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A PAPER-MILL.

DOWN at Dartford in Kent, on a fine bright
day, I strolled through the pleasant green
lanes, on my way to a Paper-Mill. Accustomed,
mainly, to associate Dartford with Gunpowder
Mills, and formidable tin canisters,
illustrated in copper-plate, with the
outpourings of a generous cornucopia of dead
game, I found it pleasant to think, on a
summer morning when all living creatures
were enjoying life, that it was only paper in
my mindnot powder.

If sturdy Wat Tyler, of this very town of
Dartford in Kent (Deptford had the honour of
him once, but that was a mistake) could only
have anticipated and reversed the precept of
the pious Orange-Lodges; if he could only
have put his trust in Providence, and kept his
paper dampfor printinghe need never
have marched to London, the captain of a
hundred thousand men, and summarily
beheaded the archbishop of Canterbury as a
bad adviser of the young king, Richard. Then,
would William Walworth, Lord Mayor of
London (and an obsequious courtier enough,
may be) never have struck him from his
charger, unawares. Then, might the "general
enfranchisement of all bondmen"—the bold
smith's demandhave come, a long time
sooner than it did. Then, might working-men
have maintained the decency and honour of
their daughters, through many a hazy score of
troubled and oppressive years, when they were
yet as the clods of the valley, broken by the
ploughshare, worried by the harrow. But, in
those days, paper and printing for the people
were not; so, Wat lay low in Smithfield, and
Heaven knows what became of his daughter,
and the old ferocious wheel went driving
round, some centuries longer.

The wild flowers were blowing in these
Dartford hedges, all those many summer-
times; the larks were singing, high in air; the
trees were rustling as they rustle to-day; the
bees went humming by; the light clouds cast
their shadows on the verdant fields. The
pleasant little river Darent ran the same course;
sparkled in the same sun; had, then as now,
its tiny circles made by insects; and its plumps
and plashes, made by fish. But, the river has
changed, since Wat the Blacksmith, bending
over with his bucket, saw his grimy face,
impatient of unjust and grievous tribute, making
remonstrance with him for his long endurance.
Now, there are indeed books in the running
brooksfor they go to feed the Paper-Mill.

Time was, in the old Saxon days, when
there stood a Mill here, "held in ferm by a
Reve," but that was not a Paper-Mill. Then,
came a Nunnery, with kings' fair daughters in
it; then, a Palace; then, Queen Elizabeth, in
her sixteenth year, to sojourn at the Palace
two days; then, in that reign, a Paper-Mill.
In the church yonder, hidden behind the
trees, with many rooks discoursing in their
lofty houses between me and it, is the tomb
of Sir John Spielman, jeweller to the Queen
when she had grown to be a dame of a
shrewd temper, aged fifty or so: who "built
a Paper-Mill for the making of writing-paper,"
and to whom his Royal Mistress was pleased
to grant a license "for the sole gathering for
ten years of all rags, &c., necessary for the
making of such paper." There is a legend
that the same Sir John, in coming here from
Germany, to build his Mill, did bring with
him two young lime-treesthen unknown in
Englandwhich he set before his Dartford
dwelling-house, and which did flourish exceedingly;
so, that they fanned him with their
shadows, when he lay asleep in the upper story,
an ancient gentleman. Now, God rest the
soul of Sir John Spielman, for the love of all
the sweet-smelling lime-trees that have ever
greeted me in the land, and all the writing-
paper I have ever blotted!

But, as I turn down by the hawthorn
hedge into the valley, a sound comes in my
earslike the murmuring and throbbing of a
mighty giant, labouring hardthat would have
unbraced all the Saxon bows, and shaken all
the heads off Temple Bar and London Bridge,
ever lifted to those heights from the always
butchering, always craving, never sufficiently-
to-be-regretted, brave old English Block. It
is the noise of the Steam Engine. And now,
before me, white and clean without, and
radiant in the sun, with the sweet clear river
tumbling merrily down to kiss it, and help in
the work it does, is the Paper-Mill I have
come to see!

It is like the Mill of the child's story, that
ground old people young. Paper! White,
pure, spick and span new paper, with that
fresh smell which takes us back to school and

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