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Title: Fifty Years Ago
Author: Besant, Walter
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: THE PRINCESS VICTORIA IN 1830

(From the Picture by RICHARD WESTALL, R.A., at Windsor Castle.)]



  FIFTY YEARS AGO


  BY

  WALTER BESANT

  AUTHOR OF ‘ALL SORTS AND CONDITIONS OF MEN’ ETC.


  [Illustration]


  _PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED_


  NEW YORK

  HARPER & BROTHERS, FRANKLIN SQUARE



BY WALTER BESANT.

  ALL IN A GARDEN FAIR. 4to, Paper, 20 cents.

  DOROTHY FORSTER. 4to, Paper, 20 cents.

  FIFTY YEARS AGO. 8vo, Cloth. (_Just Published._)

  HERR PAULUS. 8vo, Paper, 35 cents.

  KATHERINE REGINA. 4to, Paper, 15 cents.

  LIFE OF COLIGNY. 32mo, Paper, 25 cents.

  SELF OR BEARER. 4to, Paper, 15 cts.

  THE WORLD WENT VERY WELL THEN. Illustrated. 4to, Paper, 25 cents.

  THE CHILDREN OF GIBEON. 4to, Paper, 20 cents.

  THE HOLY ROSE. 4to, Paper, 20 cents.

  TO CALL HER MINE. Illustrated. 4to, Paper, 20 cents.

  UNCLE JACK AND OTHER STORIES. 12mo, Paper, 25 cents.


By WALTER BESANT AND JAMES RICE.

  ALL SORTS AND CONDITIONS OF MEN. 4to, Paper, 20 cents.

  BY CELIA’S ARBOR. Illustrated. 8vo, Paper, 50 cents.

  SHEPHERDS ALL AND MAIDENS FAIR. 32mo, Paper, 25 cents.

  “SO THEY WERE MARRIED.” Illustrated. 4to, Paper, 20 cents.

  SWEET NELLY, MY HEART’S DELIGHT. 4to, Paper, 10 cents.

  THE CHAPLAIN OF THE FLEET. 4to, Paper, 20 cents.

  THE CAPTAIN’S ROOM. 4to, Paper, 10 cents.

  THE GOLDEN BUTTERFLY. 8vo, Paper, 40 cents.

  ’TWAS IN TRAFALGAR’S BAY. 32mo, Paper, 20 cents.

  WHEN THE SHIP COMES HOME. 32mo, Paper, 25 cents.


PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK.

☛ _Any of the above works will be sent by mail, postage prepaid, to
   any part of the United States or Canada, on receipt of the price._



PREFACE.


It has been my desire in the following pages to present a picture of
society in this country as it was when the Queen ascended the throne.
The book is an enlargement of a paper originally contributed to ‘The
Graphic.’ I have written several additional chapters, and have revised
all the rest. The chapter on Law and Justice has been written for this
volume by my friend Mr. W. Morris Colles, of the Inner Temple. I beg to
record my best thanks to that gentleman for his important contribution.

I have not seen in any of the literature called forth by the happy
event of last year any books or papers which cover the exact ground
of this compilation. There are histories of progress and advancement;
there are contrasts; but there has not been offered anywhere, to my
knowledge, a picture of life, manners, and society as they were fifty
years ago.

When the editor of ‘The Graphic’ proposed that I should write a paper
on this subject, I readily consented, thinking it would be a light
and easy task, and one which could be accomplished in two or three
weeks. Light and easy it certainly was in a sense, because it was very
pleasant work, and the books to be consulted are easily accessible; but
then there are so many: the investigation of a single point sometimes
carried one through half-a-dozen volumes. The two or three weeks became
two or three months.

At the very outset of the work I was startled to find how great a
revolution has taken place in our opinions and ways of thinking,
how much greater than is at first understood. For instance, America
was, fifty years ago, practically unknown to the bulk of our people;
American ideas had little or no influence upon us; our people had no
touch with the United States; if they spoke of a Republic, they still
meant the first French Republic, the only Republic they knew, with
death to kings and tyrants; while the recollection of the guillotine
still preserved cautious and orderly people from Republican ideas.

Who now, however, connects a Republic with a Reign of Terror and the
guillotine? The American Republic, in fact, has taken the place of the
French. Again, though the Reform Bill had been, in 1837, passed already
five years, its effects were as yet only beginning to be felt; we were
still, politically, in the eighteenth century. So in the Church, in the
Law, in the Services, in Society, we were governed by the ideas of the
eighteenth century.

The nineteenth century actually began with steam communication by
sea; with steam machinery; with railways; with telegraphs; with the
development of the colonies; with the admission of the people to the
government of the country; with the opening of the Universities; with
the spread of science; with the revival of the democratic spirit. It
did not really begin, in fact, till about fifty years ago. When and how
will it end? By what order, by what ideas, will it be followed?

In compiling even such a modest work as the present, one is constantly
attended by a haunting dread of having forgotten something necessary
to complete the picture. I have been adding little things ever since I
began to put these scenes together. At this, the very last moment, the
Spirit of Memory whispers in my ear, ‘Did you remember to speak of the
high fireplaces, the open chimneys--up which half the heat mounted--the
broad hobs, and the high fenders, with the fronts pierced, in front of
which people’s feet were always cold? Did you remember to note that
the pin of the period had its head composed of a separate piece of
wire rolled round; that steel pens were either as yet unknown, or were
precious and costly things; that the quill was always wanting a fresh
nib; that the wax-match did not exist; that in the country they still
used the old-fashioned brimstone match; that the night-light of the
period was a rush candle stuck in a round tin cylinder full of holes;
and that all the ladies’ dress had hooks and eyes behind?’

I do not think that I have mentioned any of these points; and yet, how
much food for reflection is afforded by every one! Reader, you may
perhaps find my pictures imperfect, but you can fill in any one sketch
from your own superior knowledge. Meantime, remember this. As nearly as
possible, fifty years ago, the eighteenth century passed away. It died
slowly; its end was hardly marked.

King William the Fourth is dead. Alas! how many things were dying with
that good old king! The steam-whistle was already heard across the
fields: already in mid-ocean the great steamers were crossing against
wind and tide: already the nations were slowly beginning to know each
other: Privilege, Patronage, and the Power of Rank were beginning
already to tremble, and were afraid: already the working man was heard
demanding his vote: the nineteenth century had begun. We who have
lived in it; we who are full of its ideas; we who are all swept along
upon the full stream of it--we know not, we cannot see, whither it is
carrying us.

                    W. B.



CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
      I. GREAT BRITAIN, IRELAND, AND THE COLONIES                      1

     II. THE YEAR 1837                                                18

    III. LONDON IN 1837                                               30

     IV. IN THE STREET                                                45

      V. WITH THE PEOPLE                                              67

     VI. WITH THE MIDDLE-CLASS                                        85

    VII. IN SOCIETY                                                  110

   VIII. AT THE PLAY AND THE SHOW                                    125

     IX. IN THE HOUSE                                                137

      X. AT SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY                                    154

     XI. THE TAVERN                                                  160

    XII. IN CLUB- AND CARD-LAND                                      175

   XIII. WITH THE WITS                                               183

    XIV. JOURNALS AND JOURNALISTS                                    209

     XV. THE SPORTSMAN                                               214

    XVI. IN FACTORY AND MINE                                         224

   XVII. WITH THE MEN OF SCIENCE                                     233

  XVIII. LAW AND JUSTICE                                             237

    XIX. CONCLUSION                                                  258



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


                               _PLATES._

  THE PRINCESS VICTORIA IN 1830. _From the Picture by
  Richard Westall, R.A., at Windsor Castle_               _Frontispiece_

  WINDSOR CASTLE                                              _Vignette_

                                                                    PAGE
  QUEEN VICTORIA IN 1839. _From a Drawing by R. J. Lane, A.R.A._       1

  THOMAS CARLYLE. _From the Fraser Gallery_                           16

  THE QUEEN’S FIRST COUNCIL--KENSINGTON PALACE, JUNE 20, 1837.
    _From the Picture by Sir David Wilkie, R.A., at Windsor
    Castle_                                                           18

  A SHOW OF TWELFTH-CAKES. _From Cruikshank’s ‘Comic Almanack’_       20

  GREENWICH PARK. _From Cruikshank’s ‘Comic Almanack’_                22

  THE CHIMNEY-SWEEPS’ ANNUAL HOLIDAY. _From Cruikshank’s
    ‘Comic Almanack’_                                                 24

  BEATING THE BOUNDS. _From Cruikshank’s ‘Comic Almanack’_            26

  BARTHOLOMEW FAIR. _From Cruikshank’s ‘Comic Almanack’_              28

  VAUXHALL GARDENS. _From Cruikshank’s ‘Comic Almanack’_              30

  IN FLEET STREET. PROCLAIMING THE QUEEN. _From Cruikshank’s
    ‘Comic Almanack’_                                                 56

  LEIGH HUNT. _From the Fraser Gallery_                               64

  JOHN GALT. _From the Fraser Gallery_                                86

  THE QUEEN RECEIVING THE SACRAMENT AFTER HER CORONATION.
    WESTMINSTER ABBEY, JUNE 28, 1838. _From the Picture by C. R.
    Leslie, R.A., at Windsor Castle_                                  94

  THEODORE HOOK. _From the Fraser Gallery_                           100

  THE COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON. _From the Fraser Gallery_             110

  COUNT D’ORSAY. _From the Fraser Gallery_                           112

  SYDNEY SMITH. _From the Fraser Gallery_                            116

  JOHN BALDWIN BUCKSTONE. _From the Fraser Gallery_                  126

  THOMAS NOON TALFOURD. _From the Fraser Gallery_                    128

  MARY RUSSELL MITFORD. _From the Fraser Gallery_                    130

  SIR WALTER SCOTT. _From the Fraser Gallery_                        132

  LORD LYNDHURST. _From the Fraser Gallery_                          138

  WILLIAM COBBETT. _From the Fraser Gallery_                         140

  LORD JOHN RUSSELL. _From the Fraser Gallery_                       144

  EDWARD LYTTON BULWER. _From the Fraser Gallery_                    148

  BENJAMIN D’ISRAELI. _From the Fraser Gallery_                      150

  THOMAS CAMPBELL. _From the Fraser Gallery_                         176

  SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE. _From the Fraser Gallery_                 182

  WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. _From the Fraser Gallery_                      184

  REV. WILLIAM LISLE BOWLES. _From the Fraser Gallery_               186

  PIERRE-JEAN DE BÉRANGER. _From the Fraser Gallery_                 188

  JAMES HOGG. _From the Fraser Gallery_                              190

  REGINA’S MAIDS OF HONOUR. _From the Fraser Gallery_                192

  HARRIET MARTINEAU. _From the Fraser Gallery_                       194

  WILLIAM HARRISON AINSWORTH. _From the Fraser Gallery_              196

  THE FRASERIANS. _From the Fraser Gallery_                          198

  JOHN GIBSON LOCKHART. _From the Fraser Gallery_                    200

  SAMUEL ROGERS. _From the Fraser Gallery_                           202

  THOMAS MOORE. _From the Fraser Gallery_                            204

  LORD BROUGHAM AND VAUX. _From the Fraser Gallery_                  206

  WASHINGTON IRVING. _From the Fraser Gallery_                       208

  JOHN WILSON CROKER. _From the Fraser Gallery_                      210

  COCKNEY SPORTSMEN. _From Cruikshank’s ‘Comic Almanack’_            218

  RETURN FROM THE RACES. _From Cruikshank’s ‘Comic Almanack’_        220

  SIR JOHN C. HOBHOUSE. _From the Fraser Gallery_                    226

  A POINT OF LAW. _From Cruikshank’s ‘Comic Almanack’_               238

  MICHAEL FARADAY. _From the Fraser Gallery_                         258


                        _WOODCUTS IN THE TEXT._

  ARRIVAL OF THE CORONATION NUMBER OF ‘THE SUN’                        2

  LIFEGUARD, 1837                                                      4

  GENERAL POSTMAN                                                      6

  NAPOLEON AT LONGWOOD. _From a Drawing made in 1820_                 12

  LONDON STREET CHARACTERS, 1837. _From a Drawing by John Leech_      14

  5 GREAT CHEYNE ROW. _The House in which Carlyle lived from 1834
    to his Death in 1881_                                             16

  THE DUCHESS OF KENT, WITH THE PRINCESS VICTORIA AT THE AGE OF
    TWO. _From the Picture by Sir W. Beechey, R.A., at Windsor
    Castle_                                                           17

  WILLIAM IV. _From a Drawing by HB._                                 18

  PEELER                                                              20

  THE SPANIARDS TAVERN, HAMPSTEAD                                     22

  SIR ROBERT PEEL                                                     24

  A PARISH BEADLE. _From a Drawing by George Cruikshank in
    ‘London Characters’_                                              26

  EVENING IN SMITHFIELD. _From a Drawing made in 1858, at the
    Gateway leading into Cloth Fair, the Place of Proclamation
    of Bartholomew Fair_                                              28

  FIREMAN                                                             31

  HACKNEY COACHMAN. _From a Drawing by George Cruikshank in
    ‘London Characters’_                                              34

  THE FIRST LONDON EXCHANGE                                           34

  THE SECOND LONDON EXCHANGE                                          35

  THE PRESENT ROYAL EXCHANGE--THIRD LONDON EXCHANGE                   35

  CHARING CROSS IN THE PRESENT DAY. _From a Drawing by Frank
    Murray_                                                           37

  TEMPLE BAR                                                          38

  THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE                                         39

  LYONS INN IN 1804. _From an Engraving in Herbert’s ‘History of
    the Inns of Court’_                                               41

  KENNINGTON GATE--DERBY DAY                                          42

  THE OLD ROMAN BATH IN THE STRAND                                    43

  LONDON STREET CHARACTERS, 1827. _From a Drawing by John
  Leech_                                                              46

  THE KING’S MEWS IN 1750. _From a Print by I. Maurer_                47

  BARRACK AND OLD HOUSES ON THE SITE OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE.
    _From a Drawing made by F. W. Fairholt in_ 1826                   48

  THE LAST CABRIOLET-DRIVER. _From a Drawing by George
    Cruikshank in ‘Sketches by Boz’_                                  49

  A GREENWICH PENSIONER. _From a Drawing by George Cruikshank
    in ‘London Characters’_                                           52

  AN OMNIBUS UPSET. _From Cruikshank’s ‘Comic Almanack’_              53

  EXETER CHANGE                                                       54

  THE PARISH ENGINE. _From a Drawing by George Cruikshank in
    ‘Sketches by Boz’_                                                56

  CROCKFORD’S FISH SHOP. _From a Drawing by F. W. Fairholt_           57

  THOMAS CHATTERTON                                                   60

  THIRD REGIMENT OF BUFFS                                             63

  DOUGLAS JERROLD. _From the Bust by E. H. Bailey, R.A._              64

  JOHN FORSTER. _From a Photograph by Elliott & Fry_                  65

  CHARLES DICKENS                                                     66

  THE DARBY DAY. _From Cruikshank’s ‘Comic Almanack’_                 76

  NEWGATE--ENTRANCE IN THE OLD BAILEY                                 77

  IN THE QUEEN’S BENCH                                                79

  GEORGE ELIOT. _From a Drawing in ‘The Graphic’_                     86

  LA PASTOURELLE                                                      89

  FASHIONS FOR AUGUST 1836                                            98

  FASHIONS FOR MARCH 1837                                             98

  WATCHMAN. _From a Drawing by George Cruikshank in ‘London
    Characters’_                                                     101

  A SCENE ON BLACKHEATH. _From a Drawing by ‘Phiz’ in Grant’s
    ‘Sketches in London’_                                            105

  MAID-SERVANT. _From a Drawing by George Cruikshank in ‘London
    Characters’_                                                     107

  OFFICER OF THE DRAGOON GUARDS                                      111

  A SKETCH IN THE PARK--THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON AND MRS.
    ARBUTHNOT                                                        115

  LINKMAN                                                            117

  WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY                                        123

  LISTON AS ‘PAUL PRY.’ _From a Drawing by George Cruikshank_        128

  CHARLES READE                                                      130

  T. P. COOKE IN ‘BLACK-EYED SUSAN’                                  132

  VAUXHALL GARDENS                                                   133

  THE ‘NEW’ HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT, FROM THE RIVER                     138

  LORD MELBOURNE                                                     140

  THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY                                          141

  LORD PALMERSTON                                                    142

  BURDETT, HUME, AND O’CONNELL. _From a Drawing by HB._              143

  DANIEL O’CONNELL                                                   146

  O’CONNELL TAKING THE OATHS IN THE HOUSE. _From a Drawing by
    ‘Phiz’ in ‘Sketches in London’_                                  147

  EDMUND KEAN AS RICHARD THE THIRD                                   161

  OLD ENTRANCE TO THE COCK, FLEET STREET                             163

  THE OLD TABARD INN, HIGH STREET, SOUTHWARK                         173

  SIGN OF THE SWAN WITH TWO NECKS, CARTER LANE                       174

  SIGN OF THE BOLT-IN-TUN, FLEET STREET                              174

  OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE CLUB, PALL MALL                               176

  UNITED UNIVERSITY CLUB, PALL MALL                                  177

  CROCKFORD’S, ST. JAMES’S STREET                                    179

  CHARLES KNIGHT. _From a Photograph by Hughes & Mullins_            184

  ROBERT SOUTHEY                                                     185

  THOMAS MOORE                                                       186

  ‘VATHEK’ BECKFORD. _From a Medallion_                              187

  WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR. _From a Photograph by H. Watkins_            188

  RALPH WALDO EMERSON                                                189

  LORD BYRON                                                         190

  SIR WALTER SCOTT                                                   191

  A FASHIONABLE BEAUTY OF 1837. _By A. E. Chalon, R.A._              193

  LORD TENNYSON AS A YOUNG MAN. _From the Picture by Sir T.
    Lawrence, R.A._                                                  196

  MATTHEW ARNOLD                                                     200

  CHARLES DARWIN                                                     201

  HOLLAND HOUSE                                                      203

  LETTING CHILDREN DOWN A COAL-MINE. _From a Plate in ‘The
    Westminster Review’_                                             225

  CHILDREN WORKING IN A COAL-MINE. _From a Plate in ‘The
    Westminster Review’_                                             229

  LONDON STREET CHARACTERS, 1837. _From a Drawing by John
    Leech_                                                           231

  MARSHALSEA--THE COURTYARD. _From a Drawing by C. A. Vanderhoof_    239


[Illustration: QUEEN VICTORIA IN 1839.

(From a Drawing by R. J. LANE, A.R.A.)]



FIFTY YEARS AGO.



CHAPTER I.

GREAT BRITAIN, IRELAND, AND THE COLONIES.


I propose to set before my readers a picture of the country as it was
when Queen Victoria (God save the Queen!) ascended the throne, now
fifty years ago and more. It will be a picture of a time so utterly
passed away and vanished that a young man can hardly understand it. I,
who am no longer, unhappily, quite so young as some, and whose babyhood
heard the cannon of the Coronation, can partly understand this time,
because in many respects, and especially in the manners of the middle
class, customs and habits which went out of fashion in London lingered
in the country towns, and formed part of my own early experiences.

[Illustration: ARRIVAL OF THE CORONATION NUMBER OF ‘THE SUN’--ONE
PAPER, AND ONE MAN WHO CAN READ IT IN THE TOWN]

In the year 1837--I shall repeat this remark several times, because
I wish to impress the fact upon everybody--we were still, to all
intents and purposes, in the eighteenth century. As yet the country
was untouched by that American influence which is now filling all
peoples with new ideas. Rank was still held in the ancient reverence;
religion was still that of the eighteenth-century Church; the rights
of labour were not yet recognised; there were no trades’ unions; there
were no railways to speak of; nobody travelled except the rich; their
own country was unknown to the people; the majority of country people
could not read or write; the good old discipline of Father Stick and
his children, Cat-o’-Nine-Tails, Rope’s-end, Strap, Birch, Ferule,
and Cane, was wholesomely maintained; landlords, manufacturers, and
employers of all kinds did what they pleased with their own; and the
Blue Ribbon was unheard of. There were still some fiery spirits in
whose breasts lingered the ideas of the French Revolution, and the
Chartists were already beginning to run their course. Beneath the
surface there was discontent, which sometimes bubbled up. But freedom
of speech was limited, and if the Sovereign People had then ventured
to hold a meeting in Trafalgar Square, that meeting would have been
dispersed in a very swift and surprising manner. The Reform Act had
been passed, it is true, but as yet had produced little effect.
Elections were carried by open bribery; the Civil Service was full of
great men’s nominees; the Church was devoured by pluralists; there were
no competitive examinations; the perpetual pensions were many and fat;
and for the younger sons and their progeny the State was provided with
any number of sinecures. How men contrived to live and to be cheerful
in this state of things one knows not. But really, I think it made
very little apparent difference to their happiness that this country
was crammed full of abuses, and that the Ship of State, to outsiders,
seemed as if she were about to capsize and founder.

This is to be a short chapter of figures. Figures mean very little
unless they can be used for purposes of comparison. When, for
instance, one reads that in the Census of 1831 the population of Great
Britain was 16,539,318, the fact has little significance except when
compared with the Census of 1881, which shows that the population
of the country had increased in fifty years from sixteen millions to
twenty-four millions. And, again, one knows not whether to rejoice or
to weep over this fact until it has been ascertained how the condition
of these millions has changed for better or for worse, and whether the
outlook for the future, if, in the next fifty years, twenty-four become
thirty-six, is hopeful or no. Next, when one reads that the population
of Ireland was then seven millions and three-quarters, and is now less
than five millions, and, further, that one Irishman in three was always
next door to starving, and that the relative importance of Ireland to
Great Britain was then as one to two, and is now as one to five, one
naturally congratulates Ireland on getting more elbow-room and Great
Britain on the relative decrease in Irish power to do the larger island
an injury.

[Illustration: LIFEGUARD, 1837]

The Army and Navy together in 1831 contained no more than 277,017 men,
or half their present number. But then the proportion of the English
military strength to the French was much nearer one of equality. The
relief of the poor in 1831 absorbed 6,875,552_l._, but this sum in 1844
had dropped to 4,976,090_l._, the saving of two millions being due to
the new Poor Law. The stream of emigration had hardly yet begun to
flow. Witness the following figures:

  The number of emigrants in 1820 was 18,984
        ”           ”        1825      8,860
        ”           ”        1832    103,311
        ”           ”        1837     72,034

It was not until 1841 that the great flow of emigrants began in
the direction of New Zealand and Australia. The emigrants of 1832
chiefly went to Canada, and as yet the United States were practically
unaffected by the rush from the old countries.

The population of the great towns has for the most part doubled
itself in the last fifty years. London had then a million and a half;
Liverpool, 200,000; Manchester, 250,000; Glasgow, 250,000; Birmingham,
150,000; Leeds, 140,000; and Bristol, 120,000.

Penal settlements were still flourishing. Between 1825 and 1840,
when they were suppressed, 48,712 convicts were sent out to Sydney.
As regards travelling, the fastest rate along the high roads was ten
miles an hour. There were 54 four-horse mail coaches in England, and 49
two-horse mails. In Ireland there were 30 four-horse coaches, and 10 in
Scotland. There were 3,026 stage coaches in the country, of which 1,507
started from London.

There were already 668 British steamers afloat, though the penny
steamboat did not as yet ply upon the river. Heavy goods travelled
by the canals and navigable rivers, of which there were 4,000 in
Great Britain; the hackney coach, with its pair of horses, lumbered
slowly along the street; the cabriolet was the light vehicle for rapid
conveyance, but it was not popular; the omnibus had only recently been
introduced by Mr. Shillibeer; and there were no hansom cabs. There
was a Twopenny Post in London, but no Penny Post as yet. There was
no Book Post, no Parcel Post, no London Parcels Delivery Company. If
you wanted to send a parcel to anywhere in the country, you confided
it to the guard of the coach; if to a town address, there were street
messengers and the ‘cads’ about the stage-coach stations; there were no
telegraphs, no telephones, no commissionaires.

[Illustration: GENERAL POSTMAN]

Fifty years ago the great railways were all begun, but not one of
them was completed. A map published in the _Athenæum_ of January 23,
1836, shows the state of the railways at that date. The line between
Liverpool and Manchester was opened in September, 1830. In 1836 it
was carrying 450,000 passengers in the year, and paying a dividend of
9 per cent. The line between Carlisle and Newcastle was very nearly
completed; that between Leeds and Selby was opened in 1834; there were
many short lines in the coal and mining districts, and little bits of
the great lines were already completed. The London and Greenwich line
was begun in 1834 and opened in 1837. There were in progress the London
and Birmingham, the Birmingham, Stafford, and Warrington, the Great
Western as far as Bath and Bristol, and the London and Southampton
passing through Basingstoke. It is amazing to think that Portsmouth,
the chief naval port and place of embarkation for troops, was left
out altogether. There were also a great many lines projected, which
afterwards settled down into the present great Trunk lines. As they
were projected in 1836, instead of Great Northern, North-Western, and
Great Eastern, we should have had one line passing through Saffron
Walden, Cambridge, Peterborough, Lincoln, York, Appleby, and Carlisle,
with another from London to Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich, and Yarmouth;
there was also a projected continuation of the G.W.R. line from Bristol
to Exeter, and three or four projected lines to Brighton and Dover.
The writer of the article on the subject in the _Athenæum_ of that
date (January 23, 1836) considers that when these lines are completed,
letters and passengers will be conveyed from London to Liverpool in ten
hours. ‘Little attention,’ he says, ‘has yet been given to calculate
the effects which must result from the establishment throughout the
kingdom of great lines of intercourse traversed at a speed of twenty
miles an hour.’ Unfortunately he had no confidence in himself as a
prophet, or we might have had some curious and interesting forecasts.

As regards the extent of the British Empire, there has been a very
little contraction and an enormous extension. We have given up the
Ionian Islands to gratify the sentiment of Mr. Gladstone, and we
have acquired Cyprus, which may perhaps prove of use. We have taken
possession of Aden, at the mouth of the Red Sea. In Hindostan, which
in 1837 was still partially ruled by a number of native princes, the
flag of Great Britain now reigns supreme; the whole of Burma is now
British Burma; the little island of Hong Kong, which hardly appears in
Arrowsmith’s Atlas of 1840, is now a stronghold of the British Empire.
Borneo, then wholly unknown, now belongs partially to us; New Guinea is
partly ours; Fiji is ours. For the greatest change of all, however, we
must look at the maps of Australia and New Zealand. In the former even
the coast had not been completely surveyed; Melbourne was as yet but a
little unimportant township. Between Melbourne and Botany Bay there was
not a single village, settlement, or plantation. It was not until the
year 1851, only thirty-six years ago, that Port Phillip was separated
from New South Wales, and created an independent colony under the name
of Victoria; and for a few years it was a very rowdy and noisy colony
indeed.

In New South Wales, the population of which was about 150,000, convicts
were still sent out. In the year 1840, when the transportation ceased,
21,000 convicts were assigned to private service. There were in Sydney
many men, ex-convicts, who had raised themselves to wealth; society
was divided by a hard line, not to be crossed in that generation by
those on the one side whose antecedents were honourable and those on
the other who had ‘served their time.’ Tasmania was also still a penal
colony, and, apparently, a place where the convicts did not do so well
as in New South Wales.

Queensland as a separate colony was not yet in existence, though
Brisbane had been begun; tropical Australia was wholly unsettled;
Western Australia was, what it still is, a poor and thinly settled
country.

The map of New Zealand--it was not important enough to have a map
all to itself--shows the coast-line imperfectly surveyed, and not a
single town or English settlement upon it! Fifty years ago that great
colony was not yet even founded. The first serious settlement was made
in 1839, when a patch of land at Port Nicholson, in Cook Strait, was
bought from the natives for the first party of settlers sent out by the
recently established New Zealand Company.

In North America the whole of the North-West Territory, including
Manitoba, Muskoka, British Columbia, and Vancouver’s Island, was left
to Indians, trappers, buffaloes, bears, and rattlesnakes. South Africa
shows the Cape Colony and nothing else. Natal, Orange Free State, the
Transvaal, Bechuanaland, Griqualand, Zululand are all part of the
great undiscovered continent. Considering that all these lands have now
been opened up and settled, so that where was formerly a hundred square
miles of forest and prairie there is now the same area covered with
plantations, towns, and farms, it will be understood that the British
Empire has been increased not only in area, but in wealth, strength,
and resources to an extent which would have been considered incredible
fifty years ago. It is, in fact, just the difference between owning a
barren heath and owning a cultivated farm. The British Empire in 1837
contained millions of square miles of barren heath and wild forest,
which are now settled land and smiling plantations. It boasted of vast
countries, with hardly a single European in them, which are now filled
with English towns. In 1837, prophets foretold the speedy downfall of
an Empire which could no longer defend her vast territories. These
territories can now defend themselves. It may be that we shall have
to fight for empire, but the longer the day of battle is put off the
better it will be for England, and the greater will be her might. To
carry on that war, there are now, scattered over the whole of the
British Empire, fifty millions of people speaking the Anglo-Saxon
tongue. In fifty years’ time there will be two hundred millions in
Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, Africa, Asia, New Zealand, and
the Isles, with another two hundred millions in the States. If the
English-speaking races should decide to unite in a vast confederacy,
all the other Powers on the earth combined will not be able to do them
an injury. Perhaps after this life we shall be allowed to see what goes
on in the world. If so, there is joy in store for the Briton; if not,
we have been born too soon.

[Illustration: NAPOLEON AT LONGWOOD

(From a Drawing made in 1820)]

Next to the extension and development of the Empire comes the opening
up of new countries. We have rescued since the year 1837 the third
part of Africa from darkness; we have found the sources of the Nile;
we have traced the great River Congo from its source to its mouth; we
have explored the whole of Southern Africa; we have rediscovered the
great African lakes which were known to the Jesuits in the seventeenth
century; in Australia we have crossed and recrossed the continent; the
whole of North America has been torn from the Red Indians, and is now
settled in almost every part.

[Illustration: LONDON STREET CHARACTERS, 1837

(From a Drawing by John Leech)]

If the progress of Great Britain has been great, that of the United
States has been amazing. Along the Pacific shore, where were fifty
years ago sand and rock and snow, where formerly the sluggish Mexican
kept his ranch and the Red Indian hunted the buffalo, great towns and
American States now flourish. Arkansas and Missouri were frontier
Western States; Michigan was almost without settlers; Chicago was a
little place otherwise called Fort Dearborn. The population of the
States was still, except for the negroes, and a few descendants of
Germans, Dutch, and Swedes, chiefly of pure British descent. As yet
there were in America few Irish, Germans (except in Pennsylvania),
Norwegians, or Italians. Yet the people, much more than now our
cousins, held little friendly feeling towards the Mother Country, and
lacked the kindly sentiment which has grown up of late years; they were
quite out of touch with us, strangers to us, and yet speaking our
tongue, reading our literature, and governed by our laws.

[Illustration: 5 GREAT CHEYNE ROW

(The House in which Carlyle lived from 1834 to his death in 1881)]

[Illustration: Your’s faithfully,

T. Carlyle.

-THOMAS CARLYLE-]

As soon as the battle of Waterloo was fairly fought and Napoleon
put away at St. Helena, the Continental professors, historians,
political students, and journalists all began with one accord to
prophesy the approaching downfall of Great Britain, which some
affected to deplore and others regarded with complacency. Everything
conspired, it was evident, not only to bring about this decline,
but also to accelerate it. The parallel of Carthage--England has
always been set up as the second Carthage--was freely exhibited,
especially in those countries which felt themselves called upon and
qualified to play the part of Rome. It was pointed out that there
was the dreadful deadweight of Ireland, with its incurable poverty
and discontent; the approaching decay of trade, which could be only,
in the opinion of these keen-sighted philosophers, a matter of a
few years; the enormous weight of the National Debt; the ruined
manufacturers; the wasteful expenditure of the Government in every
branch; the corrupting influence of the Poor Laws; the stain of
slavery; the restrictions of commerce; the intolerance of the Church;
the narrowness and prejudice of the Universities; the ignorance
of the people; their drinking habits; the vastness of the Empire.
These causes, together with discontent, chartism, republicanism,
atheism--in fact, all the disagreeablisms--left no doubt whatever that
England was doomed. Foreigners, in fact, not yet recovered from the
extraordinary spectacle of Great Britain’s long duel with France and
its successful termination, prophesied what they partly hoped out of
envy and jealousy, and partly feared from self-interest. Therefore
the politicians and professors were always looking at this country,
writing about it, watching it, visiting it. No; there could be no
doubt; none of these changes and dangers could be denied; the factories
were choked with excessive production; poverty stalked through the
country; the towns were filled with ruined women; the streets were
cumbered with drunken men; the children were growing up in ignorance
and neglect inconceivable; what could come of all this but ruin?
Even--and this was the most wonderful and incredible thing to those
who do not understand how long a Briton will go on enduring wrongs and
suffering anomalies--the very House of Commons in this boasted land of
freedom did not represent half the people, seats were openly bought
and sold, others were filled with nominees of the great men who owned
them. What could possibly follow but ruin--swift and hopeless ruin?
What, indeed? Prophets of disaster always omit one or two important
elements in their calculations, and it is through these gaps that the
people basely wriggle, instead of fulfilling prophecy as they ought to
do. For instance, there is the recuperative power of Man, and there
is his individuality. He may be full of moral disease, yet such is
his excellent constitution that he presently recovers--he shakes off
his evil habits as he shakes the snow off his shoulders, and goes on
an altered creature. Again, the mass of men may be in heavy case, but
the individual man is patient; he has strength to suffer and endure
until he can pull through the worst; he has patience to wait for better
times; difficulties only call forth his ingenuity and his resource:
disaster stiffens his back, danger finds him brave. Always, to the
prophet who knows not Man, the case is hopeless. Always, to one who
considers that by gazing into the looking-glass, especially immediately
before or after his morning bath, he may perceive his brother as well
as himself, things are hopeful. My brother, have things, at your
worst, ever been, morally, so bad with you that you have despaired of
recovery, seeing that you had only to resolve and you were cured? Have
you ever reflected that while, to the outside world, to your maiden
aunts and to your female cousins, you were most certainly drifting
to moral wreck and material ruin, you have gone about the world with
a hopeful heart, feeling that the future was in your own grasp? Even
now the outlook of the whole world is truly dark, and the clouds are
lowering. Yet surely the outlook was darker, the clouds were blacker,
fifty years ago. Read Carlyle’s ‘Past and Present,’ and compare. There
may be other dangers before us of which we then suspected nothing.
But if we still preserve the qualities which enabled us to stand up,
almost alone, against the colossal force of Napoleon, with Europe at
his back, and which carried us through the terrible troubles which
followed the war, we surely need not despair.

[Illustration: THE DUCHESS OF KENT, WITH THE PRINCESS VICTORIA AT THE
AGE OF TWO

(From the Picture by Sir W. Beechey at Windsor Castle)]



CHAPTER II.

THE YEAR 1837.


[Illustration: WILLIAM IV.

(From a Drawing by HB.)]

The year 1837, except for the death of the old King and the accession
of the young Queen, was a tolerably insignificant year. It was on June
20 that the King died. He was buried on the evening of July 9 at St.
George’s Chapel, Windsor; on the 10th the Queen dissolved Parliament;
on the 13th she went to Buckingham Palace; and on November 9 she
visited the City, where they gave her a magnificent banquet, served in
Guildhall at half past five, the Lord Mayor and City magnates humbly
taking their modest meal at a lower table. Both the hour appointed for
the banquet and the humility of the Lord Mayor and Aldermen point to a
remote period.

The year began with the influenza. Everybody had it. The offices of
the various departments of the Civil Service were deserted because all
the clerks had influenza. Business of all kinds was stopped because
merchants, clerks, bankers, and brokers all had influenza; at Woolwich
fifty men of the Royal Artillery and Engineers were taken into hospital
daily, with influenza. The epidemic seems to have broken out suddenly,
and suddenly to have departed. Another important event of the year was
the establishment of steam communication with India by way of the Red
Sea. The ‘Atalanta’ left Bombay on October 2, and arrived at Suez on
October 16. The mails were brought into Alexandria on the 20th, and
despatched, such was the celerity of the authorities, on November 7
by H.M.S. ‘Volcano.’ They reached Malta on the 11th, Gibraltar on the
16th, and England on December 4, taking sixty days in all, of which,
however, eighteen days were wasted in Alexandria, so that the possible
time of transit from Bombay to England was proved to be forty-two days.

This was the year of the Greenacre murder. The wretched man was under
promise to marry an elderly woman, thinking she had money. One night,
while they were drinking together, she confessed that she had none, and
had deceived him; whereupon, seized with wrath, he took up whatever
weapon lay to his hand, and smote her on the head so that she fell
backwards dead. Now mark: if this man had gone straight to the nearest
police-office, and confessed the crime of homicide, he would certainly
have escaped hanging. But he was so horribly frightened at what had
happened, that he tried to hide the thing by cutting up the body and
bestowing the fragments in various places, all of them the most likely
to be discovered. There was another woman in the case, proved to have
been in his confidence, and tried with him, when all the pieces had
been recovered, and the murder was brought home to him. He was found
guilty and hanged. And never was there a hanging more numerously or
more fashionably attended. The principal performer, however, is said
to have disappointed his audience by a pusillanimous shrinking from
the gallows when he was brought out. The woman was sent to Australia,
where, perhaps, she still survives.

[Illustration: THE QUEEN’S FIRST COUNCIL--KENSINGTON PALACE, JUNE 20,
1837.

(From the Picture by Sir David Wilkie, R.A., at Windsor Castle.)]

[Illustration: PEELER]

There was also, this year, an extremely scandalous action in the High
Court of Justice. It was a libel case brought by Lord de Ros, and arose
out of a gambling quarrel, in which his lordship was accused of
cheating at cards. It was said that, under pretence of a bad cough and
asthma, he kept diving under the table and fishing up kings and aces,
a thing which seems of elementary simplicity, and capable of clear
denial. His lordship, in fact, did deny it, stoutly and on oath. Yet
the witnesses as stoutly swore that he did do this thing, and the jury
found that he did. Whereupon his lordship retired to the Continent, and
shortly afterwards died, _s.p._, without offspring to lament his errors.

[Illustration: A SHOW OF TWELFTH CAKES.]

There was a terrible earthquake this year in the Holy Land. The town
of Safed was laid in ruins, and more than four thousand of the people
were killed. There was a project against the life of Louis-Philippe, by
one Champion, who was arrested. He was base enough to hang himself in
prison, so that no one ever knew if he had any accomplices.

