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made, is an absurdity that will not stand the test of a moments’ free thought. And when we think of the length to which it is carried in the tracts and treatises of our “religious” literature, and in the weekly sermonising of pulpit orators, we can only wonder and grieve that men could go so far on the road of folly, and have consented so thoroughly to abandon reason at the bidding of the priest. But although unteuable in the face of reason, this doctrine has laid firm hold on the superstition and unreason which men have been led into in the name of religion, and accept in the place and stead thereof. Because the majority of men are not reasoners it still maintains its place among orthodox" religious truths."
In order to understand how it is this doctrine has held its own so long, we must bear in mind that it is a very common mistake amongst men to confound opinions and facts, the theories of speculative thinkers with the verities of Nature. . A Ptolemy declares that the sun moves round the earth, and for many hundred years the rest of men accept the statement as one of the facts of the Universe. A Malthus declares that the human race is too prolific, straightway it is declared that poor men should not marry.
A Chalmers propounds the doctrine that the robbery of the many by the sew is necessary to the well-being of society, and forthwith it is believed that a landed aristocracy is a dispensation of Providence. All the sciences bear witness in their histories to this same human weakness. In every department of human thought and inquiry we find proof of the same thing. Within the range of the physical sciences we find men for centuries striving to fit the facts to the theories, rather than seeking to find the true theory which fitted the facts. When any one discovered a fact which seemed to set the theory at naught, " philosophers " and "wise men” gathered round to debate upon the new discovery; and if, after all their endeavours, it obstinately refused to fit, the conclusion they came to was, that it was so much the worse for the fact " the theory couldn't be wrong." And so, if in its results it were not so sad a record, the history of past humanity would be ludicrous in the extreme. As it is, devils may laugh, but the angels weep; the evil-minded may find much to ridicule, but the good man can only be affected unto tears.
In every department of human thought this has been but too true; but nowhere has this principle obtained the same prevalence, kept the same firm hold, or existed so long, as in the realm of theology. Theories have ruled there unchecked by reasoning of any sort. Not only did they not fit the facts, but were completely opposed to them. Men are even now in the habit of repeating, Sunday after Sunday, from pulpits and in churches and chapels, things which, in the hearts of them, they disbelieve, which, as reasonable beings, they are compelled to disavow. For instance, we have, in the character of the theological God, one clear proof, among the many which might be cited, of how readily men allow the bold lie of Priestcraft to override their reason, and set at naught their better judgment; for there are but few among men who really, in the hearts of them, believe God to be what theology teaches He is. In these views, to which we have alluded as taught by priests, and accepted by men, regarding the Bible, we have, also, another case in point. This theory, that the Bible is of God, and that in it we have His written Word, is assumed to be a fact, in spite of everything which tells against it; and whatever evidence is discovered in opposition to the theory is denounced as false; for the cry is, the theory cannot be false.
In the theology of the Reformation, then, we find that which gave firm footholds to Priestcraft, in spite of all that was done to overthrow the spiritual despotism of the elder time. We have sought, on this occasion, to indicate only one, but that the most important, of these. With his foot planted on the Bible, the priest is still strong amongst us, and, as an authorized expounder of the Word and Will of God, claims our submissive reverence for his teaching and his office. But, more than that, he uses the Bible as his armoury,
from whence to strengthen his other theological positions ; positions rendered strong, in the first instance, by having formed part of the Reformation Creed. At some of these, we have still to look; and we draw our readers' attention the more closely to this subject, because it is the duty of the Religious Reformer, in these days, to shew, as it is well for all to learn, that Protestantism is not religious perfection; and that Luther, and the rest-great and good men as some of them were, however far many of their followers have diverged from their model—did not exhaust the religious possibilities of humanity, and but imperfectly begun a work which has yet to be carried on towards perfection.
JAS. L. GOODING.
OUT OF THE CLOUD;
A TALE; BY P. W. P.
CHAPTER XX V. LONDON INTERIORS :-THE TAP OF TIIE THREE JOLLY BUTCHERS.' "WELL, uncle, now that we have visited the Galleries, Museums, Public Buildings, Theatres, and so many other places, that I cannot even run over their names, I hope that you will never find it in your heart to write as you did before, that we let you go back to the country before you bad seen half the London sights.' I believe that you, and your friend, Mr. Lester, have seen all that is to be seen, and I'm sure, if you had not been up, I should never bave seen half so much."
