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Reprinted Pieces by Charles Dickens

Part 4 out of 5

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Intelligence of the coffee-money has got abroad. The yard is full,
and Rogers of the flaming eye is beleaguered with entreaties to
show other Lodging Houses. Mine next! Mine! Mine! Rogers,
military, obdurate, stiff-necked, immovable, replies not, but leads
away; all falling back before him. Inspector Field follows.
Detective Sergeant, with his barrier of arm across the little
passage, deliberately waits to close the procession. He sees
behind him, without any effort, and exceedingly disturbs one
individual far in the rear by coolly calling out, 'It won't do, Mr.
Michael! Don't try it!'

After council holden in the street, we enter other lodging-houses,
public-houses, many lairs and holes; all noisome and offensive;
none so filthy and so crowded as where Irish are. In one, The
Ethiopian party are expected home presently - were in Oxford Street
when last heard of - shall be fetched, for our delight, within ten
minutes. In another, one of the two or three Professors who drew
Napoleon Buonaparte and a couple of mackerel, on the pavement and
then let the work of art out to a speculator, is refreshing after
his labours. In another, the vested interest of the profitable
nuisance has been in one family for a hundred years, and the
landlord drives in comfortably from the country to his snug little
stew in town. In all, Inspector Field is received with warmth.
Coiners and smashers droop before him; pickpockets defer to him;
the gentle sex (not very gentle here) smile upon him. Half-drunken
hags check themselves in the midst of pots of beer, or pints of
gin, to drink to Mr. Field, and pressingly to ask the honour of his
finishing the draught. One beldame in rusty black has such
admiration for him, that she runs a whole street's length to shake
him by the hand; tumbling into a heap of mud by the way, and still
pressing her attentions when her very form has ceased to be
distinguishable through it. Before the power of the law, the power
of superior sense - for common thieves are fools beside these men -
and the power of a perfect mastery of their character, the garrison
of Rats' Castle and the adjacent Fortresses make but a skulking
show indeed when reviewed by Inspector Field.

Saint Giles's clock says it will be midnight in half-an-hour, and
Inspector Field says we must hurry to the Old Mint in the Borough.
The cab-driver is low-spirited, and has a solemn sense of his
responsibility. Now, what's your fare, my lad? - O YOU know,
Inspector Field, what's the good of asking ME!

Say, Parker, strapped and great-coated, and waiting in dim Borough
doorway by appointment, to replace the trusty Rogers whom we left
deep in Saint Giles's, are you ready? Ready, Inspector Field, and
at a motion of my wrist behold my flaming eye.

This narrow street, sir, is the chief part of the Old Mint, full of
low lodging-houses, as you see by the transparent canvas-lamps and
blinds, announcing beds for travellers! But it is greatly changed,
friend Field, from my former knowledge of it; it is infinitely
quieter and more subdued than when I was here last, some seven
years ago? O yes! Inspector Haynes, a first-rate man, is on this
station now and plays the Devil with them!

Well, my lads! How are you to-night, my lads? Playing cards here,
eh? Who wins? - Why, Mr. Field, I, the sulky gentleman with the
damp flat side-curls, rubbing my bleared eye with the end of my
neckerchief which is like a dirty eel-skin, am losing just at
present, but I suppose I must take my pipe out of my mouth, and be
submissive to YOU - I hope I see you well, Mr. Field? - Aye, all
right, my lad. Deputy, who have you got up-stairs? Be pleased to
show the rooms!

Why Deputy, Inspector Field can't say. He only knows that the man
who takes care of the beds and lodgers is always called so.
Steady, O Deputy, with the flaring candle in the blacking-bottle,
for this is a slushy back-yard, and the wooden staircase outside
the house creaks and has holes in it.

Again, in these confined intolerable rooms, burrowed out like the
holes of rats or the nests of insect-vermin, but fuller of
intolerable smells, are crowds of sleepers, each on his foul
truckle-bed coiled up beneath a rug. Holloa here! Come! Let us
see you! Show your face! Pilot Parker goes from bed to bed and
turns their slumbering heads towards us, as a salesman might turn
sheep. Some wake up with an execration and a threat. - What! who
spoke? O! If it's the accursed glaring eye that fixes me, go
where I will, I am helpless. Here! I sit up to be looked at. Is
it me you want? Not you, lie down again! and I lie down, with a
woful growl.

Whenever the turning lane of light becomes stationary for a moment,
some sleeper appears at the end of it, submits himself to be
scrutinised, and fades away into the darkness.

There should be strange dreams here, Deputy. They sleep sound
enough, says Deputy, taking the candle out of the blacking-bottle,
snuffing it with his fingers, throwing the snuff into the bottle,
and corking it up with the candle; that's all I know. What is the
inscription, Deputy, on all the discoloured sheets? A precaution
against loss of linen. Deputy turns down the rug of an unoccupied
bed and discloses it. STOP THIEF!

To lie at night, wrapped in the legend of my slinking life; to take
the cry that pursues me, waking, to my breast in sleep; to have it
staring at me, and clamouring for me, as soon as consciousness
returns; to have it for my first-foot on New-Year's day, my
Valentine, my Birthday salute, my Christmas greeting, my parting
with the old year. STOP THIEF!

And to know that I MUST be stopped, come what will. To know that I
am no match for this individual energy and keenness, or this
organised and steady system! Come across the street, here, and,
entering by a little shop and yard, examine these intricate
passages and doors, contrived for escape, flapping and counter-
flapping, like the lids of the conjurer's boxes. But what avail
they? Who gets in by a nod, and shows their secret working to us?
Inspector Field.

Don't forget the old Farm House, Parker! Parker is not the man to
forget it. We are going there, now. It is the old Manor-House of
these parts, and stood in the country once. Then, perhaps, there
was something, which was not the beastly street, to see from the
shattered low fronts of the overhanging wooden houses we are
passing under - shut up now, pasted over with bills about the
literature and drama of the Mint, and mouldering away. This long
paved yard was a paddock or a garden once, or a court in front of
the Farm House. Perchance, with a dovecot in the centre, and fowls
peeking about - with fair elm trees, then, where discoloured
chimney-stacks and gables are now - noisy, then, with rooks which
have yielded to a different sort of rookery. It's likelier than
not, Inspector Field thinks, as we turn into the common kitchen,
which is in the yard, and many paces from the house.

Well, my lads and lasses, how are you all? Where's Blackey, who
has stood near London Bridge these five-and-twenty years, with a
painted skin to represent disease? - Here he is, Mr. Field! - How
are you, Blackey? - Jolly, sa! Not playing the fiddle to-night,
Blackey? - Not a night, sa! A sharp, smiling youth, the wit of the
kitchen, interposes. He an't musical to-night, sir. I've been
giving him a moral lecture; I've been a talking to him about his
latter end, you see. A good many of these are my pupils, sir.
This here young man (smoothing down the hair of one near him,
reading a Sunday paper) is a pupil of mine. I'm a teaching of him
to read, sir. He's a promising cove, sir. He's a smith, he is,
and gets his living by the sweat of the brow, sir. So do I,
myself, sir. This young woman is my sister, Mr. Field. SHE'S
getting on very well too. I've a deal of trouble with 'em, sir,
but I'm richly rewarded, now I see 'em all a doing so well, and
growing up so creditable. That's a great comfort, that is, an't
it, sir? - In the midst of the kitchen (the whole kitchen is in
ecstasies with this impromptu 'chaff') sits a young, modest,
gentle-looking creature, with a beautiful child in her lap. She
seems to belong to the company, but is so strangely unlike it. She
has such a pretty, quiet face and voice, and is so proud to hear
the child admired - thinks you would hardly believe that he is only
nine months old! Is she as bad as the rest, I wonder?
Inspectorial experience does not engender a belief contrariwise,
but prompts the answer, Not a ha'porth of difference!

There is a piano going in the old Farm House as we approach. It
stops. Landlady appears. Has no objections, Mr. Field, to
gentlemen being brought, but wishes it were at earlier hours, the
lodgers complaining of ill-conwenience. Inspector Field is polite
and soothing - knows his woman and the sex. Deputy (a girl in this
case) shows the way up a heavy, broad old staircase, kept very
clean, into clean rooms where many sleepers are, and where painted
panels of an older time look strangely on the truckle beds. The
sight of whitewash and the smell of soap - two things we seem by
this time to have parted from in infancy - make the old Farm House
a phenomenon, and connect themselves with the so curiously
misplaced picture of the pretty mother and child long after we have
left it, - long after we have left, besides, the neighbouring nook
with something of a rustic flavour in it yet, where once, beneath a
low wooden colonnade still standing as of yore, the eminent Jack
Sheppard condescended to regale himself, and where, now, two old
bachelor brothers in broad hats (who are whispered in the Mint to
have made a compact long ago that if either should ever marry, he
must forfeit his share of the joint property) still keep a
sequestered tavern, and sit o' nights smoking pipes in the bar,
among ancient bottles and glasses, as our eyes behold them.

How goes the night now? Saint George of Southwark answers with
twelve blows upon his bell. Parker, good night, for Williams is
already waiting over in the region of Ratcliffe Highway, to show
the houses where the sailors dance.

I should like to know where Inspector Field was born. In Ratcliffe
Highway, I would have answered with confidence, but for his being
equally at home wherever we go. HE does not trouble his head as I
do, about the river at night. HE does not care for its creeping,
black and silent, on our right there, rushing through sluice-gates,
lapping at piles and posts and iron rings, hiding strange things in
its mud, running away with suicides and accidentally drowned bodies
faster than midnight funeral should, and acquiring such various
experience between its cradle and its grave. It has no mystery for
HIM. Is there not the Thames Police!

Accordingly, Williams leads the way. We are a little late, for
some of the houses are already closing. No matter. You show us
plenty. All the landlords know Inspector Field. All pass him,
freely and good-humouredly, wheresoever he wants to go. So
thoroughly are all these houses open to him and our local guide,
that, granting that sailors must be entertained in their own way -
as I suppose they must, and have a right to be - I hardly know how
such places could be better regulated. Not that I call the company
very select, or the dancing very graceful - even so graceful as
that of the German Sugar Bakers, whose assembly, by the Minories,
we stopped to visit - but there is watchful maintenance of order in
every house, and swift expulsion where need is. Even in the midst
of drunkenness, both of the lethargic kind and the lively, there is
sharp landlord supervision, and pockets are in less peril than out
of doors. These houses show, singularly, how much of the
picturesque and romantic there truly is in the sailor, requiring to
be especially addressed. All the songs (sung in a hailstorm of
halfpence, which are pitched at the singer without the least
tenderness for the time or tune - mostly from great rolls of copper
carried for the purpose - and which he occasionally dodges like
shot as they fly near his head) are of the sentimental sea sort.
All the rooms are decorated with nautical subjects. Wrecks,
engagements, ships on fire, ships passing lighthouses on iron-bound
coasts, ships blowing up, ships going down, ships running ashore,
men lying out upon the main-yard in a gale of wind, sailors and
ships in every variety of peril, constitute the illustrations of
fact. Nothing can be done in the fanciful way, without a thumping
boy upon a scaly dolphin.

How goes the night now? Past one. Black and Green are waiting in
Whitechapel to unveil the mysteries of Wentworth Street. Williams,
the best of friends must part. Adieu!

Are not Black and Green ready at the appointed place? O yes! They
glide out of shadow as we stop. Imperturbable Black opens the cab-
door; Imperturbable Green takes a mental note of the driver. Both
Green and Black then open each his flaming eye, and marshal us the
way that we are going.

The lodging-house we want is hidden in a maze of streets and
courts. It is fast shut. We knock at the door, and stand hushed
looking up for a light at one or other of the begrimed old lattice
windows in its ugly front, when another constable comes up -
supposes that we want 'to see the school.' Detective Sergeant
meanwhile has got over a rail, opened a gate, dropped down an area,
overcome some other little obstacles, and tapped at a window. Now
returns. The landlord will send a deputy immediately.

