chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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must now transport our readers back to London.
At about the same time when the events of the two
preceding chapters occurred in Castelcicala, others of a scarcely less
interesting nature took place in the great metropolis of England.
It was about three o'clock in the afternoon of one of
those dark, misty, dispiriting November days, when the sun is scarcely visible,
and sinks early to rest, that half-a-dozen fashionable gentlemen were lounging
in the bay-window of a Club-House in St. James's Street.
They were all dressed in the first style: gold chains
festooned over waistcoats of the most recent Parisian fashion; and brilliantly
polished boots, without a speck of mud upon them, showed that their owners had
not arrived at the Club on foot.
"What news in the political world, Greenwood?"
asked the Marquis of Holmesford.
"Nothing particular," answered the gentleman
appealed to. "Our party is sure to drive the Whigs out next year; and then
I shall show the independent and enlightened freemen of Rottenborough that they
will acquire some honour through the medium of their representative."
"I suppose you will do a little good for
yourself — eh, Greenwood. "asked the Honourable Augustus
Smicksmack — a lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards, and just turned
nineteen: "a baronetcy — eh, Green-wood? for that's the rumour,
"Well, I do hope that Fame for once is not
far wrong, my dear fellow," answered Mr. Greenwood.
" And I must beg of you to support my friend the
Honourable Gively Starkeley's new Game Bill, which he intends to introduce next
session," observed Lord Dunstable — a major in a crack
regiment, and whose age was probably one-and-thirty.
"A new Game Bill!" ejaculated Mr. Greenwood,
horror depicted on his countenance. "Surely your friend Starkeley cannot
mean to relax the penalties which now exist in respect to poaching?"
"Quite the reverse," answered Lord Dunstable.
"He thinks — as I think — that the present statute
is not stringent enough; and he has drawn up a bill — at least,
Rumrigg the barrister did for him — making it transportation for
life to shoot game without a license, and transportation for fifteen years for
looking at a bird or a hare with an unlawful purpose."
The Bill will receive my most unqualified
support, Dunstable," said Mr. Greenwood. "In fact, the laws cannot be
too stringent against poachers."
"Certainly not," observed Colonel Cholmondeley,
a gentleman of about three-and-thirty who was one of the group in the Club-House
window. "For my part, I consider a murderer or a highwayman to be an
estimable character in comparison with a poacher."
"Decidedly so," exclaimed Lord Dunstable.
"A murderer kills his victim — a highwayman robs a person; and
the thing is done. The Individuals murdered or plundered alone suffer. But a
poacher deprives hundreds of noblemen and gentlemen of their legitimate sport:
he preys upon the aristocracy, as it were; — and, by God I'll defend
the privileges of the aristocracy with my life!"
"Oh! certainly — certainly,"
muttered the Marquis of Holmesford, who, in consequence of swollen gums, had
been compelled to lay aside his false teeth for a few days, and was therefore
somewhat incomprehensible in his speech. "Always defend the aristocracy! The
millions, as they call themselves, are ever ready to assail us: they're
jealous of us, you see — because we have carriages and horses, and
they have not."
"And for many other reasons," observed Mr.
Greenwood. "But I always know how to serve the scurvy riff-raff. Why, it
was but the other day that some thirty or forty of the independent and
intelligent electors of Rottenborough assembled together at the Blue Lion
in their town, to address a remonstrance to me on my parliamentary conduct, and
call upon me to resign."
"And what did you do?" asked Lord Dunstable.
"Oh! I knew my men well enough: it was not the
first time they had taken this step," continued Greenwood. "My agent
down there wrote me up an account of their intentions; and I sent him
instructions how to act. The malcontents met; there was a great deal of
speechifying; and the tide flowed strong against my interests. The chairman was
about to put to the vote a Resolution condemnatory of my conduct, when the
landlord entered, and addressed the meeting in this manner: — 'Gentlemen,
Mr. Greenwood, having heard that it was your intention to assemble here this
evening, has conveyed to me his commands to serve up a little supper — poultry,
turtle, venison, and other trifles of the same kind, together with as much port
and sherry as you can drink. The supper is now ready, gentlemen: you had better
partake of it first, and continue your deliberations afterwards."'
