Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Uncommercial Traveller by Charles Dickens

Part 5 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.

assumption of a fact that could not sanely be disputed, as, 'for
when a fellow comes to be a man of twenty-one.' I gave a party on
the occasion. She was there. It is unnecessary to name Her, more
particularly; She was older than I, and had pervaded every chink
and crevice of my mind for three or four years. I had held volumes
of Imaginary Conversations with her mother on the subject of our
union, and I had written letters more in number than Horace
Walpole's, to that discreet woman, soliciting her daughter's hand
in marriage. I had never had the remotest intention of sending any
of those letters; but to write them, and after a few days tear them
up, had been a sublime occupation. Sometimes, I had begun
'Honoured Madam. I think that a lady gifted with those powers of
observation which I know you to possess, and endowed with those
womanly sympathies with the young and ardent which it were more
than heresy to doubt, can scarcely have failed to discover that I
love your adorable daughter, deeply, devotedly.' In less buoyant
states of mind I had begun, 'Bear with me, Dear Madam, bear with a
daring wretch who is about to make a surprising confession to you,
wholly unanticipated by yourself, and which he beseeches you to
commit to the flames as soon as you have become aware to what a
towering height his mad ambition soars.' At other times--periods
of profound mental depression, when She had gone out to balls where
I was not--the draft took the affecting form of a paper to be left
on my table after my departure to the confines of the globe. As
thus: 'For Mrs. Onowenever, these lines when the hand that traces
them shall be far away. I could not bear the daily torture of
hopelessly loving the dear one whom I will not name. Broiling on
the coast of Africa, or congealing on the shores of Greenland, I am
far far better there than here.' (In this sentiment my cooler
judgment perceives that the family of the beloved object would have
most completely concurred.) 'If I ever emerge from obscurity, and
my name is ever heralded by Fame, it will be for her dear sake. If
I ever amass Gold, it will be to pour it at her feet. Should I on
the other hand become the prey of Ravens--' I doubt if I ever
quite made up my mind what was to be done in that affecting case; I
tried 'then it is better so;' but not feeling convinced that it
would be better so, I vacillated between leaving all else blank,
which looked expressive and bleak, or winding up with 'Farewell!'

This fictitious correspondence of mine is to blame for the
foregoing digression. I was about to pursue the statement that on
my twenty-first birthday I gave a party, and She was there. It was
a beautiful party. There was not a single animate or inanimate
object connected with it (except the company and myself) that I had
ever seen before. Everything was hired, and the mercenaries in
attendance were profound strangers to me. Behind a door, in the
crumby part of the night when wine-glasses were to be found in
unexpected spots, I spoke to Her--spoke out to Her. What passed, I
cannot as a man of honour reveal. She was all angelical
gentleness, but a word was mentioned--a short and dreadful word of
three letters, beginning with a B- which, as I remarked at the
moment, 'scorched my brain.' She went away soon afterwards, and
when the hollow throng (though to be sure it was no fault of
theirs) dispersed, I issued forth, with a dissipated scorner, and,
as I mentioned expressly to him, 'sought oblivion.' It was found,
with a dreadful headache in it, but it didn't last; for, in the
shaming light of next day's noon, I raised my heavy head in bed,
looking back to the birthdays behind me, and tracking the circle by
which I had got round, after all, to the bitter powder and the
wretchedness again.

This reactionary powder (taken so largely by the human race I am
inclined to regard it as the Universal Medicine once sought for in
Laboratories) is capable of being made up in another form for
birthday use. Anybody's long-lost brother will do ill to turn up
on a birthday. If I had a long-lost brother I should know
beforehand that he would prove a tremendous fraternal failure if he
appointed to rush into my arms on my birthday. The first Magic
Lantern I ever saw, was secretly and elaborately planned to be the
great effect of a very juvenile birthday; but it wouldn't act, and
its images were dim. My experience of adult birthday Magic
Lanterns may possibly have been unfortunate, but has certainly been
similar. I have an illustrative birthday in my eye: a birthday of
my friend Flipfield, whose birthdays had long been remarkable as
social successes. There had been nothing set or formal about them;
Flipfield having been accustomed merely to say, two or three days
before, 'Don't forget to come and dine, old boy, according to
custom;'--I don't know what he said to the ladies he invited, but I
may safely assume it NOT to have been 'old girl.' Those were
delightful gatherings, and were enjoyed by all participators. In
an evil hour, a long-lost brother of Flipfield's came to light in
foreign parts. Where he had been hidden, or what he had been
doing, I don't know, for Flipfield vaguely informed me that he had
turned up 'on the banks of the Ganges'--speaking of him as if he
had been washed ashore. The Long-lost was coming home, and
Flipfield made an unfortunate calculation, based on the well-known
regularity of the P. and O. Steamers, that matters might be so
contrived as that the Long-lost should appear in the nick of time
on his (Flipfield's) birthday. Delicacy commanded that I should
repress the gloomy anticipations with which my soul became fraught
when I heard of this plan. The fatal day arrived, and we assembled
in force. Mrs. Flipfield senior formed an interesting feature in
the group, with a blue-veined miniature of the late Mr. Flipfield
round her neck, in an oval, resembling a tart from the
pastrycook's: his hair powdered, and the bright buttons on his
coat, evidently very like. She was accompanied by Miss Flipfield,
the eldest of her numerous family, who held her pocket-handkerchief
to her bosom in a majestic manner, and spoke to all of us (none of
us had ever seen her before), in pious and condoning tones, of all
the quarrels that had taken place in the family, from her infancy--
which must have been a long time ago--down to that hour. The Long-
lost did not appear. Dinner, half an hour later than usual, was
announced, and still no Long-lost. We sat down to table. The
knife and fork of the Long-lost made a vacuum in Nature, and when
the champagne came round for the first time, Flipfield gave him up
for the day, and had them removed. It was then that the Long-lost
gained the height of his popularity with the company; for my own
part, I felt convinced that I loved him dearly. Flipfield's
dinners are perfect, and he is the easiest and best of
entertainers. Dinner went on brilliantly, and the more the Long-
lost didn't come, the more comfortable we grew, and the more highly
we thought of him. Flipfield's own man (who has a regard for me)
was in the act of struggling with an ignorant stipendiary, to wrest
from him the wooden leg of a Guinea-fowl which he was pressing on
my acceptance, and to substitute a slice of the breast, when a
ringing at the door-bell suspended the strife. I looked round me,
and perceived the sudden pallor which I knew my own visage
revealed, reflected in the faces of the company. Flipfield
hurriedly excused himself, went out, was absent for about a minute
or two, and then re-entered with the Long-lost.

I beg to say distinctly that if the stranger had brought Mont Blanc
with him, or had come attended by a retinue of eternal snows, he
could not have chilled the circle to the marrow in a more efficient
manner. Embodied Failure sat enthroned upon the Long-lost's brow,
and pervaded him to his Long-lost boots. In vain Mrs. Flipfield
senior, opening her arms, exclaimed, 'My Tom!' and pressed his nose
against the counterfeit presentment of his other parent. In vain
Miss Flipfield, in the first transports of this re-union, showed
him a dint upon her maidenly cheek, and asked him if he remembered
when he did that with the bellows? We, the bystanders, were
overcome, but overcome by the palpable, undisguisable, utter, and
total break-down of the Long-lost. Nothing he could have done
would have set him right with us but his instant return to the
Ganges. In the very same moments it became established that the
feeling was reciprocal, and that the Long-lost detested us. When a
friend of the family (not myself, upon my honour), wishing to set
things going again, asked him, while he partook of soup--asked him
with an amiability of intention beyond all praise, but with a
weakness of execution open to defeat--what kind of river he
considered the Ganges, the Long-lost, scowling at the friend of the
family over his spoon, as one of an abhorrent race, replied, 'Why,
a river of water, I suppose,' and spooned his soup into himself
with a malignancy of hand and eye that blighted the amiable
questioner. Not an opinion could be elicited from the Long-lost,
in unison with the sentiments of any individual present. He
contradicted Flipfield dead, before he had eaten his salmon. He
had no idea--or affected to have no idea--that it was his brother's
birthday, and on the communication of that interesting fact to him,
merely wanted to make him out four years older than he was. He was
an antipathetical being, with a peculiar power and gift of treading
on everybody's tenderest place. They talk in America of a man's
'Platform.' I should describe the Platform of the Long-lost as a
Platform composed of other people's corns, on which he had stumped
his way, with all his might and main, to his present position. It
is needless to add that Flipfield's great birthday went by the
board, and that he was a wreck when I pretended at parting to wish
him many happy returns of it.

There is another class of birthdays at which I have so frequently
assisted, that I may assume such birthdays to be pretty well known
to the human race. My friend Mayday's birthday is an example. The
guests have no knowledge of one another except on that one day in
the year, and are annually terrified for a week by the prospect of
meeting one another again. There is a fiction among us that we
have uncommon reasons for being particularly lively and spirited on
the occasion, whereas deep despondency is no phrase for the
expression of our feelings. But the wonderful feature of the case
is, that we are in tacit accordance to avoid the subject--to keep
it as far off as possible, as long as possible--and to talk about
anything else, rather than the joyful event. I may even go so far
as to assert that there is a dumb compact among us that we will
pretend that it is NOT Mayday's birthday. A mysterious and gloomy
Being, who is said to have gone to school with Mayday, and who is
so lank and lean that he seriously impugns the Dietary of the
establishment at which they were jointly educated, always leads us,
as I may say, to the block, by laying his grisly hand on a decanter
and begging us to fill our glasses. The devices and pretences that
I have seen put in practice to defer the fatal moment, and to
interpose between this man and his purpose, are innumerable. I
have known desperate guests, when they saw the grisly hand
approaching the decanter, wildly to begin, without any antecedent
whatsoever, 'That reminds me--' and to plunge into long stories.
When at last the hand and the decanter come together, a shudder, a
palpable perceptible shudder, goes round the table. We receive the
reminder that it is Mayday's birthday, as if it were the
anniversary of some profound disgrace he had undergone, and we
sought to comfort him. And when we have drunk Mayday's health, and
wished him many happy returns, we are seized for some moments with
a ghastly blitheness, an unnatural levity, as if we were in the
first flushed reaction of having undergone a surgical operation.

Birthdays of this species have a public as well as a private phase.
My 'boyhood's home,' Dullborough, presents a case in point. An
Immortal Somebody was wanted in Dullborough, to dimple for a day
the stagnant face of the waters; he was rather wanted by
Dullborough generally, and much wanted by the principal hotel-
keeper. The County history was looked up for a locally Immortal
Somebody, but the registered Dullborough worthies were all
Nobodies. In this state of things, it is hardly necessary to
record that Dullborough did what every man does when he wants to
write a book or deliver a lecture, and is provided with all the
materials except a subject. It fell back upon Shakespeare.

