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London's wakeful existence, has subsided by de. seen by the vigilant eye of the police. And thongh grees into a silence, settled, calm, and deep, and it may chance that to-morrow's "Times" may tell only broken now by the echoing footfall of some of some daring and successful foray upon the boardbelated traveller hastening homeward, or houseless ed stock of jeweller or banker, upon the very spot vagrant wandering drearily in search of a secret where we are now loitering, the exploit will be nook or hospitable shelter in which to stretch his betrayed by no unusual or suspicious sound: perwearied limbs. The slightest sound is reverberated chance, if violence is to be used, it will be done between the lofty walls of houses, and the echoes under cover of a clanking cart, ingeniously loaded of our own footsteps, as we plod quietly along, to produce the greatest uproar, in which the lesser return to us from the other side of the way, as noise of the wrench or the crow-bar will be though some invisible companion dogged our mareh drowned. and mimicked every movement we make. Now As the clock strikes one, we are on London and then the loud discordant voices of a group of Bridge, and, for a wonder-for such a thing is not late revellers returning from their orgies, affront usual even at that hour-find it apparently deserted. the solemn ear of midnight with yells of insane The forest of shipping which lines either bank, but merriment and drunken laughter, at which the faintly discerned in the waning moonlight, is buried heart of genuine and innocent mirth sickens with in profound repose, broken only by the gurgling of disgust. At intervals the heavy-laden team is the water, and the feeble far-off hiss of some lateheard grinding its laborious way along the central arrived steamer, discharging her steam for the causeway, on its route, with huge piles of luggage, night. As we gaze down upon the rushing stream, to the out-lying railway station ; and the clang of a boat shoots rapidly beneath the arch, in which the driver's whip, the trampling of the horses' feet, four human forms are for a moment visible, and and the tinkling of their garniture of bells, wake then lost in the gloom. They are the Thames the discomfited sleeper from his first repose, who Police on the look-out for river pirates, who, but lies and listens as the disturbance dies into a lulla- for their watchful guardianship, would levy terrible by, and he dreams again. But even these indica contributions upon the cargoes of vessels lying at tions of life gradually vanish and subside, and as anchor. On the other side, long rows of lights, we enter the precincts of the old city, nought reflected in glimmering red drops in the current beyond the stealthy tread of the policeman on his below, mark the track of the various bridges across round intrudes upon the quiet of the hour. the channel of the river. Nothing moves upon its
It seems strange to remark that the city, which surface save its own noiseless ripple. is by day the centre of life and activity-the very But let us now take such a glance as our limits focus of commerce, with all its accompanying bustle will allow, of that section of London society whose and turmoil—is at night the most undisturbed and lot it is to be frequently, if not always, awake while tranquil portion of the whole metropolis.. A dead, others slumber, and to earn their daily bread, or to sepulchral silence seems to reign in the deserted perpetrate their follics, or suffer the woes of their thoroughfares, where but a few hours ago the ear cheerless lot, during the lours of night. Whither was distracted by every variety of sounds, blending shall we go? Here comes a night cab-man, who in one confused and overwhelming murmur. À will drive us anywhere--and by his side we mount stillness so sudden and complete, amidst those lofty on the box. He is ready of speech, and has no avenues of wealth and traffic, where now no sound secrets, and details his history as he drives along. or tread is distinguishable--no voice of inquiry or He tells us he was a journeyman printer--a pressresponse is heard-has a solemn suggestiveness, man—and worked at Strahan's for many years; and awakens a train of pensive reflections which is that when there he married, but soon found that easier, and to some minds pleasanter, to entertain his earnings would not support his wife and rising than it might be to give them a definite expres- family in the comfort she had been used to.. So lie sion. The deep silence which broods around is ex expended the little money they had in the purchase plainable by the fact that this, the most populous of a cab and horses, by means of which, being his quarter of London during business hours, is the own proprietor, he managed by diligence, and by least populous after nightfall
