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of "next-door," which no opposite degradation
can give. Well, as I said, side by side
with the prosperous red-faced soap-boiler, lives
another tradesman, retired, and in evil
circumstances. The man, they say- you know one
hears everything in a small place like this- is
over hrad and cars in debt, yet lives well, spares
no expense, and flourishes about on Sundays as
fine as chains, and broadcloth, and two-horsed
broughams can make him. In short, he is the
scandal and the spectacle of the whole
neighbourhood. As I sit a good deal at the window,
and they immediately face me, I see the whole
drama pass, in uninterrupted scenes and acts,
before me; and a very sad and disgraceful drama
it is, one which I think could be prevented by
law. Vhat business have such people in such
a square as ours? The impudence and presumplion
of the man! Sometimes things go hard
with our debtor, and then as many precautions
are taken as if the house was besieged by an
enemy. The dustman climbs over the area
railings for his dust-heap, for not a cranny
is left open that a mouse might creep through
with a writ in its paws; the butcher-boy
delivers his legs and his loins, and the laundress
hoists up her bundles by the same way; and the
dirly servant-girl is kept perpetually running up
and down those dirty stone steps, carrying
messages from the duns to the master, and from the
master back again to the duns. When people
grow very importunate, and stamp and rave,
as they do sometimes, and will not be put off
with the servant, the wife, who seems to have
all the disagreeable work to do, flings up the
dining-room window, and holds a parley; but no
one ever gets any satisfaction, so far as I can
see, though somehow they all disperse at last.
Very often, quite a crowd of duns are hanging
about the house at once; and it is curious,
though very shocking, to watch their different
ways and manners. Some are humble and
beseeching- and these, for the most part, are care-
worn women in limp gowns and laded shawls,
or men with the seams of their coats worn
threadbare, and their hats battered and
forlorn; others, generally well-dressed, substantial-
looking people, get violent, and do a great
deal of gesticulation- these are the people to
whom the wife is sent, as evidently needing
management and propitiation. Others, again,
look downcast and sullen, and will not take an
answer, but linger about the steps in a kind of
brutish desperation, as if they expected the very
stones to relent, and turn themselves up in golden
sovereigns to pay their bills. Yet even these
men I have seen mollified and got rid of by a
timely glass of something, handed over the area
railings. Then strange-looking men come lounging
at the corners of the square; men with blue
or red neckerchiefs tied in an odd way, and who
look anything but respectable in such a place
as ours. These, they tell me, are sheriff's
officers, waiting for our retired tradesman in
difficulties, and ready to pounce upon him if he so
much as shows the crown of his sleek bald head
outside the door. But he gives them no chance.
Whoever is admitted into the house is admitted
by himself alone. He carefully reconnoitres the
enemy through the stencilled glass panels of his
hall door, and if unwelcome or unknown, tumbles
back into the darkness, like a pantomime clown.
If safe, he opens just a foot wide of the door,
and the visitor rushes in, as into a trap, and then
a bang, which echoes through the whole square,
announces that my gentleman has outwitted the
Queen's Bench for the thousandth time. In the
summer, on Sunday mornings, before the
carriage and its two white horses dash up to the
door, and while the luxurious breakfast is
preparing, he rushes out into the street, with his
crimson-lined dressing-gown streaming behind
him, and his little girls running about without
their hats or cloaks. I have spoken seriously to
the landlord about this disgraceful exhibition,
but he only laughs. I have no patience with
these men! They cling together like barnacles,
or mussels, or anything else unpleasant, and
uphold each other in everything.

On the other side of the soap-boiler lives a
person of whom I can scarcely bring myself to
speak, my dears; and, indeed, perhaps I had
better pass her over in silence altogether. She
is the ugliest feature of our whole square, yet
she is a very fine-looking woman, very gay, and,
some say, handsome. I confess I do not think
so myself. She wants distinction of appearance,
and distinction goes further with me than mere
vulgar beauty. She is an odious creature, my
dears, and a key of the gardens should not have
been allowed her. I always make a point of
leaving them the instant she enters, and so do
all my friends; but she never takes the hint,
though I scowl at her dreadfully, but she
sweeps up and down the broad walks, with her
shawl trailing on the ground, and her wide skirts
brushing the flower-beds, and is generally ac-
companied by one or two gentlemen- the
creature!—- though I believe her wicked story of her
husband in India, and the rest of it, is all false.

Then we have an artist's family: upon my
word, one of the most annoying of all. Strange,
outré, eccentric people are they- not exactly
vulgar, but so extraordinary! The man wears
a black velvet coat, broad leafed hat with peaked
crown, and is almost smothered in a huge brown
beard and moustache, with which it pleases him
to conceal his native ugliness. For I contend
that he must be ugly: every man must be ugly
who disguises himself in this manner. No one
who was even tolerably well-looking would
consent to wear a mask which put him on a level
with the most repulsive-looking individual in
the kingdom. There, my dears, I never knew a
man able to answer that argument! The wife
is a tall, finely proportioned woman, who dresses
like an old-fashioned picture. The other day
she came out iuto the square in a Katherine
and Petruchio gown, with slashed sleeves tight
to her wrist, small hat and feather, ruffled
throat, and without a shred of crinoline. Now
I do not like the soap-boilers' crinoline, but the
lanky grace of Mistress Gum and Gamboge was
too much! Of course every one stared at her;