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a smile of that peculiar character which I never saw any one give but himself.
<- What excellent music!” observed Mr Murphy to the “performer" of funerals, trying to soothe him down a little.
"" Whir's music to a hungry stomach ?” said the other, lowering his brow. “Can I dine on music?
• • Never mind," said a sturdy unwashed personage, the very image of Thistlewood of Cato Street notoriety, his head halt buried in his breast; “ never mind, my friend, you are at no loss any how. I would not give a farden for the whole kit of vat vas on the table; it vas no better tban"
*"* It's all very vell for you to say so, aster you have had a bellyful of the vitals," interrupted the undertaker, his choler rising still higher and higher. " I say, Nr Savage,” he continued, “if I don't get something to eat, I'll be"
We think we have now fairly exhibited the versatility of our author, and have shown that he is equally at home at Almack's and the Marylebone Festival—we would only respectfully make one suggestion. In his next edition let him transfer the respective dialogues. The conversation which he ascribes to the ladies of Almack's would, we think, do just as well for the Marylebone Festival; while that which he relates as a faithful transcript of the conversation of the tradesmen of Marylebone, would be very pretty small-talk for great ladies, as they are imagined and depicted by our literary Alcibiades.
The author of the Great Metropolis' next invites our attention to the subject of Literature; and he treats it in a manner that must be allowed to be quite original. An ordinary writer stumbling on such a theme as the Literature of the British metropolis, at a period when it presents phenomena of peculiar interest, would have tasked his gravest powers to analyze the motley and active competitors for fame in that mart of intellect and knowledge. He would have entered into elaborate and careful criticisms on the authors—perhaps (if inclined to portraiture or gossip) he might have indulged in graphic sketches or characteristic anecdotes of the men. Not thus vulgar and commonplace is the design of the writer before us. He takes a view of the subject at once new and practical. He only estimates books by the prices they fetch in the market. He calculates the number of copies they sell. He can tell you to a farthing what an author gets for his copyrights. For example, his criticism on the * Life of Lord Exmouth' is,—that it sold 1500 copies! He passes in review travellers and tourists, medical men, poets, novelists, and historians,--and reduces them all to arithmetic! He, however, exempts from the class of authors thus estimated, one meritorious tribe, of whom he speaks with an affection that seems sym
pathetic-viz., 'those whose works have
fallen still-born from * the press!' He thinks that works of superior talent are con• signed to eternal oblivion the very moment they have been
ushered into being. He declares that the resurrection of · Milton and Hume from the land of forgetfulness was merely • the effect of chance;' and that it is beyond all question that • the works of many others of great talent have never been
awakened, nor ever will, from the sleep of death, into which • they fell on the day of their publication.'
In another chapter, on · Authors and Publishers,' he renews the subject ; and now, for the first time, we are surprised by a deviation into something like sensible remark and accurate information.
The following anecdote is amusing—si non é vero é ben trovato :—When the new edition of Mr Peter Cunningham's • (son of Allan Cunningham)" Poems of Drummond of Haw• thornden” was being subscribed, one of the same class of book• sellers, to whom the volume was submitted, enquired of the • publisher, whether this Henry Drummond of Hawthornden was
any relation of Henry Drummond the banker;-adding, that if • he was, he would take a couple of copies, as he was sure the
private friends of the author would ensure the sale of the book • to a certain extent.'
We subjoin a passage which we really think deserves the serious attention of booksellers.
• There is another error, into which I think some of the leading publishing houses fall. It is an error which arises from a spirit of misdirected rivalry, and entails suffering on all parties. My allusion is to the practice which has been so common of late years among the leading houses, of bringing out important works as nearly as they can about the same time. If one house sees a rival establishment announce a work which promises to be popular, at a given time, such house very often makes a point of either delaying or accelerating, according to circumstances, some important work of which it may have undertaken the publication,
---so as that it may appear about the same time as the other. I have often known three, sometimes four, interesting works brought out within a few days of each other, solely from this spirit of rivalry. The consequence is, that the public attention being distracted between them, they all suffer to a greater or less extent; whereas, if an interval of a few weeks baul taken place in the publication, the public attention could have been exclusively given for a short time to each, and thus greatly increased the sale of all. I say nothing of the extert to whi:} literature suffers from this injudicious rivalry among publishers; because that, strictly speaking, is no matter for their consideration. I put the question wholly on the broad ground of business. I may be told that the number of books which are published in the course of a year is so great that two or three, from rival houses, must necessarily appear more or less frequently at a time. In answer to this, let me remark, that my observations do not apply to books taken in the mass; they have a reference only to works whose interest and popularity are in some degree guaranteed by the name of the author ; and these assuredly are not so numerous that an interval of two or three weeks could not be suffered to pass, by a little arrangement, between their respective publications. I would throw it out as a suggestion to publishers, whether it would not be advisable, viewed merely as a matter affecting their own pecuniary interests, to come to some understanding with each other on the subject.'
