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Old Simcox, my master, to keep me active, used to give me a shilling for every writ I served. He used to say there was nothing like rubbing a young dog's nose in the blood, to make him sharp after the game.
Well, with these shillings I used to go to the Coburg gallery. That gallery was my salvation. When I used to see the villain, who'd been so lucky all through the piece, chopped down like chopped wood at the last, my conscience used to stir worse than the stomach-ache. And so by degrees I liked the playhouse more, and the writs less. And one day when Simcox told me to go and serve a writ upon the very actor who used to do me so much good-for he was always the cock of the walk as far as virtue went-I gave him such a speech about "tremble, villain, for there is an eye," that the old fellow gasped again. When he had recovered himself enough to fling a ruler at my head, I put on my cap and turned my back upon the law. After this, I sold playbills at the Coburg doors, and that's how I picked up the deal I know about the stage.
And so I went scrambling on till twenty, and how I lived I don't know. Indeed, when I look back, I often think money 's of no use at all; folks do quite as well, or better, without it. Money's a habit-nothing more. At twenty-how it happened
I can't tell-I found myself a tradesman. Yes; I sold baked 'tatoes, and-on nipping winter days— used to feel myself a sort of benefactor to what is called our species. I had read a little at bookstalls and so on; and many a time have I, with a sort of pride, asked myself if many of the Roman emperors ever sold 'tatoes, salt, and a bit of butter for a penny? I should think not. Well, at three-and-twenty down came that bit of money on me! Whether it was really a relation who left it or not, or whether it was all a mistake, I never asked-I took the money. And that bit of money made me swell not a little. Yes; I swelled like a toad-full of poison with it. Then I went to make no end of a fortune. I thought luck had fallen deep in love with me, and I couldn't go too far. There was a gentleman who always came with an order to the Coburg. A few years ago I should have said he was a Jew; but now I know manners, and so call him a gentleman of the Hebrew persuasion. Well; if he couldn't talk melted butter! We were both to make our fortunes, but I was to find the money for the couple. We went upon 'Change; and, as he said, both of us were ruined. Ruin, however, could have been nothing strange to him, for he never seemed the worse for it. From that time, Peter, I was flung upon the hard stones of London. I had too much pride to go to the
'tatoes again, and so took to billiards. Ha! Peter, it's dirty bread; it's bread with the headache and the heartache in it. That wouldn't do long; though how I did shuffle, and hedge, and make the most of the innocent, and all to try and keep myself respectable.
I tell you, for fifteen years I fought it out like a man. I didn't care what came of it, what folks said of me I would be respectable. A superfine coat and a prime dinner I would have; but ha, Peter! it's all been taken out of me. I've given it up, I tell you, and I'm a happy cabman. Bless your soul! you can't think what a happy life it is. Always seeing something new, and always riding with somebody. For you must know my cab isn't one of the new concerns that divide the drive and his fare. That wouldn't suit me nohow. No; I like to ride upon what I call an equality, and talk and learn life as I go; you can't believe the sort of people that I sometimes drive about, and the things I get out of 'em. But I intend to write it all down, and to save the bother of posting, and all that, to print my letters at once. Then if my dear relations and acquaintance that are scattered in all the corners of the world don't know anything about me, 'twill be their fault, not mine.
I couldn't have thought that a cabman's life could have so improved the mind. But when we
meet at the Spotted Lion-that's our wateringhouse-there's something to be heard, I can tell you. I never troubled my head with politics before I drove a cab: no, I was little better than an animal; but I should think that now I know something of the Bill of Rights, and all that, and all from the newspapers. When the nosebag's on the old mare, don't I read the debates in Parliament !
I was going to write you a bit upon the Sugar Question, but old Lumpy-he's our waterman— has called me for a job. So at present no more from your cousin and wellwisher,
LETTER II.-To Mrs Hedgehog of New York.
MY DEAR OLD GRANDMOTHER,-Thank all your stars and two garters that you're out of England ! We're all going to be made Catholics. It's a settled thing. You ought henceforth never to cook a supper of sprats without looking at the gridiron, thinking of Smithfield, and being special grateful for your deliverance. Nobody can tell what's come to half the bishops, and three parts of the clergy.
Such a noise about surplices and gowns! The old story again. The old fight-as far as I can tellabout white and black: one party vowing that the real thing's white, whilst the other will have it that the true white 's black. Yes, grandmother, it's the old battle of black and white that, as far as my learning goes, has for hundreds of years filled this nice sort of world of ours with all kinds of trouble. Nobody can tell what's set these ministers of peace -as they call themselves-all of a sudden in such a pucker; but I think I've hit upon the cause, and here it is.
All this noise in the Church has begun in the playhouse. I'm sure of it. Foolish people say and write that we English folks don't care about plays. There never was such a mistake. In our hearts, all of us, and especially many of the bishops and clergy, dote upon the playhouse; but then, you see, it isn't thought quite the thing for the clergy to go there. The Bishop of Exeter-I'm cocksure of it-has a consuming love for a pantomime; but then he wouldn't like to be seen in the boxes of Drury Lane, giving his countenance to the clown, that takes his tithe of all sorts of things that come under his nose. The Bishop of London too-he, I've heard it said, got made a bishop of by some intimate acquaintance of his that wrote plays in Greek. Well, he can't go and