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IN our ninth volume,* it fell naturally in
our way to make a few inquiries as to the
abiding place of that vague noun of multitude
signifying many, The Public. We
reminded our readers that it is never forthcoming
when it is the subject of a joke at the
theatre: which is always perceived to be a
hit at some other Public richly deserving
it, but not present. The circumstances of
this time considered, we cannot better
commence our eleventh volume, than by
gently jogging the memory of that other
Public: which is often culpably oblivious of
its own duties, rights, and interests: and to
which it is perfectly clear that neither we nor
our readers are in the least degree related.
We are the sensible, reflecting, prompt Public,
always up to the markwhereas that other
Public persists in supinely lagging behind,
and behaving in an inconsiderate manner.

* Household Words, volume IX. page 156

To begin with a small example lately
revived by our friend, THE EXAMINER
newspaper. What can that other Public
mean, by allowing itself to be fleeced every
night of its life, by responsible persons
whom it accepts for its servants? The case
stands thus. Bribes and fees to small officials,
had become quite insupportable at the time
when the great Railway Companies sprang
into existence. All such abuses they immediately
and very much to their credit, struck out
of their system of management; the keepers of
hotels were soon generally obliged to follow in
this rational direction; the Public (meaning
always, that other one, of course) were relieved
from a most annoying and exasperating addition
to the hurry and worry of travel; and
the reform, as is in the nature of every
reform that is necessary and sensible, extended
in many smaller directions, and was beneficially
felt in many smaller ways. The one,
persistent and unabashed defyer of it, at this
moment, is the Theatrewhich pursues its
old obsolete course of refusing to fulfil its
contract with that other Public, unless
that other Public, after paying for its
box-seats or stalls, will also pay the wages
of theatre servants who buy their places
that they may prey upon that other Public.
As if we should sell our publisher's post to
the highest bidder, leaving him to charge an
additional penny or twopence, or as much
as he could get, on every number, of Household
Words with which he should
graciously favour that other Public! Within
a week or two of this present writing, we
paid five shillings, at nine o'clock in the
evening, for our one seat at a pantomime; after
our cheerful compliance with which demand, a
hungry footpad clapped a rolled-up playbill
to our breast, like the muzzle of a pistol, and
positively stood before the door of which he
was the keeper, to prevent our access (without
forfeiture of another shilling for his benefit)
to the seat we had purchased. Now, that
other Public still submits to the gross
imposition, notwithstanding that its most popular
entertainer has abandoned all the profit
derivable from it, and has plainly pointed out
its manifest absurdity and extortion. And
although to be sure it is universally known that
the Theatre, as an Institution, is in a highly
thriving and promising state, and although we
have only to see a play, hap-hazard, to
perceive that the great body of ladies and gentlemen
representing it, have educated themselves
with infinite labour and expense in a variety
of accomplishments, and have really qualified
for their calling in the true spirit of
students of the Fine Arts; yet, we take leave to
suggest to that other Public with which our
readers and we are wholly unconnected, that
these are no reasons for its being so egregiously

We just now mentioned Railway
Companies. That other Public is very jealous of
Railway Companies. It is not unreasonable
in being so, for, it is quite at their mercy;
we merely observe that it is not usually slow
to complain of them when it has any cause.
It has remonstrated, in its time, about rates
of Fares, and has adduced instances of their
being undoubtedly too high. But, has that
other Public ever heard of a preliminary system
from which the Railway Companies have
no escape, and which runs riot in squandering
treasure to an incredible amount, before
they have excavated one foot of earth or laid
a bar of iron on the ground? Why does that
other Public never begin at the beginning, and
raise its voice against the monstrous charges
of soliciting private bills in Parliament,