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Title: Saunterings in and about London
Author: Schlesinger, Max
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  [Every attempt has been made to replicate the original as printed.
 Unusual spellings (i.e. Mississipi, ancles, chesnuts, dont, wofully,
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   corrected; a list follows the text. (note of etext transcriber.)]



                   SAUNTERINGS IN AND ABOUT LONDON.



                                LONDON:
                   J. WERTHEIMER AND CO., PRINTERS,
                        CIRCUS-PLACE, FINSBURY.

              [Illustration: DRURY LANE--SATURDAY NIGHT.

                                p. 269.]

            [Illustration: SAUNTERINGS IN AND ABOUT LONDON

           LONDON: NATHANIEL COOKE, MILFORD HOUSE, STRAND.]



                       SAUNTERINGS IN AND ABOUT
                                LONDON.

                                  BY
                           MAX SCHLESINGER.

                          THE ENGLISH EDITION
                                  BY
                           OTTO WENCKSTERN.

                                LONDON:
                NATHANIEL COOKE, MILFORD HOUSE, STRAND.

                                 1853.



PREFACE

TO THE ENGLISH EDITION.


Prefaces, generally speaking, are pleadings, in which authors,
anticipating public censure, and well knowing how richly they deserve
it, adduce sundry reasons why their books are not shorter or longer, and
altogether different from the volumes which then and there they bring
into the market.

I need not make any such excuses, for I did not write for an English
public, nor did I ever pretend to popularity in England. The
"SAUNTERINGS" were intended for the profit and amusement of my German
countrymen; and I must say I was not a little pleased and surprised
with the very flattering reception which my book experienced at the
hands of the English critics. Their favourable opinion, which they so
emphatically and--I am selfish enough to go the whole length of the
word--so _ably_ expressed, has probably caused the production of the
book in an English dress. The critics, therefore, must bear the
responsibility, if the general public should happen to condemn these
"Saunterings," as "weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable," and shelve
them accordingly.

MAX SCHLESINGER.

_London_, _October, 1853_.



CONTENTS.


THE FIRST PART.

CHAP. I.

IN WHICH THE READER IS INTRODUCED TO SOME OF THE AUTHOR'S FRIENDS.--THE
ENGLISHMAN'S CASTLE......1

CHAP. II.

Street Life.--CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MASSES.--FASHIONABLE QUARTERS.--HOW
MR. FALCON SAID GOOD BYE TO HIS CUSTOMERS.--THE CROSSING IN
HOLBORN.--MOSES AND SON.--ADVERTISING VANS.--THE PUFFING MANIA, ITS
PHASES AND CAUSES......12

CHAP. III.

The Squares.--Lincoln's Inn......25

CHAP. IV.

Up the Thames.--Vauxhall.--THE RIVER SIDE.--VIEWS OF THE RIVER.--THE
TIDES.--THE BRIDGES.--THE TEMPLE AND SOMERSET HOUSE.--ENTRANCE TO
VAUXHALL.--BRITISH DECORATIVE GENIUS.--SOMEBODY RUNS AWAY WITH DR.
KEIF.--MAGIC.--NELSON AND WELLINGTON.--THE CIRCUS.--THE BURNING OF
MOSCOW.--AN EPISODE AT THE TEA TABLE......31

CHAP. V.

The Police.--THE LONDON POLICE.--JOURNEY FROM PARIS TO
LONDON.--THE POLITICS OF THE FORCE.--ITS MODE OF ACTION
ILLUSTRATED.--DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE POLICE IN ENGLAND AND ON THE
CONTINENT.--DETECTIVES.--ROOKERIES.--THE POLICEMAN AS A CITIZEN......45

CHAP. VI.

Newgate and its Neighbourhood.--RIVERS UNDER GROUND.--DIVISION OF
LABOUR.--EXECUTIONS.--THE PEOPLE'S FESTIVALS.--PREDILECTION
FOR CRIMINAL CASES.--STATISTICS OF
NEWGATE.--PATERNOSTER-ROW.--SMITHFIELD.--SELF-GOVERNMENT, ITS BRIGHT AND
DARK SIDES......58

CHAP. VII.

Street Life.--The Post-office.--LONDON AND THE OCEAN.--HOW YOU MAY
ATTACK THE REPUTATION OF EITHER.--THE METROPOLIS "EN NEGLIGÉE."--THE
POST-OFFICE.--THE MODERN LETTER-WRITER.--MONEY ORDERS.--PENNY
STAMPS, THEIR USE AND ABUSE.--JOHN BULL AND THE CHANCELLOR OF
THE EXCHEQUER.--HOW MR. BULL IMPOSES UPON THAT RESPECTABLE
FUNCTIONARY.--WHAT IS A NEWSPAPER.--THE GREAT HALL OF THE POST-OFFICE AT
SIX P.M......67

CHAP. VIII.

Sunlight.--Moonlight.--Gaslight.--THE SUN AND THE
LONDONERS.--MYSTERIES OF THE FOG.--HARVEST MOONS.--GAS.--HOW
THE CLIMATE WORKS.--FLANNELS.--ENGLISH DINNERS AND FRENCH
THEATRICALS.--CURRENT PHRASES......82

CHAP. IX.

The City Capitol.--THE LORD MAYOR'S RETREAT.--THE NINTH OF
NOVEMBER.--CITY PROCESSIONS.--"THE TIMES" AND THE CITY.--THE STOCK
EXCHANGE.--A PIECE OF SELF-GOVERNMENT.--LLOYD'S.--RETURN TO SIR JOHN,
AND SOME OF THE OPINIONS OF THAT WORTHY......89

CHAP. X.

Hyde Park.--PILGRIMAGE TO THE FAR WEST.--OXFORD-STREET.--HYDE-PARK IN
THE SEASON.--ROTTEN ROW.--THE DUKE AND THE QUEEN.--THE FRONT OF THE
CRYSTAL PALACE.--DR. KEIF ENTERS, MAKES A SPEECH ON BRITISH LOYALTY, AND
EXIT.--THE IRON SHUTTERS OF APSLEY HOUSE.--THE BRITISH GENERAL AND THE
RIOTERS......103

CHAP. XI.

The Quarters of Fashion.--THE BEAUTIES OF NATURE.--FASHIONABLE
QUARTERS.--LONDON IN 1752.--ST. JAMES'S PALACE.--PAST AND PRESENT.--PALL
MALL.--THE LAND OF CLUBS.--MRS. GRUNDY ON THE CLUBS.--ST. JAMES'S
PARK.--BUCKINGHAM PALACE.--WATERLOO PLACE.--TRAFALGAR-SQUARE......112

CHAP. XII.

Gentlemen and Foreigners.--ONE OF DR. KEIF'S ADVENTURES.--MANNERS AND
CUSTOMS OF OLD ENGLAND.--A NEW ACQUAINTANCE.--ENGLISH Flegeljahre.--THE
ORDINANCES OF FASHION.--OUR FRIEND'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY.--THE GENTLEMAN'S
OCCUPATIONS AND ECCENTRICITIES.--FOREIGNERS.--JOHN BULL ON FOREIGNERS
GENERALLY.--STRIFE AND PEACE......121


THE SECOND PART.

CHAP. I.

Down the Thames.--RIVER SCENE AT LONDON BRIDGE.--COLLIERS FROM
NEWCASTLE.--THE CUSTOM-HOUSE.--THE POOL.--THE DANGERS OF THE THAMES.--AN
ENGLISHMAN AFLOAT.--RE-APPEARANCE OF DR. KEIF AND MR. BAXTER.--BOATING
SCENES.--THE THAMES TUNNEL.--PRIVATE DOCKS.--HOW ENGLISHMEN BUILD SHIPS
FOR FOREIGNERS.--GREENWICH.--OLD SOLDIERS IN ENGLAND AND
GERMANY.--HOTELS AND POT-HOUSES.--GREENWICH PARK......135

CHAP. II.

The Theory of Locomotion.--WHEN DOCTORS DISAGREE, ETC.--CLIMATE
VARIETIES OF LONDON.--LOCOMOTION.--ITS MODES AND DIFFICULTIES.--RULES
AND REGULATIONS FOR PEDESTRIANS.--CARRIAGES.--CAB-LAW AND
LAWLESSNESS.--CABMEN AND WATERMEN.--NOTES OF AN OMNIBUS
PASSENGER.--DRIVERS AND CONDUCTORS.--STAGE-COACHES.--METROPOLITAN
RAILWAYS......154

CHAP. III.

The Quarters of Royalty and Government.--WHITEHALL, PAST AND
PRESENT.--DOWNING STREET.--PARIS AND LONDON.--ENGLISH AND FRENCH
STATESMEN.--THE DIFFERENCE.--THE ADMIRERS OF FRANCE.--ENGLISH RESPECT
FOR THE ARISTOCRACY......171

CHAP. IV.

Westminster.--The Parliament.--THE ABBEY.--THE HALL.--AN M.P.'S
LIFE.--THE NEW HOUSES.--THEIR STYLE, CORRIDORS, AND LIBRARIES.--THE
SUFFERINGS OF THE PUBLIC.--THE SPEAKER.--SIR JOHN AND DR. KEIF IN THE
GALLERY.--LADIES AND REPORTERS.--THE TABLE OF THE HOUSE.--THE
SERGEANT-AT-ARMS.--PARLIAMENTARY ETIQUETTE.--THE TWO
HOUSES.--DISRAELI.--PALMERSTON.--SIR JOHN PRAISETH THE LATTER.--COLONEL
SIBTHORP.--LORD JOHN RUSSELL.--PUBLIC SPEAKING IN ENGLAND......181

CHAP. V.

The Periodical Press.--Its Mechanism and Distribution.--THE ENGLISH
PRESS GENERALLY.--THE "TIMES" AND THE OTHER JOURNALS.--THE EVENING
PAPERS.--THE PUBLICATION OF THE MORNING PAPERS.--ANTICIPATION OF
NEWS.--SPECIAL TRAINS.--PUBLICATION OF WEEKLY PAPERS.--THE READING
PUBLIC.--ADVANTAGES OF WEEKLY PAPERS.--THE PROVINCIAL PRESS.--WHY IT
CANNOT FLOURISH.--TRANSMISSION OF NEWSPAPERS.--THE NEWSVENDERS.--A
SCENE IN THE "GLOBE" OFFICE.--YOUNG HOPEFUL, THE NEWSBOY.--MR. SMIRKINS,
THE PARTY-MAN--THE NEWSVENDER'S EXCHANGE......203

CHAP. VI.

The Bank.--APPEARANCE OF THE BANK.--WANT OF RESPECT IN THE PRESENCE OF
PUBLIC FUNCTIONARIES.--THE PUBLIC AT THE BANK.--MYSTERIOUS
COMFORTS.--ENGLISH TASTE.--THE WONDERS OF MACHINERY.--A STRANGE
LIBRARY.--PRINTING THE NOTES.--HIDDEN PALACES.--THE TREASURY.--BAD
SOVEREIGNS--DR. KEIF, AND WHY THE ENGLISH KNOW NOTHING WHATEVER OF THE
AFFAIRS OF GERMANY......217

CHAP. VII.

Four-and-twenty Hours at the Times Office.--CROSSING THE ROAD.--THE
OWNERS OF THE "TIMES."--ITS SOUL; ITS EDITORS.--DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN THE "TIMES," EDITORS AND THE "REDACTEURS" OF GERMAN
NEWSPAPERS.--THE POLITICS OF THE "TIMES."--HOW THEY WRITE THE
"LEADERS."--SECRETS.--LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.--THE MANAGER'S
DEPARTMENT.--WHAT THE EDITORS DO.--THE PARLIAMENTARY CORPS.--THE
REPORTER'S GALLERY AND REFECTORY.--DIVISION, DISCIPLINE, AND OCCUPATION
OF THE REPORTERS.--MR. DOD.--THE SUMMARY-MAN.--THE STAFF.--THE
PENNY-A-LINERS.--SOCIAL POSITION OF ENGLISH JOURNALISM......231

CHAP. VIII.

A Frenchman's Notions.--DR. KEIF AT DINNER WITH A FRENCHMAN.--MONS.
GUERONNAY.--GRAND INTERNATIONAL CONTEST.--AN ARMISTICE.--SIR JOHN
SERMONISES.--THE GLORY OF FRANCE AND THE DOWNFALL OF ENGLAND.--SUNDRY
REMARKS ON THE OPERA AND THE BRITISH FEMALE; ON ENGLISH MUSIC AND FRENCH
POLITICS.--SIR JOHN A TRUE JOHN BULL.--A CONTROVERSY ON THE
STAIRS......250

CHAP. IX.

The Theatrical Quarters.--THE THEATRES.--THE POOR MAN'S SUNDAY.--GROUPS
FOR HOGARTH.--DR. KEIF AND MR. BAXTER AT THE OLYMPIC.--TRAGEDY AND
COMEDY IN ENGLAND.--MR. AND MRS. KEELEY.--MR. WIGAN.--MR. KEAN AND THE
BRIMLEYS.--METHODISM.--A PENNY THEATRE.--THE PANTOMIMES.--THE
BALLET.--THE STAGE IN ENGLAND AND GERMANY.--MATERIALISM.--DRURY-LANE AT
11-45 P.M.--MERRY OLD ENGLAND.--DRURY-LANE AT 1 A.M......265

APPENDIX.

CORRESPONDENCE.

LETTER I.--SIR JOHN TO DR. KEIF.....287

LETTER II.--DR. KEIF TO SIR JOHN.....289



SAUNTERINGS IN AND ABOUT LONDON.



THE FIRST PART.



CHAPTER I.

     IN WHICH THE READER IS INTRODUCED TO SOME OF THE AUTHOR'S
     FRIENDS.--THE ENGLISHMAN'S CASTLE.


"Are you aware, honorable and honored Sir John," said Dr. Keif, as he
moved his chair nearer to the fire, "are you aware that I am strongly
tempted to hate this country of yours?"

"Indeed!" replied Sir John, with a slight elongation of his
good-humoured face. "Really, Sir, you are quick of feeling. You have
been exactly two hours in London. Wait, compare, and judge. There are
thousands of your countrymen in London, and none of them ever think of
going back to Germany."

"And for good reasons too," muttered the Doctor.

"May I ask," said Sir John, after a short pause, "what can have shocked
you in England within two hours after your arrival?"

"Look at this cigar, sir! It won't burn, has a bad smell, drops its
ashes--and costs four times as much as a decent cigar in my own country.
Can you, in the face of this villanous cigar, muster the courage to talk
to me of your government and your constitution? This cigar, Sir, proves
that your boasted civilisation is sheer barbarity,--that your Cobden is
a humbug, and your free-trade a monstrous sham!"

"Does it indeed prove all that? Very well, Sir German," cried Sir John,
with a futile attempt to imitate the martial and inquisitorial bearing
of an Austrian _gendarme_. "Come, show me your passport! Did any one
here ask for it? Did they send you to the Guildhall for a _carte de
sureté_? Have the police expelled you from London? It's either one thing
or the other. It's either sterling liberty and cabbage-leaf cigars, or
real Havanas and all the miseries of your police. Take your choice,
sir."

"But I cannot take my choice, sir!" cried Dr. Keif. "They have hunted me
as you would hunt a fox, across all their fences of boundary lines to
the shores of the ocean, and into the very maw of that green-eyed
monster, Sea-sickness, which cast me forth vomiting on this barbarous
island, where men smoke lettuce and call it tobacco!" saying which, the
doctor flung his cigar into the grate, and sung, "_Was ist des Deutschen
Vaterland?_"

But the reader will most naturally ask, Who is this comical doctor, and
who is Sir John?

To which I make reply--they are two amiable and honest men who met on
the Continent years ago, and who, after a long separation, met again in
the heart of London, in Guildford-street, Russell-square.

Dr. Keif is an Austrian and a journalist. There is good in all, but none
are all good. Dr. Keif makes no exception to the common rule. He was so
far prejudiced as to write a batch of very neat _Feuilletons_, in which
he asserted that the Croats did not altogether conduct themselves with
grace at the sacking of Vienna, and that the Bohemian Czechs are not the
original race which gave birth to all the nations of the earth. He
denied also that German literature and science have ever been fostered
by the Servians; he alleged that Göthe had done more for the advancement
of science than the twenty-first battalion of the Royal and Imperial
Grenadiers, and he was abandoned enough to avow his opinion that a bad
government is worse than a good one. On account of these very
objectionable prejudices, the Doctor was summoned forthwith to depart
from Leipzig in Saxony, where he lived, and proceed to Vienna, there to
vindicate his doctrines or submit to a paternal chastisement. But the
Doctor objected to the fate of John Huss; perhaps his mind, corrupted
with German literature, was unable to appreciate the charms of a
military career in the ranks of the Austrian army. Dr. Keif left
Leipzig with all possible secresy; nor could he be induced to return,
even by the taunts of the official Vienna Zeitung, which justly accused
him of cowardice, since he preferred an ignominious flight to a contest
with only 600,000 soldiers, twelve fortresses, half a million of police
officers, and the "_peinliche Halsgerichts Ordnung_" of the late Empress
Maria Theresa. Whether Dr. Keif lacks courage or not, and all other
traits of his character will be sufficiently shown in the course of the
Wanderings through London, which we propose to make in his company.

Dr. Keif and the author live in the house of Sir John ----, a full-blown
specimen of the old English gentleman, and one worthy to be studied and
chronicled as a prototype of his countrymen. This house of ours is the
centre of our rambles, the point from which we start and to which we
return with the experiences we gathered in our excursions. And since an
English fireside and an English home are utter strangers to the most
ideal dreams of the German mind, we propose commencing our Wanderings
through London with a voyage of discovery through all the rooms and
garrets of our own house.

At the first step a German makes in one of the London streets, he must
understand that life in England is very different from life in Germany.
Not only are the walls of the houses black and smoky, but the houses do
not stand on a level with the pavement. A London street is in a manner
like a German high-road, which is skirted on either side with a deep
ditch. In the streets of London the houses on either side rise out of
deep side areas. These dry ditches are generally of the depth of from
six to ten feet, and that part of the house, which with us would form
the lower story, is here from ten to twelve feet under-ground. This moat
is uncovered, but it is railed in, and the communication between the
house door and the street is effected by a bridge neatly formed of
masonry.

Every English house has its fence, its iron stockade and its doorway
bridge. To observe the additional fortifications which every Englishman
invents for the greater security of his house is quite amusing. It is
exactly as if Louis Napoleon was expected to effect a landing daily
between luncheon and dinner, while every individual Englishman is
prepared to defend his household gods to the last drop of porter.

You may see iron railings, massive and high, like unto the columns which
crushed the Philistines in their fall; each bar has its spear-head, and
each spear-head is conscientiously kept in good and sharp condition. The
little bridge which leads to the house-door is frequently shut up; a
little door with sharp spikes protruding from it is prepared to hook the
hand of a bold invader. And it is said, that magazines of powder are
placed under the bridge for the purpose of blowing up a too pertinacious
assailant. This latter rumour I give for what it is worth. It is the
assertion of a Frenchman, whom the cleanliness of London drove to
despair, and who, in the malice of his heart, got satirical.

A mature consideration of the London houses shows, that the strength of
the fortification is in exact proportion to the elegance and value of
the house and its contents. The poor are satisfied with a wooden
stockade; the rich are safe behind their iron _chevaux de frise_, and in
front of palaces, club-houses, and other public buildings, the railings
are so high and strong as to engender the belief that the thieves of
England go about their business of housebreaking with scaling-ladders,
pick-axes, guns, and other formidable implements of destruction.

Every Englishman is a bit of a Vauban. Not only does he barricade his
house against two-legged animals of his own species, but his mania for
fortification extends to precautions against wretched dogs and cats. To
prevent these small cattle from making their way through the railings,
the Englishman fills the interstices with patent wire-net work, and the
very roofs are frequently divided by means, of similar contrivances.
Vainly will cats, slaves of the tender passion, make prodigious efforts
to squeeze themselves through those cruel, cruel walls, and vainly do
they, in accents touching, but not harmonious, pour their grief into the
silent ear of night. Vainly, I say, for an Englishman has little
sympathy with "love in a garret"; and as for love on the roof, he scorns
it utterly.

We now approach the street-door, and put the knocker in motion. Do not
fancy that this is an easy process. It is by far easier to learn the
language of Englishmen than to learn the language of the knocker; and
many strangers protest that a knocker is the most difficult of all
musical instruments.

It requires a good ear and a skilful hand to make yourself understood
and to escape remarks and ridicule. Every class of society announces
itself at the gate of the fortress by means of the rythm of the knocker.
The postman gives two loud raps in quick succession; and for the visitor
a gentle but peremptory _tremolo_ is _de rigueur_. The master of the
house gives a _tremolo crescendo_, and the servant who announces his
master, turns the knocker into a battering-ram, and plies it with such
goodwill that the house shakes to its foundations. Tradesmen, on the
other hand, butchers, milkmen, bakers, and green-grocers, are not
allowed to touch the knockers--they ring a bell which communicates with
the kitchen.

All this is very easy in theory but very difficult in practice. Bold,
and otherwise inexperienced, strangers believe that they assert their
dignity, if they move the knocker with conscious energy. Vain delusion!
They are mistaken for footmen. Modest people, on the contrary, are
treated as mendicants. The middle course, in this, as in other respects,
is most difficult.

Two different motives are assigned for this custom. Those who dislike
England on principle, and according to whom the very fogs are an
aristocratic abuse, assert that the various ways of plying the knocker
are most intimately connected with the prejudices of caste. Others again
say, that the arrangement is conducive to comfort, since the inmates of
the house know at once what sort of a visitor is desiring admittance.

As for me, I believe that a great deal may be said on either side; and I
acknowledge the existence of the two motives. But I ought to add, that
in new and elegant mansions the mediæval knocker yields its place to the
modern bell. The same fate is perhaps reserved for the whole of the
remainder of English old-fogyism. There are spots of decay in these much
vaunted islands; and now and then you hear the worm plainly as it gnaws
its way. I wish you the best of appetites, honest weevil!

We cross the threshold of the house.

Sacred silence surrounds us--the silence of peace, of domestic comfort,
doubly agreeable after a few hours' walk with the giddy turmoil of
street life. And with peace there is cleanliness, that passive virtue,
the first the stranger learns to love in the English people, because it
is the first which strikes his eye. That the English are capital
agriculturists, practical merchants, gallant soldiers, and honest
friends, is not written in their faces, any more than the outward aspect
of the Germans betrays their straight-forwardness, fitful melancholy,
and poetic susceptibility. But cleanliness, as an English national
virtue, strikes in modest obstrusiveness the vision even of the most
unobservant stranger.

The small space between the street-door and the stairs, hardly
sufficient in length and breadth to deserve the pompous name of a
"hall," is usually furnished with a couple of mahogany chairs, or, in
wealthier houses, with flower-pots, statuettes, and now and then a sixth
or seventh-rate picture. The floor is covered with oil-cloth, and this
again is covered with a breadth of carpet. A single glance tells us,
that after passing the threshold, we have at once entered the temple of
domestic life.

Here are no moist, ill-paved floors, where horses and carts dispute with
the passenger the right of way; where you stumble about in some dark
corner in search of still darker stairs; where, from the porter's lodge,
half a dozen curious eyes watch your unguided movements, while your
nostrils are invaded with the smell of onions, as is the case in Paris,
and also in Prague and Vienna. Nothing of the kind. The English houses
are like chimneys turned inside out; on the outside all is soot and
dirt, in the inside everything is clean and bright.

From the hall we make our way to the parlour--the refectory of the
house. The parlour is the common sitting-room of the family, the
centre-point of the domestic state. It is here that many eat their
dinners, and some say their prayers; and in this room does the lady of
the house arrange her household affairs and issue her commands. In
winter the parlour fire burns from early morn till late at night, and it
is into the parlour that the visitor is shewn, unless he happens to call
on a reception-day, when the drawing-rooms are thrown open to the
friends of the family.

Large folding-doors, which occupy nearly the whole breadth of the back
wall, separate the front from the back parlour, and when opened, the two
form one large room. The number and the circumstances of the family
devote this back parlour either to the purposes of a library for the
master, the son, or the daughters of the house, or convert it into a
boudoir, office, or breakfast-room. Frequently, it serves no purpose in
particular, and all in turn.

These two rooms occupy the whole depth of the house. All the other
apartments are above, so that there are from two to four rooms in each
story. The chief difference in the domestic apartments in England and
Germany consists in this division: in Germany, the members of a family
occupy a number of apartments on the same floor or "flat"; in England,
they live in a cumulative succession of rooms. In Germany, the
dwelling-houses are divided horizontally--here the division is vertical.

Hence it happens, that houses with four rooms communicating with one
another are very rare in London, with the exception only of the houses
in the very aristocratic quarters. Hence, also, each story has its
peculiar destination in the family geographical dictionary. In the first
floor are the reception-rooms; in the second the bed-rooms, with their
large four-posters and marble-topped wash-stands; in the third story are
the nurseries and servants' rooms; and in the fourth, if a fourth there
be, you find a couple of low garrets, for the occasional accommodation
of some bachelor friend of the family.

The doors and windows of these garrets are not exactly air-tight, the
wind comes rumbling down the chimney, the stairs are narrow and steep,
and the garrets are occasionally invaded by inquisitive cats and a
vagrant rat; but what of that? A bachelor in England is worse off than a
family cat. According to English ideas, the worst room in the house is
too good for a bachelor. They say--"Oh, he'll do very well!" What does a
bachelor care for a three-legged chair, a broken window, a ricketty
table, and a couple or so of sportive currents? It is exactly as if a
man took a special delight in rheumatism, tooth-ache, hard beds, smoking
chimneys, and the society of rats, until he has entered the holy state
of matrimony. The promise of some tender being to "love, honour, and
obey," would seem to change a bachelor's nature, and make him
susceptible of the amenities of domestic comfort. The custom is not
flattering to the fairer half of humanity. It is exactly as if the
comforts of one's sleeping-room were to atone for the sorrows of
matrimony, and as if a bachelor, from the mere fact of being unmarried,
were so happy and contented a being, that no amount of earthly
discomfort could ruffle the blissful tranquillity of his mind!

It was truly comical to see Dr. Keif, when the lady of the house first
introduced him to his "own room."

The politics and the police of Germany had given the poor fellow so much
trouble, that he had never once thought of taking unto himself a wife.
As a natural consequence of this lamentable state of things, his
quarters were assigned him in the loftiest garret of the house. Dismal
forebodings, which he tried to smile away, seized on his philosophical
mind as he mounted stairs after stairs, each set steeper and narrower
than the last. At length, on a mere excuse for a landing there is a
narrow door, and behind that door a mere corner of a garret. The Doctor
had much experience in the topography of the garrets of German college
towns; but the English garret in Guildford Street, Russell Square, put
all his experience to shame.

"I trust you'll be comfortable here," calls the lady after him, with a
malicious smile; for to enter the bachelor's room, would be a gross
violation of the rules and regulations of British decency. And before he
can make up his mind to reply, she has vanished down the steep stairs.

And the Doctor, with his hands meekly folded, stands in the centre of
his "own room." "Oh Bulwer, Dickens, and Thackeray"--such are his
thoughts--and thou, "Oh Punch, who describest the garrets of the British
bachelor! here, where I cease to understand the much-vaunted English
comfort, here do I begin to understand your writings! If I did not
happen to be in London, I should certainly like to be in Spandau. My own
Germany, with thy romantic fortresses and dungeon-keeps, how cruelly
hast thou been calumniated!"

There is a knock at the door. It is Sir John, who has come up for the
express purpose of witnessing the Doctor's admiration of his room. He
knows that the room will be admired, for to his patriotic view, there is
beauty in all and everything that is _English_. His patriotism revels in
old-established abuses, and stands triumphant amidst every species of
nuisance. The question, "How do you like your room?" is uttered exactly
with that degree of conscious pride which animated the King of Prussia
when, looking down from the keep of Stolzenfels Castle, he asked Queen
Victoria, "How do you like the Rhine?" And equally eager, though perhaps
not quite so sincere, was the Doctor's reply: "Oh very much! I am quite
enchanted with it! It is impossible to lose anything in this room, and
the losing things and groping about to find them was the plague of my
life at home in the large German rooms. A most excellent arrangement
this! Everything is handy and within reach. Bookcase, washstand, and
wardrobe--I need not even get up to get what I want--and as for this
table and these chairs, I presume that the occasional overturning of an
inkstand will but serve to heighten the quaint appearance of this
venerable furniture!"

"Of course," said Sir John, "certainly! this is liberty-hall, sir. But
mind you take care of the lamp, and pray do not sit in the draught
between the window and the door."

He does not exactly explain how it is possible to sit anywhere except in
the draught, for the limited space of the garret is entirely taken up
with draughts. Perhaps it is a sore subject, for, with an uneasy shrug
of the shoulders, the worthy Sir John adds:--

"But never mind. Comfortable, isn't it? And what do you say to the view,
eh? Beau-ti-ful! right away over all the roofs to Hampstead!"

He might as well have said to the Peak of Teneriffe; for the view is
obstructed with countless chimney-pots looming in the distant future
through perennial fog. Sir John is struck with this fact, as, measuring
the whole length of the apartment in three strides, he approaches the
window to enjoy the glorious view of Hampstead hills. He shuts the
window, and is evidently disappointed.

"Ah! never mind! very comfortable, air pure and bracing; very much so;
very different from the air in the lower rooms. And--I say, mind this is
the 'escape,'" says Sir John, opening a very small door at the side of
our friend's room. "If--heaven preserve us--there should be a fire in
the house, and if you should not be able to get down stairs, you may get
up here and make your escape over the roofs. That's what you will find
in every English house. Isn't it practical? eh! What do you say to it?"

The Doctor says nothing at all; he calculates his chances of escape
along that narrow ledge of wall, and thinks: "Really things are
beginning to look _awfully_ comfortable. If there should happen to be a
fire while I am in the house, I hope and trust I shall have time to
consider which is worst, to be made a male suttee of, or to tumble down
from the roof like an apoplectic sparrow."

We leave the Doctor between the horns of this dilemma, and descending a
good many more stairs than we ascended, we find our way to the haunts of
those who, in England, live under-ground--to the kitchen.

Here, too, everything is different from what we are accustomed to in
Germany. In the place of the carpets which cover the floors of the upper
rooms, we walk here on strong, solid oilcloths, which, swept and washed,
looks like marble, and gives a more comfortable aspect to an English
kitchen than any German housewife ever succeeded in imparting to the
scene of her culinary exercises. Add to this, bright dish-covers of
gigantic dimensions fixed to the wall, plated dishes, and sundry other
utensils of queer shapes and silvery aspect, interspersed with copper
sauce-pans and pots and china, the windows neatly curtained, with a
couple of flower-pots on the sill, and a branch of evergreens growing on
the wall round them--such is an English kitchen in its modest glory. A
large fire is always kept burning; and its ruddy glow heightens the
homeliness and comfort of the scene. There is no killing of animals in
these peaceful retreats. All the animals which are destined for
consumption, such as fowls, ducks, pigeons, and geese, are sold, killed,
and plucked in the London shops. When they are brought to the kitchen,
they are in such a condition, that nothing prevents their being put to
the fire. And then, in front of that fire, turned by a machine, dangle
large sections of sheep, calves, and oxen, of so respectable a size,
that the very sight of them would suffice to awe a German housewife.

Several doors in the kitchen open into sundry other subterraneous
compartments. There is a back-kitchen, whither the servants of the house
retire for the most important part of their daily labours--the talking
of scandal _apropos_ of the whole neighbourhood. There is also a small
room for the washing-up of plates and dishes, the cleaning of knives and
forks, of clothes and shoes. Other compartments are devoted to stores of
provisions, of coals, and wine and beer. Need I add, that all these are
strictly separate?

All these various rooms and compartments, from the kitchen up to Dr.
Keif's garret, are in modern London houses, lighted up with gas--and
pipes conducting fresh, filtered, and in many instances, hot water,
ascend into all the stories--and there is in all and everything so much
of really domestic and unostentatious comfort, that it would be very
uncomfortable to give a detailed description of every item of a cause
which contributes to the general and agreeable effect. Indeed, such a
description is simply impossible. Just let any one try to explain to an
Englishman the patriarchal physiognomy of a pot-bellied German stove; or
let him try to awake in the Englishman's wife a feeling, remotely akin
to sympathy, for the charming atmosphere of a German "_Kneipe_"; or make
an American understand what the German "_Bund_" is, and what it is good
for. To attempt this were a labour of Sysiphus--toil without a result.
Nothing short of actual experience will enable a man to understand and
value these national mysteries.



CHAP. II.

Street Life

     CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MASSES.--FASHIONABLE QUARTERS.--HOW MR.
     FALCON SAID GOOD BYE TO HIS CUSTOMERS.--THE CROSSING IN
     HOLBORN.--MOSES AND SON.--ADVERTISING VANS.--THE PUFFING MANIA, ITS
     PHASES AND CAUSES.


From our house, which is our starting point, we have several large and
small streets leading to the south and opening into Holborn, which is
one of the great arteries of this gigantic town. Holborn extends to the
east to the old prison of Newgate, where it joins the chief streets of
the city; in the west it merges into interminable Oxford-street, which
leads in a straight line to Hyde Park, and farther on to Kensington
Gardens and Bayswater.

"If to this large line of streets," says Dr. Keif, "you add the
Friedrichstrasse of Berlin, you get a line of houses which extend from
this day, Monday, into next week, and perhaps a good bit farther. But
any one who attempts to walk to the farther end of Oxford-street--I say
'_who attempts_,' for, since the English prefer a constitutional
monarchy to an absolute prince, they are surely capable of any act of
folly--any one, I say, who performs that insane feat, will find that the
Berlin Friedrichstrasse commences at the very last house of
Oxford-street."

For once Dr. Keif is wrong. Where Oxford-street ends, there you enter
into a charming English landscape--one green and hilly and altogether
captivating. But at the end of the Berlin Friedrichstrasse you enter
nothing but the sandy deserts of the Mark.

Holborn is a business street. It has a business character; there is no
mistaking it. Shops and plate-glass windows side by side on each hand;
costermongers and itinerant vendors all along the pavement; the houses
covered with signboards and inscriptions; busy crowds on either side;
omnibuses rushing to and fro in the centre of the road, and all around
that indescribable bewildering noise of human voices, carriage-wheels,
and horses' hoofs, which pervades the leading streets of crowded cities.

Not all the London streets have this business character. They are
divided into two classes: into streets where the roast-beef of life is
earned, and into streets where the said roast-beef is eaten. No other
town presents so strong a contrast between its various quarters. But a
few hundred yards from the leading thoroughfares, where hunger or
ambition hunt men on, extend for many miles the quiet quarters of
comfortable citizens, of wealthy fundholders, and of landed proprietors,
who come to town for "the season," and who return to their parks and
shooting-grounds as soon as her Majesty has been graciously pleased to
prorogue Parliament, and with Parliament the season.

These fashionable quarters are as quiet as our own provincial towns.
They have no shops; no omnibuses are allowed to pass through them, and
few costermongers or sellers of fruit, onions, oysters, and fish find
their way into these regions, for the cheapness of their wares has no
attractions for the inhabitants of these streets. These streets, too,
are macadamized expressly for the horses and carriages of the
aristocracy; such roads are more comfortable for all parties concerned,
that is to say, for horses, horsemen, and drivers, and the carriages
are, moreover, too light to do much harm to the road. In these streets,
too, there are neither counting-houses nor public-houses to disturb the
neighbourhood by their daily traffic and nightly revelries. Comfort
reigns supreme in the streets and in the interior of the houses. The
roadway is lined with pavements of large white beautiful flag-stones,
which skirt the area railings; it is covered with gravel, and carefully
watered, exactly as the broad paths of our public gardens, to keep down
the dust and deaden the rumbling of the carriages and the step of the
horses. The horses, too, are of a superior kind, and as different from
their poorer brethren, the brewer's, coal-merchant's, and omnibus
horses, as the part of the town in which they eat is different from the
part in which the latter work.

In the vicinity of the Parks, or in the outskirts of the town, or
wheresoever else such quarters have space to extend, you must admire
their unrivalled magnificence. From the velvety luscious green, which
receives a deeper shade from the dense dark foliage of the English
beech-tree, there arise buildings, like palaces, with stone terraces and
verandahs, more splendid, more beautiful, and more frequent than in any
town on the continent.

An Englishman is easily satisfied with the rough comforts of his place
of business. The counting-houses of the greatest bankers; the
establishments of the largest trading houses in the city have a gloomy,
heavy, and poverty-stricken appearance. But far different is the case
with respect to those places where an Englishman proposes to live for
himself and for his family.

A wealthy merchant who passes his days in a narrow city street, in a
dingy office, on a wooden stool, and at a plain desk, would think it
very "ungenteel" if he or his family were to live in a street in which
there are shops. And, although it may appear incredible, still it is
true, that in the better parts of the town there are many streets shut
up with iron gates, which gatekeepers open for the carriages and horses
of the residents or their visitors. These gates exclude anything like
noise and intrusion. Grocers, fishmongers, bakers, butchers, and all
other kitchen-tradesmen occupy, in the fashionable quarters, the nearest
lanes and side streets, and many of them live in close vicinity to the
mews. For no house, not even the largest, has a carriage-gate; and that
we, in Germany, shelter under our roofs our horses, grooms, and all the
odours of the stable, appears to the English as strange and mysterious,
generally speaking, as our mustachios, and our liberalism in matters of
religion.

We have endeavoured to draw the line of demarcation between the
residential parts of the town and the business quarters. This being
done, we return to Holborn.

Dr. Keif does not escape the common lot of every stranger in London
streets. His theories of walking on a crowded pavement are of the most
confused description, and the consequence is that he is being pushed
about in a woful manner; but, at each push, he expresses his immoderate
joy at having, for once, got into a crowded street, where a man must
labour hard if he would lounge and saunter about. All of a sudden he
stops in the middle of the pavement, and, adjusting his shirt-collar (a
recent purchase), he takes off his hat and bows to somebody or something
in the road. A natural consequence of all this is, that the passengers
dig their elbows into the Doctor's ribs, as they hurry along.

"To whom are you bowing with so much heroic devotion?"

"Whom? Why to Mr. Falcon, on the other side of the street."

"So you have found an acquaintance already? That is a rare case. Many a
man walks about for weeks without seeing a face he knows; and you have
scarcely left the house when--"

"But do you really think I know that Mr. Falcon on the other side of the
way?" Saying which the mysterious doctor bows again; and I, taking my
glass, find out that there are a dozen Mr. Falcons, hoisted on high
poles, parading the opposite pavement. Twelve men, out at elbows, move
in solemn procession along the line of road, each carrying a heavy pole
with a large table affixed to it, and on the table there is a legend in
large scarlet letters, "MR. FALCON REMOVED." It appears that Mr. Falcon,
having thought proper to remove from 146 Holborn, begs to inform the
nobility, the gentry, and the public generally, that he carries on his
business at 6 Argyle-street.

The Doctor, crossing his arms on his chest gravely, while the passengers
are pushing him about, says:

"Since Mr. Falcon is kind enough to inform me of his removal, I believe
I ought to take off my hat to his advertisement. But only think of those
poor fellows groaning under Mr. Falcon's gigantic cards. He is an
original, Mr. Falcon is, and I should like to make his acquaintance."

Again the Doctor is wrong in fancying, as he evidently does, that Mr.
Falcon sends his card-bearers, with the news of his removal, through the
whole of London. Why should he? Perhaps he sold cigars, or buttons, or
yarns, in Holborn; and it is there he is known, while no one in other
parts of the town cares a straw for Mr. Falcon's celebrated and
unrivalled cigars, buttons, or yarns. His object is to inform the
inhabitants of his own quarter of his removal, and of his new address.

The twelve men with the poles and boards need not go far. From early
dawn till late at night they parade the site of Mr. Falcon's old shop.
They walk deliberately and slowly, to enable the passengers to read the
inscription at their ease. They walk in Indian file to attract
attention, and because in any other manner they would block up the way.
But they walk continually, silently, without ever stopping for rest.
Thus do they carry their poles, for many days and even weeks, until
every child in the neighbourhood knows exactly where Mr. Falcon is
henceforward to be found, for the moving column of large
scarlet-lettered boards is too striking; and no one can help looking at
them and reading the inscription. And this is a characteristic piece of
what we Germans call British industry.

There is no other town in the world where people advertise with so much
persevering energy--on so grand a scale--at such enormous expense--with
such impertinent puffery--and with such distinguished success.

We have just reached a point in Holborn where, a great many streets
crossing, leave a small, irregular spot, in the middle. In the centre of
this spot, surrounded by a railing, and raised in some masonry, is a
gigantic lamp-post, and the whole forms what one might call an island of
the streets. Every now and then the protection of this island is sought
by groups of women and children who, amidst the noise and the wheels of
so many vehicles that dash along in every direction, shrink from a bold
rush across the whole breadth of the street. As Noah's dove thought
itself lucky in having found an olive branch to alight on amidst the
waters of the deluge, so do tender women breathe more quietly, and look
around with greater composure, after having reached this street-island,
where they are safe from the ever-returning tide of street life.

Leaning against the lamp-post we are at leisure to look around and see
the moving beings, things, and objects, which rush past on every side;
and for the nonce we will devote a special attention to the various
advertising tricks.

The time--Night. One of those clear, fogless, calm summer nights which
are so "few and far between" in this large town. The life-blood in the
street-veins runs all the fuller, faster, and merrier, for the beauty
of the night. Holborn is inundated with gas-light; but the brightest
glare bursts forth exactly opposite to us. Who, in the name of all that
is prudent, can the people be who make such a shocking waste of gas?
They are "Moses and Son," the great tailors and outfitters, who have
lighted up the side-fronts of their branch establishment. All round the
outer walls of the house, which is filled with coats, vests, and
trousers, to the roof, and which exhibits three separate side-fronts
towards three separate streets, there are many thousands of gas-flames,
forming branches, foliage, and arabesques, and sending forth so dazzling
a blaze, that this fiery column of Moses is visible to Jews and Gentiles
at the distance of half a mile, lighting up the haze which not even the
clearest evening can wholly banish from the London sky.

Among the fiery flowers burns the inevitable royal crown, surmounting
the equally unavoidable letters V.R. To the right of these letters we
have Moses and Son blessing the Queen in flaming characters of
hydro-carbon; to the left they bless the people.[A]

 [A] "God save the Queen," and "God bless the people," are the legends
 of these Mosaic illuminations.

What do they make this illumination for? This is not a royal birthday,
nor is it the anniversary of a great national victory. All things
considered, this ought to be a day of mourning and fasting for Messrs.
Moses and Son, for the Commons of England have this very afternoon
decided that Alderman Salomons shall not take his seat in the House.

Motives of loyalty, politics, or religion, have nothing whatever to do
with the grand illuminations executed by Messrs. Moses and Son. The air
is calm, there is not even a breath of wind; it's a hundred to one that
Oxford Street and Holborn will be thronged with passengers; this is our
time to attract the idlers. Up, boys, and at them! light the lamps! A
heavy expense this, burning all that gas for ever so many hours; but it
pays, somehow. Boldness carries the prize, and faint heart never won
fair customers. And if it were not for that c----d police and the
Insurance Companies, by Jingo! it were the best advertisement to burn
the house and shop at least twice a year. That would puff us up, and
make people stare, and go the round of all the newspapers. Capital
advertisement that, eh!

Being strollers in the streets, we delight in this extempore
illumination. It is our object to see and observe; and Messrs. Moses and
Son convert night into day for our especial accommodation. A whole
legion of lesser planets bask in the region of this great sun. Crowds of
subordinate advertising monsters have been attracted to this part of the
street, and move about in various shapes, to the right and to the left,
walking, rolling on wheels, and riding on horseback.

Behold, rolling down from Oxford Street, three immense wooden
pyramids--their outsides are painted all over with hieroglyphics and
with monumental letters in the English language. These pyramids display
faithful portraits of Isis and Osiris, of cats, storks, and of the apis;
and amidst these old-curiosity-shop gods, any Englishman may read an
inscription, printed in letters not much longer than a yard, from which
it appears that there is now on view a panorama of Egypt--one more
beautiful, interesting, and instructive than was ever exhibited in
London. For this panorama--we are still following the inscription--shows
the flux and reflux of the Nile, with its hippopotamuses and crocodiles,
and a section of the Red Sea, as mentioned in Holy Writ, and part of the
last overland mail, and also the railway from Cairo to Alexandria,
exactly as laid out in Mr. Stephenson's head. And all this for only one
shilling! with a full, lucid, and interesting lecture into the bargain.

The pyramids advance within three yards from where we stand, and, for a
short time, they take their ease in the very midst of all the lights,
courting attention. But the policeman on duty respects not the monuments
of the Pharaohs; he moves his hand, and the drivers of the pyramids,
though hidden in their colossal structures, see and understand the sign:
they move on.

But here is another monstrous shape--a mosque, with its cupola blue and
white, surmounted by the crescent. The driver is a light-haired boy,
with a white turban and a sooty face. There is no mistaking that fellow
for an Arab; and, nevertheless, the turban and the soot make a profound
impression.

"We are being invaded by the East!" says Dr. Keif. "They are going to
give a panoramic explanation of the Oriental question. If I were Lord
Palmerston, I'd put a stop to that sort of thing. It's a high crime and
misdemeanour against diplomacy. Pray call for the police!"

But Dr. Keif is wrong again. On the back of the mosque there is an
advertisement, which is as much a stranger to the Oriental question as
the German diplomates are. That advertisement tells us, that Dr. Doem is
proprietor of a most marvellous Arabian medicine, warranted to cure the
bite of mad dogs and venomous reptiles generally; even so, that a person
so bitten, if he but takes Dr. Doem's medicine, shall feel no more
inconvenience than he would feel from a very savage leader in the
_Morning Herald_. The mosque, the blue crescent, the gaudy colours, and
the juvenile Arab from the banks of the Thames, have merely been got up
to attract attention. There need be no very intimate connexion between
the things puffed and the street symbolics which puff them.
Heterogeneous ideas are as much an aid to puffing as homogeneous ideas.
If ever you should happen to go to Grand Cairo, rely on it, every cupola
of a mosque, peeping out from palm-groves and aloe-hedges, will remind
you of Dr. Doem and his Arabian medicine, as advertised in Holborn in
Europe. Allah is great, and the cunning of English speculators is as
deep as the sea where it is deepest.

Hark! a peal of trumpets! Another advertising machine rushes out of the
gloom of Museum Street. In this instance the Orient is not put in
requisition. The turn-out is thoroughly English.

Two splendid cream-coloured horses, richly harnessed; a dark green
chariot of fantastic make, in shape like a half-opened shell, and
tastefully ornamented with gilding and pictures; on the box a coachman
in red and gold, looking respectable and almost aristocratic, with his
long whip on his knee; and behind him the trumpeters, seated in the
chariot, and proclaiming its advent. In this manner have the people of
London of late months been invited to Vauxhall--to that same Vauxhall,
which, under the Regency, attracted all the wealth, beauty, and fashion
in England--which, to this very day, still attracts hundreds of
thousands; whose good and ill fame has crossed the ocean. Even
Vauxhall--the old and famous--makes no exception to the common lot; it
is compelled to have its posters, its newspaper advertisements, and its
advertising vans.

In no other town would such tricks be necessary conditions of existence;
but here, where everything is grand and bulky--in this town of
miraculous extent, where generations live and die in the East-end
without ever having beheld the wonders of the West-end--among this
population, which is reckoned by millions instead of by hundreds of
thousands--here, where all press and rush on to make money or to spend
it--here, where every one must distinguish himself in some way or other,
or be lost and perish in the crowd--where every hour has its
novelty--here, in London, even the most solid undertakings must assume
the crying colour of charlatanism.

The Panorama of the Nile, the Overland Route, the Colosseum, Madame
Tussaud's Exhibition of Wax-works, and other sights, are indeed
wonder-works of human industry, skill, and invention; and, in every
respect, are they superior to the usual productions of the same kind.
But, for all that, they must send their advertising vans into the
streets; necessity compels them to strike the gong and blow the trumpet;
choice there is none. They must either advertise or perish.

The same may be said of great institutions of a different kind; of fire
and life insurance companies; of railways and steamers; and of
theatres--from Punch's theatre in the Strand, upwards, to the Royal
Italian Opera, which ransacks Europe for musical celebrities, and which,
nevertheless, must condescend to magnify its own glory on gigantic
many-coloured posters, though it has managed, up to the present day, to
do without the vans, trumpets, and sham Nubians.

It is either advertising or being ruined. We have said it before. Many
of our readers will think this a bold and unwarranted assertion. It is
neither the one nor the other; for it is founded on the experience of
many men of business. Of many examples we quote but one.

Mr. Bennett keeps a large shop of clocks and watches in Cheapside. His
watches and clocks are among the best in London; they have an
old-established reputation, and they deserve it. But their reputation is
not owing to their excellency alone; it required many years of
advertising, years of continual and expensive advertising, to inculcate
this great fact on the obtuse, bewildered, and deluded Londoners. Thanks
to Mr. Bennett's perseverance they were at length convinced. And, when a
few years ago, the reputation of the firm had spread throughout the
length and breadth of the land, it struck Mr. Bennett that now was the
time to put a stop to this expensive process of advertising. "In
future," said that gentleman, "I mean to take the full interest from my
capital instead of paying part of it to the printers." And he set at
once about it. In the year in which Mr. Bennett took this bold
resolution, the firm spent a few thousand pounds less than usual in
advertisements. But the consequences made themselves felt; and as month
followed month, they became still more disagreeably perceptible. Mr.
Bennett understood that in London virtue is its own reward, provided it
keeps a trumpeter; and as Mr. Bennett was not an obstinate theorist, he
had again recourse to the printing-press. He advertises to this very
day, and to a greater extent, if possible, than formerly. In proof
whereof we quote his advertisement in the Catalogue of the Great
Exhibition, on which occasion he paid £900 (say nine hundred pounds
sterling), for the insertion of his advertisement on the back of the
wrapper.

Mr. Bennett's business is as prosperous as ever. Of course, his watches
were quite as good during the period he did not advertise; but the
public was about to forget him. Advertising is an indispensable item in
the expenditure of a London trader.

While we were talking of Mr. Bennett's shop in Cheapside, the little
lamp-post Square in Holborn has become more quiet. Two coal-waggons,
each with four elephantine, thick-necked, broad-footed horses have
suddenly emerged from the darkness of one of the side-streets. The
half-circle which these clumsy horses must make in order to obtain a
_locus standi_ in the street of Holborn, causes a general stoppage among
the vehicles, which up to the present have been proceeding in regular
order, at an all but uniform pace. For a few moments we are relieved
from the clanking of chains, the rattling of wheels, and the dull
rumbling of wooden pyramids and vans. Now is the time for the lesser
sprites of the advertising mysteries.

A boy on our right puts printed papers into our hands. On the left, the
same process is attempted by an elderly man of respectable appearance,
who jerks his arm with what he believes to be a graceful indifference,
while everybody else would mistake that same jerk for a convulsive
gesture of despondency. Just before us we have a man with a pole and
board, recommending some choice blacking, and on the opposite pavement
there is a Hindoo dressed in white flannel, with a turban on his head,
and with all the sorrow of a ruined nation in his handsome brown face
and chiselled features. At his side is a little girl dressed in filthy
rags. The Hindoo has a bundle of printed papers in his hand,
Sabbatarian, temperance, and other tracts--inestimable treasures--which
he offers to the public at the very low price of one penny each. That
poor fellow got those tracts from some sacred society as a consideration
for allowing them to convert him to Christianity. But his sad face is a
sorry recommendation of the treasures of comfort he proposes to dispose
of. Better for him to stand in primitive nudity among his native
palm-forests, adoring the miracles of nature in the Sun, and in Brahma,
than to shiver here on the cold, wet pavement, cursing the torments of
want in the image of the sacred Saviour. On the banks of the Ganges that
man prayed to God; here, among strangers, he learns to hate mankind. But
then he was a pagan on the banks of the Ganges; on the banks of the
Thames he has the name of a Christian. Whether or no the Christian is
really more religious than the Pagan was, is a question which seems to
give little trouble to the pious missionaries. The Bible Society has
done its duty.

Our worthy friend, Dr. Keif was, it seems, also struck with the
melancholy aspect of the Hindoo. He made a bold rush across the street,
put some pence into the tiny brown hand of the little girl, and took in
return a tract on "True Devotion," which he did not read, but crushing
it into a paper ball, angrily, threw it into the gutter. He had taken
the tract out of consideration for the poor man's feelings. "It's
begging under the pretence of selling," said the worthy Doctor in a
great rage, "but

[Illustration: THE SAUNTER IN HOLBORN.

p. 22.]

since the delusion is a comfort to him, I would not for the world offer
him money without taking one of his papers!"

It was very naughty in the Doctor to fling that tract away as he did. As
a punishment, we were immediately assailed by a set of imps who mistook
us for easy victims on the altars of speculation.

Men with cocoa-nuts and dates, and women with oranges surrounded us with
their carts. One man recommended his dog-collars of all sizes, which he
had formed in a chain round his neck; another person offered to mark our
linen; a third produced his magic strops; others held out note-books,
cutlery, prints, caricatures, exhibition-medals--all--all--all for one
penny. It seemed as if the world were on sale at a penny a bit. And
amidst all this turmoil, the men with advertising boards walked to and
fro; and the boys distributed advertising bills by the hundred, with
smiles of deep bliss, whenever they met a charitable soul who took them.

The coal-waggons are gone, and the street noise is as loud as ever.

Are we to remain here and pursue our studies of the natural history of
advertising vans? It is not likely we shall see them all, for their
numbers are incalculable. They generate according to abnormal laws. Each
day and each event produces another form. The Advertisement is
omnipresent. It is in the skies and on the ground; it swells as the flag
in the breeze, and it sets its seal on the pavement; it is on the water,
on the steam-boat wharf, and under the water in the Thames tunnel; it
roosts on the highest chimneys; it sparkles in coloured letters on
street lamps; it forms the prologue of all the newspapers, and the
epilogue of all the books; it breaks in upon us with the sound of
trumpets, and it awes us in the silent sorrow of the Hindoo. There is no
escaping from the advertisement, for it travels with you in the
omnibuses, in the railway carriages, and on the paddle-boxes of the
steamers.

The arches of the great bridges over the Thames were at one time free
from advertisements. The masonry was submerged by the periodical returns
of the tide, and the bills would not stick. But at length the
advertisement invaded even these, the last asylums of non-publicity.
Since bills could not be pasted on the walls, the advertisement was
painted on them. At this hour there is not an arch in a London bridge
but has its advertisements painted on it. But for whom? For the
thousands who every day pass under the bridge in steamers. For the
Thames, too, is one of the London streets and by no means the least
important one.



CHAP. III.

The Squares.--Lincoln's Inn.


A man may be familiar with London streets, he may for years have gone
his weary way amidst these endless rows of bare, narrow, irregular
houses, which are black with fog and smoke, without ever suspecting that
gardens sparkling in idyllic beauty are hidden behind those masses of
sooty masonry.

This is one of the chief distinctions between London and Paris and other
continental capitals. Paris has much outside glitter, much startling
show. Its _Boulevards_, its _Place de la Concorde_, _Place Vendôme_,
_Rue de la Paix_, _Rue Rivoli_, and sundry others of its streets and
public places are unrivalled; London cannot vie with them in
architectural prodigies. But the brilliant points of Paris, of which
Frenchmen are in the habit of boasting, attract our attention only to
divert it from the narrow crooked lanes, and the filth of the other
parts of their town. Paris sports a clean shirt-front merely to hide the
uncleanliness of its general nature. The French are adepts in the art of
_draping_. The English, on the contrary, know nothing whatever of that
noble art. The cut of their clothes is inelegant, but the cloth is the
best of its kind; their dwelling-houses have the appearance of old
chimneys, but the inside is replete with comfort and unpretending
wealth; their language is rough, and without melody; but it is
energetic, flexible, and expressive. Their metropolis, too, conceals its
real beauties. It requires some investigation, some instinct and
discernment to discover and enjoy them.

In the broadest part of Holborn, there are on either side certain
suspicious-looking lanes, in which pawnbrokers and cobblers "hang out,"
and where a roaring, though not a very fragrant, trade is driven in
greens, meat, and fish. The lanes on the north side communicate with
Gray's Inn; on the south, they form an intricate labyrinth, which we
enter on our way to Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Travellers proceeding from London to Dover pass through a series of
monstrous tunnels, which have been bored through those mountains of
chalk, the bulwarks of the British islands. As they emerge from the
darkness of the last tunnel, they feel happy and grateful for the fresh
sea-breeze which plays around and the vast, boundless view which opens
before them. In a like manner, do we breathe more freely as we emerge
from the last of these narrow, and by no means sweetly-smelling lanes.

A broad square, filled with trees, flowers, and garden-ground, opens
before us. This is one of the many "squares" of which you, O my beloved
countrymen, entertain such crude and indistinct notions!

"Squares" are wide, open spots, surrounded by houses, exactly like our
own "_Plätze_." But, instead of the monuments of saints, whom the
Anglican Church ignores; instead of the pestilence-columns, which
Englishmen object to (though London, like every other respectable old
town, had its plagues in olden times); and instead of our beautiful
market-fountains, the poesy of which is a sealed book to the English
mind, their "_Plätze_" have been converted into Gardens with broad
commodious streets all round the railings. These gardens are not by any
means so small as the Germans generally believe. Indeed, in the larger
squares, they are of considerable extent. The curiosity of the
passers-by is repelled by trees, shrubs, and carefully-trimmed hedges,
and the shady walks and the grassplots in the centre are strictly
private. Of these squares, Lincoln's Inn Fields is the largest; it
covers an area of twelve acres. The joint extent of all the London
squares is one thousand two hundred acres. With the exception of
Smithfield and Trafalgar-square, all the London squares have gardens,
and the trees and shrubs which grow in them improve the air of all the
neighbouring streets. Such gardens are found in all quarters of the
town, and in many cases they are hidden among the narrowest alleys and
gloomiest courts, where the wanderer least expects to find them. They
are the most beautiful spots in London, for they present specimens of
nature's paradise, blooming in concealment, and all the more lovely are
they for that very reason.

Let us return to Lincoln's Inn Fields.

We stand on classic soil. Three sides of this large square are
surrounded with buildings, whose open doors shew at once that they are
not mere ordinary dwelling-houses. One of them attracts our special
attention; it is so black and its columns are so many and so high. It is
the Royal College of Surgeons, where the medical students pass their
examination in surgery. This house, too, shelters the famous Anatomical
Museum which John Hunter bequeathed to the College of Surgeons. All the
other buildings are owned by the guild of the lawyers. In the heart of
the city, the houses, from the cellars to the garrets, are let out as
offices and store-rooms. The houses in Lincoln's Inn Fields, too, are
devoted to the special accommodation of lawyers. A walk up and down, and
a look at the door-posts, which are black with the names of advocates,
suffice to convince us of the lamentable condition of English law.

We have said that this is classic soil. Sir Thomas More, Shaftesbury the
statesman, and Lord Mansfield, studied in the precincts of Lincoln's
Inn; and Oliver Cromwell passed two years of his eventful life in the
same locality. The square has its sad reminiscences too. In the centre
of the gardens, where flowers blow and birds sing, there stood at one
time a scaffold; and on that scaffold died one of the noblest patriots
of England, Lord Russell, an ancestor of Finality John, and son to
William, Earl of Bedford.

The crown of England rested in those days on the head of the second
Charles. At his side was his brother, the Duke of York, the evil genius
of Charles and of England. Charles, and James his brother, listened to
the counsels of France and of Rome, for they wanted money, and the Whigs
would only consent to vote the people's money in exchange for some
crumbs of liberty for the people. Thus it came to pass that England's
honour was sold to France, and the "rebellious" Parliament was
dissolved, and the press put down; the liberties of the city were
curtailed; venal men were placed on the bench, and venal witnesses
thronged the courts; the best men of England were put into jail and
arraigned on charges of high treason. Among the best and bravest was
William Russell.

They accused him of having conspired against the king's life, and sent
him to the Tower. Witnesses were bribed to appear against him; they were
men of proverbial villany. Among them was Lord Howard, of whom the king
himself had said he would not hang the worst cur in his kennel on the
evidence of that man. But that man's evidence sufficed to bring the best
man in all England to the block. It is the old story--a tail-wagging cur
is more considered at court than a thinking man. Lord Russell's head
fell in the centre of this very square. Vainly did his wife implore the
king's mercy. Lord Russell's head fell in the immediate vicinity of his
estates; and the Londoners of those days saw him pass through Holborn on
his way to the scaffold. Many wept--many abused him; others jeered at
him. The people of that time had even less respect for its heroes and
martyrs than the present generation. In our days, even the vilest of the
vile are awed into silence when the princes of this earth deliver their
political adversaries to the hangman's rope or the "mercy" of a platoon
of rifles.

But even in these our own days there is a party in England, there are
Englishmen, citizens, writers, and members of Parliament, and most of
them truly honourable men, who, while they declare that the British
Whigs of those times were patriots and martyrs, do not hesitate rashly
to condemn the "rebellious" Parliaments and political parties of the
continent. No Englishman, not the most conservative, would dare to deny
to Lord Russell one single ray of that glorious crown of martyrdom which
the English people and its historians have placed upon his bleeding
head.

"It cannot be denied," they say, "that Lord William Russell conspired
against an illegal Government; but to conspire against such a Government
was his duty; he was justified in so doing."... But if the Russells of
those days were justified in vindicating the people's rights against the
King, how then can you so smoothly and glibly apply the word "rebels" to
the continental Russells of our own days? If armed opposition is
treasonable, was it less treasonable in days gone by? Do the rights of
mankind dwindle away as century follows century? Or has the great nation
of England so small a mind that it cannot distinguish between the merits
of a cause and its success?

The Russells of the last centuries shed their blood for this generation.
England is free, happy, undisturbed, mighty, strong, tranquil and
reasonable; she develops a brighter future from the benefits she at
present enjoys. The English know it; and in this knowledge is the secret
of their pride. The sanguinary conflicts of the continent, which have
hitherto had no results, provoke in Englishmen a smile of mingled pity
and derision. "Those people don't know what they are driving at," say
some; "if they would be happy they ought to imitate England." And others
say, "They want freedom, but they are not practical enough; they do not
turn their revolution to advantage as our ancestors did, and as we would
do in their place." But I say, it is easy to find fault with others, and
a happy man has all the wisdom of Solomon. These English sages do not
consider how much easier it was to their ancestors to bring the contest
with the power of the crown to a successful issue. The English patriots
were not opposed by large standing armies; the contest lay between them
and a single family and its faction, and--this is a point which has
never been sufficiently dwelt upon--they had no reason to fear a foreign
intervention. For England, as the greatest living author[B] says, never
fought as France did for the freedom of the world, but for its own
freedom. Hence the continental powers paid little attention to the
battles of the Puritans, and the contests between Charles and Cromwell.
Clarendon indeed considered their non-intervention a great grievance.
But this non-intervention of Spain or France was the greatest blessing
for royalty in England. If those countries had interfered, the contest
for the principles of constitutionalism might have been prolonged to
this very day, or perhaps royalty would have been killed outright on the
English battle-fields.

 [B] Macaulay's Essays, vol. ii.

The history of England--says Macaulay--is a history of progress. Who
would gainsay it? At the commencement of the twelfth century, a small
and semi-barbarous nation, subject to a handful of foreigners, without a
trace of civilisation--large masses enslaved--the Saxons still distinct
from the Normans--superstition and brutality everywhere, and the law of
the strong hand the supreme law of the land--such was England seven
hundred years ago. Then came the bloody civil wars--brain-scorching,
land-spoiling, men-consuming, sectarian wars--contests abroad and
contests at home--a series of vile, hypocritical, dissolute, and
narrow-minded monarchs--and at intervals bright epochs of great times in
history and politics, and day was changed into night and night into day,
until England attained its present position among the nations of the
earth. From one decade to another there may have been periodical
retrogressions, but each century gave clear and irrefragable evidence of
the progress of England.

If, therefore, in the next years, France should happen again to attain
those giddy heights of freedom, which she gained three times already,
and which three times have vanished beneath her feet, then let not
France, as she is wont to do, wax proud in the scanty shade of her newly
planted trees of liberty, and let her not look down contemptuously on
the cold, thickblooded, clumsy tree of liberty in England. At the end of
the century the two nations may compare their charters; it will then be
seen which of them has really and truly had the greatest gains. The
blood of France has manured the mental soil of all the world; England
should be the last to forget what her liberty has gained by the ideal
conquests of France. France, on the other hand, might make the most
useful study in considering the consistent carrying out of great
political maxims on the British soil.

When two nations express their opinions of one another, and reproach
each other with their faults, they are in the habit of paying too little
attention to the circumstances which promote or obstruct the advance of
freedom. In this respect, the peculiarities of the countries and their
geographical position cannot be too highly estimated. Who can tell what
would be the condition of Germany, if our country were secure from
foreign intervention; and if, as is the case with England, the sea
protected it from the violence of its enemies or the insidious advances
of its political friends.



