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Title: Highways and Byways in London
Author: Cook, E. T.
Language: English
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HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS

IN

LONDON



  MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

  LONDON . BOMBAY . CALCUTTA . MADRAS
  MELBOURNE

  THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

  NEW YORK . BOSTON . CHICAGO
  DALLAS . SAN FRANCISCO

  THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd.

  TORONTO



[Illustration: _Crossing at Piccadilly Circus._]



  _HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS

  IN

  LONDON_


  BY MRS. E. T. COOK


  WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY

  HUGH THOMSON AND

  F. L. GRIGGS



  MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
  ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON
  1920



  _COPYRIGHT._
  _First Edition_, 1902.
  _Reprinted_, 1903, 1907, 1911, 1920.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER I

  HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS                                      1


CHAPTER II

  THE RIVER                                               22


CHAPTER III

  RAMBLES IN THE CITY                                     53


CHAPTER IV

  ST. PAUL'S AND ITS PRECINCTS                            84


CHAPTER V

  THE TOWER                                              100


CHAPTER VI

  SOUTHWARK, OLD AND NEW                                 121


CHAPTER VII

  THE INNS OF COURT                                      137


CHAPTER VIII

  THE EAST AND THE WEST                                  162


CHAPTER IX

  WESTMINSTER                                            187


CHAPTER X

  KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA                                 210


CHAPTER XI

  BLOOMSBURY                                             238


CHAPTER XII

  THEATRICAL AND FOREIGN LONDON                          273


CHAPTER XIII

  LONDON SHOPS AND MARKETS                               298


CHAPTER XIV

  THE GALLERIES, MUSEUMS, AND COLLECTIONS                324


CHAPTER XV

  HISTORIC HOUSES AND THEIR TENANTS                      358


CHAPTER XVI

  RUS IN URBE                                            385


CHAPTER XVII

  THE WAYS OF LONDONERS                                  414


CHAPTER XVIII

  THE STONES OF LONDON                                   447


  INDEX                                                  473



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  CROSSING AT PICCADILLY CIRCUS               _Frontispiece_

  SANDWICH-BOARD MEN                                       6

  THE SHOEBLACK                                           11

  WHEN THE STRAND IS UP                                   16

  WATERLOO BRIDGE                                         22

  SIGHTSEERS                                              34

  THE "TOP" SEASON                                        40

  AN UNDERGROUND STATION                                  53

  CLOTHFAIR                                               57

  ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S, SMITHFIELD                           66

  FIGHTING COCKS                                          85

  ST. PAUL'S FROM THE RIVER                               87

  ST. MICHAEL'S, PATERNOSTER ROYAL                        96

  A BEEFEATER                                            102

  CRICKET IN THE STREET. THE LOST BALL                   127

  A COUNTY COURT                                         130

  PEPYS AND HIS WIFE                                     140

  LINCOLN'S INN                                          152

  FETTER LANE                                            157

  A RAILWAY BOOKSTALL                                    163

  THE CITY TRAIN                                         165

  BANK HOLIDAY                                           171

  IN REGENT STREET                                       180

  PICCADILLY                                             182

  SPESHUL!                                               187

  VICTORIA TOWER, WESTMINSTER                            206

  ANGLERS IN THE PARKS                                   211

  KENSINGTON PALACE AND THE ROUND POND                   214

  EARL'S COURT                                           221

  THE GERMAN BAND                                        239

  THE PAVEMENT ARTIST                                    249

  MUDIE'S                                                267

  THE "GODS"                                             281

  ICE-CREAM BARROW                                       291

  THE ORGAN-GRINDER                                      293

  A SALE AT CHRISTIE'S                                   298

  THE DOG FANCIER!!!                                     304

  IN THE CHARING CROSS ROAD                              306

  SATURDAY NIGHT SHOPPING                                313

  AN AERATED BREAD SHOP                                  321

  A SKETCH IN TRAFALGAR SQUARE                           325

  AT THE ROYAL ACADEMY                                   339

  RECRUITING SERJEANTS BY THE NATIONAL GALLERY           345

  AT THE CLUB                                            359

  WYCH STREET                                            365

  CRICKET IN THE PARKS                                   385

  ROTTEN ROW                                             389

  ROTTEN ROW                                             391

  THE SERPENTINE, HYDE PARK                              393

  TEA IN KENSINGTON GARDENS                              396

  A FOUNTAIN IN ST. JAMES'S PARK                         398

  THE REFORMER                                           403

  A JURY                                                 414

  'BUS DRIVER                                            415

  INSIDE                                                 419

  "BENK, BENK!!"                                         421

  THE HANSOM                                             424

  A DOORSTEP PARTY                                       428

  HOP-SCOTCH                                             433

  THE RETURN, BANK HOLIDAY                               435

  FLOWER GIRLS                                           438

  THE MEN IN BLUE                                        447

  THE HORSE GUARDS                                       456



"I confess that I never think of London, which I love, without
thinking of that palace which David built for Bathsheba, sitting in
hearing of one hundred streams,--streams of thought, of intelligence,
of activity. One other thing about London impresses me beyond any
other sound I have ever heard, and that is the low, unceasing roar one
hears always in the air; it is not a mere accident, like a tempest or
a cataract, but it is impressive, because it always indicates human
will, and impulse, and conscious movement; and I confess that when I
hear it I almost feel as if I were listening to the roaring loom of
time."--_Lowell._



HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS

IN

LONDON



CHAPTER I

HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS

  "London: that great sea whose ebb and flow
   At once is deaf and loud, and on the shore
   Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on for more,
   Yet in its depths what treasures!"--_Shelley._

                       "Citizens of no mean city."


The history of London is--as was that of Rome in ancient times--the
history of the whole civilised world. For, the comparatively small
area of earth on which our city is built has, for the last thousand
years at least, been all-important in the story of nations. Its
chronicles are already so vast that no ordinary library could hope to
contain all of them. And what will the history of London be to the
student, say, of the year 3000 A.D., when our present day politics,
our feelings, our views, have been "rolled round," once more, in
"earth's diurnal force," and assume, at last, their fair and true
proportions?

In "this northern island, sundered once from all the human race," has
for centuries been lit one of the torches that have illumined
humanity. Not even Imperial Rome shone with such a lustre; not even
the Cæsars in all their purple ruled over such a mighty, such an
all-embracing empire.

The history of this mighty empire is bound up with the history of
London. For, the history of London is that of England; it was the
river, our "Father Thames"--her first and most important highway, a
"highway of the nations,"--that brought her from the beginning all her
fame and all her glory. Partly by geographical position, partly by
ever-increasing political freedom, and partly, no doubt, by the
efforts of a dominant race, that glory has, through the centuries,
been maintained and aggrandised.

And why, some may ask, is London what it is? Why was this spot
specially chosen as the capital? Surrounded by marshes in early Roman
times, periodically inundated by its tidal river, densely wooded
beyond its marshes, it can hardly have seemed, in the beginning, an
ideal site. Why was not Winchester--so important in Roman times, and,
later, the capital of Wessex--preferred? Why were not Southampton or
Bristol--apparently equally well placed for trade--favoured? We cannot
tell. The site may have been chosen by Roman London because it was the
most convenient point for passing, and guarding, the ferry or bridge
over the Thames, and for keeping up the direct communication between
the more northerly cities of Britain, and Rome. Or, the nearer
proximity to the large Continent, the better conditions for trade
offered by the wide estuary of the Thames, possibly account for
London's supremacy.

The early Roman city on this time-honoured site, the poetically named
"Augusta,"--that replaced the primitive British village--flourished
greatly in the early days of the Christian era, and was large and
populous; though the Romans did not consider it their capital, and
never--we know not why--created it a "municipium," like Eboracum
(York), or Verulamium. It was founded some time after the visit of
Julius Cæsar to Britain, B.C. 54, and it occupied a good deal of the
area of the present _City_, extending, however, towards the east as
far as the Tower, and bounded on the west by the present Newgate. The
old Roman fort stood above the Wallbrook. Here in old days ran a
stream of that name, long fouled, diverted, forgotten, and, like the
Fleet River, only now remembered by the name given to its ancient
haunt. The city of Augusta--or _Londinium_ as Tacitus calls it--has
left us hardly a trace of its undoubted splendour. In London, ever
living, relics of the past are hard to find. The lapse of centuries
has deeply covered the old Roman city level, and what Roman remains
exist are generally discovered, either in the muddy bed of the Thames,
or at a depth of some twelve to nineteen feet below the present
street. Of Roman London there is scarce a trace--a few meagre relics
in Museums, a few ancient roots of names still existing, an old bath,
traces of a crumbling wall, the fragment that we call "London Stone,"
the locality of Leadenhall Market (undoubtedly an old "Forum"), and a
portion of the old Roman Way of "Watling Street"--the ancient highway
from London to Dover--running parallel with noisy Cannon Street.

All this seems, perhaps, little when we think of the undoubted wealth
and power of the old "Londinium," or "Augusta." But it has always been
the city's fate to have its Past overgrown and stifled by the
enthralling energy and life of its Present. It is as a hive that has
never been emptied of its successive swarms. This is, more or less,
the fate of all towns that "live." The Roman town was, of course,
strongly walled, and the names of its gates have descended to us in
the present "Ludgate," "Moorgate," "Billingsgate," "Aldgate,"
&c.--names very familiar to us children of a later age--and now mainly
associated with the more prosaic stations on the Underground Railway!
Nevertheless, prosaic as they are, these stations commemorate the old
localities. Roman London was at no time large in circumference,
extending only from the Tower to Aldgate on one side, from the Thames
to London Wall on the other. And when the Romans left, and the Saxons,
after a brief interval, took their place, the city still did not grow
much larger, nor did the blue-eyed and fair-haired invaders contribute
much to the decaying fortifications; though it is said that King
Alfred--he whose "millenary" we have recently commemorated--restored
the walls and the city as a defence against the ravages of the Danes.
Saxon London, however, which in its time flourished exceedingly, and
existed for some 400 years, is, so far as we are concerned, more dead
even than Roman London. Successive fire and ravage have obliterated
all traces of it. Norman London, which after the Conquest replaced
Saxon London, did not, apparently, differ greatly in externals from
its predecessor. The churches were now mainly built of stone, but the
picturesque houses were, as we know, despite successive destroying
fires, still constructed of wood. From Norman London, we retain the
"White Tower,"--that picturesque "keep" of London's ancient
fortress--the crypt of Bow Church, and that of St. John's,
Clerkenwell, with part of the churches of St. Bartholomew the Great,
Smithfield, and St. Ethelburga, Bishopsgate. Little escaped the many
great fires that in early times devastated the city.

As for the ancient highways of London, very possibly these did not
differ greatly in their course from our modern ones; for the
Anglo-Saxon race has always been very conservative in rebuilding its
new streets, regardless of symmetry or directness, on the lines of the
destroyed ones. At any rate, we know that the original church of St.
Paul's--the first of three built on this site, founded by Ethelbert
about the year 610--and that of Westminster--altered, rebuilt, and
enlarged by successive kings--must have early sanctified these spots,
and necessitated thoroughfares between the two. Nay, even in Roman
times, temples of Diana and Apollo are believed to have adorned these
historic sites. It is strange, indeed, that the old, long-vanished
Roman wall, pierced only by a few gates, and the ancient street-plans
laid down by the Roman road surveyor, should still keep modern traffic
more or less to the old lines. A few new streets have recently been
made from north to south, but still the main traffic goes from east to
west, owing to the paucity of intersecting thoroughfares. The city of
London, as laid out in Roman times, remained, through Saxon and Norman
dominion, practically of the same extent and plan as late as the time
of Elizabeth, in whose reign there were as many houses within the city
walls as without them. Roman influence is still dominant in modern
London. The large block of ground without carriage-way about Austin
Friars is a consequence of the old Roman wall having afforded no
passage. And possibly many of the narrow, jostling City streets have
in their day reflected the shade and sun of Roman "insulas," each with
its surrounding shops, just as, later, their dimensions may have
shrunk between the overhanging, high-gabled houses of Tudor times, to
widen again under the tall Stuart palaces of the Restoration.

[Illustration: _Sandwich-board Men._]

The high antiquity and conservatism of London are shown in nothing
more than in these narrow, crooked streets--streets so different from
those of any other big metropolis--streets that our American cousins,
in all the superiority of their regular "block" system, permit
themselves to jeer at! We know, however, little for certain of the
actual topography of London streets, until the important publication
of Ralph Aggas's map in 1563, soon after Elizabeth had begun to reign.
This map of "Civitas Londinium" is strange enough to look at in our
own day. Its main arteries are the same as ours: the ancient highway
of the Strand is still the Strand; those of "Chepe" and "Fleete" still
flourish; Oxford Street, then the "Oxford Road" and "The Waye to
Uxbridge," ran between hedgerows and pastures, in which, according to
Aggas, grotesque beasts sported; the thoroughfare of the "Hay
Market,"--not yet, indeed, "a scene of revelry by night,"--curves
between vast meadows, in one of which a woman of gigantic size appears
to be engaged in spreading clothes to dry; Piccadilly, at what is now
the "Circus," is merely called "The Waye to Redinge," and is
innocently bordered by trees. In these infantine beginnings of the now
populous "West End," there are, indeed, occasional plots occupied by
"Mewes," but St. Martin's Church (then a small chapel) stands
literally "in the Fields," and St. Martin's Lane is altogether rural.
In a later map--one of the year 1610--the main arteries are still the
same; but, though the town had grown rapidly with the growth of
commerce in Elizabeth's reign, "London" and "Westminster" are still
represented as two small neighbouring towns surrounded by rural
meadows; while "Totten-court" is a distant country village, Kensington
and "Marybone" are secluded hamlets, Clerkenwell and "St. Gylles" are
altogether divided from the parent city by fields, and "Chelsey" is in
the wilds.

It is strange that London fires--and London, in the middle ages, was
specially prolific in fires--have never altered the course of the
city's highways. Sir Christopher Wren wished, indeed, after the Great
Fire of 1666, to be allowed to alter the plan of the desolated town
and make it more symmetrically regular: with all due admiration of his
genius, one cannot, however, help feeling a certain thankfulness that
destiny averted his schemes, and that in the prosaic London of our own
day we can still trace the splendour, the romance of its past. Thus,
even in the grimy city "courts" we can still imagine a Roman
"impluvium," or the ancient gardens of Plantagenet palaces; in the
blind alleys of "Little Britain," the splendours of the merchants'
mansions; in the ugly lines of mews and slums, the limits of the
vanished Norman convent closes. The boundaries are still there, though
nearly all else has gone. For, though Londoners are generally
conservative with regard to their chief sites and the lines of their
streets, they have, so far as their great buildings are concerned,
always been by nature iconoclastic. Not that we of the present day
need give ourselves any airs in this matter. Although, indeed, for the
last half-century the spirit of antiquarian veneration has been
abroad, yet the great majority of Londoners are hardly affected by it,
and the pulling down of ancient buildings continues almost as gaily as
ever at the present day. It may be said that we pull down for
utilitarian reasons; well, so did our forefathers; Londoners have
always been practical. Religious zeal may occasionally have served to
whet their destructive powers, but the results are pretty much the
same. Perhaps Henry VIII.--that Bluebeard head of the Church and
State--has, in his general dissolution of the monasteries and
alienation of their property, been the greatest iconoclast in English
annals; yet even he must have been nearly equalled by the Lord
Protector Cromwell, whose Puritanical train wrought so much havoc
among London's monuments of a later age. Reforms and improvements, all
through the world's history, have always been cruelly destructive.
For, while churches and palaces were destroyed as relics of Popery,
while works of art were demolished, and frescoes whitewashed in
reforming zeal, fresh life was always sprouting, fresh energy ever
filling up gaps, ever obliterating the traces of the past, the relics
of the older time. Sir Walter Besant, in his picturesque and vivid
sketch of English history, has realised well for us the city's past
life:--

     "It is (he says of the Reformation) at first hard to
     understand how there should have been, even among the baser
     sort, so little reverence for the past, so little regard for
     art; that these treasure-houses of precious marbles and rare
     carvings should have been rifled and destroyed without
     raising so much as a murmur; nay, that the very buildings
     themselves should have been pulled down without a
     protest.... It seems to us impossible that the tombs of so
     many worthies should have been destroyed without the
     indignation of all who knew the story of the past.... Yet
     ... it is unfortunately too true that there is not, at any
     time or with any people, reverence for things venerable,
     old, and historical, save with a few. The greater part are
     careless of the past, unable to see or feel anything but the
     present.... The parish churches were filled with ruins, ...
     the past was gone.... The people lived among the ruins but
     regarded them not, any more than the vigorous growth within
     the court of a roofless Norman castle regards the donjon and
     the walls. They did not inquire into the history of the
     ruins; they did not want to preserve them; they took away
     the stones and sold them for new buildings."

Yet, though in London's history there were, as we have seen,
occasional great upheavals, such as the Reformation, the Fires, the
Protectorate, it was more the rule of change that went on unceasingly
between whiles--change, such as we see it to-day, the incessant beat
of the waves on the shore--that has obliterated the former time. "The
old order changeth, giving place to new"; and strange indeed it is,
when one comes to think of it, that anything at all should be left to
show what has been. The monasteries, the priories, the churches, that
once occupied the greater portion of the city, and filled it with the
clanging of their bells, so that the city was never quiet--these, of
course, had mainly to go. The Church had to make way for Commerce; the
Monasteries for the Merchants. The London of the early Tudors was
still more or less that of Chaucer, and contained the same Friars,
Pardoners, and Priests. The paramount importance of the Church is
shown by the old nursery legends that circle round Bow bells; and the
picturesque figure of Whittington, the future Lord Mayor, listening,
in rags and dust, to the cheering church bells that tell him to "turn
again," is really the connecting link between the Old and the New Age.

A few of the great monastic foundations of London escaped Henry
VIII.'s acquisitive zeal, and have, as modern school-boys have reason
to know, been devoted to educational and other charitable aims. It
was, indeed, eminently suitable that in the classic precincts of the
ruined monastery of the "Grey Friars" should arise a great school--the
School of Christ's Hospital (colloquially termed the "Blue-Coat
School")--where, till but the other day, the "young barbarians" might
be seen at play behind their iron barriers, backed by the fine old
whitely-gleaming, buttressed hall that faces Newgate Street. It was
fitting, too, that the early dwelling of the English Carthusian
monks--the place where Prior Houghton, with all the staunchness of his
race, met death rather than cede to the tyrant one jot of his ancient
right--should become not only a great educational foundation, but also
a shelter for the aged and the poor. We know it as the "Charterhouse";
as a picturesque, rambling building of sobered red-brick, built around
many courtyards, its principal entrance under an archway that faces
the quiet Charterhouse Square. The place has a monastic atmosphere
still; to those, at least, who reverently tread its closes and
byways--byways hallowed yet more by inevitable association with the
sacred shade of Thomas Newcome; shadow of a shade, indeed! fiction
stronger, and more enduring, than reality!

Yet the Charterhouse is, so to speak, an "insula" by itself in London,
a world of its own; possessing an ancient sanctity undisturbed by the
neighbouring din of busy Smithfield, the unending bustle of the great
city. More essentially of London is the curious unexpectedness of
buildings, places, and associations. What is so strange to the
inexperienced wanderer among London byways is the manner in which bits
of ancient garden, fragments of old, forgotten churchyards, isolated
towers of destroyed churches, deserted closes, courts and slums of
wild dirt and no less wild picturesqueness, suddenly confront the
pedestrian, recalling incongruous ideas, and historical associations
puzzling in their very wealth of entangled detail. The "layers" left
by succeeding eras are thinly divided; and the study of London's
history is as difficult to the neophyte as that of the successive
"layers" of the Roman Forum.

[Illustration: _The Shoeblack._]

It is sometimes refreshing to note that, even in the City and in our
own utilitarian day, present beauty has not been altogether lost
sight of. There is in modern London, as a French writer lately
remarked, "no street without a church and a tree"; this is
especially true of the City, where, even in crowded Cheapside, the
big plane-tree of Wood Street still towers over its surrounding
houses, hardly more than a stone's throw from the shadow cast by the
white steeple of St. Mary-le-Bow, glimmering in ghostly grace above
the busy street. So busy indeed is the street, that hardly a
pedestrian stays to notice either church or tree; yet is there a
more beautiful highway than this in all London? It is satisfactory
to reflect--when one thinks of the accusation brought against us
that we are "a nation of shopkeepers"--on what this one big
plane-tree costs a year in mere lodging! Wandering northward from
Cheapside down any of the crowded City lanes with their romantic
names, through the mazes of drays and waggons--where porters shout
over heavy bales, and pulleys hang from upper "shoots"--you may
find, in a sudden turn, small oases of quiet green churchyard
gardens--for some unexplained reason spared from the prevailing
strenuosity of bricks and mortar--where wayfarers rest on
comfortable seats, provided by metropolitan forethought, from daily
toil. In these secluded haunts are many spots that will amply reward
the sketcher. Specially charming in point of colour are the gardens
of St. Giles, Cripplegate; these, though closed to the general
public, are overlooked and traversed by quiet alleys, affording most
welcome relief from the surrounding din of traffic. Here sunflowers
and variegated creepers show out bravely in autumn against the
blackened mass of the tall adjoining warehouses, whence a
picturesque bastion of the old "London Wall" projects into the
greenery, and the church of St. Giles, with its dignified square
tower, dominates the whole. The author of _The Hand of Ethelberta_
has, in that novel, paid graceful homage to the church and its
surroundings. The little bit of vivid colour in the sunny churchyard
(it is part rectory garden, and is divided by a public path since
1878), affords a standing rebuke to the unbelievers who say gaily
that "nothing will grow" in London. A delightful byway, indeed, is
this parish church of Cripplegate! Its near neighbourhood shows, by
the way, hardly a trace of the disastrous fire it so lately
experienced. From the corner of the picturesque "Aerated Bread
Shop"--of all places--that abuts on to the church, a delightful view
of all this may be had. This ancient lath-and-plaster building will,
no doubt, in time be compelled to give way to some abnormally
hideous new construction, but at the present day it is all that
could be wished; and, though so close to the hum of the great city,
so quiet withal, that the visitor may, for the nonce, almost imagine
himself in some sleepy country village. And thus it is in many
unvisited nooks in the busy City. "The world forgetting, by the
world forgot," is truer of these byways than of many more rural
places. For the eddies of a big river are always quieter than the
main stream of a small canal. In the world, yet not of it, are, too,
these strangely old-fashioned rectories, sandwiched in between
tall, overhanging city warehouses.

But the sprinkling of old churches, with their odd, abbreviated
churchyards, that are still to be found amid the busy life of the City
of London, hardly does more than faintly recall that picturesque and
poetic time when the church and the convent were pre-eminent. The
great temporal power of the Church in London, that held sway during
long centuries, is vanished, forgotten, supplanted as if it had never
been. Do the very names of Blackfriars and Whitefriars suggest, for
instance, to us, "the latest seed of time," anything more than the
shrieking of railway terminuses, or the incessant din of printing
machines? For, while the memory of the "Grey Friars" and that of the
Carthusians is still honoured and kept green in the dignified
"foundations" of Christ's Hospital and of the Charterhouse,--the
orders of the "White" and "Black" Friars, of the Carmelites, and the
stern Dominicans, have descended to baser and more worldly uses.
Destroyed at the Reformation, its riches alienated, its glory
departed, the splendid Abbey Church of the Dominicans came to be used
as a storehouse for the "properties" of pageants; "strange fate," says
Sir Walter Besant, "for the house of the Dominicans, those austere
'upholders of doctrine.'" For the dwelling of the "Carmelites," or
"White Friars," an Order of "Mendicants" these,--another destiny
waited--a destiny for long lying unfolded in the bosom of our
"wondrous mother-age." Mysterious irony of Fate! that where the
Carmelite monks, in their Norman apse, prayed and laboured; where the
Mendicant Friars wandered to and fro in the echoing cloister, the
thunder of the printing-press should have made its home:

  "There rolls the deep where grew the tree,
   O earth, what changes hast thou seen!
   There, where the long street roars, hath been
   The stillness----"

--The "_Daily Mail_ Young Man"--that smart product of a later
age--has now his home in Carmelite Street; the "Whitefriars' Club" is
a press club; the gigantic machines that print the world's news shake
the foundations of St. Bride's; and the shabby hangers-on of Fleet
Street--though of a truth, poor fellows, often near allied to
mendicants--are yet, it is to be feared, only involuntarily of an
ascetic turn. The contrast--or likeness--has served to awaken one of
Carlyle's most thunderous passages: "A Preaching Friar,"--(he
says),--"builds a pulpit, which he calls a newspaper:

     "Look well" (he continues),--"thou seest everywhere a new
     Clergy of the Mendicant Orders, some bare-footed, some
     almost bare-backed, fashion itself into shape, and teach and
     preach, zealously enough, for copper alms and the love of
     God."

Carlyle, apparently, nursed an old grudge against the press,--for this
is not the only occasion when he fulminates against the new order of
Mendicants. The theatres, also, that succeeded the monasteries of
Blackfriars were, here too, supplanted by the Press; under
Printing-House-Square only lately, an extension of the _Times_ Office
brought to light substantial remains.

But the Church was not the only mediæval beautifier of London; as her
temporal power and splendour waned,--the splendour of the merchants
grew and flourished. For the great supplanter of the power of the
Church was, as already hinted, the power of the City Companies. These
immense trades-unions began to rise in the fourteenth century, when
the old feudal system gave way to the civic community;--and they
increased greatly in strength after the dissolution of the
Monasteries. These companies incorporated each trade, and had supreme
powers over wages, hours of labour, output, &c. In the beginning they
were, like everything else, partly religious, each company or "guild"
having its patron saint and its special place of worship;--the
Merchant Taylors, for instance, being called the "Guild of St.
John";--the Grocers, the "Guild of St. Anthony"; while St. Martin
protected the saddlers, and so on. These guilds in time receiving
Royal charters, became very rich and powerful, till the year 1363
there were already thirty-two companies whose laws and regulations had
been approved by the king. If any transgressed these laws, they were
brought before the Mayor and Aldermen. We have still the Mayor and
Aldermen, but the city companies (whose principal function was the
apprenticing of youths to trades), have merely the shadow of their
former authority, and their business is now mainly charitable,
ceremonial, and culinary. Yet though their powers are diminished,
their splendid "halls" are still among the most interesting "sights"
of the City. Visits to these massive and solid palaces, some of them
of great splendour, and rising like pearls among their often (it must
be confessed) unsavoury surroundings, give a good idea of the immense
wealth of those mediæval merchant princes, and help the stranger to
realize the strength of that power that was able to resist the
attempts of kings to break its charter. Such sturdy independence, such
insistence on her civic rights, has always been a main element of
London's greatness.

[Illustration: _When the Strand is up._]

I have only touched at the mere abstract of London's voluminous
history,--only enumerated a poor few of her Highways and Byways; the
subject, in truth, is too great to exhaust even in a whole library
of books. It is, indeed, the principal drawback to the study of
London that she is too vast--that the student is ever in danger of
"not seeing the forest for the trees." Her byways are as the sands
of the sea in multitude; her history is the history of the world. It
is, perhaps, better that the stranger to the metropolis should take
in hand a small portion at a time,--and try to grasp that
thoroughly,--than lose himself in an intricate maze of buildings and
associations. To read the history of London aright,--to see and feel
in London stones all that can be seen and felt, requires not only
untiring energy, but also knowledge, sympathy, intuition,
patriotism, one and all combined. To know London really well, one
should gain an intimate acquaintance with her from day to day, not
being contented with the common and well-known ways, but ever
penetrating into fresh haunts. From all the great highways of
London, from the Strand, Fleet Street, Piccadilly, Holborn, Oxford
Street, convenient excursions may be made into the surrounding
neighbourhood; which often, in different parts of London, is, so far
as inhabitants, appearance, manners and customs go, really a
complete and distinct city by itself. Does not "Little Britain"
differ widely from its neighbouring Clerkenwell? Soho as widely from
its adjacent Bloomsbury? and the immaculate Mayfair from the more
doubtful Bayswater? Who does not recall what Disraeli--that born
aristocrat in his tastes--said of the people who frequent the
plebeian, though charming, Regent's Park?

     "The Duke of St. James's," (he says),--"took his way to the
     Regent's Park, a wild sequestered spot, whither he
     invariably repaired when he did not wish to be noticed; for
     the inhabitants of this pretty suburb are a distinct race,
     and although their eyes are not unobserving, from their
     inability to speak the language of London they are unable to
     communicate their observations."

So far from being merely one town, London is really a hundred townlets
amalgamated. The visitor can there find everything that he wants; he
must, however, know exactly what it is that he wants to find. Does he
desire to see pictures? many galleries of priceless works of art are
within a stone's throw, free, ready, waiting only to be seen; does he
prefer realism and life? the "street markets" of Leather Lane and of
Goodge Street are instinct with all possible types of humanity; does
he yearn for peaceful solitude, historic association? the quiet nooks
of the Temple invite him; is it solitary study that his soul craves?
the immense library of the British Museum offers him all its
treasures; does he merely wish to perambulate vaguely? even the
prosaic Oxford Street presents a very kaleidoscope of human life.
Nevertheless, in his perambulations, the wanderer should receive a
word of warning: let him beware of asking for local information (save
indeed, it be of a policeman), for two reasons. Firstly, because no
born Londoner of the great middle class ever knows, except by the
merest accident, anything whatever about his near neighbourhood; and,
secondly, because if he do get an answer, he is morally certain to be
misdirected. The wanderer should always start on his expeditions with
a distinct plan in his own mind of the special itinerary he wishes to
adopt,--be that itinerary Mr. Hare's, or any other man's,--and he
should never allow himself to be drawn off from it to another tangent.
Even this crowded highway of Oxford Street, "stony-hearted
stepmother," old gallows-road, passing from Newgate Street to Tyburn
Tree, and bearing so many different names in its course,--beginning,
as "Holborn," in City stress and turmoil, intersecting the very centre
of fashion at the Marble Arch, and continuing as the "Uxbridge Road,"
to High Street, Notting Hill,--passes through all sorts and conditions
of men and things. Tottenham Court Road, that glaring, fatiguing
thoroughfare, which through all its phases ever "remains sordid,
sunlight serving to reveal no fresh beauties in it, nor gaslight to
glorify it," begins in comparative honour in New Oxford Street, to
descend through bustle and racket to the noisy taverns and purlieus of
the Euston Road. That sylvan village and manor of "Toten Court," where
city folk repaired in old days for "cakes and creame," seems far
enough away now! Fenchurch Street,--or rather its continuation Aldgate
Street,--as it merges into the long "Whitechapel Road," becomes more
and more dreary; not even its soft-gliding, cushioned tram-cars
lending enchantment to the depressing scene. Waterloo Road and
Blackfriars Road, "over the water," as they trend southwards pass
through strange and often unsavoury purlieus. Every district has its
special idiosyncrasies. Piccadilly and St. James's are always
aristocratic. Pall Mall has a severe and solid dignity; while the
Strand and its continuation, the narrow and tortuous Fleet Street, are
instinct with ancient honour and literary association. Yet, even here,
if the visitor have not the "seeing eye" that discerns the past
through the present, he may "walk from Dan to Beersheba and find all
barren."

The great charm, however, of London lies in its unsuspected courts
and byways. From most of these big thoroughfares you may be
transported, with hardly more than a step, into picturesque nooks
of sudden and almost startling silence, or, rather, cessation from
din. All who know and love London will recall this. From busy
Holborn to the aloofness of quiet Staple Inn, with its still,
collegiate air, what a change from the turmoil of Fleet Street to
the closes of little Clifford Inn, with its old-world, forgotten
air. From High Street, Kensington, too, that town with all the air
of a smart suburb, how many charming excursions may not be made on
Campden Hill and in Holland Park--a neighbourhood full of artistic
and literary charm. In Westminster, what quiet, secluded nooks, and
green closes, abound for the sketcher, and how lovely are the
gardens of the Green Park and St. James's Park, bordered by the
stately palaces of St. James's, and the picturesque houses of Queen
Anne's Gate. And all along the river embankment, from Westminster to
the Tower, are interesting streets and nooks full of historic and
literary association. The embankment, running, at first, parallel
with the noisy Strand; reaching classic ground in the quiet Temple,
by that garden where the "red and white rose" first started their
bloody rivalry, becomes then muddy and uncared for before the
newspaper land of Whitefriars; beyond, again, are blackened wharves,
which gradually degenerate into the terrible and utterly
indescribable fishiness of Billingsgate, and unpoetic Thames Street!
Then, the "Surrey side" of the river,--Southwark and Chaucer's Inns,
or what yet remains of them,--would form several delightful
excursions; to say nothing of the Tower, with its innumerable
historic associations,--and, perhaps, a visit to Greenwich in summer
time. The old churches of the City would, as I have hinted, take
many days to explore thoroughly; the Holborn and Strand Inns of
Court and of Chancery, especially the Temple and Staple Inn, should
be known and studied well; nothing can exceed the charm of these
quiet and secluded "haunts of ancient peace."

Space, however, is limited; I have now said enough to give some idea,
even to the uninitiated, of London's many highways and byways, with
their suggestions and associations. Yet one word of caution I would
add: London must be approached with reverence; her cult is a growth of
years, rather than a sudden acquisition. And the love of London
stones, once acquired, never leaves the devotee. Whether he walk
blissfully through Fleet Street with Johnson and Goldsmith, linger by
the Temple fountain with Charles Lamb or Dickens, or traverse the
glades of Kensington Gardens with Addison and Steele, "where'er he
tread is haunted, holy ground." Here, on Tower Hill, once stood spikes
supporting ghastly heads of so-called "traitors"; there, at
Smithfield, were burned numberless martyrs. Even the London mud has
its poetic associations. We may all tread the same road as that once
trodden by Rossetti and Keats; strange road:

  "Miring his outward steps who inly trode
   The bright Castalian brink and Latmos' steep."

Yes, the love of London grows on the constant Londoner. He will not be
long happy away from the comforting hum of the busy streets, from the
mighty pulse of the machine. In absence his heart will ever fondly
turn to "streaming London's central roar," to the spot where, more
than anywhere else, he may be at once the inheritor of all the ages.

How interesting would it be if one could only--by the aid of some Mr.
Wells's "Time Machine"--take a series of flying leaps backward into
the abysm of time! Strange to imagine the experience! Beauty, one
reflects, might be gained at nearly every step, at the expense, alas!
of sanitary conditions, knowledge, and utility. Let us, for a moment,
imagine how the thing would be.... First, in a few rapid revolutions
of the wheel, would disappear the hideous criss-cross of electric
wires overhead, the ugly tangle of suburban tram-lines, and the
greater part of the hideous modern growth of suburbs.... Another whirl
of the machine, and every sign of a railway station would disappear,
every repulsive engine shed and siding vanish ... while the dull
present-day rumble of the metropolis would give place to a more
indescribably acute and agonising medley of sound.... Again a little
while, and the hideous early Victorian buildings would disappear,
making way for white Stuart façades, or sober red-brick Dutch
palaces.... With yet a few more revolutions, the metropolis will
shrink into inconceivably small dimensions, and the atmosphere of the
city, losing its peculiar blue-grey mist, will gradually brighten and
clear--a radiance, unknown to us children of a later day--diffusing
itself over the glistening towers and domes, no longer blackened, but
gleaming, Venetian-like, in the Tudor sunlight.... The aspect of the
river too has changed; no more ugly steamers, but an array of princely
barges deck its waters, gay with the bright dresses of ladies and
gallants.... Its solid embankments have crumbled to picturesque
overgrown mud banks, its many bridges shrunk to one; the little
separate towns of "London" and "Westminster" presenting now more the
appearance of rambling villages, adorned by some palaces and
churches.... Another turn of the machine, and lo! the imposing façades
that adorned the Strand have in their turn given way to picturesque
rows and streets of overhanging gabled houses with blackened
cross-beams, their quaint projecting windows almost meeting over the
narrow streets ... stony streets with their crowds of noisy, jostling,
foot-passengers.... Again a long pause ... and now the scene changes
to Roman London, the ancient "Augusta," with its powerful walls, its
slave ships and pinnaces, its mailed warriors, ever in arms against
the blue-eyed Saxon marauders. Then--a final interval--and we see the
primitive British village, its mud huts erected by the kindly shores
of our "Father Thames," their smoke peacefully rising heavenwards
above the surrounding marshes and forests.



[Illustration: _Waterloo Bridge._]

CHAPTER II

THE RIVER

     "Above the river in which the miserable perish and on which
     the fortunate grow rich, runs the other tide whose flood
     leads onto fortune, whose sources are in the sea empire, and
     which debouches in the lands of the little island; above the
     river of the painters and poets, winding through the downs
     and meadows of the rarest of cultivated landscape out to the
     reaches where the melancholy sea breeds its fogs and damp
     east winds, is that of the merchant and politician, having
     its springs in the uttermost parts of the earth, and pouring
     out its golden tribute on the lands whence the other steals
     its drift and ooze."--_W. J. Stillman._

          "Above all rivers, thy river hath renowne....
           O! towne of townes, patrone and not compare,
           London, thou art the Flour of Cities all."--_Dunbar._


No one, be he very Londoner indeed, has ever seen the great city
aright, or in the true spirit, if he have not made the journey by
river at least as far as from Chelsea to the Tower Bridge. From even
such a commonplace standpoint as the essentially prosaic Charing Cross
Railway Bridge some idea can be gained of the misty glory of this
highway of the Nations. It is indeed, often one of these condemned
approaches to London that give the traveller the best idea of the vast
and multitudinous city. London railway approaches are often abused,
even anathematized, yet surely nowhere is the curious picturesqueness
of railways so proved as by the impressive approach to Charing Cross
Station, across the mighty river. Here, at nightfall, all combines to
aid the general effect; the mysterious darkness, the twinkling lights
of the Embankment, reflected in the dancing waters, and cleansed by
the white moonlight. What approach such as this can Paris offer? But,
if the traveller be wise, he will soon seek to supplement such
initiatory views by pilgrimages on his own account, pilgrimages
undertaken in all reverence, up and down the stream. For, whatever Mr.
Gladstone may have said of the omnibus as a mode of seeing London, may
be reiterated more forcibly as regards the deck of a penny steamer. It
is the fashion to call London ugly; Cobbett nicknamed it "the great
wen"; Grant Allen has called it "a squalid village"; and Mme. de Staël
"a province in brick." Yet, how full of dignity and beauty is the city
through which this wide, turbid river rolls!--"the slow Thames," says
a French writer, "always grey as a remembered reflection of wintry
skies." Here, by day, hangs that veiling blue mist, which is the
combined product of London fog and soot, adding all the indescribable
charm of mystery to the scene; and, as twilight draws on, the grand
old buildings loom up, vaguely dark, against the sky, their added
blackness of soot giving a suggestion as of solidity and antiquity;
that poetic time of twilight, "when," as Mr. Whistler puts it.

     "The evening mist clothes the riverside with poetry, as with
     a veil, and the poor buildings lose themselves in the dim
     sky, and the tall chimneys become campanili, and the
     warehouses are palaces in the night, and the whole city
     hangs in the heavens, and fairyland is before us."

At night, the scene changes: the vast Embankment shines with lamps all
a-glitter, and behind them the myriad and deceitful "lights of London"
twinkle like a magician's enchanted palace.

And it is altogether in the fitness of things that the river should be
both introduction and entrance gate, so to speak, of modern London.
For it is the river, it is our "Father Thames," indeed, that has made
London what it is. In our childhood we used to learn in dull geography
books, as inseparable addition to the name of any city, that it was
"situated" on such-and-such a river; facts that we then saw little
interest in committing to memory, but, nevertheless vastly important;
how important, we see from this city of London. For London is, and
was, primarily a seaport. In Sir Walter Besant's interesting pages may
be read the story of the early settlers--Briton, Roman, Saxon,
Norman--who successively founded their infant settlements on this
marshy site, and had here their primitive wharves, quays, and trading
ships for hides, cattle, and merchandise. It is the river, more than
anything else, that recalls the past history of London. For London,
ever increasing, ever rebuilt, has buried most of her eventful past in
an oblivion far deeper than that of Herculaneum. Nothing destroys
antiquity like energy; nothing blots out the old like the new. London,
ever rising, like the phoenix, from her own ashes, has by the intense
vitality of her "to-days" always obliterated her "yesterdays." It is
only in dead or sleeping towns that the ashes of the past can be
preserved in their integrity, and London has ever been intensely
alive. Yet, gazing on the silvery flow of the river, we can imagine
the Roman embankment, the hanging gardens, that once stretched from
St. Paul's to the Tower; the Roman city, with its forums and
basilicas, that once crowned prosaic Ludgate Hill--Roman pinnace,
Briton coracle, Saxon ship, Tudor vessel--we can see them all in their
turn--crowned by the spectacle of Queen Elizabeth in her gaily-hung
state barge, with her royal procession; or, in more mournful key, her
body, on its death-canopy--a barge "black as a funeral scarf from
stern to stem," on that sad occasion when

  "The Queen did come by water to Whitehall.
   The oars at every stroke did teares let fall."

If in the crowded day of London--with the shouting of bargees, the
whistle of steam-tugs, and the puffing of the smoke-belching trains
overhead, indulgence in such dreams is well-nigh impossible,--in the
mysterious night, when the slow misty moon of London climbs, it is
easy, even from an alcove of Waterloo Bridge, to indulge the fancies
of

  "That inward eye
   Which is the bliss of solitude."

The so-called "penny steamers" of London, which run, during the summer
months, at very cheap rates between London Bridge and Chelsea, form
the best way of seeing and appreciating the vast city. For those who
do not mind rather close contact with "the masses"--braying
accordions, jostling fish-porters, sticky little boys, and other
inseparable adjuncts of a crowd whose "coats are corduroy and hands
are shrimpy"--this mode of becoming acquainted with London will be
found very satisfactory. The ways of the said steamers are often, it
is true, somewhat erratic; yet if, on a warm June day, the stranger go
down to the river in faith, his expectancy will generally be rewarded.
Up comes the puffing, creaky little tug, making the tiny landing stage
vibrate with the sudden shock of contact; there is an immediate rush
to embark, and, on a fine day, you are, at first, happy if you get
standing-room. Cruikshank's pictures, Dickens's sketches--how
suggestive of these is the motley crowd of faces that line the
boat,--faces on which the eternal "struggle for life" has printed
lines, as it may be, of carking care, of blatant self-satisfaction, of
crime and degradation. To quote William Blake, the poet-painter,--a
Londoner, too, of the Londoners:

  "I wander through each chartered street
   Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
   A mark in every face I meet,
   Marks of weakness, marks of woe."

The fine, broad Chelsea reach of the river, looking up towards Fulham
from the Albert chain-bridge, is wonderfully picturesque. Here,
especially on autumn nights, may be seen in all their splendour the
brilliant sunsets that Turner loved to paint, and that, propped up on
his pillow, he turned his dying eyes to see. The ancient and
unassuming little riverside house where Turner spent his last days is
still standing; but its tenure is uncertain, and it may soon vanish.
It stands (as No. 119)--towards the western end of Cheyne Walk--the
walk that begins in the east so magnificently, and decreases, as
regards its mansions, in size and splendour as it approaches the old
historic red-brick church of Chelsea. Yet, small as Turner's riverside
abode is, it is more celebrated than any of its neighbours, for it was
here that the greatest landscape painter of our time lived. Here,
along the shores of the river, flooded at eve "with waves of dusky
gold," the shabby old man with such wonderful gifts used to wander in
search of the skies and effects he loved; here he was hailed by cheeky
street arabs, as "Puggy Booth" (the legend of the neighbourhood being
that he was a certain retired and broken-down old "Admiral Booth").
Here he sat on the railed-in house-roof to see the sun rise over the
river, and here, when too weak to move, his landlady used to wheel his
chair towards the window that he might see the skies he so loved. "The
Sun is God," were almost his last words. Thus, he who as a boy of
Maiden Lane had spent his early years on the river near London
Bridge--by the Pool of London, with its wharves and shipping--died,
faithful to his early loves, in a small Chelsea riverside cottage. The
row of irregular riverside houses, of which Turner's cottage is one,
becomes more palatial lower down, across Oakley Street. In summer,
what more lovely than the view from these houses, over the shining
Chelsea reach, towards the feathery greenness of distant Battersea
Park? a view which, even beyond the park limits, not even the
too-conspicuous sky-signs or factory chimneys on the further shore can
altogether abolish or destroy. So many things in London, ugly in
themselves, are lent "a glory by their being far"; and even Messrs.
Doulton's factory chimneys, seen through the blue-grey river mist,
have, like St. Pancras Station, often the air of some gigantic
fortress. This same blue-grey mist of London, especially near the
river, is rarely ever entirely absent. Chemists may tell you that it
is merely carbon, a product of the soot, but what does that matter? In
its own place and way it is beautiful. The heresy has before now been
ventured, that London would not be half so picturesque if it were
cleaner; and from the river this fact is driven home more than ever to
the lover of the beautiful. Blackened wharves, that through the dimmed
light take on all the air of "magic casements,"--great bridges,
invisible till close at hand, that loom down suddenly on the passing
steamer with the roar of many feet, a rattle of many wheels, a rumble
of many trains; vast Charing-Cross vaguely seen overhead--immense,
grandiose, darkening all the stream; the Venetian-white tower of St.
Magnus, gleaming all at once before blackened St. Paul's; and, most
popular of all London views, the tall Clock Tower of the Houses of
Parliament, with its long terraced wall, reflecting its shining lines
in the broad waters. As ivy and creepers adorn a building, so does the
respectable grime of ages clothe London stones as with a garment of
beauty.

The "respectable grime of ages" can hardly however be said yet to
cover the newest Picture Gallery of London, glimmering ghostlike by
the waterside, Sir Henry Tate's magnificent and splendidly housed
gift, which rises whitely, like some Greek Temple of Victory, amid the
dirty, dingy wharves, and generally slummy surroundings of the
debatable ground that divides the river-frontages of Pimlico and
Westminster. The changes of Time are curious. Here, where once stood
Millbank Penitentiary, now rises a stately Palace adorned by pillars,
porticoes and statues; wherein are enshrined some of the nation's most
precious treasures, all the master-pieces of the modern school of
English Art. Sir Henry Tate, a "merchant prince" of whom the country
may well be proud, was a large sugar refiner, and we owe this imposing
building, with a large part of its contents, to those uninspiring
wooden boxes, so familiar to us for so many years back, labelled
"Tate's Cube Sugar."

The interior of the Tate Gallery (its proper denomination is, I
believe, "the National Gallery of British Art,") is very delightfully
planned. A pretty fountain fills the central hall of the gallery under
the dome; an adornment as refreshing as it is unexpected. For London,
the home of riches, is strangely niggardly with her fountains. Yet
Rome, the city of fountains, had to bring all her water for many
miles, and over endless aqueducts! The immediate riverside
surroundings of the Tate Gallery are, as described, hardly grandiose;
yet the timber-wharves and stone-cutters' sheds that here share the
muddy banks with the ubiquitous tribe of London "Mudlarks," are not
without their picturesque "bits." Old boats sometimes reach here their
final uses; and even portions of old derelicts, like the "Téméraire,"
often find their way here at last. Witness advertisements like the
following:

     FIRES.--Logs of old oak and ship timber, from Old Navy ships
     broken up, in suitable sizes, for sitting-room use, so
     famous for beautifully coloured flames, can only be obtained
     from the ship breaking yard of ---- Baltic Wharf, Millbank,
     S.W.

It is, however, only the wharves and the mudlarks that are visible
from the river itself; for the quaint gates of these timber-yards,
opening on to the Grosvenor Road, and surmounted by their "signs" in
the shape of ghostly white figure-heads--the figure-heads of real
ships--are only visible to those who make their way along this
mysterious region by land. These colossal creatures, indeed,
projecting often far into the road, pull up the pedestrian with such
alarming and human suddenness that it would surely require, in the
uninitiated, a strong mind and a good conscience to travel this way
alone on a dark night.

The keynote of London is ever its close juxtaposition of splendour and
misery, "velvet and rags." Therefore, after skirting the shore of
Millbank, it strikes the Londoner as quite natural, and in the usual
order of things, that he should suddenly and without any preface find
his vessel gliding, in an abrupt hush, underneath the terrace-wall of
the most well-known and most be-photographed edifice in London; under
the high vertical wall, with its softly lapping waters, that guards
the terrace of the Houses of Parliament. Classic retreat, where none
but the specially bidden may enter! The great towers, with the vast
building they surmount, darken, for a moment, all the stream by the
intense shadow they cast, to mirror themselves anew in charming
proportion as we descend the stream and they recede.

Exactly opposite the Houses of Parliament are those curious
seven-times-repeated red-brick projections of St. Thomas's Hospital,
which are so prominent an object from the Terrace, that a fair
American visitor, while taking her tea there, is said to have once
innocently inquired: "Are those the mansions of your aristocracy?" Mr.
Hare unkindly suggests that their chief ornament, a "row of hideous
urns upon the parapet, seems waiting for the ashes of the patients
inside."

A little higher, on the Surrey side, is the historic Lambeth Palace,
for nearly seven hundred years the residence of the Archbishops of
Canterbury:

  "Lambeth, envy of each band and gown,"

says Pope truly. But the gifts of Fortune are, alas! seldom
ungrudging; and, sad thought! by the time the poor Archbishops have
reached the zenith of fame and comfort in their Lambeth paradise,
their multifarious duties must effectually prevent their ever having
time thoroughly to enjoy their "garden of peace." It is a lovely home,
and commands perfect views. Quite Venetian-like, when night's canopy
has fallen, do the lights of Westminster Palace appear from the
Lambeth shore; the lighted Tower, which proclaims to all the world the
fact that Parliament is sitting, reflected like a solitary full moon
in the dark transparency of the waters. Lambeth Palace is, indeed, a
charming spot, both for its views up and down the river and for its
associations. In all its squareness of darkened red brick, it is very
picturesque; the gateway with its Tudor arch, the chapel, and the
so-called "Lollards' Tower," are, besides being historically
interesting, fine subjects for an artist. At the gateway an ancient
custom is observed:

     "At this gate the _dole_ immemorially given to the poor by
     the Archbishops of Canterbury is constantly distributed. It
     consists of fifteen quartern loaves, nine stone of beef, and
     five shillings' worth of half-pence, divided into three
     equal portions, and distributed every Sunday, Tuesday, and
     Thursday, among thirty poor parishioners of Lambeth; the
     beef being made into broth and served in pitchers."

In the Lollards' Tower are some curious relics of the barbarous
tortures of the Middle Ages; and in the guard-room, or dining hall of
the Palace, is a series of portraits of all the Archbishops from
Cranmer to Benson. The modern and residential portion of the Palace,
in the Tudor style, is contained in the inner court; it was rebuilt by
Archbishop Howley in 1820. Howley was the last Archbishop who lived
here in state and kept open house; "the grand hospitalities of Lambeth
have perished," as Douglas Jerrold said, "but its charities live." The
ancient portions of the palace have known many vicissitudes of
fortune; Cranmer adorned his house, and loved to beautify his garden;
Wat Tyler and his rebels plundered the palace and beheaded Sudbury,
its then archbishop: and Laud, who had a hobby for stained glass,
filled the chapel windows with beautiful specimens, which were all
subsequently smashed by the Puritans. The palace, after having been
used successively as a prison, a place of revel, and a garrison
stronghold, now enjoys all the serenity of old age and quiet fortunes;
its solid red brick, which time darkens so prettily, looking ever
across the waters in calm dignity towards the taller stones of
Westminster,--the spiritual contrasted with the temporal.

The tower of the ancient church of St. Mary, Lambeth, close by the
Palace, is memorable as the shelter of Queen Mary of Modena, James
II.'s unfortunate wife, on the dramatic occasion of her flight from
Whitehall with her infant son (the "Old" Pretender), on a wild
December night of 1688:

     "The party stole down the back stairs (of Whitehall), and
     embarked in an open skiff. It was a miserable voyage. The
     night was bleak; the rain fell; the wind roared; the water
     was rough; at length the boat reached Lambeth; and the
     fugitives landed near an inn, where a coach and horses were
     in waiting. Some time elapsed before the horses could be
     harnessed. Mary, afraid that her face might be known, would
     not enter the house. She remained with her child, cowering
     for shelter from the storm under the tower of Lambeth
     Church, and distracted by terror whenever the ostler
     approached her with his lantern. Two of her women attended
     her, one who gave suck to the Prince, and one whose office
     was to rock the cradle; but they could be of little use to
     their mistress; for both were foreigners who could hardly
     speak the English language, and who shuddered at the rigour
     of the English climate. The only consolatory circumstance
     was that the little boy was well, and uttered not a single
     cry. At length the coach was ready. The fugitives reached
     Gravesend safely, and embarked in the yacht which waited for
     them."--_Macaulay._

St. Mary's is the mother church of the manor and parish, and its tower
dates from 1377:

     "In this church is a curious 'Pedlar's Window,' with a
     romantic story attached to it. When the church was founded,
     it is said that a pedlar left an acre of land to the parish,
     on condition that a picture of himself, his pack and his
     dog, should be preserved in the church. This was accordingly
     done; the pedlar was commemorated in the glass of the
     window, and the value of the acre, at first 2_s._ 8_d._,
     increased till in our day it is worth £1000 a year. In 1884,
     some local iconoclasts actually removed the pedlar from the
     window, to put up modern glass to the relatives of certain
     officials. Popular indignation, however, has since
     reinstated the injured pedlar, with his pack and dog, in
     their place."

But Lambeth, however charming and historic, is still "the Surrey
Side", and the glories of the Albert Embankment pale before those of
the Victoria Embankment, one of the greatest London improvements of
the century. Of course it has its critics,--of the order who cavil at
the poor Romans for embanking their devastating yellow Tiber. But it
is the fashion for us to abuse our London monuments, and to deride
them as the work of a "nation of shopkeepers." The Londoner rarely
approves of anything new or even modern. Of the Chelsea Embankment,
all that Mr. Hare says is that "it has robbed us of the water stairs
to the Botanic Garden, given by Sir Hans Sloane." Does not even Mr.
Ruskin fall foul of the innumerable straight lines of the Palace of
Westminster, and of its stately Clock Tower, as testifying to the sad
want of imagination shown by the modern English architect? (But Mr.
Ruskin must surely that day have been in search for a windmill to tilt
against, for the abused "straight lines" do not prevent this being one
of the loveliest of London views.) And does not M. Taine pour the
vials of his wrath on to the great river Palace of Somerset House,
with its "blackened porticoes filled with soot"? "Poor Greek
architecture," he adds compassionately, "what is it doing in such a
climate?" Evidently the idea of the artistic value of soot, to which I
have already alluded, had not occurred to him.

The noble Victoria Embankment now runs where of old, in Elizabethan
times, ran a glittering, almost Venetian, river-frontage of palaces.
And where the old palaces stood in Tudor days, stand now enormous
hotels--the palaces of our own day--each newer hotel in its turn
eclipsing the other in size, magnificence, expense. The picturesque
"Savoy," with its river balconies, the stately "Cecil," with its
wonderful banqueting halls, and, further from the river, the spacious
"Métropole," the "Grand," the "Victoria." All these hotels are so
recent as to impress one fact upon us--the fact that London has really
only lately become a tourist haunt. Statistics, indeed, show now that
London attracts more visitors than any other great European town.
Twenty-five years ago, it was as hard to find a good, clean, and
thoroughly satisfactory London hotel, as it was to get a cup of tea
for less than sixpence; or, indeed, a good one at all! But times have
changed. Big hotels now, like flats, threaten to be overdone. We can
well imagine the disappointment of the foreign visitor to London on
discovering the names and uses of the fine buildings that adorn the
river front between Westminster and Blackfriars. "What," he or she may
ask, "is that imposing structure with Nuremberg-like green roofs,
towering over the trees of the Embankment Gardens?" "That, Sir or
Madam," answers politely the lady guide (for it is of course a
charming and very certificated lady guide who "personally conducts"
the party), "is Whitehall Court, a building let out in high class
flats." "And what," continues the crushed tourist, "is that turreted,
buttressed, red-brick edifice? Probably some rich nobleman's whim?"
"Those, Madam, are the new buildings of Scotland Yard, recently
designed by Mr. Norman Shaw, one of the most famous of our modern
architects." "And what are those Venetian-like balconies, all hung
with greenery and flowers?" "They belong, Madam, to the Savoy and
Cecil Hotels. At the Savoy you may get a very nice dinner for a
guinea; they have a wonderful chef; and in the enormous dining-hall of
the Cecil, most of the great public banquets are given." "Truly, a
nation of shopkeepers," the foreign visitor will re-echo sadly, as she
dismisses her "lady guide."

[Illustration: _Sightseers._]

There is, I maintain, no finer walk in the world than that along the
Victoria Embankment, from Blackfriars to Westminster. You may walk it
every day of the year, and every day see some new, strange and
beautiful effect of light, of water, of cloud. In midsummer, when the
long row of plane trees offer a welcome shade and relief of greenery,
and it is pleasant to watch the slow barges pass and repass; in
autumn, when red and saffron sunsets flood all the west with light; in
midwinter, when, sometimes, great blocks of ice line the turbid
stream. One winter, not long past, when the Thames was all but frozen
over, it was a curious and interesting sight to watch the crowd of
sea-gulls, driven inshore by the intense cold, making their temporary
home on the ice, and fed all day with raw meat and bread by thousands
of sympathizing Londoners. Some of the birds had almost become tame
when their compulsory visit came to an end.

The river, in old pre-embankment days, flowed at the foot of the
curious ancient stone archway called "York Stairs," that stranded
water-gate of old York House, which stands, lonely and neglected, in a
corner of the Embankment Gardens. It has, however, survived, and that,
in London, is always something. Its long buried, and now excavated,
columns show the ancient level of the river, and the height to which
the present Embankment has been raised. The Palace of York House, to
which it was the river-gate, has gone the way of all palaces; its
ruins (as all ruins must ever be in London), are thickly built over.
Indeed, Somerset House is almost the only palace left to tell of the
ancient river-side glories, glories of which Herrick wrote:

  "I send, I send, here my supremest kiss
   To thee, my silver-footed Tamasis,
   No more shall I re-iterate thy strand
   Whereon so many goodly structures stand."

Even Somerset House is merely an old palace rebuilt, for the present
edifice is not much more than a century old. Buildings in London tend
to become utilitarian; and Royalty, besides, has deserted the City for
the West End. So the ancient Palace of the Lord Protector Somerset,
that Palace that he destroyed so much to build, spent such vast sums
on, and yet never lived in, but had his head cut off instead; the
Palace that used to be the residence of the wives of the Stuart Kings,
as described by Pepys, is now superseded by the vast Inland Revenue
Office, with its myriad suites, corridors, chambers. Truly, a change
typical of our busy and practical era!

Somerset House occupies the site of the older palace, a site almost
equal in area to Russell Square. But the older palace, as befitted the
"Dower House" of the Queens of England had gardens that extended along
the river-shore. It was in Old Somerset House that Charles II.'s poor
neglected Queen, Catherine of Braganza, used to sit all night playing
at "ombre," a game which she had herself imported from Portugal; and
it was here, in 1685, that three of her household were charged with
decoying Sir Edmondsbury Godfrey into the precincts of the palace, and
there strangling him. The wide courtyard of the interior has a bronze
allegorical group by _Bacon_, of George III. mixed up with "Father
Thames." Queen Charlotte, apparently rather resenting the ugliness of
the representation, said to the sculptor, "Why did you make so
frightful a figure?" The artist was ready with his reply. "Art," he
said, bowing, "cannot always effect what is ever within the reach of
Nature--the union of beauty and majesty." I myself must confess to
some sympathy with Queen Charlotte; but the art of her day had ever a
tendency to efflorescent excrescence.

On the river's very brink, a little higher up than Somerset House and
its adjacent hotels, Cleopatra's Needle, that "great rose-marble
monolith," stands guarded by two bronze sphinxes on a pediment of
steps, backed by the Embankment and the trees of its gardens. The
monolith is here in strange and novel surroundings. What ruins of
empires and dynasties has not this ancient Egyptian obelisk seen! We
poor human beings soon live out our little day, and are gone:

  "The Eternal Saki from the Bowl hath poured
   Millions of bubbles like us, and will pour----"

while this senseless block of stone lives for ever, regardless of the
tides of humanity that ebb and flow ceaselessly about its feet. Has it
not been a "silent witness" of the pageants of the magnificent
Pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty? Its hieroglyphics record its
erection by Thotmes III., before the Temple of the Sun in _On_
(Heliopolis), where it remained for the first 1600 years of its
existence, and (says Mr. Hare) witnessed the slavery and imprisonment
of the patriarch Joseph. The obelisk has had a strange and eventful
history. Removed to Alexandria shortly before the Christian era, it
was never erected there, but lay for years prone in the sand. Then, in
1820, Mahomet Ali presented it to the British nation; with, however,
no immediate result. For, the difficulties of removal being great, no
advantage was taken of the offer, till, in 1877, Mr. (afterwards Sir)
Erasmus Wilson gave the necessary funds, amounting to £10,000. A
special cylinder boat was made for the obelisk, but even with its
removal its adventures were not ended, for, in the Bay of Biscay, the
vessel encountered a terrific storm, and the crew of the ship that
towed it, in peril of their lives, cut it adrift. For days it was
lost, till a passing steamer happened to sight the strange-looking
object and picked it up, earning salvage on it.

The granite is said to be slowly disintegrating and the hieroglyphics
therefore becoming less deeply scored, by the action of the London
smoke and mist--the mist glorified poetically by Mr. Andrew Lang in
his "Ballade of Cleopatra's Needle";

  "Ye giant shades of Ra and Tum,
   Ye ghosts of gods Egyptian,
   If murmurs of our planet come
   To exiles in the precincts wan
   Where, fetish or Olympian,
   To help or harm no more ye list,
   Look down, if look ye may, and scan
   This monument in London mist!

  "Behold, the hieroglyphs are dumb,
   That once were read of him that ran
   When seistron, cymbal, trump, and drum,
   Wild music of the Bull began;
   When through the chanting priestly clan
   Walk'd Ramses, and the high sun kiss'd
   This stone, with blessing scored and ban--
   This monument in London mist.

  "The stone endures though gods be numb;
   Though human effort, plot, and plan
   Be sifted, drifted, like the sum
   Of sands in wastes Arabian.
   What king may deem him more than man,
   What priest says Faith can Time resist
   While _this_ endures to mark their span--
   This monument in London mist?"--

It has been objected that Cleopatra's needle ought to have been placed
somewhere else; for instance, in the centre of the Tilt Yard, opposite
the Horse Guards. But it is, as I said, typical of Londoners to find
fault with their monuments; and it is difficult to agree with the
writer who described it as in its present position "adorning nothing,
emphasising nothing, and by nothing emphasised." M. Gabriel Mourey,
for instance, who, though a Frenchman, is also a lover of London,
brings it very charmingly into his "impression" of the scene from
Charing-Cross Bridge:

     "I go every morning to Charing-Cross Bridge, to gaze on the
     'magical effects' produced by fog and mist on the Thames.
     The buildings on the shores have vanished; there, where
     recently seethed an enormous conglomeration of roofs,
     chimneys, the perpetual encroachment of interminable
     façades, all that insentient life of stones,--heaped to
     lodge human toil, suffering, happiness,--seems to be now
     only a desert of far-reaching waters. The river has
     immeasurably widened, has extended its shores to the
     infinite. Such immensity is terrible ... the atmosphere is
     heavy; there is a conscious weight around, above, a weight
     that presses down, penetrates into ears and mouth, seems
     even to hang about the hair. We might, indeed, be existing
     in a kind of nothingness, except for the perpetual passage
     of trains--trains that shake the floor of the bridge, and
     jar our whole being with metallic vibrations.... The wooden
     sheds of the landing-stage, backed by the stone steps and
     parapet,--with, further on, the thin spire of Cleopatra's
     Needle, an unimagined network of lines,--appear suddenly out
     of nothingness; it might be a fairy city rising all at once;
     here are revealed the gigantic buildings of the Savoy Hotel,
     and yonder, farther on, those of Somerset House, as the fog
     gradually lifts; the whole effect is suggestive of a
     negative under the chemical action of the developer. There
     is, however, no distinctness; the negative is a fogged one;
     outlines are only distinguished with difficulty; and
     everything, in this strange and sad monochrome, seems to
     acquire a vast and altogether fantastic size. The sky,
     however, moves; thick, ragged clouds unravel themselves, in
     colour a dirty yellow fringed with white; they might well be
     great folds of torn curtains entangled in each other,
     curtains of dingy wadding, thickly lined, and edged with
     faint gold. But the light is too feeble to reflect itself,
     and the water below continues to flow dully, as though
     weighed down with the burden of that heavy sky; the
     pleasure-steamers, indeed, seem to cleave it with painful
     toil, to force a pathway, soon again closed; a pathway of
     which scarcely a trace remains, only a slow, sluggish
     undulation, soon lost in the general distracting cohesion of
     all and everything."

It may be interesting here to recall Lord Tennyson's sonnet, and the
story told of it by his son:

     "When Cleopatra's Needle was brought to London, Stanley
     asked my father to make some lines upon it; to be engraven
     on the base. These were put together by my father at once,
     and I made a note of them:

                  _Cleopatra's Needle._

          "Here, I that stood in On beside the flow
           Of sacred Nile, three thousand years ago!--
           A Pharaoh, kingliest of his kingly race,
           First shaped, and carved, and set me in my place.
           A Cæsar of a punier dynasty
           Thence haled me toward the Mediterranean sea,
           Whence your own citizens, for their own renown,
           Thro' strange seas drew me to your monster town.
           I have seen the four great empires disappear!
           I was when London was not! I am here!"

[Illustration: _The "Top" Season._]

Waterloo Bridge, crossing the Thames at Somerset House, was built by
Rennie in 1817. Canova considered it "the noblest bridge in the world,
and worth a visit from the remotest corners of the earth." It was at
first intended to call it the "Strand" Bridge; but it was eventually
named "Waterloo," in honour of the victory just won. Yet Waterloo
Bridge is not without its dismal associations. So many people, for
instance, have committed suicide from it, that it has been called the
"English Bridge of Sighs." It suggests Hood's ballad of the
"Unfortunate":

  "The bleak wind of March
   Made her tremble and shiver:
   But not the dark arch
   Or the black flowing river."

Waterloo Bridge has indeed been the last resource of many an unhappy
human moth--attracted by "the cruel lights of London"--to whom

  "When life hangs heavy, death remains the door
   To endless rest beside the Stygian shore."

Dante Rossetti, who painted his terrible picture of the lost girl
found by her old lover on a London bridge at dawning, has well
realised the ineffable sadness of the wrecks made by this whirlpool of
London.

The Victoria Embankment, and indirectly also this splendid Waterloo
Bridge, have given cause for one of the most eloquent diatribes of our
greatest æsthetic critic. Mr. Ruskin, though he cannot but admire the
vast curve of Waterloo Bridge, where the Embankment road passes under
it, "as vast, it alone, as the Rialto at Venice, and scarcely less
seemly in proportions," yet finds, in the wretched attempts at
decoration on the Embankment, and in the sad want of "human
imagination" of the English architect, windmills apt and ready to his
lance. Unlike the Rialto, the "Waterloo arch," he remarks plaintively,
"is nothing more than a gloomy and hollow heap of wedged blocks of
blind granite":

     "We have lately been busy," he says, "embanking, in the
     capital of the country, the river which, of all its waters,
     the imagination of our ancestors had made most sacred, and
     the bounty of nature most useful. Of all architectural
     features of the metropolis, that embankment will be, in
     future, the most conspicuous; and in its position and
     purpose it was the most capable of noble adornment. For that
     adornment, nevertheless, the utmost which our modern
     poetical imagination has been able to invent, is a row of
     gas-lamps. It has, indeed, farther suggested itself to our
     minds as appropriate to gas-lamps set beside a river, that
     the gas should come out of fishes' tails; but we have not
     ingenuity enough to cast so much as a smelt or a sprat for
     ourselves; so we borrow the shape of a Neapolitan marble,
     which has been the refuse of the plate and candlestick shops
     in every capital in Europe for the last fifty years. We cast
     _that_ badly, and give lustre to the ill-cast fish with
     lacquer in imitation of bronze. On the base of their
     pedestals, toward the road, we put, for advertisement's
     sake, the initials of the casting firm; and, for farther
     originality and Christianity's sake, the caduceus of
     Mercury: and to adorn the front of the pedestals towards the
     river, being now wholly at our wits' end, we can think of
     nothing better than to borrow the door-knocker which--again
     for the last fifty years--has disturbed and decorated two or
     three millions of London street doors; and magnifying the
     marvellous device of it, a lion's head with a ring in its
     mouth (still borrowed from the Greek), we complete the
     embankment with a row of heads and rings, on a scale which
     enables them to produce, at the distance at which only they
     can be seen, the exact effect of a row of sentry-boxes."

Much, however, may be forgiven to Mr. Ruskin. On the other hand, the
view from Waterloo Bridge is thus described by the late Mr. Samuel
Butler:

     "When ... I think of Waterloo Bridge and the huge
     wide-opened jaws of those two Behemoths, the Cannon Street
     and Charing Cross railway stations, I am not sure that the
     prospect here is not even finer than in Fleet Street. See
     how they belch forth puffing trains as the breath of their
     nostrils, gorging and disgorging incessantly those human
     atoms whose movement is the life of the city. How like it
     all is to some great bodily mechanism.... And then ... the
     ineffable St. Paul's. I was once on Waterloo Bridge after a
     heavy thunderstorm in summer. A thick darkness was upon the
     river and the buildings upon the north side, but just below,
     I could see the water hurrying onward as in an abyss, dark,
     gloomy and mysterious. On a level with the eye there was an
     absolute blank, but above, the sky was clear, and out of the
     gloom the dome and towers of St. Paul's rose up sharply,
     looking higher than they actually were, and as though they
     rested upon space."

Mr. Astor's charming estate office, one of the prettiest buildings in
London, facing the Embankment, close to the Temple Gardens, is yet
another instance of that latter-day change from palace to office,
already mentioned. At Blackfriars, the Victoria Embankment ends, and
tall, many-storied warehouses crowd down to the water's edge, in
picturesque though dingy medley, with, behind them, the blackened dome
of St. Paul's, attended by its sentinel spires,--St. Paul's, that has
nearly all the way stood out prominently in the distance, making this,
by universal consent, the finest view in all London. The noble effect
of Wren's great work is indeed, apparent from all points; but it is
the river and the wharves that, no doubt, form its best and most
fitting foreground. As we near London Bridge, the dirt of the vast
highway gains upon us; but, it must be confessed, its general
picturesqueness is thereby immeasurably increased. Dirt, after all, is
always so near akin to picturesqueness. The mud-banks and the mud
become more constant, the bustle and hum of the great city are
everywhere evident. Barges are moored under the tall warehouses;
workmen stand in the storing-places above, hauling up the goods from
the boats with ropes and pulleys; it is a scene of ceaseless activity,
an activity too, which increases as you descend the stream. On the one
side, the slums and warehouses of Upper Thames Street; on the other,
the yet slummier purlieus of busy, often-burned-down Tooley Street.
Thames Street, like its adjoining Billingsgate, is, I may remark,
nearly always muddy, whatever the time of year. On rainy days, it is
like a Slough of Despond. If by chance you wish to land at All Hallows
or London Bridge Piers, you must first climb endless wooden and
slippery steps, then wend your way carefully, past threatening cranes,
and along narrow alleys between high houses, alleys blocked by heavy
waggons, from which tremendous packages ascend, by rope, to top
stories; alleys where there is barely room for a solitary pedestrian
to wedge himself past the obstruction. Barrels of the delicious
oyster, the obnoxious "cockle," the humble "winkle"; loud scents that
suggest the immediate neighbourhood of the ubiquitous "kipper"; these,
mingled with the shouts of fish-wives and porters, greet you near that
Temple of the Fisheries, Billingsgate. The enormous Monument, which
stands close by, may be said to be in the dirtiest, dingiest portion
of this dingy region. "Fish Street Hill" the locality is called; and
it certainly is no misnomer.

London Bridge must have been wonderfully picturesque in old days; it
seems to have looked then very much as the Florentine "Ponte Vecchio"
does now, with, outside, its quaint overhanging timbered houses,
balconies, roof-gardens, and, inside, its narrow street of shops. The
sixth picture in the "Marriage à la Mode" series at the National
Gallery gives us an idea of what it was like. The present bridge,
opened in 1831, at a cost of two millions, is the last of many on or
near this site. For there has been a bridge here of some kind ever
since we know anything of London; no other bridge, indeed, existed at
all in old days. By old London Bridge Wat Tyler entered with his
rebels; by it Jack Cade invaded the city (though his head, for that
matter, soon adorned its gate-house), and here London was wont, with
pageant and ceremonial, to welcome her kings. The picturesque old
stone bridge was demolished in 1832; its narrow arches hindered
traffic, and gave undue help, besides, to that total freezing of the
river that occasionally happened, as the ancient "Frost Fairs" record,
in old days; yet one cannot help regretting the necessity for its
removal. The present London Bridge, though said to be "unrivalled in
the world in the perfection of proportion and the true greatness of
simplicity," is, perhaps, more practical than æsthetically beautiful.
The tide ebbs strongly against its massive piers; the last roadway
across the river, it is also the boundary line for big ships and
sailing boats; below here the river assumes more and more the look of
a sea-port; it becomes "the Pool of London." From this bridge are to
be seen some of the finest London views. The lace-like structure of
the unique Tower Bridge, the most extraordinary monument of the
century, rising, between its huge watch-towers, like a white wraith
behind the more prosaic stone of London Bridge, is here very telling.
And, looking towards the City, the brilliant tower of St. Magnus
gleams with quite Venetian-like brightness against the blackened
medley of its background.

The Tower Bridge, on a first sight, is infinitely more astonishing to
the sightseer than any other London monument. It has also a mediæval
look, as of some gigantic fortress of the sixteenth century. With
regard to the two great towers, flanked on either side by their
graceful suspension chains, "spanned high overhead as with a lintel,
and holding apart the great twin bascules, like a portcullis raised to
give entry to a castle, there is no denying that all this must loom as
an impressive watergate upon ships coming from overseas to the Port of
London." M. Gabriel Mourey thus describes it:

     "The Tower Bridge, the water-gate of the Capital, is a
     colossal symbol of the British genius. Like that genius, the
     Bridge struck me as built on lines of severe simplicity,
     harmonious, superbly balanced, without exaggeration or
     emphasis; sober architecture, yet with reasonable
     audacities, signifying its end with that clearness which is
     the hall-mark of everything English. It wonderfully
     completes the seething landscape of quays and docks, and the
     infernal activity of the greatest port in the world. No
     waters in the world better reflect without deforming than
     the muddy waters of the Thames; never blue even under the
     blue skies of summer. Throw this bridge across the Seine or
     the Loire, and it would spoil the view, like a false note of
     colour. But here, on the contrary, its effect is
     prodigiously imposing. Look at its two towers, how square
     and solid they are. Their tips are crowned by steeples, the
     roofs are pointed, the windows straight, with pointed
     arches. It looks like the gate to some strong tower of the
     middle ages. The combinations of lines composing the bridge
     call up the idea of some heroic past time. They lift
     themselves above the river like some massive efflorescence
     of the past. But look again, and the impression becomes more
     complex. Light and airy, like clear lace, an iron
     foot-bridge joins the two towers, across the abyss. Another,
     lower down, on the level of the banks, lifts up to let big
     ships pass as under a triumphal arch. And all the audacity
     of the modern architects, which is to create the works of
     the future, here bursts forth, suspended on the heavy
     foundations of the past; with so much measure and proportion
     that nothing offends in the medly of archaism and modernity.
     There are few countries able to carry off such contrasts.
     But this country adjusts itself to them in perfection. It is
     because no other people know how to unite with the same
     harmonious force the cult of the past, the religion of
     tradition, to an unchecked love of progress, and a lively
     and insatiable passion for the future."

The Tower Bridge, as compared with other great engineering works of
the kind, labours under the disadvantage of not being seen properly
from anywhere as a whole, taking in, that is, both abutment towers
with their pendant suspension chains, which add so much to the general
effect. Nevertheless, even viewed from close by, it is very telling,
and dwarfs immeasurably any other building near it; see, for instance,
how the little Tower of London, that ancient and most historic
fortress, loses its size from its close juxtaposition to those
supporting towers! The "bascules," or drawbridges, are worked by
hydraulic power, and it is a curious and interesting sight to see them
raised to allow tall vessels to pass. Below the Tower Bridge, the
broad river seems to extend in a sea of masts, the city to become a
world of wharves and docks. To quote, once more, an "impression" of M.
Gabriel Mourey:

     "Once past the London Tower Bridge, and its two enormous
     towers, which rise like a triumphal arch with an air of calm
     victory at the entrance to the great metropolis, the seaport
     aspect of London becomes very apparent. The immense traffic
     on the river is evident from the constant passage of
     steamers, no less than by their frequent calls at the
     wharves whose blackened walls, deep in water, receive the
     riches of the entire world. A whole people toil at the
     unloading of the enormous ships; swarming on the barges,
     dark figures, dimly outlined, moving rhythmically, fill in
     and give life to the picture. In the far distance, behind
     the interminable lines of sheds and warehouses, masts bound
     the horizon, masts like a bare forest in winter, finely
     branched, exaggerated, aerial trees grown in all the
     climates of the globe. Steam-tugs whistle, pant, and hurry;
     ships with great red sails descend the river towards the
     sea. An enormous steamer advances majestically; she seems as
     tall as a five-storied house and her masts are lost in the
     mist. The river suddenly widens, the thick smoke of the
     atmosphere almost prevents one from seeing the other side;
     it might almost be an immense lake. Rain, steam, and
     speed;--Turner's chef d'oeuvre evoked before my eyes. The
     ever-changing sky is a continual wonder. A while ago the
     sun, like a disc of melting cream, disappeared in yellowish
     mists, scattering reflections like dirty snow. Now, through
     a clearing, he appears like the altar-glory of a Jesuit
     church; raining waves of golden light; the surrounding
     cloud-flocks are in a moment tinged with brilliance. And
     again, he is suddenly eclipsed; all returns to dulness and
     gloom: it might be the sad dawn of a rainy day."

It is, above all, this vast and eternally busy "Pool of London" that
is, and ever has been, the key to her greatness, her wealth, her
power. Even the distant church bells of London, clanging fitfully
through the "swish" of the wavelets and the eternal muffled roar of
the City, recall to the true Londoner the commercial spirit of his
ancestors. Does not the children's rhyme (there is ever deep reason in
childish rhymes) run thus?

  "Oranges and Lemons,
   Say the bells of St. Clement's;
   You owe me ten shillings,
   Say the bells of St. Helen's;
   When will you pay me?
   Say the bells of Old Bailey;
   When I grow rich,
   Say the bells of Shoreditch."

The bells, be it observed, are nothing if not business-like, and seem
to be more nearly concerned with our temporal than with our spiritual
welfare. But here everything tells of work, of traffic, of the endless
and indomitable "struggle-for-life" that is so characteristic of the
British race. Father Thames, here, may well speak in Kingsley's words:

  "Darker and darker the further I go;
   Baser and baser the richer I grow."

These dingy docks, these blackened wharves, represent, in reality, the
world's great treasure-house. For to this vast port of London comes
all "the wealth of Ormus and of Ind," all the riches of "a thousand
islands rocked in an idle main," all the luxuriant produce of
new-world farms, of Colonial ranches, of tropical gardens. Here, if
anywhere, may be realised his vision who saw

  "The heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
   Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales."

Jewels such as a Queen of Sheba might have dreamed of, or a Sindbad
fabled, from "far Cathay"; ivory and gold from the mysterious East;
spices, bark, and coral from many a land of reef and palm; these, with
every commercial product of the globe, are daily poured into the
ravenous and never-satisfied maw of London. This vast giant,
enormous, helpless, is, like the queen termite, all-devouring, and yet
would starve of actual food in few days if deprived of her
ever-arriving cargoes. For Colonial produce, as every one knows, is,
despite the costs of freight, far cheaper than that of our own
country. The "Feeding of London," indeed, should prove a very
interesting subject to those attracted by statistics.

     "There are within the limits of the metropolis at least five
     million human beings, each of whom has every day to be
     provided with food. The difference between the plenty of one
     class and the pittance of another is, no doubt, very marked;
     but taking the rich and the poor together, the quantity of
     food required is almost incredible. The necessity for large
     imports suggests horrid possibilities for some future siege
     of London! But as the trade and port of London have made its
     wealth, so they have also helped it to its present enormous
     dimensions; for though the country, by the railways, brings
     her share of London's sustenance, yet by far the larger
     proportion of it comes through the docks. Thus, frozen and
     living meat comes from the far colony of New Zealand, and
     also from the United States, Canada, the River Plate, and
     Australia; potatoes from Malta, Portugal, and Holland; tea
     from China and India; early vegetables from Madeira and the
     Canary Islands; spices from Ceylon; wines from France,
     Portugal, and Spain; oranges from all parts of the tropical
     globe, far cheaper often than our own home-grown fruits. The
     import of oranges, indeed, alone reaches a total of 800 or
     900 millions yearly; that of raisins and currants some
     12,000 tons; while other things are in proportion. The
     unloading of the ships is done by casual helpers, called
     "dockers" or "dock-labourers," a rough class of workmen
     living in and around Wapping, Rotherhithe, and Stepney.
     Their employment, though now paid at a fair rate for
     "unskilled" labour, is necessarily heavy while it lasts, and
     uncertain, causing often a hand-to-mouth existence, and
     leading to frequent "strikes."--(Darlington's _London and
     its Environs_.)

The dock warehouses should be visited, if only to gain some idea of
the enormous wealth of London.

     "These docks," says M. Taine, "are prodigious, overpowering;
     each of them is a vast port, and accommodates a multitude of
     three-masted vessels. There are ships everywhere, ships upon
     ships in rows ... for the most part they are leviathans,
     magnificent ... some of them hail from all parts of the
     world; this is the great trysting-place of the globe."

The shore population, about here, consists mostly of sailors and
fishermen; "the Sailors' Town," the region east of the Tower is
specially called. The river scenes here are as picturesque in their
way as any in the world, a fact of which not only Turner's pictures,
but also Mr. Vicat Cole's "Pool of London," now in the Tate Gallery,
may well remind us. Why, indeed, should our artists all flock to
Venice to paint? Have we not also here golden sunsets, sails of
Venetian red, tall masts, dappled skies, all the picturesque litter
and crowded life that Turner so loved, suffused in an atmosphere of
misty glory?--a glory translated by all the glamour of history and
sentiment into

  "The light that never was on land or sea,
   The consecration and the poet's dream."

To the eyes of the boy Turner, the embryo artist, the child of the
City, all was beautiful and worthy to be painted--"black barges,
patched sails, and every possible condition of fog." To him, even in
mature life, "Thames' shore, with its stranded barges, and glidings of
red sail, was dearer than Lucerne lake or Venetian lagoon." Its
humanity appealed to him: he, as great a London lover as Dickens,
merely expressed this feeling differently. Thus, Ruskin says of
Turner's boyhood:

     "That mysterious forest below London Bridge,--better for the
     boy than wood of pine or grove of myrtle. How he must have
     tormented the watermen, beseeching them to let him crouch
     anywhere in the bows, quiet as a log, so only that he might
     get floated down there among the ships, and round and round
     the ships, and with the ships, and by the ships, and under
     the ships, staring and clambering;--these the only quite
     beautiful things he can see in all the world, except the
     sky; but these, when the sun is on their sails, filling or
     falling, endlessly disordered by sway of tide and stress of
     anchorage, beautiful unspeakably; which ships also are
     inhabited by glorious creatures--red-faced sailors, with
     pipes, appearing over the gunwales, true knights, over their
     castle parapets,--the most angelic beings in the whole
     compass of London world."

The Thames and its wonderful glamour, its mingled beauty and
squalor--beauty, in the misty distance--squalor, in the more prosaic
near view--suggests memories of Dickens, as it does of Turner.
Memories of that "great master of tears and laughter" are, indeed,
awakened by every bend of the stream. The romance of the mighty river
was all-powerful with him, as with Turner; for he, too, had known it
in his early youth. To him, also, even Thames mud afforded mysterious
interest. Did not the blacking factory, celebrated in the pathetic
pages of _David Copperfield_, where the miserable hours of his own
early youth were spent, stand at the waterside, in Blackfriars? "My
favourite lounging place," says David, "in the intervals, was old
London Bridge (this was before its demolition in 1832), where I was
wont to sit in one of the stone recesses, watching the people going
by, or to look over the balustrades at the sun shining in the water,
and lighting up the golden flame on the top of the monument." The real
David--poor little boy--may, indeed, have occasionally played at being
a London mudlark himself, in off-hours; but this he does not tell us!

     "Murdstone and Grinby's warehouse was at the water side. It
     was down in Blackfriars. Modern improvements have altered
     the place; but it was the last house at the bottom of a
     narrow street, curving down hill to the river, with some
     stairs at the end, where people took boat. It was a crazy
     old house with a wharf of its own, abutting on the water
     when the tide was in, and on the mud when the tide was out,
     and literally overrun with rats."

The waterside scenes in _The Old Curiosity Shop_, including the wharf
where Mr. Quilp, the vicious dwarf, broke up his ships, and where Mr.
Sampson Brass so nearly broke his shins, were rivalled in vividness,
thirty years afterwards, by the river chapters in _Our Mutual Friend_.
In this later story, special stress is laid on the river suicides, and
the consequent "dragging" for corpses, done by the watermen for
salvage. Dreadful task! but not uncommon "down by Ratcliffe, and by
Rotherhithe, where accumulated scum of humanity seemed to be washed
from higher ground, like so much moral sewage, and to be pausing until
its own weight forced it over the bank and sunk it in the river."
Near Rotherhithe--a dingy pier usually infested by mudlarks--is
"Jacob's Island," made notorious by the scene in _Oliver Twist_. "It
is surrounded," says Dickens, "by a muddy ditch, six or eight feet
deep, and fifteen or twenty wide when the tide is in ... known in
these days as Folly Ditch." By means of this ditch, the murderer Sikes
tries to escape from the infuriated crowd who clamour for his life,
but he fails in the attempt and perishes miserably.

Such is the splendour, such the misery, of the richest, largest, most
powerful city in the world! And over all the seething tides of the
river and of humanity--the luxury and wretchedness--the "laughing,
weeping, hurrying ever" of the crowd, still the grey dome of St.
Paul's dominates the scene, still its "cross of gold shines over city
and river," calm and changeless above all tides and passions. Browning
has suggested the poetry of the view from the dome:

  "Over the ball of it,
   Peering and prying,
   How I see all of it,
   Life there outlying!
   Roughness and smoothness,
   Shine and defilement,
   Grace and uncouthness,
   One reconcilement."

Beyond the Tower Bridge, and beyond the docks and the East End, the
glitter of Greenwich comes in, striking yet another note in the
ever-changing key. This palace of Greenwich, set like a jewel among
its green hills and parks, was the favourite royal abode of the Tudor
Sovereigns. Here Elizabeth was born, and lived in state, and here her
brother Edward, the boy-king, died in the flower of his youth. The
shining Observatory crowns the hill of Greenwich Park--a welcome oasis
of green after the "midnight mirk" of the East End through which we
have passed; and the fair frontage of the Palace recalls to us the
historic mood in which we began our wanderings. Beautiful now with a
new beauty, a twentieth century beauty--how lovely, in a different
way, it must have been in those distant ages, when the splendid gilt
barges of the nobles, with their gaily-painted awnings, were moored at
their palatial water gates; when fair ladies sang to guitars as their
craft glided smoothly "under tower and balcony, by garden-wall and
gallery"; when each citizen had his private wherry, when loaded
"tilt-boats," filled with merry passengers, plied up and down between
Greenwich and Westminster. As is the Oxford, the Godstow Thames of
to-day, the London Thames was then; "the stream of pleasure," no less
than of wealth. Gazing, through the gathering twilight, over towards
the misty shadow of vast St. Paul's, seen behind the gleaming tower of
St. Magnus, or towards the shimmering expanse of water under the
wharves of "London Pool," you can still be oblivious to the present
changes; but presently you are rudely awakened by the very unpleasant
grating of the steamer against its flimsy wooden quay; and the dulcet
strains of "the Last Ro-wse of Summer," played to a somewhat wheezy
accordion, reach your ears in very un-Tudor and un-toward fashion.
Roman London, Saxon London, Elizabethan London, all fade, like Lamb's
"dream-children," into the far-away past;--giving place to Victorian
London,--as, jostled by a motley and not too immaculate crowd, you
scramble sadly across the rickety gangway to the very common-place and
unpalatial shore below London Bridge.



[Illustration: _An Underground Station._]

CHAPTER III

RAMBLES IN THE CITY

     "I have seen the West End, the parks, the fine squares; but
     I love the City far better. The City seems so much more in
     earnest; its business, its rush, its roar, are such serious
     things, sights, sounds. The City is getting its living, the
     West End but enjoying its pleasure. At the West End you may
     be amused; but in the City you are deeply excited."--_C.
     Brontë_: "_Villette._"

          "And who cries out on crowd and mart?
             Who prates of stream and sea?
           The summer in the City's heart
             That is enough for me."
                      --_Amy Levy_: "_A London Plane Tree._"


The City is, by common consent, the most interesting and vital part of
the metropolis,--interesting, not only for its past,--but for its
present; ever-living,--eternally renewed;--a never-ceasing, impetuous,
Niagara of energy and power. It is the pulse,--or rather the
aorta,--of the tremendous machine of London; through its crowded veins
rushes the life-blood of commerce, of industry, of wealth, that feeds
and stimulates not only the town, but also the country and the nation.
Through its ancient and narrow highways, crowds of black-coated human
ants hurry, day by day, eager in pursuit of money, of power, and of
their daily bread.

And yet, curiously enough, it is close by these very crowded
thoroughfares of human life and energy, that the most secluded haunts
of peace may be found; calm "backwaters," all deserted and forgotten
by the flowing stream that runs so near them; tiny spots of
unsuspected greenery and ancient stone, absolutely startling in their
quiet proximity to the surrounding din and whirl. Though the area of
the "City," so-called, is but small, yet it abounds in such peaceful,
undreamed-of spots; places where the painter may set up his easel, or
even the photographer his camera, without fear of let or hindrance.
Secluded bits of ancient churchyard, portions of long-forgotten
convent garden, of old wall or bastion, or of antique plane-tree
grove; it is such nooks as these that, even more than in Kensington
Gardens, suggest Matthew Arnold's lovely lines:

  "Calm soul of all things! make it mine
   To feel, above the city's jar,
   That there abides a peace of thine
   Man did not make and cannot mar."

To see and know the City with any proper appreciation of its interests
and beauties, would require many days of wandering and leisured
perambulation. In no part of London do things and views come upon the
pedestrian with more startling suddenness. Emerging from some narrow
and smoky alley, where the house-roofs, perhaps, nearly meet overhead,
he may find himself, by some sharp turn of the ways, almost directly
under the enormous blackened dome of St. Paul's,--looking, in such
close proximity,--and especially if there happen to be any fog
about,--of positively incredible size. Or he may find peaceful
red-brick rectories, that suggest country villages, adjoining, in all
charity, noisy mills and warehouses; or railways and canals, which
give forth smoke and steam with amiable impartiality, and intersect
streets where fragments of old houses yet linger in picturesque decay;
or, again, noisy tram-lines, cutting through mediæval squares, that,
once upon a time, were peaceful and residential. Yet, after all, it
ill becomes us to murmur at the tram-lines and the railways; we ought
rather to be thankful that anything at all of the old time is left us.
For, in the City, where things are, and ever must be, chiefly
utilitarian, the survival of ancient relics is all the more to be
wondered at.

But the time of careless and rash destruction is past. The antiquarian
spirit is now fairly in our midst, and mediæval remains are preserved,
sometimes even at no slight inconvenience. And when the progress of
the world, and of railways, requires certain sites, even then the
buildings on these, or their most interesting portions, are, so far as
possible, spared and protected from further injury. Thus, when the
site of "Sir Paul Pindar's" beautiful old mansion in Bishopsgate
Street was required for the enlargements of the Great Eastern Railway
Company, its elaborately-carved wooden front was transported bodily to
the South Kensington Museum, which it now adorns; and the church tower
of the ancient "All Hallows Staining," surviving its demolished nave
and choir, still stands, a curiously isolated relic, in the green
square of the Clothworkers' Hall; that company being bound over to
keep it in order and repair. Similarly, the pains and the great
expense incurred in the careful restoration of that old Holborn
landmark, Staple Inn, a score or so of years back, are well known. And
"Crosby Hall," anciently Crosby Place, that famous Elizabethan mansion
commemorated in Shakespeare's _Richard III._, is now, after much
danger and many vicissitudes, utilised for the purposes of a
restaurant, which, at least ensures the keeping of it in proper and
timely repair. Fifty, even thirty, years ago, ancient monuments were
more lightly valued, sometimes even rescued with difficulty from the
hands of the destroyer; now, however, the veneration for old landmarks
is more widespread. Repairs to old buildings are, to a certain extent,
always necessary; for in London, more than anywhere, long neglect
means inevitable decay and destruction. And if in certain districts
Philistines may yet have their way, if the taste of the builder and
restorer is not always faultless, things have at any rate much
improved since early Victorian days.

Of the many delightful excursions to be made in and about the City,
perhaps that to the ancient priory church of St. Bartholomew the
Great, Smithfield, and the neighbouring precincts of the Charterhouse,
ranks first. The church is a Norman relic unique in London, a bit of
mediævalism, left curiously stranded amid the desolation and
destruction of all its compeers. Though St. Bartholomew the Great is
easily reached from Newgate Street, being indeed but just beyond the
famous hospital of the same name, it is yet difficult to find. Its
diminutive and somewhat inadequate red-brick tower is but just visible
above the row of houses that divide it from Smithfield, and the modest
entrance to its precincts, underneath a mere shop-archway, may easily
be missed. The church is, in fact, almost hidden by neighbouring
houses. While its main entrance faces Smithfield, the dark,
mysterious, densely-inhabited district called "Little Britain" crowds
in closely upon it on two sides, and the picturesque alley named
"Cloth Fair" abuts against it on another. It is, therefore, difficult
to get much of a view of it anywhere from outside; you may, indeed,
get close to it, and yet lose your way to it. The ancient priory
church has only recently been disentangled from the surrounding
factories and buildings, that in the lapse of careless centuries had
been suffered to invade it.

[Illustration: _Clothfair._]

The entrance door from West Smithfield, though insignificant in size,
is yet deserving of notice; for it is a pointed Early English arch
with dog-tooth ornamentation. Hence, a narrow passage leads through a
most quaint churchyard; an old-time burial-ground, a bit of rank and
untended greenery, interspersed with decaying and falling gravestones,
and hemmed in by the backs of the tottering Cloth Fair houses; ancient
lath-and-plaster tenements, crumbling and dirty, their lower timbers
bulging, yet most picturesque in their decay. They all appear to be
let out in rooms to poor workers; above, patched and ragged articles
of clothing are hanging out to dry, while on the ground floor you may
see a shoemaker hammering away at his last, or a carpenter at his
lathe, his light much intercepted by a big adjacent gravestone, on
which a black cat, emblem of witchery, is sitting. The gravestones
seem not at all to affect the cheerfulness of the population; perhaps,
indeed, as in the case of Mr. Oram, the coffinmaker, these wax the
more cheerful because of their gloomy surroundings. The whole scene,
nevertheless, is most strangely weird, and reminds one of nothing so
much as of that ghoulish churchyard described by Dickens as in
"Tom-All-Alone's;" with this exception, that Dickens only saw the sad
humanity of such places, and not their undoubted picturesqueness.

Beyond this strange disused burial-ground the church is entered. The
history of its foundation is a romantic one. The priory church, with
its monastery and hospital, was the direct outcome of a religious vow.
In the twelfth century, when the little Norman London of the day was
the town of monasteries and church bells likened by Sir Walter Besant
to the "Île Sonnante" of Rabelais; in or about 1120, one of King Henry
I.'s courtiers, Rahere or Rayer (the spelling of that time is
uncertain), went on a pilgrimage to Rome. At Rome he, as people still
often do, fell ill of malarial fever, and, as is less common, perhaps
nowadays, vowed, if he recovered, to build a hospital for the
"recreacion of poure men." Rahere was, says the chronicler, "a
pleasant-witted gentleman, and therefore in his time called the King's
minstrel." (Hence, no doubt, he has been called also "the King's
jester"; though this appears to be incorrect.) Lively and
"pleasant-witted" people are, we know, apt to take sudden conversion
hardly; and Rahere was certainly as thorough in his dealings with the
devil as was any mediæval saint. In his sickness he had a vision, and
in that vision he saw a great beast with four feet and two wings; this
beast seized him and carried him to a high place whence he could see
"the bottomless pit" and all its horrors. From this very disagreeable
position he was delivered by the merciful St. Bartholomew, who
thereupon ordered him to go home and build a church in his honour on a
site that he should direct, assuring him that he (the saint), would
supply the necessary funds. Returning home, Rahere gained the king's
consent to the work, which was forthwith begun, and assisted greatly
by miraculous agency; such as bright light shining on the roof of the
rising edifice, wonderful cures worked there, and all such
supernatural revelations. When Rahere died, in the odour of sanctity,
and the first prior of his foundation, he left thirteen canons
attached to it; which number his successor, Prior Thomas, had raised
in 1174 to thirty-five. Thus the monastery grew through successive
priors, till it was one of the largest religious houses in London. Its
precincts and accessories extended at one time as far as Aldersgate
Street; these however vanished with the dissolution of the monasteries
by Henry VIII., and all that remains to the present day is the
abbreviated priory church and a small part of a cloister. In monastic
times the nave of the edifice extended, indeed, the whole length of
the little churchyard, as far as the dog-toothed Smithfield entrance
gate; but of the ancient church nothing now remains intact but the
choir, with the first bay of the nave and portions of the transepts.
Yet the recent restorations have been most successfully carried out,
and the first view of the interior is striking in its grand old Norman
simplicity. The choir has a triforium and a clerestory, and
terminates in an apse, pierced by curious horseshoe arches; behind
runs a circulating ambulatory dividing it from the adjoining "Lady
chapel." Worthy of notice is the finely-wrought modern iron screen,
the work of Mr. Starkie Gardner, that separates this chapel from the
apse. The church has been altered, added to, or mutilated, from time
to time; and other styles of architecture, such as Perpendicular, have
occasionally been introduced; but yet the main effect of the interior
is Norman. The beautiful Norman apse, built over and obliterated in
the 15th century, has, by the talent of Mr. Aston Webb, been now
restored to its original design. Indeed, the whole edifice has in
recent times and by the efforts of late rectors and patrons, been
extricated from dirt, lumber and decay; the work of restoration
beginning in 1864. The restorer has done his work most faithfully,
preserving all the old walls, and utilising the old Norman stones used
in previous re-buildings.

