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streets can commonly be associated with nothing less resembling them in character than their aspect at such an hour. Clear of smoke and endless in extent, with a pure atmosphere and sunshine over them, they seem operated upon by enchantment; the inhabitants appear dead, or exiled from their dwellings. It is as if there were a death in every house, and the closed shutters were tokens of mourning and funeral. But the unbroken, inexorable dead silence is, after all, most startling, when we find it where daily and hourly, for years, we have been stunned by noise and deafened by uproar. Yet in a few hours and all will again present the same busy, noisy, smoky, obscure appearance; man and art will arise and extinguish nature, and every thing will assume its accustomed character.
The appearance of the streets at night is scarcely less novel and striking than it is embarrassing to all but the initiated inhabitant. By lamplight, every part of town assumes nearly the same appearance; so that if a person, ever so well versed in the knowledge of the different quarters of the metropolis, were set down blindfolded in any of the streets, not a great thoroughfare, he would not discover where he was, without inquiry, until he had walked a considerable distance, and found some spot with which he was familiar, and which might serve him for a reckoning-point.
Finding the way about London at night is attained by a sort of instinct, and is acquired by most persons, not so much from the names of the streets, as from the relative situation of the place sought being weighed in its bearing from the place of setting out, or from remembering on which side of the great thoroughfares it may lie. A person familiar with town, going to any quarter, rarely notices the names of the streets he passes through ; perhaps he does not know their names at all; but he works his way unerringly by compass, as well as the angles of the streets will admit, never confounding his turns to the right or left as he proceeds ; and in this way he keeps his course diagonally, or directly, as the case may be. The stranger thinks only of the names of the streets through which he must pass to his destination, examines his map, and is still obliged to inquire, at every turning, the rectitude of his course. The streets of London are too numerous to burthen the recollection with, and too much alike to be discriminated from each other; the inhabitant, therefore, goes in the direction of his object as the ship sails, and does not notice the names of the streets which intervene.
Two remarkable objects break in at night upon the uniformity of the chains of fire, which seem to be suspended on each side of the main streets. These are the different-coloured lamps of the apothecaries, and the more brilliant lights of the gin-shops and taverns, both warning the homeward-bound pedestrian with a sort of memento mori caution. A facetious French writer observes, that in France, the number of sick and the number of medical men, summed up exactly the same total. It is incredible the number of apothecaries' shops thus presenting themselves ; there is almost one for every physic-taker.
There is great art in walking the streets of London: the countryman is a long while before he gets into the practice, and his awkwardness, in this respect, is one of the marks by which he is very readily distinguished, even if he have doffed his country-cut coat and hat, and imagines he is altogether one of the “right sort.” How quickly will a pickpocket fix him in his eye, and keep close to his heels in a crowd for å whole street together. The habit of gazing at shop-windows, and at every trifling novelty in the great thoroughfares, and the want of that utter indifference to every thing but the object towards which he is journeying, distinguishes the indigenous individual from the stranger in the street. The genuine Londoner is an absent man in the most crowded parts of the city. He proceeds on his way coolly casting up his bills in his mind, arranging to-morrow's business, or projecting new schemes of profit, as unmoved and abstracted as if he were walking alone across a desert. He never jostles those he meets either right or left, but proceeds along, clear of porters and draymen, gliding with the current of vitality that flows on his own way at the general rate, nor breaking in upon the counter-marchers who face him in a continued stream; he could peruse a book or a newspaper uninterruptedly during his progress from Charing Cross to the India House, in the midst of thousands, undisturbing and undisturbed--his habitual ease in such circumstances being the distinguishing trait of his character. The sojourner of the provinces, on the other hand, when visiting the metropolis, is sadly puzzled to steer clear of the multitudes he meets. There is a story of one of them on record, who coming into Fleet-street from a cross court, mounted the step of a door at noonday to wait, as he said, “ until the people coming out of church had gone by." It is pleasant to see him launched forth in the metropolis for the first time, raw from Cumberland and Westmoreland. Now he gets into the current of people passing the opposite way to himself, and finds himself pushed off the pavement into the middle of the street- now he staggers among those who have their right-hand to the wall, and not keeping the pace of the rest of the passengers, is pushed forward, or jostled, or, stopping at a window to see some common-place thing, obstructs the passengers, and is pushed through the glass, or loses his pocket-handkerchief. Disasters are for ever occurring. He is bewildered by the noise and confusion around him, and is happy to return and take his rest at his inn. It is scarcely credible to a Londoner, but there are well authenticated instances of temporary madness in persons bred up in the privacy and solitude of remote country villages, from being left alone and getting bewildered in the streets of the metropolis.
