London: volume 2

Knight, Charles.


XLVII.-Some Features of London Life of Last Century.

XLVII.-Some Features of London Life of Last Century.




The lapse of a century has in respect wrought a great change on London. It may not be more virtuous, but it is certainly more safe. When we read the essays of Steele, Swift, or Goldsmith, we imagine their London, bating some of the ephemeral tricks of fashion, much like our own. Their tastes, sentiments, principles, are all familiar to us: We laugh with them, and are shocked when they are shocked. There are neither, full-bottomed wigs nor embroidered full-skirted and cuffed coats in their sentences to remind us wherein they differed from us. We are more familiar with them--are more intimately acquainted with and care more for them-than we do for our honest neighbours next door, whom we know only by sight. But when we turn over the pages of some London newspaper of the middle of last century we feel transported into a city whose customs .are as alien to us as those in which the squabbling retainers of the Capulets and


Montagues could only be kept from fighting by all the clubs of all the citizens:




September 11

. A gentleman was stopt in




at night by

two footpads

, who, on the gentleman's making resistance, shot him dead and Then robbed him.

Some of the villains

have since been apprehended.




February 24

. An apothecary in

Devonshire Street

, near Queen's Square, was


night last month attacked by


ruffians in

Red Lion Street

, who, presenting fire-arms and menacing him with death if he resisted or cried out, carried him to Black Mary's Hole, when by the light of a lantern perceiving he was not the intended person, they left him there without robbing him. This mysterious transaction has not yet been cleared up, though they are suspected to be the same fellows who lately sent threatening letters to Mr. Nelson, an apothecary in


, and another tradesman.




July 23



Richard Watson, tollman of Marybone turnpike, was found barbarously murdered in his tollhouse; upon which, and some attempts made on other toll-houses, the trustees of turnpikes have come to a resolution to increase the number of toll-gatherers, and to furnish them with arms, strictly enjoining them at the same time not to keep any money at the toll-bars after


o'clock at night.




October 17

. A man was lately robbed and barbarously murdered on the road to Ratcliffe Cross. Finding but twopence in his pocket they




of his arms, then tied a great stone about his neck and threw him into a ditch, having


shot at and mangled his face in a most horrid manner. The unhappy man had, notwithstanding, scrambled out of the ditch into the road, but expired soon after he was found; and


days after another man was found murdered in the

Mile End Road





December 31

. Murders, robberies, many of them attended with acts of cruelty, and threatening letters, were never perhaps more frequent about this city than during this last month.


highwayman in particular, by the name of the Flying Highwayman, engrosses the conversation of most of the towns within


miles of London, as he has occasionally visited all the public roads round the metropolis, and has collected several sums. He rides upon


different horses, a grey, a sorrel, and a black


; the last of which has a bald face, to hide which he generally hangs on a black cat's skin. He has leaped over Colnbrook turnpike a dozen of times within this fortnight, and is now well known by most of the turnpike men on the different roads about town.

There is, it must be owned, something of the excessive emphasis about these paragraphs which betrays quite as much indulgence in a kind of pleasurable excitement--of the same kind as is produced by listening to ghost stories--as of fear. The craving for pleasure bordering upon pain, which under the of the new police finds vent in glowing pictures of national ruin, was then contented with dread of footpads, highwaymen, and burglars. Still

where there is much smoke there is some fire;

and the terrified writers who declared that of




had been arrested, and vowed that murders and robberies had never been more frequent than

during this last month,

could at least say for themselves, with some modern novelists, that their tales were

founded on facts.

As a witness, an ordinary of Newgate is, on such a subject, with all due deference we say it for his sacred calling, no more


than the respectable caterers of paragraphs for the newspapers. A tendency to a tale in order to a moral, has been the besetting sin of that class of functionaries as far back as we can trace them. Still, as tipsy people, who have fast hold of each other, sometimes contrive to keep themselves from falling by reeling in opposite directions, these rickety kinds of evidence may help to prop each other up.

He stopped,

says the reverend gentleman who filled the office in , speaking of of his impenitents,

the Earl. of Harborough during broad daylight in




of the chairmen pulled out a pole of the chair and knocked down


of the villains, while the Earl came out, .drew his sword, and put the rest to flight; but not before they had raised their wounded companion, whom they took off with them.

There seems, from the account given of some other rascals by the same grave chronicler, to have been quite as little security within the liberties, as in or the suburbs:--

Their next robbery was at the house of a grocer in

Thames Street

. The watchman passing by as they were packing up their booty, Bellamy seized him, and obliged him to put out his candle to prevent any alarm being given. Having kept him till they were ready to go off with their plunder, they took him to the side of the Thames, and threatened to throw him in if he would not throw in his lantern and staff.

It need not be said that the poor man was obliged to comply with their injunctions.

Custom seems to-reconcile men to anything. The insecurity was great of all who, under such circumstances, were obliged to walk abroad at night; and the apprehension evidently still greater. And yet it is most certain that people did walk abroad at night. With the assistance of Boswell, Dr. Johnson has left it on record, that for a good part of his London life he passed nightly unharmed through all these dangers. It is true that the biographer hints at the Doctor's colossal person as a reason why men of only average thews and stature should feel reluctant to attack him. But others, who certainly did not possess the Doctor's physical advantages, were equally daring. The eccentric Charlotte Charke, daughter of Colley Cibber, who, for reasons of which she makes a mystery (probably because that was the only way to lend them weight), chose to go for many years in male attire, acted, about the year , as waiter at a public-house in Marylebone, then separated from Lendon by fields and a thinly-peopled district.-

In regard to my child,

says the auto-biography of this Epicene of the eighteenth century,

I begged not to be obliged to lie in the house, but constantly came to my time, and stayed till about




at night; and I have often wondered I have escaped without wounds or blows from the- gentlemen of the pad, who are numerous and frequent in their evening patroles through those fields; and my march extended as far as

Long Acre

, by which means I was obliged to pass through the thickest of them.

Nor was this forgetfulness of danger the : for the vagabonds of London in those days did not require a large sum to tempt them to acts of violence--the appearance of poverty was scarcely a protection. The truth is, that the old adage,

familiarity breeds contempt,

was applicable even here. The annoyance seems great to us, rendered effeminate by the constant presence of a drilled and organised police, to which we can fly for protection as little masters fly to their nurse or mamma when


threatened by some member of the juvenile blackguardism of the town; but in those days people were used to it.

So familiar was the contemplation to them, that till about the year they scarcely seem to have imagined that it was possible to confine the nuisance within narrower limits. In the narrative of the transactions of the gang which stopped the Earl of Harborough we are told :--

The number of atrocious violations of the law which now daily took place alarmed all those who had a regard for order and good government; and the King issued a proclamation for apprehending the offenders, and a pardon was offered to any


who would impeach his accomplices, except Burnworth, who was justly considered as the principal of the gang.

The good people of these days seem to have considered that toleration was due to rogues, so long as they did not exceed all bounds-did not do all the mischief they could. As long as they stole or murdered in moderation, a kind of gratitude was felt for their forbearance. But there were limits; and then the friends of

order and good government,

and the government itself, set to work, like Billy Lackaday, interrupted in reading his novel by the jangling of every bell in the house,

because they persevered.

