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Where Pleasure whirls about incessantly,
And life and labor seem but one, I filled
An idler's place; an idler well content
To have a house (what matter for a home?)
That owned him; living cheerfully abroad
With unchecked fancy ever on the stir,
And all my young affections out of doors.

There was a time when whatsoe'er is feigned Of airy palaces, and gardens built

By Genii of romance; or hath in grave
Authentic history been set forth of Rome,
Alcairo, Babylon, or Persepolis ;

Or given upon report by pilgrim friars,
Of golden cities ten months' journey deep
Among Tartarian wilds, fell short, far short,
Of what my fond simplicity believed

And thought of London,-held me by a chain
Less strong of wonder and obscure delight.
Whether the bolt of childhood's Fancy shot
For me beyond its ordinary mark,

'T were vain to ask; but in our flock of boys
Was one, a cripple from his birth, whom chance
Summoned from school to London; fortunate
And envied traveller! When the Boy returned,
After short absence, curiously I scanned
His mien and person, nor was free, in sooth,
From disappointment, not to find some change
In look and air, from that new region brought,
As if from Fairy-land. Much I questioned him ;

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And every word he uttered, on my ears
Fell flatter than a cagèd parrot's note,
That answers unexpectedly awry,

And mocks the prompter's listening. Marvellous things

Had vanity (quick Spirit that appears
Almost as deeply seated and as strong
In a Child's heart as fear itself) conceived
For my enjoyment. Would that I could now
Recall what then I pictured to myself

Of mitred Prelates, Lords in ermine clad,
The King, and the King's Palace, and, not last,
Nor least, Heaven bless him! the renowned Lord
Mayor :

Dreams not unlike to those which once begat
A change of purpose in young Whittington,
When he, a friendless and a drooping boy,
Sat on a stone, and heard the bells speak out
Articulate music. Above all, one thought
Baffled my understanding: how men lived
Even next-door neigbors, as we say, yet still
Strangers, not knowing each the other's name.

O wondrous power of words, by simple faith Licensed to take the meaning that we love! Vauxhall and Ranelagh! I then had heard Of your green groves, and wilderness of lamps Dimming the stars, and fireworks magical, And gorgeous ladies, under splendid domes, Floating in dance, or warbling high in air

The songs of spirits! Nor had Fancy fed
With less delight upon that other class
Of marvels, broad-day wonders permanent:
The River proudly bridged; the dizzy top
And Whispering Gallery of St. Paul's; the tombs
Of Westminster; the Giants of Guildhall;
Bedlam, and those carved maniacs at the gates,
Perpetually recumbent; Statues — man,
And the horse under him. in gilded pomp
Adorning flowery gardens, 'mid vast squares;
The Monument, and that Chamber of the Tower
Where England's sovereigns sit in long array,
Their steeds bestriding, every mimic shape
Cased in the gleaming mail the monarch wore,
Whether for gorgeous tournament addressed,
Or life or death upon the battle-field.

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Those bold imaginations in due time
Had vanished, leaving others in their stead:
And now I looked upon the living scene;
Familiarly perused it; oftentimes,
In spite of strongest disappointment, pleased
Through courteous self-submission, as a tax
Paid to the object by prescriptive right.

Rise up, thou monstrous ant-hill on the plain Of a too busy world! Before me flow, Thou endless stream of men and moving things! Thy every-day appearance, as it strikes With wonder heightened, or sublimed by awe—On strangers, of all ages; the quick dance ́

Of colors, lights, and forms; the deafening din;
The comers and the goers face to face,
Face after face; the string of dazzling wares,
Shop after shop, with symbols, blazoned names,
And all the tradesman's honors overhead:
Here fronts of houses, like a title-page,
With letters huge inscribed from top to toe,
Stationed above the door, like guardian saints;
There, allegoric shapes, female or male,
Or physiognomies of real men,

Land-warriors, kings, or admirals of the sea,
Boyle, Shakespeare, Newton, or the attractive


Of some quack-doctor, famous in his day.

Meanwhile the roar continues, till at length, Escaped as from an enemy, we turn Abruptly into some sequestered nook, Still as a sheltered place when winds blow loud! At leisure, thence, through tracts of thin resort, And sights and sounds that come at intervals, We take our way. A raree-show is here, With children gathered round; another street Presents a company of dancing dogs, Or dromedary, with an antic pair Of monkeys on his back; a ministrel band Of Savoyards; or, single and alone, An English ballad-singer. Private courts, Gloomy as coffins, and unsightly lanes



Thrilled by some female vendor's scream, belike
The very shrillest of all London cries,
May then entangle our impatient steps;
Conducted through those labyrinths, unawares,
To privileged regions and inviolate,
Where from their airy lodges studious lawyers
Look out on waters, walks, and gardens green.

Thence back into the throng, until we reach, Following the tide that slackens by degrees, Some half-frequented scene, where wider streets Bring straggling breezes of suburban air. Here files of ballads dangle from dead walls; Advertisements, of giant size, from high Press forward, in all colors, on the sight; These, bold in conscious merit, lower down; That, fronted with a most imposing word, Is, peradventure, one in masquerade. As on the broadening causeway we advance, Behold, turned upwards, a face hard and strong In lineaments, and red with over-toil. 'T is one encountered here and everywhere; A travelling cripple, by the trunk cut short, And stumping on his arms. In sailor's garb Another lies at length, beside a range Of well-formed characters, with chalk inscribed Upon the smooth flat stones: the Nurse is here, The Bachelor, that loves to sun himself,

The military Idler, and the Dame,

That field-ward takes her walk with decent steps.

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