Charles Lamb.

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person who suffered acutely from the
failure ; for G. thenceforward, with
a serenity unattainable but by the
true philosophy, abandoning a pre-
carious popularity, retired into his
fast hold of speculation, — the drama
in which the world was to be his
tiring room, and remote posterity his
applauding spectators at once, and
actors. Eli A.


ionlrott iJlaga^me^


MAY, 1822.

Vol. V.



I LIKE to meet a sweep — under-
stand me — not a grown sweeper —
old chimney-sweepers are by no
means attractive — but one of those
tender novices, blooming through
their first nigritude, the maternal
washings not quite effaced from the
cheek — such as come forth with the
dawn, or somewhat earlier, with their
little professional notes sounding like
the peep peep of a young sparrow ;
or liker to the matin lark should I
pronounce them, in their aerial as-
cents not seldom anticipating the
sun-rise ?

I have a kindly yearning toward
these dim specks — poor blots — inno-
cent blacknesses —

I reverence these young Africans of
our own growth — these almost clergy
imps, who sport their cloth without
assumption ; and from their little
pulpits (the tops of chimneys), in
the nipping air of a December morn-
ing, preach a lesson of patience to

^Vhen a child, what a mysterious
pleasure it was to witness their ope-
ration ! to see a chit no bigger than
one's-self enter, one knew not by
what process, into what seemed the
fauces Averni — to pursue him in ima-
gination, as he went sounding on
through so many dark stifling ca-
verns, horrid shades ! — to shudder
with the idea that " now, surely, he
must be lost for ever ! '' — to revive at
hearing his feeble shout of discovered
dav-light— and then (O fulness of

Vol. V.

delight) running out of doors, to
come just in time to see the sable
phenomenon emerge in safety, the
brandished weapon of his art victo-
rious like some flag waved over a
conquered citadel ! I seem to re-
member having been told, that a
bad sweep was once left in a stack
with his brush to indicate which way
the wind blew. It was an awful
spectacle certainly ; not much imlike
the old stage direction in Macbeth,
where the " Apparition of a child
crowned, with a tree in his hand,

Reader, if thou meetest one of
these small gentry in thy early ram-
bles, it is good to give him a penny.
It is better to give him two-pence.
If it be starving weather, and to the
proper troubles of his hard occupa-
tion, a pair of kibed heels (no un-
usual accompaniment) be super-
added, the demand on thy humanity
will surely rise to a tester.

There is a composition, the ground-
work of which I have understood to
be the sweet wood 'yclept sassafras.
This wood boiled down to a kind ol
tea, and tempered with an infusion
of milk and sugar, hath to some
tastes a delicacy beyond the China
luxury. I know not how thy palate
may relish it ; for myself, with every
deference to the judicious Mr. Read,
who hath time out of mind kept
open a shop (the only one he avers
in London) for the vending of this
" wholesome and pleasant beverage,"
2 H



jcepers, a May-Da

on the south side of Fleet-street, as
thou approachest Bridge-street — the
only Salopian house, ~1 have never yet
adventured to dip my own particular
lip in a basin of his commended in-
gredients — a cautious premonition to
the olfactories constantly whispering
to me, that my stomach must infal-
libly, with all due courtesy, decline
it. Yet I have seen palates, other-
wise not uninstructed in dietetical
elegances, sup it up with avidity.

I know not by what particular
conformation of the organ it happens,
but I have always found that this
composition is surprisingly gratifying
to the palate of a young chimney-
sweeper — whether the oily particles
(sassafras is slightly oleaginous) do
attenuate and soften the fuliginous
concretions, which are sometimes
found (in dissections) to adhere to
the roof of the mouth in these im-
fledged practitioners; or whether
Nature, sensible that she had mingled
too much of bitter wood in the lot of
these raw victims, caused to grow
out of the earth her sassafras for a
sweet lenitive — but so it is, that no
possible taste or odour to the senses
of a young chimney-sweeper can
convey a delicate excitement com-
parable to this mixture. Being pen-
niless, they will yet hang their black
heads over the ascending steam, to
gratify one sense if possible, seem-
ingly no less pleased than those do-
mestic animals — cats — when they
purr over a new found sprig of va-
lerian. There is something more in
these sympathies than philosophy can