Even then the note of preparation bespoke more of weakness than energy. of Burnworth's associates, arrested in Holland, seem to have been guarded, at a time when the City was in its ordinary state of tranquillity, with as much precaution, and fully more ostentation, as was thought necessary in the case of Thistlewood and his accomplices :--

On the arrival of the vessel which brought them, they were put into another boat opposite the Tower, which was guarded by


other boats, in each of which was a corporal and several soldiers. In this manner they were conducted to


, where they were examined by


magistrates, who committed them to Newgate, to which they were escorted by a party of the foot-guards.

The rebel Lords, years later, were scarcely guarded with more jealousy, or excited more the wonder and admiration of the populace.

On the approach of the ensuing assizes for the county of Surrey, they were handcuffed, put into a waggon, and in this manner a party of dragoons conducted them to Kingston. Nothing could equal the insolence of their behaviour on their leaving Newgate. They told the spectators that it would become them to treat gentlemen of their profession with respect, especially as they were going a journey. They likewise said to the dragoons that they expected to be protected from injury on the road; and, during their journey, they behaved with equal indifference and insolence, throwing money among the populace, and diverting themselves by seeing them scramble for it. A boy having picked up a halfpenny,


of a handful which Blewit had thrown among the people, told him that he would keep that halfpenny and have his name engraved on it, as sure as he would be hanged at Kingston, on which Blewit gave him a shilling to pay the expense of engraving, and enjoined him to keep his promise; and it is affirmed that the boy actually did so.

We will be bound he did: it was an era in his existence-happy if the excitement did not give him a bias in favour of thieves ultimately fatal to his morals! The most striking feature about these transactions is what must, for want of a better name, be called the absence of

moral decorum.

The crowd and the


thieves exchange jokes in a manner that does not imply a very deep sense either of the reprehensible nature of their conduct, or the jeopardy in which they have placed themselves; and the civil authority, notwithstanding its military auxiliaries, seems to have been obliged to tolerate the impropriety. Too happy that no rescue was attempted, justice did not attempt to check the rude, hardening merriment that attended the procession. And this reflection suggests points of dissimilarity (in degree, at least) between London then and London now.

The has been already alluded to--the absence of an adequately organised police. Sanatory police, to regulate sewerage, scavenging, and general security from accidents in streets and buildings, there was literally none. There are receptacles of filth and nuisances still in London; but along the great thoroughfares and in the vicinity of the abodes of the more affluent classes, at least, they have disappeared. We do not now-a-days hear of the constable of , , startled into unwonted activity by the exorbitancy of some cherished nuisance, instituting a crusade against what reads more like the sluttishness of Glenburnie than London:--



December 31

. A great many hogs were lately seized by the churchwardens, overseers, and constables of the parish of St. George,

Hanover Square

, and sold for the benefit of the poor, agreeable to the




of William III., which makes all hogs forfeited that are bred, fed, or kept in the houses or backsides of the paved streets, or within


yards of the same where the houses are contiguous, within the cities of London and


, borough of


, parishes within the bills of mortality, and other out-parishes in the county of Middlesex.

Dr. Johnson is made to say somewhere in Boswell's book, that

the kennels of


ran blood


days in every week.

The description given by the witnesses on the trial of the notorious Mrs. Brownrigg, of the state of the interior of her house (in ), is too nauseous to be repeated. Fatal accidents frequently took place at night from the exposure of rubbish during the repair of streets or building of houses, without erecting fences or placing lights round it. The streets, lanes, and courts were narrow and irregular, such as may still be seen in the neighbourhood of , Chancery and Fetter Lanes, and encumbered with bulkheads, offering facilities for unforeseen attacks, and--for the escape of malefactors. The straggling character of the suburban villages, and the numerous fields that intervened between the inhabited spots within the bills of mortality, also afforded many lurking-places.

The criminal police was equally inefficient. illustration of the competency of the worshipful city watchmen has already been mentioned: indeed it is only very recently that the race became extinct. Stephen Theodore Jansen, who. was elected Chamberlain of the City of London in , is said to have been the


sheriff who, for a long time, ventured to see justice executed at Tyburn, in cases that seemed to require it most, without the aid of a military force.

The attempts made in to organise something like a police force in and the rest of London not comprehended within the city walls are recorded by the chroniclers of the day with an air of importance, contrasting so forcibly with their insufficiency as to leave a strong impression of the utter


want of protection which must have previously existed. We read in the Chronicle department of the Annual Register,--



March 24

. Every possible step is taken to put the civil power of the City and liberty of


on a most respectable footing. The magistrates thereof have lately obtained a new and convenient court-house for the transaction of business, situate in

King Street



May 31

. A plan for the better distribution of justice has been settled by the acting justices in the neighbourhood of London. The business is formed into divisions, and


justices are to meet every day, in each division, from




, to hear and determine complaints:

to wit

, for the Tower Hamlets, at the Court House; for Finsbury division, at Hicks's Hall; and for


, Upper


, &c., somewhere near Soho.


October 21

. A horse patrol, under the direction of Sir John Fielding, is fixed upon the several roads near this metropolis, for the protection of his Majesty's subjects. This patrol consists of


persons, well mounted and armed.

The next point of dissimilarity between London in the eighteenth, and London in the century, is of degree only--the comparatively greater number, during the former period, of that destitute and unemployed class who raise their heads in the morning, not only uncertain where they are to lay them at night, but where or how the food to satisfy the cravings of hunger is to be obtained. In all populous cities there is a class of this kind-persons who, either from natural incompetency for continuous regulated labour have sunk down to indigence, or from half-starvation have lost the vigour and elasticity of spirit which is the main-spring of industry; and who, between the stings of want and loss of self-respect, have grown callous to the sentiment of morality. It is among the members of this class that the ready tools of vice are ever to be found. If the city, in the nooks and corners of which they burrow, is of old standing, they become hereditary, and form a sort of Pariah . We can trace them in London at an earlier period than that to which our attention is at present directed, among the young brood nestling among the cinders of the glass-house, in De Foe's

Colonel Jack,

and the adult members of the fraternity occasionally noticed in that narrative. A few years ago London was startled from its propriety by learning that a horde of these indigenous gipsies of the city had occupied the unclosed arches of the viaduct leading to of the new Bridges. Before and since the eighteenth century this class has abounded in London: the high or low ratio its numbers bear to the portion of society-affluent or in more straitened circumstances-characterised by settled habits, is no bad test of the civilisation of a community. It is not because their number or power was greater in London at the time we speak of than they had been at other times, but because this was the period of their empire's culmination, that renders this period of their history interesting. Those events which have comparatively lowered their numbers, and restricted their freedom of action, were now taking place. Arkwright's and Watt's mechanical inventions, and Brindley and Bridgewater's new era in the art of locomotion, were preparing staples of labour in the North, which were to act as a drain upon the surplus Lazzaroni of the whole of Britain. And at the same time the police described above was the adumbration of more powerful destined to keep their predatory habits in check. The

beggar's bush,



which the heaven of London had sent

happy dew,

and its earth had lent

sap anew,

broadly to bourgeon and gaily to grow,

was withering and about to be cut down. The thunder which had, in turn, burst over the walls of Carthage and of Rome, and the golden gate of Constantinople, was muttering in the horizon of the rascality of London. The war between affluence and industry on the hand, and destitution, , pilfering, robbing, and a long &c. on the other, was commencing. Before, however, attempting to trace its progress, we must point out a little more in detail the condition of the doomed race.

