too many of the hours of his married life, and had become well
known and popular. At the time of his conviction, the summer was
far advanced; it was then August; but Parliament was still
sitting, and there were sufficient club men remaining in London
to create a daily gathering at the Downing.
On the day following that on which the verdict was found, Undy
convened a special committee of the club, in order that he might
submit to it a proposition which he thought it indispensable
should come from him; so, at least, he declared. The committee
did assemble, and when Undy met it, he saw among the faces before
him not a few with whom he would willingly have dispensed.
However, he had come there to exercise his cheek; no one there
should cow him; the wig of Mr. Chaffanbrass was, at any rate,
And so he submitted his proposition. I need not trouble my
readers with the neat little speech in which it was made. Undy
was true to himself, and the speech was neat. The proposition was
this: that as he had unfortunately been the means of introducing
Mr. Alaric Tudor to the club, he considered it to be his duty to
suggest that the name of that gentleman should be struck off the
books. He then expressed his unmitigated disgust at the crime of
which Tudor had been found guilty, uttered some nice little
platitudes in the cause of virtue, and expressed a hope 'that he
might so far refer to a personal matter as to say that his
father's family would take care that the lady, whose fortune had
been the subject of the trial, should not lose one penny through
the dishonesty of her trustee.'
Oh, Undy, as high as Haman, if I could! as high as Haman! and if
not in Lombard Street, then on that open ground where Waterloo
Place bisects Pall Mall, so that all the clubs might see thee!
'He would advert,' he said, 'to one other matter, though,
perhaps, his doing so was unnecessary. It was probably known to
them all that he had been a witness at the late trial; an
iniquitous attempt had been made by the prisoner's counsel to
connect his name with the prisoner's guilt. They all too well
knew the latitude allowed to lawyers in the criminal courts, to
pay much attention to this. Had he' (Undy Scott) 'in any way
infringed the laws of his country, he was there to answer for it.
But he would go further than this, and declare that if any member
of that club doubted his probity in the matter, he was perfectly
willing to submit to such member documents which would,' &c., &c.
He finished his speech, and an awful silence reigned around him.
No enthusiastic ardour welcomed the well-loved Undy back to his
club, and comforted him after the rough usage of the unpolished
Chaffanbrass. No ten or twenty combined voices expressed, by
their clamorous negation of the last-proposed process, that their
Undy was above reproach. The eyes around looked into him with no
friendly alacrity. Undy, Undy, more cheek still, still more
cheek, or you are surely lost.
'If,' said he, in a well-assumed indignant tone of injured
innocence, 'there be any in the club who do suspect me of
anything unbecoming a gentleman in this affair, I am willing to
retire from it till the matter shall have been investigated; but
in such case I demand that the investigation be immediate.'
Oh, Undy, Undy, the supply of cheek is not bad; it is all but
unlimited; but yet it suffices thee not. 'Can there be positions
in this modern West End world of mine,' thought Undy to himself,
'in which cheek, unbounded cheek, will not suffice?' Oh, Undy,
they are rare; but still there are such, and this, unfortunately
for thee, seemeth to be one of them.
And then got up a discreet old baronet, one who moveth not often
in the affairs around him, but who, when he moveth, stirreth many
waters; a man of broad acres, and a quiet, well-assured fame
which has grown to him without his seeking it, as barnacles grow
to the stout keel when it has been long a-swimming; him, of all
men, would Undy have wished to see unconcerned with these
Not in many words, nor eloquent did Sir Thomas speak. 'He felt it
his duty,' he said, 'to second the proposal made by Mr. Scott for
removing Mr. Tudor from amongst them. He had watched this trial
with some care, and he pitied Mr. Tudor from the bottom of his
heart. He would not have thought that he could have felt so
strong a sympathy for a man convicted of dishonesty. But, Mr.
Tudor had been convicted, and he must incur the penalties of his
fault. One of these penalties must, undoubtedly, be his
banishment from this club. He therefore seconded Mr. Scott's
He then stood silent for a moment, having finished that task; but
yet he did not sit down. Why, oh, why does he not sit down? why,
O Undy, does he thus stand, looking at the surface of the table
on which he is leaning?
'And now,' he said, 'he had another proposition to make; and that
was that Mr. Undecimus Scott should also be expelled from the
club,' and having so spoken, in a voice of unusual energy, he
then sat down.
