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[263] Robertsonian at best, naturally grows worse when forced to condescend to every-day matters. He can no more dismount and walk than the man in armor on a Lord Mayor's day. ‘It [Aldersgate Street] stretches away northwards a full fourth of a mile as one continuous thoroughfare, until, crossed by Long Lane and the Barbican, it parts with the name of Aldersgate Street, and, under the new names of Goswell Street and Goswell Road, completes its tendency towards the suburbs and fields about Islington.’ What a noble work might not the Directory be if composed on this scale! The imagination even of an alderman might well be lost in that full quarter of a mile of continuous thoroughfare. Mr. Masson is very great in these passages of civic grandeur; but he is more surprising, on the whole, where he has an image to deal with. Speaking of Milton's ‘two-handed engine’ in Lycidas, he says: ‘May not Milton, whatever else he meant, have meant a coming English Parliament with its two Houses? Whatever he meant, his prophecy had come true. As he sat among his books in Aldersgate Street, the two-handed engine at the door of the English Church was on the swing. Once, twice, thrice, it had swept its arcs to gather energy; now it was on the backmost poise, and the blow was to descend.’ One cannot help wishing that Mr. Masson would try his hand on the tenth horn of the beast in Revelation, or on the time and half a time of Daniel. There is something so consoling to a prophet in being told that, no matter what he meant, his prophecy had come true, and that he might mean ‘whatever else’ he pleased, so long as he may have meant what we choose to think he did, reasoning backward from the assumed fulfilment! But perhaps there may be detected in Mr. Masson's ‘swept its arcs’ a little of that prophetic hedging — in vagueness to which he allows so generous a latitude.

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