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As to the readin', it's wuss than the writin', for I'm sure them papers is that full o' 'orrors as gives you the cold shudders; as I says to Brown of a Sunday arternoon, "I don't want to 'ear no more of them awful murders;" and as to many things in them papers, I do believe as they inwents them for the sake of them as likes for to 'car about sich beastly ways.
But I must say, as I likes to 'ave anythink as is interestin' read to me out loud, the same as Jane Seamore did used to, as were obligated for to lay flat on 'er back, through a crooked spine, on a deal board; and I did used to take my work, and set along with her many and many a time, and would again, though 'er mother and me 'ave 'ad words, and not spoke for ever so long, about Mrs. Grimshaw, as I will 'ave as Mr. Clarkson neglected shamefully, through bein' the parish doctor.
I'm sure the way as that poor gal, a-layin' on the flat o' her back, would read, was wonderful, and never know'd her spell a word and not try back one time in a 'undred.
The 'istories as she'd read was wonderful, all about them times when parties did used to go about all over England, with nothink on but a bit of blue paint, as must 'ave been chilly work, I should say, and nothink for to live upon but acorns and mistletoe, as I do not believe could 'ave kep' life and soul together.
I'm sure, who'd be a king and queen, I can't think, for the way as they did used to treat 'em was downright shameful, a-'ackin' on 'em to bits in battles, and a-shootin' on 'em in the eye with a harrow, let alone cuttin' off their 'eads, as I think it was Charles the Twelfth. Not as them kings was much account neither, as was a dusty lot with their wives and their beauties, and treatin' 'em werry bad, as one 'ad
six on 'em as he went and cut off one arter the other.
Certainly, I did pity them princes as was smothered quite cool by their own uncle in the Tower, as I've seen myself, as must 'ave been a black-'arted willin, as they do say was born with teeth the same as King John the Third, as was a gloomy tyrant, as lost all 'is things at the wash, as he took to 'art that deep as to die on it; as seemed a foolish act, tho' werry aggrawatin', the same as 'appened to poor Mrs. Symons, as 'ad the clothes-basket cut off the back of the cart, with a whole family's linen, as made her pay to the last farthin'; and never will I believe as them shirts was worth the money, as twelve and sixpence a piece is a long price, tho' calico 'ave been that frightful high as not a bit of decent print to be 'ad under tenpence and a shillin'; but as I was a-sayin', I don't believe a word about that ere
good Queen Bess, as did ought to 'ave been ashamed of 'erself a-cuttin' off parties 'eads, and should like to know 'ow she'd 'ave liked it 'erself, a old cat; and as for a-sayin' as Queen Wictoria is like her, why it's a downright insult.
But, law bless me, to think about poor King George bein' that mad and shet up, like any other poor deluded maniac, and obligated for to 'ave a Regent over 'im as was 'is own son, as certainly did not seem natural for to turn agin 'is own father; but what could you espect from a man as will turn on 'is own wife? As I've 'eard my dear mother often talk about Queen Caroline, as tried for to bust open the doors of Westminster Abbey, and would 'ave done it too, if it 'adn't been as the Lord Mayor 'eld 'er back; as it's a mercy as all London wasn't swimmin' with gore, thro' a-fightin' for 'er body to pass thro' Temple Bar, as one young man were shot dead, as was poor spite agin a dead body; as no doubt she 'ad 'er faults, but certainly that ere Regent he was a beauty, he was, for to find fault with a wife a'ready as were a Roman, so couldn't be lawful queen.
I'm sure in my opinion it would be as well not to 'ave so many of them 'istories wrote, a-rakin' up all them bygones as 'ad better be bygones, and aint pleasant for to see in print about your own relations, as, in course, a grandfather is, tho' distant; and well I remember mine, as was a kind-'arted old soul, and did use to bring me apples and parliament, but, I'm thankful for to say, never went mad, nor none of them wagaries, as may do wery well for royal families, but wouldn't suit me.