Several chapters are devoted to the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange, and the Stock Exchange. We may observe generally, that the latter portion of the work is much better than the commencement : the author is not without talent, whenever he chances on a subject not wholly uncongenial to its display. His anecdotes are often racily told ; and though he does not possess the qualities of an authentic narrator, he sometimes exhibits those of a pleasant gossip. The following passage certainly presents the grave business of the Stock Exchange in a point of view that will a little surprise our country readers:
• The first impression of a stranger on entering the Stock Exchange, were he not previously otherwise informed, would naturally be, that instead of being met to transact important business, they had assembled for the express purpose of having a little fun and frolic together. You not only hear them uttering, in addition to the sounds just alluded to, all other sorts of sounds, some of which partake a good deal of the zoologi-. cal character, but you see a large proportion of them playing all manner of tricks at each other's expense. One of the most approved of these tricks, if we are to judge from the extent to which it is practised, is that of knocking one's hat down over one's eyes. This pastime, I believe, they call "eclipsing,” or “bonneting." "If the hat only goes down so far as not to prevent altogether the use of one's luminaries, it is, I presume, called a partial eclipse ; but when the application of one's hand to the crown of the hat is given with such vigour as to force it down over the optics of the party who chances to be at the time the person played on, it is called a total eclipse. How far it can be so called with propriety is at least a debatable point; for I have been assured by those who have undergone the somewhat unpleasant experiment of eclipsing, that if they saw nothing else, the severity and suddenness of “the whack,” to use Stock Exchange phraseology, has made them see stars innumerable. How many crowns of “ best beavers” have been so completely “knocked in," as to render the hats ever afterwards unwearable, by means of the process of eclipsing, is, I suspect, a question which the most skilful calculator in the house would not undertake to decide. The cases from first to last of the destruction of hats in this way, must be innumerable ; but the ingenuity of some of the members has discovered other means of assisting the hatters, where the eclipsing plan fails of effect. The members in question are remarkably expert at knocking the hats of other members of their heads altogether, and then kicking them about on the
floor until they are shattered to pieces. So marked indeed are the hatdestroying propensities of some of the members, that a stranger would come away with the impression, that they were in the pay of the leading city hat-manufacturers. Query-Are they so ?
The dexterity which many of the members have acquired from long practice, at playing all manner of tricks with the hats of each other, is really surprising, and would, were they inclined to accept it, procure them an engagement at any of the theatres. By wetting the fore-part of their fingers, and applying them to the hat of the party to be operated on, they, unconsciously to him, can make it let go its hold of his head, and then, before it has quitted his cranium entirely, they give it another "touch,” as they call it, with the aforesaid forepart of their fingers, which sends it spinning through the place a distance perhaps of forty or fifty feet.
• There are various other pastimes which are daily practised on the Stock Exchange, besides those I have mentioned. Occasionally you will see walking-canes, umbrellas, etc. moving about through the place, to the imminent hazard of the heads of members. Chalking one another's backs is one of their most harmless expedients, when in a larking humour. The figures sometimes made on these occasions are of so odd å character, as to be equally beyond the pale of Euclid's mathematics, and the tailorifics of any German knight of the thimble, or any other distinguished professor of the “fitting” art. It is scarcely necessary to say that when a person's back is thus well chalked he cuts a very odd figure. Not long ago, two of the gentlemen of the house mutually chalked each other's back with every conceivable variety of stroke, without the one knowing that the other had been playing any of his old tricks. The other gents, or at least that portion of them who most keenly relish a little frolic, had, of course, their laugh at the expense of both parties, while they individually richly enjoyed the affair, thinking they had achieved å wonderful exploit in having got through the chalking process without the party chalked being aware of the trick that had been played him. When others looked into their faces and laughed heartily, they each fancied it was in the way of giving them credit for their dexterity, and congratulated themselves accordingly. Little did either suppose the other gentlemen were laughing at, instead of with, them. But perhaps the most amusing part of the affair, was that of the two chalked parties laughing most immoderately at each other, and winking at the other gentlemen around them, by way of self-gratulation at the ridiculous figure the one had been the means of making the other look. When the discovery was made of how they had tricked each other, both were mortified and crest-fallen in the greatest degree.'