No sooner was it resolved to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday in
Dullborough, than the popularity of the immortal bard became
surprising. You might have supposed the first edition of his works
to have been published last week, and enthusiastic Dullborough to
have got half through them. (I doubt, by the way, whether it had
ever done half that, but that is a private opinion.) A young
gentleman with a sonnet, the retention of which for two years had
enfeebled his mind and undermined his knees, got the sonnet into
the Dullborough Warden, and gained flesh. Portraits of Shakespeare
broke out in the bookshop windows, and our principal artist painted
a large original portrait in oils for the decoration of the dining-
room. It was not in the least like any of the other Portraits, and
was exceedingly admired, the head being much swollen. At the
Institution, the Debating Society discussed the new question, Was
there sufficient ground for supposing that the Immortal Shakespeare
ever stole deer? This was indignantly decided by an overwhelming
majority in the negative; indeed, there was but one vote on the
Poaching side, and that was the vote of the orator who had
undertaken to advocate it, and who became quite an obnoxious
character--particularly to the Dullborough 'roughs,' who were about
as well informed on the matter as most other people. Distinguished
speakers were invited down, and very nearly came (but not quite).
Subscriptions were opened, and committees sat, and it would have
been far from a popular measure in the height of the excitement, to
have told Dullborough that it wasn't Stratford-upon-Avon. Yet,
after all these preparations, when the great festivity took place,
and the portrait, elevated aloft, surveyed the company as if it
were in danger of springing a mine of intellect and blowing itself
up, it did undoubtedly happen, according to the inscrutable
mysteries of things, that nobody could be induced, not to say to
touch upon Shakespeare, but to come within a mile of him, until the
crack speaker of Dullborough rose to propose the immortal memory.
Which he did with the perplexing and astonishing result that before
he had repeated the great name half-a-dozen times, or had been upon
his legs as many minutes, he was assailed with a general shout of


'Within so many yards of this Covent-garden lodging of mine, as
within so many yards of Westminster Abbey, Saint Paul's Cathedral,
the Houses of Parliament, the Prisons, the Courts of Justice, all
the Institutions that govern the land, I can find--MUST find,
whether I will or no--in the open streets, shameful instances of
neglect of children, intolerable toleration of the engenderment of
paupers, idlers, thieves, races of wretched and destructive
cripples both in body and mind, a misery to themselves, a misery to
the community, a disgrace to civilisation, and an outrage on
Christianity.--I know it to be a fact as easy of demonstration as
any sum in any of the elementary rules of arithmetic, that if the
State would begin its work and duty at the beginning, and would
with the strong hand take those children out of the streets, while
they are yet children, and wisely train them, it would make them a
part of England's glory, not its shame--of England's strength, not
its weakness--would raise good soldiers and sailors, and good
citizens, and many great men, out of the seeds of its criminal
population. Yet I go on bearing with the enormity as if it were
nothing, and I go on reading the Parliamentary Debates as if they
were something, and I concern myself far more about one railway-
bridge across a public thoroughfare, than about a dozen generations
of scrofula, ignorance, wickedness, prostitution, poverty, and
felony. I can slip out at my door, in the small hours after any
midnight, and, in one circuit of the purlieus of Covent-garden
Market, can behold a state of infancy and youth, as vile as if a
Bourbon sat upon the English throne; a great police force looking
on with authority to do no more than worry and hunt the dreadful
vermin into corners, and there leave them. Within the length of a
few streets I can find a workhouse, mismanaged with that dull
short-sighted obstinacy that its greatest opportunities as to the
children it receives are lost, and yet not a farthing saved to any
one. But the wheel goes round, and round, and round; and because
it goes round--so I am told by the politest authorities--it goes

Thus I reflected, one day in the Whitsun week last past, as I
floated down the Thames among the bridges, looking--not
inappropriately--at the drags that were hanging up at certain dirty
stairs to hook the drowned out, and at the numerous conveniences
provided to facilitate their tumbling in. My object in that
uncommercial journey called up another train of thought, and it ran
as follows:

'When I was at school, one of seventy boys, I wonder by what secret
understanding our attention began to wander when we had pored over
our books for some hours. I wonder by what ingenuity we brought on
that confused state of mind when sense became nonsense, when
figures wouldn't work, when dead languages wouldn't construe, when
live languages wouldn't be spoken, when memory wouldn't come, when
dulness and vacancy wouldn't go. I cannot remember that we ever
conspired to be sleepy after dinner, or that we ever particularly
wanted to be stupid, and to have flushed faces and hot beating
heads, or to find blank hopelessness and obscurity this afternoon
in what would become perfectly clear and bright in the freshness of
to-morrow morning. We suffered for these things, and they made us
miserable enough. Neither do I remember that we ever bound
ourselves by any secret oath or other solemn obligation, to find
the seats getting too hard to be sat upon after a certain time; or
to have intolerable twitches in our legs, rendering us aggressive
and malicious with those members; or to be troubled with a similar
uneasiness in our elbows, attended with fistic consequences to our
neighbours; or to carry two pounds of lead in the chest, four
pounds in the head, and several active blue-bottles in each ear.
Yet, for certain, we suffered under those distresses, and were
always charged at for labouring under them, as if we had brought
them on, of our own deliberate act and deed. As to the mental
portion of them being my own fault in my own case--I should like to
ask any well-trained and experienced teacher, not to say
psychologist. And as to the physical portion--I should like to ask

It happened that I had a small bundle of papers with me, on what is
called 'The Half-Time System' in schools. Referring to one of
those papers I found that the indefatigable MR. CHADWICK had been
beforehand with me, and had already asked Professor Owen: who had
handsomely replied that I was not to blame, but that, being
troubled with a skeleton, and having been constituted according to
certain natural laws, I and my skeleton were unfortunately bound by
those laws even in school--and had comported ourselves accordingly.
Much comforted by the good Professor's being on my side, I read on
to discover whether the indefatigable Mr. Chadwick had taken up the
mental part of my afflictions. I found that he had, and that he
WALTER SCOTT, and the common sense of mankind. For which I beg Mr.
Chadwick, if this should meet his eye, to accept my warm

Up to that time I had retained a misgiving that the seventy
unfortunates of whom I was one, must have been, without knowing it,
leagued together by the spirit of evil in a sort of perpetual Guy
Fawkes Plot, to grope about in vaults with dark lanterns after a
certain period of continuous study. But now the misgiving
vanished, and I floated on with a quieted mind to see the Half-Time
System in action. For that was the purpose of my journey, both by
steamboat on the Thames, and by very dirty railway on the shore.
To which last institution, I beg to recommend the legal use of coke
as engine-fuel, rather than the illegal use of coal; the
recommendation is quite disinterested, for I was most liberally
supplied with small coal on the journey, for which no charge was
made. I had not only my eyes, nose, and ears filled, but my hat,
and all my pockets, and my pocket-book, and my watch.

The V.D.S.C.R.C. (or Very Dirty and Small Coal Railway Company)
delivered me close to my destination, and I soon found the Half-
Time System established in spacious premises, and freely placed at
my convenience and disposal.

What would I see first of the Half-Time System? I chose Military
Drill. 'Atten-tion!' Instantly a hundred boys stood forth in the
paved yard as one boy; bright, quick, eager, steady, watchful for
the look of command, instant and ready for the word. Not only was
there complete precision--complete accord to the eye and to the
ear--but an alertness in the doing of the thing which deprived it,
curiously, of its monotonous or mechanical character. There was
perfect uniformity, and yet an individual spirit and emulation. No
spectator could doubt that the boys liked it. With non-
commissioned officers varying from a yard to a yard and a half
high, the result could not possibly have been attained otherwise.
They marched, and counter-marched, and formed in line and square,
and company, and single file and double file, and performed a
variety of evolutions; all most admirably. In respect of an air of
enjoyable understanding of what they were about, which seems to be
forbidden to English soldiers, the boys might have been small
French troops. When they were dismissed and the broadsword
exercise, limited to a much smaller number, succeeded, the boys who
had no part in that new drill, either looked on attentively, or
disported themselves in a gymnasium hard by. The steadiness of the
broadsword boys on their short legs, and the firmness with which
they sustained the different positions, was truly remarkable.

The broadsword exercise over, suddenly there was great excitement
and a rush. Naval Drill!

In the corner of the ground stood a decked mimic ship, with real
masts, yards, and sails--mainmast seventy feet high. At the word
of command from the Skipper of this ship--a mahogany-faced Old
Salt, with the indispensable quid in his cheek, the true nautical
roll, and all wonderfully complete--the rigging was covered with a
swarm of boys: one, the first to spring into the shrouds,
outstripping all the others, and resting on the truck of the main-
topmast in no time.

And now we stood out to sea, in a most amazing manner; the Skipper
himself, the whole crew, the Uncommercial, and all hands present,
implicitly believing that there was not a moment to lose, that the
wind had that instant chopped round and sprung up fair, and that we
were away on a voyage round the world. Get all sail upon her!
With a will, my lads! Lay out upon the main-yard there! Look
alive at the weather earring! Cheery, my boys! Let go the sheet,
now! Stand by at the braces, you! With a will, aloft there!
Belay, starboard watch! Fifer! Come aft, fifer, and give 'em a
tune! Forthwith, springs up fifer, fife in hand--smallest boy ever
seen--big lump on temple, having lately fallen down on a paving-
stone--gives 'em a tune with all his might and main. Hoo-roar,
fifer! With a will, my lads! Tip 'em a livelier one, fifer!
Fifer tips 'em a livelier one, and excitement increases. Shake 'em
out, my lads! Well done! There you have her! Pretty, pretty!
Every rag upon her she can carry, wind right astarn, and ship
cutting through the water fifteen knots an hour!

At this favourable moment of her voyage, I gave the alarm 'A man
overboard!' (on the gravel), but he was immediately recovered, none
the worse. Presently, I observed the Skipper overboard, but
forbore to mention it, as he seemed in no wise disconcerted by the
accident. Indeed, I soon came to regard the Skipper as an
amphibious creature, for he was so perpetually plunging overboard
to look up at the hands aloft, that he was oftener in the bosom of
the ocean than on deck. His pride in his crew on those occasions
was delightful, and the conventional unintelligibility of his
orders in the ears of uncommercial landlubbers and loblolly boys,
though they were always intelligible to the crew, was hardly less
pleasant. But we couldn't expect to go on in this way for ever;
dirty weather came on, and then worse weather, and when we least
expected it we got into tremendous difficulties. Screw loose in
the chart perhaps--something certainly wrong somewhere--but here we
were with breakers ahead, my lads, driving head on, slap on a lee
shore! The Skipper broached this terrific announcement in such
great agitation, that the small fifer, not fifeing now, but
standing looking on near the wheel with his fife under his arm,
seemed for the moment quite unboyed, though he speedily recovered
his presence of mind. In the trying circumstances that ensued, the
Skipper and the crew proved worthy of one another. The Skipper got
dreadfully hoarse, but otherwise was master of the situation. The
man at the wheel did wonders; all hands (except the fifer) were
turned up to wear ship; and I observed the fifer, when we were at
our greatest extremity, to refer to some document in his waistcoat-
pocket, which I conceived to be his will. I think she struck. I
was not myself conscious of any collision, but I saw the Skipper so
very often washed overboard and back again, that I could only
impute it to the beating of the ship. I am not enough of a seaman
to describe the manoeuvres by which we were saved, but they made
the Skipper very hot (French polishing his mahogany face) and the
crew very nimble, and succeeded to a marvel; for, within a few
minutes of the first alarm, we had wore ship and got her off, and
were all a-tauto--which I felt very grateful for: not that I knew
what it was, but that I perceived that we had not been all a-tauto
lately. Land now appeared on our weather-bow, and we shaped our
course for it, having the wind abeam, and frequently changing the
man at the helm, in order that every man might have his spell. We
worked into harbour under prosperous circumstances, and furled our
sails, and squared our yards, and made all ship-shape and handsome,
and so our voyage ended. When I complimented the Skipper at
parting on his exertions and those of his gallant crew, he informed
me that the latter were provided for the worst, all hands being
taught to swim and dive; and he added that the able seaman at the
main-topmast truck especially, could dive as deep as he could go

The next adventure that befell me in my visit to the Short-Timers,
was the sudden apparition of a military band. I had been
inspecting the hammocks of the crew of the good ship, when I saw
with astonishment that several musical instruments, brazen and of
great size, appeared to have suddenly developed two legs each, and
to be trotting about a yard. And my astonishment was heightened
when I observed a large drum, that had previously been leaning
helpless against a wall, taking up a stout position on four legs.
Approaching this drum and looking over it, I found two boys behind
it (it was too much for one), and then I found that each of the
brazen instruments had brought out a boy, and was going to
discourse sweet sounds. The boys--not omitting the fifer, now
playing a new instrument--were dressed in neat uniform, and stood
up in a circle at their music-stands, like any other Military Band.
They played a march or two, and then we had Cheer boys, Cheer, and
then we had Yankee Doodle, and we finished, as in loyal duty bound,
with God save the Queen. The band's proficiency was perfectly
wonderful, and it was not at all wonderful that the whole body
corporate of Short-Timers listened with faces of the liveliest
interest and pleasure.

