« AnteriorContinuar »
Millennium of the Poets
STREETS, HOUSES, AND INHABITANTS.
of the Press...
Titans not Fabulous
Tolerance of the Jew and Intole- } ib.
rance of the Gentile ...,
Situation of the City, and Charac-
Mountain of Finale.....
CHANGE OF AIR,
PHILOSOPHY OF TRAVELLING.
As the carriage moved slowly up Shooter's Mill, one fine autumnal morning, I turned round to take a parting look at MODERN BABYLON. My eye ranged along the interminable grove of masts that shewed her boundless commerce--the hundred spires that proclaimed her ardent piety—the dense canopy of smoke that spread itself over her countless streets and squares, enveloping a million and a half of human beings in murky vapour. Imagination is always active, and memory is her prompter. Thirty years had rolled away since the same metropolis first burst on my view, in an opposite direction. Alas, how changed were my feelings, as well as my features, by that lapse of time! I can still distinctly remember the sensations that thrilled through my. breast when London first expanded itself before me. Fortune, fame, pleasure, were prominent features in the mental perspective, and sanguine HOPE repelled every doubt of success!
for life itself was new, And the heart promised what the fancy drew. But when I mingled with the chafing « tide of human existence" at Charing Cross, my heart sunk within me--I felt, as it
were, annihilated—lost, like a drop of water in the ocean-suddenly hurled from the giddy heights of imagination, and overwhelmed in the tumultuous stream of living beings that flowed in all directions around me. I believe there are very few who do not experience this feeling of abasement on first mixing with the crowd in the streets of London. Such, at least, was the depressive effect on myself, that all my fond dreams of ambition fled-my moral courage failed—and I abandoned that metropolis which a youthful imagination had pictured as the scene of aggrandizement and happiness, to wander for twenty years, by sea and land, over the surface of this globe
Where Polar skies congeal th' eternal snow,
To the bleak coast of savage Labrador. To those who have approached the MIGHTY CITY, with more chastened hopes, but more matured judgment—with less sanguine expectations, but with more steady courage better qualified to plunge into the vortex of competition, by inflexible resolution to “conquer difficulties by daring to oppose them," the following observations, from one who has experienced the influence of baleful as well as beneficial skies-of civic as well as erratic life, may not be without some interest.
WEAR AND TEAR.
There is a condition or state of body and mind, intermediate between that of sickness and health, but much nearer the former than the latter, to which I am unable to give a satisfactory name. It is daily and hourly felt by tens of thousands in this metropolis, and throughout the empire; but I do not know that it has ever been described. It is not curable by physic, though I apprehend that it makes much work for the doctors ultimately, if not for the undertakers. It is that WEAR AND TEAR of the living machine, mental and corporeal, which results from over-strenu-,
ous labour or exertion of the intellectual faculties, rather than of the corporeal powers, conducted in anxiety of mind and in bad air. It bears some analogy to the state of a ship, which, though still sea-worthy, exhibits the effects of a tempestuous voyage, and indicates the propriety of re-caulking the seams and overhauling the rigging. It might be compared to the condition of the wheels of a carriage, when the tyres begin to moderate their close embrace of the wood-work and require turning. Lastly, it bears no very remote similitude to the strings of a harp, when they get relaxed by a long series of vibrations, and demand bracing up.
This WEAR-AND-TEA'R COMPLAINT (if the designation bę allowed) is almost peculiar to England, and is probably a descendant of the old “ ENGLISH MALADY,'' about which so much was written a century ago. And why should it predominate in London so much more than in Paris ? The reason is obvious : -In London, business is almost the only pleasure-in Paris, pleasure is almost the only business. In fact, the same cause which produces the WEAR-AND-TEAR malady, namely, hard work, or rather over-exertion, is that which makes our fields better cultivated, our houses better furnished, our villas more numerous, our cottons and our cutlery better manufactured, our machinery more effective, our merchants more rich, and our taxes more heavy than in France or Italy. If we compare the Boulevards, the cafés, the jardins, the promenades of Paris, with corresponding situations in and around the British Metropolis, we shall be forced to acknowledge that it is nearly “ all work and no play” with John Bull during six days of the week, and vice versa with his Gallic neighbours. Does this
wear and tear” tell at last upon John's constitution, intellectual and corporeal ? I do not speak of the mere labour of the body. The fatigue induced by the hardest day's toil may
be dissipated by “ tired Nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep;"but not so the fatigue of the mind! Thought and care cannot be discontinued or cast off when we please, like exercise. The head may be laid on the pillow, but a chaos of ideas will infest