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be created. As we lately traversed a Rome." Are we, or are we not, respacious down, a little boy, our com- turning to that state ? On the obverse panion, picked up a coarse medal from lay the Bible, open, irradiated, and the ground. On the one side was the expounded by a minister of God. Is figure of the Bible, chained, padlock- it desirable, or is it not, that a system ed, and something more than a sealed described by that device should be perbook. The legend was “ Britain petuated, and handed down to our under the dominion of the Church of children's children ?
SKETCHES OF LONDON.
October 1846. like London? A popular author told My Dear A.,-I am glad to hear the public not very long ago that Rome that you are enjoying your tour in the is like London. Perhaps the public Highlands; and am ready to forgive believe that it is so, on the strength of you for your triumphing over me- his assertion; for myself, I shall wait “ the only man in town.' I should be till I can see Rome, before I believe any glad enough to join you, but, as that is such thing. Until then, “ the Niobe impossible, I am doing my best to be of Nations” will stand alone in my imreconciled to my stay in London during agination, as unlike in the actual, as she the dead season,
is in the ideal, to her imperial succesAs the old poet tells us—
" Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage.
“ The queenly city cradled by the Thames."
Neither do I find, that because all And I shall continue to suppose that the world of fashion has left the town, the latter is without parallel, or, as our that I am solitary, and deprived of quarrelsome friends the Yankees would matter for interesting and instructive express it, that “ it beats all creation observation in it.
by a long chalk.”
Still, I may find a simile that will
suggest to your mind some faint idea of
London, as it is at the present time. No, A.;-I think I never saw more Something appropriate and fanciful.of the fixed, the permanent, yet ever- Let me see ;-what do you think of changing London, than I have done London is like a fine lady who has during the past six weeks ; and you are laid aside her finery to repose a while, quite mistaken in supposing that I“ live and, to an unsophisticated taste, she is like a vegetable in vacuo." The exter- not a whit the less fine a woman, because nal has still much attraction for me; she no longer dazzles us with her jewels, and, as I have a little time to spare, or bewilders us with her many coloured you shall have the benefit of my obser- robes ?-or this-She is like a snowy vations and speculations.
mountain-top, which has ceased to reYou ask me “ What London looks ceive the direct beams of the sovereign like now ?The question is not very sun, or the reflected light of the western easily answered ; yet it is a cogitative clouds ? Perhaps you will prefer the stimulant, and so, by your leave, I will following :- She is like Time, which put it in my mental Meerschaum, and goes on ever; though neither you, nor give you the benefit of the fumes it may I, nor Pollock himself, were to mark its produce. London! What is like it!
London is like a machine is there any thing under heaven that is performing all her functions regardless
It is very
of events; and she is like a human be- the clubs are quiet; the places of ing, for she seems to sympathize with fashionable amusement are closed. The a man's varying moods. You say con- elegant carriages, the fine horses, the temptuously, in your letter, that you gay leaders and followers of the fashion,
suppose London looks like the Great that were wont to throng the Parks and Desert now?" As I never had the plea- their artistocratic neighbourhood, are sure of travelling in Sahara, I cannot
No o bevies of ladies fair" pretend to satisfy you on that point ; are to be seen shopping in Regent but there is one particular in which, for Street; no groups of gentlemen, by the last two months, London has re- twos and threes, are to be seen sauntersembled the accounts given by all tra- ing down St James' Street; or in anivellers, of deserts in general—it has mated, earnest converse near the prebeen very sandy. In all the principal cincts of “ the House.'
