Our last paper of this veracious and roundabout series related to a period which can only be historical to a great number of readers of this Magazine. Four I saw at the station today with orange-covered books in their hands, who can but have known George IV. by books, and statues, and pictures. Elderly gentlemen were in their prime, old men in their middle age, when he reigned over us. His image remains on coins; on a picture or two hanging here and there in a Club or old-fashioned dining-room; on horseback, as at Trafalgar Square, for example, where I defy any monarch to look more uncomfortable. He turns up in sundry memoirs and histories which have been published of late days; in Mr. Massey’s “History;” in the “Buckingham and Grenville Correspondence;” and gentlemen who have accused a certain writer of disloyalty are referred to those volumes to see whether the picture drawn of George is overcharged. Charon has paddled him off; he has mingled with the crowded republic of the dead. His effigy smiles from a canvas or two. Breechless he bestrides his steed in Trafalgar Square. I believe he still wears his robes at Madame Tussaud’s (Madame herself having quitted Baker Street and life, and found him she modelled t’other side the Stygian stream). On the head of a five-shilling piece we still occasionally come upon him, with St. George, the dragon-slayer, on the other side of the coin. Ah me! did this George slay many dragons? Was he a brave, heroic champion, and rescuer of virgins? Well! well! have you and I overcome all the dragons that assail US? come alive and victorious out of all the caverns which we have entered in life, and succored, at risk of life and limb, all poor distressed persons in whose naked limbs the dragon Poverty is about to fasten his fangs, whom the dragon Crime is poisoning with his horrible breath, and about to crunch up and devour? O my royal liege! O my gracious prince and warrior! YOU a champion to fight that monster? Your feeble spear ever pierce that slimy paunch or plated back? See how the flames come gurgling out of his red-hot brazen throat! What a roar! Nearer and nearer he trails, with eyes flaming like the lamps of a railroad engine. How he squeals, rushing out through the darkness of his tunnel! Now he is near. Now he is HERE. And now — what? — lance, shield, knight, feathers, horse and all? O horror, horror! Next day, round the monster’s cave, there lie a few bones more. You, who wish to keep yours in your skins, be thankful that you are not called upon to go out and fight dragons. Be grateful that they don’t sally out and swallow you. Keep a wise distance from their caves, lest you pay too dearly for approaching them. Remember that years passed, and whole districts were ravaged, before the warrior came who was able to cope with the devouring monster. When that knight DOES make his appearance, with all my heart let us go out and welcome him with our best songs, huzzas, and laurel wreaths, and eagerly recognize his valor and victory. But he comes only seldom. Countless knights were slain before St. George won the battle. In the battle of life are we all going to try for the honors of championship? If we can do our duty, if we can keep our place pretty honorably through the combat, let us say, Laus Deo! at the end of it, as the firing ceases, and the night falls over the field.
The old were middle-aged, the elderly were in their prime, then, thirty years since, when yon royal George was still fighting the dragon. As for you, my pretty lass, with your saucy hat and golden tresses tumbled in your net, and you, my spruce young gentleman in your mandarin’s cap (the young folks at the country-place where I am staying are so attired), your parents were unknown to each other, and wore short frocks and short jackets, at the date of this five-shilling piece. Only today I met a dog-cart crammed with children — children with moustaches and mandarin caps — children with saucy hats and hair-nets — children in short frocks and knickerbockers (surely the prettiest boy’s dress that has appeared these hundred years)— children from twenty years of age to six; and father, with mother by his side, driving in front — and on father’s countenance I saw that very laugh which I remember perfectly in the time when this crown-piece was coined — in HIS time, in King George’s time, when we were school-boys seated on the same form. The smile was just as broad, as bright, as jolly, as I remember it in the past — unforgotten, though not seen or thought of, for how many decades of years, and quite and instantly familiar, though so long out of sight.
