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lour, smelling infamously of gin, where the first object I beheld was Jemmy Downes, sitting before the fire, three-parts drunk, with a couple of dirty, squalling children on the hearth-rug, whom he was kicking and cuffing alternately.
Och, thin, ye villain, bating the poor darlints whinever I lave ye a minute!' and pouring out a volley of Irish curses, she caught up the urchins, one under each arm, and kissed and hugged them till they were nearly choked. • Och, ye plague o' my life! As drunk as a baste; an' I brought home this darlint of a young gentleman to help ye in the business.
Downes got up, and, steadying himself by the table, leered at me with lack-lustre eyes, and attempted a little ceremonious politeness. How this was to end I did not see; but I was determined to carry it through, on the chance of success, infinitely small as that might be.
· A' l've towld him thirty shillings a week's the least he'll earn; and charges for board and lodging only seven shillings.'
• Thirty !-she lies ; she's always a lying; don't you mind her. Fiveand-forty' is the werry lowest figure. Ask my respectable and most piousest partner, Shemei Solomons. Why, blow me, it's Locke!'
· Yes, it is Locke; and surely you're my old friend, Jemmy Downes ? Shake hands. What an unexpected pleasure to meet you again!
• Werry unexpected pleasure. Tip us your daddle! De-lighted, delighted, as I was saying, to be of the least use to yer. Take a caulker? Summut heavy, then ? No? "Tak’ a drap o' kindness yet, for auld langsyne?"
•You forget I was always a teetotaller.'
* Ay,' with a look of unfeigned pity. An' you're a going to lend us a hand? Oh, ah, perhaps you'd like to begin? Here's a most beautiful uniform, now, for a markis in her Majesty's Guards; we don't mention names—tarn't business like. P’rhaps you'd like best to work here tonight, for company- for auld langsyne, my boys ;' and I'll introduce you to the gents up-stairs to-morrow.'
* No,' I said, “I'll go up at once, if you've no objection.'
• Och, thin, but the sheets isn't aired—10—faix; and I'm thinking the gentlemen as is a going isn't gone yet.'
But I insisted on going up at once; and, grumbling, she followed me. I stopped on the landing of the second floor, and asked which way; and, seeing her in no hurry to answer, opened a door, inside which I heard the hum of many voices, saying, in as sprightly a tone as I could muster, that I supposed that was the workroom. As I had expected, a fetid, choking den, with just room enough in it for the seven or eight sallow, starved beings, who, coatless, shoeless, and ragged, sat stitching, each on his truckle-bed. I glanced round; the man whom I sought was not there. My heart fell; why it had ever risen to such a pitch of hope, I cannot tell; and half cursing myself for a fool, in thus wildly thrusting my head into a squabble, I turned back and shut the door, saying—A very pleasant room, ma'am, but a leetle too crowded.'
Before she could answer, the opposite door opened; and a face appeared—unwashed, unshaven, shrunken to a skeleton. I did not recognise it at first.
* Blessed Vargen! but that wasn't your voice, Locke?'
* And who are you?'
My first impulse was to catch him up in my arms, and run down stairs with him. I controlled myself, however, not knowing how far he might be in his tyrant's power. But his voluble Irish heart burst out at once- - Oh! blessed saints, take me out o' this!-take me out, for the love of Jesus !—take me out o’this hell, or I'll go mad intirely! Och! will nobody have pity on poor sowls in purgatory—here in prison like negur slaves! We're starved to the bone, we are, and kilt intirely with cowld. And as he clutched my arm, with his long, skinny, trembling fingers, I saw that his hands and feet were all chapped and bleeding. Neither shoe nor stocking did he possess; his only garments were a ragged shirt and trousers; and—and, in horrible mockery of his own misery, a grand new flowered satin vest, which to-morrow was to figure in some gorgeous shop-window! «Och! Mother of Heaven !' he went on, wildly, when will I get out to the fresh air? For five months, I haven't seen the blessed light of sun, nor spoken to the praste, nor ate a bit o' mate, barring bread-and-butter. Shure, its all the blessed Sabbaths and saints' days I've been a-working like a haythen Jew, and niver seen the insides o' the chapel, to confess my sins, and me poor sowl's lost intirely-and they've pawned the relaver* this fifteen weeks, and not a boy of us iver sot foot in the street since.'
· Vot's that row ?' roared at this juncture Downes's voice from below. • Och, thin,' shrieked the woman, 'here's that thief o' the warld, Micky Kelly, slandhering o' us before the blessed heaven, and he owe ing £2:14: _d, for his board an' lodgin', let alone pawn-tickets, and goin' to rin away, the black-hearted ongrateful sarpent!' And she began yelling indiscriminately . Thieves! murder!' blasphemy!' and such other ejaculations, which (the English ones at least) had not the slightest reference to the matter in hand.
