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PAGE 2

Flitting
by [?]

In the getting ready to go, nothing hurt half so much as the sight of the little girl packing her doll’s things for removal. The trousseaux of all those elegant creatures, the wooden, the waxen, the biscuit, the india- rubber, were carefully assorted, and arranged in various small drawers and boxes; their house was thoughtfully put in order and locked for transportation; their innumerable broken sets of dishes were packed in paper and set out upon the floor, a heart-breaking little basketful. Nothing real in this world is so affecting as some image of reality, and this travesty of our own flitting was almost intolerable. I will not pretend to sentiment about anything else, for everything else had in it the element of self-support belonging to all actual afflictions. When the day of moving finally came, and the furniture wagon, which ought to have been only a shade less dreadful to us than a hearse, drew up at our door, our hearts were of a Neronian hardness.

“Were I Diogenes,” says wrathful Charles Lamb in one of his letters, “I would not move out of a kilderkin into a hogshead, though the first had nothing but small beer in it, and the second reeked claret.” I fancy this loathing of the transitionary state came in great part from the rude and elemental nature of the means of moving in Lamb’s day. In our own time, in Charlesbridge at least, everything is so perfectly contrived, that it is in some ways a pleasant excitement to move; though I do not commend the diversion to any but people of entire leisure, for it cannot be denied that it is, at any rate, an interruption to work. But little is broken, little is defaced, nothing is heedlessly outraged or put to shame. Of course there are in every house certain objects of comfort and even ornament which in a state of repose derive a sort of dignity from being cracked, or scratched, or organically debilitated, and give an idea of ancestral possession and of long descent to the actual owner; and you must not hope that this venerable quality will survive their public exposure upon the furniture wagon. There it instantly perishes, like the consequence of some country notable huddled and hustled about in the graceless and ignorant tumult of a great city. To tell the truth, the number of things that turn shabby under the ordeal of moving strikes a pang of unaccustomed poverty to the heart which, loving all manner of makeshifts, is rich even in its dilapidations. For the time you feel degraded by the spectacle of that forlornness, and if you are a man of spirit, you try to sneak out of association with it in the mind of the passer-by; you keep scrupulously in-doors, or if a fancied exigency obliges you to go back and forth between the old house and the new, you seek obscure by-ways remote from the great street down which the wagon flaunts your ruin and decay, and time your arrivals and departures so as to have the air of merely dropping in at either place. This consoles you; but it deceives no one; for the man who is moving is unmistakably stamped with transition.

Yet the momentary eclipse of these things is not the worst. It is momentary; for if you will but plant them in kindly corners and favorable exposures of the new house, a mould of respectability will gradually overspread them again, and they will once more account for their presence by the air of having been a long time in the family; but there is danger that in the first moments of mortification you will be tempted to replace them with new and costly articles. Even the best of the old things are nothing to boast of in the hard, unpitying light to which they are exposed, and a difficult and indocile spirit of extravagance is evoked in the least profuse. Because of this fact alone I should not commend the diversion of moving save to people of very ample means as well as perfect leisure; there are more reasons than the misery of flitting why the dweller in the kilderkin should not covet the hogshead reeking of claret.