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the final post-house on every avenue to London, for the latter ten or twelve miles, you become aware that you are no longer noticed: nobody sees you; nobody hears you; nobody regards you; you do not even regard yourself. In fact, how should you, at the moment of first ascertaining your own total unimportance in the sum of things—a poor shivering unit in the aggregate of human life? Now, for the first time, whatever manner of man you were or seemed to be at starting, squire or ‘squireen,' lord or lordling, and however related to that city, hamlet, or solitary house, from which yesterday or to-day you slipt your cable,- beyond disguise you find yourself but one wave in a total Atlantic, one plant, (and a parasitical plant besides, needing alien props,) in a forest of America.
These are feelings which do not belong by preference to thoughtful people far less to people merely sentimental. No man ever was left to himself for the first time in the streets, as yet unknown, of London, but he must have been saddened and mortified, perhaps terrified, by the sense of desertion and utter loneliness which belong to his situation. No loneliness can be like that which weighs upon the heart in the centre of faces neverending, without voice or utterance for him; eyes innumerable, that have no speculation' in their orbs which he can understand; and hurrying figures of men and women weaving to and fro, with no apparent purposes intelligible to a stranger, seeming like a masque of maniacs, or a pageant of shadowy illusions. The great length of the streets, in many quarters of London, the continual opening of transient glimpses into other vistas equally far-stretching, going off at angles to the one which you are traversing, and the murky atmosphere which, settling upon the remoter end of every long avenue, wraps its termination in gloom and uncertainty —
all these are circumstances aiding that sense of vastness and illimitable proportions, which for ever brood over the aspect of London in its interior. Much of the feeling which belongs to the outside of London, in its approaches for the last few miles, I had lost, in consequence of the stealthy route of bye-roads through which we crept into the suburbs. But for that reason, the more abrupt and startling had been the effect of emerging somewhere into the Edgeware road, and soon afterwards into the very streets of London itself; though what streets, or even what quarter of London, is now totally obliterated from my mind, having perhaps never been comprehended. All that I remember is, one monotonous awe and blind sense of mysterious grandeur and Babylonian confusion, which seemed to pursue and to invest the whole equipage of human life, as we moved for nearly two hours, through streets; sometimes brought to anchor for ten minutes or more, by what is technically called a 'lock,' that is, a line of carriages of every description inextricably massed, and obstructing each other, far as the eye could stretch; and then, as if under an enchanter's rod, the lock seemed to thaw, motion spread with the fluent race of light or sound, through the whole ice-bound mass, until the subtle influence reached us also; who were again absorbed into the great rush of flying carriages; or at times we turned off into some less tumultuous street, but of the same mile-long character; and, finally, drew up about noon, and alighted at some place which is as little within my distinct remembrances as the route by which we reached it.
For what had we come? To see London. And what were the limits within which we proposed to crowd that little feat? At five o'clock we were to dine at P—, a seat of Lord W. -'s grandfather; and, from the dis
tance, it was necessary that we should leave London at half-past three; so that a little more than three hours were all we had. Our charioteer, my friend's tutor, was summoned away from us on business, until that hour; and we were left, therefore, entirely to ourselves and to our own discretion in turning the time to the best account, for contriving (if such a thing were possible) to do something or other which, by any fiction of courtesy, or constructively, so as to satisfy a lawyer, or in a sense sufficient to win a wager, might be taken and received for having seen London.'
What could be done? We sat down, I remember, in a mood of despondency, to consider. Not that there was any want of alluring and promising spectacles: on the contrary there were too many; inopes nos copia fecit; and the choice was distracted. But which of them all could be thought general or representative enough to stand for the universe of London? We could not traverse the whole circumference of this mighty orb; that was clear; and, therefore, the next best thing was to place ourselves as much as possible in some relation to the spectacles of London, which might answer to the centre. Yet how? That sounded well and metaphysical; but what did it mean if acted upon? Apparently that we should stay at our inn: for in that way we seemed best to distribute our presence equally amongst all, viz. by going to none in particular.
