LXVII.-St. Giles's, Past and Present.
The sententious Maitland says, of the Church of St. Giles in the Fields, that it
which may be the reason why so many
) have both in ancient and modern times congregated around it. It is scarcely to be wondered at that, among so numerous a company as the Saints of the Roman Church (half-a-dozen for every day in the year, besides a numerous to supply any vacancies that might occur, packed away in the day of All Saints), some of them should occasionally fall into indifferent company. But there are or of them who, with every inclination to make allowance for human frailty even in Saints, have stretched their licence rather too far. St. Julian's connection with thieves is matter of notoriety; St. Nicholas's conduct has led to his name being conferred upon whom, according to old saws, it is not very safe to mention; and as for St. Giles, if in any town possessed of more than or churches there be set apart for him, it is odds but you find the most questionable characters in the town dwelling in its neighbourhood. Without going out of our own island to seek for examples, we may remark that in Edinburgh the
stood, and the Parliament House still stands, close to the shrine of
St. Giles; and here, in London, he is the central point of a population- |
as Baillie Nichol Jarvie said of the sons of Rob Roy.
St. Giles appears to, have come in with the Conqueror, or soon after, which may account for his sympathy with marauders:
says Maitland; and here, for the information of those who, not being deeply read in this historian, may not be acquainted with his peculiar use of the English language,
means, in his mouth,
would be an interesting book, and of them follows close in the wake of the piece of intelligence just cited:
By what process a can be converted into a it is not very easy to conceive; but as, in the same breath, the soaring imagination (
) of the author leads him to decide that the parish prophetically mentioned in a judicial sentence of did not exist till , this is a trifle.
The church and village of St. Giles are supposed to have sprung from an hospital for lepers founded there by Matilda, wife of Henry I., about the year . As in the sentential award made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, already alluded to, the garden of the hospital appears to have been situated between , the Pound, and Hog Lane (now dignified by the. appellation of , thereby plainly showing that in London, at least, men know how to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear), Maitland concludes that the hospital itself stood near the west end of the present church. In Edward III. granted this hospital to the master and brethren of the order of Burton St. Lazar of Jerusalem, in Leicestershire. When the gallows was removed from in Smithfield, about the year , it was erected at the north end of the gardenwall of St. Giles, near the junction of and . When it was again removed, still in a western direction, which may have helped, along with other observations, to lead Bishop Berkeley to the conclusion,
became a sort of half-way house for the heroes who travelled that dark road.
It is probably owing to this combination of circumstances to its being selected as a place of retreat for noisome and squalid outcasts, and associated in various ways with the careers of those who lived in hostility with the law--that the character which has retained from to last during the whole period that anything is known of it has been so ineradicably burned into it. St. James's, which was also originally a lazar-house, has become a kingly residence, and Tyburn too has in its day been the shambles or sacrificial altar (which you will) of the law: all traces, however, of the disagreeable associations which clung to the locality, and are still conjured up by the name of the other, have vanished. But combined within itself what was repulsive about both, and accordingly St. Giles remains true to itself,
It cannot be said that no attempt has been made to reclaim it. In the days of Charles II. the place subsequently denominated Dials was erected, in the expectation that it would become the abode of the gay and the wealthy. Nor did the hope seem altogether groundless. Close at hand were and Covent Garden, then aristocratical resorts, and on the other side were the mansions of the Bedford and other noble families, upon the ruins of which the seemly district of , Bloomsbury, has since arisen. There was good society enough to keep the Dials from turning haggard. But the atmosphere of was too powerful for such counter-agents, and the Dials soon became nearly, though not altogether, as bad as its neighbours in the Rookery.