Fair equestristreets they have been pulling up all ans, and well mounted beux, are no the old pavement and pulling down more to be met with in dozens, between the old houses, thereby creating a world the hours of two and seven, in Hyde of dust and sand; which is not dimi- Park; and nursery-maids, with aristonished by the subsequent processes of cratic charges, no longer make St putting down the new pavement, and James's and the Green Park populous, building up the new houses.
at an earlier hour in the day; when, likely that the sensations of a man on if you want to cross either of those parks, escaping from any of these streets into you “must walk knee-deep in childsome fortunate one, which is not being ren.” marred or mended, may give him no The band no longer plays twice avery bad idea of those of the Bedouin, week in Kensington Gardens; and the when he comes upon some Oäsis, some many old ladies, dressed to represent Terra Felix in the desert, where he may young ones, are not to be seen parading shake the dust from his feet and yawn about in defiance of good sense and good pleasantly, without fear of having his taste; nor do we see the many happy month filled with sand.
young persons of both sexes, who used In another respect, too, it occurs to to crowd round the musicians while they me that London at present resembles played, and promenade in the intervals what is told us of deserts. It seems to of the music, with less of that frigid be looked upon by travellers as a dull stiffness than one is accustomed to see uninteresting tract of land, which it is in the imitators of the fashionable world. necessary for them to pass through, in In modish phrase it may be saidgoing from one habitable region to an- “ There is nobody that any body knows other. People who are going from in town now.” - Pas un chat de Brighton to the Moors, or from John connaissance. o'Groats to the Land's End, must all But as I said before, great people pass through London. I meet every do not make a great city, and London day in my walks men with their fami- has much left when
every body is lies, or without their families, driving out of town." with the utmost expedition from one Did you ever try to realise the railway station to another, utterly un- ernotions of the charming young savage interested in all that meets their eye Prince Lee Boo, or any intelligent between the two ;—it is evidently a barbarian when first brought to Londesert to them. I have found it far don? How would it affect him ? At otherwise.
first, doubtless, all would be sheer I do not pretend to say that the amazement, if not terror, at a sight so fashionable quarters are not very much wonderful and so novel, and it would changed in appearance from what they be long before the insurgent senses could were when you last saw them. All be brought again within the control of those magnificent houses, the doors of
When thoroughly certain that which were always encumbered with it was not all a dream ; that all those lounging “ pampered menials," during palaces and streets-houses, churches, the season, are shut up and empty,- carriages —" thick as the leaves in Valambrosa ;” those long lines of stars I could not help wishing our friend terminating in clusters wherever the B- away from the delights, of a eye can reach; that all this was the crowded steam-boat on the Rhine, that work of his brother-man; would he not he might stop with me to admire the be lost in admiration of that power scenery from Cambridge and Apsley which produced all this ? — of that Houses. Ehrenbreitstein and Coblence, power, which is civilization; a power the Drachenfels and Andernach, are which he would believe it impossible consecrated in the annals of the subthat his nation could acquire ? Per. lime and beautiful. Their beauties are haps no sight in another world will be described in all the books of all the stranger to him than this monument of tourists that have been running about Christian civilization in this. This, Germany in search of the picturesque merely as it regards the visible sub- during the last thirty years. It is quite stantial London—the world of brick safe to launch out ad libitum and ad and stone; for, as to the vast system infinitum in praise of what every body of society which constitutes the real, has agreed to admire; but even you living, yet abstract London, he could may smile, when I talk of a fine view not comprehend that. We might show in Piccadilly, and may suppose it to be him our ultima thule of poverty and seen only from “ the retired rustic vice, and our warm sunny Golden cottages, surrounded by green fields," Hesperides-St Giles and Belgravia; which a French writer describes as exand we might make him understand the isting at the present time in various moral difference between the two; but parts of the same street. I will say my it would not be possible to make him say, nevertheless. The Green Park, as see the moral relations between them. seen from Cambridge House, on a fine
Taking London from the Lee Boo October day, is worth looking at. The point of view only, it is sufficient to fine trees, near, or in the distance, occupy our attention long. The ac- with their varied autumnal hues; the cumulated and ever increasing inven- gentle, grassy slopes, scattered over tions for rsonal convenience—the with sheep; the beautiful, clear sheet very pavement you tread on, is a of water in the fore ground, and the wonder; ay, not only to a savage, but back ground of trees with the towers of to any sort of foreigner; so broad, the glorious old Abbey rising amid clean, and even. The gas, the public them, and the Royal Palace at one exconveyances, the bridges; all these tremity of the prospect ;— this view have been the slow growth of centuries. has often made me think that it would Let us ask our fathers or grandfathers, be pleasant to have lodgings rent-free (if we are so happy as to have them,) for life in the Duke of Cambridge's what was the state of London in their mansion. day; and their account will be very When standing about sun-set at unlike what we see in London now. Hyde Park Corner, I have marked the No gas! No police ! No omnibuses! rich flood of orange-coloured light, No cabs! I will not go farther back; poured over the beautiful buildings and but leave you to follow if you please gateways there; while Grosvenor Place the decreasing number of London lay in shadow, that seemed deep purple means and appliances to her citizens' by the contrast; it has not unfrequently well-being ; even as far as the days of struck me, that some English Claude the conquest by the Normans, or if you or Canaletti might learn colouring here, feel inclined to retrograde more) by if he would condescend to come here the Romans.