Deputy is heard to stumble out of bed. Deputy lights a candle,
draws back a bolt or two, and appears at the door. Deputy is a
shivering shirt and trousers by no means clean, a yawning face, a
shock head much confused externally and internally. We want to
look for some one. You may go up with the light, and take 'em all,
if you like, says Deputy, resigning it, and sitting down upon a
bench in the kitchen with his ten fingers sleepily twisting in his
hair.

Halloa here! Now then! Show yourselves. That'll do. It's not
you. Don't disturb yourself any more! So on, through a labyrinth
of airless rooms, each man responding, like a wild beast, to the
keeper who has tamed him, and who goes into his cage. What, you
haven't found him, then? says Deputy, when we came down. A woman
mysteriously sitting up all night in the dark by the smouldering
ashes of the kitchen fire, says it's only tramps and cadgers here;
it's gonophs over the way. A man mysteriously walking about the
kitchen all night in the dark, bids her hold her tongue. We come
out. Deputy fastens the door and goes to bed again.

Black and Green, you know Bark, lodging-house keeper and receiver
of stolen goods? - O yes, Inspector Field. - Go to Bark's next.

Bark sleeps in an inner wooden hutch, near his street door. As we
parley on the step with Bark's Deputy, Bark growls in his bed. We
enter, and Bark flies out of bed. Bark is a red villain and a
wrathful, with a sanguine throat that looks very much as if it were
expressly made for hanging, as he stretches it out, in pale
defiance, over the half-door of his hutch. Bark's parts of speech
are of an awful sort - principally adjectives. I won't, says Bark,
have no adjective police and adjective strangers in my adjective
premises! I won't, by adjective and substantive! Give me my
trousers, and I'll send the whole adjective police to adjective and
substantive! Give me, says Bark, my adjective trousers! I'll put
an adjective knife in the whole bileing of 'em. I'll punch their
adjective heads. I'll rip up their adjective substantives. Give
me my adjective trousers! says Bark, and I'll spile the bileing of
'em!

Now, Bark, what's the use of this? Here's Black and Green,
Detective Sergeant, and Inspector Field. You know we will come in.
- I know you won't! says Bark. Somebody give me my adjective
trousers! Bark's trousers seem difficult to find. He calls for
them as Hercules might for his club. Give me my adjective
trousers! says Bark, and I'll spile the bileing of 'em!

Inspector Field holds that it's all one whether Bark likes the
visit or don't like it. He, Inspector Field, is an Inspector of
the Detective Police, Detective Sergeant IS Detective Sergeant,
Black and Green are constables in uniform. Don't you be a fool,
Bark, or you know it will be the worse for you. - I don't care,
says Bark. Give me my adjective trousers!

At two o'clock in the morning, we descend into Bark's low kitchen,
leaving Bark to foam at the mouth above, and Imperturbable Black
and Green to look at him. Bark's kitchen is crammed full of
thieves, holding a CONVERSAZIONE there by lamp-light. It is by far
the most dangerous assembly we have seen yet. Stimulated by the
ravings of Bark, above, their looks are sullen, but not a man
speaks. We ascend again. Bark has got his trousers, and is in a
state of madness in the passage with his back against a door that
shuts off the upper staircase. We observe, in other respects, a
ferocious individuality in Bark. Instead of 'STOP THIEF!' on his
linen, he prints 'STOLEN FROM Bark's!'

Now, Bark, we are going up-stairs! - No, you ain't! - YOU refuse
admission to the Police, do you, Bark? - Yes, I do! I refuse it to
all the adjective police, and to all the adjective substantives.
If the adjective coves in the kitchen was men, they'd come up now,
and do for you! Shut me that there door! says Bark, and suddenly
we are enclosed in the passage. They'd come up and do for you!
cries Bark, and waits. Not a sound in the kitchen! They'd come up
and do for you! cries Bark again, and waits. Not a sound in the
kitchen! We are shut up, half-a-dozen of us, in Bark's house in
the innermost recesses of the worst part of London, in the dead of
the night - the house is crammed with notorious robbers and
ruffians - and not a man stirs. No, Bark. They know the weight of
the law, and they know Inspector Field and Co. too well.

We leave bully Bark to subside at leisure out of his passion and
his trousers, and, I dare say, to be inconveniently reminded of
this little brush before long. Black and Green do ordinary duty
here, and look serious.

As to White, who waits on Holborn Hill to show the courts that are
eaten out of Rotten Gray's Inn, Lane, where other lodging-houses
are, and where (in one blind alley) the Thieves' Kitchen and
Seminary for the teaching of the art to children is, the night has
so worn away, being now

almost at odds with morning, which is which,

that they are quiet, and no light shines through the chinks in the
shutters. As undistinctive Death will come here, one day, sleep
comes now. The wicked cease from troubling sometimes, even in this
life.

DOWN WITH THE TIDE

A VERY dark night it was, and bitter cold; the east wind blowing
bleak, and bringing with it stinging particles from marsh, and
moor, and fen - from the Great Desert and Old Egypt, may be. Some
of the component parts of the sharp-edged vapour that came flying
up the Thames at London might be mummy-dust, dry atoms from the
Temple at Jerusalem, camels' foot-prints, crocodiles' hatching-
places, loosened grains of expression from the visages of blunt-
nosed sphynxes, waifs and strays from caravans of turbaned
merchants, vegetation from jungles, frozen snow from the Himalayas.
O! It was very, very dark upon the Thames, and it was bitter,
bitter cold.

'And yet,' said the voice within the great pea-coat at my side,
'you'll have seen a good many rivers, too, I dare say?'

'Truly,' said I, 'when I come to think of it, not a few. From the
Niagara, downward to the mountain rivers of Italy, which are like
the national spirit - very tame, or chafing suddenly and bursting
bounds, only to dwindle away again. The Moselle, and the Rhine,
and the Rhone; and the Seine, and the Saone; and the St. Lawrence,
Mississippi, and Ohio; and the Tiber, the Po, and the Arno; and the
- '

Peacoat coughing as if he had had enough of that, I said no more.
I could have carried the catalogue on to a teasing length, though,
if I had been in the cruel mind.

'And after all,' said he, 'this looks so dismal?'

'So awful,' I returned, 'at night. The Seine at Paris is very
gloomy too, at such a time, and is probably the scene of far more
crime and greater wickedness; but this river looks so broad and
vast, so murky and silent, seems such an image of death in the
midst of the great city's life, that - '

That Peacoat coughed again. He COULD NOT stand my holding forth.

We were in a four-oared Thames Police Galley, lying on our oars in
the deep shadow of Southwark Bridge - under the corner arch on the
Surrey side - having come down with the tide from Vauxhall. We
were fain to hold on pretty tight, though close in shore, for the
river was swollen and the tide running down very strong. We were
watching certain water-rats of human growth, and lay in the deep
shade as quiet as mice; our light hidden and our scraps of
conversation carried on in whispers. Above us, the massive iron
girders of the arch were faintly visible, and below us its
ponderous shadow seemed to sink down to the bottom of the stream.

We had been lying here some half an hour. With our backs to the
wind, it is true; but the wind being in a determined temper blew
straight through us, and would not take the trouble to go round. I
would have boarded a fireship to get into action, and mildly
suggested as much to my friend Pea.

'No doubt,' says he as patiently as possible; 'but shore-going
tactics wouldn't do with us. River-thieves can always get rid of
stolen property in a moment by dropping it overboard. We want to
take them WITH the property, so we lurk about and come out upon 'em
sharp. If they see us or hear us, over it goes.'

Pea's wisdom being indisputable, there was nothing for it but to
sit there and be blown through, for another half-hour. The water-
rats thinking it wise to abscond at the end of that time without
commission of felony, we shot out, disappointed, with the tide.

'Grim they look, don't they?' said Pea, seeing me glance over my
shoulder at the lights upon the bridge, and downward at their long
crooked reflections in the river.

'Very,' said I, 'and make one think with a shudder of Suicides.
What a night for a dreadful leap from that parapet!'

'Aye, but Waterloo's the favourite bridge for making holes in the
water from,' returned Pea. 'By the bye - avast pulling, lads! -
would you like to speak to Waterloo on the subject?'

My face confessing a surprised desire to have some friendly
conversation with Waterloo Bridge, and my friend Pea being the most
obliging of men, we put about, pulled out of the force of the
stream, and in place of going at great speed with the tide, began
to strive against it, close in shore again. Every colour but black
seemed to have departed from the world. The air was black, the
water was black, the barges and hulks were black, the piles were
black, the buildings were black, the shadows were only a deeper
shade of black upon a black ground. Here and there, a coal fire in
an iron cresset blazed upon a wharf; but, one knew that it too had
been black a little while ago, and would be black again soon.
Uncomfortable rushes of water suggestive of gurgling and drowning,
ghostly rattlings of iron chains, dismal clankings of discordant
engines, formed the music that accompanied the dip of our oars and
their rattling in the rowlocks. Even the noises had a black sound
to me - as the trumpet sounded red to the blind man.

Our dexterous boat's crew made nothing of the tide, and pulled us
gallantly up to Waterloo Bridge. Here Pea and I disembarked,
passed under the black stone archway, and climbed the steep stone
steps. Within a few feet of their summit, Pea presented me to
Waterloo (or an eminent toll-taker representing that structure),
muffled up to the eyes in a thick shawl, and amply great-coated and
fur-capped.

Waterloo received us with cordiality, and observed of the night
that it was 'a Searcher.' He had been originally called the Strand
Bridge, he informed us, but had received his present name at the
suggestion of the proprietors, when Parliament had resolved to vote
three hundred thousand pound for the erection of a monument in
honour of the victory. Parliament took the hint (said Waterloo,
with the least flavour of misanthropy) and saved the money. Of
course the late Duke of Wellington was the first passenger, and of
course he paid his penny, and of course a noble lord preserved it
evermore. The treadle and index at the toll-house (a most
ingenious contrivance for rendering fraud impossible), were
invented by Mr. Lethbridge, then property-man at Drury Lane
Theatre.

Was it suicide, we wanted to know about? said Waterloo. Ha! Well,
he had seen a good deal of that work, he did assure us. He had
prevented some. Why, one day a woman, poorish looking, came in
between the hatch, slapped down a penny, and wanted to go on
without the change! Waterloo suspected this, and says to his mate,
'give an eye to the gate,' and bolted after her. She had got to
the third seat between the piers, and was on the parapet just a
going over, when he caught her and gave her in charge. At the
police office next morning, she said it was along of trouble and a
bad husband.

'Likely enough,' observed Waterloo to Pea and myself, as he
adjusted his chin in his shawl. 'There's a deal of trouble about,
you see - and bad husbands too!'

Another time, a young woman at twelve o'clock in the open day, got
through, darted along; and, before Waterloo could come near her,
jumped upon the parapet, and shot herself over sideways. Alarm
given, watermen put off, lucky escape. - Clothes buoyed her up.

'This is where it is,' said Waterloo. 'If people jump off straight
forwards from the middle of the parapet of the bays of the bridge,
they are seldom killed by drowning, but are smashed, poor things;
that's what THEY are; they dash themselves upon the buttress of the
bridge. But you jump off,' said Waterloo to me, putting his fore-
finger in a button-hole of my great-coat; 'you jump off from the
side of the bay, and you'll tumble, true, into the stream under the
arch. What you have got to do, is to mind how you jump in! There
was poor Tom Steele from Dublin. Didn't dive! Bless you, didn't
dive at all! Fell down so flat into the water, that he broke his
breast-bone, and lived two days!'

I asked Waterloo if there were a favourite side of his bridge for
this dreadful purpose? He reflected, and thought yes, there was.
He should say the Surrey side.

