Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Uncommercial Traveller by Charles Dickens

Part 2 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

'You noticed that young man, sir, in at Darby's?'

'Yes. What is he?'

'Deserter, sir.'

Mr. Sharpeye further intimates that when we have done with his
services, he will step back and take that young man. Which in
course of time he does: feeling at perfect ease about finding him,
and knowing for a moral certainty that nobody in that region will
be gone to bed.

Later still in the night, we came to another parlour up a step or
two from the street, which was very cleanly, neatly, even
tastefully, kept, and in which, set forth on a draped chest of
drawers masking the staircase, was such a profusion of ornamental
crockery, that it would have furnished forth a handsome sale-booth
at a fair. It backed up a stout old lady--HOGARTH drew her exact
likeness more than once--and a boy who was carefully writing a copy
in a copy-book.

'Well, ma'am, how do YOU do?'

Sweetly, she can assure the dear gentlemen, sweetly. Charmingly,
charmingly. And overjoyed to see us!

'Why, this is a strange time for this boy to be writing his copy.
In the middle of the night!'

'So it is, dear gentlemen, Heaven bless your welcome faces and send
ye prosperous, but he has been to the Play with a young friend for
his diversion, and he combinates his improvement with
entertainment, by doing his school-writing afterwards, God be good
to ye!'

The copy admonished human nature to subjugate the fire of every
fierce desire. One might have thought it recommended stirring the
fire, the old lady so approved it. There she sat, rosily beaming
at the copy-book and the boy, and invoking showers of blessings on
our heads, when we left her in the middle of the night, waiting for

Later still in the night, we came to a nauseous room with an earth
floor, into which the refuse scum of an alley trickled. The stench
of this habitation was abominable; the seeming poverty of it,
diseased and dire. Yet, here again, was visitor or lodger--a man
sitting before the fire, like the rest of them elsewhere, and
apparently not distasteful to the mistress's niece, who was also
before the fire. The mistress herself had the misfortune of being
in jail.

Three weird old women of transcendent ghastliness, were at
needlework at a table in this room. Says Trampfoot to First Witch,
'What are you making?' Says she, 'Money-bags.'

'WHAT are you making?' retorts Trampfoot, a little off his balance.

'Bags to hold your money,' says the witch, shaking her head, and
setting her teeth; 'you as has got it.'

She holds up a common cash-bag, and on the table is a heap of such
bags. Witch Two laughs at us. Witch Three scowls at us. Witch
sisterhood all, stitch, stitch. First Witch has a circle round
each eye. I fancy it like the beginning of the development of a
perverted diabolical halo, and that when it spreads all round her
head, she will die in the odour of devilry.

Trampfoot wishes to be informed what First Witch has got behind the
table, down by the side of her, there? Witches Two and Three croak
angrily, 'Show him the child!'

She drags out a skinny little arm from a brown dustheap on the
ground. Adjured not to disturb the child, she lets it drop again.
Thus we find at last that there is one child in the world of
Entries who goes to bed--if this be bed.

Mr. Superintendent asks how long are they going to work at those

How long? First Witch repeats. Going to have supper presently.
See the cups and saucers, and the plates.

'Late? Ay! But we has to 'arn our supper afore we eats it!' Both
the other witches repeat this after First Witch, and take the
Uncommercial measurement with their eyes, as for a charmed winding-
sheet. Some grim discourse ensues, referring to the mistress of
the cave, who will be released from jail to-morrow. Witches
pronounce Trampfoot 'right there,' when he deems it a trying
distance for the old lady to walk; she shall be fetched by niece in
a spring-cart.

As I took a parting look at First Witch in turning away, the red
marks round her eyes seemed to have already grown larger, and she
hungrily and thirstily looked out beyond me into the dark doorway,
to see if Jack was there. For, Jack came even here, and the
mistress had got into jail through deluding Jack.

When I at last ended this night of travel and got to bed, I failed
to keep my mind on comfortable thoughts of Seaman's Homes (not
overdone with strictness), and improved dock regulations giving
Jack greater benefit of fire and candle aboard ship, through my
mind's wandering among the vermin I had seen. Afterwards the same
vermin ran all over my sleep. Evermore, when on a breezy day I see
Poor Mercantile Jack running into port with a fair wind under all
sail, I shall think of the unsleeping host of devourers who never
go to bed, and are always in their set traps waiting for him.


In the late high winds I was blown to a great many places--and
indeed, wind or no wind, I generally have extensive transactions on
hand in the article of Air--but I have not been blown to any
English place lately, and I very seldom have blown to any English
place in my life, where I could get anything good to eat and drink
in five minutes, or where, if I sought it, I was received with a

This is a curious thing to consider. But before (stimulated by my
own experiences and the representations of many fellow-travellers
of every uncommercial and commercial degree) I consider it further,
I must utter a passing word of wonder concerning high winds.

I wonder why metropolitan gales always blow so hard at Walworth. I
cannot imagine what Walworth has done, to bring such windy
punishment upon itself, as I never fail to find recorded in the
newspapers when the wind has blown at all hard. Brixton seems to
have something on its conscience; Peckham suffers more than a
virtuous Peckham might be supposed to deserve; the howling
neighbourhood of Deptford figures largely in the accounts of the
ingenious gentlemen who are out in every wind that blows, and to
whom it is an ill high wind that blows no good; but, there can
hardly be any Walworth left by this time. It must surely be blown
away. I have read of more chimney-stacks and house-copings coming
down with terrific smashes at Walworth, and of more sacred edifices
being nearly (not quite) blown out to sea from the same accursed
locality, than I have read of practised thieves with the appearance
and manners of gentlemen--a popular phenomenon which never existed
on earth out of fiction and a police report. Again: I wonder why
people are always blown into the Surrey Canal, and into no other
piece of water! Why do people get up early and go out in groups,
to be blown into the Surrey Canal? Do they say to one another,
'Welcome death, so that we get into the newspapers'? Even that
would be an insufficient explanation, because even then they might
sometimes put themselves in the way of being blown into the
Regent's Canal, instead of always saddling Surrey for the field.
Some nameless policeman, too, is constantly, on the slightest
provocation, getting himself blown into this same Surrey Canal.
Will SIR RICHARD MAYNE see to it, and restrain that weak-minded and
feeble-bodied constable?

To resume the consideration of the curious question of Refreshment.
I am a Briton, and, as such, I am aware that I never will be a
slave--and yet I have latent suspicion that there must be some
slavery of wrong custom in this matter.

I travel by railroad. I start from home at seven or eight in the
morning, after breakfasting hurriedly. What with skimming over the
open landscape, what with mining in the damp bowels of the earth,
what with banging, booming and shrieking the scores of miles away,
I am hungry when I arrive at the 'Refreshment' station where I am
expected. Please to observe, expected. I have said, I am hungry;
perhaps I might say, with greater point and force, that I am to
some extent exhausted, and that I need--in the expressive French
sense of the word--to be restored. What is provided for my
restoration? The apartment that is to restore me is a wind-trap,
cunningly set to inveigle all the draughts in that country-side,
and to communicate a special intensity and velocity to them as they
rotate in two hurricanes: one, about my wretched head: one, about
my wretched legs. The training of the young ladies behind the
counter who are to restore me, has been from their infancy directed
to the assumption of a defiant dramatic show that I am NOT
expected. It is in vain for me to represent to them by my humble
and conciliatory manners, that I wish to be liberal. It is in vain
for me to represent to myself, for the encouragement of my sinking
soul, that the young ladies have a pecuniary interest in my
arrival. Neither my reason nor my feelings can make head against
the cold glazed glare of eye with which I am assured that I am not
expected, and not wanted. The solitary man among the bottles would
sometimes take pity on me, if he dared, but he is powerless against
the rights and mights of Woman. (Of the page I make no account,
for, he is a boy, and therefore the natural enemy of Creation.)
Chilling fast, in the deadly tornadoes to which my upper and lower
extremities are exposed, and subdued by the moral disadvantage at
which I stand, I turn my disconsolate eyes on the refreshments that
are to restore me. I find that I must either scald my throat by
insanely ladling into it, against time and for no wager, brown hot
water stiffened with flour; or I must make myself flaky and sick
with Banbury cake; or, I must stuff into my delicate organisation,
a currant pincushion which I know will swell into immeasurable
dimensions when it has got there; or, I must extort from an iron-
bound quarry, with a fork, as if I were farming an inhospitable
soil, some glutinous lumps of gristle and grease, called pork-pie.
While thus forlornly occupied, I find that the depressing banquet
on the table is, in every phase of its profoundly unsatisfactory
character, so like the banquet at the meanest and shabbiest of
evening parties, that I begin to think I must have 'brought down'
to supper, the old lady unknown, blue with cold, who is setting her
teeth on edge with a cool orange at my elbow--that the pastrycook
who has compounded for the company on the lowest terms per head, is
a fraudulent bankrupt, redeeming his contract with the stale stock
from his window--that, for some unexplained reason, the family
giving the party have become my mortal foes, and have given it on
purpose to affront me. Or, I fancy that I am 'breaking up' again,
at the evening conversazione at school, charged two-and-sixpence in
the half-year's bill; or breaking down again at that celebrated
evening party given at Mrs. Bogles's boarding-house when I was a
boarder there, on which occasion Mrs. Bogles was taken in execution
by a branch of the legal profession who got in as the harp, and was
removed (with the keys and subscribed capital) to a place of
durance, half an hour prior to the commencement of the festivities.

Take another case.

Mr. Grazinglands, of the Midland Counties, came to London by
railroad one morning last week, accompanied by the amiable and
fascinating Mrs. Grazinglands. Mr. G. is a gentleman of a
comfortable property, and had a little business to transact at the
Bank of England, which required the concurrence and signature of
Mrs. G. Their business disposed of, Mr. and Mrs. Grazinglands
viewed the Royal Exchange, and the exterior of St. Paul's
Cathedral. The spirits of Mrs. Grazinglands then gradually
beginning to flag, Mr. Grazinglands (who is the tenderest of
husbands) remarked with sympathy, 'Arabella', my dear, 'fear you
are faint.' Mrs. Grazing-lands replied, 'Alexander, I am rather
faint; but don't mind me, I shall be better presently.' Touched by
the feminine meekness of this answer, Mr. Grazinglands looked in at
a pastrycook's window, hesitating as to the expediency of lunching
at that establishment. He beheld nothing to eat, but butter in
various forms, slightly charged with jam, and languidly frizzling
over tepid water. Two ancient turtle-shells, on which was
inscribed the legend, 'SOUPS,' decorated a glass partition within,
enclosing a stuffy alcove, from which a ghastly mockery of a
marriage-breakfast spread on a rickety table, warned the terrified
traveller. An oblong box of stale and broken pastry at reduced
prices, mounted on a stool, ornamented the doorway; and two high
chairs that looked as if they were performing on stilts,
embellished the counter. Over the whole, a young lady presided,
whose gloomy haughtiness as she surveyed the street, announced a
deep-seated grievance against society, and an implacable
determination to be avenged. From a beetle-haunted kitchen below
this institution, fumes arose, suggestive of a class of soup which
Mr. Grazinglands knew, from painful experience, enfeebles the mind,
distends the stomach, forces itself into the complexion, and tries
to ooze out at the eyes. As he decided against entering, and
turned away, Mrs. Grazinglands becoming perceptibly weaker,
repeated, 'I am rather faint, Alexander, but don't mind me.' Urged
to new efforts by these words of resignation, Mr. Grazinglands
looked in at a cold and floury baker's shop, where utilitarian buns
unrelieved by a currant, consorted with hard biscuits, a stone
filter of cold water, a hard pale clock, and a hard little old
woman with flaxen hair, of an undeveloped-farinaceous aspect, as if
she had been fed upon seeds. He might have entered even here, but
for the timely remembrance coming upon him that Jairing's was but
round the corner.