The great secret of walking the streets in comfort, is an adherence to the rules established by custom, namely, to take the inside of the pavement when the right-hand is to the wall, and the outside when the right-hand is toward the street,—to catch the pace of the going or returning current, as the case may be, and never to attempt giving others the law, but to proceed with what Johnson calls “ the tide of human existence.”
Never stop to listen to street-minstrels, nor stand looking up at the figures of St. Dunstan's church; if you do, you will infallibly discover the meaning of the proverb of being penny wise and pound foolish.
Never delay your homeward steps at a late hour by going out of your direct path upon seeing a mob assembled, or on hearing the watchman's rattle ; proceed imperturbably.
Never give an alms, nor pay the least attention to night-beggars, nor notice the appeals of strangers, nor suffer any conversation to be maintained with you by them.
If a drayman bring his whip across your eyes, do not stop to resent it, unless you are sure you are the better man of the two, and have little money in your pocket for the bystanders to roh you of. If you are right in these respects, knock him down at once you have no better mode of obtaining justice.
If a porter drive his load against your spectacles, forcing them into your nose, overturn him, burthen and all. If you are not strong enough, you must pocket the injury.
Never buy a cheap box of cigars, a watch, a ring, a pencil-case, or similar articles, when offered you by any one in the streets.
Never buy of a street-Jew, not because of his faith, but because all Christians having united to persecute him, he very fairly thinks himself bound to retaliate by taking them in whenever he can.
When you meet ladies on a crowded pavement, you must forget your gallantry, and not think of giving them the inside, for those you meet compose a counter-current to your own-in your own current you may be as polite as you please to the sex.
Amuse yourself as you walk, in contemplating character in the faces of those you meet, and thence guessing their profession or class.
About 'Change you will find the genuine counting-house phiz" tbirty pence is two and sixpence." About the Haymarket, on market-days, you may contemplate the country farmer mingled with the off-scouring of Palais Royal opera-dancers, and the scum of Italy, in fur or brocade, pale, emasculated, idealess, and insolent. In Bond-street, the whiskered vacuity of the dandy's countenance may be studied to most advantage; while Goodman's Fields furnishes the primest physiognomies for learning the expression and character of the children of Israel. In Thames-street, at noon-day, you may see the cautious, plodding, commercial cast of face; and in Bishopsgate that of the petty retailer, who values sixpence more than he does his soul. The Borough, St. Giles's, and Wapping, also furnish distinct traits of feature.-Thus do the streets of London display endless studies of human nature for the reflective-minded passenger-all that is great, admirable, vain, vicious, and degraded, -in higher perfection than any other spot of the known world.
RECOLLECTIONS OF BRAZIL, NO. I. THERE are probably few situations in which a man finds himself more completely ennuyé than in the double capacity of a neutral and idler in a besieged town. While he shares, in common with the meanest of the garrison, every privation, the magnificent game of war hourly passing before his eyes, affords to him none of its spirit-stirring excitements. It was under the influence of this feeling that, in the fall of the year 1822, I left the city of St. Salvador, at that time closely invested by the patriot army, and, accompanied by an intimate friend and associate, sailed for the Rio de Janeiro.
My companion, an old Peninsular campaigner, tired alike of la vie bourgeoise and half-pay, was allured thither by the prospect of joining the Imperial service, which at that time held out high inducements to a foreign officer. For myself, I was not sorry to exchange the monotonous gloom of St. Salvador for the more exhilarating ecenes passing in the capital. Nor was I, in short, without strong feelings of curiosity to observe, in its earliest stage of developement, the workings of that spirit of freedom which, in silence, I have long marked undermining the moral influence of the mother-country; and to witness the first impulse of a young people just budding into political existence, and shaking from their galled limbs the chains of three centuries of misrule and oppression.
