Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, Uncategorized

The First Appearance of a Peculiarity

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Natural selection in microcosm, the estimable Darwin perceived that which the ruling classes had practiced for centuries, and was astounded by it. T’was the process by which our great empire and its worthy custodians had ruled the world entire!

Alas, little did they realise that whilst nature may be trusted generally to do its work, at times a vicious whimsy causes things to go astray. Hence the tragic demise of Lady Edina Pembroke, who upon sensing a genetic deficiency in Lord Henry, deemed it expedient to abandon him at birth on a Cornish cliff top. 

Alas that her sacrifice resulted in her own premature death from Pneumonia and the rescue of the child! The family of Lord Hesketh-Elderberry was far more discerning. Lord Wilberforce bore a most sadistic disposition and a minor physical defect, but this wasn’t deemed so debilitating as to necessitate his demise. His sister however, nursed an obsessive fondness for her servants, their children and their grandparents. 

To forestall this abhorrent and degenerative progression the family sent her to a Goveen Priory at the age of five. However having entered holy orders Wilhemina was hastily sent home for stealing the Abbess’s treasure chests. She had been caught in the middle of Molten Tussock Minor tossing the Abbess’s gold into the grimy hands of the poor. T’was obvious the child was not cut out to sit at the feet of Gove and so a family conference was called to discuss her fate. The Dowager Hesketh-Elderberry suggested the family watch the girl closely and wait. Mayhap further imbecilic traits would surface obliging them to consign her to St Bacchanalia’s Asylum, mayhap not.

A decade passed as both children evolved and their intellects burgeoned and flourished and then, one summer’s eve, the Dowager Hesketh-Elderberry disappeared. T’was a moonlit night, the night of the village ball, when the aged Dowager was escorted up to her rooms never to be seen alive again.

The estate would have passed to Lord Wilberforce in time, were it not for one inescapable fact, his deranged and obsessive devotion to taxidermy. Many such gory specimens of his flawless talents were to be found, scattered throughout the rookeries of London. Though, to be sure, the police were a little confused as to who to attribute his murderous handiwork to. The Dowager Hesketh-Elderberry’s cadaver was discovered a little after the rookery murders had mysteriously ceased. There she sat, propped up in a rocking chair in a corner of Lord Wilberforce’s study, unsmiling, grim faced as ever, decidedly dead and pristinely stuffed. Upon this discovery Lord Wilberforce’s manservant turned pale and fainted, the chamber maid ran off to fetch her ladyship who in turn sent for the Reverend Unctuous.

“Natural selection” he sombrely declared, “Has accomplished its work! Consign the loon to St Bacchanalia’s Asylum! Rest assured his further degeneration will be kept in check!”

Alas then that fifty years later he should have made his escape! And L’eauregarde with him! Oh calumny! Oh perturbation! But worse was to follow, for even amongst the aristocratic breed there is a tendency to revert back, to that most base and avaricious character lost during some former generation.

“Think what it is you do Edmund! Untie me!”

“You have strayed beyond the bounds of reason! I shall not!”

 “Set me free you wicked, wicked boy!”

“Recant your philanthropy!”

“Recant your beliefs! They are heresy Edmund! Direst heresy!”

Lord Elderberry chuckled softly to himself, a deliciousness stole over him at the sight of his aunt trussed up on the bed. Lady Hesketh-Elderberry sobbed quietly, the sheer devilishness of him daunted her. There was an unnatural gleam in his piercing gaze that betokened madness, t’was the same look his uncle had if he but knew it! A vicious whimsy urged him on to this, but she, in her naivete was to blame! She had welcomed him into her home and her heart, and the brute had seized his chance to depose her!

“You have tainted the sanctity of this family’s reputation with your incessant hankering after the poor! The honour of the Hesketh-Elderberry name is sacred to me! As sacred as my loyalty and duty to England! The ragged schools you have funded shall all be shut down and the poor returned (by force if need be) to their slums!”

“You are heartless Edmund!” sobbed Lady Hesketh-Elderberry “Heartless!”

“I’m pragmatic!” replied Edmund, “The family coffers can only stretch so far, I have my inheritance to think of! I am tightening the purse strings!”

