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Reprinted Pieces by Charles Dickens

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Reprinted Pieces by Charles Dickens
Scanned and proofed by David Price

Reprinted Pieces


WHEN the wind is blowing and the sleet or rain is driving against
the dark windows, I love to sit by the fire, thinking of what I
have read in books of voyage and travel. Such books have had a
strong fascination for my mind from my earliest childhood; and I
wonder it should have come to pass that I never have been round the
world, never have been shipwrecked, ice-environed, tomahawked, or

Sitting on my ruddy hearth in the twilight of New Year's Eve, I
find incidents of travel rise around me from all the latitudes and
longitudes of the globe. They observe no order or sequence, but
appear and vanish as they will - 'come like shadows, so depart.'
Columbus, alone upon the sea with his disaffected crew, looks over
the waste of waters from his high station on the poop of his ship,
and sees the first uncertain glimmer of the light, 'rising and
falling with the waves, like a torch in the bark of some
fisherman,' which is the shining star of a new world. Bruce is
caged in Abyssinia, surrounded by the gory horrors which shall
often startle him out of his sleep at home when years have passed
away. Franklin, come to the end of his unhappy overland journey -
would that it had been his last! - lies perishing of hunger with
his brave companions: each emaciated figure stretched upon its
miserable bed without the power to rise: all, dividing the weary
days between their prayers, their remembrances of the dear ones at
home, and conversation on the pleasures of eating; the last-named
topic being ever present to them, likewise, in their dreams. All
the African travellers, wayworn, solitary and sad, submit
themselves again to drunken, murderous, man-selling despots, of the
lowest order of humanity; and Mungo Park, fainting under a tree and
succoured by a woman, gratefully remembers how his Good Samaritan
has always come to him in woman's shape, the wide world over.

A shadow on the wall in which my mind's eye can discern some traces
of a rocky sea-coast, recalls to me a fearful story of travel
derived from that unpromising narrator of such stories, a
parliamentary blue-book. A convict is its chief figure, and this
man escapes with other prisoners from a penal settlement. It is an
island, and they seize a boat, and get to the main land. Their way
is by a rugged and precipitous sea-shore, and they have no earthly
hope of ultimate escape, for the party of soldiers despatched by an
easier course to cut them off, must inevitably arrive at their
distant bourne long before them, and retake them if by any hazard
they survive the horrors of the way. Famine, as they all must have
foreseen, besets them early in their course. Some of the party die
and are eaten; some are murdered by the rest and eaten. This one
awful creature eats his fill, and sustains his strength, and lives
on to be recaptured and taken back. The unrelateable experiences
through which he has passed have been so tremendous, that he is not
hanged as he might be, but goes back to his old chained-gang work.
A little time, and he tempts one other prisoner away, seizes
another boat, and flies once more - necessarily in the old hopeless
direction, for he can take no other. He is soon cut off, and met
by the pursuing party face to face, upon the beach. He is alone.
In his former journey he acquired an inappeasable relish for his
dreadful food. He urged the new man away, expressly to kill him
and eat him. In the pockets on one side of his coarse convict-
dress, are portions of the man's body, on which he is regaling; in
the pockets on the other side is an untouched store of salted pork
(stolen before he left the island) for which he has no appetite.
He is taken back, and he is hanged. But I shall never see that
sea-beach on the wall or in the fire, without him, solitary
monster, eating as he prowls along, while the sea rages and rises
at him.

Captain Bligh (a worse man to be entrusted with arbitrary power
there could scarcely be) is handed over the side of the Bounty, and
turned adrift on the wide ocean in an open boat, by order of
Fletcher Christian, one of his officers, at this very minute.
Another flash of my fire, and 'Thursday October Christian,' five-
and-twenty years of age, son of the dead and gone Fletcher by a
savage mother, leaps aboard His Majesty's ship Briton, hove-to off
Pitcairn's Island; says his simple grace before eating, in good
English; and knows that a pretty little animal on board is called a
dog, because in his childhood he had heard of such strange
creatures from his father and the other mutineers, grown grey under
the shade of the bread-fruit trees, speaking of their lost country
far away.

See the Halsewell, East Indiaman outward bound, driving madly on a
January night towards the rocks near Seacombe, on the island of
Purbeck! The captain's two dear daughters are aboard, and five
other ladies. The ship has been driving many hours, has seven feet
water in her hold, and her mainmast has been cut away. The
description of her loss, familiar to me from my early boyhood,
seems to be read aloud as she rushes to her destiny.

'About two in the morning of Friday the sixth of January, the ship
still driving, and approaching very fast to the shore, Mr. Henry
Meriton, the second mate, went again into the cuddy, where the
captain then was. Another conversation taking place, Captain
Pierce expressed extreme anxiety for the preservation of his
beloved daughters, and earnestly asked the officer if he could
devise any method of saving them. On his answering with great
concern, that he feared it would be impossible, but that their only
chance would be to wait for morning, the captain lifted up his
hands in silent and distressful ejaculation.

'At this dreadful moment, the ship struck, with such violence as to
dash the heads of those standing in the cuddy against the deck
above them, and the shock was accompanied by a shriek of horror
that burst at one instant from every quarter of the ship.

'Many of the seamen, who had been remarkably inattentive and remiss
in their duty during great part of the storm, now poured upon deck,
where no exertions of the officers could keep them, while their
assistance might have been useful. They had actually skulked in
their hammocks, leaving the working of the pumps and other
necessary labours to the officers of the ship, and the soldiers,
who had made uncommon exertions. Roused by a sense of their
danger, the same seamen, at this moment, in frantic exclamations,
demanded of heaven and their fellow-sufferers that succour which
their own efforts, timely made, might possibly have procured.

'The ship continued to beat on the rocks; and soon bilging, fell
with her broadside towards the shore. When she struck, a number of
the men climbed up the ensign-staff, under an apprehension of her
immediately going to pieces.

'Mr. Meriton, at this crisis, offered to these unhappy beings the
best advice which could be given; he recommended that all should
come to the side of the ship lying lowest on the rocks, and singly
to take the opportunities which might then offer, of escaping to
the shore.

'Having thus provided, to the utmost of his power, for the safety
of the desponding crew, he returned to the round-house, where, by
this time, all the passengers and most of the officers had
assembled. The latter were employed in offering consolation to the
unfortunate ladies; and, with unparalleled magnanimity, suffering
their compassion for the fair and amiable companions of their
misfortunes to prevail over the sense of their own danger.

'In this charitable work of comfort, Mr. Meriton now joined, by
assurances of his opinion, that, the ship would hold together till
the morning, when all would be safe. Captain Pierce, observing one
of the young gentlemen loud in his exclamations of terror, and
frequently cry that the ship was parting, cheerfully bid him be
quiet, remarking that though the ship should go to pieces, he would
not, but would be safe enough.

'It is difficult to convey a correct idea of the scene of this
deplorable catastrophe, without describing the place where it
happened. The Haleswell struck on the rocks at a part of the shore
where the cliff is of vast height, and rises almost perpendicular
from its base. But at this particular spot, the foot of the cliff
is excavated into a cavern of ten or twelve yards in depth, and of
breadth equal to the length of a large ship. The sides of the
cavern are so nearly upright, as to be of extremely difficult
access; and the bottom is strewed with sharp and uneven rocks,
which seem, by some convulsion of the earth, to have been detached
from its roof.

'The ship lay with her broadside opposite to the mouth of this
cavern, with her whole length stretched almost from side to side of
it. But when she struck, it was too dark for the unfortunate
persons on board to discover the real magnitude of the danger, and
the extreme horror of such a situation.

'In addition to the company already in the round-house, they had
admitted three black women and two soldiers' wives; who, with the
husband of one of them, had been allowed to come in, though the
seamen, who had tumultuously demanded entrance to get the lights,
had been opposed and kept out by Mr. Rogers and Mr. Brimer, the
third and fifth mates. The numbers there were, therefore, now
increased to near fifty. Captain Pierce sat on a chair, a cot, or
some other moveable, with a daughter on each side, whom he
alternately pressed to his affectionate breast. The rest of the
melancholy assembly were seated on the deck, which was strewed with
musical instruments, and the wreck of furniture and other articles.

'Here also Mr. Meriton, after having cut several wax-candles in
pieces, and stuck them up in various parts of the round-house, and
lighted up all the glass lanthorns he could find, took his seat,
intending to wait the approach of dawn; and then assist the
partners of his dangers to escape. But, observing that the poor
ladies appeared parched and exhausted, he brought a basket of
oranges and prevailed on some of them to refresh themselves by
sucking a little of the juice. At this time they were all
tolerably composed, except Miss Mansel, who was in hysteric fits on
the floor of the deck of the round-house.

'But on Mr. Meriton's return to the company, he perceived a
considerable alteration in the appearance of the ship; the sides
were visibly giving way; the deck seemed to be lifting, and he
discovered other strong indications that she could not hold much
longer together. On this account, he attempted to go forward to
look out, but immediately saw that the ship had separated in the
middle, and that the forepart having changed its position, lay
rather further out towards the sea. In such an emergency, when the
next moment might plunge him into eternity, he determined to seize
the present opportunity, and follow the example of the crew and the
soldiers, who were now quitting the ship in numbers, and making
their way to the shore, though quite ignorant of its nature and

'Among other expedients, the ensign-staff had been unshipped, and
attempted to be laid between the ship's side and some of the rocks,
but without success, for it snapped asunder before it reached them.
However, by the light of a lanthorn, which a seaman handed through
the skylight of the round-house to the deck, Mr. Meriton discovered
a spar which appeared to be laid from the ship's side to the rocks,
and on this spar he resolved to attempt his escape.

'Accordingly, lying down upon it, he thrust himself forward;
however, he soon found that it had no communication with the rock;
he reached the end of it, and then slipped off, receiving a very
violent bruise in his fall, and before he could recover his legs,
he was washed off by the surge. He now supported himself by
swimming, until a returning wave dashed him against the back part
of the cavern. Here he laid hold of a small projection in the
rock, but was so much benumbed that he was on the point of quitting
it, when a seaman, who had already gained a footing, extended his
hand, and assisted him until he could secure himself a little on
the rock; from which he clambered on a shelf still higher, and out
of the reach of the surf.

'Mr. Rogers, the third mate, remained with the captain and the
unfortunate ladies and their companions nearly twenty minutes after
Mr. Meriton had quitted the ship. Soon after the latter left the
round-house, the captain asked what was become of him, to which Mr.
Rogers replied, that he was gone on deck to see what could be done.
After this, a heavy sea breaking over the ship, the ladies
exclaimed, "Oh, poor Meriton! he is drowned; had he stayed with us
he would have been safe!" and they all, particularly Miss Mary
Pierce, expressed great concern at the apprehension of his loss.

'The sea was now breaking in at the fore part of the ship, and
reached as far as the mainmast. Captain Pierce gave Mr. Rogers a
nod, and they took a lamp and went together into the stern-gallery,
where, after viewing the rocks for some time, Captain Pierce asked
Mr. Rogers if he thought there was any possibility of saving the
girls; to which he replied, he feared there was none; for they
could only discover the black face of the perpendicular rock, and
not the cavern which afforded shelter to those who escaped. They
then returned to the round-house, where Mr. Rogers hung up the
lamp, and Captain Pierce sat down between his two daughters.

