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voice seemingly squeaked through a quill : “ These doors are not opened after eleven !' And the window resumed its station on its casement; et finem dedit ore loquendi.
I stood listening still, as if expecting more, as the pious Trojan to the lady of Cumæ, after having sacrificed seven bullocks to make her speak. I was at first not sensible of all the horror of my situation. I was even glad of the darkness, for one has always, with or without guilt, a sense of dishonor, and a mean look, on being turned away. I have noticed this, often, upon a tailor presenting his bill, and you know how it is in an unsuccessful declaration. The reaction of this feeling is always anger, and I was awhile mad enough to change my religion. The gas-lights shone dimly through the turbid atmosphere; the weather, which had been only drizzling and chilly, now rained harder, mixed with occasional blasts of wind, requiring one to turn his back, and turning the umbrella wrong side out; and a slimy and greasy mud was upon the pavement. You may imagine a stranger, on such a night, finding his way through the palpable obscure of this inextricable metropolis. I knew not the name of any public hotel, except one, to which I was unwilling to return, having been a little sancy on leaving in the morning.
I then took leave of Adam-street, not altogether unlike Adam himself, when turned loose upon the unexplored world. He had some advantages over me; by all accounts, a very amiable compagnon de voyage, and I presume a better climate. I now wandered about, asking of every one information. One did not know; another would not answer, and I found myself, long after midnight, entangled in innumerable windings, which, as I advanced, became more and more intricate. I once appealed to the fair sex, in a very narrow lane, near the great theatres, perhaps Petticoat Lane, and the Ariadne offered kindly to be berself my conductor, and to share with me her hospitality, which she much commended. But after some hesitation · · I let
go the thread. I had doubts of her honesty. I even met a man here, who, with a despairing look, inquired of me where he would be likely to find a lodging! I came near laughing in his face. I told him I did not know. Then one said, “Just about the middle of Piccadilly;' but where the d-1 is Piccadilly? And if I found one more circumstantial, he gave me about the following: • Turn down the first street on the left, then turn to the right, then the left again, after which
you will find an alley, which leads to another street;' and I was to find elegant lodging' there. I thought, more than once, of a sad adventurer, more than two thousand years ago, at Athens; and one, half a century ago, in this very London, who were equally lucky in their information. Poor Strap, and Demea! You have gone where there are no more wanderings; no more need of the fallible guidance of human judgment! And now I began to think of persons who had lain out o' nights; even women, who had lived in palaces, slept on tapestried couches, being reduced, with no other covering than the weeping clouds, to lie down upon the icy lap of mother earth. “Gracious heaven !' thought I, “is not one of the streets of this very city called Shore-ditch? It is perhaps here, where I am now treading!' And I shrunk instinctively from the guilty spot, into a wretched and narrow alley alongside, and there stood and looked
around, with a wild and chilly sentiment of horror, when I espied, and I looked again thinking it might be an illusion, over a door, in front of me, transparent with the illumination of gas, the two words, • Beds! Beds ! very properly with notes of admiration, since beds are miracles in London. I was so delighted, that I stood several minutes contemplating the important monosyllables, 'Beds ! Beds!' Never before had I seen so elegant a transparency. I knocked modestly, and the hermit appeared. But — shall I go on, or shall I be silent? He informed me his last bed was just occupied ! I stood awhile motionless, arms pendant, knees introverted, and speechless, which gave the host's reflections time to rally, and to contrive me a bed, by the application of two chairs to a sofa, which, with a mattress, I accepted very gladly, for the night. I must add here, in praise of British generosity, that the landlord, having consulted with the landlady, gave me his own mattress, she having agreed that they could make out for one night upon their ó second bottoms. I know not which of the ten thousand streets, or the two hundred and fifty thousand houses of London, afforded me this hospitality; nor should I ever find it, unless perhaps, as the cobbler of the Forty Thieves, by being turned out in Adam-street, at midnight, by two old maids; but I shall keep it in grateful memory, till the last hour of my life.
Alas, for foreign travellers ! They are benevolent individuals, who sojourn abroad, and lie on creaking chairs and ragged mattresses, for the amusement and instruction of those who stay at home in their comfortable beds! They are even sometimes eaten up by giants, turned into pigs by witches, refuse immortality for their wives, and returning home at last, are recognised only by the dogs. The only sensible travellers I know any thing of, and the only ones who have gained any permanent celebrity by their travels, are Gulliver and Thomas O'Rourke, and they never stirred an inch from their own firesides. I must now try to give you the remainder of this night.
