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not far distant, as we see by the grey tower
of its church, which peeps over the trees on
yonder hill.

It is a dull October afternoon; no blue
whatever in the sky, no wind whatever in the
trees. On each side of the broad high-road,
the fields are puffed up into notice by a series
of undulations, as if it were determined that
no effort should be spared to make the greatest
possible display of melancholy oaks, and red
and yellow copses, and every variety of
autumn foliage which Nature has just now on
hand. Dulled as we are by the dulness of
the atmosphere, and little cheered by the
dead leaves which make our path untidy, yet
our London eyes are brightened at the first
sight of a veritable five-barred gate, framed
in blackberries. But blackberries, again, are
melancholy things; they take our thoughts
back to the days of trustful childhood, when
we could crop those little joys by the
wayside, and did not know that they are only
safe while they are sour, and that the over-
sweet have constantly a maggot coiled within.
Alas for the experience of life! There goes
the omnibus-fly: a country girl inside, and on
the box the little midshipman who was our
fellow-traveller! He has lost no time in
lighting a cigar, and has already recognised
a man and a brother in the coachman. He
sits upon the coach-box as an emperor upon
a throne, much happier, and quite as proud.
The railway train is tearing on over the
distant country. The chaise, which lounges
homeward in advance of us, lags with the
slowness of a disappointed vehicle, after
trotting briskly to the station for a master
who has not arrived. Really, if we were epic
poets, we should picture a colossal shadow of
despondency, sitting with bowed head on
yonder little hill, the genius of the place, and
hear her sighing through the stillness of the

Now the road, which was not the main
road after all, but a mere tributary to the
stream of travellers, has led to the main
current. A procession of three carts laden
with manure, is all by which that current is
at present indicated. A large white house,
labelled "Seminary for Young Ladies," faces
us. We wonder, first, why girls should go
to seminaries, boys to academies; next, we
wonder which way shall we turn to Thistledown.
Then, we remember the position of
the grey church-tower; we see certain railings
also, and we turn, therefore, to the right with
confidence. The railings! Nobody would
believe that we had been to Thistledown at all,
if we came back and never named that very
striking feature. It would be the return from
Egypt of a traveller who has not seen the
Pyramids. Thick wooden railings on each
side of the road, and the ascent of a hill,
indicate that we are coming into Thistledown.
The wonder of the railings is their wintriness.
Some of the posts evidently have, at a remote
period, been dressed with tar; others, show
trace of nothing but the green paint employed
by nature. The whole effect is gloomy, but
the top rail on each side all the way to Thistledown,
is made resplendent with white lead,
conveying to the eye immediately some notion
of a heavy fall of snow. Next, we decide that
it is paint; that Thistledown is not a wealthy
borough; that its corporate funds having
been spent in painting the top-rail, it is
resolved to stop and breathe a bit before
proceeding to the second. This top rail, in the
meantime, is the lion of the place, carved over
with initials and dates, and names of distant

Little cottages and little gardens, and a
broad street, presently, with little houses on
each side. A load of coals going to somebody;
or rather not going, but standing still. The
driver is in conversation with a listless-looking
individual, who lifts up his smock-frock to
put his hands into the pockets of his corduroys,
and wears portentous yellow gaiters.
The conversation closes, and the yellow
gaiters lounge very heavily down hill. The
horse, after a preliminary struggle, (which
the driver regards philosophically), proceeds
to pull the coal cart up hill. Those are the
first natives of Thistledown with whom we
meet, but we observe now three or four
more in the street. Here is a clean little
commercial inn, its floors well hearth-
stoned, bearing a right ancient commercial
sign, "The Woolpack." Here is the huge
stuccoed front of a hotel, with its paint
peeling off. A tremendous iron bracket hangs
over the door, but no sign swings from it. We
feel no doubt that its despondent owner is
miserably drinking weak tea in some dull back
room, over a fire containing five or six live coals.
Yonder are two large houses of white brick,
with handsome shop-fronts. You guess them
to belong to a general store dealer and a
draper. Of course you are rightyou always
are. There are some wooden houses; and
this block, which stands, like our own
cockney Middle Row, in the centre of the
road, tells of a number that have been pulled
down to better the highway; so, once upon
a time, there was improvement here. There
is the old church, crumbling to pieces, with
a smooth brown dab of restoration
plastered over half a wall; the churchyard, very
small and very full. We have not yet passed
the grammar-school. Here, to the right, is
another street; we will seek, there, the object
of our journey.

A few people out. Prosperous-looking general
store shops; prosperous-looking butchers;
some large inns, including a tremendous
Dragon, and a long straggling hostelry in
a deep hollow by the road-side, offering
"good entertainment for man and beast!"
Pleasant houses, with trimmed shrubs in
front; a green, with diverging roads, and
trees, and a pond, and geese, and pretty little
residences on the skirts of it. But, still
we see no grammar-school. Let us turn