The high value of every inch of space, in this crowded colony of
workers, had in course of centuries caused many and various irruptions
into the sacred precincts. But some of the worst encroachments may
possibly have arisen in the beginning more from the action of venal
and careless officials and rectors, than from outside greed. Thus,
supposing that a parishioner had, by some means or other, obtained a
corner of the church for the stowing of his lumber, and that he paid
rent for it duly to the churchwardens; he being in time himself
nominated churchwarden, the rent would lapse, himself and his heirs
becoming eventually proprietors of the said corner. Thus it is that
abuses creep in. The state of St. Bartholomew-the-Great, a
half-century ago, must indeed have been grief, almost despair to the
antiquary. A fringe factory occupied the "Lady-Chapel" and even
projected into the apse; a school was held in the triforium; and a
blacksmith's forge filled one of the transepts. The fringe factory
cost no less than £6,000 to buy out; the blacksmith whose forge had
been inside the church for 250 years, was removed for a sum of
£2,000. In the north transept you may still see the stone walls and
arches blackened with the smoke of the forge, and a curious white
patch, yet remaining on the pillared wall, testifies to the exact spot
where the blacksmith's tool-cupboard used to stand. The feet of the
horses can hardly be said to have improved the Norman pillars. Pious
legend is already busy with the history of the reconstruction of the
church, and I was assured that in one case the compensation money did
its recipient little good; for he immediately set himself, as the
phrase goes, to "swallow it." But, indeed, all that remained of the
old church was before 1864 so hemmed in on all sides by encroaching
houses, that the work of "buying out" must have been one of immense
difficulty and patience. Some few of the tenants have, it seems,
proved very obdurate and grasping; these, however, are wisely left to
deal with till the last. One window in the now cleared and restored
"Lady-Chapel" is still blocked by a red-tiled, rambling building, a
highly unnecessary but most picturesque parasite which has at some
period or other attached itself limpet-like to the old church wall.

The old church is, like all London churches, dark, and it requires a
bright day to be thoroughly appreciated. Lady sketchers are sometimes
to be seen there, their easels set up in secluded nooks. The church,
however, is generally more or less desolate, a curious little island
of quiet after the surrounding din of the streets and alleys. Perhaps
one or two strangers,--Americans most likely,--men by preference,--may
be seen going over it; but old city churches do not, as a rule,
attract crowds of visitors. Passers-by can rarely direct you to them,
and even dwellers in the district can but seldom tell you where they
are. For cockneys, even "superior" cockneys, are born and die in
London without ever troubling themselves over the existence of these
ancient relics of the past. Yet, if the natural beauties of St.
Bartholomew are great, greater still is its historical interest. The
vandalisms of the Reformation, and, later, of the Protectorate, have
fortunately spared most of its ancient monuments, and the tomb of
Rahere, the founder and earliest prior, shows its recumbent effigy
still uninjured under a vaulted canopy. The tomb is on the north side
of the choir, just inside the communion rails. Though the canopy is
admittedly the work of a fifteenth-century artist, the effigy is said
to belong to Rahere's own time. The founder is represented in the
robes of his Order (the Augustinian Canons); his head has the monkish
tonsure; a monk is on each side of him, and an angel is at his feet.
The effigy, like several other monuments in the church, has been
darkened all over, probably by the misplaced zeal of Cromwellian
iconoclasts, with sombre paint; this coating, however, has been to a
great extent removed. (In some of the other tombs and monuments the
darkening is done with some thick black pigment, impossible entirely
to remove.) The Latin epitaph on Rahere's tomb is simple:

     "Hic jacet Raherus primus canonicus et primus prior hujus
     ecclesiae."

Some twenty years ago the tomb was opened, and Rahere's skeleton
disclosed, together with a part of a sandal, which latter may be seen
in a glass case among other relics in the north transept.

Almost opposite the founder's tomb, looking down from the south
triforium, is Prior Bolton's picturesque window, built by him
evidently for the purpose of watching the revered monument. Prior
Bolton, the most famous of Rahere's successors, ruled the convent from
1506 to 1532; his window is a projecting oriel, and on a middle panel
below is carved his well-known "rebus," a "bolt" passing through a
"tun"; this rebus occurs also at other places in the church.

The splendid alabaster tomb of Sir Walter Mildmay, a statesman of
Queen Elizabeth's day, and founder of Emmanuel College, Cambridge,
should be noticed in the south ambulatory. The vandalism of former
times had, curiously enough, not blackened this tomb, but endued its
alabaster with an upper coating of sham marble--now removed. The
remainder of the tombs and monuments will all repay inspection; and
some of the inscriptions are very quaint. For instance, in a bay in
the south ambulatory is a monument to a certain John Whiting and his
wife, with the verse (nearly defaced) from Sir Henry Wotton:

  "Shee first deceased, he for a little try'd
   To live without her, lik'd it not and dy'd."

And in another place is the monument to Edward Cooke, "philosopher and
doctor," which is made of a kind of porous marble that exudes water in
damp weather, and has inscribed on it the following appropriate
epitaph:

  "Unsluice, ye briny floods. What! can ye keep
   Your eyes from teares, and see the marble weep?
   Burst out for shame; or if ye find noe vent
   For teares, yet stay and see the stones relent."

Yet the marble was not altogether to be blamed. It is sad to spoil a
poetic illusion; but it seems that in old days the church was damp, so
damp that the rector--if report is to be believed--had to preach
sometimes under an umbrella, and the marble "wept" abundantly. Now,
however, that the building is repaired and properly warmed, the
"stones relent" no more.

St. Bartholomew has had, too, its quota of famous parishioners.
Milton, that constant though wandering Londoner, lived close by at one
time, in his "pretty garden-house" of Aldersgate (that garden-house
that was yet so dull that his young wife ran away temporarily both
from it and him!); and the poet probably attended divine service in
the church. Hogarth, the painter, was baptised here, as the parish
registers tell. The congregation of the present day, however, comes,
as is so often the case with old city churches, mainly from outside.
The immediate neighbourhood is hardly church-going, being a
collection of narrow alleys and mysterious courts. And yet, in these
dark purlieus of "Little Britain," house-room is frightfully dear, and
in the crumbling tenements of "Cloth Fair," a poor room costs about
6_s._ per week. As to the population, only fifteen years ago they were
rough, rowdy, even criminal in places; now, however, the district is
mainly respectable, although overcrowded by workers--factory hands,
private manufacturers, widows who work in City offices and who cling
to the locality as being near and convenient. It is very difficult for
the authorities to obviate overcrowding in certain central London
districts. Little Britain, now devoted to warehouses and tenement
dwellings, was in old days filled with book-shops; indeed, the whole
district used to be literary, for Milton Street, near by, was the
"Grub Street" of Pope's obloquy in the _Dunciad_. In Little Britain
are still good houses to be seen here and there; and Cloth Fair itself
was once inhabited by grandees and merchant princes. That dingy but
romantic alley still boasts an old lath-and-plaster house, that once
was the Earl of Warwick's; its picturesque windows surmount a humble
tallow chandler's shop; but its towering decrepitude still has
dignity, and the Earl's arms still adorn its front. It was good enough
for an Earl in old days; now, however, his dog would hardly be allowed
to sleep in it!

When "Bartholomew Fair" was a great annual festivity, it was in Cloth
Fair that the famous "Court of Pie Powdre" used to be held, that court
which, during fair-time, corrected weights and measures and granted
licenses. It was called the "Court of Pie Powdre" because "justice was
done there as speedily as dust can fall from the foot."

In mediæval days, the open space of Smithfield--now a meat
market--was, as every one knows, a shambles of another sort. Here
suffered that noble army of Marian martyrs, who proudly for
conscience' sake faced the flame; here burned those hideous fires that
long blackened the English name. The little row of houses facing
Smithfield,--under which is the archway and dog-toothed gate to the
old church, already mentioned,--is, so far as one can gather from an
old print, little altered since those cruel days when mayors,
grandees, and respectable citizens would sit and watch the tortures of
poor, faithful men and women. Especially at the beautiful Anne Askew's
burning, "the multitude and concourse," says Foxe, "of the people was
exceeding; the place where they stood being railed about to keep out
the press. Upon the bench under St. Bartholomew's Church sate
Wriothesley, chancellor of England, the old Duke of Norfolk," etc.
etc.... Strange times, indeed! when, (said Byron):

  "Christians did burn each other, quite persuaded
   That all the Apostles would have done as they did."

At the Smithfield fires perished in all 277 persons, whose only
memorial is now an inscribed stone on the outer wall of St.
Bartholomew's Hospital, commemorating three of them in these words:

     "Within a few yards of this spot John Rogers, John Bradford,
     John Philpot, servants of God, suffered death by fire for
     the faith of Christ, in the years 1555, 1556, 1557."

Smithfield, or Smoothfield as it was first called, was even in very
early times a place of slaughter and execution; here the Scotch
patriot, Sir William Wallace, was done to death in 1305, and here, in
1381, the rebel Wat Tyler was slain by Sir William Walworth.
Originally a tournament and tilt ground, Smithfield was in those days
a broad meadow-land fringed with elms, beyond the old London walls.
Miracle-plays, public executions, tortures, fairs, and burnings appear
to have taken place here in indiscriminate alternation, until
Smithfield became, first, the great cattle-fair of London, and,
finally, the modern meat-market. Its present charm, if any, must be
all "in the eye of the seer;" for it is, in truth, a noisy,
unattractive spot, with but little suggestion of ancient romance about
it.

[Illustration: _St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield._]

St. Bartholomew's Hospital, of which the long front faces the
market-place, forms part of Rahere's original foundation. Refounded by
Henry VIII. after the dissolution of the monasteries, it is now almost
the wealthiest, as well as the oldest, hospital in London. It admits
over 100,000 patients annually, and its medical school is famous. Just
within its Smithfield gateway, which dates from the year 1702, and is
adorned by a statute of Henry VIII., is the church of St. Bartholomew
the Less, originally built by Rahere just after his return from Rome,
but re-erected in 1823. The spacious courtyards of the hospital,
collegiate in size and cleanliness, and pleasantly shaded by trees,
afford pretty and pathetic sights. Here, on fine days of spring and
summer, a few convalescents, pale and bandaged, may be seen sitting
out and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, talking, reading, or
simply engrossed in watching a game of ball played by the students.
Those boy- or girl-patients who are well on the road to recovery,
often tend or supervise still younger patients, the pretty
white-capped nurses occasionally lending a hand--it is a charming
sight. The last time that I passed by the Smithfield front of the
hospital, a poor tramp lay prone on the broad steps of the patients'
entrance, and a porter was sympathetically and tenderly preparing to
lift him inside; it was a picture of the Good Samaritan.

But St. Bartholomew's precincts are not the only "haunts of peace" in
this noisy neighbourhood. Crossing the Metropolitan Meat Market, and
picking your way northward, through innumerable ugly tram-lines, you
presently reach the quiet and restful Charterhouse Square, whence,
through an archway, the precincts of the ancient monastery are
entered. Charterhouse Square, once an enclosure of seventeenth-century
palaces, is a delightful old place even yet; though its sober
residential look of time-darkened red brick is now but a blind, and it
is rapidly becoming a square of hotels and lodging-houses. Such a fate
was, of course, inevitable in its case; and yet it seems mournful. The
spot where Rutland House, the ancient residence of the Venetian
ambassador, once stood, is only commemorated now in the name of
Rutland Place. The City palaces have crumbled; they have all been
rebuilt in the far West; and even Bloomsbury has none left, except
those which are devoted to the modern flat! One of the prettiest
houses now to be seen in the present Charterhouse Square,--its front
trellised over with bright Virginian creeper, such a house as Miss
Thackeray loved to describe,--is now a "home" fitted up by a big city
warehouse for the accommodation of its working girls. The square
garden is still nicely kept; Janus-faced, it looks on to the world's
noisy mart on the one side, and, on the other, towards conventual
peace.

But you must not linger in Charterhouse Square; time is passing, and
the archway leading to the ancient sanctuary invites you. The
guide-books tell you that this archway is in the "Perpendicular"
style; that its projecting shelf above is supported by lions; this
and much more; but you do not always feel in a mood to digest
guide-books. They are so aggressive in their information, and so
distracting to one's own thoughts! For, how many associations does not
this classic abode recall! You can easily imagine groups of tonsured,
cowled friars, standing here and there in the shadows of the
quadrangles; one "grey friar" of a later time, with "the order of the
Bath on his breast," perhaps, most of all.

This Carthusian monastery, so powerful in mediæval times, and founded
by Sir Walter Manny as early as 1321, was suppressed by the rapacity
of Henry VIII., that brutal though necessary reformer. The story of
the dissolution is a cruel and heartrending one. Prior Houghton, the
last superior of the monastery, protested against the king's
spoliation of Church lands; he was promptly convicted of high treason,
and, with several of his monks, was "hanged, drawn, and quartered" at
Tyburn. They died gallantly, and in their deaths we revere that true
and sturdy spirit that still in our own day leads England on to glory:

     "If" (says Froude) "we would understand the true spirit of
     the time, we must regard Catholics and Protestants as
     gallant soldiers, whose deaths, when they fall, are not
     painful, but glorious; and whose devotion we are equally
     able to admire, even where we cannot equally approve their
     cause. Courage and self-sacrifice are beautiful alike in an
     enemy and in a friend. And while we exult in that chivalry
     with which the Smithfield martyrs bought England's freedom
     with their blood, so we will not refuse our admiration to
     those other gallant men whose high forms, in the sunset of
     the old faith, stand transfigured on the horizon, tinged
     with the light of its dying glory."

Prior Houghton's bloody arm, severed from his murdered corpse, was
hung up over the gateway of his sanctuary, to awe his remaining monks
into obedience; while his head was exposed on London Bridge. Brutal,
indeed, were our forefathers of the Tudor time!

The Charterhouse, after the banishment and death of its monks, passed
through the hands of several of the king's favourites, and came
eventually into those of the Duke of Norfolk, who altered it
considerably, making it less monastic and more palatial in character.
But a new era of usefulness awaited the ancient convent; better days
for it were at hand. For it was finally sold by the Norfolk family to
one Thomas Sutton, a rich and philanthropic Northumbrian coal-owner,
who converted it into a "Hospital" for eighty poor men, and a school
for forty poor boys. The school, so picturesque in Thackeray's
_Newcomes_, no longer exists here as in old days; in 1872, the modern
craze for fresh air transferred it to new premises at Godalming; and
the boys' vacated buildings were sold to the Merchant Taylors' Company
for their own school. The almshouses for the poor brothers remain,
however, just as they were. Times change, and, though the aged
bedesmen are yet poor, it is doubtful whether all the boys who benefit
from the foundation, can still be called so. The school, like other
foundations of its kind, probably now benefits a higher class than old
Thomas Sutton intended.

Many noted men have been pupils of the Charterhouse; Thackeray,
especially, has immortalised his old school in his touching
description of "Founder's Day"; when old Colonel Newcome, in his turn
both pupil and poor brother, sits humbly among the aged pensioners,
clad in his black gown:

     "I chanced to look up from my book towards the swarm of
     black-coated pensioners: and amongst them--amongst
     them--sate Thomas Newcome. His dear old head was bent down
     over his prayer-book; there was no mistaking him. He wore
     the black gown of the pensioners of the Hospital of Grey
     Friars. His order of the Bath was on his breast. He stood
     there amongst the poor brethren, uttering the responses to
     the psalm.... I heard no more of prayers, and psalms, and
     sermon, after that."

The whole of the Charterhouse breathes the old man's spirit; is
perambulated by his frail ghost, the shadow of a Grey Friar. The
letters, "I.H." worked out in red on the bricks in Washhouse Court,
(part of the old monastery), though supposed to show the initials of
the martyred Prior Houghton, are not so vivid to us as the little
house in the same court, pointed out as the place where Colonel
Newcome died!

Ghosts there may be in the Charterhouse, but their identity is not
divulged. "Some people," the porter owns, under pressure, "have been
known to see strange things," though he for his part has only come
across rats, so far. Perhaps the boys have "laid" them! boys, it must
be confessed, would make short work of most ghosts. The boys, on the
"Founder's Day" mentioned by Thackeray, used always to sing the
Carthusian chorus in the old merchant's honour:

  "Then blessed be the memory
   Of good old Thomas Sutton,
   Who gave us lodging, learning,
   As well as beef and mutton."

They sing it still, no doubt, equally heartily at Godalming; yet,
surely, some among them must yearn for the historic associations of
the old place. But, indeed, all the ancient schools are going, or
gone, from the City; St. Paul's School is moved to Hammersmith; the
picturesque Christ's Hospital is just disintegrated; its
characteristic Lares and Penates are removed to Horsham; and the
passengers along noisy Newgate Street will no longer stay to enjoy the
romps and the foot-ball of the yellow-legged, blue-coated boys.

The brick courts of the Charterhouse have a solid and collegiate air;
its small Jacobean chapel, of which the groined entrance alone dates
from monastic times, contains a splendid alabaster tomb of the
Founder. Here is Thackeray's striking description of a "Founder's Day"
service:

     "The boys are already in their seats, with smug fresh faces,
     and shining white collars; the old black-gowned pensioners
     are on their benches; the chapel is lighted, and Founder's
     Tomb, with its grotesque carvings, monsters, heraldries,
     darkles and shines with the most wonderful shadows and
     lights. There he lies, Foundator Noster, in his ruff and
     gown, awaiting the great Examination Day.... Yonder sit
     forty cherry-cheeked boys, thinking about home and holidays
     to-morrow. Yonder sit some three-score old gentlemen of the
     hospital, listening to the prayers and the psalms. You hear
     them coughing feebly in the twilight,--the old reverend
     blackgowns.... A plenty of candles lights up this chapel,
     and this scene of age and youth, and early memories, and
     pompous death. How solemn the well-remembered prayers are,
     here uttered again in the place where in childhood we used
     to hear them! How beautiful and decorous the rite; how noble
     the ancient words of the supplications which the priest
     utters, and to which generations of fresh children, and
     troops of bygone seniors have cried Amen! under those
     arches! The service for Founder's Day is a special one; one
     of the psalms selected being the thirty-seventh, and we
     hear--'v. 23. The steps of a good man are ordered by the
     Lord: and he delighteth in his way. 24. Though he fall, he
     shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him
     with his hand. 25. I have been young, and now am old; yet
     have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging
     their bread."

The Carthusians, as visitors to the monastery of the "Grande
Chartreuse" already know, lived almost entirely in small houses of
their own. These exist here no longer, but the ancient brick cloister
that extends along the playground belongs to the old convent. The many
rambling courts and low buildings of the Charterhouse are, no doubt,
puzzling on a first visit. "There is," says Thackeray, "an old Hall, a
beautiful specimen of the architecture of James's time; an old Hall?
many old halls; old staircases, old passages, old chambers decorated
with old portraits, walking in the midst of which, we walk as it were
in the early seventeenth century." The dining-hall, which used to be
the monastic guest-chamber, is used now by the old bedesmen; it is
fine, with its dark panelling and its look of comfortable solidity.
This was the part of the old Charterhouse adapted for his own dwelling
by the Duke of Norfolk; and the wide Elizabethan staircase, leading to
the "Officers' Library," is almost exactly as it was in his time. A
curfew, tolled every evening at eight or nine o'clock p.m., proclaims
the number of the poor brethren. It was with reference to this custom
that Thackeray wrote his infinitely touching description of the death
of Thomas Newcome:

     "At the usual evening hour the chapel bell began to toll,
     and Thomas Newcome's hands outside the bed feebly beat time.
     And just as the last bell struck, a peculiar sweet smile
     shone over his face, and he lifted up his head a little, and
     quickly said '_Adsum_,' and fell back. It was the word we
     used at school, when names were called; and lo, he, whose
     heart was as that of a little child, had answered to his
     name, and stood in the presence of The Master."

But the Charterhouse has now come more or less to be a "show place";
and, interesting as are visits to the show places of London, I often
think that a mere aimless ramble through the streets of the City is
more soothing and refreshing to the average mind. Human nature is
contradictory, delighting in the unexpected; also, so far as lasting
impressions go, it is incapable of thoroughly taking in much at one
time. Everybody knows that places where you are "shown round" are
fatiguing; what you really enjoy is what you can find out for your own
poor self. In London streets, the unexpected is always happening;
thus, through the hideous plate glass of a bar parlour, you may catch
glimpses of waving trees and grey towers, and even the dreadful glare
of London advertisement hoardings does not "wholly abolish or destroy"
the ancient charm of the crowded, irregular City streets. A City of
parallel lines and squares, such as the Colonials love! Perish the
thought! Let them widen Southampton Row if they will, remove Holywell
Street and King Street if they list; but let us at any rate keep to
our old and devious ways through the heart of the City!

Just west of the Charterhouse, reached from Smithfield by St. John
Street, is another stranded islet of the past, St. John's Gate,
Clerkenwell. This is the only remaining relic of the mediæval Priory
of St. John, the chief English seat of the "Knights Hospitallers of
St. John of Jerusalem," founded in Henry I.'s reign by a baron named
Jordan Briset and Muriel his wife. The early Priory was burnt by the
rebels under Wat Tyler, and, when rebuilt, the newer building was used
in many reigns as a resort of royalty. After many vicissitudes, the
Order of St. John's Knights was suppressed by that archiconoclast
Henry VIII. who, for the purpose, resorted to his usual persuasive
methods of beheading, hanging, and quartering. Nevertheless, the
Priory continued to be used as a Royal residence by Henry's daughter,
Mary. The fragment of the old building that remains to us is its south
gate, built by Prior Docwra in 1504. It is a fine bit of perpendicular
architecture; on the gateway's north side are the arms of Docwra and
of his Order, on the south side, those of France and England. In the
centre of the groined roof is the Lamb bearing a flag, kneeling on the
Gospels. The rest of the Priory buildings have long vanished;
destroyed, for the most part, by the ambitious Protector Somerset, by
whose order they were blown up for building materials for his fine new
Strand palace. The later history of the old Gate is mainly
journalistic; demonstrating that typical change from the calm of
conventual seclusion to the thunder of printing-press publicity, so
common in central London. Dr. Johnson lived here in his early days of
hack work in the old rooms above the Gate, working for Cave the
printer, the founder of the _Gentleman's Magazine_, at so much per
sheet, and living here an inky, dirty, hermit-like existence; seeing
no one, and "eating his food behind a screen, being too shabby for
publicity." The chair he used is still treasured. (St. John's Gate is
a familiar object to many who have not really seen it, owing to its
representation, in pale purple, on the outside cover of the
_Gentleman's Magazine_.) The gate is now appropriately occupied by the
Order of St. John, a charitable institution devoted to ambulance and
hospital work. Part of the old priory church may be seen in the fine
Norman crypt of St. John's Church close by. People used to visit this
crypt to see the coffin (now buried), of "Scratching Fanny, the Cock
Lane Ghost": this was a fraud perpetrated by a girl and her father,
for gain. A plausible story was invented, and many notable people were
duped by it; but by Dr. Johnson's investigations the hoax was at
length discovered.

A ramble down Bishopsgate, in the inconsequent way already suggested,
will be found thoroughly enjoyable; though it has, of course, the
defect of being exceptionally easy of accomplishment. For this
purpose, an omnibus to the Mansion House will land you exactly where
you want to be. I may add that it is very important to choose a fine
day for the excursion, a day when those imposing golden letters on the
Royal Exchange--the "Anno Elizabethae" and "Anno Victoriae"--glitter
like so many suns above the unceasing whirlpool of human life and
energy below. Have you ever thought, as you looked on those golden
letters, how interesting they may prove to some future antiquary? Like
the "M. Agrippa Cos Tertium Fecit" on the Roman Pantheon, they tell,
proudly, of the glory of a great nation. It is noteworthy that the
names of two queens should here represent England's highest fame, and
commemorate thus, in close juxtaposition, the Elizabethan and
Victorian Age.

The Victorian Age, however, with its bustle and movement, is very much
with us as we approach Bishopsgate along the route of Holborn Viaduct.
If you elect to travel on the top of an omnibus, you will find that
Newgate Street and Cheapside show, in turn and on each side, a
scintillating kaleidoscope of light and colour. Rambles are all very
well in their way; but, under some circumstances, Mr. Gladstone's
dictum was a right one; the top of an omnibus is a wonderful point of
view. So we will go on a 'bus to the Mansion House, and ramble
afterwards. First comes St. Paul's, its imposing dome rising
majestically in ponderous blackness through its surrounding greenery;
then the gloomy walls of grim Newgate prison; next, the pale,
ghost-like spire of St. Mary-le-Bow, shining over its blackened base
and the many-coloured street vista below, and, finally, the great
civic buildings of the City proper, forming in the sunlight, a sort of
white-and-golden circle, a central focusing point of colour and
energy, whence diverge, like so many wheel-spokes, all the great
business thoroughfares. The stranger, set down here for the first
time, generally completely loses his bearings, and even the practised
Londoner sometimes finds himself at a loss. (In a "London particular"
he may even find himself in a very Inferno.) But the cool inner
courtyard of the Royal Exchange, sought as a refuge, will speedily
restore his disordered faculties, and give him time to get out his
pocket-map. Here, let into the inner wall of the colonnade, are modern
paintings of scenes in the history of London by eminent artists, among
which the contrasted pictures of the two great queens (respectively by
Ernest Crofts and R. W. Macbeth) carry out something of the feeling
suggested by the gold-lettered pediment. Elizabeth, on a spirited
charger, golden-haired and in picturesque sixteenth century dress,
opens Sir Thomas Gresham's earlier building; Victoria, a slim girlish
figure, standing between the "great Duke" and Prince Albert,
inaugurates the later.

Round about the "Exchange" precincts, several sensible, sober, and
practical-looking gentlemen sit, casually, on stone chairs; Mr.
Peabody is on one side, Sir Rowland Hill, the penny postage reformer,
is on the other. So far as I have seen, they are the only people in
this crowded ant-heap who have any leisure for sitting down! Opposite
the Royal Exchange, at No. 15 Cornhill, is a little shop of old
time--Birch and Birch--painted in green and red. It is a very
unassuming little confectioner's shop, and its tiny, abridged
shop-front with the narrow panes of glass has certainly an antique
look. But not unassuming are the civic banquets which this firm is
often called upon to supply. The churches in the narrow street of
Cornhill come upon the pedestrian, if, indeed, they come upon him at
all, as surprises. Of St. Michael's nothing can be seen from the
street but its tower and richly-carved modern doorway fixed between
two plate-glass shop-fronts. The doorway has projecting heads and a
relief of St. Michael weighing souls; a business-like proceeding, I
may remark, that well befits the City. Further on, comes St.
Peter-upon-Cornhill, the body of the church completely masked by
shops, and only the tower to be seen over the roofs from the further
side of the street. Most of these City churches are open at mid-day,
and the stranger is usually free to walk round and see what he will,
without let or hindrance, ignored by the sextoness or pew-opener, who
is generally a superior old lady in black silk, attached to the church
some thirty or forty years, and almost as much a part of it as its
furniture. Church caretakers' lives must be healthier than one would
imagine, for they seem, as a race, given to longevity. Visitors are
rarely encouraged in London churches. The charwomen employed in
scrubbing the aisles seem to regard intruders as unnecessary
nuisances. "Church shut for to-day," one cried triumphantly when she
saw me coming. It is interesting to note that, when Thackeray edited
the _Cornhill Magazine_, his editorial window looked out upon this
church of St. Peter. Now, Bishopsgate Street turns down out of
Cornhill to the left, and spacious banks, built in varying degrees of
splendour, line the thoroughfare.

Close by, in Threadneedle Street, was the old "South Sea House," noted
for the famous "Bubble" of 1720, that ruined so many thousands. E. M.
Ward's picture of the wild excitement caused by the "Bubble" in the
neighbouring Change Alley, is well known. In Bishopsgate Street,
almost opposite Crosby Hall, is the splendid "National and Provincial
Bank," unique in sumptuousness, its large hall lined with polished
granite columns in the Byzantine-Romanesque style--a style, one would
think, more ecclesiastical than financial. If they had dug this sort
of place out of old Pompeii, what would the antiquaries have called
it? No statues of Plutus or of Mercury would have helped them to their
finding! Alas! in our foggy climate, we dare not indulge ourselves
with sculptured Lares and Penates; and we must needs content ourselves
with those few square-toed, frock-coated celebrities whose statues, of
gigantic size, confront us at our chief partings of the roads. They
have, certainly, gathered funereal trappings galore in their time;
their grime and blackness deceive even the wary London sparrows, who
build their nests fearlessly about the giants' heads and shoulders.

To return to Bishopsgate Street: Crosby Hall, the ancient mediæval
palace and modern restaurant, to which I have before alluded, is,
though much repaired and repainted, still dignified; in the interior
of the restaurant all details are carefully studied, even to the
antique china stands for glasses, and the old-fashioned spotted
cambric dresses of the serving-maids.

Close by Crosby Hall is the turning into Great St. Helen's; indeed,
the long windows of the hall back on to the square of that name. This
curious old convent church, set in its little secluded enclosure, has
been called "the Westminster Abbey of the City." It is certainly rich
in historical tombs and monuments. Originally founded in the 13th
century as the "Priory of St. Helen's for Nuns of the Benedictine
Order," its accessories have, like those of St. Bartholomew the Great,
been long removed and built over, and its cloisters exist no more. Yet
what remains of it is full of interest. It is comparatively very
unvisited. The last time I was there, I noticed one depressed
American, "doing" the tombs sadly. I felt for him, for though it was
only 3 o'clock on an October day, it was much too dark to read or see,
and he had evidently lost himself among the monuments. The sextoness,
who was apparently engaged in the careful brushing of her black silk
dress in the vestry, was much too superior to notice him. St. Helen's
is a dark church at any time; on this occasion a "London particular"
was also impending, and even the gold letters on Sir Thomas Gresham's
massive tomb scarcely showed in the fading light. But it was a
picturesque scene, despite the sad lack of "glory on the walls." The
old knights and ladies, motionless on their narrow beds, glimmered in
ghostly fashion, silent witnesses of the flight of the centuries. The
quaint, stiff effigies, clad in ruff and farthingale,--while they have
knelt there, how many generations, in the turbulent world outside,
have been born and died? Bancroft's unwieldy tomb is gone from its
old place; else you might well have imagined the shade of the
eccentric philanthropist stealing from it by night, pressing back its
careful hinges, and fumbling for the bread and wine that he had
ordered by will to be placed near by for his awakening. You mistook,
in the dim light, Sir John Spencer's kneeling heiress-daughter for a
guardian angel, and you were awed by the still, calm mediævalism of
the altar-tomb of the Crosbys.... It was all so vague and so misty
that the mind really seemed to participate in the general fog, and I
remember gazing vaguely on the words, "Julius Caesar,"--inscribed, in
enormous letters, on a sumptuous altar-tomb,--feeling that I fervently
sympathised with the royal lady who, when shown the magic name, is
said to have remarked naïvely:

"But I always thought that Julius Caesar was buried in Rome!"

It is surely very unfair for individuals to perpetrate post-mortem
puzzles of the kind! For this "Julius Caesar," (who, by-the-way,
gained his false honours by dropping his surname) was merely a Judge
and a Master of the Rolls of Elizabeth's day, and, evidently, as shown
by his tomb, designed by himself, what is called "a crank" also. When
I had got over the "Julius Caesar" deception, I sympathised duly with
the large family of "John Robinson, alderman," whose children form a
long kneeling procession behind him; and still more did I mourn for
those unhappy nuns who, poor things, were immured in the darkness
behind "the Nuns' Grate," or "hagioscope"; their scant peepholes so
unkindly devised that they could only see the altar, and not the
congregation! These "Black Nuns" of St. Helen's must, nevertheless,
one thinks, have been often but naughty, giggling school-girls,
despite their show of conventual discipline. Perhaps, as Chaucer would
have us believe, such discipline was but lax in England in the middle
ages. Be that as it may, we find, at one time, no less authorities
than the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's admonishing them thus:

     "Also we enjoyne you, that all daunsyng and reveling be
     utterly forborne among you, except at Christmasse, and other
     honest tymys of recreacyone, among yourselfe usyd, in
     absence of seculars in alle wyse."

Of the two aisles that form the church, the "Nuns' Aisle" is that to
the left as you enter, and the steps to their destroyed cloister (now
blocked up) open out of it. The little garden plot outside the church
is neatly kept, and on my last visit I noticed some gardeners putting
in a plentiful supply of bulbs for spring blooming. Doubtless, the
"Black Nuns" enjoyed among their other "recreacyones," a lovely and a
well-ordered convent garden outside their cloister; "cherry trees" are
specially mentioned in St. Helen's register; and, as we know, the
London of that day grew many luscious fruits.

Farther down Bishopsgate Street, is the tiny church of St. Ethelburga,
uninteresting as regards its interior, but one of the oldest existing
churches in London, and certainly the smallest. It escaped the ravages
of the Great Fire, and history mentions it as early as 1366. I passed
it three times without noticing it, for its little spirelet rises but
slightly above the roofs of the intervening shops, and its tiny
doorway, labelled itself like a small shop, is easily overlooked
between two projecting windows. (The smallness of the place can be
imagined from the fact that, only a few doors from it, no one can be
found to direct you to it.) The verger lives in a very picturesque and
overhanging slum-alley close by; though his abode suggests Fagin, he
is, nevertheless, an amiable and obliging gentleman.

Just east of Bishopsgate is Houndsditch (its somewhat unpleasantly
suggestive name commemorating the ancient City moat), with, near by,
the Jewish quarter of St. Mary Axe, "Rag Fair," and Petticoat Lane
(now Middlesex Street), noted, like Brick Lane, Spitalfields, for its
Sunday morning markets. Why is the Jewish quarter so invariably
concerned with old clothes? As the rhyme says:

  "Jews of St. Mary Axe, of jobs so wary
   That for old clothes they'd even axe St. Mary."

Close by Houndsditch is Bevis Marks (Bury's Marks), now descended from
its ancient glories; it used to contain the City mansion, "fair courts
and garden plots," of the Abbots of Bury St. Edmunds, but now
principally recalls Dickens's unsavoury characters, Miss Sally Brass
and her brother Sampson (in _The Old Curiosity Shop_). Here, once
again, Dickens gets thoroughly the strange, semi-human spirit of
London slums and by-ways; it is in such places that his genius attains
its highest flights. That he was always, too, very careful as regarded
his details, is shown in a letter on this subject to his friend
Forster. He spent (he says), a whole morning in Bevis Marks,
selecting:

     "the office window, with its threadbare green curtain all
     awry; its sill just above the two steps which lead from the
     side-walk to the office door, and so close on the footway
     that the passenger who takes the wall brushes the dim glass
     with his elbow."

It seems, however, almost too invidious to select special rambles.
For, the whole of this heart of the city,--except only for certain
well-defined "infernos" of modern industry and ugliness, such as the
great Liverpool-Street terminus, must be deeply interesting to every
Londoner and every Englishman. Even in comparatively dull streets,
lined with warehouses and offices, there will always be some little
oasis to rest and refresh the wanderer. Suppose that, instead of going
up Cornhill, you take another wheel-spoke from the Mansion-House; say
Lombard-Street, the home _par excellence_ of the bankers. This street
is solid and stately, as you would expect; the very name has a moneyed
ring about it! The derivation of the name, by-the-way, is curious; it
comes from Lombard bankers who appear to have settled here at an early
date; the street bore their name in the reign of Edward II. The square
tower, crowned by an octagonal spire, that rises on the north side of
Lombard Street, is that of the church of St. Edmund the King and
Martyr, in which was made poor Addison's not too happy marriage with
the Dowager Countess of Warwick and Holland. Still continuing east,
past Gracechurch Street, we come to Fenchurch Street, a thoroughfare
that runs parallel with the busy mart of Eastcheap, famed in
Shakespeare, and possibly no less dirty and noisy than it was in Dame
Quickly's time. Out of Fenchurch Street opens Mincing Lane, a name
that commemorates the "minchens" or nuns of St. Helen's; that convent
owned a great deal of property about here. The Clothworkers' Hall,
close by, is reached through an iron gate; its garden, or court, is
formed by the ancient churchyard of All Hallows, Staining, a church
destroyed, all but its tower, by the Great Fire, and not rebuilt. The
tower of All Hallows, a stranded fragment of antiquity, forms the
centre piece of the garden court, where its effect is most curious and
striking.

The narrow old streets that lead north out of Cheapside, the "Chepe"
of the middle ages, with their quaint old names, afford many pleasant
rambles. In Wood Street, the old plane-tree, still standing, recalls
Wordsworth's poem. Milk Street leads by the old church of St. Mary
Aldermanbury, with the statue of Shakespeare in its little churchyard,
to the still visible bastions of London Wall, and along the street of
that name, to Cripplegate. The church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, is
interesting; its churchyard, too, is a green and favoured spot. A
street of warehouses near it was burned down quite recently with
terrible loss, and the church itself was threatened, but fortunately
escaped; but the streets, now rebuilt, look, thanks to the City's
wonderful recuperative powers, as solid and as flourishing as ever.
The noisy thoroughfare of Fore Street, lined with warehouses and
foundries, is built upon the ancient line of wall, which also appears,
black against sunflowers, asters, and greenery, in St. Giles's
churchyard and rectory garden. This part of the City wall is probably
of Edward IV.'s time. Portions of the old Roman wall have indeed been
discovered here and there in the City; a large fragment of it was, for
instance, laid bare at the building of the new departments of the
General Post Office in 1891. But the oldest fragments of wall
existing near Cripplegate are, though black, grimy, and mouldering,
probably Norman or Saxon. Roman relics that have been discovered in
the City are on view, some at the Guildhall, others in the British
Museum; the most interesting of them all, however, is still _in situ_,
being the large fragment called "London Stone," built into St.
Swithin's Church opposite the Cannon Street Terminus; supposed to be a
"milliarium," or milestone, and possibly, like the golden milestone in
the Roman Forum, "a central mark whence the great Roman roads radiated
all over England."

The street called "London Wall" testifies to the care of the City for
its ancient monuments. The ruins of the old fortifications are
carefully built up, embanked, and made picturesque by a narrow strip
of greenery that was once the churchyard of St. Alphage over the way.
They are railed in from injury, and a memorial tablet is affixed. The
dwellers in the district still, however, seem densely ignorant as to
its meaning. I lately asked several youthful inhabitants, engaged in
the fascinating pavement game of "hop-scotch," what they supposed the
place was. They could not answer. The School Board, if rumour speaks
truly, is surely doing well to include the history of London in its
curriculum.

The street of London Wall has the distinction of possessing the very
ugliest church in the metropolis, that of St. Alphage. It has, indeed,
the one merit of being so small as easily to escape notice; though
hardly its ancient foundation, or the interesting monument inside it
to Lord Mayor Sir Rowland Hayward's two wives and sixteen "happy
children," redeem it from utter dreariness.

But we must now desist from our rambles, though there is yet much to
see; night is falling; that mysterious night that brings such strange
contrast to the City streets; the wild, fitful fever of their long day
is ended, and they are left to silence. The busy throng of workers
hurries homeward; soon, in the highways scarcely a belated footfall
resounds, while in the byways, by day so crowded, there reigns a calm
as of the sea at rest; like the sea's, too, is that faint, unceasing
tremor of the great City, the City that never sleeps. To quote the
poet of "Cockaigne":

  "Temples of Mammon are voiceless again--
   Lonely policemen inherit Mark Lane--
   Silent is Lothbury--quiet Cornhill--
   Babel of Commerce, thine echoes are still.

  "Westward the stream of humanity glides;--
  'Buses are proud of their dozen insides;
   Put up thy shutters, grim Care, for to-day,
   Mirth and the lamplighter hurry this way."



CHAPTER IV

ST. PAUL'S AND ITS PRECINCTS

     "A deep, low, mighty tone swung through the night. At first
     I knew it not; but it was uttered twelve times, and at the
     twelfth colossal hum and trembling knell, I said, 'I lie in
     the shadow of St. Paul's.' ... The next day I awoke, and saw
     the risen sun struggling through fog. Above my head, above
     the housetops, co-elevate almost with the clouds, I saw a
     solemn, orbed mass, dark-blue and dim--the DOME. While I
     looked, my inner self moved; my spirit shook its
     always-fettered wings half loose; I had a sudden feeling as
     if I, who had never yet truly lived, were at last about to
     taste life: in that morning my soul grew as fast as Jonah's
     gourd."--_Charlotte Brontë_: "_Villette._"

                             "See! how shadowy,
                   Of some occult magician's rearing,
                 Or swung in space of heaven's grace
                   Dissolving, dimly reappearing,
                 Afloat upon ethereal tides
                 St. Paul's above the city rides."--_John Davidson._


St. Paul's is the central object of the City. As the typical view of
Rome must ever show, not any "purple Caesar's dome," but the violet,
all-pervading cupola of St. Peter's,--so, also, must the typical view
of London ever show the faint, misty, grey-blue dome of St. Paul's.
And St. Paul's is more to us than this. Even to dwellers in the
West-End, inexperienced in City life, that guardian spirit of the
mother-church, brooding silently over the far-off, dimly-imagined
heart of the City, is a vital part--a necessary factor--of London
life. The mighty smoke-begrimed cathedral, the monument of Wren's
genius, the abiding angel of the City, has it not a place in the
inmost affections of every Englishman worthy of the name whether near
or far? The shrines of other lands, of other nations, may win his
outspoken admiration; St. Paul's has ever his heart. For this, at
least, is his inheritance, his very own.

[Illustration: _Fighting Cocks._]

Blue-grey, veiled in mystery when viewed from a distance, St. Paul's,
seen from its immediate surroundings, has all the wonder of a dramatic
effect. Suddenly, from the glare and bustle of Cheapside, from the
tumult of the crowded highway, a gigantic, blackened mass rises in
startling completeness immediately overhead, towering with almost
night-mare like rapidity ever higher as we advance. Seen behind the
tall white buildings and shops of its so-called "churchyard," that hem
it in, St. Paul's makes an impression that is indescribably grand.
Especially in spring, when the first tender leaves of its surrounding
plane-trees interpose their young greenery in delicate labyrinths
between the dark, massive walls of the cathedral and the ever hurrying
life outside them, should St. Paul's be visited for the first time.

There has from immemorial times been a church here; tradition even
suggests a Roman temple on the site. But, though the "spirit" has ever
been constant, the "letter" (so to speak), has often changed. At any
rate Wren's masterpiece is the third Christian church, dedicated to
St. Paul, erected here since early Saxon times. Though Wren's
life-work was not rewarded, like Milton's, with "twenty pounds paid in
instalments, and a near approach to death on the gallows," yet he,
too, had but scant justice in his day. National benefits, even in our
own time, are often but ill rewarded. Thwarted, wretchedly paid,
suspected, and finally, at great age, and after forty-five years' hard
service, deposed from the post he had so long and so ably filled; the
"Nestor" of his age, with a spirit worthy of a more enlightened time,
betook himself cheerfully to his old study of philosophy, and only
once in every year, we are told, indulged his master-passion by having
himself carried to St. Paul's to gaze in silence on his life-work.

[Illustration: _St. Paul's from the River._]

The highest point of the city would, naturally, from very early times
be chosen as the sanctuary; and St. Paul's stands grandly on the top
of Ludgate Hill, its western portico almost facing the steep street of
that name. That it does not do so more exactly, is due to the haste of
the people in rebuilding their houses after the Great Fire; such haste
occasioning the reconstruction of the city more on the old lines, than
on those of Wren. For the great cathedral took some thirty-five years
to complete, and streets grow again more quickly than edifices
destined for the monuments of nations. And, before the new church
could be begun, the useless ruins of its predecessor had to be
removed. The Great Fire had calcined its stones and undermined the
safety of its walls. Such, indeed was the devastation of this terrible
holocaust, that even to this day, its relics and débris may be traced
in distinct thin layers, at certain distances under the soil, all over
the area of the City. The ruin can hardly be imagined, even from
Pepys's and Evelyn's vivid diaries. Small wonder indeed, that it
should be thought by the credulous that the end of the world, the Last
Judgment, had truly come. Some, later, held that the "purification" of
the old church by fire had been the one thing needed after its
desecration in the Commonwealth times to a house of traffic and
merchandize, even sometimes to a stable. The church had become a mere
promenade; "Paul's Walkers" had been the names given to loungers in
the sacred edifice; gallants using it as a place of pastime, beggars
as a resting-place, and Inigo Jones's beautiful portico at the west
end being all built up with squalid shops. The people were gradually
awakening to a sense of these enormities: had cleared out those unholy
traffickers;--were, indeed, in process of restoring the church,--when,
in 1666, the fire came to complete the purification. Then, when the
destruction of the city was complete, the common people with one
accord, pronounced it to be the work of the "Popish faction," and not
content with the mere verbal condemnation, caused this accusation of
incendiarism to be graven deeply on Wren's commemorating monument, a
calumny only removed after the lapse of ages.

Old St. Paul's, the second church of that name on this site, had been
built in the Conqueror's time; it was a large Gothic building, a vista
of noble arches, 700 feet long, with a tall spire, which was
subsequently struck by lightning and removed. It had a twelve-bayed
nave and a twelve-bayed choir, with a fine wheel-window at the east
end, and with two smaller satellites, St. Faith and St. Gregory,--the
one inside its very walls,--the other built on to it outside. On being
called upon to rebuild from the very foundations, Wren "resolved to
reconcile as near as possible the Gothic with a better manner of
architecture;" and, without ever having seen St. Peter's, he produced
what is really an adaptation of that central Renaissance building of
Christianity. It is much smaller: St. Paul's could go easily inside
St. Peter's; yet, in the position it occupies, hemmed in by streets
and houses, it looks deceptively much bigger. There is a pleasant
story told, that in the beginning of its building, Wren sent a workman
to fetch from the surrounding débris, a stone wherewith to mark out
the centre of the dome; and this happening to be an old gravestone,
inscribed "Resurgam," it was held to be a happy omen. (The word
"Resurgam," over the north portico, with a phoenix, by Cibber,
commemorates this story.) Wren was very careful about the strength of
his foundations; "I build for eternity," he said, with the true
confidence of genius.

More than two centuries have now elapsed since the first opening of
the new St. Paul's for service, and these two centuries have
established, as time alone can do, the fame and the genius of Wren.
Time here, as ever, has delivered the final verdict. The great
cathedral dominates the City, harmonising, ennobling, purifying the
serried mass of its surroundings; it is the coping-stone of London's
greatness. The verdict of later times has done justice to Wren's
judgment, and many of his intentions regarding the details of the
edifice, thwarted in his lifetime by ignorant contemporaries, have now
been carried out. Thus, the organ has been moved from its former place
over the iron-wrought screen between choir and nave, (where it marred
the architectural effect of the edifice), to the north-east arch of
the choir, the position originally planned for it by Wren; the tall
outside railing of the churchyard, which, Wren said, dwarfed the base
of the cathedral, has been removed; the mosaics he asked for now
incrust, in shining glory, the central dome; and, if the grand
"baldacchino" he wanted has not been placed in the choir, there is,
instead, a very sumptuous modern reredos. The balustrade that
surmounts the main building was not intended by Wren, but insisted on
by the Commissioners for the building; and its erection caused Wren to
say, not, perhaps, without sly intention: "I never designed a
balustrade; but _ladies think nothing well without an edging_."

This, however, was long ago; Wren sleeps in peace in his cathedral
crypt; and there, on the top of Ludgate Hill, St. Paul's stands,
blackening ever, year by year, yet gaining immeasurably through that
very blackness. It has been said, wittily, that the great church has a
special claim to its livery of smoke, for the reason that a great part
of the cost of its building was defrayed by a tax on all coals brought
into the port of London! And this canopy of solemn black, out of which
the dome, lantern, and golden ball emerge at intervals, in silver and
gold, becomes it well.

     "There cannot," wrote Hawthorne, "be anything else in its
     way so good in the world as just this effect of St. Paul's
     in the very heart and densest tumult of London. It is much
     better than staring white; the edifice would not be nearly
     so grand without this drapery of black."

The ancient monuments of St. Paul's were nearly altogether destroyed
with the old church; Wren's cathedral was inaccessible to any new
monuments for some years, the first admitted to it being that of John
Howard the philanthropist in 1790. This was followed by many others,
chiefly of great warriors, soldiers and sailors; although
ecclesiastics also are numerous, and there is a goodly company of
painters.

     "If Westminster Abbey," said C. R. Leslie, "has its _Poets'
     Corner_, so has St. Paul's its _Painters' Corner_. Sir
     Joshua Reynolds's statue, by Flaxman, is here, and Reynolds
     himself lies buried here; and Barry, and Opie, and Lawrence
     are around him; and, above all, the ashes of the great Van
     Dyck are in the earth under the cathedral."

Turner now lies next to Reynolds. Yet, as a rule, the great
commemorated in St. Paul's are of a different type to those of
Westminster. Both churches are the mausoleums of heroes; St. Paul's
being, however, by common consent the resting-place of the Militant,
Westminster of the Pacific. The statue of Dr. Johnson, under the dome,
opposes that of Howard. Though his dust rests in Westminster Abbey,
the militant spirit of the Sage well deserves commemoration in St.
Paul's. His representation, in the curious art of the time, as a
half-clothed muscular athlete, is appropriately supplemented by that
of Howard, bare-legged, with Roman toga and tunic. The coincidence of
Johnson holding a scroll, and Howard a prison key, has caused the two
to be sometimes mistaken by visitors for St. Peter and St. Paul! But
not all the monumental vagaries are as innocuous as these. Westminster
Abbey does not alone suffer from the bad taste of the Renaissance; a
few of the monuments of St. Paul's are alike trials to the eyes as to
the faith. The naked warriors in sandals, receiving swords from, or
falling into the arms of, smart feminine "Victories,"--_lusus naturae_
with wings protruding from their shoulders,--are, indeed, sad
instances of the too rampant eighteenth-century exuberance of fancy.
Of the monuments, for instance, to Captains Burgess and Westcott,
Allan Cunningham remarks:

     "The two naval officers (Westcott and Burgess), are naked,
     which destroys historic probability; it cannot be a
     representation of what happened, for no British warriors go
     naked into battle, or wear sandals or Asiatic mantles....
     When churchmen declared themselves satisfied, the ladies
     thought they might venture to draw near, but the flutter of
     fans and the averting of faces was prodigious. That Victory,
     a modest and well-draped dame, should approach an undrest
     dying man, and crown him with laurel, might be endured--but,
     how a well-dressed young lady could think of presenting a
     sword to a naked gentleman went far beyond all their notions
     of propriety."

Neither is the ugly group of the Bishop of Calcutta, ogre-like in
size, apparently confirming two Indian dwarfs, at all calculated to
excite any feeling but amusement.

The great cathedral has, nevertheless, also its monumental treasures.
Under the third arch on the north of the nave, is the noble monument
of the Duke of Wellington, by Alfred Stevens; the aged Duke lying,
"like a Scaliger of Verona, deeply sleeping upon a lofty bronze
sarcophagus." One thinks of Tennyson's lines:

  "Here in streaming London's central roar,
   Let the sound of those he wrought for,
   And the feet of those he fought for,
   Echo round his bones for evermore."

And near to him, in the north aisle of the nave, under the tattered
banners of those old regiments that fell in the Crimea, lies, on a
pedestal of Greek cipollino, the recumbent bronze effigy of that
recent recruit to the ranks of dead painters, Lord Leighton of
Stretton. The monument, worthy of the best traditions of art, is by
Brock. The beautiful features of the dead President are composed in a
sublime peace; he "is not dead, but sleepeth"; "yet it is visibly a
sleep that shall know no ending, till the last day break, and the last
shadow flee away." The long robe droops to the feet, the hands that
toiled unweariedly for beauty and for immortal art, now lie motionless
on the breast. The tattered flags that hang above, have, here, too,
their significance,--hanging over one, who in the many-sidedness of
his genius and his interests, was in his time one of the pioneers of
the Volunteer movement. The Leonardo of his age has here a fitting
memorial.

Near to Lord Leighton's fine tomb is that of General Gordon, a bronze
monument and effigy by Boehm. He "who at all times, and everywhere,
gave his strength to the weak, his substance to the poor, his sympathy
to the suffering, and his heart to God" is fitly remembered in death.
When I last saw this monument, on the hero's breast lay a fresh bunch
of violets, on his either side were the symbolic palm branches, and at
his feet a wreath of white flowers. Near by is the imposing bronze
doorway, the "gate of the tomb," erected to Lord Melbourne, Queen
Victoria's first Prime Minister. Of the supporting angels on either
side of the plinth, that on the left, especially, is very impressive.

But the bell calls to service, and the rolling organ-tones resound in
the blue dome, where Richmond's mosaics glitter like diamonds in the
stray gleams of sunshine that glance athwart the abyss. The mosaics,
like all innovations in this ungrateful city, have, of course, run the
gauntlet of abuse, on the ground of smallness and ineffectiveness; yet
the Monreale mosaics, so admired at Palermo, are more or less on the
same scale, and are, also, at a considerable height. But it is
difficult for contemporaries to judge fairly, and Time, no doubt, here
as elsewhere, will kindly do the work of discrimination for us.

In the crypt are the half-destroyed remains of monuments from the
older church, with Nelson's sarcophagus, Wren's simple tomb, and many
others. But, outside St. Paul's, the sunlight still calls us, and,
from the depths of the dim recesses and aisles of the great cathedral,
we regain now the brilliant summit of Ludgate Hill, brilliant with the
noonday spring sun. Now the sounds of many-sided life invade the
repose of death; and a noisy street-organ, playing near Queen Anne's
statue, mingles its note strangely with the cathedral's still pealing
bells. The pigeons, gay in colour, flit down from their homes in among
the blackened garlands, Corinthian capitals, and pediments; it is a
strange and a motley scene. And, down at the bottom of the great
flight of steps that lead from the western portico, the
Twentieth-century visitor will now see a new landmark; for here, cut
deeply into the pavement, is the record of the latest great ceremonial
function of St. Paul's: Queen Victoria's visit here on the sixtieth
anniversary of her reign. Here, on this very spot, surrounded by
Archbishops, priests, and people, the royal and aged lady sat in her
carriage, paying homage to a Heavenly Throne, and receiving, surely,
greater homage than was ever before paid to an earthly one:--

     "On a lovely June morning, in the year 1897, a wondrous
     pageant moved through the enchanted streets of London.
     Squadron by squadron, and battery by battery, a superb
     cavalry and artillery went by--the symbol of the fighting
     strength of the United Kingdom. There went by also troops of
     mounted men, more carelessly riding and more lightly
     equipped--those who came from Canada, Australia, New
     Zealand, and South Africa to give a deeper meaning to the
     royal triumph; and black-skinned soldiers and yellow, and
     the fine representatives of the Indian warrior races.
     Generals and statesmen went by, and a glittering cavalcade
     of English and Continental princes, and the whole procession
     was a preparation--for what? A carriage at last, containing
     a quiet-looking old lady, in dark and simple attire; and at
     every point where this carriage passed through seven miles
     of London streets, in rich quarters and poor, a shock of
     strong emotion shot through the spectators, on pavement and
     on balcony, at windows and on housetops. They had seen the
     person in whom not only were vested the ancient kingdoms of
     England, Scotland, and Ireland, but who was also at once the
     symbol and the actual bond of union of the greatest and most
     diversified of secular empires."[1]

[Footnote 1: _Imperium et Libertas_, by Bernard Holland.]

The inscription, cut, with Roman simplicity, into the broad
paving-stone, runs thus:

  HERE QUEEN VICTORIA
  RETURNED THANKS TO
  ALMIGHTY GOD FOR THE
  SIXTIETH ANNIVERSARY
  OF HER ACCESSION.
               JUNE 22, A.D. 1897.

By how many generations,--for how many centuries,--will these words, I
wonder, be read,--the distant message of Time from the buried
Victorian Era?

Beyond, Queen Anne's statue, in flowing curls and a "sacque" robe,
stands, with some dignity, facing busy Ludgate Hill, and surrounded by
a circular, prison-like grating. Down towards noisy Fleet Street her
gaze wanders; down to where the rumble of many wheels, the sound of
many voices, make a distant murmur like the stormy sea, broken, at
intervals, by a shriek from that most picturesque of railways, the
iron "Bridge of Steam," that, ever and anon, emits a puff of smoke and
a red spark into the general "fermenting-vat," the ingulfing vortex of
life and energy below. For this is the roaring Niagara of London, the
loom of Time, that never ceases, that ever fashions Order out of
Disorder, ever, as by a magician's wand, raises system out of chaos.
Kings, and even thrones, may "pass to rise no more;" but the busy
phoenix-heart of London, like the vestals' fire, must ceaselessly
burn; ever fed, ever renewed, ever immortal, ever young.

     "Lord Tennyson always delighted in the 'central roar' of
     London. Whenever he and I (says his son) "went to London,
     one of the first things we did was to walk to the Strand and
     Fleet Street. 'Instead of the stuccoed houses in the West
     End, this is the place where I should like to live,' he
     would say." He was also fond of looking at London from the
     bridges over the Thames, and of going into St. Paul's, and
     into the Abbey. One day in 1842 Fitzgerald records a visit
     to St. Paul's with him when he said, 'Merely as an enclosed
     space in a huge city this is very fine,' and when they got
     out into the open, in the midst of the 'central roar,' 'This
     is the mind; that is a mood of it.'"--(_Tennyson's Life_, i.
     183.)

[Illustration: _St. Michael's, Paternoster Royal._]

Round about St. Paul's are many and labyrinthine lanes and alleys,
with no less labyrinthine associations. Some of these alleys are, like
Paternoster Row, or St. Paul's Churchyard, by day crowded aortas of
human traffic; others, by strange contrast, are silent and still as
the grave. London is, as we know, full of unexpected nooks of quiet;
and none, in their way, are more sudden and startling than those about
St. Paul's. From busy Paternoster Row, with its array of religious
book-shops of all denominations,--so crowded, and yet so narrow, that
a man on one of its sidewalks can, by stretching, almost grasp the
hand of a man on the other (or could perhaps do so, were it not so
constantly blocked by multifarious traffic),--from noisy Paternoster
Row to the calm of "Amen Court,"--the quadrangle of canons' residences
opening out of it,--what a change! Here, in Amen Court, entered by a
pleasant, sober red-brick gateway, Canon Liddon's last days were
spent; here are quiet, old-fashioned houses looking, in summer, on to
green plots and refreshing shrubs. All this seclusion, and yet the
very heart of London! Warwick Square, close by, is a haven of another
sort; a stony square set round with tall offices; roomy houses,
perhaps formerly residential mansions, with here and there an
attractively carved antique porch, or other relic of the past. It was
under a house in this square, in rebuilding, that various Roman
remains were recently found. In Paternoster Row, at the corner of
"Chapter-house Court," was, in old days, the "Chapter" Coffee House,
where the old medical club of the "Wittenagemot" was held, and where,
later, Charlotte and Anne Brontë came on their first visit to London,
after the successful publication of _Jane Eyre_, to make their real
personalities known to their publishers, in 1848. Two little lonely,
strangely-dressed women they must have seemed!--their only friend the
elderly waiter of the establishment, who no doubt, took an interest in
such unusual visitors. Yet, what excitement must they not have felt in
seeing, for the first time, all that they had read and dreamed of for
years! One is reminded of the story of their brother Branwell, that
unhappy child of genius and temptation, who, at lonely Haworth
Parsonage, knew all "the map of London by heart" without ever having
been there, and who could direct any chance stranger who happened,
going Londonwards, to put up at the remote Yorkshire inn.

"Panyer Alley," the last entry leading into Newgate Street,
commemorates the bakers' basket-makers, or "Panyers," of the
fourteenth century. Here, built into the wall of a modern house and
nearly obliterated, was, till quite recently, a relief of a boy
sitting on a "panyer," with this curious inscription:

  "When Ye have sought
    The Citty Round
      Yet still This is
    The Highest Ground
      Avgvst the 27
          1688."

Close by used to be the tavern called "Dolly's Chop-House," removed in
1883. The views obtained of the Cathedral, down some of these narrow
byways, are very striking:

     "There is a passage leading from Paternoster Row to St.
     Paul's Churchyard. It is a slit, through which the Cathedral
     is seen more grandly than from any other point I can call to
     mind. It would make a fine dreamy picture, as we saw it one
     moonlight night, with some belated creatures resting against
     the walls in the foreground--mere spots set against the base
     of Wren's mighty work, that, through the narrow opening,
     seemed to have its cross set against the sky."

The famous open-air pulpit called "Paul's" or "Powle's" Cross--noted
for so many eloquent and impassioned harangues from mediæval
divines,--for the proclamation of kings,--for the denunciation of
traitors,--used to stand at the north-east corner of the churchyard.
It was a canopied cross, raised on stone steps; a big elm marked its
site until some fifty years back. Open-air services, discontinued
after the demolition of "Paul's Cross," were attempted to be revived
by Wesley and Whitefield; and, even in our own day, an open-air pulpit
is used, in summer, at Trinity Church, Marylebone Road, and largely
attended, as any one who passes by Portland Road Station on Sunday
afternoon may see for himself. Public confession for crime was also
made at "Paul's Cross," and Jane Shore did penance here, as described
by Sir Thomas More. East of St. Paul's, where now a line of tall
warehouses rises, was, until 1884, St. Paul's School, founded in 1509
by Dean Colet, friend of Erasmus, and now removed to new red brick
buildings at Hammersmith; a tablet on one of the warehouses marks its
site. The old fashioned Deanery of St. Paul's,--a homely building, not
unlike a quiet country rectory, with red tiled sloping roofs, and
nearly hidden behind high walls,--is in Dean's Court, just south of
the cathedral. Close by it is St. Paul's Choristers' School, built in
1874 by Dean Church.

Returning to the portico of the north transept, it is pleasant to sit
awhile in St Paul's Churchyard, where the doves coo and the pigeons
flutter. Or if you stand by the iron gate of the enclosure, and raise
your eyes to the blackened walls and columns, you will see, above the
north porch, an inscription on a tablet, perpetuating the memory of
the great builder, "in four words which comprehend his merit and his
fame:" "Si monumentum requiris, circumspice." (If thou seekest his
monument, look around.) "The visitor," says Leigh Hunt, "does look
around, and the whole interior of the Cathedral ... seems like a
magnificent vault over his single body." And, gazing, in this sense,
on the great man's tomb, the burning words of Ecclesiasticus suggest
themselves, read by the Bishop of Stepney at the unveiling of Lord
Leighton's monument:

     "Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat
     us. The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his
     great power from the beginning.... Leaders of the people by
     their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for
     the people, wise and eloquent in their instructions.... All
     these were honoured in their generations, and were the glory
     of their times. There be of them, that have left a name
     behind them, that their praises might be reported. And some
     there lie, which have no memorial ... but ... their glory
     shall not be blotted out. Their bodies are buried in peace;
     but their name liveth for evermore."



CHAPTER V

THE TOWER

  _Prince Edward_: "Did Julius Caesar build that place, my lord?"
  _Buckingham_: "He did, my gracious lord, begin that place;
                      Which, since, succeeding ages have re-edified...."
  _Richard of York_: "What, will you go unto the Tower, my lord?...
                           ... I shall not sleep in quiet at the Tower."
  _Gloucester_: "Why, what should you fear?"
  _Richard of York_: "Marry, my uncle Clarence' angry ghost:
                          My grandam told me he was murder'd there."
                              --_King Richard III., Act iii, Scene 1._

     "Death is here associated, not, as in Westminster Abbey and
     Saint Paul's, with genius and virtue, with public veneration
     and imperishable renown; not with everything that is most
     endearing in social and domestic charities; but with
     whatever is darkest in human nature and in human destiny,
     with the savage triumph of implacable enemies, with the
     inconstancy, the ingratitude, the cowardice of friends, with
     all the miseries of fallen greatness and of blighted
     fame."--_Macaulay_: "_History of England._"

              "Place of doom,
  Of execution too, and tomb."--_Scott._


What Londoner has not, from earliest childhood, been acquainted with
the Tower? In the Christmas holidays it presented, as a "treat," rival
attractions with Madame Tussaud's and the "Zoo." When not presented
under the too-informing care of over-zealous pastors and
masters,--when not imbibed as too flagrant material for that
fly-in-the-ointment, a holiday task,--when not made, in a word, too
suggestive of the unpleasant, but necessary paths of learning,--it
offered great fascinations to the youthful mind. The warders, in their
picturesque "Beefeater" dress, were ever an unfailing joy; the
surprise, indeed, with which I first saw one of these mighty beings
descend from his pedestal, and deign to hold simple conversation with
ordinary mortals, is still fresh in my memory. Then, the towers and
dark passages, up which one could run and clatter joyfully, with all
the entrancing and horrid possibility of meeting somebody's headless
ghost; the attractive thumbscrew, model of the rack, and headsman's
mask, all so appealing to the innocent brutality of childhood; the
very wooden and highly coloured "Queen Elizabeth", riding in full
dress, with a page, to Tilbury Fort; the stiff effigies of the
mail-clad soldiers, in rows inside the White Tower,--the live soldiers
drilling in the sun-lit square outside;--the inspiring music of the
band, the roll of the drum, the flocks of wheeling pigeons; how
charming it all was! My first knowledge of Tower history was derived
from a Cockney nursemaid, who had, I suspect, strong affinities with
the before-mentioned "pretty soldiers" (are not "pretty soldiers,"
by-the-way, usually the first words that London children learn to
lisp?). Tragedies, I knew, were connected with that sun-lit square.
Two beautiful ladies, I was told, had had their heads cut off here by
their cruel husband, a gentleman called "'Enery the Eighth," (I
naturally thought of this "'Enery" as Bluebeard); "because they was
that skittish like, and fond of singin' and dancin' on Sundays, which
'e for one never could abear; and so 'e 'ad their 'eds orf, and grass
adn't never grown on the place sence." Which fact I identified as
true, at least for the time being; though how far grass can grow
through paving-stones, is always matter for speculation. And Mary-Anne
further went on to relate how she "'ad a friend who knew a young woman
who was a 'ousekeeper somewhere here, who 'ad seen 'orrible things in
the way of ghostisses, and 'ad the screamin' 'sterrics somethin'
awful;--quite reg'ler, too,--after it!"

[Illustration: _A Beefeater._]

Yet I myself think that it is a pity to treat the classic Tower on
such familiar terms! It should be approached with respect, and not
merely introduced as a juvenile appendix to Madame Tussaud's! The
charm of the old fortress, as of its immediate surroundings, is, in
any case, only realised in maturer years. This has always been the
riverside stronghold of London. Tradition, and poetic license, name,
indeed, Julius Cæsar as its founder; however that may be, the Romans
probably had a fort here, as Saxon Alfred after them. The White Tower,
or Keep, raised by William the Conqueror, is built upon a Roman
bastion; and Roman relics have been dug up at intervals in its near
precincts. Nevertheless, the Roman tradition here is but visionary;
the interest of the Tower is bound up with the evolution of the
English race. It is the most interesting mediæval monument that we
possess, a still vivid piece of English history; a stranded islet of
Time, left forgotten by the raging tide of surrounding London.

In the Tower precincts,--if you are careful not to choose a Monday or
Saturday, which are free days, for your visit--you may enjoy yourself
in your own way and to your heart's content. The warders,--old
soldiers,--are pleasant and unobtrusive people, with manners of really
wonderful urbanity, considering the very mixed, and generally
unwashed, character, of a large portion of their public. The Tower,
apart from the charm of its lurid and romantic history, is a
picturesque place. In winter, it is somewhat exposed to the elements,
and in summer, owing to its proximity to the Temple of the Fisheries,
it is perhaps a trifle odoriferous; but on a fine spring or autumn
morning,--a spring morning uncursed by east wind, an autumn morning
undimmed by river-mist,--you will realise all the beauty, as well as
the interest, of the place. Part of its attraction lies in the fact
that it is neither a ruin nor a fossil; it is a living place still,
and serves for use as well as for show. In old days by turn palace,
state prison, inquisition, and "oubliette," it is now a barrack and
government arsenal. Its threatening ring of walled towers, witnesses
of so many scenes of blood and cruelty, re-echo now to the merry
voices of little School-Board boys, playing foot-ball in the drained
and levelled moat below; its paved courts and gravelled enclosures
still ring to the tramp of soldiers' feet, but soldiers of a newer and
a more humane era. In days when men suffered cheerfully for faith's
sake, when queens and princes passed naturally to the throne through
the blood of their nearest relations, when self-denial, conscience,
and uprightness of life were reckoned as crimes, the Tower was the
place of doom and death. Here, not only political plotters and state
prisoners, guilty of "high treason," were punished, but also children,
young men and maidens, playthings of an unkind fate, were condemned,
unheard, to an early death. Here, also, at the Restoration, perished,
bravely as they had lived, many of the sturdy and loyal followers of a
bad cause, who might say, with Macaulay's typical "Jacobite":

  "To my true king I offered, free from stain,
   Courage and faith; vain faith, and courage vain."

Later, the martyr annals of the Tower were in a measure defiled by the
introduction of real and noteworthy criminals, and the imprisonment
within its walls of such wretches as the Gunpowder Plot conspirators,
the infamous murderers of Sir Thomas Overbury, and the notorious Judge
Jeffreys. But the desecration of these is past; the Tower has long
ceased to be a State Prison, and the halo of its earlier victims still
is paramount there. The very names of certain localities recall their
tragedies: "Bloody Tower," commemorating the murder of the young
princes, sons of Edward IV., whose bones were found here under a
staircase; Traitor's Gate,--the gate of the doomed,--the grim disused
archway, with a portcullis, looking towards, and in ancient times
opening on to, the river.

The Tower is full of lovely "bits" for the sketcher. The succession of
fine old gates that span the entrance-road, and the ring of encircling
towers called the "Inner Ward," though necessarily restored in places,
have still a fine air of antiquity; which air of antiquity the massive
walls, narrow window-slits, and the close-growing mantle of ivy that,
in places, adds a welcome note of greenery, do much to maintain. The
effect, at any rate, is complete. In the Tower precincts you seem to
be really in mediæval London. Just so, you imagine, in all essentials,
only still grassy and not quite so shut in by houses, must "Tower
Green" have looked on that terrible day so dramatically described by
Froude:

     "A little before noon, on the 19th of May, Anne Boleyn,
     Queen of England, was led down to the green where the young
     grass and the white daisies of summer were freshly bursting
     in the sunshine. A little cannon stood loaded on the
     battlements, the motionless cannoneer was ready with smoking
     linstock at his side, and when the crawling hand upon the
     dial of the great Tower clock touched the midday hour, that
     cannon would tell to London that all was over."

On this same spot, so fatal to youth and beauty, two other young
women,--mere girls, indeed,--died; poor silly Katherine Howard, and,
later, Lady Jane Grey, a child of eighteen,--the "queen of nine days,"
a victim of others' offences,--who "went to her death without fear or
pain." Neither age nor youth were, indeed, spared in those cruel days;
for the grey hairs of the aged Countess of Salisbury, last of the
Plantagenets, were here also brought to the same block. This was the
private execution spot, reserved for special victims and near
relations, in contrast to the public one on Great Tower Hill outside;
the exact place is enclosed, and marked by a square patch of darker
stone. In the little adjoining chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula--the
Prisoners' Chapel,--aptly dedicated to St. Peter-in-the-Chains,--were
buried all these poor dishonoured bodies; Queen Anne Boleyn's, so
short a time ago so loved, so adulated, thrown carelessly into an old
arrow-chest, and flung beneath the altar. This chapel,--which is, by
the way, a royal chapel, and therefore under no bishop's
jurisdiction,--is very much restored, but it has a few good monuments;
and its list of victims, numbered on a brass tablet inside the door,
is sufficiently affecting: "In truth," says Macaulay:

     "there is no sadder spot on earth than this little cemetery.
     Hither have been carried through successive ages, by the
     rude hands of gaolers, without one mourner following, the
     bleeding relics of men who had been the captains of armies,
     the leaders of parties, the oracles of senates, and the
     ornaments of courts."

"No, I can't say I've ever seen any ghosts," said the affable Warder
who showed me the chapel: "though an American family lately, they were
so anxious to see Queen Anne Boleyn's ghost, that they went and sat
opposite the execution-spot, at all hours, day-and-night; but they
must have got disappointed, for I never heard that anything came of
it.... Being from America," he added thoughtfully, "I suppose they
felt they'd like to see all there was to be seen.... No, ghosts don't
trouble us much; we all live in the Towers and round about, and the
worst you can say of our lodgin's is that they're a bit draughty-like,
in winter and spring, having them slits of winders all round. And then
they don't allow you to paper the walls, or stick up a picture nail,
or anything to make the place look a bit homely! One does get a bit
tired, too," he confessed, "of them dark stone walls, and even of
prisoners' inscriptions; but there it is, you mayn't so much as touch
'em, or even cover 'em up.... However," he continued magnanimously, "I
own that we're lucky to live in the days we do; our 'eds is our own,
at any rate!"

Between Tower Green and the outer moat, on the western side of the
gravelled square, are the old-fashioned and comfortable-looking
dwelling houses of the Tower officials; the residences of the
Governor, the doctor, the Chaplain, &c.; houses mainly of darkened
brick,--like the citadel itself,--fitted in between the "Beauchamp"
and the "Bell" towers. The greater part of the fortress is, as we have
seen, utilised as arsenal, barracks, or private dwellings; and thus,
of its many towers, the "White Tower," (the "Keep" of the ancient
castle), and the "Beauchamp Tower," are the only ones now viewed by
the general public; though other antiquities and places worthy of a
visit may, on application to the Governor, be shown to those "really
interested." The Beauchamp Tower, though "restored" in 1854 (when all
its inscriptions were placed together in one room), is still most
interesting. Certainly, the draughts, on a windy day, of that room, go
far to suggest the justice of my friend the warder's complaint. And
the poor prisoners of old days did not know the modern comfort of
"slow-combustion" stoves! Poor creatures! torn by the rack and
torture, crushed by long, hopeless imprisonment, with no friend to
turn to in their need, they have left us, deeply cut into the prison
walls, their most pathetic complaint. Philosophy, on the whole, seems
here to have been of the most availing comfort. Like Socrates, the
wretched victims tried hard to be stoical. "The most unhappie man in
the world," runs one inscription, "is he that is not pacient in
adversitie." Then, in old Norman-French: "Tout vient apoient, quy
peult attendre." "A passage perillus maketh a port pleasant." It was
here, in the Beauchamp Tower, that the five Dudley brothers, sons of
the Duke of Northumberland, were imprisoned for their share in the
Lady Jane Grey rebellion; here are their pictured emblems and
hieroglyphics; also the word "Jane," supposed to have been cut by her
husband, Lord Guildford. To the longer victims of the Tower, time must
have passed hardly. Was it agony of mind that guided the stroke, or
did they find it some solace in their anguish? Poets, philosophers,
men of science, all the best and noblest in the land; hours of solace
after torture, no doubt, were theirs, given by that good Angel who,

  "Brought the wise and great of ancient days
   To cheer the cell where Raleigh pined alone."

Had they books, journals, writing materials? Probably but rarely.
There was Raleigh, who spent such a large part of a chequered life in
prison here, dying here too at last, and writing his "History" with
admirable stoicism, in the face of death. But Lady Jane Grey,
imprisoned in the "Brick Tower," had, we know, to inscribe her last
message to her sister Katherine, on the blank leaves of her Greek
Testament. What vivid, what painful interest would attach to a "Tower"
diary, such as Pepys's, in cipher, could one have been written by any
of these prisoners!

The wonderful collection of historic armour in the imposing "White
Tower" is, even to those who are not connoisseurs on the subject, of
great interest and beauty. It is true that there are a great many very
narrow and steep stone stairs to be climbed; but in the end you are
duly rewarded for your trouble. The ancient chapel of St. John, at the
top of the winding stairway, is most strikingly picturesque, and
especially so on a sunny day, when the light plays among the bare
stone columns. This "most perfect Norman chapel in England" is
striking in its unadorned severity of style; and the stilted horseshoe
arches of its apse are somewhat like those of St. Bartholomew the
Great, at Smithfield. The chapel dates from the year 1078, and has
been the scene of many royal pageants and lyings-in-state. The
Banqueting Hall adjoins it; here are to be seen, among other
curiosities, models of the rack and thumbscrew, and the block used for
the execution of old Lord Lovat, with Lords Balmerino and
Kilmarnock--the last Royalists executed here--in 1745. The hall
contains also much armour and many weapons. Above is the "Council
Chamber," where King Richard II. abdicated his throne in favour of his
cousin Henry Bolingbroke.

"I think men must really have got bigger since these old days,"
remarked a burly policeman, to whom I was communicating my
impressions: "Now, you wouldn't think it, but there's only two suits
of armour in the whole place that I could even manage to get on me,
that's old Henry VIII.'s, and his brother-in-law what's beside 'im,
Charles Brandon, Dook o' Suffolk--you see 'em? over there, in the
middle. Not but what they must have been strong too, of their size, to
bear all that there weight of steel on 'em. I'd be sorry to do it
myself, I know that. It's a wonder they didn't faint, and their poor
horses, too!"

One of the most beautiful pieces of armour in the collection is that
made for Henry VIII. on his marriage with Katharine of Arragon. It is
of German manufacture, with deep and heavy skirts, on the edge of
which is a pierced border, with the initials "H" and "K" entwined in a
true-love knot. This suit of armour is, further, adorned with
elaborate designs, probably from Hans Burgmair or one of his school,
from the lives of St. George and St. Barbara, patron saints of England
and of armourers. In Stuart times the suits of mail, and armour
generally, became less heavy; and vizors and breastplates are often of
open-work; most picturesque of all, perhaps, is the dress of the
link-bearers of Charles I.'s time. The armour, and arms generally, are
kept in a fine state of polish, wonderful to see in a land of fog and
river mist. "The soldiers, you see, they have a turn at the spears and
things when they want a job; but, of course, the armour, and such as
that, is left to two or three people's special business."

There is a certain barbaric splendour about the State vessels and
Coronation jewels, commonly called the "Regalia," kept in the "Record"
or "Wakefield" Tower. These, like the menagerie formerly exhibited
here are separated (and quite as necessarily) from the outer world by
strong railings. This shining treasure of gold-plate and precious
stones recalls the story of Colonel Blood's famous and nearly
successful attempt at robbery, in the time of Charles II., for which
he was, somewhat inconsistently, rewarded by a landed estate and "cash
down." History is a sad series of injustices, and Colonel Blood's
crime was, for reasons of state possibly, suppressed. Certain it is
that the kings of England have not always been above stealing, or, at
any rate, pledging their own treasure.

If the Tower looks a grim enough fortress now, it must have seemed
grimmer still in ancient times, when every murder and cruelty--every
crime that blackens the page of English history--took place within
its gloomy walls. Surely, in old days, the bloody reputation of the
Tower may well have made those shrink and tremble who passed under its
doomed gateways! By the "Traitor's Gate," that waterway now disused,
but which then opened directly on to the river highway, was brought
that living freight of illustrious persons destined here to suffer and
to die:

  "That gate misnamed, through which before
   Went Sidney, Russell, Raleigh, Cranmer, More."

So far, indeed, from being a "traitor's" way, all the valour and
chivalry of mediæval England seem, at one time and another, to have
passed that dreadful gate. Here, the "Lieutenant" or "Constable" of
the Tower, "receipted" the arrival of the yet living bodies of men and
women, soon to be bleeding and dismembered corpses.... Such a
"receipt," given for the person of the condemned Duke of Monmouth,
"the people's darling," is still extant. The "Traitor's Gate" had,
moreover, an added horror; for in its walls are certain loopholes,
through which the Lieutenant of the Tower could watch, unseen, the
prisoner's arrival from his trial at the House of Lord's, and could
ascertain, as he ascended the stone steps, whether the fatal Axe of
Office, carried in front of him, were reversed or otherwise--reversal
signifying death. Here, when Sir Thomas More was being led back to
prison with the reversed axe carried before him, his beloved daughter
Margaret burst through the guarding soldiers and embraced him,
beseeching his blessing--a scene that melted even those stern guards
to tears.

Brutal, indeed, were the age and the time. If Plantagenets, Yorkists,
and Lancastrians were frankly murderous, Tudors and Stuarts had more
refinement of cruelty, dignifying it, more or less, under the name of
law. The accession of each fresh sovereign was the signal for arrests,
life-long imprisonments, and executions. Favourites, now deposed from
favour, paid here the penalty for a few years of feverish greatness;
here suffered not only men of unscrupulous self-seeking, but also
those whose chief fault was, like Cæsar's, ambition, and who were
condemned to answer for it as grievously as Cæsar. Nor did past
affliction teach present mercy. The Princess Elizabeth narrowly
herself escaped a tragic fate in early youth; yet her former
imprisonment in the "Bell" Tower made her scarcely less cruel, in the
after-time, to her real or imaginary enemies. Partly in self-defence,
partly as a question of faith, partly in revenge, both rivals, and
also those suspected of possible rivalry, were effectually suppressed.
Even continuation of the hated race of rivals seemed prohibited. Thus,
Lady Jane Grey's poor sister, Katherine, was imprisoned till her death
for the crime of secret marriage with the Earl of Hertford; Thomas
Howard, Duke of Norfolk, was executed for having aspired to the hand
of the Queen of Scots; Lady Arabella Stuart, James I.'s unhappy
cousin, having married, "with the love that laughs at privy councils,"
Sir William Seymour, was caught while escaping with him through Calais
Roads, and languished here for four years, till her mind left her, and
she died. The elder D'Israeli tells the story:

     "What passed in that dreadful imprisonment cannot perhaps be
     recovered for authentic history; but enough is known, that
     her mind grew impaired, that she finally lost her reason;
     and if the duration of her imprisonment (four years) was
     short, it was only terminated by her death. Some loose
     effusions, often begun and never ended, written and erased,
     incoherent and rational, yet remain in the fragments of her
     papers. In a letter she proposed addressing to Viscount
     Fenton, to implore for her his Majesty's favour again, she
     says, 'Good my lord, consider the fault cannot be
     uncommitted; neither can any more be required of any earthly
     creature but confession and most humble submission.' In a
     paragraph she had written, but crossed out, it seems that a
     present of her work had been refused by the king, and that
     she had no one about her whom she might trust."

Of the few stories of escapes from the Tower, none is more romantic
than that of Lord Nithsdale, saved by his wife's devotion. Failing to
obtain a pardon from King George I. she, in her love and despair,
bethought herself of a desperate plan. Under the pretence of a last
visit, and with the connivance of a faithful servant, she managed to
disguise her husband as her Welsh maid, and got him past the Tower
sentries into safety; the next morning he would have perished with
Lord Derwentwater, "the pride of the North," and the rest of the
Scotch Jacobites.

Yet the Tower, even in mediæval times, was not all tragedy; for here,
from Henry III.'s era, a royal menagerie was kept,--a menagerie of
which the famous "Tower Lions," that existed here up to 1853, were the
eventual outcome. (From the Tower Lions comes originally the phrase,
"to see the Lions," or the sights, of a place.) The beasts are still
commemorated in the Tower by the "Lions' Gate,"--or principal
entrance. The Tower Moat, the broad ditch that encircled the building,
and added to its mediæval impregnability, was drained in 1843, and its
banks are now planted, on the north-east, with a pleasant shrubbery;
through which winds a foot-path with comfortable seats and delightful
views, much enjoyed and appreciated by the very poor. Thus, the old
age of the Tower,--Julius Cæsar's traditional fortress, and the scene
of England's darkest national crimes,--is, as often that of Man
himself, full of benevolence and serenity. Its brutal youth, its
sanguinary middle life, are alike far behind it; and "that which
should accompany old age, as honour, love, and troops of friends," it
may now look to have. And the long roll of the Tower victims, lying,
many of them, in nameless graves, their very bones sometimes
uncoffined; these have at any rate, by their death often achieved an
immortality greater than any they could ever have gained by their
lives. They were, in a sense, as was that old Roman, Marcus Curtius,
sacrifices to their country's gods; for by such throes as overthrew
them, have all nations reached peace and salvation. "I see," they
might, like Sydney Carton, have cried prophetically at the block,

     "I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from
     this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in
     triumphs and defeats, through long years to come, I see the
     evil of this time and of the previous time ... gradually
     making expiation for itself."

Once outside the Tower precincts, all is changed, and you are, again,
in the bustle and the din of modern London. "Great Tower Hill," on the
rising ground north of the Tower, and close to Mark Lane Station, is
hardly an idyllic spot, or one at all suitable to meditation, being
generally much invaded by the shouts of draymen and the rumble of
van-wheels. Close by, in Trinity Square gardens, marked by a stone, is
the spot which for some centuries shared with "Tyburn" the honour, or
dishonour, of being the public execution-place; but, while Great Tower
Hill was mostly the last bourne of political and state prisoners,
Tyburn (the present "Marble Arch"), was reserved for common murderers,
robbers, and their like. England, in those days, must have enjoyed
rare galas in the way of executions! Of that old rogue, Lord Lovat,
beheaded here in 1747, it is recorded, that just before the fatal axe
fell, a scaffolding, containing some thousand persons, set there to
enjoy the spectacle, collapsed, killing twelve of them; a sight at
which, the old man, even at that terrible moment, chuckled merrily,
"enjoying, no doubt, the downfall of so many Whigs."

Trinity Square has still a pleasant, old-fashioned air of seclusion;
although all around and about it are grimy lanes and warehouses,
suggesting the close proximity of wharves and docks. Yet Trinity
Square, like Charterhouse Square, is no longer residential; the look
of "home," of comfortable family life, about its sober brick houses,
is merely a hollow sham; they are mainly offices. Near by is the Royal
Mint, "where," so Mark Tapley informed his American friends, "the
Queen lives, to take care of all the money." At the end of the big,
noisy street called the Minories, leading from the Tower to Aldgate,
rises the tall, black, three-storied spire of St. Botolph's Church,
built by Dance in 1744, on an old site. This church is hardly
beautiful in itself; yet its effect, as seen from the Minories, is
good. The jurisdiction of St. Botolph, always a popular London saint,
is now extended to the tiny Church of Holy Trinity, in the Minories, a
small yellowish building, somewhat like St. Ethelburga in Bishopsgate
Street, with the same kind of abbreviated turret. When you have
succeeded in finding this church (which is difficult, as it is hidden
down a side street off the Minories, and, as usual in London, no
single inhabitant appears to know where it is), you then usually find
it locked, with a saddening notice to the effect that the keys are in
some equally unknown and distant region. Yet you must not despair.
Such drawbacks are inseparable from the pursuit of historical
antiquities in London. It seems, however, a pity to have recently
changed the identity of this small church, thus rendering it still
more difficult to find. Originally, it gave its name to the whole
district; having belonged to an abbey of "Minoresses," or nuns of the
order of St. Clare; the living, and also the name, are amalgamated
with that of St. Botolph, Aldgate, which now possesses also its chief
claim to fame. For, though the little church still possesses some good
monuments, the relic formerly shown here, the dessicated head of a
man, said to be the Duke of Suffolk, father of Lady Jane Grey, is now
removed to the larger church. The decapitated head is certainly
sufficiently ghastly, with the neck still showing the usual first
stroke of the bungling executioner, and the loose teeth, yellow skin,
and mouth with "the curve of agony" to which attention is usually
drawn. The evidence for the head being that of the Duke of Suffolk
rests mainly on the fact that the Church of "Holy Trinity" was the
chapel of the Duke of Suffolk's town-house, and the place whither his
head would naturally be brought after decapitation on Tower-hill.

At No. 9, Minories, over the shop of one John Owen, nautical
instrument-maker, is the figure of the "Little Midshipman," described
by Dickens in _Dombey and Son_. But it is difficult to walk in the
Minories; everywhere crates and cranes seem to threaten you, and paper
from printing offices bristles from windows on to your devoted
head.... This must always have been a noisy quarter. In old days it
was famous for its gunsmiths, as witness Congreve's lines:

  "The mulcibers who in the Minories sweat,
   And massive bars on stubborn anvils beat--"

You leave the Minories without regret, and turn your face again
Citywards. The church of All Hallows, Barking (so called from the nuns
of old Barking Abbey), is further west, in Great Tower Street, close
to the Tower precincts. It is another church that escaped the Great
Fire, and it contains the graves of some of the Tower victims. It has
also some good monumental brasses, one especially, of fine Flemish
workmanship, in the pavement in the centre of the nave. These old City
churches are now most of them well served and tended, the Sunday
services in some of them being much sought after. They are also
probably kept in better repair than in Dickens's time, when,
overgrown, dirty, and isolated in the midst of traffic and bustle,
they struck the novelist only with their weird desolation,--a
desolation as of some sentient and human thing. Thus vividly he
described his feelings while attending service in one of them:

     "There is a pale heap of books in the corner of my pew, and
     while the organ, which is hoarse and sleepy, plays in such
     fashion that I can hear more of the rusty working of the
     stops than of any music, I look at the books, which are
     mostly bound in faded baize and stuff. They belonged, in
     1754, to the Dowgate family; and who were they? Jane Comport
     must have married Young Dowgate, and come into the family
     that way; Young Dowgate was courting Jane Comport when he
     gave her her prayer-book, and recorded the presentation on
     the fly-leaf. If Jane were fond of Young Dowgate, why did
     she die and leave the book here? Perhaps at the rickety
     altar, and before the damp commandments, she, Comport, had
     taken him, Dowgate, in a flush of youthful hope and joy, and
     perhaps it had not turned out in the long run as great a
     success as was expected.

     "The opening of the service recalls my wandering
     thoughts.... I find that I have been taking a kind of
     invisible snuff ... I wink, sneeze and cough ... snuff made
     of the decay of matting, wood, cloth, stone, iron, earth and
     something else ... the decay of dead citizens.... Dead
     citizens stick on the walls and lie pulverised on the
     sounding-board over the clergyman's head, and, when a gust
     of air comes, tumble down upon him."

And, further, with regard to the surrounding bustle and merchandise in
the busy streets:

     "In the churches about Mark Lane there was a dry whiff of
     wheat; and I accidentally struck an airy sample of barley
     out of an aged hassock in one of them. From Rood Lane to
     Tower Street, and thereabouts, there was often a subtle
     flavour of wine,--sometimes of tea. One church, near Mincing
     Lane, smelt like a druggist's drawer. Behind the Monument,
     the service had a flavour of damaged oranges, which, a
     little farther down towards the river, tempered into
     herrings, and gradually toned into a cosmopolitan blast of
     fish. In one church, the exact counterpart of the church in
     the _Rake's Progress_, where the hero is being married to
     the horrible old lady, there was no specialty of atmosphere,
     until the organ shook a perfume of hides all over us from
     some adjacent warehouse."

(The church depicted in Hogarth's _Rake's Progress_ was, however, the
older church of St. Marylebone, now rebuilt.)

The next turning on the right from Great Tower Street is Seething
Lane, leading to Hart Street, noted principally for that ancient
church of St. Olave that was one of the Great Fire's few survivals.
Its little churchyard opens on to the muddy, narrow alley called
Seething Lane, by a picturesque gateway, grimly decorated with carven
skulls; tradition says in the memory of the many plague victims buried
here. Indeed it is a grisly monument of the time when the plague-cart
rumbled in the streets, when a red cross marked the infected houses,
and when the stones echoed to the hoarse and terrible cry, "Bring out
your dead!" Perhaps Seething Lane was less muddy and slummy in Samuel
Pepys's time; for that authority lived here, in a house "adjoining the
Navy Office," where he held the position of "Clerk of the Acts,"--and
surely he was nothing if not fussy. The locality, owing to the
successive distractions of Plague and Fire, cannot have been exactly
peaceful. In his "Diary" entry for January 30th, 1665-6, Pepys says:

     "It frighted me indeed to go through the church, more than I
     thought it could have done, to see so many graves lie so
     high upon the churchyard where people have been buried of
     the Plague. I was much troubled at it, and do not think to
     go through it again a good while."

The quaint names of old London churches are very attractive. This St.
Olave, or Olaf, was a favourite saint of ancient London; he was an
eleventh-century Scandinavian king, canonised because of his zealous
propagation of Christianity among his people. Three other London
churches, in Southwark, Jewry, and Silver Street (the last two no
longer existing), were called after him. The immediate purlieus of St.
Olave's, Hart Street, are not exactly savoury, its proximity to the
river traffic and warehouses making it occasionally somewhat
odoriferous as well as muddy; it were better, therefore, to choose a
fine, dry day for this excursion. It is not always easy to get inside
the church; on week-days, the street seems to be more or less of a
stagnant back-water; and should your fate compel you to find St.
Olave's locked, you may stand and knock all day, but nobody will heed
you; or, if they do heed, will probably put you down as a wandering
lunatic. Nevertheless, St. Olave's should be visited; for its
monuments are many and interesting. Samuel Pepys, as parishioner and
near neighbour, used to attend service here, with his pretty wife; and
Mrs. Pepys's bust, in white marble, erected by her husband, stands on
the north side of the chancel, above her tablet and long epitaph. Poor
Elizabeth Pepys! She was only twenty-nine when she died, and that
long, artificial Latin screed seems all too long and laboured for her
lovely and poetic youth. Perhaps her husband, whose pew faces the
monument, liked during his long widowhood to gaze at that charming
memorial, and--who knows?--to enjoy his fine Latin composition. Pepys
himself was buried here later; his own monument, however, only dates
from 1883, when it was raised by public subscription.

In St. Olave's church occurs that curious and often-quoted epitaph of
1584, inscribed to "John Orgene and Ellyne, his wife":

  "As I was, so be ye;
   As I am, you shall be;
   That I gave, that I have;
   That I spent, that I had;
   Thus I ende all my coste,
   That I lefte, that I loste."

Wandering along Great Tower Street,--and Eastcheap, reminiscent of
Falstaff and Dame Quickly,--we reach the ever-fishy region of the
Monument. The Monument is so tall that it is difficult to see it;
indeed, I cannot tell exactly why the Monument seems always as
difficult of discovery as the middle of a maze; you seem continually
close upon it, and yet you hardly ever reach it. No one can ever
direct the pedestrian to it; though this, indeed, may not be the fault
of the Monument, but simply because the average Londoner never does
know anything about the immediate neighbourhood he inhabits. He has
even been known to live in the next street to the British Museum for
years, and then be ignorant that such an institution exists. Such
superiority to external facts is, no doubt, noble; but it has its
drawbacks. And sometimes the individuals questioned take refuge in a
crushing silence. The last time, indeed, that I myself visited the
Monument, I inquired politely of two fishy youths in turn of its
whereabouts, and received no answer. Possibly this was merely their
courteous way of informing me that they were really too busy to attend
to such trivialities. To return, however, to the deluding Monument:
Dickens, it is true, in _Martin Chuzzlewit_ makes Mr. Tom Pinch and
Miss Pecksniff find their way thither (Tom, having lost his way, very
naturally finds himself at the Monument):

     "The Man in the Monument was quite as mysterious a being to
     Tom as the Man in the Moon. It immediately occurred to him
     that the lonely creature who held himself aloof from all
     mankind in that pillar, like some old hermit, was the very
     man of whom to ask his way.... If Truth didn't live in the
     base of the Monument, notwithstanding Pope's couplet about
     the outside of it, where in London was she likely to be
     found?

     "Coming close below the pillar, it was a great encouragement
     to Tom to find that the Man in the Monument had simple
     tastes; that stony and artificial as his residence was, he
     still preserved some rustic recollections; that he liked
     plants, hung up bird-cages, was not wholly cut off from
     fresh groundsel, and kept young trees in tubs. The Man in
     the Monument was sitting outside his own door, the Monument
     door; and was actually yawning, as if there were no Monument
     to stop his mouth, and give him a perpetual interest in his
     own existence.... Two people came to see the Monument, a
     gentleman and lady; and the gentleman said, 'How much
     a-piece?'

     "The Man in the Monument replied, 'A Tanner.'

     "It seemed a low expression, compared with the Monument.

     "The gentleman put a shilling into his hand, and the Man in
     the Monument opened a dark little door. When the gentleman
     and lady had passed out of view, he shut it again, and came
     slowly back to his chair.

     "He sat down and laughed.

     "'They don't know what a many steps there is!' he said.
     'It's worth twice the money to stop here. Oh, my eye!'

     "The Man in the Monument was a Cynic...."

The charge for the Monument is (I may remark _en passant_), now
changed from a "tanner" to the humble threepence. (Its summit gallery
is now closed in, because of the disagreeable mania for committing
suicide from it.) The original inscription on its pedestal, now
effaced, was a curious relic of religious intolerance; showing, by its
absurd reference to the "horrid plott" of "the Popish factio," the
barbarous and primitive state of popular feeling as late as 1681.
Wherefore it was that, as Pope said:

  "... London's Column, pointing to the skies,
   Like a tall bully, lifts its head and lies."

One must not, however, forget that this attempt to attribute the dire
calamity to private malice must have been infinitely comforting to
the public mind, that ever, even in our own enlightened day, needs a
scapegoat. In still older days, the scapegoats took a more
conveniently personal form, and were usually, as we have seen, brought
to the block on Great Tower Hill: which was, of course, a much simpler
mode of dealing with them.



CHAPTER VI

SOUTHWARK, OLD AND NEW

     "The Thames marks the sharp division between what Lord
     Beaconsfield called 'the two nations.' On one side we have
     our nearest English approach to architectural magnificence;
     on the other there is a long perspective of squalid
     buildings--smoke-begrimed, half-ruinous, and yet not
     altogether unlovely."--_Magazine of Art_, January, 1884.

  "Befel, that in that season, on a day
   In Southwark at the Tabard as I lay,
   Ready to wenden on my pilgrimage
   To Canterbury with ful devout courage,
   At night was come into that hostelry
   Well nine-and-twenty in a company
   Of sundry folk, by adventure y-fall
   In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all,
   That toward Canterbury woulden ride."
                          --_Chaucer: Canterbury Tales._


Near to the fishy and noisy purlieus of the "Monument," London Bridge
crosses the river into Southwark.

