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town TALK:.


town TALK:. ST OTJB SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. Ow Tenders will understand thai we do not hold ourselves rtipon. sible for our able Correspondent's opinions. TEAT London is out of town is the cry of all Lon- don correspondents just now. The blinds are down in Belgravia; no carriages, to speak of, are to be seen in Regent-street; and the hoof-marks in Rotten-row are hard.* Sic transit gloria mundi— that is, Rotten-row is nowhere at present. Those who, a few months since, made it a scene of so much life and gaiety are away, scattered over the Continent, seeing men and cities, or repairing their health and beauty at some of our own water- ing places, idle along "the rippled Bands," or bathe in the grateful brine. But how about that London that never goes out of town ? whose life is one dull round of ceaseless and meagrely requited toil, to which there comes no holidav-time-no periods of sweet fruition; which does not know the taste of a sea-breeze, and has never seen ef that blue element" with all its variety of forms, alternating between calm and storm—now caress- ing the beaeh, and anon rising in its anger, and breaking in thunder and hissing spray on the affrighted shore! There are places in London, back streets, narrow lanes, alleys that shrink from observation—places where dirt and poverty dwell all the year round; the majority of whose in- habitants never go. out of town until they leave this world altogether. It was in a place of this class that Esther Lack resided and murdered her three children. Skin- market-place is one of about a dozen alleys, and lies immediately behind Park. street Chapel, where the celebrated Mr. Spurgeon began his career. The houses are poor enough, some of the windows being patched up with paper, as you see in Irish cabins. I went to see the place the day after the murder. A large number of women and girls had come there out of idle curiosity, and stood in groups around the door while one of the neighbours-a woman, of course, with her sleeves rolled up to her elbows, and her hand wet from the washing tub-held forth. I joined one of these groups, and learned that Esther Lack, before her sight failed, was always "reading them novels;" "them novels" representing, as I found on inquiry, those works of genius whose inspiration is derived from the New- gate Calendar. I further learned that she kep" a rushlight burning all that night. What a lurid scene that piece of information suggests. That old woman lying awake in the feeble and gloomy I light, her perverted reasonings at war with that tenderness which had before responded to the "mammy" of the infant; and at last, having, as she says, "thought a great deal," and thinking it would be better, getting up and cruelly killing, to use her own words, "her own flesh and blood! It is a natural feeling, of which the poets in all ages have largely availed themselves, that great crimes ought to suspend and shock, tc some extent, the orderly operation of social and even material laws. Like many other feelings, it won't bear ex- amination, and no more striking instance of its fallaciousness need be wished for than Skin- market-place and its adjoining alleys would have supplied on the day after the deplorable tragedy had taken place. In that house, with the door closed, and the dirty little blind half down, lie three children murdered by a mother; and here boys play at marbles, and dispute and laugh, and, I regret to think, swear; and there the coster calls out his fruit, and jests with the girls that crowd around his barrow. In fact, as a well-known French writer, having detailed the disastrous fate of hero and heroine, finishes his book-H Et le monde iino. ci cXler COTTMTIG 1:Z allaH." -The world wags on just the same. The case of Esther Lack excites more interest than any of those crimes which at present occupy and have recently occupied the public mind. In the case of Pritchard, Forward, Eli Sykes,Currie,&c., we can see the bad passions of the human heart at work. But this woman avows as her motive-and it is hard to conceive of any other as influencing her-the desire of doing what was best for her children. She has, in consequence, excited none of that indignation which is felt towards Forward and others. People, while shuddering at her crimes, regard herself with pity. Whether she is sane or insane is a question that is much discussed, there being a fair numbei of either opinion. Her neighbours believed her to be sane, while her husband and son naturally take the opposite view. I have not met a single lawyer who does not believe her insane. I know it to be the opinion of men of eminent standing at the bar. On the other hand, men of intelligence and education asseverate their conviction that she is not insane. They dwell upon the method there is in her account. They say it is her working out of the sum of life. The murder of the children is the legitimate quotient she finds. And they add thatsuch evils arethenatural outgrowthof the social condition of many of the lower orders; and that there are hundreds of working people in London not as well fed as they would be in the prison or the workhouse. It is, however, the "universal opinion that she won't be hanged. Constance Kent's confession giving the par- ticulars of her murder, has once more brought an old question on the tapis. Such a confession is the only thing that would convince some persons of her guilt. There is an idea abroad that the law is relaxing its grasp upon this criminal, and that she will suffer but a very mitigated penalty; this is looked on as great weakness by some, and there cannot be much doubt that the uncertainty that has of late crept into the execution of our criminal code is likely to be attended, if, indeed, it has not been already attended, with unfortunate results. A great many Londoners have gone to Ports- mouth. We have not given and shall not give our French guests anything like what they gave us on board the Ville de Lyon. The garden on the poop, and the ball were essentially French; but we have given them a warm Englishreception, norhasitbeen unworthy of a great nation. Some have been in- ] dined to regard these friendly meetings of the two navies as a sham;" but the general opinion seems to be that they are an evidence of a real ] friendly feeling to which they are calculated to i give strength and permanency. j i Saturday being the anniversary of the birthday j I of his Royal Highness the late Prince Consort, the I Boy a] Horticultural-gardens, at Kensington, were ij c by order of her Majesty thrown open gratuitously to the public. I, of course, went there, as in duty bound. The gardenajaresented a striking contrast to their appearance at other times when I have visited them. On these occasions the visitors were generally made up of a few old ladies, one or two boarding-schools, or "caterpillars" as they are called, a pair or two of lovers, and a stray old gentle- man who had at Islington or Holloway a garden about six feet by three, and who had come to gather hints for its better cultivation. But on Saturday the gardens might almost be said to have been hidden by the people. As the morning wore away, the day shone out beautifully, and every place was full of life and colour. Along the terraces and down the walks you saw a moving sea of hats and parasols and bonnets. Through the poplar hedges glanced and shone many a new shawl and many a bright muslin. Fathers and mothers moved about, their babies in their arms. Little boys fed the fish, and shook the lilies in the tanks, and leaped the rows of box, and shouted. The policeman warned light-hearted young girls not to run down the slopes, and light-hearted young girls pouted, I must say, very prettily at the policeman; and I must add, in justice to that functionary, that he regarded such dangerous manifestations with that stolidity and becoming indifference which we should look for in the repre- sentative of law. The fountain, and the cascade, and the bands played, and dainty little feet beat time on the green turf. In some places, especially near the refreshment-room, the crush was con- siderable. The tariff was lowered, and though they had "The heavy wet of every kind, from brandy to brown stout," I rejoice to be able to say that I did not see a single person the worse for liquor." The flowers, too, did their best, and sent a grateful perfume on the delighted sense. The people were happy. They were mostly tradespeople and clerks. There could not be a more beautiful sight for one who loves to see the kindly human face," and hear the kindly human voice." And down on all looked, like the genius of the place and scene, the statue of Albert the Good." Z.


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