“But you cannot!”

Edmund nestled up to his elderly aunt who had been forcibly tied into a strait-jacket. The sadistic gleam in his deep-set eyes seemed to blot out all sane and moral reason. Lady Hesketh-Elderberry flinched, she averted her eyes and tried to wriggle away, but like the relentless serpent he was he wriggled closer.

“In the event of your sudden descent into lunacy the inheritance the family bequeathed to you, passes to me”

Suddenly he leapt off the bed and enquired of one perturbed (a doctor no less),

“In your most considered opinion could it be said that Lady Hesketh-Elderberry is mad?”

“Yes, indeed, I do believe she is M’lord. If you might be so kind?”

 The bespectacled gentleman uneasily proffered an official paper, which his lordship quickly signed. Oh horror! Oh villainy! With an almighty groan her ladyship propelled herself off the bed and onto the carpet. Wriggling feebly along on her side she tried in vain to reach the bedroom door and so make her escape, but an asylum orderly dragged her to her feet and hauled her over his broad shoulders. Carrying her down the stairs of the family seat he flung her roughly into a waiting Brougham carriage.

“Help!” she screamed, “Help! Oh help!” but t’was too late! Away went the carriage and the lady with it! Off and away to the hinterlands of Grodden Parnock and the lunatic’s asylum of St Bacchanalia!

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, Uncategorized

Three Escape From St Bacchanalia or The Whimsy Of Lord Wilberforce!

 

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The banks of St Bacchanalia’s Asylum are deep solitudes, places of dark and sombre reflection. Yes dear reader, places in which many a Goveen monk, pondering the marshes of Grodden Parnock , whilst lifting his heart to the thunderous heavens, has leapt head first towards the essence of Gove and out of the abbey’ windows. Indeed the boglands of St Bacchanalia’s Asylum lie surfeit with the rotted skeleton of these devotees, who have, they say, ascended unto the essence of Gove! Sweet Gove! Oh that these acolytes might have found more prepossessing ways of embracing thy exalted munificence!

Here scuttle two such initiates now, red-eyed, cassocked and manacled. Manacled?! Manacled! Stumbling over bog and marsh, grunting and panting profane utterances, moving at such a speed that one might think the hounds of hell to be at their backs. As indeed they might be for hark! The alarums of St Bacchnalia’s Asylum shriek maniacally in the distance, t’is certain the farm dogs are not far behind!

“Faster damn you! Move faster Horace! Molten Tussock lies ahead, t’is but half a league I tell thee!”

Mah Lord I cannot! Me legs won’t take me much further, I’m tuckered aht!”

But Lord Wilberforce will not be thwarted, for murder most foul, accompanied by utter incompetence, has now thrust this angel of the apostasy forth upon this world and he will not be thrust back! Had anyone but Horace L’eauregarde hampered his progress! But t’is Leauregarde, co-partaker in his crimes and sufferer-in-kind of the horrors of St Bacchanalia.

T’was he who had freed them from that vast maw of madness! T’is he whom he regales with tales of murders past (bestial and depredatory)which they have committed and intend to commit. Murders which led to the abrupt termination of the life of debauchery they had so vigorously enjoyed! Shocking crimes which, whilst staining the family honour irrevocably, provoked no more than a languorous yawn of pleasure from his Lordship Wilberforce, hence St Bacchanalia!

Leauregarde, his strength renewed, hobbles on and soon finds himself entering a well-worn graveyard on the outskirts of Molten Tussock. Ah! Molten Tussock! Lately home of the deceased Reverend Tout-Puissant who now lies in that part of the graveyard reserved for unhallowed deaths. But now here lies a sight for which the wit of man cannot conceive an explanation, a boy, cherubic in appearance kneels before a gravestone, a worn copy of the Testimonies of Gove clasped to his little breast, a lone, forlorn presence in in this solitary place, he alone mourns the passing of the Reverend.

“Oh, but look your Lordship!Look!” dishevelled and devilish, Leauregarde his face awash with murderous glee, advances but the cold grip of Wilberforce Hesketh-Elderberry stops him.