And now, Undy, you may as well pack up, and be off, without
further fuss, to Boulogne, Ostend, or some such idle Elysium,
with such money-scrapings as you may be able to collect together.
No importunity will avail thee anything against the judges and
jurymen who are now trying thee. One word from that silent old
baronet was worse to thee than all that Mr. Chaffanbrass could
say. Come! pack up; and begone.
But he was still a Member of Parliament. The Parliament, however,
was about to be dissolved, and, of course, it would be useless
for him to stand again; he, like Mr. M'Buffer had had his spell
of it, and he recognized the necessity of vanishing. He at first
thought that his life as a legislator might be allowed to come to
a natural end, that he might die as it were in his bed, without
suffering the acute pain of applying for the Chiltern Hundreds.
In this, however, he found himself wrong. The injured honour of
all the Tillietudlemites rose against him with one indignant
shout; and a rumour, a horrid rumour, of a severer fate met his
ears. He applied at once for the now coveted sinecure, - and was
refused. Her Majesty could not consent to entrust to him the
duties of the situation in question - ; and in lieu thereof the
House expelled him by its unanimous voice.
And now, indeed, it was time for him to pack and begone. He was
now liable to the vulgarest persecution from the vulgar herd; his
very tailor and bootmaker would beleaguer him, and coarse
unwashed bailiffs take him by the collar. Yes, now indeed, it was
time to be off.
And off he was. He paid one fleeting visit to my Lord at
Cauldkail Castle, collecting what little he might; another to his
honourable wife, adding some slender increase to his little
budget, and then he was off. Whither, it is needless to say - to
Hamburg perhaps, or to Ems, or the richer tables of Homburg. How
he flourished for a while with ambiguous success; how he talked
to the young English tourists of what he had done when in
Parliament, especially for the rights of married women; how he
poked his 'Honourable' card in every one's way, and lugged Lord
Gaberlunzie into all conversations; how his face became pimply
and his wardrobe seedy; and how at last his wretched life will
ooze out from him in some dark corner, like the filthy juice of a
decayed fungus which makes hideous the hidden wall on which it
bursts, all this is unnecessary more particularly to describe. He
is probably still living, and those who desire his acquaintance
will find him creeping round some gambling table, and trying to
look as though he had in his pocket ample means to secure those
hoards of money which men are so listlessly raking about. From
our view he has now vanished.
It was a bitter February morning, when two cabs stood packing
themselves at No. 5, Paradise Row, Millbank. It was hardly yet
six o'clock, and Paradise Row was dark as Erebus; that solitary
gas-light sticking out from the wall of the prison only made
darkness visible; the tallow candles which were brought in and
out with every article that was stuffed under a seat, or into a
corner, would get themselves blown out; and the sleet which was
falling fast made the wicks wet, so that they could with
difficulty be relighted.
But at last the cabs were packed with luggage, and into one got
Gertrude with her husband, her baby, and her mother; and into the
other Charley handed Linda, then Alley, and lastly, the youthful
maiden, who humbly begged his pardon as she stepped up to the
vehicle; and then, having given due directions to the driver, he
not without difficulty squeezed himself into the remaining space.
Such journeys as these are always made at a slow pace. Cabmen
know very well who must go fast, and who may go slow. Women with
children going on board an emigrant vessel at six o'clock on a
February morning may be taken very slowly. And very slowly
Gertrude and her party were taken. Time had been - nay, it was but
the other day - when Alaric's impatient soul would have spurned at
such a pace as this. But now he sat tranquil enough. His wife
held one of his hands, and the other he pressed against his eyes,
as though shading them from the light. Light there was none, but
he had not yet learnt to face Mrs. Woodward even in the darkness.
He had come out of the prison on the day before, and had spent an
evening with her. It is needless to say that no one had upbraided
him, that no one had hinted that his backslidings had caused all
this present misery, had brought them all to that wretched cabin,
and would on the morrow separate, perhaps for ever, a mother and
a child who loved each other so dearly. No one spoke to him of
this; perhaps no one thought of it; he, however, did so think of
it that he could not hold his head up before them.
'He was ill,' Gertrude said; 'his long confinement had prostrated
him; but the sea air would revive him in a day or two.' And then
she made herself busy, and got the tea for them, and strove, not
wholly in vain,' to drive dull care away!'
