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The Begging-Letter Writer
THE amount of money he annually diverts from wholesome and useful purposes in the
United Kingdom, would be a set-off against the Window Tax. He is one of the most
shameless frauds and impositions of this time. In his idleness, his mendacity, and the
immeasurable harm he does to the deserving, - dirtying the stream of true benevolence,
and muddling the brains of foolish justices, with inability to distinguish between the base
coin of distress, and the true currency we have always among us, - he is more worthy of
Norfolk Island than three-fourths of the worst characters who are sent there. Under any
rational system, he would have been sent there long ago.
I, the writer of this paper, have been, for some time, a chosen receiver of Begging
Letters. For fourteen years, my house has been made as regular a Receiving House for
such communications as any one of the great branch Post-Offices is for general
correspondence. I ought to know something of the Begging-Letter Writer. He has
besieged my door at all hours of the day and night; he has fought my servant; he has
lain in ambush for me, going out and coming in; he has followed me out of town into the
country; he has appeared at provincial hotels, where I have been staying for only a few
hours; he has written to me from immense distances, when I have been out of England.
He has fallen sick; he has died and been buried; he has come to life again, and again
departed from this transitory scene: he has been his own son, his own mother, his own
baby, his idiot brother, his uncle, his aunt, his aged grandfather. He has wanted a
greatcoat, to go to India in; a pound to set him up in life for ever; a pair of boots to take
him to the coast of China; a hat to get him into a permanent situation under
Government. He has frequently been exactly seven-and-sixpence short of
independence. He has had such openings at Liverpool - posts of great trust and
confidence in merchants' houses, which nothing but seven-and- sixpence was wanting
to him to secure - that I wonder he is not Mayor of that flourishing town at the present
The natural phenomena of which he has been the victim, are of a most astounding
nature. He has had two children who have never grown up; who have never had
anything to cover them at night; who have been continually driving him mad, by asking
in vain for food; who have never come out of fevers and measles (which, I suppose, has
accounted for his fuming his letters with tobacco smoke, as a disinfectant); who have
never changed in the least degree through fourteen long revolving years. As to his wife,
what that suffering woman has undergone, nobody knows. She has always been in an
interesting situation through the same long period, and has never been confined yet. His
devotion to her has been unceasing. He has never cared for himself; HE could have