Academies, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

The Curate’s Egg

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I must dedicate these the humble fruit of my undertakings to that king of kings and lord of lords which dwelleth in the heavenly firmament, St. Gove (sweet Gove!). Since t’is the first attempt I have made to be a public writer there can only be one to whom I might dedicate such a delicate undertaking. T’is he whose benificent gaze shines ever downward upon us (miscreant or otherwise) and whose divine goodness urges us to ever greater heights of quality and rigour the Sainted Gove. The subject of my account is such that were it not for the sake of moral instruction it should not be regaled ‘cept in company so disreputable as to be beyond all redeeming, save at the end of the hangman’s noose.

On the fourteenth day of February, 1876, the Albatross sailed, with full compliment of men and provisions, from the East India Docks in London. The ship was cheered the harbour cleared and merrily did they drop, it did seem, off the face of the earth. For when the ship had run six days out of the harbour the crew were spirited up to an act of piracy by a shipmate on board, one Robby Farthengrodden. An experienced sailor and the only son of a wealthy industrialist of Sloane Square, who had once given into his care two industrial schools (the value of which and its students he had squandered away in profligate degeneracy,drunkeness and riot).

The aforesaid Robby Farthengrodden and the crew having ditched the ship’s officers in a long boat on the high seas, went on a six month long rampage of terror, taking many prizes (amongst them the younger daughter of the governor of Windeypoole) before dropping anchor at the Isle of Hispaniola. Once there and having thoroughly quenched all his wicked and delusive desires he betook himself aboard the Beleaguered Watchman from which he was rescued (it having sunk mid-journey).

Having disembarked at the Royal Docks in London, he was identified by a cabin boy as that depraved miscreant whose wickedness had led to the hanging of the Albatross’s quartermaster. And once taken into custody it was further revealed that this dissolute and hell-bound soul was none other than the ‘Crinoline Jerker’. A licentious being who having taken to diving beneath the skirts of the gentler sex, proceeded to tug violently at their petticoats jerking them to and fro, till at length the fainting women would awaken to find themselves stripped of bonnet, and purse. This evil man had been indicted many times for this offence and had served three years at Newgate Prison as a result and, was to have served a further four, but he absconded having been permitted a day’s release from prison to attend his mother’s funeral. 

Having been indicted for trial Robert Fathengrodden’s defence was this, that whilst Headmaster of St Tobias-in-the-North Industrial Academy, he had run up gambling debts to the sum of some four hundred pounds. Seeking some means whereby he might repay the debt, he had come upon that sum in the form of monies supplied for the purchase of a brass lavatorium and had stolen it (the monies not the lavatorium). Attributing his current predicament to that first misfortune he made his apologies and sought the forgiveness of the court for all offence caused whilst at sea. The court having been made aware of certain elements of his dissolute past (the deflowering and probable murder of Mary Parnham being among them),determined to send him to the gallows.

Indeed, had it not been for the testimony of the Most Reverend Father Antecletes the accused would have been for the long drop ere he departed the Old Bailey! At the place of his execution he stated that his would have been a joyous life devoted solely to the pursuit of ecstatic Goveen reflection had not several industrial schools and, the provision of a brass lavatorium fallen into his care. And that he knew there were many young men there, who followed the same evil course of life that he had done, and hoped they would take warning from his sad fate, and become in time honest and good men.

Reverend Amos Vanderbilt,

Ordinary of Newgate

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Persons of Immediate Interest & the Others

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The honourable Robert Farthengrodden, defended in an appalling admirable manner by the Kinsella QC (and so, acquitted of the murder of sweet, Mary Parnham, upon the defence of sonambulistic wanderings). Estranged from Lady Bedelia Farthengrodden, mother of his six children, who, as a consequence of the scandal entered holy orders as a novitiate of the Goveen Sisterhood. Having gained his freedom he took up a position as a work house guardian that he might atone all the better for his past sins. And once he had won the favour of Miss Peepy, he took over the onerous duties of auditing the Workhouse accounts. Well, she said, he said iz duties was ‘onerous’ and indeed they must have been, for six months into the job, he disappears and a hundred pound of charitable contributions disappears with ‘im!

T’was a tragedy dear reader! T’was a horror that such as once graced the corridors of power should have stooped to such immoral depths. That a gentleman of such good breeding should willingly have plunged into such swirling, suppurating deeps as these! Why sirs! I know not what to comment! Except, that in the words of St. Gove that translucent effervescence, sic transit gloria mundi, so passes away earthly glory. And furthermore,non teneas aurum totum quod splendet ut aurum (self explanatory).