Now, Jairing's being an hotel for families and gentlemen, in high
repute among the midland counties, Mr. Grazinglands plucked up a
great spirit when he told Mrs. Grazinglands she should have a chop
there. That lady, likewise felt that she was going to see Life.
Arriving on that gay and festive scene, they found the second
waiter, in a flabby undress, cleaning the windows of the empty
coffee-room; and the first waiter, denuded of his white tie, making
up his cruets behind the Post-Office Directory. The latter (who
took them in hand) was greatly put out by their patronage, and
showed his mind to be troubled by a sense of the pressing necessity
of instantly smuggling Mrs. Grazinglands into the obscurest corner
of the building. This slighted lady (who is the pride of her
division of the county) was immediately conveyed, by several dark
passages, and up and down several steps, into a penitential
apartment at the back of the house, where five invalided old plate-
warmers leaned up against one another under a discarded old
melancholy sideboard, and where the wintry leaves of all the
dining-tables in the house lay thick. Also, a sofa, of
incomprehensible form regarded from any sofane point of view,
murmured 'Bed;' while an air of mingled fluffiness and heeltaps,
added, 'Second Waiter's.' Secreted in this dismal hold, objects of
a mysterious distrust and suspicion, Mr. Grazinglands and his
charming partner waited twenty minutes for the smoke (for it never
came to a fire), twenty-five minutes for the sherry, half an hour
for the tablecloth, forty minutes for the knives and forks, three-
quarters of an hour for the chops, and an hour for the potatoes.
On settling the little bill--which was not much more than the day's
pay of a Lieutenant in the navy--Mr. Grazinglands took heart to
remonstrate against the general quality and cost of his reception.
To whom the waiter replied, substantially, that Jairing's made it a
merit to have accepted him on any terms: 'for,' added the waiter
(unmistakably coughing at Mrs. Grazinglands, the pride of her
division of the county), 'when indiwiduals is not staying in the
'Ouse, their favours is not as a rule looked upon as making it
worth Mr. Jairing's while; nor is it, indeed, a style of business
Mr. Jairing wishes.' Finally, Mr. and Mrs. Grazinglands passed out
of Jairing's hotel for Families and Gentlemen, in a state of the
greatest depression, scorned by the bar; and did not recover their
self-respect for several days.

Or take another case. Take your own case.

You are going off by railway, from any Terminus. You have twenty
minutes for dinner, before you go. You want your dinner, and like
Dr. Johnson, Sir, you like to dine. You present to your mind, a
picture of the refreshment-table at that terminus. The
conventional shabby evening-party supper--accepted as the model for
all termini and all refreshment stations, because it is the last
repast known to this state of existence of which any human creature
would partake, but in the direst extremity--sickens your
contemplation, and your words are these: 'I cannot dine on stale
sponge-cakes that turn to sand in the mouth. I cannot dine on
shining brown patties, composed of unknown animals within, and
offering to my view the device of an indigestible star-fish in
leaden pie-crust without. I cannot dine on a sandwich that has
long been pining under an exhausted receiver. I cannot dine on
barley-sugar. I cannot dine on Toffee.' You repair to the nearest
hotel, and arrive, agitated, in the coffee-room.

It is a most astonishing fact that the waiter is very cold to you.
Account for it how you may, smooth it over how you will, you cannot
deny that he is cold to you. He is not glad to see you, he does
not want you, he would much rather you hadn't come. He opposes to
your flushed condition, an immovable composure. As if this were
not enough, another waiter, born, as it would seem, expressly to
look at you in this passage of your life, stands at a little
distance, with his napkin under his arm and his hands folded,
looking at you with all his might. You impress on your waiter that
you have ten minutes for dinner, and he proposes that you shall
begin with a bit of fish which will be ready in twenty. That
proposal declined, he suggests--as a neat originality--'a weal or
mutton cutlet.' You close with either cutlet, any cutlet,
anything. He goes, leisurely, behind a door and calls down some
unseen shaft. A ventriloquial dialogue ensues, tending finally to
the effect that weal only, is available on the spur of the moment.
You anxiously call out, 'Veal, then!' Your waiter having settled
that point, returns to array your tablecloth, with a table napkin
folded cocked-hat-wise (slowly, for something out of window engages
his eye), a white wine-glass, a green wine-glass, a blue finger-
glass, a tumbler, and a powerful field battery of fourteen casters
with nothing in them; or at all events--which is enough for your
purpose--with nothing in them that will come out. All this time,
the other waiter looks at you--with an air of mental comparison and
curiosity, now, as if it had occurred to him that you are rather
like his brother. Half your time gone, and nothing come but the
jug of ale and the bread, you implore your waiter to 'see after
that cutlet, waiter; pray do!' He cannot go at once, for he is
carrying in seventeen pounds of American cheese for you to finish
with, and a small Landed Estate of celery and water-cresses. The
other waiter changes his leg, and takes a new view of you,
doubtfully, now, as if he had rejected the resemblance to his
brother, and had begun to think you more like his aunt or his
grandmother. Again you beseech your waiter with pathetic
indignation, to 'see after that cutlet!' He steps out to see after
it, and by-and-by, when you are going away without it, comes back
with it. Even then, he will not take the sham silver cover off,
without a pause for a flourish, and a look at the musty cutlet as
if he were surprised to see it--which cannot possibly be the case,
he must have seen it so often before. A sort of fur has been
produced upon its surface by the cook's art, and in a sham silver
vessel staggering on two feet instead of three, is a cutaneous kind
of sauce of brown pimples and pickled cucumber. You order the
bill, but your waiter cannot bring your bill yet, because he is
bringing, instead, three flinty-hearted potatoes and two grim head
of broccoli, like the occasional ornaments on area railings, badly
boiled. You know that you will never come to this pass, any more
than to the cheese and celery, and you imperatively demand your
bill; but, it takes time to get, even when gone for, because your
waiter has to communicate with a lady who lives behind a sash-
window in a corner, and who appears to have to refer to several
Ledgers before she can make it out--as if you had been staying
there a year. You become distracted to get away, and the other
waiter, once more changing his leg, still looks at you--but
suspiciously, now, as if you had begun to remind him of the party
who took the great-coats last winter. Your bill at last brought
and paid, at the rate of sixpence a mouthful, your waiter
reproachfully reminds you that 'attendance is not charged for a
single meal,' and you have to search in all your pockets for
sixpence more. He has a worse opinion of you than ever, when you
have given it to him, and lets you out into the street with the air
of one saying to himself, as you cannot again doubt he is, 'I hope
we shall never see YOU here again!'

Or, take any other of the numerous travelling instances in which,
with more time at your disposal, you are, have been, or may be,
equally ill served. Take the old-established Bull's Head with its
old-established knife-boxes on its old-established sideboards, its
old-established flue under its old-established four-post bedsteads
in its old-established airless rooms, its old-established
frouziness up-stairs and down-stairs, its old-established cookery,
and its old-established principles of plunder. Count up your
injuries, in its side-dishes of ailing sweetbreads in white
poultices, of apothecaries' powders in rice for curry, of pale
stewed bits of calf ineffectually relying for an adventitious
interest on forcemeat balls. You have had experience of the old-
established Bull's Head stringy fowls, with lower extremities like
wooden legs, sticking up out of the dish; of its cannibalic boiled
mutton, gushing horribly among its capers, when carved; of its
little dishes of pastry--roofs of spermaceti ointment, erected over
half an apple or four gooseberries. Well for you if you have yet
forgotten the old-established Bull's Head fruity port: whose
reputation was gained solely by the old-established price the
Bull's Head put upon it, and by the old-established air with which
the Bull's Head set the glasses and D'Oyleys on, and held that
Liquid Gout to the three-and-sixpenny wax-candle, as if its old-
established colour hadn't come from the dyer's.

Or lastly, take to finish with, two cases that we all know, every

We all know the new hotel near the station, where it is always
gusty, going up the lane which is always muddy, where we are sure
to arrive at night, and where we make the gas start awfully when we
open the front door. We all know the flooring of the passages and
staircases that is too new, and the walls that are too new, and the
house that is haunted by the ghost of mortar. We all know the
doors that have cracked, and the cracked shutters through which we
get a glimpse of the disconsolate moon. We all know the new
people, who have come to keep the new hotel, and who wish they had
never come, and who (inevitable result) wish WE had never come. We
all know how much too scant and smooth and bright the new furniture
is, and how it has never settled down, and cannot fit itself into
right places, and will get into wrong places. We all know how the
gas, being lighted, shows maps of Damp upon the walls. We all know
how the ghost of mortar passes into our sandwich, stirs our negus,
goes up to bed with us, ascends the pale bedroom chimney, and
prevents the smoke from following. We all know how a leg of our
chair comes off at breakfast in the morning, and how the dejected
waiter attributes the accident to a general greenness pervading the
establishment, and informs us, in reply to a local inquiry, that he
is thankful to say he is an entire stranger in that part of the
country and is going back to his own connexion on Saturday.

We all know, on the other hand, the great station hotel belonging
to the company of proprietors, which has suddenly sprung up in the
back outskirts of any place we like to name, and where we look out
of our palatial windows at little back yards and gardens, old
summer-houses, fowl-houses, pigeon-traps, and pigsties. We all
know this hotel in which we can get anything we want, after its
kind, for money; but where nobody is glad to see us, or sorry to
see us, or minds (our bill paid) whether we come or go, or how, or
when, or why, or cares about us. We all know this hotel, where we
have no individuality, but put ourselves into the general post, as
it were, and are sorted and disposed of according to our division.
We all know that we can get on very well indeed at such a place,
but still not perfectly well; and this may be, because the place is
largely wholesale, and there is a lingering personal retail
interest within us that asks to be satisfied.

To sum up. My uncommercial travelling has not yet brought me to
the conclusion that we are close to perfection in these matters.
And just as I do not believe that the end of the world will ever be
near at hand, so long as any of the very tiresome and arrogant
people who constantly predict that catastrophe are left in it, so,
I shall have small faith in the Hotel Millennium, while any of the
uncomfortable superstitions I have glanced at remain in existence.


I got into the travelling chariot--it was of German make, roomy,
heavy, and unvarnished--I got into the travelling chariot, pulled
up the steps after me, shut myself in with a smart bang of the
door, and gave the word, 'Go on!'

Immediately, all that W. and S.W. division of London began to slide
away at a pace so lively, that I was over the river, and past the
Old Kent Road, and out on Blackheath, and even ascending Shooter's
Hill, before I had had time to look about me in the carriage, like
a collected traveller.

I had two ample Imperials on the roof, other fitted storage for
luggage in front, and other up behind; I had a net for books
overhead, great pockets to all the windows, a leathern pouch or two
hung up for odds and ends, and a reading lamp fixed in the back of
the chariot, in case I should be benighted. I was amply provided
in all respects, and had no idea where I was going (which was
delightful), except that I was going abroad.

So smooth was the old high road, and so fresh were the horses, and
so fast went I, that it was midway between Gravesend and Rochester,
and the widening river was bearing the ships, white sailed or
black-smoked, out to sea, when I noticed by the wayside a very
queer small boy.

'Holloa!' said I, to the very queer small boy, 'where do you live?'

'At Chatham,' says he.

