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As the black storm upon the mountain top
Sets off the sunbeam in the valley, so
That huge fermenting mass of human-kind

Serves as a solemn back-ground, or relief,

To single forms and objects, whence they draw, For feeling and contemplative regard,

More than inherent liveliness and power.

How oft, amid those overflowing streets,

Have I gone forward with the crowd, and said
Unto myself, "The face of every one

That passes by me is a mystery!"

Thus have I looked, nor ceased to look, oppressed
By thoughts of what and whither, when and how,
Until the shapes before my eyes became
A second-sight procession, such as glides
Over still mountains, or appears in dreams;
And once, far-travelled in such mood, beyond
The reach of common indication, lost
Amid the moving pageant, I was smitten
Abruptly, with the view (a sight not rare)
Of a blind Beggar, who, with upright face,
Stood, propped against a wall, upon his chest
Wearing a written paper, to explain

His story, whence he came, and who he was.
Caught by the spectacle my mind turned round

As with the might of waters; an apt type

This label seemed of the utmost we can know,

Both of ourselves and of the universe;

And, on the shape of that unmoving man,
His steadfast face and sightless eyes, I gazed,
As if admonished from another world.

Though reared upon the base of outward things,
Structures like these the excited spirit mainly
Builds for herself; scenes different there are,
Full-formed, that take, with small internal help,
Possession of the faculties,-the peace

That comes with night; the deep solemnity
Of nature's intermediate hours of rest,

When the great tide of human life stands still;
The business of the day to come, unborn,

Of that gone by, locked up, as in the grave;
The blended calmness of the heavens and earth,
Moonlight and stars, and empty streets, and sounds
Unfrequent as in deserts; at late hours.

Of winter evenings, when unwholesome rains
Are falling hard, with people yet astir,
The feeble salutation from the voice
Of some unhappy woman, now and then
Heard as we pass, when no one looks about,

Nothing is listened to. But these, I fear,

Are falsely catalogued; things that are, are not,
As the mind answers to them, or the heart

Is prompt, or slow, to feel. What say you, then,
To times, when half the city shall break out
Full of one passion, vengeance, rage, or fear?
To executions, to a street on fire,

Mobs, riots, or rejoicings? From these sights
Take one, that ancient festival, the Fair,
Holden where martyrs suffered in past time,
And named of St. Bartholomew; there, see
A work completed to our hands, that lays,
If any spectacle on earth can do,
The whole creative powers of man asleep!—
For once, the Muse's help will we implore,
And she shall lodge us, wafted on her wings,
Above the press and danger of the crowd,
Upon some showman's platform. What a shock
For eyes and ears! what anarchy and din,
Barbarian and infernal,-a phantasma,

Monstrous in colour, motion, shape, sight, sound!
Below, the open space, through every nook

Of the wide area, twinkles, is alive

With heads; the midway region, and above,

Is thronged with staring pictures and huge scrolls,

Dumb proclamations of the Prodigies;

With chattering monkeys dangling from their poles,
And children whirling in their roundabouts ;

With those that stretch the neck and strain the eyes,
And crack the voice in rivalship, the crowd
Inviting; with buffoons against buffoons
Grimacing, writhing, screaming,-him who grinds
The hurdy-gurdy, at the fiddle weaves,
Rattles the salt-box, thumps the kettle-drum,
And him who at the trumpet puffs his cheeks,
The silver-collared Negro with his timbrel,
Equestrians, tumblers, women, girls, and boys,
Blue-breeched, pink-vested, with high-towering plumes.—
All moveables of wonder, from all parts,

Are here-Albinos, painted Indians, Dwarfs,
The Horse of knowledge, and the learned Pig,
The Stone-eater, the man that swallows fire,
Giants, Ventriloquists, the Invisible Girl,
The Bust that speaks and moves its goggling eyes,
The Wax-work, Clock-work, all the marvellous craft
Of modern Merlins, Wild Beasts, Puppet-shows,
All out-o'-the-way, far-fetched, perverted things,
All freaks of nature, all Promethean thoughts
Of man, his dullness, madness, and their feats
All jumbled up together, to compose

A Parliament of Monsters. Tents and Booths

Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast mill,

Are vomiting, receiving on all sides,

Men, Women, three-years' Children, Babes in arms.

Oh, blank confusion! true epitome

Of what the mighty City is herself,

To thousands upon thousands of her sons,
Living amid the same perpetual whirl

Of trivial objects, melted and reduced
To one identity, by differences

That have no law, no meaning, and no end-
Oppression, under which even highest minds
Must labour, whence the strongest are not free.
But though the picture weary out the eye,
By nature an unmanageable sight,

It is not wholly so to him who looks

In steadiness, who hath among least things
An under-sense of greatest; sees the parts
As parts, but with a feeling of the whole.
This, of all acquisitions, first awaits

On sundry and most widely different modes

Of education, nor with least delight

On that through which I passed. Attention springs,

And comprehensiveness and memory flow,

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