Is consequence of the recent disclosures which have been made by an Individual who in the garb of a pauper made his way into one of the workhouses, and detected various malpractices, a meeting of many of the metropolitan Guardians was held, a few nights since, at the well-known Cow and Cheesemonger Tavern, for the purpose of considering the situation. Mr. Bumble was unanimously voted into the chair.

The Chairman said that he didn't know as many words was expeeted from him. They all knew as well as him that an un-English and spy system bad been inhogurated by a journal he should not bemean hisself by putting a name to, and another journal, whose name he should ekally scorn to mention, had thought proper to copy the same, whereby the Public was made awear of many things that was no business of its. He would leave the matter in the ands of other gentlemen. (Cheers )

Mr. Sebbrus said that if this sort of thing was to go on, nobody would be safe. The Pall Mall Gazette (groans) pretended to be written by gentlemen for gentlemen, and yet it would send a party (he would not call him a gentleman though he did hire a brougham) to steal into a workhouse at the dead of night, and under false pretences spy upon the nakedness of the land. What official could keep his place, if he was liable to be taken unawares in that manner when real gentlemen, like Sir George Gibbet, whose philanthropy extended to officials as well as the rabble, wanted to see an establishment, they sent word before hand, and the result was most satisfactory. (Cheers.) He only wished tbat the fellow had come to his, Mr. Sebbrus's quarters, and he had had an inkling of his character. He should have had no reason to complain of the water in the bath, so long as the yard pump had a handle to it. (Cheers.)

Mr. Bangbeggar said that the spy system was hinfamous, and he had heard as every one of the workhouses was to be visited in like maimer, and the managements was to be showed up without warrant or warning. (Sensation) He should advise that a detective who had been accustomed to West End society should be engaged, on the sly of course, at each workhouse, as he, Mr. Bangbeggar, was certain that by law a man could be punished for asking relief when he was not in a condition according. It would be turning the tables fine to have the gentleman-spy up before the Beak.

Mr. Grindfaces said that the name of Beak made him sick, they talked such nonsense about the lower classes. Why, even supposing tbat all that had been said was true, and much more, what right had paupers to anything better under wiser law-makers than they had now, a pauper was regarded as a criminal, and if he got feeding he got flogging, and unless something like it was tried, respectable tradesmen who had cheated in the same shop for years (Sensation) — he begged pardon, it was a lapsus lingo, he meant who had resided in the same neighbourhood for years, would find their rates what it would be very unpleasant to pay. (Applause.)

Mr. Surly said that they were met in private, there were no infernal reporters present, and he should speak his mind. He was chose to keep down the rates, and he knew no other duty. That was his business. As for hard words, they broke no bones. He could give a Beak as good cheek as a Beak could give him, as they knew. They couldn't check the papers, no doubt, but what could the papers do to them? The class as chose him and his likes cared no more for newspaper articles than for the squeaking of pigs. He thought the meeting was making a fuss about nothing, and that if anything the revelations, as they were called, did good, as showing to the rate-payers that every saving was made as could be made. (Applause.)

Mr. Cheeseparing said that the least said was the soonest mended, and if they held their noise the public would forget all about the matter in a week. He thought with the preceding speaker, that they were much too afraid of the newspapers. Let them imitate the railway people, and the aldermen, and the scavengers, and the like, and take no notice of scribble. (Applause).

Mr. Pincher said that the last two gentlemen had spoken good sense. The spying was as mean as mean could be, and he wished he had had the bathing of the gent who went to Lambeth. But it would all blow over — the public liked a bit of sensation, but that was all, and he advised bis friends to take things easy. The next murder would drive it all out of people's heads. If respectable prints liked to publish the conversation of the dregs of the earth and the scum of the universe, he did not admire their taste, but he did not care a brass farthing what was said about him.

The last speakers being considered to express the sentiments of the Guardians, and the policy they should adopt, the business terminated, and the reporter, disguised as a waiter, left the room, to order glasses all round.

Related Material


“The Pleasantest of Workhouses.” Punch, the London Charivari. (27 January 1866): 34. Hathi Trust Digital Library online version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 5 June 2020.

Last modified 9 June 2020