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and pensioners, who went now and then, as the old applewoman told me, to drop a salt tear upon the spot, to presarve the memory of the kindest-hearted sowl and most cliverest 'potecary, as ever gave comfort to a sore heart or physic to a sick stomach.”
I was sick at heart myself, and as I strolled some time longer in the noontide stillness of the squares and streets, a solemnity of feeling stole insensibly across my mind. There was something powerfully impressive in the contrast exhibited by this Sunday solicitude in the midst of the most populous city of Europe, with the bustling holiday enjoyment of continental towns. When I thought of the Corso of Rome, the Prado of Madrid, and the Boulevards of Paris, I could not help moralizing and philosophizing awhile. The novelty of the actual scene before me struck forcibly on my senses, and its policy gave ample employment for reflection. Some hours' pondering on the question resolved themselves to a decision, and I thought myself then, and I think so even now, tolerably fitted to come to a fair judgment; for I had the seven years' force of prime-of-life observation on the one hand, and the whole strength of three times that period of early impression on the other—all kept in balance by the temperate and unbiassed desire for determining with truth. I think, then, decidedly that the Sunday recreations of the Continent are, after all
, to be preferred to the Sabbath solemnity of England. That the permission to be gay on one day in the week is more likely to raise the mind in cheerfulness to Heaven than the command to be dull. That the evils consequent on dancing are light in comparison with those which attend on drunkenness : and that policy, piety, manners, and morals, stand, every one, a better chance of being served in the ball-room than in the gin-shop. I do not, however, while advocating universal enjoyment, object to occasional humiliations ; and I think an occasional day of denial and gloom might produce on the multitude an effect such as I myself then experienced, but which a weekly recurrence unquestionably fails to bring about. The Fasti and the Festivals, the Saturnalia and the Carnival, of ancient and modern Rome, have caused, and do cause, by their frequency and their licentiousness, but a weariness of dissipation, which it is vain to call pleasure. Arguing by analogy, I may safely say that the rigid observance of our Sundays is productive less of religion than of lassitude; while the incongruity of throwing wide the public-houses, and closing up the most harmless exhibitions, makes me blush that in a land of such true and wise enjoyment, cant and hypocrisy should be found sufficiently strong to sanction and uphold the degrading anomaly.
But I am afraid of treating flippantly this serious subject. It has puzzled wiser heads than mine; and I can only repeat that the impression made on me was certainly great, and I believe good. My thoughts seemed to run in quest of some object to repose on, or at least of some place where they might fittingly pursue their serious and measured march. I felt raised above the vanities of the world, and indifferent to its fantastic pomps. I felt a sort of pious pride amid my loneliness : and I dwelt pleasedly on the literal truth-Magna civitas, magna solitudo. I had no longer any desire to meet an acquaintance or recognise a friend. I avoided the way to the lounging places, and strolled thoughtfully on to the Regent's park, near which I lost myself in a wilderness of cottages and villas, that had sprung up like magic since my last visit to London. One little piece of classic curiosity here struck particularly my attention. It was a brass plate on a door, with the inscription " DIGAMMA Cottage," which was chosen, I suppose, to puzzle the vulgar; while the F placed above it, though comprehensible to the learned, serves only to announce to the common eye, through its resemblance to one of the characters of our alphabet, the name of the celebrated owner. This information I obtained from a butcher's boy, who was passing, and who assured me that “the F stood for Foscolo, the great Italian poet, and that Digamma was the Latin for Die Game;" which proved, what all the world said, that he was a true patriot into the bargain!