What the poet says of sleeping in cribs, is mere poetry. I lay awake, listening to the dialogues of the trulls and their gallants upon the street, and to the song and slang of a neighboring beer-house, and other noises, which only died away gradually toward morning. The vehicles which had gone out upon their fashionable round of dissipation at midnight, had returned, and their rumblings, too, were husbed in the distance. The last taper of the night was extinguished. In this intermission of the labors, the pleasures, and crimes of the Great Babylon, I slept half an hour.
Sleep, (i respond to the benediction of Sancho!) touched, no doubt, with my griefs, consoled me with agreeable visions, for the dismal fancies of the waking hours. I was at home; and from the Piny Hill once more looked down upon the smiling roofs of the village, upon the Sharp Mountain, blazing in the morning rays, its glorious top, like Cæsar's, covered only with its laurels; or strayed by the shady banks of the Tumbling Run or Wizard Schuylkill, and heard them again tell their babbling gossip to the air; and when evening came, I sat once more in the family group; shared in the noisy merriment, and repaid with kisses the joyous welcome and gratulation for my return. At length, being invited, I related to the wondering listeners my adventures and discoveries abroad. How I had visited a
people multitudinous as the bees upon the flowers of the Wyoming, or ants on the sunny side of the Tuscarora, and my sojourn in the capital of this strange people ; how the inhabitants at one end of the town are exquisite in beauty, in sylph-like shapes, and dainty little feet, and at the other, awkward, and with feet so large that in wet weather they fall down on their backs and hold them up
for umbrellas. Then, how I had visited a strange tribe of this people, residing mostly in the south-west, with heads and feet inverted; having an instinctive horror of new inventions, and being very fond of their ancestors; intent on preserving every thing, whether it is worth preserving or not; and another tribe, directly opposed to these, having their
eyes in the ends of their fingers; these again subdivided into sects; some, having discovered error in all human institutions, were busy in pulling down whatever their predecessors had built up, and infested every thing with remedies, as the doctor's the squire's dinner at Barrataria; others again, being impatient of the ordinary slow march of human intellect, eager, restless, miserable, scarce gave themselves time to be born. Most of them came into the world at seven months. These had already abridged space more than two thirds, and, turning adages into paradoxes, had overcome the winds and tides altogether; and were in very reasonable hopes, not only of effacing all political and social differences, but of reducing the very limbs, features and complexions of mankind, to one simple, undistinguishable monotony. Of this sect, the supreme good was utility, and they who insisted on pursuing science, virtue, or even religion, for itself, were deemed heretics from the true faith, and treated accordingly. These philosophers were at this time employed in finding out the virtues of holy water by a chemical analysis. Then I related how I had been present at the great wittenagemot of this people, studying the politics of the different sects, and listening to their debates; of the Astomores, or those without mouths, who were urging with great eloquence a duty on corn, a king of the country having once died of indigestion from foreign importations; and of the Arinnes, or those without noses, who were equally strenuous for a duty on snuff. Finally, I described how a black and sickly atmosphere, breeding blue devils, hung over this capital, so dense that a river which runs through the town often had lost its way, breaking its nose against its own banks; on one occasion surrounding the Parliament House, forcing the members to escape through the windows in canoes; and how the natives, at certain seasons, are obliged to nail up boards against this fog, at all the leading avenues, with the inscription, “This is London.'
All this I dreamed in half an hour; nor is this all. I fancied myself, afterward, twirling along Regent-street, like a whirlwind, in a tilbury, tailored by Stultz, (take care of the commas in this sentence,) and a tigar, of a rosy complexion, fair-top boots, and great tidelity, carrying my billets dour, and keeping my secrets, gracefully swinging in the rear; or I moved along Hyde Park, slowly, with four pucecolored titts, the footman, a Greek boy, beautiful as Ganymede, languishing behind, and the coachman dipped in Pactolus ; and then I stood tip-toe at Almacks! Last of all, (it was perhaps the nightmare,) I made a speech to the Radicals, (tremendous applause !) abolished the House of Lords, and other reverend absurdities; dethroned
King William, making fifty constitutions and republics; was appointed in his place; conquered all Europe and America ; diadems rained on my head, and I awoke ! •Et je suis Gros Jean comme devant
I now lay upon my humble cot, and listened to the pattering of the rain, blown rashly against the house, by the winds; one of those rallyings of the winter upon the spring, so common in America ; and to the clicking of pattens upon the pavement, and the clattering of umbrellas upon the window casements, with the doleful cries of a London morning: 'Fresh water-cresses!' Milk, milk !' Any sparrow grass !' and, as the day advanced, 'Dust-dus ! 'Any old cloash to shell !' in a low Jew voice, like the tearing of a rag. These are the sounds with which I am regaled, you listening, the while, to the orisons of the Boblink.
