Графични страници
PDF файл

and his long life—for it was extended occasional treat of a little coarse tea, nearly to the terın of seventy years and brown sugar. was not on the whole joyless or for Then was old Johnny in his glory, saken. His intellect was darkened when, seated on some sunny road-side and distorted, but not so as to render bank, or nestling among the fern him an object of disgust and terror, or leaves in some bosky dingle, within to incapacitate him from performing ken of his horned or grunting charge, many tasks of trifling utility. He of which he never lost sight, he had even exercised a sort of rude ingenui- collected about him a little cluster of ty in many little rustic handicrafts. idle urchins, with whom he would vie He wove rush baskets and mats, and in dexterity in threading daisy necklaneatly and strongly wove them, and of ces, or sticking the little white flowers the refuse straw he plaited coarse on a leafless thorn branch, or in tying hats, such as are worn by plough- up cowslip balls, or in making whisboys, and he could make wicker cages tles, or arrow heads of hollow elder for black birds and magpies, and stalks : or in weaving high conical mouse-traps, and rabbit-hutches; and caps of green rushes, and then was he had a pretty notion of knitting too, Cæsar in his element, for then would only that he could never be brought he arm with those proud helmets the to sit still long enough to make any heads of his childish mates, and margreat proficiency in that way. But he shall them (nothing loath) in military was useful besides, in many offices of order, each shouldering a stick, his household drudgery, and though his supposed musket; and flourishing his kind master never suffered poor John- wooden sword, and taking the comny to be “put upon,” he had many mand of his new levies, he marched employers, and so far as his simple up and down before the line of ragged wits enabled him to comprehend their rogues, gobbling like a turkey cock, several wills, he was content to fulfil with swelling pride, in all the martial them. So he was sent to fetch water, magnificence of his old-cocked hat and to watch that the coppers did not and feathers, and of his scarlet tatters boil over, and to feed the fire, and with their tarnished lace. blow the bellows, and sift the cinders, But sometimes was he suddenly and to scrape carrots and potatoes, cast down from the pinnacle of earthly and to shell beans, and to sweep the grandeur, by the malicious wantonfloor, (but then he would always ness of an unlucky boy, who would waste time in making waves and zig- slyly breathe out a few notes from an zags on the sand,) and to rock the cra- old flute, well anticipating their effect dles, and that office he seemed to take on poor Johnny.

Rude, as peculiar delight in, and would even those notes, they 5 entered into his pretend to hush the babies, as he had soul.” In a moment his proud step seen practised by their mothers, with was arrested, his authoritative, uplifta sort of droning hum which he called ed hand fell nerveless by his side ; his singing. But besides all these, and erect head dropt, and large tears rollother tasks innumerable, more extend- ed down his aged face; and at last ed trust was committed to him, and he sobs! burst from the bosom of the was never known but to discharge it poor idiot, and then even his mischiefaithfully. He was allowed (in ex vous tormentor almost wept to see the ception of those rules of the house im- pain he had inflicted. Yes, such was perative on its sane inmates) to wan- the power of music, of its rudest, simder out whole days, having the charge plest tones, over some spring of sensiof a few cows or pigs, and for a tri- bility, deep hidden in the benighted fling remuneration, which he brought soul of that harmless creature, and he regularly home to his master, who ex- had apparently no control over the pended it for him with judicious kind- tempestuous ebullition of its excited ness, in the purchase of such simple vehemence, except at church, during luxuries as the poor idiot delighted the time of divine service. . . ing-a little snuff and tobacco, or the There, while the Psalm was being


sung, he was still, and profoundly si- the mistress's occasional bounty, a lent. But when others rose up from slice of white bread and butter; and the form beside him, he sunk still low- there was less willingness to exert him. er in his sitting posture, and covering self than formerly. He still crept down, bent forward his head upon his about his accustomed tasks, but slowly knees, hiding his face there within the and silently, and would sometimes fold of crossed arms, and no sound fall asleep over his more sedentary or sob escaped him, but his poor employment, and when spoken to, he frame trembled universally, and when seldom replied but, by a nod and a the singing was over, and he looked smile-that peculiar smile of idiotic up again, the thin grey hair on his intelligence. Some said the old man wrinkled forehead was wet with per- grew lazy and sullen, for “what could spiration. Now, let the clarion sound, ail him ?” they wondered. Nothing or the sweet hautboy pour out its me--nothing ailed him-nothing to signilodious fulness, or the thrilling flute fy-only the cold hand of death was discourse, or the solemn organ roll on him, and he dropt at last with the over bis grave its deep and mighty leaves in autumn. One evening, long volume, and he will sleep on undis- after milking-time, the cows he had turbed-ay, till the call of the last been enttusted to watch came stragtrumpet shall awaken him, and the gling home without their keeper. mystery of his earthly existence shall Search was made for him, and he was be unfolded, and the soul, emerging soon discovered by the children, who from its long eclipse, shall shine out in were well acquainted with his favourthe light of immortality--At that day ite haunts and hiding-places. of solemn reckoning, how many, They found him gathered up in his whose brilliant talents, and luminous usual posture, among the dry fern intellect, have blazed out with meteo- leaves, at the foot of an old hawthorn, ric splendour, not to enlighten, but to near which ran a reedy streamlet. dazzle and mislead, and bewilder the His back rested against the hawthorn's minds of their fellow-mortals, in the twisted stem, his old grey head was mazes of inextricable -How bare, and a few withered leaves had many of those who have so miserably dropt upon it. Beside him lay a halfabused the great trust reposed in them, finished cap of woven rushes; one shall be fain to exchange places with hand was on it, and the other still that unoffending innocent, crying out grasped the rude materials of his simin the agony of their despair, “ to the ple fabric.