About the middle of the eighteenth--century such paragraphs as these are of constant recurrence in the newspapers of the day :--

A house in

Queen Street

, :Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, which had been lately repaired, and



Gracechurch Street

which showed no signs of craziness, suddenly tumbled down to the ground.


An old lodging-house in

Plumtree Court


Broad Street


St. Giles's

, fell down, by which accident


poor wretches were crushed to death, and many were desperately maimed. There being other houses in the court in like tottering condition, the mob assembled in a few days afterwards and pulled them down.

To houses of this rickety character, when left untenanted, poor destitute creatures crawled to die. The following paragraph, bearing date the , narrates no isolated or unwonted catastrophe:--


women were found dead in an empty house in

Stone-cutter Street


Shoe Lane

. It appeared on the Coroner's inquest, by the deposition of


women and a girl, found in the house at the same time, that the deceased women being destitute of lodging got into the house, it being empty and open, and being sick perished for want of necessaries and attendance. The poor wretches who gave this evidence were almost in the same condition. Soon after another--woman was found starved to death, in another house in the same neighbourhood.

Even at the present day there are quarters in London where scenes only not so harrowing as these may be witnessed. There are nests of houses so squalid and rickety, that none but the most abject of the poor would inhabit them; yet which bring high nominal rents, proportioned to the number of ragged competitors and the difficulty of obtaining payment. But it is a striking fact, and which more than anything else is calculated to impress us with a sense of the numbers of the Pariah in London towards the middle of the eighteenth century, that while the city has been so much extended, the squalid districts have scarcely multiplied in number or extended in space, though the dens within them may have been crowded, ore closely together.

A mere glance at the comparatively large portion of the space then occupied by the city, over which this class of squalid dwellings extended, will supply the reader with some idea of the amount of class of the population, over whose outcomings and ingoings it behoved the wretched police-staff to keep steady watch. Near where Fleet Ditch, which remained uncovered till an advanced period of the century, falls into the Thames-we find on the side of this

Heliconian stream,

the old Alsatia still, though to a less extent than of old, a place of refuge for questionable characters, on the other the purlieus of the , and are mentioned, in of the paragraphs quoted above, as full of dilapidated buildings into which the destitute occasionally crawled to die. Advancing up the stream the dwellings became less crowded,


but the district had a bad reputation. Black Mary's Hole was there, to which the terrified apothecary of was carried; and still further on was Copenhagen House, and the lane which derived its name from being a haunt of the notorious Du Val. Turning from Fleet Ditch to the left along , after passing between the Scylla of , and the Charybdis of , the passenger passed on the left Wheatstone Park, behind which were the environs of Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, in a very dilapidated condition, and the termination of the

Hundreds of Drury.

The continuous range of building terminated in this direction with , of the pristine condition of which the Rookery is at this day a living monument. From a chain of dilapidated streets extended down by , behind Leicester Fields, and Hedge Lane, almost joining of , for a notion of which the reader is referred to Fielding. Returning to the point at which we quitted Fleet Ditch, and turning to the east, we pass through the environs of Smithfield to . It is a sufficient indication of the character of these districts to mention that Jonathan Wild's place of business was originally situated in Cock Alley, midway between them. and its purlieus formed a connecting link with , , and . On the opposite side of the river the Mint was still flourishing, and the frequenters of Cuper's Gardens were more numerous than select. This review of the resorts of the

dangerous classes

shows that although portions of their territory have since been occupied by the streets and dwellings of the more reputable and comfortable classes, they have not retaliated by taking up new quarters--they have rather shrunk like snails deeper into their shells at the approach of incompatible neighbours. This view of the relative positions of the classes of society during the whole of the earlier half of last century is, if possible, more startling than the catalogue of outrages given above. The honest and opulent portion of society appear like small islands, encircled and separated by the ramifying arms of this sea of destitution and hunger for the goods of others; they are like the few spare ribs of tough mutton swimming of the thin broth of old Morton of Milnwood.

There remains yet another circumstance to be noted of the peculiarities of the period we are adverting to the general coarseness of manners. The identity we recognise in the sentiments of the writers of that age and our own is in a great measure owing to their having made us in the matter of refinement what we are. The dehortations of Addison, Steele, Swift, and even Chesterfield, may be taken as historical evidence of the prevalence of the gross or violent habits against which they level their sarcasms. A high-toned and even fastidious sense of honour and delicacy among the classes which give the tone to society is a necessary safeguard to public morals. Even in Italy, where a lax system of morality prevails, the sense of the beautiful, so generally diffused and so sedulously cultivated by all classes, supplies in some degree the want of a sterner and more stringent moral code. The absence of literary or artistical tastes, and the rude amusements which were run after by the bulk of even the opulent classes of London till late in the eighteenth century, mainly contributed to the frequent acts of violence which present such a startling picture of social insecurity. The savage scenes at Hockley-in-the-Hole--the brutal and cowardly scenes of the cockpit--the swindling tricks


familiar to the frequenters of the latter, and of the bowling alleys at Marylebone and elsewhere-and the innumerable small gambling-houses at which all comers, even menial servants, were received-blunted the moral sense and rendered it indifferent to suffering. The toleration of erring characters, which has its source, not in that high Christian moral which recognises and honours the features of God's image upon whatever base metal it may be stamped, or however it may be distorted or half-effaced by passion or crime-but in an obtuseness of moral feeling, and a low standard of right--was disseminated through society. Men were not restrained from crime by a delicate sense of their own honour, nor were they deterred by the fear of an entire banishment from the only circles of society with which they could sympathise. The raw ignorant lad whose colleges had been the cockpit, the arena of the prize-fighters, the bowling-green, and the tavern, violated few of his own sentiments when, finding himself a beggar, he turned to repair his fortunes by the highway. In the undeveloped state of national industry, the giant career of East Indian conquest having been scarcely commenced, there were few lines of employment open to the younger branches of good families. Out of these circumstances grew up another

dangerous class,

much better deserving the naime than any of the classes to which it has been applied by a recent French author. The families of the higher nobility were discarding their trains of attendants, and their ruffling followers were thrown loose upon society, without any course of settled industry to which they could have betaken themselves, even had they been inclined. He would be a bold man who would pledge himself for the principles and honour of the

Slaves of the Lamp

throughout all the gradations of the literary hierarchy of our own day, but at least the anomalous biped--the

transition series

between the serviceable bully of a Buckingham or Rochester, and the pander to the filthiest portion of the modern press of London--who hawked about his


for subscriptions, and wrote lampoons, and fetched and carried lies to order, has disappeared.

Young men about town

may in many instances be no better than they should be, but assuredly no novelist of the day could hope to interest us in his hero after representing him in the receipt of the wages of a Lady Bellaston. Society repudiates what it then tolerated. The honest and dishonest classes are separated by a sharply defined and tolerably distinct boundary-line--there is no wide

debateable land

of varying extent, stretching its unhealthy moral morass between them.

This class, bad in itself, and forming a chain of communication for infection between the staid regular population and the Pariahs crowded around them, was a main agent in extending the rule of violence and rapine. Walking day arm and arm with a nobleman-sharing it may be in the annual dinner given by the Duke of Buckingham to his


at Marylebone-crouching the next in a night-cellar, they flitted from class of society to another, absorbing all the worst characteristics of both, and communicating to each what was bad in the other.

