Tuesday, October 16, 2007


GINX'S BABY by Edward Jenkins??

His Birth and other Misfortunes
{by Edward Jenkins?? 1838-1910??}
CRITIC.--I never read a more improbable story in my life.
AUTHOR.--Notwithstanding, it may be true.
I. Ab initio
II. Home, sweet Home!
III. Work and Ideas
IV. Digressive, and may be skipped without mutilating the History
V. Reasons and Resolves
VI. The Antagonism of Law and Necessity
VII. Malthus and Man
VIII. The Baby's First Translation
I. The Milk of Human Kindness, Mother's Milk, and the Milk of
the Word
II. The Protestant Detectoral Association
III. The Sacrament of Baptism
IV. Law on Behalf of Gospel
V. Magistrate's Law
VI. Popery and Protestantism in the Queen's Bench
VII. A Protestor, but not a Protestant
VIII. "See how these Christians love one another"
IX. Good Samaritans, and Good-Samaritan Twopences
X. The Force--and a Specimen of its Weakness
XI. The Unity of the Spirit and the Bond of Peace
XII. No Funds--no Faith, no Works
XIII. In transitu
I. Parochial Knots--to be untied without Prejudice
II. A Board of Guardians
III. "The World is my Parish"
IV. Without Prejudice to any one but the Guardians
V. An Ungodly Jungle
VI. Parochial Benevolence--and another Translation
I. Moved on
II. Club Ideas
III. A thorough-paced Reformer--if not a Revolutionary
IV. Very Broad Views
V. Party Tactics--and Political Obstructions to Social Reform
VI. Amateur Debating in a High Legislative Body
The Last Chapter
I.--Ab initio.
The name of the father of Ginx's Baby was Ginx. By a not
unexceptional coincidence, its mother was Mrs. Ginx. The gender
of Ginx's Baby was masculine.
On the day when our hero was born, Mr. and Mrs. Ginx were living
at Number Five, Rosemary Street, in the City of Westminster. The
being then and there brought into the world was not the only
human entity to which the title of "Ginx's Baby" was or had been
appropriate. Ginx had been married to Betsy Hicks at St. John's,
Westminster, on the twenty-fifth day of October, 18--, as appears
from the "marriage lines" retained by Betsy Ginx, and carefully
collated by me with the original register. Our hero was their
thirteenth child. Patient inquiry has enabled me to verify the
following history of their propagations. On July the
twenty-fifth, the year after their marriage, Mrs. Ginx was safely
delivered of a girl. No announcement of this appeared in the
On the tenth of April following, the whole neighborhood,
including Great Smith Street, Marsham Street, Great and Little
Peter Streets, Regent Street, Horseferry Road, and Strutton
Ground, was convulsed by the report that a woman named Ginx had
given birth to "a triplet," consisting of two girls and a boy.
The news penetrated to Dean's Yard and the ancient school of
Westminster. The Dean, who accepted nothing on trust, sent to
verify the report, his messenger bearing a bundle of baby-clothes
from the Dean's wife, who thought that the mother could scarcely
have provided for so large an addition to her family. The
schoolboys, on their way to the play-ground at Vincent Square,
slyly diverged to have a look at the curiosity, paying sixpence a
head to Mrs. Ginx's friend and crony, Mrs. Spittal, who pocketed
the money, and said nothing about it to the sick woman. THIS
birth was announced in all the newspapers throughout the kingdom,
with the further news that Her Majesty the Queen had been
graciously pleased to forward to Mrs. Ginx the sum of three
What could have possessed the woman I can't say, but about a
twelvemonth after, Mrs. Ginx, with the assistance of two doctors
hastily fetched from the hospital by her frightened husband,
nearly perished in a fresh effort of maternity. This time two
sons and two daughters fell to the lot of the happy pair. Her
Majesty sent four pounds. But whatever peace there was at home,
broils disturbed the street. The neighbors, who had sent for the
police on the occasion, were angered by a notoriety which was
becoming uncomfortable to them, and began to testify their
feelings in various rough ways. Ginx removed his family to
Rosemary Street, where, up to a year before the time when Ginx's
Baby was born, his wife had continued to add to her offspring
until the tale reached one dozen. It was then that Ginx
affectionately but firmly begged that his wife would consider her
family ways, since, in all conscience, he had fairly earned the
blessedness of the man who hath his quiver full of them; and
frankly gave her notice that, as his utmost efforts could
scarcely maintain their existing family, if she ventured to
present him with any more, either single, or twins, or triplets,
or otherwise, he would most assuredly drown him, or her, or them
in the water-butt, and take the consequences.
II.--Home, sweet Home!
The day on which Ginx uttered his awful threat was that next to
the one wherein number twelve had drawn his first breath. His
wife lay on the bed which, at the outset of wedded life, they had
purchased secondhand in Strutton Ground for the sum of nine
shillings and sixpence. SECOND-HAND! It had passed through, at
least, as many hands as there were afterwards babies born upon
it. Twelfth or thirteenth hand, a vagabond, botched bedstead,
type of all the furniture in Ginx's rooms, and in numberless
houses through the vast city. Its dimensions were 4 feet 6
inches by 6 feet. When Ginx, who was a stout navvy, and Mrs.
Ginx, who was, you may conceive, a matronly woman, were in it,
there was little vacant space about them. Yet, as they were
forced to find resting-places for all the children, it not seldom
happened that at least one infant was perilously wedged between
the parental bodies; and latterly they had been so pressed for
room in the household that two younglings were nestled at the
foot of the bed. Without foot-board or pillows, the lodgment of
these infants was precarious, since any fatuous movement of
Ginx's legs was likely to expel them head-first. However they
were safe, for they were sure to fall on one or other of their
brothers or sisters.
I shall be as particular as a valuer, and describe what I have
seen. The family sleeping-room measured 13 feet 6 inches by 14
Opening out of this, and again on the landing of the third-floor,
was their kitchen and sitting-room; it was not quite so large as
the other. This room contained a press, an old chest of drawers,
a wooden box once used for navvy's tools, three chairs, a stool,
and some cooking utensils. When, therefore, one little Ginx had
curled himself up under a blanket on the box, and three more had
slipped beneath a tattered piece of carpet under the table,
there still remained five little bodies to be bedded. For them
an old straw mattress, limp enough to be rolled up and thrust
under the bed, was at night extended on the floor. With this, and
a patchwork quilt, the five were left to pack themselves together
as best they could. So that, if Ginx, in some vision of the
night, happened to be angered, and struck out his legs in navvy
fashion, it sometimes came to pass that a couple of children
tumbled upon the mass of infantile humanity below.
Not to be described are the dinginess of the walls, the smokiness
of the ceilings, the grimy windows, the heavy, ever-murky
atmosphere of these rooms. They were 8 feet 6 inches in height,
and any curious statist can calculate the number of cubic feet of
air which they afforded to each person.
The other side of the street was 14 feet distant. Behind, the
backs of similar tenements came up black and cowering over the
little yard of Number Five. As rare, in the well thus formed,
was the circulation of air as that of coin in the pockets of the
inhabitants. I have seen the yard; let me warn you, if you
are fastidious, not to enter it. Such of the filth of the house
as could not, at night, be thrown out of the front windows, was
there collected, and seldom, if ever, removed. What became of
it? What becomes of countless such accretions in like places?
Are a large proportion of these filthy atoms absorbed by human
creatures living and dying, instead of being carried away by
scavengers and inspectors? The forty-five big and little lodgers
in the house were provided with a single office in the corner of
the yard. It had once been capped by a cistern, long since rotted
* * * * *
The street was at one time the prey of the gas company; at
another, of the drainage contractors. They seemed to delight in
turning up the fetid soil, cutting deep trenches through various
strata of filth, and piling up for days or weeks matter that
reeked with vegetable and animal decay. One needs not affirm
that Rosemary Street was not so called from its fragrance. If
the Ginxes and their neighbors preserved any semblance of health
in this place, the most popular guardian on the board must own it
a miracle. They, poor people, knew nothing of "sanitary reform,"
"sanitary precautions," "zymotics," "endemics," "epidemics,"
"deodorizers," or "disinfectants." They regarded disease with
the apathy of creatures who felt it to be inseparable from
humanity, and with the fatalism of despair.
Gin was their cardinal prescription, not for cure, but for
oblivion: "Sold everywhere." A score of palaces flourished
within call of each other in that dismal district--garish, richlooking
dens, drawing to the support of their vulgar glory the
means, the lives, the eternal destinies of the wrecked masses
about them. Veritable wreckers they who construct these haunts,
viler than the wretches who place false beacons and plunder
bodies on the beach. Bring down the real owners of these places,
and show them their deadly work! Some of them leading
Philanthropists, eloquent at Missionary meetings and Bible
Societies, paying tribute to the Lord out of the pockets of dying
drunkards, fighting glorious battles for slaves, and manfully
upholding popular rights. My rich publican--forgive the
pun--before you pay tithes of mint and cummin, much more before
you claim to be a disciple of a certain Nazarene, take a lesson
from one who restored fourfold the money he had wrung from honest
toil, or reflect on the case of the man to whom it was said, "Go
sell all thou hast, and give to the poor." The lips from which
that counsel dropped offered some unpleasant alternatives,
leaving out one, however, which nowadays may yet reach you--the
contempt of your kind.
III.--Work and Ideas.
I return again to Ginx's menace to his wife, who was suckling her
infant at the time on the bed. For her he had an animal
affection that preserved her from unkindness, even in his cups.
His hand had never unmanned itself by striking her, and rarely
indeed did it injure any one else. He wrestled not against
flesh and blood, or powers, or principalities, or wicked spirits
in high places. He struggled with clods and stones, and primeval
chaos. His hands were horny with the fight, and his nature had
perhaps caught some of the dull ruggedness of the things
wherewith he battled. Hard and with a will had he worked through
the years of wedded life, and, to speak him fair, he had acted
honestly, within the limits of his knowledge and means, for the
good of his family. How narrow were those limits! Every week he
threw into the lap of Mrs. Ginx the eighteen or twenty shillings
which his strength and temperance enabled him continuously to
earn, less sixpence reserved for the public-house, whither he
retreated on Sundays after the family dinner. A dozen children
overrunning the space in his rooms was then a strain beyond the
endurance of Ginx. Nor had he the heart to try the common plan,
and turn his children out of doors on the chance of their being
picked up in a raid of Sunday School teachers. So he turned out
himself to talk with the humbler spirits of the "Dragon," or
listen sleepily while alehouse demagogues prescribed remedies for
State abuses.
Our friend was nearly as guiltless of knowledge as if Eve had
never rifled the tree whereon it grew. Vacant of policies were
his thoughts; innocent he of ideas of state-craft. He knew there
was a Queen; he had seen her. Lords and Commons were to him vague
deities possessing strange powers. Indeed, he had been present
when some of his better-informed companions had recognized with
cheers certain gentlemen,--of whom Ginx's estimate was expressed
by a reference to his test of superiority to himself in that
which he felt to be greatest within him--"I could lick 'em with
my little finger" --as the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the
Prime Minister. Little recked he of their uses or abuses. The
functions of Government were to him Asian mysteries. He only
felt that it ought to have a strong arm, like the brawny member
wherewith he preserved order in his domestic kingdom, and
therefore generally associated Government with the Police. In
his view these were to clear away evil-doers and leave every one
else alone. The higher objects of Government were, if at all,
outlined in the shadowiest form in his imagination. Government
imposed taxes--that he was obliged to know. Government
maintained the parks; for that he thanked it. Government made
laws, but what they were, or with what aim or effects made, he
knew not, save only that by them something was done to raise or
depress the prices of bread, tea, sugar, and other necessaries.
Why they should do so he never conceived--I am not sure that he
cared. Legislation sometimes pinched him, but darkness so hid
from him the persons and objects of the legislators that he could
not criticise the theories which those powerful beings were
subjecting to experiment at his cost. I must, at any risk, say
something about this in a separate chapter.
IV.--Digressive, and may be skipped without mutilating
the History.
I stop here to address any of the following characters, should he
perchance read these memoirs:
You, Mr. Statesman--if there be such;
Mr. Pseudo-Statesman, Placeman, Party Leader, Wirepuller;
Mr. Amateur Statesman, Dilettante Lord, Civil Servant;
Mr. Clubman, Litterateur, Newspaper Scribe;
Mr. People's Candidate, Demagogue, Fenian Spouter;
or whoever you may be, professing to know aught or do anything in
matters of policy, consider, what I am sure you have never fairly
weighed, the condition of a man whose clearest notion of
Government is derived from the Police! Imagine one who had never
seen a polyp trying to construct an ideal of the animal, from a
single tentacle swinging out from the tangle of weed in which the
rest was wrapped! How then any more can you fancy that a man to
whose sight and knowledge the only part of government practically
exposed is the strong process of police, shall form a proper
conception of the functions, reasons, operations, and relations
of Government; or even build up an ideal of anything but a
haughty, unreasonable, antagonistic, tax-imposing FORCE! And how
can you rule such a being except as you rule a dog, by that which
alone he understands--the dog-whip of the constable! Given in a
country a majority of creatures like these, and surely despotism
is its properest complement. But when they exist, as they exist
in England to-day, in hundreds of thousands, in town and country,
think what a complication they introduce into your theoretic free
system of government. Acts of Parliament passed by a
"freely-elected" House of Commons, and an hereditary House of
Lords under the threats of freely-electing citizens, however pure
in intention and correct in principle, will not seem to him to be
the resultants of every wish in the community so much as
dictations by superior strength. To these the obedience he will
render will not be the loving assent of his heart, but a
begrudged concession to circumstance. Your awe-invested
legislature is not viewed as his friend and brother-helper, but
his tyrant. Therefore the most natural bent of his
workman-statesmanship--a rough, bungling affair--will be to tame
you--you who ought to be his Counsellor and Friend. When he
finds that your legislative action exerts upon him a repressive
and restraining force he will curse you as its author, because he
sees not the springs you are working. Should he even be a little
more advanced in knowledge than our friend Ginx, and learn that
he helps to elect the Parliament to make laws on behalf of
himself and his fellow-citizens, he will scarce trust the
assembly which is supposed to represent him. Will he, like a
good citizen and a politic, accept with dignity and self-control
the decision of a majority against his prejudices: or will he not
regard the whole Wittenagemote with suspicion, contempt, or even
hatred? See him rush madly to Trafalgar Square meetings, Hyde
Park demonstrations, perhaps to Lord George Gordon Riots, as if
there were no less perilous means of publishing his opinions!
There wily men may lead his unconscious intellect, and stir his
passions, and direct his forces against his own--and his
children's good.
Did it ever occur to you, or any of you, how many voters cannot
read, and how many more, though they can read, are unable to
apprehend reasons of statesmanship?--that even newspapers cannot
inform them, since they have not the elementary knowledge needed
for the comprehension of those things which are discussed in
them; nay, that for want of understanding the same they may
terribly distort political aims and consequences?
Might it not be worth while for you, gentlemen--may it not be
your duty to devise ways and means for conveying such elementary
instruction by good street-preachers on politics and economy, or
even political bible- women or colporteurs, and so to make clear
to the understanding of every voter what are the reasons and aims
of every act of Legislation, Home Administration, and Foreign
Policy? If you do not find out some way to do this he may turn
round upon you--I hope he may-- and insist on annually-elected
parliaments, and thus oblige ambitious state-mongers, in the
rivalry of place, to come to him and declare more often their
wishes and objects. Other attractions may be found in that
solution: such as the untying of some knots of electoral
difficulty, and removing incitements to corruption. Ten thousand
pounds for one year's power were a high price even to a
contractor. Think then whether at any cost some general
political education must not be attempted, since there is a
spirit breathing on the waters, and how it shall convulse them is
no indifferent matter to you or to me. Everywhere around us are
unhewn rocks stirred with a strange motion. Leave these chaotic
fragments of humanity to be hewn into rough shape by coarse
artists seeking only a petty profit, unhandy, immeasurably
impudent; or dress them by your teaching--teaching which is the
highest, noblest, purest, most efficient function of Government,
which ought to be the most lofty ambition of statesmanship--to be
civic corner-stones polished after the similitude of a palace.
V.--Reasons and Resolves.
Ginx has been waiting through three chapters to explain his
truculence upon the birth of his twelfth child. Much explanation
is not necessary. When he looked round his nest and saw the many
open mouths about him, he might well be appalled to have another
added to them. His children were not chameleons, yet they were
already forced to be content with a proportion of air for their
food. And even the air was bad. They were pallid and pinched.
How they were clad will ever be a mystery, save to the poor woman
who strung the limp rags together and Him who watched the noble
patience and sacrifice of a daily heroism. Of her own
unsatisfied cravings, and the dense motherly horrors that
sometimes brooded over her while she nursed these infants, let me
refrain from speaking, since if as vividly depicted as they were
real, you, Madam, could not endure to read of them. Her poor,
unintelligent mind clung tenaciously to the controverted
aphorism, "Where God sends mouths he sends food to fill them."
Believing that there was a God, and that He must be kind, she
trusted in this as a truth, and perhaps an all-seeing eye reading
some quaint characters on her simple heart, viewed them not too
nearly, but had regard to their general import, for, as she
expressed it, "Thank God! they had always been able to get
In the rush and tumult of the world it is likely that the summum
bonum of nine-tenths of mankind is embraced in that purely
negative happiness--to get along. Not to perish: to open eyes,
however wearily, on a new morning: to satisfy with something, no
matter what, a craving appetite: to close eyes at night under
some shadow or shelter: or, it may be, in certain ranks to walk
another day free from bankruptcy or arrest: Thank Heaven, they
are just able to get along!
