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AT this time of the year, and especially at
this time of this year when the great metropolis
is so much hotter, so much noisier, so
much more dusty or so much more water-carted,
so much more crowded, so much more
disturbing and distracting in all respects, than
it usually is, a quiet sea-beach becomes indeed
a blessed spot. Half awake and half asleep,
this idle morning in our sunny window on
the edge of a chalk cliff in the old-fashioned
Watering Place to which we are a faithful
resorter, we feel a lazy inclination to sketch
its picture.

The place seems to respond. Sky, sea,
beach, and village, lie as still before us as if
they were sitting for the picture. It is dead
low-water. A ripple plays among the ripening
corn upon the cliff, as if it were faintly trying
from recollection to imitate the sea; and the
world of butterflies hovering over the crop of
radish-seed are as restless in their little way
as the gulls are in their larger manner when
the wind blows. But the ocean lies winking
in the sunlight like a drowsy lionits glassy
waters scarcely curve upon the shorethe
fishing-boats in the tiny harbour are all
stranded in the mudour two colliers (our
Watering Place has a maritime trade employing
that amount of shipping) have not an inch
of water within a quarter of a mile of them,
and turn, exhausted, on their sides, like faint
fish of an antediluvian species. Rusty cables
and chains, ropes and rings, undermost parts
of posts and piles and confused timber-defences
against the waves, lie strewn about, in a brown
litter of tangled sea-weed and fallen cliff
which looks as if a family of giants had been
making tea here for ages, and had observed an
untidy custom of throwing their tea-leaves on
the shore.

In truth our Watering Place itself has been
left somewhat high and dry. by the tide of
years. Concerned as we are for its honor, we
must reluctantly admit that the time when
this pretty little semi-circular sweep of houses
tapering off at the end of the wooden pier
into a point in the sea, was a gay place, and
when the lighthouse overlooking it shone at
daybreak on company dispersing from public
balls, is but dimly traditional now. There is
a bleak chamber in our Watering Place which
is yet called the Assembly "Rooms," and
understood to be available on hire for Balls
or Concerts; and, some few seasons since, an
ancient little gentleman came down and stayed
at the Hotel, who said he had danced there,
in byegone ages, with the Honorable Miss
Peepy, well known to have been the Beauty
of her day and the cruel occasion of innumerable
duels. But he was so old and
shrivelled, and so very rheumatic in the legs,
that it demanded more imagination than our
Watering Place can usually muster, to believe
him; therefore, except the Master of the
"Rooms" (who to this hour wears knee-breeches,
and who confirmed the statement
with tears in his eyes), nobody did believe in
the little lame old gentleman, or even in the
Honorable Miss Peepy, long deceased.

As to subscription balls in the Assembly
Rooms of our Watering Place now, red-hot
cannon balls are less improbable. Sometimes,
a misguided wanderer of a Ventriloquist, or
an Infant Phenomenon, or a Juggler, or somebody
with an Orrery that is several stars
behind the time, takes the place for a night,
and issues bills with the name of his last town
lined out, and the name of ours ignominiously
written in, but you may be sure this never
happens twice to the same unfortunate person.
On such occasions the discolored old Billiard
Table that is seldom played at (unless the
ghost of the Honorable Miss Peepy plays at
Pool with other ghosts) is pushed into a
corner, and benches are solemnly constituted
into front seats, back seats, and reserved
seatswhich are much the same after you
have paidand a few dull candles are
lightedwind permittingand the Performer
and the scanty Audience play out a short
match which shall make the other most
low-spiritedwhich is usually a drawn game.
After that, the Performer instantly departs
with maledictory expressions, and is never
heard of more.

But the most wonderful feature of our
Assembly Rooms, is, that an annual sale of
"Fancy and other China," is announced here
with mysterious constancy and perseverance.
Where the china comes from, where it goes
to, why it is annually put up to auction when
nobody ever thinks of bidding for it, how it
comes to pass that it is always the same
china, whether it would not have been cheaper,

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