Any contemporary of that coin who takes it up and reads the inscription round the laurelled head, “Georgius IV. Britanniarum Rex. Fid. Def. 1823,” if he will but look steadily enough at the round, and utter the proper incantation, I dare say may conjure back his life there. Look well, my elderly friend, and tell me what you see? First, I see a Sultan, with hair, beautiful hair, and a crown of laurels round his head, and his name is Georgius Rex. Fid. Def., and so on. Now the Sultan has disappeared; and what is that I see? A boy — a boy in a jacket. He is at a desk; he has great books before him, Latin and Greek books and dictionaries. Yes, but behind the great books, which he pretends to read, is a little one, with pictures, which he is really reading. It is — yes, I can read now — it is the “Heart of Mid Lothian,” by the author of “Waverley”— or, no, it is “Life in London, or the Adventures of Corinthian Tom, Jeremiah Hawthorn, and their friend Bob Logic,” by Pierce Egan; and it has pictures — oh! such funny pictures! As he reads, there comes behind the boy, a man, a dervish, in a black gown, like a woman, and a black square cap, and he has a book in each hand, and he seizes the boy who is reading the picture-book, and lays his head upon one of his books, and smacks it with the other. The boy makes faces, and so that picture disappears.
Now the boy has grown bigger. HE has got on a black gown and cap, something like the dervish. He is at a table, with ever so many bottles on it, and fruit, and tobacco; and other young dervishes come in. They seem as if they were singing. To them enters an old moollah, he takes down their names, and orders them all to go to bed. What is this? a carriage, with four beautiful horses all galloping — a man in red is blowing a trumpet. Many young men are on the carriage — one of them is driving the horses. Surely they won’t drive into that? — ah! they have all disappeared. And now I see one of the young men alone. He is walking in a street — a dark street — presently a light comes to a window. There is the shadow of a lady who passes. He stands there till the light goes out. Now he is in a room scribbling on a piece of paper, and kissing a miniature every now and then. They seem to be lines each pretty much of a length. I can read heart, smart, dart; Mary, fairy; Cupid, stupid; true, you; and never mind what more. Bah! it is bosh. Now see, he has got a gown on again, and a wig of white hair on his head, and he is sitting with other dervishes in a great room full of them, and on a throne in the middle is an old Sultan in scarlet, sitting before a desk, and he wears a wig too — and the young man gets up and speaks to him. And now what is here? He is in a room with ever so many children, and the miniature hanging up. Can it be a likeness of that woman who is sitting before that copper urn, with a silver vase in her hand, from which she is pouring hot liquor into cups? Was SHE ever a fairy? She is as fat as a hippopotamus now. He is sitting on a divan by the fire. He has a paper on his knees. Read the name of the paper. It is the Superfine Review. It inclines to think that Mr. Dickens is not a true gentleman, that Mr. Thackeray is not a true gentleman, and that when the one is pert and the other is arch, we, the gentlemen of the Superfine Review, think, and think rightly, that we have some cause to be indignant. The great cause why modern humor and modern sentimentalism repel us, is that they are unwarrantably familiar. Now, Mr. Sterne, the Superfine Reviewer thinks, “was a true sentimentalist, because he was ABOVE ALL THINGS a true gentleman.” The flattering inference is obvious: let us be thankful for having an elegant moralist watching over us, and learn, if not too old, to imitate his high-bred politeness and catch his unobtrusive grace. If we are unwarrantably familiar, we know who is not. If we repel by pertness, we know who never does. If our language offends, we know whose is always modest. O pity! The vision has disappeared off the silver, the images of youth and the past are vanishing away! We who have lived before railways were made, belong to another world. In how many hours could the Prince of Wales drive from Brighton to London, with a light carriage built expressly, and relays of horses longing to gallop the next stage? Do you remember Sir Somebody, the coachman of the Age, who took our half-crown so affably? It was only yesterday; but what a gulf between now and then! THEN was the old world. Stage-coaches, more or less swift, riding-horses, pack-horses, highwaymen, knights in armor, Norman invaders, Roman legions, Druids, Ancient Britons painted blue, and so forth — all these belong to the old period. I will concede a halt in the midst of it, and allow that gunpowder and printing tended to modernize the world. But your railroad starts the new era, and we of a certain