CHAP. IV.

Up the Thames.--Vauxhall.

     THE RIVER-SIDE.--VIEWS OF THE RIVER.--THE TIDES.--THE BRIDGES.--THE
     TEMPLE AND SOMERSET HOUSE.--ENTRANCE TO VAUXHALL.--BRITISH
     DECORATIVE GENIUS.--SOMEBODY RUNS AWAY WITH DR.
     KEIF.--MAGIC.--NELSON AND WELLINGTON.--THE CIRCUS.--THE BURNING OF
     MOSCOW.--AN EPISODE AT THE TEA TABLE.


If you leave King William-street just at the foot of London-bridge and
turn to the right, you will find your way into a set of narrow and steep
streets, few only of which admit of carriage and horse traffic. The
lower stories of the houses are let out as offices, and the upper as
warehouse floors; the pavement is narrow and the road as bad as broken
stones and long neglect can make it; dirty boys in sailors' jackets play
at leap-frog over the street posts; legions of wheel-barrows encumber
the broader parts of these thoroughfares; packing-cases stand at the
doors of houses, and cranes and levers peep out from the upper stories.
Such are the streets which lead down to the banks of the Thames. It is
altogether a dusty, filthy, "uncannie" quarter. A few steps through a
black, cornery, nondescript structure of sooty brick and mortar, covered
all over with immense shipping advertisements in all colours, and we
stand on the bank of the river. An entirely new scene is opened before
our eyes.

Close to our left the mighty grey arches of London-bridge rise up from
the river. We look under them downwards where the last ocean ships are
crowded together on their moorings, where the distant masts are lost in
the haze, and where ocean-life finds its limits, because the bridges
prevent those large ships from passing up the river. We look in an
opposite direction along the broad expanse of water, with busy little
steamers rushing frantically in every conceivable direction; we look up
to the parapet of London-bridge, where, high as it is, we see the heads
of the passengers, and the crowded roofs of the omnibuses; we look over
to the other bank, where a thousand high chimneys vomit forth their
smoke and we behold Southwark, that amiable appendix to the metropolis,
which at this day has its six hundred thousand inhabitants; and lastly,
we look straight down before our feet where half a dozen steamers,
closely packed together, dance up and down on the waves; where steam
rushes forth noisily from narrow pipes, where hundreds of men, women,
and children, run about in inextricable confusion pushing their way to
the shore, to one of the boats, or from one boat to another; where the
paddles beat the water and the boys start the machinery by shrill
screams, while the mooring barges creak as the ropes are drawn tight. We
look and behold this is the Thames! This is the great, living, fabulous,
watery high-road in the heart of the British metropolis.

They have abused thee sadly, thou grey Thames, for the filth of thy
waters and the fogs which arise from thee. But most unjustly hast thou
been abused. At Lechlade where the four rivulets from the Cotswolds join
into a river, thy waters are as pure and pellucid as the Alpine streams
which spring forth from the glacier. At Lechlade there are no fogs
obscuring thy surface; there the air is pure; there art thou romantic
and idyllic, innocent alike of the temptations of the world and the vice
and filth of the greatest town. For many, many miles further down to Kew
and Richmond thou art beautiful to behold, flowing through the emerald
green of the meadows and the deep luscious green of the bush, a mirror
for the lordly villas and charming cottages which stud thy banks. But
most rapidly dost thou rush forward to thy metamorphosis! Most quickly
dost thou expand into a broad, grey, elderly man of business. He who saw
thee at Richmond will not know thee again at Westminster; and the
travelling stranger who only beheld thee between the bridges of the
metropolis has not the faintest idea of thy beauties at Richmond. The
grey business atmosphere of London has cast its gloom upon thee, as well
as on the stones, the houses, and the human beings that inhabit them.

But, whatever the Thames may lose in romance, it gains in the grandeur
and importance of its appearance. Its breadth increases with every step.
Navigable to the length of 180 English miles, with a tidal rise to the
extent of seventy miles, the Thames takes the largest merchantmen to the
immediate vicinity of London-bridge; and as the tide is going out it
takes them back, without the help of oars, sails, or steam-tugs. Nature
has made the Thames the grandest of all trading rivers; it gave it a
larger share of the ocean tides than it ever bestowed on any other river
in Europe.

At the Land's End the tides from the Atlantic are divided into two
distinct streams. One rushes up the Channel, and round the North
Foreland into the mouth of the Thames; the other beats against the
western coasts of England and Scotland, and, taking a southerly
direction down the eastern coast, this tide too enters the basin of the
Thames. Hence the tides in the Thames are formed of two different
ocean-tides; they are equal by day and by night, and so powerful is the
rush of the tide from the North Foreland to the metropolis, that it
flows at the rate of five miles an hour.

But here is the boat smoking away right at our feet. There is a rush of
persons _from_ the shore, and a rush of persons _to_ the shore. We pay
two-pence, scramble down a variety of steps and stairs, and jump on
board just as they are casting off. There is no whistling or ringing of
a bell, no noise whatever. We are already steaming it up to the far
west.

The bank on our left offers no interesting points on which the eye might
dwell with pleasure. Manufactories, breweries and gas-works dispute
every inch of ground with the ugliest store-houses imaginable. The sight
strikes one as that of a large city in ruins. But on our right we see
St. Paul's rising from an ocean of roofs. The sun, still visible on the
horizon, shines on the roof of the cathedral, and shows the gigantic
cupola in the most charming light. St. Paul's ought to be seen from the
river by those who would fully understand its grandeur.

We pass through the arches of Blackfriars-bridge and proceed in a line
with Fleet-street; before us the stream is spanned by a number of
bridges, so that it seems as if their pillars crossed one another, and
as if the nearest bridge bore the next following on its arched back. So
strange and astonishing is this sight that we are tempted to mistake it
for a _Fata Morgana_ and expect to see it dissolve into thin air.

Seven enormous bridges have been built across the river at very short
intervals, and unite the more animated parts of the Borough and Lambeth
with London proper. Among these bridges is an iron suspension bridge
with a bold double arch; another bridge is composed of iron and stone;
and the rest are simply built of massive stones. It is true that only
three of these seven bridges are freely open to the public, and that the
four others exact a toll. But, for how many years past, have the Germans
talked of a stone bridge across the Rhine at Cologne, and another stone
bridge across the Danube at Vienna! And as yet neither Cologne nor
Vienna have mustered the funds for such undertakings! And in London
there are seven bridges within a river-length of a few miles. A little
higher up, moreover, is Battersea-bridge, and lower down the river there
is the Tunnel, and already have they commenced making a new bridge at
Chelsea. The English have a right to pride themselves on the grandeur of
the British spirit of enterprise. But the German who comes into this
country and beholds its marvels, makes comparisons which sorely vex and
trouble his spirit.

We pass the Temple, the Chinese Junk, Somerset-house, the new Houses of
Parliament, and Westminster Abbey, but we cannot stop to describe them,
for we purpose to reserve them for a special visit on another occasion.
Besides our attention is engaged by the general aspect of the river and
its banks. Darkness has set in. Steamers with red and green eyes of fire
rush past us; little boats cross in all directions under the very bows
of the steamers; fishing-boats with dark brown sails go with the tide in
solemn silence; the lights on the bridges and in the streets are
reflected in the water. This is the hour at which matter of fact London
dons her poetical night-dress.

We pass Lambeth Palace and its ruin-like watch-tower. The boat stops at
Vauxhall-bridge. We get off, and walk through some of the streets of
Lambeth; we pass under a railway-bridge, and stand in front of
Vauxhall.

"The season is over! every body is gone out of town," etc., write the
correspondents of provincial and continental newspapers--"every
body"--that is to say, every body with the exception of two millions of
men, who make rather a considerable noise in the northern, southern, and
eastern towns of London. But of course they are "nobodies"; they are
merely merchants, tradesmen, manufacturers, clerks, agents, public
functionaries, judges, physicians, barristers, teachers, journalists,
publishers, printers, musicians, actors, clergymen, labourers, beggars,
thieves, foreigners, and other members of the "vile rabble." Every body
else left the metropolis immediately after the Parliament was prorogued
by the Queen, and the Royal Italian Opera was prorogued by Signora
Grisi. The West-end is now a city of the dead. The deserted streets and
the shuttered windows proclaim that all who are not exactly "nobodies,"
are shooting in Scotland or gaping on the Rhine; that they suffer from
the blues in Italy, or that the trout suffer from them in Sweden. But
Vauxhall is still open, partly because the weather is so uncommonly mild
for the season; partly because there are a good many foreigners in
London; but chiefly because Vauxhall has come to be vulgar--and very
vulgar too--a haunt of milliners and democrats, "by birth and
education."

Vauxhall was born in the Regency, in one of the wicked nights of
dissolute Prince George. A wealthy speculator was its father; a prince
was its godfather, and all the fashion and beauty of England stood round
its cradle. In those days Vauxhall was very exclusive and expensive. At
present, it is open to all ranks and classes, and half a guinea will
frank a fourth-rate milliner and sweetheart through the whole evening.

A Londoner wants a great deal for his money, or he wants little--take it
which way you please. The programme of Vauxhall is an immense _carte_
for the eye and the ear: music, singing, horsemanship, illuminations,
dancing, rope-dancing, acting, comic songs, hermits, gipsies, and
fireworks, on the most "stunning" scale. It is easier to read the
_Kölner Zeitung_ than the play-bill of Vauxhall.

With respect to the _quantity_ of sights, it is most difficult to
satisfy an English public. They have "a capacious swallow" for sights,
and require them in large masses as they do the meat which graces their
tables. As to quality, that is a minor consideration; and to give the
English public its due, it is the most grateful of all publics.

The entrance to Vauxhall is dismally dark and prison-like. Dr. Keif
objects to the place.

"It's a trap," says he; "the real road to ruin! I am sure the Chevalier
Bunsen and that fellow Buol-Schauenstein lie in ambush in some of those
dark holes; they will pounce upon me, and seize me, and take me back to
Germany, where they have no brown stout, and where I must needs get
famous, or die with ennui. _Lasciate ogni speranza, voi che entrate!_"

Just at that moment a German refugee goes by. He bids us good evening,
and is lost in the darkness.

"Ah!" says the Doctor, "that boy has been sentenced to be shot in the
Grand Duchy of Baden. I believe they shot him in effigy. He's an imp of
fame, and if he dares go in why should'nt I dare it. Let us go in!"

The dismal aspect of the entrance is the result of artistic speculation;
it is a piece of theatrical claptrap. For all of a sudden we emerge from
the darkness of the passage into a dazzling sea of light, which almost
blinds one. All the arbours, avenues, grottos and galleries of the
gardens are covered with lamps; the trees are lighted to the very tops;
each leaf has its coloured lady-bird of a gas-light. Where the deuce did
those people ever get those lamps! And how did they ever get them
lighted! It must be confessed that the manager has done his duty. If you
can show him a single leaf without its lamp, he will surely jump into
the Thames or hang himself on the branch which was thus shamefully
neglected.

Dr. Keif, who is disposed to find fault with everything, and who just
now protested that the entrance to Vauxhall was a trap expressly
constructed for the apprehension of political refugees, asserts that the
illumination is enough to spoil the temper of any one. "Look at those
English madcaps!" says he. "In other parts of the town I walk for hours
before I find a human being smoking a cigar, and offering an opportunity
to light my own weed; and here I stand as the donkey in the midst of
three hundred thousand bundles of hay. Which of these lamps shall I
select for the lighting of my cigar?"

"This way, sir! Look down there where the Queen is burning in gas," says
an Englishman, with a cigar in his mouth, who has overheard the Doctor's
lament. And he added--"Light your weed at the flames of Victoria, and
implore Her Gracious Majesty that she may be pleased to abolish the duty
on tobacco."

From that moment is Dr. Keif lost to the rest of our party. An
Englishman, who, spurning all old-established customs and traditions,
dares to address a stranger, and to address him too on a subject which
has nothing whatever in common with the state of the weather--such an
Englishman is a _rara avis_, and nothing could induce Dr. Keif to forego
his acquaintance. Already has he engaged him in conversation, utterly
oblivious of the friends who came with him, and of all the world
besides. We must try to get on without the Doctor.

The gardens are crowded; dense masses are congregated around a sort of
open temple, which at Vauxhall stands _in lieu_ of a music-room. The
first part of the performance is just over; and a lady, whose voice is
rather the worse for wear, and who defies the cool of the evening with
bare shoulders and arms, is in the act of being _encored_. She is
delighted, and so are the audience. Many years ago this spot witnessed
the performances of Grisi, Rubini, Lablache, and other first-class
musical celebrities.

The crowd promenade these gardens in all directions. In the background
is a gloomy avenue of trees, where loving couples walk, and where the
night-air is tinged with the hue of romance. Even the bubbling of a
fountain may be heard in the distance. We go in search of the sound;
but, alas, we witness nothing save the triumph of the insane activity of
the illuminator. A tiny rivulet forces its way through the grass; it is
not deep enough to drown a herring, yet it is wide enough and babbling
enough to impart an idyllic character to the scene. But how has this
interesting little water-course fared under the hands of the
illuminator? The wretch has studded its banks with rows of long
arrow-headed gas-lights. Not satisfied with lighting up the trees, and
walls, and dining-saloons, he must needs meddle with this lilliputian
piece of water also. That is _English_ taste, which delights in
quantities: no Frenchman would ever have done such a thing!

Following the rivulet, we reach the bank of a gas-lit pond, with a
gigantic Neptune and eight white sea-horses. To the left of the god
opens another gloomy avenue, which leads us straightway to _Fate_, to
the hermit, and the temple of Pythia, who, in the guise of a gipsy,
reclining on straw under a straw-roofed shed, with a stable lanthorn at
her side, is in the habit of reading the most brilliant Future on the
palm of your hand, for the ridiculously low price of sixpence only. This
is specially English; no house without its fortifications--no open-air
amusements without gipsies. The prophetess of Vauxhall is by no means a
person of repulsive appearance. You admire in her a comely brown
daughter of Israel, with black hair and dark eyes; it is very agreeable
to listen to her expounding your fate. She is good-tempered and
agreeable, and has a Californian prophecy for all comers. She predicts
faithful wives, length of days, a grave in a free soil to every one,
even to the German.

The dwelling of the sage hermit is much less primitive, nor are
believers permitted to enter it. They must stand on the threshold, from
whence they may admire a weird and awful scenery--mountains, precipices
and valleys, and the _genius loci_, a large cat with fiery eyes, all
charmingly worked in canvas and pasteboard, with a strict and
satisfactory regard for the laws of perspective. The old man, with his
beard so white and his staff so strong, comes up from the mysterious
depth of a pasteboard ravine; he asks a few questions and disappears
again, and in a few minutes the believer receives his or her Future,
carefully copied out on cream-coloured paper, and in verses, too, with
his or her name as an anagram. Of course these papers are all ready
written and prepared by the dozen, and as one lady of our party had the
name of Hedwig--by no means a common name in England--she had to wait a
good long while before she was favoured with a sight of her fate. This,
of course, strengthened her belief in the hermit and the fidelity of her
husband.

We, the Pilgrims of Vauxhall, leave the hermit's cell. Our eyes have
become accustomed to the twilight, and as we proceed we behold, in the
background, the tower and battlements of a large and fantastically-built
tower. Can this be Westminster Abbey, or is it a mere optical delusion?
Let us see.

Hark! a gun is fired in the shrubbery. The promenaders, who are familiar
with the place, turn round, and all rush in one direction, sweeping us
along with them. Before we can collect ourselves, we have been pushed
forward to a panoramic stage, on which Nelson, in plaster, is in the act
of expiring, while Wellington, in pasteboard, rides over the
battle-field of Waterloo. These two figures are the worst of their kind;
still the public cheer the two national heroes. No house without its
fortifications--no open-air amusements without gipsies--and no play
without the old Admiral and the old General.

Wellington has scarcely triumphed over Napoleon, and silenced the French
batteries, when the cannonade recommences in the shrubbery: one--two
guns! it is the signal for the arena. Unless you purchase a seat in the
boxes or the galleries, you have no chance of seeing the exhibition in
the circus, for the pit, which is gratis, is crowded to suffocation.
Englishmen care more for live horses than they do for pasteboard
chargers, fraught though they be with national reminiscences.

The productions of horsemanship at Vauxhall are exactly on a par with
similar exhibitions on the other side of the Channel. Britons are more
at home on horseback, or on board a ship, than on the strings of the
fiddle, or on the ivory keys of the pianoforte. And thus, then, do the
men and women dance on unsaddled horses, play with balls and knives, and
jump through paper and over boards; half a dozen of old and young clowns
distort their joints; a lady dances on a rope, _à la marionette_; and
Miss A., who was idolised at Berlin, and whom seven officers of the
Horse Guards presented with a bracelet, on which their seven heroic
faces were displayed, condescends to produce her precious bracelet and
her precious person in this third-rate circus; and an American Gusikow
makes music on wood, straw, and leather; and the horses are neighing,
and the whips smacking, and the sand is being thrown up, and the
boarding trembles with the tramp of the horses, and there is no end of
cheering; and Miss A. re-appears and curtsies, with the seven gentlemen
of the Horse Guards on her arm; and another gun is fired, and the
public, leaving the circus, rush madly into the gardens. To the
fireworks! they are the most brilliant exhibition of the evening. The
gardens are bathed in a bluish light, and the many thousand lamps look
all pale and ominous. The gigantic and fantastic city, which before
loomed through the twilight of the distant future, burns now in Bengal
fire. It is Moscow! it is the Kremlin, and they are burning it! Sounds
of music, voices of lamentation, issue from the flames, guns are firing,
rockets shoot up and burst with an awful noise, the walls give way--they
fall, and from the general destruction issues a young girl, with very
thin clothing and very little of it, who makes her escape over a rope at
a dizzy height. The exhibition is more awful than agreeable; but the
public cheer this, as they do any other neck-or-nothing feat. If the
girl were to carry a baby on her perilous way, the cheering would be
still greater.

It is past midnight. The wind is cold, and fresh guests are crowding in
to join the ball, which is kept up to the break of day. But we have not
the least inclination to watch the ungraceful movements of English men
who dance with English women, or of English women who dance with English
men. We hail a cab and hasten home.

At the door we fall in with the Doctor, whom we had lost in the early
part of the evening. He is greatly excited, for he has walked the whole
way from Vauxhall to Guildford-street. In the parlour we find Sir John
and his most faithful wife seated at the round table, with the
tea-things before them, waiting tea for us. As we enter, Sir John puts
down the _Times_, in which he has been gloating over a "damaging letter"
against the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and the lady of the house
welcomes us with a friendly nod and a look of anxious inquiry. That look
means, "Have you caught a cold, you or any of you? Or is it a sore
throat or a cough! Surely you cannot have been out all night without
some slight illness which will justify me in opening my medicine chest?"
And she looks at the things to see if they are all in good order, and
then the tea is poured out with the utmost precision. A cup of tea is
delicious after that long ride from Vauxhall, and there is much comfort
and snugness in an English parlour.

The cup, which "cheers but not inebriates," loosens Dr. Keif's tongue.
"The tea is very refreshing, Madam," is a remark which the Doctor makes
twice every day, in fine and foul weather; and, in making this remark,
he always holds out his empty cup that it may be filled again.

"But, most loyal Sir John," continues the Doctor, refreshed by the tea,
"it's a mighty difficult task to get through an English evening's
pleasure in a single night. To think of all the things I have seen this
evening, and for half-a-crown too. Why one-half of them would suffice to
entertain the inhabitants of a German capital for a period of six
calendar months."

"That is what I always say," interposed Bella, the daughter of the
house, with a look of triumph, "London is the cheapest town in the whole
world."

"So it is," says Dr. Keif, "awfully cheap. I had some cold beef at
Vauxhall, some cheese, and a cruet of wine, and I paid _only_ nine
shillings--on my honor nothing but nine shillings. The bread was not
included. The waiter gave me a piece after I had asked him long enough.
But I had scarcely put it on my plate, and I was lost in its
contemplation, when it was carried off by a sparrow. Now that will give
you an idea how very large it must have been."

"But what could induce you to drink wine or ask for bread at Vauxhall!"
said Bella. "And where have you been all the evening? What did you do
with your friend?"

"O I had a delightful conversation with him, and let me tell you he is a
clever fellow. Still he is not free from English prejudice, though a
great deal of it has been rubbed off on his travels. Of Germany he saw
only the south, having been compelled, as he told me, to return to
England to look after some property which a whimsical old uncle had left
him, under conditions which make residence in this country a matter of
necessity. It's a pity! There is a great deal of good in him, and I have
no doubt he would be a great genius, if he could but pass a couple of
winters at Berlin."

"Indeed! What was his English prejudice?" asked Sir John with great
disgust.

"It is not easy to answer that question. National prejudice is like a
pig-tail--you can't see it in front. Another cup of tea, if you please,
it's only my fourth. And it's scandalous how they teach history in your
schools. This new friend of mine is a well-bred man, but he had never
heard of Blücher. We looked at the Duke of Wellington riding over the
field of Waterloo; and I said: 'Couldn't you find a place for our
Blücher?' 'Blutsher,' said he, 'who is Blutsher?' He knew nothing
whatever of Blücher and the Prussian army; and when I told him, that but
for the Prussians Wellington would have been made minced-meat of at
Waterloo, he actually laughed in my face. Now tell me, most respectable
Sir John, how do they teach history in your schools? The French, I know,
_cook_ history, and make matters pleasant for 'the young idea.'"

Sir John was silent. The article he had read in the _Times_ had made him
magnanimous; and our friend Keif remained uncontradicted.

"I told my companion," continued the Doctor, after a pause, "that the
dancing was a disgraceful exhibition; he said, so it was. He had seen
the dancing abroad. If he had never been out of England, I am sure, he
would have been delighted with the performance of his countrywomen; and,
as most Englishmen do in such a case, he would have shrugged his
shoulders and set me down as a fool for the unfavourable opinion I
pronounced. But he had left part of his prejudice on the other side of
the channel, and he himself pointed out to me how ridiculous those
people looked, and how the couples clung to one another like woolsacks
which cannot stand alone, and how they pushed one another, and marked
the time by kicking one another's toes."

"Don't believe," said he, "that there is better dancing in the saloons
of our aristocracy. We know nothing of the noble art, and for that very
reason do we practise it with so much devotion. Such like unnatural
leanings are common with all nations. They are most zealous in what they
least understand. The Russians build a fleet, the Austrian affect
finances, the Germans make revolutions, the French _will_ have a
Republic, and the English dance."

"But surely, Doctor," said Bella, "neither you nor your new friend can
deny that better dancing is going on in London than in any other town.
This very season we had Taglioni, Rosati, and Feraris, all on the same
stage!"

"The old argument," said the Doctor. "Because you have got money, and
because you can afford to pay for a good ballet, you pretend that the
most graceful dancers are hatched in England. You subsidised the German
armies against Napoleon; and now you believe that your red-coats alone
vanquished the French. Port and sherry are your _English_ wines; and
because you succeed, at an enormous expense, to rear hothouse peaches,
grapes, and apples, you will have it that England produces better fruit
than any other country. But it's all nonsense. It's money and money, and
again money; and with that money you buy up the world, and---- After
all, old England for ever! Then another cup of tea for me?"

"Did you see that gas-lit rivulet at Vauxhall?" asked I, for I like to
hear the Doctor find fault with England. He does it in such a
good-natured, amiable manner, and with a spice of roguishness which is
all the more interesting, since in Germany Dr. Keif is generally
disliked for his Anglomania. "What," asked I, "do you say to the
romantic style of decoration which prevails in England?"

"Of course I saw that rivulet, and had a splendid adventure on its
banks."

Dr. Keif is literally overwhelmed with adventures. He cannot go to the
next street without a remarkable incident of some sort or other.

"I had lost my companion," said Dr. Keif, leaning back in his chair; "I
had lost him in the crowd. I saw a dark avenue in the distance, and I
longed for rest. You know, Sir John, we Germans cannot for any length of
time go on without peace and tranquillity, although the _Times_ will
have it that we are the most restless and disturbance-loving nation in
Europe. Well, under the trees, near the rivulet, I espied a loving
couple--they walk up and down, and stand still--of course they are happy
to be alone and unobserved. But anxious to understand the character of
the English, I resolved to overhear their conversation. I passed them
several times, but they were silent. Right, thought I, affection makes
them mute! Their souls stand entranced on the giddy pinnacle of passion!
But they could not be silent all night, especially since it was so dark
they could not speak with their eyes. I laid myself in ambush; they
approached; my heart beat quick with thrilling anticipation; they were
talking--but can you fancy what they were talking about?--Of Morrison's
pills, and the mode and manner of their effect in bilious complaints! Of
course there was no resisting this; I jumped out of the thicket, leaped
across the rivulet, and came home at once."

We all laughed at the Doctor's adventure, and Sir John, too, laughed.
Dr. Keif had met with half a dozen adventures on his way home. For
instance, he had fallen in with a sailor who told him long stories about
Spain. He (not the sailor) had found a drunken woman in a gutter and
dragged her out; and Bella declared that that woman must have been
Irish. And two vestals had taken hold of his arms, and he had a deal of
trouble before he could induce them to leave him alone. In short, there
was no end of the Doctor's adventures.



CHAP. V.

The Police.

     THE LONDON POLICE.--JOURNEY FROM PARIS TO LONDON.--THE POLITICS OF
     THE FORCE.--ITS MODE OF ACTION ILLUSTRATED.--DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE
     POLICE IN ENGLAND AND ON THE
     CONTINENT.--DETECTIVES.--ROOKERIES.--THE POLICEMAN AS A CITIZEN.


In a town such as London is at the present day, where thousands of
honest men follow their daily avocations at the side and mixed up with
thousands of dishonest men, the Government has but one alternative with
respect to the police regulations. It must either resign the idea of
organising a _surveillance_ by means of the police, or that
_surveillance_ must be carried on according to a highly practical
principle.

With the police and other political institutions, it is exactly the same
as with our clothes. They would seem to grow with us; but the fact is,
as we grow in height and breadth we take care that our coats have
greater length and width.

In the same manner, is the police allowed to grow in proportion to the
growth of a town; and none but thieves or fools in politics can object
to the process, provided always that the police is for the protection
and not for the torment of the peaceful citizen.

Scarcely a hundred years ago, no one could dare to walk from Kensington
to the city after nightfall. At Hyde Park corner, not far from the place
where the Crystal Palace stood, there was a bell which was rung at seven
and at nine o'clock; those who had to go to the city assembled at the
call and proceeded in a body, by which means they were comparatively
safe from the attacks of highwaymen.

Small bodies of men were frequently stopped by the robbers; it happened
now and then that the passengers were attacked and sorely molested by a
roistering band of wild young fellows, who were fresh from the
public-house.

But all this romance came to an end when George II. was stopped and
plundered one fine night on his return from hunting. The very next
morning a troop of armed horsemen was established to watch over the
security of the public streets, and though these were not the rudiments
of the London Police (there were already some watchmen and
river-guards), yet we consider them as a fraction of the police-embryo
which has since grown up to such respectable dimensions.

The Guild of the London police (on the continent they are but too
frequently confounded with the older constables) was founded and trained
by Sir Robert Peel; they are consequently a product of our own times;
and that this product is not a luxury, and that it is more useful than
many other creations of our own times is clearly shewn by the great
London journals, which daily acknowledge the institution in their police
reports. But this institution is very little understood in Germany, and
even strangers, who pass a short time in England, are not likely to
understand it.

Let us watch the steps of a German, for instance, on his journey across
the channel. He leaves Cologne with an express train, and reaches Calais
at midnight. Bewildered with sleep, he leaves the carriage; the first
object which strikes his view is a large hand painted on the wall. He
follows the outstretched index of that hand and finds his way, not to
the refreshment rooms whither he wants to go, but to the "Bureau de
Police," where he never thought of going. He is cruelly disappointed;
but he is an honest man, and not even a political refugee, and he has,
therefore, no reason to avoid communication with the French police. They
ask for his passport, and if the traveller can produce some document of
the kind they are content. The passport may, indeed, be a forgery: its
possessor may have stolen it. Napoleon the Great found his way back from
Elba without a passport; and Louis Philippe, also without a passport,
found his way out of France; but no matter! the French require the
production of passports, doubtlessly for some hidden good, for the
_alcun' bene_ of Dante.

On his arrival in Folkestone or Dover, many an honest German has, from
mere force of habit, put his hand in his pocket and produced his
passport ready for inspection. Of course the methodical foreigner was
laughed at for his pains. The Emperor of France and his satellites may
possibly have an interest in knowing all particulars about those who
turn their backs upon them; but constitutional England is not in the
habit of asking her guests whence they come, why they come, and whither
they go. After a short interview with the Custom-house officers--and
these, too, though functionaries, are dressed like all other honest
men--the stranger is free of the country; and if his trade be an honest
one, he is not interfered with; indeed, he is almost _neglected_ by the
public authorities. On his arrival in London, he takes apartments in an
hotel, or in a boarding-house, or he takes furnished lodgings, or a
house, or a street; no matter, the police do not interfere with him; and
to all appearance they pay no attention whatever to his proceedings.

This _apparently_ unguarded liberty is the secret of the real grandeur
of the Preventive Service. But that this is possible, is partly owing to
the good-will of a liberal government, and partly to the peculiarities
of English life and manners. This is a point which we shall, on a future
occasion, treat at greater length.

The circumstance that a stranger may walk to and fro between the Isle of
Wight and the Orkneys without being questioned, protocolled, and
stopped, has caused many a foreigner to doubt the safety of life in
England generally. A certain Berlin professor, I am told, got quite
angry on the subject. "A man," said he, "goes about in England exactly
as if he were disowned by society and removed from within the pale of
it. The very dogs of Berlin are more respected! At least they have their
numbers taken and are entered into the dog-book (_Hundebuch_), at the
police-office, while in England none but thieves can feel comfortable,
since thieves alone are in a manner noticed by the police."

In treating of the functions of the London Police, we ought at once to
say, that the police in England is essentially a force of _safety_,
whose functions are limited to the prevention of crime and the
apprehension of criminals. All its departments of river, street, and
railway police are instituted for the same purpose. There has not
hitherto been a _political_ department in Scotland-yard. The police, as
at present organised, deals only with the vulgar sins of larceny,
robbery, murder, and forgery; it superintends the cleaning of the
streets; it prevents the interruption of the street traffic, and it
takes care of drunkards and of children that have strayed from their
homes. But political opinions, however atrocious, if they have not
ripened into criminal action, are altogether without the sphere of the
English police.

The policemen, as the free citizens of a free country, are perfectly at
liberty to have political opinions of their own; they need not modify or
conceal their sentiments when they take the blue coat and the glazed
hat. They are required to catch thieves as cats do mice. Some of them
are ultra-royalists; others are ultra-radicals. Generally speaking, they
are not by any means conservatives. The majority of them belong to the
poorer and less educated classes; they take their political opinions
from the radical weekly papers. They club together as sailors, cabmen,
and labourers do, and take in their weekly paper, which they read and
discuss all the week through. They quote their paper whenever they talk
politics, and this they do frequently, for your London policeman is as
zealous a dabbler in politics as any ale-house keeper in Suabia.

Adam Smith founds his financial theories on the division of labour. The
division of labour is also the firm basis of the efficiency of the
English police. Since they have not to perform all the functions which
weigh on the shoulders of their helmeted and sabred brethren on the
continent; since they need not devote their attention to political
conversations and movements in the case of individuals or of
communities; since they need not keep watch over and give an account of
the movements and opinions of strangers and natives; and since they have
nothing whatever to do with the secrets of families, the leaders of the
daily papers, nor with the unsealing and sealing of post-office letters,
they are at liberty to devote all their energy and ingenuity to the
efficient discharge of those functions which are properly assigned to
them.

It is not a fable, nor a piece of English braggadocio, when it is said,
that the thieves are more thoroughly hunted down in this immense city of
London, than they are in the smaller German capitals. A foreigner who
studies the police-reports of the great London journals, will find there
ample matter for admiration and reflection. We quote but one example, to
show the manner in which the various parts of the police machine work
together. The anecdote may possibly contain some useful hints for the
guardians of constitutional towns.

A printer sends one of his men to the stationer to take in stock for the
printing-office. It was late on a Saturday afternoon, and the
manufacturer promised to have the paper in readiness early on Monday.
The man to whom the message was entrusted and who brought back the
answer, was, for some reason or other, dismissed in the course of that
very evening.

On the Monday, another messenger was sent for the paper. He came back
without it. The paper had been taken away a few hours before he arrived
at the stationer's. No paper, however, had come to the printing-office.
The greatest embarrassment prevailed. A couple of hours pass, and yet
the paper does not arrive. Suspicion is at length directed to the man
who had been discharged. Inquiries are made at the stationer's, and the
description of the person who came for the paper corresponds with the
appearance of the suspected person. Upon this, the printer proceeds to
the police-station to report the case. What with waiting and sending
about, the better part of the day was gone.

Mr. M--then makes his appearance in the inspector's office, and proceeds
to state his case. But scarcely has he given his name, when the
inspector puts a stop to all further explanations. "You've been robbed,
Mr. M--. We know all about it. The thief is in custody, and the goods
must by this time have been delivered at your office. One ream of No. 2
and two reams of No. 5 are wanting; but we know where to find them. They
shall be sent to you to-morrow. Good bye, sir."

Mr. M--, who, like every Englishman of the same stamp, is in no wise to
be surprised with any thing that may happen between heaven and earth, is
nevertheless inclined to think this a strange case--a very strange one
indeed. He pushes his hat back, strikes his umbrella on the floor, and
turning on his heel, he makes the best of his way home, where he finds
"all right," while all the "devils" are frantic with joy that the paper
has been recovered, and that Toby, who carried matters with such a high
hand, is, after all, nothing but a thief, and sure to be transported.

The state of the case was simply this:--

The man, assisted by a friend, had called for the paper, put it into a
cart, and gone off. The worthy pair sold a small quantity in a place
where they had, on similar occasions, "done a stroke of business;" and,
after this little matter had been settled to their entire satisfaction,
they drove off to a public-house at the distance of about five miles
from the scene of their crime. This public-house was situated in a very
quiet street. The cart and horse were left at the door while the two
associates, snugly ensconced in the parlour, commenced enjoying the
fruits of their robbery.

They had not been there very long before the policeman on duty became
struck with the cart and its freight of paper. He had been on that beat
for many months past, and knew that no printer, bookbinder, or
stationer, lived in the street. The horse and cart were strangers to
him; so were the two men whom he saw in the parlour as he passed the
window. The whole thing had an ugly appearance. He meets with one of the
detectives, and communicates his suspicions to that sagacious
individual. The two fellows, utterly unconscious of the watch set on
their movements, produce more money than they could have earned in the
course of a week. They are taken into custody and brought up before the
magistrate. They cannot account for the possession of the paper, and
make a confession in full. The policeman, however, must have been very
sure of his case when he arrested them; for in doing so he incurred a
heavy responsibility. If his suspicions had turned out to be unfounded,
he would have been mulcted in a heavy fine, and possibly he might have
lost his place.

Now let us change the _venue_, and suppose this affair had happened in
Paris, Vienna, or Berlin. Not only have the police of those capitals
duties of greater importance than the mere catching of a couple of
wretched thieves, but it is also altogether absurd to believe that a
policeman or "_Sicherheitsmann_" should pay any attention to the fact of
a cart and horse being stationed at the door of a pot-house. Such a
thing is utterly impossible. The policemen of Vienna and Berlin change
their beats as soldiers do their posts. Possibly they know the street
and the outsides of the houses; they may also have some slight knowledge
of the most disreputable dens, and of those who habitually frequent
them, and, in some instances, they are _au courant_ of the politics of a
few honest tradesmen or citizens, who are too harmless to make a secret
of such matters.

The London policeman, on the other hand, knows every nook and corner,
every house, man, woman, and child on his beat. He knows their
occupations, habits, and circumstances. This knowledge he derives from
his constantly being employed in the same quarter and the same street,
and to--and surely a mind on duty bent may take great liberties with the
conventional moralities--that platonic and friendly intercourse which he
carries on with the female servants of the establishments which it is
his vocation to protect. An English maid-servant is a pleasant girl to
chat with, when half shrouded by the mystic fog of the evening and with
her smart little cap coquettishly placed on her head, she issues from
the sallyport of the kitchen, and advances stealthily to the row of
palisades which protect the house. And the handsome policeman, too, with
his blue coat and clean white gloves, is held in high regard and esteem
by the cooks and housemaids of England. His position on his beat is
analogous to that of the porter of a very large house; it is a point of
honour with him, that nothing shall escape his observation.

This _police-honour_ constitutes the essential difference between the
English and the continental police. Even the most liberal of
politicians--not a visionary--must admit, that it is impossible for a
large town, and still more impossible for a large state, to exist
without a well-organised protective force. It matters little whether the
force which insures the citizens against theft and robbery, as other
associations insure them against fire and hail-storms, is kept up and
directed by the State, or whether it is maintained by private
associations--as has been proposed. It is enough to refer to the fact,
that philanthropists of the Cobden and Burritt stamp have found reasons
as plenty as blackberries against standing armies of soldiers; but that
they have never yet dared to deny the necessity of a standing army of
policemen.

The police, whenever and wherever it answers its original purpose, is a
most beneficent institution. Its unpopularity in all the states of the
Continent is chargeable, not to the principles of the institution, but
to their perversion. It is the perversion of the protective force into
an instrument of oppression and aggression, which the German hates at
home; but he has no aversion to the police as such. Even the maddest of
the democratic refugees confess to great love and admiration for the
police in England. A man may like his cigar without entertaining a
preposterous passion for nicotine.

The policeman, no matter whether in a uniform or in plain clothes, is a
soldier of peace--a sentinel on a neutral post, and as such he is as
much entitled to respect as the soldier who takes the field against a
foreign invader. This is the case in England. The policeman is always
ready to give his assistance and friendly advice; the citizen is never
brought into an embarrassing and disagreeable contact with the police;
and the natural consequence of this state of things is, that the most
friendly feelings exist between the policeman and the honest part of the
population. Whenever the police have to interfere and want assistance,
the inhabitants are ready to support them, for they know that the police
never act without good reasons.

The detective police, who act in secret, do not stand on such an
intimate footing with the public as the preventive part of the force;
but whenever they are in want of immediate assistance for the arrest of
an offender, the detective has but to proclaim his functions, and no
man, not even the greatest man in the land, would refuse to lend him
assistance. In Germany and in France no one will associate with an agent
of the secret police, a _mouchard_, or by whatever other name those
persons may be called. Every one has an instinctive aversion to coming
in contact with this species of animal, for they are traitorous,
venomous, and blood-thirsty. And that such is the case, is another proof
of the vast superiority of the British institutions over those of the
Continent.

That London has not in the fulness of time come to be a vast den of
thieves and murderers, is mainly owing to the action of the detective
force. Here, where the worst men of the European and American continents
congregate, the functions of a detective are not only laborious but also
dangerous. The semi-romantic ferocity of an Italian bandit is sheer good
nature, if compared to the savage hardness and villany of a London
burglar. The bandit plies his lawless trade in the merry green wood and
mossy dell; he confesses to his priest, and receives absolution for any
peccadilloes in the way of stabbing he may have happened to commit; on
moonlit nights his head rests on the knees of the girl that loves him,
in spite of his cruel trade. He is not altogether lost to the gentler
feelings of humanity, and, in a great measure, he wants the confounding
hardening consciousness of having, by his actions, disgraced himself and
his species. But the London robber, like a venomous reptile, has his
home in dark holes under ground, in hidden back rooms of dirty houses,
and on the gloomy banks of the Thames. He breaks into the houses as a
wolf into a sheepfold, and kills those who resist him, and, in many
instances, even those who offer no resistance. There is no sun or
forest-green for him, no priest gives him absolution, the female that
herds with him is, in most cases, even more ferocious and abandoned than
himself; and if he be father to a child, he casts it at an early age
into the muddy whirlpool of the town, there to beg, to steal, and to
perish.

The streets which skirt the banks of the Thames are most horrible. There
the policeman does not saunter along on his beat with that easy and
comfortable air which distinguishes him in the western parts of the
town. Indeed, in many instances, they walk by twos and twos, with dirks
under their coats, and rattles to call in the aid of their comrades.

Many policemen and detectives, who, hunting on the track of some crime,
have ventured into these dens of infamy have disappeared, and no trace
has been left of them. They fell as victims to the vengeance of some
desperate criminal whom, perhaps, on a former occasion, they had brought
to justice. And it would almost appear to be part of the _haute
politique_ of the London robbers, that some policeman must be killed
from time to time as a warning to his comrades. The guild of assassins,
too, have their theory of terrorism.

Another remarkable fact is, that the London policemen, though their duty
brings them constantly in contact with the very scum of the earth,
contract none of their habits of rudeness, which appear to be an
essential portion of the stock-in-trade of the continental police. One
should say, that the "force" in England is recruited from a most
meritorious class of society, one in which patience, gentleness, and
politeness are hereditary.

Look there! A fine strapping fellow crossing the street with a child in
his arms! The girl is trembling as an aspen-leaf, for she was just on
the point of getting under a wheel. That fine fellow has taken her up;
and now you see he crosses again and fetches the little girl's mother,
who stands bewildered with the danger, and whom he conducts in safety to
the opposite pavement. Who and what is that man? His dress is decent and
citizen-like, and yet peculiar; it differs from the dress of ordinary
men; coat and trowsers of blue cloth; a number and a letter embroidered
on his collar; a striped band and buckle on his arm; a hat with oilskin
top, and white gloves--rather a rarity in the dirty atmosphere of
London. That man is a policeman, a well got up and improved edition of
our own German _Polizeidiener_, those scarecrows with sticks, sabres,
and other military accoutrements, standing at the street-corners of
German capitals, and spoiling the temper of honest men as well as of
thieves.

It is, however, a mistake to believe, as some persons on the continent
actually do, that the London police are altogether unarmed and at the
mercy of every drunkard. Not only have they, in many instances and
quarters, a dirk hidden under their great-coats, but they have also, at
all times, a short club-like staff in their pockets. This staff is
produced on solemn occasions, for instance, on the occasion of public
processions, when every policeman holds his staff in his hand. The
staves have of

[Illustration: THE LOST CHILD.

p. 54.]

late years been manufactured of gutta percha, and made from this
material they are lighter and more durable than wooden staves. In the
name of all that is smashing, what a rich full sound does not such a
gutta percha club produce when in quick succession it comes down on a
human shoulder. That sound is frequently heard by those who, on Saturday
or Monday night, perambulate the poorer or more dissolute quarters of
the town, when all respect for the constable's staff has been drowned in
a deluge of gin. Matters, on such occasions, proceed frequently to the
extremity of a duel. The policeman, like any civilian, fights for his
skin; he gets a drubbing and returns it with interest. But since his
weapon does not give him so manifest an advantage as a sword would, the
public consider the _fracas_ a fair fight. And after all, the combatants
must appear before a magistrate; in the police-court they are on equal
terms, and witnesses are heard on either side. There is no prejudice in
favour of the policeman.

But stop! Look at the crowd in the street. Two policemen are busy with a
poor ragged creature of a woman, whom they carry to a doorway. An
accident perhaps? Nothing of the kind. The woman is drunk, and fell down
in the road. The policemen are taking her to the station, where she may
sleep till she is sober. But it was a strange spectacle to see those two
men in smart blue coats and white gloves rescuing the ragged woman from
the mire of the street.

Let us go on. At Temple Bar there is a Gordian knot of vehicles of every
description. Three drays are jammed into one another. One of the horses
has slipped and fallen. The traffic is stopped for a few minutes; and
this is a matter of importance at Temple Bar. Just look down
Fleet-street--the stoppage extends to Ludgate-hill. But half a dozen
policemen appear as if by enchantment. One of them ranges the vehicles
that proceed to the city in a line on the left side of the road. A
second lends a hand in unravelling the knot of horses. A third takes his
position in the next street, and stops the carriages and cabs which, if
allowed to proceed, would but contribute their quota to the confusion.
Two policemen are busy with the horse which lies kicking in the road.
They unhook chains and unbuckle straps; get the horse on its legs, and
assist the driver in putting him to rights again. They have got dirty
all over; and they must, moreover, submit to hear from Mr. Evans, who
stands on the pavement dignified, with a broad-brimmed Quaker hat, that
they are awkward fellows, and know nothing whatever about the treatment
of horses. In another minute, the whole street-traffic is in full force.
The crowd vanishes as quickly and silently as it came. The two policemen
betake themselves to the next shop, where the apprentice is called upon
to brush their clothes.

The continental policeman is the torment of the stranger. The London
policeman is the stranger's friend. If you are in search of an
acquaintance and only know the street where he lives, apply to the
policeman on duty in that street, and he will show you the house, or at
least assist you in your search. If you lose your way, turn to the first
policeman you meet; he will take charge of you and direct you. If you
would ride in an omnibus without being familiar with the goings and
comings of those four-wheeled planets, speak to a policeman, and he will
keep you by his side until the "bus" you want comes within hailing
distance. If you should happen to have an amicable dispute with a
cabman--and what stranger can escape that infliction?--you may
confidently appeal to the arbitration of a policeman. If, in the course
of your peregrinations, you come to a steam-boat wharf or a
railway-station, or a theatre or some other public institution, and if
you are at a loss how to proceed, pray pour your sorrows into the
sympathetic ear of the policeman. He will direct yourself and baggage;
in a theatre, he will assist you in the purchase of a ticket, or at
least tell you where to apply and how to proceed. The London policeman
is almost always kind and serviceable.

At night, indeed, as some say, he is rather more rough-spoken than in
the day-time; and when you meet and address him in some solitary street,
he is reserved and treats you with something akin to suspicion. Whether
or not this remark applies to the force generally, we will not undertake
to decide. But it is quite natural that they should not be altogether at
their ease in

[Illustration: THE CAB DISPUTE.

p. 56.]

solitary or disreputable quarters, and that their temper gets soured
thereby. A glass of brandy now and then may also contribute to produce
the above effect. But the English climate is damp; the fog makes its
home in the folds of the constable's great-coat; the rain runs from the
oilskin cape which stands the policeman in the stead of an umbrella; the
wind is cold and bleak; and we leave the policeman on his beat with "the
stranger's thanks and the stranger's gratitude."



CHAP. VI.

Newgate and its Neighbourhood.

     RIVERS UNDER GROUND.--DIVISION OF LABOUR.--EXECUTIONS.--THE
     PEOPLE'S FESTIVALS.--PREDILECTION FOR CRIMINAL CASES.--STATISTICS
     OF NEWGATE.--PATERNOSTER-ROW.--SMITHFIELD.--SELF-GOVERNMENT, ITS
     BRIGHT AND DARK SIDES.


London has, besides the Thames, a great many smaller rivers, the
majority of which have, for many years past, been appropriated by the
commissioners of sewers and the antiquarians. In the olden days, men
went out of the way of rivers. In our own time, the rivers are compelled
to give way to mankind. They are vaulted and bridged over, and houses
have been built on the vaults, or streets have been constructed over
them; and the grocer in the corner shop yonder has not the least
suspicion of his house standing on a river, and he never thinks of the
lamentable condition of his goods, in case the vault were to give way
under him.

One of these rivers was the Fleet river. After it the street is named
even at the present day. The site of its bed is still marked by a broad
valley street with considerable hills, all built over, on either side.
The hills are so steep that heavy drays and omnibuses cannot come down
without locking.

This operation, though insignificant, furnishes an opportune
illustration of the extent to which the principle of the division of
labour has been carried in London.

Just look at that lumbering omnibus, thundering along at a sharp trot.
It has reached the brink when the horses are stopped for a second; and
at that very moment a fellow makes a rush at the omnibus, bending his
body almost under the wheels, and moving forward with the vehicle, which
still proceeds, he unhooks the drag, and puts it to one of the
hind-wheels. This done, he calls out "All right!" The horses, sagacious
creatures, understand the meaning of that sentence as well as the
driver; they fall again into a sharp trot down the hill. At the bottom
there is another human creature making a neck-or-nothing rush at the
wheels, taking the drag off and hooking it on again. "All right!" The
horses stamp the pavement to the flying-about of sparks, the driver
makes a noise which is half a whistle and half a hiss, and the omnibus
rushes up the opposite bank of the quondam Fleet river.

"Time is money!" is an English proverb, and one whose validity is so
strongly acknowledged, that in many instances money is freely spent in
order to effect a saving of time. Those two men save the omnibuses
exactly one minute in each tour down Holborn Hill, for one minute each
of them would lose if they were to stop to put on the drag. But one
minute's loss to the many thousands who daily pass this way represents a
considerable capital of time. If the two men are remunerated at the rate
of only one halfpenny per omnibus, their incomes will be found to be
larger than the salary of many a public functionary in Germany.

This, then, is another specimen of industry and economy peculiar to
London streets. But, let us say, that it is possible only by means of
the enormous traffic which crowds the streets of London.

We have, meanwhile, walked down the steep descent. We have crossed the
hidden stream, walked up the hill on the other side, and now we stand on
a broad _plateau_, where two large streets cross at right angles. This
conformation produces a considerable amount of space between the
pavements--a sort of irregular open square, and one which from time to
time presents a melancholy spectacle.

One of the street corners is taken up by the old Newgate Prison; and the
open place in front serves for the execution of felons who have been
sentenced to death at the Sessions, and who, in the first instance, had
been committed to Newgate. It is a shocking custom, though it springs
from the humane desire to shorten the agony which the criminal must
suffer on his road from the prison to the scaffold.

"Our popular festivals!" said a lady, who had been emancipated by a
lengthened residence on the Continent. "You wish to know where the
people's merry-makings are held? Go to Newgate on a hanging day, or to
Horsemonger Lane, or to any other open space in front of a prison; there
you will find shouting, and joking, and junketting, from early dawn
until the hangman has made his appearance and performed his office. The
windows are let out, stands are erected, eating and drinking booths
surround the scaffold; there is an enormous consumption of beer and
brandy. They come on foot, on horseback, and in carriages, from a
distance of many miles, to see a spectacle which is a disgrace to
humanity; and foremost are the women--my countrywomen--not only the
females of low degree, but also ladies, 'by birth and education.' It is
a shame; but, nevertheless, it is true. And our newspapers are
afterwards compelled to chronicle the last death-struggles of the
wretched criminal!"

There is no exaggeration in this. A criminal process, robbery and
murder, a case of poisoning--these suffice to keep the families of
England in breathless suspense for weeks at a time. The daily and weekly
papers cannot find space enough for all the details of the inquest, the
proceedings of the police, the trial, and the execution; and woe to the
paper that dared to curtail these interesting reports! it would at once
lose its supporters. Rather let such a paper take no notice of an
insurrection in Germany; but neglect a criminal trial, a scene on the
scaffold--never!

Let us look into that room. The father of the family, his wife, the old
grandmother, with her hands demurely folded, and the daughters and
little children, are all crowded round the table. The father reads the
newspaper; the family listens to him. The tea is getting cold, the fire
is going out, the curtains are still undrawn and the blinds are up; the
very passengers in the street--"O tell it not in Gath!"--can see what is
going on in the parlour; but the listeners pay no attention to all this,
for the paper contains a full report of the trial of Mrs. Manning, or
some other popular she-assassin. Did she do the deed? Is she innocent?
Did she make a confession? And what about her husband? And how was it
done, and when, and where?

It is truly marvellous! These good, gentle people, who would not
willingly hurt or pain any living creature, actually warm to the scenes
of horror reported in that paper. It is altogether incomprehensible, how
and to what extent this passion for the horrible has seized hold of the
hearts of English men and women. They languish after strong emotions;
they yearn for something which will make their flesh creep. A similar
phenomenon may occasionally be observed on the other side of the
Channel; but there it forms the exception, while here it is the rule.
And on the Continent, too, we find this horror-mongering only in the
provinces, where people, wearied with the monotony of their long winter
evenings, hunger and thirst after anything like a public scandal or
spectacle; but we do not find this sort of thing in large towns, where
people have a variety of objects and incidents to attract their
attention. But the English on the Continent make long journeys to be
present at an execution. Their passion accompanies them even across the
Channel. Surely we do not envy their feelings in this respect!

Newgate is a gloomy-looking, ancient building. It is the _beau ideal_ of
prison architecture, with hardly any windows, with here and there an
empty niche, or some dilapidated carvings; all besides is gloomy, stony,
and cold.

Newgate has gone down in the world. In its early years it was devoted to
the reception of persons of high rank; it has since submitted to the
principle of legal equality, and rich and poor, high and low, pass
through its gates to freedom or the scaffold. About three thousand
prisoners are annually confined within its walls. The prison can
accommodate five hundred at a time, and this number is usually found
there immediately before the commencement of the sessions. But the
sessions of the Central Criminal Court once over, Newgate is almost
empty, for some of its inmates have been discharged from custody, while
the majority of them have received their sentence and taken their
departure for sundry houses of detention and correction. The prisoners
in Newgate are at liberty to communicate with one another; they are not
compelled to work.

We pass through Newgate-street and turn to the right into
Paternoster-row, a narrow street, from times immemorial the manufactory
of learning, where the publishing trade is carried on in dingy houses,
and where it runs its anarchical career without the benefit of a
_censor_.

"From times immemorial!" That is a hasty expression. There was a time
when Paternoster-row harboured the grocery trade of the city, while the
upper stories were taken by _Marchandes des Modes_ and visited by all
the beauty and elegance of old London. But gaiety had to give way to
religion, and the _Marchandes des Modes_, taking flight to more modern
streets, were followed by the rosary-girls under Henry VIII. Luther's
translation of the Bible was publicly burnt in this neighbourhood, and
soon after warrants were issued against those who had burnt it. So
varied have been the applications of this narrow dusky lane, in which,
to this day, the traveller may read an inscription on a stone tablet,
announcing that Paternoster-row is the highest point of ancient London.

In our own days this street is to London what Leipzig is to Germany. The
departments of the publishing trade are, however, kept more strictly
separate. The publishers of Bibles, who send forth the Scriptures in
volumes of all sizes, from the smallest to the largest, and who do
business in all the civilised and barbarous languages on the face of the
earth, exclude all vain and secular literature, such as tales, novels,
plays, poems, and works of history. While the publishers of such like
works in their turn, generally fight shy of tourists and travellers
whose works belong to departments of another class of publishing firms.
Juvenile books form a very important department of the publishing trade;
and this department, like the infant schools, is entirely devoted to the
instruction and amusement of the rising generation. So strenuous are the
exertions of those publishers to entice the babes and infants of England
into the treacherous corners of the A, B, C, and of the higher sciences,
that their solicitude in this respect appears almost touching to those
who fancy that all this trouble is taken and all this ingenuity
expended, purely and simply for the interest of philanthropy, and of
good sound education.

We ought not to stop too long in Paternoster-row. Our presence is
required elsewhere. But still we must for the benefit of German mothers
and publishers, state the fact, that of late years the publishers of
Paternoster-row have hit upon the plan of printing the rudiments of all
human science on strong white canvass. English children, in the dawn of
their young existence, are as essentially practical as German children.
They have an instinctive aversion to all printed matter. The A, B, C, is
to them the first fruit from the tree of knowledge, the key to the
mysteries and woes of life. Therefore do the children of England detest
the primers; they soil them, tear them, roll the leaves, in short treat
them with as much scorn and contumely, as though the annihilation of a
single copy would lead to the extinction of the whole species.

The practical spirit of English speculation meets this prejudice on its
own ground. The primers, or A, B, C, books as they are called in
Germany, are printed on canvass, and each leaf is moreover hemmed, for
all the world like a respectable domestic pocket-handkerchief. For
children are sagacious, and but for the hemming the rudiments of science
would, under their hands, be converted into lint. As it is, even the
most obstreperous of little boys is powerless in the presence of such a
canvass book. And, supposing, he be uncommonly obstinate, and that after
great exertion he succeeds in running his finger through one of the
leaves; even then he is foiled, for his mother darns it as she would an
old stocking; and the monster book appears again as clean and immaculate
as a diplomatic note. And the upshot of the affair is that the poor
little boy must go without the usual allowance of Sunday pudding.

London is the greatest market for books in the world. Not only does it
supply England, but also Asia, Africa, Australia, and those island
colonies of the great ocean, in which English daring and English
enterprise have established the Anglo-Saxon race, and with it the
English language. About 15,000 persons are employed in the printing,
binding, and in the sale of books. Their mechanical aids and machinery
have been brought to an astounding height of perfection, and an edition
of a thousand copies in octavo requires but ten or twelve hours for the
binding. But when you consider those bony, broad-shouldered,
firm-looking Englishmen, you understand at once that such men could not
live on literature alone. Paternoster-row, the centre of the
book-trade, carries on its existence in modest retirement amidst a
conglomeration of large and small streets, but to the north there is the
provoking, broad, impertinent extent of old Smithfield, the notorious
cattle-market of London, the greatest cattle-market in the world, the
dirtiest of all the dirty spots which disgrace the fair face of the
capital of England.

This immense open place, or more properly speaking, this immense
conglomeration of a great many small open places, with its broad open
street market, is covered all over with wooden compartments and pens,
such as are usual on the sheep-farms of the continent.

Each of these pens is large enough to accommodate a moderate sized
statue; each of them must, on Mondays and Fridays, accommodate an ox and
a certain number of cattle, pigs, or sheep. If by a miracle all these
wretched animals were converted into marble or bronze, surely after
thousands of years, the nations of the earth would journey to Smithfield
to study the character of this our time in that vast field of monuments.

But since such a poetical transformation has not taken place, the
appearance of that quarter of the town is curious but not agreeable.
Surrounded by dirty streets, lanes, courts, and alleys, the haunts of
poverty and crime, Smithfield is infested not only with fierce and
savage cattle, but also with the still fiercer and more savage tribes of
drivers and butchers. On market-days the passengers are in danger of
being run over, trampled down, or tossed up by the drivers or "beasts";
at night, rapine and murder prowl in the lanes and alleys in the
vicinity; and the police have more trouble with this part of the town
than with the whole of Brompton, Kensington, and Bayswater. The crowding
of cattle in the centre of the town is an inexhaustible source of
accidents. Men are run down, women are tossed, children are trampled to
death. But these men, women, and children, belong to the lower classes.
Persons of rank or wealth do not generally come to Smithfield early in
the morning, if, indeed, they ever come there at all. The child is
buried on the following Sunday, when its parents are free from work; the
man is taken to the apothecary's shop close by, where the needful is
done to his wound; the woman applies to some female quack for a
plaister, and if she is in good luck she gets another plaister in the
shape of a glass of gin from the owner of the cattle. The press takes
notice of the accidents, people read the paragraph and are shocked; and
the whole affair is forgotten even before the next market day.

For years Smithfield has been denounced by the press and in Parliament.
The Tories came in and went out; so did the Whigs. But neither of the
two great political parties could be induced to set their faces against
the nuisance. The autonomy of the city, moreover, deprecated anything
like government intervention, for Smithfield is a rich source of
revenue; the market dues, the public-house rents, and the traffic
generally, represent a heavy sum. In the last year only, the Lords and
Commons of England have pronounced the doom of Smithfield. The cattle
market is to be abolished. But when? That is the question--for its
protectors are sure to come forward with claims of indemnity, and other
means of temporisation; and the choice of a fitting locality, on the
outskirts of the town, will most likely take some years. For we ought
not to forget that in England everything moves slowly, with the
exception of machinery and steam.

Smithfield and its history are instances of the many dark sides of
self-government. For self-government has its dark sides, commendable
though it be as the basis of free institutions. It is to the
self-government of every community, of every parish, and of every
association, that England is indebted for her justly envied industrial,
political, and commercial, greatness. But self-government is the cause
of many great and useful undertakings proceeding but slowly; and, in
many instances, succumbing to the assaults of hostile and vested
interests. The government, indeed, attempts to combat all nuisances by
mooting and fostering a variety of agitations. In Germany, it wants but
a line from a minister to eradicate small evils, or introduce signal
improvements. In England the same matters must be dealt with in a tender
and cautious manner; it takes a score or so of years of agitation, until
parliament yielding to public opinion, passes its vote for the
improvement, or against the nuisance. Great joy there would be in
London, if Smithfield, as Sodom of old, were consumed with fire; but
the whole of London would have been urged to resistance if the
government had presumed, on its own responsibility, to interfere with
Smithfield. Is this prejudice or political wisdom? On which side is the
greater good--and on which the worse evil? The present happy condition
of England has long since answered that question in favour of
self-government. If ever there was a question on this point, it has long
been settled in the hearts and minds of all continental nations. If they
were to act according to their inclinations, I am positive they would
"go and do so likewise."



CHAP. VII.

Street Life.--The Post-office.

     LONDON AND THE OCEAN.--HOW YOU MAY ATTACK THE REPUTATION OF
     EITHER.--THE METROPOLIS "EN NEGLIGEE."--THE POST-OFFICE.--THE
     MODERN LETTER-WRITER.--MONEY ORDERS.--PENNY STAMPS, THEIR USE AND
     ABUSE.--JOHN BULL AND THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER.--HOW MR.
     BULL IMPOSES UPON THAT RESPECTABLE FUNCTIONARY.--WHAT IS A
     NEWSPAPER?--THE GREAT HALL OF THE POST-OFFICE AT SIX P.M.


"Did you ever see the ocean?" said I, some time ago, to a Vienna friend,
as by accident we met in Cheapside. Not far from the spot where from
Newgate-street the passenger turns off to the Bank, there is a crossing
of some of the most crowded streets. We stood on the pavement waiting
for an opportunity, or a stoppage among the vehicles, to make a rush to
the opposite side. "Well," said I; "Did you ever see the ocean."

"In a way!" replied my countryman, producing a cigar; and in a moment a
match-seller was by his side offering his inflammable wares. "In a
manner," repeated my countryman, as he lit his cigar. "Of course I did
not come by land from St. Stephen's Place, in Old Vienna. I did cross a
piece of salt water as far as I can remember; but that confounded
sea-sickness got hold of my stomach, and made me blind to the marvels of
the ocean. And--between you and me--I can't say I was much taken with
what I could see. I've read a deal about the sea, the wide and open sea,
and all its glories. But it's all humbug, that's what it is; or, if you
would rather, it's poetic fancy. Water, after all, is but water. And, as
for the sharks, you can't see them. There wasn't even such a thing as a
storm. The lakes of Ischl are quite as green as the channel, and,
perhaps, a shade greener. And last year, when I was on the Platten Lake,
on my honour! I could not see to the opposite shore. Water, after all,
is but water; and a few miles, more or less, make no difference that I
can see. Besides, you only see a certain portion. That's _my_ opinion."

O good and honest Viennese! I stopped my countryman, who was just taking
a desperate leap into the road. No doubt he would have reached the
opposite pavement in safety; but I stopped him, for I wanted a pretence
for shaking hands with him. A Berlin man would never have deigned to
declare that the ocean is a humbug, even though he had never gone beyond
the bridges of the Spree or Havel river at Potsdam. Humbug has no
existence for the real Berlin man, who has been reared in the
superlative; and, besides, how can a Berliner, with all his contempt for
authority, ever plead guilty to considering an important phenomenon, one
which has been established ever since the days of the Great Elector,
with less poesy than Henry Heine, and with less interest than Alexander
von Humboldt. A Berliner would certainly have held forth on the
"absolute idea," or the "relative nothing," or the "subjective view of
space"; even though he never felt anything like the meaning of those
hard words, and even if, within his secret heart, he had thought exactly
as the Viennese did before he got sea-sick. There are things which a
Berliner would rather die than say in public.

But my readers are justly entitled to ask what could induce me to
connect Cheapside with the first impressions which a continental mind
receives of the sea. The association of the two ideas is not by any
means so absurd as some very sapient Germans may think. The first
impressions which London makes on the stranger's mind are similar to his
first impressions of the sea. They are not overwhelming. "A town, after
all, is but a town"; that's what my Viennese friend would say. "There
are as fine houses in Vienna and Berlin, and some are more imposing.
Brewer's drays, foot-passengers, cabs, omnibuses, and policemen--we have
them all. A town, after all, is but a town. A few miles, more or less,
make no difference. You can't see it all at once!"

But it so happens that my countryman, thanks to the intervention of some
friends, gets a place as engineer, at Folkestone. Between ourselves, he
is a refugee. But what German, of our days, is not a refugee, or likely
to be one? The Germans are a nation of traitors just now; therefore....
No offence.

