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At this moment old blind Sally, who for more than half a century has played her way through Highgate, Holloway, and merry Islington,* tuned her hurdy-gurdy, and ground the lean man triumphantly into his tea-kettle.
* Islington, March 20, 1693. This day here was lamentable doings. O! in what a sad fright and consternation were the Lick spickets of this place ; upon the suddain and unexpected appearance of the ferreters of Fuddling-schools all were put into a hurry and confusion, the men were forced to throw down their beloved pipes of sotweed, and rudely leave their pots without a parting kiss; the women and children, too, alas! with tears and sighs, parted with their hot cakes and custards, before they had half stuffed their stomachs. And the streets were filled with the mourning mob. Amongst the rest was a fat red.faced hostess, who, with a loud and doleful,
“Ah! my friends, if this business holds, I shall certainly be undone. Ah! poor Islington, thou hast been time out of inind, the place of general rendezvous for Sunday sots. Thou hast constantly supplied the citizens' wives and children with cakes, pies, and custards, and art the chief place, near the city, for breeding calves and nursing children. Thou, I say, that has been a place so famous, and in such esteem, now to have the most and richest of thy inhabitants utterly ruined only for profaning the Sabbath-day, alas! The only day we have to get money in. Who will advise me?”—“ Advise you,” said one of her old sottish customers, "you have kept an ale-house almost thirty years, to my knowledge, and if you have not got enough by your nicking, frothing, double-scoring, and selling coarse cakes, empty pies, and nasty custards, to keep you now you are old, e'en go to your old master, the devil, and let him keep you!"?The English Lucian, or Weekly Discoveries of the Witty Intrigues, Coinical Passages, and Remarkable Transactions in Town and Country, &c. &c.'
The above is a curious picture of an Islington ale-wife in the olden time. The following account describes a • strange monster' exhibited at Miles's Musick-house at Islington a few years after, with the comical interlude of the Stuffed Alligator.
'Some time since there was brought to Miles's Musick-house at Islington, a strange sort of a monster, that does everything like a monkey, but is not a monkey; mimics man, like a jackanapes, but is not a jackanapes; jumps upon tables, and into windows upon all-fours, like a cat, but is not a cat; does all things like a beast, but is not a beast ; does nothing like a man, but is a man! He has given such won. derful content to the Butchers of Clare Market, that the house is every day as full as the Bear-Garden; and draws the city wives and prentices out of London, much more ihan a man hanged in chains. It happened lately upon a holiday, when honest men walked abroad with their wives and daughters, to the great consumption of hot buns and bottled ale, that the fame of this mimick had drawn into the Musick-house as great a crowd of spectators as the notable performances of Clinch or Barnet ever drew to the theatre. The Frape being thus assembled in the lower room, and the better sort being climbed into the gallery; a litile creature, who before walked erect, and bore the image of a man, transformed himself into a monkey, and began to en. tertain the company with such a parcel of pretty pug's tricks, and mimical actions, that they were all as intent upon the baboon's vagaries as if a mandrake had been tumbling through a hoop, or an hobgoblin dancing an antick! Whilst the eyes and ears of the assembly were thus deeply engaged, the skin of a large alligator, stuff'd with hay, hanging within the top of the house, and the rats, having burrowed through the ceiling, could come down at pleasure, and sport upon the back of the monster; one of the revengeful vermin, to put a trick upon his fellows, who were enticed by the smell of the hay to creep down the serpent's throat, his jaws being extended, gnawed the cord in two, and down coines the alligator with his belly full of rats, upon the head of the monkey, and laid him sprawling ; giving some of the spectators a wipe with his tail; the rats running out of his mouth in a wonderful hurry, like so many sailors from between decks when a ship at midnight has struck upon a rock! - A Pacquet from Will's, 1701.'
A RENCONTRE WITH THE BRIGANDS.
BY ALBERT SMITH.
Sir, we are undone! These are the villains
Two Gentlemen of Verona. YE who listen to the romantic stories of those who have never left England, and pursue with eagerness the routes of the Society of Useful Knowledge's maps and Mrs. Starke's 'Italy,'—who expect that the reality will make good the promises of guide.books, attend to the following account of a meeting with the brigands.
Travelling English--be not deceived by Prout, Stanfield, and Roberts, and that arch.impostor Finden, whose magic burin throws such sunlight over his scenes. Especially mistrust the pantomimic dioramas, and do not think that you will meet beautiful girls at every turn of the road in Switzerland, in short red petticoats and blue bows on their shoulders. Do not believe that peasants are perpetually dancing under the vine-covered trellises in Italy, and that the brigands are dressed in spangled green velvet tunics, with ribands bound round their calves, and watches and medals hung about them after the manner of Mr. Wallack,-do not, I say, place credence in these things; if you do, you will be lamentably deceived.