Convinced that another infant straw would break his back, Ginx
calmly proposed to disconcert physical, moral, and legal
relations by drowning the straw Mrs. Ginx clinging to Number
Twelve listened aghast. If a mother can forget her sucking child
she was not that mother. The stream of her affections, though
divided into twelve rills, would not have been exhausted in
twenty-four, and her soul, forecasting its sorrow, yearned after
that nonentity Number Thirteen. She pictured to herself the
hapless strangeling borne away from her bosom by those strong
arms, and--in fact she sobbed so that Ginx grew ashamed, and
sought to comfort her by the suggestion that she could not have
any more. But she knew better.
VI.--The Antagonism of Law and Necessity.
In eighteen months, notwithstanding resolves, menaces, and
prophecies, GINX'S BABY was born. The mother hid the impending
event long, from the father. When he came to know it, he fixed
his determination by much thought and a little extra drinking.
He argued thus: "He wouldn't go on the parish. He couldn't keep
another youngster to save his life. He had never taken charity
and never would. There was nothink to do with it but drown it!"
Female friends of Mrs. Ginx bruited his intentions about the
neighborhood, so that her "time" was watched for with interest.
At last it came. One afternoon Ginx, lounging home, saw signs of
excitement around his door in Rosemary Street. A knot of women
and children awaited his coming. Passing through them he soon
learned what had happened. Poor Mrs. Ginx! Without staying to
think or argue, he took up the little stranger and bore it from
the room----
"O, O, O, Ginx! Ginx!!"
She would have risen, but a strong power called weakness pulled
her back.
* * * *
The man meanwhile had reached the street.
"Here he comes! There's the baby! He's going to do it, sure
enough!" shrieked the women. The children stood agape. He
stopped to consider. It is very well to talk about drowning your
baby, but to do it you need two things, water and opportunity.
Vauxhall Bridge was the nearest way to the former, and towards it
Ginx turned.
"Stop him!"
"Take the child from him!'
The crowd grew larger, and impeded the man's progress. Some of
his fellow-workmen stood by regarding the fun.
"Leave us aloan, naabors," shouted Ginx; "this is my own baby,
and I'll do wot I likes with it. I kent keep it; an' if I've got
anythin' I kent keep, it's best to get rid of it, ain't it? This
child's goin' over Wauxhall Bridge."
But the women clung to his arms and coattails.
"Hallo! What's all this about?" said a sharp, strong man,
well-dressed, and in good condition, coming up to the crowd;
"anothe r foundling! Confound the place, the very stones produce
babies. Where was it found?"
CHORUS (recognizing a deputy-relieving officer). It warn't found
at all; it's Ginx's baby.
OFFICER. Ginx's baby? Who's Ginx?
GINX. I am.
GINX. Well!
CHORUS. He's goin' to drown it.
OFFICER. Going to drown it? Nonsense.
GINX. I am.
OFFICER. But, bless my heart, that's murder!
GINX. No 'tain't. I've twelve already at home. Starvashon's
sure to kill this 'un. Best save it the trouble.
CHORUS. Take it away, Mr. Smug, he'll kill it if you don't.
OFFICER. Stuff and nonsense! Quite contrary to law! Why, man,
you're bound to support your child. You can't throw it off in
that way;--nor on the parish neither. Give me your name. I must
get a magistrate's order. The act of parliament is as clear as
daylight. I had a man up under it last week. "Whosoever shall
unlawfully abandon or expose any child, being under the age of
two years whereby the life of such child shall be endangered or
the health of such child shall have been or shall be likely to be
permanently injured (drowning comes under that I think) shall be
GUILTY OF a MISDEMEANOR and being convicted thereof shall be
liable at the discretion of the court to be KEPT IN PENAL
SERVITUDE for the term of three years or to be imprisoned for any
term not exceeding two years with or without hard labor."
Mr. Smug, the officer, rolled out this section in a sonorous
monotone, without stops, like a clerk of the court. It was his
pride to know by heart all the acts relating to his department,
and to bring them down upon any obstinate head that he wished to
crush. Ginx's head, however, was impervious to an act of
parliament. In his then temper, the Commination Service or St.
Ernulphus's curse would have been feathers to him. The only
feeling aroused in his mind by the words of the legislature was
one of resentment. To him they seemed unjust, because they were
hard and fast, and made no allowance for circumstances. So he
GINX. D---- the act of parliament! What's the use of saying I
shan't abandon the child, when I can't keep it alive?
OFFICER. But you're bound by law to keep it alive.
GINX. Bound to keep it alive? How am I to do it? There's the
rest on 'em there (nodding towards his house) little better nor
alive now. If that's an act of Parleyment, why don't the act of
Parleyment provide for 'em? You know what wages is, and I can't
get more than is going.
CHORUS. Yes. Why don't Parleyment provide for 'em? You take
the child, Mr. Smug.
OFFICER (regardless of grammar). ME take the child! The parish
has enough to do to take care of foundlings and children whose
parents can't or don't work. You don't suppose we will look
after the children of those who can?
GINX. Jest so. You'll bring up bastards and beggars' pups, but
you won't help an honest man to keep his head above water. This
child's head is goin' under water anyhow!" --and he prepared to
bolt, amid fresh screams from the Chorus.
VII.--Malthus and Man.
Two gentlemen, who had been observing the excitement, here came
FIRST GENTLEMAN. This is our problem again, Mr. Philosopher.
Mr. PHILOSOPHER (to Ginx). You don't know what to do with your
infant, my friend, and you think the State ought to provide for
it? I understand you to say this is your thirteenth child. How
came you to have so many?
This question, though put with profound and even melancholy
gravity, disconcerted Ginx, Officer, and Chorus, who united in a
hearty outburst of laughter.
GINX. Haw, Haw, Haw! How came I to have so many? Why my old
woman's a good un and----
In fact, after searching his mind for some clever way of putting
a comical rejoinder, Ginx laughed boisterously. There are two
aspects of a question.
PHILOSOPHER. I am serious, my friend. Did it never occur to you
that you had no right to bring children into the world unless you
could feed and clothe and educate them?
CHORUS. Laws a' mercy!
GINX. I'd like to know how I could help it, naabor. I'm a
married man.
PHILOSOPHER. Well, I will go further and say you ought not to
have married without a fair prospect of being able to provide for
any contingent increase of family.
CHORUS. Laws a' mercy!
PHILOSOPHER (waxing warm). What right had you to marry a poor
woman, and then both of you, with as little forethought as
two--a--dogs, or other brutes--to produce between you such a
multitudinous progeny--
GINX. Civil words, naabor; don't call my family hard names.
PHILOSOPHER. Then let me say, such a monstrous number of
children as thirteen? You knew, as you said just now, that wages
were wages and did not vary much. And yet you have gone on
subdividing your resources by the increase of what must become a
degenerate offspring. (To the Chorus) All you workpeople are
doing it. Is it not time to think about these things and stop
the indiscriminate production of human beings, whose lives you
cannot properly maintain? Ought you not to act more like
reflective creatures and less like brutes? As if breeding were
the whole object of life! How much better for you, my friend, if
you had never married at all, than to have had the worry of a
wife and children all these years.
The philosopher had gone too far. There were some angry murmurs
among the women and Ginx's face grew dark. He was thinking of
"all those years" and the poor creature that from morning to
night and Sunday to Sunday, in calm and storm, had clung to his
rough affections: and the bright eyes, and the winding arms so
often trellised over his tremendous form, and the coy tricks and
laughter that had cheered so many tired hours. He may have been
much of a brute, but he felt that, after all, that sort of thing
was denied to dogs and pigs. Before he could translate his
thoughts into words or acts a shrewd-looking, curly-haired
stonemason, who stood by with his tin on his arm, cut into the
STONEMASON. Your doctrines won't go down here, Mr. Philosopher.
I've 'eard of them before. I'd just like to ask you what a man's
to do and what a woman's to do if they don't marry: and if they
do, how can you honestly hinder them from having any children?
The stonemason had rudely struck out the cardinal issues of the
PHILOSOPHER. Well, to take the last point first, there are
physical and ethical questions involved in it, which it is hard
to discuss before such an audience as this.
STONEMASON. But you must discuss 'em, if you wish us to change
our ways, and stop breeding.
PHILOSOPHER. Very well: perhaps you are right. But, again, I
should first have to establish a basis for my arguments, by
showing that the conception of marriage entertained by you all is
a low one. It is not simply a breeding matter. The beauty and
value of the relation lies in its educational effects--the
cultivation of mutual sentiments and refinements of great
importance to a community.
STONEMASON. Ay! Very beautiful and refining to Mr. and Mrs.
Philosopher, but I'd like to know where the country would have
been if our fathers had held to that view of matrimony? Why,
ain't it in natur' for all beings to pair, and have young? an'
you say we ain't to do it! I think a statesman ought to make
something out of what's nateral to human beings, and not try to
change their naturs. Besides, ain't there good of another kind
to be got out of the relation of parents and children? Did you
ever have a child yourself?
GINX (contemplating the Philosopher's physique). HE have a
youngster! He couldn't.
CHORUS. Ha! Ha! Ha!
STONEMASON. I don't believe in yer humbuggin' notions. They
lead to lust and crime;--I'm told they do in France. If you
yourself haven't the human natur in you to know it, I'll tell
you, and we can all tell you that as a rule if the healthy
desires of natur ain't satisfied in a honest way, they will be in
another. You can't stop eating by passin' an act of Parleyment
to stop it. And as for yer eddication and cultivation, that
makes no difference. We know something here about yer eddicated
men;--more than they think. Who is it we meet about the streets
late at night, goin' to the gay houses? Some of 'em stand near
as high as you, but that don't alter their natur. They have
their passions like other men; and eddication don't keep 'em
down. Well, if that's the case, how can you ask people of our
sort to put on the curb, or make us do it? Are we to live more
like beasts than we are now, or do what's worse than murder? I
don't see no other way. Among us I tell you, sir, three-fourths
of our eddication, is eddication of the heart. We have to learn
to be human, kind, self-denyin', and I think this makes better
men, as a rule, than head-larnin'; tho' I don't despise that,
neither. But you don't suppose head-citizens would fight for
their country like men with wives and children behind 'em; why
they don't even at home work for daily food like a man with wife
and babies to provide for!
The stonemason was above his class--one of those shrewd men that
"the people called Methodists" get hold of, and use among the
lower orders, under the name of "local preachers;" men who learn
to think and speak better than their fellows. The Philosopher
testified some admiration by listening attentively, and was about
to reply, but the Chorus was tired, and the women would not hear
CHORUS. Best get out o' this. We don't want any o' yer
filhosophy. Go and get childer' of yer own, &c., &c.
The Philosopher and his friend departed, carrying with them
unsolved the problem they had brought.
VIII.--The Baby's First Translation.
The stonemason had been the hero of the moment; now attention
centred on our own hero. Ginx hurried off again, but as the
crowd opened before him, he was met, and his mad career stayed,
by a slight figure, feminine, draped in black to the feet,
wearing a curiously framed white-winged hood above her pale face,
and a large cross suspended from her girdle. He could not run
her down.
NUN. Stop, MAN! Are you mad? Give me the child.
He placed the little bundle in her arms. She uncovered the
queer, ruby face, and kissed it. Ginx had not looked at the face
before, but after seeing it, and the act of this woman, he could
not have touched a hair of his child's head. His purpose died
from that moment, though his perplexity was still alive.
NUN. Let me have it. I will take it to the Sisters' Home, and
it shall live there. Your wife may come and nurse it. We will
take charge of it.
GINX. And you won't send it back again? You'll take it for good
and all?
NUN. O, yes.
GINX. Good. Give us yer hand.
A little white hand came out from under her burthen, and was at
once half-crushed in Ginx's elephantine grasp.
GINX. Done. Thank'ee, missus. Come, mates, I'll stand a drink.
A few minutes after, the woman of the cross, who had been up to
comfort the poor mother, fluttered with her white wings down
Rosemary Street, carrying in her arms Ginx's Baby.
I.--The Milk of Human Kindness, Mother's Milk, and the
Milk of the Word.
The early days of his residence at the Home of the Sisters of
Misery, in Winkle Street, was the Eden of Ginx's Baby's
existence. Themselves innocent of a mother's experiences, the
sisters were free to give play to their affections in a novel
direction, and to assume a sort of spiritual maternity that was
lucky for the changeling. He was nestled in kind serge-covered
arms: kisses rained upon him from chaste lips. A slight scandal
thrilled the convent upon the discovery of his sex, which had of
course been a pure matter of conjecture to Sister Pudicitia when
she rescued him; but enthusiasm can overcome anything. The
awkward questions foreshadowed in the discovery were left to be
considered when their growing importance should demand upon them
the judgment of the archbishop. Visions of an unusual sanctity
to be fostered in the pure regions of the convent, and to be sent
on a mission into the world to attest the power of their
spiritual discipline, began to haunt the brains of the
sequestered nuns. Might not this infant be an embryo saint,
destined for a great work in the heretical wilderness out of
which he had come? How little healthy food the brains must have
had wherein these insane dreams were excited by our innocent
baby! Hardly did the sacred spinsters forecast what was in store
for them when he should be teething.
But Ginx's Baby was in a religious atmosphere, and that is always
surcharged with electricity. His lot must have been above that
of any other human being if he could long have remained in such a
climate unvisited by thunder. The mother had been permitted to
attend at the Home with the same regularity as the milkman, to
discharge her maternal duties. Then with the rise of the
visionary projects just mentioned the gravest doubts began to
agitate the fertile and casuistic mind of the Lady Superior. The
holier her ideal St. Ginx of the future, the more to be deplored
was any heretical taint in the present. Holy mother! Was it not
perhaps eminently perilous to his spiritual purity that an
unbeliever like Mrs. Ginx should bring unconsecrated milk into
the convent to be administered to this suckling of the Church!
In her uneasiness she appealed to Father Certificatus, the
conventual confessor. He gave his opinion in the following
"The very grave question you have put to me has given me
much anxiety. It could not but do so since it occupied, I knew,
so fully your own holy reflections. I pondered it during the
night while I repeated one hundred Aves on my knees, and I think
the Blessed Virgin has vouchsafed her assistance.
"I understood you to say you thought that the physical health of
the infant, so singularly and miraculously thrown upon your care,
required the offices of his heretic mother, and yet that you felt
how inconsistent it was with the noble future we contemplate for
him, that he should receive unorthodox lacteal sustentation. In
this you are but following the usage of the Church in all ages,
for She has ever enjoined the advantage of infusing Her doctrines
into Her children with the mother's milk.
"Three courses only appear to me to be open to us. First, we may
try to work upon the mother's feelings, and on behalf of her
child induce her to avail herself of the inestimable privileges
of the Church in which he is fostered. Secondly, should she
repel us--and these lower class heretics are even brutally
refractory--we might at least allure her to allow us to make with
holy water the sign of the Cross upon the natural reservoirs of
infant nourishment each time before she approaches the infant.
This, besides overcoming the immediate difficulty and securing
for the child a supply of sanctified food, might open the way for
the entrance into her own bosom of the milk of the word.
Thirdly, should she reject these proposals, I see nothing for it
but to forbid her to have access to her infant, and, commending
him to the care of the Holy Mother, to feed him with pap or other
suitable nourishment, previously consecrated by me in its crude
state, and prepared by the most holy hands of your community.
Thus we may hope to shield the young soul in its present
freshness from contact with carnal elements.
"Your loving Father in, &c.,
On receiving this letter the Superioress conferred not with flesh
and blood, but sent for Mrs. Ginx. That worthy woman was not
enchanted with her child's position. I have hinted that her
faith was simple, but in proportion to its simplicity it was
strongly-rooted in her nature. 'Tis not infrequent to find it
so. Lengthy creeds and confessions of faith are apt to extend
the strength and fervor of belief over too wide a surface. In
the close frame of some single article will be concentrated the
whole energy of the soul. The first formula, "Repent and believe
in the Lord Jesus Christ," was maintained with a heat that became
less intense, though more distributed, in the insertion of an
Athanasian creed. Mrs. Ginx's creed was succinct.
I believe in God, giver of bread, meat, money, and health.
This she maintained, with indifferent ritual and devotional
observances. But there was to Mrs. Ginx's faith a corollary or
secondary creed, only needed to meet special emergencies.
1. I believe in the Church of England.
2. I believe in Heaven and Hell.
3. (A negative article) I hate Popery, priests, and the Devil.
When her husband made his fatal gift to the nun, this third
article of his wife's belief, or unbelief, stirred up and waxed
Said the Lady Superior, "My good woman, your child thrives under
the care of Holy Mother Church."
"Yes'm, he thrives well," replies Mrs. Ginx, repeating no more of
Sister Suspiciosa's sentence, "an' I've 'ad more milk than ever
for the darlin' this time, thank God."
"And the Holy Virgin."
"I dunno about her," cries Mrs. Ginx emphatically, perhaps not
seeing congruity between a virgin and the subject of
"And the Holy Virgin," repeated the nun, "who interests herself
in all mothers. She has thus blessed you that your child may be
made strong for the work of the Church. Do you not see a miracle
is worked within you to prove Her goodness? This, no doubt, is
an evidence to you of Her wish to bless you and take you for Her
own. I beseech you listen to Her voice, and come and enter Her
"If you mean the Virgin Mary, mum, I ain't a idolater, beggin'
yer parding," says Mrs. Ginx; "an' tho' I wouldn't for the world
offend them as has been so kind to my child, an' saved it from
that deer little creetur bein' thrown over Wauxhall Bridge--an'
Ginx ought to be ashamed of hisself, so he ought-- I ain't
Papish, mum, and I ain't dispoged, with twelve on 'em there at
home all Protestant to the back bone, to turn Papish now, an' so
I 'ope an' pray, mum," says Mrs. Ginx, roaring and crying, "you
ain't agoin' to make Papish of my flesh an' blood. O dear! O
The Lady Superior shut her ears; she had raised a familiar spirit
and could not lay it. She temporized.
"You know your husband has given the child to us. It will be
called the infant Ambrosius."