The news arrived also of a dreadful massacre in New Zealand. There was
only one English settlement in the country; it was at a place called
Makuta, in the North Island, where a Mr. Jones, of Sydney, had a flax
establishment, consisting of 120 people, men, women, and children.
They were attacked by a party of 800 natives, and were all barbarously
murdered.

A fatal duel was fought on Hampstead Heath, near the Spaniards Tavern.
The combatants were a Colonel Haring, of the Polish army, and another
Polish officer, who was shot. The seconds carried him to the Middlesex
Hospital, where he died, and nothing more was said about it.

[Illustration: THE SPANIARDS TAVERN, HAMPSTEAD]

The dangers of emigration were illustrated by the voyage of the good
ship ‘Diamond,’ of Liverpool. She had on board a party of passengers
emigrating to New York. In the good old sailing days, the passengers
were expected to lay in their own provisions, the ship carrying water
for them. Now the ‘Diamond’ met with contrary winds, and was ninety
days out, three times as long as was expected. The ship had no more
than enough provisions for the crew, and when the passengers had
exhausted their store their sufferings were terrible.

[Illustration: GREENWICH PARK.]

An embassy from the King of Madagascar arrived this year, and was duly
presented at Court. I know not what business they transacted, but the
fact has a certain interest for me because it was my privilege, about
four-and-twenty years ago, to converse with one of the nobles who had
formed part of that embassy, and who, after a quarter of a century,
was going again on another mission to the Court of St. James. He was,
when I saw him, an elderly man, dark of skin, but, being a Hova, most
intelligent and well-informed; also, being a Hova, anxious to say
the thing which would please his hearers. He recalled many incidents
connected with the long journey round the Cape in a sailing vessel, the
crowds and noise of London, the venerable appearance of King William,
and his general kindness to the ambassadors. When he had told us all
he could recollect, he asked us if we should like to hear him sing the
song which had beguiled many weary hours of his voyage. We begged him
to sing it, expecting to hear something national and fresh, something
redolent of the Madagascar soil, a song sung in the streets of its
capital, Antananarivo, perhaps with a breakdown or a walk round. Alas!
he neither danced a breakdown, nor did he walk round, nor did he sing
us a national song at all. He only piped, in a thin sweet tenor, and
very correctly, that familiar hymn ‘Rock of Ages,’ to the familiar
tune. I have never been able to believe that this nobleman, His
Excellency the Right Honourable the Lord Rainiferingalarovo, Knight of
the Fifteen Honour, entitled to wear a _lamba_ as highly striped as
they are made, commonly reported to be a pagan, with several wives,
really comforted his soul, while at sea, with this hymn. But he was
with Christians, and this was a missionary’s hymn which he had often
heard, and it would doubtless please us to hear it sung. Thereupon he
sang it, and a dead silence fell upon us. Behold however, the reason
why the record of this simple event, the arrival of the embassy from
Madagascar, strikes a chord in the mind of one at least who reads it.
There is little else to chronicle in the year. The University of Durham
was founded: a truly brilliant success have they made of this learned
foundation! And Sir Robert Peel was Rector of Glasgow University. For
the rest, boilers burst, coaches were upset, and many books of
immense genius were produced, which now repose in the Museum.

[Illustration: SIR ROBERT PEEL]

Yet a year which marked the close of one period and the commencement
of another. The steamship ‘Atalanta’ carrying the bags to Suez--what
does this mean? The massacre in New Zealand of the only white men on
the island--what does this portend? The fatal duel at Hampstead; the
noble lord convicted of cheating at cards; the emigrant ship ninety
days out with no food for the passengers--what are these things but
illustrations of a time that has now passed away, the passage from
the eighteenth to the nineteenth century? For there are no longer any
duels; noble lords no longer gamble, unless they are very young and
foolish; ships no longer take passengers without food for them; we have
lessened the distance to India by three-fourths, measured by time; and
the Maoris will rise no more, for their land is filled with the white
men.

In that year, also, there were certain ceremonies observed which have
now partly fallen into disuse.

[Illustration: THE CHIMNEY-SWEEPS’ ANNUAL HOLIDAY.]

For instance, on Twelfth Day it was the custom for confectioners to
make in their windows a brave show of Twelfth-cakes; it was also
the custom of the public to flatten their noses against the windows
and to gaze upon the treasures displayed to view. It was, further,
the custom--one of the good old annual customs, like beating the
bounds--for the boys to pin together those who were thus engaged by
their coat-tails, shawls, skirts, sleeves, the ends of comforters,
wrappers, and boas, and other outlying portions of raiment. When
they discovered the trick--of course they only made pretence at
being unconscious--by the rending, tearing, and destruction of their
garments, they never failed to fall into ecstasies of (pretended)
wrath, to the joy of the children, who next year repeated the trick
with the same success. I think there are no longer any Twelfth-cakes,
and I am sure that the boys have forgotten that trick.

[Illustration: A PARISH BEADLE

(From a Drawing by George Cruikshank in ‘London Characters’)]

On Twelfth Day the Bishop of London made an offering in the Chapel
Royal of St. James’s in commemoration of the Wise Men from the East. Is
that offering made still? and, if so, what does his lordship offer? and
with what prayers, or hopes, or expectations, is that offering made?

[Illustration: BEATING THE BOUNDS.]

At the commencement of Hilary Term the judges took breakfast with the
Lord Chancellor, and afterwards drove in state to Westminster.

On January 30, King Charles’s Day, the Lords went in procession to
Westminster Abbey and the Commons to St. Margaret’s, both Houses to
hear the Service of Commemoration. Where is that service now?

On Easter Sunday the Royal Family attended Divine Service at St.
James’s, and received the Sacrament.

On Easter Monday the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, and Aldermen went in state
to Christ Church, formerly the Church of the Grey Friars, and heard
service. In the evening there was a great banquet, with a ball. A
fatiguing day for my Lord Mayor.

Easter Monday was also the day of the Epping Hunt. Greenwich Fair
was held on that and the two following days. And in Easter week the
theatres played pieces for children.

[Illustration: EVENING IN SMITHFIELD

(From a Drawing made in 1858, at the gateway leading into Cloth Fair,
the place of proclamation of Bartholomew Fair)]

On the first Sunday in Easter the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs went in state
to St. Paul’s, and had a banquet afterwards.

On May Day the chimney-sweeps had their annual holiday.

On Ascension Day they made a procession of parish functionaries and
parochial schools, and beat the bounds, and, to mark them well in the
memory of all, they beat the charity children who attended the beadle,
and they beat all the boys they caught on the way, and they banged
against the boundaries all the strangers who passed within their
reach. When it came to banging the strangers, they had a high old time.

On the Queen’s Birthday there was a splendid procession of stage
coaches from Piccadilly to the Post Office.

[Illustration: BARTHOLOMEW FAIR.]

Lastly, on September 3, Bartholomew Fair was opened by the Lord
Mayor, and then followed what our modern papers are wont to call a
carnival, but what the papers of 1837 called, without any regard to
picturesque writing, a scene of unbridled profligacy, licentiousness,
and drunkenness, with fighting, both of fists and cudgels,
pumping on pickpockets, robbery and cheating, noise and shouting,
the braying of trumpets and the banging of drums. If you want to
know what this ancient fair was like, go visit the Agricultural Hall
at Christmas. They have the foolish din and noise of it, and if the
people were drunk, and there were no police, and everybody was ready
and most anxious to fight, and the pickpockets, thieves, bullies, and
blackguards were doing what they pleased, you would have Bartholomew
Fair complete.



CHAPTER III.

LONDON IN 1837.


The extent of London in 1837, that is to say, of close and continuous
London, may be easily understood by drawing on the map a red line
a little above the south side of Regent’s Park. This line must be
prolonged west until it strikes the Edgware Road, and eastward until
it strikes the Regent’s Canal, after which it follows the Canal until
it falls into the Regent’s Canal Docks. This is, roughly speaking, the
boundary of the great city on the north and east. Its western boundary
is the lower end of the Edgware Road, Park Lane, and a line drawn from
Hyde Park Corner to Westminster Bridge. The river is its southern
boundary, but if you wish to include the Borough, there will be a
narrow fringe on the south side. This was the whole of London proper,
that is to say, not the City of London, or London with her suburbs,
but continuous London. If you look at Mr. Loftie’s excellent map of
London,[1] showing the extent built upon at different periods, you will
find a greater area than this ascribed to London at this period. That
is because Mr. Loftie has chosen to include many parts which at this
time were suburbs of one street, straggling houses, with fields,
nurseries, and market-gardens. Thus Kennington, Brixton, and Camberwell
are included. But these suburban places were not in any sense part
of continuous London. Open fields and gardens were lying behind the
roads; at the north end of Kennington Common--then a dreary expanse
uncared for and down-trodden--lay open ponds and fields; there were
fields between Vauxhall Gardens and the Oval. If we look at the north
of London, there were no houses round Primrose Hill; fields stretched
north and east; to the west one or two roads were already pushing out,
such as the Abbey Road and Avenue Road; through the pleasant fields
of Kilburn, where still stood the picturesque fragments of Kilburn
Priory, the Bayswater rivulet ran pleasantly; it was joined by two
other brooks, one rising in St. John’s Wood, and flowing through what
are now called Craven Gardens into the Serpentine. On Haverstock Hill
were a few villas; Chalk Farm still had its farm buildings; Belsize
House, with its park and lake, was the nearest house to Primrose Hill.
A few houses showed the site of Kentish Town, while Camden Town was
then a village, clustered about its High Street in the Hampstead Road.
Even the York and Albany Tavern looked out back and front on fields;
Mornington Crescent gazed across its garden upon open fields and
farms; the great burial-ground of St. James’s Church had fields at
the back; behind St. Pancras’ Churchyard stretched ‘Mr. Agar’s Farm;’
Islington was little more than a single street, with houses on either
side; Bagnigge Wells--it stood at the north-east of St. Andrew’s
Burying-ground in Gray’s Inn Road--was still in full swing; Hoxton
had some of its old houses still standing, with the Haberdashers’
Almshouses; the rest was laid out in nurseries and gardens. King’s
Cross was Battle Bridge; and Pentonville was only in its infancy.

    [1] Loftie’s _History of London_. Stanford, 1884.

[Illustration: VAUXHALL GARDENS.]

Looking at this comparatively narrow area, consider the enormous growth
of fifty years. What was Bow? A little village. What was Stratford, now
a town of 70,000 people? There was no Stratford. Bromley was a waste;
Dalston, Clapham, Hackney, Tottenham, Canonbury, Barnsbury--these were
mere villages; now they are great and populous towns. But perhaps the
change is more remarkable still when one considers the West End. All
that great cantlet lying between Marylebone Road and Oxford Street
was then much in the same state as now, though with some difference
in detail; thus, one is surprised to find that the south of Blandford
Square was occupied by a great nursery. But west of Edgware Road there
was next to nothing. Connaught Square was already built, and the ground
between the Grand Junction Road and the Bayswater Road was just laid
out for building; but the great burying-ground of St. George’s, now
hidden from view and built round, was in fields. The whole length of
the Bayswater Road ran along market-gardens; a few houses stood in
St. Petersburg Place; Westbourne Green had hardly a cottage on it;
Westbourne Park was a green enclosure; there were no houses on Notting
Hill; Campden Hill had only one or two great houses, and a field-path
led pleasantly from Westbourne Green to the Kensington Gravel Pits.

[Illustration: FIREMAN]

On the west and south-west the Neat Houses, with their gardens,
occupied the ground west of Vauxhall Bridge. Earl’s Court, with its
great gardens and mound, stood in the centre of the now crowded and
dreary suburb; south of the Park stood many great houses, such as
Rutland House, now destroyed and replaced by terraces and squares. But
though London was then so small compared with its present extent, it
was already a most creditable city. Those who want more figures will
be pleased to read that at the census of 1831 London contained 14,000
acres, or nearly twenty-two square miles. This area was divided into
153 parishes, containing 10,000 streets and courts and 250,000 houses.
Its population was 1,646,288. Fifty years before it was half that
number, fifty years later it was double that number. We may take the
population of the year 1837 as two millions.

[Illustration: HACKNEY COACHMAN

(From a Drawing by George Cruikshank in ‘London Characters’)]

More figures. There were 90,000 passengers across London Bridge
every day, there were 1,200 cabriolets, 600 hackney coaches, and 400
omnibuses; there were 30,000 deaths annually. The visitors every year
were estimated at 12,000. Among the residents were 130,000 Scotchmen,
200,000 Irish, and 30,000 French. These figures convey to my own mind
very little meaning, but they look big, and so I have put them down.
Speaking roughly, London fifty years ago was twice as big as Paris is
now, or the present New York.

[Illustration: THE FIRST LONDON EXCHANGE]

As for the buildings of London proper, fifty years have witnessed
many changes, and have brought many losses--more losses, perhaps,
than gains. The Royal Exchange, built by Edward Jerman in place of
Sir Thomas Gresham’s of 1570, was burnt to the ground on January 10,
1838. The present building, designed by Sir William Tite, was opened
by the Queen in person on October 28, 1844. Jerman’s Exchange was a
quadrangular building, with a clock-tower of timber on the Cornhill
side. It had an inner cloister and a ‘pawn,’ or gallery, above for
the sale of fancy goods. It was decorated by a series of statues of
the Kings, from Edward I. to George IV. Sion College, which until the
other day stood in the street called London Wall, was not yet wantonly
and wickedly destroyed by those who should have been its natural and
official protectors, the London clergy.

[Illustration: THE SECOND LONDON EXCHANGE]

[Illustration: THE PRESENT ROYAL EXCHANGE (THIRD LONDON EXCHANGE)]

Things happen so quickly that one easily forgets; yet let me pay a
farewell tribute and drop a tear to the memory of the most delightful
spot in the whole of London. The building was not of extreme age, but
it stood upon the ancient site of Elsinge Spital, which itself stood
upon the site of the old Cripplegate Nunnery; it was founded in 1623 by
the will of one Dr. Thomas White, Vicar of St. Dunstan’s-in-the-West;
the place was damaged by the Great Fire, and little of the building was
older, I believe, than 1690, or thereabouts. But one stepped out of
the noise and hurry of the very heart of London into a courtyard where
the air was instantly hushed; on the right hand were the houses of the
almsmen and women, though I believe they had of late ceased to occupy
them. Above the almshouses was the long narrow library crammed with
books, the sight and fragrance of which filled the grateful soul with
joy. On the left side of the court was the Hall used for meetings, and
open all day to the London clergy for reading the magazines, reviews,
and papers. A quiet, holy place. Fuller wrote his ‘Church History’ in
this college; the illustrious Psalmanazar wrote here his ‘Universal
History’--it was after he repented of his colossal lies, and had
begun to live cleanly. Two hundred and fifty years have witnessed a
long succession of London clergymen, learned and devout most of them,
reading in this library and meeting in this hall. Now it is pulled
down, and a huge warehouse occupies its place. The London clergy
themselves, for the sake of gain, have sold it. And, as for the garish
thing they have stuck up on the Embankment, they may call it what they
like, but it is not Sion College.

[Illustration: CHARING CROSS IN THE PRESENT DAY]

Another piece of wanton wickedness was the destruction of
Northumberland House. It is, of course, absurd to say that its removal
was required. The removal of a great historic house can never be
required. It was the last of the great houses, with the exception of
Somerset House, and that is nearly all modern, having been erected in
1776–1786 on the site of the old palace.

[Illustration: TEMPLE BAR]

The Strand, indeed, is very much altered since the year 1837. At the
west end the removal of Northumberland House has been followed by the
building of the Grand Hotel, and the opening of the Northumberland
Avenue: the Charing Cross Station and Hotel have been erected: two or
three new theatres have been added: Temple Bar has been taken down--in
any other country the old gate would have been simply left standing,
because it was an ancient historical monument; they would have spared
it and made a roadway on either side; the rookeries which formerly
stood on the north side close to the Bar have been swept away, and
the Law Courts stand in their place--where the rooks are gone it is
impossible to say. I myself dimly remember a labyrinth of lanes,
streets, and courts on this site. They were inhabited, I believe, by
low-class solicitors, money-lenders, racing and betting men, and by all
kinds of adventurers. Did not Mr. Altamont have chambers here, when
he visited Captain Costigan in Lyons Inn? Lyons Inn itself is pulled
down, and on its site is the Globe Theatre.

[Illustration: THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE]

As for churches, there has been such an enormous increase of churches
in the last fifty years, that it seems churlish to lament the loss
of half a dozen. But this half-dozen belongs to the City: they were
churches built, for the most part, by Wren, on the site of ancient
churches destroyed in the Fire; they were all hallowed by old and
sacred associations; many of them were interesting and curious for
their architecture: in a word, they ought not to have been pulled down
in order to raise hideous warehouses over their site. Greed of gain
prevailed; and they are gone. People found out that their number of
worshippers was small, and argued that there was no longer any use
for them. So they are gone, and can never be replaced. As for their
names, they were the churches of Allhallows, Broad Street; St. Benet’s,
Gracechurch Street; St. Dionis Backchurch; St. Michael’s, Queenhithe;
St. Antholin’s, Budge Row; St. Bene’t Fink; St. Mary Somerset; St.
Mary Magdalen; and St. Matthew, Friday Street. The church of St.
Michael, Crooked Lane, in which was the grave of Sir William Walworth,
disappeared in the year 1831; those of St. Bartholomew by Eastcheap,
and of St. Christopher-le-Stock, which stood on either side of the
Bank, were taken down in the years 1802 and 1781 respectively. The
site of these old churches is generally marked by a small enclosure,
grown over with thin grass, containing one, or at most two, tombs.
It is about the size of a dining-room table, and you may read of it
that the burying-ground of Saint So-and-so is still preserved. Indeed!
Were the City churchyards of such dimensions? The ‘preservation’ of
the burial-grounds is like the respect which used to be paid to the
First Day of the week in the early lustra of the Victorian Age by the
tobacconist. He kept one shutter up. So the desecrators of the City
churchyards, God’s acre, the holy ground filled with the bones of dead
citizens, measured off a square yard or two, kept one tomb, and built
their warehouses over all the rest.

[Illustration: LYONS INN IN 1804

(From an Engraving in Herbert’s ‘History of the Inns of Court’)]

All round London the roads were blocked everywhere by turnpikes. It
is difficult to understand the annoyance of being stopped continually
to show a pass or to pay the pike. Thus, there were two or three
turnpikes in what is now called the Euston Road, and was then the New
Road; one of them was close to Great Portland Street, another at Gower
Street. At Battle Bridge, which is now King’s Cross, there were two,
one on the east, and one on the west; there was a pike in St. John
Street, Clerkenwell. There were two in the City Road, and one in New
North Road, Hoxton; one at Shoreditch, one in Bethnal Green Road, one
in Commercial Road. No fewer than three in East India Dock Road, three
in the Old Kent Road, one in Bridge Street, Vauxhall; one in Great
Surrey Street, near the Obelisk; one at Kennington Church--what man
turned of forty cannot remember the scene at the turnpike on Derby
Day, when hundreds of carriages would be stopped while the pikeman was
fighting for his fee? There was a turnpike named after Tyburn, close to
Marble Arch; another at the beginning of Kensington Gardens; one at St.
James’s Church, Hampstead Road. Ingenious persons knew how to avoid the
pike by making a long _détour_.

[Illustration: KENNINGTON GATE DERBY DAY]

[Illustration: THE OLD ROMAN BATH IN THE STRAND]

The turnpike has gone, and the pikeman with his apron has gone--nearly
everybody’s apron has gone too--and the gates have been removed. That
is a clear gain. But there are also losses. What, for instance, has
become of all the baths? Surely we have not, as a nation, ceased to
desire cleanliness? Yet in reading the list of the London baths fifty
years ago one cannot choose but ask the question. St. Annice-le-Clair
used to be a medicinal spring, considered efficacious in rheumatic
cases. Who stopped that spring and built upon its site? The Peerless
Pool close beside it was the best swimming bath in all London. When
was that filled up and built over? Where are St. Chad’s Wells now?
Formerly they were in Gray’s Inn Road, near ‘Battle Bridge,’ which is
now King’s Cross, and their waters saved many an apothecary’s bill.
There were swimming baths in Shepherdess Walk, near the almshouses.
When were they destroyed? There was another in Cold Bath Fields; the
spring, a remarkably cold one, still runs into a bath of marble slabs,
represented to have been laid for Mistress Nell Gwynne in the days of
the Merry Monarch. Curiously, the list from which I am quoting does
not mention the most delightful bath of all--the old Roman Bath in
the Strand. I remember making the acquaintance of this bath long ago,
in the fifties, being then a student at King’s. The water is icy cold,
but fresh and bright, and always running. The place is never crowded;
hardly anybody seems to know that here, in the heart of London, is
a monument of Roman times, to visit which, if it were at Arles or
Avignon, people would go all the way from London. Some day, no doubt,
we shall hear that it has been sold and destroyed, like Sion College,
and the spring built over.



CHAPTER IV.

IN THE STREET.


Let us, friend Eighty-seven, take a walk down the Strand on this fine
April afternoon of Thirty-seven. First, however, you must alter your
dress a little. Put on this swallow-tail coat, with the high velvet
collar--it is more becoming than the sporting coat in green bulging
out over the hips; change your light tie and masher collar for this
beautiful satin stock and this double breastpin; put on a velvet
waistcoat and an under-waistcoat of cloth; thin Cossack trousers with
straps will complete your costume; turn your shirt cuffs back outside
the coat sleeve, carry your gloves in your hand, and take your cane.
You are now, dear Eighty-seven, transformed into the dandy of fifty
years ago, and will not excite any attention as we walk along the
street.

[Illustration: LONDON STREET CHARACTERS, 1827

(From a Drawing by John Leech)]

We will start from Charing Cross and will walk towards the City. You
cannot remember, Eighty-seven, the King’s Mews that stood here on the
site of Trafalgar Square. When it is completed, with the National
Gallery on the north side, the monument and statue of Nelson, the
fountains and statues that they talk about, there will be a very fine
square. And we have certainly got rid of a group of mean and squalid
streets to make room for the square. It is lucky that they have left
Northumberland House, the last of the great palaces that once lined the
Strand.

[Illustration: THE KING’S MEWS IN 1750

(From a Print by I. Maurer)]

The Strand looks very much as it will in your time, though the shop
fronts are not by any means so fine. There is no Charing Cross Station
or Northumberland Avenue; most of the shops have bow windows and there
is no plate-glass, but instead, small panes such as you will only see
here and there in your time. The people, however, have a surprisingly
different appearance. The ladies, because the east wind is cold, still
keep to their fur tippets, their thick shawls, and have their necks
wrapped round with boas, the ends of which hang down to their skirts, a
fashion revived by yourself; their bonnets are remarkable structures,
like an ornamental coal-scuttle of the Thirty-seven, not the
Eighty-seven, period, and some of them are of surprising dimensions,
and decorated with an amazing profusion of ribbons and artificial
flowers. Their sleeves are shaped like a leg of mutton; their shawls
are like a dining-room carpet of the time--not like your dining-room
carpet, Eighty-seven, but a carpet of flaunting colour, crimson and
scarlet which would give you a headache. But the curls of the younger
ladies are not without their charms, and their eyes are as bright as
those of their grandchildren, are they not?

Let us stand still awhile and watch the throng where the tide of life,
as Johnson said, is the fullest.

[Illustration: BARRACK AND OLD HOUSES ON THE SITE OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE

(From a Drawing made by F. W. Fairholt in 1826)]

Here comes, with a roll intended for a military swagger, the cheap
dandy. I know not what he is by trade; he is too old for a medical
student, not shabby enough for an attorney’s clerk, and not respectable
enough for a City clerk. Is it possible that he is a young gentleman
of very small fortune which he is running through? He wears a tall hat
broader at the top than at the bottom, he carries white thread gloves,
sports a cane, has his trousers tightly strapped, wears a tremendously
high stock, with a sham diamond pin, a coat with a velvet collar, and a
double-breasted waistcoat. His right hand is stuck--it is an aggressive
attitude--in his coat-tail pocket. The little old gentleman who follows
him, in black shorts and white silk stockings, will be gone before your
time; so will yonder still more ancient gentleman in powdered hair and
pigtail who walks slowly along. Pigtails in your time will be clean
forgotten as well as black silk shorts.

[Illustration: THE LAST CABRIOLET DRIVER

(From the Drawing by George Cruikshank in ‘Sketches by Boz’)]

Do you see that thin, spare gentleman in the cloak, riding slowly along
the street followed by a mounted servant? The people all take off their
hats respectfully to him, and country folk gaze upon him curiously.
That is the Duke. There is only one Duke to the ordinary Briton. It is
the Duke with the hook nose--the Iron Duke--the Duke of Wellington.

The new-fashioned cabriolet, with a seat at the side for the driver and
a high hood for the fare, is light and swift, but it is not beautiful
nor is it popular. The wheels are too high and the machine is too
narrow. It is always upsetting, and bringing its passengers to grief.

Here is one of the new police, with blue swallow-tail coat tightly
buttoned, and white trousers. They are reported to be mightily
unpopular with the light-fingered gentry, with whose pursuits they are
always interfering in a manner unknown to the ancient Charley.

Here comes a gentleman, darkly and mysteriously clad in a fur-lined
cloak, fastened at his neck by a brass buckle, and falling to his
feet, such a cloak as in your time will only be used to enwrap the
villains in a burlesque. But here no one takes any notice of it.
There goes a man who may have been an officer, an actor, a literary
man, a gambler--anything; whatever he was, he is now broken-down--his
face is pale, his gait is shuffling, his elbows are gone, his boots
are giving at the toes, and--see--the stout red-faced man with the
striped waistcoat and the bundle of seals hanging at his fob has tapped
him on the shoulder. That is a sheriff’s officer, and he will now
be conducted, after certain formalities, to the King’s Bench or the
Fleet, and in this happy retreat he will probably pass the remainder
of his days. Here comes a middle-aged gentleman who looks almost like
a coachman in his coat with many capes and his purple cheeks. That is
the famous coaching baronet, than whom no better whip has ever been
seen upon the road. Here come a pair of young bloods who scorn cloaks
and greatcoats. How bravely do they tread in their tight trousers,
bright-coloured waistcoats, and high satin stocks! with what a jaunty
air do they tilt their low-crowned hats over their long and waving
locks--you can smell the bear’s grease across the road! with what a
flourish do they bear their canes! Here comes swaggering along the
pavement a military gentleman in a coat much befrogged. He has the
appearance of one who knows Chalk Farm, which is situated among meadows
where the morning air has been known to prove suddenly fatal to many
gallant gentlemen. How he swings his shoulders and squares his elbows!
and how the peaceful passengers make room for him to pass! He is, no
doubt, an old Peninsular; there are still many like unto him; he is the
ruffling Captain known to Queen Elizabeth’s time; in the last century
he took the wall and shoved everybody into the gutter. Presently he
will turn into the Cigar Divan--he learned to smoke cigars in Spain--in
the rooms of what was once the Repository of Art; we breathe more
freely when he is gone.

Here comes a great hulking sailor; his face beams with honesty, he
rolls in his gait, he hitches up his wide trousers, he wears his shiny
hat at the back of his head; his hair hangs in ringlets; he chews a
quid; under his arm is a parcel tied in red bandanna. He looks as if
he were in some perplexity. Sighting one who appears to be a gentleman
recently from the country, he bears down upon him.

‘Noble captain,’ he whispers hoarsely, ‘if you like, here’s a chance
that doesn’t come every day. For why? I’ve got to go to sea again, and
though they’re smuggled--I smuggled them myself, your honour--and worth
their weight in gold, you shall have the box for thirty shillin’. Say
the word, my captain, and come round the corner with me.’

[Illustration: A GREENWICH PENSIONER

(From a Drawing by George Cruikshank in ‘London Characters’)]

Honest tar! Shall we meet him to-morrow with another parcel tied in the
same bandanna, his face screwed up with the same perplexity and anxiety
to get rid of his valuable burden? You yourself, Eighty-seven, will
have your confidence trick, your ring-dropper, your thimble-and-pea,
your fat partridge-seller, even though the bold smuggler be no more.

[Illustration: AN OMNIBUS UPSET

(From Cruikshank’s ‘Comic Almanack’)]

In the matter of street music we of Thirty-seven are perhaps in advance
of you of Eighty-seven. We have not, it is true, the pianoforte-organ,
but we have already the other two varieties--the Rumbling Droner and
the Light Tinkler. We have not yet the street nigger, or the banjo,
or the band of itinerant blacks, or Christy’s Minstrels. The negro
minstrel does not exist in any form. But the ingenious Mr. Rice is at
this very moment studying the plantation songs of South Carolina,
and we can already witness his humorous personation of ‘Jump, Jim
Crow,’ and his pathetic ballad of ‘Lucy Neal.’ (He made his first
appearance at the Adelphi as Jim Crow in 1836.) We have, like you, the
Christian family in reduced circumstances, creeping slowly, hand in
hand, along the streets, singing a hymn the while for the consolation
it affords. They have not yet invented Moody and Sankey, and therefore
they cannot sing ‘Hold the Fort’ or ‘Dare to be a Daniel,’ but there
are hymns in every collection which suit the Gridler. We have also the
ballad-singer, who warbles at the door of the gin-palace. His favourite
song just now is ‘All round my Hat.’ We have the lady (or gentleman)
who takes her (or his) place upon the kerb with a guitar, adorned
with red ribbon, and sings a sentimental song, such as ‘Speed on, my
Mules, for Leila waits for me,’ or ‘Gaily the Troubadour;’ there is the
street seller of ballads at a penny each, a taste of which he gives
the delighted listener; there are the horns of stage-coach and of
omnibus, blown with zeal; there is the bell of the crier, exercised as
religiously as that of the railway-porter; the Pandean pipes and the
drum walk, not only with Punch, but also with the dancing bear. The
performing dogs, the street acrobats, and the fantoccini; the noble
Highlander not only stands outside the tobacconist’s, taking a pinch of
snuff, but he also parades the street, blowing a most patriotic tune
upon his bagpipe; the butcher serenades his young mistress with the
cleaver and the bones; the Italian boy delights all the ears of those
who hear with his hurdy-gurdy.

[Illustration: EXETER CHANGE]

Here comes the Paddington omnibus, the first omnibus of all, started
seven years ago by Mr. Shillibeer, the father of all those which have
driven the short stages off the road, and now ply in every street. You
will not fail to observe that the knifeboard has not yet been invented.
There are twelve passengers inside and none out. The conductor is
already remarkable for his truthfulness, his honesty, and his readiness
to take up any lady and to deposit her within ten yards of wherever she
wishes to be. The fare is sixpence, and you must wait for ten years
before you get a twopenny ’bus.

[Illustration: THE PARISH ENGINE

(From a Drawing by George Cruikshank in ‘Sketches by Boz’)]

Now let us resume our walk. The Strand is very little altered, you
think. Already Exeter Change is gone; Exeter Hall is already built; the
shops are less splendid, and plate glass is as yet unknown; in Holywell
Street I can show you one or two of the old signs still on the house
walls; Butcher Row, behind St. Clement Danes, is pulled down and the
street widened; on the north side there is standing a nest of rookeries
and mean streets, where you will have your Law Courts; here is Temple
Bar, which you will miss; close to Temple Bar is the little fish shop
which once belonged to Mr. Crockford, the proprietor of the famous
club; the street messengers standing about in their white aprons will
be gone in your time; for that matter, so will the aprons; at present
every other man in the street wears an apron. It is a badge of his rank
and station; the apron marks the mechanic or the serving-man; some
wear white aprons and some wear leather aprons; I am afraid you will
miss the apron.

[Illustration: IN FLEET STREET--PROCLAIMING THE QUEEN.]

Fleet Street is much more picturesque than the Strand, is it not?
Even in your day, Eighty-seven, when so many old houses will have
perished, Fleet Street will still be the most picturesque street in all
London. The true time to visit it is at four o’clock on a summer
morning, when the sun has just risen on the sleeping city. Look at the
gables of it, the projecting stories of it, the old timber work of it,
the glory and the beauty of it. As you see Fleet Street, so Dr. Johnson
saw it.

[Illustration: CROCKFORD’S FISH SHOP

(From a Drawing by F. W. Fairholt)]

There is a good deal more crowd and animation in Fleet Street than in
the Strand. That is because we are nearer the City, of course; the
traffic is greater; the noise is much greater. As for this ring before
us, let us avoid it. A coachman fighting a ticket-porter is a daily
spectacle in this thoroughfare; those who crowd round often get bloody
noses for their pains, and still more often come away without their
purses. Look! The pickpockets are at their work almost openly. They
have caught one. Well, my friend, our long silk purses--yours will be
square leather things--are very easily stolen. I do not think it will
repay you for the loss of yours to see a poor devil of a pickpocket
pumped upon.

You are looking again at the plain windows with the small square panes.
The shops make no display as yet, you see. First, it would not be safe
to put valuable articles in windows protected by nothing but a little
thin pane of glass--which reminds me that in the matter of street
safety you will be a good deal ahead of us; next, an honest English
tradesman loves to keep his best out of sight. The streets are horribly
noisy. That is quite true. You have heard of the roar of the mighty
city. Your London, Eighty-seven, will not know how to roar. But you can
now understand what its roaring used to be. An intolerable stir and
uproar, is it not? But then your ears are not, like ours, used to it.
First, the road is not macadamised, or asphalted, or paved with wood.
Next, the traffic of wagons, carts, and wheelbarrows, and hand-carts,
is vastly greater than you had ever previously imagined; then there is
a great deal more of porter work done in the street, and the men are
perpetually jostling, quarrelling, and fighting; the coaches, those of
the short stages with two horses, and the long stages with four, are
always blowing their horns and cracking their whips. Look at yonder
great wagon. It has come all the way from Scotland. It is piled thirty
feet high with packages of all kinds: baskets hang behind, filled with
all kinds of things. In front there sit a couple of Scotch lasses who
have braved a three weeks’ journey from Edinburgh in order to save the
expense of the coach. Brave girls! But such a wagon with such a load
does not go along the street in silence. It is not in silence either
that the women who carry baskets full of fish on their heads go along
the street, nor is the man silent who goes with a pack-donkey loaded on
either side with small coal; and the wooden sledge on which is the cask
of beer, dragged along by a single horse, makes by itself as much noise
as all your carriages together, Eighty-seven.

And there is nothing, you observe, for the protection and convenience
of passengers who wish to cross the road. Nothing at all. No policeman
stands in the middle of the road to regulate the traffic; the drivers
pay no heed to the foot passengers; at the corner of Chancery Lane,
where the press is the thickest, the boys and the clerks slip in
and out among the horses and the wheels without hurt: but how will
those ladies be able to get across? They never would but for the
crossing-sweeper--the most remunerative part of the work, in fact, is
to convoy the ladies across the road; if he magnifies the danger of
this service, and expects silver for saving the lives of his trembling
clients, who shall blame him?

There are still left some of the old posts which divided the
footway from the roadway, though the whole is now paved and--what,
Eighty-seven? You have stepped into a dandy-trap and splashed your
feet. Well, perhaps, in your day they will have learned to pave more
evenly, but just at present our paving is a little rough, and the
stones sometimes small, so that here and there, after rain, these
things will happen.

[Illustration: THOMAS CHATTERTON]

Here we are at Blackfriars. This is the Gate of Bridewell, where they
used to flog women, and still flog the ’prentices. Yonder is the
Fleet Prison, of which we have just read an account in the ‘Pickwick
Papers.’ They have cleared away the old Fleet Market, which used to
stand in the middle of the street, and they have planted it behind the
houses opposite the Prison. Come and look at it. Let us tread softly
over the stones of Farringdon Market, for somewhere beneath our feet
lie the bones of poor young Chatterton. No monument has been erected
here to his memory, nor is the spot known where he lies, but it is
somewhere in this place, which is a tragic and mournful spot, being
crammed beneath its pavement with the bones of the poor, the outcast,
the broken down, the wrecks and failures of life, and littered above
the pavement with the wreckage and refuse of the market. This place was
formerly the burial-ground of the Shoe Lane Workhouse.

We can walk down to the Bridge and look at the river. No Embankment
yet, Eighty-seven. No penny steamers, either. Yet the watermen grumble
at the omnibuses which have cut into their trade.

Here comes the lamplighter, with his short ladder and his lantern.

Gas, of course, has been introduced for ever so long. They have
blindly followed the old plan of lighting, and have stuck up a gas
lamp wherever there used to be an oil lantern. The theatres and places
of amusement are brilliant with gas, and it is gas which makes the
splendour of the gin-palace. The shops took to it slowly, but they are
now beginning to understand how to brighten their appearance after
dark. Go into any little thoroughfare, however, and you will see the
shops lit with two or three candles still.

In the small houses and the country towns the candles linger still.
And such candles! For the most part they are tallow: they need
constant snuffing: they drop their detestable grease everywhere--on
the tablecloth, on your clothes, on the butter and on the bread. You,
Eighty-seven, will be saying hard things of gas, but you do not know
from what darkness, and misery of darkness, it saved your ancestors.

As for the churches, they are not yet generally provided with gas.
There is some strange prejudice against it in the minds of the clergy.
Yet it is not Papistical, or even freethinking. In most of them, where
they have evening service, the pews are provided with two candles
apiece, stuck in tin candlesticks, with four candles for the pulpit
and four for the reading-desk. The effect is not unpleasing, but the
candles continually require snuffing, and the operation is constantly
attended with accidents, so that the church is always filled with the
fragrance of smouldering tallow wicks. The repugnance to gas is so
great, indeed, in some quarters, that one clergyman, the Rector of
Holy Trinity, Marylebone, is going to commit all his vestrymen to the
Ecclesiastical Courts because they have attempted to light the church
with gas.

Here is a City funeral in one of the burial-grounds close to the
crowded street; the clergyman reads the Service, and the mourners in
their long black cloaks stand round the open grave, and the coffin
is lowered into it, and outside there is no cessation at all to the
bustle and the noise; the wagoner cracks his whip, the drover swears at
his cattle, the busy men run to and fro as if the last rites were not
being performed for one who has heard the call of the Messenger, and,
perforce, obeyed it. And look--the mould in which the grave is dug is
nothing but bits of bones and splinters of coffins. The churchyard is
no longer a field of clay: it is a field of dead citizens. You, friend
Eighty-seven, will manage these things better.