“Oh Sweet Gove! Mystery of mysteries! Oh! Tueri of my soul! Have mercy upon me!” cries out Monty sobbing so quietly (that even these two fresh escaped inmates must creep closer to hear him) Monty Eckard plucks a sparkling white handkerchief from his pocket and wipes his flushed face with it.

So bereft, so heartbroken, once plucked like a brand from the burning and now plummeting back into that vast maw of Malthusian catastrophe some called London, for now his Iron-Slitting apprenticeship is past where else is he to go? The Union Rep had promised him a berth at the most prestigious ragged school in all of London, run by the most estimable Lady Hesketh-Elderberry, but what mean’t that to such as he? Severed from the succulent vines of the Goveen priesthood he must surely perish!

The poor boy sobbed and sobbed as if his little heart were as broken as his little neck might well have been, had Leauregarde (and not Lord Wilberforce) grasped it.

“Keep still you little devil or I’ll cut your throat!!”

“Oh don’t kill me sir! Don’t hurt me! You are a Goveen are you not sir? Does it not say in the Testimonies of Gove that none are so deserving as the poor?”

“Which sonnet?” asked Lord Wilberforce as he tightened his hold on the boy’s shirt front,

“The Patriarcha! As composed by Brother Filmer!”

“Recite it to me!” said he loosening his grip and the child did so, hand upon his shirt front as he swayed hypnotically from right to left and back again reciting the Sonnet of Patriarcha in the sonorous tones of the late deceased Tout-Puissant. T’was wondrous to behold and Lord Wilberforce little doubted that, with Leauregarde kept in check, the child would prove a most affable companion on his long journey back to London.

“Cor ad loquitur my child! Your utterances have flooded my spirit with such joy!”

Clasping the child’s small, cold palm in his, his eyes rolled heavenward and he sighed,

 “The last time I felt such ecstasies t’was at St Paul’s Cathedral, in the company of the Reverend Unctuous! Then stood I before the altar of Gove bathed in that sweet radiance which his presence alone exudes!”

“The blue light?”

“The bluer light my child! So smitten was I by his holiness that I prayed that he might take me up to the third heaven. To that exulted paradise whence sit all those who have attained a degree of spiritual perfection!”

“Where sir?”

“I’m hungry child, have you something I and my companion, Brother Leauregarde, may eat?”

“I have a little bread and some cheese sir, and a cold chicken stuffed with Turkey Twizzler compote”

“Dear boy!”

And as the two men fell upon the victuals ravenously was ever a boy more rapt with joy? Alone no longer, no longer bereft, but rapt! Rapt with joy and no longer alone! Seated upon the gravestone of the Reverend Tout-Puissant, swinging his dainty legs to and fro, he observed his two companions. He noted for the first time their manacled feet and hands and hesitantly asked,

“Shall I fetch an iron file from the blacksmith’s forge? Then you may cut your chains and we may be away to London!”

L’eauregarde favoured the child with a calculating look, does he mean to report them to a constable? But Lord Wilberforce clasped the child to his muddied cassock and bestowing kisses upon his head, sent him off with the unction “May Gove go with you!”

“Sweet Gove” replied the poor, deluded, acolyte, for acolyte he had become and to one whose fiendish crimes once sparked riots through half the slums of London!

Spencer Perceval(1762 - 1812) British politician; prime minister (1809-12). He is remembered mainly for his assassination in the House of Commons by a mad and bankrupt broker, John Bellingham. Copyright

 

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Academies, ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Uncategorized

Descendit Ad Inferos

 

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“Oh my dear Sirs! In what raptures I was, when first I came to Molten Tussock!” cried Monty Eckard, clutching the Testimonies of St Gove to his worsted frocked chest. “T’was as though the very ether of Sweet Gove had fallen upon my senses! The first time I heard Sweet Gove’s voice I was in the Iron Slitting pond, wading through the muddy waters sorting mud from Iron slit. T’was on a day when all seemed heavy and burdensome, t’was before the days of the Reverend Tout-Puissant”.