age belong to the new time and the old one. We are of the time of chivalry as well as the Black Prince or Sir Walter Manny. We are of the age of steam. We have stepped out of the old world on to “Brunel’s” vast deck, and across the waters ingens patet tellus. Towards what new continent are we wending? to what new laws, new manners, new politics, vast new expanses of liberties unknown as yet, or only surmised? I used to know a man who had invented a flying-machine. “Sir,” he would say, “give me but five hundred pounds, and I will make it. It is so simple of construction that I tremble daily lest some other person should light upon and patent my discovery.” Perhaps faith was wanting; perhaps the five hundred pounds. He is dead, and somebody else must make the flying-machine. But that will only be a step forward on the journey already begun since we quitted the old world. There it lies on the other side of yonder embankments. You young folks have never seen it; and Waterloo is to you no more than Agincourt, and George IV. than Sardanapalus. We elderly people have lived in that praerailroad world, which has passed into limbo and vanished from under us. I tell you it was firm under our feet once, and not long ago. They have raised those railroad embankments up, and shut off the old world that was behind them. Climb up that bank on which the irons are laid, and look to the other side — it is gone. There IS no other side. Try and catch yesterday. Where is it? Here is a Times newspaper, dated Monday 26th, and this is Tuesday 27th. Suppose you deny there was such a day as yesterday?
We who lived before railways, and survive out of the ancient world, are like Father Noah and his family out of the Ark. The children will gather round and say to us patriarchs, “Tell us, grandpapa, about the old world.” And we shall mumble our old stories; and we shall drop off one by one; and there will be fewer and fewer of us, and these very old and feeble. There will be but ten praerailroadites left: then three then two — then one — then 0! If the hippopotamus had the least sensibility (of which I cannot trace any signs either in his hide or his face), I think he would go down to the bottom of his tank, and never come up again. Does he not see that he belongs to bygone ages, and that his great hulking barrel of a body is out of place in these times? What has he in common with the brisk young life surrounding him? In the watches of the night, when the keepers are asleep, when the birds are on one leg, when even the little armadillo is quiet, and the monkeys have ceased their chatter — he, I mean the hippopotamus, and the elephant, and the long-necked giraffe, perhaps may lay their heads together and have a colloquy about the great silent antediluvian world which they remember, where mighty monsters floundered through the ooze, crocodiles basked on the banks, and dragons darted out of the caves and waters before men were made to slay them. We who lived before railways are antediluvians — we must pass away. We are growing scarcer every day; and old — old — very old relicts of the times when George was still fighting the Dragon.
Not long since, a company of horse-riders paid a visit to our watering-place. We went to see them, and I bethought me that young Walter Juvenis, who was in the place, might like also to witness the performance. A pantomime is not always amusing to persons who have attained a certain age; but a boy at a pantomime is always amused and amusing, and to see his pleasure is good for most hypochondriacs.
We sent to Walter’s mother, requesting that he might join us, and the kind lady replied that the boy had already been at the morning performance of the equestrians, but was most eager to go in the evening likewise. And go he did; and laughed at all Mr. Merryman’s remarks, though he remembered them with remarkable accuracy, and insisted upon waiting to the very end of the fun, and was only induced to retire just before its conclusion by representations that the ladies of the party would be incommoded if they were to wait and undergo the rush and trample of the crowd round about. When this fact was pointed out to him, he yielded at once, though with a heavy heart, his eyes looking longingly towards the ring as we retreated out of the booth. We were scarcely clear of the place, when we heard “God save the Queen,” played by the equestrian band, the signal that all was over. Our companion entertained us with scraps of the dialogue on our way home — precious crumbs of wit which he had brought away from that feast. He laughed over them again as we walked under the stars. He has them now, and takes them out of the pocket of his memory, and crunches a bit, and relishes it with a sentimental tenderness, too, for he is, no doubt, back at school by this time; the holidays are over; and Doctor Birch’s young friends have reassembled.
