Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - Gaslight and Daylight, by George Augustus Sala, 1859 - Chapter 34 - Where are they?

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I HAVE no desire to trench on the province or interfere with the circulation of the numerous compendious little works, the authors of which are so desirous to know Who’s Who? What’s What? or Which is Which? in eighteen hundred and fifty- three, four, five, or nine. I hope that the result of their inquiries will be eminently satisfactory to them; and that they will allow me to confine myself to the speculative query, ‘Where are they?’
Yes; where are they? ‘Whom?’ you may ask. I answer—People. People who do and are doing the most extra­ordinary things around us daily and hourly; but with whom, our whole life long, we seem forbidden to come in contact, and regarding whose whereabouts we must needs be perpetually perplexed. They must be somewhere, these People, yet we never saw them, never shall see them, perhaps; we may have sate next them at dinner yesterday, ridden in the same omnibus, occupied the next seat in the pit, the same pew at church, jostled against them in the City, five minutes ago, [-391-] yet we are no wiser, and must ramble up and down the world till our span be accomplished, and our ramblings ended, still bootlessly repeating the query, ‘Where are they?’
A chief cause for our distressing uncertainty as to where the people we are in search of are to be found, lies in the disagreeable uniformity of costume prevalent in the present day. We are worse off than were we placed as observers in some savage country where the inhabitants wore no clothes at all; for there, at least, the Chief might be recognised by the extra quantity of paint he adorned himself with; and we might in time become sufficiently initiated in the mysteries of tattoo to tell the Medicine man from the Peon, the young Warrior from the Old Brave. But may I ask how are we to tell any one man from another (our own immediate acquaintances excepted) by his dress alone. The millionnaire may be walking past us in an intense state of shabbiness, and the spendthrift may hustle us half into the gutter in all the bravery of ‘heavy-swelldom,’ cane and jewellery. There is a Judge, I have heard, who dresses like the frequenter of race-courses; I have had pointed out to me a Peer of the Realm whom I should have taken for a waiter at a City chop-house; and I know an actor—a very humorous and jocular comedian indeed—who looks like a professed member of the Society of Jesuits. Really, what with the moustache movement, the beard movement, the detective police, the cheap clothing establishments, the shirt-collar mania, the introduction and wearing. by peaceful business every-day men, of the wildest and most incongruously picturesque garments—such as ponchos, togas, vicunas, siphonias, Inverness wrappers, &c.—nobody knows who or what anybody else is; and the father may go searching for his children, and the child for his parent, and the wife for her husband, all echoing and re-echoing, like Montaigne with his Que-sais-je ?—the one frivolous and vexatious, yet recondite interrogation, ‘Where are they?’
Of course the public enunciation of this demand will lead to the reception of some tons of letters by Messrs. Chapman and Hall, from parties anxious to give full information of 'where' they are. They will be astonished that I have been so long ignorant of their whereabouts; and my ‘Where are they?’ will be quite swamped and put to shame by a chorus of ‘We are here; we are there; we are everywhere.’ None will abstain from communicating their local habitations and names save those who have some strong private and personal [-392-] reasons for keeping it a dead secret, where they are at all. Meanwhile, pending the communicativeness of the one class, and the reticence of the other, where are they all, nevertheless?