There is something mournful in the return to life of a great city, of an early morning. Its joys, its gayeties, the loud laugh, the bewitching smile, all are now dissolved in sleep; it is the labors and necessities of man, only, his cares and miseries, that awake; and in the London districts where poverty haunts, it is the resuscitation of Lazarus. There is something mournful, too, in the reflection, that in a city so attentive to the comforts and luxuries of its own citizens, and so refined by the humanity and civilization of many centuries, a stranger may wander like an outlaw in the night. I do not speak of facility, or probability, but with scarce the possibility, of finding a shelter from the dangers of the streets, or the rigors of an inhospitable climate.
I am reinstated in my Threadneedle-street hotel, again to hug the Bank; to be awakened again by the Bow-bells! Like Whittington, I have turned again,' or rather, with a heart that, like Noah's dove, having found no terra firma, no little spot where it might rest, has come back with the olive branch into the ark. I have sent for my wardrobe, with a very certain resolve, that all intercourse between me and the maids of Adam-street shall cease from this date.
THE FOURTH DAY. If Thomson had lived in a country where spring came of itself, he would not have begun his poem
with an invitation. It is cold, and no fire upon the grate, and the rain not abated, any more than my detestation of London, and its unsocial and cynical inhabitants. The north wind sweeps, you know how fiercely, over the naked plains of the Ouisconsin; yet are they breezes from Arabia, compared to the breath of these unsympathizing strangers. At least Englishmen are not degenerate; and Hospitibus feros' is as true now
•Why, you simpleton, lost in reason as in in spirits you ! born without father or mother, and with no recommendation of learning or wit, or title or equipage ; lacking even that, which is itself society, friendship, liberty, and without which, virtue is but sea-weed; no Spaniard in mustachios, or Italian fiddler, and lodging in Threadneedle-street, and yet expect to be noticed, as if preceded by your fame or dignity; and in your ill-nature, rail ' like a very drab' at Englishmen and English hospitality; perhaps not even letters.'
I have (you are mistaken) one to Cobbett, who, on purpose, I presume,
has died since I left home; one to my Lord Brougham, ill in the country; to Sheridan Knowles, unanswered
for three days, the barbarian; and one to Bulwer, whose public and private duties' But I have done. I am going to read over this letter.
I have; and it seems to have been written, through the whole five pages, by some one in the last gasp of the spleen; and so it has. With the exception of the poetry and the wit, it is King Lear, raving through the five acts; and now that I am convalescent, it seems to me very stupid and senseless. But I am glad the fit is over. Melancholy, like the measles, or whooping-cough, is only dangerous in the first attack. As I came into my room, a few minutes ago, I found on my table, what do you think? looking me tenderly in the face? I had resolved, on rising this morning, to give sorrow to the winds; and to strengthen this resolution, went to Dolby's chop-house for a beef-steak, having experienced that nothing so improves one's magnanimity, as his breakfast ; and my advice is, that you never fight a duel, make a declaration, or do any thing that requires courage, on an empty stomach. I came in, and found on my table three notes, prettily folded, gilt-edged, and perfumed; an invitation of Mr. Knowles, to breakfast, of Mr. Vaughn, to dinner, and of an amiable and pretty woman, of Tavistock Square, • O sola miserata ."' offering a seat in her carriage to Chiswick; with a fourth, soon after, containing · Admission to the House of Commons,' from Mr. Bulwer :
Sunt hic etiam
Lacrymæ rerum.' The rain, too, has subsided, and the sun now and then beams upon dispersing clouds, sweet as the smile of Caradori. A few rays have even penetrated as far as St. Paul's dome. I would re-compose this letter, but for the labor. I have so freely abused my new acquaintances, it will spoil my appetite for their dinners; but it will do them no harm, and it did me some good. I felt better after it. I have written too much Greek and Latin, and other pedantry; but to one who read her Virgil and Homer at twelve years, I will not apologize. I have said too much of nothing but myself; but I is the traveller's emphatic letter. It is his privilege, and if used ingenuously, to describe his own feeling, rather than to please that capricious old lady, the Public, it is, I think, one of his merits. It is of interest to know men's different views of foreign countries; but to know something more of that badly-explored country, the human mind, is of interest also. To my taste, Cæsar (I pray you make no comparisons) spoiled not a little his Commentaries, by his affected third person. One would like to know how Cæsar, I, Cæsar, felt at the battle of the Nervii.
I have found, happily, apartments, to be occupied in ten days, in Sackville-street, No. 7, where I will expect the angel visits of your letters.
Very tenderly Yours,
ON A NAKED STATUE OF A POL LO CROWNING MERIT.
MERIT, if thou art blest with riches,
For one good turn deserves another.