The Bow & Bromley Education Board, listening with ever increasing ire, to the wan faced child’s ‘religious’ experiences, remains silent. T’is more out of practicality than inclination, since they are moving at break neck speed along bumpy country roads and, must therefore concentrate their efforts on remaining upright. But one there is who, seated outside the carriage, alongside the carriage driver, leans forward into the oncoming wind like a Greyhound sniffing out his prey. His greying hair flies loose in the wind, his blue eyes are narrowed to mere slits and his lips, bluish with the cold, are pursed thin with foreboding.T’is none other than the Union Rep, or should I say the Member of Parliament for Bow & Bromley,”Dare’st we go no faster comrade? The greatest evil ever to befall man has befallen the Iron Slitting Apprentices at Molten Tussock! I know not what disaster we shall find ere we reach there!”

“My little Obed Plum is apprenticed at Molten Tussock Sir, as well you know! Any faster and the wheels may fall off the carriage! Were the fiends of hell at my horses’ heels I darest not gallop any faster than I do now Sir!” And so the coach and its glossy coated stallions gallop on, over hill and dale and tussock. Light fails and yet ever onwards they speed,through mire and mud, and the nefarious mists oozing forth from the marshlands that surround them. “Where is this?” asks the Union Rep, a fierce and sullen look clouding his brow, “T’is the swamplands of Brume Polder” replies Master Knowham with an equally fierce look. “Thats not the place where?” Master Knowham nods his head,”The same, nigh on twenty apprentices drowned tanning moleskin leather  trousers in the bogs, and the rest, struck down by the Scarlet Fever, t’was a terrible scandal Sir!”

“And who, pray tell, was held responsible?” asks the Member of Bow & Bromley but he thinks he already knows the answer,”T’was the most Reverend Tout-Puissant! He as had the boys worshipping and meditating on the testimonies of Gove for so many hours that, their constitutions being quite run down, t’is a wonder any of them survived the onlaught of the Scarlet Fever. And now you may answer me Sir! How such a one as he came to be made Headmaster of Molten Tussock!”

“I know not! And t’is to my shame to say that! Can ye not go faster comrade?” and suddenly having recalled the tragedy of Brume Polder, Master Knowham finds he can. Faster than the speed of light, faster even than the frigid breeze caressing their faces, so fast that the horses’ hooves seem scarcely to be touching the ground they pass over. And so as the miles pass the spectre of Molten Tussock looms ever nearer.

So, dear reader, let us turn our attentions back to Master Parnham. He whom we left venturing forth from the Slitting Iron Tower, hand-in-hand with little Obed Plum. Into the twilight evening they slip, limbs a-tremble and hearts beating so fiercely within their narrow chests, that t’would seem as if the fierce palpitations warned against their imminent entry of that fearful heathen sanctuary known to all apprentices as ‘The Chapel’. T’is twilight but the skies above are alight with colours seldom glimpsed in this world or the next. For t’is twelve hours since the slitting works was last attended to. “All is not right Master Parnham” wails Obed, his eyes widening with fear at the sight of the scarlet tinged blue flames belching forth from the cavernous mouth of the overheated slitting furnace.

“Worry not child, I am with thee” murmured Master Parnham patting little Obed’s tiny, calloused palm with his wizened hand. Master Parnham is serene, indeed murderously so, and as a thunderous rage courses through his blood he rediscovers a burst of youthful energy he believed had long since fled his weary bones. With one swift, wiry, kick the oak doors are flung open and the incense wreathed scandal within is piteously revealed.Pew after pew of weary starved looking apprentices turn to look at him, their faces etched with exhaustion their trembling fingers nervously clutching at their leathern testimonies. And all the while as he draws ever nearer to the altar that terrible unearthly singing,

“Everytime I feel the plumb-line moving on my heart I pray!

Everytime I feel the plumb-line moving on my heart I pray!

Up on the mountain Sweet Gove spoke,

Out of his mouth came fire and smoke!

Everytime I feel the plumb-line moving on my heart I pray!