"Dear, dear!" sighed Mrs. Ginx, "what a name! "
"We wish him to be kept from any worldly taint, and by-and-by his
saintliness may gain you forgiveness in spite of your heretical
perversity. I cannot permit you to give him unconsecrated milk,
and as we wish to treat you kindly, the holy Father Certificatus
has allowed me to make an arrangement with you, to which you can
have no objection--I mean, that you should let me make the sign
of the cross upon your breasts morning and evening before you
suckle your infant. You will permit me to do that, won't you?"
Conceive of Mrs. Ginx's reply, clothed in choice Westminster
English: it asserted her readiness to cut off her right hand, her
feet, to be hanged, drowned, burned, torn to pieces, in fact to
withstand all the torments ascribed by vulgar tradition to Roman
Catholic ingenuity, and to see her baby "a dead corpse" into the
bargain, before she would submit her Protestant bosom to such an
"No, mum!" she said; "I couldn't sleep with that on my breast;"
and cried hysterically.
This lower class heretic WAS "brutally refractory." So thought
the Superioress, and so gave Mrs. Ginx notice to come no more.
She went home rather jubilant--she was a martyr.
II.--The Protestant Detectoral Association.
Ginx's baby was now fed on consecrated pap. But his mother was
not a woman to be silent under her wrongs. From her husband she
hid them, because the subject was forbidden. She poured out her
complaint to Mrs. Spittal and other Protestant matrons. Thus it
came to pass that one day, in Ginx's absence, the good woman was
surprised by a visit from a "gentleman." He was small, sharp,
rapid, dressed in black. He opened his business at once.
"Mrs. Ginx? Ah! I am the agent of the Protestant Detectoral
Mrs. Ginx wiped her best chair and set it for him.
"By great good fortune the secretary received only half an hour
ago intelligence of the shocking instance of Papal aggression of
which you have been the victim."
To hear her case put so grandly was honey to Mrs. Ginx.
"Well now," continued the little man, "we are ready to render you
every assistance to save your child from the claws of the Great
Dragon. I wish to know the exact circumstances--let me
see--(opening a large pocket book) I have this memorandum: the
child was carried off from his mother's bedside in broad daylight
by a nun accompanied by two priests and a large body of Irish: is
that a correct version?"
"Law, no, sir, it warn't quite like that," said Mrs. Ginx.
"We've 'ad so many on 'em that Ginx was for drownin' the
--The little man opened his eyes----
"An' he went and gave it away, sir," said she crying, "to a nun,
sir--ah! ah! ah!-- they won't let me see the darlin' now, sir--
ah! ah! ah! because I won't let Missis Spishyosir mark me with
the cross, sir, an' me with as fine a breast o' milk as ever was
for 'im, sir--ah! ah! ah! "
"Hem!" said the little man, "that's different from what I
He was quite honest, but who does not know how disappointing it
is to find a wrong you wish to redress is not so bad as you had
However, it looked bad enough, and might be made worse. It was
the very case for the Protestant Detectoral Association.
"Would Mr. Ginx not join in an effort to recover his child?"
"No, sir; I should think not: he went an' gave it away."
"I know; but he is a Protestant?"
"I don't think he be much o' anything, sir. I know he hate
priests like pison, but he don't care about these things as I
"Oh! I see." Writes in his memorandum book--husband indifferent.
"But don't you think he would help you to get the child back
"No, sir. I wouldn't speak of it to him for the world. He'd
knock any one down if they was to mention the child to him."
The little man mentally determined not to see Ginx.
"Well; would you like to have your child back?"
"You see, I couldn't bring it 'ere, sir. Ginx won't 'ave it; but
I'd like to see it took away from them nunnerys."
"Ha! very well then. We can perhaps manage it for you. You
would be content to hand it over to some Protestant Home, where
it would be taken care of and you could see it when you liked?"
"O yes, sir," cries Mrs. Ginx, brightening.
"Then we'll have an affidavit and apply for a Habeas Corpus."
It was impossible not to be satisfied with such words as these,
whatever they meant and Mrs. Ginx was cheered, while the little
man went on his way.
III.--The Sacrament of Baptism.
Mother, or "Mrs." Suspiciosa, fed Ginx's Baby with holy pap. It
seemed proper now that he should be christened and formally
received into the Church. No small stir was made by this
ceremony, for which all the resources of the convent were called
into action. The day selected was that sacred to St. Ambrosius.
The chapel was decorated with flowers. Mass was celebrated,
candles flamed upon the altar surrounding a figure of the Infant
Jesus, incense was burning around the baby, sisters and novices
knelt in serried rows of virginity
"like doves
Sunning their milky bosoms on the thatch. "
Mother Suspiciosa carried the infant, clothed in a pure white
robe, with a red cross embroidered on its front. In the absence
of the natural parent a wax figure of St. Ambrosius did duty for
him, and another wax figure stood godfather: but I dare not enter
into details of matters that may be looked at as awfully profane,
or awfully solemn, by different spectators. These things are a
I have no hesitation about describing the impious behavior of
little Ginx. Whatever swaddled infant could do in the way of
opposition, with hands, and legs, and voice, was done by that
embryo saint. The incense made him cough and sputter; the
lights and singing raised the very devil within him. His cries
drowned the prayers. He frightened his conductress by the
redness of his face. He ruined the red cross with ejected
matter. You would have taken him for an infant demoniac. Mother
Suspiciosa, though annoyed, was encouraged. She looked upon this
as an evident testimony to little Ginx's value. The devil and
St. Michael were contending for his body. At length he was
baptized, and carried out. Credat Judaeus. He instantly sank
into a deep sleep. It was a miracle: Satan had yielded to the
sign of the cross!
IV.--Law on Behalf of Gospel.
In the moment of Sister Suspiciosa's triumph, the enemy was
laying his train against her. The little man made his report to
the secretary of the Protestant Detectoral Association. This
gentleman was well-born and well-bred; moved to work in this
"cause" by an honest hatred of superstition, priestcraft, and
lies; now giving all his energies to the ambitious design of
pulling down the strongholds of Satan. In any other matter he
could act coolly, and with deliberation; in this he was an
enthusiast. He had a keen Roman nose. He could scent a priest
anywhere in the United Kingdom. He could smell Jesuitry in the
Queen's drawing-room, a cabinet council or convocation, though he
had never been at either. His eye was beyond a falcon's; he saw
things that were invisible. It penetrated through all disguises.
He knew a secret emissary of the Pope by the cock of his hat, or
the color of his stockings. At least, he thought so, and
thousands of persons acted on his estimate of himself.
"This case," said he to the little man, when he had concluded his
report, "though not in its first incidents so grave as we were
led to expect, is, in another point of view, very serious. Here
is a man, as you have expressed it, 'indifferent' to his child's
life-- animal and spiritual. The mother, with a true Protestant
heart, and a fine breast of milk, is longing to nurture her
child, and to deliver it from the toils of the Papacy. But the
husband, what's his name? . . . . Ginx-- Ginx? a very bad name
for a case, by the way--GINX'S CASE!--this Ginx has given up his
child to the Sisters of Misery. How are we to get it away again,
without his cooperation? . . . . Well, we must try."
The solicitor of the Association was forthwith summoned. When
the matter had been laid before him, he expressed doubts, offered
and withdrew courses of action, and ended by suggesting that he
should take the opinion of counsel.
"Mr. Stigma, I suppose?" said he to the secretary.
"Oh, yes, Sir Adolphus Stigma is one of our principal supporters,
and his son's heart is thoroughly with us."
Messrs. Roundhead, Roundhead and Lollard, drew up a case to be
submitted to Mr. Stigma. I will only transcribe the latter
Mr. Ginx being indifferent, and Mrs. Ginx being ready to assist
in regaining the custody of her child, to be conveyed to a
Protestant Home,
"1. Whether a summons should be taken out before a magistrate
against the Lady Superior of the convent, for enticing away or
detaining the infant, under the 56th sect. of 24 and 25 Vict., c.
100 Or,
"2. Whether the proper remedy is by a writ of Habeas Corpus?
and, if so, whether it is necessary that the father should be
joined in the proceedings or his leave obtained to prosecute
them? Or, failing these,
3. Whether counsel is of opinion that this is a case within
Talfourd's Act, and an application might not be made to the Lord
Chancellor, or the Master of the Rolls, on the mother's behalf
for the custody of her child? And,
"4. To advise generally on behalf of the infant."
Mr. Adolphus Stigma took ten days to consider. Meanwhile, the
infant Ambrosius continued to thrive on conventual pap. Then Mr.
Stigma wrote his opinion. It was a model for a barrister. You
took the advice at your own peril--not his. Therefore I
transcribe it.
'I have given to this case my most careful attention; and it is
one of great difficulty. Having regard to the questions put to
me, I think--
"1. Section 56 of the Act of 24 and 25 Vict., c. 100, appears at
first sight to be directed against the stealing and abduction of
children for marriage, or other improper purposes. It provides
that 'Whosoever shall UNLAWFULLY, either by force or fraud, lead
or take away, or decoy, or entice away, or detain any child, &c.,
with intent to deprive ANY parent, &c., of the possession of such
child'--shall be guilty of felony. It is perfectly clear, that
in the case before me, the infant was not, 'by force or fraud,
led or taken away, or decoyed, or enticed away.' The statute,
however, uses the word 'detain;' and this, it appears to me, has
much the same force and intention as the previous words. It is
to be noted, however, that it is separated from them by the
disjunctive 'or;' and, therefore, it might be argued with some
plausibility that any act of forceful or fraudulent detention,
after notice, by persons who have originally acquired a child's
custody in a lawful way, came within the section. The point is
new, and of great importance; and if the Protestant Detectoral
Association feel disposed to try it, they would do so under
favorable circumstances in the present case. Should they decide
to do so, a written demand should be served upon the authorities
of the convent, by the mother, or some one acting on her behalf,
to give up the infant.
"2. The second question is also involved in difficulty. Were the
father to be joined in the proceedings, the writ of Habeas Corpus
would be the correct remedy. But his probable refusal
necessitates the inquiry whether the mother can alone apply for
the writ. The general rule of law is, that the father is
entitled to the custody and disposition of his children. In
Cartlidge and Cartlidge, 31, L. J., P. M. & D. 85, it was held
that this rule would not be generally departed from by the
Divorce Court; but in Barnes v. Barnes, L. R. I, P. & D. 463, the
court made an order, giving the custody of two infant children to
the mother, respondent in a suit for a dissolution of marriage,
on the ground that the mother's health was suffering from being
deprived of their society, and that they were living with a
stranger, and not with the father. These cases were, however, in
the Divorce Court, and do not apply. But, as there seems to be
much ground in the peculiar circumstances here, for arguing that
the mother should have the custody of the child, or, at least,
that it should not be left to that of persons of a different
religion from both parents, an application might be made to the
Queen's Bench to try the question.
"3. Should the common law remedies fail, resort may perhaps be
had to the powers in Chancery under Talfourd's Act, but on this
point I should like to confer with an equity counsel before
giving a decided opinion. It has been decided under this Act
that the court has power to give the custody of children under
seven to the mother. (Shillito v. Collett, 8, W. R. 683-696.) As
this infant is but six weeks old it comes within that case.
"4. I have no general advice to give on behalf of the infant.
"9, Plumtree Court."
If none of the courses suggested by Mr. Stigma was very decided,
Messrs. Roundhead, Roundhead and Lollard were not sorry to have
three strings to their bow. The Detectoral Association
were good clients; most of their funds went into their lawyers'
pockets. It was part of their policy to be litigious. Thereby
the world was kept alive to the existence of Papacy within its
bosom. Who shall say the Association were wrong? Some healthy
daylight was occasionally let in upon the mysteries of Jesuitism,
and there are people who think that worth while at the risk of a
chance injustice. Though the Devil should not get his due, few
would give him any sympathy.
The solicitor at once instructed Mr. Dignam Bailey, Q.C., to
apply with Mr. Stigma to a magistrate for a summons. Mr. Bailey,
Q.C., was not chosen for his partialities. In religious matters
he was a perfect Gallio; but he was like St. Paul in one
particular, he could be all things to all men.
V.--Magistrate's Law.
The personnel of the magistrate to whom Mr. Dignam Bailey, Q. C.,
(with him Mr. Adolphus Stigma), applied in the case of re an
infant, exparte Ginx, is not material to this history. He was
like his fellow stipendiaries --mild as to humor, vigilant in his
duties, opinionated in his views, resenting the troublesome
intrusion into his court of a barrister, apt to treat him with
about one-eighth of the courtesy extended to the humblest junior
by the Queen's Bench, and curiously unequal both with himself and
his brother magistrates in adjusting punishment. It will be most
convenient to insert the report of the Daily Electric Meteor:--
"Mr. Dignam Bailey, Q.C., (with whom was Mr. Adolphus Stigma),
applied for a summons against Mary Dens, commonly called Sister
Suspiciosa, of the convent of the Sisters of Misery, in Winkle
Street, for abducting and detaining a male child of John Ginx and
Mary his wife.
"Mr. D'ACERBITY. On whose behalf do you apply?
"The learned counsel stated that he was instructed by the
Protestant Detectoral Association to apply on behalf of the
mother. The case was also watched by the solicitors of the
Society for Preventing the Suppression of Women and Children.
"Mr. D'ACERBITY. Does the father join in the application?
"Mr. BAILEY. No, sir.
"Mr. D'ACERBITY. Why? He ought to be joined if living.
"Mr. BAILEY. Perhaps you will allow me, sir, to state the case.
The circumstances are peculiar. The fact is----
"Mr. D'ACERBITY. I cannot understand why the father should not
be represented if the child has been abducted. Where was it
taken from?
"Mr. Bailey proceeded to state that the child had been taken by a
nun from No. 5, Rosemary Street, without the mother's consent,
and was now imprisoned in the convent. The father appeared to be
indifferent, or to have given a sort of general acquiescence.
This was Mrs. Ginx's thirteenth child, around whom gathered the
concentrated affections
"Mr. D'ACERBITY (interrupting the learned gentleman). We have
no time for sentiment here, Mr. Bailey. If the father consented,
can you call it abduction? It looks like reduction. (Laughter.)
"Mr. Bailey called attention to the consolidated statutes of
criminal law, and said he was going for illegal detention rather
than abduction, and argued at great length from section 56. At
the conclusion of the argument, after refusing to hear Mr.
"Mr. D'Acerbity said that the case clearly did not come within
the section, and he was afraid the learned counsel knew it. The
father had been a consenting party, on the counsel's own
statement, to the child's removal, and no suggestion had been
made that he had withdrawn his consent. He should refuse a
"Mr. Bailey endeavored to address the magistrate but was stopped.
"Mr. D'ACERBITY. I have no more to say. You can apply to the
Queen's Bench. I have no sympathy with you whatever."
Mr. D'Acerbity's law was good, but--what has justice to do with
"sympathies?" Surely the day after this report appeared the
magistrate must have had a letter from the Home Secretary?
VI-Popery and Protestantism in the Queen's Bench.
The application to the magistrate was far from satisfactory.
There had not even been an exposure, and the Windmill Bulletin
gayly bantered the Detectoral Association. Meanwhile had
happened the grand christening, of which a circumstantial account
was in the hands of the council of the Detectoral Association
shortly after the ceremony had been performed. Here was a
monstrous indignity to a Protestant child! The account was at
once printed, together with a verbatim report of the application
to the magistrate as well as one of "a conversation held with the
mother by an agent of the Association." Board-men paraded the
great thoroughfares carrying this appeal:--
Abduction Of an Infant!
Assault on the Liberty of the Subject!
Mysterious and Awful Proceedings!
Baptism of a Protestant Child in a Convent!
Upon the Nation by Foreign Mercenaries!
Every Father and Mother is Invited to Co-operate in
Maintaining the
The Sanctity of Home, and the Inviolability of
If there was no coherency in this production, it should be noted
how little that is of the essence of popular appeal. The
metropolis was in an uproar. Meetings were held, subscriptions
poured in, dangerous crowds collected in Winkle Street. When Mr.
Dignam Bailey, Q. C., went down to Westminster, to move the Court
of Queen's Bench, multitudes besieged it. Protestant champions
and Papal ecclesiastics vied in their efforts to get seats. The
writ had gone from judge's chambers returnable to the full court.
Sister Suspiciosa, bearing the infant Ambrosius, and supported by
two novices and Father Certificatus, had been smuggled into court
through mysterious passages in its rear. Mrs. Ginx also, brought
from Rosemary Street by the little man who provided her with a
bonnet trimmed with orange-colored ribbons, sat staring with red
eyes at her child, now enveloped in a robe that was embroidered
with little crosses.
Why need I tell you, how dead silence fell upon the Court after
the stir caused by the entrance of the judges; how everybody knew
what was coming when a master beneath the bench rose, and called
out, "Re Ginx, an infant, Exparte Mary Ginx!" How the Chief
Justice, fresh and rosy-looking, then blew his nose in a delicate
mauve-colored silk handkerchief: how he tried and discarded
half-a-dozen pens, amid breathless silence; how in his blandest
manner he said: "Who appears for the Respondent?" and Mr. Dignam
Bailey, Q. C., and Mr. Octavius Ernestus, Q. C., rose together to
say that Mr. Ernestus did!
Mr. Ernestus was a Catholic. He was assisted by half-a-dozen
counsel. He riddled the affidavits on the other side, and read
voluminous ones on his own; bitterly animadverted upon the
absence of an affidavit by the father; held up to the scorn of a
civilized world the course pursued towards his meek and gentle
clients by the "fanatical zealots of the Protestant Detectoral
Association;" in moving tones referred to the shrinking of "quiet
recluses, from the gaze of a rude, unsympathizing world;" cited
cases from the time of Magna Charta, down; called upon the Court
to vindicate Protestant justice, ending his peroration with the
aphorism of Lord Mansfield, Fiat justitia ruat caelum.