During the ascendency of the Puritans a stout effort was made to reform the morals of the denizens of , as well as other places; but it appears from the parish books that a, stout resistance was made by these turbulent worthies. Mr. Brayley furnishes us with a few illustrative extracts:
as a congenial spirit would doubtless have exclaimed, had he not long ere this been
So, too, would his co-mates; but Bardolph and Nym were hanged
Mrs. Pistol (the quondam quoteuickly) was dead; and Pistol himself had doubtless fired his last shot, for at our farewell interview with him he was complaining-
It was clear, from the subdued and despondent tone of his voice, that
and that he was soon to die the death of his old master. They had left; however, kindred souls behind them, who bade defiance alike to the Ironsides of Cromwell and the whole Assembly of Divines at . The vintner at the
kept his doors open on the sly, notwithstanding the fine of good shillings imposed upon him; Mrs. Thunder (appropriate name) continued to tipple and swear, at the rate of for each jollification, and a shilling for every oath; the Frenchman kept spitting out
as fast as the sparks from a Catherine-wheel; and the worthies who broke the halberts of Lyn's watchmen (and, though the parish records gloss over the defeat of their officers, switged the watchmen), survived to lead a gallant troop down , and along , to assist in burning the rumps at . The only recusant was the Scotchman, who was reclaimed, by the outlay of English, from all such backslidings; though the maid taken in Mrs. Jackson's alehouse, despite her , and Isabel Johnston, despite her , continued rebellious
to the last.
Nor is this so much to be wondered at, when we consider that, as early as ,
had excited the jealousy of the sellers and drinkers of ale by appearing to mete to the sellers of lordly wine, and to the sellers of yeomanly beer, with a different measure. The vintners were relieved from the pressure of the wine monopoly at the very time that the alehouse-keepers were subjected to a rigorous police; and the roisterers of , not unnaturally, jumped at the conclusion that the rigid morality of the Parliament was like the sobriety of the vice-president of a Temperance Society whom we knew well in our younger and more foolish days--the office-bearers of such societies have since become more consistent. Worthy man!-Ardent spirits he would not allow to enter his house, except in homoeopathic doses in an apothecary's phials, but many a good bottle of Edinburgh ale have we shared with him when we chanced to drop in on him at his house for luncheon; and at serious did we finish bottles of claret-he drinking glass for glass, while he urged upon us, with weighty arguments, the propriety of joining the Society. That this suspicion lent vigour to the resistance offered in to all attempts on the part of the parish dignitaries to amerce them into sobriety, appears from a dialogue, the scene of which is laid in this neighbourhood, published in , under the imposing title of
The communing of these worthies begins as follows:--
And thereupon Rubynose tells the complaining man that, if things remain in that way, he must break, and to render him still more malcontent, leaves him, after communicating the information that Parliament has extended the privileges of vintners, and thus rendered wine cheap, and that he, Rubynose, is resolved for the future to abjure both meat and malt potations, and spend every farthing he has or can get upon the juice of the grape. And by such means was and all its worshippers of John Barleycorn rendered ripe for revolt. They saw the wine-bibber favoured,--and themselves, unaccused, untried, treated worse than the convicted felon who passed through their village on his way to Tyburn--stinted in their bowls of ale. Like of the great men with whom
| we have already paralleled them, they protested they had
and with another they swore
to have revenge with wit or steel. If it were but to spite the Parliament and churchwardens, they were resolute to
And most happily were they situated for carrying their resolves into effect. , situated neither in nor the liberties of the City, abuts upon both. In those days it communicated with the former through , with the ganglion of courts, minor lanes, and houses of questionable character at its lower extremity; with the latter through and , and sundry almost impervious defiles round or across Churchyard into . The situation is commanding; it overlooked on the side and the City on the other with a saucy complacency. In front it was only accessible through dangerous defiles, and all to the north of and the was in a manner open country. In those days it seemed marked out by the hand of nature as a city of refuge for the oppressed and persecuted tipplers and raggamuffins of London and , when they wanted to make merry in defiance of the churchwardens, whose empire was then more terrible than that of the thief-catchers. was at that time for the natives or naturalised of Alsatia and what the hills .in the south of Scotland were for the Presbyterian disciplinarians, when their turn came to be undermost, a central point where they could meet, and from the elevation of which they could timeously descry the approach of danger; and in whose channelled sides were rare dens for sculking, doubling, and throwing out their pursuers. It is a mistake to imagine that the stifling pressure of a densely peopled metropolis is most sensibly felt in its innermost recesses. The filth and squalor of its necessitous population are to be found squatting in out-of-the-way corners where town and country meet. The islands of social misery found in the interior of London or Paris have been surrounded and built in as these capitals extended themselves. Thus favoured by natural position, by the sturdy character. of its inhabitants, the blackguardism of was only increased by harsh treatment: it was pounded into tougher consistency. It might even have protracted its resistance although the reign of Puritanism had been lengthened; but relief came to its inmates--as well as to the better-dressed and more cleanly blackguards--with the restoration of Charles II.--the anniversary of which ought nowhere to be celebrated with more fervent gratitude than in the quondam village of St. Giles's-in-the-Fields.