Now albeit Mr. Read boasteth,
'not without reason, that his is the
only Salopian house; yet be it known
to thee, reader — if thou art one who
keepest what are called good hours,
thou art haply ignorant of the fact —
he hath a race of industrious imita-
tors, who from stalls, and under open
sky, dispense the same savoury mess
to humbler customers, at that dead
time of the dawn, when (as extremes
meet) the rake, reeling home from
his midnight cups, and the hard-
handed artisan leaving his bed to re-
sume the premature labours of the
day, jostle, not unfrequently to the
manitest disconcerthig of the former,
for the honours of the pavement. It
is the time when, in summer, be-
tween the expired and the not yet

relumined kitchen-fires, the kennels
of our fair metropolis give forth their
least satisfactory odours. The rake,
who wisheth to dissipate his o'er-
night vapours in more grateful coffee,
curses the ungenial fume, as he pass-
eth ; but the artisan stops to taste,
and blesses the fragrant breakfast.

This isSaloop — the precocious herb-
woman's darling — the delight of the
early gardener, who transports his
smoking cabbages by break of day
from Hammersmith to Covent-gar-
den's famed piazzas — the delight,
and, oh I fear, too often the envy, of
the unpennied sweep. Him shouldest
thou haply encounter, with his dim
visage pendant over the grateful
steam, regale him with a sumptuous
basin (it will cost thee but three
half-pennies) and a slice of delicate
bread and butter (an added half-
penny)— so may thy cvilinary fires,
eased of the o'er-charged secretions
from thy worse-placed hospitalities,
curl up a lighter volume to the wel-
kin — so may the descending soot
never taint thy costly well-ingredi-
enced soups — nor the odious cry,
quick-reaching from street to street,
of the Jired chimney, invite the rat-
tling engines from ten adjacent pa-
rishes, to disturb for a casual scin-
tillation thy peace and pocket !

I am by nature extremely suscep-
tible of street affronts ; the jeers
and taunts of the populace; the
low-bred triumph they display over
the casual trip, or splashed stocking,
of a gentleman. Yet I can endure
the jocularity of a young sweep with
something more than forgiveness. —
In the last winter but one, pacing
along Cheapside with my accustomed
precipitation when I v/alk westward,
a treacherous slide brought me upon
my back in an instant. I scrambled
up with pain and shame enough — yet
outwardly trying to face it down, as
if nothing had happened — when the
roguish grin of one of these young
wits encountered me. There he
stood, pointing me out with his
dusky finger to the mob, and to a
poor woman (I suppose his mother)
in particular, till the tears for the ex-
quisiteness of the fun (so he thought
it) worked themselves out at the
corners of his poor red eyes, red
from many a previous weeping, and
soot-inflamed, yet twinkling through
all with such a joy, snatched out

1822.]] The Praise of Chimnei/'S weepers, a May-Day Effusion.


of desolation, that Hogarth

but Hogarth has got him already
(how could he miss him ?) in the
March to Finchley, grinning at the

pye-man there he stood, as he

stands in the picture, irremovable,
as if the jest was to last for ever —
with such a maximum of glee, and
minimum of mischief, in his mirth —
for the grin of a genuine sweep hath
absolutely no malice in it — that I
could have been content, if the ho-
nour of a gentleman might endure it,
to have remained his butt and his
mockery till midnight.

I am by theory obdurate to the se-
ductiveness of what are called a fine
set of teeth. Every pair of rosy lips
(the ladies must pardon me) is a
casket, presumably holding such
jewels ; but, methinks, they should
take leave to " air " them as frugally
as possible. The fine lady, or fine
gentleman, who show me their teeth,
show me bones. Yet must I confess,
that from the mouth of a true sweep
a display (even to ostentation) of
those white and shining ossifications,
strikes me as an agreeable anomaly
in manners, and an allowable piece of
foppery. It is, as when

A sable cloud
Turns forth her silver lining on the night.

It is like some remnant of gentry
not quite extinct ; a badge of better
days; a hint of nobility: — and, doubt-
less, under the obscuring darkness
and double night of their forlorn dis-
guisement, oftentimes lurketh good
blood, and gentle conditions, derived
from lost ancestry, and a lapsed pedi-
gree. The premature apprentice-
ments of these tender victims give
l)ut too much encouragement, I fear,
to clandestine, and almost infantile
abductions ; the seeds of civility and
true courtesy, so often discernible in
these young grafts (not otherwise to
be accounted for) plahily hint at some
forced adoptions ; many noble Ra-
chels mourning for their children,
even in our days, countenance the
fact ; the tales of fairy- spiriting may
shadow a lamentable verity, and the
recovery of the young Montagu be
but a solitaiy instance of good for-
tune, out of many irreparable and
hopeless defihations.

