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    The Tattlesnivel Bleater

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    Chapter 4
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    The pen is taken in hand on the present occasion, by a private
    individual (not wholly unaccustomed to literary composition), for
    the exposure of a conspiracy of a most frightful nature; a
    conspiracy which, like the deadly Upas-tree of Java, on which the
    individual produced a poem in his earlier youth (not wholly devoid
    of length), which was so flatteringly received (in circles not
    wholly unaccustomed to form critical opinions), that he was
    recommended to publish it, and would certainly have carried out the
    suggestion, but for private considerations (not wholly unconnected
    with expense).

    The individual who undertakes the exposure of the gigantic
    conspiracy now to be laid bare in all its hideous deformity, is an
    inhabitant of the town of Tattlesnivel--a lowly inhabitant, it may
    be, but one who, as an Englishman and a man, will ne'er abase his
    eye before the gaudy and the mocking throng.

    Tattlesnivel stoops to demand no championship from her sons. On an
    occasion in History, our bluff British monarch, our Eighth Royal
    Harry, almost went there. And long ere the periodical in which this
    exposure will appear, had sprung into being, Tattlesnivel had
    unfurled that standard which yet waves upon her battlements. The
    standard alluded to, is THE TATTLESNIVEL BLEATER, containing the
    latest intelligence, and state of markets, down to the hour of going
    to press, and presenting a favourable local medium for advertisers,
    on a graduated scale of charges, considerably diminishing in
    proportion to the guaranteed number of insertions.

    It were bootless to expatiate on the host of talent engaged in
    formidable phalanx to do fealty to the Bleater. Suffice it to
    select, for present purposes, one of the most gifted and (but for
    the wide and deep ramifications of an un-English conspiracy) most
    rising, of the men who are bold Albion's pride. It were needless,
    after this preamble, to point the finger more directly at the LONDON
    CORRESPONDENT OF THE TATTLESNIVEL BLEATER.

    On the weekly letters of that Correspondent, on the flexibility of
    their English, on the boldness of their grammar, on the originality
    of their quotations (never to be found as they are printed, in any
    book existing), on the priority of their information, on their
    intimate acquaintance with the secret thoughts and unexecuted
    intentions of men, it would ill become the humble Tattlesnivellian
    who traces these words, to dwell. They are graven in the memory;
    they are on the Bleater's file. Let them be referred to.

    But from the infamous, the dark, the subtle conspiracy which spreads
    its baleful roots throughout the land, and of which the Bleater's
    London Correspondent is the one sole subject, it is the purpose of
    the lowly Tattlesnivellian who undertakes this revelation, to tear
    the veil. Nor will he shrink from his self-imposed labour,
    Herculean though it be.

    The conspiracy begins in the very Palace of the Sovereign Lady of
    our Ocean Isle. Leal and loyal as it is the proud vaunt of the
    Bleater's readers, one and all, to be, the inhabitant who pens this
    exposure does not personally impeach, either her Majesty the queen,
    or the illustrious Prince Consort. But, some silken-clad smoothers,
    some purple parasites, some fawners in frippery, some greedy and
    begartered ones in gorgeous garments, he does impeach--ay, and
    wrathfully! Is it asked on what grounds? They shall be stated.