One cannot do Justice to Mr. Dignam Bailey's argument, when after
lunch he rose to reply. He was logical and passionate,
vindictive and pathetic by turns. He inveighed against the Lady
Superior, against her attorneys, against Father Certificatus,
against Ginx,--"craven to his heaven-born rights of political and
religious freedom,"-- against the Roman Catholic religion, the
Pope, the Archbishop of Westminster, the Virgin Mary. The Court
knew, and every one else knew, that this was pure pyrotechny, and
Mr. Bailey knew that best of all; but, though the Bench is swift
to speak, slow to hear, it felt obliged, in a case of this public
interest, to sit by, and be witnesses of the exhibition. Mr.
Bailey concluded by a play on the aphorism cited by his learned
friend. "He would say that if such justice were to be done, as
his friend had urged, the Kingdom of Heaven in England would rush
to its fall."
The Court at once decided that, as the father had confided the
custody of the infant to the Sisters of Misery, and did not
appear to desire that it should be withdrawn, they, disregarding
the religious clouds in which the subject had been too carefully
involved on both sides, gave judgment for the defendant, with
As they passed out of Court, Mr. Stigma said to his clients,
"Quite as I anticipated; you remember I told you so in my
VII.--A Protestor, but not a Protestant.
The infant Ambrosius and his conductors could scarcely reach the
convent in safety. The building showed few windows to the
street, but they were all broken. What might have happened in a
few days, but that Ginx's Baby took the matter into his own
hands, none can say.
The treatment to which the little saint was subjected soured his
temper. His kind nurses had choked him twice a day with incense,
and now he had inhaled for seven hours the air of the Queen's
Bench. On his return to the convent he was hastily fed, and
carried to the chapel to give thanks for the victory of the day.
Wrapped in a handsome chasuble, they laid him on the steps of the
altar. In the most solemn part of the service he coughed, and
grew sick. The chasuble was bespattered. When the officiating
priest, to save that garment, took the child in his arms, he
nefariously polluted the sacerdotal vestments and the altar
steps. Then he kicked toward the altar itself, roared lustily,
and finally went into convulsions in Sister Suspiciosa's arms.
Like most women, the Lady Superior required her enthusiasm to be
fed with success. She began to think that she had been cozened:
Ginx's Baby was too evidently a spiritual miscarriage. He must,
like the rest of his family, be, indeed, "Protestant to the
backbone." Father Certificatus agreed with her. His robes and
best chasuble were befouled.
"Let us not risk a repetition of this conduct," said he; "let the
child be given up. He is baptized, and cannot be severed from
the Church. He will return after many days."
Next morning the solicitors of the Protestant Detectoral
Association received a letter from their opponents. In this they
said that--presuming Messrs. Roundhead, Roundhead, and Lollard,
intended to apply to the Master of the Rolls, the authorities of
the convent had decided, after having vindicated themselves in
the Queen's Bench, to give up the child, which would be, for
twenty-four hours, at the order and disposal of the Association,
and afterwards of his parents. "We are instructed by our
clients," they added, "to ask you to bear in mind that the child
has been admitted, and is a member of the Catholic Church, owing
allegiance to the Holy Father at Rome, a bond from which only the
Papal excommunication can absolve him."
VIII.--"See how these Christians love one another."
A mass-meeting of Protestants had been summoned for three o'clock
on the day designated in the letter of the Papist attorneys, to
be held in the Philopragmon Hall. That was the favorite centre
of countless movements, both well-meant and well-executed, and of
others as futile as they were foolish. Yet one could not say
that a larger proportion of the latter were connected with the
Hall than existed in as many other human enterprises of any sort.
The concession of the Romanists at first dashed the managers of
the demonstration. Their grievance was gone. Still there
remained topics for a meeting: they would rejoice over victory,
and consult about the future of the Protestant Baby.
The Secretary was an old hand at these meetings. He planned to
import into this one a sensation. Ginx's Baby, brought from the
convent, stripped of his papal swathings and enveloped in a
handsome outfit presented by an amiable Protestant Duchess, was
placed in a cradle with his head resting on a Bible. I am afraid
he was quite as uncomfortable as he had ever been at the
convent. When, at the conclusion of the chairman's speech, in
which he informed the audience of their triumph, this exhibition
was deftly introduced upon the platform, the huzzas, and
clappings, and waving of handkerchiefs were such as even that
place had never seen. The child was astounded into quietness.
Mr. Trumpeter took the chair--believed by many to be, next to the
Queen, the most powerful defender of the faith in the three
kingdoms. I never could understand why the newspapers reported
his speeches--I cannot.
When he had done, Lord Evergood, "a popular, practical peer, of
sound Protestant principles," as the Daily Banner alliteratively
termed him next morning, rose to move the first resolution,
already cut and dried by the committee--
"That the infant so happily rescued from the incubus of a
delusive superstition, should be remitted to the care of the
Church Widows' and Orphans' Augmentation Society, and should be
supported by voluntary contributions."
Before Lord Evergood could say a word murmurs arose in every part
of the hall. He was a mild, gentlemanly Christian, without
guile, and the opposition both surprised and frightened him. He
uttered a few sentences in approval of his proposition and sat
An individual in the gallery shouted-- "Sir! I rise to move an
Cheers, and cries of "Order! order! Sit down!" &c.
The Chairman, with great blandness, said: "The gentleman is out
of order; the resolution has not yet been seconded. I call upon
the Rev. Mr. Valpy to second the resolution."
Mr. Valpy, incumbent of St. Swithin's-within, insisted on
speaking, but what he said was known only to himself. When he
had finished there was an extraordinary commotion. On the
platform many ministers and laymen jumped to their feet; in the
hall at least a hundred aspirants for a hearing raised themselves
on benches or the convenient backs of friends.
The Chairman shouted, "Order! ORDER, gentlemen! This is a great
occasion; let us show unanimity!"
There seemed to be an unanimous desire to speak. Amid cheers,
cries for order, and Kentish fire, you could hear the Rev. Mark
Slowboy, Independent, the Rev. Hugh Quickly, Wesleyan, the Rev.
Bereciah Calvin, Presbyterian, the Rev. Ezekiel Cutwater,
Baptist, calling to the chair.
A lull ensued, of which advantage was taken by Mr. Stentor, a
well-known Hyde Park orator, who bellowed from a friend's
shoulders in the pit, "Mr. Chairman, hear ME!" an appeal that was
followed by roars of laughter.
What was the matter? Why the proposal to hand over the baby to
an Anglican refuge stirred up the blood of every Dissenter
present. It was lifting the infant out of the frying-pan and
dexterously dropping him into the fire. But the chairman was
accustomed to these scenes. He stayed the tumult by proposing
that a representative from each denomination should give his
opinion to the audience. "Whom would they have first? "
The loudest cries were for Mr. Cutwater, who stood forth--a weak,
stooping, half-halting, little man, with a limp necktie, and
trousers puffy at the knees--but with honest use of them, let me
say. It is quite credible that if Dr. Watts's assertion be true
"Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees,"
that arch-enemy was unusually perturbed when Ezekiel Cutwater was
upon his. On these he had borne manly contests with evil. Two
things--yea, three--were rigid in Ezekiel's creed; fire would
never have burned them out of him: hatred of Popery, contempt of
Anglican priestcraft and apostolic succession, and adhesion to
the dogma of adult baptism and total immersion. Whoso should not
join with him in these let him be Anathema Maranatha.
His eye kindled as he looked at the seething audience. "Sir,"
said he, "I beg to move an amendment to the motion of the noble
lord. (Cheers.) That motion proposes to transfer to the care of
the Established Church this tender and unconscious infant
(bending over Ginx's baby), just snatched from the toils of a
kindred superstition. (Oh, oh, hisses and cheers.) I withdraw
the expression; I did not mean to be offensive. (Hear.) This is
a grand representative meeting--not of the English Church, not of
the Baptist Church, not of the Wesleyan Church--but of
Protestantism. (Cheers and Kentish fire.) In such an assembly
is it right to propose any singular disposition of a
representative infant? This is now the adopted child, not of
one, but of all denominations. (Cheers.) Around his, or her--I
am not sure which --cherubic head circle the white-winged angels
of various Churches, and on her or him, whichever it may be----"
The Chairman said that he might as well say that he had authentic
information that it was HIM.
"Him then--concentrate the sympathies of every Protestant heart.
Let us not despoil the occasion of its greatness by exhibiting a
narrow bigotry in one direction! Let us bring into this
infantile focus the rays of Catholic unity. (Loud cheering and
Kentish fire.) To me, for one, it would be eminently painful to
think--what doubtless would occur if the motion is adopted--that
within a week of his entrance into the asylum of the society
named in it, this diminutive and unknowing sinner should go
through the farce of a supposititious admission into the Church
of Christ. (Oh!) Yes! I say a farce, whether you regard the
age of the acolyte or the indifferent proportion of water with
which it would be performed. (Uproar, oh, oh! and some cheering
from the Baptist section.) But I will not now further enter into
these things," said Mr. Cutwater, who knew his cue perfectly
well, "I can hold these opinions and still love my brethren of
other denominations. I move, as an amendment, that a committee,
consisting of one minister and one layman to be selected from
each of the Churches, be appointed to take charge of the physical
well-being and mental and spiritual training of the infant."
By this proposition, which was received with enthusiasm, Ginx's
Baby was to be incontinently pitched into an arena of polemical
warfare. Every one was willing that a committee should fight out
the question vicariously; and, therefore, when Mr. Slowboy
seconded the amendment, it was carried with loud acclamations.
But they were not yet out of the wood. On proceeding to nominate
members of the committee, the Unitarians and Quakers claimed to
be represented. The platform and the meeting were by the ears
again. It was fiercely contended that only Evangelical
Christians could have a place in such a work, and many of the
nominees declared that they would not sit on a committee
with--well, some curious epithets were used. The Unitarians and
Quakers took their stand on the Catholic principles embodied in
the amendment, and on the fact that Ginx's Baby had now "become
national Protestant property." Mr. Cutwater and a few others,
moved by the scandal of the dispute, interfered, and the
committee was at length constituted to the satisfaction of all
parties. It was to be called "The Branch Committee of the
Protestant Detectoral Union for promoting the Physical and
Spiritual Well-being of Ginx's Baby. "
A fourth resolution was adopted, "That the subject should be
treated in the Metropolitan pulpits on the next Sabbath, and a
collection taken up in the various churches for the benefit of
the infant." This promised well for Master Ginx's future.
The meeting had lasted five hours, and while they were discussing
him the child grew hungry. In the tumult every one had forgotten
the subject of it, and now it was over, they dispersed without
thought of him. But he would not allow those near him at all
events to overlook his presence.
Some, foreseeing that awkwardness was impending, slipped away;
while three or four stayed to ask what was to be done with him.
"Hand him over to the custody of the Chairman," said a Mr. Dove.
"I should be most happy," said he, smoothly, "but Mrs. Trumpeter
is out of town. Could your dear wife take him, Mr. Dove?"
Mr. Dove's wife was otherwise engaged.
The Secretary was unmarried--chambers at Nincome's Inn.
In the midst of their distress a woman who had been hanging about
the hall near the platform, came forward and offered to take
charge of him, "for the sake of the cause." Every one was
relieved. After her name and address had been hastily noted, the
Protestant baby was placed in her arms. My Lord Evergood, the
Chairman, the clergy, the Secretary, and the mob went home
rejoicing. Some hours after, Ginx's Baby, stripped of the
duchess's beautiful robes, was found by a policeman, lying on a
doorstep in one of the narrow streets, not a hundred yards behind
the Philopragmon. By an ironical chance he was wrapped in a copy
of the largest daily paper in the world.
IX.--Good Samaritans, and Good-Samaritan Twopences.
At every breakfast-table in town next morning the report of the
great Protestant meeting was read, and a further report, in
leaded type, of the discovery of Ginx's Baby at a later period of
the evening by a policeman. A pretty comment on the proceedings!
The Good Samaritan put his patient on his ass and carried him to
an inn; while the priest and the Levite, though the latter looked
at him, at least let him alone. To have called a public meeting
to discuss his fate before deserting him, would have been a
refinement of inhumanity. The committee were rather ashamed when
they met. Instant measures were taken to recover the child and
place him in good hands. The duchess again provided
baby-clothes. The next Sunday sermons were preached on his
behalf in a score of chapels. The collections amounted to L 800,
a sum increased by donations and subscriptions to the handsome
total of L 1360 10s. 3 1/2d.
It will be seen hereafter what the committee did with the baby,
but I happen to have an account of what became of the funds.
They were spent as follows, according to a balance sheet never
submitted to the subscribers:--
Pounds s. d.
Committee-rooms . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 0 0
2 Secretaries employed by the
Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 0 0
Agents, canvassing, &c . . . . . . . . . . 88 6 2
Printing Notices, Placards,
Pamphlets, a "Daily Bulletin of
Health," "Life of Ginx's Baby,"
"Protestant Babyhood, a Tale,"
"The Cradle of an Infant Martyr,"
"A Snatched Brand," and other
Works issued by the Committee . . . . . . 596 13 5
Advertisements of Meetings,
Sermons, &c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261 1 1
Legal Expenses . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 77 6 8
Stationery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 10 0
Postage, Firing, and Sundries . . . . . . . 27 19 2
Total Pounds 1251 16 6
This left L 108 13s. 9 1/2d. for the baby's keep. No child could
have been more thoroughly discussed, preached and written about,
advertised, or advised by counsel; but his resources dwindled in
proportion to these advantages. Benevolent subscribers too
seldom examine the financial items of a report: had any who
contributed to this fund seen the balance sheet they might have
grudged that so little of their bounty went to make flesh, bone,
and comfort for the object of it. A cynic would tell them that
to look sharply after the disposal of their guerdon was half the
gift. Their indifference was akin to that satirized by the
"Prodigus et stultus dedit quae spernit et odit."
In an age of luxury we are grown so luxurious as to be content to
pay agents to do our good deeds for us; but they charge us three
hundred per cent. for the privilege.
X.--The Force--and a Specimen of its Weakness.
Ginx's baby had been discovered by a policeman swaddled in a
penny paper, distressingly familiar to metropolitan travellers by
rail. To omit the details of his treatment at the hands of that
great institution, "The Force," would be invidious. The member
thereof who fell in with him was walking a back street, sighting
doors with his bull's-eye. He was provided with massive boots,
so that a thief could hear him coming a hundred yards off; he was
personally tall and unwieldy, and a dexterous commissioner had
invented a dress designed to enhance these qualities--a heavy
coat, a cart-horse belt, and a round cape. He had been carefully
drilled not to walk more than three miles an hour. He was not a
little startled when the rays of his lamp fell upon a struggling
newspaper, out of which, as from a shell, came mysterious cries.
He took up a corner of the paper and peeped in upon the face of
Ginx's Baby; then he occupied a quarter of an hour in
embarrassing reflections. A nearly naked child crying in the
cold ought to be housed as soon as possible, but X 99 was ON HIS
BEAT, and those magic words chained him to certain limits. This,
of course, was the rule under a former commissioner, and every
one knows that such absurd strategy has been abolished in the
existing regime. At that time, however, each watchman had his
beat, to leave which was neglect of duty, except with a prisoner,
and then it was neglect of all the householders within the magic
compass. Had X 99 heard the baby crying across the street, which
was part of the beat of X 101, he would have passed on with a
cheery heart, for the case would have been beyond his
jurisdiction. Unhappily the baby was on his beat, and he was
delivered from the temptation of transferring it to the other by
the appearance of X 101's bull's-eye not far off. What was he to
do? The station was a mile away--the inspector would not arrive
for an hour--and it would be awkward, if not undignified, to
carry on his rounds a shouting baby wrapped in the largest daily
paper. If he left it where it was, and it perished, he might be
charged with murder. He was at his wits' end--but having got
there, he resolved on the simplest process, namely to carry it to
the station. No provision was made by the regulations of the
force to protect a beat casually deserted even for a proper
purpose. Hence, while X 99 was absent on his errand of mercy,
the valuable shop of Messrs. Trinkett and Blouse, ecclesiastical
tailors, was broken into, and several stoles, chasubles,
altar-cloths and other decorative tapestries were appropriated to
profane uses.
At the station the baby was disposed of according to rule. Due
entry was first made in the night-book by the superintendent of
all the particulars of his discovery. Some cold milk was then
procured and poured down the child's throat. Afterwards, wrapped
in a constable's cape, he was placed in a cell where, when the
door was locked, he could not disturb the guardians of the peace.
The same night, in the next cell, an innocent gentleman, seized
with an apoplexy in the street but entered in the charge-sheet as
drunk and incapable, died like a dog.
XI.--The Unity of the Spirit and the Bond of Peace.
When the committee met, every one discovered his incongruity with
the rest. Each was disposed to treat Ginx's Baby in a different
way--in other words, each wished to reflect the views of his
particular sect on the object of their charity. They were a new
"Evangelical Alliance," agreed only in hatred to Popery.
Finding at their first meeting that the discussion needed to be
brought into a focus, the committee appointed three of their
number to draw up a minute of the matters to be argued. This
committee reported that there arose, respecting the child, the
following questions:--
"I. As touching the body:
a. Wherewithal he should be fed and clothed?
b. In what manner and fashion that should be done?
II. As touching the mind and spirit:
a. Whether he should be educated? If so,
b. What were to be the subjects of instruction?
c. What creed, if any, should be primarily taught?
d. Should he be further baptized? If so,
1. Into what communion?
2. By what ceremonial?"
This programme, it appeared to its concoctors, embraced
everything that concerned Ginx's Baby except his death by the act
of God or the Queen's enemies. No sooner was the report made
than adopted. Then a member, eager for the fray, moved the
postponement of the first division of questions until the others
had been determined. Why should apostles of truth trouble
themselves to serve tables? These were very subordinate
questions to them--though, I think, of first importance to Ginx's
Baby. It was decided to discuss little Ginx's future before
considering his present.