* I'll come to him!' said Downes, with an oath, and rushed stumbling up the stairs, while the poor wretch sneaked in again, and slammed the door too. Downes battered at it, but was met with a volley of curses from the men inside ; while, proiiting by the Babel, I blew out the light, ran down stairs, and got safe into the street."
In a few hours, Mike Kelly, Crossth waite's brother-in-law, and young Porter, are rescued ; but the other poor wretches, though offered their liberty, preferred to go back to toil and die in the sweater's den. The old man and his son went home next day, promising Locke, if he would come to see them,"twa hundert acres of the best partridge-shooting, and wild ducks as plenty as sparrows; and to live in clover till he burst, if he liked.”
Our hero is carried away, notwithstanding certain cautions administered by his old friend, Sandy Mackaye, in homely, but strong “dawrick," as he called it, with a newly-arrived preacher of the Emersonian school. He struggles with the slavery of the press, and refuses to prostitute his talents to the vile purposes of unscrupulous party rage and malice. Circumstances bring him again into connection with his cousin,
A coat kept by the coatless wretches in tliese sweaters' dungeons, to be used by each of them in turn when they want to go out.
who is now discovered to be a rival. Meanwhile, Alton loses influence with the working men, is strongly suspected of leaning to the aristocracy, and is hooted from democratic meetings. Determined to redeem his character, he volunteers to go to the country, where a rising among the peasantry was expected, as a deputation from the London Chartists, and vehemently claims to be appointed. The gathering is to be in the neighbourhood of Cambridge, and he attends the meeting, of which the following is a graphic description :
“ There were many women among them, talking shrilly, and looking even more pinched and wan than the men. I remarked, also, that many of the crowd carried heavy sticks, pitchforks, and other tools which might be used as fearful weapons-an ugly sign, which I ought to have heeded betimes. They glared with sullen curiosity at me and my Londoner's clothes, as, with no small feeling of self-importance, I pushed my way to the foot of the stone. The man who stood on it, seemed to have been speaking some time. His words, like all I heard that day, were utterly devoid of anything like eloquence or imagination—a dull string of somewhat incoherent complaints, which derived their force only from the intense earnestness which attested their truthfulness. As far as I can recollect, I will give the substance of what I heard; but, indeed, I heard nothing but what has been bandied about from newspaper to newspaper for years-confessed by all parties, deplored by all parties, but never an attempt made to remedy it :
• They farmers makes slaves on us. I can't hear no difference between a Christian and a nigger, except they flogs the niggers and starves the Christians; and I don't know which I'd choose. I served Farmer seven year, off and on, and arter harvest he tells me he's no more work for me, nor my boy nether, acause he's getting too big for him, so he gets a little ’un instead, and we does nothing; and my boy lies about, getting into bad ways, like hundreds more; and then we goes to board, and they bids us go and look for work; and we goes up next part to London. I couldn't get none; they'd enough to do, they said, to employ their own; and we begs our way home, and goes into the Union, and they turns us out again in two or three days, and promises us work again, and gives us two days' gravel-pecking, and then says they has no more for us, and we was sore pinched, and laid a-bed all day; then next board-day we goes to 'em, and they gives us one day more, and that threw us off another week; and then next board-day we goes into the Union again for three days, and gets sent out again: and so I've been starving one half of the time, and they putting us off and on o' purpose like that; and I'll bear it no longer, and that's what I says.'
He came down, and a tall, powerful, well-fed man, evidently in his Sunday smock-frock and clean yellow leggings, got up and began:-I hav'n't no complaint to make about myself. I've a good master, and the parson's a right kind ’un, and that's more than all can say, and the squire's a real gentleman; and my master, he don't need to lower his wages. I gets my ten shillings a-week all the year round, and harvesting, and a pig, and a ’lotment and that's just why I come here. If I can get it, why can't you?'
''Cause our masters baint like yourn.'
"No, by George, there baint no money round here away like that, I can tell you.'
* And why aint they ?' continued the speaker. “There's the shame on it. There's my master can grow five quarters, where yourn only grows three; and so he can live and pay like a man, and so he say he don't care for free trade. You know, as well as I, that there's not half o'the land round here grows what it ought. They aint no money to make it grow more, and, besides, they wont employ no hands to keep it clean. I come across more weeds in one field here, than I've seen for nine year on our farm. Why arn’t some o' you a-getting they weeds up? It 'ud pay 'em to farm better and they knows that, but they're too lazy; if they can just get a living off the land, they don't care; and they'd sooner save money out of your wages, than save it by growing more corn: its easier for 'em, it is. There's the work to be done, and they wont let you do it. There's you crying out for work, and work crying out for you, and nether of you can get to the other. I say that's a shame, I do. I say a poor man's a slave. He daren't leave his parish —nobody wont employ him, as can employ his own folk. And if he stays in his parish, it's just a chance whether he gets a good master or a bad ’un. He can't choose, and that's a shame, it is. Why should he go starving because his master don't care to do the best by the land ? If they can't till the land, I say, let them get out of it, and let them work it as can. And I think as we ought all to sign a petition to Government, to tell 'em all about it; though I don't see as how they could help us, unless they'd make a law to force the squires to put in nobody to a farm as hadn't money to work it fairly.'
