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' If they were withdrawn, we should all suddenly
freeze to death in the dark.

'This is what Radicals, and suchlike, are apt to
forget when they begin to "mess the rich about.'" (I
give this important scheme of thought as nearly as
possible in the terms of the thinker. It is but prudent,
and it is no more than just.)

'Now the rich are constitutionally slow to anger;
and besides, "dash it, they like the country, you
know!" But for this sentiment, what would become
of us if they took the huff, and removed Lombard
Street to South America ? " And they could do it, by
Gad ! stone by stone."

' From them, and from the stirrings of the sap of


No. 5 John Street

desire within them for the blessings of life, emanate all
things. Their wants, their cravings, are the measure
of the hopes of the race.

'They support not only the working man, but the
poet, painter, musician, divine, all of whom may be
said, figuratively, to come for orders every morning to
the area gate. They maintain the Army and Navy,
whose business it is to provide them with markets by
extending the territory.

' As for the common run of people, the sordidness of
their lives is, no doubt, distressing in the extreme from
an elevated point of view. But such as their lot is, it
is the utmost of dignity, beauty, comfort, and ease that
can possibly be spared to them. If they insist on
more, they may imperil the existence of the rich
There is not enough of these things to go round.
Besides, they are used to their privations, and even
enjoy them in a way. Whenever the pressure's too
sharp, there 's the charities. " And how are you to
keep the charities going, if you please, without the

' All practical men ' (Seton does not pretend to be of
their number) 'will tell you that, without the poor, you
could never have the rich. It isn't only that all things
are relative, you know; it's a much closer thing than
that. You'd never be able to keep wages down to a
working level without it. Now, if ever you fail to do
that, goodbye to the great firms, and with them good-
bye to the " whole show," or otherwise, in its ultimate
signification, to the cosmic scheme.'

End of the Setonian * Orb,' etc.

I can hardly exaggerate the difficulty I have
had in bringing the young man to this point.
The expository character of his confidence is


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entirely foreign to his nature and his tastes. It
is as though one wrung his reHgion out of him
by the arts of cross-examination. He has his
hopes and his assurances, as we all have, but he
is under no obligation to talk of them in general
society. The business of his day has been such
as we have seen. It justifies itself on the face of
it ; and it ought not to stand in need of these
deeper considerations to commend it to our sense
of the fitness of things.

Herein, as I take it, lies the relevancy of his
next observation —

' It 's all stuff to say Sally's shoulders are too
much loaded. Every blessed ounce is muscle or

I take the hint, and talk fetlocks for the
remainder of the drive.

We part at St. James's Street. He entreats
me to join his friends at the play ; I shall find
him in the Royal Box. But I plead a fit of dress-
ing-gown and slippers that gives no hope of
immediate recovery.

He is then good enough to insist most firmly
on my attendance at an entertainment of the club
of * The Originals,' to be held some days hence.
It is a supper, and the hour of convocation is
midnight, to meet the convenience of some ladies
of the ballet who are honorary members of the
institution. He takes the chair, and he naturally
wishes to signalise his tenure of it by a successful
rivalry with his predecessor in office. He thinks
he can promise that I shall be amused.


No. 5 John Street

I give a conditional acceptance, and take my
leave. It has been a wonderfully well-spent
day. Let us live while we may. A time-
honoured caution is ever to the purpose ; it is far
from certain that we shall be able to play the fool
in hell.



' May it please your Excellency : —

' In my last, hurriedly written, I made a brief refer-
ence to our mechanism of classes. I may supplement
this by some results of a recent study of the life and
works of our merchant princes.

'The function of the members of this order is to
suck up all the wealth of the nation into their own
keeping ; and in this view of their purpose they are
sometimes said to live in the skies. They are as
clouds — absorbed moisture, for distribution in benefi-
cent showers over the areas from which it is drawn.
The first part of the process undoubtedly leaves the
plains dry. But just as these come to the parch-
ing point, the reservoirs open, down comes the gentle
rain, and the plains smile again as at their own

' The method of distribution takes the form of the
demand for luxuries.

' It is the business of the cloud-dwellers to eat as
much as they can, drink as much as they can, dance,
and gallop, and bedizen themselves generally with
things of price. This, in their own and the general
estimation, circulates the money, which otherwise
might have been wasted on too abundant Sunday
dinners, and makes them extremely popular.