What happened next among the Short-Timers? As if the band had
blown me into a great class-room out of their brazen tubes, IN a
great class-room I found myself now, with the whole choral force of
Short-Timers singing the praises of a summer's day to the
harmonium, and my small but highly respected friend the fifer
blazing away vocally, as if he had been saving up his wind for the
last twelvemonth; also the whole crew of the good ship Nameless
swarming up and down the scale as if they had never swarmed up and
down the rigging. This done, we threw our whole power into God
bless the Prince of Wales, and blessed his Royal Highness to such
an extent that, for my own Uncommercial part, I gasped again when
it was over. The moment this was done, we formed, with surpassing
freshness, into hollow squares, and fell to work at oral lessons as
if we never did, and had never thought of doing, anything else.

Let a veil be drawn over the self-committals into which the
Uncommercial Traveller would have been betrayed but for a discreet
reticence, coupled with an air of absolute wisdom on the part of
that artful personage. Take the square of five, multiply it by
fifteen, divide it by three, deduct eight from it, add four dozen
to it, give me the result in pence, and tell me how many eggs I
could get for it at three farthings apiece. The problem is hardly
stated, when a dozen small boys pour out answers. Some wide, some
very nearly right, some worked as far as they go with such
accuracy, as at once to show what link of the chain has been
dropped in the hurry. For the moment, none are quite right; but
behold a labouring spirit beating the buttons on its corporeal
waistcoat, in a process of internal calculation, and knitting an
accidental bump on its corporeal forehead in a concentration of
mental arithmetic! It is my honourable friend (if he will allow me
to call him so) the fifer. With right arm eagerly extended in
token of being inspired with an answer, and with right leg
foremost, the fifer solves the mystery: then recalls both arm and
leg, and with bump in ambush awaits the next poser. Take the
square of three, multiply it by seven, divide it by four, add fifty
to it, take thirteen from it, multiply it by two, double it, give
me the result in pence, and say how many halfpence. Wise as the
serpent is the four feet of performer on the nearest approach to
that instrument, whose right arm instantly appears, and quenches
this arithmetical fire. Tell me something about Great Britain,
tell me something about its principal productions, tell me
something about its ports, tell me something about its seas and
rivers, tell me something about coal, iron, cotton, timber, tin,
and turpentine. The hollow square bristles with extended right
arms; but ever faithful to fact is the fifer, ever wise as the
serpent is the performer on that instrument, ever prominently
buoyant and brilliant are all members of the band. I observe the
player of the cymbals to dash at a sounding answer now and then
rather than not cut in at all; but I take that to be in the way of
his instrument. All these questions, and many such, are put on the
spur of the moment, and by one who has never examined these boys.
The Uncommercial, invited to add another, falteringly demands how
many birthdays a man born on the twenty-ninth of February will have
had on completing his fiftieth year? A general perception of trap
and pitfall instantly arises, and the fifer is seen to retire
behind the corduroys of his next neighbours, as perceiving special
necessity for collecting himself and communing with his mind.
Meanwhile, the wisdom of the serpent suggests that the man will
have had only one birthday in all that time, for how can any man
have more than one, seeing that he is born once and dies once? The
blushing Uncommercial stands corrected, and amends the formula.
Pondering ensues, two or three wrong answers are offered, and
Cymbals strikes up 'Six!' but doesn't know why. Then modestly
emerging from his Academic Grove of corduroys appears the fifer,
right arm extended, right leg foremost, bump irradiated. 'Twelve,
and two over!'

The feminine Short-Timers passed a similar examination, and very
creditably too. Would have done better perhaps, with a little more
geniality on the part of their pupil-teacher; for a cold eye, my
young friend, and a hard, abrupt manner, are not by any means the
powerful engines that your innocence supposes them to be. Both
girls and boys wrote excellently, from copy and dictation; both
could cook; both could mend their own clothes; both could clean up
everything about them in an orderly and skilful way, the girls
having womanly household knowledge superadded. Order and method
began in the songs of the Infant School which I visited likewise,
and they were even in their dwarf degree to be found in the
Nursery, where the Uncommercial walking-stick was carried off with
acclamations, and where 'the Doctor'--a medical gentleman of two,
who took his degree on the night when he was found at an
apothecary's door--did the honours of the establishment with great
urbanity and gaiety.

These have long been excellent schools; long before the days of the
Short-Time. I first saw them, twelve or fifteen years ago. But
since the introduction of the Short-Time system it has been proved
here that eighteen hours a week of book-learning are more
profitable than thirty-six, and that the pupils are far quicker and
brighter than of yore. The good influences of music on the whole
body of children have likewise been surprisingly proved. Obviously
another of the immense advantages of the Short-Time system to the
cause of good education is the great diminution of its cost, and of
the period of time over which it extends. The last is a most
important consideration, as poor parents are always impatient to
profit by their children's labour.

It will be objected: Firstly, that this is all very well, but
special local advantages and special selection of children must be
necessary to such success. Secondly, that this is all very well,
but must be very expensive. Thirdly, that this is all very well,
but we have no proof of the results, sir, no proof.

On the first head of local advantages and special selection. Would
Limehouse Hole be picked out for the site of a Children's Paradise?
Or would the legitimate and illegitimate pauper children of the
long-shore population of such a riverside district, be regarded as
unusually favourable specimens to work with? Yet these schools are
at Limehouse, and are the Pauper Schools of the Stepney Pauper

On the second head of expense. Would sixpence a week be considered
a very large cost for the education of each pupil, including all
salaries of teachers and rations of teachers? But supposing the
cost were not sixpence a week, not fivepence? it is FOURPENCE-

On the third head of no proof, sir, no proof. Is there any proof
in the facts that Pupil Teachers more in number, and more highly
qualified, have been produced here under the Short-Time system than
under the Long-Time system? That the Short-Timers, in a writing
competition, beat the Long-Timers of a first-class National School?
That the sailor-boys are in such demand for merchant ships, that
whereas, before they were trained, 10l. premium used to be given
with each boy--too often to some greedy brute of a drunken skipper,
who disappeared before the term of apprenticeship was out, if the
ill-used boy didn't--captains of the best character now take these
boys more than willingly, with no premium at all? That they are
also much esteemed in the Royal Navy, which they prefer, 'because
everything is so neat and clean and orderly'? Or, is there any
proof in Naval captains writing 'Your little fellows are all that I
can desire'? Or, is there any proof in such testimony as this:
'The owner of a vessel called at the school, and said that as his
ship was going down Channel on her last voyage, with one of the
boys from the school on board, the pilot said, "It would be as well
if the royal were lowered; I wish it were down." Without waiting
for any orders, and unobserved by the pilot, the lad, whom they had
taken on board from the school, instantly mounted the mast and
lowered the royal, and at the next glance of the pilot to the
masthead, he perceived that the sail had been let down. He
exclaimed, "Who's done that job?" The owner, who was on board,
said, "That was the little fellow whom I put on board two days
ago." The pilot immediately said, "Why, where could he have been
brought up?" The boy had never seen the sea or been on a real ship
before'? Or, is there any proof in these boys being in greater
demand for Regimental Bands than the Union can meet? Or, in
ninety-eight of them having gone into Regimental Bands in three
years? Or, in twelve of them being in the band of one regiment?
Or, in the colonel of that regiment writing, 'We want six more
boys; they are excellent lads'? Or, in one of the boys having
risen to be band-corporal in the same regiment? Or, in employers
of all kinds chorusing, 'Give us drilled boys, for they are prompt,
obedient, and punctual'? Other proofs I have myself beheld with
these Uncommercial eyes, though I do not regard myself as having a
right to relate in what social positions they have seen respected
men and women who were once pauper children of the Stepney Union.

Into what admirable soldiers others of these boys have the
capabilities for being turned, I need not point out. Many of them
are always ambitious of military service; and once upon a time when
an old boy came back to see the old place, a cavalry soldier all
complete, WITH HIS SPURS ON, such a yearning broke out to get into
cavalry regiments and wear those sublime appendages, that it was
one of the greatest excitements ever known in the school. The
girls make excellent domestic servants, and at certain periods come
back, a score or two at a time, to see the old building, and to
take tea with the old teachers, and to hear the old band, and to
see the old ship with her masts towering up above the neighbouring
roofs and chimneys. As to the physical health of these schools, it
is so exceptionally remarkable (simply because the sanitary
regulations are as good as the other educational arrangements),
that when Mr. TUFNELL, the Inspector, first stated it in a report,
he was supposed, in spite of his high character, to have been
betrayed into some extraordinary mistake or exaggeration. In the
moral health of these schools--where corporal punishment is
unknown--Truthfulness stands high. When the ship was first
erected, the boys were forbidden to go aloft, until the nets, which
are now always there, were stretched as a precaution against
accidents. Certain boys, in their eagerness, disobeyed the
injunction, got out of window in the early daylight, and climbed to
the masthead. One boy unfortunately fell, and was killed. There
was no clue to the others; but all the boys were assembled, and the
chairman of the Board addressed them. 'I promise nothing; you see
what a dreadful thing has happened; you know what a grave offence
it is that has led to such a consequence; I cannot say what will be
done with the offenders; but, boys, you have been trained here,
above all things, to respect the truth. I want the truth. Who are
the delinquents?' Instantly, the whole number of boys concerned,
separated from the rest, and stood out.

Now, the head and heart of that gentleman (it is needless to say, a
good head and a good heart) have been deeply interested in these
schools for many years, and are so still; and the establishment is
very fortunate in a most admirable master, and moreover the schools
of the Stepney Union cannot have got to be what they are, without
the Stepney Board of Guardians having been earnest and humane men
strongly imbued with a sense of their responsibility. But what one
set of men can do in this wise, another set of men can do; and this
is a noble example to all other Bodies and Unions, and a noble
example to the State. Followed, and enlarged upon by its
enforcement on bad parents, it would clear London streets of the
most terrible objects they smite the sight with--myriads of little
children who awfully reverse Our Saviour's words, and are not of
the Kingdom of Heaven, but of the Kingdom of Hell.

Clear the public streets of such shame, and the public conscience
of such reproach? Ah! Almost prophetic, surely, the child's

When will that be,
Say the bells of Step-ney!


Behold me on my way to an Emigrant Ship, on a hot morning early in
June. My road lies through that part of London generally known to
the initiated as 'Down by the Docks.' Down by the Docks, is home
to a good many people--to too many, if I may judge from the
overflow of local population in the streets--but my nose insinuates
that the number to whom it is Sweet Home might be easily counted.
Down by the Docks, is a region I would choose as my point of
embarkation aboard ship if I were an emigrant. It would present my
intention to me in such a sensible light; it would show me so many
things to be run away from.