From the Royal Exchange our author proceeds to the Old Bailey, and favours us with some historiettes, which, making allowance for the exaggerations common to one who indulges in the dramatic artifices of dialogue, are characteristic enough. But the gem of this chapter, and, indeed, of the whole work, is the description of a gentleman whose enthusiasm seems to have taken a direction so original, that he ought to make the reputation of a novelist,--and to a novelist, sooner or later, we predict that he will fall a prey
• Mr Curtis is known to every body in and about the place, and nobody can know him without being attached to him. A more honest, kind-hearted, or inoffensiye creature does not exist. For nearly a quara ter of a century has he been in constant attendance at the Old Bailey, from the opening to the close of each session, never, so far as I am aware, being absent, with the exception of two occasions when attending the county assizes. He is particularly partial to wet weather, and is as fond of a rainy day as if he were a duck. He is never so comfortable as when thoroughly drenched. His taste for executions, and for the society of persons sentenced to death, is remarkable. · He has been present at every execution in the metropolis and its immediate neighbourhood, for the last quarter of a century.
This may appear so improbable a statement, that it may be proper to mention I have it from his own lips; and nothing in the world would induce him to state what is not true. Nay, so powerful is his propensity for witnessing executions, that, some years since, he actually walked down before breakfast to Chelmsford, which is twentynine miles from London, to be present at the execution of Captain Moir. For a great many years past he has not only heard the condemned sermon peached in Newgate, but has spent many hours in their gloomy cells, with the leading men who have been executed in London during that time. He was a great favourite with poor Fauntleroy. Many an hour did Mr Curtis spend in Newgate with that unfortunate man. He was with him a considerable part of the day previous to his execution. With Corder, too, of Red Barn notoriety, he contracted a warm friendship; sleeping, I think he has told me, repeatedly on the same bed as that unhappy man had been accustomed to sleep on. Immediately on the discovery of the murder of Maria Martin, he hastened down to the scene, and there remained till the execution of William Corder, making a period of several weeks. He afterwards wrote “Memoirs of Corder,” which extended to upwards of three hundred pages. The work was published by the present Lord Mayor, then Mr Kelly; and being published in sixpenny numbers, had a large sale. Three portraits, ali engraved on one piece of plate, embellished the work. They were portraits of William Corder, Maria Martin, and Mr Curtis himself
. I believe this is the only literary work of Mr Curtis; he is proud of it ; nothing pleases him better than to be called the biographer of Corder.
* By some unaccountable sort of fatality, Mr Curtis, where he is unknown, has always had the mortification of being mistaken, under
very awkward circumstances, for other parties. He was never at Dover but once in his life, and on that occasion he was locked up all night on suspicion of being a spy. When he went down to Chelmsford, to be present at the execution of the unfortunate captain, whose name I have already mentioned, he engaged a bed early in the morning the day before the execution, at the Three Cups Tavern. On returning to the im in the evening, he saw' every body stare at him as hard as if he had been a giraife. The female servants rushed out of his sight the moment they fixed their eyes on him. Among the men-servants, in addition to the feeling of horror with which they clearly regarded him, he heard a variety of whispers, without being able to understand the why or wherefore. At last, the landlady of of the Three Cups advanced a few steps towards him, though still keeping at a distance of some yards, and said in tremulous accents and with quivering frame, -"We cannot give you a bed here : when I promised you one, I did not know the house was so full as it is.”
our Ma'am,” said Mr Curtis, indignantly, at the same time pulling himself up—" Ma'am, I have taken my bed, and I insist on having it.”