to study. Few people will deny to London In gazing at the marble palaces of what is its due as regards utility ; but if the few who constitute the aristocracy you were to talk to any one about its of a great city, it would be difficult to beauty, it is ten to one that you are keep in mind the wretched places inhalaughed at for your pains. As I walked bited by the lowest classes, if one did down Piccadilly yesterday, and admired not occasionally turn out of the broad the improvements lately made theré, highways of wealth into those localities
where vice, and misery, and poverty moral evil so— —that will take as long to abide. Some of these are so near the destroy, in most cases, as it took to dwellings of the lords and princes of the create. All honour, then, to those who land, as to startle by their contrast. It go forth armed to fight against Moral would seem that the extremes of civili- Evil ! Who know, that work as they zation were brought into close juxtapo- may, in their good work, little enough sition, that the high might have the low will seem to have been done when and the poor ever with them, to assist their labours are closed. There are and to console.
such men now at work for the poor But is it so ? What do the dwellers and ignorant in London-many such in the palace know of the poverty and I believe—who spend time, and health, disease and vice in Pimlico ? They and money for the increase of knowmay have hearts “ open as day to melt- ledge and goodness among the poor. ing charity ;" they send money, and They co-operate readily with men of all they give tears and best wishes, and fer- parties and sects, in any new movevent prayers, for the emancipation of ment that is likely to raise the lowest the negro slave, for the civilization of and to improve the worst. They prothe savage, for the religious instruction mote “Societies for visiting and improvof the heathen, and for food and cloth- ing the dwellings of the poor”-baths ing to the starving Irish. They do not and washing houses for the poor"know that within a few hundred yards " Sunday Schools” -“ Ragged Schools" of their happy home are hundreds of -“ Prison Discipline Improvements” human beings, bought and sold to sla- Temperance Societies'-_" Benefit very worse than that of the negro; who Clubs." All these are means, greater unite the brutality of the savage to the
or less in degree, for ameliorating the viler brutality of so-called civilization; evil attendant on-shall I call it halfas ignorant of God and the Gospel as civilization, or overgrown civilization ? the darkest heathen; and as much in To all observing and reflecting minds, want of food and clothing as the poor to men who “deeply meditate such Irish. The other day, after strolling things,” the question must often occur, about Regent Street and Oxford Street, “ Have we now attained the ne plus I went to examine what still remains of ultra of civilization, or are we only half the former notorious St Giles. Fair new way to it ?” Shall we, if we have atstreets, open to the light and the air of tained the highest point of civilization, heaven, are fast rising in the midst of decay and sink gradually back into barthat which was so lately an impene- barism, as did the great monarchies of trable labyrinth of narrow streets and antiquity, or can we retain our position filthy alleys. The Rookery and the by the action of some principle in our Seven Dials will soon become dim tra- civilization which was unknown in theirs ? ditionary horrors—like Whetstone Park I know that our eager, sanguine, pracand Alsatia, St Giles will become the tical men, put their faith in machinery scene of deeds of crime in the novels and railroads—the printing-press and which our grandchildren will write. To political reforms. They say, "Look us, at the present day, it is an interest- at these ! Can you doubt that when ing question to inquire, “ What has be- set fairly to work their utmost, they come of the thousands who so lately will succeed in destroying poverty and crowded the spot ?" It would exceed ignorance ?—and from these two spring the hopeful powers of the most sanguine all the ills that flesh is heir to. None believer in the perfectibility of man, to of these great means for ministering to suppose for one moment that these de- man existed in those ancient monarchies. graded, ignorant, beings have been There is no analogy between the prechanged like the place they inhabited. sent and the past.”
