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THE PRAISE OF CHIMNEY-SWEEPERS.
I LIKE to meet a sweep-understand me- of kibed heels (no unusual accompaniment) not a grown sweeper-old chimney-sweepers be superadded, the demand on thy humanity are by no means attractive-but one of those will surely rise to a tester. 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 aërial ascents not seldom anticipating the sun-rise ?
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 of 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," on the southside of Fleet-street, as thou approachest
I have a kindly yearning toward these dim specks-poor blots-innocent blacknesses
I reverence these young Africans of our own growth-these almost clergy imps, who sport their cloth without assumption; and Bridge-street-the only Salopian house—I
from their little pulpits (the tops of chimneys,)
have never yet adventured to dip my own
I know not by what particular conforma-
When a child, what a mysterious pleasure it was to witness their operation! 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 imagination, as he went sounding on through so many dark stifling caverns, 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 day-light-and chimney-sweeper-whether the oily particles then (O fulness of delight!) running out of (sassafras is slightly oleaginous) do attenuate doors, to come just in time to see the sable and soften the fuliginous concretions, which phenomenon emerge in safety, the brandished are sometimes found (in dissections) to adhere weapon of his art victorious like some flag to the roof of the mouth in these unfledged waved over a conquered citadel! I seem to practitioners; or whether Nature, sensible remember having been told, that a bád sweep that she had mingled too much of bitter wood was once left in a stack with his brush, to in the lot of these raw victims, caused to indicate which way the wind blew. It was grow out of the earth her sassafras for a an awful spectacle certainly; not much sweet lenitive-but so it is, that no possible unlike the old stage direction in Macbeth, taste or odour to the senses of a young where the "Apparition of a child crowned, chimney-sweeper can convey a delicate exwith a tree in his hand, rises." citement comparable to this mixture. Being penniless, they will yet hang their black heads over the ascending steam, to gratify
Reader, if thou meetest one of these small gentry in thy early rambles, it is good to give him a penny. It is better to give him two-one sense if possible, seemingly no less pence. If it be starving weather, and to the pleased than those domestic animals-catsproper troubles of his hard occupation, a pair when they purr over a new-found sprig of
valerian. There is something more in these sympathies than philosophy can inculcate.
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 imitators, 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 resume the premature soot-inflamed, yet twinkling through all with
such a joy, snatched out of desolation, that Hogarth but Hogarth has got him already (how could he miss him?) in the March to Finchley, grinning at the pieman
labours of the day, jostle, not unfrequently to the manifest disconcerting of the former, for the honours of the pavement. It is the time when, in summer, between the expired and the not yet relumined kitchen-fires, the kennels of our fair metropolis give forth their least satisfactory odours. The rake, who-with such a maximum of glee, and minimum wisheth to dissipate his o'ernight vapours in more grateful coffee, curses the ungenial fume, as he passeth; but the artisan stops to taste, and blesses the fragrant breakfast.
there he stood, as he stands in the picture, irremovable, as if the jest was to last for ever
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 honour of a gentleman might endure it, to have remained his butt and his mockery till midnight.
This is saloop-the precocious herb-woman's darling-the delight of the early gardener, who transports his smoking cabbages by I am by theory obdurate to the seductivebreak of day from Hammersmith to Covent-ness of what are called a fine set of teeth. garden's famed piazzas-the delight, and oh! | Every pair of rosy lips (the ladies must I fear, too often the envy, of the unpennied pardon me) is a casket presumably holding sweep. Him shouldst thou haply encounter, such jewels; but, methinks, they should take with his dim visage pendent over the grateful leave to "air" them as frugally as possible. steam, regale him with a sumptuous basin The fine lady, or fine gentleman, who show (it will cost thee but three-halfpennies) and a me their teeth, show me bones. Yet must I slice of delicate bread and butter (an added confess, that from the mouth of a true sweep halfpenny)—so may thy culinary fires, eased a display (even to ostentation) of those white of the o'er-charged secretions from thy worse- and shining ossifications, strikes me as an placed hospitalities, curl up a lighter volume agreeable anomaly in manners, and an allowto the welkin-so may the descending soot able piece of foppery. It is, as when never taint thy costly well-ingredienced soups-nor the odious cry, quick-reaching from street to street, of the fired chimney, invite the rattling engines from ten adjacent parishes, to disturb a casual scintillation thy peace and pocket!
