Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

junior, by twenty years or so, is still wasting his There is, in the Civil Service of the Crown, a time and talents in uncongenial occupation, for far worse prospect for a young man of ability than which the tapeworm aforesaid might be by nature in the open professions, the church, the bar, and qualified, but for which, thanks to a system of physic; nevertheless, the Civil Service Commission blundering, the junior is utterly unqualified, and so now demand the same class of education as in part doomed to be a man of wasted energies ; one of a would be neccessary for these professions. Morelarge class who are at once the credit and re- over, the majority of persons in the Civil Departproach of the Civil Service of our enlightened ments are—as said Sir Charles Trevelyan (MemoGovernment.

randum on the Superannuation Question, Nov. 8, An instance is better than argument. Take the 1853)—“under a disadvantage, compared with the the following. A. and B. are candidates for the members of other professions, in providing for Civil Service ; they pass their examinations, and their families. The lawyer or physician capitalizes are appointed to two different offices. A. is a his gains when he is in the full exercise of his man of detail-little originality, much industry profession for the benefit of his family; the and neatness in all he undertakes; a man of merchant and banker lay by a proportion of their figures, and in an office where figures are requisite, profits when the times are favourable ; but public a first-rate clerk; but A. is placed in an office servants have no incidental receipts, and the where a skill in composition, or a quickness of salaries of the numerous bodies of clerks, and comprehension is, perhaps, more requisite than his others of that grade in the revenue and other own peculiar virtues. Where all are quick, A. departments are so moderate, and augment so will be slow, aud give satisfastion to no one. B. gradually, compared with the domestic claims upon is of another turn of mind entirely-quick, if them, that they bave great difficulty in making a somewhat irregular, in all he does, save figure provision for their families, even in the customary work, for which he has little ability and less taste; way of life-assurance." In spite of all these but B. is not, therefore, on the score of his in- things, the civil servant is still considered as an ability for arithmetical drudgery, to be deemed a official Aladdin, fit for nothing, but one whose dolt; B. can draw out reports in concise and per- position, nevertheless, is as enviable as his duties — spicuous language--can hit off, perhaps, the salient light, lucrative, and easy. There are many of points of any subject submitted to him with ready them whose abilities would, if better directed, have wit and power of analysis. B. would, therefore, led them to the best honours the open professionis be of service in a secretariate department. But can offer-many men who are content for a very no such thing occurs. He is appointed to an lean annuity to waste those abilities on dry techni. office where the work is mere mechanical drudgery calities and uncongenial daties—and let us hope-where he must sit, biting his nails, day by day, for, in spite of Sam Weller's opinion, "hope" is on his stool, as his poor brain gets bewildered over yet "going”—who will soon have an opportunity, dreary columns of È s. d., over which he will in under a better system than that which is at preall probability blunder, till he is dismissed as in- sent perverting talent and damping energy, of competent, or resigns in disgust. Had A. B.'s proving that, when the “round men,” for once in place, bad B. A.'s; or had A. B.'s ability, and B. their lives, do get into “the round holes,” the A.'s, the nation would not be paying money yearly Civil Service of the Crown will be no worse con. to two incompetent civil servants, who each might ducted than that of the East India Company, or of have been, under a system of judicious selection, any other government whose policy is to secure a useful in a public office.

“fair day's work” by paying “a fair day's wages."

OVERCROWDED DWELLINGS.

"An Englishman's house is his castle.” This able to amuse themselves on the green before the information has been repeated in the Commons ramparts, daring hostilities ; and while they lasted towards the close of the first session of the Parlia- the females were unable to bleach clothes there, ment of 1857, until the statement has become even when they could obtain water to wash them; nauseous in connection with the cause of the but when people cannot procure water to drink, palaver. An Englishman's house may be his castle they are not very particular in their laundry work; as a matter of fact, without that affording him the and at these seasons the beleagured persons were slightest justification for keeping an immoral castle, often scarce of food. As to ventilation, we bave or a castle of one apartment for a family of ten no reason to suppose that it was attended to in and the lodger. Castles in old times were ex- the most scientific manner during these difficulties, pected to stand sieges; and during each siege the even in the castles of England. Ballad testimony garrison suffered from the want of air, of cleanli.is supplied of the value placed on it in one Scotch ness, of food, and of water. Children were not castle, at least, during an assault in the Dahara fashion