Where, for instance, are the vast majority of the advertisers and the people that are advertised for? and, more than that, what sort of people can they be? The ‘Times’ is full of such subjects for speculation; and I dare say the clerks who receive the advertisements themselves, and the compositors who set them up, and the press-readers who revise them, often pause in the midst of their task to wonder where the seekers and the sought may be. Where is the ‘gentleman who witnessed the brutal assault’ on the other gentleman getting out of a Chelsea omnibus on Tuesday the twenty-second instant, and who would confer an inestimable favour if he would look in at No. 3, Muggleston Street, Pimlico? he ever confer this inestimable favour, this gentleman? Alas, we may search the reports of the police courts and the Middlesex Sessions for months, years, and find no sign of him! The assaulter and the assaulted, the lawyers and the witnesses, may all have settled their little business long since. Lawyers may have been instructed; and they in their turn may have instructed counsel, costs may have been incurred, charged, taxed, paid, not paid, sued for; the aggrieved party may at tills very moment be expiating his rash desire to obtain justice, in Whitecross Street or the Queen’s Bench; the villain who committed the gross assault may be coolly puffing his cigar on the deck of the ‘Lively Dolphin,’ bound for Melbourne; the gentleman who witnessed the affray may be (without the slightest cognizance of the other’s propinquity) sailing with him on the salt sea, or in another ship on the same sea, twin cherries on one stalk of coral for a shark to gnaw, or lying near him at the bottom of the sea itself; the lawyers may be dead, their daughters dowered with, or their sons spending, the Costs; the Pimlico omnibus may be broken to pieces or burnt, or we may be hailing it at this very moment. The affair may have taken all, or any, or none of these turns. How do we know? what do we know? Nothing! And we have not even a definite knowledge of ‘nothing ‘—nothingness—the néant even. What is nothing? Is it not a —? but soft. Where is the party who called on Messrs. Ruggles and Fuggles in the course of last September, and who is requested to call again? What did he call for? Was it to tell Ruggles [-393-] that he was his long-lost son, supposed to have gone down with all hands on board the ‘Chowder-Ally,’ outward-bound East Indiaman, twenty years ago? Was it to ask Ruggies and Fuggles if they had heard anything of his (whose?) long-lost daughter, supposed to have gone down with all hands in the ‘Mango,’ homeward-bound West-Indiaman, ten years since? Was it merely to pull Ruggles’s nose or to call Fuggles a liar; and do Ruggies and Fuggles desire to see him again in order to serve him with a notice of action, or to confess that the were in the wrong, and tender him the hand of reconciliation; or to ask him to dinner, commend a poisoned chalice to his lips, present him with a service of plate, or smite him beneath the fifth rib? Where is he, finally? Reading the ‘Times’ at this very moment, perhaps, and in his anxiety to learn the latest news from the East, deliberately skipping the advertisements; troubled with a short memory, maybe, and with the paragraph beneath his eyes, quite forgetting Ruggles and Fuggles’s names, and that he ever called on them at all; or, fully mindful of his September visit, but determined to see Ruggles and friend at Jeddo, in Japan, before he trusts himself within twenty miles of their house again. Perhaps, my dear reader, you may be the party who called, and when this meets your eye, will rush off to Ruggles’s incontinent, or to Peele’s Coffee-house, to consult the files of the ‘Times’ for the date of the advertisement—or without a moment’s delay, will proceed to put the breadth of the British Channel—nay, the Atlantic —nay, the Southern Pacific Ocean—between Ruggles, Fuggles, and yourself.
Where are the ‘descendants (if any) of Jean Baptiste Pierre Jouvin, who was supposed to have been a French Huguenot refugee in London, about the year sixteen hundred and eighty?’ Wherever can the individual be, who seeks to find out descendants from so remote a stock? Is he Methusaleh, Sir Barnard Burke, the wandering Jew, Isaac Laquedem, or the laborious historian of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes seeking to verify some document, to elicit some fact, to authenticate some date? Or is there perchance some Jouvin yet alive, a Protestant and a Frenchman, anxious to learn tidings of his old Huguenot ancestor—a rich Jouvin, a pious Jouvin, a kindly Jouvin, yearning to share his riches and his love with some one bearing his name, and descended from the race that suffered pro Fide in the bad days of old? Or does the advertisement [-394-] emanate —dreadful thought !—from some wily Jesuit, or fierce Inquisitor’s great grandson cherishing ancestral bigotry and traditional hatred—actuated by fanatical hostility towards Huguenotisin in general and Jouvin in particular, and thirsting to decoy him into some private Inquisition, there to torture him on a private rack or burn him at a private stake. Where are the descendants (if any) of J. B. P. Jouvin? Have they kept their father’s name, and Faith, and trade, and do they yet ply the shuttle and weave the rich silks in gloomy Spitalfields? Uncertainty, uncertainty! There may be Jouvins yet, but they may have re-emigrated—degenerated— their very name may have become corrupted. One may be by this time an Irishman—say Father O’Jowler, consigning (in oratory) Protestants to torment, and on the little steps of his little altar fiercely denouncing the British Government, the Saxon race, and the theory of the earth’s movement. One Jouvin may have emigrated to America, and in process of time transmuted himself into Colonel Gracchus Juvvins, that fierce pro-slavery Senator and (prior to his bankruptcy and ‘absquatulation’ from the State of New York) ardent Free Soiler. There may be descendants of Jouvin in England, debased into Joggins, and, all unconscious that their ancestors were silk-weavers in Spitalfields, he keeping coal and potato-sheds in Whitechapel.
