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A LEGEND OF THE AMERICAN WAR.
Incorrupta Fides nudaque Veritas,
Quando ullum invenient parem ?"-HOR.
ALL lovers of Old England's fame know how the Yankee Chesapeake
Was pummelled by our Shannon, whence they bear us yet, I guess,' a pique; But listen, for a naval tale I'm now about to handle,
To which that famed engagement is not fit to hold the candle !
Last war a Yankee cruiser once, amid the darkness visible'
He hailed her thrice, he fired a gun, and several times successively,
Says he, 'Confound their impudence, we'll speak a little louder then!
A shotted gun he forthwith fired, to try if that would bring her to;
Though three long hours the contest raged with wonderful ferocity,
At length, when all his masts were gone, and half his crew disabled,
'I've put my foot in't, that's a fact,' says he; and, though unwillingly,
He struck his flag, and hailed the foe, to tell him he had had enough;
And when the morning breeze sprang up, and cleared the fog and smoke away,
A mighty Iceberg met his view, in most imposing attitude,
A sight, as navigators tell, quite common in that latitude,
Our Yankee, who'd commenced the fight, and rather to be donnish meant,
If he did not look tarnation streaked, and foolish, it's a pity!!!
Qui capit, ille facit.
This tale a warning may afford to geniuses polemical,
Lest haply, after wasting years in penning tomes voluminous,
Oxford, 24th March, 1840.
A. R. W.
THE MORAL ECONOMY OF LARGE TOWNS.
BY DR. W. C. TAYLOR.
If the great patron saints of the extremes of this metropolis, St. Giles and St. James, met to compare notes, they would discover several analogies between the localities over which they preside, less fanciful than those on which the saints of Clapham rest their interpretations of the Apocalypse. A Queen rules in the one, a number of queans hold divided empire in the other. The court of St. James exacts homage from the remote quarters of the world; the courts of St. Giles levy tolls on all the districts between Tyburn and Execution.Dock; the knights and heroes of St. James are rewarded with pensions, those of St. Giles with suspensions; both have numbers of idle followers, who must be boarded and lodged at the public expense; both levy contributions on the City and wise men of the East; but, as Mrs. Malaprop says, "comparisons are odorous," and, if they were not so, they would not suit the localities of St. Giles; and so we shall only add, that the great celebrity of both dates from the accession of the Hanoverian dynasty.
Every body knows that the beauties and wonders contained in the localities under the presidency of St. James are, for the most part, internal, that the exteriors of the edifices have no form or comeliness, and that those buildings which most merit notice are hid in labyrinths and mazes, only to be found by a stranger when aided by an intelligent guide. Her Majesty, for instance, has two palaces; the older marvellously resembling a decayed hospital, and the newer not quite so good-looking as an Irish barrack, but within them the gorgeous dreams of Oriental magnificence are more than realised in the display of wealth, art, and loveliness. Sutherland House can only be reached through a stable-yard; and the older part of PallMall reminds one of an architectural gaol-delivery, when ragamuf fins and dandies-"breakers and swells," as they are technically called, are let loose together upon the country. Carlton Terrace may indeed be quoted as an exception; but to say nothing of the column on which the Duke of York has been placed to keep him out of the reach of his creditors, no one can look down Waterloo Place without admiring the ingenuity that has cut down, or rather cut up, the trees of the Park into scrubby tufts of bushes, and travestied the towers of Westminster Abbey into a couple of ugly sentry boxes. In short, the characteristics of the kingdom of St. James are not to be discovered without time and trouble; and those of St. Giles equally require the toil of investigation.
There is a passage between Oxford-Street and Holborn, called Broad-Street, where it is inconveniently narrow, and High-Street in the part where it is low and flat. Where the high and the broad streets join stands the church of St. Giles in the Fields, so named because the space around is more crowded with houses, and more densely populated than any other part of the metropolis. The burial-ground surrounding the church encroaches very awkwardly on
the street, for it is an established rule that the repose of the dead is infinitely more important than the repose of the living. This burial-ground is very densely tenanted; the opening of every new grave sensibly affects the atmosphere to a considerable distance, and hence the vicinity is rarely without cases of malignant fever. Nobody looks upon this as an evil, for apothecaries' apprentices could never qualify as general practitioners if they had not opportunities for acquiring experience; and a glance at the multitude of undertakers that have shops in the vicinity is sufficient to show that burial-restriction, like bank-restriction, might seriously affect the commerce of the country. Of course there are vaults under the church, with sufficient provision for poisoning the congregation; because many people, like " the old woman of Berkeley," look out for unpleasant visiters in the grave, and deem that they can only be safe within the walls and gates of the Church. This privilege of sanctuary is rather inconvenient; the air of these tenanted churches is apt to generate a cough which leads to a coffin, and the clergyman doomed to preach in them finds that he has been inducted to a dying instead of a living.
The passenger who journeys from Oxford-Street towards the city may observe on his left certain narrow passages, facetiously denomi nated streets, but more appropriately called "rookeries" by the denizens and natives; one of these, "The Rookery" par excellence, is protected in front by posts and bars, designed in old times to mark out the hallowed region
"Where no bailiff, dun or setter,
The posts of St. Giles, like those of St. James, are rarely unoccu pied, and in both cases are objects of ambition to the children of the courtiers. Until very lately the precincts, like the Civil List, were studiously shrouded from public view, but the New Police have enacted the part of Daniel Whittle Harvey, and laid bare the interior economy. The first glance down the Rookery reveals in all weathers a goodly selection of sheets, blankets, and nondescript fragments of linen, waving from poles and lines which project and cross out of the upper windows. Sailors say that the industrious washerwomen often find it as hard to reach the poles as Captain Parry himself, and that "crossing the line" is not less perilous to them than to East-Indian griffins. Two senses, seeing and smelling, will for a time afford sufficient occupation to the passenger: if he remains long enough, that of hearing will be called into play by such sounds as assailed the ears of Æneas when he visited the infernal regions.
