« ZurückWeiter »
Castle, Four Courts, Trinity College, St. George's Church, Blue Coat Hospital, Castle Chapel and Tower, Royal Exchange, exterior and interior of the Metropolitan Chapel, Corn Exchange, Stamp-office, New Theatre Royal, Holmes' Hotel, College of Surgeons, Royal Dublin Society House, King's Inns, Lying-in Hospital and Rotunda, Linen Hall, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Nelson's Pillar, and the Wellington Testimonial-enclosing a draught of the city, embracing a circle whose diameter is two and a half miles. If one has been somewhat acquainted with large cities, this map of Dublin will leave an impression upon the mind more flattering than an actual survey of the city itself, as is often the influence of pictures. Yet Dublin is a great city, and not without many features of magnificence. The bank is its proudest public edifice. The Custom-house is especially attractive, and well exposed in all its parts. Trinity College is a very extensive pile of buildings, of heavy masonry, sombre features, and for its purposes a proud national monument. The Four Courts is a grand and imposing structure. The Postoffice is not much inferior to the new Postoffice of London-the latter built in the reign of George the IV., characteristic of every thing done under his command, not calculated to lighten the burdens of the people. The plan of the metropolitan chapel was for a grand affair, but the poverty of the Catholic church in Ireland affords little promise at present of its being finished. Nelson's Pillar in Sackville-street, in the heart of the city, and the Wellington Testimonial, erected in Phenix Park, were at least expensive, and are thought worthy of the names which they commemorate. Dublin must not be compared either with London or Edinburgh. It must be looked at by itself, and then it will afford materials of much interest and worthy of observation. It is crowded with public edifices, not enumerated above, of various classes, especially of a benevolent and philanthropic character. Its principal and only spacious and grand street is Sackville, in which is the postoffice, itself being the great centre of fashionable resort. Dublin lies low on the river Anna, which divides it in the middle, running from west to east in a channel, which, like the Thames in London, admits shipping nearly to the heart of the town; but unlike the Thames in one important particular, its banks through the entire city being confined and walled by the best masonry, always clean and wholesome, fit for the most agreeable promenades, and showing all along some of the best parts of the town; whereas the Thames, in all its length through the metropolis of England, is excessively muddy and offensive at low, water, and its bosom above London bridge, that is, above the harbour for shipping, always covered with coal-barges and other unsightly craft, with a world of lumber; its margins being approached by
little else than coal-wagons and such like vehicles of burden, so that no one is tempted to loiter even upon the bridges to look upon the river, but naturally turns away his eye, and hastens across, intent upon his errand, and desirous of finding more agreeable things to look at. The Thames is an unseemly vision, and the channel of all the filth of that immense metropolis. But the Anna of Dublin is as beautiful as her name, a little channel indeed, but well dressed and comely. And the bridges, thrown across all along from the head of Eden Quay at convenient distances, up to the King's bridge near the park, are generally fine specimens of that kind of architecture.
The harbour of Dublin is not good, and is difficult of access in bad weather. To supply this defect, and to commemorate the visit of George IV. to Ireland, a new town, called Kingstown, in honour of the royal favour vouchsafed in the decree which gave it being, has been commenced on the south of Dublin harbour, six miles from the city, and is now in a rapid state of advancement. An artificial harbour of immense expense is in building at that place by government, and nearly enclosed-enough to be in use; and those steam-packets, which have need to ply independent of tides, are accustomed to enter and go out at Kingstown. On the south of Dublin, some three or four miles, running east and west, is a beautiful range of hills.
Dublin and Ireland seem to be crammed with beggars. Rags, filth, and misery are more conspicuous than any thing else, at least more remarkable, as they are everywhere and at all times to be seen, and cannot fail deeply to impress the feelings of a sensitive mind.
Next in rank to the army of beggars, and to keep them in order--and like the beggars to be seen in all places—are the king's troops, which have made Ireland a land of beggars, and which will keep it so while the occasion of their presence, to enforce the collection of tithes, shall be considered a suitable and sufficient warrant.
I had not been long in London before I passed a man, and a little girl perhaps thirteen years of age, on a cold frosty morning, both standing just within Temple Bar, barefoot, in the veriest tatters of garments, and shivering as if they would fall in pieces with the cold, as well I thought they might. Their exposed, half-naked, shivering frames were the only appeal made to the passengers. They said not a word. The first sight of them was to me truly affecting. It seemed like a case of fresh and some unutterable mis
fortune. But I met him again and again in the same place, and always shivering, himself and the little girl, in the same
Not long afterward I met him early on a Sunday morning, before the citizens were moving, on his way with the girl, both still dressed in the same manner, and going to take up his position. As the winter had been a very mild one, with seldom a frost, I frequently passed him, when his shivering appeared affected and forced; and the secret being out, it would rather dispose one to laugh than excite pity. But when the morning happened to be frosty and sharply cold, I could not doubt that whatever money he got was well earned. But he was a professional beggar, and not unlikely a rich man—at least well provided for, if provident.
In the neighbourhood of Covent Garden I was accustomed for months to meet a plump-looking girl, with ruddy cheeks, about eighteen or twenty years old, who, during all this time, if we were to take her own word for it, had never eaten“ a bit of bread, nor mouthful of any thing.” Her importunity excelled any beggar in London. It was next to impossible to get rid of her without giving. I presume she found the benefit of it, and was probably well off.
I was also for a long time habitually molested by another mendicant girl of the same age, in the vicinity of the Bank of England. I told her one day, if she ever accosted me again, I would send a policeman after her. She probably marked my face, as she did not trouble me afterward, although I frequently passed her.
