On the 10th of January, 1812, it is observed, that London was this day involved, for several hours, in palpable darkness. The shops, offices, &c., were necessarily lighted up; but, the streets not being lighted as at night, it required no small care in the passenger to find his way, and avoid accidents. The sky, where any light pervaded it, showed the aspect of bronze. Such is, occasionally, the effect of the accumulation of smoke between two opposite gentle currents, or by means of a misty calm. The fuliginous cloud was visible, in this instance, from a distance of forty miles. Were it not for the extreme mobility of our atmosphere, this volcano of a hundred thousand mouths would, in winter, be scarcely habitable!†
Winter in the Country.
All out door work
Now stands; the waggoner, with wisp-wound feet,
And wheelspokes almost filled, his destined stage
Scarcely can gain. O'er hill, and vale, and wood,
Sweeps the snow-pinioned blast, and all things veils
In white array, disguising to the view
Objects well known, now faintly recognised.
One colour clothes the mountain and the plain,
Save where the feathery flakes melt as they fall
Upon the deep blue stream, or scowling lake,
Or where some beetling rock o'erjutting hangs
Above the vaulty precipice's cove.
Formless, the pointed cairn now scarce o'ertops
The level dreary waste; and coppice woods,
Diminished of their height, like bushes seem.
With stooping heads, turned from the storm, the flocks,
Onward still urged by man and dog, escape
The smothering drift; while, skulking at a side,
Is seen the fox, with close downfolded tail,
Watching his time to seize a straggling prey;
Or from some lofty crag he ominous howls,
And makes approaching night more dismal fall.
Mr. Paul Pry in the Character of Mr. Liston.
"Just popp'd in, you know!"
To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
I hope I don't intrude — I have called at Ludgate-hill a great many times to see you, and made many kind inquiries, but I am always informed you are "not at home;" and what's worse, I never can learn when you'll be "at home;" I'm constantly told, "it's very uncertain." This looks very odd; I don't think it correct. Then again, on asking your people what the Every-Day Book is all about? they say it's about every thing; but that you know is no answer—is it? I want something more than that. When I tell 'em so, and that I'm so much engaged I haven't time to read, they say the book is as useful to people engaged in business as to people out of business—as if I was in business! I wish to acquaint every body, that I am not in business, and never was in business, though I've a deal of business to do; but then it's for my own amusement, and that's nobody's business, you know—as I also told 'em. They say it's impossible to describe the contents of the book, but that all the particulars are in the Index; that's just what I wanted; but behold! it is "not out"—that is, it is not in—I mean not in the book—you take. Excuse my humorsomeness: I only wish to know when I can get it? They say in a few days, but, bless you, I don't believe 'em; for though I let 'em know I've a world of things to communicate to you, when you've time to see me, and let me ask you a few questions, they won't credit me, and why should I credit them—I was not born yesterday, I assure you. I'm of a very ancient stock, and I've some notion you and I are kinsmen—don't you think we are? I dare say there's a likeness, for I'm sure we are of the same disposition; if you are n't, how can you find out so much "about every thing." If I can make out that you are one of the Pry family, it will be mutually agreeable—won't it? How people will stare—won't they?
I suppose you've heard how I've been used by Mr. Liston—my private character exposed on the public stage, and the whole town roaring at the whole of the Pry family. But we are neither to be cried down nor laughed down, and so I'd have let the play-goers know, if the managers had allowed me to sing a song on New-year's night, in imitation of Mr. Liston when he's a playing me. Will you believe it—they burst out a laughing, and would not let me go on the boards—they said the audience would suppose me to be the actor himself; what harm would that have done the theatre?—can you tell? They said, it would hurt Mr. Liston's feelings—never considering my feelings! If ever I try to serve them or their theatre again, I'll be—Liston! They shall be matched, however, if you'll help me. I've copied out my song, and if you'll print it in the Every-Day Book, it will drive 'em mad. I wish, of all things, that Mr. Cruikshank could see me in the character of Liston—he could hit me I know—don't you think he could?—just as I am—"quite correct"—like he did "Guy Faux" last 5th of November. I never laughed so much in all my life as when I saw that. Bless you, I can mimic Liston all to nothing. Do get your friend George to your house some day—any day he likes—it's all one to me, for I call every day; and as I'm an "every-day" man, you know, why you might pop me at the head of the song in your Every-Day Book—that's a joke you know—I can't help laughing—so droll! I've enclosed the song, you see.
[The wish of this correspondent is complied with, and the manner wherein, it is presumed, he would have sung the song, is hinted parenthetically.]
MR. PAUL PRY'S SONG,
Intended to have been sung by him at the Theatre,
In the Character of MR. LISTON,
ON NEW YEAR'S EVE.
(Pryingly.) I hope I don't intrude!—
(Fearfully.) I thought I heard a cough—
(Apologetically.) I hope I am not rude—
(Confidentially.) I say—the Year's going off!
(Inquisitively.) Where can he be going to?
(Ruminatively.) Its very odd!—its serious!—
(Self-satisfactively.) I'm rather knowing too!—
(Insinuatively.) But isn't it mysterious?
(Comfortably.) 'Twas better than the other—
(Informingly.) The one that went before;—
(Consolingly.) But then there'll be another—
(Delightedly.) And that's one comfort more!
(Alarmedly.) I'm half afraid he's gone!
(Kindlily.) Must part with the old fellow!
(Hastily.) Excuse me—I must run—(Exit.)
(Returns.) Forgot my umbrella.—
(Determinedly.) I'll watch the new one though,
(Circumspectly.) And see what he'll be at—(Exit.)
(Returns.) Beg pardon—did'nt bow—(Bows and exit.)
(Returns.) Bid pardon—left my hat.
(Lingeringly.) It's always the wish of Paul,
(Seriously.) To be quite correct and right—
(Respectfully.) Ladies and gentlemen—all—
(Retreatingly.) I wish you very good night!
(Recollectively.) And—ladies and gentlemen—all!
(Interjectively.) You laugh so much, I declare—
(Vexedly.) I'm not Mr. Liston!—I'm Paul!—
(Lastly.) I wish you a happy New Year!—(Exit finally.)
If you print this in the Every-Day Book it will send Liston into fits—it will kill him—won't it? But you know that's all right—if he takes me off I've a right to take him off—haven't I? I say, that's another joke—isn't it? Bless you I co'd do as good as that for ever. But I want to see you, and ask you how you go on? and I've lots of intelligence for you—such things as never were known in this world—all true, and on the very best authority, you may take my word for it. Several of my relations have sent you budgets. Though they know you won't publish their names unless they like it, they don't choose to sign 'em to their letters for private reasons,—why don't you print 'em? They cann't give up their authors you know, (that's impossible,) but what does that signify? And then you give 'em so much trouble to call and make inquiries—not that they care about that, but it looks so. However, I'm in a great hurry and so you'll excuse me. —Mind though I shall pop in every day till I catch you. I hope you'll print the song—its all my own writing, it will do for Liston, depend on it. What a joke—isn't it a good one?
January 6, 1826.
P. S. Don't forget the Index—I want to learn all the particulars—multum in parvo—all quite correct.
P. S. I'm told you've eleven children—is it true? What day shall you have another? — to-day? — Twelfth-day? that would be a joke—wouldn't it? I hope I don't intrude. I don't wish to seem curious.
Mean Temperature . . . 36 . 07.
Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:
1. Howard on Climate. [return]