London Bridge is the terminus for big ships; from its parapet is seen,
as far as the misty Tower Bridge, a vast city of masts, sails, and
wharves. Big steamers often make this their starting-point for
excursions, and sails of Venetian colour charm the eye. In cold
winters the sea-gulls, flying hither in myriads from the icy North
Seas, come to the Londoner's call, sure of food and welcome, filling
grey sky and silvery river with an ever-changing constellation of
white wings; "a blaze of comet splendour." Wild birds, like children,
know their friends. The sea-gull's wide, downward swoop, so powerful
and so graceful, may be watched here in January from early morn to
dusk; the creatures, poised in serried ranks on the barges and stone
piers, are just as much at home here as on their own northern
pinnacles, and after long sojourn, they become so tame that they will
almost feed from the stranger's hand. It is only, however, during the
severe weather that the sea-gulls' visit lasts; with the first warm
February days they are off again, speeding down the river to their
native haunts.

Close to the foot of London Bridge, on the Southwark side, is the fine
cruciform church of St. Saviour's, lately restored on the lines of the
ancient edifice. This church, which had formerly been much mutilated
by careless and tasteless "restorers," was in long past times the
Norman Priory of St. Mary Overy, and its old nave, of which the
fragments may yet be seen, was built in 1106 by Gifford, Bishop of
Winchester. A century later, another Bishop built the choir and Lady
Chapel, and altered the character of the nave from Norman to Early
English. Then, at the Dissolution, St. Mary Overy was made into a
parish church by Henry VIII., and since 1540, it has been known as
"St. Saviour's." The early Saxon dedication to "St. Mary Overy"
commemorates the romantic story of the rich old ferryman's lovely
daughter, of pre-Conquest times, who, losing her lover by a fall from
his horse, retired into a cloister for life, devoting her paternal
wealth to the founding of a priory. The story is charming, but
somewhat misty; it suggests, however, the advantages accruing to
ferrymen when there were no bridges on the Thames! An ancient,
nameless, ghoul-like figure, in St. Saviour's Church, is still pointed
out as the old ferryman, father of the foundress; but this is probably
traditional. Skeleton-like figures, not representing any one in
particular, were not infrequently placed about in mediæval churches;
in order, perhaps, to bring the congregation to a sufficiently sober
frame of mind, as well as to recall to them their latter end.

St. Saviour's, as it is now, is one of the most striking churches in
London; its interior appeals at once to the eye and to the
imagination. The long aisles are restful and harmonious; the
Early-English architecture is severely pure; the fine effect of the
beautifully-restored nave and transepts is not, as too often in
Westminster Abbey, spoiled by the introduction of ornate tombs and
sprawling angels. The church, restored by Blomfield in 1890-96, is
already a collegiate church, and is worthy to become, as it probably
will, the cathedral for South London. Its level, as is the case with
many ancient buildings, is now considerably lower than the surrounding
ground; a fact testified by the steps necessary to descend into its
precincts from the street, and by the very unpoetic railway, carried
well above it and its adjoining vegetable market (the Borough Market).
For this is a strangely busy and noisy spot to have sheltered for so
long this relic of the Middle Age.

The tombs in the church are mainly in the transepts, and are nearly
all of them interesting. The finely-restored "Lady Chapel," behind the
altar, contains the tomb of Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester,
with a long Latin inscription of 1626; a recumbent painted effigy, on
a black-and-white marble tomb. This Lady Chapel has tragic
associations; it was used in the time of "Bloody Mary" as the
Consistorial Court of Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester; and here those
sturdy martyrs, Bishop Hooper and John Rogers, Vicar of St.
Sepulchre's, were condemned to be burnt (the popular feeling for
Rogers being such as necessitated his removal by night secretly to
Newgate).

The most famous grave in St. Saviour's is that of John Gower, the
fourteenth-century poet, and friend of Chaucer. Here, near the east
end of the north wall of the nave, the effigy of the poet, painted,
like that of Lancelot Andrewes, a figure of striking beauty, lies on a
sarcophagus under a rich gabled canopy. Stow thus describes the
monument:

     "He lieth under a tomb of stone, with his image, also of
     stone, over him; the hair of his head, auburn, long to his
     shoulders but curling up, and a small forked beard; on his
     head a chaplet like a coronet of four roses; a habit of
     purple, damasked down to his feet; a collar of esses gold
     about his neck; under his head the likeness of three books
     which he compiled."

Gower was a rich man for a poet, and gave large sums in his time for
the rebuilding of the church; hence was written the following epigram:

  "This church was rebuilt by John Gower, the rhymer,
   Who in Richard's gay court was a fortunate climber;
   Should any one start, 'tis but right he should know it,
   Our wight was a lawyer as well as a poet."

Gower's three chief works, on which his head rests, are his _Vox
Clamantis_, _Speculum Meditantis_, and _Confessio Amantis_.

Many other curious tombs and epitaphs are in this church. One,
especially, of the latter, a tablet to a little girl of ten, Susanna
Barford,--a child the "Non such of the world for piety and vertue in
soe tender yeares,"--tells how:

  "Such grace the King of Kings bestow'd upon her
   That now shee lives with him a maid of honour."

And in the north transept, there is a curious monument to Dr. Lionel
Lockyer, the pill inventor--a large bewigged, reclining figure of
Charles II.'s time--suffering, apparently, despite his infallible
nostrums, from terrible internal spasms. Perhaps, however, these may
bear some mystic reference to the long accompanying epitaph about
"undying Pills," showing that already in the seventeenth century
advertisement could be strong even in death! Close to Lockyer's tomb
are heaped up a number of strange wooden painted gargoyles or
"bosses," preserved and brought here from the fallen-in
fifteenth-century roof of the nave, some of them bearing most weird
devices. One, conceived apparently in the Dantesque spirit, represents
a giant, or devil, "champing" a half-eaten sinner,--the lower half of
whom, dressed in gaudy colours, projects from the large vermilion
mouth,--in great enjoyment. Other "bosses" show the curious painted
"rebuses" of the period, commemorating a prior's name. The
seventeenth-century monument to the Austin family, also in this
transept, is full of quaint imagery and symbolism. The figures of its
sleeping angels with winnowing-forks, waiting on each side for the
great final harvest, are full of beauty.

"Edmund Shakespear, player," and brother of the poet,--Fletcher,--and
Massinger,--are buried here; three stones in the choir bear their
names; the exact place of their graves is not known.

The church is now well-kept and carefully tended; it is open daily to
the visitor, who may walk about it without let or hindrance. Like so
many other London churches, it has in its time suffered less from the
depredations of the plunderer than from those of the more dangerous
"restorer." As usual, a long period of neglect and decay was followed
by iconoclastic cleaning and setting in order. Generally, for a
considerable time after the Dissolution, the convent churches and
others were left to the tender mercies of the parishioners, who,
naturally, could not always afford to keep them in proper condition;
then abuses crept in, thefts took place; and the disused churches, as
St. Paul's itself, were often degraded to stables, or used as storage
for litter. Then, after long years, the authorities, perhaps, came to
the rescue, and, turning out the encroaching and invading devils, let
in other devils far more wicked, in the shape of so-called
"restorers." Wonder, indeed, is it that so much is left to us! The
"restorers" usually began by whitewashing all the columns of dark
Purbeck marble, blackening the effigies into one uniform tint, and
covering the discoloured carvings of the walls with stucco, for the
better reception of which they even (as may be seen at St. Saviour's)
whittled away bits of fine stone sculpture.

To wander down the "Borough" High Street--that noisy and essentially
modern district,--in search of Chaucer's famous inns, is, alas! more
dispiriting than looking for traces of Dido among the ruins of
Carthage. Here, one can neither look for ghosts, nor feelings of the
past; all is hopelessly covered up and hidden by ugly modern inns,
more ugly modern shops, palaces of modern plate-glass public-houses,
triumphs of early nineteenth-century ugliness in architecture. What
chance, among such, have the poor wandering ghosts of a famous past?
And, since London Bridge, that natural dividing-line of peoples, was
passed, have not the very streets changed in some subtle and
unconscious manner, to a more sordid character; the shops to a more
blatant kind,--even the people to a different and lower type? It may
be partly fancy; yet, is not this often the effect produced by the
"Surrey side"? The big thoroughfare called the Borough High Street, or
more simply, the "Borough"--(this part of Southwark has fairly earned
the right to be called the "Borough," having returned two members to
Parliament for 500 years),--this was the great highway, even in Roman
times, between the city and the southern counties. East of the
Borough, the long, narrow, busy, dirty Tooley Street leads to
Bermondsey; this street is famous for its "three tailors" of the
political legend, according to which they addressed the House of
Commons as "We, the People of England." Here, from mediæval days, was
the only bridge; here, therefore, were, naturally, stationed all the
mediæval inns and hostelries. This way did the "Canterbury Pilgrims"
pass out of London; here they would stop and refresh themselves at the
"Tabard," the "White Hart," and their compeers.... What now remains of
these? The "Tabard," rebuilt in Charles II.'s time, and for long the
finest old house of its kind in London, was burnt down in 1873; it now
only exists in its name, still flaunted bravely above a commonplace
modern inn. The "Queen's Head," the "White Hart," the "King's Head,"
exist now only as hideous railway-yards or equally hideous modern
edifices; the only remaining relic of them all is the "George" Inn,
where a solitary fragment, a long block of ancient buildings, with
picturesque, sloping, dormer roofs, and balustraded wooden galleries,
is yet, by the mercy of the Great Northern Railway Company, spared to
us, to tell of its former glories. The present hosts of the
"George,"--two ladies,--are pleasant, hospitable people, and their
small, dark, panelled rooms are clean and comfortable. They seem,
however, to entertain a mild feeling of boredom for the constant
accession of reverent pilgrims who flock annually to their shrine.
"And it's only for the last few years," the younger lady remarks,
somewhat sadly, "only since the last inn, the 'Queen's Head,' you know
was pulled down, that so many people have come. A great many Americans
... oh, I suppose they come out of curiosity, like; one can't blame
'em. Do people stay here in the summer? Yes, a good few--some business
men, but mostly artists and tourists; it's just curiosity. Then, it's,
'Would you mind if I take a photograph?' or 'Have I your leave to sit
in the yard and sketch?' Do I let them do it?... oh, yes" (with a
sigh), "it doesn't matter to me. I suppose they may be going to put it
in some book or some article; but it's nothing to me.... I never read
the article!"

[Illustration: _Cricket in the Street. The lost Ball._]

If this lady be not a cynic, she at any rate embodies a great deal of
the philosophy of life!

What the other Inns were like, can be more or less seen from this
small portion of one. They have mostly vanished with the march of
progress of recent years, for fifty years ago Dickens could still
write:

     "In the Borough there still remain some half-dozen old inns
     which have preserved their external features unchanged.
     Great rambling queer old places, with galleries and passages
     and staircases wide enough and antiquated enough to furnish
     materials for a hundred ghost stories."

At the old "White Hart," now destroyed, Dickens first introduced to
the world the immortal Sam Weller, as he appeared cleaning the
spinster aunt's boots after that sentimental lady's elopement with the
deceiving Mr. Jingle. These old inns, in the heyday of their prime,
were made still more famous by the open-air theatrical representations
that took place in their balconied courtyards. Toil and trouble, the
eternal struggle-for-life, may be the portion of "the Surrey Side"
to-day, but in Shakespeare's time it was principally noted for its
amusements and its junketings. Now, the chief buildings of Southwark
and Walworth are gaols and asylums, and its best-known localities are
the omnibus terminuses, dignified mysteriously by names of
public-houses,--such as the "Elephant," &c. Even the dramatic tastes
of the people "over the water" are now supposed to be primitive; and
"transpontine" is the adjective applied to melodrama that is too crude
for the superior taste of northern London. Yet here, in Shakespeare's
day, were all the most fashionable theatres--theatres, too, frequented
by all the literary and dramatic lights of the day. Here stood that
small martello-tower-like theatre, the "Globe," the "round wooden 'O'"
alluded to in _Henry V._, where Shakespeare and his companions played;
here also were the "Rose," the "Hope," and the "Swan." And below St.
Saviour's, and its neighbouring Bishops' Palace and park, were the
localities known as "Bankside" and "Paris Garden," the former famous
for its bull and bear-baiting ("a rude and nasty pleasure," says
Pepys), the latter for its theatre, and also for its somewhat
doubtful reputation. There were, of course, a few plague-spots,
inseparable from places of public amusement; but the Southwark of
Elizabeth's day was a centre of national jollity and merry-making.
Open gardens fringed the river-banks, by which flowed a clear and yet
unsullied Thames, and their salubrious walks were the favourite resort
of citizens. Certainly, Shakespeare and his associates would hardly
recognize Southwark now: Messrs. Barclay and Perkins's famous brewery
now covers the site of the Globe Theatre; the ancient gardens have
given place to wharves and warehouses; the fashionable promenade to
railway lines and goods offices; the green turfy banks to streets and
lanes of sticky Southwark mud. And Southwark mud is surely of a quite
peculiar stickiness! The big brewery, covering some twelve acres, is
not exactly an improvement on the landscape. It belonged, in 1758, to
Mr. Thrale, husband of the witty lady whom Johnson loved as a
daughter. And though some among us have, as Dr. Johnson prophesied at
the sale of the brewery in its early days, "grown rich beyond the
dreams of avarice," yet the source of riches is seldom in itself
beautifying.

Winchester House, the ancient palace of the Bishops of Winchester,
stood in Tudor days between St. Saviour's and the river; "a very fair
house, with a large wharf and a landing-place." Here Bishop Gardiner
lived in great state, and here, to please his patron the Duke of
Norfolk, he arranged "little banquets at which it was contrived that
Henry VIII. should meet the Duke's niece, Katherine Howard, then a
'lovely girl in her teens.'" Poor thing! in a short year or two her
head was destined to fall, by the headsman's axe, within the precincts
of the gloomy Tower, on the river's opposite bank! The extent of the
old palace is uncertain; its remains are now nearly all destroyed,
except an old window and arch, built up into the surrounding
warehouses. The name, however, of the "Clink," the prison used by the
Bishops for the punishment of heretics, still exists in the modern
Clink Street. In the same way, "Mint Street," Borough, recalls an
ancient and forgotten mint, established here by Henry VIII. for
coinage; and Lant Street--but Lant Street recalls nothing so much as
Dickens, and his creation Mr. Bob Sawyer. Dickens lived in Lant Street
himself as a boy, while his insolvent family were rusticating in the
neighbouring Marshalsea; hence he knew it well.

[Illustration: _A County Court._]

     "A bed and bedding" (he writes) "were sent over for me"
     (from the Marshalsea), "and made up on the floor. The little
     window had a pleasant prospect of a timber-yard; and when I
     took possession of my new abode, I thought it was a
     Paradise."

"The Crown Revenues," Dickens further adds (in describing the abode
of Mr. Bob Sawyer), "are seldom collected in this happy valley; the
rents are dubious, and the water communication is very frequently cut
off."

If Southwark contained many doubtful characters in Shakespeare's time,
it contains, as Mr. Charles Booth's book shows us, some "black spots"
of crime still! The old Marshalsea and the King's Bench Prisons must
always have been a centre of drifting and shiftless population. All
parts of the "Borough" do not enjoy a thoroughly good reputation; bad
sanitation, overcrowding, all the worst sins of the much-abused "East
End," may here too be seen. "Is any one," asks a recent writer, "ever
young in the Borough? Is not carking care their birthright?" In
crowded Southwark and Walworth, round the "Elephant,"--the mysterious
"Elephant," to which all roads lead,--"aflare, seething, roaring with
multitudinous life," are miserable human rabbit-warrens, where they
even live ten in a room. "Pore, sir," cries Mrs. Pullen (one of the
submerged), "pore! why, the Mint, sir, the Mint, sir, is known for it;
you've 'erd on it your ways, ain't you?" Mrs. Pullen held up her hands
and laughed, as if she was really proud of "the Mint and its poverty."
But, though the Borough children--poor little wastrels--are still
wild,--Education, it seems, is slowly taming them.

Those who are interested in the children of the poor,--and who is
not?--should read Mr. Charles Morley's sympathetic "Studies in Board
Schools," a considerable portion of which refers to Walworth and the
Borough. The redeeming of the infant population of London is surely a
noble work, and nowhere are the parental methods of the Board Schools
so well set forth as in that delightful volume, real with the reality
of life, and, like life itself, something between laughter and tears.
Life has few mysteries for the Borough child, whose garments are
strange and weird, whose voice "soon loses any infantine sweetness it
may possess. Some of the ragged mites of girls of the Borough will
even rap out an oath which would shock your ears who live over the
water. But they mean nothing. It is like sailors' language, only sound
and a little temper. Why, even the chirrup of the Borough sparrow has
a minatory ring about it." Mr. Morley goes on to tell of a kindly
institution dubbed "the Farm House" (strange name in such
surroundings!), where, owing to Mr. G. R. Sims and the "Referee," six
or seven hundred hungry school-children are, like the sparrows and
sea-gulls, fed daily during the long winter:

     "The Farm House" (he says), "is a strange mansion to find in
     the heart of the Marshalsea--just over the way is the site
     of the famous prison. The graveyard of St. George the Martyr
     is now a public garden, grim enough, to be sure, with its
     black tombstones and soot-laden balsam poplars. On one of
     the walls is placed a board on which is printed the legend:
     'This stands on the site of the Marshalsea Prison described
     (or words to this effect) in Charles Dickens's well-known
     novel, _Little Dorrit_.' The Farm House was once the town
     dwelling of the Earls of Winchester. It has an ancient
     time-worn front, a court, mysterious chambers, old oak
     panels upon which you can just make out some of the old
     Winchester ladies and gentlemen; a curious old staircase;
     and I daresay a ghost or two if one went into the matter.
     But for a long time past it has been a common lodging-house.
     Beds in a haunted chamber may be had at fourpence a night.
     Many a strange history could those white-washed walls tell
     if they could speak, I dare say--of the good old days in
     Henry the Eighth's time, and even of more recent years. Many
     a man who began life with the hopefullest prospects has been
     glad to hide his head in the old Farm House, down Marshalsea
     way, Borough."

"Misery," continues this writer, "is strangely prolific; every hovel,
every court, every alley teems with children," "little mothers"
carrying heavy babies, like Miss Dorothy Tennant's tender picture, _A
Load of Care_ ... that heavy, heavy baby, weighing down that tiny,
tiny nurse.... _Nota Bene_: There always _is_ a baby. By the time a
little wool appears on the head of number one, number two appears, and
so on--well, nearly _ad infinitum_. There is no doubt whatever that
babies are the bugbears of the Borough ratepayers."

The Board Schools in these districts teach, it appears, not only "the
three R's," but also housewifery, house-cleaning, cooking, and other
most necessary accomplishments:

     "Housewifery" (says Mr. Morley) "is the birthright of the
     children of the poor.... Every mite of a girl down in the
     East or South ... is a housewife by the time she is six....
     Often enough when times are hard and funds very low--when
     father is out o' work, and mother's bad in bed--does the
     poor little mother set forth with scrubbing-brush in hand,
     and clean the door-steps of the prosperous for twopence or
     threepence, according to the size and number of the steps.
     She probably lights the fire of a morning; it is her delight
     to go shopping to the remarkable establishment where most of
     the necessities of life are to be obtained by the
     farthing's-worth; and with the mysteries of marketing she is
     very well acquainted indeed. You should just see her in
     Bermondsey, the Walworth Road, the Dials, the New Cut, or
     Whitechapel on a Sunday morning, when these localities are
     alive with poor people buying their dinners. Road and
     footpath are blocked with stalls and barrows, and flesh,
     fish, fowl and vegetables are all jumbled together in
     confusion that is apparently inextricable. But little mother
     knows her way about, and whether it is red meat or white
     meat, beef, mutton or rabbit, trust her for getting a
     bargain, for keeping a sharp eye on weight and measure. A
     farden is a farden in districts where a penny is a
     substantial coin of the realm."

The "Surrey Side" is noted for its hospitals, as well as its prisons
and its slums; and of these "Guy's Hospital," on the left of the
Borough High Street,--an eighteenth-century foundation, due to the
wealth of a Lombard Street bookseller named Thomas Guy,--is one of the
most important. This Guy was in his way a miser, and his savings were
vastly increased by dealings in South Sea stock,--showing that some
good, at any rate, was wrought by the terrible "Bubble" that ruined so
many thousands. Yet the hospital narrowly escaped losing the rich
man's bequest. He was on the point of marrying his pretty maid, Sally,
when, his bride offending him by officious interference, he broke off
the marriage, and endowed the present hospital with his great wealth.
A blackened brass statue of the founder stands in the courtyard of the
edifice.

If Chaucer, with his ever memorable _Canterbury Pilgrims_, did much to
immortalise the Southwark of mediæval times, Dickens, the child of a
later era, has done at least as much for the Southwark of his day. In
the Borough High Street, close to the site of the demolished
Marshalsea Prison, stands St. George's Church, chiefly remarkable for
the fact that Dickens has here placed the marriage of his heroine,
"Little Dorrit," the Child of the Marshalsea. This was always a
district of prisons; the natural sequence, one would think, of
Southwark merry-making. Of the two Marshalsea prisons established here
at different times, the earlier, nearer to London Bridge, was
abolished in 1849; the later, so graphically described by Dickens, was
not pulled down till 1887, after having been let for forty years as a
lodging for tramps and vagabonds. Relics of it are now hard to find.
Dickens, who knew it well as a boy, thus describes (in the preface to
_Little Dorrit_) his search for it in later life:

     "I found the outer front courtyard metamorphosed into a
     butter shop; and I then almost gave up every brick of the
     jail for lost. Wandering, however, down a certain adjacent
     'Angel Court, leading to Bermondsey,' I came to Marshalsea
     Place, the houses in which I recognized, not only as the
     great block of the former prison, but as preserving the
     rooms that arose to my mind's eye when I became Little
     Dorrit's biographer.... Whoever goes into Marshalsea Place,
     turning out of Angel Court, leading to Bermondsey, will find
     his feet on the very paving-stones of the extinct Marshalsea
     jail; will see its narrow yard to the right and to the left,
     very little altered if at all, except that the walls were
     lowered when the place got free; will look upon the rooms in
     which the debtors lived; will stand among the crowding
     ghosts of many miserable years."

Dickens's boyish recollections of the ancient debtors prison have, as
was perhaps natural, sometimes more than a tinge of bitterness; here
he passed to and fro during wretched childish years, between the daily
drudgery of covering blacking pots at "Murdstone and Grinby's," down
by Hungerford Stairs. More wretched, indeed, far, than any modern
Borough waif, was this neglected and sensitive child of genius. The
intense torture of his degradation (as he thought it) was never wholly
forgotten. In this connection he tells (in Forster's _Life_) a
pathetic little story. No boy at the blacking office, it seems, knew
where or how he lived; and once, being taken ill there, and helped
towards home by a kindly fellow-worker, the child Dickens said
good-bye to his friend by Southwark Bridge:

     "I was too proud" (he says) "to let him know about the
     prison; and after making several efforts to get rid of him,
     to all of which Bob Fagin in his goodness was deaf, shook
     hands with him on the steps of a house near Southwark-bridge
     on the Surrey side, making believe that I lived there. As a
     finishing piece of reality in case of his looking back, I
     knocked at the door, I recollect, and asked, when the woman
     opened it, if that was Mr. Robert Fagin's house."

While the boy suffered thus acutely, his father lived on in a
Micawberish way at the Marshalsea, being merely of the amiable,
shiftless, idle genus that drags its family down. For the rest, they
did well enough at the Marshalsea: "The family," the son wrote, "lived
more comfortably in prison than they had done for a long time out of
it. They were waited on still by the maid-of-all-work from Bayham
Street, the orphan girl from Chatham workhouse, from whose sharp
little worldly, yet also kindly, ways I took my first impressions of
the "Marchioness" in _The Old Curiosity Shop_."

Yet Destiny works in strange and devious ways, and all the while, if
he had only known it, the Fates were conspiring for Charles Dickens's
good. It was the father's misfortunes that really taught the boy all
he needed to learn. Here, amid the unsavoury purlieus of the prison,
he unconsciously studied all the types and localities of which he was
to make such wonderful use in after-life. The Marshalsea and its ways;
Lant Street and Bob Sawyer; "Tip," "of the prison prisonous, and of
the streets streety"; Sam Weller at the "White Hart;" Nancy at London
Bridge Steps; Sikes and Folly Ditch; with a hundred others,--were,
more or less, to be the outcome of that time.

The glamour of a romantic past, the spirit of Chaucer and of
Shakespeare, may still attach to Southwark; the playhouses and
gaieties of Elizabeth's time may yet leave some faint record there;
but it is, after all, by another of Fate's strange ironies, the Child
of the Marshalsea, the boy brought up in wretchedness and squalor, who
has glorified by his genius the place, the whole district, where he so
suffered in early youth. Other and greater men have told London's
history in the past; but Dickens, whose grave is still faithfully
tended in Westminster Abbey while those of the mightier dead are long
forgotten, Dickens, who cared everything for the lower, warmer phases
of humanity; Dickens, to whom every grimy London stone was dear, and
every dirty cockney child a creature of infinite possibilities;
Dickens, whose name will be ever dear to the faithful Londoner; is the
modern chronicler of the great city.



CHAPTER VII

THE INNS OF COURT

     "The perplexed and troublous valley of the shadow of the
     law."--_Dickens._

                            "those bricky towers,
  The which on Thames' broad aged back doe ride,
  Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers,
  There whilom wont the Templar knights to bide,
  Till they decayed through pride."--_Spenser._


Among the by-ways that open suddenly out of the highways of London,
are there any more attractive than the Inns of Court? which, in an
almost startling manner, bring into the whirl of Holborn, and the din
of Fleet Street, something of the charm of an older and more peaceful
world. No parts of London are more delightful, and few call up more
interesting historic associations. Picturesque and charming old
enclosures,--full of that mysterious and intangible "romance of
London" that appealed so strongly to writers such as Lamb, Dickens,
and Nathaniel Hawthorne,--the Inns of Court have in their time
sheltered many great men. How strange and how unexpected, in the very
heart of busy London, are these quiet old-world quadrangles, of calm,
collegiate aspect, of infinite peace; a peace that seems perhaps more
intense in contrast with the outside, just as the London "close" of
greenery seems all the greener for its being set amid the surrounding
grime, shining "like a star in blackest night." Historic houses,
indeed, in every sense, are these old Inns, with their worm-eaten
wooden staircases, worn into holes by the passage of countless feet;
their panelled walls inscribed with many names; their floors often
crazy and slanting as the decks of a ship in mid-ocean. Even the
so-called "laundresses" who act as caretakers and servants in these
establishments, seem as though they belonged to former centuries, and
were, in a manner, impervious to the flight of time. Many have been
the noted residents in the Inns; the most noted, perhaps, of those in
the Temple are Fielding, Charles Lamb, and the poet Cowper; Dr.
Johnson lived once in Staple Inn, writing _Rasselas_ there "in the
evenings of a week," to defray his mother's funeral expenses. Surely,
if ghosts ever walk, they must walk in these historic abodes. It was
my lot lately to search for rooms in one of the Inns (I will not
invidiously specify which). The rooms were romantic enough, at a
cursory glance; further investigations revealed, I regret to say, the
fact that romance was depressingly dark, as well as unduly favourable
to rats, mice, and the unholy black-beetle; to say nothing of a
general and indescribable musty smell.

"How long have these rooms been vacant?" I inquired, with some faint
show of cheerfulness, of the frowsy "laundress," a Dickensy lady with
an appalling squint and a husky voice suggestive of the bottle.

"W'y, not to say long, 'm. On'y a year come nex' Wensday. Though not
to deceive you 'm, the larst gempleman as lived 'ere, 'e give the
place a bad name."

"What did he do?" I inquired, startled.

"W'y, 'e had the 'orrors dreadful; 'e did away with 'isself; _that's
where it is_" (with increased huskiness).

I looked tremblingly at the panelled walls, the blackened ceiling, the
faded carpet. Was it fancy, or did I see a darker patch in the
threadbare web, and the shadow of a dusky Roman pointing from the
ceiling (as in Dickens's murder of Mr. Tulkinghorn) threateningly at
that darker stain? "'Orrors"! I thought; and no wonder! Romance, rats,
and old panelling are, no doubt, beautiful in their way; but hardly
suitable to prosaic, everyday life.

It is, perhaps, in these old Inns, that, more than anywhere else in
London, the past is linked with the present. Much the same did they
look, their red brick perhaps a trifle less charmingly darkened by
time, in the days when fair ladies and gallant gentlemen walked in
their green plots, the ladies in the quaint clinging dresses of the
Georgian era, the gentlemen in the gay lace ruffles and knee-breeches
of that picturesque period in dress. If London stones could speak,
what stories could they tell! The old elm trees, planted by Bacon
(Lord Verulam) that shade so charmingly the cool green sward of Gray's
Inn, were comparatively youthful when Mr. Pepys walked with his
lady-wife in that historic enclosure "to observe the fashions of the
ladies, because of my wife making some clothes." Time enough, surely,
for the trees to have developed a quite Wordsworthian seriousness!
There were many rooks in these gardens; but these have lately
disappeared, owing, thinks Mr. Hare, "to the erection of a corrugated
iron building near them some years ago"! Possibly Mr. Hare credits the
rooks with an æsthetic feeling for beauty!

Charles Lamb, that "small, spare man in black,"--who, with his saddest
of life-histories, his patient devotion and fortitude, ill deserved
Carlyle's crude vituperation,--was a great devotee of the Inns, and
especially of the Temple, his birthplace. It was in Little Queen
Street, off Holborn, that the early tragedy happened that saddened all
his life; the murder of his mother by the hand of his dearly-loved
sister, in a fit of insanity. After this terrible occurrence, the
brother took his sister Mary into his charge, never after to part from
her, except only for her occasional necessary periods of restraint in
an asylum. In Colebrook Row, Islington, where Lamb retired on his
emancipation from the India Office, was the last abode of this devoted
couple; and here occurred the pathetic incident recorded by a friend,
that of the brother and sister walking across the fields towards the
safety of the neighbouring asylum, hand-in-hand, like two children,
and weeping bitterly.

[Illustration: _Pepys and his Wife._]

The Temple, so beloved of Charles Lamb, is the most widely known of
all the Inns; being the largest, and in some ways the most attractive.
Its garden-lawns slope gently and pleasantly towards the river; and
its quaint, time-honoured, and beautiful old squares have the added
charm of a long and romantic history. For here once was the stronghold
of the Knights Templars, that powerful fraternity, so masterful in the
picturesque Middle Ages; and, though the only substantial relic of
them that yet exists here is the old Temple Church, their memory still
lingers about these courts and gateways, adorned with their arms. And
Charles Lamb,--the real child of the Temple,--has, though born at a
later time, invested the place with a double charm. Born in 1775, in
Crown Office Row, his father servant to a Bencher of the Inner Temple,
the boy, from his earliest years, breathed in the poetry and romance
of his surroundings. Has not his touching description of a childhood
spent here almost the dignity of a classic?

     "I was born" (he says), "and passed the first seven years of
     my life, in the Temple. Its church, its halls, its gardens,
     its fountain, its river, I had almost said--for in those
     young years, what was this king of rivers to me but a stream
     that watered our pleasant places?--these are my oldest
     recollections.... What an antique air had the now almost
     effaced sun-dials, with their moral inscriptions, seeming
     coevals with that Time which they measured, and to take
     their revelations of its flight immediately from heaven,
     holding correspondence with the fountain of light! How would
     the dark line steal imperceptibly on, watched by the eye of
     childhood, eager to detect its movement, never catched, nice
     as an evanescent cloud, or the first arrests of sleep!

  "Ah, yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand,
   Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived!"

In the Temple Gardens, which, mercifully enough, have never yet been
threatened with being built over, the famous annual flower-shows are
held. To these gardens, where the Red Cross Knights walked at eve,
where the gallants of Tudor and Stuart times paraded their powder and
ruffles, are now yearly brought all the English flowers that skill can
grow. In May and June, the wide green expanse becomes a bower of
roses; in late autumn it is the chrysanthemums, the special flowers of
the Temple, that have their turn. Chrysanthemums are London's own
flowers, and care little for soot; as for the roses, they are brought
hither in masses from the country, "to make a London holiday." And,
surely, never were seen such blooms as at these annual rose-shows! A
Heliogabalus would indeed be in his glory. Every year new flowers, new
combinations of colour, of shape are invented; and garden-lovers
congregate, compare, and copy. Roses will not now deign to grow in
London soot and smoke; yet the Temple Gardens once were famed for
their own roses, and here, where now the flower-shows are held, once
grew, according to Shakespeare, in deadly rivalry, the fatal white and
red roses of York and Lancaster. He makes Warwick say, in _King Henry
VI._:

                          "This brawl to-day,
  Grown to this faction in the Temple Garden,
  Shall send, between the red rose and the white,
  A thousand souls to death and deadly night."

There are many sun-dials in the Temple Gardens, a fact which seems to
suggest that the average amount of sunshine yearly registered in the
City was considerably greater in the old days, when, also, possibly,
for belated roysterers too often

            "The night was senescent,
  And star-dials pointed to morn,
  And the star-dials hinted of morn,"

as in Poe's mystic poem. That occasion, for instance, commemorated in
the _Quarterly Review_ for 1836, when, on some festival held at the
Inner Temple, less than seventy students consumed among them
thirty-six quarts of richly-flavoured "sack," a potent beverage, only
supposed to be "sipped" once by each!

The mottoes on the Temple sun-dials are varied and curious. "Pereunt
et imputantur," is inscribed on one in Temple Lane; in Brick Court it
is "Time and Tide tarry for no man"; in Essex Court, "Vestigia nulla
retrorsum"; and opposite Middle Temple Hall, "Discite justitiam
moniti."

The Middle Temple, divided from the Inner Temple by Middle Temple
Lane, is the more picturesque of the two Inns. Among its labyrinthine
courts and closes, the most charming is "Fountain Court," well known
to lovers of Dickens. The great writer has caught the spirit of the
place; where in London, indeed, has he not done so? He is, _par
excellence_, the novelist of the city in all its aspects, human,
topographical, artistic, historical. In a few lines, with magic touch,
he gives you a lasting impression. He makes Ruth Pinch come to meet
her brother in this court:

     "There was a little plot between them, that Tom should
     always come out of the Temple by one way; and that was, past
     the fountain. Coming through Fountain Court, he was just to
     glance down the steps leading into Garden Court, and to look
     once all round him; and if Ruth had come to meet him, then
     he would see her; ... coming briskly up, with the best
     little laugh upon her face that ever played in opposition to
     the fountain, and beat it all to nothing.... The Temple
     fountain might have leaped up twenty feet to greet the
     spring of hopeful maidenhood, that in her person stole on,
     sparkling, through the dry and dusty channels of the Law;
     the chirping sparrows, bred in Temple chinks and crannies,
     might have held their peace to listen to imaginary skylarks,
     as so fresh a little creature passed."

Then, when the lover, John Westlock, comes one day:

     "Merrily the fountain leaped and danced, and merrily the
     smiling dimples twinkled and expanded more and more, until
     they broke into a laugh against the fountain's rim and
     vanished."

In this court, too, is Middle Temple Hall, a fine Elizabethan edifice
of 1572, with a handsome oak ceiling, its windows emblazoned with the
armorial bearings of the Templar Knights. This Hall was already in
Tudor times famous for its feasts, masques, revelries; here
Shakespeare's _Twelfth Night_ was performed in 1601, before the queen
and her splendid court; "the only locality remaining where a play of
Shakespeare's was listened to by his contemporaries." Even in winter
Fountain Court is pretty, and its ivied trellises and arches are well
kept and tended; a lovely view, too, may be enjoyed from it, down over
the verdant grass slopes of "Garden Court" towards the silvery river
far below. Lucky, one thinks, are those fortunate beings who have
"chambers" in Garden Court! poetically named, and the reality still
more charming than the name! More ornate and less attractive, though
delightfully placed, are the modern buildings of "Temple Gardens."

Bits of old London, unchanged for centuries, crop up continually in
the Temple precincts, and recall the time when this was a city of
timbered houses of tortuous, overhanging, insanitary alleys and lanes,
easily burned, almost impossible indeed to save when once threatened
by fire. Small wonder, indeed, that the great fire of 1666 destroyed
so much of the Temple! Middle-Temple-Lane, narrow, crooked, dark, is
one of these relics of the past. Here are some picturesque old houses
of lath and plaster, with overhanging upper floors, and shops beneath
stuffed with law stationery and requirements; the houses somewhat
crumbling and dilapidated, and "with an air," like Krook's shop in
_Bleak House_, "of being in a legal neighbourhood, and of being, as it
were a dirty hanger-on and disowned relation of the law." Every now
and then, about the Temple, in odd and unexpected nooks and corners,
you come upon the arms of the Knights Templars; in the Middle Temple
it is the Lamb bearing the banner of Innocence, and the red cross, the
original badge of the order; in the Inner Temple,--the winged
Pegasus,--with the motto, "Volat ad astra virtus." This winged horse
has a curious history; for, when the horse was originally chosen as an
emblem, he had no wings, but was ridden by two men at once to indicate
the self-chosen poverty of the brotherhood; in lapse of years the
figures of the men became worn and abraded, and when restored were
mistaken for wings!

Middle-Temple-Lane is entered from Fleet-Street, just beyond the
Temple-Bar Griffin and the imposing mass of the New Gothic Law-Courts,
by a dull red-brick gateway, erected by Wren in 1684; and the Inner
Temple by an archway under a hairdresser's shop, which shop is
inscribed somewhat romantically as "the palace of Henry VIII. and
Cardinal Wolsey." (As a matter of fact it was built in James I.'s
time, and belonged to Henry, Prince of Wales; it subsequently became
"Nando's Coffee-House.") These picturesque, unassuming archways bear
the special arms of each Inn, and here, by the winged horse, a wit
once wrote the following "pasquinade:"

  "As by the Templar's hold you go,
     The horse and lamb displayed
   In emblematic figures show
     The merits of their trade.

  "The clients may infer from thence
     How just is their profession:
   The lamb sets forth their innocence,
     The horse their expedition."

But the main interest of the Temple lies in its ancient church, St.
Mary's, where in the Middle Ages the Knights Templars worshipped in
their strength, and where their effigies, stiff and mailed and
cross-legged, as befits returned crusaders, lie until the judgment
day. The soldier-monks are gone, their place knows them no more; yet,
like their more peaceful brethren and neighbours, the Carthusians,
their spirit still inspires their ancient haunts. The Temple Church,
begun in 1185, was one of the four round churches built in England in
imitation of the Round Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem,
after the Templars' return from the first and second crusades;
mercifully escaping the Great Fire, it has not entirely escaped the
hardly less dangerous ravages of the "restorer." Through a fine Norman
arch, under the western porch, the Round Church of 1185 is entered. In
architecture it is Norman, with a leaning to the Transition style, and
very rich in decoration. Hence, through groups of Purbeck marble
columns, you look into the choir, a later addition of 1240, in the
Early English style, with lancet-headed windows and a groined roof.
"These two churches," says Mr. Hare, "built at a distance of only
fifty five years from each other, form one of the most interesting
examples we possess of the transition from Norman to Early English
architecture."

In the Round Church are nine monuments of Templars, of the 12th and
13th centuries, sculptured out of freestone, recumbent, with crossed
legs, and in complete mail, except one, who wears a monk's cowl. They
are probably the "eight images of armed knights" mentioned by Stow in
1598: some few are thought to be identified. Strange, unearthly
objects! relics of a bygone order and a vanished faith,--silent
witnesses of centuries' changes,--figures ghostly in the twilight of a
London winter's day:--effigies of warriors, faithful in the life and
unto the death that they knew, recalling Spenser's lines:

  "And on his breast a bloudie cross he bore,
     The deare remembrance of his dying Lord,
   For whose sweet sake that glorious badge he wore,
     And dead, as living, ever Him adored.
     Upon his shield the like was ever scored,
   For sovereign hope which in his help he had."

Records of the severity of the Order are not wanting. Here, opening
upon the stairs leading to the triforium, is the "penitential cell"
(of such painful abbreviation that the prisoner could neither stand
nor lie in it), with slits towards the church so that mass might still
be heard. Here the unhappy Walter le Bacheler, Grand Preceptor of
Ireland,--for disobedience to the all-powerful Master,--was starved to
death, and hence also, most likely, culprits were dragged forth naked
to be flogged publicly before the altar. Priests, in the robust Middle
Ages, did not always err on the side of mercy or humanity!

The preacher at the Temple Church is still named "the Master," as
being the successor of the Masters of the Templars. Hooker and
Sherlock both held the office, and now Canon Ainger is the most modern
representative of the "Grand Master," that dread mediæval potentate.
During the Protectorate, however, the order of succession must, one
thinks, have fallen into some contempt; for the church became greatly
dilapidated, and the painted ceilings (according to the usual Puritan
barbarism) were whitewashed, though the effigies themselves mercifully
escaped destruction. Lawyers, also, used formerly to receive their
clients in the Round Church (as it was their custom to do at the
pillars in St. Paul's), occupying their special posts like merchants
on 'Change. And thus, that thorough restoration of the church in
1839-42, which antiquaries so deplore, was no doubt very necessary.

Long might one linger over the Temple and its many associations. Even
the names of its mazy courts recall old stories, as well as their
sometime dwellers. Johnson's Buildings where the old Doctor lived at
one time; Brick Court, where poor, improvident Goldsmith lived, and
died, as he had lived in debt and difficulties: Inner-Temple-Lane,
where Charles Lamb lodged, and wrote: "The rooms are delicious, and
Hare's Court trees come in at the window, so that it's like living in
a garden." Garden Court (now rebuilt), where Dickens's "Pip" lived;
"Lamb Court," with the shades of Thackeray's Warrington, Pen, and
Laura. Tanfield Court, less pleasantly, recalls a murder, that of old
Mrs. Duncomb, killed by a Temple laundress; the murderess sitting,
dressed in scarlet, to Hogarth for her portrait, two days before her
execution. Then there is King's Bench Walk, where Sarah, Duchess of
Marlborough, came as client, and was so disgusted at finding her legal
adviser absent: "I could not tell who she was," said the servant,
reporting the visit to her master, "for she would not tell me her
name, but she swore so dreadfully that I am sure she must be a lady of
quality."

But the Temple sundials are sternly marking the time, and we must tear
ourselves away from the historic precincts. The day is waning, and all
too soon Embankment and gardens, river and sky, will have changed, by
some mysterious alchemy, to a "nocturne" of silver and gold. Let us
hasten back into the din of Fleet Street and the Strand.

Holywell Street, with its tempting book-shops, is now a thing of the
past; and, for the constant Londoner, the bearings of the Strand world
have changed much of late. But Wych Street still remains, and behind
it is the archway into New Inn, a quaint and forsaken place,
resembling, not merely a backwater, but a stagnant pool, really
forgotten by the busy tide of life around it. New Inn lies in that
curious and debatable region between the Strand and the district of
Clare-Market; but it is so secluded that one might well live in London
all one's life and never know of it. There is a certain not
unpicturesque squalor about New Inn and its purlieus; it has, like so
many of these places, a pathetic air as of having seen better days.
Possibly, New Inn sees only too well the fate that awaits it, in the
towering red-brick offices close by, that once were old Clement's Inn!
"Will they 'talk of mad Shallow yet' in Clement's Inn? Alas! I fear
that the dwellers in the new mansions will read little of the old
traditions of the site"! "To New Inn," says Seymour (in his _Summary
of London_, 1735), "are pleasant walks and gardens;" and still a few
sickly patches of grass survive, as well as a saddened greenhouse,
relic of a happier time! Yet the "dusty purlieus of the Law" still, in
spite of the builder, keep up, in a manner, their gardening
traditions. Even the massive new "Record Office" does not disdain its
little strip of garden, and makes praiseworthy attempts to grow turf
and ground-ivy borders, to refresh the wanderer down Chancery Lane.

In and about Chancery Lane are several more of these small Inns, both
past and present. "Symond's Inn," so sympathetically described by
Dickens in _Bleak House_, as the lair of Mr. Vholes, the grasping
Chancery lawyer, is typical of many of these rusty and decaying nests.
Symond's Inn, indeed, no longer exists. "Chichester Rents," west of
Chancery Lane, marks its forgotten site; but the portrait,--slightly
caricatured, like all Dickens's sketches,--is very suggestive:

     "The name of MR. VHOLES, preceded by the legend GROUND
     FLOOR, is inscribed upon a doorpost in Symond's Inn,
     Chancery Lane: a little, pale, wall-eyed, woebegone inn,
     like a large dust-bin of two compartments and a sifter. It
     looks as if Symond were a sparing man in his day, and
     constructed his inn of old building materials, which took
     kindly to the dry rot and to dirt and all things decaying
     and dismal, and perpetuated Symond's memory with congenial
     shabbiness. Quartered in this dingy hatchment commemorative
     of Symond, are the legal bearings of Mr. Vholes.... Mr.
     Vholes's office, in disposition retiring and in situation
     retired, is squeezed up in a corner, and blinks at a dead
     wall. Three feet of knotty-floored dark passage bring the
     client to Mr. Vholes's jet-black door, in an angle
     profoundly dark on the brightest midsummer morning, and
     encumbered by a black bulkhead of cellarage staircase,
     against which belated civilians generally strike their
     brows. Mr. Vholes's chambers are on so small a scale, that
     one clerk can open the door without getting off his stool;
     while the other, who elbows him at the same desk, has equal
     facilities for poking the fire. A smell as of unwholesome
     sheep, blending with the smell of must and dust, is
     referable to the nightly (and often daily) consumption of
     mutton fat in candles, and to the fretting of parchment
     forms and skins in greasy drawers. The atmosphere is
     otherwise stale and close. The place was last painted or
     whitewashed beyond the memory of man, and the two chimneys
     smoke, and there is a loose outer surface of soot
     everywhere, and the dull, cracked windows in their heavy
     frames have but one piece of character in them, which is a
     determination to be always dirty, and always shut, unless
     coerced."

Indeed, the whole region of the law, in its by-ways, and smaller Inns,
is altogether suggestive of _Bleak House_. Dickens, a kind of Sam
Weller himself in his knowledge of London, knew all the Inns well,
living in several of them. He is a faithful chronicler, with this
reservation, that he has no eye for the picturesque interest, but is
all eye for the human. Were these places dirtier in Dickens's time?
That can hardly be. Why, one reflects, is there a kind of tradition in
such things? even as regards the eternal cats and the equally eternal
"laundresses"? (called so, presumably, because they never seem to
wash!) Why are the window panes, apparently, never, never, cleaned?
Has never any one come here with a love of cleanliness for its own
sake, or with a yearning for clean windows, to these Inns?

See, for instance, the corner of old Serjeants' Inn, where it joins
Clifford's Inn! It positively caricatures even Dickens. Black,
suggestively gruesome as a picture by Hogarth; yet, amid all its dirt,
still picturesque; everywhere neglect, rust, grime; windows suggestive
of anything but light, broken and stuffed with dirty paper; no sign of
life (it being Saturday afternoon), but one old half-starved tabby
cat, moved out of her wonted apathy by hearing the welcome voice of
the cats' meat boy in neighbouring Chancery Lane! Is she the aged
pensioner of some departed inhabitant, and does she, perchance, hope
to steal, unperceived, some scrap from that unsavoury basket? As she
slinks along the outer railings of the Clifford's Inn enclosure, and
across the irregular cobble-stones of the court, one notices that what
is by courtesy termed a "garden" is merely a cat walk. It is a
railed-in garden of desolation, its turf long ago forgotten, its
gravel-paths even obliterated, a dingy strip of earth under a few
mangy trees. Surely, nobody can have entered that rusty gate for at
least a hundred years! It might be the garden of the "Sleeping
Beauty," or at least a London edition of that lady. Poor, deserted
closes! bits of vanishing London! The tide of progress will remove you
altogether ere long, and build huge blocks of clean, if unromantic,
"Chicago" edifices in your place. Yet, their dirt and desolation
notwithstanding, can we not almost find it in our hearts to regret
these London byways of a past age?

Perhaps Clifford's Inn may yet maintain some transmitted gloom from
the fact that here used to live the six attorneys of the Marshalsea
Court, "which rendered," says a chronicler, "this little spot the
fountain-head of more misery than any whole county in England." A
grimy archway, piercing the buildings of Clifford's Inn, and adorned
(?) by a ramshackle hanging lamp, leads through another tiny courtyard
to the adjoining Fleet Street. In such crowded city byways,
"businesses," and things, and people, are often in the strangest
juxtaposition. It seems as if every possible trade and profession had
made up its mind to live, in deadly rivalry, within the same few cubic
feet of mother earth. Here, for instance, a smart kitchen,
well-appointed, with shining pots and pans, looks straight into the
windows of a dirty law-stationer's; there, a printing-press rumbles,
cheek-by-jowl with a Fleet Street tea-shop; here a theatre stage-door
ogles, at a convenient distance, the inviting back entrance of a
pawnshop (both of them discreetly placed in a retiring side-alley);
and there, the much populated "model" looks across, somewhat
yearningly, to some cat-ridden and rusty desolation, that has got,
somehow or other, "into Chancery," or some such equivalent for
oblivion and decay. And, between the Fleet Street entrance to
Clifford's Inn and Chancery Lane, rises, in strangest medley of all,
the blackened height of St. Dunstan's in-the-West, a rebuilding of
1831, by J. Shaw, on an ancient site. Its tall tower is effective, but
the body of the church has a somewhat abbreviated air, being tightly
sandwiched in between the new buildings of "Law Life Assurance" on one
side, and the _Dundee Advertiser_, &c., on the other.

The two famous wooden giants on the old church of St. Dunstan's, that
used to strike the hours, are now removed to a villa in Regent's Park.

Between Chancery Lane and Holborn, many important rebuildings and
extensions have been made of recent years; imposing new edifices have
been raised, and, in some places, building, with the obliteration of
old landmarks, is still going on, so that those who knew it in old
days would hardly now recognise the locality. A new Record Office,
palatial and imposing, in the Tudor style, now extends from Chancery
Lane across to Fetter Lane, covering what used to be Rolls Yard; and
the old Rolls Chapel is now incorporated in the newer building. In
this massive structure, this fire-proof fortress, are kept all the
documentary treasures of the kingdom, beginning with the famous
"Domesday Book," of the Conqueror's time. The Records and State
Archives of England, so long neglected, have at length found a
suitable home.

[Illustration: _Lincoln's Inn._]

Lincoln's Inn, however, is less altered. The New Hall of the Inn,
built only in 1845, nevertheless wears a sober and respectable look of
antiquity; and the new buildings are already less garish. Perhaps, at
first, in contrasting the new houses of Lincoln's Inn with the old,
where they rise side by side, one is tempted for a moment to cry out
against the modern taste in variegated brick-work; till on closer
examination one finds it to be a faithful copy of the older style,
only not yet darkened by age! So true is it, as Millais has said, that
"Time is the greatest of the old Masters." And the smoke of London
ages buildings quickly; this is one of its advantages. The real
innovation in the newer style is in the windows; for, where narrow
lozenges pierced the wall, now are tall, imposing bay windows, a
wealth of glass before undreamed of. The great modern cry is ever,
"Let there be light!" But then, we, in our day, do not have to pay
window tax.

The fine Gatehouse of Lincoln's Inn, that opens upon Chancery Lane,
has a delightful look of mediævalism; it is in the Hampton Court
style, and was built in 1518 by Sir Thomas Lowell, whose arms it
bears, as well as the date of its erection. Here, tradition says, "Ben
Jonson, a poor bricklayer, was found working on this gate with a
_Horace_ in one hand and a trowel in the other, when some gentlemen,
pitying him, gave him money to leave 'so mean a calling' and pursue
his studies."

Here in Lincoln's Inn are again quiet, picturesque courts; sundials
with Latin mottoes; calm enclosures of quiet amidst the surrounding
racket. At No. 24, "Old Buildings," is a tablet recording the
residence here of John Thurloe, Cromwell's secretary. An interesting
story is told of these chambers. The Protector is said to have visited
his secretary here one day, and disclosed to him a plot for seizing
the young princes, sons of Charles I. The plans had been discussed,
when Thurloe's clerk was discovered, apparently asleep, in the room.
Cromwell was for killing him, but this Thurloe dissuaded him from
doing, and, passing a dagger repeatedly over his face, thought to
prove that he was really asleep. The clerk, however, had merely been
shamming, and he subsequently found means to warn the princes of their
danger. Such a dramatic story certainly deserves to be true!

Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, though perhaps hardly rural, is still the
largest and shadiest square in London. It had in old days a bad
reputation for thieves and footpads, for the pillory, and also, more
tragically, as a place of execution. Here the conspirators in Mary
Queen of Scots' cause were hanged and quartered; and here gallant Lord
William Russell died for alleged treason, "his whole behaviour a
triumph over death."

The tall substantial houses around Lincoln's-Inn-Fields bear a look of
bygone state, an ancient grandeur well described in _Bleak House_.
Here is an account of the mansion inhabited by the astute Mr.
Tulkinghorn, in this square:

     "Here, in a large house, formerly a house of state, lives
     Mr. Tulkinghorn. It is let off in sets of chambers now; and
     in those shrunken fragments of its greatness, lawyers lie
     like maggots in nuts. But its roomy staircases, passages,
     and antechambers still remain; and even its painted
     ceilings, where Allegory, in Roman helmet and celestial
     linen, sprawls among balustrades and pillars, flowers,
     clouds, and big-legged boys, and makes the head ache--as
     would seem to be Allegory's object always, more or less.
     Here ... lives Mr. Tulkinghorn.... Like as he is to look at,
     so is his apartment in the dusk of the afternoon. Rusty, out
     of date, withdrawing from attention, able to afford it."

The house thus described by Dickens was that of his friend Forster,
and, no doubt, he knew it well. Very few private houses exist, I
imagine, in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields to-day: and poor "Allegory" is now
there for ever at a discount. The fine mansions, with their paved
forecourts and massive gate-posts, have had their day, and have now
ceased (for the larger world, that is) to be. Yet it is an imposing
square still, and, seen in the sunshine of a May morning, is
distinctly attractive.

Very attractive, too, is Staple Inn, so well known to Londoners by its
old gabled Holborn front. This, in some ways the most charming of all
the Inns, is kindly preserved to us by the altruism of the Prudential
Assurance Company, whose property it is, and who at considerable
expense have repaired and saved from destruction this historical "bit"
of Old London. The picturesque gables of Staple Inn, its well-known
lath-and-plaster front, would, indeed, be sadly missed if they
disappeared from the line of Holborn. Nothing so well gives the idea
of the London of the Tudors, of the early Stuarts, as this
time-honoured edifice. Staple Inn, though generally supposed to be
earlier, is really of the time of James I: and its crumbling and
insecure walls, during the recent (and still continuing) building
operations near it, have required much "underpinning."

Entering under the archway of Staple Inn, we find ourselves suddenly
in a quiet old court set about with plane trees, and in the middle a
rustic seat placed, in countrified fashion, round a tree trunk; the
old Hall of the Inn forming the background. It is a charming spot
enough, with a most collegiate and secluded air; an air so strange,
indeed, in this neighbourhood as to have struck many writers, among
others Nathaniel Hawthorne:

     "I went astray" (he says) "in Holborn, through an arched
     entrance, over which was 'Staple Inn' ... but in a court
     opening inwards from this was a surrounding seclusion of
     quiet dwelling houses, with beautiful green shrubbery and
     grass-plots in the court, and a great many sunflowers in
     full bloom.... There was ... not a quieter spot in England
     than this. In all the hundreds of years since London was
     built, it has not been able to sweep its roaring tide over
     that little island of quiet."

And Dickens thus writes of it:

     "Behind the most ancient part of Holborn, where certain
     gabled houses some centuries of age still stand looking out
     on the public way ... is a little nook composed of two
     irregular quadrangles, called Staple Inn. It is one of those
     nooks, the turning into which out of the clashing street
     imparts to the relieved pedestrian the sensation of having
     put cotton in his ears and velvet soles on his boots. It is
     one of those nooks where a few smoky sparrows twitter in
     smoky trees, as though they called to one another, 'Let us
     play at country.'"

Dickens made this the abode of his kindly lawyer of _Edwin Drood_ (Mr.
Grewgious). The chambers where that gentleman is supposed to have
dwelt are marked on a stone above the doorway, with initials, and a
date--1747.

Beyond the first square, through another archway, a garden-plot is
reached, the garden of the Hall. Very picturesque is this old Hall,
long and low, with gabled lanthorns,--one large, one small,--and high
timber roofs. The garden plot is bright even in winter, with
variegated laurels and a privet hedge; these, with the darkened
red-brick of the old Hall, make a charming picture. Opposite the
garden-court extends the new and very attractive modern building of
1843, on a raised terrace: designed in early Jacobean style, and of a
simple dignity that does not quarrel with its surroundings. This line
of buildings is continued towards Chancery Lane by the new "Government
Patent Office," an admirable structure as yet untouched by the
mellowing London smoke. The buildings of the "Birkbeck Bank" opposite,
which, in their turn, tower over the little Staple Inn Hall and
garden, show,--in painful contrast both to their unobjectionable
Holborn front, and to the fine simplicity of the Patent Office,--a
very ornate medley of terra-cotta and Doulton-ware; a chaos of
bluish-green pillars and aggressive plaques and tiles, for which,
indeed, some covering of London soot is greatly to be wished. One
might almost think that one had got into Messrs. Spiers and Pond's
refreshment-rooms or a "Central-Railway-station" by mistake.
Disillusions, however, are frequent in this semi-chaotic region of new
and old buildings, and it must be confessed that the back of the
Patent Office (in "Quality Court") is somewhat disappointing after its
front view; it resembles, with its old, blackened pillars, a disused
dissenting chapel; and Quality Court itself seems, like so many of the
purlieus of the smaller Inns, mainly redolent of charwomen, cats, and
orange-peel. Nevertheless, even in dingy "Quality Court" there are
some respectable houses with quaint old doorways, as well as some good
iron-work in the upper balconies.

[Illustration: _Fetter Lane._]

Some of the neighbouring courts are, however, far more unsavoury. See,
for instance, "Fleur-de-Lis" Court, off Fetter Lane, a miserable,
dilapidated flagged alley. The last time I visited this place, I
found a few dirty children dancing to a poor cripple's playing of a
kind of spinet or portable piano (some of the "music" of these
peripatetic street-players is of a weird kind). Fleur-de-Lis
Court!--charmingly named, but, like all courts with such romantic
appellations, particularly grimy and squalid. Further up, away from
Fetter Lane, where the "court" or narrow alley becomes even more
wretchedly ruinous, is a barn-like place labelled "Newton Hall." It
seems at a first glance to be the very abomination of desolation; its
rusty door padlocked, with an air, too, of never-being-opened. Is
there anything, I wondered at a first glance, more dismal in all
London? Yet, on looking nearer, I seemed to see something
comparatively clean shining on the wall of "Newton Hall," amid the
surrounding grime. Can it be,--yes, it is,--a label,--and apparently
affixed there within the memory of man: "Positivist Society." Surely,
I reflected, the Positivist Cause must be in a bad way, if the
dilapidation of the buildings be any guide to the state of the
persuasion itself! It is, however, unfair to judge the state of
Positivism from Fleur-de-Lis Court, for the whole neighbourhood has,
evidently, but a short span of life remaining, and the court and its
purlieus will soon be things of the past. Positivism is already
removing or removed; and Newton Hall, till Fleur-de-Lis Court is
transmogrified in the march of progress into offices or
model-dwellings, will rust for some few years in peace.

The neighbourhood in which the old Hall stands is full of historic
memories. As is ever the case in crowded Central London, the past, the
many pasts, are strangely involved and blended, buried one beneath the
other. Dryden and Otway are said to have once lived--and
quarrelled--on and near this site. Then, in 1710, Sir Isaac Newton,
the then President of the Royal Society, induced that body to buy a
house and garden here from Dr. Barebones, a descendant of the
"Praise-God-Barebones" of Puritan times. Sir Christopher Wren
concurred in the purchase, and £1,450 was paid for the freehold. In
this house the Royal Society held their meetings till they removed to
Somerset House in 1782; and they built on its garden the present
"Newton Hall,"--which hall, some say, is really from the designs of
Wren. In 1818, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, unhappy son of genius, gave
his last public lectures here; later, it was used as a chapel, and
then the Positivist Society made it their home. It is strange to
reflect that the chief reason advanced by Sir Isaac Newton to the
Royal Society for the purchase of this site, was that it was "in the
middle of the town and out of noise."

At the Holborn end of Fetter Lane there are still some fine old gabled
houses, which must soon vanish; several little Inns of Chancery,
byways out of Holborn and the Strand, have already been swept away:
Thavies' Inn for instance, where Dickens, surely by an intentional
anachronism, places Mrs. Jellyby's untidy home; Lyon's Inn, near Wych
Street, destroyed in 1863; Old Furnival's Inn, on the opposite side of
Holborn, where Dickens lived when he was first married, has been
replaced by the offices of the Prudential Assurance Company, the
saviours of Staple Inn, in intense red-brick. Lastly, Barnard's Inn
(originally Mackworth's Inn), a charming little Holborn Inn on a tiny
scale, with small courts, trees, a miniature hall and lanthorn, has
been bought up by the Mercers' Company and is used by them as a
school. This Inn is therefore not now accessible to the casual
visitor; its Holborn entrance may, indeed, easily be missed; "Mercers'
School," in big gilt letters, adorns its narrow doorway. What a
delightful private residence, one thinks, for some rich man, would
such a little Inn as this have made! Strange that no rich man has ever
thought so! the rich, like sheep, flock ever towards the less
interesting West End. Dickens, as I have suggested, had little eye for
the purely picturesque; and of this little Inn, compared by Loftie to
one of De Hooghe's pictures, he merely says (in _Great Expectations_,)
that it is "the dirtiest collection of shabby buildings ever squeezed
together in a rank corner as a club for tom-cats!" So much, indeed, is
Beauty in the eye of the seer! Barnard's Inn is also remarkable for
having been, in the last century, the abode of the last of the
alchemists.

A gateway on the north side of Holborn leads to Gray's Inn, the most
northerly of the four big Inns of Court. The gardens of Gray's Inn
are green and spacious, and its courts and quadrangles have a sober
solidity that is very attractive. This Inn affords a welcome retreat
from two of the noisiest and most unpoetic thoroughfares in
London,--Gray's Inn Road and Theobald's Road.

Here is Hawthorne's description of Gray's Inn Gardens:

     "Gray's Inn is a great quiet domain, quadrangle beyond
     quadrangle close beside Holborn, and a large space of
     greensward enclosed within it. It is very strange to find so
     much of ancient quietude right in the monster City's very
     jaws, which yet the monster shall not eat up--right in its
     very belly, indeed, which yet, in all these ages, it shall
     not digest and convert into the same substance as the rest
     of its bustling streets. Nothing else in London is so like
     the effect of a spell, as to pass under one of these
     archways, and find yourself transported from the jumble,
     rush, tumult, uproar, as of an age of week-days condensed
     into the present hour, into what seems an eternal Sabbath."

And Charles Lamb also said of them:

     "These are the best gardens of any of the Inns of Court--my
     beloved Temple not forgotten--have the gravest character,
     their aspect being altogether reverend and law-breathing.
     Bacon has left the impress of his foot upon their gravel
     walks."

Bacon (Lord Verulam) planted here not only the spreading elm-trees,
but also a catalpa in the garden's north-east corner. In Gray's Inn is
also "Bacon's Mount," which answers to the recommendation in the
"Essay on Gardens"; "A mount of some pretty height, leaving the wall
of the enclosure breast high, to look abroad into the fields." Gray's
Inn Walks were, in Stuart times, very rural as well as very
fashionable; in 1621 we find them mentioned by Howell as "the
pleasantest place about London, with the choicest society"; and the
_Tatler_ and _Spectator_ alike confirm this statement.

But, alas! Gray's Inn Walks are curtailed, and its gardens deserted
enough, at the present day! No more does Fashion walk there, unless it
be the "fashion" of the Gray's Inn Road. Many of the solid brick
squares are fallen, like Mr. Tulkinghorn's haunt of "Allegory," into
comparative decay; others, perhaps, are still more or less
substantial; but the grime of many unpainted years of occupation must,
one thinks, be more or less conducive to midnight gloom, or even to
the before-mentioned complaint of "the 'orrors!" And yet, with all
these drawbacks, do not the suites of rooms in the Inn emanate a
semi-historic charm, a charm that the newer "flats" can never, never
possess? Even apart from mere history, places where people have lived
and experienced and suffered, always, I think, breathe a certain
humanity.... And I would rather, for my part, have a dinner of herbs
in Gray's Inn, in a low-roofed panelled parlour, with windows open on
to the green enclosure below, than enjoy all the dainties of the clubs
in a "Palace Mansions," with all the newest electric appliances.... I
would rather hear the dim echoes of the past in the rustle of the
Gray's Inn elm-trees, or the plash of the Temple Fountain, than boast
of a theatre agency next door, or live in a West End street of ever so
desirable people.... I would rather breathe the sweet and solitary
content of a City quadrangle, than the fevered and stormy dissipation
of Mayfair ... I would rather....

But the day darkens, and reminds me that I have wandered long enough
in these City closes. Farewell, old Inns! haunts of ancient peace,
goodnight! You will, surely, not always remain as you have been in the
past. For some of you, that all-invading iconoclast, the builder, will
alter and destroy old landmarks; for others, but few springs, maybe,
will return to awake and gladden you into green beauty of plane and
elm. Yet, even then, the memories of past glories will haunt the
sacred place, and fill it with "a diviner air"; even then, will surely
never wholly be abolished or destroyed those traditions of former
greatness that

        "--like the actions of the just,
  Smell sweet, and blossom in the dust."



CHAPTER VIII

THE EAST AND THE WEST

     "Behold how far the East is from the West!"

     "A forest of houses, between which ebbs and flows a stream
     of human faces, with all their varied passions--an awful
     rush of love, hunger, and hate--for such is
     London."--_Heine._


"To Newton and to Newton's Dog Diamond," says Carlyle, "what a
different pair of Universes; while the painting on the optical retina
of both was, most likely, the same." "A distinct Universe," adds
Thackeray in the same spirit, "walks about under your Hat, and under
mine." This latter reflection occurs to me often as I walk about
London, and note all its many "sorts and conditions" of men. There is
here, especially, everything in the "point of view." From the West to
the East is a wide difference; yet, between the two, how many minor
differences?

London, indeed, is hardly like a single city; it is rather like many
cities rolled into one. Here, more than anywhere else, you realize
that "it takes all sorts to make a world"; for the inhabitants vary
quite as widely as do those of foreign countries. It was Disraeli who
said, with much cynical truth:

     "The courts of two cities do not so differ from one another
     as the court and the city in their peculiar ways of life and
     conversation. In short, the inhabitants of St. James's,
     notwithstanding they live under the same laws, and speak the
     same language, are a distinct people from those of
     Cheapside."

[Illustration: _A Railway Bookstall._]

Between the people of the East, and those of the West, it is not
merely a question of distance; for, as a matter of fact, the two types
are often closely interwoven. Thus, there is an "East in the West,"
where, not infrequently, slums and mean streets lie in near
juxtaposition to squares of lordly pleasure-houses, and where recently
erected "model dwellings" for workmen flourish in the very hearts of
the Grosvenor and Cadogan Estates; and there is a "West in the East,"
as testified by the pleasant wide streets of comfortable roomy houses
that abound in the near suburbs of East and South London. Yet, it may
be broadly stated that every part of London has manners peculiar to
itself, as unvarying, in their way, as were the laws of the Medes and
Persians; with, also, one principal dividing-line,--that intangible
line separating the East End from the West End. Here are a few of the
differences between the two:

The West End has all the money and all the leisure; the East End
monopolizes most of the labour, and nearly all of the dirt. The West
End numbers a few thousands of floating population; the East End, a
million or so of pretty constant inhabitants. Yet, by some strange
association of ideas, it is to this small "West End" that we allude
when we speak of "all London," and to which the daily papers refer
when in August and September they assure us that "there is absolutely
no one left in town." The manners and customs of each are dissimilar;
both indulge in slang of a kind; but, while the East End usually cuts
off the initial letter of its words, the West-End drops the final one.
The West End is shocked by the East, but then, the East End is just as
much shocked, for its part, by the West. If the "lady" is full of
righteous scorn for the "factory hand" who spends her hard-won
earnings on a feathered hat and a plush cape, the slum-dweller is, on
the other hand, quite equally scandalized at the "lady's" brazen
boldness in wearing a _décolleté_ dress: "To think of 'er 'avin' the
fice ter go hout with them nyked showlders, 'ow 'orrid!" the factory
girl will say, from out the street-door crowd at an evening "crush."
Even a veiled Turkish lady, from the secluded harem, could hardly show
more genuine feeling at the unpleasant spectacle. No, our ways are not
as their ways. Their conventionalities are quite as strict, even
stricter, than ours. Possibly to them, even our speech sounds just as
faulty as theirs to us; probably they think us very ill-bred because
we do not constantly reiterate the words "Mrs. Smith," or "Mrs.
Jones," when addressing the said ladies; or cry immediately, "Granted,
Miss, or Sir," in reply to "I beg your pardon!" At any rate, we must,
to them, seem chilly and unresponsive. Then, the books we read, if
they understood them, would often greatly shock the slum-dwellers; the
pictures we hang in our parlours would horrify them. Servants do not
come from the slums or even from the lowest class; yet I have myself,
out of regard for their feelings, had to "sky" the most beautiful
_chefs-d'oeuvre_ of Titian, and turn the photograph of a masterpiece
by Praxiteles with its face ignominiously to the wall. And it's "'ow
you can go to that there National Gallery, 'm, and look at them
pictures of folkses without a rag on 'em, well, it beats me, it do
indeed!" After all, and once more, the difference is all in "the point
of view!"

[Illustration: _The City Train._]

But, if the East and the West have their wide and radical differences,
between the two there are, as I said, many recurring types. And the
constant Londoner, were he suddenly to be brought, blindfolded, to
some hitherto unknown spot in the city or near suburbs, would soon
know his whereabouts by the look of the people he encountered. Thus,
you may know Bloomsbury by its Jews, as well as by a population
remarkable for general frowsiness, a look of "ingrained" dirt, and an
indescribable air of having seen better days; Chelsea, by a certain
art-serged female, and long-haired male community with an
artistic,--and, yes,--perhaps a well-pleased and self-satisfied air;
the "City," by its black-coated business men; Whitechapel, by its
coster girls with fringes; Somers Town and Lisson Grove, by their
odoriferous cats and cabbages; Mayfair, by its sleek carriage-horses,
and also by the very superior maids and butlers you meet in its silent
streets. Or, perhaps, by the straw that occasionally fills the quiet
square corners, sounding the sad note of Death. I have seen a slum
child dying of cancer in a crowded garret,--baked by the August
sun,--covered with flies,--in a noisy alley; but only rich people's
nerves require soothing at the last!

Miss Amy Levy has written a haunting little poem on this subject:

  "Straw in the street, where I pass to-day,
   Dulls the sound of the wheels and feet.
  'Tis for a failing life they lay
                            Straw in the street.

  "Here, where the pulses of London beat,
   Someone strives with the Presence Grey--
   Ah, is it victory or defeat?

  "The hurrying people go their way,
   Pause and jostle and pass and greet;
   For life, for death, are they treading, say,
                            Straw in the street?"

"London," says a French writer, "resembles, in its size and luxury,
Ancient Rome." But, if Ancient Rome, he adds, weighed heavily upon
its toiling slaves, "how heavily does not our modern Rome weigh,
also, upon the labouring class!" The hanging gardens of Park Lane
are in as great, and greater contrast to the Somers Town, Drury
Lane, and Deptford slums, as were ever the Palaces of the Palatine
to the slaves' quarters. London is the best city in the world to be
rich in, the worst to be very poor in; as it is the best city for
happiness, the worst for misery. It is the Temple of Midas, where
everything,--from a coffin to a hired guest,--from the _entrée_ to
an "exclusive" mansion to a peer's status,--can be bought with
money. Here, more than anywhere else, money is imperatively needed.
Even the poor hawkers who live in unspeakable slums, lined with cats
and cabbages, in Lisson Grove, might, if they lived in the country,
at least have clean cottages, gardens, and pure air. With the same
income on which you are poor in town, you will be well-to-do, nay,
rich in the country. House-rent,--indirect taxation,--the vicinity
of tempting shops,--and amusements take the surplus. The attractions
of town must indeed be great to the poor; for, if their wages be
higher, their life is infinitely lower. But it is the same in all
classes. It is often said that the rich, who own so many large and
luxurious country estates, houses, and gardens, are ill-advised to
come up to town and spend hot Mays and Junes in baking Belgravia or
Mayfair; but, after all, they only share the tastes of the majority.
Man is a gregarious animal, and loves his kind. Similarly, if you
were to make a "house-to-house visitation" in some wretched Lisson
Grove or East End slum, and inquire diligently of every inhabitant,
whether they would prefer to "go back and live in the lovely
country," their answer, I am convinced, would be firmly in the
negative. East and West are alike in this.

But the key-note of the East End of London, apart from its big
thoroughfares, is not so much squalor or poverty, as desperate,
commonplace monotony, such as is described by Mrs. Humphry Ward in
_Sir George Tressady_, "long lines of low houses,--two storeys always,
or two storeys and a basement,--all of the same yellowish brick, all
begrimed by the same smoke, every door-knocker of the same pattern,
every window-blind hung in the same way, and the same corner 'public'
on either side, flaming in the hazy distance." The East End is very
conservative, and in its better houses there is a conservatism even in
the blinds, which are, almost invariably, of cheap red rep or cloth,
alternated by dirty "lace." With the poorest tenants, of course,
blinds are at a discount; and grimy paper fills the frequent holes in
the panes.

Yet, it is a mistake to suppose, as is more or less the popular
theory, that the average East Ender's life is all unmitigated gloom.
Take, for instance, the life of the honest, hard-working artisan and
his family. He may live in "mean streets"; but use is everything; and
they are not "mean" to him. Possibly, from his point of view, the
two-pair back, the frowsy street, are "a sight more homely and cosy"
than rich people's area gates and chilly grandeur. If the West End
takes its pleasure by driving in the Park, the East, on the other
hand, finds its relaxation on the tops of 'buses and trams, in walking
about the flaring, gas-jetted street, in looking into shop windows, or
in driving about in all the pride of a private, special coster's cart.
If the rich do not know how the poor live, the poor, on the other
hand, have but a hazy idea of how the rich live. If you asked the
average slum-dweller how the rich spend their day, they would most
likely say, "in drinking champagne and driving in motor cars." Thus
the classes mutually do each other injustice. If the poor, for a
while, could live the life of the rich, they would vote it terribly
slow; Calverley was not so far out when he suggested slyly that

                        "Unless they've souls that grovel,
  Folks _prefer_ in fact a hovel to your dreary marble halls."

The poor of the East End have their special plays, their theatres,
their "halls," their cheap popular amusements. And they have other
minor compensations. They "eat hearty" when they do eat; they do not
fall ill from dyspepsia or have to go to Carlsbad; or if they do
suffer from M. Taine's favourite complaint, "the spleen" (which is
unusual in a working man), they remedy it by a little harmless
correction of their wives. Or if a poor woman's child is ill, she does
not suffer for want of medical advice; she bundles it up quickly in a
shawl, and runs with it to the nearest hospital, where, if the
authorities are somewhat curt, she at any rate gets plenty of sympathy
from all the other mothers in the big hospital waiting-room. Even that
large, shabby crowd that, on visiting-days, await the opening of the
hospital doors, so unutterably pathetic to the looker-on, is not,
perhaps, without its alleviations. It is a mercy that we do not all
like the same thing; and that, while the rich are exclusive, the poor
will enjoy society of almost any kind: "We shall 'ave to leave our
lodgin's, 'm, over them nice mews," a poor woman said to me lately, in
a mournful tone. "The landlord, he's takin' the place down; an' I
shall miss the 'orses' feet at night, somethin' shockin'; _they was
sech comp'ny like_." Here, surely, is a case where one man's poison
may be another man's meat!

As for the children of the working classes, they, unless their parents
are lazy or given to drink, really have, often, a far better time of
it, so far as their own actual enjoyment is concerned, than the more
repressed children of the rich. The pavement is their property, the
streets are their world; the beautiful, dazzling, magical,
ever-changing streets, with their myriad attractions, their boundless
possibilities. Then, the children of the poor are not brought up as
useless luxuries, but, from tender years, are required to contribute
their share of help to the household; and what the average child loves
above all things is to feel itself of use. Dirt and grime are of no
account whatever to the child; and old clothes are always far more
comfortable than new to play about in. The "shades of the prison
house" may close in, later, about the children of the poor, when they
must go to service, to the factory, to the shop; but, in their early
years, their life has its attractions.

Of course, however, with the families of the drunkard, the shiftless,
the lazy, the case becomes altogether different. Drifting hopelessly
from one slum to another, these soon help to swell the sad ranks of
the "submerged tenth": poor creatures whose misery shivers in fireless
garrets and damp cellars, whose empty stomachs call in vain for food;
and whose only outlook is the workhouse, the "big villa" as they call
it; an institution, however, that they will only enter from dire
necessity, regarding it, as a rule, with wholesome dislike and
disfavour.

There are many churches and chapels all over London, yet the very poor
rarely attend any of them. Indeed, very few London working men's wives
attend any religious service, unless, that is, they happen to boast of
a new hat or bonnet.... They will, however, receive the "visitor" or
"tract-lady" with a sort of chilly grandeur; and, though their
acquaintance with Holy Writ is generally slight, through all life's
troubles their favourite text is ever this: "It is easier for a camel
to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the
Kingdom of Heaven." Thus, they are always, so to speak, comforting
themselves for the enforced payment of the insurance of hard work and
poor fare in this life by the assurance of paid-up capital with
interest, in the next! Poor, hard-worked mothers of the slums! who
would grudge you that harmless and unfailing consolation?

[Illustration: _Bank Holiday._]

Nor is the "country,"--except in strictly limited quantities,--such an
unfailing consolation to the children of the poor, as some would have
us imagine. (That it is such a priceless advantage to their health is,
no doubt, partly owing to the fact that it is generally associated
with good and wholesome food.) The children like the "real country"
for a day or two;--afterwards, they are too often conscious of slight
boredom. At first, they delight in the fact that "it's so green all
rarnd,--right to the sky,--with no roads, and no walls,--and no
trespsin boards,--and no pleecemen;" but these joys have their
limitations,--and, after a fortnight's holiday,--even poor slum
children are generally glad to get back home. Even in tender
youth,--the country is a cult that requires some learning. "The
country is dreadful slow,"--a little girl of the great city once
remarked with painful frankness,--"no swings, no rahnd-abarts, no
penny-ice men, no orgins, no shops, no nothink;--jest a great bare
field only." Here, again, is the difference of "the point of view!"

Go into that glittering Armida-Palace, the busy Whitechapel Road, and
watch the scene at nightfall. The weather may be cold or mirk; the
weather matters little; the skies may be glum and starless, but a
galaxy of light, from innumerable gas jets and shop fronts, floods the
busy street. Here is, certainly, no lack of life and amusement; the
crowd laughs, jostles, and chatters, as if no such thing as care or
struggle existed. It is a motley crowd. Handsome dark-eyed Jewesses
with floppy hair and long gold earrings; coster girls "on the spree,"
dressed in their gaudy best; staid couples doing their weekly
marketing; here and there a happy family round a stall, eating
"winkles" composedly with the help of pins, or demolishing saucerfuls
of the savoury cockle; vendors of penny toys; all these, combined with
the voluble "patter" of the lively shop-boys, make a veritable
pandemonium. Shops are full; barrows of all kinds drive a brisk trade;
velvet-cushioned trams ply up and down the big highway, which extends,
apparently almost into infinity, up the long Mile End Road.
(Tram-lines, in London, seem more or less confined to the uninspiring
North and East and their suburbs.) Ugly and uninvigorating enough by
day, the streets, by night, invest themselves with mysterious glamour
and brightness. Like some murky theatre when the deceiving footlights
are lit, this, too, is a "stage illusion," and it is a wise one. For
all the East End does its shopping by gaslight; now only it begins to
enjoy its day. Seen in such kaleidoscopic glare of light, even the
Whitechapel Road has its attractions. Yet through it all one sometimes
sees sad sights. Many public-houses dot these thoroughfares, shining
like meteors through the nocturnal mists; and here and there, truth
to tell, a bevy of red-faced women may be seen through the
plate-glass, whose unhappy infants are stationed in shabby
perambulators outside; their eyes, by dint of vain straining towards
their natural guardians, painfully acquiring that squint that would
seem to be the birthright of so many of the London poor.

In strange contrast with the din and bustle of Aldgate and its network
of wide streets, are the collegiate buildings of Toynbee Hall, in
Commercial Street, close by. This is a curious little oasis in the
wilderness, a most unexpected by-way in busy, glaring Whitechapel. To
Canon and Mrs. Barnett, who have devoted their lives towards making
Toynbee Hall what it is, is due the chief honour for the successful
working of this Institution, primarily intended to bring "sweetness
and light" into the darkened, unlovely lives of the London poor. The
name of Arnold Toynbee, the young and enthusiastic Oxford man and
reformer, has been immortalised in this place, the first of the
University Settlements in London. Toynbee died young, of overwork and
overpressure; in a sense a martyr to his cause; yet the work of this
latter-day apostle has already had large results, and his creed has
had many followers. To him, dying in his youthful zeal, Tennyson's
lines seem specially appropriate:

  "So many worlds, so much to do,
      So little done, such things to be,
      How know I what had need of thee,
   For thou wert strong as thou wert true?
   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  "O hollow wraith of dying fame,
      Fade wholly, while the soul exults,
      And self-infolds the large results
   Of force that would have forged a name."

In some ways, Toynbee Hall, and its successive, and kindred
institutions, seem like late revivals of the monastic system of the
middle ages. Toynbee Hall is a hall in the academic sense,--and
shelters successive batches of some twenty residents,--young
university men of strong convictions,--who come here both to learn and
to teach;--to teach their less fortunate brothers,--to learn how the
poor live. At its hospitable door the sick and suffering apply for
help and succour; here charity,--charity, too, of the kind that
"blesseth him that gives and him that takes,"--is freely
given,--without narrow restrictions of sectarianism or dogma--and it
does more than this.

For,--unlike the monastic system,--Toynbee Hall is specially devised to
help the individual soul of the poor worker in busy London to rise above
its often base and mean surroundings. The late Matthew Arnold, in his
well-remembered lecture at Toynbee Hall,--taught the possibility of
"following the gleam" even in the "gloom" of the East-End,--and of
helping Nature, by the aid of books and of art, from sinking under
"long-lived pressure of obscure distress." Books and art are great
tonics. The ancient monasteries dissuaded,--if anything,--knowledge, and
aspiration generally, in the "masses": Toynbee Hall encourages and
promotes it; it is thus a physician to the mind even more than to the
body. It raises the aims, improves the tastes, and widens the horizons
of its disciples; it satisfies the cravings of the poor for better
things; but it must first inculcate such cravings. Within its walls the
poor and struggling artisan may enjoy concerts, lectures, pictures;--may
learn, too, from the best teachers,--and profit by many of the
advantages of university life. There are not only lecture-rooms, but
reception-rooms,--dining-rooms,--a library;--the latter a much-valued
institution in the neighbourhood. Many pleasant social gatherings are
held here;--not only of working men,--but also of factory
girls,--shop-hands,--pupil-teachers,--who come here,--these latter,--to
cast off the "codes" and dry bones of learning, and acquire a little of
its warmer, fuller humanity.

Toynbee Hall is not the only place in East London where such works
are carried on. Oxford House, Bethnal Green,--and Mansfield House,
Canning Town,--are, among others,--institutions more or less of the
kind; and the Passmore Edwards Institute, in Tavistock Place, has
similar aims. But to Toynbee Hall is due the introduction of yearly
loan Exhibitions of good pictures for the East End,--originated by
Canon Barnett, and still successfully carried on by his unwearying
exertions.

The charms of poetic contrast are always great in London. While
standing in a dingy byway of some city church--St. Olave's, Hart
Street, or St. Jude's, Whitechapel,--does not the deep music of the
organ,--resounding from inside the building,--fill the listener with a
strange feeling almost akin to tears? Not even outside a country
church is one so affected. Here it seems to bring the calm of Eternity
into the fitful fever of the moment. The picturesqueness, alone, of
religion, is so great, that, to the determined agnostic London would
surely lose half its charm. And who could work among the London poor
without, at least, something of the feeling so beautifully expressed
in Matthew Arnold's well-known lines?

  "'Twas August, and the fierce sun overhead
       Smote on the squalid streets of Bethnal Green,
       And the pale weaver, through his windows seen
   In Spitalfields, look'd thrice dispirited.

  "I met a preacher there I knew, and said:
      'Ill and o'erwork'd, how fare you in this scene?'--
      'Bravely!' said he; 'for I of late have been
   Much cheer'd with thoughts of Christ, _the living bread_.'

  "O human soul! as long as thou canst so
   Set up a mark of everlasting light,
   Above the howling senses' ebb and flow,

   To cheer thee, and to right thee if thou roam--
   Not with lost toil thou labourest through the night!
   Thou mak'st the heaven thou hop'st indeed thy home."

Toynbee Hall, of course, is of modern design; but there are still many
good old-time houses in the East-end,--now deserted and left stranded
by the tide of fashion. Of these is Essex House, in the Mile-End-Road,
(opposite Burdett-Road), now no longer residential, but used by Mr.
Ashbee as the convenient location for his well-known "Guild and School
of Handicraft." Built partly by a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren, with
panelled rooms, oak staircase, and large garden, its solid dignity is
well suited to its new and living purpose. Mr. Ashbee,--the founder
and moving spirit of the Guild--was himself a worker at Toynbee Hall,
where, indeed, in a small "Ruskin class" held in 1886-7, the school
had its beginning. So one thing grows out of another, and a sturdy
plant sends out its offshoots.

Thus Toynbee Hall, and kindred institutions, show the West-end in the
East; now let us turn to the East-end in the West. This is not so
difficult to find; "the poor," indeed, "we have always with us," and
in some of London's most fashionable streets the saddest sights of all
may be seen. Slums of a sort are to be found near most of the
fashionable West-end squares; and, even within the precincts of
aristocratic Mayfair, the expensive fish-shop in Bond-Street,--where,
during long summer days, enormous blocks of ice, tempting to the eye,
glitter like some Rajah's diamond,--entertains a motley crew of poor
folk on Saturday nights, when it makes a practice of giving away its
remaining stock. Bond Street is, in a manner, the "Aldgate High
Street" of the fashionable world: here, at four o'clock or so in the
afternoon, are to be seen the "gilded youth,"--the dandies of the
day;--here the smart world flock for afternoon tea; and here fine
ladies walk even unattended, and satisfy, as eagerly as their
Whitechapel sisters, their feminine cravings for shop-windows. Who was
it who first said that no real woman could ever pass a hat-shop? The
truth of this remark may here be attested. The very smartest of
motor-cars,--of horses,--of "turn-outs" generally,--may be seen
blocking the narrow Piccadilly entrance of this thoroughfare from
which deviates as many mysterious byways as from Cheapside itself.
Very much sought after are all these tiny streets; indeed, the tide of
fashion has been ever faithful to this special part of the metropolis.
Did not Swift once write to "Stella," of the neighbouring Bury Street;
"I have a first floor, a dining-room and bedroom, at eight shillings a
week,--and plaguey dear!"? But,--even considering the vast difference
in money value since Swift's day,--we have to pay a good deal more
than that now for similar accommodation in this quarter.

But, yet further West, between Bond Street and Hyde Park, are
Grosvenor and Berkeley Squares, the very focus of fashion, in whose
neighbourhood rents rise proportionately. Here, too, are many
unexpected and charming byways. Behind the vestry in Mount Street, for
instance, in the passage that leads into the church in Farm Street,
you might think yourself thousands of miles away from Mayfair. This
church in Farm Street,--the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate
Conception,--is famous as a Jesuit centre; here it was that Henry
Manning, afterwards Cardinal, was "received" on Passion Sunday, 1851.

Other byways there are, too, of a less attractive kind; the byways
where dwell the "poor relations," so to speak, of the Aristocracy and
the "Smart Set"; the impoverished ladies whose sense of propriety
would lead them to dwell even in a wheelbarrow, could that wheelbarrow
only be drawn up on the fashionable side of the street! They are
"backmewsy" little streets of saddening aspect, such as Dickens's
typical "Mews Street, Grosvenor Square," that contained the residence
of Mr. Tite Barnacle, with "squeezed houses," each with "a ramshackle
bowed front, little dingy windows, and a little dark area like a damp
waistcoat pocket" ... the house a sort of bottle filled with a strong
distillation of mews, so that when the footman opened the door, he
"seemed to take the stopper out." Dickens's picture is still a
portrait that many will recognise:

     "Mews Street, Grosvenor Square, was not absolutely Grosvenor
     Square itself, but it was very near it. It was a hideous
     little street of dead wall, stables, and dunghills, with
     lofts over coach-houses inhabited by coachmen's families,
     who had a passion for drying clothes, and decorating their
     window-sills with miniature turnpike-gates. The principal
     chimney-sweep of that fashionable quarter lived at the blind
     end of Mews Street; and the same corner contained an
     establishment much frequented about early morning and
     twilight, for the purchase of wine-bottles and
     kitchen-stuff. Punch's shows used to lean against the dead
     wall in Mews Street, while their proprietors were dining
     elsewhere; and the dogs of the neighbourhood made
     appointments to meet in the same locality. Yet there were
     two or three small airless houses at the entrance end of
     Mews Street, which went at enormous rents on account of
     their being abject hangers-on to a fashionable situation;
     and whenever one of these fearful little coops was to be let
     (which seldom happened, for they were in great request), the
     house agent advertised it as a gentlemanly residence in the
     most aristocratic part of town, inhabited solely by the
     élite of the _beau monde_."

But to the millionaire's dwelling, located at that period in Harley
Street, Cavendish-Square, the novelist is hardly more polite:

     "Like unexceptionable society" (he says), "the opposing rows
     of houses in Harley Street were very grim with one another.
     Indeed, the mansions and their inhabitants were so much
     alike in that respect, that the people were often to be
     found drawn up on opposite sides of dinner-tables, in the
     shade of their own loftiness, staring at the other side of
     the way with the dullness of the houses. Everybody knows how
     like the street the two dinner-rows of people who take their
     stand by the street will be. The expressionless uniform
     twenty houses, all to be knocked and rung at in the same
     form, all approachable by the same dull steps, all fended
     off by the same pattern of railing, all with the same
     impracticable fire-escapes, the same inconvenient fixtures
     in their heads, and everything without exception to be taken
     at a high valuation--who has not dined with these? The house
     so drearily out of repair, the occasional bow-window, the
     stuccoed house, the newly-fronted house, the corner house
     with nothing but angular rooms, the house with the blinds
     always down, the house with the hatchment always up, the
     house where the collector has called for one quarter of an
     Idea, and found nobody at home--who has not dined with
     these?"

Dickens, on the whole, is kinder to his thieves' kitchens and debtors'
prisons, even to Fagin and his crew; for he allows them, at any rate,
to boast occasionally of an "Idea." But the "Smart Set," with the
plutocrats and the Merdles, has moved westward since the days of the
Early-Victorian novelists; and "Harley Street, Cavendish Square," is
now mainly medical.

The smart ladies often seen shopping in Bond Street from neat
broughams and landaus, drawn by high-stepping horses, are mainly
people whose names figure largely in the so-called "society" papers;
their goings and comings, be they aristocratic or theatrical, are all,
therefore, carefully noted by the ubiquitous "lady reporter;" terrible
fate of the well-known or well-born! But it is an age of
advertisement; and who shall say entirely on which side the fault
lies? Where these leaders of society shop now, other generations of
fair dead ladies, gone "with the snows of yesteryear," have in their
turn enjoyed the dear delights of lace, millinery, and jewels. Here
the "ladies of St. James's," in the eighteenth century, revelled in
their "lutestrings," "dimitys," "paduasoys"; and, to flaunt it over
their less fortunate sisters, bought the very newest new thing in
turbans. Piccadilly, doubtless, looked a trifle brighter and smarter
in those days of less smoke, as befitted the "court end of the town;"
and the young "swells" of the day presented a braver array in their
laces, ruffles, and knee-breeches. Then, as now, the Holbein-like Gate
of St. James's Palace, dignified in sober red-brick, stood sentinel at
the bottom of St. James's Street,--the street thus alluded to by
Sheridan:

  "The Campus Martius of St. James's Street,
   Where the beaux' cavalry pace to and fro,
   Before they take the field in Rotten Row."

[Illustration: _In Regent Street._]

St. James's Street, with all its byways and purlieus, has always been
greatly in request for exclusive and smart clubs, as well as for
bachelors' lodgings of the luxurious kind. It has also literary
associations. St. James's Place, where Addison lived, was also noted
for the residence of the old banker-poet Samuel Rogers; this was his
home for fifty-five years, and here, at No. 22, he gave his famous
"literary breakfasts." Of old the most exclusive gathering in this
region was "Almack's," ruled by the famous Lady Jersey, "the seventh
heaven of the fashionable world." It is situated in King Street, and
is now "Willis's Rooms." St. James's, as a rule, is "exclusive" enough
still; but the neighbourhood has in other ways gone through many
changes. The great house built by Nash for the Regent,--Carlton House,
beyond Pall Mall,--has vanished like Aladdin's Palace, and has left in
its place only one big column, a flight of noble steps, and a stately
terrace of palatial mansions,--Carlton-House-Terrace, overlooking the
Mall. This Phoenix-like spirit of London, ever rising anew on its own
ashes, was always dear to Thackeray. Here is one of his inimitable
passages on the subject, thrown off at random:

     "... I remember peeping through the colonnade at Carlton
     House, and seeing the abode of the great Prince Regent. I
     can see yet the Guards pacing before the gates of the place.
     The place? What place? The palace exists no more than the
     palace of Nebuchadnezzar. It is but a name now. Where be the
     sentries who used to salute as the Royal chariots drove in
     and out? "The chariots, with the kings inside, have driven
     to the realms of Pluto; the tall Guards have marched into
     darkness, and the echoes of their drums are rolling in
     Hades." Where the palace once stood, a hundred little
     children are paddling up and down the steps to St. James's
     Park. A score of grave gentlemen are taking their tea at the
     Athenæum Club; as many grisly warriors are garrisoning the
     United Service Club opposite. Pall Mall is the great social
     Exchange of London now--the mart of news, of politics, of
     scandal, of rumour--the English forum, so to speak, where
     men discuss the last despatch from the Crimea, the last
     speech of Lord Derby, the next move of Lord John. And, now
     and then, to a few antiquarians, whose thoughts are with the
     past rather than with the present, it is a memorial of old
     times and old people, and Pall Mall is our Palmyra. Look!
     About this spot, Tom of Ten Thousand was killed by
     Königsmarck's gang. In that red house Gainsborough lived,
     and Culloden Cumberland, George III.'s uncle. Yonder is
     Sarah Marlborough's palace, just as it stood when that
     termagant occupied it. At 25, Walter Scott used to live; at
     the house, now No. 79, and occupied by the Society for the
     Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, resided Mrs.
     Eleanor Gwynn, comedian. How often has Queen Caroline's
     chair issued from under yonder arch! All the men of the
     Georges have passed up and down the street. It has seen
     Walpole's chariot and Chatham's sedan; and Fox, Gibbon,
     Sheridan, on their way to Brookes's; and stately William
     Pitt stalking on the arm of Dundas; and Hanger and Tom
     Sheridan reeling out of Raggett's; and Byron limping into
     Wattier's; and Swift striding out of Bury Street; and Mr.
     Addison and Dick Steele, both perhaps a little the better
     for liquor; and the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York
     clattering over the pavement; and Johnson counting the posts
     along the streets, after dawdling before Dodsley's window;
     and Horry Walpole hobbling into his carriage, with a
     gimcrack just bought out at Christie's; and George Selwyn
     sauntering into White's."--Thackeray: _The Four Georges_, p.
     72.

[Illustration: _Piccadilly._]

Pall Mall, the street of palaces and palatial clubs _par excellence_,
is one of London's handsomest highways. It has for three centuries
been the Fleet Street of the well-to-do poets, of the leisured
literary world; for what, indeed, could poverty ever have in common
with Pall Mall? Defoe, in his day, wrote thus of it:

     "I am lodged in the street called Pall Mall, the ordinary
     residence of all strangers, because of its vicinity to the
     Queen's Palace, the Park, the Parliament House, the
     theatres, and the chocolate and coffee houses, where the
     best company frequent. If you would know our manner of
     living, 'tis thus:--We rise by nine, and those that frequent
     great men's levées find entertainment at them till eleven,
     or, as at Holland, go to tea tables. About twelve, the
     _beau-monde_ assembles in several coffee or chocolate
     houses; the best of which are the Cocoa Tree and White's
     chocolate houses, St. James's, the Smyrna, Mr. Rochford's,
     and the British coffee houses; and all these so near one
     another that in less than one hour you see the company of
     them all."

This sounds, truly, a pleasant enough life;--and its counterpart of
the present day is,--allowing for altered customs,--no doubt equally
pleasant. The taverns mentioned have given place to spacious
club-houses, all more or less modern; and the day has, in the last two
centuries, come to begin earlier and end later. Coffee-houses, in
Defoe's time, were the necessary ladders to rising fame talent; thus,
the boy Chatterton, starving and unknown in cruel London, sought to
allay his mother's anxiety by writing to her: "I am quite familiar at
the Chapter coffee-house (St. Paul's), and know all the geniuses
there."

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Pall Mall was a pretty
suburban promenade, and its "sweet shady side," sung by the poets, was
really no misnomer, as a row of elms fringed it, both north and
south. And it is still an aristocratic region, despite the "business"
air that has of late invaded it. Of the people you meet here,--elderly
gentlemen with nothing, perhaps, very remarkable about them, to
outward view;--or smart young men, with well-polished boots and hats,
and faultless dress-coats,--it is safe to say that a fair number will
have distinguished themselves in one way or another; either in the
working of their country's government, or in the fighting of their
country's battles. But, here as elsewhere, England is uncommunicative,
and you may pass angels unawares.

