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to the laws of insolvency or of bankruptcy, in case they should be unfortunate in their mercantile dealings?
The committee acknowledge that, upon the average of five years, their income, from annual subscriptions, did not exceed the sum of 1251. They must, therefore, have conducted their extensive transactions by means of their profits in trade. Thus they are dealers and chapmen, buying and selling, earning gains, and liable to losses. But the bankrupt laws cannot touch them, because they are a corporation. They were actually insolvent in the year 1829, to the amount of 7501., which they were obliged to borrow and pay up, because then they had no charter, and each member was personally responsible for all the debts of the association. But now they are guarded by their charter from any unpleasant consequences of that description. They may destroy every commercial house in the country with which they may think fit to compete; but they will remain themselves uninjured by the ruin which they shall have wrought around them.
It is asserted as a matter of triumph in one of the Reports (for 1831) " that the organization of the Society enabled them in a few days to prepare, publish, and circulate 20,000 copies of a particular volume, through the most useful channels, followed by a sale of more than 120,000 copies besides." These copies, be it remembered, were not given away gratuitously--they were all sold, yielding, upon that vast sale,
large return. What private firm can stand, we ask, against such a system of machinery as this, which ensures to the Society a boundless market at all times for books, which, though cheaper than all others in the world of letters, bring back, on account of the vast number disposed of, a much larger proportion of profit, than those of a more expensive nature issued by any private establishment ?
We take leave to put one question to Mr. Knight, to which we trust he will not shrink from giving an immediate and unevasive answer. Why do not the Society state in any of their Reports the actual amount of rent he pays them for the LOAN OF THEIR NAME, which he so freely uses in the “ Penny Magazine," the “Penny Cyclopædia,” the “ Companion to the Newspaper,” the “Gallery of Portraits,” and his other publications ? The Committee state they have abstained from bringing the rent, or rather rents, into account, because those receipts are engaged in other publications ! There is a reason for you! They will wait until the money is spent, and then they will tell the world all about it. But is it not the true cause of this mysterious concealment, that a disclosure upon that point would, of necessity, reveal the HUMBUG which is now palmed upon a credulous public ?
The time for such delusions has, however, passed. They have had their day, and they must disappear from the stage. It will become the duty of all other established book and printsellers in the three kingdoms, to PETITION THE THRONE, and if that will not do, The ParliaMENT, for the purpose of getting the charter of this unlawful corporation CANCELLED, and the Society itself dissolved as the greatest NUISANCE that has appeared since the extinction of the renowned Constitutional Association, which, under the pretext of diffusing a love of order, attempted to destroy the liberty of every man in the country.
AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT OF A LATE UNREPORTED
O'CONNELL was correct; the reporters who burked his bulls, and hid the effulgence of his eloquence, by the infamous accusation of inaudibility in the gallery—these men, these extinguishers of the lights of Ireland, these concealers of the gems of wisdom, are pursuing their career, effectually stopping up the avenues of knowledge, and daily allowing orators to “ blush unseen;" or, in plainer terms, to make unreported speeches. Let no one think lightly of their crime—'tis an envious, a deadly one; think, good reader, of the throes of Mr. Muggle of Candlewick, who, after three weeks' study, is perfect in an extemporaneous speech, and goes forth, in gorgeous garments and high hopes, to“ the meeting at the Castle and Falcon;" who (having judiciously selected his friends, and them their cues for the “ hear, hears !") succeeds to a miracle, and sits down in that state of mental elevation that makes
“ Cicero, Cæsar, and he seem one:" think of the bitterness of that man's feelings, when, on the following morning, waking at six for the purpose, he seizes the still reeking “ Times,” and finds that he is unnoted; that even his name has been omitted, or mistaken by some villain of a reporter.” If there be an extenuation for man hating his fellow-man, assuredly this must be one. But this is an instance of individual injury; what if we say that the most important meeting ever known in London-one, too, on a subject deeply interesting to the citizens—has been denied a channel of publicity? that “ the gentlemen of the fourth estate” have burked the fact ? One reporter, happily, remains,
“ The solitary green spot on memory's waste," willing to save his quondam coadjutors from indelible infamy, and he gives to the world,
The MEETING OF THE BUILDINGS.
