The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 33
I, Jno., formerly of the U.K. of G.B.,—a Kingdom scarce a quarter of a century ago the base, or rather the apex, of an Empire which rose over and around it, triangular, precipitous, and vast,—I, Jno., formerly of the U.K. of G.B., but at this day of the tremendous tribe of Smeythies, whose demesne and hunting grounds lie around Taranaki, New Zealand.—I, Jno., of the tribe of Smeythies, which constitutes the most populous of the leash of Tribes that maintain that Island, do write.
I sit upon the last crumbling stones of that bridge,—erst the famous London Bridge. Pavement, footway, parapet, abutment, pillar, pier, all, all are gone. A rough, steep bank leads to the water on its northern site. The river, not as of old, sluggish, thick, and black, but lively, clear, and sparkling, flows unbroken o'er its foundations,—and I, on the few last mouldering stones, once lifting up the most heroic spot in Middlesex, survey the ruined and desolate city.
Ruin of Ruins! I behold—before, behind, around—of all man's works.
That threatening Tower, whose dark walls enclosed the sad mysteries of centuries, without a stone to mark its existence, is itself enclosed a mystery in page 2 Time. Supreme St. Paul's still rivals St. Peter's of Rome,—they are equally levelled, and traceless in the dust. One vestige alone remains—the brave golden tower of Westminster; retained by the invading chief as an oriflamme to denote the royal encampment, and left, in his sudden flight, intact. It burns, lofty and dazzling, over the waste to my left; and to subsequent generations will convey an idea of the wealthy nature of the city, of which it will be esteemed the least valuable relic, when neotoric brick and mortar are extinguished.
I am here compelled by Fate.
The Soothsayer (of whom hereafter) of my tribe, consulting his oracles (of which hereafter) found, that four ages ago, a strange prophet from the European Continent, lost and inspired amidst the wreck and solitude of Palmyra, foretold that one would sit upon the banks of the rivers of their renowned cities and write their fall; that, three ages ago, a young poet of this Kingdom, musing in the inspiration of his teens, re-echoed the same truth; and that, two ages ago, a prophet of this desert, prophesying with his predecessor's prophecy, named our race to produce the appointed one, and his place the appointed city.
The tribe responded to the Soothsayer, and a man was sought for fit to accomplish the prophecy. I was chosen. Because, firstly, I was the earliest that fled this devoted metropolis, on the presage of woe; secondly, the latest months of my life here were spent, alas! unhappily, in remarking much of the manners and characteristics of the nation which peopled this desolation.page 3
We print no books in our tribe (of which hereafter), and this will be the only memento of the direful calamity that swept from the Caspian Sea to the Galway Coast.
I am thus original, having no contemporaneous writers. As for my language, it was once conventional, now it is classic. Its pronunciation is already incomprehensible to most of our tribe. Those who can, dare not speak it. My own name is as dread as that of Demogorgon of yore. The articulation of it is Jinno.