Smollett and Fielding have availed themselves, to a certain extent, of the extremes of society between which young men hanging loose on the world were at that time tossed backwards and forwards, to lend variety to the adventures of


their heroes. But the necessity of preserving intact their aesthetic, if not their moral, characters has obliged them to stop short of the wild and startling extremes of which glimpses appear from time to time in our criminal records and in some stray autobiographies. In an earlier number we presented our readers with a picture of the once celebrated Laetitia Pilkington flirting at her window in with the most fashionable frequenters of White's-generals and dukes being amongst the number. A few years only had passed over her head when she appealed to the benevolence of Richardson, the novelist, in these words:--




December, 1745

--My daughter has come home with child, naked and desolate, and because I would not let her lie in the street my landlady has padlocked the door, and turned us both here. My own writings she has secured, as well as a few small matters she (my child) had provided for her child. I have less authority to blame her than perhaps another mother would take. We have both been forced to sit up in a place they call a night-house all last night, so that my head is extremely disordered.

The scene of the night-house in Hogarth's Idle Apprentice will enable our readers to figure to themselves the abject state to which this woman, once a favourite guest of Swift at his residence in Dublin, was reduced. A few days later she wrote again to Richardson:--

I know not what to do with this unhappy wretch, my daughter, or myself, in this dreadful exigence. I can procure no lodging but the floor.

I am still in the same calamitous night-house where your young gentleman came to me, where there is no rest to be had night or day-riot and misrule reign in it.

A contemporary of Laetitia Pilkington's, whose misfortunes seem not to have been owing to vice, strictly speaking, but simply to an unsettled disposition, which could not conform to the usages of society and her sex-Charlotte Charkehas left us in her memoirs some striking accounts of the squalid places of amusement at which the dissolute and the destitute met as on a common ground. The following is an amusing specimen:--

As there were frequently plays acted at the Tennis-court, with trembling limbs and aching heart I adventured thither to see whether there was any character wanting--a custom very frequent among the gentry who exhibited at that slaughter-house of dramatic poetry.


night, I remember,

The Recruiting Officer

was to be performed, as they were pleased to call it, for the benefit of a young creature who had never played before. To my unbounded joy, Captain Plume was so very unfortunate that he came at


o'clock to inform the young gentlewoman he did not know a word of his part. I (though shut up in the small green-room) did not dare to tell them I could do it, for fear my voice, which is particular and as well known as my face, should betray me to those assailants of liberty who constantly attend every play-night there, to the inexpressible terror of many a potentate who has quaveringly tremor'd out the hero, lest the sad catastrophe should rather end in a sponging-house than a bowl of poison or a timely dagger.

At last, the question being put to me, I immediately replied (seeing the coast clear) I could do such a thing; but, like Mosca, was resolved to stand upon terms, and make a merit of necessity.

To be sure, Ma'am,

says I,

I do any thing to oblige you, but I am quite unprepared; I have nothing here proper; I want a pair of white stockings and clean shirt.

Though, between friends, in case of a lucky hit, I had all these things ready in my pocket.

Her house was as full as it could hold, and the audience clattering for a beginning. At length she was obliged to comply with my demands (


guinea paid in advance), and I got ready with all expedition. When the play was ended I thought it mighty proper to stay till the coast was clear, that I might carry off myself and guinea securely; but, in order to effect it, I changed clothes with a person of low degree, whose happy rags and the kind covert of night secured me from the dangers I might otherwise have encountered. My friend took


road, I another, but met at my lodgings, where I rewarded him with a shilling, which at that time I thought a competent portion for a younger son.

About the time that the daughter was thus earning a precarious livelihood, the father was exchanging repartees with the reigning beauty of the day, Miss Chudleigh, afterwards Duchess of Kingston, at Tunbridge Wells.

It almost seems as if there had been in those days communities dwelling in London--the regular and the regularly irregular-regarding whom it had scarcely been decided which had the best right to be there, or which was the intruding party. Even a royal proclamation offering a reward for the apprehension of a well-known highwayman did not always succeed in driving him from the streets:--

A proclamation was issued, and

three hundred pounds


says the

Newgate Calendar,

for taking Burnworth into custody: but notwithstanding this he still appeared at large, and gave the following among other proofs of his audacity. Sitting down at the door of a public-house in


, where he was well known, he called for a pint of beer and drank it; holding a pistol in his hand by way of protection: he then paid for his beer, and went off with the greatest apparent unconcern.

The boldness of such rascals did not stop here: they sometimes gave battle to the officers of justice in the public streets.

On the approach of evening,

the tale is told of the same ruffian and some of his gang,

they ventured towards London, and having got as far as

Turnmill Street

, the keeper of Clerkenwell


happening to see them, called to Burnworth, and said he wanted to speak with him. Burnworth hesitated; but the other assuring him that he intended no injury, and the thief being confident that his associates would not desert him, swore he did not regard the keeper, whom he advanced to meet, with a pistol in his hand, the other miscreants waiting on the opposite side of the G:r:et armed with cutlasses and pistols. This singular spectacle attracting the attention of the populace, a considerable crowd soon gathered round them; on--which Burnworth joined his companions, who now thought their safest plan would be to retreat towards the fields; wherefore they kept together, and, facing the people, retired in a body, presenting their pistols, and swearing they would fire on any who should offer to molest them.

They were not always satisfied to act on the defensive: instances occurred of their attempting to enforce their own thieves' code, and inflict punishment on treacherous members of their society, although guarded by constables in a crowded thoroughfare :

The circumstance of Marjoram having turned evidence being the public topic of conversation, John Barton provided a loaded pistol, and placing himself near Goldsmiths' Hall, took an opportunity, when the officers were

conducting Marjoram before the Lord Mayor, to fire at him; but Marjoram observing him advancing, stooped down, so that the ball grazed his back only. The suddenness of this action, and the surprise it occasioned, gave Barton an opportunity of escaping.

Perhaps, after all, the facts best calculated to show the utter want of a police force in London are, that a company of smugglers made the the depot of their

run goods

for a tract of years without detection: and that in there was a battle on , between a party of soldiers and a band of smugglers, in which the soldiers were only partially successful. This is bringing the scenes of Rob Roy and Guy Mannering into the very heart of the metropolis.

The impression naturally produced upon men's minds by such a state of things was, that they were living in the presence of an enemy against whom they must defend themselves. Or rather, perhaps, they looked upon the worshipful community of thieves much in the same way that settlers in a new country regard the wild beasts prowling in the forests around them. The coaches which started from London, when any celebrated highwaymen were known to have taken the road, were attended by volunteer guards who were paid for the occasion. These were in general young active fellows, attracted partly by the gratuity, partly by the excitement of the enterprise. Some of them were animated by the true spirit of hunters.

I keep a shop in

Wych Street


said of them, called to bear witness against a foot-pad he had helped to take, when asked what was his occupation;

and sometimes catch a thief


There is a true sportsmanlike feeling in the reply: he was impelled by the same propensity which drives less adventurous natures to catch a hare. The more timid members of society seem to have felt towards these wild slips, as the staid seniors of a village feel towards the young scape-graces who occasionally play truant from field-labour to hunt the wolf. But wolf-hunting is not so seductive as man-hunting. When fairly fleshed in the latter pursuit our Cockney sportsmen rarely confined themselves to the pursuit of thieves: they generally found or fancied that hunting the honest men was the better fun of the . But of this irregularity the citizens judged as harshly as a staunch game-preserver would of the friend who shot his hen pheasants instead of confining himself to the cocks. The

Annual Register

bears record to the untimely death of more than soldier who had been engaged to guard (it may be) the Bath mail, and was caught robbing the Gloucester mail.

