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pensioner on the Public to the extent of two
hundred a year, who perpetually anathematised
his Country because he was not in the receipt of
four, having no claim whatever to sixpence: so
perhaps it usually happens, within certain limits,
that to get a little help is to get a notion of being
defrauded of more. "How do they pass their
lives in this beautiful and peaceful place!"
was the subject of my speculation with a
visitor who once accompanied me to a charming
rustic retreat for old men and women: a quaint
ancient foundation in a pleasant English county,
behind a picturesque church and among rich
old convent gardens. There were but some
dozen or so of houses, and we agreed that we
would talk with the inhabitants, as they sat
in their groined rooms between the light of their
fires and the light shining in at their latticed
windows, and would find out. They passed
their lives in considering themselves mulcted of
certain ounces of tea by a deaf old steward who
lived among them in the quadrangle. There was
no reason to suppose that any such ounces of tea
had ever been in existence, or that the old
steward so much as knew what was the matter;
he passed his life in considering himself
periodically defrauded of a birch-broom by the

But it is neither to old Aims-Houses in the
country, nor to new Aims-Houses by the railroad,
that these present Uncommercial notes relate.
They refer back to journeys made among those
common-place smoky-fronted London Aims-
Houses, with a little paved court-yard in front
enclosed by iron railings, which have got snowed
up, as it were, by bricks and mortar; which
were once in a suburb, but are now in the
densely populated town; gaps in the busy life
around them, parentheses in the close and blotted
text, of the streets.

Sometimes, these Alms-Houses belong to a
Company or Society. Sometimes, they were
established by individuals, and are maintained
out of private funds bequeathed in perpetuity
long ago. My favourite among them is
Titbull's, which establishment is a picture of many.
Of Titbull I know no more than that he deceased
in 1723, that his Christian name was Sampson,
and his social designation Esquire, and that he
founded these Alms-Houses as Dwellings for
Nine Poor Women and Six Poor Men by his
Will and Testament. I should not know even
this much, but for its being inscribed on a grim
stone very difficult to read, let into the front of
the centre house of Titbull's Alms-Houses, and
which stone is ornamented atop with a piece
of sculptured drapery resembling the effigy of
Titbull's bath-towel.

Titbull's Alms-Houses are in the east of
London, in a great highway, in a poor busy and
thronged neighbourhood. Old iron and fried fish,
cough drops and artificial flowers, boiled pigs'-feet
and household furniture that looks as if it
were polished up with lip-salve, umbrellas full
of vocal literature and saucers full of shell-fish
in a green juice which I hope is natural to them
when their health is good, garnish the paved side
ways as you go to Titbull's. I take the ground
to have risen in those parts since Titbull's time,
and you drop into his domain by three stone
steps. So did I first drop into it, very nearly
striking my brows against Titbull's pump, which
stands with its back to the thoroughfare just in
side the gate, and has a conceited air of review
ing Titbull's pensioners.

"And a worse one," said a virulent old man
with a pitcher, "there isn't nowhere. A harder
one to work, nor a grudginer one to yield, there
isn't nowhere!" This old man wore a long coat,
such as we see Hogarth's Chairmen represented
with, and it was of that peculiar green-pea hue
without the green, which seems to come of
poverty. It had also that peculiar smell of
cupboard which seems to come of poverty.

"The pump is rusty, perhaps," said I.

"Not it," said the old man, regarding it with
undiluted virulence in his watery eye. " It never
were fit to be termed a pump. That's what's
the matter with it."

"Whose fault is that?" said I.

The old man, who had a working mouth
which seemed to be trying to masticate his
anger and to find that it was too hard and there
was too much of it, replied, " Them gentlemen."

"What gentlemen?"

"Maybe you're one of 'em?" said the old
man, suspiciously.

"The trustees?"

"I wouldn't trust 'em myself," said the
virulent old man.

"If you mean the gentlemen who administer
this place, no, I am not one of them; nor have
I ever so much as heard of them."

"I wish / never heard of them," gasped the
old man: "at my time of lifewith the
rheumaticsdrawing waterfrom that thing!"
Not to be deluded into calling it a Pump, the
old man gave it another virulent look, took up
his pitcher, and carried it into a corner dwelling-
house, shutting the door after him.

Looking around and seeing that each little
house was a house of two little rooms; and
seeing that the little oblong court-yard in front
was like a graveyard for the inhabitants, saving
that no word was engraven on its flat dry stones;
and seeing that the currents of life and noise
ran to and fro outside, having no more to do with
the place than if it were a sort of low-water
mark on a lively beach; I say, seeing this and
nothing else, I was going out at the gate when
one of the doors opened.

"Was you looking for anything, sir?" asked
a tidy well-favoured woman.

Really, no; I couldn't say I was.

"Not wanting any one, sir?"

"Noat least Ipray what is the name of
the elderly gentleman who lives in the corner

The tidy woman stepped out to be sure of
the door I indicated, and she and the pump and
I stood all three in a row with our backs to the

"Oh! His name is Mr. Battens," said the
tidy woman, dropping her voice.