And so, from Monday to Sunday (and back again) I lay in wait for Robert Farthengrodden, whom, I heard told, had taken lodgings at the East India Club. As a rule, once a man has succoured himself extensively (and in public), upon the bosom of iniquity, the upper echelons keep their distance. Not so with Farthengrodden and, once I had ascertained that he would be in residence for some time,I was able to avail myself of a lunch invite in the company of Alf (the fence)De Quincey.

“Well” says I, “This is a pretty pass, twenty minutes sat here drinking turtle soup and still no sign of him”

“Oh he’ll be in to dine right enough, he’s taken to one of them gels what lives in the cupboard.”

“What cupboard?” says I,

That cupboard.” says he, lifting one delicately manicured thumb and jabbing it towards a large ebony wood grandfather clock wot lay behind him. Well as I turns me head I see’s the most peculiar sight. There’s a door at the base of the clock and as it opens slowly I see first a pale hand and then a foot wriggle itself out of the compartment, followed by a reed like neck and two blinking peepers! “Well, well,” I says, “This is a most peculiar practice, a most peculiar practice, stashing one’s servants in a grandfather clock! What will the ruling classes think of next?”

“Tis the necessities of the Crimean” says Alf with an air of mystery.

“The necessities of what?” says I flummoxed by the pale, reedy looking gent quickly clearing away our soup dishes. “The Crimean, they’re refugees and since they ain’t got regular papers” (the reedy gent proffers a soiled gloved hand for a tip which Alf won’t give, on principle), “They works ‘ere for board and lodgings” well, my eyes narrows  at that and I asks,”Whose idea was that?”.

“Ask ‘im” he replies jabbing his thumb once more behind him where I espies none other than the once honourable Farthengrodden squeezing hisself into the Grandfather clock lodgings. He has half disappeared into the cupboard already, but with all speed I leap towards him and grabbing ‘im by the scruff of the neck I declares,”Not so fast my lad! You’ve charges to answer!”

“Charges?” says he all innocent and such,

“Of Larceny!” Says I, not put off in the slightest by his gentlemanly appearance, for t’was upon my breast that the elderly Miss Peepy cried her poor Christian heart out! “Larceny!” I exclaims once more, tugging on the collar of his dinner jacket. “Look lively my lad! Come to it! For my name is Sergeant Qwinty sir, and you are to attend the the Magistrate’s pleasure!”

“Magistrates pleasure?” says he looking suitably puzzled for our conversation has drawn the attention of other gentleman, and are they bemused by the sight of refugees wriggling out of their hiding places? Not at all! They look prodigious perplexed that such a gentleman as this should have fallen once more into scandal in the midst of their club. “Magistrates pleasure!” I repeat the words casting my eyes around the gentlemanly gathering in a meaningful sort of way, whereupon they draws themselves up indignantly and pointedly resumes their dining. “Come along peaceably won’t you?” and eventually he does for there’s no evading justice once it has you in its grip. And so, dear reader, I carried the depredatory gent off to Bow Streets Magistrates. And once there, in due course, the rascal charmed the Magistrate into letting him off.

T’was nigh on a week later when I spotted the ‘Spitalfield’s Workhouse Robber” strolling back to the East India Club, he was arm in arm with a pallid, wan looking creature, a Crimean lass no doubt. I had little time to reflect upon this as I was headed toward Bow Streets Magistrates, this time with a pickpocket in tow. But later in the day, over a glass of Sherry at the Nags Head Tavern, the following words sprang to mind,

It’s the same the whole world over,
It’s the poor what gets the blame,
It’s the rich what gets the pleasure,
Isn’t it a blooming shame?

-Billy Bennett

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Academies, Academy status, ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire

Equal Protection Under The Law (Roughly)

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Robert Farthengrodden considered himself to be the pampered minion of misfortune; he was restrained in youth choosing not to frequent the various dens of ill-repute that his contemporaries did. Fastidiously avoiding the highways and by-ways of sin, adhering abstemiously to the tenets of Gove and entering full service therein with his Aunt, Lady Farthingrodden’s blessing. He might have continued thus, an ordained reverend,adjuring his flock to cling religiously  to the well-lit paths of sweet Gove and smiting the unrighteous into line with his shepherd’s crook, were it not for the angelic appearance of sweet Mary Parnham. Miss Parnham, second child of the infamous Master Parnham lately of Raven’s Industrial Academy, drew the eye of the ill-fated Farthengrodden and kept it.  A’swoon with licentious craving, the Reverend Farthengrodden threw off the shackles of conubial bliss escaping with that misguided maid to Spitalfields, a pretty distance from the resplendent and noble country estate he had previously called home.