'The sea continuing to break in very fast, Mr. Macmanus, a
midshipman, and Mr. Schutz, a passenger, asked Mr. Rogers what they
could do to escape. "Follow me," he replied, and they all went
into the stern-gallery, and from thence to the upper-quarter-
gallery on the poop. While there, a very heavy sea fell on board,
and the round-house gave way; Mr. Rogers heard the ladies shriek at
intervals, as if the water reached them; the noise of the sea at
other times drowning their voices.

'Mr. Brimer had followed him to the poop, where they remained
together about five minutes, when on the breaking of this heavy
sea, they jointly seized a hen-coop. The same wave which proved
fatal to some of those below, carried him and his companion to the
rock, on which they were violently dashed and miserably bruised.

'Here on the rock were twenty-seven men; but it now being low
water, and as they were convinced that on the flowing of the tide
all must be washed off, many attempted to get to the back or the
sides of the cavern, beyond the reach of the returning sea.
Scarcely more than six, besides Mr. Rogers and Mr. Brimer,

'Mr. Rogers, on gaining this station, was so nearly exhausted, that
had his exertions been protracted only a few minutes longer, he
must have sunk under them. He was now prevented from joining Mr.
Meriton, by at least twenty men between them, none of whom could
move, without the imminent peril of his life.

'They found that a very considerable number of the crew, seamen and
soldiers, and some petty officers, were in the same situation as
themselves, though many who had reached the rocks below, perished
in attempting to ascend. They could yet discern some part of the
ship, and in their dreary station solaced themselves with the hopes
of its remaining entire until day-break; for, in the midst of their
own distress, the sufferings of the females on board affected them
with the most poignant anguish; and every sea that broke inspired
them with terror for their safety.

'But, alas, their apprehensions were too soon realised! Within a
very few minutes of the time that Mr. Rogers gained the rock, an
universal shriek, which long vibrated in their ears, in which the
voice of female distress was lamentably distinguished, announced
the dreadful catastrophe. In a few moments all was hushed, except
the roaring of the winds and the dashing of the waves; the wreck
was buried in the deep, and not an atom of it was ever afterwards

The most beautiful and affecting incident I know, associated with a
shipwreck, succeeds this dismal story for a winter night. The
Grosvenor, East Indiaman, homeward bound, goes ashore on the coast
of Caffraria. It is resolved that the officers, passengers, and
crew, in number one hundred and thirty-five souls, shall endeavour
to penetrate on foot, across trackless deserts, infested by wild
beasts and cruel savages, to the Dutch settlements at the Cape of
Good Hope. With this forlorn object before them, they finally
separate into two parties - never more to meet on earth.

There is a solitary child among the passengers - a little boy of
seven years old who has no relation there; and when the first party
is moving away he cries after some member of it who has been kind
to him. The crying of a child might be supposed to be a little
thing to men in such great extremity; but it touches them, and he
is immediately taken into that detachment.

From which time forth, this child is sublimely made a sacred
charge. He is pushed, on a little raft, across broad rivers by the
swimming sailors; they carry him by turns through the deep sand and
long grass (he patiently walking at all other times); they share
with him such putrid fish as they find to eat; they lie down and
wait for him when the rough carpenter, who becomes his especial
friend, lags behind. Beset by lions and tigers, by savages, by
thirst, by hunger, by death in a crowd of ghastly shapes, they
never - O Father of all mankind, thy name be blessed for it! -
forget this child. The captain stops exhausted, and his faithful
coxswain goes back and is seen to sit down by his side, and neither
of the two shall be any more beheld until the great last day; but,
as the rest go on for their lives, they take the child with them.
The carpenter dies of poisonous berries eaten in starvation; and
the steward, succeeding to the command of the party, succeeds to
the sacred guardianship of the child.

God knows all he does for the poor baby; how he cheerfully carries
him in his arms when he himself is weak and ill; how he feeds him
when he himself is griped with want; how he folds his ragged jacket
round him, lays his little worn face with a woman's tenderness upon
his sunburnt breast, soothes him in his sufferings, sings to him as
he limps along, unmindful of his own parched and bleeding feet.
Divided for a few days from the rest, they dig a grave in the sand
and bury their good friend the cooper - these two companions alone
in the wilderness - and then the time comes when they both are ill,
and beg their wretched partners in despair, reduced and few in
number now, to wait by them one day. They wait by them one day,
they wait by them two days. On the morning of the third, they move
very softly about, in making their preparations for the resumption
of their journey; for, the child is sleeping by the fire, and it is
agreed with one consent that he shall not be disturbed until the
last moment. The moment comes, the fire is dying - and the child
is dead.

His faithful friend, the steward, lingers but a little while behind
him. His grief is great, he staggers on for a few days, lies down
in the desert, and dies. But he shall be re-united in his immortal
spirit - who can doubt it! - with the child, when he and the poor
carpenter shall be raised up with the words, 'Inasmuch as ye have
done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto Me.'

As I recall the dispersal and disappearance of nearly all the
participators in this once famous shipwreck (a mere handful being
recovered at last), and the legends that were long afterwards
revived from time to time among the English officers at the Cape,
of a white woman with an infant, said to have been seen weeping
outside a savage hut far in the interior, who was whisperingly
associated with the remembrance of the missing ladies saved from
the wrecked vessel, and who was often sought but never found,
thoughts of another kind of travel came into my mind.

Thoughts of a voyager unexpectedly summoned from home, who
travelled a vast distance, and could never return. Thoughts of
this unhappy wayfarer in the depths of his sorrow, in the
bitterness of his anguish, in the helplessness of his self-
reproach, in the desperation of his desire to set right what he had
left wrong, and do what he had left undone.

For, there were many, many things he had neglected. Little matters
while he was at home and surrounded by them, but things of mighty
moment when he was at an immeasurable distance. There were many
many blessings that he had inadequately felt, there were many
trivial injuries that he had not forgiven, there was love that he
had but poorly returned, there was friendship that he had too
lightly prized: there were a million kind words that he might have
spoken, a million kind looks that he might have given, uncountable
slight easy deeds in which he might have been most truly great and
good. O for a day (he would exclaim), for but one day to make
amends! But the sun never shone upon that happy day, and out of
his remote captivity he never came.

Why does this traveller's fate obscure, on New Year's Eve, the
other histories of travellers with which my mind was filled but
now, and cast a solemn shadow over me! Must I one day make his
journey? Even so. Who shall say, that I may not then be tortured
by such late regrets: that I may not then look from my exile on my
empty place and undone work? I stand upon a sea-shore, where the
waves are years. They break and fall, and I may little heed them;
but, with every wave the sea is rising, and I know that it will
float me on this traveller's voyage at last.


THE amount of money he annually diverts from wholesome and useful
purposes in the United Kingdom, would be a set-off against the
Window Tax. He is one of the most shameless frauds and impositions
of this time. In his idleness, his mendacity, and the immeasurable
harm he does to the deserving, - dirtying the stream of true
benevolence, and muddling the brains of foolish justices, with
inability to distinguish between the base coin of distress, and the
true currency we have always among us, - he is more worthy of
Norfolk Island than three-fourths of the worst characters who are
sent there. Under any rational system, he would have been sent
there long ago.

I, the writer of this paper, have been, for some time, a chosen
receiver of Begging Letters. For fourteen years, my house has been
made as regular a Receiving House for such communications as any
one of the great branch Post-Offices is for general correspondence.
I ought to know something of the Begging-Letter Writer. He has
besieged my door at all hours of the day and night; he has fought
my servant; he has lain in ambush for me, going out and coming in;
he has followed me out of town into the country; he has appeared at
provincial hotels, where I have been staying for only a few hours;
he has written to me from immense distances, when I have been out
of England. He has fallen sick; he has died and been buried; he
has come to life again, and again departed from this transitory
scene: he has been his own son, his own mother, his own baby, his
idiot brother, his uncle, his aunt, his aged grandfather. He has
wanted a greatcoat, to go to India in; a pound to set him up in
life for ever; a pair of boots to take him to the coast of China; a
hat to get him into a permanent situation under Government. He has
frequently been exactly seven-and-sixpence short of independence.
He has had such openings at Liverpool - posts of great trust and
confidence in merchants' houses, which nothing but seven-and-
sixpence was wanting to him to secure - that I wonder he is not
Mayor of that flourishing town at the present moment.

The natural phenomena of which he has been the victim, are of a
most astounding nature. He has had two children who have never
grown up; who have never had anything to cover them at night; who
have been continually driving him mad, by asking in vain for food;
who have never come out of fevers and measles (which, I suppose,
has accounted for his fuming his letters with tobacco smoke, as a
disinfectant); who have never changed in the least degree through
fourteen long revolving years. As to his wife, what that suffering
woman has undergone, nobody knows. She has always been in an
interesting situation through the same long period, and has never
been confined yet. His devotion to her has been unceasing. He has
never cared for himself; HE could have perished - he would rather,
in short - but was it not his Christian duty as a man, a husband,
and a father, - to write begging letters when he looked at her?
(He has usually remarked that he would call in the evening for an
answer to this question.)

He has been the sport of the strangest misfortunes. What his
brother has done to him would have broken anybody else's heart.
His brother went into business with him, and ran away with the
money; his brother got him to be security for an immense sum and
left him to pay it; his brother would have given him employment to
the tune of hundreds a-year, if he would have consented to write
letters on a Sunday; his brother enunciated principles incompatible
with his religious views, and he could not (in consequence) permit
his brother to provide for him. His landlord has never shown a
spark of human feeling. When he put in that execution I don't
know, but he has never taken it out. The broker's man has grown
grey in possession. They will have to bury him some day.

He has been attached to every conceivable pursuit. He has been in
the army, in the navy, in the church, in the law; connected with
the press, the fine arts, public institutions, every description
and grade of business. He has been brought up as a gentleman; he
has been at every college in Oxford and Cambridge; he can quote
Latin in his letters (but generally misspells some minor English
word); he can tell you what Shakespeare says about begging, better
than you know it. It is to be observed, that in the midst of his
afflictions he always reads the newspapers; and rounds off his
appeal with some allusion, that may be supposed to be in my way, to
the popular subject of the hour.

His life presents a series of inconsistencies. Sometimes he has
never written such a letter before. He blushes with shame. That
is the first time; that shall be the last. Don't answer it, and
let it be understood that, then, he will kill himself quietly.
Sometimes (and more frequently) he HAS written a few such letters.
Then he encloses the answers, with an intimation that they are of
inestimable value to him, and a request that they may be carefully
returned. He is fond of enclosing something - verses, letters,
pawnbrokers' duplicates, anything to necessitate an answer. He is
very severe upon 'the pampered minion of fortune,' who refused him
the half-sovereign referred to in the enclosure number two - but he
knows me better.

He writes in a variety of styles; sometimes in low spirits;
sometimes quite jocosely. When he is in low spirits he writes
down-hill and repeats words - these little indications being
expressive of the perturbation of his mind. When he is more
vivacious, he is frank with me; he is quite the agreeable rattle.
I know what human nature is, - who better? Well! He had a little
money once, and he ran through it - as many men have done before
him. He finds his old friends turn away from him now - many men
have done that before him too! Shall he tell me why he writes to
me? Because he has no kind of claim upon me. He puts it on that
ground plainly; and begs to ask for the loan (as I know human
nature) of two sovereigns, to be repaid next Tuesday six weeks,
before twelve at noon.

