« AnteriorContinuar »
Mine is thine, and thine is mine-
WE say—Yes. Of course, Mr. Mayor. Muster all your state pageantry; the chivalry of Cockaigne; sound the réveille to awake your brass-clad champion; let the little man who sits at your carriage window, sword in hand, forthwith don the inverted fur bucket with which he crowns himself; get up all your pomp and circumstance; enlist the Aldermen—they will serve capitally for ballast ; send the fiery cross round your domains, let it gleam on Cheapside, and glisten meteor-like on Dowgate-hill; let not a civic retainer linger in joining the foray on the city purse; prick proudly from beneath Temple-bar ; receive, as did your predecessor, a degree from the hands of the complaisant doctors of Oxford—it is fully as valuable as a cross of the legion of honour; then screw up your courage; embark, my lord, embark; conserve the Thames and reassure Old England 1
The conservation of the Thames' Conservation against what? Why against fire; against some sacrilegious individual running off with it; against the fearful peril of a monster in human shape damming up the parent runnel at Chepstow, and sneering with a diabolical laugh at the thought of the stranded commerce in the pool. Conserve the Thames against what? Surely against an inland Mrs. Partingdon sweeping it out of its channel with a broomstick; against a pic-nicking party of teetotalers drinking it up in their tea; against the calamity hinted at in the Critic, of both the banks accidentally getting on one side. Or think you not, too, my Lord Mayor, of the living creatures floating on the river's bosom, or snoozing all fishily in its bed ? Must not they be looked after ? Only think of a hardened Pentonvillean who goes out on Sunday afternoons to fish at Hampton Court, catching and cooking a sturgeon, which we all know must, by immemorial right, belong to the kitchen of the Mansion House; or, direr catastrophe still,— think of a mighty hunter from Pimlico sacrilegiously shooting that bird so peculiar to the Thames, and so famous in natural history —a swan with two necks.
Dire suppositions !—enough to make one's blood, venous and arterial, curdle in its channels, like New River water in a frost. Therefore, my lord, go to 0xford. We have indicated the purs of your journey ; we have sketched the peril from which— all heroically, all self-devotedly—you buckle on your pilgrim's gear, to release us fat and greasy citizens. Now, how do you intend to grapple with the evils you go to smite down 2 Eat, my lord, eat! Cannibal-like, devour your enemies! There is more magic in knife and fork than in wand and divining-rod But why talk of the black art? We have stated against what the Civic Pilgrim Father goes forth, to conserve our well-beloved Thames." Is there any reasoning man out of the Common Council, who, by the most simple process of ratiocination, does not at once see—as illumined by one dazzling burst of intellectual lightning— the clear connection between emptying tureens of turtle and the utter discomfiture and destruction of any one of those flesh-creeping schemes which we have enumerated, for promoting and abetting the decline and downfal of our own dearly-beloved pea-soupy river ? The thing stands plainly demonstrated. Unless the Lord Mayor and all the Aldermen—beginning at Oxford—actually eat and drink their way through every reach, through every lock, between far-off Isis and the muddy precincts of Bugsby Hole, the great river is done for—the silent highway is shut up—the sturgeons are roasted for plebeian stomachs—the swans with two necks have both of them wrung—Father Thames is gathered to his fathers (whoever they may be), and desolate London laments round his empty bed. Therefore, my Lord Mayor, be up and eating. Aldermen, we pray you, go into training for the feed. Oh, be bold ! Brave indigestion—brave flatulence—brave headaches in the morning ! Welcome a surfeit for your country's good | Never mind your stomachs; but take care of our Thames Load then the Maria Wood with all pleasant things. Lord Mayor Noah, get into your ark. Let all beasts—edible—accompany you—two by two. Let the turtle waddle on board, arm in arm with its mate—and as each animal ought to defile after its kind, we need not specify the long-eared procession, which in order to carry out this arrangement, will of course follow the Aldermen There is only one point more. Where is the money for all these important services—the necessary expenses we mean—to come from ?—We declare we never heard a more vulgar, paltry, and impertinent question. It's just like that low Court of Common Council. Where?