Here goes one of the long stages. Saw you ever a finer coach, more
splendidly appointed, with better cattle? Ten miles an hour that
coachman reckons upon as soon as he is clear of London. They say that
in a year or two, when all the railways are opened, the stage coaches
will be ruined, the horses all sold, and the English breed of horses
ruined. We shall travel twenty miles an hour without stopping to change
horses; the accidents will be frightful, but those who meet with none
will get from London to Edinburgh in less than twenty-four hours. Next
year they promise to open the London and Birmingham Railway.

[Illustration: 3rd REGIMENT OF BUFFS]

Here comes a soldier. You find his dress absurd? To be sure, his tight
black stock makes his red cheeks seem swollen; his queer tall hat,
with the neat red ball at the top, might be more artistic; the red
shoulder roll, not the least like an epaulette, would hardly ward off
a sword-cut; the coat with its swallow tail is no protection to the
body or the legs; the whitened belt must cost an infinite amount of
trouble to keep it fit for inspection, and a working-man’s breeches and
stockings would be more serviceable than those long trousers. There are
always brave fellows, however, ready to enlist; the soldier’s life is
attractive, though the discipline is hard and the floggings are truly
awful.

[Illustration: DOUGLAS JERROLD

(From the Bust by the late E. H. Bailey, R.A.)]

My friend, it is half-past five, and you are tired. Let us get back to
Temple Bar and dine at the Mitre, where we can take our cut off the
joint for eighteen-pence. About this time most men are thinking of
dinner. Buy an evening paper of the boy.

[Illustration: Leigh Hunt.

-LEIGH HUNT-]

So: this is cosy. A newly sanded floor, a bright fire, and a goodly
company. James! a clean tablecloth, a couple of candles, and the
snuffers, and the last joint up. What have you got in the paper?
Madagascar Embassy, Massacre in New Zealand--where the devil is
New Zealand?--Suicide of Champion, who made the infernal machine,
Great Distress in the Highlands, Murder of a Process-server in
Ireland, Crossing of the Channel in a Balloon--I hope that some day
an army may not cross it--Letter from Syria, concerning the recent
Great Earthquake, Conduct of the British Legion in Spain, Seven Men
imprisoned for unlawfully ringing the Bells, Death of the Oldest Woman
in the World, aged 162 years, said to have been the Nurse of George
Washington--a good deal of news all for one evening paper. Hush! we
are in luck. Here is Douglas Jerrold. Now we shall hear something
good. Here is Leigh Hunt, and here is Forster, and here--ah! this is
unexpected--here comes none other than ‘Boz’ himself. Of course you
know his name? It is Charles Dickens. Saw one ever a brighter eye or
a more self-reliant bearing? Such self-reliance belongs to those who
are about to succeed. They say his fortune is already made, though but
yesterday he was a reporter in the House, taking down the speeches
in shorthand. Who is that tall young man with the ugly nose? Only
a journalist. They say he wrote that funny paper called ‘The Fatal
Boots’ in _Tilt’s Annual_. His name is Thackeray, I believe, but I know
nothing more about him.

[Illustration: JOHN FORSTER

(From a Photograph by Elliott and Fry)]

Here comes dinner, with a tankard of foaming stout. Is there any other
drink quite so good as stout? After you have taken your dinner, friend
Eighty-seven, I shall prescribe for you what you will never get, poor
wretch--a bottle of the best port in the cellars of the Mitre.

[Illustration: CHARLES DICKENS]

My friend, there is one thing in which we of the Thirties do greatly
excel you of the Eighties. We can eat like ploughboys, and we can drink
like draymen. As for your nonsense about Apollinaris Water, we do not
know what it means; and as for your not being able to take a simple
glass of port, we do not in the least understand it. Not take a pint of
port? Man alive! we can take two bottles, and never turn a hair.



CHAPTER V.

WITH THE PEOPLE.


When the real history of the people comes to be written--which
will be the History, not of the Higher, but of the Lower Forms of
Civilisation--it will be found that, as regards the people of these
islands, they sank to their lowest point of degradation and corruption
in the middle of the eighteenth century--a period when they had no
religion, no morality, no education, and no knowledge, and when they
were devoured by two dreadful diseases, and were prematurely killed
by their excessive drinking of gin. No virtue at all seems to have
survived among all the many virtues attributed to our race except
a bulldog courage and tenacity. There are glimpses here and there,
when some essayist or novelist lifts the veil, which show conditions
of existence so shocking that one asks in amazement how there could
have been any cheerfulness in the civilised part of the community for
thinking of the terrible creatures in the ranks below. They did not
think of them; they did not know of them; to us it seems as if the
roaring of that volcano must have been always in their ears, and the
smoke of it always choking their throats. But our people saw and heard
nothing. Across the Channel, where men’s eyes were quicker to see, the
danger was clearly discerned, and the eruption foretold. Here, no one
saw anything, or feared anything.

How this country got through without a revolution, how it escaped
the dangers of that mob, are questions more difficult to answer than
the one which continually occupies historians--How Great Britain,
single-handed, fought against the conqueror of the world. Both
victories were mainly achieved, I believe, by the might and majesty of
Father Stick.

He is dead now, and will rule no more in this country. But all through
the last century, and well into this, he was more than a king--he was
a despot, relentless, terrible. He stripped women to the waist and
whipped them at Bridewell; he caught the ’prentices and flogged them
soundly; he lashed the criminal at the cart-tail; he lashed the slaves
in the plantations, the soldiers in the army, the sailors on board the
ships, and the boys at school. He kept everybody in order, and, truly,
if the old violence were to return, we might have to call in Father
Stick again.

He was good up to a certain point, beyond which he could not go. He
could threaten, ‘If you do this, and this, you shall be trounced.’
Thus the way of transgressors was made visibly hard for them. But he
could not educate--he taught nothing except obedience to the law; he
had neither religion nor morals; therefore, though he kept the people
in order, he did not advance them. On the other hand, under his rule
they were left entirely to themselves, and so they grew worse and
worse, more thirsty of gin, more brutal, more ignorant. So that, in
the long run, I suppose there was not under the light of the sun a
more depraved and degraded race than that which peopled the lowest
levels of our great towns. There is always in every great town a big
lump of lawlessness, idleness, and hostility to order. The danger, a
hundred years ago, was that this lump was getting every day bigger, and
threatening to include the whole of the working class.

Remember that as yet the government of this realm was wholly in the
hands of the wealthier sort. Only those who had what was humorously
called a stake in the country were allowed to share in ruling it.
Those who brought to the service of their native land only their hands
and their lives, their courage, their patience, skill, endurance, and
obedience, were supposed to have no stake in the country. The workers,
who contribute the whole that makes the prosperity of the country, were
then excluded from any share in managing it.

It seems to me that the first improvement of the People dates from
their perception of the fact that all have a right to help in managing
their own affairs; I think one might prove that the ideas of the French
Revolution, when they were once grasped, arrested the downward course
of the People--the first step to dignity and self-respect was to
understand that they might become free men, and not remain like unto
slaves who are ordered and have to obey. Then they began to struggle
for their rights, and in the struggle learned a thousand lessons
which have stood them in good stead. They learned to combine, to act
together, to form committees and councils; they learned the art of
oratory, and the arts of persuasion by speech and pen; they learned
the power of knowledge--in a word, the long struggle whose first
great victory was the Reform Act of 1832 taught the People the art of
self-government.

Fifty years ago, though that Act had been passed, the great mass of the
people were still outside the government. They were governed by a class
who desired, on the whole, to be just, and wished well to the people,
provided their own interests were not disturbed, as when the most
philanthropic manufacturers loudly cried out as soon as it was proposed
to restrict the hours of labour. It is not wonderful, therefore, that
the working classes should at that time regard all governments with
hostility, and Religion and Laws as chiefly intended to repress the
workers and to safeguard the interests of landlords and capitalists.
This fact is abundantly clear from the literature which the working men
of 1837 delighted to read.

As regards their religion, there was already an immense advance in the
spread of the Nonconformist sects and the multiplication of chapels. As
for the churches, I am very certain that the working man does not go
much to church even yet, but fifty years ago he attended service still
less often. A contemporary who pretends to know asserts that nine out
of ten among the working men were professed infidels, whose favourite
reading was Paine, Carlile, and Robert Taylor, the author of ‘The
Devil’s Chaplain.’ Further, he declares that not one working man in a
hundred ever opened a Bible.

I refrain from dwelling upon this state of things as compared with that
of the present, but it appears from a census taken by a recent weekly
newspaper (which, however, omitted the mission churches and services
in school-rooms and other places) that about one person in nine now
attends church or chapel on a Sunday.

As regards drink, a question almost as delicate as that of religion,
it is reported that in London alone three millions of pounds were
spent every year in gin, which seems a good deal of money to throw
away with nothing to show for it. But figures are always misleading.
Thus, if everybody drank his fair share of this three millions, there
would be only a single glass of gin every other day for every person;
and if half the people did not drink at all, there would be only one
glass of gin a day for those who did. Still, we must admit that three
millions is a sum which shows a widespread love of gin. As for rum,
brandy, and Hollands, the various forms of malt liquor, fancy drinks,
and compounds, let us reserve ourselves for the chapter on Taverns.
Suffice it here to call attention to the fact that there was no blue
ribbon worn. Teetotallers there were, it is true, but in very small
numbers; they were not yet a power in the land; there was none of the
everlasting dinning about the plague spot, the national vice, and the
curse of the age, to which we are now accustomed. Honest men indulged
in a bout without subsequent remorse, and so long as the drink was
unadulterated they did themselves little harm. Without doubt, if the
men had become teetotallers, there would have been very much more to
spend in the homes, and the employers would, also without doubt, have
made every effort to reduce the wages accordingly, so as to keep up the
old poverty. That is what the former school of philosophers called a
Law of Political Economy. The wages of a skilled mechanic fifty years
ago seem to have never risen above thirty shillings a week, while food,
clothes, and necessaries were certainly much dearer than at present. He
had savings banks, and he sometimes put something by, but not nearly so
much as he can do now if he is thrifty and in regular work. It is quite
clear that he was less thrifty in those days than now, that he drank
more, and that he was even more reckless, if that is possible, about
marriage and the multiplication of children.

As for the material condition of the people, there cannot be a doubt
that it has been amazingly improved within the last fifty years. It
is not true, as stated in a very well known work, that the poor have
become poorer, though the rich have certainly become richer. The
skilled working man is better paid now than then, his work is more
steady, his hours are shorter. He is better clad, with always a suit
of clothes apart from his working dress; he is better taught; he
is better mannered; he has holidays; he has clubs; he is no longer
forbidden to combine; he can co-operate; he holds meetings; he has much
better newspapers to read; his food is better and cheaper; he has model
lodging houses. Not only is he actually better; he is relatively better
compared with the richer classes, while for the last ten years these
have been growing poorer every day, although still much richer than
they were fifty years ago. Moreover, it is becoming more difficult in
every line, owing to the upward pressure of labour, to become rich.

His amusements no longer have the same brutality which used to
characterise them. The Ring was his chief delight, and a well-fought
battle between two accomplished bruisers caused his heart to leap
with joy. Unhappily the Ring fell, not because the national sentiment
concerning pugilism changed, but by its own vices, and because nearly
every fight was a fight on the cross; so that betting on your man
was no longer possible, and every victory was arranged beforehand.
There are now signs of its revival, and if it can be in any way
regulated it will be a very good thing for the country. Then there
was dog-fighting, which is still carried on in certain parts of the
country. Only a few years ago I saw a dozen dog-fights, each with its
ring of eager lookers-on, one Sunday morning upon the sands between
Redcar and Saltburn. All round London, again, there were ponds,
quantities of ponds, all marked in the maps of the period and now
all filled up and built over. Some, for instance, were in the fields
on the east side of Tottenham Court Road. Hither, on Sundays, came
the London working man with ducks, cats, and dogs, and proceeded to
enjoy himself with cat-hunts and duck-hunts in these ponds. There were
also bull-and-bear-baitings and badger-drawings. As for the fairs,
Bartholomew and Greenwich, one is sorry that they had to be abolished,
but I suppose that London had long been too big for a fair, which may
be crowded but must not be mobbed. A real old fair, with rows of stalls
crammed with all kinds of things which looked ever so much prettier
under the flaring lamps than in the shops, with Richardson’s Theatre,
the Wild Beast Show, the wrestlers and the cudgel-players, the boxers,
with or without the gloves, the dwarfs, giants, fat women, bearded
women, and monsters, was a truly delightful thing to the rustics in the
country; but in London it was incongruous, and even in Arcadia a modern
fair is apt to lose its picturesque aspect towards nightfall. On the
whole, it is just as well for London that it has lost its ancient fairs.

It is not in connection with working men, but with the whole people,
that one speaks of prisons. I do not think that our prison system at
the present day is every thing that it might be. There have been one
or two books published of late years, which make one uncomfortable
in thinking of the poor wretches immured in these abodes of solitary
suffering. Still, if one has to choose between a lonely cell and the
society of the prison birds by day and night, one would prefer the
former. Some attempts had been made in Newgate and elsewhere to prevent
the prisoners from corrupting each other, but with small success. Those
who were tried and sentenced were separated from those who were waiting
their trial; the boys were separated from the men, the girls from
the women. Yet the results of being committed to prison, for however
short a period, were destructive of all morals and the last shred of
principle. Not a single girl or woman who went into prison modest and
virtuous but became straightway ashamed of her modesty and virtue, and
came out of the prison already an abandoned woman. Not a man or boy
who associated with the prisoners for a week but became a past master
in all kinds of wickedness. In the night rooms they used to lock up
fifteen or twenty prisoners together, and leave them there all night
to interchange their experiences--and what experiences! Only those who
were under sentence of death had separate cells. These poor wretches
were put into narrow and dark rooms, receiving light only from the
court in which the criminals are permitted to walk during the day. They
slept on a mat, and in former days had but twenty-four hours between
sentence and execution, with bread and water for all their food.

Transportation still went on, with the horrors of the convict ship,
the convict hulks, and the convict establishments of New South Wales
and Tasmania. The ‘horrors’ of the system have always seemed to me
as forming an unessential part of the system. With better management
on modern ideas, transportation should be far better than the present
system of hopeless punishment by long periods of imprisonment. We can
never return to transportation as far as any colony is concerned, but I
venture to prophesy that the next change of the penal laws will be the
re-establishment of transportation with the prospect of release, a gift
of land, and a better chance for an honest life.

Meantime the following lines belong to Fifty Years Ago. They are the
Farewell of convicts about to sail for Botany Bay:

[Illustration: _THE DARBY DAY._]

    Come, Bet, my pet, and Sal, my pal, a buss, and then farewell--
    And Ned, the primest ruffling cove that ever nail’d a swell--
    To share the swag, or chaff the gab, we’ll never meet again,
    The hulks is now my bowsing crib, the hold my dossing ken.
    Don’t nab the bib, my Bet, this chance must happen soon or later,
    For certain sure it is that transportation comes by natur;
    His lordship’s self, upon the bench, so downie his white wig in,
    Might sail with me, if friends had he to bring him up to priggin;
    And is it not unkimmon fly in them as rules the nation,
    To make us end, with Botany, our public edication?
    But Sal, so kind, be sure you mind the beaks don’t catch you tripping,
    You’ll find it hard to be for shopping sent on board the shipping:
    So tip your mauns afore we parts, don’t blear your eyes and nose,
    Another grip, my jolly hearts--here’s luck, and off we goes!

Debtors’ prisons were in full swing. There were Whitecross Street
Prison, built in 1813 for the exclusive reception of debtors, who were
before this crowded together with criminals at Newgate; Queen’s Bench
Prison, the Fleet, and the Marshalsea. The King’s Bench Prison was the
largest, and, so to speak, the most fashionable of these prisons. Both
at the King’s Bench and the Fleet debtors were allowed to purchase what
were called the ‘Rules,’ which enabled them to live within a certain
area outside the prison, and practically left them free. They paid a
certain percentage on their debts. This practice enabled the debtor
to refuse paying his debts, and to save his money for himself or his
heirs. Lodgings, however, within the Rules were bad and expensive.

[Illustration: NEWGATE--ENTRANCE IN THE OLD BAILEY]

There was no national compulsory system of education; yet the children
of respectable working men were sent to school. The children of the
very poor, those who lived from hand to mouth by day jobs, by chance
and luck, were not taught anything. If you talk to a working man of
sixty or thereabouts, you will most likely discover that he can read,
though he has very often forgotten how to write. He was taught when
he was a child at the schools of the National Society, or at those of
the British and Foreign Society, or at the parish schools, of which
there were a great many. There were also many thousands of children who
went to the Sunday School. Yet, partly through the neglect of parents,
and partly through the demand for children’s labour in the factories,
nearly a half of the children in the country grew up without any
schooling. In 1837 there were forty per cent. of the men and sixty-five
per cent. of the women who could not sign their own names.

And there were already effected, or just about to be effected, three
immense reforms, the like of which the nation had never seen before,
which are together working for a Revolution of Peace, not of war,
greater than contemplated by the most sincere and most disinterested of
the French Revolutionaries.

The first was the Reform of the Penal Laws.

In the beginning of the century the law recognised 223 capital
offences. A man might be hanged for almost anything: if he appeared
in disguise on a public road; if he cut down young trees; if he shot
rabbits; if he poached at night; if he stole anything worth five
shillings from a person or a shop; if he came back from transportation
before his time; a gipsy, if he remained in the same place a year. In
fact, the chief desire of the Government was to get rid of the criminal
classes by hanging them. It was Sir Samuel Romilly, as everybody knows,
who first began to attack this bloodthirsty code. He was assisted
by the growth of public opinion and by the juries, who practically
repealed the laws by refusing to convict.

[Illustration: IN THE QUEEN’S BENCH]

It was not, again, until the year 1836 that counsel for a prisoner
under trial for felony was permitted to address the jury. In the year
1834, there were 480 death sentences; in 1838, only 116. In 1834, 894
persons were sentenced to transportation for life, and in 1838 only
266. Remember that this wicked severity only served to enlist the
sympathies of the people against the Government.

The second great step was the repeal of the Acts which forbade
combination. Until the year 1820, the people had been forbidden to
combine. Their only power against employers who worked them as many
hours a day as they dared, and paid them wages as small as they could,
who took their children and locked them up in unwholesome factories,
was in combination, and they were forbidden to combine. When the
law--an old mediæval law--was repealed, it was found that any attempt
to hold public meetings might be put down by force; so that, though
they could not combine, the chief means of promoting combination was
taken from them.

The third great step was the Extension of the Suffrage, so that now
there is no Briton or Irishman but can, if he please, have his vote
in the government of the nation. It is not a great share which is
conferred by one vote, but it enables every man to feel that he is
himself a part of the nation; that the government is not imposed upon
him, but elected and approved by himself.

Considering all these things, have we any reason to be surprised when
we learn that, on the Queen’s Accession, there was among the people no
loyalty whatever? Attachment to the Sovereign, personal devotion to the
young Queen, rallying round the Throne--all these things were not even
phrases to the working class. For they never heard them used.

_There was no loyalty at all, either to the Queen, or to the
institution of a limited Monarchy, or to the Constitution, or to the
Church._

For a hundred and fifty years there had been no loyalty among the
people. Loyalty left the country with James II. Not one of the
Sovereigns who followed him commanded the personal enthusiasm of the
people, not even Farmer George, for whom there had been some kind of
affection with something of contempt. From 1687 until 1837, which is
exactly one hundred and fifty years, not one Sovereign who sat upon the
Throne of England could boast that he had the love of the people. Not
one wished to have the love of the people. He represented a principle:
he governed with the assistance of a few families and by the votes of
a small class. As King he was a stranger. When he drove through the
streets, the people hurrahed; but they did not know him, and they cared
nothing for him.

Therefore the sentiment of loyalty had to be re-born. It could only be
awakened by a woman, young, virtuous, naturally amiable, and resolved
on ruling by constitutional methods. Yet in some of the journals
written for, and read by, the working men, the things said concerning
the Queen, the Prince Consort, and the Court were simply horrible and
disgusting. Such things are no longer said. There are still papers
which speak of the aristocracy as a collection of titled profligates,
and of the clergy as a crowd of pampered hypocrites, but of the Queen
it is rare indeed to find mention other than is respectful. Her life
and example for fifty years have silenced the slanderers. It has been
found once more possible for a Sovereign to possess the love of her
people.

The papers read by the working men were not only scurrilous, but they
were Republican and revolutionary. The Republic whose example they set
before themselves was not the American, which is Conservative, for of
this they knew nothing. Let us clearly understand this. Fifty years
ago America was far more widely separated from England than is China
now. The ideal Republic was then the earlier form of the first French
Republic. These people cared little for the massacres which accompanied
the application of Republican principles. I do not say that they wished
to set the heads of the Queen’s Ladies-in-Waiting on pikes, but they
thought the massacres of innocent women by the French an accident
rather than a consequence. They loved the cry of ‘Liberty, Equality,
and Fraternity,’ and still believed in it. They dreamed of a country
which they thought could be established by law, in which every man was
to be the equal of his neighbour--as clever, as skilful, as capable,
as rich, and as happy. The dream continues, and will always continue,
to exist. It is a generous dream--there never has been a nobler
dream--so that it is a thousand pities that human greed, selfishness,
ambition, and masterfulness will not suffer the dream to be realised.
Those who advocated an attempt to realise it flung hard names at the
Crown, the Court, the aristocracy, the Church, the educated, and the
wealthy. Presently they began to formulate the way by which they
thought to place themselves within reach of their object. The way was
Chartism. They wanted to carry six measures--Universal Suffrage, Annual
Parliaments, Vote by Ballot, Abolition of Property Qualification,
Payment of Members, and Equal Electoral Districts. Very well; we have
got, practically, four out of the six points, and there are many who
think that we are as far off the Millennium as ever. Yet there are,
however, still among us people who believe that we can be made happy,
just, merciful, and disinterested by changing the machinery. Changing
the machinery! The old party of Radicals still work themselves into a
white heat by crying for change in the machinery.

And now a thing which was never contemplated even by the Chartists
themselves--the really important thing--has been acquired by the
people. They are no longer the governed, but the governors. The
Government is no longer a thing apart from themselves, and outside
them. It is their own--it is the Government of the People of England.
If there is anything in it which they do not like, they can alter
it; if there is anything they agree to abolish, they can abolish
it, whether it be Church, Crown, Lords, wealth, education, science,
art--anything. They may destroy what they please: they may reduce the
English to an illiterate peasantry if they please.

They will not please. I, for one, have the greatest confidence in
the justice, the common-sense, and the Conservatism of the English
and the Scotch. The people do not, as yet, half understand their own
power; while they are gradually growing to comprehend it, they will be
learning the history of their country, the duties and responsibilities
of citizenship, the dangers of revolution, and the advantages of those
old institutions by whose aid the whole world has been covered with
those who speak the Anglo-Saxon speech and are governed by the English
law.

My friends, we are changed indeed. Fifty years ago we were, as I have
said, still in the eighteenth century. The people had no power, no
knowledge, no voice; they were the slaves of their employers; they
were brutish and ill-conditioned, ready to rebel against their rulers,
but not knowing how; chafing under laws which they did not make, and
restraints which kept them from acting together, or from meeting to ask
if things must always continue so. We are changed indeed.

We now stand upright; our faces are full of hope, though we are
oppressed by doubts and questions, because we know not which path, of
the many before us, will be the wisest; the future is all our own; we
are no longer the servants; we are the Masters, the absolute Rulers, of
the greatest Empire that the world has ever seen.

God grant that we govern it with wisdom!



CHAPTER VI.

WITH THE MIDDLE-CLASS.


The great middle-class--supposed, before the advent of Mr. Matthew
Arnold, to possess all the virtues; to be the backbone, stay, and prop
of the country--must have a chapter to itself.

In the first place, the middle-class was far more a class apart than it
is at present. In no sense did it belong to society. Men in professions
of any kind, except the two services, could only belong to society
by right of birth and family connections; men in trade--bankers were
still accounted tradesmen--could not possibly belong to society. That
is to say, if they went to live in the country they were not called
upon by the county families, and in town they were not admitted by the
men into their clubs, or by ladies into their houses. Those circles,
of which there are now so many--artistic, æsthetic, literary--all of
them considering themselves to belong to society, were then out of
society altogether; nor did they overlap and intersect each other. The
middle-class knew its own place, respected itself, made its own society
for itself, and cheerfully accorded to rank its reverence due. The
annals of the poor are meagre; only here and there one gets a glimpse
into their lives. But the middle-class is much better known, because
it has had prophets; nearly all the poets, novelists, essayists,
journalists, and artists have sprung from it. Those who adorned the
Thirties and the Forties--Hood, Hook, Galt, Dickens, Albert Smith,
Thackeray--all belonged to it; George Eliot, whose country towns are
those of the Thirties and the Forties, was essentially a woman of the
middle-class.

[Illustration: GEORGE ELIOT

(Taken from the Drawing in ‘The Graphic’ by permission)]

Middle-class life--especially in the country--was dull, far, far
duller than modern life even in the quietest country town. The men had
their business; the women had the house. Incomes ran small; a great
deal was done at home that is now done out of it. There was a weekly
washing-day, when the house steamed with hot soap-suds, and the ‘lines’
were out upon the poles--they were painted green and were square--and
on the lines hung half the family linen. All the jam was made at home;
the cakes, the pies, and the puddings, by the wife and daughters; the
bread was home-made; the beer was home-brewed (and better beer than
good home-brewed no man need desire); all those garments which are
not worn outside were made at home. Everybody dined in the middle of
the day. Therefore, in the society of the country town dinner-parties
did not exist. On the other hand, there were sociable evenings, which
began with a sit-down tea, with muffins and tea-cakes, very delightful,
and ended with a hot supper. Tobacco was not admitted in any shape
except that of snuff into the better kind of middle-class house; only
working men smoked vulgar pipes; the Sabbath was respected; there
was no theatre nearer than the county town; the girls had probably
never seen a play; every man who respected himself ‘laid down’ port,
but there was little drinking of wine except on Sunday afternoons;
no one, not even the ladies, scorned the glass of something warm,
with a spoon in it, after supper. For the young there was a fair once
a year; now and then a travelling circus came along; there was a
lecture occasionally on an instructive subject, such as chemistry, or
astronomy, or sculpture; there were picnics, but these were rare; if
there were show places in the neighbourhood, parties were made to them,
and tea was festively taken among the ruins of the Abbey.

[Illustration: John Galt

-JOHN GALT-]

Fashion descends slowly; it is now the working man who takes his wife
into the country for tea: fifty years ago he took his wife nowhere, and
scorned tea. Open-air games and sports there were none; no lawn-tennis,
Badminton, or anything of that kind in those days; even croquet, which
is now so far lost in the mists of antiquity that men of thirty are
too young to remember the rage for it, was actually not yet invented.
Archery certainly existed, and the comic writers are always drawing
pictures of the young ladies sticking their arrows into the legs of
people a hundred feet or so wide of the target. But archery belonged
to a class rather above that which we are now considering. There was
not much sketching and painting. There was no amateur photography;
there was no catching of strange creatures in ponds for the aquarium--a
fashion also now happily extinct; there was not, in fact, any single
pursuit, amusement, or game which would bring young people together
in the open air. There was no travelling; the summer holiday had not
yet got down in the country. In London, to be sure, everybody down to
Bevis Marks and Simmery Axe went out of town and to the seaside in
July or August; but in the country nobody thought of such a thing; not
the vicar’s daughters, not the solicitor’s wife, not the family of the
general practitioner; the very schoolmaster, who got his four weeks in
the summer and his three at Christmas, spent them at home in such joy
as accompanies rest from labour. With no outdoor amusements, and with
no summer holiday, how much is life simplified! But the simplicity of
life means monotony--_faciunt vitam, balnea, vina, Venus_.

[Illustration: LA PASTOURELLE]

In the winter, things were somewhat different. In some towns there
was the county ball. At this function one had the pleasure of gazing
upon ladies and gentlemen of the highest rank and fashion, and of
observing that they kept to themselves like a Hindu caste, danced with
each other at the upper end of the room, cast disparaging glances at
the dresses of the ladies of the lower end, and sniffed at their manner
and appearance. This was true joy. There were also occasional dances at
home, but these were rare, because people had not learned how to meet
and dance without making a fuss over it, taking up carpets, putting
candles in tin sconces, keeping late hours, and having a supper, the
preparation of which was mainly done by the ladies of the house, and it
nearly killed them, and drove the servants--the genteel middle-class
family often got along with only one--to give notice. I think that the
dances which had gone out in London still lingered in the country.
There were, for instance, the Caledonians as well as the Lancers; there
were country dances without end, the very names of which are now lost;
the gentlemen performed the proper steps with grace and agility, while
the ladies were careful to preserve an attitude supposed the only
one possible for a lady while dancing, in which the figure was bent
forward, the face was turned up with the chin stuck out, while the
hands were occupied in holding up the dress to the regulation height.
The elders, meanwhile, played long whist at tables lit by candles which
wanted snuffing between the deals. The bashful youth of the party was
always covering himself with shame by his clumsiness in snuffing out
the candles, or, even if he succeeded in taking off the red-hot ball
of burnt thread, he too often neglected to close the instrument with
which he effected the operation, and thereby mightily offended the
nostrils of the company. When there was no dancing the younger members
began with a ‘little music.’ Their songs--how faded and stale they
seem now if one tries to sing them!--turned chiefly on the affections,
and the favourite poet was Felicia Hemans. After the little music they
sat down to a round game, of which there were a great many, such as
Commerce, Speculation, Vingt-et-Un, Limited Loo, or Pope Joan. The last
was played with a board. I remember the board--it was a round thing,
lacquered, and like a punch-bowl, but I think with divisions; as for
the game itself, and what was done with the board, I quite forget, but
both game and bowl lasted quite into the Fifties. Are there any country
circles now where they still play Pope Joan with mother-o’-pearl
counters, and after the game have a grand settlement, and exchange the
counters for silver and copper, some with chuckles, and others with
outward smiles but inward rage?

People were extremely punctilious on the subject of calls--one
remembers the call in the ‘Mill on the Floss.’ The call was due at
regular intervals, so that even the day should almost be known on
which it was paid or returned. It was a ceremonial which necessitated
a great deal of ritual and make-believe. No one, for instance, was
to be surprised in doing any kind of work. There was a fiction in
genteel families that the ladies of the house never did anything
serious or serviceable after dinner; the afternoon was supposed to
be devoted either to walking, or to making calls, or to elegant
trifling at home. Therefore, if the girls were at the moment engaged
upon any useful work--many of them, poor things, never did anything
but useful work--they crammed it under the sofa, and pretended to be
reading a book, or painting, or knitting, or to be engaged in easy
and fashionable conversation. Why they went through this elaborate
pretence I have not the least idea, because everybody knew that every
girl in the place was always making, mending, cutting-out, basting,
gusseting, trimming, turning, and contriving. How do you suppose that
the solicitor’s daughters made so brave a show on Sundays if they were
not clever enough to make up things for themselves? Everybody, of
course, knew it, and why the girls would not own up at once one cannot
now understand. Perhaps it was a sort of suspicion, or a faint hope, or
a wild dream, that a reputation for ladylike uselessness might enable
them to cross the line at the County Ball, and mingle with the county
people.

Are there still any circles of society in which, if a lady with her
daughters calls upon another lady with her daughters, the decanters,
biscuits, and glasses are placed upon the table, and the visitors are
asked whether they will take port or sherry? This, fifty years ago,
was always done in country towns, and the visitors always took a glass
of port or sherry. In some houses it was not port and sherry that were
placed upon the table, but ‘red’ and ‘white.’ I do not know whether the
red was currant or raspberry, but I think that the white was generally
cowslip. When the visitors were gone, the ladies got out their work
again, threaded their needles, and spent an enjoyable hour or two in
discussing the appearance, the dress, the manners, and the resources
of their visitors. But the visit did them good, because it compelled
company manners, which are always good for girls, and it dragged them
a little out of themselves. They were too much _en famille_, these
girls; they were never separated from each other. The boys got out to
school or to business all day; but the poor girls were always together.
Side by side they did their household duties, side by side they sewed
and dressmaked, side by side they walked, side by side they prayed in
the church, side by side they slept. Small chance of happiness was
theirs--happiness is a separate, distinct, individual kind of thing,
in which one _can_ consult one’s own likes--until, in the fulness of
time, there came along the lover--a humdrum, commonplace kind of lover,
I dare say, but his sweetheart was as commonplace as himself--and she
exchanged a house, where she was a better kind of servant, for one of
exactly the same sort, in which she was the mistress. And when one says
mistress, it must be remembered that man was, in those days, much more
of a master in the house than he is now allowed to be. I speak not at
random, but from the evidence of those who remember and from study of
the literature, both that written by the men and that by the women. I
am certain that the husband, unless he was hen-pecked--a pleasing word,
now seldom used--was always the Master and generally the Tyrant in the
house.

Let me, with some diffidence, approach the subject of the Church in the
country town. I never truly understood the Church of fifty years ago
until, in the autumn of 1885, I perambulated with one who is jealous
for Church architecture and Church antiquities the north-east corner
of Norfolk, where there are many churches, and most of them are fine.
In our pilgrimage among these monuments we presently came upon one
at the aspect of which we were fain to sit down and weep. It was,
externally, an old and venerable structure, which might have been made
beautiful within. Plaster covered the walls, and hid the columns; the
interior of the church was crowded with high pews, painted white, and
having along the top a sham mahogany kind of hand-rail; the chancel
was encumbered with these enclosures, which hid the old brass-work;
that which belonged to the Squire was provided with red curtains on
brass rods to keep the common people from gazing at the Quality. The
reading-desk, pulpit, and altar were covered with a cloth which had
been red, but had long before faded away into an indescribably shabby
brown. The pulpit was not part of the old three-decker, but was stuck
into the wall; the windows had lost their old tracery; the painted
glass was gone; the roof was a flat whitewashed ceiling. The church, to
eyes accustomed to better things, presented a deplorable appearance. My
friend, pointing solemnly to the general shabbiness, remarked, ‘_Donec
templa refeceris_.’ It was the motto of the journal started early
in the Forties by a small knot of Cambridge men--among whom was Mr.
Beresford Hope, now, alas! no more--who desired to raise and beautify
public worship in the Anglican faith, and also, I believe, to assert
and insist upon certain points of doctrine. And they clearly perceived
that, while the churches remained in their neglected condition, and
church architecture was at its then low ebb, their doctrine was
impossible. How far they have succeeded not only the Ritualists
themselves proclaim, but also every other party in the Church, and even
the Nonconformists, who have shared in the increased beauty and fitness
of public worship.

[Illustration: THE QUEEN RECEIVING THE SACRAMENT AFTER HER
CORONATION--WESTMINSTER ABBEY, JUNE 29, 1838.

(From the Picture by C. R. Leslie, R.A., at Windsor Castle.)]

He who can remember the ordinary Church Services in the early Fifties
very well knows what they were in the Thirties, except that in the
latter there were still some venerable divines who wore a wig.

The musical part of the service was, to begin with, taken
slow--incredibly slow; no one now would, who is not old enough to
remember, believe how slow it was. The voluntary at the beginning was a
slow rumble; the Psalms were very slowly read by the clergyman and the
clerk alternately, the Gloria alone being sung, also to a slow rumble.
The choir was generally stationed in the organ loft, which has been
known to be built over the altar at the east end--as at St. Mary’s,
Cambridge--but was generally at the west end. It was not a choir of
boys and men only, but of women and men. The ‘Te Deum’ was always
‘Jackson’--from my youth up have I loathed ‘Jackson’; there was just
one lively bit in it for which one looked and waited; but it lasted a
very few bars; and then the thing dragged on more slowly than ever till
it came to the welcome words, ‘Let me never be confounded.’ Two hymns
were sung--very slowly; they were always of the kind which expressed
either the despair of the sinner or the doubtful joy of the believer.
I say doubtful, because he was constantly being warned not to be too
confident, not to mistake a vague hope for the assurance of election,
and because, with the rest of the congregation, he was always being
told how few in number were those elect, and how extremely unlikely
that there could be many of those few in that one flock. Read any of
the theological literature of the period, and mark the gulf that lies
between us and our fathers. There were many kinds of preachers, just as
at present--the eloquent, the high and dry, the low and threatening,
the forcible-feeble, the florid, the prosy, the scholarly--but they all
seemed to preach the same doctrine of hopelessness, the same Gospel
of Despair, the same Father of all Cruelty, the same Son who could at
best help only a few; and when any of the congregation dared to speak
the truth, which was seldom, these blasphemous persons whispered that
it was best to live and enjoy the present, and to leave off trying to
save their souls against such fearful odds, and with the knowledge that
if they were going to be saved it would be by election and by no merit
or effort of their own, while, if the contrary was going to happen, it
was no use striving against fate. Wretched, miserable creed! To think
that unto this was brought the Divine Message of the Son of Man! And to
think of the despairing deathbeds of the careless, the lifelong terror
of the most religious, and the agony of the survivors over the death of
one ‘cut off in his sins’!

What we now call the ‘life’ of the Church, with its meetings,
committees, fraternities, guilds, societies, and organisations, then
simply did not exist. The clergyman had an easy time; he visited
little, he had an Evening Service once a week, he did not pretend
to keep saints’ days and minor festivals and fasts--none of his
congregation expected him to keep them; as for his being a teetotaller
for the sake of the weaker brethren, that would have seemed to
everybody pure foolishness, as, indeed, it is, only people now run to
the opposite belief; yet he was a good man, for the most part, who
lived a quiet and exemplary life, and a good scholar--scholars are,
indeed, sadly to seek among the modern clergy--a sound theologian,
a judge of good port, and a gentleman. But processions, banners,
surpliced choirs, robes, and the like, he would have regarded as
unworthy the consideration of one who was a Churchman, a Protestant,
and a scholar.

To complete this brief study of the Church fifty years ago, let us
remark that out of 11,500 livings which it possessed, 3,000 were under
100_l._ and 1,000 under 60_l._ a year, that there were 6,080 pluralists
and 2,100 non-residents, that the Dissenters had only been allowed to
marry in their own chapels and by their own clergy in the year 1831,
that they were not admitted, as Dissenters, to the Universities, and
that the incomes of some of the Bishops were enormous.

