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a soapy ooze, which glistens in a deep umbrageous gloom, through which the fiery sun casts not a single ray. The reason is, that at this season of the year it is always washingday at Shinders's, and the trophies of the tub are hanging out aloft upon innumerable lines stretched across from house to house, from poles thrust forth from the windows, and from stays and tight-ropes rigged from the roofs and chimneys. on both sides of the way. The miscellaneous and dripping collection of rags and ragged costume tells its own tale. Together with a regiment of striped shirts, there hang coloured sashes and spangled vests, tight-fitting "fleshes," and gaudy mantles of the Spanish cut. There is Judy's gown and headgear, and there are the cutty kirtles of the dancing-dogs. The principal mass of the pendent napery is, however, an indescribable collection of tattered trumpery, which all the washing in the world would never cleanse. Beneath this cool and odorous shade you may watch, if you are so inclined, the progress of a species of operations ingenious and industrial, rarely offered to your inspection. Here the proprietor of a dilapidated organ has disembowelled the instrument for the hundredth time, and, with the pipes scattered in confusion around him, is painfully cobbling at the disabled bellows. There, the owner of a cornopean, doomed never to utter any sort of pæan more, is endeavouring to cast out the dumb spirit by the charms of tinkering, plugging, oiling, and soldering. Yonder is a man fitting the blade of a property-sword to his own swallow, by carefully rounding its point with a file and emery-cloth, and smoothing its back and edge with a fine polish. Another fellow in the corner is training a little mongrel dog to sit on a narrow plank, and bark and bite, without change of posture, at the proboscis of Mr. Punch. Within doors there are sounds of hammer and saw, and the tinkle of small tools, and the babble of voices-and half-clad figures walk in and out, or lounge about the court in attitudes half swaggering,
half graceful, indicative of their professional habits. You have more than a suspicion, as you glance at the defalcations of their outer covering, that they are very much in the predicament of Beau Tibbs, when his “twa shirts" were gone to the wash, and that they are loitering here at home for lack of the indispensable habiliments in which to present themselves to the public.
In the rear of Shinders's is Coster's Mews. The idea of establishing a mews and stabling a stud of horses, in such a locality as Lagsmanbury, probably never entered the brain of the original founder of the settlement, whoever he was: at any rate he made no provision for anything of the kind. What now constitutes the Mews is nothing but a row of wretched cottages flanking a piece of unpaved ground. What were once the sitting-rooms of the tenants are now the stalls of the beasts-the flooring having been ripped up and used for barriers and fittings. The bedrooms have been converted into lofts for hay and straw, a transformation, however, which does not hinder them from being still used as sleeping-rooms when Lagsmanbury is crowded, and beds are at a premium. Where the horses, and the asses which fully equal them in number, that domicile in Coster's Mews come from, and to what class of the community they belong, is more than we can determine; but the Mews is crowded all the year round; and such is the demand for the accommodation it affords, that twice within the last three years it has been rendered capable of stalling an increased number of animals, and that without adding an inch to its original area-simply by narrowing the stalls. The mews are under the management of Mr. Thady Brill, whose name figures on a sign-board at the entrance; but there are reasons for supposing that Thady is a man of straw in more senses than one, and that old Daddy Shinders is their veritable proprietor.
Opposite the entrance to the Mews is the inlet to the
Creek-a court which is also a cul-de-sac, so narrow that it is possible for the opposite neighbours to shake hands across the space that separates them. The lower floors of the houses are so dark, that the use of them by daylight is impossible; and in the Creek the order of things is inverted -the householders living in the upper floors, and letting the lower rooms for lodgings. It is in the Creek that typhus and cholera always make their first appearance, when these scourges come round. It is here that the most reckless and debased of the Lagsmen are to be found-the psalm-chanter, the "ruined tradesman," the starved weaver with five children in clean white pinafores, the dolorous dodger, and the smasher. Here infants are to be hired, trained to put on melancholy faces to excite compassion; and hence children hardly above the age of infancy are sent forth to prey upon the public by imposture or theft, and starved or tortured into accomplished pickpockets and cadgers. We said the Creek was an impasse; and so to the uninitiated public it is; but a clansman can find a way through it into Crack Alley, and take refuge for a time, if pursued, in Scamp's Castle, where he can be captured only by a police force. The castle is nothing more than a number of dingy tenements, standing back to back, perforated and pierced into one vast labyrinth, and its only defences are its own evil character. It is comparatively empty during summer, by which we mean that it lodges at that time not many more inmates than it can decently accommodate; but towards November, when the cracksmen and lags crowd into town from their provincial tours, and resume their winter-quarters, it begins to swarm like a hive. It is hither the detective comes in search of a practitioner who is "wanted," routing him out with bull's-eye and truncheon, in the dead of the night, from a score of comrades all huddled together on the same floor, not a man of whom dreams of resistance. It is here rogues in feather hold their nocturnal orgies, until drinking, feasting, and gambling have
plucked them bare again to their last coin, and driven them forth to new adventures. It is hither the belated votary of Bacchus, who has lost his wits and his way, is sometimes beguiled by an accidental friend, and submitted to that searching and refrigerating process which ends by his waking up sad, solitary, sober, shivering, and stripped to his waistcoat and pantaloons, on a dung-heap in Coster's Mews, or in the moist kennel of Lags Lane. Whoever looks for Scamps' Castle, in the expectation of any outward and visible sign of its inner and various capabilities, will be disappointed. He will see but a block of grimy brick buildings, with ever-open doors, gaping, jagged windows, and a few half-illegible sign-boards, promising "good accommodation for travellers."
We have not surveyed a third of the area of Lagsmanbury; but there is no necessity for continuing the survey. What should we discover by prosecuting the investigation? Nothing more than idem, eadem, idem-more courts, more impasses, more creeks, more travellers' lodges--and all with the same dirty face, the same mixed population, the same undelightful fragrance. We have had enough of it by this time, and we quit without reluctance this delicious nurseryground of freeborn patriots and members of the society which prides itself on its growing enlightenment and Christian philanthropy.
LURKING LITERATURE OF LONDON.
INDEPENDENTLY of the vast mass of literature which floats or seeks to float upon the stream of popularity in this capital of the world, and very distinct from anything the publishers and their agents are employed in putting before the public, there exists a class, or more classes than one, of printed documents, more or less privately circulated, and to which the denomination of lurking literature may be fairly applied. We speak not now of those flying and ephemeral sheets passed from hand to hand among the members of the different commercial professions, with which the general public have nothing to do, and which are for the most part incomprehensible to all but the parties immediately interested. Nor do we care to include in the category such periodicals as the Hue and Cry, interesting to rogues and vagabondsto policemen, detectives, and the victims and avengers of crime of every sort-though these are never to be met with in the usual marts for the productions of the press, and may be said in a sense to lurk, rather than to circulate. Again, there are various trades which have periodicals of their own, intended to advocate their own interests-to vindicate their cause, if that should ever stand in need of vindication, but chiefly to serve as a medium for the facilitation of business, and as a check to the victimisation of the subscribers by frauds to which they stand peculiarly exposed. Such a publication is the pawnbrokers' weekly journal; we forget by what name it goes-a paper which has done real service in its time, by causing the recovery of much valuable property,