But slowly as the cabs went in spite of Charley's vocal
execrations, they did get to the docks in time. Who, indeed, was
ever too late at the docks? Who, that ever went there, had not to
linger, linger, linger, till every shred of patience was clean
worn out? They got to the docks in time, and got on board that
fast-sailing, clipper-built, never-beaten, always-healthy ship,
the _Flash of Lightning_, 5,600 tons, A 1. Why, we have often
wondered, are ships designated as A 1, seeing that all ships are of
that class? Where is the excellence, seeing that all share it? Of
course the _Flash of Lightning_ was A 1. The author has for
years been looking out, and has not yet found a ship advertised as
A 2, or even as B 1. What is this catalogue of comparative
excellence, of which there is but one visible number?
The world, we think, makes a great mistake on the subject of
saying, or acting, farewell. The word or deed should partake of
the suddenness of electricity; but we all drawl through it at a
snail's pace. We are supposed to tear ourselves from our friends;
but tearing is a process which should be done quickly. What is so
wretched as lingering over a last kiss, giving the hand for the
third time, saying over and over again, 'Good-bye, John, God
bless you; and mind you write!' Who has not seen his dearest
friends standing round the window of a railway carriage, while
the train would not start, and has not longed to say to them,
'Stand not upon the order of your going, but go at once!' And of
all such farewells, the ship's farewell is the longest and the
most dreary. One sits on a damp bench, snuffing up the odour of
oil and ropes, cudgelling one's brains to think what further word
of increased tenderness can be spoken. No tenderer word can be
spoken. One returns again and again to the weather, to coats and
cloaks, perhaps even to sandwiches and the sherry flask. All
effect is thus destroyed, and a trespass is made even on the
domain of feeling.
I remember a line of poetry, learnt in my earliest youth, and
which I believe to have emanated from a sentimental Frenchman, a
man of genius, with whom my parents were acquainted. It is as
Are you go? - Is you gone? - And I left? - Vera vell!
Now the whole business of a farewell is contained in that line.
When the moment comes, let that be said; let that be said and
felt, and then let the dear ones depart.
Mrs. Woodward and Gertrude - God bless them! - had never studied
the subject. They knew no better than to sit in the nasty cabin,
surrounded by boxes, stewards, porters, children, and abominations
of every kind, holding each other's hands, and pressing damp
handkerchiefs to their eyes. The delay, the lingering, upset even
Gertrude, and brought her for a moment down to the usual level
of leave-taking womanhood. Alaric, the meanwhile, stood leaning
over the taffrail with Charley, as mute as the fishes beneath him.
'Write to us the moment you get there,' said Charley. How often
had the injunction been given! 'And now we had better get off -
you'll be better when we are gone, Alaric,' - Charley had some
sense of the truth about him - 'and, Alaric, take my word for it,
I'll come and set the Melbourne Weights and Measures to rights
before long - I'll come and weigh your gold for you.'
'We had better be going now,' said Charley, looking down into the
cabin; 'they may let loose and be off any moment now.'
'Oh, Charley, not yet, not yet,' said Linda, clinging to her
'You'll have to go down to the Nore, if you stay; that's all,'
And then again began the kissing and the crying. Yes, ye dear
ones - it is hard to part - it is hard for the mother to see the
child of her bosom torn from her for ever; it is cruel that
sisters should be severed: it is a harsh sentence for the world
to give, that of such a separation as this. These, O ye loving
hearts, are the penalties of love! Those that are content to love
must always be content to pay them.
'Go, mamma, go,' said Gertrude; 'dearest, best, sweetest mother -
my own, own mother; go, Linda, darling Linda. Give my kindest
love to Harry - Charley, you and Harry will be good to mamma, I
know you will. And mamma' - and then she whispered to her mother
one last prayer in Charley's favour - 'she may love him now,
indeed she may.'
Alaric came to them at the last moment - 'Mrs. Woodward,' said he,
'say that you forgive me.'
'I do,' said she, embracing him - 'God knows that I do; - but,
Alaric, remember what a treasure you possess.'
And so they parted. May God speed the wanderers!