I must say as I didn't 'old with that there Lady Dawdley's Secret, as seems for to be puttin' wrong notions in young gals 'eads, as were a artful minx, and give out as she were dead and buried in the newspapers; and if 'er poor dear 'usband didn't take on dreadful, a-frettin' arter 'er as was all the while alive and kickin', and married to old Sir Dawdley, down somewhere Essex-ways. And that poor 'usband he come down all along with a friend of his'n, as were nephew to where she was married.
But, law bless you, she was that bold, as to go and brazen it out. And if she didn't take and shove 'er real 'usband down a well on the quiet, as wouldn't never 'ave been found out, only thro' the other party, as was the nephew, a-tracin' on 'im.
Nice games that Lady Dawdley was up to a-tryin' for to get rid of that there nephew; and if she didn't go and set fire to a 'ouse where he was a-stoppin', in the 'opes of burnin' 'im in 'is bed, the wicked 'ussey.
It all came 'ome to 'er, tho', for she were found out thro' 'er 'usband, as she'd shoved down the well a-turnin' up agin, as there weren't no water in it; as is nasty things, in my opinion, and 'ighly dangerous. As well I remembers Mrs. Matlock, as lived over Battersea Rise, with a well in the garden, as you did use to draw it up with a windlass; as 'er 'usband, a-comin' 'ome from receivin' of his pension, pitched 'ead foremost into, and was only found thro' 'is wooden leg a-floatin' up conspicuous, as it was a mercy as 'is 'ead just fitted into the bucket, and was drawed up easy, tho' a 'eavy man, but never seemed to shake it off to the day of 'is death.
So, in course, when 'er 'usband turned up out of the well agin, she was reg'lar done, and they took and shet 'er up in a mad'ouse, as, no doubt, she'd werry soon get out, on the same as that woman as murdered 'er three children through jealousy, and thro' bein' rich was made out mad, as they sent to Bedlam, as soon brought 'er to 'er senses. Ah, it was werry lovely, one of them stories as Jane were a-readin', about 'ow them two young Turkey lovers did used to meet on the sly, as were a 'onourable young man, tho' obligated for to climb over the wall for to see 'er, as 'ad a father as smelt a rat, and thinkin' as something was up, thro' a-'earin' of a guitar a-twinklin' in the moonlight, as was certainly werry foolish in 'im to play it, as would disturb anyone as is a light sleeper; the same as young Hopkins a-comin' 'ome night arter night late, with a accordion a-windin' down the street, and woke me out of my fust sleep reg'lar. And then for 'is mother to come in and check me over it, a-sayin' as I'd better sleep at the back of the house.
Well, that old Turk, as were a reg'lar old fury, up he gets, and steals on 'is tiptoes to the winder, and see them young parties a-talkin' tender, as was only natʼral.
If the wicked old wagabone didn't take and call 'is nasty black mermaids, and seized that young feller, and put 'im into a dungeon ou nothin' but bread and water for months. As to the poor gal, thro' bein' 'is only daughter, she was only shet up in a 'igh tower, with nobody but them beastly blacks a-flyin' all about 'er; as trimbled at 'er nod, but yet kep' 'er that strick, as she hadn't no chance for to give 'em the slip; and wouldn't never 'ave know'd what 'ad become of that young man, if 'adn't been as a young party, thro' bein' a gard'ner, was a Christ shun, and felt for them two, thro' a-knowin' as the young man was a Christshun too. And so he told 'er, as she was a-weepin' like a flowin' founting, as promised for to take a note, and
brought 'er the answer reg'lar, as was concealed in 'is turban, and fell off jist as that old Turk were a-passin', as ordered him the bastinardo pretty sharp, but couldn't get out on 'im nothink about the young Christshun knight, as was come ashore along with two others, as 'ad wowed to awenge their comrade, as in course we knows is a Christshun duty; and turned out to be that werry young man as 'ad been a-spoonin' the old Turk's daughter, and was shet up in that dungeon, and a-goin' to be put to death at sunrise, as is their ways, the bloody-minded Pagins.
