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ESSAY VII.

ON LONDONERS AND COUNTRY PEOPLE.

ESSAY VII.

ON LONDONERS AND COUNTRY PEOPLE.

I do not agree with Mr. Blackwood in his definition of the word Cockney. He means by it a person who has happened at any time to live in London, and who is not a Tory-I mean by it a person who has never lived out of London, and who has got all his ideas from it.

The true Cockney has never travelled beyond the purlieus of the Metropolis, either in the body or the spirit. Primrose-bill is the Ultima Thule of his most romantic desires ; Greenwich Park stands him in stead of the Vales of Arcady. Time and space are lost to him. He is confined to one spot, and to the present moment. He sees every thing near, superficial, little, in hasty succession. The world turns round, and his head with it, like a roundabout at a fair, till he becomes stunned and giddy with the motion. Figures glide by as in a camera obscura. There is a glare, a perpetual hubbub, a noise, a crowd about him; he sees and hears

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a vast number of things, and knows nothing. He is pert, raw, ignorant, conceited, ridiculous, shallow, contemptible. His senses keep him alive; and he knows, inquires, and cares for nothing farther. He meets the Lord Mayor's coach, and without ceremony treats himself to an imaginary ride in it. He notices the people going to court or to a city-feast, and is quite satisfied with the show. He takes the wall of a Lord, and fancies himself as good as he. . He

Не sees an infinite quantity of people pass along the street, and thinks there is no such thing as life or a knowledge of character to be found out of London. • “Beyond Hyde Park all is a desart to him.” He despises the country, because he is ignorant of it, and the town, because he is familiar with it. He is as well acquainted with St. Paul's as if he had built it, and talks of Westminster Abbey and Poets? Corner with great indifference. The King, the House of

. Lords and Commons are his very good friends. He knows the members for Westminster or the City by sight, and bows to the Sheriffs or the Sheriffs' men. He is hand and glove with the Chairman of some Committee. He is, in short, a great man by proxy, and comes so often in contact with fine persons and things, that he rubs off a little of the gilding, and is surcharged

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with a sort of second-hand, vapid, tingling, troublesome self-importance. His personal vanity is thus continually flattered and perked up into ridiculous self-complacency, while his imagination is jaded and impaired by daily misuse. Every thing is vulgarised in his mind. Nothing dwells long enough on it to produce an interest; nothing is contemplated sufficiently at a distance to excite curiosity or wonder. Your true Cockney is your only true leveller. Let him be as low as he will, he fancies he is as good as any body else. He has no respect for himself, and still less (if possible) for you. He cares little about his own advantages, if he can only make a jest at yours. Every feeling comes to him through a medium of levity and impertinence; nor does he like to have this habit of mind disturbed by being brought into collision with any thing serious or respectable. He despairs (in such a crowd of competitors) of distinguishing himself, but laughs heartily at the idea of being able to trip up the heels of other people's pretensions: A Cockney feels no gratitude. This is a first principle with him. He regards any obligation you.confer upon him as a species of imposition, a ludicrous assumption of fancied superiority. He talks about every thing, for he has heard something about it; and understanding nothing

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