Now my friend passes his leisure hours on the beach. He looks at the
dark waters, and the white spray, and the waves which break at his feet.
The waves come and go, and keep coming and going, alternately large and
small, fast and slow. At one point they shoot smoothly over the yellow
sand; at another they break with a thundering motion against the granite
blocks of the jetty, flinging their spray over the stone parapet; and
where my friend sits, the waves wash up shells and curious stones, and
strange sea-weed, and withered leaves of sub-marine plants and shrubs;
and the tides turn, coming in and going out, and the demon of the storm
disports itself in the blackened air. The sea is dark and seething, and
the fishing-boats, with their masts creaking and groaning, hasten up and
down the waves to the gates of the harbour. The water in the very
harbour is moved to and fro in violent convulsions; monster clouds,
fringed with lightish gray, are driven landwards day and night; are
confounded in the gloomy tints of the ocean, which groans and raves, and
engulphs its victims, until its strength is exhausted. And the moon
breaks through the clouds, preaching peace with her pallid demure face;
and the waves are converted by the sentimental saint, and again rush
playfully along the sand of the beach; and again they wash shells, and
curious stones, and strange sea-weed, and withered leaves of sub-marine
plants to the feet of my friend, who, overwhelmed with the spectacle,
sits staring on vacancy.

"But you are quite wet, and really you look very sentimental, my dear
countryman from the banks of the Danube! Water, after all, is but water!
I hope you haven't seen a shark? The lakes of Ischl are just as green as
the sea, and perhaps a shade greener. A few miles more or less--what
does it matter? A good deal of humbug about it, isn't there?"

"You are malicious, Doctor. On my honour, very malicious! One ought to
look at that pool for a year or so to know what it really is."

Pilgrim from the land of passports, when you come to this giant town, in
which traffic built its living dykes in every street then do not, in
the name of all that is candid, be ashamed to appear, for three days at
least, as an unfeeling callous creature. Make no secret of your
thoughts. A few houses more or less cannot make an impression on a truly
reasonable man!

But, friend stranger, stand for an hour or two leaning against the iron
gate of Bow-church, Cheapside, or take up your position on the steps of
the Royal Exchange. Do, as my countryman does in lonely Folkstone; let
the waves of the great city rush past you, now murmuringly, now
thunderingly, now fast, now slow, as crowds press on crowds, and
vehicles on vehicles, as the streams of traffic break against every
street corner and spread through the arterial system of the lanes and
allies; as the knot of men, horses and vehicles get entangled almost at
every point where the large streets join and cross, to move and heave
and spin round, and get disentangled again, and again entangled. After
such a review only can you realise the idea of the greatness of London.

It is said of a stranger, who came to London for the first time and took
his quarters in one of the most crowded city streets, that he remained
standing at the door the whole of the first day of his London existence,
because he waited "until the crowd had gone." A man who would do that
ought to rise and go to bed with the owl. It is this which, after a
prolonged stay in London so moves our admiration, that there is no stop,
no rest, no pause in the street-life throughout the busy day.

In smaller towns, too, there are occasions or times when the streets are
crowded in the extreme. The _trottoirs_ of the Paris Boulevards are
charming places, and on a beautiful evening they are as crowded, and
even more so than the pavements of the London streets. But the crowding
on the Paris _trottoirs_ lasts a few hours only during the usual
promenade time. London street-life is not bound to time; it is not
confined within the narrow limits of a few hours. Indeed there is not a
single hour in the four and twenty, in which any one of the principal
London streets can be said to be deserted. For when the denizens of the
far West retire to rest, at that very hour does the street-life dawn in
the business-quarters of the East.

Early in the morning, before the chimneys of the houses and factories,
of the railway-engines and steamers, have had time to fill the air with
smoke, London presents a peculiar spectacle. It looks clean. The houses
have a pleasing appearance; the morning sun gilds the muddy pool of the
Thames; the arches and pillars of the bridges look lighter and less
awkward than in the daytime, and the public in the street, too, are very
different from the passengers that crowd them at a later hour.

Slowly, and with a hollow, rumbling sound do the sweeping-machines
travel down the street in files of twos and threes to take off every
particle of dust and offal. The market-gardener's carts and waggons come
next; they proceed at a brisk trot to arrive in time for the early
purchasers. After them, the coal-waggons and brewer's drays, which only
at certain hours are permitted to unload in the principal streets of the
city. At the same time, the light, two-wheeled carts of the butchers,
fishmongers, and hotel-keepers, rattle along at a slapping pace; for
their owners--sharp men of business--would be the first in the market to
choose the best and purchase at a low price. Here and there a trap is
opened in the pavement, and dirty men ascend from the regions below;
they are workmen, to whose care is committed the city under-ground,
which they build, repair, and keep in good order. Damaged gas and
water-pipes, too, are being repaired, and the workmen make all possible
haste to replace the paving-stones and leave the road in a passable
condition. For the sun mounts in the sky and their time is up. They
return to their lairs and go to sleep just as the rest of the town
awakens to the labours of the day.

Besides these, there are a great many other classes whose avocations
compel them to take to the street by break of day. At a very early hour
they appear singly or in small knots, with long, white clay pipes in
their mouths; as the day advances, they come in troops, marching to
their work in docks and warehouses. Ill-tempered looking, sleepy-faced
barmen take down the shutters of the gin-shops; cabs, loaded with
portmanteaus and band-boxes, hasten to deposit their occupants at the
various railway-stations; horsemen gallop along, eager for an early
country-ride; from minute to minute there is an increase of life and
activity. At length the shops, the windows and doors of houses are
opened; omnibuses come in from the suburbs and land their living freight
in the heart of the city; the pavements are crowded with busy people,
and the road is literally crowded with vehicles of every description. It
is day and the hour is 10 A.M.

Long before this, hundreds of high chimney-towers have belched forth
their volumes of thick black smoke, and that smoke obscures the horizon
with long streaks of black smut, and mixes and becomes more dense as the
millions of chimneys on the house-tops contribute their quota, until a
dusky atmosphere is formed, which intercepts the rays of the sun. Such
is London by day. That is the enormous city with her deep grey robe of
smoke and fog, which she spins afresh every morning, and silently
unravels during the hours of the night, that she may, as Penelope of
old, keep idlers and courtiers away from her gates.

We are still at the point where Newgate-street opens into Cheapside. It
would almost seem as if the whirlpool of human beings that turn about in
that locality, had made us giddy, for our thoughts took their wayward
flight across the Thames, up to the clouds, and through the gully-holes
into the recesses of the city under-ground. We ought now to proceed on
_terra firma_, and with this laudable resolution, we turn to the left,
and stop in the front of the post-office at St. Martin's-le-Grand.

The existing arrangements of the English post-office, and the
penny-postage, which, in 1840, was introduced by Rowland Hill, have
proved so excellent in their results, that the majority of continental
states have been induced to approximate their institutions to Mr. Hill's
principle. Men of business and post-office clerks are not yet satisfied;
they desire a system of cheap international postage, and it is devoutly
to be hoped that those pious wishes will, in the end, be gratified. But
the majority of the continental governments hesitate before they commit
themselves to an experiment, which, in the most favourable case, only
promises a future increase of revenue, while in every case it is certain
to entail losses on the present. In England, however, the experiment
has been made, and the system works well and pays. And the arrangements
of the post-office have been brought to a degree of perfection unknown
even to the wildest dreams of the boldest political economist of the
last century.

With the general penny postage for England, Scotland, Ireland, and the
Channel Islands--with a regular, rapid, and frequent transmission of the
mails from and to the provinces, there is, moreover, an admirable system
adopted for the distribution of letters throughout the metropolis.
London is divided into two postal districts: one of them embraces the
area within three miles from the Chief Office at St. Martin's-le-Grand;
the second district includes those parts of the town which lie beyond
the three miles' circle.

The postage, of course, is the same for either district; but the
difference lies in the number of deliveries. In the inner circle there
are not less than ten deliveries a day.

The construction of the houses contributes much to the efficiency of the
system. The postman's functions are here much easier than those of his
continental colleagues. He is not required to go up and down stairs, he
gives his double knock; and as the majority of letters are inland
letters, and as such prepaid, no time is lost with paying and giving
change. The frequency of letter-boxes at the house doors tends still
more to simplify the proceeding.

At the time of the great Exhibition, these letter-boxes gave occasion to
many a comical mistake. Many of our continental friends entrusted their
correspondence to the keeping of private boxes, under the erroneous
presumption that every door-slit, with "_Letters_" over it, stood in
some mysterious connexion with the General Post Office. But when once
properly understood, the practical advantages of these private
letter-boxes were so apparent, that they moved all our stranger friends
to the most joyful admiration. The system however is nothing without the
prepayment of letters, without the English style of buildings, and the
English domestic arrangements, according to which each family inhabits
its own house. The South-German system of crowding many families into
one large house, and dividing even flats into separate lodgings, places
insuperable difficulties in the way of any such arrangement, even if
the Germans, generally, could be induced to prepay their letters. And
the Paris fashion of delivering all the letters at the porter's lodge,
is disagreeable, even for those who are not engaged in treasonable
correspondence, and who have no reason or desire to elude the vigilance
of the police.

After all, Rowland Hill's system of _cheap_ postage is one of the best
practical jokes that was ever perpetrated by an Englishman. This famous
cheapness is nothing but a snare for the unwary, for the especial
gratification of the Postmaster-General and the Chancellor of the
Exchequer. In no other country is there so much money expended on
postage as in England. A letter is only one penny; and what is a penny?
The infinitesimal fraction of that power which men call capital; that
miraculous Nothing, out of which the world was made, and out of which
some very odd fellows managed to make large fortunes, as it may be well
and truly read in juvenile books of first-class morality. But what
Londoner can condescend to establish his household arrangements on the
decimal system, or on the theory of miracles? Consequently, he writes
short letters to his cousins and nieces across the way, and to all his
near and dear relations in Yorkshire and the Shetland Islands. It is an
incontestable fact, that Englishmen spend more money in postage than the
citizens of any other country.

And how cleverly does the Post Office contrive to facilitate the means
of correspondence! Besides the large branch offices, there are above
five hundred receiving-houses in London, all of them established in
small shops, to induce you to enter; and that you may have no trouble in
finding them, a small board with a hand, and the words "Post Office," is
affixed to the nearest lamp-post, so that you need only look at the
lamp-posts to find the place for the reception of your letters. How
simple, and how practical!

But there is more behind! Many a man thinks it too great a tax upon his
time and patience to put the penny stamp on the envelope; the
Postmaster-General steps in and saves him the trouble. He manufactures
envelopes with the Queen's head printed on them, and he sells them a
penny a piece, so that you have the envelope gratis. They are gummed,
too, and do not want sealing. You have nothing to do but to write your
letter, put it into the envelope, and post it at the receiving-house
over the way or round the corner. These are some of the sly tricks on
which the Post Office thrives, so that, with its expenditure exceeding
one million sterling, it manages to hand over a large sum of surplus
receipts to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Nor ought it to be supposed, that, having attained so high a degree of
perfection, the English postal administration reclines on its laurels.
No! it strains every nerve to effect further improvements; and it has to
deal with a public fully competent to understand its merits, and
disposed to value them. The greatest praise of a public institution is
to be found, not in the eulogies of the press, but in the readiness of
the public to avail themselves of the advantages that institution
offers, and the improvements and facilities it effects. And the English
do this readily and joyfully, whenever their practical common sense
becomes alive to the usefulness of an innovation.

In this respect, and in many others, the English Government is in a more
favourable position than the continental governments. Its dealings are
with a great and generous nation: great ideas find a great public in
England. That is the reason why the continental estimates of men and
affairs appear so small, compared to the one which the English are in
the habit of applying. Particularly with respect to creating facilities
to traffic, the Government may venture on almost any experiment. The
public support every scheme of the kind, and the public support makes it
pay. Take, for instance, the system of money-orders, which was
introduced a few years back. Small sums under £5 are to be sent; and in
spite of the enormous difficulties and expenses which the scheme had to
encounter in its commencement, it is more firmly establishing from day
to day; its popularity is on the increase, and above £8,000,000 was, in
the year 1851, transmitted in this manner.

Let us now see how the Post Office deals with books, pamphlets, and
newspapers. Political papers which publish "news," says the act for that
purpose made and provided--"political journals," according to the
continental mode of expression--pass from province to province free of
postage, with only a small sum for transmission to the Colonies, that is
to say, to the Cape and the Antipodes. The penny stamp, which each copy
of a political journal is required to have, franks it throughout the
whole of Great Britain and Ireland--not once, but several times. A
letter stamp is blackened over at the Post Office, to prevent its being
used again; but the newspaper stamp has nothing to fear from the
postmaster's blacking apparatus. I read my copy of the _Times_ in the
morning, and am at liberty to send it to a friend, say to Greenwich.
That friend sends the same copy to another friend, say at Glasgow,
Edinburgh, or Dublin; and the same copy, after various peregrinations
through country post offices, and out-of-the-way villages, finds its way
back to London to the shop of a dealer in waste paper. No charge is made
by the Post Office for these manifold transmissions; and thus it happens
that friends conspire together to defraud the Post Office, and that
information finds its way from one end of the kingdom to another without
any advantage to the public purse.

I will quote an example of a trick which is still popular with many
English families. Suppose a husband and father has reason to expect an
addition to his family circle. His friends and relations are desirous to
be informed of the event as soon as it shall have come off, but letters,
however short, take time to write; and, after all, its a pity to pay so
many pence for postage, and children, too, are very expensive creatures.
The matter has been arranged beforehand. An old copy of the _Times_ is
sent, if the little stranger turns out a boy; if a girl, the father
sends a copy of the _Herald_. The child is born, and the papers are
posted. Letters of congratulation follow in due time. Her Majesty has
gained another subject, but the Exchequer has lost a few pence. This
method has not much political morality to recommend it; but it weighs
very lightly on an Englishman's conscience, since the proceeding, after
all, is not downright illegal.

"The Chancellor of the Exchequer and I"--says John Bull--"are on the
best terms; he cheats me whenever he can; he makes me pay in every
conceivable manner; he taxes my wine, my tea, the sunlight, my horse, my
land, and my carriage; he is always at it, and he squeezes me as I would
an orange. That's his right, and that's why he is Chancellor of the
Exchequer. How else could he manage to pay the interest on the national
debt, and the army and navy estimates, and all the sundries? _We_, the
nation, are the state, and that's why we ought to pay. But in return,
the right honourable gentleman must give us leave to cheat him whenever,
as it will happen with the sharpest of financiers, his financial laws
want a clause or two, and thus favour the operation. 'Horses above a
certain size are taxed to such and such an extent,' says he. Very well!
say I. But I move heaven and earth to produce horses under that size,
and avoid paying the tax. Carriages with wheels above 21 inches in
diameter are taxed. Very well. I get a small carriage made, one which
suits the size of my pony. Newspaper advertisements pay a duty of
eighteen-pence. Well and good. I advertise the birth of my child by
means of an old copy of the _Times_. That's fair dealing, which none can
find fault with. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and I know what we are
about. We are a couple of sly ones. John Bull after all pays for
everything; but he fights for his money to the best of his abilities. Of
course!"

Thus reasons the Englishman, whom the Germans love to consider as an
adorer of the law.

The difference between the English adoration and the German contempt of
the law, may be found in the fact, that an Englishman takes a delight in
outwitting the law, if it can be done in a loyal and honest manner. The
German believes he is justified in ignoring the law, since it was
imposed upon him without his consent. In other words: the subject of an
absolute government does not think the laws--except the laws of nature
and morality--to be binding, because such laws were imposed by superior
force. The citizen of a free country respects every law, because it
presupposes an agreement to which he has either indirectly or directly
assented. But let us return to the Post-office.

Though the newspaper-stamp franks the journals throughout England, still
it has not been thought advisable to extend the privilege to the postal
district within three miles from St. Martin's-le-Grand. All journals
posted within that circle must have an additional penny stamp. My copy
of the _Times_ goes free to Dublin; but if I address it to a friend in
the next street, it pays the postage. But for this salutary regulation,
all the news-vendors would post their papers, and the Post-office would
want the means of conveyance and delivery for the loads of printed
matter which, in such a case, would find their way into the chief
office.

The advantages of the newspaper stamp are, however, large enough to
induce its being solicited by papers, that are not by law compelled to
take it. _Punch_, for instance, is not considered a political paper. To
find out the reason why, is a task I leave to the principal Secretaries
of State of her Britannic Majesty. The whole of England is agreed on the
point that there is much more sound policy in the old fellow's humped
back than can be found in the heads of the Privy Council; and many an
agitator in search of an ally would prefer Toby to the Iron Duke.[C]
_Punch_, then, consults his own convenience and takes or refuses the
stamp according to circumstances. And as _Punch_ does, so do many other
papers, whom the law considers as unpolitical.

 [C] The first part of this work left the press early in 1852, when
 the Duke of Wellington was still alive. It has not been thought
 convenient to alter this passage, and some others to meet the change
 of circumstances.--[ED.]

We turn again to the General Post-office. It is a grand and majestic
structure, with colossal columns in the pure Greek style; and with an
air of classic antiquity, derived from the London atmosphere of fog and
smoke. It is easy to raise antique structures in London, for the rain
and the coals assist the architect. Hence those imposing tints! How
happy would the Berliners be, if Messrs. Fox and Henderson, instead of
constructing waterworks, could undertake to blacken the town, and give
it an antique old-established, instead of its _parvenu_ and stuck-up,
appearance. They are sadly in want of London smoke and of some other
English institutions which I cannot, for the sake of my own safety,
venture to specify.

Those who are not awed by the architectural beauties of the London
Post-office, should enter and take a stroll down those roomy high walls,
where on either side there are numbers of office windows and little
tablets. How small are, in the presence of those tablets, all the ideas
which Continentals form of a large central Post-office. They are so
many sign-posts, and direct you to all the quarters of the world; to the
East and West Indies, to Australia, China, the Canary Islands, the Cape,
Canada, etc. Every part of the globe has its own letter box; and the
stranger who, about six o'clock P. M., enters these halls, or takes up
his post of observation near the great City Branch Office, in
Lombard-street, would almost deem that all the nations of the world were
rushing in through the gates, and as if this were the last day for the
reception and transmission of letters.

Breathless come the bankers' clerks, rushing in just before the closing
hour; they open their parcels, and drop their letters into the various
compartments. There are messengers groaning under the weight of heavy
sacks, which they empty into a vast gulf in the flooring; they come from
the offices of the great journals, and the papers themselves are sorted
by the Post-office clerks. Here and there, among this crowd of business
people, you are struck with the half comfortable, half nervous bearing
of a citizen. Just now an old gentleman, with steel spectacles, hurries
by, casting an anxious look at the clock, lest he be too late. Probably
he wishes to post a paternal epistle to his son, who is on a fishing
excursion in Switzerland, and the letter is important, for in it the son
is adjured not by any means to discontinue wearing a flannel
under-jacket. Or an old lady has to post a letter to her grand-daughter
at school in the country, about the apple-pudding, for which the
grand-daughter sent her the receipt; and what a capital pudding it was,
and that the school must be a first-rate school--to be sure! And lo!
just as the clock strikes, a fair-haired and chaste English woman, with
a thick blue veil, makes her way to one of the compartments and drops a
letter. Thank goodness, she is in time! Heaven knows how sorry the poor
lad would have been if that letter had not reached him in due course.
For an English lover, they say, is often in a hanging mood, especially
in November, when the fogs are densest.

Now the wooden doors are closed; the hall is empty as if by magic, and
the tall columns throw their lengthened shadows on the stone flooring.

This is the most arduous period of the day for the clerks within. All
that heap of letters and newspapers which has accumulated in the course
of the day is to be sorted, stamped, and packed in time for the various
mail-trains. Clerks, servants, sorters, and messengers, hurry to and fro
in the subterraneous passage between the two wings of the building.
Clerks suspended by ropes, mount up to the ceiling and take down the
parcels which, in the course of the day, were deposited on high shelves.
And the large red carts come rattling in receive their load of bags, and
rattle off to the various stations; the rooms are getting empty; the
clerks have got through their work; the gas is put out, and silence and
darkness reign supreme. Here and there only in some little room a clerk
may be seen busy with accounts and long lists of places and figures.
When he retires to rest, the work of the day has already commenced in
the other offices. In this building, business is going on at all hours
of the day and the night. The loss of a minute would be felt by
thousands, at a distance of thousands of miles.

Hence does it happen that at no time is there a want of complaints about
the Post-office clerks and post-masters, while the officials, in their
turn, complain of the carelessness and negligence of the public. The
public's grievances find their way into the Journals, in a "Letter to
the Editor." The sorrows of the Post-office clerks obtain a less amount
of publicity; but they may be observed on the walls of the great hall,
where, daily, there is a list of misdirected letters, which have cost
the post-men a deal of trouble. Directions such as--

    "_To Mr. Robinson,
           "in
         America._"

Or,--

    "_To Miss Henrietta Hobson,
         "Just by the Church,
                "in London._"

However rich (some may think), these are not by any means rare; and such
small mistakes, I dare say, will happen in other countries besides
England, wherever there are simple-minded people who put their trust in
Providence and the royal Post-office. In Germany, where every man,
woman, and child is registered by the police, the postman may, as a last
resource, apply to that omniscient institution; but in England, where
the chief commissioner of the police is so abandoned as to be actually
ignorant of the whereabouts of honest and decent citizens, the
Post-office is deprived even of this last resource. The case would be
pitiable in the extreme, but for the comfortable reflection that in
England the police do not interfere with the post. The convenience, on
the one hand, is by far greater than the inconvenience on the other.



CHAP. VIII.

Sunlight--Moonlight--Gaslight.

     THE SUN AND THE LONDONERS.--MYSTERIES OF THE FOG.--HARVEST
     MOONS.--GAS.--HOW THE CLIMATE WORKS.--FLANNELS.--ENGLISH DINNERS
     AND FRENCH THEATRICALS.--CURRENT PHRASES.


Fashionable novelists, no matter whether their productions end with
marriage or suicide, devote their first chapters to geographical and
ethnographical accounts of the country or province in which they lay
their plots. Scientific travellers devote the first pages of their heavy
and immortal works to the respective telluria and astronomic
peculiarities of the country they propose to describe. To my sincere
regret, I have not, in my unsystematic wanderings through London, been
able to follow so laudable an example; for it requires a long residence
and a good deal of careful observation to understand the whims of the
London celestial bodies--their goings and comings--and their influence
on vegetable and animal life--on the strata of the atmosphere and of
mankind.

Since Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt, and Lola Montes into
a Countess of Landsfeld, there has not, as far as I know, been any
female being so much abused as the London sun;[D] but the reasons of
such abuse are diametrically opposed. The two first named ladies were
found fault with because they saw too much of the world, while the
London sun is justly charged with a want of curiosity. It turns its back
upon the wealthiest city in Christendom; and, in the presence of the
most splendid capital of Europe, it insists on remaining veiled in
steam, fog, and smoke.

 [D] The sun--_die Sonne_--is feminine in German.

The London sun, like unto German liberty, exists in the minds of the
people, who have faith in either, and believe that either might be
bright, dazzling, and glorious, were it not for the intervention of a
dark, ugly fog, between the upper and nether regions. It happens, just
now, that we have not seen the sun for the last three weeks. But for the
aid of astronomy, which tells us that the sun is still in its old place,
we might be tempted to believe that it had gone out of town for the long
vacation; or that it had been adjourned by some continental
constitutional government; or that it was being kept in a German
capital, waiting for the birthday of the reigning prince, when it must
come out in a blaze; for this, I understand, has been the sun's duty
from time immemorial. A three weeks' absence of the sun would make a
great stir in any other town. The Catholics would trace its cause to the
infidelity of the age; the Protestants would demonstrate that the sun
had been scared away by certain late acts of Papal aggression; and the
Jews would lament and ask: "How is it possible the sun can shine when
the Bank raises its rate of discount?" But the Londoners care as little
for a month of _chiaro-oscuro_ as the Laplanders do. They are used to
it.

Twice in the course of the last week--for an essayist on astronomical
matters ought to be conscientious--twice did the sun appear for a few
minutes. It was late in the afternoon, and it looked out from the west,
just above Regent's-park, where the largest menagerie in the world may
be seen for one shilling, and, on Mondays, for sixpence. All the
animals, from the hippopotamus down to the beaver, left their huts,
where they were at vespers, and stared at the sun, and wished it good
morning. It was a solemn moment! An impertinent monkey alone shaded his
eyes with his hands, and asked the sun where it came from, and whether
there was not some mistake somewhere? And the sun blushed and hid its
face beneath a big cloud. The monkey laughed and jeered, and the tigers
roared, and the turtle-doves said such conduct was shocking and
altogether ungentlemanly. The owl alone was happy, and said it was; for
it had been almost blind during the last five minutes; "and that," as he
said, "was a thing it had not been used to in London."

But whatever ill-natured remarks we and others may make on the London
sun, they apply only to the winter months. May and September shame us
into silence. In those months, the sun in London is as lovely, genial,
and--I must go the length of a trope--_sunny_ as anywhere in Germany;
with this difference only, that it is not so glowing--not so consistent.
In the country, too, it comes out in full, broad, and traditional glory.
Its favourite spots are in the South of England--Bristol, Bath,
Hastings, and the Isle of Wight. In those favored regions, the mild
breeze of summer blows even late in the year; the hedges and trees stand
resplendent with the freshness of their foliage; the meadows are green,
and lovely to behold; the butterflies hover over the blossoms of the
honeysuckle; the cedar from Lebanon grows there and thrives, and myrtles
and fuchsias, Hortensias and roses, and passion-flowers, surround the
charming villas on the sea-shore. Village churches are covered with ivy
up to the very roof; gigantic fern moves in the sea-breeze; the birds
sing in the branches of the wild laurel tree; cattle and sheep graze on
the downs; and grown-up persons and children bathe in the open sea,
while the German rivers are sending down their first shoals of ice, and
dense fogs welter in the streets of London.

Here is one of the vulgar errors and popular delusions of the Continent.
People confound the climate of London with the climate of England; they
talk of the isles of mist in the West of Europe. A very poetical idea
that, but as untrue as poetical. Many parts of these islands are as
clear and sunny as any of the inland countries of the Continent.

The winter-fogs of London are, indeed, awful. They surpass all
imagining; he who never saw them, can form no idea of what they are. He
who knows how powerfully they affect the minds and tempers of men, can
understand the prevalence of that national disease--the spleen. In a
fog, the air is hardly fit for breathing; it is grey-yellow, of a deep
orange, and even black; at the same time, it is moist, thick, full of
bad smells, and choking. The fog appears, now and then, slowly, like a
melodramatic ghost, and sometimes it sweeps over the town as the simoom
over the desert. At times, it is spread with equal density over the
whole of that ocean of houses on other occasions, it meets with some
invisible obstacle, and rolls itself into intensely dense masses, from
which the passengers come forth in the manner of the student who came
out of the cloud to astonish Dr. Faust. It is hardly necessary to
mention, that the fog is worst in those parts of the town which are near
the Thames.

When the sun has set in London (the curious in this respect, will do
well to consult the Almanack), and when the weather is tolerably clear,
the moon appears to govern the night. The moon is a more regular guest
in London than the sun; and the example of these celestial bodies is
followed by the great journals, the issue of the evening papers being
much more regular than that of the morning papers. The London moon is,
after all, not very different from the moon in Germany. It is quite as
pale and romantic; it is the confidant of lovesick maidens and
adventurous pickpockets.

Traveller from the Continent, enjoy the London moon with method and
reason! If heaven favored you by sending you into the street on a
beautiful, splendid, transparent, moonlit night, in which the shades of
Ossian and Mignon sit by the rivers or under the limetrees, while all
the poetry you smuggled from your native land awakes in your heart:
traveller, if such good fortune is yours, why, then, the best thing you
can do, is to go to the Italian opera, for the moonlit nights of this
country are as treacherous as its politics. They seem all calm and
peaceful; but they are rife with colds and ague. They are most
beautiful, but also most dangerous. Every Englishman will tell you as
much, and advise you to increase your stock of flannel in proportion to
the beauty of the night.

Most regular and reliable is a third medium for the lighting-up of
London--the gas. The sun and moon may be behind their time, but the gas
is always at its post. And in winter, it happens sometimes that it does
service all day long. Its only drawback is, that it cannot be had
gratis, like the light from the sun, moon, and stars; but the same
inconveniences attend the gas on the Continent, and after all, it is
cheaper in England than anywhere else. The Germans are mere tyros in the
consumption of gas. The stairs of every decent London house, have
generally quite as much light as a German shop, and the London shops
are more strongly lighted up than the German theatres. Butchers, and
such-like tradesmen, especially in the smaller streets, burn the gas
from one-inch tubes, that John Bull, in purchasing his piece of mutton
or beef, may see each vein, each sinew, and each lump of fat. The
smaller streets and the markets, are literally inundated with gaslight
especially on Saturday evenings. No city on the Continent offers such a
sight. In the apothecary's shops, the light is placed at the back of
gigantic glass bottles, filled with coloured liquid, so that from a
distance you see it in the most magnificent colour. The arrangement is
convenient for those who are in search of such a shop, and it gives the
long and broad streets of London a strange and picturesque appearance.

We have said so much of the climate, that it is high time to add a few
words about its results. What then are the effects of the London
winters, of the gloomy foggy days, the cold rainy nights, and of the
changeable English weather? The Continent knows those results partly
from hearsay. They manifest themselves in the character, in the ways,
the dress, and the social arrangements of the English.

The British isles rear a strong healthy race of men and women, beyond
any other country in Europe. The lower classes have muscles and sinews
which enable them to rival their cattle in feats of strength. The women
are stately and tall; the children full of rosy health. The middle
classes live better, though on an average less luxuriously than the
corresponding classes on the continent. Their food is strong and
nourishing; it is at once converted into flesh and blood. The British
farmers are specimens of human mammoths, however grievously they may
complain of their distress since the abolition of the duty on corn. The
nobility and gentry pass a considerable part of the year at their
country seats. They hunt, fish, and shoot, to the manifest advantage of
their health. The very children, mounted on shaggy ponies, take long
rides; so do the women, who even now and then follow the hounds. They go
out in yachts on the stormy channel and extend their excursions to the
coasts of Italy and the West Indian islands. But in despite of this mode
of life, which is conducive to health, they pay their tribute to the
moist atmosphere of their island, and they all--men, women, and
children--submit to pass their lives in flannel wrappers.

"We want," says Sir John, "to be independent of the changes of the
weather; and we isolate our bodies by means of suitable articles of
dress. We wear flannel, cottons, india-rubber, and gutta percha; we
drink cognac, port, stout; we eat strong meats with strong spices. We
never pretend that the climate is to suit us; we suit ourselves to the
climate. The Continentals act on a different principle, and say they
like the result. We like the result of our own principle, and that's the
reason why we stick to it."

Flannels in summer and in winter, in Glasgow and in Jamaica; this is one
of the ten commandments which few Englishmen care to transgress. But
their conservative tendencies which cause them to cling to the habits in
which they were reared, lead them into the absurdity of adhering to an
English mode of life even when fate or trade have flung them to the
furthermost corners of the earth. I understand that English
drawing-rooms at Gibraltar are as carefully carpeted as the
drawing-rooms of London and Edinburgh. The British drink their port and
sherry under the torrid zone; their porter and stout follow them to the
foot of the Himalaya. And they do all this, not because they cannot be
comfortable without their old habits; but because they protest and
devoutly believe, that in all the various climates the English mode of
living is most conducive to health.

The proper cultivation of the body is a matter of great importance in
England. A French labourer is happy with the most frugal dinner, if, in
the evening, he can but afford to take a place and laugh or weep at a
vaudeville theatre. The Englishman wants meat, good meat, and plenty of
it. The lower classes care little or nothing for "the feast of the
soul." John Bull laughs at the starvelings, the French frog-eaters. He
has no idea that the French _ouvrier_ is, after all, a more civilised
creature than he is, exactly because to the Frenchman his Sunday dinner
is not, as is the case with the lower classes of the English, the most
important part of the Sunday.

These material tendencies are, of course, fostered by education and
society. Originally they result from the climate. The frugality of the
Paris _ouvrier_ could not, for any length of time, resist the
stomach-inspiriting effect of a fresh sea-breeze.

"A beautiful morning, Sir." "A splendid day, Sir." Such-like phrases are
stereotyped formulas for the proper commencement of an acquaintanceship.
The English are so accustomed to these meteorological remarks, and these
remarks appear so important (because everybody and everything here
depends upon the weather), that they rarely, if ever, neglect making
them.

"Very pleasant weather, Sir;" or, "Very wet to-day," mutters the cabman
as he shuts the door upon you. The same remarks greet you from the lips
of the omnibus-driver as you take your seat at his side, or from those
of the shopwoman, as a preliminary to that awful "Any other article,
Sir?" And the words are always pronounced in that grave, monotonous,
business tone which is peculiar to the English even in treating of the
most important subjects. It may be sunshine or rain, the tone is always
the same. And it has been surmised, that the English residents on the
continent are such egregious bores and bears only because the greater
constancy of the weather deprives them of those magic formulas, without
which they cannot open their minds. How, indeed, is it possible to make
the acquaintance of any one unless there is rain, storm, fog, and
sunshine at least twice in the course of the four and twenty hours?



CHAP. IX.

The City Capitol.

     THE LORD MAYOR'S RETREAT.--THE NINTH OF NOVEMBER.--CITY
     PROCESSIONS.--"THE TIMES" AND THE CITY.--THE STOCK EXCHANGE.--A
     PIECE OF SELF-GOVERNMENT.--LLOYD'S.--RETURN TO SIR JOHN, AND SOME
     OF THE OPINIONS OF THAT WORTHY.


Our road to-day lies to the east. Seated on the roof of an omnibus, we
ride down the Strand, through Temple-bar and Fleet-street, and pass St.
Paul's. The road and the pavements are crowded in the extreme; the din
is deafening; but the shrill voices of the costermongers in the
side-streets are heard even above the thunders of the City.

We stop for one moment at the foot of Ludgate-hill, and look back. We
see part of Fleet-street, and as far as our eyes can reach, there is
nothing but a dark, confused, quickly-moving mass of men, horses, and
vehicles; not a yard of the pavement is to be seen--nothing but heads
along the rows of houses, and in the road, too, an ocean of heads, the
property of gentlemen on the roofs of omnibuses, which crowd the City
more than any other part of the town.

These are the streets whose excess of traffic makes the strongest
impression upon the stranger; and this part of London is moreover
specially dear to the historian. We, too, propose to take our time with
it and to walk through it leisurely. But to-day we are bound farther
eastward. We shall leave the omnibus at the further end of Cheapside.

In the heart of the City, less than half a mile from the Thames and
London-bridge, various streets meeting form an irregular open place.
This irregular place is one of the most remarkable spots in London. For
no other place, except that of Westminster, can vie with this in the
importance of its buildings and the crowding of its streets, though
many may surpass it in extent, beauty, and architectural regularity. It
is the Capitoline Forum of British Rome; it holds its temples, the
Mansion-house, the Exchange and the Bank. In the centre, the equestrian
statue of the saviour of the capitol--the Duke of Wellington. All round
are islands of pavements, as in other parts of the town, for the
foot-passengers to retire to from the maelstrom of vehicles.

At our right, just as we come out of Cheapside, is a house supported by
columns and surrounded with strong massive railings. Two flights of
stone steps lead to the upper story; massive stone pillars surrounded by
gas-lamps stand in a row in front of it, but neither the gas nor the
clearest noonday sun suffices to bring out the allegorical carvings
which ornament the roof. This is the Mansion-house; the official
residence of the Lord Mayor, who here holds his court, as if his was one
of the crowned heads.

Here he lives. Here are the halls in which the most luxurious dinners of
modern times are given; here are his offices and courts of justice,
according to the ancient rights and privileges of the City of London.

Every year the Lord Mayor elect enters upon the functions of his office
on the ninth of November. The City crowns its king with mediæval
ceremonies. The shops are shut at an early hour and many do not open at
all; for masters and servants must see the "show." For many hours the
City is closed against all vehicles; flags and streamers are hung out
from the houses; the pavement is covered with gravel; holiday faces
everywhere; amiable street-boys at every corner bearing flags; brass
bands and confusion and endless cheers! Such is the grave, demure, and
busy City on that remarkable day.

While the streets are every moment becoming more crowded and noisy, the
new Lord Mayor takes the customary oaths in the presence of the Court of
Aldermen, and signs a security to the amount of £4000 for the City
plate, which, according to a moderate computation, has a value of at
least £20,000.

This done, he is Lord and King of the City, and sets out upon his
coronation procession, surrounded by his lieges and accompanied by the
ex-Mayor, the Aldermen, Sheriffs, the dignitaries of his guild, the
city heralds, trumpeters, men in brass armour, and other thrones,
principalities, and powers. The road which the Lord Mayor is to take is
not prescribed by law; but according to an old custom, the procession
must pass through that particular ward in which the King of the City
acted as Alderman. The ward participates in the triumph of the day; and
the cheers in that particular locality are, if possible, louder than any
where else.

The procession turns next to the banks of the Thames. The Lord Mayor,
according to time-honored custom, must take a trip in a gondola from one
of the City bridges to Westminster. Fair weather or foul, take the water
he must; and the broad river presents a spectacle on such occasions as
is never seen in any town of Europe, since the Venetian Doges and their
nuptials with the Adriatic have become matter for history.

Splendid gondolas richly gilt, glass-covered, and bedecked with a
variety of flags and streamers, bear the Lord Mayor and his suite.
Previous to starting, a supply of water is taken on board--thus hath
custom willed it. The Lord Mayor's gondola is either rowed by his own
bargemen, or it is taken in tow by a steam-tug. And round the gondolas
there are boats innumerable with brass bands; and the bridges and the
river banks are covered with spectators, and the river is more full of
life, gladness, and colour, than on any other day of the year.

The trip to Westminster is short; it is, however, long enough for the
company to take a copious _dejeuner à la fourchette_ in the saloon of
the City barge. This breakfast is a kind of introduction to the grand
world-famed dinner, with which the Lord Mayor inaugurates his advent to
power. The dinner is the most important part of the business, as,
indeed, the giving and eating of dinners forms one of the chief
functions of the City corporations. So, at least, says _Punch_, and so
says the _Times_.

The Lord Mayor and his suite land at Westminster Bridge. In Westminster
he repairs to the Court of Exchequer, where he is introduced to the
Judges. He takes another oath; and to clinch that oath, and show that he
means to be worthy of his office and of the City of London, he
commissions the Recorder to invite the Judges to dinner. This invitation
is delivered in quite as solemn a tone as the oath, and the oath is
taken in the same business-like manner in which the invitation is given.
A foreigner would be at a loss to know which of the two is the most
solemn and important.

These ceremonies over, the procession returns the way it came, and lands
at Blackfriars Bridge. Thenceforward it increases in splendour and
magnificence. The fairer portion of humanity join it in their state
coaches--the Lady Mayoress, the Aldermen's and Sheriffs' wives; and
after them come Royal Princes, Ministers of State, the Judges of the
land, and the Foreign Ambassadors. The procession over, they all sit
down to dinner. What they eat, how they eat it, and how much they eat,
is on the following morning duly chronicled in the journals. The number
and quality of the courses will at once enable an experienced city-man
to come to a pretty correct conclusion as to the Lord Mayor's virtues or
vices. Meats rich and rare count as so many merits; but a couple of low
and vulgar dishes would at once turn public opinion in the City against
the City's chosen prince. The Lord Mayor's reputation emanates from the
kitchen and the larder, exactly as a great diplomatist's renown may
frequently be traced to the desk of some private secretary.

The Lady Mayoress shares all the honours which are showered upon her
worthy husband; she is a genuine "lady" for a whole twelvemonth, and
perhaps for life, if her husband has the good luck to be honoured with a
visit from the Queen, on which occasion it is customary for the Lord
Mayor to be made a baronet, while a couple of Aldermen, at least, come
in for the honours of knighthood. But if the Queen does not visit the
City, the Lord Mayor descends at the end of the year to his former
position. For three hundred and sixty-five days he is a "Lord," and his
wife is a "Lady"; he goes to Court, and is on terms of good fellowship
with royal princes, gartered dukes, and belted earls; and he has the
high honour and privilege of feasting the Corporation. His year of
office over, he quits the Mansion House, returns to his shop and apron,
and is the same quiet and humble citizen he was before.

Of course the shop and apron we have mentioned in jest only. A man who
can aspire to the dignity of the mayoralty has long ceased to be a
tradesman; he is a merchant prince, a banker, a _millionaire_. How else
could he afford the luxury of that expensive dignity, especially since
he cannot but neglect his business whilst he is in office.

The Lord Mayor's pay from the City amounts to £8000, but his expenses
are enormous. Woe to him if he be careful of his money, if his dinners
are few and far between, or his horses and carriages less splendid than
those of his predecessors! Such enormities expose him to the contempt of
the grandees of the City. The Common Councilmen shrug their shoulders,
and the Aldermen declare that they were mistaken in him. The outraged
feelings of the City pursue him even after his return to private life.

He is in duty bound to spend the eight thousand pounds he receives from
the City; it is highly meritorious in him if he spends more. Bright is
his place in the annals of the City, if he feasts its sons at the
expense of double the amount of his official income!

There is much aristocratic pride and civic haughtiness in this city
royalty. It rests on a broad historical basis; and it was strongest with
regard to royalty at Whitehall, whenever the latter had to apply to the
wealthy city corporations for relief in its financial troubles. But it
was also a firm bulwark against the encroachments of the kings of
England of former days, supported as they were by venal judges and
parliaments; and it deserves the respect of the English as an historical
relic. Its merits lie in the past; for at present English liberty needs
not the protection of a City king.

The prerogatives of the city of London have, of late years, become the
subject of a violent agitation. That agitation was commenced by "The
Times," on the occasion of the great exhibition. "The Times" holds that
it is unreasonable that the city--at the present day a mere function of
London--should continue to play the part of the sovereign; that the Lord
Mayor speaking in the name of London, should invite the Queen; that,
conducting himself as representative of the metropolis, he should be
feasted by the Prefect of the _Seine_, and kissed by Mons. Cartier. What
right has the City to such honours, now that London has long since
engulphed it? Where are the merits of the City? What does the Lord
Mayor? What do the Aldermen? Nothing--unless it be that they eat turtle
soup, and _patés de foie gras_? Is obesity a title to honours?

Thus says "The Times," with great justice, but with very little
tenderness. No Englishman who knows anything of the history of his
country, will deny that in evil days the City became a champion of
liberty against the kings at Whitehall; that the Lord Mayors protected
the press, and sheltered the printers from the violence of the
government; that on such occasions the City had many a hot contest with
the parliaments, and that, to this day, the city members belong to the
liberal party. But liberal principles might be adhered to even without
the Lord Mayor and his Lucullian dinners. And, as for the City's former
services, it ought to be remembered, that there is a vast difference
between living institutions and stone monuments. Old towers and castles,
which at one time did good service against a foreign enemy, have, so to
say, a vested right to the place in which they stand; it were wrong to
pull them down merely because they are now useless. But far different is
the case with living institutions that jar with the tendencies of the
century. To wait for their gradual decay were a suicidal act in a
nation.

A great many of the institutions of the City ought to be consigned to
mediæval curiosity shops. They were, certainly, very useful in their
day, when they had a purpose and a meaning; but so was the old German
"Heerbann;" so were the guilds; and so was superstition. It were mere
madness to spare them in consideration of past services. They must fall,
sooner or later; and the sculptors and historians of England will take
good care that the former merits of the City shall not be lost in
oblivion.

Up to the present time, the agitation against the arrogance of the city
corporations has been confined to the press; to the "Times" belongs the
merit of having commenced that agitation. The Londoners have as yet
taken no active part in it; and this is another proof of the
conservative tendencies which are incarnate in the great mass of the
English nation. There is in this conservatism a narrow-mindedness which
is the more striking as, in the affairs of practical life, the
Anglo-British race can, least of all, be accused of a want of common
sense.

In despite of this innate conservatism, the masses are gradually awaking
to political consciousness. Formerly it was considered a matter of
course, that wealthy persons only were elected to serve in Parliament;
or that rich traders only would aspire to the mayoralty, or the dignity
of an alderman. Reforms are impending. What will come of them depends
partly on the leaders of the movement; on the degree of resistance which
the government of the day may oppose to them; and, partly, though the
English are loth to admit it, on the course of events on the continent
of Europe.

Perhaps we shall resume the question on another occasion. Just now we
are in the capitoline market of the city. We leave the Mansion-house,
and turn to the other temples which grace the spot.

Opposite to the Mansion-house, is the Royal Exchange; a vast detached
building of an imposing aspect. The English are not, generally, famous
for their style of architecture; the antique columns, though great
favourites, puzzle them sorely. They put them exactly where they are not
wanted; and, in many of their public buildings the columns, instead of
supporting the structure, are themselves supported by some architectural
contrivance. The modern buildings suffer, moreover, from a striking
uniformity; they have all the same columned fronts, which we see at the
Mansion-house, the Exchange, and several of the theatres. It is always
the same pattern, exactly as if those buildings had come out of some
Birmingham factory.

This monotony in the style of public buildings would be altogether
unbearable, but for the climate. The smoky and foggy atmosphere of
London indemnifies us for the want of original ideas in the architects.
It gives the London buildings a venerable, antique colouring. The
Exchange, for instance, has the appearance of having weathered the
storms of a hundred winters, while, in fact, it is quite a new building.
Still, it is quite as black and sooty as Westminster Abbey, or Somerset
House; and yet it is not even nine years old. The old Exchange was burnt
down in 1838; it required six years to complete the new building, which
was opened in October, 1844, with much solemnity.

Up to the reign of Elizabeth, the London merchants had no Exchange
building; they transacted business in the open air, in Lombard Street,
in St. Paul's Church-yard, and sometimes even _in_ St. Paul's; for this
cathedral was, at the time we speak of, the great centre of business,
fashion, and prostitution. Sir Thomas Gresham, who had frequently acted
as the Queen's agent on the Continent, offered to construct an Exchange
building, provided the city would grant him the ground to build it on.
His proposal was accepted; a piece of ground was bought for £3,737
6_d._, and the first stone was laid on the 7th June, 1565. At the end of
the following year, the building was completed; and to judge from the
sketches which still remain, it was designed in imitation of the Antwerp
Exchange.

The virgin Queen expressed her high satisfaction with the undertaking
most royally, by dining with Sir Thomas Gresham, and bestowing on the
building the title of "Royal Exchange." When Sir Thomas, at a later
period, was compelled to depart this world, he bequeathed his Exchange
to the City, and founded the Gresham College, of which, at the present
day, nothing remains but the Gresham Lectures, which are generally, and
justly, classed among the city jobs, whose name is Legion.

Gresham's Exchange, with its profuse display of grasshoppers--the
founder's crest--fell a sacrifice to the great fire in 1666. So attached
had the city merchants become to their new temple of Plutus, that they
restored it in preference even to their churches; and, two years after
the great fire the New Exchange was completed and solemnly opened by
Charles II. Gresham's bust, which had been saved out of the
conflagration, was placed in a niche of honor, and a cast brass
grasshopper, the last of its numerous family, was raised to the top of
the steeple, on which bad eminence it had to stand all weathers, until,
relieved by another conflagration in 1838, it has been allowed to find a
retreat on the eastern front of the present Exchange building.

Times have altered since the days of Old Gresham, the site of whose
Exchange cost less than £4,000, while the present building comes to
£150,000, exclusive of the cost of the ground. In his time, grave and
sober citizens had mustachios and imperials; and wild young fellows,
bent upon mischief and dissipation, repaired to the taverns of the city.
In our days everybody is smooth shaved, and there is a chapel in every
corner. Formerly the merchants relied on their own understanding and the
honesty of their high-born debtors; at present they have no confidence
either in the former or the latter: and out of the fulness of their
godly despair, they have engraved in front of their Exchange building
the motto of the city--_Domine dirige nos_--Direct us, O Lord, and
reveal unto us the time and the hour at which consols and shares should
be bought and sold!

The Exchange, as we have said, is a splendid building; but professional
architects will shrug their shoulders when they look at it in the
detail. Why all those corners on the eastern side, and why those small
narrow shops? It is wrong to condemn anybody or anything on mere _primâ
facie_ evidence. The architect who designed the Exchange had similar
though greater difficulties to contend with, than Paxton in the
construction of the Exhibition Building in Hyde Park. Paxton's great
antagonist was Colonel Sibthorp, an honourable and gallant member of the
House of Commons, who would not consent to sacrifice the trees which
adorned the site of the building. "Make what fuss you like about your
modern ideas of industry," said the chivalric Don Quixote, "but you
shall not touch the trees; they are worth all your industry, and all
your foreign nicknacks, and free-trade and nonsense, and, indeed,
anything that ever came from Manchester." And what said Paxton? Why, he
said, "Let the old trees stand, we will roof them over!" and he built
his glass house one hundred feet higher in the middle, and thus made the
transept. And there was room for everything and everybody--men and
merchandize, stray children and lost petticoats, bad coffee, clever
pickpockets from England, France, and Germany--and, sometimes, for the
rain, too, when the weather was very bad, and we here sought shelter.
But Colonel Sibthorp never crossed the threshold. Mr. Tite, the
architect who made the plans for the New Exchange, had to contend with a
legion of small conservative Sibthorpes, with a large number of
shopkeepers who held places in the Old Exchange, and who insisted on
having their shops in the new one. They could not be dispossessed; and
in some manner or other it was necessary to sacrifice the beauty of the
building to the claims of the vested interests. A great many people
cannot understand why there is no covered hall for the accommodation of
the merchants on Change, and why they must carry on their business
either in the open court or in the arcade which surrounds it. The London
climate is certainly not made for open-air amusements or occupations;
and an Englishman, though with a threefold encasement of flannel, stands
in great awe of draughts and rheumatism.

Nevertheless, the English merchant is condemned, in the fogs of winter
and the rains of autumn, to brave the climate in an open yard, and to
stake his health and his fortune on the chances of the season and the
turn of the market. The reason is, that Englishmen are as much afraid of
close rooms as of rheumatism and colds; and the Gresham Committee, which
superintended the construction of the New Exchange, decided in favor of
unlimited ventilation. Certain branches of business, which in many
respects are much more extensive than the speculations in stocks and
shares, have for a long time past been carried on in certain saloons. In
the Exchange building itself there is a broad staircase, with crowds of
busy people ascending and descending, and there is a door with large
gold letters, "Lloyd's Coffee House." Let us ascend that staircase, and
see what sort of a coffee-house this is. We pass through a large hall,
from which doors open to several rooms; at each door stands a porter in
scarlet livery. In the hall itself are several marble statues and a
large marble tablet, which the merchants of London erected to the
_Times_, out of gratitude for the successful labours of that journal in
unmasking a gigantic scheme of imposition and fraud, which threatened
ruin to the whole trade of London. In the centre of the hall there is a
large black board, on which are written the names and destinations of
all the ships carrying mails which will sail from English ports on that
and the following day. In the corner to the right there is a door with
the inscription, "Captains' Room." No one is allowed to enter this room
but the commanders of merchant vessels, or those who have business to
transact with them. Next to it is the "Commercial Room," the meeting
place of all the foreign merchants who come to London. We prefer
entering a saloon on the other side of the hall, the doors of which are
continually opening and shutting; it is crowded with the underwriters,
that is to say, with capitalists, who do business in the assurance of
vessels and their freights. The telegraphic messages of vessels arrived,
sailed, stranded, or lost, are first brought into this room. Whoever
enters by this door walks, in the first instance, to a large folio
volume which lies on a desk of its own. It is Lloyd's Journal,
containing short entries of the latest events in English ports and the
sea ports in every other part of the world. It tells the underwriters
whether the vessels which they have insured have sailed, whether they
have been spoken with, or have reached the port of their destination.
Are they over-due?--run a-ground?--wrecked?--lost?

In this room there are always millions at stake. So firmly established
is the reputation of this institution, that there is hardly ever a
barque sailing from the ports of the Baltic, or the French, Spanish, or
Indian seas which is not insured at Lloyd's. Its branch establishments
are in all the commercial ports of the world; but its head-office is in
Cornhill, and in the rooms of the Exchange. Before we again descend the
stairs, let us for one moment enter the reading-room. Perfect silence;
tables, chairs, desks; readers here and there; men of all countries and
of all nations; all round the walls, high desks with files of
newspapers, whose shape and colour indicate that they have not been
printed in Europe; they are, indeed, papers from the other side of the
ocean--China, Barbary, Brazilian, Australian, Cape, and Honolulu
papers--a collection unrivalled in extent, though less orderly than the
collections of the Trieste Lloyd's and the Hamburg Börsen-halle. It is
here that the stranger from the German continent first receives an
adequate idea of the enormous extent of commercial journalism. How far
different is this reading-room from anything we see at home? How
extensive must be the communications of a nation to which such journals
are a necessity! How small does German commerce look in comparison with
this! When we were at school, we were told that commerce was a means of
communication between the various parts of the world; that merchants
are the messengers of progressive civilisation; and that to be a good
merchant a man ought to be well read in geography, history, politics,
and a great many other sciences. And then we saw our neighbour, the
grocer and tallow-chandler, weighing and making up sugar in paper
parcels all the year round. He knew nothing whatever of geography,
history, or politics; but for all that, he was a wealthy man and a great
person in the town, and everybody said he was the pattern of a good
merchant. We could not understand this. At a later period, when we lived
in a German metropolis, we saw other great merchants, bankers, and
manufacturers. They did not make up paper parcels as the grocer and
tallow-chandler did; they were dressed with a certain elegance; they
read newspapers, and were fond of discussing the events of the day. But
many of them had not the least idea of the politics which they
discussed, and on which they founded their speculations; they had
forgotten whatever they had learnt of geography, commercial topography,
and history; and nevertheless they passed as capital men of business and
accomplished merchants. Our romantic ideas of the requirements, the
influences, and the radiations of the commerce of the world received
again a rude shock; but now, suddenly, as accident leads us into Lloyd's
reading-room, the old impressions come back again. Thus, after all, the
lessons of our school-days were not untrue! These, then, are the
messengers of commerce which promote the exchange of civilisation
between the continents and islands of the world. Neither sciences nor
religions are powerful enough to found those organs. They owe their
existence solely to commerce: possibly they may be means to an end; but
it is also an undoubted fact that they exert a vast influence on the
peaceful progress of civilisation.

Of the 50,000,000 lbs. of tea which are sold in the east of London, a
handful has found its way to the West, to Guildford-street. It lies in
the bottom of the venerable silver family tea-pot; and this tea-pot
stands on the table of the parlour, to which the reader has been
introduced on former occasions. The mistress of the house is passing in
review her two lines of cups and saucers, headed by the milk-jug and
sugar-basin. Mrs. Bella reads _Punch_, and smiles, not at the jokes,
but because she is happy that English liberty admits of such jokes. The
two younger daughters of the house occupy one chair between them, where
they read "David Copperfield," and two very small grandchildren of Sir
John perform a polka in the further corner of the room. Sir John
himself, as usual, is reading the _Times_, and just now he wags his head
very impressively, because he has been reading Gladstone's letter about
the affairs of Naples. Sir John, though perfectly convinced of Dr.
Keif's honesty and good faith, has never at any time given full credit
to his statements when that gentleman presumed to hint that the
administration of criminal justice in Italy is not altogether so
unexceptionable as that at the Old Bailey. But now, since Mr. Gladstone
corroborates Dr. Keif's statement in that respect--Mr. Gladstone, who is
a native of England, a very respectable man, and a conservative to his
nethermost coating of flannel--now indeed Sir John is of opinion that
the Neapolitans have, after all, good cause for complaint.

We have returned from our excursion into the city, and reenter the
comfortable parlour, shake hands all round, and sit down by the
tea-table. Sir John has smuggled the _Times_ under his chair, lest the
Doctor should at once have a weapon to attack him with. He asks where we
have been; and when we tell him, he leans his head back, purses up his
mouth, shuts his eyes, and says "Well?" This "Well" of Sir John's,
accompanied by that peculiar movement of the head, means, if translated
into common language, "Well, what do you say to London? Mere nothing,
isn't it?--A business in Mincing-lane, a mere trifle?--merely a piece of
Leipsic or Frankfort--never mind--patience--you'll see what London is.
You'll open your eyes by and bye! Only think what enormous sums are
turned over at Lloyd's every year!"

Sir John is altogether victorious to-day. We cannot meet him on this
ground. In vain does Dr. Keif attempt to demonstrate that there is no
reason why Germany should not become as wealthy and mighty as England,
if she had only a little more union, a little less government, an idea
or so more of a fleet, fewer custom-houses, a little more money and less
soldiery. Sir John admits every one of Dr. Keif's propositions; but his
30,000,000 lbs. of coffee, and his 50,000,000 lbs. of tea, and his
20,000,000 lbs. of tobacco, are great facts, and stubborn facts, against
which nothing can be said. Germany may be better off a couple of hundred
years hence. Of course it may, there is no reason why it should not; but
it is very badly off now, and that is a fact, too. And Sir John launches
forth into a long and elaborate lecture on insurance companies,
premiums, percentages, capital, bonuses, and dividends, intermixed with
certain allusions to the impractical and improvident habits of the
Germans, and the uselessness generally of all the German professors. The
last word, pronounced with a certain emphasis, rouses Dr. Keif from the
sleep into which Sir John's statistical and economical expositions had
lulled him.

"Long life to all our German professors!" said Dr. Keif, rubbing his
eyes. "50,000,000 lbs. of tea in Mincing-lane, and not a drop in my cup.
Where's the greatness of England, Sir John?--Good night."



CHAP. X.

Hyde Park.

     PILGRIMAGE TO THE FAR WEST.--OXFORD-STREET.--HYDE-PARK IN THE
     SEASON.--ROTTEN ROW.--THE DUKE AND THE QUEEN.--THE FRONT OF THE
     CRYSTAL PALACE.--DR. KEIF ENTERS, MAKES A SPEECH ON BRITISH
     LOYALTY, AND EXIT.--THE IRON SHUTTERS OF APSLEY-HOUSE.--THE BRITISH
     GENERAL AND THE RIOTERS.


Hitherto our excursions have been confined to the east; but now we
propose leaving Russell and Bedford Squares and the British Museum to
the right, and Covent-garden and all its theatres to the left, to direct
our pilgrimage through Oxford-street to the West. Oxford-street holds
the medium between the city streets and the West-end streets. Its public
is mixed; goods, waggons, and private carriages, omnibuses, and men and
women on horseback, men of business, fashionable loungers, and curious
strangers, are mixed up; shops of all sorts, from the most elegant
drapers' shops down to the lowest oyster-stall, may be found in it; and
there are, moreover, legions of costermongers, and shoals of advertising
vans. Oxford-street is long and broad enough to take in the population
of a small town. It changes its character several times, according to
the greater or less elegance of the quarter through which it runs. After
we have walked a good half-hour in a straight line, and in the present
instance we have walked very fast, looking neither to the right nor to
the left, we reach a part where the row of houses on the left side
terminates, and Hyde Park commences. Here there is a high arch of white
marble, which every body admires, and a small stone, which no one
notices, because it stands near the pump from which the cabmen fetch
water for their horses; an inscription on this stone tells us, that here
is the site of the famous Tyburn Turnpike. The arch, a curtailed
imitation of the triumphal arch of Constantine, cost George IV. £60,000,
and stood in front of Buckingham-palace. A few months ago, it was
removed to Hyde Park, where it now stands in all its marble glory. Does
it perform the functions of a gate? No! because there is no wall. Is it
a triumphal-arch? Perhaps so, to commemorate the bad taste of its
founder. At all events, it promotes the interests of unity, for on the
opposite side of Hyde Park there has been these many years past a
similar gate, which opens a way through nothing, and there is a
triumphal arch in the face of it, which trumpets forth the good taste of
_Punch_, whose paternal exhortations could not prevent the Duke of
Wellington from being placed on that perilous height.

The English are in many respects like our own good honest peasants. So
long as the latter keep to their ploughs, they are most amiable and
respectable; but if you find them in town, and induce them to put on
fashionable clothes, you may rely on it that thus affected they will
give you plenty of kicks. Let an Englishman make a park, and his
production will be admirable; but if you wish for an entrance into a
park, you had better not apply to him. Fortunately Hyde Park is much
larger than its two splendid portals. There is plenty of room to lose
them from your sight; and there are a great many agreeable scenes which
will banish them from your memory. Passing through the Marble-arch to
those regions where the Exhibition building stands, we cross a meadow
large enough to induce us to believe that we are far away from London.
In the west, the ground rises in gentle hills with picturesque groups of
trees on their summits and in the valleys; here and there an old tufted
oak, with its gnarled branches boldly stretched out; the grass is fresh
and green, though all the passengers walk on it. It is green up to the
very trunks of the trees, whose shade is generally injurious to
vegetation; it is green throughout the winter and through the summer
months, though there is not a drop of rain for many weeks, for the mild
and moist atmosphere nourishes it and favours the growth of ivy which
clusters round any tree too old to resist its approaches. Thus does Hyde
Park extend far to the west and the south, until it finds its limits in
bricks and mortar. A slight blue mist hangs on the distant trees; and
through the mist down in the south there are church towers looming in
the far distance like the battlements of turretted castles in the midst
of romantic forests. The trees recede; a small lake comes in view, it is
an artificial extension of the Serpentine, which has the honor of seeing
the elegance of London riding and driving on its banks. Early in the
morning the lake is plebeian. The children of the neighbourhood swim
their boats on it; apprentices on their way to work make desperate casts
for some half-starved gudgeon; the ducks come forward in dirty morning
wrappers. Nursery-maids with babies innumerable take walks by order; and
at a very early hour a great many plebeians have the impertinence to
bathe in the little lake. But to-day the park and the river are in true
aristocratic splendour; here and there, there is indeed some stray
nursery-maid walking on the grass, and some little tub of a boat with a
ragged sail floating on the lake; there is also a group of anglers
demonstrating to one another with great patience that the fish wont bite
to-day, but all along the banks of the river far down to the end of the
park and up to the majestic shades of Kensington gardens there is an
interminable throng of horses and carriages. Those who have seen the
Prater of Vienna in the first weeks of May will be rather disappointed
with the aspect of the drive in Hyde Park, where the upper classes of
London congregate in the evening between five and seven o'clock, partly
to take the air, and partly because it is considered fashionable to see
now and then in order to be seen. Extravagant turn-outs and liveries,
such as the Viennese produce with great ostentation, are not to be found
in London. The English aristocracy like to make an impression by the
simplicity and solidity of their appearance; and the metropolis is the
last of all places where they would wish to excite attention by a
dashing and extravagant exterior. They have not the least desire either
to dazzle or to awe the tradespeople or to make them envious. They are
too sure of their position to be tempted to advertise it: whoever wants
this assurance cannot pretend to belong to the aristocracy. By far more
interesting, and indeed unrivalled, is Rotten-row, the long broad road
for horsemen, where, on fine summer evenings, all the youth, beauty,
celebrity, and wealth of London may be seen on horse-back.

Hundreds of equestrians, ladies and gentlemen, gallop to and fro. How
fresh and rosy these English girls are! How firmly they sit! What
splendid forms and expressive features! Free, fresh, bold, and natural.
The blue veil flutters, and so does the riding-habit; a word to the
horse and movement of the bridle, and they gallop on, nodding to friends
to the right and left, the happiness of youth expressed in face and
form, and no idea, no thought, for the thousand sorrows of this earth. A
man of a harmless and merry mind may pass a happy summer's evening in
looking at this the most splendid of all female cavalcades; but he who
has become conscious of those all-pervading sufferings of humanity
which, felt through thousands of years, denied through thousands of
years, and asserted only within the last few years by the millions of
our earth--he who has pressed this thorny knowledge of the world to his
heart, let him avoid this spot of happiness-breathing splendour, lest
the thorns wound him more severely still. Then comes an old man, with
his horse walking at a slow pace, his low hat pushed back that the white
hair on his temples may have the benefit of the breeze. His head bent
forward, the bridle dangling in a hand weak with age, the splendour of
the eyes half-dimmed, his cheeks sunken, wrinkles round his mouth and on
his forehead, his aquiline nose bony and protruding; who does not know
him? His horse walks gently on the sand; every one takes off his hat;
the young horse-women get out of his way; and the Duke smiles to the
right and to the left. Few persons can boast of so happy a youth as this
old man's age. He turns round the corner; the long broad row becomes
still more crowded; large groups of ten or twenty move up and down; fast
riding is quite out of the question, when all of a sudden a couple come
forward at a quick pace. There is room for them and their horses in the
midst of Rotten-row, however full it may be, for every one is eager to
make way for them: it is the Queen and her husband, without martial pomp
and splendour, without a single naked sword within sight. The crowd
closes in behind her; the young women appear excited; the old men smile
with great glee at seeing their Queen in such good health. Dandies in
marvellous trowsers, incredible waistcoats, and stunning ties, put up
their glasses; the anglers on the lake crowd to one side in order to see
the Queen; the nurserymaids, the babies, and the boys with their hoops
come up to the railings; the grass plots, where just now large groups of
people sat chatting, are left vacant, and the shades of the evening are
over the park. The sun is going down behind the trees; its parting rays
rest on the Crystal Palace with a purple and golden glare, whose
reflection falls on Rotten-row and its horsemen.

In a very short time this spot will be empty.

But all hail to thee, Colossus of glass! thou most moral production of
these latter days; iron-ribbed, many-eyed, with thy many-coloured flags,
which would make believe that all the nations are united by the bonds of
brotherhood; and that peace, universal peace, shall henceforth reign
among the sons of men.