Sometimes, when he is sure that I have found him out, and that
there is no chance of money, he writes to inform me that I have got
rid of him at last. He has enlisted into the Company's service,
and is off directly - but he wants a cheese. He is informed by the
serjeant that it is essential to his prospects in the regiment that
he should take out a single Gloucester cheese, weighing from twelve
to fifteen pounds. Eight or nine shillings would buy it. He does
not ask for money, after what has passed; but if he calls at nine,
to-morrow morning may he hope to find a cheese? And is there
anything he can do to show his gratitude in Bengal?

Once he wrote me rather a special letter, proposing relief in kind.
He had got into a little trouble by leaving parcels of mud done up
in brown paper, at people's houses, on pretence of being a Railway-
Porter, in which character he received carriage money. This
sportive fancy he expiated in the House of Correction. Not long
after his release, and on a Sunday morning, he called with a letter
(having first dusted himself all over), in which he gave me to
understand that, being resolved to earn an honest livelihood, he
had been travelling about the country with a cart of crockery.
That he had been doing pretty well until the day before, when his
horse had dropped down dead near Chatham, in Kent. That this had
reduced him to the unpleasant necessity of getting into the shafts
himself, and drawing the cart of crockery to London - a somewhat
exhausting pull of thirty miles. That he did not venture to ask
again for money; but that if I would have the goodness TO LEAVE HIM
OUT A DONKEY, he would call for the animal before breakfast!

At another time my friend (I am describing actual experiences)
introduced himself as a literary gentleman in the last extremity of
distress. He had had a play accepted at a certain Theatre - which
was really open; its representation was delayed by the
indisposition of a leading actor - who was really ill; and he and
his were in a state of absolute starvation. If he made his
necessities known to the Manager of the Theatre, he put it to me to
say what kind of treatment he might expect? Well! we got over that
difficulty to our mutual satisfaction. A little while afterwards
he was in some other strait. I think Mrs. Southcote, his wife, was
in extremity - and we adjusted that point too. A little while
afterwards he had taken a new house, and was going headlong to ruin
for want of a water-butt. I had my misgivings about the water-
butt, and did not reply to that epistle. But a little while
afterwards, I had reason to feel penitent for my neglect. He wrote
me a few broken-hearted lines, informing me that the dear partner
of his sorrows died in his arms last night at nine o'clock!

I despatched a trusty messenger to comfort the bereaved mourner and
his poor children; but the messenger went so soon, that the play
was not ready to be played out; my friend was not at home, and his
wife was in a most delightful state of health. He was taken up by
the Mendicity Society (informally it afterwards appeared), and I
presented myself at a London Police-Office with my testimony
against him. The Magistrate was wonderfully struck by his
educational acquirements, deeply impressed by the excellence of his
letters, exceedingly sorry to see a man of his attainments there,
complimented him highly on his powers of composition, and was quite
charmed to have the agreeable duty of discharging him. A
collection was made for the 'poor fellow,' as he was called in the
reports, and I left the court with a comfortable sense of being
universally regarded as a sort of monster. Next day comes to me a
friend of mine, the governor of a large prison. 'Why did you ever
go to the Police-Office against that man,' says he, 'without coming
to me first? I know all about him and his frauds. He lodged in
the house of one of my warders, at the very time when he first
wrote to you; and then he was eating spring-lamb at eighteen-pence
a pound, and early asparagus at I don't know how much a bundle!'
On that very same day, and in that very same hour, my injured
gentleman wrote a solemn address to me, demanding to know what
compensation I proposed to make him for his having passed the night
in a 'loathsome dungeon.' And next morning an Irish gentleman, a
member of the same fraternity, who had read the case, and was very
well persuaded I should be chary of going to that Police-Office
again, positively refused to leave my door for less than a
sovereign, and, resolved to besiege me into compliance, literally
'sat down' before it for ten mortal hours. The garrison being well
provisioned, I remained within the walls; and he raised the siege
at midnight with a prodigious alarum on the bell.

The Begging-Letter Writer often has an extensive circle of
acquaintance. Whole pages of the 'Court Guide' are ready to be
references for him. Noblemen and gentlemen write to say there
never was such a man for probity and virtue. They have known him
time out of mind, and there is nothing they wouldn't do for him.
Somehow, they don't give him that one pound ten he stands in need
of; but perhaps it is not enough - they want to do more, and his
modesty will not allow it. It is to be remarked of his trade that
it is a very fascinating one. He never leaves it; and those who
are near to him become smitten with a love of it, too, and sooner
or later set up for themselves. He employs a messenger - man,
woman, or child. That messenger is certain ultimately to become an
independent Begging-Letter Writer. His sons and daughters succeed
to his calling, and write begging-letters when he is no more. He
throws off the infection of begging-letter writing, like the
contagion of disease. What Sydney Smith so happily called 'the
dangerous luxury of dishonesty' is more tempting, and more
catching, it would seem, in this instance than in any other.

He always belongs to a Corresponding-Society of Begging-Letter
Writers. Any one who will, may ascertain this fact. Give money
to-day in recognition of a begging-letter, - no matter how unlike a
common begging-letter, - and for the next fortnight you will have a
rush of such communications. Steadily refuse to give; and the
begging-letters become Angels' visits, until the Society is from
some cause or other in a dull way of business, and may as well try
you as anybody else. It is of little use inquiring into the
Begging-Letter Writer's circumstances. He may be sometimes
accidentally found out, as in the case already mentioned (though
that was not the first inquiry made); but apparent misery is always
a part of his trade, and real misery very often is, in the
intervals of spring-lamb and early asparagus. It is naturally an
incident of his dissipated and dishonest life.

That the calling is a successful one, and that large sums of money
are gained by it, must be evident to anybody who reads the Police
Reports of such cases. But, prosecutions are of rare occurrence,
relatively to the extent to which the trade is carried on. The
cause of this is to be found (as no one knows better than the
Begging-Letter Writer, for it is a part of his speculation) in the
aversion people feel to exhibit themselves as having been imposed
upon, or as having weakly gratified their consciences with a lazy,
flimsy substitute for the noblest of all virtues. There is a man
at large, at the moment when this paper is preparing for the press
(on the 29th of April, 1850), and never once taken up yet, who,
within these twelvemonths, has been probably the most audacious and
the most successful swindler that even this trade has ever known.
There has been something singularly base in this fellow's
proceedings; it has been his business to write to all sorts and
conditions of people, in the names of persons of high reputation
and unblemished honour, professing to be in distress - the general
admiration and respect for whom has ensured a ready and generous

Now, in the hope that the results of the real experience of a real
person may do something more to induce reflection on this subject
than any abstract treatise - and with a personal knowledge of the
extent to which the Begging-Letter Trade has been carried on for
some time, and has been for some time constantly increasing - the
writer of this paper entreats the attention of his readers to a few
concluding words. His experience is a type of the experience of
many; some on a smaller, some on an infinitely larger scale. All
may judge of the soundness or unsoundness of his conclusions from

Long doubtful of the efficacy of such assistance in any case
whatever, and able to recall but one, within his whole individual
knowledge, in which he had the least after-reason to suppose that
any good was done by it, he was led, last autumn, into some serious
considerations. The begging-letters flying about by every post,
made it perfectly manifest that a set of lazy vagabonds were
interposed between the general desire to do something to relieve
the sickness and misery under which the poor were suffering, and
the suffering poor themselves. That many who sought to do some
little to repair the social wrongs, inflicted in the way of
preventible sickness and death upon the poor, were strengthening
those wrongs, however innocently, by wasting money on pestilent
knaves cumbering society. That imagination, - soberly following
one of these knaves into his life of punishment in jail, and
comparing it with the life of one of these poor in a cholera-
stricken alley, or one of the children of one of these poor,
soothed in its dying hour by the late lamented Mr. Drouet, -
contemplated a grim farce, impossible to be presented very much
longer before God or man. That the crowning miracle of all the
miracles summed up in the New Testament, after the miracle of the
blind seeing, and the lame walking, and the restoration of the dead
to life, was the miracle that the poor had the Gospel preached to
them. That while the poor were unnaturally and unnecessarily cut
off by the thousand, in the prematurity of their age, or in the
rottenness of their youth - for of flower or blossom such youth has
none - the Gospel was NOT preached to them, saving in hollow and
unmeaning voices. That of all wrongs, this was the first mighty
wrong the Pestilence warned us to set right. And that no Post-
Office Order to any amount, given to a Begging-Letter Writer for
the quieting of an uneasy breast, would be presentable on the Last
Great Day as anything towards it.

The poor never write these letters. Nothing could be more unlike
their habits. The writers are public robbers; and we who support
them are parties to their depredations. They trade upon every
circumstance within their knowledge that affects us, public or
private, joyful or sorrowful; they pervert the lessons of our
lives; they change what ought to be our strength and virtue into
weakness, and encouragement of vice. There is a plain remedy, and
it is in our own hands. We must resolve, at any sacrifice of
feeling, to be deaf to such appeals, and crush the trade.

There are degrees in murder. Life must be held sacred among us in
more ways than one - sacred, not merely from the murderous weapon,
or the subtle poison, or the cruel blow, but sacred from
preventible diseases, distortions, and pains. That is the first
great end we have to set against this miserable imposition.
Physical life respected, moral life comes next. What will not
content a Begging-Letter Writer for a week, would educate a score
of children for a year. Let us give all we can; let us give more
than ever. Let us do all we can; let us do more than ever. But
let us give, and do, with a high purpose; not to endow the scum of
the earth, to its own greater corruption, with the offals of our


THERE was once a child, and he strolled about a good deal, and
thought of a number of things. He had a sister, who was a child
too, and his constant companion. These two used to wonder all day
long. They wondered at the beauty of the flowers; they wondered at
the height and blueness of the sky; they wondered at the depth of
the bright water; they wondered at the goodness and the power of
GOD who made the lovely world.

They used to say to one another, sometimes, Supposing all the
children upon earth were to die, would the flowers, and the water,
and the sky be sorry? They believed they would be sorry. For,
said they, the buds are the children of the flowers, and the little
playful streams that gambol down the hill-sides are the children of
the water; and the smallest bright specks playing at hide and seek
in the sky all night, must surely be the children of the stars; and
they would all be grieved to see their playmates, the children of
men, no more.

There was one clear shining star that used to come out in the sky
before the rest, near the church spire, above the graves. It was
larger and more beautiful, they thought, than all the others, and
every night they watched for it, standing hand in hand at a window.
Whoever saw it first cried out, 'I see the star!' And often they
cried out both together, knowing so well when it would rise, and
where. So they grew to be such friends with it, that, before lying
down in their beds, they always looked out once again, to bid it
good night; and when they were turning round to sleep, they used to
say, 'God bless the star!'

But while she was still very young, oh, very, very young, the
sister drooped, and came to be so weak that she could no longer
stand in the window at night; and then the child looked sadly out
by himself, and when he saw the star, turned round and said to the
patient pale face on the bed, 'I see the star!' and then a smile
would come upon the face, and a little weak voice used to say, 'God
bless my brother and the star!'

And so the time came all too soon! when the child looked out alone,
and when there was no face on the bed; and when there was a little
grave among the graves, not there before; and when the star made
long rays down towards him, as he saw it through his tears.

Now, these rays were so bright, and they seemed to make such a
shining way from earth to Heaven, that when the child went to his
solitary bed, he dreamed about the star; and dreamed that, lying
where he was, he saw a train of people taken up that sparkling road
by angels. And the star, opening, showed him a great world of
light, where many more such angels waited to receive them.