Not to insist upon other pieces of evidence to the unvarying character maintained by from the days of the Commonwealth to those we live in, it may suffice to mention, between the years and , it was a resort of the celebrated Thurot--the commander of a French squadron which committed some depredations on the coasts of Ireland and the Hebrides in -a native hero of France, much of the same class and calibre with the of Scotch growth who commanded the
some years later. Thurot, though a Frenchman, had some Irish blood in his veins, and he began the world under the auspices of a relative of the name of O'Farrel, an eminent smuggler from Connaught. The education, commenced on board a smuggling lugger,
| was advanced by the experience of years' service
as valet in a nobleman's family in Dublin. He and the lady's maid were dismissed rather
abruptly and unceremoniously about the same time; and the girl being soon after received into
the family of another nobleman who lived in the north of Ireland, Thurot followed her.
says his biographer,
The chance of trade brought him to London; and from to he was constantly trading between France and this city.
After his chief place of residence was Boulogne,
In due time he was thrown into prison, from which the French government, being at that time sadly at a loss for a naval hero, took him, and gave him the command of a buccaneering expedition along the coasts of Britain, in the course of which he displayed skill, courage, and humanity. In short, though we are not aware that his parallel, Captain Paul Jones, ever went through the initiatory processes of smuggling and waiting at table,
Thurot was infinitely the more genuine hero of the : he was more of the gentleman, and never landed as commander of an alien and hostile force within sight of the house he was born in.
But what has Thurot to do with ? He is a specimen of the company which, while he was studying mathematics and serving his time as journeyman to the trade of smuggler--before he had set up for himself on a large scale--used to frequent the more genteel streets of that district.
[n.263.1] The class of foreigners to which Thurot belonged has become too numerous or too ambitious to find proper accommodation at Dials: now that they obtrude themselves upon a wider public, it is to be wished that they sometimes had a Thurot among them.
It is time, however, to come to the modern . This interesting district is bounded on the north by the great brewhouse in , and on the south by the great brewhouse in ; and extends from Hog Lane (now ) on the west, to on the east. The erection of Bloomsbury, which originally formed part of , into a separate
| parish, has given a greater
homogeneity to the district. Leaving out of view, therefore, the scantling of included in it, the parish of
may be considered as the
most thoroughly uniform and consistent in point of character and appearance of any in London.
Slight shades of difference may be detected between its |
(which, by the way, is situated on its south side) about Dials, and its
which rejoices in the designation, redolent of woodland or cathedral associations, of
The Dials, we have had occasion to remark above, are an evidence of an attempt to civilise the neighbourhood by introducing respectable houses into it. The attempt was not altogether in vain: this part of the parish has ever since
There is an air of shabby gentility about it, not unlike that which may be remarked about the native of such a district, who, after having been tried for a year or as servant in a genteel family, has been returned in despair to his (or her) original rags and dirt. The air of the footman or waiting-maid can be recognised through the tatters, which are worn with more assumption than those of their unsophisticated neighbours-
The houses in this region, with their inmates and surrounding objects, always remind us irresistibly of.Sophia Western's worn by Molly Seagrim in her father's house.
