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dead ?"_“No more than you are,” replied the figure: “some open-mouthed fool told my clerk that I was, and he instantly wrote to tell you of it; but it was my namesake, George Staples of Castle-street, not me, nor even one of my relations,—so let us have dinner as soon'as you please, for I am as hungry as a hunter."
The promised dinner being soon upon the table, my
friend informed me, in the intervals of his everready laughter, that as soon as he had undeceived his clerk, he walked over to Star Cross to do me the same favour; that he had fallen asleep in the arm-chair while waiting my return from the grounds; and as to the dog, he reminded me that he had severely punished him at his last visit for killing a chicken, which ex plained his terror, and his crouching to me for protection, when he recognised his chastiser.
BOND-STREET IN SEPTEMBER.
ROUSSEAU says, that all great cities are alike; as far as my own observation extends I can confirm the remark, and yet the portrait which they exhibit is one which our first parents could hardly have been brought to comprehend. Even if that primitive pair could have contemplated the many myriads that were to become their descendants, and to spread over the face of the earth, they could never have imagined, that in various parts of its surface a million of beings would be huddled together, -in
one narrow voluntary prison of stone and brick, so confined that they were born, and died, lived, and fed, and slept, in successive layers or stories from the cellar to the garret, obtaining that accommodation for the functions of existence by mounting above one another's heads, which could never have been afforded by the superficial extent of the ground they occupied. Thousands of hecatombs of animals, brought weekly from the surrounding country for the support of this multitude, and the whole condensed population, with all the animal remains, plunged into the earth within the straitened enclosure of the walls, age upon age, generation upon generation, laid over one another until the entire mass upon which the city stands becomes a putrescent abyss of corruption and adipocire, like that extracted from the cemetery of the Innocents at Paris! Such are the prominent features in which all great cities resemble one another; and they are quite sufficient to make me thank Heaven that I live not immured within any such pestiferous enclosure, where the very complexion of the inhabitants seems a reflection from the pale flag of Death which is perpetually shaking before their eyes.
Notwithstanding the family likeness perceptible in all those enormous mounds and accumulations of brick and bones, flesh and furniture, men and mortar, beasts and buildings, which constitute a city, and the similarity of habits and appearances generated by all such multitudinous congregations, there is a sufficient diversity in the appearance of each individual capital when viewed under different circumstances and sea
sons. Perhaps no place in the world offers so striking a contrast to itself as London in and out of the season. When I speak of London, I put entirely out of view those industrious and useful classes who, living in the terra incognita eastward of the Bar, labour unintermittingly for the gratification of the westward population, and of course present a monotonous activity all the
round: but who that has ever seen Bondstreet in all its gaiety and glitter, in its days of clattering hoofs and sparkling equipages, when its centre forms an endless line of moving magnificence, and its gorgeous shops on either side reflect an ever-changing galaxy of belles and exquisites, would recognise the same place in the latter end of September, deserted, silent, spiritless,—“ so dull, so dead in look, so woebegone,” that it makes one“ as melancholy as a gibcat, or a lugged bear,” to take the same walk for five minutes, which a few months before would in less space of time have evaporated the densest spleen, and possessed us with all bright, joyous, and spiritual fancies? The ghost-looking house-painters whom one encounters here and there with their poisoned visages; the scaffoldings under which one is so often obliged to pass at the risk of lime in your eyes, and the certainty of it upon your clothes, if you are so fortunate as to escape a brickbat upon the head; the dismantled shops, and the hot, dusty, empty street,-as if they were not sufficiently miserable objects in themselves, complete the prostration of our spirits by recalling their past cheerfulness, and so aggravate their present gloom. Innumerable associations connected with Bond
street lift it, in its time of glory, so completely out of its materiality that we never think of it as a mere street; and in the season of its thick throngs we have no time to compare the ideal with the real, by subjecting its buildings to the matter-of-fact judgment of the eye. One might, indeed, lose that useful organ in the process, for those members of the Pococurante society--the porters, reck not if with the sharp angles of their humeral freightage they reduce us all to a Cyclopean community: and, moreover, one's optics are kept in such perpetual activity in catching the salutations of the smiling beauties who whisk by in their vehicles, in nodding to Lord A and Sir Harry B-, or in cutting old General C—, or any other established bore, that he who should be caught gazing upwards at the houses would infallibly be set down for a rustic star-gazer, if he were not knocked down for a London somnambulist.
Last month, however, in the solitude and vacancy of the foot-path, I thought I might safely venture to look upwards and contemplate the street in its architectural character, when, 0 Heavens ! what a bright web of association, what a tissue of Corinthian imaginations was instantly dissolved and frittered away! It was as if I gazed upon the corpse of one whom I had known in all the bloom and beauty of vitality. An ugly, irregular, desolate, dingy, beggarly, old-fashioned succession of brown brick tenements stretched before me, like Falstaff's ragged regiment, forming a mean and pitiful contrast with the swaggering looks and undue pomposity of the shops. As there was at
that moment no delusion of fashion to redeem the inconsistency, I amused myself in calculating how the real features of this celebrated street would affect the novel-reading misses and bonnet-buying spinsters of the country, who, from the frequent reference to this scene of gaiety in newspapers and romances, have been accustomed to invest it with something of a romantic and magnificent character. To add to my annoyance, it was one of those close, damp, sultry days, expressively termed muggy by the Londoners ; and as my lungs panted under the hot moisture of the atmosphere, I echoed the ejaculation of the worthy farmer dying of an asthma—“ If once I can get this plaguy breath fairly out of my body, I'll take deuced good care it shall never get in again.” As I thought of the buoyant and elastic breezes which I ought at that moment to have been enjoying in Gloucestershire, under my favourite clump of aspens, whose ever-fluttering leaves at once shaded me from the sun, and supplied me with the music of a perpetual waterfall, I felt in all its intensity the sentiment of Dante
-“ Nessun maggior dolore Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Nella miseria.” But perhaps the most pitiable and lugubrious of all the spectacles encountered at the West end, in this season of emigration, are the disconsolate wights who, being unable to procure an invitation to the country, and without money to get conveyed thither, condemn themselves to a daily imprisonment, and steal forth in the dusk like the light-shunning bat, or the bird of