This was said in a half-playful tone by a very noble-looking youth, of about eighteen, to Barrington, who, as he now stood, was a grave-looking senior, with all the marks, in dress, bearing, and person, of a well-feathered gentleman-farmer, but who did not seem inclined to acknowledge the truth of his companion's remarks. For some time he stood looking, now across the Park at the Palace, then his gaze glanced away to the towers of the old Abbey, and, anon, he turned round to take another look at the Wellington Monument. He preserved an uneasy silence, which the youth could not avoid perceiving, so he at once stated his conviction that his uncle was still unsatisfied, and asked, Was there any thing he knew of that he would like to visit? Thus appealed to, he turned his kindly face upon the youth, and said,
Charles, I confess that, with my friend, Lester, I have bored you a great deal, and I feel very much indebted for the kind manner in which you have endeavoured to gratify our whim for seeing everything worth seeing in
Modern Babylon,' as Lester persists in calling it; but, my boy, you have not shewn ine what I most want to see. All that you identify with the lions of London you have shewn, but I want to see the interiors of the dens in which the many live, and the places in which they find amusement. Let us visit the homes and haunts of the lowest classes, and I shall be satisfied.”
Charles now looked astonished, but his uncle continued, "The fact is this, that last autumn we had a sort of missionary agent in our county, who related many terrible stories of low life, as it is to be seen in the back streets and alleys,' which I believed to be untrue. And yet he had such an air of truthfulness about him, he spoke so earnestly, and was so ready to answer all my questions, that, although several times I was about to denounce him as an impostor, the words died away upon my lips, and I resolved that the next time I visited town I would go and see for myself if there were such places, and persons, and scenes, as he represented. Now, Charles, that is what I want to do, and Lester wishes to accompany me. I have heard a great deal for and against the man's honesty. One of our members declared that there is no truth in the stories, whereas the bishop fears, as he said, 'that the account is but too sadly true,' and I should like to judge for myself.”
Charles looked the very picture of despair, and it was quite certain that he was incapable of doing what was desired. He could not guide his uncle through the dens, neither was he acquainted with any one who could. He knew every place of fashionable resort in the metropolis, knew every street and
square of any note ; but the lower world of London was as little known to him as the tops of the Andes, or the forests of Brazil. The thought had occasionally occurred to his mind, that the long rows of small houses were inhabited, that the courts and alleys were populated, and that their occupants must have some places of recreation which, in various particulars, must differ widely from those with which he was familiar, still the thought of exploring them had never dawned upon his mind; but now that his uncle had intimated his desire to visit them, he felt a considerable degree of shame at his ignoran
ance. For a time he hesitated, but, seeing a Police Serjeant approach, he seemed at once to bave obtained a clear perception of the course to be pursued. Leaving Barrington and Lester, and stepping up to the officer, he, in a few words, conveyed the idea of what he stood in need of. “Uncle, and friend, from the country, desire to visit the dens and hells of London--a guide required, who, for a consideration, would undertake to shew them all.' These words were distinctly heard by Barrington, who added, “ Yes, Charles, and mind that we don't care so much about the price, so long as we can get to see the placés.
A better man than the Sergeant could not have been selected to advise upon this delicate point, for, as it happened, he had a brother named Belter, who had been many years " in the force," one who, as he said, was “fly to every move,” who could "patter all the slang," who knew the "queerest kens, and who would take any gentleman into, and bring him out of, the "gammiest cribs in London," without a hair of his head being injured. Arrangements were made for this so-much-to-be-desired individual presenting himself at their residence in Gower Street sometime during the evening. At eight he was announced, and Barrington, with Lester, was soon plunged deep into the mysteries of London life, as known to a retired police officer. This man, in various ways, was a most extraordinary looking person.
In dress he reminded you of the soldier who has just quitted the service, and mounted a suit of second-hand, fresh from Monmouth Street; his clothes were tolerably good, but evidently they were not made for him, and none of the garments harmonised with the others, or with the gait and manner of the wearer.
He looked more like a soldier badly made up in disguise than anya thing else, and the wonder was, however he had mixed so freely, as he had done, in the lowest company; without being suspected. But a little experience served to show that when in the presence of those he wished to deceive,
he could cast off all bis stiffness, and could play any part with the most perfect ease and finish. His eyes were small, gray, and restless; he was ever looking at you, and yet not intently; he seemed to see everything, and yet it was only by means of side glances that he immediately mastered the details of every place he entered. But, looking him full in the face, it was impossible to avoid the conclusion that he was either a thief-catcher or a thief. There was a low cunning about that face which could not be dwelt
without pain, and when it was lit up with smiles, as he told of the adroit means he had adopted, in order to attain his ends in the capture of some one against whom he held a warrant, it was perfectly impossible to hear and see without feeling a sense of loathing. Still he was the man of whom good use could be made, and before the conference ended, for a consideration, he was engaged to pilot the two through all the “ cribs” and “kens” which abound in the metropolis.