. Of the myriads the use of a commodity scarce among liis craft, who during the day congregate here to pursue the called civility, to double his income. He has taken engrossing occupations of their lives, not one-third to night-work latterly, he says, because he wants remain during the night; and the majority of those to make a little money to apprentice his eldest boy who do remain, whatever their status in society, to an engineer, on board one of the foreign steam. are for the most part of that class who in their ers. He is fluent on the statistics of the cab waking hours have paid the price of sleep sound business, and no consideration, short of absolute and deep, and are now enjoying it. The times are starvation, would induce him to drive another altered since the good old citizens each barred him- man's cab or to let his son do so. Whither shall self in his citadel at sunset, and abandoned the he drive us? To the printing-office, where, amidst causeway to knaves, swashbucklers, and plunderers, the glare of gas and the heat and stench of an who looked upon every one as their lawful prey abominable atmosphere, the miles of columns which, that ventured into the dim-lighted streets after when morning comes, are to feed the public appedarkness had set in. We can walk these quiet tite for news, are hustling and scrambling into solitudes now at this hour, as safely as though the existence-- where compositors and "readers," and sun were high in the sky and the busy world of " grass-cutters” and makers-up, and galley-slaves London on foot around us--perhaps, indeed, more and engine-men, and machine boys and mes. so. The modern robber is no brawling bully, but sengers, reporters and penny-a-liners, etc. etc., all a lurking sneak, who glides about in shadow and dripping with perspiration and frantic with haste, darkness, and whose design is defeated if he be are seething and steaming in one tremendous stew, the dishing-up of which will be the morning paper, mass of rags and squalor ; and all, utterly beaten as it lies damp on your breakfast table ? or where, and exbausted with combined hunger and weariin gangs of a hundred or more, men and boys are ness, await the coming of that brief oblivion which engaged in similar labours, which are to result in slumber confers on the hopeless and desolate. a blue-book for parliamentary digestion, and which Leaving these London lazzaroni to the enjoyis guaranteed to come forth and enlighten the ment of such solace as sleep can afford them, we world to-morrow! It were curious to observe how pursue our way westward, and, attracted by a light thoroughly the order of nature is inverted by the at the end of a court which debouches upon a cab. race of men whose midnight is twelve at noon, stand in a main street, enter without ceremony one who breakfast at eight or nine in the evening, and of those night-houses of refreshment whose doors dine at two in the morning-taking their supper are never closed to the public. Coffee, of a rather and " turning in” just as other people are turning second-hand sort of flavour, is set before us, the out. In this life-long game of contrarieties, they discussion of which affords an opportunity of look. drag at their heels a large tribe of the humblest ing round upon the company. They are not very class, who make a living by ministering to their numerous, hardly a dozen in all. Four or five of wants.
them are evidently "watermen," in attendance While we are inwardly debating whither we upon the cab-stand outside, and these are sleeping, shall go, our driver has brought us to the verge or attempting to sleep, over their empty cups and of what still survives of the old rookery of St. saucers. Some are jobbers in the neighbouring Giles's, and we dismount to take a glance at this market, who have no regular homenat least in old and classic locality. A few minutes' walk, and summer timemand who will remain here till the we are in the heart of the far-famed district of dawn gives them a chance of employment. A few dirt, and in presence of a spectacle worthy of re- are cab-drivers, some of whom are busy with plates mark, and not likely soon to fade from the remem- of hot sausages and mugs of steaming coffee. There brance. It is an hour and a half past midnight, is a vehement discussion, partaking very much of or nearly that, as we stand in street, in which the nature of a monologue, going forward-the every house is a lodging-house, open for the recep- presiding genius being a nondescript figure, in tion of no particular number of occupants, but for whom an air of reckless daring and independence all, who or whatever they may be, that can pay is combined with every outward and visible demonthreepence