Where on earth are the people who send conscience-money to the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Did you ever personally know any one who so sent cash or halves of bank notes to Downing Street? Who takes the conscience-money in—the hall-porter, a money-taking clerk specially appointed for the purpose? Does the hall-porter wink? does the clerk lay his finger to his nose as the conscientious anonymous thrusts the precious envelope into their hand, and rushes through the rubbish into Fludyer Street—or is the conscience-money all sent by post? Can you point out to me one single gentleman with a white waistcoat, a broad-brimmed hat, and a watch and seals, and say—’ There goes T. J., or L. B., who sent the Chancellor of the Exchequer fifty pounds yesterday on account of taxes unpaid?’ Yet these men making restitution must be somewhere or other. What are they like? I have a fanciful theory—founded on what basis I am, I confess, quite at a loss to tell—that the majority of these men troubled with a conscience are men with white waistcoats, broad-brimmed hats, watches and seals; further-[-395-]more, that they all wear low shoes, and take snuff from massive golden boxes. They are all immensely rich, of course; and the conscience-dockets in their cheque-books are mingled with numerous others relating to donations to charitable institutions, police-court poor-boxes, and cases of real distress. I can fancy the entries in their diaries running somewhat thus: ‘Attended board-meeting of orphan sympathisers at noon; relieved the destitute at half-past twelve; gave away soup-tickets at one; flannels and coals at two; drew cheque for fifty pounds, and enclosed it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as conscience-money at three.’ I wonder how long after they have defrauded the revenue to any considerable extent their conscience begins to prick them, and how long they battle with conscience, and hocuss him, and smother him, and refuse to listen to his still small voice. I wonder when it is they ate at last persuaded to make restitution, and how they do it—whether with the ineffable felicity of well-doing, or with the uneasy satisfaction of atoning by a partial disgorgement for a grievous roguery, or with the tremour of detection, or the sullenness of self-reproach, or the horror of despair. Are the conscience-money senders, after all, not the white-waistcoated, low-shoed men I have figured to myself, but hard, stern, gaunt, grisly lawyers, bill-discounters, bailiffs to great landlords, speculators, guardians, committee men, trustees, and the like? Are they suddenly overtaken with such a sharp and quick remorse for the injuries they have inflicted on those over whom they have power, or who have trusted in them, for the widows they have been hard upon, and the orphans whose noses they have ground, that in sheer tremour and agony of mind they with their trembling hands adjust the salves of gold and plasters of bank-notes to the hidden sores of their hearts, and in a ‘desperate hurry send tens and twenties and fifties all over the country; this to the widows’ almshouse and this to the orphan’s asylum; this to the water company for unpaid water-rate; this to the gas company for the falsified meter; this to the railway company for having travelled in first-class carriages with second-class tickets, or exceeded the allowed quantify of luggage, or smoked in defiance of the bye-laws; this to the Exchequer in part compensation of the abused commissioners and defrauded collectors of income-tax? Whether I am at all right or all wrong in these surmisings, I imagine the payments of conscience-money are generally [-396-] payments on account—on very small account—of the sums due to individuals or to Government. I think if I had ten thousand a year, and a great many shares in a great many mines and railways, all purchased at a considerable discount, and all quoted, now, at a considerable premium; if I had a large house and many servants, and my aunt in Somersetshire had disinherited my disreputable brother Bob in my favour; if my brother Ned’s children (he failed, poor fellow, shortly after I retired from the firm) were in a charity-school, and Ned’s widow (her dowry started us in business) taking in needlework,—if my last little ventures in slaves in Cuba, and Brummagen guns in Caffraria, and bowie-knives in Arkansas, and rum, brandy, and abdominous idols on the Guinea coast had all been very successful,—I think, now and then, when I had begun to think that I was getting old, and that I had been a hard man, or that I had the gout, or a fit of indigestion, or the blues,—that I could send the halves of a few notes to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as conscience-money :—reading the announcement of the enclosure in the next morning’s ‘Times’ would help down my tea and toast a little. I think, too, that I should like to see my name in a few subscribers’ lists, and committee lists, and stewards for public dinner lists.
