Household Words/Volume 12/The Worthy Magistrate


Under this stereotyped title expressive of deference to the police-bench, we take the earliest opportunity afforded us by our manner of preparing this publication, of calling upon every Englishman who reads these pages to take notice what he is. The circulation of this journal comprising a wide diversity of classes, we use it to disseminate the information that every Englishman is a drunkard. Drunkenness is the national characteristic. Whereas the German people (when uncontaminated by the English), are always sober, the English setting at nought the bright example of the pure Germans domiciled among them, are always drunk. The authority for this polite and faithful exposition of the English character, is a modern Solomon, whose temple rears its head near Drury Lane; the wise Mr. Hall, Chief Police Magistrate, sitting at Bow Street, Covent Garden, in the County of Middlesex, Barrister at Law.

As we hope to keep this household word of Drunkard, affixed to the Englishman by the awful Mr. Hall from whom there is no appeal, pretty steadily before our readers, we present the very pearl discovered in that magisterial oyster. On Thursday, the ninth of this present month of August, the following sublime passage evoked the virtuous laughter of the thief-takers of Bow Street

Mr. Hall.—Were you sober, Sir?

Prosecutor.—Yes, certainly.

Mr. Hall.—You must be a foreigner, then?

Prosecutor.—I am a German.

Mr. Hall.—Ah, that accounts for it. If you had been an Englishman, you would have been drunk, for a certainty.

Prosecutor (smiling).—The Germans get drunk sometimes, I fear.

Mr. Hall.—Yes, after they have resided any time in this country. They acquire our English habits.

In reproducing these noble expressions, equally honourable to the Sage who uttered them, and to the Country that endures them, we will correct half-a-dozen vulgar errors which, within our observation, have been rather prevalent since the great occasion on which the Oracle at Bow Street, spake.

1. It is altogether a mistake to suppose that if a magistrate wilfully deliver himself of a slanderous aspersion, knowing it to be unjust, he is unfit for his post.

2. It is altogether a mistake, to suppose that if a magistrate, in a fit of bile brought on by recent disregard of some very absurd evidence of his, so yield to his ill-temper as to deliver himself, in a sort of mad exasperation, of such slanderous aspersions as aforesaid, he is unfit for his post.

3. It is altogether a mistake to suppose it to be very questionable whether, even in degraded Naples at this time, a magistrate could from the official bench insult and traduce the whole people, without being made to suffer for it.

4. It is altogether a mistake to suppose that it would be becoming in some one individual out of between six and seven hundred national representatives, to be so far jealous of the honour of his country, as indignantly to protest against its being thus grossly stigmatised.

5. It is altogether a mistake to suppose that the Home Office has any association whatever with the general credit, the general self-respect, the general feeling in behalf of decent utterance, or the general resentment when the same is most discreditably violated. The Home Office is merely an ornamental institution supported out of the general pocket.

6. It is altogether a mistake to suppose that Mr. Hall is anybody's business, or that we, the mere bone and sinew, tag rag and bobtail of England, have anything to do with him, but to pay him his salary, accept his Justice, and meekly bow our heads to his high and mighty reproof.