'What do you do there?' says I.

'I go to school,' says he.

I took him up in a moment, and we went on. Presently, the very
queer small boy says, 'This is Gads-hill we are coming to, where
Falstaff went out to rob those travellers, and ran away.'

'You know something about Falstaff, eh?' said I.

'All about him,' said the very queer small boy. 'I am old (I am
nine), and I read all sorts of books. But DO let us stop at the
top of the hill, and look at the house there, if you please!'

'You admire that house?' said I.

'Bless you, sir,' said the very queer small boy, 'when I was not
more than half as old as nine, it used to be a treat for me to be
brought to look at it. And now, I am nine, I come by myself to
look at it. And ever since I can recollect, my father, seeing me
so fond of it, has often said to me, "If you were to be very
persevering and were to work hard, you might some day come to live
in it." Though that's impossible!' said the very queer small boy,
drawing a low breath, and now staring at the house out of window
with all his might.

I was rather amazed to be told this by the very queer small boy;
for that house happens to be MY house, and I have reason to believe
that what he said was true.

Well! I made no halt there, and I soon dropped the very queer
small boy and went on. Over the road where the old Romans used to
march, over the road where the old Canterbury pilgrims used to go,
over the road where the travelling trains of the old imperious
priests and princes used to jingle on horseback between the
continent and this Island through the mud and water, over the road
where Shakespeare hummed to himself, 'Blow, blow, thou winter
wind,' as he sat in the saddle at the gate of the inn yard noticing
the carriers; all among the cherry orchards, apple orchards, corn-
fields, and hop-gardens; so went I, by Canterbury to Dover. There,
the sea was tumbling in, with deep sounds, after dark, and the
revolving French light on Cape Grinez was seen regularly bursting
out and becoming obscured, as if the head of a gigantic light-
keeper in an anxious state of mind were interposed every half-
minute, to look how it was burning.

Early in the morning I was on the deck of the steam-packet, and we
were aiming at the bar in the usual intolerable manner, and the bar
was aiming at us in the usual intolerable manner, and the bar got
by far the best of it, and we got by far the worst--all in the
usual intolerable manner.

But, when I was clear of the Custom House on the other side, and
when I began to make the dust fly on the thirsty French roads, and
when the twigsome trees by the wayside (which, I suppose, never
will grow leafy, for they never did) guarded here and there a dusty
soldier, or field labourer, baking on a heap of broken stones,
sound asleep in a fiction of shade, I began to recover my
travelling spirits. Coming upon the breaker of the broken stones,
in a hard, hot, shining hat, on which the sun played at a distance
as on a burning-glass, I felt that now, indeed, I was in the dear
old France of my affections. I should have known it, without the
well-remembered bottle of rough ordinary wine, the cold roast fowl,
the loaf, and the pinch of salt, on which I lunched with
unspeakable satisfaction, from one of the stuffed pockets of the

I must have fallen asleep after lunch, for when a bright face
looked in at the window, I started, and said:

'Good God, Louis, I dreamed you were dead!'

My cheerful servant laughed, and answered:

'Me? Not at all, sir.'

'How glad I am to wake! What are we doing Louis?'

'We go to take relay of horses. Will you walk up the hill?'


Welcome the old French hill, with the old French lunatic (not in
the most distant degree related to Sterne's Maria) living in a
thatched dog-kennel half-way up, and flying out with his crutch and
his big head and extended nightcap, to be beforehand with the old
men and women exhibiting crippled children, and with the children
exhibiting old men and women, ugly and blind, who always seemed by
resurrectionary process to be recalled out of the elements for the
sudden peopling of the solitude!

'It is well,' said I, scattering among them what small coin I had;
'here comes Louis, and I am quite roused from my nap.'

We journeyed on again, and I welcomed every new assurance that
France stood where I had left it. There were the posting-houses,
with their archways, dirty stable-yards, and clean post-masters'
wives, bright women of business, looking on at the putting-to of
the horses; there were the postilions counting what money they got,
into their hats, and never making enough of it; there were the
standard population of grey horses of Flanders descent, invariably
biting one another when they got a chance; there were the fleecy
sheepskins, looped on over their uniforms by the postilions, like
bibbed aprons when it blew and rained; there were their Jack-boots,
and their cracking whips; there were the cathedrals that I got out
to see, as under some cruel bondage, in no wise desiring to see
them; there were the little towns that appeared to have no reason
for being towns, since most of their houses were to let and nobody
could be induced to look at them, except the people who couldn't
let them and had nothing else to do but look at them all day. I
lay a night upon the road and enjoyed delectable cookery of
potatoes, and some other sensible things, adoption of which at home
would inevitably be shown to be fraught with ruin, somehow or
other, to that rickety national blessing, the British farmer; and
at last I was rattled, like a single pill in a box, over leagues of
stones, until--madly cracking, plunging, and flourishing two grey
tails about--I made my triumphal entry into Paris.

At Paris, I took an upper apartment for a few days in one of the
hotels of the Rue de Rivoli; my front windows looking into the
garden of the Tuileries (where the principal difference between the
nursemaids and the flowers seemed to be that the former were
locomotive and the latter not): my back windows looking at all the
other back windows in the hotel, and deep down into a paved yard,
where my German chariot had retired under a tight-fitting archway,
to all appearance for life, and where bells rang all day without
anybody's minding them but certain chamberlains with feather brooms
and green baize caps, who here and there leaned out of some high
window placidly looking down, and where neat waiters with trays on
their left shoulders passed and repassed from morning to night.

Whenever I am at Paris, I am dragged by invisible force into the
Morgue. I never want to go there, but am always pulled there. One
Christmas Day, when I would rather have been anywhere else, I was
attracted in, to see an old grey man lying all alone on his cold
bed, with a tap of water turned on over his grey hair, and running,
drip, drip, drip, down his wretched face until it got to the corner
of his mouth, where it took a turn, and made him look sly. One New
Year's Morning (by the same token, the sun was shining outside, and
there was a mountebank balancing a feather on his nose, within a
yard of the gate), I was pulled in again to look at a flaxen-haired
boy of eighteen, with a heart hanging on his breast--'from his
mother,' was engraven on it--who had come into the net across the
river, with a bullet wound in his fair forehead and his hands cut
with a knife, but whence or how was a blank mystery. This time, I
was forced into the same dread place, to see a large dark man whose
disfigurement by water was in a frightful manner comic, and whose
expression was that of a prize-fighter who had closed his eyelids
under a heavy blow, but was going immediately to open them, shake
his head, and 'come up smiling.' Oh what this large dark man cost
me in that bright city!

It was very hot weather, and he was none the better for that, and I
was much the worse. Indeed, a very neat and pleasant little woman
with the key of her lodging on her forefinger, who had been showing
him to her little girl while she and the child ate sweetmeats,
observed monsieur looking poorly as we came out together, and asked
monsieur, with her wondering little eyebrows prettily raised, if
there were anything the matter? Faintly replying in the negative,
monsieur crossed the road to a wine-shop, got some brandy, and
resolved to freshen himself with a dip in the great floating bath
on the river.

The bath was crowded in the usual airy manner, by a male population
in striped drawers of various gay colours, who walked up and down
arm in arm, drank coffee, smoked cigars, sat at little tables,
conversed politely with the damsels who dispensed the towels, and
every now and then pitched themselves into the river head foremost,
and came out again to repeat this social routine. I made haste to
participate in the water part of the entertainments, and was in the
full enjoyment of a delightful bath, when all in a moment I was
seized with an unreasonable idea that the large dark body was
floating straight at me.

I was out of the river, and dressing instantly. In the shock I had
taken some water into my mouth, and it turned me sick, for I
fancied that the contamination of the creature was in it. I had
got back to my cool darkened room in the hotel, and was lying on a
sofa there, before I began to reason with myself.

Of course, I knew perfectly well that the large dark creature was
stone dead, and that I should no more come upon him out of the
place where I had seen him dead, than I should come upon the
cathedral of Notre-Dame in an entirely new situation. What
troubled me was the picture of the creature; and that had so
curiously and strongly painted itself upon my brain, that I could
not get rid of it until it was worn out.

I noticed the peculiarities of this possession, while it was a real
discomfort to me. That very day, at dinner, some morsel on my
plate looked like a piece of him, and I was glad to get up and go
out. Later in the evening, I was walking along the Rue St. Honore,
when I saw a bill at a public room there, announcing small-sword
exercise, broad-sword exercise, wrestling, and other such feats. I
went in, and some of the sword-play being very skilful, remained.
A specimen of our own national sport, The British Boaxe, was
announced to be given at the close of the evening. In an evil
hour, I determined to wait for this Boaxe, as became a Briton. It
was a clumsy specimen (executed by two English grooms out of
place), but one of the combatants, receiving a straight right-
hander with the glove between his eyes, did exactly what the large
dark creature in the Morgue had seemed going to do--and finished me
for that night.

There was rather a sickly smell (not at all an unusual fragrance in
Paris) in the little ante-room of my apartment at the hotel. The
large dark creature in the Morgue was by no direct experience
associated with my sense of smell, because, when I came to the
knowledge of him, he lay behind a wall of thick plate-glass as good
as a wall of steel or marble for that matter. Yet the whiff of the
room never failed to reproduce him. What was more curious, was the
capriciousness with which his portrait seemed to light itself up in
my mind, elsewhere. I might be walking in the Palais Royal, lazily
enjoying the shop windows, and might be regaling myself with one of
the ready-made clothes shops that are set out there. My eyes,
wandering over impossible-waisted dressing-gowns and luminous
waistcoats, would fall upon the master, or the shopman, or even the
very dummy at the door, and would suggest to me, 'Something like
him!'--and instantly I was sickened again.

This would happen at the theatre, in the same manner. Often it
would happen in the street, when I certainly was not looking for
the likeness, and when probably there was no likeness there. It
was not because the creature was dead that I was so haunted,
because I know that I might have been (and I know it because I have
been) equally attended by the image of a living aversion. This
lasted about a week. The picture did not fade by degrees, in the
sense that it became a whit less forcible and distinct, but in the
sense that it obtruded itself less and less frequently. The
experience may be worth considering by some who have the care of
children. It would be difficult to overstate the intensity and
accuracy of an intelligent child's observation. At that
impressible time of life, it must sometimes produce a fixed
impression. If the fixed impression be of an object terrible to
the child, it will be (for want of reasoning upon) inseparable from
great fear. Force the child at such a time, be Spartan with it,
send it into the dark against its will, leave it in a lonely
bedroom against its will, and you had better murder it.

On a bright morning I rattled away from Paris, in the German
chariot, and left the large dark creature behind me for good. I
ought to confess, though, that I had been drawn back to the Morgue,
after he was put underground, to look at his clothes, and that I
found them frightfully like him--particularly his boots. However,
I rattled away for Switzerland, looking forward and not backward,
and so we parted company.

Welcome again, the long, long spell of France, with the queer
country inns, full of vases of flowers and clocks, in the dull
little town, and with the little population not at all dull on the
little Boulevard in the evening, under the little trees! Welcome
Monsieur the Cure, walking alone in the early morning a short way
out of the town, reading that eternal Breviary of yours, which
surely might be almost read, without book, by this time! Welcome
Monsieur the Cure, later in the day, jolting through the highway
dust (as if you had already ascended to the cloudy region), in a
very big-headed cabriolet, with the dried mud of a dozen winters on
it. Welcome again Monsieur the Cure, as we exchange salutations;
you, straightening your back to look at the German chariot, while
picking in your little village garden a vegetable or two for the
day's soup: I, looking out of the German chariot window in that
delicious traveller's trance which knows no cares, no yesterdays,
no to-morrows, nothing but the passing objects and the passing
scents and sounds! And so I came, in due course of delight, to
Strasbourg, where I passed a wet Sunday evening at a window, while
an idle trifle of a vaudeville was played for me at the opposite

How such a large house came to have only three people living in it,
was its own affair. There were at least a score of windows in its
high roof alone; how many in its grotesque front, I soon gave up
counting. The owner was a shopkeeper, by name Straudenheim; by
trade--I couldn't make out what by trade, for he had forborne to
write that up, and his shop was shut.

