« EdellinenJatka »
that accidents are sure to take place. The Humane Society has a receiving house on the bank of the river, with every convenience for the restoration, if life be not extinct, of such sufferers as are taken there; and men provided with life preservers, may always be seen walking by the sides of the river, to prevent, as far as possible, the loss of life. How few of the names of those who are in the habit of driving round Hyde Park in carriages, or promenading there daily, are to be found among the supporters of the Humane Society!
The cloistered abbots and canons of Westminster Abbey, who owned the park in the time of Henry viu, would hardly be able, could they revisit the place, to identify their old property. In the reign of Charles I, Hyde Park, with its then capital stock of timber trees and deer, was sold by the parliament for. little more than seventeen thousand pounds. In the reign of Charles
II, it was again resumed by the crown. I have walked westward, and here is quite another scene! I have spread my handkerchief on the summit of the low wall of Kensington Gardens, and am sitting thereon at my ease. The band, from the neighbouring barrack, is playing most admirably, while a goodly group of two or three thousand people is assembled around. Rank, fashion, and beauty in every direction meet the
eye, and the 6 concord of sweet sounds” and the stormy clangour of martial music alternately regale
On the opposite side of the wall, in Hyde Park, with only a dry ditch between us, are ranged in rows, ladies on noble palfreys, and gentlemen mounted on fiery, yet tractable steeds, that snort and paw the ground. The trees are in their freshest verdure, the sun is in the sky;
gay dresses, sparkling eyes, smiling faces, and happy hearts abound. And yet, happy as they now may be, perhaps-perhaps what? Will it become me, in a moment like this, to encourage shadowy thoughts ? to cast a gloom where all around is sunshine ? No! There is a time to be merry, as well as to be sad. Happiness is a costly thing, and where it is not purchased at the expense of others, when it is not indulged in by leaving duties unperformed, why, let it be enjoyed. Had I, at this moment, a sunnier glow at my disposal, than that which' is. now beaming in the bosoms around me, I would fling it at once into their hearts. Oh that all could be abidingly happy, and animated with the desire of making others happy also !
“ How happy those whose hopes depend
Upon the Lord alone!
Can ne'er be overthrown."
I have left the gardens of Kensington, and am again in Hyde Park, sitting on a bench under the spreading branches of an elm. · Yesterday I was in Regent's Park. At present, the trees there are but
young, every year they are adding to the beauty of the walks and drives. The noble ranges of buildings around, the commodious drives, together with the neighbouring attractions of the Diorama, the Colosseum, and the Zoological Gardens, cannot fail to make the park popular. This noble elm, under which I am seated, reminds me of some of the glorious biblical descriptions that are given of trees. How striking is the description of that prophetic tree, given in the fourth chapter of Danièl. “I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof
to the end of all the earth: the leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. I saw in the visions of head
upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; he cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit."
The parks, as I have already observed, as breathing places to the inhabitants, are indeed important appendages to the metropolis ; but it must be admitted, that in a city park, even under the most favourable circumstances, there is a want of that privacy and seclusion, which constitute one of the great charms of rural scenery. Here, in Hyde Park, you have ample space, goodly trees, resting places, pure air, and an unbroken view of the glorious canopy of the skies;, but you are either in a throng, or within the view of others continually, and solitude and abstraction cannot be enjoyed, as it
be in country places.
Give me the mountain and the wide-spread moor,
And meadows sweet where buttercups abound. A buoyant spirit and a grateful heart, however, will make even the desert to blossom as the rose, so that the parks of London are not likely to be undervalued.
THE BRITISH MUSEUM.
WITH the exception of St. Paul's Cathedral, perhaps no public building in London is more generally visited
than the British Museum ; and it might be difficult to find a place that has been more frequently described. It possesses two very great attractions : one, that it has much within it deserving attention ; the other, that it may be seen for nothing.
As viewed from the spot where I am now standing, it has little in appearance to recommend it. Neither its guarded gateways, its square turrets, its front of dirty red brick, nor its old crazy cupola, is of an alluring character.' Even in the short time it has occupied me to note down this remark, twenty-three persons have passed by the two sentinels who are on duty, with their bayonets fixed at the end of their muskets ; and now a carriage has driven up to the gate. It is time for me to trudge across the street, and to enter the place myself.
Ay! this spacious quadrangle gives a different aspect to the building, and the fine flight of steps adds much to its general appearance. The French architect, Peter Puget, who designed the edifice, now rises in the estimation of the spectator. But the sarcophagus, covered with hieroglyphics, near the gateway, and the ancient canoe, formed apparently from a large tree, hollowed out by the chisel or by fire, draw the visitors aside, and claim for a season their attention.
At the foot of the flight of steps, surrounded by a slight enclosure, the gigantic head bones of two enormous creatures arrest the eye of the spectator. They are of a most astonishing size and form; and a stranger, until he reads the inscription beside them, wonders to what kind of animal they could belong.
I have some thing to say on this subject, which is a little curious.
A few years ago, on passing over London Bridge, my attention was attracted by half a dozen bright yellow placard papers, pasted against a wall near the bridge. On these papers was printed the following wonderful announcement : 6 Wonderful Remains of an Enormous Head, eighteen feet in length, seven feet in breadth, and weighing seventeen hundred pounds. The complete bones of which were discovered, in excavating a passage for the purpose of a railway, at the depth of seventy-five feet from the surface of the ground, in Louisiana, and at a distance of one hundred and sixty miles from the sea. This great curiosity to be seen from ten in the morning till six in the evening."
In a very short time, I directed my hasty steps to the Cosmorama, in Regent street, where the enormous head was to be seen. There I gazed on the prodigy, and much did it excite my wonder. The proprietorswere Frenchmen, and many were the dreams of imagination in which they indulged. It was thought the head might have belonged to a bird, for the beak-like formation of the projecting bones gave some colour to such a possibility ; but then, had such a monster lived, kite-like, on other birds, he would speedily have depopulated a space equal to a whole parish, ay, a whole county, of its feathered tribes. It was suggested by one that it might have belonged to a fish; but the circumstance of it being found so deep in the earth, and so far from the sea, threw a difficulty in the way of this suggestion. It was intimated by another as no improbability, that it belonged to a reptile, a gigantic lizard ; and to such a creature, supposing that he sustained himself by vegetation, shrubs and bushes must have been as grass, and young oaks and elms as a pleasant sort of asparagus. In short, from the conversation I had with these foreigners, it was clear that in their ap