We had dreamed away a week amongst the crumbling magnificence of Venice, (that amphibious city of human beavers,) and having climbed the Campanile of San Marco, and descended to the dungeons of the Ducal Palace, as well as ' stood upon the Bridge of Sighs,' and been baked beneath the sable canopies of the gondolas, a cross breed between a canoe and a floating hot.house, we began to think of proceeding on our journey. But travelling in the Lombardo. Venetian kingdom is very different from driving in a cab with your carpet bag to Euston Square, or Nine Elms. The Servizio Dei R. Velociferi Privilegiati (so called from their never accomplishing by any chance above six miles an hour,) is still in its infancy; and there are only two public conveyances a week from Venice to Bologna, in which it is necessary to bespeak your places some days beforehand. We consequently found every list of passengers filled up for some time to come, and it was not in the very best temper that I and my friend H-left the Uffizio on the Grand Canal, and flung ourselves moodily amongst the cushions of the gondola to return to our hotel, with the prospect of being detained another week in Venice.
As chance would have it,--and a very ill chance it proved, there was a gentleman from Hamburg at the Albergo dell' Europa, where we were stopping, who was similarly situated to ourselves, and equally anxious to reach Florence. Finding that we were bent upon the same journey, he agreed to pay the third of the expense of a posting.carriage, and we decided upon leaving Venice the next morning, intending to travel night and day, by which means we should be enabled to outstrip the diligence by twenty or thirty hours. Every inquiry was made by us connected with our route at the Direzione della Posta, and we were assured that the roads were secure, the posting arrangements admirable, and we finished the evening by purchasing a few trifling souvenirs of the Queen of the Adriatic' for our friends in England, including some little silver gondolas, for brooches, which alone reached their destination.
At two o'clock on Saturday, August 8, 1840, we quitted Venice in a two-oared gondola, and having a fair wind, which enabled us to mount a sail, arrived at Fusina on the main-land by half-past three. A delay of an hour took place in inspecting passports and baggage, and wrangling with the postmaster, who for some time refused to let us have a carriage and horses, because we had not got a formal permission from the Government. After much altercation, he at length complied, and we started in a voiture without doors or lining, under the assurance of finding a better one at the next post. By the promise of an additional buono mano, the postillion moved his cattle at a pace somewhat faster than we could have walked ; and following the course of the Brenta, with its palace.covered banks, weedy straggling gardens, and whitewashed statues, we got to Padua about seven.
On quitting the city, one of the most awful thunder. storms I ever witnessed commenced, which lasted the whole way to Monselice, when the weather cleared up as suddenly as it had become gloomy, giving place to a brilliant moon.
Opposite the post-house at Monselice was a wretched cabaret filled with peasants of the lowest order, who clustered round us, and inspected every article of luggage as it was removed from the carriage to another. I paid no attention to this at the time, a3 we had got pretty well inured to the curiosity of loiterers at the inns; but I have since been convinced that information was sent along the road of our approach ; especially as the postillion contrived all sorts of delays before our departure, and for the first two leagues scarcely urged his horses beyond a walk. An ill-looking hound he was too, with large round earrings peeping out from amongst long black ringlets that shadowed his sallow countenance ; his features bore the stamp of cunning and villany.
The clock struck ten as we left Monselice, and my companions composed themselves, soon informing me by their deep inspirations that they were fast asleep. The voiture was a small landau with a leathern front, which buckled on to the head when it was up, and was rendered a close carriage, the said front being fitted up with small windows, that permitted a view of the country, and the vehicle was likewise furnished with curtains on each side. We had jogged on for about half an hour, and I was sitting opposite to my fellow.travellers, with my back to the horses, listening to the monotonous
hi ! of the postillion, and the eternal jangling of the bells on the bridles, when our carriage suddenly stopped, and I heard a tumult of strange voices in the road. On turning to discover the cause of this interruption, I saw through the front glasses a party of six or seven men ranged in a semicircle across the road, pointing their guns at the carriage, and gradually closing around us.
There could be no mistake as to our visiters, or their intentions. I awoke my friends; and recollecting that I had eight English sovereigns loose in my waistcoat pocket, contrived to thrust seven of them into my mouth; the remaining one I slipped into my shoe. I had barely concealed this last, when the curtains were torn violently down, and the muzzles of six guns made their appearance in most un. pleasant propinquity to our heads, followed by half-a-dozen of the
most ill-favoured visages I had ever seen. I have said there was a full moon, and I was enabled to perceive that the guns were upon full cock. The ruffians were likewise armed with pistols in their girdles, and long poniard-knives that dangled from their necks and gleamed romantically in the moonbeams. Singular enough, neither myself nor my friend were flurried at this uncomfortable moment. Odd ideas will cross people's minds in the most serious positions, and the sole thought that struck me was, that our situation was precisely similar to a scene I had witnessed in an adaptation of Paul Clifford at Covent Garden, some three or four years back, when the * Bath mail' was robbed on the stage.