All these angels, who were waiting, turned their beaming eyes upon
the people who were carried up into the star; and some came out
from the long rows in which they stood, and fell upon the people's
necks, and kissed them tenderly, and went away with them down
avenues of light, and were so happy in their company, that lying in
his bed he wept for joy.

But, there were many angels who did not go with them, and among
them one he knew. The patient face that once had lain upon the bed
was glorified and radiant, but his heart found out his sister among
all the host.

His sister's angel lingered near the entrance of the star, and said
to the leader among those who had brought the people thither:

'Is my brother come?'

And he said 'No.'

She was turning hopefully away, when the child stretched out his
arms, and cried, 'O, sister, I am here! Take me!' and then she
turned her beaming eyes upon him, and it was night; and the star
was shining into the room, making long rays down towards him as he
saw it through his tears.

From that hour forth, the child looked out upon the star as on the
home he was to go to, when his time should come; and he thought
that he did not belong to the earth alone, but to the star too,
because of his sister's angel gone before.

There was a baby born to be a brother to the child; and while he
was so little that he never yet had spoken word, he stretched his
tiny form out on his bed, and died.

Again the child dreamed of the open star, and of the company of
angels, and the train of people, and the rows of angels with their
beaming eyes all turned upon those people's faces.

Said his sister's angel to the leader:

'Is my brother come?'

And he said, 'Not that one, but another.'

As the child beheld his brother's angel in her arms, he cried, 'O,
sister, I am here! Take me!' And she turned and smiled upon him,
and the star was shining.

He grew to be a young man, and was busy at his books when an old
servant came to him and said:

'Thy mother is no more. I bring her blessing on her darling son!'

Again at night he saw the star, and all that former company. Said
his sister's angel to the leader.

'Is my brother come?'

And he said, 'Thy mother!'

A mighty cry of joy went forth through all the star, because the
mother was re-united to her two children. And he stretched out his
arms and cried, 'O, mother, sister, and brother, I am here! Take
me!' And they answered him, 'Not yet,' and the star was shining.

He grew to be a man, whose hair was turning grey, and he was
sitting in his chair by the fireside, heavy with grief, and with
his face bedewed with tears, when the star opened once again.

Said his sister's angel to the leader: 'Is my brother come?'

And he said, 'Nay, but his maiden daughter.'

And the man who had been the child saw his daughter, newly lost to
him, a celestial creature among those three, and he said, 'My
daughter's head is on my sister's bosom, and her arm is around my
mother's neck, and at her feet there is the baby of old time, and I
can bear the parting from her, GOD be praised!'

And the star was shining.

Thus the child came to be an old man, and his once smooth face was
wrinkled, and his steps were slow and feeble, and his back was
bent. And one night as he lay upon his bed, his children standing
round, he cried, as he had cried so long ago:

'I see the star!'

They whispered one another, 'He is dying.'

And he said, 'I am. My age is falling from me like a garment, and
I move towards the star as a child. And O, my Father, now I thank
thee that it has so often opened, to receive those dear ones who
await me!'

And the star was shining; and it shines upon his grave.


IN the Autumn-time of the year, when the great metropolis is so
much hotter, so much noisier, so much more dusty or so much more
water-carted, so much more crowded, so much more disturbing and
distracting in all respects, than it usually is, a quiet sea-beach
becomes indeed a blessed spot. Half awake and half asleep, this
idle morning in our sunny window on the edge of a chalk-cliff in
the old-fashioned watering-place to which we are a faithful
resorter, we feel a lazy inclination to sketch its picture.

The place seems to respond. Sky, sea, beach, and village, lie as
still before us as if they were sitting for the picture. It is
dead low-water. A ripple plays among the ripening corn upon the
cliff, as if it were faintly trying from recollection to imitate
the sea; and the world of butterflies hovering over the crop of
radish-seed are as restless in their little way as the gulls are in
their larger manner when the wind blows. But the ocean lies
winking in the sunlight like a drowsy lion - its glassy waters
scarcely curve upon the shore - the fishing-boats in the tiny
harbour are all stranded in the mud - our two colliers (our
watering-place has a maritime trade employing that amount of
shipping) have not an inch of water within a quarter of a mile of
them, and turn, exhausted, on their sides, like faint fish of an
antediluvian species. Rusty cables and chains, ropes and rings,
undermost parts of posts and piles and confused timber-defences
against the waves, lie strewn about, in a brown litter of tangled
sea-weed and fallen cliff which looks as if a family of giants had
been making tea here for ages, and had observed an untidy custom of
throwing their tea-leaves on the shore.

In truth, our watering-place itself has been left somewhat high and
dry by the tide of years. Concerned as we are for its honour, we
must reluctantly admit that the time when this pretty little
semicircular sweep of houses, tapering off at the end of the wooden
pier into a point in the sea, was a gay place, and when the
lighthouse overlooking it shone at daybreak on company dispersing
from public balls, is but dimly traditional now. There is a bleak
chamber in our watering-place which is yet called the Assembly
'Rooms,' and understood to be available on hire for balls or
concerts; and, some few seasons since, an ancient little gentleman
came down and stayed at the hotel, who said that he had danced
there, in bygone ages, with the Honourable Miss Peepy, well known
to have been the Beauty of her day and the cruel occasion of
innumerable duels. But he was so old and shrivelled, and so very
rheumatic in the legs, that it demanded more imagination than our
watering-place can usually muster, to believe him; therefore,
except the Master of the 'Rooms' (who to this hour wears knee-
breeches, and who confirmed the statement with tears in his eyes),
nobody did believe in the little lame old gentleman, or even in the
Honourable Miss Peepy, long deceased.

As to subscription balls in the Assembly Rooms of our watering-
place now, red-hot cannon balls are less improbable. Sometimes, a
misguided wanderer of a Ventriloquist, or an Infant Phenomenon, or
a juggler, or somebody with an Orrery that is several stars behind
the time, takes the place for a night, and issues bills with the
name of his last town lined out, and the name of ours ignominiously
written in, but you may be sure this never happens twice to the
same unfortunate person. On such occasions the discoloured old
Billiard Table that is seldom played at (unless the ghost of the
Honourable Miss Peepy plays at pool with other ghosts) is pushed
into a corner, and benches are solemnly constituted into front
seats, back seats, and reserved seats - which are much the same
after you have paid - and a few dull candles are lighted - wind
permitting - and the performer and the scanty audience play out a
short match which shall make the other most low-spirited - which is
usually a drawn game. After that, the performer instantly departs
with maledictory expressions, and is never heard of more.

But the most wonderful feature of our Assembly Rooms, is, that an
annual sale of 'Fancy and other China,' is announced here with
mysterious constancy and perseverance. Where the china comes from,
where it goes to, why it is annually put up to auction when nobody
ever thinks of bidding for it, how it comes to pass that it is
always the same china, whether it would not have been cheaper, with
the sea at hand, to have thrown it away, say in eighteen hundred
and thirty, are standing enigmas. Every year the bills come out,
every year the Master of the Rooms gets into a little pulpit on a
table, and offers it for sale, every year nobody buys it, every
year it is put away somewhere till next year, when it appears again
as if the whole thing were a new idea. We have a faint remembrance
of an unearthly collection of clocks, purporting to be the work of
Parisian and Genevese artists - chiefly bilious-faced clocks,
supported on sickly white crutches, with their pendulums dangling
like lame legs - to which a similar course of events occurred for
several years, until they seemed to lapse away, of mere imbecility.

Attached to our Assembly Rooms is a library. There is a wheel of
fortune in it, but it is rusty and dusty, and never turns. A large
doll, with moveable eyes, was put up to be raffled for, by five-
and-twenty members at two shillings, seven years ago this autumn,
and the list is not full yet. We are rather sanguine, now, that
the raffle will come off next year. We think so, because we only
want nine members, and should only want eight, but for number two
having grown up since her name was entered, and withdrawn it when
she was married. Down the street, there is a toy-ship of
considerable burden, in the same condition. Two of the boys who
were entered for that raffle have gone to India in real ships,
since; and one was shot, and died in the arms of his sister's
lover, by whom he sent his last words home.

This is the library for the Minerva Press. If you want that kind
of reading, come to our watering-place. The leaves of the
romances, reduced to a condition very like curl-paper, are thickly
studded with notes in pencil: sometimes complimentary, sometimes
jocose. Some of these commentators, like commentators in a more
extensive way, quarrel with one another. One young gentleman who
sarcastically writes 'O!!!' after every sentimental passage, is
pursued through his literary career by another, who writes
'Insulting Beast!' Miss Julia Mills has read the whole collection
of these books. She has left marginal notes on the pages, as 'Is
not this truly touching? J. M.' 'How thrilling! J. M.'
'Entranced here by the Magician's potent spell. J. M.' She has
also italicised her favourite traits in the description of the
hero, as 'his hair, which was DARK and WAVY, clustered in RICH
PROFUSION around a MARBLE BROW, whose lofty paleness bespoke the
intellect within.' It reminds her of another hero. She adds, 'How
like B. L. Can this be mere coincidence? J. M.'

You would hardly guess which is the main street of our watering-
place, but you may know it by its being always stopped up with
donkey-chaises. Whenever you come here, and see harnessed donkeys
eating clover out of barrows drawn completely across a narrow
thoroughfare, you may be quite sure you are in our High Street.
Our Police you may know by his uniform, likewise by his never on
any account interfering with anybody - especially the tramps and
vagabonds. In our fancy shops we have a capital collection of
damaged goods, among which the flies of countless summers 'have
been roaming.' We are great in obsolete seals, and in faded pin-
cushions, and in rickety camp-stools, and in exploded cutlery, and
in miniature vessels, and in stunted little telescopes, and in
objects made of shells that pretend not to be shells. Diminutive
spades, barrows, and baskets, are our principal articles of
commerce; but even they don't look quite new somehow. They always
seem to have been offered and refused somewhere else, before they
came down to our watering-place.

Yet, it must not be supposed that our watering-place is an empty
place, deserted by all visitors except a few staunch persons of
approved fidelity. On the contrary, the chances are that if you
came down here in August or September, you wouldn't find a house to
lay your head in. As to finding either house or lodging of which
you could reduce the terms, you could scarcely engage in a more
hopeless pursuit. For all this, you are to observe that every
season is the worst season ever known, and that the householding
population of our watering-place are ruined regularly every autumn.
They are like the farmers, in regard that it is surprising how much
ruin they will bear. We have an excellent hotel - capital baths,
warm, cold, and shower - first-rate bathing-machines - and as good
butchers, bakers, and grocers, as heart could desire. They all do
business, it is to be presumed, from motives of philanthropy - but
it is quite certain that they are all being ruined. Their interest
in strangers, and their politeness under ruin, bespeak their
amiable nature. You would say so, if you only saw the baker
helping a new comer to find suitable apartments.

