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are silent. The Bank is closed. The place where merchants meet is lonely as a desert, and the marts of traffic and the public streets are forsaken.
In a few short hours, what a world of energy will be aroused! The bright eye, the nimble foot, the ready hand, the quick intellect, will all be set in motion; and man, forgetful for the most part of eternity, will pursue, with all the faculties of his body, soul, and spirit, the perishable possessions which, if obtained, he can only enjoy for a few years, and, perhaps, not for a single hour.
The heavens to the eastward are growing a little lighter, and things before invisible are faintly seen. Southwark bridge and its reflection in the water are both of an equal strength in depth of shadow. I can now see the huge shoulders of St. Paul's cathedral, for the building holds up its head above the surrounding churches, as Saul did when standing among his brethren. The Monument, and the church spire on this side of it, appear of the same height from the bridge. Objects are now visible, yet not defined; they have no outline. There is a dimness, a dusky shadowy blending of one thing with another, that leaves me in doubt whether they really are what I take them to be. "An image is before my eyes, it stands still, but I cannot discern the form thereof."
The Tower is now discernible, and more vessels are seen on the river. How gradually does the dawn dissipate the darkness, bringing order out of chaos, and beauty out of shadowy indistinctness!
The captive, long confined in his prison-house, amuses, or rather occupies himself with its individualities: he counts the iron bars of his window, and the knobs of iron on the door of his dungeon; he measures the height, the length, and breadth of his cell; every crack in the walls, and every crevice in the floor is regarded till it becomes familiar. And I, in pacing this bridge backwards and forwards, have unconsciously employed myself in a similar manner: the length and breadth of the broad granite stones; the height of the parapet; the number of the recesses and stone benches, and other matters of little importance, have occupied my attention. The giis-lights of the bridge are double, but those in the centre of the building are treble. A man is now extinguishing the lights; he does it in a leisurely manner, and moves not with the accustomed merry run of the lamplighter. I will walk towards Guy's Hospital.
The placards on the walls, mingling together their varied colours of red, blue, yellow, and white, have, by gaslight, an odd, yet not inharmonious effect on the eye at a given distance. I must approach them nearer. The Flower Show —The Panorama of Damascus—Three Sermons at the Episcopal Chapel—Zoological Gardens and Fireworks—Steam packet to Havre—Cowan's Canton Strop—and the Eastern Counties Railway—are among the most conspicuous. Had I any desire for a morning dram, it might easily be gratified, for here is a gin shop already open. It grows a little lighter.
I have passed by St. Thomas's, and yonder is Guy's Hospital, where many a weary, yet wakeful eye drinks in greedily the first appearance of the dawn. There many an afflicted invalid, notwithstanding all that skill and kindness can do for him, is weary with his groaning, all the night long making his bed to swim, watering his couch with his tears. Was I now to cry aloud, "Watchman! what of the night? Watchman! what of the night?" what an answer might be given me, could the aching head, the throbbing pulse, the fevered lip, and the agonizing limb make their reply. Surely I should not pass the walls of an hospital without prayer for the afflicted, and praise for the blessing of health. The clocks are striking five.
Here comes a stage coach with passengers, in their caps, great coats, and handkerchiefs; the guard in his white hat, and the coachman with a green comforter round his neck, are quite in character; but not so the lamps of the coach, they are still lighted, and look strange in the grey of the morning. Yonder, under a gateway, stands a young woman with her box and bundle, waiting for the van; a cart is passing by laden with calves that low in a melancholy manner; and a bill-poster is entering on his morning occupation. I have passed opposite St. Saviour's church, turned towards the station of the Greenwich, Croydon, Brighton, and Dover railway, and am looking over into the burying-ground, where some threescore gravestones are visible:
Though, strong to run his heavenly course,
The sun in glory rise;
Forsakes the western skies.
So man, exulting, thoughtless mm!
Breaks through the glare and gloom
Then drops into the tomb.
I see something stirring inside the iron rails that surround a monument. Now it stands upright; it is a goat with a long beard; he has passed the night, like a solitary hermit, among the tombs. Not a sound is heard on the railway, though an increased rumble reaches the ear from the streets. I will once more walk upon the bridge.
The wind is in the south, and the sooty breath of the foul-mouthed chimneys, on the banks of the river, is spreading itself over the city; clouds of thick black smoke are rolling their burden on the breeze. St. Paul's is so surrounded with smoke, that imagination might suppose it about to burst into a flame. The water is covered with dimples unusually small; not glittering, as when lit up by the sun or moon, but faintly visible, just giving back the light of dawn. I can now see the casks, the crates, the sacks, the cases, the bales and packages on the wharfs and in the vessels. Not a boat is yet moving on the river.
Sounds have greatly increased, and the bridge has gradually been peopled with passengers; market-gardeners with carts of fruit or vegetables; butchers with their supplies of meat; men and women with their bundles, a dozen together-in a throng, leaving London; and early workmen going to their labour. Coal wagons are passing; and, now and then a brewer's dray, the driver's whip ferruled with brass from top to bottom. Girls with their milk cans, and postmen with their letter bags in their hands, and a gilt band round their hats, are hastening onwards. Ginger beer carts are pushed along by their several owners; bakers with bread, and boys with buns before them, accost each other; and at this moment a flock of sheep has nearly covered the entrance of the bridge.
London is now awaking! cabs begin to move; coaches, carts, and wagons increase, and the rumble of wheels, the jingling of chains and traces,