Queer jokes, which caused a thousand simple mouths to grin! As the jaded Merryman uttered them to the old gentleman with the whip, some of the old folks in the audience, I dare say, indulged in reflections of their own. There was one joke — I utterly forget it — but it began with Merryman saying what he had for dinner. He had mutton for dinner, at one o’clock, after which “he had to COME TO BUSINESS.” And then came the point. Walter Juvenis, Esq., Rev. Doctor Birch’s, Market Rodborough, if you read this, will you please send me a line, and let me know what was the joke Mr. Merryman made about having his dinner? YOU remember well enough. But do I want to know? Suppose a boy takes a favorite, long-cherished lump of cake out of his pocket, and offers you a bite? Merci! The fact is, I DON’T care much about knowing that joke of Mr. Merryman’s.
But whilst he was talking about his dinner, and his mutton, and his landlord, and his business, I felt a great interest about Mr. M. in private life — about his wife, lodgings, earnings, and general history, and I dare say was forming a picture of those in my mind — wife cooking the mutton: children waiting for it; Merryman in his plain clothes, and so forth; during which contemplation the joke was uttered and laughed at, and Mr. M., resuming his professional duties, was tumbling over head and heels. Do not suppose I am going, sicut est mos, to indulge in moralities about buffoons, paint, motley, and mountebanking. Nay, Prime Ministers rehearse their jokes; Opposition leaders prepare and polish them; Tabernacle preachers must arrange them in their minds before they utter them. All I mean is, that I would like to know any one of these performers thoroughly, and out of his uniform: that preacher, and why in his travels this and that point struck him; wherein lies his power of pathos, humor, eloquence; — that Minister of State, and what moves him, and how his private heart is working; — I would only say that, at a certain time of life certain things cease to interest: but about SOME things when we cease to care, what will be the use of life, sight, hearing? Poems are written, and we cease to admire. Lady Jones invites us, and we yawn; she ceases to invite us, and we are resigned. The last time I saw a ballet at the opera — oh! it is many years ago — I fell asleep in the stalls, wagging my head in insane dreams, and I hope affording amusement to the company, while the feet of five hundred nymphs were cutting flicflacs on the stage at a few paces’ distance. Ah, I remember a different state of things! Credite posteri. To see those nymphs — gracious powers, how beautiful they were! That leering, painted, shrivelled, thin-armed, thick-ankled old thing, cutting dreary capers, coming thumping down on her board out of time — THAT an opera-dancer? Pooh! My dear Walter, the great difference between MY time and yours, who will enter life some two or three years hence, is that, now, the dancing women and singing women are ludicrously old, out of time, and out of tune; the paint is so visible, and the dinge and wrinkles of their wretched old cotton stockings, that I am surprised how anybody can like to look at them. And as for laughing at ME for falling asleep, I can’t understand a man of sense doing otherwise. In MY time, a la bonne heure. In the reign of George IV., I give you my honor, all the dancers at the opera were as beautiful as Houris. Even in William IV.‘s time, when I think of Duvernay prancing in as the Bayadere — I say it was a vision of loveliness such as mortal eyes can’t see now-a-days. How well I remember the tune to which she used to appear! Kaled used to say to the Sultan, “My lord, a troop of those dancing and singing gurls called Bayaderes approaches,” and, to the clash of cymbals, and the thumping of my heart, in she used to dance! There has never been anything like it — never. There never will be — I laugh to scorn old people who tell me about your Noblet, your Montessu, your Vestris, your Parisot — pshaw, the senile twaddlers! And the impudence of the young men, with their music and their dancers of today! I tell you the women are dreary old creatures. I tell you one air in an opera is just like another, and they send all rational creatures to sleep. Ah, Ronzi de Begnis, thou lovely one! Ah, Caradoni, thou smiling angel! Ah, Malibran! Nay, I will come to modern times, and acknowledge that Lablache was a very good singer thirty years ago (though Porto was the boy for me): and then we had Ambrogetti, and Curioni, and Donzelli, a rising young singer.
