Urban Sketches eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 70 pages of information about Urban Sketches.
inquisitive man, who deliberately shortens his pace, so that he may participate in the confidence you impart to your companion, has an eye not unfamiliar to keyholes, and probably opens his wife’s letters.  The loud man, who talks with the intention of being overheard, is the same egotist elsewhere.  If there was any justice in Iago’s sneer, that there were some “so weak of soul that in their sleep they mutter their affairs,” what shall be said of the walking revery-babblers?  I have met men who were evidently rolling over, “like a sweet morsel under the tongue,” some speech they were about to make, and others who were framing curses.  I remember once that, while walking behind an apparently respectable old gentleman, he suddenly uttered the exclamation, “Well, I’m d——­d!” and then quietly resumed his usual manner.  Whether he had at that moment become impressed with a truly orthodox disbelief in his ultimate salvation, or whether he was simply indignant, I never could tell.

I have been hesitating for some time to speak—­or if indeed to speak at all—­of that lovely and critic-defying sex, whose bright eyes and voluble prattle have not been without effect in tempering the austerities of my peripatetic musing.  I have been humbly thankful that I have been permitted to view their bright dresses and those charming bonnets which seem to have brought the birds and flowers of spring within the dreary limits of the town, and—­I trust I shall not be deemed unkind in saying it—­my pleasure was not lessened by the reflection that the display, to me at least, was inexpensive.  I have walked in—­and I fear occasionally on—­the train of the loveliest of her sex who has preceded me.  If I have sometimes wondered why two young ladies always began to talk vivaciously on the approach of any good-looking fellow; if I have wondered whether the minor-like qualities of all large show-windows at all influenced their curiosity regarding silks and calicoes; if I have ever entertained the same ungentlemanly thought concerning daguerreotype show-cases; if I have ever misinterpreted the eye-shot which has passed between two pretty women—­more searching, exhaustive and sincere than any of our feeble ogles; if I have ever committed these or any other impertinences, it was only to retire beaten and discomfited, and to confess that masculine philosophy, while it soars beyond Sirius and the ring of Saturn, stops short at the steel periphery which encompasses the simplest school-girl.


As I lift my eyes from the paper, I observe a dog lying on the steps of the opposite house.  His attitude might induce passers-by and casual observers to believe him to belong to the people who live there, and to accord to him a certain standing position.  I have seen visitors pat him, under the impression that they were doing an act of courtesy to his master, he lending himself to the fraud by hypocritical contortions of the body.  But his attitude is one of deceit and simulation.  He has neither master nor habitation.  He is a very Pariah and outcast; in brief, “A Boys’ Dog.”

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Urban Sketches from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.