Evening was closing in. I bethought me of my distance from any place likely to afford refreshment, so I turned my face to the east, like the ancient Haruspices, when they contemplated a sacrifice or a feast. The streets became gradually more and more deserted, and I walked on listlessly through the whole line of squares, till I found myself opposite the peristyle of St. Martin's church. I gazed awhile in admiration of this beautiful edifice, and stooped down astonished to perceive that I strolled upon tomb-stones in the very highway, whose half-worn inscriptions I puzzled myself to decypher, with as much earnestness and as little success as attended Doctor Clarke's attempts to elucidate the meaning of the hieroglyphics of the pillar of ON in the land of Goshen. While thus occupied I caught a low murmured succession of monotonous sounds, which seemed to come from within. A door was half open. I cautiously entered the church, and the hollow accents of the curate's voice, and the nasal tones of the clerk, who snuffled out the responses of the evening service, told me that I was in the house of prayer ; where literally two or three were gathered together. What a contrast to the gaudy, fine-dressed, flaunting display, assembled under the same dome that morning! But the immediate and direct appeal to the heart came too forcibly to allow me to indulge in reflections of bitterness. The most brilliant congregation in the universe—the most overflowing appearance of piety and pomp-could not have done me half so much good as the twilight loneliness of the church, the faint ray falling through the stained glass on the white surplice of the curate, whose calm demeanour, Welsh accent, and simple garb, assorted so well with the homeliness and humility of original christianity. The service went slowly on-no hurrying or slurring, because the great folks of the parish were away—and the blessing being over, the worthy minister walked from the reading-desk, preceded by the clerk, and advanced in the direction where I stood leaning against a pillar. When he reached the north-west corner of the church, I discovered, to my great surprise, three women and as many men, each couple provided with an infant, all of whom had slept as soundly during the service, as the bishop is said to do during an ordination sermon. The little things were now, however, roused by their intended godfathers and godmothers, and the ceremony of the christening commenced. Its simple solemnity was really and irresistibly affecting. The quiet conduct of the women, and the pastoral air of the minister, the steady visage of the old clerk, and the absence of all the stateliness of superstition, formed a combination of much which must have attended the primitive plainness of our religion, when it held no mystery and knew no trick.R I contrasted all this with the gilt-gingerbread processions and paltry mummeries I had had before my eyes for the last seven years. I was considerably moved by the scene before me. I am not ashamed to acknowledge even, that when the clergyman read the beautiful passage from the Gospel of St. Mark, beginning “ They brought young children to Christ," I felt my eyes brim-full of tears, and when I heard the plaintive cries of the little innocents, as he sprinkled them with the water for “the mystical washing away of sin," my cheeks were bedewed with a moisture, which seemed to me, at the moment, not quite unsanctified.
When the parents retired with their precious charges, and the shadow of the clergyman faded in the distance of the side aisle, and the feeble step of the old clerk died away at the door of the vestry, I went out into the street. It was almost dark. The little lamps began to throw forth their twinkling light, mingled here and there with the brilliant illumination from a gas-conductor. I pursued my way rapidly to my inn, avoiding to cast my eyes to the right or the left, for fear of being shocked by the opening orgies of the night-revellers; those sabbathofferings of the dissolute, which, in my actual mood, would have been insupportably revolting.
The anchor's weigh’d—at length we part;
I leave thee with an aching heart.
In this dark hour, a parting tear ;
As though the deck were pleasure's bier.
My heart hath been from earliest days ;
Hath been the theme of manhood's praise.
And sorrow lays her chilling hand,
Shall rise o'er thee, my native land !
When time flew by on freshen’d wing,
For life was in its early spring.
The clouds have when the sun is set,
For memory brightly gilds them yet.
coZENING COUSINS AND CAUSTIC COMPLIMENTS. “ I am no herald to enquire of men's pedigrees; it sufficeth me if I know their virtues.”-SIDNEY.
“ I do fawn on men and hug them hard,
And after scandal them. -SHAKSPEARE. WERE I a monk, I would rather be a Cenobite than of the Eremitical class; I am by nature much more gregarious than an affecter of
From open haunts and popularity.” Solitude once pronounced its own condemnation, when it enabled me to read Zimmerman's book all through, and the only character that excites in my mind the smallest misanthropy is a misanthrope: but still society, as it is now constituted in the genteel world, exacts so many sacrifices without rendering any equivalent, compels one to live so much for others and so little for one's self, that I question whether the companionship of rural shades be not more sociable, as it is indisputably more beneficial. “Nunquam minus solus quam cùm solus," said an ancient moralist; and I may reverse the dictum and exclaim, never more alone than when in a mob. I care not in what “ dingle or bushy dell” I bury myself in the country, for its silence and seclusion constitute its natural charms; but the loneliness of a crowd, the solitude of a city, the acquaintanceship of familiar strangers and strange familiars--ugh! the recollection is heart-sickening. However simple and philosophical in your personal habits, you must begin, of course, with a handsome establishment, for your genteel friends will not come to a shabby house; that is to say, you must live for visitants who call upon you to kill time and dine with you, to share your bottle, not your heart;—for horses whom you hate to employ, if, like me, you prefer walking; and for numerous domestics, who invariably do less, the less they have to do. A grand prior of France once abusing Palaprat for beating his servant, he replied in a rage, “ Zounds! sir, his conduct is unpardonable ; for though I have but this one I am every bit as badly served as you who have thirty!" Had I been even rich enough to purchase the right of becoming a slave to my own establishment, and of sacrificing the reality of enjoyment for its appearances, I do not think I should have fallen into a trap so poorly baited ; but my means were hardly adequate to the purchase of the wreaths and gilding in which the victims of fashion must be tricked out, though I was quite rich enough to make myself happy in my snug little cottage between Sutton and Epsom.
