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in fossil botany, with here and there a string
of choice jewels,—rubies, emeralds, and carbuncles
of prodigious size, such as one has
seen in "Blue Beard " and "Pizarro." The
next figure was a miner with a Davy-lamp,
whom Captain Oldcastle shrewdly conjectured
to be looking out for some of those
jewels so profusely accorded to the fortunate
miner in the previous picture.

In walking round these galleries, amidst so
many adornments attracting the attention, a
visitor might be excused for not too hastily
turning his thoughts to utility. But this
thought, in these too practical days, will obtrude
itself. The number of the private
rooms for offices, on each gallery, is considerable;
their accommodations, all that could
be desired; their appearance most neat, quiet,
and unexceptionable; but by far the greater
part are empty. Nobody will take them.
Many of those on the ground floor, or area of
the marketobviously the best place by far
are unlet. These are of the high-priced,
of course; still, as the price decreases with
the ascent, why are not more of the upper
offices taken? Herein the very centre of
all the great Coal-trade of England!—and not
one-third, not one-fourth, we think, of the
offices let? We expressed our astonishment
to the Captain.

"Oh!" said he, " the City is a queer place,
and the City authorities are a rum sort of
reasoners. They asked too much rent for
these berths at first; and though but a few
factors and merchants can afford to give it,
the City still persists. And so they are
obliged to go to the expence of fires in all
the empty offices to keep them aired three-quarters
of the year round, rather than see
the place full at a moderate rent. That's
how I read their log."

We now ascended to the third gallery.
Here, the cold, though not the "beggarly
array of empty boxes," was most expressive
of the mismanagement, somehow and somewhere
of this well-placed, and most commodious
building, on which so much money has been

The paintings in the entrance of this uppermost
gallery were of 'Shields' on one side,
and 'Sunderland' on the other. That of
Shields was a view of colliers in the river by
moonlight, with a dull sky of indigo blue, and
smoky cloudsvery well done, and truthful,
having a sufficient mixture of reality for the
nature of the subject, and of fancy for the
picturesque. The picture of Sunderland, with
its one-arched iron bridge, which is so high
above the water, that a collier can pass underneath
without striking her topmasts, is also a
night scene; but by torch-light; the red
flashes of which fall upon a train of little
upright waggons full of coals, coming from
the pit to be shipped.

The panels round this gallery are adorned
with paintings of gigantic ferns, fragments of
the trunks of the lepidodendron, and the
sigillaria, and other stems and foliage of those
antediluvian plants and trees which subsequently
contributed most largely to the coal
formations. These paintings are interspersed
with various miners' tools, above which rises
the glass dome of the building.

Descending the well-staircase, we asked
Captain Oldcastle what capital he thought
was employed by the great coal owners on the
Tyne and Wear. He saidquoting his friend
Buddle again, as authoritythat they could
not have embarked less than a million and a
half of money, without reckoning any of the
vessels on the river; but taking these into
the account, the capital employed would not
amount to less than between eight and ten
millions. And this estimate was made by
Buddle twenty years ago!


PRISON LIFE, like life in all other circumstances,
has its extremes; and these have
been pushed to the farthest verge of
contrast by the 'great experiments' that have
lately been essayed. There is an aristocracy
of prisoners, and a commonality of prisoners;
there are palace prisons, and kennel prisons
in which it would be cruelty to confine refractory
dogs. We have hardened criminals
put into training in Model Prisons for pattern
penitence, and novices in crime thrust into
dens with the most depraved felons; so as to
bring them down in morals to the lowest
practicable level. The study of some of these
extremes is instructive. It shows what results
have been produced by the 'great experiments'
which have been tried; either how
much reform they have effected; or how many
misdemeanants they are likely to add to the
already over-populated dangerous class. For
the sake of impartiality we shall in each
instance offer no description of our own; but we
intend to cite what has already been in print.

A graphic but eccentric pen has supplied a
vivid description of the palace order of gaols.
"Some months ago," says Mr. Carlyle, in a
recent pamphlet, "some friends took me with
them to see one of the London Prisons; a
Prison of the exemplary or model kind. An
immense circuit of buildings; cut out, girt with
a high ring wall, from the lanes and streets of
the quarter, which is a dim and crowded one.
Gateway as to a fortified place; then a
spacious court, like the square of a city; broad
staircases, passages to interior courts; fronts
of stately architecture all round. It lodges
some Thousand or Twelve-hundred prisoners,
besides the officers of the establishment.
Surely one of the most perfect buildings,
within the compass of London. We looked
at the apartments, sleeping-cells, dining-rooms,
working-rooms, general courts or
special and private; excellent all, the ne-plus-ultra
of human care and ingenuity; in
my life I never saw so clean a building; probably
no Duke in England lives in a mansion

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