To pursue our hunting metaphor, the citizens would at times rise and have their


and their grand . Here is a specimen of the manner in which a London mob would at times take the law into its own hand.: (we quote from the Annual Register):--



April 13

. A quarrel happened in Stepney Fields between some English and Portuguese sailors, in which


of the former were killed.--


. This evening, as an English sailor was walking in

Mill Yard

, Whitechapel, he was stabbed in the back by a Portuguese sailor, and instantly died. The murderer was pursued to Rag Fair, where the mob nailed him by his ear to the wall; some time after he broke from thence with the loss of a part of it, and ran; but the mob were so incensed, that they followed, cut and wounded him with knives, till at last he either fell or threw himself into a

puddle of water, where he died.

Sometimes the mob, when fairly entered into the spirit of the game, did not hold their hands after the punishment of the original offender:--



June 4

. The people crowding through the postern on

Tower Hill

to see the fire-works [

Eheu fugaces, Posthume, Posthume, anni labuntur!

--it may be necessary to remind some of our younger readers that the

4th of June

was the birth-day of George III.], the rails surrounding a well


feet deep gave way, and it was filled with the bodies of those falling in.


were taken up dead,




so mangled as scarcely to be able to live; among them women with child. During the consternation occasioned by the accident a sailor had his pocket picked by a Jew, who, after undergoing the usual discipline of ducking, hopped out of the water, pretending to have his leg broke, and was carried off by some of his brethren. But the sailors, discovering the trick, and considering it as a cheat, pursued him to Duke's Place, where, at


, they were beaten off by the inhabitants; but presently returning with a fresh reinforcement, they attacked the place, entered


houses, threw everything out of the windows, broke the glasses, tore the beds, and ripped up the wainscot, leaving the houses in the most ruinous condition. With the furniture,


children sick of the small-pox were thrown out of the window.

This habit of taking the law into their own hands produced its natural effects. Within its jurisdiction the mob would tolerate no authority but its own : it punished the dishonest, and it punished the officers of the law for attempting to interfere with them: a glorious despot is King Mob-:--



March 15

. Lord Warkworth, eldest son to the Earl of Northumberland, was chosen member for


. The guard, placed over a large quantity of beer provided for the entertainment of the populace, getting drunk, stove the casks, and in the struggle to get at them a quarrel broke out between a party of sailors and some Irish chairmen; when the former getting the better, drove the others from the field, and destroyed all the chairs they could meet with, except


having on it these words-

This belongs to English chairmen.

The disturbances were renewed on the


, when a party of guards was obliged to interfere.--


. Search being made [there was no undue precipitancy on the part of the Myrmidons of the law] by the peace-officers at the houses of ill-fame about

Tower Hill

, several women of the town and some sailors were taken, and next morning carried before the justices for examination; but intelligence being given to their shipmates, a large body of-them assembled, and threatened the justices if they should proceed to commitment. The justices applied for a guard to the commanding officer at the Tower, and a few musqueteers being sent, they were found insufficient to intimidate the sailors, whose numbers increasing, a




reinforcement were demanded; and an engagement would certainly have ensued, but for the address of a sea-officer, who by fair words called off


-thirds of the sailors, just as the word was given to the soldiers to fire upon them.... The justices proceeded to business, and made out the mittimus of


of the street-walkers [they do not seem to have dared to meddle with the sailors] but in the afternoon of the same day, as they were going to


, under a guard of a serjeant and


men, they were rescued in Chiswell

Street by a fresh party of sailors, who carried them off in triumph, after


man had been shot in the groin.

Amid these lawless scenes grew up a class of men whose profession it was, in the refined language of the of Paris,

d'exploiter les positions sociales.

The courts of law could not perform their functions without some to take upon him the laborious task of public prosecutor; and the law of England had, and still has, omitted to make provision for such a functionary. His place was supplied by amateurs, who, if they did not don the wig and gown, and make speeches to the judge and jury, got the malefactor apprehended, ferreted out witnesses against him, and sometimes (the more impudent among them) took the management of the trial out of the hands both of the judges and counsel learned in the law. Again, people who found that the officers of justice could not protect their property, were often glad to compound with the thieves who had got it into their possession, and sacrifice a part to escape losing all. The self-appointed public prosecutors were ready to lend their assistance to forward such negotiations. The trade was originally set up by understrappers of the law; but the man who carried it to its highest perfection was a non-professional gentleman, whose name has been identified with it, and will carry its memory down to posterity. The Peachum of Gay and the Jonathan Wild of Fielding please, the by its delicate finish, the other by its strong breadth of effect-both by their bold satire. But neither of them are so startling as their robust original, as he stands portrayed in the invective against him (published in , by his rival in trade, Charles Hitchin, the City Marshal), entitled,

The Regulator, or a Discovery of Thieves, Thief-takers,

&c., or the unblushing disclosures made by

the buckle-maker

(so called from his original profession) himself in his

New Account,

which he published by way of reply. Jonathan was bred in Birmingham, and was unquestionably the most splendid, the most finished specimen of that has been issued from its mint. The extensive ramifications of his projects excite regret that so much ingenuity should have been squandered upon such objects. His coolness and effrontery in frequenting and taking part in the proceedings of the courts of law, long after he knew that his nefarious practices were known rather than suspected, and his insolence towards bench, bar, and witnesses, although coarse and vulgar, almost rises, by its daring self-reliance to the rank of moral courage. Our space is too limited to allow of our dilating upon his exploits, even though they were sufficiently to our taste to tempt us. They who are fond of such themes may seek them in the congenial pages of the

Newgate Calendar

--or anywhere but in the volumes of a flash romance. good service Jonathan did: he concentrated in his own person an intensity of hatred from both the honest and dishonest portions of society, which carried to the highest pitch the natural repugnance entertained to the trade of keeping thieves as a grazier keeps cattle, and every now and then selecting fat enough in crime to make him worth selling to the slaughter-house. The mean petty-larceny character of Jonathan's successors in trade--the M»Donalds, Berries, Salmons, and Gahagans (each of the kingdoms seems to have contributed its quota to this precious roll)-rendered it contemptible as it was


disgusting; and nothing guilty can maintain its ground against contempt. In reading the narrative of Jonathan Wild it is the man and his crimes who excite repugnance; in reading the disclosures on the trial of the other , we are revolted by a society, so callous and so helpless as to crouch for shelter behind laws which, by hanging boys for stealing to the value of , maintaining no organised police, and offering a high price for the conviction of every thief, bribed men to make the criminals they betrayed.

