than in 
the country partly because London attracts chiefly the 
richer families. London business is more lucrative, at 
least to those who stand their ground. It is also well 
understood that the social advantages of London life are 
for those only who can live at a certain rate. Entertain- 
ments are in proportion to income ; and since you have 
none of the garden fetes and tea and fruit on the lawn 
nothing, in short, to offer your guests but the dinner or 
the ball alone, and since there is no little cost of dress 
and time in meeting, the meal is, all in all, quite a serious 
and formidable matter; and the rivalry in dishes and 
courses enough to sicken us, as also in plate and table 
decorations, is rife indeed. 

No doubt with young people these things pass disre- 
garded. The young can breathe any atmosphere, and, 



286 LIFE IN LONDON. 

till a certain age, " comfort " is a term but little known. 
No. The very adventure and roughing it has its charm 
provided the craving for excitement, so easily excited 
and so hard to allay, is only gratified ; and to the young 
the London season is exciting enough. The style and 
equipages of the Parks amidst more beautiful garden 
scenery than you can elsewhere behold, with all the 
gorgeous pageantry that meets the eye and the giddy 
whirl that turns the brain this, while* all is fresh and 
new and the spirits equal to the zest for so intense a 
strain this is hallucinating indeed, almost like the first 
pantomime to a child. So we freely sympathise with 
the young, and say, " My dears, be happy while you can. , 
This will serve for once or twice ; have your turn and 
then make way for others as fresh and keen as you were 
when you first began." 'Tis well all this is called " the 
season." For a few weeks the delusion may last, and 
just before the charm is wholly broken, before the tinsel 
drops off, and the broad day-light of common life brings 
down the kings and queens of society more nearly to the 
level of their admiring fellow-creatures ,the morning 
stream, with cabs and drags and loaded carriages heaped 
up with boxes, baths, and luggage various, sets in steadily 
to the railway stations, and little but the dust upon the 
faded flowers by Rotten Row, and piles of chairs, remain 
to show where the ebbing tide of fashion has so freely 
flowed. 

So much for the society fashionable for the season 
visitors ; but as to the society of residents in London it is 
ndeed peculiar. London is for the most part a city of 






LIFE IN LONDON. 287 

business ; at least, nearly all the houses occupied all the 
year round are those of busy men. Such men pass the 
day in City offices and live in the suburbs ; so much so 
that on Sundays the City churches are found so out of 
place that some are pulled down and their sites and 
materials sold to build others ; so, the City churches seem 
to follow the worshippers out of town, where the wor- 
shippers alone are found. The consequence is, that 
scarcely any man worth visiting is found at home save 
on Sundays. Sunday is the day not only for devotion 
but for friendship and home affections. The poulterer and 
the fishmonger say they send out more on Sunday than 
on other mornings. "Would that this always represented 
only friendly hospitalities! for business dinners are 
another thing, and virtually carry on the money-making 
into the Sunday. Men eat and drink in the West to 
make things pleasant in the East. Such hospitalities to 
oil the wheels of business are supposed to pay themselves 
by your " connection : " but good men grieve over such 
a profanation of the rites of hospitality. But as regards 
friendly society, the City man has the Sunday alone. 
Let us hope it is thankfully and healthily employed. As 
to the intellectual society, the possible advantages of 
London are somewhat qualified in practice. Men of talent 
are too busy : you can rarely meet one till he is half tired 
by his day's work, at a seven o'clock dinner, and rather 
the animal than the intellectual predominates then. 
We heard a country doctor complain that when he 
came to London his witty friend the Coroner was 
always sitting upon bodies, and other men of mark he 



288 LIFE IN LONDON. 

found so engrossed with the affairs of the nation in gene- 
ral, that on himself in particular they had not a minute 
to bestow. 

And this leads to the reflection that London life tends 
to improve rather the head than the heart. Every man 
is kept at his wits' ends; for London life is rather a 
hardening life : certainly there is much to civilize and to 
discipline and to control, but the affections and charities 
of our nature are rather out of their proper sphere. Com- 
petition is so keen, there is a hard struggle for life. 
Prudence, forethought, and the industrial part of the 
character are forced into growth ; but there is too much 
of the reflex feeling : the City man has too little to 
balance those feelings or to draw out others beyond the 
sphere of self. The City man from ten to four, and the 
same man at Bayswater from seven to ten, are two 
different characters. The man who has haggled at his 
office for three- and- sixpence will regale you at his house 
as if money were a jest. But still in the City or at the 
"West there is a vigilance, a reserve, and a self-defence 
a certain guarded habit unknown in rural circles. Every 
man for himself seems the law. 

In the country much contributes to draw forth the 
more genial qualities. The hospital or infirmary com- 
mittee, the board of guardians or other society for the 
good of the neighbourhood, as well as local charities and 
the claims of the many John Hobsons and Susan Smalls 
that have grown with our growth, and formed part of the 
little world and common family around us all these 
objects of kindly interest tend to keep our feelings in 



LIFE IN LONDON. 289 

exercise and remind us" of the wants and duties of our 
common nature. 

But in London we soon learn not to give in the streets, 
and do not so soon learn to follow the needy to his garret. 
The result is that the rich and charitable feel positively 
the want of objects ; and what heart- exercise is there in 
dropping shillings into a Sunday plate or in entering your 
name in cold blood for one pound one ? No doubt the 
lady in Belgrave Square duly caudles her coachman's 
wife, in the Mews behind her mansion ; but what is that 
compared to the daily bounties with the country lady's 
own hand, when she goes her round to relieve the sick, 
to school the children, and to comfort the aged about her 
own estate ? 

Nowhere as in large cities like London, as in Jerusalem 
of old, do we find Dives and Lazarus, profusion and 
poverty, luxury and starvation so near together, and yet 
with so deep a gulf between. Who would imagine, said 
a traveller in Madrid, that some gay street was simply 
the fair front and disguise of an unsuspected gaol- wall, 
with groans inaudible and misery untold at a few yards' 
distance on the other side ? Who would imagine that 
Hyde Park Gardens at six hundred a year reared high 
its imposing and columned front to conceal the worn-out 
sempstress' garret at half-a-crown a week, a stone's throw 
behind ? So true is it that a man may be lost in a crowd 
las in a desert, and starve near Leadenhall-market as well 
as in the wilds of Arabia, unless he can pay his way, or 
'some one happens to see the poor impotent folk and lend 
a helping hand. 



290 LIFE IN LONDON. 






To revert to the intellectual opportunities of London, 
let not our clever country cousins be envious without a 
cause. We doubt if London life favours the greater 
efforts of genius. There is too much excitement and too 
little repose, and the mind is perplexed, as Southey felt 
in the Reading Room of the British Museum, by the very 
affluence of its resources and the distraction of its supplies. 
Sydney Smith's friends complained that he should be 
doomed to waste his talents in the wilds of Yorkshire, 
with only an occasional visit to London. Why, this was 
the very making of such a mind as Sydney Smith's. Its 
powers would else have been frittered away in dinner- 
table talk, fruitless of his shrewd suggestions and of that 
hard common-sense which, circulating through the "Edin- 
burgh Review," in due time found expression in the 
amended laws of the land. 

It is remarked that London society is less aristocratic 
than in the days of the Regency. Without insisting 
that the friends of the Regent might not look very aris- 
tocratic now, we would observe that the aristocracy, 
though not inferior in refinement and bearing, are no 
longer distinguished from, cotton lords in wealth. That 
is true of society which is true of the bar we have few 
leaders because we have so many leaders so many who 
would well have compared with those whom it is tradi- 
tional to admire. Add to this, the aristocracy proper, now 
quite small in number, keep very much to themselves. 
You cannot mob and stare at dukes and duchesses by a 
five-shilling admittance to the Horticultural or the Bota- 
nical Gardens. For the aristocracy know the snobocracy 






LIFE IN LONDON. 291 

too well, and receive a private view of fruits and flowers, 
and as to the company, them they leave to look at each 
other. 

But man, after all, seems rural by nature, and city 
only perforce : so, even in London, we see the rural 
element break forth in sundry forms. True the old Duke 
of Queensberry, at his club through August, argued that, 
after all, town was a deal fuller than the country ; and 
Shakspearian Collier, at his pretty cottage at Maidenhead, 
said how he longed for a cabstand to add interest to his 
view yet both these men loved Nature still, though they 
were too active-minded to " babble of green fields " alone. 
All Londoners feel the same. Who has not seen flower 
culture under difficulties, and geraniums planted even in 
crockery the most ridiculous as the train passes level with 
the garrets of Limehouse or Blackfriars ? Happily our 
squares are planted with fine trees, ay, and where shall 
we see such gardens ? Country people would be surprised 
to hear that, in London, foliage is seen almost everywhere. 
It has been remarked that there is hardly a street in the 
City that cannot refresh the eye with green leaves in the 
summer. Even in St. Paul's churchyard, and from the 
back windows of the Cheapside offices, it is hard to find a 
house which cannot afford a sight of green leaves. "Who 
knows not, that what with Hyde Park and Regent's 
Park, Battersea, Victoria, and Alexandra Parks, with the 
Gardens, Botanical, Horticultural, Kew, Eichmond, and 
.Hampton Court, Windsor and Virginia Water, you must 
actually come from the country to London and its vicinity 
to see flowers, parks, and gardens in perfection ! How 

L 2 



292 LIFE IN LONDON. 

pleasant to see not the fops ogling the women in Rotten 
Row, that is not rural, but the thousands who rent the 
penny chairs by the Serpentine or Kensington Gardens, 
and the mechanics with their wives and children, who 
perhaps pay a twopenny omnibus to enjoy their share of 
those groves and lawns to which all alike contribute ! 

The river and its boats are another rural outlet, whether 
up to Kew, Richmond, and Hampton Court, or down to 
Greenwich, Gravesend, and " Rosherville, the place to 
spend a happy day." Happy shall we be when the 
Thames is pure enough to suit the finny tribes. The 
cockney is a fishing animal. How refreshing to the 
eyes like an oasis in the desert is Farlow's tackle, 
baits, and pictured trout and salmon in the Strand, and 
other fishing-tackle shops in the busiest courts from Fet- 
ter Lane to London Bridge, even a glance at which trans- 
ports us in imagination to the trolling or punt-fishing of 
the Thames, to the sea- fishing of the South Coast, or sets 
us wading in the salmon rivers of Scotland. 