[blocks in formation]

of the present century, or on the Irish Rapparee of large towns probably-are criminal because practice in the century before last — by smoking they use moderately clean linen, walk through the out the vietims. It is the language of a mother world in decent clothing, and try to keep comfortto her son under “ galloping suffocation ;" but able apartments. They might have mosquito cur. gradual suffocation is a far more common process tains, if they needed them; but they cannot obtain in these castles of the present day, otherwise de- curtains of any muslin fine enough to exclude ma. scribed by Viscount Palmerston as “ builders' laria, and all the mephitic poisons that float in a dungeons :"

taiuted atmosphere ; yet they are justified in makI wad gie half my lan', my son,

ing war on the pest or the plague in its infancy. Sa wad I a' my fee,

We give this honourable utterer of nonsense credit For a'e blast o' the northern win

for any amount of folly that his constituents may To drive the reek frae thee.

claim in his behalf, but if he die of cholera, engen. Messrs. Ayrton, Cox, and other juvenile members dered by filth in some very poor place, it would of the House, and politicians who have to earn only be a retribution of his folly ; most righteous ; places in the world of speech, and work hard to yet justice is not to be always expected as the obtain them, are evidently ignorant of the true effect of a cause, coming in a mathematically origin of the saying “An Englishman's house is straight line, in the present world. bis castle,” as applicable to very many Englishmen's Why the poor should be assumed thus to be houses, namely, that it is the place in which he unclean, lovers of dust, and revellers in cobwebs resists a perpetual siege, and daily suffers all the and worse, by one section of politicians, is perfectly inconveniences once sustained by the no-surreuder comprehensible. They know nothing practically of people of Derry, and twice a hundred thousand those whom they call the poor. They keep carepersons since then in similarly straitened circum- fully out of their way, and only speak of them. stances. Even when an Englishman possesses a We have known homes inhabited by families who real castle, he has no right to convert it into a wero poor, without any mistake on the subject ; manufactory of nuisances against the health of the and yet, all that water and work could do to make vicinity. All the outcry raised respecting Eng. and keep them clean, was done. The efforts were lishmen's castles in the House originated in a perhaps unsuccessful, from the nature of the acshort bill, so very small that we bought a copy for commodation. In some of the very high Scotch a halfpenny, and paid the money. It is true that houses water could not be carried up eight or ten the Ministry might do much mischief in few words, flights of stairs in sufficient abundance, and it was although that is far from being their common sin; not “ laid on.” In Glasgow we have heard that and in the present instance they deserve the sup: the water company withdrew their goods entirely port of all except the Conservatives of filth and from some “low" districts, but the error will not misery.

again occur, as a magnificent supply of water is Some of these members assume the character of secured for that city, not by a private company, but friends of the people—and they are undoubtedly by the corporation. Public economy of life and champions of the unwashed; but a great majority money consists with an abundant supply of all the of the people dislike that name, and use baths when appliances essential to cleanliness; therefore public they can obtain them. We have always had a officials are entitled to see that people's castles are curious body of politicians, who have stooped to constructed properly. We should not consider it flatter a class for their hardships or their mistakes, a very tyrannical provision by Parliament that all instead of endeavouring to reform the last and new houses should consist of a minimum number of remove the first; but one very honourable member, apartments, with a minimum height from ceiling to who declared that the halfpenny measure was de- floor; of at least a fixed breadth and length, with vised not for the sake of the poor but of the rich, water in each house, a bath room, and all that class is the best specimen of the genus extant, and should of conveniences. We are guilty of not considering be petrified and preserved, if possible, for the a law of this nature very oppressive and týraninspection of the curious in generations yet unborn, nical, although well acquainted with all the and who will be so much happier than ourselves in eloquence that can be and has been employed in the extinction of this race. If the gentleman be the advocacy of filth, indecency, and over-crowding. quite correct, and the measure really was designed Would we not then permit the poor to have a for the safety of the rich, without any regard for bovel of their own ? Certainly not. We have the security of those who are not rich-is there not a bit of sympathy with lovels or with huts crime in that? We have contended long for the either. They are very pretty at a distance in recognition of the serious truth, that the rich can- poetry, and very objectionable in the plain common not shut themselves up in their houses, even if they sense, matter-of-fact, near neighbourhood of prose. be their castles, from contact with the poor, in one But people must have accommodation for which sense ; and therefore, in their own interests, they they can afford to pay. The rents of many should exterminate the nurseries of epidemics and houses are much higher than the wages of many fevers around them. The person who made this families, and with that class of arguments a number uncharitable statement must imagine that the rich of well-meaning personis cheat themselves out of —meaning, by the way, one-half of the population truth. Nobody, unsuited for Bedlam, suggests a s