Just behind Pall Mall is the aristocratic St. James's Square--already,
alas! invaded by the modern builder:

  "She shall have all that's fine and fair,
   And ride in a coach to take the air,
   And have a house in St. James's Square,"--

--runs the old ballad. Though St. James's Square now contains a fair
sprinkling of Government and other offices,--yet its clientèle is
still somewhat ducal. Nevertheless, this Square, too, recalls
something of the seamy side of life. "What," says Lord Rosebery,
referring to London's many associations, "can be less imposing, or
less interesting in themselves,--than the railings of St. James's
Square? Yet, you cannot touch those railings--hideous as they are and
dull as are the houses that surround them--without thinking that
Johnson and Savage, hungry boys, starved by their kind mother, London,
who attracted men of letters to her, walked round that square one
summer night and swore they would die for their country."

Yes,--this, in some way, seems "the best of all possible worlds,"--and
London, in such surroundings, the best of all possible cities to live
in. Yet, here, too, the East is still present in the West. Round the
corner, as I gaze, comes a pitiful group,--a tawdry woman, her voice
raucous and suggestive of gin, holding by the hand two children, a
boy and a girl,--all singing, or making believe to sing, in chorus:

  "'Ark! ar ark, my sowl! Angelic songs are swellin',
    From Hearth's green fields--and Hoceant's way-be shore--
   'Ark, ar-ark,--"

Alas! the notes are hardly suggestive of angelic visitants. The chubby
little boy is crying, the tears making streaky marks down his dirty
little face. "I'm so cowld, so cowld, mammy," "'Owld yer
row!"--admonishes his sister, in the intervals of her husky
accompaniment.... The sodden voice of the mother is so terrible that I
am moved to give her a shilling to go away and remove her poor
suffering babies.... But,--at the angle of Waterloo Place,--another
phantom is stationed; a wretchedly-clothed creature, evidently on the
look-out for a job. He might himself be an incarnation of Famine. His
cheeks are hollow and cadaverous; his eyes are dulled and hopeless; he
shivers in the bleak raw December air;--in the "best of all possible
worlds,--the richest of all possible cities".... The mere "cab-horse's
charter" is not for such as he! Ungrateful country, that deals so ill
with her children, giving them too often "stones for bread!"

     "If suddenly," says Mr. Ruskin, "in the midst of the
     enjoyments of the palate and lightnesses of heart of a
     London dinner-party, the walls of the chamber were parted,
     and through their gap the nearest human beings who were
     famishing and in misery were borne into the midst of the
     company--feasting and fancy-free--if, pale with sickness,
     horrible in destitution, broken by despair, body by body,
     they were laid upon the soft carpet, one beside the chair of
     every guest, would only the crumbs of the dainties be cast
     to them--would only a passing glance, a passing thought be
     vouchsafed to them? Yet the actual facts, the real relations
     of each Dives and Lazarus, are not altered by the
     intervention of the house wall between the table and the
     sick-bed--by the few feet of ground (how few!) which are
     indeed all that separate the merriment from the misery."

It is an effective contrast. But, perhaps the most vivid and pathetic
sketch of the Submerged of the Great City is that of John Davidson's
weird and haunting ballad: "The Loafer":

  "I hang about the streets all day,
      At night I hang about;
   I sleep a little when I may,
      But rise betimes the morning's scout;
   For through the year I always hear
      Afar, aloft, a ghostly shout.

  "My clothes are worn to threads and loops;
      My skin shows here and there;
   About my face like seaweed droops
      My tangled beard, my tangled hair;
   From cavernous and shaggy brows
      My stony eyes untroubled stare.

  "I move from eastern wretchedness
      Through Fleet Street and the Strand;
   And as the pleasant people press
      I touch them softly with my hand,
   Perhaps to know that still I go
      Alive about a living land.

  "I know no handicraft, no art,
      But I have conquered fate;
   For I have chosen the better part,
      And neither hope, nor fear, nor hate.
   With placid breath on pain and death,
      My certain alms, alone I wait."



[Illustration: _Speshul!_]

CHAPTER IX

WESTMINSTER

     "The devout King destined to God that place, both for that
     it was near unto the famous and wealthy City of London, and
     also had a pleasant situation amongst fruitful fields lying
     round about it, with the principal river running hard by,
     bringing in from all parts of the world great variety of
     wares and merchandise of all sorts to the city adjoining;
     but chiefly for the love of the Chief Apostle, whom he
     reverenced with a special and singular
     affection."--_Contemporary Life of Edward the Confessor in
     Harleian M.S._

     "The world-famed Abbey by the westering Thames."--_Matthew
     Arnold._


"Westminster Abbey," said Dean Stanley, "stands alone amongst the
buildings of the world. There are, it may be, some which surpass it in
beauty or grandeur; there are others, certainly, which surpass it in
depth and sublimity of association; but there is none which has been
entwined by so many continuous threads with the history of a whole
nation."

The old Abbey of Westminster, is, indeed, in itself an epitome of
English history. Elsewhere in London, you must dig and delve for it,
study and reconstruct; here, you have it all together, a chain in a
manner unbroken, from Edward the Confessor to the latest of our
Hanoverian Kings, crowned here, so lately and so splendidly, in the
place of his fathers.

The church has, in a manner, been founded many times; by tradition, by
rebuilding, by frequent restoration and enlargement. The earliest
church, or temple, on this ancient site is, indeed, almost lost in the
semi-fabulous mists of early history. To all famous fanes, the
after-years have a tendency to ascribe legendary and miraculous
beginnings; thus, the magic haze that surrounds the primitive church
of the doubtful Saxon King Lucius is hardly less than that covering
the Temple of Apollo, the Sun-god, said to exist here in Roman times.
At any rate, it is clear that on this favoured spot, once the little
sandy peninsula of "Thorney Island," was an early sanctuary and
settlement, both Roman and Briton. In King Sebert's time the mists of
antiquity lift, but still slightly. Sebert, King of the East-Saxons,
was, early in the seventh century, the traditionary founder of a
church here, dedicated to St. Peter. According to the story, Sebert,
just returned from a Roman pilgrimage, was about to have his church
consecrated by the bishop, Mellitus; when, one evening, a poor Saxon
fisher, Edric, who was watching his nets along the shore, saw, on the
opposite river bank, a gleaming light, and, approaching it in his
boat, found a venerable man who desired to be ferried across the
stream. There, the mysterious stranger landed, and proceeded to the
church, where, transfigured with light, and attended by hosts of
glittering angels, he consecrated it, being, indeed, no other than St.
Peter himself:

         "Then all again is dark;
          And by the fisher's bark
      The unknown passenger returning stands.
         _O Saxon fisher! thou hast had with thee_
         _The fisher from the Lake of Galilee_--

     "So saith he, blessing him with outspread hands;
          Then fades, but speaks the while:
     _At dawn thou to King Sebert shalt relate_
         _How his St. Peter's Church in Thorney Isle,_
     _Peter, his friend, with light did consecrate._"

The chronicle relates the story thus:

     "Know, O Edric," said the stranger, while the fisherman's
     heart glowed within him, "know that I am Peter. I have
     hallowed the church myself. To-morrow I charge thee that
     thou tell these things to the Bishop, who will find a sign
     and token in the church of my hallowing. And for another
     token, put forth again upon the river, cast thy nets, and
     thou shalt receive so great a draught of fishes that there
     will be no doubt left in thy mind. But give one-tenth to
     this my holy church."

The story continues that Bishop Mellitus, on hearing Edric's
miraculous tale, changed the name of the place from Thorney Isle to
West Minster.

The tomb of the first traditionary founder of St. Peter's church of
Westminster is still shown in the Abbey to-day, as it has been shown
ever since the time of its erection. Through all the vicissitudes of
the Abbey, its many alterations and restorations, this early relic has
always been treated carefully and with respect. The King of the
East-Saxons sleeps in peace in the choir, with his wife Ethelgoda and
his sister Ricula, first of a long line of kings and potentates.

But if Sebert was the traditional founder of the Abbey, Edward the
Confessor was, unquestionably, its real founder. And, for that matter,
the legends that surround the mysterious Sebert still linger, like a
halo, round the Confessor's memory; he who was, we are told, so
saintly, that being one day at mass in the ancient minster, he saw
"the Saviour appear as a child, bright and pure as a spirit." Truly, a
picturesque age to live in! The rebuilding of the Confessor's church
was, as in the later time of Rahere, the outcome of a vision, and of a
direct message from the saint. Edward, said St. Peter, must rebuild
the ancient minster of Thorney. Edward rebuilt it, laying the
foundation stone in 1049, and naming it "the Collegiate Church of St.
Peter of Westminster." It was the work of the King's life, and it was
only consecrated eight days before his death. Of the Confessor's
chapel and monastery all that now remains is the present "Chapel of
the Pyx," with portions of the Westminster School Buildings and of the
walls of the South Cloister. For Henry III., the Abbey's second
founder, who had "a rare taste for building" pulled down, in 1245,
most of his predecessor's work, and made the splendid miracle-working
shrine that contains the relics of the royal saint. But it was Henry
VII., in 1502, who was the great builder and transformer of the Abbey.
To him we owe the fine perpendicular chapel called by his name, "the
most beautiful chapel in the world," the one building that impresses,
at first sight, every visitor to London. Westminster Abbey, as we see
it now, is probably in externals much as Henry VII. left it, except
for the addition of Wren's two western towers, and "the fact that in
the middle ages it was a magnificent apex to a royal palace,"
surrounded "by a train of subordinate offices and buildings, and with
lands extending to the present Oxford Street, Fleet Street, and
Vauxhall."

Yet, without any of its former palatial accessories, is not the gray
fret-work of Henry VIIth's chapel, as it breaks on the delighted
vision of the traveller down Whitehall, an ever-renewed joy and
wonder? To Henry Tudor we owe the union of the houses of York and
Lancaster; yet we remember him far more by this, the chapel that he
has given us for all time. Truly, he too must have had "a rare taste
in building!" "It is to the exaltation of the building art," says Mr.
Ruskin, in an eloquent passage, "that we owe:

     --"those vaulted gates ... those window-labyrinths of
     twisted tracery and starry light; those misty masses of
     multitudinous pinnacle and diademed tower; the only
     witnesses, perhaps, that remain to us of the faith and fear
     of nations. All else for which the builders sacrificed, has
     passed away--all their living interests, and aims, and
     achievements. We know not for what they laboured, and we see
     no evidence of their reward. Victory, wealth, authority,
     happiness--all have departed, though bought by many a bitter
     sacrifice. But of them, and their life and their toil upon
     the earth, one reward, one evidence, is left to us in those
     gray heaps of deep-wrought stone. They have taken with them
     to the grave their powers, their honours, and their errors;
     but they have left us their adoration."

But, apart from the beauty of its architecture, apart from the
associations and traditions of its early history, apart from its
honour as the place of coronations, the feeling that every true
Englishman has for the Abbey of Westminster must necessarily be
strong; for it represents to him not only the essential spirit of his
mother-city; it is also, in a sense, his national Valhalla,

                    --"place of tombs,
  Where lie the mighty bones of ancient men."--

Here, in this "cathedral close of Westminster," is his true
fatherland. This, he may say, is his national Holy of Holies; the
sacred spot:

  "Wo meine Traüme wandeln gehn,
   Wo meine Todten aufersteh'n."

Here he may feel all the reverence, all the love for his country, that
is ever the birthright of the true citizen. For, not only kings,
queens, and nobles, but also the great and mighty in art, science,
literature, are buried within this narrow space. It is England's
Temple of Fame, her crowing glory of a life of honour and merit. The
"immortal dead" are thus in their death brought near to each one of
us, and become part of our special family. They are our national
inheritance.

Westminster Abbey is "the silent meeting-place of the dead of eight
centuries," the "great temple of silence and reconciliation where the
enmities of twenty generations lie buried." Death is ever the great
peacemaker. Round the mediæval shrine of Edward the Confessor, in its
faded and rifled splendour, lie, in a closely-joined circle, the
peaceful Tombs of the Kings; sturdy Plantagenets, their warfare
ended, the features of their effigies composed in an eternal calm.
They sleep well, after life's fitful fever! In Henry VIIth's chapel,
Mary and Elizabeth, sisters of bitter hate and strange destiny, rest
together in a contracted sepulchre, admitting of none other occupant
but they two. "The sisters are at one; the daughter of Catherine of
Aragon and the daughter of Anne Boleyn repose in peace at last." On
their monument is the striking inscription: an inscription placed
there by James I.; "closing," said Dean Stanley, "the long war of the
English Reformation;" "Regno consortes et urnâ, hic obdormimus
Elizabetha et Maria sorores, in spe resurrectionis." And those great
statesmen of a later age, Pitt and Fox, their life-long rivalry ended,
rest in the north transept, dying in the same year, and buried close
together:

  "Here--taming thought to human pride--
   The mighty chiefs sleep side by side.
   Drop upon Fox's grave the tear,
  'Twill trickle to his rival's bier;
   O'er Pitt's the mournful requiem sound,
   And Fox's shall the notes rebound.
   The solemn echo seems to cry--
  'Here let their discord with them die.'"

The figure of William Pitt, Lord Chatham, in parliamentary robes, his
arm outstretched as if speaking, rises high above the surrounding
monuments:

     "High over those venerable graves," says Macaulay, "towers
     the stately monument of Chatham, and from above, his effigy,
     graven by a cunning hand, seems still, with eagle face and
     outstretched arm, to bid England be of good cheer, and to
     hurl defiance at her foes."

In another splendid passage, Macaulay describes the later burial of
the son near the father:

     "The grave of Pitt had been made near to the spot where his
     great father lay, near also to the spot where his great
     rival was soon to lie.... Wilberforce, who carried the
     banner before the hearse, described the awful ceremony with
     deep feeling. As the coffin descended into the earth, he
     said, the eagle face of Chatham from above seemed to look
     down with consternation into the dark house which was
     receiving all that remained of so much power and glory."

"The silence of death," says Dean Stanley, "breathes here the lesson
which the tumult of life hardly suffered to be heard."

As, then, the Appian Way was to the Romans, so is Westminster Abbey to
us, our "Highway of Tombs." As the stranger walks along the vast Nave
and the Transepts, he passes through a veritable City of the Dead,
commemorated here by every kind of monument, statue, bust, tablet,
cenotaph, tomb. Here are now no more the simple tombs and effigies of
the earliest time, no more the rich, imposing magnificence of the
mediæval shrines, but a later efflorescence of sculpture and ornament,
an efflorescence differing as widely from the severity of former ages,
as the laudatory epitaphs differ from the simplicity and humility of
the early inscriptions. Justice and Mercy, Neptune and Britannia,
cherubs and clouds, are generally very painfully in evidence, and in
their vast size and depressing ubiquity testify to the false taste of
their day. Nor are the monuments always deserved. "Some day," said
Carlyle, cynically, "there will be a terrible gaol-delivery in
Westminster Abbey!" The worst of such theatrical sculpture is, also,
that it always takes up so much room; we, in our day, should often be
glad of the space of one cloudlet,--of one unnecessary virtue,--for
the modest perpetuation of a great man's memory. Who now recalls the
merits of the forgotten magnates of past ages? but Dickens's humble
grave-stone is ever freshly tended, bright with geranium or violet.
Ruskin's small tablet and bas-relief must hang in a dark, unnoticed,
corner, and Tennyson's bust is relegated to a pillar of Poet's Corner.
And what is left, one may ask, of our National Valhalla, for the great
names of a future age?

The solemn dignity of the Confessor's Chapel, and of Henry VIIth's
beautiful chapel behind it, have, after the crude monuments of the
Nave, all the calm of a secluded byway after the clamour of a noisy
street.

Westminster Abbey is full of beautiful pictures. On a sunny day,
especially, the play of light and shade on its pillars, the fretted
tracery of its interlaced arches, the fine harmony of its proportions,
the golden, mellowing, subdued light that enters through its "rose"
windows, the colour of its many tombs and rich marbles, that, on a day
of London winter, so beautifully harmonises with the whole, may well
tempt many an artist. To gain the full glory of the long aisles in
their aerial perspective, the Abbey should be seen from the far end of
the Nave. Everywhere is beauty; but perhaps one of the most lovely
"bits" in the church is that furnished by the three canopied tombs of
Henry III.'s family,--the tombs of Edmund Crouchback, Earl of
Lancaster, Countess Aveline, his wife, and Aymer de Valence. These
three tombs make a charming picture from the Sacrarium, where they
stand; viewed, too, from the aisle just beneath them, two of them
tower up grandly, to their full height; the third, however, that of
Aveline, is hidden from the aisle by an ugly eighteenth-century
monument. (Truly, the eighteenth century has much to answer for!) The
lofty pinnacles of these tombs, the richness of their sculptured
foliage and crockets, and the calmness of their supported effigies,
are very impressive. Among other strikingly picturesque views is that
of the small chapel, or rather, doorway, of St. Erasmus, dating from
Richard II.'s time, a low arch supported by clustered pillars; and
also that of the splendid "Chantry of Henry V.," towering at the
entrance to Henry VIIth's Chapel, above the royal circle of tombs on
either side. Over the Arch that canopies Henry's tomb, (an arch in the
shape of the letter "H,") is the iron bar with the king's shield,
saddle and helmet,--the helmet which we would fain for poetry's sake,
think to be

  --"that casque that did affright the air at Agincourt,"

--but which was, probably, merely a tilting-helmet made for the
funeral. There is a sad humanity about these blackened accoutrements
of the dead, standing out against the golden half-light of the
dimly-seen chapel beyond, hanging so long in their lofty position as
to seem a part of the Abbey itself. Have they not, before now,
appealed to the imagination of many a Westminster school-boy, sitting
below in the choir, and set him wondering about those old Plantagenets
and Tudors, who seem here so much more alive and human than in the
dull pages of a history book?

The best tombs of the Abbey are only free and open to inspection on
Mondays and Tuesdays within certain hours; on all other days, they are
locked up, and people are only "taken round" them at stated times and
under supervision. On Mondays and Tuesdays there is, mostly, a good
assembly of sightseers; and, whether one choses a free day, full of
people, or whether one rather elects to be taken round on a sixpenny
day in custody, in either case one inevitably loses much of the charm
and feeling of the beautiful old church and its associations. On free
days, boys have a tendency to clatter distractingly up and down the
wooden steps that lead to the Confessor's Chapel, with other
diversions natural to the juvenile mind; on sixpenny days, you go in
and out with the crowd in a depressing "queue," while each chapel in
turn is unlocked and its monuments explained in a sad monotone. No
other arrangement, no doubt, is possible; yet, who could penetrate to
the soul of the Abbey under such conditions as these? It is perhaps
not unnatural that the vergers, who have performed the office so
often, should feel a certain satiety in the process, and that they
should wish to hurry the visitor through the chapels as quickly and
perfunctorily as may be; and yet, how charming would it be to spend a
long afternoon here, in study or enjoyment, undisturbed! In an
unwashed and noisy crowd, a crowd which seems to imagine that the
Tombs of the Kings are a species of Waxworks, who can think, or enjoy,
or remember? Moreover, when one is, so to speak, "in custody," one
must always be very careful to do nothing which may draw down on one's
self the suspicion of the custodian. In this connexion one is tempted
to recall the story told of a certain too-conscientious verger in one
of our provincial cathedrals. A devout visitor knelt down at an
altar-tomb; an action for which the said verger promptly reprimanded
him. "I was only praying," murmured the visitor, rising abashed. "Oh,
that can't be allowed," said the verger; "we can't let people pray
about wherever they like; _that would never do_."

In Westminster Abbey they are hardly so particular; and yet, something
of this same sense of restriction the reverent visitor to the ancient
edifice also experiences. His spirit recoils from locked entrance
gates and tours of perfunctory inspection, and yearns for but one hour
of the "bliss of solitude," to invoke, if not the shades of the mighty
dead, at least something of the feeling that clings round their
memorial chapels. It is this feeling that Froude has so well
described: "Between us and the old English," he says in an eloquent
passage, "there lies a gulf of mystery which the prose of the
historian will never adequately bridge. They cannot come to us, and
our imagination can but feebly penetrate to them. Only among the
aisles of the cathedral, only as we gaze upon their silent figures
sleeping on their tombs, some faint conceptions float before us of
what these men were when they were alive; and perhaps in the sound of
church bells, that peculiar creation of mediæval age, which falls upon
the ear like the echo of a vanished world."

And now for the other side of the picture. I was once, on a "sixpenny
day," in the north aisle of Henry VIIth's chapel, admiring the quaint
cradle-tomb of that "royal rosebud" of three days old,--Princess
Sophia,--and pondering over that strange curse of Stuarts and Tudors,
when up came a couple, 'Arry and 'Arriet, of the usual cockney
honey-mooning type. They were evidently "doing" the London monuments
in style, and eschewed free days. The bride seemed tired and somewhat
apathetic; she evidently had to be kept severely up to the mark.

"Funny little nipper," said the young man peeping into the cradle:
"It's a won'erful big child for three days old," said the bride, with
some faint show of interest; and, "my! how silly it _is_ dressed! only
fancy, a cap like that there for a byby!" Then they turned to Queen
Elizabeth's effigy: "I don't like the looks of 'er," said the lady,
with something between a shudder and a giggle: "I come over jes' now
so faint," she continued, her pink colour fading: "it's 'ardly' 'elthy
in 'ere with all these corpses, is it?.... Wax-works is much nicer;
they don't give yer the creeps so. Let's go and 'ave a 'bus ride, an'
give the old Johnny the slip. I think we've 'ad our sixpennorth." So
they went, but alas! they had left me their desecration.

Strange, indeed, are Fate's ironies! Queen Elizabeth and her cousin,
Mary Queen of Scots, rest in the two side aisles of Henry VIIth's
chapel in stately tombs, much resembling one another, erected, with
praiseworthy impartiality, to his "dearest mother" and his "dear
sister," by King James I. In the Stuart vault, close to the unhappy
Queen of Scots, is buried Lady Arabella Stuart, "childe of woe"; that
poor prisoner of the Tower, separated from her loved and just-wedded
husband and kept by her cousin James I. in durance vile, till "her
reason left her," and she died. Even in death her disgrace followed
her, when, for fear of being thought too respectful to one "dying out
of royal favour," the authorities dared not even provide her poor body
with an adequate coffin! Poor "Ladie Arbell!" Of all the tragedies of
English history, none are sadder or more cruel than hers, or reflect,
more vividly, the inhumanity of the time.

The interior of Henry VIIth's Chapel,--in its darkened glory of golden
light, with its fretted roof, its "walls wrought into universal
ornament," its many statues and sculptures, and contrasted dark oak
choir stalls, with the banners of their owners, the Knights of the
Bath, hanging overhead,--is very fine. In the centre of the chapel is
the magnificent tomb of Henry VII., the third founder of the Abbey,
who, with much of the feeling of the men who built the Pyramids,
determined this as the splendid mausoleum of his race. The monument,
enclosed by a screen, or "closure," of gilt copper, is by Torregiano.
Here, with Henry, is buried his wife, Elizabeth of York, in marriage
with whom the king finally united the York and Lancaster cause. Hither
was brought in state, in 1502, the body of this last Queen of the
House of York, dead at twenty-seven, her waxen effigy, with
dishevelled hair and Royal robes, lying outside her coffin:

     "The first stone of the splendid edifice founded by Henry
     VII., and which was to contain all the glory of his race,
     had only been laid a month when his wife, Elizabeth of York,
     died. She lies in its first grave. More wrote an elegy on
     the Queen, who died in giving birth to a child in the
     Tower:--

            "Adieu, sweetheart! my little daughter late,
             Thou shalt, sweet babe, such is thy destiny,
             Thy mother never know; for here I lie.
             At Westminster, that costly work of yours,
             Mine own dear lord, I now shall never see."

In front of the chantry of his grandparents, is the altar-tomb of
Edward VI., the boy-king of sixteen, "flower of the Tudor name"; a
small portion of the frieze of his ancient monument, also by
Torregiano, has survived Republican zeal, and has been let into the
more modern structure.

In one of the five small apsidal chapels at the eastern extremity of
the Abbey is Dean Stanley's fine monument, a recumbent figure, by
Boehm. Here, in the "farthest east" of the Abbey that they so loved
and lived in, he and his wife, Lady Augusta, "devoted servant of her
Queen," rest until the judgment day. The Duke of Buckingham's huge
tomb, that almost blocks another of these small chapels, is
picturesque: and near it, on the floor of the main building, is a blue
slab simply inscribed with the name of "Elizabeth Claypole." Close to
the great shrine of Henry and Elizabeth rests peacefully this
favourite daughter of Oliver Cromwell, the only member of her family
suffered to remain in the Abbey after the Restoration, when the
mouldering bodies of her father and his myrmidons were exhumed and
hanged at Tyburn, showing the furious brutality, unconquered even by
death, of the

  --"foolish people, unsounde and ever untreue."

The "great Temple of Silence and Reconciliation," that had condoned so
many even greater wrongs, has, here alone, failed to protect its dead.

Henry VIIth's Chapel is now mainly used for such functions as the
yearly convocation of the bishops, and for early bi-weekly services
for the deanery and its precincts, &c. Its banners are decaying, its
stalls are no longer used by the "Knights of the Bath"; and the last
banner placed here was that of the Duke of Wellington, in 1804.

As Henry VIIth's Chapel is the mausoleum of the Tudors, so is Edward
the Confessor's Chapel that of the Plantagenets. Here the whole space,
indeed, is "paved with kings, queens, and princes, who all wished to
rest as near as possible to the miracle-working shrine." In the royal
ring of tombs, the treasure, the jewels, the gilt-bronze accessories,
and, in some cases, the arms and even the heads of the effigies have
been raided at some past time. The beautiful effigy of Eleanor of
Castile, wife of Edward I, that "queen of good memory" who accompanied
her lord to the Crusades, and in honour to whom nine monumental
crosses were erected in London, still, however, remains intact. "The
beautiful features of the dead queen are expressed in the most serene
quietude; her long hair waves from beneath the circlet on her brow."
Edward I, the greatest of the Plantagenets, lies near on a bare
altar-tomb of grey marble; a plain monument for so great and glorious
a being. On the north side are the words: "Scotorum Malleus" (the
Hammer of the Scots). At the head of Eleanor, his daughter-in-law,
lies Henry III., the "second founder" of the Abbey; "quiet Henry
III., our English Nestor," who reigned fifty-six years; his effigy is
of gilt brass. Katherine of Valois, widow of Henry V., the ancestress
of the Tudor line, rests under the altar of her husband's chantry; she
it was whose mummified corpse Pepys records that he kissed in 1668,
"reflecting upon it that I did kiss a queene." Queen Philippa of
Hainault, her husband Edward III., and the luckless Richard II.,
complete the royal circle.

Just in front of the screen that stands at the foot of the Confessor's
shrine, are the Coronation Chairs. The most battered and ancient of
these is the old coronation chair of Edward I, enclosing the famous
"Prophetic Stone" or "Stone of Destiny," of Scone; concerning which
the Scots believed, that wherever it was carried the supreme power
would go with it. Edward I. brought it from Scotland in 1297, in token
of the complete subjugation of that country. Every English monarch
since then has been crowned in this chair, and Queen Victoria used it
at her Jubilee service. The second coronation chair, (made for Queen
Mary II., wife of William III.), is only used when kings and queens
are crowned together: it was used for Queen Adelaide in 1831; and
lately for Queen Alexandra.

Opposite the wooden staircase that descends from the Confessor's
Chapel to the ambulatory below, a small doorway leads to the Islip
Chapel; where on "free" days, the "Wax Effigies" may be seen. This
curious and ghoul-like collection is the outcome of a custom dating
from ancient times; the custom of carrying in funeral procession,
first, the embalmed body open on the bier, and subsequently, the wax
effigy, or portrait model, for the crowd to gaze at; the effigy to
rest beside the tomb or monument. Remains of such effigies, broken,
mutilated and often unrecognisable, are extant even as far back as
Queen Philippa's time; these ghastly fragments are however, not on
general view. Eleven wax figures still remain; dirty, but in a
tolerable state of preservation; they suggest a very grimy and
antiquated Chamber of Horrors. Presumably taken from life, or, in
some cases, from a cast after death, they are invaluable as
contemporary likenesses. Charles II., an unpleasantly yellow, ogling
creature in wig and feathered hat, a ghoulish dandy with the
well-known "drop" in his cheeks, confronts us at the top of a narrow
wooden stair. If it be difficult to imagine his fascinations,--those
of his neighbour, "La Belle Stuart," are a trifle more suggestive; yet
here the lady is, surely, no longer very young; and we can hardly
connect her with the figure of "Britannia" on our pence, for which it
is said she consented to sit as model. Queen Anne's effigy (she died
at fifty) is, possibly, flattering; or it may be a more youthful
portrait. Her sad, pale face, in her gorgeous dress, suggest
remembrances of her eighteen dead children, buried in the Stuart Vault
of Henry VIIth's chapel, about the coffin of the Queen of Scots;
"pressing in and around, with their accumulated weight, the
illustrious dust below." Strange doom of the Stuart race! Were these
people merely human and not royal, would not such afflictions win our
sympathy? We hear of James II.'s faults--history is reticent about his
eleven dead children; of "Good Queen Anne's" virtues,--hardly a word
as to her maternal grief. Poor, kindly, amiable queen! as she sits
here in her tarnished grandeur, she seems, of a truth, overpowered by
the "load,"

  --"wellnigh not to be borne,
  Of the too great orb of her fate."

Mary II., a big woman, nearly six feet in height, towers over her
small husband, William III., who, nevertheless, stands on a footstool
beside her. Most witch-like of all is the effigy of Queen Elizabeth,
(a restoration of the Chapter, in 1760, of the original figure carried
at her funeral, which had by then fallen to pieces). The portrait is
evidently from a cast taken after death, for it suggests the wasting
of disease, the anguish of suffering. The Queen seems haunted and
hag-ridden; the wizened and weird appearance of the figure is in
horrid contrast with its gay attire; the high-heeled, gold shoes with
rosettes, stomacher covered with jewels, and huge ruff of the time. A
strange experience, indeed, is this "Islip Chapel"; and one that
leaves a lasting impression!

The small chapels round the Confessor's shrine, separated from it by
the Ambulatories, are filled with interesting mediæval tombs, and some
brasses of great beauty. In one of them is the eighteenth-century
monument of Lady Elizabeth Nightingale, by Roubiliac, so popular among
the Abbey sightseers. This theatrical figure of the skeleton Death
hurling a dart at the dying lady, so affrighted, says tradition, an
intending robber, that he fled in terror, leaving his crowbar behind.
And I can never leave the Abbey without admiring that lovely figure of
the beggar girl holding a baby, in the North Transept, that
commemorates, among surrounding politicians and soldiers, the
charities of a certain Mrs. Elizabeth Warren, dead in 1816.

How dazzlingly the sunlight of London gleams upon us, as we leave the
twilight of the Abbey! We may quit it by the small door of "Poet's
Corner," that door where poor, ill-used, foolish Queen Caroline beat
in vain and undignified effort for admittance to and participation in
her cruel husband's coronation; dying, one short fortnight afterwards,
"of a broken heart." From Poet's Corner we enter upon a pleasant green
sward, diversified by the flying buttresses that, in grand blackness
of London smoke, support the Chapter-House; emerging, presently, into
the strange twentieth-century bustle and din of Victoria-Street. Or,
going out through the front entrance in the North Transept,
("Solomon's Porch,") we come upon St. Margaret's Church, that building
which, beautiful in itself, renders such service to the Abbey, by
presenting it to the eye in its true proportions. The ancient
cloisters, part of which date from the early conventual buildings
here, (a Benedictine house connected with the foundation of the first
minster), may be reached, either through a door from the South Aisle,
or through the neighbouring "Dean's Yard," a pleasant square of
old-fashioned houses, where from time immemorial the merry
Westminster boys have played. If the visitor be of an antiquarian, or
historical, turn of mind, he may now penetrate to the old "Chapel of
the Pyx," a remnant of the earliest times, and the ancient
treasure-house of England's Kings; or to the Chapter-House, an
octagonal chamber, now restored to its pristine beauty by judicious
restoration. If, on the contrary, he merely prefer to wander vaguely,
every turn of the cloisters will present to him a new and charming
picture. Especially in spring are these cloisters delightful, when the
old trees of the courts and closes put on their early green, an
innocent green that contrasts so poetically with the crumbling grime
of the ancient walls. It is the eternal contrast of Life and of Death.
In this favoured spot, the Canons' houses, the old School of
Westminster, and the ecclesiastical precincts generally, are all
entangled in a labyrinth of cloisters, difficult to thread, save to
the elect. School and church buildings, cloisters, picturesque byways
and back streets, seem all here inextricably confused; but this only
renders the locality the more attractive. Suddenly, you come upon a
brass door, announcing, in spotless metal, "The Deanery." It is in a
quiet court, built up under the Abbey's very shadow; and here, facing
you, is the famous "Jerusalem Chamber," a most picturesque building
outside, with ancient, crumbling, (happily not "restored,") stones,
and painted glass windows. Here, as told in Shakespeare, King Henry
IVth died:

  _King Henry_: "Doth any name particular belong
                Unto the lodging where I first did swoon?"
  _Warwick_:    "'Tis called Jerusalem, my noble lord."
  _King Henry_: "Laud be to God! even there my life must end;
                It hath been prophesied to me many years
                I should not die but in Jerusalem,
                Which vainly I supposed the Holy Land;
                But bear me to that chamber; there I'll lie;
                In that Jerusalem shall Harry die."
                                   _Henry IVth_, Act IV, Sc. 4.

The Deanery is a low gabled building, with a charming old-world air.
Further on is a small enclosure called "Little Cloisters;" a tiny
secluded court where the clergy of the Abbey live. Here is a curious
tablet that records the death of a poor sufferer "who through ye
spotted veil of ye smallpox rendered up his pure and unspotted soul."
Reached from Dean's Yard by a vaulted passage and an ancient gate, is
Little Dean's Yard, where is the classic gateway to Westminster
School.

The cloisters, like the Abbey itself, contain many monuments and
inscriptions. One in particular, "Jane Lister, dear childe, 1688"
charmed Dean Stanley, as recalling, in its simplicity, the early
monuments of the catacombs.

The blackened, time-honoured houses of Dean's Yard are now varied by
some new private mansions. Part of the square is now occupied by
"Church House," a kind of large ecclesiastical club and office. Its
main portion, which extends far back into neighbouring streets and
purlieus, is of cheerful red brick.

The narrow streets of Westminster are curious and interesting, if
occasionally just a trifle "slummy." They are generally old, tortuous,
and picturesque; but the old, as in other parts of London, is
gradually being displaced by the new. Westminster is now much sought
after as a residential neighbourhood; building is increasing there,
and rents are proportionately rising. The houses are often much
shadowed and built up to, yet, here and there, charming views of the
Abbey and its precincts almost compensate for want of light. The too
ubiquitous "flats" and "mansions" are multiplying here as elsewhere;
but Cowley Street has still an old world charm, and Queen Anne's Gate
has its attractions. On the Whitehall side, the late removal of the
obstructing Parliament Street, and the rebuilding of Government
offices, have made great structural alterations.

Just outside the Abbey is "Broad Sanctuary," a name that commemorates
the ancient rights and powers of the Church in protecting political
victims and offenders from the law. "The Sanctuary" in mediæval times
was a square Norman tower, containing two cruciform chapels. Here did
that poor Queen, Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV., seek refuge
twice in her chequered and mournful life; it was on her second flight
hither, in her widowhood, with all her children, that her "young
princes, her tender babes," were dragged away from her to be murdered
by their uncle Richard of Gloucester.

In all the structural alterations of Westminster, its old Hall, built
first by William Rufus, has always mercifully been spared. It was
rebuilt by Richard II., who, if only for the sake of such a monument,
deserved of England a better fate. This Hall, which has witnessed more
tragedies than any other London building, is principally famous to us
as the place of trial of Charles Stuart, King of England, 1649. Here,
with the Naseby banners hanging over his devoted head, Charles showed
all that firmness and control that had been so conspicuously lacking
in his life. Macaulay describes it thus:

     "The great hall of William Rufus, the hall which had
     resounded with acclamations at the inauguration of thirty
     kings: the hall which had witnessed the just sentence of
     Bacon and the just absolution of Somers; the hall where the
     eloquence of Strafford had for a moment awed and melted a
     victorious party inflamed with just resentment; the hall
     where Charles had confronted the High Court of Justice with
     the placid courage which has half redeemed his fame."

[Illustration: _Victoria Tower, Westminster._]

On Barry's enormous Gothic Palace, the Houses of Parliament--Time,
which does so much both for the London buildings and for the opinions
of Londoners,--will no doubt deliver a favourable verdict. Its florid
richness of decoration, unsuitable, say art critics, to such a vast
building, was in imitation of Henry VIIth's miniature chapel opposite.
Its galleries and courts, almost as labyrinthine as the Westminster
cloisters, require a long experience to understand and unravel. That
Sir Charles Barry has worked Westminster Hall into his newer palace,
entitles him to our respect and gratitude. In Old Palace Yard is that
equestrian statue of Richard Coeur-de-Lion that has won so much praise
from the greatest of our art critics. Old Palace Yard, too, has tragic
associations. It was here that the Gunpowder Plot conspirators
suffered death, opposite the windows of the house through which they
had carried the gunpowder into the cellars under the threatened House
of Lords. Here, also, Sir Walter Raleigh was executed in 1618.

Where Barry's palace now stands, stood, from Anglo Saxon days till
Henry VIIIth's time, the ancient palace of the English Kings; and
here, in their very palace, grew the germ of those Houses of
Parliament that gradually came to occupy the entire area. The Star
Chamber, the Painted Chamber, St. Stephen's Chapel, were parts of the
old building made familiar to us by association and by history. The
ancient palace was safe under the shadow of its abbey and sanctuary,
till Henry VIII., who defied both abbey and sanctuary, actuated by
Naboth-like desire of possession, moved his residence to Whitehall.
The Whitehall palace is gone as if it had never been; but that of
Westminster has risen again from its ashes. This sacred spot was the
place of our national liberties; here arose the "Mother of
Parliaments."

Not long ago, I was standing on Westminster Bridge in the gathering
twilight; the misty glory of a fine winter's day. The river edges were
sprinkled with a thin crust of silvery frost, the dulled red sun was
going down in splendour behind a galaxy of pink and golden clouds.
Insensibly, as the light faded, and the mist rose, I seemed to lose
the forms of the modern buildings, and to see, as though in a vision,
the "Thorney Isle" of the dim past. The huge "New Palace of
Westminster," with its towers, was for a moment blotted out.... There,
in the dreamy haze of sunset, I saw

  --"the Minster's outlined mass
  Rise dim from the morass."

--That, surely, was no longer the Terrace of the House of Commons,
but a marshy bed of osiers and rushes! The dark shadow yonder, across
the broad river, was it any more the grimy, disused Lambeth
landing-stage, or had it changed to the rude primitive boats of the
Saxon fisher-folk, "moored among the bulrush stems"? The clamour
yonder,--was it the shouting of drunken bargees, or merely the voices
of simple peasants, busy with their nets, singing the evening hymn?...
And was that a barge being towed up stream, or was it not, rather, a
boat crossing to the nearer shore, with its unknown, saintly
passenger? Then, suddenly, a blaze of light irradiating the gloom--is
it the miraculous glow from the consecrated Minster, or....

I start, for some one touches me gently on the shoulder. I turn round,
half expecting to see a Saxon hind in leather jerkin and thonged
sandals.... But a modern lamplighter with tall pole pushes past me,
and----

"Please, lydy, gimme suthin' jis' to keep the life in my little byby,"
wails the voice of the professional beggar, breaking the spell, and
disclosing an unhappy, shawled, and croupy infant. "I ain't got a
place ter sleep in this night. Gawd knows I ain't, dear lydy."

The woman's appearance suggests the public-house, and I realise all
the sinfulness of encouraging croupy (and possibly borrowed) babies to
be out at unseasonable hours; nevertheless, the simpler Anglo-Saxon
mood prevails, and the woman gets my sixpence. She departs with husky
blessings ... and a chorus of coughs. "Ah, poor soul," I thought as I
watched the wretched creature disappear to the shadow of some yet
darker archway, "would not you, and such as you, have found better
shrift in old days?--There was the convent;--there the sanctuary;
there the gracious, unquestioning succour; there the majestic houses
of the Father of Mankind and His special servants.... And ever at the
sacred gates sat Mercy, pouring out relief from a never-failing store
to the poor and the suffering; ever within the sacred aisles the
voices of holy men were pealing heavenwards in intercession for the
sins of mankind; and such blessed influences were thought to exhale
around those mysterious precincts, that even the poor outcasts of
society,--the debtor, the felon, and the outlaw--gathered round the
walls as the sick men sought the shadow of the apostles, and lay there
sheltered from the avenging hand, till their sins were washed from off
their souls...."

But the vision has fled--the present once more dominates.... Now the
lights begin, in serried rows and twinkling patterns, to glow along
the shores of the vast and deceptive Armida-palace; the "cruel lights
of London," hiding so much that is grim, sad, and terrible.... There,
grey against a background of rosy opal, the Houses of Parliament rise
from the silvery river in misty grandeur.... Then, gradually the
"nocturne" changes its key; the darkness deepens, and the Westminster
towers begin to loom up blackly against the lurid sky.... Big Ben
booms solemnly through the invading mist.... For how many centuries, I
wondered, has the evening bell resounded over the marshes of Thorney?
Only in the lapse of time it has somewhat changed its note.... Convent
bell,--church bell,--secular bell! It calls now no longer to prayer
and devotion, but to business, or, maybe, pleasure ... as the blaze of
light that now shines from its tower flashes forth the might of the
Temporal power, not the miraculous workings of the Eternal.... Yet,
"the Lord God of Israel, he slumbers not, nor sleeps." ... How loudly
the strokes peal!... One ... two ... three ... four....

"Move on, please," sounds the voice of the burly policeman, evidently
suspecting my motives, and accrediting me with suicidal intentions.
"Can't stay 'ere all night, y'know."

So I "move on"; and Night, and the river-mist, between them envelop,
as with a pall, the enormous city.



CHAPTER X

KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA

     "In old days ... the hawthorn spread across the fields and
     market gardens that lay between Kensington and the river.
     Lanes ran to Chelsea, to Fulham, to North End, where
     Richardson once lived and wrote in his garden-house. The
     mist of the great city hid the horizon and dulled the sound
     of the advancing multitude; but close at hand ... were
     country corners untouched--blossoms instead of bricks in
     spring-time, summer shade in summer."--_Miss Thackeray, Old
     Kensington._

     "There is not a step of the way, from ... Kensington Gore to
     ... Holland House, in which you are not greeted with the
     face of some pleasant memory. Here, to 'mind's eyes' ...
     stands a beauty, looking out of a window; there, a wit,
     talking with other wits at a garden gate; there, a poet on
     the green sward, glad to get out of the London smoke and
     find himself among trees. Here come De Veres of the times of
     old; Hollands and Davenants, of the Stuart and Cromwell
     times; Evelyn peering about him soberly, and Samuel Pepys in
     a bustle.... Here, in his carriage, is King William the
     Third, going from the Palace to open Parliament ... and
     there, from out of Kensington Gardens, comes bursting, as if
     the whole recorded polite world were in flower at one and
     the same period, all the fashion of the gayest times of
     those sovereigns, blooming with chintzes, full-blown with
     hoop-petticoats, towering topknots and toupées.... Who is to
     know of all this company, and not be willing to meet
     it?"--_Leigh Hunt._

     "Faith, and it's the old Court suburb that you spoke of, is
     it? Sure, an' it's a mighty fine place for the
     quality."--_Old Play._


[Illustration: _Anglers in the Parks._]

The great highway of Knightsbridge,--on the southern side of the
Park,--leads, as everybody knows, from Hyde Park Corner to Kensington.
Kensington, as it is now, is an all-embracing name, a generic term;
it comprises not only Old Kensington, but both "West Kensington," a
new and quickly increasing district of tall flats and "Queen Anne"
houses, as far removed from London proper, for all practical purposes,
as St. Albans; and "South Kensington," a dull and uninteresting
quarter, but close to all the big West-end museums and collections,
and where no self-respecting lady or gentleman of the professional or
"middle classes" can really help living. He, or she, must,
nevertheless, beware lest they stray too far from the sacred
precincts. For, on the west, South Kensington degenerates into Earl's
Court; on the south, a belt of "mean streets" divides it from equally
select Chelsea (and, in London, the difference of but one street may
divide the green enclosure of the elect from the dusty Sahara of the
vulgar); while on the east, its glories fade into the dull, unlovely
streets of Pimlico, brighten into the red-brick of the Cadogan
Estate, or solidify into the gloomy pomp of Belgravia.

These, however, are but Kensington's later excrescences, due to the
enormous increase of London's population, and to the consequent
building craze of the last century. It was the Great Exhibition of
1851 that gave building, in this direction, its great impetus. The
original village of Kensington, the "Old Court Suburb" of Leigh Hunt's
anecdotes, lies in and about the Kensington High Street, the Gardens,
and the Palace. It is pre-eminently of eighteenth century renown;
Pepys hardly mentions it; its glory was after his day. It is reached
from London by the Knightsbridge Road, a thoroughfare that, crowded as
it is to-day by the world of fashion, was, only at the end of the
eighteenth century, so lonely as to be unsafe from the ravages of
thieves and footpads; a road "along which," Mr. Hare remarks
plaintively, "London has been moving out of town for the last twenty
years, but has never succeeded in getting into the country." So
solitary, indeed, was this road that, even at the close of the
eighteenth century, a bell used to be rung on Sunday evenings to
summon the people returning to London from Kensington Village, and to
allow them to set out together under mutual protection. London is not,
even now, well lit as compared with large foreign cities; in old days,
however, the darkness was such as to draw down the well-deserved
strictures of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Such was the insecurity of
that courtly highway, the Kensington or Knightsbridge Road, that it
was the first place to adopt, in 1694, oil lamps with glazed lights,
in preference to the older fashion of lanterns and wicks of cotton.

Some of London's finest mansions are now to be found in this
Knightsbridge Road. On the left, as you go towards Kensington, are
Kent House (Louisa, Lady Ashburton), once lived in by the Duke of
Kent, Queen Victoria's father; Stratheden House, and Alford
House,--this last a fine modern building of brick and terra-cotta,
with high roofs. Beyond Kensington Gore (so called from "Old Gore
House," that once occupied the site of the Albert Hall), is the
attractive and strangely rural-looking Lowther Lodge, now so cruelly
dominated by tall "mansions"; and further still, the vast "Albert
Hall," a red Colosseum of music. This, in spring, is a delightful
drive; indeed, London wears here such a semi-suburban air that it is
with almost the feeling of entering a new townlet that we presently
approach the charming "High Street" of Old Kensington. Charming it is
still, with still something of an old-world air; and yet, during the
last fifty years or so, it has terribly altered. In the old days, the
days when "the shabby tide of progress" had not yet spread to this
quiet old suburb of which Miss Thackeray wrote so lovingly;--had not
yet engulfed "one relic after another, carrying off many and many a
landmark and memory,"--there were "gardens, and trees, and great walls
along the high road that came from London, passing through the old
white turnpike.... In those days the lanes spread to Fulham, white
with blossom in spring, or golden with the yellow London sunsets that
blazed beyond the cabbage-fields.... There were high brown walls along
Kensington Gardens, reaching to the Palace Gate: elms spread their
shade and birds chirruped, and children played behind them."

Yet, even for sweet Dolly Vanborough, Miss Thackeray confesses, Old
Kensington was already vanishing. Already for her "the hawthorn bleeds
as it is laid low and is transformed year after year into iron
railings and areas, for particulars of which you are requested to
apply to the railway company, and to Mr. Taylor, the house-agent." How
much, alas, is left of it now? True, Holland House, and Kensington
Palace, and Gardens, are left inviolate, but Campden Hill is adorned
by the aspiring chimneys of waterworks, the peace of quiet Kensington
Square is invaded by model lodging-houses, the underground railway
defiles the pleasant High Street, and where of old the hawthorn
bloomed, tall placards now advertise "Very Desirable Mansions to be
Let on Exceptional Terms."

[Illustration: _Kensington Palace and the Round Pond._]

But Kensington has not changed in essentials. In those old days it was
already, as it is now, a great Roman Catholic quarter, with convents
and shops for the sale of sacred objects. No great cathedral had as
yet been built there; no Newman as yet looked steadfastly from his
marble alcove over the noisy Brompton Road; the tendencies in that
direction were, however, already paramount.

When a London suburb has once become crowded with houses, what was
once picturesque becomes speedily squalid and sordid; the pretty
village street soon changes to a murky alley, and the ivy-grown tavern
converts itself into a mere disreputable-looking public-house. Of this
sad fact, Miss Thackeray's pleasant lanes, running from Kensington to
Chelsea and Fulham, furnish at the present day abundant proof. The
charming village lanes that at the beginning of last century filled
Kensington and Chelsea,--the dairies such as that where pretty Emma
Penfold dispensed curds and whey,--the cottages with damask
rose-trees,--the tea-gardens, rural as now those on Kew Green,--what
is now their latter end? Their modern realisations--Sydney Street,
Smith Street, Manor Street--are not exactly attractive or savoury
byways. No, it requires palaces and big mansions to keep up the
"rus-in-urbe"; mere cottages cannot do it without degenerating into
drying-grounds, unspeakable back yards, or slums. But, if the old
beauty has gone from Kensington, another beauty, of a different kind,
awaits it. Of such beauty the imposing dome of the "Brompton Oratory,"
seen against a lurid sunset at the end of a vista in the Brompton
Road, is an effective instance. This church, so dramatically placed in
close proximity with the Anglican parish church, is a very striking
object in the landscape; especially striking, too, when the light
"that London takes the day to be," has softened and blended its more
salient architectural features into one dimly glorified mass.

If Kensington is somewhat addicted to "cliques" and to social
exclusiveness, it is, after all, only following out its ancient
traditions. For in older days it was always prim and conservative,
governed by its own laws.

     "There was" (says Miss Thackeray) "a Kensington world ...
     somewhat apart from the big uneasy world surging beyond the
     turnpike--a world of neighbours bound together by the old
     winding streets and narrow corners in a community of
     venerable elm trees and traditions that are almost levelled
     away. Mr. Awl, the bootmaker in High Street, exhibited
     peculiar walking-shoes long after high heels and kid
     brodekins had come into fashion in the metropolis. The last
     time I was in his shop I saw a pair of the old-fashioned,
     flat, sandalled shoes, directed to Miss Vieuxtemps, in
     Palace Green. Tippets, poke-bonnets, even a sedan chair,
     still existed among us long after they had been discarded by
     more active minds."

It all suggests nothing so much as one of Mr. G. D. Leslie's pictures.
The poetic fancy of the writer of _Old Kensington_ is, indeed,
conceived in much the same pleasant minor key as the artist's--the
author of _School Revisited_ and kindred idylls,--both evoking visions
of girls in short waists, lank, frilled skirts, and sandals, amid cool
suburban walled gardens, grass plots, and fountains.

Thackeray lived at three Kensington houses:--first, at that known as
"The Cottage":--No. 13 (now No. 16), Young Street,--from 1847 to 1853;
secondly, at No. 36, Onslow Square, from 1853 to 1862; and thirdly, at
No. 2, Palace Green, where he died. The great writer's daughters, who
must have been quite little children when he first came here, no doubt
knew and loved well their home of so many years. From the daughter's
very vivid reminiscences, we get charming sketches of the life and the
different abodes of the family. _The Newcomes_, _The Virginians_, and
the _Four Georges_ were written in Onslow Square, where, says Miss
Thackeray, "I used to look up from the avenue of old trees and see my
father's head bending over his work in the study window, which was
over the drawing-room." But Onslow Square is close to South Kensington
Station, and the Young Street house, which was the earlier residence,
was certainly in a prettier neighbourhood. Also, it has
double-fronted bay windows, and enjoyed, moreover, the honour of
inspiring its tenant's _magnum opus_, for here Thackeray wrote _Vanity
Fair_, as well as _Esmond_ and _Pendennis_. Most of his work was done
in a second-story room, overlooking an open space of orchards and
gardens. A tablet now distinguishes the window where the novelist
worked, with the initials W. M. T. grouped in a monogram between the
dates of his residence here; the names of the three books of this
period being inscribed in the border.

Artists, who in the early part of last century were still more or less
faithful to the northern suburbs, have, during the last three or four
decades flocked to Kensington and Chelsea. Millais, Leighton, and
others led the way; and now fine studios abound in all the newer and
airy streets of red brick houses. At No. 6, The Terrace, Campden Hill,
poor John Leech, who moved hither from Bloomsbury street afflictions,
died in 1864 from spasm of the heart, at the comparatively early age
of forty-seven. On Campden Hill, also, is "Holly Lodge," Lord
Macaulay's residence; the place, too, where he died, and where he
"loved to entertain all his youthful nephews and nieces." Campden Hill
has still a certain charm, a charm of gardens, terraces, and irregular
houses; it has, too, so many winding ways, that it is easier to lose
one's bearings here, than almost anywhere in London.

Leigh Hunt, the gossiping chronicler of Kensington Court scandals and
celebrities, lived for eleven years, and more successfully than
elsewhere, in Edwardes Square, a charming enclosure, a little way back
from the Kensington Road beyond High Street, and opposite the grounds
of Holland House. Here the versatile writer, the ill starred
"Skimpole" of Dickens's satire, lived with his numerous family,--now
older than in the Cheyne Row period of their existence,--and,
possibly, less addicted to litter, and to borrowing the long-suffering
neighbours' tea-cups. Leigh Hunt's son, Thornton Hunt, thus describes
the Square at this time:--

     "Our square, with its pretty houses and rustic enclosure,
     left with its natural undulations, very slight, but
     sufficient to diminish the formal look, its ivy-covered
     backs of houses on one side, and gardens and backs of houses
     on the other, was a curiosity which, when I first saw it, I
     could not account for on English principles, uniting as it
     did something decent, pleasant, and cheap, with such
     anti-_comme il faut_ anomalies--such aristocratic size and
     verdure in the ground plot, with so plebeian a smallness in
     the tenements. But it seems a Frenchman invented it."

Edwardes Square is, like Kensington Square, still pretty and rural and
attractive. At one end of it, and looking on to the Kensington Road,
is Earl's Terrace, a row of attractive, old-fashioned houses, set back
from the street, with little front gardens. Here, not so very long
ago, lived Walter Pater, continuing the literary associations of the
neighbourhood; a lover of beauty, he, too, but very different from
Leigh Hunt. In Hunt's time, Mrs. Elizabeth Inchbald lived "as a
boarder" at No. 4 in this terrace. Her chief claim to fame is _The
Simple Story_, a work which few people now read, though many have
heard of it. She appears to have been a charming and eccentric as well
as a talented lady. Here is a diary jotting of hers, quoted by Leigh
Hunt:--"On the 29th of June (Sunday) dined, drank tea, and supped with
Mrs. Whitfield. At dark, she and I and her son William walked out, and
I rapped at doors in New Street and King Street and ran away." "This
was in the year 1788," says Hunt, "when she was five-and-thirty. But
such people never grow old.... Divine Elizabeth Inchbald, qualified to
be the companion of every moment of human life, grave or gay, from a
rap at the street door in a fit of mirth to the deepest phases of
sympathy."

Yes, _The Simple Story_ must have been a real work of genius, for no
one, surely, but a genius, could afford so absolutely to disregard
_les convenances_. Though, for that matter, our feminine geniuses of
to-day take themselves a trifle more seriously. Imagine, for instance,
our George Eliots of the twentieth century, our presidents of writers'
unions and clubs, going out late at night to ring people's doorbells
and run away! Such "eternal childishness" really out-Skimpoles
Skimpole. If Providence had seen fit to place the two in contemporary
residence in Edwardes Square, would not Mrs. Inchbald have been a
neighbour after Leigh Hunt's own heart? The lady, it is further
recorded, died--at sixty-eight, too--of "tight-lacing."

Leigh Hunt's must have been an interesting personality, and Dickens's
caricature of him, intended or no, seems cruel. The late Mr. George
Smith, of the great publishing house, tells an entertaining story of
him. On one occasion, it appears, Mr. Smith paid Leigh Hunt £200 in
bank notes:

     "Two days afterwards" (wrote Mr. Smith) "Leigh Hunt came in
     a state of great agitation to tell me that his wife had
     burned them. He had thrown the envelope with the banknotes
     carelessly down, and his wife had flung it into the fire.
     Leigh Hunt's agitation while on his way to bring this news
     had not prevented him from purchasing on the road a little
     statuette of Psyche, which he carried, without any paper
     round it, in his hand. I told him I thought something might
     be done in the matter. I sent to the bankers and got the
     numbers of the notes, and then, in company with Leigh Hunt,
     went off to the Bank of England. I explained our business,
     and we were shown into a room where three old gentlemen were
     sitting at tables. They kept us waiting some time, and Leigh
     Hunt, who had meantime been staring all round the room, at
     last got up, walked up to one of the staid officials, and
     addressing him, said, in wondering tones: 'And this is the
     Bank of England! And do you sit here all day, and never see
     the green woods and the trees and flowers and the charming
     country?' Then, in tones of remonstrance, he demanded: 'Are
     you contented with such a life?' All this time he was
     holding the little naked Psyche in one hand, and with his
     long hair and flashing eyes made a surprising figure. I
     fancy I can still see the astonished faces of the three
     officials; they would have made a most delightful picture. I
     said: 'Come away, Mr. Hunt, these gentlemen are very busy.'
     I succeeded in carrying Leigh Hunt off, and, after entering
     into certain formalities, we were told that the value of the
     notes would be paid in twelve months. I gave Leigh Hunt the
     money at once, and he went away rejoicing."

Opposite the Palace Gardens, where "Kensington Court" now stands,
stood once Kensington House, a big Roman Catholic boarding-house,
surely a kind of early prototype of the modern "mansions." Here
Louise de la Querouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth, lived, and here Mrs.
Inchbald died; later it was occupied by Jesuits, who have had for long
a special stronghold in this quarter. Then, at last, in 1876, the
older house made way for Mr. Albert Grant's pretentious Italian
mansion of the same name, which cost £270,000, and only existed seven
years, having been pulled down in 1883. So involved, and so difficult
to decipher, is the history of London buildings.

"Church House," so vividly described by Miss Thackeray as Dolly
Vanborough's home, stood close to the modern Church Street. And close
to Church Street is Campden House, a modern restoration of the ancient
building of that name, which was burned down in 1862; the gateway of
the old mansion being now built up into the east wall of the garden.
Old Campden House dated from 1612, and was principally known as having
been the residence of Queen Anne's charming and precocious little son,
the Duke of Gloucester, the poor child who died at eleven, "from
excessive dancing on his birthday," the last hope of the race dying
out with him. Campden House had been taken for the boy, so that he
might be near his aunt, Queen Mary, who was very fond of him, and had
him carried daily in infancy to see her at Kensington Palace.

Kensington Square, with its comfortable-looking houses of sober red
brick, and windows with white painted casements, has a delightfully
old-world aspect. Behind the houses are pleasant gardens, as yet--but
for how long?--left untouched by the tide of progress. Thackeray, as
well as his daughter, must have known and loved this square well; for
here he imagined Lady Castlewood, Beatrix, and Harry Esmond to dwell.

[Illustration: _Earl's Court._]

Earl's Court,--now mainly remarkable for the near neighbourhood of
"Olympia,"--the "Great Wheel,"--and an endless colony of railway
lines,--was, some fifty years ago, still "a quaint old row of houses,
their lattices stuffed with spring flowers, facing a deep cool pond by
the roadside," and embowered in orchards. Spots of welcome greenery
there still are in the wide area of West and South Kensington; there
is a big cemetery to be buried in, and the oval enclosure called "the
Boltons" is a pleasant place to live in. But, on the whole, the
purlieus of Kensington are depressing. While West Kensington is
mainly degraded "Queen Anne," interspersed with railways,--South
Kensington has one very general distinguishing mark. It is nearly
always stuccoed, and usually also porticoed. Its larger streets, in
sun or shine, bear a gloomy likeness to an array of family vaults,
awaiting their occupants. The early nineteenth century had, in truth,
much to answer for in the way of bricks, mortar, and stucco,--but
principally stucco! Occasionally there is some faint relief to the
prevailing mode, and here and there some of the smaller roads are
brightened in spring by a few acacias and hawthorns; but in the larger
streets there is usually the same saddening uniformity, and, when once
you have left the vicinity of Kensington Square, you find nothing in
quite the same style until you reach Chelsea and Cheyne Walk.

Chelsea, too, was a very picturesque village in old days,--when the
"Old Chelsea Bun-House" was a favourite resort of the Court,--when
"Ranelagh" and "Vauxhall" flourished in the neighbourhood,--and when
the then fashionable race of London's "jolly young watermen" for their
annual badge attracted, as the Oxford and Cambridge boat-race does
nowadays, crowds of spectators.

Ranelagh and Vauxhall! what recollections do they not suggest of
Fielding, of Richardson, of Fanny Burney! Both these places of
amusement flourished in the latter half of the eighteenth century;
Vauxhall (earlier called "Spring Garden"), was, so to speak, the
"Earl's Court," the summer resort of the day; just as "Ranelagh," with
its famous "Rotunda," was the "Olympia," or winter one. Only, both the
ancient pleasure resorts rejoiced in being the centre of fashion,
which can hardly be said with truth of the modern ones. Also, from old
novelists the reader gathers that it was very dangerous for young
ladies to go unprotected to either place, in case of being run away
with by bold, bad young men of the "Lovelace" type. Charming young
ladies are, perhaps, more of "a drug in the market" now: and they are
besides, as a rule, perfectly well able to take care of themselves.

That managers of those days were not more ignorant than their
twentieth-century successors of the great art of advertising,--the
following extract (from Rogers's _Table Talk_) shows:

     "The proprietors of Ranelagh and Vauxhall used to send
     decoy-ducks among the ladies and gentlemen who were walking
     in the Mall, that is, persons attired in the height of
     fashion, who every now and then would exclaim in a very
     audible tone, 'What charming weather for Ranelagh,' or 'for
     Vauxhall!'"

At any rate, old Vauxhall Gardens must have been a charming place for
flirtation, for "the windings and turnings in little wildernesses
(were) so intricate, that the most experienced mothers often lost
themselves in looking for their daughters." Part of the site of old
Ranelagh is now appropriated as the gardens of Chelsea Hospital; the
site of Vauxhall (in South Lambeth, on the Surrey side) is now covered
by St. Peter's, Vauxhall, and its adjacent streets.

Picturesque in old days, Chelsea is a picturesque place still, and
much beloved of painters, poets, and _littérateurs_;--the class of
Bloomsbury, and yet with a vast difference. Here it is the "mode" to
be select and exclusive. The artistic "cliques" of Tite Street and
Cheyne Walk are nothing if not particular. To use the words of the
modest prospectus issued by a recent magazine, they "will not tolerate
mediocrity." But then no one in Chelsea ever is, or at least allows
himself, to be "mediocre." Perhaps the fortunate inhabitants feel, as
do the denizens of the academic towns of Oxford and Cambridge, the
important weight of the traditions of their literary past. The spirit
of Carlyle, Leigh Hunt, Rossetti, George Eliot, yet gives to Chelsea a
literary atmosphere that it must at all hazards keep up. A
dinner-party in its august cliques is not to be lightly undertaken;
you feel, as you enter, that this is indeed a holy place.

Yet, already, the seclusion and selectness of Chelsea's sacred circles
are being threatened with invasion by the Philistine. On "the other
side of the water,"--where a picturesque suspension-bridge, the
Albert Bridge, throws its graceful chain-curves across Chelsea
Reach,--lies Battersea Park, surrounded on three sides by myriad
red-brick flats of varying cheapness, grown like mushrooms, and still
growing. Here is an infant community, a sort of "townier" Bedford
Park, whose inhabitants can boast, with some truth, that they are
"near the hum of the great city, and yet not of it." Flats are
increasing all over London and its immediate suburbs now to such an
extent that they are, indeed, in some danger of being overdone. In
Central London, the growth of flats is, perhaps, of little
consequence; but in suburban or semi-suburban London, the ubiquitous
builder is the great bloodsucker of our day; he wanders perpetually,
seeking, like the devil, what he may devour; and, on his debatable
"Tom Tiddler's Ground," everlastingly "picking up gold and silver."
But the builder has done good work too in Chelsea; for does not Cheyne
Walk, of picturesque and venerable aspect, with its well-restored,
red-brick, white-casemented houses, and fine old ironwork, lend a
dignity to the western end of the Chelsea Embankment, to which, lower
down, the spacious new red mansions, of ornate yet good style, do no
disgrace? And modest Cheyne Row, containing the most famous dwelling
in all Chelsea, is built in quiet, unobjectionable style.

Carlyle's quiet-looking residence in Cheyne Row is, practically, a
museum of the Soane kind, left exactly as when lived in; the only
difference being that here the relics are purely personal. This, a
real "house of pilgrimage" to the literary world, is, especially, the
resort of cultured Americans, who have even, it is said, had to be
mildly dissuaded from sitting on the Sage's chairs and trying on his
head-gear.

The "Carlyle House,"--desecrated, indeed, to the scandal of the
neighbours, for an interregnum of unholy years by a horde of lawless
cats,--is now entirely restored to its pristine neatness and order. It
is difficult to imagine any place less museum-like and more pleasantly
homely than this silent, peaceful, darkly-panelled abode, which
seems,--backed by its green garden-close,--to be indeed a survival of
the past, breathing forth still the spirit of the departed seer.

It was thus that Carlyle wrote of the street and the house some
seventy years ago:

     "The street is flag-pathed, sunk-storied, iron-railed, all
     old-fashioned and tightly done up; looks out on a rank of
     sturdy old _pollarded_ (that is, beheaded) lime trees
     standing there like giants in _tawtie_ wigs (for the new
     boughs are still young); beyond this a high brick wall;
     backwards a garden, the size of our back one at Comely Bank,
     with trees, &c., in bad culture; beyond this, green
     hayfields and tree avenues, once a bishop's pleasure
     grounds, an unpicturesque yet rather cheerful outlook. The
     house itself is eminent, antique, wainscoted to the very
     ceiling, and has been all new painted and repaired; broadish
     stair with massive balustrade (in the old style), corniced
     and as thick as one's thigh; floors thick as a rock, wood of
     them here and there worm-eaten, yet capable of cleanliness,
     and still with thrice the strength of a modern floor....
     Chelsea is a singular heterogeneous kind of spot, very dirty
     and contused in some places, quite beautiful in others,
     abounding in antiquities and the traces of great men--Sir
     Thomas More, Steele, Smollett, &c. Our Row, which for the
     last three doors or so is a street, and none of the noblest,
     runs out upon a 'Parade' (perhaps they call it), running
     along the shore of the river, a broad highway with huge
     shady trees, boats lying moored, and a smell of shipping and
     tan."

Houses where people have lived, and suffered, and experienced,
always--at least to those who know--seem to bear the impress of their
past owners' personality. Who has not gone back, after long years, to
an old dwelling-place, and been haunted by ghosts of the past, lurking
in every well-known corner and cranny? There is something of the
feeling of standing by a new-made grave,--the grave of what has been,
and will never be again. Such feelings, in a minor degree, does the
Carlyle house suggest to those who have read and interested themselves
in the long-drawn-out tragedy of those joint lives with which it was
bound up. In Mrs. Carlyle's pretty "china closet," for instance, you
can almost see the slender figure in neat black silk, deftly arranging
and dusting; here, in the drawing-room beyond, is her work-table; you
can imagine her, most thrifty of housewives, mending a hole in the
carpet; there in the chimney-corner she lay on her sofa, silently
suffering, while her prophet vociferated his thunders, and puffed
clouds of tobacco-smoke into the chimney. Upstairs, on the top story,
is the much-written-of "sound-proof" room, which was really not
"sound-proof" at all, though it was constructed with that object by
Carlyle at a considerable expense. Possibly, "the young lady next
door" still plays on her piano; most likely the neighbours' fowls
still crow loudly in the mornings (for these minor evils of London are
perennial), in full security now and immunity.

A seated statue of Carlyle, by Boehm,--a real work of art,--faces the
river in the neighbouring Embankment Gardens, close to the Albert
Bridge. Weary, wrinkled, as Tithonus, the old man gazes ever towards
the unceasing tides of the river and of humanity, his look troubled,
but yet

  "majestic in his sadness at the doubtful doom of human kind."

In Upper (or "Little") Cheyne Row, close by the Carlyles, lived for
seven years,--the most embarrassed years in his chequered
career,--Leigh Hunt. (This was from 1833 to 1840, before the Edwardes
Square time.) Could one imagine a greater contrast than these two
Cheyne Row households? The Hunts were Bohemians of irrepressible type.
Mrs. Carlyle, being, too, in 1834 only at the very beginning of her
neat Chelsea housekeeping, and not yet "bug-bitten, bedusted, and
bedevilled," was, naturally, very severe on the subject of the Hunts.
To judge from the letters of "that clever lady, a little too much
given to insecticide" (as Lord Bowen called her), she had but the
poorest opinion of her neighbour's wife's "management" and borrowing
ways. And here is Carlyle's account of the Hunt _ménage_:

     "Hunt's house" (he says) "excels all you have ever read
     of--a poetical Tinkerdom, without parallel even in
     literature. In his family room, where are a sickly large
     wife and a whole school of well-conditioned wild children,
     you will find half-a-dozen old rickety chairs gathered from
     half-a-dozen different hucksters, and all seeming engaged,
     and just pausing, in a violent hornpipe. On these and around
     them, and over the dusty table and ragged carpet lie all
     kinds of litter--books, papers, egg-shells, scissors, and,
     last night when I was there, the torn heart of a
     half-quartern loaf. His own room above stairs, into which
     alone I strive to enter, he keeps cleaner. It has only two
     chairs, a bookcase, and a writing-table; yet the noble Hunt
     receives you in his Tinkerdom in the spirit of a king,
     apologises for nothing, places you in the best seat, takes a
     window-sill himself if there is no other, and then, folding
     closer his loose-flowing 'muslin-cloud' of a printed
     nightgown, in which he always writes, commences the
     liveliest dialogue on philosophy and the prospects of man
     (who is to be beyond measure happy yet); which again he will
     courteously terminate the moment you are bound to go; a most
     interesting, pitiable, lovable man, to be used kindly, but
     with discretion."

In the neighbouring Cheyne Walk have, of course, lived many notable
people. Innumerable associations cling to this picturesque row of
time-darkened red-brick and white-casemented houses, with the graceful
wrought-iron railings and tall gates that shut out their trim
front-garden plots from the curious Embankment. At No. 4, died George
Eliot the novelist, in 1880, a short time after her marriage to Mr.
Cross. She had only recently settled into this charming London
dwelling, and her voluminous library had only just been arranged for
her with infinite care, "as nearly as possible in the same order as at
the Priory," when the sudden stroke of Death fell. Daniel Maclise, the
early-Victorian painter, a meteor of art, and the wonder of his own
age, had lived in this same house before. Cecil Lawson, that young
painter of such great promise, who died so early, lived at No. 15; and
No. 16, or "Queen's House," is bound up with the memory of that
brilliant and wayward genius, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who lived here
after his wife's tragic death, and gathered round him his famous
miscellany of strange beasts and curious creatures.

"Queen's House," unaltered in essentials, has still a picturesque and
old-world air that agrees well with its long history. Its mellowed
bricks of sober red have a pleasant solidity. It used to be called
"Tudor House," owing to its early traditional associations with Queens
Katherine Parr and Elizabeth; for the ancient "Manor House" of
Chelsea, built by Henry VIII., occupied, with its gardens, the site of
this and the adjoining houses; from No. 18 Cheyne Walk eastward as far
as Oakley street. Of the many celebrated people who have lived there,
Sir Hans Sloane was the latest;--the old house was pulled down after
his death. The basements and gardens of the houses in Cheyne Walk
still show traces of this palace of Henry VIII. The present "Queen's
House" is said to have been built by Wren, the Royal Architect, for
the neglected Queen Catherine of Braganza; and some say that the
initials, "C. R.", in twisted iron on the gate and railings,
commemorate her tenancy. However that may be, we may take it that
Thackeray, in _Esmond_, describes it as the home of the old "Dowager
of Chelsey;" and here, again, we note the curious fact that the
fictional interest is at least as strong as the real.

Inside, the house is delightful; all the rooms and passages are
heavily wainscoted, and the balustrade of the spiral staircase is of
"finest hand-wrought iron." When Rossetti entered on its occupation,
Chelsea was still, though literary, comparatively unfashionable; (for
in those days the two persuasions did not as yet go hand-in-hand). The
poet-painter began a joint tenancy here with Swinburne, George
Meredith, and his brother, William Rossetti; of these Swinburne was
the most constant, and he wrote many of his best-known poems here. But
of Mr. Meredith's would-be-tenancy the following story is told, on the
novelist's own authority:--

     "Mr. Meredith had, rather irresponsibly, agreed to occupy a
     couple of rooms in Queen's House.... One morning therefore,
     shortly after Rossetti moved in,--Mr. Meredith, who was
     living in Mayfair, drove over to Chelsea to inspect his new
     apartments. 'It was,' says the unhappy co-tenant, 'past
     noon. Rossetti had not yet risen, though it was an exquisite
     day. On the breakfast table, on a huge dish, rested five
     thick slabs of bacon, upon which five rigid eggs had slowly
     bled to death! Presently Rossetti appeared in his
     dressing-gown with slippers down at heel, and devoured the
     dainty repast like an ogre.' This decided Mr. Meredith. He
     did not even trouble to look at his rooms, but sent in a
     quarter's rent that afternoon, and remained in Mayfair,
     where eggs and bacon were, presumably, more appetizingly
     served."

Rossetti's studio was at the back of the old house; but what the
painter enjoyed most was the garden, an acre in extent in his time,
with an avenue of limes opening out on to a broad grass plot;--part,
no doubt, of the ancient "Manor House" garden:

     "In this garden were kept" (says Mr. Marillier) "most of the
     animals for which Rossetti had such a curious and
     indiscriminate affection. How many of them there may have
     been at any one time does not seem to be stated; but as one
     died or disappeared, another would be got to replace it, or
     Rossetti would see some particularly outlandish specimen at
     Jamrach's and bear it home in triumph to add to the
     collection. Wire cages were erected for their accommodation,
     but these were not always proof against escape, especially
     in the case of the burrowing animals, which had an annoying
     way of appearing in the neighbours' gardens. Mr. W. M.
     Rossetti has given from memory a tolerably long list of
     creatures which at one time or another figured in the
     menagerie at Cheyne Walk. They included a Pomeranian puppy,
     an Irish deerhound, a barn-owl named Jessie, another owl
     named Bobby, rabbits, dormice, hedgehogs, two successive
     wombats, a Canadian marmot or woodchuck, an ordinary marmot,
     kangaroos and wallabies, a deer, two or more armadillos, a
     white mouse with her brood, a raccoon, squirrels, a mole,
     peacocks, wood-owls, Virginian owls, horned owls, a jackdaw,
     a raven, parakeets, a talking parrot, chameleons, grey
     lizards, Japanese salamanders, and a laughing jackass.
     Besides these there was a certain famous bull, a zebu, which
     cost Rossetti £20 (he borrowed it from his brother), and
     which manifested such animosity in confinement that it had
     to be disposed of at once. The strident voices of the
     peacocks were so little appreciated in the neighbourhood
     that Lord Cadogan caused a paragraph to be inserted in all
     his leases thereafter forbidding these birds to be kept."

The house, as I said, is very little changed,--though Mr. Haweis, its
recent occupant, added a statue of Mercury, poised on the ball at its
gable apex,--and its brickwork is said by Mr. Marillier to have "had
an older, more natural look in Rossetti's day." And "in front the
unembanked river, and ... the boating bustle and longshore litter of
the old days added picturesqueness to the view, which in all
essentials was the same as the aged Turner had looked out upon from
his little house not very far away." Ghosts,--of Katherine Parr and
others,--have, not unnaturally, been accredited to "Queen's House."
But they do not appear to have survived Rossetti's tenancy; for Mr.
Haweis, who lived and entertained here for 14 years, was not disturbed
by them, "even though he unearthed the entrance of a mysterious
subterranean passage, which was believed to have communicated with the
Lord High Admiral's House;"--a sort of semi-royal cryptoporticus of
intrigue! Mr. Haweis also discovered the antique watergate of the
former stately mansion--leading to the stone steps where in old days
barges were moored,--the shelving river banks extending in those days
far nearer than now. The great thickness of the walls of Queen's House
may, indeed, be partly accounted for by the necessity for protection
against floods; Mr. Haweis, who sacrilegiously cut a window to light
the spiral staircase, had to pierce three feet of solid brickwork.

Here is a funny story, retailed by Mr. Marillier, of Rossetti and the
advancing Age of Progress:

     "The only bridge along the reach" (he says) "was old Chelsea
     Bridge, concerning which Mr. George Meredith tells me a
     pleasant story. One day there called upon Mr. Rossetti a
     pompous individual of the vestryman class, with a paper to
     which he requested his signature. 'We are getting up a
     petition,' he said, 'to replace the old wooden bridge by a
     handsome new iron one, with gilt decorations, and I am sure
     that you as an artist, Mr. Rossetti, will lend us the weight
     of your name for so desirable an object.' Rossetti's
     language, on occasion, could be more forcible than polite,
     and his unvarnished reception of the vestryman's proposal
     caused that rash but well-meaning person to retire with
     extreme precipitation."

Of all his many pets, Rossetti was perhaps especially devoted to his
wombats. To one of these he addressed the lines:

  "O how the family affections combat
   Within this breast, and each hour flings a bomb at
   My burning soul! Neither from owl nor from bat
   Can peace be gained until I clasp my wombat."

At the same time, it must be confessed, the poet regretted his pet's
inveterate tendencies toward "drain architecture." Rossetti's domestic
proclivities must, one thinks, have rendered him a terror to his
neighbours! Indeed, the only London inhabitant,--if we except the
celebrated "Lady of the Cats" in the desecrated Carlyle House,--who
can be said to have at all emulated him in that line, was Frank
Buckland the great naturalist, who, in his house, No. 34, Albany
Street, Regent's Park, kept "a museum and a menagerie in one." "His
house was full of crawling, creeping, barking, flying, swimming, and
squeaking things." When he was at church one Sunday, "Dick, the rat,"
he relates, "stole away two five-pound notes from my drawers." Among
other creatures Mr. Buckland kept, like Rossetti, a laughing jackass,
who "would never laugh," and "who was only provoked to a titter by the
consumption of a toothsome mouse"; this pet escaped from its cage one
day and was found asleep on the bed of a gentleman near the Hampstead
Road. But Mr. Buckland could at any rate excuse his vagaries on
scientific grounds, for he was trying to acclimatize foreign animals
suitable for food in this country.

The fleeting tide of fashion is now at its height in Chelsea; the
historic old houses of Cheyne Walk are let at enormous rents, and,
year by year, tall, prosaic red-brick edifices spring up like
mushrooms all round them. A few old "bits" of Chelsea still remain
unaltered,--but very few. The old church, and the rectory, the home of
the Kingsleys, with its charming old walled garden, are still
delightful; the embankment houses, standing back behind their gardens
and ironwork, are fine in their dignified, time-hallowed red-brick;
Paradise Row, that picturesque oasis of old dwellings that breaks the
ugliness of the modern Queen's Road West, yet bears witness to the
charm of old Chelsea. In humble Paradise Row, (now part of Queen's
Road West, and converted to laundries and other uses;)--in Paradise
Row, with its quaint tiled roofs, dormer windows, and high white
gate-posts, many well-known people have lived; it was even connected,
more or less, with royalty, for in 1692 it was the dwelling place of
the first Duke of St. Albans, Nell Gwynne's son. Chelsea has always
been associated with the Stuarts. When it was but a picturesque
riverside village,--fishermen's huts diversified by a few old
palaces,--divided yet by space of green fields from the storm and
stress of the greater London,--they brought it wealth and fashion, and
caused its gardens to spread in fragrant greenery down to the water's
edge. The Chelsea of the Restoration had the patronage of the
aristocracy, as well as that of the Royal favourites; here the King's
Mistresses flaunted their grandeur, their extravagance, their
impecuniosity before the world. It was in comparatively humble
Paradise Row that the notorious Duchesse de Mazarin lived in her later
and bankrupt stage; here she entertained royally, and was, besides, in
arrears with the Parish Rates. At No. 2 in Paradise Row lived that
Lord Robartes, Earl of Radnor, who, like the "Vicar of Bray,"
"trimmed" so judiciously through the Jacobite wars. This house (No.
2.), was, by the way, said by Pepys to be "the prettiest contrived
house he ever saw in his life."

King's Road, Chelsea,--now shabby and mediocre enough, but once the
"Merry Monarch's" own private drive, and said to have been made by him
as an easy access to his favourites' suburban resorts,--leads,
finally, to Fulham, and to the old house called Sandford Manor,
traditionally ascribed to Nell Gwynne's tenancy. This ancient mansion,
now divided into two residences, is still unharmed, though, owing to
its too close proximity to the Gas Works, it is now unhappily
threatened with demolition. London, as we know, has ever been more
utilitarian than antiquarian; and perhaps the old house owes its
escape so far to the fact that "it has been used successively as
farmhouse, pottery, cloth manufactory, and patent cask factory."--(Mr.
Reginald Blunt, _An Historical Hand-Book to Chelsea_.) Nevertheless,
its pilastered doorway exists yet, and, internally, it still boasts
its square wainscoted hall and old staircase, much as they were when
King Charles, as the story goes, rode his pony up the stair for a
freak. The old walnut trees, said to have been planted by Nell Gwynne
herself, are gone; but an antiquated mulberry-tree still defies the
railway in front of it, and the awful Gas Works behind it--a very
Scylla and Charybdis of encroaching modernity! A delightful old house,
and yet, surely, all its historical glamour and romance would hardly
enable even an enthusiast to take up his abode there.

The old Church of Chelsea, otherwise St. Luke's,--whose tower of
darkened red-brick lends such picturesque effect to the Battersea
reach beyond the Albert-Bridge,--is, both for its antiquity and its
monuments, one of the most interesting churches in London. Its
interior, never having been "restored," has a very old-world look; and
it still retains, as when it was built, all the simplicity of the
remote village church. Henry Kingsley, whose boyhood was spent in the
delightful old Chelsea rectory, fittingly commemorates his father's
church in his best-known story, "The Hillyars and the Burtons." "Four
hundred years of memory," he makes Joe Burton say, "are crowded into
that old church, and the great flood of change beats round the walls,
and shakes the door in vain, but never enters. The dead stand thick
together there, as if to make a brave resistance to the moving world
outside, which jars upon their slumber. It is a church of the dead."
Dean Stanley greatly loved this church: he used to call it "one of the
chapters of his abbey." Here Sir Thomas More worshipped in the days of
his power, and here, in the chapel that he built, is his monument.
More lived himself near by, in a now vanished mansion called
"Beaufort House," where, in his "fair garden," he received his friend
Erasmus, and also, his king--Henry walking with his arm lovingly
placed about his favourite's neck--that neck he was so soon to
dissever. In Chelsea Church are the famous "chained books," Sir Hans
Sloane's gift; the Bible, the Homilies, and Foxe's Book of Martyrs;
enormous volumes heavily bound in leather with strong clasps, chained,
underneath a bookcase, to a quaint lectern, where they may be read.
This strange custom recalls the monkish days, when printed books were
so rare and costly. The names of the guardian spirits of Chelsea, such
as Lady Jane Cheyne and Sir Hans Sloane,--respectively lady and lord
of the manor, after whom so many streets, squares, and courts have
been christened,--recur here too on elaborate monuments and
sarcophagi. Both were great benefactors to their parish church. Sir
Hans Sloane's daughter was afterwards Lady Cadogan, and hence it was
that the property came into the possession of the Cadogan family.

Sir Hans Sloane is further commemorated in Chelsea by his gift to the
Apothecaries' Company of the "Physick Garden," sometimes also called
the "Botanic Garden." This pleasant green spot, barred by high
railings, and intersected by many paths, used to contain, and contains
this day, so far as may be, "all the herbs of _Materia Medica_ which
can grow in the open air, for the instruction of medical students."
The old gardens have bravely withstood the vandals and iconoclasts of
modern Chelsea, as well as the attacks of builders, seeking what they
may devour; but the growth of bricks and mortar round about them has
but ill suited the delicate plants, which, it is to be feared, grow
now but feebly for the most part. It is long since the days of the
Stuarts,--days when the gardens of Chelsea could still grow roses.
Nevertheless, the "Physick Garden" is still delightful for purposes
quite other than those for which it was first made; and, fortunately,
the terms of the bequest render its alienation difficult and unlikely.
Perhaps, in the happy future, who knows? the garden may be opened
altogether to the Chelsea public. Of its original cedar trees, planted
by Sir Hans Sloane in 1683, but one now remains, and this is very
decrepit; in its decrepitude it is, however, still quite as
picturesque as it could ever have been in its prime. The river, in
pre-Embankment days, flowed close by the Physick Garden, the modern
roadway and parade being land embanked and reclaimed from the river.
The Watergate to Sir Hans's garden has, in consequence, disappeared;
but his statue, erected in 1733, still stands, bewigged and robed,
chipped and stained, on its pedestal by the historic cedar tree.

Close by was the site of Chelsea Ferry, and it was near here that the
Old Swan Tavern, with its attractive wooden balconies projecting over
the river, and an entrance from Queen's Road, used to stand. This was
the famous tavern, house of call for barges, and resort of so many
distinguished pleasure parties, that used to serve as goal for the
annual race,--prototype of the modern Oxford and Cambridge race,--that
was rowed by the young Thames watermen for the prizes of the "Doggett"
badge and the coat full of pockets and guineas. The tavern was
destroyed in 1873 to make room for the new Embankment, which has so
completely changed the aspect of all this part of the river. To quote
a writer in the _Art Journal_ for 1881:--

     "No doubt the Embankment at Chelsea was needed; no doubt the
     broad margin of mud which used to fringe old Cheyne Walk was
     very unhealthy in summer-time; yet no one who cares for what
     is quaint and picturesque, and who clings to relics of the
     old days of which we shall soon have no traces left, can
     recall the river strand at Chelsea, with its wharfs and its
     water-stairs, its barges and its altogether indescribable
     but most picturesque aspect, and not feel as he looks at the
     trim even wall of the Embankment, and the broad monotonous
     pavement above it, even if he does not say in words, 'Oh,
     the difference to me!'"

On the site of the ancient tavern is now built "Old Swan House," a
modern-antique mansion designed in a charming style by Mr. Norman
Shaw. A few paces westward from Old Swan House, the modern red-brick
Tite Street, full of artists' studios and of the elect, runs up
towards Queen's Road. Tite Street is, so far as its externals go,
somewhat dark and shut in by its tall houses; but it more than atones
for any outside dulness by the excessive light and learning of its
interiors. "The White House," near the lower end of the street on the
right, was built for Mr. Whistler. Further up the street--also on the
right--is "Gough House," a fine old mansion of Charles II.'s time, now
most happily adapted to the needs of the Victoria Hospital for Sick
Children.

Close to the site of the old "Rotunda" of Ranelagh, is the famous
"Royal Military Hospital," usually called "Chelsea Hospital," and made
familiar to all the world outside London by Herkomer's great pictures,
"The Last Muster" and "Chelsea Pensioners." It was John Evelyn who
first gained Charles II.'s consent to the erection of a Royal Hospital
for veteran soldiers on this site,--though local tradition, apparently
without any reason at all, persists in attributing its foundation to
Nell Gwynne, who, with all her frailties, was ever the people's
darling, and especially a Chelsea darling. The Hospital building--an
open quadrangle with wings,--was designed by Wren. In colour as well
as form, it is solid and reposeful--a noble example of Wren's style
and taste. The gardens, open to the public during the day, have
something of the calm regularity of old Dutch palaces. But then
Chelsea, in building as in horticulture, had always a tendency to the
neat Dutch formalism of William and Mary.

A little north of Chelsea Hospital, between the modern Union Street
and Westbourne Street, stood, in the days of the Georges, the "Old
Original Chelsea Bun-House," that was for so long the resort of
eighteenth-century fashion. Hither used to drive George I. and his
consort, Caroline of Anspach; George III. and Queen Charlotte also
came here in person to fetch their buns home, which, of course, set
the fashion. The old house had a picturesque colonnade; but in 1839
new proprietors rebuilt it; which rash proceeding, however, killed
the custom.

Since Stuart and early Hanoverian days, times have changed for Chelsea
and Kensington; they are now,--as more distant Hammersmith and Fulham
are rapidly becoming, and as Putney and Dulwich soon threaten to
be,--integral parts of the "monster London," that, like a great
irresistible flood, in spreading absorbs all the peaceful little pools
that lie in its path. The squalor and the gloom, as well as the
splendour and the riches of the great city, are now their heritage.
Never more will the waves lap peacefully at Chelsea along the river's
shelving shores; never again will the streets and squares of old
Kensington regain their former seclusion and calm. Instead, a modern,
and, let us hope, a yearly more beautiful city will spread, gradually
and certainly, over all the available area. Chelsea and Kensington in
the past have had many glories; who can say what splendid fortune may
yet be theirs? And we who lament the inevitable changes of time, must
remember that they are still living cities, hallowed by their past,
interesting by their present, but whose greater and more enduring
magnificence is yet to come.



CHAPTER XI

BLOOMSBURY

  "Some love the Chelsea river gales,
   And the slow barges' ruddy sails,
   And these I'll woo when glamour fails
                              In Bloomsbury.

  "Enough for me in yonder square
   To see the perky sparrows pair,
   Or long laburnum gild the air
                              In Bloomsbury.

  "Enough for me in midnight skies
   To see the moons of London rise,
   And weave their silver fantasies
                              In Bloomsbury.

  "Oh, mine in snows and summer heats,
   These good old Tory brick-built streets!
   My eye is pleased with all it meets
                              In Bloomsbury."


[Illustration: _The German Band._]

The peculiar and somewhat old-world charm of Bloomsbury is, like that
of Chelsea, only made known to her devotees. To the visitor to London,
no less than to the fashionable dweller in the West-End, it is a
grimy, sordid, squalid region, where slums abound, where "no nice
people live," and where mere "going out to dinner" necessitates either
the paying of a half-crown cab fare, or the sacrifice of an hour in
the bone-shaking omnibus. Hence arises the custom of saying that
"Bloomsbury is so far away." Of course, the distance or proximity of
any part of London depends on what one chooses for the centre; but,
taking either Oxford Circus or Charing-Cross--surely natural enough
centres--as the diverging point, Bloomsbury is more central than any
residential part of the metropolis. But even at the play poor
Bloomsbury is maligned; and this, too, notwithstanding the fact that
it is the chosen abode of so many of the theatrical profession. "They
call the place where I live, Bloomsbury," says Mr. Todman, the old
second-hand bookseller of _Liberty Hall_, "though why Bloomsbury, I
don't know; for there ain't so much bloomin' as there is buryin',"
(this, by the way, is a two-edged libel, for Bloomsbury being on high
ground is notoriously healthy). And then the same gentleman goes on to
remark, "they call my 'ouse a ramblin' one, though why it ain't
rambled away to some nicer place, I can't think." We get, from the
same play, a further impression that the Bloomsburians live mainly on
a dish called "Smoked 'Addick." Perhaps the dramatist was led to this
conclusion from the very pervading smell of fried fish that fills
certain "unlovely streets" of cookshops or boarding-houses; where,
however, in my experience the 'addick aroma has always yielded the
palm to that of "sheeps'-trotters" or "stewed eels." Be this as it
may, the old solidly built squares and houses of Bloomsbury have a
dignity of their own. Some of the streets have, it is true, "come down
in the world;" nevertheless, in their decay they retain a mournful
look of having known better days,--a look that even their tenement
rooms,--their broken windows, half-stuffed with paper,--their
shock-headed dirty inmates,--cannot altogether abolish or destroy.
Dickens, who always saw the human side of everything, has often
noticed the peculiar pathos of some of these old, world-forgotten
houses. In his inimitable _Sketches by Boz_ he gives a graphic account
of the gradual decay of a house "over the water." Here, the process is
somewhat similar. First, it changes from a private dwelling-house to a
"select boarding-house"; then, it becomes a friendly, social affair, a
"Home from Home"; then, its area steps become dirtier, its cook sits
on them, shelling peas, and exchanging jokes with the milkman; it
blossoms out in gaudy paint, like a decorator's shop; cracked
flowerpots, of odd shapes and sizes, adorn its windows; and it
descends, by slow degrees, yet further in the scale of "gentility,"
till finally it becomes a mere tenement house, its juvenile population
going in and out with jugs of beer, its area railings hung round with
pewter milk-pots, and its door ornamented with a row of half-broken
bell-chains for the different occupants. And, if you should chance,
too hurriedly, to ring one of these in search of a special inhabitant,
ten to one a cross, dirty-faced female will appear, grumbling: "Can't
yer see as _this_ 'ere is Mrs. Smith's bell?--Two pair back--ye've
rung the wrong 'un!"

The Bloomsbury houses are pathetic, however, not so much from age, as
because their glory has departed,--because they have had their day,
and ceased to be; for, in the matter of actual age, few of them date
back farther than the end of the eighteenth century. Queen Square,
indeed, which is far prior to any of its neighbouring squares, was
laid out in the reign of Queen Anne, in whose honour it was named, and
whose statue still adorns it. It is a curiously shaped square, for,
though enclosed, no houses were built at the northern end; this
arrangement was made for the sake of the fine view of the hills of
Highgate and Hampstead, that the square then commanded. Strange
transformation! The Bloomsbury that we know was then all fields; the
houses of Queen Square being, so to speak, the last sentinels of the
London of that day! Rocques' map of 1746 gives no houses beyond the
northern end of Southampton Row. Between Great Russell Street and the
present Euston Road, was then open country,--called, first, the "Long
Fields,"--then "Southampton Fields," or "Lamb's Conduit Fields."
Earlier, they were famous for their peaches and their snipes; but in
about 1800 they were mainly waste ground, where brawling and
disorderly sports took place, and where superstition asserted that,
two brothers having fought there about a lady, the footsteps they made
in their death-struggle would never again grow grass or herb! "The
Brothers' Steps," the place was called, or, "The Field of the Forty
Footsteps." The present Gordon Square is said to be built upon the
exact spot. The place had, however, always been rife with
superstition; for here, on Midsummer-Day, in the 17th century, young
women would come looking for a plantain leaf, to put under their
pillows, so that they should dream of their future husbands. From
these fields could be seen, in 1746 and far later, but two or three
nobles' mansions, enclosed in their gardens,--such as "Bedford House,"
pulled down to build Bedford Square,--"Baltimore House," long since
built into Russell Square,--and "Montague House," now rebuilt as the
British Museum;--with the old "Whitefield's Tabernacle" appearing
through the trees towards the gardens of the ancient manor of "Toten
Court," which gave its romantic name to the essentially unromantic
Tottenham Court Road. (The ugly "Adam and Eve" public-house, at the
junction of Euston Road and Tottenham Court Road, now occupies the
place both of the old tavern of that name, and the older manor-house.)

The name "Bloomsbury" is, however, of more remote date; it is, like
most London appellations, a "corruption," and comes from
"Blemundsbury," the manor of the De Blemontes, or Blemunds, in the
reign of Henry III. Later, the manor of Bloomsbury came, together with
that of the neighbouring St. Giles, into the possession of the Earls
of Southampton, till in 1668 it passed with Lady Rachel,--daughter of
Thomas Wriothesley, last Earl, by her marriage with Lord William
Russell,--into the family of the Dukes of Bedford, the present owners.
Lord William Russell,--who was beheaded, without a fair trial, in
Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1683, for supposed connection with the famous
Rye House Plot,--lived in Bedford House (formerly Southampton House),
on the northern side of Bloomsbury, originally Southampton, Square.
(The house occupied the whole north side of the square until pulled
down in 1802, after the illustrious Russells had lived there for more
than 200 years.) This was the house admired by Evelyn, in an entry in
his diary of February 9, 1665: "Dined at my Lord Treasurer's, the
Earle of Southampton, in Blomesbury, where he was building a noble
square or piazza, a little towne; some noble rooms, a pretty cedar
chapel, a naked garden to the north, but good aire". It was at first
intended that Lord William Russell should suffer in Bloomsbury Square,
opposite his own residence; but this was apparently opposed by the
King as too indecent.... Poor, heroic Lady Rachel Russell! She lived
here in retirement till her death, at the age of 86, in the reign of
George I. She had, indeed, like Polycrates, given her treasured
"ring", and could fear no more from fate. The great landlords of
London may get their "unearned increment" easily enough now, yet they
had to pay the penalty of greatness in the past!

Bloomsbury Square, though now rapidly becoming simply a square of
offices and business premises generally, was, in the time of Charles
I, the most fashionable and most admired Square in London. Pope,
later, alludes to it in the following couplet:

      "In Palace yard, at nine, you'll find me there--
  At ten, for certain, sir, in Bloomsbury Square--"

Here, in less ancient days, lived the great judge, Lord Mansfield,
whose house was burned during the Gordon Riots, in 1780; the mob threw
his pictures, valuable books, and manuscripts, out of the windows and
made a bonfire of them, while he and his wife escaped for their lives
by the back of the building. Sir Hans Sloane, the founder of the
British Museum, lived at one time in this square; also, Sir Richard
Steele, who, giving here a grand entertainment during financial
distresses, was waited on by bailiffs disguised as lacqueys; and,
finally, Isaac d'Israeli, the father of Lord Beaconsfield: who wrote
his _Curiosities of Literature_ at No. 6. "His only amusement," says
his son, who, as an infant, used to toddle round the square with his
nursemaid, "was to ramble about the booksellers' shops," still so
frequent in this vicinity. About 1760, the square was still so
countrified that the Duchess of Bedford used to send out cards to her
guests, inviting them to Bedford House to "take tea and walk in the
fields"; while their coachmen "were regaled with the perfume of the
flower-beds of the gardens in Great Russell Street." Within the
enclosure is now a bronze statue of Charles James Fox, by Westmacott.