[Illustration: FASHIONS FOR AUGUST, 1836

FASHIONS FOR MARCH, 1837]

As for Art, in the house or out of it, Art in pictures, sculpture,
architecture, dress, furniture, fiction, oratory, acting, the
middle-class person, the resident in the country town, knew nothing of
it. His church was most likely a barn, his own house was four-square,
his furniture was mahogany, his pictures were coloured engravings,
the ornaments of his rooms were hideous things in china, painted red
and white, his hangings were of a warm and comfortable red, his sofas
were horsehair, his drawing-room was furnished with a round table,
on which lay keepsakes and forget-me-nots; but as the family never
used the room, which was generally kept locked, it mattered little
how it was furnished. He dressed, if he was an elderly gentleman, in
a spencer, buttoned tight, a high black satin stock, and boots up to
his knees--very likely he still carried his hair in a tail. If he was
young, he had long and flowing hair, waved and curled with the aid of
pomade, bear’s grease, and oil; he cultivated whiskers, also curled
and oiled all round his face; he wore a magnificent stock, with a
liberal kind of knot in the front: in this he stuck a great pin; and
he was magnificent in waistcoats. As for the ladies’ dresses, I cannot
trust myself to describe them; the accompanying illustration will be
of service in bringing the fashion home to the reader. But this is
the effigy of a London and a fashionable lady. Her country cousin
would be two or three years, at least, behind her. Well, the girls
had blooming cheeks, bright eyes, and simple manners. They were much
more retiring than the modern maiden; they knew very little of young
men and their manners, and the young men knew very little of them--the
novels of the time are full of the shyness of the young man in presence
of the maiden. Their ideas were limited, they had strong views as to
rank and social degrees, and longed earnestly for a chance of rising
but a single step; their accomplishments were generally contemptible,
and of Art they had no idea whatever. How should they have any idea
when, year after year, they saw no Art, and heard of none? But they
were good daughters, who became good wives and good mothers--our own,
my friends--and we must not make even a show of holding them up to
ridicule.

One point must not be forgotten. In the midst of all this conventional
dulness there was, in the atmosphere of the Thirties, a certain love
of romance which showed itself chiefly in a fireside enthusiasm for
the cause of oppressed races. Poland had many friends; the negro--they
even went so far in those days as to call him a brother--was warmly
befriended; the case of the oppressed Greek attracted the good
wishes of everybody. Now, sympathy with oppression that is unseen
may sometimes be followed by sympathy with the oppression which is
before the eyes; so that one is not surprised to hear that the case
of the women and the children in the mines and the factories was
soon afterwards taken seriously in hand. The verse which then formed
so large a part of family reading had a great deal to do with the
affections, especially their tearful side; while the tales they loved
the best were those of knights and fair dames of adventure and romance.

[Illustration: Yours faithfully

Theodore S Hook

-THEODORE HOOK-]

A picture by Du Maurier in _Punch_ once represented a man singing
a comic song at an ‘At Home.’ Nobody laughed; some faces expressed
wonder; some, pity; some, contempt; a few, indignation; but not one
face smiled. Consider the difference: in the year 1837 every face would
have been broadened out in a grin. Do we, therefore, laugh no more?
We do not laugh so much, certainly, and we laugh differently. Our
comic man of society still tells good stories, but he no longer sings
songs; in his stories he prefers the rapier or the jewelled dagger to
the bludgeon. Those who desire to make the acquaintance of the comic
man, as he was accepted in society and in the middle-class, should
read the works of Theodore Hook and of Albert Smith. To begin with, he
played practical jokes; he continually played practical jokes, and he
was never killed, as would now happen, by his victims. I am certain
that we should kill a man who came to our houses and played the jokes
which then were permitted to the comic man. He poured melted butter
into coat pockets at suppers; he turned round signposts, and made them
point the wrong way, in order to send people whither they did not
wish to go. It may be remarked that his tricks were rarely original.
He wrenched off door-knockers; he turned off the gas at the meter; he
tied strings across the river to knock people backwards in their boats;
he tied two doors together, and then rang both bells, and waited with
a grin from ear to ear; he rang up people in the dead of the night on
any pretext; he filled keyholes with powdered slate-pencil when the
master of the house was coming home late; he hoaxed innocent ladies,
and laughed when they were nearly driven mad with worry and terror; he
went to masquerades, carrying a tray full of medicated sweets--think of
such a thing!--which he distributed, and then retired, and came back in
another dress to gaze upon the havoc he had wrought. Again, it was a
time when candles were still carried about the house, and, as yet, it
was thought that gas in bedrooms was dangerous. He dipped the candles
waiting for the ladies when they went to bed into water, so that they
spluttered and went out, and made alarming fireworks when they were
lit; and then, to remove the horrible smell, the candles being of
tallow, he offered to burn pastilles, but these were confections of
gunpowder and water, and caused the liveliest emotions, and sent the
poor ladies upstairs in an agony of nervous terror.

[Illustration: WATCHMAN

(From a Drawing by George Cruikshank in ‘London Characters’)]

There was no end to the tricks of this abominable person. Once he
received an invitation to a great ball, which a Royal Personage was
to honour with his presence. The Royal Personage was to be regaled
in a special supper-room, apart from the common herd. The table had
been laid in this room with the most elaborate care and splendour:
down the middle of the table there meandered a beautiful canal filled
with gold and silver fish--a contrivance believed in those remote
ages to set off and greatly increase the beauty of a supper table.
Our ingenious friend quickly discovered that the room was accessible
from the garden, where some workmen were still putting the finishing
touches to their work, the men who had constructed the marquee, and had
arranged the lamps and things. He went, therefore, into the garden:
he invited these workmen to partake of a little refreshment, led them
into the Royal supper-room, and begged them to help themselves, and
to spare nothing: in a twinkling the tables were cleared. He then put
certain chemicals into the canal, which instantly killed every fish:
this done, he returned to the ballroom, and waited for the moment when
the Illustrious Personage, the hostess on his arm, should enter that
supper-room, and gaze upon those empty dishes.

On another occasion, he discovered that a respectable butler was in the
habit of creeping upstairs, in order to listen to the conversation,
leaving his slippers, in _position_, at the head of the kitchen stairs.
He therefore hid himself while the poor man, after adjusting the
slippers, walked noiselessly upstairs. He then hammered a tintack into
the heel of each slipper, and waited again, until a confederate gave
the alarm, and the fat butler, hurrying down, slipped one foot into
each slipper, and--went headlong into the depths below, and was nearly
killed. ‘Never laughed so much in all my life, sir.’

At Oxford, of course, he enjoyed himself wonderfully. For, with a party
of chosen friends, he met no less a person than the Vice-Chancellor,
at ten or eleven at night, going home alone, and peacefully. To raise
that personage, lift him on their shoulders, crown him with a lamp
cover, and carry him triumphantly to the gates of his own College,
was not only a great stroke of fun, but a thing not to be resisted.
And he blew up the group of Cain and Abel in the Quadrangle of
Brasenose. And what he did with proctors, bulldogs, and the like,
passeth all understanding. It was at Oxford that the funny man made
the acquaintance of the Major. Now the Major was in love, but he was
no longer so young as he had been, and his hair was getting thin
on the top--a very serious thing in the days of long hair, wavy,
curled, singed, and oiled, flowing gracefully over the ears and the
coat-collar. The Major, in an evil moment, commissioned the Practical
Joker, whose character, one would think, must have been well known, to
procure for him a bottle of a certain patent hair-restorer. Of course,
the Joker brought him a bottle of depilatory mixture, which being
credulously accepted, and well rubbed in, deprived the poor Major of
every hair that was left. It is needless to relate how, when he was
at Richmond with a party of ladies, the introduction of the ‘maids of
honour’ was a thing not to be resisted; and one can quite understand
how one of the young ladies was led on to ordering, in addition to
another ‘maid of honour,’ a small Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, if
they had one quite cold.

The middle-class of London, before the development of omnibuses, lived
in and round the City of London, Bloomsbury being the principal suburb;
many thousands of well-to-do people, merchants and shopkeepers, lived
in the City itself, and were not ashamed of their houses, and filled
the City churches on the Sunday. Some lived at Clapham, Camberwell, and
Stockwell on the south; a great many at Islington, where a vigorous
offshoot of the great city ran through the High Street past Sadler’s
Wells as far as Highbury; a few even lived at Highgate and Hampstead.
There were the ‘short’ stages from London to all these places, but, so
far as can be gathered, most of those who lived in these suburbs before
the days of the omnibus had their own carriages, and drove to town and
home again every day. On Sunday they entertained their friends, and the
young gentlemen of the City delighted to hire horses and ride down.
The comic literature of the time is full of the Cockney horseman. It
will be remembered how Mr. Horatio Sparkins rode gallantly from town to
dine with his hospitable friends on Sunday.

[Illustration: A SCENE ON BLACKHEATH

By ‘Phiz’

(From ‘Sketches in London,’ by James Grant)]

The manners and customs of the Islington colony, which may, I suppose,
be taken for the suburban and Bloomsbury people generally--except
that Russell and Bedford Squares were very, very much grander--may
be read in Albert Smith’s ‘Adventures of Mr. Ledbury,’ his ‘Natural
History of the Gent,’ ‘The Pottleton Legacy,’ and other contemporary
works. Very good reading they are, if approached in the right spirit,
which is a humble and an inquiring spirit. Many remarkable things
may be learned from these books. For instance, would you know how the
middle-class evening party was conducted? Here are a few details. The
gentlemen, of whose long and wavy hair I have already spoken, wore,
for evening dress, a high black stock, the many folds of which covered
the shirt, and were enriched by a massive pin; the white shirt-cuffs
were neatly turned over their wrists, their dress-coats were buttoned,
their trousers were tight, and they wore straps and pumps. The ladies
either wore curls neatly arranged on each side--you may still see some
old ladies who have clung to the pretty fashion of their youth--or
they wore their hair dropped in a loop down the cheek and behind the
ear, and then fastened in some kind of band with ribbons at the back
of the head. The machinery of the frocks reminds one of the wedding
morning in ‘Pickwick,’ when all the girls were crying out to be ‘done
up,’ for they had hooks and eyes, and the girls were helpless by
themselves. Pink was the favourite colour--and a very pretty colour
too; and there was plenty of scope for the milliner’s art in lace and
artificial flowers. The elder ladies were magnificent in turbans, and
the younger ones wore across the forehead a band of velvet or silk
decorated with a gold buckle, or something in pearls and diamonds. This
fashion lingered long. I remember--it must have been about the year
1850--a certain elderly maiden lady who always wore every day and all
day a black ribbon across her brows; this alone gave her a severe and
keep-your-distance kind of expression; but, in addition, the ribbon
contained in the middle, if I remember aright, a steel buckle--though
a lady, one thinks, would hardly wear a steel buckle on her forehead.
Sometimes there was a wreath of flowers worn like a coronet, and
sometimes, but I think hardly in Islington, a tiara of jewels. In
middle-class circles, the fashion of evening dress was marred by a
fashion, common to both sexes, of wearing cleaned gloves. Now kid
gloves could only be cleaned by one process, so that the result was an
effect of turps which could not be subdued by any amount of patchouli
or eau-de-Cologne. There were, as yet, no cards for the dances, and
when a waltz was played, everybody was afraid to begin. Quadrilles of
various kinds were danced, and the country dance yet lingered at this
end of the town. The polka came later. Dancing was stopped whenever
any young lady could be persuaded to sing, and happy was the young
man whose avocations permitted him to wear the delightful moustaches
forbidden in the City and in all the professions. Young Templars wore
them until they were called, when they had to be shaved. For a City man
to wear a moustache would have been ruin and bankruptcy.

[Illustration: MAID SERVANT

(From a Drawing by Cruikshank in ‘London Characters’)]

Other portions of Albert Smith’s works, if read with discernment, will
enable one to make discoveries of some interest. One is that our modern
’Arry is really a survival, not, as is sometimes believed, a growth
of modern days. His ally and mistress, ’Arriet, does not seem to have
existed at all fifty years ago; at least there is no mention of her;
but ’Arry flourished. He did really dreadful things. He was even worse
than the Practical Joker. When he took Titus Ledbury abroad, he went
into the cathedrals on purpose to spill the holy water, to blow out
the candles, and to make faces at the women kneeling at their prayers;
he got barrel-organs into lofts and invited men to bring grisettes
and dance all night, with a supper brought from the _charcuterie_;
wherever there was jumping, dancing, singing, and riot, ’Arry was to
the fore. On board the steamer he seized a bottle of stout and took up
a prominent and commanding position, where he drank it before all the
world, smoking cigars, and laughing loudly at the poor people who were
ill. At home, he wrenched off knockers, played practical jokes, drank
more stout, ate oysters, chaffed bar-maidens, and called for brandy
and water continually. He was loud in his dress and in his voice; he
was insolent, caddish, and offensive in his manners. Generally, one
thinks, he would end his career in Whitecross Street, or the Fleet,
or the Queen’s Bench. Doubtless, however, there are still among us
old gentlemen who now sit at church on Sunday with venerable white
hair, among their children and grandchildren, and while the voice of
the preacher rises and falls, their memory wanders back to the days
when they danced and sang with the grisettes, when they wrenched the
knockers, when they went from the theatre to the Coal Cellar, and from
the Coal Cellar to the Finish; and came home with unsteady step and
light purse in the grey of the morning.

The Debtors’ Prison belonged chiefly to the great middle-class. Before
them stalked always a grisly spectre, called by some Insolvency and
by others Bankruptcy. This villainous ghost seized its victims by the
collar and haled them within the walls of a Debtors’ Prison, where
it made them abandon hope, and abide there till the day of death.
Everybody is familiar with the inside of the Fleet, the Queen’s Bench,
the Marshalsea, and Whitecross Street. They are all pulled down now,
and the only way to get imprisoned for debt is to incur contempt of
court, for which Holloway is the reward. But what a drop from the
humours of the Queen’s Bench, with its drinking, tobacco, singing, and
noisy revelry, to the solitary cell of Holloway Prison! The Debtors’
Prison is gone, and the world is the better for its departure. Nowadays
the ruined betting-man, the rake, the sharper, the profligate, the
fraudulent bankrupt, have no prison where they can carry on their
old excesses again, though in humbler way. They go down--below the
surface--out of sight, and what they do, and how they fare, nobody
knows, and very few care.



CHAPTER VII.

IN SOCIETY.


As to society in 1837, contemporary commentators differ. For, according
to some, society was always gambling, running away with each other’s
wives, causing and committing scandals, or whispering them, the men
were spendthrifts and profligates, the women extravagant and heartless.
Of course, the same things would be said, and are sometimes said,
of the present day, and will be said in all following ages, because
to the ultra-virtuous or to the satirist who trots out the old,
stale, worn-out sham indignation, or to the isn’t-it-awful, gaping
_gobemouche_, every generation seems worse than all those which
preceded it. We know the tag and the burden and the weariness of the
old song. As for myself, I am no indignant satirist, and the news
that certain young gentlemen have been sitting up all night playing
baccarat, drinking champagne, and ‘carrying on’ after the fashion of
youth in all ages, does not greatly agitate my soul, or surprise me,
or lash me into virtuous indignation. Not at all. At the same time, if
one must range oneself and take a side, one may imitate the example
of Benjamin Disraeli and declare for the side of the angels. And, once
a declared follower of that army, one may be allowed to rejoice that
things are vastly improved in the space of two generations. Of this
there can be no doubt. Making easy allowance for exaggeration, and
refusing to see depravity in a whole class because there are one or
two cases that the world calls shocking and reads eagerly, it is quite
certain that there is less of everything that should not be than there
used to be--less in proportion, and even less in actual extent. The
general tone, in short the general manners of society, have very much
improved. Of this, I say again, there can be no doubt. Let any one, for
instance, read Lady Blessington’s ‘Victims of Society.’ Though there is
an unreal ring about this horrid book, so that one cannot accept it for
a moment as a faithful picture of the times, such a book could not now
be written at all; it would be impossible.

[Illustration: M. Blessington

-THE COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON-]

Let us sing of lighter themes. Take, for instance, the great subject of
Swagger. There is still Swagger, even in these days; cavalry officers
in garrison towns are still supposed to swagger. Eton boys swagger
in their own little village; undergraduates swagger. The putting on
of ‘side,’ by the way, is a peculiarly modern form of swagger: it is
the assumption of certain qualities and powers which are considered
as deserving of respect. Swagger, fifty years ago, was a coarser
kind of thing. Officers swaggered; men of rank swaggered; men of
wealth swaggered; gentlemen in military frogs--there are no longer
any military frogs--swaggered in taverns, clubs, and in the streets.
The adoption of quiet manners; the wearing of rank with unobtrusive
dignity; the possession of wealth without ostentation; of wit without
the desire to be always showing it--these are points in which we are
decidedly in advance of our fathers. There was a great deal of cuff
and collar, stock and breastpin about the young fellows of the day.
They were oppressive in their gallantry: in public places they asserted
themselves; they were loud in their talk. In order to understand the
young man of the day, one may study the life and career of that gay and
gallant gentleman, the Count d’Orsay, model and paragon for all young
gentlemen of his time.

[Illustration: OFFICER OF THE DRAGOON GUARDS]

They were louder in their manners, and in their conversation they were
insulting, especially the wits. Things were said by these gentlemen,
even in a duelling age, which would be followed in these days by a
violent personal assault. In fact, the necessity of fighting a duel if
you kicked a man seems to have been the cause why men were constantly
allowed to call each other, by implication, Fool, Ass, Knave, and
so forth. So very disagreeable a thing was it to turn out in the early
morning, in order to be shot at, that men stood anything rather than
subject themselves to it. Consider the things said by Douglas Jerrold,
for instance. They are always witty, of course, but they are often mere
insults. Yet nobody seems ever to have fallen upon him. And not only
this kind of thing was permitted, but things of the grossest taste
passed unrebuked. For instance, only a few years before our period, at
Holland House--not at a club, or a tavern, or a tap-room, but actually
at Holland House, the most refined and cultured place in London--the
following conversation once passed.

They were asking who was the worst man in the whole of history--a
most unprofitable question; and one man after the other was proposed.
Among the company present was the Prince Regent himself. ‘I,’ said
Sydney Smith--no other than Sydney Smith, if you please--‘have always
considered the Duke of Orleans, Regent of France, to have been the
worst man in all history; and he,’ looking at the illustrious guest,
‘was a Prince.’ A dead silence followed, broken by the Prince himself.
‘For my own part,’ he said, ‘I have always considered that he was
excelled by his tutor, the Abbé Dubois; and he was a priest, Mr.
Sydney.’ Considering the reputation of the Prince, and the kind of life
he was generally supposed to be leading, one can hardly believe that
any man would have had the impudence and the bad taste to make such a
speech.

[Illustration: Alfred d Orsay

-COUNT d’ORSAY-]

We still constantly hear, in the modern School for Scandal, remarks
concerning the honour, the virtue, the cleverness, the ability, the
beauty, the accomplishments of our friends. But it is behind their
backs. We no longer try to put the truth openly before them. We stab in
the back; but we no longer attack in front. One ought not to stab at
all; but the back is a portion of the frame which feels nothing. So far
the change is a distinct gain.

Society, again, fifty years ago, was exclusive. You belonged to
society, or you did not; there was no overlapping, there were no
circles which intersected. And if you were in society you went
to Almack’s. If you did not go to Almack’s you might be a very
interesting, praiseworthy, well-bred creature; but you could not claim
to be in society. Nothing could be more simple. Therefore, everybody
ardently desired to be seen at Almack’s. This, however, was not in
everybody’s power. Almack’s, for instance, was far more exclusive
than the Court. Riff-raff might go to Court; but they could not get
to Almack’s, for at its gates there stood, not one angel with a fiery
sword, but six in the shape of English ladies, terrible in turbans,
splendid in diamonds, magnificent in satin, and awful in rank.

[Illustration: ‘A SKETCH IN THE PARK’--THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON AND MRS.
ARBUTHNOT.]

They were the Ladies Jersey, Londonderry, Cowper, Brownlow, Willoughby
d’Eresby, and Euston. These ladies formed the dreaded Committee. They
decided who should be admitted within the circle; all applications
had to be made direct to them; no one was allowed to bring friends.
Those who desired to go to the balls--Heavens! what lady did not
ardently desire?--were obliged to send in a personal request to be
allowed the honour. Not only this, but they were also obliged to
send for the answer, which took the form of a voucher--that is, a
ticket--or a simple refusal, from which there was no appeal. Gentlemen
were admitted in the same way, and by the same mode of application,
as the ladies. In their case, it is pleasing to add, some regard was
paid to character as well as to birth and rank, so that if a man
openly and flagrantly insulted society he was supposed not to be
admitted; but one asks with some trembling how far such rigour would
be extended towards a young and unmarried Duke. Almack’s was a sort
of Royal Academy of Society, the Academic diploma being represented
by the admitted candidate’s pedigree, his family connections, and his
family shield. The heartburnings, jealousies, and maddening envies
caused by this exclusive circle were, I take it, the cause of its
decline and fall. Trade, even of the grandest and most successful kind,
even in the persons of the grandchildren, had no chance whatever;
no self-made man was admitted; in fact, it was not recognised that
a man could make himself; either he belonged to a good family or he
did not--genius was not considered at all; admission to Almack’s was
like admission to the Order of the Garter, because it pretended no
nonsense about merit; wives and daughters of simple country squires,
judges, bishops, generals, admirals, and so forth, knew better than to
apply; the intrigues, backstairs influence, solicitation of friends,
were as endless at Almack’s as the intrigues at the Admiralty to
procure promotion. Admission could not, however, be bought. So far
the committee were beyond suspicion and beyond reproach; it was
whispered, to be sure, that there was favouritism--awful word! Put
yourself in the position, if you have imagination enough, of a young
and beautiful _débutante_. Admission to Almack’s means for you that
you can see your right and title clear to a coronet. What will you not
do--what cringing, supplication, adulation, hypocrisies--to secure
that card? And oh! the happiness, the rapture, of sending to Willis’s
Rooms and finding a card waiting for you! and the misery and despair of
receiving, instead, the terrible letter which told you, without reason
assigned, that the Ladies of the Committee could not grant your request!

[Illustration: Yrs. Sydney Smith

-SYDNEY SMITH-]

They were not expensive gatherings, the tickets being only 7_s._ 6_d._
each, which did not include supper. Dancing began at eleven to the
strains of Weippert’s and Collinet’s band. The balls were held in the
great room at Willis’s, and the space reserved for the dancers was
roped round. The two favourite dances were the Valse and the Galop--the
‘sprightly galoppade,’ as it was called. Quadrilles were also danced.
It may be interesting to those who have kept the old music to learn
that in the year 1836 the favourite quadrilles were _L’Eclair_ and
_La Tête de Bronze_, and the favourite valse was _Le Remède contre le
Sommeil_. They had also Strauss’s waltzes.

[Illustration: LINKMAN]

The decline and fall of Almack’s was partly caused by the ‘favouritism’
which not only kept the place exclusive, but excluded more than
was politic. The only chance for the continued existence of such an
institution is that it should be constantly enlarging its boundaries,
just as the only chance for the continued existence of such an
aristocracy as ours is that it should be always admitting new members.
Somehow the kind of small circle which shall include only the _crème de
la crème_ is always falling to pieces. We hear of a club which is to
contain only the very noblest, but in a year or two it has ceased to
exist, or it is like all other clubs. Moreover, a great social change
has now passed over the country. The stockbroker, to speak in allegory,
has got into Society. Respect for Rank, fifty years ago universal and
profound, is rapidly decaying. There are still many left who believe in
some kind of superiority by Divine Right and the Sovereign’s gift of
Rank, even though that Rank be but ten years old, and the grandfather’s
shop is still remembered. We do not pretend to believe any longer
that Rank by itself makes people cleverer, more moral, stronger, more
religious, or more capable; but some of us still believe that, in some
unknown way, it makes them superior. These thinkers are getting fewer.
And the decay of agriculture, which promises to continue and increase,
assists the decay of Respect for Rank, because such an aristocracy as
that of these islands, when it becomes poor, becomes contemptible.

The position of women, social and intellectual, has wholly changed.
Nothing was heard then of women’s equality, nothing of woman
suffrage; there were no women on Boards, there were none who lectured
and spoke in public, there were few who wrote seriously. Women
regarded themselves, and spoke of themselves, as inferior to men in
understanding, as they were in bodily strength. Their case is not
likely to be understated by one of themselves. Hear, therefore, what
Mrs. John Sandford--nowadays she would have been Mrs. Ethel Sandford,
or Mrs. Christian-and maiden-name Sandford--says upon her sisters. It
is in a book called ‘Woman in her Social and Domestic Character.’

‘There is something unfeminine in independence. It is contrary to
Nature, and therefore it offends. A really sensible woman feels
her dependence; she does what she can, but _she is conscious of
inferiority, and therefore grateful for support_.’ The italics are
mine. ‘In everything that women attempt they should show their
consciousness of dependence.... They should remember that by them
influence is to be obtained, not by assumption, but by a delicate
appeal to affection or principle. Women in this respect are something
like children--the more they show their need of support, the more
engaging they are. The appropriate expression of dependence is
gentleness.’ The whole work is executed in this spirit, the keynote
being the inferiority of woman. Heavens! with what a storm would such a
book be now received!

In the year 1835 Herr Räumer, the German historian, visited England,
and made a study of the English people, which he afterwards published.
From this book one learns a great deal concerning the manners of the
time. For instance, he went to a dinner-party given by a certain noble
lord, at which the whole service was of silver, a silver hot-water dish
being placed under every plate; the dinner lasted until midnight, and
the German guest drank too much wine, though he missed ‘most of the
healths.’ It was then the custom at private dinner-parties to go on
drinking healths after dinner, and to sit over the wine till midnight.
He goes to an ‘At Home’ at Lady A.’s. ‘Almost all the men,’ he tells
us, ‘were dressed in black coats, black or coloured waistcoats, and
black or white cravats.’ Of what colour were the coloured waistcoats,
and of what colour the coats which were not black, and how were the
other men dressed? Perhaps one or two may have been Bishops in evening
dress. Now the evening dress of a Bishop used to be blue. I once saw a
Bishop dressed all in blue--he was a very aged Bishop, and it was at a
City Company’s dinner--and I was told it had formerly been the evening
dress of Bishops, but was now only worn by the most ancient among
them. Herr Räumer mentions the ‘countless’ carriages in Hyde Park,
and observes that no one could afford to keep a carriage who had not
3,000_l._ a year at least. And at fashionable dances he observes that
they dance nothing but waltzes. The English ladies he finds beautiful,
and of the men he observes that the more they eat and drink the colder
they become--because they drank port, no doubt, under the influence of
which, though the heart glows more and more, there comes a time when
the brow clouds, and the speech thickens, and the tongue refuses to act.

The dinners were conducted on primitive principles. Except in great
houses, where the meat and game were carved by the butler, everything
was carved on the table. The host sat behind the haunch of mutton,
and ‘helped’ with zeal; the guests took the ducks, the turkey, the
hare, and the fowls, and did their part, conscious of critical eyes.
A dinner was a terrible ordeal for a young man who, perhaps, found
himself called upon to dissect a pair of ducks. He took up the knife
with burning cheeks and perspiring nose; now, at last, an impostor,
one who knew not the ways of polite society, would be discovered; he
began to feel for the joints, while the cold eyes of his hostess gazed
reproachfully upon him--ladies, in those days, knew good carving,
and could carve for themselves. Perhaps he had, with a ghastly grin,
to confess that he could not find those joints. Then the dish was
removed and given to another guest, a horribly self-reliant creature,
who laughed and talked while he dexterously sliced the breast and cut
off the legs. If, in his agony, the poor wretch would take refuge
in the bottle, he had to wait until some one invited him to take
wine--horrible tyranny! The dinner-table was ornamented with a great
épergne of silver or glass; after dinner the cloth was removed, showing
the table, deep in colour, lustrous, well waxed; and the gentlemen
began real business with the bottle after the ladies had gone.

[Illustration: WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY]

Very little need be said about the Court. It was then in the hands
of a few families. It had no connection at all with the life of the
country, which went on as if there were no Court at all. It is strange
that in these fifty years of change the Court should have altered so
little. Now, as then, the Court neither attracts, nor attempts to
attract, any of the leaders in Art, Science, or Literature. Now, as
then, the Court is a thing apart from the life of the country. For the
best class of all, those who are continually advancing the country in
science, or keeping alight the sacred lamp of letters, who are its
scholars, architects, engineers, artists, poets, authors, journalists,
who are the merchant adventurers of modern times, who are the preachers
and teachers, the Court simply does not exist. One states the fact
without comment. But it should be stated, and it should be clearly
understood. _The whole of those men who in this generation maintain the
greatness of our country in the ways where alone greatness is desirable
or memorable, except in arms, the only men of this generation whose
memories will live and adorn the Victorian era, are strangers to the
Court._ It seems a great pity. An ideal Court should be the centre of
everything--Art, Letters, Science, all.

As for the rest of society--how the people had drums and routs
and balls; how they angled for husbands; how they were hollow and
unnatural, and so forth--you may read about it in the pages of
Thackeray. And I, for one, have never been able to understand how
Thackeray got his knowledge of these exclusive circles. Instead of
dancing at Almack’s he was taking his chop and stout at the Cock;
instead of gambling at Crockford’s he was writing ‘copy’ for any paper
which would take it. When and where did he meet Miss Newcome and Lady
Kew and Lord Steyne? Perhaps he wrote of them by intuition, as Disraeli
wrote the ‘Young Duke.’ ‘My son, sir,’ said the elder Disraeli proudly,
‘has never, I believe, even seen a Duke.’

One touch more. There is before me a beautiful, solemn work, one in
which the writer feels his responsibilities almost too profoundly. It
is on no less important a subject than Etiquette, containing Rules for
the Conduct of Life on the most grave and serious occasions. I permit
myself one or two extracts:--

‘Familiarity is the greatest vice of Society. When an acquaintance says
“My dear fellow,” cut him immediately.’

‘Never enter your own house without bowing to every one you may meet
there.’

‘Never ask a lady any questions about anything whatever.’

‘If you have drunk wine with every one at the table and wish for
more’--Heavens! More! And after drinking with every one at the
table!--‘wait till the cloth is removed.’

‘Never permit the sanctity of the drawing-room to be violated by a
Boot.’



CHAPTER VIII.

AT THE PLAY AND THE SHOW.


Fifty years ago the Theatre was, far more than at present, the
favourite amusement of the Londoners. It was a passion with them. They
did not go only to laugh and be pleased as we go now; they went as
critics; the pit preserves to this day a reputation, long since lost,
for critical power. A large number of the audience went to every new
performance of a stock piece in order to criticise. After the theatre
they repaired to the Albion or the Cock for supper, and to talk over
the performance. Fifty years ago there were about eighteen theatres,
for a London of two millions.[2]

    [2] The following were the London theatres in the year 1837:
        Her Majesty’s, formerly the King’s; Drury Lane, Covent
        Garden, the ‘Summer House,’ or Haymarket; the Lyceum,
        the Prince’s (now St. James’s), the Adelphi, the City of
        London (Norton Folgate), the Surrey, Astley’s, the Queen’s
        (afterwards the Prince of Wales’s), the Olympic, and the
        Strand, the Coburg (originally opened as the Victoria in
        1833), Sadler’s Wells, the Royal Pavilion, the Garrick, and
        the Clarence (now the King’s Cross).

These theatres were not open all the year round, but it was reckoned
that 20,000 people went every night to the theatre. There are now
thirty theatres at least open nearly the whole year round. I doubt if
there are many more than 20,000 at all of them together on an average
in one night. Yet London has doubled, and the visitors to London have
been multiplied by ten. It is by the visitors that the theatres are
kept up. The people of London have in great measure lost their taste
for the theatres, because they have gone to live in the suburbs. Who,
for instance, that lives in Hampstead and wishes to get up in good time
in the morning can take his wife often to the theatre? It takes an hour
to drive into town, the hour after dinner. The play is over at a little
after eleven; if he takes a cab, the driver is sulky at the thought of
going up the hill and getting back again without another fare; if he
goes and returns in a brougham, it doubles the expense. Formerly, when
everybody lived in town, they could walk. Again, the price of seats
has enormously gone up. Where there were two rows of stalls at the
same price as the dress circle--namely, four shillings--there are now
a dozen at the price of half a guinea. And it is very much more the
fashion to take the best places, so that the dress circle is no longer
the same highly respectable part of the house, while the upper boxes
are now ‘out of it’ altogether, and, as for the pit, no man knoweth
whether there be any pit still.

[Illustration: Jn. B Buckstone

-JOHN BALDWIN BUCKSTONE-]

Besides, there are so many more distractions; a more widely spread
habit of reading, more music, more art, more society, a fuller life.
The theatre was formerly--it is still to many--the only school of
conversation, wit, manners, and sentiment, the chief excitement which
took them out of their daily lives, the most delightful, the most
entrancing manner of spending the evening. If the theatre were the
same to the people of London as it used to be, the average attendance,
counting the visitors, would be not 20,000 but 120,000.

The reason why some of the houses were open for six months only was
that the Lord Chancellor granted a licence for that period only, except
to the patent houses. The Haymarket was a summer house, from April to
October; the Adelphi a winter house, from October to April.

The most fashionable of the houses was Her Majesty’s, where only
Italian Opera was performed. Everybody in society was obliged to have
a box for the season, for which sums were paid varying with the place
in the house and the rank and wealth of the tenant. Thus the old Duke
of Gloucester used to pay three hundred guineas for the season. On
levée days and drawing-rooms the fashionable world went to the Opera
in their Court dresses, feathers, and diamonds, and all--a very moving
spectacle. Those who only took a box in order to keep up appearances,
and because it was necessary for one in society to have a box, used to
sell seats--commonly called bones, because a round numbered bone was
the ticket of admission--to their friends; sometimes they let their
box for a single night, a month, or the whole season, by means of the
agents, so that, except for the honour of it, as the man said when the
bottom of his sedan-chair fell out, one might as well have had none at
all.

The prices of admission to the theatres were very much less than obtain
at the present day. At Drury Lane the boxes and stalls, of which there
were two or three rows only, were 7_s._ each; the pit was 3_s._ 6_d._,
the upper boxes 2_s._, and the gallery 1_s._ At Covent Garden, where
they were great at spectacle, with performing animals, the great Bunn
being lessee, the prices were lower, the boxes being 4_s._, the pit
2_s._, the upper boxes 1_s._ 6_d._, and gallery 1_s._ At the Haymarket
the boxes were 5_s._, the pit 3_s._, and the gallery 1_s._ 6_d._

[Illustration: LISTON AS ‘PAUL PRY’

(From a Drawing by George Cruikshank)]

The actors and actresses were many and good. At the Haymarket they
had Farren, Webster, Buckstone, Mrs. Glover, and Mrs. Humby. At the
Olympic, Elliston, Liston, and Madame Vestris. Helen Faucit made her
first appearance in 1835; Miss Fanny Kemble hers in 1830. Charles
Mathews, Harley, Macready, and Charles Kean were all playing. I hardly
think that in fifty years’ time so good a list will be made of actors
of the present day whose memory has lasted so long as those of 1837.
The salaries of actors and singers varied greatly, of course. Malibran
received 125_l._ a night, Charles Kean 50_l._ a night, Macready
30_l._ a week, Farren 20_l._ a week, and so on, down to the humble
chorister--they then called her a _figurante_--with her 12_s._ or
18_s._ a week.

[Illustration: T N Talfourd

-THOMAS NOON TALFOURD-]

As for the national drama, I suppose it had never before been in so
wretched a state. Talfourd’s play of ‘Ion’ was produced about this
time; but one good play--supposing ‘Ion’ to be a good play--is hardly
enough to redeem the character of the age. There were also tragedies
by Miss Mitford and Miss Baillie--strange that no woman has ever
written even a tolerable play--but these failed to keep the stage. One
Mr. Maturin, now dying out of recollection, also wrote tragedies. The
comedies and farces were written by Planché, Reynolds, Peake, Theodore
Hook, Dibdin, Leman Rede, Poole, Maddison Morton, and Moncrieff. A
really popular writer, we learn with envy and astonishment, would make
as much as 30_l._, or even 40_l._, by a good piece. Think of making
30_l._ or 40_l._ by a good piece at the theatre! Was not that noble
encouragement for the playwrights? Thirty pounds for one piece! It
takes one’s breath away. Would not Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Wills, and Mr.
George Sims be proud and happy men if they could get 30_l._--a whole
lump of 30_l._--for a single piece? We can imagine the tears of joy
running down their cheeks.

[Illustration: Charles Reade

-CHARLES READE-]

The decline of the drama was attributed by Räumer to the entire absence
of any protection for the dramatist. This is no doubt partly true; but
the dramatist was protected, to a certain extent, by the difficulty of
getting copies of his work. Shorthand writers used to try--they still
try--to take down, unseen, the dialogue. Generally, however, they
are detected in the act and desired to withdraw. As a rule, if the
dramatist did not print the plays, he was safe, except from treachery
on the part of the prompter. The low prices paid for dramatic work were
the chief causes of the decline--say, rather, the dreadful decay, dry
rot, and galloping consumption--of the drama fifty years ago. Who, for
instance, would ever expect good fiction to be produced if it was
rewarded at the rate of no more than 30_l._, or even 300_l._, a novel?
Great prizes are incentives for good work. Good craftsmen will no
longer work if the pay is bad; or, if they work at all, they will not
throw their hearts into the work. The great success of Walter Scott
was the cause why Dickens, Thackeray, George Eliot, Charles Reade, and
the many second-rate novelists chose fiction rather than the drama for
their energies. One or two of them, Dickens and Reade, for instance,
were always hankering after the stage. Had dramatists received the
same treatment in England as in France, many of these writers would
have seriously turned their attention to the theatre, and our modern
dramatic literature would have been as rich as our work in fiction. The
stage now offers a great fortune, a far greater fortune, won much more
swiftly than can be got by fiction, to those who succeed.

[Illustration: M. R. Mitford.

-MARY RUSSELL MITFORD-]

As for the pieces actually produced about this period, they were
chiefly adaptations from novels. Thus, we find ‘Esmeralda’ and
‘Quasimodo,’ two plays from Victor Hugo’s ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame;’
‘Lucillo,’ from ‘The Pilgrims of the Rhine,’ by Lytton; Bulwer, indeed,
was continually being dramatised; ‘Paul Clifford’ and ‘Rienzi,’ among
others, making their appearance on the stage. For other plays there
were ‘Zampa’ or ‘The Corsair,’ due to Byron; ‘The Waterman,’ ‘The
Irish Tutor,’ ‘My Poll and my Partner Joe,’ with T. P. Cooke, at the
Surrey Theatre. The comedy of the time is very well illustrated by
Lytton’s ‘Money,’ stagey and unreal. The scenery, dresses, and general
_mise-en-scène_ would now be considered contemptible.