At first, as I looked at Straudenheim's, through the steadily
falling rain, I set him up in business in the goose-liver line.
But, inspection of Straudenheim, who became visible at a window on
the second floor, convinced me that there was something more
precious than liver in the case. He wore a black velvet skull-cap,
and looked usurious and rich. A large-lipped, pear-nosed old man,
with white hair, and keen eyes, though near-sighted. He was
writing at a desk, was Straudenheim, and ever and again left off
writing, put his pen in his mouth, and went through actions with
his right hand, like a man steadying piles of cash. Five-franc
pieces, Straudenheim, or golden Napoleons? A jeweller,
Straudenheim, a dealer in money, a diamond merchant, or what?

Below Straudenheim, at a window on the first floor, sat his
housekeeper--far from young, but of a comely presence, suggestive
of a well-matured foot and ankle. She was cheerily dressed, had a
fan in her hand, and wore large gold earrings and a large gold
cross. She would have been out holiday-making (as I settled it)
but for the pestilent rain. Strasbourg had given up holiday-making
for that once, as a bad job, because the rain was jerking in gushes
out of the old roof-spouts, and running in a brook down the middle
of the street. The housekeeper, her arms folded on her bosom and
her fan tapping her chin, was bright and smiling at her open
window, but otherwise Straudenheim's house front was very dreary.
The housekeeper's was the only open window in it; Straudenheim kept
himself close, though it was a sultry evening when air is pleasant,
and though the rain had brought into the town that vague refreshing
smell of grass which rain does bring in the summer-time.

The dim appearance of a man at Straudenheim's shoulder, inspired me
with a misgiving that somebody had come to murder that flourishing
merchant for the wealth with which I had handsomely endowed him:
the rather, as it was an excited man, lean and long of figure, and
evidently stealthy of foot. But, he conferred with Straudenheim
instead of doing him a mortal injury, and then they both softly
opened the other window of that room--which was immediately over
the housekeeper's--and tried to see her by looking down. And my
opinion of Straudenheim was much lowered when I saw that eminent
citizen spit out of window, clearly with the hope of spitting on
the housekeeper.

The unconscious housekeeper fanned herself, tossed her head, and
laughed. Though unconscious of Straudenheim, she was conscious of
somebody else--of me?--there was nobody else.

After leaning so far out of the window, that I confidently expected
to see their heels tilt up, Straudenheim and the lean man drew
their heads in and shut the window. Presently, the house door
secretly opened, and they slowly and spitefully crept forth into
the pouring rain. They were coming over to me (I thought) to
demand satisfaction for my looking at the housekeeper, when they
plunged into a recess in the architecture under my window and
dragged out the puniest of little soldiers, begirt with the most
innocent of little swords. The tall glazed head-dress of this
warrior, Straudenheim instantly knocked off, and out of it fell two
sugar-sticks, and three or four large lumps of sugar.

The warrior made no effort to recover his property or to pick up
his shako, but looked with an expression of attention at
Straudenheim when he kicked him five times, and also at the lean
man when HE kicked him five times, and again at Straudenheim when
he tore the breast of his (the warrior's) little coat open, and
shook all his ten fingers in his face, as if they were ten
thousand. When these outrages had been committed, Straudenheim and
his man went into the house again and barred the door. A wonderful
circumstance was, that the housekeeper who saw it all (and who
could have taken six such warriors to her buxom bosom at once),
only fanned herself and laughed as she had laughed before, and
seemed to have no opinion about it, one way or other.

But, the chief effect of the drama was the remarkable vengeance
taken by the little warrior. Left alone in the rain, he picked up
his shako; put it on, all wet and dirty as it was; retired into a
court, of which Straudenheim's house formed the corner; wheeled
about; and bringing his two forefingers close to the top of his
nose, rubbed them over one another, cross-wise, in derision,
defiance, and contempt of Straudenheim. Although Straudenheim
could not possibly be supposed to be conscious of this strange
proceeding, it so inflated and comforted the little warrior's soul,
that twice he went away, and twice came back into the court to
repeat it, as though it must goad his enemy to madness. Not only
that, but he afterwards came back with two other small warriors,
and they all three did it together. Not only that--as I live to
tell the tale!--but just as it was falling quite dark, the three
came back, bringing with them a huge bearded Sapper, whom they
moved, by recital of the original wrong, to go through the same
performance, with the same complete absence of all possible
knowledge of it on the part of Straudenheim. And then they all
went away, arm in arm, singing.

I went away too, in the German chariot at sunrise, and rattled on,
day after day, like one in a sweet dream; with so many clear little
bells on the harness of the horses, that the nursery rhyme about
Banbury Cross and the venerable lady who rode in state there, was
always in my ears. And now I came to the land of wooden houses,
innocent cakes, thin butter soup, and spotless little inn bedrooms
with a family likeness to Dairies. And now the Swiss marksmen were
for ever rifle-shooting at marks across gorges, so exceedingly near
my ear, that I felt like a new Gesler in a Canton of Tells, and
went in highly-deserved danger of my tyrannical life. The prizes
at these shootings, were watches, smart handkerchiefs, hats,
spoons, and (above all) tea-trays; and at these contests I came
upon a more than usually accomplished and amiable countryman of my
own, who had shot himself deaf in whole years of competition, and
had won so many tea-trays that he went about the country with his
carriage full of them, like a glorified Cheap-Jack.

In the mountain-country into which I had now travelled, a yoke of
oxen were sometimes hooked on before the post-horses, and I went
lumbering up, up, up, through mist and rain, with the roar of
falling water for change of music. Of a sudden, mist and rain
would clear away, and I would come down into picturesque little
towns with gleaming spires and odd towers; and would stroll afoot
into market-places in steep winding streets, where a hundred women
in bodices, sold eggs and honey, butter and fruit, and suckled
their children as they sat by their clean baskets, and had such
enormous goitres (or glandular swellings in the throat) that it
became a science to know where the nurse ended and the child began.
About this time, I deserted my German chariot for the back of a
mule (in colour and consistency so very like a dusty old hair trunk
I once had at school, that I half expected to see my initials in
brass-headed nails on his backbone), and went up a thousand rugged
ways, and looked down at a thousand woods of fir and pine, and
would on the whole have preferred my mule's keeping a little nearer
to the inside, and not usually travelling with a hoof or two over
the precipice--though much consoled by explanation that this was to
be attributed to his great sagacity, by reason of his carrying
broad loads of wood at other times, and not being clear but that I
myself belonged to that station of life, and required as much room
as they. He brought me safely, in his own wise way, among the
passes of the Alps, and here I enjoyed a dozen climates a day;
being now (like Don Quixote on the back of the wooden horse) in the
region of wind, now in the region of fire, now in the region of
unmelting ice and snow. Here, I passed over trembling domes of
ice, beneath which the cataract was roaring; and here was received
under arches of icicles, of unspeakable beauty; and here the sweet
air was so bracing and so light, that at halting-times I rolled in
the snow when I saw my mule do it, thinking that he must know best.
At this part of the journey we would come, at mid-day, into half an
hour's thaw: when the rough mountain inn would be found on an
island of deep mud in a sea of snow, while the baiting strings of
mules, and the carts full of casks and bales, which had been in an
Arctic condition a mile off, would steam again. By such ways and
means, I would come to the cluster of chalets where I had to turn
out of the track to see the waterfall; and then, uttering a howl
like a young giant, on espying a traveller--in other words,
something to eat--coming up the steep, the idiot lying on the wood-
pile who sunned himself and nursed his goitre, would rouse the
woman-guide within the hut, who would stream out hastily, throwing
her child over one of her shoulders and her goitre over the other,
as she came along. I slept at religious houses, and bleak refuges
of many kinds, on this journey, and by the stove at night heard
stories of travellers who had perished within call, in wreaths and
drifts of snow. One night the stove within, and the cold outside,
awakened childish associations long forgotten, and I dreamed I was
in Russia--the identical serf out of a picture-book I had, before I
could read it for myself--and that I was going to be knouted by a
noble personage in a fur cap, boots, and earrings, who, I think,
must have come out of some melodrama.

Commend me to the beautiful waters among these mountains! Though I
was not of their mind: they, being inveterately bent on getting
down into the level country, and I ardently desiring to linger
where I was. What desperate leaps they took, what dark abysses
they plunged into, what rocks they wore away, what echoes they
invoked! In one part where I went, they were pressed into the
service of carrying wood down, to be burnt next winter, as costly
fuel, in Italy. But, their fierce savage nature was not to be
easily constrained, and they fought with every limb of the wood;
whirling it round and round, stripping its bark away, dashing it
against pointed corners, driving it out of the course, and roaring
and flying at the peasants who steered it back again from the bank
with long stout poles. Alas! concurrent streams of time and water
carried ME down fast, and I came, on an exquisitely clear day, to
the Lausanne shore of the Lake of Geneva, where I stood looking at
the bright blue water, the flushed white mountains opposite, and
the boats at my feet with their furled Mediterranean sails, showing
like enormous magnifications of this goose-quill pen that is now in
my hand.

- The sky became overcast without any notice; a wind very like the
March east wind of England, blew across me; and a voice said, 'How
do you like it? Will it do?'

I had merely shut myself, for half a minute, in a German travelling
chariot that stood for sale in the Carriage Department of the
London Pantechnicon. I had a commission to buy it, for a friend
who was going abroad; and the look and manner of the chariot, as I
tried the cushions and the springs, brought all these hints of
travelling remembrance before me.

'It will do very well,' said I, rather sorrowfully, as I got out at
the other door, and shut the carriage up.


I travel constantly, up and down a certain line of railway that has
a terminus in London. It is the railway for a large military
depot, and for other large barracks. To the best of my serious
belief, I have never been on that railway by daylight, without
seeing some handcuffed deserters in the train.

It is in the nature of things that such an institution as our
English army should have many bad and troublesome characters in it.
But, this is a reason for, and not against, its being made as
acceptable as possible to well-disposed men of decent behaviour.
Such men are assuredly not tempted into the ranks, by the beastly
inversion of natural laws, and the compulsion to live in worse than
swinish foulness. Accordingly, when any such Circumlocutional
embellishments of the soldier's condition have of late been brought
to notice, we civilians, seated in outer darkness cheerfully
meditating on an Income Tax, have considered the matter as being
our business, and have shown a tendency to declare that we would
rather not have it misregulated, if such declaration may, without
violence to the Church Catechism, be hinted to those who are put in
authority over us.

Any animated description of a modern battle, any private soldier's
letter published in the newspapers, any page of the records of the
Victoria Cross, will show that in the ranks of the army, there
exists under all disadvantages as fine a sense of duty as is to be
found in any station on earth. Who doubts that if we all did our
duty as faithfully as the soldier does his, this world would be a
better place? There may be greater difficulties in our way than in
the soldier's. Not disputed. But, let us at least do our duty
towards HIM.