These old London squares, with their tall plane trees, their
luxuriant and well-ordered garden enclosures, convey a delightful
sense, even now, of leisure and repose. No one in Bloomsbury,
Tavistock, or Russell Squares would imagine that behind those green
masses of foliage,--beyond the blue mist into which they melt so
picturesquely,--lies that great "cauldron" or "fermenting vat," as
Carlyle would say, of busy London. Yet it is there, but a stone's
throw, indeed, away. In the squares the birds twitter and chirp;
vistas of entwined branches, leafy glades, hide the glaring
continuity of the streets and houses; you might think yourself in
some suburban haunt of peace. Even the rumble of the wheels in
neighbouring Southampton Row and Holborn seems, in Russell Square in
summer, like a soothing tune "to rock a child asleep." You feel in
the world, yet not of it; close to the "mighty pulse of the
machine," yet in your garden enclosed, and at rest.... And in the
back gardens of the houses themselves (for some of the old mansions
yet have gardens, entered occasionally from side streets by
mysterious Jekyll and Hyde doorways) it is the same. I know a
"backyard" that still boasts its mulberry tree, bursting its fat
green buds gaily in the spring; and another that can flaunt, when
"soft April wakes," its hedge of fragrant lilac. The "daughters of
the varying year" deign to notice us even in Bloomsbury, though they
may not, perhaps, condescend to stay with us quite so long. (But
then we do not ourselves, as a rule, pay such long visits in London
as in the country.) Still, the crocus "breaks like fire" at our feet
in the spring; the graceful bells of the foxglove usher us
pleasantly into the autumn; and in London, imprisoned in brick, who
shall say how we love our "prison flower?"

The literary associations of Bloomsbury are yet another feature of its
charm. Though Russell Square and its surroundings generally are being
gradually rebuilt and improved, yet in some places you can still see
the actual old houses standing that, in the century's early years,
were the homes of celebrated men. Thus, No. 65 in Russell Square was
the abode of Sir Thomas Lawrence, the painter, and here he received
the distinguished sitters, the eminent men and fair ladies who have
made his name famous. Here, for instance, at this common-place house
door, while the Russian general Platoff was having his portrait
painted inside, were posted his attendant Cossacks, "mounted" says an
eye-witness, "on their small white horses, with their long spears
grounded," standing as sentinels at the door of the great painter.
Lawrence died here in 1830, and the house is not in essentials altered
since his day. At No. 5 in the square lived, from 1856 to 1862,
Frederick Denison Maurice, the "Christian Socialist," and here he held
his famous "prophetic breakfasts." At No. 56 Mary Russell Mitford
stayed in 1836. The house near by--No. 66--is a curious survival of
the days when Bloomsbury was a centre of fashion. Its enormous size,
its palatial reception rooms, its tall corridors, now deserted and
solitary except for a few colossal statues in niches, all suggest the
glare of light, the sound of music, the rustle of fine dresses that
filled it in old days. Hawthorne and Dickens suggested that old houses
felt and suffered; the same idea intrudes itself upon us here. The
rusted iron arches that used in the old days to support lamps,--now
darkened,--still hang here and there in Bloomsbury streets; and, in
some cases the actual iron torch-extinguishers that were used when
sedan chairs were in fashion, remain to tell their story of ancient
grandeur. Nothing is in its way more plaintive than an old and
desolate house of this kind; its glory departed, its decorations
falling to decay, its "garden" a wilderness of walls, roofs, and
broken bottles, its rooms, even, perchance, in course of being broken
up into solicitors' or other offices. Bloomsbury Square, indeed--the
square nearest to Holborn--has, in this way, entirely merged into
offices, the residents being practically ousted. But Russell Square,
despite the new Russell Hotel that rises palatially along its
north-eastern block, and despite the large Pitman's School of
Shorthand at its south-eastern corner, is still almost entirely
residential. None of its modern innovations can altogether abolish or
destroy the spirit and feeling of Thackeray that it breathes. Here
lived old Osborne, the purse-proud banker; there is going on old
Sedley's sale; I can see the packing-cases, the "loafers" and the vans
at this moment; and here, by these very prosaic green square railings,
is Amelia, sad and black garbed, looking with tear-filled eyes for her
boy George. Now that she comes into the light, I see that she is only
a nurse from one of the Great Ormond Street or Queen Square hospitals,
or, perhaps, a "Salvation Army" lassie; but for the moment she _was_
Amelia, poke-bonnet and all, to the life. Even the historic square
railings are just the same as when Thackeray drew them, and Amelia
beside them, in ch. 50 of _Vanity Fair_. The numerous pupils of
Pitman's Shorthand Institute now flock, unprotected, down Southampton
Row, where little Amelia and her kind, in the early years of the
century, walked, followed by "Black Sambo," with an enormous cane.
Little Amelia, whose simple strolls in the square were guarded by the
beadle; and before whose door, when asleep, "the watchman sang the
hours." The big houses--their fireplaces and ceilings often decorated
by Adam, their "powder-closets," curious relics of Queen Anne's time,
still existing, in many cases, behind the drawing-rooms--yet flaunt
their enormous kitchens, laundries, and basements, fitted with endless
bedrooms and offices for butlers and retainers, such as old Mr.
Sedley's "Black Sambo" and his tribe. They are out of date in this
region now, but the Bedford estate will not remodel them entirely so
long as their outer walls are solid; and that these mansions existed
long before the modern jerry-building days, their firm walls give
abundant proof.

But change is at work everywhere in this region. Flats ascending to a
terrific height are erected in every direction; of these "Bedford
Court," with its foreign-looking inner glazed courtyard is the most
outwardly picturesque. It does not seem long since the "gates and
bars" went; and soon, no doubt, a new Electric Railway will continue
its tunnels and stations along Southampton Row from Holborn to King's
Cross.

The principal reason, of course, for the modern unfashionableness of
Bloomsbury is to be found in its inhabitants; it is, practically, a
city of cheap boarding-houses. It will be interesting to see how the
big new Russell Hotel in Russell-Square will affect these. Though
boarding-houses are vetoed in the big squares, they abound everywhere
else. They are chiefly frequented by Americans and Germans, who,
through the late summer and autumn, throng the streets, generally
discoverable by their red "Baedekers," no less than by their speech.
It is, in fact, in July or August, more common, just here, to hear
German spoken than English. London, it has been ascertained, attracts
now a greater number of tourists than any other place in the world,
and these tourists mostly lodge in Bloomsbury. The theatrical world,
also, lives largely about here--it is so convenient for the theatres;
but it prefers, for its part, private lodgings, or flats. Yet, even
with all this yearly influx from other nations, Bloomsbury is
wonderfully little known to the world of shops or of fashion. Oxford
Circus is only distant ten minutes from the Russell Hotel, yet "where
is Russell Square?" is no uncommon question, even in a shop as big as
Peter Robinson's. "Where is Russell Square?" is, indeed, an almost
classical question; for it was made in so august a place as the House
of Commons, by so omniscient a being as Mr. Croker. It is
crushing--but so it is. You might as well, in the world's eyes, live
at Fulham or Kennington Park. "Why do you live so far away?" is a
question constantly asked of the Bloomsbury resident by people from
distant Battersea or Campden Hill, whom it would be useless to try to
undeceive. "The very absence of any knowledge of this locality," said
a noted wit, "is accounted a mark of high breeding." Among those who
have spoken despitefully of Bloomsbury is Mr. Gladstone. Sir Algernon
West records a conversation about Panizzi, and his "sad, ill days
before his death," "which Mr. Gladstone attributed greatly to the
fact of his living in Bloomsbury Square." But, with all respect to Mr.
Gladstone, it may be submitted that Panizzi would have died anywhere,
while, on the other hand, he could not have lived anywhere except in
his beloved Museum-land. Bloomsbury, too, is Whig territory, and it
was too bad of Mr. Gladstone to identify it with the Inferno.

Its social glory may have passed away from Bloomsbury, but pathetic
little scenes from a lower strata of life daily enact themselves here
before our eyes. For the poor we have, indeed, always with us. Here,
for instance, to a certain humble street corner, has come for many
years an old blind man who sells collar-studs. He arrives punctually
every morning, led along carefully by his wife. Once arrived, his mode
of procedure is always the same.

He first goes to an iron railing attached to an uninviting blind wall,
and proceeds, with a key, to extract thence a rickety wooden seat,
padlocked on to the railing. This he takes to his accustomed spot, an
old hoarding of ancient date, where he is allowed by sufferance of the
authorities; when the hoarding is removed, the old man will lose his
means of living unless he find another haunt. His wife helps him
across the road, and leaves him to sit patiently all day, east wind,
wet, or shine, selling studs. At five o'clock she again appears to
fetch him home to tea. Once I witnessed a little domestic drama
between the two. It arose thus. The old man had been talking one day
to another woman,--a decrepit old waif she was,--and, when the wife
returned, the poor old husband had to expiate his flirtation sorely.
His wife "let him have it" all the way over the return crossing,
undeterred by passing 'buses, or cabmens' jeers, from "speaking her
mind"; and she was still hard at it, to judge from her thin shoulders
and her gesticulations, as they passed out of sight together into the
foggy night.

[Illustration: _The Pavement Artist._]

"Pavement artists," too, select the near neighbourhood of the squares
as their favoured haunt. These "open-air pastellists," as they have
been called, are a curious, unshaven, dilapidated race, with an
indescribable "come-down-in-the world" look about them; and their lot
seems hardly an enviable one. Their "plant," it is true, is not large;
a few coloured chalks and a soft duster form all their necessary
stock-in-trade. Gifted often with a fair amount of technical ability,
they lead the passerby to wonder, whether, given happier circumstances
and a less vivid acquaintance with the bar of the public house, they
might not now be exhibiting their efforts on the sacred walls of the
Royal Academy. Not that the Royal Academy pictures themselves would,
for that matter, if they could be painted on the pavement, draw so
many coppers as the lurid representations of railway accidents, or
the scenes of domestic bliss, or the "Mother's Grave" (the public love
sentiment and pathos), or even the innocent mackerel or salmon, "as
like as like," that form the _répertoire_ of the pavement artist. His
wares, to catch pennies, have to be highly coloured, if nothing else.
His trials are many; dust and rain efface his pictures, drunken
navvies fall foul of him, cramp attacks his legs, and east wind
benumbs his fingers, till, poor wretch, no wonder that he repairs,
with his hardly won money, to the nearest public-house,--the poor
man's refuge. He is, on the other hand, not obliged to rise early or
to work after dark, and it is said that occasionally his takings
average as much as 4/6 per day, although an amateur who recently tried
his hand at the business only gained 3-1/2_d_, a violent headache, and
nearly a sunstroke. There is, it is true, a new and degenerate kind of
Pavement Artist, who, instead of painstakingly bedaubing the same
"pitch" day after day, brings out with him a series of highly-coloured
oil-pictures on cardboard; the public, however, have already
discovered him to be a hollow fraud. There is also said to be in
existence one young lady pavement artist, in sailor hat and neat
get-up (though where her present "pitch" may be I know not), who
labels herself proudly "the only one in England."

That Londoners are great lovers of the picturesque may be seen from
the admiring crowd that surround the pavement artist; they prefer
Nature, however, brought "home" to them in crude and garish colours.
Yet, as likely as not, when the shabby pastellist has put away chalks
and duster for the day, and betaken himself to his nightly refuge in
Soho or Hatton Garden, the sky behind him will robe itself in intense
hues of orange, purple, and crimson that baffle imitation, and before
which even pavement-art fades into insignificance. For the
sunset-skies of London are a marvel. All through the varying year they
are beautiful, but in September and October they are at their best.
The sun either sinks, a bold red disc, behind the black houses and
still blacker plane trees, or it clothes its retreat with bright
purple and madder clouds, against which, with their golden background,
the tree branches show dark like prison-bars. Was it perhaps, on these
sunset-skies that Christina Rossetti gazed when she wrote her most
inspired poems? And was it from the small window of her gloomy little
house in Torrington Square, "the small upper back bedroom whose only
outlook," her biographer says, "was to the tall dingy walls of
adjacent houses;" was it from here that,--looking with rapt gaze over
to the neighbouring stables and mews,--she saw, in fancy, the angel
choirs of which she wrote?

  "... Multitudes--multitudes--stood up in bliss,
   Made equal to the angels, glorious, fair;
   With harps, palms, wedding-garments, kiss of peace,
   And crowned and haloed hair."

Indeed it is not unlikely that she did see them, for the true poet's
mind sees what it brings, to the exclusion of all meaner things. There
is a pretty story told, in this connection, of William Blake, the
poor, half-crazed poet-painter of Fountain Court. "What," he said, "it
will be questioned" (of me) "when the sun rises, do you not see a
round disc of fire somewhat like a guinea? Oh! no, no! I see an
innumerable company of the heavenly host, crying 'Holy, holy, holy, is
the Lord God Almighty!' I question not my corporeal eye any more than
I would question a window concerning a sight. I look through it, and
not with it." And thus it was with Miss Rossetti. She, the patient,
noble, suffering woman,--suffering, latterly, from a long and painful
illness,--lay, day after day silent and uncomplaining, in that dismal
little London house where she had spent nineteen years of her
life,--her soul ever beating its prison-bars. Near by in the
neighbouring Woburn Square, is Christ Church, where Miss Rossetti
during her life was a constant attendant, and whose incumbent, the
Rev. J. J. Glendinning Nash, was her close friend. Here her impressive
funeral service (where her own poems were sung) took place on January
2nd 1895. The whole of this part of London is bound up with the lives
of the talented Rossetti family. Christina, her mother, and aunts,
lived at No 30 Torrington Square--and before that at 5 Endsleigh
Gardens; W. M. Rossetti, the younger brother and literary critic,
lived near by, close to Regent's Park; and Dante Rossetti, the chief
of this family of poets, was, as we know, a thorough Londoner, and
never even visited Italy at all. One of the most curious things about
London is the way in which, despite its gloom, it inspires and
stimulates the poet's thought, "moulding the secret gold." Else why is
it that so many beautiful things are produced there? Even Mr. Austin
Dobson's Muse, he complains, "pouts" when abroad, though "she is not
shy on London stones!" The many-hued beauties of the country do not
affect us as do the grey London stones and streets, eloquent with
association and history.

If the Rossetti family are deeply connected with Bloomsbury streets
and squares,--William Morris, the poet of _The Earthly Paradise_, the
Socialist, designer, prophet of the House Beautiful, is hardly less
so. It was in unromantic Bloomsbury that his ideas of beauty were
mainly nourished; Oxford Street, Upton, and Kelmscott came later.
Bloomsbury, whose drawing and painting schools are immortalised in
Thackeray's novels (_vide_ "Gandish's," in _The Newcomes_,), has
always been more or less a focus of art teaching. Bohemian in old
days, it is mildly Bohemian still, as any one who frequents the
art-schools of the neighbourhood will testify. When Morris first left
Oxford, in 1856, he and Burne-Jones took rooms together in Upper
Gordon Street, Bloomsbury, as being a convenient locality for the
study of art. Here they fell in with other kindred spirits, such as
Holman Hunt and Rossetti. "Topsy" (Morris) "and I lived together,"
Burne Jones wrote in 1856, "in the quaintest room in all London, hung
with brasses of old knights and drawings of Albert Dürer." In the
following year (1857) they removed to 17 Red Lion Square, a house
already consecrated to the early pioneers of the Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood:

     "It was a first-floor set of three rooms; the large room in
     front looked north, and its window had been heightened up to
     the ceiling to adapt it for use as a studio: behind it was a
     bedroom, and behind that another small bedroom or powdering
     closet. Till the spring of 1859 this was their London
     residence and working place, and it is round Red Lion Square
     that much of the mythology of Morris's earlier life
     clusters. From the incidents which occurred or were invented
     there, a sort of Book of the Hundred Merry Tales gradually
     was formed, of which Morris was the central figure."--(_Life
     of W. Morris, by J. W. Mackail._)

"A great many of these stories are connected with the maid of the
house, who became famous under the name of 'Red Lion Mary.' She was
very plain, but a person of great character and unfailing good
humour.... One of the tales told of her shows her imperturbable good
nature. Rossetti one day, on her entering the room, strode up to her,
and in deep resonant tones, with fearful meaning in his voice,
declaimed the lines:

  "'Shall the hide of a fierce lion
    Be stretched on a couch of wood
    For a daughter's foot to lie on,
    Stained with a father's blood?'

"Whereupon the girl, quite unawed by the horrible proposition, replied
with baffling complacency, 'It shall if you like, sir'!"

From the fact of the Red Lion Square rooms being unfurnished came
practically the beginnings of Morris's work as a decorator and
manufacturer. He set to work to provide it with "intensely mediæval
furniture," designed by himself, and painted in panels afterwards by
Rossetti and Burne-Jones. There were tables, chairs, and a large
settle; "chairs," says Rossetti, "such as Barbarossa might have sat
in." It is pleasant to think of Morris and Rossetti walking arm-in-arm
on summer evenings, wending their way through quaint alleys up to the
Red Lion Square lodgings, deep in earnest conversation; young,
intensely busy and hopeful--still more intensely full of "the joy of
life." They spent their holidays at the not far distant Zoological
Gardens, where Morris, who was fond of birds, would observe and
imitate the habits of eagles:

     "He would imitate an eagle with considerable skill and
     humour, climbing on to a chair, and, after a sullen pause,
     coming down with a soft heavy flop; and for some time an owl
     was one of the tenants of Red Lion Square, in spite of a
     standing feud between it and Rossetti."

Morris had several Bloomsbury abodes. Later, when he married, and the
Red Lion Square household broke up, he and his wife went into lodgings
at 41, Great Ormond Street; and again, some five or six years later,
they took an old house, 26 Queen Square, (now pulled down to make room
for a hospital), a house which, with its yard and outbuildings behind,
had room and to spare for his family, and also for workshops to
accommodate his increasing trade as a decorative manufacturer. It is
sad that London houses where Morris lived should bear no trace of his
beautifying hand; for externally, it must be confessed, such of his
Bloomsbury dwellings as remain extant are commonplace. Red Lion
Square, a curiously antiquated enclosure near Holborn, approached by
paved diverging alleys at the eastern corners, and with a pathetic
look of having known better days (it is now mostly offices and
business flats), contains but few dwelling-houses. No. 17 still
stands, but the only thing about it that seems to suggest the Morris
tradition is its plain green door; and it differs from its neighbours
merely by its middle first-floor window being "heightened up to the
ceiling" as already described. Neither is 41, Great Ormond Street--one
of the smaller houses in that dignified old street--in any way
remarkable, except for its rather dilapidated look. It seems a pity,
by the way, that tablets do not more frequently indicate the houses
where great people have lived; the dullest of London streets would
gain infinitely in interest were this the rule, instead of merely the
exception.

Queen Square, though its old houses have mostly been rebuilt as
large hospitals, and only a few of them remain, still has a charming
old world look. Great Ormond Street, with its tall old mansions of
time-darkened red brick, their quaint overhanging porch roofs, and
their often elaborate iron-work, runs into it at one end; while the
other--curious anomaly at this date!--is still a deadlock of
enclosed gardens, with no thoroughfare into dull Guilford street
beyond. This,--and it is a fact that of itself speaks well for the
health of the district,--is a region of hospitals; hence the
occasional whiff of ether or scent of iodine from bandaged
"out-patients" that greets the traveller by omnibus up Southampton
Row. The high ground on which Bloomsbury is built (for it is a
gradual ascent all the way from the river to Russell Square) render
it, its fogs and soot notwithstanding,--and despite the old
tradition that the victims of the plague were mainly buried
here,--far more bracing then the more fashionable West End. It has,
certainly, its quota of fogs, or "London particulars" as Sam Weller
called them; but so have other parts of London. In and about Great
Ormond Street and Queen Square are many hospitals; large, airy, and
splendidly managed institutions, such, for instance, as the
well-known Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, (abused
as "hideous" by Mr. Hare, principally because "two interesting
houses, Nos. 48 and 49," of real Queen Anne architecture, were
destroyed in 1882 to enlarge it); the National Hospital for Epilepsy
and Paralysis, under the great Dr. Ferrier; and the tall newly-built
Alexandra Hospital for children. In Powis Place, close to Queen
Square, Lord Macaulay lived in early manhood with his family. The
house is now joined to the Homoeopathic Hospital.

In Great Ormond Street, also, on the northern side, is the "Working
Men's College," the history of which is so deeply associated with
Ruskin, Rossetti, Madox Brown, and their friends. Started first by F.
D. Maurice at 31, Red Lion Square, (where Rossetti and Ruskin
subsequently volunteered to hold classes, Rossetti "teaching mechanics
to draw each other," and Ruskin instructing them in the more
rudimentary art of copying leaves, flowers, &c., according to the
"strictest school of Ruskinianism;")--it was subsequently moved to its
present site. In the lives of this gifted community of artists and
teachers, the Working Men's College played no small part, and showed
how deeply these young men were actuated, not only by the love of art,
but also by the feeling of universal brotherhood advocated later by
Morris in the social Utopia he propounded in one of his best known
works. The story of the College may be read in many books and
biographies. The kind of thing it practised, being rare in those days,
attracted strangers and philanthropic aristocrats, who came to look on
and to wonder. Irreverent stories, indeed, are told of the classes
there by mild scoffers,--such as W. B. Scott, for instance,--who
describes Mr. Ruskin's class, as follows:

     "We drove into Red Lion Square, and here I found ... every
     one trying to put on small pieces of paper, imitations by
     pen and ink of pieces of rough stick crusted with dry
     lichens!... I came away feeling that such pretence of
     education was in a high degree criminal--it was intellectual
     murder!"

For Mr. Scott, who was, as he says, "the representative of the
Government schools," some allowance must be made; but Dante Rossetti
himself, though he held a "life"-class, also saw the comic side. "You
think," he said to Mr. Scott:

     "You think I have turned humanitarian, perhaps, but you
     should see my class for the model! None of your _Freehand
     Drawing-Books_ used. The British mind is brought to bear on
     the British _mug_ at once, and with results that would
     astonish you."

On the actual value of these things, opinions, as we see, may differ;
but who can doubt the indirect good that resulted from the effort,
both to teachers and to taught?

The Passmore Edwards Settlement, in Tavistock Place, goes perhaps,
far to realise some of the ideas of Morris's Utopia. To begin with, it
is a thing of beauty. Its newness is not aggressive, and its long
red-brick building, adorned by quaint porches and backed by refreshing
green plane-trees, is a pleasing object as viewed from the essentially
unromantic and grimy street into which it opens. Its architecture is a
credit to the two young men who designed it. Though the building, I
believe, at first excited some adverse comment in Bloomsbury circles,
yet there can be no doubt of its success as a whole. Its style, simple
yet decorative, gains on the beholder. While, externally, it forms a
little "isle of quiet breathing" in Bloomsbury streets, its
proportions and general construction are internally, no less charming.
The big lecture-hall with its white arched roof, its many windows, the
beautifully-proportioned drawing-room with its lovely colouring of
green and red, the well-stocked library, the gymnasium, the
sewing-rooms, the cooking-school, are all arranged and decorated in
the Morris style, and according to Morris's ideas.... Mrs. Humphry
Ward, as every one knows, is the inspiring spirit of the Settlement,
and Mr. Tatton is her warden and prophet. The present building, for
which the funds were principally provided by Mr. Passmore Edwards of
the _Echo_, is the outcome of Mrs. Ward's earlier "settlement" in
Gordon Square. It was built in 1897 on the site of a curious old house
called "The Grove," which stood apart in its own grounds; a house
where Herschel lived and where he first weighed the world; where,
also, report says, that George IV. kept one of his numerous "ladies."
The Settlement, which is of the Toynbee Hall type, is unsectarian, and
therefore looked coldly on by many church people; though, by the
admitted good it works, it has overcome many prejudices. Among the
most novel, and assuredly the most excellent, of its works is the
Cripples' School which is conducted within its walls. It is a pathetic
sight to see the vehicle--half omnibus and half ambulance--carrying
these poor little pupils to and from the Settlement. Also, it
ministers to the highest pleasures of the people; and it is far more
difficult to teach enjoyment than to teach learning. Gymnasiums,
cooking, and social gatherings for all classes alike pave, at any
rate, the way to still larger "departures" and Ruskinian possibilities
in the way of "preaching to the rich and dining with the poor." The
pretty drawing-room of the Settlement looks, with its bay window, on
to a charming green garden once backed by Dickens's old
house,--Tavistock House,--now demolished.

Literary memories attach even to Gower Street; that long, prosaic,
interminable thoroughfare.

Here, at No. 110 (then No. 12, Upper Gower Street, and now utilized
with neighbouring houses as Shoolbred's offices), lived, in 1839,
Charles Darwin; it was described by his son as "a small, commonplace
London house, with a dining room in front, and a small room behind, in
which they lived for quietness." Though Darwin sometimes grumbled, as
men will, over the necessity of living in "dirty odious London," he
also appreciated its peculiar charm, as the following extract will
testify:

     "We are living a life of extreme quietness. What you
     describe as so secluded a spot is, I will answer for it,
     quite dissipated compared with Gower Street. We have given
     up all parties, for they agree with neither of us; and if
     one is quiet in London there is nothing like it for
     quietness.... There is a grandeur about its smoky fogs, and
     the dull, distant sounds of cabs and coaches; in fact, you
     may perceive I am becoming a thorough-paced cockney, and I
     glory in the thought that I shall be here for the next six
     months."

In 1835, too, as Mr. Frith recalls in his amusing _Reminiscences_, he
himself was a boy, just introduced to his first drawing academy,
immortalized as "Gandish's" in the _Newcomes_; that of Mr. Henry Sass,
which still stands, a corner house at No. 6 Charlotte Street, the
Holborn continuation of Gower Street. At the side entrance, under the
classic bust of Minerva,--which, yellowed and antique in more senses
than one, "to this day looks down on the passer-by;"--under this
doorway came not only Frith, but Millais, and other well-known
Academicians. Edward Lear, of much _Nonsense Book_ fame, and much
undeserved neglect as a landscape-painter, "a man of varied and great
accomplishments," was also one of Sass's pupils.

Millais, when a boy attending Sass's school, lived with his parents at
83, Gower Street (the studio was built out behind). Mr. Holman Hunt
thus describes the Millais _ménage_ at the time:

     "It (the studio) was comfortably furnished with artistic
     objects tastefully arranged.... The son put his hand on his
     father's shoulder and the other on his mother's chair, and
     said: 'They both help me, I can tell you. He's capital! and
     does a lot of useful things. Look what a good head he has. I
     have painted several of the old doctors from him. By making
     a little alteration and putting a beard on him he does
     splendidly, and he sits for hands and draperies, too; and as
     for mamma, she finds me all I want in the way of dresses,
     and makes them up for me. She reads to me, too, at times,
     and finds out whatever I want to know at the British Museum
     library. She's very clever, I can tell you,' and he stooped
     down and rubbed his curly head against her forehead, and
     then patted the 'old daddy,' as he called him, on the back."

It was close to Sass's old school, and opposite his benign Minerva,
that I once saw, myself, one bitter May-Day of nipping "north-easter,"
the real old "Jack-in-the-Green" described by Dickens and illustrated
by Cruikshank; the "May-Day sweeps" of the _Sketches by Boz_; "my
lord," "my lady," "clowns," "green," and all. Very wretched and
miserable looked these belated illustrators of an ancient custom, as
they danced and piped through the wind and sleet that usually, by some
strange perversity, usher in the first of May. The Cockney children
who storm the doorsteps, clamorously demanding May-Day tribute, and
crying their shrilly monotonous song:

  "Fust er Ma--ay,
   Dawn er da--ay,
   It's only once a yee--ar"--

are usually suggestive of a cold, cheerless morn.

At the present day, many members of the legal profession still
inhabit Bloomsbury, recalling the old days when, from its residents,
it was dubbed "Judge-Land." Its proximity to Fleet Street renders it
equally beloved by writers; its nearness to the Strand endears it to
"the profession" and the music-hall artistes, who frequent the flats
near Tottenham Court Road; but the bulk of the residential population
is Jewish. Bloomsbury has, however, not only been the chosen abode of
judges, journalists, and Jews, but it is also the home of many sects
and religious communities, some important, and some, if report be
true, mustering but few adherents. There is a by-way off Lamb's
Conduit Street (which is a thoroughfare at the back of Great Ormond
Street, containing, like it, some quaint old houses, as well as some
interesting curiosity-shops); in this by-way is a tiny building,
pathetic in its minuteness, and chiefly discernible from its
projecting gas-lamp, labelled "Church of Humanity." Of this church, a
wit is said to have unkindly remarked, with reference to the size of
its congregation, that it contained "three persons, but no God."
Unitarians muster largely round the Bloomsbury squares; and the
Irvingites, or, as they call themselves, members of "the Catholic and
Apostolic Church," have their principal place of worship,--a fine
building erected for them in 1853,--in Gordon Square. Its door
is--rare indeed in London!--always open, enabling the visitor to enter
and admire the long cloister that leads to the church, and the
decorated interior with its triforium, wheel-window, and side-chapel.
The prayer-books lying in the pews seem much the same as those used by
the English Church, the chief difference being that in them the word
"saint" is always rendered as "angel." This beautiful church and its
strange creed result from the doctrines propounded by Edward Irving,
the Annandale prophet and seer, the preacher of "the gift of tongues,"
who was himself ordained the first "angel" or minister of his sect.
(This Edward Irving was the first lover of Jane Welsh Carlyle,--the
man of whom she said, that if she had married him, "there would have
been no gift of tongues!")

Whitefield's Tabernacle, that early home of Dissent,--where, in 1824,
Edward Irving delivered his famous missionary oration of
three-and-a-half hours,--stands near by in Tottenham Court Road.
Erected first by the preacher George Whitefield in 1756, and called
then "Whitefield's Soul Trap,"--it has been many times rebuilt,--and
is now just re-opened as an imposing red-brick and ornate edifice, on
its original site. Notwithstanding its deplorable newness, it
perpetuates the memory of Whitefield, Toplady, and John Wesley; and it
was here, by a curious coincidence, that two ministers preached their
own funeral sermons!

With Carlyle too, although his chosen home was in far-away Chelsea,
Bloomsbury has associations. At No. 6 Woburn Buildings,--in a dingy
little paved by-way close to New St. Pancras Church, Euston
Road,--Carlyle lodged for a short time in 1831--when trying to get his
_Sartor Resartus_ taken by a publisher. In these lodgings ("a very
beautiful sitting-room, quiet and airy" he describes it), Edward
Irving, his friend, had also stayed. And 5 Ampton Street, Mecklenburgh
Square, was another London lodging of Carlyle's--frequented before the
Chelsea days began in 1834. But, of the many literary men who have
lived in and around Bloomsbury, none is more associated with the
locality than Charles Dickens. Tavistock House has been recently
pulled down; it was an unassuming, ugly, semi-detached dwelling with a
heavy portico, one of three houses all now destroyed, railed off from
the eastern side of Tavistock Square, and entered from it through an
iron gateway. This was the novelist's home for ten years, from 1850 to
1860. He, and his famous New Year's theatricals, are still a
recollection of the older residents in the neighbourhood. The annual
plays of Tavistock House, performed "in a theatre erected in the
garden," and written and stage-managed under the collaboration of
Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, are now matter of history. _Bleak
House_ was the earliest work written here. The house after Dickens's
time became a Jews' college, and the pupils "recreated" in the
novelist's theatre-garden. It is now a sad scene of desolation.
Memories of Bloomsbury haunt many of Dickens's works, but none are
better or more lifelike in their way than his early sketches of the
immortal Mrs. Tibbs--type of her class--and her select boarding house
in Great Coram Street, in "that partially explored tract of country
which lies between the British Museum and a remote village called
Somers Town." Mrs. Tibbs's advertisement to the effect that "six
individuals would meet with all the comforts of a cheerful musical
home in a select private family, residing within ten minutes' walk of
everywhere," is still not uncommonly met with.

But the literary memories of Bloomsbury are like the sands of the sea
for multitude. They may be found even in the dingy streets running
east of Tavistock Square, leading north towards the tram-lines and
general squalor of King's Cross. At No. 26 Marchmont Street, the
youthful Shelley and the still more youthful Mary Godwin, afterwards
Shelley's second wife, lived in 1815, before Harriet's death and their
own legal marriage; and here their first baby was born and died.
"Shelley and Clara go out about a cradle," Mary's diary records, a few
days after the infant's birth. Here Mary read _Corinne_ and
_Rinaldini_, and mourned over her little dead child, "a span-long dead
baby, and in the lodgings in Marchmont Street an empty cradle."
Possibly Marchmont Street then was not quite so slummy as it is now;
but this young couple, treading "the bright Castalian brink and
Latmos' steep," were probably just as unconscious of London mud as of
any disorder, actual or moral, in their establishment.

At 54, Hunter Street, a street just east of Marchmont Street, and now
exhibiting, in all its phases, the gradual decay described by Dickens,
John Ruskin was born in 1819; and here, as he describes in
_Præterita_, he used, at the age of four, to enjoy from his nursery
window "the view of a marvellous iron post, out of which the
water-carts were filled through beautiful little trap-doors, by pipes
like boa constrictors," a mystery which, he says, he was never weary
of contemplating. If any such little observant boy should happen to
live there now, he would have something further to contemplate, to
wit, the frequent green omnibuses, for this is now the much-travelled
omnibus route between the stations of King's Cross and Victoria.
Hunter Street runs into Brunswick Square, where, at No. 32, the
_Punch_ artist John Leech lived for ten years, and suffered many
afflictions at the hands of persistent organ-grinders, who, if they
did not really shorten his life, at any rate aggravated the illness of
which he died. London is conservative in its habits, and
organ-grinders, trooping in from their neighbouring home of Hatton
Garden--even occasionally a low type of nigger minstrels--still haunt
this spot, as they do all places, for that matter, where
boarding-houses congregate. The regular attendance of what is termed a
"piano-organ" always denotes a boarding-house; the louder its screech
the better, for the boarder seems fond of noise. His mode of life is
peculiar and unique. He will sit on the balcony smoking, or eat his
dinner with his friends almost in public; it is all the same to him.
Such sign-manuals betray the "select boarding establishment" almost as
much as does the row of five ornate cracked glazed pots, yellow and
blue alternately, that adorn its lower windows; or to quote Dickens:
"the meat-safe looking blinds in the parlour windows, blue and gold
curtains in the drawing-room, and spring roller blinds all the way
up." Adjoining Brunswick Square on the west is Great Coram Street,
where (at No. 13), Thackeray lived when first married, and wrote his
_Paris Sketch Book_. This district has been altered lately by tall
ugly workmen's flats; but Great and Little Coram Street still
perpetuate the memory of old Captain Thomas Coram, the benevolent sea
captain, and originator of the well-known Foundling Hospital close by
in Guilford Street. This picturesque and important institution is a
kind of show place on Sundays, to which many visitors are taken. The
chapel services, with the raised tiers of boys and girls singing in
trained choir on each side of the big organ presented by Handel, not
only please alike the eye and ear, but have the indescribable charm of
pathos. As Mrs. Meagles in Dickens's novel (_Little Dorrit_) well
expresses it:

     "Oh dear, dear" (she sobbed), "when I saw all those children
     ranged tier above tier, and appealing from the father none
     of them has ever known on earth, to the great Father of us
     all in Heaven, I thought, does any wretched mother ever come
     here, and look among those young faces, wondering which is
     the poor child she brought into this forlorn world, never
     through its life to know her love, her kiss, her face, her
     voice, even her name!"

Blake's poem pictures the scene:

  "Oh, what a multitude they seemed, these flowers of London town!
   Seated in companies they sit, with radiance all their own;
   The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
   Hundreds of little boys and girls raising their innocent hands."

In the early days of the hospital, first established in Hatton Garden
in 1740, the admission of unwanted children was more or less
indiscriminate, and the mortality among them--packed for transit from
the country in some cases "five infants in a basket"--enormous. Now it
is only a "foundling" hospital in that it receives illegitimate
children, who must not be more than a year old, and whose mothers must
personally apply and state their case. The "tokens" left with the
babies in the early days of the institution as means of future
identification, are preserved in the hospital. Some of them are very
curious:

     "Coins of an ancient date ... a playing card--the ace of
     hearts--with a dolorous piece of verse written upon it; a
     ring with two hearts in garnets, broken in half, and then
     tied together; three or four padlocks, intended, we suppose,
     as emblems of security; a nut, an ivory fish, an anchor, a
     gold locket, a lottery ticket. Sometimes a piece of brass,
     either in the shape of a heart or a crescent moon, was used
     as a distinguishing mark, generally engraved with some
     little verse or legend. Thus one has these words upon it,
     'In amore hæc sunt vitia'; another has this bit of
     doggerel:--

          "You have my heart;
           Though we must part."

By admission, after the service, to the long dining-hall, the visitors
are allowed to see the children's temporal, as well as their
spiritual, wants well attended to. Hogarth's _March to Finchley_, a
picture which he practically presented to the hospital, hangs in its
picture gallery, and testifies to the painter's interest in the
institution. The hospital's playing-grounds look into Lamb's Conduit
Street, where often through the railings passers-by stand and gaze at
the children in their quaint uniform, the boys in red and brown,
playing on one side of the gravelled enclosure; the girls, in brown
frocks with white caps, tuckers, and aprons, on the other. In
Mecklenburgh Square, which adjoins the hospital on the east,--the most
curiously secluded square, surely, in all London,--lived George
Augustus Sala, the well-known journalist, whose house was a perfect
museum of curiosities and works of art. "Highly respectable but not at
all fashionable," is the cruel sentence pronounced both upon this
square and its neighbour Brunswick Square. The broken-nosed statue of
the girl with a pitcher, that stands opposite the big iron gates of
the Foundling Hospital (at the opening of Lamb's Conduit Street),
shows how much less reverently inclined the youth of London are to
art, than the Florentine.

This, on a day of atmospheric charm, a day haloed by blue depths of
mist, is, to the chastened eye of the constant Londoner, one of
Bloomsbury's prettiest spots. But others there are as charming; for
instance, the view from Tavistock Square, of the tower of New St.
Pancras Church, that tower imitated from the Athenian "Tower of the
Winds," white against a blue sky; or, more mysterious, the great
towers of St. Pancras Station, as they loom up blackly, like some
mediæval fortress, against a lurid twilight.

Lamb's Conduit Street has many interesting curio-shops: Hindoo idols,
yellow dragons, and the like, glare in quite human fashion at the
passer-by from behind the grimy shop panes; and books and curios,
combined, form the main stock-in-trade of the four quaint diverging
alleys of the neighbouring Red Lion Square, already mentioned. It is a
great mistake, however, to imagine that because a shop is dirty and
tumble-down, its wares will necessarily be cheap. Though Bloomsbury
shops may be slightly cheaper than those of Soho and Wardour Street,
yet here, too, the engaging and generally picturesque old dealer has,
in the case of old china, a keen eye to business; and as regards old
books, that apparent disinclination to sell which is so general among
second-hand booksellers, as to suggest that it is not without its
magnetic charm for the buyer. Some old gentlemen seem, indeed, to
utilize most of the available light of a London winter's day at the
outside counters of these dusty second-hand book emporiums. So long do
they browse, shivering and blue-nosed, in ragged "comforters" and very
inadequate great-coats, that one is tempted to believe the story of
the old scholar who read the whole of a long-sought classic in a
winter's stolen hours at the counter. Seldom, in these days, do the
"twopenny" or "fourpenny" boxes, that used to yield such prizes, now
repay the book-hunter. Old school books, old guide books, and old
sermons, "the snows of yester-year," now mainly fill them. And,
indeed, with such a mine of fiction as Mudie's close by, where kind
gentlemen recommend appropriate reading to timorous old ladies, or,
better still, with such privileges as may be obtained in the
neighbouring Reading Room of the British Museum, practically "for the
mere asking," it is a strange taste to prefer to stand and shiver at a
dingy book-counter. Once inside the sacred portals of the Reading Room
(the stranger having satisfied the Cerberus at the wicket gate that he
or she is "over twenty-one," a point on which there is not generally,
as regards the Reading Room _clientèle_, much doubt), a warm
atmosphere, a comfortable seat, and a luxurious leather desk await the
jaded wayfarer; with, further, polite attendants in the innermost
circle to assist, if necessary, his researches; and, should he be
hungry, a further possibility of a cheap lunch of sausage and mashed
potato flanked by zoological and geological buns in the refreshment
room, a locality now somewhat unkindly sandwiched between Greek heroes
and Egyptian gods.

[Illustration: _Mudie's._]

But such mundane things as sausages are, primarily, far from the
thoughts of the devotee of learning. Entering first the vast Dome of
Knowledge,--where, as in St. Paul's, the blue mist and fog of London
seem to hang, and where, underfoot, floor-cloth deadens all sound,--a
certain solemnity impresses the visitor, a sense, almost, of being in
another world. As, indeed, in some respects he is; for the denizens of
the British Museum Reading Room are, mainly, a race apart and to
themselves. They and their ways, "their tricks and their manners,"
form an interesting study. Day after day, each one has his--or
her--special place in the long diverging galleries that, like spokes
of a wheel, emerge from the central sun of wisdom and electric light
under the dome. Nobody, it is true, may reserve seats; yet often
custom, seconded by public feeling (and that conservatism which is the
birthright of every Londoner), reserves them none the less. The girls
and women are largely of the art-serged, fuzzy-headed type,
occasionally also dowdy and sallow, with that dust-ingrained
complexion so peculiar to Bloomsbury; the men are generally, if young,
badly tailored and long-haired, and, if old, irascible, snuffy and
unwashed.

Was it perchance of any of these that Thomas Carlyle was thinking when
he wrote the following characteristic diatribe?--

     "There are several persons in a state of imbecility who come
     to read in the British Museum. I have been informed that
     there are several in that state who are sent there by their
     friends to pass away their time. I remember there was one
     gentleman who used to blow his nose very loudly every
     half-hour. I inquired who he was, and I was informed that he
     was a mad person sent there by his friends; he made extracts
     out of books, and puddled away his time there."

Woe betide the novice whose evil star leads him to one of these
gentlemen's special haunts! Of course there are a few smart visitors
and a modicum of mere "fribblers" (some years ago, indeed, so many
damsels repaired to the reading-room to skim recent novels, that a
rule was passed forbidding the issue of any recent work of fiction),
but the dowdy, plodding type forms the vast majority. In many cases
the toilers are simply slaves sent by some absentee literary
taskmaster to ferret out knotty points, or to look up references.
Sometimes they are clergymen in search of detail for sermons;
sometimes they are learned Casaubons or untiring Jellybys working on
their own account.... A kind Government provides pens, ink, often
tracing paper, and any amount of civility and trouble, free. It has
been said unkindly by West-Enders, jealous of such liberality, that
Bloomsbury alone should be taxed for the British Museum; such an
injustice, however, has not, so far, been perpetrated!--

That the British Museum is gradually absorbing all the houses near it,
and enlarging its boundaries into a large square, is evident. The
whole eastern side of Bedford Square, and part of the western side of
Russell Square, will soon be amalgamated into the vast building. The
little lions, those ornaments on the old outer railings, about whose
disappearance such an outcry was raised some years back, have been
adapted to the internal use of the Museum, and higher, stronger, more
important railings substituted on the outside in their place. The
large pediment of the portico, imitated--at how long an
interval!--from the Greek model, is, like the statues in the squares,
filled with nesting birds, and is generally also white with the
pigeons' plumage. And, where this enormous building now stands, was
originally Old Montague House, the "stately and ample ancient palace,"
adorned by Verrio and built in the "French pavilion" way, when,
practically, all the rest of Bloomsbury was open country. Where the
big galleries now extend were corridors adorned by fresco paintings:
and where the halls now given up to statues and treasures stand, were
rooms full of light, music, and dancing.

But I am wandering from the present. Yet, in the early winter twilight
of the British Museum galleries, it is easy for vagrant fancies,
unbidden, to arise. The vast dim galleries raise, indeed, ghosts and
visions of a brilliant past, and confer almost humanity on their
marble tenants, gigantic figures shining through the gloom. The Greek
gods of the heroic age,--the creatures "moulded in colossal calm,"--we
can almost imagine the minds who inspired, the workmen who wrought,
the sculptors who fashioned, the temples that contained them. The
stream of life still flows around the feet of these immortal ones, who
in their calm smiling seem to scorn the poor passions of humanity; in
their immortality, to rise above the feeble ebb and flow of human
life. As Aurora they remain ever youthful, while we poor mortals, like
Tithonus, adore their eternal youth and beauty, and ourselves grow
old. Here, in the dim vestibule, is just such a Grecian Urn as that
which Keats apostrophized, with its lovers whose undying youth and
unsatisfied longing he envied.... "Ars longa, vita brevis," indeed! We
go, but they shall endure,--to see "new men, new faces, other minds";
to have, perchance, new labels written for them by future Dryasdusts;
to be invested with fresh attributes by a newer school of ambitious
critics. Many of them have seen cities rise and fall; they have
survived ruin, siege, burial, neglect; and now at last they have come
here to the same dead level of monotony:

  "Deemed they of this, those worshippers,
   When, in some mythic chain of verse
   Which man shall not again rehearse,
   The faces of thy ministers
       Yearned pale with bitter ecstasy?

  "Greece, Egypt, Rome--did any god,
   Before whose feet men knelt unshod,
   Deem that in this unblest abode
   Another scarce more unknown god
       Should house with him"--

If these dead stones could feel, would they not lament their departed
glory? The heroic figure of Mausolus, who, on the pinnacle of his
temple, once drove his marble car, the cynosure of all eyes and the
wonder of the world, outlined against the blue Aegean sky and sea,
and the white-walled city; the gigantic bas-reliefs of the Parthenon,
whose very existence here is the "shibboleth" of æsthetic criticism,
that once adorned the ancient Athenian temple, brilliantly violet and
golden against the faint blue line of the bay and hills of Salamis;
the famous "Harpy Tomb," torn from its sunny Lycian height, and now
glimmering dimly through London fog, guarded by a vigilant
policeman,--what former beauties of surrounding nature do they not
suggest or recall! We forget, in gazing, the nineteenth-century prose
of Bloomsbury, the monotony of its gloomy streets; we forget that we
ourselves are "the latest seed of time," the "last word" of the human
race, dwelling, amid all the dull luxury of civilisation, in the
greatest and richest city of the world. And, leaving the gallery by
way of the vast and unique Assyrian collection of sculptures, passing
through the two colossal human-headed bulls that guard its entrance,
creatures whose excavation from the buried city of Nineveh forms one
of the most romantic of modern discoveries; passing out into the misty
sunshine and the flying doves before the pediment, we recall again
Rossetti's wonderful lines, with their final suggestion of a future
lost and rediscovered London--rediscovered under the dust and oblivion
of future ages:

  "And as I turned, my sense half shut
   Still saw the crowds of kerb and rut
   Go past as marshalled to the strut
   Of ranks in gypsum quaintly cut.
       It seemed in one same pageantry
   They followed forms which had been erst;
   To pass, till on my sight should burst
   That future of the best or worst
   When some may question which was first,
       Of London or of Nineveh.

  "For as that Bull-god once did stand
   And watched the burial clouds of sand,
   Till these at last without a hand
   Rose o'er his eyes, another land,
       And blinded him with destiny:--
   So may he stand again; till now,
   In ships of unknown sail and prow,
   Some tribe of the Australian plough
   Bear him afar--a relic now
       Of London, not of Nineveh!"



CHAPTER XII

THEATRICAL AND FOREIGN LONDON

                  --"All the world's a stage,
  And all the men and women merely players...."--_Shakespeare._

  "O gleaming lamps of London, that gem the City's crown,
  What fortunes lie within you, O lights of London Town!"--
                                    _G. R. Sims, Ballads of Babylon._


As I was travelling, one day in winter, by the familiar and homely
'bus whose "hue is green and gold"; not however, the "St. John's Wood"
'bus, but that humbler and more business-like one which runs between
Victoria and King's Cross, I observed, as we ascended Long Acre, a
young woman get in at Bow Street, followed by a "lady friend" at Drury
Lane. They were hot, untidy, and, as to their attire, muddy,
be-bugled, and be-plushed; also, one of them carried a large and
equally be-bugled baby. After their first salutations, they panted for
a few minutes, out of breath; then:--

"I've got it, duckie," cried the Bow Street charmer, a young woman
with a big black fringe, and the owner of the overdressed and
pasty-faced baby.

"What have you got, dearie?" inquired her friend, who wore a dirty
blouse that had once been yellow, under a heavy plush fur-trimmed cape
(the month was November). The 'bus sat expectant.

"'E's made me a thief!" (The 'bus, to a man, or rather, woman,
started.) "I told 'im as I'd give 'im no peace till 'e did; I was
bound to go back an' back, till 'e give me somethin'. An' now,
sweetie, I'm one er the forty thieves, at a quid a week, and find
nothin'. Ain't _that_ somethin'?"

A light broke in upon the wondering 'bus, and all the auditors
peacefully resumed their papers or their reflections. Of course, it
was the Drury Lane pantomime! It was stupid of us not to have guessed
it before, for the "dearie," "duckie" and "sweetie" ought to have
suggested it at once! Also, the dresses of the two interlocutors,
which, now that I looked at them again, seemed to have on the beholder
that peculiar effect of combined smartness and disorder that, for some
reason or the other, distinguishes the "pro;" the "pro,"--that is,--of
the lower ranks of the theatrical profession.

_The_ profession (as it is expressively and somewhat exclusively
called by its devotees) embraces, of course, as many "sorts and
conditions of men" as the equally large profession of newspaper
writers. While it still remains a cruel fact that any one picked up
"drunk and incapable" in a London street is usually described in next
day's _Police News_ as either a journalist or an actress, there can
yet be no doubt that the Bohemianism of the past, so far as the higher
class of the theatrical world is concerned, is going out of fashion.
With few exceptions, it is only among the lower ranks of "pros," or in
music-halls, that it largely exists. These exceptions are, usually, to
be found among those who have suddenly risen from obscurity on the
theatrical firmament, to shine as bright "stars" for some brief
period. Nowhere is success so sudden, so overwhelming, so blinding as
it is in this vast city of London; and nowhere, alas! is that success
so soon over, forgotten, eclipsed. The deity of one season is forsaken
in the next; the Ruler-of-the-Universe must perforce return to his
hovel, and, to say truth, he generally takes the change badly. London
has a short memory. But the medal has its pleasanter reverse side.
For, _per contra_, the young woman who has for years, maybe, blushed
unseen in Camberwell, wasted her sweetness on seaside "fit-ups," and
lorded it in third-rate provincial companies, may, suddenly, by some
unexpected turn of Fortune's wheel, find herself elevated to the
highest salaries in the profession. From a penurious lodging in the
slums,--a daily "third return" from Gower Street,--she may rise,
almost in the twinkling of an eye, to £40 a week, a flat in Mayfair,
and a daintily-clipped poodle!

It is, of course, the fame of such sudden successes that suffices to
"turn the heads" of ignorant neophytes, who are but too apt to forget
the common maxim, that "the many fail, the one succeeds." Thus it is
that the stage has been for years flooded with girls of all classes,
all eager for distinction, and all, alas! desiring "the palm without
the dust!" Rising actresses have, as a rule, but one ambition--to act
in London, to charm London audiences. Better, some think, a three-line
part at the Lyceum than a "juvenile lead" at Leamington; better twenty
weeks of the Criterion than a cycle of the Counties; better a
curtain-raiser in the Haymarket than Shakespeare's Rosalind at
Darlington or Preston. Hence the cruel and heart-rending
"struggle-for-life" among young actresses in this big city of London;
hence the weeks of slow starvation in Bloomsbury lodgings or Soho
garrets, waiting for work that never comes. It is, indeed, for them,
the "dust without the palm." Disappointed hopes, shattered ambitions,
tragic suicides,--what stories could some of those Bloomsbury garrets
tell!

  "O cruel lamps of London, if tears your light could drown,
   Your victims' eyes would weep them, O lights of London Town."

Theatrical managers are callous; they can, indeed, hardly be
otherwise, for the stage, like journalism, is scarcely "a charitable
institution"; and the supply of stage applicants is far greater than
the demand. When a new play is to be produced at a theatre, see how
its waiting-rooms and grimy staircases are daily crowded with young
men and women, all eager, all well-dressed, and all anxiously trying
to conceal their often desperate need of money. For they must always
be well-dressed; no self-respecting manager will ever think twice of a
shabby or dowdy young woman; and dress is difficult to procure on a
starvation diet.

In certain quarters of the Strand and of Soho, "ladies" are to be
found who act as superior "old clothes" dealers, buying, at cheap
rates, the fine dresses of society butterflies from the maids of these
latter, and retailing them again at enhanced prices to the poor
neophytes in the theatrical profession. The custom, no doubt, is
advantageous to all parties concerned; to the fine lady, who must not
be seen more than three or four times in the same gown; to the maid,
to whom the said gowns are "perquisites"; and, lastly, to the poor
girl who must, _coûte que coûte_, procure her brocades, her gold lace
and tinsel for her provincial tours. (London managers usually provide
the ladies' dresses themselves; the men of the company, on the other
hand, must provide their own.)

Though actors and actresses live, nowadays, in all parts of London,
yet, perhaps, they most incline to Bloomsbury and Soho, which classic
region they have, indeed, haunted for centuries. In old Tudor and
Shakespearean times Shoreditch and Bankside were the favoured spots,
just as, later on, Covent Garden with its "Piazza," its Opera-houses,
and its general air of Bohemianism, became the chosen locality. The
histrionic art is no longer solely associated with Covent Garden and
Bohemianism; indeed, the stars of the profession now belong, rather,
to the smartest "set" in society; they often inhabit Mayfair,--and all
doors, even those of royalty,--are open to them. But, just as the
"rank and file" of the profession still haunt the classic
neighbourhood of the "Garden," so the large bulk of actors and
actresses are still to be found in the adjacent and convenient
districts of Soho and Bloomsbury. In Bloomsbury, especially, are
yearly rising innumerable red-brick flats, abodes largely tenanted by
the theatrical profession. Their surroundings tell of them; "by their
fruits ye shall know them." Hair-dressing shops, florists' shops,
cheap jewellery shops, all these betray the tastes of the profession,
and all these abound in the neighbourhood.

The pantomimes, owing to the enormous number of people they employ, as
well as to the great fillip they give to certain trades and
occupations, play no inconsiderable part in the vast web of London
life. That the Pantomime, as a yearly pageant, has so much increased
in glory of recent times, is due mainly to the efforts of the late Sir
Augustus Harris, who may, indeed, be said to have reached the
high-water-mark of splendour in the Christmas show. Many hundreds of
girls and women, often married and supporting families, are employed
in the vast choruses of the Drury-Lane Theatre,--"the Lane" as it is
called in local parlance; many hundreds of men, scene-shifters,
carpenters, mechanics, and the like, are required for the production
of its stupendous effects. Pantomime-land is, indeed, to those who
know it, a country and a life in itself. From autumn to spring its
rigors last; from October to March its workers labour. A few weeks
before Christmas, the annual fever is at its height. Not only grown
people, but children too, are pressed into the service; hence, no
doubt, the pretty "steps" daily practised, throughout the year, by
Cockney girl children before street-organs. Yet, the class whence
these children are drawn is generally a more or less superior one;
superior, at any rate, to that which one would naturally imagine.
Once, in walking down Museum Street, I chanced to get just behind
three nice little girls and their mother. It was a foggy, murky
evening, and they were evidently taking the direct route for Drury
Lane. They were pretty children, red-cloaked, rosy-cheeked, and neatly
shod, and they tripped along demurely, holding each other's hands;
their mother, neat also, if a little threadbare, walking behind them,
keeping a careful and approving eye on her little flock.

"Yes, they're all engaged for the winter at the 'Lane,'" she told me,
in response to my sympathetic inquiry. "And it's a great help to me,
it is, indeed; for my husband's ill, and he doesn't ever expect to get
much better.... They're in the 'Flower Ballet'; the eldest, Lina,
she's a Pansy; and the two younger ones, they're both Daisies....
Quite a short scene; they're off in twenty minutes.... Interfere with
their schooling? nothing to speak of, and they enjoy it. Yes, I take
'em there, and fetch 'em back, twice every day; I can make shift to
leave my husband for that time ... and I don't like 'em to run the
streets alone.... But here we are...." a sudden lifting of the fog, a
sudden glare of light, and then the Pansy, the Daisies, and their
maternal attendant, were swallowed by the big jaws of the devouring
"Lane."

A lady who went on the pantomime stage, by special favour, for one
night only, for the sake of the experience, has entertainingly related
her adventures. Decked for the evening in a gay cavalier's hat, a
velvet cloak, gorgeous trappings, and "tights," she got through her
allotted part very creditably, though with no little nervousness. The
tights specially distressed her, and she was hardly consoled by the
wardrobe-mistress's kind assurance, that the cloak was "so very
ample!" What struck her principally, in the whole thing, was the good
humour and high spirits of the ladies of the chorus and ballet, who
all of them joked and laughed incessantly, called each other by pet
names, and seemed, like children, to know no care or trouble in the
world. For the moment they enjoyed, or appeared to enjoy, the whole
thing, and yet some of these very girls were, she knew, poor married
women whose lives were filled with domestic cares. These regular
winter engagements must, indeed, have been welcome, for their earnings
averaged from 25_s._ to 30_s._ a week for six evening performances,
with extra pay for the daily matinées.

The pantomime is, however, hardly good to count on as a living, being,
after all, but intermittent; the rank-and-file of the people engaged
in the pantomime business have therefore often other avocations, and
are not all full-blown "pros" with ambitions and yearnings. Not for
such as these are the cruel disappointments, the insulting slights,
the heart-rending procrastinations that break the spirit of so many
young men and maidens in the "profession." If some of these could,
indeed, know all that was in store for them, would they so gaily have
embraced the theatrical career? It is a pity that they cannot be first
disillusioned by a year's apprenticeship; yet even that might be of no
avail, for when once they have experienced the magic glamour of the
footlights, there is, indeed, little hope of return. Yet, to the
outsider, who has never felt this glamour, there seems to be but
little attraction about even a London stage rehearsal. The theatre is
usually dark, and always dirty; the actors, especially those in
secondary parts, seem but little impressed or interested; dressed,
too, in their ordinary clothes, they look foolish, and their fine
sentiments seem out of place. Even the protagonists are a trifle
chilly: when Juliet or her next-of-kin unromantically munches
sandwiches, seated on a dusty box in the wings; when Romeo, or his
more modern prototype, uses language more convincing than elegant; and
when both are addressed with almost painful familiarity by the dirty
"call-boy," the glamour of the whole thing is apt, so far as the
spectator is concerned, to be somewhat dispelled. Then, the manager is
peremptory; the unhappy author quivers with emotion--and generally
also with cold--in the stalls; people have a decided tendency to lose
their tempers, and the onlooker is reduced to wonder dumbly,--whether
things can possibly "pull themselves together" for the imminent "first
night,"--and how in the world the dingy, draughty theatre can
conceivably transform itself into the home of glory, wealth, and light
that the favoured audience of the "première" know. These things are
certainly an experience.

[Illustration: _The "Gods."_]

"Good society," says M. Taine (in his _Notes on England_), "does not
go to the theatres, with the exception of the two opera houses, which
are the exotic and hothouse plants of luxury, and in which the prices
of admission are enormous, and evening dress is imperative. As to the
others, the audience is recruited from among the lower middle class."
This, although it contains a small element of truth, is, nevertheless,
a manifest exaggeration. For smart society is a great supporter of the
drama, and even royalty, whose attendance in the theatre is always
announced beforehand by the supply of white silk programmes in the
royal box, occasionally vouchsafes its presence. Especially is there
always a great _furore_ over the procuring of "first night" seats at
the best London theatres. So far, indeed, as the audience of the
stalls is concerned, the "first-nighters" are, more or less, always
the same people; influential magnates, editors, aristocratic "patrons
of the drama," and a certain proportion of smart London people, those
of whom it has come to be known that they make a point of attending
every "first night" of any distinction. Sometimes invitations are
issued; sometimes, it is a case of making early application. The
_entrée_ to certain first nights is a kind of social distinction.
Often a supper party is given after the performance, on the cleared
stage; at such gatherings a spirit of geniality prevails, and smart
society does obeisance generally to the bright particular stars of the
drama. With the more plebeian pit and gallery it is otherwise. These
unreservedly express their feelings, and, after first representations,
voice the sentiments of the multitude. These, if the curtain be at all
belated in rising, raise the house by din and hubbub; the noise that
they make, indeed, is apt to scare the uninitiated; it resembles a
revolution on a small scale. The pit and gallery are very intent on
getting their money's worth; for they always pay for their seats, and
pay, not only in coin of the realm, but in sad and weary hours of
waiting in the cold, drizzled street. Who has not noticed, on days of
bright spring weather and dreary autumn alike, a long crowd of patient
men and women waiting uncomplainingly in a long file till the theatre
doors should open and admit them? At the Lyceum, the file,--and this
not only on first nights,--extends far round the corner into the
Strand. At the Haymarket Theatre, or the newer Her Majesty's,--it
reaches far up towards Piccadilly Circus. Sometimes a few among the
patient crowd have provided themselves with campstools; sometimes,
too, kindly managers or thoughtful ladies like Miss Ellen Terry send
out five o'clock tea to the suffering humanity nearest to the theatre
doors; and, certainly, the "cup that cheers" must prove exceptionally
cheering when one has waited for it in the chilly street ever since 9
A.M.! For very important first-night performances, nine, or at latest
10 A.M. is essential if the playgoer would make at all sure of the
front row. It is a long day's picnic; yet the crowd remains ever
amiable and stoical. One may, indeed, learn not a little of philosophy
and bonhomie from that motley crew, who,--whether they be ladies from
the suburbs, calmly eating sandwiches,--superior artisans taking "a
day off,"--city clerks,--shop-girls,--or dressmakers' apprentices come
to study the prevailing modes,--are all uniformly cheerful. From hour
to hour homely jest and rough witticism enliven the day's tedium, and
testify to the unfailing good temper and love of fair play of London
crowds.

The pit is a sacred institution of London. We may, if we choose,
sympathise with the long hours of waiting pit-door crowds, but woe
betide him who would thoughtlessly attempt to do away with the system.
One manager, indeed, did recently attempt this; but a riot nearly
supervening, he had perforce to take refuge in a judicious compromise.
The Londoner is ever conservative in his tastes as well as in his
politics. Ladies are allowed to wear their headgear in the pit; and
the large erections they sometimes don testify more to their vanity
than to their philanthropy. One sometimes hears a faint protest
against such exaggerated types of millinery: "I 'ope I sha'n't 'ave to
sit be'ind that 'at," a depressed pittite has been heard to murmur
when entering the theatre just after a "lydy" with one of these
alarming concoctions.

Where are the tastes of "the people" with regard to plays? It is
difficult to generalize. The gallery love melodrama; they also like a
good deal of moral sentiment, which they will often loudly
approve;--to the extent, sometimes, of even offering advice on the
situation to the actors. This is why the _Message from Mars_, a
morality taken straight from Dickens, went so directly home to "the
great heart of the British people." M. Taine complains that the
English have no national comedy; that all their comedies are adapted
from the French; "is it," he asks, "because of English reserve?" But,
though the pit and gallery are generally serious, they are yet not
serious enough for Ibsen; "I consider that there piece blasphemious,"
a disgusted artisan once said to me of the _Master-Builder_; "that
'ere shillin' I spent on it was clean thrown away; I went out arter
the fust act." The majority of young men and maidens love comic opera,
which seems, indeed, to be one of the paying "lines" in the London of
to-day. Music-halls flourish; it is an eloquent sign of the times that
the large and ornate "Palace Theatre,"--opened, with such a flourish
of trumpets, a few years ago as the "New English Opera House," and
known far and wide by its flashes of brilliant search-light,--should
now have descended to a "variety" show. The great middle-class
supports Shakespeare and the "legitimate" drama; shop-girls, and
dressmakers' apprentices, like the "society" plays of the St. James's
and kindred theatres, because they offer some opportunity for seeing
the ways of that "high-life" from which they are themselves excluded.
Millinery and costume are most important factors in the modern
theatre; I know of many well-to-do girls who never think of buying
their season's hats and gowns till they have first seen them on Mrs.
Patrick Campbell, Mrs. Tree, or Miss Winifred Emery. And _The Price of
Peace_, a feeble, but immensely successful Drury Lane melodrama, owed
its success to the fact that it brought before the eyes of the
proletariat, in a variety of well-constructed scenes, all the select
haunts and fashions of the great world: Tea on the Terrace; a Wedding
in Westminster Abbey; a Debate in the House of Commons; a Ball in
Park-Lane, &c., &c. Such pieces are, of course, not the only
favourites; good comedies are very popular, and English people,
despite M. Taine, still like to laugh. Yet, take it all round, "Good
Society," with, preferably, a judicious admixture of melodrama and
sentiment, is the really paying thing with the pit and gallery.

If the murky London daylight in the theatre shows a mournful change
from its nocturnal glories, even sadder is the contrast between the
splendid entrance hall, or lobby, blazing with welcome lights, and the
dark, grimy, and generally wretched "stage-door," which opens, mostly,
into some gloomy back-street, and seems, to the uninitiated at least,
to have no connection at all with the theatre. Here, the manners of
the stage acolytes are altogether to match with the outward show, and
there would appear to exist some traditional and transmitted dislike
to soap-and-water. Strange stories some of these stage doors could
tell! The stage door of the "Adelphi," for instance, where poor
William Terriss was brutally murdered by the criminal lunatic whom he
had befriended,--does it not still give to its old locality a
suggestion of blood and tears? Are not the vicissitudes, too, of
theatres as striking and as dramatic in their way as those of other
historic houses? Now they are great and well-known; then disaster
overtakes them, and their very names, for years, are forgotten,--till
at last they go the way of old bricks and mortar. In their final dirt
and disgrace they hardly recall the scenes of their former triumphs.
One might, indeed, become superstitious when one sees how Fortune
seems to befriend certain theatres, and as persistently to frown on
others. As for some old playhouses,--their day once over, their place
knows them no more.... The old Prince of Wales's Theatre, for
instance, in Tottenham Street, so famous in the early triumphs of the
Bancrofts and Kendals,--who recalls it in its present ruin and
discomfiture? The Salvation Army has lately taken pity on it; but
apparently its hour has now come, and with its adjacent
tenement-houses in Pitt Street, where its green-rooms were, it lies at
the mercy of fate and the hammer.

The London theatres are nearly all of them in crowded situations, and
often so devious and unexpected are the ways by which they are reached
that if the city were at some distant age dug out from oblivion like
that of Pompeii, the results might be even more puzzling to the
antiquary. The stalls, for instance, of the Criterion Theatre are deep
underground, reached by myriad carpeted stairs; even the upper circles
are well below the street. And what a strange and indecipherable
"crypto-porticus" would the "Twopenny Tube" prove to some future
Middleton of the ages? In central parts, London, indeed, seems a city
built in several superimposed layers: layers, too, not successive, but
coëval.

The life of London, always intense, burns at its highest pressure in
and near Piccadilly Circus, and a restless activity reigns here all
through the long hours of day and night. For this is, so to speak, one
of the main doorways of the immense ant-heap; like ants, too, people
seem to swarm incessantly, to go and come, in inconsequent but
feverishly active sequence. Here is a blaze of light, a perpetual
throng of "London's gondola," the hansom-cab, a confused medley of
many sounds, that ceases not, but fades only after midnight; when the
"heart of London," that never sleeps, subsides in the early hours of
the morning into a dulled and general hum.

At Piccadilly, the foreign element from Leicester Square and Soho
meets the native one. The French, Italian, and German tongues are,
indeed, frequently heard all over London; but in the neighbourhood of
Leicester Square, the visitor really might, especially on a sunny
fogless day, imagine himself in Paris or Berlin. The shops have
foreign names: "Blanchisserie Fine" alternates with "Deutsche
Droguenhandlung" or "Vino Scelto"; French waiters and Italian cooks
stand, white-capped and white-aproned, smilingly at the doors of their
respective restaurants; cheap and fair hostelries for wandering
foreigners, with beds as low in price as two shillings per night, rise
towering on every side. It is said that the French colony, in
particular, of Leicester Square and Soho owes its origin to the early
French refugees who, at various stormy periods, have sought shelter
here from the internal dissensions of their own country. It has been
said that, as far north as Seven Dials, the organ-grinders still find
the "Marseillaise" the most lucrative tune to play; and this may well
be so, though I myself have generally found, at least among the rising
generation, the latest music-hall song or dance to be in the
ascendant. There is another subject I would fain touch on here, at the
risk even of irrelevance; it refers to the Soho style of _coiffure_.
That there is a special fashion in ladies' hair-dressing peculiar to
every district in London, is a fact which every passing visitor must
soon recognize; thus, while in Clerkenwell model-lodging-houses it is
generally (except for one short hour or two on Sundays),--Hinde's
curlers,--in Seven Dials it is mostly of the "touzled" order, and in
the West End of the classic "New Greek style." Here, in Leicester
Square, it has a partly-French, partly-theatrical air, being generally
parted in the middle, and brought, in smooth, dark, exaggerated Early
Victorian loops, well over the ears. But details are more important
than people imagine. "Nothing," says M. Gabriel Mourey, "so reveals a
woman's psychology as her way of doing her hair." And the observant
Frenchman goes on to draw certain quaint inferences from the English
girl's style of _coiffure_, and her neatly braided tresses, careless
of such aids to beauty as stray curls or "mèches folles;" a severe
style that, according to this writer, "forms a rude contrast to the
spiritual charm of her face, her Burne-Jonesian refinement of
feature." ... As to the manner of hair-dressing betraying the
personality, "nothing," he adds paradoxically, "could be more true of
the typical Englishwoman, who never of her own free will, allows you
to see a fraction of her real self, but draws into her shell of
reserve with the same jealous reclusiveness that makes her bind her
hair in such dull, tight, regular uniformity."

M. Mourey is certainly more polite to us than was M. Taine, who said
unkindly that Englishwomen had big feet, as large as those of
watermen, "and gait and boots in keeping"; also, that "it is
impossible to train one's self to endure their long projecting
teeth;" the effect, he supposes, of a carnivorous diet! "The point of
view," again, not merely Anglophobia! The red-whiskered Englishman
dressed in blatant checks;--his long-toothed gaunt spouse,--how long
will these ridiculous fictions haunt the French mind? But even M.
Taine would have been happy in Soho. Here, even the Englishwoman is
less aggressively English; indeed, she blends, in indescribable
medley, the qualities both of the _Belle of New York_ and of the
Parisian boulevards! Soho, however, is remarkable for other things
than mere hairdressing. For the gastronomic talent that the French so
naturally possess causes this whole district, including the
neighbouring Covent Garden, to be noted, not only for many
second-class "eating-houses," but also for good and moderately priced
places to dine. The vast reform in this respect that has taken place
of late years all over London probably owes not a little to these
early pioneers in the art.

With the multiplication of cheap and good restaurants has grown in
equal ratio the importation of Swiss and Italian waiters. These, every
year, emigrate from their romantic valleys to our foggy shores, and
work out their three, four, or five years in an alien land, partly for
the sake of better wages, partly for that of learning the English
language--an accomplishment without which no foreign waiter is now
considered fully equipped. With unsparing thrift, they save the
greater part of their wages; and they acquire the language as quickly
as they can; with these two possessions they return to their own
country, where they may either at once demand a higher salary,--or, if
already well-to-do, buy a small holding and "settle down." When they
first arrive in London, they are generally very young men, who come in
faith and hope to the rumoured "golden land" of England, leaving their
lovely native valley and their romantic homesteads with no less
courage and resolution than, in mediæval times, would have drawn them
forth, at a mercenary's wage, to the bloody field of war. The late Mr.
J. A. Symonds, whose sympathies with, and knowledge of, the
Swiss-Italian waiter are well known, has, he tells us, often wondered
why the Alpine peasant goes through such cruel and comfortless
expatriation. "The answer," he says, "is very simple:

     "He wants to make money, and has the most resolute
     intention, after making it, to settle down at home and live
     the pleasant life of his forefathers in the mountains. In
     olden days he would have fought on any and every battlefield
     of Europe to get cash. But European history has turned over
     a new leaf. 'Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis,' and
     the Swiss make more by _Fremdenindustrie_ than they could do
     by foreign military service in this age."

Landing in London with a small and hardly-saved pittance in their
pockets, these lads usually live, as cheaply as may be, in and about
Soho and Covent Garden, until such time as they can obtain employment.
Switzerland, and especially Canton Ticino, furnishes a large part of
the London waiters; yet all Italy, too, contributes her share. Even
from one of the lonely hill-towns of the Apennines, three elegant
youths, faultlessly attired,--servants of the inn, but whom I had
imagined from their superior manners to be resident aristocrats,--once
begged me to take them into my service, as footmen, cooks,
knife-and-boot-boys, anything; "anything, madame, just to get a
footing in England." Though the desirability of these as servants in
private houses might, perhaps, be doubtful,--yet it is certain that in
restaurants or hotels,--in quickness and in reliability,--the Swiss or
Italian waiter far excels the English one. He rarely loses his temper.
I have seen one waiting, single-handed, upon at least fifty impatient
diners, and contenting every one. We can teach them very little. Yet
they like to learn of us all they can. "I have learned a few things in
England," the son and waiter in a little Swiss inn once said to me; a
pleasant, rosy-cheeked youth, just over twenty, recently returned from
a two years' service in London to the parental hostelry in a lonely,
narrow valley. "Yes, I have learned something very fine." And he drew
my attention to the quaint white-washed walls of the inn, made hideous
by Japanese fans and cheap paper rosettes, &c.

"You are English?" he went on, with a pleased smile: "ah, then, you
know my place in London, Scott's?"

(By "Scott's," he designated, as it turned out, the oyster-bar at the
top of the Haymarket, which locality he apparently considered to
represent the sum and total of "smart" London life.)

"Ah, I shall do this place up in fine style," he said, looking
contemptuously round him at the modest but picturesque paternal inn.
"Why, you will hardly know it again next year! I shall have the
salle-à-manger pypered"--(he had learned the cockney dialect well),
"pypered with bunches of fruit, flowers, monkeys--all in the English
manner--ah! you will see! I shall wake them all up!"

And the "salle-à-manger," with its old black-panelled walls, was so
much prettier as it was!

To be a waiter, however, even an "oyster-bar" waiter, is a superior
position to that of a mere porter; and to be porters, "boots," hotel
drudges of any and every description, "just to get a footing," is the
primary aim of these sturdy aliens. Not only money and future
advantage, but also what is known as the "Wanderlust," is, perhaps,
yet another factor in the impulse that drives them from their homes.
However this may be, rarely do they stay in the land of their bondage
beyond the allotted time; still more rarely do they "colonize" in our
sense of the word; but have ever before them, through all their
struggles and hardships, the thought of the peaceful mountain home and
honest competency that shall be theirs in middle age.... Poor lads!
when I see you, worn and shabby, waiting, perhaps, in that long,
pitiful black line of seedy applicants, now hopeful, now despairing of
engagement, outside the big London restaurants, I confess to a
tightness in my throat, thinking how, like Calverley's little Savoyard
of Hatton Garden:

  "Far from England, in the sunny
   South, where Anio leaps in foam,
   Thou wast bred, till lack of money
   Drew thee from thy vine-clad home."

Surely the traveller who returns, yearly, from his pleasant tour in
Alpine valleys, might always, here in foggy London, yield to the
motive that prompts him, after a well-served dinner, to "give to the
poor devil" an extra sixpence, reflecting, meanwhile, that he is
thereby hastening the happy, far-off time when that "poor devil,"
enriched by years of painful toil and honest endeavour, may return to
his valley, his home, his boyhood's love perhaps, and his own little
patch of tillage.

The great monument of the "Fremden-Industrie" in London, as well as
the focus and centre of the Swiss-Italian immigrants, is, of course,
the establishment known as "Gatti's." Everyone knows the "Adelaide
Gallery," and the palatial, velvet-cushioned restaurant that fronts
the Strand. What were the beginnings of this great business? The
brothers Agostino and Stefano Gatti, chocolate-makers, ice-cream
princes, theatrical managers,--who has not heard of them from time
immemorial?--has not their fame, in melodrama no less than in
meringues, been almost a household word? In 1868, already they were
naturalized as Englishmen; yet Mr. Agostino Gatti, native of Ticino,
was none the less elected as a representative to the supreme Swiss
Federal Assembly. The two brothers began modestly, in a small way;
they managed everything themselves; standing, daily, shirt-sleeved, at
their desk at receipt of custom, they were familiar figures of the
past. They succeeded on the principle of Dickens's honest grocer, Mr.
Barton, who made it his boast that "he was never above his business,
and he hoped his business would never be above him!" The "Maison
Gatti," the brothers' private house, stands in dignified Bedford
Square; and the firm of Gatti, the heads of which are still to be seen
in their shops, has doubtless amassed a large fortune. That fortune
was well deserved; for the Gattis were among the pioneers in the
reforming of restaurants.

     "There is no more curious sight in London," writes the
     chronicler of the Gattis, "than the Adelaide Gallery between
     five and seven o'clock in the evening. From the door which
     opens into the street which runs by the graveyard of St.
     Martin's Church, to the handsome frontage which opens into
     the Strand, every table is occupied by a remarkable
     assemblage of men, women, and children. The husband brings
     his wife, the mother brings her children, the lover brings
     his sweetheart, and the Church, the stage, the press--each
     sends its representatives. Tragedies and comedies have been
     enacted over those marble-topped tables which, if they were
     related, would make the fortune of a thousand playwrights."

[Illustration: _Ice-cream Barrow._]

The ice-cream trade, however, with which the brothers Gatti largely
identified themselves, is carried on, on inferior lines, to-day in
Hatton Garden, Little Saffron Hill, and Clerkenwell. Here is the
poorer Italian colony; organ-grinders, ice-cream-barrow-men,
"hokey-pokey" sellers, and their like. Here, among a population of
more or less honest toilers, congregate the waifs and strays of
civilisation, people who, owing perhaps to their peripatetic and
uncertain trade, could hardly help being loafers, even were they not
mainly Neapolitans to boot: a difficult word, which has been corrupted
by the low English in the vicinity, into first "Nappleton" and then
simply "Appleton." City improvements have, however, ousted the chief
Neapolitan colony from Great and Little Saffron Hills; and Eyre Street
Hill, with its adjacent slums and alleys, is now their peculiar haunt.
In the worst byways, and after dark, this is said to be a dangerous
quarter to visit, Neapolitans being always proverbially ready with the
knife.... Nevertheless, on fine spring days, it is not unpicturesque;
the gay dresses of the women, the groups of handsome, dark-eyed
youths, and the merry, brightly-clad children, lending almost an
Italian charm to the scene. And the charming, curly-haired boys--the
pretty and pathetic Savoyard, with his beloved monkey in a red
coat--who does not know them? The men have other resources, as well as
ice-creams and street-organs. Some of them hire themselves out as
artists'-models to the big studios, a business which is well paid, and
to which the picturesque Italian beauty well lends itself. Some, more
skilled, are perhaps modellers of stucco images, which are hawked
about the streets by others; some are knife-grinders, who go about
with a wheel, and make, it is said, the best earnings of all. In the
summer these poor exotics from the land of the sun manage to live, no
doubt, pretty tolerably; in the winter, surely not even the
chestnut-roasting apparatus that they hawk from street to street can
suffice to keep them warm! They generally live in human rabbit
warrens, under the patronage of a "padrone," a sort of modified and
amiable slave-dealer, who imports them from their native land, and
pockets, as price, a share of their earnings. They live poorly and
frugally: and those of us who know the long street of Portici, will
not, in the fouler air of London, expect much from their homes in the
way of cleanliness. Yet the Italian women who, with their "men" and
their babies, accompany the street organs, are generally trim and
smiling, and, so far as foot-gear and general neatness of appearance
is concerned--are immeasurably the superiors of their English
slum-sisters.

[Illustration: _The Organ-grinder._]

The Italian woman seems, indeed,--in London, at any rate,--always
vastly superior to the Italian man. She is religious; she goes, as a
rule, regularly to her "Chiesa Cattolica." She is cleaner, smarter,
pleasanter; she does most of the work; she often does the principal
part of the organ-pushing--while her loafing partner slouches along by
her side, yearning, doubtless, for his "polenta" and his midday
siesta. She helps--indeed, her entire family, down to the babies,
help--in the matutinal manufacture of the mysterious "hokey-pokey,"
whence, in the early morning hours, her "court" is a perfect babel of
chatter and noise, and Eyre Street Hill becomes a strange sight for
the inexperienced Londoner. Not only Neapolitans, but Sicilians,
Tuscans, Venetians, are represented; indeed, the dialects and the
slang used are so unlike, that the different circles of this Italian
colony often themselves fail to understand one another. In the
evenings, and generally on their doorsteps, the men play "mora," and
gamble; while the women, for their part, patch clothes, chatter, and
gesticulate in true native fashion. Later, the lord of creation,
leaving his lady at home, goes off to the "Club Vesuvio" or to the
"Club Garibaldi," where dancing goes on to a tune struck up by a
fiddler, and the lowest type of London girls, befeathered, shawled,
and dishevelled in true East-End fashion, dance with dirty and
brigand-like Italian men. It is a strange life, and stranger still is
the manner in which various types and nationalities have thus for
generations "squatted down" in special districts of the metropolis,
and filled them with their traditions, their atmosphere, their
personality.

Many other colonies are to be seen in London; it is the most polyglot
of cities. For those interested in such matters, nothing would give a
better idea of the many-sided life of the metropolis than to take a
long Sunday walk through its various districts. To quote the words of
a recent writer:

     "Sunday is, above all days, the day for such excursions,
     because there are none of the distractions of every-day
     life, or the bustle of business affairs. It is on Sunday you
     can see how polyglot London is, how the gregarious
     foreigners, herding together, occupy whole districts, living
     their own life, following the manners and customs of their
     own country, enjoying their own forms of religion,
     amusement, and business."

The Yiddish colony of Whitechapel, the Jewish Ghetto; the Asiatic
colony in Poplar and the Dock neighbourhood generally; these and
others display all the picturesqueness, the local colour, the
kaleidoscopic life that many travellers go to distant lands to
experience. In London, all peoples, and all classes, have their
traditional strongholds, which are known and labelled. Thus,
Bayswater, where the "high life" among the Asiatic colonists makes its
home, is generally spoken of by foreigners as "Asia Minor." Here live
the rich and cultured Orientals, those who have come over for
pleasure, business, trade, or education; as for their poorer brethren,
they live out in Poplar, Shadwell, or anywhere in the near vicinity of
the East India Docks.

These Asiatics of the East End are a strange and motley crew; brought
in by every steamer, every heavily-cargoed ship from the East, every
trader "dropping down with costly bales." On the largest ships, say
those of the P. and O. Company, vessels of some 7,000 tons, there will
be perhaps some 120 Orientals on board, and, with such contingents
continually arriving, there is, naturally, in the East End, a large
foreign, though ever-shifting, population. Curious are the corruptions
of Indian words one hears, and strange indeed are the sights and
sounds among Malays, Chinese, and Indians. The famous opium dens of
the East End, turned to such dramatic account not only in Dickens's
_Edwin Drood_, but also, at a later day, in the _Sherlock Holmes_
sequence of stories, are now much restricted in their horrors by
police supervision. They used to be devils' haunts, famed for robbery
and vice--traps set to catch the unwary Asiatic; but missionary work,
combined with the clearances made by the East London Railway, has
effected great improvement in the opium den of to-day. In the words of
the writer before-mentioned:

     "It looks like a private house, and no noise is permitted,
     for it is necessary to keep it as private as possible to
     prevent police interference. For they are invariably
     gambling dens also, and the Asiatic who goes to gamble still
     burns his joss-stick before the idol set up inside, in order
     to propitiate his deity and get good luck. Though repellant
     in appearance, there is a certain picturesqueness about the
     interior of these places. The shrine stands just inside the
     door, and there is a pungent odour from the ever-burning
     incense, while vases of artificial flowers, mingling among
     such queer votive offerings as biscuits and cups of tea,
     give it a strange appearance. The Canton matting, which is
     largely used in the rooms, gives a little local colour, and
     the _personnel_ of the place is of a decided polyglot order.
     You may possibly see one or two men lying about sleeping off
     the results of their opium debauch: but gambling seems to be
     the main feature."

Nevertheless, even in these "reformed" dens, the home-coming sailor,
or the imprudent Lascar, may find himself tempted to his undoing and
"cleaned out" of all his hard-won earnings. Or he may possibly be
"knifed," and, if the criminal escape, in this region of obscure and
unknown "byways," even the experienced police may be hard set to find
him. It is, indeed, a true "Vanity Fair," this East End of London, for
poor Christian and Faithful, fresh from the sea and all its dangers.

The Yiddish colony is also a city by itself. The Jews who foregather
in Whitechapel are mostly of Polish, Russian, or German extraction,
and their talk, to unused ears, sounds like a strange German lingo,
unpleasantly whined through the nose. Indeed, it closely resembles
German; the word "Yiddish" itself being but a corruption of the German
"Jüdisch," or Jewish. These people, whose "interpreters" figure
largely at nearly every police-court brawl in Whitechapel, Shoreditch,
and Spitalfields, may be said to be a law and a dispensation to
themselves. They crowd, in their numbers, into dirty tenement houses,
in yet dirtier streets; streets in which they barter, buy and sell
with all the instinct and all the indomitable energy of their race.
Here are the tailors' sweating dens, so often deplored by
philanthropic "commissions"; here human toil is reduced, for the
benefit of the "middleman," to its lowest possible price. The
so-called "Jewish slave-market," to the existence of which attention
has been called in the Press, is a strange and unpleasing custom. Here
the Jewish "slave-owner" is, more or less, in the place of the Italian
"padrone" already referred to, in that he imports human material, and
"farms out" human labour:

     "Any one who devotes a Sunday or two to visiting the
     open-air markets in the Jewish quarter, will have noticed on
     the fringe of the markets groups of men, sometimes with
     women and children. If you are under the convoy of a Jewish
     acquaintance who 'knows the ropes,' he will tell you that it
     is a 'hiring fair.' But it has a suspiciously close
     approximation to a slave market."

Leases of human labour, sold, at starvation wages for the victims, to
the highest bidder, are not unnatural to a slum Yiddish population
whose whole life is spent in barter. The Jewish colony in the East End
now numbers some 35,000 souls:

     "Only recently Lord Rothschild described it as a 'new
     Poland,' and said that it was the business of the nation
     'first to humanise it and then Anglicise it.' It certainly
     wants humanising."

The cosmopolitanism of London tends to draw to it the sweepings, as
well as the choice spirits,--the worst, as well as the best,--of all
other nations and climes. "Hell is a city much like London," said the
poet Shelley; and he spoke truth. Views, religious and otherwise,
differ largely as to what Hell may be; one opinion, however, may be
safely hazarded; that it will at any rate be cosmopolitan.



[Illustration: _A Sale at Christie's._]

CHAPTER XIII

LONDON SHOPS AND MARKETS

  "The busy Mart of London."

  "Gay shops, stately palaces, bustle and breeze,
  The whirring of wheels, and the murmur of trees;
  By night or by day, whether noisy or stilly,
  Whatever my mood is, I love Piccadilly."--
                         _Locker-Lampson, London Lyrics._


I am confident that if a million of women of all classes could by any
possibility be placed in a Palace of Truth, and interrogated straitly
as to what they liked best in all London, the vast majority of them
would answer, "The Shops." Indeed, you may easily, and without any
undue inquisitiveness, find this out for yourself by simply taking
(in May for choice) a morning or afternoon walk down Oxford Street or
Regent Street. Every shop of note will have its quota of would-be
buyers, trembling on the brink of irrevocable purchase: its treble,
nay, quadruple row of admiring females, who appear to find this by far
the most attractive mode of getting through the day. I would go
further, and say that as regards the more persevering among them, it
is difficult to imagine that they ever have any other occupation at
all.

The shops of London have wonderfully improved in quite recent years;
not perhaps, so much in actual quality, as in arrangement and taste.
Labels with "dropsical figures" of shillings and perfectly invisible
pence have, as in Dickens's time, still their charm for us; but other
things have changed. Everything could, to those who "knew," always be
bought best in London; but everything was not always displayed to the
best advantage. To dress a shop-front well was in old days hardly
considered a British trait. But "nous avons changé tout cela." Now,
even the Paris boulevard, that Paradise of good Americans, has, except
perhaps in the matter of trees and wide streets, little to teach us.
"The wealth of Ormus and of Ind" that the shops of Regent Street and
Bond Street display, their gold embroideries and wonderfully woven
silks, tending to make a kleptomaniac out of the very elect,--these it
would be hard indeed to beat. Not Solomon in all his glory was arrayed
like one of these.

Even the critical American cousin is now beginning to forsake Paris,
and to find out the real superiority of London shops. See how he--she,
I mean--helps, in her numbers, to swell the shop-gazing crowds in
Oxford Circus. Tramping from Bloomsbury boarding-houses,--or, more
aristocratic, from Northumberland Avenue hotels,--the Americans have
discovered, and are in a fair way to dominate, London; the London,
that is, of July and August.

"The English," said a celebrated Frenchman once unkindly, "are a
nation of shopkeepers." However that may be, it is certain that we are
nothing if not business-like. Evidently, the love of bargaining is
inherent in the soul of the average British female who comes up from
the suburbs for a day's shopping. She has a long, neatly-written list
of her wants and necessities, generally pinned to some part of her
person, a list with startling variations of subject, thus: "Baby's
food-warmer, Tom's cricket-bat, lay-figure for Sylvia, beetle-trap for
the kitchen, Effie's long Suède gloves, registry office for new cook,
dentist, evening wrap, chiffon boa, something neat in the blouse line
for Mamie, Aunt Maria's birthday." Poor woman! That "something neat in
the blouse line" takes her nearly forty minutes in the finding; and
"Aunt Maria's birthday" walks sadly into the hour for lunch, already
attenuated. Several shops, alas! have been ransacked vainly, and the
horrid "Sign 'ere, Miss!" that so cruelly stigmatizes, in certain
cheap shops, the recalcitrant buyer, has more than once mortified the
poor lady's sensitive ears. "Mamie," who is assisting at the
martyrdom, gets quite cross over Aunt Maria; she succeeds, however, in
detaching herself from her inconvenient parent, and appears, for her
part, to be preferring the claims of a protégé of her own, a personage
who is very particular, apparently, about his special brand of ties.
Finally, Aunt Maria's natal day is checked off by the purchase of an
aggressive china pug, large as life, with staring eyes, which, for
some occult reason, is supposed to be "the very thing" for that lady.

What are the special qualities that constitute "a good shopper"? They
would appear to be as follows: endurance, patience, strength,
coolness, self-control, amiability, mental arithmetic, and, lastly, an
eye to a bargain. All these cardinal virtues are, for the average
shopper, considered as generally necessary to salvation: but yet there
are other qualifications. For instance, the intense delight that most
women (and a few men) feel in obtaining an article at 1_s._
11-3/4_d._, that has once been marked with the magic 3_s._ 6-1/2_d._,
is of distinct value in this connection. How many women have
delightedly bought a thing that is not of the slightest value to
themselves or to any one else, simply because it is thus reduced in
price! Hence the supreme advantage of sales--but that is another
story.

Caveat Emptor! It is the object of the seller merely to sell; and in
his behalf it may be urged, that there is no gauging the absurd
vagaries of the public taste. I may add, with reference to "Aunt
Maria's" china pug, that some shops (arguing, no doubt, from the oddly
imitative ways of shoppers and their docile, sheep-like way of
following one another's lead), have taken to the inauguration of
strange fashions. Lately a well-known West End emporium started that
blue cat with pink eyes, wearing a yellow riband, tied in an enormous
bow round its neck. It was an æsthetic, Burne-Jonesian cat; indeed, it
was hardly like a cat at all; but, nevertheless, it sat in rows in
that shop-window, and the line (I believe such things are called
"lines") "took," and forthwith no home was complete without a cat.
Then some enterprising Tottenham Court Road firm evolved the idea that
a life-sized negro, dressed in the latest fashion, and sprawling in a
cane chair with a cigarette, was the "very thing" for the vestibule.
Personally, I should have preferred the chair empty, so that one could
have sat in it one's self; the negro, however, enjoyed wide
popularity. Then a little, muzzled, foolish-looking china puppy became
the Regent Street rage, and was forthwith attached as an ornament to
every suburban house-door. Whose is the great mind who set these
fashions, before whom every householder bows? It would be interesting
to know.

There is great opportunity for the ever-interesting study of human
nature, in observing the ways of shops and shoppers. The really able
shopman or saleswoman can make you buy just anything he or she wishes;
it is a mere question of degree in artistic persuasion. Indeed I have
often almost wept with sheer pain to see some graceful, fairy-like
shop-damsel (chosen mainly, be it remarked, for her figure), throw
some elegant wrap on to her slim shoulders, and turning to a fat,
middle-aged matron, say smilingly, "_Just_ the very thing for you,
ma'am!" And the deluded matron will buy the wrap, not even suspecting
the pitiful ludicrousness of the situation. Truly, few people have a
sense of humour. A friend of mine, who delights in new experiences,
and enjoys seeing into the "highways and byways" of London life, once
prevailed on a fashionable West End milliner, with whom she was well
acquainted, to let her play the part of saleswoman for just one day.
The results were afflicting to all concerned. The poor postulant
nearly died of fatigue; every one's tempers were strained to the
utmost; and several excellent customers were turned away. It was Kate
Nickleby, Madam Mantalini, and Miss Knag, over again; especially Miss
Knag. I learnt that, even before the arrival of the customers, a good
day's work had to be "put in," in the decking and re-arranging of the
shop-window. Every single hat and bonnet had to be taken from the
stand, and carefully dusted, brushed, smartened up and replaced. And
woe to the saleswoman who failed to effect a sale, more especially if
that saleswoman happened to be unfortunate for two or three times in
succession! My friend, after her sad experience of customers' ways,
vowed ever to make it a point of religion to spend no more than ten
minutes in the choosing of a hat, _and always to end by buying it_.

Nevertheless, so far as the big, well-managed shops are concerned, the
employés are not really deserving of pity; they have good food and
lodging, with comparatively short hours, and the situations they fill
are, as a rule, much sought after. It is, rather, the owners of the
smaller establishments, in the poorer districts, who "sweat" their
unfortunate shop-girls. Here the poor white slaves are often kept hard
at work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturday nights till 12, with
short intervals for hurried and indifferent meals. Of course, it is
the working classes themselves who are the cause of this "sweating";
these do their shopping late, on Saturday nights especially late; and
shops, if they closed early in poor districts, would for this reason
lose the greater part of their custom.

The shop-girl in a really good West End establishment is in very
different case. She is often more or less gently bred, such breeding
being an important factor in her engagement. Very often, indeed, her
superior manners contrast, oddly enough, with the rudeness of the
"lady" whom she happens to be serving.

Shop-girls and shop-men are always popular elements of London life.
There was, quite lately, a comic opera written in the shop-girl's
honour. And, so far as shop-men are concerned, it is an eloquent fact
that in the recent revival of the Gilbert-and-Sullivan opera
_Patience_, the only noteworthy alterations in the text were the
substitution of the "Twopenny Tube young man" for the "Threepenny 'Bus
young man," and of the words "Tottenham House" for the departed
"Waterloo House." For a London audience must, above all things, be
kept up to date, and a small anachronism of the latter kind, a mistake
about the shops, would be noticed by them much sooner than a more
important one.

Everything can be got in London, if (and the "if" is a comprehensive
one) you know where to go for it. Old timber, for instance, can be
bought not only at the Westminster wharves, but also in the Euston
Road (where Messrs. Maple's vast timber-yards are in themselves an
insight into the "highways and byways" of London); old silver may be
had in the now spoiled Hanway Street, and Holborn; old furniture and
antiques in Wardour Street and its neighbourhood; new furniture in
Tottenham Court Road; livestock in and about Seven Dials; artists'
materials in Soho, and so on.... The best stationers' shops are in the
City: the City shops, however, make a "speciality" of solid worth
rather than of outside attractiveness, a quality in which the Regent
Street and Oxford Street marts bear the palm. It is not really of much
importance where you shop; it is, however, important to remember
that, unless your money happens to be more valuable than your time,
you had better not frequent cheap marts or crowded stores.

[Illustration: _The Dog Fancier!!!_]

Book-shops are very inadequate in London; so few are they indeed, that
one is tempted to wonder what the "five millions, in the richest city
in the world" read? In most foreign towns book-shops are to be found,
in twos and threes, in every important street; in English provincial
towns, if you want a book, you are usually directed to "a
stationer's"; and even in London, book-shops must diligently be sought
for, though, when found, they are, it must be confessed, usually very
good.

Second-hand book-shops are more plentiful than new book shops; and
these are mostly strangely dark, dingy, and rambling places, where the
depressed proprietor rarely seems to wish to part with any of his
dusty stock-in-trade, but sits apart in dusky recesses, moody and
abstracted like Eugene Aram, annotating a catalogue. He is the unique
tradesman who does not appear to want to sell his goods. After he has
got over his annoyance at being disturbed,--and if you do happen to
come to terms with him,--he will, as likely as not, heave a deep sigh
as he turns to search for some very second-hand sheets of brown paper
to enwrap the second-hand treasure. These old book-shops, with their
outlying "twopenny" and "fourpenny" boxes, are generally to be found
on busy city thoroughfares, as if by intent to entrap the unwary and
impecunious scholar on his way home from his office desk to his little
suburban home. In such spiders' webs of temptation he has been known
to spend, in one fatal half-hour, all the money destined for the
butcher's bill, or for the gas rate!

[Illustration: _In the Charing Cross Road._]

But, while impoverished scholars have a weakness for second-hand
literature, the big circulating libraries, on the other hand, are the
great weakness of their wives and daughters, cousins and aunts. About
these vast emporiums ladies of all ages flit all day like bees around
a hive. Ladies would appear but seldom to buy books; they always hire.
A morning spent at Smith's or Mudie's is curiously instructive as to
the methods pursued by them in the search for light literature. The
library counters then usually exhibit a double or treble row of women,
with a very faint sprinkling of elderly men, all waiting, in varying
degrees of patience, for their turn. Several of the ladies have
considerately brought pet dogs, which they hold by the chain, the dear
little animals being meanwhile thoughtfully engaged in entangling
themselves round all the other customers' legs.

