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years of his adoption with us is sometimes conspicuous, were added to the sum of our home-born intoxication, there could be no doubt which was the greater. As it is, I am afraid that I cannot claim to have seen more drunken men in London than in New York; and when I think of the Family Entrance, indicated at the side-door of every one of our thousands of saloons, I am not sure I can plume myself on the superior sobriety of our drinking men's wives. As for poverty-if I am still partially on that subject - as for open misery, the misery that indecently obtrudes itself upon prosperity and begs of it, I am bound to say that I have met more of it in New York than ever I met during my sojourns in London. Such misery may be more rigidly policed in the English capital, more kept out of sight, more quelled from asking mercy, but I am sure that in Fifth Avenue, and to and fro in the millionaire blocks between that avenue and the last possible avenue eastward, more deserving or undeserving poverty has made itself seen and heard to my personal knowledge than in Piccadilly, or the streets of Mayfair or Park Lane, or the squares and places which are the London analogues of our best residential quarters.
Of course, the statistics will probably be against meI have often felt an enmity in statistics and I offer my observations as possibly inexact. One can only be sure of one's own experience (even if one can be sure of that), and I can do no more than urge a fact or two further in behalf of my observations. After we returned to London, in September, I used to stroll much among the recumbent figures of the unemployed on the grass of Green Park, where, lulled by the ocean roar of the omnibuses on Piccadilly, they drowsed away the hours of the autumnal day. These fellow-men looked more
interesting than they probably were, either asleep or awake, and if I could really have got inside their minds I dare say I should have been no more amused than if I had penetrated the consciousness of as many people of fashion in the height of the season. But what I wish to say is that, whether sleeping or waking, they never, any of them, asked me for a penny, or in any wise intimated a wish to divide my wealth with me. If I offered it myself, it was another thing, and it was not refused to the extent of a shilling by the good fellow whose conversation I bought one afternoon when I found him, sitting up in his turfy bed, and mending his coat with needle and thread. I asked him of the times and their badness, and I hope I left him with the conviction that I believed him an artisan out of work, taking his misfortune bravely. He was certainly cheerful, and we had some agreeable moments, which I would not prolong, because I did not like waking the others, or such of them as might be sleeping.
I did not object to his cheerfulness, though for misery to be cheerful seemed to be rather trivial, and I was better pleased with the impassioned bearing of a pair who passed me another day as I sat on one of the benches beside the path where the trees were dropping their listless leaves. The pair were a father and mother, if I might judge from their having each a babe in their arms and two or three other babes at their heels. They were not actually in tatters, but anything more intensely threadbare than their thin clothes could not be imagined; they were worse than ragged. They looked neither to the right nor to the left, but stared straight on and pressed straight on rather rapidly, with such desperate tragedy in their looks as moved me to that noble terror which the old-fashioned critics used to inculcate as the
high effect of tragedy on the stage. I followed them a little way before I gained courage to speak to the man, who seemed to have been sick, and looked more miserable, if there was a choice, than the woman. Then I asked him, superfluously enough (it might have seemed in a ghastly pleasantry, to him) if he was down on his luck. He owned that he was, and in guarantee of his good faith took the shilling I offered him. If his need had apparently been less dire I might have made it a sovereign; but one must not fly in the face of the Providence which is probably not ill-advised in choosing certain of us to be reduced to absolute destitution. The man smiled a sick, thin-lipped smile which showed his teeth in a sort of pinched way, but did not speak more; his wife, gloomily unmoved, passed me without a look, and I rather slunk back to my seat, feeling that I had represented, if I had not embodied, society to her.
I contribute this instance of poverty as the extremest that came to my knowledge in London; but I do not insist that it was genuine, and if any more scientific student of civilization wishes to insinuate that my tragedy was a masquerade got up by that pair to victimize the sentimental American stranger, and do him out of one of his ill-got shillings, I will not gainsay him. I merely maintain, as I have always done, that the conditions are alike in the Old World and the New, and that the only difference is in the circumstances, which may be better now in New York, and now in London, while the conditions are always bad everywhere for the poor. That is a point on which I shall not yield to any more scientific student of civilization. But in the mean time my light mind was taken from that dolorous pair to another pair on the grass of the slope not far off in front of me.
Hard by the scene of this pathetic passage a pair of quite well-dressed young people had thrown themselves, side by side, on the September grass as if it had been the sand at any American seashore, or the embrowned herbage of Hyde Park in July. Perhaps the shelving ground was dryer than the moist levels where the professional unemployed lay in scores; but I do not think it would have mattered to that tender pair if it had been very damp; so warmly were they lapped in love's dream, they could not have taken cold. The exile could only note the likeness of their open-air love-making to that in public places at home, and contrast it with the decorum of Latin countries where nothing of the kind is known. If anything, English lovers of this type are franker than with us, doubtless because of the greater simplicity of the English nature; and they seem to be of a better class. One day when I was sitting in a penny chair in Green Park, the agent of the company came and collected the rent of me. I thought it a hardship, for I had purposely chosen an inconspicuous situation where I should not be found, and it was long past the end of the season, when no company should have had the heart to collect. rent for its chairs. But I met my fate without murmuring, and as the young man who sold me a ticket good for the whole day at a penny, was obviously not pressed with business, I tried to recoup myself by a little conversation.
"I suppose your job is pretty well over now? I don't see many of your chairs occupied."
'Well, no sir, not by day, sir. But there's quite a few taken at night, sir-over there in the hollow." I looked a leading question, and he went on: "Young people come to sit there in the evening, sir. It's a quiet place and out of the way."
"Oh, yes. Where they're not molested by the unemployed?" I cast a generalizing glance over the dead and wounded of the battle of life strewn about the grass of an adjacent space.
"Well, that's just where it is, sir. Those fellows do nothing but sleep all day, and then after dark they get up and begin to prowl. They spy, some of 'em, on the young people courting, and follow 'em 'ome and blackmail 'em. They're a bad lot, sir. They wouldn't work if they could get it.”
I perceived that my friend was a capitalist, and I suspected him of being one of the directors of the pennychair company. But perhaps he thought me a capitalist, too, and fancied that I would like to have him decry the unemployed. Still he may have been right about the blackmailing; one must live, and the innocent courage of open-air courtship in London offers occasions of wilful misconstruction. In a great city, the sense of being probably unnoted and unknown among its myriads must eventuate in much indifference to one's surroundings. How should a young couple on an omnibus-top imagine that a stranger in the seat opposite could not help overhearing the tender dialogue in which they renewed their love after some previous falling out?
"But I was hurt, Will, dear."
'Oh, I'm so sorry, dear."
"I know, Will, dear."
"But it's all right now, dear?" "Oh yes, Will, dear."
Could anything be sweeter? I am ashamed to set it down; it ought to be sacred; and nothing but my zeal in these social studies could make me profane it. Who would not have been the careless brute this young man