Down by the Docks, they eat the largest oysters and scatter the
roughest oyster-shells, known to the descendants of Saint George
and the Dragon. Down by the Docks, they consume the slimiest of
shell-fish, which seem to have been scraped off the copper bottoms
of ships. Down by the Docks, the vegetables at green-grocers'
doors acquire a saline and a scaly look, as if they had been
crossed with fish and seaweed. Down by the Docks, they 'board
seamen' at the eating-houses, the public-houses, the slop-shops,
the coffee-shops, the tally-shops, all kinds of shops mentionable
and unmentionable--board them, as it were, in the piratical sense,
making them bleed terribly, and giving no quarter. Down by the
Docks, the seamen roam in mid-street and mid-day, their pockets
inside out, and their heads no better. Down by the Docks, the
daughters of wave-ruling Britannia also rove, clad in silken
attire, with uncovered tresses streaming in the breeze, bandanna
kerchiefs floating from their shoulders, and crinoline not wanting.
Down by the Docks, you may hear the Incomparable Joe Jackson sing
the Standard of England, with a hornpipe, any night; or any day may
see at the waxwork, for a penny and no waiting, him as killed the
policeman at Acton and suffered for it. Down by the Docks, you may
buy polonies, saveloys, and sausage preparations various, if you
are not particular what they are made of besides seasoning. Down
by the Docks, the children of Israel creep into any gloomy cribs
and entries they can hire, and hang slops there--pewter watches,
sou'-wester hats, waterproof overalls--'firtht rate articleth,
Thjack.' Down by the Docks, such dealers exhibiting on a frame a
complete nautical suit without the refinement of a waxen visage in
the hat, present the imaginary wearer as drooping at the yard-arm,
with his seafaring and earthfaring troubles over. Down by the
Docks, the placards in the shops apostrophise the customer, knowing
him familiarly beforehand, as, 'Look here, Jack!' 'Here's your
sort, my lad!' 'Try our sea-going mixed, at two and nine!' 'The
right kit for the British tar!' 'Ship ahoy!' 'Splice the main-
brace, brother!' 'Come, cheer up, my lads. We've the best liquors
here, And you'll find something new In our wonderful Beer!' Down
by the Docks, the pawnbroker lends money on Union-Jack pocket-
handkerchiefs, on watches with little ships pitching fore and aft
on the dial, on telescopes, nautical instruments in cases, and
such-like. Down by the Docks, the apothecary sets up in business
on the wretchedest scale--chiefly on lint and plaster for the
strapping of wounds--and with no bright bottles, and with no little
drawers. Down by the Docks, the shabby undertaker's shop will bury
you for next to nothing, after the Malay or Chinaman has stabbed
you for nothing at all: so you can hardly hope to make a cheaper
end. Down by the Docks, anybody drunk will quarrel with anybody
drunk or sober, and everybody else will have a hand in it, and on
the shortest notice you may revolve in a whirlpool of red shirts,
shaggy beards, wild heads of hair, bare tattooed arms, Britannia's
daughters, malice, mud, maundering, and madness. Down by the
Docks, scraping fiddles go in the public-houses all day long, and,
shrill above their din and all the din, rises the screeching of
innumerable parrots brought from foreign parts, who appear to be
very much astonished by what they find on these native shores of
ours. Possibly the parrots don't know, possibly they do, that Down
by the Docks is the road to the Pacific Ocean, with its lovely
islands, where the savage girls plait flowers, and the savage boys
carve cocoa-nut shells, and the grim blind idols muse in their
shady groves to exactly the same purpose as the priests and chiefs.
And possibly the parrots don't know, possibly they do, that the
noble savage is a wearisome impostor wherever he is, and has five
hundred thousand volumes of indifferent rhyme, and no reason, to
answer for.

Shadwell church! Pleasant whispers of there being a fresher air
down the river than down by the Docks, go pursuing one another,
playfully, in and out of the openings in its spire. Gigantic in
the basin just beyond the church, looms my Emigrant Ship: her
name, the Amazon. Her figure-head is not disfigured as those
beauteous founders of the race of strong-minded women are fabled to
have been, for the convenience of drawing the bow; but I sympathise
with the carver:

A flattering carver who made it his care
To carve busts as they ought to be--not as they were.

My Emigrant Ship lies broadside-on to the wharf. Two great
gangways made of spars and planks connect her with the wharf; and
up and down these gangways, perpetually crowding to and fro and in
and out, like ants, are the Emigrants who are going to sail in my
Emigrant Ship. Some with cabbages, some with loaves of bread, some
with cheese and butter, some with milk and beer, some with boxes,
beds, and bundles, some with babies--nearly all with children--
nearly all with bran-new tin cans for their daily allowance of
water, uncomfortably suggestive of a tin flavour in the drink. To
and fro, up and down, aboard and ashore, swarming here and there
and everywhere, my Emigrants. And still as the Dock-Gate swings
upon its hinges, cabs appear, and carts appear, and vans appear,
bringing more of my Emigrants, with more cabbages, more loaves,
more cheese and butter, more milk and beer, more boxes, beds, and
bundles, more tin cans, and on those shipping investments
accumulated compound interest of children.

I go aboard my Emigrant Ship. I go first to the great cabin, and
find it in the usual condition of a Cabin at that pass. Perspiring
landsmen, with loose papers, and with pens and inkstands, pervade
it; and the general appearance of things is as if the late Mr.
Amazon's funeral had just come home from the cemetery, and the
disconsolate Mrs. Amazon's trustees found the affairs in great
disorder, and were looking high and low for the will. I go out on
the poop-deck, for air, and surveying the emigrants on the deck
below (indeed they are crowded all about me, up there too), find
more pens and inkstands in action, and more papers, and
interminable complication respecting accounts with individuals for
tin cans and what not. But nobody is in an ill-temper, nobody is
the worse for drink, nobody swears an oath or uses a coarse word,
nobody appears depressed, nobody is weeping, and down upon the deck
in every corner where it is possible to find a few square feet to
kneel, crouch, or lie in, people, in every unsuitable attitude for
writing, are writing letters.

Now, I have seen emigrant ships before this day in June. And these
people are so strikingly different from all other people in like
circumstances whom I have ever seen, that I wonder aloud, 'What
WOULD a stranger suppose these emigrants to be!'

The vigilant, bright face of the weather-browned captain of the
Amazon is at my shoulder, and he says, 'What, indeed! The most of
these came aboard yesterday evening. They came from various parts
of England in small parties that had never seen one another before.
Yet they had not been a couple of hours on board, when they
established their own police, made their own regulations, and set
their own watches at all the hatchways. Before nine o'clock, the
ship was as orderly and as quiet as a man-of-war.'

I looked about me again, and saw the letter-writing going on with
the most curious composure. Perfectly abstracted in the midst of
the crowd; while great casks were swinging aloft, and being lowered
into the hold; while hot agents were hurrying up and down,
adjusting the interminable accounts; while two hundred strangers
were searching everywhere for two hundred other strangers, and were
asking questions about them of two hundred more; while the children
played up and down all the steps, and in and out among all the
people's legs, and were beheld, to the general dismay, toppling
over all the dangerous places; the letter-writers wrote on calmly.
On the starboard side of the ship, a grizzled man dictated a long
letter to another grizzled man in an immense fur cap: which letter
was of so profound a quality, that it became necessary for the
amanuensis at intervals to take off his fur cap in both his hands,
for the ventilation of his brain, and stare at him who dictated, as
a man of many mysteries who was worth looking at. On the lar-board
side, a woman had covered a belaying-pin with a white cloth to make
a neat desk of it, and was sitting on a little box, writing with
the deliberation of a bookkeeper. Down, upon her breast on the
planks of the deck at this woman's feet, with her head diving in
under a beam of the bulwarks on that side, as an eligible place of
refuge for her sheet of paper, a neat and pretty girl wrote for a
good hour (she fainted at last), only rising to the surface
occasionally for a dip of ink. Alongside the boat, close to me on
the poop-deck, another girl, a fresh, well-grown country girl, was
writing another letter on the bare deck. Later in the day, when
this self-same boat was filled with a choir who sang glees and
catches for a long time, one of the singers, a girl, sang her part
mechanically all the while, and wrote a letter in the bottom of the
boat while doing so.

'A stranger would be puzzled to guess the right name for these
people, Mr. Uncommercial,' says the captain.

'Indeed he would.'

'If you hadn't known, could you ever have supposed--?'

'How could I! I should have said they were in their degree, the
pick and flower of England.'

'So should I,' says the captain.

'How many are they?'

'Eight hundred in round numbers.'

I went between-decks, where the families with children swarmed in
the dark, where unavoidable confusion had been caused by the last
arrivals, and where the confusion was increased by the little
preparations for dinner that were going on in each group. A few
women here and there, had got lost, and were laughing at it, and
asking their way to their own people, or out on deck again. A few
of the poor children were crying; but otherwise the universal
cheerfulness was amazing. 'We shall shake down by to-morrow.' 'We
shall come all right in a day or so.' 'We shall have more light at
sea.' Such phrases I heard everywhere, as I groped my way among
chests and barrels and beams and unstowed cargo and ring-bolts and
Emigrants, down to the lower-deck, and thence up to the light of
day again, and to my former station.

Surely, an extraordinary people in their power of self-abstraction!
All the former letter-writers were still writing calmly, and many
more letter-writers had broken out in my absence. A boy with a bag
of books in his hand and a slate under his arm, emerged from below,
concentrated himself in my neighbourhood (espying a convenient
skylight for his purpose), and went to work at a sum as if he were
stone deaf. A father and mother and several young children, on the
main deck below me, had formed a family circle close to the foot of
the crowded restless gangway, where the children made a nest for
themselves in a coil of rope, and the father and mother, she
suckling the youngest, discussed family affairs as peaceably as if
they were in perfect retirement. I think the most noticeable
characteristic in the eight hundred as a mass, was their exemption
from hurry.

Eight hundred what? 'Geese, villain?' EIGHT HUNDRED MORMONS. I,
Uncommercial Traveller for the firm of Human Interest Brothers, had
come aboard this Emigrant Ship to see what Eight hundred Latter-day
Saints were like, and I found them (to the rout and overthrow of
all my expectations) like what I now describe with scrupulous

The Mormon Agent who had been active in getting them together, and
in making the contract with my friends the owners of the ship to
take them as far as New York on their way to the Great Salt Lake,
was pointed out to me. A compactly-made handsome man in black,
rather short, with rich brown hair and beard, and clear bright
eyes. From his speech, I should set him down as American.
Probably, a man who had 'knocked about the world' pretty much. A
man with a frank open manner, and unshrinking look; withal a man of
great quickness. I believe he was wholly ignorant of my
Uncommercial individuality, and consequently of my immense
Uncommercial importance.

UNCOMMERCIAL. These are a very fine set of people you have brought
together here.

MORMON AGENT. Yes, sir, they are a VERY fine set of people.

UNCOMMERCIAL (looking about). Indeed, I think it would be
difficult to find Eight hundred people together anywhere else, and
find so much beauty and so much strength and capacity for work
among them.

MORMON AGENT (not looking about, but looking steadily at
Uncommercial). I think so.--We sent out about a thousand more,
yes'day, from Liverpool.

UNCOMMERCIAL. You are not going with these emigrants?

MORMON AGENT. No, sir. I remain.

UNCOMMERCIAL. But you have been in the Mormon Territory?

MORMON AGENT. Yes; I left Utah about three years ago.

UNCOMMERCIAL. It is surprising to me that these people are all so
cheery, and make so little of the immense distance before them.