Embracing wholeheartedly a depredatory existence, he took up residence with sweet Mary in a string of disreputable boarding houses (for even these dens of iniquity have their standards), eventually winding up disinherited by his grieving Aunt, and wholly dependent upon what he termed an inadequate allowance, bequeathed to him by his impoverished (though genteel) mater.

Lucinda Bedelia-Farthengrodden sought audience with her husband (which was granted) and throwing herself at his feet, beseeched him to repent and return unto the bosom of his suffering family. “She is and always had been a model of feminine probity, my sainted companion before the throne of Gove and mother of my children, what was I to do?” Indeed, what was he to do with sweet Mary clinging to him so desperately, “like a barnacle to the hull of a wayward ship” as one of the detective police put it. “The dear partner of his sorrows, was dear no more once he realised he’d have to enjoy ‘er without his inheritance!” said that same officer of the law chuckling.

All may weigh the soundness or unsoundness of his conclusions, for on the 10th of January, on a cold, crisp Monday morn, Mary was found strangled. And upon the alerting of the detective police t’was discovered that whoever had ‘done’ away with sweet Mary had also attempted to hide the evidence of his misdeed by setting fire, unsuccessfully, to the bed. ” There was no doubt he’d done it! T’was an open and shut case I would have thought” murmured that same detective of the police. And so thought His Worship Judge Peepey, that is, until his clerk bethought him to pay close scrutiny, to which barrister would be mounting the reverend’s defence in this particular open and closed case of murder, “T’is ‘im agin your worship” he muttered, misery sat squarely upon his face. His Worship groaned, he clutched his stomach, “What?! Tobias Kinsella QC? Again?” Judge Peepey remembered well his last ferocious skirmish with Kinsella which had seen justice most indubitably done, but had forced him to take to his bed for a week. “And what of the counsel for the prosecution?” here the judge’s clerk rolled his eyes,”Jeremy Fitzgibbon funded in all good consciense by the state”

“Fitzgibbons? Dear God!”

His Honour considering whether it might not be best to hand the case on to some other more learned friend, and learned from his grim faced clerk that there were none more learned, or more stolid in their suffering than himself; he must attend to the case.

On the day the trial opened the public gallery was so crammed with onlookers that it was impossible not to concede that this was (almost) the most infamous trial of the year,if not the century. The charge? That the Reverend Fathengrodden had done away with Mary Parnham in order that he might return to the family seat (and his wealth) unencumbered by her. “In short that he ‘ad murdered the misguided wench so as he could ave his cake and eat it!” the detective police chuckles quietly to himself as if for all the world he were discussing some light hearted topic or other. Leaning in closer to his confidant he murmured the following,

“You may ask what the defence is? Sonambulism!Sonambulism! That’s sleepwalking to you and I! An as far down the road of depredatory existence as he has travelled I doubt not there’ll be a whole string of ruffians ready to testify as to his sonambulisitic cavortings! He’ll get off! T’is beyond reckoning! For who you may ask prosecutes him? Fitzgibbons the drunk! And who defends him? Queens Counsel Kinsella! Ha!”

Ha! Indeed, for Kinsella is well known at the Bailey for causing many an ailing case to spring suddenly to life, filling the public galleries to bursting with his eloquent oratory, and causing all who enlist his help to escape the noose of justice. A feared ‘physician of the Old Bailey’ he is the scourge of most sober prosecutory types. Take the case (or cases if you wish) of the infamous Moll Wetland, acquitted several times of offences the detective police were adamant she had committed, “She and er gang have scandalized Spitalfields for years’an that’s sayin something! Does she go down for running sneak thieves and buttock twanging? Does she ever! Acquitted time after time by Kinsella!” our detective police pauses for a nip of sherry and continues,” ‘ouse robberies,pick-pocketing, sneak thievery,gonophing, you name it she ‘ad a hand in it! We gets hold of ‘er and she’s bound for the Bailey, Kinsella gets hold of her and she’s acquitted and up to her old tricks again!”.

I am told that eventually the problem of Moll Wetland was satisfactorily resolved in Ireland, where upon having been taken and convicted of sneak-thieving, she was transported from thence to New South Wales. “Ireland! I ask yer! On one offence they did for ‘er in a way we couldn’t! Kinsella will get Farthengrodden orf I tell yer! You see if he don’t!” the detective police is indignant, his calm has all but departed from him and as he lights a cigar he sighs heartily. For indeed who would not? T’is a parlous state of affairs indeed, when, for want of a little money and a worthy and skilled barrister, justice is not seen to be done.

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