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In Three Books.




TELLSON'S Bank by Temple Bar was an old-
fashioned place, even in the year one thousand
seven hundred and eighty. It was very small,
very dark, very ugly, very incommodious. It
was an old-fashioned place moreover, in the
moral attribute that the partners in the House
were proud of its smallness, proud of its darkness,
proud of its ugliness, proud of its
incommodiousness. They were even boastful of
its eminence in those particulars, and were fired
by an express conviction that, if it were less
objectionable, it would be less respectable. This
was no passive belief, but an active weapon
which they flashed at more convenient places of
business. Tellson's (they said) wanted no elbow-
room, Tellson's wanted no light, Tellson's wanted
no embellishment. Noakes and Co.'s might, or
Snooks Brothers' might; but Tellson's, thank

Any one of these partners would have
disinherited his son on the question of rebuilding
Tellson's. In this respect, the house was much
on a par with the Country; which did very often
disinherit its sons for suggesting improvements
in laws and customs that had long been highly
objectionable, but were only the more

Thus it had come to pass, that Tellson's was
the triumphant perfection of inconvenience. After
bursting open a door of idiotic obstinacy with a
weak rattle in its throat, you fell into Tellson's
down two steps, and came to your senses in a
miserable little shop, with two little counters,
where the oldest of men made your cheque shake
as if the wind rustled it, while they examined
the signature by the dingiest of windows, which
were always under a shower-bath of mud from
Fleet-street, and which were made the dingier by
their own iron bars proper, and the heavy shadow
of Temple Bar. If your business necessitated
your seeing "the House," you were put into
a species of Condemned Hold at the back,
where you meditated on a misspent life, until
the House came with its hands in its pockets,
and you could hardly blink at it in the dismal

Your money came out of, or went into, wormy
old wooden drawers, particles of which flew up
your nose and down your throat when they were
opened and shut. Your bank-notes had a musty
odour, as if they were fast decomposing into rags
again. Your plate was stowed away among the
neighbouring cesspools, and evil communications
corrupted its good polish in a day or two. Your
deeds got into extemporised strong-rooms made
of kitchens and sculleries, and fretted all the fat
out of their parchments into the banking-house
air. Your lighter boxes of family papers went
up-stairs into a Barmecide room, that always had
a great dining-table in it and never had a
dinner, and where, even in the year one thousand
seven hundred and eighty, the first letters
written to you by your old love, or by your little
children, were but newly released from the horror
of being ogled through the windows, by the
heads exposed on Temple Bar with an insensate
brutality and ferocity worthy of Abyssinia or

But, indeed, at that time, putting to Death
was a recipe much in vogue with all trades and
professions, and not least of all with Tellson's.
Death is Nature's remedy for all things, and
why not Legislation's? Accordingly, the forger
was put to Death; the utterer of a bad note was
put to Death; the unlawful opener of a letter
was put to Death; the purloiner of forty shillings
and sixpence was put to Death; the holder of a
horse at Tellson's door, who made off with it,
was put to Death; the coiner of a bad shilling
was put to Death; the sounders of three-fourths
of the notes in the whole gamut of Crime, were
put to Death. Not that it did the least good
in the way of preventionit might almost have
been worth remarking that the fact was exactly
the reversebut, it cleared off (as to this
world) the trouble of each particular case, and
left nothing else connected with it to be looked
after. Thus, Tellson's, in its day, like greater
places of business, its contemporaries, had
taken so many lives, that, if the heads laid low
before it had been ranged on Temple Bar
instead of being privately disposed of, they
would probably have excluded what little light
the ground floor had, in a rather significant

Cramped in all kinds of dim cupboards and
hutches at Tellson's, the oldest of men carried on