So far from being at a discount as to company, we are in fact what
would be popularly called rather a nobby place. Some tip-top
'Nobbs' come down occasionally - even Dukes and Duchesses. We have
known such carriages to blaze among the donkey-chaises, as made
beholders wink. Attendant on these equipages come resplendent
creatures in plush and powder, who are sure to be stricken
disgusted with the indifferent accommodation of our watering-place,
and who, of an evening (particularly when it rains), may be seen
very much out of drawing, in rooms far too small for their fine
figures, looking discontentedly out of little back windows into
bye-streets. The lords and ladies get on well enough and quite
good-humouredly: but if you want to see the gorgeous phenomena who
wait upon them at a perfect non-plus, you should come and look at
the resplendent creatures with little back parlours for servants'
halls, and turn-up bedsteads to sleep in, at our watering-place.
You have no idea how they take it to heart.

We have a pier - a queer old wooden pier, fortunately without the
slightest pretensions to architecture, and very picturesque in
consequence. Boats are hauled up upon it, ropes are coiled all
over it; lobster-pots, nets, masts, oars, spars, sails, ballast,
and rickety capstans, make a perfect labyrinth of it. For ever
hovering about this pier, with their hands in their pockets, or
leaning over the rough bulwark it opposes to the sea, gazing
through telescopes which they carry about in the same profound
receptacles, are the Boatmen of our watering-place. Looking at
them, you would say that surely these must be the laziest boatmen
in the world. They lounge about, in obstinate and inflexible
pantaloons that are apparently made of wood, the whole season
through. Whether talking together about the shipping in the
Channel, or gruffly unbending over mugs of beer at the public-
house, you would consider them the slowest of men. The chances are
a thousand to one that you might stay here for ten seasons, and
never see a boatman in a hurry. A certain expression about his
loose hands, when they are not in his pockets, as if he were
carrying a considerable lump of iron in each, without any
inconvenience, suggests strength, but he never seems to use it. He
has the appearance of perpetually strolling - running is too
inappropriate a word to be thought of - to seed. The only subject
on which he seems to feel any approach to enthusiasm, is pitch. He
pitches everything he can lay hold of, - the pier, the palings, his
boat, his house, - when there is nothing else left he turns to and
even pitches his hat, or his rough-weather clothing. Do not judge
him by deceitful appearances. These are among the bravest and most
skilful mariners that exist. Let a gale arise and swell into a
storm, let a sea run that might appal the stoutest heart that ever
beat, let the Light-boat on these dangerous sands throw up a rocket
in the night, or let them hear through the angry roar the signal-
guns of a ship in distress, and these men spring up into activity
so dauntless, so valiant, and heroic, that the world cannot surpass
it. Cavillers may object that they chiefly live upon the salvage
of valuable cargoes. So they do, and God knows it is no great
living that they get out of the deadly risks they run. But put
that hope of gain aside. Let these rough fellows be asked, in any
storm, who volunteers for the life-boat to save some perishing
souls, as poor and empty-handed as themselves, whose lives the
perfection of human reason does not rate at the value of a farthing
each; and that boat will be manned, as surely and as cheerfully, as
if a thousand pounds were told down on the weather-beaten pier.
For this, and for the recollection of their comrades whom we have
known, whom the raging sea has engulfed before their children's
eyes in such brave efforts, whom the secret sand has buried, we
hold the boatmen of our watering-place in our love and honour, and
are tender of the fame they well deserve.

So many children are brought down to our watering-place that, when
they are not out of doors, as they usually are in fine weather, it
is wonderful where they are put: the whole village seeming much too
small to hold them under cover. In the afternoons, you see no end
of salt and sandy little boots drying on upper window-sills. At
bathing-time in the morning, the little bay re-echoes with every
shrill variety of shriek and splash - after which, if the weather
be at all fresh, the sands teem with small blue mottled legs. The
sands are the children's great resort. They cluster there, like
ants: so busy burying their particular friends, and making castles
with infinite labour which the next tide overthrows, that it is
curious to consider how their play, to the music of the sea,
foreshadows the realities of their after lives.

It is curious, too, to observe a natural ease of approach that
there seems to be between the children and the boatmen. They
mutually make acquaintance, and take individual likings, without
any help. You will come upon one of those slow heavy fellows
sitting down patiently mending a little ship for a mite of a boy,
whom he could crush to death by throwing his lightest pair of
trousers on him. You will be sensible of the oddest contrast
between the smooth little creature, and the rough man who seems to
be carved out of hard-grained wood - between the delicate hand
expectantly held out, and the immense thumb and finger that can
hardly feel the rigging of thread they mend - between the small
voice and the gruff growl - and yet there is a natural propriety in
the companionship: always to be noted in confidence between a child
and a person who has any merit of reality and genuineness: which is
admirably pleasant.

We have a preventive station at our watering-place, and much the
same thing may be observed - in a lesser degree, because of their
official character - of the coast blockade; a steady, trusty, well-
conditioned, well-conducted set of men, with no misgiving about
looking you full in the face, and with a quiet thorough-going way
of passing along to their duty at night, carrying huge sou'-wester
clothing in reserve, that is fraught with all good prepossession.
They are handy fellows - neat about their houses - industrious at
gardening - would get on with their wives, one thinks, in a desert
island - and people it, too, soon.

As to the naval officer of the station, with his hearty fresh face,
and his blue eye that has pierced all kinds of weather, it warms
our hearts when he comes into church on a Sunday, with that bright
mixture of blue coat, buff waistcoat, black neck-kerchief, and gold
epaulette, that is associated in the minds of all Englishmen with
brave, unpretending, cordial, national service. We like to look at
him in his Sunday state; and if we were First Lord (really
possessing the indispensable qualification for the office of
knowing nothing whatever about the sea), we would give him a ship

We have a church, by-the-by, of course - a hideous temple of flint,
like a great petrified haystack. Our chief clerical dignitary,
who, to his honour, has done much for education both in time and
money, and has established excellent schools, is a sound, shrewd,
healthy gentleman, who has got into little occasional difficulties
with the neighbouring farmers, but has had a pestilent trick of
being right. Under a new regulation, he has yielded the church of
our watering-place to another clergyman. Upon the whole we get on
in church well. We are a little bilious sometimes, about these
days of fraternisation, and about nations arriving at a new and
more unprejudiced knowledge of each other (which our Christianity
don't quite approve), but it soon goes off, and then we get on very

There are two dissenting chapels, besides, in our small watering-
place; being in about the proportion of a hundred and twenty guns
to a yacht. But the dissension that has torn us lately, has not
been a religious one. It has arisen on the novel question of Gas.
Our watering-place has been convulsed by the agitation, Gas or No
Gas. It was never reasoned why No Gas, but there was a great No
Gas party. Broadsides were printed and stuck about - a startling
circumstance in our watering-place. The No Gas party rested
content with chalking 'No Gas!' and 'Down with Gas!' and other such
angry war-whoops, on the few back gates and scraps of wall which
the limits of our watering-place afford; but the Gas party printed
and posted bills, wherein they took the high ground of proclaiming
against the No Gas party, that it was said Let there be light and
there was light; and that not to have light (that is gas-light) in
our watering-place, was to contravene the great decree. Whether by
these thunderbolts or not, the No Gas party were defeated; and in
this present season we have had our handful of shops illuminated
for the first time. Such of the No Gas party, however, as have got
shops, remain in opposition and burn tallow - exhibiting in their
windows the very picture of the sulkiness that punishes itself, and
a new illustration of the old adage about cutting off your nose to
be revenged on your face, in cutting off their gas to be revenged
on their business.

Other population than we have indicated, our watering-place has
none. There are a few old used-up boatmen who creep about in the
sunlight with the help of sticks, and there is a poor imbecile
shoemaker who wanders his lonely life away among the rocks, as if
he were looking for his reason - which he will never find.
Sojourners in neighbouring watering-places come occasionally in
flys to stare at us, and drive away again as if they thought us
very dull; Italian boys come, Punch comes, the Fantoccini come, the
Tumblers come, the Ethiopians come; Glee-singers come at night, and
hum and vibrate (not always melodiously) under our windows. But
they all go soon, and leave us to ourselves again. We once had a
travelling Circus and Wombwell's Menagerie at the same time. They
both know better than ever to try it again; and the Menagerie had
nearly razed us from the face of the earth in getting the elephant
away - his caravan was so large, and the watering-place so small.
We have a fine sea, wholesome for all people; profitable for the
body, profitable for the mind. The poet's words are sometimes on
its awful lips:

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand.
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

Yet it is not always so, for the speech of the sea is various, and
wants not abundant resource of cheerfulness, hope, and lusty
encouragement. And since I have been idling at the window here,
the tide has risen. The boats are dancing on the bubbling water;
the colliers are afloat again; the white-bordered waves rush in;
the children

Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
When he comes back;

the radiant sails are gliding past the shore, and shining on the
far horizon; all the sea is sparkling, heaving, swelling up with
life and beauty, this bright morning.


HAVING earned, by many years of fidelity, the right to be sometimes
inconstant to our English watering-place, we have dallied for two
or three seasons with a French watering-place: once solely known to
us as a town with a very long street, beginning with an abattoir
and ending with a steam-boat, which it seemed our fate to behold
only at daybreak on winter mornings, when (in the days before
continental railroads), just sufficiently awake to know that we
were most uncomfortably asleep, it was our destiny always to
clatter through it, in the coupe of the diligence from Paris, with
a sea of mud behind us, and a sea of tumbling waves before. In
relation to which latter monster, our mind's eye now recalls a
worthy Frenchman in a seal-skin cap with a braided hood over it,
once our travelling companion in the coupe aforesaid, who, waking
up with a pale and crumpled visage, and looking ruefully out at the
grim row of breakers enjoying themselves fanatically on an
instrument of torture called 'the Bar,' inquired of us whether we
were ever sick at sea? Both to prepare his mind for the abject
creature we were presently to become, and also to afford him
consolation, we replied, 'Sir, your servant is always sick when it
is possible to be so.' He returned, altogether uncheered by the
bright example, 'Ah, Heaven, but I am always sick, even when it is
IMpossible to be so.'

The means of communication between the French capital and our
French watering-place are wholly changed since those days; but, the
Channel remains unbridged as yet, and the old floundering and
knocking about go on there. It must be confessed that saving in
reasonable (and therefore rare) sea-weather, the act of arrival at
our French watering-place from England is difficult to be achieved
with dignity. Several little circumstances combine to render the
visitor an object of humiliation. In the first place, the steamer
no sooner touches the port, than all the passengers fall into
captivity: being boarded by an overpowering force of Custom-house
officers, and marched into a gloomy dungeon. In the second place,
the road to this dungeon is fenced off with ropes breast-high, and
outside those ropes all the English in the place who have lately
been sea-sick and are now well, assemble in their best clothes to
enjoy the degradation of their dilapidated fellow-creatures. 'Oh,
my gracious! how ill this one has been!' 'Here's a damp one coming
next!' 'HERE'S a pale one!' 'Oh! Ain't he green in the face,
this next one!' Even we ourself (not deficient in natural dignity)
have a lively remembrance of staggering up this detested lane one
September day in a gale of wind, when we were received like an
irresistible comic actor, with a burst of laughter and applause,
occasioned by the extreme imbecility of our legs.