The arrangements for our departure were soon made, and the morning of the fourteenth day, after an agreeable passage, saw us steering beneath the base of the Pao d’Assucar, which majestically flanks the entrance of the barbour. Were I to live for centuries, the impression made on my mind by the splendid combination of the luxuriant and sublime which suddenly burst on my enraptured eye, would, to the last, be green on the memory. I have since trodden the classic shores of Italy, have long sojourned amidst the sublime romantic beauties of Switzerland, and have often wandered along the vine-clad banks of the lovely. Rhine. But these splendid creations of the European world, with their exhaustless stores of historical and poetic associations, never produced on my mind those feelings of mingled wonder and delight, that did the majestic sublimity of that masterpiece of Nature, the bay of Rio de Janeiro. To describe its various beauties is far beyond the powers of my weak pen ; in the language of Voltaire, it is at once
“ Beau, majestueux, harmonieux et sublime.” On landing, every object wore the animated complexion of the times. Contrasted with the air of melancholy which pervaded every thing in the place we had so recently quitted, it burst on us like the momentary gleam of sunshine which sometimes enlivens the gloom of a November day. Arches of triumph raised their stately heads in all the principal streets, while the façades of the houses were thickly studded with allegorical paintings and devices. We were soon convinced that we had arrived on the eve of some great festival. Nor were we mistaken. The coronation of the young Emperor, we were informed, was to take place in two days. This event, calculated to influence so strongly the future destinies of the rising country, appeared to engross the public mind, to the exclusion of almost every other topic. All was bustle and animation, brightness and enthusiasm. The poor negro, even, watching the infection of the times, felt not his chains, and carolled, in the illusion of the moment, the air of liberty.
Singular inconsistency of human nature! While the more intellectual part of the nation were publishing to the world long and laboured dissertations on the abstract question of the Rights of Man and the dig. nity of Human Nature, and while their armies were in the field fighting for their practical illustration, they offered at the same moment the spectacle of a most melancholy anomaly, a mere fractional part of the nation contending for freedom in its most Utopian forms, while the remainder were groaning in the most abject state of slavery, or vegetating under the withering influence of prejudice, arising from the difference of caste and colour. On our way to the police-office, overcome by the sultriness of the weather, we entered a café. We were, on our entrance, literally overwhelmed with questions. In their avidity for news from
the seat of war, the curiosity of our interlocutors, in many instances, overcame their courtesy. A short time previous to our quitting St. Salvador, a sortie had been made by a party of the garrison, with the view of carrying off a large portion of cattle collected in the immediate neighbourhood. The attempt proved unsuccessful, and the party was driven in with inconsiderable loss. Some account of the affair had already reached the Rio, and what was in fact but a mere forage, was construed, by the vanity of the Brazilians, into a splendid military triumph.
It is with young nations as with young people; their vanity is even in an inverse ratio to their capabilities. On their early successes in arms they dwell with more than a lover's fondness; and viewing them through a medium highly magnified by youthful ardour and enthusiasm, the slightest strictures, however the result of a cool and dispassionate criticism, are associated by them with feelings of scorn and contempt, and as immediately repaid by inveterate and undisguised dislike. It is to this feeling, I think, rather than to the operation of baser passions growing out of the recollection of political misrule and oppression, that we may ascribe the deep-rooted and rancorous animosity which marks the feelings of emancipated colonies towards the parent states.
In the present instance, the compressed lip and clouded brow indicated, in no unequivocal manner, the rage and disappointment of many of our auditors at our plain and unvarnished account of the affair in question, so in disunion with their own ideas. At the police-office, we were loudly reproached with affection to the royalist cause, and favoured by the Minister in person with a bulletin of the action, in a style of more than Oriental bombast; by way of a climax, he gravely assured us that the future historian would rank it as a second Marathon. This piece of gasconade I really expected would have raised the shade of Miltiades; but there is no reasoning with prejudice engrafted on ignorance; so, leaving his Excellency to feast on the creations of his own imagination, we took our leave, and were really not sorry to find ourselves in the cool veranda of our posada, doing ample justice to a profusion of good things to which we had long been strangers..
We sallied forth at an early hour on the following morning to stock our portfolios with a few sketches of the magnificent surrounding scenery. We had been for some time busily employed in our task, when we were interrupted by the arrival of four or five officers in military undress. One of them, who rode a little in advance of the rest of the party, approached us, and asked, in a tone of great haughtiness, what we were doing; and without awaiting our reply, added, “ Are you ignorant of the order which expressly forbids foreigners from making draughts of the harbour and its defences ?”—“You must be but a young soldier,” replied my companion, somewhat piqued at the tone of hauteur assumed by the stranger, “or your military coup-d'æil would not have betrayed you into so absurd an observation. Favourable as this spot may be for taking a sketch of the surrounding scenery, it is the very last we should have chosen for making a military reconnoissance of the harbour.” Without appearing to beed the sarcastic retort of my friend, he questioned us seriously as to our name, country, and profession. We satisfied him on all these points, adding, that we had only arrived from St. Salvador on the preceding evening. On learning