Three decent-looking men went through one day, soberly and quietly,
and went on abreast for about a dozen yards: when the middle one,
he sung out, all of a sudden, 'Here goes, Jack!' and was over in a
minute.

Body found? Well. Waterloo didn't rightly recollect about that.
They were compositors, THEY were.

He considered it astonishing how quick people were! Why, there was
a cab came up one Boxing-night, with a young woman in it, who
looked, according to Waterloo's opinion of her, a little the worse
for liquor; very handsome she was too - very handsome. She stopped
the cab at the gate, and said she'd pay the cabman then, which she
did, though there was a little hankering about the fare, because at
first she didn't seem quite to know where she wanted to be drove
to. However, she paid the man, and the toll too, and looking
Waterloo in the face (he thought she knew him, don't you see!)
said, 'I'll finish it somehow!' Well, the cab went off, leaving
Waterloo a little doubtful in his mind, and while it was going on
at full speed the young woman jumped out, never fell, hardly
staggered, ran along the bridge pavement a little way, passing
several people, and jumped over from the second opening. At the
inquest it was giv' in evidence that she had been quarrelling at
the Hero of Waterloo, and it was brought in jealousy. (One of the
results of Waterloo's experience was, that there was a deal of
jealousy about.)

'Do we ever get madmen?' said Waterloo, in answer to an inquiry of
mine. 'Well, we DO get madmen. Yes, we have had one or two;
escaped from 'Sylums, I suppose. One hadn't a halfpenny; and
because I wouldn't let him through, he went back a little way,
stooped down, took a run, and butted at the hatch like a ram. He
smashed his hat rarely, but his head didn't seem no worse - in my
opinion on account of his being wrong in it afore. Sometimes
people haven't got a halfpenny. If they are really tired and poor
we give 'em one and let 'em through. Other people will leave
things - pocket-handkerchiefs mostly. I HAVE taken cravats and
gloves, pocket-knives, tooth-picks, studs, shirt-pins, rings
(generally from young gents, early in the morning), but
handkerchiefs is the general thing.'

'Regular customers?' said Waterloo. 'Lord, yes! We have regular
customers. One, such a worn-out, used-up old file as you can
scarcely picter, comes from the Surrey side as regular as ten
o'clock at night comes; and goes over, I think, to some flash house
on the Middlesex side. He comes back, he does, as reg'lar as the
clock strikes three in the morning, and then can hardly drag one of
his old legs after the other. He always turns down the water-
stairs, comes up again, and then goes on down the Waterloo Road.
He always does the same thing, and never varies a minute. Does it
every night - even Sundays.'

I asked Waterloo if he had given his mind to the possibility of
this particular customer going down the water-stairs at three
o'clock some morning, and never coming up again? He didn't think
THAT of him, he replied. In fact, it was Waterloo's opinion,
founded on his observation of that file, that he know'd a trick
worth two of it.

'There's another queer old customer,' said Waterloo, 'comes over,
as punctual as the almanack, at eleven o'clock on the sixth of
January, at eleven o'clock on the fifth of April, at eleven o'clock
on the sixth of July, at eleven o'clock on the tenth of October.
Drives a shaggy little, rough pony, in a sort of a rattle-trap arm-
chair sort of a thing. White hair he has, and white whiskers, and
muffles himself up with all manner of shawls. He comes back again
the same afternoon, and we never see more of him for three months.
He is a captain in the navy - retired - wery old - wery odd - and
served with Lord Nelson. He is particular about drawing his
pension at Somerset House afore the clock strikes twelve every
quarter. I HAVE heerd say that he thinks it wouldn't be according
to the Act of Parliament, if he didn't draw it afore twelve.'

Having related these anecdotes in a natural manner, which was the
best warranty in the world for their genuine nature, our friend
Waterloo was sinking deep into his shawl again, as having exhausted
his communicative powers and taken in enough east wind, when my
other friend Pea in a moment brought him to the surface by asking
whether he had not been occasionally the subject of assault and
battery in the execution of his duty? Waterloo recovering his
spirits, instantly dashed into a new branch of his subject. We
learnt how 'both these teeth' - here he pointed to the places where
two front teeth were not - were knocked out by an ugly customer who
one night made a dash at him (Waterloo) while his (the ugly
customer's) pal and coadjutor made a dash at the toll-taking apron
where the money-pockets were; how Waterloo, letting the teeth go
(to Blazes, he observed indefinitely), grappled with the apron-
seizer, permitting the ugly one to run away; and how he saved the
bank, and captured his man, and consigned him to fine and
imprisonment. Also how, on another night, 'a Cove' laid hold of
Waterloo, then presiding at the horse-gate of his bridge, and threw
him unceremoniously over his knee, having first cut his head open
with his whip. How Waterloo 'got right,' and started after the
Cove all down the Waterloo Road, through Stamford Street, and round
to the foot of Blackfriars Bridge, where the Cove 'cut into' a
public-house. How Waterloo cut in too; but how an aider and
abettor of the Cove's, who happened to be taking a promiscuous
drain at the bar, stopped Waterloo; and the Cove cut out again, ran
across the road down Holland Street, and where not, and into a
beer-shop. How Waterloo breaking away from his detainer was close
upon the Cove's heels, attended by no end of people, who, seeing
him running with the blood streaming down his face, thought
something worse was 'up,' and roared Fire! and Murder! on the
hopeful chance of the matter in hand being one or both. How the
Cove was ignominiously taken, in a shed where he had run to hide,
and how at the Police Court they at first wanted to make a sessions
job of it; but eventually Waterloo was allowed to be 'spoke to,'
and the Cove made it square with Waterloo by paying his doctor's
bill (W. was laid up for a week) and giving him 'Three, ten.'
Likewise we learnt what we had faintly suspected before, that your
sporting amateur on the Derby day, albeit a captain, can be - 'if
he be,' as Captain Bobadil observes, 'so generously minded' -
anything but a man of honour and a gentleman; not sufficiently
gratifying his nice sense of humour by the witty scattering of
flour and rotten eggs on obtuse civilians, but requiring the
further excitement of 'bilking the toll,' and 'Pitching into'
Waterloo, and 'cutting him about the head with his whip;' finally
being, when called upon to answer for the assault, what Waterloo
described as 'Minus,' or, as I humbly conceived it, not to be
found. Likewise did Waterloo inform us, in reply to my inquiries,
admiringly and deferentially preferred through my friend Pea, that
the takings at the Bridge had more than doubled in amount, since
the reduction of the toll one half. And being asked if the
aforesaid takings included much bad money, Waterloo responded, with
a look far deeper than the deepest part of the river, HE should
think not! - and so retired into his shawl for the rest of the
night.

Then did Pea and I once more embark in our four-oared galley, and
glide swiftly down the river with the tide. And while the shrewd
East rasped and notched us, as with jagged razors, did my friend
Pea impart to me confidences of interest relating to the Thames
Police; we, between whiles, finding 'duty boats' hanging in dark
corners under banks, like weeds - our own was a 'supervision boat'
- and they, as they reported 'all right!' flashing their hidden
light on us, and we flashing ours on them. These duty boats had
one sitter in each: an Inspector: and were rowed 'Ran-dan,' which -
for the information of those who never graduated, as I was once
proud to do, under a fireman-waterman and winner of Kean's Prize
Wherry: who, in the course of his tuition, took hundreds of gallons
of rum and egg (at my expense) at the various houses of note above
and below bridge; not by any means because he liked it, but to cure
a weakness in his liver, for which the faculty had particularly
recommended it - may be explained as rowed by three men, two
pulling an oar each, and one a pair of sculls.

Thus, floating down our black highway, sullenly frowned upon by the
knitted brows of Blackfriars, Southwark, and London, each in his
lowering turn, I was shown by my friend Pea that there are, in the
Thames Police Force, whose district extends from Battersea to
Barking Creek, ninety-eight men, eight duty boats, and two
supervision boats; and that these go about so silently, and lie in
wait in such dark places, and so seem to be nowhere, and so may be
anywhere, that they have gradually become a police of prevention,
keeping the river almost clear of any great crimes, even while the
increased vigilance on shore has made it much harder than of yore
to live by 'thieving' in the streets. And as to the various kinds
of water-thieves, said my friend Pea, there were the Tier-rangers,
who silently dropped alongside the tiers of shipping in the Pool,
by night, and who, going to the companion-head, listened for two
snores - snore number one, the skipper's; snore number two, the
mate's - mates and skippers always snoring great guns, and being
dead sure to be hard at it if they had turned in and were asleep.
Hearing the double fire, down went the Rangers into the skippers'
cabins; groped for the skippers' inexpressibles, which it was the
custom of those gentlemen to shake off, watch, money, braces,
boots, and all together, on the floor; and therewith made off as
silently as might be. Then there were the Lumpers, or labourers
employed to unload vessels. They wore loose canvas jackets with a
broad hem in the bottom, turned inside, so as to form a large
circular pocket in which they could conceal, like clowns in
pantomimes, packages of surprising sizes. A great deal of property
was stolen in this manner (Pea confided to me) from steamers;
first, because steamers carry a larger number of small packages
than other ships; next, because of the extreme rapidity with which
they are obliged to be unladen for their return voyages. The
Lumpers dispose of their booty easily to marine store dealers, and
the only remedy to be suggested is that marine store shops should
be licensed, and thus brought under the eye of the police as
rigidly as public-houses. Lumpers also smuggle goods ashore for
the crews of vessels. The smuggling of tobacco is so considerable,
that it is well worth the while of the sellers of smuggled tobacco
to use hydraulic presses, to squeeze a single pound into a package
small enough to be contained in an ordinary pocket. Next, said my
friend Pea, there were the Truckers - less thieves than smugglers,
whose business it was to land more considerable parcels of goods
than the Lumpers could manage. They sometimes sold articles of
grocery and so forth, to the crews, in order to cloak their real
calling, and get aboard without suspicion. Many of them had boats
of their own, and made money. Besides these, there were the
Dredgermen, who, under pretence of dredging up coals and such like
from the bottom of the river, hung about barges and other undecked
craft, and when they saw an opportunity, threw any property they
could lay their hands on overboard: in order slyly to dredge it up
when the vessel was gone. Sometimes, they dexterously used their
dredges to whip away anything that might lie within reach. Some of
them were mighty neat at this, and the accomplishment was called
dry dredging. Then, there was a vast deal of property, such as
copper nails, sheathing, hardwood, &c., habitually brought away by
shipwrights and other workmen from their employers' yards, and
disposed of to marine store dealers, many of whom escaped detection
through hard swearing, and their extraordinary artful ways of
accounting for the possession of stolen property. Likewise, there
were special-pleading practitioners, for whom barges 'drifted away
of their own selves' - they having no hand in it, except first
cutting them loose, and afterwards plundering them - innocents,
meaning no harm, who had the misfortune to observe those foundlings
wandering about the Thames.

We were now going in and out, with little noise and great nicety,
among the tiers of shipping, whose many hulls, lying close
together, rose out of the water like black streets. Here and
there, a Scotch, an Irish, or a foreign steamer, getting up her
steam as the tide made, looked, with her great chimney and high
sides, like a quiet factory among the common buildings. Now, the
streets opened into clearer spaces, now contracted into alleys; but
the tiers were so like houses, in the dark, that I could almost
have believed myself in the narrower bye-ways of Venice.
Everything was wonderfully still; for, it wanted full three hours
of flood, and nothing seemed awake but a dog here and there.