"Capital — excellent!" exclaimed
"Glowiouth — thuperfine — bwilliant!"
cried Sir Cherry Bounce, who was one of the group. [-112-]
"Strike me — but it was uncommon
good!" observed Major Dapper, who was also present.
"Well — what followed?" demanded
"Yes, do tell us," said Mr. Smicksmack.
"Oh! the result was simple enough," continued
Greenwood. "The free and independent electors of Rottenborough adjourned to
the supper-room, gorged and drank till their senses were completely obfuscated,
and then passed a vote of confidence in their Member, one gentleman alone not
holding up his hand in its favour."
"What was the reason of that?" inquired the
Marquis of Holmesford.
"Simply because he was dead drunk under the
table," answered Greenwood. "And then this fellow had the impudence to
write a letter next day to all the newspapers to say that he alone had
remained dissentient upon principle!"
"Pwepothterouth!" loudly exclaimed Sir Cherry
"Hold your tongue, Cherry," said Major Smilax
Dapper. "You're a — "
"A what, Thmilackth?" asked the youthful
"A bore-strike me!" replied the major.
There was a general laugh at the expense of Sir Cherry
Bounce, who coloured up to the very roots of his hair.
"What's become of Harborough, does any one
know?" said Lord Dunstable, when the cachinnation was concluded.
"Gone into the country with his friend Chichester,
I believe," replied Greenwood. "Harborough and I have not spoken for a
long time; but I heard if him a little while ago."
"A dreadful thing that was about his wife,"
observed the Honourable Augustus Smicksmack.
"I don't think Harborough cared much about
it," returned Greenwood. "They had long, led a cat-and-dog kind of a
life. The moment Lady Cecilia's suicide reached the ears of Sir Rupert, who was
in France at the time, he came over to England, and sold the few things which
had belonged to his wife-her trinkets, I mean; for the house in Tavistock Square
was a ready-furnished one."
"And that he gave up, I believe?" said
"Or rather the landlord took it away from
him," answered Greenwood. "That intimacy with Reginald Tracy was a bad
business for Lady Cecilia," he continued. "But I had my suspicions of him
before the exposure took place. The fact is, I saw him at a masquerade ball one
night, at Drury Lane theatre."
"At a masquerade?" ejaculated Lord Dunstable.
"Yes. I was dressed as a Greek brigand, and he was
attired as a monk."
The sanctified scoundrel!" said Colonel
Cholmondeley, in a tone of deep indignation. "What dishonour he brought
upon the cloth! You know my brother the Archdeacon? Well, he's as jovial a
fellow as you could wish to meet. Keeps his three mistresses, his horses and
hounds, and goes to bed mellow every night of his life. But he does
"In a proper manner, to be sure," muttered the
Marquis of Holmesford. "But, by the by, Greenwood, you once admired my
"And I often think of her now, my lord," re
turned the Member of Parliament.
"I'll make you a proposal, if you like,"
continued the Marquis, grinning like an antiquated goat. "I have taken
quite a fancy to your bay mare Cleopatra."
"Yes — 'tis a beautiful bit of
horse-flesh," remarked Greenwood.
"Well — my Georgian for your bay
mare!" said the Marquis. "Is it a bargain?"
"A decided bargain," replied Greenwood.
"But how do you know that the lady will submit to
the exchange?" asked Smicksmack, with a smile.
"I feel convinced that she will offer no
objection," answered Greenwood. "It is true that every slave becomes
free when once the foot touches the soil of this country, as I once observed to
the independent electors of Rottenborough; — but I am sure that she
will wear the gold chain that I shall be delighted to throw around her."
"Well spoken, Greenwood!" cried the Marquis.
"Send the bay to my stables in the morning; and fetch away the Georgian
when you choose."
"Greenwood's the man for business," observed
Lord Dunstable. "By the by, how did the African Railroad scheme turn
"Oh! admirably," replied the capitalist.
"I cleared my ten thousand by it: so did the Marquis."
"But I lotht thwee thouthand, though — and
a pwethiouth wage I wath in," said Sir Cherry.
"Because you kept your shares too long, my dear
fellow," remarked Greenwood coolly. " No, my good woman — I
have nothing for you!"
These last words were uttered, in a loud tone, and
accompanied by a stern shake of the head, to a poor, ragged, shivering creature,
who had paused on the pavement outside to solicit alms from the aristocrats
assembled at the window.