The ball was opened by the Venerable Archdeacon Hotten, who, amid
much excitement, contended that from the earliest buddings of
thought in an infant mind religion should be engrafted upon it;
there could be no education worth the name that was not
religious. That with the A should be taught the origin, and with
the Z the final destiny and destruction, of evil. To separate
education from religion was to clip the wings of the heavenly
dove. He asserted that the committee ought at once to have the
child baptized in Westminster Abbey, though he was rather of
opinion that the previous baptism was canonically valid; that he
should be taught the truths of our most holy faith, and since
there could be no faith without a creed, and the only national
creed was that of the Church of England, the baby should be
handed over to the care of a clergyman, and then be sent to a
proper religious school. He need not say that he excluded Rugby
under its then profane management.
The Church was, however, divided against itself, for the Dean of
Triston said he would give more latitude than his very reverend
brother. You ought not to define in an infant mind a rigid
outline of creed. In fact, he did not acknowledge any creed, he
was not obliged to by law and was disinclined to by his reason.
He would rather allow the inner seeds of natural light--the
glorious all-pervading efflorescence of the Deity in all men's
hearts, to grow within the young spirit. The Dean was assuredly
vague and far less earnest than his brother cleric.
The "Rev." Mr. Bumpus, Unitarian, met the suggestions of the
Archdeacon with the scorn they merited. It was impossible to
apply to a representative child of an enlightened age theories so
long exploded. The Dean had certainly come nearer the truth with
that broad sympathy for which he was noted. He himself proposed
that the child should be made a model nursling of the liberalism
of a new era. Old things were passing away;--all things had
become new. Creeds were the discarded banners of a mediaeval
past, fit only to be hung up in the churches, and looked at as
historic monuments; never more to be flaunted in the front of
battle! The education of the day was that which taught a man the
introspection whereby he recognized the Divine within
himself--under any aspect, under any tuition, whether of Brahma,
Confucius, or Christ. Truth was kaleidoscopic, and varied with
the media through which it was viewed. As for the child, every
aspect of truth and error should be allowed to play upon his
mind. Let him acquire ordinary school learning for fifteen
years, and then send him to the London University.
Here the Chairman, and half-a-dozen members of the committee,
protested that the said University was a school of the devil, and
several interchanges of discourtesy took place.
Mr. Shortt, M. P., begged to suggest, as a matter of business,
that for the present the child was not capable of receiving any
ideas whatever, and might die, or prove to be dumb, or an idiot,
and so require no education. Ought they not to postpone this
discussion until the subject was old enough to be worth
It was Mr. Shortt's habit to show his practical vein by
business-like obstructions of this kind. He had been able a
score of times to demonstrate to the House of Commons how silly
it was to consider probabilities. In fact, he was opposed heart
and soul to prophetic legislation; he would live, legislatively,
from hand to mouth.
But the committee would not allow Mr. Shortt to run away with the
bone of contention.
The Rev. Dr. M'Gregor Lucas, of the National Caledonian
Believers, had been silent too long to contain himself further.
This man needs some particular description whenever his name is
made public. Nay, for this he lives, and by it, some think. At
all events, he appears to be equally eager for rebuke and
applause; they both involve notoriety, and notoriety is sure to
pay. Few absurdities had been overlooked by his shallow
ingenuity. Simply to have invested his limited mental endowments
in trying to make the world believe him a genius, would have been
only so like what many thousands are doing as to have absolved
him from too harsh a judgment; but he traded in perilous stuff.
Cheap prophecy was his staple. It was his wont to give out about
once in five years, that the world would shortly come to an end,
and, like Mr. Zadkiel, he found people who thought their
inevitable disappointment a proof of his inspiration. Had you
heard the honeyed words dropping from his lips, you would have
taken him for a Scotch angel, and, consequently, a rarity. Could
such lips utter harsh sayings, or distil vanities? Show him a
priest, and you would hear! The Pope was his particular born
foe; Popery his enemies' country--so he said. It was safe for
him to stand and throw his darts. No one could say whether they
hit or did not; while most spectators had the good will to hope
that they did. How he would have lived if Daniel and St. John
had dreamed no dreams, one cannot conjecture. As it was, they
provided the doctor with endless openings for his fancy. Since
no one could solve the riddle of their prophecies, it was certain
that no one could disprove his solutions. Yet these came so
often to their own disproof by lapse of time, that I can only
think that the good doctor hoped to die before his critical
periods came, or was so clever as to trust the infallibility of
human weakness.
I describe Dr. Lucas at so great a length, because it will be
easier and more edifying to the reader to conceive what he said,
than for me to recount it. He showed the Baby to be one of seven
mysteries. He was in favor of teaching him at once to hate
idolatry, music, crosses, masses, nuns, priests, bishops, and
cardinals. The "humanities," the Shorter Catechism, the
Confession of Faith, and "The whole Duty of Man," would, in his
opinion, be the books to lay the groundwork in the child's mind
of a Christian character of the highest type.
Mr. Ogle, M. P., here vigorously intervened. Said he:--
"I can't, with all deference, agree to any of these suggestions.
They involve hand-to-hand fighting over this baby's body. No one
of us is entitled to take charge of him. Else why did we all
unite to rescue him from the nunnery? He will be torn to pieces
among contending divines! I think a purely secular education is
all that as a committee we should aim at. We have, but just
withdrawn the child from the shadow of a single ecclesiastical
influence--would you transfer it to another? Every Protestant
denomination is contributing to his support, how can you devote
their gifts to rearing him for one? You would have no peace;
better at once treat him as the man of Benjamin treated his wife,
cut him up into enough pieces to send to all the tribes of
Israel, summoning them to the fight. I say we have nothing to do
with this just now; let him be educated in a secular academy, and
let each sect be free to send its agents to instruct him out of
school hours as they please."
The Rev. Theodoret Verity, M.A., rose in anger.
"Surely, sir, you cannot seriously propound such a scheme! Would
you leave this precious waif to be buffeted between the
contending waves of truth and error, in the vague hope that by
some lucky wind he might finally be cast upon a rock of safety?
I protest against all these educational heresies--they are
redolent of brimstone. Truth is truth, or there is none at all.
If there be any, it is our duty to impart it to this immortal at
the outset of his existence. Secular education! What do you
mean by it? Who shall sever one question from another, and call
one secular and the other religious? Is not every relation and
every truth in some way or other connected with religion?" &c.
&c. Mr. Verity has been saying the same thing any time these
forty years.
"Forgive me," replied Mr. Ogle, "if I say that this is very vague
talking. I have not proposed to sever one question from another.
I only propose to do in a different way that which is being done
now by the most rigid of Mr. Verity's friends. It is impossible
to comprehend what is meant by such a statement as that every
truth is somehow connected with religion. It may be
that the notion--if it really is not, as I suspect it to be, mere
verbiage and clap-trap, used by certain fools to mislead
others--means that there is some such coherency between all
truths as there is, for instance, between the elements of the
body. I would admit that, but is not blood a different and
perfectly severable thing from bone? Each has its place, office,
relation. But who would say that one could not be regarded by a
physicist in the largest variety of its aspects apart from the
other? Yet the physicist comes back again to consider with
respect to each its relations to all the rest! The separate
study has rather prepared him for more profound insight into
those relations. Thus it is with the body of truth. In spite of
Mr. Verity I affirm that there are truths that have not in
themselves any element of religion whatever. The forty-seventh
proposition of Euclid will be taught by a Jesuit precisely as it
is taught in the London University; geography will affirm certain
principles and designate places, rivers, mountains--that no faith
can remove and cast into unknown seas. These subjects and others
are taught in our most bigoted schools in separate hours and
relations from religion. What then do you mean by affirming that
there can be no secular education of this child--apart from
religious teaching? We are not likely to agree, if I may judge
from what I have seen, on any one method of religious instruction
for it, therefore I wish first to fix common bounds within which
our common benevolence may work. Well, we all go to the Bible.
We agree that between its covers lies religious truth somewhere.
If you like let him have that--and let him have some kindly and
holy influences about him in the way of practice and example,
such as many of our sects can supply many instances of. Give him
no catechism--let him read a creed in our daily life. The
articles of faith strongest in his soul will be those which have
crystallized there from the combined action of truth and
experience, and not as it were been pasted on its walls by
ecclesiastical bill-posters. 'What is truth?' he must ask and
answer for himself, as we all must do before God. Don't mistake
me; I hope I am not more indifferent to religion than any here
present--but I differ from them on the best method of imbuing the
mind and heart with it. Surely we need not, we cannot--it would
be an exquisite absurdity--pass a resolution in this committee
that the child is to be a Calvinist! Who then would agree to
secure him from any taint of Arminian heresy in years to come?
Dare you even resolve that he shall be a Christian and a
Protestant! I would not insure the risk. But, with so many of
Christ's followers about me, surely, surely without providing any
ecclesiastical mechanism, there will be testified to him simply
how he may be saved. Your prayers, your visits, your kindly
moral influence and talk, your living example of a goodness
derived not from dogmas but from affectionate following of a holy
pattern and trust in revealed mercies, your pointing to that
pattern and showing the daily passage of these mercies will
prompt his search after the truth that has made you what you are.
Let some good woman do for him a mother's part, but choose her
for her general goodness and not for the dogmas of her church.
The simpler her piety the better for him I should say!"
This straightforward speech fell like a new apple of discord in
the midst of the committee. Angry knots were formed, and the
noble chairman found that he could not restore order. An
adjournment was agreed to. Luckily for the body of Ginx's Baby,
he had been meanwhile sent to a home where Protestant money
secured to him for the time good living, while his benefactors
were discussing what to do with his soul.
Surely, it were no impertinence to interrupt this history and
advert to the fact, that, in the discussion just related, every
one was to some extent right and to some extent agreed.
That religious teaching was due to an immortal spirit--some
notion and evidence of the Divine and the Great Hereafter to be
conveyed to it--scarce was disputed. Nor was there collision
over the necessity of what is called intellectual cultivation.
The boy must be taught something of the world in which he was to
live; nay, this latter knowledge seemed to be most immediately
practical. As each disputant fixed his eye on one or the other
aim that end appeared to him to be the most important. Hence, by
a natural lapse, they came to treat subjects as antagonistic
which were, in fact, parallel and quite consistent. The one
called the others godless--the others threw back the aspersion of
bigotry. Then came complication. What was "religion?"
Intellectual culture they could agree about--it embraced
well-known areas; but this religion divided itself into many
disputable fields. These brother Protestants were like country
neighbors who must encounter each other at fairs, markets, meets,
and balls, and smile and greet, though each, at heart, is looking
savagely at the other's landmarks, and most are very likely
fighting bitter lawsuits all the while. It was because religion
meant CREED to most members of the committee, and because it so
implies to the vast bodies they represented, that they could not
come to terms about Ginx's Baby or any other infantile immortal.
Not always, perhaps, but often, they fought for futile
distinctions. Had Mahomet's creed consisted of but one article,
There is one God, the blood of many nations might never have
given testimony against the creed they resented when to it he
tacked and Mahomet is His prophet. Could Protestants but consent
to agree in their agreement and peacefully differ in their petty
differences, how would the aggregated impulse of a simple faith
roll down before it all the impediments of error!
When Ginx's Baby had grown to a discretionary age, and was at all
able to know truth from error--supposing that to be
knowable--there were in the country fifty thousand reverend
gentlemen of every tincture of religious opinion who might ply
him with their various theories, yet few of these would be
contented unless they could seize him while his young nature was
plastic, and try to imprint on immortal clay the trade-mark of
some human invention.
XII.--No Funds--no Faith, no Works.
The Committee of the Protestant Detectoral Union on Ginx's Baby
held twenty-three meetings. They were then as far from unity of
purpose as when they set out. Variety was given to the meetings
by the changing combinations of members in attendance. The
finances were little heeded in the intensity of their zeal for
truth. These at length fell altogether into the hands of the
association's secretary, and we have seen involved large items of
expense. The twenty-three meetings extended over a year. At the
end of that time the secretary startled the committee by laying
on the table a demand for the board and keep of the Protestant
baby for three months, amounting to L 36; and adding that the sum
in hand was L 1, 4s. 4 1/2d. In his report he said: "No effort
has been spared by means of advertisements, pamphlets, tales,
leaders and paragraphs in newspapers and religious journals,
together with occasional sermons, to maintain the public interest
in this child; but attention has been diverted from him by the
great Roman Spozzi case, and the anxiety created throughout the
Protestant world by the recent discovery made by Dr. Gooddee, of
a solitary survivor of the ancient Church of the Vieuxbois
Protestants in a secluded valley of the Pyrenees."
The secretary asked the committee to provide the money to
discharge the baby's liabilities; but they instantly adjourned,
and no effort could afterwards get a quorum together. When the
persons who had charge of the Protestant foundling discovered the
state of affairs they began to dun the secretary and to neglect
the child, now about thirteen months old and preparing to walk.
Since no money appeared they sold whatever clothes had been
provided for him, and absconded from the place where they had
been farming him for Protestantism. The secretary, by chance
hearing of this, was discreet enough to make no inquiries.
Ginx's Baby, "as a Protestant question," vanished from the world.
I never heard that any one was asked what had been done with the
funds; but I have already furnished the account that ought to
have been rendered.
XIII.--In transitu.
One night, near twelve o'clock, a shrewd tradesman, looking out
of his shopdoor before he turned into bed, heard a cry which
proceeded from a bundle on the pavement. This he discovered to
be an infant wrapt in a potato-sack. He was quick enough to
observe that it had been deftly laid over a line chiselled across
the pavement to the corner of his house, which line he knew to be
the boundary between his own parish of St. Simon Magus and the
adjacent parish of St. Bartimeus. He took note, being a business
man, of the exact position of the child's body in relation to
this line, and then conveyed it to the workhouse of the other
I.--Parochial Knots--to be untied without prejudice.
The infant borne to the workhouse of St. Bartimeus was Ginx's
Baby. When he had been placed on the floor of the matron's room,
and examined by the master, that official turned to the unwelcome
bearer of the burden.
"Did you find this child?"
"Lying opposite my shop in Nether Place."
"What's your name? "
"Oh! you're the cheesemonger. Your shop's on the other side of
the boundary, in the other parish. The child ought not to come
here; it doesn't belong to us."
"Yes it does: it wasn't on my side of the line."
"But it was in front of your house?"
"Well, the line runs crossways: it don't follow the child was in
our parish."
"Oh, nonsense! there's no doubt about it! We can't take the
child in. You must carry it away again."
Mr. Snigger turned to leave the room.
"Wait a bit, sir," said Mr. Doll; "I shall leave the child here,
and you can do as you like with it. It ain't mine, at all
events. I say it lay in your parish; and if you don't look after
it you may be the worse of it. The coroner's sure to try to earn
his fees. Good-night."
He hurried from the room.
"Stop!" shouted the master, "I say: I don't accept the child.
You leave it here at your own risk. We keep it without
prejudice, remember-- without prejudice, sir!--without----"
Mr. Doll was in the street and out of hearing.
II.--A Board of Guardians.
The Guardians of St. Bartimeus met the day after Mr. Doll's
clever stratagem. Among other business was a report from the
master of the workhouse that a child, name unknown, found by Mr.
Doll, cheesemonger, of Nether Place, in the Parish of St. Simon
Magus, opposite his shop, and, as he alleged, on the nearer side
of the parish boundary, had been left at the workhouse, and was
now in the custody of the matron. The Guardians were not
accustomed to restrain themselves, and did not withhold the
expression of their indignation upon this announcement. As Mr.
Doll had himself been a guardian of St. Simon Magus, it was clear
to their impartial minds that he was trying by a trick to foist a
bastard--perhaps his own--on the wrong parish.
Mr. Cheekey, a licensed victualler, moved that the master's
report be put under the table.
Mr. Slinkum, draper, seconded the motion.
Mr. Edge, ironmonger, pointed out that there was no parliamentary
precedent for such a disposition of the report, and, further,
that such action did not dispose of the baby.
"Well," said Mr. Cheekey, turning painfully red, "no matter how
ye put it, I move to get rid of the brat. What's the best form
of motion?"
A churchwarden, who happened to be a gentleman, explained that
the Board could not dismiss the question in so summary a way.
"He could foresee that there might be a nice point of law in the
case. They would have to take some legal means of ascertaining
their liabilities, and of forcing the other parish to take the
child if they ought to do so. They must consult their
solicitor." This gentleman was sent for post haste. Meanwhile
the baby was ordered to be brought in for inspection. The matron
had handed him over to a sort of half-witted inmate of the house,
whose wits, however, were strangely about him at the wrong time,
to nurse and amuse him. This person brought Ginx's Baby into the
Board-room, and placed him on the table. The Board of Guardians
took a good look at him. He was not then in fair condition. He
was limp, he was dirty, hollow in the cheeks, white, stiff in his
limbs, and half-naked-- (to be regardless of gender)--
"Pallidula, rigida, nudula."
"Hum!" said Mr. Stink, who was a dog-breeder--"What's his
This brutal joke was well received by some of the Guardians.
"His pedigree," answered the half-wit, gravely, "goes back for
three hundred years. Parients unknown by name, but got by Misery
out o' Starvashun. The line began with Poverty out o' Laziness
in Queen Elizabeth's time. The breed has been a large 'un
wotever you thinks of the quality."
This pleasantry was less acceptable to the Board.
"Well," said Mr. Scoop, grocer, a great stickler for
parliamentary modes of procedure, "I move it be committed. "
"Committed! Where?" said Mr. Stink.
"To Newgate I s'pose," said the half-wit, his eyes twinkling.
"Nonsense, sir,--for consideration. Send that man out,"
exclaimed Scoop--"clear the room for consultation."