[Illustration: T. P. COOKE IN ‘BLACK-EYED SUSAN’]

Apart from the Italian Opera, music was very well supported. There were
concerts in great numbers: the Philharmonic, the Vocal Society, and
the Royal Academy of Music gave their concerts at the King’s Ancient
Concert Rooms, Hanover Square. Willis’s Rooms were also used for music;
and the Cecilia Society gave its concerts in Moorgate Street.

[Illustration: Yours truly Walter Scott

-SIR WALTER SCOTT-]

There were many other shows, apart from the well-known sights of town.
Madame Tussaud’s Gallery in Baker Street, the Hippodrome at Bayswater,
the Colosseum, the Diorama in Regent’s Park, the Panorama in Leicester
Square--where you could see ‘Peru and the Andes, or the Village
engulfed by the Avalanche’--and the Panorama in Regent Street attracted
the less frivolous and those who came to town for the improvement of
their minds. For Londoners themselves there were the Vauxhall Gardens
first and foremost--the most delightful places of amusement that London
ever possessed except, perhaps, Belsize. Everybody went to Vauxhall;
those who were respectable and those who were not. Far more beautiful
than the electric lights in the Gardens of the ‘Colonies’ were the two
hundred thousand variegated oil lamps, festooned among the trees of
Vauxhall; there was to be found music, singing, acting, and dancing.
Hither came the gallant and golden youth from the West End; here were
seen sober and honest merchants with their wives and daughters; here
were ladies of doubtful reputation and ladies about whose reputation
there could be no doubt; here there were painted arbours where they
brought you the famous Vauxhall ham--‘sliced cobwebs;’ the famous
Vauxhall beef--‘book muslin, pickled and boiled;’ and the famous
Vauxhall punch--Heavens! how the honest folk did drink that punch!

[Illustration: VAUXHALL GARDENS]

I have before me an account of an evening spent at Vauxhall about
this time by an eminent drysalter of the City, his partner, a certain
Tom, and two ladies, the drysalter’s wife and his daughter Lydia; ‘a
laughter-loving lass of eighteen, who dearly loved a bit of gig.’ Do
you know, gentle reader, what is a ‘bit of gig’? This young lady laughs
at everything, and cries, ‘What a bit of gig!’ There was singing, of
course, and after the singing there were fireworks, and after the
fireworks an ascent on the rope. ‘The ascent on the rope, which Lydia
had never before witnessed, was to her particularly interesting. For
the first time during the evening she looked serious, and as the
mingled rays of the moon (then shining gloriously in the dark blue
heavens, attended by her twinkling handmaidens, the stars), which
ever and anon shot down as the rockets mounted upwards, mocking the
mimic pyrotechnia of man, and the flashes of red fire played upon her
beautiful white brow and ripe lips--blushing like a cleft cherry--we
thought for a moment that Tom was a happy blade. While we were gazing
on her fine face, her eye suddenly assumed its wonted levity, and she
exclaimed in a laughing tone--“Now, if the twopenny postman of the
rockets were to mistake one of the directions and deliver it among the
crowd so as to set fire to six or seven muslin dresses, what a bit of
gig it would be!”’

Another delightful place was the Surrey Zoological Gardens, which
occupied fifteen acres, and had a large lake in the middle, very useful
for fireworks and the showing off of the Mount Vesuvius they stuck
up on one side of it. The carnivorous animals were kept in a single
building, under a great glazed cupola, but the elephants, bears,
monkeys, &c., had separate buildings of their own. Flower shows,
balloon ascents, fireworks, and all kinds of exciting things went on at
the Surrey Zoo.

The Art Galleries opened every year, and, besides the National Gallery,
there were the Society of British Artists, the Exhibition of Water
Colours, and the British Institution in Pall Mall. At the Royal Academy
of 1837, Turner exhibited his ‘Juliet,’ Etty a ‘Psyche and Venus,’
Landseer a ‘Scene in Chillingham Park,’ Wilkie the ‘Peep o’ Day Boy’s
Cabin,’ and Roberts the ‘Chapel of Ferdinand and Isabella at Granada.’

There were Billiard Rooms, where a young man from the country who
prided himself upon his play could get very prettily handled. There
were Cigar Divans, but as yet only one or two, for the smoking of
cigars was a comparatively new thing--in fact, one who wrote in the
year 1829 thought it necessary to lay down twelve solemn rules for the
right smoking of a cigar; there were also Gambling Hells, of which more
anon.

Fifty years ago, in short, we amused ourselves very well. We were
fond of shows, and there were plenty of them; we liked an _al fresco_
entertainment, and we could have it; we were not quite so picksome in
the matter of company as we are now, and therefore we endured the loud
vulgarities of the tradesman and his family, and shut our eyes when
certain fashionably dressed ladies passed by showing their happiness by
the loudness of their laughter; we even sat with our daughter in the
very next box to that in which young Lord Tomnoddy was entertaining
these young ladies with cold chicken and pink champagne. It is, we
know, the privilege of rank to disregard morals in public as well as in
private. Then we had supper and a bowl of punch, and so home to bed.

Those who are acquainted with the doings of Corinthian Tom and Bob
Logic are acquainted with the Night Side of London as it was a few
years before 1837. Suffice it to say that it was far darker, far more
vicious, far more dangerous fifty years ago than it is now. Heaven
knows that we have a Night Side still, and a very ugly side it is, but
it is earlier by many hours than it used to be, and it is comparatively
free from gambling-houses, from bullies, blackmailers, and sharks.



CHAPTER IX.

IN THE HOUSE.


On November 20, 1837, the young Queen opened her first Parliament in
person. The day was brilliant with sunshine, the crowds from Buckingham
Palace to the House were immense, the House of Lords was crammed with
Peers and the gallery with Peeresses, who occupied every seat, and
even ‘rushed’ the reporters’ gallery, three reporters only having been
fortunate enough to take their places before the rush.[3]

    [3] I am indebted for the whole of this chapter to _Random
        Recollections of the Lords and Commons_, 1838.

[Illustration: THE ‘NEW’ HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT, FROM THE RIVER

(First stone laid 1840. Sir Charles Barry, architect)]

When Her Majesty arrived and had taken her place, there was the rush
from the Lower House.

‘Her Majesty having taken the oath against Popery, which she did in a
slow, serious, and audible manner, proceeded to read the Royal Speech;
and a specimen of more tasteful and effective elocution it has never
been my fortune to hear. Her voice is clear, and her enunciation
distinct in no ordinary degree. Her utterance is timed with admirable
judgment to the ear: it is the happy medium between too slow and too
rapid. Nothing could be more accurate than her pronunciation; while
the musical intonations of her voice imparted a peculiar charm to
the other attributes of her elocution. The most perfect stillness
reigned through the place while Her Majesty was reading her Speech.
Not a breath was to be heard: had a person, unblessed with the
power of vision, been suddenly taken within hearing of Her Majesty,
while she was reading her Speech, he might have remained some time
under the impression that there was no one present but herself. Her
self-possession was the theme of universal admiration.

[Illustration: Lyndhurst

-LORD LYNDHURST-]

‘In person Her Majesty is considerably below the average height. Her
figure is good; rather inclined, as far as one could judge from seeing
her in her robes of state, to the slender form. Every one who has seen
her must have been struck with her singularly fine bust. Her complexion
is clear, and has all the indications of excellent health about it. Her
features are small, and partake a good deal of the Grecian cast. Her
face, without being strikingly handsome, is remarkably pleasant, and is
indicative of a mild and amiable disposition.’

[Illustration: LORD MELBOURNE]

In the House of Lords the most prominent figures were, I suppose, those
of Lord Brougham and the Duke of Wellington. The debates in the Upper
House, enlivened by the former, and by Lords Melbourne, Lyndhurst, and
others, were lively and animated, compared with the languor of the
modern House. The Duke of Rutland, the Marquis of Bute, the Marquis
of Camden (who paid back into the Treasury every year the salary he
received as Teller of the Exchequer), the Earls of Stanhope, Devon,
Falmouth, Lords Strangford, Rolls, Alvanley, and Redesdale were the
leaders of the Conservatives. The Marquis of Sligo, the Marquis of
Northampton, the Earls of Rosebery, Gosford, Minto, Shrewsbury, and
Lichfield, Lords Lynedoch and Portman were the leaders of the Liberals.
With the exceptions of Wellington, Brougham, Melbourne, and Redesdale,
it is melancholy to consider that these illustrious names are nothing
more than names, and convey no associations to the present generation.

[Illustration: Wm. Cobbett.

-WILLIAM COBBETT-]

Among the members of the Lower House were many more who have left
behind them memories which are not likely to be soon forgotten. Sir
Robert Peel, Lord Stanley, Thomas Macaulay, Cobbett, Lord John
Russell, Sir John Cam Hobhouse, Lord Palmerston, Sir Francis Burdett,
Hume, Roebuck, O’Connell, Lytton Bulwer, Benjamin D’Israeli, and last
sole survivor, William Ewart Gladstone, were all in the Parliaments
immediately before or immediately after the Queen’s Accession.

[Illustration: THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY]

If you would like to know how these men impressed their contemporaries,
read the following extracts from Grant’s ‘Random Recollections.’

‘Mr. Thomas Macaulay, the late member for Leeds, and now a member of
Council in India, could boast of a brilliant, if not a very long
Parliamentary career. He was one of those men who at once raised
himself to the first rank in the Senate. His maiden speech electrified
the House, and called forth the highest compliments to the speaker from
men of all parties. He was careful to preserve the laurels he had thus
so easily and suddenly won. He was a man of shrewd mind, and knew that
if he spoke often, the probability was he would not speak so well;
and that consequently there could be no more likely means of lowering
him from the elevated station to which he had raised himself, than
frequently addressing the House.

[Illustration: LORD PALMERSTON]

[Illustration: BURDETT, HUME, AND O’CONNELL

(From a Drawing by HB.)]

‘His speeches were always most carefully studied, and committed
to memory, exactly as he delivered them, beforehand. He bestowed
a world of labour on their preparation; and, certainly, never was
labour bestowed to more purpose. In every sentence you saw the man of
genius--the profound scholar--the deep thinker--the close and powerful
reasoner. You scarcely knew which most to admire--the beauty of his
ideas, or of the language in which they were clothed.’

‘Lord John Russell is one of the worst speakers in the House, and
but for his excellent private character, his family connections,
and his consequent influence in the political world, would not be
tolerated. There are many far better speakers, who, notwithstanding
their innumerable efforts to catch the Speaker’s eye in the course of
important debates, hardly ever succeed; or, if they do, are generally
put down by the clamour of honourable members. His voice is weak and
his enunciation very imperfect. He speaks in general in so low a tone
as to be inaudible to more than one-half of the House. His style is
often in bad taste, and he stammers and stutters at every fourth or
fifth sentence. When he is audible he is always clear; there is no
mistaking his meaning. Generally his speeches are feeble in matter as
well as manner; but on some great occasions I have known him make very
able speeches, more distinguished, however, for the clear and forcible
way in which he put the arguments which would most naturally suggest
themselves to a reflecting mind, than for any striking or comprehensive
views of the subject.’

[Illustration: J Russell

-LORD JOHN RUSSELL-]

‘Of Lord Palmerston, Foreign Secretary, and member for Tiverton, I have
but little to say. The situation he fills in the Cabinet gives him
a certain degree of prominence in the eyes of the country, which
he certainly does not possess in Parliament. His talents are by no
means of a high order. He is very irregular in his attendance on his
Parliamentary duties, and, when in the House, is by no means active
in defence either of his principles or his friends. Scarcely anything
calls him up except a regular attack on himself, or on the way in which
the department of the public service with which he is entrusted is
administered.

‘In person, Lord Palmerston is tall and handsome. His face is round,
and is of a darkish hue. His hair is black, and always exhibits proofs
of the skill and attention of the _perruquier_. His clothes are in the
extreme of fashion. He is very vain of his personal appearance, and
is generally supposed to devote more of his time in sacrificing to
the Graces than is consistent with the duties of a person who has so
much to do with the destinies of Europe. Hence it is that the “Times”
newspaper has fastened on him the _sobriquet_ of Cupid.’

‘Mr. O’Connell is a man of the highest order of genius. There is not
a member in the House who, in this respect, can for a moment be put
in comparison with him. You see the greatness of his genius in almost
every sentence he utters. There are others--Sir Robert Peel, for
example--who have much more tact and greater dexterity in debate; but
in point of genius none approach to him. It ever and anon bursts forth
with a brilliancy and effect which are quite overwhelming. You have not
well recovered from the overpowering surprise and admiration caused
by one of his brilliant effusions, when another flashes upon you and
produces the same effect. You have no time, nor are you in a condition,
to weigh the force of his arguments; you are taken captive wherever the
speaker chooses to lead you from beginning to end.’

[Illustration: DANIEL O’CONNELL]

[Illustration: O’CONNELL TAKING THE OATHS IN THE HOUSE

(From a Drawing by ‘Phiz’ in ‘Sketches in London’)]

‘One of the most extraordinary attributes in Mr. O’Connell’s oratory
is the ease and facility with which he can make a transition from one
topic to another. “From grave to gay, from lively to severe,” never
costs him an effort. He seems, indeed, to be himself insensible of the
transition. I have seen him begin his speech by alluding to topics
of an affecting nature, in such a manner as to excite the deepest
sympathy towards the sufferers in the mind of the most unfeeling
person present. I have seen, in other words--I speak with regard to
particular instances--the tear literally glistening in the eyes of men
altogether unused to the melting mood, and in a moment afterwards, by
a transition from the grave to the humorous, I have seen the whole
audience convulsed with laughter. On the other hand, I have often heard
him commence his speech in a strain of most exquisite humour, and, by
a sudden transition to deep pathos, produce the stillness of death
in a place in which, but one moment before, the air was rent with
shouts of laughter. His mastery over the passions is the most perfect I
ever witnessed, and his oratory tells with the same effect whether he
addresses the “first assembly of gentlemen in the world,” or the ragged
and ignorant rabble of Dublin.’

‘The most distinguished literary man in the House is Mr. E. L. Bulwer,
member for Lincoln, and author of “Pelham,” “Eugene Aram,” &c. He does
not speak often. When he does, his speeches are not only previously
turned over with great care in his mind, but are written out at full
length, and committed carefully to memory. He is a great patron of
the tailor, and he is always dressed in the extreme of fashion. His
manner of speaking is very affected: the management of his voice is
especially so. But for this he would be a pleasant speaker. His voice,
though weak, is agreeable, and he speaks with considerable fluency. His
speeches are usually argumentative. You see at once that he is a person
of great intellectual acquirements.’

[Illustration: E L Bulwer

-EDWARD LYTTON BULWER-]

‘Mr. D’Israeli, the member for Maidstone, is perhaps the best known
among the new members who have made their _débuts_. As stated in my
“Sketches in London,” his own private friends looked forward to his
introduction into the House of Commons as a circumstance which would
be immediately followed by his obtaining for himself an oratorical
reputation equal to that enjoyed by the most popular speakers in that
assembly. They thought he would produce an extraordinary sensation,
both in the House and in the country, by the power and splendour of his
eloquence. But the result differed from the anticipation.

‘When he rose, which he did immediately after Mr. O’Connell had
concluded his speech, all eyes were fixed on him, and all ears were
open to listen to his eloquence; but before he had proceeded far, he
furnished a striking illustration of the hazard that attends on highly
wrought expectations. After the first few minutes he met with every
possible manifestation of opposition and ridicule from the Ministerial
benches, and was, on the other hand, cheered in the loudest and most
earnest manner by his Tory friends; and it is particularly deserving
of mention, that even Sir Robert Peel, who very rarely cheers any
honourable gentleman, not even the most able and accomplished speakers
of his own party, greeted Mr. D’Israeli’s speech with a prodigality of
applause which must have been severely trying to the worthy baronet’s
lungs.

‘At one time, in consequence of the extraordinary interruptions he met
with, Mr. D’Israeli intimated his willingness to resume his seat, if
the House wished him to do so. He proceeded, however, for a short time
longer, but was still assailed by groans and under-growls in all their
varieties; the uproar, indeed, often became so great as completely to
drown his voice.

‘At last, losing all temper, which until now he had preserved in a
wonderful manner, he paused in the midst of a sentence, and, looking
the Liberals indignantly in the face, raised his hands, and, opening
his mouth as wide as its dimensions would permit, said, in remarkably
loud and almost terrific tones--“Though I sit down now, _the time will
come when you will hear me_.” Mr. D’Israeli then sat down amidst the
loudest uproar.

‘The exhibition altogether was a most extraordinary one. Mr.
D’Israeli’s appearance and manner were very singular. His dress also
was peculiar; it had much of a theatrical aspect. His black hair was
long and flowing, and he had a most ample crop of it. His gesture
was abundant; he often appeared as if trying with what celerity he
could move his body from one side to another, and throw his hands out
and draw them in again. At other times he flourished one hand before
his face, and then the other. His voice, too, is of a very unusual
kind: it is powerful, and had every justice done to it in the way
of exercise; but there is something peculiar in it which I am at a
loss to characterise. His utterance was rapid, and he never seemed
at a loss for words. On the whole, and notwithstanding the result of
his first attempt, I am convinced he is a man who possesses many of
the requisites of a good debater. That he is a man of great literary
talent, few will dispute.’

Lastly, here is a contemporary judgment on Gladstone. The italics are
my own.

[Illustration: B D’Israeli

-BENJAMIN D’ISRAELI-]

‘Mr. Gladstone, the member for Newark, is one of the most rising young
men on the Tory side of the House. His party expect great things from
him; and certainly, when it is remembered that his age is only
twenty-five, the success of the Parliamentary efforts he has already
made justifies their expectations. He is well informed on most of
the subjects which usually occupy the attention of the Legislature,
and he is happy in turning his information to a good account. He is
ready, on all occasions which he deems fitting ones, _with a speech
in favour of the policy advocated by the party with whom he acts_.
His extemporaneous resources are ample. Few men in the House can
improvisate better. It does not appear to cost him an effort to speak.
He is a man of very considerable talent, but _has nothing approaching
to genius_. His abilities are much more the result of an excellent
education, and of mature study, than of any prodigality on the part of
Nature in the distribution of mental gifts. _I have no idea that he
will ever acquire the reputation of a great statesman._ His views are
not sufficiently profound or enlarged for that; his celebrity in the
House of Commons _will chiefly depend on his readiness and dexterity
as a debater, in conjunction with the excellence of his elocution_,
and the gracefulness of his manner when speaking. His style is
polished, but has no appearance of the effect of previous preparation.
He displays considerable acuteness in replying to an opponent; he is
quick in his perception of anything vulnerable in the speech to which
he replies, and happy in laying the weak point bare to the gaze of the
House. He now and then indulges in sarcasm, which is, in most cases,
very felicitous. _He is plausible even when most in error._ When it
suits himself or his party, he can apply himself with the strictest
closeness to the real point at issue; _when to evade that point is
deemed most politic, no man can wander from it more widely_.

‘_The ablest speech he ever made in the House_, and by far the ablest
on the same side of the question, was when _opposing_, on the 30th of
March last, Sir George Strickland’s _motion for the abolition of the
negro apprenticeship system_ on the 1st of August next. Mr. Gladstone,
I should here observe, is himself an extensive West India planter.

‘Mr. Gladstone’s appearance and manners are much in his favour. He is
a fine-looking man. He is about the usual height, and of good figure.
His countenance is mild and pleasant, and has a highly intellectual
expression. His eyes are clear and quick. His eyebrows are dark and
rather prominent. There is not a dandy in the House but envies what
Truefitt would call his ‘fine head of jet-black hair.’ It is always
carefully parted from the crown downwards to his brow, where it
is tastefully shaded. His features are small and regular, and his
complexion must be a very unworthy witness, if he does not possess an
abundant stock of health.’

So the ghost of the first Victorian Parliament vanishes. All are gone
except Mr. Gladstone himself. Whether the contemporary judgment has
proved well founded or not, is for the reader to determine. For my own
part, I confess that my opinion of the author of ‘Random Recollections’
was greatly advanced when I had read this judgment on the members. We
who do not sit in the galleries, and are not members, lose the enormous
advantage of actually seeing the speakers and hearing the debates. The
reported speech is not the real speech; the written letter remains; but
the fire of the orator flames and burns, and passes away. Those know
not Gladstone who have never seen him and heard him speak.

And as for that old man eloquent, when he closes his eyes in the House
where he has fought so long, the voices around him may well fall
unheeded on his ear, while a vision of the past shows him once more
Peel and Stanley, Lord John and Palmerston, O’Connell and Roebuck, and,
adversary worthiest of all, the man whom the House at his first attempt
hooted down and refused to hear--the great and illustrious Dizzy.



CHAPTER X.

AT SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY.


The great schools had no new rivals; all the modern public
schools--Cheltenham, Clifton, Marlborough, and the like--have sprung
into existence or into importance since the year 1837. Those who did
not go to the public schools had their choice between small grammar
schools and private schools. There were a vast number of private
schools. It was, indeed, recognised that when a man could do nothing
else and had failed in everything that he had tried, a private school
was still possible for him. The sons of the lower middle-class had,
as a rule, no choice but to go to a private school. At the grammar
school they taught Greek and Latin--these boys wanted no Greek and no
Latin; they wanted a good ‘commercial’ education; they wanted to learn
bookkeeping and arithmetic, and to write a good hand. Nothing else was
of much account. Again, all the grammar schools belonged to the Church
of England; sons of Nonconformists were, therefore, excluded, and had
to go to the private school.

The man who kept a private school was recommended for his cheapness
as much as for his success in teaching. As for the latter, indeed,
there were no local examinations held by the Universities, and no means
of showing whether he taught well or ill. Probably, in the five or
six years spent at his school, boys learned what their parents mostly
desired for them, and left school to become clerks or shopmen. The
school fees were sometimes as low as a guinea a quarter. The classes
were taught by wretchedly paid ushers; there was no attention paid to
ventilation or hygienic arrangements; the cane was freely used all day
long. Everybody knows the kind of school; you can read about it in the
earlier pages of ‘David Copperfield,’ and in a thousand books besides.

In the public schools, where the birch flourished rank and tall and in
tropical luxuriance, Latin and Greek were the only subjects to which
any serious attention was given. No science was taught; of modern
languages, French was pretended; history and geography were neglected;
mathematics were a mere farce. As regards the tone of the schools,
perhaps we had better not inquire. Yet that the general life of the
boys was healthy is apparent from the affection with which elderly
men speak of their old schools. There were great Head Masters before
Arnold; and there were public schools where manliness, truth, and
purity were cultivated besides Rugby. One thing is very certain--that
the schools turned out splendid scholars, and their powers of writing
Latin and Greek verse were wonderful. A year ago we were startled by
learning that a girl had taken a First Class in the Classical Tripos at
Cambridge. This, to some who remembered the First Class of old, seemed
a truly wonderful thing. Some even wanted to see her iambics. Alas! a
First Class can now be got without Greek iambics. What would they have
said at Westminster fifty years ago if they had learned that a First
Class could be got at Cambridge without Greek or Latin verse? What is
philology, which can be crammed, compared with a faultless copy of
elegiacs, which no amount of cramming, even of the female brain, can
succeed in producing?

The Universities were still wholly in the hands of the Church. No
layman, with one or two exceptions, could be Head of a College; all the
Fellowships--or very nearly all--were clerical; the country living was
the natural end of the Fellowship; no Dissenters, Jews, or Catholics
were admitted into any College unless they went through the form of
conforming to the rules as regards Chapel; no one could be matriculated
without signing the Thirty-nine Articles--nearly twenty years later
I had, as a lad of seventeen, to sign that unrelenting definition of
Faith on entering King’s College, London. Perhaps they do it still at
that seat of orthodoxy. Tutors and lecturers were nearly all in orders.
Most of the men intended to take orders, many of them in order to take
family livings.

The number of undergraduates was about a third of that now standing on
the College books. And the number of reading men--those who intended to
make their University career a stepping-stone or a ladder--was far less
in proportion to the number of ‘poll’ men than at the present day. The
ordinary degree was obtained with even less difficulty than at present.

There were practically only two Triposes at Cambridge--the Mathematical
and the Classical--instead of the round dozen or so which now offer
their honours to the student. No one could get a Fellowship except
through those two Triposes. As for the Fellowships and Scholarships,
indeed, half of them were close--that is to say, confined to students
from certain towns, or certain counties, or certain schools; while at
one College, King’s, both Fellowships and Scholarships were confined to
‘collegers’ of Eton, and the students proceeded straight to Fellowships
without passing through the ordeal of the Senate House.

Dinner was at four--a most ungodly hour, between lunch and the proper
hour for dinner. For the men who read, it answered pretty well, because
it gave them a long evening for work; for the men who did not read, it
gave a long evening for play.

There was a great deal of solid drinking among the men, both Fellows
and undergraduates. The former sat in Combination Room after Hall and
drank the good old College port; the latter sat in each other’s rooms
and drank the fiery port which they bought in the town. In the evening
there were frequent suppers, with milk-punch and songs. I wonder if
they have the milk-punch still; the supper I think they cannot have,
because they all dine at seven or half-past seven, after which it is
impossible to take supper.

In those days young noblemen went up more than they do at present,
and they spread themselves over many colleges. Thus at Cambridge
they were found at Trinity, John’s, and Magdalene. A certain Cabinet
thirty years ago had half its members on the books of St. John’s. In
these days all the noblemen who go to Cambridge flock like sheep to
Trinity. There seems also to have been gathered at the University a
larger proportion of county people than in these later years, when
the Universities have not only been thrown open to men of all creeds,
but when men of every class find in their rich endowments and prizes
a legitimate and laudable way of rising in the world. ‘The recognised
way of making a gentleman now,’ says Charles Kingsley in ‘Alton
Locke,’ ‘is to send him to the University.’ I do not know how Charles
Kingsley was made a gentleman, but it is certainly a very common method
of advancing your son if he is clever. Formerly it meant ambition
in the direction of the Church. Now it means many other things--the
Bar--Journalism--Education--Science--Archæeology--a hundred ways in
which a ‘gentleman’ may be made by first becoming a scholar. Nay, there
are dozens of men in the City who have begun by taking their three
years on the banks of the Cam or the Isis. For what purposes do the
Universities exist but for the encouragement of learning? And if the
country agree to call a scholar a gentleman--as it calls a solicitor
a gentleman--by right of his profession, so much the better for the
country. But Kingsley was born somewhere about the year 1820, which was
still very much in the eighteenth century, when there were no gentlemen
recognised except those who were gentlemen by birth.

With close Fellowships, tied to the Church of England, with little or
no science, Art, archæology, philology, Oriental learning, or any of
the modern branches of learning, with a strong taste for port, and
undergraduates drawn for the most part from the upper classes, the
Universities were different indeed from those of the present day.

As for the education of women, it was like unto the serpents of
Ireland. Wherefore we need not devote a chapter to this subject at all.



CHAPTER XI.

THE TAVERN.


The substitution of the Restaurant for the Tavern is of recent origin.
In the year 1837 there were restaurants, it is true, but they were
humble places, and confined to the parts of London frequented by the
French; for English of every degree there was the Tavern. Plenty of the
old Taverns still survive to show us in what places our fathers took
their dinners and drank their punch. The Cheshire Cheese is a survival;
the Cock, until recently, was another. Some of them, like the latter,
had the tables and benches partitioned off; others, like the former,
were partly open and partly divided. The floor was sanded; there was a
great fire kept up all through the winter, with a kettle always full
of boiling water; the cloth was not always of the cleanest; the forks
were steel; in the evening there was always a company of those who
supped--for they dined early--on chops, steaks, sausages, oysters, and
Welsh rabbit, of those who drank, those who smoked their long pipes,
and those who sang. Yes--those who sang. In those days the song went
round. If three or four Templars supped at the Coal Hole, or the
Cock, or the Rainbow, one of them would presently lift his voice in
song, and then be followed by a rival warbler from another box. At the
Coal Hole, indeed--where met the once famous Wolf Club, Edmund Kean,
President--the landlord, one Rhodes by name, was not only a singer but
a writer of songs, chiefly, I apprehend, of the comic kind. I suppose
that the comic song given by a private gentleman in character--that is,
with a pocket-handkerchief for a white apron, or his coat off, or a
battered hat on his head--is almost unknown to the younger generation.
They see the kind of thing, but done much better, at the music-halls.

[Illustration: EDMUND KEAN AS RICHARD THE THIRD]

Really, nothing marks the change of manners more than the fact that
fifty years ago men used to meet together every evening and sing songs
over their pipes and grog. Not young men only, but middle-aged men,
and old men, would all together join in the chorus, and that joyfully,
banging the tables with their fists, and laughing from ear to ear--the
roysterers are always represented as laughing with an absence of
restraint impossible for us quite to understand. The choruses, too,
were of the good old ‘Whack-fol-de-rol-de-rido’ character, which gives
scope to so much play of sentiment and lightness of touch.

[Illustration: OLD ENTRANCE TO THE COCK, FLEET STREET]

Beer, of course, was the principal beverage, and there were many more
varieties of beer than at present prevail. One reads of ‘Brook clear
Kennett’--it used to be sold in a house near the Oxford Street end of
Tottenham Court Road; of Shropshire ale, described as ‘dark and heavy;’
of the ‘luscious Burton, innocent of hops;’ of new ale, old ale, bitter
ale, hard ale, soft ale, the ‘balmy’ Scotch, mellow October, and good
brown stout. All these were to be obtained at taverns which made a
_spécialité_ as they would say now, of any one kind. Thus the best
stout in London was to be had at the Brace Tavern in the Queen’s Bench
Prison, and the Cock was also famous for the same beverage, served in
pint glasses. A rival of the Cock, in this respect, was the Rainbow,
long before the present handsome room was built. The landlord of the
Rainbow was one William Colls, formerly head-waiter at the Cock,
predecessor, I take it, of Tennyson’s immortal friend. But he left the
Cock to better himself, and as at the same time Mary--the incomparable,
the matchless Mary, most beautiful of barmaids--left it as well, gloom
fell upon the frequenters of the tavern. Mary left the Cock about
the year 1820, too early for the future Poet Laureate to have been
one of the worshippers of her Grecian face. Under Colls’s management
the Rainbow rivalled the Cock in popularity. The Cider Cellar, kept
by Evans of Covent Garden, had gone through a period of decline, but
was again popular and well frequented. Mention may also be made of
Clitter’s, of Offley’s, famous for its lamb in spring; of the Kean’s
Head, whose landlord was a great comic singer; of the Harp, haunt
of aspiring actors; of the Albion, the Finish, or the Royal Saloon,
Piccadilly, where one looked in for a ‘few goes of max’--what was
max?--in the very worst company that London could supply.

It is the fashion to lament the quantity of money still consumed in
drink. But our drink-bill is nothing, in proportion, compared with
that of fifty years ago. Thus, the number of visitors to fourteen
great gin-shops in London was found to average 3,000 each per diem; in
Edinburgh there was a gin-shop for every fifteen families; in one Irish
town of 800 people there were eighty-eight gin-shops; in Sheffield,
thirteen persons were killed in ten days by drunkenness; in London
there was one public-house to every fifty-six houses; in Glasgow one to
every ten. Yet it was noted at the time that a great improvement could
be observed in the drinking habits of the people. In the year 1742,
for instance, there were 19,000,000 gallons of spirits consumed by a
population of 6,000,000--that is to say, more than three gallons a head
every year; or, if we take only the adult men, something like twelve
gallons for every man in the year, which may be calculated to mean
one bottle in five days. But a hundred years later the population had
increased to 16,000,000, and the consumption of spirits had fallen to
8,250,000 gallons, which represents a little more than half a gallon,
or four pints, a head in the year. Or, taking the adult men only,
their average was two gallons and one sixteenth a head, so that each
man’s pint bottle would have lasted him for three weeks. In Scotland,
however, the general average was twenty-seven pints a head, and, taking
adults alone, thirteen gallons and a half a head; and in Ireland six
and a half gallons a head. It was noted, also, in the year 1837, that
the multiplication of coffee-houses, of which there were 1,600 in
London alone, proved the growth of more healthy habits among the people.

But though there was certainly more moderation in drink than in the
earlier years of the century, the drink-bill for the year 1837 was
prodigious. A case of total abstinence was a phenomenon. The thirst
for beer was insatiable; with many people, especially farmers, and
the working classes generally, beer was taken with breakfast. Even
in my own time--that is to say, when the Queen had been reigning for
one-and-twenty years or so--there were still many undergraduates
at Cambridge who drank beer habitually for breakfast, and at every
breakfast-party the tankard was passed round as a finish. In country
houses, the simple, light, home-brewed ale, the preparation of which
caused a most delightful anxiety as to the result, was the sole
beverage used at dinner and supper. Every farmhouse, every large
country house, and many town house keepers brewed their own beer,
just as they made their own wines, their own jams, and their own
lavender water. Beer was universally taken with dinner; even at great
dinner-parties some of the guests would call for beer, and strong ale
was always served with the cheese. After dinner, only port and sherry,
in middle-class houses, were put upon the table. Sometimes Madeira or
Lisbon appeared, but, as a rule, wine meant port or sherry, unless,
which sometimes happened, it meant cowslip, ginger, or gooseberry.
Except among the upper class, claret was absolutely unknown, as were
Burgundy, Rhone wines, Sauterne, and all other French wines. In
the restaurants every man would call for bitter ale, or stout, or
half-and-half with his dinner, as a matter of course, and after dinner
would either take his pint of port, or half-pint of sherry, or his
tumbler of grog. Champagne was regarded as the drink of the prodigal
son. In the family circle it never appeared at all, except at weddings,
and perhaps on Christmas Day.

In fact, when people spoke of wine in these days, they generally meant
port. They bought port by the hogshead, had it bottled, and laid down.
They talked about their cellars solemnly; they brought forth bottles
which had been laid down in the days when George the Third was king;
they were great on body, bouquet, and beeswing; they told stories about
wonderful port which they had been privileged to drink; they looked
forward to a dinner chiefly on account of the port which followed it;
real enjoyment only began when the cloth was removed, the ladies were
gone, and the solemn passage of the decanter had commenced.

There lingers still the old love for this wine--it is, without doubt,
the king of wines. I remember ten years ago, or thereabouts, dining
with one--then my partner--now, alas! gathered to his fathers--at
the Blue Posts, before that old inn was burned down. The room was a
comfortable old-fashioned first floor, low of ceiling; with a great
fire in an old-fashioned grate; set with four or five tables only,
because not many frequented this most desirable of dining-places. We
took with dinner a bottle of light claret; when we had got through the
claret and the beef, the waiter, who had been hovering about uneasily,
interposed. ‘Don’t drink any more of that wash,’ he said; ‘let me bring
you something fit for gentlemen to sit over.’ He brought us, of course,
a bottle of port. They say that the taste for port is reviving; but
claret has got so firm a hold of our affections that I doubt it.

As for the drinking of spirits, it was certainly much more common then
than it is now. Among the lower classes gin was the favourite--the
drink of the women as much as of the men. Do you know why they call it
‘blue ruin’? Some time ago I saw, going into a public-house, somewhere
near the West India Docks, a tall lean man, apparently five-and-forty
or thereabouts. He was in rags; his knees bent as he walked, his hands
trembled, his eyes were eager. And, wonderful to relate, the face was
perfectly blue--not indigo blue, or azure blue, but of a ghostly,
ghastly, corpse-like kind of blue, which made one shudder. Said my
companion to me, ‘That is gin.’ We opened the door of the public-house
and looked in. He stood at the bar with a full glass in his hand. Then
his eyes brightened, he gasped, straightened himself, and tossed it
down his throat. Then he came out, and he sighed as one who has just
had a glimpse of some earthly Paradise. Then he walked away with swift
and resolute step, as if purposed to achieve something mighty. Only
a few yards farther along the road, but across the way, there stood
another public-house. The man walked straight to the door, entered, and
took another glass, again with the quick grasp of anticipation, and
again with that sigh, as of a hurried peep through the gates barred
with the sword of fire. This man was a curious object of study. He went
into twelve more public-houses, each time with greater determination on
his lips and greater eagerness in his eyes. The last glass, I suppose,
opened these gates for him and suffered him to enter, for his lips
suddenly lost their resolution, his eyes lost their lustre, he became
limp, his arms fell heavily--he was drunk, and his face was bluer than
ever.

This was the kind of sight which Hogarth could see every day when
he painted ‘Gin Lane.’ It was in the time when drinking-shops had
placards stuck outside to the effect that for a penny one might get
drunk, and blind drunk for twopence. But an example of a ‘blue ruin,’
actually walking in the flesh, in these days one certainly does not
expect to see. Next to gin, rum was the most popular. There is a
full rich flavour about rum. It is affectionately named after the
delicious pineapple, or after the island where its production is the
most abundant and the most kindly. It has always been the drink of Her
Majesty’s Navy; it is still the favourite beverage of many West India
Islands, and many millions of sailors, niggers, and coolies. It is
hallowed by historical associations. But its effects in the good old
days were wonderful and awe-inspiring. It was the author and creator of
those flowers, now almost extinct, called grog-blossoms. You may see
them depicted by the caricaturists of the Rowlandson time, but they
survived until well past the middle of the century.

The outward and visible signs of rum were indeed various. First, there
was the red and swollen nose; next, the nose beautifully painted
with grog-blossoms. It is an ancient nose, and is celebrated by the
bacchanalian poet of Normandy, Olivier Basselin, in the fifteenth
century. There was, next, the bottle nose in all its branches. I am
uncertain, never having walked the hospitals, whether one is justified
in classifying certain varieties of the bottle nose under one head, or
whether each variety was a species by itself. All these noses, with the
red and puffy cheeks, the thick lips, the double chins, the swelling,
aldermanic corporation, and the gouty feet, in list and slippers, meant
Rum--Great God Rum. These symptoms are no longer to be seen. Therefore,
Great God Rum is either deposed, or he hath but few worshippers, and
those half-hearted.

The decay of the Great God Rum, and the Great Goddess Gin his consort,
is marked in many other ways. Formerly, the toper half filled a thick,
short rummer with spirit, and poured upon it an equal quantity of
water. Mr. Weller’s theory of drink was that it should be equal. The
modern toper goes to a bar, gets half a wineglass of Scotch whisky, and
pours upon it a pint of Apollinaris water. The ancient drank his grog
hot, with lemon and sugar, and sometimes spice. This made a serious
business of the nightly grog. The modern takes his cold, even with
ice, and without any addition of lemon. Indeed, he squashes his lemon
separately, and drinks the juice in Apollinaris, without any spirit at
all--a thing abhorrent to his ancestor.