A friend who lodged by Holborn Turnstile said, no 
one could believe the numbers of men with fishing-rods, 
bottles, and baskets (insuring bites at least) that passed 
every fine Sunday morning, whether for the sticklebacks 
at Highgate, or the gudgeons of the New River lovers 
of the country all. The success of the Volunteering de- 
pends partly on the same country-loving instinct. Messrs. 
Shoolbred alone could turn out a small corps, regimental 
band and all complete, to defend their silks and calicoes ; 
and these, and many another firm, have their days for a 
rural outing, for Hampton vans are now quite a Cockney 



LIFE IN LONDON. 293 

institution. There are, every year, treats for Eagged and 
other schools, for deaf mutes from asylums, and aged 
paupers from the unions ; hesides van clubs, which, like 
goose clubs and plum-pudding clubs at Christmas, take 
sixpences all the year for a jollification and a spree occa- 
sional. You may count forty vans in one stream on a 
fine May morning. 

Who has not read, "Nine hours by the sea for two 
and sixpence," advertised as freely as " nine mackerel for 
a shilling ? " and as to the Crystal Palace, it enters into 
the very customs if not the contracts of all London ser- 
vice. Even the maid-of-all-work toils for so much a-year 
expressed, and sundry days to the Crystal Palace under- 
stood. The famous Easter Hunt is, perhaps, a thing of 
the past Epping now being known less for dogs than for 
dairies, though some thirty years ago, in Old Matthew's 
" At Home," every one entered into the joke of the Cock- 
ney, in the hackney-coach, calling out for a one-and-six- 
penny fare after the stag. The Derby, and of late the 
Oxford and Cambridge boat-race, are great London days ; 
and, as to Lord's and the Oval, with the Middlesex 
Cricket Grounds, they serve as out-of-door summer clubs, 
and many a man would hardly endure the heat and dust 
of a London season without those providential retreats 
for fresh air and country sports. 

All this testifies to that yearning for green fields and 
rural sports which a life amidst bricks, pavements and 
pitching- stones, with difficulty holds under high pressure, 
and which is ever yearning to find expression in its own 
congenial sphere. 



294 



HOUSEKEEPINGS IN BELGRAVIA. 

ABOUT six or seven years ago, a gentleman of considerable 
fortune, a merchant of Liverpool, paid a visit to London 
after an absence of many years. He took an open carriage 
one fine afternoon, and drove with a friend to those quarters 
which he remembered once fields or gardens, and where 
magnificent streets and princely squares and terraces are 
now standing. After exploring the apparently interminable 
region about Bayswater, they drove to the more fashion- 
able and still newer quarter called South Kensington. 
Here this gentleman's astonishment was excited, not only 
by the vast changes in this locality, but by the style and 
importance of the dwellings, which proclaimed them to 
be prepared for the wealthy only. 

" The rents of these houses, you tell me," said he, 
turning to his friend, " range from three to seven hun- 
dred a year. Wow in the north we reckon that a man's 
rent should not exceed the tenth of his income. If you 
Londoners are guided by the same rule, what a vast 
number of people there must be amongst you with good 
comfortable incomes of from three to five thousand a 
year!" 

His friend smiled, and half shook his head, was about 
to speak, when his companion resumed 

" People with ten thousand a year are, after all, not 
numerous: one might almost count them. But where 
do all the occupiers of these houses come from ? 
Tyburnia alone could swallow up the "West End that I 



HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA, 295 

remember twenty years ago. But how is this quarter 
peopled ? " 

" Perhaps," rejoined his friend, " from, your part of 
the world from Liverpool and Manchester. But don't 
run away with false ideas of our London wealth. House- 
rent here is no criterion of a man's means. With you it 
is comparatively moderate, with us inordinately dear. 
And people of small or moderate incomes would get no 
home in London at all if they limited their rent to a 
tenth of their income. And yet," continued the Lon- 
doner, with something of a sigh, as the rent and cost of 
his own expensive abode in Tyburnia presented them- 
selves to his thoughts, " there is no item of our expendi- 
ture that we ought to study more, or more determinately 
keep down than this very one of house-rent, for one's 
expenses in this luxurious capital are very much regulated 
by the style of home and quarter one lives in. For 
instance, the class of servants that present themselves to 
you are more exorbitant in their demands, more luxurious 
in their habits, if you live in a fashionable neighbourhood, 
than if you occupy an equally large house elsewhere. 
Rather than lose a footman who had been with me some 
years I was obliged to turn him into an under-butler the 
other day, as he told me " the society he was in ren- 
dered it impossible for him to remain any longer in 
livery." 

This anecdote brought the conversation to the subject 
of household expenditure in London as compared with 
that of the great northern towns ; and the picture drawn 
by the Londoner of the habits and customs of the great 
and wealthy in the metropolis caused his friend to exclaim, 



233 HO USEKEEPING IN BEL Gil A I 'I A . 

with thankfulness, " It was well for him that he had to 
fight the battle of life elsewhere." 

" Perhaps so," rejoined his friend ; " but you, too, 
have your weak points. Whilst you are content with 
waitresses, you spend double on your table. I have seen 
an alderman's feast prepared for a party of eight, and a 
lady's request for a few oranges answered by a whole case 
arriving, &c., &c. And then, again, your wives and 
daughters are more costly in their dress than " 

" True ! True ! But we would rather spend our 
money upon them than upon flunkies." 

Six or seven years have done little to alter the habits 
of living amongst the upper classes : something, certainly, 
towards increasing their expense, and a great deal towards- 
improving and embellishing their abodes in town. The 
ugly, plain brick house, ill-lighted by windows few and 
small, yet, nevertheless, well-built, and with much sub- 
stantial comfort about it, is now superseded by a bright, 
cheerful-looking dwelling, where, if there is less space, 
there is more light and air; where, though the area it 
covers be smaller, there is more accommodation ; where, 
if the walls are made thinner and neighbours ignored, the 
convenience and comfort of all the inmates are more cared 
for; where, if the rent is higher, the rates are less 
where, in short, the attractions and advantages are so- 
obvious that those who are able to consider and follow 
their inclinations (that class of people usually so preju- 
diced against the very new) have thrown aside this feeling, 
lorsworn old associations, and adopted the new quarters 
of the town as their own. 

Shade of King James ! arise and view the scene 



HOUSEKEEPING IN DELGRAVIA. 297 

realized that filled thy acute and far-seeing eye with dis- 
may. Acres and acres of brick and plaster compass us 
around ; the pleasant country homes of England are 
<lespised; their occupants, great and small, brought by 
our iron roads into contact with the outer world, have 
had new impressions given, new desires inspired ; the 
<3alm and quiet, the leisure of country life becomes un- 
endurable, they exclaim, " Let us away ! it is not good 
ibr man to live alone" content to resign their promi- 
nence, even their individuality, if they may, though but 
as a drop to the ocean, swell the ranks of the world not 
inaptly named after their chief resort, Belgmvia. Oh 
railroads ! much have ye to answer for. Twenty years 
hence we may look in vain for the social, kindly, hospi- 
table country life now only to be met with in remote 
counties, in Cornwall, in Scotland. Already have you 
made the " Great Houses" independent of their neigh- 
bours. Their fish and their friends come down from 
town together. And the squire, the small proprietor 
despairing of husbands for his girls or his rubber for him- 
self, where the doors around are closed nine months in 
the year, leaves his acres to the care of his bailiff and 
takes refuge in the nearest watering-place, or yields to 
his wife's solicitations, and launches also into the cares 
and troubles of 

HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 

How much these three words combine ! And yet, 
have we anything to say about the homes and habits of 
Belgravia or the upper classes of London society, that 
people fancy they do not know already ? We will leave 



298 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 

our reader to settle that question by-and-by, when he 
has visited their abodes and inspected their menage in our 
company. 

Formerly, when one spoke of oneself as living in the 
West End, one gave by that single word a general idea of 
one's locality. In the present day it is necessary to specify 
the particular quarter whether Westbournia, Tyburnia, 
Belgravia, &c., for people now doubt whether the 
Regent's Park district may be classed under that general 
head; and the inhabitants of the regions round about 
Cavendish and Portman Squares speak modestly of them- 
selves as inhabiting an " old-fashioned part of the town." 
We therefore discard a term which we do not care to 
define, or run the risk of offending by so doing, and adopt 
one now generally understood to apply to all who move 
in a certain sphere of society, whether living on cne 
side of Oxford Street or the other, and derived from 
that quarter that contains fewer of the workers of life, 
and offers, perhaps, more gradations of fortune, rank, 
or fashion than any other. There may be found the 
wealthy titled, and the wealthy untitled family ; the 
fashionable without fortune, and the fashionable because 
of fortune ; those who give a prestige to the quarter they 
live in, and those who derive a prestige from living there. 
And yet little more than thirty- five years ago Belgrave 
Square was not. It owes its existence to a builder's specula- 
tion, who perceived the want of well-built first-class houses, 
and probably foresaw the increased demand that would 
2, rise from the centralizing influence of railroads. His 
speculation answered, in spite of the unhealthy reputa- 
tion of the ground, and a new suburb rapidly arose, fro- 



HO USEKEEPING IN BELGRA VIA. 299 

yoking the emulation of other builders, who have now 
nearly succeeded in their intentions of enclosing Hyde 
Park and Kensington Gardens in a labyrinth of streets 
and terraces. Small as Paris comparatively is, every one 
knows that she has distinct quarters, and that each 
quarter had a character and society of its own. The 
barriers that divide them are fast being infringed in this 
imperial reign. And we, who twenty or thirty years ago 
had less cliqueism than any other capital, are gradually 
merging into it, simply because the vast growth of the 
town has scattered one's friends so far and wide, that for 
sociable and friendly visiting people are thrown upon, 
those nearest to them, and take their tone naturally from 
that which they are in most frequent communication. 
Already there is a sort of esprit de locale (if we may so 
express it) amongst the inhabitants of the new quarters 
that the old "West Ender never dreamed of. He lived in 
London. He never thought of fighting a battle over the 
respective merits of Portman or Berkeley Square. Gros- 
venor Square, in his eyes, was ne plus ultra. And if he 
did not live there himself, it was because he could not 
afford it; so he took the best house nearest the Park 
that he could get for his money, and visited around, from 
a judge in Russell Square to a peer in Piccadilly. " How 
do you like your house ?" was a question often addressed. 
" How do you like this part of the town ?" was needless 
to him. In the present day it is the prelude to warm 
discussions ; and so sensitive are people now to remarks 
upon their district, so bitter in their objections upon 
other parts, that it has been proposed more than once 
that Tyburnia and Belgravia should settle the vexed 



300 HO USEKEEPING IN BELGEA VIA . 

question of superiority by an appeal to arms or, in com- 
mon language, " Meet and have it out in Hyde Park." 
If this feeling increases, in ten years' time each of these 
vast suburbs will become, as it were, distinct towns, with 
a character and society of their own. 