Where are the people who advertise children’s cauls for sale? And where, more difficult to find still, are the people who buy them—ay, and give ten guineas for them? It has occurred to me, sometimes, wandering through London, to lose my way, and in some unknown street in some little known neighbourhood to come suddenly upon a dingy shop, in the window of which was the announcement: ‘A child’a caul to be sold here.’ But I never had courage to enter. I never had courage to ask to inspect the weird article, possessing, according to popular superstition, more occultly nautical powers than the famed egg-shells in which, unless broken by the cautious egg-spoon at the morning breakfast-table, the unholy witches sail about in yachting expeditions on their hideous sabbath. I had never the courage to wait till the unknown customer with the ten guineas arrived. He does arrive, I believe, to this day; but where he is I know not, neither where are the cauls or the children that are born with them. I wasn’t born with a caul. The places where they are on sale are published in the advertisement, but don’t believe that the original proprietors of the cauls come from [-397-] or live there. The only place where I could imagine a child’s caul to he indigenous, would be at a herbalist’s, than which, with the solitary exception of a ladies’ second-hand warehouse, I do not know a more mysterious and cloudy establishment.
There are two classes who, though their whereabouts is wrapped in much mystery, I am not very curious about. These are the writers of the cypher or puzzle advertisements, commencing somewhat in this style:-
And secondly, the monogrammatical advertisers: the ‘Pick­ackifaxes,’ ‘Boot-jacks,’ ‘No hearth-rug,’ ‘How about X.?’ and gentlemen adopting that style of literature. I don’t think that much good would result to us or to anybody if we knew where those worthies were. Besides, they, and the makers of appointments, and the sayers of soft sayings and the talkers of drivelling nonsense in a newspaper, with forty thousand subscribers, and goodness knows how many million readers, enter into the category I mean to descant upon some of these days when I ask, Where are the Donkeys that are not on Hampstead Heath, Brighton Cliff, Smithfield Monday Market—not in costermongers’ shallow broom-carts, or the Pound?
Where are all the ‘perpetual commissioners for witnessing the deeds to be executed by married women?’ The Lord Chancellor is as perpetually appointing them; they have all curious names and addresses; but where are they? I never saw a perpetual commissioner; I never knew a married woman who was doomed to go through the awful ordeal of executing a deed and having it witnessed by one of these dread beings. Are they perpetually sitting, these commissioners? Do they never leave off witnessing the deeds I never saw? There is one Hugh Harmer Hollowpenny, dwelling at Bettwys-y-boyd, in Wales. Fancy a commissioner having to sit perpetually at Bettwys-y-boyd, to witness the execution of the deeds never, under any circumstances whatever, executed by the married women of that ilk!
Where are three-fourths of the barristers who are called to the bar? Do they practise; do they earn anything; does anybody ever see anything of them? Are they born barristers of seven years’ standing: or how do they like standing so long?
The gentlemen who have commissions signed by the Lord-[-398-]Lieutenant, where are they? Where is the Court of Lieutenancy of London, and who belongs to it? I have seen a deputy-lieutenant at a levee, but I want to know where he is when he is at home; what he is lieutenant over, and why, and all about it?