It is here that the literature of has fixed its abode; and a literature the parish has of its own, and that, as times go, of a very respectable standing in point of antiquity. In a letter from Letitia Pilkington to the demure author of
and published by the no less exemplary and irreproachable Mrs. Barbauld, the lady informs her correspondent that she has taken apartments in Great , and stuck up a bill intimating that all who had not found
and who had had no teacher to make up the defect by art, might have
With the progress of education, printing-presses have found their way into , and it is now no exaggeration to say that, compared with the rest of the metropolis, the streets radiating from Dials, and intersecting the diamond-shaped space included by , , , and , display more than the average allowance of booksellers' and stationers' shops, circulating libraries, and the like. It was here--in Monmouth Court, a thoroughfare connecting with Little Earl Street-that the late eminent Mr. Catnach developed the resources of his genius and trade. It was he who availed himself of greater mechanical skill and a larger capital than had previously been employed in that department of THE TRADE, to substitute for the execrable tea-paper, blotched with lamp-black and oil, which characterised the old broadside and ballad printing, tolerable white paper and real printer's ink. But more than that, it was he who conceived and carried into effect the idea of publishing collections of songs by the yard, and giving to purchasers, for the small price of penny (in former days the cost of a single ballad), strings of poetry, resembling in shape and length the list of Don Juan's mistresses, which Leporello unrolls on the stage before Donna Anna. He was no ordinary man, Catnach: he patronised original talents in many a bard of St.
| Giles's, and is understood to have
accumulated the largest store of broadsides, last-dying speeches, ballads, and other
stock-in-trade of the flying stationers, upon record. We had flattered ourselves with the
illusive hope of benefiting by his liberal assistance in compiling these annals of ; but upon entering Monmouth Court, the
time for many years, we were by finding over of his doors
(for the great man filled ), |
We entertain not a doubt that his mantle has descended upon successors worthy of him, but to us they never can be what Catnach has been. His literary treasures will, in all probability, remain locked up until some George Robins does for them what the genuine Robins is doing for the collection of Strawberry Hill. Unless, indeed, the or the Bodleian contrive to secure them before they are offered to public competition.
The taste of is more literary than scientific, and modern seems preferred to ancient literature. At present there is, so far as we can ascertain, only old book-shop in the district--the extensive and recherche collection, near the upper end of , on the south side--hand books are sometimes indeed to be met with in the shops of other dealers, but they are in general the latest fashionable novels. Romantic serials appear to be greatly in demand: such as the
&c. All these are of the Bulwer or Ainsworth schools, and illustrated by engravings in wood every way worthy of them. For works of humour, such as the
there seems to be a considerable demand. The fact of all the works we have enumerated belonging to the illustrated class will have prepared the reader to expect other symptoms of a taste for art; and accordingly, in , we find of the great ateliers from which the milk-shops, ginger-beer stalls, green-groceries, and pot-houses of the suburbs are supplied with sign-boards. Theatrical amateurs appear to abound; at least the ample store of tin daggers, blunt cutlasses, banners, halberds, battleaxes, &c., constantly exposed for sale at a cellar in , indicate a steady demand. Nor is this all: in no part of the town do we find singing-birds in greater numbers and variety, and as most of the houses, being of an old fashion, have broad ledges of lead over the shop windows, these are frequently converted into hanging gardens, not so extensive as those of Babylon, but possibly yielding as much pleasure to their occupants. In short, what with literature and a taste for flowers and birds, there is much of the
about , harmonising with the out-of-door habits of its occupants; and could almost fancy that, amid the groups so easily and picturesquely disposed round each of the angles which abut upon the central circle, Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer had there found many of those exquisite pictures which he has so felicitously introduced into his
Flower (or vegetable) girls (sometimes blind of eye) meet you at every corner, and the baths are to be found in with the inscription,
Pedants may fancy this a degradation from the merits of the great work referred to, but who ever complained because phrases of true English growth are to be found in the mouths of Shakspere's
The bulk of the permanent population seems composed of Hebrews and the