Those who remain faithful to the dingy-looking streets 
around Portman and Cavendish Squares, pique themselves 
on their central position, which enables them to enjoy the 
advantages of every, without identifying themselves with 
any, neighbourhood ; and it is in these quarters still that 
some of the best resident London society may be found 
society that lays its claims to this position upon higher 
grounds than mere rank or fortune, yet not deficient iu 
either, the elements that form it being varied, and 
brought together from all points. The remark made by 
a lady lately dining in Princes Gate would never have 
been uttered there, or in Mayfair. After listening to the 
conversation that was pretty general for some time, she 
said to her neighbour 

" I could fancy I was dining in the country, you are so* 
very local in your conversation, I hear of nothing but 
the state of the roads, of meetings about them, who has 
taken this house, and who has bought that." 

" Well," replied her neighbour, " I suppose we are. I 
myself hardly visit any one not living in this immediate 
neighbourhood." 

The question arises, In what does the superiority of 
one district over another consist ? "Without entering 
into the reasons that induce people to prefer one to the 
other, we may briefly describe them as follows : Gros- 
venor Square and its immediate environs as the most 



HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGBAVIA. 301 

aristocratic, Belgravia the most fashionable, Tyburnia the 
most healthy, Regent's Park the quietest, Marylebone 
and Mayfair the most central, and Bayswater and Eccle- 
ston Square quarters as the most moderate. People's 
views and means may be guided, in a general manner, by 
these leading features. The man of small income finds 
he must locate himself in a region verging upon what in 
former years one would have called Shepherd's Bush, or 
in a quarter uncomfortably near Yauxhall and the river ; 
if a family man, solicitous for the health of his children, 
he decides in favour of the former, where he finds a 
choice of houses, from 60 a year and upwards to 200, 
and the rates moderate. 

But, if either he or his wife are linked by ever so small 
a chain to the world of fashion, he chooses the latter, 
where, for much the same rent and rates and taxes, he 
finds an abode with all the modern improvements ; extra 
story, light offices, plate glass windows, portico, white- 
papered drawing-rooms, &c., and deludes himself into 
the notion of his being in Belgravia. The man of an 
ample, though not large fortune, has a wider range : he 
may choose from all parts, for there are houses to suit 
his purse and his style of living in every quarter ; but 
when his home is London when he leaves the metro- 
polis only, perhaps, for a three-months' tour abroad, or 
some sea air at Brighton he carefully eschews the "out 
of the way" quarters, as he terms them; he will go no 
farther west than Connaught Place, scarcely to Hyde 
Park Square, and no farther south than Grosvenor Place, 
and so settles finally in Mayfair or Marylebone, choosing 
the latter for health, the former for fashion, and finding 



302 HO USEKEEPING IN BELORA VIA . 

everything else too far from his club " and the busy 
haunts of men." In Great Cumberland Street, one of 
the pleasantest and most central streets, a good small 
house may be had for 200 a year, a larger one from 
300 to 400 ; in Connaught Place, where the advan- 
tages of light, air, and an open space in front (Hyde 
Park), are combined with a central situation, and quiet 
at the back, from their being no thoroughfare, the small- 
est house, including rates and taxes, will cost the owner 
500 a year, and the larger considerably more. These 
houses may perhaps be considered dear, for those near 
the corner of the Edgware Road suffer from the noise 
and dust of that great line of traffic, and many of the 
others are ill built. In Seymour, Wimpole, Harley, and 
Lower Berkeley Street, the average rent of a good- sized 
well-built house, with stabling, is 200 a year. In 
the Regent's Park, in the terraces that so delight the 
foreigner, there is a choice of charming moderate-sized 
abodes at rents from 150 to 300 a year. These 
houses, however, in spite of the advantages they offer of 
greater light and cleanliness, and the attractions of gar- 
dens to look upon, and cheat oneself in summer time into 
the idea of being in the country, must be considered ex- 
pensive, as the accommodation they afford is limited, and 
the terms from which they are held from the Crown in- 
volve more frequent painting and restoration than is else- 
where insisted upon. 

Within the last few years a new suburb has arisen, 
enclosing the once countrified Primrose Hill, and throw- 
ing out arms that almost touch Hampstead and Highgate. 
We will not attempt to decide whether it constitutes part 



HOUSEKEEPINGS IN BELGRAVIA. 303 

of the West End ; it holds much the same position, in 
that respect as St. John's "Wood; but as the class of 
people living there hardly come under the head Bel- 
gravia as we define that term, we shall make a long step 
to the more fashionable neighbourhoods of Mayfair and 
Park Lane, where a greater choice of houses in respect 
to rent and size is to be met with than in any other part 
of London, and where a man of good, although not large 
fortune, may locate himself very desirably ; he must, of 
course, confine himself to the streets, the squares in the 
older parts of the "West End, like Hyde Park Gardens, 
and the larger houses in Park Lane, Rutland or Princes 
Gate, facing the Park, being attainable to the wealthy 
only, ranging from 500 to 1,000 a year. There are, 
it is true, a few smaller and less expensive houses in 
Berkeley Square ; but, as a rule, if a house in a square 
is desired, and the rent not to exceed 300 per annum, 
it must be looked for in Hyde Park or Gloucester Squares, 
and the region beyond Portman and Belgrade Squares. 
Grosvenor Square and one side of Eaton Square contain 
first-class houses, family mansions, seldom in the market, 
and then chiefly for purchase, not hire. There are no 
two more agreeable or convenient streets in London than 
Upper Brook and Grosvenor Streets ; and although there 
has been an invasion into them of brass plates, supposed 
to be fatal to the fashion of a street, the character of the 
neighbourhood is not likely to fall but rather to rise again ; 
for the improvements projected and being carried out by 
the Marquis of Westminster will place Grosvenor Square 
so far beyqud its modern rivals, that the streets in its 



304 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGEAVIA. 



vicinity will add to their present advantages the prestige 
of appertaining to it. Not only are extra stories and 
handsome frontages being added to these princely dwel- 
lings, but as the leases fall in, the noble owner sacrifices 
some of the houses in Lower Grosvenor and Lower Brook 
Street, to build stabling for the houses in the square. It 
cannot be doubted, therefore, than when a nobleman can 
lodge his servants and his horses as well in Grosvenor 
as in Belgrave Square, he will not hesitate between the 
two. 

A great proportion of London residents, however, do 
not hire but buy their houses, or rather the leases, paying 
a ground-rent, which varies, of course, according to situa- 
tion ; and as land becomes more valuable every day, is 
higher in the new than in the old quarters of London, 
except of course in business quarters, and in such cases 
as, for instance, the Portland estate, where many leases 
having lately fallen in, the duke has doubled, and in some 
instances trebled, the ground-rent on renewing or grant- 
ing a new lease, so that a small house on his property 
aras paying 60 a year ground-rent, and one of the same 
dimensions in Upper Grosvenor Street only 20. Gene- 
rally speaking, the ground-rents of Tyburnia are higher 
than those of Belgravia ; whilst the new houses in South 
Kensington are higher still. Houses looking into Hyde 
Park, whether north, south, east or west, are in much the 
same ratio, from 70 to 150 yearly ; those on a large 
scale even higher : one, for instance, in Princes Gate was 
lately to be sold at a ground-rent of 200 per annum ; 
and fast as squares and terraces and gardens spring up 



HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 305 

(for street is now an old-fashioned word) in this magnifi- 
cent quarter they are inhabited, furnished, and fitted up 
handsomely and luxuriously, proving that the owners 
who have the money to buy, have also the money to live 
in them ; and causing even the old London resident, a 
being who is never astonished at anything, to inquire with 
a Lord Dundreary air of surprise, " Where all these rich 
fellahs come from ? " More than one-half are supplied 
by the legal profession and the mercantile community. 
There has been quite a flight of judges and well-to-do 
barristers to South Kensington long-sighted men, who 
saw that it would be a rising neighbourhood, and bought 
their houses before Fashion had given the approving nod, 
which instantly ran up the rents to a premium. To this 
class of men the drawbacks to this neighbourhood are un- 
important, the distance from those parts of the town that 
we may term the heart of West End life, the clubs, the 
lounges, the libraries, the shops, &c., signify nothing to 
those engaged in chambers or the counting-house all day. 
The denizen of South Kensington has no other wish, when 
his day's work is over, than to get home, and to stay 
there. The light, the cleanliness, the airiness, and 
modern comforts of his house are doubly grateful to him 
when contrasted with his close business quarters : once in 
his cab or his carnage, what is a mile more or less to 
him? He has not the smallest intention of going to his 
club in the evening ; and the theatre he forswore years 
ago. The ladies of his family find no fault with the 
situation ; but, on the contrary, will not allow a quarter 
so near Hyde Park, and the fashionable morning walk by 



306 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELQRAVIA. 

Rotten Row, to be termed out of the way. As they drive 
out every afternoon, they do not care to be in the way of 
visitors ; and as the female mind is not strong upon the 
matter of distance, they are not troubled by the reflection 
of how many miles their unfortunate horses are daily 
doomed to perform. But then, perhaps, their horses are 
jobbed, and the best plan too ; they are therefore often 
changed and rested. No single pair of horses could stand 
the amount of work required by a fashionable lady, living 
in one of the new outlying quarters of the town. 

The Belgravian, of course, keeps a carriage of some 
kind : if rich, more than one, a close one for winter and an 
open one for summer, and a brougham, perhaps, for din- 
ners and night work. If moderately well off, he is con- 
tent with a brougham only ; or allows his wife horses to 
her barouche in the season ; and, although he rides his 
own horses, he almost always jobs his carriage horses ; if 
a little more expensive, that plan is so much more conve- 
nient, as a man is then never without the use of his car- 
riage, that even those who have time and inclination to 
look after their own stables generally adopt it ; and where 
the head of the house is too much occupied to look after 
horses, it is unquestionably the best plan. For ladies 
living alone, the best course is to job the whole concern, 
horses, carriage, and coachman : there are liverymen who 
undertake this, and provide a handsome carriage, of the 
colour desired, with the crest and arms of the hirer, with 
the proper livery for the coachman, for about 300 a year. 
The horses stand at livery ; and a lady is thus sure that 
they are well cared for, that she will have a sober and 



HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 307 

civil driver, without any of the trouble and anxiety of 
looking after him herself. 

