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Indeed, I look upon Gray's Inn generally as
one of the most depressing institutions in brick
and mortar, known to the children of men. Can
anything be more dreary than its arid Square,
Saharah Desert of the law, with the ugly old
tile-topped tenements, the dirty windows, the
bills To Let To Let, the door-posts inscribed
like gravestones, the crazy gateway giving
upon the filthy Lane, tfie scowling iron-barred
prison-like passage into Verulam-buildings, the
mouldy red-nosed ticket-porters with little
coffin plates and why with aprons, the dry hard
atomy-like appearance of the whole dust-heap?
When my uncommercial travels tend to this
dismal spot, my comfort is, its rickety state.
Imagination gloats over the fulness of time,
when the staircases shall have quite tumbled
downthey are daily wearing into an
ill-savoured powder, but have not quite tumbled
down yetwhen the last old prolix bencher
all of the olden time, shall have been got out of
an upper window by means of a Fire-Ladder,
and carried off to the Holborn Union; when the
last clerk shall have engrossed the last parchment
behind the last splash on the last of the
mud-stained windows which, all through the
miry year, are pilloried out of recognition in
Gray's Inn-lane. Then shall a squalid little
trench, with rank grass and a pump in it,
lying between the coffee-house and South-square,
be wholly given up to cats and rats, and not, as
now, have its empire divided between those
animals and a few briefless bipedssurely called to
the Bar by the voices of deceiving spirits, seeing
that they are wanted there by no mortalwho
glance down, with eyes better glazed than their
casements, from their dreary and lacklustre
rooms. Then shall the way Nor' Westward,
now lying under a short grim colonnade where
in summer time pounce flies from law-stationering
windows into the eyes of laymen, be choked
with rubbish and happily become impassable.
Then shall the gardens where turf, trees, and
gravel wear a legal livery of black, run rank, and
pilgrims go to Gorhambury to see Bacon's effigy
as he sat, and not come here (which in truth
they seldom do) to see where he walked. Then,
in a word, shall the old-established vendor of
periodicals sit alone in his little crib of a shop
behind the Holborn Gate, like that lumbering
Marius among the ruins of Carthage, who has
sat heavy on a thousand million of similes.

At one period of my uncommercial career I
much frequented another set of chambers in
Gray's Inn-square. They were what is
familiarly called " a top set," and all the eatables
and drinkables introduced into them acquired
a flavour of Cockloft. I have known an
unopened Strasbourg pate fresh from Fortnum
and Mason's, to draw in this cockloft tone
through its crockery dish, and become
penetrated with cockloft to the core of its inmost
truffle in throe-quarters of an hour. This,
however, was not the most curious feature of those
chambers; that, consisted in the profound
conviction entertained by my esteemed friend
Parkle (their tenant) that they were clean.

Whether it was an inborn hallucination, or
whether it was imparted to him by Mrs.
Miggot the laundress, I never could ascertain.
But I believe he would have gone to the
stake upon the question. Now, they were so
dirty that I could take off the distinctest
impression of my figure on any article of furniture
by merely lounging upon it for a few moments;
and it used to be a private amusement of mine
to print myself offif I may use the expression
all over the rooms. It was the first large
circulation I had. At other times I have
accidentally shaken a window-curtain while in
animated conversation with Parkle, and struggling
insects which were certainly red, and were
certainly not ladybirds, have dropped on the back
of my hand. Yet Parkle lived in that top set
years, bound body and soul to the superstition
that they were clean. He used to say,
when congratulated upon them, "Well, they
are not like chambers in one respect, you know;
they are clean." Concurrently, he had an idea
which he could never explain, that Mrs. Miggot

was in some way connected with the Church.
When he was in particularly good spirits, he
used to believe that a deceased uncle of hers
had been a Dean; when he was poorly and low,
he believed that her brother had been a Curate,
I and Mrs. Miggot (she was a genteel woman )
were on confidential terms, but I never knew
her to commit herself to any distinct assertion
on the subject; she merely claimed a proprietorship
in the Church, by looking when it was
mentioned, as if the reference awakened the slumbering
Past, and were personal. It may have
been his amiable confidence in Mrs. Miggot's
better days that inspired my friend with his
delusion respecting the chambers, but he never
wavered in his fidelity to it for a moment, though
he wallowed in dirt seven years.

Two of the windows of these chambers looked
down into the garden; and we have sat up there
together, many a summer evening, saying how
pleasant it was, and talking of many things. To
my intimacy with that top set, I am indebted
for three of my liveliest personal impressions
of the loneliness of life in chambers. Ihey shall
follow here, in order; first, second, and third.

First. My Gray's Inn friend, on a time, hurt
one of his legs, and it became seriously inflamed.
Not knowing of his indisposition, I was on my
way to visit him as usual, one summer evening,
when I was much surprised by meeting a lively
leech in Field-court, Gray's Inn, seemingly on
his way to the West End of London. As the
leech was alone, and was of course unable to
explain his position, even if he had been inclined
to do so (which he had not the appearance of
being), I passed him and went on. Turning the
corner of Gray's Inn-square, I was beyond
expression amazed by meeting another leech also
entirely alone, and also proceeding in a westerly
direction, though with less decision of purpose.
Ruminating on this extraordinary circumstance,
and endeavouring to remember whether I had
ever read, in the Philosophical Transactions
or any work on Natural History, of a