[Illustration: PHYSICAL FORCE.]
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“ROB ME THE EXCHEQUER, HAL.”
No wonder Smith Exchequer Bills,
Should have a taste for gorging,
For since the work the pocket fills,
What Smith’s averse to forging?
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THE FIRE AT THE TOWER.
This is a sad business, there is no doubt, and the excitement which prevailed may probably excuse the eccentricities that occurred, and to which we beg leave to call the public attention.
In the first place, by way of ensuring the safety of the property, precautions were taken to shut out every one from the building; and as military rule knows of no exception, the orders given were executed to the letter by preventing the ingress of the firemen with their engines until the general order of exclusion was followed by a countermand. This of course took time, leaving the fire to devour at its leisure the enormous meal that fate had prepared for it.
After the admission of the firemen there was the usual mishap of no water where it could be got at, but an abundant supply where there was no possibility of reaching it. The tanks which the hose could be got into were almost dry, while the Thames was in the most provoking way almost overflowing its banks in the very neighbourhood of the fire; and yet, if the pipes were laid on to the water, they were laid off too far from the building to have the least effect upon it.
The next eccentricity consisted in the sudden idea that suggested itself to somebody, that all energy should be devoted to saving the jewels, which were not in the smallest danger, and even if they had been, there was nobody knew how to get at them, the key being some miles off in the possession of the Lord Chamberlain. It might as well have been at the bottom of the Thames; and, of course, everybody began tugging at the iron bars, which were at length forced, and the jewels were, at a great cost of time and trouble, removed to a place of safety from a position of the most perfect security!! However, this showed activity if nothing else, and of course made the subject of paragraphs about “presence of mind,” “indefatigable exertions,” and “superhuman efforts” on the part of certain persons who, for the good they were doing, might just as well have been carrying the piece of artillery in St. James’s Park into the enclosure opposite.
While the jewels were being hurried from one part of the Tower, where they were quite safe, to another where they were not more so, it never occurred to any one to rescue from danger the arms, which were being quietly consumed, while the crown and regalia were being jolted about with the most injurious activity.
The treatment of some of the reporters was another curious point of this melancholy business; and a gentleman from a weekly journal, on applying at head-quarters, found his own head suddenly quartered by a blow from a musket. This was rather unceremonious treatment on the part of the privates of the line to a person who is also