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Pavilion Theatres, and Royal Cobourg
Saloons, and Royal Amphitheatres, where the
old story of woebegone clowns, dirt, rouge,
tarnished spangles, and soiled fleshings, was
told for the thousandth time. There were a
"giant and a dwarf," some "bounding brothers,"
a "bottle equilibrist," a "strong man," a
"professor of necromancy," and a " sword
and ribbon swallower." There were weighing-
machines, " sticks" (the speculation of swarthy
gipsies), at which you might throw for pin-
cushion prizes and never get any; there
were Swiss bell-ringers, Ethiopian Serenaders,
juveniles, who turned over three times, or
threw " cartwheels " for a penny; sellers of
cakes, sweet-stuff, tarts, damaged fruits, slang
songs, whistles, catcalls, and penny trumpets.
Finally, there were many swings,
roundabouts, and turnovers, which, crammed to
overflowing with men, children, and women,
revolved, oscillated, or performed demi-
summersaults incessantly; the motive-power being
given by brawny varlets in corduroys and
ankle-jacks. Add to all this a little fortune-
telling, a little fighting, and a great deal of
music, noise, and bellowing, with a great deal
of dust to cap all, and you will have a
fairish notion of Chalk Farm Fair on Easter

Well, the astute reader will say, Cui bono,
this oft-told tale ? Are these things new to
us ? Have they not been since Fairs were?
Have we never been to Greenwich, to Stepney,
to Knott Mill, to Glasgow Fairs ? Stop a
moment: I have but treated of the scene.
A word about the people who were there!

Imagine in this broken, dusty, confined
patch of building-ground, a compact, wedged-
in, fighting, screeching, yelling, blaspheming
crowd. All manner of human rubbish licensed
to be shot there. There was more crime, more
depravity, more drunkenness and blasphemy;
more sweltering, raging, and struggling in
the dusty, mangy backyard of a place, than
in a whole German principality. There were
more wild beasts in it (not Wombwell's) than
Mr. Gordon Cumming would light upon in
a summer's day, and a South African forest.
You could not move, or try to move, ten paces
without hearing the Decalogue broken in its
entiretythe whole Ten Tables smashed at a
blow. By sturdy ruffians, with dirty " kingsman"
'kerchiefs twisted round their bull-
necks like halters, with foul pipes stuck in
their mouths, and bludgeons in their hands,
jostling savagely through the crowd, six and
eight abreast, with volleys of oaths and
drunken songs. By slatternly, tawdry, bold-
faced women, ever and anon falling to
fighting with one another; and in a ring
formed by a " fancy," composed of
pickpockets, costermongers, and other intense
blackguards, clawing, biting, pulling each
other's hair, rending each other's garments,
giving in at last breathless, almost sightless,
all besmeared with blood and dust. By some
of the defenders of their country with their
side-belts (happily bayonetless) all robbed of
pipeclay, and besmirched with beer-stains. By
beggars and tramps, shoeless boys and girls,
thieves, low prize-fighters, silly " gents," and
here and there, perhaps, a decent mechanic,
or little tradesman, who had taken his family
to the Fair, in sheer ignorance, and expectation
of some innocent entertainment out of doors.

Heaven knows, I grudge not the workers
their few holidays, nor would I for a moment
attempt to interfere with the amusements of
the English peopleotherwise than to
increase them fifty-fold. I love to see the
poorer classes enjoy themselves. There is
no prettier sight to me than the river (even
on a Sunday), crowded with steamers, more
crowded still with holiday-makers dressed in
their best. I glory in Gravesend " eaten out"
on a hot summer evening; in the crowded
parks, with the merry voices of children;
in Chelsea and Kew, Richmond and Hampton
Court; in the snug families of pleasure-
seekersfather in a tail-coat that
morning intensely blue, but now somewhat
dusty, and bearing the exhausted provision-
basketmother in a bright dress, a bright
shawl, a brighter bonnet, and a parasol the
brightest of all, soothing a stout baby, quite
worn-out and flaccid with the unwonted
dissipation of the daychildren tired, quietly
satisfied, or elated with the homœopathic
"drinks " of mild porter administered to
them: with, may-be, one little misanthrope,
who has pinched his sister Eliza, and tried
to poke his finger through the tapestry in
Hampton Court Great Hall; and who has
made faces at waiters, and cried at sentinels,
and has been threatened times out of number
with " catching it." All these, with the
decent young men and women cosily
sweethearting; the simple-minded youths, so
gorgeously apparelled, so careful of their apparel,
and so harmless; the sensible mechanics, with
their wives; the pleasure-vans, the suburban
tea-gardens; aye, and the dry skittle-grounds,
and bowling-alleys, and quoits, and field-
billiards, I delight to witness! Though the
sons of St. Crispin may indulge themselves a
little on Saint Monday, and the tailors may
object to work on a Tuesday, and the
carpenters may "knock off" on a Saturday, am I,
who also occasionally indulge and object and
knock off, to blame them? Am I to grudge
them their amusements ? Heaven forbid!
but Heaven save us, likewise, from many
fairs like that I have mentioned on the road
to Hampstead!

Also from Battersea Fields on a Sunday
morning and afternoon, all the year round!
With the exception of the ground being more
extensive, and of shows and theatres being
absent; but, with the addition of gambling
for halfpence, pigeon-shooting, and the most
brutal cruelty to animals, in the shape of dog
and cock fighting, and horse and donkey
racing, or rather torturing; they are as bad
as, even worse than, the fair.