'Thus the merchant princes to whom I refer are
for ever raining back, in self-indulgence, on their
fellow-creatures. Where a common hack, not to say a


No. 5 John Street

bicycle, might serve others for locomotion, they store
enough horse-flesh to mount a regiment of cavalry.
In this way they become the providence of a host of
stablemen, jockeys, and Fleet Street betting touts,
who otherwise might not know where to lay their

' The ramifications of service, sir, are endless, and
they are of such complexity of social uses that it
would be difficult to make them intelligible to your-
self or your Honourable Council. The accompanying
diagram may be of some assistance. The channel A
conducts all the capitalised produce of the earth into

B, the breeches pocket of this guardian class. This
produce then makes its way back to its sources through

C, the demand for the pride of life on the part of the
guardians. The difference in volume between what is
received and what is given back — represented by the
section marked "Swag" — stands for the recompense of
the guardians.

'The dispute as to the distribution of the swag
constitutes our present movement in advanced politics.
Our lower orders, not clearly grasping the principle of
the arrangement, are often led to believe that there
would be more for them to eat, drink, and avoid if
there were less for the others. The wiser sort see that
the true remedy is for the others to eat more. The
latter seldom fail to realise this high conception of
duty. Rich man's gout is distressingly common in
this class.

' The scheme is less simple, perhaps, than your
Excellency's Island plan of making the whole com-
munity both receiver and distributor from the start.
But simplicity can never be the note of a highly
organised social system like ours.

' A conscientious young man of fashion, sir, is liter-
ally at it, in the work of distribution, from morning to


No. 5 John Street

night. And where a millionaire parent is blessed with
progeny of this description, we have the very perfection
of the economic scheme of these islands of the parent
group. I append a curious theory of the universe
which I have been so fortunate as to obtain from one
of this condition. It may serve, better than any tables
of distance, to make your Excellency feel that you live
a long way off.

' In the same way, the demand of our superior class
for the luxuries of spiritual truth gives a great impetus
to the religious life. Any new invention in this line
secures instant and respectful attention from persons
whose natural craving is for a pick-me-up. They lay
it in, so to speak, in a jiffy. Whatever comes of it in
the long-run, it is in the meantime a living for the
inventors. We are very busy just now with a system
of therapeutics, in which texts from Scripture take the
place of drugs. You are dosed, for instance, with a
verse from Matthew or from James instead of the
ordinary ingredients of the Pharmacopceia. This is an
ingenious attempt to restore our faith to its old place
as mistress of the sciences. It is not infallible — what
system is ? — and it has been known to fail in cases of
typhoid and of croup. In one of its applications it is
in great favour with the poor. It saves them the cost
of doctor's stuff, for they have only to supplement the
text with a little salad oil. The sense of religious
rapture over mercies received on the Stock Exchange,
or elsewhere, sometimes finds its material expres-
sion in offerings of great beauty for the altar from
the firstfruits of successful speculation. One of
the most symbolical of the Jubilee gifts will enrich
our metropolitan cathedral with a costly service of
plate from this source. — I have the honour to be,
etc., etc.


No. 5 John Street

' Enclosures,

' Plan of proposed route.

'Scheme of decoration for leading thoroughfares.
' Theory of the Orb as Cash — Seton Ridler, Esq.
' Hymn to be sung on Jubilee morning by Debenture-
holders of Ridler, Ridler & Co., Class A.'




I NEVER went to Seton's supper.

On the day fixed for it I am back in my garret
in John Street once more, and giving an enter-
tainment of my own (a sort of belated house-
warming) to Low Covey and Tilda, Mammy and

I really can't account for it except by way of
conjecture. Maybe I need to freshen up my
appetite after that lunch at ' The Snack.' Then,
again, as the Jubilee is now hard upon us,
perhaps I want to write the Report from the
point of view of John Street. The one thing
beyond conjecture is that here I am, and that I
mean to stay as long as the fun lasts, and then
go back to live happy ever after as civilised man.

It is agreed that the only way to see anything
of this sort is the old one — live on half-a-crown a
day and earn it. This introduced me to all the fun
of the fair last time, including the starvation bout,
which now, in retrospect, is no hardship, but
simply a new sauce. So I have found another
billet, with the help of my good friends, and —
once more — here I am.

It is wonderful how I have dropped into the
old life again. I might say, in paraphrase of the
o 209

No. 5 John Street

returning Louis xviii., * Nothing is changed ;
there is only a covey the more.' Their good
breeding is perfect. Not a question. I darkly
hint at * a barney ' in the provinces. It is enough
for them, as it is enough for me.

Little Nance, the chum and room-mate of Tilda,
found my present crib for me, or, at any rate, put
me in the way of it. She has lost her livelihood
in the sweetmeat trade, and has gone into a
rubber factory. The rubber factory wanted a gate
clerk, and I got the job. None may come and
none may go without passing me for entry in the
books. My finger is on the pulse of the machine.