My companions descended, in obedience to the orders of the ban. ditti; but I was less fortunate. The door on my side chanced to have been despoiled of its hinges, and was closed with a thin plate of iron, fixed on by nails. It was impossible to open it, and I was unable to get out. An immense ruffian of six feet two, who appeared to be the chief of the party, finding that it did not give way, after several strenuous pulls, finally seized me by the collar, and dragging me over the door, flung me with some violence upon
the ground close to the hind-wheels of the carriage. I was half stunned by the fall; but we had no time allowed for qualmishness, as a general rifling immediately commenced. Two of the party entered the car. riage, and threw everything out. They tore down the linings, and broke the seats open, to make sure that nothing was concealed; after which they cut the cords which secured our luggage underneath the postillion's seat, and handed down our effects in no very gentle manner, swearing, pulling, and hurrying us about all the time.
• Presto ! presto! soldi ! sacramento !' was all they uttered ; but its meaning, accompanied by most expressive pantomime, was very obvious. I had the side-pocket of my blouse filled with zwanzigers for paying the post, being the banker of the party, and I immediately emptied it into the cap of the one who had the charge of me, hoping that this would satisfy them. But I was mistaken. Each of us was rifled in turn, and it was with no small regret that I saw them possess themselves of my knife and pencil-case, which being keepsakes, I would fain have preserved. My pocket-book also passed into their hands ; but upon my exclaiming Passaporta,' it was re. turned ;-a circumstance I hailed with much satisfaction, since in one of its compartments was a letter of credit upon Rothschild for one hundred pounds, which I saved. It may be imagined that I had not much leisure to watch their proceedings with my comrades. I saw my friend's valuable gold watch fly from his waistcoat pocket as they broke the guard ; and I recollect observing the Hamburg gen. tleman crouching on his knees and elbows, with his nose in the dust, under the carriage ; but whether from sheer fright, or by command, I know not, nor did I like to inquire, afterwards. We all lost our braces, with which they appeared extremely delighted, as well as our handkerchiefs. I had a scarf round my neck, fastened by two gold pins and a chain, which I had fixed in with silk. Of course such a prize was not to be left ; and, after many violent attempts to get the scarf away, during which I was nearly strangled, my robber coolly cut it from my neck, pins and all. My readers may be assured that the feel of the cold steel against my neck was anything but pleasant; and I firmly believe that it would have been
a matter of perfect indifference to the brigand whether he thrust the point into my chest or not. When he had concluded I was ordered to retake my seat in the carriage, a cominand which I gladly obeyed, in the hope that they had finished with me; since the leathern purse. belt that I wore had escaped their observation, and in one of its pockets were two of Herries's circular notes for twenty pounds each, besides a few napoleons. But, unfortunately another of the party took it into his head to search me, and I once more got down at his command, which was, as heretofore, accompanied by a loaded gun at my ear. In vain I replied “Nüènte’ to all his sounding of my different pockets. He still remained unsatisfied, and seizing the waist. band of my trowsers, tore them down the side-seam for some twelve inches, when the luckless cintura made its appearance, and was in an instant transferred from my waist to his own. A circumstance also occurred that gave me much uneasiness for the moment. The German had a valuable diamond ring on his finger, which he could not readily remove, and he called to us in a voice of extreme horror that they were going to cut off his finger. He, however, implored a moment's patience, and contrived, by wetting his finger, to take off the jewel. It struck me that I had also a ring which could not be got off, and although not of much value, might still tempt them to mutilate my hand. By good fortune I managed to slip the ring round until the signet was turned towards the palm, and thus escap. ed their notice.
We were not sorry when they thrust us finally into the vehicle ; for we thought it something to have got off with our lives. friend and myself had been walking through Switzerland, and had only two knapsacks for our luggage; but the German's loss was considerable, including, besides his malles and carpet-bag, a writing. desk, in which were some hundreds of francs, and a letter of credit upon a banker at Naples for two thousand more. The only things I saved were the sovereigns I had put into my mouth, my pocketbook, and the little gondolus which were in the same pocket with my handkerchief. As we were starting again they threw into the carriage my old straw boating-hat which I had worn all the way from Chertsey ; but my friend's new Tuscan adorned the head of one of the party as they marched off amongst the trees.
It was midnight before we arrived at Rovigo. There is a pont volant across the Adige, about a league from the town, which it took us half an hour to cross, being—as they always are—on the other side when we got up to the river. They also detained us some time, because we had no money to pay the geld, and I did not choose to exhibit our remaining scanty stock after what had occurred. At last we were allowed
to proceed, under promise of payment on our arrival at the inn. From this spot a tedious journey of an hour brought us to the next town. The roads were rough, and full of holes from the late rains, the horses sluggish, and we impatient to arrive.
They had retired to rest at the post-house, but we soon aroused them; and, having explained our circumstances, despatched a mes. senger to the Stazioni di Carabineri to summon the police, and awaited their return in our bed-chamber. It is but justice to state the proprietor of the inn (the Albergo della Posta at Rovigo) was anxious to show us every attention, notwithstanding we gave him to