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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Culture and Life

Fact and Fiction

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -
FACT AND FICTION.

Fact and FictionEverybody knows that life in a large town can never be seen from the door-plate point of view. Half an hour’s study of the back windows and yards of dwelling houses reveals more to the studious eye than a twelvemonth’s front view of them. It is all the difference between the gaslight splendour of the ball-room belle and the next morning’s wrapper of disenchantment. It is all the difference between the faultless polish of the man of society among his male and female satellites, and his slip-shod, overbearing gruffness to the wife and children of his own fireside. No one need be told that a handsome frontage does not of necessity preclude the near proximity of a small dwelling-house, warehouse, or shop. Therefore the prospect from back windows is apt to be as carried as striking; and where the inmates of this neighbourhood disposed to philosophise and return the compliment of inspection, they might not so often envy the inmates of big houses, who sit well dressed under their draped front windows, giving no more idea of their inward life, than does a skeleton of the flesh-and-blood man or woman, intensely alive to the very finger-tips.

Take a back-window view of life, my discontented friends, and see how the law of compensation equalises things. Pale cheeks lean there on Listless palms, till pride present them shining for a front-window view. True, you see the carriage standing at yonder front door, but you know nothing of the humiliating expedients talked over by the couple at that back window to enable them to retain it, when prudence loudly urges economy to these slaves of social position. You see the carriage standing at another door with its sleek horses and coachman, and you wish you were the owner of it. Do you? Look there! The door of the house opens, and out creeps an old man, supported between two servants, his limbs distorted by some terrible disease, while you stand there, with a strong, healthy body, repining that you have not the wealth which he would gladly exchange for yours. In another well-appointed establishment a headstrong girl is missing, who has taken her happiness from parental hands and rashly passed it over into unscrupulous keeping. Silver and gold cannot take that ache from parental hearts too surely foreboding her wretched future. Next door another living sorrow is mourned; for the only son, in whom so many hopes were centered, struggles feebly in the whirlpool of dissipation, lost at life’s very threshold. Ah, it is well sometime to take these back-window views of life. Hearts, like houses, keep their rubbish in the rear.

FANNY FERN.