So we took no Tier-rangers captive, nor any Lumpers, nor Truckers,
nor Dredgermen, nor other evil-disposed person or persons; but went
ashore at Wapping, where the old Thames Police office is now a
station-house, and where the old Court, with its cabin windows
looking on the river, is a quaint charge room: with nothing worse
in it usually than a stuffed cat in a glass case, and a portrait,
pleasant to behold, of a rare old Thames Police officer, Mr.
Superintendent Evans, now succeeded by his son. We looked over the
charge books, admirably kept, and found the prevention so good that
there were not five hundred entries (including drunken and
disorderly) in a whole year. Then, we looked into the store-room;
where there was an oakum smell, and a nautical seasoning of
dreadnought clothing, rope yarn, boat-hooks, sculls and oars, spare
stretchers, rudders, pistols, cutlasses, and the like. Then, into
the cell, aired high up in the wooden wall through an opening like
a kitchen plate-rack: wherein there was a drunken man, not at all
warm, and very wishful to know if it were morning yet. Then, into
a better sort of watch and ward room, where there was a squadron of
stone bottles drawn up, ready to be filled with hot water and
applied to any unfortunate creature who might be brought in
apparently drowned. Finally, we shook hands with our worthy friend
Pea, and ran all the way to Tower Hill, under strong Police
suspicion occasionally, before we got warm.

A WALK IN A WORKHOUSE

ON a certain Sunday, I formed one of the congregation assembled in
the chapel of a large metropolitan Workhouse. With the exception
of the clergyman and clerk, and a very few officials, there were
none but paupers present. The children sat in the galleries; the
women in the body of the chapel, and in one of the side aisles; the
men in the remaining aisle. The service was decorously performed,
though the sermon might have been much better adapted to the
comprehension and to the circumstances of the hearers. The usual
supplications were offered, with more than the usual significancy
in such a place, for the fatherless children and widows, for all
sick persons and young children, for all that were desolate and
oppressed, for the comforting and helping of the weak-hearted, for
the raising-up of them that had fallen; for all that were in
danger, necessity, and tribulation. The prayers of the
congregation were desired 'for several persons in the various wards
dangerously ill;' and others who were recovering returned their
thanks to Heaven.

Among this congregation, were some evil-looking young women, and
beetle-browed young men; but not many - perhaps that kind of
characters kept away. Generally, the faces (those of the children
excepted) were depressed and subdued, and wanted colour. Aged
people were there, in every variety. Mumbling, blear-eyed,
spectacled, stupid, deaf, lame; vacantly winking in the gleams of
sun that now and then crept in through the open doors, from the
paved yard; shading their listening ears, or blinking eyes, with
their withered hands; poring over their books, leering at nothing,
going to sleep, crouching and drooping in corners. There were
weird old women, all skeleton within, all bonnet and cloak without,
continually wiping their eyes with dirty dusters of pocket-
handkerchiefs; and there were ugly old crones, both male and
female, with a ghastly kind of contentment upon them which was not
at all comforting to see. Upon the whole, it was the dragon,
Pauperism, in a very weak and impotent condition; toothless,
fangless, drawing his breath heavily enough, and hardly worth
chaining up.

When the service was over, I walked with the humane and
conscientious gentleman whose duty it was to take that walk, that
Sunday morning, through the little world of poverty enclosed within
the workhouse walls. It was inhabited by a population of some
fifteen hundred or two thousand paupers, ranging from the infant
newly born or not yet come into the pauper world, to the old man
dying on his bed.

In a room opening from a squalid yard, where a number of listless
women were lounging to and fro, trying to get warm in the
ineffectual sunshine of the tardy May morning - in the 'Itch Ward,'
not to compromise the truth - a woman such as HOGARTH has often
drawn, was hurriedly getting on her gown before a dusty fire. She
was the nurse, or wardswoman, of that insalubrious department -
herself a pauper - flabby, raw-boned, untidy - unpromising and
coarse of aspect as need be. But, on being spoken to about the
patients whom she had in charge, she turned round, with her shabby
gown half on, half off, and fell a crying with all her might. Not
for show, not querulously, not in any mawkish sentiment, but in the
deep grief and affliction of her heart; turning away her
dishevelled head: sobbing most bitterly, wringing her hands, and
letting fall abundance of great tears, that choked her utterance.
What was the matter with the nurse of the itch-ward? Oh, 'the
dropped child' was dead! Oh, the child that was found in the
street, and she had brought up ever since, had died an hour ago,
and see where the little creature lay, beneath this cloth! The
dear, the pretty dear!

The dropped child seemed too small and poor a thing for Death to be
in earnest with, but Death had taken it; and already its diminutive
form was neatly washed, composed, and stretched as if in sleep upon
a box. I thought I heard a voice from Heaven saying, It shall be
well for thee, O nurse of the itch-ward, when some less gentle
pauper does those offices to thy cold form, that such as the
dropped child are the angels who behold my Father's face!

In another room, were several ugly old women crouching, witch-like,
round a hearth, and chattering and nodding, after the manner of the
monkeys. 'All well here? And enough to eat?' A general
chattering and chuckling; at last an answer from a volunteer. 'Oh
yes, gentleman! Bless you, gentleman! Lord bless the Parish of
St. So-and-So! It feed the hungry, sir, and give drink to the
thusty, and it warm them which is cold, so it do, and good luck to
the parish of St. So-and-So, and thankee, gentleman!' Elsewhere, a
party of pauper nurses were at dinner. 'How do YOU get on?' 'Oh
pretty well, sir! We works hard, and we lives hard - like the
sodgers!'

In another room, a kind of purgatory or place of transition, six or
eight noisy madwomen were gathered together, under the
superintendence of one sane attendant. Among them was a girl of
two or three and twenty, very prettily dressed, of most respectable
appearance and good manners, who had been brought in from the house
where she had lived as domestic servant (having, I suppose, no
friends), on account of being subject to epileptic fits, and
requiring to be removed under the influence of a very bad one. She
was by no means of the same stuff, or the same breeding, or the
same experience, or in the same state of mind, as those by whom she
was surrounded; and she pathetically complained that the daily
association and the nightly noise made her worse, and was driving
her mad - which was perfectly evident. The case was noted for
inquiry and redress, but she said she had already been there for
some weeks.

If this girl had stolen her mistress's watch, I do not hesitate to
say she would have been infinitely better off. We have come to
this absurd, this dangerous, this monstrous pass, that the
dishonest felon is, in respect of cleanliness, order, diet, and
accommodation, better provided for, and taken care of, than the
honest pauper.

And this conveys no special imputation on the workhouse of the
parish of St. So-and-So, where, on the contrary, I saw many things
to commend. It was very agreeable, recollecting that most infamous
and atrocious enormity committed at Tooting - an enormity which, a
hundred years hence, will still be vividly remembered in the bye-
ways of English life, and which has done more to engender a gloomy
discontent and suspicion among many thousands of the people than
all the Chartist leaders could have done in all their lives - to
find the pauper children in this workhouse looking robust and well,
and apparently the objects of very great care. In the Infant
School - a large, light, airy room at the top of the building - the
little creatures, being at dinner, and eating their potatoes
heartily, were not cowed by the presence of strange visitors, but
stretched out their small hands to be shaken, with a very pleasant
confidence. And it was comfortable to see two mangy pauper
rocking-horses rampant in a corner. In the girls' school, where
the dinner was also in progress, everything bore a cheerful and
healthy aspect. The meal was over, in the boys' school, by the
time of our arrival there, and the room was not yet quite
rearranged; but the boys were roaming unrestrained about a large
and airy yard, as any other schoolboys might have done. Some of
them had been drawing large ships upon the schoolroom wall; and if
they had a mast with shrouds and stays set up for practice (as they
have in the Middlesex House of Correction), it would be so much the
better. At present, if a boy should feel a strong impulse upon him
to learn the art of going aloft, he could only gratify it, I
presume, as the men and women paupers gratify their aspirations
after better board and lodging, by smashing as many workhouse
windows as possible, and being promoted to prison.

In one place, the Newgate of the Workhouse, a company of boys and
youths were locked up in a yard alone; their day-room being a kind
of kennel where the casual poor used formerly to be littered down
at night. Divers of them had been there some long time. 'Are they
never going away?' was the natural inquiry. 'Most of them are
crippled, in some form or other,' said the Wardsman, 'and not fit
for anything.' They slunk about, like dispirited wolves or
hyaenas; and made a pounce at their food when it was served out,
much as those animals do. The big-headed idiot shuffling his feet
along the pavement, in the sunlight outside, was a more agreeable
object everyway.

Groves of babies in arms; groves of mothers and other sick women in
bed; groves of lunatics; jungles of men in stone-paved down-stairs
day-rooms, waiting for their dinners; longer and longer groves of
old people, in up-stairs Infirmary wards, wearing out life, God
knows how - this was the scenery through which the walk lay, for
two hours. In some of these latter chambers, there were pictures
stuck against the wall, and a neat display of crockery and pewter
on a kind of sideboard; now and then it was a treat to see a plant
or two; in almost every ward there was a cat.

In all of these Long Walks of aged and infirm, some old people were
bedridden, and had been for a long time; some were sitting on their
beds half-naked; some dying in their beds; some out of bed, and
sitting at a table near the fire. A sullen or lethargic
indifference to what was asked, a blunted sensibility to everything
but warmth and food, a moody absence of complaint as being of no
use, a dogged silence and resentful desire to be left alone again,
I thought were generally apparent. On our walking into the midst
of one of these dreary perspectives of old men, nearly the
following little dialogue took place, the nurse not being
immediately at hand:

'All well here?'

No answer. An old man in a Scotch cap sitting among others on a
form at the table, eating out of a tin porringer, pushes back his
cap a little to look at us, claps it down on his forehead again
with the palm of his hand, and goes on eating.

'All well here?' (repeated).

No answer. Another old man sitting on his bed, paralytically
peeling a boiled potato, lifts his head and stares.

'Enough to eat?'

No answer. Another old man, in bed, turns himself and coughs.

'How are YOU to-day?' To the last old man.

That old man says nothing; but another old man, a tall old man of
very good address, speaking with perfect correctness, comes forward
from somewhere, and volunteers an answer. The reply almost always
proceeds from a volunteer, and not from the person looked at or
spoken to.

'We are very old, sir,' in a mild, distinct voice. 'We can't
expect to be well, most of us.'

'Are you comfortable?'

'I have no complaint to make, sir.' With a half shake of his head,
a half shrug of his shoulders, and a kind of apologetic smile.

'Enough to eat?'

'Why, sir, I have but a poor appetite,' with the same air as
before; 'and yet I get through my allowance very easily.'

'But,' showing a porringer with a Sunday dinner in it; 'here is a
portion of mutton, and three potatoes. You can't starve on that?'

'Oh dear no, sir,' with the same apologetic air. 'Not starve.'

'What do you want?'

'We have very little bread, sir. It's an exceedingly small
quantity of bread.'

The nurse, who is now rubbing her hands at the questioner's elbow,
interferes with, 'It ain't much raly, sir. You see they've only
six ounces a day, and when they've took their breakfast, there CAN
only be a little left for night, sir.'

Another old man, hitherto invisible, rises out of his bed-clothes,
as out of a grave, and looks on.

'You have tea at night?' The questioner is still addressing the
well-spoken old man.

'Yes, sir, we have tea at night.'

'And you save what bread you can from the morning, to eat with it?'

'Yes, sir - if we can save any.'

'And you want more to eat with it?'

'Yes, sir.' With a very anxious face.

The questioner, in the kindness of his heart, appears a little
discomposed, and changes the subject.

'What has become of the old man who used to lie in that bed in the
corner?'

The nurse don't remember what old man is referred to. There has
been such a many old men. The well-spoken old man is doubtful.
The spectral old man who has come to life in bed, says, 'Billy
Stevens.' Another old man who has previously had his head in the
fireplace, pipes out,

'Charley Walters.'

Something like a feeble interest is awakened. I suppose Charley
Walters had conversation in him.

'He's dead,' says the piping old man.

Another old man, with one eye screwed up, hastily displaces the
piping old man, and says.

'Yes! Charley Walters died in that bed, and - and - '

'Billy Stevens,' persists the spectral old man.