There was a smile upon mountains, fall on us, and to the hills, his countenance, (he was always smil. cover us !"

ing to himself,) but his head had dropt Farewell, old Johnny-quiet be thy down on his bosom, and his eyes were rest !-harmless and lowly was thy closed as if in sleep. He was dead life !--peaceful and unnoticed thy de- quite cold and stiff--so they took him parture !

from his pleasant fern bank, to hiş Few had marked the gradual de- late home, the workhouse, and the cline of the poor creature, but for ma next day he was screwed down in the ny months he had wasted away, and shell of rough boards, the last-allowhis feeble, deformed frame had bowed ance of parish bounty, and before sunnearer and nearer to the earth, and he set, those green sods were trampled cared little for any nourishment, ex- down over the pauper's grave.--Fare cept his favourite regale of tea, and well, old Johnny!



Oh! no, no, this love is not love for me :

This life and death love is too grave :
Bemine like the sight of yon sea bird, whose wings

Just skim, but sink not in, the wave,

If but for one moment a chain I could bear,

It must be as light as the day;
Oh! form it of opals, which change with the sky,

A fresh colour for every ray.




OUR last number contains a few that, in fact, the present system of pav

sensible remarks, by Mr. T. ing is nothing more than putting the Single on the subject of street-paving, ground into a state of hard and soft, or which at present occupies, and in a hills and holes, and placing stones great measure divides, the public opin- upon it to prevent our seeing or believjon. It would appear truly unaccoun- ing that it is so." table that this branch of our civil econ Mr. Single then recommends, very omy should have been so long misun- judiciously, that all paving stones derstood or wilfully perverted, were it should be reduced to nearly the same not notorious, that all such depart- size, in order to produce a good firm ments of public duties, are subject to pavement; and, that instead of loosenthe control of select boards, com- ing the soil below, as in the usual bungmittees, or whatever other title the ling way of paving, the ground should parties may assume : such committees be previously rammed as hard as may consisting usually of a few active indi. be before the stones are placed. But viduals in each parish or district, who Mr. S. should also have advised, candoi be supposed to be totally ex- that paving stones be placed in as close empt from a wish to serve their own contact as possible. For it is well immediate friend whenever an oppor- known that the admission of water betunity occurs.

tween the stones is one of the principal "That this has been the primary causes of their becoming loosened alcause of the shameful mismanagement most immediately after the pavement of the street-pavement of the metropo- becomes deluged by rain. lis for many years past cannot for a This must be so obvious as scarcely moment adinit of doubt. And the to require explanation; for if any consequence has very naturally follow- portion of the sand used by paviours ed the cause,-the parties, who have be soluble in water (and, from the rubbeen favoured with the contracts for bish employed very frequently for this such parish jobs, have, in almost eve- purpose, at least one-half of it must be ry case; made the most of them by soluble), it will evidently be washed executing the work in a negligent, and out from the interstices of the paveoftentimes a scandalous manner. It is ment, leaving the stone in a bed of not necessary to mention instances; quagmire. they abound in different parts of the It should also be observed, that the metropolis, where the pavement is in system on which these job-contracts are a disgraceful, and frequently in a dan- taken--that of paving so many square gerous, state ; yet there appears to be a feet at a given price-offers a temptation continual repair going on in these places. to the paviour to substitute the cheapest

In order to understand how such materials for the best, without any reanomalous proceedings can go hand gard to the accommodation of the pubin hand, it will be necessary to exam- lic, or the durability of the work : inine briefly of what materials our street- deed, this interest is promoted by the paving consists.