The flags flutter gaily through the cool of the evening. There the
Prussian colours are all but entwined with those of Austria. Here the
Papal States touch upon Sardinia. And down there! _O sancta
Simplicitas!_ the Russian eagle stretches his wings, and flutters as if
impelled by a desire to fraternise with the stars and stripes of North
America!

Our enthusiasm is cooled down by a loud laugh and a shrill voice, which
hails us from a distance. It is Dr. Keif who indulges, and not for the
first time either, in the questionable amusement of mimicking the mode
and manner of speech of a distinguished member of the great Sclavonian
family.

"By St. Nicolas!" said the Doctor; "why, you Chop-fallen, look out! Look
you at flags, Silly, to find colours your own black, red, gold?
Blockheads! Croat is brother likewise; and Czech himself speaks quite
good German, ours, when likes, and Emperor permits. Magyar have shall
German blows and Italian likewise. Piff! Paff! shot through heart by
command German! Is now everything good German, all, Welchland, Poland,
and Serbonia likewise, as they would at Frankfort have it! Capital times
these!"

"But, my dear Doctor, you are in capital spirits to-night. Some
intrigue, eh! Indeed, you look quite smart! Green coat, waistcoat, and
cravat, and dirty boots. Why you are dressed after the image of a
Russian cavalier. Did you happen to see the Queen, and has that sight
made you so very loyal!"

"A truce to all logic!" cried the Doctor; "And don't make any bad jokes
about the Queen, if you love me. I respect her; on my soul, I do! But
since you _will_ talk of the Queen, I will tell you of the first of May,
the day Her Majesty opened this place! You must have read, when it once
became known, that the Lady Victoria in her own little person intended
to open that great Exhibition, that a rush was made on the season
tickets, expensive though they were. The Wicked on the continent smiled
at this 'pedantic, antiquated, and unseasonable loyalty of the British
people.' These were the very words the miscreants printed in their
papers. I trust they won't do so again, and I protest against such
language. I am free to confess there is much childish harmlessness and
practical calculation in this same loyalty. But if it were innate in the
English as some ninnies have had the simplicity to believe--if it were a
gift of nature, such as fine eyes, or a humped back, or a free native
country--then I say, it would be void of all moral meaning. But it is
not the result of thoughtless stupidity; for the Anglo Saxon race is not
by any means a race of idiots. And the history of England shews that
this British loyalty is not the creature of habit and education; nor is
it perpetuated by climatic causes, as Cretinism is in Styria. English
loyalty is the expression of conscious respect for the principles of
monarchy, when worthily represented. Queen Victoria has neither the
energy of Catharine of Russia, nor has she the genius of Maria Theresa.
But in her principles of government she has always been just to the
voice of the majority. She is a constitutional Queen, such as the Queen
of England should be. Let no man tell me that she _must_ be so; that she
_cannot_ be otherwise even if she _would_. She cannot, indeed, send her
ministers and the members of the opposition to Botany Bay; nor can she
stifle the radical press, or overthrow the constitution as others did in
other places. But a Queen, who may select her ministers, dissolve the
parliament, and create peers, has a deal of power to do evil. English
royalty is not altogether such a farce as the Germans generally believe.
That Queen Victoria uses her power for good is her merit; and, because
she does so, her's is the most fortunate head of all the heads whom fate
has burdened with a golden crown. She is worshipped, adored, and
idolised, by millions, who think it the greatest happiness to look at
her face. I wish you had been here on that memorable first of May! I
wish you had seen this park and the people--and well-dressed people
too--thronging Rotten Row to see the Queen go by. The park was literally
black with them. You saw nothing but heads to the very tree-tops. They
risked their lives for the Queen, for all the world as if they were the
most accomplished of courtiers. The whole of the public were mad,
excepting myself and her Majesty."

"My dear Doctor, what a splendid opportunity for you to make a
revolutionary speech to so large an assembly."

"Yes, indeed!" said the Doctor. "A capital opening for a martyr to the
cause. How quickly the populace would have torn me to pieces! But, in
sober seriousness, I am not the man I used to be. On this island you
doff the revolutionary garment, as snakes do their enamelled skin. When
fresh from Germany, I was red and shaggy, as Esau of old; for on the
other side of the Channel, affairs were really too lamentable and
disgraceful. But, after my first four weeks among these smooth-shaved
and really-constitutionally-governed barbarians, I, too, became smooth
and mannerly, as Jacob the Patriarch. Another year will make me a
constitutional monarchist, and a score of years or so will convert me
into an absolutist of Montalembert's stamp. Isn't it disgusting! This
impertinently, carefully-observed constitution of the English tears my
republican toga into shreds, as day follows day. Only think," continued
the Doctor, "of addressing revolutionary observations to these contented
Englishmen! It's the most insane idea that I ever heard of! Are
revolutions to be stamped out of the soil? Can they thrive without
sunlight and rain, without provocation from the higher regions? The mob
of our stamp have never yet made a revolution: kings make them. Of
course they know not what they do."

There is no stopping the Doctor when he once begins to speak. In his
conversations with his German friends, he is eloquent on the merits of
England; but at Sir John's tea-table he fights tooth and nail for his
beloved Germany. Quite a psychological phenomenon, which may be observed
in the majority of the better class of German residents in England.

We walk slowly forward, and leave the park by the gate at Hyde Park
Corner. The roads are now empty, for wealth and fashion have gone home
to their dinners; and the hackney-coaches and omnibuses are not
permitted to enter the sacred precincts. Enormous crowds of these
excluded plebeian vehicles are collected at the gate, and move about
wildly, to the manifest danger of all those who wish to cross the road.
And high above the tumultuous movement and the crowd stands the
equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington, almost opposite to Apsley
House, in which the great warrior lived at the time this chapter was
penned by the author.

It has rarely been the lot of a man so frequently to witness his own
apotheosis as the Duke of Wellington; and yet how gloomy looks Apsley
House on the fresh green borders of the park. The windows, shut up from
year's end to year's end, and protected by bullet-proof shutters of
massive iron--the very railings in front of the house boarded up, to
exclude the curiosity of the passers-by--all owing to the riots which
preceded the passing of the Reform Bill--riots in which the castles of
the Tories were burnt down in the provinces, while in the metropolis the
populace threatened the life of the greatest captain of the age.

Of course the Reform Bill would have been passed, even without riots and
incendiarism. But it is not fair in Englishmen utterly to forget the
bloody scenes which even in late years have been enacting in their own
country, while anything like a riot on the Continent induces them to
protest, "that those people are not fit for liberty." Nor is it fair in
a large party on the Continent, who are always referring to the
moderation and good sense of Englishmen, utterly to forget the scenes of
blood and destruction which ushered in the Reform Bill.

But what did a British Government do in those days of passion and
terror? Did they at once declare that the British people were unfit for
liberal institutions, merely because the violence of the catastrophe
gave a temporary ascendancy to a couple of thousands of hot-headed
mad-caps? Did they proclaim the state of siege? Did they fetter the
press? Did they invade and search the houses of the citizens? Were
Englishmen tried by courts-martial? Were punishments inflicted for
political opinions and thoughts? Did malice go hand in hand with the
administration of justice? Nothing of the kind! The incendiaries were
arrested wherever they could be caught; but no one on either side of the
Channel ever thought of saying, that the British nation was not ripe for
freedom!

And what was the Duke of Wellington's conduct when the mob assailed
Apsley House? A continental general would have run away, or he would
have led an army against the rioters. The Duke barricaded his house to
the best of his ability. The old soldier stood up to defend his house
and his person. He, the Field Marshal of all European countries, the
Warden of the Cinque Ports, the Commander-in-Chief of the British army,
he did _not_ issue his orders for the drums to beat, and his soldiers
did _not_ fire upon the misguided populace. But when the storm was over,
he had bullet-proof shutters made to his windows, and those shutters he
kept closed, that the people should never forget their _brutal_ attack
upon the old lion. Well done, man of Waterloo! He has since risen in the
estimation of the public; but, as I said before, most Englishmen, in
judging of the affairs of the Continent, give not one passing thought to
the bullet-proof shutters of Apsley House.



CHAP. XI.

The Quarters of Fashion.

     THE BEAUTIES OF NATURE.--FASHIONABLE QUARTERS.--LONDON IN
     1752.--ST. JAMES'S PALACE.--PAST AND PRESENT.--PALL MALL.--THE LAND
     OF CLUBS.--MRS. GRUNDY ON THE CLUBS.--ST. JAMES'S PARK.--BUCKINGHAM
     PALACE.--WATERLOO PLACE.--TRAFALGAR-SQUARE.


There is scarcely a nation so fond of green trees and green meadow-land
as the English. They adore the splendid trees of their parks as the
Druids did their sacred oaks; it is quite a pleasure to see that their
conquests of nature, and other successful efforts to train its agencies
to the weaving of woollen yarns, and the working of spinning-jennies,
have not deprived them of a sense for those beauties of nature which
cannot be reduced to capital and interest.

The English people are a gigantic refutation of that current untruth,
that over cultivation estranges us from nature. Fire, water, earth, and
air, are in England more than in any other part of the world, employed
in the service of capital. In England they fatten their fields with
manure which has travelled many thousands of miles, and which has been
collected from some barren rock on the ocean; in England nature is
compelled to produce water-lilies from the tropics, and fruit of various
kinds of unnatural size; in England they eat grapes from Oporto--plums
from Malta--peaches from Provence--pine-apples from Bermuda--bananas
from St. Domingo--and nuts from the Brazils. Whatever cannot be grown on
English soil is imported from other parts of the world; but,
nevertheless, the English retain their affection for the trees and
meadows, forests and shrubs of their own country. This law of nature,
which is partly influenced by dietetic considerations, may be observed
in any part of the metropolis. The best houses are always near the
squares and the parks. That part of Piccadilly which faces the Park is
elegant, expensive, and aristocratic; the other portion of that street,
which extends deep into the vast ocean of houses, assumes a business
aspect, and belongs to trade. But even that portion of Piccadilly which
is now inhabited by the aristocracy was a most wretched place about one
hundred years ago. There were a great many taverns whose fame was none
of the best; and, on review days, the soldiers from the neighbouring
barracks sat in front of the houses on wooden benches, whilst their hair
was being powdered, and their pig-tails tied up. During this interesting
operation, they laughed and joked with the maid-servants who passed that
way. As a natural consequence of these proceedings, the quarter was
avoided by the respectable classes.

From Piccadilly towards the north, and along the whole breadth of
Hyde-park is Park-lane, with its charming houses built in the villa
style, and similar to those of Brighton, for they have irregular
fantastic balconies, rotundas, and verandahs. In Brighton these
contrivances facilitate the view of the sea; here they help to a view of
the park. Palace-like in their interiors, and filled with all those
comforts which in English houses alone can be found in such beautiful
harmony, and yet so unassuming, they do not, by their exterior, overawe
the passers-by with the wealth of their inhabitants. Formerly this
street was Tyburn-lane. The very name reminds one of hanging and
quartering. At the present day, Park-lane, and all the streets around
it, are the head-quarters of wealth and aristocracy. Plate-glass
windows--powdered footmen--melancholy stillness--heavy carriages waiting
at small doors--no shops, omnibuses, or carts--in cold, rainy, winter
nights, perhaps here and there a woman and her child half-naked, and
more than half-starved, crouching down in some dark corner. Such is the
character of this part of the town, where, among old walls and green
squares stand the most splendid houses of the aristocracy; and which,
with few interruptions only, extends to the regions of Bond-street.

St. James's-street connects Piccadilly with Pall-mall. We are still in
the quarters of splendour, and we are approaching the land of clubs and
royalty. In the beginning of the 18th century there were a great many
theatres in and around St. James's. In the chronicles of those old
theatres, there is a deal of matter for the student of the life and
character of old London. The managers were speculators; the public were
credulous; there was a strong hankering after miracles, and a decided
predilection for noise. On the whole, people in those days were much the
same as they are now, but there was more coarseness, more massiveness,
and less grace. We go down St. James' Street, and reach the point where
it joins Pall Mall; there we stand, in front of St. James' Palace, an
old, black, and rambling building, with no interest, except what it
derives from the past; and even in the past, it was considered as a mere
appendage to Whitehall; and only after Whitehall was burned down, did
St. James' Palace become the real seat of royalty; and it continued to
be so until George IV. took up his residence at Buckingham Palace. At
the present day, the old palace is used for court ceremonies only; the
Queen holds her levees and drawing-rooms in it. In the three large
saloons there are, on such occasions, crowds of people who have the
_entrée_, in full dress, and great splendour, thronging round the
throne, which is ornamented with a canopy of red velvet, and a gold star
and crown. The walls are decorated with pictures of the battles of
Waterloo and Vittoria; in the back-ground are the Queen's apartments,
where she receives her ministers. The anti-chambers are filled with
yeomen of the guard, and court officials of every description. In the
court-yard are the state-carriages of the nobility; and the streets
around the park are thronged with crowds of anxious spectators.

These are the moments when that gloomy building is lighted up with the
splendour of modern royalty; at all other times, night and day, red
grenadiers pace to and fro in front of the dark walls. The court-yards
are given up to the gambols of birds, cats, and children; but every
morning, a military band of music plays in the colour court.

Pall Mall is one of the most splendid streets in London; its splendour
is chiefly owing to the club houses. There are, in this street, the
Oxford and Cambridge Club, the Army and Navy Club, the Carlton, the
Reform, the Travellers', and the Athenæum. Besides these, there are in
London a large number of club-houses, of which it may generally be said,
that their chief end and aim is to procure a comfortable home by means
of association, in as cheap and perfect a manner as possible.

But the words, "as cheap and perfect as possible," convey quite a
different idea to the German to what they do to the Englishman. A short
explanation may not, perhaps, be out of place at this point.

A younger son of an old house, with an income of, say from two to four
hundred pounds, cannot live, and do as others do, within the limits of
that income. He can neither take and furnish a house, nor can he keep a
retinue of servants or give dinners to his friends. The club is his
home, and stands him in the place of an establishment. At the club,
spacious and splendidly furnished saloons are at his disposal; there is
a library, a reading-room, baths, and dressing-rooms. At the club he
finds all the last new works and periodicals; a crowd of servants attend
upon him; and the cooking is irreproachable. The expenses of the
establishment are defrayed by the annual contributions and the entrance
fees. But, of course, neither the annual contributions nor the
entrance-fees, pay for the dinners and suppers, the wines and cigars, of
the members. Members do dine at the clubs: indeed, the providing of
dinners is among the leading objects of these establishments, and the
dinners are good and cheap, compared to the extortionate prices of the
London hotels. The club provides everything, and gives it at cost price;
a member of a good club pays five shillings for a dinner, which in an
hotel would be charged, at least, four times that sum.

The _habitués_ of the London Clubs would be shocked if they were asked
to pass their hours and half-hours in our German coffee and
reading-rooms; and, on the other hand, persons accustomed to the
bee-hive life of Vienna coffee-houses consider the London Clubs as dull
though handsome edifices. Lordly halls, splendid carpets, sofas,
arm-chairs, strong, soft, and roomy, in which a man might dream away his
life; writing and reading-rooms tranquil enough to suit a poet, and yet
grand, imposing, aristocratic; doors covered with cloth to prevent the
noise of their opening and shutting, and their brass handles resplendent
as the purest gold; enormous fire-places surrounded by slabs of the
whitest marble; the furniture of mahogany and palisander; the staircases
broad and imposing as in the _palazzos_ of Rome; the kitchens _chefs
d'oeuvre_ of modern architecture; bath and dressing-rooms got up with
all the requirements of modern luxury; in short, the whole house full of
comfortable splendour and substantial wealth. All this astonishes but
does not dazzle one, because here prevails that grand substantial taste
in domestic arrangements and furniture, in which the English surpass all
other nations, and which it is most difficult to imitate, because it is
most expensive.

The influence which club-life exercises on the character of Englishmen
is still an open question among them. The majority of the fairer portion
of Her Majesty's subjects hate and detest the clubs most cordially. Mrs.
Grundy is loud in her complaints, that all that lounging, gossiping, and
smoking deprives those "brutes of men" of the delight they would
otherwise take in her intellectual society, and that club dinners make
men such epicures, they actually turn up their noses at cold mutton. And
even when at home, Mr. Grundy is always dull, and goes about sulking
with Mrs. Grundy. To be sure, all he wants is to pick a quarrel, and go
and spend his evening in that "horrid club." But there are some women
who presume to differ from the views of this admirable type of old
English matrons. They are fond of clubs, and hold a man all the more
fitted for the fetters of matrimony after yawning away a couple of years
in one of these British monasteries. The club-men, say these ladies,
make capital husbands; for the regulations of the club-houses admit of
no domestic vices, and these regulations are enforced with such
severity, that a woman's rule appears gentle ever afterwards.

The windows of almost all the club-houses in Pall Mall have the most
charming views on St. James's Park. It is the smallest of all the parks;
but it is a perfect jewel amidst the splendid buildings which surround
it on all sides. On its glassy lake fine shrubs, and beeches, and
ash-trees on the banks throw their trembling shadows; tame water-fowl of
every description swim on it or waddle on the green sward near, and eat
the crumbs which the children have brought for them. The paths are
skirted with flower-beds, with luxurious grass-plots behind them; and on
sunny days these grass-plots are crowded with happy children, who prefer
this park to all others, for the water-birds are such grateful guests,
and look so amiable and stupid, and are so fond of biscuits, and never
bite any one. And the sheep, too, are altogether different from all
other sheep in the world; they are so tame and fat, and never think of
running away when a good child pats their backs, and gives them some
bread to eat. And there are green boats, and for one penny they take you
over to the other side; and the water, too, is green, much greener than
the boat; and there is no danger of horses and carriages, and children
may run and jump about without let or hindrance, and there are such
numbers of children too. In short, there is no saying how much pleasure
the London children take in St. James's Park.

On the Continent, too, there are parks; they are larger, and are taken
more care of, and by far more ornamental than the London parks. But all
strangers who come to London must find that their imperial and royal
palace gardens at home, with all their waterworks, and Chinese pagodas,
Greek temples, and artificial romanticisms, do not make anything like
that cheerful, refreshing, tranquillising, and yet exciting impression
which the parks of England produce. It is certainly not the climate
which works this miracle, nor is it a peculiarity of the soil, for fine
meadow-land there is in plenty on the banks of the Rhine and the Danube.
The English alone know how to handle Nature, so that it remains nature;
they alone can here and there take off a tree, and in another place add
some shrubs, without, therefore, forcing vegetation into the narrow
sphere of arbitrary and artificial laws. Our great gardens at home want
wide open grassplots; where such are, the shrubs and plantations
encroach upon them; none are allowed to leave the paths and walk over
the grass, and the public are confined to, and crowded on, the
sand-covered paths, whence they may look at the clumps of trees, and the
narrow empty clearances between them. On such spots in England you find
the most splendid cattle; children are playing there, and men and women
come and go, giving life, movement, and colouring to the landscape; and,
since parks are but imitations of nature, life, movement, and colour are
absolutely necessary to them.

This life on the green sward in the very heart of the metropolis gives
the parks a rural and idyllic aspect; while, on the other hand, it
suggested the saying, that all England gives one the idea of a large
park.

At the western end of St. James's park is the Queen's palace--a stately
building not a grand one; though extensive enough to astonish those
strangers who have read in the newspapers that Her Britannic Majesty
complains of want of houseroom. And here it ought to be remarked, that,
during the present reign alone not less than £150,000 have been voted by
parliament for the extension and improvement of Buckingham Palace.
Thanks to so large a sum of money, the palace is now both comfortable
and splendid, with its _façade_ overlooking the Green park and St.
James's park, with the armorial lion and unicorn, which have lately been
placed on the gates in so exquisitely ludicrous a manner, that they turn
their backs, at one and the same time, upon one another, the palace, and
the queen. To the south, the palace commands a view of the ocean of
houses yclept Pimlico; to the north it overlooks the shady groves and
meadow grounds of Hyde-park; and on its northern side are splendid
gardens nearly as large as St. James's park. Thus is Buckingham Palace
situated in the midst of green trees, and removed as far as possible
from the smoky atmosphere of the metropolis. And yet they say that the
site is not so healthy as might be wished; and the royal family pass
only a few months in the year in this their official residence. They
prefer Windsor, the valleys of Balmoral, and Osborne (the most charming
of marine villas) in the Isle of Wight.

We return to Pall Mall, and passing Marlborough House (at one time the
residence of King Leopold of Belgium), we enter St. James's square; and
passing the famous house at the corner of King-street from the steps of
which George IV., on the night of the 20th June, 1818, proclaimed the
news of the victorious battle of Waterloo, we proceed in an eastern
direction, and, emerging from Pall Mall enter an open place--the end of
Regent-street--whence broad stone stairs lead down into St. James's
park. This is Waterloo-place, surrounded by columned mansions. On each
side of the broad stone stairs are rows of stately palace-like houses.
One of them serves as an asylum to the Prussian Embassy, and another is
interesting to the continental visitor because it is Lord Palmerston's
town-house. In front of the stairs is the Duke of York's column, of
which very little can be said, except that it is ninety-four feet high,
and some years ago the jumping down from the top and being smashed on
the broad stones at its base, was a fashionable mode of committing
suicide. It's a pity that none of the poor wretches ever thought of over
throwing and jumping down with the statue of the Duke of York, for it
stands ridiculously high, and the impression it makes on that bad
eminence is by no means agreeable.

We cross Waterloo-place, and passing Her Majesty's theatre and the
Haymarket on our left, we hail the equestrian statue of George III.
Again the houses recede, and again a gigantic column with a dwarfish man
on its top pierces the skies. Then another George--the fourth of the
name--on an iron horse, and there are two fountains, and there is also
the National Gallery, and St. Martin's Church, and the lion looking down
from Northumberland House upon the street noise and the streams of life
and traffic which here cross and recross in all directions. We are at
the foot of the Nelson column, in Trafalgar-square, which native
enthusiasm and foreign scoffers say is like the _Place de la Concorde_
at Paris. And here we stop for the present. Politeness induces us to say
as little as possible of Trafalgar-square. Besides it is high time to
introduce our readers to a friend of Dr. Keif's, to whom we propose
devoting the next chapter.



CHAP. XII.

Gentlemen and Foreigners.

     ONE OF DR. KEIF'S ADVENTURES.--MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF OLD
     ENGLAND.--A NEW ACQUAINTANCE.--ENGLISH Flegeljahre.--THE ORDINANCES
     OF FASHION.--OUR FRIEND'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY.--THE GENTLEMAN'S
     OCCUPATIONS AND ECCENTRICITIES.--FOREIGNERS.--JOHN BULL ON
     FOREIGNERS GENERALLY.--STRIFE AND PEACE.


Among the thousand-and-one adventures which Dr. Keif had in the very
first week of the season, there was one which, as fate willed it, became
entitled to a page in the chronicles of our house.[E] One night at the
Opera, he met a gentleman whom many years ago he had seen among the
ruins of Heidelberg Castle. Dr. Keif was, of course, overjoyed to see
his old friend, and, for many days he sang that friend's praises in the
most extravagant terms. He told the ladies of the house that the
gentleman he had met was a Don Juan, whose very appearance conquered
legions of "blue devils," while the glance of his eye was enough to
attract and subdue any female heart.

 [E] It is of no use concealing the fact, that our house is that of
 a respectable London citizen. We will, therefore, confess that Sir
 John is neither a knight nor a baronet, but that we--without the
 intervention and assistance of Her Gracious Majesty--considering his
 eminent services on behalf of our readers, knighted him by means of a
 silver tea-spoon.

"Oh, indeed!" said I; "then he's a dandy?" "Never mind," whispered Dr.
Keif, with an air of profound mystery. "He'll be worth his weight in
gold as an ally. He isn't even an Englishman, I tell you. That is to
say, not a modern Englishman, but a youthful scion of merry old England.
Not a trace of orthodoxy is to be found in him, neither in church nor in
kitchen matters, neither in criticism nor in politics." And to Sir John
the learned doctor said:--

"Sir,--I have found the man who first gave me an idea of the greatness
of England; who persuaded me to study 'Johnson's Dictionary'; and to
whom I am indirectly indebted for your acquaintance, respect, and
friendship."

Of course we were all very desirous to see this remarkable man. And here
we ought to remark, that in an English family the introduction of a
stranger is not so usual and common-place an event as in Germany and
France. Previous to, and after your first visit, the family meet in
council. Your good and bad qualities are weighed in the scale of
domestic criticism; for every member of the family sees in you,
eventually, a bridegroom, brother-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, or master.
At all events you are considered as a suitor for the privileges of a
friend of the family, for the slight and passing acquaintances of
continental life are unknown in these circles. The very servants in such
houses are hereditary, and hold their places for life; the nurse is
hired for three generations; the coachman's grandfather trained the mare
whose great grand-daughter is now the property of the son of the house.
The question whether the doors of the sanctuary are to be opened,
concerns all the members of the family, and gives rise to lengthy
discussions and animated debates. While the parlour votes you a
gentleman, low voices of warning are heard from the depths of the
kitchen; for the cook says:--

"Sure no one knows what church you go to on a Sunday; and the other day
your coat was buttoned up to the chin; for all the world as if you had
cause to conceal your linen or the want of it."

Even Miss Lollypop, though but just in her teens, and fresh from the
nursery, takes part in the debate, and raises her shrill voice in
condemnation.

"I can't bear him, mamma," says she; "and I won't remain in the room
when he comes. How can he dare to pinch my cheek as if I were but a
child?"

And you, O unsuspecting stranger, have no idea of the sensation which
your knock produces throughout the house; and when, on going away, Sir
John shakes hands with you, and sees you to the door, asking you to call
again, you are, perhaps--continental as you are--cautious enough to
consider all this as a mark of cheap and common politeness! You are
mistaken. Sir John lays great stress on his religious observance of the
ordinances of old English family life, and he quotes, with much
emphasis, the following paragraph of that most explicit of all
unpublished law books:--

"And in case the stranger, male or female, doth, by a comely form and
demure carriage, gain thy British heart, then shalt thou, when he or she
departeth, give his or her hand a hearty shake, to signify and prove
thereby that he or she shall always be welcome at thy table, at thy
fireside, and in the spare bedroom which is on thy premises. But if thou
dost not like him or her, then his or her hand shall not be so shaken."

Robert Baxter, Esq., or, simply Mr. Baxter, as we by this time are
accustomed to call him, had, thanks to his friend and eulogist, no
difficulties whatever to contend with. He marched in with flying
colours. He came, saw, and conquered. The "hearty shake of the hand" was
resolved upon before he had emptied his first cup of tea at our
fireside. By this time, he is the most intimate friend of the family; he
comes and goes away at his liking--takes the children out in his
gig--and has, in short, made such progress in the space of a very few
weeks, that, in direct violation of another paragraph of the family
ordinances, he lays hands even on the sacred poker, and actually pokes
the fire with it; a privilege which, according to law, should not be
conceded, even to a friend, before the expiration of the seventh year of
amicable intercourse.

Let no one fancy that these remarks are an introduction to a novellistic
plot. To dispel all suspicions on this head, I proceed at once to unmask
Dr. Keif's abominable perfidy--one which the ladies of the house vow
they will forgive, but which they cannot forget. Only fancy their
disappointment! Keif's "Don Juan," his "amiable hero," his "capital
fellow," for thus it pleased the doctor to call him--Mr. Baxter, in
fact, is a grey-haired old man. Dr. Keif was cunning enough to excuse
the incorrectness of his description by pleading short-sightedness. "It
never had struck him--indeed it had not--and,--

"After all," said our learned friend; "though not exactly young, Mr.
Baxter is youthful. His whiskers, for instance, are brown; and his
large, clear eyes, how free and open do they look at all and everything!
Has he not an aristocratic hand? Is not his chin round, his forehead
white, and his toilet irreproachable? In short, the more I think of it,
the more firmly am I persuaded, that Mr. Baxter is quite a Don Juan if
compared with your absurd London greenhorns, whose lengthy faces make
all the French shop-girls in Regent-street gape."

"True!" said I. "In my opinion, Mr. Baxter's grey hair is his best
recommendation, for none but children and old men are truly amiable in
England. No creature on earth more excels in charming merriness and bold
natural freshness, than your little freeborn, trouserless Briton. But
the moment the boy sports the very ghost of a stray hair on his upper
lip--the moment he lays in a stock of razors and stiff shirt
collars--that very moment does your English boy undergo a most shocking
metamorphosis, and one which even Doyle would despair to depict. The
'_Flegeljahre_'--the period of sowing wild oats--with other nations a
mere transition period, scarcely longer than a northern spring, is, in
the case of an Englishman, protracted through ten years and more. With
the very brightest character it lasts up to six-and-twenty; but it also
frequently happens that the modern Englishman, like unto Tully's Roman,
remains an '_adolescens_' up to forty. There is something altogether
indescribable in this English _Flegeljahr_ character. Fancy a cross
between an unctuous missionary and a fast under-graduate, duly coated,
cravated brushed up and dressed out for the dining-room; and you will
have a tolerably approximating idea of the _Flegel_-youth, who eager to
be very respectable and romantic at one and the same time, succeeds in
appearing either insufferably tedious or unconstitutionally comical. Is
it their hypochondriacal climate? So do the continentals ask every year,
when the English exodus arrives on their shores. Or is it Church and
State? Is it a fault of education, or a want of digestion, which causes
these wealthy, tall islanders, with their red faces and costly coats, to
stand forth so queer, and out of the common order of human creatures?
They are neat to perfection, and got up regardless of expense in all
their details; but take the fellow as a whole, and you find him mighty
unsavoury.

"You will find the reason neither in the fog, nor in constitutional
liberty. No Act of Parliament forbids a man to cultivate the graces; and
the climate enacts flannel only, but by no means the '_Zopf_.' It is not
a want of education, but a superabundance of it. It is the education of
a rigidly puritanical governess, whose name we never pronounce without a
feeling of secret awe. That governess is more fervently adored than the
Established Church; people fear her more than they did the Spanish
Inquisition. As Fate sat enthroned in mysterious majesty above the gods
of Greece, so does this cruel mistress lord it over Magna Charta, Habeas
Corpus, and all the other glories of Old England. Her name is
_Gentility_! Liberty of the Press and popular agitation avail not
against her. The Commons of England have conquered the strongholds of
Toryism; Mr. Cobden and his Cotton Lords have trampled Protection under
foot, and light is being let even into the gloomy caverns of Chancery.
But what agitator dares to league the cunningly separated classes of
English society against only one of the one thousand three hundred
positive and negative enactments of Gentility, whereby the favoured
people of the isles are distinguished from the pagans of the
continent--from the immoral, uneducated barbarians--from those
'soap-renouncing' foreigners! Who liberates the freeborn Briton from the
fear of 'losing caste' (a genuine British phrase this!), which follows
him as his shadow, whithersoever he may direct his steps--which haunts
him even in rural retirement--and which, in a town containing near three
millions of inhabitants, admits not even of one single circle of free
and general sociability! At a political meeting, perhaps, there may
exist something like an approximation of the upper and lower classes,
and peers and draymen, cheese-mongers and guardsmen, may, on such
occasions, breathe the same air, and fill it with their cheers and
groans. But I will rather believe that St. Peter's of Rome and St.
Paul's of London can come together, than that the cousin of a Right
Honourable will knowingly, and with tolerance prepense, eat his dinner
at the same table with the keeper of a cheese-shop.

"We, the foreigners, are blind to the graces of the English
_Flegel_-youth. His manners, which we liken to those of a dancing bear,
are, in the eyes of the natives, respectable; what we contemn as a
mincing chilliness of address, is exalted as the decent reserve of the
true Briton. Of course there are exceptions, especially within these
latter days. Now and then we meet with daring innovators, who doubt the
exclusive decency of English manners. There are bold sceptics,
proclaiming in the East and in the West that a man with a coloured
neck-tie ought to be able to appear in the pit of the Italian Opera,
without thereby obliging all proper-minded females in the five rows of
boxes to faint away and be carried out forthwith. Others pretend that at
table you may take the fork with your right hand, without by so doing
affixing an indelible stigma to your name; and that there is a
possibility of pardon, even for the man who eats mustard with his
mutton. The very boldest assert that you may take a pea with your knife,
and eat the pea too, and yet be a gentleman for all that. These are
charming signs of the times; they awaken hopes which another generation
will perhaps justify. But, generally speaking, there is no denying it,
that the free social spirit of merry Old England is most frequently to
be found among the elderly men."

Grey hair, with red cheeks, is pleasing to look at; and doubly pleasing
are those colours when they ornament the head of a gentleman, for in
such a case they announce the presence of all sorts of manly
amiabilities. The word "gentleman" has been shockingly profaned in
England. According to Sir John's cynical definition, any man is a
gentleman who pays his tailor's bill. The correctness of that definition
would appear to be generally allowed, for the name is most liberally
bestowed on dandies and blockheads, wealthy tradesmen and sporting men.
But in these pages I speak of the "Gentleman" in the truest and noblest
sense of the term. He is a joint production of nature, art, and
accident; and there are many conditions to the perfection of this _beau
ideal_.

Imprimis, he must not be compelled to eat his roast-beef by the sweat of
his brow; for he who has to work for his existence in England cannot, of
course, be said to be independent. He must have made the grand tour; for
to the English the continent is in a manner a social high school and
academy. How miraculously is the innate and indestructible kernel of
English character developed in such a man! As he ripens in years, he
breaks through that icy covering which in his earlier years surrounded
him, and he shakes off the chains of etiquette or bears them with a
grace which proves that to him they are not a restraint, but an
ornament.

A few years later, he eclipses the flower of the male part of society in
Germany and France; his jovial humour is restrained by an exquisite
tact; his politeness acquires substance from a free and hearty manner.
There is in him so grave and natural a manliness, that to oblige him and
to be obliged by him is equally agreeable. It would seem that he becomes
younger as he advances in years.

Such a man was Robert Baxter, Esq. The history of his development is
short and simple enough: shortly after his introduction into our circle
he related it one evening--after dinner, of course. For what does the
code of family morals enact and prescribe?

"Thou shalt invite a gentleman to a good and solid dinner, the which
consisteth of fish and roast-meat, and pudding and wine. But thou shalt
not invite him to the eating of cakes and sugar-plums, and much less
shalt thou tempt him to a _soirée dansante_, where he would have much
labour and no sustenance. And at table thou shalt not, as the wicked do,
make the said gentleman talk of politics, business, science, and divers
other heavy matters, lest peradventure his attention should be diverted
from the enjoyment of the various dishes which thou shalt set before
him."

Obedient to this law, Sir John gave a grand dinner to all his family to
celebrate Mr. Baxter's acquaintance. It was after that dinner that our
friend, reclining in an easy chair, gave us the following sketch of his
former life:--

"'Story--God bless you, I have none to tell, sir.' My life has been that
of a gentleman--comfortable and monotonous throughout. I was brought up
by an uncle--of course, he was rich; most uncles are. He spoilt me and
left me his property. I went to Harrow and Oxford, where I learnt that
no one ever learns anything in those seats of learning, except fighting,
hunting, and the art and mystery of writing Latin verses. And after all,
to think of the lots of very clever men we have in spite of those
places--truly it is miraculous! Old England,--thank goodness!--can't be
ruined; but it wants ventilation. Ventilation in foreign climes is a
necessity for the free-born Englishman. That was my idea when I crossed
the Channel to Calais. On that occasion I had a curious adventure. Not a
duel--no nothing of the kind. I pitched into a Frenchman and knocked him
down. The wretch had called me '_un étranger_.' I did not understand his
mode of speech, but a friend who was with me said the words meant 'a
foreigner.' 'A foreigner, you scoundrel!' cried I. 'How dare you say a
free-born Briton is a foreigner!' and I knocked him down. He got up and
challenged me to fight a duel with him, but the police interfered, and I
was arrested. The lieutenant of the police who had to examine me, told
me, with a kindness which was altogether undeserved on my part, that the
word 'foreigner' was quite harmless, that it had a relative meaning, and
that it might even be complimentary. I could not stand that. I had a dim
perception of my being wrong, and of having made an egregious fool of
myself, but still I could not get over the contemptuous meaning which we
connect with the term; and pig-headed as I was, I replied in English:--

"'Sir, I'd thank you for not addressing such compliments to me. You may
call me a non-Frenchman--of course you may; for I am an Englishman and
glory in the fact, but I would not be a foreigner--no! not for the
world! Rather than submit to such an indignity I'd leave your country at
once.'

"He laughed and bowed me out, and that very day I returned to Dover.

"On my second continental tour, I went through Belgium to Germany, and
when, after a few years' residence in that country, I came back to
England, I was not alone. I was accompanied by a foreigner--a lady who
bore my name. She was not strong, and could not bear the climate. She
yearned for her country, but concealed her wish to return. When at
length I brought her back to the sunnier clime of Southern Germany, it
was too late. That sad event happened many years ago, but though she
left me, I was not solitary. Heaven be thanked, I have a son, a dear
boy, who is now at college at Heidelberg."

"Of course, your son is half a foreigner!" said Miss Lollypop, with a
slight toss of her head.

"Nothing of the kind," said Mr. Baxter, with a smile. "He is a Cockney
by birth, for he was born within the sound of Bow-bells. But," added our
friend, "I wish him to become so much of a foreigner as to enjoy the
brighter sides of English life without a superstitious admiration of the
darker ones."

A pause of general embarrassment followed the conclusion of this short
and fragmentary autobiography. The children looked at Mr. Baxter
curiously, enquiringly, for a couple of stories and anecdotes seemed
still hovering on his lips. But he sat silent and lost in thought.
Probably his thoughts were with his son, the Heidelberg student; perhaps
he fancied he accompanied that son in his wanderings through some valley
in the Alps or to the ruins of some ancient abbey, rich with curious
carvings and relics of the olden time. For Mr. Baxter rides the
antiquarian hobby as he does his other hobbies, of which many are as
laborious as useless. For it ought to be remarked, that a real gentleman
hates absolute idleness; some purpose or object, fantastic though it be,
he must have: he defies dangers and courts fatigues. The odd freaks
which English gentlemen have, and which they are guilty of, to the
signal astonishment and amusement of continental _feuilleton_-writers
and Gothamites, are mere excrescences of that restless desire of
activity which is one of the most splendid qualities of the Anglo-Saxon
race. Many thousands of Englishmen, each of whom can afford to make his
life one long spell of rest, devote their time and energies to an
honourable servitude in the nation's service, and slave for a single
word of thanks from posterity, quite as much as the continental
_bureaucrats_ do for orders and pensions. If they want the talents or
the ambition necessary for such a career, they will devote themselves to
farming or support some one of the numerous charitable institutions of
the metropolis or their own county--not only with money, for that were
no sacrifice--but also by giving it their time, personal attention, and
influence. The active charity of the women is quite as great as that of
the men; and this explains the reason why, although in England the gulf
between wealth and poverty is wider than in every other country,
nevertheless up to the present day there are no symptoms of that patient
bitterness of hatred among the lower classes--that harbinger of an
approaching doom--which has come to other nations with the gloomy
evangel of the future on its pale lips.

As a third class, we have the amateurs and patronisers of arts and
sciences; the passionate and most persevering observers of nature, who
for many months will watch a swallow's nest, or fill their diaries with
observations on the signs and marks of instinct in cockroaches and
snails; the travellers in every clime, who take their coffee with the
Shah of Persia, converse with the Sultan on the superior excellence of
English railroads; rhyme on, and in presence of, the cypress trees of
Scutari; smoke the pipe of peace with the Camanchees and the Last of the
Mohicans; and who now and then watch and register the hangman's tricks
of an accomplished despot, in order to recount them to their countrymen,
who never believe such shocking stories, unless published under the
authority of a gentleman of known respectability, and conservative
principles. Those who are altogether unable to employ their leisure
hours--that is to say, their lives--usefully, devote themselves to some
"sport" with a touching fanaticism, and ride their hobbies with the
heroism of world-betterers. Such a man sails in a nut-shell of a yacht
to the polar regions, or travels about in Spain to effect the conversion
of Jews and gipsies; or he ascends Mont Blanc, and writes a letter to
the _Times_ to commemorate his fatigue and folly.

Mr. Baxter, however, had never been up Mont Blanc, and what is more, it
is not likely he will ever make the ascent. He is too old, and too
clever. On the evening in question, he gave convincing proof of his
shrewd good nature and tact for while we were all silent and
embarrassed, he leant back, with the most comfortable air in the world,
and with a look of innocent slyness at our long-drawn faces. Our
embarrassment and silence were caused by a word of which Mr. Baxter had
made a liberal use in his autobiography, and which he pronounced with a
provoking emphasis. It is a word on which whole chapters and books might
be written--the word "_Foreigner_."

The ancient Greeks spoke of all other nations on the face of the earth
as "barbarians"; and for a period, I believe, they were quite right. It
is said, whether truly or falsely I will not here investigate; but it is
said, that every Englishman thanks God in his morning's prayers, that he
has not been created a foreigner. "He is a foreigner, but a very nice
man!" "A very gentlemanly foreigner, indeed!" "What a pity he is a
foreigner!" Offensive compliments of this sort fall very frequently from
British lips. The tone of pity, contempt, and condescension, with which
those disagreeable words are pronounced, is applied, not only with
respect to the foreigner, but also to the produce of his country. Bad
cherries or plums, are at once declared to be foreign; there is no doubt
they come from France, Belgium, or Holland. When our cook opens an egg
which offends her olfactory nerves, and when she flings it indignantly
into the dust-hole, she accompanies it with the sneering hiss of
"foreign"! That wretched egg was laid by a Dutch hen. Of course it was;
and probably the passage from Holland was very long and stormy. But
alas! all Dutch hens come into evil repute; it is at once understood
that, "Them nasty furrin hanimals halways lays bad heggs, Sir."

A bold attempt to vindicate the rights and the honor of foreigners was,
on one Sunday evening, made in Guildford Street, at dinner time, when
the glorious roast beef of Old England graced Sir John's hospitable
board.

"This glorious bulwark of your nation," said Dr. Keif, "is of foreign
extraction."

Sir John dropped his knife with the shock these words gave him.

"I dont understand you, sir," said he, rather sternly.

"Is not your loin of beef cut from Jütish ox, that was fattened on the
Holstein marshes? Go to Smithfield, and ask the sellers where they got
that Homeric beef, to which the British owe their strength, humour, and
political superiority?"

Sir John was mute with astonishment and vexation. He could not deny the
truth of the learned Doctor's sally; yet if he admitted it, what--ay,
what was to become of the roast beef of Old England?

"Come!" said Dr. Keif, following up his advantage, and raising his
glass, "'Here's a health to Father Rhine!' What do you say, Sir," added
he, turning to Mr. Baxter; "Is there anything equal to the delight of a
walking expedition down the Rhine, or up the Ahr or Mosel?"

Mr. Baxter took the hint.

"Charming!" said he. "Even Sir John must confess that we have some
reason for our love of continental life; and that travelling Englishmen,
after all, know what is good when they stick to the banks of the Rhine,
the Danube, or the Neckar."

"Certainly," said Sir John; "to see those countries, and the queer sort
of people that live in them, is certainly worth while; but to the
English heart there's no place like home. They have not anything extra
in those countries, have they?"

"Yes, they have," said Mr. Baxter peremptorily. To whom Sir John
replied--

"It's an old proverb, that there's nothing choice or precious in the
world, but money will procure it for you in England."

"I beg your pardon," replied Mr. Baxter, with great determination;
"there are things rich and rare which could not be had in England--no,
not for all the money in the Bank!"

Sir John was extremely shocked. "Sir," said he; "you astonish me: oblige
me by proving your assertion. What is it you allude to?"

"Why, of a _Volksfest_, a people's festival, really and truly a festival
in the open air, when all ranks and classes join and mix without any
thought or possibility of a mob; where the wine calls forth songs and
laughter, but where not a single fist is raised to threaten or strike."

And Mr. Baxter continued, in rather too flattering colours, giving a
sketch of the merry German life, and contrasting it with life in
England. He expatiated on the general cultivation of the lower classes,
on the toleration of German social life--in short, he lost his way in
producing so brilliant an apotheosis of German affairs, that he did not,
or would not, pay attention to Sir John, who shook his head in an
ominous manner.

At first, Dr. Keif rubbed his hands triumphantly, for on Mr. Baxter's
free-born British lips each word had the charm of authority. But as our
friend went on, the Doctor could not but confess to himself, that Mr.
Baxter's victory might possibly lead to that gentleman's utter ruin in
the worthy baronet's good opinion.

There was a long and awful pause. At length Sir John rose, and with a
smile, by no means a natural one, he walked up to Mr. Baxter, held out
his hand, dropped it, and said--

"Sir! It's my opinion you are a respectable man, and I believe you mean
what you say; but moderation is good in all matters. You may be just to
foreign countries: so am I. But you idolize the Continent, and despise
your own country. That--I beg your pardon--but that is not the conduct
of an English gentleman!"

Dr. Keif looked very pale and uncomfortable.

"Nonsense, Sir John," said Mr. Baxter good-humouredly. "Let me say a
word to you, and then you may judge whether I love my country less than
you do. I have never meddled with politics, but I am something of a
Tory; for I take the world as it is, and hold that everything which is,
is, if not _pour le mieux_, according to Voltaire's _Candide_, at least
not without good reason. But no one ought to claim all honour and glory
for him and his. The people of this beautiful island have the
inestimable treasures of liberty, power and honour. England is an
impregnable fortress; a charming garden fenced in by the ocean and by
rocks; her tranquil safety is cheap at any price! No venomous reptiles
creep on her soil; the wolves have been exterminated for centuries past.
But in return, the sweets of existence are open only to hard labour and
high birth. A consequence of this is, a spirit of _caste_, a tendency to
seclusion, a stubborn and rugged independence. Look at the Continent.
What would those poor nations come to, plagued and hunted down as they
are, if deprived of the comforting amenities of a kindly sociability?
What, they have no unity in their states, no protection abroad, no
sacredness of law, no safety at home, and yet you would dispute with
them the paltry consolation of having better actors than you have! If
their towns, with their eternal state of siege, had our fogs and clouds
of smoke, our penitential Sundays and breathless week-days, whoever
could resist the temptation of committing suicide? Why, such a state of
things were a hell upon earth! And can you believe that Providence could
allow such a state of things to exist? But to return to England. This
country has the greatest Parliament, the most powerful orators, the most
humane police, the freest newspapers, the most untouchable liberty; and
with all this you lay claim to a monopoly of good potatoes and manners!
You would have all the gifts and perfections of earth! But if this our
England could, in addition to her solid political heritage, have the
charms of continental leisure hours, why then this same England were a
Paradise on earth--literally a Paradise, where no one could ever think
of dying."

Sir John was pacified and happy, and said he was. He went about the room
singing "God save the Queen," and would not leave off shaking hands with
Mr. Baxter.



SAUNTERINGS IN AND ABOUT LONDON.



THE SECOND PART.



CHAPTER I.

Down the Thames.

     RIVER SCENE AT LONDON BRIDGE.--COLLIERS FROM NEWCASTLE.--THE CUSTOM
     HOUSE.--THE POOL.--THE DANGERS OF THE THAMES.--AN ENGLISHMAN
     AFLOAT.--RE-APPEARANCE OF DR. KEIF AND MR. BAXTER.--BOATING
     SCENES.--THE THAMES TUNNEL.--PRIVATE DOCKS.--HOW ENGLISHMEN BUILD
     SHIPS FOR FOREIGNERS.--GREENWICH.--OLD SOLDIERS IN ENGLAND AND
     GERMANY.--HOTELS AND POT-HOUSES.--GREENWICH PARK.


Again we have reached the foot of London Bridge, the first of those
mighty arched and pillared bulwarks, which oppose the onward progress of
ocean ships into the heart of the country. The river at this point is
nothing but a large settlement of steamers and boats of every
description. On our first tour up the river, we saw many groups of small
steamers and fishing-boats, with sails of a dusky red; but the masts of
the boats were lowered, and the steamers were of a lilliputian
kind--undergrown, low-funnelled, small-engined and paddle-wheeled. They
were passenger-boats, plying between the bridges. The class of vessels
we see here have a more important appearance. You see at once that these
are no water penny omnibuses, coasting it between the City and Putney
Bridge. Here are broad black hulls, double funnels and capacious ones,
high masts, and boats hauled up at the sides; all tell us that these are
hardy customers, that can stand a stiff breeze in the Channel and
elsewhere. Some of them swing lazily on their moorings; they have just
come in from a voyage, and are taking their ease at home. Others blow
vast clouds of steam and black smoke; flags are being hoisted on them,
hundreds of people cross and recross on the planks which communicate
with the wharf or with other vessels. They are just starting--whither?
I, for one, know nothing about it. A sailor could tell you all about
them; he reads the character of a ship in the cut of its jib; but we
continentals, who are scarcely at home in our country, are perfectly
lost in this Babel of foreign vessels and seamen. Even for one short
trip to Greenwich--we are starting for Greenwich, you know--we had
better ask some porter or policeman to direct us to the boat we want,
lest by some mistake we might chance to go to Hamburg, Boulogne, or
Antwerp. Such things have happened.

Here we are! On a small steamer, next to a black Scotch coaster, crowded
to suffocation, and just casting off. The boy at the hatch is waiting
for the captain's signal; and the captain, walking his paddle-box, moves
his hand; the boy calls out, the engineer makes a corresponding
movement, and the steam enters the large cylinders. The machinery is in
motion, and the vessel has left the shore. "Dont be in a hurry, miss!
You can't leap that distance. You've missed the boat, as a thousand
respectable girls do daily, amidst these vast comings and goings of
London. There will be another Greenwich steamer in five minutes; so the
misfortune, after all, is not very great!"

What an astounding spectacle the Thames presents at this very point
below London Bridge! In autumn, when the great merchantmen, heavily
laden, coming in from all parts of the world, cast their bales and casks
on the shore, from whence a thousand channels of trade convey them to
and distribute them over the whole of the earth--in autumn, I say, this
part of the river presents a spectacle of a mighty, astounding activity,
with which no other river can vie. The vessels are crowded together by
fifties and hundreds on either side. Colossal steamers, running between
the coast-towns of France, Germany, and Scotland, have here dropped
their anchors, waiting until the days of their return for passengers and
merchandise. Their little boats dance on the waves, their funnels are
cold and smokeless, their furnaces extinct. Sailors walk to and fro on
the decks, looking wistfully at the varying panorama of London life. In
a semi-circle round those steamers are the black ships of the North.
They are black all over; the decks, the bows, the sides, the rigging,
and the crew, have all the same dusky hue. These vessels carry the dark
diamond of England--they are colliers from Newcastle. The industrial and
political greatness of England springs from the depth of those
coal-mines. Deprive the British islands of their coal, give them gold,
silver, diamonds, instead--fill their mines with all the coins that the
kings of this earth ever minted since the creation of the world--no
matter! not these, not all the untold treasures of Australia Felix,
would supply that living spark which slumbers in the coal. Without their
inexhaustible coal-mines, the English nation would still be what they
were a thousand years ago, an island people--poor, weak, and neglected,
like the Norwegians.

It is so easy to find fault with God and nature instead of our dear
selves. Do me the favour to look at this earth of ours! Of all zones,
climes, and countries, how few, how very few there are without some
unacknowledged treasure, which, if properly appreciated and turned to
account would make a nation's fortune. Are the British Nature's
favourites? Is their climate more genial; their soil more fertile than
those of the countries we and others live in? No! but the difference
lies in the use which the English have made of gifts and opportunities
common to all. Their soil produces the finest crops in Europe; a grain
of British wheat might be picked out of a thousand grains of continental
wheat. Out of their coal-mines they have raised the greatest industrial
empire that the world ever knew. Of the stormy channel and the ocean,
which beat against their rocky coasts, they have made bridges on which
their spirit of enterprise careers and domineers over all the world.
Water, earth, air, and fire! from these elements sprang the greatness of
England. They are common to all; but those who know how to convert them
into power, prosperity and comfort, are justly pre-eminent as _the most
practical nation_.

Our boat has just passed the Custom-house. It is a splendid building; it
has been burnt down six times, and six times rebuilt on the same site.
Radical Free-traders dislike the building where it stands; they would
gladly convert it into a hospital, a poorhouse, or a commercial academy.
It will take a long time to realise these liberal intentions; for at
this present day duties to the amount £12,000,000 are paid in the port
of London alone. Nevertheless, the English swear by Free-trade! The
vessels which come to London must all appear at the forum of this
Custom-house, unless they prefer leaving their cargo in the docks or the
bonded warehouses. What crowds of sailing-ships and steamers from all
the harbours of the world! What goings and comings; what loadings and
unloadings; what a bewildering movement this Custom-house presents! It
is actually painful to the eye. And now, thank goodness, we have left
all this turmoil behind us.

The further we go down the river, the more closely packed are the
vessels on either side. For above two miles the broad Thames is wofully
narrow; and the steamers, which run up and down must just pick their way
through as best they can. Accidents will happen; and the man at the
wheel must keep a sharp look out. Those who never sailed on the Thames,
have no idea of the number of black funnelled monsters, yclept steamers,
which continually whisk past one another. There is one just now steering
right down upon us; within another second our sides must be stove in.
Well done! She has turned aside, and rushes past. But scarcely is the
danger over, when another monster of the deep comes paddling on; and a
large schooner is wedging its way between us and the said monster of the
deep; and on our right there is an awkward Dutchman, swinging round on
her anchor; and on our left, there is a lubber of a collier, with her
gun-wales just sticking out of the water; and there, goodness gracious!
there it is--a very nut-shell of a boat, and two women in it, passing
close under our bows. I really dont know why we did not upset them, and
why the others did not run into us. That nut-shell of a boat had a
narrow escape among the steamers, and those women were fully aware of
it; and there is no end of accidents, and yet those people _will_ row
across the river.

It is a perfect blessing that the English know better than anybody else
how to steer a boat under difficulties. Look at that man at the wheel!
Immoveable, with his head bent forward, his eyes directed to the ship's
course, his hands ready to turn the wheel: that fellow knows what
steering on the Thames is! To all appearance, it is not near so
difficult as rope-dancing, but I say it's worse than rope-dancing; it
requires the most consummate address. And then there's the
responsibility! The sailors of all nations stand in great awe of the
London Thames. They navigate their vessels to the East Indies; they
weather the storms of the Cape, and think nothing of its blowing "big
guns;" but none of them would undertake to steer a vessel from Blackwall
to London-bridge. "It's too crowded for us," they say; "and the little
nutshells of steamers are enough to make an honest sailor giddy; and the
river is so narrow. If you fancy you are clear of all difficulties and
can go on, there's sure to be some impertinent boat in your way. Turn to
the right! Why there's not room for a starved herring to float!"

And the old steersman descends from his high place, and resigns his
functions to the Thames pilot. If he is a conceited blockhead, let him
try--that's all. But if the vessel comes to harm, the insurance is lost;
for the under-writers at Lloyd's will not be responsible for any damage
done in the pool, unless the wheel is in the hands of a regular pilot.
And they are right, for with all the difficulties and dangers there are
few accidents.

Let us then, trusting to the skill of that particular steersman who
guides our own destinies and those of our boat, look at the scenery
around. A forest of masts looms through the perennial fog; the banks of
the river are lined with warehouses; some old and dilapidated, while
others are new, solid, and strong. A stray flag fluttering in the
evening breeze, a sailor hanging on the spars and chewing tobacco, a
monkey of a boy sky-larking on the topmost cross-trees of an
Indiaman--these are some of the sights of the lower Thames. Let us now
look at the party on board our own vessel; for, after all, we ought to
know the people who are in the same boat with us, and who, in case of
an accident would share our watery grave.

The boat is full. A first-class ticket to Gravesend costs nine-pence,
and the society is of a mixed description--of course. But it is one of
the peculiarities of England, that a "mixed society" does not by any
means present so striking an appearance as in Germany or France. It is
not easy to look _into_ people; and as for their exterior, their walk,
manners, dress, and conduct, there is even among the poorer classes, a
strong flavour of the "gentleman." The French blouse, or the German
"kittel," have no existence in this country; the black silk hat is the
only headdress which Englishmen tolerate. A man in a black dress coat,
hat, and white cravat, hurrying through London streets early in the
morning, is not, as a raw German would fancy, a professor going to his
lecture-room, or an _attaché_ on the track of some diplomatic mystery.
No; in the pocket of that man, if you were to pick it, you would find a
soap-box, strop, and razor--he is a barber. Or, as the case may be, a
man-milliner, or waiter, or tailor, or shoe-maker. Many an omnibus
driver sits on the box in a white cravat. In Paris, they say, with a
black dress-coat and affability, you find your way into the most
fashionable drawing-rooms. Men in black dress-coats descend now and then
into London sewers, and that, too, without being in the least affable.

The women of England, too, do not betray their social position by their
dress. Coloured silks, black velvets, silk or straw bonnets with
botanical ornaments, are worn by a lady's maid, as well as by the lady.
Possibly, the maid's dress may be less costly; the lady, too, may sweep
her flounces with a distinguished air: there may be some difference or
other, but who can see all and know all by just looking at people?

See, for instance, that lovely face under a grey bonnet--there! to the
left of the cabin-stairs. She has just risen from her seat. What a
slender, graceful figure! Pray dont look at her feet. What ease, what
decency in her every movement; and how grandly, yet how confidently,
does she take the arm of her companion! By Jove, he has got a black
dress-coat, and a white tie! A handsome couple! He is well-shaven, has
fine thin lips, with that peculiar, lurking smile of superiority, which
the most good-natured Englishmen can scarcely divest themselves of; his
auburn hair is splendidly got up; his dress is of superfine cloth; his
linen is unexceptionable; he has a gold chain dangling on his waistcoat,
and dazzling all beholders. That man, for one, is a gentleman!

"He is nothing of the kind," says Dr. Keif; "he does not pay his
tailor's bill. He is a journeyman tailor, and the coat I wear is the
work of his hands; it is a capital coat, and I will thank him for making
it." Saying which, the Doctor made his way to the young couple, and
forthwith shook hands with them.

"They are as good as betrothed," said the Doctor, on his return. "Going
for a day's pleasure to Greenwich; honest, decent people those. That's
what I like in English prudery, that it cares for trifles only. Take it
all in all, and you will find that the state of affairs is more
satisfactory here than it is in Germany. That girl's father and
mother--honest and decent people, I tell you--have no objection to her
gadding about for whole days, and half the nights, too, under the
protection of her sweetheart. They walk in the park, sit under the
trees, talk of love, marriage, household affairs, Morrison's pills, and
other interesting subjects; and while they talk, they eat cold beef and
hot mustard. And the result is, an honest marriage, without
dishonourable antecedents. In Germany, such excursions would be
suspicious in the extreme. Where's the prudery, I should like to know."
"Well, well," said the Doctor, shaking his head, "it's the nature of the
people."

"And of the tie," said Mr. Baxter. "A white tie, and a black dress coat,
kill all rakishness and scampishness, even in the most talented
individuals. Choke a man with a white tie, squeeze him tight in a black
coat, and he must needs be prudent, calculating, and respectable. He
can't help it. It's for that very reason I have exacted from my son, at
Heidelberg, a vow that he will eschew white ties and black coats, at
least, until he is married."

Here we are at the Tower! There is nothing awful in its appearance from
the river side, especially since it was repaired and whitewashed, after
the great fire. The outer wall is black, and two red sentinels creep to
and fro along it. On the bench, just opposite to us, sits an aged
quakeress, with three infantine quakers, who have all along fancied they
were going to Westminster. They see their mistake, now that the seeing
of it can do them no good whatever, and they behave as quakers are wont
to do under such circumstances. They evince moral horror, subdued grief,
and unctuous comfort, which they apply to one another. A fat gentleman,
who sports a linen shirt-front of the dimensions of a moderate sail (the
English are fond of displaying large tracts of linen on their ships and
bodies), does his best to cheer the stricken family in drab. In the
forecastle, there is a group of workmen reading the _Weekly Dispatch_,
which convinces them that Disraeli is the worst man alive. Some German
musicians are congregated round the funnel, and a good deal of newspaper
reading is going on on the after-deck, while a newsboy calls out the
last number of _Punch_; small children, in charming dresses, are being
fed by their mammas; the men sit, or stand about, gaping or chatting;
and some stare, with a very respectable horror, at a group of French
ladies and gentlemen, who alone make much more noise than all the other
people on board. And all the ladies have their parasols up, to attract
the sun, I dare say; but it won't do. The sun, O fairer and frailer
portion of humanity, will shine when we are out of London, but not till
then.

Why should he? What is an excursion on the Thames without the mystic fog
of Romanticism? Without the garish light of day, without the depth of
perspective, the objects on shore and on the water _grow_--so to
say--out of the colourless mist, presenting fantastic outlines suddenly,
mightily, and with a magic grandeur. On our left we fancied we saw
hundreds and hundreds of masts rising up behind the houses, from the
very midst of dry land. We thought it was an optical delusion; but, as
we advanced, the masts and the outline of the rigging came out strong,
substantial, and well-defined, against the lurid sky: and just here
there is an Indiaman, deeply laden, turning out of the river, and
proceeding inland, floating on locks. What we saw were the basins of the
various docks which, hidden behind store-houses of fabulous size and
number, extend deep into the heart of the country. The river, broad as
it is, cannot afford space for the hundreds and hundreds of vessels
which lie snugly in those docks.

Our boat, too, turns to the left bank, and stops near an apoplectic grey
tower, which reminds us strongly of the donjon-keeps of the city of Linz
in Upper Austria. A similar tower rises from the opposite bank. These
towers are the gates of the famous Thames Tunnel. We leave the boat to
look at this triumph of British science and perseverance. The tower
covers the shaft into which you must descend if you would enter the
broad pathway under the water, and the sinking this shaft to the depth
of eighty feet was the first step in an undertaking which, since its
completion, has commanded the admiration of the architects and engineers
of all nations. The broad comfortable stairs and the pathway beneath the
river, devoid of ornament and lighted with gas, do not indeed present
any striking features to the unscientific visitor. Our railway tunnels
are a good deal longer; and what mortal, unless he be a practical
engineer, has a conception of the difficulties of this particular
undertaking? Still those difficulties were enormous. The breadth of the
river is above two thousand feet at high water--the weight pressing on
the arches is about double the low water weight--among the strata which
the workmen had to pierce there was a layer of floating sand--and, in
spite of all precautions, the water broke in not less than five times,
and several lives were sacrificed. On one occasion, Mr. Brunel, the
architect, had a narrow escape. Through a breach of several thousand
cubic feet, the water entered the tunnel, which had then advanced to the
middle; the masonry and the machinery were destroyed; it took many weeks
before the water was pumped out, and the disastrous hole stopped up with
sand-bags; the workmen refused to go down again; the contractors had to
double their wages; the works had to be carried on by day and by night
without cessation, and the strictest watch had to be kept on the river
itself, its tides, and its movements. At length, after an enormous
outlay of capital and ingenuity, when even the most sceptical part of
the public understood that the construction of a tunnel under the
Thames was _not_ an impossibility; it was found that the funds advanced
by the shareholders were exhausted. The Parliament, however, granted a
loan; the whole of England took an interest in the execution of this
great undertaking; fresh machinery was invented; fresh workmen were
engaged; the second shaft was sunk on the Wapping side of the river; and
the English may say--"We carry out whatever we undertake to do. With us
great undertakings do not languish for want of public interest and
assistance. A crane standing for many years on a half-built tower, as is
the case with the tower of the Cologne Cathedral in Germany--no! thank
God, such cranes have no _locus standi_ in England. May be, we are an
awkward, square-built people; but after all _we are a people_, and
that's what not every nation can say of itself."

Life in the Thames Tunnel is a very strange sort of life. As we descend,
stray bits and snatches of music greet our ears. Arrived at the bottom
of the shaft, there is the double pathway opening before us, and looking
altogether dry, comfortable, and civilised, for there are plenty of
gas-lights; and the passages which communicate between the two roadways,
are tenanted by a numerous race of small shop-keepers, offering views of
the tunnel, and other penny wares for sale. These poor people never see
the sun except on Sundays. The strangers in London are their best, and
indeed I may almost say, they are their only customers.

As we proceed, the music becomes more clear and distinct, and here it
is: a miniature exhibition of English industrial skill. It is an Italian
organ, played by a perfect doll of a Lilliputian steam-engine. That
engine grinds the organ from morning till night; it gives us various
pieces without any compunction or political scruples. The Marseillaise,
German waltzes, the Hungarian Rakowzy march, Rule Britannia, Yankee
Doodle, etc., does this marvellous engine grind out of the organ. Those
London organs are the most tolerant of musical instruments that I know
of; they appeal to all nations and purses. And what is more marvellous
still, they are not stopped by the police, as they would be in Vienna or
Berlin, even though the cosmopolitan organ-grinder might descend tens of
thousands of feet below the bed of the Spre or the Danube. In the
present instance, the organ and the engine are mere decoy-birds. You
stop, and are invited to look at "the panorama"--at the expense of "only
one penny." You see Queen Victoria at that interesting moment in which
she vows to "love, honour, and obey" Prince Albert. You also see a
Spanish convent, which no panorama can be without; and the Emperor
Napoleon in the act of being beaten at Waterloo--the chief scene of
every London panorama, exactly as if the great Napoleon had passed all
the years of his life in being beaten at Waterloo. The next view shows
you M. Kossuth on horseback, on an Hungarian battle-field, which looks
for all the world like an English park; and Komorn, of which the
impregnability is demonstrated by its being, Venice fashion, immersed in
water, with canals for streets, and gondolas for cabs.

