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grown up families.” These courtesies, one and all, the traveller is obliged to decline for want of a change of dress,-a fortunate circumstance so far, that whilst the curious but serious Boston. ians were congregated elsewhere, he was enabled, accompanied by only a score or so of little boys and girls of no particular persuasion, to take a survey and a clever sketch (p. 59) of the city. On Monday, the case was evidently altered ; for, after a visit to the State House (p. 61), he was compelled to take refuge from the mob, in a place where he could not be made a sight or a show of—the Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind. Here he saw the interesting Laura Bridgman, a poor little girl, blind, deaf, dumb, destitute of the sense of smell, and almost of that of taste, yet, thanks to a judicious and humane education, not altogether dark within, nor hapless without.
The following picture is deeply touching ; a mist comes over the clear eye in reading it.
• Like other inmates of the house she had a green ribbon bound over her eyelids. A doll she had dressed lay near upon the ground. I took it up and saw that she had made a green fillet such as she wore herself, and fastened it about its mimic eyes.”
But the mob has dispersed; at least the bulk of it, for not counting the children, there remain but fourteen autographhunters, six phrenologists, four portrait-painters, seven booksellers, five editors, and nineteen ladies, with handsomely-bound books in their hands or under their arms, on the steps and about the door of the Blind Asylum. And there they may be still, for somehow Boz has given them the slip, and in the turning of a leaf is at South Boston, in the state hospital for the insane-not however as a patient--for he was once deranged by proxy in some other person's intellects--but witnessing and admiring the rational and humane mode of treatment which, as at our own Hanwell Asylum, has replaced the brutal, brainless practice of the good old times when insanity was treated as a criminal offence,—the tortures abolished for felons were retained for lunatics, and their poor over-heated brains had as much chance of cooling as under the Plombières of the Inquisition. Let the reader who has a mother turn to page 176 for a peep at a whim.
sical old lady, in the Hartford establishment, and then let him think that some fifty years ago the poor dear old soul would have been fettered, perhaps scourged, for only fancying herself an antediluvian! But to lighten a sad subject, let us smile at a characteristic interview between Boz and an Ophelia, in the same house.
“ As we were passing through a gallery on our way out, a well-dressed lady, of quiet and composed manners, came up, and proffering a slip of paper and a pen, begged that I would oblige her with an autograph. I complied, and we parted. I hope she is not mad (quoth the visitor) for I think I remember having had a few interviews like that with ladies out of doors.”
Huzza! whoo-oop! A mob has gathered again, and before he has gone a page, Boz is obliged to get into the Boston House of Industry, thence into the adjoining Orphan Institution, and from that, but not mortally crushed, into the Hospital, all highly creditable establishments, except in one iron feature, “the eternal, accursed, suffocating, redhot demon of a stove, whose breath would blight the purest air under heaven :" and so it doesparching the lungs with baked air. We have had some experience of the nuisance in Germany; and never saw it lighted without wishing for a washerwoman, exorbitant in her charges, to blow it up.
But we must push on, or the observed of all observers will be divided from us by a square mile of the Lowell Factory Millicents, “all dressed out with parasols and silkstockings,” not white or flesh-color, but blue, for these young women are decidedly literary, and besides subscribing to the circulating libraries, actually get up a periodical of their own!
“ The large class of readers, startled by these facts, will exclaim with one voice, “How very preposterous ! On my deferentially inquiring why, they will answer, . These things are above their station.' In reply to that observation I would beg leave to ask what that station is.”
What ?—why, according to some of our moral stationers, the proper station for such people is the station-house, to which actors, singers, and dancers have so often been consigned in this country for acting, singing, and dancing upon too moderate terms. But better times seem to dawn—the licensing Justices begin to out
vote the Injustices, and perhaps some day we shall have Playing and Dancing as well as Singing for the Million. Why not? Why should not the cheerful, amusing treatment which has proved so beneficial to the poor mad people, be equally advantageous to the poor sane ones?
But to return to the Lowell lasses.-Pshaw! cries a literary fine gentleman, carelessly penning a sonnet, like Sir Roger de Coverly's ancestor, with his glove on," they are only a set of scribbling millers.” No such thing.
No such thing. In the opinion of a very competent judge they write as well as most of our gifted creatures and talented pens, and their “ Offering ” may compare advantageously with a great many of the English Annuals. An opinion not hastily formed, be it noted, but after the reading of “ 400 solid pages from the beginning to the end.” No wonder the gratified Authoresses escorted the Critic—as of course they did, to the Worcester railway, which on the 5th of February, 1842, was beset of course by an unusual crowd, behaving, of course, as another mob did afterwards at Baltimore, but which Boz evidently mistook for only an every day ebullition of national curiosity.