Between Jonathan Wild on the hand, however, and

flying highwaymen

on the other, society at last became thoroughly roused to the necessity of doing something for the sake of its own comfort. England has been called the land for quacks to thrive in; and its conduct under this fever-fit of terrified activity justified its reputation. Like all devotees of quacks, it fixed its hope and trust upon a universal medicine--the panacea of the moment. The gallows was the only cure for crime in which men had faith, and in the true spirit of a Lady Bountiful they proceeded to administer it right and left-by no means in homoeopathic doses-without discrimination of age, sex, or rank. From Lord Ferrers to the unlettered cinder-sifter begot in sin and nursed in filth and crime; from the madman to the idiot; from the dotard of to the boy of ; the hempen noose was the only anodyne applied to cure this disease of dishonesty. It was in these days that Burke found the legislative sage, in the library of the , busily devising an Act of Parliament to make the stealing of turnips from a field felony without benefit of clergy. It was in that age the Scotch judge flourished, who, having fallen asleep during the delivery of a prosy speech about the right of property in a meadow, and being jogged by of his brethren to deliver his judgment, mechanically muttered, before he was right awake,

Hang him!

It was gallows-gallows-nothing but gallows; except in the case of a lady convicted of petty treason, whose privilege it was to be burned. The gallows was to the judge and penal legislator what a


was to the pageant-poet in Fletcher's


--their idea and whole stock in trade. Never had the capabilities of the gallows for the repression of crime a fairer trial; its admirers had their full swing-or rather the class upon which they experimented had.

Not contented with the long-drawn procession to Tyburn, they paraded the grisly apparatus of death through almost every quarter of London. There is scarcely a street (of the streets then in existente) in which it has not at time or another planted its black foot. Mel-did not need to make holiday to go {broad to see it, for it was

brought home to their businesses and bosoms.

In John Power was hanged at . In James White and his brother were executed at Common. In Patrick M»Carty was executed

at the foot of

Bow Street

, Covent Garden.

Not long after Theodore Gardelle, for the murder of his landlady, was executed in the , opposite the end of . Williamson, in , was hanged at the end of ; and another criminal was about the same time executed in . The dreary list might be lengthened out through

all kinds of streets,

but these specimens will suffice.



Nor were the patrons of the gallows satisfied with these transient displays; they wished more lasting memorials of its efficacy, and with that intent made its victims their own monuments. London seems to have been as thick-set with these trophies at time as is with royal tombs. They were erected on every battle-field between the men of Thiefdom and the men industrial, on the same principle that the Greeks erected a monument on Marathon. There are many now alive who yet remember the bodies of the pirates opposite wavering in the wind,

a gibbet's tassel

-- of the sights that
wont to greet the stranger approaching London from the sea. About the middle of last century similar objects met the gaze of the traveller, by whatever route he entered the metropolis.

All the gibbets in the Edgeware Road,

says an extract from the newspapers of the day in the

Annual Register

for ,

on which


malefactors were hung in chains, were cut down by persons unknown.



and the


of this cool matter-of-fact announcement conjure up the image of a long avenue planted with


instead of elms or poplars--an assemblage of pendant criminals, not exactly

thick as leaves that strew the brook in Valombrosa,

but frequent as those whose feet tickling Sancho's nose when he essayed to sleep in the cork forest drove him from tree to tree in search of an empty bough. Frequent mention is made in the books, magazines, and newspapers of that period of the bodies of malefactors conveyed after execution to Blackheath, Finchley, and Commons, or Hounslow Heath, for the purpose of being there permanently suspended. In those days the


approach to London on all sides seems to have lain through serried files of gibbets, growing closer and more thronged as the distance from the city diminished, till they and their occupants arranged themselves in rows of ghastly and grinning sentinels along both sides of the principal avenues. And, by way of a high temple of the gallows--in a central point towards which all these ranges might be supposed to converge-like the temple at Luxor amid its avenues of sphinxes --or rather like the blood-stained shrine of Mexitli in the centre of the capital of Montezuma-stood with its range of grinning skulls, beneath which, when the gory heads were stuck up, Horace Walpole saw the industrious idle of the city lounging with ample store of spy-glasses, through which passengers were allowed to peep at them

for the small charge of



Talk of the

City of the Plague!

It is as nothing in point of horror when compared with--

This contest, like all others, in which habits are attempted to be extirpated by force and fear alone, only served to exasperate both parties. The vicious portion --of society became more desperate and ferocious, and the honest burghers became more apprehensive and thirsty for the blood of criminals: the thoughtless looked on as the frequent victims were hurried to the gallows, and in the words of Casca,

clapped him and hissed him according as he pleased and displeased them, as they used to do the players in the theatre.

In the case of Williamson, a journeyman shoemaker, who had murdered his wife by starving her to death, we are told--

The gallows was erected in the centre of


, fronting

Chiswell Street


There were at least


persons, of whom a great number were women.

The populace thought hanging too mild for so heinous a crime. [Perhaps they remembered that had the wife been the guilty party she would have been burned, and thought it unfair to make a difference.]: He seemed apprehensive of being torn to pieces, and hastened the executioner to perform his office.

And in like manner a few months later in the same year:--

The crowd that waited in the Session House Yard during the trial testified their joy by a shout when Mrs. Brownrigg was convicted; and such was the indignation they felt at the horrid, deliberate, and persevering cruelties of which she had been guilty, that those who were near the ordinary's coach when she was carried to execution, cried out, they hoped he would pray for her damnation, for such a fiend ought not to be saved.

On the other hand, when not satisfied of the guilt of the convict, or when the severity of the punishment appeared disproportionate to the crime, the sympathies of the crowd excited their indignation against the law itself and its ministers. It was customary among persons ordered for execution to proceed to Tyburn with a white cockade in their hats by way of declaration that they died innocent. The high eulogium pronounced upon Mr. Jansen for enforcing the performance of executions at Tyburn without the aid of the military, shows that it was considered a service of some danger. There is something wild and fantastic in the affectionate interest the rabble evinced at times for individuals who underwent the last penalty of the law, and it had a most bruin-like method of giving vent to its indignation against those who brought them to the gibbet. We learn from the Annual Register, that in May,



The criminal condemned for returning from transportation at the sessions, and afterwards executed, addressed himself to the populace, at Tyburn, and told them he could wish they would carry his body and lay it at the door of Mr. Parker, a butcher, in the


, who it seems was the principal evidence against him; which being accordingly done, the mob behaved so riotously before the man's house it was no easy matter to disperse them.

Less than a year previous to the occurrence of this incident, we learn from the same work that-

As soon as the execution of several criminals condemned at last sessions of the

Old Bailey

was over at Tyburn, the body of Cornelius Sanders, executed for stealing about


out of the house of Mrs. White, in

Lamb Street

, Spitalfields, was carried and laid before her door; where great numbers of people assembling, they at last grew so outrageous, that a guard of soldiers was sent for to stop their proceedings: notwithstanding which, they forced open the door, fetched out all the salmon tubs, most of the household furniture, piled them on a heap and set fire to them; and to prevent the guards from extinguishing the flames, pelted them off with stones, and would not disperse till the whole was consumed.

This was no school of morality, but only the

finishing school

of Tom Neros, for whose career the reader is referred to Hogarth. There was greater callousness to suffering then than there is now. We hear still of children hired out to beggars, to enable them to excite compassion; and the exposure of these poor worms to the inclemency of the weather is bad enough, to say nothing of the allegation that they are sometimes pinched to make them cry; but we do not hear of such enormities as this:--



April 6

. The court at Hicks's Hall lately committed Anne Martin,


Chapney, to Newgate, where she is to be --imprisoned


years, pursuant to her sentence: she is accused of putting out the eyes of children, with whom she went a-begging about the country.