"Have you some nice, new, _good_ novels?" asks a plaintive
materfamilias, with a stolid-faced bevy of half-grown up daughters
behind her, just out of the schoolroom. "Something, you know, that is
quite fit for young girls; no problems, or pasts, or anything of that
kind."

The young man looks nonplussed. "We have Miss Yonge's latest," he
suggests: "or Maeterlinck's _Life of the Bee_, just out--"

"Oh! Maeterlinck is so very Maeterlincky, you know. And do you think
that he's always quite _safe_?"

"I assure you, madam, you will find him so in this instance," urges
the young man.

"Well, bees are, of course, interesting; and very nice and proper too,
I'm sure; but I myself prefer the lives of celebrated people. Mr.
Gladstone's Life, for instance? Oh, it's not _written_ yet, is it?
What a bore! Well, I suppose it's no use our waiting.... And Miss
Yonge, no, thank you.... You see, she died last year, and then she's
so very Early-Victorian!"

The man, seeing that it is to be a long business, gives up the problem
for the moment, and moves in despair to the next customer.

Now it is the turn of a little old lady, with a deprecating manner: "I
want something nice, and not too clever," she murmured: "something I
can _knit_ over, you know, after breakfast. No, _not_ religious, I
somehow find that's too depressing. How would this do?" as she picked
up a volume that was flaunting itself on the counter, "_Sir Richard
Calmady_. I think I'd like that, if it's at all like _Sir George
Tressady_."

"No, madam, not at all the sort of thing for you," the young man
hastened to say with an air of authority. "Allow _me_: Try _this_;
this is a very safe book, Miss Edna Lyall's latest, _In Spite of
All_. This (confidentially) is an author we always recommend."

Now there bustled up a young-old lady with fuzzy hair and a sailor
hat: "I want all the most go-ahead novels you have," she cried:
"somethin' really startling, somethin' that'll keep you awake and
excited all through."

This lady being fortunately in a hurry, was quickly got rid of with a
judicious mixture of Hall Caine, Guy Boothby, and Marie Corelli, in
equal quantities.

Finally there came a nondescript, pudding-faced young woman, who said,
vaguely, as if fulfilling a painful duty: "I want a novel. What is
being read now?" She, however, proved very amenable, and went off
dutifully with _Elizabeth's Visits_, _The Love-letters of Anonyma_,
and the _Transvaal War_.

What vast knowledge of human nature must, one thinks, these young men
at the libraries possess! They seem to enact the part of general
literary adviser to the enormous feminine public. They know their
types well, too: they rarely mistake. They may almost be said to form
the minds of their customers; and they may, they possibly do, rule
over a large proportion of human opinion.

Ladies, as I said, seldom buy new books; they seem to prefer reading
novels that others have well thumbed. New book-shops, therefore, are
few and far between; they mostly congregate about St. Paul's, and in
the neighbourhood of what used to be Holywell Street; for trades in
London, as is well known, tend to have their own special districts. In
the poorer quarters, however, and in the near suburbs, everything is,
on the contrary, placed in the queerest juxtaposition; thus, you may
see a house labelled "Embalming done here," between two others
respectively inscribed: "Hot Dinners served here," and "Cheap Mangling
done;" while the big shopping palaces in Westbourne Grove and
elsewhere advertise themselves, modestly, to provide everything, from
a coffin to a hired guest. Some of our shops and ways must indeed
puzzle the unsophisticated foreigner. Mr. Samuel Butler has told an
amusing story of how a poor Ticinese peasant woman was one day found
on her knees in prayer before an elaborate dentist's "show case" in
Soho,--imagining it, doubtless, to contain the relics of a saint!

Shops, in some of the poor districts, afford remarkable insight into
cockney character. There is, for instance, the old plant-hawker who
sells you rotten roots with a sweet smile: there is the no less
charming bird-fancier who gets rid of a songless hen-canary at the
modest price of 10/-, assuring you, meanwhile, that "no better singer
ever lived"; there is the lady-greengrocer who lets you have plums at
a penny a pound dearer than the market-price--"though it's a robbin'
me and my poor innercent childern, that's what it is!"

It is not, however, always the shopman whose ways are most open to
criticism. For, not only in the poorer districts, customers exist
whose ideas of integrity are not of the finest. In Somers, Camden, or
Kentish Towns, where the trader must, of necessity and from custom,
spread out his goods in the street, to catch the eye, on projecting
booths, that articles should occasionally be missed is, perhaps,
hardly wonderful; and yet, curiously enough, it is rather in the big
West End emporiums that shop-lifting is most common. Sales especially
are most dangerous in this respect. Managers, notably of big drapery
emporiums, say that they expect to lose a certain percentage regularly
in this way: it is regarded as part of the business.

"Oh, no! we don't prosecute now," a pleasant shop-walker said in
answer to my inquiries on the subject: "It is too risky altogether;
the thing isn't worth it. And we lost £500, one year, by getting hold
of the wrong person ... it's so easy to mistake, in the crowd. No, we
just place detectives here and there, where the biggest crushes are
... they are dressed like ordinary customers, and carry parcels; so
that no one could discover their business.... Then, if a detective
happens to see a suspicious-looking individual, he marks her or
him--(it is generally her), and follows, from one counter to another,
to see if he is right. He doesn't speak until he is perfectly sure;
but, when he is, he just goes up to the person and says politely,
'Please, would you kindly follow me for a moment into the office?'
Once in the office, the shop-lifter is made very quietly to
disgorge.... It's nearly always a lady--very well connected some of
them are, too.... She's never one of our reg'lar customers--sale-folks
seem a kind of class by themselves, and we see nothing of them from
one sale-day to another. Some of them make hay then, and no
mistake.... Why, madam," said the shop-walker, warming to his
narrative, "why, I've seen ladies go into that office, quite stout
persons, and come out of it so thin, you'd hardly know 'em again....
They just wear cloaks with deep inside pockets all round."

"And don't they ever object, or make a commotion in the shop?" I
inquired.

"No, they go as quiet as lambs mostly ... and other customers don't
notice anything.... You see, they know there's no help for 'em, no use
for 'em to brazen it out, lined with silks, and laces and stuffs as
they are. Afterwards, we just warn 'em kindly, and let 'em go. They
rarely do it twice in the same shop."

"What sort of things do they generally take?" I asked.

"Why, lace, and bits o' ribbon, put up in odd lots for sale, things
lying about loose on the counter, like they are at sale times.
Well-dressed they are, too, you wouldn't think they could want 'em
badly. 'Oh, it must 'a got up my sleeve,' some of 'em say, looking
most innocent, with perhaps two or three yards of brocade or surah
hangin' out of their golf-capes.... They've got a kind of a fancy, as
well, for religious books: no knowing why, for religion," added the
shop-walker thoughtfully, "has evidently done them no good."

With which reflection I cordially agreed.

Sales, however tempting, should be avoided by the unwary shopper, for
they are dangerous as spiders' webs. They usually occur twice a year,
in January and July; in January, they relieve the tedium of the winter
fogs; in July, they are a very midsummer madness. The sales vary in
honesty. Some of them are really held in order to clear out, at a
sacrifice, the "old stock"; some, especially in the smaller shops, are
simply quick sales of "cheap lines," bought in on purpose, and strewn
about heterogeneously on the counters. Sale days are truly terrible
experiences to the uninitiated. If you happened, unwittingly, to go to
some familiar shop on one of these yearly occasions, the mass of
crowded, struggling, gasping humanity, nearly all pushing, and nearly
all fat, would lead you to imagine that life and death, at least, were
intimately concerned in the tussle, instead of merely the question of
securing the "first choice" of "Remnants."

The shopping, however, of the rich is one thing, and the shopping of
the very poor is quite another. Most interesting, to those who care to
study the book of human nature, are the "street-markets" of the
people, those rows of noisy booths and barrows which have stood from
time immemorial, by traditional right, in certain streets, and where
jets of brilliant, flaring naptha-lights display the kaleidoscopic
stock-in-trade. Among such streets are Goodge Street, Tottenham Court
Road; Leather Lane, Holborn; or, to descend to a yet lower social
depth, Brick Lane, Spitalfields. Booths and barrows are, as everybody
knows, not allowed to obstruct the majority of streets, being
generally limited to slums or wretched paved alleys; here, however,
the authorities evidently make exceptions in favour of certain ancient
vested rights. In Goodge Street fruit and vegetables are mainly sold;
in Leather Lane, tools, appliances, pedlars' wares, butchers' meat;
everything, in fact, in infinite variety; in Spitalfields, birds and
live-stock, together with old clothes, and second-hand articles
generally. In such street-markets, from eight to ten on Saturday night
is the gala time for business. M. Gabriel Mourey says:

     "These streets of London, where the poor do their marketing,
     are, on Saturday night, gay with light and thronged with
     people. Because of the next day's rest, there is, until past
     midnight, an open market, which invades the pavement with
     costers' barrows heaped with fruit, butchers' stalls, booths
     of incongruous articles, kitchen utensils, old tools, all
     the bric-à-brac of the second-hand suburban shop; vehicular
     traffic is suspended; all barriers are encroached upon;
     everyone walks in the middle of the street. Dealers and
     brokers offer shoes, clothing, hats, boots, plates and
     dishes, all at ridiculous prices."

Curious, indeed, are the bits of life and character that are to be met
with on these London by-ways. Not changed one whit in essentials since
Dickens's time, they recall his wonderful insight, observation, and
inimitable cockney touches. There are small differences, of course;
the street matrons, for instance, have changed their former floppy
caps for battered sailor hats, or other articles of damaged head-gear;
the use of their nails, as an offensive weapon, for the more
formidable "hat-pin." The traditional dress of the self-respecting
feminine street-dealer is, however, still as sternly conventional in
its way as the Mayfair belle's. At the present day it consists,
usually, of a black cloth or plush jacket, a vividly red or blue
skirt, a large white apron, a black hat of either the "feather" or
"sailor" variety, slovenly boots down at heel, and,--most important
point of all--long and conspicuous gold earrings. Thus attired, the
lady street-vendor haggles and chaffers all day in a conscious
elegance and propriety. The ladies of the profession generally
monopolize the itinerant greengrocery trade; and among their customers
you may still see some Mrs. Prig, carefully selecting a juicy
"cowcumber" for the supper of her "friend and pardner, Sairey Gamp";
while yonder, perhaps, is some Mrs. Tibbs, or Mrs. Todgers, carefully
appraising the piece of steak destined for the dinner of her rapacious
boarders, and weighed down by all the distracting cares of paying
guests. Near by, perhaps Jo, that poor vagrant, finger in mouth, eyes
wistfully a juicy plateful of shellfish that the "winkle-barrow" man
has just got ready for a customer. Then, maybe, a hansom rattles by
with a jaded diner-out, yawning from a sense of the emptiness, not of
his stomach, but of society and life, and you recall almost
unconsciously Molloy's haunting words:

  "Go thy way! Let me go mine,
   I to starve, and thou to dine."

[Illustration: _Saturday Night Shopping._]

Let us, however, hope that those who really "starve" are few in
number. For the barrow-men, who pay small rates as compared to
shop-owners, give good value in return for their money, with much
homely wit and caustic joking thrown in; and poor, indeed, must be the
household that cannot enjoy, on Saturday night, their something "'ot
with innions," their portion of fried fish, or of sheeps' trotters. Of
course, when dealing with barrows, the buyer must have as many eyes as
possible. "Let the buyer beware" may be specially said of this class
of shopping. It were perhaps too much to expect, as Mr. Oliver Wendell
Holmes seems to suggest, that fruit, when you buy it, should "grow
bigger _downwards_ through the box"; yet, perhaps, when you see a pile
of luscious pears or apples heaped up temptingly in front of you, you
need not allow yourself to be fobbed off with a few rotten ones,
shovelled up carelessly from unseen depths behind. Much art is
necessary when dealing with a barrow-man, who, as often as not, really
respects the careful and fastidious shopper, and retorts to her
complaints with a good-natured joke. If a trifle less distant in
manner than his West-End brother, he is certainly more affectionate,
and dubs his customer "my dear." But, in the street markets, it is
usually the meat-huckster who is the greatest "character." His voice
may be heard above the general din: "Buy my pretty meat," he shouts
from his stall to the red-armed housewives; "now, lydies, don't go a
fingerin' it _too_ much, or it'll taste er kid gloves when you go to
eat it.... 'Ave that there sheep's 'ed, Miss? wy, certingly; that wuz
a _'appy_ sheep, that wuz! jest look at the smile 'e's got on 'im;
know'd you wuz a-goin' to buy 'im, 'e did.... There now, my dear! look
wot you've been and done, rolled that there bit 'o' shin in the mud,
it'll 'ave to go for _cats'_ meat now," &c. &c.

This kind of "patter," continued _ad libitum_, seems to be regarded as
the slum butcher's special _métier_.

In Brick Lane, Spitalfields,--not the Jewish "Ghetto," but the purely
English quarter,--there is, moreover, a Sunday morning "poor man's
market." It is usually, in more select London highways, more or less
difficult to make purchases, be they never so necessary, on Sunday
morning. I remember, indeed, a despairing search for food on such an
occasion (food necessitated by the arrival of unexpected visitors),
which ended in the obtaining, almost by force, of a couple of boiled
chickens from a small Italian restaurant, with the added injunction to
"keep them well hidden" from the eye of the law on the homeward
journey. In the East End, however, it is very different. Brick Lane,
an unsavoury region, described by the late Mr. Montagu Williams as "a
land of beer and blood," presents on Sunday morning a strange sight to
the uninitiated. Here is its picture by an eye-witness:

     "In Brick Lane ... scenes are to be witnessed on Sunday
     mornings which afford a companion picture to those in
     Whitechapel. The East End English have also, like the Jews,
     their 'poor man's market,' and where Shoreditch, Bethnal
     Green and Spitalfields meet at the northern part of Brick
     Lane, which is in Spitalfields, the poorest and meanest of
     them are to be found. In the early part of Sunday morning,
     for a couple of hours or so, there is a woman's market where
     cast-off clothes, tawdry finery, and the newest things in
     hats and feathers are bartered. Heterogeneous heaps of
     clothing, boots and shoes included, lie spread over the
     ground, and some amusing scenes are to be witnessed. Pass
     along Sclater Street and new scenes meet the eye. The women
     are left behind, and men and boys are met with. Instead of
     old clothes one sees and hears twittering birds. Here come
     the pigeon fanciers from all parts of Bethnal Green and
     Spitalfields; birds of all kinds are to be bought, and the
     noise and bustle are in striking contrast to the subdued,
     sorrow-stricken tone of the women's market. It does not
     require any long acquaintance with these scenes to discover
     that the men are fonder of their birds than of their wives.
     Nowhere is bird-fancying and pigeon-breeding more general
     than in the crowded East End. Where one would think there
     was not house-room enough or food enough for human
     occupants, prize birds of great value are reared--most
     probably with money that should have gone to feed and clothe
     the children."

The special markets where the poor buy and sell are not, however,
exactly tempting to the well-to-do, unless in search of "copy" or
other experience. For those London visitors who do not appreciate the
slums, yet whose olfactory organs are not too fastidious, the big
London markets, Covent Garden, Smithfield, Billingsgate, will perhaps
afford a sufficient experience in that line. Billingsgate is the most
perilous excursion of the three. Its aroma is strong and lasting, and
the stranger in its diverging courts and alleys runs considerable
danger of having winkle-barrels or fish crates descend on his devoted
head, as they are lowered from the wharves on to their respective
carts. Yes, a little of Billingsgate will undoubtedly go a very long
way; yet it is an interesting place to have seen, and the strange,
sudden appearance of ancient churches,--St. Dunstan's, St. Magnus, St.
Mary-at-Hill,--incongruously calm amid the wild turmoil all round
them,--gives a momentary peace even "amid the City's jar." The
language of Billingsgate fish-wives and porters is proverbial, yet it
is perhaps hardly worse than in many other less fishy quarters of
London. The Coal Exchange, opposite Billingsgate, has, with its broad
flight of steps, on which people sit, itself a kind of ecclesiastical
look. The fish market opens at five in the morning.

All this quarter of London is a vast hive of industry. The stranger
should walk along the busy thoroughfare of Upper and Lower Thames
Street all the way from the Tower to St. Paul's; tall, blackened,
ever-devouring warehouses line the street, which is a very inferno of
bustle and labour. Though the street is muddy and noisy, and its
perambulation may not impossibly render the pedestrian more than a
little cross, he will, at any rate, gain from it some insight into
London life. Mr. Hare describes the scene well:

     "Thames Street," he says, "is the very centre of turmoil.
     From the huge warehouses along the sides, with their
     chasm-like windows and the enormous cranes which are so
     great a feature of this part of the City, the rattling of
     the chains and the creaking of the cords, by which enormous
     packages are constantly ascending and descending, mingle
     with uproar from the roadway beneath. Here the hugest
     waggons, drawn by Titanic dray horses, and attended by
     waggoners in smock-frocks, are always lading or discharging
     their enormous burthens of boxes, barrels, crates, timber,
     iron, or cork."

But, though a visit to Billingsgate is only faintly suggested, and the
delights of the great central meat-market of Smithfield are, it is
fair to say, only capable of thorough appreciation by farmers and
connoisseurs, every visitor to London ought to be enjoined to go and
see Covent Garden Market, and preferably in the early hours of the
spring morning, the time of its highest activity. Not only interesting
at the present day as a special focus of London life, Covent Garden
has, also, the classic charm of history. For as early as the
thirteenth century this was the "convent garden" of Westminster,
supplying its monks with fruit and vegetables. That the course of
centuries and the habit of cockneys has dropped the sacred "n," and
changed the name into "Covent Garden" is easily understood. Covent
Garden is still faithful to its fruit and vegetables, though these,
alas! are no longer to be seen _growing_ there, but are transported
thither from the rich gardens of England, as well as from colonies and
nations overseas. Here, within this small enclosure, can be got, it is
said, all that skill can grow, care can transport, and money can buy.
Here can be obtained, at any time, and at short notice, the roses of a
Heliodorus, or the orchids of a Vanderbilt; together with priceless
fruits in mid-winter, new vegetables in February frosts, and tropical
produce all the year round. The middle avenue of Covent Garden is
expensive, but it can produce anything wished for in the fruit and
flower line. Riches in such places are as the magic wand of an
Aladdin. The central avenue of the market is refined and polite;
outside its limits, however, the manners of the locality are original
and peculiar, a kind of "law unto themselves." The Covent Garden
porters and market-women are rough diamonds; the men, especially, full
of good-natured horse-play, seem alarming on a first introduction, but
harmless when you are used to them. Yet I have known timid ladies who
have shrunk from a walk through "the Garden," imagining its denizens
to be robbers and cut-throats, or, at least, revolutionary citizens of
a supposed "Reign of Terror!"

Covent Garden is at its highest glory on certain May mornings, from
about six to eight,--on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays,--which are
special "market days." On these occasions the din and bustle is
indescribable; and "Mud-Salad Market," justifying its title, becomes a
green sea of spring vegetables, interspersed with still greener
islands of laden, tottering market carts. The show of cut flowers is a
wonderful sight, and street hawkers, flower-girls, itinerant
flower-vendors and plant-sellers, are one and all busy making their
special "bargains." The flower-girls, untidy, shawled and befeathered,
sit about on doorsteps or on upturned market baskets making their
"button-holes" for the day, and scanning anxiously the weather;--so
much of their profit depends on that! They are all a cheery, though
somewhat rowdy, folk, who mean no harm by their very outspoken
witticisms. Even their rowdiness is an historic legacy; for, in past
days, this neighbourhood used to be ravaged by the redoubted street
bullies called "Mohocks" or "Scourers," pests of an older time. There
is a well-known print of Covent Garden Market, from Hogarth's picture,
_Morning_; the print shows the red, barn-like Church of St. Paul
dominating, as it still does, the market, and the old taverns near to
it. The taverns and inns of Covent Garden used to be famous, but have
now mostly decayed, like its "Piazza," or Italian colonnade, little of
which is now left standing, but which was once the glory of the town.
Thackeray, who used to stay at the "Bedford," thus describes the place
in his day:

     "The two great national theatres on one side, a churchyard
     full of mouldy but undying celebrities on the other; a
     fringe of houses studded in every part with anecdote or
     history; an arcade, often more gloomy and deserted than a
     cathedral aisle; a rich cluster of brown old taverns, one of
     them filled with the counterfeit presentments of many actors
     long since silent, who scowl and smile once more from the
     canvas upon the grandsons of their dead admirers; a
     something in the air which breathes of old books, old
     painters, and old authors; a place beyond all other places
     one would choose in which to hear the chimes at midnight, a
     crystal palace--the representative of the present--which
     presses in timidly from a corner upon many things of the
     past; a withered bank that has been sucked dry by a
     felonious clerk, a squat building with a hundred columns,
     and chapel-looking fronts, which always stands knee-deep in
     baskets, flowers, and scattered vegetables; a common centre
     into which Nature showers her choicest gifts, and where the
     kindly fruits of the earth often nearly choke the narrow
     thoroughfares; a population that never seems to sleep, and
     that does all in its power to prevent others sleeping; a
     place where the very latest suppers and the earliest
     breakfasts jostle each other over the footways."

Fielding, the novelist, devotes in _Humphry Clinker_ a page or two to
Covent Garden market, which he supposes to be described by an old
country gentleman. The writer complains of its dearness and dirt:

     "It must be owned," (he says), "that Covent Garden affords
     some good fruit; which, however, is always engrossed by a
     few individuals of overgrown fortune, at an exorbitant
     price; so that little else than the refuse of the market
     falls to the share of the community; and that is distributed
     by such filthy hands, as I cannot look at without loathing."

The old gentleman also goes on to complain of the nightly terrors of
the London "watchman, bawling the hour through every street and
thundering at every door." This custom, fortunately for us, is now in
abeyance; also the street cries of London (at least in its more polite
circles) are likewise much diminished in intensity. Even the muffin
man's bell, so welcome in the winter afternoon's gloom, seems now more
seldom heard. "Sweet Lavender," however, still has a familiar autumn
sound, and the flower-hawkers of spring are still discordant. Yet
one's ears are no longer so generally deafened, and the reason for
this is not far to seek. For London is now so gay with advertisements
that in every direction our eyes meet strange, gaily-coloured hoarding
and sky signs; and the manifold attractions of various articles,
instead of being cried in the streets, now cry at us from the walls,
or shout discordantly at us from out of the blue of heaven, from ugly
black wires and glaring brazen letters. We cannot go out of doors
without being asked a hundred times, in varying type, such silly
questions as "Why does a Woman Look Old Sooner than a Man?" "Why Let
Your Baby Die?" "Why Pay House Rent?" or other such idiotic queries.
Why, who _would_ pay house rent, especially in London, if he or she
could help it? In shops, or on railways, it is the same. For at least
several miles out of London you travel in the constant company of
"Pears's Soap," and "Colman's Mustard;" and outside eating-shops you
see in large letters the cunning legend, "Everything as Nice as Mother
Makes it." The Art of Advertisement is everywhere paramount. You
cannot even travel in the humble omnibus without being implored "not
to let your wife worry over the house-cleaning," and being asked "why
your nose gets red after eating"; together with suggested remedies for
both these sad states of things. These are really, when one comes to
think of it, impertinent personalities. This mania for posters has, of
course, largely resulted from the modern spread of education: for of
what use to ask such questions in old days, when few could have
succeeded in reading them? The fashion of advertisements is still
growing, the Americans are encouraging it to preposterous proportions;
and we shall soon, indeed, live in a mere criss-cross of lettered
wires, not unlike Mr. Wells's idea of a future Utopia.

Yet far away be that time still! Although the threatening wires
already faintly line the blue here and there above our city gardens,
although telephones and electric connections necessitate the continual
dragging up of our streets, London has its charm still, and sweet is
yet the London summer when the square lilacs and acacias blossom, and
when, to quote Mr. Andrew Lang, "fans for a penny are sold in the
Strand!"

  "When strawberry pottles are common and cheap,
   Ere elms be black, or limes be sere,
   When midnight dances are murdering sleep,
   Then comes in the sweet o' the year!"

(Though I fear me that Mr. Andrew Lang did not mean it altogether in
that sense!)

The London children love flowers. "Give me a flower, lydy," some of
the ragged street waifs will say, as you come back, laden with your
store, from Covent Garden. And the child will take the flower
lovingly, and stick it forthwith into her ragged bodice, smiling like
a conscious princess.

[Illustration: _An Aerated Bread Shop._]

The subject of shops and markets would lead us naturally to that of
restaurants. These, at the present day, are many and excellent. While
the more ancient taverns of Covent Garden and of the City have
largely lost their fashionable vogue, the general improvement in
restaurants and modern hotels has been rapid. In the last twenty
years, revolutions have been worked in this respect. Twenty years ago,
to begin with small things, a cup of tea at a confectioner's cost at
least sixpence, and was not always easy to get; now, it is obtainable
for two or three pence anywhere, and for a penny at cheap shops.
Everything else in the commissariat has improved and cheapened in
proportion. Elegant little dinners may be had now at all prices; from
the famous "Savoy" dinner at a guinea, to the cheap and dainty repast
"in the Italian style" at 2_s._ 6_d._ Of this latter class is the
"Comedy" Restaurant, Panton Street, in a small and hidden by-way,
where little dinners, comprising smart waiters, separate tables,
candle-shades, and table decorations, are provided for the modest
price of half-a-crown per head. Or at the Holborn Restaurant Dinner,
at 3_s._ 6_d._, you may, if so inclined, enjoy the strains of a band,
while entertaining your pre-theatre party. Or, if you be rich, the big
hall of the new and expensive "Carlton" is now the most modish place
for after-theatre supper parties. Here the parting guest is politely
"sped," if he linger, by lamps discreetly and suggestively lowered at
intervals.... Ah, what a delightful city London is for the rich to
live in! Everything may be had and enjoyed!

The Art, then, even the Poetry, of Dining, may be thoroughly studied
in London at the present day. Every passing mood may be consulted,
every gastronomic fancy indulged. You may choose your company as you
choose your _menu_; you may make a free selection from the quality of
either. You have but to know exactly beforehand what you want. If the
lady whom you honour be frivolous by nature, you can take her to the
smart restaurant of the Hotel Bristol, and to a comedy adapted "from
the French"; if she be serious, to the "Grand Hotel," and then to
Shakespeare; if crude, to Frascati's and to melodrama. But, whether
you choose expensive dining places or cheap ones, and in whatever
manner you may elect to spend your long London day, one thing is
certain, that at its close you will generally find yourself to have
spent a considerable sum. For, howe'er improved and reformed, in
essentials the city is yet not much changed since the days of John
Lydgate, who found, he says, to his cost, and even so early as the
fifteenth century that:

  "lacking mony I mighte not spede."



CHAPTER XIV

THE GALLERIES, MUSEUMS, AND COLLECTIONS

     "Infinite riches in a little room."

     "The great city has an unbroken history of 1,000 years, and
     has never been sacked by an enemy."--_Sir Walter Besant._

     "Great are your privileges. For you is collected in the
     public palaces of London all that human genius has ever
     achieved, all that power and wealth can procure. For you has
     been dug from the earth all that remains of mighty empires
     and long-vanished civilisations. The arts of Greece and
     Rome, and Egypt and Assyria, and the not less wonderful arts
     of India, are all contributory to your pleasures. The whole
     art and mystery of painting is unfolded for you on the walls
     of our National Gallery.... You are rich indeed, for you are
     the heirs of all the Ages."


Are picture-galleries, museums, and such-like treasures of the
metropolis, to be described as London's Highways, or as its Byways?
That they ought to be the former, is certain; as certain as that they
are but too often used as the latter, or are, at any rate, regarded as
refuges and shelters from the inclemency of the outer air. For Art,
like Religion, has a tendency in this respect, to serve not so much as
a cloak, as in the capacity of an umbrella. And it is sometimes
conveniently adapted to yet other profane uses: "This 'ere ain't a
gymnasium, nor yet a refreshment room," I have heard a much-enduring
officer of the law remark, more in sorrow than in anger, to a
too-presuming visitor, who, seated opposite the _Ansidei Madonna_, was
placidly feeding such of her offspring as were not engaged in playing
leap-frog over the chairs, with crumbly bath-buns.

[Illustration: _A Sketch in Trafalgar Square._]

These, however, are varieties in the human species that are ever with
us. "Fear not to Sow because of the Birds," says the Koran; and the
widespread sowing of culture has so far shown results, that every year
the British Museum, the National Gallery, and other kindred
institutions, are growing more popular and more frequented. In Art and
Knowledge, as in other directions, it takes time for "the People" to
appreciate fully their oldest, much less their newest, heritage. Such
treasures in our vast metropolis are still too much hidden, still
undiscovered by the majority. Even the educated visitor fresh from the
country does not immediately realise the fact that he is free at any
time to walk the marble halls of the National Gallery, to hear the
fountain plashing in the Pompeian hall of the riverside palace raised
by Sir Henry Tate to modern British Art, or to follow the strange
instincts and laws of Nature in the beautifully arranged Natural
History Museum of Kensington. The recent movement for "Sunday
opening," now more or less widespread, has tended greatly to the
popularisation of the national collections, and does a good deal,
also, to the mitigation of the too utter gloom of the stranger's
"Sunday in London." Even M. Taine, who in the "sixties" compared the
metropolis of his day to "a well-ordered cemetery," or "a large
manufactory of bone-black closed on account of a death," would surely
have been less severely splenetic had but a museum or two been open to
beguile his tedium. In our present year of grace, the British Museum,
from two till four, is thronged by the lower middle-class, who, if
their affection for mummies is a trifle out of proportion to the
interest they take in the Elgin Marbles, and their love of historic
missals is sometimes too subordinate to the intricacies of the
neighbouring World's Unique Stamp-Collection, yet show in their way an
intelligent and praiseworthy desire for knowledge.

These treasure-houses of London,--what wealth do they not
represent,--what unimagined riches do they not contain? London, the
richest city in the world, yet for so long a period far behind other
capitals in representative art, has in the last century equalled, if
not surpassed them all. Some fifty or more years ago, the great
"Pan-Opticon" of Leicester Square, the precursor of the present
Biograph and Cinematograph, was the chief "artistic" glory of London.
In the days of our grandfathers, people were for ever taken to see
this "Pan-Opticon," a great building with endless galleries, on the
site of the present "Alhambra"; where you saw all the things of the
world and the glory thereof. Now this baby-show is superseded by
museums and galleries filled with the most priceless gems of art and
of history: yes, the London collections may in this sense be regarded
as variations of the Pan-Opticon--Pan-Opticons of a nobler kind.
London's National Gallery is now a collection of pictures worthy of so
great a nation, her museums are filled with the best of the spoils of
ancient Greek art. If London has been late in awaking to her artistic
responsibilities, at any rate she takes them seriously enough at the
present day. And, of late years, her art treasure has been enormously
and continuously enriched, not only by the expenditure of public
moneys, but by private bequest and private munificence. Rich men, with
true patriotism, have spent their lives in painfully searching for,
and collecting, beautiful things, to leave them, afterwards, freely to
the nation. Millionaires, too, have, it would seem, their uses. And we
are thus all, in a sense, millionaires, for we inherit the priceless
treasures of others, and we enjoy the fruits of their lifelong toil.

It is in London, more than anywhere, that the real poetry of living
may be enjoyed, and that every passing artistic whim may be indulged.
Does your mind require stimulating by the study of Greek art? the
galleries of the British Museum are open to you; or

  "Dost thou love pictures? we will fetch thee straight
   Adonis painted by a running brook;
   Or Cytherea, 'mid the sedges hid,
   That seem to move and wanton with her breath."

Or do you feel that what your mood needs is the contemplation of
beautiful eighteenth century French furniture, and Fragonard's
pictures? Go then, to Hertford House in quiet Manchester Square, and
see the world-famed Wallace Collection. The "Wallace Collection," that
pearl of great price, of which the bequest has recently so convulsed
the art world, is the latest expression of the patriotism of wealth.
Collected mainly by the third Marquess of Hertford,--the "Lord Steyne"
of Thackeray's novel,--and his successor the fourth Marquess, Attaché
at the Paris Embassy,--the treasure, since its formation, has met, at
one time or another, with strange and unique adventures. In Paris, the
fourth Marquess, Richard Seymour Conway, built for his collection "a
stately pleasure house," fitted and designed after his own sumptuous
taste; living meanwhile, his wealth no doubt crippled by his vast
"unearned increment," not, indeed, as a miser, but in a degree of
seclusion that almost amounted to eccentricity. During the Commune,
the bulk of that collection that we now admire was even, it is said,
buried in underground cellars for safety. The beautiful French
furniture,--the bric-à-brac, blazing with enamels and precious
stones,--one can well imagine these the constant delight of the old
collector, with whom the love for such things had become a ruling
passion. Yet, by the irony of fate, this fourth Lord Hertford suffered
from a painful disease, a continual affliction which, they say, only
the news of victories achieved in sale rooms, by his agents, over some
rival collector, at all tended to alleviate.

Though reproached during his lifetime as an "absentee landlord," a
nobleman who preferred residence in Paris to a home in his native
land, Lord Hertford has certainly, in the upshot, been proved to have
deserved as well as any man of his country. Time's revenges are slow,
but they are effective; and the fourth Marquess, the flouted foreign
resident, has proved, indirectly, the greatest patriot of his age.
But, while the old nobleman's sentiment appears to have been mainly
negative (as shown, for instance, by his decision that the collection
should not enrich the Louvre), it was really Sir Richard Wallace, his
successor, faithful friend, and co-collector (some say, also near
kinsman), who should have the largest share of the nation's gratitude.

Sir Richard Wallace, Lord Hertford's sole heir, deciding, after the
imminent dangers of the Commune, that it was rash to leave the
inheritance thus at the mercy of vandalism, removed it, in 1872, to
London, where, for three years, it filled the Bethnal Green Museum;
being removed to Hertford House, the London residence of the family
(by then arranged to receive it), in 1875. Sir Richard, whose only son
had meanwhile died, left in his turn the whole of the property to his
wife, a French lady, whose loyalty to her husband's country should
cause her name, for all time, to be writ large on the roll of honour.
Here, in Hertford House, a few years after Sir Richard's death, Lady
Wallace died; and, in accordance with her husband's secret wish,
bequeathed the whole of the immense property to the British nation.
And now, for future ages, Hertford House, with all its myriad
treasures, a collection perfect as it stands, fresh from the
arrangement and taste of the collector, will be the glorious heritage
of the nation.

One of the greatest charms of Hertford House is that it suggests none
of the red-tapeism, or of the dull uniformity of a museum, and,
consequently, does not affect visitors, as so many museums do, with a
primary sense of fatigue and boredom. The rooms of the palatial
mansion are still arranged mainly as they were in the owner's time;
the long suites of reception saloons, through which the reflected
sunlight glitters,--vistas of French tapestries, pictures,
lapis-lazuli, enamels, and Sèvres china,--convey all the suggestion,
even in prosaic London, of a fairy palace. Even a Countess d'Aulnoy,
with her wealth of imagery, could hardly have imagined a finer setting
for her Gracieuse and Percinet, or any of their dainty royal line.
There is an _intime_ air, almost as of home, even about the long
picture gallery where the Gainsboroughs and Sir Joshuas smile sedately
upon us. The sweet presentments of fair dead ladies, seen here in
their proper setting; the Pompeian central courtyard and plashing
fountain, whence, it is said, the aged Lady Wallace was daily to be
seen, leaning from the balcony that projects from the upper rooms, to
feed her crowd of birds, eager pensioners, with their breakfast of
crumbs; these combine to give an atmosphere of human charm, a thing
quite apart from the usual cold aloofness of museums. It is again the
idea of the Soane Museum, but on a very magnificent scale. Beautiful
in its publicity, how mysteriously lovely must it not have been in the
days of its seclusion! One can almost share the feelings of that old
retainer who said, on the last sad day before the opening; "Ah, Sir!
the Wallace Collection, _as it was_, you and I will never see
again--for the _common people_ are going to be let in!"

Londoners, in this instance, at any rate, fully appreciate the
magnificence of the gift made them. Hertford House is, on fine days,
usually thronged; all classes are represented there; but there is
noticeably more of the "smart world" to be seen there, than is usually
to be found in London galleries. The "smart world," as distinguished
from the scholarly; but the scholarly world is to be met there too,
and will still visit Hertford House, after the "Good Society" has
forsaken it, and betaken itself to some newer haunt of fashion. In
each of London's picture galleries and museums, its special
_clientèle_ may very easily be detected; and, at any rate, that of
Hertford House is certainly, so far, the best-dressed. Among the crowd
are often to be seen groups of young girls, demurely following in the
wake of some feminine leader, who discourses to them about the
pictures, and the various schools of painting,--a thing, this, that
surely requires some courage in a mixed community. It is not to be
denied that the visitor is often sadly in need of some guide: "Are all
these pictures hand-painted?" I have myself heard a well-dressed and
(presumably) well-educated young girl say, at the National Gallery.
Perhaps it is a felt want, for one never knows what extra "following"
one may not, unconsciously, attract: I myself once saw an unhappy lady
lecturer, carried away by the enthusiasm of the subject, turn round
and give an eloquent peroration and summary of it to a policeman, a
deaf old lady, and a nursemaid carrying a vacant looking baby:

"Now," said the lady cheerfully, "just to show what you have learned,
tell me, in your own words, what you consider to have been the
influence of Giotto on Early Italian Art?"

No one answered; but the vacant baby, apparently thinking it a
challenge, wailed.

And, in Hertford House, the custom lends itself to additional dangers;
for peripatetic classes are many, and in the nooks and unexpected
corners of the mansion, it is fatally easy to lose your special crowd
of students altogether, and to attach yourself, again unconsciously,
to some one else's flock; who, by the chilly indifference with which
they receive your well-intentioned homilies, soon make you
unpleasantly aware of your mistake. Like "Little Bo-Peep," you then
vainly pursue your wandering sheep, from one gallery into another,
feeling, perhaps, that the pursuit of pupils, as of Art, has its
drawbacks; and that tea, in the shape of the nearest "Aerated," is all
too distant.

The "sheep" in question are, however, discovered at last, placidly
gloating over the wonderful collection of jewelled snuff-boxes--was
there ever such a marvellous display of miniatures and of brilliants?
Truly, the eighteenth century was a luxurious age!... Surely, no one
can ever have dared to sit comfortably on those priceless chairs, or
to have taken tea out of a Sèvres cup, at one of those marvellously
inlaid, jewel-encrusted tables?

The pictures, however, are the chief delight of Hertford House. It is
easy to admire porcelain, armour, bric-à-brac; but to really enjoy it
in the best sense, one must be more or less learned in the cult; while
pictures, though their full appreciation implies a certain amount of
education, are better understanded of the multitude. But, though the
British and foreign schools are well represented, it is the unrivalled
collection of French pictures of the eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries, works by Watteau, Lancret, Fragonard, Greuze, and all the
noted painters of the French school, that the great world, primarily,
flock to see at Hertford House. Twenty-one pictures by Greuze alone
will delight the lovers of that painter's work, and bring their minds
back to the eternally-charming affectations of that eighteenth century
in which so many of our modern poets yearn to have lived. One can
imagine, for instance, Mr. Austin Dobson echoing Campbell's lovely
lines to the pretty, typical girl-face that Greuze loved so well:

  "Transported to thy time I seem,
     Though dust thy coffin covers--
   And hear the songs, in fancy's dream,
     Of thy devoted lovers."...

Here, naïve as always, yet never quite without a certain faint
meretriciousness of effect, the "girl-child" of Greuze looks down on
the visitor in every costume and attitude.

In the long picture-gallery that forms one side of the great
quadrangle, there are large canvases by Reynolds, Gainsborough,
Romney, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Hals, Murillo, and many others. Here is
a charming picture of "Miss Bowles" by Reynolds,--the little girl with
round eyes, cuddling a dog, so long familiar to us by engraving or
print; and here, too, is Frans Hals's _Laughing Cavalier_, whose
infectious laugh lingers so long in the memory.

Sir Richard Wallace offered his collection, with his house, to the
nation before his death; the Government, however, after the usual
manner of Governments in such matters, raised objections; and the
affair subsided, till the surprise of the widow's legacy came, and
showed the long and serious intention of the gift. One little picture,
_The Peace of Münster_, by Terburg, a small historical panel of untold
and unique value, was, indeed, given by Sir Richard to the National
Gallery before his death; yet even this gift had a narrow escape of
being rejected; for the would-be donor, unrecognized, and wearing
shabby clothes, was ill received by Sir William Boxall, the then
Director, and was all but sent away with contumely, with his picture,
till he made it and himself known:

     "My name is Wallace," said the stranger quietly, "Sir
     Richard Wallace; and I came to offer this picture to the
     National Gallery." "I nearly fainted," said Boxall when he
     told the story.... "I had nearly refused _The Peace of
     Münster_, one of the wonders of the world!"

Nevertheless, the little scene is in its way truly typical of the
nation's treatment of its would-be benefactors!

The story of the foundation of the British Museum, the classic edifice
in Bloomsbury that has arisen on the site of the old historic Montague
House, is not unlike that of Hertford House. For, the first beginnings
of the enormous museum collections originated very much in the same
manner as the Hertford Bequest. Sir Hans Sloane, the Sir Richard
Wallace of his day, Chelsea magnate, physician, naturalist, and
philanthropist, determined his large library collections to the
nation, offering them by his will, at a fourth of their estimated
value; desiring, like Sir Richard, that, if possible, the collections
should remain in his house,--Henry VIII.'s historic Chelsea
manor-house. This wish, however, was not in his case carried out; the
ancient building was demolished, and, in its stead, the British Museum
was founded.

At the British Museum the lady-lecturer, with her tribe of earnest
students, is occasionally also to be met with. Here she is often
youthful and attractive, and is generally to be found,--strange
contrast of associations!--either in the Mausoleum Room, or among the
Elgin Marbles: her little band of eager pupils scribbling in their
note-books at a respectful distance. Last March I saw a charming,
Hypatia-like lady, tall and fair, gray-eyed and gray-robed, holding
thus her little court, by the lovely figure of Demeter; I would fain
have joined myself to the small gathering, and posed as a pupil, but
that my courage failed.... I felt, however, glad to think that, in
this case, the study of Art had not, as some declare, tended to make
the young lady regardless either of her appearance or of
neatly-fitting tailor-made clothes. But she went on with her following
to the Nereid's Tomb, and I saw her no more.

In the long galleries of the British Museum is generally to be found a
motley gathering of visitors, in which the poor, and the children of
the poor, largely predominate. Rows of chattering little girls in
pinafores, corresponding batches of little boys in knickerbockers,
greet one at every turn. And the more ragged the children, the more
astonishingly erudite and profound are sometimes their utterances.
This is a surprising testimony to the efficacy of the Board Schools,
as well as to the advance of learning generally. The visitor who "lies
low" and listens, in any of the Greek Marble Rooms, will often find
cause to marvel at youthful and ragged intelligence. Girls are more
flippant, perhaps, than boys: "'Ere's the Wenus," one will say: "you
can always tell 'er, 'cos she seems to be lookin' around and sayin':
'Ain't I pretty'?" Yet, though to hear unkempt and neglected waifs
talking wisely about Greek marbles does, I must confess, puzzle me, I
must, in fairness, own that there appears to be another side to the
question, and that the officials on guard appear to entertain no very
high views as to juvenile erudition. "So far as I've noticed," a
kindly British Museum policeman once said to me, "the street children
don't get much real good out of going to the Museum. They bring a lot
of dirt out of the streets in with them, their fingers are generally
sticky, and they look about 'em--oh, yes! but not usually with any
object, just vacantly."

This was depressing. (Did the accompanying dirt, I wondered, at all
affect this particular policeman's outlook?) "But I saw a small crowd
of boys and girls looking hard at the King Alfred documents and
missals," I murmured.

"Oh, and so you might have done; but didn't you notice," said the
stern guardian of the law, "that a lot of ladies and gentlemen had
been lookin' at 'em just before? They wouldn't have troubled about 'em
without that.... And King Alfred's all the thing now.... Children
always come, like bees, where other people are lookin'; and try and
squeeze the older folks out just to see what they've been a-lookin'
at.... Yes," he owned, in reply to my incredulous interjection, "the
children might have _heard_ the name of Alfred in their history books,
but no more; _that_ wouldn't be the cause of their crowding up. Their
mothers often send 'em into the Museum when they want to go out
themselves, or perhaps just to get rid of 'em for a time. Children are
more indulged, and not half so well-behaved, as I was when I was a
boy."

But the chatter of the children is stilled, or, at any rate, lost
among the vast marbles of the collection, where so many sounds mix and
mingle in a soothing aloofness. Here, in the long galleries, where the
faint light, "that kind of light," as Rossetti said, "that London
takes the day to be," slants down on Roman bust and Greek god, may
sometimes be heard charitable ladies explaining to dirty little
street-arabs the influence of Phidias on Early Italian sculpture; or
one of the elegant Hypatia-like girl-lecturers already described,
discourses, while a motley crowd of pupils:

  --"school-foundations in the act
  Of holiday, three files compact--"

--draw near to listen.... And who can tell where the grain may fall?

Sunday is now the great "People's Day" at the British Museum. Those
who cavil at "Sunday opening" should really visit the Museum then,
when, from two till four, the galleries are dotted with intelligent
sightseers. (For the Museum, be it noted, is not so often used as a
mere shelter from rain, "jes' to pass the toime away," or as the
"refreshment-room" already referred to, as it used to be.) Perhaps the
greatest crowd is to be found upstairs, where the mummy-room is
greatly beloved, both of small boys and of honey-mooning couples.
Young couples, I notice, either in the "courting" or newly-married
stage, have ever a strong affinity for mummies;--and as to boys!...
While you are, perchance, reflecting over the decaying embroideries of
a mummy-case, and wondering what was the life and fate of its
once-lovely occupant, after the manner of Sir Edwin Arnold:

  "Tiny slippers of gold and green!
   Tied with a mouldering golden cord!
   What pretty feet you must have been
   When Cæsar Augustus was Egypt's lord'--

"'Ere, look 'ere, Jimmy," one of those demon boys will break in,
interrupting your reverie: "you can see the corpse's 'ole fice! My!
ain't 'e jes' black! Blimy if 'e aint 'ad 'is nose bruk in a fight, as
'e ain't got but the 'alf of it left," &c., &c.

"See wot this lydy's got wrote on 'er, 'Arry," the blooming betrothed
of a speechless young man will strike in, unconsciously carrying on
the chorus: "Three thieusand years old! My! 'ow-ever could they a kep'
'er all that time! She's a bit orf colour, certingly--but sich _good_
clothes to bury 'er in--I call it nothin' but sinful waste," &c., &c.

Yet I can tell a more touching story, in another sort, of the Mummy
Room. Once I happened to watch a small boy--a very decidedly "earthly"
small boy, too; one would not have expected it of him--on whom the
mummies seemed to exercise a quite indescribable fascination. He even
stopped half-way through his stale Museum bun, and gazed at them with
a species of horror. Then, after a five-minutes' silence, he breathed
hard, and said to his companion, in an awe-struck whisper:

"They don't know we're looking at them!"

The "Jewel Room" is another favourite haunt. Here only some twenty
people are allowed in at one time, and the policemen are doubly
reinforced; and indeed, since the accident to the Portland Vase, it is
certainly a necessary precaution. This beautiful vase, lent in 1810 by
the Duke of Portland, was smashed by a semi-lunatic in 1845. This
man, suddenly and without motive, deliberately aimed a brick at it,
and crashed it into fragments, from which it has been cleverly
restored as we see it at present.

People who find the British Museum exhausting--and they are many--take
too much of it at one time. It is therefore small wonder that they
often suffer from a kind of mental indigestion--"Museum headache" it
has been appropriately termed. A pretty young girl complained to me of
just such a headache the other day: "I wanted," she said, "to go to
"Niagara," but _T--_ insisted on taking me to that dreadful Museum
instead, and I had to walk past rows and rows of awful headless things
for two hours!" Poor thing! But many people share her feelings without
possessing her frankness. And to walk through the long, gloomy
galleries of the Museum without due object, preparation, or intention,
is, no doubt, exhausting. It is true that we are there "heirs of all
the ages," but it is equally true that nobody can satisfactorily
inherit all the ages at one and the same time. If we content ourselves
with but one department for the day, it is wonderful how interested we
may become. Mr. Grant Allen--who, by the way, was generally unkind
about London, must have experienced the boredom that comes with a
mental surfeit.

     "The British Museum" (he says) "is indeed a place to despair
     in--or else to saunter through carelessly with a glance
     right and left at what happens to catch your eye or take
     your fancy. I must add" (he continues unpleasantly), "that a
     certain blight of inexplicable shabbiness hangs somehow over
     the vast collection; whether it is the gloom of Bloomsbury,
     the want of space in the galleries, the haphazard mode of
     acquisition, or what, I know not; but certainly, for some
     mysterious reason, the objects here exhibited are far less
     interesting, relatively to their intrinsic scientific and
     artistic worth, than those of the Louvre, the Vatican, the
     Munich galleries, or any other great European museum.
     Dinginess and stinginess are everywhere conspicuous."

Mr. Grant Allen was, evidently, a West Ender. And as he elsewhere
calls St. Paul's "bare, pretentious, and unimpressive," and London
generally "a squalid village," we need the less mind his calling the
British Museum "a gloomy and depressed looking building." He had
evidently never seen the pillared portico shining in the May sun, its
flocks of pretty pigeons feeding on the green plots that line the
enclosure, and the lately-planted young plane-trees bursting into
vivid green,--a new "boulevard" along its outer line of railings.

Mr. Allen was, of course, thinking of the more romantic surroundings
of foreign galleries, housed in ancient palaces, with all the
adornments of parquet, mosaic, and often tropical gardens. There is,
however, a faint glimmer of truth in what he says. We in London have
not the consummate art of the foreigner in the arrangement and
setting-off of beautiful objects. In the Louvre, for instance, all the
galleries lead to a final star, shining through the long vista of
space,--the Venus of Milo; in the Vatican, all the noble
_chefs-d'oeuvre_ glimmer in alcoves round a central fountain. Here, in
our Museum, _per contra_, you seem rather to be in a Gallery of
Instruction. It is not only in shops that we in England have to learn
how to "dress our windows." But at any rate, no one will deny that we
have of late made enormous advances in the art.

Nevertheless, the beauty and grandeur of the British Museum
collections, beauty on which I have already touched in the Bloomsbury
chapter, impress us in spite of fog, and grime, and dull London
galleries. And the feeling for the suitable arrangement and disposal
of our artistic treasures grows upon our directors year by year. Thus,
the gigantic figure of Mausolus, as he stands driving his triumphal
car, a wonder of the world, is effectively placed; and though it is
but seldom light enough to view the Assyrian Bull-gods thoroughly in
their dark corner, they form, doubtless, an imposing entrance to the
old Greek marbles. The Egyptian Hall is also impressive, and the
enormous scarab, called irreverently by an American visitor, "about
the biggest bug in Europe," is advantageously placed, as also that
Grammar of Hieroglyphic, the "Rosetta Stone."

[Illustration: _At the Royal Academy._]

The collection of Tanagra figurines, on the upper floor, near the
Jewel Room, is one of the most interesting departments in the Museum.
Here, in a small compass, you may follow the whole development of the
plastic art, from the rudest clay effigies and caricatures, to the
most lovely realisation of the Greek feeling for beauty. Some of the
ladies, with their palm-leaf fans and "Liberty" draperies, seem hardly
to come to us from the tomb; have we not met and loved them in our own
day? Their dresses, their attitudes, are so modern, even their hair is
arranged in the present styles. Especially charming are two damsels in
tea-gowns, leaning earnestly towards one another, enjoying some choice
bit of gossip. And there are two figures in this particular gallery,
in which I claim to take a quite special interest; having seen them,
so to speak, in their transition stage. It happened thus: When I was
in Athens some few years back, a waiter, taking us no doubt for "rich
English milors," said, in a stage whisper, that he had some fine
things to dispose of. He kept them, he said, for safety in the cellar.
So to the cellar he went, and produced, from many wrappings of
cotton-wool, the treasures:--that very winged Eros and that same
pirouetting ballet-dancer that now adorn one of the central
wall-cases. Alas, in our case, that waiter was doomed to
disappointment. He wanted no less than £40 for the Eros and £30 for
the ballet dancer; and they were returned to their cotton-wool and to
the cellar. But, a twelvemonth passed, and behold! one fine day we
recognised with joy our old friends in the familiar surroundings of
the British Museum!

Many of the British Museum treasures have, like that winged Eros,
endured strange vicissitudes of fortune. The great "Elgin"
marbles,--those sculptures from the Parthenon so long furiously raged
over in print on the much-vexed charge of vandalism in appropriation,
and still more furiously threatened by the rage of the sea on their
transit from the Acropolis,--were, indeed, shipwrecked on their way
here. Then there are the contents of the "Mausoleum" Room, the whole
story of the discovery of which, by Sir Charles Newton at
Halicarnassus, in 1856 is like one long romance. Other objects recall
various stories. The familiar bust called "Clytie," for instance, so
admired by Carlyle, and so familiar in drawing schools, was the most
cherished possession of Mr. Townley, who "escaped with it in his arms
when he was expecting his house to be sacked during the Gordon riots."
"Fortunately," says the chronicler, "the attack did not take place,
and Mr. Townley's wife, as he called her, returned to her companions."
The corridors of the British Museum, that suggest such boredom to the
uninitiated, are full of such stories. So much we know, but, ah! if
these stones could only tell their histories, and let the full light
into their chequered past!

The South Kensington Museum, now officially, by order of the late
Queen, termed "the Victoria and Albert Museum," is well known to all
dwellers in, and visitors to, London. The large and wonderful
collections that it contains have been for many years so overcrowded
and so irregularly arranged, as to lose half their attraction. For
long it existed partly in shanties and temporary buildings, and a
hideous iron structure, nicknamed the "Brompton Boilers," was for long
the disgrace of a rich and a beauty-loving nation. All these have at
length been swept away; the terribly inadequate main entrance (in the
Brompton Road) is being done away with, and a new façade is rising,
which will soon effect great changes and improvements. Mr. Ruskin, who
was always a victim of moods, was apparently in his day made very
cross by the general muddle, and expressed his feelings on the subject
in the following burst of pathetic eloquence:

     "At South Kensington" (he says), "where I lost myself in a
     Cretan labyrinth of military ironmongery, advertisements of
     spring blinds, model fish-farming, and plaster bathing
     nymphs with a year's smut on the noses of them; and had to
     put myself in charge of a policeman to get out again."

Indeed, in its vast size, its involved construction, and its
encyclopædic scope, the South Kensington Museum much resembles a
maze, and, once inside it, it is difficult indeed to know the points
of the compass. Yet, everything can be seen here, if only you know
where to look for it. It is, itself, a "General Exhibition" on no mean
scale. And here is more than ever exemplified the great truth, that
the most beautiful objects lose in effect in proportion to the
unsuitableness of their immediate surroundings. Even the model of the
Pisan pulpit, crowded as it is among so many incongruous objects,
seems here a sort of glorified stove-pipe, while the carved front of
Sir Paul Pindar's old house almost suggests a magnified dolls'-house
awaiting sale, and plaster casts jostle on all sides with the valuable
treasures of antiquity. Here again are the groups of feminine students
with their guides, and also many isolated toilers, "working up" some
special branch of knowledge in the different sections, such as
Ivories, Porcelain, Lace, Musical Instruments, or Italian woodwork.
(The students are here, I may add, a trifle better dressed than those
at the British Museum; they are also, on an average, a thought
cleaner, and their hair has, perhaps, a tendency to be neater.) The
"omnium-gatherum," as it has been called, of South Kensington, should,
like any other Exhibition, be taken piecemeal, and on the first visit
the stranger should merely try, if possible, to see the historic
Raphael cartoons, and those most interesting pictures of the British
School that form the famous "Sheepshanks" collection.

The neighbouring Natural History Museum, Waterhouse's vast edifice of
terra-cotta, is, internally, a most beautifully planned building, and
the arrangement of its various classes of specimens is no less
excellent. Nothing could be better done, either for purposes of
entertainment or of instruction, than the groups in the Great Hall of
the building, where animals, birds, and insects, are shown charmingly
mounted and in their own natural surroundings; and where, by careful
and well-selected illustration, such strange living mysteries as
"melanism" and "albinism" are demonstrated and explained. One of the
most striking glass cases of all is that which illustrates "Protective
Resemblances and Mimicry," a subject which is attracting much notice
at the present day among naturalists (see the late Professor Henry
Drummond's _Tropical Africa_ for further curious information on this
interesting subject). Some of the strange natural imitations shown
here, such as of dead leaves by butterflies, or of bits of straw by
insects, are wonderful indeed.

The new Tate Gallery, raised by the munificence of one of our merchant
princes for the enshrinement of modern British Art, is a building of
quite another kind. This edifice, in the Greek style, was built by the
late Sir Henry Tate, on the site of old Millbank Prison, at
Westminster. When this Gallery was first opened, in July, 1897, its
approaches were always thronged by private carriages, and powdered
footmen waited in the muddy, half-finished roads (for the whole
locality was then in a state of incompleteness). But this was in the
early days of its fame; the vagaries of fashion are of short duration,
and although even yet "smart" people are to be met with occasionally
in the Tate Gallery, they are now in a decided minority; they have,
most likely, betaken themselves to the still newer exhibition of
Hertford House.

It is the artisan, the small shopkeeper, the great "lower
middle-class," that frequent chiefly the Tate Gallery. Not by any
means the same class, for instance, that you see at the National
Gallery; the visitors to the Tate Gallery are mainly the lovers of
"the human interest" in a picture, and not the earnest students. Here
the sightseers roam, like butterflies, from flower to flower; not so
much to gather the honey, as just to enjoy the moment. Therefore, at
Millbank, they are but rarely gowned in angular "art serge," and are
but seldom be-spectacled and be-catalogued. Neither are the
Hypatia-like girl-lecturers at all evident. Sir Henry Tate used to
take an evident pleasure in walking about the galleries that his
munificence had provided. Only a short time before his death, he was
to be seen there, benevolent and urbane as ever, the type of what Mr.
Ruskin has called "the entirely honest merchant."

The Tate Gallery is considered, administratively, as part of the
National Gallery; and many pictures of the modern British school have,
as every one knows, been removed to Millbank from the older
collection. But the earlier pictures of the British School, and the
Turners, are still in Trafalgar Square.

The wealth of foreign pictures now to be seen in the National Gallery
of London renders it the Mecca of every visitor, both from our own
country, and from overseas. The National Gallery, fine as it is, is
but a comparatively modern growth. Founded in 1824 by the purchase of
the Angerstein Collection, it slowly, very slowly at first, crept into
fame and distinction. Only some forty-five years ago, Mr. Ruskin said
of it that it was "an European jest!" Since 1887 its pictures have
nearly doubled in number and it is now, if not one of the finest, at
least one of the most representative, collections in the world. The
internal arrangement of the Gallery leaves little to be desired, and
its spacious entrance hall and staircase, adorned with coloured
marbles, has a solid dignity, with a cheerfulness and brightness
usually somewhat lacking in London. A fine bust of Egyptian porphyry,
called the "Dying Alexander," (a copy of one in the Uffizi), presented
by Mr. Henry Yates Thompson, forms an effective centre-piece for the
Entrance Vestibule.

Once inside the magic portals of the National Gallery, a very paradise
is opened to the art-loving visitor. He will soon forget, revelling in
those soft Italian skies, that glowing southern colour, that outside
his shelter hums the London of the twentieth century. The pictures are
finely arranged, and they are not crowded. A hint has been taken from
the Louvre, and the famous "Blenheim Raphael," the _Ansidei Madonna_
(bought by the nation for such a tremendous price from the Duke of
Marlborough), greets the entering visitor from the far end of a long
vista. The walls on which the pictures are hung are covered in
Pompeian red or sober green, with a wall-covering that has the
soothing effect of rich Venetian brocade, and that even improves in
tone with years.

[Illustration: _Recruiting Serjeants by the National Gallery._]

The National Gallery cannot be seen in one visit. For any real
appreciation of the vast collections, ten, twenty visits rather are
needed; visits that need never, now, be other than a pleasure; the
improved conditions making the place itself attractive, and whatever
light is obtainable in London finding its way to those large and lofty
galleries. The mass of "the People" mainly frequent the British
Schools; and, even in the larger portion of the building occupied by
the Foreign Schools, every room has usually, like the London
collections generally, its special votaries. For instance, in the
little room devoted to the Early Sienese painters, you will nearly
always find a few earnest students, making pencil marks on note-books
or in elaborate catalogues; in the long Italian Gallery they are,
perhaps, just a trifle less severe, but are still more or less of the
same type, sitting in rapt contemplation and still with catalogues;
but the Dutch School is already more flippant, and but few catalogues
survive into the Spanish and French Schools.

The romance of the National Gallery,--what volumes might not be
written on the fascinating subject! If, here again, old pictures could
tell stories of their past, what adventures could they not relate! The
long corridors of the National Gallery, filled with masterpieces from
all nations and ages, would of themselves furnish as copious records
as many a shelf in the British Museum Library. What stories might
these pictures tell: of their painting, their owners, the generations
to which they have served as the Lares and Penates, the families whose
vicissitudes they have shared! This, maybe, had hung for years,
blackened and tarnished, in a pawnbroker's shop till some vigilant eye
rescued it from its oblivion; that, perhaps, had saved its owner's
life, or redeemed the fortunes of a nation. This, again, formed the
"wedding-chest" of a beautiful dark-eyed bride, dust long ago; that
caused the imprisonment, almost the death, of its author. Unhappily,
old pictures are "silent witnesses" of history. We can, indeed,
discover, through much searching in dusty archives, the _provenance_
of a few of our most celebrated pictures, or read, perhaps, one or two
of the stories relating to them; but how many are there of which we
have not been able to find a record? It depends mainly on chance what
stories survive, and what do not. Then, such as are known are often
not widely known; they lie hidden, for the most part, in musty
blue-books, or in tomes of ancient lore, attainable by the student
only. The mere title, _The Cornfield_ or _The Repose_, tells so
little. Does it not add to our interest in the pictures to know that
the one was thought by Constable to be his best work, and that the
scene of the other was laid among the hills of Titian's own country?
In connection with the inscriptions on the frames, most visitors, I
fancy, will share the disappointment I felt, when on revisiting the
Gallery one day I found the familiar "Raphael" disguised as "Sanzio,"
"Tintoret," as "Robusti" and so forth; but this somewhat pedantic
innovation has now been partially remedied.

The early Italian pictures were usually painted to adorn particular
places; some, perhaps, to decorate a wooden chest for the furnishing
of a room, as Benozzo Gozzoli's _Rape of Helen_; others to consecrate
an altar, as Raphael's _Madonna_; many to assist in the carrying out
of some architectural design, as in Crivelli's pictures, or Fra
Filippo Lippi's _Vision of St. Bernard_. All, at any rate, were
painted, not to hang in rows in a gallery, but for particular persons,
places, and occasions, far removed from the present environment of
them. Perhaps our only pictures specially painted with a view to the
Gallery which they now adorn, are those in which Turner's rivalry with
Claude is immortalised. Visitors may wonder why, in a room devoted to
the French School of Painting, they are suddenly confronted with two
large canvases of Turner's. The fact is that Turner painted them in
direct competition with Claude. The great modern landscape-painter
determined to beat the ancient on his own classical ground. Whether he
has conquered is indeed a question; but the pictures still hang side
by side in unconscious rivalry, telling the pathetic story of the dead
man's ambition. Turner, who left these two pictures, among many
others, to the nation, expressly stipulated that they should hang
between those two by Claude. In vain, during his life, large sums were
offered for them; he steadily refused to sell. "What in the world,
Turner, are you going to do with it?" his friend Chantrey asked,
referring to the _Carthage_. "Be buried in it," Turner replied grimly,
keeping its real destination a secret.

There are in the National Gallery some pictures actually painted for
the sitters to be buried in. These are the early Græco-Egyptian
portraits, which glare down upon us in the vestibule. A few years ago
a workman's spade, digging in the Fayoum, accidentally struck against
a mummy-case. Affixed to the outside covering, in a position
corresponding to the head of the corpse, was a portrait of a man in
his habit as he lived. That "find" led to others. Some dozen tombs,
closed 1,500 years ago, were rifled in order to supply a fresh link in
the historical development of art as exhibited in our National
Gallery.

Just above these old-world pagans hangs Spinello Aretino's _Fall of
the Rebel Angels_, with devils and dragons galore. If you gaze at the
mummy faces long enough, you can quite imagine the dead men's faces
looking at you; as Spinello, who was an imaginative Florentine, used
to think his devils did. Spinello's picture was painted to decorate
the church of Sta. Maria degli Angeli, in his native town of Arezzo;
and he laboured hard to make the chief fiend, Lucifer, as hideous as
possible. So much did this idea prey upon him, that one night he had a
terrible dream. The demon he had painted appeared to him in his sleep,
demanding to know why the painter had made him so ugly. Spinello, it
is said, did not survive the shock, which is a warning to those who
take liberties with the devil. The Greek painter, who, when confronted
with an unpleasing sitter, said frankly, "Paint you? Who would paint
you, when no one would even look at you?" was wiser.

Seeing the pictures in the National Gallery is like reading bits of
old biographies. All true artists put their life into their work, and
leave it there. Take Marco Marziale's work--_The Circumcision of
Christ_ (No. 803)--it is wonderful in respect of the faithful labour
put into things that the modern painter would generalise as mere
accessories. An amateur embroideress could easily copy the elaborate
cross-stitch of Marziale's lectern border, and find no stitch in its
wrong place. He who did this was only a second-rate Venetian painter,
and a label painted on the canvas fixes the date and makes it probable
that this was his first important commission; therefore, Marco spared
no trouble, and crowded his picture with all the most beautiful
textures and patterns known to the Venice of his day. People did not
scamp work in those times.

The painter-poet, William Blake, with his charming insanity, has left
us glimpses of his strangely warped mind in his mysterious painting of
_Pitt Guiding Behemoth_, which hangs on the walls in another part of
the gallery. The more one looks at this little picture, the more its
green and gold hues and the tongues of its flames have fascination. It
is dark and unattractive at a first glance: but, to show how fatally
easy it is to attract a "following," and also how much in need the
average visitor is of a pilot to the Gallery, one only has to draw up
a chair and seat one's self before this small canvas to collect an
inquisitive crowd. People, even educated people, are strangely
imitative! Besides this picture, there are only one or two minor works
by Blake in our National Gallery. Instead of his _Canterbury
Pilgrims_, we have here that of his contemporary Stothard, who took
the idea from Blake and supplanted him. Stothard's _Canterbury
Pilgrims_ caused a quarrel between himself and Blake; a quarrel which
was never healed; and Blake criticised his rival's painting freely on
its exhibition. Hoppner, the artist, praised it; adding that Stothard
had "contrived to give a value to a common scene, and very ordinary
forms." Thereupon Blake, in criticising the critic, said that this was
Hoppner's only just observation; "for it is so, and very wretchedly so
indeed. The scene of Mr. S.'s picture," he adds, "is by Dulwich hills,
which is not the way to Canterbury; but perhaps the painter thought he
would give them a ride round about, because they were a burlesque set
of scarecrows, not worth any man's respect or care." _Tantæne animis
cælestibus iræ?_

Among the works of the Lombard School is a picture by Parmigiano, _The
Vision of St. Jerome_ (No. 33), which shows how the artist can forget
himself in his work. For Parmigiano was engaged on this very picture,
in Rome, during the German sack of the city in 1527. Vasari says that
the painter was so intent on his work that, even while his own
dwelling was filled with the German invaders, he continued
undisturbed; and that when they arrived in his room and found him so
employed they stood amazed at the beautiful paintings, and wisely
permitted him to continue. Parmigiano's picture is thus, in the truest
sense, historical.

There is another class of pictures that is associated with incidents
in history. First, we have that priceless little painting by Gerard
Terburg, _The Peace of Münster_ (896), mentioned before in connection
with Hertford House. It hangs in the Dutch Room, and is so small that
one might easily overlook it. Small as it is, it cost at its last sale
£8,800; £24 for every square inch of canvas. The Dutch painter has
represented one of the turning-points of his country's history; the
ratification, in 1684, of the Treaty of Münster, by which the long war
between Spain and the United Provinces was ended. The numerous heads
are all portraits, and, in the background, the painter has introduced
himself. There is about this painting a photographic truth, a minute
fidelity, which makes it doubly interesting. Terburg would not part
with it during his life. Afterwards, amid many vicissitudes, it passed
into the possession of Prince Talleyrand, and was actually hanging in
the room of his hotel, under the view of the Allied Sovereigns, at the
signing of the Treaty of 1814. Not less interesting in its way is the
painting by Holbein of the Duchess Christina of Denmark. Among
Holbein's duties, as Court painter and favourite of Henry VIII., was
that of taking the portraits of the ladies whom the King proposed to
wed. This young Christina was prime favourite after the death of Jane
Seymour, and Holbein was despatched to Brussels to paint her. The
picture pleased his Majesty; but, for political reasons, the match was
broken off. The story of Christina's message to the King, that she had
but one head, but that if she "had two one should be at the service of
his Majesty," is now discredited; but the Duchess seems to have had a
character of her own.

_Peace and War_, by Rubens, an allegorical canvas (46), is another
picture designed to sway the fate of nations. Rubens painted it when
he came over to England, in 1630, as ambassador to negotiate a peace
with Spain. He produced an elaborate allegory showing forth the
Blessings of Peace, and presented it, with much diplomacy, to Charles
I. It was sold, after the King's death, for £100; to be bought back
again for £3,000. With regard to Charles I.'s pictures generally, much
might be said of the strange irony of history. The large equestrian
picture of the King by Vandyck (1172), bought for the nation at the
Blenheim sale for £17,000, was, after his death, sold by Parliament,
for a paltry sum; and Correggio's famous _Mercury, Venus, and Cupid_,
(10), also included in Charles's collection, was sold and bought again
by successive Parliaments.

Among the early Florentine pictures in the Gallery, Botticelli's
_Nativity of Christ_ (1034), is history in the sense of showing the
force of the religious revival in Savonarola's time. Botticelli, at
the age of forty, fell under the preacher's influence, and, forsaking
the world's pleasures, made a "mourner" of himself until his death.
This is the picture that, as Mr. Lang says, was:

  "Wrought in the troublous times of Italy
   By Sandro Botticelli, when for fear
   Of that last judgment, and last day drawn near,
   To end all labour and all revelry,
   He wept and prayed in silence."

The painting is full of theological symbolism, and its Greek
inscription, being translated, runs: "This, I, Alexander, painted at
the end of the year 1500, in the troubles of Italy, in the half-time
after the time during the fulfilment of the eleventh of St. John, in
the second woe of the Apocalypse, in the loosing of the Devil for
three years and a half. Afterwards he shall be chained, and we shall
see him trodden down, as in this picture." Botticelli had already,
earlier in life, got into religious trouble by his reforming
tendencies. When quite a young man, he had painted, for a Florentine
citizen, Matteo Palmieri, a large picture called _The Assumption of
the Virgin_, which also hangs in our Gallery (No. 1126). Palmieri had
adopted Origen's strange heresy that the human race was an incarnation
of those angels who, in the revolt of Lucifer, were neither for God
nor for his enemies; and, as he and Botticelli, in working out the
design of the picture, had made amendments in theology, they fell into
disgrace. Suspected of heresy, Botticelli's work was covered up; and
the chapel for which it had been painted was closed until the picture
left Florence for the Duke of Hamilton's collection and was bought by
the nation in 1882. "The story of the heresy interprets," Mr. Pater
says, "much of the peculiar sentiment with which Botticelli infuses
his profane and sacred persons, neither all human nor all divine."

Most interesting, too, is Carpaccio's Venetian painting of the Doge
Giovanni Mocenigo (750), which faithfully represents a page of the
history of Venice. The doge is shown kneeling before the Virgin, and
begging her protection, on the occasion of the plague in 1478.
Medicaments and nostrums against the epidemic are contained in a gold
vase on the altar before the throne; and a blessing (according to the
inscription below) is asked on them: "Celestial Virgin, preserve the
City and Republic of Venice, and the Venetian State, and extend your
protection to me, if I deserve it." Simple and modest indeed was
Venice in the good days of her prosperity! Compare with this kneeling,
crownless doge, the new and elaborate frescoes in the Vatican, where
the Pope is represented in his grandest robes, benevolently granting
to the Madonna an audience, with masters of the ceremonies standing
by, and obsequious pages holding his gold-laced train.

Some of the greatest ornaments of our Gallery are those which have
been thrown off easily in the magnanimity of art. Chief of these is
the Veronese called _The Family of Darius_ (294). This large painting,
with its splendid architecture, gem-like colour, and wonderful
composition, was painted while Veronese was detained by an accident at
the Pisani Villa at Este. Having left it behind him there, he sent
word that he had left wherewithal to defray the expense of his
entertainment; and his words were more than verified. The picture,
whose golden tones Smetham, the artist, so much admired, turned really
to gold afterwards. The Pisani family sold it to the National Gallery,
in 1857, for £13,650. Veronese's lavishness in giving away his
masterpieces was almost equalled, however, by our own Gainsborough,
who gave his _Parish Clerk_ (760) to a carrier who had conveyed his
pictures from Bath to the Royal Academy.

The wanderings and vicissitudes of celebrated pictures have been many
indeed. The celebrated Van Eyck, _Jan Arnolfini and his Wife_ (186),
painted five hundred years ago, has had, for instance, an eventful
history. At one time a barber-surgeon at Bruges presented it to the
Queen Regent of the Netherlands, who valued it so highly that she
pensioned him in consideration of the gift. At another, it must have
passed again into humbler hands; for General Hay found it in the room
at Brussels to which he was taken in 1815 to recover from the battle
of Waterloo. The story of Michael Angelo's _Entombment_ is also
curious. It was once in the gallery of Cardinal Fesch, which was sold
and dispersed after the cardinal's death. Being in a neglected
condition and unfinished it attracted little attention, and was bought
very cheaply by Mr. Macpherson, a Scotchman sojourning in Rome. After
the dirt had been removed, it was submitted to competent judges, who
pronounced it to be by Michael Angelo. This caused a great sensation;
and a lawsuit was instituted against Mr. Macpherson for the recovery
of the picture, a suit which ultimately ended in his favour. He
removed the picture to England, and sold it to the National Gallery
for £2,000.

The pictures that were the favourites of great men gain an
additional value in our eyes from that fact. Vandyck's _Portrait of
Rubens_ (49), Bassano's _Good Samaritan_ (277), and Bourdon's
_Return of the Ark_ (64), were all owned and much-prized by Sir
Joshua Reynolds, who would often admire, to his Academy pupils, the
"poetical style" of the Bourdon. Vandyck himself singled out the
_Portrait of Gevartius_ as his masterpiece, and used to "carry it
about from court to court and from patron to patron, to show what he
could do as a portrait-painter." There is, too, a pretty story of
how Sir George Beaumont valued a little landscape by Claude (61), so
highly that he made it his travelling companion. He presented it to
the National Gallery in 1826; but, unable to bear its loss, begged
it back for the rest of his life. He took it with him into the
country; and on his death two years later, his widow restored it to
the nation.

I might go on multiplying picture-stories for ever; for the romance of
the National Gallery is inexhaustible. Times, and men, change; we live
our little day, and are gone; but here, upon our walls, live souls
embodied in canvases, monuments of human spirits which from age to age
are still instinct with life. "Paul Veronese," James Smetham writes,
"three hundred years ago, painted that bright Alexander, with his
handsome flushed Venetian face, and that glowing uniform of the
Venetian general which he wears; and before him, on their knees, he
set those golden ladies, who are pleading in pink and violet; and
there is he, and there are they in our National Gallery; he, flushed
and handsome, they, golden and suppliant as ever. It takes an oldish
man to remember the comet of 1811. Who remembers Paul Veronese, nine
generations since? But not a tint of his thoughts is unfixed; they
beam along the walls as fresh as ever. Saint Nicholas stoops to the
Angelic Coronation, and the solemn fiddling of the Marriage at Cana is
heard along the silent galleries of the Louvre ('Heard melodies are
sweet, but those unheard are sweeter')! yes; and will be so when you
and I have cleaned our last palette, and, 'in the darkness over us,
the four-handed mole shall scrape.'"

Paul Veronese and his contemporaries knew how to make their works
last. We in our day are not so fortunate. It is sad to think how many
pictures of our own English School are gradually fading away; how many
men have put their best powers into pictures which are now (among them
some of Sir Joshua Reynolds's most beautiful creations) rapidly
becoming "ghosts of ghosts." With Turner the general wreck is more
complete. "Turner," Constable said, "seems to paint with tinted
steam,--so evanescent, and so airy." Alas! evanescent indeed. Reynolds
devoted much time and attention to finding out durable pigments.
Trying to discover the secret, he even cut up some old Italian
pictures. It was a vain quest. The old masters are long ago buried,
and they have carried their secret to the grave.

Sadder still is the case of those artists whose pictures themselves
have not faded, but the fashion for whose pictures has gone. Sir
Benjamin West, who died some sixty odd years ago, enjoyed very great
fame during his life. He painted many large historical canvases, all
painstaking, and, in their way, of undoubted merit. They gained high
prices in their day, and are now mostly consigned either to cellars or
to the darkest rooms of suburban galleries.

Time is, after all, the greatest of art critics, and its judgment is
sure. The best of all the centuries adorns the walls of the National
Museum. It is the best only that survives. To us, in all our painful
twentieth-century newness, it is given to inherit the mystery and
magic of the old Greeks and Egyptians; the charming imagery of
Raphael, filled with simple faith and sweet imagination; the quaint
beauty of Botticelli, and of the early Florentines, whose art was a
part of their life; the gay voluptuousness of the later Venetians;
"the courtly Spanish grace" of Velasquez; the charming affectations of
Sir Joshua Reynolds, shown in the fair ladies whose portraits, in
their beauty, once filled the halls of England. All is given to us,
unsparingly. For us and for the enrichment of the walls of our
National Gallery, did the rude barbarians, in the sack of Italian
cities, stay the hand of destruction; for us the treasures of art were
wrested from many a palace of antiquity; it was for the delight of
thousands of modern Londoners that the monasteries of the Middle Ages
were plundered. Altar-pieces painted for adoration in the private
chapel of some patron saint are now seen dimly, through London fog and
smoke, hanging, maybe, next to some pagan _Bacchus and Ariadne_, or
_Venus and the Loves_. For our sake were battles fought, to include
masterpieces among the spoils; for us did the Italian nobles sell
their treasures into the hands of money-lenders. Could Botticelli,
that fervent follower of Savonarola, he who "worked and prayed in
silence," have guessed that his beloved _Nativity of Christ_ would,
centuries hence, be removed to barbarous London, and be stared at by
crowds of wondering Philistines, who should see in it only the curious
uncouthness of its gestures,--he would, surely, have held his hand.

The National Gallery is the natural haunt of such dreams. Sitting
there in the quickly-growing twilight, how easily it becomes peopled
with ghosts, ghosts even more intangible than Reynolds's. Our thoughts
wander back into the past, the walls grow dim, they seem to melt away
into distance; we hear the sound of music, and see the glimmer of gay
banners, as Cimabue's Madonna is carried past, amid the acclamation of
a multitude; or a gay court appears before our eyes, filled with fine
ladies, grandees, and inquisitors; and, apart from all, a great King
conversing eagerly with a little dark painter, whose only ornament,
beyond his lace ruffles, is the red cross of the Order of Santiago on
his breast; or we seem to be in Italy, in a poetic "Romeo and Juliet"
time and atmosphere, in a rich noble's house, bright with splendid
hangings and works of art; a painted wedding-chest, or _cassone_, has
just been presented, on the occasion of a marriage, and the young
bride herself gazes down lovingly into its depths, which she has just
stored with rich silks and brocaded velvets, and all her treasures;
just such a chest as Ginevra might have hid and perished in; just such
a bride as Ginevra herself. Or the scene changes again to a dusty
gallery in a dingy street, with a little ugly old man mounted high on
a stool, painting furiously away amid a horde of tailless cats; and
anon a transformation, and we see a brilliant illumination of Queen
Mab's Grotto, with fairies in wonderful gondolas, gliding to and fro;
a ball in Venice.... We, too, are invited, but, as we hesitate to
trust ourselves to Turner's airy structures, a voice sounds in our
ear,--a prosaic voice, however: "Closin' time, ma'am, closin' time!"



CHAPTER XV

HISTORIC HOUSES AND THEIR TENANTS

     "I have seen various places ... which have been rendered
     interesting by great men and their works; ... I seem to have
     made friends with them in their own houses; to have walked
     and talked, and suffered and enjoyed with them.... Even in
     London I find the principle hold good in me.... I once had
     duties to perform which kept me out late at night, and
     severely taxed my health and spirits. My path lay through a
     neighbourhood in which Dryden lived; and though nothing
     could be more commonplace, and I used to be tired to the
     heart and soul of me, I never hesitated to go a little out
     of my way purely that I might pass through Gerrard Street,
     and so give myself the shadow of a pleasant
     thought."--_Leigh Hunt._

     "Our houses shape themselves palpably on our inner and outer
     natures. See a householder breaking up and you will be sure
     of it. There is a shellfish which builds all manner of
     smaller shell into the walls of its own. A house is never a
     home until we have crusted it with the spoils of a hundred
     lives besides those of our own past. See what these are and
     you can tell what the occupant is."--_Oliver Wendell
     Holmes._


[Illustration: _At the Club._]

The most curious thing about London houses, and especially
characteristic of our national reserve, is the fact that we can, as a
rule, tell nothing at all about them until we get inside the sacred
enclosure. A Londoner's house is the shell that hides him from the
world; our houses are, to the foreigner, as enigmatic and as exclusive
as we ourselves. But, once past the magic gateway, once past the
Cerberus at the door, you come upon an interior often unguessed and
undreamed of. The contrast is striking. What can be more dully
monotonous, more unromantic, than the row of brick and stucco
house-fronts that face the average large square or street? Yet it is
ten to one that, inside, hardly one of these will exactly resemble the
other, either in taste, architecture, or even general plan. Even the
"long unlovely street" of Tennyson's disapproval may, and does, often
hide unsuspected treasures. Who, for instance, would suspect the
existence of the Greek bas-reliefs, the painted ceilings, the
colonnades and statues in some of the old Bloomsbury houses? Who would
imagine the curious "Soane Museum" in the quiet house in Lincoln's Inn
Fields? the dignified Georgian spaciousness in the old mansions of
Bedford Square? the gorgeous interior of the sombre houses of Bruton
Street? the picture-galleries of Piccadilly and Mayfair? or the
Eastern magnificence and opulence of some of the Park Lane mansions?
For in London, as a rule, there are but few external signs to denote
wealth. Even in our riches, we do not wear our heart on our sleeve.
From a survey of these, as a rule, unimposing façades, we can imagine
the uninitiated foreigner wondering where in the world the people of
the richest city in the universe live. He may, even if intelligent,
wander at large through London, and notice nothing of beauty, or even
of interest. Was it not Madame de Staël who, lodged as she was in
uninspiring Argyll Street, said unkindly, but not, perhaps, without
some reason, with regard to her immediate surroundings that "London
was a province in brick"? But London houses have other and deeper
associations than those of mere riches; the association with mighty
spirits of the past, poets dead and gone, great men of action, kings,
warriors, statesmen; the infinite multitude of those who, "being dead,
yet live." And in some cases, even though the houses themselves have
vanished, yet the places where they stood are still sacred.
Thus,--though it is perhaps difficult to define the exact boundaries
of the old Stuart Palace of Whitehall, or to say where was the special
site of the historic Cockpit,--yet, do they not lend a glory and an
attraction to all the district of Westminster? Do not the purlieus of
the unromantic Borough High Street, murky as these often are, recall
Chaucer's famous Tabard Inn, of Canterbury pilgrims' fame? and does
not the much-abused Griffin, on its Temple Bar pedestal, memorialise
the older and too obstructive arch, where of old the dreadful heads of
political scapegoats were displayed?

Vanished, and every year still vanishing, treasures! Sooner or later,
no doubt, the edifices made sacred by history and association must go
the way of all brick and masonry; yet even such landmarks as Turner's
poor riverside cottage at Chelsea, or Carlyle's modest abode in Cheyne
Walk, it will be sad to part with. That curious humanity that Charles
Dickens gave to houses makes itself again felt in their fall;
dwellings are not immortal, any more than were their great occupants.
There is no picturesque decay in London; what is not of use must go:
it dare not cumber the precious ground. Therefore, the few remaining
timbered fronts of London are gone or going; only recently some
picturesque old red-roofed houses, in the close vicinity of New Oxford
Street, were condemned and destroyed; Staple Inn, indeed, has been
saved and patched up, owing to the prompt action of a band of public
benefactors. Blocks of houses, forming whole streets, are continually
washed away in the tide of progress; Parliament Street has
disappeared; the old Hanway Street, as it once was, has lately gone;
Holywell Street is of the past; the demolition of this latter, though,
indeed, urgently needed for the widening of the "straits" of the
Strand, was not without its special sadness. The decay of houses that
are at once picturesque and historical is, of course, doubly
afflicting; yet even ugly houses often retain the charm of association
to those who know what memories are bound up with them. Here romance
and history serve to lend the beauty that is lacking. Thus, Ruskin's
prosaic home in Hunter Street, Thackeray's commonplace mansion in
Onslow Square; the house in Half Moon Street where Shelley sat "like a
young lady's lark," in a projecting window, "hanging outside for air
and song;" even that dark corner in Mecklenburgh Square where Sala
kept his curios and bric-à-brac, all have their peculiar charm. Dr.
Johnson's house in Gough Square, Fleet Street; the so-called "Old
Curiosity Shop" in Lincoln's Inn Fields; John Hunter's house in
Leicester Square--are all threatened with demolition. And, even apart
from historic interest, how sad is the frequent fall of London's old
landmarks! Tottering buildings, mere derelicts of time, old houses----

          "whose ancient casements stare,
  With sad, dim eyes, at the departing years."

Instinct as they are with the pathos of humanity, the sword of
Damocles hangs over them all.

If great men's houses, or the houses that great men have ever,
temporarily, lived in, could all be designated by some unobtrusive
memorial tablet, such, for instance, as the Carlyle bas relief at
Chelsea,--or even a plain inscription such as those recently placed on
John Ruskin's birthplace in Hunter Street, Reynolds's house in
Leicester Square, and Sir Isaac Newton's in St. Martin's Street,--what
an interest would it not lend to even "long and unlovely" London
streets! For the romance of houses is not divined by instinct; and
even the taste of a Morris or a Rossetti has not always left its mark
on their London abodes. That Dickens, Thackeray, John Leech, Darwin,
the Rossettis, William Morris, have all lived in and about Bloomsbury,
is not patent to the casual visitor. Does not even the plain
inscription, "Poeta Inglese, Shelly," (_sic_) lend an added glamour to
the Lung' Arno of Pisa?

The dividing line between history and fiction is not always very
strongly marked; and this leads us to consider yet another aspect of
the question. A curious literary interest sometimes attaches to
certain houses, an interest hardly less deep for being partly, or even
purely, fictitious. Among the many novelists who have made themselves
responsible for this, none, perhaps, have been more prominent than
Charles Dickens. Dickens, whose knowledge of London was, like his own
Sam Weller's, "extensive and peculiar," has invested certain houses,
certain localities, with an almost human sentiment and pathos.
Thackeray has also done much, yet not so much as his contemporary,
towards making London stones famous. The tenants of "historic houses"
in this sense--houses on whom these and other writers have conferred
immortality--are, of course, merely the "ghosts of ghosts," and yet,
how real, how persistent are they, with the majority of us! Harry
Warrington enjoying the May sun from his pleasant window in Bond
Street; old Colonel Newcome kneeling among the "Grey Friars" of the
Charterhouse; the pretty old house and garden in Church Street,
Kensington, where Miss Thackeray's charming heroine, Dolly, lived;
little David Copperfield at the waterside blacking warehouse; poor
weeping Nancy on the steps of Surrey Pier, by London Bridge; ragged Jo
at the grating of the squalid burying-ground: they and their sorrows
are more real, more vivid, to us than the actual sufferings of the boy
Chatterton, the "Titanic" agony of spoiled Byron, or the short glories
of Lady Jane Grey. And, indeed, when we call to mind the gay vision of
the "ladies of St. James's" taking the air, we think as much of such
personages as Thackeray's beautiful Beatrix, wayward and heartless,
and of her solemn cousin, Colonel Esmond,--as of Mrs. Pepys, in her
noted "tabby suit," or of my Lady Castlemaine herself, in all her
beauty, attended by her royal admirer.

Such are the "byways of fiction" in London! Next to Dickens, in
whose persuasive company we have wandered from Fact to Fiction, Dr.
Johnson is, perhaps, of all our great Londoners, the most prominent.
To him, indeed, the everlasting noise and bustle of the capital,
"the roaring of the loom of time," was ever dear. Sayings of his
about London have, in many cases, almost passed into household
words: "He who is tired of London is tired of existence"; "Sir, let
us take a walk into Fleet Street"; "I think the full tide of
existence is at Charing Cross." Dr. Johnson had a great admiration
for Fleet Street, which he thought finer than anything he knew. The
old doctor's well-known figure, so often painted, in the ancient
full-bottomed wig, and rusty clothes, yet, for us, haunts the shades
of the Strand, yet lingers near his old haunts, fumbling in the
displayed stores of the second-hand book shops. "The old philosopher
is still among us, in the brown coat and the metal buttons."
Johnson's London houses,--Gough Square, Bolt Court, Johnson's Court,
and many others; Johnson's favourite Fleet Street taverns, notably
the famous "Cheshire Cheese," with its well-known literary coterie;
these are almost too familiar to need description; they, and the
Johnsonian element they recall, are bound up intimately with
London's eighteenth-century history. There is scarcely any street
so little altered, since then, in its characteristics, as Fleet
Street. And if the Fleet Street of our own day, with its still
irregular houses, its occasional glimpses, down some alley, of the
shining river which it skirts, is picturesque,--what must it have
been in Johnson's day, when its shops yet displayed their gay
projecting signs? when "timbered fronts" and gables were the rule;
when the charming dress of the day, with its gay satins and ruffles,
knee breeches and buckles, was the mode? Though, for that matter,
the old doctor himself, the essential spirit of the Fleet Street of
the time, can hardly have been a fashionable figure:

     "It must be confessed," says Boswell, "that his ... morning
     dress was sufficiently uncouth. His brown suit of clothes
     looked very rusty; he had on a little old shrivelled,
     unpowdered wig, which was too small for his head; his shirt
     neck and the knees of his breeches were loose, his black
     worsted stockings ill drawn up, and he had a pair of
     unbuckled shoes by way of slippers."

Doctor Johnson was, indeed, a faithful Londoner. He lived in no less
than sixteen London houses (among them, several "Inns"), all situated
in and around Holborn and the Strand. Nearly all of these abodes have
now disappeared, or are unidentified; only the Gough Square house
still exists. It is picturesque, chiefly on account of its age; it
stands back out of Fleet Street, in a little court, and has been often
sketched. It is a corner house, numbered seventeen (marked by a
tablet), and remains, in externals at least, much as Johnson left it
140 years ago, though internally it is a network of dusty offices.
Johnson's Court (not named from him), where he also lived, is now
swallowed up in "Anderton's Hotel." In Gough Square the greater part
of the celebrated Dictionary was written; here Johnson's wife died,
and here he "had an upper room fitted up like a counting-house in
which he gave to the copyists their several tasks." It was, however,
in Bolt Court, his last house, that the curious army of pensioners
lived whom this strange old scholar-philanthropist collected round
him:

[Illustration: _Wych Street._]

     "His strange household of fretful and disappointed
     alms-people seems as well known as our own. At the head of
     these pensioners was the daughter of a Welsh doctor (a blind
     old lady named Williams), who had written some trivial
     poems; Mrs. Desmoulins, an old Staffordshire lady, her
     daughter, and a Miss Carmichael. The relationships of these
     fretful and quarrelsome old dames Dr. Johnson has himself
     sketched, in a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Thrale: 'Williams
     hates everybody; Levett hates Desmoulins, and does not love
     Williams; Desmoulins hates them both; Poll (Miss Carmichael)
     loves none of them."

These old waifs and strays were not, apparently, even always grateful.
But, in any case, the annoyance of "such a menagerie of singular
oddities" must have driven him more and more to his clubs, and
especially to his favourite haunt the "Cheshire Cheese." This ancient
tavern, still existing in its pristine simplicity in Wine Office
Court, "and," says Hare, "the most perfect old tavern in London," is
the classic retreat where Johnson and Goldsmith held their court;
Johnson in the window-seat, and Goldsmith on his right hand. To
American tourists, I gather, it is a specially sacred place of
pilgrimage. In that low, dark, sanded parlour of the "Cheshire
Cheese," you might easily imagine yourself in some rural retreat,
miles away from London, though so close in fact to the din and
civilisation of Fleet Street. Not only far from London, but far away
back in the eighteenth century. Can such things be, you wonder, in the
London of our day? You sit in Johnson's time-honoured seat, under his
brass-plate inscription, and his picture; darkened oak panelling lines
the walls; artistic Bohemians blow smoke-wreaths over their toasted
cheese and whiskies, hilariously in yonder corner; and even the
waiters are not of the uncommunicative, cut-and-dried modern sort, but
rather the cheery, jovial order of Dickens's time. One of them brings
you the "visitors' book"; two ponderous tomes filled with brilliant
sketches by well-known artists, some of the sketches amiably
suggestive of the sketchers having supped "not wisely, but too well";
another tells you, with all the pride of long association, that "the
place has not changed one whit since Johnson's time"; and yet a third,
with an expansiveness rare indeed in London, will point out to you
"Goldsmith's favourite window-seat."

Oliver Goldsmith, the erratic genius who "wrote like an angel, and
talked like poor Poll," was one of Johnson's satellites, another
shining light of old Fleet Street. He had the artistic temperament
indeed, for when he was not in the clutches of the bailiffs, he was
usually revelling in absurd extravagance. Goldsmith's last lodging, in
No. 2, Brick Court, Temple, he furnished with ridiculous lavishness,
dressing himself to match, in "Tyrian-bloom satin with gold buttons."
Dr. Johnson must sometimes have been tried by his friend, as the
following story shows: (Newbery, Goldsmith's publisher, had apparently
refused further advances to his impecunious client):

     "I received one morning" (Boswell represents Johnson to have
     said), "a message from poor Goldsmith, that he was in great
     distress, and, as it was not in his power to come to me,
     begging that I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent
     him a guinea and promised to come to him directly. I
     accordingly went as soon as I was dressed, and found that
     his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was
     in a violent passion. I perceived that he had already
     changed my guinea, and had got a bottle of Madeira and a
     glass before him. I put the cork into the bottle, desired he
     would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means by
     which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a
     novel ready for the press, which he produced to me. I looked
     into it and saw its merits, told the landlady I should soon
     return, and, having gone to a bookseller, sold it for £60. I
     brought Goldsmith the money, and he discharged his rent, not
     without rating his landlady in a high tone for having used
     him so ill."

The MS. was that of _The Vicar of Wakefield_, but the whole picture
really suggests a scene from Dickens's _Pickwick_. Oliver Goldsmith
acted at one time as "reader"--curious combination!--to prim old
Samuel Richardson, the printer-novelist, at the latter's
printing-office in the south west corner of Salisbury Square,
communicating with the court, No. 76, Fleet Street. Richardson, also,
had once befriended Johnson, and the worthy doctor was for ever
praising his friend, and abusing his compeer in fiction, Henry
Fielding, whom he called "a barren rascal."

     "Sir" (said Johnson), "there is more knowledge of the heart
     in one letter of Richardson's than in all _Tom Jones_." Some
     one present here remarked that Richardson was very tedious.
     "Why, Sir," replied Johnson, "if you were to read Richardson
     for the story, your impatience would be so great that you
     would hang yourself. But you must read him for the
     sentiment, and consider the story as only giving occasion to
     the sentiment."

But if Richardson is tedious, Johnson was nothing if not prejudiced;
though, after all, he has no less a person than Macaulay on his side;
Macaulay, who declared that were he to be wrecked on a desert island
with only one book, he would choose _Clarissa_, sentiment and all, for
his sole delectation.

Hogarth, the painter, it is said, once met Johnson at Richardson's
printing-office; when, seeing "a person standing in the room shaking
his head and rolling himself about in a ridiculous manner, he
concluded he was an idiot, whom his relations had put under the care
of Mr. Richardson as a very good man.... To his great surprise,
however, this figure stalked forward to where he was, and all at once
burst into an invective against George II.... Hogarth looked at him in
astonishment, and actually imagined that this idiot had been at the
moment inspired."

Richardson's own home was, however, at some distance from his Fleet
Street printing-office; as far, indeed, as North End, Fulham. His
house there, which still stands, is one of two named "The Grange";
that nearest the Hammersmith Road. Here, in his garden-house, the
novelist wrote his somewhat long-winded romances, indulged his amiable
vanity, and indited his letters, with their touches of playfully
elephantine wit, to "Lady Bradshaigh" and his other fair
correspondents.

It is this very house, "The Grange," old-fashioned, red-brick,
sedate, that, by another of Fate's curious ironies, was for
twenty-seven years the home and studio of Sir Edward Burne-Jones.
Strange contrast, indeed, between the prosy, fussy, precise old
painter-novelist, and the most ideal and imaginative of our modern
painters!

     "When the painter first settled here, the house stood in the
     midst of fields on the outskirts of London. Now, whole rows
     of new streets have sprung up on every side, the fields are
     built over, and omnibuses and district trains have their
     stations within a stone's throw. But the leafy trees and
     sheltered garden of the painter's house remain, a green
     oasis in the sandy waste. From the noise and dust of crowded
     thoroughfares we step into the quiet garden with its shady
     lawns and gay flower borders, its fine old mulberry-tree and
     rows of limes. Here snowdrops and crocuses blossom in the
     early spring, and later in the year, blue irises and white
     lilies, sunflowers and hollyhocks grow tall under the ivied
     wall. And here, at the end of the garden, among the flowers
     and leaves, is the studio where the master worked."