[blocks in formation]

general equality of houses more than a general | ture was low enough to please a Laplander, when uniformity in servants and silks ; and it has been the frozen snow was crisp and hard beneath one's shown, that even in large towns—in London itself boots, and more snow was falling, we were ac

--homes in which families can live, instead of merely costed by a boy, carrying a very young girl, and subsist, may be supplied with profit at rents not taking care of an intermediate boy and girl, in larger than are paid for shelter worth nothing, Newgate-street. Neither of this juvenile and because ruinously dear at nothing. It is this fact melancholy party wore stockings; the elder boy on which we retire when charged with cruelty. alone had shoes, and all their other garments con

The dearest house property in all large towns sisted with these facts. The family seemed to be is the worst ; yet the rent is paid frequently week wound up in rags. The boy introduced himself by week, and often in advance, and if the expe. in the usual way, and to no useful purpose, as, we riments in a better class of cheap houses were ex suppose, was also the usual way. Cold days, tended into common practice, the builders would however, exercises some influence over people's make a greater return out of them than they ever consciences ; and so, before reaching Ivy-lane, it obtain from villas, squares, and terraces.

occurred to the writer that he had really nothing The argument in favour of extremely cheap very particular to do for an hour, and he returned homes, even if such things existed, is a vicious in search of the family. They wanted money, of race round a circle. A family are too poor to pay course ; but money was not all they required, or for a home that can be kept clean and made probably was not much use alone. So we passed healthy. The male portions of the households by some means, near cuts and closes, through Little dislike the appearance and the noisonneness of Britain, to Goswell-street, along the Barbican, their room, and they stop at the parlour of the through streets altogether unknown in the regions public house. The female division of these fami. of Parliamentary experiences, until that misnamed lies share their companions' disgust, and follow | Golden-lane was reached, and in a court opening them to their remedy; or stop at home, break into that thoroughfare, at a corner of the court, down their spirits, grow slatternly, and the evil we were shown by the stockingless guide and his becomes incurable. The whol history is one of shivering companions up two pairs of outside and cause and effect, but the cause and the effect rickety stairs, with dwelling-houses obviously change positions frequently. It is a perpetual opening on each landing-place, and into one room, motion of a moral or immoral character, and never to the consternation of one woman and one child, bas stopped, and never will stop, until one of the to whom our friends stood in the closest family springs be broken and thrown aside. Our oppo- connexion, one woman with two children, who resition to cheap dwelling houses rests on their presented herself as a widow, and one younger non-existence.

There are

no cheap dwellings. I woman with one child, who could not evidently Plenty of low priced pretences are to be found claim the same title, and the man who was whitenot lower priced, however, than might suffice for washing. tolerably convenient homes; but the former are The mistress of this castle of one apartment, dear at any price, and deserve the application of assured us that the whitewashing had been comany other adjective rather than “cheap."

menced at that unseasonable date in consequence Englishmen might, however, pay a little more of the death of one of her children by fever. As occasionally for their castles, with advantage and that event did not seem to be regarded in the ease to themselves, and a little less, perhaps, for common manner, we suggested a total absence of their beer or their tobacco. The opinion is at surprise at this intelligence, and some wonder that least equally true of Scotchmen and Irishmen. any of her children were alive. None of them We have seen a man, a hard working man, who, were at school. None of them could read much. we were also told, was not a curiosity—at least, Their father was a dock labourer, and there was in the respect for which we deemed him odd, er- no work at the river during the storm. The elder roneously deemed him peculiar-whose payments boy had been in a place. A manufactory in the for niggerhead, or shag, or twist, or some other neighbourhood was named as the scene of his last description of tobacco, amounted to sixpence employment. We were acquainted with the prodaily, three shillings and sixpence weekly, or nine prietor, and promised the re-instalment of the pounds, two shillings per annum. He rented for lad if he had done nothing very wrong. Therehis family and himself a house, costing three to upon the countenances of the party fell; and, four pounds annually. Now, if he had taken on after a little fencing with the question, we learned lease a castle at nine pounds two shillings per that the young applicant for aid, under the advice annum, rent and taxes, and paid only three pounds and temptation of others, stole twine. Little by the year for Virginia, he would have been a more hope remained for him until he could earn a happier person, and could have defied the police character, always a work of greater difficulty than inspection into the alleged overcrowding of his to lose one.

. tenement.

