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Macaulay, Thomas Babington-Bentloy's Mis-
Among the more salient features of the , der is that horses or men ever get safely to Metropolis which instantly strike the atten- their destination : the wonder is still greater tion of the stranger are the stations of the that no one is ridden over in their furious Fire Brigade. Whenever he happens to pass drive. them, he finds the sentinel on duty, he sees Arrived at the place of action, the hunter's the “red artillery” of the force; and the pol. spirit which apimates the fireman and makes ished axle,the gleaming branch, and the shin. him attack an element as determinedly as he ing chain, testify to the beautiful condition would a wild beast, becomes evident to the of the instrument, ready for active service at spectator. The scene which a London fire a moment's notice. Ensconced in the shadow | presents can never be forgotten : the shouts of the station, the liveried watchmen look like of the crowd as it opens to let the engines hunters waiting for their prey--nor does the dart through it, the foaming head of water hunter move quicker to his quarry at the springing out of the ground, and spreading rustle of a leaf, than the Firemen dash for over the road until it becomes a broad mirthe first ruddy glow in the sky. No sooner ror reflecting the glowing blaze-the black, comes the alarm than one sees with a shud. snake-like coils of the leather hose rising and der the rush of one of these engines through falling like things of life, wbilst a hundred the crowded streets—the tearing horses arms work at the pump, tbeir central heart covered with foam--the heavy vehicle swerv- --the applause that rings out clear above ing from side to side, and the black helmet- the roaring flame as the adventurous band ed attendants swaying to and fro. The won- throw the first hissing jet-cheer following
cheer, as stream after stream shoots against * Annual Reports of Mr. Braidwood to the Com- the burning mass, now Aying into the socketmittee of the Fire Brigade.
holes of fire set in the black face of the houseHealthy Homes. A Guide to the proper Regula- front, now dashing with a loud shir-r against tion of Buildings in Towns as a Means of Promo the window-frame and wall, and falling off ling and Securing the Health, Comfort, and Safety of the Inhabitants. By William Hoeking, Arcbt. in broken showers. Suddenly there is a & C. E. London. 1849,
loud shrill cry and the bank of human faces VOL XXXV.-NO, I.
is upturned to where a shrieking wretch their former establishments, and this process hangs frantically to an upper window- continued while the parochial engines, with sill. A deafening shout goes forth, as a few honorable exceptions, were dropping the huge fire-escape comes full swing into disuse. upon the scene : a moment's
About the year 1833 it became evident all is still, save the beat, beat, of the that much was lost, both to the public and great water pulses, whilst every eye is to the insurance companies, by every engine strained towards the fluttering garments acting on its own responsibility-a folly flapping against the wall. Will the ladder which is the cause of such jealousy among reach, and not dislodge those weary hands the firemen at Boston (United States), that clutching so convulsively to the hot stone ? rival engines have been known to stop on Will the pimble figure gain the topmost their way to a fire to exchange shots from rung ere nature fails? The blood in a thou- revolvers. It was therefore determined to sand nearts runs cold, and then again break incorporate the divided force, and place it forth a thousand cheers to celebrate a daring under the management of one superintendent, rescue. Such scenes as this are of almost each office contributing towards its support, nightly occurrence in the Great Metropolis. according to the amount of its business. A still more imposing yet dreadful sight is all the old established companies, with one often exhibited in the conflagrations of those exception,* shortly came into the arrangevast piles of buildings in the City filled with ment, and Mr. Braidwood, the master of the inflammable merchandise. Here the most fire engines of Edinburgh, being invited to powerful engines seem reduced to mere take the command, organized the now celesquirts ; and the efforts of the adventurous brated London Fire Brigade. Brigade men are confined to keeping the mis- At the present moment, then, the protecchief within its own bounds.
tion against fire in London consists, firstly, When we recollect that London presents in the 300 and odd parish engines (two to an area of 36 square miles, covered with each parish), which are paid for out of the 21,600 square acres of bricks and mortar, rates. The majority of these are very ineffiand numbers more than 380,000 houses ; cient, not having any persons appointed to that all the riches it contains are nightly work them who possess a competent knowlthreatened in every direction by an ever- edge of the service. Even women used present enemy; that the secret match, the now and then to fill the arduous post of spontaneous fire, and the hand of the drunk- director; and it is not long since a certain ard, are busily at work; it is evident that Mrs. Smith, a widow, might be seen at connothing but a force the most disciplined, and flagrations, hurrying about in her pattens, implements the most effective, can be com- directing the firemen of ber engine, which petent to cope with so sudden and persever- belonged to the united parishes of St. ing a foe.
Michael Royal and St. Martin Vintry, in the As late as twenty-two years ago there was city. We question, indeed, if at the present no proper fire police to protect the Metropolis moment any of the parish-engines are much against what is commonly called the "all. better officered than in the days of widow devouring element.”. There was, it is true, Smith, with the exception of those of Hacka force of 300 parochial engines set on foot ney, Whitechapel, Islington, and perhaps by Acts which were passed between the two or three others. Secondly, there are an years 1768–74—Acts which are still in exist- unknown number of private engines kept in ence--but these engines are under the public buildings, and large manufactories, superintendence of the beadles and parish which sometimes do good service when they engineers, who are not the most active of arrive early at small fires in their neighbormen or nimble of risers. It may easily be hood, although, singularly enough, when imagined, therefore, that the machines ar-called upon to extinguish a conflagration in rived a little too late ; and, when brought their own establishments, they generally into service, were often found to be out of " lose their heads," as the Brigade men exworking order. Hence their employment press, it; and very many instances have did not supersede the private engines kept occurred where even the parish-engines have by some of the insurance offices long prior arrived and set to work before the one on the to their existence. On the contrary, owing premises could be brought to bear upon the to the increase of business which took place about this time, the different companies • The West of England Fire-Office, which retains thought it worth their while to strengthen the command of its own engines.