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IN the Royal Exchange there always were,
and are, and will be, rows of gaunt men, with
haggard countenances, and in seedy habiliments,
who sit on the benches ranged against
the walls of the arcades; sit, silently,
immoveably, with a stern and ghostly patience,
from morn till dusk. These shabby
sedentaries have long haunted me. I call them
City Spectres. I have passed through 'Change
as early as nine o'clock in the morning, and
found the Ghosts there; I have passed
through it just as it was about to close, and
found them there stillsilent, unalterable
in their immobility; speechless in the midst
of the gabble and turmoil, the commercial
howls, and speculative shrieks of high 'Change.
I have gone away from England, and, coming
back again, have found the same Ghosts
on the same benches. They were on the
Old Exchange; they were on the "Burse"
in Sir Thomas Gresham's time, I have no
doubt; and when the "coming man"—the
Anglo-New-Zealander of Thomas Babington
Macaulayarrives to take his promised view
of the ruins of St. Paul's, he will have to
place in the foreground of his picture, sitting
on crumbling benches, in a ruined Exchange,
over-against a ruined Bank, the City Spectres,
unchangeable and unchanged.

What do they do on Sundays and holidays,
and after 'Change hours? What did they do
when the Exchange was burnt down, and
the merchants congregated first at the Old
South Sea House, and then in the courtyard
of the Excise Office, in Broad-street? Are
they the same men, or their brothers, or their
cousins, who sit for hours on the benches in
St. James's Park, staring with glazed
unmeaning eyes at the big Life-Guardsmen and
the little children? Are they the same men
who purchase half-a-pint of porter, usurp the
best seat (upon the tub, and out of the way of
the swing-door) before the bar, to the secret
rage of the publican? Are they connected
with the British Museum spectresthe
literary ghostswho pass the major part of the
day in the Reading-room, not reading
for their eyes always seem to me to be fixed
on the same spot, in the same page of the
same volume, of the Pandects of Justinian
but snuffing, with a grimly affectionate relish,
the morocco leather-laden atmosphere, and
silently hugging the comfortable chairs and
tables, luxuriating in the literary hospitality
of Britainthe feast of paper knives and
eleemosynary quill-pens, the flow of well-filled
and gratuitous leaden inkstands?

And yet these City Spectres must live in
their spectral fashion. They must eat. They
must drink, even; for I have observed that
not a few of them have noses of a comfortable
degree of redness. Who supplies them with
food and raiment? Who boards and lodges
them? Who washes them?—no; that last
interrogation is certainly irrelevant; for the
City Ghosts, both as regards their persons
and their linen, appear to be able to do
without washing altogether.

I used to ask myself, and I still do ask
myself, these questions about the City Spectres
with distressing pertinacity; I form all sorts
of worrying theories concerning them. By dint,
however, of considerable observation, of
unflagging industry in putting "this and that
together," and, perhaps, of a little stretching
of possibilities into probabilities, and
probabilities into certainties, I have managed to
cover the dry bones of the Spectres of the
Royal Exchange with a little commercial
flesh and blood. I have found local habitations
and names for them. I assume avocations
which occupy them even as they sit in
idle ghostliness on the benches. I discover
incomes which cover their meagre limbs with
milldewed raiment; which find some work
for their lantern jaws in the way of mastication;
and which give a transient rubicundity
to their sometimes livid noses. I
have found outor at least think I have
found outwho the City Ghosts are; how
and where they live; what they were before
they were ghosts; and how they came to
bench-occupying and to ghosthood.

Take that tall Ghost who sits in the
portion of the arcade called the Wallachio-
Moldavian walk, on the bench between the
advertisements setting forth the
approaching departure of the "Grand Turk, A. 1,
and copper-bottomed for Odessa," and the
pictorial chromo-lithographic placard,
eulogising, in so disinterested a manner, the
virtues of Mr. Alesheeh's magic strop. See
him once, and forget him if you can. His
countenance is woebegone: his hat is battered