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wise suspension of sentence, how far jacks, and spits, and mops could with propriety be introduced as subjects; whether the conscious avoiding of all such matters in discourse would not have a worse look than the taking of them casually in our way; in what manner we should carry ourselves to our maid Becky, Mrs. William Wetherall being by; whether we should show more delicacy, and a truer sense of respect for Will's wife, by treating Becky with our customary chiding before her, or by an unusual deferential civility paid to Becky as to a person of great worth, but thrown by the caprice of fate into an humble station. There were difficulties, I remember, on both sides, which you did me the favour to state with the precision of a lawyer, united to the tenderness of a friend. I laughed in my sleeve at your solemn pleadings, when lo! while I was valuing myself upon this flam put upon you in New South Wales, the devil in England, jealous possibly of any lie children not his own, or working after my copy, has actually instigated our friend (not three days since) to the commission of a matrimony, which I had only conjured up for your diversion. William Wetherall has married Mrs. Cotterel's maid. But to take it in its truest sense, you will see, my dear F., that news from me must become history to you; which I neither profess to write, nor indeed care much for reading. No person, under a diviner, can with any prospect of veracity conduct a correspondence at such an arm's length. Two prophets, indeed, might thus interchange intelligence with effect; the epoch of the writer (Habakkuk) falling in with the true present time of the receiver (Daniel)—but then we are no prophets.
Then as to sentiment. It fares little better with that. This kind of dish, above all, requires to be served up hot; or sent off in water plates, that your friend may have it almost as warm as yourself. If it have time to cool, it is the most tasteless of all cold meats. I have often smiled at a conceit of the late Lord C. It seems that travelling somewhere about Geneva, he came to some pretty green spot, or nook, where a willow, or something, hung so fantastically and invitingly over å stream-was it ?-or a rock ?- no matter—but the still ness and the repose, after a weary journey, 'tis likely, in a languid moment of his lordsbip's hot restless life, so took his fancy, that he could imagine no place so proper, in the event of his death, to lay his bones in. This was all very natural and excusable as a sentiment, and shows his character in a very pleasing light. But when from a passing sentiment it came to be an act; and when, by a positive testamentary disposal, his remains were actually carried all that way from England ; who was there, some desperate sentimentalists ex
cepted, that did not ask the question, Why could not his lordship have found a spot as solitary, a nook as romantic, a tree as green and pendant, with a stream as emblematic to his purpose, in Surrey, in Dorset, or in Devon ? Conceive the sentiment boarded up, freighted, entered at the custom house, (startling the tide waiters with the novelty,) hoisted into a ship. Conceive it pawed about and handled between the rude jests of tarpawling ruffians—a thing of its delicate texture --the salt bilge wetting it till it became as vapid as a damaged lustring. Suppose it in material danger (mariners have some superstition about sentiments) of being tossed over in a fresh gale to some propitiatory shark, (spirit of St. Gothard, save us from a quietus so foreign to the deviser's purpose !) but it has happily evaded a fishy consummation. Trace it then to its lucky landing—at Lyons shall we say ?-I have not the map before me-jostled upon four men's shoulders-baiting at this town-stopping to refresh at t'other village—waiting a passport here; a license there; the sanction of the magistracy in this district ; the concurrence of the ecclesiastics in that canton ; till at length it arrives at its destination, tired out and jaded, from a brisk sentiment, into a feature of silly pride or tawdry senseless affectation. How few sentiments, my dear F., I am afraid we can set down, in the sailor's phrase, as quite seaworthy.
Lastly, as to the agreeable levities, which, though contemptible in bulk, are the twinkling corpuscula which should irradiate a right friendly epistle—your puns and small jests are, I apprehend, extremely circumscribed in their sphere of action. They are so far from a capacity of being packed up and sent beyond sea, they will scarce endure to be transported by hand from this room to the next. Their vigour is as the instant of their birth. Their nutriment for their brief existence is the intellectual atmosphere of the bystanders : or this last, is the fine slime of Nilus—the melior lutuswhose maternal recipiency is as necessary as the sol pater to their equivocal generation. A pun hath a hearty kind of present ear-kissing smack with it; you can no more transmit it in its pristine flavour, than you can send a kiss. Have you not tried in some instances to palm off a yesterday's pun upon a gentleman, and has it answered ? Not but it was new to his hearing, but it did not seem to come new from you. It did not hitch in. It was like picking up at a village alehouse a two days' old newspaper. You have not seen it before, but you resent the stale thing as an affront.
This sort of merchandise above all requires a quick return A pun, and its recognitory laugh, must be coinstantaneous. The
one is the brisk lightning, the other the fierce thunder. A moment's interval, and the link is snapped. A pun is reflected from a friend's face as from a mirror. Who would consult his sweet visnomy, if the polished surface were two or three minutes (not to speak of twelve months, my dear F.) in giving back its copy?