Though the world has very little gratitude for those who become its slaves, it hates those who appear to be independent of it. Nothing could be more innocent than my life, devoted as it was to one or two friends, books, music, and the muses, who, it is well known, like most other blue stockings, are very chaste and virtuous old maids ; but, because I did not choose to visit every body, I got the reputation of being a person whom nobody visited, which, in default of any actual peg on whicle to hang an accusation, was generally repeated with sundry dark inuendocs and mysterious looks, though the more charitable did me the justice to admit that I was nothing more than a humorist-an ascetick-a little touched here, as they said with a significant tap of the forehead. This I heeded not, but I thought it odd that my rela
tions, of whom I had an extensive circle in London, rarely honoured me with the smallest notice, though I rather sought to excuse than aggravate their neglect. After all, said I to myself, what is the justice of this claim upon the affections founded upon relationship? There is the moral affection of children towards their parents standing upon the basis of gratitude, and there is the still stronger affection of parents towards their offspring, which is a natural instinct implanted for the preservation of the species; but how mere consanguinity, attended, perhaps, with the greatest possible dissimilarity of habits, is to establish any legitimate claim upon the heart, I am utterly at a loss to explain. Why uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces, and cousins to the third and fourth degree, aliens to my tastes, though kinsmen by blood, should conceive themselves to have a better title than the congenial friends of my selection, I profess not to comprehend. Job complains that even his kinsfolk have failed him, and why should I expect mine to be unalterable in their attachments ?
Thus did I argue in justification of my numerous relatives who were too busy to visit me, even by the post ; and candour compels me to admit that the charge of their neglect is to be received with certain qualifications and exceptions. By some mysterious affinity the sunflower turns towards the luminary whence it derives its name; lunatics preserve an inexplicable sympathy with the moon; an occult attraction directs the needle to the north ; the divining rod oscillates in obscure communion with the subterranean spring ; and by some such recondite law did the affections of my kindred duly point southwest from London, and the fountains of their hearts reveal themselves to me at a certain month of the year, nay, at a certain week of that month, even on certain days of that week, nor could I ever discover the cause of my hebdomadal popularity, though I remarked that it invariably coincided with the celebration of the Epsom races. At this period the whole genealogical tree came to plant itself upon my lawn, and all the branches of cognation spread themselves over my cottage. I felt like a patriarch rejoicing in the numbers of his tribe; and though I subsequently regretted the havoc of my poultry-yard, and the attenuation of my favourite bin of port, I delighted in the recovery of my kindly feelings towards my relatives, and in this irrefragable proof that they wanted nothing but a favourable opportunity for testifying their affectionate and disinterested regard. So far from any appearance of coldness and indifference on their parts, many of them were of opinion that they would be enabled to leave London about the same period next year, and, knowing that I hated ceremony, frankly invited themselves to renew their visit.
Circumstances shortly enabled them to give a fuller developement to their cordial and genuine attachment. An old fellow collegian left me a considerable legacy, upon the strength of which I married a lady of great respectability and congenial age, with whom I had been acquainted nearly fifteen years; and in the three first months, I think, I paid eleven pounds for postage of letters from collaterals, whose affinity it would have puzzled the Heralds' College to discover ; besides receiving, Heaven knows how many, visits from claimants of consanguinity equally near, and dear, and unknown. Oh, the worlds of good advice showered upon me when it was whispered that I was about to marry! I began to doubt my own identity. Surely, methought, I