The miserable woman cast one glance of ineffable anguish
on Mr. Greenwood, and then hurried away, overwhelmed by the savage determination
of his refusal.
"That poor wretch has been good-looking in her
time,' said Mr. Smicksmack. "Although it is nearly dark, I caught sight of
her countenance by the light of the lamp."
"And so did I," whispered Lord Dunstable to
Colonel Cholmondeley, whom he drew aside. "Do you know who that was?"
he asked in a low and somewhat hoarse tone.
"No: how the devil, should I?" said the
Captain, also sinking his voice-but simply because Dunstable did so.
"If that poor mendicant were not Lydia
Hutchinson," returned the young nobleman," I never was more mistaken
in my life. But, my God! how altered!"
And for a few moments his countenance became
"What nonsense to give way to feelings of that
kind!" whispered Cholmondeley.
"But she was once so beautiful!" said
Dunstable. "Do you remember the first time we ever met her — in
"I was thinking a deuced deal too much about
Adeline Enfield, at that time, to bother myself about Lydia
What-'s-her-name," interrupted the colonel impatiently. "Come-it's of
no use yielding to maudlin feelings of that kind. Dunstable. We are [-113-]
going to dine together presently: and if you wear that kill-joy countenance, I
shall wish you at the devil."
Then the Captain drew the young nobleman back to the
group in the window; and in a few minutes the sprightly nature of the
conversation banished from Dunstable's mind the unpleasant reminiscences which
had been temporarily excited by the sudden appearance of one whom he knew so
In the meantime that miserable female pursued her way
down St. James's Street.
The weather was cold — dreadfully cold: the
streets were damp — and she had neither shoes nor stockings!
An old cotton gown, a wretched rag of a shawl, and a
broken straw bonnet, constituted her sole attire.
Not an article of clothing had she more than those
She had parted with her under garments to obtain the
means of subsistence; not even a petticoat had she beneath that thin cotton
When she stopped for a moment to implore alms at the
Club-window, it was the first time she had ever begged. She had not recognised him
who had recognised her: but the stern countenance of Greenwood, as he refused
her a single penny from his immense wealth, had struck her with despair.
If the rich would not assist her, how could she hope for
succour from the poor!
She hurried down the street, weak and weary as she
was; — but she hurried, with a sort of shuffling pace, because she
was cold, and her feet were so benumbed that she could not feel that she had
She passed many a brilliantly lighted shop, — many
a superb Club, — many a magnificent hotel, from the underground
windows of which emanated the savoury steam of delicious viands: — she
beheld cheerful fires, roaring up the chimney. of the kitchens whence those
odours came; — but she was starving, shivering, dying, all the same!
A carriage, with arms emblasoned on the panels, and with
horses whose beauty and appointment attracted the gaze of the passengers, was
standing opposite to a splendid shawl-warehouse.
Just as the poor mendicant was passing, a tall [-114-]
footman, carrying a gold-headed cane in his hand, pushed her rudely back,
exclaiming, "Don't you see that you're in the way?"
The shivering woman cast a timid look around, and beheld
an elderly gentleman handing a lady, much younger than himself, to the carriage
The blaze of light from the shop window illuminated that
portion of the street; and as the elegantly-dressed lady turned her countenance
towards her companion, to answer some observation which be made to her, the
mendicant caught a full view of her beautiful features.
A scream escaped from the beggar's lips: then, in the
next moment, she rushed towards the door of the carriage, which the gentleman
and lady were just entering.
"Miss Enfield — Adeline!" she
"What do you want, my good woman!" cried the
voice of the nobleman — for such indeed he was.
"Miss Enfield — I — I am
starving!" answered the beggar, clinging to the door.
"Do you know her, my dear!" asked the
"I — I think she was once a teacher at
the school, where — " faltered the beautiful lady, evidently by
no means pleased at the recognition.
'Oh! a teacher!" cried the nobleman. "Ah! It's
easy to see what she has come to:" — and he draw up the
carriage window violently.
That was a signal for the coachmen to whip his horses:
the fiery animals sprang forward — the carriage moved off with a
species of jerk — the poor starving, shivering creature was thrown
upon the kerb-stone-and there she lay insensible.
