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IN WHICH THE HISTORY STILL HOVERS ABOUT FLEET STREET.
APTAIN SHANDON, urged on by his wife, who seldom meddled in business matters, had stipulated that John Finucane, Esquire, of the Upper Temple, should be appointed sub-editor of the forthcoming Pall Mall Gazette, and this post was accordingly conferred upon Mr. Finucane
by the spirited proprietor of the Journal. Indeed he deserved
any kindness at the hands of Shandon, so fondly attached was he, as we have said, to the Captain and his family, and so eager to do him a service. It was in Finucane’s chambers that Shandon used in former days to hide when danger was near and bailiffs abroad: until at length his hiding-place was known, and the sherifi‘s officers came as regularly to wait for the Captain on Finucane’s staircase as at his own door. It was to Finucane’s chambers that poor Mrs. Shandon came often and often to explain her troubles and griefs, and devise
means of rescue for her adored Captain. Many a meal did
Finucane furnish for her and the child there. It was an
honour to his little rooms to be visited by such a lady; and
as she went down the staircase with her veil over her face,
Fin would lean over the balustrade looking after her, to see
that no Temple Lovelace assailed her upon the road, perhaps
hoping that some rogue might be induced to waylay her, so that he, Fin, might have the pleasure of rushing to her rescue, and breaking the rascal’s bones. It was a sincere pleasure to
Mrs. Shandon when the arrangements were made by which her kind honest champion was appointed her husband’s aidede-camp in the newspaper.
He would have sate with Mrs. Shandon as late as the prison hours permitted, and had indeed many a time witnessed the putting to bed of little Mary, who occupied a crib in the room; and to whose evening prayers that God might bless papa, Finucane, although of the Romish faith himself, had said Amen with a great deal of sympathy—but he had an appointment with Mr. Bungay regarding the afiairs of the paper which they were to discuss over a quiet dinner. So he went away at six o’clock from Mrs. Shandon, but made his accustomed appearance at the Fleet Prison next morning, having arrayed himself in his best clothes and ornaments, which, though cheap as to cost, were very brilliant as to colour and appearance, and having in his pocket four pounds two shillings, being the amount of his week’s salary at the Daily Journal, minus two shillings expended by him in the purchase of a pair of gloves on his way to the prison.
He had cut his mutton with Mr. Bungay, as the latter gentleman phrased it, and Mr. Trotter, Bungay’s reader and literary man of business, at Dick’s Coffee-House on the previous day, and entered at large into his views respecting the conduct of the Pall Mall Gazette. In a masterly manner he had pointed out what should be the sub-editorial arrangements of the paper: what should be the type for the various articles: who should report the markets; who the turf and ring; who the Church intelligence; and who the fashionable chit-chat. He was acquainted with gentlemen engaged in cultivating these various departments of knowledge, and in communicating them afterwards to the public—in fine, Jack Finucane was, as Shandon had said of him, and, as he proudly owned himself to be, one of the best sub-editors of a paper in London. He knew the weekly earnings of every man connected with the Press, and was up to a thousand dodges, or ingenious economic contrivances, by which money could be saved to spirited capitalists, who were going to set up a paper. He at once dazzled and mystified Mr. Bungay, who was slow of comprehension, by the rapidity of the calculations which he exhibited on paper, as they sate in the box. And Bungay afterwards owned to his subordinate, Mr. Trotter, that that Irishman seemed a clever fellow. ,
And now having succeeded in making this impression upon Mr. Bungay, the faithful fellow worked round to the point which he had very near at heart, viz., the liberation from prison of his admired friend and chief, Captain Shandon. He knew to a shilling the amount of the detainers which were against the Captain at the porter’s lodge of the Fleet; and, indeed, professed to know all his debts, though this was impossible, for no man in England, certainly not the Captain himself, was acquainted with them. He pointed out what Shandon’s engagements already were; and how much better he would work if removed from confinement (though this Mr. Bungay denied, for, “when the Captain’s locked up,” he said, “we are sure to find him at home; whereas, when he’s free, you can never catch hold of him ”) ; finally, he so worked on Mr. Bungay’s feelings, by describing Mrs. Shandon pining away in the prison, and the child sickening there, that the publisher was induced to promise that, if Mrs. Shandon would come to him in the morning, he would see what could be done. And the colloquy ending at this time with the second round of brandy-and-water, although Finucane, who had four guineas in his pocket, would have discharged the tavern reckoning with delight, Bungay said, “No, sir,—this is my affair, sir, if you please. James, take the bill, and eighteenpence for yourself,” and he handed over the necessary funds to the waiter. Thus it was that Finucane, who went to bed at the Temple after the dinner at Dick’s, found himself actually with his week’s salary intact upon Saturday morning.
He gave Mrs. Shandon a wink so knowing and joyful, that that kind creature knew some good news was in store for her, and hastened to get her bonnet and shawl, when Fin asked if he might have the honour of taking her a walk, and giving her a little fresh air. And little Mary jumped for joy at the idea of this holiday, for Finucane never neglected to give her a toy, or to take her to a show, and brought newspaper orders in his pocket for all sorts of London diversions to amuse the child. Indeed, he loved them with all his heart, and would