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THE HISTORY OF ST. GILES AND ST. JAMES.*
BY THE EDITOR.
CHAPTER XXIX. Does it live in the memory of the reader that Snipeton, only a pter since, spoke of a handmaid on her way from Kent to ke acquaintance with his fire-side divinities? That human er, with a freshness of soul like the dews of Paradise upon her reader, at this very moment in Fleet-street. Her face is beamwith happiness--her half-opened mouth is swallowing wonders nd her eyes twinkle, as though the London pavement she at th treads upon was really and truly the very best of gold, dazzled her with its glorifying brightness. She looks upon beauty and wealth about her gaily, innocently, as a little child
look upon a state coffin ; the velvet is so rich, and the plates ails so glittering. She has not the wit to read the true meaning e splendour ; cannot, for a moment, dream of what it covers. d, she is so delighted, dazzled by what she sees, that she ely hears the praises of the exceeding beauty of her features, rondrous symmetry of her form ; praises vehemently, indusly uttered by a youthful swain who walks at her side, ng at her fairness with the libertine's felonious look. He her innocence, as any minor thief would eye a brooch or ; or, to give the youth his due, he now and then ventures a stare ; for he has the fine intelligence to know that he
* Continued from page 506.-Vol. III. XIX.-VOL, IV.
may rob'tkai rour:try Wearch of herself, and no Bridewell – no Newgate-wi!! puni-h che la cuny. Now, even the bow of sixpenny riband on her bonnet is protected by it statute. Besides, Master Rolpi Cum krovs he privilegion of certain people in a certain condition of life. Wirduly Hitlemen born and breel in London, and serving the nobility, are born and clucted the allowed protectors of rustic girls. The pretty country things—it was the bigoted belief of the young footman-miųht be worn, like bouquets on a birth-day: - And the wench at hin siele is a nomear expressly sent by fortune from the country for his pa-ring tilicity and adornment. True it is, that Master Ralph cium in Murcely looming out of boyhood ; but there is a sort of geniu, that war- far beyond the parish register. Ralph's age is not to be counted by the common counters, years ; but by the rarer marks of precocious intelligence. He is a liveriod prolise ; one of those terribly clever animals that, knowing everything, 100 often confound simple people with their fatal knowledge Therefore Was it specially unfortunate for the damsel that of all the crowi that streamed through Fleet Street, she should have a-kel Ralpha Gium to indicate her way to St. Mary Ixe. At the time, -he was setting due eastward ; when the faithless vassil id--ured her that she was going clean wrong ; and, as happily he himself had particular business towards her destination, it woulil give him ; pleasure he could never have hoped for, to guide her virgin steps to St. Mary Axe. And she-poor maid !—believed and turned her all-unconscious face towards Temple Bar. The young man, though a little dark, had such bright black eyes—and -uch very laryn, and very white teeth,—and wore so very fine a livery, that it would have been flying in the face of truth to doubt him. ()ften at the rustic fire-side had she listened to the narrated wickelness of London ; again and again had she pre-armed her soul with sagacious strength to meet and confound the deception that in so many guises prowled the city streets, for the robbery and destruction of the Arcadian stranger. She felt herself invincible until the very moment that Ralph gave smiling, courteous answer to her ; and then, as at the look and voice of a charmer, the Amazonian breast-plate (forged over many teas) she had buckled on, melted like frost-work at the sun, and left her an unprotected, because believing woman.
“Why, and what's them?” cried the girl, suddenly fixed before St. Dunstan's church. At the moment the sun reached the meridian, and the two wooden giants, mechanically punctual,
striking their clubs upon the bell, gave warning note of noon. Those giants have passed away ; those two great ligneous heroes of the good old times have been displaced and banished ; and we have submitted to learn the hour from an ordinary dial. There was a grim dignity in their bearing—a might in their actionthat enhanced the value of the time they noted : their clubs fell upon the senses of parishioners and way-farers, with a power and impressiveness not compassable by a round, pale-faced clock. It was, we say, to give a worth and solemnity to time, to have time counted by such grave tellers. If the parishioners of St. Dunstan and the frequent passengers of Fleet-street have, of late years, contributed more than their fair quota to the stock of national wickedness, may not the evil be philosophically traced to the deposition of their wooden monitors ? This very valuable surmise of ours ought to be quoted in parliament ---that is, if lawmakers properly prepared themselves for their solemn tasks, by duly conning histories like the present-quoted in opposition to the revolutionary movement of the time. For we have little doubt that a motion for the return of the number of felonies and misdemeanours to say nothing of the social offences that may be the more grave because not named in the statutes-committed in the parish of St. Dunstan’s, would show an alarming increase since the deparure of St. Dunstan's wooden genii. A triumphant argument his-we modestly conceive—for the conservation of wooden things a high places. “La! and what's them?” again cried the girl, welve o'clock being told by the strikers.
Why, my tulup, them 's a couple of cruel churchwardens arned into wood hundreds of years ago, for their sins to the poor. ut you are a beauty, that you are!” added Ralph, with burning allantry.