I had got back again to that rich and beautiful port where I had
looked after Mercantile Jack, and I was walking up a hill there, on
a wild March morning. My conversation with my official friend
Pangloss, by whom I was accidentally accompanied, took this
direction as we took the up-hill direction, because the object of
my uncommercial journey was to see some discharged soldiers who had
recently come home from India. There were men of HAVELOCK's among
them; there were men who had been in many of the great battles of
the great Indian campaign, among them; and I was curious to note
what our discharged soldiers looked like, when they were done with.

I was not the less interested (as I mentioned to my official friend
Pangloss) because these men had claimed to be discharged, when
their right to be discharged was not admitted. They had behaved
with unblemished fidelity and bravery; but, a change of
circumstances had arisen, which, as they considered, put an end to
their compact and entitled them to enter on a new one. Their
demand had been blunderingly resisted by the authorities in India:
but, it is to be presumed that the men were not far wrong, inasmuch
as the bungle had ended in their being sent home discharged, in
pursuance of orders from home. (There was an immense waste of
money, of course.)

Under these circumstances--thought I, as I walked up the hill, on
which I accidentally encountered my official friend--under these
circumstances of the men having successfully opposed themselves to
the Pagoda Department of that great Circumlocution Office on which
the sun never sets and the light of reason never rises, the Pagoda
Department will have been particularly careful of the national
honour. It will have shown these men, in the scrupulous good
faith, not to say the generosity, of its dealing with them, that
great national authorities can have no small retaliations and
revenges. It will have made every provision for their health on
the passage home, and will have landed them, restored from their
campaigning fatigues by a sea-voyage, pure air, sound food, and
good medicines. And I pleased myself with dwelling beforehand, on
the great accounts of their personal treatment which these men
would carry into their various towns and villages, and on the
increasing popularity of the service that would insensibly follow.
I almost began to hope that the hitherto-never-failing deserters on
my railroad would by-and-by become a phenomenon.

In this agreeable frame of mind I entered the workhouse of
Liverpool.--For, the cultivation of laurels in a sandy soil, had
brought the soldiers in question to THAT abode of Glory.

Before going into their wards to visit them, I inquired how they
had made their triumphant entry there? They had been brought
through the rain in carts it seemed, from the landing-place to the
gate, and had then been carried up-stairs on the backs of paupers.
Their groans and pains during the performance of this glorious
pageant, had been so distressing, as to bring tears into the eyes
of spectators but too well accustomed to scenes of suffering. The
men were so dreadfully cold, that those who could get near the
fires were hard to be restrained from thrusting their feet in among
the blazing coals. They were so horribly reduced, that they were
awful to look upon. Racked with dysentery and blackened with
scurvy, one hundred and forty wretched soldiers had been revived
with brandy and laid in bed.

My official friend Pangloss is lineally descended from a learned
doctor of that name, who was once tutor to Candide, an ingenious
young gentleman of some celebrity. In his personal character, he
is as humane and worthy a gentleman as any I know; in his official
capacity, he unfortunately preaches the doctrines of his renowned
ancestor, by demonstrating on all occasions that we live in the
best of all possible official worlds.

'In the name of Humanity,' said I, 'how did the men fall into this
deplorable state? Was the ship well found in stores?'

'I am not here to asseverate that I know the fact, of my own
knowledge,' answered Pangloss, 'but I have grounds for asserting
that the stores were the best of all possible stores.'

A medical officer laid before us, a handful of rotten biscuit, and
a handful of split peas. The biscuit was a honeycombed heap of
maggots, and the excrement of maggots. The peas were even harder
than this filth. A similar handful had been experimentally boiled
six hours, and had shown no signs of softening. These were the
stores on which the soldiers had been fed.

'The beef--' I began, when Pangloss cut me short.

'Was the best of all possible beef,' said he.

But, behold, there was laid before us certain evidence given at the
Coroner's Inquest, holden on some of the men (who had obstinately
died of their treatment), and from that evidence it appeared that
the beef was the worst of possible beef!

'Then I lay my hand upon my heart, and take my stand,' said
Pangloss, 'by the pork, which was the best of all possible pork.'

'But look at this food before our eyes, if one may so misuse the
word,' said I. 'Would any Inspector who did his duty, pass such

'It ought not to have been passed,' Pangloss admitted.

'Then the authorities out there--' I began, when Pangloss cut me
short again.

'There would certainly seem to have been something wrong
somewhere,' said he; 'but I am prepared to prove that the
authorities out there, are the best of all possible authorities.'

I never heard of any impeached public authority in my life, who was
not the best public authority in existence.

'We are told of these unfortunate men being laid low by scurvy,'
said I. 'Since lime-juice has been regularly stored and served out
in our navy, surely that disease, which used to devastate it, has
almost disappeared? Was there lime-juice aboard this transport?'

My official friend was beginning 'the best of all possible--' when
an inconvenient medical forefinger pointed out another passage in
the evidence, from which it appeared that the lime-juice had been
bad too. Not to mention that the vinegar had been bad too, the
vegetables bad too, the cooking accommodation insufficient (if
there had been anything worth mentioning to cook), the water supply
exceedingly inadequate, and the beer sour.

'Then the men,' said Pangloss, a little irritated, 'Were the worst
of all possible men.'

'In what respect?' I asked.

'Oh! Habitual drunkards,' said Pangloss.

But, again the same incorrigible medical forefinger pointed out
another passage in the evidence, showing that the dead men had been
examined after death, and that they, at least, could not possibly
have been habitual drunkards, because the organs within them which
must have shown traces of that habit, were perfectly sound.

'And besides,' said the three doctors present, 'one and all,
habitual drunkards brought as low as these men have been, could not
recover under care and food, as the great majority of these men are
recovering. They would not have strength of constitution to do

'Reckless and improvident dogs, then,' said Pangloss. 'Always are-
-nine times out of ten.'

I turned to the master of the workhouse, and asked him whether the
men had any money?

'Money?' said he. 'I have in my iron safe, nearly four hundred
pounds of theirs; the agents have nearly a hundred pounds more and
many of them have left money in Indian banks besides.'

'Hah!' said I to myself, as we went up-stairs, 'this is not the
best of all possible stories, I doubt!'

We went into a large ward, containing some twenty or five-and-
twenty beds. We went into several such wards, one after another.
I find it very difficult to indicate what a shocking sight I saw in
them, without frightening the reader from the perusal of these
lines, and defeating my object of making it known.

O the sunken eyes that turned to me as I walked between the rows of
beds, or--worse still--that glazedly looked at the white ceiling,
and saw nothing and cared for nothing! Here, lay the skeleton of a
man, so lightly covered with a thin unwholesome skin, that not a
bone in the anatomy was clothed, and I could clasp the arm above
the elbow, in my finger and thumb. Here, lay a man with the black
scurvy eating his legs away, his gums gone, and his teeth all gaunt
and bare. This bed was empty, because gangrene had set in, and the
patient had died but yesterday. That bed was a hopeless one,
because its occupant was sinking fast, and could only be roused to
turn the poor pinched mask of face upon the pillow, with a feeble
moan. The awful thinness of the fallen cheeks, the awful
brightness of the deep set eyes, the lips of lead, the hands of
ivory, the recumbent human images lying in the shadow of death with
a kind of solemn twilight on them, like the sixty who had died
aboard the ship and were lying at the bottom of the sea, O
Pangloss, GOD forgive you!

In one bed, lay a man whose life had been saved (as it was hoped)
by deep incisions in the feet and legs. While I was speaking to
him, a nurse came up to change the poultices which this operation
had rendered necessary, and I had an instinctive feeling that it
was not well to turn away, merely to spare myself. He was sorely
wasted and keenly susceptible, but the efforts he made to subdue
any expression of impatience or suffering, were quite heroic. It
was easy to see, in the shrinking of the figure, and the drawing of
the bed-clothes over the head, how acute the endurance was, and it
made me shrink too, as if I were in pain; but, when the new
bandages were on, and the poor feet were composed again, he made an
apology for himself (though he had not uttered a word), and said
plaintively, 'I am so tender and weak, you see, sir!' Neither from
him nor from any one sufferer of the whole ghastly number, did I
hear a complaint. Of thankfulness for present solicitude and care,
I heard much; of complaint, not a word.

I think I could have recognised in the dismalest skeleton there,
the ghost of a soldier. Something of the old air was still latent
in the palest shadow of life I talked to. One emaciated creature,
in the strictest literality worn to the bone, lay stretched on his
back, looking so like death that I asked one of the doctors if he
were not dying, or dead? A few kind words from the doctor, in his
ear, and he opened his eyes, and smiled--looked, in a moment, as if
he would have made a salute, if he could. 'We shall pull him
through, please God,' said the Doctor. 'Plase God, surr, and
thankye,' said the patient. 'You are much better to-day; are you
not?' said the Doctor. 'Plase God, surr; 'tis the slape I want,
surr; 'tis my breathin' makes the nights so long.' 'He is a
careful fellow this, you must know,' said the Doctor, cheerfully;
'it was raining hard when they put him in the open cart to bring
him here, and he had the presence of mind to ask to have a
sovereign taken out of his pocket that he had there, and a cab
engaged. Probably it saved his life.' The patient rattled out the
skeleton of a laugh, and said, proud of the story, ''Deed, surr, an
open cairt was a comical means o' bringin' a dyin' man here, and a
clever way to kill him.' You might have sworn to him for a soldier
when he said it.

One thing had perplexed me very much in going from bed to bed. A
very significant and cruel thing. I could find no young man but
one. He had attracted my notice, by having got up and dressed
himself in his soldier's jacket and trousers, with the intention of
sitting by the fire; but he had found himself too weak, and had
crept back to his bed and laid himself down on the outside of it.
I could have pronounced him, alone, to be a young man aged by
famine and sickness. As we were standing by the Irish soldier's
bed, I mentioned my perplexity to the Doctor. He took a board with
an inscription on it from the head of the Irishman's bed, and asked
me what age I supposed that man to be? I had observed him with
attention while talking to him, and answered, confidently, 'Fifty.'
The Doctor, with a pitying glance at the patient, who had dropped
into a stupor again, put the board back, and said, 'Twenty-four.'

All the arrangements of the wards were excellent. They could not
have been more humane, sympathising, gentle, attentive, or
wholesome. The owners of the ship, too, had done all they could,
liberally. There were bright fires in every room, and the
convalescent men were sitting round them, reading various papers
and periodicals. I took the liberty of inviting my official friend
Pangloss to look at those convalescent men, and to tell me whether
their faces and bearing were or were not, generally, the faces and
bearing of steady respectable soldiers? The master of the
workhouse, overhearing me, said he had had a pretty large
experience of troops, and that better conducted men than these, he
had never had to do with. They were always (he added) as we saw
them. And of us visitors (I add) they knew nothing whatever,
except that we were there.

It was audacious in me, but I took another liberty with Pangloss.
Prefacing it with the observation that, of course, I knew
beforehand that there was not the faintest desire, anywhere, to
hush up any part of this dreadful business, and that the Inquest
was the fairest of all possible Inquests, I besought four things of
Pangloss. Firstly, to observe that the Inquest WAS NOT HELD IN
THAT PLACE, but at some distance off. Secondly, to look round upon
those helpless spectres in their beds. Thirdly, to remember that
the witnesses produced from among them before that Inquest, could
not have been selected because they were the men who had the most
to tell it, but because they happened to be in a state admitting of
their safe removal. Fourthly, to say whether the coroner and jury
could have come there, to those pillows, and taken a little
evidence? My official friend declined to commit himself to a

There was a sergeant, reading, in one of the fireside groups. As
he was a man of very intelligent countenance, and as I have a great
respect for non-commissioned officers as a class, I sat down on the
nearest bed, to have some talk with him. (It was the bed of one of
the grisliest of the poor skeletons, and he died soon afterwards.)

