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in imagination, as he went sounding on through so many dark stifling caverns, horrid shades! to shudder with the idea that “now, surely, he must be lost forever!”—to revive at hearing his feeble shout of discovered daylight—and then (O fulness of delight!) running out of doors, to come just in time to see the sable phenomenon emerge in safety, the brandished weapon of his art victorious like some flag waved over a conquered citadel! I seem to remember having been told that a bad sweep was once left in a stack with his brush, to indicate which way the wind blew. It was an awful spectacle, certainly; not much unlike the old stage direction in Macbeth, where the “Apparition of a child crowned, with a tree in his hand, rises.”
Reader, if thou meetest one of these small gentry in thy early rambles, it is good to give him a penny. It is better to give him twopence. If it be starving weather, and to the proper troubles of his hard occupation, a pair of kibed heels (no unusual accompaniment) be superadded, the demand on thy humanity will surely rise to a tester.3
There is a composition, the groundwork of which I have understood to be the sweet wood yclept sassafras. This wood, boiled down to a kind of tea, and tempered with an infusion of milk and sugar, hath to some tastes a delicacy beyond the China luxury. I know not how thy palate may relish it; for myself, with every deference to the judicious Mr. Read, who hath time out of mind kept open a shop (the only one he avers in Lonthat flew over them and through which Ulysses made his entry into the lower world.
3. A tester is about a sixpence-twelve cents. 4. The “China luxury" is tea.
don) for the vending of this "wholesome and pleasant beverage,” on the south side of Fleet Street, as thou approachest Bridge Street—the only Salopian house—I have never yet ventured to dip my own particular lip in a basin of his commended ingredients—a cautious premonition to the olfactories constantly whispering to me, that my stomach must infallibly, with all due courtesy, decline it. Yet I have seen palates, otherwise not uninstructed in dietetical elegancies, sup it up with avidity.
I know not by what particular conformation of the organ it happens, but I have always found that this composition is surprisingly gratifying to the palate of a young chimney sweeper,—whether the oily particles (sassafras is slightly oleaginous) do attenuate and soften the fuliginous concretions, which are sometimes found in dissections) to adhere to the roof of the mouth in these unfledged practitioners; or whether Nature, sensible that she had mingled too much of bitter wood in the lot of these raw victims, caused to grow out of the earth her sassafras for a sweet lenitive;—but so it is, that no possible taste or odor to the senses of a young chimney sweeper can convey a delicate excitement comparable to this mixture.
Being penniless, they will yet hang their black heads over the ascending steam, to gratify one sense if possible, seemingly no less pleased than those domestic animals—cats—when they purr over a new-found sprig of valerian. There is something more in these sympathies than philosophy can inculcate.
5. Saloop, was a drink prepared from sassafras bark and other ingredients.
Now albeit Mr. Read boasteth, not without reason, that his is the only Salopian house; yet be it known to thee, reader,-if thou art one who keepeth what are called good hours, thou art haply ignorant of the fact,-he hath a race of industrious imitators, who from stalls, and under open sky, dispense the same savory mess to humbler customers, at that dead time of the dawn when (as extremes meet) the rake, reeling home from his midnight cups, and the hard-handed artisan leaving his bed to assume the premature labors of the day, jostle, not infrequently to the manifest disconcerting of the former, for the honors of the pavement. It is the time when, in summer, between the expired and the not yet relumined kitchen fires, the kennels of our fair metropolis give forth the least satisfactory odors. The rake, who wisheth to dissipate his o'er-night vapors in more grateful coffee, .curses the ungenial fume as he passeth; but the artisan stops to taste, and blesses the fragrant breakfast.
This is saloop — the precocious herb-woman's darling,—the delight of the early gardener, who transports his smoking cabbages by break of day from Hammersmith to Covent Garden's famed piazzas,--the delight, and oh! I fear, too often the envy of the unpennied sweep. Him shouldst thou haply encounter, with his dim visage pendent over the grateful steam, regale him with a sumptuous basin (it will cost thee but three halfpennies) and a slice of delicate bread and butter (an added half-penny) --so may thy culinary fires, eased of the o'ercharged secretions from thy worseplaced hospitalities, curl up a lighter volume to the welkin,-so may the descending soot never taint thy costly well-ingredienced soups,—nor the odious cry, quick-reaching from street to street, of the fired chimney, invite the rattling engines from ten adjacent parishes, to disturb for a casual scintillation thy peace and pocket!
I am by nature extremely susceptible of street affronts; the jeers and taunts of the populace; the lowbred triumph they display over the casual trip, or splashed stocking, of a gentleman. Yet can I endure the jocularity of a young sweep with something more than forgiveness. In the last winter but one, pacing along Cheapside with my accustomed precipitation when I walk westward, a treacherous slide brought me upon my back in an instant. I scrambled up with pain and shame enough,—yet outwardly trying to face it down, as if nothing had happened—when the roguish grin of one of these young wits encountered me. There he stood, pointing me out with his dusky finger to the mob, and to a poor woman (I suppose his mother) in particular, till the tears for the exquisiteness of the fun (so he thought it) worked themselves out at the corners of his poor red eyes, red from many a previous weeping, and soot-inflamed, yet twinkling through all with such a joy, snatched out of desolation, that Hogarth—but Hogarth has got him already (how could he miss him!) in the March to Finchley, grinning at the pieman,there he stood, as he stands in the picture, irremovable, as if the jest was to last forever,—with such a maximum of glee, and minimum of mischief, in his mirth,—for the grin of a genuine sweep hath absolutely no malice in it, that I could have been content, if the honor of the gentleman might endure it, to have remained his butt and his mockery till midnight.
6. A celebrated painter (1697-1764), noted for the vividness of his satirical pictures.
I am by theory obdurate to the seductiveness of what are called a fine set of teeth. Every pair of rosy lips (the ladies must pardon me) is a casket presumably holding such jewels; but, methinks, they should take leave to "air” them as frugally as possible. The fine ladies, or fine gentlemen, who show me their teeth, show me bones. Yet must I confess, that from the mouth of a true sweep a display (even to ostentation) of those white and shining ossifications, strikes me as an agreeable anomaly in manners, and an allowable piece of foppery. It is, as when
A sable cloud Turns forth her silvery lining on the night. It is like some remnant of gentry not quite extinct; a badge of better days; a hint of nobility,– and, doubtless, under the obscuring darkness and double night of their forlorn disguisement, oftentimes lurketh good blood, and gentle conditions, derived from lost ancestry, and a lapsed pedigree.
In one of the state beds at Arundel castle, a few years since—under a ducal canopy-(that seat of the Howards is an object of curiosity to visitors, chiefly for its beds, in which the late duke was especially a connoisseur)—encircled with curtains of delicatest crimson, with starry coronets inwoven -folded between a pair of sheets whiter and softer than the lap where Venus lulled Ascanius—was dis