It is a jolly party. We talk of old days, old
friends. Holy Joe, I hear, is much the same — a
shade weaker, a shade grumpier than usual, that 's
all. His work as caller-up is falling off a bit, but
he has other resources. ' Does the Jew's Poker,
Saturdays,' says Low Covey, ' though it 's a poor
lay summer-time.' I have grown rusty, I fear,
in my friend's idiom, and I am obliged to ask for
explanations. They are courteously given. A
Jew's Poker is a Christian person who attends to
Jewish fires on the Sabbath-day.

My friends are in great form. The Jubilee
spirit is upon them. They are all for mirth and
junketings. The streets, busy with the toil of
pleasure, excite them. They discuss routes,
stations, schemes of decorative art, cost of timber
for the stands, its place of origin, its ultimate
destination as firewood and matches, the future
state of the red cloth hanging from the balconies,


No. 5 John Street

rumours of fabulous prices paid for places, of out-
landish arrivals in town, 'black as your 'at.'
Above all, they discuss their rulers, and the en-
tire polity under which they live. The Jubilee
has thrust this subject on their notice ; and it has
the same benefit of the advertisement that Pro-
vidence derives from an occasional earthquake in
its manifestations to busy men.

I wish I had one of the outlandish envoys to
complete the party. Then I might learn which
knew least of the Jubilee — the black man or pre-
sent company. It would be impossible, I should
say, to surpass our ignorance of the whole signi-
ficance of the pageant. We know that somebody
has reigned over us for sixty years, and that is
about all. We apprehend the mysterious entity
as a realised absolute of all desirable things —
wealth, power, irresponsibility, good eating and
drinking, and the right to lie abed as late as you
like in the morning. We are not hostile to it ;
we are not loyal to it ; our longing to enjoy its
supposed privilege of doing ' as it damn pleases '
makes it almost holy in our eyes. The sheer
wonder of its existence, and its attributes, pre-
cludes both love and hate. It is not so much a
personage as it is ' The Government.* And we
think of this as the savage thinks of the white
man, or as Caliban of his lord — as a creature
of magical power, but very cold, cruel, and un-
principled at heart. We should like to have
Prospero's luck at the cost of his failings. But
there is no chance.


No. 5 John Street

Power! Power! Power! the joy of living
according to appetite and whim ! Low Covey,
who is our principal spokesman, has endless
anecdote on this point. He is particularly deep
in that lore of tradition which serves his set for
history, philosophy, morals, poetry, and the whole
subjective view of life, and still renders them
independent of books. His grandfather loafed
about outside a public-house at the back of St.
James's Street; and there, down to the time of
his retirement to the workhouse, he received the
news of the Court. Low Covey sat at his grand-
father's knee, and heard all the fables of the
tribe on Government and Institutions, Nature
and Man. If Low Covey has children, these
fables will be transmitted to them, with accretions,
as the basis of a working theory of life. They
are no less preposterous when they concern the
' R'yal Famerly ' than the fables about the early

The grandfather was a link between the
Regency and the Victorian age — ' 'E see the
Prince Regent a goin' to be crowned, 'e did,' says
Low Covey. * Lord, what fights ! This 'ere
Jubilee '11 be nothin' to it. Too many slops
abaht. Why, there was a bit of a turn-up between
the Regent hisself and 'is old woman, Queen
Caroline. She wanted to come and be crowned
too. He wouldn't stick that ; so he gives his
orders, and blessed if they didn't bang the doors
in her face.*

' T'other way on this time o' day,' says Tilda,


No. 5 John Street

bridling with the pride of sex, ' The Queen 's
the master now.'

* She had to fight for it though,' says Mammy,
* Queen as she was. The Prince — Prince — what
d' ye call 'im ? '

* Concert ? ' suggests Low Covey.

* That 's it. Well, he was like all the men ; he
tried it on. Wanted to stay out's late as he
chose, and 'ave 'is latch-key, and sichlike. She
soon put a stop to thet.'

* How did she do it ? '

' Kep' 'im out one time all the blessed night,
an' left 'im to cool 'is 'eels in the Green Park.'

' Garn ! '

' Fack. It was like this : says she, " You 've
got to come 'ome at 'alf-past 'leven, like other
people's 'usbands ; an' if you don't, you '11 find
the gates o' this 'ere pallis closed." He takes it
as if it was a good joke, and nex' night back he
comes at 'alf-past twelve. But the sentry stops

* " Let me pass, feller," says he. " I 'm the
Prince Concert."