THE FATE OF THE NAVVIES
And now, having dispatched Alaric and his wife and bairns on
their long journey, we must go back for a while and tell how
Charley had been transformed from an impudent, idle young Navvy
into a well-conducted, zealous young Weights.
When Alaric was convicted, Charley had, as we all know, belonged
to the Internal Navigation; when the six months' sentence had
expired, Charley was in full blow at the decorous office in
Whitehall; and during the same period Norman had resigned and
taken on himself the new duties of a country squire. The change
which had been made had affected others than Charley. It had been
produced by one of those far-stretching, world-moving commotions
which now and then occur, sometimes twice or thrice in a
generation, and, perhaps, not again for half a century, causing
timid men to whisper in corners, and the brave and high-spirited
to struggle with the struggling waves, so that when the storm
subsides they may be found floating on the surface. A moral
earthquake had been endured by a portion of the Civil Service of
The Internal Navigation had - No, my prognostic reader, it had not
been reformed; no new blood had been infused into it; no attempt
had been made to produce a better discipline by the appointment
of a younger secretary; there had been no carting away of decayed
wood in the shape of Mr. Snape, or gathering of rank weeds in the
form of Mr. Corkscrew; nothing of the kind had been attempted.
No - the disease had gone too far either for phlebotomy, purging,
or cautery. The Internal Navigation had ceased to exist! Its
demise had been in this wise. - It may be remembered that some
time since Mr. Oldeschole had mentioned in the hearing of Mr.
Snape that things were going wrong. Sir Gregory Hardlines had
expressed an adverse opinion as to the Internal Navigation, and
worse, ten times worse than that, there had been an article in
the _Times_. Now, we all know that if anything is ever done
in any way towards improvement in these days, the public press
does it. And we all know, also, of what the public press
consists. Mr. Oldeschole knew this well, and even Mr. Snape had a
glimmering idea of the truth. When he read that article, Mr.
Oldeschole felt that his days were numbered, and Mr. Snape, when
he heard of it, began to calculate for the hundredth time to what
highest amount of pension he might be adjudged to be entitled by
a liberal-minded Treasury minute.
Mr. Oldeschole began to set his house in order, hopelessly; for
any such effort the time was gone by. It was too late for the
office to be so done by, and too late for Mr. Oldeschole to do
it. He had no aptitude for new styles and modern improvements; he
could not understand Sir Gregory's code of rules, and was
dumbfounded by the Civil Service requisitions that were made upon
him from time to time. Then came frequent calls for him to attend
at Sir Gregory's office. There a new broom had been brought in,
in the place of our poor friend Alaric, a broom which seemed
determined to sweep all before it with an unmitigable energy. Mr.
Oldeschole found that he could not stand at all before this young
Hercules, seeing that his special stall was considered to be the
foulest in the whole range of the Augean stables. He soon saw
that the river was to be turned in on him, and that he was to be
officially obliterated in the flood.
The civility of those wonder-doing demigods - those Magi of the
Civil Service office - was most oppressive to him. When he got to
the board, he was always treated with a deference which he knew
was but a prelude to barbaric tortures. They would ask him to sit
down in a beautiful new leathern arm-chair, as though he were
really some great man, and then examine him as they would a
candidate for the Custom House, smiling always, but looking at
him as though they were determined to see through him.
They asked him all manner of questions; but there was one
question which they put to him, day after day, for four days,
that nearly drove him mad. It was always put by that horrid young
lynx-eyed new commissioner, who sat there with his hair brushed
high from off his forehead, peering out of his capacious,
excellently-washed shirt-collars, a personification of conscious
'And now, Mr. Oldeschole, if you have had leisure to consider the
question more fully, perhaps you can define to us what is the -
hum - hm - the use - hm - hm - the exact use of the Internal
And then Sir Warwick would go on looking through his millstone as
though now he really had a hope of seeing something, and Sir
Gregory would lean back in his chair, and rubbing his hands
slowly over each other, like a great Akinetos as he was, wait
leisurely for Mr. Oldeschole's answer, or rather for his no
What a question was this to ask of a man who had spent all his
life in the Internal Navigation Office! O reader! should it
chance that thou art a clergyman, imagine what it would be to
thee, wert thou asked what is the exact use of the Church of
England; and that, too, by some stubborn catechist whom thou wert
bound to answer; or, if a lady, happy in a husband and family,
say, what would be thy feelings if demanded to define the exact
use of matrimony? Use! Is it not all in all to thee?
Mr. Oldeschole felt a hearty inward conviction that his office
had been of very great use. In the first place, had he not drawn
from it a thousand a year for the last five-and-twenty years? had
it not given maintenance and employment to many worthy men who
might perhaps have found it difficult to obtain maintenance
elsewhere? had it not always been an office, a public office of
note and reputation, with proper work assigned to it? The use of
it - the exact use of it? Mr. Oldeschole at last declared, with
some indignation in his tone, that he had been there for forty
years and knew well that the office was very useful; but that he
would not undertake to define its exact use. 'Thank you, thank
you, Mr. Oldeschole - that will do, I think,' said the very
spruce-looking new gentleman out of his shirt-collars.
In these days there was a kind of prescience at the Internal
Navigation that something special was going to be done with them.
Mr. Oldeschole said nothing openly; but it may be presumed that
he did whisper somewhat to those of the seniors around him in
whom he most confided. And then, his frequent visits to Whitehall
were spoken of even by the most thoughtless of the navvies, and
the threatenings of the coming storm revealed themselves with
more or less distinctness to every mind.
At last the thundercloud broke and the bolt fell. Mr. Oldeschole
was informed that the Lords of the Treasury had resolved on
breaking up the establishment and providing for the duties in
another way. As the word duties passed Sir Gregory's lips a
slight smile was seen to hover round the mouth of the new
commissioner. Mr. Oldeschole would, he was informed, receive an
official notification to this effect on the following morning;
and on the following morning accordingly a dispatch arrived, of
great length, containing the resolution of my Lords, and putting
an absolute extinguisher on the life of every navvy.
How Mr. Oldeschole, with tears streaming down his cheeks,
communicated the tidings to the elder brethren; and how the elder
brethren, with palpitating hearts and quivering voices, repeated
the tale to the listening juniors, I cannot now describe. The
boldest spirits were then cowed, the loudest miscreants were then
silenced, there were but few gibes, but little jeering at the
Internal Navigation on that day; though Charley, who had already
other hopes, contrived to keep up his spirits. The men stood
about talking in clusters, and old animosities were at an end.
The lamb sat down with the wolf, and Mr. Snape and Dick
Scatterall became quite confidential.
'I knew it was going to happen,' said Mr. Snape to him. 'Indeed,
Mr. Oldeschole has been consulting us about it for some time; but
I must own I did not think it would be so sudden; I must own
'If you knew it was coming,' said Corkscrew, 'why didn't you tell
'I was not at liberty,' said Mr. Snape, looking very wise.
'We shall all have liberty enough now,' said Scatterall; 'I
wonder what they'll do with us; eh, Charley?'
'I believe they will send the worst of us to Spike Island or
Dartmoor prison,' said Charley; 'but Mr. Snape, no doubt, has
heard and can tell us.'
'Oh, come, Charley! It don't do to chaff now,' said a young
navvy, who was especially down in the mouth. 'I wonder will they
do anything for a fellow?'
'I heard my uncle, in Parliament Street, say, that when a chap
has got any _infested_ interest in a thing, they can't turn
him out,' said Corkscrew; 'and my uncle is a parliamentary
'Can't they though!' said Scatterall. 'It seems to me that they
mean to, at any rate; there wasn't a word about pensions or
anything of that sort, was there, Mr. Snape?'
'Not a word,' said Snape. 'But those who are entitled to pensions
can't be affected injuriously. As far as I can see they must give
me my whole salary. I don't think they can do less.'
'You're all serene then, Mr. Snape,' said Charley; 'you're in the
right box. Looking at matters in that light, Mr. Snape, I think
you ought to stand something handsome in the shape of lunch.
Come, what do you say to chops and stout all round? Dick will go
over and order it in a minute.'
'I wish you wouldn't, Charley,' said the navvy who seemed to be
most affected, and who, in his present humour, could not endure a
joke, As Mr. Snape did not seem to accede to Charley's views, the
liberal proposition fell to the ground.
'Care killed a cat,' said Scatterall. 'I shan't break my heart
about it. I never liked the shop - did you, Charley?'
'Well, I must say I think we have been very comfortable here,
under Mr. Snape,' said Charley. But if Mr. Snape is to go, why