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Heaven by a Prometheus in the shape of a kite, and we have even converted it into a plaything, bidding it stream from our knuckles at the working of a glass machine. Not content with familiarizing and degrading every thing that was grandly real, we have utterly annihilated all that was strikingly illusory. As to the man in the moon, whose features I could once distinctly recognize, I take it for granted that he has long since been had up, or rather down, to Bow-street, and committed as a vagrant. The Patagonian giants of Magellan, and the nine-feet high Tartarians of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, have no more real existence than the Brobdignagians of Swift; and as to the "Anthropophagi, and men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders," our cursed good sense compels us to laugh at them as ridiculous and unwarrantable fictions. Let no author calculate on being able to invent any thing permanently supernatural and appalling; all his impossibilities will be realized, his mysteries familiarized. Does the reader recollect the Spectre Boat in Coleridge's Ancient Mariners, or the Storm Ship in Washington Irvine's story of Dolph-Heyliger, which, to the consternation of nautical eyes, was seen ploughing up the waves at the rate of ten knots an hour in a dead calm, or sailing with great velocity right against the wind and tide, manifestly impelled in this preternatural manner by spectral or diabolic influence? These watery apparitions have lost their terrors the boiling of a kettle has dissolved the mystery; an impalpable vapour performs all these prodigies at once, and we go to Richmond and back in
the steam-boat, against wind and tide, by the aid of no other demons than a copper of water and half a chaldron of coals. Ghosts of all sorts have been compelled to give up the ghost, and the Red Sea must possess incredible shoals of exorcised apparitions. The unicorn is defunct as an imaginary animal; it has been recently discovered in the interior of Asia, and now only lives in stupid reality. A stuffed mermaid has been exhibited in Piccadilly. Sphinxes, griffins, hypogriffs, wiverns, and all the motley combinations of heraldry, will probably be soon visible at sixpence a-head; while the thought-bewildering family of witcl.es, wizards, and conjurers, spite of the demonology of King James and the authority of the sorceress of Endor, have been all burnt out and obliged to move over the way-into the verge of history. Our judges no longer, like Sir Matthew Hale, fall upon their knees after condemning an old woman to be burnt for witchcraft, and thank God that they have not departed from the approved wisdom and venerable institutions of our ancestors; but content themselves with applying the same phraseology to other abuses equally inhuman, and alike destined to correction in the progress of light and reason. Oberon and Titania, and Puck and Robin Goodfellow, and all the train of "urchins, ouphies, fairies green and white," who were wont, with tiny feet, to imprint the mystic ring upon our meadows, and drop the magic tester in cleanly chambers, whither are ye fled? Ye are gone, with giants of mighty bone and bold emprise," to people the belief of less sensual nations, leaving us to
grope our lonely way through this ignorant present, these dark ages of the mind, this night of fancy, this tomb of the imagination.
I myself, simpleton that I ann, have been instrumental in defrauding my mind of some of its most hallowed and romantic impressions, by joining the rabble rout whom the peace vomited forth to penetrate into all the sanctuaries of the Continent. What vague and reverential notions had I of the interior of a Catholic church !-how deeply interesting to read, at the commencement of a romance, that "the evening bell was just tolling for vespers, when the beautiful Donna Clara, attended by her Duenna, entered the great church of St. Ildephonso, at Madrid!”— and what a rich association of gorgeous shrines, lovely nuns, choral monks, mellow symphonies, floated up at the bidding of this simple exordium! I have stood in these churches. Heavens! what a revulsion !—It is like being admitted behind the scenes at a theatre. I have seen them used as a thoroughfare by porters and errand-boys, making a short cut from one door to another, first carefully dipping their dirty fingers in a puddle of holy water;—I have gazed upon shrines of tin and tinsel flaring in the sickly light of two farthing rushlights;--I have beheld nuns, old, ugly, and corpulent, with a bundle of keys, relics, and trumpery, at their girdle; and as to getting a glimpse of even one that was loveable---filthy hags! I wouldn't cross a five-barred gate to kiss a whole convent.
A vineyard, which my imagination had clothed with all sorts of scriptural and poetical embellishments,
appeared, upon actual inspection, little more romantic than a potatoe-field, and infinitely less picturesque than our Kentish hop-grounds.-This was a violent slap on the mental face, but my elastic hopes still suggested a consolation: France, said I, is a flat, unlovely country-the least interesting in Europe; but Clarens, the groves of Clarens, which fired the imagination of the sensitive author of "La Nouvelle Heloise," and inspired those eloquent outpourings of love whichIn short, I fed upon the expectation of these leafy landscapes, until I arrived in Switzerland, when, with a throbbing heart, I hurried to the scene of enchantment, and was horrified by a grisly apparition of stumps, the hallowed woods having been lately cut down by the monks of St. Bernard to supply fuel for boiling their miserable broths and pottages. Oh, the sacrilegious, soup-eating old curmudgeons! Still sanguine, I looked forward to Rome: the eternal city could not, at all events, disappoint me. On my arrival, I engaged an erudite Cicerone, who took me to one of the most celebrated remains of antiquity, consisting of a few mouldering walls scarcely elevated above the surface, which I found, according to the researches of the most learned investigators, was the unquestionable site either of a theatre, or a forum, or a palace, or public baths; but they had not yet settled which. Few of the other ruins were better defined or appropriated; and as to the locality of the ancient city, the topographers agreed in nothing but in ridiculing each other's decisions. Thus I went on, trampling down some beautiful illusion at every
step I took, shattering with my carriage-wheels all the fair forms which my imagination had set up by the road-side, and perpetually substituting the real for the ideal, to my own infinite loss in the exchange.
But I saved nothing by returning home; for the farther mischief which I had refrained from perpetrating myself, had been committed by others. The whole earth had been rummaged by restless tourists: my table was loaded with travels, and my pathway beset with panoramas desecrating every thing that was holy, familiarizing the romantic, and reducing the wild and visionary to a printed scale of yards, feet and inches. The new world is now as neighbourly as the New River, and the Terra Incognita is as well known as the Greenwich Road. Athens is removed to the Strand, the North Pole to Leicester Square: Memnon's head, with a granite wedge for a beard, is set up in Great Russell Street; the Parthenon is by its side; the tomb of Psammis has been open to all the passengers of Piccadilly, Alexander's sarcophagus may be seen every day except Sunday, Cleopatra's needle is on its way to Wapping, and all the wonders of the world are become as familiar to the cockneys of London as the Chelsea Bun-house or the Pump at Aldgate.
All my waking dreams are dissolved, and I might define myself as a two-legged matter-of-fact, but for the fortunate circumstance that the illusions of my sleep seem to become more vivid as those of the external world fade and die away. The nightmare has not yet been put in the pound, or carried to the green-yard. The