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

hundred thousand pounds to nine hundred
thousand pounds.

Who would not care a straw for straws
after this?


"BLESS me! What is Flounder about?
Come back, my dear fellow, come back!"

It is of no use. On he goes to that door
on the left hand of the Hall; far too short-
sighted to see, or too self-occupied to attend
to that warning board, "Entrance only for
Members." On he goes; walks boldly up
the space left vacant between this door and
the long line of spectators who are assembled
to see the members go in, some of whom are
already disputing whether Flounder is Mr.
Disraeli or the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I suspect, however, that his tether is nearly
out; I thought as much; he approaches the
door: a policeman steps forward with out-
stretched hand, "Member of the House, Sir?"
knowing full well that he is not. Spectators
begin to laugh; well-informed spectator, who
had just confidently pointed out Flounder
as Lord Palmerston, says that he is an
impudent blockhead. Flounder explains that he
is not a Member but adds (partially recovering
himself ), that his name is on the Speaker's
list; whereupon the policeman with civil
contempt tells him to pass on up the Hall,
ascend the steps, and turn to the left. I
expostulate mildly with him for his conduct,
and we proceed into St. Stephen's Chapel,
occupied by a long row of expectant strangers,
provided with Member's orders, waiting to be
admitted to the Strangers' Gallery. This
gallery only holds some sixty persons; on
a great night, therefore, if all the six
hundred and fifty members have given their
respective orders, it is evident that nearly six
hundred of them will be dishonoured, and
those only admitted who come first.

There they sit thereforesometimes for
two hours, looking like school-boys in disgrace,
with no other occupation than to gaze till they
are tiredwhich I should think was soonat
the statues of Hampden; Falkland, and Clarendon,
or count the squares in the tesselated pavement
till four o'clock, when the gallery is
opened, and the sixty first comers fill up, and
are succeeded by others on the waiting bench.

Our names being on the Speaker's list we
push on for the lobby. It is crowded
with Members, Member's friends, Member's
constituents, idlers without orders hoping to
be admitted into the gallery by some unforeseen
contingencyI need hardly say a vain
hopeattorneys, parliamentary agents, railway
secretaries, discussing every kind of
parliamentary business, public or private. The
lobby is the Change of political lifeand four
o'clock is the hour of high Change.

But again Flounder is missing, and after
much search I find him at the door of the
House of Lords, trying to impress the courteous
official there stationed, with the fact that his
name is down on the Speaker's list, and quite
impervious to the repeated mild explanation
that he has come to the wrong door.
However, it is quite a pleasure after being in the
neighbourhood of the House of Commons
officials, to receive a snub from those of the
House of Lords. Taking Flounder back to the
lobby, I find the door of the Speaker's gallery
opena sign that the " list is out." We
present ourselves, and give our names; the
great man who keeps the door scrutinises
first our faces and then the list, and finding
our names undeniably written down, and
unable to suggest any flaw in our claim to
admission, lets us up with obvious reluctance.
He is much relieved by poor Green
suffering a fraction of his shadow to darken
the entrance of the gallery before he
removes his hat, as this enables him to call
out in a very peremptory tone, " Take your
hat off, sir!"

Another official receives us at the door of
the gallery, and desires us to move on. We
do move on accordingly, he watching us with
a jealous eye, as though we had come for the
express purpose of setting fire to the House,
or destroying the Constitution. Our silence
being perfect and our demeanour
unimpeachable, his only resource is to desire us in
a severe voice to make hastewhich, as
anybody who has tried to make haste in climbing
over the outstretched legs and feet of his
fellow-creatures is awareinvolves much
personal discomfort, and which in the present
instance causes an occasional stagger on the
part of Green, followed by looks ot thunder
from the awful official, indignant that
anybody should presume to stumble in the
presence of the Speaker, and the Commons of
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland in Parliament assembled.

At last we reach vacant places, and sit
down. It is the time of private business:
Flounder, after a few minutes' observation,
expresses a profane opinion that it is the time
of no business at all, and is proceeding to add
his conviction that the House of Commons
altogether is an imposition, when he is
interrupted by a ferocious cry of "Silence, sir!"
from the messenger. It must be owned that
there is much in the appearance of things
to justify Flounder's impression. The House
of Commons at the time of private business
that is, from about four till five every evening
presents the following scene. A good many
Members are collected, talking and laughing
in unreproved disorder: no attention whatever
is paid to what is going on; not a syllable
can be, or is meant to be, heard, except the
following formula repeated over and over
again. The Speaker standing up, calls "Mr.
Brotherton!" Mr. Brotherton answers. "Bill,
sir." The Speaker: "Please to bring it up."
Whereupon Mr. Brotherton trots up to the
table and hands a paper to the clerk, who