But what is most certain and lamentable is the decay of stage beauty since the days of George IV. Think of Sontag! I remember her in Otello and the Donna del Lago in ‘28. I remember being behind the scenes at the opera (where numbers of us young fellows of fashion used to go), and seeing Sontag let her hair fall down over her shoulders previous to her murder by Donzelli. Young fellows have never seen beauty like THAT, heard such a voice, seen such hair, such eyes. Don’t tell ME! A man who has been about town since the reign of George IV., ought he not to know better than you young lads who have seen nothing? The deterioration of women is lamentable; and the conceit of the young fellows more lamentable still, that they won’t see this fact, but persist in thinking their time as good as ours.
Bless me! when I was a lad, the stage was covered with angels, who sang, acted, and danced. When I remember the Adelphi, and the actresses there: when I think of Miss Chester, and Miss Love, and Mrs. Serle at Sadler’s Wells, and her forty glorious pupils — of the Opera and Noblet, and the exquisite young Taglioni, and Pauline Leroux, and a host more! One much-admired being of those days I confess I never cared for, and that was the chief MALE dancer — a very important personage then, with a bare neck, bare arms, a tunic, and a hat and feathers, who used to divide the applause with the ladies, and who has now sunk down a trap-door for ever. And this frank admission ought to show that I am not your mere twaddling laudator temporis acti — your old fogy who can see no good except in his own time.
They say that claret is better now-a-days, and cookery much improved since the days of MY monarch — of George IV. Pastry Cookery is certainly not so good. I have often eaten half a crown’s worth (including, I trust, ginger-beer) at our school pastry-cook’s, and that is a proof that the pastry must have been very good, for could I do as much now? I passed by the pastry-cook’s shop lately, having occasion to visit my old school. It looked a very dingy old baker’s; misfortunes may have come over him — those penny tarts certainly did NOT look so nice as I remember them: but he may have grown careless as he has grown old (I should judge him to be now about ninety-six years of age), and his hand may have lost its cunning.
Not that we were not great epicures. I remember how we constantly grumbled at the quantity of the food in our master’s house — which on my conscience I believe was excellent and plentiful — and how we tried once or twice to eat him out of house and home. At the pastry-cook’s we may have over-eaten ourselves (I have admitted half a crown’s worth for my own part, but I don’t like to mention the REAL figure for fear of perverting the present generation of boys by my monstrous confession)— we may have eaten too much, I say. We did; but what then? The school apothecary was sent for: a couple of small globules at night, a trifling preparation of senna in the morning, and we had not to go to school, so that the draught was an actual pleasure.