MORMON AGENT. Well, you see; many of 'em have friends out at Utah,
and many of 'em look forward to meeting friends on the way.


MORMON AGENT. This way 'tis. This ship lands 'em in New York
City. Then they go on by rail right away beyond St. Louis, to that
part of the Banks of the Missouri where they strike the Plains.
There, waggons from the settlement meet 'em to bear 'em company on
their journey 'cross-twelve hundred miles about. Industrious
people who come out to the settlement soon get waggons of their
own, and so the friends of some of these will come down in their
own waggons to meet 'em. They look forward to that, greatly.

UNCOMMERCIAL. On their long journey across the Desert, do you arm

MORMON AGENT. Mostly you would find they have arms of some kind or
another already with them. Such as had not arms we should arm
across the Plains, for the general protection and defence.

UNCOMMERCIAL. Will these waggons bring down any produce to the

MORMON AGENT. Well, since the war broke out, we've taken to
growing cotton, and they'll likely bring down cotton to be
exchanged for machinery. We want machinery. Also we have taken to
growing indigo, which is a fine commodity for profit. It has been
found that the climate on the further side of the Great Salt Lake
suits well for raising indigo.

UNCOMMERCIAL. I am told that these people now on board are
principally from the South of England?

MORMON AGENT. And from Wales. That's true.

UNCOMMERCIAL. Do you get many Scotch?


UNCOMMERCIAL. Highlanders, for instance?

MORMON AGENT. No, not Highlanders. They ain't interested enough
in universal brotherhood and peace and good will.

UNCOMMERCIAL. The old fighting blood is strong in them?

MORMON AGENT. Well, yes. And besides; they've no faith.

UNCOMMERCIAL (who has been burning to get at the Prophet Joe Smith,
and seems to discover an opening). Faith in--!

MORMON AGENT (far too many for Uncommercial). Well.--In anything!

Similarly on this same head, the Uncommercial underwent
discomfiture from a Wiltshire labourer: a simple, fresh-coloured
farm-labourer, of eight-and-thirty, who at one time stood beside
him looking on at new arrivals, and with whom he held this

UNCOMMERCIAL. Would you mind my asking you what part of the
country you come from?

WILTSHIRE. Not a bit. Theer! (exultingly) I've worked all my life
o' Salisbury Plain, right under the shadder o' Stonehenge. You
mightn't think it, but I haive.

UNCOMMERCIAL. And a pleasant country too.

WILTSHIRE. Ah! 'Tis a pleasant country.

UNCOMMERCIAL. Have you any family on board?

WILTSHIRE. Two children, boy and gal. I am a widderer, _I_ am,
and I'm going out alonger my boy and gal. That's my gal, and she's
a fine gal o' sixteen (pointing out the girl who is writing by the
boat). I'll go and fetch my boy. I'd like to show you my boy.
(Here Wiltshire disappears, and presently comes back with a big,
shy boy of twelve, in a superabundance of boots, who is not at all
glad to be presented.) He is a fine boy too, and a boy fur to
work! (Boy having undutifully bolted, Wiltshire drops him.)

UNCOMMERCIAL. It must cost you a great deal of money to go so far,
three strong.

WILTSHIRE. A power of money. Theer! Eight shillen a week, eight
shillen a week, eight shillen a week, put by out of the week's
wages for ever so long.

UNCOMMERCIAL. I wonder how you did it.

WILTSHIRE (recognising in this a kindred spirit). See theer now!
I wonder how I done it! But what with a bit o' subscription heer,
and what with a bit o' help theer, it were done at last, though I
don't hardly know how. Then it were unfort'net for us, you see, as
we got kep' in Bristol so long--nigh a fortnight, it were--on
accounts of a mistake wi' Brother Halliday. Swaller'd up money, it
did, when we might have come straight on.

UNCOMMERCIAL (delicately approaching Joe Smith). You are of the
Mormon religion, of course?

WILTSHIRE (confidently). O yes, I'm a Mormon. (Then
reflectively.) I'm a Mormon. (Then, looking round the ship,
feigns to descry a particular friend in an empty spot, and evades
the Uncommercial for evermore.)

After a noontide pause for dinner, during which my Emigrants were
nearly all between-decks, and the Amazon looked deserted, a general
muster took place. The muster was for the ceremony of passing the
Government Inspector and the Doctor. Those authorities held their
temporary state amidships, by a cask or two; and, knowing that the
whole Eight hundred emigrants must come face to face with them, I
took my station behind the two. They knew nothing whatever of me,
I believe, and my testimony to the unpretending gentleness and good
nature with which they discharged their duty, may be of the greater
worth. There was not the slightest flavour of the Circumlocution
Office about their proceedings.

The emigrants were now all on deck. They were densely crowded aft,
and swarmed upon the poop-deck like bees. Two or three Mormon
agents stood ready to hand them on to the Inspector, and to hand
them forward when they had passed. By what successful means, a
special aptitude for organisation had been infused into these
people, I am, of course, unable to report. But I know that, even
now, there was no disorder, hurry, or difficulty.

All being ready, the first group are handed on. That member of the
party who is entrusted with the passenger-ticket for the whole, has
been warned by one of the agents to have it ready, and here it is
in his hand. In every instance through the whole eight hundred,
without an exception, this paper is always ready.

INSPECTOR (reading the ticket). Jessie Jobson, Sophronia Jobson,
Jessie Jobson again, Matilda Jobson, William Jobson, Jane Jobson,
Matilda Jobson again, Brigham Jobson, Leonardo Jobson, and Orson
Jobson. Are you all here? (glancing at the party, over his


This group is composed of an old grandfather and grandmother, their
married son and his wife, and THEIR family of children. Orson
Jobson is a little child asleep in his mother's arms. The Doctor,
with a kind word or so, lifts up the corner of the mother's shawl,
looks at the child's face, and touches the little clenched hand.
If we were all as well as Orson Jobson, doctoring would be a poor

INSPECTOR. Quite right, Jessie Jobson. Take your ticket, Jessie,
and pass on.

And away they go. Mormon agent, skilful and quiet, hands them on.
Mormon agent, skilful and quiet, hands next party up.

INSPECTOR (reading ticket again). Susannah Cleverly and William
Cleverly. Brother and sister, eh?

SISTER (young woman of business, hustling slow brother). Yes, sir.

INSPECTOR. Very good, Susannah Cleverly. Take your ticket,
Susannah, and take care of it.

And away they go.

INSPECTOR (taking ticket again). Sampson Dibble and Dorothy Dibble
(surveying a very old couple over his spectacles, with some
surprise). Your husband quite blind, Mrs. Dibble?

MRS. DIBBLE. Yes, sir, he be stone-blind.

MR. DIBBLE (addressing the mast). Yes, sir, I be stone-blind.

INSPECTOR. That's a bad job. Take your ticket, Mrs. Dibble, and
don't lose it, and pass on.

Doctor taps Mr. Dibble on the eyebrow with his forefinger, and away
they go.

INSPECTOR (taking ticket again). Anastatia Weedle.

ANASTATIA (a pretty girl, in a bright Garibaldi, this morning
elected by universal suffrage the Beauty of the Ship). That is me,

INSPECTOR. Going alone, Anastatia?

ANASTATIA (shaking her curls). I am with Mrs. Jobson, sir, but
I've got separated for the moment.

INSPECTOR. Oh! You are with the Jobsons? Quite right. That'll
do, Miss Weedle. Don't lose your ticket.

Away she goes, and joins the Jobsons who are waiting for her, and
stoops and kisses Brigham Jobson--who appears to be considered too
young for the purpose, by several Mormons rising twenty, who are
looking on. Before her extensive skirts have departed from the
casks, a decent widow stands there with four children, and so the
roll goes.

The faces of some of the Welsh people, among whom there were many
old persons, were certainly the least intelligent. Some of these
emigrants would have bungled sorely, but for the directing hand
that was always ready. The intelligence here was unquestionably of
a low order, and the heads were of a poor type. Generally the case
was the reverse. There were many worn faces bearing traces of
patient poverty and hard work, and there was great steadiness of
purpose and much undemonstrative self-respect among this class. A
few young men were going singly. Several girls were going, two or
three together. These latter I found it very difficult to refer
back, in my mind, to their relinquished homes and pursuits.
Perhaps they were more like country milliners, and pupil teachers
rather tawdrily dressed, than any other classes of young women. I
noticed, among many little ornaments worn, more than one
photograph-brooch of the Princess of Wales, and also of the late
Prince Consort. Some single women of from thirty to forty, whom
one might suppose to be embroiderers, or straw-bonnet-makers, were
obviously going out in quest of husbands, as finer ladies go to
India. That they had any distinct notions of a plurality of
husbands or wives, I do not believe. To suppose the family groups
of whom the majority of emigrants were composed, polygamically
possessed, would be to suppose an absurdity, manifest to any one
who saw the fathers and mothers.

I should say (I had no means of ascertaining the fact) that most
familiar kinds of handicraft trades were represented here. Farm-
labourers, shepherds, and the like, had their full share of
representation, but I doubt if they preponderated. It was
interesting to see how the leading spirit in the family circle
never failed to show itself, even in the simple process of
answering to the names as they were called, and checking off the
owners of the names. Sometimes it was the father, much oftener the
mother, sometimes a quick little girl second or third in order of
seniority. It seemed to occur for the first time to some heavy
fathers, what large families they had; and their eyes rolled about,
during the calling of the list, as if they half misdoubted some
other family to have been smuggled into their own. Among all the
fine handsome children, I observed but two with marks upon their
necks that were probably scrofulous. Out of the whole number of
emigrants, but one old woman was temporarily set aside by the
doctor, on suspicion of fever; but even she afterwards obtained a
clean bill of health.

When all had 'passed,' and the afternoon began to wear on, a black
box became visible on deck, which box was in charge of certain
personages also in black, of whom only one had the conventional air
of an itinerant preacher. This box contained a supply of hymn-
books, neatly printed and got up, published at Liverpool, and also
in London at the 'Latter-Day Saints' Book Depot, 30, Florence-
street.' Some copies were handsomely bound; the plainer were the
more in request, and many were bought. The title ran: 'Sacred
Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Church of Jesus Church of Latter-
Day Saints.' The Preface, dated Manchester, 1840, ran thus:- 'The
Saints in this country have been very desirous for a Hymn Book
adapted to their faith and worship, that they might sing the truth
with an understanding heart, and express their praise, joy, and
gratitude in songs adapted to the New and Everlasting Covenant. In
accordance with their wishes, we have selected the following
volume, which we hope will prove acceptable until a greater variety
can be added. With sentiments of high consideration and esteem, we
subscribe ourselves your brethren in the New and Everlasting
book--by no means explanatory to myself of the New and Everlasting
Covenant, and not at all making my heart an understanding one on
the subject of that mystery--a hymn was sung, which did not attract
any great amount of attention, and was supported by a rather select
circle. But the choir in the boat was very popular and pleasant;
and there was to have been a Band, only the Cornet was late in
coming on board. In the course of the afternoon, a mother appeared
from shore, in search of her daughter, 'who had run away with the
Mormons.' She received every assistance from the Inspector, but
her daughter was not found to be on board. The saints did not seem
to me, particularly interested in finding her.

Towards five o'clock, the galley became full of tea-kettles, and an
agreeable fragrance of tea pervaded the ship. There was no
scrambling or jostling for the hot water, no ill humour, no
quarrelling. As the Amazon was to sail with the next tide, and as
it would not be high water before two o'clock in the morning, I
left her with her tea in full action, and her idle Steam Tug lying
by, deputing steam and smoke for the time being to the Tea-kettles.