Of such like spectacles the tunnel has plenty, but we cannot stop for
them. We hasten to the shaft, ascend the stairs, and feel quite
refreshed by the free air of heaven.

"There will be a Greenwich steamer in five minutes," says Mr. Baxter,
encouragingly.

"What was the expense of that affair under the water?" asked Dr. Keif,
while we stood waiting for the boat.

"One penny each."

"I don't ask what we paid. I mean the tunnel, what did it cost?"

"Something like £455,000. The shareholders gave £180,000, and the rest
was advanced by the nation. It would take another £200,000 to make the
tunnel fit for carriage traffic. Say £650,000."

"A mere trifle! as Sir John would say," remarked Dr. Keif, with a
sarcastic smile; "£650,000 make, without _agio_, six millions five
hundred thousand florins in Austrian money. Give Mr. Struve that sum,
and he'll liberate the whole of Germany and a large piece of France into
the bargain. What, in the name of all that is liberal, can be the use of
that tunnel, I should like to know? Is'nt a good honest bridge ten times
cheaper and handsomer? You're a practical people, you are; but
crotchetty, my dear Sir, crotchetty, that's the word."

"Most amiable of all German philosophers," said Mr. Baxter, "are you,
too, among the Philistines? Hundreds of foreigners have said exactly
what you say; and none of them seem to understand what practical purpose
the originators of this tunnel had in view."

"They wanted, to prove to the barbarous nations of the Continent, that
Britons may walk under water without getting wet and without umbrellas."

"And also that there are some things which are not dreamt of in the
philosophy of a German Doctor. Why, that alone would be worth the money!
But now, let me tell you that this tunnel cost very little more than
one-half of what Waterloo-bridge cost. Besides, how can you bridge the
river so low down as this? Why you would stop all the vessels, and spoil
the London harbour, for you cannot raise a bridge high enough for large
sailing vessels to pass under. Well, we've tried another plan; since the
vessels cannot pass under the bridge, we make them go over it. We've
tried it, and we've done it. There's the tunnel! It is not the
architect's fault if it does not pay. Westward the course of empire
takes its way in the world generally, and in London especially, and the
east suffers accordingly. Hence it was not worth while to add a
carriage-road to the tunnel. The more's the pity! But here's the
steamer!"

There's scarcely standing room on the deck. Besides the steamers, there
are Greenwich omnibuses, and there is an extra railroad running its
trains every quarter of an hour from London to Greenwich--and yet, look
at the crowd which surrounds us on all sides! London, too, has its
tides, and its high and low water-mark; its thousands and hundreds of
thousands rush into the country and back again at regular periods from
one twelve hours to another. The majority of London merchants live in
the country, and yet they are able to pass their days in the city.
Various means and modes of conveyance, and these quick, ready, and
cheap, enable them to accomplish that feat.

As we go down the river, the banks recede, and the vessels lie in
smaller groups. In their place, we see the very insignificant-looking
yards of the London shipbuilders, which extend almost to Woolwich, the
seat of the government dockyard. Woolwich is the second depot of the
country; Portsmouth is the first.

The English shipbuilders are cosmopolitans, like the organ-grinders.
Little do they care for their customers' position, religion, or nation;
they build ships for every man who offers his money, and for every
country, too, for Denmark, Spain, Austria, Russia, and even for France.

"We have launched many a steamer, which by this time lies in some
Russian port in the Black Sea," says Mr. Baxter.

"It's well for you if those steamers remain where they are. But what if
Russia were to send your own ships against you? You shall perish by the
work of your own hands!"

"Doctor, you are vastly amusing! Some years ago, I believe it was in
1840, I saw a ship launched at this very spot, a brig, and a fine vessel
she was, for the Russian fleet. The Russian Ambassador was on the
platform, and so was the Consul, and a great many titled and untitled
persons. An old friend, my chum at Harrow, had taken me to see the fun.
Honest fellow that; a commander in Her Majesty's service, and since dead
of apoplexy. We stood by, and saw the vessel glide into the water, and I
made the very same remark you made just now. Of course I meant it as a
joke. But you ought to have seen how my poor friend, the Captain,
laughed at it. He held his sides, and his honest red face turned blue
and purple. It was a mercy that he did not then and there die of
apoplexy. 'Eh!' cried he at last; 'do you think they can order a fleet
as they would a cargo of cheese? Let the Czar send his roubles, and our
fellows will build the ships, I warrant you, and good ships too, and
without any dockyard jobs. No altering the poop, no taking out boilers,
no cutting in halves, eh? But what's a vessel? Nothing whatever, sir.
It's of no use without the sailors. He can't order them. Just order me
to play the dancing-master, eh? That vessel costs a good deal of money,
and our fellows--Heaven bless them!--are very fond of Russian money.
They like to build ships for Russia, just because we mean to hoist the
Blue Peter against their Eagle. Fear! Apprehensions, eh? Why, sir, I
bless that vessel from the bottom of my heart; that is to say, I wish
she may go to pieces on her first trip to Cronstadt, or that I may fall
in with her with the law against her and a fair chance of some friendly
conversation. Dear me! if I should ever live to see that fine Russian
fleet burnt off Athens! For a fine fleet it is, sir, and we'll burn it,
too, and build the Czar another (for his money, of course), and a fine
one; and if that new fleet shews its nose in British waters, why, d--n
me--that's all! What fun to see these vessels launched for the Russian
service! That's what they all think, except the Ambassador and the
Consul, and that's the reason they cheer away with such hearty good
will. Just look at that old tar on the other side. He thinks of boarding
her one of these fine days, eh! Well turned in the waist, eh?'"

"O well turned English ethics!" said Dr. Keif with a deep sigh, as he
stood with folded hands, looking up to heaven. "Do you think, Mr.
Baxter, that Germany too will have the good fortune to get vessels from
the English dockyards in consideration of certain moneys well and truly
paid, and on the strength of similar cosmopolitan principles?"

"Why not? Though for the present we do all we can to prevent the
building altogether. That's the strong side of our diplomacy. But take
my word for it, if you order the vessels, and pay for them, you shall
have them, and they shall be burnt down to the water's edge on the very
first occasion. You have a good stock of sailors on your Baltic and
Eastern coasts, and with respect to you we had better keep a sharp
look-out."

"Thanks for the compliment," replied the Doctor. "I'll report your words
to the First Lord of our Admiralty, whenever that high functionary, as
yet unborn, shall have come to years of discretion."

Dr. Keif said these words with a bitter smile, and stooping down to pick
up a piece of biscuit which a small boy had dropped, he overturned a
still smaller girl who was standing by his side, and with the cigar
which he held in his hand he burnt the hand of a lady near him, to the
intense disgust of that respectable female, who vented her feelings in a
piercing, scream. The Doctor, frightened and confused, made a leap
backwards, and alighted with wonderful precision on Mr. Baxter's left
foot, the very foot in which it is suspected our aged friend has felt
some slight twinges of gout, and, to add to the learned philosopher's
discomfiture, a gust of wind blew his hat off his head, and lodged it
safely on a large newspaper which a fat old gentleman was reading. The
biscuit, meanwhile, had been eaten by an Italian greyhound; the small
boy screamed, and the small girl screamed; the fat old gentleman
expressed his indignation--some people are _so_ awkward! the lady rubbed
her hand; and even Mr. Baxter's temper was slightly ruffled. "You see,
gentlemen," said that amiable man, "the consequences of a mere mention
of the German fleet on board an English vessel."

That inevitable personage who haunts all steamers--the man with the
little book who takes the passage-money from those who are without
tickets, has at length found us out. His appearance puts a stop to all
acrimonious remarks.

Here is Greenwich, and here is the façade and the cupola of the sailor's
hospital, with a semicircle of wooded hills in the background. We have
left the fog behind us in London, and the evening sun looks out from the
clouds as if he would say--"I am alive and in health, for all that the
Londoners believe me to be ailing or in _articulo mortis_." Our boat
rushes past the "Dreadnought"--we touch the shore--the engines are
stopped--we are at our journey's end.

We stand on the beautiful terrace in front of the Hospital, the house in
which Queen Elizabeth loved to dwell, and here at this very spot her
courtiers used to take their walks. Their gold embroidered cloaks are
gone, and in their stead you see long blue brass-buttoned coats on the
mutilated or decrepid bodies of old sailors. A blue coat, a white
neckcloth, shoes, white stockings, and a large three-cornered hat with
gold lace--that is the uniform of the Invalids, who pass the evening of
their lives in this delightful place.

Greenwich Hospital presents the most beautiful architectural group of
modern England. Take the most gifted architect of the world, bandage his
eyes, put him on the terrace on which we stand, and then show him this
splendid building, and he will at once tell you that this is and must be
a royal palace. How could he ever suspect that all this splendour of
columns and cupolas is destined to shelter a couple of thousand of poor,
decrepid sailors! But that it does shelter them is honorable to the
founders and to the English nation.

Go to Germany, enquire in the largest and most powerful states what they
have done for their disabled soldiers. There is an Hotel of Invalides at
Vienna; for Austria, too, has her mutilated living monuments of the
Napoleonic wars and the wars against Hungary. But compare that Austrian
_Invalidenhaus_ with this asylum for British sailors. A low, unwholesome
site, courtyards alike inaccessible to sunlight and air, cloistered
corridors, bare, uncomfortable chambers, vast, chilly saloons, and a
population of old soldiers stinted even in the common necessaries of
life. It is a great piece of good luck for such a pensioner to obtain
the post of watchman in one of the Emperor's parks, where, for a few
more florins per annum, he has the privilege of waging war against dogs
and ragged little boys. Go to Prussia, that military kingdom, look about
in that splendid city of Berlin, and do not for mercy's sake refuse your
penny to those old men, in shabby uniforms with medals dangling from
their button-holes, who hold out their caps with one hand while they
grind old rickety organs with the other--if indeed they have two hands
left! These are the veterans who made Prussia great and powerful. In
return for their services, they have the inestimable privilege of
begging pence from travelling Englishmen.

In those days of Corsican tribulations, England too sent her forces to
the battle-fields of the continent. England fought, not only with
subsidies, but with her armies and her fleets. Thus much is clearly
shown, not only by history, not only by the monuments which have been
erected in honor of the Duke of Wellington, but still more by the two
great hospitals of Greenwich and Chelsea.

Those two hospitals, devoted to the disabled heroes of the navy and
army, give incontestable proof of the grateful kindliness of feeling
with which the English nation honors its old soldiers. England treats
her cripples as a mother would her sick and ailing children. The
architectural splendours of Greenwich Hospital are by no means destined
to hide poverty and misery within. The gates are open. You may walk
through the refectories, the kitchens, the sitting and sleeping rooms.
Wait until the "old gentlemen" sit down to their dinner, eat a

[Illustration: THE GREENWICH PENSIONERS.

p. 150.]

slice of their meat, smoke a pipe of their tobacco, take a pinch from
one of their snuff-boxes, admire the irreproachable whiteness of their
cravats, take a seat at their side on the green benches which stand on
the smooth lawn from whence they view the Thames, its sails, masts, and
flags, the cherished scenes of their early career. Talk to them. They
like to fight their battles over again in conversation, and will tell
you whether they have to complain of the ingratitude of their country,
and which is best (no matter how disgusted our German enthusiasts would
be at the mere idea), to be paid so and so much per limb, or to starve
on the general dietary of an Austrian _Invalidenhaus_, or rot in the
streets of Berlin on an annual allowance which would hardly suffice to
find a Greenwich pensioner in tobacco and snuff.

All round the hospital, and indeed in its immediate vicinity, there are
strange scenes of life, such as are not unfrequently met with in
England. A few yards lower down the stream stands, in aristocratic
exclusiveness, the Trafalgar Hotel, which I beg to recommend to every
one who wishes to pay for a dinner twice the amount which would suffice
to feed an Irish family for a whole week. If you like to take your
dinner with people who hail the sensation of hunger as the harbinger of
enjoyment, you had better enter this hotel and remain there for a few
hours. The wines of the Trafalgar, like the Lethe of old, wash away the
cares of the past; for it is here that, according to an ancient custom,
Her gracious Majesty's ministers meet after the parliamentary session.
They drink sherry and champagne, and thank their stars that there are no
more awkward questions to answer.

As a contrast to this luxuriant hotel, we see, on the other side of the
hospital, partly along the shore, partly near the park, and in the
interior of sundry lanes and alleys a vast number of pot-houses,
tea-gardens, and places of a worse description, where every vice finds a
ready welcome. Boys and girls standing at the doors, invite the passing
stranger. "Good accommodation. Very good accommodation, sir." We know
what that means, and go our way. But that young fellow in the sailor's
jacket, with the girl hanging on his arm; they are caught! They enter
the house.

Forward to the green, leafy, hilly park! On the large grass-plots whole
families are stretched out in picturesque groups, from the grandfather
down to the grandsons and grand-daughters, and along with them there are
friends, country-cousins, maid-servants, and lap-dogs with a proud and
supercilious air, for they know, sagacious little animals, that their
owners are continually paying dog-tax for them. This is Monday, the
Englishman's Sunday. There they are chatting, laughing, and even getting
up and dancing, eating their cold dinners with a good appetite and a
thorough enjoyment of sunshine, air, and river-breeze, and they are all
cheerful, decent, and happy, as simple-minded men and women are wont to
be on a holiday and on the forest-green. And the deer, half-tame, come
out of the thicket and ask for their share of the feast, and we go our
way up the hill lest we disturb the children and the deer.

From the top of the hill we look down upon one of the most charming
landscapes that can be imagined in the vicinity of a large capital. That
ocean of houses in the distance, shifting and partly hidden in the mist;
the docks with their forests of masts, the Thames itself winding its way
to the sea, green, hilly country on our side, with the white steam of a
distant train curling up from the deep cuttings; and at our feet,
Greenwich with its columns, cupolas, and neat villas peeping out from
among shrubberies and orchards.

We share the hill on which we stand with the famous Greenwich
observatory. Probably the building has a better appearance than it had
at the time when Flamstead, with generous self-denial, established the
first sextant on this spot. But even in our days, the exterior of the
building is by no means imposing. Here, then, we stand on the first
meridian of England. The country's pride has, up to the present time,
retained it here, while the French established their meridian at Paris.
But the communistic spirit of science undermines the existence of
either, and the Greenwich meridian will not, I am sure, resist the
spirit of the age. It will sooner or later resign its pretensions in
favour of the chosen of all nations.

The road from the observatory to the back-gate of the park leads through
an avenue of old chesnut-trees. They are in a flourishing condition,
and the chesnuts are quite as good as those of Italy and southern
France. Among these trees stands the official residence of the Ranger of
Greenwich-park,--a nobleman or gentleman whose duty it is, in
consideration of six or eight hundred pounds per annum, to pass a few
summer months in this delightful retreat, and to supply Her Majesty's
table with a haunch of venison once every twelvemonth. The post is a
sinecure, one of those places which every one inveighs against, and
which every one would be glad to possess.

We have crossed the park, and are on Blackheath,--a sunny place, which
derives its gloomy name from the Gipsies who used to be encamped upon it
in the "days of auld lang syne." Neat villas, covered with evergreens,
surround this black heath, and a hundred roads and paths invite us to
stroll on and on, through garden-land and park-like domains. We resist
the temptation. The sun has gone down. We return to the Thames and take
a steamer to Blackwall on the opposite coast.

The breeze, the park, and the walk have made us hungry; and thus it
happens that, very much against our will, we find ourselves seated at a
table which three solemn-looking gentlemen in black dress-coats and
white cravats are busily loading with a number of large and small
dishes. Each of these dishes--thus English custom willed it--is
surmounted by a cover of polished silver, or at least a metallic
composition which looks like silver, and each contains some sort of
fish. Lovegrove's Hotel has these many years past been famous for its
fish dinners, and the fame is well deserved. Nowhere, except perhaps at
Antwerp, does a gourmand find so vast a field for the study of this
particular department of his favourite science. But more charming than
the most delicious eels, mackerel, salmon, soles, and whitebait, is the
view from the dining-room.

It is night. We "take the cars," as they say in America, and rattle on,
over the houses, canals, and streets, to the City. It took us just
fifteen minutes to go all the distance.



CHAP. II.

The Theory of Locomotion.

     WHEN DOCTORS DISAGREE, ETC.--CLIMATIC VARIETIES OF
     LONDON.--LOCOMOTION.--ITS MODES AND DIFFICULTIES.--RULES AND
     REGULATIONS FOR PEDESTRIANS.--CARRIAGES.--CAB-LAW AND
     LAWLESSNESS.--CABMEN AND WATERMEN.--NOTES OF AN OMNIBUS
     PASSENGER.--DRIVERS AND CONDUCTORS.--STAGE-COACHES.--METROPOLITAN
     RAILWAYS.


"What a dreadful fog there is to-day!"

"Nothing of the kind, Madam. Cloudy and wet, perhaps, and a little
misty; but a fog--no Madam, that haze is not a fog. Fogs are yellow and
black; in a fog, the carriages and foot-passengers run against one
another. It hurts your eyes, and takes away your breath; it keeps one in
doors. But this is not what a Londoner would call a fog."

"Is it not indeed, Doctor. Well, then, I must prepare myself for a worse
condition than I am now in, low and out of health as I feel."

"Of course," says the Doctor, feeling the fair stranger's pulse. "Have I
not told your husband again and again"----

"Are you again harping at the old theme?"

"I am; and I mean to persist until you follow my advice, Madam," replied
the Doctor, with great unction. "You ought not to live in this part of
the town, the air kills you. You must go and live in Brompton; that's
what every London physician will tell you. This part of the town is too
bleak and cold for you."

We leave the old Doctor to descant on the vast climatic difference
between Regent's Park and Brompton, while we inform the geographers
among our German readers of the whereabouts of the latter place.
Brompton, then, was at one time a small village in the South-west,
between Hyde Park and the Thames. It has, however, these many years lost
its separate existence, and been swallowed up by the metropolis, just as
many larger places around London have been swallowed up before and
since; and Brompton, at the present time, is as much a part of London as
Holborn and Islington. The idea of the immense area which is covered by
this gigantic town may be approximatively realised from the fact, that
many learned physicians discuss the climatic differences of various
parts of the town exactly as if they were comparing the climates of
Italy and Germany. Expressions, such as "I live in the North," or, "I
have taken a house in the West," are common-place and appropriate. This
idea of colossal extension ought to be well considered and fully
realised by those who wish to understand London life in all its various
phases. But, in spite of all divisions into North and South, and East
and West, the London of our days is, nevertheless, one single compact
town; he who inhabits it must be prepared to go many miles to see a
friend or to follow up his business, whatever that business may be. A
Londoner loses one-half of his life in locomotion; he would lose more,
if his ordinary and extraordinary town travels were not regulated
according to some tried and practical theory.

The necessity of expeditious and cheap locomotion in the streets of
London has called forth a variety of methods of travelling. The
cheapest, simplest, oldest, and most natural of them is _walking_. In
the narrow and crowded streets of the City, where conveyances make but
little progress, this method is certainly the safest, and, withal, the
most expeditious. Strangers in London are not fond of walking, they are
bewildered by the crowd, and frightened at the crossings; they complain
of the brutal conduct of the English, who elbow their way along the
pavement without considering that people who hurry on, on some important
business or other, cannot possibly stop to discuss each kick or push
they give or receive. A Londoner jostles you in the street, without ever
dreaming of asking your pardon; he will run against you, and make you
revolve on your own axis, without so much as looking round to see how
you feel after the shock; he will put his foot upon a lady's foot or
dress, exactly as if such foot or dress were integral parts of the
pavement, which ought to be trodden upon; but if he runs you down, if he
breaks your ribs, or knocks out your front teeth, he will show some
slight compunction, and as he hurries off, the Londoner has actually
been known to turn back and beg your pardon.

Of course all this is very unpleasant to the stranger, and the more
delicate among the English themselves do not like it. None but men of
business care to walk through the City at business hours; but if, either
from choice or necessity, you find your way into those crowded quarters,
you had better walk with your eyes wide open. Don't stop on the
pavement, move on as fast you can, and do as the others do, that is to
say, struggle on as best you may, and push forward without any false
modesty. The passengers in London streets are hardened; they give and
receive kicks and pushes with equal equanimity.

Much less excusable is the kicking and pushing of the English public at
their theatres, museums, railway stations, and other places of public
resort. Nothing but an introduction to every individual man and woman in
the three kingdoms will save you from being, on such occasions, pushed
back by them. You have not been introduced to them; you are a stranger
to them, and there is no reason why they should consult your
convenience. The fact is, the English are bears in all places, except in
their own houses; and only those who make their acquaintance in their
dens, know how amiable, kind, and mannerly they really are.

You cannot lounge about in the streets of London. Those who would walk,
should go at once to the parks, or parade some square. The loungers you
see in Regent Street and its purlieus, are foreigners, chiefly French,
as their hirsute appearance clearly shows. An Englishman likes that sort
of thing on the Boulevards of Paris, or St. Mark's Place, at Venice; but
in his own country he wants the scenery, the climate, the excitement,
and the opportunities. A thousand various interests draw him back to his
family circle. Though accustomed to the Continent, and its manners and
customs, the moment the traveller returns to England, he takes to
English customs and English prejudices, and, in the fulness of his
British pride, he is very careful lest his appearance and conduct show
traces of his residence in foreign countries. The Germans do exactly the
contrary.

He who would economise his time and strength, had better keep his
carriage--if he can afford it; there are plenty on sale, and of the best
of their kind. But the expense of keeping a carriage and horses is by
far greater than in any other capital; the wages of the coachman, and
the hire of the stabling, etc., are so enormous. And, besides, there is
the Chancellor of the Exchequer holding out his hat, for all the world
like one of those greedy Irish beggars, asking you to pay duty for the
carriage and the horses; for the coachman and his livery; for the
servant who stands behind the carriage, and that servant's livery; for
the powder he has on his head; for the cane he holds in his hand; for
the high box-seat, the hammercloth, and the armorial bearings which are
embroidered on it--provided, always, it is your pleasure to indulge in
these aristocratic luxuries. Those are the taxes on luxuries, of which
there are plenty in this country; and so there ought to be. No duty is
paid for tradesmen's carts and vans, if the owner's name and address is
plainly written on them; and the tradesmen, who turn everything to
advantage, write their names very plainly on their carts and vans, and
send them out into the streets to advertise their firms. These
tradesmen's carts are the most numerous and conspicuous among the
countless vehicles, which pass to and fro in London streets. There is
scarcely a shop which has not its cart or van. Of course the grocers
have vans, for they send their goods to any distance within ten miles;
and so do the bakers, butchers, fishmongers, and greengrocers. They
can't help it, for if they were to confine their operations to their
immediate neighbourhood, they would soon be crushed by competition. A
London tradesman, who deals in articles of daily consumption, had better
not try to walk. The very lad who sells odds and ends of meat for the
convenience of Metropolitan cats and dogs, has a meat cart, and a clever
pony; and on the cart there is a splendid legend, in gold letters
"_Dog's and Cat's Meat_." The retailer of such wretched stuff, would
starve in a smaller town; in London he has to keep his horse and cart,
and makes a capital living, as they tell me. And on Sunday, when dogs
and cats have to live on the stores that were taken in on Saturday, the
lad takes his "fancy gal" for a drive into the country, with the legend
of "Dog's and Cat's Meat," flaming brightly behind.

The next great branch of the Metropolitan conveyance system, is that of
the carriages which ply for hire, with or without a number. The latter,
in all their leading features, are similar to the carriages of all the
Continental capitals. They are taken by the hour, by the day, week,
month, or year. Chief among the former are the London cabs.

"Live and learn," ought to be the motto of the student of London
cab-ology. No mortal could ever boast of having mastered the subject.
There is no want of police regulations, and of patriots to enforce them;
but still the cabmen form a class of British subjects, who, for all they
are labelled, booked, and registered, move within a sphere of their own,
beyond the pale of the law. The Commissioners of Police have drawn up
most elaborate regulations concerning cabs; they have clearly defined
what a cab ought to be, but the London cabs are exactly what they ought
not to be. The faults of these four-wheeled instruments of torture can
never sufficiently be complained of. Not only do they shorten the honest
old English mile; but they bear a strong family-likeness to the Berlin
droshkies. If the horse is wanted, it is sure to be eating; if the cabby
is wanted, he is equally sure to be drinking. If you would put the
window down, you cannot move it; if it is down, and you would put it up,
you find that the glass is broken. The straw-covered bottom of the cab
has many crevices, which let in wind and dust; the seats feel as if they
were stuffed with broken stones; the check-string is always broken; the
door won't shut; or if shut, it won't open: in short (we make no mention
of the horse), to discover the faults of a London cab is easy; to point
out its good qualities is, what I for one, have never been able to
achieve.

Whenever a stranger is bold enough to hail a cab, not one, but half a
dozen come at once, obedient to his call; and the eagerness the drivers
display is truly touching. They secure their whips, descend from their
high places, and surround the stranger with many a wink and many a
chuckle, to learn what he wants, and to "make _game_ of him."

Supposing the stranger speaks the English language fluently enough to
make himself understood, of course he will name the place to which he
wishes to go, and ask what they will take him for. He may rely on it,
that of any conclave of cabmen, each one will demand, at least, double
the amount of his legal fare. He demurs to the proposal, whereupon the
six cabmen mount their boxes forthwith, return to their stand in the
middle of the road, and indulge in jocular remarks on "foreigners," and
"Frenchmen" in general. Blessed is that foreigner, if his studies of the
English language have been confined to Byron, Thackeray, and Macaulay,
for in that case he remains in happy ignorance of all the "good things"
that are said at his expense. The retreat, however, was merely a feint;
a few skirmishers advance again, and waylay the stranger. Again, and
again, do they inquire, "what he will give?" They turn up the whites of
their eyes, shrug their shoulders, make offers confidently, and decline
propositions scornfully, and go on haggling and demonstrating until one
of them comes to terms, and drives off with the victim.

But is there no legal scale of fares? Of course there is, but with the
enormous extent of London it was impossible to establish a general fare
for each "course" according to the cab regulations of the German,
French, and Italian towns. A certain sum, say one shilling for each
drive, would have wronged either the passenger or the driver. To get rid
of the dilemma the fare was fixed at eight-pence per mile. But who can
tell how many miles he has gone in a cab? A stranger of course cannot be
expected to possess an intimate knowledge of places and distances. An
old Londoner only may venture to engage in a topographic and geometrical
disputation with a cabman, for gentlemen of this class are not generally
flattering in their expressions or conciliating in their arguments; and
the cheapest way of terminating the dispute is to pay and have done with
the man. As a matter of principle the cabman is never satisfied with his
legal fare; even those who know the town, and all its ways, must at
times appeal to the intervention of a policeman or give their address to
the driver, not, indeed, for the purpose of fighting a duel with him,
but that he may, if he choose, apply to the magistrate for protection.
But it is a remarkable fact, that the cabmen of London are by no means
eager to adopt the latter expedient.

The Hansom Cabs, which of late years have been exported to Paris and
Vienna, are generally in a better condition than the four-wheeled
vehicles; but their drivers are to the full as exacting and impertinent
as their humbler brethren of the whip. To do them justice, if they are
exorbitant in their demands, they at least are satisfactory in their
performance. They go at a dashing pace whenever they have an open space
before them, and they are most skilful in winding and edging their light
vehicles through the most formidable knots of waggons and carriages. The
"Hansom" man is more genteel and gifted than the vulgar race of cabmen;
he is altogether smarter (in more than one sense) and more dashing,
daring, and reckless.

When cabby returns to his stand, he drops the reins, chats with his
comrades, recounts his adventures, and "fights his battles o'er again,"
or he lights his pipe and disappears for a while in the mysterious
recesses of a pothouse. His horse and carriage are meanwhile left to the
care of an unaccountable being, who on such occasions pops out from some
hiding-place, wall-niche, or cellar. This creature appears generally in
the shape of a dirty, ricketty, toothless, grey-haired man; he is a
_servus servorum_, the slave of the cabmen, commonly described as a
"waterman." For it was he who originally supplied the water for the
washing of the vehicles. In the course of time, however, his functions
have extended, and the waterman is now all in all to the cab-stand. He
cleans the cabs, minds the horses, attends to the orders of passengers,
opens and shuts the doors, and fetches and carries to the cabstand
generally tobacco, pipes, beer, gin, _billets-doux_, and other articles
of common consumption and luxury; in consideration for which services,
he is entitled to the gratuity of one penny on account of each "fare";
and he manages to get another penny from the "fare" as a reward for the
alacrity and politeness with which he opens the door. But further
particulars of this mysterious old man we are unable to give. No one
knows where he lives; no one, not even Mr. Mayhew, has as yet been able
to ascertain where and at what hours he takes his meals. At two o'clock
in the morning he may be seen busy with his pails, and at five or six
o'clock you may still observe him at his post, leaning against the area
railings of some familiar public-house. But the early career of the man,
his deeds and misdeeds, joys and sufferings, before he settled down as
waterman to a cab-stand--these matters are a secret of the Guild, and
one which is most rigorously preserved. Poor, toothless, old man! The
penny we give thee will surely find its way to the gin-shop, but can we
be obdurate enough to refuse giving it, since a couple of those coins
will procure for thee an hour's oblivion?

We turn to the omnibuses, the principal and most popular means of
locomotion in London. And here we beg to inform our German friends, that
those classes of English society whose members are never on any account
seen at the Italian Opera, and who consume beer in preference to wine,
and brandy in preference to beer, affect a sort of pity, not unmixed
with contempt, for those who go the full length of saying "Omnibus." The
English generally affect abbreviations; and the word "bus" is rapidly
working its way into general acceptation, exactly as in the case of the
word "cab," which is after all but an abbreviation of "cabriolet."

Among the middle classes of London, the omnibus stands immediately after
air, tea, and flannel, in the list of the necessaries of life. A
Londoner generally manages to get on without the sun; water he drinks
only in case of serious illness, and even then it is qualified with "the
ghost of a drop of spirits." Certain other articles of common use and
consumption on the Continent, such as passports, vintage-feasts,
expulsion by means of the police, _cafés_, cheap social amusements, are
entirely unknown to the citizens of London. But the Omnibus is a
necessity; the Londoner cannot get on without it; and the stranger, too,
unless he be very rich, has a legitimate interest in the omnibus, whose
value he is soon taught to appreciate.

The outward appearance of the London omnibus, as compared to similar
vehicles on the Continent, is very prepossessing. Whether it be painted
red as the Saints' days in the Almanack, or blue as a Bavarian soldier,
or green as the trees in summer, it is always neat and clean. The horses
are strong and elegant; the driver is an adept in his art; the conductor
is active, quick as thought, and untiring as the _perpetuum mobile_.
But all this cannot, I know, convey an idea of "life in an omnibus." We
had better hail one and enter it, and as our road lies to the West, we
look out for a "Bayswater."

We are at the Whitechapel toll-gate, a good distance to the East of the
Bank. From this point, a great many omnibuses run to the West; and among
the number is the particular class of Bayswater omnibuses one of which
we have entered. It is almost empty, the only passengers being two
women, who have secured the worst seats in the furthermost corners,
probably because they are afraid of the draught from the door. The
omnibus is standing idly at the door of a public-house, its usual
starting-place. The driver and conductor have been bawling and jumping
about, especially the latter, and they are now intent upon "refreshing"
themselves. The horses look a little the worse for the many journeys
they have made since the morning. Never mind! this omnibus will do as
well as any other, and we prepare to secure places on the outside.

But before we ascend, let us look at the ark which is to bear us through
the deluge of the London streets. It is an oblong square box, painted
green, with windows at the sides, and a large window in the door at the
back. The word "BAYSWATER" is painted in large golden letters on the
green side panels, signifying that the vehicle will not go beyond "that
bourn," and also furnishing a name for the whole species. A great many
omnibuses are in this manner named after their chief stations. There are
Richmonds, Chelseas, Putneys, and Hammersmiths. Others again luxuriate
in names of a more fantastic description, and the most conspicuous among
them are the Waterloos, Nelsons, Wellingtons, Taglionis, Atlases, etc.
One set of omnibuses is named after the "_Times_"; others, such as the
"Crawford's," are named after their owners.

The generic name of the omnibus shines, as we have said, in large golden
letters on the side panels; but this is not by any means the only
inscription which illustrates the omnibus. It is covered all over with
the names of the streets it touches in its course. Thus has the London
omnibus the appearance of a monumental vehicle, one which exists for the
sake of its inscriptions. It astonishes and puzzles the stranger in his
first week of London life; he gazes at the omnibus in a helpless state
of bewilderment. The initiated understand the character of an omnibus at
first sight; but the stranger shrugs his shoulders with a sigh, for
among this conglomeration of inscriptions, he is at a loss to find the
name and place he wants.

But to the comfort of my countrymen be it said, that the study of
omnibus-law is not by any means so difficult as the study of cab-law.
Practice will soon make them perfect; still we would warn them not to be
too confident. Many a German geographer, with all the routes from the
Ohio to the Euxine engraven in his memory, has taken his place in an
omnibus, and gone miles in the direction of Stratford, while he, poor
man, fondly imagined he was going to Kensington. Even the greatest
caution cannot prevent a ludicrous mistake now and then; and the
stranger who would be safe had better consult a policeman, or inform the
conductor of the exact locality to which he desires to go. In the worst
case, however, nothing is lost but a couple of hours and pence.

While we have been indulging in these reflections, the number of
passengers has increased. There is a woman with a little boy, and that
boy _will_ not sit decently, but insists on kneeling on the seat, that
he may look out of the window. An old gentleman has taken his seat near
the door; he is a prim old man, with a black coat and a white cravat.
There is also a young girl, a very neat one too, with a small bundle.
Possibly she intends calling on some friends on the other side of the
town; she proposes to pass the night there, and has taken her measures
accordingly. A short visit certainly is not worth the trouble of a long
omnibus journey. Thus there are already six inside passengers, for the
little boy, who is not a child in arms, is a "passenger," and his fare
must be paid as such. The box-seat, too, has been taken by two young
men; one of them smokes, and the other, exactly as if he had been at
home, reads the police reports in to-day's "_Times_."

Stop! another passenger! a man with an opera-hat, a blue, white-spotted
cravat, with a corresponding display of very clean shirt-collar, coat of
dark green cloth, trousers and waistcoat of no particular colour; his
boots are well polished, his chin is cleanly shaved; his whiskers are of
respectable and modest dimensions. There is a proud consciousness in the
man's face, an easy, familiar carelessness in his movements as he
ascends. He takes his seat on the box, and looks to the right and left
with a strange mixture of _hauteur_ and condescension, as much as to
say: "You may keep your hats on, gentlemen." He produces a pair of stout
yellow gloves; he seizes the reins and the whip--by Jove! it's the
driver of the omnibus!

Immediately after him there emerges from the depths of the public-house
another individual, whose bearing is less proud. He is thin, shabbily
dressed, and his hands are without gloves. It is the conductor. He
counts the inside passengers, looks in every direction to find an
additional "fare," and takes his position on the back-board. "All
right!" the driver moves the reins; the horses raise their heads; and
the omnibus proceeds on its journey.

The street is broad. There is plenty of room for half a dozen vehicles,
and there are not many foot-passengers to engage the conductor's
attention. He is at liberty to play some fantastic tricks to vary the
monotony of his existence; he jumps down from his board and up again; he
runs by the side of the omnibus to rest his legs, for even running is a
recreation compared to standing on that board. He makes a descent upon
the pavement, lays hands on the maid of all work that is just going home
from the butcher's, and invites her to take a seat in the "bus." He
spies an elderly lady waiting at the street-corner; he knows at once
that she is waiting for an omnibus, but that she cannot muster
resolution to hail one. He addresses and secures her. Another
unprotected female is caught soon after, then a boy, and after him
another woman. Our majestic coachman is meanwhile quite as active as his
colleague. He is never silent, and shouts his "Bank! Bank!
Charing-cross!" at every individual passenger on the pavement. Any spare
moments he may snatch from this occupation are devoted to his horses. He
touches them up with the end of his whip, and exhorts them to courage
and perseverance by means of that peculiar sound which holds the middle
between a hiss and a groan, and which none but the drivers of London
omnibuses can produce.

In this manner we have come near the crowded streets of the city. The
seat at our back is now occupied by two Irish labourers, smoking
clay-pipes, and disputing in the richest of brogues, which is better,
Romanism without whiskey, or Protestantism with the desirable addition
of that favourite stimulant. There is room for two more passengers
inside and for three outside.

Our progress through the city is slow. There are vehicles before us,
behind us, and on either side. We are pulling up and turning aside at
every step. At the Mansion-house we stop for a second or two, just to
breathe the horses and take in passengers. This is the heart of the
city, and, therefore, a general station for those who wish to get into
or out of an omnibus. These vehicles proceed at a slow pace, and take up
passengers, but they are compelled to proceed by the policeman on duty,
who has strict instructions to prevent those stoppages which would
invariably result from a congregation of omnibuses in this crowded
locality.

Our particular omnibus gives the policeman no trouble, for it is full,
inside and out, and this important fact having been notified to the
driver, the reins are drawn tight, the whip is laid on the horses'
backs, and we rush into the middle of crowded Cheapside. Three tons,
that is to say, 60 cwt., is the weight of a London omnibus when full,
and with these 60 cwts. at their backs, the two horses will run about a
dozen English miles without the use of the whip, cheered only now and
then by the driver's hiss. And with all that they are smooth and round
and in good condition; they are not near so heavy as those heavy horses
of Norman build which go their weary pace with the Paris omnibuses, nor
are they such wretched catlike creatures as the majority of the horses
which serve a similar purpose in Germany. Their harness is clean; on the
continent it might pass for elegant. Although fiery when in motion, they
never lay aside that gentleness of temper which is peculiar to the
English horses. A child might guide them; they obey even the slightest
movement of the reins; nay, more, an old omnibus-horse understands the
signals and shouts of the conductor. It trots off the moment he gives
that stunning blow on the roof of the omnibus, which, in the jargon of
London conductors, means: "Go on if you please;" and the word "stop"
will arrest it in the sharpest trot.

But for the training and the natural sagacity of those animals, it would
be impossible for so many omnibuses to proceed through the crowded city
streets at the pace they do, without an extensive smashing of carriages,
and a great sacrifice of human life resulting therefrom. We communicated
our impressions on this subject to the omnibus driver, and were much
pleased to find our opinion corroborated by the authority of that
dignitary.

"The city," said he, "is a training-school for carriage-osses and for
any gent as would learn to drive. As for a man who is'nt thoroughly up
to it, I'd like to see him take the ribbons, that's all! 'specially with
a long heavy 'bus behind and two osses as is going like blazes in front.
I see many a country fellow in my time as funky as can be, and sweating,
cause why? he feeled hisself in a fix. And an oss, too, as has never
been in the city afore, gets giddy in his head, and all shaky-like, and
weak on his legs. But it's all habit, that's what it is with men and
osses."

Well! our _man_ and our "osses" are accustomed to the confusion and the
turmoil which surrounds us. With the exception of a few short stoppages,
which are unavoidable in these crowded streets, we proceed almost at a
giddy pace round St. Paul's, down the steep of Ludgate Hill, and up
through Fleet Street and Temple Bar. We are in the "Strand"; and here we
are less crowded, and proceed at a still more rapid pace, with twelve
inside and nine outside passengers, making the respectable total of
one-and-twenty men and women. More than this number it is illegal to
cram into an omnibus. That vehicle is among the few places in England
where you come into immediate contact with Englishmen without the
formality of a previous introduction. Parliament, which has to provide
not only for Great Britain, Ireland, and the town of Berwick upon-Tweed,
but also for a considerable portion of Africa, America, Asia, and the
whole of Australia--whose duty it is to keep a sharp eye on the Germanic
Confederation, the French Empire, the Papal See, the Oriental question,
and a great many similar nuisances; and which, over and above all these
important avocations, has to adjourn for the Easter recess and the Epsom
races--though thus overwhelmed with business still the English
Parliament has found time to pass some salutary laws for the proper
regulation and management of omnibuses, to prevent the over-crowding of
those useful vehicles, and to ensure regularity, politeness, and honesty
on the part of the drivers and conductors. The laws with respect to
omnibuses are few in number; but they work well, and suffice to secure
the passengers in those vehicles against insult and imposition. As,
however, accidents _will_ happen, so it may now and then come to pass
that a stranger, or a genteel and ignorant female is cheated, and
induced to pay the sum of threepence over and above the legal fare; but
in these cases it will generally be found, that the passenger might have
prevented the imposition, if he or she had condescended to enquire of
some other passenger as to the exact amount of the fare. Such questions
are always readily answered, and every one is eager to give the stranger
the information he requires.

On the Continent, it is generally asserted that the English are haughty
and shy, that they will not answer if a question is put to them; and
that, especially to foreigners, they affect silence, incivility, and
even rudeness. There is no truth whatever in such assertions. Any one,
whose good or ill fortune it is to make frequent omnibus journeys, will
find that the notion of English rudeness, like many other Continental
notions, is but a vulgar error. It is true that no fuss or ceremony is
made about the stowing away of legs, that an unintentional kick is not
generally followed by a request for ten thousand pardons; but, in my
opinion, there is a good deal of natural politeness in this neglect of
hollow conventional forms, which, after all, may be adopted by the
greatest brute in creation. Why should there be a begging of pardon when
every one is convinced that the kick was accidental, unintentional, and
that no offence was meant? Why should I express my gratitude to the hand
that is held out to me in getting in? The action is kind, but natural,
and does not, in my opinion, call for a verbose recognition. Those who
discover rudeness in the absence of polite phrases, cannot, of course,
but think that the English are brutes. But simple and ingenuous
characters are soon at their ease in English society.

There were no stoppages in the Strand; but at Northumberland House, in
Trafalgar Square, we stop for a minute or two, as at the Mansion House,
to take in and let out passengers. Moving forward again, we go up part
of Pall Mall and the whole length of Regent Street to the upper Circus.
This point is more than half way in the journey from Whitechapel to
Bayswater, and that distance--above five English miles--is, after all,
only a three-penny fare.

Within the last quarter of an hour we have changed our complement of
passengers, and the sky, too, has altered its aspect. Large drops of
rain are falling. The driver produces his oilskin cape, a stout leather
covering is put over his knees, and over those of the box-seat
passengers, whose upper halves are protected by an umbrella. All the
outside passengers, too, produce their umbrellas--for few Londoners
venture to go out without that necessary protection against the
variableness of the climate.

Luckily, however, the shower is over before we have come to Hyde Park
Gate, at the western end of Oxford Street. The sun breaks through the
clouds, as we turn down that splendid street which runs parallel with
the side of the Park. Stately, elegant buildings on our right;
Kensington Gardens, green meadows, and shady trees, on our left. Here we
leave the omnibus, for we cannot resist the temptation of taking a
stroll in these charming gardens. We have made a journey of eight miles.
We have seen life on and in an omnibus, in all its varieties; at least,
as far as it is possible in a single journey; and we pay for the
accommodation the very moderate charge of sixpence.

The London omnibuses, though much abused, are vastly superior to similar
vehicles in other Continental capitals; but still greater, as compared
to the Continental "Post," or "Schnellwagen," is the superiority of
those public vehicles which run in longer or shorter stages across the
country. It is a pity these _stage-coaches_ are being driven off the
road by the superior speed of the railways. They are going out rapidly.
And yet, how glorious it was to ride on the top of one of them! Their
decline destroys all the poesy of travelling amidst the leafy hedge-rows
on the splendid English roads, which are more similar to our park-roads
than to our "Landstrassen." What a wholesome, social, adventurous
pleasure it was, to sit on the outside of a stage-coach with about
twelve travelling companions, male and female, and drawn by four
splendid horses, to skim, as it were, over the smiling garden-like
country. No Englishman, of the olden time, was too rich or too
aristocratic for this mode of travelling; and the occasional driving of
such a stage, and the playing the part of coachman to the public at
large, was among the "noble passions" of the sporting aristocrats of the
time. Since then, the steam-engine has conquered the length and breadth
of the country, and he who would enjoy stage-coach travelling, must go
in quest of it to the outlying parts of England; for instance, to the
Isle of Wight, where the old coach may still be seen in all its glory.
Long may it be so, until, in that island, too, it is compelled to yield
to the improvements of the age!

We have already, in another place, given an account of the Thames
steamers. But in treating of the chief methods of locomotion in London,
we ought not to forget the railroads. They are among the peculiarities
and sights of London, for no other town in the world is so large that
the communications between its various parts are carried on by means of
rails and locomotive engines. Here, where the majority of the termini
are, if not in the centre, according to Mr. Pearson's salutary project,
at least within the town, the railways which communicate with the
interior of the country, and the various seaports, have several stations
in the interior of the town, and passengers are conveyed from one town
station to another. There are, moreover, railways especially intended
for London and the suburbs: among these, are the lines to Greenwich and
Blackwall, which communicate with that extraordinary railroad which,
forming an enormous semicircle, facilitates the communication between
the eastern and the whole of the northern parts of London.

This peripheric line is essentially a London railway; it does not, on
any one point, travel beyond the boundaries of that monster town. It is
laid out between garden-walls and backyards, between roofs and chimneys;
it is bridged over canals and crowded streets, or laid on viaducts for
many miles through the poorer quarters, almost touching the houses, and
passing hard by the windows of the upper stories. In other places,
according to the peculiarities of the ground, the line is carried on
through tunnels under the houses, cellars, sewers, and aqueducts. It is
a miraculous railway, and one which has been constructed at an enormous
outlay of ingenuity and money; but it enables the Londoners to go to the
northern suburbs for sixpence, in a first-class carriage too, and in
less than twenty minutes. There is no cessation in the traffic of this
line; the trains are moving from early morn till late at night; every
quarter of an hour a train is despatched from either terminus, and these
trains stop at all the intermediate stations.

The journeys being so short, and time, speed, and cheapness the chief
objects in view, the railway company have paid little attention to the
comfort of the passengers. And here I ought to add, that with the
exception of greater speed, which, after all, is the main object, all
the English railways are inferior to those of the Continent. In London,
and in short journeys, the want of comfortable carriages and convenient
waiting-rooms is not a very painful infliction; but woe to the wretch
whom fate condemns to go from London to Edinburgh in a second-class
carriage at the express speed of fifty miles per hour! It is true it
takes him but twelve hours to go that enormous distance; but in those
twelve hours he will have ample time and occasion to ponder on the vast
difference of second-class accommodation in England and in Germany!



CHAP. III.

The Quarters of Royalty and Government.

     WHITEHALL, PAST AND PRESENT.--DOWNING STREET.--PARIS AND
     LONDON.--ENGLISH AND FRENCH STATESMEN.--THE DIFFERENCE.--THE
     ADMIRERS OF FRANCE.--ENGLISH RESPECT FOR THE ARISTOCRACY.


Four large streets lead from Trafalgar Square to the East, West, North,
and South. This square (village and garden-ground in the days of Edward
the Confessor) is, in our own days, one of the central points of London
life. Trafalgar Square, which drank the blood and witnessed the agonies
of Hugh Peters, Scrope, Jones, Harrison, and many others, who were
killed in expiation of the execution of Charles I.--where many hundreds
were decapitated, stigmatised, and mutilated, to satisfy the vengeance
of the Stuarts and their adherents--forms, in 1852, the peaceable,
ever-moving, central point, where the roads from the West meet the roads
from the East. Down there, where the equestrian statue of Charles I.
stands, the street leads to Whitehall, Westminster, the Houses of
Parliament, and the Thames. We will walk in that direction; it leads us
to places that are among the grandest and most interesting of which
London, or any other city on the face of the earth, can boast.

We are here--as Leigh Hunt says--within the atmosphere of English
royalty. Each step in this part of the town awakens the strangest
recollections, and reminds one of Wolsey, the gifted, the proud, the
terrible--of Henry, the coarse and cruel--Elizabeth, the cunning and
quarrelsome--James, the pedant and the clown--Charles, the misguided
and melancholic--Cromwell, the harsh and unbending--the contemptible,
dissolute second Charles--and the doubly contemptible, dissolute Stuart,
who succeeded him, and whose Government robbed Whitehall of its glories.
The very air is full of reminiscences of the Tudors and the Stuarts--of
their splendour and feasting--of their intrigues and vulgarities--of
their despotic rule and bloody punishments; and as we walk through the
streets, we cannot divest ourselves of the thought, what a strange and
quaint sight it would be, if those princes, and their ministers and
courtiers, could, for an hour, return to the sunny light of day! What
gravity and merriness, madness and thoughtlessness, guilt, misery, and
ingratitude! Visible and invisible, singly and grouped, here are the
monuments of the history of English royalty, from the downfall of Wolsey
to the downfall of James II. That epoch is grand, important, and
instructive, and a fit study for the kings and nations of our own days.

Whitehall, such as it is in 1852, bears little resemblance to the
Whitehall of 1652.

Wolsey lived in York Palace. He was most vain, fond of splendour,
conceit, and tyranny; but for all that, he was the most remarkable man
among the prelates of England. His palace was the richest booty which
his downfall procured for his master, who at once settled down in it.
Here he married Anna Boleyn; here he died; here did all the great men
meet, who flattered that crowned tiger until he consigned them to the
hands of the executioner, and impaled their heads on London Bridge.
Among them were Cavendish, Thomas Cromwell, and Wolsey. Erasmus, also,
and Hans Holbein, whose low degree alone saved them from sharing the
fate of the king's friends and wives. Among these were the Dukes of
Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earl of Surrey, Sir Thomas Wyatt the poet,
Catharine of Arragon, Anna Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Catharine Howard, Anne
of Cleves, and Catharine Parr, the least unfortunate among these
unfortunate women; and the children that were to wear crowns--Edward,
Mary, and Elizabeth--these were they that passed in and out of York
Palace in the days of Henry VIII.

The spirits of the murdered have probably cast a gloomy shadow on those
golden walls, for after Henry's decease his successors avoided
Whitehall, and Elizabeth was the first to establish her court there. A
change comes over the figures of the past--Cecil and Burleigh, the two
Bacons, Drake and Raleigh, Spenser and Shakespere, Sydney and Lee,
Leicester and Essex, stand before us. And after them James I. and his
darling "Steenie," and Charles I., Cromwell, and--the executioner.

Charles I. was very active in the improvement of Whitehall. Inigo Jones,
the great architect of those days, was employed on it, and Rubens
painted the ornaments of the ceiling, for which he received £3000 and
the honour of knighthood. It is mere calumny, to say that Cromwell, in
puritanic brutality, destroyed the works of art which he found in
Whitehall. On the contrary, he made great exertions to save them; we owe
it to him that the famous cartoons by Raphael may this day be seen at
Hampton Court. But, of course, the Great Protector put a stop to the
dissolute and merry life which formerly ruled in the palace. There was
no end of praying and preaching in Whitehall; the Barebones Parliament
assembled here after the dissolution of the Long Parliament; it was here
that Cromwell refused the crown; and here he died, while a dreadful
thunderstorm convulsed the heavens. His friends said that nature
sympathised with the great man, and his enemies would have it that it
was the devil going off to hell with "Old Noll," his brother.

Richard Cromwell, too, passed his short season of power at Whitehall. He
was followed by Monk, who kept the place for Charles II. But the merry
olden times were gone for ever; they returned not with the dissolute,
gloomy-faced prince, although more money was wasted on the Duchess of
Portsmouth--not to mention His Majesty's other ladies--than ever had
been spent on an English queen.

Evelyn, in his memoirs, thus describes one of the closing scenes of
royal dissipation:--"I can never forget the inexpressible luxury and
prophanenesse, gaming and all dissoluteness, and, as it were, total
forgetfullnesse of God (it being Sunday evening), which this day
se'nnight I was witnesse of, the king sitting and toying with his
concubines--_Portsmouth_, _Cleveland_, and _Mazarine_, etc.; a _French_
boy singing love songs, in that glorious gallery, whilst about twenty of
the greate courtiers, and other dissolute persons, were at _Basset_
round a large table; a bank of at least 2000 in gold before them, upon
which two gentlemen, who were with me, made reflectious with
astonishment. Six days after was all in the dust!"--_Evelyn's Memoirs_,
vol. i. p. 549.

James II. lived here for a few years, until the mass cost him a crown.
His wife fled from the palace on the 6th December, 1688. The king
followed eleven days later; and on the 14th February, 1689, the Prince
of Orange entered the old palace. It was burnt in 1698.

Let not my readers quarrel with this review of the past. Certain
localities are nothing without an occasional glance at the chronicles of
olden times; but with those aids to imagination, the very stones become
gifted with speech, and proclaim the joys and sorrows, the pageants and
horrors which they witnessed in their days.

The remains of Whitehall, like the majority of the buildings which
surround them, have been converted into Government offices. Scotland
Yard is the central office of the London police, and on the other side
of the road is the Admiralty. A little lower down there are two of those
splendid Horse Guards, mounted on black chargers, doing duty at the
offices of the Ministry of War, and guarding the spot where Elizabeth,
in unchaste virginity, and at an advanced and wrinkled age, exacted the
homage of her courtiers as Queen of Beauty. We turn the corner of the
old Banquet-house and enter a blind alley--it is narrow and deserted.
That is Downing Street the famous, where the Colonial and Foreign
Offices guide the destinies of the greater part of the globe. It is a
curious street, small and dingy, beyond the smallness and dinginess of
similar streets at Leipzig, Frankfort, or Prague, and desolate, vacant,
deserted--a fit laboratory for political alchemists. At its further end
is a small mysterious door, the entrance to the Foreign Office, in the
keeping of a red-coated grenadier, with, I doubt not, a couple of
newspaper reporters hidden in his cartridge-box, and intent upon
ascertaining the names of those that enter the office. But the notes,
which the Foreign Office addresses to the Foreign Courts, do not find
their way into the English newspapers--so that even the _Times_ has to
copy them from the German and French journals--and this is owing to the
circumstance, that those who enter or leave the office keep the notes in
their pockets; and that the reporters, though clever, cannot see through
the morocco of portfolios and the wadding of coats. They manage these
matters better in France: a French journalist takes up his quarters in
the reticule of Somebody's lady, or if that cannot be conveniently done,
he places himself under the protection of the said lady's maid. Such
things are of rare occurrence in England, owing to the immoral prejudice
of the islanders respecting the code of morals in matters of politics
and matrimony.

What an amount of idolization have not the German authors of the last
ten years wasted on Paris! How great their enthusiasm even now, in
praise of the men and women of that capital. But if you ask, what the
excellent qualities of Paris really and truly are, they will discourse,
at great length, on the charms of the Boulevards, the gracefulness of
the women, the deep blue of the Paris sky, and the merry, careless,
exciting disposition of the Parisians generally. "Now all this is well
and good," say I to my Paris friend; "and if I understand you, you set
down the Parisians as the A 1. of humanity, because their women are
clever, and because those clever women have very small feet; because the
Boulevards are capital places to lounge in; because Mabile is merrier
than Vauxhall. But as for the blue colour of the sky, allow me, dearest
friend, to remind you of Naples, Spain, Paris, and China, where, as they
say, the skies are much bluer. All those circumstances make a town very
agreeable; but I have yet to learn that they are a fair gauge of the
moral worth of its inhabitants." My Paris friend is silent; but after a
good long pause, he comes forward with some very general phrases,
saying, that there is an unutterable something which embellishes life in
Paris, and that there you live in a world of ideas. There is a good deal
of truth in this general admission. Life in Paris is charming, more
charming than in London and other large towns; but its charms emanate,
in many instances, from the darker sides of the Parisian character; and
it is absurd to say that the people are entitled to our respect for no
other reason, but because we lead a life of pleasure and gaiety in their
city.

Why does London produce so much less agreeable an impression than Paris,
not only on the passing stranger, but also on those who reside here a
considerable length of time? We leave that question for another day. We
are now in Downing Street; and, however gloomy the appearance of that
street may be--perfidious and egotistical as the Downing Street policy
may appear to the Continentals--which, by the bye, proves its popularity
here--we can, at least, say in its favor, that it has, within the last
twenty years, been less open to corruption by means of money and female
politicians, than was the case on the other side of the Channel, in the
country of "la gloire," of blue skies and "unutterable somethings." Of
course the _réunions_ are less interesting; there is not so wide a
margin for intrigue; the ambition of _roturiers_ is kept within the
limits of decency; the fair sex, with all its followers and appendages,
is confined to a narrow sphere of action; and these are the reasons
why--- just as in other matters--English politics have a more sober,
business-like, respectable, and tedious appearance than politics in
France. It is really miraculous that, in a country which is governed by
a Queen, and one who inherited the crown at an early age, there has
never been made mention of court and other intrigues, which influenced
the conduct of public affairs. Say it is merely by accident; say that
such accident is partly owing to the coldness of the blood which runs in
the veins of English women; or, if you please, think of the olden times,
when the women of Whitehall made history in as shameless a manner as any
women in the Tuilleries or Versailles. No matter! It has been reserved
for the 19th century to create a Woman's Court, which excludes all
love-intrigues. Such a thing is impossible in France; and if possible,
the French would not believe it, nor would they put up with it. A
government without female interference, quarrels, and corruption!
Monstrous, at least to the French, who, rather than live under such a
government, would choose to live in an austere Catonian Republic.

The respect for public decency, which in England is sometimes carried to
a ridiculous length, is, nevertheless, of great use for the morality of
the Government. Corruption, indeed, is an important item in English
electioneering tactics; money and drink are lavished on the voters; but
this corruption, however shameless, is confined to the lower classes.
Honourable members, who are very pathetic on the neglected education of
the people, think very little of treating all the inhabitants of their
borough to a preposterous quantity of drink, in order to ensure their
re-election. But the corrupters themselves are not so corruptible as the
men who for the last ten years--for it is not necessary to go back to an
earlier date--held the reins of the government in France. The poor are
now and then bought in England; more frequently they are intimidated;
but in France--the very French confess it--all are venal, from the
highest to the lowest. I am not an admirer of corruption in England; but
I like it better than I do corruption in France. If rottenness there
must be, it had better be partial and one-sided, than a general
corruption of the body politic.

Certainly the small English boroughs, with their electioneering tactics
and venality, are disgusting; but still there is some difference between
the treating and bribing the peasants and small shop-keepers and that
nauseous corruption of all classes of society which is so prevalent in
France, more particularly since the reign of Louis Philippe. In England,
the polling-days have from times immemorial been days of feasting,
drinking, and fighting for the lower classes. The want of political
cultivation, ignorance of the important questions at issue, the
indifference, and, in many instances, the brutality of the lower
classes, make it a matter of small moment to them, whether the barrel of
beer from which they drink at an election is the gift of charity, or the
devil's retaining fee. No hustings without speechifying--no
polling-place without swilling. The witnesses who have been examined by
the Election Committees have generally confessed, that the candidate,
according "to the old established custom," behaved like a
"gentleman"--that he treated the electors to ale and gin, shook hands
with them, gave them money, and hired brass bands for their special
gratification. A melancholy proof this of the neglected condition in
politics and morals of the lower classes in England.

But far more saddening is the spectacle of corruption, which France has
exhibited these many years past. It is not the rude and uncultivated
mass which sins from ignorance of its own abandoned condition;
corruption there extends its sway over the educated, the learned, the
wealthy, the refined. It is the despotism of a cynism of venality, such
as the world never saw since the days of the Roman emperors. The French
aristocracy, the army, the _bourgeoisie_, the church, and the press, are
all in the market. Eloquent morality solicits corruption with the most
impudent eagerness, and drives the hardest bargains. In France
corruption has become the fashion; it is the law, the essence of
politics, and it has almost become a necessity for the attainment of
even honest purposes. The poison pervades all the organs of the body
politic; and ever since the commencement of the first revolution, the
French nation has been convulsed, and caused convulsions among the
neighbouring nations. But never at any one time--no, not among all her
changes--was there a single period, however short, in which personal
liberty obtained that respect which it commands in England. And although
this fact is on record, and though it cannot be contradicted, yet there
are German admirers of France (the majority of them know nothing of
France except the boulevards of Paris), who believe that the French are
the chosen people of liberty, the prophets of the nations, and martyrs
for their political salvation. True, the history of France is
instructive to those who take a warning from it. True the French are a
chosen people; indeed, they are chosen to sound the trumpet of war into
the ears of the nations. But there never was any fortress save one,
which was conquered by the sounding of trumpets--Jericho, in the land
and the age of miracles. Singleness of purpose, and honest perseverance,
these alone can in our days ensure the victory of great principles. But
the sons of France have always been strangers to those two qualities;
and the glory which these can give, they have never coveted. They care
not for substantial liberty, for it not only gives rights, but it
imposes duties also. Freedom is a treasure which requires the most
anxious care; he who neglects it, loses it. France obtained it three
times, and thrice she lost it; and now the French say again--"_Ça ne
durera pas._" But, it is to be hoped, that the phrase will be flung back
again, whenever they shall take it into their heads once more to sound
the trumpet of alarm to the countries of Europe.

England, with all her political and social blemishes, has at least come
to this, that any danger to the personal liberty of her citizens may
almost be considered as an absurd impossibility, while the French are,
as yet, so ignorant of the rudiments of national liberty, that they
still wish for a _strong_ government; that is to say, one which
centralises all the resources, and absorbs all the powers of the State.
The various parties are all agreed on this point; they differ only with
respect to the person who is to preside over this "strong government."
The Legitamists vow that that person must be a Bourbon; the Bonapartists
claim the right, as they have established the fact, in favour of a scion
of the great Emperor; and the Republicans are eloquent in praise of an
elective government; but every one of these partisans reserves to
himself a large prospective share of the loaves and fishes, which, as
all the world knows, are entirely at the disposal of a "strong
government." The ambition of free self-government, which characterises
the English, is altogether unknown to the French. Hence they can die for
liberty, but they cannot live for it.

In drawing a parallel between the darker sides of English and French
politics, I ought not to forget mentioning one important point. In
despite of her free press, the partial degradation of her masses, in
despite of her civic self-government, England is the most aristocratic
country in the world. Whatever modern reformers may strive for or
assert, they cannot deny, nor can they root out, the traditional
veneration of the middle and lower classes for everything and everybody
connected with the nobility. An Englishman, even though he were a
chartist, looks at a scion of the nobility with a very different eye,
than at his neighbour, by the grace of God, citizen of London, or of
Sheffield, or Manchester. A "lord's" presence makes him respectful, even
though the said "lord" had taken too much port wine, A "lady's"
toilette has a mysterious charm for English women, however bad that
"lady's" taste may be. On the continent, too, the aristocracy are looked
up to and imitated and quoted, but not by any means to such an extent as
in England. The continental nations want that ingenuousness of
veneration, that amiable candour which frankly confesses that it "loves
a lord." Add to this that the adoration of a noble pedigree does not
here, as on the continent, move in the sphere of trifles only, which
after all, is, in a manner, excusable. For the wealthy aristocrat is a
privileged person from his cradle; he is a landed proprietor, and he is
not distracted with struggles for sustenance, favour, place, and
fortune. Of course he has leisure to cultivate his taste and form his
manners, and to imitate him in those respects would be a merit, even in
a root and branch democrat. But the Englishman does not stop there. His
desire to imitate the nobility, his craving for titles, make him what is
commonly called "a snob." He has greater respect for a cabinet of
noblemen than for a cabinet of commoners; he cannot imagine a charitable
institution unless it be under the presidency of the Duke of Dumman and
the Earl of Tanitary; he judges the character of a Marquis very
differently from that of any other man. It requires a very long
residence in England and an intimate acquaintance with English society
generally to understand and appreciate this weakness in all its
bearings. But this weakness is the source of very remarkable
monstrosities in the political and social life of England. Their most
salient points and corners, indeed, have given way to the progressive
tendencies of the age. That progress, though slow, is manifest, and its
very slowness is a guarantee against the danger of a relapse.



CHAP. IV.

Westminster.--The Parliament.

     THE ABBEY.--THE HALL.--AN M.P.'S LIFE.--THE NEW HOUSES.--THEIR
     STYLE, CORRIDORS, AND LIBRARIES.--THE SUFFERINGS OF THE
     PUBLIC.--THE SPEAKER.--SIR JOHN AND DR. KEIF IN THE
     GALLERY.--LADIES AND REPORTERS.--THE TABLE OF THE HOUSE.--THE
     SERGEANT-AT-ARMS.--PARLIAMENTARY ETIQUETTE.--THE TWO
     HOUSES.--DISRAELI.--PALMERSTON.--SIR JOHN PRAISETH THE
     LATTER.--COLONEL SIBTHORP.--LORD JOHN RUSSELL.--PUBLIC SPEAKING IN
     ENGLAND.