Davus was expelled, and the baby was then formally consigned to
the care of a committee. By this time the legal adviser came in.
The facts having been stated to him, he said:
"Gentlemen, as at present advised I am of opinion that the parish
in which the child was found is bound to maintain him. If Mr.
Doll (a highly respectable person, my own cheesemonger) found the
child beyond the boundaries of St. Simon Magus--and he will of
course swear that he did--you cannot refuse to take it in.
However, I had better ascertain the facts from Mr. Doll and take
the opinion of counsel. Meanwhile we must beware not to
compromise ourselves by admitting anything, or doing anything
equivalent to an admission. Let me see--Ah!--yes--a notice to be
served on the other parish repudiating the infant; another notice
to Mr. Doll to take it away, and that it remains here at his risk
and expense--you see, gentlemen, we could hardly venture to
return it to Mr. Doll; we should create an unhappy impression
in the minds of the public--"
"D--n the public!" said Mr. Stink.
"Quite so, my dear sir," said Mr. Phillpotts, smiling, "quite so,
but that is not a legal or in fact practicable mode of discarding
them; we must act with public opinion, I fear. Then, to resume,
thirdly and to be strictly safe, we must serve a notice on the
infant and all whom it may concern. I think I'll draft it at
In a few minutes the committee in charge pinned to the only
garment of Ginx's Baby a paper in the following form:--
To ---- ---- (name unknown), a Foundling, and all other persons
interested in the said Foundling.
That you, or either of you, have no just or lawful claim to have
you or the said infant chargeable on the said Parish. And this
is to notify that you, the said infant, are retained in the
workhouse of the said Parish under protest, and that whatsoever
is or may be done or provided for you is at the proper charge of
you, and all such persons as are and were by law bound to
maintain and keep the same.
Solicitors for the Board.
III.--"The World is my Parish."
When Mr. Phillpotts called upon Doll, the cheesemonger, the
latter straightway gave him the facts as they had occurred. He
pointed out the exact spot on which the bundle had lain; he gave
an estimate of the number of inches on each side of the line
occupied by it, and declared that the head and shoulders of the
infant lay in the parish of the solicitor's clients. Ginx's
Baby, under the title "Re a Foundling," was once more submitted
for the opinion of counsel. They advised the Board that as the
child was in both parishes when found, but had been taken up by a
ratepayer of St. Simon Magus, the latter parish was bound to
support him. Whereupon the Guardians of St. Bartimeus at their
next meeting resolved that the Vestry of the other parish should
have a written notice to remove the child, failing which
application should be made to the Queen's Bench for a mandamus to
compel them to do it.
On receiving the challenge the Guardians of St. Simon Magus also
took counsel's opinion. They were advised that as the greater
part, and especially the head of the infant, was when discovered
in the parish of St. Bartimeus, the latter was clearly
chargeable. Both parties then proceeded to swear affidavits.
The Attorney-General and Solicitor-General, the two great
law-officers of the crown, were retained on opposite sides, and
took fees--not for an Imperial prosecution, but as petty Queen's
Counsel in an inter-parochial squabble.
IV.--Without prejudice to any one but the Guardians.
The Court of Queen's Bench, after hearing an elaborate statement
from the Attorney-General, granted a rule nisi for a mandamus.
This rule was entered for argument in a paper called "The Special
Paper," and, the list being a heavy one, nearly a year elapsed
before it was reached. It was then again postponed several times
"for the convenience of counsel."
The Board of St. Bartimeus chafed under the law's delay. They
became morbidly sensitive to the incubus of Ginx's Baby,
especially as the press had been reviewing some of their recent
acts with great bitterness. The Guardians were defiant. Having
served their notices, they were induced by Mr. Stink to resolve
not to maintain the infant. The poor child was threatened with
dissolution. Thus, no doubt, many difficulties in parochial
administration are solved--the subject vanishes away. The baby
was kept provisionally in a room at the workhouse. On the
outside of the door was a notice in fair round-hand:--
Pending the legal inquiry into the facts concerning the above
infant, and a decision as to its settlement, all officials,
assistants, and servants of the workhouse are forbidden to enter
the room in which it is deposited, or to render it any service or
assistance, on pain of dismissal. No food is to be supplied to
it from the workhouse kitchen.
N.B. This is not intended to prevent persons other than
officials, &c., from having access to the infant, or assisting
That any body of human beings, other than Patagonians, could have
coolly contemplated such a result as must have followed upon the
strict performance of this order, would be incredible except in
the instance of the Guardians of St. Bartimeus. There was
nothing they could not do--or leave undone. Fortunately for
Ginx's Baby, the order was disobeyed. Occasionally lady visitors
went to look at him and give him some food--he was toddling about
the room on unsteady legs--but charity seemed to be appalled by
the official questions hanging about this child. The master,
Snigger, whose business it was every day to ascertain whether the
cause of the great parochial quarrel was in, or out of,
existence, became a traitor to the Board. When the child grew
hungry and dangerously thin, he brought bottles of pap prepared
by Mrs. Snigger, and administered it to him. No conclusions to
the disfavor of the Board were to be drawn from this conduct, for
Snigger was particular to say to the boy in a loud voice, each
time he fed him:--
"Now, youngster, this is without prejudice, remember! I give you
due notice--without prejudice."
Who, in Master Ginx's situation, would have had any prejudices to
such action, or have expressed them even if they were
entertained? He took no objection as he took the pap; while
Snigger was glad to be able to do an unusual kindness without
compromising the parish.
Thus things had gone on for many months, when one day an eye of
that Argus monster, the Public, was set upon Ginx's Baby. A
well-known nobleman, calling at the workhouse to see a little
girl whom he had saved from infamy, as he passed down a corridor
was arrested by the notice on the door of our hero's room.
Curiosity took him in, and horror chained him there for some
time. Had he not entered, Ginx's Baby, spite of Snigger, would
in twenty-four hours have ceased to supply facts to history. He
was suffering from low fever, and his condition was as
sensationally shocking as any reporter could have wished. Out
rushed the peer for a doctor, took a cab to a magistrate and
detailed the whole case, to be repeated in next morning's papers.
Penny-a-liners ran to the spot, wrote vivid descriptions of the
baby and the room, and transcribed the notice. The Guardians
were drubbed in trenchant leaders and indignant letters. They,
instead of bending to the storm, strove to confront it, and
passed angry resolutions of a childish and grotesque character.
The few of them who possessed any sense of propriety were railed
at in the meetings till they ceased to attend. The uproar
outside increased. Why did not the President of the Poor-Law
Board interfere? At last he did interfere: that is, instead of
visiting the scene himself, and satisfying his own eyes as to the
truth of what his ears had heard, a process that would have taken
a couple of hours, he appointed a gentleman to hold an inquiry.
The Guardians became furious. The reports of their proceedings
read like the vagaries of a lunatic asylum or the deliberations
of the American Senate. They discharged Snigger for breach of
orders, substituting a relative of Mr. Stink. They put a lock on
the door, and passed food to the Baby by a stick. A committee
was appointed to see him fed, and they forwarded a memorial to
the Poor-Law Board, stating that "he daily had more food than he
could possibly eat, and was in admirable condition." They
refused to allow any doctor but one employed by themselves to see
him. They procured from him a certificate that the noble
busybody and his physician had made a mistake, and that all the
functions of life in the infant appeared to be in perfect order.
Then came the gentleman, and the inquiry, and his report, and a
letter from the Poor-Law Board, and further discussions and more
letters, until the bewildered public gnashed its teeth at the
Minister, the Guardians, and the law, and wished them all at
Land's End or beyond it.
V.-An Ungodly Jungle.
The case of the Guardians of St. Bartimeus against the Guardians
of St. Simon Magus was at length reached. The argument lasted
for two days. There is a grim work, the short title whereof is
"Burns's Justice," in five fat volumes, from which the legal
Dryasdust turns aghast. In one of these portentous books, title
"Poor," pp. 1200, the inquisitive may find a code unrivalled by
the most malignant ingenuity of former or contemporary nations: a
code wherein, by gradual accretion, has been framed a system of
relief to poverty and distress so impolitic, so unprincipled,
that none but the driest, mustiest, most petrified parish
official could be expected to lift up his voice to defend it; so
complicated that no man under heaven knows its length or breadth
or height or depth; yet it stands to this hour a monument of
English stolidity--a marvel of lazy or ignorant statesmanship.
Imagine, if you please, a Lord Chief Justice and three Puisnes,
all keen, practical men, alive to public policy and the common
weal, eager to extricate the truth and do the right, plunging
into this "ungodly jungle," thwarted at every turn, in search of
justice for Ginx's Baby. With all his patient industry and
lightning quickness of apprehension, the Chief Justice found it
hard to reconcile past and present, or evolve from the vast
confusion anything consistent with his moral instincts.
--Clear the board, gentlemen. True regenerative legislation will
begin by drawing away the rubbish. Reform means more than
repair. Mend, patch, take down a little here, prop up some
tottering nuisance there, fill in gaping chinks with patent
legislative cement, coat old facades with bright paint, hide
decay beneath a gloze of novelty, titivate, decorate,
furbish--and after all your house is not a new one, but a whited
sepulchre shaking to decay. Repair? There is a Repair party,
intermediating between Tories and Reformers--Radicals or Rooters
let us call these latter if you like--who cling to "vested
interests" and all other sorts of antique nuisances, yet say they
are willing to improve them. REFORM, which means, Pull down with
bold statesman's hand, and with like hand REBUILD, is no darling
of your political Repairer. Call the party and the men by their
right names: and give me for utility in legislation or
administrative action an Old Tory and Obstructive party rather
than this middling, meddling, muddling Repairer--
"Eager to change yet fearful to destroy."
Just now all Social Reformation, in its noblest aims and
attempts, is fettered by the Repair party. What is termed
Sanitary Reform is enfeebled, and the vigor withdrawn from it, by
this party. "Vested rights," "the Liberty of the people,"
"Interference with personal freedom," "EXPENSE," --these are the
watchwords of the Repairer in opposition to him who, pointing to
the pallor and fever of a hundred neighborhoods, calls upon a
ministry to cleanse them with imperial force.
A comprehensive scheme of National Education is seized and
half-throttled by the Repair party. "Oh! utilize what there is;
improve on and tack to the denominational system; avail yourself
of the jealousy of sects; see what a grand building that has
already erected! True, it is not large enough; true, it is badly
built; but repair that, and add wings. It will cost you ever so
much to rebuild--Repair!"
The methods of relief to the Poor are old, cumbrous, unequal, as
stupid as those who administer them. Forth steps the Reformer,
and cries out--"Clear this wrack away! Get rid of your
antiquated Bumbledom, your parochial and non-parochial
distinctions, your complicated map of local authorities;
re-distribute the kingdom on some more practical system, redress
the injustice of unequal rating, improve the machinery and spirit
of relief, and so on." You have the Repair party shouting its
Non possumus as loudly as any other arch-obstructive: "Heaven
forbid! Queen Elizabeth and the Poor Laws for ever! To the
rescue of Local Government and Vested Interests! Repair!"
Some one with a long head and a divinely-warmed heart, searching
vainly for help to thousands in the packed alleys of his English
Home, sends his quick glance across seas to rich lands that daily
cry to heaven for strong arms that wield the plough and spade.
"Ho!" he shouts, "Labor to Land--starvation to production--death
unto life!" and he calls upon every statesman and patriot to help
the good work, and give their energies to frame an Emigration
Scheme. Then the Repair party foams: "Send away the Labor, the
source of our wealth? No. Mend the condition of the laborer;
give him the sop of political rights--free breakfasts--the
ballot. Give State funds to alter social conditions? No.
Improve the methods of local assistance to Emigration; it is a
temporary remedy--Repair!"
Thus, according to the gospel of this party, everything must be
subject of restoration only. Like antiquarians, they utter
groans over the abolition of anything, however ugly it may be,
however unfitted for human uses, and with however so elegant a
piece of artistry you desire to displace it. For them a
Gilbert-Scott politician, reverential restorer of bygone styles,
enthusiastic to conserve and amend the grotesque Gothic policies
of the past, rather than some Brunel or Stephenson statesman,
engineering in novel mastery of circumstances--not fearful to
face and conquer even the antique impediments of Nature. Give me
a trenchant statesman, or I pray you leave legislation alone.
Better things as they are than patched to distraction.
At length, by means of some delicate legal adjustments, the
judges saw their way to affirming that Ginx's Baby's parish was
that of St. Bartimeus, and refused the rule for a mandamus.
VI.--Parochial Benevolence--and another translation.
The authorities of St. Bartimeus did not take kindly to the
charge imposed upon them by the Queen's Bench. Some of the
Guardians privately hinted to the master that it was unnecessary
to overfeed the infant. They did not burthen him with much
clothing, and what he had was shared with many lively companions.
When you, good matron, look at your little pink-cheeked daughter,
so clean and so cosy in her pretty cot, waking to see the
well-faced nurse, or you, still sweeter to her eyes, watching
above her dreams, perhaps you ought to stop a moment to contrast
the scene with the sad tableaux you may get sight of not far
* * *
Ginx's Baby was not an ill-favored child. He had inherited his
father's frame and strength: these helped him through the changes
we are relating. What if these capacities had, by simple
nourishing food, cleanly care-taking, and brighter, kindlier
associations, been trained into full working order? Left alone
or ill-tended they were daily dwindling, and the depreciation was
going on not solely at the expense of little Ginx, but of the
whole community. To reduce his strength one-half was to reduce
one-half his chances of independence, and to multiply the
prospects of his continuous application for STATE AID.
The money spent in stopping a hole in a Dutch dyke is doubtless
better invested than if it were to be retained until a vast
breach had laid half a kingdom under water. Surely your
Hollander would agree to be mulcted in one-third of his fortune
rather than run the hazard!
Every day through this wealthy country there are men and women
busy marring the little images of God, that are by-and-by to be
part of its public-shadowing young spirits, repressing their
energy, sapping their vigor or failing to make it up, corrupting
their nature by foul associations, moral and physical. Some are
doing it by special license of the devil, others by Act of
Parliament, others by negligence or niggardliness. Could you
teach or force these people--many unconsciously engaged in the
vile work--to run together, as men alarmed by sudden danger, and
throw around a helpless generation influences and a care more
akin to your own home ideal, would you not transfigure the next
epoch--would not your labor and sacrifice be a GOD-WORK, reaching
out weighty, fruit-laden branches far into the grateful future?
'Tis by feeling and enjoining everywhere the need of such a
movement as this that you, O all-powerful woman! can carry your
will into the play of a great economic and social reform.
Society that recognizes not a root-truth like that is sowing the
wind--God knows what it will reap.
So the Guardians, keeping carefully within the law, neglected
nothing that could sap little Ginx's vitality, deaden his
happiest instincts, derange moral action, cause hope to die
within his infant breast almost as soon as it were born. Good
The items the Board were really entitled to charge the
rate-payers as supplied to our hero were--
Foul air,
Chances of catching skin diseases, fevers, &c.,
Vile company,
Occasional cruelty, and
A small supply of bad food and clothing.
Every pauper was to them an obnoxious charge by any and every
means to be reduced to a minimum or nil. Ginx's Baby was reduced
to a minimum. His constitution enabled him to protest against
reduction to nil. But, just after the bills of costs had been
taxed, mulcting the rate-payers of St. Bartimeus in a sum of more
than L 1,600, the Guardians were made aware of the name and
origin of their charge. One of the persons who had deserted him
was arrested for theft, and among other articles in her
possession were some of the Baby's clothes. She confessed the
whole story, and declared that the child left in Nether Place was
no other than the Protestant Baby, son of Ginx, about whom so
much stir had been made two years before. The Guardians were not
long in tracing Ginx, and, at his quarters in Rosemary Street,
the hapless changeling was one day delivered by a deputy
relieving-officer, with the benediction, by me sadly recorded--
"There he is, d--n him!"
I am sure if the Guardians had been there they would have said:
I.--Moved on.
Ginx's Baby's brothers and sisters would have nothing to say to
him. Mrs. Ginx declared she could see in him no likeness to her
own dear lost one; and her husband swore that the brat never was
his. The couple had latterly been pinching themselves and their
children to save enough to emigrate. For this purpose aid and
counsel were given to them by a neighboring curate, whose name,
were my pages destined to immortality, should be printed here in
golden letters. Rich and full will be his sheaves when many a
statesman reaps tares. Finding that a thirteenth child was
imposed on them by so superior a force as the law of England the
Ginxes hastened their departure.
Their last night in London, towards the small hours, Ginx,
carrying our hero, went along Birdcage Walk. He scarcely knew
where he was going, or how he was about to dispose of his burden,
but he meant to get rid of it. On he went, here and there met by
shadowy creatures who came towards his footsteps in the uncertain
darkness, and when they could see that he was no quarry for them
flitted away again into the night.
He passed the dingy houses, since replaced by the Foreign Office,
across the open space before the Horse Guards, near the house of
a popular Prime Minister, and up the broad steps till he stood
under the York Column. The shadow of this was an inviting place,
but a policeman turning his lantern suspiciously on the man
walking about at that silent hour with a child in his arms
frustrated his wish. Slowly Ginx tramped along Pall Mall, with
only one other creature stirring, as it seemed for the moment--a
gentleman who turned up the steps of a large building. Seating
the child on the bottom step and telling him not to cry, Ginx
instantly crossed the road, turned into St. James's Square,
passed by the rails, and stealing from corner to corner through
the mazes of that locality, reached home by way of Piccadilly and
Grosvenor Place. Henceforth this history shall know him no more.
II.-Club Ideas.
Scarcely had the shadow of his parent vanished in the gloom
before Ginx's Baby piped forth a lusty protest: the street rang
again. Ere long the doors at the top of the steps swung back,
and a portly form stood in the light.
"Halloo! what's the matter?" (This was a general observation into
space.) "Why, bless my heart, here's a child crying on the
Another form appeared.