I afterwards learned that a Despatch was sent home by the captain
before he struck out into the wide Atlantic, highly extolling the
behaviour of these Emigrants, and the perfect order and propriety
of all their social arrangements. What is in store for the poor
people on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, what happy delusions
they are labouring under now, on what miserable blindness their
eyes may be opened then, I do not pretend to say. But I went on
board their ship to bear testimony against them if they deserved
it, as I fully believed they would; to my great astonishment they
did not deserve it; and my predispositions and tendencies must not
affect me as an honest witness. I went over the Amazon's side,
feeling it impossible to deny that, so far, some remarkable
influence had produced a remarkable result, which better known
influences have often missed. *

* After this Uncommercial Journey was printed, I happened to
mention the experience it describes to Lord Houghton. That
gentleman then showed me an article of his writing, in The
Edinburgh Review for January, 1862, which is highly remarkable for
its philosophical and literary research concerning these Latter-Day
Saints. I find in it the following sentences:- 'The Select
Committee of the House of Commons on emigrant ships for 1854
summoned the Mormon agent and passenger-broker before it, and came
to the conclusion that no ships under the provisions of the
"Passengers Act" could be depended upon for comfort and security in
the same degree as those under his administration. The Mormon ship
is a Family under strong and accepted discipline, with every
provision for comfort, decorum and internal peace.'


When I think I deserve particularly well of myself, and have earned
the right to enjoy a little treat, I stroll from Covent-garden into
the City of London, after business-hours there, on a Saturday, or--
better yet--on a Sunday, and roam about its deserted nooks and
corners. It is necessary to the full enjoyment of these journeys
that they should be made in summer-time, for then the retired spots
that I love to haunt, are at their idlest and dullest. A gentle
fall of rain is not objectionable, and a warm mist sets off my
favourite retreats to decided advantage.

Among these, City Churchyards hold a high place. Such strange
churchyards hide in the City of London; churchyards sometimes so
entirely detached from churches, always so pressed upon by houses;
so small, so rank, so silent, so forgotten, except by the few
people who ever look down into them from their smoky windows. As I
stand peeping in through the iron gates and rails, I can peel the
rusty metal off, like bark from an old tree. The illegible
tombstones are all lop-sided, the grave-mounds lost their shape in
the rains of a hundred years ago, the Lombardy Poplar or Plane-Tree
that was once a drysalter's daughter and several common-councilmen,
has withered like those worthies, and its departed leaves are dust
beneath it. Contagion of slow ruin overhangs the place. The
discoloured tiled roofs of the environing buildings stand so awry,
that they can hardly be proof against any stress of weather. Old
crazy stacks of chimneys seem to look down as they overhang,
dubiously calculating how far they will have to fall. In an angle
of the walls, what was once the tool-house of the grave-digger rots
away, encrusted with toadstools. Pipes and spouts for carrying off
the rain from the encompassing gables, broken or feloniously cut
for old lead long ago, now let the rain drip and splash as it list,
upon the weedy earth. Sometimes there is a rusty pump somewhere
near, and, as I look in at the rails and meditate, I hear it
working under an unknown hand with a creaking protest: as though
the departed in the churchyard urged, 'Let us lie here in peace;
don't suck us up and drink us!'

One of my best beloved churchyards, I call the churchyard of Saint
Ghastly Grim; touching what men in general call it, I have no
information. It lies at the heart of the City, and the Blackwall
Railway shrieks at it daily. It is a small small churchyard, with
a ferocious, strong, spiked iron gate, like a jail. This gate is
ornamented with skulls and cross-bones, larger than the life,
wrought in stone; but it likewise came into the mind of Saint
Ghastly Grim, that to stick iron spikes a-top of the stone skulls,
as though they were impaled, would be a pleasant device. Therefore
the skulls grin aloft horribly, thrust through and through with
iron spears. Hence, there is attraction of repulsion for me in
Saint Ghastly Grim, and, having often contemplated it in the
daylight and the dark, I once felt drawn towards it in a
thunderstorm at midnight. 'Why not?' I said, in self-excuse. 'I
have been to see the Colosseum by the light of the moon; is it
worse to go to see Saint Ghastly Grim by the light of the
lightning?' I repaired to the Saint in a hackney cab, and found
the skulls most effective, having the air of a public execution,
and seeming, as the lightning flashed, to wink and grin with the
pain of the spikes. Having no other person to whom to impart my
satisfaction, I communicated it to the driver. So far from being
responsive, he surveyed me--he was naturally a bottled-nosed, red-
faced man--with a blanched countenance. And as he drove me back,
he ever and again glanced in over his shoulder through the little
front window of his carriage, as mistrusting that I was a fare
originally from a grave in the churchyard of Saint Ghastly Grim,
who might have flitted home again without paying.

Sometimes, the queer Hall of some queer Company gives upon a
churchyard such as this, and, when the Livery dine, you may hear
them (if you are looking in through the iron rails, which you never
are when I am) toasting their own Worshipful prosperity.
Sometimes, a wholesale house of business, requiring much room for
stowage, will occupy one or two or even all three sides of the
enclosing space, and the backs of bales of goods will lumber up the
windows, as if they were holding some crowded trade-meeting of
themselves within. Sometimes, the commanding windows are all
blank, and show no more sign of life than the graves below--not so
much, for THEY tell of what once upon a time was life undoubtedly.
Such was the surrounding of one City churchyard that I saw last
summer, on a Volunteering Saturday evening towards eight of the
clock, when with astonishment I beheld an old old man and an old
old woman in it, making hay. Yes, of all occupations in this
world, making hay! It was a very confined patch of churchyard
lying between Gracechurch-street and the Tower, capable of
yielding, say an apronful of hay. By what means the old old man
and woman had got into it, with an almost toothless hay-making
rake, I could not fathom. No open window was within view; no
window at all was within view, sufficiently near the ground to have
enabled their old legs to descend from it; the rusty churchyard-
gate was locked, the mouldy church was locked. Gravely among the
graves, they made hay, all alone by themselves. They looked like
Time and his wife. There was but the one rake between them, and
they both had hold of it in a pastorally-loving manner, and there
was hay on the old woman's black bonnet, as if the old man had
recently been playful. The old man was quite an obsolete old man,
in knee-breeches and coarse grey stockings, and the old woman wore
mittens like unto his stockings in texture and in colour. They
took no heed of me as I looked on, unable to account for them. The
old woman was much too bright for a pew-opener, the old man much
too meek for a beadle. On an old tombstone in the foreground
between me and them, were two cherubim; but for those celestial
embellishments being represented as having no possible use for
knee-breeches, stockings, or mittens, I should have compared them
with the hay-makers, and sought a likeness. I coughed and awoke
the echoes, but the hay-makers never looked at me. They used the
rake with a measured action, drawing the scanty crop towards them;
and so I was fain to leave them under three yards and a half of
darkening sky, gravely making hay among the graves, all alone by
themselves. Perhaps they were Spectres, and I wanted a Medium.

In another City churchyard of similar cramped dimensions, I saw,
that selfsame summer, two comfortable charity children. They were
making love--tremendous proof of the vigour of that immortal
article, for they were in the graceful uniform under which English
Charity delights to hide herself--and they were overgrown, and
their legs (his legs at least, for I am modestly incompetent to
speak of hers) were as much in the wrong as mere passive weakness
of character can render legs. O it was a leaden churchyard, but no
doubt a golden ground to those young persons! I first saw them on
a Saturday evening, and, perceiving from their occupation that
Saturday evening was their trysting-time, I returned that evening
se'nnight, and renewed the contemplation of them. They came there
to shake the bits of matting which were spread in the church
aisles, and they afterwards rolled them up, he rolling his end, she
rolling hers, until they met, and over the two once divided now
united rolls--sweet emblem!--gave and received a chaste salute. It
was so refreshing to find one of my faded churchyards blooming into
flower thus, that I returned a second time, and a third, and
ultimately this befell:- They had left the church door open, in
their dusting and arranging. Walking in to look at the church, I
became aware, by the dim light, of him in the pulpit, of her in the
reading-desk, of him looking down, of her looking up, exchanging
tender discourse. Immediately both dived, and became as it were
non-existent on this sphere. With an assumption of innocence I
turned to leave the sacred edifice, when an obese form stood in the
portal, puffily demanding Joseph, or in default of Joseph, Celia.
Taking this monster by the sleeve, and luring him forth on pretence
of showing him whom he sought, I gave time for the emergence of
Joseph and Celia, who presently came towards us in the churchyard,
bending under dusty matting, a picture of thriving and unconscious
industry. It would be superfluous to hint that I have ever since
deemed this the proudest passage in my life.

But such instances, or any tokens of vitality, are rare indeed in
my City churchyards. A few sparrows occasionally try to raise a
lively chirrup in their solitary tree--perhaps, as taking a
different view of worms from that entertained by humanity--but they
are flat and hoarse of voice, like the clerk, the organ, the bell,
the clergyman, and all the rest of the Church-works when they are
wound up for Sunday. Caged larks, thrushes, or blackbirds, hanging
in neighbouring courts, pour forth their strains passionately, as
scenting the tree, trying to break out, and see leaves again before
they die, but their song is Willow, Willow--of a churchyard cast.
So little light lives inside the churches of my churchyards, when
the two are co-existent, that it is often only by an accident and
after long acquaintance that I discover their having stained glass
in some odd window. The westering sun slants into the churchyard
by some unwonted entry, a few prismatic tears drop on an old
tombstone, and a window that I thought was only dirty, is for the
moment all bejewelled. Then the light passes and the colours die.
Though even then, if there be room enough for me to fall back so
far as that I can gaze up to the top of the Church Tower, I see the
rusty vane new burnished, and seeming to look out with a joyful
flash over the sea of smoke at the distant shore of country.

Blinking old men who are let out of workhouses by the hour, have a
tendency to sit on bits of coping stone in these churchyards,
leaning with both hands on their sticks and asthmatically gasping.
The more depressed class of beggars too, bring hither broken meats,
and munch. I am on nodding terms with a meditative turncock who
lingers in one of them, and whom I suspect of a turn for poetry;
the rather, as he looks out of temper when he gives the fire-plug a
disparaging wrench with that large tuning-fork of his which would
wear out the shoulder of his coat, but for a precautionary piece of
inlaid leather. Fire-ladders, which I am satisfied nobody knows
anything about, and the keys of which were lost in ancient times,
moulder away in the larger churchyards, under eaves like wooden
eyebrows; and so removed are those corners from the haunts of men
and boys, that once on a fifth of November I found a 'Guy' trusted
to take care of himself there, while his proprietors had gone to
dinner. Of the expression of his face I cannot report, because it
was turned to the wall; but his shrugged shoulders and his ten
extended fingers, appeared to denote that he had moralised in his
little straw chair on the mystery of mortality until he gave it up
as a bad job.

You do not come upon these churchyards violently; there are shapes
of transition in the neighbourhood. An antiquated news shop, or
barber's shop, apparently bereft of customers in the earlier days
of George the Third, would warn me to look out for one, if any
discoveries in this respect were left for me to make. A very quiet
court, in combination with an unaccountable dyer's and scourer's,
would prepare me for a churchyard. An exceedingly retiring public-
house, with a bagatelle-board shadily visible in a sawdusty parlour
shaped like an omnibus, and with a shelf of punch-bowls in the bar,
would apprise me that I stood near consecrated ground. A 'Dairy,'
exhibiting in its modest window one very little milk-can and three
eggs, would suggest to me the certainty of finding the poultry hard
by, pecking at my forefathers. I first inferred the vicinity of
Saint Ghastly Grim, from a certain air of extra repose and gloom
pervading a vast stack of warehouses.