(House and Window Tax.) A meeting took place on Tuesday night, in Copenhagen Fields, to take into consideration the house and window tax, as it pressed upon those most affected by it. Several public buildings had declared, at a private meeting, that, as the inhabitants seemed apathetic, it became imperative on the buildings suffering 'so much to look to their windows; it was unanimously agreed to call the meeting at night, as the crowded state of the metropolis would render it inconvenient for such large bodies to move in the day. By eleven o'clock, at least five thousand streets and buildings were upon the ground. At a quarter after, the Queen's Head came with the King's Arms; the White Horse came in a cab; Shoe and Leather Lanes on foot; the Blind School unfortunately lost its way in the fog, whilst the Three Tuns were taking a glass together with the Cheshire Cheese at the Glo'ster Coffee House; the Green Dragon and Blue Boar came with the Spotted Dog ; the Swan with Two Necks arm in arm with the Windmill; the Sun Fire Office, being very old, was car
ried by the Atlas ; the Norwich Union (Life and Fire) came separately, and the Hand in Hand one after another. By twelve o'clock all the principal buildings were present (except the East India House, which said though itself in the habits of going out after tea it would not do so if others went.)
St. Paul's Cathedral was unanimously called to the chair.
The venerable Chairman said there was scarcely a building in London that was not disordered in its lights under a paltry pretence of decreasing its panes; the very cess-pools paid assessed taxes; these evils existed in Bishopsgate Street Within, without comparison ; the taxes too were unequally levied ; at Saint Giles's they did not pay one shilling in the pound.
(A shabby old fellow, who we understood to be Saint Giles' Pound, complained of this as personal.)
St. Paul's proceeded : he had reason particularly to complain of his doom ; he had no peace for the railing around him; those only who dwelt at a dancing school could imagine the annoyance of having continually a ball over one's head ; and it couldn't excite surprise if he (St. Paul's) showed a little cross upon it. A tax on light was a heavy calamity, it was equivalent to putting out the eyes of the buildings; it was peculiarly dreadful in his case from the complaints of his neighbours, for the great bell, if unmuffled, would, by its tone, break all the windows in the Church-Yard, which, in times of taxation, would make it the most expensive of all the City Bells.
(“No, no, not of all the City Bells,” from the Mansion House.)
The Great Bell of St. Paul's was asked whether he vouched for this, but said he didn't know he was only toll’d.
The Chairman spoke at great length, but in so low a tone as to be frequently inaudible where we stood (close by Highgate Archway); and concluded by proposing an appeal to Parliament by petition, and to the public through the press. Smithfield said it would employ some able pens
for the latter
purpose ; but represented the anomaly of a petition from the streets and buildings, being sent to the two houses. Why-(said the Market energetically) why is not “ The Commons here ?"
The Broadway (Westminster) remarked, the Commons being untaxed was not affected by the question.
Smithfield was astonished to find the Broadway taking this narrow view of the subject. The Commons was interested if it wished to preserve its credit or consistency, which it really appeared regardless of in this case. The other House might be excused, as the meeting was not called on the Lord's day. The eloquent Market concluded by negativing the proposition of petitioning.
The Old Bailey, on the contrary, was willing to give the thing a trial.
The Monument was wholly uninterested in the question; but if an appeal was made to the newspapers, he would supply a long column.
Here the meeting was disturbed by a quarrel between the Old and New Post Offices, which was fermented by the Three Cups, the Cross Keys, and Wapping. The Green Man and Still was particularly noisy, and there was much muttering between the Hummums. In the confusion, the Mansion House and Bank left the meeting.
The Jews' Benevolent Society wished the Bank would stop. It behoved it, and, indeed, all Threadneedle Street, to have an eye to the proceedings of that evening. He (the Society) was sorry to observe any dissension between the Post Offices; such conduct was derogatory to persons of letters. (“ Hear, hear !” from the Office in Gerrard Street.) He could have wished to have seen a larger assembly. One speaker had asked why the Commons did not attend? (A voice answered that Commons wouldn't come to crowded meetings, as they dreaded being inclosed.) The speaker continued. He meant the House of Commons. He would ask where were the Bridges—Blackfriars, Waterloo, and Westminster ? He excuses New London Bridge, which was too young to know any better; and Southwark, which was not a legitimate building.
The Bricklayers’ Arms said that was mere irony; it had been built, -ergo, it was a building.
The White Horse couldn't draw such a conclusion. Southwark and the other bridges should have attended.