"Is there nobody with it? Halloo! any one there?"
No answer came save from poor little Ginx, but his was decided.
The two servants descended the steps and looked at the miserable
boy without touching him. Then they peered into the darkness in
hope that they might get a glimpse of his mother or a policeman.
A rapid step sounded on the pavement and a gentleman came up to
the group.
"What have we here?" he said gently.
"It's a child, Sir Charles, I found crying on the steps. I
expect it's a trick to get rid of him. We are looking for a
policeman to take him away."
"Poor little fellow," said Sir Charles, stooping to take a fair
look at Ginx's Baby, "for you and such as you the policeman or
the parish officers are the national guardians, and the prison or
the poor-house the home. . . . . Bring him into the Club,
The men hesitated a moment before executing so unwonted a demand,
but Sir Charles Sterling was a man not safely to be thwarted--a
late minister and a member of the committee. The child being
carried into the magnificent hall of the Club, stood on its
mosaic floor. From above the radiance of the gas "sunlight"
streamed down over the marble pillars, and glanced on gilded
cornices and panels of scagliola. A statue of the Queen looked
upon him from the niche that opened to the dining-room; another
of the great Puritan soldier, statesman, and ruler, with his
stern massive front; and yet another, with the strong yet gentle
features of the champion Free-Trader, seemed to regard him from
their several corners. On the walls around were portraits of men
who had striven for the deliverance of the people from ancient
yokes and fetters. Of course Ginx's Baby did not see all this.
He, poor boy, dazed, stood with a knuckle in his eye, while the
porter, lackeys, Sir Charles Sterling, and others who strolled
out of the reading-room, curiously regarded him. But any one
observing the scene apart might have contrasted the place with
the child--the principles and the professions whereof this
grandeur was the monument and consecrated tabernacle, with this
solitary atomic specimen of the material whereon they were to
work. What social utility had resulted from the great movements
initiated by them who erected and frequented this place? Ought
they to have had, and did they still need a complement? While
wonderful political changes had been wrought, and benefits not to
be exaggerated won for many classes, WHAT HAD BEEN DONE FOR
The query would not have been very ridiculous. He was an unit of
the British Empire--nothing could blot out that fact before
heaven! Had anything been left undone that ought to have been
done, or done that had well been left undone, or were better to
be undone now? Of a truth that was worth a thought.
"What's all this?" said a big Member of Parliament, a minister
renowned for economy in matters financial and intellectual.
"What are you doing with this youngster? I never saw such an
irregularity in a Club in my life."
"If you saw it oftener you would think more about it," said Sir
Charles Sterling. "We found him on the steps. I think he was
asking for you, Glibton."
This sally turned a laugh against the minister.
"Well," said another, "he has come to the wrong quarter if he
wants money."
"I shouldn't wonder," said a third, "if he were one of the new
messengers at the Office of Popular Edifices. Glibton is
reducing their staff."
"If that's the case I think you have reached the minimum here,
Glibton," cried Sir Charles.
"Can't the country afford a livery?"
"Bother you all," replied the Secretary, who was secretly pleased
to be quizzed for his peculiarities--"tell us what this means.
Whose 'lark' is it?"
"No lark at all," said Sterling. "Here is a problem for you and
all of us to solve. This forlorn object is representative, and
stands here to-night preaching us a serious sermon. He was
deserted on the Club steps --left there, perhaps, as a piece of
clever irony; he might be son to some of us. What's your name,
my boy?"
Ginx's Baby managed to say "Dunno!"
"Ask him if he has any name?" said an Irish ex-member, with a
grave face.
Ginx's Baby to this question responded distinctly "No."
"No name," said the humorist; "then the author of his being must
be Wilkie Collins."
Everybody laughed at this indifferent pleasantry but our hero.
His bosom began to heave ominously.
"What's to be done with him?"
"Send him to the workhouse."
"Send him to the d----" (there may be brutality among the gods
and goddesses).
"Give him to the porter."
"No thank you, sir," said he, promptly.
The gentlemen were turning away, when Sir Charles stopped them.
"Look here!" he said, taking the boy's arm and baring it, "this
boy can hardly be called a human being. See what a thin arm he
has--how flaccid and colorless the flesh seems--what an old
face!--and I can scarcely feel any pulse. Good heavens, get him
some wine! A few hours will send him to the d---- sure enough. .
. . . What are we to do for him, Glibton? I say again, he is
only part of a great problem. There must be hundreds of
thousands growing up like this child; and what a generation to
contemplate in all its relations and effects!"
The gentlemen were dashed by his earnestness.
"Oh, you're exaggerating," said Glibton; "there can't be such
widespread misery. Why, if there were, the people would be
wrecking our houses."
"Ah!" replied the other, sadly, "will you wait to be convinced by
that sort of thing before you believe in their misery? I assure
you what I say is true. I could bring you a hundred clergymen to
testify to it to-morrow morning."
"God forbid!" said Glibton. "Good-night."
The right honorable gentleman extinguished the subject in his own
little brain with his big hat; but everywhere else the sparks are
still aglow, and he, with all like him, may wake up suddenly, as
frightened women in the night; to find themselves environed in
the red glare of a popular conflagration. Well for them then if
they are not in charge of the State machinery. What an hour will
that be for hurrying to and fro with water-pipes and buckets,
when proper forethought, diligence, and sacrifice would have made
the building fireproof.
III.--A thorough-paced Reformer--if not a Revolutionary.
By the kindness and influence of Sir Charles Sterling, Ginx's
Baby that night, and long after, found shelter in the Radical
Club. He gave rise to a discussion in the smoking-room next
evening that ought to be chronicled. Several members of the
committee supported his benefactor in urging that the child
should be adopted by the Club, as a pledge of their resolve to
make the questions of which he seemed to be the embodied emblem
subjects of legislative action. Others said that those questions
being, in their view, social and not political, were not proper
ones to give impulse to a party movement, and that the
entertainment in the Club of this foundling would be a gross
irregularity: they did not want samples of the material
respecting which they were theorizing. To some of the latter Sir
Charles had been insisting that, whether they kept the child or
not, they could not stifle the questions excited by his
"You may delay, but you cannot dissipate them. We are filling up
our sessions with party struggles, theoretic discussions,
squabbles about foreign politics, debates on political machinery,
while year by year the condition of the people is becoming more
invidious and full of peril. Social and political reform ought
to be linked; the people on whom you confer new political rights
cannot enjoy them without health and well-being."
"But all our legislation is directed to that!" exclaimed Mr.
Joshua Hale. "Reform, Free Trade, Free Corn--have these not
enhanced the wealth of the people?"
"Partially; yet there are classes unregenerated by their reviving
influences. Free trade cannot insure work, nor can free corn
provide food for every citizen."
"Nor any other legislation: let us be practical. I own there is
much to be done. I have often stated my 'platform.' We must
clip the enormous expenditure on soldiers and ships; reduce our
overweening army of diplomatic spies and busybodies; abstain from
meddling in everybody's quarrels; redeem from taxation the
workman's necessaries--a free breakfast-table; peremptorily
legislate against the custom of primogeniture; encourage the
distribution and transfer of land; and, under the aegis of the
ballot, protect from the tyranny of the landlord and employer
their tenants and workmen."
"Very good, perhaps, all of them," replied Sir Charles, "but some
not at the moment possible, and all together are not exhaustive.
Why do you not go to the bottom of social needs? You say nothing
about Health legislation--are you indifferent to the sanitary
condition of the people? You have not hinted at Education--Waste
"Oh! I am opposed to that altogether."
"I forgot, you are a manufacturer; yet the last man of whom I
should believe that selfishness had warped the judgment. You
have done and endured more than any living statesman for the
advantage of your fellow- citizens, so that I will not cast at
you the aspersion of class-blindness. Still, I can scarcely
think you have looked at this matter in the pure light of
patriotism, and not within the narrow scope of trade interests."
"Quite unjust. Our best economists reprehend the policy of
depleting our labor-market. Emigration is a timely remedy for
adversity and to be very sparingly used. Labor is our richest
"We may have too much of it. Take it as a fact that you now have
more than you can use, and the unemployed part is starving; what
will you do with them?"
"That is a mere temporary and casual depression, to which all
classes are liable."
"But," said Sir Charles, "which none can so ill bear. Nay--what
if it is permanent? You look to increased trade. Do you suppose
we are to retain our manufacturing pre-eminence when every
country, new and old, is competing with us? Can our trade, I ask
you honestly to consider, increase at the rate of our population?
Besides, for heaven's sake, look at the thing as a man. Grant
that we have a hundred thousand men out of work, and hundreds of
thousands more dependent on them--do you think it no small thing
that the vast mass should be left for one, two, three years
seething in sorrow and distress, while they are waiting for
trade! By the time that comes they may have gone beyond the hope
of rescue. Ah! if an elastic trade comes back to-morrow, you can
never make those people what they were; ought we not to have
forecast that they should not be what they are? But I contend
that depression has become chronic, the poverty more wide-spread
and persistent--how then shall we, who represent these classes
among the rest, face the prospect?"
Here interposed a gentleman high in office, a pure, keen, rigid
economist of the highest intellectual and political rank.
"My dear Sterling, pardon me if I say you are talking wildly.
Perhaps you don't see that you are verging on rank communism.
The working of economic laws can be as infallibly projected as a
solar eclipse. You can secure no class from periodic calamity,
and so regulate laws of supply and demand by guiding-wheels of
legislation and taxation as to save every man from penury. You
wish us to send away our bone and sinew because we have no
present employment for it, and next year, or the year after,
under a recovered trade you will be wringing your hands and
cursing the folly that prompted you to do it."
"I should be too glad of the opportunity," replied Sir Charles,
sturdily, "but in truth there is an incubus of excessive numbers
that no revival of trade will provide for, even if it is beyond
our extremest hopes, and I for one will not be guilty of the
inhumanity of keeping fellow-creatures in misery till we can find
a use for them. You have forgotten that there are other economic
laws besides those you glance at. Several millions of acres of
unoccupied land belonging in a sense to the people of this
country are to be kept untilled in defiance of the plainest
policy that nature and God have indicated to us, namely, that
labor should come in contact with land! For want of this
conjunction our colonies are to be checked, while at home
miserable millions are gaping for work and food."
"Oh! let them take themselves out. There are too many going
already. They will follow natural laws, and where labor is
required thither the stream will flow."
"Mere surface talk, my clever friend," replied the other, "the
men who are trooping out at their own expense are our most sober,
careful, and energetic workmen. Else they could not go. They go
because here so many indifferent ones are weighing down their
shoulders. And where do most of them go to? Not to strengthen
and develop our colonies, but the United States--a not always
friendly people, and just now your free-trader's bugbear!"
"Well, well," said the minister, "drop that question. It's
utterly impracticable at this time. We couldn't entertain the
demand for State-help for an instant. I tell you again you're a
Fourierite. You virtually propose to put your hand in the pocket
of the upper classes to pay all sorts of expenses for the lower."
"You may call me a communist if you please," replied Sir Charles
Sterling; "I do not shrink from shadows. Perhaps I am in favor
of something nearer to communism than our present form of
society. One thing I am clear about: no state of society is
healthy wherein every man does not own himself to be the guardian
of the interests of the community as well as his own--does not
see that he is bound, morally and as a matter of public policy,
to add to his neighbor's well-being as well as his own. Does not
society, by its protection and aggregation, make it possible for
the rich to grow rich, the genius and the ambitious man to pursue
their aims, the merchant to gather his vails, the noble to enjoy
his lands? For these privileges there is more or less to pay,
and it may be that the proper proportion which the capable
classes should be called upon to contribute to the common weal
has never been correctly adjusted. The first fruit of practical
Christianity was community of goods, and but for human
selfishness we might hope for an Eutopian era--when, while it
should be ruled that if a man would not work neither should he
eat, there should also be brought home to every man the care of
his poorer, or weaker, or less competent brother. I never expect
to see that. I do hope to see the men of greatest ability pay
more generously for the privileges they enjoy. The best policy
for them too. The better the condition of the general community
the better for themselves. You cannot alarm me with epithets.
But these views are happily not essential to the support of the
Emigration policy."
"O dear! O dear! mad as a March hare!" cried the minister, as he
stumped from the room.
"Sterling is a good fellow," said he to a colleague with whom he
walked down Pall Mall, "and a thorough-paced Liberal. Besides,
he carries great weight in the House. But he is an enthusiast,
and, therefore, not always quite practical."
By PRACTICAL the minister meant, not that which might well and to
advantage be done if good and able men would resolve to do it,
spite of all hindrances, but that which, upon a cunning review of
party balances and a judicious probing of public opinion, seemed
to be a policy fit for his party to pursue. The first, original
and masterly statesmen are needed to initiate and perform--the
other is simply the art of a genius who knows how most adroitly
to manipulate people and circumstances.
IV.--Very Broad Views.
Sir Charles Sterling, Mr. Joshua Hale, and others continued the
conversation interrupted by the minister's exit. What was to be
done with Ginx's Baby? In the great dissected map of society
what niches were cut out for him and all like him to fill? Most
of the politicians were for leaving that to himself to find out.
The term "law of supply and demand" was freely bandied between
them, as it is in many journals nowadays, with little object save
to shut up avenues of discussion by a high-sounding phrase.
Then of these "statesmen," most clung, if not to self-interest,
to personal crotchets. What is more darling to a man than the
child of his intellect or fancy? How the poor poetaster hugs his
tawdry verses as if they were the imperial ornaments of genius!
Just in the same way does the politician love the policies
himself hath devised, pressing them forward at all hazards, while
he is blind to the utility of others. This is the basis of that
aspect of selfishness which often mars in the approbation of a
country a really honest statesmanship--an egotistic tenacity of
one's own creature as the best, which yet is not the criminal
selfishness of ambition. Still that egotism is not seldom
disastrous to the people's interests. While these statesmen
nursed their own bantlings and held them up to national notice,
they were apt to avoid or too lightly regard the views of men as
able as themselves. For instance, Joshua Hale-- who is far above
these remarks generally--had put forth a scheme for the solution
of the St. Helena property question--very likely a good one,
albeit revolutionary, and nothing would convince him that any
other could succeed. He wished every man in St. Helena--a
turbulent adjunct of the British Empire--to be a landowner, and I
do think, neither desired nor hoped that any man in that island
should be happy until he was one. Yet there were other men ready
to offer simpler remedies, and to prove that if every man in St.
Helena became a landowner it would become a very hell upon earth,
and more unmanageable than it was before. If these gentlemen do
not sacrifice their pet fancies for the sake of a settlement,
what will become of St. Helena?
Just now they were discussing Ginx's Baby. One thought that
repeal of the Poor-Laws and a new system of relief would reach
his case; another saw the root of the Baby's sorrow in Trades'
Unions; a third propounded cooperative manufactures; a
fourth suggested that a vast source of income lay untouched in
the seas about the kingdom, which swarmed with porpoises, and
showed how certain parts of these animals were available for
food, others for leather, others for a delicious oil that would
be sweeter and more pleasant than butter; a fifth desired a law
to repress the tendency of Scotch peers to evict tenants and
convert arable lands into sheep-walks and deer-forests; a sixth
maintained that there were waste lands in the kingdom of capacity
to support hungry millions. In fact earth, heaven, and seas were
to be regenerated by Act of Parliament for the benefit of Ginx's
Baby and the people of England. Sir Charles listened
impatiently, and at last burst forth again.
He said: "When you consider it, what we are all trying to do
nowadays is--vulgarly-- to improve the breed; but we go to work
in a round-about way. At the outset we are met by the
depreciated state of part of the existing generation; and one
problem is to prevent these depreciated people from increasing,
or to get them to increase healthily. No one seems to have gone
directly to such a problem as that. The difficulties to be faced
are tremendous. Your dirtiest British youngster is hedged round
with principles of an inviolable liberty and rights of Habeas
Corpus. You let his father and mother, or any one who will save
you the trouble of looking after him, mould him in his years of
tenderness as they please. If they happen to leave him a walking
invalid, you take him into the poorhouse; if they bring him up a
thief, you whip him and keep him at high cost at Millbank or
Dartmoor; if his passions, never controlled, break out into
murder and rape, you may hang him, unless his crime has been so
atrocious as to attract the benevolent interest of the Home
Secretary; if he commit suicide, you hold a coroner's inquest,
which also costs money; and however he dies you give him a deal
coffin and bury him. Yet I may prove to you that this being,
whom you treat like a dog at a fair, never had a day's--no, nor
an hour's--contact with goodness, purity, truth, or even human
kindness; never had an opportunity of learning anything better.
What right have you then to hunt him like a wild beast, and kick
him and whip him, and fetter him and hang him by expensive
complicated machinery, when you have done nothing to teach him
any of the duties of a citizen?"
"Stop, stop, Sir Charles! you are too virulent. There are
endless means of improving your lad--charities without
"Yes, that will never reach him."
"Never mind, they may, you know. Industrial schools,
reformatories, asylums, hospitals, Peabody-buildings, poor-laws.
Everybody is working to improve the condition of the poor man.
Sanitary administration goes to his house and makes it
"Very," interjected Sir Charles Sterling, dryly.
"Factory laws protect and educate factory children----"
"They don't educate in one case out of ten. They don't feed
them, clothe them, give them amusement and cultivation, do they?"
"Certainly not--that would be ridiculous."
"Why, the question is whether that would be ridiculous!" replied
Sir Charles. "I do not say it can be done, but in order to
transform the next generation, what we should aim at is to
provide substitutes for bad homes, evil training, unhealthy air,
food and dulness, and terrible ignorance, in happier scenes,
better teaching, proper conditions of physical life, sane
amusements, and a higher cultivation. I dare say you would think
me a lunatic if I proposed that Government should establish
music-halls and gymnasia all over the country; but you, Mr.
Fissure, voted for the Baths and Washhouses."
