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chased silver tankards; the elaborately carved ivory model of a Chinese junk; and the light, airy, beautiful lanterns, superbly painted, and admirably ornamented and gilt, will most likely give as much pleasure to others as they have imparted to me.
An examination of the paintings, view of Canton, representation of the feast of lanterns, view of Whampoa reach and village, a funeral procession, painting of a marriage ceremony, view of Honan, picture of Macao, and others, will do something towards leaving a more favourable impression, with regard to Chinese artists, than that which is generally entertained.
And now if you wish to spend a few hours pleasantly, to correct some prejudices, and to add much to your knowledge of the Chinese people, of their dress, manners, customs, ingenuity, and works of art, from a mandarin of the first class, to the blind mendicant, in his patched habiliments; if leisure serves, and no duty prevents you; if you have a silver piece to spare for admission, and an additional eighteen-pence or two shillings for a printed description of the curiosities of the place—you can hardly do better than step into an omnibus, with a heart in love with humanity, and a spirit delighting in forbearance, and pay a visit to the Chinese Collection.
THE RIVER THAMES, THE BRIDGES,
Tub clock has struck three, the morning is dark and comfortless, and I am wending my way to London bridge where I wish to arrive while the city is asleep, and where I purpose to remain till I see the sun rejoicing in the east.
I hear a slow, measured, heavy tread, on the opposite side of the road; but it is too dark to discern a passer by, at such a distance, unless he be near a gas light. It is the tramp of the thicksoled, ill-made boot of a policeman: I envy not the monotonous occupation of the guardians of the night. The first man I hear abroad is a policeman, and the first man I see is a coalheaver. Yonder is a covered wagon, with a double row of horses, about to start on its lumbering pilgrimage; the driver has, at this moment, an old-fashioned stable lantern in his hand.
Perhaps you may wonder how, it being so dark, I can see to make my remarks; but I cannot see to make them. With my paper in one hand, and my pencil in another, I stop for a few moments, now and then, and score down my hieroglyphics in the dark, with the hope of being enabled to decipher them by daylight. There are more gaslights now, and I discern objects a little more plainly. "Half-past three!" That must be the cry of some private watchman. To hear the hour of the night, thus publicly announced, is now a novelty. The coffee-stands by the wayside have, as yet, no customers; the early refreshment-houses are preparing for their usual visitors; and the noses of the night-cab horses are dozingly exploring the remote recesses of their empty oat bags in quest of provender. Here a cat mews at a door, putting up her tail as I pass, and rubbing her side against the panel, to obtain favour with me; and there another darts suddenly forwards, and disappears in an instant in a cellar hole. All is quiet at the railway station. A poor lad has just gone by me, with a bundle in his hand. I should like to know his prospect for the coming day.
Two or three of the outcasts that nightly wander the streets, stand together at a corner; and now and then I see one standing alone, or slowly pacing her thorny path of wretchedness and destitution. What a price does the poor prodigal pay for husks! Truly the way of transgressors is hard."
Yonder is the Monument; a straight, indistinct dark line drawn against the sky. The atmosphere is somewhat misty and comfortless, as though the air was charged with watery particles. My skin is cold and clammy; and a chilly, faint, breakfastless feeling is creeping over me. Well! here is London bridge. As I walked over it last night, I paused to gaze on the steam-boats as they came up the river, or shot across it, or turned round to the pier, with a single light at the prow. At a distance, the light alone could be seen; a solitary pilgrim gliding along the pathway of the waters.
This is a noble bridge, massive and substantial; and its dark, bronze-like lamp-supporters are quite in keeping with the solid parapet on which they stand. The deep shadows, the dark, black blotches on the river, are vessels lying there, whose distinct forms cannot yet be discerned. It is low water, and the colliers and coal barges are resting on the deep mud by the side of the now motionless stream. The lights from Southwark bridge are reflected in long spiral streaks of fire far down in the dark waters. Hark! the clock of St. Paul's is striking four. Like the clang of a huge gong, it startles the ear with its tremulous and brassy sound!
The dome of St. Paul's, the Custom-house, the Tower, and the top of the Monument, are not yet visible from this place; the darkness and the misty air alike hide them from the view. London is asleep, and tens of thousands, whose bread for the day is not yet won, are bound in unconscious slumber. How weak are words in setting forth what we owe to our great Creator, for the inestimable blessing of repose! Yes! London is asleep! Industry has nearly ended; Revelry has begun his slumber; Science is at rest; Mammon himself is drowsy; and even crime, a dear lover of darkness, scared at the approach of coming morn, is slinking into his shadowy den, lest the light of heaven should fall upon his face.
As I stand musing by the centre lamps, the policeman passes me with his oil-skin cape upon his shoulders; and the streetkeeper, in his blue great coat, with gilt buttons, and red collar, wondering, no doubt, what a man can have to do with pencil and paper at this untimely hour. Now and then distant sounds reach my ears; but the big heart of London is still at rest. These rumbling sounds, not those of busy, wakeful life, are, as it were, the breathing of the yawning giant as he tosses and turns himself in his slumber.
What a mysterious thing is sleep! The prostrator of strength, the paralyzer of intellect, the arrester of enterprise, and yet the promoter and invigorator of them all!
At this moment, the machinery of society, in the principle of its power and the mightiness of its operations, is apparently standing still. The houses of lords and Commons are empty. Downing-street is tranquil. The halls of Westminster