On the south side of Waterloo Bridge is ordinarily to be found a man who has lost both his legs near his body, whose misfortune is sufficiently evident. Few will decline giving to him. He never solicits, except by a look. He dresses decently, is in excellent health, will tell his story when asked, and is said to be very rich. No doubt he is.
There was a little fat but ragged girl in the same neighbourhood, about ten years old, whose importunity and success were quite notorious. I was passing her one day in company with two ladies. She sat upon the ground, making figures in the sand with her finger, her back towards us, and singing. I said to my company—“Our little friend here is so miserable, she cannot help singing. I will engage, the moment she sees us, as I am in company with ladies, she will follow us till she gets a penny. For they know well that the presence of ladies is a great help to them when pleading with gentlemen.” In a moment her impudent face was before me, herself hopping along under my toes, and singing a very different tune from that I had just heard. “Can you not sing that other tune ?" said I. But she stuck to the last one, which was this—“My father 18 dead, and my mother is sick-and I and the children have
nothing to eat. Please, sir, give me a penny.” And, to get rid of her, I did so.
On the great high road at Islington, opposite Canonbury Square, there used to stand an old man (now dead), as regular at his post as the houses in the neighbourhood, always looking down upon the ground, resting by one hand upon a broom, the other open in the manner of asking alms, but never using his tongue-and one foot for ever rising and falling by measured intervals of time. Slipping penny into his hand one day, I said—“My friend, how much do you get in a day here?"_" About ten pence, sir-sometimes more.” More likely ten shillings.
A beggar nearly blind, maimed, or badly deformed, is sure to get money. I know not whether any persons have ever put out their own eyes, or maimed themselves, for the profits of begging. I should think not, but these calamities are often affected and imitated. There are numbers of these classes, whom any person resident in London will soon get to recognise as old acquaintances. To affect blindness successfully requires a good deal of practice in the mechanical effort of rolling the eyes into the head. It is always betrayed to persons who think of it. Such impostors may often be seen poking their way along the sidewalks with a guiding-stick, holding out a hat or hand for alms. They are distinguished by the constant rolling of their eyes. Mischievous boys sometimes aim a blow at them, as a test; but anticipating these assaults, they seldom blink. Some of the blind beggars are led by a dog, the little animal being taught to carry a tin basin in his mouth, and to look up imploringly on passengers, seeming to say, “ Please give my poor blind master a penny." The penny dropped strikes the ear of the beggar, and the dog turns and offers it to his hand. Artificers and other workmen out of employ not unfrequently form platoons, parading and marching through the streets, singing boisterously and most discordantly; and so with sailors. A sailor with a miniature ship, and a weaver with a loom, contrive to get money in the streets.
I have an old acquaintance in London of years standing, of the class of beggars, who all this while has had his station in the street with an arm just broken, splintered, and slung up; his under jaw dislocated, and held up by a clean handkerchief, marked with fresh blood, and tied over the head; is otherwise and variously wounded, all freshly done, of course, from day to day; and from year to year; is blind; just ready to faint and die; says not a word, for he is too exhausted with pain, and agony, and loss of blood, but swings his head to and fro most piteously, as if when it falls towards one shoulder the bearer thereof would expire before he could bring it back again. He succeeds well.
There is another, almost bent double with pains of some
kind; is pale and ghastly; cries so loud and piteously for help along the sidewalk, that his voice penetrates every ear and thrills every heart, in the remotest parts of each house which he passes. I had long supposed it a case of real distress, till I met him one evening in the twilight going home from his day's work, erect and hale, with as firm a step as any other man-the bandages of his face being thrown aside. It happened that I had met him in his begging rounds the morning of that very day. The next time I recognised his cry in the street, I took my hat, and overtaking him, said :-“But why don't you stand up and be strong, as I saw you the other night going home?)
“ How-ow-ow?” said he, in a long, drawling, heart-piercing tone, affecting to try to look up, but without success; which completely unmanned me; and notwithstanding I had full evidence of his imposture, I let him alone, and went into the house, regretting my experiment.
There is another case of a well-dressed, good-looking man, always clean, who has paraded the streets of London for years with a flute, three girls (probably daughters), Deatly apparelled with clean white aprons, standing in a line with him, fronting the side of the street, as he plays his flute, which is not very well done. The eldest of these girls by this time, I should think, is eighteen years, and the youngest perhaps twelve—a singular course of education, looking so well as they do. This is of all others a most successful experiment. Every one who is not familiar with the exhibition, concludes at first sight, and without doubt, “this is a case of real distress; the man and his family have been in a better condition, but are suddenly brought to beggary;" and, instead of giving him a penny, will give a sixpence or a shilling. I presume there are few tradesmen in London, men of prosperous business, who are making money faster than he. The last time I saw him with his daughters, who have grown up since I first knew them, was in the Strand a few days before I left London, when one of the poor girls was crying. I imagin. ed—for who that sees tears does not inquire into the cause ? —that these daughters had begun to feel a little of the pride of womanhood, and to deplore the tyranny of an unnatural father, who, for the love of money, had doomed them to such an existence, and still held them in bondage.
The modes of beggary in London are as diversified as the genius and faculties of the inventors.
Obvious physical infirmity is of course the most effectual, as none can resist its appeal. Hence deformed children are hired out to beggary, and feeble, helpless, emaciate infants exposed in the streets, and supposed to be kept feeble and emaciated for this purpose! They are probably orphans, fallen into the hands of monsters, One cannot believe that a