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with loving eyes over those fascinating story books so rich in gaily-coloured prints—such careful editions of the marvellous old histories "Puss in Boots"

" Cock Robin " -- " Cinderella," and the like. Fortunately, the front was kept low, so as exactly to suit the capacity of a childish admirer. At the corner, looking immediately upon Holborn Hill, there is a large bow-fronted shop, then occupied as coffee-rooms. It was never a genteel lounge. Tired or thirsty clerks, indigent politicians, wishing to be refreshed and to read a daily journal for twopence, were its chief customers; and occasionally, when I was in my eighteenth year, I whiled

away

half an hour there, chiefly because it was almost within sight of a printing-office where the sheets of my first work were then passing through the press. I usually teased my printer at least three times a day (how weary he must have been of me and my poem!), and one evening of a dark October day he handed me a complete copy.

“'Tis pleasant, sure, to see one's name in print-
A book's a book, although there's nothing in't.”

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Of course I was impatient to cut the leaves, and revel in all the beauties of " Sensibility,” &c. My home was so far off—the coffee-house so near, that I made a dash at the seedy ark of literature, and, allowing the coffee and muffin to get stone cold, was quickly lost among the “First Leaves of a Young Tree.” I have not been in that room for nearly forty years, and yet could make a catalogue of every item of furniture it contained. You observe, then, that Skinner-street was my favourite resort; still it did not prosper much, and never could compete with even the dullest portions of Holborn. I have spoken of some reputable shops; but you know the proverb, “One swallow will not make a summer;" and it was a declining neighbourhood almost before it could be called new.

In 1810, the commercial depôt, which had been erected at a cost of £25,000, and was the chief prize in the lottery, was destroyed by fire, never to be rebuilt-a heavy blow and discouragement to Skinner-street, from which it never rallied. Perhaps the periodical hanging-days exercised an unfavourable influence, collecting, as they frequently did, all the thieves and vagabonds of London.

I never sympathized with Pepys or Charles Fox in their passion for public executions, and made it a point to avoid such ghastly sights; but early of a Monday morning, when I had just reached the end of Giltspur-street, a miserable wretch had been just turned off from the platform of the debtors' door, and I was made the unwilling witness of his last struggles. That scene haunted me for months, and I often used to ask myself—who that could help it would live in Skinner-street ? The next unpropitious event in these parts was the unexpected closing of the child's library. What could it mean? Such a well-to-do establishment shut up. Yes, the whole army of shutters looked blankly on the inquirer, and forbade even single glance at “ Sinbador “Robinson Crusoe." It would soon be re-opened--we naturally thought--but the shutters never came down again. The whole house was deserted; not even a messenger in bankruptcy or ancient Charley was found to regard the playful doubleknocks of the neighbouring juveniles. Month followed month, but the sole change was for the worse. Gradually the glass of all the windows got broken in; a heavy cloud of black dust - solidifying into inches thick gathered on sills, and doors, and brickwork, till the whole frontage grew as gloomy as “Giant Despair's Castle.” Not long after, the adjoining houses shared the same fate, and they remain, from year to year, without the slightest sign of life-absolute scarecrows, darkening with their uncomfortable shadows the busy streets. Within half a

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mile-in Stamford-street, Blackfriars-road — there are seven dwellings in a similar predicament-window-glass demolished, doors cracked from top to bottom, spiders' webs hung from every projecting sill or parapet. What can it mean? The loss in the article of rent alone must be over £1,000 annually. If the real owners are at feud with imaginary owners, surely the property might be rendered profitable, and the proceeds invested. Even the lawyers can derive no profit from such hopeless abandonment. I am told the whole mischief arose out of a Chancery suit. Can it be the famous “ Jarndyce V. Jarndyce” case ? And have all the heirs starved each other out? If so, what hinders our lady the Queen from taking possession ? Any change would be an improvement, for these dead houses make the streets they cumber as dispiriting and comfortless as graveyards. Busy fancy will sometimes people them, and fill the dreary rooms with strange guests. Do the victims of guilt congregate in these dark dens? Do wretches, "unfriended by the world, or the world's law,” seek refuge in these deserted nooks, mourning in the silence of despair over their former lives, and anticipating the future in unappeasablo agony ? Such things have been—the silence and desolation of these doomed dwellings make them the more suitable for such tenants.

We venture a few memorabilia in addition to our gossip about Skinner-street and the neighbourhood. At No. 41, Godwin, the author of “Caleb Williams,” kept a bookseller's shop, and published school-books in the name of Edward Baldwin. On the wall there is a stone carving of Æsop reciting one of his fables to children. In front of No. 58, in 1817, Cashman, a sailor, who in a riot had plundered the gunsmith's shop there, was executed. a shop on Snowhill, Vandyke saw a picture by Dobson, which induced him to search for the artist, who was

found in a wretched garret, and recommended by him to Charles I. Here, at a grocer's shop kept by his friend Strudwick, died, August 12, 1688, Bunyan, the author of “The Pilgrim's Progress" - a circumstance quite sufficient to make the place hallowed ground. Truly there is scarcely a foot of earth within the City precincts which has not some noble or touching memory. Cellar, garret, dingy chamber, narrow shop, blind alley, and dirty lane—each has its own family of recollections, all interesting because they appeal to our “business and bosoms;" richly suggestive, too, in whatever direction we turn, of stirring incidents and exhausting struggles — severe sufferings and unlooked for triumphs, all having a charm for us, because it was men like ourselves who were the agents. I have heard London nicknamed a commonplace city! No Englishman can think so, for, if he did, the stones in the streets would rebuke him.

193

THE CHURCH OF ST. STEPHEN,

WALBROOK,

THIS

very beautiful church, Wren's masterpiece, stands at the back of the Mansion House, where two churches with the same name formerly stood. The first, built in 1202, was placed, according to Dugdale, on the west side of the “ brook,” from which we gather that at that period, and

' for ages afterwards, a rivulet, called from the locality “Wall Brook,” actually meandered, and probably through pasture land. The second was erected in 1428, on the east side, when, from the report of the “Chronicles," the houses began to grow thicker, and the commerce of the City was rapidly encroaching on the green fields. This building was destroyed in the great fire of 1666, when so many of the metropolitan sanctuaries were burnt; and a noble opportunity presented for the genius of Wren to exert itself. Even at this distant period we may reasonably lament that the architect's wonderful plan for rebuilding London was not carried out, which would have given us, instead of the perplexing crowd of narrow lanes and inconvenient streets in which our citizens still trade, a grand system of wide highways and ample squares, unequalled by any capital in Christendom. The plan, which may still be consulted in the “Parentalia,” provided that on the ashes of the metropolis a series of streets, each one

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