“ Being rather early, those men and boys who happened to have nothing particular to do, and were curious in foreigners, came (according to custom) round the carriage in which I sat, let down all the windows; thrust in their heads and shoulders ; hooked themselves on conveniently by their elbows; and fell to comparing notes on the subject of my personal appearance, with as much indifference as if I were a stuffed figure. I never gained so much uncompromising information with reference to my own nose and eyes, the various impressions wrought by my mouth and chin on different minds, and how my head looks when it's yiewed from behind, as on these occasions. Some gentlemen were only satisfied by exercising their sense of touch; and the boys (who are surprisingly precocious in America) were seldom satisfied, even by that, but would return to the charge over and over again. Many a budding President has walked into my room with his cap on his head and his hands in his pockets, and stared at me for two whole hours : occasionally refreshing himself with a tweak at his nose, or a draught from the water-jug, or by walking to the windows and inviting other boys in the street below, to come up and do likewise : crying, “Here he is !-Come on !- Bring all your brothers !' with other hospitable entreaties of that nature.”
Here is another speculator on the Phenomenon, who evidently
could not make up his mind whether the hairy covering of Boz was that of a real, or of a metaphorical Lion, p. 56.
“Finding that nothing would satisfy him, I evaded his questions after the first score or two, and in particular pleaded ignorance respecting the fur whereof my coat was made. I am unable to say whether this was the reason, but that coat fascinated him ever afterwards; he usually kept close behind me when I walked, and moved as I moved, that he might look at it the better; and he frequently dived into narrow places after me, at the risk of his life, that he might have the satisfaction of passing his hand up the back and rubbing it the wrong way."
From Worcester, still travelling like a Highland chieftain with his tail on, or a fugitive with a tribe of Indians on his trail, the illustrious stranger railed on to Springfield ; but there his voluntary followers were fixed. The Connecticut river being luckily unfrozen, Boz embarked, designedly, as it appears, in a steam-boat of about "half-a-pony power,” and altogether so diminutive, that the few passengers the craft would carry “all kept in the middle of the deck, lest the boat should unexpectedly tip over.” But some buzz about Boz had certainly got before him, for at a small town on the way, the tiny steamer, or rather one of its passengers, was saluted by a gun considerably bigger than the funnel ! (p. 174.) At Hartford, however, thanks to the Deaf and Dumb School, the common Gaol, the State Prison, and the Lunatic Asylum, the Dickens enjoyed four quiet days, and then embarked for New York in the New York,
“Infinitely less like a steam-boat than a huge floating bath. I could hardly persuade myself indeed, but that the bathing establishment off Westminster Bridge, which I had lest a baby, had suddenly grown to an enormous size; run away from home; and set up in foreign parts for a steamer.”
At New York, in the Broadway, an ordinary man may find elbow-room ; but Boz is no ordinary man, and accordingly for a little seclusion is glad to pay a visit to the famous Prison called the Tombs. But the mob, the male part at least, again separates, and the gaol visitor ventures forth, as it appears, a little prematurely.
"Once more in Broadway! Here are the same ladies in bright colors,
walking to and fro, in pairs and singly; yonder the very same light blue parasol which passed and repassed the hotel window twenty times while we were sitting there.”
Heavens! what a prospect for a modest and a married man! Popularity is no doubt pleasant, and Boz is extremely popular, but popularity in America is no joke. It is not down in the book, but we happen to know, that between 8 and 10 A. M., it was as much as Dickens could do, with Mrs. Dickens's assistance, to write the required autographs. It was more than he could do, between ten and twelve, to even look at the hospitable albums that were willing to take the stranger in. And now, not to forget the blue ladies in the Broadway, and the sulphur-colored parasol, if he should happen to be recognized by yonder group of admi.
. rers and well-wishers, he will have, before one could spell temperance, to swallow sangaree, ginsling, a mint julep, a cocktail, a sherry cobbler, and a timber doodle! In such a case the only resource is in flight, and like a hunted lion, rushing into a difficult and dangerous jungle, Boz plunges at once into the most inaccessible back-slums of New York.
“ This is the place : these narrow ways, diverging to the right and left, and reeking everywhere with dirt and filth. Such lives as are led here, bear the same fruits here as elsewhere. The coarse and bloated faces at the doors, have counterparts at home, and all the wide world over. Debauchery has made the very houses prematurely old. See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken frays. Many of these pigs live here. Do they ever wonder why their masters walk upright in lieu of going on all fours? and why they talk instead of grunting ?”
But what are " these pigs?” Why, the very swine whence, under the New Tariff, we are to derive American pork and bacon; and accordingly Boz considerately furnishes his country. men with a sketch of the breed.
“ They are the city scavengers, these pigs. Ugly brutes they are; having for the most part, scanty, brown backs, like the lids of old horse-hair trunks, spotted with unwholesome black blotches. They have long gaunt legs, too, and such peaked snouts, that if one of them could be persuaded to sit for his portrait, nobody would recognize it for a pig's likeness.”
No--for they have no choppers. We know the animals well,