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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine — Volume 54, No. 335, September 1843   By:

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BLACKWOOD'S

EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.

No. CCCXXXV. SEPTEMBER, 1843. VOL. LIV.

"WE ARE ALL LOW PEOPLE THERE."

A TALE OF THE ASSIZES.

IN TWO CHAPTERS.

CHAPTER THE FIRST.

Some time ago, business of an important character carried me to the beautiful and populous city of . I remember to have visited it when I was a child, in the company of a doating mother, who breathed her last there; and the place, associated with that circumstance, had ever afterwards been the gloomiest spot in the county of my birth. A calamity such as that to which I have alluded leaves no half impressions. It stamps itself deep, deep in the human heart; and a change, scarcely less than organic, for good or ill, is wrought there. Agreeably with this fact, the scene itself of the event becomes at once, to the survivor, either hallowed and beloved, or hated and avoided. Not that natural beauty or deformity has any thing to do in the production of such feelings. They have a mysterious origin, and are, in truth, not to be accounted for or explained. A father sees the hope and joy of his manhood deposited amongst the gardens of the soil, and from that moment the fruitful fields and unobstructed sky are things he cannot gaze upon; whilst the brother, who has lived in the court or alley of a crowded city with the sister of his infancy, and has buried her, with his burning tears, in the dense churchyard of the denser street, clings to the neighbourhood, close and unhealthy though it be, with a love that renders it for him the brightest and the dearest nook of earth. He cannot quit it, and be at peace. Causes that seem alike, are not always so in their effects. For my own part, for years after the first bitter lesson of my life became connected with that city, I could not think of it without pain, or hear its name spoken without suffering a depression of spirits, as difficult to throw off as are the heavy clouds that follow in the track, and hide the little light of a December sun. At school, I remember well how grievously I wept upon the map on which I first saw the word written, and how completely I expunged the characters from the paper, forbidding my eyes to glance even to the county from which I had erased them. Time passes, hardening the heart as it rolls over it, and we afford to laugh at the strong feelings and extravagant views of our youth. It is well, perhaps, that we do so; and yet on that subject a word or two of profitable matter might be offered, which shall be withholden now. For many years I have battled through the world, an orphan, on my own account; and it is not surprising that the vehemence of my early days should have gradually sobered down before the stern realities that have at every step encountered me. Long before I received the unwelcome intelligence, that it was literally incumbent upon me to revisit the spot of my beloved mother's dissolution, the mention of its name had ceased to evoke any violent emotion, or to affect me as of old. I say unwelcome , because, notwithstanding the stoicism of which I boast, I felt quite uncomfortable enough to write to my correspondent by the return of post, urging him to make one more endeavour to complete my business without my aid, and to spare, if possible, my personal attendance. I gave no reason for this wish. I did not choose to tell a falsehood, and I had hardly honesty to acknowledge, even to myself the truth. I failed, however, in my application, and with any but a cheerful mind, I quitted London on my journey. Thirty years before I had travelled to in a stupendous machine, of which now I recollect only that it seemed to take years out of my little life in arriving at its destination, and that, on its broad, substantial rear, it bore the effigy of " an ancient Briton ." Locomotion then, like me, was in a state of infancy. On the occasion of my second visit to the city, I had hardly time to wonder at the velocity with which I was borne along... Continue reading book >>


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