precipitation when I walk 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 exquisiteness 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
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, doubtless, under the obI am by nature extremely susceptible of scuring darkness and double night of their street affronts; the jeers and taunts of the forlorn disguisement, oftentimes lurketh good populace; the low-bred triumph they display blood, and gentle conditions, derived from over the casual trip, or splashed stocking, of lost ancestry, and a lapsed pedigree. The a gentleman. Yet can I endure the jocularity premature apprenticements of these tender of a young sweep with something more than victims give but too much encouragement, forgiveness. In the last winter but one, I fear, to clandestine and almost infantile pacing along Cheapside with my accustomed abductions; the seeds of civility and true
courtesy, so often discernible in these young grafts (not otherwise to be accounted for) plainly hint at some forced adoptions; many noble Rachels 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 solitary instance of good fortune out of many irreparable and hopeless defiliations.
such sheets as he there found, into which he was now but creeping back as into his proper incunabula, and resting-place.-By no other theory than by this sentiment of a preexistent state (as I may call it), can I explain a deed so venturous, and, indeed, upon any other system, so indecorous, in this tender, but unseasonable, sleeper.
My pleasant friend JEM WHITE was so impressed with a belief of metamorphoses In one of the state-beds at Arundel Castle, like this frequently taking place, that in some a few years since-under a ducal canopy-sort to reverse the wrongs of fortune in these (that seat of the Howards is an object of poor changelings, he instituted an annual curiosity to visitors, chiefly for its beds, in feast of chimney-sweepers, at which it was which the late duke was especially a connois- his pleasure to officiate as host and waiter. seur)—encircled with curtains of delicatest It was a solemn supper held in Smithfield, crimson, with starry coronets inwoven- upon the yearly return of the fair of St. folded between a pair of sheets whiter and Bartholomew. Cards were issued a week softer than the lap where Venus lulled before to the master-sweeps in and about the Ascanius-was discovered by chance, after metropolis, confining the invitation to their all methods of search had failed, at noon-day, younger fry. Now and then an elderly fast asleep, a lost chimney-sweeper. The stripling would get in among us, and be goodlittle creature, having somehow confounded naturedly winked at; but our main body his passage among the intricacies of those were infantry. One unfortunate wight, lordly chimneys, by some unknown aperture indeed, who, relying upon his dusky suit, had alighted upon this magnificent chamber; had intruded himself into our party, but by and, tired with his tedious explorations, was tokens was providentially discovered in time unable to resist the delicious invitement to to be no chimney-sweeper, (all is not soot repose, which he there saw exhibited; so which looks so,) was quoited out of the creeping between the sheets very quietly, presence with universal indignation, as nct laid his black head upon the pillow, and slept having on the wedding garment; but in like a young Howard. general the greatest harmony prevailed. The Such is the account given to the visiters place chosen was a convenient spot among at the Castle. But I cannot help seeming to the pens, at the north side of the fair, not so perceive a confirmation of what I had just far distant as to be impervious to the agree hinted at in this story. A high instinct able hubbub of that vanity; but remote was at work in the case, or I am mistaken. enough not to be obvious to the interruption Is it probable that a poor child of that descrip- of every gaping spectator in it. The guests tion, with whatever weariness he might be assembled about seven. In those little temvisited, would have ventured, under such a porary parlours three tables were spread penalty as he would be taught to expect, to with napery, not so fine as substantial, and uncover the sheets of a Duke's bed, and at every board a comely hostess presided deliberately to lay himself down between with her pan of hissing sausages. The them, when the rug, or the carpet, presented nostrils of the young rogues dilated at the an obvious couch, still far above his preten- savour. JAMES WHITE, as head waiter, had sions-is this probable, I would ask, if the charge of the first table; and myself, with great power of nature, which I contend for, our trusty companion BIGOD, ordinarily had not been manifested within him, prompt-ministered to the other two. There was ing to the adventure? Doubtless this young clambering and jostling, you may be sure, nobleman (for such my mind misgives me who should get at the first table-for that he must be) was allured by some memory, Rochester in his maddest days could not not amounting to full consciousness, of his have done the humours of the scene with condition in infancy, when he was used to be more spirit than my friend. After some lapped by his mother, or his nurse, in just general expression of thanks for the honour
the company had done him, his inaugural "The King,"-"the Cloth,"-which, whether they understood or not, was equally diverting and flattering;-and for a crowning sentiment, 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
ceremony 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, whereat the universal host would set up a shout that tore the concave, while hundreds of grinning utter, standing upon tables, and prefacing teeth startled the night with their brightness. every sentiment with a "Gentlemen, give O it was a pleasure to see the sable younkers me leave to propose so and so," which was a lick in, the unctuous meat, with his more prodigious comfort to those young orphans; unctuous sayings-how he would fit the tit- every now and then stuffing into his mouth bits to the puny mouths, reserving the (for it did not do to be squeamish on these lengthier links for the seniors-how he occasions) indiscriminate pieces of those would intercept a morsel even in the jaws of reeking sausages, which pleased them some young desperado, declaring it "must mightily, and was the savouriest part, you to the pan again to be browned, for it was may believe, of the entertainment. not fit for a gentleman's eating "-how he would recommend 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 genteely 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 recommendation to wipe the lip before drinking. Then we had our toasts
A COMPLAINT OF THE DECAY OF BEGGARS,
IN THE METROPOLIS.