I says,' said the next speaker, a poor fellow whose sentences were continually broken by a hacking cough, just what he said. If they can't till the land, let them do it as can. But they wont; they wont let us have a scrap on it, though we'd pay’em more for it nor ever they'd make for themselves. But they says it'ud make us too independent, if we had an acre or so o' land; and so it ’ud, for they. And so I says as he did—they want to make slaves on us altogether, just to get the flesh and bones off us at their own price. Look you at this here down. If I had an acre on it to make a garden on, I'd live well with my wages, off and on. Why, if this here was in garden, it'ud be worth twenty, forty times, o' that it be now. And last spring I lays out o' work from Christmas till barley-sowing, and I goes to the farmer and axes for a bit a land to dig and plant a few potatoes, and he says— You be d_d! If you're minding your garden after hours, you'll not be fit to do a proper day's work for me in hours; and I shall want you by-and-by, when the weather breaks' (for it was frost most bitter, it was). And if you gets potatoes, you'll be getting a pig-and then you'll want straw, and meat to fat 'un—and then I'll not trust you in my barn, I can tell ye;' and so there it was. And if I'd had only one half acre of this here very down as we stands on, as isn't worth five shillings a-year—and I'd a given ten shillings for it-my belly wouldn't a' been empty now. Oh, they be dogs in the manger, and the Lord 'll reward 'em therefor! First they says they can't afford to work the land 'emselves, and then they waint let us work it ether. Then they says prices is so low, they can't keep us on, and so they lowers our wages; and then when prices goes up ever so much, our wages don't go up with 'em. So, high prices or low prices, it's all the same. With the one, we can't buy bread, and with the other, we can't get work. I don't mind free trade—not I: to be sure, if the loaf's cheap, we shall be ruined; but if the loaf's dear, we shall be starved—and for that, we is starved now. Nobody don't care for us; for my part, I don't much care for myself. A man must die some time or other. Only I thinks if we could some time or other just see the queen once, and tell her all about it, she'd take our part, and not see us put upon like that, I do.'
• Gentlemen!' cried my guide, the shoemaker, in a somewhat conceited and dictatorial tone, as he skipped up by the speaker's side, and gently shouldered him, 'it an't like the ancient times as I've read of, when any poor man as had a petition could come promiscuously to the king's royal presence, and put it direct into his own hand, and be treated like a gentleman. Don't you know as how they locks up the queen now-a-days, and never lets a poor soul come anear her, lest she should hear the truth of all their iniquities? Why, they never lets her stir out without a lot o' dragoons with drawn swords, riding all around her; and if you dared to go up to her to ax mercy, whoot! they'd chop your head off before you could say, * Please your majesty.' And then the hypocrites say as it's to keep her from being frightened—and that's true for its frightened she'd be, with a vengeance, if she knowed all that they grand folks make poor labourers suffer, to keep themselves in power and great glory. I tell ye, 'tarnt perpracticable, at all, to ax the queen for anything; she's afeard of her life on 'em. You just take my advice, and sign a round-robin to the squires; you tell 'em as you're willing to till the land for 'em, if they'll let you. There's draining and digging enough to be done as ’ud keep ye all in work, arn't there?'
• Ay, ay; there's lots o' work to be done, if so be we could get at it. Everybody knows that.'
• Well, you tell 'em that. Tell 'em here's hundreds and hundreds of ye starving, and willing to work; and then tell 'em, if they wont find ye work, they shall find ye meat. There's lots o' victuals in the larders now; haven't you as good a right to it as their jackanapes o' footmen ? The squires is at the bottom of it all. What do you stupid fellows go grumbling at the farmers for? Don't they squires tax the land twenty or thirty shillings an acre? and what do they do for that? The best of 'em, if he gets five thousand a-year out o' the land, don't give back five hundred in charity, or schools, or poor-rates; and what's that to speak of? And the main of 'em-curse 'em!- they drains the money out o' the land, and takes it up to London, or into foreign parts, to spend on fine clothes and fine dinners; or throws it away at elections, to make folks beastly drunk, and sell their souls for money, and we gets no good on it. I'll tell you what it's come to, my men—that we can't afford no more landlords. We can't afford 'em, and that's the truth of it!' The crowd growled a dubious assent.
Oh, yes, you can grumble at the farmers, acause you deals with them first-hand ; but you be too stupid to do aught but hunt by sight. I be an old dog, and I hunts cunning. I sees farther than my nose, I does. I larnt politics in London when I was a 'prentice, and I aint forgotten the plans of it. Look you here. The farmers, they say they