|natives of the Emerald Isle. The former preponderate in (and this being the case, it is a favourable account of their practical tolerance that there is a flourishing pork and sausage shop near end of the street, and an equally flourishing Roman Catholic bookseller's at the other); the Irish abound most in the lanes and courts. The association is not without its predisposing causes in the economical relations of the parties. Whoever has passed along must have been struck with the redundant drapery of the oldclothes' shop, intermingled with stores of -hand boots and shoes, enough, it would seem, to fit out whole Spanish legions, were they again required. Doubtless good part of them finds a retail sale on the spot: it is not easy to escape the importunities of their eloquent vendors. .But in addition to these, a large export trade is driven with Ireland. It is understood that Mr. O'Connell's patriotic attempt to promote the domestic manufactures of Ireland has failed mainly from the circumstance that -tenths of the population have contracted a habit of wearing in preference and -hand clothes, and that the remaining cannot with their best will wear out their new clothes quick enough to provide the rest with a constant supply of their favourite wear.|
The classical reader may possibly retain from his schoolboy days a recollection of a race of people called Troglodytes-dwellers in caves, an intermediate species between the man and the rabbit. Their descendants still flourish in great force in . Cellars serving whole families for
are to be found in other streets of London, but not so numerous and near to each other. Here they cluster like cells in a convent of the order of La Trappe, or like onions on a rope. It is curious and interesting to watch the habits of these human moles when they emerge, or half emerge, from their cavities. Their infants seem exempt from the dangers which haunt those of other people: at an age when most babies are not trusted alone on a level floor, these urchins stand secure on the upmost round of a trap-ladder, studying the different conformations of the shoes of the passers-by. The mode of ingress of the adults is curious: they turn their backs to the entry, and, inserting foot and then another, disappear by degrees. The process is not, unlike (were such a thing conceivable) a sword sheathing itself. They appear a short-winded generation, often coming, like the otter, to the surface to breathe. In the twilight which reigns at the bottom of their dens you can sometimes discern the male busily cobbling shoes on side of the entrance, and the female repairing all sorts of rent garments. on the other. They seem to be free feeders: at certain periods of the day tea-cups and saucers may be seen arranged on their boards; at others, plates and pewter pots. They have the appearance of being on the whole a contented race. At present, when the cold north-easter of the income-tax is about to sweep cuttingly across the face of the earth, we often feel tempted to envy those who, in their subterranean retreats, will hear it whistle innocuously far above their heads, with the feelings of the travellers in
There are some features common to both divisions of this region, which will be best understood and appreciated after we have introduced our readers to
Here is the genuine unsophisticated . Its limits are not very precisely defined, its squalor fades into the cleanness of the more civilised districts in its vicinity, by insensible degrees, like the hues of the rainbow, but we shall not be far from the mark if we describe it as the triangular space bounded by , , and , . It is dense mass of houses,
through which narrow tortuous lanes curve and wind, from which again diverge close courts innumerable, all communicating with those nearest them. It is great maze of narrow crooked paths crossing and intersecting in labyrinthine convolutions, as if the houses had been originally great block of stone eaten by slugs' into innumerable small chambers and connecting passages. There is no privacy here for any of the over-crowded population; every apartment in the place is accessible from every other by a dozen different approaches. Only at night, when they are asleep-and not always at night-can their redundant numbers find room; for so long as they are lively enough to turn and be aware that anything presses them, there is squeezing and jostling, and grumbling and cursing. Hence whoever ventures here finds the streets (by courtesy so called) thronged with loiterers, and sees through the half-glazed windows the rooms crowded to suffocation. The stagnant gutters in the middle of the lanes, the accumulated piles of garbage, the pools accumulated in the hollows of the disjointed pavement, the filth choking up the dark passages which open like rat-holes upon the highway --all these, with their indescribable sights and smells, leave scarcely so dispiriting an impression on the passenger as the condition of the houses. Walls of the colour of bleached soot-doors falling from their hinges--door-posts worm-eaten and greasily polished from being long the supports of the shoulders of ragged loungers-windows where shivered panes of dirty glass alternate with wisps of straw, old hats, and lumps of or brown paper--bespeak the last and frailest shelter that can be interposed between man and the