“ It can't be ; and you never mean it,” said the maiden, really getting her own loveliness in her wonder of the giants. Turned into wood ? Unpossible! Who did it?” “Why, Providence,,or, something of the kind, you know,” lied the audacious footman. “ You've heard of Whittington, hould think, my marigold, eh ? He made a fortin in the Indies, ere he let out his cat to kill all the vermin in all the courtsl a nice job I should think puss must have had of it. Well, m giants was churchwardens in his time: men with flesh and od in their hearts, though now they'd bleed nothing but -dust.''
“ You don't say so! Poor souls ! And what did they do ?" asked the innocent damsel.
Mr. Ralph Gum scratched his head for inspiration ; and then made answer : “ You see, there was a poor woman -- it sailor's wife - with three twins in her arms. And she went to) 0:1 churchwarden, and said as how she was a starving : anul thing her very babbies couldn't cry for weakne--. And he told her to come tomorrow, for it wasn't the time to relievis papers: üll then she went to the other church warden, und he went out world that she must come again in two days, and not afore.'
“ Two days !” cried the maiden. • The (l!« «l'iiwrn! didn't they know what time was to the starving ?"
Why, no ; they didn't ; and for that red-on, but the churchwardens fell sick, all their limbs overvilar i turnirn into wood. And then they died; and they wa- voine iu bory cli, vben next morning their coffins was found emp!!; and then in open where they now stand. And there was a lot of Parliamen: !, that their relations shouldn't touch 'em, but let.com -tand to-tr:!.,. the clock, as a warning to all wicked church warens to know what lours are to folks with hungry bellies."
6. Wonderful ! exclaimed the girl, innocent is in beating lamb. “ And now, young man, you 're sure this is the way to Mary Axe ?”
“ Didn't I tell you, my sunflower, I was born the?!'? I would carry your bundle for you, only you wer, lii- loril-hip, tl... nobleman I serve, is very particular. Livery: livery - iwlarge any of us that demeaned himself to carry a bunille. Bir Tou; there are young fellows in our square-only I'm 10m proud--that wouldn't speak to you with such a thing as a bundle; they wouldn't, my wild rose. But then, you 're such a beauty!" “ No; I am not. I know what I am, young man.
I'm not of the worst, but a good way from the best. Besides, beauty, as they say, is only skin-deep ; is it?'' asked the maiden, not unwilling to dwell upon the theme.
“Well, you 're deep enough for me anyhow," replied the footboy, and he fixed his eyes as though he thought them burning-glasses, on the guileless stranger. “And now, here you are, right afore Temple Bar.”
Mercy! what a big gate ! and what 's it for, young man? cried the wondering girl.
Why, I once heard it said in our hall that Temple Bar was
built on purpose to keep the scum of the city from running over into the West End. Now, this I don't believe," averred Ralph.
“ Nor I, neither," cried the ingenuous wench, “else, doesn't it stand to reason they 'd keep the gate shut ?”.
My 'pinion is what I once heard,—that Temple Bar was really built at the time of the Great Plague of London, to keep the disease froin the king and queen, the rest of the royal family, with all the nobility, spirital and temperal.” And Ralph coughed.
Well, if you don't talk like a prayer-book !” exclaimed the maiden, full of admiration.
“I ought by this time ; I was born to it, my dear. heart, when I was no higher nor that, I was in our house. I learnt my letters from the plate ; yes, real gold and silver ; none of your horn-books. And as for pictures, I didn't go to books for them neither ; no, I used to study the coach-panels. There wasn't a griffin, nor a cockatrice, nor a tiger, nor a viper of any sort upon town I wasn't acquainted with. That 's knowing life, I think. It isn't for me to talk, my bed of violets ; but you wouldn't think the Latin I know ; and all from coaches.”
6. Wonderful ! But are you sure this is the way to Mary Axe ?” and with the question the maiden crossed the city's barrier, and with her lettered deceiver trod the Strand.
“ If you ask me that again," answered the slightly-wounded Ralph, I don't know that I 'll answer you.—Come along. As the carriage says, ' Hora et semper.
“ Now, if you go on in that way, I won't believe a word you say. Evglish for me ; acause then I can give you as good as you send. No; wholesome English, or I won't step another step;” and it was plain that the timid rustic felt some slight alarm-was a little oppressed by the mysterious knowledge of her first London acquaintance. She thought there was some hocus pocus associated vith Latin: it was to her the natural utterance of a conjuror. With some emphasis she added, “ All I want to know is—how far s it to Mary Axe?”
“ Wly, my carnation, next to nothing now. Step out ; and ou'll be there afore you know it. As I say, I only wish I could arry your bundle—I do, my daisy.” Mr. Gum might have spared is regrets. Had his gracious majesty pulled up in his carriage, nd offered to be the bearer of thať bundle, its owner would have fused him the enjoyment ; convinced that it was not the king of ngland who proposed the courtesy, but the father of all wicked