I don’t care where the dissolute Initials are. My private opinion is, that if they are foolish enough to run away from home, their parents are well rid of them. I have more curiosity to know whore the people are who are to call in Bedford Row or Southampton Buildings, or Lincoln’s Inn, in order that they may hear something to their advantage. If wonder what it is! My curiosity is checked by the knowledge that it will not be by any means to my advantage to find out; yet selfishness notwithstanding, I can’t give up reading this portion of the ‘Times’ every morning, lest there should be by chance a stray notice hinting that a call on my part somewhere in the neighbourhood of the inns of court would be advantageous to me, or that there are some odd thousands of unclaimed stock or hundreds of unclaimed dividends standing in my name in the books of the Bank of England.
Where are the cases of real distress,—the people who write the appeals to the benevolent,—the daughters of beneficed clergymen,—the widows of distinguished officers? I should like to know how many of these cases are indeed in real distress, and how many are as near as first cousins to the honour- able society of begging-letter writers.
Where are the ‘Lord Mayor’s swordbearer’s young man,’ and the ‘Lord Mayor’s trumpeter’s young man,’ and the ‘water-bailiff’s young man,’ when not officially engaged, and what are they like when not officially clothed? I wonder whether I ever dined at Greenwich with the water-bailiff’s young man. Where are the yeomen of the guard, and the marshalmen, and the sergeant trumpeters, and the pursuivants­at-arms, when there are no coronation or marriage processions, no openings of the house, no state visits to the Opera. Do they wear in private life those resplendent crimson and gold doublets, those symmetrical trunk hose, those historical but hideous little hats with the red and white roses ?* [* Of even this costume, as worn at least by the Tower Yeomen, the question may now be asked ‘Where is it?’ Time edux rerum, has shouldered the doublet from Tower Hill, and the Beefeaters’ dress will soon be reckoned altogether, I fear, among Things departed.’] Where are [-399-] they? Where are the innumerable mourning-coaches in long clothes that followed the Duke of Wellington’s funeral? If there were another state funeral, would they come out again?
Where are all the thousands of Ladies of Glasgow, Abstainers of Lambeth, and Members of the Primitive Church of Bermondsey, who sign their so many thousand names to petitions for the redress of almost every imaginable worldly grievance, laid on the tables of the Houses of’ Parliament almost every night in the session? Where are the people who get up those petitions, and the people who write them? And tell me, oh tell me more than all, where are those petitions themselves at this present time?
Where are they? And who answers where? And where, by-the-by, are all the echoes that have been perpetually answering where, ever since people began to make frothy speeches? Where, again, are the people who read frothy speeches when they are made and reported? Where are the ‘perhaps too partial friends’ who have persuaded so many authors to publish? Did they know what they were at when they took those courses? Where are nine-tenths of the books so persuaded into existence? Do the friends read them until they are all imbecile together? Where is the Blank, this — who has been the subject of all those verses? What does Blank think of them? Is he as tired of them as I am, or as you are of me?
Still, where are they? Where are, or is, that noun of multitude signifying many, the Public? What sort of a public is it ? Is it the ‘enlightened British,’ the ‘ impatient-of-taxation,’ the ‘generous,’ the ‘impartial,’ the ‘discriminating,’ the ‘indignant,’ the ‘exacting,’ the ‘ungrateful?’ Have these publics any consanguinity with the ‘many-headed monster,’ the ‘mob,’ the ‘swinish multitude,’ the ‘masses,’ the ‘populace,’ the ‘million?’ Has this public anything to do with the Republic, and how much? Is this the public which has so loud a Voice, and so strong an Opinion upon public topics, and a Public Service for the advantage of which all our statesmen are so particularly anxious? Where is this highly­favoured, highly-privileged much-cared-for, much belauded, much abused, always talked of, never seen public? I observe that it is never present when it is the subject of a joke at the theatre; which is always perceived to be a hit at some other public richly deserving it, and not present. Is the public composed of the two or three thousand weak-minded individuals [-400-] who take Billierson’s Liver Pills, and Muley Moloch’s Treasures of the Oasis, and Timour the Tartar’s Medicated Cream? Are the people who read the Reverend Boanerges Bluderbuss’s Wickedness of Washing proved by Prophecy the public? Is it the public that believes in the Mission, and Divinity, and Angelic Nature of Thomas Towser, ex-shoemaker and prophet, who renounces cleanliness and predicts the speedy destruction of the world and the advent of the Millenium every Thursday and every Sunday throughout the year, at the east end of London?