frequency of the necessary repairs ; Mr. Single, in his paper, has stated consequently, he takes care, like the some of the evils which arise from the leasehold builder, not to render his bad workmanship of paviours, but not work too durable. And as rubbish, all. He very justly says, that "in or- brick-dust, sand, &c. are far cheaper der to place the paving stones of differ- materials than granite paving-stone, ent sizes together in the same mass of the less of the latter substance in every paving, they are obliged to scratch hundred feet of pavement the better. away the loose ground below, till the There is an immediate saving of twenupper face of the stones become nearly ty or thirty per cent. and provision horizontal, when the rammer is applied made for another job the ensuing year, to cover all the defects beneath, so instead of waiting three or four years

for “a consummation so devoutly to hardness of the substratum on which it be wished !" To be serious. The rests. scandalous manner in which these What has been called McAdam's tradesmen execute their contracts, system (perhaps with some justice, as though notorious to every observer in a compliment to his perseverance in the metropolis, has been permitted following it up in defiance of all the infrom year to year, from some reason or terested opposition he has experienced), other, to the entire disgrace of the is in reality nothing more than that of heads of parishes and the local police. preventing water from gaining access to However, like most other evils, this the materials of the road, and using magreat nuisance to the inhabitants (eg. terials of the very best kind, instead pecially to the proprietors of horses of the compost of sand, clay, and chalk, and vehicles of any kind) is rapidly called road-gravel; or of substituting abating; not in consequence of the lib- the softer varieties of limestone or sanderality or vigilance of the managing stone. parties of districts, but in consequence It is, I believe, one of the maxims of the talents and perseverance of an of Mr. McAdam to recommend the enterprizing North Briton !

purchase of the best material, at almost It is notorious that, even at the pre- any price, as a measure of ultimate sent day, when experience has demon- economy. It is however very easy to strated, as clearly as any proposition perceive, that if any gentleman who in Euclid, that a good, firm, hard road- happens to have a bed of inferior graway may be advantageously made in vel on his estate, also happens to be a every tolerable wide street, that doubts trustee or commissioner of turnpikes, and queries are continually started as that the virtue of such commission to its eligibility! The plan of road- would probably transmute the gravel making adopted by Mr. McAdam is (containing thirty or forty per cent of far from being any visionary scheme, loam) into a better material for roadand is intelligible to every man of the making than hard limestone, iron sandmost ordinary capacity, who does not stone, or granite dug from a quarry out wilfully shut his eyes. The principle of the pale of such commission. is simply this : to have the substratum Another advantage, which Mr. made very nearly level, or just suffi- McAdam appears to possess over most cient for the water to drain off; to other road-makers, is that of being able have the road-material of the hardest to judge where good materials are stones which can be procured; to likely to be obtained, by sinking a cerbreak such stones down to one uniform tain depth below the soil. And in a size, in order that no unequal intersti- case where his hands have been unfetces may be left between them when tered by any of the local consideraembedded together; and to exclude tions above-mentioned, he has convertthe use of rounded gravel, and the ed, what was formerly one of the worst loam, sand, or clay with which they pieces of road between any two opuare usually combined. The angular lent cities, into one of the finest in the fragments of the broken stones serve to whole kingdom: I mean the twelve keep them firm in their place, whilst miles between Bath and Bristol. The the pulverized matter from the friction soft Oolite stone which forms the suron the surface fills up the interstices face of that district being a miserable with the best kind of cement. For material for road-making, the height want of these angles, it must be obvi- of a hill was reduced; at the same ous that the rounded or diluvial gravel, time an abundance of very hard iron usually dug from gravel pits, cannot sand-stone was procured, equal, if not bind firm, but when exposed to wet, superior, in some respects to granite. acting on the loam, &c. will invariably With regard to the superior econoform a loose or shifting mass, which my of employing this latter substance must be continually liable to fall into for road-making in London-streets, holes or inequalities, according to the there can be no doubt; the old paving

stones furnishing a surplus quantity for a vigilant and civil resident-inspector the improved system. But there is or street-keeper, to see the road always probably greater durability and less kept in good repair, by scraping and dust from the use of flint, if that mate moderate watering, and superintending rial can be obtained in sufficient quan- the carriage traffic of the streets. tity. I fully agree with your corres. The progress of this decided impondent Mr. Single, that (if paving the provement to the metropolis is now, in carriage-way of our streets be at all spite of all the opposition of “ vested necessary) granite is the best material interests,” corporate and parochial, we can use; but I differ from him in making very rapid strides; and I have his conclusion against the new system no doubt the experience of seven years applied to narrow streets. He says, will make us blush for the passive obe. “it will not do where there is much dience, which has been heretofore contraffic, from the frequency of opening ceded by a generous public to the local the ground in order to repair the water jurisdiction of a few parish or district and other pipes.” But he surely must dictators. I shall conclude by citing admit that excavations can be filled up one instance as a proof whether the with the broken stone à la McAdam street pavements of the metropolis in a fourth part of the time and with were formerly done as well as they half the nuisance to passengers, that might have been :- That fine area attend the job-contract-system of pay- Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, instead of being ing.

gravelled, is now nearly new-paved in The chief objection to laying gravel a manner vastly superior to any work instead of pavement in a narrow street, of that kind previously performed. is the ruts which are liable to be cut by Should not the opulent inhabitants of carriages following each other in the that square erect a statue in honour of same track. This, however, might be McAdam ? in a great measure avoided, by having

[blocks in formation]
« ПредишнаНапред »