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THE OLD LADY IN THREADNEEDLE
STREET.

PERHAPS there is no Old Lady who has
attained to such great distinction in the world,
as this highly respectable female. Even the
Old Lady who lived on a hill, and who, if
she's not gone, lives there still; or that other
Old Lady who lived in a shoe, and had so
many children she didn't know what to do
are unknown to fame, compared with the Old
Lady of Threadneedle Street. In all parts of
the civilised earth the imaginations of men,
women, and children figure this tremendous
Old Lady of Threadneedle Street in some
rich shape or other. Throughout the length
and breadth of England, old ladies dote upon
her; young ladies smile upon her; old
gentlemen make much of her, young gentlemen
woo her; everybody courts the smiles, and
dreads the coldness, of the powerful Old Lady
in Threadneedle Street. Even prelates have
been said to be fond of her; and Ministers of
State to have been unable to resist her attractions.
She is next to omnipotent in the three
great events of human life. In spite of the
old saw, far fewer marriages are made in
Heaven, than with an eye to Threadneedle
Street. To be born in the good graces of the
Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, is to be
born to fortune: to die in her good books, is
to leave a far better inheritance, as the world
goes, than " the grinning honour that Sir
Walter hath, " in Westminster Abbey. And
there she is, for ever in Threadneedle Street,
another name for wealth and thrift, threading
her golden-eyed needle all the year
round.

This Old Lady, when she first set up, carried
on business in Grocers' Hall, Poultry; but in
1732 she quarrelled with her landlords about a
renewal of her lease, and built a mansion of her
own in Threadneedle Street. She reared her
new abode on the site of the house and garden
of a former director of her affairs, Sir John
Houblon. This was a modest structure, somewhat
dignified by having a statue of William
the Third placed before it; but not the more
imposing from being at the end of an arched
court, densely surrounded with habitations,
and abutting on the churchyard of St. Christopher
le Stocks.

But now, behold her, a prosperous gentlewoman
in the hundred and fifty-seventh year
of her age; "the oldest inhabitant" of
Threadneedle Street! There never was such an
insatiable Old Lady for business. She has gradually
enlarged her premises, until she has spread
them over four acres; confiscating to her
own use not only the parish church of
St.Christopher, but the greater part of the
parish itself.

We count it among the great events of our
young existence, that we had, some days since,
the honour of visiting the Old Lady. It was
not without an emotion of awe that we passed
her Porter's Lodge. The porter himself,
blazoned in royal scarlet, and massively
embellished with gold lace, is an adumbration of
her dignity and wealth. His cocked hat
advertises her stable antiquity as plainly as if
she had written up, in imitation of some of
her lesser neighbours, "established in 1694."
This foreshadowing became reality when we
passed through the Hallthe tellers' hall.
A sensation of unbounded riches permeated
every sense, except, alas! that of touch. The
music of golden thousands clattered in the
ear, as they jingled on counters until its last
echoes were strangled in the puckers or
tightened money-bags, or died under the
clasps of purses. Wherever the eye turned, it
rested on money; money of every possible
variety; money in all shapes; money of all
colours. There was yellow money, white
money, brown money; gold money, silver
money, copper money; paper money, pen and
ink money. Money was wheeled about in
trucks; money was carried about in bags;
money was scavengered about with shovels.
Thousands of sovereigns were jerked hither
and thither from hand to handgrave games
of pitch and toss were played with staid
solemnity; piles of bank notescompetent
to buy whole German dukedoms and Italian
principalitieshustled to and fro with as
much indifference as if they were (as they had
been) old rags.

This Hall of the Old Lady's overpowered
us with a sense of wealth; oppressed us with
a golden dream of Riches. From this vision
an instinctive appeal to our own pockets, and
a few miserable shillings, awakened us to
Reality. When thus aroused we were in one
of the Old Lady's snug, elegant, waiting-
rooms, which is luxuriously Turkey-carpeted

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