'I was glad to see, in the evidence of an officer at the Inquest,
sergeant, that he never saw men behave better on board ship than
these men.'

'They did behave very well, sir.'

'I was glad to see, too, that every man had a hammock.' The
sergeant gravely shook his head. 'There must be some mistake, sir.
The men of my own mess had no hammocks. There were not hammocks
enough on board, and the men of the two next messes laid hold of
hammocks for themselves as soon as they got on board, and squeezed
my men out, as I may say.'

'Had the squeezed-out men none then?'

'None, sir. As men died, their hammocks were used by other men,
who wanted hammocks; but many men had none at all.'

'Then you don't agree with the evidence on that point?'

'Certainly not, sir. A man can't, when he knows to the contrary.'

'Did any of the men sell their bedding for drink?'

'There is some mistake on that point too, sir. Men were under the
impression--I knew it for a fact at the time--that it was not
allowed to take blankets or bedding on board, and so men who had
things of that sort came to sell them purposely.'

'Did any of the men sell their clothes for drink?'

'They did, sir.' (I believe there never was a more truthful
witness than the sergeant. He had no inclination to make out a


'Some, sir' (considering the question). 'Soldier-like. They had
been long marching in the rainy season, by bad roads--no roads at
all, in short--and when they got to Calcutta, men turned to and
drank, before taking a last look at it. Soldier-like.'

'Do you see any men in this ward, for example, who sold clothes for
drink at that time?'

The sergeant's wan eye, happily just beginning to rekindle with
health, travelled round the place and came back to me. 'Certainly,

'The marching to Calcutta in the rainy season must have been

'It was very severe, sir.'

'Yet what with the rest and the sea air, I should have thought that
the men (even the men who got drunk) would have soon begun to
recover on board ship?'

'So they might; but the bad food told upon them, and when we got
into a cold latitude, it began to tell more, and the men dropped.'

'The sick had a general disinclination for food, I am told,

'Have you seen the food, sir?'

'Some of it.'

'Have you seen the state of their mouths, sir?'

If the sergeant, who was a man of a few orderly words, had spoken
the amount of this volume, he could not have settled that question
better. I believe the sick could as soon have eaten the ship, as
the ship's provisions.

I took the additional liberty with my friend Pangloss, when I had
left the sergeant with good wishes, of asking Pangloss whether he
had ever heard of biscuit getting drunk and bartering its
nutritious qualities for putrefaction and vermin; of peas becoming
hardened in liquor; of hammocks drinking themselves off the face of
the earth; of lime-juice, vegetables, vinegar, cooking
accommodation, water supply, and beer, all taking to drinking
together and going to ruin? 'If not (I asked him), what did he say
in defence of the officers condemned by the Coroner's jury, who, by
signing the General Inspection report relative to the ship Great
Tasmania, chartered for these troops, had deliberately asserted all
that bad and poisonous dunghill refuse, to be good and wholesome
food?' My official friend replied that it was a remarkable fact,
that whereas some officers were only positively good, and other
officers only comparatively better, those particular officers were
superlatively the very best of all possible officers.

My hand and my heart fail me, in writing my record of this journey.
The spectacle of the soldiers in the hospital-beds of that
Liverpool workhouse (a very good workhouse, indeed, be it
understood), was so shocking and so shameful, that as an Englishman
I blush to remember it. It would have been simply unbearable at
the time, but for the consideration and pity with which they were
soothed in their sufferings.

No punishment that our inefficient laws provide, is worthy of the
name when set against the guilt of this transaction. But, if the
memory of it die out unavenged, and if it do not result in the
inexorable dismissal and disgrace of those who are responsible for
it, their escape will be infamous to the Government (no matter of
what party) that so neglects its duty, and infamous to the nation
that tamely suffers such intolerable wrong to be done in its name.


If the confession that I have often travelled from this Covent
Garden lodging of mine on Sundays, should give offence to those who
never travel on Sundays, they will be satisfied (I hope) by my
adding that the journeys in question were made to churches.

Not that I have any curiosity to hear powerful preachers. Time
was, when I was dragged by the hair of my head, as one may say, to
hear too many. On summer evenings, when every flower, and tree,
and bird, might have better addressed my soft young heart, I have
in my day been caught in the palm of a female hand by the crown,
have been violently scrubbed from the neck to the roots of the hair
as a purification for the Temple, and have then been carried off
highly charged with saponaceous electricity, to be steamed like a
potato in the unventilated breath of the powerful Boanerges Boiler
and his congregation, until what small mind I had, was quite
steamed out of me. In which pitiable plight I have been haled out
of the place of meeting, at the conclusion of the exercises, and
catechised respecting Boanerges Boiler, his fifthly, his sixthly,
and his seventhly, until I have regarded that reverend person in
the light of a most dismal and oppressive Charade. Time was, when
I was carried off to platform assemblages at which no human child,
whether of wrath or grace, could possibly keep its eyes open, and
when I felt the fatal sleep stealing, stealing over me, and when I
gradually heard the orator in possession, spinning and humming like
a great top, until he rolled, collapsed, and tumbled over, and I
discovered to my burning shame and fear, that as to that last stage
it was not he, but I. I have sat under Boanerges when he has
specifically addressed himself to us--us, the infants--and at this
present writing I hear his lumbering jocularity (which never amused
us, though we basely pretended that it did), and I behold his big
round face, and I look up the inside of his outstretched coat-
sleeve as if it were a telescope with the stopper on, and I hate
him with an unwholesome hatred for two hours. Through such means
did it come to pass that I knew the powerful preacher from
beginning to end, all over and all through, while I was very young,
and that I left him behind at an early period of life. Peace be
with him! More peace than he brought to me!

Now, I have heard many preachers since that time--not powerful;
merely Christian, unaffected, and reverential--and I have had many
such preachers on my roll of friends. But, it was not to hear
these, any more than the powerful class, that I made my Sunday
journeys. They were journeys of curiosity to the numerous churches
in the City of London. It came into my head one day, here had I
been cultivating a familiarity with all the churches of Rome, and I
knew nothing of the insides of the old churches of London! This
befell on a Sunday morning. I began my expeditions that very same
day, and they lasted me a year.

I never wanted to know the names of the churches to which I went,
and to this hour I am profoundly ignorant in that particular of at
least nine-tenths of them. Indeed, saying that I know the church
of old GOWER'S tomb (he lies in effigy with his head upon his
books) to be the church of Saint Saviour's, Southwark; and the
church of MILTON'S tomb to be the church of Cripplegate; and the
church on Cornhill with the great golden keys to be the church of
Saint Peter; I doubt if I could pass a competitive examination in
any of the names. No question did I ever ask of living creature
concerning these churches, and no answer to any antiquarian
question on the subject that I ever put to books, shall harass the
reader's soul. A full half of my pleasure in them arose out of
their mystery; mysterious I found them; mysterious they shall
remain for me.

Where shall I begin my round of hidden and forgotten old churches
in the City of London?

It is twenty minutes short of eleven on a Sunday morning, when I
stroll down one of the many narrow hilly streets in the City that
tend due south to the Thames. It is my first experiment, and I
have come to the region of Whittington in an omnibus, and we have
put down a fierce-eyed, spare old woman, whose slate-coloured gown
smells of herbs, and who walked up Aldersgate-street to some chapel
where she comforts herself with brimstone doctrine, I warrant. We
have also put down a stouter and sweeter old lady, with a pretty
large prayer-book in an unfolded pocket-handkerchief, who got out
at a corner of a court near Stationers' Hall, and who I think must
go to church there, because she is the widow of some deceased old
Company's Beadle. The rest of our freight were mere chance
pleasure-seekers and rural walkers, and went on to the Blackwall
railway. So many bells are ringing, when I stand undecided at a
street corner, that every sheep in the ecclesiastical fold might be
a bell-wether. The discordance is fearful. My state of indecision
is referable to, and about equally divisible among, four great
churches, which are all within sight and sound, all within the
space of a few square yards.

As I stand at the street corner, I don't see as many as four people
at once going to church, though I see as many as four churches with
their steeples clamouring for people. I choose my church, and go
up the flight of steps to the great entrance in the tower. A
mouldy tower within, and like a neglected washhouse. A rope comes
through the beamed roof, and a man in the corner pulls it and
clashes the bell--a whity-brown man, whose clothes were once black-
-a man with flue on him, and cobweb. He stares at me, wondering
how I come there, and I stare at him, wondering how he comes there.
Through a screen of wood and glass, I peep into the dim church.
About twenty people are discernible, waiting to begin. Christening
would seem to have faded out of this church long ago, for the font
has the dust of desuetude thick upon it, and its wooden cover
(shaped like an old-fashioned tureen-cover) looks as if it wouldn't
come off, upon requirement. I perceive the altar to be rickety and
the Commandments damp. Entering after this survey, I jostle the
clergyman in his canonicals, who is entering too from a dark lane
behind a pew of state with curtains, where nobody sits. The pew is
ornamented with four blue wands, once carried by four somebodys, I
suppose, before somebody else, but which there is nobody now to
hold or receive honour from. I open the door of a family pew, and
shut myself in; if I could occupy twenty family pews at once I
might have them. The clerk, a brisk young man (how does HE come
here?), glances at me knowingly, as who should say, 'You have done
it now; you must stop.' Organ plays. Organ-loft is in a small
gallery across the church; gallery congregation, two girls. I
wonder within myself what will happen when we are required to sing.

There is a pale heap of books in the corner of my pew, and while
the organ, which is hoarse and sleepy, plays in such fashion that I
can hear more of the rusty working of the stops than of any music,
I look at the books, which are mostly bound in faded baize and
stuff. They belonged in 1754, to the Dowgate family; and who were
they? Jane Comport must have married Young Dowgate, and come into
the family that way; Young Dowgate was courting Jane Comport when
he gave her her prayer-book, and recorded the presentation in the
fly-leaf; if Jane were fond of Young Dowgate, why did she die and
leave the book here? Perhaps at the rickety altar, and before the
damp Commandments, she, Comport, had taken him, Dowgate, in a flush
of youthful hope and joy, and perhaps it had not turned out in the
long run as great a success as was expected?

The opening of the service recalls my wandering thoughts. I then
find, to my astonishment, that I have been, and still am, taking a
strong kind of invisible snuff, up my nose, into my eyes, and down
my throat. I wink, sneeze, and cough. The clerk sneezes; the
clergyman winks; the unseen organist sneezes and coughs (and
probably winks); all our little party wink, sneeze, and cough. The
snuff seems to be made of the decay of matting, wood, cloth, stone,
iron, earth, and something else. Is the something else, the decay
of dead citizens in the vaults below? As sure as Death it is! Not
only in the cold, damp February day, do we cough and sneeze dead
citizens, all through the service, but dead citizens have got into
the very bellows of the organ, and half choked the same. We stamp
our feet to warm them, and dead citizens arise in heavy clouds.
Dead citizens stick upon the walls, and lie pulverised on the
sounding-board over the clergyman's head, and, when a gust of air
comes, tumble down upon him.