Two streets running in parallel lines lead from Whitehall to Westminster
and the Houses of Parliament. One of these streets is narrow, dark, and
gloomy. In it lived Edmund Spenser and Oliver Cromwell, and through it
passed Elizabeth, Charles, and the Protector, whenever their presence
was required in either of the two houses. The street was large enough
for the royal processions of those days, but it became inconveniently
narrow when the traffic of the metropolis extended to this point, and
they built Parliament-street, one of the most crowded thoroughfares of
western London. After passing through Parliament-street you emerge into
a wide irregular place, which may justly be called the most venerable,
important, and sacred spot in England--where, on your left, on the bank
of the Thames, the new Houses of Parliament tower in their splendour,
while before you, amidst broad grave-stones and fresh green plots and
delightful trees stands the old Abbey. To the right, you see a perfect
wilderness of narrow streets with a large gap broken right through them;
it leads to Pimlico, Belgravia, St. James's Park, and Buckingham
Palace.

Westminster Abbey is among the grandest and loftiest monuments of
ancient architecture; it need fear no comparison, with the vast gothic
fanes, finished and unfinished, that stand by the rivers of Germany.

That the structure is completed in all its parts, that while we
contemplate it we know that the idea of the architect has been carried
out in all its details, that we are not shocked by the ruin-like
appearance of an unfinished aisle, or choir, or tower, is the more
pleasing to us Germans, since in our own country we have come to believe
incompleteness to be inseparable from the idea of a large gothic "Dom."
That the reverse is the case in England is creditable to the architects
and the nation. Their parliaments have readily granted the sums which
were required for the completion of the abbey; and the architect
deserves much praise for having, in his original plan, kept within the
limits of the probable and possible. With all the liberality of the
British nation, who knows whether Westminster Abbey would not still be
unfinished, if the architect, instead of tracing a couple of modest
though respectable towers, had indulged his fancy in designing two
gigantic structures, mountains of stone and fret-work, like those which
hitherto exhausted the resources and foiled the perseverance of the
people on the other side of the channel.

It is a characteristic trait in the English nation, that here, where so
many public buildings are found, they have all been completed. Parishes,
landlords, bishops, and the nation itself, limited their building
projects in proportion to their resources. They calculated the expense,
and consulted their pockets quite as much as the vanity of the
architects, who, after all, are not to be trusted in these things; they
make the plan, but they are never called on to pay for it.

Westminster Abbey, the venerable, has been much admired for many
centuries past. Thousands have believed, that within its walls the
worn-out frame finds sweeter rest after the fitful fever of their
earthly career; and to this day there are many whose ambition can only
be satisfied by a grave and a monument in Westminster Abbey. The nation
has set it apart as the pantheon of their illustrious dead. Many blame
them for it; others again doubt whether a fitter or more convenient
place could be found or created in these latter days. It is hardly
necessary to mediate between these two conflicting opinions. A nation
that can offer its great minds a fitting sphere of action, will also
find the proper mode and manner of burying its great men, honourable to
them and the country which gave them birth. The Huns buried their heroes
on the field of battle on which they fell; it is quite natural that the
religious sense of the English should prompt them to honour their
illustrious dead in the most beautiful church of their island-empire.

Sacred as the Abbey itself, are the domains which surround it.
Parliament-street is indeed a crowded thoroughfare; the crowds meet and
contend in the crossing which leads to Westminster Bridge; carriages
rattle along from morning till late at night; above a million and a half
of horses go that way annually into Lambeth; but the Abbey stands at a
convenient distance from the public road, amidst green grass-plots,
shady trees, and broad grave-stones, and near it you feel as calm and
peaceful as in the shadow of a village-church. Narrow foot-paths lead to
its walls; fat sheep crop the grass; and iron railings protect the
sanctuary from the inroads of horses and carriages.

These railings and the wide open street leading to the south, to
Vauxhall Bridge, intervene between the Abbey and the Houses of
Parliament. When these are completed in this direction, then will the
place which holds them, and the Abbey, and other public and private
buildings, assume a different and more satisfactory aspect. At present,
the workmen are still occupied with the colossal Victoria tower, whose
portal is among the grandest monuments of Gothic architecture. At
present the northern tower is still incomplete, raw, and ugly, and the
whole space in that direction is boarded up, and covered with loose
earth, bricks, and mortar. But when all is completed, then will dust,
smoke, and fog lend their assistance, and the new buildings will soon be
in keeping with the venerable colouring of the old Abbey.

In front of the new, there is an old stone building, with quaint narrow
windows, low doors, and curious turrets. It contains some Government
Offices, and Courts of Justice, and the famous Westminster Hall, which
is said to be the largest of all covered spaces in the world unsupported
by pillars.

Here we find the last remains of the walls of old Westminster Palace,
such as it was in the days of King Rufus of traditional and fabulous
Norman hospitality. The kings of England resided here for 480 years. The
conflagration of 1834 destroyed the last traces of the splendour of
olden times, and Westminster Hall alone remained to give us an idea of
the grand style of Gothic palaces. But it is only an approximating idea,
for with the exception of the northern portal and the window above it,
all we now see is a creation of later days. More especially since the
Hall has been brought into connexion with the new houses, its character
has been changed. On the southern side there are at present broad steps,
leading to a sort of balustrade, communicating with the corridors and
outer halls of the houses. The quaint old window over the chief portal,
with its Gothic ornaments and gigantic dimensions, forms a strong
contrast with the new window opposite. And in the evening, when the old
house is lighted up with gas, the illumination produces a striking
mixture of ancient and modern colouring, which, however, far from
impairing the effect of the whole, shows parts of the massive ceiling to
the greatest advantage.

While we have been looking at the hall, it has been invaded by about two
hundred persons, who form in lines through the whole length of it. It is
half-past four, the time at which the Members of Parliament make their
appearance, and there are always crowds of idle and curious persons,
who, whenever they cannot obtain admission to the gallery, will come and
wait in the hall, that they may gaze upon the faces of some of the
parliamentary grandees.

We are just in time, for the open place in front of Westminster Hall
assumes an animated appearance. Half a dozen policemen come, I know not
exactly from which quarter, and take up a position near the gate. Old
and young representatives of the people arrive from all parts of the
town; some dressed in yellow breeches, and black long-tailed dress
coats, come in cabs. They carry ponderous club-like umbrellas. Others
arrive in heavy coaches, with a retinue of powdered giants; some come
on foot, and others on horseback. Some are dressed down to the _laid
idéal_ of quakerish plainness; and others are dressed out with a foppish
sort of elegance. The majority drive themselves in two-wheeled vehicles
to the temple of their eventual immortality. The latter--and, indeed,
those who are on horseback--have their grooms to take care of the
horses; and though the masters have the appearance of decent civilians,
still the number of servants who assemble in front of the building,
impart to the scene a tinge of aristocratic colouring. The difference
between the English parliament and our defunct German chambers, is at
once apparent, even before we enter the house. In Germany, there were
but few servants and carriages. But the English parliament is chiefly
composed of wealthy men; for not only do the "necessary expenses" of an
election represent a large capital, but the members must also prove a
property qualification of £300 per annum in land. This law alone would
suffice to exclude men of humble resources, but such are still more
effectually excluded by the expenses of that position in society which
every member of parliament is compelled to assume. Whatever his
profession may be, he must sacrifice it for the time being to his
parliamentary duties, and that, too, without any pecuniary
indemnification, since the English representatives are not paid, as was
the case with their ephemeral colleagues in France and Germany. Life in
London is expensive to every one, but the expense becomes serious in the
case of temporary residents. Add to this, that every member is, in a
manner, in duty bound to be attentive and hospitable to the influential
among his constituents. Say, Mr. Jedediah Brown goes up to London for
eight days or a fortnight; Mr. Jedediah Brown knows what is proper, and
would not, on any account go back to St. Alban's, or Canterbury,
Blackburn, Birmingham, or Clitheroe, without calling on the honorable
Mr. M. P., the member for the borough, for whom Mr. Jedediah Brown voted
at the last election. Mr. Jedediah Brown is an influential person in his
own borough; the name of his uncles, aunts, and cousins, is legion; and
so is the name of his wife's uncles, aunts, and cousins. The Brown
interest is of the utmost importance at election times, and he who
would stand well with the borough should, by all means, conciliate the
Browns. There is no help for it. Mr. M. P. cannot do less than ask Mr.
Jedediah Brown to dinner, drive him out in his carriage, and offer him a
box at the opera. Well and good. Mr. Jedediah Brown cannot always remain
in London, but he is followed by Mr. Ebenezer Smith, a wealthy man, and
one whom the honourable and learned gentleman cannot afford to offend,
for the Smith interest, too, is powerful, and the family very large. And
after Mr. Ebenezer Smith, comes George Damson, the popular lecturer, and
the Rev. Mr. Jones, Mrs. Jones, and the Misses Jones; and Mr. M. P., is
compelled to have them all to dinner, and take them down to the house,
and get them seats in the speaker's gallery, and platform places at
Exeter Hall. All this is very expensive. And, if Mr. M. P. is a married
man, of course his wife insists on sharing with him the "gaieties" of
the London season; she must go to routs, _réunions_, balls, and
drawing-rooms, and these amusements, though innocent, are vastly
expensive. Nor is Mr. M. P. allowed to imitate his Continental
colleagues, and take his dinner in a chop-house, or at some cheap _table
d'hôte_; the aristocratic laws of decency preclude him from adopting
that course. He must dine at a club, or at a first-rate hotel. He is
compelled to have a large house, or, at least, to inhabit one of those
"splendid drawing-room floors," which are advertised, as "suitable for
members of Parliament and gentlemen of fortune." In short, he must is in
duty bound to be a gentleman of fortune. The income of £300, as required
by law, is, after all, a mere formality; and Lord John Russell could,
without any tendency to radical reform, move for the abolition of the
property qualification, since no one, but a man in a perfectly
independent position, would ever think of aspiring to the expensive
honour of a seat in the House of Commons.

The interior of the Houses of Parliament is grander and more imposing
than the exterior. This does not apply to the rooms where the sittings
are held, but rather to the entrance hall and corridors. As you enter
you come at once into a hall, long enough and high enough to suit any
second sized Gothic dome. High Gothic windows, Mosaic floors, palm-tree
ceilings, heavy brass candelabras in the old church style, and marble
statues on ponderous blocks of stone--such are the chief
characteristics of the corridor which leads to the interior of the
sanctuary. Doors of solid oak, with massive plate-glass windows, heavy
brass handles, and neat ornaments, open from this corridor into a round
airy hall, with a number of other corridors opening into all the other
parts of the building. This hall is, so to say, the centre of the whole;
and the two Houses if we may say so, are on either side of it--the
Commons to the north, and the Lords to the south. The other corridors
communicate with sundry other parts of the building, with the
refreshment-rooms, the library, etc. The Gothic style is adhered to,
even in the minutest details, and contrasts strangely with the busy life
of the nineteenth century.

The refreshment-rooms, of course, abound in all imaginable
creature-comforts. But it is a strange fact, that the _Restaurant_ is
even more exorbitant in his charges than the common herd of London
hotel-keepers. The legislators of England are shockingly imposed upon in
their own house; they are far more effectually fleeced than is the case
in the hotels on the Rhine, or in the Apennines. Every drop of sherry
and every ounce of mutton is charged as if it were worth its weight in
gold. There have been grievous complaints in the House, but the
unpatriotic landlord sticks to his prices; he taxes the legislators with
as little compunction as those gentlemen show in taxing him and the
whole fraternity of licensed victuallers.

The libraries of the House--one for the Lords and one for the
Commons--are splendid in all their appointments, and useful,
comfortable, and elegant in their arrangements; large fires burning
brightly in massive grates, and surmounted by gigantic marble chimneys.
Sardanapalian arm-chairs that invite you to read, ponder, and doze;
costly carpets; servants in livery waiting upon the Members; large
tables covered with portfolios, paper, envelopes, and all imaginable
writing materials; splendidly bound books in massive book-cases; and
gas-lights most advantageously placed--all combine to make this the most
desirable retreat. Two librarians preside over the rooms. Existence is
more delightful in these reading-rooms than in the House itself. The
debates are sometimes very long, and malicious persons say that now and
then they are not very interesting. It is, therefore, but natural that
many of the chosen of the people prefer the arm-chairs in their library
to their seats on the stuffed benches of the House. Here they may sit
and doze or write, even more comfortably than in their clubs; and if a
member wishes to indite a letter to his constituents or creditors, he
has the accommodation of a special parliamentary post-office within the
walls of the building. All this shows that the honourable and learned
gentlemen have very correct ideas, and an acute perception of what is
truly comfortable.

But even perfection itself is imperfect in this world of ours. A small
matter has been neglected in the building of this palace, which has
already cost the nation above two millions of pounds. It is the old
story. The Houses proper, the saloons in which the sittings are held,
are altogether bad in the plan, in their arrangements and appointments,
with respect to acoustics, optics, rheumatics, catarrh, and gout.

In the Lords these faults are less obtrusive. The architect's task was
easier, and there are in the Lords scarcely ever so many visitors, that
the artist, as in the case of the Commons, had to provide for the
accommodation of six hundred members, with galleries for ladies,
reporters, and the ordinary and extraordinary public, while the room was
required to be of moderate dimensions, and comfortable as the
old-established domestic English parlour. In the House of Lords the red
morocco seats are marvellously comfortable, even for those who cannot
boast of a coronet. The high, small, and painted windows admit but of
little light; but the men who meet in this room do not care much whether
or not they see one another very distinctly. They meet after the sitting
in the brilliant saloons of the Earl of Woburn, or the Marquis of
Steyne, where they can contemplate one another to their hearts' content.
In some parts of the room you cannot very well hear what is said; but
even that does not matter: in the first instance, because generally what
is said is not worth hearing; in the second, because many noble lords
cannot, or will not, speak distinctly; and, in the third, because the
reporters help one another whenever they lose the thread of the debate,
so that the speeches make quite a figure in the newspapers. Certain
very modest lords rely greatly on the talents of the reporters; they
mutter, and stutter, and leave out half sentences, and next morning at
breakfast it is quite a pleasure to see what a lucid, reasonable, and
consistent speech (thanks to the reporters!) they have managed to make
in last night's debate.

Twice in the course of the year, a great many persons are anxious to
obtain admission to the Lords, and to see and hear everything that is
done or said. This is on the occasion of the Queen's opening and
proroguing parliament. But on such days, the London sun, loyal
throughout, volunteers some extra service, and the Queen speaks more
deliberately and distinctly than the majority of the old gentlemen who,
on ordinary days, are "but imperfectly heard." And lastly, the Queen's
speech is usually printed before it is delivered. The optical and
acoustical shortcomings of the room are, for these reasons, by no means
striking. The saloon itself, with all its gilt carvings, looks splendid,
if not tasteful.

Originally, it was the architect's intention to execute the saloon in
which the Commons sit in a very elaborate style; indeed, the ceiling was
already covered with paintings and gilt ornaments, when the Commons
proved contumacious, and opposed the plan. Speeches were made on that
occasion, which would have done honour to an assemblage of Spartans.
Indignant remonstrances, which savoured of Puritanism and democratic
prudery, were hurled at the head of the unfortunate architect. All this
was very natural. Ever since the burning of the old Houses of
Parliament, the Commons had sat in some provisional locality. It was a
wretched place, with narrow doors, and little windows; the floor was
covered with an old carpet; the walls presented a mixture of yellow,
grey and black; the stairs were narrow and ricketty; the galleries,
corridors, and committee-rooms, impressed the beholder with the idea
that they formed part of some very poor provincial theatre. In short,
everything was exquisitely rough shabby, and dirty. We are all creatures
of habit; and in the course of time we become attached, even to
nuisances. The members of the old house felt comfortable in their
ricketty provisional booth; they liked the stairs, the dark corridors,
and the narrow cloak-room; they liked the benches--everything suggested
reminiscences, and they clave unto the old house. But they had no choice
left. It was impossible to promote their provisional abode to the rank
of a permanent dwelling. But then, they insisted that the new house
should not be much more splendid than the old.

The architect, in his turn, could not conveniently either create dirt,
or erect a wooden booth in the centre of the Gothic palace. He adopted a
middle course. He removed the more glaring among the ornaments and
gildings; the saloon was grained in oak colour; the ceiling was laid in
oak-panels; he shut out the light by narrowing and painting the windows;
and he made a saloon which is neither old nor new; neither grand nor
comfortable; neither modern nor antique; neither simple nor highly
ornamental; and neither clean-looking nor dirty; a saloon, in fact,
which looks as if it were made of gingerbread.

But the artist, foiled in his attempt at decoration, took his revenge
secretly, but terribly. He ventilated the place. Towers were built,
which would have served as church steeples, but which, in the present
instance, were intended to conduct the atmospheric air upwards, to press
it downwards, and finally, to smuggle it into the lungs of honorable
members. A steam-engine was erected for the purpose of creating
artificial currents of air. He built and pulled down, in order to build
and pull down again. All this was very bad. The steam-engine was soon
stopped, for the saloon, surrounded as it is by long corridors, has the
advantage of such powerful currents of air, that they would serve to
create colds, ague, and rheumatism, for all the inhabitants of the
United Kingdom. The ceiling had to be brought down, because it
interfered with the laws of acoustics. The artificial system of lighting
the place had to be reduced to a more simple apparatus, for it
endangered the safety of the members, and of the public in the
galleries. The currents of air, through the artificial air-holes in the
floor, were at once shut out, because they blew up the dust. In this
manner, was the much vaunted system of ventilation demolished by bits,
until nothing was left except the palpable uncheerfulness of the room
itself. But let us enter, and pass the evening within its sacred
precincts.

The grand corridor, which leads from Westminster-hall to the Central
Hall shelters a great many persons, who sit, walk, or stand about. Many
of them look weary and impatient. Who are they? They are the British
public. They have orders to the gallery of the House, and wait until
their turn comes. Each member is entitled to give an order. There are
about six hundred members, and six hundred orders may be issued for
every night. But the gallery cannot accommodate more than seventy or
eighty persons. Those who come first are first admitted; and when the
gallery is full, there is no help for it, the rest must wait. Their turn
is, however, sure to come; sometimes much sooner than they had a right
to expect. The debates are in many instances so dry and uninteresting
that the galleries get emptied almost as soon as they are filled. But on
an important night, when the leaders of the house are expected to speak,
it may now and then happen that an unfortunate "stranger" waits from
three P.M. until past midnight without gaining admission. It is,
however, perfectly absurd that, in the construction of the new Houses,
no adequate accommodation was made for the public.

As for ourselves, we are in no danger of waiting for admittance, because
we had the good fortune to obtain orders for the Speaker's gallery, a
place in front of, and a little below, the stranger's gallery. The right
of admission to this place is confined to the Speaker; and since that
dignitary is not too lavish in his favours, the lucky possessors of
orders can be quite certain of ample and convenient accommodation.

It is five o'clock, and we take our seats. At the further end of the
room, just opposite to us, we see the Speaker reclining in a comfortable
leather-covered arm-chair with a case of solid wood, open in front, and
bearing a strong resemblance to an academical pulpit. The Speaker is in
his official costume, that is to say, he has a powdered wig and a black
silk cloak. But in spite of these venerable attributes, he is by no
means staid and majestic, and reclines with the greatest carelessness in
his easychair, shutting his eyes as if he were going to sleep and again
opening them and looking at papers, or talking to some of the members
who have sauntered up to the chair. The whole house follows the
Speaker's example; the members stand in groups of twos and threes,
talking, or they sit on the broad, stuffed benches, with their legs
stretched out and their hats on their heads. They seem intent upon
nothing but killing time. The sitting has commenced, but the fact is,
that one of the clerks is reading a paper, the contents of which are
pretty well known to every one, but which, according to the rules of the
House, must be read.

Our friend, Dr. Keif, who, by some malicious contrivance of his own, has
managed to get a full mastery over the English language, and who speaks
that language with a correctness which is altogether scandalous in a
'foreigner'--our friend Dr. Keif, I say, sits leaning over the gallery,
with his hands behind his ears and his mouth wide open, anxious to know
what the clerk is reading. But even he gives it up in despair.

"Impossible!" says he. "The men down below talk and laugh and chat as
schoolboys do when the schoolmaster is away. What's the good of that
wigged fellow reading when no one listens to him? I'd like to throw my
gloves down in order to awaken in those members some respect for the
galleries. They are not by any means polite. I can't say I like their
manners. Am I indeed in an assembly of English gentlemen, most revered
and respectable Sir John?"

Sir John is quite an _habitué_ in the house, and as such, he informs the
Doctor, that these are mere preliminaries, and that everybody will be
quiet enough when the debate has once commenced. Very well. We must have
patience. And while waiting, we shall have plenty of time to examine all
the parts of the house.

We are, as has been mentioned, in the Speaker's gallery. Behind us is a
small and crowded place devoted to the English public, and at its side
is the members' gallery. The reporters' gallery is opposite to us, and
above it, something like a gilt cage, in the shape of a shut-up
verandah, in which a couple of ladies have found a temporary asylum. We
cannot see them, but Sir John will have it that one of them is Lady John
Russell. A true John Bull is lynx-eyed in matters aristocratic. But what
pleasure the ladies can take in being in that gallery, is a mystery to
me. They cannot see, they cannot hear, and, what is much worse, they
have no chance of being seen.

Dr. Keif cares not for the ladies. All his attention is devoted to the
reporters. He is astonished to find them much graver and older-looking,
and withal much more _ennuyés_ than the reporters of our extinct German
parliaments. There are among them men who have grown old and grey in the
profession, and who are likely to belong to it as long as they can hold
a pencil.

A few yards from the Speaker's arm-chair there is a table. Who has not
heard of that famous article of furniture? It is the table of the House,
on which all parliamentary documents are laid. That table has no
affinity to the Presidents' _bureaux_, such as we have seen them in the
chambers of Germany and France; it stands on the floor, like any common
table, and is covered with green cloth. Seated at this table, their
backs turned to the Speaker, are the clerks of the House. They are
wigged and powdered, and have heaps of papers and petitions before them,
together with some bulky volumes in leather bindings. In short, the
table has the appearance of the common domestic writing-table of the
study or office. But there is something on the table which at once
distinguishes it from all similar articles of furniture, viz., a heavy
golden mace or sceptre. So long as this sceptre remains in its place, it
is considered that the sitting continues; its removal signifies that the
House is adjourned or that it has resolved itself into a committee.

Look there! just by the door is an arm-chair, and seated in it a
gentleman in a dark uniform-coat with embroidered collar, knee breeches,
black silk stockings, and a small sword. He is the Sergeant-at-Arms, the
only armed person in the House; in a manner, the warden and chief
door-keeper of the House, whose duty it is to execute the Speaker's
warrants against members of Parliament and others who are guilty of a
breach of privilege. Such persons are taken into custody by the
Sergeant-at-Arms, who confines them in some very snug retreat within the
precincts of the Parliamentary palace. While under his protection they
are well taken care of, and provided with all the necessaries and
luxuries of life, at prices which are by many considered exorbitant.

This man with the sword--whose income, by-the-bye, is about double the
"_gage_" of a German general--has just risen from his comfortable seat.
He is moving towards the table. On his arrival in the middle of the
room, he stops and bows to the Speaker. He proceeds a few yards, and
makes another bow--a few yards more, and bows again; and having thus
arrived at the table, he makes a very low bow indeed.

Dr. Keif is quite flushed with excitement and curiosity. "What is that
man after?" says he. "He dances and jumps about, as if he were asking
the Speaker to join him in a minuet!"

The Sergeant, however, standing in front of the table, mutters a few
words, which none but the initiated can understand. He takes the
sceptre, removes it from the table, and puts it on something like a
stool under it. Next, his face still turned towards the Speaker, he
walks backwards, bowing at intervals, gains the door, and introduces two
men with wigs on their heads, who, with many low bows, advance into the
centre of the room. They are officers of the House of Lords, with some
document or message, for which no one cares, because the majority of the
members know all about it. Of course we take no interest in the message
which has just been delivered to the Commons. The two Houses observe in
their intercourse a great many ceremonial laws, the exact details of
which are familiar to the older members, while no one else cares for
them, but which, nevertheless, are observed by either House with a
scrupulous punctilio. The two messengers from the Lords had to be duly
announced; they were obliged to bow to the Speaker; they were not
allowed to enter while the House was sitting, and for that reason the
sitting was adjourned by the removal of the sceptre; they had to walk
backwards to the door, looking at and bowing to the Speaker; and after
the door had closed upon them, and not before, the Sergeant-at-Arms
placed the sceptre again on the table, and the debate was resumed.

All these ceremonies strike a stranger as exquisitely comical; and they
are enough to puzzle even an Englishman, who witnesses them for the
first time, accustomed though he be to the quaint formalities and
observances which are still prevalent in the Law Courts. Certain it is,
that most of the continental states would long since have abolished all
these traditional ceremonies. The Continentals would have been ashamed
of the wigs and silk cloaks; they would have declared, that those
old-fashioned attributes of official dignity were an insult to the
spirit of the age, and they would have consigned them to the
lumber-room; they would never for one moment have stopped to think that
dangerous conflicts might possibly result from the condemnation of those
insignificant and harmless formalities. Such things have happened in
France, and in Germany, too. In the revolutions of either nation, much
energy and valuable time has been wasted in an onslaught on mere outward
forms and petty abuses, on diplomas of nobility, orders of knighthood,
upper chambers, church privileges, and prerogatives of the crown. But
there never was a compact majority, which, looking only at the chief
points, sought to reconcile the lesser among the conflicting opinions,
for the purpose of obtaining those results which every revolution should
aim at--personal liberty, and the promotion of the national prosperity.
These gained, the rest must follow. When every individual citizen and
the nation altogether are interested in the maintenance of the liberties
and improvements they have acquired, there can be no idea of a reaction.
No person, no class is injured; and peaceful progress, and slow and sure
reformatory action, are not only possible, but also necessary and
unavoidable.

Even the radicals among the English have an instinctive appreciation of
the above truths. The House of Commons has never made war upon the
Lords, because the wives of the Lords wear coronets, or because the
Queen performs the ceremony of opening and proroguing parliament in the
House of Lords. Instead of attacking their harmless privileges, the
Commons have driven the iron into the very heart of the Upper
House--they have sapped its marrow, and reduced it to a mere shadow of
its former self. Nor have the Commons ever attacked certain prerogatives
which are essential to the crown, and which insure it its political
position, its governmental functions, and its imperial splendour. Just
the reverse. Not all the mailed knights and barons of olden times, nor
gartered Dukes nor belted Earls, would have defended the dignity of the
crown with so much zeal and devotion as the Commons have done for many
years past. They are most anxiously scrupulous in their professions and
marks of respect for the head of the state. They gave the king his due,
freely and fully. But did they ever consent to a curtailment of their
own rights? Have they resigned the smallest and least significant of
their own prerogatives? Is not their vote the full and firm expression
of popular opinion? And did they ever make concessions to the crown at
the expense of the people's rights? Never! Those who know the history of
modern England, know also how marvellously the Commons have grown in
strength, political ability, and power. Indeed, so great is their power,
that, magnified by distance, it imposes upon the Continentals, who are
led to believe that the head of the British empire is a mere
_Marionette_ figure. This opinion is altogether erroneous; for a large
amount of power remains still in the hands of the crown. The monarchy of
England stands on a firmer basis in 1853 than it did in 1753, when the
cry for innovations had not yet been raised on the other side of the
channel; it will always remain firm so long as it respects the balance
of power among the various estates of the realm. The crown is aware of
this, and keeps within its limits even in the face of temptation. And
the people in their meetings, and in the press--two engines which are
generally terrible to crowned heads--stand by the side of the throne as
trusty monitors, but they are not opposed to it. The government avoids
anything like a conflict with public opinion; the people do not make
opposition for opposition's sake, and the political engine works well
from session to session and from year to year.

And, after all, what harm is there in the Speaker's wig, or the Queen's
speech addressed to the Lords, and in all the quaint ceremonies and
observances? What does it all matter? And why waste even a thought on
the reform of such trifles, so long as reform is needed in matters of
greater importance?

These arguments, which are strongly redolent of the German
constitutionalists of Gotha, are in fact the property of Sir John, who
threw them at Dr. Keif's head, when that learned man ridiculed the
sergeant-at-arms. They descended to Sir John as an heir-loom from his
great grandfather. May they descend from him to his children and the
children of his children!

The house has meanwhile got full. A man of elegant appearance has taken
his seat to the right of the speaker on the front bench, next the table.
He is neither tall nor is he short; he is rather thin than stout; his
forehead is high, round, and smooth; he has black eyebrows; brown clear
eyes; high cheek-bones; lips firmly set; a pointed chin and black curly
hair, with one of the curls drooping right over his forehead. What
Englishman but knows that curl which Doyle has so often caricatured in
Punch? The possessor of that curl is Disraeli, Benjamin Disraeli, at the
time we saw him the Right Honourable Benjamin Disraeli, her Majesty's
Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the Commons.

Few portraits of this gifted man have hitherto been published; and Punch
may claim the merit of having first introduced his face to the public at
large. But Punch's caricature, though clever, is apt to mislead one, and
those are very much mistaken who imagine the real Disraeli as a
hollow-eyed, round-backed, philosophically shabby-looking, Jewish youth.
The real Disraeli has a refined and aristocratic appearance. His
neckcloth may now and then be tied in a startling knot--the curl on his
forehead, is somewhat romantic--but in all other respects Disraeli
answers to the _beau ideal_ of a well-dressed English gentleman. And
there he sits, throwing his right leg over his left and now his left
over his right, talking to his next neighbour, the Right Honourable Sir
John Pakington, her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, or
turning to some member of the party behind him. There he sits, taking
papers from his pockets or from the table, but generally busily engaged
in trimming the nails of his white hands. Such as he sits, with his hat
pulled over his face and to all appearance lost in deep thought; or,
starting up, taking off his hat and answering a question in a smiling,
cutting, sarcastic manner; or leaning over listening to a speech and
taking notes:--such as he sits on the ministerial bench, this Right
Honourable Benjamin Disraeli, of plebeian Jewish descent, but at present
Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Leader of the House of
Commons, must be an object of interest to every one, no matter whether
he be a gifted sage or a gifted humbug.

His talents shine with transcendent brightness in opposition; and it is
not too much to say, that he is the only capable man of whom his party
can boast. He has compelled them to acknowledge him as their leader; he
has left them no choice: they must either take him or perish. He is the
great Protector of the Conservatives; and the Liberal party are free to
confess, that they have suffered much from his antagonism. When
Disraeli, rising from his seat, doffs his hat, and prepares to speak,
the House is all silence and attention. The very reporters, who have
just sat out their turn, hasten back to the gallery to hear him, for
they all, even those attached to the liberal journals, feel a special
interest in Disraeli, the author--the member of their guild. He is not
an agreeable speaker. His voice is harsh and jarring; his manner is
rather repulsive than winning; but his sneers, his sarcasms, his
malicious attacks, are sure to tell, for he never aims at generalities,
but hurls his scorn directly at certain men and sets of men in the
House. At such moments, he looks in every direction but the one in which
he has launched his arrow. Disraeli's sarcasms have raised him a host of
enemies, and justly too, as every one must confess, who reads his
Parliamentary speeches since his first Arabian razzia upon Sir Robert
Peel.

To be witty is not, after all, so very difficult for those who care not
to what extent they wound the feelings of their adversaries. But look at
the man on the Speaker's left hand--there! on the further end of the
first bench--he that holds a handkerchief in his hand. That man does
these things with greater _finesse_. He is quite as witty as Disraeli,
and he, too, has a telling answer to every question; but, withal, he
does not get personal and offensive. That man is a general favourite,
and every one is silent when he rises. That is Lord Palmerston, the
notorious Lord Firebrand; he who, according to the opinion of the
continental politicians, thinks of nothing but the most convenient means
of overthrowing all the thrones in Christendom.

"This, then," whispers Dr. Keif, imitating his great enemy
Kappelbaumer, the spy of the imperial and royal police at Vienna--"this
is that my Lord von Palmerston, the evil genius of all reasonable
European Cabinets! That's the man, with his white, innocent-looking
little whiskers, his delicate features, the striped neckcloth, and the
brown trousers, which, I dare say, were presented to him by Mazzini. But
do tell me the truth, is it really that tall old gentleman, lying on the
bench rather than sitting, and talking to his neighbours, exactly as if
he were in the ale-house? Well, by Metternich! this Herr von Palmerston
has such a pleasing appearance, that I could never have believed in his
atrocious wickedness, if I had not been a reader of the German
newspapers these many years past. What astonishes me most is, that those
people down there have not the decency to avoid talking to him, for,
after all, he is a convicted rebellion-monger, whom no well-disposed
citizen of Vienna or Berlin would like to be seen with in the street.
But no, as I said before, there's nothing in the appearance of the man
to frighten one. Really, there's nothing exciting, or rebellious, or
conspiratory, that I can see! And only think, what a mass of very
uncivil notes he has written!"

"That's because he is a great diplomatist!" rejoins Sir John, with
marvellous unction. "For the very reason that you hate him we like him.
He is exactly what a Foreign Secretary ought to be, popular at home and
unpopular abroad. Eh, sir! catch that man standing up to advocate the
cause of a continental despot, or conduct himself in a manner which
would justify his enemies in calling him the minister of such and such a
king or emperor at the court of St. James's. Why, sir, what's a chief of
the Foreign Office good for, if he does'nt do the bull-dog's
duty--barking and showing his teeth, to frighten the housebreakers and
such like wretches! And was'nt Lord Palmerston a capital bull-dog?
Did'nt he bark with a loud voice, to the terror of the whole
neighbourhood? And was there any one bitten by him? Certainly not, he
merely offered to bite--showed his teeth--and the Continentals knew what
it meant. But, of course, they don't like him any the better for it."

"I do wish he'd make us a speech," said Dr. Keif. "How does he speak?"

"Just as I like it!" responded Sir John. "His is a frank and open
address--no pathos, no excitement--reasonably, intelligibly, mannerly,
as an English gentleman should speak. It's his nature; he could'nt be
rude, even if he were to try, excepting, always, when he sits down to
correspond with the foreign powers. In the House, he never on any
account is guilty of a personal attack; but he is so clever, that he can
with the greatest ease provoke a laugh at the expense of those who ask
idle and impertinent questions."

Sir John, thus singing the praises of Lord Palmerston, is interrupted by
shouts of laughter proceeding from the body of the House. What is the
matter? Colonel Sibthorp has come in, and, after bestowing a look of
sublime contempt on Mr. Roebuck, who entered at the same moment, the
gallant colonel, though scarcely above a minute in the House, has taken
part in the debate, and uttered one of those profound and gentle
remarks, the fame of which will be for ever connected with his name.
Colonel Sibthorp's portrait in "Punch" is true to the life; in his short
speeches, there is a good deal of common sense and natural shrewdness;
but there is a comicality in his diction which makes them rather amusing
than impressive. His remarks on this particular occasion are for the
benefit of Lord John Russell, who is just speaking of the Militia.
Colonel Sibthorp intimates to the noble Lord, that certain persons know
nothing whatever of certain matters; but the ex-premier is not to be put
out of countenance by such like soft impeachments, accustomed as he is
to hear them from the lips of the gallant colonel. The House, too, after
laughing at the sally, gives its undivided attention to the great
orator. For Lord John is generally allowed to be a good speaker; his
friends assert it, and his enemies do not deny it. In Paris he would
make _fiasco_; in England he commands admiration. His mode of speaking
is simple, pointed, and reasonable. He talks as a man of business to men
of business; his exposition is practical; he enters largely into
details, and provokes contradiction. He is a little broad-shouldered
man, with clever eyes, wrinkled cheeks and forehead; he has a short neck
and high shirt-collars, thin lips, and a sallow complexion; little
boots, tight checked trousers, and holds his preposterously large hat
in his hand. So he stands before us, with one of his hands stuck into
his trousers' pockets.

His speech will be found in the parliamentary intelligence of the
morning papers. It is one o'clock, A.M., and no one seems yet to think
of adjourning the debate. Sir John would have no objection to see the
debate close; but Dr. Keif reminds him of the family who are waiting at
home. "We shall have no chance of a cup of hot tea," says he, "unless we
go at once." Thus exhorted, we return home, take our tea by the parlour
fire, and talk at great length of English speeches and orators, and of
the parliamentary system generally.

There is a good deal of peculiarity about public speaking in this
country. A certain monotony, and an utter absence of passionate emotion,
are among the chief qualities of a good parliamentary orator. Such a
speaker appears cold and dry in the eyes of a foreigner; but whenever he
does not succeed in remaining unimpassioned, whenever he gets violent,
the impression he produces is decidedly disagreeable. The same may be
said of the action of the hands. Every Englishman who takes the platform
at a meeting, every member who rises from his seat in Parliament to
address the House, shows at once that he is firmly resolved to make no
movements with his hands and arms. He secures his hands to keep them out
of harm's way; and the positions he takes for that purpose are not by
any means æsthetic or pathetic. One man puts his hands in his trousers'
pockets; another hooks his thumbs in the arm-holes of his waistcoat;
some put their hands behind their backs; and others cross their arms
over their chests _à la Napoléon_. In this manner do they begin their
speeches; but since the speeches are long, it stands to reason that the
speaker cannot always remain in the same position. Besides, as he
proceeds with his subject, he warms to it, and then commences the most
astonishing action of the arms and the body generally. One man moves his
hand up and down as if he were the leader of a band presiding over the
performance of a _gallopade_; another stands with his hands clenched,
and makes a rowing motion; and the third moves his right hand in
circles, each circle ending with a sort of push at the audience.
Others--for instance, Lord Dudley Stuart--beat time on the table; and
others--for instance, Lord Palmerston--swing their bodies to and fro in
imitation of a pendulum.

All these attitudes are not by any means elegant; but it is customary in
England for public speakers to conduct themselves with all possible
_nonchalance_, and to address their hearers as merchants do in a
conversation on mercantile affairs. Besides, there is no tribune in the
House of Commons, and it is, therefore, quite natural that the members
are at a loss what to do with their hands. Public speaking, in fact, is
by no means an easy matter; and to be an efficient Member of Parliament
requires the whole of a man's time and energies. Committees in the
morning, debates from four o'clock in the afternoon until after
midnight, the speaking and the listening to speeches, surely these
fatigues are enough to shake a man's health. Who would find fault with
the most conscientious Member of Parliament for his desire to escape
from town in August, and recruit his strength in the Highlands? And then
think of the Ministers, who, besides attending the sittings, have to
superintend their offices and departments. Dr. Keif is right when he
says, "I'd rather be _impelled_ into Germany than be a minister in
England. Sir John! Vivat Germania! Germany for ever!"



CHAP. V.

The Periodical Press--Its Mechanism and Distribution.

     THE ENGLISH PRESS GENERALLY.--THE "TIMES" AND THE OTHER
     JOURNALS.--THE EVENING PAPERS.--THE PUBLICATION OF THE MORNING
     PAPERS.--ANTICIPATION OF NEWS.--SPECIAL TRAINS.--PUBLICATION OF
     WEEKLY PAPERS.--THE READING PUBLIC.--ADVANTAGES OF WEEKLY
     PAPERS.--THE PROVINCIAL PRESS.--WHY IT CANNOT
     FLOURISH.--TRANSMISSION OF NEWSPAPERS.--THE NEWSVENDERS.--A SCENE
     IN THE "GLOBE" OFFICE.--YOUNG HOPEFUL, THE NEWSBOY.--MR. SMIRKINS,
     THE PARTY-MAN.--THE NEWSVENDER'S EXCHANGE.


The Germans have, at all times, professed great respect for the English
press; and justly, too, considering the excellence of its political
articles, its miraculous versatility, the conscientiousness of its
reports, the general usefulness of its contents, the enormous
geographical sphere into which it finds its way, the grave and manly
tone of its language, and especially its thoroughly independent
position, and with it, its stupendous moral power. The English press is
more concentrated in its means than the German; it is more sober,
versatile, and honorable than the French; and it can be more relied
upon, and is more decent in its tone, than the American press. It
surpasses all three by the grand solidity of its deportment. It may well
be said, that no nation on earth, old or new, could ever boast of such a
political press as that of which the English nation can boast.

In one point only, the English political press is over-estimated. Its
issues and its profits are generally considered to be much larger than
they really are. It is not difficult to discover the grounds of this
erroneous view. People think mostly of the _Times_, because it is best
known and most frequently quoted. The condition of the English
journalistic press is estimated after this, its most important
representative. The premises are false, and so is the conclusion. We do
not here propose to open the ledgers of the English newspaper offices,
and to take down the number of copies sold. A great deal of falsehood,
and a great deal of truth, has been published in Germany on this
subject. We will here only say, that the _Times_ prints daily from
40,000 to 50,000 copies, and that the other journals together have an
issue of the same amount. This is enough to show, that no conclusions
can be drawn from the statistics of the _Times_ to the statistics of the
other great morning papers. These numbers prove also, that English
journalism has fewer readers than journals in Germany or France, though
certainly its geographical diffusion is by far greater. But it were
equally wrong to draw conclusions from the number of copies sold to the
number of readers. The position of the periodical press to the public is
so peculiar in this country, that a detailed account is necessary for
its proper understanding. We propose to give that account in the
following pages, and begin by stating the well-known fact, that the
English political papers are divided into morning, evening, and weekly
papers, into monthlies and quarterlies, and into metropolitan and
provincial journals. The essential difference between the morning and
evening papers, is to be found in the time of publication. The first
edition of the latter is published at four, or half-past four, in the
afternoon; a second edition is published at six o'clock; and, on
important occasions, a third edition, containing the parliamentary
intelligence of the evening, badly reported, and in execrable style, is
published at seven o'clock. Some of the evening papers, too, are cheaper
than the morning papers, and they are all half a sheet in size; but they
have the advantage of giving the contents of the day-mails, and the
accounts of the money-market. The evening papers generally contain much
less matter than the morning papers. Their sale too is small, and with
the exception of the _Globe_ and the _Sun_, they are none of them
independent, but form part of the property of certain morning papers.
The _Standard_, for instance, is but a later edition of the _Morning
Herald_; the same is the case with the _Express_, which belongs to the
_Daily News_; with the _Evening Mail_, which belongs to the _Times_; and
the _Evening Journal_, which is a satellite of the _Morning Chronicle_.
The sale of these papers is limited, and their expense is not generally
thought to be very large.

The morning papers are published in time for the early railway trains.
The first few thousands of the copies printed, are at once despatched
into the provinces, and the copies which are destined for metropolitan
circulation, reach the readers generally about nine o'clock, when a
great many Londoners are at breakfast. The _Morning Post_ alone is in
the habit, as it appears, of receiving very important intelligence, such
as "Elopements in High Life," or "the last odds against Black Doctor,"
between the hours of six and eight in the morning, for this fashionable
journal appears frequently at the break of day, with the exciting
heading, "SECOND EDITION!" The first edition, it seems, was sold in the
course of the night; perhaps between one and three, A.M. The less
important papers publish their second edition at twelve o'clock, and in
it their foreign correspondence, which has arrived with the morning
mails. In the case of any extraordinary event, they publish a third
edition at three o'clock.

It is impossible to speak too highly of the despatch and correctness of
the printing in the English newspaper offices. Where so much praise is
due, there has, as a matter of course, been some exaggeration likewise;
and the newspaper offices are the subjects of many a popular myth, which
it is worth while to reduce to simple truth. Both Englishmen, and the
foreigners that are within their gates, will now and then, at eight
o'clock in the morning, read "our own correspondent's" letter in the
_Times_, and be struck with some remarkable piece of intelligence it
contains. An hour or so afterwards, perhaps, the postman brings them a
letter from some continental friend, and lo! that letter contains the
very news which they have read, printed in large type, in the morning
paper. Now, however expeditious compositors, printers, and newsmen may
be, the setting up of matter, the striking it off, and distributing it
through the various channels of trade, to the farthest ends of the town,
require a certain amount of time. How, then, is it possible, since my
private letter and the _Times_ correspondence came by the same
mail--how, in the name of all that is strange, does it happen, that the
paper prints the news so much sooner than I receive it through the Post
Office? Why it looks "nae cannie," as a Scotchman would say!

Still the result is brought about by the most natural and simple means.
The morning papers have their continental correspondence sent by mail,
but the letters are not directed to London, but to an agent in Dover.
That agent, who is generally connected with the railroad or the Post
Office, receives his parcels immediately after the arrival of the
steamers from Calais and Ostend. He directs them to his principals in
London, and sends them off with the express train. Of course the mail
letter-bags reach London by the same train; but the mail-bags have to go
to the Post Office, where the letters are taken out and sorted, and
distributed among the various district offices, which, in their turn,
distribute them among the letter-carriers. The letters cannot,
therefore, reach their various destinations before eight o'clock, though
it frequently happens that they come at a much later hour. But the
parcels sent direct from Dover are emancipated from the necessary delays
of the Post Office. A messenger receives them as the train dashes into
London Bridge Station; they are at once hurried away to the printing
offices, set up, printed, and despatched to all the news-shops of
London. And while this is going on in the printing office, the Post
Office clerks are opening the mail-bags, and sorting and stamping the
letters for the regular delivery. A certain portion of time, say a few
hours, are necessarily lost at the Post Office; and this loss of time to
the public, and the advantage to which the newspapers turn it, has
puzzled many persons, particularly strangers. All the popular tales of
special trains and steamers are mere fables. The _Times_, with all its
power of capital, cannot have faster vessels than the mail steamers that
run between Calais and Dover; and if at Dover it were to engage a
special train, that train could not go faster than the express. But even
if greater speed were attainable, the experiment would be too costly for
daily use.

On important occasions, indeed, in the case of unexpected arrivals of
interesting continental news, or when large and important meetings are
being held in the provinces, and the intelligence to be conveyed to town
is too heavy for the telegraph, the great London journals do not shrink
from the expense of special trains, which convey to them the reports of
the proceedings, as taken down by their correspondents. But in the
transmission of mere news--of those "facts," to which Mr. Cobden would
confine the newspapers--the telegraph is at once cheaper and more
expeditious.

A few years ago, when there were no railroads, and when the steamers
were neither frequent in their passages nor punctual in their arrivals,
the _Times_ had organised its own system of couriers, and for a long
time it competed with the _Morning Herald_ as to the greatest expedition
in the conveyance of the Overland Mail from Marseilles to London. At one
time the _Times_ had the best of it; on another occasion the couriers of
the _Times_ were beaten by the couriers of the _Herald_; the agents of
the papers sowed their money broad-cast on the route between Marseilles
and Calais; they outwitted one another in retaining all the post-horses,
until these expensive manoeuvres were finally rendered unnecessary by the
railway service and the submarine telegraph. In this respect, too, the
most fabulous stories have long been current in Germany, where, it is
generally believed, that the _Times_ has its score or so of special
trains steaming away on all the railroads of England from year's-end to
year's-end. The English newspaper service is by this time established on
a firm, expeditious, and economical basis; and extraordinary means are
resorted to only on extraordinary occasions.

The weekly political papers are published on Saturday, and some of them
on Sunday morning, while a few publish a second edition on Monday
morning. They live on the news of the daily papers; the better class
among them have a single correspondence, a weekly Paris letter, but
they have not the telegraphic despatches, nor do they maintain a staff
of correspondents and reporters. They simply condense the news as given
by the morning journals, while some of them spice the abstract with an
original remark or two for the convenience of a peculiar class of
readers. Besides these they have a few leading articles, and "Letters to
the Editor." These letters are, in many instances, more interesting than
any other part of the paper, and under an able editor their moral effect
is greater even than that of the leading articles. This department has
been utterly neglected by German journalism, though there can be no
doubt of its being eminently suited to the capabilities and necessities
of the German public.

We have no intention of discussing the literary and political merits of
the various "Weeklies." Their importance and popularity, too, is not a
theme for us. These things are, moreover, well known in Germany. But in
our opinion, it is worth while to inquire into the circumstances to
which the weekly press in England owes its circulation and popularity,
while it never prospered either in France or in Germany. A combination
of causes produces this result. The morning papers are too expensive and
too voluminous for the middle classes, especially in the country. Their
price is a high one, not only according to the German, but also to the
English mode of reckoning. But in the present state of the law, it is
impossible to produce a daily paper which can compete with the other
journals at a lower price. It has been proved to the satisfaction of
Parliamentary Committees, that what with the paper, stamp, and
advertisement duty, a great journal can only pay if it has an immense
circulation. Still more strikingly has this been shown in the struggles
and sufferings of the _Daily News_. That paper was set up in opposition
to the _Times_. The Manchester men advanced a large capital, _à fonds
perdu_, and the competition commenced with an attempt at underselling.
The "Daily News" was sold at threepence per number; and the consequence
was, that the funds of the party were really and truly "_perdu_." The
price was raised to fourpence; still the concern was a losing
speculation. Finally the _Daily News_ condescended to take fivepence, as
the other journals do, and it is now more prosperous.

But fivepence is a high price for a paper, even according to English
ideas. It is very silly to say, that in England a sovereign is to the
Englishman what a florin or a thaler is considered to be to the German.
The remark may hold good in the case of the favoured few--the dukes,
cotton-lords, and nabobs; but among the middle classes, the relative
value of a sovereign and a thaler assumes a very different aspect. The
middle class forms the bulk of newspaper readers; it is not so easy for
that class to pay six pounds per annum for the "Times" or "Daily News,"
as the payment of six thalers (the average price of a _Zeitung_) is to
the middle classes in Germany.

Besides being too dear, the morning journals are too large for the
majority of the public. Many persons cannot spare the time to read all
the parliamentary intelligence, and the police and law reports, and the
railway and mining articles; others are too lazy, while the majority of
provincial readers combine the two objections with a third. They are too
busy, lazy, and generally too indifferent. They would take a comfortable
view of the events. They are not over curious, and will not be compelled
to swallow a daily dose of news. They are not so hot-blooded as a French
_portier_, who cannot think of going to sleep without a look at least at
the evening papers; and in politics they enjoy a greater degree of
phlegm than all the continental nations together. They say, and are
justified in so saying, "We live in a quiet country, where everything
and everybody has his place. Nothing whatever can happen that we are any
the worse off for knowing a few days later. A dissolution perhaps? Why
let them dissolve the parliament, there will be a general
election--that's all. Resignation of ministers? There are as good fish
in the sea as ever came out of it. A foreign war? Very well, we'll pay
for it, but they wont invade us, thanks to the sea and the wooden walls
of England. All of which proves that a man need not be in a confounded
hurry to know the last news!"

And as for the working classes they want money, time, and, indeed, they
want the _mind_, for the daily press. Weeklies are cheaper and more
palatable. Their news is more condensed; it is more popular; they
contain a deal of demonstration and furnish useful reading all the week
through.

It is therefore not at all astonishing that the weekly press should have
experienced an enormous increase within the last few years, while the
few daily papers that were started in that period, proved utter
failures; while the majority of even the old established papers were far
from being prosperous. Hence, too, the enormous sale of the weeklies,
whose prices range from three-pence to nine-pence. First and foremost in
prosperity is the _Illustrated London News_, whose sale is said to
amount to 100,000 copies. The _Weekly Dispatch_, selling from 60,000 to
80,000 copies, comes next. It is a radical paper, though I doubt whether
any German reader would ever discover its radicalism. The _Weekly
Dispatch_ is the favourite of the lower classes. The _Examiner_ and the
_Spectator_, though superior in point of style and political ability,
are less read than the Germans generally believe; but _Punch_ (for
_Punch_ too is essentially a political paper), is prosperous, easy,
comfortable, and influential, as indeed it fully deserves to be.

The non-political papers, the monthlies and quarterlies, the clerical
journals whose name is legion, the critical papers, the penny weekly
papers which fatten on stolen property, the military and naval gazettes,
the papers devoted to banking, architecture, gas-lighting, agriculture,
mining, railways, colonial affairs, and all imaginable professions and
branches of industry, these we mention only to say that we must leave
them to scientific and professional travellers. But we add a few words
on the provincial press of England.

It is insignificant. Any interest it may possess springs from local
causes, as is the case with the Glasgow, Manchester, and Liverpool
papers. This applies also to the Irish journals, whose tone, generally
speaking, bears traces of more genius and less conscience than the tone
of the English press.

The English provincial press in particular can advance no claims to
Irish genius. It wants originality, unless it be original deliberately
and with speculation aforethought to say the thing which is not true; to
bring news of ministerial changes, which is news indeed to the
officials of Downing-street, and to perpetuate the fiction of a highly
distinguished omnipresent and omniscient "London Correspondent," who is
a member of all the clubs; who passes every one of his evenings in all
the theatres and at all the fashionable parties, and who is on terms of
the most bewildering intimacy with all the great men of the day. A great
many of these papers drag out a weary and unprofitable existence, while
others make much money. The expenditure of most of them is confined to
the cost of the paper and printing; the taxes due to the state and the
outlay of a modest capital on scissors and paste.

There is no possibility of improvement in this respect, since in England
a political paper cannot thrive unless it be established in London. The
owners of the provincial newspapers cannot help it; they have no control
over the political and geographical circumstances which determine the
fortune of the English press.

Not only does it stand to reason that a metropolitan journal is in a
more favourable position than a provincial journal, since the national
life and action radiates and is concentrated in the mighty heart of the
country; but London, with its population of two millions and a half, is
not merely the capital of a vast empire, it is also an _imperium in
imperio_, a kingdom in itself. Many kingdoms have a less population than
London has, and many countries furnish not half the amount of matter for
journalism which London supplies. And though they had the matter it
would be divided over a vast area, and its instant collection and
publication would be impossible. Concentration has incalculable
advantages for the daily press, as is plainly shown by the great
journals of Paris and London.

In another respect, too, the London papers are favoured by
circumstances. The geographical extent of England is so small compared
to its political power, the country is so completely covered with a
network of railroads and telegraphs, that space is lessened in a
marvellous degree. Thus is the London press enabled to collect
intelligence in all parts of the country _in less than no time_, as the
English say, to gather it by centripetal attraction and send it forth by
centrifugal radiation. Sitting on the banks of the Thames, a short
railway journey from the narrowest portion of the channel and thus, of
all the large towns, most near to the Continent, London is the most
efficient mediatrix and exchanger of news between the Continent and
England and the Continent and America. As capital of England, of a
country which has always carried the mails of all the nations and parts
of the world to all the nations and parts of the world, London is the
great political, mercantile, and scientific storehouse of the world. No
other periodical press can boast of such favourable circumstances; and
the London press is safe from the competition of the periodical journals
of the seaport-towns, because distance in England is of very little
moment in the communication of intelligence, and, because favoured as it
is, it can afford to pay, and occasionally to pay largely too for extra
means of speed and priority of information.

Let us now turn to the mechanical means and contrivances by which the
London papers are distributed among the public.

The transmission of newspapers in Germany is a government monopoly: it
belongs to the post. The post-offices in Germany accept subscriptions to
the various newspapers and forward them to the subscribers. The English
post-office has nothing whatever to do with newspaper subscriptions. It
forwards newspapers exactly as it forwards other parcels, whenever they
are posted, but it does not undertake to obtain them from the
publishing-office. The newspaper-offices, too, know nothing of the
continental system of _abonnement_; they sell their papers over the
counter, and for cash, exactly as all other wholesale dealers do. Under
these circumstances, the public want retail shops, and such retailers
are to be found in the newsvenders.

Generally speaking, the newsvenders occupy small shops in or near some
of the principal streets, where they frequently carry on the business of
stationers as well. They supply their London customers with papers; they
send papers to their customers in the provinces, and they lend papers by
the hour or day. For success in the various branches of his business,
the newsvender wants a good connexion and a small capital. His connexion
once established, he can make a guess at the numbers of each paper he is
likely to want, and for these he sends to the various publishing-offices.
The news-boys are the chief "helps" and props of his trade.

In the dawn of morning, even before the publication of the great
journals has commenced, the newsvender, represented by his boy, is at
his post in the outer room of the publishing-office. These
plenipotentiaries of the various newsvending firms sit and gape and rub
their eyes, or warm their hands by the fire, until the first batch of
papers is hurried into the room. A thin, sleepy man, who has hitherto
been hid in a kind of cage, gets up from his office chair and takes
charge of the bulky parcel. The boys at once make a rush towards the
cage, and the taller ones elbow their way up to it, while the small boys
must be content to wait until their turn comes. "Fifty copies!" "One
hundred copies!" "Two hundred copies!" Each bawls out the number he
wants, puts down his money, and runs off through the moist, cold,
morning air to another newspaper-office, or back to the shop, where the
various numbers are put into wrappers as fast as it is possible for
human hands to perform that operation, and despatched by rail to the
various country customers. All this is done at express speed; and the
newsvender's boy, though gifted with a leaning to politics, can hardly
find the time to stop by a street lamp and read the last "Submarine from
Paris."

He is hard at work all the morning. When the parcels have been
despatched into the provinces, he is at once compelled to devote himself
to the other important section of his daily duties, and provide for his
master's town customers, of whom there are two classes, purchasers and
hirers of newspapers. The former receive their papers about nine o'clock
through the medium of the news-boy. The latter receive their papers at
various times according to the terms of the contract. Some keep a paper
two hours, some keep it three or four, and the terms are, for the short
period, 6d., and for the longer, 1s. per week. It is the newsboy's
business to know all the various customers of this kind, and to call
with the paper, and for it, at the exact time desired by each individual
reader.

He is less occupied between the hours of eleven and three. If not
compelled to "mind the shop," the newsboy, if gifted with a correct
estimation of his political position, will devote these leisure hours to
the perusal of the various journals within his reach. If not of an
intellectual turn, he indulges in a comfortable fight with some
sympathetic printer's devils, in some quiet square or court. Duty calls
him again at three o'clock. He has to call for the newspapers which are
"out," and he has to secure the supply of evening papers at the moment
of their publication--all for that evening's country mail. The
publishing-offices of almost all the London papers are to be found in
the line of road and the parts that thereunto adjacent lie, from the
Strand to St. Paul's, where journals of diametrically opposite
tendencies reside in dangerous proximity to one another. In this quarter
of the town they are near to the Exchange, the post-office, and the
chief railway-stations; and the chief newsvenders, too, live generally
in the narrow lanes and alleys which run out of the principal streets.

Those who wish to study the natural history of the news-boy, should take
their stand in the publishing office of an evening paper, at half-past
three or four o'clock in the afternoon. A small apartment, divided into
two smaller apartments by means of a wooden partition, and the outer
half dusty and dirty to the last degree, and crowded with boys, who
there wait for the paper, which is just going to press. It happens, now
and then, that the publication is delayed for half an hour, or so; on
such occasions, the youths in attendance display a remarkable amount of
ingenuity in their praiseworthy efforts to kill the time. The innate
street-boyism of these small creatures is tinged with a literary
colouring. The little "devils" are evidently inspired with the devilries
of the newspapers which they sell. Some are free-traders, others are
protectionists; not from conviction, but from the urgent desire of their
nature to have a good and sufficient reason for wrangling and fighting.
We watched their proceedings on one occasion, at the time when Lord
Derby and Mr. Disraeli were "in," as a very ragged boy said, in so
sententious a manner, that it would have done honour to a very old
member of the House of Commons.

"Eh, Jim!" cried a diminutive boy, with black eyes, red cheeks, and
fuzzy brown hair. "Eh, Jim! sold no end of

[Illustration: THE NEWSPAPER BOYS.

p. 215]

_Heralds_, I dare say. You're in, you know; clodhoppers that you are!"
"_Herald's_ a ministerial paper; beats the _Times_ hollow, don't it?
Kick's it into the middle of next week, eh? Well, I hope it'll do your
master some good, but it don't do you no good, Jim, my boy; you're as
lean as a bone, you are!"

To which, Jim, a light-haired, spare-made, freckled youth, replies:

"You're the parties as gets fat, so you are. Them as is 'onest people,
never gets fat! How's the _Globe_? eh! Don't you think one publication a
week is more than enough? You've got no news, noways, now that _we_ are
_in_."

Saying which, he takes off his cap--the beak of it went a long time ago,
on the battle-field of Holywell-street--and flings the dirty missile
into Tom's face; and Tom, who would parry it, puts his fist into Dan's
face; whereupon, Dan, starting back, kick's Jack's shins; and Jack gives
it to Dan, and Dan to Tom, and Tom to Jim, and there is a general
_melée_. The quarrel is finally settled by the armed intervention of
four tall boys, who for some length of time watched the chances of the
fight from a bench in the furthest corner of the room. A few blows and
kicks, the combatants are separated, and the publishing office is
tranquil. At this juncture, the inner door is opened, and a man with
spectacles, and a large parcel of wet _Globes_ makes his appearance. The
four tall youths rush up to the wooden partition, to the exclusion, the
manifest disgust of the smaller fry of boys. All their movements betray
the consciousness of their _Flegeljahr_ dignity. Mr. Smirkins, the
publishing clerk, who has just entered, treats them with marked
distinction. He greets them with a smile; tells them it is "rather wet
to-day;" and goes the length of inquiring after the state of their
health. One of them, a genteel youth, with very stiff shirt collar, and
a very new hat, is quite a favorite with Mr. Smirkins. That gentleman
has, for the last years, devoted his time and talents to the _Globe_
office, and has come to consider himself, not only as an integral part
of that Whig paper, but also as an important link in the heavy chain of
the Whig party. He mentions the Whigs, as "our party;" and in speaking
of the _Globe_, he says, "we." The advent of the Derbyites to power, has
been a severe trial to Mr. Smirkins' feelings; he is less fat and
jovial now, than he was under Lord John Russell. He looks care-worn. A
faithful servant of his party, he grieves to see the _Globe_ neglected
by those high in office.

"How many copies?" says he to the youth with the shirt-collars. "Ten?
Here they are. I dare say you take a good many _Standards_ since
_we_----"

No! the truth is too harsh for Mr. Smirkins. He cannot conclude the
sentence, so tries another mode of expression.

"The _Standard's_ looking up, I dare say?"

But the youthful newsvender has all the discretion of a London man of
business. He replies to Mr. Smirkins' question with a few "Hem's and
Hah's"; and Mr. Smirkins, foiled in his attempts to obtain intelligence
of the prosperity of the other party, goes on distributing his papers
among the boys; and the boys, rushing out to distribute them all over
the town, make great haste, that they may be in time at the newsvenders
Exchange.

These boys, strange though it may appear, have their own exchange where
they meet at five o'clock. Not indeed in colonnade and marble halls, not
even in a tavern parlour, but in the open air, at the corner of
Catherine-street, Strand. There they meet, shouting, squabbling and
fighting in hot haste, for they have not much time to lose. All the
papers must be posted by six o'clock. Here spare copies of the _Herald_
are exchanged for spare copies of the _Daily News_, the _Times_ is
bartered against the _Post_, according to the superfluities and
necessities of the various traders. The exchanges, of course, are made
on the spot, the papers are posted, and the newsvender's business is
over for the day. On Saturdays, however, many of their shops are kept
open till long after midnight, for the accommodation of the working
classes and the sale of the Sunday papers. Tom and Jim and Dan and Jack
have received their week's wages, and take a stroll in Clare Market or
join their friends, the baker's and fishmonger's boys, in some bold
expedition to distant Whitechapel.



CHAP. VI.

The Bank.

     APPEARANCE OF THE BANK.--WANT OF RESPECT IN THE PRESENCE OF PUBLIC
     FUNCTIONARIES.--THE PUBLIC AT THE BANK.--MYSTERIOUS
     COMFORTS.--ENGLISH TASTE.--THE WONDERS OF MACHINERY.--A STRANGE
     LIBRARY.--PRINTING THE NOTES.--HIDDEN PALACES.--THE TREASURY.--BAD
     SOVEREIGNS.--DR. KEIF; AND WHY THE ENGLISH KNOW NOTHING WHATEVER OF
     THE AFFAIRS OF GERMANY.


We have already, on a former occasion, looked at two of the city
temples--the Mansion-house and the Exchange. We now return to the
Capitoline mart of the city, to inspect the third of its temples--the
Bank of England.

Its outward appearance is mysterious. Half wall and half house, it is
neither the one nor the other; and yet either at one and the same time.
For a wall there are too many niches, blind windows, columns, and
finery; for a building it wants presence; it is too low, and has not
even window openings. But it appears from the architect's plan that this
strange _façade_ is meant for a wall, and, having the artist's word for
it, we believe, though see we do not, and sit down satisfied.

Standing free on all sides as the Exchange, the Bank is divided from the
latter by a thoroughfare called Threadneedle-street. Its western limit
is Princes-street; in the north intervenes Lothbury, and in the south
Bartholomew-lane, between the Bank and the neighbouring houses. It forms
a square; and yet people say it demonstrates the squaring of the circle,
the grand problem of modern philosophy.