    The Bleater's London Correspondent, in the prosecution of his
    important inquiries, goes down to Windsor, sends in his card, has a
    confidential interview with her Majesty and the illustrious Prince
    Consort. For a time, the restraints of Royalty are thrown aside in
    the cheerful conversation of the Bleater's London Correspondent, in
    his fund of information, in his flow of anecdote, in the atmosphere
    of his genius; her Majesty brightens, the illustrious Prince Consort
    thaws, the cares of State and the conflicts of Party are forgotten,
    lunch is proposed. Over that unassuming and domestic table, her
    Majesty communicates to the Bleater's London Correspondent that it
    is her intention to send his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to
    inspect the top of the Great Pyramid--thinking it likely to improve
    his acquaintance with the views of the people. Her Majesty further
    communicates that she has made up her royal mind (and that the
    Prince Consort has made up his illustrious mind) to the bestowal of
    the vacant Garter, let us say on Mr. Roebuck. The younger Royal
    children having been introduced at the request of the Bleater's
    London Correspondent, and having been by him closely observed to
    present the usual external indications of good health, the happy
    knot is severed, with a sigh the Royal bow is once more strung to
    its full tension, the Bleater's London Correspondent returns to
    London, writes his letter, and tells the Tattlesnivel Bleater what
    he knows. All Tattlesnivel reads it, and knows that he knows it.
    But, DOES his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales ultimately go to
    the top of the Great Pyramid? DOES Mr. Roebuck ultimately get the
    Garter? No. Are the younger Royal children even ultimately found
    to be well? On the contrary, they have--and on that very day had--
    the measles. Why is this? BECAUSE THE CONSPIRATORS AGAINST THE
    BLEATER'S LONDON CORRESPONDENT HAVE STEPPED IN WITH THEIR DARK
    MACHINATIONS. Because her Majesty and the Prince Consort are
    artfully induced to change their minds, from north to south, from
    east to west, immediately after it is known to the conspirators that
    they have put themselves in communication with the Bleater's London
    Correspondent. It is now indignantly demanded, by whom are they so
    tampered with? It is now indignantly demanded, who took the
    responsibility of concealing the indisposition of those Royal
    children from their Royal and illustrious parents, and of bringing
    them down from their beds, disguised, expressly to confound the
    London Correspondent of the Tattlesnivel Bleater? Who are those
    persons, it is again asked? Let not rank and favour protect them.
    Let the traitors be exhibited in the face of day!

    Lord John Russell is in this conspiracy. Tell us not that his
    Lordship is a man of too much spirit and honour. Denunciation is
    hurled against him. The proof? The proof is here.

    The Time is panting for an answer to the question, Will Lord John
    Russell consent to take office under Lord Palmerston? Good. The
    London Correspondent of the Tattlesnivel Bleater is in the act of
    writing his weekly letter, finds himself rather at a loss to settle
    this question finally, leaves off, puts his hat on, goes down to the
    lobby of the House of Commons, sends in for Lord John Russell, and
    has him out. He draws his arm through his Lordship's, takes him
    aside, and says, "John, will you ever accept office under
    Palmerston?" His Lordship replies, "I will not." The Bleater's
    London Correspondent retorts, with the caution such a man is bound
    to use, "John, think again; say nothing to me rashly; is there any
    temper here?" His Lordship replies, calmly, "None whatever." After
    giving him time for reflection, the Bleater's London Correspondent
    says, "Once more, John, let me put a question to you. Will you ever
    accept office under Palmerston?" His Lordship answers (note the
    exact expressions), "Nothing shall induce me, ever to accept a seat
    in a Cabinet of which Palmerston is the Chief." They part, the
    London Correspondent of the Tattlesnivel Bleater finishes his
    letter, and--always being withheld by motives of delicacy, from
    plainly divulging his means of getting accurate information on every
    subject, at first hand--puts in it, this passage: "Lord John
    Russell is spoken of, by blunderers, for Foreign Affairs; but I have
    the best reasons for assuring your readers, that" (giving prominence
    to the exact expressions, it will be observed) "'NOTHING WILL EVER
    INDUCE HIM, TO ACCEPT A SEAT IN A CABINET OF WHICH PALMERSTON IS THE
    CHIEF.' On this you may implicitly rely." What happens? On the
    very day of the publication of that number of the Bleater--the
    malignity of the conspirators being even manifested in the selection
    of the day--Lord John Russell takes the Foreign Office! Comment
    were superfluous.

    The people of Tattlesnivel will be told, have been told, that Lord
    John Russell is a man of his word. He may be, on some occasions;
    but, when overshadowed by this dark and enormous growth of
    conspiracy, Tattlesnivel knows him to be otherwise. "I happen to be
    certain, deriving my information from a source which cannot be
    doubted to be authentic," wrote the London Correspondent of the
    Bleater, within the last year, "that Lord John Russell bitterly
    regrets having made that explicit speech of last Monday." These are
    not roundabout phrases; these are plain words. What does Lord John
    Russell (apparently by accident), within eight-and-forty hours after
    their diffusion over the civilised globe? Rises in his place in
    Parliament, and unblushingly declares that if the occasion could
    arise five hundred times, for his making that very speech, he would
    make it five hundred times! Is there no conspiracy here? And is
    this combination against one who would be always right if he were
    not proved always wrong, to be endured in a country that boasts of
    its freedom and its fairness?

