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insured their defeat-they printed too well-on paper too good, and could not in consequence leave so liberal a margin to the agent. So the chanter, who must look to his profits, leaves them in the lurch, and turns his face to the Dials when he is out of stock.
From the above sketch, it will be gathered that, with all our success in the diffusion of cheap literature, the Seven Dials press has never yet felt to any extent the effects of rivalry in its own peculiar field. Nor is it easy to see how, by anybody incommoded by a conscience, effectual rivalry can be established. One only consolation seems derivable from an investigation of the subject—and it is, that some advance is perceivable in the morality of the Dials productions though the improvement is only negative. They are neither so rancorously seditious, nor so grossly indecent as we can recollect them to have been in times past.
HISTORY OF STRAWBERRY STREET.
STRAWBERRY STREET presents nothing very remarkable to the view, and in its present condition would be considered the reverse of captivating by the lovers of the picturesque. But the street has a history, with which it has been our fortune to become intimately acquainted-a history so like that of many a human lot, with its ups and downs in the world, and so interwoven with the destinies of men, that we have made up our minds to record it. Strawberry Street stands, and has stood for nearly thirty years, in a district once known as Strawberry Fields, and still spoken of under that appellation by a small section of our older citizens, who can recollect when the grass grew on its site, and the cows of a small dairy-farm famous for its custards, cheese-cakes, and curds and whey, chewed the cud in peace, unconscious of Smithfield.
When Strawberry Street first rose into being, which it did very gradually-taking between two and three years to complete its double row of two-storied dwellings-it was, to all intents and purposes, a suburb of London, and like other suburbs, shrank from being swallowed up in Babylon's bosom, and clung with considerable tenacity to rural associations and characteristics. It retained for some years a strip of grass between the footpath and roadway, and boasted a tree or two, almost amounting to a row, on the eastern side. In lieu of pavement, the footpath was laid down with gravel, and the roadway was neatly macadamised; and, as all the front-parlours were fenced off from curious eyes by iron.
railings four feet at least from the windows, the street wore an undeniably neat and respectable appearance.
There being nowhere any indication of a shop, the street naturally bore the reputation of being what is called a genteel street. And genteel it undoubtedly was—for a time. It became very early the abode of professional ladies and gentlemen, whose neat brass-plates informed you that they taught drawing and painting, and japanning, and French, Italian, and German, and the pianoforte and singing, and the practice of all kinds of musical instruments. Then there were clerks, managers, and responsible persons employed in the city, who came home to their families in Strawberry Street, as regular as the clock, about seven in the evening; and, besides these, a number of persons of independent property, of the staid and sober sort—mostly annuitants we fancy, who had ensconced themselves in this comfortable quarter to spite the assurance-offices by living to the age of Old Parr if they could.
The most remarkable man among the early settlers was Mr. Pottinger, whom we knew well, and whom, to look at, you would have accounted the model of a gentleman of threescore. He wore his hair powdered, and on Sundays went to church in tights and Hessians; and you might look in vain, Sundays or week-days, for a spot on his broadcloth or a flaw in his linen. He was a man famous for his conversation, and was the oracle of the parlour at the Fox and Salutation round the corner, where he regularly took his night-cap in the evening. He was great in politics; and in '29, when we had the privilege of a first-floor in Strawberry Street, predicted the triumph of the opposition and the certainty of Reform, which both came to pass in due time; but he was greater still in aristocratic genealogy, and if he had learned the peerage by heart, could not have been better informed than he was; and, more than that, he knew the length of every nobleman's purse, and would dilate on
the pecuniary difficulties of lords and landholders in a way that astonished his hearers. In his most communicative moments, Pottinger never said a word about himself; and there was a mystery about him which the whole street had tried its skill in fathoming, but to no purpose.
Pottinger, who seemed never to have any business on his hands, was a favourite with most of his neighbours, and with the children especially, to whom he was gentle and patronising, and liberal in the small toys and dainties children love. Miss Montgomery, who lived at No. 10, was the only person in Strawberry Street who did not concur in the general reverence for Mr. Pottinger. She was a maiden lady on the further side of fifty, who kept, in addition to a maid-of-all-work, a page, and a poodle, and no other society, save at periodical intervals, few and far between, when a carriage would drive up to her door, and a posse of young ladies, with their mamma, wearing the Montgomery face, only twice as large, would alight and thunder at the knocker, and be let in by the page, all spick and span for the occasion, and half an hour afterwards would be let out again, and drive off amid demonstrations equally noisy. Mr. Pottinger departed this life, as his tombstone informs us, at the age of sixty-three; and all Strawberry Street was thrown into a state of perfect amazement by the grandeur of his funeral, which was performed by a west-end undertaker on the most imposing and expensive scale. Besides the hearse and mourning-coaches, there were three private carriages, empty to be sure, but yet bearing heraldic insignia on their panels, sent to follow the good man to his grave. Pottinger dead was even more mysterious than he had been when living; but when all was over the mystery was cleared up. Miss Montgomery, who was too much of a gentlewoman to give a handle to gossip during the life of Mr. Pottinger, now felt herself at liberty to justify the pertinacity with which she had in a manner ignored his existence; and she
suffered it to ooze out through Jemima, her maid-servant, that Isaac Pottinger had passed much of his life as gentleman's gentleman to Sir Bullfig Browning, at whose townhouse she had often seen him in days gone by, when she visited at the baronet's. Of course, it was out of the question that she could acknowledge his civilities in Strawberry Street.
The year after Pottinger's death, Miss Montgomery left the street; the carriage came one day, bringing the periodical visitors clad in deep mourning, and when it went away, bore Miss Montgomery off. Her page, poodle, and hand-maid followed a few days later with her goods, and No. 10 was to let. With her departed the exclusively genteel era of Strawberry Street. Her house was taken by the two Misses Filkins, who turned it into a young ladies' seminary, and clapped a brass-plate nearly a yard wide on the little front-gate. The "young ladies" who flocked hither for instruction comprised all that could be got together by the most diligent canvassing, and included-we hope the classification is not very unnatural—a dozen at least of small petticoated masculines. This gave a new aspect to the street, which now lost its accustomed quietness; and regularly, at the hours of nine and twelve, of two and four, reverberated with the prattle and squalling of infant voices, or their joyous outburst when released from school. The Misses Filkins may have been very useful in their vocation, but they were not what is termed "select" in their choice of pupils, and they pursued an active kind of treatment, the result of which was frequently too audible out of doors. They were a pair of loud-voiced spinsters, given to white dimity dresses of astonishing amplitude, to taking in green-groceries at the school-room window, and to borrowing a neighbour's washing-tub on Saturday afternoons. We do not assert that they were not genteel, but their gentility differed exceedingly from Miss Montgomery's.