The usual plan with regard to the carriage in London 
is to have it built for you, for a term of years, generally 
five, at a certain annual sum ; for which it is kept in 
repair, furnished with new wheels, relined, varnished, &c. 
At the end of the term the carriage remains to the 
builder, unless it is in such a condition as to be done up 
and used again, when of course a fresh arrangement is 
entered upon. It is scarcely possible to keep a handsome 
well-appointed carriage and pair under 300 a year. 
Before the introduction of broughams, therefore, many 
people, in easy circumstances even, did not attempt to do 
so, but contented themselves with hiring one occasionally. 
Now, the one-horse carriage predominates ; so much less 
costly, so light and convenient are the broughams, that 
not only those who hesitated to have a carriage have 
adopted them, but many who had already a chariot or 
coach were glad to drop one horse, and come down to a 
brougham, when they found it was a reduction that they 
could effect without loss of that prestige in society so 
dear to the heart of the Belgravian. And, as these 
horses are not generally jobbed, the reduction could be 
effected by those who understood looking after a horse at 
rather less than half the cost of the pair, the job-master 
having had, of course, his profit to make. Another 
advantage of the brougham is that a groom can drive it. 
It does not necessarily entail that important personage 
a middle-aged, sedate-looking coachman whose dignity 
would never condescend to drive one horse, and who 



308 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 

requires twice the help in the stable for his carriage 
horses, that the lighter, younger, more active groom does 
for his master's riding horse and the brougham horse also. 
Truly the introduction of the brougham has been a 
blessing to many whose means forbade a carriage other- 
wise, and whose habits of life and ideas made them con- 
sider one a necessary, not a luxury. The sacrifices some 
people make to enable them to " keep their carriage," 
savour sometimes of the ridiculous to those who are in the 
secret of their menage. Plain, substantial Mrs. Blunt, of 
Devonshire Street, Portland Place, was surprised when 
Lady Mary Fauxanfier called on her for the character 
of Jane Bell, her under-housemaid, the girl having in- 
formed her she was going to be her " la' ship's" own 
maid. 

"I assure you, Lady Mary," she exclaimed, as she 
looked at the elegant dress of the earl's daughter, and 
observed the smart, well-appointed brougham that 
brought her to the house, " I assure you the girl is not 
fit for a maid ; she has never even dressed me ; as to hair- 
dressing, I should think her incapable of even brushing 
mine." 

Lady Mary smiled, and said, " The girl is teachable, I 
suppose, and, you say, honest and respectable ; such 
important points the latter, I think I shall take her. 
We are only in town three months of the year, and then 
well, good morning." 

And so Jane Bell went to Lady Mary, who had a fur- 
nished house for the season in a small street not a 
hundred miles from Belgrave Square, where her hus- 



HOUSEKEEPING IN BELORAVIA. 30 

band's father, Lord Belmontine, had a splendid mansion, 
and her own papa another ; and Mrs. Blunt often won- 
dered, -when she saw Lady Mary's name at the great 
parties of the season, how poor Jane Bell managed to 
attire her elegant form, arrange her ladyship's head, and 
so forth. She was not surprised when the said Jane 
made her appearance one day in August, and said she 
was looking for a place again. 

Ah, Jane ! I thought it would be so ; I thought you 
could not play lady's-maid very long. How could you 
take a place for which you were so unfitted ?" 

" Unfitted, indeed, ma'am ; but not as you suppose. 
Why, I was nothing but a general servant. I and the 
groom and he was out all day with the horse and car- 
riage were the only servants they kept. I did all the 
work of the house, except what an old charwoman did 
for an hour or two in the morning. I fastened her 
la'ship's gownds, to be sure ; in short, ma'm, I was maid, 
and housemaid, and cook, too, sometimes." 

"I was just going to ask," said Mrs. Blunt, "what 
they did for a cook." 

" Well, ma'am, they seldom or ever dined at home ;. 
always going to some grand place or t'other, and if by 
chance they had no dinner party, master, he went down 
to. his club, and I cooked a chop for her la'ship with her 
tea." 

Such was the town establishment and town life of this- 
well-born pair, who lived the rest of the nine months of 
the year with their relations and their friends, spending 
more than half their income on the small furnished 



-310 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 

house, at ten or fifteen guineas a week, and on their 
brougham ; sacrificing for the three months' London sea- 
son the independence of the rest of their year, being in 
the position of always receiving and never giving. Few 
of their London acquaintance suspected that the neat- 
looking girl who opened the door when the MAN was out, 
was Lady Mary's sole female attendant ; and those who 
did know it, doubtless thought it strange that, with the 
limited means such an arrangement bespoke, they could 
contrive to keep up the appearance they did. For our 
part, we are not sure, if the choice lay between spending 
one's money upon half a dozen servants, or upon one's 
self, we should not prefer the latter too ; but then it must 
not be at the sacrifice of one's independence. There 
are certain people to whom a carriage in London is as 
much a matter of necessity as their dinner. The younger 
children, perhaps, of wealthy or noble families, they have 
been accustomed to the use of one all their lives ; and, 
whilst it would be no hardship to dine upon one course 
only, and that of the plainest, it would be so to have to 
pay their visits or do their shopping on foot. These peo- 
ple are really not so inconsistent as they would seem ; 
still, it must be allowed, that it is a mistake to adopt any 
habit of life that implies means above the actual state of 
the case. You lay yourself open by so doing to have 
things expected from you that you have no means of 
meeting ; and often, therefore, incur the charge of being 
mean and stingy, when unable to comply with such 
claims. You place yourself also in a false position to 
your own servants, who, naturally associating ce-liiii 



HO USEKEEPING IN BELGRA VIA. 311 

luxuries with the idea of wealth, misunderstand the 
economy of the other household arrangements, think ill 
and very likely speak ill of you ; for, if servants and 
masters are to go on well together, there should he a 
certain degree of confidence between hoth parties. If a 
servant is worth having and keeping, he should not be 
treated as a mere paid machine, but should have a 
general idea at least of his master's position, when he 
will feel an interest in, and in time will associate himself 
with the family he serves, and work with his heart as 
'Well as with his head. 

But to return 10 our Belgravians. There are those 
struggling to keep up an appearance to which birth, &c., 
j entitles them; and those struggling to attain an appear- 
ance to which nothing entitles them, if the adequate 
means are not theirs. "With some of these the possession 
of a carriage is the great thing ; with others a man 
servant is the acme of respectability, and (indeed they 
are to be pardoned for this last idea; for many highly 
estimable, worthy, substantial, good sort of people, do not 
deem you respectable, if you do not keep a man servant) 
others limit their views to a page, or " buttons ;" few 
have the moral courage to keep to the good, clean, useful, 
waiting-maid, who waits without noise, and does not 
break a tumbler a day, as most "buttons" must do, 
since no family who keeps one ever has tumblers enough, 
although their number is constantly made up. 

Some of these strugglers live nine months of the year 
in London, by letting their house well for the other 
three. Ten and fifteen guineas a week are easily got for 



.312 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 






small but well-furnished houses in the immediate neigh 
bourhood of Belgrave Square. 

House letting has of late years become so common, tht 
peer even condescending to receive his thousand o 
twelve hundred guioeas for the season, that people no^ 
-don't take the trouble that the Honourable Mrs. A. I 
.always does of telling you, in answer to your inquirie 
about her movements, when she leaves town, &c. 

" Oh, soon, I hope ; I am longing to be off. I always 
do, you know, the moment the sun begins to shine. I 
can't stay in London in hot weather." 

The truth being that she remains on until the house is 
let for the season ; when she takes her six children off to 
.some cheap sea- side lodgings, whilst the Honourable A. 
B., her husband, wanders about from one friend to 
.another, preferring anything to the early dinner and 
cooking of the lodging-house. His exemplary wife does 
not murmur at this ; she is rather relieved at his absence, 
and better endures the three months' discomfort without 
him than with him. She is glad, in spite of the hot 
weather, however, to return to London at the end of 
August ; but it is quite unnecessary to tell everybody, as 
she does, that " she always prefers London at this season, 
when everybody is away." This assertion is needless: 
because every one knows that her house is empty again, 
and that that is the reason London sees her again. 

Numbers of families, like the A.B.'s, cover their rent 
by letting in the season. Many reduce their rent, when 
they have a country house also, by letting the London 
house through the winter. Houses that let from three 






HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 31$ 

X) five hundred guineas for the season, maybe had during 
;he winter at from eight to twelve guineas a week. 

Many families coming up to London for the season hire 
lot only their house, but their whole establishment, 
I lorses, carriages, coachman and all. Many, even among 
|;he residents, take an additional servant for the season. 
Some so contrive it that they manage always to quar- 
j:el with their footman, and discharge him at the end of 
;he season a shabby plan, which brings its own punish- 
ment, as these people never have a good servant, and, 
;*rhen their practice becomes known, have no chance of 
jver procuring one. " Alas ! " exclaims our reader per- 
laps, " a good servant ! where is such a thing to be found 
!.n the present day by any one ? " 

"Ah, indeed ! " rejoins Mrs. Old view ; " railroads and 
penny posts have ruined one's servants, In my young 
days, if Betty behaved ill, I told her my mind, and she 
took a good cry, and mended her ways. She knew well 
.enough then, if the Squire discharged her, she might 
sing for a place : but now Miss Betty writes to her mother 
lor sister, who tell her not to mind ; that there are plenty 
of places in town, and off she goes, as pert as may be." 

Mrs. Oldview is right ; this easy communication, passive 
lor active, has the effect of unsettling many a household. 
You have a treasure of a cook, perhaps, and, enchanted,, 
fill your house at Christmas, easy about your entrees, 
humbly proud of your sweets. Well ; your intimate 
| friend's lady's-maid tells her " her talents are wasted on 
Ithe desert hair," and mentions a situation that is exactly 
;jsuited to her, in the metropolis, and she leaves you with- 



314 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 

out a pang, by the parliamentary train. But we are nol 
now about to bewail the housekeeping troubles of Bell 
gravia out of town; they are in most respects greateij 
than in London ; but as far as men servants are concerned 
people are better off in the country than in London. The 
men there, as a class, are far more respectable and bettei 
behaved. If steadily disposed, too, they have more chance 
of remaining so, as they are not exposed to the great temp- 
tations that beset the man servant in town. The clubs, 
the betting men, the bad example, sometimes, of their 
young masters, the bad society and temptations to drink 
they are constantly exposed to, when waiting by the 
hour for their mistress at some fashionable party; alj 
these evil influences surround the young man, without 
perhaps a single good one to counteract them without a 
friend or mother near, to warn, at a time of life when the 
passions are strongest, and principles weakest, and when 
from every necessary creature comfort being provided, 
means are given for indulgences, and habits are acquired, 
which the same man in any other position, toiling for 
daily bread, would not dream of. 

