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Then there are the area-sneaks, familiarly so
called: why should not this race become obsolete?
There is a large class of men who go about our
quieter streets and suburban roads, with a handful
of workboxes and baskets, which they carry as
a blind. Who has not seen them looking first
up, and then down, the road, to see that the
coast is clear, and then slipping, in a furtive
manner, in at the garden-gate, or stooping down
at the bars of the area and addressing the cook
as "marm." We have too many ragamuffins
about our streets. Our population of Lazzaroni
is something prodigious. During the time that
the Exhibition was open, we all observed that
quite a distinct class of beings sprung into
existence, to act as middle-men between the public
in want of cabs, and the cabmen in want of fares.
These cab-openers were of all ages and sizes, and
were characterised by every degree of greasiness
and dirt attainable by mankind. Never was
anything like their frouziness, their infernal, and
tormenting importunity. They ran by your side,
they got in your way on the pavement, they dashed
off into the road, and waylaid cabs which were
destined for other services. Might was right,
and the boy cab-opener who had secured a
vehicle for a party of country-folks, had to give
it up to the adolescent cab-opener, while he in
turn gave way before the menaces of the grown-up
ruffian. To call a cab yourself, to open the
door yourself or let the driver do it for you, was
a thing impossible. Now, what has become of
these vagabonds? What were they before the
Exhibition opened? What are they now? The
Exhibition has closed just as the long nights are
coming on just at the commencement of the
garotting season.

Every public court, great or small, from a
horse-sale at Aldridge's to a general illumination,
discloses the enormous Lazzaroni force we allow
of in London. Members of that force seem to
spring up out of the pavement, if there be a row
in the street, if a passer-by have a fit, or if a
horse tumble down and decline to get up again.
Is it altogether satisfactory and comfortable that
this class should be such a large one? Above
all, is it right that there should be so many
boys belonging to it? Is the ragamuffin boy
likely to grow up a steady and industrious workman?

One cannot take a man up for lying throughout
the day in Hyde Park, or for having an ill-looking
countenance, or for standing about in a
suspicious manner at the corners of streets. The
stripes upon these tigers are not sufficiently
developed yet, for us to be justified in putting
them under lock and key. But there are far too
many unmistakable Bengals, known to be such
by every glazed hat in the Metropolitan police-
force. Let us get them inside the menagerie at
any rate, and keep them there. We have got rid
of the wolves out of all the forests and moorlands
of England; why in Heaven's name should
we not also get rid of the tigers which in such
terrible numbers infest the jungles of the
metropolis? There is a law for sending a notorious
thief and vagabond to prison when he is found at
large. You have a costly police-force who know
where to find him at large, every hour in every
day of every week of every year. Unrelentingly
and remorselessly then, Sir JOSHUA JEBB or
whosoever else to the contrary notwithstanding,
behind the bars with him!

There is no doubt that, in this matter of
protection, we tax-payers do not get our money's
worth for our money. Unfortunately it is not
with a government as with a joint-stock company,
from which one can withdraw one's subscription
if the object professed to be carried out, be not
carried out. We pay very handsomely to be
protected in the transaction of our careful business
and pleasure; and if the Home Secretary or
Police Commissioner for the time being fail in
his contract, we have no opposition establishment
to go over to. Our case is surely a hard one.
The approved modern and polite principle of
governingwhich is to take your money for
governing you and leave it to you in all difficulties
to govern yourselvesscarcely obtains here.
You may not keep revolvers and sword-sticks by
you, and may not feel disposed to bring them
into common use if you do. It has been
ascertained by the highest authorities that to do
nothing is the sublimest art of government generally
but in this humble particular of squeezing
our valuables out of our pockets and our blood
out at our eyes, in the shadow of our doorways,
may it not be reasonablethough vulgar, no
doubtto do some trifling piece of work? I ask
the question with diffidence, remembering that
the Conductor of this Journal, a dozen years
ago, when he took the liberty of pointing out
what "Pet Prisoners" were coming to,* was
severely mauled at the hands of certain Reverend
Ordinaries. Still, to say the truth, the present
chronicler of Small-Beer has this idiosyncrasy
that he prefers a spiritual to a bodily mauling;
and that he will accept the former with meekness,
on condition of being defended from the

* See Household Words, volume i., page 97.


MIMER, the hammerman strong of arm, brawny of
    limb, and rugged of brow,
Stalwart to forge the Norseman's steel, the sword,
    the spear, but never the plough
Had, after years of care and thought, of heat and
    sweat, and grappling pain,
Beat out a suit of dose-linked mail to guard King
    Siegfried's heart and brain.

Massive it was and firmly knit, a horse's load, at
Fit to resist the Saxon's axe, and the fang and claw
    of beast;
Against it spears were bulrushes, and arrows but oat
Twas made for men who mocked at swords, and cared
    not for the laws.