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Have you any distinct idea of Spitalfields,
dear reader ? A general one, no doubt you
havean impression that there are certain
squalid streets, lying like narrow black
trenches, far below the steeples, somewhere
about London,—towards the East, perhaps,—
where sallow, unshorn weavers, who have
nothing to do, prowl languidly about, or lean
against posts, or sit brooding on door-steps,
and occasionally assemble together in a crowd
to petition Parliament or the Queen; after
which there is a Drawing-Room, or a Court
Ball, where all the great ladies wear dresses
of Spitalfields manufacture; and then the
weavers dine for a day or two, and so
relapse into prowling about the streets, leaning
against the posts, and brooding on the
door-steps. If your occupation in town or
country ever oblige you to travel by the
Eastern Counties Railway (you would never
do so, of course, unless you were obliged) you
may connect with this impression, a general
idea that many pigeons are kept in Spitalfields,
and you may remember to have
thought, as you rattled along the dirty streets,
observing the pigeon-hutches and pigeon-
traps on the tops of the poor dwellings, that
it was a natural aspiration in the inhabitants
to connect themselves with any living
creatures that could get out of that, and take
a flight into the air. The smoky little bowers
of scarlet-runners that you may have
sometimes seen on the house-tops, among the
pigeons, may have suggested to your fancy
I pay you the poor compliment of supposing
it to be a vagrant fancy, like my own
abortions of the bean-stalk that led Jack to
fortune: by the slender twigs of which, the
Jacks of Spitalfields will never, never, climb
to where the giant keeps his money.

Will you come to Spitalfields?

Turning eastward out of the most bustling
part of Bishopsgate, we suddenly lose the noise
that has been resounding in our ears, and fade
into the quiet churchyard of the Priory of St.
Mary, Spital, otherwise " Domus Dei et Beatæ
Mariæ, extra Bishopsgate, in the Parish of St.
Botolph." Its modern name is Spital Square.
Cells and cloisters were, at an early date,
replaced by substantial burgher houses, which,
since the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes,
in 1685, have been chiefly the depositories of
the silk manufacture introduced into London,
by the French Huguenots, who flew from the
perfidy of Louis the Fourteenth. But much
of the old quiet cloistered air, still lingers in
the place.

The house to which we are bound, stands at
an angle with the spot where the Pulpit-cross
was anciently planted; whence, on every
Easter Monday and Tuesday, the Spital
sermons were preached, in presence of the
Lord Mayor and Corporation, and children of
Christ's Hospital. We cross the many-
cornered " square " and enter a sort of

Along a narrow passage, up a dark stair,
through a crazy door, into a room not very
light, not very large, not in the least splendid;
with queer corners, and quaint carvings, and
massive chimney-pieces; with tall cupboards
with prim doors, and squat counters with deep
dumpy drawers; with desks behind thin rails,
with aisles between thick towers of papered-up
packages, out of whose ends flash all the
colours of the rainbowwhere all is as quiet
as a playhouse at daybreak, or a church at
midnightwhere, in truth, there is nobody
to make a noise, except one well-dressed man,
one attendant porter (neither of whom seem
to be doing anything particular), and one
remarkably fine male cat, admiring, before
the fire, the ends of his silky pawswhere the
door, as we enter, shuts with a deep, dull,
muffled sound, that is more startling than a
noisewhere there is less bustle than at a
Quakers' meeting, and less business going on
than in a Government officethe well-dressed
man threads the mazes of the piles, and desks,
and cupboards, and counters, with a slow step,
to greet us, and to assure us, in reply to our
apology, that we have not made any mistake
whatever, and that we are in the silk
warehouse which we seek: a warehouse in which,
we have previously been informed, by one
whose word we never before doubted, that
there is " turned over " an annual average of
one hundred thousand pounds, of good and
lawful money of Great Britain.

We may tell our informant, frankly,
that, looking round upon the evidences of
stagnation which present themselves, we
utterly disbelieve his statement. Our faith,
however, is soon strengthened. Somebody