for a bed or a penny for liberty to lie stration of the most abject necessity. He is not on the floor. This locality is a nightly and well. much above thirty years of age, and is buttoned known refuge for the lowest dregs of society, to the chin in an old surtout so closely as to leave whether needy or criminal, or both. It is here the existence of a shirt a matter of doubt, were it that the most wretched class of unfortunates of not that by his violent gesticulation he discloses, either sex, goaded by famine and exhaustion, seek through innumerable rents and slits, the fact that oblivion of their sorrows in sleep. Hither come that indispensable item to the respectability of a the ruined tradesman and the moneyless artisan gentleman is wanting. His hat has but half a for a shelter, in company with the habitual drunk. rim, but his chin is shadowed by a fortnight's ard, who lives but for the gratification of his own growth of stubble. His nether habiliments are unnatural appetite, and who wants but a congenial fringed about his ankles with dirty, pendulous stye in which to kennel himself for the night. shreds, and his toes look out upon society through Hither come the pickpocket and the smasher, be- chasms in a pair of Wellingtons. He talks loudly, cause here, under cover of darkness, they can skulk fluently, and correctly, if not exactly in the lanin security; and with them comes the friendless guage of a gentleman, yet in the diction, at least, and homeless wanderer, guileless of all but poverty, of one accustomed to educated company. Her to find temporary repose at a price which even he majesty's ministers have the good fortune to merit can pay. And here they are all, swarming in the his approbation, so far as they have acted hitherto; open air, seated on door-steps, or supine upon the but he foresees the rock upon which they will pavement-not yet daring to go to bed, though split, unless of which he has his doubts—they be they have mostly paid the price of their lodgings. well backed by the country. He is satirical on There are a thousand reasons--reasons not to be the score of the budget; but, had he been at the mentioned to ears polite--why they should not chancellor's elbow, he could have whispered just turn in, after a day so hot as the past has been, the one thing which would have made it acceptable until the first streak of dawn begins to appear. to the public. In the heat of his harangue he Some few who can afford the expense of a candle calls, rather pompously and parenthetically, for are already fast asleep, and we see their lights "coffee and two thin." The waiter or landlord, blinking dinily in upper stories ; but the majority or both in one, steals out of the little dark cavern are waiting for the first appearance of day, whose in the rear, and holds out his hand to the oratorrising beams will put the entomological host to a silent reminder of an unpaid score chalked up flight, before they venture into their grim cham against the inner wall. The politician draws himbers of repose. The lane is very partially lighted, self up with dignity, and gives a half-appealing, and the glass of the gas-lamps has been wantonly half-indignant look around upon the company. pelted away to the last fragment. The flame A devouring but sympathizing cabman looks up flickers in the night-breeze, and casts its fitful from his plate and roars, "Sarve it, I'll stand gleams upon every form of poverty and wretched-treat for vonce;" and the viands are set before the ness and vice, here huddled together as in a com• starving Demosthenes, who, drawing off the fragmon asylum. Men and boys of all ages, old women ment of a glove, addresses himself deliberately to and young girls--some bareheaded and with naked their consumption. He talks on, nevertheless, feet-are crowded together in one indiscriminate perhaps in self-defence, to ward off the coarse jocularity of his entertainers, who, strangers to cessant crash of rattles—the heavy tramp of delicacy, and insensible themselves to the shafts of hurrying feet-the vision of dusky forms hastensative, are apt to administer it with a barbarous ing to and fro, which almost appear to rise out of clumsiness, lacerating to the feelings of one who, the earth—and the loud and reiterated cry of though confessing that he is unfortunate, feels "Fire! fire!” Householders, leaping from their himself a gentleman notwithstanding. Ten minutes sleep, throw up their windows, and projecting in the atmosphere of this midnight hostel have set themselves half out in their night-gear, ask anxus perspiring at every pore, and in spite of the iously, “Where? where?' It is round the charms of his rhetoric, we bid adieu to the orator corner ; and on coming in sight of the house we in the middle of one of his finest periods.