Everytime I feel the plumb-line moving on my heart I pray! “

The Most Reverend Tout-Puissant is deep in meditation, so deep that he does not see the outraged Inspector wrenching at his cassock until it is too late. To be one minute caught up in the ecstasies of Sweet Gove, and the next fending off an enraged School’s Inspector, well dear reader, is it possible to convey the degree of ignominious shame and humiliation which stole none too sweetly over the Reverend? I think not. But more was to follow for all of a sudden the ground beneath their wrestling bodies shook and trembled and a thunderous roaring noise ensued. “Look fast Master Parnham! Look fast! The furnace has blown!” bellowed little Obed his pale face a grim mask of horror. But looking up from the aisle floor Master Parnham smiled, leaping to his feet nimbly he grasped hold of Obed Plum shouting “Nay lad! But I have been here before! Apprentices of Molten Tussock to me!”. And so it t’was that the aged Mole-Trouser-Stretching Master rescued the apprentices of Molten Tussock.

To be continued…..

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Delectatio Morosa

nocharity (2)

“Is his Mibs doing the rounds tonite?”

“Just turned down Cobblers Row get a move on girl! You’ll catch him yet!”

Skittles plucks up her already too short skirts till her crisp white bloomers show almost to the knee and streaks down Bell End Rd turning into Cobblers Row. Hobbling along on his walking stick his Lordship has paused midway on his journey, to have congress with a drunken street walker and two little girls. Another eye rolling situation so far as Skittles is concerned, for his Lordship has an unnerving habit of taking up causes that he would do better not to trifle with, and this is such a one.

A drunken whore wending her way down an infamous street in the dead of night? And with two young silk mill workers? There can be little guessing what she has in mind for them! And has iz Mibs checked the darkened alleyways for lurking pimps? Az e eck! Blowing shrilly through her fingers so that his Lordship twitches and his back stiffens she shrieks “Oi! Oi! Lord Gladstone! Iz Lordship oi!”

There are many back roads to be found from the gates of the Houses of Parliament to Soho and this is his favourite. The Turkey Twizzlers are a delight to smell and taste, and the countless conversations he has had with bloater sellers, market stall holders, cabmen and road sweepers have proved highly informative. Particularly when formulating policy in the Palace of Westminster. The only poison tainting his unbridled joy at the highways and by-roads of London is that overflow of unbridled misery, prostitution. And tonight is no exception,”You would sell these children? And for what purpose?” he poses this question (with his hands softly clasped upon his cane) as gently as if he were talking to a fellow member of the house.

“Would you buy them? I can’t feed them no more, they’ve been laid off orf the mill, I needs must eat”. A cunning look passes over her raddled features as she says this for it is clear that she has not eaten in some time, gin being her staple diet. “Why you could live like a prince off their earnings…once they’ve been fed,will you take em?” asks the child-seller, her words afloat on a vaporous sea of cheap gin, “Thruppence for each of em!There’s plenty of work in em you won’t be disappointed!”. The Right Honourable William Gladstone, Member of Parliament for Newark shudders inwardly and, rummaging in his trouser pocket soon comes up with the ‘two sets of thruppence’ requested. Just like that, in the blink of an eye, the two children are his. Sold to him with less warmth than an African slave upon an auction block.

“A distressing occurence!” he mutters to himself, “And what to do about it? They are too young to be taken to the House of St Barnabas and I don’t see how I can welcome them into my home with out inviting scandal, what to do, what to do, what to do…”

Skittles observing his dilemma thanks god for a cove as soft in the head as this one, she espies a large meal and a warm bed in the offin, if she’s congenial enough.

“How old is they? They looks to be about ten to me” asks she, staring intently at the drugged countenances of the newly purchased children. “Is the age of relevance?” inquires the naif-like politician as much out of irritation as ignorance. “Younger than ten and they’ll arrest you” she states matter of factly, “you may do as you wish if they’s older”.

“How old?”

“Twelve”

“Dear God!Thrust by the tidal wave of degeneracy, into the ocean of depravity, at so young an age? We must save them! Quick! Take them down Bottle Alley and up Bell End Road, I have a hansom cab waiting”.

“For ow much?” she replies, “Creepin roun them back roads with them two they’ll be wonderin’ what I’m a doin thin! There’s risk in it” and she that has spent many a night down in the police cells as punishment for iniquitous wanderings should know.

“Two shillings, a good meal and a lengthy talk against the dangers of prostitution once we arrive home”

“Done!”