Here, then, in the historic "garden-house," where Richardson once
wrote, and received his friends Hogarth and Johnson, was Burne-Jones's
studio, where he imagined that

      "land of clear colours and stories
  In a region of shadowless hours,"

described by Swinburne the poet in the lovely dedication of his poems
to his friend and Master in another art, begging that they may find
place, "for the love of lost loves and lost times," in the painter's
created paradise; "Receive," he cries,

      "in your palace of painting
  This revel of rhymes."

It is a far cry from Fleet Street to Fulham, whither we have wandered
in company of Richardson and his friends, and we must retrace our
steps. All these sages and worthies of Fleet Street were, of course,
more or less connected with the great engine of the Press, then
comparatively in its childhood, but now, though grown to mighty
dimensions, occupying still the same sacred and classic ground. The
Jupiters of the Press have from the first wielded their sceptres in
Fleet Street and its immediate neighbourhood. And not only the
newspaper press, but all sorts of lampoons, political skits, libellous
pamphlets, and the like, had here their home in early days. Here that
meteoric and unstable wit, Theodore Hook, devoted his misapplied
genius to the editing of the then scurrilous journal _John Bull_, (a
paper whose _métier_ was the satirising of society); his favourite and
thoughtful axiom being "that there was always a concealed wound in
every family, and the point was to strike exactly at the source of
pain." The primary object of the paper, which was started in
"Johnson's Court" in 1820, was the slandering of the unfortunate Queen
Caroline, wife of George IV. The death of the Queen soon reforming the
_John Bull_, it altered to dulness, and declined in sale; its first
editor is, indeed, now mainly remembered by one of his early
escapades, the famous "Berners Street hoax." This was a wild practical
joke played on a harmless widow lady, living at 54, Berners Street.
Hook, it seems, had made a bet that "in one week that nice quiet
dwelling should be the most famous in all London;" and, the bet being
taken, he forthwith wrote many hundred letters to tradesmen, ordering
goods and visits of every kind, from coals to cranberry tarts, from
attorneys to popular preachers. The street became, of course,
absolutely blocked with traffic, Hook himself enjoying the "midday
melodrama" from an apartment he had himself hired in a house opposite.
Such wholesale destruction was the result that the _enfant terrible_,
being suspected, had to sham illness, until the affair had blown over.

Theodore Hook was a Londoner of the Londoners, with "a gigantic
intellect and no morals," added to the peculiar resourcefulness and
adaptability of the typical cockney. Nevertheless, even this
unprincipled buffoon and wit, petted by royalty and fashion, and left
to die, a drunken worn-out spendthrift at last--must, he, too, have
had his bad moments. There is a peculiar and haunting horror attaching
to the story (told in his _Life and Letters_), of how, when passing
by his birthplace in Charlotte Street, Bloomsbury, Hook pointed to a
spot nearly opposite the house where he was born, saying, "There by
that lamp-post stood Martha the Gypsy."

The Strand, still picturesque, narrow, and tortuous, is now nearly
entirely given up to shops, newspaper offices and theatres; but at No.
149 (once a lodging-house and now a newspaper office), the actress
Mrs. Siddons stayed when she first came up to London, and here she
supped joyfully with her father and husband, to celebrate her first
London success. Less changed is the historic Temple, where that
constant Londoner, Charles Lamb, lived so long, and of which he has
left us such lovely descriptions. Indeed, Charles Lamb is one of those
Londoners of whom, like Dickens, Milton, and Johnson, it is difficult
to say where they have _not_ lived in the great metropolis. Milton,
perhaps, is, however, an extreme case: for he not only lived in a
score of different residences, but further puzzles the conscientious
topographer by being married in three different churches and buried
piecemeal; having been also disinterred at various times, and his
remains scattered,--a thing manifestly unfair to the future historian.

Ruskin, also, the latter-day apostle and critic, has been very
catholic in his London dwellings. Born in humble Hunter Street,
Bloomsbury, he migrated later with his parents to Herne Hill and
Denmark Hill, with a short interlude of married life in Park Street.
The Denmark Hill house, so far from the centre of things as to be
almost suburban, is yet a goal of pilgrimage to Ruskin's faithful
disciples. Denmark Hill, now so overbuilt, so lined and scored with
railways, was, some sixty years ago, still a very desirable
residential region. Does not Thackeray locate his Misses Dobbin,
Amelia's Major's sisters, there?--in that fine villa, too, with
"beautiful graperies and peach-trees," which delighted little Georgy
Osborne. The smaller house on Herne Hill, where little John Ruskin
spent his boyhood, is at the present day unattractive enough; but the
Denmark Hill villa near by, taken later when the family launched out,
has still its charm. It, too, is a "fine villa," or rather country
mansion, not unlike the description of the Misses Dobbin's abode, and,
like it, full of peach-trees that, growing on old walls, still bear
abundantly. Readers of _Præterita_ will remember how, when Mr. Ruskin
became "of age, and B.A., and so on," his father and mother decided on
moving that short way to the larger house; and how "everybody said how
wise and proper"; and how "the view from the breakfast-room into the
field was really very lovely"; and how the family lived for some
quarter of a century here in much "stateliness of civic domicile."

     "The house itself" (says Mr. Ruskin) "had every good in it,
     except nearness to a stream, that could with any reason be
     coveted by modest mortals. It stood in command of seven
     acres of healthy ground ... half of it in meadow sloping to
     the sunrise, the rest prudently and pleasantly divided into
     an upper and lower kitchen garden; a fruitful bit of
     orchard, and chance inlets and outlets of woodwalk, opening
     to the sunny path by the field, which was gladdened on its
     other side in springtime by flushes of almond and double
     peach blossom. Scarce all the hyacinths and heath of
     Brantwood redeem the loss of these to me; and when the
     summer winds have wrecked the wreaths of our wild roses, I
     am apt to think sorrowfully of the trailings and climbings
     of deep purple convolvulus which bloomed full every autumn
     morning round the trunks of the apple trees in the kitchen
     garden."

That hedge of almond blossom is still gay in spring, and the "shabby
tide of progress" has not touched the old house, which, garden, field,
orchard and all, is still virtually the same as it was in Ruskin's
time. No. 163, Denmark Hill, is its designation;--a big, roomy,
detached mansion, a real "rus in urbe." Much like other large suburban
villas, the house itself; yet this is the spot whence emanated _Modern
Painters_, that early work of genius that assured the young writer's
fame. There is the "study" that Mr. Ruskin used, his "workroom above
the breakfast-room"; there, above it again, is his bedroom, looking
straight south-east, giving "command of the morning clouds,
inestimable for its aid in all healthy thought." There, still, is the
little reservoir made by Mr. Ruskin in engineering zeal, a canal said
by the neighbours to have cost £5 every time he had it filled, in vain
attempt to make a little rivulet, or Alpine sluice, for watering! For,
although "of age and a B.A.," the chief reason, as Mr. Ruskin
ingenuously confesses, why his soul yearned for the Denmark Hill
house, was, that "ever since I could drive a spade, I had wanted to
dig a canal, and make locks on it, like Harry in "Harry and Lucy." And
in the field at the back of the Denmark Hill house I saw my way to a
canal with any number of locks down to Dulwich." ... "But," he adds
sorrowfully, "I never got my canal dug, after all! The gardeners
wanted all the water for the greenhouse. I resigned myself ... yet the
bewitching idea never went out of my head, and some waterworks were
verily set aflowing twenty years afterwards."

Yet, be the actual bricks and mortar never so prosaic, there is a
strange fascination about the dwellings where great men have lived and
died. Benjamin Disraeli was born, like Ruskin, in the shades of
Bloomsbury, and, again like him, migrated, later, to Mayfair on his
marriage. The late Lord Beaconsfield remained, however, always
faithful to the West End. In his Park Lane house (No. 29) he lived
over thirty years; removing then to No. 2, Whitehall Gardens, and
finally dying, after a short tenancy, at 19, Curzon Street. It was a
cold and inclement spring, a blast of Kingsley's much belauded
"north-easter," to which he succumbed. That unassuming house in Curzon
Street was, for the moment, the world's centre. "It was half-past six
in the morning that the final bulletin of the dying statesman's
condition was placed on the railings to inform the crowd who, even at
that early hour, waited for intelligence."

Mr. Gladstone, too, has had as many London houses as his great rival,
with perhaps, stormier residences in them. There is the house, for
instance, in Harley Street, where the mob smashed the great man's
windows at the time of his unpopularity over the Eastern question.
And No. 10, Carlton House Terrace, is the mansion where he lived for
so many years at the zenith of his fame. Is his spirit, I wonder,
clean vanished, forgotten there, and does no record of him remain?
Perhaps the militant spirits of Disraeli and Gladstone still linger,
if anywhere, about Downing Street; that narrow street of which Carlyle
says that "it is evident to all men that the interests of one hundred
and fifty millions of us depend on the mysterious industry there
carried on"; and where No. 10, that dingy old house which has been the
temporary home of successive Prime Ministers, as well as the official
head-quarters of the Government, "focuses more historic glamour than
any other house in London." Hook said wittily of Downing Street:

     "There is a fascination in the air of this little
     _cul-de-sac_; an hour's inhalation of its atmosphere affects
     some men with giddiness, others with blindness, and very
     frequently with the most oblivious boastfulness."

Lord Rosebery used 10, Downing Street, for official purposes; Lord
Salisbury did not use it at all. Many historic scenes have been
enacted, and many momentous questions settled, within its walls. It
was in its entrance hall, trodden by the feet of successive
generations of politicians, that Wellington and Nelson met for the
only time in their lives, both waiting to see the Minister, and
neither knowing who the other was. They naturally entered into
conversation, but it was not until afterwards that they knew to whom
they had been speaking. The house itself is solid and substantial,
without any architectural attractiveness, and to the casual observer
suggests nothing different from thousands of other London dwellings.
From the outside, no one would imagine it to be commodious, but it has
some very large apartments; and the old council chamber, the principal
features of which are the book-lined walls, massive pillars, and
heavy, solid furniture, remains much as it was in Walpole's day. Here
many conferences of Ministers have been held, and the most delicate
affairs of State settled. The Cabinet Councils have, however, not
always been held here. Mr. Gladstone preferred to hold them in his own
more cosy room on the floor above; and Lord Salisbury preferred to
hold them at the Foreign Office. Next door is the official residence
of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The entrance to the Foreign Office
and the Colonial Office is opposite. Which of these great buildings,
with their numerous passages and annexes and waiting-rooms, is the
original of Dickens's "Circumlocution Office," it would be invidious
even to attempt to discover.

Nowhere is the curious unexpectedness of London houses better
exemplified than in the building known as Sir John Soane's Museum, on
the north side of the square called Lincoln's Inn Fields. Here to all
seeming, stands an ordinary dwelling-house;--its front, it is true,
somewhat of the ornate kind,--but utterly misleading, so far as its
outer appearance is concerned, to the passer-by. Nor does the illusion
stop at the hall-door. For there is here an air of homely
friendliness, of quiet welcome, that is altogether at variance with
any preconceived ideas that the visitor may have formed about museums
in general. Several dignified family servants of irreproachable
demeanour lie in wait for the stranger and kindly escort him round. It
is not till you have passed the Rubicon of the double dining-room, yet
arranged exactly as in the lifetime of the founder, that you begin to
realise that you are in a museum, not in a private mansion. And the
realisation is even then difficult, for the family butlers have a
familiar way of alluding to "Sir John," the donor, as though he were
alive and in the next room, thus:

"Sir John gave £140 for these Hogarths," says the Chief Butler,
indicating the well-known _Rake_ series, and speaking with a degree of
intimacy of "Sir John" that positively startled me, till I remembered
that the gentleman in question died some sixty years ago.

"Oh, er, very Hogarthian!" I remark somewhat bashfully, for indeed
the pictures are hardly all of them pleasing to the uninitiated. "I
wonder that Sir John could like to live with them!"

"Yes, indeed! some of them _are_ very gross," says the Mentor; and I
almost wish that I had held my peace.

The panels of the mysterious room that contains the Hogarths afford a
wonderful example of how to hang many pictures in a limited space.
They open at the touch of a spring, disclosing not only inner walls of
pictures, but also their own inner sides similarly adorned. Through
the walls thus magically opened a glimpse is obtained of a little
basement room called "The Monk's Parloir," adorned with carving and
statuary. Sir John Soane was, of course, the architect of the existing
Bank of England, and interesting architectural drawings, beside
innumerable imaginary palaces by him, abound in the museum. The chief
treasure of the collection, the hieroglyphic-covered alabaster
sarcophagus of Seti I., father of the great Rameses, lies in the
basement; which is, indeed, entirely filled with works of "antiquity
and virtue"; the "backs" and basements of three adjoining houses being
utilised for the required space. To judge from the wide variety among
the objects collected, Sir John Soane must have been a man of
cosmopolitan tastes, and possessed of an interesting personality.
Perhaps he found some comfort in art for the tragedies of his later
life; for his two sons (whose quaint portraits, in youthful blue and
silver, are to be seen in the museum) died in his lifetime. At any
rate, that Sir John was a man of some humour seems to be sufficiently
attested by the curious _post-mortem_ joke that he perpetrated on his
trustees! For, when leaving his treasures to the nation, and
specifying especially that the house was to be left precisely as he
had lived in it, he appended to his will three codicils, directing
that three mysterious sealed cupboards in his museum-house should not
be opened till respectively thirty, fifty, and sixty years after his
death! This was accordingly done, expectation rising higher in each
decade; and lo! on each occasion nothing was found but a few worthless
papers, relating either to antiquated accounts, or to still more
antiquated family disagreements!

There is, at the present time, despite the encroachments of a modern
and generally iconoclastic London, now a wholesome spirit of
veneration abroad, which tends not only towards the preservation of
ancient and historical buildings, but also towards the acquisition of
the homes that have been lived in and made beautiful by the celebrated
men of our own day. Of this kind is "Leighton House," bought since
Lord Leighton's death by the effort of a private committee, and now
opened free to the nation. The rooms and internal arrangement are, as
in the case of the "Carlyle House," left as nearly as possible in
their original condition, and though of necessity much of the valuable
furniture and accessories have been removed, yet the many sketches and
drawings illustrative of the painter's life-work that fill the walls
do something to dispel the unavoidable sense of incompleteness. It is
interesting to wander through the beautifully-proportioned rooms, to
gaze into the well-tended, sun-lit garden, with its gay geranium beds
and its green lawn; to sit in the mysterious semi-darkness of the
"Arab Hall," and look up into its gold-encrusted dome; to listen to
the mournful splash of the tiny fountain in its marble basin;--and
yet, "wanting is--what?"

  "When the lamp is shattered
   The light in the dust lies dead."

It will always be a question how far the mere dwelling of a great
painter is worth thus preserving in its integrity, when once the magic
of his presence, his genius, has deserted it, and the growing work of
his art no longer adorns its walls. The committee of the "Leighton
House" have done their work with judgment and care, and, if the
inevitable comparison occurs to those who saw it in the life time or
during the "show days" of its late master, of former life and
splendour with present gloom and sadness, this is only in the nature
of things. The blue tiles that the painter loved still adorn, in
bird-of-paradise like splendour, the wide, massive staircase; the
water still tinkles in the Pompeian atrium as of old; and the master's
art can still be studied in the many drawings and reproductions that
fill, so far as they can, the places left by greater works.

Hertford House, in Manchester Square, the sumptuous home of the
Wallace collection, bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace in 1898,
is the most important of the nation's artistic legacies. Though in a
sense historic--for it is the "Gaunt House" of _Vanity Fair_, and its
former owner, Lord Hertford, was caricatured as the Marquis of
Steyne;--yet, as it is mainly as a picture gallery that it must be
noticed, it has fallen most conveniently into a previous chapter.

But the historical houses of London are innumerable, and my space is
but limited. History is written in many kinds. And the greater portion
of the fine houses of the metropolis, the palaces of Mayfair, Pall
Mall, Kensington, possess historic interest of their own; interest,
indeed, often unknown and unsuspected by any but the privileged few,
because unvisited and generally inaccessible. Of these are
Chesterfield House, in South Audley Street, the home of the author of
the famous _Letters_, where the poor scholar Johnson waited patiently
for interviews with his noble patron; Apsley House,--the pillared
façade of which is so well known to travellers on the humble omnibus
as it passes Hyde Park Corner,--the abode of the "Iron Duke," that old
man in the blue coat and white trousers, to the last the people's
idol, whose daily appearances, in old age, were here awaited patiently
by expectant crowds; Lansdowne House, Devonshire House, Sutherland
House, Bridgewater House, splendid mansions on or near the "Green
Park," famed, like so many others, for their picture galleries;
Sutherland House, often now hospitably thrown open for gatherings of
"the people," is said to be the finest private mansion in London: "I
have come," a Queen is reported to have said to a former Duchess of
Sutherland, "from my house to your palace."

Many of the splendid old mansions of Stuart times have, indeed, gone;
yet in some instances they have risen again from their ashes to new
spheres of interest. Thus, old Montague House in Bloomsbury, old
Burlington House in Piccadilly, old Somerset House in the Strand, have
been rebuilt and utilised by Government as National Collections or
offices. Where lovely ladies of the Restoration trailed their sheeny
silks in Lely-like voluptuousness, where court gallants presented
odes, and court dandies took snuff and patronage, now sweet girl
graduates pace the galleries, spectacled lady-students copy "old
masters," Academy pupils study "the antique." The contrast is
picturesque as well as strange. Does one not sometimes, as twilight
falls, seem to hear the ghostly "swish" of the court beauties' dresses
along a deserted British Museum Gallery, or seem to see in a stone
Venus, with uplifted arm, an insufficiently clad fair lady of the
olden time? It is but fancy, yet such is the charm of history and of
historic association.

Ghosts of our own fancy may, and do, wander at their will in London's
misty galleries; but ghosts, better authenticated, are popularly
supposed to haunt a few of London's old houses. Thus, No. 50, in
Berkeley Square has gained undesirable notoriety as the "Haunted
House," and many extraordinary tales have from time to time been told
as to its ghostly manifestations. Berkeley Square has, undeniably, a
solid and old-time look that fits in well with the gloomy tradition;
it has the best and most ancient plane-trees of any London square, and
its fine old iron-work, with occasional torch-extinguishers (used by
the "link-boys" of sedan chairs in Stuart times), are all in keeping
with the old-world spirit. Nevertheless, Berkeley Square has other and
sadder associations than those of mere ghosts. For in No. 45,--a house
specially noted for its iron-adornments,--the great Lord Clive,
founder of the British Empire in India, committed suicide in 1774. "In
the awful close," says Macaulay, "of so much prosperity and glory,"
some men only saw the horrors of an evil conscience; but Clive from
early youth had been subject to "fits of strange melancholy," while
now his strong mind was sinking under physical suffering, and he took
opium for a distressing complaint.

In Berkeley Square (No. 38) is the town house of Lord Rosebery, once
the residence of Lady Jersey, and the place whence her mother,--the
daughter of Child, the banker,--eloped to marry the Earl of
Westmorland, in 1782.

It were, however, an invidious, as well as an impossible task, to name
all London's historic houses. What street in London is, indeed, not
"historic" in a sense? Houses may be pulled down, but even thus their
locality knows them still. Is not even Turner the painter's squalid,
dirty house in Queen Anne Street, now razed, yet recalled to the
passer-by, by the tablet affixed to the houses that have since sprung
up on its site? "Unlovely" Wimpole Street is sacred to the shade of
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, that "small, pale person, scarcely
embodied at all." It was from this house, No. 50, that she wrote her
impassioned love-letters, and, after years of chronic invalidism, ran
away, secretly and romantically, to marry a brother-poet. The
picturesque chambers known as "the Albany,"--a byway out of
Piccadilly,--recall Lord Macaulay, Lord Byron, Lord Lytton. Curzon
Street suggests the famous parties, in the early nineteenth century,
of the sisters Mary and Agnes Berry, the friends of Horace Walpole. In
Soho,--a district famous in old days for an artistic, and
semi-Bohemian fraternity, whose houses emulated Turner's in
dirt,--lived the painters Northcote, Mulready, Fuseli, Stothard,--and
Flaxman the sculptor. At 28, Poland Street, lived William Blake, the
poet-painter, the half-crazy, but wholly charming, seer and mystic;
here he wrote his _Songs of Experience_ and of _Innocence_, and drew
his _Visionary Portraits_. (The story of Blake and his wife, "reciting
passages from _Paradise Lost_, and enacting Adam and Eve, in
character," belongs, however, not to dingy gardenless Poland Street,
but to Hercules Buildings, then a modest Lambeth suburb). In Poland
Street, in 1811, lived also Shelley in early youth, with his friend
and biographer Hogg; the latter being attracted, says Shelley, by the
name of the street, "because it reminded him of Thaddeus of Warsaw and
freedom":

     "A paper (says Hogg) in the window of No. 15 announced
     lodgings.... 'We must lodge there, should we sleep even on
     the step of a door.' ... Shelley took some objection to the
     exterior of the house, but we went in.... There was a back
     sitting-room on the first floor, somewhat dark but quiet,
     yet quietness was not the prime attraction. The walls of the
     room had lately been covered with trellised paper.... This
     was delightful. He went close to the wall and touched it.
     'We must stay here; stay for ever.' Shelley had the bedroom
     opening out of the sitting room, and this also was
     overspread with the trellised paper."

But every part of London has its historic interest--is, in a sense, a
city peopled by the dead. "Where'er you tread is haunted, holy
ground." That spot, in that quiet, narrow street,--Mayfair,
Bloomsbury, Soho or Westminster,--where you chance to live, and toil,
and suffer, and enjoy,--has known many others in its time,--others
before you: men in stocks, and wigs, and laced ruffles, and
knee-breeches; women in brocades, ruffs, and farthingales; children in
long stiff skirts and prim stomachers: who, in their turn, likewise
lived, and toiled, and enjoyed, and suffered.... Is it not this
romance of London, this mysterious past life of hers, guessed and
unguessed, that makes us welcome, and recognise as real friends, the
types of a Thackeray, a Dickens? See, for instance, how a mere
allusion to Thackeray puppets serves to immortalise with a touch, the
prosaic, if fashionable, Clarges and Bond Streets: Clarges Street,
"where Beatrix Bernstein held her card parties, her Wednesday and
Sunday evenings, save during the short season when Ranelagh was open
on a Sunday, where the desolate old woman sat alone, waiting
hopelessly for the scapegrace nephew that her battered old heart had
learned to love."

     "Here, Baroness Bernstein takes her chocolate behind the
     drawn curtains; she is the Beatrix Esmond of brighter days
     and fortunes.... There are the windows of Harry
     Warrington's lodgings in Bond Street, 'at the court end of
     the town;' geraniums and lobelias flourish in them to this
     day, and no doubt they are let to some sprig of fashion; but
     to me they are Harry's rooms, hired from Mr. Ruff, the
     milliner's husband; and the 'Archie' or 'Bertie' in
     possession to-day is a mere interloper, whom Gumbo would
     have politely shown downstairs."--(_Byways of Fiction in
     London._)

Not less has Dickens done with the lower life of the Great City. And
has not Miss Thackeray (Mrs. Ritchie), with a touch of her father's
picturesque and vivid genius, glorified that "Old Court Suburb," Old
Kensington, in her well-known novel of that name? Here, in Kensington,
at No. 2, Palace Green, then considerably more countrified than now,
Thackeray died in 1863. Here, too, is the red brick Kensington Palace,
built by William and Mary in what Leigh Hunt called "Dutch solidity,"
famous as Queen Victoria's birth-place, and also more sadly
reminiscent of poor Caroline of Brunswick, the ill-fated and cruelly
used wife of George IV.

Holland House is one of the most interesting and historically
important buildings in Kensington. It stands near Campden Hill, in
beautiful and spacious gardens, the same gardens where the youthful
George III. used to flirt with the lovely Sarah Lennox; the lady
dressed as a shepherdess, playing at haymaking while the King rode by:
a youthful and a pleasant idyll, in contrast with the lady's very
chequered after life! Holland House, says Mr. Hare, "surpasses all
other houses in beauty, rising at the end of the green slope, with its
richly-sculptured terrace, and its cedars, and its vases of brilliant
flowers." The house was originally built in 1607, though its
characteristic wings and arcades were all added later by the first
Earl of Holland, the same who was beheaded in the Royalist wars. After
his execution Holland House was confiscated by the Parliamentary
generals; being, however, restored in 1665 to the disconsolate widow,
who comforted herself by indulging privately here in the theatricals
so strictly forbidden by the Puritan Government. Early in the
eighteenth century Holland House became associated with Addison (of
_Spectator_ fame); he lived here for some three years after his
ambitious marriage with Charlotte, Countess of Warwick, a marriage
which, despite its splendour, report says was not happy for the
bridegroom. According to Dr. Johnson, it was more or less "on terms
like those on which a Turkish princess is espoused, to whom the Sultan
is reported to pronounce, 'Daughter, I give thee this man for thy
slave.'" But the chief interest of Holland House lies in its having
been for so many years the centre of a great literary and political
_coterie_, and the resort of Whig orators and politicians. In the
lifetime of the third Lord Holland, who died in 1840, the house was at
the height of its splendour as a world-renowned intellectual centre.
Holland House still exists in its integrity, though Macaulay long ago
prophesied mournfully that

     "The wonderful city may soon displace those turrets and
     gardens which are associated with so much that is
     interesting and noble--with the courtly magnificence of
     Rich, with the loves of Ormond, with the councils of
     Cromwell, with the death of Addison."

"The gardens of Holland House" (says Mr. Hare) "are unlike anything
else in England. Every turn is a picture.... A raised terrace, like
some of those which belong to old Genoese palaces, leads from the
house high amongst the branches of the trees to the end of the flower
garden.... Facing a miniature Dutch garden here is "Rogers' Seat,"
inscribed:

  "Here Rogers sat, and here for ever dwell
   With me those pleasures that he sings so well."

Lord Macaulay's last residence was, as I have said, "Holly Lodge." In
this secluded villa, high walled-in from the outer world, were the two
requisites for an author's ideal of happiness, a library and a garden.
The house bears a memorial tablet. Here the great writer died while
quietly seated in his library chair, his book open beside him; a
peaceful close of a busy life.

I have named a few of our great Londoners; yet they, indeed, are but
few among the vast galaxy of the bright particular stars who, even in
our day, still enlighten with their spirit their former dwellings and
surroundings. It is their human interest that so transfigures London
stones; it is the mighty dead of England, the "choir invisible,"

  "of those immortal dead who live again
   In minds made better by their presence: live....
   To make undying music in the world"--

that lend to their city such enchantment. Surely something of this
feeling,--of this enchantment--is ours when we think of the long roll
of great spirits who illumined the archives of the past. There is a
magic, a glamour, in London streets, that affects the strongest heads
and hearts. All honour to them--to poor human nature,--that it is so.
Not only, let us hope, to the mad poet-painter Blake was it given to
"meet the Apostle Paul in Piccadilly." We, too, may, if we will, walk
with Milton in Cripplegate, may share Byron's Titanic gloom in the
quaint Albany precincts, may wander with Charles Lamb in those Temple
Gardens that he so loved, and may listen with him and Dickens to the
pleasant tinkle of the rippling water in secluded Fountain Court. We
inherit these associations, and we may--inestimable privilege--see our
London, our "towne of townes, patrone and not compare," through the
eyes of all the great men who loved her in the past.

  "The dull brick houses of the square,
   The bustle of the thoroughfare,
   The sounds, the sights, the crush of men,
   Are present, but forgotten then.

  "With such companions at my side
   I float on London's human tide;
   An atom on its billows thrown,
   But lonely never, nor alone."



[Illustration: _Cricket in the Parks._]

CHAPTER XVI

RUS IN URBE

  "It is my delight to be
   Both in town and in countree."--_Old Couplet._

  "If one must have a villa in summer to dwell,
   Oh, give me the sweet shady side of Pall Mall."--_Charles Morris._


Oh, London! beautiful London! who would not be with thee in May? Paris
should not, surely, be recommended as the only Mecca of that lovely
month. When the London street authorities, with unwonted forbearance,
have for one brief moment suspended their incessant repairing of the
busiest thoroughfares; when the hanging gardens of Park Lane, and the
window-boxes of Seven Dials, alike display their "pavilions of tender
green"; when Piccadilly is blocked with traffic; when Rotten Row is
thronged with the smart world; when the shops hang out their
daintiest spring fashions; when the gay parterres of the Parks show
flowers of kaleidoscopic brilliance, and their sylvan seclusions
suggest the "real country," what can be more delightful than our own
often-maligned metropolis?

The Parks of London are, perhaps, the element that most surprises the
foreigner unused to English tastes and ways. Here are neither the
leafy terraces and regular alleys of German capitals, nor the trim
well-clipped boscages and levels of Versailles and the Tuileries; but
only mere stretches of park-like greensward, dotted here and there, in
charming irregularity, with old trees of noble girth. Walks there are,
indeed, and footpaths, shrubberies, and flower-beds; but the chief
area of the London Parks is, ever and always, this fresh, radiant,
undulating turf, turf which here, more than ever, suggests the little
Board School girl's answer to a question on general knowledge: "Turf,
ma'am, is grass and clean dirt put together by God."

Of Hyde Park, the largest and oldest of the London Parks, Disraeli
said truly in one of his novels: "Hyde Park has still about it
something of Arcadia. There are woods and waters, and the occasional
illusion of an illimitable distance of sylvan joyance." The history of
Hyde Park is the history, generally, of Greater London; first
monastery grounds, then royal demesne, then again, the people's. Some
of the old trees may even have seen the ancient manor of Hyde; some of
them must certainly recall the time when this was a royal Tudor
hunting-ground, well-stocked with deer. Many of its fine old
timber-trees have, however, disappeared, so that the famous "Ring" of
Charles II.'s time can be now but imperfectly traced.

The Parks are, naturally, "the lungs of London." Were it not for these
large "open spaces," so mercifully preserved to us by the wisdom and
farsightedness of former rulers and legislators, the health of the
great city would hardly now be what it is. The little town of the
early centuries, Roman, Saxon, or Norman, surrounded by country woods
and pastures,--dotted with the gardens of merchants and magnates, as
well as with frequent convent closes, orchards, and leafy
precincts,--had small need of such vast pleasure-grounds. For London,
even in Elizabeth's day, consisted (as shown in Aggas's map), of only
two tiny townlets, "London" and "Westminster"; beyond, all was open
fields. Tottenham Court Road, that dreary thoroughfare of ugly
modernity, was the solitary manor of "Toten Court," a sylvan resort
for "cakes and creame": Chelsea was a pretty, distant riverside
hamlet; Regent Street and Bond Street were cows' pastures, and the
"flowery fields" of "Marybone" were altogether in the rural distances.
Who, indeed, would recognise the present Regent's Park in these lines
(from an old play called "Tottenham Court"):

  "What a dainty life the milkmaid leads,
   When o'er these flowery meads
   She dabbles in dew,
   And sings to her cow,
   And feels not the pain
   Of love or disdain...."

But if, to the London of old time, the Parks were not necessary, to
modern London, which has more than doubled its population and its area
in the last century and a half, they are an unspeakable boon. Our
forefathers were wise in their generation when they secured these
stretches of the outlying country for public use. We, too, in our own
day, make similar efforts, efforts of which the recent preservation of
Parliament Fields, of part of Caen Wood, affords sufficient proof. In
that far-off day, prophesied by "Mother Shipton," when "Primrose Hill
shall be the centre of London," such breathing spaces, such oases in
the wilderness of bricks and mortar, would prove of quite incalculable
value.

Happily, London, even in her rampant growth, is often jealously
mindful of her responsibilities. Though our city boasts no such
spacious boulevards as are to be seen in Paris, trees are often now
planted at intervals on the sidewalks in many of the newest
thoroughfares, and a few of the older streets are being widened and
improved. Very few are the London views, as I have said elsewhere,
that are not in a measure enlivened by foliage or greenery.

The colouring of London is a thing peculiar to itself; it requires to
be specially studied, even by painters whose eyes are trained to
observation. Its wonderful atmospheric effects have been only more or
less recently recognised by them. Very few artists have rendered
thoroughly the strange cold light on the London streets; cold, yet
suffused by an underlying glow, by a warmth of colour hardly at first
guessed by the spectator. Even a rainy day of London greyness--what
does the poet's eye see in it?

  "Rain in the measureless street,
   Vistas of orange and blue....
   Blue of wet road, of wet sky,
   (Grey in the depths and the heights),
   Orange of numberless lights,
   Shapes fleeting on, going by...."

The cold pearly greyness of winter, the blue mist of spring, the
silvery haze of summer, the orange sunsets of autumn, when the dim sun
sinks in the fog like a gigantic red fireball, all, in turn, have
their charm. The artist's fault is that he nearly always paints London
scenes too cold, too joyless. Mr. Herbert Marshall, the water-colour
painter, to whom we are indebted for so many charming impressions of
the London streets, leans, if anything, somewhat to the other side,
and hardly allows for the æsthetic value of smoke. Painting, in
London, is always a difficulty; but Mr. Marshall, it is said, used to
station himself and his paraphernalia securely inside some
road-mending enclosure, and thus pursue his calling undeterred by the
persecution of the idle.

[Illustration: _Rotten Row._]

The faint blue-grey mist of the great city often gives to London
scenes something of the quality of dissolving views. Seldom is a
vista perfectly clear; rather does it often suggest a vague intensity
of misty glory. Does not that lovely glimpse of the Whitehall palaces
from St. James's Park, seen, on fine days in summer, from the little
bridge over the "ornamental water," gain an added charm from distance?
Do not the more or less prosaic Government buildings appear to be the

  "cloud-capt towers and gorgeous palaces"

of some dream of Oriental splendour? In such guise, one might imagine,
would the deceiving visions of a "Fata Morgana,"--a fairy palace,
shaded by just such branching, feathery trees,--appear to the
thirsting traveller over the desert sands.

Even M. Max O'Rell, who allows himself to scoff at most things
English, has a word of admiration for the peculiar misty beauty of the
London parks.

     "Nothing" (he says) "is more imposing than the exuberant
     beauty of the parks. Take a walk across them in the early
     morning when there is no one stirring, and the nightingale
     is singing high up in some gigantic tree; it is one of the
     rare pleasures that you will find within your reach in
     London. If the morning be fine, you will not fail to be
     struck with a lovely pearl-grey haze, soft and subdued, that
     I never saw in such perfection as in the London parks."

The parks of London, like its districts, all have their special
attributes, their special place in the social plane. Thus, Hyde Park
is aristocratic, and in the season, its penny chairs, from Hyde Park
Corner to the Albert Gate, are thronged with the smart world.
Beautiful women, distinguished men, and gilded youths may be seen
riding--the best riders and the finest horses in the world--along
Rotten Row at the fashionable morning hour; and, in the afternoon, the
whole of "Society" appears to take its afternoon drive round the magic
"Ring" or circle of the Park, enjoying seeing and being seen. Three
times round the Ring is a common afternoon allowance; exercise,
surely, that habit must render, in time, not unlike a treadmill. In
Hyde Park, too, takes place the yearly meet of the "Four-in-Hand"
Club, extensively patronised by rank and royalty; on which the popular
sentiment is delightfully echoed by the refrain of the cockney song of
_The Runaway Girl_,

  "I'd have four horses with great long tails,
   If my papa were the Prince of Wales!"

Here in the Park, on Sundays, takes place the famous "Church Parade,"
so paragraphed in the society papers; here, also, are often ratified
on May mornings, the season's matrimonial engagements; and here fond
mothers with pretty daughters keep a watchful outlook for
"detrimentals."

[Illustration: _Rotten Row._]

"The Ring," in Stuart times, was the scene of frequent duels, the most
noted of which was that between Lord Mohun and the Duke of Hamilton
(made use of in Thackeray's _Esmond_), in 1712, when both combatants
were killed. And one of the saddest modern associations of this
circular drive is connected with Mrs. Carlyle's death here on April
21, 1866. The poor lady, to whom a brougham and an afternoon drive
were luxuries of her later and invalid years, died quietly and
silently in her carriage from heart failure caused by shock at a
trivial accident to her small dog, which she had put out to run at
Victoria Gate, near the Marble Arch; the coachman, knowing nothing of
the fatality, driving on for some time before discovering the sad
truth.

The Tyburnia end of Hyde Park is that most frequented by the populace.
If the smart world monopolises the vicinity of Hyde Park Corner, the
green spaces fringing the Bayswater Road, and near the Marble Arch,
are generally appropriated by tired workmen and idle loafers, who lie
about on the grass, in enviable bliss, on hot days in summer, looking
like nothing so much as an army of soldiers mown down by a Maxim gun,
and contentedly appreciating the fact that here in London, for once,
they have found free and undisputed possession--a place where:

  "no price is set on the lavish summer,
   June may be had by the poorest comer."

In the space opposite the Marble Arch is the so-called "Reformers'
Tree," where political meetings sometimes take place on Sundays, and
where preachers, lecturers, and "cranks" of every possible
denomination, hold their respective courts. Visitors to London should
make a point of witnessing this curious and well-known phase of London
life; the outcome, M. Taine seems to suggest, of the latent
seriousness of the British mind; "an intense conviction, which for
lack of an outlet, would degenerate into madness, melancholy, or
sedition." Mr. Anstey in the pages of _Punch_, has, in his own
inimitable way, described these scenes, which are familiar to the
readers of "Voces Populi."

[Illustration: _The Serpentine, Hyde Park._]

The "Serpentine," a large sheet of water mainly artificial,
certainly cannot be said to "serpent," for it has but a very slight
bend. Originating, however, at a period when all garden walks and
ponds were of painful Dutch regularity, it owes its name to this
trifling deviation. This prettily devised and wooded piece of water is
due mainly to Queen Caroline, wife to George II., an energetic lady
with gardening tastes. Very charming is the view to be obtained from
the five-arched stone bridge over the Serpentine, "a view," says Mr.
Henry James, "of extraordinary nobleness." Yet the Serpentine, too,
has its tragic associations. Perhaps it suggests, in its beauty, the
haunting lines:

  "When Life hangs heavy, Death remains the door
   To endless rest beside the Stygian shore."

Always a noted spot for suicides, it was the place chosen by Harriet
Westbrook, the unfortunate first wife of Shelley, for the ending of
the many troubles of her short life; "a rash act," says Professor
Dowden with praiseworthy partisanship, which it "seems certain that no
act of Shelley's, during the two years which immediately preceded her
death, tended to cause." "Shelley," comments Matthew Arnold drily,
"had been living with another woman all the time; only that!"

The charm of Kensington Gardens--detached from Hyde Park in later
times--is, perhaps, its greater seclusion and air of guarded calm, as
befits the gardens surrounding a royal palace. No carriages are
allowed to profane its sacred shades; no rude sounds of the outer
world penetrate its leafy bowers. In one pleasant spot of greenery a
welcome innovation has lately been introduced in the summer months, in
the shape of afternoon tea _al fresco_, provided by an enterprising
club, and of late much frequented by the fashionable world. Kensington
Gardens are always very select in their _coterie_; on their western
side stands the old Dutch palace of solid red-brick, built for William
and Mary,--sorrowed in by desolate Queen Anne,--birthplace of Queen
Victoria, worthiest, noblest, and most lamented of her line. With
her, most of all, are the associations of Kensington Gardens now bound
up. In these pretty walks crowded still by the children and nurses of
the wealthy and noble, the little royal girl used to play, regardless
alike of her coming doom--or glory.

Yet, with all the nursery din of Kensington Gardens--an English
_Tuileries_--there yet are spots so secluded and so quiet as still to
justify Matthew Arnold's lovely lines:

  "In this lone, open glade I lie,
   Screen'd by deep boughs on either hand;
   And at its end, to stay the eye,
   Those black-crown'd, red-boled pine-trees stand!

  "Birds here make song, each bird has his,
   Across the girding city's hum.
   How green under the boughs it is!
   How thick the tremulous sheep-cries come!

  "Here at my feet what wonders pass,
   What endless, active life is here!
   What blowing daisies, fragrant grass!
   An air-stirred forest, fresh and clear.

  "In the huge world, which roars hard by,
   Be others happy if they can!
   But in my helpless cradle I
   Was breathed on by the rural Pan.

  "Yet here is peace for ever new!
   When I who watch them am away,
   Still all things in this glade go through
   The changes of their quiet day."

Poor Haydon, the painter, whose fitful genius went out so sadly in
lurid gloom, said of Kensington Gardens that "here are some of the
most poetical bits of tree and stump, and sunny brown and green glens
and tawny earth." Disraeli, also, wrote of it as follows in his most
"classically-flowery" manner:--

     "The inhabitants of London are scarcely sufficiently
     sensible of the beauty of its environs. On every side the
     most charming retreats open to them.... In exactly ten
     minutes it is in the power of every man to free himself from
     all the tumult of the world; the pangs of love, the throbs
     of ambition, the wear and tear of play, the recriminating
     boudoir, the conspiring club, the rattling hell, and find
     himself in a sublime sylvan solitude superior to the cedars
     of Lebanon, and inferior only in extent to the chestnut
     forests of Anatolia. It is Kensington Gardens that is almost
     the only place that has realised his idea of the forests of
     Spenser and Ariosto."

[Illustration: _Tea in Kensington Gardens._]

What havoc, truly, the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Prince Consort's
darling scheme, must have wrought in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens!
And what would the bright particular spirits of the present day now
think of such irreverent, such high-handed proceedings? Even the
Kensington Museum now eschews the too close neighbourhood of ephemeral
Exhibitions; they are relegated to the more distant shades of Olympia
and of Earl's Court; the immense Crystal Palace--the Exhibition
building--now flourishes at Sydenham, and the site of the great show
is commemorated in Hyde Park by the Albert Memorial, an edifice about
the merits of which much difference of opinion rages. Yet, even its
detractors must own the magnificence of the monument, and admire the
eastern opulence of its mosaics, its gilding, its bronzes and marbles.

But St. James's Park is really, in some ways, quite the prettiest of
the London parks, and though sufficiently aristocratic, it is yet much
frequented by the populace. "A genuine piece of country, and of
English country," Taine says of it. Round it are situated royal
palaces and beautiful mansions, standing amidst their spacious
gardens. North of St. James's Park stretches the Mall, so named from
the ancient game of "Paille Maille," played here by the gay court of
Charles II. The game consisted in striking a ball, with a mallet,
through an iron ring, down a straight walk powdered with
cockle-shells. Here, in later Stuart and Hanoverian times, was to be
seen the very height of London fashion, the ladies in "full dress,"
and their cavaliers carrying their hats under their arms. Perhaps, of
all the varying "modes" flaunted from time to time in the "Mall," the
fashions of 1800-1810 would strike us now as being the most peculiar.

[Illustration: _A Fountain in St. James's Park._]

East of St. James's Park are the stately Government Offices, and south
is Birdcage Walk, overlooked by the pretty hanging gardens and
balconies that adorn the mansions of picturesque Queen Anne's Gate.
Where "Spring Gardens" now stand was, in old days, "Milk Fair," where
asses' and cows' milk was sold to the votaries of fashion, to repair
the ravages of late hours and "routs." Milk-vendors, boasting their
descent from the original holders, have still their cow-stall at the
park corner under the elm-trees. In the distance the grey old abbey,
with its delicate tracery, appears at intervals above the trees and
buildings; and, though so near the city smoke, the Ornithological
Society breeds many beautiful aquatic birds on a small island on the
Ornamental Water. St. James's Park is a series of pictures; the
sketcher, too, will find many convenient seats, as well as charming
views.

It is difficult to believe that this lovely park was, in pre-Tudor
times, merely a swampy field, pertaining to a hospital "for fourteen
maidens that were leprous," and far beyond the precincts of the little
London of that day. (The lepers' hospital itself stood where now
stands St. James's Palace.) It was Henry VIII. who removed the leper
maidens, converting their asylum into a palace, their field into a
park; a park used as the private garden to the palace until Charles
II.'s time, at which period it was made public and laid out by a
French landscape gardener called "Le Nôtre." There is a story that
Queen Caroline, wife to George II., wished to appropriate the Park
once more for the sole use of the Palace, and asked "what it would
cost to effect this?" "Only three crowns," was the pithy answer of the
minister, Sir Robert Walpole.

Beautiful as St. James's Park still is, it must have been yet more
charming a century-and-a-half ago, when no houses as yet intervened
between it and the grey dignity of the old Abbey of Westminster, and
when the vanished _Rosamond's Pond_, with its wild and romantic banks,
gave a rural attraction to the scene. _Rosamond's Pond_, mentioned by
Pope and other writers, was a favourite trysting-place for lovers, and
had also, from its seclusion, a less enviable notoriety for suicides.

Charles II., was especially fond of St. James's Park; he would sit
here for hours among his dogs, amusing himself with the tame ducks,
that he had himself introduced; the descendants of these ducks, it is
said, flourish, like those of the milk-vendors, to this day, and are
fed familiarly by constant Londoners. Perhaps it was Charles's
fondness for animals that, by a natural sequence of events, caused the
park, somewhat later, to become a sort of Zoological Gardens for
London. Birds of all kinds still thrive in it, although distant
Battersea Park, new and semi-suburban, now claims its share of
ornithological fame. The London County Council, among other good
works, has adopted towards animals the protecting _rôle_ of Charles
II., and sedulously encourages bird-life in the parks; woe, therefore,
to the boy or man, who goes bird-nesting or bird-snaring in one of
these sacred enclosures! Wild birds reciprocate the Council's paternal
care by taking up their lodging in Battersea of their own free will. A
cuckoo's egg was even found in Battersea Park lately, laid, very
annoyingly, in a "whitethroat's" nest, which had been made in a
bamboo-bush in the "sub-tropical" part of the gardens. Nevertheless,
the charitable whitethroats overlooked the liberty, and safely hatched
that cuckoo. Battersea Park claims, moreover, robins, tits,
hedge-sparrows, chaffinches, wrens, and greenfinches; to say nothing
of herons, and even a white blackbird. Birds take kindly to London; do
not even the gulls come up the river by thousands in severe winters,
as the Albatross came to the call of the Ancient Mariner? Also, over
200 wood pigeons are said to roost regularly on the Battersea Park
islands. But then, wood-pigeons seem to be everywhere at home in
London. Do they not haunt the city gardens that lie behind Queen
Square, and coo sweetly all through the London spring and summer?

If Battersea Park, with its charmingly laid-out gardens, its wealth of
tropical plants, all its feathered population, and its river glories
of twilight and sunset, is yet undistinguished, so also is the
Regent's Park, which is situated at quite another, (though equally
semi-suburban), angle of the metropolis. Regent's Park, like
Battersea Park, is the resort of the great middle-class. Here you may
see, on Bank Holidays, the groups so lovingly described by Ibsen,
"father, mother, and troop of children," all drest in their Sunday
best, and all dropping orange-peel cheerfully as they go. Here too, on
Sundays, is a "Church Parade," quite as crowded as that of Hyde Park,
though not, perhaps, so largely noticed in the "society" papers. The
demeanour of the young couples is perhaps here a trifle more
boisterous, that of their elders perhaps a shade more prim; the attire
of the ladies, generally, a thought more crude. The wide middle avenue
of Regent's Park, on Sundays, affords capital study to those
interested in the vast subject of Man and Manners. And then the great
middle class is so much more amusing than are the "Well-Connected"!

The flowers in Regent's Park, in spring and early summer, are a yearly
marvel and a delight. Not even those of Hyde Park, in all their
season's glory, can surpass them. On each side of the large middle
avenue, gay parterres vie with one another in brilliance. Tulips,
hyacinths of wonderful shades, all the glory of spring bulbs, make
way, later, for summer "bedding-out-plants" in lovely combinations of
colour. Crocuses, scillas, and snowdrops, too, are scattered here and
there, with a charming air of lavishness, over the grassy slopes: this
has a delightful effect, giving all the look and suggestion of wild
flowers.

Regent's Park has, then, an unrivalled charm to the flower-lover. (And
what true Londoner, one may ask, is not a flower-lover? The Londoner
loves flowers with an intensity undreamed of in the real country.) The
slum children, who frequent this park in large numbers, respect, as a
rule, the flower-beds. Slum-children are, generally, as I have
observed from experience gathered in the Temple Gardens, St. Paul's
Churchyard, Leicester Square and elsewhere,--more reverently inclined,
as regards flowers, than their more pampered contemporaries; though,
of course, nature is nature, and there may be occasional lapses.
Thus, the other day I chanced to notice, in Regent's Park, two small
girls "of the people," whose ideas on the subject of "property" seemed
just a trifle elementary. They were ragged and hungry-looking too, and
to add to the pathos of their rags, one of them flourished a broken
green parasol, and the other one's tattered hat flaunted a dirty pink
ostrich feather:

"Oh, Lizer," I heard the smallest one say, "I _do_ wish I could git
one o' them flowers! jest one geranium, for ter stick in my 'air at
Sunday-school ter-morrer! They'd niver miss it"!

"_Certingly_ not! The p'leaceman 'ud be after you, pretty sharp," says
the elder child, severely. "You know 'ow Bert caught it, three weeks
back, for on'y a-breakin orf of two daffies, and one of 'em nearly
dead too! Well, (relenting), "you _may_ git me jest a few, if you kin
do it so's the p'leaceman can't see".... Rosie, shet it!" as the
younger girl clutched at some flowers: "I see 'im a-comin' towards us,
this minnit! No, if you please, we ain't done nothin', sir! My sister
an' me, sir, we was on'y jest a-lookin' at the flowers, an' saying as
'ow beautiful they _'ad_ grown, since this Sat'day gone a week....
_Our_ garding ain't got no show to equil them, and we ain't got no cut
flowers, for onst, in ma's drorin'-room; and these 'ere is grown that
beautiful."

"You was a-goin' to 'elp 'em grow, wasn't you?" said the policeman,
good-naturedly enough: "_I_ see you a-stretchin' over them railin's!
_Your_ garding's a alley, that's wot it is! an' your drorin'-room is
jest a three-pair-model, _I_ back!... I know your sort! 'Ere, tike
yerselves orf, double quick!"

The ignorant in such matters may, perhaps, vaguely wonder, in Regent's
Park, why the comfortable chairs provided, apparently, for man's
delectation, are all deserted of the multitude, and why, on the other
hand, the iron seats are crammed to repletion? The explanation is a
simple one. The chairs cost a penny each to sit on! It is, however,
not unusual to see a stray marauder occupy one of these sacred
resting-places for a stolen minute of bliss, and, on seeing the
approach of the Guardian of the Park furniture (whence such guardians
spring up is ever a mystery), rise and absent himself in well-feigned
abstraction.

[Illustration: _The Reformer._]

Regent's Park, like Hyde Park, is a focus of itinerant lecturers and
preachers. These have apparently established a kind of "Sunday right"
to the upper part of the long avenue of trees beyond the
flower-gardens. Here, as in the larger park, may be seen "cranks" of
every kind. Thus, one lecturer will hold up to obloquy an unkind
caricature of Mr. Chamberlain, representing the great man with the
addition of horns and hoofs; another, proclaiming the gospel of
Jingoism, will shout himself hoarse in the attempt to drown his
adversary. (Political meetings, however, may now possibly be regarded
with disfavour by the authorities, the Boer War having lately rendered
many of them somewhat picturesque in incident.) Under another big
tree, a Revivalist meeting will be held, accompanied by sundry groans
and sobs, and varied at intervals by hymns sung to the accompaniment
of a harmonium or a small piano-organ. The first beginnings of
lectures, as of righteousness, are hard. One poor orator, on the
outskirts of the crowd, I saw myself arrive on the scene, and "work
up" his lecture to the unsympathetic and goggle-eyed audience of a
small cockney nursemaid, a perambulator, and two wailing babies. I
quite felt for that poor man; nevertheless, he persevered, and in only
five minutes auditors had already begun to trickle in. (A considerable
percentage of the Park congregations, I may here observe, had no
"fixed city," no abiding convictions; they wandered about here and
there, from one preacher to another, "just as fate or fancy carried";
or, rather, to whichever of the said preachers happened at the moment
to be the most emphatic.) With lectures _al fresco_, as with other
things, it would appear to be only the _premier pas qui coûte_; and
soon the would-be orator had a distinguished and motley following.
What, exactly, he was lecturing about, it is really beyond me to say,
for my attention was largely woolgathering about the crowd; but he
seemed, like Mr. Chadband, of immortal memory, to repeat himself a
good deal, and to be very angry indeed about something or other.
Indeed, I doubt whether the majority of his audience quite understood
the orator's drift, but they knew that he was bellowing with all the
strength of his lungs, and Englishmen always respect a man who makes
sufficient noise. The lecturer's anger seemed, strangely enough, to be
directed against poor, unoffending Regent's Park itself:

"For twenty years," he kept reiterating, "for twenty years Regent's
Park has been allowed to speak, unhindered, under this very tree. For
twenty years it has found its voice, ay, and its pence, too, here....
Is it to continue to find them, or not? That is the question.... Does
Regent's Park wish to sit tamely under insult? to lie down to be
crushed? to bend its back to the tyrant?" (here the speaker, in his
fervour, seemed to get a trifle mixed in his similes.)

"'Ear, 'ear," said a chubby baker's boy, who had stopped for a moment
to listen; and one of the forgotten babies in the perambulator wailed.

"Will Regent's Park, I say, tolerate this? It is, let me repeat it, it
is for Regent's Park to decide!"

But the "Regent's Park" of the hour, though thus eloquently adjured,
was evidently not to be roused to fury; or even to decision. "Kim on
'ome," cries the nurse-girl to the twins, hitching the perambulator
round with a sudden jerk: "Go it, old kipper," shouts a facetious
larrikin. Alas! even now "Regent's Park," with its pence too, was
apathetically melting away towards that all-important function of the
day--its "tea."

There is, indeed, much "life" to be found in Regent's Park.

Some of London's pleasantest "by-ways" are the pretty, well-kept,
and delightfully planted walks of the Zoological Gardens. One of the
big gates of this institution opens near upon the "preaching trees"
of Regent's Park; and, certainly, after a close experience of the
"human animal," the rest of the mammalia, unoffending, harmless, and
discreetly caged, often occur as quite a pleasant contrast. (I wonder
that the simile did not occur to Lord Beaconsfield himself; it is
certainly in his line.) Thackeray also, who enjoyed the Zoo greatly,
saw, as befitted a great novelist, the human side of it: "If I have
cares on my mind," he wrote, "I come to the Zoo, and fancy they
don't pass the gate; I recognise my friends, my enemies, in
countless cages." Yes, the Zoo is an unfailing pleasure; I can
conscientiously recommend it, with one word of caution: Do not
choose a very hot day for the excursion: be careful to go a little
to windward of the feline race, and eschew the monkey house as much
as possible. Poor Sally the chimpanzee is dead, alas! of
consumption, and none of her successors, surely, can make up for the
very unendurable temperature that has ever to be maintained round
them. Monkeys are sad victims to pulmonary disease; every London fog
kills, it is said, a few of them. The reptile house is, however,
cool and pleasant; and the ponds for aquatic birds are very charming
resorts. Altogether, if the great carnivora and the great crowds be
shunned, the Zoological Garden becomes distinctly pleasant; its
walks, moreover, have all the unexpectedness of "Alice's"
peregrinations in the "Live-Flower-Garden," where, continually,
round some bowery corner, she came face to face with strange and
uncanny-looking beasts. Just so, in the Zoological Gardens, you may
suddenly chance upon an amiable, blinking Owl, or a casual Parrot,
or a wondering Pelican, peering at you round some bush in the
shrubbed pathway. Yet another caution: Do not be tempted, under any
circumstances, to ride the Elephant. Its saddle has a knife-board
seat adapted only to juveniles; those of the Society's servants who
assist you to mount the beast are uncomfortably facetious; and when
you are at last safely on top, you feel positively vindictive
towards the small children who, down in the depths below you, trifle
with your life by offering your elephant a bun.

The Botanical Gardens, enclosed by the ring drive called "The Inner
Circle," are, perhaps, best known to Londoners by their three big
flower-shows, held in May and June; important functions which are
thronged by all the world of rank and fashion.

But, delightful as are these open spaces and public gardens, there is,
perhaps, a homelier charm in one's very own London garden,--one's own
private _rus in urbe_. I myself never pass through any part of
suburban or semi-suburban London by railway, without looking at all
the back-gardens of the small houses. Oliver Wendell Holmes says that
a man's belongings and house are an index of his character; but,
surely, his garden, or even his yard, is more so. The nature, for
instance, that can willingly content itself with a clothes-line and
six mouldy cabbage-stalks, while the neighbouring London yards flaunt
the golden sunflower, or the graceful foxglove,--reflects, surely, its
own shallowness. And if in central London the poor have no small yard
even, is there not always a window sill, where from some biscuit tin
(in North-Italian fashion,) or from some painted wooden crate, flowers
may spring, and rejoice the heart of many a poor wanderer, dreaming,
like Wordsworth's Susan, of country meadows and streams? Even the sins
of a fried-fish shop may be redeemed by yellow trails of "creeping
jenny" from a box above it; even the powerful aroma of "sheeps'
trotters" may be almost forgotten in the enjoyment of a stray plant of
musk, treasured in some poor man's window-corner. It may be only "a
weakly monthly rose that don't grow, or a tea-plant with five black
leaves and one green," yet it reflects pleasantly, none the less, the
owner's saving grace of taste. To some, this kind of humble garden has
a charm all its own. "My gardens," said Gray the poet proudly, "are in
the windows like those of a lodger up three pair of stairs in
Petticoat Lane, or Camomile Street, and they go to bed regularly under
the same roof that I do." There is, I believe, a society for the
cultivation of "window-gardening" among the poor, a society that gives
prizes to the best results; the movement is a good one, and really
deserves encouragement. To beautify the dull and often ugly lives of
the London poor,--what society could have a much worthier aim? How
many a hideous slum--some "Rosemary Lane," or "Hawthorn Lane,"--has
been redeemed from utter gloom by some sprig of greenery, some frond
of sickly fern, some crippled and stunted plant brought there, at some
time, by some good angel of the poor?

As to the occasional gardens of the larger houses, these, when they do
exist, have, to the faithful Londoner, a beauty all their own; shut
in and hidden, they have something of the quiet of old cathedral
closes, as well as the charm of unexpectedness. And then--last, best
of all! they hang out their "pavilions of tender green" without giving
any trouble in that "spring cleaning," so trying to London housewives.
Of course, however, London gardens do not thrive without affection and
interest. If neglected, they die; if tended, they repay your care with
a gratitude almost human. Too often the making of gardens in London is
on this wise:--First, the workman, or gardener, levies an assortment
of old sardine tins, kettles and other household rubbish; next, he
arranges a good solid layer of brickbats; then he levels the
"parterre" with a few old sacks and coats; then, finally, he fills up
the chinks with a little dank, sour, half-starved London soil--"dirt"
is indeed the only name for it!--adding a thin layer of it over the
whole. Then the garden is considered "finished," and ready for the
credulous to sow their seeds. Such a London garden--a catwalk rather
than a thing of beauty--is perhaps only redeemed from utter dreariness
by an occasional plane-tree.

Plane-trees, which thrive in London because of their tidy habit of
shedding their sooty bark yearly, are luxuriant all over the
metropolis, but especially so in Bloomsbury. Here also lived Amy Levy,
most pathetic of London poets, and here she watched and loved her
tree.

  "Green is the plane-tree in the square,
   The other trees are brown;
   They droop and pine for country air;
   The plane-tree loves the town.

  "Here, from my garret-pane, I mark
   The plane-tree bud and blow,
   Shed her recuperative bark,
   And spread her shade below.

  "Among her branches, in and out,
   The city breezes play;
   The dun fog wraps her round about;
   Above, the smoke curls grey.

  "Others the country take for choice,
   And hold the town in scorn;
   But she has listened to the voice
   Of city breezes borne."

The purple _clematis jackmanii_, which flowers so well in the Regent's
Park terraces and in Kensington, flowers also yearly on a certain
sunny balcony in Tavistock Square; the iris hangs out its brilliant
flags every summer in St. Pancras Churchyard--close under those
smoke-begrimed Caryatids whose sad eyes gaze ever, not on to the
Peiraeus and to the Aegean Sea, but towards the dreary and
everlastingly murky Euston Road.

Even grass will grow in shut-in, walled Bloomsbury gardens; it may,
indeed, sometimes require treating as an "annual"; but what of that?
If the difficulties of the London garden are great, why, so are its
joys.

Cats are, of course, the primal difficulty. We know how lately the
"Carlyle House" in Chelsea was cursed with them; it is said, also,
that a certain eccentric lady once lived with a family of some
eighty-six cats, in a house in Southampton Row. The descendants of
these cats must, one thinks, still haunt the neighbourhood, to judge
from the number that prowl in it. Cats, in London, often become wild
animals, and lose all their domestic charm. "Cats," as the little
Board School essayist naïvely wrote: "has nine liveses, which is
seldom required in this country 'cos of yumanity." The "yumanity" in
question seems, however, to be rather at a discount in London. For
cats' owners have a distracting habit of going away for the summer and
leaving the poor beasts, so to speak, "on the parish." Five such cats,
starving and sick, have I, to my own knowledge, gently released from a
cruel world at a neighbouring chemist's. A little boy--one "of the
streets streety," once held poor pussy while the quietus--of prussic
acid--was administered: "Won't I jest?" he said with glee when asked
to officiate. "Won'erful stuff, that 'ere, Miss!" he remarked at the
close of the sad ceremony; adding, admiringly, "w'y, that ket did'nt
mow once!" "What are you going to do with her?" I inquired of the
youth, who now carried the corpse dangling by one leg. "Throw 'er over
the fust garding wall I come to," he replied, grinning. Thus, I
reflected, the poor London garden is still the victim!

A dead cat may be an awkward visitor, but the surviving cats are the
bane of London gardens. Their courtships--on the garden-wall--are long
and musical, causing even the merciful to yearn for a syringe at all
costs. The sparrows are a far lesser evil. They, indeed, eat the
garden seeds; nothing on earth is sacred to a London sparrow or robin.
It is impossible, by any system, however well-devised, to outwit them.
They are afraid of nothing. Set up an elaborate scarecrow in the
garden; for the space, perhaps, of one hour it will puzzle them; but
in a day or two they will hop and twitter familiarly about it, even to
the extent of pecking bits of thread from it for their impertinent
nests. Get a toy cat and place it on the flower-bed; in twenty-four
hours they will have discovered that the thing is a hollow sham, and
will sit comfortably in the warmth of its artificial fur. But one
forgives them; for the birds, after all, are the chief joy of London
gardens. Their twitter is sweet on spring mornings; in winter, the
robins and sparrows may be tamed by feeding, almost to the extent of
coming into the house itself for crumbs; and, in the summer, if you
set them a shallow bath every day for their disporting, they will
rejoice your heart by their watery antics. Robins and sparrows are
alike charming; the robins are the stronger; a single robin, pecking
about on the garden step for his breakfast, will scatter a host of
sparrows; but it is the sparrows, after all, that form the real bird
population of London. Though they appreciate a quiet back garden, they
seem also to delight in the noise, traffic, and bustle of the streets.
Their cleverness, and their strength too, surpass belief; they even
seem to have æsthetic tastes (did I not see, last month, a sparrow
decorate its nest with an overhanging sprig of laburnum, or "golden
chain?"); and they are, besides, as irrepressible as the London street
arabs, with whom they have much in common; for they are the "gamins"
of the bird world. For their parental instinct, on the other hand,
there is, in London at least, not much to be said; their way of
dealing with their recalcitrant offspring would seem to be a trifle
overbearing, for in early spring small, half-fledged corpses are often
to be found, dropped unkindly from nests into back-gardens. But,
perhaps, as the small boy said of King Solomon, "havin' so many, they
can afford to be wasteful of 'em." There are, indeed, many. On the
statue of Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford, in Russell Square,--a
figure, rising erect, in the curious taste of the time, from a nest of
cupids and clouds,--sparrows have built many nests. The chinks in the
giant's robe are black, in spring, with their tiny heads; the curly
hair of the cupids is fluffed with their downy feathers.

I have elsewhere touched on the great picturesqueness of London
views--a picturesqueness always more or less coloured and influenced
by romance and by history: the past and the present, the natural and
the artificial--all blended into one glory:--

  "glory of warrior, glory of orator, glory of song,
   ... the glory of going on, and still to be."

Especially beautiful are the effects of light that are obtainable on
early summer mornings, or on lurid, stormy, autumn evenings--evenings
when the sun sinks with such splendour of attendant fires as is rarely
seen away from the great city. The vivid effects are largely increased
by the smoky atmosphere. What more mysteriously fine, for instance,
than the view of St. Paul's, looking up Ludgate Hill, with, in the
foreground, the railway bridge, emitting smoke, raised high above the
narrow street: and the black, thin spirelet of St. Martin's, as the
attendant "aiguille" leading the eye up to the colossal dome of grey
St. Paul's?--

  "Here, like a bishop, upon dainties fed,
   St. Paul lifts up his sacerdotal head;
   While his lean curates, slim and lank to view,
   Around them point their steeples to the blue."

Or what, on a fine morning of summer, can be more inspiring than the
white and silver harmonies of Cheapside, dominated by the pale tower
of St. Mary-le-Bow? Or the sublimity of the Houses of Parliament, that
embattled mass with its tall tower, backed by stormy, gold-edged
threatening clouds, through which the sunlight breaks? "Sky and cloud
and smoke and buildings are all mingled as if they belonged to each
other, and man's work stretching heavenward is touched with the
sublimity of nature." Or Trafalgar Square, as I saw it lately, on a
winter twilight; its tall pillars grey-black against a lurid sky, its
fountain alchymised to a molten mass of pearl-white, its geysers to
sparkling brilliants, a "nocturne" of silver and gold? Or the
Turneresque brilliance of light and splendour on the river--that river
to which London owes all her prosperity and all her fame--that river
of which already, with true feeling and eighteenth-century
artificiality, Alexander Pope wrote:--

  "her figured streams in waves of silver rolled,
   And on her banks Augusta rose in gold."

But of all the views of London, perhaps none is so fine, and certainly
none is so comprehensive, as that which may be obtained, under
favourable conditions, from Primrose Hill--that "little molehill," as
it has been called, "in the great wen's northern flank." It is a
splendid and inspiring panorama. Few people know of it; yet it is a
sight not to be forgotten. Go thither on a clear spring or summer
evening, three-quarters of an hour before sunset, and you will be
richly repaid. What a view! Grime and dinginess are as they were not;
the smoky atmosphere is transformed, as if by magic, to a golden,
transparent haze--mellowing, brightening, idealising. "Who," as a
recent writer says, "would have imagined that this grimy, smoky
wilderness of houses, with its factories and its slums, ... could ever
look like the fair and beautiful city of some ethereal vision,
embosomed in trees and full of glorious stately monuments? It is even
so. Regent's Park lies below, a frame of restful greenery. To the left
rises Camden Town--prosaic neighbourhood!--up a gentle slope. In the
evening sunlight it is transfigured into a mass of brightness and
colour, rising in clear-cut terraces, like some fair city on an
Italian hill-top. St. Pancras Station is a thing of beauty, with a
Gothic spire, and lines like those of a Venetian palazzo on the Grand
Canal. Hard by rises the dome of the Reading-Room of the British
Museum, embowered in trees--a stately witness to the learning of a
continent. St. Paul's soars up grandly above its sister spires, in
misty purple--dominating feature of the city--as St. Peter's in Rome.
Away towards the mouth of the river rises the high line of Blackheath,
and the hills of the Thames valley curve round in a noble sweep above
the light haze which marks the unseen river, past the crest of
Sydenham Hill with the Crystal Palace shining out white and clear,
past Big Ben and the Abbey, and the Mother of Parliaments, to where
the ridges above Guildford and Dorking fade away into 'the fringes of
the southward-facing brow' of Sussex and Hampshire, towards the
English Channel. Innumerable slender church spires point upwards to
the wide overarching sky. Northward, again, are the wooded heights of
Highgate and Hampstead, and the long battlemented line of the fortress
at Holloway. What a view! On Primrose Hill on a summer's evening the
Londoner feels, indeed, that he is a citizen of no mean city.
Wordsworth, truly, thought that 'Earth had not anything to show more
fair' than the view from Westminster Bridge in the early morning. But
it needs a modern poet--a poet of the whole English-speaking race--to
do justice to this view of the great city on the Thames, lying bathed
in the magic glow of a summer sunset beneath Primrose Hill."



[Illustration: _A Jury._]

CHAPTER XVII

THE WAYS OF LONDONERS

  "Laughing, weeping, hurrying ever,
   Hour by hour they crowd along,
   While below the mighty river
   Sings them all a mocking song."--_Molloy._

  "An ever-muttering prisoned storm,
   The heart of London beating warm."--_John Davidson._


[Illustration: _'Bus Driver._]

What is the best way to see London? "From the top of a 'bus," Mr.
Gladstone is said to have sagely remarked. And if you can study London
itself from the top of a 'bus, you can also, from the interior of the
same convenient, if not always savoury, vehicle, study the ways of
Londoners. For, as means of transit, omnibuses and road-cars are every
decade, nay, every year, coming yet more into popularity. Soon the
patient horses that drag them will disappear and they will transform
themselves into "motor-omnibuses," but their general character will be
still unaltered. Whether the new electric railway along Oxford Street
will at all affect the omnibus public, is a question to be considered;
but up to now these popular vehicles have certainly had it all their
own way. To the unsophisticated, there seems now even a dash of
adventure about them. Why, it is only some twenty years since it was
considered bold for a young woman to venture into that hitherto
exclusively male precinct, the very select "knifeboard": and now, the
top of a 'bus usually harbours not one, but a majority of females,
while the uncomfortable "knifeboard" itself has given place to the
luxurious "garden-seat." Then, it was in old days considered
necessary to talk of "omnibuses," and now, 'bus is a term as common as
"the Zoo," and used not only by "the masses," but even by purists in
the English language.

The ways of Londoners, then, as studied in the ubiquitous "'bus," are
not at all the ways of any other people. To begin with, the stranger
should be warned of the fact that the average Londoner resents being
spoken to. He, or she, regards it as an unwarrantable liberty. For the
Londoner,--at any rate that Londoner whose honour it is to belong to
the great and respectable "middle class," prides himself on "keeping
'isself _to_ 'isself." He, or, again, it is generally she,--is nothing
if not conventional, and dreads nothing in life so much as the
unexpected. If, therefore, you should show such bad taste as to
suddenly die in the 'bus, or in the street, a dirty crowd would, it is
true, soon collect round you, but the more respectable would, like the
Levite, "pass by on the other side," preferring "not to mix themselves
up with any unpleasantness." "People in London are so rude," I
remarked once sadly to a "lady friend" of mine who lived in a "two
pair back" in a select mews: "Wyever _do_ you speak to 'em?" was her
retort--evidently on the principle that you can't expect anything from
a wolf but a bite.

But the lowest classes are more genial. They have not got such an
overpowering amount of gentility to keep up. They can even afford to
be sympathetic. Once I happened to have to ring up a doctor in the
small hours of the morning. Hardly had I pulled twice at the midnight
bell, when with Gamp-like alacrity two strange figures hurried up, and
inquired with breathless anxiety, "Anyone pizened, Miss?" adding, with
knowledge born of experience, "Knock at the winder." The advice was at
all events opportune. Yes, the very poor have always a certain rude,
Dickensian, good nature. Thus, if an old market-woman, for instance,
happen to jump into your 'bus at Covent Garden, she will amiably rest
her big (and distinctly savoury) basket half on your knees, and,
mopping her crimson face with a dishcloth, "pass" you the time of day.
On the other hand, a great lady and her fashionably dressed daughter
will (if you happen to offer your own place for their acceptance) take
it without so much as "thank you," and will then proceed to eye you
superciliously through a lorgnette. Truly, our manners do not improve,
in all respects, with our social status.

Max O'Rell, in _John Bull and his Island_, has well hit off the
Englishman's little ways when travelling by omnibus:

     "Ask John Bull if you are in the right for such and such a
     place; you will get _yes_ or _no_ for an answer, and nothing
     more. When he enters an omnibus or a railway carriage, if he
     does not recognise any one, he eyes his fellow travellers
     askance in a sulky and suspicious way. He seems to say,
     'What a bore it is that all you people can't walk home, and
     let a man have the carriage comfortably to himself....'
     London omnibuses are made to seat six persons on each side.
     These places are not marked out. When, on entering, you find
     five people on either hand, you must not hope to see any one
     move to make room for you. No, here everything is left to
     personal initiative. You simply try to spy out the two pairs
     of thighs that seem to you the best padded, and with all
     your weight you let yourself down between them. No need to
     apologise, no one will think of calling you a bad name."

There is much character to be met with in a 'bus. The incipient or
embryo novelist should be encouraged to travel by them. From the time
when the poet Shelley frightened the Highgate old lady in a 'bus, by
his odd invitation to:

                        "sit upon the ground,
  And tell strange stories of the death of kings...."

--many romances have been enacted, many curious histories related in
them. Omnibuses have before now been utilised as meeting-grounds for
young couples whose courtship was tabooed by unkind parents, and who
consequently discovered pressing engagements requiring their presence
at "Hercules Buildings," or "the Elephant," as the case might be. Mr.
Anstey Guthrie's amusing conversations, overheard in the 'bus, and
his intense anxiety as to the never discovered _dénoûment_ of the
thrilling story about "the button-hook as opened George's eyes," we
have all known and laughed over. But the omnibus,--mere comedy on a
bright, dusty, spring or summer day, when its garden-seats shine
resplendent in new paint, becomes rather a thing of grim tragedy on
muddy days of winter gloom, when the rain comes down in torrents, and
a stern "Full inside," is all the response the weary wayfarer gets
after waiting long minutes,--painful, jostled minutes,--for the
desired vehicle, of which, as Calverley says:

                    "... some, like monarchs, glow
  With richest purple; some are blue
  As skies that tempt the swallows back.
  Or red as, seen o'er wintry seas,
  The star of storm; or barred with black
  And yellow, like the April bees."

The omnibus conductors are generally uncommunicative, and often
morose--perhaps, from too frequent digs in the ribs from fussy old
ladies and choleric old gentlemen. Some of them, too, refuse to wait
for you unless you pretend to have a broken leg, or at least to be
half-paralyzed; yet, even among 'bus conductors, there are still
occasional pearls to be met with. In one thing they show remarkable
aptitude; namely, in an interchange of wit with the drivers of rival
vehicles. On these occasions their sallies, considering their very
limited vocabulary, are often quite brilliantly forcible. In a "block"
in Oxford Street or the Strand, or after a "liquor-up" at a convenient
"pub," such flights of humour will often while away the time very
agreeably for the passenger inside, that is, if he be not too
nervously fearful of being drawn into the dispute himself. Omnibus
conductors, however, "frivel" as they may among themselves, are as
adamant where any infringement of their rules by their passengers is
concerned. Why they continually insist--against all show of reason
too--on seating no less than six fat people on one side of their
vehicle, and no more than six thin ones on the other, has always been
a mystery to me. It is, however, as a law of the Medes and Persians,
for it knows no alteration. But it has at any rate the merit of
pointing the parable about the fat and the lean kine.

[Illustration: _Inside._]

Fat people, it must be confessed, have a peculiar affinity for
omnibuses. The contents of a 'bus are, I have observed, nearly always
fat. An omnibus journey is, by the obese, regarded as so much
exercise. An old tradesman of my acquaintance who suffered from liver
was lately ordered exercise by his doctor. Thereupon he took, like
Mrs. Carlyle, one sad shilling's worth of omnibus per day, and was
surprised when, at the end of a month, he felt no better. "One
shilling's worth of omnibus!"--horrible suggestion! It must have taken
nearly three hours, for the cost of omnibus journeys can generally be
reckoned at a penny for every ten minutes. The distance traversed is
immaterial, as the traveller will soon discover. If he wishes to catch
any particular train he had better allow twenty minutes a mile to be
quite on the safe side.

On rainy days, character in omnibus is yet more self-revealing. Thus,
a wayfarer gets in with a wet cloak and wet umbrella; no one shows any
desire to make room. The five lean kine on the one side spread
themselves out; the five fat ones on the other expand also. The
new-comer stumbles, the wet cloak splashes every one, the umbrella
drips genially; it is a pleasant sight. When room is finally made and
the wanderer seated, the wet garments soon exhale a fragrant
steam--which scent mingles with the odours of cabbage, peppermint, or
onions, already discernible. These scents, it may be added, vary in
different quarters of London. Thus, onions are partial to Long Acre;
antiseptics to Southampton Row; cheap scent to Oxford Street and
Holborn; whisky, perhaps, to "the 'Ampstid Road"; general frowsiness
to King's Road, Chelsea; and the aroma of elegant furs to the shades
of Kensington. Omnibus scents vary, too, with "the varying year." In
the spring it is leeks and "spring onions"; in the winter it is
paraffin or eucalyptus; in the summer it is indescribable.

Yet, it must be said on behalf of human nature, that there is kindness
to be met with even in the maligned 'bus. If, for instance, some
"absent-minded beggar" should happen to get in without possessing the
necessary pence, at least half the 'bus are immediately ready to offer
the deficit; and hands are similarly always stretched out to help in
the lame and the blind.

[Illustration: _"Benk, Benk!!"_]

Even should a fellow passenger be exceptionally conversational, it
does not, I may add, usually answer to talk much to the casual
neighbour on a 'bus, even if it be by way of ingratiating yourself
with "the masses." Especially does this rule hold good where young
women are concerned. A seriously-minded girl--a girl, too, who was not
a bit of a flirt, or indeed remarkably pretty--once confessed to me
her sad experiences in that line. Being much interested in democratic
politics, she had one fine day begun to talk--on the 'bus roof--to a
young artisan on the "Eight Hours' Bill." She imagined herself to be
getting along swimmingly, when suddenly the young man, hitherto very
intelligent and respectful, began to "nudge" her (this being, I have
reason to believe, the first preliminary to courtship in his class).
From "nudging" he proceeded to "squeezing"; and, finally, could it be
fancy, or was it an arm that began ominously to encircle her waist?
She did not stay to investigate the phenomenon, but clambered down the
iron staircase with inelegant haste--a sadder and a wiser young woman!

Another time I myself was "riding," as the Cockneys term it, on the
outside of a 'bus towards the sylvan park of Kennington, and, fired no
doubt by the lovely summer day, began--with more enthusiasm than
prudence--to discuss current topics with my neighbour on the "garden
seat." He was a well-mannered youth, and for a while I was much
edified by his conversation--until, that is, his sudden interjection
of "There's a taisty 'at a-crawsin' of the rowd," in some inexplicable
manner cooled me off.

Carlyle was a constant traveller by 'bus, which economy, it may be,
agreed well with his Scotch thriftiness. Mrs. Carlyle, on one of her
solitary returns to their Chelsea home, describes him as meeting her
by the omnibus, scanning the passengers (like the Peri at the gate)
from under his well-known old white hat. This white hat, even in
Carlyle's day, used to attract attention. "Queer 'at the old gent
wears," once remarked an unconsciously irreverent passenger to the
conductor of the Chelsea omnibus. "Queer 'at," retorted the conductor
reprovingly; "it may be a queer 'at, but what would you give for the
'ed-piece that's inside of it?"

Cabs are vastly more luxurious than omnibuses, but are to be rigidly
eschewed by the economical, except in cases where time is of as much
value as money. The fact is, that it is almost necessary to overpay
cabmen, and especially so if the "fare" be at all nervous. Hence it
has been said with some truth, that life, to be at all worth living in
London, should disregard extra sixpences. People of the Jonas
Chuzzlewit type may, indeed, take cabs to their utmost shilling
limits, but this is a proceeding hardly to be recommended to the
sensitive. For the average cabman is prodigal in retort, and not
generally reticent on the subject of imagined wrong. In the season
overpaying is more than ever necessary, while hiring "by the hour" is,
at least by the nervous, to be deprecated. The familiar device of
paying one penny per minute, though fair enough in fact, has been
characterised as "only possible to the hardened Londoner." Some people
make a practice of only overpaying the cabman when, like John Gilpin,
they are "on pleasure bent"; yet I do not know how the cabman is
supposed to divine their mission.

The hansom--"the gondola of London," as Disraeli called it--is far
preferable to the antiquated "four-wheeler" or "growler," a vehicle
which has never been really popular since Wainwright murdered Harriet
Lane, and inconsiderately carried about her mutilated body in one of
these conveyances, tied up in American cloth. True, hansoms have their
faults. Thus the hansom horse is sometimes afflicted with a mania for
going round and round in a manner which suggests his having been
brought up in a circus. Sometimes he does nothing but twist his head
back to look at his fare; sometimes he persists on turning into every
"mews" he passes; sometimes he jibs in a way altogether distracting to
a nervous passenger who can only, for the moment, behold the horse and
the driver; but still there is a "smartness" about the well-turned-out
hansom that cannot be gainsaid. The acme of smartness is, perhaps, a
private hansom with a liveried driver; these, however, are
exclusively seen in the haunts of fashion. It is, perhaps, well for
the London resident to be liberally inclined, for in an incredibly
short space of time his or her "ways" become known to the cab-driving
community, and facilities for getting cabs largely depend on their
verdict. It may be added that if the hansom-driver is inclined to be
pert (a natural inclination, considering the height of his elevation
above the general public), more generally the "growler" is morose, and
given to a huskiness that is suggestive of that abode of light and
polished brass--the "poor man's club."

[Illustration: _The Hansom._]

The visitors to London vary, like the omnibus scents, with the varying
year. In the spring and early summer, it is the fashionable world that
mainly haunts its streets; in the later summer, the French, Italians,
Germans--especially Germans--flock with everlasting red Baedekers
(indeed, in the London streets in August, you but rarely hear your own
language spoken); in autumn, it is chiefly Americans who abound,
provided with all "Europe" in the compass of one guide-book; in
January the country cousins, and thrifty housewives generally, come up
for the day, armed with lists of alarming length, to swell the crowds
at the winter sales.

One of the things that strikes the foreigner, new to England and
England's ways, most in London, is the regulation of the street
traffic. The innumerable vehicles that throng the highways of London,
every moment threatening, or seeming to threaten, a "block"; the
continuous rumble of many wheels,--omnibuses, cabs, drays, vans,
bicycles, motors,--all these, an apparently limitless force, are
stopped, as if by magic, by "the man in blue" simply holding up an
arm. All power, for the moment, is vested in him; he is here the one
authority against which there is no appeal. Under the protection of
the policeman's aegis, the most timid foot-passenger may pass in
perfect security; the flood will be stayed while his arm, like that of
Moses of old, is raised. And there is no such thing as disobedience.
Be the bicyclist never so bold, be the hansom-driver never so smart,
woe betide him if he disobey the mandate! Under the policeman's
faithful pilotage, the big crossings are safe; danger only lurks in
the smaller ones, where his presence is not felt. The "man in blue"
is, generally, a charming and urbane personage; if, in the exercise of
his calling, he sometimes chance to develop a certain curtness, it is,
perhaps, that he has in his time been overmuch badgered.... His
urbanity, as a rule, is marvellous; and in great contrast to that of
his continental brethren. In Germany, the officer of the law shakes
his list in people's faces; in France, he gesticulates wildly; in
Italy, he is timid and ineffectual; in England, he merely raises his
arm, and behold! like the gods on Olympus, he is obeyed.

Londoners are a curiously callous race, and are, as has been shown,
remarkably little interested in their neighbours. The fact is, their
life is much too busy for such interest. In the country, your
neighbours know everything you do, your business, your position, your
income even. In London, all that your neighbours know of you is that
you come and that you go; and, once gone, your place knows you no
more. Miss Amy Levy, who, more than any other poet, has expressed the
feeling of London streets, puts the idea well, in these most pathetic
lines:

  "They trod the streets and squares where now I tread,
   With weary hearts, a little while ago;
   When, thin and grey, the melancholy snow
   Clung to the leafless branches overhead;
   Or when the smoke-veiled sky grew stormy-red
   In autumn; with a re-arisen woe
   Wrestled, what time the passionate spring winds blow;
   And paced scorched stones in summer;--they are dead.

  "The sorrow of their souls to them did seem
   As real as mine to me, as permanent.
   To-day, it is the shadow of a dream,
   The half-forgotten breath of breezes spent.
   So shall another soothe his woe supreme--
   No more he comes, who this way came and went."
                                         (_A London Plane-Tree._)

The Londoner dies--the great bell of St. Pancras may toll out his
sixty years, or the deep tones of Westminster call to his memorial
service; yet none the less a dance is given at the house next door,
and the immediate neighbours know not of the death until they see the
hearse and the long row of funereal trappings. Truly was it said, that
in a crowd is ever the greatest solitude! The mighty pulse of London,
that

  "Of your coming and departure heeds,
   As the Seven Seas may heed a pebble cast,"

beats on just the same though you are gone. The vast machine grinds
out its daily life, the propellers work, the wheels of Juggernaut
hum, while, like a poor moth, you spin your little hour in the sun,
and then go under. This terrible desolation of London has resulted,
and still results, in many a tragedy, bitter as that of young
Chatterton, the boy poet, found dead in a Brooke Street garret:

                ... "the marvellous boy,
  The sleepless soul that perished in his pride...."

[Illustration: _A Doorstep Party._]

London, the "stony-hearted stepmother," as De Quincey called Oxford
Street--has many a time given her children stones for bread. Many are
the men and women, poets, authors, journalists, actors, who come up to
the vast city, attracted by "the deceitful lights of London," to
starve in Soho or Bloomsbury garrets (Bloomsbury, to which place, it
is said, more MSS. are returned than to any other locality in the
British Isles). Too proud to beg, too sensitive to fight, they soon
become ousted in the struggle for life, and very often get pushed
altogether out of the ranks; or, if they do succeed, are soured by
years of trial and suffering. The biographies of successful men
sometimes tell of such early struggles: but of the many who are not
successful, the submerged ones, you do not hear. Some of the
Bloomsbury and Bayswater boarding-houses afford sad evidence of
retrenched fortunes and squalid lives. The ragged window blind, the
dirty tablecloth, covered always with remains of meals; the sad,
lined, discontented faces pressed close to the dingy panes, the
eternal smell of onions or fried fish, the general wretchedness and
frowsiness of everything--all tell tales of a sadder kind than those
of Dickens's Mrs. Tibbs or Mrs. Todgers. And, descending yet lower in
the social scale, individual cases become yet sadder. I once lived in
a London square, next door to an empty house. For two days a battered
corpse lay on the other side of the wall, in the garden, and no one
knew of it. It was only the poor caretaker left in the "mansion" who,
weary of existence, had herself severed the Gordian knot of life. And,
in the immediate neighbourhood of another square of "desirable
residences," no less than three murders was considered the usual
winter average--murders, too, of the worst and most squalid type.
Such, in London, is the close juxtaposition of "velvet and rags,"
luxury and misery. London is the refuge of blighted lives, of the
queer flotsam and jetsam of humanity. Where can they all come from?
and what were their beginnings? Among such waifs and strays do I
recall one old man--feeble, pitiful, wizened, who carried an empty
black bag, and stretched it out towards me appealingly. The contents,
if any, of the black bag, I never discovered; but I often gave him a
penny, simply because he was so unutterably pathetic. He is gone now,
and his place knows him no more. But he always haunts my dreams. And
the afflicted girl--white-faced and expressionless--who sat for many
years close to the "Horse-Shoe" of Tottenham Court Road (indeed, she
may sit there still), her face calm as that of a Caryatid, as though
oblivious of Time and inured to suffering, through all the noise and
tumult of drovers' carts and omnibuses; she has often seemed to me as
a type of the eternal, dumb sorrow of humanity.

Yet this isolation of London, terrible as it is for the poor and
suffering,--is,--for the well-to-do class at least,--in some ways
advantageous. For one thing, it allows more liberty of action;--for
another, it prevents any undue personal pride. It is, fortunately,
rare indeed for the individual to be as conceited in London as he is
in the provinces. True,--London has occasional æsthetic crazes and
literary fashions; but, as a rule,--and with the exception of special
cliques and coteries such as those of Chelsea and Hampstead,--people
are not unduly puffed up in London. The city, with its vast size, acts
as an automatic equaliser;--personality becomes lost,--and individuals
tend to find their proper level. The Londoner is apt to
realise,--that, in the words of Mr. Gilbert's song,--"he never would
be missed." Nowhere is there more liberty; no one even notices you as
you walk the streets. A man used, some years ago, to walk about the
Bloomsbury squares with long hair in be-ribboned pigtails, and in a
harlequin dress; the street-boys hardly marked him; even a Chinaman in
full costume only attracts a following of a few nursery-maids and
perambulators. But in London it really matters very little what you
do, or how you dress. Dress here is in fact immaterial, unless you are
bent on social successes. Eyes are not for ever scanning you
critically, as they do in country villages. And, for ladies who work
in slums and "mean streets,"--the safest plan is always to wear dark,
shabby, and quiet clothes--clothes that do not "assert themselves."
Otherwise, it is likely that she may be accosted as "dear" or
"Sally,"--invited to take "a drop o' tea," or otherwise chaffed by
rough women standing akimbo at street doors. This practice of standing
at doors and gossiping would appear, indeed, to be the main occupation
of women of the lower class; but, poor things! they enjoy it; and
their life, after all, must contain but few enjoyments. It is perhaps,
less certain that their babies enjoy the "cold step," on which they
are unceremoniously flopped at all hours of the day. An overdose of
"cold step" may, indeed, partially account for the bronchitis which
riddles the ranks of the children of the poor. You may see a family of
six slum children playing happily in the damp gutter one week; the
week following, you may find half of them dead or dying from a
visitation of this fell plague. To say that the children of London are
decimated by it would be putting the case much too mildly. The
mothers, however, take a different view. "She niver looked 'erself
agin sence that 'ere crool vaccination,"--a mother will say
placidly,--ignoring the cold step and the bronchitis that did the
work. "Cold step," indeed, to their minds, acts as a refreshing tonic;
they call it "bringin' 'im,--or 'er,--up 'ardy."

That "pity for a horse o'erdriven" that often catches you by the
throat in London streets,--is yet almost cast into the shade by the
far sadder lot of helpless humanity. 'Bus horses, at any rate, are
well fed,--to say nothing of their being worn out, and released from
their sufferings after an average period of four years; besides, you
can always comfort yourself by refusing to travel by 'bus (I have a
friend, indeed, who always vows that he will NOT on any consideration
make one of twenty-eight people for two horses to pull);--but it is
little or nothing you can do for the alleviation of the lot of the
slum babies. Sad indeed is the case of some of these. For, in some
dingy and romantically-named "Rose Lane,"--or "Marigold-Avenue,"--(the
filthier the London lanes, the more poetic their names),--baby-farms
flourish and spread. Once, I remember coming home sick at heart, from
a visitation of one such slummy "lane." In a dirty "two-pair back" I
found an old woman of witch-like aspect and doubtful sobriety, three
mangy cats, and two miserable "farmed" babies,--one an infant,
wretched, scrofulous, and covered with sores, lying on a dirty flock
bed, its eyes half-closed, in the last stage of exhaustion;--the other
a girl of two, wasted and cadaverous, sitting on the usual "cold
step," and gazing with pathetic and suffering eyes over to the
cabbage-laden and redolent gutter that, filthier far than any in
Italian town or foreign Ghetto, apparently did duty, in the middle of
the paved alley, as a common dustbin. (Truly, it well becomes us to
decry,--in this matter of cleanliness, our neighbours of Central
Europe!) I went away sadly; yet what could I have done? I could not
take the poor neglected babies home; even though they probably
belonged to girls who were not too regular in paying for their weekly
maintenance. Nothing short of bringing in the Law would have been of
any use, and I was not sure enough of my facts to do this. Yet that
elder child's pathetic and mournfully patient eyes still afflict my
memory.

Poor, little, neglected slum children! Miss Dorothy Tennant (Lady
Stanley), has by her unique art surrounded these waifs with all that
glamour of poetry and sentiment that had, by a foolish custom, been
hitherto exclusively reserved for the children of the rich. Even Du
Maurier always made his slum children ugly and repulsive. Nature,
however, knows no such differences. And,--apart from Miss Dorothy
Tennant's charming ragamuffins,--who has not stopped to admire, in
some back street, the graceful dancing of some half-dozen of small
ragged girls? girls in shocking shoes,--but who, nevertheless, hop so
delightfully, and with such sense of time and rhythm, to the wheezy
old organ, the wheeziest of its tribe, that they have inveigled into
their custom. Indeed, I have sometimes doubted whether the organ-man
does not himself engage the small girls to dance, as a catch-penny
_ruse_. They do difficult, intricate, ever-changing steps:

                  "advance, evade,
  Unite, dispart, and dally,
  Re-set, coquet, and gallopade,"

as Mr. Austin Dobson hath it.

It is not, indeed, only in hospital wards that the children of the
great city are pathetic. I have been moved (like Mrs. Meagles), almost
to tears, at the sight of a big Ragged School of small boys marching,
ten abreast, in perfect drill, in a large phalanx, numbering about
five hundred. Five hundred unwanted little human souls! each child, of
infant years, with no mother to love it; more destitute in a way than
even the slum baby, regarded as a cipher merely; it is surely a sight
pitiful enough to make the angels weep!

[Illustration: _Hop-scotch._]

All the street child's usual stock in-trade, in the way of toys, is
chalk (for drawing those incessant white squares on the pavement),
perhaps a few worn marbles, and a selection of old buttons. The
chalked squares, of course, refer to the ancient game of "hop-scotch,"
so called because the player in trying to get a stone into a square,
may only "hop" over the lines which are "scotched" or "traced" on the
ground. The London children often use, instead of stones, broken bits
of glass or crockery they call "chaneys"; and to own a private
"chaney" is considered, I believe, highly genteel. The familiar game
of "Tip-cat," and the skipping rope, have rival attractions; and great
enjoyment may be derived from a primitive swing--a bit of rope deftly
fixed between area rails or on lamp-posts. The pavement is the London
child's playground, for, though in some quarters a movement has, I
believe, been started for opening some few of the select "squares" to
poor children at certain days and hours, it would not appear to have
done much as yet. The pavement games and the Board Schools together
often produce a quite wonderful arithmetical sharpness: "The idea of
Em'ly gittin' a prize," I heard a ragged girl of tender years remark
contemptuously to her equally ragged companion, "_Em'ly!_ why, the
girl's a perfect fool; past ten year owld, and can't move the decimal
point!" Like other children, these little pariahs of the street have
their "make-believe" games; for instance, I have seen them look
longingly into toy-shop windows, and heard them talk to each other of
every article there, as though it were their own peculiar property; I
have also overheard them, sitting on a West-End doorstep, appropriate
the mansion thus: "Ain't this 'ere a fine 'ouse, M'ria? didn't know as
yer ma was sich a toff. When are y'going to arst me in to tea?" &c.,
&c. What matter if they pepper their speech continually with such
cockneyisms as "not me," "chawnce it," "you ain't no class"; they are
generally sweet English children all the same, and immeasurably
superior to their surroundings. And such surroundings as they are!

     "Our street" (as a little Board School boy described his
     home in an essay), "is a long lane betwixt two big streets.
     Our street is not so clean as the big streets, coz yer
     mothers throws the slops and things in the gutter, and
     chucks bits of _Lloyds_ and cabbige leaves in the middle of
     the road. That's why there's allus a funny smell down our
     street, speshally when it's hot."

Another such essay thus describes a London "Bank Holiday":

     "They call this happy day Bank Holiday, becose the banks
     shut up shop, so as people can't put their money in, but has
     to spend it. People begin talking about Bank Holiday a long
     time afore it comes, but they don't begin to spree about
     much till the night afore.... Bank Holidays are the happiest
     days of your life, becose you can do nearly what you like,
     and the perlice don't take no notice of you.... There's only
     one thing as spoils Bank Holiday, and that is not being fine
     and hot. When it's wet all the gentlemen get savige and
     fight one another, and pull their sweetarts and missises
     about. I'm very sorry for them all round, becose it is a
     shame for to see. But when it's fine and hot, the gentlemen
     all larf and are kind, and the women dance about and drink
     beer like the gentlemen. Everybody's right, and boys don't
     get skittled round."

But, of course, the Board Schools have done, and are doing, much to
improve the rising generation. It is no small tribute to them that
into whatever slum or rough district you elect to go, you are safe if
you surround yourself with a bodyguard of street children. And for the
matter of that, even that pariah of the schools, the London street
arab, is with his "pluck" and general resourcefulness, distinctly
attractive. Have not Dickens and other novelists adopted him as their
hero? All honour to him if he outgrow his base surroundings; small
wonder if he is like poor Tip, "of the prison prisonous and of the
streets streety." Quickwitted, idle, and hardened to privation, he
may, when he grows up, turn to honest work, or he may sink into a
"loafer,"--one of those mysterious beings who arise, as out of thin
air, from the empty street whenever a four wheel cab, with its burden
of boxes, arrives at its destination.

[Illustration: _The Return, Bank Holiday._]

The conversation of the London working man hardly, perhaps, shows him
at his best. The familiar but very unpleasant adjective that
invariably greets your ears as you walk behind him, is in the main its
distinguishing element, and, notwithstanding its more or less
classical derivation (from "by'r Lady"), it is somewhat too suggestive
for squeamish ears. Besides, from the frequency of its use, it would
appear to mean nothing at all, but simply to be a foolish habit that
cannot even plead the excuse of Cockneyism.

What, by-the-way, is the derivation of the term "Cockney"? Its
beginnings, as usual in etymological questions, are abstruse; for
instance, the word began by meaning a "a cockered child"; then it was
synonymous for "a milksop," "an effeminate fellow"; then, (16th
cent.), "a derisive appellation for a townsman as the type of
effeminacy, in contrast to the hardier inhabitants of the country."
Then it became "one born in the city of London, within sound of Bow
Bells"; a Bow-Bell Cockney being always a term "more or less
contemptuous or bantering, and particularly used to connote the
characteristics in which the born Londoner is supposed to be inferior
to other Englishmen."

     According, however, to an old writer, the term "cockney"
     arose thus: "A Cittizen's sonne riding with his father into
     the Country, asked when he heard a horse neigh, what the
     horse did; his father answered, the horse doth neigh; riding
     further he heard a cocke crow, and said, doth the _cocke
     neigh_ too? and therefore Cockney or Cocknie, by inversion
     thus: _incock_, q. _incoctus_, i., raw or unripe in
     Country-man's affaires."