see the dense smoke issuing from the fan-light over Our way lies still westwards, though not in the the entrance to the shop, and from the interstices most beaten route, and we are soon on the skirts between the shutters. The policeman is banging of what has always appeared to us, when viewed at the door with all bis might, but no one answers. at this dead hour before the dawn, as the most The house appears to be empty. In a few minutes remarkable and suggestive spectacle which London a crowd of some hundreds has collected, and the has to offer to the contemplation of the nightly neighbours have illuminated their windows to wanderer. We allude to the apparently number- throw light on the scene; but as yet, nothing can less and interminable rows of streets lying in the be done to check the conflagration. Already the voiceless silence, and distinctly mapped out by the long tongues of flame curl round the blistered long and regular lines of lamps on either side of shutters, which are glowing in a red heat, and the way. There is no other spectacle that we soon fall in charred fragments to the ground. know of that intimates so significantly the huge Now the windows of the first-floor burst outwards extent of this overgrown metropolis. The dead with a sharp explosion, and the flame pours forth dumbness that reigns in these long, empty avenues like a stream rushing upwards. Now comes the appals the mind, and sends the imagination of the first engine, crashing and galloping over the stones pedestrian wandering for ever onwards and on- with a portentous deafening din but too well known wards. Lost in some such reverie, we wander on to the dwellers in London. The street is ankle-deep unwittingly, till happening to trench upon the in water from the mains which the turncock has world of fashion, we are aroused suddenly by the opened, and in a few seconds after the arrival of the consciousness that, amidst this city of the dead, firemen, a copious stream from the hose is hissing there is a focus of feverish life, where pleasure in the flames. The neighbours on each side of holds her court while all abound is hushed in tran- the burning house are with good reason alarmed, quillity. The echoes are all at once invaded by the and it is interesting to watch the difference in their trampling of steeds and the rattle of chariots, which conduct. The one on the right begins throwing rush rapidly by us, and almost before we are aware out his goods, which the crowd receive, and, carry. of it we are in the presence of a score or two more, ing them across the road, pile them up against an drawn up in double lines fronting the city residence opposite house. The other, who appears to have of some one whose lady has been holding a soirée confidence in the party-wall, or else in the exertions to-night, which is now on the point of breaking of the firemen, is seen walking about his drawingup. The honourable Miss So-and-so's carriage room, carrying a candle with him, and occasionally stops the way for a moment or two and then rolls feeling the wall with his hand now taking down off; there is a loud cry for my lord Somebody's a picture or a mirror—now drawing away a piece vehicle, which the coachman has contrived to lock of furniture from the hot brick-work. It is plain between two others, to the imminent danger of that he intends to risk his property, for, having two footmen in calves, who are hanging on behind. sent off his family to the shelter of a neighbour's The police have some trouble in disentangling the house, he follows himself, locking the door after Gordian knot, and at length my lord is gone. him, and pocketing the key. The roof of the "Lady Dashville's carriage !" is the next sonorous burning house falls in, and now nothing but the utterance which makes vocal the midnight air, and four walls, glowing red as an oven, remain. More her ladyship is accommodated in her turn. In the engines have arrived ; and though the destruction meanwhile there is a sound of music and revelry of the dwelling is complete, they prevent the in the brilliant drawing-room above, and the as- spread of the fire by torrents of water on the sembly, falling off by degrees, will occupy yet an houses adjoining. When the uproar has a little hour in dissolving away. We have not leisure to subsided, the voice of a female is distinguished await the finale, but turning our face northward, screaming beneath the ground, when it is disand quickening our pace, soon leave the gay world covered that a very juvenile servant-girl and a of bon-ton to its questionable enjoyments. baby have taken refuge in the coal-cellar, from
The moon, which for the last hour has got fixed which their egress barred by accumulations of by the horns in a low cloud, now glimmers out fallen rubbish. The fireren dig up the grating, above it, and lights us pleasantly on our path as and soon hoist them out; and then it appears that we enter upon a district the very reverse of fashion- they were the only persons in the bouse, the master able, where the sons of trade who keep open and mistress having gone off early in the evening market for the middle and lower classes, lead their to join a wedding party, and left the girl to wait lives of anxiety and toil. It is now half-past two up for them till their return. She had fallen asleep o'clock, and the nearest approach to complete and with the babe in her lap, and being awoke by the general silence that London ever knows, reigns fire, which occurred she cannot tell how, had barely around as we pursue our solitary way. Hark! time to escape with the infant into the coal cellar. what noise is that? Bang ! bang !” a loud and This explanation is hardly furnished, when up furious knocking at doors—the startling and in- drive the master and mistress in a cab. A single
glance shows the extent of the calamity; from the foundest speculation, that any attempt of the kind skirts of the crowd we can discern nothing but a would have led us beyond our limits, which it may few gestures of alarm on the part of the husband, be thought we have, as it is, too far exceeded. We a few more of maternal feeling on the part of the leave our readers to manufacture their own philowife; the nurse and babe are received into the cab, sophy out of the materials we have supplied. Vaand the whole freight drives off again. Day-dawn ried, and fragmentary, and startling, and even repulis beginning to glimmer in the east as we leave sive as are some of the details in the general picture behind us the scene of this brief but eventful act we have drawn, it has yet its bright and hopeful in the life of a London shopkeeper.
