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Characteristic Sketches





LONDON!-the myriad of associations that rise at the repetition of that name!-LONDON!-the metropolis of the nations! the emporium of the universe! the world's storehouse of wealth! the centre of commerce, art, science, and philosophy! the chief city of the first people upon earth!

"The Seat, where England, from her ancient reign,
"Doth rule the Ocean as her own domain !"

Such-and how much more, that the bounds of our little work permit us not the thought of describing-is London Now. Shall we, Reader, employing our lucubrations to a dif


ferent, though perhaps not less entertaining an end, shall we, glancing over the last two thousand one hundred years past, and resting the mind's eye, after its passage over that mighty chasm of time, upon the period at which our far-famed city had possibly witnessed the flight of half a century from its foundation, shall we, taking our stand upon one of the nearest of what are now termed the Surrey Hills, survey imperial London as it existed THEN ?*

We have reached our station. The chief city of the martial and maritime Belga established in South Britain, is before us. Come, gentle modern Londoner! escaped from the daily din that surrounds thy domicile, beyond the turmoil that fills thy native streets, above the dun smoke and the yellow fogs that float upon thy metropolitic air, come, take with us thy stand. Look from this eminence as upon one of those miracles of illusive art in thine own day, a panorama, and behold the capital of Belgic Britain, as it stood three hundred years before the Christian era, with the scenery adjacent. Come, we will act the cicerone at thy side, and explain the features of the antique scene.

* The eminence popularly called Nun-head Hill will very well suit our purpose.


Observe, there are two leading objects in Start not, this view-FOREST, and WATER. nor already smile in absolute incredulity: remember, two thousand one hundred years are to elapse, ere thou wilt live in actual reality to smile from this fair spot; and believe, that changes, mightier than these, may take place in that long period. The water, forming a vast lake, ripples to the very foot of the verdant slope on which we stand; and extends thence, eastward and westward, farther than the eye can reach; while behind, and on either side, the grassy or the copse-crowned hill, the dark wood, and the brown heathy waste, enclose us, and swell onward to the boundaries of the vision's range. Yon hill,* neither to the but between extreme left nor directly facing us, both, is an islet, all clothed with forest-trees, herons their solitary occupants, and the sole owners of the soil.f Yes, it is girdled with those waves, that, weltering thence around the height on which we stand, and other adjacent elevations, are sheeted too over the self-same spot, on which, some ages henceforward, shall arise a Causeway, purposed to aid the tra

That of which Camberwell Grove forms one of the modern ascents.

+ From whence, it may be, the existing appellation of Herne Hill, which forms a part of the same eminence.


veller's communication with these southern uplands. In front, at the distance of some four miles across the lake, commences its opposite or northern shore; whose whole sweep, from right to left, and from the water's edge to the very summits of the sister hills* that mingle with the horizon in the background, is "black with shade," being a single mighty and continuous forest. Thou art not so dull, having accompanied our description thus far, as now to ask for "Father Thames;" unknowing that the lake before thee embraces the primeval course of that majestic river-yes, even that in which it shall flow, until the Romans of a yet distant age shall have upraised those ponderous banks on either side of the midchannel, between which its waters from that day will ebb and return. But note well, that it is high water with us favoured spectators of this scene; for, at the retreat of the tide, the entire hollow between these hills and the future south bank of the stream, must be a vast marsh, or swamp; parts of which will possibly continue such long after the embankments shall have been completed: nay, we will be so rash as to predict, that this marsh will not be effectually reclaimed, and made habitable for man

• Highgate and Hampstead.

throughout even till about the middle of the far, far distant eighteenth century.

We pardon thy next query, gentle friend; for that is, doubtless," where is the CITY promised to be displayed? the CAPITAL of the Britannic Belgæ?"-Verily, it may somewhat strain thine optics to discern it: yet, with our assistance, the discovery may not be impracticable. Dost thou not see, beneath an exceedingly diminutive portion of the umbrageous mass that lines yon northern shore, a collection of what at first sight may appear like yellow ant-hills; but which, on attentive inspection, may be perceived in reality to be so many circular huts, whose walls we will conjecture from the distance to be of rough timbers, made comfortably tight in the interstices with clay,' and roofed with reeds into elegantly tapering cones? And see, from apertures most curiously contrived at top, the wreaths of smoke, that, rising against the dark foliage in the rear, picture to the envying imagination the culinary employments of the inhabitants, around their centrically disposed hearths within! Yes, Londoner, there is the seat and city of thy 'primogenitors: and observe, it is populous, for it contains some hundreds of yon artfullyfinished and substantial houses: nay, it is already a place of commercial importance, for

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