And some of them No. We may destroy a substantial add_" There is the Christian Religion physical evil in a few weeks when we toom-as long as Christianity does not die once set about it in earnest; even though out of Great Britain, Great Britain will it has been the slow growth of as many not die out among the nations. Chriscenturies; but we cannot destroy à tianity is the grand preservative of
modern civilization ; for want of which us. Only now and then, a traveller in India and Egypt, Assyria and Persia, Central Asia or Central America, in Greece and Rome fell victims to their the dephs of Ethiopia, or in the Syrian own overgrown empires.” It may be Desert, lights upon some indistinct thus. It will be cheering to every lover trace of a high state of civilization, long of his country, to believe that the great since passed into oblivion. truths of the Christian religion, rightly However, I am wandering far away understood, and ever present to the souls from my subject; and as the road in of all, will work in conjunction with which I wander leads nowhere, it will those other vast earthly powers to pre- be as well to return to the point from serve the health and strength of this which I started. What has become great kingdom.
of the poor, the profligate, the lawless, It is a sad and painful thought that who have been lately swept from their of the fall of greatness—be it of what haunts in St Giles ? As I said, they it may-an oak, a king, or a kingdom. have not all been converted into virThis feeling is more nearly connected tuous members of society as speedily with religion than is generally supposed as their nest of iniquity has been conit is our veneration for what is above verted into handsome and convenient us—for what is stronger than us—and streets. Did you ever watch a slovenly for what endures, and is typical of the maid clean a dirty floor? She takes infinite, that is wounded. We would away the chief part of the impurity, not have our nation perish, and be for- and then with a scrubbing-brush in gotten, neither our own nor any other hand, she begins to scrub away the renoble nation. I have sometimes tried maining dirt from the middle of the to speculate on the changes of the floor, and sends it all before her into world that might reduce London to a the corners and along the sides of the heap of ruins, interesting only to the
It is upon this plan that St historian and the antiquary, or to the Giles has been cleaned out. The state of those Mexican cities, Copau worst part of the population who could and Palenque, monuments of a forgot- be got at, were sent out of the country ten civilization, at which the traveller
as emigrants, and many Irish went can only gaze and wonder. I know back to Ireland, while the remainder, that all things are possible, and that being driven out of their filthy, uneven this
may be the fate of London wholesome dwellings, as they were pull--strong, gigantic
, imperial, literary ed down, retreated gradually before London. But the thought is painful, the march of cleanliness and order; and the mind instantly takes refuge and many may be found still hovering from it, in consideration of the impro- round the limits of the hated improvebability of such a sequel in the history ments. They have found dwellings in of England. “ It will never be," we the neighbourhood. I have seen many say to ourselves.
“Even if another of these poor wretches-haggard, unconquest should destroy London-the tidy, half-dressed women, with puny visible city—the memory of it can children in their arms, low, brutish never perish from the earth; while men, with broken pipes in their mouths, Chaucer, Shakspeare, Milton, Bacon, standing in the new streets (perhaps and a host of our men of genius, are on the very spot where their home or remembered among men, London will their favourite gin-shop once was), be immortal.” And yet, A., staring round them with amazement at surely there were greater, more power- the alteration, and I have heard them ful, more learned nations than the utter curses on the inroad of that Greeks. They had their poets, per- spirit of improvement which they behaps greater than Homer; their philo- lieved injurious to them and theirs. sophers, perhaps wiser than Patha. On such occasions, I was strongly regoras and Socrates; they had written minded of what must have been the language, arts, and sciences, perhaps sensations of the Red Indian on seeing more perfect than the Greeks, and his hunting ground turned into a city, nothing of all this has come down to or a farm; or those of the Saxon,