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SATURDAY in Holy Week, and Easter Monday,
were the days on which I went a-fairing
this year.

On the Hampstead road, by London, there
is a place called Chalk Farm. There was a
farm here, and chalk too, once upon a time, no
doubt: probably when the adjacent hill bore
primroses instead of a gymnasium; but, both
farm and chalk have long since disappeared,
leaving us in their stead plenty of dust, a
railway bridge with a prospect of the railway,
a circular stable for high-mettled locomotives,
and a big white chalk-faced tavern. Chalk
Farm was a famous place in days of yore. It
is on record that Jack Straw baited there on
his way to and from the hostelry that bears
his name. Many a bold highwayman cocking
his stolen laced hat fiercely over his purloined
periwig, and with shiny (and purloined)
jackboots bestriding his ill-gotten grey mare
with a crop-tail, has here refreshed himself
previous to a raid on the bagmen, the post-
chaises, or, haply, even the mail-coaches
travelling on the Great North Road. Many
a " hard-favoured man in a grey roquelaure
and netherlings of blue drugget, with a cast
in his eye," has here made appointments with
wealthy City tradesmen who had been so
unfortunate as to lose a portion of their stock-in-
trade, and who have here received the "eighty
yards of figured lutestring," or the " thirteen
cards of gold lace, four guineas the ell," which
had so unaccountably disappeared from their
warehouses, and for the recovery of which
they had advertised in Gazettes, Advertisers,
and Ledgers, twenty guineas reward, and " no
questions asked." Here, long before there
was a Regent or a Regency Park, long before
Camden had kindly given his name to a
town, long before the London and Birmingham
Railway was either born or thought of,
many a bloody duel, with rapier or hair-
trigger, was fought. Many a gentleman,
whose nice sense ot honour did not debar him
from the cogging, the loading, or the sleeving
of dice, or the carrying, at écarté, of three
queens in his hat, and the fourth in the
collar of his coat, has here avenged that
honour (injured perhaps by oak or whipcord
of opinionated pigeon) by " pinking " or
"winging " his antagonist. Many a good tall
fellow has driven from a drunken brawl to
Chalk Farm, in the early morning, while the
birds were singing, and before the smoke
blurred the sunshine; and has come home on
a shutter, stark, bloody, shot dead.

But there are no Jack Straws, no plundered
merchants, no highwaymen, and no duels,
now, at Chalk Farm. There is still, however,
a Fair there, twice a-year: at Easter and
at Whitsuntide. To that fair, last Easter
Monday, I went.

It was a very hot (for April) day, to begin
with: tempered by a bitter easterly wind,
eddying round corners viciously, catching
nursemaids cunningly, and drifting them all,
drapery, ribbons, parasols, and baby, against
old gentlemen of mysogynic appearance;
smiting little boys on the hip, and savagely
sending their caps into interminable space,
and their hoops between the legs of grown-up
people. But such a sun! such a genial,
blazing, here-I-am-again-after-six-months'-
absence, holiday-makers' sun; such a blue
sky; such staring white robes the houses
have put on, and such apparently endless
crowds hurrying to Chalk Farm Fair!

The Fair ground was not extensive, on
this Easter Monday. It was an anomalous,
irregular-shaped patch of broken ground,
resembling a dust-heap on a large scale,
somewhat; bounded on the North by Primrose
Hill; on the South, by the Railway Bridge;
on East and West, and on all intermediate
points of the compass, by unfinished houses,
and fantastic traceries of scaffold-poles. There
were booths where the traditional kings,
queens, and cocks in gilt gingerbread were
dispensed; and where, in gaily decorated tin
canisters, the highly-spiced nuts appealed to
the senses of the holiday-makers. There were
shabby little pavilions, stuck all over in front
with the profiles of gentlemen with very black
features and coats, and very white shirt-
collars: together with a stock officer in
moustaches, a vermilion habit, and epaulettes
like knockers; the whole being intended to
give you an extensive idea of the resources
of the " Royal Chalk Farm Artist's Studio,"
where you could have your portrait taken by
the instantaneous magic process for sixpence
a fact which the artist himself (in a
wide-awake hat and a blouse) seemed never
weary of reiterating. There were Royal