The inhabitants of this single apartment were The metropolitan members, especially the twelve in number. The widow, and also the younger gentlemen, know little of their constituen- mother who was not a widow, professed to be only cies. One day of last winter, when the tempera- casual lodgers, turned out of the workhouse only

[blocks in formation]

a few evenings previously. The house evidently are constituted the judges of the manner in which supplied no sleeping apartments, and nothing more the justices perform their duty. Still, the bill says than “ bare boards" to sleep upon. It was nothing of a power of entering Englishmen's equally defective in other necessary articles—for castles vested in the police. That body of men it had nothing capable of carrying a moderately have a general idea of the breadth and height of small quantity of coffee from a coffee house, until the apartments within their jurisdiction. They the bright idea occurred to the boy with the shoes, also know, or are expected to know, the number that something might be borrowed from above; of persons who inhabit usually the houses in their and above be went, and was successful. The beat. Their Commissioners may instruct them to crockery ware on the premises consisted, we under report cases of overcrowding; and as each restood, of one whole cup, and it seemed rather a port ensures to the policeman considerable trouble, subject of congratulation that it existed.

he will naturally be economical in his informations. Without professing to know much of the fron. | The Commissioners, after the case has been thus tier between the City and Finsbury, we believe introduced to them, may proceed as directedthat this was one of the Englishmen's castles repre- first with, but second, if need be, without the sented by Mr. Cox, who imagines that, in protecting justices. The eloquence thrown away upon

the places of this description, he vindicates the liberty tyranny of the police entering castles, and tres. of a man to foster disease in his family, and all the passing within dwellings, to count the number of families around him; and the imagination of the their tenantry, was a pitiable waste of froth if not junior member for Finsbury is, in this instance, of thought. The long title was “An Act for the perfectly correct.

Prevention of Overcrowding in the Dwellings of The absolute want of employment would justify the Poor.” The words, “of the Poor,” were individual submission to its consequences, and meaningless and useless. Who are the poor? leave the public culpable for neglecting cases of Those only in a legal sense who receive charity, or that nature ; but the three females in the single subsist on parochial relief. The words, therefore, room were all employed. They had shoes to bind, which are absolutely unnecessary, limit the operaor some similar operation to perform; and as they tion of the act. The second or short title fixed must have earned some money, the probable mode the nature of the bill in a more sensible manner. of its expenditure would have appeared more pro. It was there styled “The Crowded Dwellings mising, if more than one cup had existed among Prevention Act, 1857,” and that was sufficiently the families.

general; but Mr. Henley amended that description The statements of some of the City officials by words which limit its application to lodging. respecting overcrowding in courts and lanes, close houses ; and the second clause defines the meaning upon the district where these persons possessed of a Common Lodging-House, in at least a negatheir single room, proved the necessity of some tive way: power more impartial than that of landlord or

No house or part of a house which would be deemed tenant, to prevent it. The employment of the police to be a common lodging-house or part of a common lodging. in these investigations may not be the happiest house, if the lodgers therein were not members of the same selection that could be made.

The police are da- family, shall be exempted from the provisions of the said turally unpopular with the class who are likely to lodgers in such house or part of a house are members of the

common lodging houses acts by reason only, that the be compressed in this manner; and the arrange- same family, unless such family consists solely of persons in ments of buildings within towns might be placed the relationship of husband, wife, grandfather, grandmother

, under the surveillance of a different department. father, mother

, child or children, grandchild or grand, A strong case was made against this little bill

, children, and the burden of proving such relationship shall because it allowed the police to enter people's

lie upon the persons against whom proceedings are taken. dwellings and inspect them. The measure itself A question might be raised on the words of this -it only contains two working clauses -expressed clause, whether a son-in law or a daughter in-law no opinion on the entrance of the police into any could be deemed part of a family. These are not castle. The only words that could be construed included in the clause as it stands, although their into that meaning commence the third clause, and children are members of the family for the purthus run :

poses of this act. The child might be legally reWhenever it appears to the Commissioners of Police of the out of the family circle, not by the family but by

tained while the mother might be legally tbrust Metropolis that any house is so overcrowded as to be dan. gerous or prejudicial to the inhabitants of such house or of the Commissioners of Police. This circumstance the neighbouring houses, and the inhabitants of such first requires explanation ; but, perhaps the son or mentioned house shall consist of more than one family—the daughter-in-law is considered legally a child to one Commissioners may apply to the local authority mentioned in the “ Nuisances Removal Act for England, 1855," to person, while a father or a mother to another, by cause proceedings to be taken, &c., &c.

some common, great, and overhanging precedent,

or statute, that keeps everytbing in order and First, they are to apply to the justices ; second, place. Brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces, are after the lapse of seven days, if the justices do excluded “ for the purposes of this act," and cannothing, the Commissioners are to work without not become members of one family, so far as it is them, but at their cost. Thus, the Commissioners concerned.

[blocks in formation]

The law of England says, in another place, that arrangements on these vessels necessary for the a man may not marry his own grandmother, and comfort and health of the passengers. The law mankind generally refrain from infringing on this should make the same provision to maintain the law; but our little halfpenny bill excludes a man's lives and strength of those individuals who stop great grandmother or great great grandfather from at home as of its subjects who travel. The reguhis family, and is equally cruel to his descendants lations respecting emigrant ships were made beof the third generation ; yet cases which might in- cause the emigrants are often unable to act for volve either of these classes of relatives are not un- themselves. They proceed upon the same reacommon. Verbal criticisms are often puerile, but sons that dictated the management by law of when the composition criticised is that of an act factories and mines. The tenants of low-rented of Parliament their character changes, and the dis- houses are in a similar position. They are unable cussions of the past session have not shown emi- to command good accommodation, even if they nent skill in drawing hills among the Governmental comprehend its necessity, and are willing to make subordinates.

the requisite payments' for its use.

They need This act would have provided against the protection because they are unable to protect themmiserable overcrowding in the single apartment selves. The bill introduced in the Upper House, wbich we have noticed, for it arose from parts of passed, sent to the Commons, and sold for a halfthree distinct families; but it could have done penny, is not the thing required. The public nothing to prevent the absolute overcrowding by interest needs a law against the construction of one of these families—that one which consisted of bad and defective dwelling houses-rooms where eight individuals—immediately before the fatal fresh meat is spoiled in one night, and lives are fever case. This subject has never been met in shortened by seven years on an average. If it be any bill, and yet it interferes with other improve- right to demand good ventilation for workshops, ments, and stops the way for useful legislation. it must be better to seek it for sleeping apartments. Two years since a bill was introduced by Lord The labouring classes of this country spend oneRobert Grosvenor to stop Sunday trading in the third of their lives in sleep, or nearly; and twometropolis. The measure was sought by many of thirds of that large population, including children the tradesmen who felt their incapacity to take and females, pass a much larger portion of their care of themselves, and required Parliamentary aid. time in those rooms that were magniloquently It was opposed upon many pleas, of which the most designated castles by ambitious members of Parlianotorious were the rows in Hyde-park. One of ment. The homes of many families are in a sanathe more remarkable arguments against the bill tory condition; or as near to that state as their was founded upon the allegation that many families, circumstances will allow; but of a great number living in single rooms, could not purchase meat on it be said with truth that they require to be Saturdays, and keep it fresh until the next day, radically revolutionised; and this work will never because it would be tainted in their dwellings. The be effected without an act of Parliament, limiting argument was not founded upon the summer tempe- the compressure of the population into boxes, or, ratureof extreme weeks, but the general fact that the as Viscount Palmerston more aptly describes them, state of the rooms wherein families lived by day and into “modern black holes.” night would taint food in twelve hours. The We have no sympathy therefore with the Engstatement may be perfectly true; and if flesh lishman's castle mania. High sounding words in suffers in this manner from the pestilential air of one ill ventilated house—and the House of Comthese rooms, how fares it with the human beings, mons is very objectionable in that respect—will especially the young who breathe it always and not help the difficulties of a thousand or a hundred ever, sleeping or waking? We cannot be asto- thousand dwelling houses. The set of politicians nished, in these circumstances, that half of the who suppose that they can gratify any considerable deaths in the towns of Britain and Ireland are proportion of the community by lang age of this those of infants under five years of age. The kind, are not fast men in the right sense. They argument was worth nothing more than as evi- are altogether as much out of date as old almanacs. dence that we valued the dead flesh of bullocks They serve the purpose of old almanacs. They more than the lives of children. The bullocks remind us how men felt and thought long, long have a moncy value, and the children have none. ago. They are as good as any other antiquarian

Every fact collected upon this subject confirms curiosities; and would be in the right place on the feeling, that a new and different class of mea. the shelves of a museum. sures from any hitherto proposed are necessary to A very large proportion of the present generasecure the comfort and health of society in large tion see their own wants and those of their times, towns, and even in rural parishes. The law limits and their number will increase ; for death, or even the number of persons who may be crowded disease, cannot be traced to any social cause clearly together for half an hour in an omnibus. The and distinctly without ultimately securing its relaw regulates the number of passengers who may moval, even although, as in this and many similar be placed for a few weeks in an emigrant ship. cases, the way out of the evil has to be tunnelled The law even provides for the existence of certain through mountains of self-interest and prejudice.

may

« PreviousContinue »