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sinking into periodical pamphlets, and even poetry abounds with the allusions and declamations of political party. It is our object, therefore, to establish a journal in which every species of politics will be scrupulously avoided, and where our readers shall be certain of finding literary subjects wholly unaffected by their warping influence.
A MORNING AT BOW-STREET.
I was awakened yesterday morning by a note being delivered to me from a young friend of mine, telling me that he was in trouble-i.e., in St. Martin's watchhouse~and requesting me to come down to Bow-street to be his bail, if need were ; and, at all events, to give him my advice and assistance to get out of the scrape. Now I am one of those persons who, like the beau in Gil Blas, “ would not rise before noon for the best party of pleasure which could be proposed :” it therefore gave me no particular delight to turn out before nine o'clock on a cold morning on an errand like this. Go, however, I did-and I arrived at Bow-street just in time to see my friend alight from a hackney-coach, with five companions in misfortur:e. “ Sa toilette du soir, un peu fanée ce matin,” added to his dim sunken eye, his pale cheek, and matted hair, made his appearance sufficiently forlorn ; which was not improved by the shame which he very visibly felt of his situation. He had no sort of inclination, I soon perceived, to figure in the Police Report of the Morning Herald. His story was, that he had been foolish enough the night before to go to a gaming-house-usually and most appropriately called a Hell; and that after losing fifty pounds, he was
bagged, as he phrased it, by an irruption of Bow-street officers, and had the satisfaction of passing the remainder of the night in the watch-house. There was nothing very formidable in all this; and I thought it scarcely sufficient cause for me to have been dragged out of my bed at owl-light in the morning. My young friend, however, felt somewhat less than comfortable in his novel situation, and wished me to remain with him to see him through the business. In the mean time as our case was not the first to be gone through, I had leisure to take a survey of the place which I was in, and the people by whom I was surrounded.
This was the first time I had ever been at Bow-street, and the scene was sufficiently striking. The low illlighted room, with its dingy walls and barred windows, was a locale well adapted to the figures of want, vice, and wretchedness with which it was filled, Some few, like my friend, seemed to be there for some slight offence, and their appearance evinced only the desire to escape from observation in such a place. Others, with looks of shame far greater, and with the air of the deepest depression, seemed to await their turn of hearing with the most anxious fear, rarely and slightly varied by a faint degree of hope. But by far the greatest number had that look of hardened reckless vice, which is perhaps the most degraded and revolting aspect in which humanity ever appears : these faces bespoke the total absence of shame, and the callous indifference to consequence, which habitual wickedness gives, and which seem to regard detection and punishment as but the adverse chances of a game, in which they must sometimes necessarily occur.
But what was chiefly jarring to my feelings, was the matter-of-course air, with which the officers and even the magistrate looked on a scene
from which I shrank with disgust and loathing. The various shades and degrees of folly, of error and of crime, which the figures around spoke so plainly, appeared to be regarded by them as the usual occupants of the place—the natural subjects of a day's duty. See,' said I to myself, the hardening effects of habit! That magistrate is, I doubt not, a man of humanity, and once had the feelings natural to one of his station in life ;-but now from the constantly witnessing misery and guilt, he has come to look unmoved on these the most degraded appearances of human nature-the very dregs and offal of misfortune and of crime !
The first case which was called was not of a nature calculated to remove the impressions to which the scene before me gave rise. It was that of a young man accused of forgery. Like many of those guilty of this crime, he seemed to be of superior manners and talents. His appearance was very interesting : he was not more than three or four and twenty, and his countenance, like that of the fallen Eblis, betokened energies and capabilities, which should have led to far different results. He was one of those instances of misdirected powers, and advantages perverted to evil, which, though so frequent, do not the less excite compassion and regret. It was his second examination ; and, since the last, his friends had been informed of his perilous situation.
His father had hurried from the country to console and to assist his son. The old man was now present- and I have seldom seen grief more pitiable. He seemed to be between sixty and seventy. His white hair was thinly scattered on his forehead; over which and his sunken cheek the most deadly paleness was spread. The furrows of his aged face appeared deepened and contracted with grief. His eye, which was becoming dim
with years, had regained for the time a lustrous expression,-but it was that of agony. His looks were rivetted on his son, who seemed to shrink from his gaze, as if his father's sufferings added tenfold bitterness to his own, When the young man's name was called, a shudder seemed to pass over his frame, but he stepped forward to the bar with a firm step, and a countenance sufficiently composed. His case proved to be one by no means uncommon, but always most distressing. He had early shewn talents superior to his station, and his parents had pinched themselves to give education to their favourite boy. A few years back they had with difficulty procured him a situation in a merchant's counting-house in London. And here, he yielded to those temptations under which so many have sunk. He passed from expense to extravagance, and from extravagance to dishonesty—and he was at last discovered to have forged a bill to a considerable amount, on which charge he was being now examined. As the examination proceeded, and the proofs against him became full and decisive,-the sorrow of the father's countenance darkened into utter hopelessness; and when the Magistrate signed the committal, the unfortunate old man fell back senseless into the arms of a by-stander. The Magistrate was visibly affected, and even the officers were not unmoved. Nature, though hardened and deadened, is Nature still; and the heart must indeed be closed, which has no touch of softness at an appeal like this to her first and purest feelings.
The next prisoner who was brought up was a man who had been caught in the act of breaking into a jeweller's shop. The tools of his trade were produced ; for with him theft was a regular calling. He was well known
by the officers, and appeared to belong to that class, alas! but too numerous in London, who, born in its sinks of misery and vice, pass their lives in violence and crime, and end them, probably, at the gallows. To these wretched beings ill name is the sole inheritance; dishonesty the only birthright. The prisoner seemed the very epitome of the race. His coarse straight hair-his small deep-seated pig-like eyes—his cheek bones prominent, and distant from each other—his wide thick-lipped mouth-all combined to give his countenance every expression of brutality and degradation. His situation appeared by no means new to him, and he shewed total unconcern for the danger in which he stood. He seemed to understand all the forms of the examination, and he went to gaol with the air of a man to whom it is a place of usual abode.
After him were brought up three young sparks for a street-row. They had been enacting the parts of Tom, Jerry, and Logic, and the scene had ended, as usual, in the watch-house. One of them exhibited the marks of the prowess of the “Charlies” in an eye portentously swollen and blackened; the two others seemed to have undergone complete immersion in the kennel; the mud of which, being now dried on their clothes, gave their evening finery a most dilapidated aspect. It appeared that these young men had been vastly taken with the refined humour, brilliant wit, and gentlemanly knowledge of the world of the production called “ Life in London;" and that they had determined to emulate the deeds of its triumvirate of worthies as soon as opportunity served. In pursuance of this exalted ambition, they had sallied forth the night before with the determination of having “a Spree.” Accordingly, in the Strand, they had overtaken a watchman, a feeble old man, who was instantly,