elements. It is a land of utter idleness. Groups of women, with dirty rags hung round them, not put on, cower round the doors--the old with wrinkled parchment skins, the young with flushed swollen faces and heavy eyes. The men lean against the wall or lounge listlessly about, sometimes with pipes in their mouths. In this region there are no birds or flowers at window or on wall; the inmates can scarcely muster liveliness sufficient to exchange words, or perpetrate the practical joke of pushing each other into the kennel. Shops are almost unknown--in the interior of the district quite unknown. Half-way up is in which a few withered vegetables are offered for sale; in another, where any kind of rags, with all their dirt, are purchased; along , , are some provision shops, or of those suspicious deposits of old rusty keys called marine stores, and opposite the church a gin-shop. Here a few miserable women may be seen attempting to help each other to arrange their faded shawls, when by any means they have procured liquor enough to stupify themselves-exhilaration is out of the question. Such is the aspect of this place by day. At night men speak of wild frantic revels, but these are not by the permanent inhabitants. In this desolate region many of the windows announce
and the transient population is almost as numerous as the regular in-dwellers. What the attraction can be it is difficult to conceive:
|perhaps in winter animal heat in over-crowded rooms may be a cheap substitute for fuel. It is the wild wanderers from town to town, whose blood circulates owing to their unsettled life, who keep up the revels spoken of; their hosts look on apathetically, or, if allowed to-participate, moodily drink stupefaction.|
The dull prosaic accounts given by policemen and constables of the intellectual and moral character of the inhabitants of this district some years back (and externally there is yet little show of amendment) was more appalling than anything a mere imaginative writer could conceive. Imagination falls short of reality on hand (
said an of the flash-house, tossing aside contemptuously of those novels which attempts to be striking by imitating the language of thieves); and, on the other, there is a liveliness excited by the effort of describing incompatible with the representation of the utter apathy and moral deadness sometimes to be found in men. gin-shop
pursued the witness,
[n.268.1] These practices were not confined to adults :--
Is the reader curious to know who the was whose lodger's children were such precocious adepts in drinking and gambling? He was
Nor was he the only public functionary who made a livelihood out of the vices of the inhabitants: was mentioned who was the proprietor of no less than disreputable houses, and clerk in Bedford Chapel.
The truth is, that you cannot touch pitch without being defiled; and this accounts for the peculiar morality of thief-catchers.
was asked of a;gentleman of this profession, by a member of the committee which made the report from which we have been quoting,
was the sententious reply,
This was an officer of delicate taste. As the bear-leader in
never allowed his bear to dance except to the
our hero could only associate with the very genteelest of thieves. Captain Macheath might have been his friend, but Nimming Ned must have in vain aspired to the honour of his acquaintance. This worthy (it was before the days of the new police) admitted that he
and that he supplied public-houses. Then
other trait, and we dismiss the subject. Mr.
as he styled himself, having declared magisterially that
and having previously stated that he served newspapers, the committee not unnaturally inquired whether he served Sunday newspapers?
We would not be misunderstood; every officer of justice does not bear his truncheon in vain, or become, as Falstaff would say,
We read, in the same annals of disreputability from which we have been quoting, of a beadle who was so well known, and had so much influence even over the Irish, that he had been seen
The terrible man thus described unconsciously paints himself in of his answers to the committee:--
Gold, like the magnet, operates differently according to the end of the instrument that is turned to the object: gold in the breeches-pocket attracts; gold
as the bard of sweetly sings, repels. But seriously, in , even more than in many other places, the pomp, pride, and circumstance of authority does a great deal.
said Mr. John Smart in ,
There is pride for you! The sturdy burghers of will not condescend to be taxed by deputy; the high constable must come in person and take it himself. It is as if the nobility should refuse to pay their income-tax to a common tax-gatherer, and insist upon the Premier's coming to receive it in person. Nor is this a solitary instance of the airs the denizens of (both in and out of office) give themselves, as witness:--
To say nothing of the
| solemn specific nature of the description, the retention of the title
long after a round-house had ceased to exist, reminds of the Kings of England persisting in calling themselves Kings of France, although for centuries they had not owned a foot of land on the other side of the Channel.
