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TO

CAPTAIN ANDREW THOMSON, R. N.

THIS VOLUME OF LETTERS

IS INSCRIBED,

AS

A MARK OF ESTEEM AND RESPECT,

BY

THE AUTHOR

LETTER I.

DIEDITATION ON THE TOP OF THE DOME OF ST

. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL.

Even now, where Alpine solitudes ascend,
I sit me down a pensive hour to spend ;
And, placed on high above the storm's career,
Look downward where an hundred realms appear ;
Lakes, forests, cities, plains extended wide,
The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride.

GOLDSMITH.

London, 4th April 1820. ELEVATED far above London, and even the tops of the highest spires, I feel as if I were the only individual in this great metropolis that breathes uncontaminated air. The cloud of smoke rolling to the westward, increasing in its progress, and obscuring the most fashionable part of the town, is the only sign of life that I see in this great wilderness of houses, except in the immediate vicinity of St Paul's Church-yard, where carriages and crowds on the streets are seen ; otherwise it has the appearance of an extensive cemetery. The spires, monuments, and obelisks appear to mark where the more illustrious dead are laid. The houses are built so close, and the streets so narrow, that it is only a few of the leading streets that are seen, and they appear as avenues to the dwellings of the dead.

Majestic Thames rolling its waters to the ocean, with numberless wherries skiffing along its bosom, and the surrounding scenery of hill and dale, diversified with villages, impress the mind with nobler ideas than all this undefinable mass of building. How varied must the-scenes be that are now passing around me, though hid from my view! How many at this moment are entering on life's transitory scene, while others, wearied with its fluctuating cares and sorrows, and worn with toil and disease to life's lowest ebb, are leaving their material dwellings to join the world of disembodied spirits ! Thousands are now dancing on the .giddy maze of folly, careless of their fellow-mortals, who are lying on beds of languishing, and are sick of life. Evanescent are all earthly enjoyments:; they wither at the touch of time, and too often leave their votaries the prey of sorrow and disease; too low is the hope that is built beneath the heavens, it is liable to be blasted by every changing breeze: Man but flutters for a few years, and then is gone! Like the fly eddying within the vortex of the candle, every circle draws it nearer destruction, so every year bringeth man nearer the grave... The lot of all

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