Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/185

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
115
"BELL'S LIFE IN LONDON."

arrogated to himself, raised up a crop of enemies as well as friends, and he soon afterwards received his congé from the proprietors of the Dispatch. Pierce Egan, however, was not a man to be daunted by any such discouragement; he was found equal to the occasion, meeting his employers' coup d'état by starting a sporting paper of his own, to which he gave the name of his successful book,—Pierce Egan's Life in London, and Sporting Guide. This counter movement proved the germ of a great enterprise. Probably his venture was no very great success; it ran only for three years from its commencement on the 1st of February, 1824. On the 28th of October, 1827, Egan's Life in London was sold by auction to a Mr. Bell, and thenceforth assumed its well known and now time honoured title of Bell's Life in London.

Charles Molloy Westmacott.Another friend of the artist was Charles Molloy Westmacott, as he called himself, but who is supposed to have been—filius nullius or filius populi—the child of Mrs. Molloy, a pretty widow who kept a tavern at Kensington. Westmacott was one of a class of writers who not only existed but thrived in the early part of our century by the levying of literary black-mail. The modus operandi (as given by Mr. William Bates, from whom we derive our information respecting this man) appears to have been as follows: "Sometimes a vague rumour or hint of scandal, accompanied perchance by a suggestive newspaper paragraph, was conveyed to one or more of the parties implicated, with a threat of furthur inquiry into its truth, and a full exposure of the circumstances which excited the sender's virtuous indignation. This, if the selected victim was a man of nervous, timid temperament, often produced the desired effect; and although possibly entirely innocent of the allegation, he preferred to purchase silence, and escape the suspicion which publicity does not fail to attach to a name. If, on the other hand, no notice was taken of the communication, the screw received some further turns. A narrative was drawn up, and printed off, in the form of a newspaper paragraph, and was transmitted to the parties concerned, with a letter, intimating that it had been 'received from a correspondent,' and that the publisher thought fit, prior to publication, to ascertain whether those