Such are the regions close on either hand of the street which connects with Oxford Street--an airy thoroughfare, along which no small portion of the ease and affluence of London is daily rolled in cab, bus, or in their own private vehicles, unobservant it may be, or merely remarking how shabby flyblown provision-shops, old furniture repositories, and marine stores look, but little thinking of the squalid scenes that lurk behind them--in
as they are poetically named by the natives. The main difference between the north and the south sides of the great thoroughfare alluded to consists in this: that in the latter there is still thought, and hope, and exertion, while in the former all these seem dead in the human bodies which move mechanically about amid its pestilential effluvia. Isolated courts and lanes, resembling the Rookery, are found on the south side also, but not in dense mass: they are broken up and ventilated by the busier streets, where men are still human. The feeblest eddy on the outer edge of the ever-foaming torrent of London life, it may be, with just enough of motion to enable us to distinguish between it and the dull moisture which keeps out the ooze alongshore as torpid as itself, but still there is life in it; and unspeakable is the difference between life, however faint, and utter apathy. In this eddy of Dials is to be found the pilfering instinct of the native of its back-courts not utterly dead, mingling with the rusting honesty of the indolent and unfortunate sinking downward from the industrious classes. There is activity after its kind, as any may be aware who has threaded during the hours nearest on either side to noon; for later in the day its busy chafferers reward themselves for their activity by indulgence, and in the morning they crawl about opening their shops as if only half awake. But the incessant crowds of listless hangers--on at the doors of the ginpalaces in Dials show by how thin a partition the anomalously industrious of the place are separated from the hopeless class whose only pleasure is sottishness.
Let us not forget the education of ; for however little is done in that sacred cause, the forms of it are now everywhere gone through with most edifying hypocrisy. In is a sign-board,
but whether this inscription relates to what is or to what was, it were hard to say. At the lower end of is a cellar into which a crowd of children are duly packed in the morning to keep them from amongst the horses' feet during the day; and at the upper end of may be seen the firmly-bolted doors of
with its brown and torn hats stuck through the broken panes of glass in its windows. There is here just enough of the appearance of education to remind us that there is such a thing elsewhere, if it should for a moment escape our memory.
And this desolate region lies between the Inns of Court and the great theatres, extends on side to the busy traffic of , on the other to the equally busy traffic of and , and is separated from the
Court-end of the town only by the equivocal region of Soho and Leicester Squares. step conveys us from a land of affluence and comfort to a land of
hopelessness and squalid want. And what remedy is proposed? Men are beginning to suspect that
spacious lines of streets, with rows of stately fronts of houses on each side, in which the
decorations of Grecian temples are superinduced upon shops of all kinds, are of little avail,
so long as close and noisome lanes and courts are allowed to remain in their rottenness behind,
only hidden by these whitened sepulchres; and therefore it is proposed to apply, to |
in particular, a more thorough-going cure. A street is to be driven through in a direct line from to , where the Rookery now stands, sweeping the offensive mass away bodily. As far as the houses merely are concerned, there can be no objection to this; but what is to become of their inhabitants? They have sought shelter there not because they prefer dirty and ill-ventilated abodes, but because there are no others to which they can betake them. Pulling down their old houses about their ears will not provide these miserables with new residences. Is it an amendment of their lot to drive them from their mouldy straw and crumbling roofs to the hard streets without any covering? There is a lamentable ignorance about that self-applauding humanity with which we deck ourselves in this age as with a glittering robe. It is the true counterpart of that of the French princess, who, when told that the people were starving for want of bread, asked why they did not eat buns? It is either that selfish reluctance to contemplate pain, which would assuage the pain of the sufferer so long as he is in view, heedless of the pangs he may endure as soon as he is removed from sight; or it is a dream that, by removing some of the consequences of poverty, the cause itself is removed. To the class belong those who imagine that lavish poor-laws-abundant doles of alms--are all that is required; to the latter, those who persuade themselves that, by merely enforcing a medical police, improving drainage, opening up close and over-built districts, removing dilapidated buildings--in short, by rendering all parts of our towns and cities fit habitations for those who can afford to pay for comfort, and leaving none of those holes in which the very poor are accustomed to hide their heads--enough is done. Alas! man is not relieved by heaping food, clothing, and shelter upon him, so long as he remains unchanged within-unable to help himself--a pauper in soul! And it seems little likely that Lazarus will cease to be hungry merely because he sees the crumbs he used to pick up swept away and destroyed as they fall from the table.
Let the rich and the powerful lay these things to heart. We pause for a moment ere we quit the scene through which we have led our readers, to look around from this the highest part of it, on which the church is built. Most frequently the lazar refugees of the poor or the dishonest in great cities are to be found in hollows, into which they seem to have run down like the rain-water, carrying all impurities along with them. Here is planted like a city on a hill, which cannot be hid. And, from the little care taken to amend it, could almost fancy London was proud of this pimple on her fat smooth citizen visage.
so runs, or ran, a monumental inscription in this cemetery,
Surely it was not altogether by accident that the body of this loyal yeoman came to be deposited here. There is a meaning and a moral in the arrangement. A devotional feeling is ennobling, if sincere, however erroneous its attachment. Whatever we may think of Charles, the faith and loyalty of Pendrill was pare. And fitting, therefore, is it that he be held in remembrance; yet the erecting of his monumental trophy amid a living condemnation of those who held the faith that rulers may blamelessly live for themselves, neglecting the discharge of their high functions, as a standing rebuke to all who, seeing honour paid to who in ignorance served faithfully an undeserving master, seek their own honour by serving those who they know do not deserve it. Or, if the reader think, with Horatio, that it is
he may satisfy himself with the , that honest Pendrill lies here, amid the living lumber of , like a fine picture by an old master deposited by accident among the rubbish of some of the neighbouring old-furniture shops.
[n.263.1] Annual Register, 1760 , p. 28 (of the Chronicle division of the volume).
[n.268.1] Some comfortable philosopher says, There never was a bad, but it had a worse ; and this seems to hold true of St. Giles's. Bad though it be, it is nothing to what it was. A magistrate of the county of Middlesex said in 1817 :-- In the early part of my life (I remember almost the time which Hogarth has pictured) every house in St. Giles's, whatever else they sold, sold gin; every chandler's shop sold gin; the situation of the people was dreadful. I lived with a relation of mine then who employed a vast number of people, and observed the lower orders then in a terrible state,
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|CHAPTER LI: Bermondsey: The Abbey|
|CHAPTER LII: Modern Bermondsey|
|CHAPTER LIII: The Mint|
|CHAPTER LIV: The Thames Tunnel|
|CHAPTER LV: The Docks|
|CHAPTER LVI: Westminster Bridge|
|CHAPTER LVII: Strawberry Hill--Walpole's London|
|CHAPTER LVIII: Blackfriards Bridge|
|CHAPTER LIX: Clerkenwell|
|CHAPTER LX: Strawberry Hill--Walpole's London (concluded from No. LVII)|
|CHAPTER LXI: Vauxhall, Waterloo, and Southwark Bridges|
|CHAPTER LXII: Barber-Surgeons' Hall|
|CHAPTER LXIII: The College of Surgeons|
|CHAPTER LXIV: The Royal Academy. No. 1|
|CHAPTER LXV: The Royal Academy. No. 2|
|CHAPTER LXVI: London Astrologers|
|CHAPTER LXVII: St. Giles's, Past and Present|
|CHAPTER LXVIII: The Post Office|
|CHAPTER LXIX: Pall Mall|
|CHAPTER LXX: The Temple Church, Its History and Associations|
|CHAPTER LXXI: Scotsmen in London, by James M'Turk, Esq.|
|CHAPTER LXXII: The Foundling Hospital|
|CHAPTER LXXIII: The Corn Exchange|
|CHAPTER LXXIV: Ely Place|
|CHAPTER LXXV: Goldsmiths' Hall|