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ruins of demolished buildings, hard by
Temple Bar. Unexpectedly from among
them, emerged a genuine Police Constable,
before whom the dreadful brood dispersed
in various directions: he making feints
and darts in this direction and in that,
and catching nothing. When all were
frightened away, he took off his hat, pulled
out a handkerchief from it, wiped his
heated brow, and restored the handkerchief
and hat to their places, with the air
of a man who had discharged a great moral
dutyas indeed he had, in doing what was
set down for him. I looked at him, and I
looked about at the disorderly traces in
the mud, and I thought of the drops of
rain and the footprints of an extinct creature,
hoary ages upon ages old, that geologists
have identified on the face of a cliff;
and this speculation came over me:— If
this mud could petrify at this moment, and
could lie concealed here for ten thousand
years, I wonder whether the race of men
then to be our successors on the earth
could, from these or any marks, by the
utmost force of the human intellect,
unassisted by tradition, deduce such an
astounding inference as the existence of a
polished state of society that bore with the
public savagery of neglected children in
the streets of its capital city, and was proud
of its power by sea and land, and never
used its power to seize and save them!

After this, when I came to the Old Bailey
and glanced up it towards Newgate, I found
that the prison had an inconsistent look.
There seemed to be some unlucky
inconsistency in the atmosphere, that day, for
though the proportions of Saint Paul's
Cathedral are very beautiful, it had an air
of being somewhat out of drawing, in my
eyes. I felt as though the cross were too
high up, and perched upon the intervening
golden ball too far away.

Facing eastward, I left behind me
Smithfield and Old Baileyfire and fagot,
condemned Hold, public hanging, whipping
through the city at the cart-tail, pillory,
branding-iron, and other beautiful
ancestral landmarks which rude hands have
rooted up, without bringing the stars
quite down upon us as yetand went
my way upon my Beat, noting how oddly
characteristic neighbourhoods are divided
from one another, hereabout, as though
by an invisible line across the way.
Here, shall cease the bankers and the
money-changers; here, shall begin the
shipping interest and the nautical instrument
shops; here, shall follow a scarcely
perceptible flavouring of groceries and
drugs; here, shall come a strong infusion of
butchers; now, small hosiers shall be in the
ascendant; henceforth, everything exposed
for sale shall have its ticketed price attached.
All this, as if specially ordered and
appointed. A single stride at Houndsditch
Church, no wider than sufficed to cross the
kennel at the bottom of the Canongate,
which the Debtors in Holyrood Sanctuary
were wont to relieve their minds by skipping
over, as Scott relates, and standing
in delightful daring of Catchpoles on the
free sidea single stride, and everything is
entirely changed in grain and character.
West of the stride, a table, or a chest of
drawers on sale shall be of mahogany and
French-polished; East of the stride, it shall
be of deal, smeared with a cheap counterfeit
resembling lip-salve. West of the
stride, a penny loaf or bun shall be compact
and self-contained; East of the stride, it
shall be of a sprawling and splay-footed
character, as seeking to make more of itself
for the money. My Beat lying round by
Whitechapel Church, and the adjacent
Sugar Refineriesgreat buildings, tier upon
tier, that have the appearance of being
nearly related to the Dock-Warehouses at
LiverpoolI turned off to my right, and
passing round the awkward corner on my
left, came suddenly on an apparition familiar
to London streets afar off.

What London peripatetic of these times
has not seen the woman who has fallen
forward, double, through some affection of
the spine, and whose head has of late
taken a turn to one side, so that it now
droops over the back of one of her arms at
about the wrist? Who does not know her
staff, and her shawl, and her basket, as she
gropes her way along, capable of seeing
nothing but the pavement, never begging,
never stopping, for ever going somewhere on
no business? How does she live, whence does
she come, whither does she go, and why? I
mind the time when her yellow arms were
nought but bone and parchment. Slight
changes steal over her, for there is a
shadowy suggestion of human skin on them
now. The Strand may be taken as the
central point about which she revolves in a
half mile orbit. How comes she so far
East as this? And coming back too!
Having been how much further? She is a
rare spectacle in this neighbourhood. I
receive intelligent information to this effect
from a dog; a lop-sided mongrel with a
foolish tail, plodding along with his tail up,
and his ears pricked, and displaying an
amiable interest in the ways of his fellow-
menif I may be allowed the expression.

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