+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

is indebted to M. Homberg, who was a
distinguished member of the same commission for
inquiring into the hygiene of public laundries.


TURNING over the leaves of Mr. Thornbury's
Haunted London, with the intention of affording
some notion of its contents to the readers
of these pages, I am so thoroughly haunted
with the London of my own past, that I feel it
impossible to commence the task until my own
ghost has been laid. Perhaps Mr. Thornbury
and other readers, may like to know what a
spectre who has haunted London for five-and-
forty years, remembers about parts of it in his

My mother brought me from the West of
England in the middle of the severe winter
during which the present century glided out of its
teens. At that time, stage-coach travelling was
one of the loudest boasts of this modest country.
Peers horsed, and baronets drove, the "crack"
conveyances of that day. Yet we were a week on
the road in the mail, having been snowed up at a
village on the edge of Salisbury Plain; our
guard perishing in a gallant attempt to push on
with the mail-bags on the back of one of the
leaders. How well I remember the hasty dinners
at the great inns we stopped at on the road;
all alike!—the long table, the big joints, the
invariable pigeon-pie, the selfish scrambling of
the passengers to get their full three-and-
sixpence-worth tucked in in time for the warning
notes of the guard's horn; the tin, thin,
tripod plate-warmer at the fire, the nimble
waiters in white cotton stockings and pumps,
who were constantly wiping plates with napkins
whipped in and out of the side-pockets of
their natty striped jackets. Then, once more
inside the coach, don't I gasp at the recollection
of the smelllike bad nutsoccasioned
by four human beings performing asphixia
upon themselves from prudent dread of "the
night air;" the word ventilation having been
at that time hardly invented? I shiver to
think of the cold blast that woke us two or
three times each night when a change of
coachman forced shilling subscriptions, at the
open door, from each passenger. Shall I
ever forget the awe with which I regarded,
during that tedious journey, the helpful good-
natured fellow-travellera real live Londoner
who told us, modestly, as if it were a mere
common-place, that he had actually spoken
with the Lord Mayor of the City of London,
face to face? Every word he dropped about
London was caught in my eager ear, as
greedily as gold let fall into a miser's purse:
How that trees could actually be seen even in
the City; how that there were one thousand
hackney-coaches allowed by governmentno
more and no less; how that the cries of London
were attuned by act of parliament, and that
milk and mackerel were the only articles
permitted to be cried on Sundays, because of their
perishable nature; how that crossing-sweepers
disguised themselves as noblemen after business
hours, married rich wives whom they
maintained splendidly in suburban palaces ignorant
of their profession, and went to town and
returned home each day with the punctuality
of bank clerks, changing their clothes on the
way to and fro; how that public opinion fell
crushingly upon any person who dared to light
fires or wear a great-coat until the fifth of
November, however soon the winter may set in
before the great bonfire day; how that nobody
could appear out of mourning in Lent, nor
face the world pleasantly at Easter without
bran new clothes; how every country visitor
was bound, within the first week of his
sojourn in London, to ascend St. Paul's and to the
top of the Monument; to inspect the water-
works at London Bridge, the lions in the Tower,
Mr. Crosse's menagerie at Exeter Change, Miss
Linwood's exhibition in Leicester-square, and
Mrs. Salmon's shilling wax-works in Fleet-
street. They must also wait in the narrow
part of the same thoroughfare to see the hour
struck, on the big bells of St. Dunstan's Church,
by the iron giants. All these ideas, with others
derived from a fat little green volume in vogue
before the word "Hand-book" had been
imported from Germany, and known as Leigh's
Picture of London, filled the childish imagination
with a wonder and impatience that
became almost insupportable as the stages
towards the metropolis diminished. In the hazy
twilight of morning congealed breath was
wiped from the windows; and a huge lump
of the mist, densified into shape dimly in the
distance, was pointed out as Windsor Castle.
Then came tearful stories of a blind old king,
sometimes bemoaning his mental eclipse;
sometimes flinging his coat over his shoulder, and
crying old clothes round a padded room.

By-and-by, bright, sunshiny, freezing morning.
What enormous draft-horses, and what
little houses! Surely this can't be London?
Not quite; only Hammersmith.

Out of the bewildering excitement of being
actually in London, and the distracting
succession of new objects passed by, and passing
us, only two recollections can be revived,
at this very long distance of time, from the
scene at the White Horse Cellar, Piccadilly;
first, the endless succession of old clothes-
men; second, the number and perseverance of
hawkers of pale, sour, cold-looking oranges,
which made even my young teeth chatter to
behold. The sound of "Ole Clo!" "Ole
Clo!" "Ole Clo!" never left the ear an
instant's respite: an endless procession of Jews
with empty black bags under their arms, walking
rapidly, uttering exactly the same sound,
but on different notes. That was no time to
ask questions, and story-book lore supplied the
childish notion that they were all wicked
wandering Jews, bound to let the world know they
were duly performing their penance by
incessantly exclaiming "Ole Clo!" as watchmen
cried the hour in the night. The prodigious