Again, there are preparations of a crafty and cryptic character, once
greatly in favour, and now clean forgotten, or else fallen into a
pitiable contempt, and doomed to a stumbling, halt, and broken-winged
existence. Take, for instance, the punch-bowl. Fifty years ago it was
no mere ornament for the sideboard and the china cabinet. It was a
thing to be brought forth and filled with a fragrant mixture of rum,
brandy, and curaçoa, lemon, hot water, sugar, grated nutmeg, cloves,
and cinnamon. The preparation of the bowl was as much a labour of love
as that of a claret cup, its degenerate successor. The ladles were
beautiful works of art in silver--where are those ladles now, and what
purpose do they serve? Shrub, again--rum shrub--is there any living
man who now calls for shrub? You may still see it on the shelf of an
old-fashioned inn; you may even see the announcement that it is for
sale painted on door-posts, but no man regardeth it. I believe that
it was supposed to possess valuable medicinal properties, the nature
of which I forget. Again, there was purl--early purl. Once there was
a club in the neighbourhood of Covent Garden, which existed for the
purpose of arising betimes, and drinking purl before breakfast. Or
there was dog’s-nose. Gentle reader, you remember the rules for making
dog’s-nose. They were explained at a now famous meeting of the Brick
Lane Branch of the Grand Junction Ebenezer Temperance Association.
Yet I doubt whether dog’s-nose is still in favour. Again, there was
copus--is the making of copus-cup still remembered? There was bishop:
it was a kind of punch, made of port wine instead of rum, and was
formerly much consumed at the suppers of undergraduates; it was
remarkable for its power of making men’s faces red and their voices
thick; it also made them feel as if their legs and arms, and every
part of them, were filled out and distended, as with twice the usual
quantity of blood. These were, no doubt, valuable qualities, considered
medicinally, yet bishop is no longer in demand. Mulled ale is still,
perhaps, cultivated. They used to have pots made for the purpose of
warming the ale: these were long and shaped like an extinguisher, so
that the heat of the fire played upon a large surface, and warmed the
beer quickly. When it was poured out, spice was added, and perhaps
sugar, and no doubt a dash of brandy. Negus, a weak compound of sherry
and warm water, used to be exhibited at dancing parties, but is now,
I should think, unknown save by name. I do not speak of currant gin,
damson brandy, or cherry brandy, because one or two such preparations
are still produced. Nor need we consider British wines, now almost
extinct. Yet in country towns one may here and there find shops
where they provide for tastes still simple--the cowslip, delicate and
silky to the palate; the ginger, full of flavour and of body; the red
currant, rich and sweet--a ladies’ wine; the gooseberry, possessing
all the finer qualities of the grape of Epernay; the raisin, with fine
Tokay flavour; or the raspberry, full of bouquet and of beeswing. But
their day is passed--the British wines are, practically, made no more.
All these drinks, once so lovingly prepared and so tenderly cherished,
are now as much forgotten as the toast in the nut-brown ale, or the
October humming ale, or the mead drunk from the gold-rimmed horn--they
still drink something out of a gold-rimmed horn in the Hall of Corpus
Christi, Cambridge; or the lordly ‘ypocras’ wherewith Sir Richard
Whittington entertained his Sovereign, what day he concluded the
banquet by burning the King’s bonds; or the once-popular mixture of gin
and noyau; or the cup of hot saloop from the stall in Covent Garden, or
on the Fleet Bridge.

[Illustration: THE OLD TABARD INN, HIGH STREET, SOUTHWARK]

The Tavern! We can hardly understand how large a place it filled in the
lives of our forefathers, who did not live scattered about in suburban
villas, but over their shops and offices. When business was over, all
of every class repaired to the Tavern. Dr. Johnson spent the evenings
of his last years wholly at the Tavern; the lawyer, the draper, the
grocer, the bookseller, even the clergy, all spent their evenings at
the Tavern, going home in time for supper with their families. You
may see the kind of Tavern life in any small country town to this
day, where the shopkeepers assemble every evening to smoke and talk
together. The Tavern was far more than a modern club, because the
tendency of a club is to become daily more decorous, while the Tavern
atmosphere of freedom and the equality of all comers prevented the
growth of artificial and conventional restraints. Something of the
Tavern life is left still in London; but not much. The substantial
tradesman is no longer resident; there are no longer any clubs which
meet at Taverns; and the old inns, with their sanded floors and great
fireplaces, are nearly all gone. The Swan with Two Necks, the Belle
Sauvage, the Tabard, the George and Vulture, the Bolt-in-Tun--they
have either ceased their existence, or their names call forth no more
associations of good company and good songs. The Dog and Duck, the
Temple of Flora, Apollo’s Gardens, the Bull in the Pound, the Blue Lion
of Gray’s Inn Lane--what memories linger round these names? What man is
now living who can tell us where they were?

[Illustration: SIGN OF THE SWAN WITH TWO NECKS, CARTER LANE]

[Illustration: SIGN OF THE BOLT-IN-TUN, FLEET STREET]



CHAPTER XII.

IN CLUB- AND CARD-LAND.


Club-land was a comparatively small country, peopled by a most
exclusive race. There were twenty-five clubs in all,[4] and, as many
men had more than one club, and the average membership was less than a
thousand, there were not more than 20,000 men altogether who belonged
to clubs. There are now at least 120,000, with nearly a hundred clubs,
to which almost any man might belong. Besides these, there are now
about sixty second-class clubs, together with a great many clubs which
exist for special purposes--betting and racing clubs, whist clubs,
gambling clubs, Press clubs, and so forth.

    [4] The following is the complete list of clubs, taken from the
        _New Monthly Magazine_ of the year 1835:--Albion, Alfred,
        Arthur’s, Athenæum, Boodle’s, Brookes’s, Carlton, Clarence,
        Cocoa-tree, Crockford’s, Garrick, Graham’s, Guards’,
        Oriental, Oxford and Cambridge, Portland, Royal Naval,
        Travellers, Union, United Service, Junior United Service,
        University, West Indian, White’s, Windham.

[Illustration: OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE CLUB, PALL MALL]

Of the now extinct clubs may be mentioned the Alfred and the Clarence,
which were literary clubs. The Clarence was founded by Campbell on
the ashes of the extinct Literary Club, which had been dissolved in
consequence of internal dissensions. The Athenæum had the character
which it still preserves; one of the few things in this club complained
of by the members of 1837 was the use of gas in the dining-room, which
produced an atmosphere wherein, it was said, no animals ungifted
with copper lungs could long exist. The Garrick Club was exclusively
theatrical. The Oriental was, of course, famous for curry and Madeira,
the Union had a sprinkling of City men in it, the United University was
famous for its iced punch, and the Windham was the first club which
allowed strangers to dine within its walls. Speaking generally, no City
men at all, nor any who were connected in any way with trade, were
admitted into the clubs of London. A barrister, a physician, or a
clergyman might be elected, and, of course, all men in the Services;
but a merchant, an attorney, a surgeon, an architect, might knock in
vain.

[Illustration: Yours truly

T. Campbell

-THOMAS CAMPBELL-]

The club subscription was generally six guineas a year, and if we may
judge by the fact that you could dine off the joint at the Carlton for
a shilling, the clubs were much cheaper than they are now. They were
also quite as dull. Thackeray describes the dulness of the club, the
pride of belonging to it, the necessity of having at least one good
club, the _habitués_ of the card-room, the talk, and the scandal. But
the new clubs of our day are larger: their members come from a more
extended area; there are few young City men who have not their club;
and it is not at all necessary to know a man because he is a member of
your club. And when one contrasts the cold and silent coffee-room of
the new great club, where the men glare at each other, with the bright
and cheerful Tavern, where every man talked with his neighbour, and the
song went round, and the great kettle bubbled on the hearth, one feels
that civilisation has its losses.

[Illustration: UNITED UNIVERSITY CLUB, PALL MALL]

We have our gambling clubs still. From time to time there comes a
rumour of high play, a scandal, or an action in the High Court of
Justice for the recovery of one’s character. Baccarat is played all
night by the young men; champagne is flowing for their refreshment,
and sometimes a few hundreds are lost by some young fellow who can ill
afford it. But these things are small and insignificant compared with
the gambling club of fifty years ago.

[Illustration: CROCKFORD’S, ST. JAMES’S STREET]

He who speaks of gambling in the year Thirty-seven, speaks of
Crockford’s. Everything at Crockford’s was magnificent. The
subscription was ten guineas a year, in return for which the members
had the ordinary club- and coffee-rooms providing food and wine at the
usual club charges--these were on the ground floor--and the run of
the gambling-rooms every night, to which they could introduce guests
and friends. These rooms were on the first floor: they consisted of a
saloon, in which there was served every night a splendid supper, with
wines of the best, free to all visitors. Crockford paid his _chef_
a thousand guineas a year, and his assistant five hundred, and his
cellar was reputed to be worth 70,000_l._ There were two card-rooms,
one in which whist, écarté, and all other games were played, and a
second smaller room, in which hazard alone was played. Every night
at eleven the banker and proprietor himself took his seat at his
desk in a corner; his _croupier_, sitting opposite to him in a high
chair, declared the game, paid the winners, and raked in the money.
Crockford’s ‘Spiders’--that is, the gentlemen who had the run of the
establishment under certain implied conditions--introduced their
friends to the supper and the champagne first, and to the hazard-room
next. At two in the morning the doors were closed, and nobody else
was admitted; but the play went on all night long. Crockford not only
held the bank, but was ready to advance money to those who lost, and
outside the card-room treated for reversionary interests, post-obits,
and other means for raising the wind. The game was what is called
‘French Hazard,’ in which the players play against the bank. Thousands
were every night lost and won. As much as a million of money has been
known to change hands in a single night, and the banker was ready
to meet any stake offered. Those who lost borrowed more in order to
continue the game, and lost that as well. But Crockford seems never to
have been accused of any dishonourable practices. He trusted to the
chances of the table, which were, of course, in his favour. In his
ledgers--where are they now?--he was accustomed to enter the names of
those who borrowed of him by initials or a number. He began life as a
small fishmonger just within Temple Bar, and, fortunately for himself,
discovered that he was endowed with a rare talent for rapid mental
arithmetic, of which he made good use in betting and card-playing.
The history of his gradual rise to greatness from a beginning so
unpromising would be interesting, but perhaps the materials no longer
exist. He was a tall and corpulent man, lame, who never acquired
the art of speaking English correctly,--a thing which his noble
patrons--the Duke of Wellington was a member of his club--passed over
in him.

Everybody went to Crockford’s. Everybody played there. That a young
fellow just in possession of a great estate should drop a few thousands
in a single night’s play was not considered a thing worthy of remark;
they all did it. We remember how Disraeli’s ‘Young Duke’ went on
playing cards all night and all next day--was it not all the next
night as well?--till he and his companions were up to their knees in
cards, and the man who was waiting on them was fain to lie down and
sleep for half an hour. The passion of gambling--it is one of those
other senses outside the five old elementary endowments--possessed
everybody. Cards played a far more important part in life than they
do now; the evening rubber was played in every quiet house; the club
card-tables were always crowded; for manly youth there were the fiercer
joys of lansquenet, loo, vingt-et-un, and écarté; for the domestic
circle there were the whist-table and the round table, and at the
latter were played a quantity of games, such as Pope Joan, Commerce,
Speculation, and I know not what, all for money, and all depending for
their interest on the hope of winning and the fear of losing. Family
gambling is gone. If in a genteel suburban villa one was to propose a
round game, and call for the Pope Joan board, there would be a smile
of wonder and pity. As well ask for a glass of negus, or call for the
Caledonians at a dance!

Scandals there were, of course. Men gambled away the whole of their
great estates; they loaded their property with burdens in a single
night which would keep their children and their grandchildren poor.
They grew desperate, and became hawks on the lookout for pigeons; they
cheated at the card-table (read the famous case of Lord De Ros in this
very year); they were always being detected and expelled, and so could
no more show their faces at any place where gentlemen congregated; and
sank from Crockford’s to the cheaper hells, such as the cribs where
the tradesmen used to gamble, those frequented by City clerks, by
gentlemen’s servants, and even those of the low French and Italians.
They were illegal cribs, and informers were always getting money by
causing the proprietors to be indicted. It was said of Thurtell, after
he was hanged for murdering Weare, that he had offered to murder eight
Irishmen, who had informed against these hells, for the consideration
of 40_l._ a head. When they were suffered to proceed, however, the
proprietors always made their fortunes. No doubt their descendants are
now country gentry, and the green cloth has long since been folded up
and put away in the lumber-room, with the rake and the croupier’s green
shade and his chair, and the existence of these relics is forgotten.

[Illustration: S. T. Coleridge

-SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE-]



CHAPTER XIII.

WITH THE WITS.


The ten years of the Thirties are a period concerning whose literary
history the ordinary reader knows next to nothing. Yet a good deal
that has survived for fifty years, and promises to live longer, was
accomplished in that period. Dickens, for example, began his career
in the year 1837 with his ‘Sketches by “Boz”’ and the ‘Pickwick
Papers;’ Lord Lytton, then Mr. Lytton Bulwer, had already before that
year published five novels, including ‘Paul Clifford’ and ‘The Last
Days of Pompeii.’ Tennyson had already issued the ‘Poems, by Two
Brothers,’ and ‘Poems chiefly Lyrical.’ Disraeli had written ‘The
Young Duke,’ ‘Vivian Grey,’ and ‘Venetia.’ Browning had published
‘Paracelsus’ and ‘Strafford;’ Marryat began in 1834; Carlyle published
the ‘Sartor Resartus’ in 1832. But one must not estimate a period by
its beginners. All these writers belong to the following thirty years
of the century. If we look for those who were flourishing--that is,
those who were producing their best work--it will be found that this
decade was singularly poor. The principal name is that of Hood. There
were also Hartley Coleridge, Douglas Jerrold, Procter, Sir Archibald
Alison, Theodore Hook, G. P. R. James, Charles Knight, Sir Henry
Taylor, Milman, Ebenezer Elliott, Harriet Martineau, James Montgomery,
Talfourd, Henry Brougham, Lady Blessington, Harrison Ainsworth, and
some others of lesser note. This is not a very imposing array. On the
other hand, nearly all the great writers whom we associate with the
first thirty years of the century were living, though their best work
was done. After sixty, I take it, the hand of the master may still
work with the old cunning, but his designs will be no longer new or
bold. Wordsworth was sixty in 1830, and, though he lived for twenty
years longer, and published the ‘Yarrow Revisited,’ and, I think, some
of his ‘Sonnets,’ he hardly added to his fame. Southey was four years
younger. He published his ‘Doctor’ and ‘Essays’ in this decade, but
his best work was done already. Scott died in 1832; Coleridge died in
1834; Byron was already dead; James Hogg died in 1835; Felicia Hemans
in the same year; Tom Moore was a gay young fellow of fifty in 1830,
the year in which his life of Lord Byron appeared. He did very little
afterwards. Campbell was two years older than Moore, and he, too,
had exhausted himself. Rogers, older than any of them, had entirely
concluded his poetic career. It is wonderful to think that he began
to write in 1783 and died in 1855. Beckford, whose ‘Vathek’ appeared
in 1786, was living until 1844. Among others who were still living
in 1837 were James and Horace Smith, Wilson Croker, Miss Edgeworth,
Mrs. Trollope, Lucy Aikin, Miss Opie (who lived to be eighty-five),
Jane Porter (prematurely cut off at seventy-four), and Harriet Lee
(whose immortal work, the ‘Errors of Innocence,’ appeared in 1786, when
she was already thirty) lived on till 1852, when she was ninety-six.
Bowles, that excellent man, was not yet seventy, and meant to live for
twenty years longer. De Quincey was fifty-two in 1837, Christopher
North was in full vigour, Thomas Love Peacock, who published his first
novel in 1810, was destined to produce a last, equally good, in 1860;
Landor, born in 1775, was not to die until 1864; Leigh Hunt, who in
1837 was fifty-three years of age, belongs to the time of Byron. John
Keble, whose ‘Christian Year’ was published in 1827, was forty-four in
1837; ‘L. E. L.’ died in 1838. In America, Washington Irving, Emerson,
Channing, Bryant, Whittier, and Longfellow, make a good group. In
France, Chateaubriand, Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Béranger, Alfred de
Musset, Scribe, and Dumas were all writing, a group much stronger than
our English team.

[Illustration: CHARLES KNIGHT

(From a Photograph by Hughes & Mullins, Regina House, Ryde, Isle of
Wight)]

[Illustration: Wm Wordsworth

-WILLIAM WORDSWORTH-]

[Illustration: ROBERT SOUTHEY]

[Illustration: THOMAS MOORE]

[Illustration: Wm. L. Bowles

-REV. WILLIAM LISLE BOWLES-]

[Illustration: ‘VATHEK’ BECKFORD

(From a Medallion)]

It is difficult to understand, at first, that between the time of
Scott, Wordsworth, Byron, and Keats, and that of Dickens, Thackeray,
Marryat, Lever, Tennyson, Browning, and Carlyle, there existed this
generation of wits, most of them almost forgotten. Those, however,
who consider the men and women of the Thirties have to deal, for the
most part, with a literature that is third-rate. This kind becomes
dreadfully flat and stale when it has been out for fifty years; the
dullest, flattest, dreariest reading that can be found on the shelves
in the sprightly novel of Society, written in the Thirties.

[Illustration: WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR

(From a Photograph by H. Watkins)]

[Illustration: Béranger

-PIERRE-JEAN de BÉRANGER-]

[Illustration: RALPH WALDO EMERSON]

[Illustration: LORD BYRON]

[Illustration: James Hogg

-JAMES HOGG-]

A blight had fallen upon novels and their writers. The enormous success
that Scott had achieved tempted hundreds to follow in his path, if
that were possible. It was not possible; but this they could not know,
because nothing seems so easy to write as a novel, and no man, of
those destined to fail, can understand in what respects his own work
falls short of Scott’s. That is the chief reason why he fails. Scott’s
success, however, produced another effect. It greatly enlarged the
number of novel readers, and caused them to buy up eagerly anything
new, in the hope of finding another Scott. Thus, about the year 1826
there were produced as many as 250 three- and four-volume novels a
year--that is to say, about as many as were published in 1886, when
the area of readers has been multiplied by ten. We are also told that
nearly all these novels could command a sale of 750 to 1,000 each,
while anything above the average would have a sale of 1,500 to 2,000.
The usual price given for these novels was, we are also told, from
200_l._ to 300_l._ In that case the publishers must have had a happy
and a prosperous time, netting splendid hauls. But I think that we must
take these figures with considerable deductions. There were, as yet,
no circulating libraries of any importance; their place was supplied
by book-clubs, to which the publishers chiefly looked for the purchase
of their books. But one cannot believe that the book-clubs would take
copies of all the rubbish that came out. Some of these novels I have
read; some of them actually stand on my shelves; and I declare that
anything more dreary and unprofitable it is difficult to imagine. At
last there was a revolt: the public would stand this kind of stuff
no longer. Down dropped the circulation of the novels. Instead of
2,000 copies subscribed, the dismayed publisher now read 50, and the
whole host of novelists vanished like a swarm of midges. At the same
time poetry went down too. The drop in poetry was even more terrible
than that of novels. Suddenly, and without any warning, the people
of Great Britain left off reading poetry. To be sure, they had been
flooded with a prodigious quantity of trash. One anonymous ‘popular
poet,’ whose name will never now be recovered, received 100_l._ for his
last poem from a publisher who thought, no doubt, that the ‘boom’
was going to last. Of this popular poet’s work he sold exactly fifty
copies. Another, a ‘humorous’ bard, who also received a large sum for
his immortal poem, showed in the unhappy publisher’s books no more
than eighteen copies sold. This was too ridiculous, and from that day
to this the trade side of poetry has remained under a cloud. That of
novelist has, fortunately for some, been redeemed from contempt by the
enormous success of Dickens, Thackeray, George Eliot, and by the solid,
though substantial, success of the lesser lights. Poets have now to
pay for the publication of their own works, but novelists--some of
them--command a price; those, namely, who do not have to pay for the
production of their works.

[Illustration: SIR WALTER SCOTT]

The popular taste, thus cloyed with novels and poetry, turned to books
on popular science, on statistics, on health, and on travel. Barry
Cornwall’s ‘Life of Kean,’ Campbell’s ‘Life of Siddons,’ the Lives
of Sale, Sir Thomas Picton, and Lord Exmouth, for example, were all
well received. So Ross’s ‘Arctic Seas,’ Lamartine’s ‘Pilgrimage,’
Macfarlane’s ‘Travels in the East,’ Holman’s ‘Round the World,’ and
Quin’s ‘Voyage down the Danube,’ all commanded a sale of 1,000 copies
each at least. Works of religion, of course, always succeed, if they
are written with due regard to the religious leaning of the moment. It
shows how religious fashions change when we find that the copyright
of the works of Robert Hall realised 4,000_l._ and that of Charles
Simeon’s books 5,000_l._; while of the Rev. Alexander Fletcher’s ‘Book
of Family Devotions,’ published at 24_s._, 2,000 copies were sold on
the day of publication. I dare say the same thing would happen again
to-day if another Mr. Fletcher were to hit upon another happy thought
in the way of a religious book.

[Illustration: REGINA’S MAIDS OF HONOUR.]

I think that one of the causes of the decay of trade as regards
poetry and fiction may have been the badness of the annuals. You
will find in any old-fashioned library copies of the ‘Keepsake,’
the ‘Forget-me-Not,’ the ‘Book of Beauty,’ ‘Flowers of Loveliness,’
Finden’s ‘Tableaux,’ ‘The Book of Gems,’ and others of that now extinct
tribe. They were beautifully printed on the finest paper; they
were illustrated with the most lovely steel engravings, the like of
which could not now be had at any price; they were bound in brown and
crimson watered silk, most fascinating to look upon; and they were
published at a guinea. As for their contents, they were, to begin
with, written almost entirely by ladies and gentlemen with handles to
their names, each number containing in addition two or three papers by
commoners--mere literary commoners--just to give a flavouring of style.
In the early Thirties it was fashionable for lords and ladies to dash
off these trifles. Byron was a gentleman; Shelley was a gentleman;
nobody else, to be sure, among the poets and wits was a gentleman--yet
if Byron and Shelley condescended to bid for fame and bays, why not
Lord Reculver, Lady Juliet de Dagenham, or the Hon. Lara Clonsilla? I
have before me the ‘Keepsake’ for the year 1831. Among the authors are
Lord Morpeth, Lord Nugent, Lord Porchester, Lord John Russell, the Hon.
George Agar Ellis, the Hon. Henry Liddell, the Hon. Charles Phipps, the
Hon. Robert Craddock, and the Hon. Grantley Berkeley. Among the ladies
are the Countess of Blessington, ‘L. E. L.,’ and Agnes Strickland.
Theodore Hook supplies the professional part. The illustrations are
engraved from pictures and drawings by Eastlake, Corbould, Westall,
Turner, Smirke, Flaxman, and other great artists. The result, from the
literary point of view, is a collection much lower in point of interest
and ability than the worst number of the worst shilling magazine of the
present day. I venture to extract certain immortal lines contributed
by Lord John Russell, who is not generally known as a poet. They are
‘written at Kinneil, the residence of the late Mr. Dugald Stewart.’

[Illustration: A FASHIONABLE BEAUTY OF 1837

(By A. E. Chalon, R.A.)]

    To distant worlds a guide amid the night,
    To nearer orbs the source of life and light;
    Each star resplendent on its radiant throne
    Gilds other systems and supports its own.
    Thus we see Stewart, in his fame reclined,
    Enlighten all the universe of mind;
    To some for wonder, some for joy appear,
    Admired when distant and beloved when near.
    ’Twas he gave rules to Fancy, grace to Thought,
    Taught Virtue’s laws, and practised what he taught.

Dear me! Something similar to the last line one remembers written by an
earlier bard. In the same way Terence has been accused of imitating the
old Eton Latin Grammar.

[Illustration: Harriet Martineau

-HARRIET MARTINEAU-]

Somewhere about the year 1837 the world began to kick at the
‘Keepsakes,’ and they gradually got extinguished. Then the lords and
the countesses put away their verses and dropped into prose, and, to
the infinite loss of mankind, wrote no more until editors of great
monthlies, anxious to show a list of illustrious names, began to ask
them again.

As for the general literature of the day, there must have been a steady
demand for new works of all kinds, for it was estimated that in 1836
there were no fewer than four thousand persons living by literary work.
Most of them, of course, must have been simple publishers’ hacks.
But seven hundred of them in London were journalists. At the present
day there are said to be in London alone fourteen thousand men and
women who live by writing. And of this number I should think that
thirteen thousand are in some way or other connected with journalism.
Publishers’ hacks still exist--that is to say, the unhappy men who,
without genius or natural aptitude, or the art of writing pleasantly,
are eternally engaged in compiling, stealing, arranging, and putting
together books which may be palmed off upon an uncritical public for
prize books and presents. But they are far fewer in proportion than
they were, and perhaps the next generation may live to see them extinct.

[Illustration: LORD TENNYSON AS A YOUNG MAN

(From the Picture by Sir T. Lawrence)]

What did they write, this regiment of 3,300 _littérateurs_? Novelists,
as we have learned, had fallen upon evil times; poetry was what
it still continues to be, a drug in the market; but there was the
whole range of the sciences, there were morals, theology, education,
travels, biography, history, the literature of Art in all its branches,
archæology, ancient and modern literature, criticism, and a hundred
other things. Yet, making allowance for everything, I cannot but think
that the 3,300 must have had on the whole an idle and unprofitable
time. However, some books of the year may be recorded. First of all, in
the ‘Annual Register’ for 1837 there appears a poem by Alfred Tennyson.
I have copied a portion of it:--

    Oh! that ’twere possible,
      After long grief and pain,
    To find the arms of my true love
      Round me once again!

    When I was wont to meet her
    In the silent woody places
      Of the land that gave me birth,
    We stood tranced in long embraces,
    Mixt with kisses sweeter, sweeter
      Than anything on earth.

    A shadow flits before me--
      Not thee but like to thee.
    Ah God! that it were possible
      For one short hour to see
    The souls we loved that they might tell us
      What, and where they be.

    It leads me forth at evening,
      It lightly winds and steals,
    In a cold white robe before me,
      When all my spirit reels
    At the shouts, the leagues of lights,
      And the roaring of the wheels.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Then the broad light glares and beats,
    And the sunk eye flits and fleets,
      And will not let me be.
    I loathe the squares and streets
    And the faces that one meets,
      Hearts with no love for me.
    Always I long to creep
    To some still cavern deep,
    And to weep and weep and weep
      My whole soul out to thee.

[Illustration: W. H. Ainsworth

-WILLIAM HARRISON AINSWORTH-]

Books, indeed, there were in plenty. Lady Blessington produced her
‘Victims of Society’ and ‘Sunday at the Zoo;’ Mr. Lytton Bulwer
his ‘Duchesse de la Vallière,’ ‘Ernest Maltravers,’ and ‘Athens,
its Rise and Fall;’ Miss Mitford her ‘Country Stories;’ Cottle his
‘Recollections of Coleridge;’ Harrison Ainsworth, ‘Crichton;’ Disraeli,
‘Venetia;’ Talfourd, ‘The Life and Letters of Charles Lamb;’ Babbage,
a ‘Bridgwater Treatise;’ Hook, ‘Jack Brag;’ Haynes Bayley, his ‘Weeds
of Witchery’--a thing as much forgotten as the weeds in last year’s
garden; James, his ‘Attila’ and ‘Louis XIV.;’ Miss Martineau, her book
on ‘American Society.’ I find, not in the book, which I have not read,
but in a review of it, two stories, which I copy. One is of an American
traveller who had been to Rome, and said of it, ‘Rome is a very fine
city, sir, but its public buildings are out of repair.’ The other is
the following: ‘Few men,’ said the preacher in his sermon, ‘when they
build a house, remember that there must some day be a coffin taken
downstairs.’ ‘Ministers,’ said a lady who had been present, ‘have got
into the strangest way of choosing subjects. True, wide staircases are
a great convenience, but Christian ministers might find better subjects
for their discourses than narrow staircases.’

[Illustration: THE FRASERIANS.]

In addition to the above, Hartley Coleridge wrote the ‘Lives of
Northern Worthies;’ the complete poetical works of Southey appeared--he
himself died at the beginning of 1842; Dion Boucicault produced his
first play, being then fifteen years of age; Carlyle brought out his
‘French Revolution;’ Lockhart his ‘Life of Scott;’ Martin Tupper the
first series of the ‘Proverbial Philosophy;’ Hallam his ‘Literature of
Europe;’ there were the usual travels in Arabia, Armenia, Italy, and
Ireland; with, no doubt, the annual avalanche of sermons, pamphlets,
and the rest. Above all, however, it must be remembered that to this
time belong the ‘Sketches by “Boz”’ (1836) and the ‘Pickwick Papers’
(1837–38). Of the latter, the _Athenæum_ not unwisely remarked that
they were made up of ‘three pounds of Smollett, three ounces of Sterne,
a handful of Hook, a dash of a grammatical Pierce Egan; the incidents
at pleasure, served with an original _sauce piquante_.... We earnestly
hope and trust that nothing we have said will tend to refine Boz.’ One
could hardly expect a critic to be ready at once to acknowledge that
here was a genius, original, totally unlike any of his predecessors,
who knew the great art of drawing from life, and depicting nothing but
what he knew. As for Thackeray, he was still in the chrysalis stage,
though his likeness appears with those of the contributors to _Fraser’s
Magazine_ in the portrait group of Fraserians published in 1839. His
first independently published book, I think, was the ‘Paris Sketch
Book,’ which was not issued until the year 1840.

[Illustration: MATTHEW ARNOLD]

Here, it will be acknowledged, is not a record to be quite ashamed of,
with Carlyle, Talfourd, Hallam, and Dickens to adorn and illustrate
the year. After all, it is a great thing for any year to add one
enduring book to English Literature, and it is a great deal to show
so many works which are still read and remembered. Lytton’s ‘Ernest
Maltravers,’ though not his best novel, is still read by some;
Talfourd’s ‘Charles Lamb’ remains; Disraeli’s ‘Venetia;’ Lockhart’s
‘Life of Scott’ is the best biography of the novelist and poet;
Carlyle’s ‘French Revolution’ shows no sign of being forgotten.

[Illustration: J G Lockhart

-JOHN GIBSON LOCKHART-]

Between the first and the fiftieth years of Victoria’s reign there
arose and flourished and died a new generation of great men. Dickens,
Thackeray, Lytton, in his later and better style; George Eliot, Charles
Reade, George Meredith, Nathaniel Hawthorne, stand in the very front
rank of novelists; in the second line are Charles Kingsley, Mrs.
Gaskell, Lever, Trollope, and a few living men and women. Tennyson,
Browning, Swinburne, Matthew Arnold, are the new poets. Carlyle,
Freeman, Froude, Stubbs, Green, Lecky, Buckle, have founded a new
school of history; Maurice has broadened the old theology; Darwin,
Huxley, Tyndall, Lockyer, and many others have advanced the boundaries
of science; philology has become one of the exact sciences; a great
school of political economy has arisen, flourished, and decayed. As
to the changes that have come upon the literature of the country, the
new points of view, the new creeds, these belong to another chapter.

[Illustration: CHARLES DARWIN]

There has befallen literature of late years a grievous, even an
irreparable blow. It has lost the _salon_. There are no longer _grandes
dames de par le monde_, who attract to their drawing-rooms the leaders
and the lesser lights of literature; there are no longer, so far as I
know, any places at all, even any clubs, which are recognised centres
of literature; there are no longer any houses where one will be sure to
find great talkers, and to hear them talking all night long. There are
no longer any great talkers--that is to say, many men there are who
talk well, but there are no Sydney Smiths or Macaulays, and in houses
where the Sydney Smith of the day would go for his talk, he would not
be encouraged to talk much after midnight. In the same way, there are
clubs, like the Athenæum and the Savile, where men of letters are among
the members, but they do not constitute the members, and they do not
give altogether its tone to the club.

Fifty years ago there were two houses which, each in its own way, were
recognised centres of literature. Every man of letters went to Gore
House, which was open to all; and every man of letters who could get
there went to Holland House.

[Illustration: Saml Rogers

-SAMUEL ROGERS-]

The former establishment was presided over by the Countess of
Blessington, at this time a widow, still young and still attractive,
though beginning to be burdened with the care of an establishment too
expensive for her means. She was the author of a good many novels,
now almost forgotten--it is odd how well one knows the name of Lady
Blessington, and how little is generally known about her history,
literary or personal--and she edited every year one of the ‘Keepsakes’
or ‘Forget-me-Nots.’ From certain indications, the bearing of which her
biographer, Mr. Madden, did not seem to understand, I gather that her
novels did not prove to the publishers the literary success which they
expected, and I also infer--from the fact that she was always changing
them--that a dinner at Gore House and the society of all the wits
after dinner were not always attractions strong enough to loosen
their purse-strings. This lady, whose maiden name was Power, was of
an Irish family, her father being engaged, when he was not shooting
rebels, in unsuccessful trade. Her life was adventurous and also
scandalous. She was married at sixteen to a Captain Farmer, from whom
she speedily separated, and came over to London, where she lived for
some years--her biographer does not explain how she got money--a grass
widow. When Lord Blessington lost his wife, and Mrs. Farmer lost her
husband--the gallant Captain got drunk, and fell out of a window--they
were married, and went abroad travelling in great state, as an English
milor of those days knew how to travel, with a train of half-a-dozen
carriages, his own cook and valet, the Countess’s women, a whole
_batterie de cuisine_, a quantity of furniture, couriers, and footmen,
and his own great carriage. With them went the Count d’Orsay, then
about two-and-twenty, and young Charles Mathews, then about twenty, a
_protégé_ of Lord Blessington, who was a friend and patron of the drama.

[Illustration: HOLLAND HOUSE]

After Lord Blessington died it was arranged that Count d’Orsay should
marry his daughter. But the Count separated from his wife a week or two
after the wedding, and returned to the widow, whom he never afterwards
left, always taking a lodging near her house, and forming part of her
household. The Countess d’Orsay, one need not explain, did not visit
her stepmother at Gore House.

[Illustration: Thomas Moore

-SAMUEL ROGERS-]

Here, however, you would meet Tom Moore, the two Bulwers, Campbell,
Talfourd, James and Horace Smith, Landseer, Theodore Hook, Disraeli
the elder and the younger, Rogers, Washington Irving, N. P. Willis,
Marryat, Macready, Charles Dickens, Albert Smith, Forster, Walter
Savage Landor, and, in short, nearly every one who had made a
reputation, or was likely to make it. Hither came also Prince Louis
Napoleon, in whose fortunate star Count d’Orsay always firmly believed.
The conversation was lively, and the evenings were prolonged. As for
ladies, there were few ladies who went to Gore House. Doubtless they
had their reasons. The outer circle, so to speak, consisted of such men
as Lord Abinger, Lord Durham, Lord Strangford, Lord Porchester, Lord
Nugent, writers and poetasters who contributed their illustrious names
and their beautiful productions to Lady Blessington’s ‘Keepsakes.’
Thackeray was one of the ‘intimates’ at Gore House, and when the
crash came in 1849, and the place was sold up by the creditors, it is
on record that the author of ‘Vanity Fair’ was the only person who
showed emotion. ‘Mr. Thackeray also came,’ wrote the Countess’s valet
to his mistress, who had taken refuge in Paris, ‘and he went away with
tears in his eyes; he is perhaps the only person I have seen really
affected at your departure.’ In 1837 he was twenty-six years of age,
but he had still to wait for twelve years before he was to take his
real place in literature, and even then and until the day of his death
there were many who could not understand his greatness.

As regards Lady Blessington, her morals may have been deplorable, but
there must have been something singularly attractive about her manners
and conversation. It is not by a stupid or an unattractive woman that
such success as hers was attained. Her novels, so far as I have been
able to read them, show no remarkable ability, and her portrait shows
amiability rather than cleverness; yet she must have been both clever
and amiable to get so many clever men around her and to fix them, to
make them come again, come often, and regard her drawing-room and her
society as altogether charming, and to write such verses upon her as
the following:--

    Mild Wilberforce, by all beloved,
      Once owned this hallowed spot,
    Whose zealous eloquence improved
      The fettered Negro’s lot,
    Yet here still slavery attacks
      Whom Blessington invites;
    The chains from which he freed the blacks
      She rivets on the whites.

The following lines are in another strain, more artificial, with a
false ring, and curiously unlike any style of the present day. They are
by N. P. Willis, who, in his ‘Pencillings,’ describes an evening at
Gore House:--

        I gaze upon a face as fair
          As ever made a lip of Heaven
        Falter amid its music--prayer:
          The first-lit star of summer even
        Springs scarce so softly on the eye,
          Nor grows with watching half so bright,
        Nor ’mid its sisters of the sky
          So seems of Heaven the dearest light.
    Men murmur where that shape is seen;
    My youth’s angelic dream was of that face and mien.

Gore House was a place for men; there was more than a touch of Bohemia
in its atmosphere. The fair _châtelaine_ distinctly did not belong to
any noble house, though she was fond of talking of her ancestors; the
constant presence of Count d’Orsay, and the absence of Lady Harriet,
his wife; the coldness of ladies as regards the place; the whispers
and the open talk; these things did not, perhaps, make the house less
delightful, but they placed it outside society.

[Illustration: H. Brougham

-LORD BROUGHAM AND VAUX-]

Holland House, on the other hand, occupied a different position. The
circle was wide and the hospitable doors were open to all who could
procure an introduction; but it was presided over by a lady the
opposite to Lady Blessington in every respect. She ruled as well as
reigned; those who went to Holland House were made to feel her power.
The Princess Marie Liechtenstein, in her book on Holland House, has
given a long list of those who were to be found there between the years
1796 and 1840. Among them were Sydney Smith, Macaulay, Byron, ‘Monk’
Lewis, Lord Jeffrey, Lords Eldon, Thurlow, Brougham, and Lyndhurst,
Sir Humphry Davy, Count Rumford, Lords Aberdeen, Moira, and Macartney,
Grattan, Curran, Sir Samuel Romilly, Washington Irving, Tom Moore,
Calonne, Lally Tollendal, Talleyrand, the Duke of Clarence, the Duc
d’Orléans, Metternich, Canova, the two Erskines, Madame de Staël, Lord
John Russell, and Lord Houghton. There was no such agreeable house in
Europe as Holland House. ‘There was no professional _claqueur_; no
mutual puffing; no exchanged support. There, a man was not unanimously
applauded because he was known to be clever, nor was a woman accepted
as clever because she was known to receive clever people.’