I should like to be informed, if you have no objection, where are the rogues who put red lead into my cayenne pepper, Venetian red, fuller’s earth, and bad starch into my cocoa; chicory, burnt beans, and chopped hay into my coffee; Prussian blue, gummed and varnished sloe-leaves, emerald green, and bits of birch brooms in my tea; chalk, water, calves’ and horses’ brains into my milk; alum, gypsum, and dead men’s bones into my bread; sand and clay into my sugar; cabbage­leaves, lettuce-leaves, hay, and brown paper into my tobacco and cigars; glass into my snuff; devil’s dust, rotten thread, and evil odours into my clothes; cotton into my silk handker­chiefs; cast iron into my razors; charcoal into my lead pencils; bad brandy, sloe-juice, and logwood into my port wine; turpentine, mastic, and water into my gin; pyroligneous and oxalic acids into my pickle jar; ground sealing-wax and pounded sprats into my anchovy sauce; treacle, salt, cocculus indicus, and laudanum into my porter; dogs, cats, and horses into my sausages; and drowned puppies and kittens into my mutton pies. Where are they, the great tribe of Adulterators? —the scoundrels who put villanous nastinesses into wholesome food? Mr. Accum may have warned us that there is ‘death in the pot;’ the ‘Lancet ‘ may have sent forth its commissioners to analyse samples of teas and sugars; a miscreant may be detected once in four years or so, filling up cases of preserved meat with the vilest offal, and neatly packing the interior of forage trusses of hay with shavings, stones, and dead lambs; these hang-dogs—who have in their muderous frauds endeavoured to send out death and disease with the fleets and armies of England—may have their names gibbeted (in a quiet, gentlemanly manner) once or twice in a session during a languid debate in the golden House of Lords ;—but where are they? There is another public whose whereabout I am exceedingly anxious to find out,—the virtuously ‘indignant’ [-401-] public,—the public that applauds so vehemently in the galleries of criminal courts,—that ‘with difficulty are restrained from tearing to pieces’ notorious criminals, on their emerging from Bow Street after their examination and committal for trial. Now, nothing would please me so much as to introduce this public, the virtuous and indignant public, to the villanous and adulterating public; and ‘gin a public meet a public putting red lead into pepper, or sloe-leaves into tea, or offal into hay—and ‘gin a public beat a public, and kick a public, and pelt a public, it seems to me that the two publics would be very appropriately brought together.
Where are the people who ‘go about saying things?’ I never go about saying things about other people; yet other people are always going about saying things about me. They say (I merely adduce myself as an embodiment of Anybody) that I have a wife alive in Bermuda, and that I ill-treat the Mrs. Present Writer, alive and resident with me in England, dreadfully. They say I don’t pay my rent, and that I have invested fifty-five thousand pounds in the French funds. They say that my plate is all pawned, and that bailiffs in livery wait at my table. They say that I am about to invade England with ninety thousand men next week; and that I was here, disguised as a Lascar crossing-sweeper, last Tuesday, reconnoitring. They say I have taken to drinking; that I can’t paint any more pictures; that I have written myself out; that I lost four thousand pounds on the last Chester Cup; that I have exercised a sinister influence over the foreign policy of the country, opened despatch-boxes, and tampered with despatches. They say I eat an ounce and a half of opium every day, and that Blims wrote my last pamphlet on Electoral Reform. They say I am about to become lessee of Her Majesty’s Theatre; that I set my house on fire ten years ago; that I am the ‘Septimus Brown’ who was taken into custody in the last gambling-house razzia; that I have shares in the Turkish loan, and the Russian railways; that I have presented a gold snuff-box to the ex-beadle of St. Clement Danes; that I murdered my aunt, my cousin, and my brother-in-law years before the commission of the crime for which I am now condemned to death; that I am an atheist; that I am a Jesuit; that my father was hanged; that I am illicitly related to royalty; that I am to be the new governor of Yellow Jack Island; and that I cut Thistlewood’s head off. Now, where are the people who say all these things [-402-] about me, about you, about kings, queens, princes, and chandlers’-shop keepers? You don’t ‘go about’ saying such things; I don’t go about saying them; yet somebody goes about saying them. Where is your somebody and my somebody? Where are they?
Where are the Parties in the City to whom your money­lender is always obliged to apply to obtain the money he lends you? Where is the party who does not like the last name on the bill, and would prefer an additional name? Where is the Other Party, the only implacable party, who won’t hear of any delay in your being sued, sold up, and arrested? Where is the Third Party, who is always obliged to be consulted, ‘squared,’ spoken to; who always holds the bill, and won’t give it up; who was so unfortunately present when your friend wished to mention that little matter privately to the other party, and who consequently prevented its satisfactory adjustment? Where is he? I ask again, where is he? Where are they? Everybody!
Where is the ‘gentleman’ who has called for us during our absence from home; but who returns no more than the hat, umbrella, and thermometer which he is supposed to have taken from the entrance hall? Where is the gentleman for whom the silk-lined overcoat, or the patent leather boots were made, but whom they did not fit; which is the sole reason of their being offered to us at so reduced a rate? Where is that unflinching friend of the auctioneer, the gentleman who has such a number and such a variety of articles of property— from ready-furnished freehold shooting boxes, to copies of Luther’s Bible—and who is always going abroad, or is lately deceased? Where is the lady who is always relinquishing housekeeping, and is so strenuously anxious to recommend her late cook or housekeeper? Whereabouts, I wonder, are the two pounds per week which can with facility be realised by painting on papier-mâché, or by ornamental leather-work? or by the accomplishment easy of acquirement and ‘connected with the Crystal Palace?’ Where is the fortune that is so liberally offered for five shillings? Where are the smart young men who want a hat? Where are all the bad writers whom the professors of penmanship in six lessons are so anxious to improve? ‘Where are the fifty thousand cures warranted to have been effected by De Pompadour’s Flour of Haricoes? Where are all the wonderfully afflicted people who suffered such excruciating agonies for several years, and [-403-] were at last relieved and cured by two boxes of the pills, or two bottles of the mixture; and who order, in a postscript, four dozen of each to be sent to them immediately, for which they enclose postage stamps? Where are the gentlemen of good education, who offer five hundred thanks for Government appointments, legally transferable? Where are the other gentlemen who have the Government appointments, and do transfer them legally, and accept the thanks, and keep the inviolable secrecy which is always to be observed, and where, WHERE, I say, are the Government appointments which are ‘legally transferable’?
Where are the First-Rate Men, the Rich City Men, the Twenty Thousand Pound Men, who are sure to ‘come into’ every new project the moment it is fairly launched? Where are the buyers of all those eligible investments the partakers (for five hundred pounds down) in fortune-making patents for articles in universal demand? Whereabouts in the daily, evening, or weekly papers, am I to find the enthusiastically laudatory criticisms of new novels (such as ‘A delightful work.’ Times ‘The best novel of the day.’  Chronicle. ‘An admirable book.’ Examiner ‘Worthy of Fielding.’—Globe) appended to the booksellers’ advertisements? Where are the purchasers of the cerulean neck-ties with crimson and gold bars, the death’s-head shirts, the pea-green gloves that we see displayed in hosiers’ shops? Where are the libraries which would be incomplete without nearly all the new books criticised in the weekly papers ?—and which, of course, have got them? Where are those hereditary bondsmen, who to free themselves must strike the blow; where is the blow to be struck, and how are the bondsmen to strike it?
One question more, and I have done. Where are all the people whom we are to know some of these days? Where is the dear friend to whom, ten years hence, we shall recount what an atrocious villain our dear friend of to-day turned out to be? Where are they all hidden—the new connections we shall form, quite forgetting our present ties of blood and friendship? Where are the wives unknown, uncourted yet; the children unborn, unthought of, who are to delight or grieve us? Where are the after-years that may come, and where is all that they may, and all that we already know they must, bring?