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THE

ESSAYS OF E L I A.

BY CHARLES LAMB.

FIRST SERIES.

NEW YORK:

WILEY & PUTNAM, 161 BROADWAY,

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ELIA.

THE SOUTH-SEA HOUSE.

READER, in thy passage from the Bank—where thou hast been receiving thy half-yearly dividends (supposing thou art a lean annuitant like myself) to the Flower Pot, to secure a place for Dalston, or Shacklewell, or some other thy suburban retreat northerly,--didst thou never observe a melancholy-looking, handsome, brick and stone edifice, to the left--where Threadneedlestreet abuts upon Bishopsgate ? I dare say thou hast often admired its magnificent portals ever gaping wide, and disclosing to view a grave court, with cloisters, and pillars, with few or no traces of goers-in or comers-out-a desolation something like Balclutha's.*

This was once a house of trade,-a centre of busy interests. The throng of merchants was here--the quick pulse of gainand here some forms of business are still kept up, though the soul be long since fled. Here are still to be seen stately porticos; imposing staircases, offices roomy as the state apartments in palaces—deserted, or thinly peopled with a few straggling clerks; the still more sacred interiors of court and committee-rooms, with venerable faces of beadles, door-keepers-directors seated in form on solemn days (to proclaim a dead dividend), at long worm-eaten tables, that have been mahogany, with tarnished gilt-leather coverings, supporting massy silver inkstands long since dry ;-the oaken wainscots hung with pictures of deceased governors and sub-governors, of queen Anne, and the two first monarchs of the Brunswick dynasty-huge charts, which subsequent discoveries * I passed by the walls of Balclutha, and they were desolate.-OSSIAN.

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