In one of the state-beds at Arun-
del Castle, a few years since — under
a ducal canopy — (that seat of the

Howards is an object of curiosity to
visitors, chiefly for its beds, in which
the late Duke was especially a con-
noisseur) — encircled witli curtains of
delicatest crimson, with starry co-
ronets inwoven — folded between a
pair of sheets whiter and softer than
the lap where Venus lulled Ascanius
— was discovered by chance, after
all methods of search had failed, at
noon-day, fast asleep, a lost chimney-
sweeper. The little creature, havhig
somehow confounded his passage
among the intricacies of those lordly
chimneys, by some unknown aper-
ture had alighted upon this magni-
ficent chamljer ; and, tired with his
tedious explorations, was unable to
resist the delicious invitement to re-
pose, which he there saw exhibited ;
so, creeping between the sheets very
quietly, laid his black head upon the
pillow, and slept like a young Ho-

Such is the account given to the
visitors at the Castle. — But I cannot
help seemhig to perceive a confirma-
tion of what I have just hinted at in
this story. A high insthict was at
work hi the case, or I am mistaken.
Is it probable that a poor child of that
description, with whatever weariness
he might be visited, would have ven-
tured, under such a penalty as he
would be taught to expect, to un-
cover the sheets of a Duke's bed,
and deliberately to lay himself down
between them, when the rug, or the
carpet, presented an obvious couch,
still far above his pretensions — is this
probable, I would ask, if the great
power of nature, which I contend
for, had not been manifested within
him, prompting to the adventure?
Doubtless this young nobleman (for
such my mind misgives me that he
must be) was allured by some me-
mory, not amounting to full consci-
ousness, of his condition in infancy,
when he was used to be lapt by his
mother, or his nurse, in just such
sheets as he there found, into which
he was now but creeping back as
into his proper incunabula, and rest-
ing place — By no other theory, than
by this sentiment of a pre-existent
state (as I may call it), can I ex-
plain a deed so venturous, and, in-
deed, upon any other system, so in-
decorous, in tiiis tender, but unsea-
sonable, sleeper.

My pleasant friend Jem White



The Praise of Chimney-sweepers, a May -Day Effusion. [[May,

was so impressed with a belief of
metamorphoses like this frequently
taking place, that in some sort to re-
verse the wrongs of fortune in these
poor changelings, he instituted an an-
nual feast of chimney-sweepers, at
which it was his pleasure to officiate
as host and waiter. It was a solemn
supper held in Smithfield, upon the
yearly return of the fair of St. Bar-
tholomew. Cards were issued a
week before to the master-sweeps in
and about the metropolis, confining
the invitation to their younger fry.
Now and then an elderly stripling
would get in among us, and be good-
naturedly winked at; but our main
body were infantry. One unfortu-
nate wight, indeed, who, relying
upon his dusky suit, had intruded
himself into our party, but by tokens
was providentially discovered in time
to be no chimney-sweeper (all is not
soot which looks so), was quoited
out of the presence with universal
indignation, as not having on the
wedding garment; but in general
the greatest harmony prevailed. The
place chosen was a convenient spot
among the pens, at the north side of
the fair, not so far distant as to be im-
pervious to the agreeable hubbub of
that vanity; but remote enough not to
be obvious to the interruption of every
gaping spectator in it. The guests
assembled about seven. In those
little temporary parlours three tables
were spread with napery, not so fine
as substantial, and at every board a
comely hostess presided with her pan
of hissing sausages. The nostrils of
the young rogues dilated at the sa-
vour. James White, as head wai-
ter, had charge of the first table ; and
myself, with our trusty companion
BiGOD, ordinarily ministered to the
other two. There was clambering
and jostling, you may be sure, who
should get at the first table— for
Rochester in his maddest days could
not have done the humours of the
scene with more spirit than my friend.
After some general expression of
thanks for the honour the company
had done him, his inaugural cere-
mony was to clasp the greasy waist
of old dame Ursula (the fattest of
the three), that stood frying and
fretting, half-blessing, half-cursing
^^ the gentleman," and imprint upon
her chaste lips a tender salute, where-