' " I 'm the Queen's Guard," says the sojer, not
a bit afride. "Them's the orders on the slate."
He nivver did it agyne.'

Tilda {in sheer admiration). ' Oh, carry me
out, an' let me die ! '

Low Covey. ' They kin do as they like, an' no
mistike. Old George the Fourth used to wake
up 'ungry in the middle of the night and ring for
anythink he fancied. There it was. Cooks sittin'


No. 5 John Street

up all the blessed time to get it ready for 'im, 'ot
an' 'ot. If it warn't ready, he give the shove to
the 'ole shoot.'

Mammy. ' Ah, and 'ad a beautiful place too at
Brighton, an' carried on jest the sime there.'

Low Covey {not to he taken unawares).
' Pavilion — same nime as the music 'all. Used
to drive 'isself down. Dropped 'is whip one day.
My ole gran'father's brother-in-law picked it up.
Chucked him a dollar — jest like tuppence to you
or me. Wanted for nothin' in this world — prize-
fightin', cock-fightin', an' 'ad the chalky gout.
'Oly Moses ! what points he could ha' given the
Prince o' Wiles ! I sometimes fancies I 'ears 'em
talkin' together — blessed if I don't!— jest as I
might be 'earin' o' you naow.'

I listen with strained ear, in the wild hope
of an imaginary conversation beside which
all the others will be as nought. The hope is

* He wouldn't ha' thought nothin' o' the Prince
o* Wiles,' continues Low Covey, toying with his
subject, and then, suddenly coming to the grip :
'"D'ye call that goin' on the batter.'*" I kin
fancy 'im sayin', when the other was braggin' o'
one of 'is larks. "D'ye know what I call it?
I call it goin' out wuth the governiss. Ever bin
to the Fives Court } "

*"No, uncle."

* "Thought not. Ridin' on a fire-injin — that's
abaht your form. I s'pose, now, you niver rid a
steeplechase by moonlight in your nightcap and


No. 5 John Street

stockin' feet? You wouldn't do sich a thing.
Oh, no ! "

' " No, uncle."

' " Good boy ! They '11 tike yer to the Slogical
Gardings next half-hollerday ; an' don't forgit
the buns. Bartholomew Fair 's all gone, I s'pose,
and so 's the old watch-'ouse, top of the Hay-
markit, I dessay."

' "Yes, uncle."

' " All layin' o' foundation-stones now, and mind
yer bring yer wife. An' back to town same night
for a meetin' o' the R'yal Sersiety."

' "Yes, uncle."

' " I s'pose you don't know what sort o' cattle
used to run at Tenterden Park Races ? "

"'No, uncle."

* " ' Yes, uncle,' ' No, uncle.' D'ye know what
I call yer ? Yah ! " '

But the inspiration ceases all too soon, and
Low Covey is the bloke again. ' Ah, they was
'igh old times!' is his final word. His brief
excursion into imaginative literature was precious
while it lasted, though far too short. It served
to set forth his conviction that an unbridled riot
of the senses for the upper classes has its econo-
mic uses for their inferiors. The crumbs of licence
that fall from the gent's table make a debauch for
the pore cove. Had I to lecture to Low Covey
from the platform of a university settlement, with
a view to his pleasure rather than his edification,
I think I should take * High Old Times of His-
tory' for my theme. He once complained bitterly


No. 5 John Street

to me that our forefathers, as represented on the
lecture platform, never seemed to enj'y them-
selves — * so cold-like.' He meant that they were
kept so unceasingly engaged on the framework of
the British constitution that they had no time for
skittles or beer. I should read comforting pas-
sages to him from the wicked periods — the Italy
of the Renaissance, the Rome of the decline —
to show that neither national misfortunes nor
spiritual regeneration need ever spoil the fun of
the fair.

* My Gawd ! won't them chaps from the Colly-
nies 'ave the kick ! ' he observes, in allusion to
their entertainment at the public expense. ' The
Gover'ment's took a 'otel for the toffs. Eat
an' drink as much as yer like, an' never mind
the bill. Sime thing for the other chaps like
you an me ; Chelsea Barricks, fare out an'

Tilda. ' Where 's the Collynies ? '

Low Covey (decisively). ' Other sahd o' the
sea. Reg'lar bunch of 'em. 'Arf as big agin as
this 'ere country ; and this is a pretty big 'un, I
kin tell yer, if yer try to walk through.'