Three, times in my life I have had my taste, that is, my sense of proportions, memorably outraged. Once was, by a painting of Cape Horn, which seemed almost treasonably below its rank and office in the world, -as the terminal abutment of our mightiest continent, and also the hinge or point, as it were, of our greatest circumnavigations, of all, in fact, which can be called
our classical circumnavigations. To have doubled Cape Horn' at one time, what a sound it had! — Yet how ashamed we should be, if that Cape were ever to be seen from the moon! A party of Englishmen, I have heard, went up Mount Etna, during the night, to be ready for sunrise, a common practice with tourists, both in Switzerland, Wales, Cumberland, &c.; but as all who take the trouble to reflect, not likely to repay the trouble; and so thought, in the sequel, the Etna party. The sun, indeed, rose visibly, and not more apparelled in clouds than was desirable: yet so disappointed were they with the whole effect, and so disgusted with the sun in particular, that they unanimously hissed him; though of course it was useless to cryoff! off!' Here, however, the fault was in their own erroneous expectations, and not in the sun, who, doubtless, did his best. For, generally, a sunrise and a sunset, ought to be seen from the valley or horizontally,*-not, as the man of Kentuck expressed it, slantindicularly. But as to Cape Horn, that (by comparison with its position and its functions) seems really a disgrace to the planet; for, consider, it is not only the specular mount,' keeping watch and ward over a sort of trinity of oceans, and, by all tradition, the gate of entrance to the Pacific, but also it is the temple of the god Terminus, for all the Americas. So that, in rela
* Hence it may be said, that nature regulates our position for such spectacles, without any intermeddling of ours. When, indeed, a mountain stands like Snowdon or Great Gavel, in Cumberland, in the centre of a mountainous region, it is not denied that, at some seasons when the early beams strike through great vistas in the hills, splendid effects of light and shade are sometimes produced; strange, however, rather than beautiful. But from an insulated mountain, or one upon the outer ring of the hilly tract, such as Skiddaw, in Cumberland, the first effect is to translate the landscape from a picture into a map; and the final result, as a celebrated author once said, is the infinity of littleness.
tion to such dignities, it seemed to me, in the drawing, a make-shift, put up by a carpenter, until the true Cape Horn should be ready, or perhaps a drop scene from the Opera House. This was one case of disproportion: the others were, the final and ceremonial valediction of Garrick, on retiring from his profession; and the Pall Mall inauguration of George IV. on the day of his accession * to the throne. The utter irrelation, in both cases, of the audience to the scene, (audience, I say, as say we must, for the sum of the spectators in the second instance, as well as of the auditors in the first,) threw upon each a ridicule not to be effaced. It is in any case impossible for an actor to say words of farewell to those for whom he really designs his farewell. He cannot bring his true object before himself. To whom is it that he would offer his last adieus ? We are told by one, who, if he loved Garrick, certainly did not love Garrick's profession, nor would even, through him, have paid it any undue compliment, that the retirement of this great artist had eclipsed the gaiety of nations.' To nations then, to his own generation, it was that he owed his farewell: but of a generation, what organ is there which can sue or be sued, that can thank or be thanked? Neither by fiction,
* Accession was it, or his proclamation? The case was this: -About the middle of the day, (whether in plain clothes, or wearing any official costume, I do not recollect,) the King came out into the portico of Carlton House, and addressing himself (addressing his gestures I mean) to the assemblage of people in Pall Mall, he bowed repeatedly to the right and to the left, and then retired. I mean no disrespect to that prince in recalling those circumstances: no doubt, he acted upon the suggestion of others, and perhaps also under a sincere emotion on witnessing the enthusiasm of those outside: but that could not cure the original absurdity of recognising as a representative audience, clothed with the national functions of recognising himself, a chance gathering in a single street, between whom and the mob, from his own stables and kitchens, there was no essential difference.