It had been a warm summer’s night when first he had strolled out of the Palace of Westminster and headed in the direction of Soho. And yet it feels to him, as if all possible joy and warmth had leeched out of that part of the world that is Soho. “To be reduced to selling one’s children, how terrible!”

Skittles shakes her head angrily,”Hark at you! Sellin one’s children! What makes you think them kids is ‘ers? What makes you think this life is so terrible? I’ve known more Gonophs transported fore they was twelve, than I have Blowens imprisoned for plying their trade. T’is not nearly so bad as you’d make out!”.

“But why must the choice always be thieving or whoring? There are positions a-plenty in London why must the choice always be so morally bleak!”

“I goes to confession every Sunday morn at St-Tobias-in-the-North! I ain’t so morally bleak as you think!”

They walk on in silence tugging the two young girls along behind them down squalid streets awash with sewage; past half dressed women tugging drunken men in through half-open doors. The dark streets are lit up by open pub doorways in which affable customers lounge, they sparkle with the strewn shards of smashed beer glasses. Skittles and Mr Gladstone hurry on, stepping carefully around stinking puddles of gin and the various cross-eyed brutes immersed in beating rogue ‘customers’.

They walk quickly through the dark averting their eyes whenever it is expedient to do so, for there are only so many sin steeped souls a man can redeem on any given night. Striding quickly down Bell End Road they are soon safely esconsed within the Hackney Carriage that will ferry them to a neighbourhood of clean, well-lit streets and respectable homes full of vast well-stocked pantries. Mr Gladstone is elated, that is till he catches himself gazing a little too long at the laced up bows on Skittles begrimed ankle boots, there will he thinks guiltily, be more than one confession to make in his diary tonight.

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

Upon This Sweeping Flood

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Lord Ruckle-Smoot is out of sorts, an ardent supporter of all things American (especially his wife), a covert supporter of all Irish Catholic rebellions, he is ill at ease presenting the government’s imperious stance on Potato Blight. Indeed had his been the inclination the bellicose Palmerston would’ve stood here in his stead. T’is just before the summer holidays and the house is packed to the rafters with bored politicians eager to witness this bruising encounter between Lords Molesworth and Ruckle-Smoot.

“It is more than apparent that an Athenian Democracy would not suit the Irish” Lord Ruckle-Smoot begins, “They are but grown up children and must be governed as such. The place our government occupies towards them is that of a parent or of a guardian admonishing a rebellious and well nigh ungovernable horde”. His mild mannered gaze sweeps the entirety of the house and is met by many a look of approval and the affirming nod of many a Whig politician. “They are an impudent, turbulent, improvident race, wholly disinclined to fix their roofs whilst the sun is shining and, none too averse to consuming abundant quantities of beer at those times and in those places that are the cause of much moral opprobium in England and beyond.”

“Here here!” responds the house in its entirety. But Lord Molesworth is not to be discouraged, he has most recently married, a singular woman of Irish descent (his housekeeper) and his ardour though but recently cooled runs hot under the inference that his Eliza should be termed by birth an indolent, improvident, characterless wretch.

“And that’s to be the government’s final answer on the famine that is destroying the most beleaguered of Britannia’s children?”

“And the most filthy!” roars a government supporter to uproarious cries of 

“here here!”

Glancing expressionlessly at the papers in his hand Ruckle-Smoot fashions a reply that makes him cringe inwardly.“It is sir, and I would remind those who deprecate our efforts to govern Ireland, that our presence there both Christianizes and civilizes a people whose perverse habits might otherwise predestine them for extinction.”

Lord Molesworth looking at his papers smiles sardonically,”It is my suggestion, sir, that the little your government has done to alleviate the condition of that poor nation, has caused such unwarrantable suffering that even Joseph, that great Hebrew Egyptian Patriarch of old, would cry out against you, were he present! It has been said that too much charity (the provision say of monies to buy such provisions as would sustain the people through this trial), might destroy the character of the Irish people”. More politicians declare “here! Here!” though whether they would do so if they had traversed certain streets in London on foot remains to be seen.”And yet whilst we English are richly supplied with Irish grain, over half a million Irish have starved and over a million have emigrated for fear of starvation! A less than Christian state of affairs sir!”.

