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AN UNSETTLED NEIGHBOURHOOD.

It is not my intention to treat of any of
those new neighbourhoods which a wise
legislature leaves to come into existence just
as it may happen; overthrowing the trees,
blotting out the face of the country, huddling
together labyrinths of odious little streets of
vilely constructed houses; heaping ugliness
upon ugliness, inconvenience upon
inconvenience, dirt upon dirt, and contagion upon
contagion. Whenever a few hundreds of
thousands of people of the classes most
enormously increasing, shall happen to come to
the conclusion that they have suffered enough
from preventible disease (a moral phenomenom
that may occur at any time), the said wise
legislature will find itself called to a heavy
reckoning.  May it emerge from that
extremity as agreeably as it slided in  Amen!

No.  The unsettled neighbourhood on
which I have my eyein a literal sense, for
I live in it, and am looking out of window
cannot be called a new neighbourhood.  It
has been in existence, how long shall I say?
Forty, fifty, years.  It touched the outskirts
of the fields, within a quarter of a century;
at that period it was as shabby, dingy, damp,
and mean a neighbourhood, as one would
desire not to see.  Its poverty was not of the
demonstrative order.  It shut the street-doors,
pulled down the blinds, screened the
parlour-windows with the wretched plants
in pots, and made a desperate stand to keep
up appearances.  The genteeler part of the
inhabitants, in answering knocks, got behind
the door to keep out of sight, and
endeavoured to diffuse the fiction that a servant of
some sort was the ghostly warder.  Lodgings
were let, and many more were to let; but,
with this exception, signboards and placards
were discouraged.  A few houses that became
afflicted in their lower extremities with
eruptions of mangling and clear-starching,
were considered a disgrace to the neighbourhood.
The working bookbinder with the large
door-plate was looked down upon for keeping
fowls, who were always going in and out.
A corner house with "Ladies' School" on a
board over the first floor windows, was barely
tolerated for its educational facilities; and
Miss Jamanne the dressmaker, who inhabited
two parlours and kept an obsolete work of
art representing the Fashions, in the window
of the front one, was held at a marked
distance by the ladies of the neighbourhood
who patronised her, however, with far greater
regularity than they paid her.

In those days, the neighbourhood was as
quiet and dismal as any neighbourhood about
London. Its crazily built housesthe
largest, eight-roomedwere rarely shaken by
any conveyance heavier than the spring van
that came to carry off the goods of a ''sold
up" tenant. To be sold up was nothing
particular. The whole neighbourhood felt itself
liable, at any time, to that common casualty
of life.  A man used to come into the
neighbourhood regularly, delivering the
summonses for rates and taxes as if they were
circulars. We never paid anything until the
last extremity, and Heaven knows how we
paid it then. The streets were positively
hilly with the inequalities made in them by
the man with the pickaxe who cut off the
company's supply of water to defaulters. It
seemed as if nobody had any money but old
Miss Frowze, who lived with her mother at
Number fourteen Little Twig Street, and who
was rumoured to be immensely rich; though
I don't know why, unless it was that she
never went out of doors, and never wore a
cap, and never brushed her hair, and was
immensely dirty.

As to visitors, we really had no visitors
at that time. Stabbers's Band used to come
every Monday morning and play for three
quarters of an hour on one particular spot by
the Norwich Castle; but, how they first got
into a habit of coming, or even how we knew
them to be Stabbers's Band, I am unable to
say. It was popular in the neighbourhood,
and we used to contribute to it: dropping
our halfpence into an exceedingly hard hat
with a warm handkerchief in it, like a
sort of bird's-nest (I am not aware whether
it was Mr. Stabbers's hat or not), which
came regularly round. They used to
open with "Begone dull Care!" and to end
with a tune which the neighbourhood
recognised as "I'd rather have a Guinea than
a One-pound Note." I think any reference to
money, that was not a summons or an
execution, touched us melodiously.  As to Punches,
they knew better than to do anything
but squeak and drum in the neighbourhood,

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