We were coming to the third place. In the third place, the
captives, being shut up in the gloomy dungeon, are strained, two or
three at a time, into an inner cell, to be examined as to
passports; and across the doorway of communication, stands a
military creature making a bar of his arm. Two ideas are generally
present to the British mind during these ceremonies; first, that it
is necessary to make for the cell with violent struggles, as if it
were a life-boat and the dungeon a ship going down; secondly, that
the military creature's arm is a national affront, which the
government at home ought instantly to 'take up.' The British mind
and body becoming heated by these fantasies, delirious answers are
made to inquiries, and extravagant actions performed. Thus,
Johnson persists in giving Johnson as his baptismal name, and
substituting for his ancestral designation the national 'Dam!'
Neither can he by any means be brought to recognise the distinction
between a portmanteau-key and a passport, but will obstinately
persevere in tendering the one when asked for the other. This
brings him to the fourth place, in a state of mere idiotcy; and
when he is, in the fourth place, cast out at a little door into a
howling wilderness of touters, he becomes a lunatic with wild eyes
and floating hair until rescued and soothed. If friendless and
unrescued, he is generally put into a railway omnibus and taken to

But, our French watering-place, when it is once got into, is a very
enjoyable place. It has a varied and beautiful country around it,
and many characteristic and agreeable things within it. To be
sure, it might have fewer bad smells and less decaying refuse, and
it might be better drained, and much cleaner in many parts, and
therefore infinitely more healthy. Still, it is a bright, airy,
pleasant, cheerful town; and if you were to walk down either of its
three well-paved main streets, towards five o'clock in the
afternoon, when delicate odours of cookery fill the air, and its
hotel windows (it is full of hotels) give glimpses of long tables
set out for dinner, and made to look sumptuous by the aid of
napkins folded fan-wise, you would rightly judge it to be an
uncommonly good town to eat and drink in.

We have an old walled town, rich in cool public wells of water, on
the top of a hill within and above the present business-town; and
if it were some hundreds of miles further from England, instead of
being, on a clear day, within sight of the grass growing in the
crevices of the chalk-cliffs of Dover, you would long ago have been
bored to death about that town. It is more picturesque and quaint
than half the innocent places which tourists, following their
leader like sheep, have made impostors of. To say nothing of its
houses with grave courtyards, its queer by-corners, and its many-
windowed streets white and quiet in the sunlight, there is an
ancient belfry in it that would have been in all the Annuals and
Albums, going and gone, these hundred years if it had but been more
expensive to get at. Happily it has escaped so well, being only in
our French watering-place, that you may like it of your own accord
in a natural manner, without being required to go into convulsions
about it. We regard it as one of the later blessings of our life,
that BILKINS, the only authority on Taste, never took any notice
that we can find out, of our French watering-place. Bilkins never
wrote about it, never pointed out anything to be seen in it, never
measured anything in it, always left it alone. For which relief,
Heaven bless the town and the memory of the immortal Bilkins

There is a charming walk, arched and shaded by trees, on the old
walls that form the four sides of this High Town, whence you get
glimpses of the streets below, and changing views of the other town
and of the river, and of the hills and of the sea. It is made more
agreeable and peculiar by some of the solemn houses that are rooted
in the deep streets below, bursting into a fresher existence a-top,
and having doors and windows, and even gardens, on these ramparts.
A child going in at the courtyard gate of one of these houses,
climbing up the many stairs, and coming out at the fourth-floor
window, might conceive himself another Jack, alighting on enchanted
ground from another bean-stalk. It is a place wonderfully populous
in children; English children, with governesses reading novels as
they walk down the shady lanes of trees, or nursemaids
interchanging gossip on the seats; French children with their
smiling bonnes in snow-white caps, and themselves - if little boys
- in straw head-gear like bee-hives, work-baskets and church
hassocks. Three years ago, there were three weazen old men, one
bearing a frayed red ribbon in his threadbare button-hole, always
to be found walking together among these children, before dinner-
time. If they walked for an appetite, they doubtless lived en
pension - were contracted for - otherwise their poverty would have
made it a rash action. They were stooping, blear-eyed, dull old
men, slip-shod and shabby, in long-skirted short-waisted coats and
meagre trousers, and yet with a ghost of gentility hovering in
their company. They spoke little to each other, and looked as if
they might have been politically discontented if they had had
vitality enough. Once, we overheard red-ribbon feebly complain to
the other two that somebody, or something, was 'a Robber;' and then
they all three set their mouths so that they would have ground
their teeth if they had had any. The ensuing winter gathered red-
ribbon unto the great company of faded ribbons, and next year the
remaining two were there - getting themselves entangled with hoops
and dolls - familiar mysteries to the children - probably in the
eyes of most of them, harmless creatures who had never been like
children, and whom children could never be like. Another winter
came, and another old man went, and so, this present year, the last
of the triumvirate, left off walking - it was no good, now - and
sat by himself on a little solitary bench, with the hoops and the
dolls as lively as ever all about him.

In the Place d'Armes of this town, a little decayed market is held,
which seems to slip through the old gateway, like water, and go
rippling down the hill, to mingle with the murmuring market in the
lower town, and get lost in its movement and bustle. It is very
agreeable on an idle summer morning to pursue this market-stream
from the hill-top. It begins, dozingly and dully, with a few sacks
of corn; starts into a surprising collection of boots and shoes;
goes brawling down the hill in a diversified channel of old
cordage, old iron, old crockery, old clothes, civil and military,
old rags, new cotton goods, flaming prints of saints, little
looking-glasses, and incalculable lengths of tape; dives into a
backway, keeping out of sight for a little while, as streams will,
or only sparkling for a moment in the shape of a market drinking-
shop; and suddenly reappears behind the great church, shooting
itself into a bright confusion of white-capped women and blue-
bloused men, poultry, vegetables, fruits, flowers, pots, pans,
praying-chairs, soldiers, country butter, umbrellas and other sun-
shades, girl-porters waiting to be hired with baskets at their
backs, and one weazen little old man in a cocked hat, wearing a
cuirass of drinking-glasses and carrying on his shoulder a crimson
temple fluttering with flags, like a glorified pavior's rammer
without the handle, who rings a little bell in all parts of the
scene, and cries his cooling drink Hola, Hola, Ho-o-o! in a shrill
cracked voice that somehow makes itself heard, above all the
chaffering and vending hum. Early in the afternoon, the whole
course of the stream is dry. The praying-chairs are put back in
the church, the umbrellas are folded up, the unsold goods are
carried away, the stalls and stands disappear, the square is swept,
the hackney coaches lounge there to be hired, and on all the
country roads (if you walk about, as much as we do) you will see
the peasant women, always neatly and comfortably dressed, riding
home, with the pleasantest saddle-furniture of clean milk-pails,
bright butter-kegs, and the like, on the jolliest little donkeys in
the world.

We have another market in our French watering-place - that is to
say, a few wooden hutches in the open street, down by the Port -
devoted to fish. Our fishing-boats are famous everywhere; and our
fishing people, though they love lively colours, and taste is
neutral (see Bilkins), are among the most picturesque people we
ever encountered. They have not only a quarter of their own in the
town itself, but they occupy whole villages of their own on the
neighbouring cliffs. Their churches and chapels are their own;
they consort with one another, they intermarry among themselves,
their customs are their own, and their costume is their own and
never changes. As soon as one of their boys can walk, he is
provided with a long bright red nightcap; and one of their men
would as soon think of going afloat without his head, as without
that indispensable appendage to it. Then, they wear the noblest
boots, with the hugest tops - flapping and bulging over anyhow;
above which, they encase themselves in such wonderful overalls and
petticoat trousers, made to all appearance of tarry old sails, so
additionally stiffened with pitch and salt, that the wearers have a
walk of their own, and go straddling and swinging about among the
boats and barrels and nets and rigging, a sight to see. Then,
their younger women, by dint of going down to the sea barefoot, to
fling their baskets into the boats as they come in with the tide,
and bespeak the first fruits of the haul with propitiatory promises
to love and marry that dear fisherman who shall fill that basket
like an Angel, have the finest legs ever carved by Nature in the
brightest mahogany, and they walk like Juno. Their eyes, too, are
so lustrous that their long gold ear-rings turn dull beside those
brilliant neighbours; and when they are dressed, what with these
beauties, and their fine fresh faces, and their many petticoats -
striped petticoats, red petticoats, blue petticoats, always clean
and smart, and never too long - and their home-made stockings,
mulberry-coloured, blue, brown, purple, lilac - which the older
women, taking care of the Dutch-looking children, sit in all sorts
of places knitting, knitting, knitting from morning to night - and
what with their little saucy bright blue jackets, knitted too, and
fitting close to their handsome figures; and what with the natural
grace with which they wear the commonest cap, or fold the commonest
handkerchief round their luxuriant hair - we say, in a word and out
of breath, that taking all these premises into our consideration,
it has never been a matter of the least surprise to us that we have
never once met, in the cornfields, on the dusty roads, by the
breezy windmills, on the plots of short sweet grass overhanging the
sea - anywhere - a young fisherman and fisherwoman of our French
watering-place together, but the arm of that fisherman has
invariably been, as a matter of course and without any absurd
attempt to disguise so plain a necessity, round the neck or waist
of that fisherwoman. And we have had no doubt whatever, standing
looking at their uphill streets, house rising above house, and
terrace above terrace, and bright garments here and there lying
sunning on rough stone parapets, that the pleasant mist on all such
objects, caused by their being seen through the brown nets hung
across on poles to dry, is, in the eyes of every true young
fisherman, a mist of love and beauty, setting off the goddess of
his heart.

Moreover it is to be observed that these are an industrious people,
and a domestic people, and an honest people. And though we are
aware that at the bidding of Bilkins it is our duty to fall down
and worship the Neapolitans, we make bold very much to prefer the
fishing people of our French watering-place - especially since our
last visit to Naples within these twelvemonths, when we found only
four conditions of men remaining in the whole city: to wit,
lazzaroni, priests, spies, and soldiers, and all of them beggars;
the paternal government having banished all its subjects except the

But we can never henceforth separate our French watering-place from
our own landlord of two summers, M. Loyal Devasseur, citizen and
town-councillor. Permit us to have the pleasure of presenting M.
Loyal Devasseur.

His own family name is simply Loyal; but, as he is married, and as
in that part of France a husband always adds to his own name the
family name of his wife, he writes himself Loyal Devasseur. He
owns a compact little estate of some twenty or thirty acres on a
lofty hill-side, and on it he has built two country houses, which
he lets furnished. They are by many degrees the best houses that
are so let near our French watering-place; we have had the honour
of living in both, and can testify. The entrance-hall of the first
we inhabited was ornamented with a plan of the estate, representing
it as about twice the size of Ireland; insomuch that when we were
yet new to the property (M. Loyal always speaks of it as 'La
propriete') we went three miles straight on end in search of the
bridge of Austerlitz - which we afterwards found to be immediately
outside the window. The Chateau of the Old Guard, in another part
of the grounds, and, according to the plan, about two leagues from
the little dining-room, we sought in vain for a week, until,
happening one evening to sit upon a bench in the forest (forest in
the plan), a few yards from the house-door, we observed at our
feet, in the ignominious circumstances of being upside down and
greenly rotten, the Old Guard himself: that is to say, the painted
effigy of a member of that distinguished corps, seven feet high,
and in the act of carrying arms, who had had the misfortune to be
blown down in the previous winter. It will be perceived that M.
Loyal is a staunch admirer of the great Napoleon. He is an old
soldier himself - captain of the National Guard, with a handsome
gold vase on his chimney-piece presented to him by his company -
and his respect for the memory of the illustrious general is
enthusiastic. Medallions of him, portraits of him, busts of him,
pictures of him, are thickly sprinkled all over the property.
During the first month of our occupation, it was our affliction to
be constantly knocking down Napoleon: if we touched a shelf in a
dark corner, he toppled over with a crash; and every door we
opened, shook him to the soul. Yet M. Loyal is not a man of mere
castles in the air, or, as he would say, in Spain. He has a
specially practical, contriving, clever, skilful eye and hand. His
houses are delightful. He unites French elegance and English
comfort, in a happy manner quite his own. He has an extraordinary
genius for making tasteful little bedrooms in angles of his roofs,
which an Englishman would as soon think of turning to any account
as he would think of cultivating the Desert. We have ourself
reposed deliciously in an elegant chamber of M. Loyal's
construction, with our head as nearly in the kitchen chimney-pot as
we can conceive it likely for the head of any gentleman, not by
profession a Sweep, to be. And, into whatsoever strange nook M.
Loyal's genius penetrates, it, in that nook, infallibly constructs
a cupboard and a row of pegs. In either of our houses, we could
have put away the knapsacks and hung up the hats of the whole
regiment of Guides.

