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Dread silence follow'd, and his bold heart sunk. 'Sure those within must be asleep or drunk.' He first peep'd in,-then enter'd, but could find None, save one old man, almost deaf and blind. 'Father!' he cried,--the old man answer'd, 'Son!''Have you an axe ?'-the sage replied, 'Here's one.'"The price?' he ask'd. Three mace.'-'I'll give you two. Enough.' He seiz'd it, paid, and on he flew.
Not far from thence-from thence it might be seen-
He said, and moving some few paces back
Oh Fo!' he cried, or ere his eyes grew dim-
Her parents in the tea-pot found Bohea-
And much they wish'd, when every wish was vain,
The whole, when lined with finest porcelain clay,
This green-the sort on which young Hyson died;
Then weep no more for that united pair,
The Old Ledger.
EDITED AND ILLUSTRATED BY ALFRED CROWQUILL.
EING, from my long sedentary habits, not much more locomotive than an oyster, it was with some little difficulty that I resolved to take my physician's advice, and seek in change of air and scene a remedy for the blue and yellow melancholy which too close an attention to business had superinduced.
Those who are accustomed to rove 'from pillar to post,' and, with no other luggage than their cloak, and a widemouthed, all-devouring carpet-bag, take a trip to France or Holland, cannot conceive the feelings of one long pent up in a dingy office, whose personal knowledge even of the localities of the great
city itself wherein he toils, is almost limited to the particular tract invariably traversed in his diurnal transit from his lodging to the counting-house. Like a bird bred in a cage, liberty to him proves rather a source of nervous apprehension than enjoyment.
This is more especially the case with a single gentleman who has passed his fiftieth year in the mechanical routine of an office, and who carries his confirmed love of order and regularity to that solitary sanctum, his suburban dormitory, where the people of the house,' from long experience, know his chronometrical habits, and where he finds everything as ready to his hand as the knocker of the street.door.
On the evening of the momentous day I had named as that of my departure, I sat alone in my snug apartment, and contemplated my lares my household gods in silence. I was about to separate from my books, my pictures, and, as I thought in my melancholy mood, from all my earthly comforts. But the die was cast; although strongly inclined, I was ashamed to retract.
The words of the Earl of Orrery recurred tormentingly to my memory with more than their ordinary force. Whenever we step out of domestic life,' says that nobleman, 'in search of felicity, we come back again disappointed, tired, and chagrined. To which consolatory maxim was added the dogma of old James, our book-keeper, who was as great a stayat-home as a snail, for the last twenty years not having walked farther west than St. Paul's Churchyard, and whose usual peregrinations were limited to a stroll on Tower Hill or the wharf at the Custom House, where he declared the air was as fine and fresh as mortal could desire. When a man is rich,' quoth James, 'there is no pillow so soft as his own; when he is well, he certainly requires no other.'
Among other things which disquieted me, strange to say, was the vision of the sweeper of a certain crossing which I daily used, to whom for years I had regularly paid my penny. I thought he might calculate upon the weekly expense in part payment of his miserable lodging,-for it had become a sort of certain income, and I accused myself of selfishness in not having remembered him, and paid the paltry stipend in advance!
The morning came, and at the appointed hour old Smith appeared at the door to escort me, and carry my luggage to the steam-vessel which was to transport me to-Gravesend!
The garrulity of the old man cheered my spirits. He said he was quite sure the jaunt would do me a world of good, and that, for his part, he thought it was wrong to 'stew' myself up month after month, and stick so close to the desk as I had done, especially as I had latterly been so 'peaking' and queer, and was morally certain that I should come back as fresh as a daisy, and be better than ever. This did encourage me, I must confess, and I followed him as he elbowed through the motley crowd assembled at the wharf, and 'made way for me' with something like alacrity, and seated myself as soon as possible on the nearest bench on the fresh-washed deck. Having slipped a crown into his honest palm, with an injunction to drink my health, Smith departed. Presently, as I looked at the spectators who lined the edge of the wharf, I discerned his jolly countenance peering over their shoulders, and watching me intently.
'Foolish fellow' thought I, in a peevish humour, he will lose his breakfast; for he must be punctual at the office.'
But still I must honestly confess I felt an indescribable gratification in the consciousness that one at least among that mass looked upon me with affection. This feeling became more intense when the vessel was unmoored, and we fairly started; for then, and not till then, as if he feared to be recognized, I observed his head thrust forward to watch me as far as his eye could reach; and when at last I lost sight of his close-cropped, muscular head, it seemed as if the link betwixt me and the greatest city in the world,' was suddenly snapped in twain. The cupola of St. Paul's, the Monument, and the Tower soon vanished
from my view. Sic transit gloria mundi! thought I, and then instant ly smiled at the ridiculous importance I attached to smoky London and its associations.
The voyage, however, proved anything but disagreeable, for 't was
All on a summer's day,'
and the smooth water, on which the sunbeams danced, was only disturbed from its placid repose by the revolution of the labouring wheels. The band played, the passengers walked and talked, and the smart steward in his linen jacket-the arbiter bibendi'-ran up and down supplying the thirsty souls with ginger-beer, bottled ale and porter, and other choice liquids.
For my own part, I experienced a sort of indolent dreaminess—a dull insensibility to the realities of the novel scene around, that was not entirely dissipated until we had nearly reached our destination. I had no sooner effected a landing, and escaped the holiday throng, than I toiled up the narrow High Street, and crossing the London Road, discovered a glimpse of the country. I felt cheered and exhilarated, and having fixed upon a lodging which overlooked a beautiful orchard and garden ground, I ordered dinner; for I experienced an appetite to which I had long been a stranger. I discussed this important affair, and then drawing my chair to the open window, for it was a sultry day, sipped my pint of wine at my ease, the smiling prospect almost imperceptibly dissipating my moodiness, and filling my mind with pleasant thoughts.
At the period of this my first visit, Gravesend was not a third of the extent of the present town. There were then no Bazaars, Tivoli Gardens, or Observatories,-no Royal Baths or Zoological Gardens, giving one a notion that a huge slice of the great Babylon had emigrated to the shores of Kent. It is now, in my opinion, too towny; for the pleasant green lanes and walks have gradually retreated farther a-field before the rapid march of bricks and mortar, and the casual visiter is scarcely able to spare the time to take a peep at the country.
But to return. Having the organ of order largely developed, I was desirous of unpacking my portmanteau, and finding a place for everything, and putting everything in its place, when, lo! I discovered that I had left the key behind. It was not a member of the numerous and united family which I invariably carried in my pocket. After poking at the lock for half an hour, trying all the keys in turn, and almost breaking my back, I found my mother bunch' no witch, and was compelled to summon a smith, who without ceremony 'cut the gordian-knot' in a few seconds.