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the record it has left behind it, has made
heart beat and my pulse play, and called forth my admiration, joy, and thankfulness, hundreds of years after its translation to glory!
I like to linger at the well-supplied stalls of second-hand books, and to turn over the leaves of the volumes exposed for sale, from the twopenny box of all sorts at the door, to the shelf of folios inside the shop. I like to glide slowly with the living stream along Cheapside, noting the passers by, and reading their history in their eyes, faces, and
appearance. I love to muse a moment, not without pity, on that unenviable class of the community, bill-deliverers, placard-bearers, and “walk into the auction” men. Oh, what a tale do their haggard cheeks, their sickly frame, and their ragged raiment often make known! Poverty, thoughtlessness, indiscretion, and perhaps crime, have made them what they are.
I like to stand opposite Christ's Hospital, and look through the double row of iron pallisades at the boys when they are at play in the court-yard. If it were possible to make a good-looking boy appear ugly, by dressing him up in uncouth clothing, the blue gown, yellow petticoat and stockings, and buckle-garter-like girdle of the Christ's Hospital costume would undoubtedly do it: but, in spite of their dress, the light-hearted, merry-making young rogues find their way into my heart. I remember that I once was a boy ;
and when they knuckle down at ring-taw, leap the skipping-rope, trundle the hoop, and race after one another, I feel that I could join them at their sport. It was but yesterday that I stood looking at them for ten minutes, afterwards giving them in silence my parting blessing.
I like, when I feel strong—though some would regard it as an arduous undertaking for an old man—to ascend to the golden gallery of St. Paul's Cathedral, and to look upon London below. The incessant rumble of busy life reaches me as an echo of things remote, and my brother emmets beneath me, by their diminished stature, make me feel little in my own eyes. London, the treasure-house of the earth for wealth and power, as the queen of nations, stretches the sceptre of her influence over the east and the west, the north and the south. She is, as it were, the big heart of the breathing world, animating through the peopled avenues of society, the industry, the knowledge, and the piety of the uttermost parts of the earth.
I like, now and then, to visit a Christian friend, walking abroad betimes, and breakfasting with him in his quiet and retired habitation in the suburbs of the city. The early hour, and the walk, and the fresh air, give me an appetite, and the broiled ham, or bacon, that forms a part of the hospitable meal, relishes all the better for the free and cheerful converse that prevails. I like to hear him, with a soft, musical voice, read the
Holy Scriptures, explain, illustrate, and apply with faithfulness, knowledge, and simplicity, the word of the Most High, and engage in supplication and thanksgivings to the Giver of all our mercies. I like to walk abroad with him in the fields, or retired lanes, discoursing freely, as the case may be, of the heavens, the earth, and the varied objects of creation, indulging in literary projects, and fixing, perhaps, on a subject for the next paper of Old Humphrey.
I like to pass along the Old Bailey, or elsewhere, when a throng of poor women, girls, and boys, stand with their jugs and cups, their basins and platters, opposite to an eating-house, waiting with their twopences to receive the broken victuals of the establishment. It would do you good, if you have never seen this daily exhibition, to gaze upon it; and if you have a kind heart, and twopence in your pocket, I feel quite sure, that in such a case, some poor widow, or pale-faced girl, with her crockery in her hand, will soon have your money What a comfortable thing it is, that one can buy such a substantial gratification, as that of lighting up the eye, and gladdening the heart of the poor, at the low price of two-pence !
I like to stand among the gathered group of merchants and foreigners on 'Change, just long enough for the rolling din of mingled voices and varied languages to make me estimate more highly quietude and peace. I like, now and then,
to peep at the Parks, and Kensington Gardens, commenting, not ill-naturedly, on the gay equipages and well-dressed people assembled. I like to lean over London Bridge, gazing on the steamboats as they come and go, and on the forest of masts that rises from the bed of the river. And I like to pause in Smithfield, ere I go by the spot where the martyr has “played the man in the fire.” May I never pass the place without more than common thankfulness to the Father of mercies in sparing me the torment that better men have endured!
I like to visit the Cemeteries around the city, and bend over the resting-places of the dead : there may the living learn lessons of humility. I like to wander through the Zoological Gardens, and to fancy the different birds, beasts, and reptiles at liberty in the places they frequented before they were caught and caged: the white bear on his icebergs; the wolf amid the northern snow; the lion in the desert sand ; the tiger in the jungle; the orang-outang in the woods; the pelican in the wilderness; the rattle-snake in the thick tangled brushwood ; and the crocodile basking on the sedgy banks of the Nile. How infinitely varied are the works of God! How wonderful are the creatures formed by the hand of the Almighty !
I like to examine the new and useful inventions at the Royal Adelaide Gallery, and the Polytechnic
Institution; to hear the lectures; to gaze on the revealed wonders of the microscope ; to look at the life-rafts and fire-escapes among the models ; to receive a shock from the electrical eel; and to go down in the diving-bell with a friend who is too fearful to descend alone. I like to roam amid the gathered stores of the British Museum, from the gilt idol to the Elgin marbles, and from the mummies to the manuscripts ; to sit in the reading-room with an interesting volume before me, now and then stealing a glance at the authors, artists, and reading world around. I like to visit the India House, and muse on its oriental stores, from the ivory-carved hanging gardens, to the skull of the Batta chief; from the hieroglyphic brick of Babylon to the manuscript dreams of Tippo-Saib, though written in language that I cannot understand.
I like to visit the Abbey of Westminster, and to give way to the solemn thoughts the place inspires. The question of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of erecting in a temple of Christian worship such gorgeous commemorations of the departed dead, I leave others to decide, for I am no splitter of hairs, no decider of disputed points, no authority in doubtful doctrines, but a simple-minded old man, well content to keep to what is plain and practical, and to leave to those who are wiser than myself all things which are too hard for me. I like to muse over the dust of good men, and to ponder,