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Devil's coach? Ten minutes behind time already." As he said this, the ghost of the libertine appeared, and with an air of cool impudence took possession of the box-seat. The usual quantity of yells were then heard to which the thunder very accommodatingly joined chorus, while the vehicle bowled away in a whirlwind, and the streets of Beverley smelt of sulphur for a week afterwards.
On quitting North-Bar-street, the coach dashed along the Norfolk coast, whisked across the Channel, made a short cut through France, and then rattled into Spain, where they watered horses among the ruins of the Inquisition. At a quarter before one they reached the interior of Africa, when the bookkeeper renewed his civilities, and gave the name and quality of the inside passengers. "Our concern," said he, "being, as you may observe, a light postcoach, is licensed to carry four inside and eight out. Of these four, three are lawyers, and the other a publisher of some note in his day. But he was a sad fellow he started, I am told, a Review, sweated the authors in his employ, and gave little or nothing but thanks in return. For this wickedness, he was deemed by our proprietor Pluto worthy of an inside place in his coach, where he now is, much to his astonishment and discomfiture; inasmuch as he fleeced his customers only six days
in the week, and duly went to church on the seventh."
In the course of such desultory chit-chat, they reached the Abyssinian mountains of the moon, where human foot has never yet penetrated. Here they paused for an instant to make preparations for their descent to Avernus; which leads me to doubt the accuracy of the old proverb, "facilis descensus Averni." On the summit of the loftiest peak, honored by the natives with the musical epithet of Fanjondingdangobomely, is a volcano which belches forth flames by way of emetic. Into the midst of its crater they vanished, the coachman using the salutary precaution of the drag-chain, for on quitting Africa the road to Avernus is replete with danger.*
And now, devout reader, pardon me if I reveal the mysteries of another world. Fain would I pause on the threshold of the grave; but this veracious
This is not the most orthodox road to the Devil, for Ulysses and Æneas each chose the hazardous and circuitous entrance on the right hand of the Sybill's cave. But times and roads are altered for the better since their days, the dangers and delays of travelling no longer exist; steam-packets and patent coaches facilitate our progress through this world, while Newgate and the Bible Society expedite our conveyance to the next. "Lord! how this world improves as we grow older!"
tale must be completed, or at No. 26, Haymarket, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, the Publisher mourning for his copy-right, because it is not. To proceed on quitting the Abyssinian mountains the coach rattled along a paved archway, strewed with gold, and bordered on each side by hedges that flashed a thousand colors on the eye. Here, as our laurels in England, grew the diamond, topaz, and sapphire trees, the emerald with its mild radiance, and the ruby with its blood-red dyes.* Mountains of gold and jewelry reared their glittering summits in every direction; while shoals of fiends, fledged and unfledged, croaked like bullfrogs a discordant welcome. As they proceeded, the mighty rushing of the fiery Phlegethon, or the duller Styx, forced this exclamation from the bookseller, "Would that I had given Mr. D D— twelve, instead of eight guineas per sheet." Let living Publishers, ere it is too late, take warning by this awful catastrophe.
After slapping along an avenue obscured by the sulphureous mists of the Phlegethon, the view was suddenly expanded, and the splendor became too
* Let none admire
That riches grow in Hell; that soil may best
Deserve the precious bane.
MILTON, Par. Lost.
brilliant for earthly optics. A vast valley, inundated with oceans of living flame, first struck upon the eye, while in its centre stood the palace of Pluto, with huge burnished walls composed of fire petrified to substance but still retaining its wonted heat. On the summit was the clock of eternity, whose sullen tones rung through the inferual vaults, and was answered by the shrieks of the sufferers. At the extremity of the vale appeared the Elysian fields, where Spring bloomed in immortal youth, and the balmy spices of Sabæa floated on the wings of an interesting assortment of zephyrs. Here the great and good of all nations received the fulness of eternal felicity. Unbreeched demigods sung psalms to unpetticoated virgins, or danced picturesque minuets to the music of the gurgling rills.
On the right hand of this Asphodelian paradise, the dark coal-pits of Tartarus burst in distance upon the view. Three old gentlewomen, dressed in mob caps manufactured from snake-skins, were stationed on its brink, whom the book-keeper pointed out to Wharton as the Parcæ or Fates. A little beyond them stood another feminine triumvirate holding scourges in their hands, which they unsparingly applied to the rear of the wicked, in order to quicken their descent into Tartarus. The
names of these vinegar-faced spinsters were Alecto, Megara, and Tisiphone; and it was their province to give all new visitors a sufficing specimen of Acherontic hospitality. The libertine observed them with awe, and as the coach drew near to the Styx beyond which lay the black gulfs of Tartarus, received the full gaze of their dead demon-lighted eyes. Besides this comfortable recognition his prospect was otherwise alarming; and the scenes of torture that surrounded him were but ill-calculated to remove terror. On one side rose a mountain, up whose steep declivities the footpad Sisyphus was compelled to roll a huge stone, which rebounded into the road below and broke his head with the most unceremonious expedition. On the other side stood Tantalus playing at bobcherry with some fruit that eluded his skill, and stooping to drink of water that flowed away as he advanced. Ixion, too, was busy with his spinningwheel, and the four dozen and one daughters of Danaus, essayed in vain to replenish their perforated washing-tub.
As the coach approached the Styx where the ferryman Charon stood ready with his boat, the driver unharnessed his leaders, and then applying the double thong to the flank of his shaft-horses, rattled them in bang-up style to the bank-side,