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ON THE CANAL.

FIRST STAGE.

THERE was once a great musical artist who,
in a moment of weakness, was prevailed upon
by the delusive promises of American
managers to leave the sea-girt shores of
England, and make the perilous and dreaded
passage of the Atlantic Ocean. The vessel
in which he sailed was large and well-
appointed. The officers and servants were kind,
obedient and attentive. There was every
luxury that the most delicate and exacting
passenger could require; and they made New
York from Liverpool after a delightful run
of twelve days and a-half. Such were the
impressions of all the passengers except
the unfortunate and deluded musical artist.
He could not appreciate or avail himself
of the registered size of the vessel, for it
always seemed to him to be a monument
floating perpendicularly in the air, and himself
always lying helplessly and hopelessly
at its base. The officers and servants
appeared to him in the light of grinning
demons. He loathed the idea of food, and the
mere thought of luxuries afflicted him with
something like the premonitory pangs of
death. According to his miserable reckoning,
the voyage, or purgatory, lasted about
two hundred and fifty years. When he
reached land he was a shattered man;
and it was long before he could delight
his expectant audiences with that delicacy of
tone and precision of execution which had
gained him his European reputation, and
made his name a familiar sound in the Consol
market of Great Britain. He wandered from
end to end of the American continent. He
performed in curious Mexican cities and wild
settlements where gold was plentiful but
refinement scarce. Looking upon the surging sea
with hate and loathing and horror, he never
had the courage to return to the country
which was waiting for him with open arms;
and he died at last in a Peruvian boarding-
house, and was buried under the shadow of a
plant whose leaves were as thick as the leg
of a man, and as broad as the fish-pond of an
English mansion.

I have a perfect sympathy with this dead
musical artist. I hate and dread the sea. Far
from venturing across the Atlantic, I even
avoid the Straits of Dover; and I obtain my
knowledge of foreign countries from pictures,
dioramas, panoramas, Murray, the continental
Bradshaw, and the descriptive conversations
of my more courageous and travelled friends.

Like all persons of a circumscribed
experience, I have a tendency to depreciate
that which I know very little about. It is
my habit to consider the Rhine a very much
over-rated river, lined on each side, like a
tea-garden, with mock picturesque ruins, such
as Messrs. Cubitt would be glad to build
along the Thames or the Severn at a very
moderate contract price. I call Paris hot
and wearying; Brussels a provincial Paris;
Vienna immoral; Holland foggy; and Berlin
dull. Above all, I endeavour to impress all
tourists with a strong sense of the duty of
becoming acquainted with the beauties of
their own country, and the habits of their own
countrymen. I set them an example by
starting off with thick boots, a thick stick,
scanty luggage strapped upon my back, and
a very broad brimmed hat. I come back
with wonderful stories of picturesque spots
lying neglected almost under the very shadow
of Saint Paul's Cathedral, and fabulous
accounts of people and manners existing within
a pistol-shot of Primrose Hill, or three hours'
walk of Hyde Park Corner: less known to
energetic travellers than the Kaffir races:
more strange to cosmopolitan dandies than
Aztec life. I have associated with gipsies
to be grievously disappointed at finding them
nothing like the bright and cheerful beings
represented in the pages of story-books, and
in the pictures of the music-sellers, but very
dirty, wretched, miserable tramps; whose
real way of life I found to be very unromantic
and disagreeable, especially when the damp
mists of the later autumn settled down upon
the fields and woods, and they trod upon
nothing better than the sere and yellow leaf.
I have lived amongst railway navigators in
a hut upon wheels, to be astonished at the
wild and almost childlike simplicity of their
nature, and the rude sense of order, justice,
and honesty that existed in their strong
bodies and feeble and uncultivated minds.
Finally (as I am about to narrate), having
nearly exhausted the land of my birth, I
lately took to my natural enemy the water
(but in its placidest condition), and, scorning

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