'No, no! and Johnny Rogers died in that bed, and - and - they're
both on 'em dead - and Sam'l Bowyer;' this seems very extraordinary
to him; 'he went out!'

With this he subsides, and all the old men (having had quite enough
of it) subside, and the spectral old man goes into his grave again,
and takes the shade of Billy Stevens with him.

As we turn to go out at the door, another previously invisible old
man, a hoarse old man in a flannel gown, is standing there, as if
he had just come up through the floor.

'I beg your pardon, sir, could I take the liberty of saying a
word?'

'Yes; what is it?'

'I am greatly better in my health, sir; but what I want, to get me
quite round,' with his hand on his throat, 'is a little fresh air,
sir. It has always done my complaint so much good, sir. The
regular leave for going out, comes round so seldom, that if the
gentlemen, next Friday, would give me leave to go out walking, now
and then - for only an hour or so, sir! - '

Who could wonder, looking through those weary vistas of bed and
infirmity, that it should do him good to meet with some other
scenes, and assure himself that there was something else on earth?
Who could help wondering why the old men lived on as they did; what
grasp they had on life; what crumbs of interest or occupation they
could pick up from its bare board; whether Charley Walters had ever
described to them the days when he kept company with some old
pauper woman in the bud, or Billy Stevens ever told them of the
time when he was a dweller in the far-off foreign land called Home!

The morsel of burnt child, lying in another room, so patiently, in
bed, wrapped in lint, and looking steadfastly at us with his bright
quiet eyes when we spoke to him kindly, looked as if the knowledge
of these things, and of all the tender things there are to think
about, might have been in his mind - as if he thought, with us,
that there was a fellow-feeling in the pauper nurses which appeared
to make them more kind to their charges than the race of common
nurses in the hospitals - as if he mused upon the Future of some
older children lying around him in the same place, and thought it
best, perhaps, all things considered, that he should die - as if he
knew, without fear, of those many coffins, made and unmade, piled
up in the store below - and of his unknown friend, 'the dropped
child,' calm upon the box-lid covered with a cloth. But there was
something wistful and appealing, too, in his tiny face, as if, in
the midst of all the hard necessities and incongruities he pondered
on, he pleaded, in behalf of the helpless and the aged poor, for a
little more liberty - and a little more bread.

PRINCE BULL. A FAIRY TALE

ONCE upon a time, and of course it was in the Golden Age, and I
hope you may know when that was, for I am sure I don't, though I
have tried hard to find out, there lived in a rich and fertile
country, a powerful Prince whose name was BULL. He had gone
through a great deal of fighting, in his time, about all sorts of
things, including nothing; but, had gradually settled down to be a
steady, peaceable, good-natured, corpulent, rather sleepy Prince.

This Puissant Prince was married to a lovely Princess whose name
was Fair Freedom. She had brought him a large fortune, and had
borne him an immense number of children, and had set them to
spinning, and farming, and engineering, and soldiering, and
sailoring, and doctoring, and lawyering, and preaching, and all
kinds of trades. The coffers of Prince Bull were full of treasure,
his cellars were crammed with delicious wines from all parts of the
world, the richest gold and silver plate that ever was seen adorned
his sideboards, his sons were strong, his daughters were handsome,
and in short you might have supposed that if there ever lived upon
earth a fortunate and happy Prince, the name of that Prince, take
him for all in all, was assuredly Prince Bull.

But, appearances, as we all know, are not always to be trusted -
far from it; and if they had led you to this conclusion respecting
Prince Bull, they would have led you wrong as they often have led
me.

For, this good Prince had two sharp thorns in his pillow, two hard
knobs in his crown, two heavy loads on his mind, two unbridled
nightmares in his sleep, two rocks ahead in his course. He could
not by any means get servants to suit him, and he had a tyrannical
old godmother, whose name was Tape.

She was a Fairy, this Tape, and was a bright red all over. She was
disgustingly prim and formal, and could never bend herself a hair's
breadth this way or that way, out of her naturally crooked shape.
But, she was very potent in her wicked art. She could stop the
fastest thing in the world, change the strongest thing into the
weakest, and the most useful into the most useless. To do this she
had only to put her cold hand upon it, and repeat her own name,
Tape. Then it withered away.

At the Court of Prince Bull - at least I don't mean literally at
his court, because he was a very genteel Prince, and readily
yielded to his godmother when she always reserved that for his
hereditary Lords and Ladies - in the dominions of Prince Bull,
among the great mass of the community who were called in the
language of that polite country the Mobs and the Snobs, were a
number of very ingenious men, who were always busy with some
invention or other, for promoting the prosperity of the Prince's
subjects, and augmenting the Prince's power. But, whenever they
submitted their models for the Prince's approval, his godmother
stepped forward, laid her hand upon them, and said 'Tape.' Hence
it came to pass, that when any particularly good discovery was
made, the discoverer usually carried it off to some other Prince,
in foreign parts, who had no old godmother who said Tape. This was
not on the whole an advantageous state of things for Prince Bull,
to the best of my understanding.

The worst of it was, that Prince Bull had in course of years lapsed
into such a state of subjection to this unlucky godmother, that he
never made any serious effort to rid himself of her tyranny. I
have said this was the worst of it, but there I was wrong, because
there is a worse consequence still, behind. The Prince's numerous
family became so downright sick and tired of Tape, that when they
should have helped the Prince out of the difficulties into which
that evil creature led him, they fell into a dangerous habit of
moodily keeping away from him in an impassive and indifferent
manner, as though they had quite forgotten that no harm could
happen to the Prince their father, without its inevitably affecting
themselves.

Such was the aspect of affairs at the court of Prince Bull, when
this great Prince found it necessary to go to war with Prince Bear.
He had been for some time very doubtful of his servants, who,
besides being indolent and addicted to enriching their families at
his expense, domineered over him dreadfully; threatening to
discharge themselves if they were found the least fault with,
pretending that they had done a wonderful amount of work when they
had done nothing, making the most unmeaning speeches that ever were
heard in the Prince's name, and uniformly showing themselves to be
very inefficient indeed. Though, that some of them had excellent
characters from previous situations is not to be denied. Well;
Prince Bull called his servants together, and said to them one and
all, 'Send out my army against Prince Bear. Clothe it, arm it,
feed it, provide it with all necessaries and contingencies, and I
will pay the piper! Do your duty by my brave troops,' said the
Prince, 'and do it well, and I will pour my treasure out like
water, to defray the cost. Who ever heard ME complain of money
well laid out!' Which indeed he had reason for saying, inasmuch as
he was well known to be a truly generous and munificent Prince.

When the servants heard those words, they sent out the army against
Prince Bear, and they set the army tailors to work, and the army
provision merchants, and the makers of guns both great and small,
and the gunpowder makers, and the makers of ball, shell, and shot;
and they bought up all manner of stores and ships, without
troubling their heads about the price, and appeared to be so busy
that the good Prince rubbed his hands, and (using a favourite
expression of his), said, 'It's all right I' But, while they were
thus employed, the Prince's godmother, who was a great favourite
with those servants, looked in upon them continually all day long,
and whenever she popped in her head at the door said, How do you
do, my children? What are you doing here?' 'Official business,
godmother.' 'Oho!' says this wicked Fairy. '- Tape!' And then
the business all went wrong, whatever it was, and the servants'
heads became so addled and muddled that they thought they were
doing wonders.

Now, this was very bad conduct on the part of the vicious old
nuisance, and she ought to have been strangled, even if she had
stopped here; but, she didn't stop here, as you shall learn. For,
a number of the Prince's subjects, being very fond of the Prince's
army who were the bravest of men, assembled together and provided
all manner of eatables and drinkables, and books to read, and
clothes to wear, and tobacco to smoke, and candies to burn, and
nailed them up in great packing-cases, and put them aboard a great
many ships, to be carried out to that brave army in the cold and
inclement country where they were fighting Prince Bear. Then, up
comes this wicked Fairy as the ships were weighing anchor, and
says, 'How do you do, my children? What are you doing here?' - 'We
are going with all these comforts to the army, godmother.' - 'Oho!'
says she. 'A pleasant voyage, my darlings. - Tape!' And from that
time forth, those enchanting ships went sailing, against wind and
tide and rhyme and reason, round and round the world, and whenever
they touched at any port were ordered off immediately, and could
never deliver their cargoes anywhere.

This, again, was very bad conduct on the part of the vicious old
nuisance, and she ought to have been strangled for it if she had
done nothing worse; but, she did something worse still, as you
shall learn. For, she got astride of an official broomstick, and
muttered as a spell these two sentences, 'On Her Majesty's
service,' and 'I have the honour to be, sir, your most obedient
servant,' and presently alighted in the cold and inclement country
where the army of Prince Bull were encamped to fight the army of
Prince Bear. On the sea-shore of that country, she found piled
together, a number of houses for the army to live in, and a
quantity of provisions for the army to live upon, and a quantity of
clothes for the army to wear: while, sitting in the mud gazing at
them, were a group of officers as red to look at as the wicked old
woman herself. So, she said to one of them, 'Who are you, my
darling, and how do you do?' - 'I am the Quartermaster General's
Department, godmother, and I am pretty well.' Then she said to
another, 'Who are YOU, my darling, and how do YOU do?' - 'I am the
Commissariat Department, godmother, and I am pretty well! Then she
said to another, 'Who are YOU, my darling, and how do YOU do?' - 'I
am the Head of the Medical Department, godmother, and I am pretty
well.' Then, she said to some gentlemen scented with lavender, who
kept themselves at a great distance from the rest, 'And who are
YOU, my pretty pets, and how do YOU do?' And they answered, 'We-
aw-are-the-aw-Staff-aw-Department, godmother, and we are very well
indeed.' - 'I am delighted to see you all, my beauties,' says this
wicked old Fairy, ' - Tape!' Upon that, the houses, clothes, and
provisions, all mouldered away; and the soldiers who were sound,
fell sick; and the soldiers who were sick, died miserably: and the
noble army of Prince Bull perished.

When the dismal news of his great loss was carried to the Prince,
he suspected his godmother very much indeed; but, he knew that his
servants must have kept company with the malicious beldame, and
must have given way to her, and therefore he resolved to turn those
servants out of their places. So, he called to him a Roebuck who
had the gift of speech, and he said, 'Good Roebuck, tell them they
must go.' So, the good Roebuck delivered his message, so like a
man that you might have supposed him to be nothing but a man, and
they were turned out - but, not without warning, for that they had
had a long time.

And now comes the most extraordinary part of the history of this
Prince. When he had turned out those servants, of course he wanted
others. What was his astonishment to find that in all his
dominions, which contained no less than twenty-seven millions of
people, there were not above five-and-twenty servants altogether!
They were so lofty about it, too, that instead of discussing
whether they should hire themselves as servants to Prince Bull,
they turned things topsy-turvy, and considered whether as a favour
they should hire Prince Bull to be their master! While they were
arguing this point among themselves quite at their leisure, the
wicked old red Fairy was incessantly going up and down, knocking at
the doors of twelve of the oldest of the five-and-twenty, who were
the oldest inhabitants in all that country, and whose united ages
amounted to one thousand, saying, 'Will YOU hire Prince Bull for
your master? - Will YOU hire Prince Bull for your master?' To
which one answered, 'I will if next door will;' and another, 'I
won't if over the way does;' and another, 'I can't if he, she, or
they, might, could, would, or should.' And all this time Prince
Bull's affairs were going to rack and ruin.