THE all-sweeping besom of societarian reformation-your 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, bagsstaves, dogs, and crutches-the whole mendicant fraternity, with all their baggage, are fast posting out of the purlieus of this eleventh persecution. From the crowded crossing, from the corners of streets and turnings of alleys, the parting Genius of Beggary is "with sighing sent."
Golden lads and lasses must,
I do not approve of this wholesale going to work, this impertinent crusado, or bellum ad exterminationem, proclaimed against a species. Much good might be sucked from these Beggars.
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.
They were the oldest and the honourablest form of pauperism. Their appeals were to our common nature; less revolting to an ingenuous mind than to be a suppliant to the particular humours or caprice of any fellowcreature, or set of fellow-creatures, 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 livery.
The greatest spirits have felt this in their reverses; and when Dionysius from king turned schoolmaster, do we feel anything towards him but contempt? Could Vandyke have made a picture of him, swaying
a ferula for a sceptre, which would have No one properly contemns a Beggar. Poverty affected our minds with the same heroic is a comparative thing, and each degree of pity, the same compassionate admiration, it is mocked by its "neighbour grice." Its with which we regard his Belisarius begging poor rents and comings-in are soon summed for an obolum? Would the moral have been up and told. Its pretences to property are more graceful, more pathetic? almost ludicrous. Its pitiful attempts to save excite a smile. Every scornful companion can weigh his trifle-bigger purse against it. Poor man reproaches poor man in the street with impolitic mention of his condition, his own being a shade. better, while the rich pass by and jeer at both. No rascally comparative insults a Beggar, or thinks of weighing purses with him. He is not in the scale of comparison. He is not under the measure of property. He confessedly hath none, any more than a dog or a sheep. No one twitteth him with ostentation above his means. No one accuses him of pride, or upbraideth him with mock humility. None jostle 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
In tale or history your Beggar is ever the just antipode to your King. The poets and romancical writers (as dear Margaret New-goes to law with him. If I were not the incastle would call them,) when they would dependent gentleman that I am, rather than most sharply and feelingly paint a reverse of I would be a retainer to the great, a led fortune, never stop till they have brought captain, or a poor relation, I would choose, down their hero in good earnest to rags and out of the delicacy and true greatness of my the wallet. The depth of the descent illus- mind, to be a Beggar. trates the height he falls from. There is no medium which can be presented to the imagination without offence. There is no breaking the fall. Lear, thrown from his palace, must divest him of his garments, till he answer "mere nature;' " and Cresseid, fallen from a prince's love, must extend her pale arms, pale with other whiteness than of beauty, supplicating lazar arms with bell and clap-dish.
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 behind it. He is not required to put on court mourning. He weareth all colours, fearing none. His costume hath undergone less change than the Quaker'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 continueth in one stay. The price of stock or land affecteth him not. The fluctuations of agricultural 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 questioning his religion or politics. He is the only free man in the universe.
The Blind Beggar in the legend—the father of pretty Bessy-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 disguisements -this noble Earl of Cornwall (as indeed he was) and memorable sport of fortune, fleeing from the unjust sentence of his liege lord, stript of all, and seated on the flowering green of Bethnal, with his more fresh and springing daughter by his side, illumining his rags and his beggary-would the child and parent have cut a better figure doing the honours of a counter, or expiating their fallen condition upon the three-foot eminence of some sempstering shop-board?
The Lucian wits knew this very well; and, with a converse policy, when they would express scorn of greatness without the pity, they show us an Alexander in the shades cobbling shoes, or a Semiramis getting up foul linen.
How would it sound in song, that a great monarch had declined his affections upon the daughter of a baker! yet do we feel the imagination at all violated when we read the "true ballad," where King Cophetua woos the beggar maid?
Pauperism, pauper, poor man, are expressions of pity, but pity alloyed with contempt.
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.