at the universal host would set up a
shout that tore the concave, while
hundreds of grinning teeth startled
the night with their brightness. O it
was a pleasure to see the sable younk-
ers lick in the unctuous meat, with
his more unctuous sayings — how he
would fit the tit bits to the puny
mouths, reserving the lengthier links
for the seniors— how he would in-
tercept a morsel even in the jaws of
some young desperado, declaring it
" must to the pan again to be
browned, for it was not fit for a gen-
tleman's eating"— how he would re-
commend this slice of white bread,
or that piece of kissing-crust, to a
tender juvenile, advising them all to
have a care of cracking their teeth,
which ^' were their best patrimony "
— how genteelly he would deal about
the small ale, as if it were wine,
naming the brewer, and protesting,
if it were not good, he should lose
their custom ; with a special recom-
mendation to ^' wipe the lip before
drinking.'' Then we had our toasts
—"The King,"— the "Cloth," —
which, whether they understood or
not, was equally diverting and flat-
tering ; — and for a crowning senti-
ment, which never failed, " May the
Brush supersede the Laurel." All
these, and fifty other fancies, which
were rather felt than comprehended
by his guests, would he utter, stand-
ing upon tables, and prefacing every
sentiment with a '^' Gentlemen, give
me leave to propose so and so,"
which was a prodigious comfort to
those young orphans ; every now and
then stuffing into his mouth (for it
did not do to be squeamish on these
occasions) indiscriminate pieces of
those reeking sausages, which pleased
them mightily, and was the savou-
riest part, you may believe, of the

Golden lads and lasses mzist,

As chimney sweepers, come to dnst —

James White is extinct, and with
him these suppers have long ceased.
He carried away with him half the
fun of the world when he died — of
my world at least. His old clients
look for him among the pens ; and,
missing him, reproach the altered
feast of St. Bartholomew, and the
glory of Smithfield departed for ever-


■.^,"^.»«^M...Tr -


A Complaint of the Demy of Beggars in the Metropolis. fJune,


The all-sweeping besom of socie-
tarian reformation — yoiu' only modern
Alcides' club to rid the time of its
abuses — is uplift with many-handed
sway to extirpate the last fluttering
tatters of the bugbear Mendicity
from the metropolis. Scrips^ wallets^
bags — staves, dogs, and crutches —
the whole mendicant fraternity with
all their baggage are fast posting out
of the purlieus of this eleventh per-
secution. From the crowded cross-
ing, from corners of streets and turn-
ings of allies, the parting Genius of
Beggary is " with sighing sent."

I do not approve of this wholesale
going to work, this impertinent cru-
sado, or helium ad exterminationem,
proclaimed against a species. Much
good might be sucked from these

They were the oldest and the ho-
nourablest form of pauperism. Their
appeals were to our common nature;
less revolting to an ingenuous mind
than to be a supplicant to the parti-
cular humours or caprice of any fel-
low-creature, or set of fellow-crea-
tures, parochial or societarian. Theirs
were the only rates uninvidious in the
levy, ungrudged in the assessment.

There was a dignity springing from
the very depth of their desolation ; as
to be naked is to be so much nearer
to the being a man, than to go in

The greatest spirits have felt this
in their reverses ; and when Diony-
sius from king turned schoolmaster,
do we feel any thing towards him but
contempt? Could Vandyke have made
a picture of him, swaying a ferula
for a sceptre, which would have af-
fected our minds with the same he-
roic pity, the same compassionate
admiration, with which we regard
his Belisarius begging for an obolum f
Would the moral have been more
graceful, more pathetic ?

The Blind Beggar in the legend —
the father of pretty Bessj^ — whose
story doggrel rhymes and ale-house
signs cannot so degrade or attenuate,
but that some sparks of a lustrous
spirit will shine through the disguise-
ments— this noble Earl of Flanders
(as indeed he was) and memorable

sport of fortune, fleeing from the un-
just sentence of his liege lord, stript
of all, and seated on the flowering
green of Bethnal, with his more . resh
and springing daughter by his side,
illumining his rags and his beggi^ry — ■
would the child and parent have cut
a better figure, doing the bono irs of
a counter, or expiating their fallen
condition upon the three-foot emi-
nence of some sempstering shop-
board }

In tale or history your Beggar is
ever the just antipode to your King.
The poets and romancical writers (as
dear Margaret Newcastle would call
them) when they would most sharply
and feelingly paint a reverse of for-
tune, never stop till they have
brought down their hero in good
earnest to rags and the wallet. The
depth of the descent illustrates the
height he falls from. There is no
medium which cati be presented to
the imagination without oifence.
There is no breaking tlie fall. Lear,
thrown from his palace, must divest
him of his garments, till he answer
" mere nature;" andCresseid, fallen
from a prince's love, must extend her
pale arms, pale with other whiteness
than of beauty, supplicating lazar
alms with bell and cL p-dish.