At last, Prince Bull in the height of his perplexity assumed a
thoughtful face, as if he were struck by an entirely new idea. The
wicked old Fairy, seeing this, was at his elbow directly, and said,
'How do you do, my Prince, and what are you thinking of?' - 'I am
thinking, godmother,' says he, 'that among all the seven-and-twenty
millions of my subjects who have never been in service, there are
men of intellect and business who have made me very famous both
among my friends and enemies.' - 'Aye, truly?' says the Fairy. -
'Aye, truly,' says the Prince. - 'And what then?' says the Fairy. -
'Why, then,' says he, 'since the regular old class of servants do
so ill, are so hard to get, and carry it with so high a hand,
perhaps I might try to make good servants of some of these.' The
words had no sooner passed his lips than she returned, chuckling,
'You think so, do you? Indeed, my Prince? - Tape!' Thereupon he
directly forgot what he was thinking of, and cried out lamentably
to the old servants, 'O, do come and hire your poor old master!
Pray do! On any terms!'

And this, for the present, finishes the story of Prince Bull. I
wish I could wind it up by saying that he lived happy ever
afterwards, but I cannot in my conscience do so; for, with Tape at
his elbow, and his estranged children fatally repelled by her from
coming near him, I do not, to tell you the plain truth, believe in
the possibility of such an end to it.

A PLATED ARTICLE

PUTTING up for the night in one of the chiefest towns of
Staffordshire, I find it to be by no means a lively town. In fact,
it is as dull and dead a town as any one could desire not to see.
It seems as if its whole population might be imprisoned in its
Railway Station. The Refreshment Room at that Station is a vortex
of dissipation compared with the extinct town-inn, the Dodo, in the
dull High Street.

Why High Street? Why not rather Low Street, Flat Street, Low-
Spirited Street, Used-up Street? Where are the people who belong
to the High Street? Can they all be dispersed over the face of the
country, seeking the unfortunate Strolling Manager who decamped
from the mouldy little Theatre last week, in the beginning of his
season (as his play-bills testify), repentantly resolved to bring
him back, and feed him, and be entertained? Or, can they all be
gathered to their fathers in the two old churchyards near to the
High Street - retirement into which churchyards appears to be a
mere ceremony, there is so very little life outside their confines,
and such small discernible difference between being buried alive in
the town, and buried dead in the town tombs? Over the way,
opposite to the staring blank bow windows of the Dodo, are a little
ironmonger's shop, a little tailor's shop (with a picture of the
Fashions in the small window and a bandy-legged baby on the
pavement staring at it) - a watchmakers shop, where all the clocks
and watches must be stopped, I am sure, for they could never have
the courage to go, with the town in general, and the Dodo in
particular, looking at them. Shade of Miss Linwood, erst of
Leicester Square, London, thou art welcome here, and thy retreat is
fitly chosen! I myself was one of the last visitors to that awful
storehouse of thy life's work, where an anchorite old man and woman
took my shilling with a solemn wonder, and conducting me to a
gloomy sepulchre of needlework dropping to pieces with dust and age
and shrouded in twilight at high noon, left me there, chilled,
frightened, and alone. And now, in ghostly letters on all the dead
walls of this dead town, I read thy honoured name, and find that
thy Last Supper, worked in Berlin Wool, invites inspection as a
powerful excitement!

Where are the people who are bidden with so much cry to this feast
of little wool? Where are they? Who are they? They are not the
bandy-legged baby studying the fashions in the tailor's window.
They are not the two earthy ploughmen lounging outside the
saddler's shop, in the stiff square where the Town Hall stands,
like a brick and mortar private on parade. They are not the
landlady of the Dodo in the empty bar, whose eye had trouble in it
and no welcome, when I asked for dinner. They are not the turnkeys
of the Town Jail, looking out of the gateway in their uniforms, as
if they had locked up all the balance (as my American friends would
say) of the inhabitants, and could now rest a little. They are not
the two dusty millers in the white mill down by the river, where
the great water-wheel goes heavily round and round, like the
monotonous days and nights in this forgotten place. Then who are
they, for there is no one else? No; this deponent maketh oath and
saith that there is no one else, save and except the waiter at the
Dodo, now laying the cloth. I have paced the streets, and stared
at the houses, and am come back to the blank bow window of the
Dodo; and the town clocks strike seven, and the reluctant echoes
seem to cry, 'Don't wake us!' and the bandy-legged baby has gone
home to bed.

If the Dodo were only a gregarious bird - if he had only some
confused idea of making a comfortable nest - I could hope to get
through the hours between this and bed-time, without being consumed
by devouring melancholy. But, the Dodo's habits are all wrong. It
provides me with a trackless desert of sitting-room, with a chair
for every day in the year, a table for every month, and a waste of
sideboard where a lonely China vase pines in a corner for its mate
long departed, and will never make a match with the candlestick in
the opposite corner if it live till Doomsday. The Dodo has nothing
in the larder. Even now, I behold the Boots returning with my sole
in a piece of paper; and with that portion of my dinner, the Boots,
perceiving me at the blank bow window, slaps his leg as he comes
across the road, pretending it is something else. The Dodo
excludes the outer air. When I mount up to my bedroom, a smell of
closeness and flue gets lazily up my nose like sleepy snuff. The
loose little bits of carpet writhe under my tread, and take wormy
shapes. I don't know the ridiculous man in the looking-glass,
beyond having met him once or twice in a dish-cover - and I can
never shave HIM to-morrow morning! The Dodo is narrow-minded as to
towels; expects me to wash on a freemason's apron without the
trimming: when I asked for soap, gives me a stony-hearted something
white, with no more lather in it than the Elgin marbles. The Dodo
has seen better days, and possesses interminable stables at the
back - silent, grass-grown, broken-windowed, horseless.

This mournful bird can fry a sole, however, which is much. Can
cook a steak, too, which is more. I wonder where it gets its
Sherry? If I were to send my pint of wine to some famous chemist
to be analysed, what would it turn out to be made of? It tastes of
pepper, sugar, bitter-almonds, vinegar, warm knives, any flat
drinks, and a little brandy. Would it unman a Spanish exile by
reminding him of his native land at all? I think not. If there
really be any townspeople out of the churchyards, and if a caravan
of them ever do dine, with a bottle of wine per man, in this desert
of the Dodo, it must make good for the doctor next day!

Where was the waiter born? How did he come here? Has he any hope
of getting away from here? Does he ever receive a letter, or take
a ride upon the railway, or see anything but the Dodo? Perhaps he
has seen the Berlin Wool. He appears to have a silent sorrow on
him, and it may be that. He clears the table; draws the dingy
curtains of the great bow window, which so unwillingly consent to
meet, that they must be pinned together; leaves me by the fire with
my pint decanter, and a little thin funnel-shaped wine-glass, and a
plate of pale biscuits - in themselves engendering desperation.

No book, no newspaper! I left the Arabian Nights in the railway
carriage, and have nothing to read but Bradshaw, and 'that way
madness lies.' Remembering what prisoners and ship-wrecked
mariners have done to exercise their minds in solitude, I repeat
the multiplication table, the pence table, and the shilling table:
which are all the tables I happen to know. What if I write
something? The Dodo keeps no pens but steel pens; and those I
always stick through the paper, and can turn to no other account.

What am I to do? Even if I could have the bandy-legged baby
knocked up and brought here, I could offer him nothing but sherry,
and that would be the death of him. He would never hold up his
head again if he touched it. I can't go to bed, because I have
conceived a mortal hatred for my bedroom; and I can't go away,
because there is no train for my place of destination until
morning. To burn the biscuits will be but a fleeting joy; still it
is a temporary relief, and here they go on the fire! Shall I break
the plate? First let me look at the back, and see who made it.
COPELAND.

Copeland! Stop a moment. Was it yesterday I visited Copeland's
works, and saw them making plates? In the confusion of travelling
about, it might be yesterday or it might be yesterday month; but I
think it was yesterday. I appeal to the plate. The plate says,
decidedly, yesterday. I find the plate, as I look at it, growing
into a companion.

Don't you remember (says the plate) how you steamed away, yesterday
morning, in the bright sun and the east wind, along the valley of
the sparkling Trent? Don't you recollect how many kilns you flew
past, looking like the bowls of gigantic tobacco-pipes, cut short
off from the stem and turned upside down? And the fires - and the
smoke - and the roads made with bits of crockery, as if all the
plates and dishes in the civilised world had been Macadamised,
expressly for the laming of all the horses? Of course I do!

And don't you remember (says the plate) how you alighted at Stoke -
a picturesque heap of houses, kilns, smoke, wharfs, canals, and
river, lying (as was most appropriate) in a basin - and how, after
climbing up the sides of the basin to look at the prospect, you
trundled down again at a walking-match pace, and straight proceeded
to my father's, Copeland's, where the whole of my family, high and
low, rich and poor, are turned out upon the world from our nursery
and seminary, covering some fourteen acres of ground? And don't
you remember what we spring from:- heaps of lumps of clay,
partially prepared and cleaned in Devonshire and Dorsetshire,
whence said clay principally comes - and hills of flint, without
which we should want our ringing sound, and should never be
musical? And as to the flint, don't you recollect that it is first
burnt in kilns, and is then laid under the four iron feet of a
demon slave, subject to violent stamping fits, who, when they come
on, stamps away insanely with his four iron legs, and would crush
all the flint in the Isle of Thanet to powder, without leaving off?
And as to the clay, don't you recollect how it is put into mills or
teazers, and is sliced, and dug, and cut at, by endless knives,
clogged and sticky, but persistent - and is pressed out of that
machine through a square trough, whose form it takes - and is cut
off in square lumps and thrown into a vat, and there mixed with
water, and beaten to a pulp by paddle-wheels - and is then run into
a rough house, all rugged beams and ladders splashed with white, -
superintended by Grindoff the Miller in his working clothes, all
splashed with white, - where it passes through no end of machinery-
moved sieves all splashed with white, arranged in an ascending
scale of fineness (some so fine, that three hundred silk threads
cross each other in a single square inch of their surface), and all
in a violent state of ague with their teeth for ever chattering,
and their bodies for ever shivering! And as to the flint again,
isn't it mashed and mollified and troubled and soothed, exactly as
rags are in a paper-mill, until it is reduced to a pap so fine that
it contains no atom of 'grit' perceptible to the nicest taste? And
as to the flint and the clay together, are they not, after all
this, mixed in the proportion of five of clay to one of flint, and
isn't the compound - known as 'slip' - run into oblong troughs,
where its superfluous moisture may evaporate; and finally, isn't it
slapped and banged and beaten and patted and kneaded and wedged and
knocked about like butter, until it becomes a beautiful grey dough,
ready for the potter's use?

In regard of the potter, popularly so called (says the plate), you
don't mean to say you have forgotten that a workman called a
Thrower is the man under whose hand this grey dough takes the
shapes of the simpler household vessels as quickly as the eye can
follow? You don't mean to say you cannot call him up before you,
sitting, with his attendant woman, at his potter's wheel - a disc
about the size of a dinner-plate, revolving on two drums slowly or
quickly as he wills - who made you a complete breakfast-set for a
bachelor, as a good-humoured little off-hand joke? You remember
how he took up as much dough as he wanted, and, throwing it on his
wheel, in a moment fashioned it into a teacup - caught up more clay
and made a saucer - a larger dab and whirled it into a teapot -
winked at a smaller dab and converted it into the lid of the
teapot, accurately fitting by the measurement of his eye alone -
coaxed a middle-sized dab for two seconds, broke it, turned it over
at the rim, and made a milkpot - laughed, and turned out a slop-
basin - coughed, and provided for the sugar? Neither, I think, are
you oblivious of the newer mode of making various articles, but
especially basins, according to which improvement a mould revolves
instead of a disc? For you MUST remember (says the plate) how you
saw the mould of a little basin spinning round and round, and how
the workmen smoothed and pressed a handful of dough upon it, and
how with an instrument called a profile (a piece of wood,
representing the profile of a basin's foot) he cleverly scraped and
carved the ring which makes the base of any such basin, and then
took the basin off the lathe like a doughy skull-cap to be dried,
and afterwards (in what is called a green state) to be put into a
second lathe, there to be finished and burnished with a steel
burnisher? And as to moulding in general (says the plate), it
can't be necessary for me to remind you that all ornamental
articles, and indeed all articles not quite circular, are made in
moulds. For you must remember how you saw the vegetable dishes,
for example, being made in moulds; and how the handles of teacups,
and the spouts of teapots, and the feet of tureens, and so forth,
are all made in little separate moulds, and are each stuck on to
the body corporate, of which it is destined to form a part, with a
stuff called 'slag,' as quickly as you can recollect it. Further,
you learnt - you know you did - in the same visit, how the
beautiful sculptures in the delicate new material called Parian,
are all constructed in moulds; how, into that material, animal
bones are ground up, because the phosphate of lime contained in
bones makes it translucent; how everything is moulded, before going
into the fire, one-fourth larger than it is intended to come out of
the fire, because it shrinks in that proportion in the intense
heat; how, when a figure shrinks unequally, it is spoiled -
emerging from the furnace a misshapen birth; a big head and a
little body, or a little head and a big body, or a Quasimodo with
long arms and short legs, or a Miss Biffin with neither legs nor
arms worth mentioning.