"We do not know how it is that even the best masters 
and mistresses, those who do take an individual interest 
in their servants, seem to maintain a strict reserve towards 
their footmen : the very servant that most needs a special 
surveillance and interest has none of it. They know the 
family history, perhaps, of every maid in the house. 
They can talk to the butler, and be interested in his 
private affairs ; but the unfortunate footmen may come 
and go, and as long as they are honest and clean, and do 






HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 315- 

heir work well, no questions are asked, no information 
is wanted ; and John or William leaves at the end of his- 
wo years (and we think really he is right to do so), and 
10 one is surprised : he was not expected to become 
i.ttached to the family, and the family have not become 
littached to him. He signs a receipt for his wages, and 
ays good-bye, without a shade of feeling being aroused 
ipstairs, whatever there may be below. The departure 
>f a kitchen-maid would cause more excitement, whilst 
tat of a nurse or lady's-maid creates a disturbance, and 
nakes a blank in the family almost as great as the absence 
>f a relative. 

And, indeed, good servants in these capacities are often 
is much and deservedly cherished as if really part of the 
amily ; and there are many good ones to be met with, in 
rpite of the outcry of the day. If a lady is worth any- 
hing as a mistress at all, she does not change her nurse or 
naid often. These two servants will stay for years in a 
)lace where the cooks and housemaids are perpetually 
)eing changed, proving how great is the personal influ- 
ence, the constant communication with a superior educated 
mind. The nurse, perhaps, maybe retained by the tie of 
strong affection to the children, but the maid will not stay 
inless the mistress she serves has those qualities that 
make her respected and loved. When we see a lady perpe- 
tually changing her own maid, we are convinced the fault 
is all her own. With her other servants, other influ- 
ences work; with her personal attendants, her own is 
paramount. Women-servants in London if we except 
the cooks, of whom we are afraid we cannot speak so 



316 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 






highly are as respectable and hard-working a class 
people as can be met with. For every worthless, uc 
grateful one, we feel satisfied we could produce tm 
capable of acts of devotion to their employers that the 
superiors in station would not dream of. Early isolate: 
from their own families, the loving heart of woman ofter 
finds a vent for those affections which her own kindreu 
should claim, in the family of her master and mistress. 
Their sorrows become her sorrows ; their prosperity ot 
adversity is hers also. She will excuse when the world 
condemns, and ofttimes becomes the best comforter in the 
hour of trial, and she will rejoice, without a shade of 
envy or jealousy, when fortune smiles on those whom 
might deem already blessed enough. We have known! 
the hard-earned savings of a female servant tendered, 
without thought of self, to her master's young son in j 
his first trouble, or to her perhaps ill-treated mistress. 
Then what shall we say of the nurse ? Who can con- 
template the unselfish devotion of these women to their 
duties ; their renunciation of all liberty and pleasure for 
themselves; their watchfulness, their self-denial, that 
their shillings and sixpences may buy a toy for this one, 
a ribbon for the other, and not be struck with admi- 
ration. 

We have in our mind one, whose dying hours were 
embittered by the dread that the loved children might 
not be well cared for when she was gone. Her mistress, 
thinking she might like to see their young faces once 
more, offered to bring them. " Oh ! no," she exclaimed ; 
" I could not part again. Let me not see them. Let me 



HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 317 

not hear their voices." Oh ! deep, pure love ! How can 
we, how ought we, to run down, as a body, those amongst 
whom such characters are found? No, we will not. 
The material is good, and, as far as women- servants in 
London are concerned, we are certain a good mistress 
will make a good servant. The cooks we have excepted. 
We are sorry to say that their habits are bad after a cer- 
;ain age. Most of them drink, and few stand the tempta- 
;ion of making out of their place. They have much in 
;heir power much they can legitimately dispose of. If 
;hey would but stop there, how delightful it would be ! 
Their wages are high, too ; so they have no excuse ; but 
;he fact is, that servants' code of morals, with regard to 
what they think they may honestly do, wants a complete 
revision, or, rather, a remaking. They have chosen to 
down for themselves rules for the disposal of certain 
portions of their master's property, without ever consult- 
ing the lawful owner, and choose to consider any departure 
Prom those rules as a breach of privilege. " There," said 
a gentleman one day to his father's butler " there is a 
pair of boots for you." 

" Thank you, sir," replied the man ; " but they belong 
to the footman." 

" Do they?" returned the gentleman. " I thought 
they belonged to me. Put them down again." And 
neither footman nor butler ever got boots from that 
gentleman again. 

People of late years have very properly made a stand 
against the cook's "perquisites." Ladies have deter- 
mined to dispose of their left-off clothes as they pleased, 



318 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELQRAVIA. 






and gentlemen to pay their own bills ; and servants will 
be better and happier when they consider as gifts what 
they have before looked upon as "rights." The scale of 
wages in the present day is high enough to place them 
above these considerations, in Belgravia at any rate. 

To begin with female servants. Kitchenmaids and 
under-housemaids begin at 10 a year, and get on to 
12 and 14. Upper housemaids have 16 a year, and 
in great houses are found, as the expression is, in tea and 
sugar, besides beer and washing, which are given to all 
servants. A plain cook in a small family, who does some 
housework, gets from 18 to 25 a year ; whilst a cook 
and housekeeper, or cook, with one or two kitchenmaids 
under her, receives from 30 to 40 yearly. This high 
rate of payment places what is called a good cook out of 
many people's reach ; consequently those who can only 
afford what is called a plain cook, and think the dinner 
they eat themselves every day, not good enough to invite 
their friends to, resort to the expedient of having one sent 
in by a Gunter or a Bridgeman, if they can manage it, or 
an inferior purveyor if not. The present fashion of a 
dinner " a la Russe " has been a great relief to some 
other housekeepers. Their peace of mind is not disturbed 
if the jelly does fall, because it will not appear on the 
table; and if the capon is not well larded, who, they 
think, will detect the failure in the delicate slice doled out 
to them. They regret, it is true, the corner-dishes and 
epergne it cost so much to obtain, ill replaced by a few 
cut-glass dishes and pots of flowers ; but then the saving 
of being able to employ their own cook is a consolation 
to them, although often none to their friends. 



HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 319 

The wages of ladies' maids and nurses are much the 
same, from 18 to 25 a year ; whilst a young lady's 
attendant has 16 a year, and nursemaids from 8 to 
14. 

The page, or " buttons," begins with a wage of 8 and 

lis clothes ; a footman from 20 to 28, with two suits, 
and sometimes three suits of livery in the year, and so 
many hats, and so many pairs of white silk hose in " my 

ord's " house, and so many pairs of black in Sir John's, 
and so much for powder, and so much for gloves, and 
everything else, these high, important, and now difficult 

;o-be-got servants, can bargain for. The 19th century 
considers livery a badge of servitude, or " Punch," with 

lis " Jeames of Buckley Square," has made it ridiculous, 
or but it matters little for what reasons certain it is 
a man for livery is scarcer than he was, and one of 

leight and figure may command his price, and be almost 
as impertinent as he pleases. 

" Pray, sir," inquired one of these individuals when he 
was being hired " pray, who is to carry coals up to the 

Irawing-room ? " 
" "Well," replied the gentleman, " I hardly know ; but 

[ don't think I do it myself." 
These servants hardly ever stay more than two years 

n their places. It seems to be an understood thing 
amongst them that they are to go at the end of the time, 
even if they cannot get the same advantages elsewhere ; 
and many people are so accustomed to this biennial 
movement of their footmen, that they look with sus- 
picion on the man that prolongs his stay, and imagine 



320 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELORAVIA. 

there must be some, not good, but bad reason for his not 
going. 

In what are called single-handed places it is still more 
difficult to get the man to wear livery, and many families 
are obliged to put up with a short, ill-looking man when, 
from having a carriage, it becomes necessary that the 
man should be in livery. A man's height is not a mere 
matter of fancy. It is an inconvenience if the man can- 
not hasp the windows without a stool, and if his arms 
are too short to carry the tray, or put it properly on the 
sideboard ; but, as the strong, well-made men are now 
off to the railroads, there is no help for it. The single- 
handed man likes to be out of livery, and to consider 
himself on the level of a butler; but he is, generally 
speaking, a much more humble-minded and useful indi- 
vidual than he whom he aspires to compete with. We 
can easily believe the lady of rank who declared to a 
friend one day that she had been better served when she 
had only one man and a boy than she was then, with 
five men in the house. She knocked at her own door 
one Sunday morning, unexpectedly, when they all 
thought she was gone to church, and had to wait more 
than half an hour before she was finally let in by the 
under housemaid ! The Lut]f r was at home, but far too 
grand to open the door. John, who was also at home, 
left it to James, who was out, and so on. So, out of the 
five, not one was at hand. The strictness practised in 
some great houses, where the establishment is large, 
seems justified by such instances as this. No order 
could probably be kept if any fault was passed over. 






HOUSEKEEPING IN BELQEAVIA. 321 

A lady, hiring a housemaid, asked her why she left 
her last place. " I was discharged," she replied, " be- 
cause the fire went out." This was found to be true. 
She had lighted the fire, but not attended to it well ; it 
went out. The lady complained, and the housekeeper 
gave her warning, as it had happened once before. No 
doubt the lesson was not lost on the other housemaids. 

If the footman leaves his place every two years, the 
butler's aim, when once comfortably installed, is to stay. 
The longer he remains in a family, the more important he 
becomes, or fancies he becomes, and the less, generally 
speaking, he contrives to do. How often have we seen 
this high and mighty functionary at a dinner-party 
limiting his duties to the handing round the champagne, 
or putting the claret on the table ! Dickens has drawn an 
amusing picture of the man overawed by his awful butler; 
and really it is astonishing how these individuals impose 
upon themselves, if they do not upon others, fhe idea of 
their vast importance, and of what, as they consider, is 
due to themselves. 

A gentleman who was in want of a butler stopped to 

speak to one who came after the place on his way out to 

his carriage. " Sir," said the man, with an air of great 

dignity, after a few questions had been asked, "save 

yourself needless discussion ; your situation will not suit 

me, for I. am not accustomed to be spoke to in the 'all" 

The London butler endeavours to impress upon his 

master that it is inconsistent with the position of a butler 

i (to ask leave to go out. Their morning walk and their 

evening visit to a friend, or the club, are sources of 

M 






3J2 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 

quarrel between many a master and man. Few masters 
would deny a man reasonable air and exercise, but all 
who study their own comfort should fight against any 
special hour being appropriated by the servant for his 
outing. His time belongs to his master, and ought to be- 
subservient to his, to say nothing of the danger of a 
butler, who has so much in his charge, making a practice- 
of being absent at a stated time, and thus giving the 
opportunity, so soon taken, for many a serious plate- 
robbery. 

A very well-known nobleman, it is said, was told the- 
other day by a servant who was leaving him, that the- 
reason was, " His lordship's hours did not suit with his ; 
they were so very uncertain that he found he could not 
get any regular time to himself!" 

