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Reprinted Pieces

IF I had an enemy whom I hated - which Heaven forbid! - and if I knew of something
which sat heavy on his conscience, I think I would introduce that something into a
Posting-Bill, and place a large impression in the hands of an active sticker. I can
scarcely imagine a more terrible revenge. I should haunt him, by this means, night and
day. I do not mean to say that I would publish his secret, in red letters two feet high, for
all the town to read: I would darkly refer to it. It should be between him, and me, and the
Posting-Bill. Say, for example, that, at a certain period of his life, my enemy had
surreptitiously possessed himself of a key. I would then embark my capital in the lock
business, and conduct that business on the advertising principle. In all my placards and
advertisements, I would throw up the line SECRET KEYS. Thus, if my enemy passed
an uninhabited house, he would see his conscience glaring down on him from the
parapets, and peeping up at him from the cellars. If he took a dead wall in his walk, it
would be alive with reproaches. If he sought refuge in an omnibus, the panels thereof
would become Belshazzar's palace to him. If he took boat, in a wild endeavour to
escape, he would see the fatal words lurking under the arches of the bridges over the
Thames. If he walked the streets with downcast eyes, he would recoil from the very
stones of the pavement, made eloquent by lamp-black lithograph. If he drove or rode,
his way would be blocked up by enormous vans, each proclaiming the same words over
and over again from its whole extent of surface. Until, having gradually grown thinner
and paler, and having at last totally rejected food, he would miserably perish, and I
should be revenged. This conclusion I should, no doubt, celebrate by laughing a hoarse
laugh in three syllables, and folding my arms tight upon my chest agreeably to most of
the examples of glutted animosity that I have had an opportunity of observing in
connexion with the Drama - which, by-the-by, as involving a good deal of noise, appears
to me to be occasionally confounded with the Drummer.
The foregoing reflections presented themselves to my mind, the other day, as I
contemplated (being newly come to London from the East Riding of Yorkshire, on a
house-hunting expedition for next May), an old warehouse which rotting paste and
rotting paper had brought down to the condition of an old cheese. It would have been
impossible to say, on the most conscientious survey, how much of its front was brick
and mortar, and how much decaying and decayed plaster. It was so thickly encrusted
with fragments of bills, that no ship's keel after a long voyage could be half so foul. All
traces of the broken windows were billed out, the doors were billed across, the water-
spout was billed over. The building was shored up to prevent its tumbling into the street;
and the very beams erected against it were less wood than paste and paper, they had
been so continually posted and reposted. The forlorn dregs of old posters so