And as to the Kilns, in which the firing takes place, and in which
some of the more precious articles are burnt repeatedly, in various
stages of their process towards completion, - as to the Kilns (says
the plate, warming with the recollection), if you don't remember
THEM with a horrible interest, what did you ever go to Copeland's
for? When you stood inside of one of those inverted bowls of a
Pre-Adamite tobacco-pipe, looking up at the blue sky through the
open top far off, as you might have looked up from a well, sunk
under the centre of the pavement of the Pantheon at Rome, had you
the least idea where you were? And when you found yourself
surrounded, in that dome-shaped cavern, by innumerable columns of
an unearthly order of architecture, supporting nothing, and
squeezed close together as if a Pre-Adamite Samson had taken a vast
Hall in his arms and crushed it into the smallest possible space,
had you the least idea what they were? No (says the plate), of
course not! And when you found that each of those pillars was a
pile of ingeniously made vessels of coarse clay - called Saggers -
looking, when separate, like raised-pies for the table of the
mighty Giant Blunderbore, and now all full of various articles of
pottery ranged in them in baking order, the bottom of each vessel
serving for the cover of the one below, and the whole Kiln rapidly
filling with these, tier upon tier, until the last workman should
have barely room to crawl out, before the closing of the jagged
aperture in the wall and the kindling of the gradual fire; did you
not stand amazed to think that all the year round these dread
chambers are heating, white hot - and cooling - and filling - and
emptying - and being bricked up - and broken open - humanly
speaking, for ever and ever? To be sure you did! And standing in
one of those Kilns nearly full, and seeing a free crow shoot across
the aperture a-top, and learning how the fire would wax hotter and
hotter by slow degrees, and would cool similarly through a space of
from forty to sixty hours, did no remembrance of the days when
human clay was burnt oppress you? Yes. I think so! I suspect
that some fancy of a fiery haze and a shortening breath, and a
growing heat, and a gasping prayer; and a figure in black
interposing between you and the sky (as figures in black are very
apt to do), and looking down, before it grew too hot to look and
live, upon the Heretic in his edifying agony - I say I suspect
(says the plate) that some such fancy was pretty strong upon you
when you went out into the air, and blessed God for the bright
spring day and the degenerate times!

After that, I needn't remind you what a relief it was to see the
simplest process of ornamenting this 'biscuit' (as it is called
when baked) with brown circles and blue trees - converting it into
the common crockery-ware that is exported to Africa, and used in
cottages at home. For (says the plate) I am well persuaded that
you bear in mind how those particular jugs and mugs were once more
set upon a lathe and put in motion; and how a man blew the brown
colour (having a strong natural affinity with the material in that
condition) on them from a blowpipe as they twirled; and how his
daughter, with a common brush, dropped blotches of blue upon them
in the right places; and how, tilting the blotches upside down, she
made them run into rude images of trees, and there an end.

And didn't you see (says the plate) planted upon my own brother
that astounding blue willow, with knobbed and gnarled trunk, and
foliage of blue ostrich feathers, which gives our family the title
of 'willow pattern'? And didn't you observe, transferred upon him
at the same time, that blue bridge which spans nothing, growing out
from the roots of the willow; and the three blue Chinese going over
it into a blue temple, which has a fine crop of blue bushes
sprouting out of the roof; and a blue boat sailing above them, the
mast of which is burglariously sticking itself into the foundations
of a blue villa, suspended sky-high, surmounted by a lump of blue
rock, sky-higher, and a couple of billing blue birds, sky-highest -
together with the rest of that amusing blue landscape, which has,
in deference to our revered ancestors of the Cerulean Empire, and
in defiance of every known law of perspective, adorned millions of
our family ever since the days of platters? Didn't you inspect the
copper-plate on which my pattern was deeply engraved? Didn't you
perceive an impression of it taken in cobalt colour at a
cylindrical press, upon a leaf of thin paper, streaming from a
plunge-bath of soap and water? Wasn't the paper impression
daintily spread, by a light-fingered damsel (you KNOW you admired
her!), over the surface of the plate, and the back of the paper
rubbed prodigiously hard - with a long tight roll of flannel, tied
up like a round of hung beef - without so much as ruffling the
paper, wet as it was? Then (says the plate), was not the paper
washed away with a sponge, and didn't there appear, set off upon
the plate, THIS identical piece of Pre-Raphaelite blue distemper
which you now behold? Not to be denied! I had seen all this - and
more. I had been shown, at Copeland's, patterns of beautiful
design, in faultless perspective, which are causing the ugly old
willow to wither out of public favour; and which, being quite as
cheap, insinuate good wholesome natural art into the humblest
households. When Mr. and Mrs. Sprat have satisfied their material
tastes by that equal division of fat and lean which has made their
MENAGE immortal; and have, after the elegant tradition, 'licked the
platter clean,' they can - thanks to modern artists in clay - feast
their intellectual tastes upon excellent delineations of natural
objects.

This reflection prompts me to transfer my attention from the blue
plate to the forlorn but cheerfully painted vase on the sideboard.
And surely (says the plate) you have not forgotten how the outlines
of such groups of flowers as you see there, are printed, just as I
was printed, and are afterwards shaded and filled in with metallic
colours by women and girls? As to the aristocracy of our order,
made of the finer clay-porcelain peers and peeresses; - the slabs,
and panels, and table-tops, and tazze; the endless nobility and
gentry of dessert, breakfast, and tea services; the gemmed perfume
bottles, and scarlet and gold salvers; you saw that they were
painted by artists, with metallic colours laid on with camel-hair
pencils, and afterwards burnt in.

And talking of burning in (says the plate), didn't you find that
every subject, from the willow pattern to the landscape after
Turner - having been framed upon clay or porcelain biscuit - has to
be glazed? Of course, you saw the glaze - composed of various
vitreous materials - laid over every article; and of course you
witnessed the close imprisonment of each piece in saggers upon the
separate system rigidly enforced by means of fine-pointed
earthenware stilts placed between the articles to prevent the
slightest communication or contact. We had in my time - and I
suppose it is the same now - fourteen hours' firing to fix the
glaze and to make it 'run' all over us equally, so as to put a good
shiny and unscratchable surface upon us. Doubtless, you observed
that one sort of glaze - called printing-body - is burnt into the
better sort of ware BEFORE it is printed. Upon this you saw some
of the finest steel engravings transferred, to be fixed by an after
glazing - didn't you? Why, of course you did!

Of course I did. I had seen and enjoyed everything that the plate
recalled to me, and had beheld with admiration how the rotatory
motion which keeps this ball of ours in its place in the great
scheme, with all its busy mites upon it, was necessary throughout
the process, and could only be dispensed with in the fire. So,
listening to the plate's reminders, and musing upon them, I got
through the evening after all, and went to bed. I made but one
sleep of it - for which I have no doubt I am also indebted to the
plate - and left the lonely Dodo in the morning, quite at peace
with it, before the bandy-legged baby was up.

OUR HONOURABLE FRIEND

WE are delighted to find that he has got in! Our honourable friend
is triumphantly returned to serve in the next Parliament. He is
the honourable member for Verbosity - the best represented place in
England.

Our honourable friend has issued an address of congratulation to
the Electors, which is worthy of that noble constituency, and is a
very pretty piece of composition. In electing him, he says, they
have covered themselves with glory, and England has been true to
herself. (In his preliminary address he had remarked, in a
poetical quotation of great rarity, that nought could make us rue,
if England to herself did prove but true.)

Our honourable friend delivers a prediction, in the same document,
that the feeble minions of a faction will never hold up their heads
any more; and that the finger of scorn will point at them in their
dejected state, through countless ages of time. Further, that the
hireling tools that would destroy the sacred bulwarks of our
nationality are unworthy of the name of Englishman; and that so
long as the sea shall roll around our ocean-girded isle, so long
his motto shall be, No surrender. Certain dogged persons of low
principles and no intellect, have disputed whether anybody knows
who the minions are, or what the faction is, or which are the
hireling tools and which the sacred bulwarks, or what it is that is
never to be surrendered, and if not, why not? But, our honourable
friend the member for Verbosity knows all about it.

Our honourable friend has sat in several parliaments, and given
bushels of votes. He is a man of that profundity in the matter of
vote-giving, that you never know what he means. When he seems to
be voting pure white, he may be in reality voting jet black. When
he says Yes, it is just as likely as not - or rather more so - that
he means No. This is the statesmanship of our honourable friend.
It is in this, that he differs from mere unparliamentary men. YOU
may not know what he meant then, or what he means now; but, our
honourable friend knows, and did from the first know, both what he
meant then, and what he means now; and when he said he didn't mean
it then, he did in fact say, that he means it now. And if you mean
to say that you did not then, and do not now, know what he did mean
then, or does mean now, our honourable friend will be glad to
receive an explicit declaration from you whether you are prepared
to destroy the sacred bulwarks of our nationality.

Our honourable friend, the member for Verbosity, has this great
attribute, that he always means something, and always means the
same thing. When he came down to that House and mournfully boasted
in his place, as an individual member of the assembled Commons of
this great and happy country, that he could lay his hand upon his
heart, and solemnly declare that no consideration on earth should
induce him, at any time or under any circumstances, to go as far
north as Berwick-upon-Tweed; and when he nevertheless, next year,
did go to Berwick-upon-Tweed, and even beyond it, to Edinburgh; he
had one single meaning, one and indivisible. And God forbid (our
honourable friend says) that he should waste another argument upon
the man who professes that he cannot understand it! 'I do NOT,
gentlemen,' said our honourable friend, with indignant emphasis and
amid great cheering, on one such public occasion. 'I do NOT,
gentlemen, I am free to confess, envy the feelings of that man
whose mind is so constituted as that he can hold such language to
me, and yet lay his head upon his pillow, claiming to be a native
of that land,

Whose march is o'er the mountain-wave,
Whose home is on the deep!

(Vehement cheering, and man expelled.)

When our honourable friend issued his preliminary address to the
constituent body of Verbosity on the occasion of one particular
glorious triumph, it was supposed by some of his enemies, that even
he would be placed in a situation of difficulty by the following
comparatively trifling conjunction of circumstances. The dozen
noblemen and gentlemen whom our honourable friend supported, had
'come in,' expressly to do a certain thing. Now, four of the dozen
said, at a certain place, that they didn't mean to do that thing,
and had never meant to do it; another four of the dozen said, at
another certain place, that they did mean to do that thing, and had
always meant to do it; two of the remaining four said, at two other
certain places, that they meant to do half of that thing (but
differed about which half), and to do a variety of nameless wonders
instead of the other half; and one of the remaining two declared
that the thing itself was dead and buried, while the other as
strenuously protested that it was alive and kicking. It was
admitted that the parliamentary genius of our honourable friend
would be quite able to reconcile such small discrepancies as these;
but, there remained the additional difficulty that each of the
twelve made entirely different statements at different places, and
that all the twelve called everything visible and invisible, sacred
and profane, to witness, that they were a perfectly impregnable
phalanx of unanimity. This, it was apprehended, would be a
stumbling-block to our honourable friend.