    But, the Tattlesnivellian who now raises his voice against
    intolerable oppression, may be told that, after all, this is a
    political conspiracy. He may be told, forsooth, that Mr. Disraeli's
    being in it, that Lord Derby's being in it, that Mr. Bright's being
    in it, that every Home, Foreign, and Colonial Secretary's being in
    it, that every ministry's and every opposition's being in it, are
    but proofs that men will do in politics what they would do in
    nothing else. Is this the plea? If so, the rejoinder is, that the
    mighty conspiracy includes the whole circle of Artists of all kinds,
    and comprehends all degrees of men, down to the worst criminal and
    the hangman who ends his career. For, all these are intimately
    known to the London Correspondent of the Tattlesnivel Bleater, and
    all these deceive him.

    Sir, put it to the proof. There is the Bleater on the file--
    documentary evidence. Weeks, months, before the Exhibition of the
    Royal Academy, the Bleater's London Correspondent knows the subjects
    of all the leading pictures, knows what the painters first meant to
    do, knows what they afterwards substituted for what they first meant
    to do, knows what they ought to do and won't do, knows what they
    ought not to do and will do, knows to a letter from whom they have
    commissions, knows to a shilling how much they are to be paid. Now,
    no sooner is each studio clear of the remarkable man to whom each
    studio-occupant has revealed himself as he does not reveal himself
    to his nearest and dearest bosom friend, than conspiracy and fraud
    begin. Alfred the Great becomes the Fairy Queen; Moses viewing the
    Promised Land, turns out to be Moses going to the Fair; Portrait of
    His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, is transformed, as if by
    irreverent enchantment of the dissenting interest, into A Favourite
    Terrier, or Cattle Grazing; and the most extraordinary work of art
    in the list described by the Bleater, is coolly sponged out
    altogether, and asserted never to have had existence at all, even in
    the most shadow thoughts of its executant! This is vile enough, but
    this is not all. Picture-buyers then come forth from their secret
    positions, and creep into their places in the assassin-multitude of
    conspirators. Mr. Baring, after expressly telling the Bleater's
    London Correspondent that he had bought No. 39 for one thousand
    guineas, gives it up to somebody unknown for a couple of hundred
    pounds; the Marquis of Lansdowne pretends to have no knowledge
    whatever of the commissions to which the London Correspondent of the
    Bleater swore him, but allows a Railway Contractor to cut him out
    for half the money. Similar examples might be multiplied. Shame,
    shame, on these men! Is this England?

    Sir, look again at Literature. The Bleater's London Correspondent
    is not merely acquainted with all the eminent writers, but is in
    possession of the secrets of their souls. He is versed in their
    hidden meanings and references, sees their manuscripts before
    publication, and knows the subjects and titles of their books when
    they are not begun. How dare those writers turn upon the eminent
    man and depart from every intention they have confided to him? How
    do they justify themselves in entirely altering their manuscripts,
    changing their titles, and abandoning their subjects? Will they
    deny, in the face of Tattlesnivel, that they do so? If they have
    such hardihood, let the file of the Bleater strike them dumb. By
    their fruits they shall be known. Let their works be compared with
    the anticipatory letters of the Bleater's London Correspondent, and
    their falsehood and deceit will become manifest as the sun; it will
    be seen that they do nothing which they stand pledged to the
    Bleater's London Correspondent to do; it will be seen that they are
    among the blackest parties in this black and base conspiracy. This
    will become apparent, sir, not only as to their public proceedings
    but as to their private affairs. The outraged Tattlesnivellian who
    now drags this infamous combination into the face of day, charges
    those literary persons with making away with their property,
    imposing on the Income Tax Commissioners, keeping false books, and
    entering into sham contracts. He accuses them on the unimpeachable
    faith of the London Correspondent of the Tattlesnivel Bleater. With
    whose evidence they will find it impossible to reconcile their own
    account of any transaction of their lives.

    The national character is degenerating under the influence of the
    ramifications of this tremendous conspiracy. Forgery is committed,
    constantly. A person of note--any sort of person of note--dies.
    The Bleater's London Correspondent knows what his circumstances are,
    what his savings are (if any), who his creditors are, all about his
    children and relations, and (in general, before his body is cold)
    describes his will. Is that will ever proved? Never! Some other
    will is substituted; the real instrument, destroyed. And this (as
    has been before observed), is England.

