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[253]

We would not indulge in unnecessary sentiment, but even the old desk at which we sat, the ponderous inkstand, the familiar faces of files of Correspondence, the choice collection of pamphlets, the unfinished essay, the charts by which we steered—can they all have vanished, never more to be seen? Truly your fire makes clean work, and is, of all executive officers, super-eminent. Perhaps that last choice batch of letters may be somewhere on file; we are almost tempted to cry, “Devil! Find it up!” Poh! it is a mere cinder now; some

Fathoms deep my letter lies;
Of its lines is tinder made.

No Arabian tale can cradle a wilder fiction, or show better how altogether illusory life is. Those solid walls of brick, those five decent stories, those steep and difficult stairs, the swinging doors, the Sanctum, scene of many a deep political drama, of many a pathetic tale, utterly whiffed out, as one summarily snuffs out a spermaceti on retiring for the night. And all perfectly true.

One always has some private satisfaction in his own particular misery. Consider what a night it was that burnt us out, that we were conquered by the elements, went up in flames heroically on the wildest, windiest, stormiest night these dozen years, not by any fault of human enterprise, but fairly conquered by stress of weather;—there was a great flourish of trumpets at all events.

And consider, above all, that Salamander safe; how, after all, the fire, assisted by the elements, only came off second best, not being able to reduce that safe into ashes. That is the streak of sunshine through the dun wreaths of smoke, the combat of human ingenuity against the desperate encounter of the seething heat. But those boots, and Webster's Dictionary—well! we were handsomely whipped there, we acknowledge.

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