From the hush of these places, it is congenial to pass into the
hushed resorts of business. Down the lanes I like to see the carts
and waggons huddled together in repose, the cranes idle, and the
warehouses shut. Pausing in the alleys behind the closed Banks of
mighty Lombard-street, it gives one as good as a rich feeling to
think of the broad counters with a rim along the edge, made for
telling money out on, the scales for weighing precious metals, the
ponderous ledgers, and, above all, the bright copper shovels for
shovelling gold. When I draw money, it never seems so much money
as when it is shovelled at me out of a bright copper shovel. I
like to say, 'In gold,' and to see seven pounds musically pouring
out of the shovel, like seventy; the Bank appearing to remark to
me--I italicise APPEARING--'if you want more of this yellow earth,
we keep it in barrows at your service.' To think of the banker's
clerk with his deft finger turning the crisp edges of the Hundred-
Pound Notes he has taken in a fat roll out of a drawer, is again to
hear the rustling of that delicious south-cash wind. 'How will you
have it?' I once heard this usual question asked at a Bank Counter
of an elderly female, habited in mourning and steeped in
simplicity, who answered, open-eyed, crook-fingered, laughing with
expectation, 'Anyhow!' Calling these things to mind as I stroll
among the Banks, I wonder whether the other solitary Sunday man I
pass, has designs upon the Banks. For the interest and mystery of
the matter, I almost hope he may have, and that his confederate may
be at this moment taking impressions of the keys of the iron
closets in wax, and that a delightful robbery may be in course of
transaction. About College-hill, Mark-lane, and so on towards the
Tower, and Dockward, the deserted wine-merchants' cellars are fine
subjects for consideration; but the deserted money-cellars of the
Bankers, and their plate-cellars, and their jewel-cellars, what
subterranean regions of the Wonderful Lamp are these! And again:
possibly some shoeless boy in rags, passed through this street
yesterday, for whom it is reserved to be a Banker in the fulness of
time, and to be surpassing rich. Such reverses have been, since
the days of Whittington; and were, long before. I want to know
whether the boy has any foreglittering of that glittering fortune
now, when he treads these stones, hungry. Much as I also want to
know whether the next man to be hanged at Newgate yonder, had any
suspicion upon him that he was moving steadily towards that fate,
when he talked so much about the last man who paid the same great
debt at the same small Debtors' Door.

Where are all the people who on busy working-days pervade these
scenes? The locomotive banker's clerk, who carries a black
portfolio chained to him by a chain of steel, where is he? Does he
go to bed with his chain on--to church with his chain on--or does
he lay it by? And if he lays it by, what becomes of his portfolio
when he is unchained for a holiday? The wastepaper baskets of
these closed counting-houses would let me into many hints of
business matters if I had the exploration of them; and what secrets
of the heart should I discover on the 'pads' of the young clerks--
the sheets of cartridge-paper and blotting-paper interposed between
their writing and their desks! Pads are taken into confidence on
the tenderest occasions, and oftentimes when I have made a business
visit, and have sent in my name from the outer office, have I had
it forced on my discursive notice that the officiating young
gentleman has over and over again inscribed AMELIA, in ink of
various dates, on corners of his pad. Indeed, the pad may be
regarded as the legitimate modern successor of the old forest-tree:
whereon these young knights (having no attainable forest nearer
than Epping) engrave the names of their mistresses. After all, it
is a more satisfactory process than carving, and can be oftener
repeated. So these courts in their Sunday rest are courts of Love
Omnipotent (I rejoice to bethink myself), dry as they look. And
here is Garraway's, bolted and shuttered hard and fast! It is
possible to imagine the man who cuts the sandwiches, on his back in
a hayfield; it is possible to imagine his desk, like the desk of a
clerk at church, without him; but imagination is unable to pursue
the men who wait at Garraway's all the week for the men who never
come. When they are forcibly put out of Garraway's on Saturday
night--which they must be, for they never would go out of their own
accord--where do they vanish until Monday morning? On the first
Sunday that I ever strayed here, I expected to find them hovering
about these lanes, like restless ghosts, and trying to peep into
Garraway's through chinks in the shutters, if not endeavouring to
turn the lock of the door with false keys, picks, and screw-
drivers. But the wonder is, that they go clean away! And now I
think of it, the wonder is, that every working-day pervader of
these scenes goes clean away. The man who sells the dogs' collars
and the little toy coal-scuttles, feels under as great an
obligation to go afar off, as Glyn and Co., or Smith, Payne, and
Smith. There is an old monastery-crypt under Garraway's (I have
been in it among the port wine), and perhaps Garraway's, taking
pity on the mouldy men who wait in its public-room all their lives,
gives them cool house-room down there over Sundays; but the
catacombs of Paris would not be large enough to hold the rest of
the missing. This characteristic of London City greatly helps its
being the quaint place it is in the weekly pause of business, and
greatly helps my Sunday sensation in it of being the Last Man. In
my solitude, the ticket-porters being all gone with the rest, I
venture to breathe to the quiet bricks and stones my confidential
wonderment why a ticket-porter, who never does any work with his
hands, is bound to wear a white apron, and why a great
Ecclesiastical Dignitary, who never does any work with his hands
either, is equally bound to wear a black one.


Before the waitress had shut the door, I had forgotten how many
stage-coaches she said used to change horses in the town every day.
But it was of little moment; any high number would do as well as
another. It had been a great stage-coaching town in the great
stage-coaching times, and the ruthless railways had killed and
buried it.

The sign of the house was the Dolphin's Head. Why only head, I
don't know; for the Dolphin's effigy at full length, and upside
down--as a Dolphin is always bound to be when artistically treated,
though I suppose he is sometimes right side upward in his natural
condition--graced the sign-board. The sign-board chafed its rusty
hooks outside the bow-window of my room, and was a shabby work. No
visitor could have denied that the Dolphin was dying by inches, but
he showed no bright colours. He had once served another master;
there was a newer streak of paint below him, displaying with
inconsistent freshness the legend, By J. MELLOWS.

My door opened again, and J. Mellows's representative came back. I
had asked her what I could have for dinner, and she now returned
with the counter question, what would I like? As the Dolphin stood
possessed of nothing that I do like, I was fain to yield to the
suggestion of a duck, which I don't like. J. Mellows's
representative was a mournful young woman with eye susceptible of
guidance, and one uncontrollable eye; which latter, seeming to
wander in quest of stage-coaches, deepened the melancholy in which
the Dolphin was steeped.

This young woman had but shut the door on retiring again when I
bethought me of adding to my order, the words, 'with nice
vegetables.' Looking out at the door to give them emphatic
utterance, I found her already in a state of pensive catalepsy in
the deserted gallery, picking her teeth with a pin.

At the Railway Station seven miles off, I had been the subject of
wonder when I ordered a fly in which to come here. And when I gave
the direction 'To the Dolphin's Head,' I had observed an ominous
stare on the countenance of the strong young man in velveteen, who
was the platform servant of the Company. He had also called to my
driver at parting, 'All ri-ight! Don't hang yourself when you get
there, Geo-o-rge!' in a sarcastic tone, for which I had entertained
some transitory thoughts of reporting him to the General Manager.

I had no business in the town--I never have any business in any
town--but I had been caught by the fancy that I would come and look
at it in its degeneracy. My purpose was fitly inaugurated by the
Dolphin's Head, which everywhere expressed past coachfulness and
present coachlessness. Coloured prints of coaches, starting,
arriving, changing horses, coaches in the sunshine, coaches in the
snow, coaches in the wind, coaches in the mist and rain, coaches on
the King's birthday, coaches in all circumstances compatible with
their triumph and victory, but never in the act of breaking down or
overturning, pervaded the house. Of these works of art, some,
framed and not glazed, had holes in them; the varnish of others had
become so brown and cracked, that they looked like overdone pie-
crust; the designs of others were almost obliterated by the flies
of many summers. Broken glasses, damaged frames, lop-sided
hanging, and consignment of incurable cripples to places of refuge
in dark corners, attested the desolation of the rest. The old room
on the ground floor where the passengers of the Highflyer used to
dine, had nothing in it but a wretched show of twigs and flower-
pots in the broad window to hide the nakedness of the land, and in
a corner little Mellows's perambulator, with even its parasol-head
turned despondently to the wall. The other room, where post-horse
company used to wait while relays were getting ready down the yard,
still held its ground, but was as airless as I conceive a hearse to
be: insomuch that Mr. Pitt, hanging high against the partition
(with spots on him like port wine, though it is mysterious how port
wine ever got squirted up there), had good reason for perking his
nose and sniffing. The stopperless cruets on the spindle-shanked
sideboard were in a miserably dejected state: the anchovy sauce
having turned blue some years ago, and the cayenne pepper (with a
scoop in it like a small model of a wooden leg) having turned
solid. The old fraudulent candles which were always being paid for
and never used, were burnt out at last; but their tall stilts of
candlesticks still lingered, and still outraged the human intellect
by pretending to be silver. The mouldy old unreformed Borough
Member, with his right hand buttoned up in the breast of his coat,
and his back characteristically turned on bales of petitions from
his constituents, was there too; and the poker which never had been
among the fire-irons, lest post-horse company should overstir the
fire, was NOT there, as of old.

Pursuing my researches in the Dolphin's Head, I found it sorely
shrunken. When J. Mellows came into possession, he had walled off
half the bar, which was now a tobacco-shop with its own entrance in
the yard--the once glorious yard where the postboys, whip in hand
and always buttoning their waistcoats at the last moment, used to
come running forth to mount and away. A 'Scientific Shoeing--Smith
and Veterinary Surgeon,' had further encroached upon the yard; and
a grimly satirical jobber, who announced himself as having to Let
'A neat one-horse fly, and a one-horse cart,' had established his
business, himself, and his family, in a part of the extensive
stables. Another part was lopped clean off from the Dolphin's
Head, and now comprised a chapel, a wheelwright's, and a Young
Men's Mutual Improvement and Discussion Society (in a loft): the
whole forming a back lane. No audacious hand had plucked down the
vane from the central cupola of the stables, but it had grown rusty
and stuck at N-Nil: while the score or two of pigeons that
remained true to their ancestral traditions and the place, had
collected in a row on the roof-ridge of the only outhouse retained
by the Dolphin, where all the inside pigeons tried to push the
outside pigeon off. This I accepted as emblematical of the
struggle for post and place in railway times.

Sauntering forth into the town, by way of the covered and pillared
entrance to the Dolphin's Yard, once redolent of soup and stable-
litter, now redolent of musty disuse, I paced the street. It was a
hot day, and the little sun-blinds of the shops were all drawn
down, and the more enterprising tradesmen had caused their
'Prentices to trickle water on the pavement appertaining to their
frontage. It looked as if they had been shedding tears for the
stage-coaches, and drying their ineffectual pocket-handkerchiefs.
Such weakness would have been excusable; for business was--as one
dejected porkman who kept a shop which refused to reciprocate the
compliment by keeping him, informed me--'bitter bad.' Most of the
harness-makers and corn-dealers were gone the way of the coaches,
but it was a pleasant recognition of the eternal procession of
Children down that old original steep Incline, the Valley of the
Shadow, that those tradesmen were mostly succeeded by vendors of
sweetmeats and cheap toys. The opposition house to the Dolphin,
once famous as the New White Hart, had long collapsed. In a fit of
abject depression, it had cast whitewash on its windows, and
boarded up its front door, and reduced itself to a side entrance;
but even that had proved a world too wide for the Literary
Institution which had been its last phase; for the Institution had
collapsed too, and of the ambitious letters of its inscription on
the White Hart's front, all had fallen off but these:


- suggestive of Lamentably Insolvent. As to the neighbouring
market-place, it seemed to have wholly relinquished marketing, to
the dealer in crockery whose pots and pans straggled half across
it, and to the Cheap Jack who sat with folded arms on the shafts of
his cart, superciliously gazing around; his velveteen waistcoat,
evidently harbouring grave doubts whether it was worth his while to
stay a night in such a place.