Just as he was about to leave, Belter asked Barrington what clothes he intended to wear. This question remained unanswered, and, perceiving that he was not exactly understood, he observed, “There is just two ways of goin' to see them places; you can go just as you is now, dressed
like gentlemen, but then, in that case, you may as well stop at home, for it's certain you won't see nothin'. Directly we goes in the chaps will say, 'Here's two swells and a bobby!' they'll be down on us like one o'clock, and there's nothin' you'll see but just the crib itself, and that won't be worth the trouble. The other way is to go in other toggery, so that they'll not know we is any more than they. If they don't suspect what we are, then we shall see all there is to be seen; and now I shall leave it to you, gentlemen, to say in which way we is to go.'
Barrington, and Lester especially, was startled at this, for, as the latter afterwards remarked, in the whole course of his life he was never disguised, except at Christmas, or other mumming times; still, however, he saw the propriety of adopting the latter course, for then only could he see life as it is really lived by the under ten thousand. Here, however, the dilemma arose, Where could the garments for a full disguise be obtained ? But the difficulty was soon swept away, for the guide could supply all that would be required. He had furnished many “gents” who went upon the same mission, and could fit them out for all the places they would have to visit, “except,” said he, in an undertone, eyeing closely the capon-lined form of Barrington, “that we shall have to slit the backs of some of the waistcoats to make them serve for the stouter gentleman.” It was arranged that on the following evening the first visit should be paid, which, however, would necessarily be brief, because of other engagements.
That visit was to be to the tap of the "Three Jolly Butchers,” where, as the guide declared, " there would be nothin' perticuler, except seein' what a tap was; and it would be a very easy way for gentlemen to begin, as know nothin' of how the workies does it."
After threading their way through several streets lying near the Strand, they stood before the “Three Jolly Butchers," and it was at once observed that, as the guide had said, there was nothing remarkable in the external appearance of the house. He declared that there were hundreds of houses in which the same might be seen as within this, and his only reasons for selecting it were that he had frequently been there, and that it was certain a company would be assembled. The door was soon pushed back, and the three made their way to the end of a long gloomy passage, which was filled with odours not pleasant to those who were at all familiar with “real” tobacco and “mild havannahs.” At length they entered the tap-room, took their seats in a corner, and the guide, with the voice and in the tone of a navigator, ordered “a pot o' stout, and some ginger in it.”
It required the flight of some moments before the visitors could thoroughly survey the dingy apartment. There was a dull baze, half compounded of smoke, half of fog; for even had smoking been prohibited, it was evident there would still have been a haze. It was natural to the apartment, and might perhaps have arisen from the fact, that the room having seen better days was ashamed of being seen. It was long-about thirty-eight feet—but not wide in proportion, being not more than twenty feet across.Its height did not exceed twelve feet, and there were two gas-burners dependent from the cross-beams. The ceiling was well coated with a black crust, which indicated that it had not been whitewashed for many years past. Barrington and Lester gave it as their opinion that it never had been, but Belter directed their attention to a part where some eager scribe had written " Hookey Valker," with the end of a stick. This bad broken through the black crust, and revealed the dingy white beneath ; which, however, was rapidly being buried again beneath the prevailing blackness. Whether the floor had ever been scrubbed since it was laid down it was impossible to discover; if it had it must have been in the days of Walters, the first of the three who had made their fortunes in the place. But, although unacenstomed to soap and water it was roughly swept and treated with a coat of sawdust.
Lester looked anxiously around in order to complete a mental inventory of the furniture and decorations. Was not this, he asked of himself, the room in which many scores of human beings assembled to take their pleasure ? and does not pleasure within doors necessarily involve the idea of ornamentation and comfort ?--what comfort, what pleasure could be had here?
Belter, who seemed to understand what was passing in Lester's mind, observed that
“The people are lively enough who come here. They all seems to enjoy theirselves. And for the matter o’ that I have had some fine fun here. You know their aint no theives or gals allowed in the place; they are all working chaps, and sometimes they make up a regular fine party, and when the drink is goin' they don't see the dingy look of the place. I believe if the landlord was to clean it out many of bis old customers would clean out with it."
Lester looked incredulous, and was astonished when Belter informed him that, to his knowledge, three men had made their fortunes out of that room, for, as he imagined, they should have done something to it in order to testify their gratitude. The reader will smile at his simplicity, knowing that the rule of the world is to spend money over that which is doubtful, and to take no heed of that which is certain. There is a neat parlour in the “ Three Jolly Butchers," over the decoration and comfort of which more is spent every year, than in any twenty years is spent over the tap room, and that although not above one-twentieth of the receipts come out of the said parlour. The reason of this anomaly will eventually appear.
Everything in the tap was heavy and substantial. Belter declared that “the chaps as come liere don't care for showy things, and won't be particular about using 'em gingerly.” The benches were all fastened to the floor, and the heavy poker was chained to the grate, " to prevent their being used in a shindy,
" There was nothing loose in the room save a large wooden coal