Page images
PDF
EPUB

don, possesses the same permanent charm to a stranger as Regent Street. Buckingham Palace, the Parks, the British Museum, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul's, the Thames Tunnel, and a score of other places which it is unnecessary to name, may all rely upon receiving an early visit from him; but nobody ever hears of his expressing a wish to see any of them a second time. With Regent Street the case is different. The charm which it possessed in his eye when he first put his foot in it, continues in all its original brightness: it never loses its loveliness; its attractions do not diminish by familiarity. The splendour of its shops, the rich and neverending variety of the objects contained in its windows; the crowds of well-dressed persons perpetually promenading its pavements; the dashing equipages, tenanted by the beauty and fashion of the land, which sweep past you in a stream of unbroken continuity ;--these are among the things which render Regent Street a place of perpetual interest and attraction to the stranger, and which, it might be added, prevent its becoming uninteresting or unattractive even to the eye of him who has been for years a resident in the metropolis.

The bustle of Cheapside and the other crowded streets in the city contrasted strongly, in Joseph's view, with the stillness and repose of the peaceful village which he had left. He wondered whether the streets could be always as crowded as when he was proceeding along them, or whether there might not be some particular cause for the moving masses of human beings which he beheld passing to and fro whenever he chanced to be out. He was scarcely less confounded at the multitudes of horses, omnibuses, coaches, and other vehicles, which he saw in every direction. The whole scene was beyond anything he had ever conceived. It surpassed all his ideas of the business and bustle of the metropolis. It was with difficulty he could persuade himself that it was not all a dream. Could it be real ? Did not his senses deceive him? And if not-if what he saw was an actual scene—if it was only an every-day sight, whence could the vast concourse come from? Where were they proceeding to? What were their modes of earning a subsistence? How could they pursue their respective avocations amidst so much bustle and confusion? These were questions which obtruded themselves on his mind; and the more he meditated on them, the more was he perplexed at the mysteries of metropolitan life.

These, however, were only evanescent feelings. The novelty of the scene gradually wore off. Joseph's eye became familiarized to everything he saw around him, and the bustle and business ceased to excite his wonder. Ere two months had elapsed, he could pass along Cheapside without indulging in a single feeling of surprise at the immense masses of men that are there continually moving in opposite currents. But, indeed, for the rough jostling which he

had every now and then to encounter in consequence of the crowd, he might have passed along without discovering that he had not the pavement to himself: so powerful are the effects of habit.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER II.

Visits Cogers' Hall-Account of the origin, appearance, and

nature of the place-A ludicrous incident.

Every day of the first fortnight was diligently improved by Joseph in visiting the principal places of resort for strangers. But he was not one that would be satisfied with seeing the ordinary sights; he wanted to witness human nature in the various phases it assumes in all great cities; but especially in such a place as the modern Babylon. He had been to both Houses of Parliament, but he had not yet visited a subordinate sort of senate, of which he had read in Scotland, wherein all the more prominent political questions of the day were nightly discussed, and where the speeches were said to be, in

many instances, as able and eloquent as any which are delivered in either branch of the Legislature.

« PreviousContinue »