The church bells began to ring as I left this spot, but they by no
means improved the case, for they said, in a petulant way, and
speaking with some difficulty in their irritation, WHAT'S-be-come-
of-THE-coach-ES!' Nor would they (I found on listening) ever vary
their emphasis, save in respect of growing more sharp and vexed,
but invariably went on, 'WHAT'S-be-come-of-THE-coach-ES!'--always
beginning the inquiry with an unpolite abruptness. Perhaps from
their elevation they saw the railway, and it aggravated them.

Coming upon a coachmaker's workshop, I began to look about me with
a revived spirit, thinking that perchance I might behold there some
remains of the old times of the town's greatness. There was only
one man at work--a dry man, grizzled, and far advanced in years,
but tall and upright, who, becoming aware of me looking on,
straightened his back, pushed up his spectacles against his brown-
paper cap, and appeared inclined to defy me. To whom I pacifically

'Good day, sir!'

'What?' said he.

'Good day, sir.'

He seemed to consider about that, and not to agree with me.--'Was
you a looking for anything?' he then asked, in a pointed manner.

'I was wondering whether there happened to be any fragment of an
old stage-coach here.'

'Is that all?'

'That's all.'

'No, there ain't.'

It was now my turn to say 'Oh!' and I said it. Not another word
did the dry and grizzled man say, but bent to his work again. In
the coach-making days, the coach-painters had tried their brushes
on a post beside him; and quite a Calendar of departed glories was
to be read upon it, in blue and yellow and red and green, some
inches thick. Presently he looked up again.

'You seem to have a deal of time on your hands,' was his querulous

I admitted the fact.

'I think it's a pity you was not brought up to something,' said he.

I said I thought so too.

Appearing to be informed with an idea, he laid down his plane (for
it was a plane he was at work with), pushed up his spectacles
again, and came to the door.

'Would a po-shay do for you?' he asked.

'I am not sure that I understand what you mean.'

'Would a po-shay,' said the coachmaker, standing close before me,
and folding his arms in the manner of a cross-examining counsel--
'would a po-shay meet the views you have expressed? Yes, or no?'


'Then you keep straight along down there till you see one. YOU'LL
see one if you go fur enough.'

With that, he turned me by the shoulder in the direction I was to
take, and went in and resumed his work against a background of
leaves and grapes. For, although he was a soured man and a
discontented, his workshop was that agreeable mixture of town and
country, street and garden, which is often to be seen in a small
English town.

I went the way he had turned me, and I came to the Beer-shop with
the sign of The First and Last, and was out of the town on the old
London road. I came to the Turnpike, and I found it, in its silent
way, eloquent respecting the change that had fallen on the road.
The Turnpike-house was all overgrown with ivy; and the Turnpike-
keeper, unable to get a living out of the tolls, plied the trade of
a cobbler. Not only that, but his wife sold ginger-beer, and, in
the very window of espial through which the Toll-takers of old
times used with awe to behold the grand London coaches coming on at
a gallop, exhibited for sale little barber's-poles of sweetstuff in
a sticky lantern.

The political economy of the master of the turnpike thus expressed

'How goes turnpike business, master?' said I to him, as he sat in
his little porch, repairing a shoe.

'It don't go at all, master,' said he to me. 'It's stopped.'

'That's bad,' said I.

'Bad?' he repeated. And he pointed to one of his sunburnt dusty
children who was climbing the turnpike-gate, and said, extending
his open right hand in remonstrance with Universal Nature. 'Five
on 'em!'

'But how to improve Turnpike business?' said I.

'There's a way, master,' said he, with the air of one who had
thought deeply on the subject.

'I should like to know it.'

'Lay a toll on everything as comes through; lay a toll on walkers.
Lay another toll on everything as don't come through; lay a toll on
them as stops at home.'

'Would the last remedy be fair?'

'Fair? Them as stops at home, could come through if they liked;
couldn't they?'

'Say they could.'

'Toll 'em. If they don't come through, it's THEIR look out.
Anyways,--Toll 'em!'

Finding it was as impossible to argue with this financial genius as
if he had been Chancellor of the Exchequer, and consequently the
right man in the right place, I passed on meekly.

My mind now began to misgive me that the disappointed coach-maker
had sent me on a wild-goose errand, and that there was no post-
chaise in those parts. But coming within view of certain
allotment-gardens by the roadside, I retracted the suspicion, and
confessed that I had done him an injustice. For, there I saw,
surely, the poorest superannuated post-chaise left on earth.

It was a post-chaise taken off its axletree and wheels, and plumped
down on the clayey soil among a ragged growth of vegetables. It
was a post-chaise not even set straight upon the ground, but tilted
over, as if it had fallen out of a balloon. It was a post-chaise
that had been a long time in those decayed circumstances, and
against which scarlet beans were trained. It was a post-chaise
patched and mended with old tea-trays, or with scraps of iron that
looked like them, and boarded up as to the windows, but having A
KNOCKER on the off-side door. Whether it was a post-chaise used as
tool-house, summer-house, or dwelling-house, I could not discover,
for there was nobody at home at the post-chaise when I knocked, but
it was certainly used for something, and locked up. In the wonder
of this discovery, I walked round and round the post-chaise many
times, and sat down by the post-chaise, waiting for further
elucidation. None came. At last, I made my way back to the old
London road by the further end of the allotment-gardens, and
consequently at a point beyond that from which I had diverged. I
had to scramble through a hedge and down a steep bank, and I nearly
came down a-top of a little spare man who sat breaking stones by
the roadside.

He stayed his hammer, and said, regarding me mysteriously through
his dark goggles of wire:

'Are you aware, sir, that you've been trespassing?'

'I turned out of the way,' said I, in explanation, 'to look at that
odd post-chaise. Do you happen to know anything about it?'

'I know it was many a year upon the road,' said he.

'So I supposed. Do you know to whom it belongs?'

The stone-breaker bent his brows and goggles over his heap of
stones, as if he were considering whether he should answer the
question or not. Then, raising his barred eyes to my features as
before, he said:

'To me.'

Being quite unprepared for the reply, I received it with a
sufficiently awkward 'Indeed! Dear me!' Presently I added, 'Do
you--' I was going to say 'live there,' but it seemed so absurd a
question, that I substituted 'live near here?'

The stone-breaker, who had not broken a fragment since we began to
converse, then did as follows. He raised himself by poising his
finger on his hammer, and took his coat, on which he had been
seated, over his arm. He then backed to an easier part of the bank
than that by which I had come down, keeping his dark goggles
silently upon me all the time, and then shouldered his hammer,
suddenly turned, ascended, and was gone. His face was so small,
and his goggles were so large, that he left me wholly uninformed as
to his countenance; but he left me a profound impression that the
curved legs I had seen from behind as he vanished, were the legs of
an old postboy. It was not until then that I noticed he had been
working by a grass-grown milestone, which looked like a tombstone
erected over the grave of the London road.

My dinner-hour being close at hand, I had no leisure to pursue the
goggles or the subject then, but made my way back to the Dolphin's
Head. In the gateway I found J. Mellows, looking at nothing, and
apparently experiencing that it failed to raise his spirits.

'_I_ don't care for the town,' said J. Mellows, when I complimented
him on the sanitary advantages it may or may not possess; 'I wish I
had never seen the town!'

'You don't belong to it, Mr. Mellows?'

'Belong to it!' repeated Mellows. 'If I didn't belong to a better
style of town than this, I'd take and drown myself in a pail.' It
then occurred to me that Mellows, having so little to do, was
habitually thrown back on his internal resources--by which I mean
the Dolphin's cellar.

'What we want,' said Mellows, pulling off his hat, and making as if
he emptied it of the last load of Disgust that had exuded from his
brain, before he put it on again for another load; 'what we want,
is a Branch. The Petition for the Branch Bill is in the coffee-
room. Would you put your name to it? Every little helps.'

I found the document in question stretched out flat on the coffee-
room table by the aid of certain weights from the kitchen, and I
gave it the additional weight of my uncommercial signature. To the
best of my belief, I bound myself to the modest statement that
universal traffic, happiness, prosperity, and civilisation,
together with unbounded national triumph in competition with the
foreigner, would infallibly flow from the Branch.

Having achieved this constitutional feat, I asked Mr. Mellows if he
could grace my dinner with a pint of good wine? Mr. Mellows thus

'If I couldn't give you a pint of good wine, I'd--there!--I'd take
and drown myself in a pail. But I was deceived when I bought this
business, and the stock was higgledy-piggledy, and I haven't yet
tasted my way quite through it with a view to sorting it.
Therefore, if you order one kind and get another, change till it
comes right. For what,' said Mellows, unloading his hat as before,
'what would you or any gentleman do, if you ordered one kind of
wine and was required to drink another? Why, you'd (and naturally
and properly, having the feelings of a gentleman), you'd take and
drown yourself in a pail!'


The shabbiness of our English capital, as compared with Paris,
Bordeaux, Frankfort, Milan, Geneva--almost any important town on
the continent of Europe--I find very striking after an absence of
any duration in foreign parts. London is shabby in contrast with
Edinburgh, with Aberdeen, with Exeter, with Liverpool, with a
bright little town like Bury St. Edmunds. London is shabby in
contrast with New York, with Boston, with Philadelphia. In detail,
one would say it can rarely fail to be a disappointing piece of
shabbiness, to a stranger from any of those places. There is
nothing shabbier than Drury-lane, in Rome itself. The meanness of
Regent-street, set against the great line of Boulevards in Paris,
is as striking as the abortive ugliness of Trafalgar-square, set
against the gallant beauty of the Place de la Concorde. London is
shabby by daylight, and shabbier by gaslight. No Englishman knows
what gaslight is, until he sees the Rue de Rivoli and the Palais
Royal after dark.

The mass of London people are shabby. The absence of distinctive
dress has, no doubt, something to do with it. The porters of the
Vintners' Company, the draymen, and the butchers, are about the
only people who wear distinctive dresses; and even these do not
wear them on holidays. We have nothing which for cheapness,
cleanliness, convenience, or picturesqueness, can compare with the
belted blouse. As to our women;--next Easter or Whitsuntide, look
at the bonnets at the British Museum or the National Gallery, and
think of the pretty white French cap, the Spanish mantilla, or the
Genoese mezzero.

Probably there are not more second-hand clothes sold in London than
in Paris, and yet the mass of the London population have a second-
hand look which is not to be detected on the mass of the Parisian
population. I think this is mainly because a Parisian workman does
not in the least trouble himself about what is worn by a Parisian
idler, but dresses in the way of his own class, and for his own
comfort. In London, on the contrary, the fashions descend; and you
never fully know how inconvenient or ridiculous a fashion is, until
you see it in its last descent. It was but the other day, on a
race-course, that I observed four people in a barouche deriving
great entertainment from the contemplation of four people on foot.
The four people on foot were two young men and two young women; the
four people in the barouche were two young men and two young women.
The four young women were dressed in exactly the same style; the
four young men were dressed in exactly the same style. Yet the two

Book of the day: