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packets; the cab-drivers and coachmen are lashing their jaded horses up the hill with their fares; the merchants are hastening on 'Change; the policemen are slowly pacing their rounds; the letter-carriers are performing their active duties; gentlemen are promenading the streets; ladies are shopping, either in their carriages or on foot; and idlers and pleasure-takers are abroad, going to and fro, according to their several inclinations.
Hark! the big bell of St. Paul's Cathedral is striking the hour. The resounding strokes are as if a giant were smiting his brazen buckler with his spear! What says the clamorous monitor to the busy world below? What warning has he to give to Old Humphrey ?" Mortal! prepare for immortality." A dozen church clocks are now repeating aloud the solemn injunction.
It is a serious thought to entertain, while so many are striving with all their souls to get through this bad world, that so few are striving to get to a better. The bread which perishes is sought after more than the bread of life, and the gewgaws of time more ardently pursued than the glories of eternity.
The public streets that appear so crowded, when we are in them, seem but thinly populated when seen from this great elevation, for now we see the real space between one person and another. Even London Bridge has comparatively few people upon it.
What a Lilliputian world it is below me! Diminished in size as they are by my position, the very carts and wagons are playthings; the huge dray-horse is but a Shetland pony; and the men and women are merely respectable puppets. It would do a proud man good, could he see himself in the street from the top of the monument!
The more distant objects do not appear to be so visibly affected, for we expect them to be diminished; they are those near the base of this mighty column, which strike us as extraordinary. Wagons have no wheels, horses have no legs, and men and women are all hats and bonnets, coats and shawls.
The chimney-pots, seen in all directions, are like the open mouths of so many cannons pointed at the skies. What a dreadful distance it is to the ground! While I look down perpendicularly, the strong iron railing, on which I lean, seems but a poor security. What if it should give way! The thought is horrible ; and yet, horrible as it is, most likely it has entered the heads of hundreds visiting this giddy height.
Six persons, at different periods, have flung themselves from the monument: but precautionary measures have been since adopted to prevent a recurrence of such frightful deeds. The visitor to the top of the monument now finds himself enclosed in a cage. A poor weaver, in the year 1750, was the first to take this fearful road to death. In 1788, a baker of the name of John Craddock followed his dreadful example. Lyon Levy, a diamond merchant, committed the same rash act in the year 1810; and the names of Margaret Moyes, of a youth, and of a young woman, must now be added to the list of those who have thus dared against the commands of God to rush into eternity. It would be difficult to assign any other probable reason for their adopting so dreadful a mode of quitting the world, than that of a stronger than ordinary determination to get rid of life: an inflexible resolve that no possible contingency should prevent their destruction. What must have been that state of mind that could look on such a fearful deed as a relief to its unimaginable agony!
How earnestly ought we to pray that He "who alone can restrain the unruly wills and affections of sinful man," would, of his great mercy, enable us to control our passions, and resist the sudden rushes of temptation that take the agonized heart by surprise, and hurry it into the commission of desperate and sinful deeds!
If it were not for the fog, I should now have a glorious view; but, as it is, distant objects are either invisible or confused and indistinct. We must not, however, expect to have the world just what we would wish it to be. We never judge so wisely about the weather as when we conclude that to be the best which it pleases God to send.
Now I should like to be able to scatter down blessings on the heads of my brother emmets below, from Greenwich Hospital eastward, to Buckingham Palace westward; from Stamford Hill in the north, to Clapham Common in the south. Well, if I cannot do this myself, I can humbly and reverently ask Him to do it who can. He only who knows the grief and the joy, the fears and the desires of all hearts, can suit his blessings to their respective wants.
Yonder is a man lashing his horses very cruelly. I wish I could tell him that "a merciful man is merciful to his beast;" but, perhaps, if I did, he would hardly thank me for my pains. Though he smacks his whip lustily, I cannot hear the sound that it makes. It is the same with the two damsels there, who are shaking a carpet on the flat roof of the corner house. I hear nothing of the heavy monotonous sound that a shaken carpet usually makes.
The river, the bridges, St. Paul's Cathedral, the different churches, and some of the large public buildings, are the most conspicuous objects around me; but of these I am not at all inclined to give the history. I came up here to muse a little on such things as might present themselves most vividly to my attention or my thoughts, in so novel a situation.
While I am looking down from this fearful height, a pair of bright brown pigeons are fearlessly winging their way to and fro, midway between me and the ground. At one moment they bear up bravely against the wind, till they almost reach me; and then, turning aside, suddenly cleave the air, like swift arrows from the bowman's hand. Oh, what a glorious liberty they appear to enjoy! I could almost wish for the moment to be a pigeon!
The Mansion House looks like a spireless church up above the surrounding buildings; but the Cathedral of St. Paul is the great lion of London. Like an ostrich among birds, like an elephant among beasts, or rather, like Snowdon among British mountains, is St. Paul's among the churches of this great city. I dare say, that when sir Christopher Wren saw the glorious pile completed, it was one of the proudest moments of his life. In expressing this opinion, I run but little risk of wronging his reputation, or doing injustice to his memory.
The Tower has just caught my eye; the centre building, with the four square turrets, has a fortlike appearance. Its dark walls, windows, and battlements, edged with stones of a lighter colour, render it unlike the buildings around it. People who know nothing of war and military pursuits, might judge, from a glance at the structure, that it did not possess the power which it does, and yet no doubt, if it were necessary, the place could pour out of the iron and brazen-throated cannons it