Aforetime, M. Loyal was a tradesman in the town. You can transact
business with no present tradesman in the town, and give your card
'chez M. Loyal,' but a brighter face shines upon you directly. We
doubt if there is, ever was, or ever will be, a man so universally
pleasant in the minds of people as M. Loyal is in the minds of the
citizens of our French watering-place. They rub their hands and
laugh when they speak of him. Ah, but he is such a good child,
such a brave boy, such a generous spirit, that Monsieur Loyal! It
is the honest truth. M. Loyal's nature is the nature of a
gentleman. He cultivates his ground with his own hands (assisted
by one little labourer, who falls into a fit now and then); and he
digs and delves from morn to eve in prodigious perspirations -
'works always,' as he says - but, cover him with dust, mud, weeds,
water, any stains you will, you never can cover the gentleman in M.
Loyal. A portly, upright, broad-shouldered, brown-faced man, whose
soldierly bearing gives him the appearance of being taller than he
is, look into the bright eye of M. Loyal, standing before you in
his working-blouse and cap, not particularly well shaved, and, it
may be, very earthy, and you shall discern in M. Loyal a gentleman
whose true politeness is ingrain, and confirmation of whose word by
his bond you would blush to think of. Not without reason is M.
Loyal when he tells that story, in his own vivacious way, of his
travelling to Fulham, near London, to buy all these hundreds and
hundreds of trees you now see upon the Property, then a bare, bleak
hill; and of his sojourning in Fulham three months; and of his
jovial evenings with the market-gardeners; and of the crowning
banquet before his departure, when the market-gardeners rose as one
man, clinked their glasses all together (as the custom at Fulham
is), and cried, 'Vive Loyal!'

M. Loyal has an agreeable wife, but no family; and he loves to
drill the children of his tenants, or run races with them, or do
anything with them, or for them, that is good-natured. He is of a
highly convivial temperament, and his hospitality is unbounded.
Billet a soldier on him, and he is delighted. Five-and-thirty
soldiers had M. Loyal billeted on him this present summer, and they
all got fat and red-faced in two days. It became a legend among
the troops that whosoever got billeted on M. Loyal rolled in
clover; and so it fell out that the fortunate man who drew the
billet 'M. Loyal Devasseur' always leaped into the air, though in
heavy marching order. M. Loyal cannot bear to admit anything that
might seem by any implication to disparage the military profession.
We hinted to him once, that we were conscious of a remote doubt
arising in our mind, whether a sou a day for pocket-money, tobacco,
stockings, drink, washing, and social pleasures in general, left a
very large margin for a soldier's enjoyment. Pardon! said Monsieur
Loyal, rather wincing. It was not a fortune, but - a la bonne
heure - it was better than it used to be! What, we asked him on
another occasion, were all those neighbouring peasants, each living
with his family in one room, and each having a soldier (perhaps
two) billeted on him every other night, required to provide for
those soldiers? 'Faith!' said M. Loyal, reluctantly; a bed,
monsieur, and fire to cook with, and a candle. And they share
their supper with those soldiers. It is not possible that they
could eat alone.' - 'And what allowance do they get for this?' said
we. Monsieur Loyal drew himself up taller, took a step back, laid
his hand upon his breast, and said, with majesty, as speaking for
himself and all France, 'Monsieur, it is a contribution to the

It is never going to rain, according to M. Loyal. When it is
impossible to deny that it is now raining in torrents, he says it
will be fine - charming - magnificent - to-morrow. It is never hot
on the Property, he contends. Likewise it is never cold. The
flowers, he says, come out, delighting to grow there; it is like
Paradise this morning; it is like the Garden of Eden. He is a
little fanciful in his language: smilingly observing of Madame
Loyal, when she is absent at vespers, that she is 'gone to her
salvation' - allee a son salut. He has a great enjoyment of
tobacco, but nothing would induce him to continue smoking face to
face with a lady. His short black pipe immediately goes into his
breast pocket, scorches his blouse, and nearly sets him on fire.
In the Town Council and on occasions of ceremony, he appears in a
full suit of black, with a waistcoat of magnificent breadth across
the chest, and a shirt-collar of fabulous proportions. Good M.
Loyal! Under blouse or waistcoat, he carries one of the gentlest
hearts that beat in a nation teeming with gentle people. He has
had losses, and has been at his best under them. Not only the loss
of his way by night in the Fulham times - when a bad subject of an
Englishman, under pretence of seeing him home, took him into all
the night public-houses, drank 'arfanarf' in every one at his
expense, and finally fled, leaving him shipwrecked at Cleefeeway,
which we apprehend to be Ratcliffe Highway - but heavier losses
than that. Long ago a family of children and a mother were left in
one of his houses without money, a whole year. M. Loyal - anything
but as rich as we wish he had been - had not the heart to say 'you
must go;' so they stayed on and stayed on, and paying-tenants who
would have come in couldn't come in, and at last they managed to
get helped home across the water; and M. Loyal kissed the whole
group, and said, 'Adieu, my poor infants!' and sat down in their
deserted salon and smoked his pipe of peace. - 'The rent, M.
Loyal?' 'Eh! well! The rent!' M. Loyal shakes his head. 'Le bon
Dieu,' says M. Loyal presently, 'will recompense me,' and he laughs
and smokes his pipe of peace. May he smoke it on the Property, and
not be recompensed, these fifty years!

There are public amusements in our French watering-place, or it
would not be French. They are very popular, and very cheap. The
sea-bathing - which may rank as the most favoured daylight
entertainment, inasmuch as the French visitors bathe all day long,
and seldom appear to think of remaining less than an hour at a time
in the water - is astoundingly cheap. Omnibuses convey you, if you
please, from a convenient part of the town to the beach and back
again; you have a clean and comfortable bathing-machine, dress,
linen, and all appliances; and the charge for the whole is half-a-
franc, or fivepence. On the pier, there is usually a guitar, which
seems presumptuously enough to set its tinkling against the deep
hoarseness of the sea, and there is always some boy or woman who
sings, without any voice, little songs without any tune: the strain
we have most frequently heard being an appeal to 'the sportsman'
not to bag that choicest of game, the swallow. For bathing
purposes, we have also a subscription establishment with an
esplanade, where people lounge about with telescopes, and seem to
get a good deal of weariness for their money; and we have also an
association of individual machine proprietors combined against this
formidable rival. M. Feroce, our own particular friend in the
bathing line, is one of these. How he ever came by his name we
cannot imagine. He is as gentle and polite a man as M. Loyal
Devasseur himself; immensely stout withal; and of a beaming aspect.
M. Feroce has saved so many people from drowning, and has been
decorated with so many medals in consequence, that his stoutness
seems a special dispensation of Providence to enable him to wear
them; if his girth were the girth of an ordinary man, he could
never hang them on, all at once. It is only on very great
occasions that M. Feroce displays his shining honours. At other
times they lie by, with rolls of manuscript testifying to the
causes of their presentation, in a huge glass case in the red-
sofa'd salon of his private residence on the beach, where M. Feroce
also keeps his family pictures, his portraits of himself as he
appears both in bathing life and in private life, his little boats
that rock by clockwork, and his other ornamental possessions.

Then, we have a commodious and gay Theatre - or had, for it is
burned down now - where the opera was always preceded by a
vaudeville, in which (as usual) everybody, down to the little old
man with the large hat and the little cane and tassel, who always
played either my Uncle or my Papa, suddenly broke out of the
dialogue into the mildest vocal snatches, to the great perplexity
of unaccustomed strangers from Great Britain, who never could make
out when they were singing and when they were talking - and indeed
it was pretty much the same. But, the caterers in the way of
entertainment to whom we are most beholden, are the Society of
Welldoing, who are active all the summer, and give the proceeds of
their good works to the poor. Some of the most agreeable fetes
they contrive, are announced as 'Dedicated to the children;' and
the taste with which they turn a small public enclosure into an
elegant garden beautifully illuminated; and the thorough-going
heartiness and energy with which they personally direct the
childish pleasures; are supremely delightful. For fivepence a
head, we have on these occasions donkey races with English
'Jokeis,' and other rustic sports; lotteries for toys; roundabouts,
dancing on the grass to the music of an admirable band, fire-
balloons and fireworks. Further, almost every week all through the
summer - never mind, now, on what day of the week - there is a fete
in some adjoining village (called in that part of the country a
Ducasse), where the people - really THE PEOPLE - dance on the green
turf in the open air, round a little orchestra, that seems itself
to dance, there is such an airy motion of flags and streamers all
about it. And we do not suppose that between the Torrid Zone and
the North Pole there are to be found male dancers with such
astonishingly loose legs, furnished with so many joints in wrong
places, utterly unknown to Professor Owen, as those who here
disport themselves. Sometimes, the fete appertains to a particular
trade; you will see among the cheerful young women at the joint
Ducasse of the milliners and tailors, a wholesome knowledge of the
art of making common and cheap things uncommon and pretty, by good
sense and good taste, that is a practical lesson to any rank of
society in a whole island we could mention. The oddest feature of
these agreeable scenes is the everlasting Roundabout (we preserve
an English word wherever we can, as we are writing the English
language), on the wooden horses of which machine grown-up people of
all ages are wound round and round with the utmost solemnity, while
the proprietor's wife grinds an organ, capable of only one tune, in
the centre.

As to the boarding-houses of our French watering-place, they are
Legion, and would require a distinct treatise. It is not without a
sentiment of national pride that we believe them to contain more
bores from the shores of Albion than all the clubs in London. As
you walk timidly in their neighbourhood, the very neckcloths and
hats of your elderly compatriots cry to you from the stones of the
streets, 'We are Bores - avoid us!' We have never overheard at
street corners such lunatic scraps of political and social
discussion as among these dear countrymen of ours. They believe
everything that is impossible and nothing that is true. They carry
rumours, and ask questions, and make corrections and improvements
on one another, staggering to the human intellect. And they are
for ever rushing into the English library, propounding such
incomprehensible paradoxes to the fair mistress of that
establishment, that we beg to recommend her to her Majesty's
gracious consideration as a fit object for a pension.

The English form a considerable part of the population of our
French watering-place, and are deservedly addressed and respected
in many ways. Some of the surface-addresses to them are odd
enough, as when a laundress puts a placard outside her house
announcing her possession of that curious British instrument, a
'Mingle;' or when a tavern-keeper provides accommodation for the
celebrated English game of 'Nokemdon.' But, to us, it is not the
least pleasant feature of our French watering-place that a long and
constant fusion of the two great nations there, has taught each to
like the other, and to learn from the other, and to rise superior
to the absurd prejudices that have lingered among the weak and
ignorant in both countries equally.

