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And others spend their time in base excess
Let them that list these pastimes still pursue,
And on such pleasing fancies feed their fill; So I the fields and meadows green may view,
And daily by fresh rivers walk at will Among the daisies and the violets blue,
Red hyacinth and yellow daffodil, Purple narcissus like the morning rays, Pale gander-grass and azure culver-keys.
I count it higher pleasure to behold
The stately compass of the lofty sky,
The flaming chariot of the world's great eye ; The watery clouds that in the air up-rolled,
With sundry kinds of painted colours fly;
The hills and mountains raised from the plains;
The plains extended level with the ground; The ground divided into sundry veins; The veins enclosed with rivers running
round; These rivers making way through nature's
chains With headlong course into the sea profound; The raging sea beneath the valleys low, Where lakes and rills, and rivulets do flow.
The lofty woods, the forests wide and long, Adorned with leaves and branches fresh and
green, In whose cool bowers the birds, with many a
song, Do welcome with their choir the summer's
queen; The meadows fair, where Flora's gifts among
Are intermixed with verdant grass between ; The silver-scaled fish that softly swim Within the sweet brook's crystal watery
All these, and many more of His creation
see, Taking therein no little delectation, To think how strange, how wonderful they
be ! Framing thereof an inward contemplation
To set his heart from other fancies free; And whilst he looks on these with joyful eye, His mind is rapt above the starry sky.
John Davors ; from Walton's "Complete Angler."
101.-LONDON AS IT WAS TWO HUNDRED
Whoever examines the maps of London which were published towards the close of the reign of Charles II., will see that only the nucleus of the present capital then existed. The town did not, as now, fade by imperceptible degrees into the country. No long avenues of villas, embowered in lilacs and laburnums, extended from the great centre of wealth and civilisation almost to the boundaries of Middlesex, and far into the heart of Kent and Surrey. In the east, no part of the immense line of warehouses and artificial lakes, which now spreads from the Tower to Blackwall, had ever been projected. In the west, scarcely one of these stately piles of building which are inhabited by the noble and wealthy was in existence; and Chelsea, which is now peopled by more than forty thousand human beings, was a quiet, country village, with scarce a thousand inhabitants. On the north, cattle fed, and sportsmen wandered with dogs and guns over the site of the borough of Marylebone, and over far the greater part of the space now covered by the boroughs of Finsbury and of the Tower Hamlets. Islington was almost a solitude, and poets loved to contrast its silence and repose with the din aud turmoil of the monster London. On the south, the capital is now connected with its suburb by several bridges ; in 1685 a single line of irregular arches, overhung by a pile of mean and crazy houses, and garnished, after a fashion worthy of the naked barbarians of Dahomey, with scores of mouldering heads, impeded the navigation of the river. The stately dwellings on the south and west of Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, the piazza of Covent Garden, Bloomsbury and Soho Squares, were among the favourite spots for the residence of noble families. Foreign princes were carried to see Bloomsbury Square as one of the wonders of England. Soho Square, which had just been built, was to our ancestors a subject of pride, with which their posterity will hardly sympathise. The only dwellings to be seen on the north of Piccadilly were three or four rural mansions.
He who rambled to what is now the gayest and most crowded part of Regent Street found himself in a solitude, and was sometimes so fortunate as to have a shot at a woodcock. On the north, the Oxford Road (now Oxford Street) ran between hedges. Three or four hundred yards to the south were the garden walls of a few great houses, which were considered as quite out of town. On the west was a meadow renowned for a spring, from which, long afterwards, Conduit Street was named. We should greatly err if we were to suppose that any of the streets or squares then bore the same aspect as at present. If the most fashionable parts of the capital could be put before us such as they
then were, we should be disgusted by their squalid appearance, and poisoned by their noisome atmosphere.
The houses were not numbered. There would indeed have been little advantage in numbering them ; for of the coachmen, chairmen, porters, and errand-boys in London very few could read. It was necessary to use marks which the most ignorant could understand. The shops were therefore distinguished by painted signs, which gave a gay and grotesque aspect to the streets. The walk from Charing Cross to Whitechapel lay through an endless succession of Saracen’s Heads, Royal Oaks, Blue Bears, and Golden Lambs, which disappeared when they were no longer required for the direction of the common people.
102.—THE STORY OF LEONIDAS.
The King of Persia commanded a great extent of territory, which was inhabited by many millions of people, and not only abounded in all the necessaries of life, but produced immense quantities of gold and silver, and every other costly thing. Yet all this did not satisfy Xerxes, who at that time possessed the empire of this country. The Greeks, his neighbours, were free, and refused to