"Who's to pay for all this?" asked Mr. Fissure, pertinently.
"The State, which means society, the whole of which is directly
interested. I tell you a million of children are crying to us to
set them free from the despotism of a crime and ignorance
protected by law."
"That is striking; but you are treading on delicate ground. The
liberty of the subject----"
"Exactly what I expected you to say. These words can be used in
defence of almost any injustice and tyranny. Such terms as
'political economy,' 'communism,' 'socialism,' are bandied about
in the same way. Yet propositions coming fairly within these
terms are often mentioned with approval by the very persons who
cast them at you. In a report of a recent Royal Commission I
find that one of the Commissioners is quite as revolutionary as I
am. He says it is right by law to secure that no child shall be
cruelly treated or mentally neglected, over-worked or
under-educated. Some people would call that communism, I fancy.
But I think him to be correct as a political economist in that
broad proposition. Why? Because a child's relation to the State
is wider, more permanent, and more important than his relation to
his parents. If he is in danger of being depreciated and damned
for good citizenship, the State must rescue him."
"A paternal and maternal government together!" cries Lord
Namby--"a government of nurses. You know I should like to stop
the production of children among the lower orders. Your
propositions are far in advance of my radicalism. The State must
sometimes interfere between parent and child; for instance, in
education or protection from cruelty. But, if I understand you,
you actually contemplate a general refining and elevation of the
working class by legislative means."
"Assuredly: I should aim to cultivate their morals, refine their
tastes, manners, habits. I wish to lift from them that
ever-depressing sense of hopelessness which keeps them in the
"So do most men; but you must do that by personal and private
influences, not by State enactments. How would you do it?"
"How? I think I could draw up a programme. For instance:
Expatriate a million to reduce the competition that keeps poor
devils on half-rations or sends them to the poorhouse; Take all
the sick, maimed, old, and incapable poor into workhouses managed
by humane men and not by ghouls; Forbid such people to marry and
propagate weakness; Legislate for compulsory improvements of
workmen's dwellings, and, if needful, lend the money to execute
it; Extend and enforce the health laws; Open free libraries and
places of rational amusement with an imperial bounty through the
country; Instead of spending thousands on dilettanti sycophants
at one end of the metropolis, distribute your art and amusement
to the kingdom at large; The rich have their museums, libraries,
and clubs, provide them for the poor; Establish temporary homes
for lying-in women; Multiply your baths and washhouses till there
is no excuse for a dirty person; Educate; Provide day schools for
every proper child, and industrial or reformatory schools for
every improper one; Open advanced High Schools for the best
pupils, and found Scholarships to the Universities; Erect other
schools for technical training; Offer to teach trades and
agriculture to all comers for nothing--you would soon neutralize
your bugbear of trades-unionism; Teach morals, teach science,
teach art, teach them to amuse themselves like men and not like
brutes. In a land so wealthy the programme is not impracticable,
though severe. As the end to be attained is the welfare of
future generations, no good reason could be urged why they should
not contribute towards the cost of it--a better debt to leave to
posterity than the incubus of an irrational war."
Will any sane political practitioner wonder to be told that at
the end of this harangue the smoking-room party broke up, and
that some, as they laughed good-humoredly over Sterling's
egregia, recalled the number of glasses of inspirited seltzer
swallowed by the orator? He was so far in advance of the most
radical reformer that there was no hope of overtaking him for an
era or two: so they determined to fancy they had left him behind.
V.--Party Tactics--and Political Obstructions to Social Reform.
In the Club our hero revelled awhile under the protection of Sir
Charles Sterling, and the petting of peers, Members of
Parliament, and loungers who swarm therein. Certain gentlemen of
Stock Exchange mannerism and dressiness gave the protege the
go-by, and even sneered at those who noticed him with kindness.
But then these are of the men with whom every question is checked
by money, and is balanced on the pivot of profit and loss. I
dare say some of them thought the worse of Judas only because he
had made so small a gain out of his celebrated transaction. To
foster Ginx's Baby in the Club, as a recognition of the important
questions surrounding him, though these questions involved
hundreds of thousands of other cases, was to them ridiculous. Of
far greater consequence was it in their eyes to settle a dispute
between two extravagant fools at Constantinople and Cairo, and
quicken the sluggishness of Turkish consols or Egyptian 9 per
cents. I do not cast stones at them; every man must look at a
thing with his own eyes.
But it was curious to note how the Baby's fortunes shifted in the
Club. There were times--when he was a pet chucked under chin by
the elder stagers, favored with a smile from a Cabinet Minister,
and now and then blessed with a nod from Mr. Joshua Hale. Then,
again, every one seemed to forget him, and he was for months left
unnoticed to the chance kindness of the menials until some case
similar to his own happening to evoke discussion in the press,
there would be a general inquiry for him. The porter, Mr.
Smirke, had succeeded, by means of a detective, in discovering
the boy's name, but his parents were then half-way to Canada.
The members of the Fogey Club opposite, hearing that so
interesting a foundling was being cherished by their opponents,
politely asked leave to examine him, and he occasionally visited
them. They treated him kindly and discussed his condition with
earnestness. The leaders of the party debated whether he might
not with advantage be taken out of their opponents' hands. Some
thought that a judicious use of him might win popularity; but
others objected that it would be perilous for them to mix
themselves up with so doleful an interest. In the result the
Fogies tipped young Ginx, but did not commit themselves for or
against him. Thus a long time elapsed, and our hero had grown
old enough to be a page. He had received food, clothing, and
goodwill, but no one had thought of giving him an education.
Sometimes he became obstreperous. He played tricks with the Club
cutlery, and diverted its silver to improper uses; he laid traps
for upsetting aged and infirm legislators; he tried the coolness
of the youngest and best-natured Members of Parliament by popping
up in strange places and exhibiting unseemly attitudes. At
length, by unanimous consent, he was decreed to be a nuisance,
and a few days would have revoked his license at the Club.
No sooner did the Fogies get wind of this than they manoeuvred to
get Ginx's Baby under their own management. They instructed
their "organs," as they called them, to pipe to popular feeling
on the disgraceful apathy of the Radicals in regard to the
foundling. They had him waylaid and treated to confectionery by
their emissaries; and once or twice succeeded in abducting him
and sending him down to the country with their party's
candidates, for exhibition at elections.
The Radicals resented this conduct extremely. Ginx's Baby was
brought back to the Club and restored to favor. The Government
papers were instructed to detail how much he was petted and
talked about by the party; to declare how needless was the
popular excitement on his behalf; and to prove that he must,
without any special legislation, be benefited by the
extraordinary organic changes then being made in the constitution
of the country.
Sir Charles Sterling resumed his interest in the boy. He had
been gallantly aiding his party in other questions. There was
the Timbuctoo question. A miserable desert chief had shut up a
wandering Englishman, not possessed of wit enough to keep his
head out of danger. There was a general impression that English
honor was at stake, and the previous Fogey Government had ordered
an expedition to cross the desert and punish the sheikh. You
would never believe what it cost if you had not seen the bill.
Ten millions sterling was as good as buried in the desert, when
one-tenth of it would have saved a hundred thousand people from
starvation at home, and one-hundredth part of it would have taken
the fetters off the hapless prisoner's feet.
There was the St. Helena question always brooding over
Parliament. St. Helena was a constituent part of the British
Empire. Every patriot agreed that the Empire without it would be
incomplete; and was so far right that its subtraction would have
left the Empire by so much less. Most of its inhabitants were
aboriginal--a mercurial race, full of fire, quick-witted, and
gifted with the exuberant eloquence of savages, but deficient in
dignity and self-control. Before any one else had been given
them by Providence to fight, they slaughtered and ravaged one
another. Our intrusive British ancestors stepped upon the
island, and, being strong men, mowed down the islanders like
wheat, and appropriated the lands their swords had cleared.
Still the aborigines held out in corners, and defied the
conquerors. The latter ground them down, confiscated the
property of their half-dozen chiefs, and distributed it among
themselves. By way of showing their imperial imperiousness, they
built over some ruins left by their devastations a great church,
in which they ordered all the islanders to worship. This was at
first abomination to the islanders, who fought like devils
whenever they could, and ended by accepting the religion of their
foes. But the conquerors, afterwards choosing to change their
own faith, resolved that the islanders should do so too.
Forthwith they confiscated the big church and burying-ground,
and, distributing part of the land and spoils among their most
prominent scamps, erected a new edifice of quite a different
character, in which the natives swore they could neither see nor
hear, and their own clerics warned them they would certainly be
damned. To make the complications more intricate, these clerics
owed allegiance to an ancient woman in a distant country, who had
all the meddlesomeness and petty jealousy of her sex, and was,
besides, much attached to some clever wooers of hers, wily
sinners who covered their aims under the semblance of
ultra-extreme passion for her. The prominent scamps died, to be
succeeded by their children, or other of the hated conquerors,
from generation to generation. The islanders went on increasing
and protesting. T hey starved upon the lands, and shot the
landlords when a few gave them the chance, for most lived away in
their own country, and left the property to be administered by
agents. The Home Government had again and again been obliged to
assist these people with soldiers, to provide an armed police, to
shoot down mobs, to catch a ringleader here or there and send him
to Fernando Po, or to deprive whole villages of ordinary civil
rights. Then the yam crop failed, and nearly half the people
left the island and crossed the seas, where they continued to
hate and to plot against those whose misfortune it had been to
get a legacy of the island from their fathers. It would be
wearisome to recount the absurdities on both sides: the stupidity
or criminal absence of tact from time to time shown by the Home
Government--the resolve never to be quiet exhibited by the
natives, under the prompting of their clerics. Upon
"--that common stage of novelty--"
there were ever springing up fresh difficulties. Secret clubs
were formed for murder and reprisal. A body called the "Yellows"
had bound themselves by private oaths to keep up the memory of
the religious victories of their predecessors, and to worry the
clerical party in every possible way. Their pleasure was to go
about insanely blowing rams'-horns, carrying flags and bearing
oranges in their hands. The islanders hated oranges, and at
every opportunity cracked the skulls of the orange-bearers with
brutal weapons peculiar to the island. These, in return, cracked
native skulls. The whole island was in a state of perpetual
commotion. Still, its general condition improved, its farms grew
prosperous, and a joint-stock company had built a mill for
converting cocoanut fibre into horse-cloths, which yielded large
profits. The memory of past events might well have been buried;
but the clerics, in the interest of the old woman, fanned the
embers, and the infamous bidding for popularity of parties at
home served to keep alive passions that would naturally have died
out. Besides, latterly folly had been too organized on both
sides to suffer oblivion. Everybody was tired of the squabbles
of St. Helena. At length there was a general movement in the
interests of peace, and to pacify the islanders Parliament was
asked to pull down the wings of the old church edifice, remove
some of the graves, and cut off a large piece of the graveyard.
Some were in favor also of dividing all the farms in the country
among the aborigines, but the difficulty was to know how at the
same time to satisfy the present occupiers. These schemes were
topics of high debate, upon them the fortunes of Government rose
and fell, and while they were agitated Ginx's Baby could have no
chance of a parliamentary hearing. Many other matters of
singular indifference had eaten up the legislative time; but at
last the increasing number of wretched infants throughout the
country began to alarm the people, and Sir Charles Sterling
thought the time had come to move on behalf of Ginx's Baby and
his fellows.
VI.--Amateur Debating in a High Legislative Body.
While Sir Charles was trying to get the Government to "give him a
night" to debate the Ginx's Baby case, and while associations
were being formed in the metropolis for disposing of him by
expatriation or otherwise, a busy peer without notice to anybody,
suddenly brought the subject before the House of Lords. As he
had never seen the Baby, and knew nothing or very little about
him, I need scarcely report the elaborate speech in which he
asked for aristocratic sympathy on his behalf. He proposed to
send him to the Antipodes at the expense of the nation.
The Minister for the Accidental Accompaniments of the Empire was
a clever man--keen, genial, subtle, two-edged, a gentlemanly and
not thorough disciple of Machiavel; able to lead parliamentary
forlorn hopes and plant flags on breaches, or to cover retreats
with brilliant skirmishing; deft, but never deep; much moved too
by the opinions of his permanent staff. These on the night in
question had plied him well with hackneyed objections; but to see
him get up and relieve himself of them--the air of originality,
the really original air he threw around them; the absurd light
which he turned full on the weaknesses of his noble friend's
propositions, was as beautiful to an indifferent critic as it as
saddening to the man who had at heart the sorrows of his kind.
If that minister lived long he would be forced to adopt and
advocate in as pretty a manner the policy he was dissecting.
Lord Munnibagge, a great authority in economic matters, said that
a weaker case had never been presented to Parliament. To send
away Ginx's Baby to a colony at imperial expense was at once to
rob the pockets of the rich and to decrease our labor-power.
There was no necessity for it. Ginx's Baby could not starve in a
country like this. He (Lord Munnibagge) had never heard of a
case of a baby starving. There was no such wide-spread distress
as was represented by the noble lord. There were occasional
periods of stagnation in trade, and no doubt in these periods the
poorer classes would suffer; but trade was elastic; and even if
it were granted that the present was a period when employment had
failed, the time was not far off when trade would recuperate.
(Cheers.) Ginx's Baby and all other babies would not then wish
to go away. People were always making exaggerated statements
about the condition of the poor. He (Lord Munnibagge) did not
credit them. He believed the country, though temporarily
depressed by financial collapses, to be in a most healthy state.
(Hear, hear.) It was absurd to say otherwise, when it was shown
by the Board of Trade returns that we were growing richer every
day. (Cheers.) Of course Ginx's Baby must be growing richer
with the rest. Was not that a complete answer to the noble
lord's plaintive outcries? (Cheers and laughter.) That the
population of a country was a great fraction of its wealth was an
elementary principle of political economy. He thought, from the
high rates of wages, that there were not too many but too few
laborers in the country. He should oppose the motion. (Cheers.)
Two or three noble lords repeated similar platitudes, guarding
themselves as carefully from any reference to facts, or to the
question whether high rates of wages might not be the
concomitants simply of high prices of necessaries, or to the yet
wider question whether colonial development might not have
something to do with progress at home. The noble lord who had
rushed unprepared into the arena was unequal to the forces
marshalled against him, and withdrew his motion. Thus the great
debate collapsed. The Lords were relieved that an awkward
question had so easily been shifted. The newspapers on the
ministerial side declared that this debate had proved the
futility of the Ginx's Baby Expatriation question. "So able an
authority as Lord Munnibagge had established that there was no
necessity for the interference of Government in the case of
Ginx's Baby or any other babies or persons. The lucid and
decisive statement of the Secretary for the Accidental
Accompaniments of the Empire had shown how impossible it was for
the Imperial Government to take part in a great scheme of
Expatriation; how impolitic to endeavor to affect the ordinary
laws of free movement to the Colonies." Surely after this the
Expatriation people hid their lights under a bushel! The
Government refused to find a night for Sir Charles Sterling, and
after the Lords' debate he did not see his way to force a motion
in the Lower House. Meanwhile Ginx's Baby once more decided a
turn in his own fate. Tired of the slow life of the Club, and
shivering amid the chill indifference of his patrons, he borrowed
without leave some clothes from an inmate's room, with a few
silver forks and spoons, and decamped. Whether the baronet and
the Club were bashful of public ridicule or glad to be rid of the
charge, I know not, but no attempt was made to recover him.
A full-formed Horse will, in any market, bring from twenty to as
high as two hundred Friedrichs d'or: such is his worth to the
world. A full-formed Man is not only worth nothing to the world,
but the world could afford him a round sum would he simply engage
to go and hang himself.--SARTOR RESARTUS.
The Last Chapter.
Our hero was nearly fifteen years old when he left the Club to
plunge into the world. He was not long in converting his spoils
into money, and a very short time in spending it. Then he had to
pit his wits against starvation, and some of his throws were
desperate. Wherever he went the world seemed terribly full. If
he answered an advertisement for an errand-boy, there were a
score kicking their heels at the rendezvous before him. Did he
try to learn a useful trade, thousands of adepts were not only
ready to underbid him, but to knock him on the head for an
interloper. Even the thieves, to whom he gravitated, were
jealous of his accession, because there were too many competitors
already in their department. Through his career of penury, of
honest and dishonest callings, of 'scapes and captures,
imprisonments and other punishments, a year's reading of
Metropolitan Police Reports would furnish the exact counterpart.
I don't know how many years after his flight from Pall Mall, one
dim midnight, I, returning from Richmond, lounged over Vauxhall
Bridge, listening to the low lapping of the current beneath the
arches--looking above to the stars and along the dark polished
surface that reflected a thousand lights in its
undulations,--feeling the awfulness of the dense, suppressed life
that was wrapt within the gloom and calm of the hour. I suddenly
saw a shadow, a human shadow, that at the sound of my footstep
quickly crossed my dreamy vision--quickly, noiselessly came and
went before my eyes until it stood up high and outlined against
the strangely-mingled haze. It looked like the ghost of a
slight-formed man, hatless and coatless, and for a moment I saw
at its upper extremity the dull flash as of a human face in the
gloom, before the shadow leaped out far into the night. Splash!
When my startled eyes looked down upon the glancing, waving
ebony, I thought I could trace a white coruscation of foam
spreading out into the darkness, instantly to dissipate and be
lost for ever. I did not then know what form it was that swilled
down below the glistening current. Had I known that it was
Ginx's Baby I should perhaps have thought "Society, which, in the
sacred names of Law and Charity, forbad the father to throw his
child over Vauxhall Bridge, at a time when he was alike
unconscious of life and death, has at last itself driven him over
the parapet into the greedy waters"----
Philosophers, Philanthropists, Politicians, Papists and
Protestants, Poor-Law Ministers and Parish Officers--while you
have been theorizing and discussing, debating, wrangling,
legislating and administering--Good God! gentlemen, between you
all, where has Ginx's Baby gone to?

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