I cannot image to myself whereabout you are. When I try to fix it, Peter Wilkins's island comes across me. Some.' times you seem to be in the Hades of Thieves. I see Diogenes prying among you with his perpetual fruitless lantern. What must you be willing by this time to give for the sight of an honest man! You must almost have forgotten how we look. And tell me, what your Sydneyites do ? are they th**v*ng all day long? Merciful Heaven! what property can stand against such a depredation! The kangaroos your aborigines—do they keep their primitive simplicity unEurope tainted, with those little short fore puds, looking like a lesson framed by nature to the pickpocket! Marry, for diving into fobs they are rather lamely provided à priori ; but if the hue and cry were once up, they would show as fair a pair of hind shifters as the expertest locomoter in the colony. We hear the most improbable tales at this distance. Pray, is it true that the young Spartans among you are born with six fingers, which spoils their scanning! It must look very odd; but use reconciles. For their scansion, it is less to be regretted, for if they take it into their heads to be poets, it is odds but they turn out, the greater part of them, vile plagiarists. Is there much difference to see, too, between the son of a th**f, and the grandson? or where does the taint stop ? Do you bleach in three or in four generations? I have many questions to put, but ten Delphic voyages can be made in shorter time than it will take to satisfy my scruples. Do you grow your own hemp ? What is your staple trade, exclusive of the national profession, I mean? Your locksmiths, I take it, are some of your great capitalists.
I am insensibly chatting to you as familiarly as when we used to exchange good-morrows out of our old contiguous windows, in pump-famed Harecourt in the temple. Why did you ever leave that quiet corner ? Why did I ?—with its complement of four poor elms, from whose smoke-died barks, the theme of jesting ruralists, I picked my first ladybirds ! My heart is as dry as that spring sometimes proves in a thirsty August, when I revert to the space that is between us; a length of passage enough to render obsolete the phrases of our English letters before they can reach you. But while I talk, I think you hear me-thoughts dallying with vain surmise
Ay me! while thee the seas and sounding shores
Come back, before I am grown into a very old man, so as fou shall hardly know me. Come, before Bridget walks on crutches. Girls whom you left children have become sage matruns, while you are tarrying there. The blooming Miss no -r (you remember Sally W-r) called upon us yesverday, an aged crone. Folks, whom you knew, die off every year. Formerly, I thought that death was wearing out-Í stooa ramparted about with so many healthy friends. The departure oi J. W., two springs back, corrected my delusion. Since then the old divorcer has been busy. If you do not make hasre to return, there will be little left to greet you, of me, or mine.
THE PRAISE OF CHIMNEY SWEEPERS.
I like to meet a sweep-understand me—not a grown sweeper-old chimney sweepers are by no means attractive
- but one of those tender novices, blooming through their first nigritude, the maternal washings not quite effaced from the cheek--such as come forth with the dawn, or somewhat earlier, with their little professional notes sounding like the peep peep of a young sparrow; or liker to the matin lark should I pronounce them, in iheir aerial ascents not seldom anticipating the sunrise ?
I have a kindly yearning towards these dim specks-poor blots-innocent blacknesses
I reverence these young Africans of our own growth-these almost clergy imps, who sport their cloth without assumption ; and from their little pulpits, (the tops of chimneys,) in the nipping air of a December morning, preach a lesson of patience to mankind.
When a child, what a mysterious pleasure it was to witness their operation ! to see a chit no bigger than one's self enter, one knew not by what process, into what seemed the fauces Averni —to pursue him in imagination, as he went sounding on through so many dark siifling caverns, horrid shades ! to shudder with the idea that “now, surely: he must
be lost for ever!”—to revive at hearing his feeble shout of discovered daylight—and then (oh fulness of delight) running out of doors, to come just in time to see the sable phenomenon emerge in safety, the brandished weapon of his art victorious like some flag waved over a conquered citadel! I seem to remember having been told, that bad sweep was once lest in a stack with his brush, to indicate which way the wind blew. It was an awful spectacle certainly ! not much unlike the old stage direction in Macbeth, where the “ Apparition of a child crowned with a tree in his hand rises."
Reader, if thou meetest one of these small gentry in thy early rambles, it is good to give him a penny. It is better to give him twopence. If it be starving weather, and to the proper troubles of his hard occupation, a pair of kibed heels (no unusual accompaniment) be superadded, the demand on thy humanity will surely rise to a tester.
There is a composition, the groundwork of which I have understood to be the sweet wood yclept sassafras. This wood, boiled down to a kind of tea, and tempered with an infusion of milk and sugar, hath to some tastes a delicacy beyond the China luxury. I know not how thy palite may rel ish it; for myself, with every deference to the judicious Mr. Read, who hath time out of mind kept open a shop (the only one, he avers, in London) for the vending of this “ wholesome and pleasant beverage," on the south side of Fleet-street, as thou approachest Bridge-street-the only Salopian house-I have never yet adventured to dip my own particular lip in a basin of his commended ingredients—a cautious premonition to the olfactories constantly whispering to me that my stomach must infallibly, with all due courtesy, decline it. Yet I have seen palates, otherwise not uninstructed in dietetical elegances, sup it up with avidity.
I know not by what particular conformation of the organ it happens, but I have always found that this composition is surprisingly gratifying to the palate of a young chimney sweeper-whether the oily particles (sassafras is slightly oleaginous) do attenuate and soften the fuliginous concretions, which are sometimes found (in dissections) to adhere to the roof of the mouth in these unfledged practitioners; or whether Nalure, sensible that she had mingled too much of bitter wood in the lot of these raw victiins, caused to grow out of the earth her sassafras for a sweet lenitive--but so it is, that no possible taste or odour to the senses of a young chimney sweeper can convey a delicate excitement comparable to this mixture. Being penniless, they will yet hang their black heads over the ascending steam, to gratify one sense if pos