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Shakspere. What idea I annexed to them, I know not: but I must have annexed some; for I remember quite well, being interested in the subject. Indeed, I rather suspect, that children derive impulses of a powerful and important kind, in hearing things which they cannot entirely comprehend; and therefore, that to write down to children's understanding, is a mis. take. Set them on the scent, and let them puzzle it out.”
Scott was then in his eighth year; Charley in his fourth : so we must take the above extract and application, cum grano salis, for what it is worth, which I still think, is something considerable, testing it by my own juvenile reminiscences upon such subjects.
We then went to Ollivant's, jewellers, in Exchangestreet; and then to Satterfield's shop, in St. Ann'ssquare, all of which appeared to me like the renovation of an antecedent mode of existence, combining at once, the advantages of novelty, with the pleasures of memory. Thence back to Hunt's Bank Station, from whence I walked alone to Marsden-street, and called upon our worthy friend and relative, Mr A. P-, who returned with me to the station, and remained until the signal-bell rang:
On my way to and from Marsden-street, I traversed streets, lanes, and alleys, that reminded me forcibly of days of yore—of “auld lang syne,”—of events that had slumbered for years in the catacombs of my brain, and which brought back to my recollection, Mr. Hutton's pathetic description of his feelings, upon revisiting his native town, after an absence of forty years. “Unknown in Derby, I stand clear of prejudice, when I silently wander from the extremity of St. Mary's Bridge to that of St. Peter's parish, without meeting one single face that I know; I cannot but consider myself as a stranger at home—but though forgotten, I cannot forget. I beheld with emotion the buildings, altered with time, and reflect with a sigh, that every house has changed its inhabitants, and that I have to mourn a whole generation, that are swept into the grave.” Such are amongst the magic mysteries of memory; almost analagous in its effects to those attributed to the operations of opium, as described by its victim, De Quincy, as follows:
“O just, subtle, and mighty opium, that to the hearts of poor and rich alike, for the wounds that will never heal, and for the pangs that tempt the spirit to rebel, bringest an assuaging balm. Eloquent opium! that with thy potent rhetoric turnest away the purposes of wrath; and to the guilty man, for one night, givest back the hopes of his youth, and hands washed
of blood; and to the proud man, a brief oblivion for wrongs unredressed, and insults unavenged; that summonest to the chancery of dreams, for the triumph of suffering innocence, false witnesses, and confoundest perjury, and dost reverse the sentences of unrighteous judges. Thou buildest upon the bosom of darkness, out of the fantastic imagery of the brain, cities and temples, beyond the art of Phidias and Praxitiles, beyond the splendours of Babylon and Hekatompylos; and, from the anarchy of dreaming sleep, callest into sunny light, the faces of long buried beauties, and the blessed household countenances cleansed from the dishonours of the grave. Thou alone givest these gifts to man; and thou hast the keys of Paradise, just, subtle, and mighty opium."
Perhaps, also, the following passage from the selfsame author, may not be deemed altogether incongruous to the interesting topic in question.
“So, then, Oxford-street, stony-hearted stepmother, thou that listenest to the sighs of orphans, and drinkest the tears of children, at length I was dismissed from thee; the time was come at last, that I should no more pace, in anguish, thy never-ending terraces, no more should dream and wake in captivity, to the pangs of hunger. Successors, too many, to myself and Ann, have doubtless, since trodden in our footsteps, inheritors of our calamities: other orphans than Ann have sighed; tears have been shed by other children; and thou, Oxford-street, hast since, doubtless, echoed to the groans of innumerable hearts. For myself, however, the storm which I had outlined, seemed to have been the pledge of a long fair weather —the premature sufferings which I had paid down, to have been accepted as a ransom,
many years to come; as a price of a long immunity from sorrow; and, if again I walked in Oxford-street, a solitary and contemplative man, it was, for the most part, in serenity and peace of mind.”
At half-past two we departed for our destination, by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which is seven miles round, as compared with the Bolton line, and at a quarter to five, we reached Blackpool, after having been detained half an hour at the Preston station.
Parvis componere magna
To compare this last trip of mine from Preston, with the first I took, A.D. 1809, inside a covered cart, called the Blackpool mail, drawn the whole way by one horse, which, leaving proud Preston at twelve at noon, actually achieved the nineteen miles by eight, p.m. Eight mortal hours were we upon the road, the tedium of which was beguiled, or otherwise, by music matrimonial—the almost incessant squalling of an infant.
From Poulton to Blackpool there is only a single line of rails. On the Macclesfield line, children, under ten, are charged half-price. On the Blackpool line they are charged half-price, between four and ten; under four, nothing.
By some mistake or other at the Hunt's Bank Station, not being “wide awake,” I suppose, I took five tickets, instead of four; and at Preston and at Poulton I endeavoured to rectify the mistake, and to procure a return of the 9s. 6d., but in vain.
At Blackpool I tried again, and with rather better