aspects, upon which it is a pleasure to dwell ; and We are verging homewards, and are almost upon it must be a true picture, as far as it goes, because the boundary of the suburb where we dwell, when we have set down nothing which our own eyes have we are unexpectedly confronted by an intimation not witnessed. If we have sought sometimes to that the coming day is quarter-day. This intima- amuse, we have also had a higher object in view; tion is one which we are sorry to observe is dis- and we may be allowed to commend the reader, in gracefully common in London, and is nothing less revolving the subject in his mind, to adopt the than a stolen night-march, a surreptitious fitting spirit of one of America's poets, in whose words by starlight from the threatening grasp of the we close our desultory survey. landlord, by a defaulting tenant. A couple of
“ Not in the solitude those monster vans used for moving goods are Alone may man commune with heaven, or sce drawn up, with their open mouths yawning to- Only in savage wood wards the street door of a semi-genteel semi-villa. And sunny vale, the present Deity ; Both vans are loading at once, and with the aid of
Or only hear his voice
Where the winds whisper and the waves rejoice. a dozen pair of hands, a whole auctioneer's catalogue of furniture is tumbled into them, and in
“Even here do I behold
Thy steps, Almighty ;-here amidst the crowd, less than twenty minutes the house will be empty
Through the great city rolld, of both goods and tenants. When the landlord
With everlasting murmur deep and loud comes, as he has threatened to come, at twelve Choking the ways that wind o'clock, he will find neither debtor to dun, nor 'Mongst the proud piles, the work of human kiud. property to seize. If the migratory tenant be an “ Thy golden sunshine comes old systematic practitioner, it is a chance whether From the round heaven, and on their dwellings lies, he even find the key, and have not to redeem pos
And lights their inner homes; session of his own house by payment of something
For them thou fill'st with air the unbounded skies,
And givest them the stores more than a trifling gratuity.
Of ocean, and the harvests of its shores. The stars begin to pale in the sky; and that cold, winter-breathing wind, the sure precursor of
" Thy spirit is around,
Quickening the restless mass that sweeps along; coming dawn, stirs the dense foliage of June, as And this eternal sound we hasten homewards. At this hour the cats Voices and footfalls of the numberless thronghave the sole possession of the causeway, and stalk
Like the resounding sea, leisurely and confidently from area to area, from
Or like the rainy tempest, speaks of thee. wall to wall, and from roof to roof, making the
“ And when the hours of rest morning twilight vocal with their squalling sere
Come, like a calm upon the mid-sea brine,
IÍushing its billowy breastnades. These are soon thrown into the shade by
The qniet of that moment too is thine; the sparrows, whose unnumbered hosts wake into
It breathes of Him who keeps voice at the first blink of daylight, and with end- The vast and helpless city while it sleeps." less chirrup and twitter commence their domestic duties. At this particular season their nests are filled with unfledged young, in whose behalf they
COMMANDER MCLURE AND THE do battle fiercely with one another for the possession of those thoughtless gentry the worms and
NORTH-WEST PASSAGE. slugs, who would risk their necks, if they had The enterprise of ages has at last been all but necks, for the sake of revelling in the fresh dew of accomplished, after baffling the skill and daring of the morning. Cock-sparrow is monarch of London | the most competent naval commanders and wellduring these “small hours," and certainly is more appointed crews. We refer to the circumnaviganumerous in his generation than any other tribe, tion of North America, comm
mmonly called the northeither of bipeds or quadrupeds, living above west passage, though, as now nearly performed, an ground, located within the sound of Bow-bells. opposite direction has been followed that of a If a census could be taken of the London spar. north-east route from Behring's Strait.
Three rows, we are inclined to think that the sum total centuries and a half have elapsed since the attempt would amount to five millions at least—more than commenced to find a shorter passage to India, doubling the human population.
through some strait or inlet believed to exist in
the northern part of the western world, which Here we put an end to our ramble. We have might prove a navigable channel from the Atlantic spent twenty-four hours in wandering through the to the Pacific ocean. Of our own countrymen, the modern Babylon, and contemplating some few of names of Frobisher, Davis, Hudson, Bylot, and the multiplied phases of life which her ever-shift- Baffin, seamen of the sixteenth century, occur ing panorama presents to the eye. We have in among those who engaged in hazardous undertakdulged in few reflections—not because the subject ings to realize this delusive idea. Though classed is not sufficiently suggestive, but because, on the in modern times with hopeless speculations, (and contrary, it is so abounding in matter for the pro- properly so, as to any line of practicable and useful