Butlers' wages are inordinately high, and their habits- 
self-indulgent. The rich parvenus, the cotton lords, and 
great contractors, who do not mind what they pay to- 
secure a man whom they think will, by his savoir faire, 
make their table outvie my lord's, have to answer for the- 
preposterous demands of some of these men. 

A gentleman (and we think he ought to be ashamed of 
himself), who gave his butler 100 a year, was rather 
astonished when a man he had decided to engage stepped 
back and said there was one question he had forgotten to- 
ask, which was, " "What wine, besides port and sherry, 
he allowed." 

In quiet and regular families, where a butler and foot-r 
men are kept for instance, we need not say that no wine 
of any description is allowed ; but in the homes of 






HO USEKEEPING IN BELGRA VIA . 32$ 

noblemen, where the upper servants are very responsible, 
and have many under them, they have the habits and 
indulgences of their masters. In a certain earl's house, 
who died a few years ago, and was one of England's 
wealthiest noblemen, the table of the upper servants the 
house-steward, housekeeper, butler, countess's maid, &c., 
was as luxurious as their master's. Four corner dishes 
and four sweets were put down every day before these 
fortunate individuals, whilst they were waited upon by a 
man out of livery. 

In many a nobleman's home, it is true that there is 
greater simplicity and economy in the household arrange- 
ments than in many a commoner's ; but still the habits 
and dress of great people's servants, on the whole, are 
very much out of keeping with their position, and unfor- 
tunate for themselves, as they acquire extravagant ideas, 
that prevent many saving for the rainy day. "We must 
also deprecate the system of two tables ; servants are but 
servants ; and this separation at meals does not promote 
good fellowship, and makes them troublesome visitors, 
where there is but one. 

When the Cornish squire, with a pedigree four times 
as old as his noble guest, was asked by the latter, " What 
his valet could do, as he found that the squire had no 
second table for his servants ? " he replied, " He reaLy 
did not know, unless his lordship preferred that the man 
should dine with them," an alternative which settled the 
question. 

The days are gone by when servants were looked upon 
as paid machines, and their food and lodging indifferently 

M2 



324 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 

cared for; but from one extreme we are running into 
another ; and when the enthusiastic nursemaid described 
her master and mistress, a wealthy stockbroker at Black- 
heath, as the "best people she had ever known," she 
founded that opinion on the fact " that their servants' 
comfort was their constant care." She, like many others 
of her class, did not stop to consider anything else, or 
whether Mr. and Mrs. Scrip were wise or kind to pro- 
vide a table and mode of living for servants which they 
could not find in many other places. No ; if she had 
been questioned, she would tell you she never meant to 
take a place where she could not have what she had at 
the Scrips'. She wouldn't go to mean people like the 
Hon. Mrs. Bragg, who only allowed her servants a pud- 
ding on Sundays, " not for all the gold of the Ingies," 
&c., &c. In this way a class of servants soon spring up 
of extravagant pretensions ; and a class of people like the 
Scrips, who, with more money than wit, pique themselves 
on the peculiar advantages their servants enjoy, foster in 
them habits of self-indulgence and idleness, to which 
those in whom the intellect is little cultivated are ever 
prone. Servants are, after all, very like children : over- 
indulgence spoils them; and if we would make them good 
and useful members of our household, we musttrain them 
with all kindness, but in wholesome fear. We want 
them to think of us, to study our comfort ; and not as we 
now perpetually see, to become in reality the first people 
in the house : their hours so important, their work so de- 
fined, that a master or mistress dare not venture to dis- 
arrange one of their meals, or to ask any servant to do 






HO USEKEEPING IN BELQRA VIA. 325 

anything not precisely stipulated for, without encounter- 
ing black looks, or, " If you please ma'am, to suit yourself 
this day month." 

. But, as we have said before, the materiel is good, as far 
as women servants are concerned, and therefore the re- 
medy is in the hands of the masters. Men servants are, 
doubtless, more difficult to manage ; but we think here 
something may be done too. People are too apt to expect 
from their "men" what is impossible in the nineteenth cen- 
tury the life of a hermit in the midst of society. He is to 
have no friends, no family, no failings of any kind ; music 
is discouraged, conversation in the kitchen strictly forbid- 
den, his newspaper is half objected to, and his bird, or his 
.two or three plants outside the pantry window, sometimes 
considered a liberty. No ; plate-cleaning should be his 
relaxation, folding his napkins his sole delight. Can one 
wonder that the devilled kidney for breakfast is a treat, 
and the buttered toast at tea a consolation to these forlorn 
creatures, who naturally become selfish and self-indulgent 
from having nobody to think about but themselves ? 

"Why should people object so much to their men- 
servants being married ? Most of them are ; and half of 
them go into their places with a lie on their lips, vowing 
they are single. They can't help themselves ; they might 
starve, if they spoke the truth, and those dear to them 
also. 

Mrs. L. S. D. is so glad her son is going to be married, 
because marriage always steadies a man, and " dear 
Augustus has perhaps been just a little wild ; " but she 
won't have a married man-servant on any account, 



'326 HOUSEKEEPING IN BELGRAVIA. 



dly 

IK 



41 because, then, you know, I should have his family 
living out of this house too." 

Not if the man is honest, dear Mrs. L. S. D. ; and 
he is not honest he will pilfer or purloin all the same, 
whether he has a wife or no ; for if he has not, perhaps 
there is something worse, for men-servants, dear lady, are 
no better than their betters in les affaires de cceur. If 
dear Augustus is steadier and better for being married, so 
I assure you is honest John, and more content to stay at 
home and save his money, and do his duty, if he is a 
man at all, for having ties and claims upon him that he 
is not ashamed to own, than when he was a single man 
tempted out to the servants' club at the public-house round 
the corner, where he lost his money at cards, and made a 
book for the Derby, and sometimes got himself into such 
straits for money that he just borrowed a few spoons and 
forks for a time, only a very short time, to help him on 
until he could get clear again, which time sometimes 
never came at all, but ended in ruin to himself and serious 
loss to his master. Let masters and mistresses weigh 
well this truth, that their servants have the same passions, 
affections, and feelings as themselves ; let them keep them 
well in their places, strict to their duties, and endeavour 
to influence them by the same motives they would employ 
for the guidance of their own flesh and blood, and they 
may then perhaps find the key to many a domestic diffi- 
culty. 

Next to the troubles with one's servants come the 
troubles of one's tradespeople ; but these are more easily 
overcome, for London is so large, so well supplied, and 



HO USEKEEPING IN BELORA VIA. 327 

competition so great, that if discontented with A. you 
have only to go to B., and from B. to C., until you are 
satisfied. All this, provided you are master of your own. 
house : if your cook or housekeeper reigns, you may find 
that, spite of all you say and do, you return to A., or that 
difficulties insurmountable prevent your dealing with M. 
if your servant has settled to employ N. The fact is, 
your custom is large, and the tradesman makes it worth 
the while of your cook to have him retained. Of course 
in the end, it is you who pay the Christmas gratuity, or 
the odd pence which the butler, who pays your bills, 
always gets, and which amount to a pretty handsome 
sum at the end of the year. It is only the credit, or 
first-class tradesmen, as they call themselves, who can 
afford these retaining fees, and they do it by putting a 
higher price on their goods, which are often not so good 
as those of the man who sells cheaper next door, and 
who, having a ready-money custom and quick sale, has 
seldom a stale or depreciated article on hand. 

All this, however, is well understood by Belgravians ; 
and those who care to study economy pay their own bills, 
and choose their own tradespeople. It is no longer 
received as an axiom, that the dearer you pay the better 
you are served. 

The best fishmonger in the neighbourhood of Belgrave 
and Eaton Squares was Charles, who has made a for- 
tune, left the business to his son, and become a landed 
proprietor, by selling good fish at moderate prices. To 
many families he supplied fish every day, or two or three 
times a week, at sixpence a head; a family of eight, 



323 HO USEKEEPING IN BELGRA VIA . 

therefore, had an ample dish of fish for 4s., whilst two 
people were supplied for one shilling. At the close of the 
day his surplus stock was sold off at reduced prices to 
anybody who chose to fetch it away. His customers, 
therefore, were sure of always having fresh fish. We 
wish the greengrocers would adopt a similar plan, and 
sell off their stale greens, &c., at the end of the day. 
Still, how much less have we to complain of here than 
in former years : railroads and steam bring to this mighty 
mart of men all that is fit for food, and " good and 
pleasant to the eyes " also. Our grapes and plums come 
to us with the bloom on, spring vegetables arrive steeped 
in the morning dew, countries vie with each other in 
sending us their best products ; in short, let a man travel 
where he will to the east for his ease, or the south for 
his pleasure if he have but Fortunatus' purse he will 
find there is no place in the wide world where he can 
make life more truly comfortable and enjoyable than 
when he is keeping house in Belgravia. 



BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 




SUMMER or winter, light or dark, rain or shine, it matters 
not ; as the clock strikes five, the bell rings and the mar- 
ket opens. The Clerk of the Market, the representative 
of the Corporation, is there, to act the part of major-domo ; 



330 BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 

the vessels are there, hauled up in tiers in the river, laden 
with their silvery cargoes ; the porters are there, running 
to and fro between the ships and the market ; the rail- 
way vans and carts are there, with fish brought from the 
several railway stations ; the salesmen are there at their 
stands or benches ; and the buyers are there, ready to buy 
and pay. As yet all is tolerably clean. There is, of 
course, that " fish-like smell " which Trinculo speaks of; 
but Billingsgate dirt and Billingsgate vilification have 
not yet commenced. The street dealers, the costermon- 
gers or " costers," have not yet made their appearance ; 
they wait till their " betters," the regular fishmongers, 
Jiave paid good prices for choice fish, and then they rush 
in to purchase everything that is left. It is a wonderful 
scene, even at this early ^hour. How Thames Street can 
contain all the railway vans that throng it is a marvel. 
From Paddington, from Camden, from King's Cross, from 
Shoreditch, from Fenchurch Street, from the depots over 
the water, these vehicles arrive in numbers perfectly be- 
wildering. Every one wants to get the prime of the mar- 
ket ; every salesman tells his clients that good prices 
depend almost as much on early arrival as on fine quality ; 
and thus every cargo of fish is pushed on to market with 
as little delay as need be. Pickford objurgates Chaplin 
and Home, Macnamara is wrathful at Parker, every 
van is in every other van's way. Fish Street Hill and 
Thames Street, Pudding Lane and Botolph Lane, Love 
Lane and Darkhouse Lane, all are one jam and muddle, 
horses entangled in shafts, and shafts in wheels. A civi- 
lian, a non-fishman, has no business there at such a time; 



BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 331 

woe to his black coat or black hat, if he stands in the 
path of the porters ; he will have a finny sprinkling be- 
fore he can well look about him ; or perhaps the tail of a 
big fish will flap in his face, or lobsters' claws will threaten 
to grapple him. 

It was always thus at Billingsgate, even before the 
days of railways, and before Mr. Bunriing built the pre- 
sent market a structure not without elegance on the 
river front ; but the street arrangements are becoming 
more crowded and difficult to manage every year. In 
the old days, when trains and locomotives were unthought 
of, nearly all the fish reached Billingsgate by water. The 
broad-wheeled waggons were too slow to bring up the 
perishable commodity in good time ; while the mail and 
passenger coaches, even if the passengers had been willing 
(which they would not) to submit to the odour, could not 
have brought up any large amount of fish. At an inter- 
mediate period, say about 1830 or 1835, certain bold 
traders, at some of our seaport towns, put on four-horse 
fast vans, which brought up cargoes of fish during the 
night, and deposited them at Billingsgate before five in 
the morning ; but this was a costly mode of conveyance, 
which could not safely be incurred except for the best and 
high-priced fish. When it became an established fact that 
railways could bring up fish in any quantity, and in a few 
hours, from almost any port in England, the effect was 
striking ; the supply at Billingsgate became regular in- 
stead of intermitting ; and the midland towns, such as 
Birmingham and Wolverhampton, were placed within 
reach of supplies that were literally unattainable under 



332 BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 

the old system. It used to be a very exciting scene at 
the river-side at Billingsgate. As the West-end fish- 
mongers are always willing to pay well for the earliest 
and choicest fish, the owners of the smacks and other 
boats had a strong incentive to arrive early at " the 
Gate ;" those who came first were absolutely certain of 
obtaining the best prices for their fish ; the laggards had 
to content themselves with what they could get. If 
there happened to be a very heavy haul of any one kind 
of fish on any one day, the disproportion of price was still 
more marked ; for as there were no electric telegraphs to 
transmit the news, the salesmen had no certain means of 
knowing that a large supply was forthcoming ; they sold, 
and the crack fishmongers bought, the first cargo at good 
prices ; and when the bulk of the supply arrived, there 
was no adequate demand at the market. In such a state 
of things there is no such process as holding back, no 
warehousing till next day ; the fish must all be sold if 
not for pounds, for shillings ; if not for shillings, for pence. 
Any delay in this matter would lead to the production of 
such attacks upon the olfactory nerves as would speedily 
call for the interference of the officers of health. In 
what way a glut in the market is disposed of we shall 
explain presently. 

It is really wonderful to see by how many routes, and 
from what varied sources, fish now reach Billingsgate. 
The smack owners, sharpening their wits at the rivalry 
of railways, do not "let the grass grow under their 
feet ; " they call steam to their aid, and get the fish up to 
market with a celerity which their forefathers would not 



BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 333 

have dreamed of. Take the Yarmouth region, for in- 
stance. The fishermen along the Norfolk and Suffolk 
coast congregate towards the fishing-banks in the North 
Sea in such number that their vessels form quite a fleet. 
They remain out two, three, four, or even so much as six 
weeks, never once coming to land in the interval. A fast- 
sailing cutter or a steamer visits the bank or station 
every day, carrying out provisions and stores to the 
fishermen, and bringing back the fish that have been 
caught. Thus laden, the cutter or steamer puts on all 
her speed, and brings the fish to land, to Yarmouth, to 
Harwich, or even right up to Billingsgate, according as 
distance, wind and tide, may show to be best. If to Yar- 
mouth or Harwich, a "fish train" is made up every 
night, which brings the catch to Shoreditch station, 
whence vans carry it to Billingsgate. There used, in 
the olden days, to be fish vans from those eastern parts, 
which, on account of the peculiar nature of the service, 
were specially exempted from post-horse duty. As mat- 
ters now are, the fishermen, when the richness of the 
shoal is diminished, return to shore after several weeks, 
to mend their nets, repair their vessels, and refresh them- 
selves after their arduous labours. At all the fishing 
towns round the coast, the telegraphic wire has furnished 
a wonderful aid to the dealers ; for it announces to the 
salesmen at Billingsgate the quantity and description of 
fish en route, and thereby enables them to decide whether 
to sell it all at Billingsgate, or to send some of it at once 
to an inland town. This celerity in railway conveyance 
and in telegraphic communication gives rise to many 



334 BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 

curious features in the fish-trade. Tourists and pleasure- 
seekers at Brighton, Hastings, and other coast towns, are 
often puzzled to understand the fact that fish, although 
caught and landed near at hand, is not cheaper there than 
in London : nay, it sometimes happens that good fish is 
not obtainahle either at a high price or low. The expla- 
nation is to be sought in the fact that a market is certain 
at Billingsgate, uncertain elsewhere. A good catch of 
mackerel off Hastings might be too large to command a 
sale on the spot ; whereas, if sent up to the great centre 
the salesmen would soon find purchasers for it. It is, in 
a similar way, a subject of vexation in the salmon dis- 
tricts that the best salmon are so uniformly sent to Lon- 
don as to leave only the secondary specimens for local 
consumption. The dealers will go to the best market 
that is open to them ; and it is of no avail to be angry 
thereat. It is said that few families are more insuffi- 
ciently supplied with vegetables than those living near 
market-gardens; the cause being similar to that here 
under notice. Perhaps the most remarkable fact, how- 
ever, in connection with this subject is, that the fish often 
make a double journey, say from Brighton to Billings- 
gate and back again. The Brighton fishermen and the 
Brighton fishmonger do not deal one with another so- 
much as might be supposed ; the one sends to Billings- 
gate to sell, the other to buy; and each is willing to 
incur a little expense for carriage to insure a certain 
market. 

Of course the marketing peculiarities depend in some 
degree on the different kinds of fish, obtainable as they 



BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING, 335- 

are in different parts of the sea, and under very varying 
circumstances. Yarmouth sends up chiefly herrings 
caught by the drift-net in deep water, or the seine-net in 
shallow sometimes a hundred tons in a night. The 
north of England, and a large part of Scotland, consign 
more largely salmon to the Billingsgate market. These- 
salmon mostly come packed in ice, in boxes, of which 
the London and North-Western and the Great Northern 
Railway Companies are intrusted with large numbers ; 
or else in welled steamers. The South-Western is more 
extensively the line for the mackerel trade ; while pil- 
chards find their way upon the Great "Western. But 
this classification is growing less and less definite every 
year ; most of the kinds of fish are now landed at many 
different ports which have railway communication with 
the metropolis ; and the railway companies compete with 
each other too keenly to allow much diversity in carriage- 
charges. The up-river fish, such as plaice, roach, dace r 
&c., come down to Billingsgate by boat, and are, it is- 
said, bought more largely by the Jews than by other 
classes of the community. The rare, the epicurean 
white-bait, so much prized by cabinet ministers, alder- 
men, and others, who know the mysteries of the taverns 
at Blackwall and Greenwich, are certainly a piscatorial 
puzzle; for they are caught in the dirty part of the 
Thames between Blackwall and Woolwich, in the night- 
time, at certain seasons of the year, and are yet so deli- 
cate although the water is so dirty. 

With regard to the oyster trade, suffice it here to say 
that the smacks and other vessels, when they arrive, are 



.336 BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 

moored in front of the wharf, to form what is called 
" Oyster Street." The 4th of August is still " oyster 
-day," as it used to be, and is still a wonderful day of 
bustle and excitement at Billingsgate ; but oysters now 
manage to reach London in other ways before that date, 
and the traditional formality is not quite so decided as it, 
once was. Lobsters come in vast numbers even from so 
-distant a locality as the shores of Norway, the fiords or 
firths of which are very rich in that kind of fish. They 
are brought by swift vessels across the North Sea to 
'Grimsby, and thence by the Great Northern Railway to 
London. Other portions of the supply are obtained from 
the Orkney and Shetland coasts, and others from the 
Channel Islands. It has been known, on rare occasions, 
that thirty thousand lobsters have reached Billingsgate in 
one day ; but, however large the number may be, ail find 
a market, the three million mouths in the metropolis, and 
the many additional millions in the provinces, having 
capacity enough to devour them all. There are some 
queer-looking places in Darkhouse Lane and Love Lane, 
near Billingsgate, where the lobsters and crabs undergo 
that boiling process which changes their colour from 
Hack to red. A basketful of lobsters is plunged into a 
boiling cauldron and kept there twenty minutes. As to 
the poor crabs, they are first killed by a prick with 
needle, for else they would dash off their claws in the 
convulsive agony occasioned by the hot water ! Spra 
" come in," as it is called, about the 9th of Novembe: 
and there is an ineradicable belief that the chief magi 
trate of the City of London always has a dish of sprats 



BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 337 

the table at Guildhall banquet on Lord Mayor's Day. 
The shoals of this fish being very uncertain, and the fish 
being largely bought by the working classes of London, 
the sprat excitement at Billingsgate, when there has been 
a good haul, is something marvellous. Soles are brought 
mostly by trawling-boats belonging to Barking, which 
fish in the North Sea, and which are owned by several 
companies ; or rather, the trawlers catch the fish, and 
then smart, fast-sailing cutters bring the fish up to 
Billingsgate. Eels, of the larger and coarser kind, 
patronized by eel-pie makers and cheap soup-makers, 
mostly come in heavy Dutch boats, where they writhe 
and dabble about in wells or tanks full of water ; but the 
more delicate eels are caught nearer home. Cod are 
literally " knocked on the head " just before being sent to 
Billingsgate. A "dainty live cod" is of course not seen 
in the London fishmongers' shops, and still less in the 
barrow of the costermonger ; but, nevertheless, there is 
an attempt made to approach as near to this liveliness as 
may be practicable. The fish, brought alive in welled 
vessels, are dexterously killed by a blow on the head, and 
sent up directly to Billingsgate by rail, when the high- 
class fishmongers buy them at once, before attending to 
other fish. We may be sure that there is some adequate 
reason for this, known to and admitted by the initiated. 
Che fish caught by the trawl-net, such as turbot, brill, soles, 
plaice, haddock, skate, halibut, and dabs, are very largely 
caught in the sandbanks which lie off Holland and Den- 
mark. The trawl net is in the form of a large bag open at 
me end ; this is suspended from the stern of the fishing- 



338 BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 

lugger, which, drags it at a slow pace over the fishing- 
banks. Two or three hundred vessels are out at once on 
this trade, remaining sometimes three or four months, and 
sending their produce to market in the rapid vessels 
already mentioned. The best kinds of trawl-fish, such as 
turbot, brill, and soles, are kept apart, separate from the 
plaice, haddock, skate, &c., which are regarded as inferior. 
The " costers " buy the haddock largely, and clean and 
cure them ; they (or other persons) also buy the plaice, 
clean them, cut them up, fry them in oil, and sell them 
for poor people's suppers. The best trawl- fish are gutted 
before being packed, or the fishmongers will have nothing 
to do with them. Concerning mackerel, a curious change 
has taken place within a year or two. Fine large mackerel 
are now sent all the way from Norway, packed in ice in 
boxes, like salmon, lauded at Grimsby or some other 
eastern port, and then sent onward by rail. The mackerel 
on our own coast seem to have become smaller than of 
yore, and thus this new Norwegian supply is very 
welcome. 

All these varieties of fish alike, then, and others not 
here named, are forwarded to the mighty metropolitan 
market for sale. And here the reader must bear in 
mind that the real seller does not come into personal 
communication with the real buyer. As at Mark Lane, 
where the cornfactor comes between the farmer and the 
miller; as at the Coal Exchange, where the coalfactor 
acts as an intermedium between the pit- owner and the 
coal- merchant; as at the Cattle Market, where the Smith- 
field (so called) salesman conducts the sales, from the 



BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 339 

grazier to the butcher so at Billingsgate does the fish- 
salesman make the best bargain he can for the fisherman, 
and takes the money from the fishmonger. More than 
t\vo thousand years ago, according to the Rev. Mr. 
Badham, there were middlemen of this class, and men, 
too, of no little account in their own estimation and in the 
estimation of the world. The Billingsgate salesman must 
be at business by five in the morning, and his work is ended 
by eleven or twelve o'clock. They all assemble, many scores 
of them, in time for the ringing of the market-bell at five 
o'clock. Each has his stand, for which a rental is paid 
to the Corporation ; and as there are always more appli- 
cants for stands than stands to give them, the privilege is 
a valued one. Some of these salesmen have shops in 
Thames Street, or in the neighbouring lanes and alleys ; 
but the majority have only stands in Billingsgate. Some 
deal mostly in one kind of fish only, some take all indis- 
criminately. In most cases (as we have said) each, when 
he comes to business in the morning, has the means of 
knowing what kind and quantity of fish will be consigned 
to him for sale. The electric telegraph does all this work, 
while we laggards are fast asleep. Of the seven hundred 
regular fishmongers in the metropolis, how many attend 
Billingsgate we do not know ; but it is probable most of 
them do so, as by no other means can proper purchases 
be made. At any rate, the number of fishmongers' carts 
within a furlong or so of the market is something enor- 
mous. The crack fishmongers go to the stalls of the 
salesmen who habitually receive consignments of the best 
fish ; and as there is not much haggling about price, a 



340 BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 

vast amount of trade is conducted within the first hour 
or two. Porters bring in the hampers and boxes of fine 
fish, the fishmongers examine them rapidly, and the thing 
is soon done. Of course, anything like a regular price for 
fish is out of the question ; the supply varies greatly, and 
the price varies with the supply. The salesman does the 
best he can for his client, and the fishmonger does the 
best he can for himself. 

But the liveliest scene at Billingsgate, the fun of the 
affair, is when the costermongers come. This may be at 
seven o'clock or so, after the " dons " have taken off the 
fish that command a high price. How many there are 
of these costermongers it would be impossible to say, be- 
cause the same men (and women) deal in fruit and vege- 
tables from Covent Garden, or in fish from Billingsgate, 
according to the abundance or scarcity of different com- 
modities. Somehow or other, by some kind of free- 
masonry among themselves, they contrive to learn, in a 
wonderfully short space of time, whether there is a good 
supply of herrings, sprats, mackerel, &c., at the " Gate," 
and they will flock down thither literally by thousands. 
The men and boys all wear caps leather, hairy, felt, 
cloth, anything will do ; but a cap it must be, a hat 
would not be orthodox. The intensity displayed by these 
dealers is very marked and characteristic ; they have 
only a few shillings each with which to speculate, and 
they must so manage these shillings as to get a day's 
profit out of their transactions. They do not buy of the 
principal salesmen. There is a class called by the extra- 
ordinary name of bommarecs or bummarces (for what 



BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 341 

reason even the " oldest inhabitant " could not tell), who 
buy largely from the leaders in the trade, and then sell 
again to the peripatetics the street dealers. They are 
not fishmongers ; they buy and sell again during the same 
day, and in the market itself. The bommaree, perched 
on his rostrum (which may be a salmon-box or a herring- 
barrel), summons a group of costermongers around him, 
and puts up lot after lot for sale. There is a peculiar 
lingo adopted, only in part intelligible to the outer world 
a shouting and vociferating that seems to be part of the 
system. The owners of the hairy caps are eagerly 
grouped into a mass, inspecting the fish ; and every man 
or boy makes a wonderfully rapid calculation of the pro- 
bable price that it would be worth his while to go to. The 
salesman, or bommareo, has no auctioneer's hammer; he 
brings the right palm down with a clap upon the left to 
denote that a lot has been sold ; and the fishy money goes 
from the costermonger's fishy hand into the bommaree's 
fishy hand with the utmost promptness. Most of the 
dried-fish salesmen congregate under the arcade in front 
of the market ; most of the dealers in periwinkles, cockles, 
and mussels (which are bought chiefly by women), in the 
basement story, where there are tubs of these shell-fish 
almost as large as brewers' vats ; but the other kinds of 
fish are sold in the great market a quadrangular area 
covered with a roof supported by pillars, and lighted by 
skylights. The world knows no such fishy pillars else- 
where as these ; for every pillar is a leaning-post for 
salesmen, bommarees, porters, costermongers, baskets, 
hampers, and fish-boxes. 



342 BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 

And now the reader may fairly ask, what is the quan- 
tity of fish which in a day, or in a year, or any other 
definite period, is thus sold at Billingsgate ? Echo an- 
swers the question; but the Clerk of the Market does 
not, will not, cannot. "We are assured by the experienced 
and observant Mr. Deering, who has filled this post for 
many years, that all statements on this particular subject 
must necessarily be mere guesses. No person whatever 
is in possession of the data. There are many reasons for 
this. In the first place, there are no duties on fish, no 
customs on the imported fish, nor excise on that caught 
on our own coasts; and therefore there are no official 
books of quantities and numbers. In the second place, 
there is no regularity in the supply ; no fisherman or 
fishmonger, salesman or bommaree, can tell whether to- 
morrow night's catch will be a rich or a poor one. In 
the third place, the Corpora Lion of the City of London do 
not charge market-dues according to the quantity of fish 
sold or brought in for sale ; so much per van or waggon, 
so much per smack or cutter, so much per stand in the 
market these are the items charged for. In the fourth 
place, each salesman, knowing his own amount of busi- 
ness, is not at all likely to mention that amount to other 
folks. Out of (say) a hundred of them, each may form a 
guess of the extent of business transacted by the other 
ninety-nine ; but we should have to compare a hundred 
different guesses, to test the validity of each. Nor could 
the carriers assist us much ; for if every railway company, 
and every boat or steamer owner, were even so communi- 
cative as to tell how many loads of fish had been conveyed 



BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 343 



to Billingsgate in a year, we should still be far from 
knowing the quantities of each kind that made up the 
aggregate. On these various grounds it is believed that 
the annual trade of Billingsgate cannot be accurately 
stated. Some years ago Mr. Henry Mayhew, in a series 
of remarkable articles in the " Morning Chronicle," gave 
a tabulated statement of the probable amount of this 
trade ; and about five or six years later, Dr. Wynter, in 
the " Quarterly Review," quoted the opinion of some 
Billingsgate authority, that the statement was probably 
not in excess of the truth. "We will therefore give the 
figures, the reader being quite at liberty to marvel at 
them as much as he likes : 

Salmon . . . 29,000 boxes, 7 in a box. 

Cod, livo . . 400,000, averaging 10 Ib. each. 

,, barrelled 15,000 barrels, 50 to a barrel. 

,, salt . . 1,600,000, averaging 5lb. each. 

Haddocks . . 2,470,000, at 21b. each. 

Do., smoked . 65,000 barrels, 300 to a barrel. 

Soles . . . 97,520,000, at ilb. each. 

Mackerel . . 23,620,000, at lib. each. 

Hen-ings . . 250,000 barrels, at 150 each. 

Do., red . . 100,000 barrels, at 500 each. 

Do. bloaters . 265,000 baskets, at 150 each. 

Eels .... 9,000,000, at 6 to 1 Ib. 

Whiting . . 17,920,000, at 6 oz. each. 

Plaice . . . 36,600,000, at 1 Ib. each. 

Turbot . . . 800,000, at 7 Ib. each. 

' ! 1,220,000, at 3 Ib. each. 



r * 

Mullet . 

Oysters 
Crabs . 
Lobsters 
Prawns 
Shrimps 



500,000,000, at 400 to a peck. 

600,000, 
1,200,000. 

12 tons, at 120 to 1 Ib. 
192,295 gallons, at 320 to a pint. 



344 BILLINGSGATE AT FIVE IN THE MORNING. 

These figures nearly take one's breath away. What 
on earth becomes of the shells of the five hundred million 
oysters, and the hard red coats of the eighteen hundred 
thousand lobsters and crabs, besides the shells of the 
mussels, cockles, and winkles, which are not here enume- 
rated ? Another learned authority, Mr. Braithwaite 
Poole, when he was goods manager of the London and 
North-Western Railway Company, brought the shell- fisk 
as well as the other fish into his calculations, and startled, 
us with such quantities as fifty million mussels, seventx 
million cockles, three hundred million periwinkles, five 
hundred million shrimps, and twelve hundred million 
herrings. In short, putting this and that together, he 
told us that about four thousand million fish, weighing a 
quarter of a million tons, and bringing two million ster- 
ling, were sold annually at Billingsgate ! Generally 
speaking, Mr. Poole's figures make a tolerably near 
approach to those of Mr. Mayhew ; and therefore 
it may possibly be that we Londoners men and women, 
boys, girls, and babies after supplying country folks 
eat about two fish each every average day, taking 
our fair share between turbot, salmon, and cod at one 
end of the series, and sprats, periwinkles and shrimps 
at the other. Not a little curious is this ichthyophagous 
estimate. If Mr. Frank Buckland, Mr. Francis, and the 
other useful men who are endeavouring to improve and 
increase the artificial rearing of fish, should succeed in 
their endeavours, we shall, as a matter of course, make 
au advance as a fish- eating people. 



JVDD AND GLASS, FHffiNIX PBiMTING WORKS, DOCTOBS' COMMONS, B.C. 







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