For our amusements, besides the games in vogue, which were pretty much in old times as they are now (except cricket, par exemple — and I wish the present youth joy of their bowling, and suppose Armstrong and Whitworth will bowl at them with light field-pieces next), there were novels — ah! I trouble you to find such novels in the present day! O Scottish Chiefs, didn’t we weep over you! O Mysteries of Udolpho, didn’t I and Briggs Minor draw pictures out of you, as I have said? Efforts, feeble indeed, but still giving pleasure to us and our friends. “I say, old boy, draw us Vivaldi tortured in the Inquisition,” or, “Draw us Don Quixote and the windmills, you know,” amateurs would say, to boys who had a love of drawing. “Peregrine Pickle” we liked, our fathers admiring it, and telling us (the sly old boys) it was capital fun; but I think I was rather bewildered by it, though “Roderick Random” was and remains delightful. I don’t remember having Sterne in the school library, no doubt because the works of that divine were not considered decent for young people. Ah! not against thy genius, O father of Uncle Toby and Trim, would I say a word in disrespect. But I am thankful to live in times when men no longer have the temptation to write so as to call blushes on women’s cheeks, and would shame to whisper wicked allusions to honest boys. Then, above all, we had WALTER SCOTT, the kindly, the generous, the pure — the companion of what countless delightful hours; the purveyor of how much happiness; the friend whom we recall as the constant benefactor of our youth! How well I remember the type and the brownish paper of the old duodecimo “Tales of my Landlord!” I have never dared to read the “Pirate,” and the “Bride of Lammermoor,” or “Kenilworth,” from that day to this, because the finale is unhappy, and people die, and are murdered at the end. But “Ivanhoe,” and “Quentin Durward!” Oh! for a half-holiday, and a quiet corner, and one of those books again! Those books, and perhaps those eyes with which we read them; and, it may be, the brains behind the eyes! It may be the tart was good; but how fresh the appetite was! If the gods would give me the desire of my heart, I should be able to write a story which boys would relish for the next few dozen of centuries. The boy-critic loves the story: grown up, he loves the author who wrote the story. Hence the kindly tie is established between writer and reader, and lasts pretty nearly for life. I meet people now who don’t care for Walter Scott, or the “Arabian Nights;” I am sorry for them, unless they in their time have found THEIR romancer — their charming Scheherazade. By the way, Walter, when you are writing, tell me who is the favorite novelist in the fourth form now? have you got anything so good and kindly as dear Miss Edgeworth’s Frank? It used to belong to a fellow’s sisters generally; but though he pretended to despise it, and said, “Oh, stuff for girls!” he read it; and I think there were one or two passages which would try my eyes now, were I to meet with the little book.
As for Thomas and Jeremiah (it is only my witty way of calling Tom and Jerry), I went to the British Museum the other day on purpose to get it; but somehow, if you will press the question so closely, on reperusal, Tom and Jerry is not so brilliant as I had supposed it to be. The pictures are just as fine as ever; and I shook hands with broad-backed Jerry Hawthorn and Corinthian Tom with delight, after many years’ absence. But the style of the writing, I own, was not pleasing to me; I even thought it a little vulgar — well! well! other writers have been considered vulgar — and as a description of the sports and amusements of London in the ancient times, more curious than amusing.
But the pictures! — oh! the pictures are noble still! First, there is Jerry arriving from the country, in a green coat and leather gaiters, and being measured for a fashionable suit at Corinthian House, by Corinthian Tom’s tailor. Then away for the career of pleasure and fashion. The park! delicious excitement! The theatre! the saloon!! the green-room!!! Rapturous bliss — the opera itself! and then perhaps to Temple Bar, to KNOCK DOWN A CHARLEY there! There are Jerry and Tom, with their tights and little cocked hats, coming from the opera — very much as gentlemen in waiting on royalty are habited now. There they are at Almack’s itself, amidst a crowd of high-bred personages, with the Duke of Clarence himself looking at them dancing. Now, strange change, they are in Tom Cribb’s parlor, where they don’t seem to be a whit less at home than in fashion’s gilded halls: and now they are at Newgate, seeing the irons knocked off the malefactors’ legs previous to execution. What hardened ferocity in the countenance of the desperado in yellow breeches! What compunction in the face of the gentleman in black (who, I suppose, has been forging), and who clasps his hands, and listens to the chaplain! Now we haste away to merrier scenes: to Tattersall’s (ah gracious powers! what a funny fellow that actor was who performed Dicky Green in that scene at the play!); and now we are at a private party, at which Corinthian Tom is waltzing (and very gracefully, too, as you must confess,) with Corinthian Kate, whilst Bob Logic, the Oxonian, is playing on the piano!