Some Cockneyisms are frankly puzzling, some are actually startling.
Factory girls are specially prodigal of them. Now, the average factory
girl is often rather a rough diamond, but there is really no harm in
her when once you get used to her ways. She has, it is true, an
embarrassing habit of shouting into the ear of the inoffensive
passer-by; she may even (if she happen, as frequently occurs, to be
walking with two others, three abreast) try to push you into the
gutter; but this is simply her fresh exuberance of spirits; she means
no ill by it. And her frank utterances are not always rudely meant.
For instance, the Cockney remark, "You are a fine old corf-drop, you
are!" may even leave the person addressed in some bewilderment as to
whether it be a compliment or an insult. It means, however, merely,
that you are an "innocent," an ignoramus, a tyro in the ways of the
world. "'Ere's a fine fourpenny lot!" or "Where did you get that 'at?"
seem, on the other hand, to sound a more distinctly aggressive note.
Next to factory-girls and flower-girls, costermongers talk, perhaps,
the raciest "cockney." I once knew an old flower-man with a wonderful
gift of the gab, who was always persuading me to sell him my husband's
old boots, or "a' old skirt for the missus" for some pot of
depressed-looking fern. "Did y' ever see sich fine plants?" he will
cry admiringly of his barrow-full; "all growed up in cold air, I don't
tell you no story. Wy, a gent larst year as kep' a mews, 'e bought a
box 'o stershuns orf o' me, an' this year 'e come back an' said as 'e
didn't wawnt no more o' that sort, cos wy? they blowed too well, they
did, and made 'is winders look that toffy, as 'is landlord see 'em,
and 'is rent wus riz on 'im. Now, this 'ere cherry-pie, you niver see
sich bewties, got real stalks an' roots, _they_ 'ave; been kep' warm
under the children's bed, down our court; 102, Little Red Fox Yard;
kep' in they wuz, cos of the rain; and blimy if they don't look all
the better for it!"

The flower-girls have perhaps less voluble "patter," but their cry,
"Fine Market Bunch!" "'Ere y'are!" is no less patiently reiterated.
The London flower-girl, good-looking as she often is, is yet, perhaps,
hardly an ideal embodiment of the goddess Flora. To begin with, she is
generally enveloped in a thick, rough, unromantic, fringed shawl, and
wears an enormous black hat with a still more enormous feather, the
latter in sad need of curling. Her abundant hair is coiled loosely on
to the nape of her neck, and hangs, in a thick black fringe, over her
eyes and ears; anything more totally unlike the dainty, slim, Venetian
flower-girl can hardly be imagined. Some kind ladies did, indeed, get
up a benevolent scheme for providing London flower-sellers with neat
dresses, bonnets, and hats; two or three women, garbed in this
costume, may still occasionally be seen at London's principal
flower-mart, Oxford Circus. But Londoners are a conservative race, and
it is, I imagine, doubtful if the recipients themselves much
appreciate these gifts.

[Illustration: _Flower Girls._]

The organ-grinders who delight so many humble folk, and enrage and
afflict so many of the richer class, mostly hail from Hatton Garden
and its immediate neighbourhood. The street organ,--"piano-organ" as
its proud possessor generally terms it,--is usually the sole support
of the family. The organ-grinders are, as a rule, Italian; and are
generally to be seen in their picturesque native costume. The organ,
however, requires, to catch many pennies, one, at least, of two useful
adjuncts; viz., a baby in a cradle, or a dressed-up monkey. The baby
sleeps peacefully through the noisiest tunes (what nerves of iron that
child must possess!), the monkey dances and postures, even climbing up
the area railings. Even in places where the organ-man is cursed, he
often reaps a rich harvest of pennies, paid him to go away. Each organ
has its special "pitches," its settled rounds. Thus, coming early from
Hatton Garden, they will frequent Bloomsbury, say at 9 A.M., and work
slowly towards the West End and back, to give the boarding houses in
Bedford Place yet another serenade by the light of the setting sun.
When once started, the organ-man is pitiless in giving you his whole
repertoire. Poor John Leech! it is said that they helped to aggravate
the lingering illness of which he died. But there can be no doubt that
they lighten the drab, unlovely lives of the London poor.

  "Children, when they see thy supple
   Form approach, are out like shots;
   Half-a-bar sets several couple
   Waltzing in convenient spots.

  "Not with clumsy Jacks or Georges;
   Unprofaned by grasp of man
   Maidens speed those simple orgies
   Betsey Jane with Betsey Ann."

German bands at street corners,--drum-and-fife bands organised by
local talent,--all help, at nightfall, to swell the vast volume of the
noise of London.

There is one day in the week, however, when silence--a silence that
can almost be oppressive--hangs over the entire city, and not even the
sound of the organ-grinder varies the dulness of the monotonous
streets. This is Sunday, a day which strikes terror to the heart of
the uninitiated foreigner. M. Gabriel Mourey thus feelingly describes
it:

     "That English Sunday, which so exasperates the French, gives
     them, from mere recollection, an attack of the spleen, a fit
     of yawning.... Yet to me there is something comforting about
     it. It is really a day of rest, of compulsory rest, of rest
     against one's will; a day when it is simply impossible to do
     otherwise than rest; it is an obligatory imprisonment which
     at first revolts the prisoner, but which, if he control his
     feelings, he will, at the end of an hour or so, find not
     without its charm. To know for certain that no whim, no
     fancy for outside amusement can distract you, no theatrical
     temptation, no yearning for active life can assail you, to
     be assured that you are protected from the Unforeseen, be it
     happy or sad, from a letter even--that, in short, it is for
     the moment impossible to do anything _useful_,--all this
     gives you a tranquil security, a serene and healthful calm
     of twenty-four hours, a calm of which we in France, and
     especially of Paris, do not know the boon.... And if, in the
     evening, you venture on to the deserted streets, you can
     pass freely on your way; no one will interrupt your walk; it
     is like a dead city; all trace of the life and activity of
     the six past days has vanished."'

And here is another, and a still more depressing picture, from the
same author:

     "In this immense and respectable cemetery into which London
     is metamorphosed on Sundays, some characteristic and amusing
     beggars patrol the streets. Two old people, a man and his
     wife, stop at a street corner. The man takes a wretched
     violin out of an old black cloth bag. The woman sings. What
     a voice! a hungry voice of chilly misery, which issues,
     bitter and shrill, from her toothless mouth. Though the
     weather is warm, she seems to shiver beneath her ragged
     shawl. The violin grates on obstinately. The man is tall,
     with a kind of remains of grandeur in his torn coat-tails,
     and in his face, still haughty, though greasy and bloated.
     Some passers-by have stopped, and some pence have dropped
     into the old woman's dirty, wasted hand. The man, still
     drawing his violin bow, looks round, satisfied, on the
     treasure.... Six o'clock strikes from a steeple near; they
     suddenly desist, she from her singing, he from the scraping
     of his miserable instrument, and they go off to swell the
     little crowd which awaits, at the public-house doors, the
     sixth stroke of six,--the re-opening of the house where
     drunkenness, the cure of hunger-pain, is to be cheaply
     bought."

Such tragedies, such pitiful sights, wring the heart every day,
"whene'er I take my walks abroad" in the streets of London. "How the
poor live," indeed! Some of the London waifs would find it hard to
tell you how they do live! The day often divided between the street
and the public-house; the night, perhaps, spent in the shelter of the
"fourpenny doss"; and withal, a delightful uncertainty about the
possibilities of dinner and breakfast. Selling penny toys in the
street in the winter months must be chilly work; and even in the hot
days of August, when the pavements blister in the sun, and American
and German tourists throng the streets with their Baedekers, it must
have its drawbacks. As to the "fourpenny doss," its discomforts are
probably mainly owing to its inmates. The common lodging-houses are
often comparatively clean, with a big, central, well-warmed kitchen,
presided over by a "deputy." But, of course, where many individuals
are herded together in big dormitories, pickpockets will abound;
pickpockets, too, abandoned enough to thieve even from other human
wastrels. The shelter of the "casual ward" is ever held to be the last
resource. A charwoman whom I once knew, a witty and charming
lady,--talented, too, in her _métier_, but alas! I fear, of the "Jane
Cakebread" type,--often complained to me of the horrors she had
endured there. "It's downright crool," she would say with tears in her
eyes, "the way them nurses treats yer. Fust, you 'as to be washed; an'
washed you must be; there's no gittin' away from it. An' your' ed,
too! It's 'Dip your 'ed in,' and dip it you must, will or no. An' with
so much dippin' my 'earin's fair gorn." As for the compulsory oakum
picking, the lady minded it not at all. "I didn't never tike much
count on it," she said; "but there, my 'ands is 'ardened like."

One word of warning to the wise. Do not, in the mistaken kindness of
your heart, take (as Mrs. Carlyle did to her subsequent repentance) to
your own home, children that appear to be "lost"; or at least only do
so under very exceptional circumstances. When children tell you that
they are lost, they are usually only frightened. "Bless your 'art," a
kindly policeman once said to me, "they'll find their way 'ome safe
enough, if you only leave 'em where they are." Even if really lost,
the best place for the stray child is, after all, the police station,
"and" (to quote a Mrs. Gamp-like member of the force), "well they
knows it, the little dears--well they knows as the orficer is always
their best friend." If you do take the child home, it will prove--as
it did to Mrs. Carlyle--as great a riddle as the Sphinx. Once I did
this. I took a lost infant home, indulged it in nuts, oranges, buns,
and picture books; yet still the wretched child howled, refusing, like
Rachel, to be comforted; and I found out to my cost that I had better
have left it alone. (Perhaps the too unaccustomed neatness of my room
distressed it, or the absence of the friendly and familiar "washing.")
But once again was I strongly tempted to play the good Samaritan.
Returning home on a winter's day, I met, in a "mean street," two
children--boy and girl, of seven and eight years--crying bitterly. I
interrogated them as to the cause of their tears:

"Our school's burnt down," the boy said betwixt his sobs, "and we
can't get in there to-day."

A compulsory holiday seemed a feeble reason for howls. "Why don't you
go home and say so?" I inquired.

"'Cause--mother--she w--w--won't believe us," the youth sobbed. "She
said as she'd rive our livers out, if we ever humbugged her any more,
an' stopped away from school--and--and--_it's really burnt down this
time_!"

Terrible Nemesis, indeed, and worthy of Miss Jane Taylor's well-known
"moral poem,"--this unforeseen result of "giving Mamma false alarms!"

Burglars in London are not uncommon; they seem to know, by mere
predatory instinct, the houses where valuables and silver abound. It
is best to treat them, when found, gently but firmly. But if we feel
that we cannot all attain to the courage of the Gower Street matron
who held the thief by the collar till the police came, then we can at
least lock up safely and retire to rest, resolute to ignore all
suspicious sounds within the house. Casual morning visitors give, on
the whole, more trouble to the London householder. Old ladies, for
instance, in black silk that has seen better days, who are kindly
willing to sell to you, for the nominal sum of one and-six, an ancient
recipe for furniture polish, or smart and glib young men who call as
though they were old college friends, and who, only after some
half-hour's discussion of the state of Europe or the weather, divulge
to you the fact that they came as agents for a tea firm. Then there
are the itinerant vendors of tortoises, with barrow-loads of the poor
distressed creatures. "Wonnerful things for beadles, 'm! eat a beadle
as soon as look at 'im"--a thing they seldom, if ever, do. And, on one
memorable occasion, a whole hour of my precious morning was taken up
by an elderly female who represented herself, I know not on what
grounds, as "a relative and scion of the late Sir Humphry Davy"! (I am
glad, on the scion's behalf, to be able to add that she did not also
appropriate the tea-spoons!)

Yet another factor in city life calls for remark. This is the newsboy
of London, a personality into which the street arab not infrequently
develops. He is a curious being, gifted with nine lives; I should
describe him as "a survival of the fittest." His raucous,
indescribably husky voice may be heard at every street corner, crying
either "Win-_ner_," or "Extra Spee-shul." Of late, the newsboys have,
however, battened on war. "Death o' Kroojer," one of them was bawling
one day, before the ex-President's oblivion. "Why are you shouting
what's not true?" I inquired kindly of the youthful delinquent,
"you've got plenty of lighting." "Shut up, you," the urchin retorted,
no whit abashed, "battles is played out!" I once asked a newsboy,
just as a matter of curiosity, what piece of news he had found paid
him best. "Wy, resignation o' Mr. Gladstone," was the prompt reply, "I
got meself a new pair o' boots outer that." The familiar and oft
reiterated cry, "'Orrible Murder!" has, especially since "Jack the
Ripper" days, been sacred to the calm of Sunday evenings, when men of
the roughest class take the place of boys, and generally cry bogus
news. It is a curious fact, which says much for the weakness of human
nature, that the householder can rarely resist the temptation of
buying a Sunday evening paper, even though he knows well, from bitter
experience, that the news cried is almost invariably false.

The curious indifference to other people's affairs that, as already
mentioned, characterises the Londoner,--shows itself also in a certain
want of public spirit. There is, naturally, very little of the proud,
local, personal feeling that the villager and the small townsman so
often feels. The Londoner, on the contrary, is usually self-centred,
unsociable, phlegmatic, narrow. This pleasing quality foreigners
politely excuse in him by calling it "the spleen," and account it,
indeed, a kind of result of the London fog on character. The fog, or
"London particular," as that incorrigible cockney, Sam Weller, called
it, is thus described by a trenchant French satirist, Max O'Rell:

     "The London fog, of universal reputation, is of two kinds.
     The most curious, and at the same time the less dangerous,
     is the black species. It is simply darkness complete and
     intense at mid-day. The gas is immediately lighted
     everywhere, and when this kind of fog remains in the upper
     atmospheric regions, it does not greatly affect you. It does
     not touch the earth, and the gas being lighted, it gives you
     the impression of being in the street at ten o'clock at
     night. Traffic is not stopped; the bustle of the city goes
     on as usual. The most terrible of all is the yellow fog,
     that the English call pea-soup. This one gets down your
     throat and seems to choke you. You have to cover your mouth
     with a respirator, if you do not wish to be choked or seized
     with an attack of blood-spitting. The gas is useless, you
     cannot see it even when you are close to the lamp. Traffic
     is stopped. Sometimes for several hours the town seems dead
     and buried.... When the sun makes his appearance he is
     photographed, that folks may not forget what he is like."

Another Frenchman, M. Gabriel Mourey, describes the fog more
picturesquely:

     "The frenzied, unbridled activity of the City" (he says)
     "loses half its brutality under the mantle of fog.
     Everything seems to be checked, to slacken into a
     phantom-like motion that has all the vagueness of
     hallucination. The sounds of the street are muffled; the
     tops of the houses are lost, hardly even guessed; the lower
     and first floors are, apparently, all that exist: behind the
     shop-fronts, a light vapour floats, giving to the goods
     exposed for sale something of age and disuse. Everything
     shares, in a fashion, in the solidity and heaviness of the
     atmosphere. The openings of the streets swallow up, like
     tunnels, a crowd of foot-passengers and carriages, which
     seem, thus, to disappear for ever. The trains that cross
     Ludgate Hill wander off into emptiness on a cloud. St.
     Paul's resembles some monumental mass of primitive times, at
     the foot of which the human ant-heap swarms, ridiculous in
     size, of a mean and pitiable activity. Nevertheless, they
     are innumerable, a compact army, these miserable little
     human creatures; the struggle for life animates them; they
     are all of one uniform blackness in the fog; they go to
     their daily task, they all use the same gestures, and every
     step that they take brings them nearer to death. How many
     millions of men for centuries have followed the same road?
     and how many millions will follow it in the future, when
     these of to-day shall have finished their course? But the
     clouds settle down; they rain themselves on to the ground in
     black masses; the sky descends among men, and covers them as
     with an immense funereal pall."

Londoners are always very quick to "catch on" with the latest "craze";
they tire of it, however, also with proportionate rapidity. Thus, the
hero of May is often forgotten by November, even if he have not
already become a villain by that time. Therefore, with Londoners, it
is best to take the ball on the hop, and gather roses, so to speak,
while you may. A catch-word is in every one's mouth one winter; it is
quite forgotten by next summer. Even a wildly popular new novel has
only a "quick sale" of a few short weeks; and may then be altogether
ousted in favour of a newer aspirant. The great city is notoriously
fickle and wayward in her favours.

Mr. Charles Booth, and his fellow-workers, have, with infinite labour
and trouble, sifted and sorted the population of London into varying
classes of wealth and poverty, of toil, crime, and leisure. The
results of this work, which have reduced the heterogeneous elements of
London population to order as with a fairy's wand, are very
interesting as well as instructive. The results are hardly encouraging
to would-be immigrants from the country; and it is, perhaps, fortunate
that there are still some rustics who hold the great metropolis in
horror, and would not on any account venture near it. This I can
endorse from personal experience. For, only last year, I happened to
express to a well-educated, intelligent, small farmer of some forty
years of age, my surprise that he had never yet thought well to make
the short three hours' journey from his native town to London. He
seemed, however, quite contented with his ignorance. "No," he
remarked, in answer to my wondering question, "I ain't never bin
there, nor yet 'as the missus; and, from all I 'ear, we're best away
from sich places."



[Illustration: _The Men in Blue._]

CHAPTER XVIII

THE STONES OF LONDON

  "Let others chaunt a country praise,
   Fair river walks and meadow ways;
   Dearer to me my sounding days
           In London town:
   To me the tumult of the street
   Is no less music, than the sweet
   Surge of the wind among the wheat,
           By dale or down."--_Lionel Johnson._

  "I pray you, let us satisfy our eyes
   With the memorials, and the things of fame,
   That do renown this city."--_Shakespeare._


What book has ever been written, nay, has ever attempted to be
written, about the general architecture of London? The largest city in
the world,--the metropolis of many cities in one city,--the aggregate
of a hundred towns, each as big as Oxford, as Cambridge, as
Winchester,--why should its stones be thus neglected? And, except for
a sprinkling of traditional gibes, an annual dole of scornful
references, what attention does the architecture of London receive
from its inhabitants? or, indeed, from outsiders? Every one, on the
contrary, considers himself at liberty to fling a stone at it. Such
titles as "Ugly London," "The Uglification of London," are "stock"
leaders for paragraphs in daily papers. It is a well-known fact that
nothing new can be raised in the city without drawing upon itself the
scathing remarks and innuendoes of a too-critical, and generally
ignorant, public. Londoners are proverbially ungrateful; they also
think it fine, and superior, to cavil at their works of art. Mr.
Gilbert designs a Florentine fountain in Piccadilly Circus; the very
'bus-conductors fling their handful of mud at it as they pass; the new
Gothic Law Courts arise in the Strand, to be freely criticised, and
vituperated not only by every budding architect, but also by every
"man in the street"; the City Powers erect a Temple Bar Memorial
Griffin, and nothing less than their heads, it is felt, should with
propriety go to adorn the monument of their crass Philistinism. A
scheme is proposed for an addition to the cloisters of Westminster,
and a public-spirited citizen offers to carry it out at his own
expense: he is promptly fallen foul of, as a desecrator of the shade
of Edward the Confessor, by the united force of the press. It is hard,
indeed, in these critical days to be a philanthropist!

And not only are we thus critical to works of our own day, but also to
those of the past. Old London, no less than New London, is gibed at
and mocked. "A province in brick," "a squalid village," "a large wen";
such are only a few among the epithets that have from time to time
been hurled at it by men and women of letters. And yet, looking at the
matter calmly and without prejudice,--are London stones, indeed, so
unworthy, so poor, so inglorious?

In respect of its architecture, as in nearly every other respect,
London suffers, primarily, from its vast size. "One cannot see the
forest for the trees." What chance has Italian cupola, Doric portico,
Gothic gable, so crowded and overpowered in the busy mart of men and
of things? And how many people, in the whirl and rush of London, even
_look_ at the surrounding buildings at all? Ask the ordinary person
what the dominating architecture of London is; he or she will very
probably be unable to make a suggestion on the matter, for the simple
reason that the question never occurred to them in all their lives
before. And, indeed, it is in any case a difficult question to answer.
In this vast conglomeration of houses, houses built mainly for utility
and not for beauty, it is difficult to see at first anything but
heterogeneous chaos; all seems "a mighty maze, without a plan"; and
the really noteworthy buildings are apt to be missed. The few Norman
or Saxon antiquities may well be passed over, and even a "gem of
purest ray serene" such as Staple Inn, may be overlooked in the
general bustle of busy Holborn. To the large body of shoppers from the
country and suburbs, "London" is represented satisfactorily, and
finally, by the gay thoroughfares of Regent Street and Oxford Street;
"the part where the shops are." And the white gleaming river, crossed
by its many bridges, encircling the black causeways,--the long line of
the Embankment, the Westminster towers at one end of it, the dome of
St. Paul's on the other,--are, possibly, all that remains of London in
the mind of the average Londoner; his view of it more or less
resembling Byron's:

  "A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping,
     Dirty and dusky, but as wide as eye
   Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping
     In sight, then lost among the forestry
   Of masts; a wilderness of steeples peeping
     On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy;
   A huge, dun cupola, like a foolscap crown
   On a fool's head--and there is London Town!"

Why should we, the travellers of the world, who so admire other
cities, so persistently pour obloquy on our own? It is true that
London, on a day of east wind, when the sky is leaden, when suffering
is writ large on the faces of poor humanity, and when dirty tracts of
paper, notwithstanding the Borough Councils, blow about in all
directions, is hardly inspiring; and on a wet day, or a day of fog,
when pedestrians peer vainly through that "light which London takes
the day to be," and suffering 'bus and dray horses slide and stagger,
in the peculiar glutinous composition termed "London mud," through the
murky thoroughfares, it can scarcely be said to be at its best. But
then, neither are Paris nor Berlin prepossessing under like
circumstances.... Paradise itself would be at a discount!

But, on fine days of spring or summer, days when the May sun, with
"heavenly alchemy," transforms the dust in the atmosphere to
gold,--when the slight haze of a London summer but adds to pictorial
charm,--does not the great city seem a very Eldorado? Days such as
these surely inspired Mr. Henley's _London Voluntaries_; soot, fog,
grime are all forgotten; the city sparkles like a many-faceted
diamond, and

  "Trafalgar Square
     (The fountains volleying golden glaze)
   Shines like an angel-market. High aloft
   Over his couchant lions in a haze
   Shimmering and bland and soft,
   A dust of chrysoprase,
   Our Sailor takes the golden gaze
   Of the saluting sun...."

Yet it is, on the whole, not so much ourselves, as foreigners and
colonials, who are and have been the harshest critics of London
stones. The colonists of Melbourne, accustomed to their own straight,
wide streets, are shocked at our narrow, tortuous, and inconvenient
city thoroughfares; the denizens of New York, fresh from their own
system of regular "blocks," their town of parallelograms, are amazed
at London's want of "plan." The French, recalling their tall, white
palaces of the Place du Louvre and the Rue de Rivoli, are surprised
no less at our prevailing soot and grime, than by the lack of
continuity in our streets, of conformity in our public buildings. So
depressed, indeed, was M. Daudet in our metropolis that he went so far
as to call Englishwomen "ugly"; the kindly and accomplished author
must really have suffered from "the spleen." So, also, must M. Taine,
when he unkindly likened Nelson, on the top of his column, to "a rat
impaled on the top of a pole," and added, further, that a swamp like
London was "a place of exile for the arts of antiquity." Not one of
these critics, be it observed, recognises either the "æsthetic value"
of soot, or the charm of irregularity. And see how, even when we do
try after conformity and classical regularity, they fall foul of us!
For instance, M. Gabriel Mourey, in his charming book on England,
_Passé le Détroit_, while admiring the beauty of Regent's Park, makes
somewhat scornful reference to those too-ambitious stucco terraces,
designed by Nash in the Prince Regent's time:

     "The turf of Regent's Park" (he says) "under that misty sun
     of the London summer, that gives both a vagueness to the
     horizon and an indefinite enlargement to the immense city
     ... the turf of Regent's Park, with its depths of real
     country, notwithstanding the 'new Greek' lines of the big
     houses appearing in the distance--Greek lines that harmonise
     so badly with that northern sun."

Equally severe is M. Taine, the accomplished and broad-minded critic.
Hear his condemnation of one of our finest palaces:

     "A frightful thing is the huge palace in the Strand, which
     is called Somerset House. Massive and heavy piece of
     architecture, of which the hollows are inked, the porticoes
     blackened with soot, where, in the cavity of the empty
     court, is a sham fountain without water, pools of water on
     the pavement, long rows of closed windows--what can they
     possibly do in these catacombs? It seems as if the livid and
     sooty fog had even befouled the verdure of the parks. But
     what most offends the eyes are the colonnades, peristyles,
     Grecian ornaments, mouldings, and wreaths of the houses, all
     bathed in soot; poor antique architecture--what is it doing
     in such a climate?"

We give up the whole defence of the Regent's Park houses; yet, surely,
poor Somerset House was hardly deserving of all this satire! Somerset
House, though its river frontage is inadequate and lacking in dignity,
yet testifies to the ability of its eighteenth-century architect, Sir
William Chambers. The older palace of Protector Somerset, that English
prison where two poor foreign queens, Henrietta Maria and Catherine of
Braganza, languished in desolate grandeur, has given place to an
imposing structure, a community of Inland Revenue, a Circumlocution
Office on a vast scale. Situated at the Strand end of Waterloo Bridge,
its condemned river façade looms, nevertheless, attractively in
gleaming whiteness, across the water--a whiteness to which the
encroaching soot that the French writers complain of only lends
picturesque setting.

M. Taine, however, had evidently no eye for sooty effects. To him,
that mystic view from the river bridges, that view that inspired his
best sonnet in Wordsworth, a "nocturne" in Mr. Whistler, and immortal
art in the boy Turner, has to him merely "the look of a bad drawing in
charcoal which some one has rubbed with his sleeve."

While London's natural and primitive instinct is perhaps toward
Gothic architecture ("the only style," says M. Taine of Westminster
Abbey, "that is at all adapted to her climate,") yet, no doubt, the
prevailing note of her architecture is its cosmopolitanism. It is
her misfortune, as well as her glory, to show every kind of feverish
architectural craze and style in close juxtaposition--Gothic,
Renaissance, Norman, Greek, and Early English. Ardent spirits have,
at various times, sought to erect in her streets the oriflammes of
other nations, quite regardless of suitability or appropriate
setting. Italian spires and cupolas that would adorn their native
valleys, and shine, gleaming pinnacles of white,--landmarks to the
wandering peasant over the intervening black forest of pines,--are
here crowded, perhaps, between a fashionable "emporium" and a modern
hotel; Doric temples, such as should stand aloof in lonely grandeur
each on its tall Acropolis, here are sandwiched, maybe, between a
model dairy-shop and a fashionable library; Renaissance palaces
that, by the waters of Venice, would reflect their arches and
pillars in a sunny, golden glow, here confront blackened statues of
square-toed nineteenth-century philanthropists,--or, more prosaic
still, a smoke-breathing London terminus!

Yet, while we concede the Gothic style to be more in keeping with
London skies and spirits, it is, nevertheless, difficult to say which
of her styles is most dominant--for all, truly, have been dominant in
their day. For London, in this respect, has been the victim of
succeeding fashions; over her resistless and long-suffering mass have,
in every new age and decade,

  "Bards made new poems,
   Thinkers new schools,
   Statesmen new systems,
   Critics new rules."

Nearly every decade of the past two centuries can be traced by the
scholar in London streets and monuments. Nay, from the time of the
Great Fire, when Wren, that master spirit in architecture, rose in his
strength, and undertook to rebuild sixty destroyed churches,--the
progress, or falling off, of London in this art can be generally
traced in the metropolis. Wren, best known to posterity as the builder
of St. Paul's, was a remarkable figure of his robust time. Like the
magician of some old fairy tale, he caused a new and more beautiful
London to rise again from its ashes. Macaulay wrote of him:

     "In architecture, an art which is half a science ... our
     country could boast at the time of the Revolution of one
     truly great man, Sir Christopher Wren; and the fire which
     laid London in ruins, destroying 13,000 houses and 89
     churches, gave him an opportunity unprecedented in history
     of displaying his powers. The austere beauty of the Athenian
     portico, the glowing sublimity of the Gothic arcade, he was,
     like most of his contemporaries, incapable of emulating, and
     perhaps incapable of appreciating; but no man born on our
     side of the Alps has imitated with so much success the
     magnificence of the palace churches of Italy."

Wren's master-work, it may be said, is after all only imitative; St.
Paul's in London is but an adaptation of St. Peter's in Rome. But it
is a free adaptation, and in the grand style. Nor will any one be
disposed to deny the great architect's wealth of imagination,
originality and resource, who studies Wren's sixty City churches, none
of which, either in spire or church itself, is a duplicate of another.
Perhaps, among them all, it is the spire of St. Mary-le-Bow that, for
grace and beauty of design, bears away the palm.

For forty years no important building was erected in London in which
Wren was not concerned. That his wider plan for the regulating and
straightening of the streets themselves was not adopted we have,
perhaps, reason to be thankful. While nearly all the city spires
recall Wren's master-hand and versatile tastes, the Banqueting House,
that well-known palatial fragment in Whitehall, is the principal
monument left to us by Inigo Jones, Wren's immediate predecessor.
Inigo Jones is principally famous as the designer of that splendid
palace of Whitehall that was never built, that "dream-palace" of
Palladian splendour that was intended to replace the ancient "York
House" of Wolsey, the former "Whitehall" of the Tudors. The
river-front of this imagined palace, as designed by Inigo, would, in
its noble simplicity, have been a thing of beauty for all time; it is
to be regretted that the plan was never carried out. The civil
troubles of the impending Revolution, the want of money for so
grandiose a scheme, prevented the undertaking. The sole realisation of
the dream is now the old Banqueting House that we pass in Whitehall, a
building isolated among its neighbours, intended only as the central
portion of but one wing of the enormous edifice. Cruel, indeed, is the
irony of history, and little did James I., for whose glory this
magnificent palace was planned, think "that he was raising a pile from
which his son was to step from the throne to a scaffold." For this
very Banqueting House served later as Charles's vestibule on his way
to execution. With the final banishment of the Stuarts, Whitehall was
deserted as a Royal residence; and the old palace, destroyed by
successive fires, its picturesque "Gothic" and "Holbein" gateways
removed as obstructions, has in its turn made way for imposing
Government Offices. Yet the Banqueting House, sole and sad relic of a
vanished past, still stands solidly in its place, and is now used as a
Museum.

What, one imagines, would modern London have been had Inigo Jones's
plan found fruition, and the whole of Whitehall, from Westminster to
the Banqueting House, been given up to his palatial splendours? That
the present Buckingham Palace is but a poor substitute for such
imagined magnificence is certain, and the loss of Inigo's fine
Palladian river-frontage is perhaps hardly atoned for by the terrace
of our modern Houses of Parliament; yet these, too, are beautiful, and
Whitehall has not lost its palatial air; for its wide and still
widening streets, its spacious and imposing Government Offices, still
serve to keep up the illusion, and, at any rate, the state of royalty.
Already one of the handsomest streets in London, its buildings are
being yet further improved, and a new War Office of vast proportions
is rising slowly on the long-vacant plot of ground where, it was said,
three hundred different kinds of wild flowers lately grew, whose
yellow and pink blossoms used to wave temptingly before the eyes of
travellers on omnibus-tops.... Now, never more will flowers grow
there; no longer will the picturesque, green gabled roofs of
"Whitehall Court" look across to the fleckered sunlight of the
Admiralty and the Horse Guards. Instead, palatial buildings, something
after the Palladian manner of Inigo Jones's imagined Whitehall Palace,
will form a noble street, in a more or less continuous line of massive
splendour; a road of palaces, to be further dignified by the erection
of new and spacious Government Offices, near the Abbey, on the line of
the destroyed and obstructive King Street. When all the Whitehall
improvements are carried out, the dignity and beauty of London will
gain immensely, and the view down the long street of palaces,--the
Abbey, unobstructed by intervening buildings, shining like a star at
its Parliament Street end,--will be among the very finest sights in
the metropolis.

[Illustration: _The Horse Guards._]

If Inigo Jones, steeped in Italian art, was severely Palladian in
style, Wren, his successor, "a giant in architecture," was a
versatile and original genius. The quantity and the quality of his
work may well overpower a later age. "He paved the way," says
Fergusson, "and smoothed the path"; none of his successors have
surpassed if, indeed, equalled him. During the eighteenth century, the
Renaissance still held sway in architecture; James Gibbs, in 1721,
built the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, of which the Grecian
portico, says Mr. Hare, "is the only perfect example in London"; the
brothers Adam, of "Adelphi" fame, flourished, giving, with their
doorways, their fireplaces, their curves and arches, a new impulse to
the domestic architecture of their day; Sir William Chambers erected
Somerset House; and Sir John Soane, who in 1788 designed the present
Bank of England, was, with others of his contemporaries, a pioneer of
the coming classical revival. With the beginning of the nineteenth
century the change came, and architectural design in England
completely changed. Now the "new Greek lines" that, say the French,
"go so ill with our northern climate," became all the rage; the mild
Gothic of Wren, itself a "last dying echo," completely disappeared,
and Greek temples, "orders," pediments, columns, grew everywhere like
mushrooms. Nash, the architect of the Regency, the "Apostle of
Plaster," planned out Regent Street, a new road to extend from the
Prince's colonnaded mansion Carlton House, to the new Park named after
him: hence arose the Quadrant, and the Regent's Park terraces already
alluded to. All was Greek, everything was colonnaded, at that day:

     "Once the fashion was introduced it became a mania. Thirty
     or forty years ago no building was complete without a Doric
     portico, hexastyle, or octastyle, prostylar, or distyle in
     antis; and no educated man dared to confess ignorance of a
     great many very hard words which then became fashionable.
     Churches were most afflicted in this way: next to these came
     gaols and county halls, but even railway stations and
     panoramas found their best advertisements in these sacred
     adjuncts; and terraces and shop-fronts thought they had
     attained the acme of elegance when either a wooden or
     plaster caricature of a Grecian order suggested the
     classical taste of the builder."

Nash was the chief introducer of "stucco" (the covering of brick with
cement to imitate stone), which has since become so vulgarised
everywhere, and especially in the fashionable West End squares and
streets. Nash's tastes in this respect gave rise to the following
epigram:

  "Augustus at Rome was for building renowned,
   And of marble he left what of brick he had found;
   But is not our Nash, too, a very great master?
   He finds us all brick, and he leaves us all plaster."

All the great public buildings of the time shared in the classic
revival. The British Museum, built by the Smirkes in the first half of
the last century, at enormous expense, is the most successful
imitation of Ionic architecture in England. The style of the pediment
is after that of the Athenian Acropolis. Though critics object to it
that it has no suitable base, it is, nevertheless, an imposing
structure. The Greek portico of the London University Buildings, in
Gower Street, erected by Wilkins in 1827, is, says Fergusson, "the
most pleasing specimen of its class ever erected in this country." But
it is so secluded and recessed from the street, as to be hardly seen.
Its architect, Wilkins, had the misfortune to be chosen to erect our
much-abused National Gallery building, with its condemned
"pepper-boxes" of cupolas; the designer, however, was so hampered by
conditions and restrictions, as to be almost helpless in the matter.
The National Gallery, nevertheless, still stands on the finest site in
London, an object of scorn to visitors and foreigners.

But the ultra-classic craze, in London, burnt itself out at last in
one final flare. Of the innumerable buildings that still tell of the
extent of the mania, perhaps the most exaggerated is the church of New
St. Pancras, built after not one but several Athenian temples. It is a
strange medley of forms, a real nightmare of Greek art. Its tower is a
double reproduction of the "Temple of the Winds," one temple on the
top of the other: while its interior and its caryatids are modelled
on the Erechtheion. Poor caryatids, designed for the bright sunlight
of the Acropolis, and imprisoned, blackened and ogre-like, in the
dreary and muddy Euston Road! "Calm" you may be, in your
pre-surroundings, but hardly "far-looking"; for your view is
restricted (even if fog does not restrict it yet further) to the
uninspiring buildings of Euston Station opposite! Truly, they who
placed you here must have been somewhat lacking in sense of humour!
The double Tower of the Winds is not so unhappy as the poor caryatids;
it even looks well, in its height and its silvery greyness, seen over
the Tavistock Square trees, which hide its inadequate portico. The
failure of this incongruous church, added to its vast expense, brought
the final reaction from the classical fever; yet, from one extreme,
men directly rushed to the other.

The Gothic revival, as might be expected, set in severely; the classic
sculptors changed their style and became Gothic; new Gothic sculptors,
Pugin, Britton, and others, arose on the artistic firmament. Then, in
1840-59, Sir Charles Barry built the chief modern architectural
feature of London, the New Palace of Westminster, in the mediæval and
Tudor style. The small chapel of Henry VII. gave the idea for this
vast edifice. The enormous structure, so often criticised, is yet, to
judge by the many photographs and views annually sold of it, the most
popular building in London.

Even M. Taine, who consistently falls foul of all London architecture
that is not Gothic, speaks thus of it:

     "The architecture ... has the merit of being neither Grecian
     nor Southern; it is Gothic, accommodated to the climate, to
     the requirements of the eye. The palace magnificently
     mirrors itself in the shining river; in the distance, its
     clock-tower, its legions of turrets and of carvings are
     vaguely outlined in the mist. Leaping and twisted lines,
     complicated mouldings, trefoils and rose windows diversify
     the enormous mass which covers four acres, and produces on
     the mind the idea of a tangled forest."

The great Exhibition of 1851 gave, naturally, much impetus to the
enlargement, as well as the architecture, of London. And though the
English school of architects became somewhat more catholic in taste,
yet the Gothic style still held the public favour. Butterfield's
severe church of All Saints, Margaret Street, delighted the public
taste, and initiated the fashion for "Butterfield" spires; Scott's
church of St. Mary Abbott's, Kensington, was also popular. Would not
either of these be noticed, if "planted out" in an Italian valley? And
Street's well-known New Law Courts, in the Strand, built 1879-83, are
the latest expression of modern Gothic. Opinion is divided on the
subject of their merits, but undoubtedly they form, viewed from the
Strand, a fine pile of buildings.

What is called the "Queen Anne" building craze has set in strongly of
late years, its chief pioneers being the two architects,--Norman Shaw,
who built the picturesque mansion of Lowther Lodge, solidly fine in
its darkened red-brick, close to the Albert Hall,--and Bodley, who
designed the fine offices of the London School Board on the Thames
Embankment. Lowther Lodge is said to "exhibit very well the merits of
the best order of "Queen Anne" design of the domestic class"; its
successors are much more efflorescent. Everywhere now spring up
so-called "Queen Anne" mansions, streets, houses, public offices; and
red-brick, terra-cotta, nooks, ingles, casement windows are
multiplying _ad libitum_ all over the metropolis. Different styles
prevail at different times, and the "Queen Anne" wave just now
threatens to overwhelm us. Flats, stores, police-stations, hotels, all
are becoming "Queen Anne." Even if walls are still thin, even if the
jerry-builder is still to the fore, new streets are, none the less,
built in the "Queen Anne" manner; and the last stage of every craze is
worse than the first.

What, then, is the prevailing architecture of London? We have perused
its history; we have wandered through its streets, and have gazed on
all and every style of building. Decision ought to be easy. Yet it is
not so easy as it looks. In the Forum at Rome, you have to dig to find
out all the different strata of buildings--republican, monarchical,
imperial. In London, it is even more puzzling, for here you see them
all together, above ground, in close juxtaposition--Tudor, Stuart,
Hanoverian--it needs more than a magician's wand to relegate each to
its proper period in history. Wren's St. Paul's, the enormous Hotel
Cecil, the Whitehall Government Offices, the old timbered mansions in
Bishopsgate Street, Pennethorne's new Tudor Record office, the Railway
Architecture of Charing Cross and of Liverpool Street, the Aquarium
hung gaily with posters, the Savoy Hotel in white and gold--you have
them all, side by side. You pass through the prevailing stucco and
heavy porticoes of Belgrave Square,--the new red-brick and terra-cotta
of the Cadogan and Grosvenor Estates,--the stone dignity of Broad
Sanctuary,--the dull brick uniformity of Bloomsbury;--which style,
think you, suits your ideal London best?

But, while it may reasonably be matter for conjecture as to what
architectural style really suits London best,--or if, indeed, a
wholesome mixture of all styles be not a desideratum,--it seems,
perhaps, safe to say that it is the "dark house," in the "long,
unlovely street" of Tennyson's condemnation, of Madame de Staël's
vituperation,--that, in its dull uniformity, really occupies most of
the area of London. There are, of course, minor differences. In West
London, the "unlovely street" may flower into questionable stucco; in
East London, it may become lower, dingier, and meaner: but in original
intent all are the same. So monotonous, indeed, are they, that, in
secluded squares or corners, one welcomes joyfully an original
door-knocker, even such a door-canopy as that described in _Little
Dorrit_, "a projecting canopy in carved work, of festooned
jack-towels, and children's heads with water-on-the-brain, designed
after a once-popular monumental pattern." In interiors, these same
monotonous houses may all differ widely, though even here no universal
rule of taste can be laid down; and the little School Board boy who
said, naïvely, "Rich people's houses ain't nice inside; there is
books all round, and no washin'" unconsciously testified to the wide
differences entailed by "the point of view." In Mayfair, Westminster,
or Belgravia,--yes, even in Bloomsbury, one dull brick or stucco
house-front may present the same external gloom as another, and yet,
internally, may differ much from that other in glory. And this fact is
typical of poor as well as of rich London. An Englishman's house is
his castle, and Englishmen's tastes, as we know, are seldom much in
evidence. "Adam" ceilings, "Morris" tapestries, Pompeian courts, leafy
vistas, mediæval halls, "Queen Anne", "ingleneuks," all these may
surprise the visitor, when once the "Open sesame" has revealed to him
all that lies behind that magic front door that guards the Briton's
household gods from the vulgar glare of the street.

Even some of the treasure-houses of England's magnates,
merchant-princes, and collectors are curiously unsuggestive
externally. In this connection I may quote Mr. Moncure Conway's
description of the late Mr. Alfred Morrison's house in Carlton House
Terrace, adorned by the genius of Mr. Owen Jones:

     "The house" (he says) "is one of those large, square,
     lead-coloured buildings, of which so many thousands exist in
     London, that any one passing by would pronounce
     characteristically characterless. It repeats the apparent
     determination of ages that there shall be no external
     architectural beauty in London. Height, breadth, massiveness
     of portal, all declare that he who resides here has not
     dispensed with architecture because he could not command it.
     In other climes this gentleman is dwelling behind carved
     porticoes of marble and pillars of porphyry; but here the
     cloud and sky have commanded him to build a blank fortress
     and find his marble and porphyry inside of it. Pass through
     this heavy doorway, and in an instant every fair clime
     surrounds you, every region lavishes its sentiment; you are
     the heir of all the ages."

The street that Tennyson really designed in _In Memoriam_ was Wimpole
Street, surely not as ugly or as pretentious a street as many others
of the West End. Gower Street, too, was called unkindly by Mr. Ruskin
"the _nec plus ultra_ of ugliness in British architecture"; yet,
indeed, Bloomsbury houses, unfashionable as they are, seem by their
very plainness and want of adornment to maintain a certain dignity
that is unknown to those long rows of stucco catafalques of Kensington
and Belgravia, where, standing beneath the endless vista of projecting
porches, one's mind naturally turns to tombs and whited sepulchres.

The Bloomsbury houses are, at any rate, simple and inoffensive. Mr.
Moncure Conway, in a further passage, pleads the cause of London's
ugly residential streets:

     "Much is said from time to time about the ugliness of London
     street architecture ... the miles and miles of yellow-gray
     and sooty brick houses, each as much like the other as if so
     many miles of hollow block were chopped at regular
     intervals. And yet there is something so pleasant to think
     of in these interminable rows of brick blocks, that they are
     not altogether unpleasant to the eye. For they are houses of
     good size, comfortable houses; and their sameness, only
     noticeable through their vast number, means that the average
     of well-to-do-people in London is also vast. It implies a
     distribution of wealth, an equality of conditions, which
     make the best feature of a solid civilisation. There is much
     beauty inside these orange-tawny walls. Before any house in
     that league of sooty brick you may pause and say with fair
     security: In that house are industrious, educated people ...
     they have made there, within their mass of burnt clay, a
     true cosmos, where love and thought dwell with them: and
     between all that and a fine outside they have chosen the
     better part."

But, according to Edward Gibbon, the historian, the excuse for
London's ugly "exteriors" is not so much because the inhabitants have
"chosen the better part," as because the average Englishman mostly
keeps his show and his magnificence for his country seat. Comparing
London and Paris, Gibbon said (in 1763):

     "I devoted many hours of the morning to the circuit of Paris
     and the neighbourhood, to the visit of churches and palaces
     conspicuous by their architecture.... An Englishman may hear
     without reluctance that in these.... Paris is superior to
     London, since the opulence of the French capital arises from
     the defects of its government and religion. In the absence
     of Louis XIV. and his successors the Louvre has been left
     unfinished; but the millions which have been lavished on the
     sands of Versailles and the morass of Marli could not be
     supplied by the legal allowance of a British king. The
     splendour of the French nobles is confined to their town
     residence; that of the English is more usefully distributed
     in their country seats; and we should be astonished at our
     own riches if the labours of architecture, the spoils of
     Italy and Greece, which are now scattered from Inverary to
     Wilton, were accumulated in a few streets between Marylebone
     and Westminster."

In some parts of Bloomsbury,--Great Ormond Street, for instance, or
Queen Square,--some of the old houses are charming in their darkened
red-brick and plain casements neatly outlined with white paint. But
then most of these are, like old Kensington Palace, really of Queen's
Anne's time, and the original is ever better than the imitation. No
doubt, to the inhabitant, there are accompanying drawbacks to some of
these; beetles of long standing may infest their grimy kitchens, and
their ancient oak panelling may be prolific in those large rats which
are so unpleasantly suggestive, to the nervous, of ghosts.

Queen Square is the oldest of all the Bloomsbury Squares; for in 1746
London hardly extended further than the northern end of Southampton
Row, all beyond being more or less open country. Queen Square is so
named in honour of Queen Anne, and her statue, as its presiding
genius, adorns its further end, which was left open, as already
mentioned, on account of the beautiful view it afforded of the heights
of Highgate and Hampstead. Of the same solidity and almost mediæval
suggestion as Queen Square are the picturesque Charterhouse Square
(now mainly hotels and business precincts), Trinity Square, near the
Tower (with the same tendency), and other unsuspected haunts of old
time. And in the charming "old Court suburb" of Kensington, several
such squares, delightful in greenery and mellowed red-brick, are to be
found. How refreshing, for instance, is Kensington Square, a square
that still keeps its old-world look, and suggests Miss Thackeray's
pleasant touches, despite the sad encroachments of modernity at one
end, in the shape of tall and very prosaic blocks of "model
dwellings." There is, as stand, a great modern craze for red-brick,
and the many new and often quaintly designed houses, when darkened by
years, will no doubt improve residential London vastly. And despite
the enormous recent growth of London, and the incessant crowding of
bricks and mortar, there yet remains an almost suburban charm about
Kensington, Chelsea, and Fulham--in Kensington especially--where a few
old-world corners are still untouched, where Kensington Palace still,
in its Dutch solidity, "maintains all the best traditions of Queen
Anne's time," and where the pretty modern dwelling-houses abound,
described so sympathetically by M. Gabriel Mourey in _Passé le
Détroit_:

     "In front of the pretty little façades of the little
     red-brick houses, the style which Philip Webb, the
     architect, invented, and which is so happily appropriate
     alike to the requirements of English life and to the colour
     and movements of the atmosphere, it is pleasant to dream of
     an existence in which all is calm, intimate, and gravely
     happy. The windows are guillotine-like, half hidden by
     balconies with trailing plants, and through them one catches
     sight of neat, bright furniture, designed at once for
     utility and decoration. A woman is seated at the window,
     working or reading, of quiet and placid beauty. The children
     come in from playing in some neighbouring park. They are
     supple and vigorous, like young animals, frank and direct of
     aspect, not spoilt by any unhealthy precocity. The husband
     comes in from the City, his bag in hand, after his hours on
     feverish business, the joy of the same horizon found every
     evening, the sweetness of home; happiness composed of
     simple, various elements, a sensation of prosperity in all
     the little houses, all alike the same comfortable
     contentment. And as before a camera or in reading a book one
     likes to imagine or evoke the soul of the artist, so here
     the personality of this Philip Webb claims me, the soul of
     the architect who, like Solness, the master builder, has
     passed his life in building not palaces or churches, but
     simple houses."

Such modern houses are, at any rate, a great relief from the
monotonous and too-predominating fever of Georgian and Early Victorian
stucco. A new city of red brick has arisen on the Cadogan Estate, and
in the remodelled purlieus of Sloane Street big mansions of red flats
tower skywards, and blossom into oriels, gables, dormer-windows, and
such like excrescences. Originality is a new thing in London domestic
architecture, and the Cadogan Estate is, on the whole, vastly
improved. The Bedford Estate of Bloomsbury might, no doubt, be rebuilt
to equal advantage but for two potent reasons, the one being that its
house walls, built strongly in last century's beginning, show no signs
of decay; the other, that the fitful tide of fashion has so deserted
the locality as to make the expense hardly worth incurring. Therefore,
Bloomsbury houses are merely "tinkered" up in places, and adorned here
and there with facings and mouldings of terra-cotta; a half-hearted
proceeding at best, and no more successful than such half-measures
usually are.

But, while the plain, nondescript brick houses of Gower Street and
Baker Street still remain the prevailing type of London architecture,
there is everywhere noticeable a tendency to improve and embellish the
streets of the metropolis, to rebuild in a better or, at any rate, a
more ambitious way. Travelling along the highway of Oxford Street,
from ancient Tyburn to Tottenham Court Road, how many tall, new, and
ornate house-fronts rise along the line on each side of us! There is a
warehouse in Oxford Street by Collcutt, which, say architectural
authorities, "has probably the most showy façade in England for the
money." The lease of a small, mean house expires; it is promptly
destroyed--to rise again in dazzling red-brick, terra-cotta, and wide
casements. Everywhere else it is the same; everywhere is red-brick,
and red or buff terra-cotta, adorning alike shop-front, warehouse,
"Tube" station, and palatial mansion, till, indeed, you hardly know
which is which. Very good indeed is the effect of some of this new
street-architecture. Sometimes the new houses are even rebuilt in "old
English" style, or on old models, with all the latest improvements;
as, for instance, "Short's" famous wine-tavern in the Strand, lately
re-erected as a semi-mediæval building, with white and green
adornments, sloping roof, and the projecting "sign" of old times.
Could we "dip into the future far as human eye can see"; were it given
to us, but for one moment, to behold the architectural glories and
wonders of the London of, say, the year A.D. 2000; well, we should, at
any rate, comprehend better whither our present efforts tend. Then
will the public buildings of the Victorian Age, as of the Elizabethan
Age, be pointed out proudly to the wondering sightseer; the golden
glitter of the "Anno Victoriæ" on the Royal Exchange Pediment will
prove no less inspiring than the "Anno Elizabethæ"; and while such
ancient monuments as St. Paul's or Westminster Abbey must ever command
the primal reverence of every Englishman worthy the name, no less will
such landmarks as the Albert Hall, the Albert Memorial, the Natural
History Museum, or the Imperial Institute, speak to the ages of the
famous "sixty years of ever widening Empire." For, surely, the
greatest power of architecture is that it leaves the memorial, in
turn, of every age. Therefore, all the more, should

  "You, the Patriot Architect,
   You that shape for Eternity,
   Raise a stately memorial,
   Make it regally gorgeous, ...
   Rich in symbol, in ornament,
   Which may speak to the centuries,
   All the centuries after us...."

Architecture, like literature, needs time to orb it "into the perfect
star," to give it its right place and setting in history. And yet, it
should be of every age. "We could name," said the late Mr. Walter
Pater, "certain modern churches in London ... to which posterity may
well look back puzzled. Could these exquisitely pondered buildings
have been, indeed, works of the nineteenth century? Were they not the
subtlest creations of the age in which Gothic art was spontaneous? In
truth, we have had instances of workmen, who, through long, large
devoted study of the handiwork of the past, have done the thing
better, with a more fully enlightened consciousness, with full
intelligence of what those early workmen only guessed at."

The Albert Hall, so much abused for its acoustic defects, is, from its
impressive size at least, a well-known London landmark. "That
monstrous caricature of the Colosseum," some one has called it; but
critics of London's modern buildings generally err on the side of
severity, and the vast elliptical mass is certainly imposing. In the
Albert Hall, the new style of terra-cotta decorations, already
referred to, is largely prominent; the Pantheon-like dome has a
pleasing solidity, and the glow of smoke-darkened red, in spring, is
delightfully contrasted with the green trees of the neighbouring Park.
Enormous "mansions," also red-brick, but hardly attractive, have
arisen, in Babel-like height, beside the Albert Hall, painfully
dwarfing and overshadowing the charming building of "Lowther Lodge"
adjacent. These "mansions" and "flats" have increased of late years
enormously in London, are, indeed, still increasing. From "model
lodging-houses" to elaborate and expensive palaces, every kind of
income and taste is, in this respect, catered for; and these enormous
dwelling-houses,--cities, or at least villages, in themselves,--attain
terrific proportions of height and size. In them live "all sorts and
conditions of men." Thus, in the "blocks" of model dwellings, ladies
in eternal "Hinde's curlers" quarrel vociferously, with arms akimbo,
from across their railed-in outer landing-places; while, in more
elaborate dwellings, tubs of "yuccas" and other evergreen trees greet
the visitor cheerfully from the glazed-in Nuremberg-like courtyards,
and elaborate flower-boxes adorn the balconies. Indeed, the modern
"flats" already form no inconsiderable factor in London's street
architecture; and sometimes, as in Bedford Court Mansions, Bedford
Square, they are of considerable artistic merit. The new hotels, also,
are another leading feature of modern London. Fifty years ago London
had but few hotels, and those that did exist, often left much to be
desired in the way of comfort, cleanliness, and reliability. Now
enormous palaces have arisen everywhere, not only in the West End, but
in Bayswater, Bloomsbury, and other less modish quarters; sumptuous
mansions, still of ornate red brick and terra-cotta, springing up with
the promptitude of an Aladdin's palace, and dominating, as it may be,
their respective street or square. It was not long since that I
chanced to meet two queens in a cart filled with straw--unregal state
for a queen! going along, smiling placidly, to their final resting
place. The queens were of terra-cotta, and their last, sad journey was
presumably only from Doulton's factories in Lambeth to their destined
abode on the Russell Hotel façade; nevertheless, I sympathised with
the poor things in their patient submission, led thus, in an open
cart, to execution, roped and hung amid the jeers of the populace.

In the "Venetian Gothic" style is the modern Crown Insurance Office,
in New Bridge Street, built by Woodward. Of this edifice, D. G.
Rossetti, who lived at one time close by it, says: "It seems to me the
most perfect piece of civil architecture of the new school that I have
seen in London. I never cease to look at it with delight." Of what is
called the "Secular Gothic" order, is the large terra-cotta "Natural
History Museum," at South Kensington, an ambitious building by
Waterhouse, about which much difference of opinion rages. While Mr.
Hare has no doubt at all but that it is "an embodiment of pretentious
ugliness, a huge pile of mongrel Lombardic architecture," other
authorities have seen in its originality "many evidences of anxious
and skilful pains." Its general effect is, it must be confessed, at
present somewhat bizarre and striped. The "Prudential Assurance
Offices," also by Waterhouse, built close to the site of old
Furnival's Inn, in Holborn, is a more generally popular edifice, sober
and solid in its unrelieved, dark-red terra-cotta.

Many other notable buildings might, of course, be mentioned, but space
is limited. Enough, however, has been said to show that Londoners are
still slaves to architectural fashion, and that the now prevailing
mode is for red-brick and terra-cotta. Indeed, the London of the close
of the nineteenth and the opening of the twentieth century, will
surely be "picked out" by future antiquaries by lines and "holdings"
of red, just as the limits of the Georgian and early-Victorian
classical fever are now shown by white Doric and Ionic pediments and
columns, gleaming from beneath their invading mantle of soot. Some
people say, by the way, that the present love of terra-cotta as
building material, partly arises from the fact that it can be
_washed_. If this be true, then it only shows that the Londoner of
to-day is wanting in appreciation of the before-mentioned "artistic
value" of soot. It may be, that, like the tailless fox of the fable,
we admire what we must perforce put up with, or what we are accustomed
to. Yet, it has always seemed to me that London's chief beauty lies in
this all-pervading grime, mellowing, softening, harmonizing. M. Taine,
we know, did not hold this view; is it, indeed, to be expected from
any one but a true, a born Londoner? St. Paul's blackened festoons of
sculptured roses; the grimy cupids, nestling on the pedestals of the
Russell family's statues in the Bloomsbury squares; the mournful Greek
frieze on the Athenæeum Club, in Pall Mall;--yes, even the sooty
resignation of the St. Pancras caryatids; does not the pall of soot,
which so afflicts the Southerner, seem to convey something of London's
spirit, humanity, Ego, in fact? Who, for instance, will maintain that
the blackness of St. Paul's itself does not immeasurably add to the
grandeur of its effect? As G. A. Sala said:

     "It is really the better for all the incense which all the
     chimneys since the time of Wren have offered at its shrine;
     and are still flinging up every day from their foul and
     grimy censers."

Who, also, will not own that the new Tate Gallery, erected at such
expense by Sir Henry Tate's munificence on the old site of Millbank
Prison, is not improving, year by year, by the combined action of
London's river, fogs, and soot? It already looks less incongruously
white amid its murky surrounding wharves; less like a frosted
wedding-cake, less aggressively Greek near the grey Gothic pile of
neighbouring Westminster. And what of that picturesque railway station
of St. Pancras, picturesque with the combined glamour of blue London
mist and distance, towering like some shadowy mediæval fortress over
the murky modernity of the Euston Road! (Even the Euston Road, saddest
and least inspiring of thoroughfares, can, on occasion, be glorified.)
In one of London's lurid autumn sunsets, the large red sun, obscured
through fog and mist, sinks slowly behind the embattled towers of St.
Pancras, lending it such an appearance of romance that even a French
writer (not, however, M. Taine!) has called it:

     "A monumental railway-station, like a cathedral with its
     arched windows, its turrets, and enormous belfry, all of
     red-brick, which the weather darkens so prettily."

And has not the misty glory of soot and river fog appealed to Turner,
the artist; appealed, in turn, to all the painters who have at all
penetrated to the spirit of the beauty and the mystery of London? Even
M. Taine, so severe otherwise upon London's sooty palaces, is
compelled to admit, reluctantly, some charm, after all, in this "huge
conglomeration of human creation," and to confess that "the shimmering
of river-waves, the scattering of the light imprisoned in vapour, the
soft whitish or pink tints which cover these vastnesses, diffuse a
sort of grace over the prodigious city, having the effect of a smile
upon the face of a shaggy and blackened Cyclops."

The "Cyclops" is maligned and traduced by tradition, and the smile on
his blackened face is often beautiful. We call London ugly, mostly
from mere custom, but very few among us trouble to look and judge for
ourselves. "I wonder," once said Archbishop Benson, "who out of the
many thousands who daily pass St. Paul's, ever look up at it." And it
is so with all London's great and historic buildings. Church spires
and towers were supposed, in the simple days of old, to carry the eye
and the mind up to Heaven; but what chance have they, poor things,
when, even on one of London's delightful grey-blue skies of summer, no
one heeds them, or their message? Like Bunyan's "Man with the
Muckrake," we fix our eyes ever steadily on the ground; the only
London stones that attract our notice being its jutting kerb-stones,
its sounding asphalt and macadamized pavements ... we fix our
attention on the dull, dead levels; we lose "the fair illuminated
letters, and have no eye for the gilding." Yet we still scoff at our
own historic city, not because we ever look at it on our own account,
but because we have always been taught that it is the right thing to
do so.

It is a curious fact that the fine passages which everybody knows and
quotes about the Stones of London, all refer to them in ruins.
Macaulay placed his New Zealander on a broken arch of London Bridge,
to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's. Shelley pictured London as "an
habitation of bitterns," and the piers of Waterloo Bridge as "the
nuclei of islets of reeds and osiers." Rossetti overthrew the British
Museum in order to leave the archæologists of some future race in
confusion as to the ruins of London and Nineveh. Ruskin, who had so
much that is bright and beautiful to say of the Stones of Venice,
dismissed London with a warning of prophetic doom; saw her stones
crumbling "through prouder eminence to less pitied destruction." It is
surely time that some new and ardent spirit--some twentieth-century
Ruskin--with eyes no longer set upon the dear dead past, should fix
his gaze on what is grand and significant in the Stones of London,
while still they stand the one upon the other; and, seeing, should
reveal to the world something of the sombre glory of its greatest
city.



INDEX


  A

  "Adam" decorations, 246, 462

  Addison, 80, 179, 383

  Adelaide Gallery, the, 290

  Advertisement, art of, in London, 320

  Aggas's Map, 5, 187

  Ainger, Canon, 146

  Albany, the, 380

  Albert Bridge, 26, 224

  Albert Embankment, the, 32

  Albert Hall, 213, 468

  Albert Memorial, 397

  All Hallows Staining, tower of, 55, 81

  "Almack's," 181

  Amen Court, 97

  American Tourists in London, 299

  Ancient Tomb-portraits, 348

  Anne Askew, burning of, 65

  Antiquarian zeal, 55

  Appian Way, our, 193

  Apsley House, 378

  Arnold, Sir Edwin, on a mummy-case, 336

  Arnold, Matthew, on Kensington Gardens, 395;
    on the legend of Westminster Abbey, 188;
    lecture at Toynbee Hall, 174

  Artists in Kensington, 217

  Ashbee, C. R., 176

  "Asia Minor," 295

  Asiatics in the East End, 295

  Astor Estate Office, 42

  "Augusta," 2, 21


  B

  Baby-farms, 431

  Bacon, Francis, 139, 160

  Bank Holiday, 434

  Bankside theatres, 128

  Barclay and Perkins's brewery, 129

  Barnard's Inn, 159

  Barnett, Canon, 173

  Barry, Sir Charles, 205

  Bartholomew Fair, 64

  Battersea Park, 27, 224, 400

  Beauchamp Tower, 106

  Beaumont, Sir George, 354

  Bedford Court, 246

  Bedford House, 242

  Ben Jonson, 153

  Benson, Archbishop, 471

  Berkeley Square, 379

  Berners Street hoax, 370

  Besant, Sir Walter, 8, 13, 24

  Bevis Marks, 80

  Billingsgate, 43, 316

  Birds in London, 400, 410

  Birkbeck Bank, 156

  Bishopsgate Street, 76

  Blackfriars, 13, 42

  Blake, William, 26, 251, 349, 380, 384

  "Bleak House," 144, 148, 154, 159, 261

  "Blenheim Raphael," 344

  Bloody Tower, 104

  Bloomsbury, 238, 247

  Bloomsbury Square, 243, 245

  Blue mist, 23, 27, 388, 471

  Boarding-houses, 263, 427

  Bolt Court, 364

  Bond Street, 176

  Book-shops, 305

  Booth, Charles, 446

  Borough High Street, 126

  Botanical Gardens, 406

  Botticelli, 351

  Bridge of Sighs, English, 40

  British Museum, 333

  Broad Sanctuary, 204

  "Brompton Boilers," the, 341

  Brompton Oratory, 215

  Brontës, the, 97

  Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 380

  Browning, Robert, on view from the dome of St. Paul's, 51

  Buckland, Frank, 230

  Burglars in London, 442

  Burne-Jones, Sir Edward, 252, 369

  Butler, Samuel, 42

  Byron's view of London, 449


  C

  Cabs in London, 423

  Cabmen, wages of, 425

  Calverley's "Savoyard," 289

  Campden Hill, 217

  Canova, 40

  Canterbury Pilgrims, the, 126

  Carlton House, 181

  Carlton House Terrace, 181

  Carlton Restaurant, 322

  Carlyle, on the Press, 14;
    on Westminster Abbey, 193;
    on Cheyne Row, 225;
    on the Leigh Hunts, 226;
    his London homes, 261;
    on the British Museum reading-room, 268;
    and the omnibus conductor, 422

  Carlyle House, the, 224

  Carlyle, statue of, 226

  Carlyle, Mrs., 225, 260, 392, 442

  Carpaccio, 352

  Caryatids on St. Pancras Church, 409, 459

  Casual wards, 441

  Catherine of Braganza, 36, 228

  Cats in London, 409

  Chained books at Chelsea Old Church, 234

  Chancery Lane, 148

  Chapter Coffee House, 97, 183

  Charles I., 205

  Charles II., 201, 400

  Charterhouse, 9, 68

  Charterhouse Square, 67, 464

  Chatham, Lord, 192

  Chatterton, 183, 427

  Chaucer's Inns, 126

  Cheapside, 81

  Chelsea, 26, 222, 235

  Chelsea Bun-house, 222, 236

  Chelsea Embankment, 235

  Chelsea Ferry, 235

  Chelsea Hospital, 236

  Chelsea Old Church, 231, 233

  "Cheshire Cheese," the, 366

  Chesterfield House, 378

  Cheyne Row, 224

  Cheyne Walk, 26, 227

  Chichester Rents, 148

  Christina of Denmark, 351

  Christ's Hospital, 9

  Churches:--
    All Hallows, Barking, 115
    Great St. Helen's, 77
    Holy Trinity, Minories, 114
    St. Alphage, London Wall, 82
    St. Bartholomew-the-Great, Smithfield, 56
    St. Botolph, 114
    St. Dunstan-in-the-West, 151
    St. Edmund the King and Martyr, 80
    St. Ethelburga, 79
    St. Giles, Cripplegate, 12, 81
    St. John's Chapel (in the White Tower), 108
    St. John's, Clerkenwell, 73
    St. Magnus, 27, 44
    St. Margaret's, Westminster, 202
    St. Mary, Aldermanbury, 81
    St. Mary, Lambeth, 31
    St. Mary Overy, 122
    St. Michael's, Cornhill, 75
    St. Olave's, Hart Street, 117
    St. Pancras, 265, 458
    St. Paul, Covent Garden, 318
    St. Peter-ad-Vincula, 105
    St. Peter-upon-Cornhill, 75
    St. Saviour's, Southwark, 122
    St. Swithin's, 82

  Church House, Kensington, 220

  Church House, Westminster, 204

  "Church of Humanity," 260

  "Church Parade," 390, 401

  City Companies, the, 14

  Classical Fever in London, 457

  Clement's Inn, 148

  "Cleopatra's Needle," 36

  Clifford's Inn, 150

  "Clink," the, 129

  Clive, Lord, 379

  Cloth Fair, 58, 64

  Clothworkers' Hall, 55

  Coal Exchange, the, 316

  Cobbett, 23

  Cock Lane Ghost, the, 73

  "Cockney," derivation of, 436

  Cole, Vicat, 49

  Coleridge, 158

  Collins, Wilkie, 261

  Comedy Restaurant, Panton Street, 322

  Common lodging-houses, 441

  Constable, 347, 355

  Conway, Moncure D., 462, 463

  Coronation Chairs, 200

  Costermongers, 437

  County Council, the, 400

  Court of Pie Powdre, 64

  Covent Garden Market, 317

  Covent Garden, old taverns of, 318

  Cromwell, 153, 199

  Crosby Hall, 55, 77

  Curzon Street, 373, 380


  D

  Darwin, Charles, 258

  Davidson, John, on "The Loafer," 186

  Dean's Yard, 202

  Defoe, on Pall Mall, 183

  Detectives in shops, 309

  Dickens, on waterside scenes, 50;
    the Marshalsea, 130, 134;
    City churches, 115;
    as the chronicler of London, 136;
    on the Borough, 128;
    Fountain Court, 143;
    Staple Inn, 155;
    Barnard's Inn, 159;
    his social satires, 177;
    his grave, 193;
    on decaying houses, 240;
    Bloomsbury types, 262;
    his private theatricals, 261;
    Cockney types, 312;
    on London houses, 362

  Dining, the art of, 322

  Disappearing landmarks, 361

  Disraeli (Lord Beaconsfield), on Regent's Park, 17;
    on class differences in London, 162;
    his death in Curzon Street, 373;
    on Kensington Gardens, 395

  D'Israeli, Isaac, 243

  Docks, the, 47

  "Doggett" badge, 235

  "Domesday Book," 151

  Downing Street, 374

  Drama, popular tastes with regard to, 282

  Dress of the poor, conventionalities in, 312


  E

  Earl's Court, 220

  Earl's Terrace, 218

  Eastcheap, 81, 118

  East End, the, 168

  Edward the Confessor, 189

  Edwardes Square, 217

  "Edwin Drood," 155, 295

  Eighteenth Century, London in, 179

  Elgin Marbles, the, 340

  Eliot, George, 227

  "Esmond," 220, 228, 392

  Evelyn's Diary, 242

  Eyre Street Hill, 292


  F

  Factory-girls, 437

  Farm Street Roman Catholic Church, 177

  Fetter Lane, 159

  Fiction stronger than reality, 10, 363, 381

  "First nights," 280

  Fleet Street, 364

  Fleur-de-Lis Court, 156

  Flowers, London children's love for, 321, 402

  Flowers, in Regent's Park, 402

  Flower-girls, 318, 437

  Folly Ditch, 51

  Fore Street, 81

  Foreign waiters, 288

  Foundling hospital, 263

  "Fountain Court," 143

  "Four-in-hand Club," 390

  "Fremdenindustrie" in London, 290

  French furniture at Hertford House, 331

  French School of Painting at Hertford House, 331

  Frith's reminiscences, 258

  Frost Fairs, 44

  Froude, J. A., on ancient tombs, 196;
    the dissolution of the Carthusian monastery, 68;
    Anne Boleyn, 105

  Furnival's Inn, 159


  G

  Gainsborough, 353

  "Gallery of Instruction," 338

  "Gandish's," 252, 258

  Gardens, making of, in London, 408

  Gardens, private, in London houses, 406

  "Gatti's," 290

  "Gaunt House" of "Vanity Fair," 378

  Gibbon, 463

  Gladstone, W. E., on Bloomsbury, 247;
    his London residences, 373;
    on the way to see London, 414

  Godfrey, Sir Edmondsbury, 36

  Goldsmith, Oliver, 147, 367

  Gordon Riots, 243

  Gordon Square, 260

  Gothic style in London, 452-459

  Gough House, Chelsea, 236

  Gough Square (Dr. Johnson's house), 364

  Gower Street, 258

  Gower's tomb, 123

  Grant Allen, 23, 337

  Gray's Inn, 139, 159

  "Grange," the, North End, 368

  Great Coram Street, 263

  "Great Expectations," 159

  Great Fire, the, 7, 86

  Great Ormond Street, 254, 464

  Great Tower Hill, 113

  Greenwich, 51

  Greuze's Pictures, 332

  Grosvenor Road, 28

  "Grub Street," 64

  "Guild and School of Handicraft," 176

  Guy's Hospital, 133

  Gwynne, Nell, 232, 236


  H

  Hair-Dressing, Ethics of, 286

  "Hand of Ethelberta, The," 12

  Hare, A. J. C., on St. Thomas's Hospital, 29;
    Chelsea Embankment, 32;
    Gray's Inn Garden, 139;
    Thames Street, 316;
    Holland House, 382

  Hatton Garden, 292, 439

  Haunted Houses, 379

  Haydon, 395

  Haweis, Rev. H. R., 229

  Hawthorne, 90, 155, 160

  Herschel, 257

  Hertford House, 327

  "Hiring-Fair," Jewish, 297

  Hogarth, 63, 265, 368

  Holbein, 351

  Holborn Restaurant, 322

  Holland House, 382

  Holly Lodge, 383

  Holman Hunt, W., 252

  Holywell Street, 147

  "Homes for the People," 465

  Hood, Thomas, 40

  Hook, Theodore, 370

  Hotel Cecil, 33

  Hotels, palatial, 32

  Houndsditch, 79

  Houses, historic, 358

  Houses, humanity of, 245

  Houses of Parliament, 29, 205

  "Humphry Clinker" (and Covent Garden), 319

  Humphry Ward, Mrs., 257

  Hunter Street, Bloomsbury, 262

  Hyde Park, 386


  I

  Ice-Cream Trade, 292

  Inchbald, Elizabeth, 218

  Inigo Jones, 454

  Inland Revenue Office, 36

  Inns of Court, the, 137

  Iron-work, old, on houses, 379

  Irving, Edward, 260

  Irvingite Church, 260

  Italian Colony in London, the, 292


  J

  Jack Cade, 44

  "Jacob's Island," 51

  Jersey, Lady, 181, 380

  Jerusalem Chamber, 203

  Johnson, Dr., 73, 91, 138, 147, 363


  K

  Katherine Howard, 105, 129

  Kensington, 210

  Kensington Gardens, 394

  "Kensington House," 219

  Kensington Palace, 382, 394, 465

  Kensington Square, 220, 464

  King's Bench Walk, Temple, 147

  Kingsley, Charles, 47

  Kingsley, Henry, 233

  King's Road, Chelsea, 232

  Knightsbridge Road, 212


  L

  Lady Jane Grey, 107

  Lady lecturers, 330, 333, 342

  Lamb, Charles, 139, 147, 160

  Lamb's Conduit Street, 260, 265

  Lambeth Palace, 29

  Lang, Andrew, 37, 320

  Lant Street, 130

  Laud, Archbishop, 31

  Law Courts, 460

  Lawrence, Sir Thomas, 245

  Lawson, Cecil, 227

  Leadenhall Market, 3

  Lear, Edward, 259

  Leech, John, 263, 439

  Leicester Square, 285

  Leigh Hunt, 217, 226

  Leighton House, the, 377

  Lennox, Sarah, 382

  Levy, Miss Amy, on plane trees in London, 408;
    on London isolation, 426

  Liddon, Canon, 97

  Life of London, the, 285

  Lincoln's Inn, 152

  Lincoln's Inn Fields, 154

  Little Britain, 64

  "Little Dorrit," 132, 177, 264

  "Little Midshipman, the," 115

  Lollard's Tower, the, 30

  Lombard Street, 80

  London: atmospheric effects, 388, 412, 450;
    approach to, 23;
    architecture, 460;
    the cult of, 20;
    charm of, in early summer, 385, 400;
    cosmopolitanism of, 285;
    crowds, 282;
    classes in, 162;
    contrasts in, 19, 54, 151, 167, 175;
    crazes, 445;
    colouring of, 388, 412;
    feeding of, 48;
    houses, characteristics of, 359, 462;
    isolation in, 426;
    liberty in, 429;
    opportunities in, 327;
    phoenix-like, 24, 95, 181;
    picturesqueness of, 49, 388, 411;
    primarily a seaport, 24;
    resources in, 17;
    rebuilding of, 466;
    suffering in, 427, 429;
    as a tourist haunt, 33;
    unexpectedness of, 10, 18, 54;
    wealth of, 47

  London Bridge, 43, 121

  Londoners, ways of, 414, 416, 462

  London Stone, 82

  London Wall, 81, 82

  Lost children, 442

  Lowther Lodge, 213, 460

  Ludgate Hill, 93

  Lyon's Inn, 159


  M

  Macaulay, on the tombs of Chatham and Pitt, 192;
    Westminster Hall, 205;
    his residence at Holly Lodge, 217, 383;
    in Powis Place, 255;
    on Holland House, 383;
    the New Zealander, 472

  Maclise, Daniel, 227

  Mall, the, 397

  Manning, Cardinal, 177

  Mansfield, Lord, 243

  Mansions and Flats, 468

  Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury, 262

  Marco Marziale, 349

  Marshall, Herbert, 388

  Marshalsea, the, 130

  Marshalsea Court, 150

  "Martin Chuzzlewit," 118, 143

  Matinée Hat, 282

  Maurice, F. D., 245, 256

  Mausolus, car of (in British Museum), 270, 338

  "May-Day Sweeps," 259

  Mecklenburgh Square, 265

  Mercers' School, 159

  Meredith, George, 228

  Michael Angelo, 354

  Middle Temple Hall, 143

  Middle Temple Lane, 144

  Millais, Sir John, 259

  Millbank Penitentiary, Old, 28

  Millionaires, Uses of, 327

  Milton, 63, 371

  Mincing Lane, 81

  Minories, the, 113

  Mitford, Mary Russell, 245

  Model lodging-houses, 468

  Monasteries, the fall of, 13

  Montague House, 269, 333, 379

  Monument, the, 43, 118

  Monumental Brasses, 115

  Monumental Sculpture, 91, 193

  More, Sir Thomas, 110, 233

  Morley, Charles, quoted, 131

  Morris, William, 252

  Mother Shipton, 387

  Mourey, Gabriel, on the view from Charing Cross Bridge, 38;
    the Tower Bridge, 45;
    the Pool of London, 46;
    character in hair-dressing, 286;
    street markets, 312;
    Sunday in London, 440;
    London fog, 445;
    Regent's Park terraces, 451;
    Philip Webb's houses, 465

  Mudie's Library, 305

  Mudlarks, 28

  Mummy-room at the British Museum, 335

  "Murdstone and Grinby's," 50, 134

  Museum Habitués, 268

  "Museum Headache," 337


  N

  Nando's Coffee House, 145

  Nash, 457

  National Gallery, 344;
    romance of, 346, 354

  Natural History Museum, 342, 469

  "Newcomes," The, 69

  New Inn, 148

  Newsboys, 443

  Newton Hall, 158

  Newton, Sir Isaac, 158

  New War Office, 455

  Nithsdale, Lord (escape from the Tower), 111

  Norman London, 4


  O

  Old Clothes Markets, 315

  "Old Curiosity Shop," 50, 80, 135

  Old Palace Yard, 207

  Old St. Paul's, 88

  Old Swan Tavern, 235

  "Oliver Twist," 51

  Omnibuses, character in, 420

  Omnibus Conductors, 418

  Omnibus travelling, 417

  Open air services, 98

  Opium Dens, 296

  O'Rell, Max, on the Parks, 390;
    London omnibuses, 417;
    London fog, 444

  Organ-grinders, 263, 439

  Ornithological Society, 399

  "Our Mutual Friend," 50

  Oxford Street, 18


  P

  Pall Mall, 183

  Panizzi, 247

  "Pan-opticon" of Leicester Square, 326

  Pantomimes, 277

  Panyer Alley, 97

  Paradise Row, 232

  "Paris Garden," 128

  Park Orators, 392, 403

  Parmigiano, 350

  Passmore Edwards Settlement, 256

  Patent Office, 156

  Paternoster Row, 95

  Pater, Walter, 218, 467

  Paul's Cross, 98

  Paul Pindar's House, 55, 342

  "Paul's Walkers," 88

  Pavement Artists, 248

  Penny Steamers, 25

  Pepys, Samuel, 116, 139

  Philanthropists, treatment of, in London, 448

  Physick Garden, the, 234

  Picture-galleries, 330, 343

  Picture Stories, 346

  Pitman's Shorthand Institute, 246

  Pictures, vicissitudes of, 346, 351, 353

  Picturesqueness of Railways, 23, 95

  Pigeon-fanciers, 315

  Plane-trees in London, 408

  Plantagenets, cuts of, 198

  Poet's Corner, 202

  Point of View, the, 164, 169, 172

  Policemen, 425, 442

  Pool of London, the, 44, 46

  Popular "lines" in shops, 301

  "Portland Vase," 336

  Positivist Society, 138

  Press, the, 369

  Primrose Hill, view from, 413

  Prince of Wales's Theatre, old, 284

  Printing-House Square, 14

  Prior Bolton, 62

  Prior Houghton, 68

  Protector Somerset, 35, 73

  Prudential Assurance Company's Offices, 154, 159, 469

  Pyx, Chapel of, 190, 203


  Q

  Quality Court, 156

  Queen Anne, 201

  Queen Anne Craze, the, 460

  Queen Anne's Gate, 397

  Queen Anne's Statue, Ludgate Hill, 95;
    Queen Square, 241

  Queen Caroline (wife of George II.), 394, 399

  Queen Caroline (of Brunswick), 202, 370

  Queen Charlotte, 36

  Queen Elizabeth, 25, 51, 201

  Queen Mary (of Modena), 31

  Queen Mary II., 201

  Queen Victoria, visit to St. Paul's, 93;
    at Kensington Palace, 395

  Queen's House, Chelsea, 227

  Queen Square, 241, 254, 264


  R

  Ragged Children, erudition of, 234, 433

  Ragged Schools, 432

  Rahere, 58

  Raleigh, 107

  "Ranelagh," 222

  Reading-room, British Museum, 266

  "Reconciliation," Temple of, 192-199

  Record Office, 151

  Red Lion Square, 253, 254

  Reformation, the, 8, 62

  "Reformer's Tree," the, 392

  Regalia, 109

  Regent's Park, 401

  Restaurants, cheap, 287, 322

  "Restorers," sins of, 125

  Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 354

  Richardson, Samuel, 367

  Richmond's Mosaics in St. Paul's, 93

  "Ring, The," 391

  Rocques', Map of, 1746, 241

  Rogers, Samuel, 181

  Rolls Chapel, 151

  Roman City Wall, 81

  Roman London, 24

  Roman Remains, 3, 82, 97, 103

  "Rosamond's Pond," 399

  Rosebery, Lord, on St. James's Square, 184

  "Rosetta Stone," the, 339

  Rossetti, Christina, 251

  Rossetti, D. G., at Queen's House, Chelsea, 227;
    at Red Lion Square, 252;
    at the Working Men's College, 256;
    on the British Museum, 270;
    on Venetian Gothic in London, 469

  Rotten Row, 390

  Royal Exchange, 74, 75

  Royal Mint, 113

  Royal Society, 158

  Rubens, 351

  Ruskin, on the Houses of Parliament, 32;
    Victoria Embankment, 41;
    the Pool of London, 49;
    Social Contrasts, 185;
    South Kensington Museum, 341;
    born in Hunter Street, 262;
    at the Working Men's College, 256;
    at Denmark Hill, 371

  Russell, Lady Rachel, 242

  Russell, Lord William, 154, 242

  Russell Hotel, 247

  Russell Square, 244

  Rye House Plot, 242


  S

  "Sailors' Town," the, 49

  St. Bartholomew's Hospital, 66

  St. James's Park, 397

  St. James's Place, 179

  St. James's Square, 184

  St. James's Street, 178

  St. John's Gate, Clerkenwell, 72

  St. Pancras Station, 27, 265, 471

  St. Paul's Cathedral, 42, 51, 84

  St. Paul's Churchyard, 95

  St. Paul's School, 98

  St. Thomas's Hospital, 29

  Sala, G. A., 265

  Sale-Days, 311

  Saleswomen, trials of, 302

  Sandford Manor House, 232

  Sass's School, 258

  Savoy Hotel, 33

  Saxon London, 4

  Scents, in London districts, 420

  Scotland Yard, 33

  Scott, W. B., 256

  Sea-gulls in London, 35, 121

  Seamy Side, the, 185, 248, 441

  Sebert, King of the East Saxons, 188

  Second-hand Book-shops, 266, 305

  "Secular Gothic," 469

  Seething Lane, 116

  Serjeants' Inn, 149

  Shaw, Norman, 33, 235, 460

  Shelley, in Marchmont Street, 262;
    in Half Moon Street, 361;
    in Poland Street, 381;
    on Hell and London, 297;
    in the Highgate omnibus, 417

  Shelley, Harriet, 394

  Shelley, Mary, 262

  Ships' figure-heads, 29

  Shops of London, 299

  Shoppers, ways of, 301

  Shop-lifters, 309

  Siddons, Mrs., 371

  "Sixpenny Days," drawbacks of, 195

  "Sketches by Boz," 240, 259, 262

  Sloane, Sir Hans, 228, 234, 243, 333

  Slum children, 430

  Smart Society in London, 179, 390

  Smetham, James, 355

  Smithfield Martyrs, 64

  Soane Museum, 375

  Soane, Sir John, 376, 457

  Somerset House, 35, 451-452

  Soot as a beautifier, 23, 27, 90, 388, 452, 470

  South Kensington, 222

  South Kensington Museum, 341

  South Sea Bubble, 76, 133

  Southwark, 121

  Sparrows in London, 410

  Spinello Aretino, 348

  Spitalfields, 314

  "Spleen," the, 444

  Squares of Queen Anne's Time, 464

  Squares, Old London, charm of, 244

  Staël, Madame de, 23

  Stage Door, the, 284

  Stage Neophytes, 275

  Stage rehearsals, 279

  Stanley, Dean, 187, 233

  Staple Inn, 55, 154

  Steele, Sir Richard, 243

  "Steyne, Lord," 327

  Stones of London, the, 447-472

  Street Arabs, 434

  Street games, 432

  Street markets, 311

  Stuart, Arabella, 111, 197

  Stuart, La Belle, 201

  Submerged, the, 170, 185

  Sunday in London, 440

  Sunday markets, 314

  "Sunday opening," 326-335

  Sunsets in London, 250

  Sutherland House, 378

  Sutton, Thomas, 69

  "Sweating" dens, 297, 302

  Swift, Dean, 177

  Swinburne, A. C., 228, 369

  Swindles in London, 443

  Swiss Waiters, 287


  T

  Taine, Henri, on Greek Architecture in London, 32;
    the docks, 48;
    the ways of "good society," 279;
    Englishwomen, 286;
    the London Sunday, 326;
    British seriousness, 392;
    Somerset House, 451;
    the Houses of Parliament, 459

  Tanagra figurines (in British Museum), 339

  Tanfield Court, Temple, 147

  Tate Gallery, the, 27, 343

  Tate, Sir Henry, 28, 343

  Tavistock House, 258, 261

  Temple, the, 149;
    Gardens, 141;
    Church, 145

  Tennant, Miss Dorothy (Lady Stanley), 431

  Tennyson, Alfred Lord, on Cleopatra's Needle, 39;
    "London's central roar," 95

  Terburg's "Peace of Münster," 332, 350

  Terra-cotta, in building, 470

  Terriss, William, 284

  Thackeray, in Cornhill, 76;
    in Great Coram Street, 263;
    in Kensington, 216, 220, 382;
    on old Carlton House, 181;
    Russell Square, 246;
    Denmark Hill, 371;
    the "Zoo," 405

  Thackeray, Miss ("Old Kensington"), 213

  Thames, influence on history of London, 2, 24

  Thames, Enchantment of, 49

  Thames Street, 43, 316

  Thavies' Inn, 159

  Theatrical Profession, the, 274

  Thompson, Henry Yates, 344

  "Thorney Island," 188

  "Time Machine," the, 20

  Tite Street, 236

  "Tom-All-Alone's," 58

  Tomb of Gordon, 92;
    Lord Leighton, 92;
    Duke of Wellington, 92

  Tooley Street, 43, 126

  Torch Extinguishers, 379

  "Totencourt," Manor of, 18, 242, 387

  Tottenham Court Road, 18

  Tourists in London, 247, 424

  Tower, the, 46, 100

  Tower Bridge, 44

  Tower Green, 105

  Tower Lions, the, 112

  Tower Victims, 105

  Toynbee, Arnold, 173

  Toynbee Hall, 173

  Trades, special districts for, 308

  "Traitor's Gate," 104, 110

  Treasure-houses of London, 326

  Trinity Square, 113, 464

  Turner, J. M. W., R.A., 26, 49, 347, 355, 357, 380

  Tyburn, 113


  U

  Unrevealing Exteriors, 359


  V

  Valhalla, national, 191

  Vandyck, 351-354

  Van Eyck, 353

  Vanishing London, 360

  "Vanity Fair," 246

  "Vauxhall," 222

  "Venetian Gothic," 469

  Vergers, ways of, 105

  Veronese, Paolo, 353, 355

  Victoria Embankment, 32, 41

  Views in London, 29, 35, 38, 42, 46, 49, 51, 265, 389, 394, 411-412

  "Virginians," the, 381

  Visitors to London, 424


  W

  Waifs and Strays, 429, 440

  Wallace, Sir Richard, 65, 328, 332

  Wallace Collection, 327

  Wallace, Lady, 329

  Walworth, Sir William, 65

  "Wanderlust," the, 289

  Warwick Square, 97

  Watling Street, 3

  Waterloo Bridge, 40

  Wat Tyler, 65

  Webb, Aston, 60

  Webb, Philip, 465

  Weller, Sam, 128

  Wellington, Duke of, 378

  Westminster Abbey, 187;
    chapel of Henry VII., 190, 197;
    chantry of Henry V., 194;
    cloisters, 203;
    wax effigies, 200

  Westminster Bridge, 207

  Westminster Hall, 205

  Where to shop, 303

  Whistler, J. McN., 23, 236

  Whitechapel Road, 18, 172

  Whitefield's Tabernacle, 242, 261

  Whitefriars, 13

  Whitehall, 455

  Whitehall Court, 33

  "White Tower," 108

  Whittington, 9

  Wimpole Street, 380

  Winchester House (old), 129

  "Window gardens," 407

  "Wittenagemot" Club, 97

  Wood Street plane tree, 10, 81

  "Working Men's College, The," 255

  Working Classes, 168

  Wren, Sir Christopher, 7, 86

  Wych Street, 148


  Y

  Yiddish colony in London, the, 295

  York House, old, 35

  York Stairs, 35


  Z

  Zoological Gardens, 405


THE END

  PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY R. CLAY AND SONS. LTD.,
  BRUNSWICK STREET, STAMFORD STREET, S.E. 1, AND BUNGAY, SUFFOLK.



THE HIGHWAYS & BYWAYS SERIES.

  Extra crown 8vo. =7s. 6d.= net each.

  POCKET EDITION. The volumes marked with an asterisk (*).
  Fcap. 8vo. Cloth. _6s._ net. Leather, 7_s._ 6_d._ net each.


=Berkshire.= By JAMES EDMUND VINCENT. With Illustrations by FREDERICK
L. GRIGGS.

_DAILY CHRONICLE._--"We consider this book one of the best in an
admirable series, and one which should appeal to all who love this
kind of literature."


* =The Border.= By ANDREW LANG and JOHN LANG. With Illustrations by
HUGH THOMSON.

_STANDARD._--"The reader on his travels, real or imaginary, could not
have pleasanter or more profitable companionship. There are charming
sketches by Mr. Hugh Thomson to illustrate the letterpress."


=Buckinghamshire.= By CLEMENT SHORTER. With Illustrations by FREDERICK
L. GRIGGS.

_WORLD._--"A thoroughly delightful little volume. Mr. Frederick L.
Griggs contributes a copious series of delicately graceful
illustrations."


=Cambridge and Ely.= By Rev. EDWARD CONYBEARE. With Illustrations by
FREDERICK L. GRIGGS.

_ATHENÆUM._--"A volume which, light and easily read as it is deserves
to rank with the best literature about the county."


=Derbyshire.= By J. B. FIRTH. With Illustrations by NELLY ERICHSEN.

_DAILY TELEGRAPH._--"The result is altogether delightful, for
'Derbyshire' is as attractive to the reader in his arm-chair as to the
tourist wandering amid the scenes Mr. Firth describes so well."


* =Devon and Cornwall.= By ARTHUR H. NORWAY. With Illustrations by
JOSEPH PENNELL and HUGH THOMSON.

_DAILY CHRONICLE._--"So delightful that we would gladly fill columns
with extracts were space as elastic as imagination.... The text is
excellent: the illustrations of it are even better."


=Donegal and Antrim.= By STEPHEN GWYNN. With Illustrations by HUGH
THOMSON.

_DAILY TELEGRAPH._--"A perfect book of its kind, on which author,
artist, and publisher have lavished of their best."


* =Dorset.= By Sir FREDERICK TREVES. With Illustrations by JOSEPH
PENNELL.

_STANDARD._--"A breezy, delightful book, full of sidelights on men and
manners, and quick in the interpretation of all the half-inarticulate
lore of the countryside."


* =East Anglia.= By WILLIAM A. DUTT. With Illustrations by JOSEPH
PENNELL.

_WORLD._--"Of all the fascinating volumes in the 'Highways and Byways'
series, none is more pleasant to read.... Mr. Dutt, himself an East
Anglian, writes most sympathetically and in picturesque style of the
district."


* =Galloway and Carrick.= By the REV. C. H. DICK. With Illustrations by
HUGH THOMSON.

_SATURDAY REVIEW._--"The very book to take with one into that romantic
angle of Scotland, which lies well aside of the beaten tourist track."


* =Hampshire.= By D. H. MOUTRAY READ. With Illustrations by ARTHUR B.
CONNOR.

_STANDARD._--"In our judgment, as excellent and as lively a book as
has yet appeared in the Highways and Byways Series."


* =Thomas Hardy's Wessex.= By HERMANN LEA. With Illustrations from
Photographs by the Author. [_Pocket Edition only._


=Hertfordshire.= By HERBERT W. TOMPKINS, F. R. Hist. S. With
Illustrations by FREDERICK L. GRIGGS.

_WESTMINSTER GAZETTE._--" A very charming book.... Will delight
equally the artistic and the poetic, the historical and the
antiquarian, the picturesque and the sentimental kinds of tourist."


* =Kent.= By WALTER JERROLD. With Illustrations by HUGH THOMSON.

_PALL MALL GAZETTE._--"A book over which it is a pleasure to pore, and
which every man of Kent or Kentish man, or 'foreigner,' should
promptly steal, purchase, or borrow.... The illustrations alone are
worth twice the money charged for the book."


* =Lake District.= By A. G. BRADLEY. With Illustrations by JOSEPH
PENNELL.

_ST. JAMES'S GAZETTE._--"A notable edition--an engaging volume, packed
with the best of all possible guidance for tourists. For the most part
the artist's work is as exquisite as anything of the kind he has
done."


=Leicestershire.= By J. B. FIRTH. With Illustrations by FREDERICK L.
GRIGGS. [_In the press._


=Lincolnshire.= By W. F. RAWNSLEY. With Illustrations by FREDERICK L.
GRIGGS.

_PALL MALL GAZETTE._--"A splendid record of a storied shire."


=London.= By Mrs. E. T. COOK. With Illustrations by HUGH THOMSON and
FREDERICK L. GRIGGS.

_GRAPHIC._--"Mrs. Cook is an admirable guide; she knows her London in
and out; she is equally at home in writing of Mayfair and of City
courts, and she has a wealth of knowledge relating to literary and
historical associations. This, taken together with the fact that she
is a writer who could not be dull if she tried, makes her book very
delightful reading."


=Middlesex.= By WALTER JERROLD. With Illustrations by HUGH THOMSON.

_EVENING STANDARD._--"Every Londoner who wishes to multiply fourfold
the interest of his roamings and excursions should beg, borrow, or buy
it without a day's delay."


* =Normandy.= By PERCY DEARMER, M.A. With Illustrations by JOSEPH
PENNELL. [_Pocket Edition only._

_ST. JAMES'S GAZETTE._--"A charming book.... Mr. Dearmer is as
arrestive in his way as Mr. Pennell. He has the true topographic eye.
He handles legend and history in entertaining fashion."


* =Northamptonshire and Rutland.= By HERBERT A. EVANS. With
Illustrations by FREDERICK L. GRIGGS. [_Pocket Edition only._

_TIMES._--"A pleasant, gossiping record.... Mr. Evans is a guide who
makes us want to see for ourselves the places he has seen."


=Northumbria.= By P. ANDERSON GRAHAM. With Illustrations by HUGH
THOMSON.

_NATION._--"None of the contributors to the series has been more
successful than Mr. Graham."


* =Nottinghamshire.= By J. B. FIRTH. With Illustrations by FREDERICK L.
GRIGGS.

_DAILY TELEGRAPH._--"A book that will rank high in the series which it
augments; a book that no student of our Midland topography and of
Midland associations should miss."


* =Oxford and the Cotswolds.= By H. A. EVANS. With Illustrations by
FREDERICK L. GRIGGS.

_DAILY TELEGRAPH._--"The author is everywhere entertaining and fresh,
never allowing his own interest to flag, and thereby retaining the
close attention of the reader."


=Shakespeare's Country.= By The Ven. W. H. HUTTON. With Illustrations
by EDMUND H. NEW.

_PALL MALL GAZETTE._--"Mr. Edmund H. New has made a fine book a thing
of beauty and a joy for ever by a series of lovely drawings."


* =Somerset.= By EDWARD HUTTON. With Illustrations by NELLY ERICHSEN.

_DAILY TELEGRAPH._--"A book which will set the heart of every
West-country-man beating with enthusiasm, and with pride for the
goodly heritage into which he has been born as a son of Somerset."


* =Surrey.= By ERIC PARKER. With Illustrations by HUGH THOMSON.

_SPECTATOR._--"A very charming book, both to dip into and to read....
Every page is sown with something rare and curious."


* =Sussex.= By E. V. LUCAS. With Illustrations by FREDERICK L. GRIGGS.

_WESTMINSTER GAZETTE._--"A delightful addition to an excellent
series.... Mr. Lucas's knowledge of Sussex is shown in so many fields,
with so abundant and yet so natural a flow, that one is kept
entertained and charmed through every passage of his devious
progress."


* =North Wales.= By A. G. BRADLEY. With Illustrations by HUGH THOMSON
and JOSEPH PENNELL.

_PALL MALL GAZETTE._--"To read this fine book makes us eager to visit
every hill and every valley that Mr. Bradley describes with such
tantalising enthusiasm. It is a work of inspiration, vivid, sparkling,
and eloquent--a deep well of pleasure to every lover of Wales."


=South Wales.= By A. G. BRADLEY. With Illustrations by FREDERICK L.
GRIGGS.

_SPECTATOR._--"Mr. Bradley has certainly exalted the writing of a
combined archæological and descriptive guide-book into a species of
literary art. The result is fascinating."


* =Wiltshire.= By EDWARD HUTTON. With Illustrations by NELLY ERICHSEN.

_DAILY GRAPHIC._--"Replete with enjoyable and informing reading....
Illustrated by exquisite sketches."


* =Yorkshire.= By ARTHUR H. NORWAY. With Illustrations by JOSEPH
PENNELL and HUGH THOMSON.

_PALL MALL GAZETTE._--"The wonderful story of Yorkshire's past
provides Mr. Norway with a wealth of interesting material, which he
has used judiciously and well; each grey ruin of castle and abbey he
has re-erected and re-peopled in the most delightful way. A better
guide and story-teller it would be hard to find."


MACMILLAN AND CO., LTD., LONDON.





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