We enter. The gate does not strike one as solemn and imposing as might
be expected in a gate leading to the laboratory of a great wizard. No
Druid's foot on the threshold; no spectral bats such as abound in
nursery tales of treasure-seeking. No! not even a couple of grenadiers,
who, in our dear fatherland are a necessary appendage to every public
building; really everything looks worldly, business-like, and civil. A
red-coated porter answers our questions, and tells us which way to go.
He is an elderly man, and certainly not strong enough to arrest a mere
lad of a communist, if such a one would attempt to divide the property
of the British nation. A shocking idea, that!

We cross a small court-yard, and mount a few steps (why should'nt we?)
and, all of a sudden, we are in a large saloon. This saloon is an
office--it matters very little what particular office it is--but it
makes not a disagreeable impression as our German offices do where
everything is official and officious, oppressive, and calculated to put
people down. On the contrary, there's a vast deal of good society in
this office: at least a hundred officials and members of the public. The
officials have no official appearance whatever; they are simple mortals,
and do their business and serve their customers as if they were mere
shopboys in a grocery shop. There is in them not a trace of dignity! not
an atom of _bureaucratic_ pride! It is exactly as if to serve the public
were the sole business of their lives. And the public too! Was such a
thing ever heard of in a public office? Men, women, and boys, with their
hats on! walking arm in arm as if they were in the park. They change
money, or bring it or fetch it, as if they had looked into a neighbour's
shop for the purpose. Some of them have no business at all to transact.
They actually talk to one another--stand by the fire in the centre of
the room, and warm their backs! The impertinent fellows! Why, they have
no respect whatever! They forget that they are in a public office. How
dare you stand there you dolt? How dare you scratch your head, and hold
your pipe in your hand? I should'nt wonder if it was lighted--it would
be like your impertinence! Get out as fast as you can; if you dont the
police will make you! Really not a trace of respect! It's no wonder they
say we are near doomsday.[F]

 [F] The readers of passages like the above will not be astonished to
 learn that Dr. Schlesinger's book has the honour of being prohibited
 in some of the best-governed states of Germany, but more especially in
 Austria.--[ED].

Ranged in long rows along the walls, the Bank clerks sit writing,
casting-up accounts, weighing gold, and paying it away over the counter.
In front of each is a bar of dark mahogany, a little table, a pair of
scales, and a small fraction of the public; each waiting for his fare.
The business is well-conducted, and none of them are kept waiting for
any length of time.

The saloon just by is more crowded. We are in the middle of the year,
and the interest on the three per cents. is being paid. What crowding
and sweeping to and fro. At least fifty clerks are sitting in a circle
in a high vaulted saloon, well provided with a cupola and lanterns. They
do nothing whatever but pay and weigh, and weigh and pay. On all sides,
the rattling of gold, as they push it with little brass shovels across
the tables. People elbowing and pushing in order to get a _locus standi_
near the clerks; the doors are continually opening and shutting. What
crowds of people there must be in this country who have their money in
the three per cent. Consols!

Strange figures may be seen in this place. An old man with a wooden-leg
sits in a corner waiting, and Heaven knows how long he has been waiting
already. Of course, a wooden leg is rather an encumbrance than otherwise
in a crowd. The old man seems to be fully aware of the fact. He looks at
his large silver watch--it is just twelve--puts his hand to the pocket
of his coat, and pulls out a large parcel, something wrapped up in a
stale copy of the _Herald_. What can the parcel contain? Sandwiches! He
spreads them out, and begins to eat. He likes them too. He takes his
ease, and makes himself perfectly at home. I dare say it is not the
first time he has waited for his dividends.

That young lady on our left is getting impatient. She has made several
attempts to fight her way to one of the clerks; she tried to push in
first on the right, and then on the left, but all in vain. John Bull is
by no means gallant in business, or at the theatre, or in the streets:
he pushes, and kicks, and elbows in all directions. Poor pretty young
lady, you'll have a long time to wait! It's no use standing on your
toes, and looking over people's shoulders. You'd better come again
to-morrow.

The little boy down there gets much better on. A pretty fair-haired
fellow that, with a little basket in his hand. Perhaps he is the son of
a widow, who cannot come herself to get her small allowance. The boy
looks as if about to cry, for he is on all sides surrounded by tall men.
But one of them seizes him, lifts him up, and presents him to one of the
clerks. "Pray pay this little creditor of the public; he'll be pressed
to death in the crowd!" And they all laugh, and everybody makes room for
the boy; for it ought to be said to John Bull's credit, he is kind and
gentle with children at all times. "Well done, my little fellow! Now be
careful that they dont rob you of your money on the way. How can they
ever think of sending such a baby for their dividends!"

In this wing of the house, office follows after office; they are all on
the ground-floor, and receive their light through the ceiling; they are
all constructed in a grand style, and many of them are fit for a king's
banqueting-room. In them money is exchanged for notes, and notes for
money; the interest on the public debt is paid; the names of the
creditors are booked and transferred. It is here that the banking
business is carried on in its relations with the bulk of the public.

These offices are, consequently open to every one; they are the central
hall of the English money market, the great exchange office of London.
Every Englishman is here sentinel and constable, for every Englishman
has, or at least he wishes to have, some share in the Bank. But those
who would enter the more secret recesses of the sanctuary, must have an
order from one of the Bank Directors. We are fortunate enough to have
such an order, which we show to one of the servants. He takes us, shows
us into a little room, and asks us to wait a few moments.

The room in which we are is a waiting-room. There are many such in the
house. A round table, a couple of chairs, and--and nothing else! that's
all the furniture. Really nothing else! And yet the room is so snug and
comfortable. It is altogether mysterious, how the English manage to give
their rooms an air of comfort, which with us is too frequently wanting,
even in the houses of wealthy persons, who furnish, as the phrase goes,
"regardless of expense." Every German who comes to England must be
struck with the fact. Whether the apartments he hires be splendid or
humble--no matter, he is at once alive to the influence of this charmed
something, and he will sadly miss it when he returns to Germany. Yes! it
must be--the charm must be in the carpets and the fire-place. Surely
witchery does not enter into the household arrangements of sober and
orthodox Englishmen!

It's a pity they did not make us wait a little longer, the room was so
comfortable. Another servant has brought our order back, and told us
that he is to be our guide. Passing through open yards and covered
passages, we come to a clean and well-paved hall, in which the
steam-engine of the house lives. Large cylinders, powerful wheels, rods
shining as silver, the balls of the whirling governor heavy as
four-and-twenty pounders, and the space under the boiler a hell _en
miniature_. Everything powerful and gigantic, and yet clean, harmonious,
and tasteful.

Yes! tasteful is the word. The English are frequently, and in many
instances justly, taunted with their want of taste. They have an awkward
manner of wearing their clothes; they are bad hands at designing and
manufacturing those charming _nippes_, for which the French are so
famous; their grand dinners and festivals, their fancy patterns and
articles of luxury, their fashions and social habits, are frequently at
war with the laws of refined taste. But there are also matters in which,
in point of taste, they are superior to all other nations. Such, for
instance, in the cultivation of the soil, the manufacture of iron and
leather, etc., etc.

Give a French, German, Spanish, or Belgian artisan a piece of iron, and
ask him to make a screw for a steam-engine. Give just such a piece of
iron to an Englishman, with the same request. The odds are a thousand to
one that the Englishman's screw will be more neat, useful and handsome,
than the screw produced by the artisans of the other nations. The
Englishman gives his iron and steel goods a sort of characteristic
expression, a sort of solid beauty, which cannot fail at once to strike
every beholder. The Germans saw thus much in the Great Exhibition; and
they may see it in every English house, if they will but take the
trouble of examining the commonest kitchen utensils, or the tongs,
shovel, and poker in the most ordinary English parlour. They are all
massive, solid, weighty, and tasteful.

It's a splendid sight, this steam-engine at the Bank! It is complete,
and in keeping in all its details. It is the mind which moves all the
wheels and machines in the house. Its power is exerted in the furthest
parts of the establishment; it moves a thousand wheels, and rollers, and
rods; it stands all lonely in its case, working on and on, without
control or assistance from man. With us, too, the steam-engines have
emancipated themselves, and do not want the support of their masters;
but the furnace is still a mere infant, and wants stokers to put its
food into its mouth. But here the furnace, too, is independent: it
procures its victuals, and feeds itself according to its wants. The
large round grate is moveable; it turns in a circle on its horizontal
plane, and pushes each point of its circumference at regular intervals,
under an opening from which the coals fall down upon it. The keeper of
the engine has nothing whatever to do but to fill the coal-box and light
the fire in the morning. Steam is generated, it enters the cylinders,
moves the pistons and the wheels, and the grate commences its rotary
movement. From that moment forward, the engine works on without
assistance.

As we proceed we shall be able to judge of the multiplied usefulness of
this remarkable engine. We have followed our guide up a narrow flight of
stone steps, and are now in rooms which form a striking contrast to the
saloons which we examined in the first instance. They are dark and dusky
workshops, in which the materials for the use of the Bank are being
prepared. Here, for instance, is a man in a small room preparing the
steel-plates on which the notes are to be engraved. His is a difficult
task, even though the engine moves the sharp hard wedge which scrapes
and polishes the plates. It produces a shrill screaming noise, one which
it is by no means agreeable to listen to for any length of time; and
besides the labour is most wearisome and monotonous. But it is one of
the dark sides of this age of machinery, perhaps it is the darkest, that
the sameness of his mechanical labour tends to stupify the workman; that
he ceases being an artizan or artist, and comes to be a mere help to his
machine, which requires no talents or abilities in its servant, but
merely exactitude and promptness. All he has to do is to put the plate
or the spindle on the exact spot, where the machine can seize, handle
it, and finish it.

Another room is devoted to the preparation of printer's ink, for the
printing of the notes. A quantity of black matter is being ground. A
simple operation this; even dogs might be trained to perform it, and
give satisfaction. But here, too, the machine does the work, and does
it, too, with astonishing accuracy. All the workman has to do, is to put
the black mixture between the rollers; they take it, crush it, grind it,
and drop it ready for use. If a single grain of sand be found in the
mixture, the machine has neglected its duty--that's all. But you wont
find a grain of sand even if you were to search for it in many tons of
the ink.

The workman explains the process.

"The ink," says he, "must pass between these two large rollers to be
ground. The rollers are of strong steel; they are very hard and heavy.
But small particles of sand or stone would soon take away their polish.
That's what this side-cutting is for. Look here. I hold the point of my
knife exactly at the point where the rollers touch one another. Did you
see how at the slightest touch they separated? This happens whenever any
hard body, however small, finds its way between them. They dont take it,
but drop it, and in this manner they keep their polish."

It is marvellous! This machine is most simple, and yet we could stand
for hours to see it work. What is a sensitive plant to these heavy steel
rollers, which are so sensitive that they recede at the touch even of a
grain of sand! And it is all done by means of the cutting and the
weight. It is no use attempting to describe these things without a
diagram. And even that is unsatisfactory to those who never saw the
machine in motion. But we revoke the pert remark we made just now. A dog
cannot be trained to do this work; even the labour of man could not
supply the labour of this machine. Enough for man that he made it.

Through the various work-rooms, each of them devoted to some part of the
manufactory of notes, we come to the large work-shops of the printers
and binders. In either of them steam is at work, and so are human
beings. The Bank of England, which in the first year of its existence
wanted only one ledger, requires now at least three hundred ledgers to
register its accounts; they are all lined, paged, and bound in the
house. It is one of the most interesting features of the Bank, that all
its requirements, with the sole exception of the paper, are manufactured
on the premises.

Exactly as in the stone-paved hall of the lower story, where we watched
the great central steam-engine feeding itself, so we find in other rooms
large machine monsters moving up and down, and to and fro, rattling,
hissing, and thumping, and frequently not doing anything that we can
see, although our guide tells us, that the results of their labours will
become apparent to us in other parts of the building. And they stand,
moreover, alone, completely left to themselves; in the rooms in which
they work, in the corridors leading to those rooms, not a human creature
is to be seen, not a human step to be heard, nor is there a trace of
human influence that we are aware of. And then this measured rotation of
the large wheels; the busy movement of the straps; the never tiring
restlessness of the pistons, which seem to move faster the longer we
look at them. There is something grand in these rooms, void of the
presence of man, where the mind of man invisibly hovers over the world
of machines, as the Spirit of God over the face of the waters in the
hour of creation. It is grand, but it is also awful.

We feel quite relieved when we get down into the paved court-yard, where
a living two-legged labourer walks by; and yet neither the place nor the
man is very agreeable to look at. The yard has a neglected appearance,
and the iron shutters which cover the place where the windows are
supposed to be make it still more gloomy.

"That is the library of the Bank," remarks our guide.

We are not likely to be astonished by anything. We just saw workshops
without men; why should there not be a library without books? Let us
have patience and wait. Perhaps some very clever machine will open the
iron shutter from the inside, thrust forth its arm, and hand us a
catalogue. No? Well, for a wonder, our guide, who is very polite, though
by no means over-communicative, opens a small door, and motions us to
enter.

A low, narrow, vaulted passage, which reminds us of the _casemates_ or
bomb-proof galleries of fortresses; a few rays of light straggling in
through some grating somewhere; at the end of the passage a heavy iron
door which opens into a small windowless room lighted up by the most
consumptive-looking gas-jet imaginable. Our eyes are quite unused to the
light; but, gradually as we get accustomed to it, we can see the objects
around us. We stand in front of a railing, and behind it stands a little
man in a black dress coat, and with a white cravat.

"This gentleman is the librarian of the Bank;" says our guide. Still no
trace of books.

The man in the black dress-coat opens a door in the railing, bids us
enter, and shows us an enormous number of parcels and bundles of notes,
ranged along the walls up to the very ceiling. They call this the
library of the Bank; but, in truth, it is its lumber room. It is an
asylum for the notes which have been paid in at the Bank. They are
valueless; for the Bank never issues the same note twice. They are kept
and locked up in the library, I forget how many years, in order to be
produced in the case of a theft or forgery, or any other matter of the
kind. Afterwards they are burnt.

Every now and then clerks come in with fresh bundles. A few minutes ago
these small papers were worth--Heaven knows how much money. "They are
now mere waste paper. They have had their day. Many a note leads a long
and honourable life; goes to the Continent, to India, or Port Adelaide;
and returns to the Bank much the worse for wear after all its journeys.
Other notes have scarcely a day's roving license in the world; to-day
they are issued, and to-morrow they are paid in. It's accident, or fate,
or Providence." Saying which the librarian makes his bow, turns round,
and returns to his desk.

We leave the library. The way is frequently very short from the old
bookshop where good books and bad books are alike given up to dust and
moths, to the printing-office, from whence they are launched forth into
the world. Thus it is in the Bank. We have scarcely left the library,
and we are already in the department where they print the notes.

The printing from the plates is simple enough. The wonders of the
machinery consist chiefly in the spontaneous advance of the numbers
(each note has its own number, and a double set too), and in the control
which the machine exercises over the workmen. There is no inspector to
watch the printer. The machine, which he compels to print, compels him
to be honest. The machine registers the exact numbers that are being
printed, and registers them too in a distant part of the establishment.
That the machine can do this with astonishing accuracy; that it masters
the intricacies of our system of numbers; and that it produces the
numbers at the same moment in different places; is a triumph of human
invention which almost startles us. It is also the result of the various
systems of wheels which we saw working all alone in other parts of the
building.

A great deal more might be said of the astonishing results of this most
perfect system of machinery. But, since description is out of the
question, we should only reproduce our own impression. Still we must
tell the fairer portion of our readers that at the Bank even the washing
is done by machinery, and that the establishment manages to get on
without female labour.

The dirty linen of the Bank--that is to say the cloths which are used in
the printing process--are sent to the washhouse, where they are
compelled to perform a pilgrimage through a number of large pails full
of hot and cold water. They are then washed by wheels; then dragged into
hot water and next into cold water, wrung out and hung up in a drying
room. And all by steam--all by machinery! No busy housewife--no
able-tongued laundresses--no disturbance of the house--and no
washing-days! There is no saying how shocking a want of respect of the
whole female sex is implied by this process! But then the poor mechanics
are quite as badly treated. You must put up with it, Madame. The Bank
can and _will_ do without you.

Our guide leads the way to other regions. We enter the reception and
meeting-rooms of the Governor and the Directors.

Charming open places, with lawns and shrubberies, and here and there a
shady tree--clean, well-sanded paths--it is quite evident that we have
left the manufacturing districts, and are in the midst of the parks and
homesteads of Old England. And these buildings, rising up from the
lawns, are palaces, with columns, large stone steps, and carved
ornaments. Their interior excels in splendour the wildest anticipations
we might have formed. Saloons, high and lofty as cathedrals, splendid
cupolas everywhere, and an overwhelming profusion of panelling,
architectural ornaments, rich carpets and furniture, fit for a king's
palace. We would gladly remain here and see nothing else; but our guide
is determined on our admiring _all_ the sights of the house.

We follow him to the guard-room, where a detachment of soldiers from the
Tower enter every evening and pass the night, to protect the Bank "in
case of an emergency." We follow him to the Bullion Office, a
subterranean vault, where they keep the gold and silver bars from
Australia, California, Russia, Peru, and Mexico; where they weigh them,
sell them, and from whence they send them to the Mint. These vaults are
very interesting to the admirers of precious metals.

But is this all? No! nothing of the kind. Our guide--a real guide--has
reserved the most interesting part of the exhibition to the last. He has
taken us through several yards and passages. He knocks at a large door,
which is opened from the inside. Two gentlemen, in black dress coats and
white cravats, stand in a large room, which receives its light through a
lantern in the top. In the centre of the room is a heavy bureau. The
walls are covered with iron lock-ups and safes. This is the Treasury of
the Bank, where they keep the new notes and coins.

One of the gentlemen looks at our order, and, with that unpretending
dignity which characterises the English, he turns round and opens some
of the iron safes. They are filled with bags, containing 500 or 1000
sovereigns each. He takes some of them and puts them into our hands, to
convince us, as though we ever doubted of the fact, of the bags being
filled with good sterling money.

The other gentleman--they are both dressed as if they were going to a
_levée_--takes a bunch of keys, and opens a large closet filled with
notes. The most valuable and smallest bundle is again put into our
hands. "You have there," says he, "two thousand notes of one thousand
pounds each." Two million pounds sterling! Surely an enormous sum to
hold in one's hand. An army in paper, containing the power of much evil
and much good, especially since the paper is not mere paper and since,
at a few yards' distance, you may change it into "red, red gold," as the
poets say. But as we are not in a position to perform that alchymistic
process, we return the notes to their keeper. "Good bye, Sir." "Good
morning, gentlemen." We have left the Treasury, without being either
wiser or richer men. Of course, because we were not allowed to carry off
its contents.

We enter another large room, with the neatest, prettiest steam-engine in
it, and with a variety of other small machines, whose complicated wheels
are kept in motion by the said engine. The bulkiest object in the room
is a large table, literally covered with mountains of sovereigns. A few
officials, with shovels in their hands, are stirring the immense
glittering mass.

"It is here that they weigh the sovereigns," whispers our guide. We
stand and watch the process. Ignorant as we are of the exact principles
of the machines, we are altogether startled by their fabulous activity.

Besides the mysterious system of wheels within wheels, each of these
marvels displays an open square box, and in this box, slanting in an
angle of 30°, two segments of cylinders, with the open part turned
upwards. A roll of sovereigns, placed into one of these tubes, passes
slowly down, and one gold piece after the other drops into a large box
on the floor.

All the clerks have to do is to fill the tubes. The sovereigns slide
down, but just at the lower end of the tube the miracle is accomplished.
Whenever a sovereign of less than full weight touches that ticklish
point, a small brass plate jumps up from some hidden corner, and pushes
the defaulter into the left-hand compartment of the box, while all the
good pieces go to the right. This little brass plate, hiding where it
does, and popping out at intervals to note a bad sovereign, is an
impertinent, ironical, malicious thing. There is an air of republicanism
about it. As to the sharpness of its criticism, we actually do not
believe that any republican would attempt to compete with it. For who
would estimate the virtues of his fellow-men by grains, especially in
the law of crowned heads!

We cannot see enough of these active machines. The small plates of brass
show themselves pretty often as old and worn out sovereigns glide down.
Not one of them is allowed to pass; and withal these small plates act
with so much quiet promptitude and calm energy, and altogether without
noise or pretension.

One of the clerks is kind enough to explain the purpose of this process.

"The Bank selects the full weighted sovereigns from the light ones,
because all the money we pay out must have its full weight."

"And what do you do with the light ones?"

"We send them to the Mint after we have taken the liberty of marking
them. Shall I show you how we do it?"

He takes a handful of the condemned ones, and puts them into a box,
which has the appearance of a small barrel-organ. He turns a screw, or
touches a spring--it is clearly impossible to note each movement of the
man's hand--and there is a sounding and rushing noise in the interior of
the box, and all the sovereigns fall out from a slit at the bottom. But
mercy on us! how dreadfully disfigured they are! Cut through in the
middle. The Victorias, and Williams, and Georges, all cut through their
necks; in fact, beheaded! And that's what the English call "_marking a
bad sovereign_." It makes us shudder. We are positively afraid. We cant
stay one minute longer. "Good morning, sir." "Good morning, gentlemen."

What with our confusion and distress, we quite forgot to thank our kind
guide. We are again in the street: to our left is the Exchange, to our
right the Mansion-house, and before us the Iron Duke on horseback, and
all around the furious, rattling, ceaseless crowd of vehicles; the
moving and pushing of the foot-passengers; women hunted over the
crossings; walking advertisements; street-sellers; red Post-office
carts; the dusky streets, and the heavy leaden sky--the City in its
working dress!

At home, while we are sitting at tea, Dr. Keif wastes much valuable
eloquence in trying to convince Sir John, that the English can never
get a proper understanding of German affairs: 1st, because it is hardly
possible even for a German properly to understand them; 2nd, because the
English newspapers have none but English correspondents in Germany, who
know just as little of that mysterious country as he (Dr. Keif) knows of
banking; 3rd, because the English consider all other countries with
exclusive reference to their own country; and, 4th, because they fancy
that reform can be brought about by peaceable public meetings, even in
countries where those who attend such meetings are at once arrested, and
locked up in fortresses or houses of correction; 5th, because social
life in England is vastly different from social life in Germany; 6th,
because Britons are too ignorant of the geography of Germany; and, 7th,
because there are many who might understand German affairs, and who have
very good reasons for not wishing to understand them. As we cannot
follow the learned Doctor through the whole length of his argument we
leave him to fight his own battle with Sir John, and merely remark, that
an armistice was concluded at two o'clock in the morning, after which
the belligerent parties went into night-quarters. And with this
satisfactory intelligence we close the chapter.



CHAP. VII.

Four-and-twenty Hours at the Times' Office.

     CROSSING THE ROAD.--THE OWNERS OF THE "TIMES."--ITS SOUL; ITS
     EDITORS.--DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE "TIMES'" EDITORS AND THE
     "REDACTEURS" OF GERMAN NEWSPAPERS.--THE POLITICS OF THE
     "TIMES."--HOW THEY WRITE THE "LEADERS."--SECRETS.--LETTERS TO THE
     EDITOR.--THE MANAGER'S DEPARTMENT.--WHAT THE EDITORS DO.--THE
     PARLIAMENTARY CORPS.--THE REPORTER'S GALLERY AND
     REFECTORY.--DIVISION, DISCIPLINE, AND OCCUPATION OF THE
     REPORTERS.--MR. DOD.--THE SUMMARY-MAN.--THE STAFF.--THE
     PENNY-A-LINERS.--SOCIAL POSITION OF ENGLISH JOURNALISM.


Eleven A.M. One of the wheelers of a four-horse omnibus slipped on the
pavement and fell down at the foot of the Holborn-side obelisk, between
Fleet-street and Ludgate-hill. There's a stoppage. The horse makes vain
endeavours to get up; there is no help for it, they must undo reins,
buckles and straps to free him. But a stoppage of five minutes in
Fleet-street creates a stoppage in every direction to the distance of
perhaps half a mile or a mile. Leaning as we do against the railings of
the obelisk, we look forwards towards St. Paul's, and back to
Chancery-lane, up to Holborn on our left, and down on our right to
Blackfriar's-bridge; and this vast space presents the curious spectacle
of scores of omnibuses, cabs, gigs, horses, carts, brewer's drays, coal
waggons, all standing still, and jammed into an inextricable fix. Some
madcap of a boy attempts the perilous passage from one side of the
street to the other; he jumps over carts, creeps under the bellies of
horses, and, in spite of the manifold dangers which beset him, he gains
the opposite pavement. But those who can spare the time or who set some
store by their lives, had better wait. Besides it is pleasant to look at
all this turmoil and confusion. And how, in the name of all that is
charitable, are the London pickpockets to live if people will never
stand still on any account?

The difficulty is soon got over. Two policemen, a _posse_ of idle cabmen
and sporting amateurs, and a couple of ragged urchins, to whom the being
allowed to touch a horse is happiness indeed, have come to the rescue,
loosening chains and traces, getting the horse up and putting him to
again. It's all right. The fall of a horse gives exciting occupation to
a score of persons, and even those who cannot assist with their hands,
have at least a piece of excellent advice to give to those who can,
exactly as if this sort of thing happened only once in every century in
the crowded streets of London.

We may now go on. Halfway up Ludgate-hill, where the shops are largest
and their silks and Indian shawls most precious and tempting to female
eyes, is a small gateway, through which we pass on our road to the
_Times_ office. It leads us into a labyrinth of the narrowest, the most
wretched, ill-paved, and unsavoury streets of London. We stumble over a
couple of surly curs, that would gladly bask in the sun if sun there
were to bask in, and over a troop of dirty boys that are trundling their
hoops, and twice we stumble over orange-peel, lying on the pavement
conspicuously as if this were Naples. At length we turn to the left,
into a narrow street, and reach a small square of the exact dimensions
and appearance of a German back-yard. There are two trees quite lonely
behind an iron railing, and a door with the words "THE TIMES" on it.

A porter takes our cards; a messenger leads the way into the interior of
the building. Glad as we are to see the kind old gentleman who does the
honours of the house, and acts as _cicerone_ on such occasions, we can
do without him. We propose trying the trick of the _diable boiteux_, and
for the term of a day and a night to watch the proceedings of the
editorial department of the _Times_ for the benefit of foreign
journalists generally, whose introductions procure them admission to
the printing-office only.

It is ten minutes past eleven o'clock. Mr. M. M.--the manager, the
factotum, the soul, and, at the same time, the sovereign of the
_Times_--has been in his office these ten minutes. We were detained by
that wretched wheeler.

The soul, then, of the _Times_ has taken his place in the editorial
body. Who is this "manager," and what are his functions?

Mr. Walter founded the _Times_; he reared it, fostered and organised it,
and gave it the stamina by means of which it has reached its height of
power. It was he who first attempted the use of machinery; he invented a
new system of composing the type; he was a writer on the paper, and, in
extreme cases, he has been known to act as compositor. His was a
universal genius, and one of no mean order. He died in 1847, and
bequeathed the _Times_ to his family.

The present Mr. Walter, the chief proprietor of the _Times_, is a member
of Parliament, and, as such, his time and energies are devoted to public
business. The care and the responsibility of conducting the business of
the _Times_ has devolved on a manager, Mr. M. M. This gentleman is
neither what we in Germany call a _redacteur_, nor is he what we would
call an expeditor or accountant. He is just all in all, being the
sovereign lord and master within the precincts of Printing-house Square.

A heap of papers lies on his desk. At his side sits the editor _du
jour_. What his functions are will be seen in the following lines:--

The editorial functions of the _Times_ are in the hands of several
individuals, exactly as in the case of the great German journals. But,
in Germany, each editor has his own separate department, for instance,
home politics and foreign politics, or the literary and critical
departments. They come to an understanding on the most important points,
and then act altogether independently of one another. Besides, they meet
frequently, and have plenty of opportunities to exchange their views and
defend their opinions. Hence they very often quarrel, and their quarrels
lead to frequent editorial crises. Far different is the case with the
_Times_, where, besides the manager, there are two editors--Mr. John
D---- and Mr. George D----, with a third gentleman as sub-editor. The
two editors take the service by turns, but they do not confine
themselves to separate departments. Each of them has, at the time he
conducts the paper, to see that it has that tone which has been decided
upon in council. However, we will not anticipate. Having here hinted at
the many merits of the editorial department, we continue to act as
invisible spectators in the _Times_ office.

We mentioned before, that a large heap of papers was lying on the desk
of Mr. M. M., and that the editor _du jour_ was sitting by his side.
What are these two gentlemen doing? They read the most important
journals of the day, take notes of their leading features, they talk
over the topics of the leading articles for the next day's paper; but
this is not enough. The material for the leaders having been selected,
they are discussed in detail; notes are taken of some of the more
leading features of the subject, and, if need be, the tendency is marked
out. In many cases there is no need of this, but on some occasions the
last measure is indispensable. The extraordinary and quick transitions
of the _Times_ are sufficiently known in Germany. The politics of the
_Times_ are an inscrutable mystery to most men, even to the majority of
Englishmen; but the simple solution of the mystery is, that the _Times_
either follows the lead of public opinion, or that it contradicts public
opinion only when--more far-sighted than its contemporaries--it foresees
a change; that under all circumstances, and at all times, it aims at a
special critical interest; and with an iron consistency, and in an
astonishing sobriety, it advocates this critical interest unsparingly,
to the sacrifice of every other interest. That is the whole enigma of
its seemingly changeable politics. It seizes with an unerring grasp that
which is profitable for England, no matter how pernicious it may be for
the outside barbarians. It is humane, constitutional, liberal, and even
sentimental in its views of foreign countries, if England finds her
advantage thereby; but it is also capable of imagining an eternal spring
in the icy plains of Siberia, if an alliance with Russia should happen
to advance English interests. It would even defend the slave trade, if
it could be convinced that the cessation of that traffic would ruin the
Lancashire cotton manufacturers.

The _Times_ has often been reproached with its sudden and unaccountable
changes of policy, and these reproaches have been made in England and
out of England; but surely there is a rigid political consistency, one
which sometimes becomes demoniacal, in this _Times'_ policy. It may here
be said, that the _Times_ has now and then advocated views which
certainly were not very advantageous to the interests of Great Britain.
Such cases there may have been; but then we have never said that the
_Times_ is infallible. With all its prescience and circumspection, the
_Times_ has sometimes been wrong in its views; but we ought to remember
that the very best editors are not omniscient, and that the strongest of
us are occasionally influenced by human sympathies and antipathies,
which stand in the way of an impartial decision. What we have said is of
general application, namely, that the leading idea of the _Times_
policy, which is carried out with an iron consistency, is the promotion
of British interests; that for the sake of this consistency, it is not
afraid of committing the most flagrant apparent inconsistencies, and
that this is the simple explanation of its mysterious character. At no
one time has the _Times_ been the organ of the Government or of the
opposition: it was always independent. On certain questions it supported
the ministers of the day, on others it opposed them; but it never made
opposition for the sake of opposition, and was unbending only in those
questions which really affected the existence of the nation, for
instance, in the contest between Free Trade and Protection. It may well
be said of the _Times_, that it adheres to no one principle, merely on
account of the excellence of its theory. Tried practical usefulness is
the faith to which it adheres under all circumstances.

In England, the _Times_ is the champion of gradual and reasonable
progress; while, in its foreign policy, it clings to old allies and
time-honoured systems of government; and the very _Times_ which the
English justly consider as a moderately liberal paper, is abused among
the liberals of the Continent as a moderately reactionary organ. While
Protectionist papers have, for years past, accused the _Times_ of
having given itself up to the evil genius of democracy and the demons of
Manchester: the Radicals of all countries, are fully persuaded that the
same _Times_ is in the pay of Austria, Russia, and of all the devils
generally. But the fact is, that the _Times_ is as little democratic as
it is Russian; it is as little paid by Willich as by Rothschild; and,
under all circumstances, and for very good reasons, it will always be
found to be rather Russian than Austrian; and rather Austrian than
French; and always, above all things, it will be found to the English,
egotistical; that is to say, political. To ask the _Times_, or any other
reasonable political paper, to take a general purely humanistic standing
point, and to ground its verdicts on the politics of the day, on the
eternal laws of the history of civilization, and of moral philosophy; to
ask it, in short, to write morals instead of politics, is absurd; and he
who can make such a demand, knows nothing whatever of the position or
the duties of a political journal. As well might he desire that
diplomatists should always scrupulously adhere to the truth, or that a
political paper, renouncing the interests of its own country, should
devote itself to moral philosophy; in which case, we would advise it to
establish its office in the most lonely island of all the lonely islands
in the Pacific. But to what regions have our thoughts taken flight! We
ask the reader's pardon for this monstrous digression; the temptation
was too great, and we naturally thought of the tendencies of the _Times_
while the manager and editor consulted about to-morrow morning's
leaders.

The consultation is over. A few short notes have been taken of its
results, and a sort of programme been made for every leader. Documents,
letters from correspondents, and other papers are added to each
programme, which is put into an envelope, and sent by messenger to a
certain leading article writer, who, a few hours afterwards, sends in
his article ready written. These leading article writers of the _Times_
are altogether in an exceptional position. At the German newspapers, the
leader-writing is generally done by the editor; now at the _Times_, the
principle is generally acted upon, that the editor should rather edit
the paper, than write it. The arrangement is thoroughly reasonable in
theory, as well as in practice. Every one is naturally partial to his
own productions. Who would quarrel with an editor if he prefers his own
article to other essays, when he has the selection among various papers
on the same subject. To save the editors from this temptation, and to
give them full leisure to edit attentively and impartially, they have
been mostly relieved from writing. There are, however, exceptions to
this salutary rule; and we understand that the witty and humouristic
leaders on local affairs, which, vie with the best of the French
_feuilletons_, are from the pen of Mr. M. M.

The leading article writers have the programme of their articles sent to
their respective domiciles. None but the editors know who these
gentlemen are, and what their position in life is. They never, except on
extraordinary occasions, come to the _Times_ office. They have pledged
their words to lay no claim to the authorship of their own articles, or
to reveal their connection with the _Times_. They have renounced all
hopes of literary fame; whatever credit is due to their productions
belongs to the _Times_, which monopolises all the honor, and bears all
the responsibility. Such an author has nothing but his pay; he has sold
his work to the journal; and with it, he has sold the right to change
it, to alter expressions, to remodel parts of it, or to condemn the
article altogether. The article is a piece of merchandize with which the
purchaser may do what he likes. If the writer ceases to agree with the
tendencies of the _Times_, he is always at liberty to break off the
connection; but so long as that connection continues, he is compelled to
submit the form of his articles to the critical verdict of the editors.

The editorial department of the _Times_ really edits the paper, while
our German editors only write and select. The former method is evidently
for the benefit of the journal, while the latter is more agreeable and
profitable to the writers. The system of the _Times_ requires what it
would be impossible to find in Germany--the power of enormous capital, a
gigantic city such as London is, and English characters, that is to say,
men, authors of first-rate talent, who will sacrifice praise and
notoriety, and take money in their stead. Is this self-denial created by
the mere desire of making money? Do the leading-article writers of the
_Times_ rather care for the effect which is produced by their
anonymity? Do they rather care for the cause which they advocate than
for their own celebrity? Are they perhaps more disinterested, and our
German literary men more selfish? Is the greater moral excellence to be
found here or on the other side of the channel? These are delicate
questions, which we will not here discuss. It will be seen, from what we
have said, that the rule of the _Times'_ office is more despotic the
than journalistic government in Germany. We shall return to the subject
on another occasion; but for the present we turn again to the desk at
which the manager is sitting.

Besides the newspapers, he has a large heap of manuscript before him,
letters to the Editor, a selection of which always appears in the
_Times_. Their number is legion. The editors have received these letters
and opened them. They have condemned those which are clearly unfit for
the use of the paper, but the more important letters, some of which may
affect the policy of the journal, have been reserved, and are now
submitted to the manager's consideration. Old Mr. Walter was not indeed
the man who first introduced these letters into the English press, but
he certainly did much to favour this participation of the public in the
labours of journalism. In Germany, too, the idea has been adopted, but,
as is usually the case with excellent English customs, it has been
spoiled in the adoption. In England these letters form the most
important polemical part of the journal; in Germany they are on the
level with the advertisements. Their insertion is paid for in Germany;
in England a journal acknowledges its obligations to its correspondents.
The public take a peculiar interest in the press to which they
contribute, and a man whose letter is inserted in the _Times_ considers
himself in a certain degree as connected with the establishment; he
becomes its champion, and reads it with great assiduity and interest.
The authors of rejected letters, on the other hand, are offended; they
get angry with the _Times_, they abuse it, and from sheer hatred and
spite, they read it all the more eagerly. A journal can exist only by
means of half a world of friends and a whole world of enemies, if indeed
such an unalgebraic expression is admissible. It can survive anything
but indifference.

But, besides the material interest which public letters have for the
English newspapers, there is also a higher and more general interest.
Public affairs are more effectually discussed in this manner; public
opinion, uttered by private persons or corporations, finds a ready
expression; abuses are exposed; matters of minor importance to the
community, but of paramount importance to every individual citizen, are
brought forward examined and canvassed; and events which happen in
outlying parts of the country, in small towns on the coast and villages
on the mountains, where no paid correspondent ever lived, and whither
the foot of a regular reporter has never strayed, are expeditiously
forwarded to the great organs of public opinion. So long as the
insertion of such communications must be paid for, it is impossible that
they can be of any mentionable advantage either to the journal or to the
public. Of course, the introduction of this English system requires the
gigantic size of the English papers, but even in smaller papers the
editors may always make a suitable selection.

We believe that a favourable result would soon become apparent; for
local affairs, the events of the province, or city, in which the paper
is published, will always be most interesting to the public, because
they affect it most. Call it John Bullish, if you please; abuse it as a
grovelling matter-of-fact feeling, but you cannot deny that the greater
number of readers care much more for a letter on hackney coaches, than
for the most excellent article on the international relations between
Russia and Persia. But, for charity's sake, we trust our readers will
not misunderstand us! Heaven preserve us from the misfortune that our
German journals should become unmindful of Russia, while they discuss
their local affairs! But surely a way might be found of doing the one
without neglecting the other. Even its worst enemies cannot accuse the
_Times_ of a want of attention to European interests, and of "_haute
politique_"; but the _Times_ is, nevertheless, the most conscientious
and indefatigable _local_ journal of London. Nor is it ashamed to follow
up an article on the French empire, with another article, and one which
displays as much genius, on the overgrown bulk of the Aldermen, or the
sewers of Houndsditch.

This letter, then, and this, and this, and those two, will go in
to-morrow; the rest find a temporary asylum on the floor. A few are
reserved for further consideration. The manager casts a glance at the
foreign letters, which have come by the morning mails. This done, the
editor leaves him, and devotes himself to the details of his particular
department. The consultation, and the perusal of so many papers, have
taken a couple of hours. The editor may, by this time, leave the office,
but the manager has a great many things to do before his day's work is
over. To him belongs the correspondence with the foreign agents and
correspondents of the journal, and with the leader-writers, whose
accounts he settles. He has to see the sub-editor, who superintends the
technical department of the management, and he has to listen to that
gentleman's report. He sees the printer, who gives a general account of
the sale of the _Times_ on that particular day. The cashier makes his
appearance, with the totals of yesterday's accounts, and the sums
realised from the sale of the paper, the insertion of advertisements,
and the exact amount of the duty on stamps and advertisements, which has
been paid to the state. The manager has to take notes of the net results
of all these accounts. By this time, it is five o'clock, and another
editor makes his appearance. There is always some topic to be discussed;
some event on which it is necessary to come to an understanding; some
motion before the House, and some debate coming off in the course of the
evening, on which it is necessary to say a few words. The manager's
labours are ended with this consultation; he leaves the office. From
five to nine o'clock, the current business is discharged by one of the
editors. He reads the leaders and reports which have been sent in; he
transmits them to the printing-office, and receives all letters,
parcels, and messages that arrive. There is always plenty of work to be
got through--quite enough, and sometimes too much for one man. The
editor who transacted the current business of the morning arrives at
nine o'clock to share the labours of his colleague, and remains a longer
or shorter period, according to the heaviness of the night. But one of
the two gentlemen never leaves the office until the journal is ready for
press, when he gives it the _Imprimatur_. Besides, he issues
instructions as to the number of copies to be struck off. There is no
fixed number, and the impression varies according to the greater or
less interest of the contents of such day's _Times_.

But what business--so will German readers ask--can detain an editor
until late at night? The German _redacteurs_ work scarcely ever up to
midnight; the French _redacteurs_ get through their labours by eight or
nine o'clock in the evening. Why should English editors be at their post
until three or four o'clock in the morning?

Besides the arrival of telegraphic despatches at almost any hour in the
course of the night, the English editors are detained by parliamentary
business. The reports from the House of Commons come in in batches
sometimes as late as two or three o'clock in the morning. The parcels
from the provinces and from Ireland arrive with the last trains by ten
or eleven o'clock. The provincial reports are usually shortened; this
duty devolves upon some decrepit reporter, the results of whose labours
are submitted to the approval of the editors. They have moreover to
receive persons who call on urgent business, members of Parliament, who
wish to correct the proofs of their speeches, or who desire still
further to expound their views to the editor to prevent the possibility
of misunderstanding; schemers who rush in with some patent invention
which will remove all the evils that flesh is heir to, and a host of
strange customers of every country and of every degree. In short, an
editor of the _Times_ is not tempted to imitate Lord Byron, and to
publish "Hours of Idleness." It is very often four o'clock before the
last of them hails a cab and hurries off to his house in the far west.

We cannot allow our readers to follow his example. We detain them in the
_Times'_ office, and propose taking them to Westminster, on a tour of
enquiry into the manners and customs of the English reporters.

And here it may be as well to remark, that an English reporter has an
important position in literary circles, as well as in the estimation of
his own journal; that the name of _reporter_ applies strictly to the
gentlemen who report the Parliamentary debates; and that, for the proper
discharge of these functions, it requires journalistic abilities of no
common order, great versatility, and an intimate knowledge of public
affairs and public men.

Let us make an excursion to Westminster; a Hansom cab will take us in a
quarter of an hour. We get out at a provisional boarded gate, which
leads to the reporters' gallery, walk through a court-yard, which is
full of bricks and mortar, enter a gothic door to the left, mount a
couple of flights of stairs, open a glass door, and enter a small room,
in which there is a very large fire. This room, and the stairs and
corridors, are lighted with gas, even at mid-day; for it is one among
the practical beauties of Westminster Palace, that the working-rooms of
the reporters have scarcely any daylight. The architect, however, has
done all in his power to indemnify them for the faults of his design.
Their rooms are as comfortable as can be; and nowhere, either in Germany
or France, is so much careful attention bestowed on the convenience of
the press. There is a good reason why there is so large a fire in the
little room we have entered. It is the ante-chamber, and also the
refectory of the reporters. It contains a table, on which are sundry
dishes of meat and pastry--not at all a Lucullian supper, but quite
enough for a frugal journalist, who has no ambition to dine at the table
of the Parliamentary _Restaurant_. Some pots and kettles are on the hob
by the fire, in which the water simmers and seethes most comfortably,
inviting all hearers to a cup of tea or coffee. On a wooden bench by the
door sit two very sleepy boys, half roasted by the fire, and waiting for
manuscript. Two gentlemen, with their hats on, are seated at the table;
they converse in a low voice, and drink tea from very large cups; they
are reporters, just off their turn. Other reporters come in and go out;
the little glass door is continually opening and shutting; and the
servant, too, who presides over these localities, and makes politics and
coffee, is never idle, for he has many masters. In spite of all this
going and coming, the little room is comfortable, and it is very
pleasant to sit and chat in it. These English reporters are altogether
stately and serious men; in many instances, their whiskers are grey with
age and their heads bald. No green-horns are they; no young fellows,
who practise writing in the gallery. Such an Englishman, with his long
legs and his smooth-shaved face, has always a solid appearance, no
matter whether he be a journalist or a drayman. I believe that kind of
thing is the result of race of blood, and of education.

A narrow corridor leads from the ante-chamber to a set of two rooms,
which communicate with the gallery of the House by means of another
corridor. All these rooms and corridors are covered with thick carpets;
green morocco-covered sofas are drawn up against the oak-panelled walls;
writing-tables are placed in the window niches; large fires burn in
marble chimneys; an air of substantial comfort pervades the whole. In
the panelled walls there are, moreover, closets, for the reporters to
put their great coats and papers in; and a small apartment at the side
of the large rooms is devoted to a washing apparatus--large marble
basins, with a plentiful supply of hot and cold water. The English love
to have numbers of these in their public and private buildings; on the
Continent they are painfully struck with the absence of these helps to
cleanliness; and they mention the carelessness or indifference of our
countrymen in this respect in terms of the most unqualified reprobation.

There is not much to be said of the reporters' gallery. It fills the
narrow side of the house, and is just below the ladies' gallery and
above the Speaker's chair. It has two rows of seats, scarcely more than
four-and-twenty, and attached to each seat is a comfortable desk.

None but the reporters of the great London papers are admitted to this
gallery. Not only the public generally but also the reporters of
provincial journals are excluded, solely from the want of space to
accommodate them. The admission of Foreign journalists is therefore
quite out of the question. Demands to this effect when made have been
met with a determined, though polite, refusal. If it be considered that
there are four-and-twenty seats in this gallery, that each of the great
London journals has, on an average, about twelve reporters, and that the
aggregate number of reporters amounts to above eighty, it will be
admitted that the complaints about want of space are well founded. The
functions of the staff of reporters, the division of their labours, and
the manner in which they discharge their duties, may best be learned
from an inquiry into the organisation of the _Times_ staff of reporters;
for the Parliamentary corps of the other papers are fashioned after its
model.

The _Times_ keeps a staff of from twelve to sixteen reporters to record
the proceedings of the two houses. Some of them are engaged for the
Parliamentary session only. The majority of them are young barristers,
whom the connexion with the great journal enables to follow up their
legal career, and who have, moreover, the advantage of that thorough
training which young lawyers obtain in the gallery. Others have annual
engagements, they are the "Old Guard" of the _Times_, on whose
efficiency it can rely as on the working of its printing machines. After
the session the corps is scattered to all the four corners of the globe;
the barristers repair to their chambers in the Inns of Court and live
upon the gains of their summer's labours. A few of the old guard remain
in London at the disposal of the journal, which requires their services
to attend large meetings, or the progress of the Queen through Scotland.
The rest take their ease in the provinces, the public libraries, in
their families, or on the continents of Europe, Africa, Asia, or
America. A true John Bull, say all the English, has always some
reasonable object in view, however mad his proceedings may appear to the
outside barbarians.

An elderly, grey-haired gentleman--the summary man--forms an important
addition to the Parliamentary staff. It is his duty to prepare those
condensed reports of the sitting, which may be found in every English
journal. He ought to attend in his place from first to last, that the
summary may come into the printer's hands immediately after the house is
up. His relative position to the other reporters is that of a corporal
to the privates. And since we have alluded to military grades and
dignities, we propose at once to introduce our readers to the captain of
the corps, Mr. Charles Dod, editor of the famous _Parliamentary
Companion_, who commands the Parliamentary corps of the _Times_, and
whose authority is acknowledged by all the reporters of the London
journals generally.

Mr. Dod must excuse the curiosity of foreigners, and permit us to
inspect him and the corps under his command. Mr. Dod then is an amiable
gentleman, who has the whole of the Parliamentary history of Great
Britain at his fingers' ends, and whom many honourable members, young
and old, might consult with the greatest advantage.

To the _Times_, Mr. Dod is in the house what the manager is in the
office; he manages every thing connected with Parliamentary matters; he
publishes to his corps the day and hour of the next sitting. At one time
he may be seen in the gallery, helping and instructing the less
experienced among his corps; on other occasions, he finds his way into
the House to procure some document or statistical return from the
members or the clerks. Anon he hurries to the _Times'_ office to read,
shorten, and edit the copy sent in by the reporters, in short, on a
heavy Parliamentary night, Mr. Charles Dod is everywhere and nowhere,
that is to say, he is always rushing from Westminster to the _Times'_
office and back again.

He generally divides his corps into two detachments. The young reporters
take the upper house, the old guard do duty in the House of Commons,
whose sittings are longer, while its motions and speeches are of greater
importance, and its debates more intricate. In either house it is a rule
that reporters relieve one another by turns, from half-hour to
half-hour. Mr. H., for instance, takes his seat at the commencement of
the sitting with Mr. C. who comes next by his side. The first thirty
minutes over, Mr. H. retires; Mr. C. takes his seat, and Mr. R. takes
the place which has just been vacated by Mr. C. The summary-man takes a
position in the rear. To-morrow evening the turn commences where it left
off this night, so that each reporter has an equal share of the work.

But how does Mr. H. employ his time after his half-hour's turn in the
gallery? He has about two hours until his next turn, but a few minutes
only of these two hours can he devote to relaxation. A cab stands ready
for the use of the reporters. He proceeds to the city and his desk in
the reporter's room of the _Times'_ office, where he converts his
"notes" into "copy." This process takes about an hour or an hour and a
quarter for every turn of half-an-hour. If his report be a verbatim
report--and such must be made should an important man speak on an
important question--the writing it out takes more time. Every thing
depends on the character of the sitting, but if the labour threatens to
become overwhelming Mr. Dod interferes, and sends for reinforcements
from the gallery of the House of Lords.

The "copy" having been prepared by the reporter, and put in type in the
printing-rooms, proofs, struck off on long, narrow slips of paper, are
sent into the editorial sanctum, where the matter, already condensed by
the reporters, is frequently subjected to further condensation; and Mr.
Dod, who makes his appearance from time to time, assists in this
process. The proofs thus edited are corrected, struck off again and
submitted to the writer of Parliamentary leaders, who, on all important
occasions, attends in the House itself, and who in the dawn of morning
commences his article on the debate which has just been closed. A few
hours later that article is in the hands of the London public, while
express trains hurry it to the most distant parts of the empire.

If the house sits until two o'clock in the morning, the labours of the
last reporter, of the Parliamentary leader-writer, and of one of the
editors, are protracted until three and sometimes four o'clock. This is
hard work, harder than continental journalists ever dream of. But it is
the same in all professions! An Englishman, no matter whether he be a
tradesman, or a merchant, or a journalist, never thinks of doing things
by halves, because in this country things cannot and must not be done by
halves. No country in the world offers so wide a sphere for a man's
talents and activity as England does, provided he has energy,
perseverance, and resignation. An English reporter in his holidays,
stretching his long legs on the banks of the lake of Zürich, is an
enviable personage in the eyes of a German journalist. Of course, no one
can tell how hard he has been at work these nine months.

It is four o'clock, A.M. We have passed fourteen hours at the _Times'_
office. The labour is now left to the printers; and the two large
machines which finish 10,000 copies per hour. But weary though our
readers may be, we cannot allow them to depart, for there are many
matters which require mentioning.

Hitherto we have spoken of the Parliamentary corps only. But there are
other reporters in the service of the _Times_ and of other great
journals, to whom we must devote a couple of pages.

Among these are the standing reporters in London, who are occasionally
employed as "outsiders," but who generally work in the office. They make
extracts from English and Foreign journals, and write reports on
colonial affairs. There are also reporters on music and the drama, while
the reviewing of books claims the services of a third critic. There are
few special reporters for the proceedings of the law courts. These
reports are generally sent in by barristers who practise in these
courts.

The police-reports, too, are not furnished by special reporters; but the
_Times_ and the other London journals take them from a man who keeps his
own police-court corps, and who, in his relations with the papers which
employ him, is personally responsible for the correctness of the
reports.

The records of local events and accidents are furnished by the so-called
penny-a-liners, those vagrant journalists, who are up by day and by
night, and who are present at all the police-stations, who always come
in time to witness the perpetration of some "Horrible Murder," and who
hasten along with the fire-engines to the scene of every "Extensive
Conflagration," taking notes, which they make as long and as interesting
as they possibly can, and selling them to the various journals. They are
strange persons, active, acute, and seasoned. They flourish during the
recess; for at that time the London journals are not too choice in their
selection of matter; and at that time they make large sums of money from
the sale of their "Atrocious Murders," "Extensive Conflagrations," and
"Extraordinary Friendships" between "dogs, rabbits, and water-rats," or
from their chance reports of the proceedings and public addresses of
some successful French philanthropist. If the editors did not most
ruthlessly cut down their lengthy contributions, the business of the
penny-a-liners would certainly be most lucrative. As it is, many of them
manage to live, and to live well.

The last-named three classes of English journalists serve several or all
the papers at the same time. Their honesty is guaranteed by their own
interest; for they would soon lose their customers if they dared to send
in incorrect reports. In this conviction lies their organisation. It is
based, as every other profession or trade is in England, on the two-fold
system of material advantage and unlimited competition.

As to the organisation of the staff of reporters and collaborators,
especially at the _Times_, a great deal might be said that would appear
altogether fabulous to our German journalists. We allude to the strict
subordination in matters of the daily duties of the paper. We cannot,
however, enter into details which might possibly lead us away from the
subject-matter. Suffice it to say, that every _Times_ reporter should at
all times be fully prepared to undertake a mission to any part of
England or of the continent, and that he should not leave his home for
any length of time without leaving directions where he may be found, in
case his presence were unexpectedly required at the office.

We mention these matters only to show how strict is the
business-character which pervades even journalism in England. Besides
the business connection, there is but little of social intercourse
between the various _employés_ on a journal. The very reporters of the
_Times_ hardly see one another except in the office or in the House.
Their intercourse with the editors is strictly limited to the service of
the journal. They have to send in their "copy." What the editors may
please to do with that "copy" concerns them as little as the shoemaker
who sends in a pair of boots and is duly paid for them. He, too, has no
control over the use which his customer may make of them. The reporters
on an English journal sacrifice their individuality to the "Office" in
order to remain in that position to an advanced age, or, if they are men
of real talent, to create for themselves a free and independent position
in literature. They all, from the leader-writer to the foreign
correspondent, and from the foreign correspondent down to the
penny-a-liner, submit unconditionally to the authority of the editorial
body. They write in their various departments what they have undertaken
to write, and they send it in. Whether or not it be printed, whether it
be shortened, altered, or put aside as waste paper, is no affair of
theirs. What German journalist, even the greenest among the green, would
submit to such a "desecration of his talents," as our poor dear Germans
would call it.

And now farewell, O _Times'_ office, with all thy leader-writers,
editors, parliamentary reporters, collaborators, compositors, and
printers! Thy colossal machines move with a stunning noise until six
o'clock, when the press is stopped for a few moments for the insertion
of some late continental despatch. The steam is then put on again; the
hundreds and hundreds of curiously-shaped wheels turn faster and faster,
with bewildering regularity, and large broad sheets of printed paper are
heaped upon the board. The printing and publishing is scarcely over when
the editors make their appearance. With the sole exception of Saturday
nights, the door of the _Times'_ Office is never closed.



CHAP. VIII.

A Frenchman's Notions.

     DR. KEIF AT DINNER WITH A FRENCHMAN.--MONS. GUERONNAY.--GRAND
     INTER-NATIONAL CONTEST.--AN ARMISTICE.--SIR JOHN SERMONISES.--THE
     GLORY OF FRANCE AND THE DOWNFALL OF ENGLAND.--SUNDRY REMARKS ON THE
     OPERA AND THE BRITISH FEMALE; ON ENGLISH MUSIC AND FRENCH
     POLITICS.--SIR JOHN A TRUE JOHN BULL.--A CONTROVERSY ON THE STAIRS.


"Dr. Keif has got nothing to eat," said Sir John. "I say, Dr. Keif has
nothing whatever to eat. Bella, how inattentive you are to your
neighbour."

"But, Sir John," said his wife, "Dr. Keif is no infant. He will speak if
he wants anything."

"Nonsense, he forgets it. Dr. Keif, your plate, if you please."

But the learned Doctor is deaf to Sir John's warning voice. He is
engaged in an interesting conversation with his neighbour, M. Gueronnay,
from Paris.

M. Gueronnay is an elderly gentleman, with a youthful head of hair, red
cheeks, and preposterously black whiskers. He is grave of aspect; but
there is in his small black eyes an inexhaustible fund of good nature
and conceit. For the last twenty years he has every season paid a visit
of a week or two to Sir John, and each time he finds London gloomier and
more unbearable. In fact, nothing but his affection for his old friends
could induce him to leave the paradise of Paris for a week's punishment
in the fog and smoke of the Thames. But, however great his disgust may
be, he is amiable enough to conquer it; he eats and drinks as an
Englishman, laughs and jokes with the ladies all day long, and sheds a
few tears at leave-taking. To complete the picture, we ought to add,
that M. Gueronnay makes a vow every year to return as a married man, and
to bring his wife with him.

Heaven knows what can have happened between him and Dr. Keif, while the
rest of the family were eating their roast beef; but everybody is struck
with the fact that they talk violently, and both at the same time, too.

"Dr. Keif, your plate!" says Sir John.

"He does not hear you," responded Bella. "I dare say he is again talking
politics."

"Order!" cries Sir John, now for the third time. "Dr. Keif, M.
Gueronnay, another piece of pudding."

But the two arch-foreigners murmur an excuse, and turn again to one
another.

"Yes, surely," says Dr. Keif, "the sun rises in the West."

"You allude to the sun of the mind?"

"Certainly! and the West is Paris."

"_A la bonne heure._ Thus do we understand one another."

"Just so, M. Gueronnay; an opinion after your own heart, isn't it? What
I cant understand is, that the world does not settle down to sleep
quietly, since Paris thinks and acts for it. What more can be required
for the general regeneration of humanity than the _Journal des Débats_,
that is to say, the diffusion of useful knowledge--Madame Rachel, that
is to say, the art-education of mankind--and a few _Chasseurs
d'Afrique_, that is to say, liberty?"

"Not bad; you have French esprit. Well, you flatter us."

"Indeed," says Dr. Keif, very gravely. "Even the Paris _Cancan_, immoral
though it may appear, has, after all, decency and grace enough to
civilise half the world. Am I not right? And if _la France_ has been put
into the stocks, it is merely because she has been dancing all night for
the benefit of distressed humanity; her present misfortune is, after
all, nothing but a fresh proof of creative genius, which conceals the
profoundest of all modern ideas of emancipation; for, if you please,
whatever _la France_ will do that she can do. She takes the resolution,
in the face of all Europe, and in plain daylight, to lie in the
dirtiest gutter that can be found, and lo! she performs the feat. Alas,
for the blindness of the other nations, who do not also lie down in the
same gutter, and who will not understand that there must be salvation in
the pool in which it pleases _la France_ to wallow!"

"Stop! stop!" replies M. Gueronnay. "What does all this mean?"

"It means simply that the French are the most conceited, insane people
on the face of the earth."

"_Mais_, Monsieur, I am a Frenchman!"

"Of course you are," continues the Doctor, with a low impressive voice.
"You cannot deny that the French go on sinning on the strength of their
constitution! Pray let me go on. That they are a nation of spirited
fools, genial ragamuffins, overgrown _gamins_, and revolutionary
lacqueys, who can neither govern themselves, nor will they allow any
despot 'by the grace of God' to govern them for any length of time."

"Now pray let me have my say."

"And that, after their fourth revolution, and their third republic, they
will surely fall down at the feet of some Orleanist or Legitimist
prince; and after that, by means of universal suffrage, they will sell
themselves to some romantic hairdresser, dancing-master, or cook. I, for
one, vote for Soyer. He at least has learned something at the Reform
Club."

The most outrageous blasphemy, uttered in the presence of the
grandmother of an Anglican bishop, cannot have that dreadful effect
which Dr. Keif's words produced on the nerves of his neighbour. He is
first paralysed, then astonished, and in the next instance, angry. He
would speak, but he cannot utter a word, for Dr. Keif has seized the
wretched man by the topmost button of his coat, and in this position he
pours broadside after broadside into his ears, saying continually--"Pray
let me go on!" "Now do hear me," "I know exactly what you wish to say."
Poor M. Gueronnay! All his endeavours to escape are vain, for the Doctor
knows no pity for a Frenchman. His hand holds the button with an iron
grasp, until, at length, he concludes with the following _coup de
grace_:--"Pray understand me. All I wish to say is, that the
French--surely I have not the least intention of offending you--the
French are on their last legs, because the last particle of marrow has
oozed out of their bones by dint of lying; but that does not prevent
their being even in a state of profound degradation, exactly like the
Spaniards, Italians, and Irish--spiritual, amusing, and rather an
interesting nation."

"_In-fi-ni-ment obligé_," cries M. Gueronnay, jumping up and making low
bows. "How did you say a-mu-sing? _Infiniment obligé_, Doctor, your
German modesty is extremely complimentary."

"No compliment whatever, M. Gueronnay," replies Dr. Keif, rather
embarrassed; "nothing whatever but my candid opinion."

The Frenchman casts an epigrammatical glance at the Doctor, buttons his
coat, as if preparing for some grand resolution, and says with a loud
voice--"Sir, you are"--a long pause. Everybody rises from the table.
"Monsieur," continues the Frenchman, "you have never been in Paris."

"Certainly not," says Dr. Keif.

"That is enough. That is all I desire to know. _Enfin!_" and M.
Gueronnay, shrugging his shoulders in a crushing manner, turns his back
upon the Doctor.

This scene created a general confusion at the dining-table. Everybody
was silent. The lady of the house, whose profound knowledge of the
"_Dictionnaire de l'Academie_" commands M. Gueronnay's special respect,
has taken him to the window, and tries to soothe his feelings, by
assuring him that Dr. Keif is certainly wrong-headed in the true
Germanic style; but that he is, after all, a good-natured eccentric
person, and nobody's enemy but his own. Dr. Keif, meanwhile, with a
forced smile on his lips, and green and yellow with rage, promenades the
room. He is evidently not satisfied with himself. Sir John alone has
kept this seat at the table; and, enforcing his views by several thumps
of his dessert-knife, makes a very instructive speech on that
Parliamentary order which is observed at all public dinners in England.
Who could even think, while dinner is on the table, of conversing on any
other subject but the domestic virtues of the turtle, the sole, and the
salmon, the tenderness of roast lamb and venison, the bees-wing of port
wine, and all the other good things which are especially fit to
establish a delightful harmony between Whigs and Tories, High Churchmen
and Dissenters, Cotton Lords and old aristocrats? There's the rub.
That's what the foreigners will never learn; they cannot do a thing at
the right time, and poison their very meat with politics!

I dare say Sir John is right; but his speech is interrupted by the
coffee, which has greater effect upon the company than his practical
philosophy. Dr. Keif and Sir John take their coffee by the fire.

"Are you aware," says the latter, "that your remarks have been very
offensive to our French friend? We Englishmen can never approve of a
wholesale condemnation of any nation. If you had said those words in the
House of Commons, you would have been called to order; and I really
think there is an Act of Parliament--"

"Well never mind your Act of Parliament! the less you say about it the
better. There are examples of examples. You are always preaching manners
to people, and--. Never mind, just provoke me, if you please. I'm
exactly in a temper."

"But my dear Doctor, I really can't understand what is the matter with
you."

"Well, I'll tell you. People believe that a German's skin ought to be as
thick as that of a rhinoceros. I was not in the least angry, but merely
gave that fellow change for his five-franc piece. Just as we sat down to
dinner he said a few words which I don't care to repeat. In short, he
said that we Germans were not very likely to set the Thames on fire."

"Very wrong indeed," replies Sir John, turning to M. Gueronnay. "I'll
tell him so; he must make an apology."

"For God's sake be quiet! An apology, ridiculous! I'm ashamed of my
childishness, that his vapid phrase could ruffle my temper; but that is
what a man comes to. In Germany I used to laugh at our patriots; and
here I'm covered with patriotism as with a cutaneous eruption, and
irritated by the slightest touch."

"Nonsense, sir! Consider it is only the word of a Frenchman!" said Sir
John, almost instinctively attacking the weakest side of the sapient and
wrathful Doctor. "And I say a Frenchman is no one. But now be
reasonable, and shake hands with Mons. Gueronnay. I say--Mons.
Gueronnay! You, Sir! Confound the Frenchman!" muttered Sir John, with
earnest devotion, "Confound him, he _won't_ hear!"

The attempts at mediation between the two foreign powers are here
interrupted by George, the tiger, bringing in a letter.

"Dr. Keif, if you please, a letter from Mr. Bonypart."

A flagrant absurdity flung into the midst of a quarrel is, after all,
the readiest means to restore good will and smooth the ruffled tempers.
George's blunder makes everybody laugh. Dr. Keif is at once assailed
with many questions as to the "Emperor's" intentions. "Is it an
invitation to Paris? Is it a challenge? or the offer of a pension?"

"Yes, it's in his own hand," said the Doctor, and pocketed the
mysterious document.

"Is it, indeed!" cried the Frenchman, in a state of delightful
amazement. "Is it a letter from Louis Napoleon--pardon! I would say,
from his Majesty the Emperor himself?"

"Suppose it is, I can see nothing in it to justify your opening your
eyes to that extent!" said Mrs. Bella, with the prettiest imaginable
little sneer. "I'm sure Dr. Keif is by far more respectable than one
half of his majesty's old friends and companions. But perhaps you will
say Dr. Keif holds very strange opinions on the subject of the French
nation. Just so, Mons. Gueronnay. Your emperor, I'm sure, thinks even
worse of your countrymen than Dr. Keif does, and that's why he is your
Emperor!"