“After,” the text says, “THE OXONIAN had played several pieces of lively music, he requested as a favor that Kate and his friend Tom would perform a waltz. Kate without any hesitation immediately stood up. Tom offered his hand to his fascinating partner, and the dance took place. The plate conveys a correct representation of the ‘gay scene’ at that precise moment. The anxiety of THE OXONIAN to witness the attitudes of the elegant pair had nearly put a stop to their movements. On turning round from the pianoforte and presenting his comical MUG, Kate could scarcely suppress a laugh.”
And no wonder; just look at it now (as I have copied it to the best of my humble ability), and compare Master Logic’s countenance and attitude with the splendid elegance of Tom!10 Now every London man is weary and blase. There is an enjoyment of life in these young bucks of 1823 which contrasts strangely with our feelings of 1860. Here, for instance, is a specimen of their talk and walk. “‘If,’ says LOGIC—‘if ENJOYMENT is your MOTTO, you may make the most of an evening at Vauxhall, more than at any other place in the metropolis. It is all free and easy. Stay as long as you like, and depart when you think proper.’—‘Your description is so flattering,’ replied JERRY, ‘that I do not care how soon the time arrives for us to start.’ LOGIC proposed a ‘BIT OF A STROLL’ in order to get rid of an hour or two, which was immediately accepted by Tom and Jerry. A TURN or two in Bond Street, a STROLL through Piccadilly, a LOOK IN at TATTERSALL’S, a RAMBLE through Pall Mall, and a STRUT on the Corinthian path, fully occupied the time of our heroes until the hour for dinner arrived, when a few glasses of TOM’S rich wines soon put them on the qui vive. VAUXHALL was then the object in view, and the TRIO started, bent upon enjoying the pleasures which this place so amply affords.”
10 This refers to an illustrated edition of the work.
How nobly those inverted commas, those italics, those capitals, bring out the writer’s wit and relieve the eye! They are as good as jokes, though you mayn’t quite perceive the point. Mark the varieties of lounge in which the young men indulge — now A STROLL, then A LOOK IN, then A RAMBLE, and presently A STRUT. When George, Prince of Wales, was twenty, I have read in an old Magazine, “the Prince’s lounge” was a peculiar manner of walking which the young bucks imitated. At Windsor George III. had A CAT’S PATH— a sly early walk which the good old king took in the gray morning before his household was astir. What was the Corinthian path here recorded? Does any antiquary know? And what were the rich wines which our friends took, and which enabled them to enjoy Vauxhall? Vauxhall is gone, but the wines which could occasion such a delightful perversion of the intellect as to enable it to enjoy ample pleasures there, what were they?
So the game of life proceeds, until Jerry Hawthorn, the rustic, is fairly knocked up by all this excitement and is forced to go home, and the last picture represents him getting into the coach at the “White Horse Cellar,” he being one of six inside; whilst his friends shake him by the hand; whilst the sailor mounts on the roof; whilst the Jews hang round with oranges, knives, and sealing-wax: whilst the guard is closing the door. Where are they now, those sealing-wax venders? where are the guards? where are the jolly teams? where are the coaches? and where the youth that climbed inside and out of them; that heard the merry horn which sounds no more; that saw the sun rise over Stonehenge; that rubbed away the bitter tears at night after parting as the coach sped on the journey to school and London; that looked out with beating heart as the milestones flew by, for the welcome corner where began home and holidays?
It is night now: and here is home. Gathered under the quiet roof elders and children lie alike at rest. In the midst of a great peace and calm, the stars look out from the heavens. The silence is peopled with the past; sorrowful remorses for sins and short-comings — memories of passionate joys and griefs rise out of their graves, both now alike calm and sad. Eyes, as I shut mine, look at me, that have long ceased to shine. The town and the fair landscape sleep under the starlight, wreathed in the autumn mists. Twinkling among the houses a light keeps watch here and there, in what may be a sick chamber or two. The clock tolls sweetly in the silent air. Here is night and rest. An awful sense of thanks makes the heart swell, and the head bow, as I pass to my room through the sleeping house, and feel as though a hushed blessing were upon it.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00