In this first experience I was so nauseated by too much snuff, made
of the Dowgate family, the Comport branch, and other families and
branches, that I gave but little heed to our dull manner of ambling
through the service; to the brisk clerk's manner of encouraging us
to try a note or two at psalm time; to the gallery-congregation's
manner of enjoying a shrill duet, without a notion of time or tune;
to the whity-brown man's manner of shutting the minister into the
pulpit, and being very particular with the lock of the door, as if
he were a dangerous animal. But, I tried again next Sunday, and
soon accustomed myself to the dead citizens when I found that I
could not possibly get on without them among the City churches.

Another Sunday.

After being again rung for by conflicting bells, like a leg of
mutton or a laced hat a hundred years ago, I make selection of a
church oddly put away in a corner among a number of lanes--a
smaller church than the last, and an ugly: of about the date of
Queen Anne. As a congregation, we are fourteen strong: not
counting an exhausted charity school in a gallery, which has
dwindled away to four boys, and two girls. In the porch, is a
benefaction of loaves of bread, which there would seem to be nobody
left in the exhausted congregation to claim, and which I saw an
exhausted beadle, long faded out of uniform, eating with his eyes
for self and family when I passed in. There is also an exhausted
clerk in a brown wig, and two or three exhausted doors and windows
have been bricked up, and the service books are musty, and the
pulpit cushions are threadbare, and the whole of the church
furniture is in a very advanced stage of exhaustion. We are three
old women (habitual), two young lovers (accidental), two tradesmen,
one with a wife and one alone, an aunt and nephew, again two girls
(these two girls dressed out for church with everything about them
limp that should be stiff, and vice versa, are an invariable
experience), and three sniggering boys. The clergyman is, perhaps,
the chaplain of a civic company; he has the moist and vinous look,
and eke the bulbous boots, of one acquainted with 'Twenty port, and
comet vintages.

We are so quiet in our dulness that the three sniggering boys, who
have got away into a corner by the altar-railing, give us a start,
like crackers, whenever they laugh. And this reminds me of my own
village church where, during sermon-time on bright Sundays when the
birds are very musical indeed, farmers' boys patter out over the
stone pavement, and the clerk steps out from his desk after them,
and is distinctly heard in the summer repose to pursue and punch
them in the churchyard, and is seen to return with a meditative
countenance, making believe that nothing of the sort has happened.
The aunt and nephew in this City church are much disturbed by the
sniggering boys. The nephew is himself a boy, and the sniggerers
tempt him to secular thoughts of marbles and string, by secretly
offering such commodities to his distant contemplation. This young
Saint Anthony for a while resists, but presently becomes a
backslider, and in dumb show defies the sniggerers to 'heave' a
marble or two in his direction. Here in he is detected by the aunt
(a rigorous reduced gentlewoman who has the charge of offices), and
I perceive that worthy relative to poke him in the side, with the
corrugated hooked handle of an ancient umbrella. The nephew
revenges himself for this, by holding his breath and terrifying his
kinswoman with the dread belief that he has made up his mind to
burst. Regardless of whispers and shakes, he swells and becomes
discoloured, and yet again swells and becomes discoloured, until
the aunt can bear it no longer, but leads him out, with no visible
neck, and with his eyes going before him like a prawn's. This
causes the sniggerers to regard flight as an eligible move, and I
know which of them will go out first, because of the over-devout
attention that he suddenly concentrates on the clergyman. In a
little while, this hypocrite, with an elaborate demonstration of
hushing his footsteps, and with a face generally expressive of
having until now forgotten a religious appointment elsewhere, is
gone. Number two gets out in the same way, but rather quicker.
Number three getting safely to the door, there turns reckless, and
banging it open, flies forth with a Whoop! that vibrates to the top
of the tower above us.

The clergyman, who is of a prandial presence and a muffled voice,
may be scant of hearing as well as of breath, but he only glances
up, as having an idea that somebody has said Amen in a wrong place,
and continues his steady jog-trot, like a farmer's wife going to
market. He does all he has to do, in the same easy way, and gives
us a concise sermon, still like the jog-trot of the farmer's wife
on a level road. Its drowsy cadence soon lulls the three old women
asleep, and the unmarried tradesman sits looking out at window, and
the married tradesman sits looking at his wife's bonnet, and the
lovers sit looking at one another, so superlatively happy, that I
mind when I, turned of eighteen, went with my Angelica to a City
church on account of a shower (by this special coincidence that it
was in Huggin-lane), and when I said to my Angelica, 'Let the
blessed event, Angelica, occur at no altar but this!' and when my
Angelica consented that it should occur at no other--which it
certainly never did, for it never occurred anywhere. And O,
Angelica, what has become of you, this present Sunday morning when
I can't attend to the sermon; and, more difficult question than
that, what has become of Me as I was when I sat by your side!

But, we receive the signal to make that unanimous dive which surely
is a little conventional--like the strange rustlings and settlings
and clearings of throats and noses, which are never dispensed with,
at certain points of the Church service, and are never held to be
necessary under any other circumstances. In a minute more it is
all over, and the organ expresses itself to be as glad of it as it
can be of anything in its rheumatic state, and in another minute we
are all of us out of the church, and Whity-brown has locked it up.
Another minute or little more, and, in the neighbouring churchyard-
-not the yard of that church, but of another--a churchyard like a
great shabby old mignonette box, with two trees in it and one tomb-
-I meet Whity-brown, in his private capacity, fetching a pint of
beer for his dinner from the public-house in the corner, where the
keys of the rotting fire-ladders are kept and were never asked for,
and where there is a ragged, white-seamed, out-at-elbowed bagatelle
board on the first floor.

In one of these City churches, and only in one, I found an
individual who might have been claimed as expressly a City
personage. I remember the church, by the feature that the
clergyman couldn't get to his own desk without going through the
clerk's, or couldn't get to the pulpit without going through the
reading-desk--I forget which, and it is no matter--and by the
presence of this personage among the exceedingly sparse
congregation. I doubt if we were a dozen, and we had no exhausted
charity school to help us out. The personage was dressed in black
of square cut, and was stricken in years, and wore a black velvet
cap, and cloth shoes. He was of a staid, wealthy, and dissatisfied
aspect. In his hand, he conducted to church a mysterious child: a
child of the feminine gender. The child had a beaver hat, with a
stiff drab plume that surely never belonged to any bird of the air.
The child was further attired in a nankeen frock and spencer, brown
boxing-gloves, and a veil. It had a blemish, in the nature of
currant jelly, on its chin; and was a thirsty child. Insomuch that
the personage carried in his pocket a green bottle, from which,
when the first psalm was given out, the child was openly refreshed.
At all other times throughout the service it was motionless, and
stood on the seat of the large pew, closely fitted into the corner,
like a rain-water pipe.

The personage never opened his book, and never looked at the
clergyman. He never sat down either, but stood with his arms
leaning on the top of the pew, and his forehead sometimes shaded
with his right hand, always looking at the church door. It was a
long church for a church of its size, and he was at the upper end,
but he always looked at the door. That he was an old bookkeeper,
or an old trader who had kept his own books, and that he might be
seen at the Bank of England about Dividend times, no doubt. That
he had lived in the City all his life and was disdainful of other
localities, no doubt. Why he looked at the door, I never
absolutely proved, but it is my belief that he lived in expectation
of the time when the citizens would come back to live in the City,
and its ancient glories would be renewed. He appeared to expect
that this would occur on a Sunday, and that the wanderers would
first appear, in the deserted churches, penitent and humbled.
Hence, he looked at the door which they never darkened. Whose
child the child was, whether the child of a disinherited daughter,
or some parish orphan whom the personage had adopted, there was
nothing to lead up to. It never played, or skipped, or smiled.
Once, the idea occurred to me that it was an automaton, and that
the personage had made it; but following the strange couple out one
Sunday, I heard the personage say to it, 'Thirteen thousand
pounds;' to which it added in a weak human voice, 'Seventeen and
fourpence.' Four Sundays I followed them out, and this is all I
ever heard or saw them say. One Sunday, I followed them home.
They lived behind a pump, and the personage opened their abode with
an exceeding large key. The one solitary inscription on their
house related to a fire-plug. The house was partly undermined by a
deserted and closed gateway; its windows were blind with dirt; and
it stood with its face disconsolately turned to a wall. Five great
churches and two small ones rang their Sunday bells between this
house and the church the couple frequented, so they must have had
some special reason for going a quarter of a mile to it. The last
time I saw them, was on this wise. I had been to explore another
church at a distance, and happened to pass the church they
frequented, at about two of the afternoon when that edifice was
closed. But, a little side-door, which I had never observed
before, stood open, and disclosed certain cellarous steps.
Methought 'They are airing the vaults to-day,' when the personage
and the child silently arrived at the steps, and silently
descended. Of course, I came to the conclusion that the personage
had at last despaired of the looked-for return of the penitent
citizens, and that he and the child went down to get themselves

In the course of my pilgrimages I came upon one obscure church
which had broken out in the melodramatic style, and was got up with
various tawdry decorations, much after the manner of the extinct
London may-poles. These attractions had induced several young
priests or deacons in black bibs for waistcoats, and several young
ladies interested in that holy order (the proportion being, as I
estimated, seventeen young ladies to a deacon), to come into the
City as a new and odd excitement. It was wonderful to see how
these young people played out their little play in the heart of the
City, all among themselves, without the deserted City's knowing
anything about it. It was as if you should take an empty counting-
house on a Sunday, and act one of the old Mysteries there. They
had impressed a small school (from what neighbourhood I don't know)
to assist in the performances, and it was pleasant to notice
frantic garlands of inscription on the walls, especially addressing
those poor innocents in characters impossible for them to decipher.
There was a remarkably agreeable smell of pomatum in this

But, in other cases, rot and mildew and dead citizens formed the
uppermost scent, while, infused into it in a dreamy way not at all
displeasing, was the staple character of the neighbourhood. In the
churches about Mark-lane, for example, there was a dry whiff of
wheat; and I accidentally struck an airy sample of barley out of an
aged hassock in one of them. From Rood-lane to Tower-street, and
thereabouts, there was often a subtle flavour of wine: sometimes,
of tea. One church near Mincing-lane smelt like a druggist's
drawer. Behind the Monument the service had a flavour of damaged
oranges, which, a little further down towards the river, tempered
into herrings, and gradually toned into a cosmopolitan blast of
fish. In one church, the exact counterpart of the church in the
Rake's Progress where the hero is being married to the horrible old
lady, there was no speciality of atmosphere, until the organ shook
a perfume of hides all over us from some adjacent warehouse.

Be the scent what it would, however, there was no speciality in the
people. There were never enough of them to represent any calling
or neighbourhood. They had all gone elsewhere over-night, and the
few stragglers in the many churches languished there

Among the Uncommercial travels in which I have engaged, this year
of Sunday travel occupies its own place, apart from all the rest.
Whether I think of the church where the sails of the oyster-boats
in the river almost flapped against the windows, or of the church
where the railroad made the bells hum as the train rushed by above
the roof, I recall a curious experience. On summer Sundays, in the
gentle rain or the bright sunshine--either, deepening the idleness
of the idle City--I have sat, in that singular silence which
belongs to resting-places usually astir, in scores of buildings at
the heart of the world's metropolis, unknown to far greater numbers
of people speaking the English tongue, than the ancient edifices of
the Eternal City, or the Pyramids of Egypt. The dark vestries and
registries into which I have peeped, and the little hemmed-in
churchyards that have echoed to my feet, have left impressions on
my memory as distinct and quaint as any it has in that way
received. In all those dusty registers that the worms are eating,
there is not a line but made some hearts leap, or some tears flow,
in their day. Still and dry now, still and dry! and the old tree
at the window with no room for its branches, has seen them all out.
So with the tomb of the old Master of the old Company, on which it
drips. His son restored it and died, his daughter restored it and
died, and then he had been remembered long enough, and the tree
took possession of him, and his name cracked out.