The conditions of life and society are so much changed that there
can never again be another Holland House. For the first thing which
strikes one who considers the history of this place, as well as Gore
House, is that, though the poets, wits, dramatists, and novelists go
to these houses, their wives do not. In these days a man who respects
himself will not go to a house where his wife is not asked. Then,
again, London is so much greater in extent, and people are so much
scattered, that it would be difficult now to get together a circle
consisting of literary people who lived near enough to frequent the
house. And another thing: people no longer keep such late hours. They
do not sit up talking all night. That is, perhaps, because there are
no wits to talk with; but I do not know: I think that towards midnight
the _malice_ of Count d’Orsay in drawing out the absurd points in the
guests, the rollicking fun of Tom Moore, or his sentimental songs, the
repartee of James Smith, and the polished talk of Lytton Bulwer, all
collar, cuff, diamond pin, and wavy hair, would have begun to pall upon
me, and when nobody was taking any notice of so obscure an individual,
I should have stolen down the stairs, and so out into the open air
beneath the stars. For the wits were very witty, but they must have
been very fatiguing. ‘Quite enough of that, Macaulay’ Lady Holland
would say, tapping her fan upon the table. ‘Now tell us about something
else.’

[Illustration: Very truly yours

Washington Irving

-WASHINGTON IRVING-]



CHAPTER XIV.

JOURNALS AND JOURNALISTS.


There was no illustrated paper in 1837: there was no _Punch_. On the
other hand, there were as many London papers as there are to-day, and
nearly as many magazines and reviews. The _Times_, which is reported
to have then had a circulation not exceeding 10,000 a day, was already
the leading paper. It defended Queen Caroline, and advocated the Reform
Bill, and was reported to be ready to incur any expense for early news.
Thus, in 1834, on the occasion of a great dinner given to Lord Durham,
the _Times_ spent 200_l._ in having an early report, and that up from
the North by special messenger. This is not much in comparison with
the enterprise of telegraph and special correspondents, but it was a
great step in advance of other journals. The other morning papers were
the _Morning Herald_, the _Morning Chronicle_, the _Morning Post_, of
which Coleridge was once on the staff, the _Morning Advertiser_, which
already represented the interest of which it is still the organ, and
the old _Public Ledger_, for which Goldsmith had once written.

The evening papers were the _Globe_, which had absorbed six other
evening papers; the _Courier_; the _Standard_, once edited by Dr.
Maginn; and the _True Sun_.

The weeklies were the _Examiner_, edited by the two Hunts and Albany
Fonblanque; the _Spectator_, whose price seems to have varied from
ninepence to a shilling; the _Atlas_; _Observer_; _Bell’s Life_;
_Bell’s Weekly Messenger_; _John Bull_, which Theodore Hook edited; the
_New Weekly Messenger_; the _Sunday Times_; the _Age_; the _Satirist_;
the _Mark Lane Express_; the _County Chronicle_; the _Weekly Dispatch_,
sometimes sold for 8½_d._, sometimes for 6_d._; the _Patriot_; the
_Christian Advocate_; the _Watchman_; the _Court Journal_; the _Naval
and Military Gazette_; and the _United Service Gazette_.

Among the reporters who sat in the Gallery, it is remarkable that
two-thirds did not write shorthand; they made notes, and trusted to
their memories; Charles Dickens sat with them in the year 1836.

[Illustration: Yours truly

J Croker

-JOHN WILSON CROKER-]

The two great Quarterlies still continue to exist, but their power has
almost gone; nobody cares any more what is said by either, yet they
are as well written as ever, and their papers are as interesting, if
they are not so forcible. The _Edinburgh Review_ is said to have had
a circulation of 20,000 copies; the _Quarterly_ is said never to have
reached anything like that number. Among those who wrote for the latter
fifty years ago, or thereabout, were Southey, Basil Hall, John Wilson
Croker, Sir Francis Head, Dean Milman, Justice Coleridge, Henry Taylor,
and Abraham Hayward. The _Westminster_, which also included the
_London_, was supported by such contributors as the two Mills, father
and son. Southwood Smith, and Roebuck. There was also the _Foreign
Quarterly_, for which Scott, Southey, and Carlyle wrote.

The monthlies comprised the _Gentleman’s_ (still living), the _Monthly
Review_, the _Monthly Magazine_; the _Eclectic_; the _New Monthly_;
_Fraser_; the _Metropolitan_; the _Monthly Repository_; the _Lady’s_;
the _Court_; the _Asiatic Journal_; the _East India Review_; and the
_United Service Journal_.

The weekly magazines were the _Literary Gazette_; the
_Parthenon_--absorbed in the _Literary_ in 1842; the _Athenæum_, which
Mr. Dilke bought of Buckingham, reducing the price from 8_d._ to 4_d._;
the _Mirror_; _Chambers’s Journal_; the _Penny Magazine_; and the
_Saturday Magazine_, a religious journal with a circulation of 200,000.

All these papers, journals, quarterlies, monthlies, and weeklies found
occupation for a great number of journalists. Among those who wrote for
the magazines were many whom we know, and some whom we have forgotten.
Mr. Cornish, editor of the _Monthly Magazine_, seems forgotten. But
he wrote ‘Songs of the Loire,’ the ‘Gentleman’s Book,’ ‘My Daughter’s
Book,’ the ‘Book for the Million,’ and a ‘Volume of the Affections.’
Mr. Peter Gaskill, another forgotten worthy, wrote, besides his
contributions to the monthly press, three laudable works, called ‘Old
Maids,’ ‘Old Bachelors,’ and ‘Plebeians and Patricians.’ John Galt,
James and Horace Smith, Allan Cunningham, Sir Egerton Brydges, Sheridan
Knowles, Robert Hall, John Foster, James Montgomery, S. C. Hall,
Grattan--author of ‘Highways and Byways’--Marryat, John Mill, Peacock,
Miss Martineau, Ebenezer Elliott, and Warren--author of ‘A Diary of a
Late Physician’--all very respectable writers, sustained this mass of
magazine literature.

It will be seen, then, that London was as well supplied with papers and
reviews as it is at present--considering the difference in population,
it was much better supplied. Outside London, however, the demand for a
daily paper was hardly known. There were in the whole of Great Britain
only fourteen daily papers; and in Ireland two. There are now 171 daily
papers in Great Britain and fifteen in Ireland. In country places,
the weekly newspaper, published on Saturday night and distributed on
Sunday morning, provided all the news that was required, the local
intelligence being by far the most important.

As to the changes which have come over the papers, the leading article,
whose influence and weight seems to have culminated at the time of the
Crimean War, was then of little more value than it is at present. The
news--there were as yet, happily, no telegrams--was still by despatches
and advice; and the latest news of markets was that brought by the
last ship. We will not waste time in pointing out that Edinburgh was
practically as far off as Gibraltar, or as anything else you please.
But consider, if you can, your morning paper without its telegrams;
could one exist without knowing exactly all that is going on all over
the world at the very moment? We used to exist, as a matter of fact,
very well indeed without that knowledge; when we had it not we were
less curious, if less well informed: there was always a pleasing
element of uncertainty as to what might arrive: everything had to be
taken on trust; and in trade the most glorious fortunes could be made
and lost by the beautiful uncertainties of the market. Now we watch the
tape, day by day, and hour by hour: we anticipate our views: we can
only speculate on small differences: the biggest events are felt, long
beforehand, to be coming. It is not an unmixed gain for the affairs of
the whole world to be carried on under the fierce light of electricity,
so that everybody may behold whatever happens day after day, as if one
were seated on Olympus among the Immortal Gods.



CHAPTER XV.

THE SPORTSMAN.


There were many various forms of sport open to the Englishman fifty
years ago which are now wholly, or partly, closed. For instance,
there was the P. R., then flourishing in great vigour--they are at
this moment trying to revive it. A prize-fight was accompanied by
every kind of blackguardism and villainy; not the least was the fact
that the fights, towards the end of the record, were almost always
conducted on the cross, so that honest betting men never knew where to
lay their money. At the same time, the decay of boxing during the last
twenty-five years has been certainly followed by a great decay of the
national pluck and pugnacity, and therefore, naturally, by a decay of
national enterprise. We may fairly congratulate ourselves, therefore,
that the noble art of self-defence is reviving, and promises to become
as great and favourite a sport as before. Let all our boys be taught
to fight. Fifty years ago there was not a day in a public school when
there was not a fight between two of the boys; there was not a day
when there was not a street fight; did not the mail-coach drivers who
accompanied Mr. Samuel Weller on a memorable occasion leave behind them
one of their number to fight a street porter in Fleet Street? There
was never a day when some young fellow did not take off his coat and
handle his fives for a quarter of an hour with a drayman, a driver, a
working man. It was a disgrace not to be able to fight. Let all our
boys be taught again and encouraged to fight. Only the other day I read
that there are no fights at Eton any more because the boys ‘funk each
other.’ Eton boys funk each other! But we need not believe it. Let
there be no nonsense listened to about brutality. The world belongs to
the men who can fight.

There were, besides the street fights, which kept things lively and
gave animation to the dullest parts of the town, many other things
which we see no longer. The bear who danced: the bull who was baited:
the pigeons which were shot in Battersea Fields: the badger which was
drawn: the dogs which were fought: the rats which were killed: the
cocks which were fought: the cats which were thrown into the ponds: the
ducks which were hunted--these amusements exist no longer; fifty years
ago they afforded sport for many.

Hunting, coursing, horse-racing, shooting, went on bravely. As regards
game preserves, the laws were more rigidly enforced, and there was a
much more bitter feeling towards them on the part of farmers then than
now. On the other hand, there were no such wholesale battues; sport
involved uncertainty; gentlemen did not sell their game; rabbits,
instead of being sent off to the nearest poulterer, were given to the
labourers as they should be.

The sporting instincts of the Londoner gave the comic person an endless
theme for fun. He was always hiring a horse and coming to grief; he was
perpetually tumbling off, losing his stirrups, letting his whip fall,
having his hat blown off and carried away, and generally disgracing
himself in the eyes of those with whom he wished to appear to the
best advantage. There was the Epping Hunt on Easter Monday, where the
sporting Londoners turned out in thousands; there were the ponies on
hire at any open place all round London--at Clapham Common, Blackheath,
Hampstead, Epping. To ride was the young Londoner’s greatest ambition:
even to this day there is not one young man in ten who will own without
a blush that he cannot ride. To ride in the Park was impossible for
him, because he had to be at his desk at ten; a man who rides in the
Park is independent of the City; but there were occasions on which
everyone would long to be able to sit in the saddle.

Rowing, athletics, and, above all, the cycle, have done much to
counterbalance the attractions of the saddle.

[Illustration: COCKNEY SPORTSMEN]

It seems certain, unless the comic papers all lie, that fifty years ago
every young man also wanted to go shooting. Remember how Mr. Winkle--an
arrant Cockney, though represented as coming from Bristol--not only
pretended to love the sport, but always went about attired as one
ready to take the field. The Londoner went out into the fields, which
then lay within his reach all round the City, popping at everything.
Let us illustrate the subject with the following description of a First
of September taken from the ‘Comic Almanack’ of 1837. Perhaps Thackeray
wrote it:--

  ‘Up at six.--Told Mrs. D. I’d got wery pressing business at
  Woolwich, and off to Old Fish Street, where a werry sporting
  breakfast, consisting of jugged hare, partridge pie, tally-ho
  sauce, gunpowder tea, and-cætera, vos laid out in Figgins’s
  warehouse; as he didn’t choose Mrs. F. and his young hinfant family
  to know he vos a-goin to hexpose himself vith fire-harms.--After
  a good blowout, sallied forth vith our dogs and guns, namely Mrs.
  Wiggins’s French poodle, Miss Selina Higgins’s real Blenheim
  spaniel, young Hicks’s ditto, Mrs. Figgins’s pet bull-dog, and
  my little thoroughbred tarrier; all vich had been smuggled
  to Figgins’s warehouse the night before, to perwent domestic
  disagreeables.--Got into a Paddington bus at the Bank.--Row, with
  Tiger, who hobjected to take the dogs, unless paid hextra.--Hicks
  said we’d a rights to take ’em, and quoted the hact.--Tiger said
  the hact only allowed parcels carried on the lap.--Accordingly
  tied up the dogs in our pocket-handkerchiefs, and carried them and
  the guns on our knees.--Got down at Paddington; and, after glasses
  round, valked on till ve got into the fields, to a place vich
  Higgins had baited vith corn and penny rolls every day for a month
  past. Found a covey of birds feeding. Dogs wery eager, and barked
  beautiful. Birds got up and turned out to be pigeons. Debate as to
  vether pigeons vos game or not. Hicks said they vos made game on
  by the new hact. Fired accordingly, and half killed two or three,
  vich half fell to the ground; but suddenly got up again and flew
  off. Reloaded, and pigeons came round again. Let fly a second time,
  and tumbled two or three more over, but didn’t bag any. Tired at
  last, and turned in to the _Dog and Partridge_, to get a snack.
  Landlord laughed, and asked how ve vos hoff for tumblers. Didn’t
  understand him, but got some waluable hinformation about loading
  our guns; vich he strongly recommended mixing the powder and shot
  well up together before putting into the barrel; and showed Figgins
  how to charge his percussion; vich being Figgins’s first attempt
  under the new system, he had made the mistake of putting a charge
  of copper caps into the barrel instead of sticking von of ’em
  atop of the touch-hole.--Left the _Dog and Partridge_, and took a
  north-easterly direction, so as to have the adwantage of the vind
  on our backs. Dogs getting wery riotous, and refusing to answer to
  Figgins’s vhistle, vich had unfortunately got a pea in it.--Getting
  over an edge into a field, Hicks’s gun haccidently hexploded, and
  shot Wiggins behind; and my gun going off hunexpectedly at the
  same moment, singed avay von of my viskers and blinded von of
  my heyes.--Carried Wiggins back to the inn: dressed his wound,
  and rubbed my heye with cherry brandy and my visker with bear’s
  grease.--Sent poor W. home by a short stage, and resumed our
  sport.--Heard some pheasants crowing by the side of a plantation.
  Resolved to stop their cockadoodledooing, so set off at a jog-trot.
  Passing thro’ a field of bone manure, the dogs unfortunately set to
  work upon the bones, and we couldn’t get ’em to go a step further
  at no price. Got vithin gun-shot of two of the birds, vich Higgins
  said they vos two game cocks: but Hicks, who had often been to
  Vestminster Pit, said no sitch thing; as game cocks had got short
  square tails, and smooth necks, and long military spurs; and these
  had got long curly tails, and necks all over hair, and scarce any
  spurs at all. Shot at ’em as pheasants, and believe we killed ’em
  both; but, hearing some orrid screams come out of the plantation
  immediately hafter, ve all took to our ’eels and ran avay vithout
  stopping to pick either of ’em up.--After running about two miles,
  Hicks called out to stop, as he had hobserved a covey of wild ducks
  feeding on a pond by the road side. Got behind a haystack and shot
  at the ducks, vich svam avay hunder the trees. Figgins wolunteered
  to scramble down the bank, and hook out the dead uns vith the
  but-hend of his gun. Unfortunately bank failed, and poor F. tumbled
  up to his neck in the pit. Made a rope of our pocket-handkerchiefs,
  got it round his neck, and dragged him to the _Dog and Doublet_,
  vere ve had him put to bed, and dried. Werry sleepy with the
  hair and hexercise, so after dinner took a nap a-piece.--Woke by
  the landlord coming in to know if ve vos the gentlemen as had
  shot the hunfortunate nursemaid and child in Mr. Smithville’s
  plantation. Swore ve knew nothing about it, and vile the landlord
  was gone to deliver our message, got out of the back vindow, and
  ran avay across the fields. At the end of a mile, came suddenly
  upon a strange sort of bird, vich Hicks declared to be the
  cock-of-the-woods. Sneaked behind him and killed him. Turned out to
  be a peacock. Took to our heels again, as ve saw the lord of the
  manor and two of his servants vith bludgeons coming down the gravel
  valk towards us. Found it getting late, so agreed to shoot our vay
  home. Didn’t know vere ve vos, but kept going on.--At last got to a
  sort of plantation, vere ve saw a great many birds perching about.
  Gave ’em a broadside, and brought down several. Loaded again, and
  killed another brace. Thought ve should make a good day’s vork of
  it at last, and vas preparing to charge again, ven two of the new
  police came and took us up in the name of the Zolorogical Society,
  in whose gardens it seems ve had been shooting. Handed off to
  the Public Hoffice, and werry heavily fined, and werry sewerely
  reprimanded by the sitting magistrate.--Coming away, met by the
  landlord of the _Dog and Doublet_, who charged us with running off
  without paying our shot; and Mr. Smithville, who accused us of
  manslaughtering his nurse-maid and child; and, their wounds not
  having been declared immortal, ve vos sent to spend the night in
  prison--and thus ended my last First of September.’

[Illustration: RETURN FROM THE RACES.]

Those who wish to know what a Derby Day was fifty years ago may read
the following contemporary narrative:--

  Here’s a right and true list of all the running horses! Dorling’s
  correct card for the Derby day!----Hollo, old un! hand us up one
  here, will you: and let it be a good un: there, now what’s to pay?

  Only sixpence. Sixpence! I never gave more than a penny at Hookem
  Snivey in all my days.----May be not, your honour: but Hookem
  Snivey aint Hepsom: and sixpence is what every gemman, as is a
  gemman, pays.

  I can buy ’em for less than that on the course, and I’ll wait till
  I get there. Beg your honour’s pardon----They sells ’em a shillin’
  on the course. Give you threepence. They cost _me_ fippence ha’p’ny
  farden.

  Well, here then, take your list back again. Come, come; your honour
  shall have it at your own price:----I wouldn’t sell it nob’dy else
  for no sitch money: but I likes the sound of your wice.

  Here, then, give me the change, will you?--Oh, certainly: but your
  honour’s honcommon ard:----Let’s see: you want two-and-threepence:
  wait a moment, there’s another gentleman calling out for a card.

  Hollo, coachman, stop, stop! Coachman, do you hear? stop your
  horses this moment, and let me get down:--The fellow’s run away
  behind an omnibus without giving me change out of my half-crown.

  That’s alvays the vay they does on these here hoccasions: they
  calls it catching a flat:--Sorry I can’t stop. Where’s the new
  police? Pretty police truly, to suffer such work as that!

  Well, if ever I come to Epsom again! but let’s look at the list:
  it’s cost me precious dear!--Ascot, Mundig, Pelops! why, good
  heavens, coachman! they’ve sold me a list for last year!

  ‘Oh, ma! look there! what a beautiful carriage! scarlet and gold
  liveries, and horses with long tails.--And stodge-full of gentlemen
  with mustaches, and cigars and macintoshes, and green veils:

  Whose is it, ma? Don’t know, my dear; but no doubt belongs to some
  duke, or marquis, or other great nob.--Beg your pardon, ma’am: but
  that carriage as you’re looking at is a party of the swell mob.

  And, oh my! ma: look at that other, full of beautiful ladies,
  dressed like queens and princesses.--Silks and satins and velvets,
  and gauze sleeves and ermine tippets: I never saw such elegant
  dresses:

  And how merry they look, laughing and smiling! they seem determined
  to enjoy the sport:--Who are they, ma? Don’t know, dear; but no
  doubt they’re Court ladies. Yes, ma’am, Cranbourne Court.

  How do, Smith? nice sort of tit you’ve got there. Very nice
  indeed: _very_ nice sort of mare.--Beautiful legs she’s got, and
  nicely-turned ancles, and ’pon my word, a most elegant head of hair.

  How old is she? and how high does she stand? I should like to
  buy her if she’s for sale.--Oh, she’s quite young: not above
  five-and-twenty or thirty; and her height exactly a yard and a half
  and a nail:

  Price eighty guineas. She’d be just the thing for you; capital
  hunter as ever appeared at a fixture.--Only part with her on
  account of her colour; not that _I_ mind: only Mrs. S. don’t like
  an _Oxford mixture_.

  Hehlo! you faylow! you person smoking the pipe, I wish you’d
  take your quadruped out of the way.--Quadruped, eh? you be blowed!
  it’s no quadruped, but as good a donkey as ever was fed upon hay.

  Oh, my! ma: there’s the course. What lots of people, and horses,
  and booths, and grand stands!--And what oceans of gipsies and
  jugglers, and barrel organs, and military bands!

  And was ever such sights of Savoyards and French women singing and
  E-O-tables;--And horses rode up and down by little boys, or tied
  together in bundles, and put up in calimanco stables;

  And look at that one, they call him _Boney_-parte. Did you ever in
  all your lifetime see a leaner?--And ‘Royal Dinner Saloons’ (for
  royalty the knives might have been a little brighter, and the linen
  a little cleaner);

  And women with last-dying speeches in one hand, and in the other
  all the best new comic songs;--And, dear me! how funnily that
  gentleman sits his horse; for all the world just like a pair of
  tongs.

  And--clear the course! clear the course! Oh, dear! now the great
  Derby race is going to be run.--Twelve to one! Ten to one! Six to
  one! Nine to two! Sixteen to three! Done, done, done, done!

  Here they come! here they come! blue, green, buff, yellow, black,
  brown, white, harlequin, and red!--Sir, I wish you’d stand off our
  carriage steps: it’s quite impossible to see through your head.

  There, now they’re gone: how many times round? Times round, eh?
  why, bless your innocent face!--It’s all over. All over! you don’t
  say so! I wish I’d never come: such a take in! call that a Derby
  race!

  After being stifled with dust almost, and spoiling all our best
  bonnets and shawls and cloaks!--Call that a Derby race, indeed! I’m
  sure it’s no Derby, but nothing but a right-down, regular _Oaks_.

  But come, let’s have a bit of lunch; I’m as hungry as if I hadn’t
  had a bit all day.--Smith, what are you staring at? why don’t you
  make haste, and hand us the hamper this way?

  We shall never have anything to eat all day if you don’t stir
  yourself, and not go on at that horrid slow rate.--Oh, Lord! the
  bottom’s out, and every bit of meat and drink, and worse than all,
  the knives and forks and plate,--

  Stole and gone clean away! Good heavenlies! and I told you to keep
  your eye on the basket, you stupid lout!--Well, so I did, on the
  _top_ of it, but who’d have thought of their taking the bottom out?

  Well, never mind: they’ll be prettily disappointed: for you know,
  betwixt you and me and the wall,--Our ivory knives and forks were
  nothing but bone; and our plate nothing but German silver, after
  all.

  What race is to be run next? No more, ma’am: the others were all
  run afore you come.--Well, then, have the horses put to, Smith:
  I’ll never come a Derbying again; and let us be off home.

  Oh, lawk! what a stodge of carriages! I’m sure we shall never
  get off the course alive!--Oh, dear! do knock that young drunken
  gentleman off the box: I’m sure he’s not in a fit state to drive.

  There, I told you how it would be. Oh, law! you’ve broke my arm,
  and compound-fractured my leg!--Oh! for ’eaven’s sake, lift them
  two ’orrid osses off my darter! Sir, take your hands out of my
  pocket-hole, I beg!

  I say, the next time you crawl out of a coach window, I wish you
  wouldn’t put your foot on a lady’s chest.--Vell, if ever I seed
  such a purl as that (and I’ve seed many a good un in my time), I’ll
  be blest.

  Oh, dear! going home’s worse than coming! It’s ten to one if ever
  we get back to Tooley Street alive.--Such jostling, and pushing,
  and prancing of horses! and always the tipsiest gentleman of every
  party _will_ drive.

  I wish I was one of those ladies at the windows; or even one of the
  servant maids giggling behind the garden walls.--And oh! there’s
  Kennington turnpike! what shouting and hooting, and blowing those
  horrid cat-calls!

  Ticket, sir? got a ticket? No, I’ve lost it. A shilling, then. A
  shilling! I’ve paid you once to-day.--Oh, yes, I suppose so: the
  old tale; but it won’t do. That’s what all you sporting gentlemen
  say.

  Hinsolent feller! I’ll have you up before your betters. Come, sir,
  you mustn’t stop up the way. Well, I’ll pay you again; but, oh
  Lord! somebody’s stole my purse! good gracious, what shall I do!--I
  suppose I must leave my watch, and call for it to-morrow. Oh,
  ruination! blow’d if that isn’t gone too!

  Get on there, will you?--Well, stop a moment. Will anybody lend me
  a shilling? No? Well, here then, take my hat:--But if I don’t show
  you up in _Bell’s Life in London_, next Sunday morning, my name’s
  not Timothy Flat.

  Well, this is my last journey to Epsom, my last appearance on
  any course as a backer or hedger:--For I see plain enough a
  betting-book aint a day-book, and a Derby’s a very different thing
  from a Ledger.



CHAPTER XVI.

IN FACTORY AND MINE.


I do not know any story, not even that of the slave-trade, which can
compare, for brutality and callousness of heart, with the story of the
women and children employed in the factories and the mines of this
realm. There is nothing in the whole history of mankind which shows
more clearly the enormities which become possible when men, spurred by
desire for gain, are left uncontrolled by laws or the weight of public
opinion, and placed in the position of absolute mastery over their
fellow-men. The record of the slavery time is black in the West Indies
and the United States, God knows; but the record of the English mine
and factory is blacker still. It is so black that it seems incredible
to us. We ask ourselves in amazement if, fifty years ago, these things
could be. Alas! my friends, there are cruelties as great still going on
around us in every great city, and wherever women are forced to work
for bread. For the women and the children are inarticulate, and in the
dark places, where no light of publicity penetrates, the hand of the
master is armed with a scourge of scorpions. Let us therefore humble
ourselves, and read the story of the children in the mines with shame
as well as with indignation. The cry of the needlewomen is louder in
our ears than the cry of the children in the mines ever was to our
fathers; yet we regard it not.

[Illustration: LETTING CHILDREN DOWN A COAL MINE

(From a Plate in the _Westminster Review_)]

Fellow-sinners and partakers in the crimes of slavery, torture, and
robbery of light, life, youth, and joy, hear the tale of the Factory
and the Mine.

Early in the century--in the year 1801--the overcrowding of the
factories and mills, the neglect of the simplest sanitary precautions,
the long hours, the poor food, and insufficient rest, caused the
outbreak of a dreadful epidemic fever, which alarmed even the
mill-owners, because if they lost their hands they lost their
machinery. The hands are the producers, and the aim of the masters was
to regard the producers as so many machines. Now if your machine is
laid low with fever it is as good as an engine out of repair.

For the first time in history, not only was the public conscience
awakened, but the House of Commons was called upon to act in the
interests of health, public morals, humanity, and justice. Strange,
that the world had been Christian for so long, yet no law had been
passed to protect women and children. In the Year of Grace 1802 a
beginning was made.

By the Act then passed the daily hours of labour for children were
to be not more than twelve--yet think of making young children work
for twelve hours a day!--exclusive of an hour and a half for meals
and rest, so that the working day really covered thirteen hours and a
half, say from six in the morning until half-past seven in the evening.
This seems a good day’s work to exact of children, but it was a little
heaven compared with the state of things which preceded the Act.
Next, no children were to be employed under the age of nine. Certain
factories, proved to be unwholesome for children, were closed to them
altogether. Twenty years later Sir John Cam Hobhouse--may his soul find
peace!--invented the Saturday half-holiday for factories. There was
found, however, a loophole for cruelty and overwork; the limitation of
hours was evaded by making the hands work in relays, by which means a
child might be kept at work half the night. It was, therefore, in 1833
enacted that there should be no work done at all between 8.30 P.M.
and 5.30 A.M.: that children under thirteen should not work more than
forty-eight hours a week, and those under eighteen should not work more
than sixty-eight hours a week.

[Illustration: J. C. Hobhouse

-SIR JOHN C. HOBHOUSE-]

Observe that nothing--not the light of publicity, not public opinion,
not common humanity, not pity towards the tender children--nothing but
Law had any power to stop this daily massacre of the innocents. Yet,
no doubt, the manufacturers were subscribing for all kinds of good
objects, and reviling the Yankees continually for the institution of
Slavery.

What happened next? Greed of gain, seeing the factory closed, looked
round, and saw wide open--not the gates of Hell--but the mouth of the
Pit, and they flung the children down into the darkness, and made them
work among the narrow passages and galleries of the coal mines.

They took the child--boy or girl--at six years of age; they carried
the little thing away from the light of heaven, and lowered it deep
down into the black and gloomy pit; they placed it behind a door, and
ordered it to pull this open to let the corves, or trucks, come and
go, and to keep it shut when they were not passing. The child was set
at the door in the dark--at first they gave it a candle, which would
burn for an hour or two and then go out. Think of taking a child of
six--your child, Madam!--and putting it all alone down the dark mine!
They kept the little creature there for twelve interminable hours. If
the child cried, or went to sleep, or neglected to pull the door open,
they beat that child. The work began at four in the morning, and it
was not brought out of the pit until four, or perhaps later, in the
evening, so that in the winter the children never saw daylight at
all. The evidence given before the Royal Commission showed that the
children, when they were brought up to the pit’s mouth, were heavy and
stupefied, and cared for little when they had taken their supper but to
go to bed. And yet the men who owned these collieries had children of
their own! And they would have gone on to this very day starving the
children of light and loading them with work, stunting their growth,
and suffering them to grow up in ignorance all their days, but for Lord
Shaftesbury. This is what is written of the children and their work by
one who visited the mines:--

  To ascertain the nature of the employment of these children, I
  went down a pit.... Descending a shaft, 600 feet deep, I went some
  distance along a subterranean road which, I was told, was three
  miles in length. To the right and left of one of these roads or
  ways are low galleries, called workings, in which the hewers are
  employed, in a state of almost perfect nudity, on account of the
  great heat, digging out the coal. To these galleries there are
  traps, or doors, which are kept shut, to guard against the ingress
  or egress of inflammable air, and to prevent counter-currents
  disturbing the ventilation. The use of a child, six years of age,
  is to open and shut one of these doors when the loaded corves, or
  coal trucks, pass and repass. For this object the child is trained
  to sit by itself in a dark gallery for the number of hours I have
  described. The older boys drive horses and load the corves, but
  the little children are always trap-keepers. When first taken down
  they have a candle given them, but, gradually getting accustomed to
  the gloom of the place, they have to do without, and sit therefore
  literally in the dark the whole time of their imprisonment.

[Illustration: CHILDREN WORKING IN A COAL MINE

(From a Plate in the _Westminster Review_)]

When a child grew strong enough, he or she--boy or girl--was promoted
to the post of drawer, or thrutcher. The drawer, boy or girl alike,
clad in a short pair of trousers and nothing else, had a belt tied
round the waist and a chain attached by one end to the belt and the
other to the corve, or truck, which he dragged along the galleries
to the place where it was loaded for the mouth, the chain passing
between his legs; on account of the low height of the galleries he had
generally to go on all-fours. Those who were the thrutchers pushed the
truck along with their heads and hands. They wore a thick cap, but
the work made them bald on the top of the head. When the boys grew up
they became hewers, but the women, if they stayed in the pit, remained
drawers or thrutchers, continuing to the end of the day to push or drag
the truck dressed in nothing but the pair of short trousers. This was a
beautiful kind of life for Christian women and children to be leading.
So many children were wanted, that in one colliery employing 400 hands
there were 100 under twenty and 56 under thirteen. In another, where
there was an inundation, there were 44 children, of whom 26 were
drowned; of these 11 were girls and 15 boys; 9 were under ten years of
age. Again, in the year 1838, there were 38 children under thirteen
killed by colliery accidents and 62 young people under eighteen.

When men talk about the interference of the State and the regulation
of hours, let us always remember this history of the children in the
Pit. Yet there were men in plenty who denounced the action of the
Government: some of them were leaders in the philanthropic world; some
of them were religious men; some of them humane men; but they could
not bear to think that any limit should be imposed upon the power of
the employer. In point of fact, when one considers the use which the
employer has always made of his power, how every consideration has been
always set aside which might interfere with the acquisition of wealth,
it seems as if the chief business of the Legislature should be the
protection of the employed.

[Illustration: LONDON STREET CHARACTERS, 1837

(From a Drawing by John Leech)]

Again, take the story of the chimney-sweep. Fifty years ago the
master went his morning rounds accompanied by his climbing boys. It
is difficult now to understand how much time and trouble it took
to convince people that the climbing boy was made to endure an
extraordinary amount of suffering quite needlessly, because a brush
would do the work quite as well. Consider: the poor little wretch’s
hands, elbows, and knees were constantly being torn by the bricks;
sometimes he stuck going up, sometimes coming down; sometimes the
chimney-pot at the top fell off, the child with it, so that he was
killed. He was beaten and kicked unmercifully; his master would
sometimes light a fire underneath so as to force him to come down
quickly. The boy’s life was intolerable to him. He was badly fed, badly
clothed, and never washed, though his occupation demanded incessant
cleanliness--the neglect of which was certain to bring on a most
dreadful disease. And all this because his master would not use a
broom. It was not until 1841 that the children were protected by Acts
of Parliament.

The men have shown themselves able to protect themselves. The
improvement in their position is due wholly to their own combination.
That it will still more improve no one can for a moment doubt. If
we were asked to forecast the future, one thing would be safe to
prophesy--namely, that it will become, day by day, increasingly
difficult to get rich. Meanwhile, let us remember that we have with
us still the women and the children, who cannot combine. _We have
protected the latter; how--oh! my brothers--how shall we protect the
former?_



CHAPTER XVII.

WITH THE MEN OF SCIENCE.


On the science of fifty years ago, much might be written but for
a single reason--namely, that I know very little indeed about the
condition of science in that remote period, and very little about
science of to-day. There were no telegraph wires, but there were
semaphores talking to each other all day long; there was no practical
application of electricity at all; there was no telephone--I wish there
were none now; there were no anæsthetics; there were no--but why go
on? Schools had no Science Masters; universities no Science Tripos;
Professors of Science were a feeble folk. I can do no better for this
chapter than to reproduce a report of a Scientific Meeting first
published in Tilt’s Annual, to which Hood, Thackeray, and other eminent
professors of science contributed, for the year 1836:--

  EXTRACTS FROM THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE ASSOCIATION OF BRITISH
    ILLUMINATI, AT THEIR ANNUAL MEETING, HELD IN DUBLIN, AUGUST, 1835.

  Dr. Hoaxum read an interesting paper on the conversion of moonbeams
  into substance, and rendering shadows permanent, both of which
  he had recently exemplified in the establishment of some public
  companies, whose prospectuses he laid upon the table.

  Mr. Babble produced his calculating machine, and its wonderful
  powers were tested in many ways by the audience. It supplied to
  Captain Sir John North an accurate computation of the distance
  between a quarto volume and a cheesemonger’s shop; and solved a
  curious question as to the decimal proportions of cunning and
  credulity, which, worked by the rule of allegation, would produce a
  product of 10,000_l._

  Professor Yon Hammer described his newly discovered process for
  breaking stones by an algebraic fraction.

  Mr. Crowsfoot read a paper on the natural history of the Rook. He
  defended their _caws_ with great _effect_, and proved that there
  is not a _grain_ of truth in the charges against them, which only
  arise from _Grub_ Street malice.

  The Rev. Mr. Groper exhibited the skin of a toad, which he
  discovered alive in a mass of sandstone. The animal was found
  engaged on its autobiography, and died of fright on having its
  house so suddenly broken into, being probably of a nervous habit
  from passing so much time alone. Some extracts from its memoir
  were read, and found exceedingly interesting. Its thoughts on the
  ‘silent system’ of prison discipline, though written _in the dark_,
  strictly agreed with those of our most _enlightened_ political
  economists.

  Dr. Deady read a scientific paper on the manufacture of
  Hydro-_gin_, which greatly interested those of the association who
  were members of Temperance Societies.

  Mr. Croak laid on the table an essay from the Cabinet Makers’
  Society, on the construction of _frog-stools_.

  Professor Parley exhibited his speaking machine, which distinctly
  articulated the words ‘_Repale! Repale!_’ to the great delight of
  many of the audience. The learned Professor stated that he was
  engaged on another, for the use of his Majesty’s Ministers, which
  would already say, ‘My Lords and Gentlemen;’ and he doubted not,
  by the next meeting of Parliament, would be able to pronounce the
  whole of the opening speech.

  Mr. Multiply produced, and explained the principle of, his
  exaggerating machine. He displayed its amazing powers on the
  mathematical point, which, with little trouble, was made to appear
  as large as a coach-wheel. He demonstrated its utility in all the
  relations of society, as applied to the failings of the absent--the
  growth of a tale of scandal--the exploits of travellers, &c. &c.

  The Author of the ‘Pleasures of Hope’ presented, through a
  member, a very amusing Essay on the gratification arising from the
  throttling of crying children; but as the ladies would not leave
  the room, it could not be read.

  Captain North exhibited some shavings of the real Pole, and a
  small bottle which, he asserted, contained scintillations of
  the Aurora Borealis, from which, he stated, he had succeeded in
  extracting pure gold. He announced that his nephew was preparing
  for a course of similar experiments, of which he expected to know
  the result in October. The gallant Captain then favoured the
  company with a dissertation on phrenology, of which, he said, he
  had been a believer for thirty years. He stated that he had made
  many valuable verifications of that science on the skulls of the
  Esquimaux; and that, in his recent tour in quest of subscribers
  to his book, his great success had been mainly attributable to
  his phrenological skill; for that, whenever he had an opportunity
  of feeling for soft places in the heads of the public, he knew in
  a moment whether he should get a customer or not. He said that
  whether in the examination of ships’ heads or sheep’s heads--in
  the choice of horses or housemaids, he had found the science
  of pre-eminent utility. He related the following remarkable
  phrenological cases:--A man and woman were executed in Scotland
  for murder on presumptive evidence; but another criminal confessed
  to the deed, and a reprieve arrived the day after the execution.
  The whole country was horrified; but Captain North having examined
  their heads, he considered, from the extraordinary size of their
  destructive organs, that the sentence was prospectively just, for
  they must have become murderers, had they escaped hanging then.
  Their infant child, of six months old, was brought to him, and,
  perceiving on its head the same fatal tendencies, he determined
  to avert the evil; for which purpose, by means of a pair of
  moulds, he so compressed the skull in its vicious propensities,
  and enlarged it in its virtuous ones, that the child grew up a
  model of perfection. The second instance was of a married couple,
  whose lives were a continued scene of discord till they parted. On
  examining their heads scientifically, he discovered the elementary
  causes of their unhappiness. Their skulls were unfortunately too
  thick to be treated as in the foregoing case; but, causing both
  their heads to be shaved, he by dint of planing down in some
  places, and laying on padding in others, contrived to produce
  all the requisite phrenological developments, and they were then
  living, a perfect pattern of conjugal felicity, ‘a thing which
  could not have happened without phrenology.’ (This dissertation
  was received with loud applauses from the entire assembly, whose
  phrenological organs becoming greatly excited, and developed in an
  amazing degree by the enthusiasm of the subject, they all fell to
  examining each other’s bumps with such eagerness that the meeting
  dissolved in confusion.)



CHAPTER XVIII.

LAW AND JUSTICE.


Five thousand three hundred and forty-four enactments have been added
to the Statute Book since the Queen came to the throne, and the figures
throw a flood of light upon the ‘progress’ of the Victorian era. In
order to realise where we were in 1837 we have only to obliterate this
enormous mass of legislation. In the realm of law there seems then to
be little left. All our procedure--equitable, legal, and criminal--much
of the substance of equity, law, and justice, as we understand the
words, is gone. ‘Law’ had a different meaning fifty years ago; ‘equity’
hardly had any meaning at all; ‘justice’ had an ugly sound.

The ‘local habitation’ of the Courts, it is true, was then much the
same as it remained for the next forty-five years. The network of
gloomy little rooms, connected with narrow winding passages, which Sir
John Soane built in 1820–1825, on the west side of Westminster Hall, on
the site of the old Exchequer Chamber, with an exterior in imitation of
Palladio’s basilica at Vicenza, but outrageously out of keeping with
the glorious vestibule of William Rufus, was then the home of law. The
Court of Chancery met in a gloomy little apartment near the southern
end of the hall. Here the Lord Chancellor sat in term time--there
were then four terms of three weeks each--with the mace and crimson
silk bag, embroidered with gold, in which was deposited the silver
pair of dies of the Great Seal, and a large nosegay of flowers before
him. It was, in those days, only in the vacations that the Chancellor
sat at Lincoln’s Inn. The Master of the Rolls and the Vice-Chancellor
of England also sat at Westminster during the sittings, while in the
intervals the former presided over the Rolls Court in Rolls Yard and
the latter over the Court which had been built for him on the west
side of Lincoln’s Inn Hall. The three Common Law Courts, moreover,
during term time, sat twelve days at Westminster and twelve days at the
Guildhall, while the Assizes were chiefly held during the vacations.

[Illustration: A POINT OF LAW.]

The High Court of Admiralty held its sittings at Doctors’ Commons, in
both the Instance Court and the Prize Court, practically throughout
the legal year, and so did the Ecclesiastical Courts. The Bankruptcy
Court was in Basinghall Street; the Insolvent Debtors’ Court in
Lincoln’s Inn Fields, with an entrance from Portugal Street. There were
then no County Courts. The ancient Hundred and County Courts, with
their primitive procedure, had long been disused. Certain ‘Courts of
Conscience’ or ‘Courts of Request’ had, it is true, been established
for particular localities at the express request of the inhabitants,
and these were still being constituted in some of the large towns.
Then in London there were local Courts with a peculiar jurisdiction,
such as the City Courts, which would fill a chapter by themselves, and
of which it is enough to name the Lord Mayor’s Court, the Sheriff’s
Courts of Poultry Compter and Giltspur Street Compter, both afterwards
merged into the City of London Court. In Great Scotland Yard there was
the Palace Court, with the Knight Marshal for judge, which anciently
had exclusive jurisdiction in matters connected with the Royal
Household, but now was a minor court of record for actions for debt
within Westminster and twelve miles round. The Court had its own prison
in High Street, Southwark--the Marshalsea of ‘Little Dorrit,’ not the
old historic Marshalsea, which was demolished at the beginning of the
century--that stood farther north, occupying the site of No. 119 High
Street--but a new Marshalsea, built in 1811 on the site of the old
White Lyon, once a hostelry, but since the end of the sixteenth century
itself a prison. The Palace Court came to a sudden end in 1849, owing
to ‘Jacob Omnium’ being sued in it. Thackeray tells the story in ‘Jacob
Homnium’s Hoss:’--

    Pore Jacob went to Court,
      A Counsel for to fix.
    And choose a barrister out of the four,
      And an attorney of the six.
    And there he sor these men of lor,
      And watched them at their tricks.

           *       *       *       *       *

    O a weary day was that
      For Jacob to go through;
    The debt was two seventeen
      (Which he no mor owed than you),
    And then there was the plaintives costs,
      Eleven pound six and two.

    And then there was his own,
      Which the lawyers they did fix
    At the wery moderit figgar
      Of ten pound one and six.
    Now Evins bless the Pallis Court,
      And all its bold ver-dicks!

The sittings of the Central Criminal Court, which was founded in 1834,
were held, as they are still held, in the Sessions House in the Old
Bailey. Rebuilt in 1809 on the site of the old Sessions House which
was destroyed in the No-Popery riots of 1780, and of the old Surgeons’
Hall--where the bodies of the malefactors executed in Newgate were
dissected--the building, although sufficiently commodious for holding
the sessions of London and Middlesex, for which it was originally
intended, as the centre of the criminal jurisdiction of the kingdom,
was never anything but a makeshift. Since, however, its dingy Courts
have remained the same down to our own times, we can the better realise
the surroundings of the criminal trials of those days. It was here
that Greenacre was tried in 1837. Bow Street was then in the zenith of
its fame, and was practically the centre of the police arrangements of
London.

[Illustration: MARSHALSEA--THE COURTYARD]

Those were the palmy days of the Court of Chancery. Reform was, as it
had been for centuries, in the air, and there, notwithstanding the
efforts of Lord Lyndhurst, it seemed likely to remain. Practically
nothing had been done to carry into effect the recommendations of the
Commission of 1826. At the time of her Majesty’s accession there were
nearly a thousand causes waiting to be heard by the Lord Chancellor,
the Master of the Rolls, and the Vice-Chancellor of England. It was
verily a ‘dead sea of stagnant litigation.’ ‘The load of business now
before the Court,’ remarked Sir Lancelot Shadwell, ‘is so great that
three angels could not get through it.’ Think what this meant! Many
of these suits had endured for a quarter of a century, some for half
a century; ‘the lawyers,’ to use the current, if incorrect, phrase of
the time, ‘tossing the balls to each other.’ One septuagenarian suitor,
goaded to madness by the ‘law’s delay,’ had, a few years before, thrust
his way into the presence of Lord Eldon, and begged for a decision
in a cause waiting for judgment which had been before the Court ever
since the Lord Chancellor, then nearly eighty, was a schoolboy.
Everyone remembers ‘Miss Flite,’ who expected a judgment--‘on the Day
of Judgment,’ and Gridley ‘the man from Shropshire:’ both are true
types of the Chancery suitors of fifty, thirty, twenty years ago. It
would be wearisome indeed to detail the stages through which a Chancery
suit dragged its slow length along. The ‘eternal’ bills, with which
it began--and ended--cross bills, answers, interrogatories, replies,
rejoinders, injunctions, decrees, references to masters, masters’
reports, exceptions to masters’ reports, were veritably ‘a mountain of
costly nonsense.’ And when we remember that the intervals between the
various stages were often measured by years--that every death made a
bill of review, or, worse still, a supplemental suit, necessary--we
can realise the magnitude of the evil. The mere comparison of the
‘bills’ in Chancery with the ‘bills of mortality’ shows that with
proper management a suit need never have come to an end. There is a
story for which the late Mr. Chitty is responsible, that an attorney
on the marriage of his son handed him over a Chancery suit with some
common law actions. A couple of years afterwards the son asked his
father for some more business. ‘Why, I gave you that capital Chancery
suit,’ replied his father; ‘what more can you want?’ ‘Yes, sir,’ said
the son; ‘but I have wound up the Chancery suit and given my client
great satisfaction, and he is in possession of the estate.’ ‘What, you
improvident fool!’ rejoined the father indignantly. ‘That suit was in
my family for twenty-five years, and would have continued so for so
much longer if I had kept it. I shall not encourage such a fellow.’

As in Butler’s time it might still be said:--

    So lawyers, lest the Bear defendant,
    And plaintiff Dog, should make an end on’t,
    Do stave and tail with writ of error,
    Reverse of judgment, and demurrer,
    To let them breathe awhile, and then
    Cry Whoop! and set them on again.

In fact, like ‘Jarndyce and Jarndyce,’ hundreds of suits struggled on
until they expired of inanition, the costs having swallowed up the
estate. Such were the inevitable delays fifty years ago, that no one
could enter into a Chancery suit with the least prospect of being alive
at its termination. It was no small part of the duty of the respectable
members of the legal profession to keep their clients out of Chancery.
It was, perhaps, inevitable that this grievance should have been made
the shuttlecock of party, that personalities should have obscured
it, that, instead of the system, the men who were almost as much its
victims as the suitors should have been blamed. Many successive Lord
Chancellors in this way came in for much undeserved obloquy. The plain
truth was, they were overworked. Besides their political functions,
they had to preside in the Lords over appeals from themselves, the
Master of the Rolls, and the Vice-Chancellor; they had some heavy work
in bankruptcy and lunacy. The number of days that could be devoted
to sitting as a Chancery judge of first instance was, therefore,
necessarily small. That this was the keynote of the difficulty was
shown by the marked improvement which followed upon the appointment of
two additional Vice-Chancellors in 1841. In that year, too, another
scandal was done away with by the abolition of the Six Clerks’
office--a characteristic part of the unwieldy machine. The depositaries
of the practice of the Court, the Six Clerks and their underlings, the
‘Clerks in Court,’ were responsible for much of the delay which arose.
The ‘Six Clerks’ were paid by fees, and their places were worth nearly
two thousand a year, for which they did practically nothing, all their
duties being discharged by deputy. No one, it was said, ever saw one of
the ‘Six Clerks.’ Even in their office they were not known. The Masters
in Chancery were, too, in those days almost as important functionaries
as the judges themselves. Judges’ Chambers were not then in existence,
and much of the work which now comes before the judges was disposed of
by a master, as well as such business as the investigation of titles,
the taking of accounts, and the purely administrative functions of the
Court. All these duties they discharged with closed doors and free from
any supervision worth talking about. They, too, were paid by fees,
their receipts amounting to an immense sum, and it was to them that
the expense of proceedings was largely due. The agitation for their
abolition, although not crowned with success until fifteen years later,
was in full blast fifty years ago.

At law, matters were little better. ‘Justice was strangled in the nets
of form.’ The Courts of King’s Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer
were not only at conflict with Equity, but in a lesser degree with
each other. The old fictions by which they ousted each other’s
jurisdiction lasted down to 1831, when, by statute, a uniformity of
process was established. It seems nowadays to savour of the Middle
Ages, that in order to bring an action in the King’s Bench it should
have been necessary for the writ to describe the cause of action to
be ‘trespass,’ and then to mention the real cause of action in an
_ac etiam_ clause. The reason for this absurd formality was that,
‘trespass’ still being an offence of a criminal nature, the defendant
was constructively in the custody of the Marshal of the Marshalsea,
and therefore within the jurisdiction of the King’s Bench. In the
same way a civil matter was brought before the Court of Exchequer by
the pretence that the plaintiff was a debtor to the King, and was
less able to pay by reason of the defendant’s conduct. The statement,
although in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred a mere fiction, was not
allowed to be contradicted. But the fact that the jurisdiction of the
Court of Common Pleas was thus entrenched upon was less serious than it
might have been, since in that court the serjeants still had exclusive
audience; and, distinguished as were the members of the Order of the
Coif, it is easy to understand that the public preferred to have their
pick of the Bar.

But a much more serious matter was the block in the Courts. This
perennial grievance seems to have then been chiefly due to the
shortness of the terms during which alone legal questions could
be decided. _Nisi prius_ trials only could be disposed of in the
vacations. Points of law or practice, however, cropped up in those
days in even the simplest matter, and, since these often had to stand
over from term to term, the luckless litigants were fortunate indeed
if they had not to wait for years before the question in dispute was
finally disposed of. The Common Law Procedure, moreover, literally
bristled with technicalities. It was a system of solemn juggling. The
real and imaginary causes of action were so mixed up together, the
‘pleadings’ required such a mass of senseless falsehood, that it is
perfectly impossible that the parties to the action could have the
least apprehension of what they were doing. Then no two different
causes of action could be joined, but each had to be prosecuted
separately through all its stages. None of the parties interested were
competent to give evidence. It was not until 1851 that the plaintiff
and the defendant, often the only persons who could give any account
of the matter, could go into the witness-box. Mistakes in such a
state of things were, of course, of common occurrence, and in those
days mistakes were fatal. Proceedings by way of appeal were equally
hazardous and often impracticable. The Exchequer Chamber could only
take cognisance of ‘error’ raised by a ‘bill of exceptions;’ and even
at this time the less that is said about that triumph of special
pleading the better. The House of Lords could only sit as a Court of
Error upon points which had run the gauntlet of the Exchequer Chamber.
But perhaps the crowning grievance of all--a grievance felt equally
keenly by suitors at law and in equity--arose from the limited powers
of the Courts. If there were a remedy at law for any given wrong, for
instance, the Court of Chancery could give no relief. In the same way,
if it turned out, as it often did, that a plaintiff should have sued
in equity instead of proceeding at law, he was promptly nonsuited. Law
could not grant an injunction; equity could not construe an Act of
Parliament.

There were then, as we have said, no County Courts. The Courts of
Requests, of which there were not a hundred altogether, only had
jurisdiction for the recovery of debts under 40_s._ We have already
given an illustration of the methods of Palace Court, which may serve
as a type of these minor courts of record. Indeed, with the exception
of the City of London, which was before the times in this respect,
there was throughout the kingdom a denial of justice. Those who could
not afford to pay the Westminster price had to go without. For in those
days all matters intended to be heard at the Assizes were in form
prepared for trial at Westminster. The ‘record’ was delivered to the
officers of the King’s Bench, Common Pleas, or Exchequer, and the cause
was set down for trial at Westminster, _nisi prius_ in the meantime the
judges happened to go on circuit into the county in which the cause of
action arose,--in which event one of them would take down the record,
try the action with a jury of the county, pronounce judgment according
to the verdict, and bring back verdict and judgment, to be enrolled in
due course at Westminster. In equity, things were even worse. There
was, except in the counties palatine of Durham and Lancaster, no
local equitable jurisdiction. And it was commonly said, and said with
obvious truth, that no sum of less than 500_l._ was worth suing for or
defending in the Court of Chancery.

Divorce was then the ‘luxury of the wealthy.’ An action for the
recovery of damages against the co-respondent, and a suit in the
Ecclesiastical Courts for a separation ‘from bed and board,’ themselves
both tedious and costly, after having been successfully prosecuted,
had to be followed by a Divorce Bill, which had to pass through all
its stages in both Lords and Commons, before a divorce _a vinculo
matrimonii_ could be obtained. There is a hoary anecdote which usefully
illustrates how this pressed upon the poor. ‘Prisoner at the bar,’
said a judge to a man who had just been convicted of bigamy, his wife
having run away with another man, ‘the institutions of your country
have provided you with a remedy. You should have sued the adulterer
at the Assizes, and recovered a verdict against him, and then taken
proceedings by your proctor in the Ecclesiastical Courts. After their
successful termination you might have applied to Parliament for a
Divorce Act, and your counsel would have been heard at the Bar of the
House.’ ‘But, my lord,’ said the disconsolate bigamist, ‘I cannot
afford to bring actions or obtain Acts of Parliament; I am only a very
poor man.’ ‘Prisoner,’ rejoined the judge, with a twinkle in his eye,
‘it is the glory of the law of England that it knows no distinction
between rich and poor.’ Yet it was not until twenty years after the
Queen came to the throne that the Court for Divorce and Matrimonial
Causes was created.

Probate, too, and all matters and suits relating to testacy and
intestacy, were disposed of in the Ecclesiastical Courts,--tribunals
were attached to the archbishops, bishops, and archdeacons. The Court
of Arches, the supreme Ecclesiastical Court for the Province of
Canterbury, the Prerogative Court, where all contentious testamentary
causes were tried, as well as the Admiralty Courts, were held at
Doctors’ Commons. It was a curious mixture of spiritual and legal
functions. The judges and officers of the Court were often clergy
without any knowledge of the law. They were paid by fees, and,
according to the common practice of those days, often discharged their
duties by deputy. The advocates who practised before them were, too,
anything but ‘learned in the law.’ They wore in Court, if of Oxford,
scarlet robes and hoods lined with taffety, and if of Cambridge, white
miniver and round black velvet caps. The proctors wore black robes and
hoods lined with fur. The procedure was similar to that in vogue in
the Common Law Courts, but the nomenclature was entirely different.
The substitute for punishment was ‘penance,’ and the consequence of
non-submission ‘excommunication,’ which, in addition to spiritual
pains, incapacitated the delinquent from bringing any action, and
at the end of forty days rendered him liable to imprisonment by the
Court of Chancery. The practical result was that both penance and
excommunication were indirect methods of extracting money payments.
But the whole system was full of abuses, and when, twenty years later,
these courts were shorn of all their important functions, it was with
the universal concurrence of the public. Until then there were many who
shared the opinion of De Foe’s intelligent foreigner, that ‘England was
a fine country, but a man called Doctors’ Commons was the devil, for
there was no getting out of his clutches, let one’s cause be never so
good, without paying a great deal of money.’

In bankruptcy, a severity which was simply ferocious prevailed. Traders
owing more than 300_l._, and a little later all traders, could obtain
a discharge upon full disclosure and surrender of all their property;
but even then the proceedings were protracted to an almost interminable
length. The machinery was both cumbrous and costly. Down to 1831 the
bankruptcy law in London was administered by Commissioners appointed
separately for each case by the Lord Chancellor. In that year a Court
of Review was established, with a chief judge and two minor judges;
and this to some extent controlled and supervised the proceedings of
the Commissioners, now a permanent body. In the country, however,
the old procedure prevailed; but the amount of business done was
ridiculously small, creditors preferring, as they always probably will
do, to write off the bad debts rather than to attempt to recover them
by the aid of the bankruptcy law. The system, moreover, bristled with
pains and penalties. If a bankrupt, as alleged, did not surrender to
his commission within forty-two days of notice; nor make discovery
of his estate and effects; nor deliver up his books and papers, he
was to be deemed a felon and liable to be transported for life. An
adjudication--the first stage in the proceedings--was granted upon the
mere affidavit of a creditor, a fiat was issued, the Commissioners
held a meeting, and, without hearing the debtor at all, declared him
a bankrupt. It was thus quite possible for a trader to find himself in
the _Gazette_, and ultimately in prison, although perfectly solvent.
He had his remedies, it is true. He could bring an action of trespass
or false imprisonment against the Commissioners. He could make things
uncomfortable for the assignee, by impeaching the validity of the
adjudication. But in any case a delay extending perhaps over many years
was inevitable before the matter was decided.

‘Insolvent debtors,’ as those not in trade were distinguished, were in
yet worse case. Imprisonment on ‘mesne process’ or, in plain English,
on the mere affidavit of a creditor, was the leading principle of this
branch of the bankruptcy law; and in prison the debtor remained until
he found security or paid. The anomaly which exempted real estate from
the payment of debts had been removed in 1825; and, since then, a
debtor, actually in prison, could obtain a release from confinement by
a surrender of all his real and personal property, although he remained
liable for all the unpaid portion of his debts whenever the Court
should be satisfied of his ability to pay them. Everything, moreover,
depended upon the creditor. He still had an absolute option, after
verdict and judgment, of taking the body of the debtor in satisfaction,
and the early records of the Court for the Relief of Insolvent
Debtors show how weak and impotent were the remedies provided by the
Legislature. It was not until twenty years later that the full benefits
of bankruptcy were extended to persons who had become indebted without
fraud or culpable negligence. Enough has already been said of the state
of the debtors’ prisons. It is sufficient to add here that in the
second year of the Queen nearly four thousand persons were arrested
for debt in London alone, and of these nearly four hundred remained
permanently in prison.

It was, however, in the administration of the criminal law that the
harsh temper of the times reached its zenith. Both as regards procedure
and penalties, justice then dealt hardly indeed with persons accused
of crimes. In cases of felony, for instance, the prisoner could not,
down to 1836, be defended by counsel, and had, therefore, to speak
for himself. Now think what this meant! The whole proceedings, from
arrest to judgment, were--for the matter of that they still are--highly
artificial and technical. The prisoner, often poor and uneducated, was
generally unaccustomed to sustained thought. The indictment, which was
only read over to him, was often almost interminable in length, with a
separate count for each offence, and all the counts mixed and varied in
every way that a subtle ingenuity could suggest. Defences depended as
largely for their success upon the prisoner taking advantage of some
technical flaw (which, in many cases, had to be done before pleading
to the indictment), as upon his establishing his innocence upon the
facts. But what chance had an illiterate prisoner of detecting even
a fundamental error when he was not allowed a copy of the document?
In fact, in the words of Mr. Justice Stephen, the most eminent living
authority upon the history of our criminal law,’ it is scarcely a
parody to say that from the earliest times down to our own days the law
relating to indictments was much the same as if some small proportion
of the prisoners convicted had been allowed to toss-up for their
liberty.’

There might, further, be the grossest errors of law, as laid down
by the judge to the jury, or of fact upon the evidence, without the
prisoner having any remedy. Neither the evidence nor the judge’s
directions appeared upon the face of the ‘record,’ and it was only for
some irregularity upon the record that a writ of error would lie. A
curious practice, however, gradually sprang up, whereby substantial
miscarriage of justice was often averted. If a legal point of any
difficulty arose in any criminal case heard at the Assizes, or
elsewhere, the judge respited the prisoner, or postponed judgment, and
reported the matter to the judges. The point reserved was then argued
before the judges by counsel, not in court, but at Serjeants’ Inn, of
which all the judges were members. If it was decided that the prisoner
had been improperly convicted, he received a free pardon. It was this
tribunal which was in 1848 erected into the Court for Crown Cases
Reserved.

The outcry against capital punishment for minor felonies was still in
full blast. The history of this legislation is extremely curious. The
value of human life was slowly raised. It had, thanks to the noble
efforts of Sir Samuel Romilly, ceased to be a capital offence to steal
from a shop to the amount of 5_s._; but public opinion was still more
enlightened than the laws. A humane judge compelled to pass sentence of
death upon a woman convicted of stealing from a dwelling-house to the
value of 40_s._, shocked when the wretched victim fainted away, cried
out, ‘Good woman, good woman, I don’t mean to hang you. I don’t mean
to hang you. Will nobody tell her I don’t mean to hang her?’ Jurors
perjured themselves rather than subject anybody to this awful penalty.
In 1833 Lord Suffield, in the House of Lords, declared, ‘I hold in my
hand a list of 555 perjured verdicts delivered at the Old Bailey in
fifteen years, for the single offence of stealing from dwelling-houses;
the value stolen being in these cases sworn above the value of 40_s._
but the verdicts returned being to the value of 39_s._ only.’ Human
life was, then, appraised at 5_l._ But juries were equal to the
occasion. Disregarding the actual amount stolen, they substituted for
the old verdict ‘Guilty of stealing to the value of 39_s._’--‘Guilty of
stealing to the value of 4_l._ 19_s._’ Here is an illustration. A man
was convicted at the Old Bailey of robbing his employers to the amount
of 1,000_l._ The evidence was overwhelming. Property worth 200_l._
was found in his own room; 300_l._ more was traced to the man to whom
he had sold it. The jury found him guilty of stealing to the amount
of 4_l._ 19_s._ He was again indicted for stealing 25_l._, and again
convicted of stealing less than 5_l._ In the remaining indictments the
prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to the same extent. In the same
way, for years prior to 1832, when the death penalty for forgery was
abolished--except in the cases of wills and powers of attorney relating
to the public funds--juries refused to convict. ‘Prisoner at the bar,’
said Chief Baron Richards to a man acquitted at Carnarvon Assizes for
forging Bank of England notes, ‘although you have been acquitted by
a jury of your countrymen of the crime of forgery, I am as convinced
of your guilt as that two and two make four.’ And the jury privately
admitted that they were of the same opinion. In short, the severity
of the penal code was a positive danger to the community. Professed
thieves made a rich harvest by getting themselves indicted capitally,
because they then felt sure of escape. The sentence, moreover, could
not be carried out. It became usual in all cases except murder to
merely order it to be recorded, which had the effect of a reprieve.
Here are some figures. In the three years ended December 31, 1833,
there were 896 commitments in London and Middlesex on capital offences
and only twelve executions. In 1834, 1835, and 1836 there were 823
commitments and no executions. With the first year of the Queen a
more merciful _régime_ was begun. Six offences--forgery in all cases;
rioting; rescuing murderers; inciting to mutiny; smuggling with arms;
and kidnapping slaves--were declared not capital. But it was not until
1861 that all these blots were finally erased from the Statute Book.

Among other mediæval barbarities, the dissection of a murderer’s body
was not abolished until 1861, but it was made optional in 1832. Hanging
in chains was done away with in 1834. The pillory, a punishment limited
to perjury since 1816, was altogether abolished in 1837. The stocks had
been generally superseded by the treadmill ten years earlier. Common
assaults and many misdemeanours were, on the other hand, much more
leniently dealt with in those days than they are in our own. As late as
1847 a case occurred in which a ruffian pounded his wife with his fists
so that she remained insensible for three days. Yet, since he used no
weapon, he could only be convicted of a common assault and imprisoned
without hard labour.

But it was not perhaps an unmixed evil that the powers of the
magistrates were then very limited. The ‘Great Unpaid,’ as they were
then universally known, were a bye-word. Their proceedings, both at
Petty and Quarter Sessions, were disgraced by ignorance, rashness, and
class prejudice. Summary jurisdiction was then, fortunately, only in
its infancy.



CHAPTER XIX.

CONCLUSION.


The consideration of the country as it was would not be complete
without some comparison with the country as it is. But I will make this
comparison as brief as possible.

In the Church, the old Calvinism is well-nigh dead: even the Low Church
of the present day would have seemed, fifty years ago, a kind of veiled
Popery. And the Church has grown greater and stronger. She will be
greater and stronger still when she enlarges her borders to admit the
great bodies of Nonconformists. The old grievances exist no longer:
there are no pluralists: there is no non-resident Vicar: the small
benefices are improved: Church architecture has revived: the Church
services are rendered with loving and jealous care: the old reproaches
are no longer hurled at the clergy: fat and lazy shepherds they
certainly are not: careless and perfunctory they cannot now be called:
even if they are less scholarly, which must be sorrowfully admitted,
they are more earnest.

[Illustration: M Faraday

-MICHAEL FARADAY-]

The revival of the Church services has produced its effect also upon
Dissent. Its ministers are more learned and more cultured: their
congregations are no longer confined to the humbler trading-class:
their leaders belong to society: their writers are among the best
_littérateurs_ of the day.

That the science of warfare, by sea and land, has also changed, is
a doubtful advantage. Yet wars are short, which is, in itself, an
immeasurable gain. The thin red line will be seen no more: nor the
splendid great man-o’-war, with a hundred guns and a crew of a thousand
men.

The Universities, which, fifty years ago, belonged wholly to the
Church, are now thrown open. The Fellowships and Scholarships of the
Colleges were then mostly appropriated: they are now free, and the
range of studies has been immensely widened.

As for the advance in physical and medical science I am not qualified
to speak. But everybody knows that it has been enormous: while, in
surgery, the discovery of anæsthetics has removed from life one of its
most appalling horrors.

In literature, though new generations of writers have appeared and
passed away, we have still with us the two great poets who, fifty years
ago, had already begun their work. The Victorian era can boast of such
names as Carlyle, Macaulay, Thackeray, Dickens, Tennyson, and Browning,
in the first rank of men of letters; those of Darwin, Faraday, and
Huxley in science. Besides these there has been an immense crowd of
men and women who belong to the respectable second rank--to enumerate
whom would take pages. Who can say if any of them will live beyond the
century, and if any will be remembered in a hundred years?

We have all grown richer, much richer. ‘The poor,’ says Mr. George,
‘have grown poorer.’ That is most distinctly and emphatically untrue.
Nothing could be more untrue. The poor--that is to say, the working
classes--have grown distinctly better off. They are better housed; they
are better fed; they are more cheaply fed; they are better dressed;
they have a thousand luxuries to which they were formerly strangers;
their children are educated; in most great towns they have free
libraries; they have their own clubs; they are at liberty to combine
and to hold public meetings; they have the Post Office Savings Bank;
and, as for political power, they have all the power there is, because
you cannot give any man more than his vote.

Formerly they demanded the Six Points of the Charter, and thought that
universal happiness would follow on their acquisition. We have now got
most of the Six Points, and we do not care much about the rest. Yet
happiness is not by any means universal. Some there are who still think
that by more tinkering of the machinery the happiness of the people
will be assured. Others there are who consider that political and
social wisdom, on the possession of which by our rulers the welfare
of the people does mainly depend, is outside and independent of the
machinery.

Is it nothing, again, that the people have found out their own country?
Formerly their lives were spent wholly in the place where they
were born; they knew no other. Now the railways carry them cheaply
everywhere. In one small town of Lancashire the factory-hands alone
spend 30,000_l._ a year in excursions. The railways, far more than
the possession of a vote, had given the people a knowledge of their
strength.

The civil service of the country is no longer in the patronage of
the Government. There are few spoils left to the victors; there
are no sinecures left; except in the Crown Colonies, there are few
places to be given away. It is, however, very instructive to remark
that, wherever there is a place to be given away, it is invariably,
just as of old, and without the least difference of party, whether
Conservatives or Liberals are in power, filled up by jobbery,
favouritism, and private interest.

You have been told how they have introduced vast reforms in Law.
Prisons for debt have been abolished; yet men are still imprisoned for
debt. Happily I know little about the administration of Law. Some time
ago, however, I was indirectly interested in an action in the High
Court of Justice, the conduct and result of which gave me much food
for reflection. It was an action for quite a small sum of money. Yet
a year and a half elapsed between the commencement of the action and
its hearing. The verdict carried costs. _The costs amounted to three
times the sum awarded to the plaintiff._ That seems to be a delightful
condition of things when you cannot get justice to listen to you for
a year and a half, and when it may cost a defendant three times the
amount disputed in order to defend what he knows--though his counsel
may fail to make a jury understand the case--to be just and right. I
humbly submit, as the next reform in Law, that Justice shall have no
holidays, so as to expedite actions, and that the verdict shall in no
case carry costs, so as to cheapen them.

As for our recreations, we no longer bawl comic songs at taverns, and
there is no Vauxhall. On the other hand, the music-hall is certainly
no improvement on the tavern; the ‘Colonies’ was perhaps a more
respectable Vauxhall; the comic opera may be better than the old
extravaganza, but I am not certain that it is; there are the Crystal
Palace, the Aquarium, and the Albert Hall also in place of Vauxhall;
and there are outdoor amusements unknown fifty years ago--lawn tennis,
cycling, rowing, and athletics of all kinds.

There has been a great upward movement of the professional class. New
professions have come into existence, and the old professions are more
esteemed. It was formerly a poor and beggarly thing to belong to any
other than the three learned professions; a barrister would not shake
hands with a solicitor, a Nonconformist minister was not met in any
society. Artists, writers, journalists, were considered Bohemians. The
teaching of anything was held in contempt; to become a teacher was a
confession of the direst poverty--there were thousands of poor girls
eating out their hearts because they had to ‘go out’ as governesses.
There were no High Schools for girls; there were no colleges for them.

Slavery has gone. There are now no slaves in Christendom, save in the
island of Cuba. Fifty years ago an American went mad if you threw in
his teeth the ‘Institution;’ either he defended it with zeal, or else
he charged England with having introduced it into the country: in the
Southern States it was as much as a man’s life was worth to say a
word against it; travellers went South on purpose that they might see
slaves put up to auction, mothers parted from their children, and all
the stock horrors. Then they came home and wrote about it, and held up
their hands and cried, ‘Oh, isn’t it dreadful?’ The negro slavery is
gone, and now there is only left the slavery of the women who work.
When will that go too? And how can it be swept away?

Public executions gone: pillory gone--the last man pilloried was in the
year 1830: no more flogging in the army: the Factory Acts passed: all
these are great gains. A greater is the growth of sympathy with all
those who suffer, whether wrongfully or by misfortune, or through their
own misdoings. This growth of sympathy is due especially to the works
of certain novelists belonging to the Victorian age. It is producing
all kinds of good works--the unselfish devotion of men and women to
work among the poor: teaching of every description: philanthropy which
does not stop short with the cheque: charity which is organized:
measures for prevention: support of hospitals and convalescent homes:
the introduction of Art and Music to the working classes.

All these changes seem to be gains. Have there been no losses?

In the nature of things there could not fail to be losses. Some of
the old politeness has been lost, though there are still men with the
fine manners of our grandfathers: the example of the women who speak,
who write, who belong to professions, and are, generally, aggressive,
threatens to change the manners of all women: they have already become
more assured, more self-reliant, less deferent to men’s opinion--the
old deference of men to women was, of course, merely conventional. They
no longer dread the necessity of working for themselves; they plunge
boldly into the arena prepared to meet with no consideration on the
score of sex. If a woman writes a bad book, for instance, no critic
hesitates to pronounce it bad because a woman has written it. Whatever
work man does woman tries to do. They boldly deny any inferiority of
intellect, though no woman has ever produced any work which puts her
anywhere near the highest intellectual level. They claim a complete
equality which they have hitherto failed to prove. Some of them even
secretly whisper of natural superiority. They demand their vote.
Perhaps, before long, they will be in both Houses, and then man will
be speedily relegated to his proper place, which will be that of the
executive servant. Oh! happy, happy time!

It is said that we have lost the old leisure of life. As for that, and
the supposed drive and hurry of modern life, I do not believe in it.
That is to say, the competition is fierce and the struggle hard. But
these are no new things. It is a commonplace to talk of the leisure and
calm of the eighteenth century--it cannot be too often repeated that in
1837 we were still in that century--I declare that in all my reading
about social life in the eighteenth century I have failed to discover
that leisure. From Queen Anne to Queen Victoria I have searched for it,
and I cannot find it. The leisure of the eighteenth century exists,
in fact, only in the brain of painter and poet. Life was hard; labour
was incessant, and lasted the whole day long; the shopmen lived in
the shop--they even slept in it; the mill people worked all day long
and far into the night. If I look about the country, I see in town
and village the poor man oppressed and driven by his employer: I see
the labourer in a blind revenge setting fire to the ricks; I see the
factory hand destroying the machinery; I see everywhere discontent,
poverty, privilege, patronage, and profligacy; I hear the shrieks
of the wretches flogged at the cart tail, the screams of the women
flogged at Bridewell. I see the white faces of the poor creatures
brought out to be hung up in rows for stealing bread; I see the
fighting of the press-gang; I see the soldiers and sailors flogged into
sullen obedience; I see hatred of the Church, hatred of the governing
class, hatred of the rich, hatred of employers--where, with all these
things, is there room for leisure? Leisure means peace, contentment,
plenty, wealth, and ease. What peace, what contentment was there in
those days?

The decay of the great agricultural interest is a calamity which has
been coming upon us slowly, though with a continually accelerated
movement. This is the reason, I suppose, why the country regards it
with so strange an apathy. It is not only that the landlords are
rapidly encountering ruin, that the farmers are losing all their
capital, and that labourers are daily turned out of work and driven
away to the great towns; the very existence of the country towns is
threatened; the investments which depend on rent and estates are
threatened; colleges and charities are losing their endowments; worst
of all, the rustic, the backbone and support of the country, who
has always supplied all our armies with all our soldiers, is fast
disappearing from the land. I confess that, if something does not
happen to stay the ruin of agriculture in these Islands, I think the
end of their greatness will not be far off. Perhaps I think and speak
as a fool; but it seems to me that a cheap loaf is dearly bought if,
among other blessings, it deprives the countryside of its village folk,
strong and healthy, and the empire of its stalwart soldiers. As for the
House of Lords and the English aristocracy, they cannot survive the day
when the farms cannot even support the hands that till the soil, and
are left untilled and uncultivated.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are, to make an end, two changes especially for which we can
never be sufficiently thankful. The first is the decay of the old
Calvinism; that gone, the chief terror of life is gone too; the chief
sting of death is gone; the terrible, awful question which reasoning
man could not refrain from asking is gone too.

The second change is the transference of the power to the people.
All the power that there is we have given to the people, who are now
waiting for a prophet to teach them how best to use it. I trust I
am under no illusions; Democracy has many dangers and many evils;
but these seem to me not so bad as those others which we have shaken
off. One must not expect a Millennium; mistakes will doubtless be
committed, and those bad ones. Besides, a change in the machinery
does not change the people who run that machinery. There will be the
tyranny of the Caucus to be faced and trampled down; we must endure,
with all his vices and his demagogic arts, the professional politician
whose existence depends on his party; we must expect--and ceaselessly
fight against--bribery and wholesale corruption when a class of these
professional politicians, poor, unscrupulous, and grasping, will be
continually, by every evil art, by every lying statement, by every
creeping baseness, endeavouring to climb unto power--such there are
already among us; we shall have to awaken from apathy, and keep
awake, those who are anxious to avoid the arena of politics, yet, by
education, position, and natural abilities, are called upon to lead.
Yet who, even in the face of the certain dangers, the certain mistakes,
of Democracy, shall say that great, terrible, and most disastrous
mistakes have not been made by an Aristocracy? There is always hope
where there is freedom; let us trust in the common-sense of the nation,
and remain steadfast in that trust.



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Transcriber’s Notes


Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; occurrences of
inconsistent hyphenation have not been changed.

Illustrations have been moved to appear between paragraphs. In versions
of this eBook that support links, the List of Illustrations links to
the correct images, not necessarily to the listed page numbers.

The printed captions of illustrations usually are shown here in
upper-case, as they were in the original book. Some illustrations bore
signatures, rather than printed captions; those are shown here in
lower-case, followed by the full names, taken from the List of
Illustrations.

Many captions in the original book did not exactly match
the words in the List of Illustrations; those differences have been
retained here.

The symbols in the lists of books at the beginning and end of this
eBooks are right-pointing hands.





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