Glancing up towards the the visitor’s lobby he continues,”T’is all well and good to talk of moral probity and character when one sits to dine four times a day. T’is well and good to speak of firm governance when one lives easefully on a comfortable allowance. And within a respectable neighbourhood where may be kept away the wolves of crime and filth!”. He casts a baleful eye upon the well fed and comfortably seated gentlemen some of whom squirm most pitifully under his searing gaze. “Whilst a mere stone’s throw away from this great and good house, amidst our glorious empire, men and women reside thirty to a room”. Lord Molesworth pauses for effect,”men and women who once farmed their own plots of land in Ireland,dying of Dysentry and Cholera here, in London. No food in Ireland and no running water, no drains and no privies here”. The house is silent in horror, no lavatoriums?! A thoroughly perturbing state of affairs!

“T’is a most impassioned entreaty he makes!” whispers one Irish Radical to another,

“I am told he has recenty married,a fiery woman, well below his position socially, but harbouring strong opinions!”

“An Irish woman?”

“Judging by the look of him exceedingly so!”

Behold! Dear reader! A man flushed of countenance and mildly agitated of demeanour, a man in short, most passionately in love with principle and his beloved! Can such a man but hope to sway the opinions of his most esteemed contemporaries!

“An Athenian Democracy calls he this?” mutters Thomas Bass, he who has poured hundreds of pounds into the construction of orphanages for the children of railway servants killed needlessly in the course of their duties. “An Athenian Democracy?”

The Speaker of the House stifles a yawn, he checks his documentation casts a stern gaze upon Lord Molesworth and asks langurously,”Have you concluded your unctions towards the provision of plenteous grain and monetary aid? May we vote?”

irishmonkey

I’m a dacint boy, just landed from the town of Ballyfad; 

I want a situation: yis, I want it mighty bad. 

I saw a place advartised. It’s the thing for me, says I; 

But the dirty spalpeen ended with: No Irish need apply. 

Whoo! says I; but that’s an insult — though to get the place I’ll try. 

So, I wint to see the blaggar with: No Irish need apply. 

I started off to find the house, I got it mighty soon; 

There I found the ould chap saited: he was reading the TRIBUNE. 

I tould him what I came for, whin he in a rage did fly: 

No! says he, you are a Paddy, and no Irish need apply! 

Thin I felt my dandher rising, and I’d like to black his eye–

To tell an Irish Gintleman: No Irish need apply! 

I couldn’t stand it longer: so, a hoult of him I took, 

And I gave him such a welting as he’d get at Donnybrook. 

He hollered: Millia murther! and to get away did try, 

And swore he’d never write again: No Irish need apply. 

He made a big apology; I bid him thin good-bye, 

Saying: Whin next you want a bating, add: No Irish need apply! 

Sure, I’ve heard that in America it always is the plan 

That an Irishman is just as good as any other man; 

A home and hospitality they never will deny 

The stranger here, or ever say: No Irish need apply. 

But some black sheep are in the flock: a dirty lot, say I; 

A dacint man will never write: No Irish need apply! 

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Hypocritical Cant

Reflections Upon The Milk Of Poor Law Kindness

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T’is a little after one in the afternoon (that is approximately three hours before tea-time) and  precisely seven hours before Mr Ethelbert-Smythe must find himself in attendance at the home of the eminent politician. T’is only three sleeps before Christmas but a’las the poor are ever with us, for they line the alleyway leading up to the Spitalfield’s workhouse as if the mills and the match factories scattered through London had no vacancies!

Some slouch against the grimy walls of the workhouse alley as if those were the only props that might keep them standing. Others appear to have heaped themselves one upon the other, a heap of damp, muddied, half-filled clothes on the equally muddied, cobbled, path. All form a ragged queue straggling down the length of the alleyway,through the narrow entrance way, and into the workhouse stable yard (known to the poor as the casual ward). Some will be lucky enough to spend their first night in the workhouse itself, the rest will sleep here,in their undergarments (the rules of the workhouse do not permit otherwise), amongst bales of hay.