    Who are the workmen and artificers, enrolled upon the books of this
    treacherous league? From what funds are they paid, and with what
    ceremonies are they sworn to secrecy? Are there none such? Observe
    what follows. A little time ago the Bleater's London Correspondent
    had this passage: "Boddleboy is pianoforte playing at St.
    Januarius's Gallery, with pretty tolerable success! He clears three
    hundred pounds per night. Not bad this!!" The builder of St.
    Januarius's Gallery (plunged to the throat in the conspiracy) met
    with this piece of news, and observed, with characteristic
    coarseness, "that the Bleater's London Correspondent was a Blind
    Ass". Being pressed by a man of spirit to give his reasons for this
    extraordinary statement, he declared that the Gallery, crammed to
    suffocation, would not hold two hundred pounds, and that its
    expenses were, probably, at least half what it did hold. The man of
    spirit (himself a Tattlesnivellian) had the Gallery measured within
    a week from that hour, and it would not hold two hundred pounds!
    Now, can the poorest capacity doubt that it had been altered in the
    meantime?

    And so the conspiracy extends, through every grade of society, down
    to the condemned criminal in prison, the hangman, and the Ordinary.
    Every famous murderer within the last ten years has desecrated his
    last moments by falsifying his confidences imparted specially to the
    London Correspondent of the Tattlesnivel Bleater; on every such
    occasion, Mr. Calcraft has followed the degrading example; and the
    reverend Ordinary, forgetful of his cloth, and mindful only (it
    would seem, alas!) of the conspiracy, has committed himself to some
    account or other of the criminal's demeanour and conversation, which
    has been diametrically opposed to the exclusive information of the
    London Correspondent of the Bleater. And this (as has been before
    observed) is Merry England!

    A man of true genius, however, is not easily defeated. The
    Bleater's London Correspondent, probably beginning to suspect the
    existence of a plot against him, has recently fallen on a new style,
    which, as being very difficult to countermine, may necessitate the
    organisation of a new conspiracy. One of his masterly letters,
    lately, disclosed the adoption of this style--which was remarked
    with profound sensation throughout Tattlesnivel--in the following
    passage: "Mentioning literary small talk, I may tell you that some
    new and extraordinary rumours are afloat concerning the
    conversations I have previously mentioned, alleged to have taken
    place in the first floor front (situated over the street door), of
    Mr. X. Ameter (the poet so well known to your readers), in which, X.
    Ameter's great uncle, his second son, his butcher, and a corpulent
    gentleman with one eye universally respected at Kensington, are said
    not to have been on the most friendly footing; I forbear, however,
    to pursue the subject further, this week, my informant not being
    able to supply me with exact particulars."

    But, enough, sir. The inhabitant of Tattlesnivel who has taken pen
    in hand to expose this odious association of unprincipled men
    against a shining (local) character, turns from it with disgust and
    contempt. Let him in few words strip the remaining flimsy covering
    from the nude object of the conspirators, and his loathsome task is
    ended.

    Sir, that object, he contends, is evidently twofold. First, to
    exhibit the London Correspondent of the Tattlesnivel Bleater in the
    light of a mischievous Blockhead who, by hiring himself out to tell
    what he cannot possibly know, is as great a public nuisance as a
    Blockhead in a corner can be. Second, to suggest to the men of
    Tattlesnivel that it does not improve their town to have so much Dry
    Rubbish shot there.

    Now, sir, on both these points Tattlesnivel demands in accents of
    Thunder, Where is the Attorney General? Why doesn't the Times take
    it up? (Is the latter in the conspiracy? It never adopts his
    views, or quotes him, and incessantly contradicts him.)
    Tattlesnivel, sir, remembering that our forefathers contended with
    the Norman at Hastings, and bled at a variety of other places that
    will readily occur to you, demands that its birthright shall not be
    bartered away for a mess of pottage. Have a care, sir, have a care!
    Or Tattlesnivel (its idle Rifles piled in its scouted streets) may
    be seen ere long, advancing with its Bleater to the foot of the
    Throne, and demanding redress for this conspiracy, from the orbed
    and sceptred hands of Majesty itself!
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