Page images
PDF
EPUB

apostles, and the Saviour, the grand vestibule, the marble pavement, the chapels, the great altar, and the grand cupola, with a vast variety of other interesting details, and the shades of evening are now beginning to prevail. When will the worshippers of St. Peter's, worship God in simplicity and truth!

SHOPS AND SHOP WINDOWS.

What a bounteous banquet of costly viands is spread before an ardent-minded, grateful-spirited perambulator! Not more certain is the bee to find honey in the cup of every flower, than he to find interest in every object which engages his attention. The goodly earth on which he treads, and the glorious canopy of the skies above his head, are kaleidoscopes, of ever-changing beauty and delight.

What a wide-spread page is London for him to gaze upon I and how full of absorbing interest and instruction! Human life is there depicted: its glare and its gloom, its sunshiny joys, and its shadowy griefs. A word on shops and shop windows. Here is a grocer's shop, but the profusion, the absolute prodigality of the scene oppresses me. There seems enough of grocery in the window to supply the neighbourhood. The fresh, fragrant, and delectable teas in the finely-formed wooden bowls are enticing; to say nothing of the ample chests, lined with lead, and ornamented by Chinese artists, whose contempt of perspective is so well known. How significantly those grave-looking mandarins bow their heads, and beckon with their hands! what beautifully painted canisters! what stores of coffee, chocolate, and cocoa! what boxes of figs, and loaves of refined sugar!

And the raisins and currants, the spices and the candied lemon-peel! Oh, how the Christmas times of my youth burst upon me at thevery sight of them!

Days of my youth, the long pattM years

Of childhood round me rise;
I see them glistening through the tears

That start into my eyes.

The joys that round my bosom press'd

When thoughtless, young, and wild,
Come, like a sunbeam, o'er my breast—

Again I am a child.

Well do I remember (who does not remember T) the scenes of far-famed Christmas in days gone by. A dozen of us, light-hearted, laughter-loving, giggling boys and girls are seated at a suppertable, whence the older guests have just retired. Roast beef, and turkey, and cold fowls, and ham, and tarts, and custards, and jellies are before us; with mince pies in abundance. We are roving like bees from one sweet to another. Present, past, and future, all is happiness. Turn-the-trencher and blind-man's-buff are in prospect, and mulled elder wine and toast, before webreak up forthenight.

But shall I be wiser, and tell you where the commodities in the grocer's shop and window come from? Oh yes; for if you do not know, it will be useful information; and if you do, others may not possess this advantage. With all the amusement we can gather, there is no going through the world in a creditable manner without a little knowledge.

Raisins are brought from Spain and Turkey; currants from the isles of the Archipelago; lemons grow in Portugal, Spain, and Italy; and spices, as well as sugar, are the produce of the East and West Indies.

The latter article is brought to England in hogsheads. See! there are two empty ones standing at the door, with a swarm of flies and a crowd of boys round them. One youngster is picking the sugar from the bung-hole; another is reaching up to the top, where the rough hoop and rusty nails are likely enough to tear his ragged jacket; and a third has his head and body in the cask, with his legs in the air, like a duck getting up something from the bottom of a shallow pond. There they are, all licking their sugary fingers, with more than common joy.

I might say a great deal about the poor negroes, who have so much to do with sugar:—

"Thus saith Britannia, empress of the sea,

V Thy chains ale broken, Africa; be free!"

Though the chains of slavery are ordered to be broken, myriads are still bound, not only with iron bands, but also with the fetters of ignorance. The mighty cry of outraged humanity has ascended to the throne of Heaven on their account; and He who sitteth there will not hold him guiltless who refuses to pay the debt of restitution and mercy that is due for the past. If we have deeply injured negroes in this world, let us ardently help them on in their way to a better. Great as have been the exertions of humanity, the slave-trade is not done away. It is now intended by the British legislature to encourage the principle of free-trade, and this will afford free labour an opportunity of struggling with slave labour for the mastery. Should the labour of free men prove more productive than the labour of slaves, it must follow that the slave-trade will decline. Different opinions are entertained respecting the wisdom of the measures now about to be practised; but every truly Christian heart must rejoice should they be an instrument, in holy hands, to abolish slavery throughout the world.

Tea is too important an article to be passed by without a remark. You know, as well as I do, that the tea plant grows principally in China and Japan; but you may not know the following particulars:

The order of the East India Company, to their agent in Bantam, in 1668, was to send home lOOlbs. weight of " goode tey" as a speculation. A very pretty speculation this turned out to be; for the yearly consumption of tea has been raised in the United Kingdom, by the East India Company, from lOOlbs. as above, to nearly 32,000,000. It seems almost incredible, and yet it is not to be disputed, that during eighteen years the immense sum of 70,000,000/. was paid

« PreviousContinue »