How little the liberal administration of gallows contributed to frighten men from the ways of crime may be learned from brief notices like the following-so brief, indeed, that is tempted to marvel at the simplicity of the penny-a-liners of those days. What would not of those artists now make of such a fact to spin a paragraph from?-



August 24

. Since the middle of July near

one hundred and fifty

persons have been committed to

New Prison

and Clerkenwell

for robberies and other capital


The reckless wretches seem almost to have crowded in, crying,

You cannot hang us all.

It was like the contest of savage Indians, trying which can inflict or bear most pain. It was playing on a great scale the pedagogue's game of hardening and stupefying a boy by excessive punishments. There was no moral sense awakened by the contest: it was a mere mechanical reciprocation of violence and butchery. Even the imagination was left dormant: the dogs which lap blood from the shambles are as much instructed and edified as were the gazers with lack-lustre eye on the throttling of so many human beings. The superstitious thrill felt even by the rudest was not awakened: there were no ghosts at Tyburn or in Newgate. Indeed, in the article of ghosts, London is remarkably poor. Their real character was so little felt, that when appeared in the people, so far from being scared, flocked from all quarters of the capital to visit it, as they now repair to the


Missouri Leviathan. Even Horace Walpole confesses that he visited Fanny with a party of ladies and gentlemen, and found the lane so crowded that it was difficult to get into the house. Burnworth did indeed threaten of his keepers, a short time before his execution, that

if he did not see him buried in a decent manner, he would meet him after death in a dark entry and pull his nose.

But the man was so little alarmed that he allowed the body t? be hung in chains without remonstrance. From all our reading we can only recall execution of the eighteenth century, the circumstances of which are in the slightest degree imaginative:--



August 19

. About


at noon the sky for several miles round London was overcast in such a manner, that the darkness exceeded that of the great eclipse in


, greatly resembling that which preceded the last great earthquake at Lisbon. This darkness was occasioned by a black sulphureous cloud which arose in the N.W.; and, attended with hail, rain, wind, and lightning, drove furiously over London, and then discharged itself chiefly on the county of Kent, where in rapidity and fierceness the storm resembled a tornado, so as to kill fowl and even sheep, and in near


parishes destroying all hope of crop to the amount of near


...... This storm made such an impression on the ignorant populace assembled to see a criminal executed on


Common, that the Sheriff was obliged to apply to the Secretaries of State for a military force to prevent a rescue; and it was near


in the evening before he suffered.

In spite of all this, the wise men of the age were resolved to narrow the range of crime by--the gallows; and got angry with the criminals who would not be reclaimed by the gallows, and out of sheer spite hanged them for their obstinacy. The number of persons executed at time went on increasing, till it was necessary to have recourse to machinery to facilitate and expedite the work of the hangman; and the

new drop

was hailed as an invention in the manufacture of morality quite as great and important as that of Arkwright in the manufacture of cotton. Judges who had pored upon the laws, and as counsel twisted and turned them, and looked at them on all sides, and tried experimentally how far they would go, until the law had entered into their souls and become a part of their being, could not conceive that the law could fail. It was not the law's fault, they averred, but the insufficient execution of the law. A sailor was once asked what he would wish for if, he could have every thing he wished?

All the »baccy in the world,

said Jack.

And what next?

All the rum in the world.

And what next?

After long thought-

A, little more »baccy.

So with the sages of the law. Having got all the gallows they were likely to get, they wished for the pillory, and then for

a little more gallows.

So they went on bending the broad back of their favourite instrument with greater and greater burdens, until, having tried it with so many as men at a time, it fairly broke down beneath the weight. To speak without metaphor, the blood even of that callous public curdled at such a spectacle; and the practice of hanging began to abate through pure despair of achieving any thing by it. Men had not discovered any better way of attaining their object; but they were so disgusted with this that they resolved, , to use it less liberally in future.

And yet since that time the increasing evil which the gallows in vain strove to


stem has been rapidly abating. Whoever has marked the clearing away of of those protracted rain-storms which, stretching through entire days, seems to gather strength from its continuance, has seen something analogous to the process by which this happy change has been effected. In the case of the rain-storm the moist clouds overhead assume a cold grey, livid complexion, more uncomfortable to look at than they have previously worn. This change, however, is occasioned by the vapours overhead becoming less dense, and allowing a tinge of the blue sky beyond to mingle with the colour of the rain-clouds. In this, as in everything, the stage of transition, even from bad to better, is uncouth and unpleasant. So with the lawlessness of London. About the time that the close of the last war undertaken by George II. threw loose upon the metropolis numbers of idle sailors and soldiers, and, worse than either, those lawless men whom government, by profusely issuing letters of marque, had encouraged to embark in a career of licensed piracy, amid the mercenary boldness and ferocity of bands of marauders, the crimps of the East India Company, at that time engaged in laying the foundation of its colossal empire, began to ply their trade on a larger scale. Among the atrocities at that time too rife in the Great Babylon, none are more shocking than some of the details which transpired of the interior of the dens of these kidnappers. The giddy, dissipated, and licentious-young men who had squandered everything and had no friends, or whose friends had cast them off--were entrapped into engagements while under the influence of liquor; and then, as their adherence to their bargain if left at liberty when they returned to their senses was rather problematical, shut up in receivinghouses till opportunities offered of shipping them. The officers of justice were too few in number, and too deficient in organization, to hunt out unlawful transactions: as Falstaff said of Worcester and rebellion, if they lay in their way they found them. And the out-of-the-way recesses and old-fashioned buildings in the old, half-deserted parts of the town afforded opportunities for internal fortification. The spunging-houses, private mad-houses, and other tolerated nuisances of the time, presented models and specious pretexts. On occasion we read of a man falling dead from a house in at the feet of some passengers, and a search being instituted, a crimping-house of the East India Company's recruiting agents is discovered, in which a number of men are detained against their will--the deceased having been of them, and having lost his life in an attempt to escape by the skylights. On another occasion the recurrence of funerals, performed under cloud of night, with maimed rites, and without any entry being made in the register, attracted the notice of some persons `residing in the neighbourhood of church-yard. On an inquiry being instituted into the nature of these clandestine burials, it was discovered that the bodies had come from a receiving-house of recruits for the East India Company's service; and on that house being broken open by order of the authorities, a dead body, which they had not yet got smuggled out, was found in of the upper apartments in an advanced stage of decomposition., These things were evils of themselves-aggravations of surrounding horrors; but they were indications of living and stirring employment which would attract and turn to account the thews and sinews, aye, and the brains of many who, if left to lounge idly at home, would have added to the


number of pests of society. At the same time the impetus given to industry in the manufacturing districts diminished the numbers of those who, driven by destitution to dishonesty, had flocked to London as to an asylum. London was then almost the only town in the empire large enough to allow them to hide their heads in it with security. Thither they all betook themselves when hard pressed, as foxes to their most difficult cover. The most dexterous and daring criminals, wherever bred, gravitated by a natural attraction towards London as the centre of their system. It was their metropolis too. This supply was materially diminished at the same time that the romantic and attractive field of adventure in the East was thrown open to the young, hot, restless bloods of the metropolis. The ranks of the most dangerous portion of the

classes dangereuses


to the manner born,

but who in their fall from purer regions had brought with them the intelligence of their earlier associates to render more malignant and powerful the propensities evolved by destitution and crime--were materially thinned.