In a moment she was surrounded by a crowd, that formed a
circle about her, and stood gazing on the prostrate, motionless form as if the
spectacle were very interesting, but by no means calculated to awaken
Then a huge policeman elbowed him way through the crowd,
crying " Move on here!" in a very savage tone, and crushing divers
bonnets, besides upsetting sundry small boys in his endeavour to form a passage.
But at the same moment that he reached the spot where
the poor creature was lying, a lady, about six-and-twenty years of age, and well
though by no means showily dressed, pressed through the crowd, and immediately
bestowed her attention on the mendicant female.
The lady raised the unfortunate being's head; and then,
by the light of the lamp, it was discovered that she had received a wound on the
temple, from which the blood was flowing freely.
"She must be conveyed to the hospital, if she's got
any broken bones," said the policeman; "and to the workus if she
"She shall go to neither," observed the lady
firmly: "I will take care of her until she is recovered."
"What — do you know her, mum?"
demanded the policeman.
"No — I never saw her before in my
life, to my knowledge," answered the lady. "But I cannot help feeling
for a fellow-creature. — especially one of my own sex — in
such a position."
A murmur of approbation arose amongst the crowd.
"Will you help me to convey the poor creature to
the neighbouring surgeon's?" continued the lady, addressing herself to the
officer. "See — she opens her eyes — she
moves — but, my God! how wan, how thin, how cold she is!"
The wretched woman was removed to the adjacent
establishment of a medical practitioner; and in a short time the benevolent lady
had the satisfaction of ascertaining that the wound on the poor creature's
forehead was the only injury which she had sustained by the fall.
"She is more in need of sustenance, madam, than
medicine," said the surgeon, when he had bandaged the wound. "I will
give her a glass of wine and a morsel of light food."
This humane proposal was immediately carried into
effect — the starving creature would have eaten ravenously; but the
surgeon prudently checked her; — and in a short time she was
She appeared to be about seven or eight and twenty years
of age; and possessed the remains of great personal attractions. But her dark
eyes were sunken, and their lustre was dimmed with privation: her cheeks were
hollow; and her form was little more than mere skin and bone.
The lady did not ask her if she had any friends, or any
home. Such a question would have been a superfluous mockery of one whose
appearance was sufficient to convey the sad tale of utter destitution and
"You shall come with me, my poor creature,"
whispered the lady, in a kind tone. "I know not who nor what you are; but I
am touched to the very heart by your sorrowful condition."
"Ah! madam, if you knew all — "
began the woman, bursting into tears; "if you knew — "
"I wish to know nothing now," interrupted the
lady. "It is sufficient for me that you are in distress."
The surgeon's boy was despatched for a hackney-coach,
into which the invalid was conveyed. The lady then entered it, and directed the
driver to take them to her residence, which was in Cannon Street, City.
"I have known sorrow myself," said the lady,
as they proceeded thither; "and, although, thank God! I have never
experienced the stings of poverty, I have nevertheless been forced to endure
afflictions almost as poignant."
"Ah! madam," returned the poor woman,
"such a heart as yours never ought to be tutored in the ways of
unhappiness. But, as you observe, there are other afflictions which may compare
with the stings of want!"
And the unhappy creature wept bitterly.
The lady endeavoured to console her to the best of her
ability; and even in the short conversation which passed between them during the
ride from the West End to the City, the invalid gave proofs of a superior
understanding and cultivated mind.
At length they reached Cannon Street, and stopped at a
house, the lower portion of which was a stationer's shop. The lady occupied
apartments on the first floor.
"Oh! Mrs. Chichester, how long you have been
absent!" exclaimed the mistress of the house, who opened the door. "I
really began to be alarmed — "
"Thanks for your kind consideration,"
interrupted Viola, with a smile-for the benevolent lady was none other than the
neglected and persecuted [-115-] wife of Mr.
Chichester. "I have brought home a poor creature, whom I found
insensible — dying — — in the streets; and
I request you to provide a room for her."
"Ah! my dear lady, what an excellent disposition
you possess!" exclaimed the mistress of the house.
Then she bustled about to help the invalid up stairs;
and the poor creature speedily experienced a feeling akin to happiness, when
cheered by a comfortable fire and a good meal.
Mrs. Chichester also supplied her with warm clothes; and
a night's rest made her an altered being.
On the following day she was enabled to narrate her
history, which she did in the ensuing manner.
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
| > next chapter >