Tilda. ' I see a joskin from the Collynies t'other
dye — a sojer he wuz, felt 'at and a feather.
White as you or me. I thought they was all
black men.'

Covey. ' It 's this wye. Them as goes out from
this country is the colour o' Christians at the start.
Then they turns black in course o' time. It 's the
sun. Briles 'em like.'


No. 5 John Street

Tilda. • And is their kids born black ? Oh,
I sye!'

Covey {with some uncertainty of touch). ' Sort
o' kauphy colour fust go off. You seen that little
mehogany-faced chap as does the clog dance at
the Pav. ? Well, he's a Collynies.'

Tilda. ' The Queen's whitey-brown 'osses —
do they come from there ? *

Covey. ' No, that's nature.'

Tilda. * They sye somebody 's give 'er a para-
sole worth four 'undred pound. Oh, golly ! 'ow
d' ye like me now ? '

Nance. ' Gold 'andle with diminds and real
lace. I see about it in the piper.'

Tilda. ' I wonder 'ow much she 'd be wuth as
she stands, jest in 'er Sunday cloze. I don't
mean 'er furniture and the money she's got in
the box. Thousand pound, I dessay.'

Covey. 'Git out. Why, there 'ssome Duchisses
wuth more than that. That s why they always
has so many lobsters an' bobbies abaht. Some-
body 'ud snatch 'er — lay your life — if they let 'er
out by 'erself.'

Tilda. ' Won't it be fine to see the sojers on
'orseback ? I hope it 's the Reds.'

Covey. * My fancy is for the chaps from the
ships. Goin' to bring their guns with 'em.
Shoot four mile. That 's what licks the
foriners so, when we're a takin' their countries.
Picks 'em off afore they kin come near.
Foriners can't make them tools. 'Ain't got the


No. 5 John Street

Tilda, ' They kin make fancy boots though —
you lay yer life.'

Covey {with some disdain). * Oh ! They 're all
right fur them tastey sort o' things. I dessye.'

Tilda. ' Then what business 'a we got to go
and shoot 'em ? '

Covey. ' 'Ow are yer goin' to git your tea and
sugar .'* 'T all comes from there.'

Tilda (evading the point). ' There don't seem
much 'arm in 'em as I see. Lots on 'em at the
circus. Comes to buy flowers. Takes off their
'ats sometimes. One juggins called me " Mad-
myzel " t' other dye, an' made signs that he
wanted to 'ave the flower pinned jest over 'is
bloomin' 'art.'

Nance. ' A foriner spoke to me one dye. Sech
pretty broken English ! Like a biby.'

Tilda. ' Git out, yer blessed little cake. What
do you know about foriners ? If ever I ketch yer
messin' abaht wi' any o' them, I '11 sling 'im one
in the eye.'

Nance {tearfully). ' I didn't sye I 'ad nothin'
to sye to 'im. I only passed the remark.'

Covey. ' It depends upon the sort o' foriner.
Amerikins is all right. Very free with their
money. Don't seem able to reckin below six-
pence. Bob for fetchin' a cab sometimes. Theirs
is a big country too — bigger than ours ; but we
make it up in the trimmins like. Someo' them's
comin' over. They ain't got no kings or queens.
Sort o' chairman elected by a vote o' thanks.
Don't want nothin' fetched for 'em when they 're


No. 5 John Street

at 'ome ; everything in the 'ouse by telegraph.
It must be a 'ard country for the pore.'
Nance. ' Then ther 's Germans.'
Covey. 'Yah! Gimme a drink neat.'
Nance. * An' Chinymen. Ever see that lot ? '
Covey. ' Never see nothink else if you 're doin'
a job at the docks. They 're fly, and no mistike.
Pretends to wear petticoats : got bags on under-
neath. Well, what with one an' the other on
'em the coin '11 change 'ands. Reckon we mike
our expenses, at any rate.'

On the departure of the ladies, his talk becomes
more intimate and confidential. He asks for my
news during the interval of my supposed absence
from the capital, and gives me his. His assump-
tion that I have been doing something more or
less dishonest is not in the least offensive, since he
is perfectly willing to accept the same imputation
on his own account. He would be best defined,
perhaps, as an odd jobber of the criminal class.
His photograph, I should say, is not in the national
portrait gallery at Scotland Yard, but it is on its
way. He ' does a bit ' now and then in illegality,
when hard pressed by the want of bread or the
want of beer. His craving is for movement,
variety, colour in life. Fairs, race-meetings,
pleasurable gatherings of all sorts are his favourite
scenes of activity, wherein the day provides for
the day, and the day's work varies from the

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