Other influences were working too in the bosoms of those destitute classes in whom hereditary want had created a listless apathy--a want of sufficient vitality to apprehend the lessons of good--the most discouraging ]subjects for the operations of philanthropy. The moving of the spirit amongst those dry bones was grotesque enough. Lackington, who began himself by being a Methodist, and who sought repose in his latter days by subsiding into his original faith, has left some highly-coloured, but not untrue, pictures of the earlier operations of their doctrines upon the rude minds to whom the honour is beyond question theirs of having addressed words of sympathy, truth, and eternal life :--

A few years since I saw in a field, not


--miles from town, a man tossing up his Bible in the air. This .he often repeated, and raved at a strange rate: amongst other things (pointing to a building at some distance),

That (said he) is the Devil's house, and it shall not stand three days longer!

On the


day after this, I saw with surprise an account in


of the public papers of that very building having been set on fire and burnt to the ground. This maniac soon after preached very often in Smithfield and


; but he did not wholly depend on the operations of the holy Spirit, as at last he seldom began to preach until he was nearly-drunk, or-filled with another kind of spirit; and then he was

a very powerful preacher indeed.

But the good man happening several times to exert himself rather too much, had nearly tumbled out of his portable pulpit: these accidents the mob


ascribed to the liquor that he had drunk, and with mud, stones, dead cats, &c., drove him off every time he came, until at last our preacher took his leave of them with saying, that he perceived it was in vain to attempt their conversion, as he saw that God had given them over to the hardness of their hearts. But although this holy man deserted them, yet other spiritual knights-errant were not wanting, so that a little time before the heaps of stones which lay for years in


were removed for the purpose of building on the spot, I have seen




in a day preaching their initiation sermons from these elevated situations, until they could collect a sum of money to purchase pulpits.. You must know many of the lazy sort of the community set up stalls in


to buy and sell apples, old iron, &c.: several

of these haizing heard many such edifying discourses as they sat at their stalls, and observing the success which these kind of preachers met with, boldly resolved to make trial of their spiritual gifts on the heaps of stones, and have now totally abandoned their stalls and gone forth as ambassadors of heaven, though without being furnished with any diplomas as such.


of these, who cannot read, lately informed me that he had quitted all temporal concerns for the good of poor ignorant sinners.

Much there was, to human view, of absurdity in all this-much perhaps of profanity-much, it may be, of self-seeking; but still it was the spirit of good ruffling the dark waters of the stagnant moral chaos. There are some people so incontinent of language that when a truth is taught them, instead of applying it to regulate their own conduct, they straightway begin to preach it to their neighbours. Many too there were, doubtless, among the early apostles of methodism, who thought preaching the easiest trade by which a man could earn his bread; and the constant lapses in the moral conduct of these professors were doubtless very shocking. No less offensive to delicate tastes were the rude riots.which occurred when the unconverted mob, having detected or frail brethren, and jumped (like men of more pretensions to knowledge) at the conclusion that they were all alike, taunted the preachers with profane jeers, and, waxing in zeal, broke out into open violence. Many unseemly scenes took place. But amid all this there was much ardent enthusiasm and sincere benevolence, and extreme patient suffering for conscience sake. Not all words fell on barren soil, and the martyr-like deportment of many of the Methodists awoke strange feelings of ruth in stony bosoms. That fierce, vulgar excitement which kept aloof grave men and men of taste, and often

set on a parcel of barren spectators to laugh,

was the rabble's school of mutual instruction; and unless they had previously gone through it, all others would have been unavailing. There was a gulf between them and the educated classes, which the latter could not pass over: it was necessary that a new soul should be breathed into them, and this the Methodists accomplished. They taught these poor creatures what they scarcely suspected before--that they were not quite beasts, and having brought them thus far, helped them to conduct themselves like human beings.

At that time,

says Lackington, giving an account of his start as a bookseller,

Mr. Wesley's people had a sum of money which was kept on purpose to lend out, for


months, to such of their society whose characters were good, and who wanted a temporary relief. To increase my little stock, I borrowed

five pounds

out of this fund, which was of great service to me.

The increase of employment in the country preserved many of the rising generation from destitution and crime, but it could not have reclaimed those already sunk in this slough of despond. It was the Methodists who breathed into many of these objects a fresh spirit, that enabled them to wrestle out.

In their train followed more judicious teachers, who perfected to a certain extent what they had begun.

The Sunday schools,

wrote Lackington, in ,

are spreading very fast in most parts of England, which will accelerate the diffusion of knowledge among the lower classes of the community, and in a very few years exceedingly increase the sale of books.

At the time he wrote the


increasing sale was already in progress :--

According to the best estimation I have been able to make, I suppose that more than


times the number of books are sold now than were


years ago.

Then came Joseph Lancaster, and after him the many friends of humanity who have exerted themselves in our day to render education and books more useful and more accessible to all. The literary taste which has in all countries been the true civiliser even of the most favoured classes, has been sinking and spreading through every successive layer of society, as a little wine poured into a glass of water spreads downward in diverging rosy globules until the whole colourless liquid is tinted. Exercise of the intellect and imagination tempers the minds of men until they are hardened against the corrosive influence of those vices which are most apt to grow into habits.

The drafting of the vicious, or those who were tottering on the verge of guilt --the awakening of a portion of the torpid demoralized class into humanity--the diffusion of more wealth through all classes of society by the augmented productive powers of industry,--and the diffusion of literary tastes through all classes of society--these are the means by which the numbers of our native savages have been and are to be diminished and kept under. And these too are the means by which the industrious and virtuous portion of society are to be rendered more quick-witted and prompt in devising and carrying into execution measures for their own protection. This higher civilization was requisite before so simple a plan as the establishment of the

New Police

cold be carried into effect; an establishment calculated, by separating the sheep from the goats, to promote the good offices of the higher intelligence and morality which has called it into being. Thus are men learning (they have still much to learn) by the calm, passionless power of benevolent wisdom, what anger and brute force strove in vain to effect. It is the moral of the old fable :--the sun and north wind trying which could most easily make a man part from his cloak.

The field of observation through which we have led our readers is a curious ; and yet, but for the moral it is calculated to impress, we question whether it would be worth while to have visited it. Deformity, moral or physical, is an ingredient which ought to be sparingly used in . We tolerate it in Hogarth, Fielding, and Smollett, and the old Elizabethan writers, less as a feature in the creations of their imagination than as an historical record-something that enables us to take a peep at the real men of their time. With these authors, their occasional use of thieves' gibberish and low vice was partly adopted for the sake of enhancing by contrast their finer delineations, partly it was a smack of their age's coarseness which adhered to them. But the best of them always used it sparingly, and as a subordinate element of their fictions. Most of our modern writers who have made much use of this ingredient have over-dosed us with it. Some of them have made their gallows-birds their heroes, seduced either by a shallow, maudlin, sentimental philosophism, or by the mistaken notion that powerful accurate delineation is the source of imaginative pleasure. The object must be beautiful in itself, or no drawing can make it so: the professional thief remains a low, vulgar, debased creature, trick him out in what fantastic


garments they will; and the amateur dabbler in dishonesty, once so much in vogue, is worse than the other, inasmuch as his halting between purposes betrays greater imbecility. There is no true, healthy inspiration in the bousingken, the dock, or the condemned cell. It is not for anything in themselves, but as foils to enhance the lustre of others that criminals can be used in art, and even then the trick is of the stalest--the more sparingly they are employed the better.