There are few more striking indications of the changes of manners
and customs that two or three hundred years have brought about,
than these deserted churches. Many of them are handsome and costly
structures, several of them were designed by WREN, many of them
arose from the ashes of the great fire, others of them outlived the
plague and the fire too, to die a slow death in these later days.
No one can be sure of the coming time; but it is not too much to
say of it that it has no sign in its outsetting tides, of the
reflux to these churches of their congregations and uses. They
remain like the tombs of the old citizens who lie beneath them and
around them, Monuments of another age. They are worth a Sunday-
exploration, now and then, for they yet echo, not unharmoniously,
to the time when the City of London really was London; when the
'Prentices and Trained Bands were of mark in the state; when even
the Lord Mayor himself was a Reality--not a Fiction conventionally
be-puffed on one day in the year by illustrious friends, who no
less conventionally laugh at him on the remaining three hundred and
sixty-four days.


So much of my travelling is done on foot, that if I cherished
betting propensities, I should probably be found registered in
sporting newspapers under some such title as the Elastic Novice,
challenging all eleven stone mankind to competition in walking. My
last special feat was turning out of bed at two, after a hard day,
pedestrian and otherwise, and walking thirty miles into the country
to breakfast. The road was so lonely in the night, that I fell
asleep to the monotonous sound of my own feet, doing their regular
four miles an hour. Mile after mile I walked, without the
slightest sense of exertion, dozing heavily and dreaming
constantly. It was only when I made a stumble like a drunken man,
or struck out into the road to avoid a horseman close upon me on
the path--who had no existence--that I came to myself and looked
about. The day broke mistily (it was autumn time), and I could not
disembarrass myself of the idea that I had to climb those heights
and banks of cloud, and that there was an Alpine Convent somewhere
behind the sun, where I was going to breakfast. This sleepy notion
was so much stronger than such substantial objects as villages and
haystacks, that, after the sun was up and bright, and when I was
sufficiently awake to have a sense of pleasure in the prospect, I
still occasionally caught myself looking about for wooden arms to
point the right track up the mountain, and wondering there was no
snow yet. It is a curiosity of broken sleep that I made immense
quantities of verses on that pedestrian occasion (of course I never
make any when I am in my right senses), and that I spoke a certain
language once pretty familiar to me, but which I have nearly
forgotten from disuse, with fluency. Of both these phenomena I
have such frequent experience in the state between sleeping and
waking, that I sometimes argue with myself that I know I cannot be
awake, for, if I were, I should not be half so ready. The
readiness is not imaginary, because I often recall long strings of
the verses, and many turns of the fluent speech, after I am broad

My walking is of two kinds: one, straight on end to a definite
goal at a round pace; one, objectless, loitering, and purely
vagabond. In the latter state, no gipsy on earth is a greater
vagabond than myself; it is so natural to me, and strong with me,
that I think I must be the descendant, at no great distance, of
some irreclaimable tramp.

One of the pleasantest things I have lately met with, in a vagabond
course of shy metropolitan neighbourhoods and small shops, is the
fancy of a humble artist, as exemplified in two portraits
representing Mr. Thomas Sayers, of Great Britain, and Mr. John
Heenan, of the United States of America. These illustrious men are
highly coloured in fighting trim, and fighting attitude. To
suggest the pastoral and meditative nature of their peaceful
calling, Mr. Heenan is represented on emerald sward, with primroses
and other modest flowers springing up under the heels of his half-
boots; while Mr. Sayers is impelled to the administration of his
favourite blow, the Auctioneer, by the silent eloquence of a
village church. The humble homes of England, with their domestic
virtues and honeysuckle porches, urge both heroes to go in and win;
and the lark and other singing birds are observable in the upper
air, ecstatically carolling their thanks to Heaven for a fight. On
the whole, the associations entwined with the pugilistic art by
this artist are much in the manner of Izaak Walton.

But, it is with the lower animals of back streets and by-ways that
my present purpose rests. For human notes we may return to such
neighbourhoods when leisure and opportunity serve.

Nothing in shy neighbourhoods perplexes my mind more, than the bad
company birds keep. Foreign birds often get into good society, but
British birds are inseparable from low associates. There is a
whole street of them in St. Giles's; and I always find them in poor
and immoral neighbourhoods, convenient to the public-house and the
pawnbroker's. They seem to lead people into drinking, and even the
man who makes their cages usually gets into a chronic state of
black eye. Why is this? Also, they will do things for people in
short-skirted velveteen coats with bone buttons, or in sleeved
waistcoats and fur caps, which they cannot be persuaded by the
respectable orders of society to undertake. In a dirty court in
Spitalfields, once, I found a goldfinch drawing his own water, and
drawing as much of it as if he were in a consuming fever. That
goldfinch lived at a bird-shop, and offered, in writing, to barter
himself against old clothes, empty bottles, or even kitchen stuff.
Surely a low thing and a depraved taste in any finch! I bought
that goldfinch for money. He was sent home, and hung upon a nail
over against my table. He lived outside a counterfeit dwelling-
house, supposed (as I argued) to be a dyer's; otherwise it would
have been impossible to account for his perch sticking out of the
garret window. From the time of his appearance in my room, either
he left off being thirsty--which was not in the bond--or he could
not make up his mind to hear his little bucket drop back into his
well when he let it go: a shock which in the best of times had
made him tremble. He drew no water but by stealth and under the
cloak of night. After an interval of futile and at length hopeless
expectation, the merchant who had educated him was appealed to.
The merchant was a bow-legged character, with a flat and cushiony
nose, like the last new strawberry. He wore a fur cap, and shorts,
and was of the velveteen race, velveteeny. He sent word that he
would 'look round.' He looked round, appeared in the doorway of
the room, and slightly cocked up his evil eye at the goldfinch.
Instantly a raging thirst beset that bird; when it was appeased, he
still drew several unnecessary buckets of water; and finally,
leaped about his perch and sharpened his bill, as if he had been to
the nearest wine vaults and got drunk.

Donkeys again. I know shy neighbourhoods where the Donkey goes in
at the street door, and appears to live up-stairs, for I have
examined the back-yard from over the palings, and have been unable
to make him out. Gentility, nobility, Royalty, would appeal to
that donkey in vain to do what he does for a costermonger. Feed
him with oats at the highest price, put an infant prince and
princess in a pair of panniers on his back, adjust his delicate
trappings to a nicety, take him to the softest slopes at Windsor,
and try what pace you can get out of him. Then, starve him,
harness him anyhow to a truck with a flat tray on it, and see him
bowl from Whitechapel to Bayswater. There appears to be no
particular private understanding between birds and donkeys, in a
state of nature; but in the shy neighbourhood state, you shall see
them always in the same hands and always developing their very best
energies for the very worst company. I have known a donkey--by
sight; we were not on speaking terms--who lived over on the Surrey
side of London-bridge, among the fastnesses of Jacob's Island and
Dockhead. It was the habit of that animal, when his services were
not in immediate requisition, to go out alone, idling. I have met
him a mile from his place of residence, loitering about the
streets; and the expression of his countenance at such times was
most degraded. He was attached to the establishment of an elderly
lady who sold periwinkles, and he used to stand on Saturday nights
with a cartful of those delicacies outside a gin-shop, pricking up
his ears when a customer came to the cart, and too evidently
deriving satisfaction from the knowledge that they got bad measure.
His mistress was sometimes overtaken by inebriety. The last time I
ever saw him (about five years ago) he was in circumstances of
difficulty, caused by this failing. Having been left alone with
the cart of periwinkles, and forgotten, he went off idling. He
prowled among his usual low haunts for some time, gratifying his
depraved tastes, until, not taking the cart into his calculations,
he endeavoured to turn up a narrow alley, and became greatly
involved. He was taken into custody by the police, and, the Green
Yard of the district being near at hand, was backed into that place
of durance. At that crisis, I encountered him; the stubborn sense
he evinced of being--not to compromise the expression--a
blackguard, I never saw exceeded in the human subject. A flaring
candle in a paper shade, stuck in among his periwinkles, showed
him, with his ragged harness broken and his cart extensively
shattered, twitching his mouth and shaking his hanging head, a
picture of disgrace and obduracy. I have seen boys being taken to
station-houses, who were as like him as his own brother.

The dogs of shy neighbourhoods, I observe to avoid play, and to be
conscious of poverty. They avoid work, too, if they can, of
course; that is in the nature of all animals. I have the pleasure
to know a dog in a back street in the neighbourhood of Walworth,
who has greatly distinguished himself in the minor drama, and who
takes his portrait with him when he makes an engagement, for the
illustration of the play-bill. His portrait (which is not at all
like him) represents him in the act of dragging to the earth a
recreant Indian, who is supposed to have tomahawked, or essayed to
tomahawk, a British officer. The design is pure poetry, for there
is no such Indian in the piece, and no such incident. He is a dog
of the Newfoundland breed, for whose honesty I would be bail to any
amount; but whose intellectual qualities in association with
dramatic fiction, I cannot rate high. Indeed, he is too honest for
the profession he has entered. Being at a town in Yorkshire last
summer, and seeing him posted in the bill of the night, I attended
the performance. His first scene was eminently successful; but, as
it occupied a second in its representation (and five lines in the
bill), it scarcely afforded ground for a cool and deliberate
judgment of his powers. He had merely to bark, run on, and jump
through an inn window, after a comic fugitive. The next scene of
importance to the fable was a little marred in its interest by his
over-anxiety; forasmuch as while his master (a belated soldier in a
den of robbers on a tempestuous night) was feelingly lamenting the
absence of his faithful dog, and laying great stress on the fact
that he was thirty leagues away, the faithful dog was barking
furiously in the prompter's box, and clearly choking himself
against his collar. But it was in his greatest scene of all, that
his honesty got the better of him. He had to enter a dense and
trackless forest, on the trail of the murderer, and there to fly at
the murderer when he found him resting at the foot of a tree, with
his victim bound ready for slaughter. It was a hot night, and he
came into the forest from an altogether unexpected direction, in
the sweetest temper, at a very deliberate trot, not in the least
excited; trotted to the foot-lights with his tongue out; and there
sat down, panting, and amiably surveying the audience, with his
tail beating on the boards, like a Dutch clock. Meanwhile the
murderer, impatient to receive his doom, was audibly calling to him
'CO-O-OME here!' while the victim, struggling with his bonds,
assailed him with the most injurious expressions. It happened
through these means, that when he was in course of time persuaded
to trot up and rend the murderer limb from limb, he made it (for
dramatic purposes) a little too obvious that he worked out that
awful retribution by licking butter off his blood-stained hands.

In a shy street, behind Long-acre, two honest dogs live, who
perform in Punch's shows. I may venture to say that I am on terms
of intimacy with both, and that I never saw either guilty of the
falsehood of failing to look down at the man inside the show,
during the whole performance. The difficulty other dogs have in
satisfying their minds about these dogs, appears to be never
overcome by time. The same dogs must encounter them over and over
again, as they trudge along in their off-minutes behind the legs of
the show and beside the drum; but all dogs seem to suspect their
frills and jackets, and to sniff at them as if they thought those
articles of personal adornment, an eruption--a something in the
nature of mange, perhaps. From this Covent-garden window of mine I
noticed a country dog, only the other day, who had come up to
Covent-garden Market under a cart, and had broken his cord, an end
of which he still trailed along with him. He loitered about the

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest