The million-peopled city

Garwood, John


The Funeral of a Pensioner described.


thus describes the funeral of a Chelsea pen- sioner:-

" It rarely happens that, out of a body of 500 invalids, one or two are not committed every week to the dust; and Wednesday and Friday being here the canonical days for interments, you may chance to be present at the ceremony. Let me, then, assume that we have traversed the inter- mediate space together, and are standing at this moment at the extremity of Jew's-row, though prepared, by the simple operation of throwing our right shoulders forward, to make good our entrance into the Hospital. See, there is some operation in progress more important than usual. The gates are closed, the guard is turned out, and the sentry holds the postern in his hand, that he may admit well- dressed and respectable-looking people, at the same time that he shuts out the mob. Examine the bearing of these men closely, and having done so, retain the indifference which on ordinary occasions may pervade you, if you can. There are just twelve of them, with a sergeant and a corporal, of whom three, including the sergeant, have severally lost a leg; two present each an empty sleeve; and the remainder are furrowed over by age, and heavily laden with infirmities. Yet, how erect and steady is their port! There they are, with the three-cornered hat of William the Third's day, surmounting the red frock of a similar date-noble specimens of what soldiers once were, gallant ruins of men who never knew in youth what fear was, and are not now likely to forget what is due to their well-earned reputation. And observe the sentry at the gate;-how good-humouredly he repulses the crowd, chiefly of boys, that press upon him, though his sole weapon be now the staff, which is used indifferently to command attention, and to support the steps


. of him who wields it. But, as I have just said, he has no orders to exclude well-dressed people, and will not, therefore, resist our effort to establish ourselves within the barricade, if such be your desire. Move forward, then, and place yourself just beyond the guard-house, till the procession, of which the approach is announced by the roll of the muffled drum and the shrill notes of the fife, shall have passed. We can then fall in with the rear, and be witnesses to the ceremonies, whatever they may be, that attend the funeral of a pen- sioner.

"The drum will have been heard some time, and the well-known air, the , recognised, ere the pro- cession comes in sight, winding round the angle of the court. It appears, however, at last, headed by the firing party, 12 veterans, accoutred for the occasion in old black waist- belts, from which, in the rear, depend old bayonets, and to which, in front, are fastened old cartouche-boxes. Their muskets, somewhat the worse for wear, and stripped of the slings which formerly attached to them, are reversed, not perhaps with the nicety which a firing party from the Grenadier Guards might display, but after a fashion which sufficiently indicates that the old men have not forgotten the lessons learned in early youth. The tread of the men them- selves, likewise, is orderly; and they are commanded by a sergeant, who marches behind the rearmost file, with his partisan or halbert reversed. Next to the firing party move the drummer and fifer, 2 feeble grey-headed men, in whom it would be difficult to recognise the relics of the light- hearted lads whose merry music has startled many a maiden from her broken slumbers, and called her to the window that she might look her last at some favourite partner in the dance, or, it may be, at one who had established still stronger claims upon her memory. And now come the chaplain and his clerk, of whom it would be unbecoming in


me to say more than that both have seen some service, and that both carry about in their own persons sensible proofs that where there is service there is usually danger. These, again, are succeeded by the coffin, which being covered with a black pall, and surmounted by the hat of the deceased,- the single military trophy of which his latter days could boast,-is borne on the shoulders of six of his comrades. His relatives, if he have any, now fall into their places; the nurses who attended him in his last illness succeed, and the whole procession is closed by the inmates of his ward, among whom it rarely occurs that he had not one or more intimate and familiar friends.

"As the closing files pass the grave-yard doorway, we attach ourselves to the little column, and are introduced into an open area, oblong in shape, totally devoid of ornament, and fenced about with lofty brick-built walls. Not yet, however, have we leisure to look round; for the procession having advanced about half way towards its further ex. tremity, defiles somewhat to the right, and halts beside a mound of fresh earth. Here, at the foot of the grave, the clergyman takes his station; while the firing party form line along its edge, leaving, however, space enough between for those whose business it may be to lower the coffin into the dust. Meanwhile the mourners, including nurses and pensioners, in attendance, arrange themselves in a sort of half-circle about the grave. And now the chaplain, raising his hat, begins the service, during the progress of which you cannot better employ yourself than by looking round upon the countenances of his audience. But the service is not of long continuance. The chaplain has ceased to speak. The coffin is lowered into the grave, earth is consigned to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes. And now, the sergeant, taking a pace to the front, gives the word of command, and his party come to attention, shoulder their arms, and present.


Their volley may be less exact than it used to be-but no matter. It tells the neighbourhood that a gallant spirit has gone back to Him who gave it; after which the men half- cock their firelocks, face to the left, and the yard is soon emptied." [1] 

A missionary of the , who visits this Hospital, was anxious to know what effect a funeral had on the old men. His statement is a painful one. It is as follows,-" One or two of the old men failing to fire in an orderly manner, it so much incensed their comrades, that before they could get out of the burying-ground, there was such swearing at each other that my feelings were shocked, and I never again went to witness a funeral."

The average attendance at the on Wed- nesdays and Fridays is only about 15, but on days of funerals it is much larger. The very small attendance at other times evidences that services of a different order are what are wanted by the old men.


[1] Records of Chelsea Hospital," pp. 334--8.

This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
View all images in this book
 Title Page
Chapter I: Criminal and Destitute London Juveniles, or the Ragged School Class
Criminal and Destitute London Juveniles, or the Ragged School Class
A distinct Class from Adult Thieves
Their extreme Youth, and sometimes Childhood
Great Severity of British, as compared with French, Law on Juvenile Offenders
Their especial Claim, when resident in London
Their supposed Numbers
The Classes from which they are drawn
The Training for Crime which they receive
Their Gradations in Proficiency
Importance of Missionary Operations among this Class
The Ragged School Movement
The Connexion of the Ragged schools with the Operations of the London City Mission
Ragged Schools in an especial manner free from the Difficulties of Difference of Creed and Interference with the Duties of Parents
Early Approaches to the Ragged School System
The first Ragged School in Lonon, as established in 'the Old Stable' at Westminster
The Report of this School, as printed by Order of the House of Commons
Mr. Charles Dicken's Account of the Plot of Ground on which this School stood, called 'The Devil's Acre'
Letter of the Children of this School to the City Missionary
New Pye-street Girls' School, April 10, 1843
Dickens's narrative of Emigrants from this School
The Field-lane ragged School described, as a second Illustration of these Institutions
Description of the adjacent notorious 'Thieves' Houses'
Formation of the School
Dickens's Narrative of different Visits to this School, and of the Improvements effected in the interim
Narrative of a Visit to this School, from 'Chambers's Edinburgh Journal'
This School first interested Lord Shaftesbury in the 'Movement'
Erection of a New Schoolroom with a large Dormitory
Review of the subsequent Progress of London Ragged Schools to the present Time
Industrial Schools
Sergeant Adams's Eulogy of the Efforts of Ragged School Teachers
Three Cases of Usefulness from the Ragged School Union Magazine
Case of Usefulness reported to the Author by a Clergyman
Two other Cases of Usefulness from the 'London City Mission Magazine'
The Shoe-blacks a most remarkable Illustration of the Success of the Efforts made to benefit this Class
Broomers, and how they might be made to cleanse London
Steppers and Ragged Nursery
Comparison of the Expenses of Schools and Prisons
The especial Claims of Girls
Voluntary Effort, and that by the Masses, rather than Government Aid, to be especially rested on
Appointment of a Missionary by the London City Mission
Importance of Increased Exertions, in order to bring the whole of this Class under Ragged School Instrution
Concluding Remarks
Chapter II: Greenwich and Chelsea Pensioners
Greenwich and Chelsea Pensioners
Greenwich and Chelsea Hospitals fit Adornments to the two Shores of England's Metropolis
Greenwich Hospital
The Pensioners
Their Ages
Their Present Number
The Yearly Deaths
The Infirmary for the Sick and Dying
Religious and moral Character of the Pensioners, and Providsion made for their Instruction
The Pensioners not allowed to marry, and the bad Effects of this Rule
The Royal Hospital Schools
Law Agency in a peculiar manner important with these Men
The London City Mission, the only Agency of this Character in the Hospital
Need of a Second Paid Lay Visitor
Description of the Meeting of Pensioners held daily by the Missionary
Striking Cases of Usefulness among the Pensioners by this Agency
In A.D. 1851
In A.D. 1852
In A.D. 1853
Case of Usefulness among Out-pensioners, from the Scripture Readers' Association 'Occasional paper'
Chelsea Hospital
Its Origin
Nell Gwynne's Grant of the Building
Number of In-pensioners admitted
Their Character
The Pensioners' Opinions of the late Duke of Wellington, and of Lying-in-State
The Crowds of the Public who assembled to see the Spectacle
Number of Out-pensioners in different Years, according to the Prevalence of Peace or War
The immense Cost of the Pensioners to the nation, even at the Present Day
The Hotel des Invalides in Paris, established before Chelsea Hospital in London, and a Standing Army established in France before its Establishment in Enbland
How the Disabled and Aged Soldier was previously supported in this Country
The College was not completed till the Revolution
The Interest of William the Third and Fourth in the College
The College is for Invalids also
Ages of the Pensioners
Number of Deaths annually
The Burial-ground of Chelsea Hospital, and its Remarkable Epitaphs
Burial Registers
The Funeral of a Pensioner described
Flags and Trophies recently removed from St. Paul's Cathedral to Chelsea Hospital
Specimens of Certificates of Service given to Pensioners on their Admission to the College by their Commanding Officers
The Clasps worn by Pensioners to denote the Number of Battles in which they have engaged
Guard kept at the College in Military Style
Foreigners and different Creeds among the Pensioners
The heavy Manner in which Time hangs on their Hands
Cards, &c. introduced by the Authorities of the College to remedy this
Library, and its Defects
Gardening introduced by Lord John Russell
These Gardens were the former famed Ranelagh
Great Abuses in the Management of Chelsea Hospital abolished by Lord John Russell
Regulations as to Marriage more favourable to Morals at Chelsea than at Greenwich
The Royal Military Asylum for Boys
The Wellington Fund now raising for the Children of Officers
Gratitude of the Pensioners for Religious Instruction, and their Visit to City Missionaries, when the latter had been ill
Their Interest in Religious Tracts
Their Desire of Further Instruction
Number of Out-pensioners resident in the Metropolis
Facilities for, and Importance of, Benefitting these Men
Extracts from the Reports of a Missionary of the London City Mission
The especial Claims which Pensioners present on the Christian Benevolence of the Nation, and not of the Inhabitants of London only
Thankfulness for Peace
Immense Cost of War as compared with the Insignificant Amount which would now add greatly to their Comfort, and promote their Best Interests
Danger of Delay with Men so Aged
Chapter III: The London Cab-Driver
The London Cab-Driver
The Introduction of Coaches into London in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth
The riding Horses in previous Use
Coaches when introduced only by the very Highest Class of Society, and regarded as an effeminacy
On other Classes beginning the use of Coaches, the higher Classes continued to add to the Number of the Horses by which their Coaches were drawn, in order to retain a Superiority
The Introduction of Hackney Coaches kept at Inns, in the Reign of James I
Hackney Coach-stands in the Public Streets established
These Prohibited by the Proclamations of succeeding Kings, but in vain
The Two Centuries of Hackney-coach continuance
The Last Days of London Hackney-coaches
The Cabriolets of Paris
Their subsequent Introduction in London
The immense Increase in their Number during the Twenty Years of their Existence
Their present Number
The Cab-driver
The extensive Use of London Cabs on Sundays, and its injurious Effects on the Drivers
The Extortion complained of in Cabmen
The unlicensed Driver, and the extreme Depravity of this Class
Cab-drivers as a Body exposed to unjust Odium
Recent Alteration in the System of Licensing, and its Effects
Great Difference in the Character of London Cab-stands
The Waterman
First Efforts for the Religious Welfare of Cabmen as a Body, as made by the London City Mission
A Missionary appointed by that Society to visit them, and his Great Success
A Second Missionary appointed, but soon discontinued, through want of Funds for his Support
Cases recorded of his Usefulness
The Emigration of the First Missionary, and the Appointment of his Successor, with Review of his Efforts and Success
Cases of Usefulness recorded by the Cab Missionary of the London City Mission, last Year
Chapter IV: The London Omnibus Man
The London Omnibus Man
The Introduction of Omnibuses into London, and their previous Establishment in Paris
The Enterprise of Mr. Shillibeer, in starting Omnibuses in the English Metropolis, the Difficulties he encountered, and his subsequent Ruin
The Paris and London Omnibuses of the present day compared
The constant Litigation between the Proprietors of London Omnibuses after Mr. Shillibeer's Failure, and the consequent Establishment of large Omnibus Companies for the sake of Mutual Protection
The Immense Amount of the Capital and Annual Expenditure of the London Omnibus Trade
The vast Sums of Money spent by the London Population in Omnibus Riding
The Large Amount of Revenue which London Omnibuses produce to the Government
The very small Number of Omnibuses in the remainder of England, as compared with the Number in London
The almost incredible Length of Distance traversed periodically by the London Omnibuses
The constant Increase in the Number of London Omnibuses
The Metropolitan Omnibus Traffic greater in the Number of Passengers than the Metropolitan Railway Traffic
The Condition of the London Omnibus Men, and their present Numbers
Their Sunday Occupation in the Metropolis of a professedly Christian Country scarcely less than on Week-days, and sometimes greater, while an Extreme Amount of Toil is imposed on them during the Week
Lord Shaftesbury's Testimony of the Success of an Omnibus Proprietor who Discontinued Sunday Work
Testimonies as to the Toil of Omnibus-men from the Early Closed Association
From an Occasional paper of the Church Pastoral-Aid Society
From the Rev. J. T. Baylee's 'Statistics and Facts in reference to the Lord's-day'
Extract from 'Silverpen' as to the Wives and Families of Omnibus Servants
Medical Testimony as to the Injury of Labour so hard on the Constitution of the Men
Testimonies given to Mr. Mayhew as to the Severity of the Labour, by a Driver, a Conductor, and a Time-keeper
Their Wages
Their Temptations to Drink
Their Temptations to Embezzlement
Urgent Appeal as to the Heathenism of so Large a Body of Men
Reference to the Efforts of the London City Mission, in a Pamphlet entitled 'The Omnibus Men of London'
Recent Efforts of Omnibus Servants themselves to Improve their Condition
The Grand Junction Omnibus Comopany
The Introduction of Omnibuses has brought more together the different Parts of London
Concluding Appeal
Chapter V: The Irish of London
The Irish of London
Their Numbers
Their Country and their Race
St. Patrick
Subsequent Wars
Conquest of Ireland by Henry II, and its subsequent Oppression by the English
The Reformation in Ireland
The Protestant Colony of Ulster Established
The Battle of the Boyne, and its Consequences
The Union
Remarkable Increase of Population in Ireland during the close of the 18th and the commencement of the 19th Centuries
The pleasing Peculiarities in the irish Character
Their Hospitality
Their strong Natural Affection
The Native irish Poor more virtuous than the English Poor
Even the Good Qualities of the Irish cause them especially to need Faithful and Judicious Counsel and Visitation
Their Claim as Immigrants into, to them, a Strange Land
The Excellences of the Irish Character are beheld in London in their rudest form
How Popery has Marred and Debased the Irish Character
The Irish have been made thereby Idle
They have no Proper Feeling of Independence
Their Disloyalty
Their Spirit of Persecution and Hatred to Protestants
The Irish of London require 100 Missionaries or Scripture-readers, in order that the Gospel may be brought to their Abodes
The same Agency, for the effecting the same Results, is what is especially required for the Irish of London
Cardinal Wiseman's recent Denunciation of this Agency in London
Soundness of Protestant Feeling among the English working-classes
'The testimony of no single missionary is materially different'
The Persecution which the recent London Converts have had to endure
General Expectations of Irish Romanists that Ireland will soon become a Protestant, and England a Popish Country
The Causes of the Extensive Immigration of Irish to London in Recent Years
The better Class of Poor emigrate from Ireland to America, and the worst Class to London
The Divisions of the Irish of London into Cockneys and Grecians
The Irish of London, as divided into Connaught and Munster Men
Immigration of Immoral Irish Women
The Numbers of the Irish of London who can read English and Irish respectively estimated
Irish Protestants possess more Scriptual Knowledge than English Protestants
Extreme Ignorance on Scriptural Subjects of Irish Romanists, illustrated by Examples
The Irish, on arriving in London, rapidly lose their previous Religious Habits
London considered by the Irish as an Infidel City, in which, without Loss of Character, they may live in the Neglect of all Religious Observances
The Prevalence of Drunkness among the Irish and English compared
The Rookeries are the Parts of London in which the Irish Chiefly dwell
The Occupations of the Irish of London
Especial Suitableness of Irish Scripture-readers and Misisonaries for Irish Districts and the more Especial Facilities with which they may be obtained
Future Hopes
 Recently Published