The Bricklayers' Arms suggested that had the Bridges left their places, he and his eloquent friends, New Bedlam and the Elephant and Castle, couldn't have crossed the water to the meeting. It was time to bestir when the windows were vanishing before the innovating hands of the bricklayer and tiler.
“ What Tiler?” from Smithfield, who had been talking to the East India Docks.
“ If,” resumed the Bricklayers' Arms," the tax continues, we shall be reduced to the Cimmerian darkness of a primitive state ; the gloom of bricked-up windows will make the metropolis resemble · Lethe's dismal strand.'»
The Strand and Pickett Place rose at the same instant. St. Paul's said the latter caught his eye first : however, the Strand proceeded. He complained of the ungentlemanly allusion of the Bricklayers' Arms. The term dismal strand” was exceedingly inapplicable, when so much had been lately done in the way of improvement that he (the Strand) actually didn't know himself It was true, Exeter Change had been removed; but an arcade for a menagerie made the change no loss. Cateaton Street complained of the destruction of the Mews, (King's Mews) and it might make the quondam village of Charing cross; but St. Martin's Church would bear testimony to the utility of that alteration. All the neighbourhood concurred in the improvements. (“ No, no!" from the lower part of St. Martin's Lane; on which Northumberland House said he would conclude for the Strand. St. Martin's Lane—“ You say so now ; but the lion has a different tale.")
When the confusion had subsided, a wretched-looking foreigner (in old Italian garments, which had evidently once been gorgeous) stepped forward. As well as we could understand, for he spoke English very imperfectly, he described himself as a refugee of the name of Herculaneum; said he could speak as to a deprivation of light, having been nearly 2000 years underground. (“Question, question."
Was it by taxation ?) “No, by lava," which was an intolerable burthen, and so was the tax. (Hisses, during which the old gentleman requested the Hercules (Leadenhall Street) to intercede for him, but the learned Coach Office denied all knowledge of Herculaneum; he had no such name in his books.)
A question arose as to who should report the meeting. Johnson's Court (Fleet Street) offered his services; but the Temple said there was a bar to Fleet Street.
Paternoster Row suggested the Author of Lights and Shadows; but it was ultimately settled that the report should be made by Cannon Street.
On the question of drawing up the petition, the Inner Temple offered his gratuitous services. (Bravo from Chancery Lane. “I wish you may get it” from Furnival's Inn.)
Lincoln's Inn Old Square said, the flippancy of Furnival's Inn (a mere boy) was unworthy of reply. The venerable parent of the present Furnival's Inn, whom many must recollect with awe and adoration. (Hear! hear! from Staple and Barnard's Inn); that venerable building never descended to ribaldry. The offer of the Inner Temple was peculiarly liberal.
(“Werry peekooliar” was here whistled by Furnival's Inn; a disturbance ensued, and the Opera House knocked Furnival's Inn down. “ Bravo” from the Ancient Concert Rooms.) Many had offered their services to prepare the petition. The Elephant said, he could draw anything; the offer from Drury Lane and Covent Garden he treated as ridiculous, as it was well known they had long ceased to draw altogether; it could not be in better hands, for the Temple had itself existed in
ages. The late Equitable Loan Office spoke in favour of pledges ; and, after a short speech from Long Acre, the resolutions were passed.
Aldgate Pump moved a vote of thanks to the Chairman for his impartial conduct. (Carried.)
St. Paul's returned thanks in a neat speech, and the meeting broke up. [We are truly sorry to add that much confusion occurred in returning: The Adelphi behaved in a most unbrotherly manner to the theatre of that name.
Petticoat Lane got tipsy with Holywell Street (the latter, by the by, said his home was in a street near the Strand, yet he didn't know which street!) Smithfield, being dreadfully intoxicated, talked in a very revolutionary manner. Skinner Street kindly undertook to see the Market safe, as far as the corner of King Street (alias Cow Lane), then Long Lane took charge of it (Smithfield), but ultimately left it and ran into Barbican and Aldersgate. St. Paul's School missed its way, and got to Birchin Lane. The Wheatsheaf wandered to Cornhill; and Old St. James's Palace was so frolicsome that he said he “ didn't care whether he got home or not,” and actually talked of an excursion to Windsor and Brighton. By 6 o'clock, however, all were at home and in their proper places, with the exception of the English Opera House, which has not yet appeared, and considerable doubts are entertained whether it will ever be seen again.]
W. R. L.