T’is festive enough for the destitute is it not? After all did not Our Lord spend his first night in a cow shed? Safely swaddled and laid a-bed by sweet Mary in a cow’s crib? And attended by no fewer than three eminent sages? Now step forth the guardians of the gate-way, Billy, Gilly and Alfie Croft, known to all as knows them as ‘The Croft Brothers’ and to their betters as the work house porters. At a glance they can tell who can be touched for a sovereign (ere they be let through the gate) and who is likely to be bringing in opium pipes or gin and will thus need throwing out again. “What? You ‘ere is you Milty? Still on the swell I takes it? Well my boy you ‘ad better hook it! And fast! We ain’t feedin none as is destined for Newgate! Hook it proper!” the brothers advancing as one muscular force, their hint is at once taken.

In they advance as one, the wretched armies of the poor, exposed to the brutal unflinching gaze of porterhood. In staggers Queenie McKillen with her baby, little Ellen, clutched to her scrawny chest. Oh she has tried her best to dress herself appropriate for the scrutiny of them that governs who is fit to enter the workhouse; but it is not these pitiful efforts which gain her entrance. Gilly Porter takes in her fragile, heart shaped face and the worn once-costly garments she wears. ‘Whore’ thinks he and visibly bridles with righteous indignation; but then his hard unflinching gaze takes in the child carried close to her bosom. The child whose pitiful pain-wracked whimpers send chills down his spine, though the heart rending cries are as nothing next to the faint reek of vomit emanating from the shawl she is wrapped in.

Gilly Croft stops her as she reaches the entrance and is about to slide through the iron gates. “Where is thy ‘usband gel?” he enquires but she does not hear him, raising a pale trembling hand to her brow Queenie pitches forward, the child falling out of her hands and into those of Gilly Croft who looking with dismay upon the child, cries out for the infirmary nurse to be sent for right quick. The nurse, or rather such as may be named one, arrives in due course. A gin bottle hidden none too discretely in her pocket, she weaves her way through the stable yard until at length she reaches Queenie, now dragged to one side and propped against the iron -gate “Cholera is it?” she enquires loudly squatting down in the mud to examine the face and hands of the half-conscious mother, “Cholera no doubt” mutters Gilly gently clasping the babe in his hands “She’ll be dead by the morn, t’is Bobbish Todger’s woman”

The nurse rises abruptly she does not look at him, but he can see that despite the gin, a rosy red flush grows on her cheek that is indicative of anger. Bobbish Todger as laid his hand to any work he could for the sake of wife and child and now lies dead; hanged by the neck at Newgate.”She’s gawn! Bury er, an gie the babe to me” gently Gilly hands the child over to the nurse who clasping the swaddled babe to her, staggers back toward the infirmary. There is room for four more in the workhouse, besides the child who need never suffer the scrutiny of the workhouse committee.

Alfie Croft looks over the worn and weary souls that have passed through and now lie slumped in the yard. A handsome man of average height, rippling with muscle, soberly dressed, is never likely to know the suffering and hardship that has assailed and assaulted the destitute souls sitting on the ground before him or so one would think. “Felicia Tarpin! George Wedum! Luke Crudd! Amelia Fard! Get ye in through that door right quick! You’re to stand before the committee this eve!”

“And who is he as ‘eds the committee?” one brave soul loudly asks, “Ethelbert-Smythe!” Alfie replies glancing at the expressionless faces of his brothers, “The Right Honourable Ethelbert-Ruddy-Smythe?!” Alfie nods his head. There is much dark muttering all around at this, for was it not he who shut down the Spitalsfield Orphanage, on the grounds that the toddlers nurtured and nourished therein was fit for work? And was it not he ‘as shut down the Infantrymens’ Rest-Home for the Disabled and then forced men as had next to no health onto the streets a-begging? “Tell us true Gilly! Tell us true!” everyone cries in panic,”Is there any as makes it  through that door into the workhouse?” Gilly glances at Alfie who in turn looks across to Billy, “Some do” they declare in unison, “Now!” bellows out Alfie Croft. “The rest of you kit orff! And into the stables you goes!” this time another brave soul cries out, “I say! Is the straw heated?”

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