Drumming and trumpeting of course go on for ever in our French
watering-place. Flag-flying is at a premium, too; but, we
cheerfully avow that we consider a flag a very pretty object, and
that we take such outward signs of innocent liveliness to our heart
of hearts. The people, in the town and in the country, are a busy
people who work hard; they are sober, temperate, good-humoured,
light-hearted, and generally remarkable for their engaging manners.
Few just men, not immoderately bilious, could see them in their
recreations without very much respecting the character that is so
easily, so harmlessly, and so simply, pleased.


IF I had an enemy whom I hated - which Heaven forbid! - and if I
knew of something which sat heavy on his conscience, I think I
would introduce that something into a Posting-Bill, and place a
large impression in the hands of an active sticker. I can scarcely
imagine a more terrible revenge. I should haunt him, by this
means, night and day. I do not mean to say that I would publish
his secret, in red letters two feet high, for all the town to read:
I would darkly refer to it. It should be between him, and me, and
the Posting-Bill. Say, for example, that, at a certain period of
his life, my enemy had surreptitiously possessed himself of a key.
I would then embark my capital in the lock business, and conduct
that business on the advertising principle. In all my placards and
advertisements, I would throw up the line SECRET KEYS. Thus, if my
enemy passed an uninhabited house, he would see his conscience
glaring down on him from the parapets, and peeping up at him from
the cellars. If he took a dead wall in his walk, it would be alive
with reproaches. If he sought refuge in an omnibus, the panels
thereof would become Belshazzar's palace to him. If he took boat,
in a wild endeavour to escape, he would see the fatal words lurking
under the arches of the bridges over the Thames. If he walked the
streets with downcast eyes, he would recoil from the very stones of
the pavement, made eloquent by lamp-black lithograph. If he drove
or rode, his way would be blocked up by enormous vans, each
proclaiming the same words over and over again from its whole
extent of surface. Until, having gradually grown thinner and
paler, and having at last totally rejected food, he would miserably
perish, and I should be revenged. This conclusion I should, no
doubt, celebrate by laughing a hoarse laugh in three syllables, and
folding my arms tight upon my chest agreeably to most of the
examples of glutted animosity that I have had an opportunity of
observing in connexion with the Drama - which, by-the-by, as
involving a good deal of noise, appears to me to be occasionally
confounded with the Drummer.

The foregoing reflections presented themselves to my mind, the
other day, as I contemplated (being newly come to London from the
East Riding of Yorkshire, on a house-hunting expedition for next
May), an old warehouse which rotting paste and rotting paper had
brought down to the condition of an old cheese. It would have been
impossible to say, on the most conscientious survey, how much of
its front was brick and mortar, and how much decaying and decayed
plaster. It was so thickly encrusted with fragments of bills, that
no ship's keel after a long voyage could be half so foul. All
traces of the broken windows were billed out, the doors were billed
across, the water-spout was billed over. The building was shored
up to prevent its tumbling into the street; and the very beams
erected against it were less wood than paste and paper, they had
been so continually posted and reposted. The forlorn dregs of old
posters so encumbered this wreck, that there was no hold for new
posters, and the stickers had abandoned the place in despair,
except one enterprising man who had hoisted the last masquerade to
a clear spot near the level of the stack of chimneys where it waved
and drooped like a shattered flag. Below the rusty cellar-grating,
crumpled remnants of old bills torn down, rotted away in wasting
heaps of fallen leaves. Here and there, some of the thick rind of
the house had peeled off in strips, and fluttered heavily down,
littering the street; but, still, below these rents and gashes,
layers of decomposing posters showed themselves, as if they were
interminable. I thought the building could never even be pulled
down, but in one adhesive heap of rottenness and poster. As to
getting in - I don't believe that if the Sleeping Beauty and her
Court had been so billed up, the young Prince could have done it.

Knowing all the posters that were yet legible, intimately, and
pondering on their ubiquitous nature, I was led into the
reflections with which I began this paper, by considering what an
awful thing it would be, ever to have wronged - say M. JULLIEN for
example - and to have his avenging name in characters of fire
incessantly before my eyes. Or to have injured MADAME TUSSAUD, and
undergo a similar retribution. Has any man a self-reproachful
thought associated with pills, or ointment? What an avenging
spirit to that man is PROFESSOR HOLLOWAY! Have I sinned in oil?
CABBURN pursues me. Have I a dark remembrance associated with any
gentlemanly garments, bespoke or ready made? MOSES and SON are on
my track. Did I ever aim a blow at a defenceless fellow-creature's
head? That head eternally being measured for a wig, or that worse
head which was bald before it used the balsam, and hirsute
afterwards - enforcing the benevolent moral, 'Better to be bald as
a Dutch cheese than come to this,' - undoes me. Have I no sore
places in my mind which MECHI touches - which NICOLL probes - which
no registered article whatever lacerates? Does no discordant note
within me thrill responsive to mysterious watchwords, as 'Revalenta
Arabica,' or 'Number One St. Paul's Churchyard'? Then may I enjoy
life, and be happy.

Lifting up my eyes, as I was musing to this effect, I beheld
advancing towards me (I was then on Cornhill, near to the Royal
Exchange), a solemn procession of three advertising vans, of first-
class dimensions, each drawn by a very little horse. As the
cavalcade approached, I was at a loss to reconcile the careless
deportment of the drivers of these vehicles, with the terrific
announcements they conducted through the city, which being a
summary of the contents of a Sunday newspaper, were of the most
thrilling kind. Robbery, fire, murder, and the ruin of the United
Kingdom - each discharged in a line by itself, like a separate
broad-side of red-hot shot - were among the least of the warnings
addressed to an unthinking people. Yet, the Ministers of Fate who
drove the awful cars, leaned forward with their arms upon their
knees in a state of extreme lassitude, for want of any subject of
interest. The first man, whose hair I might naturally have
expected to see standing on end, scratched his head - one of the
smoothest I ever beheld - with profound indifference. The second
whistled. The third yawned.

Pausing to dwell upon this apathy, it appeared to me, as the fatal
cars came by me, that I descried in the second car, through the
portal in which the charioteer was seated, a figure stretched upon
the floor. At the same time, I thought I smelt tobacco. The
latter impression passed quickly from me; the former remained.
Curious to know whether this prostrate figure was the one
impressible man of the whole capital who had been stricken
insensible by the terrors revealed to him, and whose form had been
placed in the car by the charioteer, from motives of humanity, I
followed the procession. It turned into Leadenhall-market, and
halted at a public-house. Each driver dismounted. I then
distinctly heard, proceeding from the second car, where I had dimly
seen the prostrate form, the words:

'And a pipe!'

The driver entering the public-house with his fellows, apparently
for purposes of refreshment, I could not refrain from mounting on
the shaft of the second vehicle, and looking in at the portal. I
then beheld, reclining on his back upon the floor, on a kind of
mattress or divan, a little man in a shooting-coat. The
exclamation 'Dear me' which irresistibly escaped my lips caused him
to sit upright, and survey me. I found him to be a good-looking
little man of about fifty, with a shining face, a tight head, a
bright eye, a moist wink, a quick speech, and a ready air. He had
something of a sporting way with him.

He looked at me, and I looked at him, until the driver displaced me
by handing in a pint of beer, a pipe, and what I understand is
called 'a screw' of tobacco - an object which has the appearance of
a curl-paper taken off the barmaid's head, with the curl in it.

'I beg your pardon,' said I, when the removed person of the driver
again admitted of my presenting my face at the portal. 'But -
excuse my curiosity, which I inherit from my mother - do you live

'That's good, too!' returned the little man, composedly laying
aside a pipe he had smoked out, and filling the pipe just brought
to him.

'Oh, you DON'T live here then?' said I.

He shook his head, as he calmly lighted his pipe by means of a
German tinder-box, and replied, 'This is my carriage. When things
are flat, I take a ride sometimes, and enjoy myself. I am the
inventor of these wans.'

His pipe was now alight. He drank his beer all at once, and he
smoked and he smiled at me.

'It was a great idea!' said I.

'Not so bad,' returned the little man, with the modesty of merit.

'Might I be permitted to inscribe your name upon the tablets of my
memory?' I asked.

'There's not much odds in the name,' returned the little man, ' -
no name particular - I am the King of the Bill-Stickers.'

'Good gracious!' said I.

The monarch informed me, with a smile, that he had never been
crowned or installed with any public ceremonies, but that he was
peaceably acknowledged as King of the Bill-Stickers in right of
being the oldest and most respected member of 'the old school of
bill-sticking.' He likewise gave me to understand that there was a
Lord Mayor of the Bill-Stickers, whose genius was chiefly exercised
within the limits of the city. He made some allusion, also, to an
inferior potentate, called 'Turkey-legs;' but I did not understand
that this gentleman was invested with much power. I rather
inferred that he derived his title from some peculiarity of gait,
and that it was of an honorary character.

'My father,' pursued the King of the Bill-Stickers, 'was Engineer,
Beadle, and Bill-Sticker to the parish of St. Andrew's, Holborn, in
the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty. My father stuck
bills at the time of the riots of London.'

'You must be acquainted with the whole subject of bill-sticking,
from that time to the present!' said I.

'Pretty well so,' was the answer.

'Excuse me,' said I; 'but I am a sort of collector - '

''Not Income-tax?' cried His Majesty, hastily removing his pipe
from his lips.

'No, no,' said I.

'Water-rate?' said His Majesty.

'No, no,' I returned.

'Gas? Assessed? Sewers?' said His Majesty.

'You misunderstand me,' I replied, soothingly. 'Not that sort of
collector at all: a collector of facts.'

'Oh, if it's only facts,' cried the King of the Bill-Stickers,
recovering his good-humour, and banishing the great mistrust that
had suddenly fallen upon him, 'come in and welcome! If it had been
income, or winders, I think I should have pitched you out of the
wan, upon my soul!'

Readily complying with the invitation, I squeezed myself in at the
small aperture. His Majesty, graciously handing me a little three-
legged stool on which I took my seat in a corner, inquired if I

'I do; - that is, I can,' I answered.

'Pipe and a screw!' said His Majesty to the attendant charioteer.
'Do you prefer a dry smoke, or do you moisten it?'

As unmitigated tobacco produces most disturbing effects upon my
system (indeed, if I had perfect moral courage, I doubt if I should
smoke at all, under any circumstances), I advocated moisture, and
begged the Sovereign of the Bill-Stickers to name his usual liquor,
and to concede to me the privilege of paying for it. After some
delicate reluctance on his part, we were provided, through the
instrumentality of the attendant charioteer, with a can of cold
rum-and-water, flavoured with sugar and lemon. We were also
furnished with a tumbler, and I was provided with a pipe. His
Majesty, then observing that we might combine business with
conversation, gave the word for the car to proceed; and, to my
great delight, we jogged away at a foot pace.

I say to my great delight, because I am very fond of novelty, and
it was a new sensation to be jolting through the tumult of the city
in that secluded Temple, partly open to the sky, surrounded by the
roar without, and seeing nothing but the clouds. Occasionally,
blows from whips fell heavily on the Temple's walls, when by
stopping up the road longer than usual, we irritated carters and

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