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                                                But labour on,
Labour and Love alone can heal thine heart,
And when its waters thus thou'st purified,
They can give strength to others. Child, good


IT is a blighty day in June: a day when the
lazy grey of the stagnant unhealthy clouds seems
like so much visible exhalation of fever.

I have just arrived at the Crystal Palace,
somewhat ashamed of myself, to see Blondin,
the Franco-American Rope-dancer, risk his life,
for my half-hour's amusement. I am with some
thousands of other jostling cravers for the
unhallowed excitement, and a great choice of
delight lies before me. Shall I sit down in the
great transept a hundred feet below the rope,
which looks as small from there as the perch of a
bird-cage, and quietly watch till the hero slips
and smashes a red sop of flesh and bones at
my feet? Or, shall I go up to the first gallery,
where I shall actually be able to see him half
way in his fall, and behold his death more
pleasantly and tranquilly? Or, shall I risk
a little more trouble for an exquisite and new
sensation, and ascend to the third, or five
shilling gallery? Or, shall I boldly take a gold piece
and mount till I can be on a level with the
rope of the venturous Icarus, and there, watching
his lithe and clasping feet, have the felicity of
being able for years to lean across the epergne
at dinner parties to relate how I was the first to
see Blondin's foot miss its hold, the instant
before he fell one hundred feet, and was picked
up stone dead? I know all this is rather
cruel, and I am rather ashamed of myself;
but really no one can conceal that we all,
thousands of us, have come to see an acrobat
perform a feat of imminent danger. For an
instant, I feel one of a pack of ten thousand
staghounds, who are in full cry, and thirsting to lap
the blood of one poor fox; but I laugh at my
own scruples, and they get away and hide out
of my sight, ready to pounce on me, I have
no doubt, at some less busy and less
preoccupied time.

Here, there are ten thousand of us whom the
train has poured from its cellular throat, driving
up the tubular passage of the Crystal Palace
like so many black peas up a pea-shooter. We
have all but one objectto see a man walk on
(perhaps fall from) a rope a hundred feet high.
We may tear buns to pieces, joint fowls, and
devour vast ledges of sandwiches, but still the
one object of all of usbishops, lawyers,
authors, fashionablesis to see a rope-dancer
venture his life for one hundred pounds the half-
hour. For this purpose, the sharp one-toothed
instrument has bit to-day through so many
tickets; for this, vats of pale ale have been
emptied; for this, Regent-street and the Parks
have contributed armies of languid Herculeses
and pearl-powdered Venuses. For this, paralytic
old Lady Chickenliver has been dragged here
in her Bath chair, and even old Lord Stiffney has
hobbled from his club. Can that gentleman
yonder be a popular preacher? Can that lady
near him be the powerful authoress of Night in
the Upper Alps; or, Glances at the Glaciers?
Half London is here, eager for a dreadful
accident, since gladiators are no longer quite the
fashion. Crowded? Why, the railway station
is full, the voluminous gowns are jamming up
the ticket collectors' turnstiles, statuesquely-
dressed Guardsmen are losing all sense of
dignity, and rushing madly up the tedious and
endless steps, honest tradesmen are dragging
their children through all obstacles, as if they
were taking thieves to prison, everybody seems
afraid that Blondin may fall before they are able
to take their seats. In vain the gardens spread
their flowers. They have no admirers to-day. It
is so delicious to see a man risk his life, without
being in danger oneself, and so cheap toofor
only half-a-crown. Death can be seen on a
larger scale in a battle; but there, the risk is
so considerable. Minié bullets, too, drive out
horrible plugs of flesh, our surgeons say, and
the Armstrong bolt literally tears bodies to
pieces; which is unpleasant. O sweet little
wearers of round hats. O dainty donners of
Mauve silks and sprigged muslinsI hear a
voice sayingthere was a time when all the
ladies of Rome, with perfumes and fans, went
daily to the Colosseum to see gigantic slaves
chop each other to pieces; when the great arena
was daily one huge vessel of blood; then the
ladies clapped their little white hands, and
stamped their little sandalled feet, and ate
sweetmeats, and laughed and chatted and were
happy as birds in spring; but, O sweet little
ladies, these women were not Christians, they
were Pagans, the inhabitants of the most
corrupt city God ever allowed to corrupt the world.
There are your ladies, too, even now, living in
Spain, who shout and laugh when they see horses
torn by the bull's horns, and their life-blood
spout out at one gush upon the sand, and even,
when men are trodden under foot and crushed
for their amusement. But these are the people
in the last degradation of a degraded religion,
and of a civilisation two centuries behind ours.
The chiding voice, whosever it may be, is
drowned by the tramp of unreasoning and
hurrying feet, as we flow on in full tide,
and break out into the building exactly where
some Hindoos have been now for several years
engaged in pretending to kill a Bengal tiger,
already punctured with one arrow. But who
cares for natural history, or rows of podgy kings
in niches, or Greek statues, or Pompeian rooms,
or lotus pillars, or Indian red monsters, when
for half-a-crown one can see a man run three
hundred and twenty feet on a rope a, hundred
feet high, and perhaps fall a hundred feet? If
the pleasure and excitement be not in that
possibility, say, why is the rope at that height?

Pleasantly the flowers trail from their basket-
cages: sweetly they blow in purple fragrance
or in golden softness round the fountains and
beside the statues; but who cares for them
today, when we may see a man smashed for half-a-