"Order!" shouts Sir John, "I'll fine you a shilling if you say another
word about politics."

"Hear! hear!" said the Doctor. "But I will explain the matter to Mons.
Gueronnay before I go. My friend Baxter has come to town and promises me
no end of adventures, if I--"

"Mr. Baxter!" quoth the lady of the house, looking up from the
supplement of the _Times_, which for the last few minutes had engaged
her attention. "Mr. Baxter! Really George is getting duller every day;
he mispronounces even English names. The fact is, Mons. Gueronnay, that
boy George cannot on any account repeat or remember a foreign name.
Whenever any German comes to the house and sends up his name, George
_will_ make the most shocking mistakes. He will not learn, and gives to
every foreigner the very first name he happens to think of."

"He takes them from the newspapers," said Mrs. Bella. "The Doctor is
continually teaching him politics. It's true, Doctor, you spoil all our
servants. That boy George is too fond of reading, and reading is almost
a vice in a young--"

"Aristocrat," adds Dr. Keif. "But I beg your pardon: lackey is the
proper word."

"In short," continues the lady of the house, "there is no getting on
with him. He turns _Schulze_ into Shelly, and converts _Fritze_ into Sir
Fitzroy. The honest name of Müller becomes in his mouth Macaulay, and a
Prussian gentleman of the name of Lehman is always announced as Lord
Palmerston. He is so fond of great names."

"Delicious!" cried Mons. Gueronnay. "What a subject for Scribe!"

"Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot wait for the tea-hour; for at nine
o'clock, I am expected at the cigar-divan in the Strand;" saying which,
Dr. Keif prepared to leave the room.

"Stop!" said Sir John, consulting his watch. "You've plenty of time;
exactly sixty-one minutes."

"How exact you English people are--punctilious!" We need scarcely inform
our readers that the speaker is Mons. Gueronnay. "Sixty minutes and one!
What Frenchman would say sixty minutes and one! Tell us, Mons. le
Docteur, are your adventures so very important that they depend on the
minute?"

"By no means! Nothing but an appointment of many weeks standing with Mr.
Baxter. We propose making an expedition into the theatrical quarters,
and I dare say we shall drop in here and there at half-price."

But the Frenchman cannot understand how any one can go to the theatre at
this unseasonable time of the year. He has always understood that in
London there are but two entertainments worthy of the notice of _un
homme comme il faut_: the Italian opera and the French theatre at St.
James's. But they are closed now that the season is over. It is true
that the Queen does now and then pay a visit to some of the obscure
English theatres; but surely she does that for no other reason but to
humour the national prejudices of the English.

The ladies cry out against these shocking opinions; but all their
protests cannot shake the smiling and gallant and withal obstinate
Frenchman.

"_Enfin mes dames!_" cried he, "you have not an idea of all you must
forego in London. You are very fortunate that you have never been at
Paris. _Par Dieu!_ Paris! It is there, _mesdames_, where the common life
is a delicious farce; every _salon_ is a stage; every apartment has its
coulisses, and every one, from the duke down to the portier, knows his
part. Your honest Englishmen can neither act, nor can they judge the
action of the stage. An English actor is an unnatural creature, exactly
like a Paris Quaker. Where can you find more passion for art than with
us! Paris has not half so many inhabitants as London; but it has more
theatres, and they are always more crowded than your churches. The
poorest _ouvrier_ cannot live without basking in the splendour of the
stage; he drinks milk and eats bread for _toute la semaine_, that he may
have some sous to go to the _Variétés_ or the _Funambules_ on Sunday
night. Show me the Englishman who would sacrifice a beefsteak for the
sake of a theatrical representation. _Allez! allez!_ You weave, and you
spin, you steam and you hammer, you eat and you drink, at the rate of so
many horse-power, but to enjoy your life, that is what you do not
understand. Am I right, madam?" The girls look at one another, and do
not exactly know what to say.

Sir John, in his easy chair, shakes his head and mutters, "There are
good reasons for the difference."

"_Ah ça_," continues the Frenchman triumphantly, "there are reasons;
but, let me tell you, the reasons are atrocious! First, a theatrical
piece would desecrate the Sunday evening, and the Sabbath must end in
the same wearisome manner in which it commenced. If you mention this to
an Englishman, he will make a long face, and say something about the
morals of the lower classes. Ah, surely the lower classes in England are
extremely moral! You can see that on Monday morning, when the drunkards
of the night before are accused before the fat Lord Mayor. One has
bitten off the constable's nose; another has knocked down his wife, and
kicked her when she was on the ground; and a third has been knocked down
by his wife through the instrumentality of a poker. It is nothing but
morals and gin; but, _Dieu merci_, they have not been at the theatre. Do
not tell me, because you have more churches and chapels than there are
days in the year, that your lower classes go to church. For the poor
there are no benches in your churches; your religion is only for
respectable people, and while they pray they rattle the money in their
pockets. And then there are thousands of Quakers, and Methodists, and
Latter-day Saints, who even on week days shun the theatre as a place of
abomination. How is it possible for a theatre to prosper? And lastly,
you are so fond of your fire-places and parlours, that it is almost
impossible to induce you to go out; and you have such a strange passion
for green grass, that you live far away in the suburbs, and want a
carriage to come back from the theatre in the dawn of the morning. These
dreadful distances are ruinous to the purse, and prevent all
civilisation. Let me tell you, _Monsieur le Docteur_, that your
admirable Englishmen do not monopolise all the wisdom of the world; but
let them go. I do not pity them; but I am sorry for the poor daughters
of Albion. _Parole d'honneur, Mesdames_, you would not regret it if the
beautiful dream of Napoleon were accomplished. Ha, what a merry life!
Fancy our great army landing on your shores one fine morning. Before the
sun is risen our gallant soldiers are in the city; they say, '_Bon
jour_,' they conquer, and are conquered by the charms of the fair-haired
Anglo-Saxon ladies. Our soldiers demand nothing but a due recognition of
their transcendant merits. You may keep your Bank, your religion, and
your Lord Mayor. France covets nothing but the glory of killing the
dragon of English _ennui_. Hand in hand with the fair sex, our
invincible army will perform the work of restoration. On the first night
there is a grand ball of fraternisation at Vauxhall. On the following
morning the liberators publish a manifesto, which decrees that there
shall be at least one French vaudeville theatre in every parish."

The girls on the sofa listen with awe-struck curiosity, and the
Frenchman continues his harangue.

"And after a few years, when these new institutions shall have taken
root in the hearts of Englishmen, the heroic army returns to sunny
France, saying, 'Now we understand one another, and now there will be
eternal peace between us.' The regeneration of merry England, by means
of Norman blood, will outlive many centuries. But if you relapse again
into your puritanical spleen, then we shall come again. And the
daughters of Albion stand on the chalky cliffs wailing, and stretch
their white arms after their liberators. How do you like the sketch? Is
it not chivalrous? Is it not full of the most touching disinterestedness?
How do you like it, Sir John? Do not be frightened, it is merely
_une idée_."

But Sir John is far too angry to reply, and M. Gueronnay turns again to
the Doctor.

"_Parole d'honneur_," says he, "it is a perfect disgrace, the education
of the women in England! _N'est ce pas_, even your German philosophers
must admit, that the Grand Opera is the cynosure, the academy, the
flower of high life--of elegance, _enfin_, of civilisation. _Eh bien!_
go to the opera, take a good glass, and you will despair. Beautiful
women, you will find in plenty in the boxes, in the stalls, and in the
gallery. But please to take your glass, and you will see they are
allmere raw material. A splendid breed, certainly--a little heavy
in the bones--large feet, but that makes no difference--but a
complexion--hair--flesh--tell me, am I impartial, or am I not? _Mais,
mon cher_, they are all rough diamonds. It makes one's heart bleed, to
think how this race of women might be brought out, and what a treasure
these brutal Englishmen are neglecting! I will say nothing whatever of
the toilet. Take a Paris _grisette_, give her three-quarters of a yard
of tulle and two yards and a half of ribbon, and she conquers the world;
but an English woman--say Lady A.--with her California of shawls and
diamonds on her person, has the appearance of a clothes' stand. But, as
I said before, I will not go the length of asking for a genius for
toilet. I will suppose that the light-haired marchioness, with those
superb curls, has the good sense to get her fashions from Paris, and
that, as a constitutional lady, she is governed by the advice of her
responsible French maid. She does not insist on having a scarlet shawl
and a light green dress with orange flounces, and a cavalry hat with
ostrich feathers. No; she is _bonne enfante_--she listens to reason."

"_Bon._"

"But my dear Doctor, all this is of very little use. Listen to me, and
let us confine our remarks to the light-haired marchioness. She leaves
her box. Her carriage stops the way. She enters it. Now tell me, what is
her behaviour? Throws she backwards one of those dilating, radiating,
dangerous glances, which one might justly expect of her--without which,
public life, even in the largest town, lacks all public interest; which
the fair sex actually owe to those around them; for after all, what were
women created for but to beautify the earth? But our light-haired
marchioness walks straight on, as if she had blinkers to her eyes; she
walks in a business-like manner--in the way of a student who enters his
college, or a clergyman on his way to church; and though she makes but a
few steps, I should know her as an English woman among the thousands of
the women of all nations. Not a trace of hovering, of gliding, of
jumping, or a little coquetry; nothing of the kind. If you meet her, she
looks you straight in the face, exactly as if you were a statue or her
husband. Be on your guard, she kicks! In sober seriousness, she raises
her foot in such a manner as makes me wish that I could box her
dancing-master's ears. Yes, yes, my friend, Lady A. commands my fullest
respect, so long as she sits in her box and conducts herself as a
statue. Her bust--classic! Her white hand, with long taper
fingers--noble--very noble--though a little too thin; her face, full of
_hauteur_! _à la bonne heure!_ in her large blue eyes there is even the
shadow of a shade of romance; and round her lips plays something like a
smile, which has caught a cold and is afraid of coming out in the open
air. But her forehead is a little too severe for me; behind it there is
a good deal of scripture reading and history, and details of the
money-market, perhaps even Latin and Greek. Her long taper fingers write
a firm hand; I am quite sure they can, without the least musical
scruples, hammer on the substantial keys of a Broadwood. Of course they
can; but do you know what these carefully-trimmed fingers cannot do?
They cannot move a fan! Do you know what this beauty, with all the
slenderness of her waist, and all the fulness of her shoulders, can
never attain? Deportment! She has two left arms and two left hands. A
French waist can languish, love, hate, smile, and weep; but this
beautiful English woman, during the performance, looks at the libretto
as if it were a book of common prayer. Now and then she raises her fan
like a screen; and perhaps in one of the _entre-actes_ she condescends
to a little coquetry. Such things happen now and then. You see how
impartial I am. _Mon Dieu!_ how awkward she is! _Enfin_, she wants the
_je ne sais quoi_. And, _au bout du compte_, one fine morning you read
in the _Post_, that such and such an accomplished and very chaste lady,
who happens to be the youngest daughter of a half-ruined house, has
eloped, that is to say, she has run away, with some red-cheeked chaplain
or groom. Don't tell me what the English are!" says M. Gueronnay,
drawing a deep breath, and wiping the perspiration off his forehead with
a triumphant look, as if he had captured the British fleet and brought
it to Cherbourg. "There is your Italian Opera!"

"But you cannot pay such singers in Paris," interrupted Sir John,
mustering up all his courage. "And as for decency and good manners, I do
not think they can be found in your Tuilleries. None but gentlemen are
admitted in Her Majesty's Theatre."

"Gentlemen--that is to say, black dress coat and black pantaloons; 'tis
a pity that wigs and hair-powder are not also _de rigueur_. If we are to
believe what the _Morning Post_ says, the ladies in the first row of
boxes fainted away, because a foreigner with a blue neck-tie had by some
means or other gained admittance to the pit. Mind he had paid for his
place, as well as everybody else. My dear Sir John, good manners are not
innate in you; and because you cannot rely on your instincts, you draw
up an orthodox code of decency, and observe it strictly to the letter,
as if it were the law of the land. A black dress coat is _de rigueur_,
black pantaloons ditto; but the dress coat and the pantaloons may be
old, dirty, and shabby. Only think, you pay your money and submit to be
schooled by a theatrical lackey. I would not submit to it, that's all;
none but the English, who adore the aristocracy, would ever put up with
such impertinence. But the foreigners are justly treated. Why should
they go to your Italian Opera House? Can they not go to Paris; and do
not Grisi, Mario, and Lablache also sing in Paris? We do not, indeed,
crowd all the talents of Italy into a single opera, because our ears are
not made of cast-iron."

Dr. Keif thinks it high time to mediate between the vainglorious
Frenchman and the incensed Sir John. "You go a little too far," says he.
"All English ladies are not like your light-haired marchioness, and
there are exquisite connoisseurs in music in London; but I am quite free
to confess, the powers of digestion of the public amaze me. John Bull
listens to two sympathies by Beethoven, an overture by Weber, two fugues
by Bach, ten songs by Mendelssohn, and half a dozen arias and variations
at one sitting, and then he goes home and falls asleep in peace. At the
theatre, a tragedy by Shakespeare, a three-act melodrama from the
French, a ballet, and a broad London farce, do him no harm, so great is
the strength of his stomach."

"A capital remark! I am sure we shall understand one another," whispers
M. Gueronnay. "The cry here is always for large quantities. The
Englishman throws down his sovereign and wants a hundred-weight of music
in return. _Mon cher Docteur_, you should come to Paris. Do not smile,
and do not allow our friend here to make you too partial to the English.
Sir John is the best fellow in the world, but _entre nous_, he is very
queer. But you, my dear doctor, you have _esprit_, you are not without a
certain talent for observation. Why should you rest in this town? I am
sure your eyes will be opened after your first quarter of a year in
Paris. _Par Dieu_, Paris! Does not the whole of the civilised world wear
the cast-off clothes of Paris? It is quite ridiculous your shaking your
head at our having got rid of our constitution; but in return Europe
trembles at our nod, and _enfin ça ne durera pas_. We may change and
change again. Constitutions of original Paris-make we have in plenty. We
have had more of them than England, Germany, and Italy--in fact, what is
there that Paris has not? Do you want religion? there is _Lacordaire_
and _Lamennais_; and there is the _Univers_--religions of all shades.
Are you fond of philosophy and religion? Go to Prudhon. To tell you the
truth, I myself do not care for philosophy and religion; they are
either of them _mauvais genre_. I am for civilisation and property; and
I should not mind seeing M. Prudhon hanged, but that does not prevent
me, as a Frenchman, being very fond of him. In one word, the world is
but a bad imitation of Paris. In Paris you find heaven and hell, order
and liberty, the romance of orgies, and the solitude of the cloister, in
the most charming harmony and in the grandest and most elegant form. But
above all," said M. Gueronnay, very impressively, "do not believe that
you will ever learn to speak the French language unless you go to Paris.
Impossible; you will never catch the accent. And England is the worst
climate for French pronunciation that can be found. Look at me! I, a
Parisian, still feel the pestilential influence of this English jargon,
which they are presumptuous enough to call a language, and whenever I go
back from London I am ashamed of myself, and dare not speak to the
family of my porter."

"Monsieur _Enfin_," said Sir John, as he accompanied the Doctor to the
door, "has been bothering you, but, dear me; what can you expect of a
Frenchman? a harmless fellow, but queer, very queer! You might make a
good deal of money if you shewed him in Piccadilly. At one time I took
some trouble with him, and tried to give him an idea of what England is,
but it was of no use. You cannot argue a dog's hind-leg straight. You
will never catch me quarrelling with him, that's all."

"It is the story of the pot and the kettle," said Dr. Keif, when he was
in the street. "Each one says of the other that he is a queer fellow."
Saying which, the Doctor smiles, without the least suspicion that he is
quite as queer as the rest.

It is past midnight when the Doctor returns from his nocturnal
expedition, the adventures of which shall be duly recorded in another
chapter. George opens the door to him. "The family have gone to bed,"
says he, "but the two gentlemen have not yet _adjourned_." Indeed their
voices are plainly audible in the hall, and Dr. Keif looking up, beholds
Sir John and Mons. _Enfin_ on the landing, each holding a flat
candle-stick with the candle burnt down to an awful degree of lowness,
in his hand. The case is as clear as daylight. False to his principles,
Sir John is engaged in a desperate attempt to "reason the dog's hind-leg
straight."

Dr. Keif came just in time to enjoy the climax of the controversy.

"_Enfin_--the less you say about literature the better. What English
author ever made a revolution?"

"I assure you, sir, Shakespeare--"

"And I assure you, sir, that, in my opinion, Shakespeare is entirely
deficient in power. No power whatever, _parole d'honneur_! Coarse! Ah
yes! he is indeed coarse. But power? Ah, my dear sir, where will you
find it?"

"And I tell you, sir, that your grisettes and lorettes and actresses
want _grace_, that's what they do. And why do they want it? To be
graceful, a woman should be decent, sir, and respectable, sir; and your
grisettes are not a whit better than they ought to be!"

"Good night, gentlemen," whispers Dr. Keif, as he passes them on the
landing. "Don't settle the question now; I should like to say a few
words about it to-morrow morning."

They stare at him in a bewildered manner, and the very next moment they
dispute as fierce as ever.

"Mons. Gueronnay thinks Shakespeare lacks power; and Sir John is
disgusted with the French women, because they want grace! Why it's as
good as a play!" mutters Dr. Keif as he gains his own room.



CHAP. IX.

The Theatrical Quarters.

     THE THEATRES.--THE POOR MAN'S SUNDAY.--GROUPS FOR HOGARTH.--DR.
     KEIF AND MR. BAXTER AT THE OLYMPIC.--TRAGEDY AND COMEDY IN
     ENGLAND.--MR. AND MRS. KEELEY.--MR. WIGAN.--MR. KEAN AND THE
     BRIMLEYS.--METHODISM.--A PENNY THEATRE.--THE PANTOMIMES.--THE
     BALLET.--THE STAGE IN ENGLAND AND
     GERMANY.--MATERIALISM.--DRURY-LANE AT 11·45 P.M.--MERRY OLD
     ENGLAND.--DRURY-LANE AT 1 A.M.


The space between Oxford-street and the Strand, the chief thoroughfares
of Eastern and Western London, is occupied by a quarter of the town
which, in many of its parts, we would not recommend for the residence of
strangers who desire respect and consideration from their London
acquaintances. On the other hand, nothing can be more interesting to a
curious traveller than a careful examination of this quarter. We say a
_careful examination_; for the mere walking through it on the occasion
of a visit to the theatres is not enough to exhaust this mine of strange
and curious sights. Of course, every stranger walks through this
quarter, for in it are the most ancient and renowned among the theatres
of London, namely, Covent-garden and Drury-lane.

Old and venerable houses are they, with blackened columns and sooty
walls, and surrounded with the questionable traffic of an equivocal
neighbourhood. A theatre in prudish London has not much good fame to
lose; these two have never at any time stood amidst the fragrance of
gardens or parks, or the splendours of a court. The flight to the west
has not been caused by them. But, strange to say, the modern smaller
theatres, too, are to be found in the outskirts of this half-genteel
region. The Lyceum, the Strand theatre, and the Adelphi, are in the
Strand. Most dingy and dirty-looking are the streets which surround the
Olympic. The Princess' theatre, elated with the occasional visits of
royalty, has sought an asylum in Oxford-street; and the half-classic
Sadler's Wells has gone far out to the north, into staid methodistical,
and humble Islington. But Her Majesty's Theatre, the favourite of the
greatest in the land, raises its colonnade in the immediate vicinity of
Leicester-square, the modern Alsatia of young France! Are we not, in the
vicinity of the Haymarket, before and after midnight, exposed to the
blandishments of those fair, frail creatures, that have nothing in
common with the Muses, Graces, and Fays, but their state of celibacy? In
short, is not the Venus vulgaris notorious for its predilection for a
half-fashionable neighbourhood! When, therefore, you date your letters
from Long-acre, and when, on receiving such a letter, the face of John
Thingumbob, Esq., experiences a perceptible elongation, and his manner
of speaking to you afterwards suggests to you the idea that he has been
_iced_, then believe, O stranger, that our respectable friend, John
Thingumbob, Esq., doubts not the safety of your own virtue, but the
stability of your finances.

In Drury-lane itself, the painted cheek is less frequently met with than
in the Haymarket; the deadly sins which revel in this classic
neighbourhood do not use paint, and scorn to employ the blandishments of
seduction. Their names are Poverty, Drink, and Dirt.

In the Strand, just opposite to majestic Somerset-House, and half-hidden
by the railings of the church-yard, which encroaches upon the natural
dimensions of the street, there is a narrow passage, which turns up into
Drury-lane. That lane, though of unequal breadth, is always narrow, and
numberless are the blind alleys, courts, and passages on either side.
The first and second floors of the high and narrow houses, shelter
evidently a class of small tradesmen and mechanics, who in other
countries would pass as "respectable," while here they work for the
merest necessaries of life, and, like their customers, live from hand to
mouth. A few of them are usurers, preying

[Illustration: THE GIN PALACE.

p. 267.]

upon poverty, coining gold from its vices and morbid longings. As for
the garrets of those houses, we would not for the world answer for the
comfort of their inhabitants. All the lower floors are let out as shops,
in which are displayed dingy dresses and articles of female ornament,
coarse eatables, cheap and nasty literature, shockingly illustrated;
thick-soled shoes, old clothes, awful cigars--all at very low prices.
But the gin-palaces are the lions of Drury-lane; they stand in
conspicuous positions, at the corners and crossings of the various
intersecting streets. They may be seen from afar, and are lighthouses
which guide the thirsty "sweater" on the road to ruin. For they are
resplendent with plate glass and gilt cornices, and a variety of
many-coloured inscriptions. One of the windows displays the portrait of
the "NORFOLK GIANT," who acts as barman to this particular house; the
walls of another establishment inform you, in green letters, that here
they sell "THE ONLY REAL BRANDY IN LONDON," and a set of scarlet letters
announces to the world, that in this house they sell "THE FAMOUS CORDIAL
MEDICATED GIN, WHICH IS SO STRONGLY RECOMMENDED BY THE FACULTY." Cream
Gin, Honey Gin, Sparkling Ale, Genuine Porter, and other words
calculated utterly to confound a tee-totaller, are painted up in
conspicuous characters, even so that they cover the door-posts. It is a
remarkable fact, that the houses which are most splendid from without,
appear most dismal and comfortless from within. The landlord is locked
up behind his "bar," a snug place enough, with painted casks and a fire
and an arm-chair; but the guests stand in front of the bar in a narrow
dirty place, exposed to the draught of the door, which is continually
opening and shutting. Now and then an old barrel, flung in a corner,
serves as a seat. But nevertheless the "palace" is always crowded with
guests, who, standing, staggering, crouching, or lying down, groaning,
and cursing, drink and forget.

On sober working-days, and in tolerable weather, there is nothing to
strike the uninitiated in Drury-lane. Many a capital of a small German
country is worse paved and lighted. Nor is misery so conspicuous and
staring in this quarter as in Spitalfields, St. Giles', Saffron-hill,
and other "back-slums" of London. But at certain bestial periods, misery
oozes out of all its pores like Mississipi mud. Saturday and Monday
nights, and Sunday after Church-time, those are the times in which
Drury-lane appears in full characteristic glory. A Sunday-afternoon in
Drury-lane is enough to make the cheerfullest splenetic. For to the poor
labourer the Lord's day is a day of penance or dissipation. The
cotton-frock and fustian-jacket are scared away from the churches and
the parks by their respectful awe of rich toilettes and splendid
liveries. For the poor man of England is ashamed of his rags; he has no
idea of arranging them into a graceful _draperie_ in the manner of the
Spanish or Italian Lazarone, who devoutly believes that begging is an
honest trade. Even the lowest among the low in England are proud enough
to avoid the society of a higher _caste_, though that superiority
consist but in half a degree. They consort with persons of their own
stamp, among whom they may walk with their heads erect. Church and park
have moreover no charm for the blunted senses of the overworked and
under-fed artizan. He is too weak and fatigued to think of an excursion
into the country. Steamers, omnibuses, or the rail, are too expensive.
His church, his park, his club, his theatre, his place of refuge from
the smell of the sewers that infect his dwelling--his sole place of
relaxation--is the gin-palace.

To provide against the Sunday, he takes a supply of fire-water on
Saturday evening when he has received his week's wages, for with the
stroke of twelve the sabbath shuts the door of all public-houses, and on
Sunday-morning the beer or brandy paradise must not open before one
o'clock in the afternoon, to be closed again from three to five. Hence
that unsacred stillness which weighs down upon Drury-lane on
Sunday-mornings. The majority of the inhabitants sleep away their
intoxication or _ennui_. Old time-worn maudlinness reigns supreme in the
few faces which peer from the half-opened street-doors; maudlinness
pervades the half-sleepy groups which surround the public-house at noon
to be ready for its opening; chronic maudlinness pervades the
atmosphere. And if a stray ray of light break through the clouds, it
falls upon the frowsy loungers and the dim window-panes in a strange
manner, as though it had no business there.

It is Saturday-night, and the orgies of Drury-lane have commenced.
"That's the way thou shouldst look," says Dr. Keif, hurrying forward to
the divan in the Strand; "that's the way thou shouldst look, thou _Citta
Dolente_, to awe us with thy charms. Oh for a Dutch painter of the old
school to turn this scene into a _Höllenbreughel_."

A dense fog, with a deep red colouring, from the reflection of
numberless gas-jets, and the pavement flooded with mud; a fitful
illumination according to the strength of the gas, which flares forth in
long jets from the butchers' shops, while the less illumined parts are
lost in gloomy twilight. If your nerves are delicate, you had better not
pass too close by the gin-shops, for as the door opens--and those doors
are always opening--you are overwhelmed with the pestilential fumes of
gin. The pavements are crowded. Slatternly servants with baskets hurry
to the butchers and grocers, and the haunters of the coffee-houses of
Drury-lane elbow their way through the very midst of the population--the
_sweepings_ of humanity. A wicked word this, but the only one fit for
these forms of woe and livid faces, in which hunger contends with
thirst, and vice with disease.

What subjects for Hogarth on the narrow space of a couple of
flag-stones! How ravenous the craving which flashes from the eyes of
that grey-haired woman, as she drags a slight, yellow-haired
girl--perhaps her own child--to the gin-shop! The little girl follows in
a dumb wooden way; but her small slight hand is shut with an anxious
grasp, as though she feared to lose her weekly earnings--the wages,
perhaps, of hard work, or still harder beggary. She stumbles at the
threshold, and almost falls over a couple of children that are crouching
on the ground, shivering with cold, and waiting for their father within.
The father comes, staggering and kicking the air, with manifest danger
to his equilibrium, and cursing awfully. The kick was meant for his
wife, a thin woman, with hollow yellow cheeks, whose long serpent-like
curls are covered with an old silk bonnet, while her stockingless feet
are contained in large slippers. She counts five copper pence in her
bony hand, looks at her drunken husband, and at the fatal door, and at
the costermonger's cart in the middle of the street; and she counts her
pence, and recounts them, and cannot come to the end of them, though
they are but five. The large oysters in the dirty cart, too, excite her
appetite. Which is it to be? the public-house or a lot of oysters?
"Penny a lot, oysters!" shouts the man, as he moves his cart forward. A
dozen greedy eyes watch his movements.

Similar groups are met with at every step. At the door of almost every
gin-shop you see drunken women, many of them with children in their
arms; and wherever you go, amidst the confused noise and murmur of many
voices, you hear distinctly the most awful oaths. It is not at all
necessary to quote those oaths. Let it suffice, that one of them,
beginning with a B, startled Dr. Keif's ears a hundred times at least in
his walk through Drury-lane.

"Adventure number one!" said Mr. Baxter, to whom our friend communicated
the result of his observations.

The fact is, Dr. Keif and Mr. Baxter are seated in the pit of the
Olympic Theatre, which is small enough to enable even a short-sighted
person to make the public in the boxes and the galleries the subject of
a physiognomical study. The "Caucasian population" of Mr. Disraeli's
novels may be seen in large numbers enjoying their sabbath. The pit and
the upper gallery are filled with sentimental cooks and housemaids,
intermixed with a sprinkling of females, to whom we do but justice if we
describe them as _lorettes_ in a small way. They enjoy the patronage of
a select assembly of beardless shopmen and attorneys' clerks, who treat
them to ginger-beer, soda-water, lemonade, and oranges. The curtain has
just fallen.

"How do you like it?" asks Mr. Baxter.

"Why I think we have seen enough."

"Wait one moment, I want to look at some one I know. Am I to understand
that you didn't like the piece?" said Mr. Baxter.

"On the contrary; I like it very much. There's nothing like a piece of
tragical clap-trap in your English theatres."

"Ay!--well!--just so! But then the piece was 'done' from the French."

"The natural source of the modern British drama. But never mind the
piece; it's the _acting_ which amuses me. Mrs. Lackaday telling young
Ronsay of her boding dream, and Ronsay pitching into her with a
declaration of love--you must confess that the scene would have done
credit to the most wooden marionettes."

"Yes, indeed! That scene was capital!"

"Was'nt it! The fellow stood there, like a big gun, until his turn came,
and then he went off! He turned his eyes upwards, that you might have
seen the whites at the distance of a mile; and he sparred with his
hands, as if preparing for a set-to with the moon; and all of a sudden
he stood stock still again, exactly like a gun, and the audience was
fairly enraptured! And did it not strike you, that the two people had
the same modulation and declamation, as a married couple of forty years'
standing, whose features have acquired the same expression, and whose
limbs have fallen into the same mode of movement? At times I am inclined
to believe, that the tragic actors, male and female, have been ground
their trade to the tune of one and the same patent barrel-organ. Their
pathos is set to music. They all delight in the same pause between the
article, the adjective, and the substantive; they all make endless
stops, and utter the word which follows with a kind of explosion. I
presume these poor fellows try to imitate Macready."

"That is to say," remarked Mr. Baxter, "they caricature him."

"But do you know whom Macready caricatures or imitates? I have read a
good deal about Garrick, Kemble, and Mrs. Siddons, and I ought to swear
by them, as you all do; but still I cannot help suspecting that, even in
the golden period of English tragedy, 'all was not gold that glittered.'
There is no originality. There is too much respect for antiquated
traditions among the craft."

"Certainly there is a good deal of tradition about it. But our actors
are not at liberty to depart from those ancient ways; and the slightest
deviation would raise a storm against the unfortunate innovator. The
taste of the public demands--"

"Indeed! and how does it happen that the period of the Garricks,
Kembles, and Siddons did not create and lead you to a better taste? Has
England gone back in education and refinement? Why it is just the
reverse. The art of tragic acting must formerly have been subject to
the same vices as in our days. What you say about the taste of the
public is a very lame excuse. I am of opinion that your English public
might be trained to a better taste; they are not fond of criticising;
their feelings are not used up, and they are eminently grateful. Their
taste is unrefined, but they are inclined to respect grace and dignity.
Look at Madame Celeste. She carries everything before her by the grace
of her untraditional movements."

"But then she is a pretty French woman," said Mr. Baxter, laughing, "and
pretty women, you know, will carry every thing before them. But now come
before the curtain is up, for Mr. Ronsay will certainly deafen us this
time."

"Good evening, Mr. Brimley," whispered Mr. Baxter, as we went out,
touching the shoulders of a young man who sat in the darkest corner of
the pit with his hat slouched over his face, his great-coat buttoned up
to his chin, and a large shawl tied round his neck, as though he were
occupying the box-seat of an omnibus instead of a pit-seat in a hot and
crowded theatre. The young man jumped up, blushed over and over, seized
Mr. Baxter's hands, and talked to him very earnestly, and, as it
appeared, imploringly.

"Adventure No. 2," said Mr. Baxter, when the two friends had gained the
street. "That tall young fellow with the red whiskers is a Mr. Brimley;
he is twenty-five years of age; he manages his father's business in the
city; he is likely to have £200,000 or £300,000 of his own, and he
trembles like a school-boy lest his papa should hear of his secret
escapades."

"What escapades are those? if it is a fair question."

"Perfectly fair. His great crime is, that this evening, for the first
time in his life, he has gone to the theatre."

"Impossible!"

"But fact. I know Peter Brimley, Esq., and Mrs. Brimley, and the whole
family. A set of more honest, respectable people does not exist between
the Thames and the Clyde; but if they were to understand that Mr.
Ebenezer Brimley, their son, had crossed the threshold of frivolity, and
placed himself on a seat of ungodly vanity, there would be more
lamenting and howling among the uncles and aunts of Brimley House than
there would be over a bankruptcy of the firm of Brimley and Co. These
people are Methodists, and yet Ebenezer the Bold has taken the first
step. Since stolen water is more sweet and intoxicating than brandy
honestly purchased, I am afraid Ebenezer will drink the poisonous cup to
the dregs. Some of these fine days we shall hear of his having gone off
with Mrs. Lackaday. Poor fellow! he has not the least idea that she is
on the wrong side of forty, and he is evidently much taken with her
painted beauties. Never mind, I will be silent as to the past, because I
have promised him. He wont sleep this night, I tell you, that little boy
of twenty-five, for fear lest some incautious word of mine might betray
the secret."

"Then it would appear that M. _Enfin_ is not, after all, so very wrong,"
said Dr. Keif.

"Nor is he; but your Frenchman cannot see farther than the tip of his
nose. The Puritans and low church people form a powerful faction in
England; but the round-heads, though great nuisances, are wanted so long
as there are cavaliers. And now let us enter this temple of art."

We pass through a low door, and enter a kind of ante-chamber, where we
pay a penny each. A buffet with soda-water, lemonade, apples, and cakes,
is surrounded by a crowd of thinly-clad factory girls, and a youthful
cavalier with a paper cap is shooting at a target with a cross-bow, and
after each shot he throws a farthing on the buffet. Passing through the
ante-chamber and a narrow corridor, we enter the pit of the
penny-theatre, a place capable of holding fifty persons. There are also
galleries--a dozen of wooden benches rise in amphitheatrical fashion up
to the ceiling; and, strange to say, the gentlemen sit on one side and
the ladies on the other. This separation of the sexes is owing to a
great refinement of feeling. The gentlemen, chiefly labourers and
apprentices, luxuriate during the representation in the aroma of their
"pickwicks," a weed of which we can assure the reader that it is not to
be found in the Havanna; but they are gallant enough to keep the only
window in the house wide open.

Just as we enter we see the director, a small curly-headed man, with a
red punch face, ascending the stage by means of a ladder. He makes two
low bows, one for the ladies and one for the gentlemen, and delivers
himself of a grand oration, to excuse some small deficiences in his
institution. At every third word he is interrupted by the cheers and
remarks of the audience.

"Ladies and gentlemen," says he. "I am sorry I cannot produce a _prima
donna_ to-night. Jenny Lind has sent me a message by my own submarine
telegraph, asking for an extension of her leave. You would not surely
shorten the honeymoon of the nightingale. Why, to do that would be as
bad as cruelty to animals. Madame Sontag tells me, quite in confidence,
that she is falling off, and that, although her voice is good enough for
Yankee ears, she wants the courage to make her appearance before the
refined public of No. 17, Broad-street, London. Mdlle. Wagner was at my
service, cheap as any stale mackerel; but could I insult you by
producing her? Would not every note have reminded you of the fact, that
she values nothing in England but its copper pence. Besides, the terms
of friendship which subsist between myself and Mr. Lumley--there are
considerations--I hope you'll understand me, ladies and gentlemen!"

"Question! question!"

"Maybe you are astonished that these boards are uncarpeted, and that no
painted curtain displays its glories to your eyes!"

A voice from the gallery:--"At your uncle's, eh?"

Another voice:--"Nonsense! His wife has turned the stuff into a
petticoat."

"How little you understand me, ladies and gentlemen. In the first place,
it is but decent that our stage should lament the death of the Iron
Duke"--

Interruption:--"No first place! Don't you try to be funny, old
feller!"--Blasphemy--groans.

"Ladies and gentlemen, pray listen to me. Let all be serene between us.
I have nothing to conceal. Ladies and gentlemen, the overture is about
to commence!"

The speaker vanishes through a trap-door, through which two fellows
presently ascend. One is dressed up to represent an Irishman; the other
wears the characteristic habiliments of a Scotch Highlander. They play
some national airs, and while thus engaged strip themselves of every
particle of their outer clothing, and appear as American planters. Some
one from below, hands up a couple of straw hats, which they clap on
their heads, and the metamorphosis is complete. They then go to the back
of the stage and return with an unfortunate "African." The part is acted
by no less distinguished a person than the director himself. His face is
blackened, he has a woolly wig on his head, and heavy chains on his
wrists and ancles; and to prevent all misunderstandings, there is pinned
to his waistcoat an enormous placard, with the magic words of "UNCLE
TOM."

The planters produce meanwhile a couple of stout whips, which
instruments of torture they use in a very unceremonious manner, in
belabouring the back of the sable _protegé_ of the Duchess of Sutherland
and the women of England generally, when all of a sudden, that
illustrious negro, exclaiming, "LI-BER-R-R-TY! LIBER-R-R-TY!" breaks his
fetters, and turning round with great deliberation, descends into the
pit. Exeunt the two planters, each with a somerset.

Transformation:--Three forms issue from the back door; a colossal
female, with a trident and a diadem of gilt paper, bearing the legend of
"BRITANNIA"; after her, a pot-bellied old gentleman, with a red nose and
a spoon in his right hand, while his left holds an enormous soup-plate,
with a turtle painted on the back of it.

Britannia, heaving a deep sigh, sits down on a stool, adjusts a
telescope, which is very long and very dirty, and looks out upon the
ocean. The gentleman with the red nose, who, of course, represents the
Lord Mayor of the good City of London, kneels down at her feet, and
indulges in a fit of very significant howlings and gnashings of teeth.
The third person is a sailor-boy complete, with a south-wester, blue
jacket, and wide trousers, who dances a hornpipe while Britannia sighs
and the Lord Mayor howls.

Now comes the great scene of the evening! Somebody or something, diving
up from the very midst of the pit, makes a rush against the stage. It is
the Uncle Tom of the last scene; but surely even Her Grace of Sutherland
would not know him again. His face is as black and his hair as woolly as
ever; but a cocked hat, a pair of red trousers and top boots, and an
enormous sword, brings it home even to the dullest understanding, that
this is a very dangerous person! Besides, on his back there is a
placard, with the inscription: "_Solouque_--NAPOLEON--EMPEROR"!!

The monster bawls out "INVASION!" while, to the great delight of the
ladies and gentlemen, he bumps his head several times against the chalky
cliffs of Britain, which, on the present emergency, are represented by
the wooden planks of the stage. The very sailor-boy, still dancing his
hornpipe, shows his contempt for so much ferocity and dulness. He greets
the invader with a scornful--"_Parli-vow Frenchi?_"

At this juncture, the conqueror becomes aware of the presence of the
short ladder, and mounts it forthwith. The boy vents his feelings of
horror and disgust in an expressive pantomime, the Lord Mayor howls
louder than ever, and the gnashing of his teeth is awful to behold; but
just as the invader has gained the edge of the stage, he is attacked by
the sailor, who, applying his foot to a part of the Frenchman's body
which shall be nameless, kicks that warrior back into the pit. The
public cheer, Britannia and the Lord Mayor dance a polka, and the sailor
sings "God save the Queen!"

"If the French ambassador could but know of this!" said Mr. Baxter, as
the two friends were pushing their way out through a crowd of new
comers. "That one kick would give rise to half a dozen diplomatic notes.
Alas, for the liberties of Old England! Now I am sure the Lord
Chamberlain's deputy would never have permitted this scene in a
Drury-lane pantomime."

"I'm glad of it," said Dr. Keif, testily, "since it seems to hurt you,
who are a moderate Tory. But why did we go away?"

"It was so hot. But what do you say to this sort of thing? Here you have
the low and the uneducated in raptures with a histrionic representation.
Are you still of opinion, that the people of England are without
dramatic affinities and theatrical instincts?"

"I never expressed such an opinion. Just now we were talking of tragic
acting; but as for your comic actors, they are exquisite. No one can
equal Matthews at the Lyceum or Mrs. Keeley. There you have natural
freshness, energy, lightness, and refinement. Our German comic plays and
actors are nothing to it. You see I can be impartial, and I will
plainly tell you what my impressions are. When I saw 'Romeo and Juliet'
at Sadler's-wells, I had to bite my lips to keep myself from laughing.
Juliet, instead of proceeding from an Italian nunnery, appeared fresh
from a finishing school at Brompton; the orthopedical stays and the
back-board were not to be mistaken. And as for Romeo, so great was my
confidence in him, that I would, without the least hesitation, have
handed an express-train over to his care; he was so cool, sharp, and
collected. It was just the same with Mercutio, Tybalt, and Friar
Lawrence. Not that they were deficient in mimic and vocal power--no such
thing! but because they conducted themselves in a frantic manner, and
because they got up and down the scale of human sounds from a whisper to
a roar. For the very reason that they did all this, I came to the
conclusion that there is no tragic passion in these gentlemen. I saw
them afterwards in comedies, and they delighted me. The broader the
comedy, the nearer it approaches to the farce, the more natural does the
acting appear to me. Dont laugh at me; but I never enjoyed anything so
much as I did the last year's Christmas pantomime at Drury-lane. There
you have plastic jokes, madness with method, edifying nonsense--a
kaleidoscope for aged children."

"How you go on!" said Mr. Baxter. "Don't you know that those pantomimes,
for the most part, are nothing but a tissue of stale jokes taken at
random from the last volume of _Punch_?"

"No matter! The jokes, however stale, strike one as new by dint of a
clever arrangement and a judicious intermixture of all the follies of
the season. It is not an easy matter, let me tell you, to translate a
printed witticism into an intelligible and striking _tableau_. Quick and
dreamlike as the scenic changes are, not a single allusion can escape
the audience: they are all executed in a lapidary style. Life in London
garrets and streets, shops and cellars, shown up in a sort of carnival
procession--surely there is a good deal of art in that! Hogarth might
have sketched this sort of thing with a drop or so more of gall; but I
doubt whether he could have surpassed it in striking truthfulness.
Besides I prefer seeing such scenes acted to seeing them engraved. These
are the plays to bring out the mechanical excellence of your
countrymen. Your young gentleman appears stiff and awkward enough in the
drawing-room. But your clown on the stage is the _beau ideal_ of
mercurial agility. The fellow has patent steel springs in every one of
his joints. Our own misnamed 'English riders' are mere lay-figures if
compared to the clowns which overleap one another in your Christmas
pantomimes. There is but one dark spot in their representations, namely,
the ballet. To see twenty or thirty female Englishmen of full
regulation-size dancing a ballet, is an overpowering luxury. To this day
I protest that nothing was farther from the thoughts of those worthy
virgins than the performance of a dance, but that their elongated legs
were so many geometrical instruments moving about with a view to the
practical demonstration of the various problems in Euclid. English
ladies, as all the world knows, are madly fond of the higher branches of
abstract science."

"You are a rabid critic, and a rabid critic you will remain to the end
of your days," said Mr. Baxter. "You Germans cannot get on without
classifications and generalisations. For instance, you think proper to
imagine a profound philosophy in the Christmas pantomimes, which, after
all, are acted for the special delight of the infant population. And you
dare to doubt the genius of Garrick, Kemble, Kean, and Siddons, merely
because you know that a few bad actors are now and then in the habit of
murdering Shakespeare. However, it is impossible to exhaust the subject
of the difference between English and German taste. Our tragedy is as
strongly pronounced as our comedy, and what you blame in the former, you
like in the latter. I am free to confess that our actors overdo their
parts; but they do not overdo them to such an extent as you fancy,
accustomed as you are to the contemplative, monological pathos of the
German tragedians. Possibly our heroes would be all the better for a
gentler roar, but certainly it cannot be said of them, that their acting
is soporific. But let us leave this wordy theme! There is no denying it,
that the best days of the stage are over, here and in Germany: with you
from the want of substance, air, and elbow-room; with us, from an excess
of overwhelming practical activity. Besides there are many other causes
which it is impossible to enumerate. There is but one point to which I
would call your attention; and I would have you mind it whenever you
make comparisons. With us, dramatic art has never been idolised as in
Germany; we have never considered it as an institution for national
education and an academy of ethics. Within the last few years only this
view has been adopted and enforced by some writers. I can understand
what your stage has been to you since the days of Lessing, and the
losses and wants for which in Germany it was an indemnification. But you
began at the wrong end. The drama is the flower of national life; you
sought to convert it into its seed and root. On some occasions you have
even gone the length of considering it the fruit and the object of
national life. You cared more for the ideal reflection than for the real
action which was to be reflected. It has often made me smile to hear
your æsthetical patriots clamour for a German fleet or a German emperor,
for no other reason but because these two 'properties' would do an
immense deal of good to the drama; and I have also smiled when listening
to their lamentations that Germany can never be great and powerful,
since her national stage is sustained by the leavings of the French
theatres. Our managers import loads of French farces and vaudevilles,
and the papers show them up for it now and then; but no one believes our
nationality in danger. As well might we fear the most serious
consequences to the power of England, from the importation of French
milliners, stays, and _Culs de Paris_."

Mr. Baxter made a short pause, and, since Dr. Keif would not speak, he
continued his oration _pro domo_.

"Let me tell you, that there are thousands of Englishmen in town and
country, who quote Shakespere as they do the Bible, but they know
nothing whatever of the stage; and there are patrons of the stage, to
whom you may demonstrate the decline of that institution, without
eliciting one word of reproval against the Foreign Office. In Germany,
the stage is petted and subsidised by a score or so of royal and
princely personages. English theatres are speculations, as all other
commercial undertakings; they have nothing to rely on but the support of
the public. The Queen takes a box at the Princess's, or at Covent
Garden; no one will ever expect her to do more for the 'national
drama,' or the Italian opera. The very boards which yesterday witnessed
the death struggles of Desdemona and the jealousy of the Moor, are this
evening given up to Franconi or a band of Indian jugglers. If any one
here were to lament this 'desecration of the Temple of the Muses,' he
would simply make himself ridiculous. The dog of Aubrey, which excited
Göthe's and Schiller's indignation, will be a welcome guest on any
London stage, so it pays. But for all that, the public know how to
distinguish between poesy and clap-trap. Our actors take their position
in society as gentlemen, though they have not, as your actors, the
'position of public functionaries.' Our dramatic authors do not indulge
in oraculous preface, because they do not think it absolutely necessary
that they should be prophets, while they do think it absolutely
necessary to be entertaining. A poetical entertainment ennobles; poesy
which is not entertaining falls short of its mark, and remains without
effect. I am free to confess, that Sheridan and Otway remain unsurpassed
in their respective lines. Shelley's Beatrice, though unfit for the
stage, has indication of dramatic genius of a high order; but one
swallow does not make a summer. Our critics regret this; but they do not
lament it as a national misfortune--they do not demonstrate from this
fact the spiritual and moral decline of the nation. They are aware that
dramatic productiveness is not to be had to order, that guano and
artificial tendencies cannot raise a crop; they have been content with
the works of Cumberland, Knowles, Bulwer, D. Jerrold, and Tom Taylor,
without measuring their productions by the standard of the most renowned
precedents, or abusing each individual author because he is not a
Shakespeare. And for all that, Old England flourishes in power and
glory. But stop, we have lost our way, and got into Seven Dials, which
is, after all, but a worse edition of Drury-lane. Let us go back. The
'Witches' Sabbath' must by this time be at its height, and we may as
well look at what is going on."

They picked their way through a very narrow and dark lane.

Dr. Keif heaved a deep sigh and said--"I see you have stored up a
lecture for my benefit. Your sallies and innuendoes go right against
the rotten side of our German hot-house life; but--but surely you must
admit, that the stage is an indication of the spirit and taste of
society; and certainly you are the last man whom I could have expected
to deliver this matter-of-fact sermon, to which I have just
had--politeness compels me to call it--the _pleasure_ of listening. My
Germanic opposition has driven you into the ranks of the Manchester men.
But surely you cannot possibly have the face to tell me, that the
one-sided, utilitarian tendencies of England are _beautiful_."

"_Beautiful_," replied Mr. Baxter, with a sigh. "Did I call them
beautiful? Surely not; but _necessity_, my dear Doctor, is a mighty
goddess. We, too, who are _dilettanti_, would be better off for
ourselves and others, if we had learnt something of agriculture,
political economy, or some substantial profession or trade. This remark
applies to nations also. What's the use of going in pursuit of '_the
Beautiful_' and '_the Great_,' when you are at a loss how to clothe
Beauty and shelter Greatness. Pray be candid for this once. Was it not
the case of the German Titans, when a mere chance, an earthquake, flung
the keys of the house within their reach? Were they not, most of them,
wilful dreamers, dabblers in politics and poetry--men who judged the
progress of events after its picturesque or dramatic effect; and who,
though brimful with schemes for the improvement of the '_people_,' and
overflowing with sympathy for the sufferings of the same 'people,' had
not the least idea how to set about gaining an army, improving the
finances, establishing the good cause on a basis of material interests,
saving time, and making the most of the favour of the moment? These
matter-of-fact virtues and abilities were everywhere wanting. And now
what has been the result for _the Beautiful_ and _the Great_?"

"But Sir," said Dr. Keif, "I protest your words make me giddy. Are you
my old friend Baxter? You speak in the spirit of the Quaker Bright, and
Cobden of plausible reputation. Do you really believe that the German
revolution made _fiasco_, because the Germans read Schiller and Göthe;
and that England is great and powerful, only because a sense for art and
good taste is confined to the favoured few, while the life of your
middle classes is spread over the dead level of the flattest
materialism imaginable?"

"You are mistaken. One-sidedness is a sad thing under any circumstances;
but if the choice be left me, I would prefer British one-sidedness to
the German. And as for our materialism, it has been wofully exaggerated
on the continent. England has a large family, many mouths to feed, sir,
and appearances to be kept up, too, namely, the traditional pomp and
splendour of an old aristocracy and of the crown. The nation has doubled
its numbers within the last two hundred years, but our island has not
increased in size, though certainly a large extent of waste land has
been reclaimed. Britannia _must_ rule the waves if she would keep her
own. Rob us of our wealth, and we are utterly lost. But no one can rob
us of our wealth, because that wealth is founded on what you call our
prosaical materialistic character, and what we describe as the
indomitable energy and calm deliberation of the people. The Englishman
understands the necessity of an untiring, practical industry and
devotion to that industry has in him become a second nature. Labour, my
dear Sir, civilizes the masses and ennobles the few. Consider your own
words, and just think how childish it is to hold forth against the 'flat
materialism' of a nation which is in a fair way of fully conquering the
elements and withdrawing the veil from the secrets of nature! That at
the present day utilitarian tendencies are predominant, even in
literature, who can deny? But the brains that labour in the service of
'the useful,' labour also, and knowingly, too, for the benefit of
humanity. Our middle classes, though not such great theatrical critics
as the Germans, are attracted, and surely they are improved by a great
many other sights. Just join the crowd of holyday makers that have come
to see the launch of a gigantic steamer in Southampton, Liverpool,
Glasgow, or Blackwall, and from a thousand sparkling eyes proud thoughts
will flash at you--not mere nabob-thoughts and gold-freight
speculations, as you Germans fancy; but anticipations of a better and
nobler future, hopes of peaceful intercourse among and the progress of
all nations; dreams of civilization in Dahomey and other barbarous
countries--in short, thoughts of which no art-philosopher need be
ashamed. Go to the Polytechnic----."

The fog has vanished in Drury-lane; for about midnight the London sky is
usually clear; the moon looks out from behind the steeple of St. Mary's
church in the Strand, and at each street-corner stands a policeman, he
being on the look-out. The progress of the two friends is stopped by a
dense crowd, surrounding a couple of Irish women, who are settling a
little "difficulty" of their own. Ragged little boys stand in dangerous
proximity, urging them on, and making very laudable exertions to procure
for the street the gratification of a "real fight," for hitherto the two
Amazons have used their tongues rather than their fists, and indulged in
an interchange of epithets beginning with _b_ and ending with _y_, and
repeated with extreme volubility an incredible number of times.

"You've got no pluck! you daughter of a dog's daughter, that's what you
hasn't!" shouts a little imp of a fellow, jumping right between them,
and splashing all the bystanders. With bursts of laughter and many
curses, the crowd disperses down the street and follows a stretcher,
carried by two policemen, who have just issued from a dark gate-way. On
the stretcher, her head and legs hanging down, is a tall,
consumptive-looking girl, with her hair loosened and sweeping down like
a black veil.

"They're taking her to the station-house," says a woman with a pipe and
a strong Irish accent--"taking her to the station-house, for the blessed
dthrop is such a stranger in her throat--poor Poll! believe me,
gintlemin, it's only hunger has made her drunk--only hunger!"

Through all the various sounds of yells, groans, and curses, we hear at
a distance the unharmonious concert of two barrel-organs, one of which
is grinding out a woful caricature of the Marseillaise, while the other,
addressing itself to the human family generally, informs them, with an
awful screech, that "There's a good time coming, boys," which cheering
intelligence is, in the end, qualified by the growl of "Wait a little
longer." A few yards on, a beggar-boy with naked feet, and with an
almost naked back, has taken up his post where the mud is deepest in the
road, and sings, with a thin, small voice, "Ye banks and braes of
bonnie Doon." Nobody cares for him, for the public are attracted by two
artists who are performing in the next street. They are brothers, by
their looks, and work together. The younger, a tiny boy with an aged
face, taxes the ingenuity of the public by conundrums, whose chief
characteristic is, that they are almost always political and smutty.
"Why is her most gracious Majesty like a notorious pick-pocket?" shouts
he, in a tone which would do honour to a trained school-master. While
the public are trying to find the answer, the elder brother imitates the
songs of birds and the voices of beasts. They all give it up. "Because
she is often confined," says the little boy, with a most indecent wink
at some females. And the songs of birds and voices of beasts are again
imitated, and conundrums of a still grosser description propounded and
explained; and the hat goes round and comes back with a few pence and
half-pence in it.

"And this is classic soil," said Mr. Baxter. "The whole of this ought to
be sacred to the antiquarian, to the adorer of the so-called merry old
England. When I shut my eyes--and mind, if I can manage to shut my ears
and nose too--I see Nell Gwynn, the merry friend of Charles II., with
very thin dress, and not much of it, and with her pet lamb under her
arm, walking out of the great portal; she vanishes through the green
gate in Lord Craven's garden. The rays of the setting sun gild the
curiously-carved gables of the villas in the Strand, but the cavaliers
are already on their way back from the play; and Kynaston, dressed in
the costume which he wore on the stage for the part of Juliet, takes a
drive with some discreet ladies of fashion, rank, and pleasure."

"A merry life, indeed!" said Dr. Keif. "Keep your eyes, ears, and nose
shut, and go on."

"Not now, dear Doctor. If you are curious on the subject, I will send
you some of the old books and chronicles of the time. You will find that
theatrical doings in those days, however interesting, are rather
instructive than taking. I dare say, you fancy the age was without
prudery, and there you are right; but the natural healthy cheerfulness
which we find in Shakspeare had long since evaporated. The period of
the restoration was insolent but not merry. That the cavaliers were
rude and brutal means nothing; the upper classes generally were rude and
brutal in all countries at that time; but ours added to a barbarous
brutality, a more than French dissoluteness of morals. Strange enough
were the doings of the last Stuarts. Fancy yourself in Great Russell
Street, following the troops of cavaliers and ladies, with long curly
locks _à la Vallière_, on their road to the theatre. As they leave their
chairs or carriages, or dismount from their horses, they draw their
masks over faces heated and bloated with drink. Almost everybody is
masked. The custom comes from the times of the Puritans, when people
went secretly to the theatre. The dissolute second Charles, with his
gloomy gypsy face, comes just in time to stop a brawl between the Duke
of Buckingham and Killigrew the actor. Killigrew has disarmed the duke,
and laid his scabbard about his grace's ears. Buckingham will send a
couple of bravos by and bye, and half kill the actor--a fate which even
poor Dryden could not escape. The play begins amidst the interruptions
and howling of drunken noblemen who occupy the foreground of the stage,
trip up the heroine, and kick the hero into the orchestra. His Majesty,
meanwhile, in the presence of his lieges, ogles one of his numerous
mistresses, or makes smutty speeches to an orange-girl, with a voice so
loud that it is plainly heard on the stage. That is a scene from merry
Old England!"

All of a sudden the lights are put out in the gin-palaces, the
barrel-organs are silent, the howling and cursing shrinks into a hoarse
murmur; and the multitude disperse gradually, like muddy water which
runs through the gutters and is lost under ground. The street is all
silent and lonely; only one tall figure comes with rapid and noiseless
steps out of one of the alleys. It looks round in every direction; but
there is no policeman in sight. It steps up to our two friends, and
looks at them in silence with staring glassy eyes. It is not the spirit
of midnight, nor is it a ghost; but neither is it a form of flesh and
blood, for it is all skin and bones. And the clear light of the
harvest-moon displays a half-starved woman with an infant on her arm, to
whom her bony hand is a hard death-bed. For some minutes she stares at
the strangers. They put some silver into her hand, and she, without any
remark or thanks, turns round and walks slowly away.

"The holy sabbath has commenced," said Dr. Keif, "the puritanical
sabbath, on which misery feels three times more miserable."

"My dear friend," said Mr. Baxter, "twenty-five years ago you might have
found the whole of Oxford Street crowded with figures similar to the one
which has just left us. If you would see them in our days, you must seek
for them in some dark corner of Drury Lane. And Puritanism in 1853 is
mild and gentle compared to the Puritanism of the Round-heads; it is
nothing but a natural reaction against the dissolute Cavalier spirit
which has come down even to the commencement of this century. In the
English character one extreme must be balanced by the other. Either
merry and mad, or sober and prude; we are either drunkards or
teetotallers, brawlers or peace-twaddlers. Of course, if harmonic and
measured dignity, if the instinct for beauty of form, were innate in us,
then, indeed, this nation would not be the persevering, hard-working,
powerful John Bull which it is; or if it were, we should shame your
German proverb, that the trees nowhere grow into the heavens. Good
night, Doctor; and '_au revoir_.'"



APPENDIX.



CORRESPONDENCE.


LETTER I.

SIR JOHN TO DR. KEIF.

HYDE COTTAGE, _November 15_.

MY DEAR DOCTOR,

Herewith I return the proof-sheets of Part II. of the "Saunterings in
and about London;" and I beg to thank you for them; although I know you
sent them less for my amusement than because you wished to procure for
me a sort of private view of myself and my prejudices as you call them.
Never mind! an English gentleman can afford to hear the truth spoken
anywhere and anyhow; and, if you promise to resign some of your Teutonic
crotchets, I gladly pledge my word in return, that I will never again
try to reason a Frenchman's hind-leg straight; for, after all, that
unfortunate dispute was the worst our friend could lay to my charge.

Now, as for our friend's book, which you tell me is to be published at
Berlin--the most intelligent and erudite of all the German
capitals--really, Doctor, I do not half like the idea! How are these two
little volumes ever to give the Germans a proper idea of what London
really is? A good many capital descriptions there are--but, dear me! how
much there is that is wanting. I tell you the very things are wanting
which would most improve the German mind, if your friend had but
condescended to notice them. Not a word does he say of our picture
galleries, incomparable though they undoubtedly are. The Bridgewater,
Vernon, and Hampton Court collections are not mentioned; nor is the
British Museum--nor St. Paul's--nor the Colosseum--nor Madame
Tussaud's--nor are Barclay and Perkins! He does not even mention our
most magnificent streets and quarters. Regent-street, Bond-street,
Belgravia, and Westbourne-terrace are most wickedly neglected by our
flighty friend. He has not a word for the monster concerts of
Exeter-hall, and he absolutely forgets that there are such places as
Covent-garden, Billingsgate, and Hungerford markets. The
Zoological-gardens, the Botanical-gardens, Kew, Richmond, Windsor, arts,
literature, charities--all are passed over in contemptuous silence.

My dear Doctor, I put it to you; if those places and matters are not
mentioned at all, how are the foreigners ever to understand what London
is? The people of Berlin are actually led to believe that we have no
picture-galleries and hospitals! Your friend might write ten volumes
without exhausting the subject. Don't you agree with me? We must have a
word or two on the subject when you come to see us.

The country is charming just now. Where, out of England, can you find
such beautiful green meadows, and so mild an air, in November? I walk
about without a great coat, thinking of the mountains of snow in
Germany, and of the wolves that make their way over the mountains and
into the very sanctuary of the Cologne Cathedral. It's a little damp now
and then--especially after sunset--but it doesn't matter; for in the
evening I have my fire and my newspaper. The fact is, there's no comfort
except in England, and in the country! Come and look at our cottage. The
children expect you; so do I.

                              Yours, etc.

P.S.--At this season of the year you had better take a glass of Cognac
in the morning. You'll find some bottles in the cellar. Before going to
bed take one of my pills. You'll find a box on my table. Don't be
obstinate. You can have no idea of the dangers of an English November.


                              LETTER II.

                         DR. KEIF TO SIR JOHN.

GUILDFORD STREET, _November 16_.

MY DEAR SIR,

I think of coming on Sunday. In the meanwhile I must give you some sort
of explanation respecting the incompleteness of our friend's
"Saunterings."

He might indeed, in his book, have mentioned all the remarkable places
and sights of your metropolis; but he could only have _mentioned_ them.
He preferred taking up a few strong features and phases, and expatiating
on them. Of course a great deal was passed over in silence; you, as an
Englishman, have the greatest right to complain of such neglect. But,
most respectable Sir John, pray do not forget that in this manner
mention has not been made of many things which are by no means agreeable
to British ears when commented upon by foreigners. A good many capital
descriptions there are; but, dear me, how much is wanting! I tell you
the very things are wanting which we Germans, I trust, shall never think
of imitating.

Not a word of your dog and rat fights. Not a word of the manifest
incompetency of the majority of your sculptors and painters. Not a
syllable of your unequalled musical barbarism. Not a word of the
stupendous prostitution--of the dirt--the dissoluteness--the
bestiality--in the lower Thames quarters and the Borough. No detailed
descriptions of your gin palaces and sailors' saloons--your learned
professions--the intricacies of the law--medicine swamped in
charlatanism--your High Church--your Low Church, and sectarian
fanaticism--your bigotted Universities, Oxford and Cambridge--the
narrow-mindedness of your aristocracy, and the snobbism of your middle
classes: all these matters are altogether left out.

My dear Sir John, you are quite right. It _would_ take ten volumes to
exhaust the subject. Between ourselves, perhaps you would not half like
it if our friend were to continue his "Saunterings."

London is awful just now. Where in all the world can such fogs and such
a pestilential atmosphere be found, except in London? The wolves in the
Cologne Cathedral are mere creations of your free-born British fancy;
and, as for the present absence of your great coat--do I not know that
Englishmen brave even the rigours of a German winter in check trousers
and dress coats? But they are cunning enough to don those respectable
habiliments over sundry layers of flannel. Have you left off your vests,
etc.? Of course you are comfortable in your country cottage, and I shall
come to admire you in all your glory.

                              Yours, etc.

P.S.--Your medical advice is valuable; I mean, in part, to conform to
it. I found the Cognac, and shall take it as directed. But your pills I
shall not take. I'm reading the French papers, and they do quite as
well.

                               THE END.
                   *       *       *       *       *

           J. WERTHEIMER AND CO., PRINTERS, FINSBURY CIRCUS.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

The greatest embarassment=> The greatest embarrassment {pg 49}

Friedrichsstrasse of Berlin=> Friedrichstrasse of Berlin {pg 12 x 2}

it so black and its columns are so many and so high=> it is so black and
its columns are so many and so high {pg 27}

appened in Paris=> happened in Paris {pg 50}

on the track of of some crime=> on the track of some crime {pg 53}

military acoutrements=> military accoutrements {pg 54}

has denounced been by the press=> has been denounced by the press {pg
65}

if it can done in a loyal and honest manner=> if it can be done in a
loyal and honest manner {pg 77}

it comes out it full, broad, and traditional glory=> it comes out in
full, broad, and traditional glory {pg 84}

Our embarrasment and silence=> Our embarrassment and silence {pg 131}

duties to to the amount=> duties to the amount {pg 138}

delicious eels, mackarel,=> delicious eels, mackerel, {pg 153}

second-class accomodation=> second-class accommodation {pg 170}

which is a satelite of=> which is a satellite of {pg 205}

is more despotic the the=> is more despotic than the {pg 238}

kep this seat at the table=> kept this seat at the table {pg 253}

Mons. Gueronnaay=> Mons. Gueronnay {pg 255}

he ladies in the first row=> the ladies in the first row {pg 261}

unlces and aunts=> uncles and aunts {pg 272}

sallies and inuendoes=> sallies and innuendoes {pg 280}

wofully exagerated=> wofully exaggerated {pg 282}

epithets beginnning with=> epithets beginning with {pg 283}

Marsellaise=> Marseillaise {pg 283}





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