But you see she got over the party as 'ad that young man under lock and key, thro' 'avin' knowed 'er from a babby, as was moved with compassion, and let 'er go in and see 'im that werry night.
They was nat'rally pleased for to meet, partikler as she was able for to undo 'is 'cavy chains, and give him something nice, as she'd been and took off her pa's table.
Well, they was a-talkin' all manner, when the time flowed by that quick, as the sun began to think about rising, and the old party as kep' the prisin told 'er as she must go; but, law bless you, sich a spree! If they didn't ketch 'old on 'im, and stuff a 'andkercher in 'is mouth, and tie him up to the place where the young man 'ad been tied; so off they goes for to join them other Christshuns as was a-waitin' under the walls.
When the old Turk come down for to see the young feller's 'ead chopped, and found 'im gone, and only Musstuffy, as they called the other old party, in 'is place, the temper as he showed, there wasn't never anythink like it in this world: for if he didn't take and order every one to put every one else to death.
"Well," I says to Jane, "they would be fools to obey him."
"Oh," she says, "they durstn't for to disobey."
says, "Well, of course they did ought to know their own bussyness best, but why ever they didn't all kill 'im I can't make out, as was only one after all."
Jest as there was a-goin' to be a reg'lar massycree, in come them young Christshuns, as 'ad been seized a-tryin' to escape, along with that old Turk's daughter.
The old chap he was pleased. Didn't he crow. But, law, it didn't last long, for 'is daughter she come out on a wall, with a flamin' torch in 'er 'and, and says, "'Old," addressin' of 'er pa, as no doubt she'd have called something else, if it 'adn't been as he were 'er father, for them Turks is werry dutiful to parents.
The old gent was werry much took aback, and called 'er all manner of nice names, but they didn't go down with 'er.
She says, "Release them captif's 'nights."
Says the old gent, "By the beard of the profit, never!" He says, "They dies."
She says, "Then if they does, look out."
"For why?" says the Turk.
"Why," says she," beneath this castle walls is kep' seventy thousand tons of gunpowder, as one spark would blow us all to atoms."
Says 'er pa, "Come down, miss."
Says she, "Never!"
Says he, "Seize the torch."
Says she, "Advance one step, and you all explodes."
So in course the old Turk was reg'lar done, and jest then there was shouts 'eard, as was more Christshuns as 'ad landed, and come to kill them Turks, and would 'ave done it too, only for the sake of that young gal, as that other Christshun loved, and was willin' to be a Christshun too, and not sorry, I should say, for to leave the old gent, as 'ad a 'asty temper, with a nasty 'abit of orderin' anyone to hinstant death, which, though it was over in a minit, couldn't put anyone's head back on their shoulders.
It was werry fine to 'ear about 'er bein' christened, with the king and queen a-standin' for 'er, as was, no doubt, werry proper; but I must say as I don't 'old with anyone a-changin', not for to get married; the same as young Peters, as turned Baptist for to marry 'is master's widder, as was a soap-biler, and left a fine busness. Yet I don't believe as that young feller ever were a true Baptist in 'is 'art, or he never would 'ave run away with the publican's wife, after robbin' the till, and is a-livin' quite grand somewheres abroad now.
And all as I've got to say, Mr. Scratchley, is jest this, and no more, if this 'ere periodical as is comin' out is only filled with nice tales, as isn't too affectin', but will teach parties as wice is 'ateful and wirtue 'eavenly, and be at the same time amusin' as well as instructin', as, in my opinion, did ought to be, and such as I should like for to see any gal or boy of mine a-readin' at their leisures, why, it will be a real blessin' to mothers, as the sayin' is; and a BROAD-WAY as will not lead to distraction, but peace and quietness, as is what I likes to see in a decent family, and not a lot of ramtypole rubbish as 'as been the ruins of thousands, and sich as I'd pretty soon put behind the fire, or preaps the butter-shop, or might come in 'andy for a trunk-maker.