The difficulty came before our honourable friend, in this way. He
went down to Verbosity to meet his free and independent
constituents, and to render an account (as he informed them in the
local papers) of the trust they had confided to his hands - that
trust which it was one of the proudest privileges of an Englishman
to possess - that trust which it was the proudest privilege of an
Englishman to hold. It may be mentioned as a proof of the great
general interest attaching to the contest, that a Lunatic whom
nobody employed or knew, went down to Verbosity with several
thousand pounds in gold, determined to give the whole away - which
he actually did; and that all the publicans opened their houses for
nothing. Likewise, several fighting men, and a patriotic group of
burglars sportively armed with life-preservers, proceeded (in
barouches and very drunk) to the scene of action at their own
expense; these children of nature having conceived a warm
attachment to our honourable friend, and intending, in their
artless manner, to testify it by knocking the voters in the
opposite interest on the head.

Our honourable friend being come into the presence of his
constituents, and having professed with great suavity that he was
delighted to see his good friend Tipkisson there, in his working-
dress - his good friend Tipkisson being an inveterate saddler, who
always opposes him, and for whom he has a mortal hatred - made them
a brisk, ginger-beery sort of speech, in which he showed them how
the dozen noblemen and gentlemen had (in exactly ten days from
their coming in) exercised a surprisingly beneficial effect on the
whole financial condition of Europe, had altered the state of the
exports and imports for the current half-year, had prevented the
drain of gold, had made all that matter right about the glut of the
raw material, and had restored all sorts of balances with which the
superseded noblemen and gentlemen had played the deuce - and all
this, with wheat at so much a quarter, gold at so much an ounce,
and the Bank of England discounting good bills at so much per
cent.! He might be asked, he observed in a peroration of great
power, what were his principles? His principles were what they
always had been. His principles were written in the countenances
of the lion and unicorn; were stamped indelibly upon the royal
shield which those grand animals supported, and upon the free words
of fire which that shield bore. His principles were, Britannia and
her sea-king trident! His principles were, commercial prosperity
co-existently with perfect and profound agricultural contentment;
but short of this he would never stop. His principles were, these,
- with the addition of his colours nailed to the mast, every man's
heart in the right place, every man's eye open, every man's hand
ready, every man's mind on the alert. His principles were these,
concurrently with a general revision of something - speaking
generally - and a possible readjustment of something else, not to
be mentioned more particularly. His principles, to sum up all in a
word, were, Hearths and Altars, Labour and Capital, Crown and
Sceptre, Elephant and Castle. And now, if his good friend
Tipkisson required any further explanation from him, he (our
honourable friend) was there, willing and ready to give it.

Tipkisson, who all this time had stood conspicuous in the crowd,
with his arms folded and his eyes intently fastened on our
honourable friend: Tipkisson, who throughout our honourable
friend's address had not relaxed a muscle of his visage, but had
stood there, wholly unaffected by the torrent of eloquence: an
object of contempt and scorn to mankind (by which we mean, of
course, to the supporters of our honourable friend); Tipkisson now
said that he was a plain man (Cries of 'You are indeed!'), and that
what he wanted to know was, what our honourable friend and the
dozen noblemen and gentlemen were driving at?

Our honourable friend immediately replied, 'At the illimitable
perspective.'

It was considered by the whole assembly that this happy statement
of our honourable friend's political views ought, immediately, to
have settled Tipkisson's business and covered him with confusion;
but, that implacable person, regardless of the execrations that
were heaped upon him from all sides (by which we mean, of course,
from our honourable friend's side), persisted in retaining an
unmoved countenance, and obstinately retorted that if our
honourable friend meant that, he wished to know what THAT meant?

It was in repelling this most objectionable and indecent
opposition, that our honourable friend displayed his highest
qualifications for the representation of Verbosity. His warmest
supporters present, and those who were best acquainted with his
generalship, supposed that the moment was come when he would fall
back upon the sacred bulwarks of our nationality. No such thing.
He replied thus: 'My good friend Tipkisson, gentlemen, wishes to
know what I mean when he asks me what we are driving at, and when I
candidly tell him, at the illimitable perspective, he wishes (if I
understand him) to know what I mean?' - 'I do!' says Tipkisson,
amid cries of 'Shame' and 'Down with him.' 'Gentlemen,' says our
honourable friend, 'I will indulge my good friend Tipkisson, by
telling him, both what I mean and what I don't mean. (Cheers and
cries of 'Give it him!') Be it known to him then, and to all whom
it may concern, that I do mean altars, hearths, and homes, and that
I don't mean mosques and Mohammedanism!' The effect of this home-
thrust was terrific. Tipkisson (who is a Baptist) was hooted down
and hustled out, and has ever since been regarded as a Turkish
Renegade who contemplates an early pilgrimage to Mecca. Nor was he
the only discomfited man. The charge, while it stuck to him, was
magically transferred to our honourable friend's opponent, who was
represented in an immense variety of placards as a firm believer in
Mahomet; and the men of Verbosity were asked to choose between our
honourable friend and the Bible, and our honourable friend's
opponent and the Koran. They decided for our honourable friend,
and rallied round the illimitable perspective.

It has been claimed for our honourable friend, with much appearance
of reason, that he was the first to bend sacred matters to
electioneering tactics. However this may be, the fine precedent
was undoubtedly set in a Verbosity election: and it is certain that
our honourable friend (who was a disciple of Brahma in his youth,
and was a Buddhist when we had the honour of travelling with him a
few years ago) always professes in public more anxiety than the
whole Bench of Bishops, regarding the theological and doxological
opinions of every man, woman, and child, in the United Kingdom.

As we began by saying that our honourable friend has got in again
at this last election, and that we are delighted to find that he
has got in, so we will conclude. Our honourable friend cannot come
in for Verbosity too often. It is a good sign; it is a great
example. It is to men like our honourable friend, and to contests
like those from which he comes triumphant, that we are mainly
indebted for that ready interest in politics, that fresh enthusiasm
in the discharge of the duties of citizenship, that ardent desire
to rush to the poll, at present so manifest throughout England.
When the contest lies (as it sometimes does) between two such men
as our honourable friend, it stimulates the finest emotions of our
nature, and awakens the highest admiration of which our heads and
hearts are capable.

It is not too much to predict that our honourable friend will be
always at his post in the ensuing session. Whatever the question
be, or whatever the form of its discussion; address to the crown,
election petition, expenditure of the public money, extension of
the public suffrage, education, crime; in the whole house, in
committee of the whole house, in select committee; in every
parliamentary discussion of every subject, everywhere: the
Honourable Member for Verbosity will most certainly be found.

OUR SCHOOL

WE went to look at it, only this last Midsummer, and found that the
Railway had cut it up root and branch. A great trunk-line had
swallowed the playground, sliced away the schoolroom, and pared off
the corner of the house: which, thus curtailed of its proportions,
presented itself, in a green stage of stucco, profilewise towards
the road, like a forlorn flat-iron without a handle, standing on
end.

It seems as if our schools were doomed to be the sport of change.
We have faint recollections of a Preparatory Day-School, which we
have sought in vain, and which must have been pulled down to make a
new street, ages ago. We have dim impressions, scarcely amounting
to a belief, that it was over a dyer's shop. We know that you went
up steps to it; that you frequently grazed your knees in doing so;
that you generally got your leg over the scraper, in trying to
scrape the mud off a very unsteady little shoe. The mistress of
the Establishment holds no place in our memory; but, rampant on one
eternal door-mat, in an eternal entry long and narrow, is a puffy
pug-dog, with a personal animosity towards us, who triumphs over
Time. The bark of that baleful Pug, a certain radiating way he had
of snapping at our undefended legs, the ghastly grinning of his
moist black muzzle and white teeth, and the insolence of his crisp
tail curled like a pastoral crook, all live and flourish. From an
otherwise unaccountable association of him with a fiddle, we
conclude that he was of French extraction, and his name FIDELE. He
belonged to some female, chiefly inhabiting a back-parlour, whose
life appears to us to have been consumed in sniffing, and in
wearing a brown beaver bonnet. For her, he would sit up and
balance cake upon his nose, and not eat it until twenty had been
counted. To the best of our belief we were once called in to
witness this performance; when, unable, even in his milder moments,
to endure our presence, he instantly made at us, cake and all.

Why a something in mourning, called 'Miss Frost,' should still
connect itself with our preparatory school, we are unable to say.
We retain no impression of the beauty of Miss Frost - if she were
beautiful; or of the mental fascinations of Miss Frost - if she
were accomplished; yet her name and her black dress hold an
enduring place in our remembrance. An equally impersonal boy,
whose name has long since shaped itself unalterably into 'Master
Mawls,' is not to be dislodged from our brain. Retaining no
vindictive feeling towards Mawls - no feeling whatever, indeed - we
infer that neither he nor we can have loved Miss Frost. Our first
impression of Death and Burial is associated with this formless
pair. We all three nestled awfully in a corner one wintry day,
when the wind was blowing shrill, with Miss Frost's pinafore over
our heads; and Miss Frost told us in a whisper about somebody being
'screwed down.' It is the only distinct recollection we preserve
of these impalpable creatures, except a suspicion that the manners
of Master Mawls were susceptible of much improvement. Generally
speaking, we may observe that whenever we see a child intently
occupied with its nose, to the exclusion of all other subjects of
interest, our mind reverts, in a flash, to Master Mawls.

But, the School that was Our School before the Railroad came and
overthrew it, was quite another sort of place. We were old enough
to be put into Virgil when we went there, and to get Prizes for a
variety of polishing on which the rust has long accumulated. It
was a School of some celebrity in its neighbourhood - nobody could
have said why - and we had the honour to attain and hold the
eminent position of first boy. The master was supposed among us to
know nothing, and one of the ushers was supposed to know
everything. We are still inclined to think the first-named
supposition perfectly correct.

We have a general idea that its subject had been in the leather
trade, and had bought us - meaning Our School - of another
proprietor who was immensely learned. Whether this belief had any
real foundation, we are not likely ever to know now. The only
branches of education with which he showed the least acquaintance,
were, ruling and corporally punishing. He was always ruling
ciphering-books with a bloated mahogany ruler, or smiting the palms
of offenders with the same diabolical instrument, or viciously
drawing a pair of pantaloons tight with one of his large hands, and
caning the wearer with the other. We have no doubt whatever that
this occupation was the principal solace of his existence.

A profound respect for money pervaded Our School, which was, of
course, derived from its Chief. We remember an idiotic goggle-eyed
boy, with a big head and half-crowns without end, who suddenly
appeared as a parlour-boarder, and was rumoured to have come by sea
from some mysterious part of the earth where his parents rolled in
gold. He was usually called 'Mr.' by the Chief, and was said to
feed in the parlour on steaks and gravy; likewise to drink currant
wine. And he openly stated that if rolls and coffee were ever
denied him at breakfast, he would write home to that unknown part
of the globe from which he had come, and cause himself to be
recalled to the regions of gold. He was put into no form or class,
but learnt alone, as little as he liked - and he liked very little
- and there was a belief among us that this was because he was too
wealthy to be 'taken down.' His special treatment, and our vague
association of him with the sea, and with storms, and sharks, and
Coral Reefs occasioned the wildest legends to be circulated as his
history. A tragedy in blank verse was written on the subject - if
our memory does not deceive us, by the hand that now chronicles
these recollections - in which his father figured as a Pirate, and
was shot for a voluminous catalogue of atrocities: first imparting
to his wife the secret of the cave in which his wealth was stored,
and from which his only son's half-crowns now issued. Dumbledon
(the boy's name) was represented as 'yet unborn' when his brave

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