The Lucian wits i new this very
well ; and, with an opposite policy,
when they would press scorn of
greatness without \\^ pity, they show^
us an Alexander in ,he shades cob-
bling shoes, or a S ^miramis getting
up foul linen.

How jwould it sound in song, that
a great monarch ha(^ declined his af-
fections upon the da ..ghter of a ba-
ker ! yet do we f( the imagination
at all violated, en we read the
'' true ballad," wh "e King Cophetua
wooes the beggar uiaid }

Pauperism, pauper, poor man, are
expressions of pity, but pity alloyed
with contempt. No one properly
contemns a beggar. Poverty is a
comparative thing, and each degree
of it is mocked by its '^ neighbour
grice." * Its poor rents and comings-
in are soon summed up and told. Its
pretences to property are almost lu-
dicrous. Its piUftil attempts to save

Timon of Athens.


1822.]3 A Complaint of the Decay of Beggars in the Metropolis.


excite a smile. Every scornful com-
panion can weigh his trifle-bigger
purse against it. Poor man reproaches
poor man in the streets with impoli-
tic mention of his condition, his own
being a shade better, while the rich
pass by and jeer at both. No ras-
cally comparative insults a Beggar,
or thinks of weighiiig purses with
him. He is ned in the scale of com-
parisonx He is not under the mea-
sure of property. He confessedly
hath none, any more than a dog or a
sheep. No one twitteth him with os-
tentation above his means. No one
accuses him of pride, or upbraideth
him with mock humility. None jos-
tle with him for the wall, or pick
quarrels for precedency. No wealthy
neighbour seeketh to eject him from
his tenement. No man sues him. No
man goes to law with him. If I
were not the independent gentleman
that I am, rather than I would be a
retainer to the great, a led captain,
or a poor relation, I would chuse,
out of the delicacy and true great-
ness of my mind, to be a Beggar.

Rags, which are the reproach of
poverty, are the Beggar's robes, and
graceful insignia of his profession,
his tenure, his full dress, the suit in
which he is expected to show himself
in public. He is never out of the
fashion, or limpeth awkwardly be-
hind it. He is not required to put on
court mourning. Pie weareth all
colours, fearing none. His costume
hath undergone less change than the
Quaker's. His coat is coeval with
Adam's. He is the only man in the
universe who is not obliged to study
appearances. The ups and downs of
the world concern him no^ longer.
He alone conthmeth in one^ stay.
The price of stock or land afFecteth
him not. The fluctuations of agri-
cultural or commercial prosperity
touch him not, or at worst but change
his customers. He is not expected
to become bail or surety for any one.
No man troubleth him with question-
ing his religion or politics. He is the
only free man in the universe.

The Mendicants of this great city
were so many of her sights, her lions.

I can no more spare them than I
could the Cries of London. No cor-
ner of a street is complete without
them. They are as indispensable as
the Ballad Singer ; and in their pic-
turesque attire as ornamental as the
Signs of old London. They were the
standing morals, emblems, mementos,
dial-mottos, the spital sermons, the
books for children, the salutary
checks and pauses to the high and
rushing tide of greasy citizenry —


Upon that poor and broken bankrupt tJi ere.

Above all, those old blind Tobits
that used to line the wall of Lincoln's
Inn Garden, before modern fastidi-
ousness had expelled them, casting
up their ruined orbs to catch a ray 'of
pity, and (if possible) of light, with
their faithful Dog Guide at their feet,
— whither are they fled ? or into what
corners, blind as themselves, have
they been driven, out of the whole-
some air and sun-warmth ? immersed
between four walls, in what wither-
ing poor-house do they endure the
penalty of double darkness, where
the chink of the dropt half-penny no
more consoles their forlorn bereave-
ment, far from the sound of the cheer-
ful and hope-stirring tread of the pas-
senger? Where hang their useless
crutches ? and who will farm their
dogs? — Have the overseers of St.
Ir— — caused them to be shot ? or
were they tied up in sacks, and
dropt into the Thames, at the sug-
gestion of B— , the mild Rector of

P ?

Well fare the soul of unfastidious
Vincent Bourne, most classical, and
at the same time, most English, of
the Latinists ! —who has treated of
this human and quadrupedal alliance,

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