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The Tattlesnivel Bleater

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!

Charles Dickens

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