–0f course from the pockets of the citizens of London—from their lawfully-acquired cash. And they grumble.—Gratitude must have flown from the world. It's gone to “brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason.” Oh for an hour of Lord Castlereagh to lecture city dwellers on their “ignorant impatience of taxation.” Ladies and gentlemen! cash up—come. You have nothing to do but to pay. The recipients have nothing to do but to spend. 'Tis but a realisation of the great principle of division of labour. Besides, the city authorities have a right “to do what they like with their own.” Your pockets are theirs. It is quite a vulgar fallacy—as Alderman Wilson would demonstrate to you in a trice—to think otherwise. The Lord Mayor and the Court of Aldermen hold the city purse-strings. They are privileged to make ducks and drakes of the money—and geese of themselves—whenever it pleaseth them. And therefore, 0 citizens! cease vain complainings, which bring but vexation;–and you, O Common Council' retire into your domestic sancta, and reverently opening your Shakspeares, ponder with that—in all respects but his wit—most aldermanic personage, Sir Toby Belch, over the great, the eternal, the immutable answer, which, while the world is the world, must always reply to the Question:— “Because thou art virtuous, shall there be no more cakes and ale?” ANGUs B. REACH.
The most atrocious criminals were innocent little babies once, and they grew up to be hanged Of two men born on the same day, it has happened that one has been “launched into etermity” by the hangman, whilst the other has been taken to his place in the respectable family vault, and his memory rejoices in an epitaph, blossoming with those scentless virtues which spring up so plentifully for dead men when they have not to be buried at the expense of the parish. The distribution of the affairs of this world seems such a tangled web of arbitrary arrangements—good and evil, right and wrong—that we cannot penetrate to the principle which governs it. Causes and effects have become so complicated and involved, that they seem to have lost their essential nature, and become detached fragments of that vast chapter of accidents which we call “this world.” As we chance to look out of ourselves on what surrounds us, everything seems an ordinary occurrence or a miracle; it is both, or either, according to the spirit in which we look. A thing that is no wonder, when we consider it as an occurrence which has taken place before our eyes every day till we have ceased to regard it, becomes a portion of the deep mystery of life which lies around us—a miracle, when we endeavour to trace its cause and find ourselves baffled in the attempt to discover the principle, that has given utterance to the fact. A criminal placed at the bar is the most ordinary of events in the life of the gaolers, the turnkeys, the judges, and the lawyers, who have either to defend or prosecute him—it is the staple of their life—their very means of existence grow out of the fact of men being brought to judgment for the crimes they have committed; they are become matters of business, matters of course, in which the only note-worthy point is the acuteness and dexterity by which they have been discovered and placed at the bar; and yet the community at large feels an intense curiosity to learn details of the former life, habits, and environments of criminals, whose deeds have obtained any notoriety; provided their crimes have not arisen from an impulse of insanity, which is a moral outlawry from fellow-feeling. A criminal, standing at the bar, belongs to men, and yet is of a different order; he has made an experience, which few of those who are listening to his trial dare to think on. He has realised what that thing is which men call CRIME,-MURDER, RAPE, INCEst, are only words to the generality of men; they do not realise them as actual things, until they are resolved into the hard, crushing fact of a DEED committed ; –then all men feel a horrified eagerness to see the shape those things take when incarnated in one of our own brotherhood. He is a connecting link between each one in that assembly and the sin of which he stands accused ; and none can defend himself against the fear, the horrible possibility, that the accused thing may enter into him too, and make him what he is now beholding. So long as we read of crime in sermons and moral essays, it does not tempt us; we feel as if we were separated by a deep and well-defined gulf, fixed between us and all that sort of thing ; but the actual sight of a criminal sends a spasm of terror through our