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of night with the hollow sound of laughter and derision.
The foot of time has indeed trod heavily along these broken arches, presenting in each track an impressive lesson to mortality. To render this homily more striking, a charity school has lately been erected among the ruins, and the contrast which it thus affords to its situation is singular. Melancholy and cheerfulness, youth and age, the cradle and the coffin, are here harmoniously combined, while the billows of active life beat against the very doors of the charnel-house.
I was roused from meditation, by distant bursts of merriment, and on turning towards the playground beheld it teeming with its school tenants. One group of idle urchins were lounging by the cottage of the tart-woman, whom I shall presently have occasion to describe, while others were busied in discussing the propriety of a cricket-match. Here stood some boys listening to the adventures of a wandering mendicant, and there hockey, or foot-ball, or some equally dignified amusement, held undisputed possession of the ground. The countenances of all gave undeniable token of a holiday, and I resolved to take this opportunity of entering the school-room, which I found in a state of such intellectual dishabille, that I actually
began to doubt whether it had ever been invaded with a broom. A classical halo of dust arrayed it in a garb of learned nebulousness, and a few books, "the lacerated sheep of another's flock," reposed in Mufti fashion upon the floor. Upon the whitewashed walls, scraps of Latin verses blended with a miscellaneous assortment of nick-names, caricatures, and initials, seemed the unmolested accumulation of ages. At the head of the room, to the right of the pontiff's desk, towered the good old seats allotted to the first class. I recognized them with enthusiasm; but what was my consternation, on discovering that sacrilege had been busy in my absence. Not a trace of their antiquated finery was discernible; no classical sculpturings, no venerable black seas of ink betokened the mischiev ous genius of the past; all was vexatiously neat, and even elegant. The library at least will repay my disappointment, I exclaimed, and hurried towards this reverend repository of dust and learning. Thanks to the obscurity of their idiom, the good old fathers still slumbered on the shelf as when with ruthless hand I last invaded their repose. Pindar slept in unmolested retirement, Virgil was in a similar state of torpor, and Homer, like eternity without beginning or end, stood shivering in the chill of solitude. Unfortunate gentlemen!
they little thought that youth would maul the intellect which age had delighted to honor; or dust envelop the works which royalty had cased in gold.
Having concluded my researches in the schoolroom, I approached the play-ground to pay the old tart-woman of the Forbury a visit. When last I struggled against the temptation of her sweetnesses she was well-stricken in years, but her quick grey eye as sharp as the needle with which she worked, seemed to promise a lengthened life. In person she was small but spare, unusually neat in dress, and even aspiring on Sundays to the carnal vanity of a hood. It was a pleasant thing to see her, in the long summer twilight, seated at the well-scored door of her cottage in busy conference with a listless group of school boys. As her stories usually kept pace with the number of her audience, and recorded the fame of those youngsters who had left their juvenile iniquities behind them, they proved peculiarly acceptable to their descendants. But the rebellion, the great school rebellion, this was the theme of our good lady's daily eloquence, and formed the epoch from which her time was generally computed. After the fashion of her stories, her ideas were all cast in the mould of singularity. She was of opinion that nothing was so becoming
to a young man as a sweet tooth, and that strict payments constituted nine-tenths of education. In pharmacy she was well versed, for her cakes had cured many a head-ache, and, strange to tell, her irresistible gingerbread nuts, had lightened as many hearts as purses. Of her literary acquirements I am unable to speak with precision, but can affirm as a fact that she has put more good things into the pages of the classical school-books, than their authors had genius to conceive. Fraught with these imposing recollections, it was not without interest that I entered her abode. But the cheerfulness that once characterized it was no more; the vine had crept through the lattice, and the busy spinning-wheel was silent. Amazed at such unexpected stillness, I hastily catechized some boys, who with an evil eye to the grapes were loitering near the garden, and was told that the poor lady had died a few weeks since of sheer old age, with the story of the rebellion in her mouth.
The day was on the wane when I quitted the cottage of the tart-woman, and lost "in endless maze of thought" I slowly retraced my steps to the church-yard of St. Laurence, which skirts the Forbury play-ground. I entered with indescribable interest, for, since last I wandered amid its tombs infancy had dawned into youth, youth ripened
into age, and age "fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf," had dropt its withered foliage upon the grave. But the scene, unchanged by time or circumstance, still retained its former placid character; the yew was the same as when I last saw it, and the sun still lit up with melancholy splendor the storied windows of St. Laurence. The only visible alteration appeared in the church-yard, where the graves were surprisingly augmented. On sauntering among them with that listless curiosity which sometimes animates the living towards the dead, I perceived, inscribed on plain slabs of marble, the names of many of those school friends who in the early spring of youth have so often stood with me to contemplate the beauty of that landscape in whose bosom they now repose. Insensibly I recalled the days when they "were young and proud," when the evening bell, which now sounded their dirge, rocked them to early slumber, and the shrill lark, which now unheeded sung, awoke them to their studies and their sports. Then came by the solemn hour of their dissolution; the weakness of the waning voice; the glazing of the dim eye; the last fond adieu of parents or of friends, the death-bed, the shroud, the coffin, and the bell, and above all, the awful restoration of dust to dust. Fancy then hurried me on to the contemplation of