"Continuò auditæ voces, vagitus et ingens,
Which has been thus rendered by Father Prout :
A concert appalling,
Of squalling and bawling,
The passengers meet
In fact, the ground looks as if it had actually rained children,-a far more formidable phenomenon than the showers of cats and dogs with which we are sometimes threatened. If you attempted to go down the court, you would be ancle-deep in infants at every step; they wallow about in the puddles, like Pharaoh's frogs during the Egyptian plagues; and at every step you would peril the existence of one of O'Connell's "seven millions of the finest peasantry on the face of the earth." However, if you want to see the wonders of the place, you must make a bold venture, treading lightly, like a donkey amongst a brood of goslings, or an elephant dancing amongst chickens. The first observation you will make is that the denizens keep open house, some, perhaps, have no doors; others, certainly, have very obstinate hinges; all are hospitably unclosed, intimating that "dry lodgings" may be had inside; that is to say, lodgings in which, however moistened the outer man may be, he has no chance of getting heavy wet" for his inside. It is not an easy matter for a decent-looking man to get access to the interior of these domiciles; he may be mistaken for a parson, an overseer, or an attorney, and receive a practical comment on the perplexing description of "lapidary showers" in the Agamemnon of Eschylus, which has so sorely puzzled translators and commentators. Your safety lies in passing yourself for a railroad contractor in search of Pat Mulcahy, Tim O'Regan, or Jack Murphy, of whose exploits as excavators you have heard such wondrous accounts that you are resolved to have their services at any price. Whether persons rejoicing in such names reside there or not, you will be sent from house to house and room to room of this human hive, until you can form a tolerable estimate of its population, which you will find to average between a dozen and a score to most of the rooms, exceeding, however, the highest number in the places used as rope lodgings," a term you will find explained in Pickwick. Having once surveyed the density of the population, you will cease to be surprised at finding the court paved with children; in fact, their parents have nowhere else to keep them, and hence the importance of the barricades at the entrance of the court. St. Giles and St. James equally provide posts for younger children, but those of the former are more frequently brought to the bar than those of the latter.
There is plenty of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth among the young fry, but there is very little of smiling or laughing in any of the groups. It is true that sometimes,
Regardless of their doom
but the space is too limited for such exertions; for the most part they lie listlessly on the ground, or crawl at a snail pace from one door to another. There are some among them who have passed the age of childhood, and are almost youths. Inquire their history. They were found destitute of work or play by some of the contractors for supplying pocket-handkerchiefs to the honest traders of Field-Lane, people well acquainted with the value of a new face, not yet familiar to the police. They were promised pleasure and
excitement, in the shape of gin, tobacco, or a visit to some of the lower places of public amusement; they yielded to the temptation, and they are now lads of promise, who will prevent degeneracy in that very valuable class of society, the thieves of the Metropolis. We might, perhaps, have said the most valuable class, seeing that it is the only one honoured with any attention by the legislature.
After having finished your travels through this region, you may cross High-Street, and examine many similar dens between St. Giles's Church and the Seven Dials, and thence round in the direction of Soho-Square. You will find a great sameness at first, but you will soon observe that the proportion of females is rather greater in the southern direction. At some future time you may be invited to investigate this problem, but at present you are just arrived at the solution of a different problem, the cause of the great amount of juvenile delinquency in the Metropolis. You have seen one of the national nurseries or seminaries for forcing forward thieves like young plants in a hot-bed; and if you are a hunter out of analogies, you will observe that the seminary and the hot-bed rest on the same stratum. If you love to make bad puns,-a folly against which you are hereby solemnly and affectionately warned,-you may say with the market-gardener "dung renders the growth stable."
"Idleness," says the proverb, "is the root of all evil ;" but the correctives for idleness are not alone books and work,-harmless play is just as useful, and ten times more effectual. It would be advantageous to send these neglected children to school; but what are they to do when school is over? The reader, who in his imagination has made a courtly tour under our guidance, must have discovered that these children have a greater want than a school-they want a home. Their parents could not, if they would, confine them in the hives where they sleep, during the day-time; they must let them run in the open air, exposed to all the contamination and seduction by which they are surrounded.
It is a gross error to suppose that the depravity of parents in all, or even in most cases, is the cause of criminality in children. The fact cannot be too strongly stated, that the Fagins of the Metropolis seek invariably the children of honest parents, because they believe that such will be most faithful to their infamous employers. An Oliver Twist is a much more valuable acquisition than a Noah Claypole. We have prohibited marbles, hoops, and tops; the game of foot-ball is only known by remote tradition; and the flying of kites, instead of being the sport of the young, is the trade of the aged. We have consequently enforced idleness by act of Parliament; and having thus planted the root, we are astonished at the growth of the evil. It would be well if legislators would remember that for every innocent amusement taken away, a direct incentive to guilty employment is supplied,
"Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do ;"
and the efforts of many well-meaning people are directed to procure idle hands for Satan. There would be less crime in the world if there was more sport in it.
The tales of juvenile depravity which are commonly circulated give a very faint notion of its fearful amount. The youthful ima